Points east – autumn collection

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See this guide to our autumn collections.

We offer you our most geographically diverse assortment of more than 70 wine reviews here, divided first by country – Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey, then by colour and then in descending score order. Again, the UK retailer Marks & Spencer deserves a pat on the back for the hard work put in to finding some genuinely interesting wines from a number of these wine-producing countries definitively off the beaten track.

BULGARIA


RED

Dom Bessa Valley, Enira 2009 PGI Thracian Lowlands

66% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 12% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bessa Valley. The vines are 6-10 years old, planted on clay/limestone soils, on a gentle south-facing slope at 5,000 vines/ha. Grapes hand-picked at optimum ripeness. Cold maceration of whole berries took place for 5 – 8 days at 16 °C. Fermented in concrete vats at 28 – 30 °C for 8-10 days with regular pumpovers and pigeage. Natural malo in tank and aged in oak barrels for 12 months (10% 1-year-old, 24% 2-year-old, 66% 3-year-old). Winemaker Stephan von Neipperg. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 5.6 g/l, RS 3.2 g/l.
Very healthy, glossy crimson. Some very smart oak, lightly applied. Firm, fresh fruit. Lots of everything: fruit, acidity and tannin. Definitely able to develop more. A fair price. QGV 14.5%
Drink
2012
2017
£11.99 Waitrose
16

GEORGIA

WHITE

Tbilvino, Qvevris Rkatsiteli 2011 Kakheti

The Tbilvino vineyards are planted at an altitude of 300-750m and the average vine age is 25 years. This region experiences warm and moderately humid summers, and cold winters. There is an average of 2000 hours of sunshine per annum, and annual precipitation is around 700-1100mm. The grapes ripened from mid September until the beginning of October, when harvest began. Fermentation took place with stems, skins and pips, partially in stainless steel tanks and partially in traditional Georgian clay vessels or, 'Qvevri' that were buried in the ground. 10% of the wine was aged for two months in French oak barrels with medium toast, and prior to bottling the wine was stabilised for two months at 4-5 °C and filtered at 0.45 microns. 
Deep coppery gold already. Mildly nutty nose but much less extreme than most qvevri wines. In fact I'm not sure they shouldn’t have gone the whole hog. And maybe it should not have been priced below the conventional Georgian white? Lots of grip on the palate and a certain whiff of furniture polish. Impossible (for me) to discern the variety. A curiosity rather than a pleasure. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£8.99 Marks and Spencer
15.5

Ch Mukhrani Rkatsiteli 2012 Kartli

The Château Mukhrani vineyards were planted in 2002 at a density of 3,100 vines per hectare, and are pruned on the double Guyot system with upright cane growth. They are worked manually from pruning to the harvest. Following harvest the grapes were de-stemmed and the must was then immediately chilled to 5-6°C. De-juicing was followed by temperature controlled juice settling, where oxidation was thoroughly avoided. The clarified juice was than fermented at 13-14°C with selected yeast species, and the wine was left to mature on lees before bottling. 
Reductive smoky nose with real tension. Great presence on the palate. Really mouthfilling but not at all sweet. Made in the modern not ancient way. Medium persistence. This would surely intrigue anyone. Fair price. 13%
Drink
2013
2015
£9.49 Marks and Spencer
16

RED

Ch Mukhrani Saperavi 2012 Kartli

The Château Mukhrani vineyards are planted adjacent to the winery and it takes under 12 minutes to transport the grapes from vine to crusher following harvest. Due to the long maturation period in general in the Mukhrani vineyards, each variety is picked at a different time and receives carefully pre-planned treatment in the winery. Once destemmed a portion of the grapes underwent a brief pre-fermentation cold soak. Fermentation took place with selected yeast strains at 22-24°C, during which pumping over, delestage, cap punching and partial oxygenation were practised. Pressing took place on either membrane or in basket presses, and 30 to 40% of the pressings were reintroduced to the free run juice. Malolactic fermentation only began seven to eight months after fermentation was completed, and the wine was then filtered and bottled.
Dark blackish purple. The fruit smells a little stewed. But on the palate it's very satisfying – much less tart and aggressive than many Saperavis and – just – testament enough of the undoubted qualities of this noble variety. Dry finish. Correct.
13.5%
Drink
2014
2017
£9.49 Marks and Spencer
16

