** 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):
Perez Cruz is a family owned boutique winery located in the Alto Maipo. Their estate covers 250 hectares of vines planted in one of the most sought after areas for growing premium Cabernet Sauvignon. This red wine specialist also produces small parcels of Syrah, Cot (Malbec), Carmenère and Petit Verdot. They also produce an elegant cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca. From the first vintage in 2002, Andres Perez Cruz has seen the estate's speciality red wine amass an impressive array of awards and gold medals. Their eco-friendly winery was built by award winning architect Jose Cruz Ovalle, to fulfil the technical objective of fine wine production. Its wooden roof and natural light allow thermal isolation and free air flow circulation, making it one of the most unique wineries in the world.
2017 was generally a warm year, with a dry summer and high daily temperatures providing excellent conditions for the ripening and maturation of the grapes. Between December and the end of February, the average daily temperatures were above 32°C, enabling the grapes to reach excellent phenolic maturity. The harvest produced average yields of high quality fruit, delivering good varietal typicity and flavour concentration, balanced by an attractive acidity.
The grapes are sourced from low yielding vines from the Liguai Estate. Located in the Maipo Valley’s “Maipo-Andes” subregion, the vineyard is situated in the mountain foothills between 440 and 520 metres elevation. The Double Guyot trained vines are drip irrigated and grown in alluvial soils with low fertility. The harvest takes place manually, once the grapes have reached optimum maturity levels.
The grapes were handpicked and then carefully selected before being crushed into stainless steel tanks where fermentation lasted between seven to 10 days, followed by post fermentation maceration which lasted for seven to 14 days. The wine was racked into French oak barrels where it underwent malolactic fermentation and was matured for 14 months.
This wine is made using Carmenère 91%, Cabernet Sauvignon 9%.
Vibrant notes of ripe black fruits, combine with earthy hints, nut, spice and fine herbal notes that are characteristic of Maipo Alto. Elegant and complex on the palate with supple tannins and a savoury finish. A highly versatile wine, great with spiced meats and curry dishes.
Awarded 84 points and Commended status by Decanter in their April 2019 Panel Tasting on Chilean Carmenère.
Château Los Boldos was founded in 1991 and is situated 100km south of Santiago in the foothills of the Cachapoal Andes. Working with a portion of old vines originally planted in 1948, the focus from the onset has been on the production of premium wines. The estate has been transformed since it was purchased by Sogrape in 2008. Renowned soil scientist and viticultural consultant Pedro Parra (of Clos des Fous) was brought in to assess the plots and match the right variety to the different soils around the estate. The type of rootstock, planting density, orientation and the frequency of irrigation were all within Pedro’s remit, and the results are now being seen in the wines, especially since Victor Arce, previously of Perez Cruz, joined as winemaker in 2015.
Los Boldos has 170 hectares of vineyards which benefit from a Mediterranean climate. The clear, bright skies during the summer and the diurnal temperature range are ideal for growing fruit that maintains fresh acidity while ripening to perfection. The nearby Cachapoal river also moderates temperatures, while stony alluvial soils in the vineyard ensure low yields. Los Boldos makes wine exclusively from their own vineyards, thereby controlling everything from grape to bottle.
The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks for eight days at temperatures between 25-28°C before undergoing malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged for six months in oak (60% French, 40% American) to soften tannins and add complexity.
With an intense, deep ruby colour, the wine has red and black cherry notes with black pepper and chocolate on the finish. Its rounded texture and fruitiness give it an appealing, plush mouthfeel.
Awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article: Decanter buyer's guide: Australian Chardonnay (see blue link below).
Shaw + Smith was established in 1989 by cousins Michael Hill Smith MW and Martin Shaw. They make wines exclusively from the Adelaide Hills, from varieties that suit the cooler climate: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Shaw + Smith own two vineyards, in Lenswood and Balhannah. Balhannah is also home to the winery.
Growing the best possible grapes, managing vineyards sustainably, and valuing vine health, soil health, and low yields are central to the Shaw + Smith approach. In the pursuit of quality, all grapes continue to be hand-picked, and the wines are fermented, aged and bottled on site at Balhannah. The wines are vibrant, medium bodied expressions of their varieties that reflect their sites and region. As the business has grown Michael and Martin have built a formidable team to continue the evolution of Shaw + Smith, including Master of Wine David LeMire, Senior Winemaker Adam Wadewitz, Business Manager Grant Lovelock and Group Viticulturist Murray Leake.
"Our winemaking style isn’t prescriptive: it’s informed by the season, the vineyard and the vineyard sections that we’re working with - it is thoughtful and considered because that’s the way that you get to understand things better and incrementally improve."
