PREVIOUS WINES OF THE WEEK - July to December 2010
2009 Wines of the Week
Wines of the Week 2010 Jan to Jun
WINE OF THE WEEK 12th July 2010

Charles Back Barbera 2008
Marks and Spencer 9.99
Drinker rating 88

I really love Barbera, she's an Italian beauty, but now she's moved to South Africa, where she's become more enticing than ever. Voluptuous and fleshy but not flabby...

OK enough! Barbera is a grape variety full of black cherry and grippy tannins. This is a high scorer unlike the World Cup which was a damp squib. Try this World Cup Winner, resilient enough to withstand a Nigel de Jong tackle and much more subtle and intense than Andres Iniesta.

Top drop.
WINE OF THE WEEK 19th July 2010

Asda Extra Special Fiano 2009
ASDA 5.98
Drinker rating 87

Does anyone really know what greengage tastes like? I think it must taste a bit like this Fiano as that's what I put in my tasting notes.

Fiano is a white grape grown mainly in Italy (although it's becoming increasingly popular in Australia). This one is from Sicily and has good crisp acidity, elements of apple and passion fruit. ASDA do a really good range of wines in the lower price bracket so go and have a mooch in their wine aisles and look out for my supermarket review coming later this week.

WINE OF THE WEEK 26th July 2010

Cotes du Rousillion Chateau de Pena 2007
The Wine Society 6.50
Drinker rating 85

A real winner from the Wine Society, this is the full works. Concentrated and rich black fruit, damson, blackberry and vanilla oak. Big but soft tannins, this is a rich and mouth-watering full bodied red.

It comes from quite a hot part of France so the fruit always ripens producing full flavoured and sometimes quite high alcohol wines (although this is approachable at 13.5%). It's also a fairly unfashionable and up and coming part of the world so provides great value for money.
WINE OF THE WEEK 4th Aug 2010

Chateau de l'Estang 2007
Co-op  8.99
Drinker rating 84

The Co-op aren't just about Fairtrade - as good as many of them are, they also do a really good range of the classics. This is a really nice Bordeaux from Cotes de Castillion on the right bank of the Dordogne. I like this area as it's not massively fashionable and therefore produces really tidy wines at very competitive prices.

Personally I wouldn't pay much less than 8 or 9 quid for Bordeaux, any less and there's a real big drop off in quality. This has a big fruity open nose, tremendous depth in flavour which is developing and will continue to in the bottle for another couple of years. It's soft and fruity in the mouth with hints of oaky vanilla. All this and you get your divy.
WINE OF THE WEEK 9th Aug 2010

La Grille Pinot Noir Rosé 2009 Sylvian Miniot
Majestic 6.99 (5.99 each for two)

Drinker rating 82

A proper Drinker Wine of the Week this one. Beautiful salmon pink colour, great light red friut on the nose, good acidity, nice hints of raspberry, dry, refreshing and a great price. This is a top buy, my house rosé this summer.
WINE OF THE WEEK 16th Aug 2010

HILLTOP Czerszegi Fuszeres 2009
Morrisons 3.99

Drinker rating 82

Another real bargain this week,this is a beautiful big blousey wine, lots of floral aromas, it's a bit Gewertztraminer. Dry and restrained on the palate with interesting gooseberry and petal notes. Just don't ask me how you pronounce czerszegi fuszeres - I wish i played Scrabble.
WINE OF THE WEEK 23rd Aug 2010

Snapper Cove Chardonnay 2009
Marks and Spencer 6.99

Drinker rating 89

A good full ripe nose, what you'd expect from Aussie Chardonnay. This has a bit more subtlety and complexity. The grapes were harvested at night to protect them against the heat of the sun and help retain their freshness. Then a third were fermented with a special yeast, a third fermented on oak planks and a third was allowed to develop with malo-lactic fermentation. Very complicated and it shows. Rich full chardonnay, hints of apple and vanilla. A real corker at a great price.
WINE OF THE WEEK 30th Aug 2010

Sancerre Oscar Brilliant
ASDA 5.98

Drinker rating 84

This is a classic ASDA wine, great price, top value and a bit better than you'd expect. (click the ASDA link below for more suggestions).

This is a lovely drop, restrained sauvignon blanc from Sancerre, a soft unripe peach nose, with hints of minerality. It's got a citrus zest from good acidity and lingers on the palate with a hint of lychee. Terrific value, a really nice late summer wine.

Grab a bottle and get in the garden while you still can.
WINE OF THE WEEK 6th Sept 2010

Bruno Cordero Barbera d'Asti Superiore
Morrisons 6.98

Drinker rating 85

When does autumn start? It feels a bit autumnal at the moment so this is why I've chosen this wine.