Ch Mukhrani Saperavi 2012 Kartli

Tank sample. Inviting fruit quality and freshness. Slight greenness on the nose but not on the palate. On the nose, very strong hay aroma. Fresh and slightly sour fruit, wonderfully fresh, tannic not aggressive. Moreish. (JH)
Drink
2014
2016
16.5

Maisuradze Saperavi 2005 Kakheti

From Akhasheni village. Nose is overwhelmed by sweet oak spice. Though maybe some of the vanilla is from the Saperavi. Underneath the oak is intense wild berry dark fruit. Still has really nice fruit and seems very young. I would like less oak for the variety to shine even brighter but it is more expressive of Sapervi on the palate. But it is overoaked for my taste, and aggressive on the finish, otherwise I might have scored it higher. (JH) 13.5%
Drink
2010
2015
15.5

Tbilvino, Qvevris Saperavi 2012 Kakheti

Very deeply coloured. Dark fruit but also a touch meaty with a slight herbal note. Great freshness and chewy fine tannins. Savoury and a bit wild. (JH) 12%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Pheasant's Tears, Unfiltered Saperavi 2007 Kakheti

Fermented in qvevri. Deep smudgy garnet. Lots of savoury black olive aromas as well as very ripe cherry with some inviting tertiary notes of scented wood and positive decay and autumn leaves. Complex and delicious on the palate, perfumed in a savoury cedary way – a slight thickness to the tannins though they are fully resolved. Bags of character and texture and pleasure if not refined. Rustic integrity. Complex development but still room to develop further. (JH) 12.5%
Drink
2010
2016
16.5

Teliani Valley 2004 Khvanchkara

Semi-sweet red (RS 40 g/l) made from Mujuretuli and Alexandreuli. While I am not particularly keen on red wines that are supposed to be dry but have a dollop of residual sugar, I am a sucker for these semi-sweet reds. Pale to mid ruby, still has that inviting sweet cherry aroma. The tannins, still quite evident though they are resolved and integrated, counterbalance the sweetness, as does the fresh acidity. It has gained a slightly nutty complexity (walnuts) with age but still has a surprising amount of primary red fruit. (JH) 11%
Drink
2008
2016
16.5

Orovela Saperavi 2007 Georgia

Unnecessarily heavy bottle. Winemaker Lado Uzunashvili (also of Ch Mukhrani and more recently GWS). Deep cherry colour. Looks much younger than 2007 judging by the colour alone. Lovely dry texture from paper-fine but present tannins. Spicy dark cherry fruit, chewy and fresh and long. Very satisfying whole. It's polished and definitely modern and has perhaps subdued the Saperavi character a little. (JH) 13%
Drink
2011
2017
16.5

Tbilvino 2007 Mukuzani

Attractive and unusual old-fashioned sort of flask-shaped bottle with a slim neck. Oaked. Deep garnet. Rich spice and both red and black small-berried fruit, more hedgerow than cultivated. Chewy but smooth texture, bright acidity, just a hint of savoury bitterness on the finish. Like the Teliani Valley 2006, there is a bloody (iron) aroma. Long finish and full of flavour without overly sweet fruit or excessive oak. Well made and still youthful. Refined finish. (JH) 13%
Drink
2010
2015
16.5

Teliani Valley Saperavi 2006 Kakheti

Fruit from Tsinandali subregion. Aged in oak, unfiltered. Mid garnet with a pinkish rim. Quite a bit of undergrowth and some furniture polish, very little primary fruit aroma remaining. A little bit bloody. Refreshing acidity, tannins softened, but it has lost most of its fruit appeal. More complex but also less pleasure. I would say it is lasting rather than improving now. (JH) 12.5%
Drink
2009
2013
15.5

