Champagne Philipponnat ‘Cuvee 1522′ 2000

This bottle is continuing my recent exploration of Champagne Philipponnat, and I’m pleased to report it is also pretty serious. It is a blend heavy in Pinot Noir with a low dosage (the sugar added at bottling), and it’s a beautifully savoury, gastronomic fizz.

Champagne Philipponnat ‘Cuvee 1522′ Grand Cru 2000
60% Ay Pinot Noir; 40% Grand [...]

Impressive new releases from Sant'ana, Portugal

Nick Oakley popped round on Thursday and brought with him some new releases from Lisbon-region producer Quinta de Sant’ana, who he represents in the UK. I visited in March (report here), and tried cask samples of these three whites. It’s nice to see them in bottle – I think they are really good. UK retail [...]

Striking but wonderful white Rioja

These two vintages of Finca Allende’s white Rioja took me by surprise. I’ve not had all that many good experiences of white Rioja (this is largely because of winemaking choices, rather than the intrinsic quality of the grapes – there are some fabulous old white vines in the region), but these two wines were deeply [...]

An elegant Languedoc red: Ch l'Hospitalet

This wine, from Gerard Bertrand’s Ch l’Hospitalet, is really impressive. Quite elegant, which is an achievement for a warm region like the Languedoc.

Château l’Hospitalet La Reserve 2007 La Clape, Languedoc, France
13.5% alcohol. A blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache. Beautifully aromatic with sweet, pure berry and cherry fruit notes. Quite liqueur-like. The [...]

Alsace season, 4: Dirler Belzbrunnen Riesling

Alsace Riesling is really interesting. It can be dry, off-dry or sweet, and usually has more body than German examples. The best examples rank among the highest expressions of this versatile variety, which seems to be able to make great wines in a number of styles. This one is from the south of the Alsace [...]

Vintage Port 2008: Noval and Romaneira

I have some Vintage Port from 2008 open at the moment. First up, two with a sort of family resemblance (Christian Seely is involved in both). Quinta do Noval has, over recent vintages, established itself as one of the top Douro properties. Romaneira is one to watch: a fantastically situated Quinta only recently renovated and [...]

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc, 2000 and 2004

I’m a big fan of Philipponnat. The Grand Blanc is a blend of Grand and Premier Cru Chardonnay, part fermented in wood. It’s a serious wine indeed, and here I tried two vintages, the 2000 and 2004. [Technically, I actually drank both vintages. They were fantastic and this isn't a wine for spitting.]

Champagne Philipponnat 2000 [...]

Red Vinho Verde: two Vinhãos compared

Vinho Verde comes from the north of Portugal, and most of you will probably have tried one or two white examples. What most people don’t tend to encounter is Vinho Verde in its red incarnation. It’s an unusual wine. Made chiefly from the Vinhão grape (known elsewhere in Portugal as Sousão), it’s very deep in [...]

Two impressive Aussie Nebbiolos

Nebbiolo is a perplexing but wonderful grape variety. Naturally low in colour and high in tannin, it isn’t very consumer friendly. But it is capable of greatness, as the top examples of Barbaresco and Barolo demonstrate on a regular basis.

Like many Italian red varieties, it doesn’t travel well and attempts to make new world Nebbiolo [...]

Sweet wine season, 13: Trinity Hill Noble Viognier

The sweet wine season is not yet over, even though the Alsace one has begun.

It’s not been long that we’ve had New Zealand’s generally excellent sweet wines available in the UK. For a good while they were kept out by some EU legislation. Here’s a brilliant one.

Trinity Hill Noble Viognier 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, [...]