** THE VILLA DES CROIX PICPOUL BELOW HAS ALAS NOW ALL GONE AND WE CANNOT OBTAIN MORE! **
The April Decanter (www.decanter.com) is out.
And we're pleased to say that we've done it again.
That is, we have the two Outstanding wines (95-points +) that top the month's two tasting panels.
You'll need to move very quickly - or wait a wee while - for one of them. Do press on below for the full details of what they are and how you get hold of them.
The wines featured this month - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine from this current Decanter appear on each product page (although they may still be being uploaded as you read!).
For all of that impressive 2017 Southern Rhone banner on the cover (few of which seem to be available just yet, unsurprisingly given their elevage times), the magazine's two big panel reviews attend to Picpoul de Pinet and Chilean Carmenere.
So far as we can see, it's the first ever Picpoul review, but a fairly rapid repeat of the October 2017 Carmenere review.
Neither are classic fine wine regions: let's face it: Burgundy or Barolo, these are not. But both categories, we know from experience, are hugely popular. We clattered through the poll-topping Carmeneres last time out as though they were going out of fashion (they weren't), and Picpoul moves out of here in very large boxes.
The great thing about both categories is that these are well-made, full-flavour wines at great prices - most of the Picpouls are around £10; the Carmeneres ~ £15. So, when it comes to the panel-beaters <am quite pleased with that...>, you're into that great sweet spot of Big Points for Small Prices.
We have the poll-toppers in both reviews, and we've created separate article pages for the two of them that tell you a little more about the review results, the wine category/grape, the producer and the wine:
We should warn that UK stocks of the Carmenere are very low and we only have 120 bottles of this one before we create a waiting list for the next shipment from Chile => move sharpish or be patient!
Alternatively, if you can't be doing with all that info (good as it is...), and you're all about getting these bought asap, then do click the relevant bottle below:
We've 4 other Highly Recommended Picpouls which you can see, read about and select among all the bottles at the bottom. The Caves de L'Ormarine Picpoul - in particular - has quite a lot more about it than your average PdP and the Belle Mare is consistently good.
We typically like to - and do - say we've got loads more beyond the tasting panel, but, this month, that would be a fib.
We do, however, have the exquisite, 97-point Shaw & Smith Lenswood Chardonnay 2016 if you're a £50-a-bottle Chardonnay fan/buyer. I tried this only yesterday and... wow.
At a more manageable price is the almost-as-excellent 94-point Xanadu (Estate) Chardonnay from Margaret River, WA at ~£17, albeit a vintage off (the rated vintage being not due here for some while).
And we've the highly-rated red oddity from Oregon that is the Bow & Arrow Rhinestones (Gamay/Pinot Noir), should such a leftfield, Burgundy-a-like contender appeal.
And we do have a bunch in the kaleidoscope selection of the Weekday Wines pages, including (but not limited to):
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their April 2019 panel tasting of Chilean Carmenère (see blue link below).
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 tasting/article of/on Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25 (see blue link below).
The Matetic family has a history of settling in new territory and making a success of agriculture. In 1892, the current members’ ancestors made the long journey by sea from the Croatian coast to Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile. They soon acquired large haciendas for sheep and dairy farming. It was only in 1999 that the fourth generation of Chilean Matetic made the move into winemaking.
After a detailed study of the terroir, Jorge Matetic Hartard and his relatives decided to plant vineyards in a previously overlooked side valley of the San Antonio appellation - Rosario. Just 15km from the Pacific Ocean, the rolling hills of Rosario Valley benefits from cooling sea breezes and huge swings in temperature - from as much as 27 deg C in the afternoon to 7 deg C at night. Well drained, quartz-sandy soil requires vines to dig their roots deep into the ground (up to four metres) to find water and nutrients, making for low yields and high-quality fruit.
With the additional purchase in 2005 of vineyards in Casablanca Valley, the Matetic vineyard has a phenomenal range of grape varieties planted - Matetic Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Malbec - but they made their mark early on with the first cold-climate Syrah in 2001.
The Corralillo label is a nod to an old winery on a corral which had once produced wines from the native País grape. These wines - Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and the Winemakers Blend (Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc) express this frontier-pushing terroir with great individuality and draw from plots in Maipo, near Santiago, and Colchagua further south, as well as San Antonio.
Biodynamic viticulture one of the key eco-friendly practices the Matetic Vineyard follows in its winemaking - it is certified organic and sustainable as well as biodynamic. Regarding the Rosario Valley as a single organism, the team works hard to maintain the health of the ground (using Rudolf Steiner’s preparations of quartz, manure, herbs etc in cow horns but only using indigenous materials), the crops and the varied animal life in the ecosystem. Grape pomace is added to compost from the restaurant to be reused in the Matetic vineyards, as is water which has been used to clean barrels. And in human terms, local people make up the majority of staff, and the winery sells woollen and other craft goods made by artisans nearby. It’s all part of a philosophy that aims to make winemaking a venture which will benefit the family and its neighbours for generations to come.
The 2016 Corralillo Carmenere is sourced from the sub-valley of Colchagua Valley, Apalta. The vineyards are located on slopes that receive great sun exposure. The soil's parent material is highly mixed - dominantly colluvial and of granitic origin - but very complex due to the presence of clays, lime and organic matter. These solils have have low fertility - perfect for viticulture - and excellent drainage.
The harvest began in early May. Each bunch underwent a strict fruit selection prior to seven days of cold soaking. For this specific grape variety, several winemaking techniques and extraction methods were applied, to enhance complexity and unique varietal expression.
This Corralillo Carmenere has been aged for 18 months in French oak barrels from various coopers, different forests and toast levels. A small percentage of Syrah, sourced from San Antonio, is added to increase complexity and freshness in the finished blend.
Deep dark violet color with red hues. Very intense on the nose, with a blend of black fruits, cocoa, spices and a piquant hint that characterize this grape variety. On the palate the wine shows great balance between weight and freshness, with a long, lingering finish developing to great volume and structure. An ideal companion for mature cheeses, red meat, charcuterie etc.
NB: previously called the Xanadu Estate Chardonnay, recently renamed by the producer!
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article: Decanter buyer's guide: Australian Chardonnay (see blue link below).
See the link below for the full set of awards the Xanadu Estate Chardonnay 2017 has (so far) received (it has only just reached the UK!).
Xanadu was established by Dr John Lagan, an Irishman, who arrived in Margaret River in 1968 and was inspired by the pioneering spirit of the region. At the time, the potential of Margaret River as one of the world’s finest wine-producing regions was only just being considered. So less than a decade on, Dr Lagan with his wife Eithne established one of the region’s earlier vineyards, planting his first vines in 1977. Lovers of literature will remember Xanadu as Samuel Coleridge’s mysterious, idyllic, exotic city; home of Kubla Khan. Dr Lagan, himself a great literature enthusiast, drew parallels between Coleridge’s visions of utopia and his newly adopted home, and thus the name Xanadu was born.
To see Xanadu's excellent information sheet for this wine, please click on the blue link below.