It's generous and fruity, like the hedgerows in September, a spicy nose with little hints of an autumn forest floor. It's got black cherry and pepper on the palate a real cracker and such good value at under 7.
WINE OF THE WEEK 13th Sept 2010

Domaine Sainte Rose 'la Garrigue' Syrah Grenche
Majestic 6.99 (5.99 each for two)

Drinker rating 87

This is my autumn house red. It has a smoky bonfire nose, full complex and beautiful. Big red friut character, wonderful structure, integrated tannin. This is powerful stuff at a great price.

If you can still squeeze in a barbie this year, this would make a great accompaniment to grilled lamb chops.
WINE OF THE WEEK 20th Sept 2010

ASDA Extra Special Primitivo 2007
ASDA 6.98
Drinker rating 84

At the last ASDA Press tasting I was lucky enough to spend some time talking to their top wine person Philippa Carr MW, and as we stood over the fabulous French whites she told me that these are 'her babies', and very good they were too, but I also have to commend ADSA on their great range of Italian reds (click the ASDA link below for more recommendations). One of these is their Extra Special Primitivo 2007, a deep, dark, brooding, intense Italian, it's developing a really complex leathery nose and has a really solid blackberry foundation. Top stuff, great value and like I say in the ASDA section if you're in store you could do a lot worse than pick any of their Extra Special range.
WINE OF THE WEEK 27th Sept 2010

Nobilo Orca Bay Merlot 2008
Waitrose 7.59
Drinker rating 84

Comrades, it's now time for us to embrace a new red! No, not Ed Milliband, this is a new world red from New Zealand. I think this wine, with its smoky chorizo nose is redolent of autumn bonfires, it has a soft velvety mouthfeel, supple and welcoming. It starts with a  nice peppery nose and ends with a long complex finish - and is great at the price.

So come brothers and sisters, let us unite and fight the oppressors! Let us rise up and take control of the means of production - or in this case reasonably priced merlot - the time for revolution is nigh, or failing that we have to wait for Ed to work his magic.
WINE OF THE WEEK 4th Oct 2010

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux 2007
Marks and Spencer
35 (or 25% off if you buy six)
Time for a celebration, but finding the right wine for this knees up is a bit problematic as I can't find a single wine from Northern Ireland. The celebration? Oh it's Graham McDowell sinking the winning putt for Europe to win the Ryder Cup.

So obviously I've gone for a European wine and this is a real belter if you want to push the boat out. It is a classic white Burgundy it has really clean orange blossom and lemon zest notes but is complex, full and rich.

But if you really want to raise a glass to Graham, look out for McDowell vineyard Syrah (available direct by mail-order only, google McDowell Wines). And with the sweetest irony it's an American wine.
WINE OF THE WEEK 11th Oct 2010

Chapel Down English Rosé
Marks and Spencer  9.99
Drinker Rating 82
We tend to drink more red in the winter and white in the summer, so I see no reason why we shouldn't drink loads of rosé in the autumn. This is the perfect seasonal transition wine, it's salmon pink and has a complex unripe strawberry nose while still being fresh and aromatic. And it's English which is fantastic as an English autumn is a thing of beauty.
Waitrose is really the place to go for English wines so it's good to see M&S promoting our local stuff too.

WINE OF THE WEEK 18th Oct 2010

Chivite Gran Fuedo Seleccion Especial, Navarra 2007
The Wine Society 6.95
Drinker Rating 84
We had frost this week - frost in October! Dear oh dear. I suppose it's about time we had a big full ballsy red to keep the cold out and to snuggle up in front of the fire with. And this is the one. With its big forward fruit, black pepper and cedar spice this is a lot of wine for the price. Really great value and just the right wine for the time of year.

WINE OF THE WEEK 25th Oct 2010

Extra Special Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008
ASDA 7.98
Drinker Rating 85
If, over the last few years you've joined the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) Gang this is the wine to cure you of your phobia. Back in the 90s we all loved chardonnay, but they grew far too much of it and started to use stupid amounts of oak, which put us all off.
This is the wine to start making you fall back in love with this most versatile of grapes. Lime zest and apple on the nose, it's crisp and dry with good body and refreshing acidity.

Good old Asda, the Extra Special range comes up trumps again.
WINE OF THE WEEK 1st Nov 2010

Ermita de San Lorenzo Garnacha Cabernet Gran Reserva 2000
Laithwaites 8.99 (6.99 when buying 6)
Drinker Rating 92
I was really impressed by the Spanish and Portugese wines at the recent Laitrhwaites press tasting and as I'm off the Spain for a few days I thought I'd give this fantastic wine a plug.

