The Wine Gang provides the UK’s most comprehensive independent coverage of wines available for sale in the UK. Formed by five of the UK’s sharpest palates and best-known wine commentators, the Gang is Tim Atkin MW of The Observer, Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com, Anthony Rose of The Independent, Joanna Simon of House & Gardens and Olly Smith of BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen.
Another strong showing from Majestic with some interesting new Italian listings, good value from Portugal and a real sense of adventure and fun in their line up. The French list, too, continues to deliver across the whole country. Long may it continue.
Here’s what The Gang had to say…
(*All prices valid until 30th August 2010 unless otherwise stated)
Domaine Coche-Bizouard 2007 Meursault (Burgundy), France
If you’re looking for a classy white Burgundy that looks good on the dinner table and delivers in the glass, too, this youthful Meursault is just the ticket. Toasty, textured and well balanced with notes of oatmeal, citrus fruit and vanilla.
Score: 91/100 − £25.00*
Astrolabe Kekerengu Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
The only thing we didn’t like about this top-notch Kiwi Sauvignon is its price, which takes it into inflated Cloudy Bay territory. Still, it’s a fabulous wine: light and elegant, with subtle citrus fruit flavours and welcome minerality. Marlborough meets Pouilly-Fumé.
Score: 91/100 − £19.99 (£15.99 when you buy any 2 New Zealand wines)*
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 19 Bird Block Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Crisp and herby on the nose – attractively bright and layered. To sip, this wine is delightfully crisp with very long lasting flavour and superb citrus refreshment. A real sense of vibrance and purity.
Score: 91/100 − £14.99 (£11.99 when you buy any 2 New Zealand wines)*
Waimea Estate Gewürztraminer 2009 Nelson, New Zealand
New Zealand aromatic styles are becoming increasingly well distributed, which is a welcome trend in our view. This rose petal-perfumed, complex, spicy Gewürz has a touch of sweetness (well, 16 grams to be precise), but is delightfully well balanced. The price comes down to £9.59 each for two bottles.
Score: 91/100 − £11.99 (£9.59 when you buy any 2 New Zealand wines)*
Château de Pennautier Chardonnay ‘Terroirs d’Altitude’ 2008 Vin de Pay d’Oc (Languedoc), France
Ten months’ ageing in oak, of which 50% is new, gives fab oatmeal and funky nutty complexity with long-lasting flavour, roundness off set by some fresh acidity. Excellent value and a very well made wine. Offers better value than the French football team did in South Africa.
One of this month’s Five Wines to drown your World Cup sorrows
Score: 91/100 − £6.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Domaine de Rabichattes Pouilly-Fumé, Grebet Père et Fils 2009 Pouilly-Fumé (Loire), France
Herby and bright, a touch of smoke on the nose. A touch edgy on the palate but we reckon it’ll settle in a few months – the joy of this wine is in its zing. A white packed with verve.
Score: 89/100 − £11.99 (£10.99 when you buy 2 0r more)*
Dominique Baud Sancerre, Les Baudrières 2009 Sancerre (Loire), France
The price drops under a tenner (to £9.49) if you buy two bottles of this classy, refreshing Sancerre, which makes it a bargain by the standards of such an in-demand appellation. Chalky and bright, with zesty acidity and impressive length of flavour.
Score: 89/100 − £10.99 (£9.49 when you buy 2 or more)*
Louis Jadot Les Roches Blanches 2008 Mâcon-Villages Blanc (Burgundy), France
Some stone fruit flavour here with a creamy and lactic tang, quite long lasting flavour and overall a good wine at the price – even more so if you can find it on offer
Score: 89/100 − £9.99 (£7.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Sistina Pecorino 2009 Terre di Chieti (Abruzzo), Italy
Plenty of zing with a crisp almost salty edge to it – yet it doesn’t seem at all aggressive. Good refreshment, bright and clean and great with shellfish.
Score: 89/100 − £8.74 (£6.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Domaine de la Tourmaline Muscadet Sur Lie 2009 Sèvre et Maine (Loire), France
Great value dry white wine with an invigorating salty flourish. Clean and crisp and outstanding with a plate of mussels.
One of this month’s Five Best Value Wines
Score: 89/100 − £6.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2008 Casablanca, Chile
Errazuriz’s wild yeast-fermented Casablanca Chardonnay remains one of the best in Chile, showing an attractive combination of smoky oak, buttery lees and cool climate acidity. The price comes down to £8.79 if you buy two bottles.
Score: 88/100 − £10.99 (£8.79 when you buy 2 or more Chilean still wines)*
Terredora Falanghina 2009 Campania, Italy
Falanghina is one of southern Italy’s best white grapes, and this weighty, flavoursome example is typical of the variety at its best. Flavoursome and pepper spicy, with a hint of tropical fruit and fresh acidity.
