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The Wine Column From Neil Sowerby - July

Our glugger gets a glugging from Cheadle to Chile

Published on July 25th 2011.

The Wine Column From Neil Sowerby - July

HAVING spent the entire May wine column (click here) waxing lyrical about the under-rated wines of Alsace, I am still in thrall to them. Excuse me while I recommend four more of these aromatic, food-friendly whites that definitely aren’t Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio (the Alsacien version Pinot Grigio is unrecognisable as the same grape). 

Never in history have four vintages been declared in one decade. And the 2009 is a stonker 

Thirty years ago, the Cave de Turckheim was one of the first Alsace wineries to export to the UK and today the co-operative boasts 300 grower-members with 400 hectares of grapes and produces a range of over 50 wines. 

The Cave de Turckheim Tradition Riesling 2009 (Majestic, £8.99) reflects their pursuit of affordable quality (not matched by some other Alsace co-ops). Elegant and dry, floral with a crisp citrussy  finish, it’s a terrific seafood wine. 

It’s big brother, Turckheim Brand Grand Cru Riesling 2007, turned up at a tasting a week or so ago in the Manchester International Festival Glasshouse, where Cheadle-based wine importers Boutinot were celebrating a hat-trick of Sommelier Winer Awards merchant of the year. Close on 60 wines from across their range featured in the tasting. 

The Brand Riesling, from a top site was one of the stars. Racy as a good Riesling should be with pungent minerality and a hint of steel through the abundant pear-like fruit. Expect to pay around £15 for it. 

Brand supplied the fruit for the Cave’s pineapple fresh Reserve Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Brand 2009 I reviewed in May.

If its £18.75 price tag (Reserve of West Didsbury - click here), is too much for you, try the  Turckheim Gewurztraminer Vieilles Vignes 2007 – a concentrated Gewurz for considerably less – around £13 retail). Pale golden with a classic nose of dusty perfume and lychees. Honey, marmalade and maybe lavender on the palate. 

Another favourite, Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer 2009 (Waitrose, £13.99), from the village of Kientzheim in the shadow of the great Schossberg Grand Crus site, is equally powerful, spicily complex with more balancing acidity and a whack of ginger through the honeyed fruit. 

I climbed the Schlossberg during a rewarding recent visit to Alsace - click here.

KIWI sauvignon blancs, particularly those from Marlborough,  can, of course, be equally assertive. Not so Tawhiri Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (down a couple of quid to £6.99 at Co-operative stores from 13 July-2 August). 

Named after the mythical god of Winds, Tawhiri is sourced primarily from  the cool climate Awatere Valley, where dry and windy conditions prevail. Intensely citrussy and herby on the nose with a definite hint of tomato leaf (my perfect greenhouse smell), it is ripely fruity and well-balanced in the taste. 

Down from £4.99 to £3.99 in the same period La Pradera Monastrell 2010 is a definite barbie bargain from the Co-op. Pradera’ is the Spanish word for 'prairie', a reference to the dry grasslands so typical of the La Mancha region where this wine coes from.  Seven per cent Syrah complements the Monastrell, creating a deep red wine with aromas of blackberry and dark plums fruit with hints of vanilla. It’s surprisingly smooth. 

Smoothness is a definite characteristic of Casillero del Diablo reds from Chile – among the few reliable cheap offer stalwarts on the supermarket shelves. Beyond entry level, their lovely, oaky-smokey  Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 won gold  at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. 

Their Casillero del Diablo Merlot 2010 claimed silver at the same wine fair – and a bronze at the International Wine Challenge. Its spicy, plummy fruit was perfect with some lemon  and thyme grilled chicken and ratatouille on the porch between downpours the other day. Usually £7.99, it appears to be discounted to £5.99. 

Which leads me on obliquely to the other end of the wine world. I was privileged to be present when Adrian Bridge, MD of Taylors Croft and Fonseca Port held a tasting in Panacea to 'declare' the 2009 vintage. Never in history have four vintages been declared (ie. best stuff is put in bottle to age) in one decade. And the 2009 is a stonker. 

The gathering dutifully tasted five different ports made by his company Taylor Fladgate Yeatman, which won’t even be bottled till the autumn and then will live on and improve for decades. Lay some down for your kids. Find out more by visiting their seductive website.

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Richard BowdenJuly 26th 2011.

There is more specific information about the 2009 vintage ports here: http://www.2009vintageport.com

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