To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine, which has been prepared by the team at Shaw + Smith, please click on the blue link below.
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.
The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
The history of Trapiche begins in 1883, in a small vineyard called El Trapiche, in the district of Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, where the grapes for the first fine wines were grown. With more than 130 years of experience, Trapiche has earned its place as a pioneering winery in the introduction of French vines, the production of varietal wines, the import of French oak barrels and the use of stainless steel tanks. True to its origins, today Trapiche is in a continuous quest for the latest best practices. Led by Daniel Pi, Director of Winemaking, Trapiche's winemaking team permanently strives to improve winemaking practices by exchanging experience and knowledge with winemakers from other wine producing countries such as France, the US, Australia and New Zealand
The grapes are hand-harvested in the early hours of the morning, when the sea breeze still rests on the berries. The fruit is carefully selected from the vines that produce highly-concentrated grapes. The juice undergoes cold skin maceration for 24 hours followed by pneumatic pressing. Ageing takes place in French oak barrels for 7 months, achieving a more complex aromatic profile. The wine is clarified, stabilised, filtered and bottled.
An elegant wine, lemon in colour with slight greenish tones. It has notes of green apples, pear, citrus fruits and hints of nuts & broiche. Delicate on the palate with marked minerality and a long, delicious finish.
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Ancilla Lugana is located on the shores of Lake Garda in North East Italy. The estate comprises two vineyards: La Ghidina, located in Lugana di Sirmoine, the heart of the production area of some of the most elegant whites in Italy; and Cadellora, situated in Villafranca di Verona. Run by Luisella Benedetti, the third generation of women to run this estate, who inherited the farm from her mother, who inherited in turn from her mother, named Ancilla. Ancilla was an extraordinary, energetic woman, who worked the fields and got up at 3am every day make her wine producing dream come true. Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, Luisella gave up her career in finance and took over the family business in the early 2000s. The lifelong commitment of her grandmother and mother is a passion now shared by Luisella, which is clear to see in this exciting and pure collection of Lugana wines.
The grape variety Turbiana is also known as the Trebbiano di Lugana, but not to be confused with the Trebbiano found elsewhere in Italy. Research indicates that it is more likely to have a genetic similarity to Verdicchio and is one of the few native grapes capable of ageing. The 15 year old vines are grown in vineyards in the Ghidina zone of Lugana. Trained on a vertical trellising system, the vines yield seven tonnes per hectare. The unique terroir here is made up of lime, clay and limestone soils.
A proportion of the grapes were destemmed and pressed after some contact with the skins, while the remaining grapes were pressed as whole bunches. Fermentation took place slowly at low temperatures in stainless steel vats, in order to preserve the aromatics of the Turbiana variety. 10% of the must was fermented in oak barriques, with ageing on the lees for 15 months, adding complexity to the final blend. The wine was bottle aged for seven months prior to release.
A delicately floral bouquet with ripe yellow fruits leads to a rich and balanced palate of exotic fresh fruits. Well structured with a vibrant depth of flavour, this is an easy drinking style. A complex and creamy palate with spice, pineapple and green apple flavours and finishing on a long, tingling note.
A great aperitivo which also accompanies antipasti, fresh seafood dishes and pasta with seafood sauces.
The 2017 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
This producer has not only the highest winery in Europe situated at 1,140 metres, but also the highest vineyards at over 1,400 metres above sea level. Located at Kyperounda, in the Pitsilia area of the Troodos mountain range, the Kyperounda Winery sits in an idyllic setting, with correspondingly spectacular views. The winery was designed to the specifications of experienced winemakers and uses gravity to produce wine in the gentlest possible way. They have been producing wine since 2003 and already made quite a splash on the international stage.
The Xynisteri variety is as delicious as it is difficult to pronounce (Sin-ees-ter-ee). The indigenous grapes are grown on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, in some of the highest vineyards in Europe at altitudes of 1,400 metres above sea level. The plots sit on rocky terraces, where the soils are made up of sandy clay. Due to the altitude of the vineyards, Kyperounda invariably harvests approximately one month later than vineyards at half their elevation and the long hang time results in concentrated fruit.
The gravity fed winery is built on three levels and is designed for the gentlest possible handling of the grapes and wine. The vinification took place in stainless steel tanks to maximise the purity of the fruit. 20% of the wine was then matured in one year old barriques for two months, adding subtle oak complexity to the final blend.
This wine is made using Xynesteri 100%.
Delicious aromas of citrus fruits, candied lime, lychee and a touch of spice and vanilla. A medium bodied yet refreshing wine with a long, persistent finish. A great partner to linguine with lemon and black pepper, salt and pepper squid or delicately spiced Asian cuisine.