Stockport Express - - Leisure - ANDY CRONSHAW

MONO-VA­RI­ETAL wines are wines made from just one grape and they can be the trick­i­est wines to get right.

This week I’m rec­om­mend­ing two – a Petit Ver­dot from South Africa and a Pinot Noir from Cal­i­for­nia.

There has been a his­tory of France’s lesser grapes, particularly those used his­tor­i­cally in Bordeaux, ap­pear­ing in the New World as sin­gle va­ri­etals.

Mal­bec, once used in Bordeaux, is now al­most non-ex­is­tent in France, apart from the south west where it makes Ca­hors.

The­o­ret­i­cally it is still al­lowed in Bordeaux or even in Loire blends where it has been largely su­per­seded by Caber­net Franc.

Now, of course, Mal­bec’s strong­hold is in Ar­gentina where the sun­shine and el­e­va­tion seem to suit it particularly well.

Petit Ver­dot, which still has a pres­ence in Bordeaux as a blend­ing agent is also find­ing a wel­come home in hot­ter climes such as Aus­tralia and South Africa.

This may be be­cause it is a thick skinned va­ri­ety that is very late ripen­ing, even more so than Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, and there­fore en­joys the

●●KWV Men­tors Petit Ver­dot 2014

long sum­mers. Its pe­cu­liar­i­ties make 100 per cent Petit Ver­dot rare be­cause if not fully ripened the grape will make a very as­trin­gent green wine. When ev­ery­thing goes to plan, how­ever, it’s ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a wine of com­plex­ity and depth.

KWV The Men­tors Petit Ver­dot 2014 (£14.95, Ocado, Slurp, SH Jones)

This wine, made in Stellenbosch South Africa, is made to a style that will please lovers of big, oak-scented reds but it’s no over-ex­tracted brute.

A chal­leng­ing vin­tage, in­clud­ing a late flow­er­ing in spring, held up the harvest of la­t­eripen­ing grapes such as Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and Petit Ver­dot.

But some­times lower yields in a dif­fi­cult year can pro­duce wines that have great flavour, in­ten­sity and struc­ture.

A rig­or­ous se­lec­tion process when sort­ing through the grapes has also helped pro­duce a wine that is im­pres­sively bold but one that re­tains el­e­gance.

It has a pro­nounced cedary qual­ity on the nose very much in a Bordeaux style.

But there’s also a flo­ral note and a lit­tle spice and vanilla.

The palate is dark cherry and plum but there’s a bright black­cur­rant sheen to the fruit as well.

I’d sug­gest that this would be a great match for roast beef.

Pinot Noir could hardly be called one of France’s lesser grapes.

In fact, there are many who be­lieve it is France’s great­est grape; ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing some of the sex­i­est wines on the planet. But fine Bur­gundy, per­haps the finest ex­pres­sion of Pinot, is ex­pen­sive.

For Pinot at the cheaper end of the mar­ket it’s some­times best to head else­where.

Parker Sta­tion Pinot Noir 2015 (£13.50 The Wine So­ci­ety and £14.50 Amathus Drinks )

This is about as good as it gets at this price for Pinot Noir. The wine is made by the Parker fam­ily us­ing grapes from cooler-cli­mate sites in Monterey, Santa Bar­bara and San Luis Obispo Coun­ties – if you’ve ever seen the film Side­ways you’ll be in the right area if you think of the vine­yards de­picted there.

On the nose there’s char­coal and clove with a lit­tle toasty oak and some spice.

The palate bursts with sweet­ish red fruits while a lit­tle black tea and soft tan­nins adds a nice bal­ance.

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