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December 2007

Previous months' recommendations:  June/July 2006 |August 2006 | September/October 2006 | November 2006| December 2006 | Jan/Feb 2007 | March 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August/September 2007 | October/November 2007

Champagne Fleury 1996
A yellow/gold colour, this has a sensational nose: it's complex and full, with notes of honey, baked apples, lemons, toast and pastry. The palate is concentrated with powerful flavours of lemon, herbs and toast. It's a rich style, with lots of impact, but kept fresh by piercing acidity. A really super effort - worth the relatively high asking price. Beginning to drink well now, but with this level of acidity it isn't going to fall apart any time soon. 94/100 (£38 Vintage Roots)

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV, Champagne
Tight, focused lemony nose with bright fruit and some depth. Real presence on the palate which is concentrated, savoury and very fresh, with good acid and assertive citrussy fruit. Pure and concentrated: a savoury, tight style. 93/100 (£40 Oddbins, Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Lay & Wheeler, Noel Young)

Terras Gauda AlbariŮo 2006 O Rosal, Rias Baixas
This is utterly brilliant. It has a beautifully precise aromatic nose with perfumed, slightly herby, ripe melon and lemony fruit. The palate is deliciously fresh with light, subtly grapefruity citrussy fruit along with some richer ripe melon notes. Great balance here to create a thrilling white wine thatís a perfect match for seafood dishes. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene £8.90)

Weingut Stadt Krems Weinzierlberg GrŁner Veltliner 2006 Kremstal, Austria
Aromatic and quite full, with a rich melony fruitiness coupled with some brighter, peppery notes. Quite generous and sweet. The palate is rich textured and soft with a lovely fresh pepperiness, giving a counter to the sweet fruit and stopping it from being at all flabby. There are some citrus pith notes, too. Brilliant stuff. 92/100 (£10.99 Averys)

The FMC Forrester Meinert Chenin 2006 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is perhaps South Africaís finest expression of Chenin blanc. Itís a big old wine with a mighty flavour impact, and comes mainly from low-yielding old bush vines planted in 1967, which is my vintage. Harvested at full maturity, the grapes are treated to a wild-yeast fermentation in new French oak 400 litre barrels, using late harvested botrytised Chenin as a blending wine. Maturation on the lees ensues, with a total of 10 months in the barrel. 9.7 g/litre residual sugar. This is powerful, viscous and concentrated, with sweet vanilla, herb, honey and spice notes. Itís very broad and attractive with an almost sweet tropical fruit quality and some warm, sweet creamy depth. Not really in a Loire style, but really intense and interesting. 93/100
(Tesco, Waitrose, Great Western Wine £16.95)

Errazuriz Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Casablanca Valley, Chile
This is sourced from a block on the La Escultura estate, planted in 1992 with clones 242, 107 and Davis 1. 20% of the fruit (all hand harvested) was given 6 hour maceration with skins. It's nicely aromatic, with a fresh, slightly herby nose that shows good freshness and minerality, along with more tropical fruit richness. The palate is quite rich textured with lovely fruit sweetness giving it a rounded character (yet there's only 1.39 g/l residual sugar), along with good acidity contributing freshness. There are notes of grapefruit and herb, too. It's quite a concentrated and moderately complex Sauvignon of real appeal. A great buy at this price. 90/100 (£9.95 Berry Bros & Rudd http://www.bbr.com/, http://www.chileanwineclub.co.uk/)

Cono Sur Vision Riesling 'Quiltraman' 2007 Bio Bio Valley, Chile
This attractively packaged wine has a forward, perfumed nose of bright lime notes mixed with minerals, sweet honey and floral overtones. The palate is quite rich, with a talcum powder and lime character, together with some savoury minerality and some richness of texture, which I suspect in part comes from a bit of residual sugar, and in part from the high alcohol (14%). It finishes off with crisp acidity. This is a powerful style of Riesling, but it's balanced and quite crisp. A striking wine, and given further experience here I reckon future vintages will be even better. 89/100 (£7.99 Majestic, but £6.39 if you buy two) 12/07

Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling 2007 Elgin, South Africa
'Weisser Riesling' is a term used in South Africa to describe the true Riesling variety, and this wine comes from the cool climate Elgin region. It's an elegant, dry style of Riesling with apple and lemon fruit combining with a distinctly crisp, mineralic core to make a bone dry wine with a distinctly savoury character that is extremely food friendly. This is a moderately serious wine that is extremely versatile, and represents good value at the price. It is stylistically similar to Clare Valley Riesling, I reckon. South Africa should be making more Riesling, although I imagine it can be a tough wine to sell. 88/100 (£7.99 Jeroboams/Laytons) 12/07

