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Christmas wines from H&H Bancroft

H&H Bancroft are a relatively small merchant, but one with a growing reputation and a really good list, aiming towards the top end of the market. They recently sent me 12 wines to try, from two of their Christmas mixed cases, and here are my notes. The missing wine was an off bottle of Grand Veneur Ch‚teauneuf du Pape which I didnít write up. These wines are available individually at the prices stated, or discounted as part of mixed cases.  

Gold collection (two bottles of each for £99)

Santo Stefano Prosecco Extra Dry NV, Italy
Crisp, fruity nose is nice and fresh, with a lemony edge. The palate shows lots of presence with some bright, slightly sweet lemony fruit contrasting nicely with good savoury acidic depth. Very fruity but great balance. Delicious. Very good/excellent 87/100 (£7.95 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Cairnbrae ĎThe Stonesí Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Marlborough, New Zealand
Really vivid, piercing, grassy Sauvignon, but the nose shows a bit of restraint, with a rounded grassy character that is half-way to Sancerre. On the palate thereís some rounded blackcurrant and gooseberry fruit. Itís a nice Sauvignon. Very good+ 88/100 (£7.99 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Francine & Olivier Savary Chablis 2002 Burgundy, France
Sweet nutty edge to the appley, lemony fruit nose. Quite full and accessible. The palate is fruity and nutty with a nice sweet and savoury character. Itís full of flavour: quite broad and open for a Chablis with an appley sort of tang on the finish. Very good+ 88/100 (£9.85 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Beresford Shiraz 2003 McLaren Vale, Australia
Dark coloured, this has a sweet, open alluring nose with a vanilla and coconut sheen to the dark fruits. Very sweet and soft fruit on the palate with a distinctive sweet coconut character and some spice. A rather extreme style with concentrated sweet fruit and prominent American oak Ė whether or not you like this wine will depend on your appreciation of this rather extreme style. Very good+ 88/100 (£8.75 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Bodega Lan Rioja Reserva 1998 Spain
Quite a subtle elegant style of Riojs showing a gravelly, spicy, tarry edge to the dark fruits. Midweight palate with a nice expressive earthy character. A nice well balanced food wine thatís reminiscent of a good Bordeaux and which is ageing quite nicely. Very good+ 87/100 (£10.25 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Jean Foillard Morgon ĎCŰte du Pyí 2004 Beaujolais, France
Red/black colour. Not dense and impenetrable, but quite dark. The nose shows a wonderful sweet, pure fruit character (cherries and blackberries) with a haunting complexity. Initially the fruit is supplemented by spice and some earthy notes; later Iím getting a bit of dark chocolate and herbs. On the palate, thereís a wonderful transparency. Sweet fruit is complemented by a smooth, silky tannic structure and some spice. Elegant, soft, smooth and pure. After a while longer, herb and tea elements begin to emerge. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£12.75 H&H Bancroft Wines)

Premier collection (two bottles of each for £148)

Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Champagne Blanc de Blancs NV
Fresh nose is showing appley, yeasty, lemony notes. Thereís a nice savoury, yeasty depth to the palate which shows yeasty, toasty notes. Plenty of concentration and weight: a nice wine. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£15.50 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Billaud Simon Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2003 Burgundy, France
2003 was an atypically warm vintage here, and it shows in a richer style of wine than you might expect. Itís full flavoured with plenty of ripe, herb-tinged fruit, but thereís still some minerally seriousness. One of my favourite Chablis producers. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£14.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Domaine Girault Sancerre Le ChÍne du Roy 2004 Loire, France
Nice ripe fruity noise with a distinctive grassiness and subtle gooseberry notes that are characteristic of Sauvignon. Quite perfumed and nicely balanced, somewhere in between the old-world and new-world styles. Very good+ 88/100 (£9.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Lenton Brae 2000 Wilyabrub Valley, Margaret River, Australia
A blend of 83% Cabernet and 17% Merlot, hand picked and estate grown, aged for 20 months in French oak. Wonderful nose of open blackcurrant fruit and earth, with a sort of minerally, gravelly edge to the sweet but not OTT fruit. The palate is savoury with a lovely earthy undercurrent to the fruit and a nice smooth but prominent structure. Itís brilliantly balanced and quite elegant: a marriage of old world elegance with forward new world fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£12.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Capafons-Osso Sirsell Priorat 2003 Spain
A blend of Garnacha, Mazuelo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep coloured. Wonderfully sweet raspberry and blackcurrant fruit nose with hints of chocolate and ginger. The palate has a savoury, spicy structure under the smooth fruit, with a bit of tannic bite. Otherwise, this is an alluring, ripe, forward wine and it will be interesting to see how it develops. Very good+ 89/100 (£13.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Plus the Ch‚teauneuf du Pape Grand Veneur 2003

Contact details

H&H Bancroft Wines
1 China Wharf
29 Mill Street
London SE1 2BQ
www.bancroftwines.co.uk

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