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Bibendum wines

by Tom Cannavan, 10/07

This was a recent tasting of 50 wines from the Bibendum Wines portfolio. Most of these wines are imported by Bibendum, who are their main UK agents. These wines are available from Bibendum's website and wine-searcher links are given for other stockists. Some wines are widely available; others are available from independent merchants.

white wines

Alois Lageder (Italy) Haberle Pinot Bianco 2006
Beautifully fresh, breezy pear fruit with a sense of delicate minerality. The palate has some creamy weight, beautifully fresh fruit and a fine, lime zest precision. 89/100. £11.49. See all stockists on

Cave de Ribeauville (France) Pinot Blanc Jean Baltenweck 2005
Fine herbal edges to elegant, orchard fruited Alsace wine. There's an edge of sweetness to palate, with very nice texture and a long, juicy palate where apple acidity is fresh and appetising. 88/100. £9.49. See all stockists on

Laurenz V (Austria) Friendly Grüner Veltliner 2006
Bright, beckoning and zingy fruit with citrus and plenty of herbal notes and really solid pear fruit. Palate has a suggestion of being off dry, with smooth, easy drinking fruit. 89/100. £7.99. See all stockists on

Etim (Spain) Bianco 2005
From Montsant, this white Garnacha shows green fig and vivid green fruit with asparagus and herby aromas. The palate is fresh crunchy and very dry, with masses of crunch and racy white fruit. Dry and mineral with a touch of lemon pith. 89/100. £6.99. See all stockists on

Vivanco (Spain) Viura Malvasia 2006
Very fresh, open, inviting nose in a totally modern style. Open and fresh, with plenty of bright pear fruit and plenty of acidity. A touch of cream and nuttiness. 88/100. £6.49. See all stockists on

Noble Dragon (China) Shandong White 2005
Very fresh and appley, though fades rather quickly on the mid palate. Slightly disappointing showing for a wine I've enjoyed more in the past. 85/100. £6.99. See all stockists on

Farina (Italy) Colegiata Malvasia 2006
Plenty of herbs and fresh, crunchy fruit, with fat, lemony fruit. Nice mouth-filling palate, with a certain sweetness on the mid-palate and very good texture and weight. Elegant and fresh. 88/100. £6.49. See all stockists on

Castro Martin (Spain) A2O Albariño 2006
Gooseberry and fresh, quite pungent asparagus notes over fresh lemon and sherbetty mineral notes. Palate is beautifully poised, with racy white fruit notes and pure, thrilling lemony acidity. 89/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Lamberhurst (England) Primrose Hill Bacchus. 2006
Very nice freshness, with plenty of vivid nettle and floral characters, and very crunchy Cox's Pippin fruit. Palate is just off dry, with lovely poise and balance and a palate of musk-edged melon fruit. Expensive perhaps, but very classy. 89/100. £12.49. See all stockists on

Firefinch (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2007
From Springfield estate, a beautifully expressive wine with lovely green fig and nettle notes, and plenty of vivid life and verve. Palate is deliciously poised and weighted too, with such crunchy fruit and excellent acidity and zest. A little star. 89/100. £6.74. See all stockists on

Newton Johnson (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2007
More subtle, slightly mealy quality, but still beautifully fresh and aromatic, with spikes of verdant green fruit. Poised and very elegant, with a sense of minerality and fine, crunchy, fresh apple fruit. 89/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Howard Park (Australia) Riesling 2006
Lovely nettly quality, with wax and fine lime fruit. Slightly dull mid palate, with enough acidity, but just fades slightly. I'm not certain this bottle is entirely sound. 88/100. £11.49. See all stockists on

Chateau Pierre Bise (France) Anjou 2005
Very steely and fresh, with a limpid sense of honeyed, clean pear fruit. Attractive palate, but rather falls away, with a slightly clouded sense of purpose as the fruit drops away. There's a great wine struggling to get out here, so maybe this bottle out of condition? £9.49. See all stockists on

Dry Creek Vineyard (California) Chenin Blanc 2006
Subtle apple and pear fruit, with a soft mid-palate, but seems slightly angular, and doesn't really distinguish on the palate. Balanced and sippable. 86/100. £7.95. See all stockists on

Saam Mountain (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 2007
Crunchy and vibrant, with some real aromatic punch, notes of clove and herbs mingling with a waxy, full, elegant fruit. Very nice with a fresh, vibrant finish. Lovely stuff this. 89/100. £7.95. See all stockists on

L'Avenir (South Africa) Chenin Blanc 2006
Modest but juicy and appealing aromas of waxy nectarine and pear. Palate bursts into life, with lovely edge of crisp apple and lime zest, and really nice, complex hints of nuts and mealliness 89/100. £9.49. See all stockists on

Domaine Lafage (France) Cuvée Centenaire 2006
Toasty and buttery Roussillon blanc, with plenty of creamy, quality oak. The melon and ripe, apply fruit comes through powerfully on the palate, with a tang of orange and lemon. 88/100. £7.99. See all stockists on

