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July 2007

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

Heggies Vineyard Chardonnay 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
We begin with a really nice Aussie Chardonnay. Close planted Bernard clones grown at an altitude of 550 metres. Hand picked, gently pressed, wild ferment in French oak. 14% alcohol, tin-lined screwcap closure. This has quite a delicate nose (for an Aussie Chardonnay, at any rate), showing fresh, complex spicy, lemony fruit with a fine creamy and delicately bready edge. The palate is quite light - almost transparent - with a fine toastiness adding richness to the nicely phrased lemon, pear and vanilla flavours that work well together. I hate to use the term 'Burgundian', but that's where this wine is headed, although the cleanness and alcoholic depth might have given its new world origins away. But this really is a sophisticated, understated effort. Very good/excellent 92/100 

Malhadhina Nova Branco 2006 Alentejo, Portugal
Next, a new wave Portuguese white. Antão Vaz, Arinto and Chardonnay fermented in new French and American oak. A deep yellow colour, this is quite a serious white wine. It has a minerally, smoky nose with full, fresh, assertive melon and citrus fruits. The palate has a nice combination of spicy oak with powerful, rich tropical/melon fruit, some savoury nuttiness and good acidity. There’s lots of flavour here, but quite a bit of complexity and nice poise. Quite tight at the moment, and undoubtedly with medium-term ageing potential. A style best enjoyed with food. 91/100

Secano Pinot Noir 2006 Leyda Valley, Chile
From Vina Leyda, I reckon this wine has usurped Cono Sur's cheapie as the world's best value Pinot Noir. It has a lovely sweet cherry and berry fruit nose which is perfumed, with a bit of spice and some subtle herbiness. Forward and quite elegant. The palate is smooth with elegant cherry fruit. It's simple and primary, but there's some spice and again a bit of herbiness. Just a hint of green sappiness, but it doesn't clamp down too much on the bright fruit. Delicious. Very good+ 89/100 (£6.99 Marks & Spencer) 

Churchill Estates Douro 2004 Portugal
I like this wine a good deal: it tastes very much of the Douro and it's affordable, balanced and very drinkable. Nicely perfumed nose of dark spicy black cherry fruit with a savoury, dusty edge. The palate shows pure dark fruits with some spicy definition and a really attractive savouriness. Despite the relatively high alcohol (14.5%) this isn't a sweet, overripe style, but instead shows great balance and quite a bit of class. Very impressive. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£7.99 Majestic, has recently been on offer at £6.39 if you buy two)

Finca Sobreño Toro 2005 Spain
Deep coloured, this is all about rich, vibrant, sweet, almost jammy fruit. I say ‘almost’, because there’s still a bit of definition here, which stops it getting too mushy. Ripe black fruits are the order of the day, with a bit of spicy support from American oak. The fruit is always going to win out, though, and this is a generous, ripe red that’s sure to win lots of friends. The only slightly negative point is a subtle green, rubbery note, which distracts a little – I reckon this is from the American oak, but I can’t be sure. A super effort for the 3 for 2 price. 87/100 (£7.99 Thresher, but 3 for 2 which = £5.33 each)

Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV
Now for three really good Champagnes, beginning with this attractive wine that is well worth the asking price. Nice complex toasty nose, with a bit of herbiness. Quite tight. The palate is fresh and complex with tight herby flavours and a lovely savoury character. Impressive. 91/100 (£25.99 Oddbins, Majestic, Harrods, Selfridges) 

Champagne Pommery Brut Royale NV
Lovely fresh yet deep nose, with vanilla, toast and some sweet honeyed fruit. The palate is crisp, with lemony freshness and good acidity, as well as warm, nutty vanilla flavours. Great balance here with good complexity. Nice stuff. 92/100 (£24.99 Oddbins)

Champagne Bollinger Grand Année 1997
Bollinger's Grande Annee is one of the few elite Champagnes that is really worth the price premium. The 1997 is a lovely complex, full-flavoured fizz, with rich, toasty, nutty flavours and good acidity. Bold but balanced, this is delicious. 92/100 (c £45, widely available)

Château Tirecul la Gravière 2002 Montbazillac
Here's a fantastic sweet wine to round things off with. Powerful nose is sweet with intense apricot and peach fruit, and a touch of vanilla. The palate is intense and viscous with lots of spice and vanilla, as well as sweet peach-in-syrup notes. Wonderfully intense and quite complex, this is a rich, fat style of sweet wine. 92/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 

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