Score: 88/100 − £9.99 (£7.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Domaine Guillaume Cabrol Picpoul de Pinet Prestige 2009 Picpoul de Pinet (Languedoc), France
Bright and zippy fresh white wine with a flavour somewhere between peach and grapefruit. Zinging on the palate with a touch of subtle spice, this is glorious with shellfish or bouillabaisse and lovely to sip in the garden.
Score: 88/100 − £7.99 (£6.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Domaine Sainte Rose Le Vent du Nord Roussanne/Chardonnay 2008 Vin de Pay d’Oc (Languedoc), France
A blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Chardonnay. Roussanne fermented in 1 year old French oak barrels and aged for a further six months prior to blending. Peachy aromas, aromatic hint with zing and fleshy body.
Score: 88/100 − £6.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2009 Vinho Verde, Portugal
50% Loureiro 50% Pederna. Fragrant, floral aromas with a very clean and crisp, minerally palate. Awesome value for this zinging fresh summery white with pleasingly low alcohol.
Score: 88/100 − £6.24 (£4.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine ‘Clos du Four’ 2009 Christophe Cordier Mâcon (Burgundy), France
Good zing and complexity with some layers but the oak feels a touch tired and the wine could do with a bit more vibrance and resonance to lift the profile. Could be good with creamy dishes.
Score: 87/100 − £11.99 (£10.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Roero Arneis 2009 Marco Porello Piedmont, Italy
Quite a rich tang to this wine with a pleasing exotic streak along with fresh citrus refreshment. Good with a plate of fritto misto or as an aperitif in the garden.
Score: 87/100 − £9.99 (£7.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
La Guardiense Fiano Fremendo 2009 Sannio (Campania), Italy
An attractive Fiano at a more than attractive price (especially if you buy two bottles at £6.99 each), this is fresh and well-balanced, avoiding the heaviness that sometimes undermines this Italian grape. Elegant and well defined with notes of pear and ginger spice.
Score: 87/100 − £8.74 (£6.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Rich texture to this herby bright wine with a tang – brilliant with light fish dishes or as a garden glugger, especially until 30th August when buying two bottles with bring the price down to an irresistible £5.99.
Score: 87/100 − £7.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Marqués de Riscal Rueda Blanco 2009 Rueda, Spain
Riscal pioneered the idea of modern style whites in Rueda and still makes some very creditable, aromatic wines such as this one in the region. It’s a blend of mostly Verdejo with a little Viura, with apricot and grapefruit flavours and crunchy acidity. Save £4 if you buy two bottles.
Score: 87/100 − £7.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 or more)*
Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Crisp apply aromas lead to palate with citrus lift but also quite a dose of commercial sweetness which will no doubt have a wide appeal – for us a jot too much. Still, there’s no denying that this is an easy drinking New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Score: 87/100 − £8.74 (£6.99 when you buy any 2 New Zealand wines)*
D’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2006 McLaren Vale (South Australia), Australia
Big, brambly and profoundly oaked, this old vine Shiraz from McLaren Vale’s most visible winemaker, Chester Osborn, is sweet and concentrated with power to spare. If you like subtle wines, forget it, but this has masses of personality and the potential to age for 10 years.
One of this month’s Five Greatest Wines
Score: 93/100 − £25.00*
Craggy Range Zebra Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
The heavy bottle is a little off-putting (shipping this from New Zealand involves a size 14 carbon footprint), but the wine itself is well up to the high standards of recent Craggy releases. This is deeply coloured, rich and complex, with bright red and black fruits, savoury tannins and attractive oak handling. At £13.99 for two bottles, this is an amazing bargain for Pinotphiles.
One of this month’s Five Greatest Wines
Score: 93/100 − £17.49 (£13.98 when you buy any 2 New Zealand wines)*
Pierre-Jacques Druet Bourgueil Les Cent Boisselées 2003 Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil (Loire), France
Well done, Majestic, for tracking down a parcel of this mature Loire red from one of the region’s top growers. It’s a classic Cabernet Franc – grassy and soft with fresh acidity. There’s a savoury/gamey note that might not be to everyone’s taste, but we loved its bottle-aged complexity. The price is even more appealing if you buy two bottles for £8.99 each.
One of this month’s Five Best Value Wines
Score: 91/100 − £9.99 (£8.99when you buy 2 or more)*
Château Grand Faurie Larose Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2006 Saint-Emilion (Bordeaux), France
If you don’t want to spend all your spare cash on 2009 Bordeaux, which won’t be shipped for another two years, and wont be drinking for another ten, how about a bottle of this restrained, subtly oaked, Merlot-based claret instead? Fine tannins and a sweet, fleshy core of grassy, red berry fruit.
Score: 90/100 − £14.99*
La Casetta di Ettore Righetti Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2006 Valpolicella Classico (Veneto), Italy
Classic Ripasso style from the Valpolicella region, with typical notes of sweet and sour chocolate and damson fruit. Impressive concentration, lovely black fruits, a hint of volatile acidity and a spicy finish.
