Winter Wine Reviews

by Eve-Marie Letondel

Recent wine reviews from The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Times, Decanter and Money Weeks.

‘In the know’: the most overlooked white wines, Zeren Wilson, The Guardian, 24/02/2023:

Macon villages denante

2021 MÂCON VILLAGES Domaine de la Denante
£14.95 | £13.50
Review: ‘And how about one of the priciest regions on the planet – where do wine-trade mavens spend their own cash when it comes to the sharper-priced side of Burgundy? I was recently charmed by one of the best-value chardonnays I’ve had for a long time, a Mâcon-Villages from father and son Robert and Damien Martin on a small estate in the village of Davayé – Domaine de la Denante is the kind of white I’m happy always to have to hand in the fridge door. Meursault can wait until the next trade tasting.’

12 best sauvignon blancs that taste like summer in a glass, John Clarke, The Independent, 21/02/2023:

 2022 CONVERGENCE Sauvignon Blanc Two Rivers of Marlborough

2022 CONVERGENCE Sauvignon Blanc Two Rivers of Marlborough
£16.50 | £14.95
Review: ‘The two rivers in question are the Awatere and Wairau, and the convergence is the combination of the grapes that grow on both banks of these Marlborough waterways in New Zealand. The winery’s aim is to create inspiring wines with “elegance, purity and a sense of place” and it has to be said it’s succeeded, aided by the decision to ferment a portion of the wine in concrete egg tanks and clay amphora and then to age it on light yeast lees for three months. The outcome is a wine with a texture and a huge depth of flavour that encompasses lime, tropical fruit and peach with notes of coconut and flinty minerality.’

DO Toro – Modernity anchored in tradition, Decanter, 17/02/2023:

2021 MUNIA TORO Roble Bodegas Viñaguareña

2021 MUNIA TORO Roble Bodegas Viñaguareña
£12.95 | £11.50
Review: ‘Levely depth to the expressive bouquet of plum, red apples and pomegranate. Poised palate, showing bright plum, sour cherry and pomegranate and driven by assertive yet refreshing tannins. Good energy and pull on the mid palate offset by a deep aspect of forest floor and wet wood. Long finish with lingering plum and spiced cherry.’ Rating: 91

View 2020 vintage

Drinks to adore on Valentine’s Day, James Viner, The Times of Turnbridge Wells, 10/02/2023:

Herbet Hall Rosé

2018 HERBERT HALL Rosé Brut
£43.95 | £39.50
Review: ‘Woo your sweetheart with a ravishing fruit-driven sparkling rosé from Marden, Kent. Gorgeous, fruity, floral and red berry fruit gem, all peach blossom, freshly picked redcurrants and raspberries, made from (organically farmed) 40% Chardonnay and 30% each Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in Marden, Kent. It’s brisk and well-balanced with saliva-sapping energy. A very accomplished wine. Rather glorious with sushi too –get your order in at award-winning London wine merchant, Lea & Sandeman. Great vibrant drinking.’

The best wines for Valentine’s Day, Will Lyons, The Times, 08/02/2023:

2015 CHÂTEAU COUTET 1er Cru Classé Barsac

2015 CHÂTEAU COUTET 1er Cru Classé Barsac
£46.50 | £42.95
Review: ‘It’s also a day when you can serve something you wouldn’t normally. A sweet wine, perhaps? If you’re feeling decadent, splash out on a sauternes from Bordeaux. The rich and layered 2015 Château Coutet Barsac (Lea & Sandeman, £46.50), with its honeyed, peachy flavour, guarantees a very special evening.’

Indigenous Italy: Classic wines with regional flair, Olivia Mason, Decanter, 01/02/2023:

2021 GRECHETTO Tenuta di Salviano

2021 GRECHETTO Tenuta di Salviano
£16.95 | £14.95
Review: ‘Rich aromas with delicate acacia, hazelnut, almond and a touch of honey. Sunny ripeness on a bright palate with floral notes, fresh lemon, cedar, grapefruit and more notes of hazelnut. Appealing, impressive body and structure with a lush, long finish.’

Beat the winter blues by drinking chilled reds with hot food, Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, 26/01/2023:

2020 Remy Joel bourgogne rouge

2020 BOURGOGNE ROUGE Pinot Noir Domaine Joël Remy
£19.50 | £17.50
Review: ‘The other day we walked around a soggy Kew Gardens then went back to a friend’s kitchen for platefuls of sausages with lentils. I had taken a bottle of Domaine Joël Remy Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir 2020, bought from Lea & Sandeman.
This is an honest and sturdy red Burgundy. It tastes of being outdoors, has a bit of chew and dust on the palate, and enough sappiness – a smell of red berries and a bite of acidity – to remind the drinker that spring will one day be on the way.’

Why the champagne shortage is actually good news for fizz – and the best alternative bubbles, Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, 31/12/2022:
“Charles Lea of wine merchant Lea & Sandeman was one of those who, faced with scant supplies from his existing (and excellent) brands and growers, took decisive action. ‘After much research, he jumped into his car and drove off to France to hunt out new producers,’ says the company’s head of retail, David Porter.

He came back with eight super new growers and made some great connections which we hope will mean further additions soon. These join the wonders from (growers) Gonet-Médeville, Barnaut, R&L Legras and the very in-demand Egly-Ouriet and Larmandier-Bernier on our list.’

[…] Back at Lea & Sandeman I ask David Porter how the new grower Champagnes have been received. ‘More and more customers are open-minded enough to take our recommendations.”

Gonet Tradition Rosé

GONET-MÉDEVILLE Rosé Extra Brut 1er Cru NV
£43.95 | £40.95
Review: ‘Intense rosé Champagne that’s good with sushi or fish pie.’

