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Decanter April 20

The April 2020 Decanter is out.

You know us. We do the whole Decanter thing, and it's all part of the marketing to get excited about the top wines in each edition. 

But we've genuinely not been this excited before, despite such smash Decanter hits over the last year or so as the Cerro Añon Rioja, the Pierre Bertrand Champagne and the Talinay Pinot Noir.

The banner below largely shows why. Stick with us: we'll explain more fully in just a second.

The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine  (where we've been able to show them) appear on each product page.

The excitement stems from a) the magazine's main cover article and b) its lead panel review.

  • The lead panel review is of the Languedoc appellation of Corbieres, and (obviously) its reds. There are some wonderful wines here, full of life and flavour, well made and packing no little interest - at some amazing prices for the money involved.

In what is a very exciting Exel coup, we lay exclusive claim to all three of the Outstanding (95 pts +) wines, two at £12 and the other at £15. Don't miss these. Rather than clutter up this page, we've created a detailed page on the appellation, the review and those top wines (click the link or the banner below). Apols for all the detail, but we'd rather you made informed choices.

  • The lead article is an expert review of Global Bordeaux blends; to be clear, that's wines from everywhere except Bordeaux made with the classic Bordeaux red grape varieties (principally Merlot and the two Cabernets). Here, some glorious New World and Old World specimens emerge. Although this this is a pricey category in the main (to find quality) - £40+ - we're proud to be offering the 95 and 94-pointers that come in more inexpensively - the best two at £21 and ~£13. Again, these provide unmissable value. Don't miss them; quantities available are not extensive. Again, all the details of the review and top wines can be found in on a separate page here (also click banner below).

  • (There's also a panel review of 2006 Barolo, we might add. It's doubtless amazing stuff, but you're only likely to be an owner of those wines if you're already an owner of those wines. And you're probably feeling quite smug/contented if so; well done to you. Once again, the stockists listed in the article invariably no longer have/hold the '06 vintage, just the most recent ones of some considerable years later).

Honestly, that's quite enough to fill anyone's e-basket (I). However, beyond these, there are plenty of featured wines (and we're only including here those that do particularly well). NB: Whilst most are, a couple are not the featured vintage - do check the review on the product against the vintage we offer where this is crucial to you!

  • A subtle red Ladoix (Burgundy) from Domaine Chevalier (a previous Decanter high-scorer in other vintages) features in Stephen Spurrier's musings - and at 'just' £31 (rare for him)

In the South America supplement, look out for:

  • great Uruguayan reds (albeit at different price points) from Bodegas Brisas and Garzon (their flagship, the Balasto); and
  • Clos des Fous (95 points) for their ~£30 Aconcagua Pinot Noir and the Talinay - for it is (s)he - in a feature on extreme wine production in Chile.
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Agricola Tiberio Pecorino 2019 (1x75cl)

2017 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition regional profile of Abruzzo (see blue link below).

Agricola Tiberio Pecorino 2017 - April 2020 Decanter review

While working for a local winery, Riccardo Tiberio stumbled across a parcel of very old Trebbiano Abruzzese vines in the hillside village of Cugnoli. Though similar in name and vine appearance to the common Trebbiano Toscana, that is where the resemblance ends. This rare grape variety produces subtle, vibrant herb-scented white wines. This chance encounter changed Riccardo Tiberio’s fortunes and that of his family. In 2000, Riccardo purchased those same vines and another 21 hectares which he planted with the indigenous varieties Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Abruzzese and Pecorino. Riccardo’s passion for wine has been instilled in his children who have since taken over the running of the estate. Cristiana Tiberio is in charge of the winemaking and Antonio takes care of the vineyards. The estate has established a well-deserved reputation for its award-winning Pecorino wines, but their best wine is the Chablisesque Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Fonte Canale, made from the aforementioned 60-year-old Trebbiano Abruzzese vineyard. Today, Tiberio wines are among the best and most authentic wines in Abruzzo.

