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October/November 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

Jeff C... Morillon Blanc 2005 Vin de Pays de l'Aude, France
This unusual wine made by Jeff Carrel has a striking personality. From what I gather, the Chardonnay grapes used to make this wine (Morillon is another name for Chardonnay) have been fermented either with some botrytised grapes, or on the skins of botrytised grapes used to make a sweet wine. [Perhaps someone can help me out here?] The result is a deep yellow gold coloured wine with a powerful nose of nuts, honey, vanilla, lemons and apricots. The palate is richly textured with some marmalade tang adding bite to smooth, sweet-edged tropical fruit. There's a rich texture here, and some subtle oxidative notes. Not for everyone - it has almost too much flavour - but I really like it. 91/100 (£8.45 Averys)

Maison Alex Gambal Fixin Blanc 2005 Burgundy, France
American Alex Gambal came to Burgundy with his family in the early 1990s, and decided to stay. In 1997 he set up his own small negociant business in Beaune, buying grapes from selected growers, and then making the wines in a largely hands-off, traditional fashion. This white Fixin is a good example of the high quality results of this single-minded approach. It has a broad, bready, fruity nose with some nutty depth. The palate is open and full with rounded fruit and some minerality. This is a really interesting white Burgundy with plenty of personality. 90/100 (£16.95 winedirect.co.uk)

Chateau Musar 1999 Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
Complex savoury spicy nose shows so much aromatic interest, it's hard to know where to begin. There's leather, earth, a hint of balsamic vinegar, warm spices and some sweet red fruits. The palate is warm and harmonious, with a lovely sweet and savoury sort of character. It's full, earthy and spicy with a bit of bitter tang like a stinky cheese. In fact, I reckon people who don't get Musar are a bit like people who will only eat plastic-packed cheddar and find goats cheese offensive. Anyway, this is soft, warm, mellow and complex. A really good vintage of this wine in the mould of the 1993 or 1991. This has a 20-30 year drinking window, because it's lovely now but will continues to develop for ages. 93/100 (£13.99 Sainsbury’s, Waitrose)

Domaine de Trevallon 2000 Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhone
Dark, intense, savoury and spicy on the nose, with an earthy, slightly medicinal whiff at the edges. It's complex and thought provoking. The palate is concentrated, earthy and spicy, with a firm, almost impenetrable spicy structure, giving it a very dry, savoury mouthfeel. There's some blackcurranty fruit here, but this is not a fruit-dominated wine. It's like a really good Bandol in character, with great depth and plenty of potential for long ageing. And it's only 12.5% alcohol. 94/100 (£24.95 Yapp)

Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir 2006 Central Otago
Medium colour, which is a good thing with Pinot. You don't want your Pinot to look like Shiraz. Warm cherry and spice nose which is quite aromatic and fresh. The palate has a nice concentration of spicy berry and cherry fruit with good acidity keeping things very fresh, and giving a hint of plummy sourness to the finish. A bright, supple style with a fair bit of complexity and some structure, which makes me think it might age well over the next few years. 90/100 (£16.95 Hellion Wines)

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2005 Clare Valley
(Natural cork closure) Very deep coloured. Wonderful fruit purity here, despite the 15% alcohol which means that in the EU this wine has to be labelled 'special late harvested'. Ripe, sweet nose with lovely lush red and black fruits, but it's still alive and fresh. Not at all dead. The palate has pure, vivid spicy fruit with lovely focus, backed up by some tannic structure that keeps it savoury. There's a bit of alcoholic heat here, adding sweetness and bitterness at the same time, but that's my only negative on what is a lovely, intense, fruit-driven wine. 92/100 (£7.99 Hailsham Cellars, www.hailshamcellars.com)

Marks & Spencer Silver Tree Merlot 2005 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Sealed with a Diam. This lovely Merlot has a gravelly, minerally nose with nice spicy depth to the palate, which displays appropriately ripe (but not jammy) fruit. It's fruity, but not overly so, and there's just a hint of greenness here, but it's a good sort of greenness - this is a wine perfectly in balance. Satisfying stuff with some old world elegance. Very stylish and a bargain at this price. I reckon this must come from a serious producer (found out later that it’s made by Chris Williams at Meerlust). 89/100 (£8.99 Marks & Spencer)

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