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For those of us who make New Year’s resolutions, perhaps one of them should be to celebrate wine’s diversity and try some new styles. Simon Woods offers his recommendations for 2011 in three parts
Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is both cheap and good. However, the good stuff is not cheap, while the cheap stuff… well, enough said. But if you’re prepared to abandon the bargain basement, there are some terrific wines to be had.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (£19.99, Majestic) has ripe blackcurrant and berry flesh balanced with a hint of violets and some spice from the oak ageing. Better still is Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (£25.80-33.00, AG Wines, HarperWells, Slurp.co.uk), also from Napa. This is lighter in body, but with more earthiness, mineral intensity and freshness of fruit. Both are drinking well now – roast lamb please – but the Frog’s Leap will be even better in three
to four years’ time.
Rather like Beaujolais, Muscadet suffers from being just that bit too well known. And since (like Beaujolais) it rose to prominence at a time when its quality left much to be desired, it’s often ignored by wine drinkers.
A shame, because the good examples can be excellent, especially with oysters (providing there’s an ‘r’ in the month). Domaine Fief de la Brie Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2009 (£6.90, Tanners) has something of a briny Atlantic tang alongside its crisp, pithy citrus flavours, plus a yeasty richness from the time spent on the lees – classic oyster fodder.
If you’ve never tried older Muscadet, the Domaine du Haut Bourg Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2001 (£11.10, Sommelier’s Choice) will come as something of a revelation. It has some of the same briny backbone, but age has added wonderfully nutty complexity – serve it in place of mature white Burgundy.
2009 Bourgogne Rouge
The 2009 vintage in Burgundy hasn’t attracted quite the same level of hysteria that it did in Bordeaux, but even at this early stage, it’s clear that there will be some delicious wines with friendly, ripe fruit, gentle tannins and lowish acidities. 2011 is a little early to broach most of the fine wines, but there’s no reason not to pull
the corks on Bourgogne Rouge from decent producers.
At the time of writing, most are still to be released – look to the 2009 Burgundy offers from specialists such as A&B Vintners, Berry Bros & Rudd, Bibendum, Corney & Barrow, Domaine Direct, Flint Wines, Goedhuis, Haynes Hanson & Clark, Justerini & Brooks, OW Loeb, Montrachet, Howard Ripley and Tanners, which will appear early in 2011. But the lithe cherry and raspberry flavours and touch of coffee-scented oak in the Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Pinot Noir Les Ursulines 2009 (£13.99, Highbury Vintners, Noel Young Wines, The Butlers Wine Cellar) shows the pleasures that are in store…
Continued in Part 2...