- Vineyard: cultivated using to the Guyot system at 300 metres above sea level. Organic farming.

- Vinification: cold maceration for 8-10 hours and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts in steel vats.

- Aging/elevage: 6 months in steel vats.

Pecorino 100%.

Intense aromas and flavours of sage, rosemary, green fig, peach, yellow melon. Full bodied and fresh with a lingering minerality, this is excellent now and will last at least another year.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.55

(Cave de Embres-et-) Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbieres, 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition panel tasting of Corbières (see blue link below).

 

Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbieres, 2018 - April 2020 Decanter review

Embres-et-Castelmaure is a tiny village in Corbières, with around 150 residents, all of whom are families of vignerons. Their co-operative Cave de Castelmaure - generally known now as Castelmaure - was founded in the 1920s and today consists of 65 members making wine from grapes hand-picked from 760 local plots (totalling 350 hectares). 90% of Castelmaure's production is red, with 80% of this classified  as AOC Corbières, made from the appellation's key grape varieties:Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre.

Surrounded by mountains and adjoining the vineyards of Fitou, this wild, windswept terrain has a variety of soils from schist, limestone, alluvial river wash to clay-chalk. The co-operative is modern, innovative and extremely well-run producing excellent and award-winning wines.

To wit, this wine, being

40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan.

For more/full details, see the blue link below for a detailed data sheet from/by the producers themselves

Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbières 2018 - fiche technique

An expressive and open nose, full of damson jam and cassis notes, and that unmistakable garrigue aroma of heather and wild thyme. Plenty of body and soft, ripe tannins. A great all-round wine for drinking on its own or with food. Ideal with beef daube, casseroles and other tender red meats.

ABV = 14.5%.

£12.20

Chateau Saint-Esteve, H de M, Corbieres, 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition panel tasting of Corbières (see blue link below).

 

Château Saint-Esteve, H de M, Corbieres, 2017 - April 2020 Decanter review

Situated in the south of France, near the Mediterranean coast, the estate is located in the heart of Corbières, on the terroir of Boutenac, with its clay-limestone soils and round pebbles, in a century-old pine forest. Château Saint-Estève revels in the beauty and the charm of a protected landscape. This is a special place: the estate echoes to singing cicadas in summer, sits among magnificent pine trees and visitors can admire the garrigue, blue sky, protruding rocks and magnificent nature.

Owner Eric Latham has been cultivating the Château's 120 ha of vineyards since 1984. The adventurous and daring spirit of the family, has been strongly influenced by the experiences of their ancestors and their bold lifestyle choices. For example, his great-grand-uncle, Hubert Latham, an aviation pioneer, was known for his attempts to cross the Channel and his rivalry with Louis Blériot. Eric's grand-father, Henry de Monfreid - after whom this wine is named - was a famous adventurer, photographer and writer, native to Corbières and best known for his exploits in the Red Sea.

Carignan and Syrah principally grow on the lands of Saint-Estève; Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre and Cinsault (also varieties of the Corbières appellation) to a lesser extent. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Caladoc are also present in addition for the production of IGP wines. The red varieties naturally dominate although Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat are also grown.

Although the Château itself sits within the Boutenac cru, this wine, the H de M, is drawn from vineyards that lie outwith that demarcation and classes as 'standard' Corbières .

Syrah 60%, Carignan 20%, Grenache 10%, Mourvedre 10%.

For more/full details of this wine, see the blue link below for a detailed data sheet from/by the Château themselves. <NB: an additional precision to information listed there, having checked with the producer is: 50% of the wine is aged in barrels which are 2 to 3 years old.>

Chateau Saint-Esteve, H de M, Corbieres - fiche technique

Garnet colour with ruby glints. Intense nose of ripe fruits (blueberry, blackcurrant), spices and vanilla. In the mouth, cocoa and praline notes. Tannins are silky and round. Carignan brings elegance and freshness to this distinguished wine.

ABV = 14.0%.