Mitchelton (Australia) Marsanne 2006
Bold, creamy, fat and powerful, with butter and bold plum and peach fruit. Broad and mouthfilling, but has lovely acidity running through it, with fine persistence and balance. A lovely wine this. 89/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Domaine Laroche (France) Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaudevey 2005
Honey and mealy notes, with fabulous pithy minerality, subtle Ogen melon and some toast from 8% oak (2% new). The fleshiness and the mouthfilling apple flesh fruit, with lemon pith and wonderfully racy, stony minerality with a hint of grapefruit. 91/100. £14.99. See all stockists on

Marmesa Vineyards (California) Hollister Chardonnay Edna Valley 2005
Honey and cashew notes on the nose which is mealy and rich, though this sees no oak. Nose. Very nice quality on the palate, with finesse and bountiful fruit, and chewy layers of flavour. Well balanced. 89/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Newton Johnson (South Africa) Chardonnay 2005
Beautifully spicy, toasty, with plenty of creamy vanillin. The palate has delicious fruit sweetness, with bursting orange and ripe pear and apple fruit. Absolutely delicious stuff. 89/100. £10.49. See all stockists on

red wines

Le Vau Jaumier (France) St Nicolas de Bourgueil 2004
Slightly stinky barnyardy quality at first, with some brett and a background of raspberry fruit. Nice palate, with a slightly drying quality, and doesn't quite push through the fruit against spice and dry extract. 85/100. £11.75. See all stockists on

Chateau du Caillau (France) Malbec 2005
Fine malbec nose. A touch of florality and plenty of violet and black fruit. Nice, sweet fruit, with vibrancy and life as well as copious black fruit. Not huge length, but very well made. 88/100. £6.99. See all stockists on

Domaine la Cazal (France) Minervois 2005
Dense, creamy, violet and cherry fruit with a silky berry depth. Palate has an earthy and smoky quality, with deliciously full and ripe black fruit and plum depths. 91/100. £8.49. See all stockists on

Bisceglia (Italy) Aglianico del Vulture 2005
This has typically inky, bloody extract, with dry, slightly briary black fruit and a sense of firmness on the palate. This has a racy character, and plenty of biting acidity to make it very food friendly. 88/100. £7.56. See all stockists on

Ceretto (Italy) Barbera d'Alba 2006
Fine, dry, cherry and briar notes with some soft, damp earth character. Lovely sweet and soft fruit on the palate, with a pastille quality and lovely freshening tannins and acidity. 90/100. £12.95. See all stockists on

Noble Dragon (China) Red 2005
Slightly green quality at first with a little stalky quality to earthy, dry, attractive fruit. The palate is savoury and quite meaty, with juicy and savoury acidity. Very good 87/100. £6.99. See all stockists on

Quinta do Vallado (Portugal) Douro Red 2005
Smoky, rich, ripe red berry fruit. Slightly dry and inky, but has a savoury and fleshy mid-palate. Good quality. 87/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Casa de la Ermita (Spain) Crianza Jumilla 2004
Spice, dusty pepper and lovely black fruit quality. A certain smokiness, with subtle, fleshy layering of sweet, ripe fruit, chocolate and fleshy plum. Balanced and bright, with good quality. 91/100. £.9.49 See all stockists on

Farina Gran Colegiata (Spain) Crianza Robles Francais 2002
Lots of cream and sweet fruit, with some dry extract and spicy tannins. 87/100. £9.99. See all stockists on

El Rincon (Spain) Syrah Grenache 2003
Very nice nose, with soft sheen of oak, some spice and subtle creaminess. The fruit really is lovely here, with a seductive depth and plenty of sweet, voluptuous fruit and oak adding layers of depth. 89/100. £13.99. See all stockists on

Finca el Puig (Spain) Priorat 2002
Quite a lot of spicy, incense-like aroma, with delightful black fruit and lots of smoke. Perhaps a touch too much spice and oak. 87/100. £16.49. See all stockists on

Vivanco (Spain) Garnacha Rioja 2005
Creamy, soft, pastille fruit with lots of blackberry and blackcurrant and a nice raciness on the palate. Lovely mouthfilling wine, with the oak cut by nice acidity and spicy tannins. 90/100. £30. See all stockists on

Vivanco (Spain) Graciano 2005
Lightly smoky with crisp, crunchy raspberry fruit. The palate has a lightness, with more raspberry and a smoky, swirling quality. Juicy and fresh, with fine quality of oak and tannin. 90/100. £40. See all stockists on

Punto Alto (Chile) Pinot Noir 2005
A touch of minty eucalypt character, with plenty of minty ripeness, but perhaps lacks a little Pinot character on the nose. The palate has a more convincing Pinosity, with soft strawberry and raspberry fruit, and touches of chocolate and coffee. Very nice drinking, in a clean, perhaps slightly too clean style? 87/100. £12.55. See all stockists on

