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Waitrose wines on offer May 2007

by Tom Cannavan, 05/2007

My tasting of wines on offer at Waitrose during March 2007 was well received, so I thought I'd taste through a selection of what's on special promotion during May. In fact, all wines are at the special prices until June 3rd, and as always, the selection of specials at Waitrose offers much more interest than most supermarket 'deals'. The results of my tasting are below.

white wines

Chapel Down (England) Flint Dry
Chapel Down is England's largest grower and producer of wine, currently sourcing grapes from 180 acres, but on course to increase this to 1000 acres by 2010. For the Flint Dry, extended lees contact adds richness and texture to a wine made from a blend of grapes including Reichensteiner, Rivaner, Bacchus and Schonburger. In one sense an English take on Muscadet sur lie, this shows much more aromatics and lift then many Loire examples. The nose zings with crunchy apple, Sauvignon-like hedgerow aromas and zesty citrus. On the palate it broadens slightly, with a little oatmeally character to quite fat, mouthfilling fruit. But this wine is all about clean, crisp, mouthwatering freshness, and a green apple bite of juicy fruit and acidity makes sure of that. Lovely stuff. £6.99, Waitrose. On offer during May 2007 at £5.99.

Fevre, William (France) Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2005
William Fevre, now under the ownership of Burgundy house Bouchard Père et Fils, is one of the leading lights of Chablis, where the wines seem to strike a happy ground between expressing the austerity and minerality of the region's terroir, and a really good quality of ripe fruit. From an excellent vintage, this premier cru wine has a pale green colour and a stony nose hinting at minerals, but really quite full, rich yellow plum and apple fruit. On the palate this is a medium-bodied wine with steel at its core, and a concentrated, weighty fruit character. Somehow this wine just lacks a little of the verve and elegance I might have hoped for, but the ripe, mouthfilling orchard fruit and food-friendly personality, make for a powerful, uncompromising Chablis that will cellar. £15.99, Waitrose. On offer during May 2007 at £11.99

rosé wines

Capricorn Wines (New Zealand) One Tree Merlot Rosé 2005
An interesting wine this. The back label says grapes were selected by Master of Wine Steve Smith, whom I know from making the wines at the top Hawke's Bay estate of Craggy Range. On googling Capricorn Wines, they come up as producers of not just the One Tree range, but also 'Wild Rock' - proof positive that this is part of the Craggy Range stable, since Wild Rock was once Craggy Range's 'second label'. This saignée method rosé Merlot comes in a screwcapped bottle, and has a vivid but quite warm pink hue. The nose is very soft and strawberry-like, with a little background lick of vanilla. On the palate It is quite full and dry, but there's a creaminess to the texture and flavour that makes this textural and expansive. The fruit is ripe and sweet, although there's a nice acid balance that freshens things up in the finish. A little pepper and spice note fills in too, in a gluggable and mellow rosé with plenty going on. £8.99, Waitrose.

red wines

Mas, Paul (France) Marselan Vin de Pays 2005
Marselan is a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that seems particularly well-suited to the rich soils of the Languedoc. This has a very dark, opaque colour and an equally dark nose with a little nte of Indian ink as well as some leathery qualities and plummy fruit. On the palate this has a smooth texture and quite a broad, earthy, rustic charm with bittersweet plum and plum skin fruity bite, and a more mellow Autumnal berry fruit quality. This is dry and savoury, with some herbal character and really quite a lot of robust style and complexity at a very modest price. £4.99, Waitrose. On offer during May 2007 at £3.99

Finca Flichman (Argentina) Malbec Reserva 2005
The colour is a deep, rich crimson red. The nose has plenty of oak, and a slightly dusty, earthy quality with a hint of Brettanomyces that some will like more than others. There's good fruit here, and it suggests a wine with plenty of punch. Indeed on the palate, there is a rush of very sweet, ripe, almost jammy black fruit, all wrapped in a flashy, charry oaky blanket, with some hints of chocolate and sweeter, cherry and kirsch-like notes. This is a big mouthful of wine, with plenty of sweetness, soft tannins and a heap of alcoholic punch (14.5%), but offer plenty of bangs per buck at its offer price. £5.99, Waitrose. On offer during May 2007 at £4.49.

Carbonaia (Italy) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2003
'Carbonaia' appears to be more of a brand name than a producer, so presumably this comes from a cooperative cellar in Tuscany. A blend of Sangiovese with some Canaiolo and Colorino, it spends a year in oak barrels. The colour is a deep crimson/black, and the nose offers a light fragrance of herbs, cherry fruit and again a touch of Brettanomyces giving a slightly mousey edge to the aromatics. On the palate the Brett distracts from a savoury, medium-bodied palate of red fruits and earthy notes. There is spice and a little more creamy, tobacco-tinged depthin the finish. I would have liked to taste another bottle of this to be honest, but I wouldn't want to put you off trying a bottle at the offer price. £9.99 Waitrose. On offer during May 2007 at £7.99