£14.95

Domaine Serres Mazard, Cuvee de Henri Serres, Corbieres 2017 (1x75cl)

** BACK IN STOCK **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition panel tasting of Corbières (see blue link below).

 

Domaine Serres Mazard, Cuvee De Henri Serres, Corbieres 2017 - April 2020 Decanter review

In Talairan, in the heart of Cathar country, the Mazard family craft rich, honest, AOP Corbières wines characterised by their aromas of wild orchids. Jean-Pierre Mazard is proud of the domaine’s family history which dates back as far as 1545. Today, his children, Marie-Pierre and Damien, produce a dozen different varietal wines and use their talents to create wines with an original, succulent character. 

In 1975, the domaine joined a local cooperative of growers with shared values and this group now collectively own 60ha of vineyards between them, with soils made up of rocky clays and limestone. The domaine has recently earned the Level 3 HEV (High Environmental Value) certification, underlining the family’s passion for sustainable viticulture alongside producing traditional styles of wine which represent the terroir

50% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre.

For more/full details of this wine, see the blue link below for a detailed data sheet from/by the producer themselves. <Additional to the information there, we would add, after verifying with the domaine, that 50% of the blend was aged in older/used oak barrels for 1 year, the remainder in concrete vats>.

Domaine Serres Mazard, Cuvee de Henri Serres, Corbieres 2017 - fiche technique

A beautiful shining ruby colour. This wine has an extraordinary nose which invites you to travel through thyme, rosemary, citrus and berries. The palate is powerful and suave, revealing ripe fruits, blackcurrant, elder and eucalyptus notes. 

ABV = 14.0%.

£12.20

Chateaux Ollieux Romanis Atal Sia Corbieres Boutenac 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition panel tasting of Corbières (see blue link below).

Chateaux Ollieux Romanis, Atal Sia, Corbieres-Boutenac 2016 - April 2020 Decanter review

Located in Boutenac, just south of the village of Corbières in the Languedoc region, Ollieux Romanis is now one of the largest privately owned wineries in Corbières, spanning some 130 hectares. First planted to vine in the 11th century AD, Ollieux Romanis actually came into existence as a farm producing grains, olives, and mutton in Roman times, some eight centuries earlier. It was the Durban-Latreille family who saw its potential and began planting it to vine. Soon, a priory was formed and the domaine flourished, as tending to the vine was part of the monks’ daily religious ritual, for production of the holy sacrament.

Through the Middle Ages Les Ollieux became part of the Abbey of Fontfroide and then subsequently changed hands many times. Today it is owned and maintained by the Bories family, who settled at Les Ollieux some 200 years ago.  Pierre Bories is assisted by winemaker Jean-Pierre Amiques.  There are some very interesting  and unusual terroirs featured at the domaine, including Mediterranean red clay, sandstone, and puddingstone. Along with the requisite Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne, the Bories also cultivate Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Merlot, and Mourvèdre, the ‘unapproved’ varietals going into their fun entry-level VdP label Capucines.

Les Ollieux is currently working its way to fully organic status having dispensed with herbicides and pesticides in the late 1990s. Instead, Pierre composts with marc, or the leftover solids (sins, seeds, pulps, pits) of his grapes and olives after pressing. 80% of the harvest is done manually (rare for such a large estate) – all grapes for Atal Sia (their high end cuvee) and Corbieres Classique red and white harvested manually.

Atal Sia translates to “let it be” in the local Languedocien dialect and is the perfect expression for this wine, which beautifully translates the authenticity of the terroir in Boutenac.

The grapes for the Atal Sia are grown on the pudding stone (over sandstone) terroir of Boutenac. This is a lush confection of Carignan 40%, Grenache 30%, Mourvèdre 20% and a dollop (5%) of Syrah for spice. No oak here, yet this is still a deep and intense wine with black fruits, orange peel, spice and liquorice and a smooth, silky, almost sweet palate.

