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Summer Berry's 2011

by Tom Cannavan, 08/11

shop front Venerable London merchant Berry Bros & Rudd may boast 300 years of wine trading history (their 1698 premises in St James, right) but they remain one of the most innovative wine retailers in the world.

These notes come from a recent press tasting, spanning everyday to 'fine' wines. Note also that Berry's have scrapped all delivery charges in the UK (though there is a minimum online order value of £100).

See Berry Bros & Rudd online

white wines

Bodegas Mauricio Lorca, Fantasía Torrontés 2010, Argentina
Mendoza, 14% abv, Screwcap. Wow! The nose is total exuberance and flower-shop, heady fragrance, with geranium and talcum notes soaring from the glass: Torrontés at its most vivacious. The palate has lovely fruit (occasionally Torrontés in the mouth fails to cash the cheque the nose has written) with a fabulous downy peach ripeness and fresh apple acidity. Fabulous stuff this. 90/100. £10.00

Turkey Flat Vineyards, Butchers Block White 2009, Australia
Barossa Valley, 14% abv, Screwcap. Fragrant nose, some smoky, mineral, quite flinty notes and a bold lemon fruit beneath. The palate is sharply focused and fruity, with masses of peach and orange brightness and lovely freshness, just hinting at herbs and that stony, smoky mineral character. 90/100. £11.95

Churton, Sauvignon Blanc 2009, New Zealand
Marlborough, 13.5% abv, Screwcap. Elegance here, with typical pea pod vegetation yes, but a subtlety and more delicate, almost floral fragrance too. Delightful palate, the fruit deliciously bright and orangy, with juicy apricot sweetness and fantastic acidity leaving the finish dry, but shimmeringly alive. 91/100. £14.25

López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 1987, Spain
Rioja, 12% abv, Cork. Tondonia marches to a different beat and this 24-year old white (or rather yellow) wine is oxidised and nutty, with a Sherry-like component and plenty of herbs and bruised apple fruit. The palate is suddenly, shockingly fresh and salty, with a hugely tangy presence, lots of orange and nutty notes and still a latent sweetness that is gorgeously insistent at the core of the wine. Singular stuff that's as dry, different and searingly fresh as you like. Great wine. 94/100. £95.00

Cerutti, Moscato d'Asti 'Suri Sandrinet' 2010, Italy
Piedmont, 5% abv, Cork. Undoubtedly a great Moscato d'Asti with masses of fragrant herbs joining the talcum and lemon zest fragrance, icing sugar delicacy and those beautifully evocative summer flower notes. The palate is beautifully pitched too, the sweetness wrapping around peachy fruit notes, but then the shimmering acidity adding that thrilling balance. 89/100. £11.75

red and rosé wines

López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 2000, Spain
Rioja, 12.5% abv, Cork. An 11-year-old rosé is not a thing to approach lightly, and this atypical wine has a custrardy overlay to tight, dry redcurrant and gently earthy aromas. The palate is hugely dry, with a beautiful pomegranate fruitiness still there, but bone-dry, almost Fino Sherry-like acidity and a hugely long finish. Brilliant and unusual stuff with great food matching potential. 90/100. £20.75

Bodegas Mauricio Lorca, Malbrontes Malbec Torrontés 2009, Argentina
Mendoza, 13.5% abv, Screwcap. 'Malbrontes' (think Jedward or Brangelina) is an - on the face of it - unholy alliance of Malbec and Torrontés, that certainly gives a singular nose. The exotically floral lift of the Torrontés soars through the blueberry and black plum fruit of the Malbec, with a palate that is light and relatively fresh and juicy, the easy-drinking charm and good fruit of the Malbec given a lovely lift of acidity, making this very juicy and enjoyable. 87/100. £8.45

Vista Hermosa, Pinot Noir 2009, Chile
Casablanca Valley, 14% abv, Screwcap. A bold and creamy black fruit nose, with a lovely little lift of flowers and herbs, really suggesting the Pinot here is ripe and pure. The palate has very nice juiciness and bold, chocolate-ripe tannins, with plenty of cherry-fresh acidity and a long, liquorice-tinged finish. A fairly big and chunky rendition of Pinot, but a good one. 88/100. £8.95

Estancia Piedra, Piedra Azul 2009, Spain
Toro, 14% abv, Cork. Blue/black firm fruit on the nose, a taut blueberry and damson fruit, all very clean and sweetly creamy, with a Beaujolais-like clarity and sense of plum-skin grip and dryness. Palate is equally assertive and bold, the fruit, firm but graceful and the tannins and tight acidity leaving this savoury, bold and fresh. 89/100. £10.20

Churton, Pinot Noir 2008, New Zealand
Marlborough, 14% abv. Screwcap. Lovely fruit on the nose, with lots of fresh, breezy berry notes and a certain violet lift to the fragrance. The palate has lots of fresh, crunchy fruit too - a real chilled summer berry crunch - with very fine tannins, a warming infill of creamy oak and fresh, fresh acidity. 92/100. £19.95

De Toren, 'Z' 2007, South Africa
Stellenbosch, 14.5% abv, Cork. Smoky, ashy, with lots of finesseful cedar and tobacco lift. The palate has lots of lightness, lift and freshness, with dry cherry and black fruit, a real black cherry and plum-skin tang, with great length and balance. A really convincing and beautifully balanced Bordeaux lookalike. 93/100. £23.00

Montsecano, Pinot Noir 2009, Chile
Casablanca Valley, 13% abv, Cork. A £30 Pinot from Chile is a rarity, and here the wine is all about fragrance and ashy restraint, a delicately floral lift and tight, subtle black fruit notes. The palate has real finesse - a totally different beast from the Vista Hermosa - with cherry and leafy, herby raspberry notes and a real elegance to the tannins and acidity. This is delicious and of authentically high quality. It has the sweet fruit and harmony to age too. 93/100. £30.60

López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia Reserva 2001 £29.95, Spain
Rioja, 13% abv, Cork. Quite subdued, some creamy and earthy berries, but not exuberant. Nice little gamy notes have developed. The palate has a cherry and orange freshness, with a cool character and very nice balance, though perhaps the fruit could sing a little more, it has lovely elegance and length and will probably age extremely well. 90/100. £29.95

See Berry Bros & Rudd online