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December 2006

Previous months' recommendations: November 2005 | December 2005/January 2006February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June/July 2006 |August 2006 | September/October 2006 | November 2006

Marks & Spencer Saint-Véran Les Monts 2004 Burgundy, France
Lovely rich white wine with rounded, nutty flavours of apples and honey, backed up by some lovely minerality. Quite complex with richness and freshness countering each other nicely. Very good+ 89/100 (£7.99 Marks & Spencer)

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Marlborough, New Zealand
It’s a bit easy to get bored with Sauvignon Blanc because it’s sometimes a one-trick pony—so many of them taste similar. I was pretty impressed with this, though: it’s
a wonderfully bright, intense, fruity Sauvignon Blanc that is deliciously full-on, with piercing fresh acidity. It’s as if they’ve taken a regular Sauvignon and turned the volume knob up to 11. Very good+ 89/100 (£7.99 Waitrose) 

Fiano di Avellino dei Feudi di Santa Gregorio 2005 Campania, Italy
Now for something a little different, from the Fiano di Avellino grape. A deep yellow/gold colour, this full bodied white has complex flavours of minerals, spice and intense lemony fruit. There’s a nice contrast between the intense, rich fruit and some grapefruity freshness. Thought-provoking stuff and highly food compatible. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£9.99 Waitrose)

Bellingham The Maverick Chenin Blanc 2005 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Deep yellow gold colour. Big nose of sweet vanilla, honey, herbs and cream. The palate is dry but quite rich with toasty, melony fruit. Richly textured, this is a bold style of Chenin that’s right in-yer-face. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£8.99 Waitrose, Majestic)

Pazo Serantellos Albariño 2004 Rias Baixas, Spain
Lovely full crisp fruity nose, with some sweetness and a hint of lime. On the palate there’s a lovely marriage of richer, almost peachy fruit with minerally, lemony freshness. Pretty good to get a nice Albarino for this price. Very good/excellent 90/100
(£6.99 Tesco)

Leyda Garuma Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Leyda Valley, Chile
Powerful aromas: green, grassy, grapefruit and lime. The palate is intense with a fresh green pepper edge to the concentrated lemony fruit. A very full, fresh Sauvignon of real quality: really invigorating stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£7.99 Oddbins) 

Domaine Lupin Frangy Roussette de Savoie 2005 France
This is a lovely fresh, full flavoured, appley wine with a nice tang to it. It’s almost Chablis-like, but a bit fresher and more transparent, with some minerality, too. Initially a bit spritzy on opening it is quite delicious and pure: a really lovely, authentic wine. Very good+ 89/100
(Les Caves de Pyrene £6.35)

Château Gruaud Larose 1999 St Julien, Bordeaux
OK, for those of you who must drink Claret at Christmas, here’s an affordable star from a vintage that’s drinking well now. There’s lots of interest here: it’s dark, rich and earthy with a bit of farmyard in the background, together with some minerally spiciness. Quite tannic, dark and earthy on the palate with good acidity. Some spice and chocolate complement the red and black fruits. This is fairly serious stuff with a future ahead of it. Very good/excellent 92/100

Valle Pradinhos Tinto 2003 Tras-os-Montes, Portugal
Beautifully packaged in a Burgundy-shaped bottle and with an elegantly simple label, this is a lovely gutsy red that reminds me of the best wines of southwest France. It has a bright, savoury spicy nose with dark fruits and a hint of tar. There's a gravelly minerality to the palate, which has tight dark fruits with a spicy kick, and plenty of tannins. The result is very refreshing, drinkable and utterly food friendly. There's even a hint of elegance here - it isn't overly rustic. I like it a lot. Very good/excellent 90/100 (use wine-searcher.com to locate stockists, should be around £10)

Château Plaisance 2004 Côtes du Frontonnais, Southwest France
Mainly Negrette.
Beguiling meaty, peppery smoky nose which displays fresh raspberry and blackberry fruit, with just a hint of animal. The palate is bright and fresh with good acidity: meaty and spicy with some of that savoury southwestern character. Delicious, thought-provoking and food friendly. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£5.15 Les Caves de Pyrene)

Quinta do Noval Unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage Port 2000 Portugal
A cracking Port for the money, with a dark, intense, sweet, herby nose with blackberry fruit and lifted floral aromatics. The palate shows a nice concentration of open, herb-tinged, sweet blackberry fruit backed up with firm spicy tannins. Open and enchanting, but also has a more serious grippy side. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£11.99 Oddbins)

Laurent Perrier Champagne Brut NV, Champagne, France
Nice nose: fresh with herby, toasty complexity. The palate shows good weight and concentration. There’s some savoury, toasty richness together with plenty of fruit: a rich style of wine with a lemony freshness backing up the full, savoury palate. Great balance here. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£24.99 Oddbins, but look out for multibuy offers)

Château Le Mesnil Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne
This is lovely: mealy, oaty edge to the complex, refined, fruity nose, which is savoury and engaging. The palate has a lovely freshness combined with a savoury depth. It’s not too rich but there’s a lovely finesse to the fruit. A serious effort. Very good/excellent 91/100 (around £20, independents)

Champagne Trudon Cuvée Tradition NV
From Noel Trudon’s 7 hectare family estate, this is a fizz mainly from the 2002 vintage which is a varietal Pinot Meunier, which is unusual. It’s full flavoured but with some finesse, too. Savoury and subtly herby with some toastiness, and rich, almost structured fruit. Good density and concentration. There’s some lemony delicacy and it finishes very dry.
Very good/excellent 90/100 (£18.95 Waitrose)

My rating system explained. Use www.wine-searcher.com to locate a stockist in your area and my directory of UK wine merchants for details of those listed here. See also: the wineanorak's shopping list - recommended wines from each of the main UK retail outlets. These recommendations are truly independent: I don't accept payment or other favours for inclusions, nor do I sell wine.

E-mail me with your recommendations or suggestions at jamie@wineanorak.co.uk