The grapes for this wine are harvested manually before undergoing whole cluster maceration. Once the winemaking process is complete, the wine spends a year maturing in the bottle before being released for sale. 

This has had no oak influence, yet is still a deep and intense wine with characteristics of black fruits, orange peel, spice and liquorice, as well as a smooth, silky, almost sweet palate.

ABV = 13.5%.

£20.50

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Cab Sauv Merlot Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - April 2020 Decanter review

Please see some notes written for us by Esk Valley's winemaker, Gordon Russell, regarding this new 2016 vintage.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve CS-Merlot-Malbec 2016 - winemaker notes

Situated in the north of New Zealand's picturesque Hawkes Bay, at Bay View is the Esk Valley Estate winery. The winery sources fruit from Hawkes Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels, and Marlborough, as both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality.

Esk Valley is a boutique winery, but it is unique in that many of the techniques used to craft its award-winning wines are dictated by the winery itself. The old concrete vats, the layout of the buildings, and the absence of modern technology mean the winemakers at Esk Valley have had to make wine in a simple, honest, hands-on way.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Wines are made from grapes sourced from specific, lower-yielding, intensively-managed blocks of vines. Thety are widely recognised as being amongst the best wines of their kind in New Zealand. Along with The Terraces, this is Esk Valley’s most iconic and revered collection of wines.

This, the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Red is also the wine which pioneered the use of Malbec in Bordeaux-style blends in New Zealand.

It is only made in the best years/harvests and its blend varies from year to year in order to optimise use of the very best varieties in that year (which explains the changing % mix, names and labels across the vintages).

The fruit is hand picked, de-stemmed, then loaded into Esk Valley’s open-top concrete fermentation vats where it is hand-plunged and left in its skins, before being pressed off into barrels for malolactic fermentation.

Each vineyard parcel is fermented and aged separately before blending. 40% of the 2016 wine went in to new French oak barrels (the other 60% to older barrels) for 17 months, creating a wine that is full bodied and powerful, but elegant and food-friendly too.

"This is a wine that has been made to age well in the bottle, I can quite confidently predict that it will still be drinking beautifully in fifteen years." – Senior Winemaker, Gordon Russell

Cabernet Sauvignon 38%, Merlot 32%, Malbec 30%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Esk Valley.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve CS-Merlot-Malbec 2016 - fiche technique

This Winemakers Reserve blend is widely regarded as one of the finest of New Zealand's red wines. Since the initial 1990 vintage, this is the first Cabernet-based vintage reflecting the nature of the season and Esk's desire to produce the finest wine possible. Deeply coloured, showcasing black cherry, fruitcake, tobacco and subtle oak spice, this is a dry and complex and age-worthy wine.

ABV = 14.0%.

£22.00

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 (1x75cl)

** ALL NOW GONE, BUT PLEASE NOTE THAT THE EXCELLENT, CABERNET SAUVIGNON-RICH AND RECENTLY-RELEASED 2016 VINTAGE IS ALSO AVAILABLE (click link) AND RECOMMENDED!

SEE THAT PAGE FOR WHY THE ESK LEAD WINEMAKER THINKS IT MAY BE BETTER STILL!  **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below). 

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - April 2020 Decanter review

Situated in the north of New Zealand's picturesque Hawkes Bay, at Bay View is the Esk Valley Estate winery. The winery sources fruit from Hawkes Bay, including the world-renowned Gimblett Gravels, and Marlborough, as both regions consistently produce grapes of an extremely high quality.

Esk Valley is a boutique winery, but it is unique in that many of the techniques used to craft its award-winning wines are dictated by the winery itself. The old concrete vats, the layout of the buildings, and the absence of modern technology mean the winemakers at Esk Valley have had to make wine in a simple, honest, hands-on way.

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Wines are made from grapes sourced from specific, lower-yielding, intensively-managed blocks of vines. Thety are widely recognised as being amongst the best wines of their kind in New Zealand. Along with The Terraces, this is Esk Valley’s most iconic and revered collection of wines.

