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Waitrose Christmas press tasting
Part 5 Reds from France and the new world (24 wines)

October 2002  

See also: Part 1, Fine wines; Part 2, fortified wines; Part 3, white wines; Part 4 Spanish, Italian and Portuguese reds

Herrick Syrah 2001, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Fermented in stainless steel with no wood. Deep coloured. Vivid, juicy savoury berry and liquorice fruit on the nose. The palate is quite rich with a nice savoury edge to the dense berry fruit. Very attractive and not at all confected, with good concentration. Very good+ (£4.99)

Château Pech-Latt 2001 Corbières, France
From an estate fully converted to organic viticulture since 1991, this is 70% Carignan, with the balance being Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Deep coloured. Lovely savoury, herby, liquoricey edge to the nose. The palate has a deliciously savoury character with bright, earthy edged fruit, inky juiciness and quite a bit of substance. Very good+ (£5.99)

Ermitage du Pic St Loup Cuvée Saint-Agnes 2001, Pic St Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc, France
Mainly Syrah, with some Grenache and Mourvèdre, aged in a mix of new and used barrels. Smoky, earthy, slightly meaty edge to the nose, which displays quite vivid berry fruit. The palate is fruity and juicy with a lovely savoury, earthy complexity. Midweight and quite nicely poised in quite a modern fruit-forward style, but still shows some ‘terroir’ character. Very good+ (£7.99)

Chapoutier Organic Côtes du Rhône 2001, France
An unoaked blend of Syrah and Grenache. Quite lightweight, but there’s a lovely smoky, earthy edge to the juicy berry fruit. Nice if a little light, I like this. Very good (£5.99)

Paul Jaboulet Aîné ‘Parallèle 45’ Côtes du Rhône 2000, France
Simple juicy cherry and raspberry fruit dominate. Good acidity but one-dimensional. Good/very good (£6.49)

Clos Saint-Michel Châteauneuf du Pape 2001, France
Aged in used Bordeaux barrels. Nice herby berry fruit on the nose. Chunky, chewy raspberry fruit on the palate. Good acid and concentration. Very good (£10.99)

Fairview Goats du Roam 2002 Western Cape, South Africa
A lightly oaked blend of Grenache, Pinotage, Carignan, Shiraz, Cinsault and Zinfandel. Vivid berry fruit nose with a savoury, herby twist. Bright raspberry fruit dominates the palate, with a lovely juicy, medicinal edge adding complexity. Dense and satisfying. Very good+ (£4.99)

Excelsior Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Roberston, South Africa
Good concentration. Pure, ripe blackcurrant and cherry fruit dominates this wine, which is warm and approachable with an attractive spicy finish. Brilliant commercial winemaking. Very good+ (£4.99)

Lanzerac Classic 2000, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Matured for 15 months in new French oak barrels, this is quite brilliant, in a modern style. Very striking, intense nose displaying complex licquorice and menthol notes together with vivid ripe fruit. The palate is rich, bold and intense; dense and modern with ripe fruit and firm tannins. Hugely satisfying and intense. Very good/excellent (£11.99)

Carpe Diem Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Wellington, South Africa
Opaque red/black colour. The nose shows ripe blackcurrant fruit, leading to a lush palate with taut, herby fruit. A tiny bit too sweet, but great concentration. Very modern styled. Very good+  (£9.99)

Steenberg Merlot 2000, Constantia, South Africa
Slightly faded colour. Bright blackcurranty herby fruit on the nose. Lots of pure berry fruit on the palate. Good concentration, but overall a slightly old-fashioned style with an austere finish. Very good+ (£9.99)

Fairview Cyril Back Shiraz 2000, Paarl, South Africa
Pure berry fruit nose leads to a palate displaying rich, ripe berry fruit, good acidity and a tarry, slightly medicinal edge. Attractive. Very good+ (£8.99)

Diemersfontein Pinotage 2000, Wellington, South Africa
This wine is matured in tanks which have French oak barrel staves bolted in to them. Very deep purple black. Striking roasted, toasty lift to the nose: very forward. The palate is herbal and toasty. It’s very appealing, but it does seem over-oaked, with a toasty, roasted almost burnt character. Very good (£6.99)

Avontuur Pinotage 2000, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Winemaker Lizelle Gerber has used 30% new oak barrels (mostly French) on this full throttle Pinotage. Striking rich, liquoricey nose with sweet fruit. Rich, concentrated savoury palate is quite striking and lovely. Modern styled, sweet and dense. Difficult to spot as Pinotage. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Anubis Malbec 2001, Mendoza, Argentina
From old vines with an average age of 60 years, this Malbec is aged in new French and American oak barrels. The nose is appealing and modern, with forward spicy, berry fruit. The palate shows a good concentration of vivid, herb-tinged fruit with rich oak and good acidity. Quite a bit of interest here. Very good/excellent (£5.99)

Gracia Merlot/Mourvèdre 2001, Maipo, Chile
Accessible with rather simple juicy fruit. Modern, but a bit light and lacking character. Good/very good (£5.99)

Mont Gras Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2000, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Very deep colour. Dominated by sweet, juicy herbal fruit, with some complexity. Satisfyingly rich. Very good+ (£7.49)

Wither Hills Pinot Noir 2001 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely herbal complexity to the vivid red-berry fruit on the nose. The palate is dense, rich and herbal with juicy fruit and some medicinal complexity. New world in style but nicely balanced. Very good/excellent (£13.99)

Step Road Sangiovese 2001, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Dense, tight berry fruit with high acidity and some assertive tannins. A little primary and simple at the moment. Good/very good (£6.99)

Rutherglen Estates Nebbiolo 2002, Victoria
(This is a tank sample) Fermented for a week with French oak chips, and then ‘rested’ on French oak blocks. Sweet ginger and herb notes on the nose. The palate shows spicy, herby, ginger-laced fruit. Very unusual, in a savoury style. I’m not too sure about the ginger character, which is a bit off-putting. Good/very good (£7.99)

Charleston Pinot Noir 2001, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
A blend of wines from four different Lenswood vineyards. Light colour with a fading rim. Sweetly spiced herbal fruit on the nose. The palate is nicely herbal with good balance and a spicy finish. Well judged and showing good varietal character. Very good+ (£8.99)

Chapel Hill ‘The Vicar’ 1998, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Matured in a mixture of old and new French and American oak barrels. Deep red black colour looks slightly faded. Sweet creamy intensity to the nose which displays lush black fruits. The palate is rich and concentrated with a good depth of sweet-edged black fruits. The oak is apparent but it doesn’t dominate. This is archetypally Australian in style and very classy. Will no doubt age well. Very good/excellent (£13)

Chateau Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz 1999, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Fermented in 7 ton open fermenters and basket pressed, before spending 18 months in American oak barrels. Classy nose shows rich dense fruit: lots of intensity here. The palate displays a lovely density of sweet, rich, tarry fruit with spicy oak and good acidity. Very Australian in style, but well done. Very good/excellent (£12.99)

Rosemount GSM 2000, McLaren Vale, South Australia
A premium blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre aged in second-fill American oak barrels. Rich open, spicy nose of blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. The palate shows a lovely concentration of spicy, oaky fruit. Rich, savoury and very attractive in style. Very good/excellent (£15) 

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