Tried and Tested

JULY and august 2020

Lustau Fino Single Cask February 2020 release

Talk about understatement. The tasting note says “dry and crispy”, which reduces this mini-masterpiece to the status of a Pringle. Yet this is en rama Sherry at its formidable peak. The flor had not been disturbed for a decade when 120 bottles were produced: the wine is pungent but elegant, with a bready, fruity, nutty richness.

RRP: £74.50 ABV: 15%
Fields, Morris & Verdin (020 7819 0360)

Quinta da Pedra Alta Pedra No 3 White Port

In the 18th century, Douro vineyards were awarded stone markers called feitoria to denote the best sites. Quinta da Pedra Alta has no fewer than three of the things, and you can almost taste them in this delicious and decadent white port, with its lovely slatey edge, lemon mousse sweetness and warm nuttiness.

RRP: £18 (50cl) ABV: 18%
Winetraders (01993 882440)

Phebus Malbec Rosé 2019

Maybe we’re all too cool to get excited by a rosé Malbec, but perhaps it’s also fair to say we tend to serve such wines too cool. This had a cursory 10 minutes in the freezer and it emerged full of luscious Mendoza fruit without compromising any of its crisp mountain freshness. In the capable hands of Hervé Joyaux Fabre, a simple wine has overdelivered on every level.

RRP: £9.99 A BV: 12.5%
Buckingham Schenk (01753 219782)

Balfour Liberty’s Bacchus 2019

Maybe some English Bacchus from 2018 was a little too ripe, losing the zip that should be its hallmark. Here the variety is on fine form, with some tropical notes but mostly grassy, citrus elements and a lovely crispness. In the right hands, Bacchus really can be England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc, and the challenge is to keep it as perky and moreish as this.

RRP: £20 ABV: 11%
Liberty Wines (020-7720-5350)

Terra Noble CA2 Carmenere Costa 2017

Terra Noble makes its CA1 Carmenere in the Andes, and CA2 nearer the Pacific coast, to highlight the differences between different terroirs at similar latitudes. The Costa is the more elegant of the two, but it’s still concentrated and juicy, with a smoky, bloody edge that will delight carnivores.

RRP: £27.30 ABV: 14%
Pimlico Dozen (020 7834 3647)

Oldenburg Vineyards Syrah 2016

The vineyards at Rondekop in the Stellenbosch are 410m above sea level, and the conditions seem to suit Syrah very well, leavening the juicy ripeness with a certain crunch. You get a lot of Syrah for your money here, with lovely vanilla notes and some Mediterranean herbs poking through too.

RRP: £15.95 ABV: 14%
Jeroboams (0207 288 8888)

Le Tracteur Vert 2018

A 100% Gamay from grapes grown on volcanic soil in the Côtes d’Auvergne, this is a fruity and nicely weighted summer red with the gentlest sting of tart raspberries. A wine that would almost certainly pair beautifully with some crackly Django Reinhardt music and the spicy smoke of some merguez sausages on an outdoor grill, near a pine forest.

RRP: £13.50 ABV: 14%
Awin Barratt Siegel (01306 631155)

Laurent Miquel Auzines Albariño 2018

Miquel is the first French winemaker to plant Albariño, and it certainly seems at home in his corner of Corbières, where it thrives in organic vineyards. Lees ageing lends a creamy depth to proceedings, balancing out the more pithy, limey, elements and dovetailing with the ripe fruit characters.

RRP: £11-£12 ABV: 13%
Jackson Nugent Vintners (020 8947 9722)

Château Belles Eaux Les Coteaux Rouge 2017

Syrah dominates this sumptious Languedoc blend, contributing a comforting Play-Doh note to a wine that’s brimming with deep black fruit flavours, earthy undertones and spicy highlights. A wine to convince a £9 spender that sometimes it really is worth forking out just a little bit more – and which demonstrates why the Languedoc still gets pulses racing.

RRP: £12 ABV: 14.5%
Famile Helfrich (07789 008540)

craggy range roha pinot noir 2016

Almost half of the fruit here is whole-bunch fermented, which seems to add a savoury edge to a powerful, concentrated wine full of ripe black cherry flavours. There’s a real tang on the palate, and the gentlest of stings, before the earthier notes round things off. Martinborough on its finest form.

RRP: £65 ABV: 14%
Bibendum (0845 263 6924)

roebuck estates blanc de noirs 2015

English fizz is famed for its bracing acidity but this is all about richness and warmth, even though dosage is pegged at just 5g/l. The grapes come from near Petworth, Sussex, and were clearly in superb nick before a partial fermentation in French oak. Elegant strawberry notes and a full, generous back palate.

RRP: £45 ABV: 12%
Roebuck Estates (01798 263123)

Domaine Andre Lorentz Grand Cru Kirchberg Riesling 201

Riesling can be many things, but it’s rarely more pleasing than when it’s built like this: all wet pebbles and fizzing electrics, and the perfect foil for the crab linguine that we forced it to get acquainted with. The fruit comes from vines with south eastern exposure, so there’s a plushness on the palate as well as a flinty, citrus jolt.

RRP: £17.50 ABV: 12.5%
Famile Helfrich (07789 008540)

Evening Land Seven Springs Pinot Noir 2016

Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where sommelier Raj Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman created this biodynamic joint venture, has similarities to Burgundy – and it’s no surprise that their wine does too. It emerges from 16 months in new French oak mouthwatering and spicy, with a juicy intensity and a distant truffly note.

RRP: £39 ABV: 13.5%
Indigo Wine (020 7733 8391)

Domaines Auriol Reserve Champ des Nummus 2017

Made by a family business in the heart of the Languedoc, now one of the area’s largest producers of organic wines, this is an object lesson in keeping things simple, as well as how oak can be Chardonnay’s best friend. Floral, spicy and buttery, it’s beautifully weighted and perfect for summer evenings.

RRP: £15 ABV: 13.5%
Buckingham Schenk (01753 219782)

Ecker-Eckhof Weissburgunder Schlossberg 2019

Bernhard Ecker’s family have been making wines in Wagram for four centuries. He blends grapes from 30 plots, aiming for a purity and intensity that’s certainly present here. There’s plenty of ripe fruit, almost tropical in fact, but also a good squeeze of refreshing grapefruit and an appealing wet-stone character.

RRP: £15.99 ABV: 13%
Vindependents (020 3488 4548)

Casa lo Alto Rocha Candeal 2017

These Garnacha vines were planted in 1980, in an estate in Utiel-Requena, near Valencia, that dates back to 1796. A mixture of whole-bunch and destemmed fruit is fermented with wild yeast and ages on lees for 10 months, emerging with friendly tannins, fig and red fruit flavours and a black-pepper seasoning.

RRP: £19 ABV: 15%
Buckingham Schenk (01753 219782)