As another year comes to an end, here are a few of my wine related highlights. Most of the wines are readily available and reasonably priced, I’ve also included links to some of the fabulous tastings and events I’ve attended.
A quick mention for our small wine circle Cuvée Reserve (please click on link and see what we do) for their inspiration, wit and knowledge and thanks Clare (our Administrator) for keeping it running smoothly, also thanks to wine writer Brian Elliot who Midweek Wines website has been a valuable source for discovering some brilliant everyday wines.
In the last year it seems like I’ve been drinking a lot more whites and most of what I tasted have on the whole been pretty decent, sparkling wines have featured a lot more with a real star and one of my hits of the year the Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose (see below for more details).
For those of you who haven’t tasted the delights of Spanish Sherry, let me tell you my trip to Jerez in Spain earlier in the year was a real revelation along with the Great Sherry tasting 2017 event in London. If you want to try something different in 2018, drink more sherry, from bone dry to super sweet it’s become a trendy drink with a lot more younger people suddenly discovering they actually like it and it’s not only for your grandmother.
Lastly the reds, probably what I drink most of and there have been a few exceptional ones this year, so read on to find out my discoveries most of which you can find in the high-street or online and all for under £35 and all worth every penny , so no overpriced and over hyped wines here.
Jose Periente Sauvignon Blanc 2014 £10 Majestic
Spanish SB, this is more of a cross between French and New Zealand as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.
Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.
I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.
Viento de Otono Godello £8.99 Lidl
Another Spanish beauty. Very pale straw like colour in the glass with pronounced heady aromas of tropical fruits particularly peaches and pineapples. there was also a whiff of nuttiness about it. In the mouth it was very dry along with a lovely creamy taste, again with peach, pear and baked apples. Still had a fresh bright feel about it and I loved it.
Not sure how long it will be on the shelves for as Lidl do tend to rotate their stock frequently but if there is a store near you and you’ve not tried Godello before give this a whirl, it’s different, as I said it does vary in style but this is utterly delicious. Well done Lidl wine buyers !
Chapel Down Bacchus 2015 £13 Waitrose
Rule Britannia ! In the glass it’s a very pale straw like colour with pronounced aromas of grapefruit, lemon, limes and something herbaceous. Once that first sip is taken you’ll be hooked on what tastes like fresh nettles, followed by grapefruit, grass and limes. It’s intense and very sharp. Some say it’s the English equivalent of Sauvignon Blanc and I have to say it has a lot of similar characteristics but with a little more of that bracing acidity.
Fantastically refreshing on a hot summers day, this is a quality wine and loved by my wife who regular readers will know is a staunch Sovee Bee fan, I for one will buy this again.
Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2015 £9.99 Co Op
I got a mouthful of ripe peaches along with a slight creaminess although still remaining bright and fresh. There was also a mild saline quality which i really liked. The oak was there but not over the top and it just seemed beautifully balanced.
Brilliant with food or equally as good on its own, this was yet another wine I was tempted to give that elusive 9/10 corks but just can’t bring myself to press that last number on my keyboard, so I’m still waiting for that special bottle but this came pretty damn close again.
Bellingham Chardonnay 2016 £9 Tesco
South Africa – On first sip this was perhaps a little to chilled and the flavours were more about the sharp citrus fruits even though they were fairly much muted, left to warm up slightly the more secondary notes of peaches and tropical fruits along with some vanillary oak and butter scotch came through giving the wine a better all round and slightly complex taste.
This can be enjoyed with food or equally enjoyed on its own, just remember not to over chill it and you will be rewarded with a brilliant wine unless you happen not to like rich tasting Chardonnay.
Greywackey Sauvignon Blanc 2016 £20 Majestic
From the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd. Tasted this with friends and from the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. Greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning.
Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.
Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose Various around £35
Don’t really do Rose but I was completely surprised and blown away by how good this was.
Lovely salmon like colour and heady aromas of fresh red cherries, strawberries and cream. Again lively mousse, with a steady stream of fine bubbles. On first sip I was sold on the intense cherry and cranberry flavour with balanced acidity and creamy finish with a hint of sweetness, lovely stuff.
**One of my wines of the year** English Fizz at its best
Graham Beck Brut £13.50 Waitrose
South Africa – Darkish golden colour with a lively mousse and pronounced aromas of yeast and nuts with some lemony fruit along with a creamy and long finish. A touch of sweetness added to its appeal and overall it was very Champagney in flavour.
Leaving a lot of Champagne at twice the price floundering in its wake. Highly recommended.
Chateau Haut Balailley 2011 £31 Majestic – when buying mix 6
Stunning French Cabernet Sauvignon dominant Bordeaux comes at a price for a whopping £31 per single bottle (if bought on Multi buy) Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.
Special wine for a special occasion
The Hedonist Shiraz £14 Waitrose
In the glass this wine is dark almost inky black, a wine you could dip the tip of a fountain pen in it a write a novel with. If you sniff hard enough there is some dark rich fruit there, mainly blackberries along with dark chocolate, spice and a little vanilla.
First taste this is a fruit powerhouse, juicy acidity, slightly jammy with blackberries, plums and white peppery spice. Sweet but also sour tasting with a woody vanilla flavour and grainy tannins. At 14% this is rich wine and very enjoyable, can cope with robust foods but can be equally drunk on its own.
CA’ Marrone Rosso 2016 £9 Tesco
When poured this is a medium ruby colour with strong aromas of dark fruits predominantly cherry, plum and blackcurrant, there is also a whiff of dried herbs and some vanilla.
Initially intense sweet and sour dark fruits hit you before the pronounced tannins kick in. Secondary flavours of tobacco, leather and dried herbs arrive filling your mouth with a richness and depth of flavour you get with the Appassimento method.
This is a proper grown up wine and not for the fainthearted but watch out for the 14.5% abv, although it doesn’t feel like it at first but be warned it does creep up on you and be sure to hang on to something or someone before attempting to stand after a glass or two.
Samaruco 2014 £15 online various
This was bought in Spain on a recent visit to Luis Perez Bodega just outside Jerez, it’s the excellent Samaruco made with 40% Petit Verdot 30% Merlot and 30% Syrah. Deep inky black in colour with a nose of dark cherries, vanilla and dark chocolate.
Taste wise, velvety smooth and powerful with noticeable tannins and very chocolatey. Flavour stayed in the mouth long after I swallowed it, this really was excellent, especially with the Iberico ham.
Worth seeking out !
I’ve also been to some great tastings and winery visits here are a few links to the better ones…
Hush Heath English Winery
Hambledon English vineyard
Luis Perez Bodega Jerez
Great Sherry Tasting 2017
A week in Jerez
I could have gone on and on but these are just a small selection from some of the great wines I’ve tasted this year and most of them worth spending that little extra, although not to expensive considering what you’re getting, lets hope 2018 is as good if not better.
**Just before I finish I like to say a really big thank you to anybody who has taken the time to read my ramblings, listen, I’m nowhere near a wine expert and would never consider myself one, I’m just an enthusiastic wine drinker.
Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think, there’s a lot more wines out there to explore, roll on 2018 have a great new year and thanks again !