2009 Wines of the Week
Wines of the Week 2010 Jan to Jun
Wines of the Week 2010 July to Dec
WINE OF THE WEEK 3rd Jan 2011

Quinta das Mouras, Alentejo 2009
Laithwaites £6.99
Drinker Rating 90

Whoever is buying the Spanish and Portuguese wines for Laithwaites is doing a terrific job, this is another absolute belter at a great price from the mail order specialists.

The Alentejo is a really progressive part of south central Portugal, it's where the corks come from. In recent years thanks to a lot of EU cash the wines of the region have improved no end. This one is dominated by syrah and as such is full bodied with lots of inviting ripe black fruit and good soft tannins. It has elegance complexity shown in a really long smoky, tobacco finish.

I really don't mark many wines in the 90s but this is a top drop at a great price.
WINE OF THE WEEK 10th Jan 2011

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée - West Sussex
Waitrose £26.99
Drinker Rating 87

It's a week of celebration, first the fantastic achievement of our boys winning the Ashes added to the fact that my birthday is this week. So what would be more appropriate than opening up a bottle of something English.

Nyetimeber make world class fizz and this is all apple and hedgerow. It's a bit on the pricey side but how often is a bloke 41? Classy, elegant, well made, brut. And that's just me.

Chin chin
WINE OF THE WEEK 17th Jan 2011

Tesco Finest Cremant d'Alsace Riesling 2008
Tesco (196 stores) £8.99
Drinker Rating 84

A sparkling riesling, go on, you know you want to .

This has really refreshing peach and cucumber notes, it's light and delicious and just right to raise the spirits in what is supposed to be the most depressing week of the year. Particularly as you're trying to lose a bit of weight at the moment, this would go really well with grilled fish or chicken.
WINE OF THE WEEK 24th Jan 2011

ASDA Chilean Chardonnay
ASDA £3.88
Drinker Rating 84

This is a really well made and interesting wine and really good for the end of January for two reasons.

First, it's bright and zesty, just enough tropical fruit to remind us what the sun looks like.

Second, it's £3.88 - a great price at a time when we're all a bit skint.

Look out for The Drinker's Wine Course coming soon for a full breakdown of Chardonnay and all it can do.
WINE OF THE WEEK 31st Jan 2011

Santa Rita 120 Viognier, Maipo Valley
Majestic £6.99 - £5.49 when you buy 2
Drinker Rating 87

Chile is top of my list for value for money wines, and not only are they pound for pound the best buy around, they're generally very well made and really approachable.

This Viognier is zippy and refreshing while retaining some really nicely balanced tropical fruit flavours. This would be really good as the first patio wine of the year - or failing that it would be right up my street as the first drop I had if I'd been trapped down a mine for a month.

Drink up.
WINE OF THE WEEK 7th Feb 2011

Umberto Fiore Barbaresco
Marks and Spencer - £10.99
Drinker Rating 92

That Silvio Burlusconi's a funny bloke. In any other country he'd have been laughed out of office years ago but you've got to admire the guy's staying power. An Italian friend of mine says that all his macho posturing, womanising and carousing plays really well in middle Italy.
It would be hard to see David Cameron acting like this and getting away with it - bit of a pity really, it would certainly liven up Prime Minister's Question Time.

So here's another robust Italian, big and fruity but with a distinguished backbone of refined tannin. Great with food, one ofr the lovers come Valentines. And despite being eleven quid, good value.

Bunga Bunga.
WINE OF THE WEEK 14th Feb 2011

Wirra Wirra Church Block, McLaren Vale
The Wine Society £9.95 / Waitrose £11.39
Drinker Rating 91

When I go to big trade wine tastings I have to taste hundreds of wines and it becomes really hard making legible notes, staying sober, and not tipping over glasses. I end up with red stained teeth and fingers, it's all thoroughly unglamorous I can tell you. But I do all this so that you don't have to.

It's at these events that I have developed some shorthand so that I don't have to write great long essays about aromas of violets, spice and wet dogs on a sunny day. One of the terms I use is 'Dids' as this is the name of a very good friend of mine who really goes for modern, fruity, juicy New World wines. And this is one such wine.

Big forward blackcurrant flavours, moderate tannin, full body, it's ripe and delicious and everything that Aussie wine does best (including a whopping 14.5% alcohol). Well done Dids, you've picked a cracker here.
WINE OF THE WEEK 21st Feb 2011

ASDA Extra Special Viognier Languedoc
ASDA £6.97
Drinker Rating 85

A while ago I wrote somewhere that my rule of thumb when buying wines at ASDA is to go for anything with the words 'Extra Special' on it. I am thoroughly convinced that all ASDA Extra Special wines are fantastic and top value for money. And this week's wine of the week is no different.