This, the Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Red is also the wine which pioneered the use of Malbec in Bordeaux-style blends in New Zealand.

It is only made in the best years/harvests and its blend varies from year to year in order to optimise use of the very best varieties in that year (which explains the changing % mix, names and labels across the vintages).

The fruit is hand picked, de-stemmed, then loaded into Esk Valley’s open-top concrete fermentation vats where it is hand-plunged and left in its skins, before being pressed off into barrels for malolactic fermentation.

Each vineyard parcel is fermented and aged separately before blending. 60-70% of the wine goes in to new French oak barrels, creating a wine that is full bodied and powerful, but elegant and food-friendly too.

"This is a wine that has been made to age well in the bottle, I can quite confidently predict that it will still be drinking beautifully in fifteen years." – Senior Winemaker, Gordon Russell

Merlot 54%, Malbec 31%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Esk Valley. NB: it's a small thing, but we know how eagle-eyed some of you are ... Esk V have used the wrong bottle image on this sheet, being that for a year in which Cabernet Sauvignon was the better/more prominent Cabernet!

Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2014 - fiche technique

This Winemakers Reserve blend is widely regarded as one of the finest of New Zealand’s red wines. The 2014 vintage is deeply coloured with aromatics hinting at black fruits including cherries and blackberries, with hints of cedar and smoke. The flavours, typical of Gimblett Gravels Merlot blends tend toward fruitcake, cherry, chocolate and oak spice. The palate is soft and mouthfilling showcasing the high percentage of Merlot and finishes dry and long. This is a fine vintage for this blend.

ABV = 14.0%.

£21.00

Pauletts Polish Hill River Cabernet Merlot 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

 Pauletts Polish Hill River Cabernet Merlot 2016 - April 2020 Decanter review

Click here for a ~3-minute video tasting of this wine with Exel Wines!

Clare Valley is one of Australia`s oldest wine regions and is probably best known for its Riesling wines. Polish Hill River is a sub-region one and a half hours drive north from Adelaide. Named after the Polish settlers of the mid 1800s, the climate is ideal for premium grape growing with a combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period.

Pauletts' reputation for producing wines of finesse, elegance and intensity is justly deserved with consistent skill and care from vintage to vintage. Neil Paulett graduated from the Roseworthy oenology course in the early 1970s and spent a further ten years honing his winemaking skills at Penfolds before buying his own property in the Clare Valley. Located some 90 minutes north of Adelaide, this lovely property now extends to 150 hectares with 47 planted with vines. Since the first vintage in 1983 there have been many accolades both at home and internationally. These wines are a true reflection of the region and are of outstanding quality.

For this, their (red) Bordeaux blend, here's Pauletts' own data sheet/fiche technique:

Paulett Polish Hill River Cabernet Merlot 2016 - fiche technique

This Cabernet-dominated Bordeaux blend shows the depth and intensity gained from a cool micro-climate. A fruit-driven wine which is rich and spicy with truffle and vanilla on the nose. The palate is beautifully balanced and packed with sweet cherry, plum, blackcurrant and liquorice. Subtle oak ageing adds to this superbly structured wine with supple tannins and a long, intense and satisfying finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Merlot 30%.

ABV = 14.9%.

£14.30

Journeys End The Pastors Blend Cabernet Merlot 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Journeys End The Pastors Blend Cabernet Merlot 2018 - April 2020 Decanter review

Among the long rolling south-facing slopes of the Stellenbosch winelands, caressed by cool coastal breezes, lies the boutique winery and vineyard, Journey’s End. With only a handful of premium, hand-crafted wines produced here, the focus is very much on quality. In 1995 the Gabb family (originally from Shropshire, UK) took control of this picturesque wine farm surrounded by 20 ha of gorgeous vineyards. They have invested heavily in both the vineyards and the winery since then – with the estate growing to 120 ha by July 2011. The family’s philosophy is one of minimum intervention. The aim of which is to create top-quality, single-vineyard and appellation wines that intricately integrate the tension between remaining true to the terroir, and finding their own unique expression of it.

