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Waitrose Christmas press tasting
Part 3 The whites: 48 wines assessed

October 2002

Of the UK supermarkets, Waitrose has probably the best wine selection. I attended their autumn press tasting and I'll be writing up the 100 or so wines I tried in four parts. Part 3 assesses 48 white wines tasted.  

See also: See also: Part 1, Fine wines; Part 2, fortified wines; Part 4 Spanish, Portuguese and Italian reds

Huet ‘Le Mont’ Sec 2001, Vouvray, France
Noël Pinguet makes this dry white from grapes grown in the 8 ha Le Mont vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel and spends two months in barrique. Fresh, tightly focused nose shows herby fruity with a lemony edge. Rich fruity palate with smoky, waxy fruit and high acid. Quite impressive. Very good+ (£11.99)

Cave De Buxy Montagny 1er Cru Montcuchot 2001, Burgundy, France
Fresh, rich textured lemony fruit dominates. Clean and correct: a nice wine. Very good+ (£7.99)

Château Vitallis Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes 2001, Burgundy, France
Rich herby, nutty nose. Palate is quite rich with clean, fresh herby fruit and good acidity. Nutty. Very good+ (£10.95)

Ropiteau Mersault 1er Cru Perrières 2000, Burgundy, France
Barrel fermented with natural yeast. Elegant toasty, nutty nose leads to a rich palate with classy creamy nutty fruit. Quite a bit of new oak evident. Very good+ (£29.95)

La Cité Chardonnay 2001 Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
A third of the blend is made reductively from free-run juice at low temperatures. The rest is made using a mixture of oak chips and barrel fermentation. Very attractive commercial style with bright, fresh fruit and good concentration. Well judged use of oak adds some richness. Very good (£3.99)

Respect de la Nature Charcot Chardonnay/Grenache 2001 Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Trading on an organic ticket, this is a correct and quite flavoursome modern-styled wine with accessible fruit. Good/very good (£4.99)

French Connection Reserve Marsanne/Roussanne 2001 Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Hand-picked from vineyards in the Corbières region of the Languedoc. Part barrel fermented. Crisp modern fruity white with some herbal richness and an appealing texture. Good/very good  (£4.99)

Domaine La Colombette Chardonnay 2001 Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Libron, France
Fermentation begins in tank and then the wine completes the process in 600 litre barrels. Twice weekly battonnage on the lees. Pronounced striking rich toasty oak on the nose. The new oak is very evident but quite classy. Rich, toasty nutty palate is quite elegant and refined, if oaky. Very appealing in its distinctive style. Very good/excellent (£10.99)

Bordeaux Semillon 2001, France
Crisp, fresh, clean and grassy. Well made. With light structure this is a good summer wine. Good/very good (£3.99)

Château Thieuley 2001, Bordeaux, France
A blend of Sauvignon, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon. Nicely intense and herby. This is quite an expressive dry white with grassy, lemony fruit. Well made. Very good+ (£6.49)

Springfield Special Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Robertson, South Africa
This is harvested at night, and in 2002 the grapes were picked before the end of January. Extremely grassy. Rich herby grassy palate with a touch of herbaceous character. Good/very good (£7.49)

Fairview Viognier 2002, Paarl, South Africa
Half stainless steel, half barrel fermented. Very pretty floral nose is quite delicate with a lifted limey edge. Nicely weighted palate has good balance. Very good (£8.99)

Canepa Semillon 2001, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Fresh, fruity and quite lemony, but unremarkable. Good/very good (£3.99)

Gracia Chardonnay Reserva Ausente 2000, Bió-Bió Valley, Chile
Barrel fermented in new French oak. Rich fruity nose with toasty bready oak. The palate is rich, showing lush tropical fruit and a creamy texture. Very good (£5.99)

Concha Y Toro Viognier 2002, Tupungato
Striking ripe aromatic nose with pretty floral character. Nice weighty palate with good, fresh character and nice balance. Substantial and characterful, this is impressive stuff. Very good+ (£4.49)

Santa Julia Viognier Reserva 2001 Mendoza, Argentina
6 months in French oak. Striking herby floral nose with a lift from the toasty oak. The palate is attractive and herbal with noticeable oak character. A striking wine. Very good (£6.49)