Domaine du Collier Saumur Blanc La Charpentrie 2004 Loire, France
A fantastic, complex, savoury dry white wine from the Chenin Blanc variety. A yellow gold colour, the nose is complex with notes of apples, pears, minerals, wax and dry straw. The mouth is savoury and minerally, and quite dry, with herb-tinged appley fruit and a flinty/matchstick reductive character that adds complexity. There's an acid tang on the finish, together with hints of apricots and pear-skin. I think this is quite profound - a really thrilling effort that should age gracefully for the next 20 years. With its distinctive character, though, I don't think this is a wine for everyone. 94/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

Ra Nui Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Wairau Valley, New Zealand
Lovely refined, fresh aromatic nose is lemony and subtly herby. Stylish, without overt grassiness. The palate has fresh acidity and concentrated, fresh, subtly green fruit. Fantastic balance here: a sophisticated, intellectual Sauvignon. 92/100 (Hellion Wines) 

Jacob's Creek Sparkling Shiraz NV South Eastern Australia
Visually this is gorgeous, with the bubbles foaming up a beautiful pink colour over the dark red black core of the wine. This wine shows lovely pure, sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit with a nice dark, meaty edge to it. It finishes with a nice spritzy tang from the bubbles. There's a bit of sweetness here which adds to the texture, making it feel quite weighty. It's very ripe, but the alcohol is quite low at 12.5%. A very interesting, unique style of wine: it's perhaps just a little too sweet to serve with most foods, although with its low tannin and sweetness it works pretty well with cheese. 89/100 (£8.49 Sainsbury's)

Chateau Guiot 2006 Costieres de Nimes, France
From the south of France, and more specifically a 75 hectare property south of Nimes planted mainly to Grenache and Syrah. This is really good. It's a boisterous young red with lovely fresh peppery, slightly meaty dark fruits on the nose. In the mouth the peppery, spicy fruit dominates, and is complemented by firm, grippy tannins and good acidity, making this a vibrant, savoury sort of red that's really versatile at the table. Lovely purity and focus, and the concentration and vibrancy to put many £10 wines to shame. 88/100 (£5.99 Majestic)

Les NiviŤres 2005 Saumur, Loire
From Cave de Saumur. I love this wine. A varietal Cabernet Franc from a ripe vintage (13/5% alcohol), it has a nose of leafy, spicy, deep blackcurrant fruit with a distinctive minerality. The palate is quite dense, savoury and tannic with lovely fresh, sappy blackcurrant fruit and a mouth-drying finish. Itís a really intense, food friendly sort of wine that captures the essence of Loire Valley reds. So much character, it gets a surprisingly high rating from me. 90/100 (£4.99 Waitrose)

Stellar Organics Cabernet Sauvignon No Added Sulphur 2006 Western Cape
Made from organically grown grapes, with no added sulfur dioxide. A fantastic deep red/black colour, this looks like a barrel sample. It has a wonderfully perfumed, seductive nose of pure sweet blackcurrant fruit with an earthy edge and some gravelly minerally notes in the background. The palate is concentrated and quite lush, but underneath the sweet dark fruit lies a complex earthy core with a very subtle spicy green herby note adding an extra dimension. Despite the fact that this is quite a big wine, there's a lovely elegance here, and a delicious textural richness. I reckon you need to drink this gorgeously forward wine in the first flush of its youth: I suspect it will taste a bit tired and go all earthy by this time next year. 90/100 (£6.50 Vintage Roots, on offer a £5.95 until 11 January 2008)

Mas Bruguiere L'Arbouse 2005 Coteaux du Landuedoc Pic Saint-Loup
A blend of equal parts Grenache and Syrah, and weighing in at a modest 13% alcohol, this is a really expressive 'drinking' wine (as opposed to one you just taste). It shows fresh, bright, spicy, peppery red berry and cherry fruit. It's not heavy, and there's a brightness to the palate with some juicy acidity keeping things fresh and savoury. There are some grippy, spicy tannins, too, and some meaty complexity that holds the interest. A great food wine, but it's generous enough for casual sipping, too. 89/100 (£8.15 from Yapp)

Sanguine Estate Shiraz 2004 Heathcote, Australia
This is a really expressive Heathcote Shiraz with a sense of place. The nose is quite fresh with sweet dark fruits together with a bright peppery, meaty character. It's aromatically alive and fruit driven, with a really appealing, almost floral complexity. The palate is ripe, sweet and dekicious, but there's a lovely freshness to the dark fruits which prevents it from becoming over-the-top. It's definitely a warm climate wine, but it's also fresh and expressive, too. 92/100 (£16.95 Great Western Wine)

My rating system explained. Use www.wine-searcher.com to locate a stockist in your area and my directory of UK wine merchants for details of those listed here. See also: the wineanorak's shopping list - recommended wines from each of the main UK retail outlets. These recommendations are truly independent: I don't accept payment or other favours for inclusions, nor do I sell wine.

E-mail me with your recommendations or suggestions at jamie@wineanorak.co.uk