Tasting Notes


White Wines

10) Touraine Sauvignon
Thierry Michaud makes a crisp fresh floral sauvignon close to the banks of the River Cher  in the valley of the Loire. Its quality rivals that of a good Sancerre, with fleeting perfumes of redcurrant and gooseberry and the refreshing scent of hedgerows after a summer rainshower. Light in alcohol, it makes a brilliant aperitif with its delicate fresh fruit flavours.

11) Gruner Veltliner Am Berg
This is Austria’s flagship grape variety and we have a classic example from Bernhard Ott, or “Mr Gruner Veltliner” as he has become known in his own country thanks to his mastery of this grape in one of its finest locations, on the windblown loess soils of the Wagram district in the Danube valley just upstream from Vienna. Light, crisp, dry, totally refreshing and incredibly versatile with food. No surprise that it has been taking so much market share away from Chardonnay in recent years.

12) Sancerre Chavignol
At its best, Sancerre makes one of the world’s most compelling expressions of the sauvignon grape, racy and refreshing, with a thrilling cut of crisp acidity, at home with salads and fishy dishes as it is with a fresh goats cheese. No surprise that it is to be found on almost all good restaurant winelists. In the wines from Mathieu Delaporte you can be sure that you are getting the best available, from handharvested fruit (unlike the majority of Sancerres today).

14) Claudeval
Jean-Claude Mas is one of the most dynamic and innovative winemen of the Languedoc region of France today and has helped transform the region’s hitherto doubtful reputation. This simple Vin de Pays tastes more expensive than it is and the organic management of the vineyard has brought the wine to a higher level of character and vitality. It is a clever Old World wine with a New World accent.

18) Vriesenhof Chardonnay
Made by the former Springbok rugby legend that is Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, this classic Cape Chardonnay from the granite shale slopes just outside Stellenbosch is a match for famous names such as Chassagne Montrachet in Burgundy, but comes at a fraction of the price. Lime, mineral, dry biscuit, acacia honey and all the hallmarks of the famous grape at its best, with just a hint of toasty oak to add structure and complexity.

19) Rully La Montagne
Claudie Jobard makes marvellous white Burgundy from her small chardonnay vineyard in the Cote Chalonnaise,  a ten minute drive south of Beaune. The quality is as good as most Meursault. Match this with her equally fine red wine which we also have on the list.


Red Wines

21) Le Ronsay Beaujolais
Good juicy refreshing Beaujolais is one of the best value red wines on the planet and proof that good wine from gamay grapes is far more fun than mediocre and usually more expensive pinot noir. No one does it better than Jean-Paul Brun.

25) Claudeval
Jean-Claude Mas is a master at combining the best of Old World wine style with New World flair from his Languedoc vineyards in southern France. This wine made from a blend of Grenache, mourvedre, syrah and merlot grapes is the product of his organically managed vines. Beautifully balanced and characterful, it offers terrific value for money.

28) Paradskloof
The granite shale soils and the Mediterranean climate of Stellenbosch in the Cape winelands are perfect for the generous grenache grape and this wine offers gorgeously fruity, spicy refreshment with delicacy.

29) Cotes du Rhone
The southern Rhone valley is always a reliable source of generous red wines, robustly spicy. This Farjon family’s roots are so deeply implanted here that they even share their name with the little hamlet where they have their vines and cellars.

30) Chianti Campriano
The hills south of Siena in Tuscany can produce some of the most gentle and seductive Chianti, less heavily structured and oaky than many of the bigger Chianti Classico names, often more simple and honest and easier to drink. Ranuccio Neri makes the perfect example to remind us of those important virtues. A good alternative to a decent claret that will help you dream of vineyards and cypress trees and olive groves basking in the extraordinary Tuscan light and landscape.

31) Vina Cubillo Rioja
From Lopez de Heredia, unrivalled masters of the most traditional style of true refined Rioja, lightly polished by patient ageing in small old casks. This is a tribute to the harmonious relationship that can be achieved between wine and wood, a world away stylistically from the modern school of brash, overoaked and more brutal extraction of tannin, and consequently more compatible with food.

32) Rully La Chaume
Claudie Jobard is the 8th generation of her family to exploit their small vineyard here in the Cote Chalonnaise just south of Beaune , making wines with real class and finesse in the best tradition of Burgundy, both the delicate Chardonnay we also list here and this exquisite, gently perfumed Pinot Noir wine. Try them both.

36) Frales Nebbiolo
Silvano Bolmida is a true genius of a small grower making magically intense red wines from his 5 hectares of brilliantly situated vines in the heart of the Barolo district of Piedmont. He shows what can really be done with the barbera grape if you grow it in a great place and give it the Rolls Royce treatment. He is off the scale when it comes to organic vineyard practices and endlessly planting good cover crops between the rows to encourage soil health and biodiversity. This is a bold spicy wine that works brilliantly with warming meat dishes and game especially.

37) Margaux Trianon
Claret from Margaux is famous for its elegance and the wine is softer, less astringent than most red Bordeaux, succulent and seductive, with its classic blend of cabernet and merlot, plum and blackcurrant fruit showing in tandem with tobacco leaf and vanilla. This is from the vineyard of Haut Breton Larigaudiere in the heart of the appellation. The 2012 vintage is really attractive and fully approachable already, with fresh crunchy fruit and very gentle tannins.


Dessert Wine

49) Domaine de L’Alliance
Daniel Alibrand prunes every vine and fills every bottle here at this small and perfectly situated vineyard in Sauternes, making stunning quality that rivals Chateau d’Yquem itself, with a beautifully balanced fusion of intense sweetness and acidity Sparkling & Champagne.

Champagne

44) Champagne Lilbert
As Champagne specialist author Michael Edwards says in his guide to the greatest wines of the region, “the dynamic racy Champagnes of the hilltop village of Cramant have no finer exponent than the Lilbert family.” They are indeed “crystalline expressions of great chardonnay”, coming from just over three hectares of grand cru vineyard land. Here is a wine that loses nothing in comparison with the big names in the industry, and there are none of those big marketing costs that typically add £10 to the price of the bottle here.