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):
** JUST ARRIVED AND NOW IN STOCK!! **
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.
The 2017 vintage was Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their April 2019 Panel Tasting on the Picpoul de Pinet (see blue link below).
The grapes used for this wine come from one south-facing vineyard 10-30 metres above sea level in the Languedoc Roussillon region of Southern France. The 30 year old vines are planted on a chalky clay plateaux, rich in Cretaceous limestone and loaded with quartz gravel chippings. Grapes are harvested in September at night to retain freshness and acidity.
Grapes are carefully sorted in both the vineyard and winery, with analysis of ripeness being carried out before picking. At the winery, they are destemmed and crushed, with skin contact for 3-4 hours to draw out the aromatics. After pressing, fermentation lasts 10-15 days at 16°C in cement tanks. The wine remains on its lees for 1 month with twice weekly battonage. Malolactic fermentation is prevented so that the wine can retain its crisp acidity and fresh primary fruit characters. The wine is fined, filtered and bottled and released whilst young and fresh.
The Les Prades Picpoul de Pinet has a clear, brilliant yellow colour with green tints. It has fine fresh, fruity and floral aromas. The aromatic persistance is good with overtones of citrus fruit. The flavours are lively, fresh with lemon and floral touches followed by a light refreshing grapefruit finish. Serve with fresh seafood, grilled fish, salads, or drink on its own as an aperitif.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their April 2019 Panel Tasting on the Picpoul de Pinet (see blue link below).
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their April 2019 Panel Tasting on the Picpoul de Pinet (see blue link below).
Along the Mediterranean, at the bottom of the Gulf of Lion, the Picpoul de Pinet terroir extends around the Thau Basin, in the middle of the Agde-Pézenas-Sète triangle over 1300 hectares. This is the largest white wine region in Languedoc. Their plot is located in the south of the appellation, bordering Lake Thau, on rather poor soil covered with lime concretions.
The climate here is tempered by marine mists and breezes. This marine influence is extremely important as it plays the role of a heat accumulator that limits daily temperature swings, namely the temperature rising during the day and falling at night. Picpoul is an old Languedoc grape variety that has been found on the banks of Lake Thau for many hundreds of years; this late-ripening grape variety, planted in a dry climate, takes advantage of the humidity of the late season to complete its maturation.
Picpoul matures very slowly. It is usually picked in late September/early October, after the red varieties. This wine has a brilliant, pale yellow colour with green hues. The aromas are very fresh on the nose, with delicate white flowers (aubepine). The palate is lively and fresh with zesty lemon flavours. It then finishes on a mineral and salty note. An ideal partner to shellfish, grilled fish and sushi.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article: Pacific Northwest Reds. (see blue link below).
Husband and wife team Scott and Dana Frank have experience all sides of the wine industry. From working in restaurants, to retail, to wholesale, they’ve gained plenty of knowledge and experience over the years. They recently embarked on a new project producing wines under their own label Bow & Arrow and are taking Oregon wines to new heights!
The Willamette Valley, formed long ago by repeated glacial flooding, is abundant with fertile and rocky vineyard sites. It is also situated along the 45th parallel, which coincidentally runs through Burgundy and the Loire Valley. And despite Oregon’s constant comparisons to Burgundy, it’s the Loire Valley that inspires Scott and Dana’s wines. They only started bottling in 2010 but have quickly earned a reputation for bringing a bit of the Loire to the Pacific Northwest. They source fruit from vineyards planted by some of Oregon’s earliest ‘wine pioneers’ that were planted with grapes like old vine Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Melon de Bourgogne – all typical Loire Valley grapes. These carefully sourced grapes are treated with the greatest care and minimal-intervention winemaking techniques. Their resulting wines are a breath of fresh (French) air from Oregon, lighter in style, lower in alcohol, and extremely food-friendly.
Rhinestones is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Bow & Arrow Wines say the following of their Rhinestones wine: "To understand Rhinestones we have to talk about the Cheverny region of France’s Loire Valley where, by law, the red wines must be a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. We follow this structure with all the Pinot and Gamay fruit we source from Johan Vineyard. The blend is determined by nature and vintage. Aged in a mixture of concrete and old barriques, this wine is the flagship of the Bow & Arrow operation and communicates what we’re about as much as anything we make. Effortlessly drinkable but rewards detective work if you’re in the mood."
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Jane Eyre-Renard is originally from Melbourne. In 1998, she was working as a hairdresser when she asked a customer, who happened to be the wife of wine writer Jeremy Oliver, if she knew of any wineries where she could do work experience. The Olivers recommended Burgundy, which has since been an inextricable part of Jane’s life. She went on to gain experience working with Cullen in the Margaret River, Felton Road and Ata Rangi in New Zealand and Ernie Loosen in the Mosel. She finally moved to Burgundy in 2004, and started working at Domaine des Comtes Lafon. Since then, Jane has developed her own micro-négociant and rents a space in a small winery in Bligny-lès-Beaune which she shares with Dominique Lafon.
One of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais, the vineyards of Chénas can be found on the slopes of Mont Remont, sandwiched between the borders of Juliénas and Moulin-à-Vent. The vines are planted on sandy soils and are made up of weathered granite, making it highly compatible with the Gamay grape variety. On these low-fertility soils, the vines are forced to grow deep root systems into the ground in search of nutrients, and the rapid drainage afforded by the slopes lessens the water intake of the vines. As a result, small, concentrated berries with thick skins are produced, resulting in a more structured and age-worthy style of wine.
Unfortunately 2017 was another difficult vintage for producers in the Beaujolais. Spring frost struck again and violent hailstorms during July severely impacted volumes across the region. Drought during the summer months posed further risk, until welcome rain fell just before harvest, bringing freshness to the resulting wines.
The Gamay grapes were 100% destemmed upon arrival at the winery. Fermentation took place in stainless-steel tanks and the cap was pumped over twice. The wine remained on its skins for three weeks, resulting in a beautiful, rich colour and finely structured tannins. After pressing, the wine remained in stainless steel to retain its hallmark freshness. It was not fined but was lightly filtered before bottling.
This wine is 100% Gamay.
The nose boasts aromas of candied fruits, red cherries, lavender and bramble fruit. On the palate, it has a lovely structure, with rounded tannins and bright acidity. The flavours are concentrated and layered, leading to a long finish on the palate.