GREECE

WHITE

Hatzidakis, Nykteri 2011 Santorini

Assyrtiko. Big and a bit heavy. I think I prefer the standard bottling! But there is substance here. Apparently this authentic style ages beautifully. Demetri Walters MW who bought it is now drinking the 1998 and 1999. It's clean on the end. 15%
Drink
2013
2023
£22.50 Berry Bros & Rudd
16

Lyrarakis, Armi Thrapsathiri 2012 PGI Crete

Some skin contact. Exciting! Very light honey and grip. Lots of green grip. Produced in tiny quanitities. Real substance and interest. Neat finish. GV 13.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
17

Lyrarakis Dafni 2012 Regional Wine of Heraklion

Dafni means bayleaf. Low-key nose and low acid. Some herbal notes and it's certainly off the beaten track but I suspect I'd have to be on the island before craving this wine. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
£11.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
15

Thymiopoulos Malagousia 2012 Náoussa

The 100 square metres of Thymiopoulos vineyards are situated in the Valley of the Muses, which lies 60km east of the ancient site of Delphi. The vines here have an average age of 45 years, and produce between 800-900kg of grapes annually. This area benefits from the cooling winds that blow down from Mount Helicon. All the grapes for this wine were handpicked and sorted. Controlled temperature fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with cooling jackets, and the wine was maintained on lees for two months with constant bâtonnage. The wine was filtered at 0.40 microns, and stabilised for five days at a temperature of -4°C.
Clean and fragrant with an attractive undertow of molten honey and lively vegetation. Very good balance and interest. Old vines triumph yet again! 12%
Drink
2013
2014
£8.99 Marks and Spencer
16

ROSÉ

Moraitis, Barbarossa Rosé 2012 Paros

The vines here are pruned in a unique way known as “apolitaria”, which encourages the vines to grow close to the ground in order to protect them from the strong island winds. The strong wind known as the Meltemi blows throughout the majority of July and August, cooling the high summer temperatures and resulting in cooler nights. Harvest begins in the second or third week of August. The grapes were handpicked and sorted, and skin extraction lasted for three to four hours before pressing. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature of below 15°C. Following this the wine was stabilised for 15 days at -3°C, and filtered at 0.7-1.0 microns. This wine was not oaked.
Waitrose were also showing a Greek rosé! Very deep raspberry juice colour. Crushed bilberries. Dry finish. Lots of grip and character but quite enough fruit for the structure. A real mouthful of wine – bring on the mezze! 13%
Drink
2013
2014
£8.49 Marks and Spencer
16

RED

Sigalas Mavrotragano 2010 PGI Cyclades

Dark crimson. Thick and rich – very ripe indeed. Almost porty. Lots of potential and personality here but better if it had been picked just slightly earlier.

14.5%
Drink
2014
2020
£26.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
15.5

Zambartas Maratheftiko 2010 Cyprus

Dark crimson. Great tang on the nose. Pretty chewy. Dry finish. Austere at the moment. Usually a field blend. Angela Muir MW consults here. 13%
Drink
2016
2022
£16.95 Berry Bros & Rudd
15.5

Lyrarakis, Okto 2010 PGI Crete

Kotsifali and Mandilari with about 10% Syrah.
Light cherry red. The only Berry’s Greek with any international grape in it. A bit ordinary and chewy. 13%
Drink
2012
2015
£10.30 Berry Bros & Rudd
15

Thymiopoulos Xinomavro 2011 Náoussa

The Thymiopoulos vineyards nestle between the trees of the Naoussa region and are planted at varying altitudes between 180-450m. Apostolos Thymiopoulos cultivates his red grape varieties bio-dynamically and uses a flock of guinea fowl to control insects infestations. The vines here vary in age from seven to 45 years old, and grow on shale limestone soils with red marble and a bed rock of volcanic matter. Winters in this region can be very cold, and hot summer temperatures are tempered by the cooling winds that blow down from Mount Vermio. The grapes for this wine were handpicked and sorted from the end of September into October. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts, and on the completion of malolactic fermentation the wine was matured in French oak barrels for one year. The wine was cold stabilised for five days at -4°C and filtered at 1.5 microns before bottling.
Pale ruby. The oak is a little obvious but there is nice sun-baked fruit too. Really Mediterranean and dry rather than standard issue French model. Fun! Just the right side of rustic. Well done M&S for not putting it into a tuxedo. 14%
Drink
2014
2017
£10.49 Marks and Spencer
16
HUNGARY
WHITE

