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Laithwaites November offers

by Tom Cannavan, 11/07

    Each of the wines tasted below is on offer with online wine specialist Laithwaites during the first three weeks of November 2007, but only whilst stocks last.

Some of these are special parcels available in limited quantities, in particular the brilliant Tabalí Reserve Chardonnay, which has not been added to Laithwaites' web site. I have checked with Laithwaites and some stock is available at time of writing and can be ordered by calling the order hotline on 0870 444 8282 and quoting the offer price.

Laithwaites is a sponsor of, but we make no money, commissions or referral fees from sales of wine.

white wines

Westend Estate (Australia) Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Australian Sauvignon Blanc has, with a few notable exceptions, never made the same impact as those from their Antipodean cousins in New Zealand. This example, from family winemaker Bill Calabria of Westend Estate in Riverina, New South Wales, is a very convincing example. With only 12.5% alcohol I presume the grapes were harvested early, helping to define this wines pungent, cut-grass and gooseberry aromas, with a vivid lime and lemongrass punch and plenty of swagger and verve. On the palate it is clean and crisp, with hints of succulent, tropical papaya and mango playing against the fresh, vivid citrus fruit. Tangy acidity and a streak of something mineral balance the ripeness and opulence of the fruit, in a compelling example of a New World Sauvignon that is a ringer for the most vibrant Marlborough styles. £6.99, but £6.67 in Laithwaites' offer.

Tabalí (Chile) Reserve Chardonnay 2004
I've been very impressed by the wines of Tabalí, from the cool and relatively new northerly region of Limarí in Chile. This Chardonnay picked up a Gold in the International Wine Challenge, and was whole-bunch pressed before fermentation and ageing in French and American barriques. It has a sensational nose for fans of big, buttery and luscious Chardonnays, with layers of green fig and hazelnut, hot buttered toast and Brazil nuts, and a lush, tropical fruit character. In the mouth the toasty, creamy oak is evident, with a broad, juicy ripeness of fruit, but this has balance and freshness too, with only 13.5% alcohol, and a shimmering core of citrus fruit and crisp, fresh apple and mineral acidity. Terrific stuff. £9.49, but £8.33 in Laithwaites' offer.

red wines

Bodegas Primicia (Spain) Rioja 2006
A bodega that has been praised by Robert Parker, but my first ever taste of one of their wines. This Tempranillo has something intriguingly meaty on the nose, with a grilled, charry note to tobacco and smoke-infused red fruits. It strikes the palate with an immediate fruit sweetness, as bright, raspberry and cherry flavours flood across the tongue, with plenty of crisp acidity and a certain schisty, flinty quality too. The tannins are ripe and supple, and the vanillin and tobacco warmth of the oak begins to build in the finish in a wine that has a layered personality that belies is modest price tag. £6.99, but £5.82 in Laithwaites' offer.

Duca Petraccone (Italy) Primitivo Salento 2005
From Puglia in the heel of Italy, this Primitivo comes from 70-year-old vines and has won gold medals in a clutch of international competitions and a silver in the International Wine Challenge. It has a deep ruby colour and a nose with similar depths of silky, vanilla and roasted coffee-edged black fruit. There is something floral here too, with a touch of violet, but it is the plush depth of fruit that drives this. On the palate the spice and richness of this wine comes to the fore, with a liquoricy twist of bittersweet flavour and masses of black cherry and plum, and a really plum skin, roughening edge of grippy tannin. The acidity is telling too, in a wine that fairly fills the mouth with flavour and texture, with the depth of the fruit and spiciness winning through in the finish. £7.55, but £5.83 in Laithwaites' offer.

Elliot Estate (Australia) Bushy Road Vineyard Malbec 2005
This Malbec comes from Langhorne Creek in South Australia. Though it is not the first name that springs to mind for Malbec, this is a rather nice example of the deep, chocolaty wines this variety can produce. Here it is matured for eight months in French oak barriques, and hits the scales at 14.5% alcohol by volume. The vivid crimson colour leads on to a nose of creamy, tight-grained spice and raspberry fruit, with a suggestion of plummy depth and svelteness and roundness. On the palate the fruit is quite brightly focused - more raspberry and a lick of black chocolate and damson plum - with spicy tannins adding grip. This is medium-bodied, and though a powerful, spicy wine, it retains good freshness. The acidity is a touch angular when drunk on its own perhaps, but then with a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese this really did sail though with flying colours. £9.99, but £6.50 in a Laithwaites' offer.