By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 25 February 2023
My top dozen finds from wine growers around the world from New Zealand, France, Spain, Uruguay, Portugal, California, Chile and Hungary:
Loire, France: DOMAINE DU CLERAY CHARDONNAY 2021 ***GOOD VALUE***
£12.95 Aitken Wines, Dundee
Not many Loire winemakers grow Chardonnay and those that do use it in sparkling Cremant or Saumur. This is exceptionally good value well-made still Chardonnay from Val de Loire. Quite similar to Chablis in style with its sleek minerally palate and zippy citric fruits.
Isere, France: DOMAINE JEREMY BRICKA VERDESSE PONT DE BRION 2020
£27 The Sourcing Table
In little-known mountainous Isere south of Savoie region, Bricka – who was once a whisky distiller – is now focusing on nurturing rare local varieties in his winemaking. Verdesse planted 500 metres altitude – this has superb mountain freshness, appley light spice, smooth texture and honeyed flavours. Very good for such a relative newcomer.
Maldonado, Uruguay: GARZON RESERVE ALBARINO 2021
£17-£19 Fine Wine Musselburgh; Smith & Gertrude; Fountainhall Wines
North West Spain’s Albarino grape seems to have found a home in eastern Uruguay – now with 70 hectares planted here. Bodegas Garzon is a pioneer here in Maldonado – with a breathtakingly large investment from Argentine millionaire Alejandro Bulgerhoni.- one of their best whites to date is this bright peachy, rich textured Albarino.
North Canterbury, New Zealand: BLACK ESTATE CHENIN BLANC 2021 ***STAR BUY***
£40 Lea & Sandeman; Specialist Cellars
Black Estate is an exciting new find in Waipara. Their Pinot Noirs are very good – but this Chenin Blanc is superb – the star wine in a recent New Zealand wine week tasting. Rich honey and apple, dried apricot fruits, waxy mouthfeel with intense complexity, tight structure and long length. Superb.
Jerez, Spain: COTA 45 MIRAFLORES ‘UBE’ 2021
£24.50 The Sourcing Table
This shone out at a tasting line up of unfortified wines in Jerez – the home of sherry. Pioneering vinegrower Ramiro Ibanez has a magic touch, transforming Palomino grapes grown on albariza soil to a sensationally fresh savoury salty briny white with baked apple fruits and a hint of the famous yeasty ‘flor’ of fino.
Loire, France: DOMAINE DU MOULIN CAMUS GAMAY 2021
£10 Woodwinters, Edinburgh/Bridge of Allan/Inverness
Gamay might be Beaujolais’ grape, but it is enjoying a revival elsewhere. Amongst a sea of white wine vineyards in Muscadet in western Loire – Gamay grows remarkably well on the mica schist soils. With organic viticulture and natural sulphur-free winemaking Domaine du Moulin have crafted a deliciously juicy and minerally light red for spring/summer drinking.
Burgundy, France: CHANSON BOURGOGNE PINOT NOIR 2018 ***STAR BUY***
£14.50 The Wine Society
For red Burgundy lovers on a budget – this fragrant supple ripe red-fruited spicy succulent Pinot Noir is astonishingly good value. A crunchy spicy blend of southern Cote de Beaune and Cote Chalonnaise fruit from a very warm ripe summer.
St Emilion, Bordeaux: CHATEAU TEYSSIER 2015
£25 Vinissimus; Fine Wine Direct; Honest Grapes
Remember Englishman Jonathan Maltus of La Dome fame? He also makes this exceptionally good value St Emilion Grand Cru from the sandy gravelly soils in tiny Montagne-St Emilion appellation. Very fragrant, very ripe red cherry and plum fruits with spicy undertones and fine grained tannins. A well-made Merlot with 30% Cabernet Franc added to the blend to give freshness.
Setubal, Portugal: VINHA DO FAVA TOURIGA NACIONAL 2021 ***GREAT VALUE***
£7.99 each for 6 bts or £11.99 bt Laithwaites
Touriga Nacional is usually grown on schist or granite, but in Setubal it grows in golden sand. This is a remarkably good value lush-fruited example from Casa Ermelinda with a sweet spiciness from ageing in French and American oak. Deep dark intense plummy and black cherry fruits, succulent and velvet smooth textures – great for matching with vegetarian food.
Itata, Chile: VIU MANENT ‘TINY TRIALS’ CINSAULT 2021
£18 Noel Young Wines; Wine Direct
Loved this limited release Cinsault with its red cherry fruits and floral notes from trendy Itata valley in southern Chile. Grown on granite soils in Guarilihue area, just 20 kilometres from the Pacific, the wine has such a vivid natural fresh acidity from ocean influence – fermented and matured in concrete eggs for 7 months by the well known Viu Manent family winery.
California, USA: SCAR OF THE SEA SLO COAST PINOT NOIR 2020
£30 The Sourcing Table
For anyone fascinated by the fickle Pinot Noir grape, this example made by Mickey Giugni in California’s newest AVA the foggy San Luis Obispo coast shows it has found a home here. A combination of coastal microclimate, whole cluster fermentation and oak ageing for 11 months has created this vivid cranberry cherry fruited juicy Pinot with savoury earthy depth.
Tokaj, Hungary: DISZNOKO TOKAJ LATE HARVEST 2017 ***STAR BUY***
£18.95 for 50 cl bt Cork & Cask, Edinburgh
A good introduction to Tokaj’s sweet botrytised wines made from Furmint with a hint of Zeta and Harslevelu. French-owned Disznoko has a vivid freshness and minerally style compared to other wineries. Ripe citric and mango fruits with spicy depth and delicious honeyed sweetness – a great wine to celebrate Furmint February!
Join Rose’s forthcoming escorted wine tours abroad to Georgia September 2023 and South America February/March 2024 www.rosemurraybrown.com