By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 22 October 2022
My latest finds include fizz for celebrations, restorative whites, warming autumn reds – and a gentle introduction to the ‘orange’ wine style:
Champagne, France: CHAMPAGNE PALMER GRANDS TERROIR 2015 (12%)
£74 The Finest Bubble
If you have not heard of Champagne Palmer, they are undoubtedly the region’s best co-operative who specialise in exceptionally long ageing. This 2015 vintage Champagne is from their Premier & Grand Crus vineyards; a great example of their characteristic rich brioche, creamy toasty style.
Dorset, England: LANGHAM CORALLIAN CLASSIC CUVEE NV (12%)
£27 The Wine Society
It is cheaper to buy it from this retailer than from the vineyard – this is a delicious Chardonnay-dominant cuvee with rich brioche nose, pearskin notes, taut acidity, minerally backbone with such richness and intensity for the price. It scored highly in our recent fizz tasting.
Jurancon. France: JURANCON SEC 2020 Clos de la Vierge (14.5%) ***STAR BUY***
Stand-out white wine at Laithwaites’ recent tasting – from the Gros Manseng grape grown in a single vineyard Clos de la Vierge – and made by two 70+ sisters Anne-Marie and Christiane. Beautifully balanced acidity and zesty peachy fruit with underlying crisp minerality. Very good.
Kakheti, Georgia: RKATSITELI 2020 Tiko Estate (12%)
£21 Liliamo Wines; Astrum Winecellars
Rkatsiteli is Georgia’s most planted grape, here made in an interesting Burgundian style by talented brothers Levan and Giorgi Chychynadze with part stainless steel, part oak fermentation – deliciously weighty concentrated citric fruit, rounded smooth leesy palate with long length and fine acid balance.
McLaren Vale, Australia: ‘FIFI’ FIANO 2021 S C Pannell (13.5%)
£18 The Wine Society
Italian grape Fiano hails from Campania inland from Naples, but as a heat and drought tolerant variety it has found a home in the maritime climate of McLaren Vale in South Australia. Winemaker Stephen Pannell, who was once chief winemaker at Hardys before setting up on his own, makes delightfully floral scented, zesty succulent fruited and gently oaked white.
Weinviertal, Austria: PFAFFL HAIDEN GRUNER VELTLINER 2021 (13.5%)
One of the best Gruner Veltliners I have tasted recently made by award winning Pfaffl winery run by siblings Roman Josef and sister Heidi who grow gra[es on the lower slopes of the Bisamberg mountain in deep loess soils. It is dense, rich and concentrated, but still crisp with lingering finish.
OFF DRY WHITE
Pfalz, Germany: RUPPERTSBERGER HOHEBURG RIESLING KABINETT 2021 (9.5%) ***GREAT VALUE***
£7.95 The Wine Society
Very popular at our recent tasting; deliciously fresh zippy Riesling with ripe concentrated fruits and hints of gentle sweetness from an exceptionally good co-operative who has holdings in the acclaimed Hoheburg vineyard in the Mittelhaardt area of Pfalz, in one of Germany’s warmest regions. Superb value.
Southern France: THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT 2021 (12.5%)
Cleverly crafted equal blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, with just 10% Pinot Gris. Natural yeast ferment with time on skins and lees ageing have given it silky smooth texture and creaminess. Very unusual – and a good gentle introduction to orange wines.
Languedoc, France: PEZENAS EDITION LIMITEE 2019 Chassaux & Fils (14%) ***GREAT VALUE***
I was a bit put off by the weight of the embossed bottle, but this new edition to Aldi’s Specially Selected range is exceptionally good value. From Pezenas region in the Herault, it has a deliciously soft robust fruit character, plenty of ripe fruit and warming pepper and spice on the palate. Suit those who like Cotes du Rhone reds.
Marlborough, New Zealand: LAGREIN 2017 Stanley Estates (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£12.99 Frontier Fine Wines; £14.30 Great Grog, Edinburgh
New Zealand’s first Lagrein – and what an achievement. This Italian grape is usually found in Alto Adige in north east Italy grown at high altitude, but it has found a home in Marlborough’s Awatere valley. Deliciously plump with cherry fruits, hints of liquorice and leather, soft smooth tannins, subtle oak and hints of spice.
Valais, Switzerland: PINOT NOIR 2020 Glace Roche (13%)
Don’t be put off by the dreadful label, which looks like a cheap vin de table - this Pinot Noir is one of a range of well-made Swiss wines in Aldi – the others are Gamay and Fendant. Swiss wines sold in the UK are usually expensive, but this is a good price for Pinot Noir from Valais. Light raspberry fruits, soft smooth palate, very approachable in style.
Join Rose’s Champagne v Sparkling Wine Tasting with Buffet at Rufflets Hotel, St Andrews on Friday 18 November www.rosemurraybrown.com