The Gabb family invest in the community by helping the local church and working closely with the Pastors.

The grapes were handpicked early in the morning and stored in the cold room overnight. They were hand sorted and destemmed before being pumped into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The grapes underwent a 72-hour cold soak before the temperature was lifted to stimulate fermentation and the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc juice was separately inoculated. The fermentation lasted 12 days. A one week extended maceration ensured suitable extraction of tannins giving the wine structure. All cultivars were matured separately and then subjected to a 14 month barrelling period (second and third fill French oak barrels) before being blended, fined, stabilized and bottled.

This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 29% and Cabernet Franc 11%.

This old World style red blend displays rich dark red fruit aromas including blackcurrant and ripe cherries. These aromas are also experienced on the palate and are accompanied by sweet tobacco and Christmas cake characters. This wine has a well-integrated tannic structure showing elegance and lengthy finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.40

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2016 - April 2020 Decanter review

Founded in 1989, multi-award winning Mulderbosch Vineyards is one of South Africa’s foremost wine producers. As advocates to the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) code, they manage their vineyards limiting the use of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. They use a restrained approach in the cellar to produce distinctive and characterful wines that represent the Stellenbosch terroir. Chenin Blanc is the Cape’s signature variety and they have the largest planting of this variety in the world. In 1996, Mulderbosch was one of the very first producers in the Cape to ferment Chenin Blanc in barriques. The resultant wine garnered an avid following and Mulderbosch has since become synonymous with the variety. 

The Faithful Hound is a blend of five varieties; all are estate grown grapes except the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon which come from neighbouring vineyards carefully chosen for their consistency and quality. All vines are trellised, using Vertical Shoot Positioning and moveable foliage wires. The basic geological structure is decomposed granite, with soils comprising varying levels of gravelly clay. Leaf removal at an early stage of the grape's life generally ensure the pyrazine or ‘green’ flavours often encountered in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc are avoided. Moderate cropping levels of between eight to 12 tonnes provide the vines with a natural load that encourages slower accumulation of grape sugars and thus allows for riper flavours at lower Brix levels. Mechanical under vine weeding takes place as herbicides are no longer used at Mulderbosch.

2016 saw a hot and dry growing season, which reduced disease pressure in the vineyard and resulted in excellent concentration in the fruit.

The grapes were meticulously sorted prior to being destemmed. The fermentation process was initiated by naturally occurring yeast, and finished by a selected strain, added during the course of fermentation. Gentle extraction and long maceration time are the hallmarks of the winemaking style, followed by barrel maturation. The wine spent 16 months in French oak barriques, of which 30% were new and the remainder in 2nd- and 3rd-fill.

Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Merlot 19%, Malbec 17% and Petit Verdot 11%.

Beautifully textured, the fleshy ripe fruit is balanced by an smoky, savoury character showing pronounced cassis, dried figs, dates together with hints of clove and chocolate. Classically styled, pronounced cassis is followed by dried figs, dates, hints of clove and notes of forest floor on this complex bouquet. Underpinned by serious structure, the fleshy ripe fruit finds balance with an earthy, savoury character. A poised and elegant wine. Perfect with grilled steak and charred tomato salsa. 

ABV = 13.5%.

£17.50

Poggio al Tesoro Il Seggio Bolgheri 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert tasting of Global Bordeaux blends (see blue link below).

Poggio Al Tesoro Il Seggio Bolgheri 2016 - April 2020 Decanter review

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The 2014 vintage was awarded a Platinum Medal, 98 points and Best in Show status at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

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Fan of the Seggio? Do try this impressive, Chianti-located Bordeaux blend from Poggio al Sole!

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One of the most exciting estates to have emerged from Italy in recent years, Poggio al Tesoro is a 70-hectare property in Bolgheri acquired in 2002 by the Allegrini family. The first vineyard they bought, Le Sondraia, is next door to Ornellaia and was previously rented by them. It is 12 hectares in size and is planted with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.