Argento Chardonnay 2002 Mendoza, Argentina
Aged for four months in French and American oak barrels. Light, fresh lemony fruit on the nose with some oaky notes. The palate is midweight with good balance and some attractive spicy oak character. Nicely poised: good commercial winemaking. Very good (£4.99)

Catena Agrelo Vineyards Chardonnay 2001, Mendoza, Argentina
Low yielding Chardonnay barrel fermented with natural yeasts. The bold, striking nose is dominated by rich, toasty new oak and intense herbal fruit character. The palate is intense and concentrated with striking toasty, nutty oak. Very bold in style, this is quite complex and works well. Very good/excellent (£9.99)

Bonterra Chardonnay 2000, Mendocino, California
Organically grown grapes. Barrel fermented in a mix of new and old French and American oak barrels. This is a really good interpretation of oaky Chardonnay. Very appealing sweetly fruited nose with ripe fruit and toasty oak. The palate is concentrated and shows bold vanillin oak flavours and ripe fruit, with a creamy, bready richness. Appealing but quite oaky. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Hardys Stamp of Australia Semillon /Sauvignon Blanc 2002 South East Australia
Striking ripe rounded nose of gooseberry and blackcurrant fruit, with a herbal edge. The palate displays bright clean fruit. An appealing commercial style. Very good (£4.99)

Jindalee Chardonnay 2001 Murray Darling, Victoria, Australia
Some oak chips used. Slight tinned pea character on the nose. Bright and fruity, in a rounded, modern style. Tiny bit confected. Good (£4.99)

Houghton HWB Classic Dry White 2001, Western Australia
Mostly Chenin Blanc, with some Chardonnay, Verdelho and Semillon. Half the blend was fermented and matured in barrels. The result is an appealing fruity white. Ripe rounded fruit on the nose with a herbal edge. Good acidity on the palate. A fruity commercial style. Good/very good (£5.99)

Basedow Barossa Valley Semillon 2000 South Australia
Part of the blend barrel fermented in new and one-year-old American oak. Deep coloured. Lovely lemony fruit meshes well with toasty oak on the nose. Bright, appealing palate with a slightly woody finish. Impressive. Very good+ (£5.99)

Charleston Pinot Gris 2001, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Herby fruit on the nose with a slightly smoky edge. Quite tight rich-textured spicy fruit on the palate. An interesting dry white, if slightly alcoholic. Very good (£6.99)

Wilkie Estate Organic Verdelho 2002, Adelaide Plains, South Australia
From a six hectare vineyard established in 1978, this is an impressive expression of the Verdelho grape. Lovely bright lemony fruit on the nose with a herby twist. The palate is rich-textured with a slightly sweet edge from the residual sugar (9.8 g/l). It's not a sweet wine, but a little sugar left in a bone dry, acidic wine like this really fills out the texture. Appealing. Very good/excellent (£6.49)

Chapel Hill Verdelho 2001 McLaren Vale, Australia
From Chapel Hill’s Kangarilla vineyard, where the vines are trained to offer three levels of ripeness. No oak used. Deep coloured. Intriguing nose shows herby, tropical fruit with some floral notes. Rich, concentrated palate displays some herbal complexity with good acidity. Very appealing. Very good/excellent (£7.49)

Temple Bruer Chenin Blanc 2002, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Organic. Modern, fruity nose with herby, lemony fruit. The palate is youthful, lemony and spicy. Still quite tanky. Very good (£6.99)

Yalumba ‘Y’ Series Viognier 2002, South Australia
Quite a bright, fresh lemony nose with a tight, citrussy lift. The palate is quite rich textured but with good acidity. Tastes youthful and doesn’t yet show much varietal character. Very good (£6.99)

Jacob’s Creek Riesling 2002 South East Australia
85% Riesling. Crisp, limey nose leads to a fresh, bright, high-acid palate. Nice enough but lacks excitement. Very good (£5.49)

Nepenthe Riesling 2001 Adelaide Hills, Australia
No oak or malolactic fermentation. Striking expressive nose is very exciting, with lifted floral, limey notes. Vivid crisp, limey palate with good acidity. A lovely fresh expressive style of Riesling that should age for up to a decade. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2000, Victoria, Australia
Fermented in a mixture of new and old French oak barrels. Deep coloured. Intensely herby, fruity nose is rounded with tropical fruit evident. Toasty, mealy, herby palate shows good concentration and a savoury, oaky finish. A striking wine. Very good+ (£11.99)