St Andrea, Örökké 2011 Eger

Attractive, rich cooked apple fruits and woodspice. Lovely clarity of flavour. Carefully made and well balanced – holds its alcohol. (RH) 14.5%
Drink
2013
2015
15.5

St Andrea, Boldogságos 2011 Eger

Dry, medium bodied, stone fruit. Nice savoury finish with a pithy sort of phenolic grip on the palate. Appetising and easygoing. (RH) 13.5%
Drink
2012
2014
15.5

St Andrea, Napbor 2012 Eger

Neutral nose with a slight aromatic signature à la Muscat. Dry, light, pretty normal. (RH) 13%
Drink
2013
2014
15

Frittmann, Generosa 2011 Kunság

Has the sort of ripe melon and yellow fruit with a creamy vanilla edge that is very Chardonnay-esque. Good, balanced, drinkable, but not very distinct. (RH) 13%
Drink
2012
2013
15

Szeremley Kéknyelü 2009 Eger

Fresh apple and lemon, with a stony character that evokes Chablis. Good, proper mineral complexity and fresh fruit. (RH) 14%
Drink
2012
2016
16.5

Frittmann, Fahordos Ezerjó 2011 Eger

Very much a Viognier lookalike, with a creamy, soft palate. Fragrant, floral, lightly honeyed. Very tasty. Great flavour ripeness at such a low alcohol. (RH) 11.5%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Bodvin, Aldomas Furmint 2011 Tokaj

Interesting green citrus and tropical fruit combination. Very distinctive, pleasingly unusual, if not hugely interesting. (RH) 13%
Drink
2013
2014
15

Bodvin, Szamorodni 2002 Tokaj

Utterly screwball flor / oxidative character. Old blue cheese on the palate. Too weird for its own good. (RH) 15%
Drink
2004
2008
13

Ch Megyer Furmint 2012 Tokaj

Nutty and broad on the palate – tangible peanut character. Floury texture – lees stirring? Smooth, lightly bitter finish. (RH) 14%
Drink
2013
2015
15.5

Ch Megyer Furmint 2009 Tokaj

Off-dry, fruity and very pleasant yellow fruit character – melon, apricot. Good. (RH) 12%
Drink
2011
2013
15

Bodvin, King's Hill Furmint 2011 Tokaj

Overripe apple, some oxidative, bruised character too. Rabbit hutch – damp straw. Charismatic, but flirting with faultiness. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
14.5

Boronal Furmint NV Tokaj

Plenty of aromatic concentration for such low alcohol. Pretty low acidity. Not what you might typically expect from the variety, but drinkable enough in a basic way. (RH) 12%
Drink
2013
2014
15

Ch Megyer Hárslevelű 2011 Tokaj

Oxidative, honeyed nose. Has that phenolic grip and dried fruit peel character of sweet Tokaji, but is too alcoholic and extracted, without enough fruit concentration, leaving it clumsy and awkward. (RH) 14.5%
Drink
2013
2015
14.5

Frittmann Cserszegi Füszeres 2009 Kunság

Very opulent Muscat nose of grape juice, flowers and sweet spice. Finishes dry, and with a long, fragrant finish. Very on-trend: if only this had a more Anglo-friendly name, this could sell by the truckload. (RH) 13%
Drink
2012
2016
15.5

RED

Schiefer, Pala Kékfrankos 2009 Hungary

This is a real oddity. It is sold as an EU Tafelwein carrying the address of the Austrian winemaker because the grapes were grown across the border in Hungary. I see that in my previous tasting note I obediently listed it as an EU Tafelwein....
Dark ruby. A hint of the large old oak barrels in which it was matured and then the trademark freshness of Blaufränkisch (called Kékfrankos in Hungary). Damson fruit. Very clean and no ersatz sweetness.  12.5%
Drink
2010
2015
16.5