‘Seggio’ is the name of the creek that runs through Bolgheri - its course from above is represented on the label. This wine is produced from different plots of vineyards in the Poggio al Tesoro estate. The Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in the Via Bolgherese vineyards, at 53 meters above sea level. Here soils are deep, with coarse-grained red sand, that is gravelly and well-drained with a layer of clay at 120 centimetre below the surface. The other varieties are grown on the Le Sondraia vineyard, at 35 meters above sea level. Its soils are clayey with well-drained sandy silt and high concentrations of magnesium and iron. The average age of the vines is 17 years and they are spur-pruned and cordon-trained.

2016 is/was another vintage to remember, defined by many as one of the earliest on record in Bolgheri. After a rather mild winter, albeit with heavy rainfall, the spring months enjoyed regular rainfall that fostered uniform bud development. The summer months were dry and breezy with some rain showers in early September and the pre-harvest period saw wide variations in day-night temperatures which encouraged phenolic and aromatic ripening while maintaining acidity levels. The resulting grapes were harvested in perfect health. Vintage 2016 promises intriguing wines with marked varietal personality, good structure and great ageing potential.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique / technical note from the winemakers at Poggio al Tesoro.

Poggio Al Tesoro Il Seggio Bolgheri 2016 - fiche technique

50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot.

The grapes were destemmed and softly pressed. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks at 28-30°C for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation was carried out naturally in barriques in November. The wine was then aged for 15 months in 225-litre French oak barriques from Allier (30% new, 70% second use).

This wine has an intense ruby red colour, and there are red berry and cassis aromas with mineral and spicy notes on the nose. The palate is medium bodiedand the tannins are elegant and silky. The wine has a lively finish.

ABV = 14.5%.

£24.30

Finca Flichman Dedicado Tupungato Vineyard Uco Valley Chardonnay 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert article, Top 20 Under £20: South American Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Finca Flichman, Dedicado Tupungato Vineyard, Uco Valley, Chardonnay 2017 - April 2020 Decanter review

The winery was founded in 1910 by Polish immigrant Don Sami Flichman.  He purchased property in Barrancas (southern Maipú) and planted vines in rocky, well-drained plots situated along the Mendoza river. It was Sami’s son Isaac who first began to make fine wine at the estate, including Caballero de la Cepa, one of the first high-quality wines that garnered international awareness for premium Argentinian wines. Sogrape Vinhos purchased Finca Flichman in 1998, and invested heavily in restoring the vineyards and equipping the winery with modern equipment. The original Barrancas vineyard remains among their 400 hectares of vines, which also includes the higher altitude Tupungato vineyard. Today the wines are made by Germán Berra, one of Argentina’s brightest talents, who was recognised as the ‘Best Young Winemaker’ in the Argentina Wine Awards in 2016. Germán works closely with consultant and renowned winemaker Alberto Antonini.

The Dedicado wines are made from the best hand-harvested fruit from the high-altitude Tupungato vineyards. Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza, and it sits at 1300 metres above sea level. The grapes benefit from large diurnal temperature variations which result in a longer growing season. Pedro Parra, the renowned Chilean soil mapping expert, consults on these vineyards.

All grapes were hand-harvested. After gentle crushing, the must was transferred to stainless-steel tanks for fermentation, which took approximately 25 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine spent 12 months on its lees in French oak barrels, then three months in bottle before release.

Chardonnay 100%.

The wine is pale yellow in colour with aromas of ripe lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle and hints of vanilla and toast. It is medium-bodied and has a long, elegant finish.h.

ABV = 13.0%.

£18.45

Terroir Series Finca Coletto Trapiche 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 South American supplement article, Argentina: My Top 25.

Terroir Series Finca Coletto,Trapiche 2015 - April 2020 Decanter review

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 of their fine wines were grown. With more than 130 years of experience, Trapiche has certainly earned its place as a pioneering brand 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 continues to seek out and use the latest and best practices available. 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. 