Loredona (California) Monterey Pinot Noir 2005
Sweet, forward, raspberries and custardy oak nose. Fairly light palate, with racy fruit and fine, racy tannins with keen acidity. Perhaps lacks a touch of mid palate flesh, but a beautifully fresh and balanced wine. 89/100. £6.99. See all stockists on

Calera (California) Mount Harlan Pinot Noir 2004
Bigger wine, with earthy cream and meaty qualities showing notes of coffee and chocolate over berry fruits. Lovely sweet fruit on the palate. Perhaps a touch jammy, but I really like the suede like tannins and balancing acidity. 91/100. £17.72. See all stockists on

Hawksburn (New Zealand) Terrace Pinot Noir Central Otago 2006
Lovely nose, full of finesse with red berries and raspberry notes, and plenty of finesse. Very nice fruit and plenty of body without over extraction. 90/100. £17.30. See all stockists on

Domaine de Colombier (France) Crozes Hermitage 2006
Crunchy, vivid charcoally quality, with lots of vivid pastille like fruit and creamy blackberry character. Palate is lovely too, with delicious spicy black fruit and a structure of tannins and cherry acidity. Delicious stuff. 89/100. £9.98. See all stockists on

Newton Johnson (South Africa) Syrah Mourvèdre 2005
Big, powerful, spice and bold chocolaty oak nose with depths of fruit and warm, autumnal berry sweetness. The palate has plenty of grip and liquoricy structure but layers of ripe fruit and chocolaty texture and density. Fabulous stuff this. 92/100. £13.47. See all stockists on

Marmesa Vineyards (California) Syrah 2005
Quite a schisty, smoky, fairly racy nose with lots of leafy raspberry fruit and a silky quality developing. Palate is smooth and suave, with gorgeous weight of fruit, very silky tannin structure and plenty of spicy and peppery notes in the finish. 92/100. £8.99. See all stockists on

Saam (South Africa) Koopmanskraal Shiraz 2006
Quite svelte and subtle black fruit, with a glossy purity of blackcurrant and damson plum. The palate too has that composed, refined character, with plenty of silky fruit and texture, and a biting core of liquorice and quite meaty tannins and pert acidity. A really nice set of syrah wines here. 91/100. £8.95. See all stockists on

St Hallett (Australia) Barossa Faith Shiraz 2004
Composed, deep, sinewy and dark nose with depths of plum fruit. Little glimpses of violet add some light and shade. Fruit sweetness and ripeness really comes through, with a plush, silky palate and developing weight of chocolate and espresso. 91/100. £7.99. See all stockists on

Glenguin (Australia) Aristea Shiraz 2003
100% new oak, big, concentrated, powerful nose, with nuances of herbs, liquorice and quite a meat stock note lovely smokiness and deep, velvety texture on the palate, with a very rich seam of blackberry and black plum fruit, with a bite of plumskin and rich, chocolaty tannin. Very well balanced, with lovely fine finish and length. Excellent. 91/100. £24.99. See all stockists on

D'Arenberg (Australia) Derelict Vineyard Grenache 2004
A nice nutty, mellow overlay to sweet Grenache fruit. Notes of raspberry and bitter dark chocolate, and lovely silky finesse on the palate, where plush tannins push through to a long finish. 89/100. £12.99. See all stockists on

Château Pichon-Longueville (France) Tourelles 2003
Cedar, briar and herb-tinged supple black fruit. The palate has a soft, welcoming palate of quite earthy and slightly gamy black fruit. Finesse, with medium body and a savoury orangy acidity at the core. Refined finish with subtle tannins. 89/100. £21.95. See all stockists on

sweet wines

Farina Val de Reyes (Spain) Tinto Dulce NV
Tempranillo. Lightly oxidised, lovely raspberry fruit with a touch of something smoky and mineral. Palate has lovely sweet red berry and cherry fruit, with a thick chocolaty flavour and deliciously silky texture. Not heavy, with refined acidity and. Nip of tannin adding an edge. Lovely and unusual stuff. 90/100. £12.99. See all stockists on

Marmesa (California) Vineyards Dessert Pinot Noir 2006
Gorgeous, if subtle strawberry and cherry nose, before a palate that is flooded with sweet, limpid cherry fruit. Very pure and racy, but has delicious fruit and some genuine Pinot character with a touch of earthy sweetness. 90/100. £8.99 per 37.5cl. See all stockists on

L'Illa (South Africa) Eilandia Noble Late Harvest 2006
Lots of honey and butterscotch, with complex notes of leaf tea and spiced orange. The palate has a certain raciness, with toffee and a deliciously racy acidity against really good fruit. Plenty of thick, unctuous nectarine and a luscious yet long finish. 91/100. £6.49. See all stockists on

San Stefano (Italy) Moscato d'Asti NV
5.5% lovely floral and gentle, floral and lightly herbal nose, with sherbetty lemon and peach. The palate is just gently effervescent, with sweetness but a wonderfully racy quality. Delightfully fresh and moreish, and utterly delicious stuff. 89/100. £12.99. See all stockists on

These wines are also available from Bibendum.