Viognier usually has some floral aromatic notes, but this is more restrained and retains some steely minerality along with light pear. There is extra complexity here with a degree of well judged oak. A top wine, and a great wine for the price. Complex, full bodied and elegant. Good stuff.
WINE OF THE WEEK 28th Feb 2011

Tesco Finest Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc
Tesco £7.99
Drinker Rating 87

Brace yourselves - this is a medium dry white wine, I know this is desperately unfashionable but it's time we all grew up and opened our minds to new experiences.

I think that medium dry is the right note to hit when sat in the garden in early spring, it's sometimes hard to match with food (although in my mind this would go really well with the sweetness of a chicken korma). There's some forward fruit, apples and pears with the right amount of balancing acidity to help carry its sweetness.

The sweetness gives the wine some optimism, a feeling that the sun is at last just around the corner. Open your mind and treat yourself.
WINE OF THE WEEK 7th Mar 2011

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2010 S. Australia
Waitrose £7.99
Drinker Rating 84

Today I had my first whiff of cut grass and they've been cutting back the bushes outside my office, it feels very much like spring is here - although there was frost on my car this morning.

For another dose of fresh cut grass go for this Viognier, dry with a hint of apple and melon. Great stuff at great a price. I'm still not convinced about the value of 'organic' but it doesn't seem to do the wine any harm.

Chin chin.
WINE OF THE WEEK 14th Mar 2011

Champagne Oudinot Brut
Marks andSpencer £19.99
Drinker Rating 84

I have a week of horse racing ahead of me this week, so that's why we've got a Champagne.

This is a really well made Champers, good toasty notes and bags of green apple flavour. It is well balanced in terms of fruit and acidity and for the price is a top drop.

So will it be celebrations or drowning my sorrows? It all hangs on Time For Rupert winning on Wednesday, come on Will, get him up that hill!
WINE OF THE WEEK 21st Mar 2011

Fleurie Domaine des Nugues
Majestic £12.49 - £9.99 each when you buy two
Drinker Rating 86

I am not a big fan of Beaujolais and this really has nothing to do with the terrible Nouveax of the 80s and 90s. I'm not really a fan of the grape of the region Gamay - usulally a bit weak willed for me and I don't really like the bubblegum notes.

This however is different. It has a really good fruity backbone with raspberry and redcurrant and a really elegant smoky note. Medium bodied, may do well lightly chilled. This is top value.
WINE OF THE WEEK 28th Mar 2011

Vin du Pays du Gers 2010
Marks and Spencer £4.49
Drinker Rating 86

I'm skint. I always am at this time of year for some reason. And then there's the bloody budget. That bastard Osborne has gone and put my medicine up by 54p a bottle - and then you've got to pay for the tonic water!

So here's to austerity Britain - I don't know why I should get so het up at being told that 'we're all in this together' by a bunch of millionaires.

So it's time for a cheapie this week - and this has real depth for a wine of its price, good stony minerality and a hint of orange peel on the nose turning into peach and pear on the palate. Great stuff at the  lower end of the price range.
WINE OF THE WEEK 4th April 2011

Pruno Ribera del Duero 2008
Laithwaites £12.99
Drinker Rating 88

Sometimes when I'm banging on about wines to my friends and family they actually listen and ask questions like, "what do you mean 'structure'?" And it can be a bit difficult to explain unless you have a good example open on the table.

But this is it, the wine to define 'structure', it would also be quite a good example of 'balance' too. It has lots of full rich ripe black fruit flavours, blackberry mainly, but has good acidity and it sits really well in the mouth because of its structure, this is provided by robust but softening tannins.

So now it's your turn to say "what do you mean 'tannins'"...
WINE OF THE WEEK11th April 2011

Tesco Finest San Antonio Organic Chardonnay
Tesco £7.49
Drinker Rating 86

I'm not convinced about 'organic'. There seems to be no evidence that organic tastes better or is in any way better for us. I can see the point about spreading less chemicals on the countryside but that's about as far as organic goes for me, and even that is a negligible benefit when you're shipping the product (as in this case) from Chile.

Nonetheless, organic or not, this is a terrific drop. Red apple on the nose, complex fruit on the palate and really great value for money and, If you're into it, it's organic to boot.
WINE OF THE WEEK18th April 2011

ASDA Extra Special Argentinean Malbec
ASDA £6.48
Drinker Rating 84

17th April was Malbec World Day. What? I know that September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but Malbec World Day - that's a new one.

For those of you who don't know, Malbec is a red grape variety which is well known for deep full brambly, pencil box type wines in Cahors in France. But more recently it's become the grape that Argentina has adopted, and with no little success.

This ASDA wine is typical of the style, full forward black fruit, some pepper and spice and lots of body. Terrific stuff and at a great price.

Ha har Jim-lad, shiver me timbers, yo ho ho and a bottle of Malbec.
WINE OF THE WEEK 25th April 2011

Tabali Encantado Syrah Resrva 2009 - Limari Valley Chile
Waitrose £10.91
Drinker Rating 88

Syrah or shiraz? For those not in the know these are two words for the same grape variety. It's syrah in France, where the grape is turned into the powerful peppery wines of the Rhone Valley, whereas it's known as shiraz in Australia where it can make deep, ballsy wines with big blackcurrant or chocolate flavours.

