The Lizard Chardonnay Vin de Pays
No, not from
Oz as you might think, but from France. For decades Languedoc-Roussillon
was a vast sink of mediocre wines which filled the EU wine lake.
Around ten years ago the light dawned that it didn’t have to be this
way. Trained winemakers and viticulturists realised that it was a
perfect region for producing high quality wines and that
inappropriate varieties, lack of investment and a rather parochial
attitude was all that was holding the area back. Lazy Lizard is
produced from the chardonnay grape variety, and allegedly the
vineyard lizards love to bask in the warmth of the late summer sun,
which slowly ripens the chardonnay grapes to their full maturity,
producing a zingy wine, full of flavours of grapefruit, melon and
The open fruity style hasn’t needed any oak overlay and more than
matches the Aussie competition at this price.
A blend of 50% Semillon
and 50% Sauvignon Blanc , the cool
fruit aromas from the Sauvignon Blanc and richness and weight
from the Semillon combine to provide peach and tropical fruit
flavours on the palate. A soft creamy mouthfeel, real fruit
concentration and good length on the finish combine to make this
an appealing wine, and fermentation in temperature controlled
stainless steel ensures it retains its fresh fruit character.
Delicious as an aperitif, or serve with roast chicken and pasta
Domaine du Pre Baron Sauvignon Blanc 2012
If you are one of the large number of fans of
assertive Sauvignon Blanc, then this is the wine for you. The
classic Sauvignon nose of hedgerows and blackcurrant leaf lead into
a hugely concentrated mouthful of rich gooseberry flavour. It is a very ripe
vintage and the wine is more than a match for its more expensive
neighbours in Menetou Salon or Sancerre.
Vineyard website -
Clos Bagatelle Quatre Vents 2009 £7.50
A well judged blend of Sauvignon Blanc,
Vermentino, Roussanne, Chardonnay and Muscat, the grapes are
pressed gently with a pneumatic press and the fermentation occurs at
a low temperature to maximise the fruit flavours. There is a pretty
floral nose, the palate is bursting with grapey flavours and there
is long aftertaste with enticing hints of aniseed. This is a
delightfully quaffable white full of character and fantastic value
Borsao Seleccion Blanco 2011
100% Maccabeo, this staple white grape of many
Spanish wines is found here in a ripe, fruity and refreshing wine.
Bodegas Borsao was established in 2001 and is to be found in the
Campo de Borja zone southeast of Rioja. Grapes come from 620 member
growers covering 2,500 hectares, nearly a third of the region's
total. The vineyards lie in the undulating foothills of the Moncayo
mountain, up to 700m above sea level and this varietal, as you might
expect from a well-equipped cellar of this size, is an outstanding
example of an easy-to-drink inexpensive wine.
Vineyard website -
Adobe Reserva Gewurztraminer 2013
A new find from Chile, a delight to drink and
amazing value. The nose has jasmine tea notes with a touch of lychee.
On the palate there are bright floral and mineral nuances with a
lingeringly spicy and exotic finish. A stunning wine, the absolute
essence of Gewürztraminer. The producer, Emiliana, is South
America’s largest organic producer, and their spectacular vineyard
and winery at Los Robles has the added benefit of being biodynamic
and features the sensory delights of roaming Alpacas, dung heaps and
dynamised biodynamic mixtures to treat the vineyards.
Vineyard website -
Château Bastide Abondance Blanc AC Corbières
Between the towns of Narbonne and Carcassonne
stands the imposing Château la Bastide, owned and run by Guilhelm
Durand. This is a new wine from Guilhelm, which successfully blends
80% Roussanne with 20% Vermentino. It has a pretty floral nose with
a hint of menthol, which leads into a juicy mouthful of exotic fruit
salad flavours, ending with a crisp finish and good length.
Domaine Treloar One Block Muscat 2010
Jonathan Hesford, the owner and winemaker at Domaine
Treloar, used to work for an investment bank in New York as an IT
specialist. On September 11th 2001 he was working one block away
from the World Trade Center. The aftermath of this prompted a
fundamental re-appraisal of what he and his Kiwi wife Rachel Treloar
wanted from life, and after subsequent study and training, he
followed his wine passion and bought a vineyard in Roussillon in
France. The name also reflects the fact that this wine is made from
a single block of vines.
The wine is light, fresh and aromatic, with an array
of aromas - spring flowers, passionfruit, lemongrass and a hint of
It tantalizes the tongue with crisp fruit and a touch
of honey but the palate has a creamy texture. It is a long and
complex wine, very drinkable either on its own or with food -
seafood, salad with fruits and fresh goats' cheese seem to work
Chateau Puychance Blanc 2010 AOC Bordeaux
Côtes de Francs
About a dozen miles to the north east of St Emilion
but sharing the same great soil and climate, this fourth generation
family 30 hectare vineyard is owned by Joseph and Bernadette Arbo,
who have invested heavily in new vinification equipment and are now
making consistently great wines.