Score: 90/100 − £14.99 (£11.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Clos de Mont-Olivet Côtes du Rhône 2007 Côtes du Rhône (Rhône), France
We are sure going to miss the 2007 Rhône vintage when it’s all gone, because this is yet another wonderful wine at an approachable price, combining Grenache and Syrah to delicious effect. Lavender, clove, thyme and rosemary on the nose and palate, with full-bodied blackberry and raspberry fruit.
Score: 90/100 − £8.99 (£7.49 when you buy 2 bottles)*
D’Arenberg The Galvo Garage 2006 McLaren Vale (South Australia), Australia
Black cherry and bright, attractively layered fruit on the nose. The palate is huge in fruit but not too chunky with punnets of ripe squishy dark berry flavours. Some good length too. Match with a bold barbecue.
Score: 89/100 − £14.99 (£11.99 when you buy any 2 still Australian wines £5 – £19.99)*
Pratesi Locorosso Carmignano 2007 Tuscany, Italy
70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot turn out quite a rich dark wine with deft tannin, real personality and power. Not perhaps your usual Italian fare but we were impressed by its structure and persistence.
Score: 89/100 − £14.99 (£11.99 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Caronne Ste-Gemme Cru Bourgeois 2005 Haut-Médoc (Bordeaux), France
A cracking vintage and some serious value on offer here. Tobacco and truffle on the nose with a silky, soft palate layered with strata of flavours and a decent spine of tannin to match with a roast or hard cheeses. Reasonably well balanced and will happily age for another five years or more.
One of this month’s Five Wines to lay down
Score: 89/100 − £13.99 (£12.99 when you buy 2 bottles)*
Mas de Subira 2006 Priorat, Spain
Cherry bright minerality contrasting with dark liquorice-like depths and great lasting flavour – this would be amazing with lamb either roasted or smothered in yoghurt and cooked on the barbecue. Buy two bottles and the price comes down to £7.99, which is a must buy.
Score: 89/100 − £12.99 (£7.99 when you buy 2 bottles)*
Château Ramafort Cru Bourgeois 2001 Médoc (Bordeaux), France
For Bordeaux drinkers on a budget, this is a lovely bottle of what used to be known as luncheon claret. Very Cabernet Sauvignon, very elegant and drinking beautifully now: light and slightly gamey with polished tannins, fresh acidity and understated oak.
Score: 89/100 − £11.99 (£8.99 when you buy 2 bottles)*
Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2008 Barossa Valley (South Australia), Australia
Perfumed aromas of strawberry and cherry, rich pure fruit with a peppery finish and low-ish tannin. This could work brilliantly with spicy meaty dishes or as a glugger with red meats. Good quality and generously flavoured Grenache.
Score: 89/100 − £9.49 (£7.59 when you buy any 2 still Australian wines £5 – £19.99)*
Château de la Terrière Beaujolais-Villages 2009 Beaujolais-Villages (Beaujolais), France
If you haven’t caught on to the 2009 Beaujolais yet, they are a lot cheaper than Bordeaux from the same vintage and just as enjoyable in their way. This one is typically juicy and bright, with bags of red fruits and lip-smacking acidity. Drink it well chilled.
Score: 89/100 − £8.99 (£7.49 when you buy 2 bottles)*
D’Arenberg Custodian Grenache 2007 McLaren Vale (South Australia), Australia
Chestern Osborn is one of the great champions of Grenache Down Under. This unblended example from McLaren Vale is minty, full-bodied and brambly with a touch of tannin and sweet, oak-kissed fruit.
Score: 88/100 − £12.49 (£9.99 when you buy any 2 still Australian wines £5 – £19.99)*
Domaine Les Yeuses La Soure Merlot/Syrah 2008 Vin de Pay d’Oc (Languedoc), France
A really good value blend from one of our favourite Languedoc discoveries of the last few years, this combines Merlot with 40% Syrah. It’s smoky and elegant, with spicy, black pepper aromas and fleshy tannins. A blueprint that other producers should follow.
Score: 88/100 − £8.99 (£6.99 when you buy 2 bottles)*
Terre dell’Isola Nero D’Avola 2008 Sicily, Italy
Black fruit aromas with soft supple fruit on the palate – some excellent value here for a fruity summer glugger that offers value and quality. You could even sample it lightly chilled on a hot day.
Score: 88/100 − £5.99 (£4.79 when you buy any 2 Italian still wines £4.50 – £19.99)*
Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2009 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault (Languedoc), France
Sweetly perfumed aromas with a palate of vibrant light fruit that would suit meaty fish or a even a platter of charcuterie. When it’s down to £4.99 on offer, this is a cracking deal for a value wine with character.
Score: 88/100 − £6.99 (£5.99 when you buy 2 bottles)*
Please note: Some of these wines have proved very popular since the Wine Gang review and subsequently may no longer be listed on our website. Please contact your local store to determine availability in your area.