Hand harvesting is carried out and the grapes for this wine are transported back to the winery in 20 kg plastic cases. There is meticulous bunch selection before the grapes are destemmed. Only the best grapes are selected for inclusion. Fermentation takes place using only wild yeasts and maceration occurs in small concrete vats over 25 days, at 23-25ºC. Natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur.

The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels.

100% Malbec.

Aromas of black cherries and forest berries such as blackberries and blueberries. This wine is full bodied with juicy black fruits, soft tannins and an elegant finish. This is a Malbec with a deep and intense red-violet colour. The aromas are of red fruits, plums, black cherries and forest berries such as blackberries and blueberries. It is fresh and full as it enters the mouth, with sweet, juicy, ample tannins and a very elegant finish.

ABV = 14.5%.

£28.15

Finca Sophenia Estate Reserve Malbec 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 South American supplement article, Argentina: My Top 25.

Finca Sophenia Estate Reserve Malbec 2018 - April 2020 Decanter review

Located in the high altitude Tupungato Valley region of Mendoza, this modern winery benefits from a long, cool growing season and strong UV sunlight that helps maximise the aromas and complexity of the resulting grapes. Tupungato sits at the western extreme of Mendoza right at the foot of the Andes mountains with an elevation of 1,200 meters giving benefit to the vineyards from a much cooler climate, abundant sun, and sharp contrast between day and night temperatures. When all the above is combined it allows Julia Halupzcok, the winemaker and consultant Matias Michelini, the opportunity to produce wines with utmost expression. In August 2019 they achieved the sustainability certification in accordance with the Bodegas de Argentina Sustainabilityl, duly certified by Letis, a company dedicated to the certification and auditing of international standards in quality and sustainability.

The biggest and most important of Argentina`s wine regions, Mendoza includes a wide variety of altitudes and micro-climates to allow a huge range of wine styles. Many early winemakers were of Italian origin and brought with them their native Barbera, Bonarda and Sangiovese. However, it is Malbec, originally from Bordeaux and the south west of France, that has established the most successful presence in Mendoza.

Malbec 100%.

This Reserve Malbec has an intense deep red colour with violet hues. Complex aromas of plums and ripe cherries and violets. It is enhanced by the presence of dry fruits and mint hints. A wine of great concentration, showing sweet and voluminous tannins and wonderful complexity.

Grilled steak with a pepper sauce, spiced beef and Mexican dishes.

ABV = 14.5%.

£15.35

Bodegas Brisas Altos de Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Uruguayan Tannat (see blue link below).

Altos De Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2018 vintage (not yet here) was awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 South American supplement article, Sustainable Uruguay.

Bodegas Brisas Altos De Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2018 - April 2020 Decanter review

Altos de Jose Ignacio is nestled in Uruguay’s Maldonado region, an oasis of magical beaches and small villages on the Atlantic coast. Next to the idyllic fishing town of Jose Ignacio, the vines are tempered by cooling ocean breezes, creating the perfect combination of countryside and ocean. This unique terroir and maritime climate is ideal for making premium wines with a rare freshness and purity.

A small, family-run business, Altos de Jose Ignacio had its first commercial harvest in 2015. In typical Uruguayan fashion, the wines are created without the addition of any chemicals. The characteristics of the terroir display beautifully throughout their range, a source of endless pride for winemaker German Bruzzone.  

For this wine, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Altos de Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 - fiche technique

(as can be seen from the data sheet, this wine is 'incredibly similar to' the more expensive Garzon Reserva Tannat...)

This wine is 100% Tannat.

A juicy, full-bodied wine. Rich purple in colour with very fresh aromas reminiscent of red and black fruits such as plums and raspberries, with a delicate spicy nose. In the mouth, it presents a strong personality. Its mature tannins and minerality transform it into a wine with great soil identity.

ABV = 14.5%.

£15.55
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