The wine is made from 50 year old vines, using the
classic Graves blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. The
vinification is started in stainless steel, and then the wine is
transferred to oak barriques where it continues its fermentation.
Battonage is used to maximise lees contact, enhancing the texture of
It is pale
lemon in colour with white peach and pineapple on the nose and just
a hint of oak. On the palate it has beautiful mouthfeel with superb
mango and pineapple flavours, crisp acidity and good length. There
is surprising complexity and it is the match for many a much more
expensive White Graves. Perfect now, but will last and develop in
complexity until around 2018.
Domaine de Malavieille Petits Dragons NV
This truly unique wine is made from Petit Manseng, which is more
usually found in the wines of Jurançon, and Chenin Blanc. Because
Petit Menseng is not permitted within the appellation, the wine has
to be classified as a simple Vin de Table. It is however far from
simple in any other respect!
The yields are very low and the grapes are picked at optimal
ripeness, to enhance the concentration and flavour. The wine is
barrel fermented very gently and the results are superb. It has a
ripe, honeyed nose, which leads into a concentrated mouthful of
exotic, tropical fruit salad flavours. There is excellent acidity
balancing the richness of the fruit, and it finishes very long.
Domaine Alquier Blanc Tradition 2012 AOC Côtes
Near the pretty village of Saint Jean Pla des Corts,
you will find Pierre Alquier and his 32 hectare vineyard nestling at
the foot of the Albères mountains. The vines, planted amongst the
cork trees and mimosa, benefit from this unique terroir, producing
wines with a lovely freshness and minerality. The vineyard is at an
altitude of 160 metres, with big stones around the vines that store
up the heat during the day and release it at night. The altitude
and the cooling winds adjacent mountains ensure that the vines are
rarely exposed to extremes of heat.
Pierre is a pharmacist, who retrained in Oenology to
return to take over the reins of the family vineyard in 1995. His
two degrees have allowed him to marry tradition and modernity in his
quest to make top quality wine. He has completely restructured the
vineyard and invested heavily in modern equipment in the cellar.
Many of his wines had received medals in Paris and Mâcon and awards
in the Guide Hachette.
This wine is made from 50% of the indigenous grape
Maccabeu (aka Macabéo in Spain) with 25% Vermentino and 25% Grenache
Blanc. It is vinified at low temperature and kept on the lees for
six months to enhance the flavour. There is an inviting grapy nose
with hints of honeysuckle. The palate is very juicy with good
concentration and flavours of grapefruit and nectarine. There is
lovely acidity at the finish. A wine of great individuality and
perfect for drinking now.
Chenu Savigny Blanc 2008 AC Savigny-les-Beaune
This fourth generation vineyard is
now managed by Louis Chenu’s daughters, Juliette and
Caroline.Together the two sisters have moved this respected Burgundy
domaine on to another level. Situated only a few minutes walk from
the picturesque Château de Savigny-les-Beaune, the Chenu vineyard is
made up from 9 hectares, which includes three Premier Cru plots.
The oldest vines are 60 years old. Caroline is responsible for the
vineyard and wines, while Juliette manages the marketing. They are
wines of great concentration yet with the finesse and freshness,
that underlines their femininity. We have been fortunate to have
been offered a small parcel of these lovely 2008s. They are almost
impossible to find now, and for Burgundy of this quality are simply
amazing value. As with all White Burgundy, this barrel fermented
wine is made from 100% Chardonnay. It has a gentle toasted brioche
nose, while on the palate there are flavours of nuts, apples and
honey, with a hint of vanilla. Lovely to drink now, but it will
develop and become more complex over the next five years.
Nerleux Les Loups Blancs 2007 AC Saumur
Domaine de Nerleux is home to
Elisabeth and Régis Neau, who are the eighth generation of
winemakers to reside in the 17th Century mansion that lies at the
hub of the domaine. We have imported sparkling wines as well as a
Saumur from them for many years now, but this wine was a new
discovery at the annual Loire Wine Faire held in Angers which John
visited in 2009. The average age of the vines is 25 years, the
oldest vines having been planted in1933. The terroir is largely
limestone. Since 1996, and only in great vintages, they have made a
concentrated Saumur Blanc, carefully harvested from selected parcels
of Chenin Blanc grapes. Matured partly in new barrels, the wine is
rich and beautifully balanced with aromas of tropical fruits. Whilst
drinking beautifully now it will continue to mature until 2015.
Vineyard website -