What’s that I hear? The world’s smallest violin playing just for me? Yes, tasting and writing about wine is a tough job but you know what they say. Someone’s got to do it and I’m glad that someone is me, especially when wines this good come along and trickle into my tasting glass. It’s hard to keep up with all the goodies, so here are five of the top drops that have intrigued my mind and my mouth in the past month.
2012 As Caborcas Single Vineyard Telmo Rodriguez RRP $93.99
It’s tempting to rate this wine even higher than 19 out of 20, it is so outrageously tasty, thanks to the intuitive winemaking of Spaniard Telmo Rodriguez, who shines his light on the grape rather than the winemaking. He uses six different native Spanish grapes here, all grown on bush vines – low to the ground for warmth on steeply sloping terraces of 550 to 600 metres above sea level, on the edge of the Bibei River in Valdeorras (‘the valley of gold). The elevation to the sun warms the stony granite soils, providing good drainage and low fertility low so there is great flavour concentration. The leading grape here is Mencia, with its delicate dark fruit flavours, high acidity for freshness – it tastes a little like a cross between Pinot Noir and Syrah, only with its own personality. The other grapes are Meranzao, Souson, Garnacha, Godello and Brencellao.
This is a wine of real beauty.
2015 Domaine Alary L’Est’evenas Cairanne Cotes du Rhone $38
This voluptuous bottle contains a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah and is certified organic, so it has plenty of feel-good factor as well as deliciousness. It’s deep purple, velvet smooth and spicy so has loads of complexity and its intense flavours suggest low crop levels and lots of attention to details. It’s from a family owned winery that’s been making wine since 1692 in France’s Rhone Valley.
2009 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage $125
Champagne is never cheap and rarely easy to justify in a world awash with low priced bubbles so it is refreshing to taste (and see the slightly more affordable price tag) of this new rsingle vintage wine from the biggest producers of champagne, Moet & Chandon. This massive company makes millions of bottles of bubbles a year, and significantly lower amounts of its top drops, such as this crisp fresh newcomer. It’s all about citrusy freshness and a light body… too easy to enjoy at the start of a night.
2014 Umani Ronchi Vigor Marche IGT Sangiovese Merlot RRP $26.99
The vineyard of Vigor is 150 metres above sea level and faces south in the Marche region on central Italy’s east coast. All of the grapes in this full bodied dry red were picked by hand and they include 75% of Italy’s most planted red – Sangiovese – with the remaining 25% Merlot. It’s fermented in stainless steel for two weeks and aged in old oak for a modest eight months, which softens out Sangiovese’s edgy personality and adds depth to this wine, which is a great drink with savoury foods; mushroom risotto, hard cheese and gamey flavours.
2015 Misha’s Limelight Riesling Central Otago $29-$31
If Riesling immediately makes you run for cover, perhaps it’s time to try this beautifully balanced medium dry white from the world’s most southern wine region. It contains 24 grams of residual sugar per litre and was bottled in September 2015 – information like this makes back labels worth sticking on bottles and what’s inside is even more compelling. It’s still youthful and will age well for up to a decade with its deliciously succulent, intense flavours of lime zest, green apples and a light body.
2015 Misha’s Vineyard Cantata Pinot Noir $30
It’s rare to find Otago Pinot Noirs of this price at all, let alone as pretty to drink as this delicate and silky southern Pinot. It’s medium bodied with high alcohol of 14% ABV – often the case for Central Otago – and winemaker Ollie Masters has championed the fruit flavours in this wine ahead of oak, which makes it a winner for me.
PS… Oops, that more than 5 top drops…