This is a real beauty, I don't often rate wines in the 90s and this has a well deserved 92 due to its structure and development, it has hints of leather and tobacco on top of wonderfully silky fruit. It's had three years in oak and a further seven in the bottle and at this price is a real contender to be my winter house red. Cracking wine at a great price.
WINE OF THE WEEK 8th Nov 2010

La Difference Viognier Muscat, 2009 Vin de Pays D'Oc
Tesco 5.99
Drinker Rating 85

I don't often recommend medium-dry wines, they're so unfashionable. But I was really taken by this at the Tesco Press Tasting as it's really well made and light.

Very tropical fruit flavours mix with a real sense of Muscat grapey-ness. It has zesty orange pith notes and surprisingly good acidity. At this price this is a top wine for a pre-dinner aperitif or as an easy evening slurprer.
WINE OF THE WEEK 15th Nov 2010

Santa Juila Organica Bonarda/Sangiovese 2009 Mendoza, Argentina
Waitrose 7.49
Drinker Rating 87

This is a proper winter warmer, lots of intense ripe black fruit, warming spice and vanilla. It's also got just the right amount of tannin giving excellent structure to this top value wine.

It's a pity we've just missed out on the Waitrose 25% off wine deal, but even so this is great value at 7.49. Really good for a frosty night in front of the fire and will be great with a meaty winter stew.
WINE OF THE WEEK 22nd Nov 2010

DB Reserve Pinot Noir, De Bortoli
Majestic 5.99 from 23/11/10 to 31/01/11
Drinker Rating 90

With only three days to go until the Ashes this is the last time in a while that I'll be able to say anything nice about the Australians. So having thumped their terrible rugby team - home and away (sounds catchy) it's now time to beat up their terrible cricket team.

This is a smasher, a real find, I rarely rate wines in the 90s but this deserves every point. Spicy sweet cedar, light raspberry fruit, it's full yet restrained - a restrained Australian, who'd have thought it possible? This is the time of year when I think about my House Wines for Christmas, and at 5.99 (until the end of Jan) this is a real contender.

So tune in on Thursday night and settle down with a bottle of this - I wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else.
WINE OF THE WEEK 6th Dec 2010

Altos del Condor Sauvignon Gris
Marks and Spencer 6.99
Drinker Rating 85

With all these student demonstrations going on I was beginning to wonder if there was a good demo wine, and then I thought don't be stupid, where would you keep the wine cooler? Surely you'd spill some? And the police would probably take your corkscrew as an offensive weapon.

So I thought, 'what did I drink as a student?' Well it was cheap for a start, and as I recall it was not very nice. I do remember Bulgarian cabernet sauvignon being on offer most of the time I was a scholar.

But things have moved on since then, wine has improved no end, so you can easily look sophisticated for half the price of my Bulgarian rubbish.

Try this, good price, refreshing, delicious. You don't often see sauvignon gris, so this is a really good introduction if you're new to the grape.
WINE OF THE WEEK 13th Dec 2010

Extra Special Crozes Hermitage
ASDA 7.97
Drinker Rating 85

As the winter is getting harsher this week I'm recommending a wine that's big, full bodied and rich. Crozes Hermitage is a classic wine and this is a really good example of the style, and great value to boot. It has loads of fruit character, blackberry and black cherry, with bags of pepper and an oaky finish. As the snow approaches and the frosts deepen make yourself a beef stew, add a glug or two of this and settle down in front of the fire.
WINE OF THE WEEK 20th Dec 2010

Laurent Miquel Heritage Vineyards Syrah 2008
Tesco 8.99
Drinker Rating 90

So here's one for Tony McCoy, 15 times Champion National Hunt Jockey and at long last the well deserved BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Sadly Tony's not much of a drinker, but as he's a really nice bloke we should raise a glass in his honour - particularly as he's won me so much money over the years.

A great wine for the price, but this doesn't get 90 points on the price alone, this is the full number. It has a mellow coffee ad chocolate nose and complex medicinal flavours, I know these are very poncey wine-bloke terms, but get some down you, at this price what have you got to lose?
WINE OF THE WEEK 27th Dec 2010

Plantagenet Samson's Range Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Waitrose 7.99
Drinker Rating 88

The Aussies need all the help they can get at the moment, what with the on-going carnage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. So what better than this belter of a red to calm down poor old Ricky Ponting. Unlike his Australia team this has great balance and depth, it also has really in your face fruit (much like that which will be pelted at the Aussie captain later this week) and is really likeable.