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Wine Discoveries, take 3

by Tom Cannavan, 04/06

Wine Discoveries, based in East Sussex, is run by Jonny and Caroline Gibson who say their business was born out of a frustration - of not being able to find interesting wines in the £5 to £15 bracket that weren't "overly marketed, re-blended for the UK palate - whatever that is - or just plain expensive". So they decided to do something about it themselves.

white

Domaine Saint Prix (France) Saint-Bris 2004
An unusual award-winning wine from Saint-Bris, the only village in Burgundy allowed to make Sauvignon Blanc. It has a very nicely pitched nose, with a definite nettle-patch and gooseberry herbaceousness, but also a quality of ripe pear and lemony fruit. On the palate this is light- to medium-bodied and has immediate dash and verve, with a sweeping quality of sherbet and mineral acidity, and a core of apple and pear fruit that is clean and crisp. This is fairly lean and on the austere side of Sauvignon's multi-faceted character, but is fresh, grassy and will be very appealing to those who find Marlborough Sauvignon too much - especially with some shellfish or goat's cheese. £6.95

Domaine Chene (France) Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2004
From the excellent southern Burgundy appelation of the Mâcon this has a typically elegant and I have to say, very appealing nose of honeyed, buttery fruit, laced with a little sweet vanilla and showing tiny floral glimpses. On the palate this dleivers a rush of citrussy, tangy, orange and lemon fruit, but there's an underlying sweetness that hints at tropicality, but never quite gets there before crisp lemony acidity catches the finish leaving this mouth-watering and bone-dry. The touch of oak is very much in the background in a lovely little wine. Very good indeed, excellent at this price. £6.95

Philippe Chavy (France) Bourgogne Chardonnay 2003
From Chavy's domaine in Puligny-Montrachet, this is a simple 'Bourgogne' appellation, but clearly has had some new oak lavished on it. The nose smells like a much more serious white Burgundy, with honeysuckle and Acacia notes layered with vanilla and subtle spice, and a buttery fruit quality. On the palate there is an immediate attack of sweet, very luscious nectarine and peachy fruit, with a dry, white fruit mid-palate emerging with notes of crisp Cox's Pippin apples. The acidity is low-key but actually quite good, considering the full-on sweetness of fruit and oak, leaving this quite dry and savoury. Very good indeed. £9.95

red

Domaine de la Charité (France) Côtes-du-Rhône 2003
A gold medal winner and three star wine in the French wine bible Guide Hachette, this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from a sustainably-farmed vineyard. None of theses 2003 southern French reds are shy, and the nose on this wine is crammed with crushed red berry fruits, a certain earthy warmth and just a background note of menthol. On the palate this is fruity and bright, with a creaminess to the texture though it is medium-bodied, and a very distinct fruit focus with plenty of berries, cherry notes and a savoury quality. There is a spiciness that develops inthe finish, with discreet but nicely supposrtive tannins and good length. This is a very nicely balanced wine with decent acidity. Has summer barbecues written all over it. Very good indeed. £6.50

Domaine la Maurerie (France) Saint Chinian Vieilles Vignes 2002
This Syrah and Grenache blend comes from very old vines, at least 40 years old, growing on the schisty slopes of Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc. A year in oak barrels has added a smoky, voluptuous softness to the nose, where pepper, crushed spices and tobacco are woven through rich black fruits. On the palate there's masses more spice, with a rich, deep, very firm core of blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, and a palate-coating depth of tannins that are thick and chocolaty. Acidity in this wine is good, adding a tangy edge to all that solid, copious fruit. Great now with some food, but this will also cellar for a few years. Very good indeed/excellent. £7.75

Château Beauregard Ducasse (France) Graves 2001
North and west to Bordeaux, where Beauregard Ducasse have created a very classic, oak-aged blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The nose is earthy and vegetal, with briary scents and a smoky quality to quite modest red fruit. On the palate this is very savoury and dry. There is good fruit here, with a plummy depth and lighter, raspberry character emerging, but this wine is more about the earthy, old-woody suppleness of a food wine, with gripping tannins and an edge of cherry acidity into the finish. Very good for drinking over the next year or two. £8.75