2010 Domaine Gayda Figure Libre Freestyle Blanc, IGP d'Oc
B+ | £12.99
White fruits, peaches and ripe grapefruit on the nose; fleshy on the palate, its not your run off the mill white wine. Has character and presence on the palate, good mouthfeel. Drinks nicely on its own, will complement food too.
2011 Les Eminades 'Montmajou' Blanc, AOC Saint Chinian
B+ | £13.99
Initially peachy fruit again, quite forward, then after some time in the glass, some hints of fennel and even sweet ginger developing, rather interesting nose. Nice texture on the palate, mostly white fruits, medium acidity but with good minerality. Interesting stuff, a food wine.
2011 Domaine Pellehaut Blanc, IGP Cotes de Gascogne
B+ | £6.99
Mostly citrus nose, with some white fruits too; flavours are simple but clean, good fruit and plush acidity. Very easy to drink, a perennial good value favourite from Cambridge Wine.
2011 Lagar de Bouza Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain
B+ | £11.99
Lemon peel and citrus oils coming through, lots of high notes, very bright. High acidity but still balanced, very refreshing lemony flavours coming through; bottled sunshine thats crying out for oysters and seafood. Perfect to wake you up on Boxing day.
2011 Domaine Combe Blanche l'Incompris Cinsault, IGP Cotes de Brian
B+ | £7.99
Dark fruit nose with hints of sweet spices and truffles, theres inviting warmth there. Fruit on the palate is bright, dark cherry but isnt at all heavy; lovely flavours, easy to drink. Label's a bit naff but you wont miss it on the shelves. Would pair well with cold leftover ham / turkey on Boxing Day.
2010 Domaine Danjou-Banessy Roboul, Cotes de Roussillon Villages
B+ | £17.99
Dark fruit, with prunes and dark plums; also mulled spices, theres more fragrance coming through on the nose. Nice concentration of fruit, isnt quite as brooding as the Chandeliere, but still has good length on the palate.
2009 Domaine Combe Blanche La Chandeliere, Minervois la Laviniere
B+(+) | £14.99
Dark fruit complete with sweet licorice notes, some cooked dark plums too, quite brooding. All components are balanced and expressive: good fruit density on the palate, theres concentration of flavour, good acidity and ripe tannins; needs food and preferably an hour or so in a decanter. Would be superb with roast beef or even guinea fowl. The 2004 vintage is still in stock and has developed nicely, more leather, truffle and undergrowth notes there, fruit wont be as intense though.
2011 Domaine Gayda Figure Libre Cabernet Franc, IGP d'Oc
A- | £15.99
Plums and red cherries, with a hint of leafy / stalky notes thats characteristic of Cab Franc, some woody notes too. Lovely plump red fruit on the palate, quite fresh and rounded with a hint of greenness; not heavy. Very charming and playful, not to mention unusual, would rival many a good Cab Franc from the Loire. Another one for leftover cold turkey / ham.
2006 Simonelli-Santi 'Malintoppo', DOC Orcia, Tuscany
A- | £13.99
Dark fruit with sweet licorice and woody aromas (tobacco and cigarbox), some polished oak use here, lots of floral elements are showing too - violets and roses; the aromatics are really appealing. Lots of fruit on the palate but isnt over done, nice balancing acidity, ripe and yielding tannins; its aged well, feels elegant and sophisticated, very well put together. Its bigger brother 'Antonio' (pretty much the same label but in red, £16.99) packs slightly more oomph and is worth a punt too.
2009 Clos de los Siete, Mendoza, Argentina
A- | £13.99
Blackberry and blackcurrant compote, quite sweet and jammy, with some vanilla and floral fragrance; does smell sweet. This Malbec based blend is packed with dark fruit, sweet and plush with enough acidity to keep it from feeling too heavy; ripe tannins on the finish. I like the presence on the palate, powerful yet velvety, seriously good wine.
A- | £12.50
Classic but modern claret - cassis, blackberry, some sweet spice / licorice and cedar notes. On the palate, bags of dark fruit, fully extracted; very ripe and plush, the mid palate is filled in; the fruit really is to the fore; still somewhat chunky but ripe tannins A couple of hours in the decanter with food, or cellar for a good few years. A classic roast beef wine.
2007 Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal, Portugal
A- | £9.99
A fortified Moscatel from Portugal. Smells of raisins and sultana, also caramel and golden syrup, unabashedly sweet. Luscious on the palate; raisins, molasses, marmalade and a hint of cinnamon spice there; though it is quite luscious and thick, it never feels cloying. Sweet and big enough to pair with mince pies and christmas pudding. Has a stopper cork, so you dont have to finish it in one sitting (though its so delicious, I really dont see why not), just pop the cork back in and leave in the fridge, will last for months.
2001 Warre's Bottle Aged LBV Port, Portugal
A-(+) | £22.99
A leap up from your basic LBV port, this offering from Warre's is bottled unfiltered, so decanting would be advisable. Cassis, jammy dark fruit, with hints of dark chocolate and coffee and warming spice; sweet fruit on the palate, with good sustained flavours, doesnt just hit and run like most LBV ports. Rich and filling mouthfeel, not far off Vintage port in quality.
Henriques & Henriques 15 year old Bual, Madeira
A | £25 (50cl)
Candied orange peel, marmalade, spicy fruit chutney; oxidised nose to this. On the palate, despite the age, theres still so much life, acidity and verve; like drinking spiced clementine juice; high acidity with good dose of sugar; dried oranges and marmalade again, nutty and spicy too; feels luscious but nimble. Flavours persists on the palate for minutes; makes you yearn for more. Really delicious.
Alternatives: the 10 year old Bual is a cheaper at £18.99 for 50cl; the 5 year old Medium Rich is cheaper still at £11.50 for 50cl, neither will have the length and presence but should give a good idea what Bual Madeira is all about. Then again its Christmas, go on, indulge ...