COATES & SEELY Reserve Brut Britagne

COATES & SEELY Reserve Brut Britagne
£32.95 | £30.95
Review: ‘Coates & Seely gets tastier and tastier every year; the Brut NV is beautifully perfumed, with a waft of toasted panettone.’

16 best wines to drink with Christmas dinner, Jane MacQuitty, The Times, 16/12/2022:

2019 Castagnoli Chianti Classico

2019 Castagnoli Chianti Classico
£21.95 | £19.50
Review: ‘A sleek, stylish chianti with velvety tannins and bright red plum-packed fruit, it’s a star with goose, or duck.’

Top Champagne Picks From 2022, Aidy Smith, Oracle Time, 12/12/2022:


£83.95 | £78.50
Review: ‘Bollinger’s latest 100% Pinot Noir release is the perfect Blanc de Noir to embrace in 2023. The 2017 vintage is cellar aged for more than twice the required time, giving it a delightful golden hue. Expect dried flowers, mocha, and liquorice on the nose with a baked nectarine, honey, and creme de cassis palate. Oo la la!’

The List – Last Minute Champagne and Sparkling Wine Buys in the UK right now, Tom Hewson,, 11/12/2022:

EGLY-OURIET Les Vignes de Vrigny Brut 1er Cru NV

EGLY-OURIET Les Vignes de Vrigny Brut 1er Cru NV (2022 release)
£120.95 | £107.95
Review: ‘Not the bargain it once was, but this is still a rather unique and irreplaceable wine. Bold, deep, and complex yet with a beautifully clear texture. Check the disgorgement date – you really need at least six months and some have been released a little early.’

‘The emergency present’ and 11 other types of wine you need this Christmas, Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, 09/12/2022:

COATES & SEELY Reserve Brut Britagne

COATES & SEELY Reserve Brut Britagne
£32.95 | £30.95
Review: ‘This keenly priced English sparkling wine is excellent – biscuity and alert, a worthy winner of a Best in Show trophy at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards, and a great festive aperitif that on value gives a lot of Champagnes a run for their money.’

Jancis Robinson’s recommended reds for Christmas 2022 Financial Times 03/12/2022:

2020 Rasteau Elodie Balme

2020 RASTEAU Domaine Elodie Balme
£21.95 | £19.95
Review: ‘Very fresh and rich with lovely energy and a hint of pepper and tannin.’ 


2021 DOLCETTO DOGLIANI Papa Celso Marziano Abbona

2021 DOLCETTO DOGLIANI Papà Celso Marziano Abbona
£21.95 | £19.50
Review: ‘Real bite and pure Piemonte. Bring on the raw meat! Super-tangy.’

The best low-cost sparkling wine and Champagne to stock up on this Christmas, Victoria Moore, The Telegraph, 02/12/2022:

Denois Tradition

JEAN-LOUIS DENOIS Méthode Traditionelle Chardonnay-Pinot Noir Brut
£17.50 | £15.95
Review: ‘JL Denois Tradition Crémant de Limoux Extra Brut NV is also superb. Made from chardonnay and pinot noir, it is similar in style to a Champagne and won top marks from some of my tasters who enjoyed its warm notes of nougat and brioche.’


Cremant de Loire

CRÉMANT DE LOIRE Brut Domaine des Hauts Perrays
£15.05 | £13.95
Review: ‘A beautiful sparkling wine with notes of spiced apple cake, made in the Loire. Pure class.’

MoneyWeek Christmas Special – Six of the Best, Matthew Jukes, Money Week, 02/12/2022:

2021 Kratos

2021 KRATOS Fiano Luigi Maffini
£22.95 | £20.50
Review: ‘Christmas is the perfect time to reward your palate while pushing the boat out just a little. My favourite ‘grand aperitif/starters’ white of the year is this scintillating Fiano from the masterful Maffini. While this wine loads an incredible amount of flair and detail into its performance, there is an overriding sense of cleansing freshness and vitality here that means you can glug it before settling in for a massive feast or, indeed, allow it to strut its stuff with elite starters. The perfume is magical with faint stone fruit and Sicilian lemon tones, and the palate is sleek, pricked with ozone freshness and keen acidity. Give Loire Sauvignon and Friuli Pinot Grigio the heave-ho this year and treat yourself to the most exciting £20-white on the shelves this season.’ 

The 40 best bottles of wine and champagne to buy this Christmas, Will Lyons, The Times, 01/12/2022:

2019 Raats Cabernet Franc Dolomite

2019 CABERNET FRANC Dolomite Raats Family Wines
£12.95 | £11.95
Review: ‘Bruwer Raats’s cabernet franc is confidently stylish, packed with taut black fruit and satisfying acidity. I would be happy pouring this for lunch on the big day itself.’

Gonet Tradition Rosé

GONET-MÉDEVILLE Rosé Extra Brut 1er Cru NV
£43.95 | £40.50
Review: ‘Beloved of sommeliers, grower champagne is the insider’s choice and this is an exquisite, zesty rosé. Elegant and complex, it’s one for the connoisseurs.’

Jancis Robinson on the best bubbles for Christmas 2022, The Financial Times ,18/11/2022:

ACCORD MAJEUR Brut Champagne Lancelot Pienne NV

ACCORD MAJEUR Brut Champagne Lancelot Pienne NV
£34.95 | £31.95
Review: ‘Ambitious, interesting wine for the money. Mainly 2014 Pinot Meunier based on special vines selected by Gilles Lancelot’s grandfather.’ 


Legras Blanc de Blancs

LEGRAS Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru Chouilly R & L Legras NV
£39.95 | £37.50
Review: ‘A well-balanced, rewarding, classic fine Chardonnay aperitif. It fills the mouth without any excess acidity. Not a bad price for the quality.’