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Neil Sowerby's June wine tips 16/06/2011

Our wine scribe on Provencal pinks, Chile, South Africa covered and affordable Claret. Plus Naked Wines comes to town

Published on June 16th 2011.

Neil Sowerby's June wine tips 16/06/2011

I ALWAYS wonder if Cezanne and Van Gogh were into rosé wine. Just to make a change from all the absinthe and laudanum. They were certainly in the right territory. That artistically favoured corner of Provence, around Mont Sainte Victoire, produces some of the best pinks in the world. 

Domaine Houchart Rosé 2010, Côtes de Provence is a real Wine Society bargain at £6.95. This 80 hectare estate dates back to the mid 1800s when it was established by Aurélien Houchart, a lifelong friend of Cézanne’s. 

The current vintage is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Cabernet and Syrah with splashes of a further five varieties, all grown in coarse clay and limestone soils. It has a lovely strawberry fruit balance with refreshing acidity. 

A quite different, very minerally, pink is Rosé Bonbon Domaine Des Diables 2010, Côte de Provence Sainte-Victoire, £11.95 from Lea & Sandeman (www.leaandsandeman.co.uk).

Virginie and Guillaume Fabre re-established their long-abandoned estate next door to their father’s Sainte Lucie vineyards in 2007.  

The gravel and red clay soils give a yield of just 40hl/ha from the Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault grapes used for this wine, which undergoes a five hour low temperature maceration followed by a period of ageing on the fine lies. Salmon-pink in hue it is full-bodied with herby hints in its red-berry fruit. It could handle lamb off the barbecue or a bouillabaisse. 

MAJESTIC have a trio of 2007 Bordeaux reds that all make good current drinking.

It wasn’t an easy vintage compared with those that followed but, with carefully handling, produced attractive forward wines. 

The 80 per cent Merlot is obvious in the smoky-nosed, softly fruity Chateau La Rose Chatain 2007, from the good-value Lalande de Pomerol area (£9.99, two for £7.99). 

In such a lean vintage, you wouldn’t expect to find lush pickings in the St Estephe region, but the Chateau La Vicomtesse (£9.99), the second wine of Chateau Laffitte Carcasset, offer flesh as well as structure. It’s a 60/40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with pleasing liquorice-laden black fruit.

For more elegance in a similar blend, a step up in price to £14.99 gets you Chateau Tayac 2007. At first sip I felt the new French oak dominated but it grew in the glass with a fine blackcurranty concentration. My favourite of the three.

Wine is so international. Dutchman Ronnie Janssen is the impressively titled European and Special Operations Director at Lapostolle, the French-owned Chilean winery.

The Marnier-Lapostolle family made their fortune producing Grand Marnier, but they have invested heavily in Chile, grafting French expertise (Michel Rolland advises) on to some amazing terroir. 

Their success was obvious from the six wines Ronnie introduced at a special tasting dinner at Aumbry in Prestwich, Manchester’s current restaurant of the year. 

I was already familiar with the Casa Lapostolle Semillon, a straw-coloured, persistently citrussy white with hints of figs and a pleasant mouthfeel. The 2008 Rose, made from Syrah and Carmenere, was similarly quaffable with vivid raspberry fruit and racy acidity, while the Casa Sauvignon Blanc 2009 was round and minerally with a restrained herbiness that was very appealing. 

Lapostolle’s Cuvee Alexandre is a step up from the entry level Casas. The Cuvee Alexandre Chardonnay 2008 smelt of tropical fruit and hazelnuts and tasted long and elegant. It accompanied a crayfish thermidor exquisitely. 

The reds had the intense extract you’d expect from M. Rolland’s influence.

Clos Apalta 2007, a blend of Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and petit Verdot was deep purple red with a spicy nose and some vanilla, tobacco and cocoa there. Big velvety blackcurrant fruit makes it attractive now, but it is a keeper. 

The similarly hued Borobo 2003 has the advantage of its bottle age. It ambitiously meshes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot and Pinot Noir but has achieved a lovely harmony. 

Aumbry (www.aumbryrestaurant.co.uk) are going to add Clos Apalta 2008 and Borobo 2004 to the Casa Semillon and Cuvee Alexandre Pinot Noir they currently have on. Portland Wines stock 11 wines from Lapostolle on their website: http://www.portlandwine.co.uk

THE Co-operative’s red wine of the month (down a quid to £4.49 between June 22 and July 12) is The Co-operative Chianti 2009. It’s medium-bodied with simple cherry fruit and a bitter twist on the finish that I like. 

Their white wine of month is the unoaked Co-operative South African Chardonnay 2010/11. It's creamy and crisp, one for sipping in the garden. Down from £5.25 to £4.25 like all the generic Co-operative South African range until July 12.

Get Naked with an interactive wine roadshow 

GROUNDBREAKING Naked Wines is taking 20 of the independent winemakers it funds  on a tasting tour stopping off in Manchester on Thursday, June 30. 

Naked Wines is the UK’s fastest growing online wine retailer. Launched in December 2008 by Virgin Wines’ founder Rowan Gormley, it acts as a marketplace for winemakers to be able to sell their wines directly to consumers. So far, Naked Wines has recruited 150,000 customers and funded over 100 exclusive new wines.

The tour will consist of a number of ‘pop-up’ wine tastings in customers’ homes, places of work and various locations within the city. This will be followed by a ticketed event in the evening, which starts at 6.30 at The Studio, 51 Lever Street. 

Customers will be able to sample the winemakers’ wines, along with some food, while there will also be a blind-tasting table at each venue with five wines Naked Wines is thinking of stocking. Punters can vote. At the end of the week the company will announce the winner and put the wine live on the site to buy, via Naked MarketPlace.

Tickets are still available. Check out their website, http://www.nakedwines.com


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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

RayJune 17th 2011.

Wine Society - great place to buy. Makes Laithwaites look like peddlers of bland tosh (which - mostly - they do, but ooh, what a nice folder to put the wine notes into!)

AnonymousJune 19th 2011.

Did I sleep for 4 months and miss the summer somehow? 16/10/2011 ???

EditorialJune 19th 2011.

Anonymous, yes you did

AnonymousJune 19th 2011.

Wow, I appear to have just time-travelled back to June. Hurrah.

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