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 1999 South Australia
Made from fruit from Adelaide Hills, Piccadilly and  Fleurieu, and fermented and aged in French oak barrels (80% new). Intense, tight-knit nose shows complex herby, toasty and bready notes with a rich, savoury complexion. The palate is hugely concentrated with lots of complex nutty fruit and good acidity. Savoury and tight knit with the potential to evolve over at least the short term. Very good/excellent (£40)

Montana Sauvignon Blanc 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Brancott, Squire and Kaituna Estates in Wairau Valley. Quite an expressive grassy nose leads to a fruity, grassy palate. Perhaps a little one dimensional but still appealing and a good example of NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Very good+ (£5.99) 

Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
Winemaker Brent Marris has fashioned a lovely, crisp expression of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with an expressive, grassy nose. Nicely balanced crisp herbal palate. Very appealing wine. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
100% Massey clone Sauvignon Blanc from Jackson Estate’s own vineyards. Lovely expressive fresh aromatic grassy nose with some floral hints and herbal complexity. The vividly fruited palate shows nice balance. Fresh and lively. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Old Renwick Vineyard 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand
Refined herby, slightly grassy nose is quite restrained. The palate is quite classy and concentrated with good acidity. It’s currently quite lean, in a herbal, tight-knit style. Great potential for development. Very good/excellent (£9.99)

Frog Haven Pinot Gris 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
90% Pinot Gris, 10% Riesling. Unusual restrained, spicy, sherbetty nose. Quite a rounded texture on the palate with clean fruit. Unusual but a little simple at the moment. Very good+ (£5.99)

Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
Herbal, limey nose is clean and pure. Rich textured palate with a rounded character from the residual sugar (8 g/l). Clean and pure, with a crisp acid finish. Very good+ (£6.99)

Montana Reserve Gewurztraminer 2001, Gisborne, New Zealand
The majority of the fruit for this wine came from the Patutahi Estate as the single-vineyard wine wasn’t made this year. Deep coloured. Rich honey and apricot nose with some floral notes. The palate is richly textured with sweet herbal character and a medium-dry finish. Quite a bit of residual sugar in this concentrated wine. Very unusual and appealing. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer 2001, Alsace, France
Sweet edged herbal nose with an odd floral edge. The palate is quite rich with a dense herbal character. The residual sugar creates a rounded texture. Nice but unusual. Very good+ (£5.99)

Hugel Riesling Vendange Tardive 1996, Alsace, France
Quite a deep colour. Striking full, limey herbal nose with some complex honeyed notes. The palate explodes with a combination of dense honeyed, sweet fruit and contrasting limey, citrussy fruit. The high acidity holds the high residual sugar (25 g/l) nicely in tension, and it is not overly sweet. Spectacular stuff, but not quite fully in balance yet, with the acidity poking out just a touch. Very good/excellent (£27.95)

Domaine des Forges Coteaux du Layon Chaume 2001, Loire, France
This sweet Chenin Blanc has 125 g/l of residual sugar. Slightly odd herbal note to the nose: unclean? Rich, lush, viscous palate is a bit syrupy but shows great concentration and rich flavours. I was expecting this to be better. Good/very good  (£8.99 for 50 cl)

Château Les Sablines 1998 Montbazillac, France
Clean, waxy, herby, honeyed nose. The palate is rich, sweet and lush with honey and caramel notes. Very intense. Perhaps just a little lacking in acidity but nice clean and sweet. Very good+ (£6.99 for 50 cl)

Château Doisy Daëne 2000 Sauternes 2ème Grand Cru Classé, France
Lovely creamy marmalade character to the nose with some botrytis-derived complexity. The palate is sweet and rich textured, perhaps lacking just a touch of acid, but still very nice. Very good+ (£11.99 for 37.5 cl)

Château Roûmier Lacoste 1998 Sauternes, France
From old vines in the heart of Barsac. Interesting herby lift to the nose. The palate is sweet and rich but lacks complexity. Very good (£9.49 for 37.5 cl)

Château Bastor Lamontagne 1997 Sauternes, France
Notes of straw and herbs on the nose. The palate is rich and viscous with good acidity,  herby complexity and honeyed sweetness. Satisfying and rich. (£24.95)

Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 1996, Hungary
High acidity on the palate with some herby complexity. Dense and rich. Herby, spicy nose. Nice stuff. Very good+ (£9.99 for 50 cl)

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