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top wines of January 2011

Carmen

under seven pounds

La Chapelle, White Gasgogne 2009, France
UK importer FromVineYardsDirect sells direct from its web site and it's fair to say sub-£7 is not really their stomping ground as their portfolio majors on wines in the mid-range, from around £8 to £20. However I really enjoyed this little white from Gascony, a blend of Colombard, Gros Manseng and Ugni Blanc with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It has a delicate but aromatic nose that at first seems dominated by the grassy and elderflower character of the Sauvignon, but then a mouthwatering panoply of citrus, white fruit and minerals with masses of zest and life sweeps in. 87/100. £6.95, FromVineYardsDirect.com

under a tenner

Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Syrah 2008, Chile
CyT rarely put a foot wrong in delivering excellent wines at a variety of price points. This Syrah (with a touch of Carmenère) is aged 18 months in French oak and is in 120 stores. It has a bold, striking colour leading to a classic, pepper, black fruit and grilled meat character. Beautifully focused palate too, the full, rich fruit hinting at prune and plummy chocolate, but delightful spice and support from the oak and cherry acidity. Fab stuff. 90/100. £9.99, Sainsbury's

under twenty

Milton Vineyard, Riverpoint Viognier 2009, New Zealand
I'm a big fan of the biodynamic wines from James Milton's Gisborne vineyard. This Viognier has a hefty 14% ABV and was partially aged in older oak barrels. The nose is lusciously honeyed and peachy, with a touch of toffee and savoury honeysuckle character. On the palate it floods across the tongue, the slick, almost oily texture filled with almost meaty flavours, the savoury density adding to that impression, though really sweet-toned, apricot and peach fruit asserts on the mid-palate. Wow, this is a big wine, but it never overbalances as a core of tight, white fruit and mineral acidity is always part of the picture, giving more savour and bite into a long, nutty finish. Quite something. £11.75, Vintage Roots.

sky's the limit

Domaine David Clark, Vosne-Romanée 2009, France
The story of Domaine David Clark, owned and run by a Scottish engineer who gave up a career working for Williams in Formula 1 to make wine, is a romantic one. It, and the sheer quality of his wines has won many fans and that means this wine - of which only 600 bottles were produced - has already sold out through UK importer Berry Bros, though it can be purchased as part of a mixed case priced at €220 direct from domainedavidclark.com. There is fabulous but unforced concentration here, with a very tightly-wound nose of black fruit with tight, ebony-like polish. The palate has serious concentration again, with plum and black cherry fruit, extremely pure and focused, with fantastic linear qualities buttressed by fine tannins and juicy acids that tug and push this into a fine line running to a lovely point in the finish. What a lovely wine this is, with great charm, focus and precision and an endless finish. 93/100. Meanwhile, BBR.com can still supply the 2009 Bourgogne which is racy, very fine and savoury (£138 for 12 in bond) and the 2009 Côtes de Nuits Villages which has fine red fruit and a spice and coffee depth (£174 for 12 in bond).