HIGHLY COMMENDED French sparkling Taittinger Nocturne Sec, Champagne NV (£44.15, Hatch Mansfield): Delicate nose; creamy mouthfeel, expansive palate: mineral, bready, floral. Long. Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, Champagne NV (£49.99, Liberty Wines): Golden, with fine bubbles, lots of biscuity richness; excellent balance.
UVAS FELICES EL HOMBRE BALA OLD VINE GARNACHA
NAVAJAS RESERVA TINTO
Madrid, Spain 2016
There are certain wine styles that are pretty much essential staples of any independent wine range, and a goodquality Rioja Reserva, at a competitive price, is certainly among them.
The winner of last year’s Top 100 Best Red Wine trophy has wowed another set of independent merchant judges with the followon vintage, and only narrowly missed out on the top prize again. “So fragrant and aromatic with pine needles and cherries and raspberries,” the judges said. “The palate is glossy and supple and lively and pure, with a medium weight and easy-soft fruits and juicy freshness.” It’s the product of a fruitful partnershop between Barcelona retailers Vila Viniteca and master Garnacha makers Commando G, using old (50 to 90-year-old) Garnacha vines from high up in the Sierra de Gredos hills near Madrid.
Rioja, Spain 2011
For the Top 100 judges, this was a wine to meet that demand. “A Rioja with personality – herbal and smoky notes, tight but well-ripened fruit, and nicely integrated oak,” they said. “We really like the elegant silky palate, and there’s good volume and length, too. Just what the doctor ordered for all those many Rioja fans.” The team behind the prescription is Bodegas Navajas, a 110-year-old winery that has been run by the Navajas family since the early 1980s.
LA RIOJA ALTA VIÑA ARDANZA RESERVA Rioja, Spain 2010 One of the great names of classical Rioja, La Rioja Alta continues to craft wines in the traditional way at its atmospheric winery in the famed station district of Haro. A long-term favourite of independent retail ranges over the years, the Viña Ardanza Reserva is as good as ever in the 2010 vintage, according to the Top 100 judges. “Mature savoury nose; nice rich and mellow classic Rioja character,” they said. “Although there’s oak here, it’s beautifully worked, and the fruit beneath is perfectly ripe on the nose. The tannins are there but they’ve softened with age. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could dislike this. Top-notch and, for the quality, not badly priced.”
Walker & Wodehouse
RRP £23.49 ABV 14.5%
RRP £13.41 ABV 14.5%
RRP £31 ABV 13.8%
Champagne Delavenne Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV 2013/2014 (£36.99, Vindependents): Intense with perfumed almonds, baked apples; zingy! Champagne Delavenne Grand Cru Brut Nature, Champagne NV 2012/2013 (£39.99, Vindependents): Citrus and melon notes; lovely fresh feel. Champagne Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs, Champagne NV (£27.69, Walker & Wodehouse): Clarity, freshness, lifted lime and lemon; persistent length. Domaines Paul Mas Château Martinolles Crémant De Limoux Grande Réserve, Languedoc-Roussillon 2013 (£17.50, Domaines Paul Mas): Powerful with crisp apples and aged notes. A good example. Domaines Paul Mas Château Martinolles Crémant De Limoux Rosé, NV (£14.99, Domaines Paul Mas): Subtle red fruit; tangy, fresh – great value.
Italian sparkling Ruggeri Prosecco Argeo, Veneto NV (£14.75, Enotria&Coe): Ripe and bold fruit; fresh and pure; nice classic Prosecco cream soda mousse. Ferrari Maximum Brut, Trento DOC NV (£25, Enotria&Coe): Fresh fruit and lots of mineral interest; crisp and dry finish. Bacio Della Luna Cuvee, Veneto 2018 (£11.49, Buckingham Schenk): Simple but good value with briskness and pear and floral notes.
Spanish sparkling Castillo Perelada Reserva Brut, Cava NV (£10.50, Halewood International): Good tension with a touch of toastiness and softly foaming mousse.
The Wine Merchant Top 100
The Wine Merchant Top 100 Winners Supplement 2019