In recent years some canny French producers have been using the word shiraz instead of syrah as they know it's a more recognised (and easily pronounced) term, so it sells better. Likewise many New World producers often use the term syrah as it gives their wines a hint of class and heritage, such as this fine example from Chile.

And it turns out that the Aussies may have been right all along as the grape originates from a town called Shiraz in Iran. Whatever next? We'll have them playing cricket and wearing corks in their berets before long.
WINE OF THE WEEK 2nd May 2011

Rioja Gran Reserva 2003 Casa del Comendador
Majestic £13.99 (£8.99 each if you buy 2)
Drinker Rating 87

Red wine with fish! Preposterous. Well, not really, I think it's time we had a good long look at the food/wine thing. The producers of this lovely Rioja recommend drinking it with baked cod - not as daft as it sounds when you think about it, a soft full wine with chunky meaty fish, not beyond the pale at all I think.

I reviewed the 2000 Vintage of this wine a year or so ago and found it exceptional but I thought it had come to the end of it's development and needed drinking soon. This is the 2003 and is the same well developed velvety Rioja, really well made, but this has slightly more fruit character on nose and palate.

'Excellent well, you are a fishmonger'
WINE OF THE WEEK 16th May 2011

Geoff Merrill Mount Hurtle Rosé 2009
Morrisons £6.99
Drinker Rating 88

Come on it really is the summer now isn't it? Let's all go and sit in the garden or the park with a lovely bottle of rosé. And this could be just the ticket. Lots of lovely red fruit and generous acidity. Really good with a barbie, a top wine for the price when there are loads of poor quality rosés on the market.

I'm writing this in the garden, the sun is shining and I could really do with a glass of this right now. Roll on the weekend.

WINE OF THE WEEK 23rd May 2011

South Ridge Cuveé Meret 2008, Sussex
Laithwaites £19.99
Drinker Rating 86

This really isn't how this ought to be. I should be writing about celebration wines, but after Luton Town crashing out of the play-off final I now have to find a commiseration wine.

I feel so low since the Hatters loss (on penalties) on Saturday that I can barely lift my fingers to the keyboard, so what I'm in need of is a little pick me up. So how about this fizz from Laithwaites. It's got a touch of pinot noir savory-ness on the nose and has a lovely grassy notes, delicate with a background richness.

We'll go for a quality English Fizz for now and leave the Champagne on ice until the Hatters go up next year.

Win or lose - we're on the booze!
WINE OF THE WEEK 30th May 2011

Chapel Down Flint Dry, Sussex
Waitrose (and others) £8.99
Drinker Rating 87

This week is English Wine Week - not that you'd know it on thedrinker - as my Wine of the Week last week was English too. This time it's not a fizz but a still wine from the great people at Chapel Down.

This has a hint of hedgerow on the nose, elderflower and nettle, but with a really good zing of lime zest on the palate. Good value too. And with England playing cricket at the start of the week and playing football at the end it's time to drink to the three lions.
WINE OF THE WEEK 6th June 2011

Fillipo Baccalaro, Terre di Sava, Negroamoro
Marks and Spencer £5.99
Drinker Rating 88

This is a belter for the price, the absolute definition of thedrinker's Wine of the Week. It's a good Wednesday night drop, really well made, full flavour with plum and black cherry to the fore with soft rounded tannins. And at this price it will be my summer house red.

Chin chin.
WINE OF THE WEEK 13th June 2011

Tiki Ridge Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2010
Waitrose £8.99
Drinker Rating 87

I'm just coming to the end of the asparagus on my allotment and this is one of the trickiest food-wine matching foods as it has such a distinctive flavour. But the trend in wine matching is to put like with like and this wine with its distinctive asparagus nose is just the ticket.

It's a rally good early summer mouthfull of green-ness, good refreshing acidity, everything that you could want right now, particularly if you can grab hold of some late asparagus. 
WINE OF THE WEEK 20th June 2011
Sainsbury Fairtrade Pinotage Rosé
Sainsbury £5.99
Drinker Rating 86

I’m looking for a wine to celebrate Rory Mcilroy’s record breaking win in the US Open. Rory’s only just 22 years old so what would he like? Probably a pint of the Black Stuff I suppose, but if a 22 year old was to get into wine where would he start?

Well, like Rory it should be something modern but reliable, something daring but not too flashy, and definitely something easily approachable. So how about this Pinotage Rose from Sainsbury? Light and refreshing acidity balancing vibrant fresh red fruit, it’s really well made and, most importantly for a 22 year old, a great price - although just having bagged $1.4 million that should make little difference to ‘Rors’. And my prediction is that Pinotage will be the new big thing just like young McIlroy