Hilltop Malbec 2012 Neszmély

12-year-old Malbec vines have at last delivered apparently. Sweaty. Sweet. Not enough refreshment. Watery end. 13%
Drink
2013
£5.95 The Wine Society
14

Heimann, Barbár 2009 Szekszárd

Closed nose. Fragrant, oak-dominated palate. Very commercial, very international. Savoury finish with grainy tannins. Certainly ripe and polished, making it too international to be typically Hungarian. Warm finish too. (RH) 14.5%
Drink
2013
2019
16

St Andrea, Áldás Egri Bikavér 2011 Eger

Rich, plummy fruit. Soft tannins with a full body. Plump. Savoury finish keeps it Old World, but the fruit is very modern and sleek. (RH)

14.5%
Drink
2014
2018
16

St Andrea, Akutyafáját 2010 Eger

Open, countryside sort of aromas – in a nice way – like meadows and farmyards, but nothing too animal. Crisp but well-controlled acid. Light body, crunchy red fruit. Appetising. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
16

Korona, Bornemissza Kékfrankos 2008 Eger

Very, very prominent sweet vanilla (Hungarian?) oak. Mulling spices. Creamy. Far too heavily oak influenced for most palates – more like Bourbon than wine in some ways. (RH) 14%
Drink
2012
2014
14.5

Korona, Egri Bikavér 2010 Eger

Strong medicinal character. Wood varnish too. Probably too stylised to appeal broadly. Hard tannic finish. (RH)

13%
Drink
2013
2016
15

Szeremley Kékfrankos 2006 Badacsony

Ageing very well – lovely earthy scent. Fruit is drying out rapidly though. Soft tannins, lovely mouthfeel. Shows how respectable the variety can be, but is at the end of its useful life. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2009
2013
16 -

Frittmann, FPV Kékfrankos 2009 Kunság

Oaked. Riper black fruit than their junior version. Firm tannins. A very serious attempt, but suffers from being a bit overworked. (RH) 13%
Drink
2014
2016
15

Frittmann Kékfrankos 2011 Kunság

Pleasantly leafy nose, and ripe raspberry fruit. Cinnamon stick character. Just a tad underripe, with strong acidic profile, but drinkable enough. (RH) 12%
Drink
2012
2014
15

Korona, Historia Blauburgunder 2008 Eger

Nice earthy development on the nose – appealing and savoury. Pretty light fruit and short finish, but at least the flavour is characterful while it lasts. (RH) 13%
Drink
2010
2014
15.5

Boronal Kadarka NV Kunság

High acid, neutral fruit. Very sharp palate, with an un-fresh oxidative edge. (RH) 11.5%
Drink
2013
14

MACEDONIA


WHITE

Tikveš Smederevka/Rkaciteli 2012 Tikveš

Smederevka is the main indigenous grape variety in Macedonia, and although Rkaciteli originated in Georgia it is very well adapted to the sandy clay soils in Tikves. Due to the very hot summer temperatures in this region all the vineyards are drip irrigated and the foliage is left unthinned. Harvesting is done by hand and oxygenation is strictly avoided throughout vinification. The grapes were gently pressed in pneumatic presses and then racked, with both processes taking place under nitrogen. Fermentation with selected yeast strains took place in stainless steel tanks at 12-14ºC and the wine was left to mature on lees for four to five months before bottling.
Slightly industrial nose. Certainly not underpriced. Pears. 12%
Drink
2013
£6.99 Marks and Spencer
14.5

RED

Tikveš Vranac 2012 Republic of Macedonia

The vines here grow on a mixture of alluvial and clay soils. Debudding is practised on the vines and the average yield is around 8hl/ha. The grapes for this wine were hand harvested, and underwent a two to three cold maceration before fermentation, which took place in stainless steel tanks at 25-28ºC. During the first phase of fermentation one or two délestages were performed. Thereafter the cap was punched down regularly. 
Very, very deep blackish crimson. Mouthfilling with a little bit of sweetness and lots of grip. You'd need food with this. Falls away a little on the finish. Not quite as fiery and characterful as I remember the Vranac of old as being. 14%
Drink
2013
2015
£8.99 Marks and Spencer
15.5


ROMANIA...