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Decanter August 2018


The August 2018 edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com) - released 29th June - features the usual bundle of excellent reviews, features and articles. For us, it's a thinner month in terms of volume - we've 'just' 15 wines from its pages this month (see foot of this page for all of their clickable product pages) - but we are delighted to offer three of the very few (five) Outstanding (95-point +) wines from the two panel reviews, including  the standout value (ie <£20) offering in each review.

  • Panel tasting #2 is of Greek reds. If ever there were a category of misunderstood and under-appreciated wines, we'd have to say say it was those of Greece (probably because of all manner of sentiments one sees towards that country, be it food, culture, economy, etc). Finally, the world is waking up to the wonderful white that is Assyrtiko, but Greece's reds are also setting wine audiences alight. Streetwise red afficionados, of course, knew this already.... Here, we offer three wines, all around the £20 mark. The Outstanding Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona 2015 (95 points) is, in Decanter's eyes, the pick of the field, and only half the price of the one other Outstanding. This is an unusual grape (Limniona) from an unusual region (Tyrnavos), but a superb wine in the idiom of Pinot Noir. We realise this is be where the interest will be, but we also offer two excellent (91-point) Xinomavros (= high acidity, long-ageing, 'Greece's Barolo') from Naous(s)a: the Foundi Estate Naoussa 2011 and the interesting/rare, no-added-sulphite alternative, the Oenops Xinomavro Naoussa 2016.

  • There's a regional profile on the enigmatic Jura region (Alpine France, not the Scottish island) ...
  • ... a feature on Provence's Chateau d'Esclans, home of super-popular rosé, Whispering Angel ...
  • ... while our old friend and perennial big-seller, the sumptuous, delicious Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc clocks its traditional , annual 95 points in the review of South African Old Vine Chenin...

And for our full, filterable/searchable compendium of Decanter-recommended wines from the last two years, click here.

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Domaine de Mourchon Loubie AOP Cotes du Rhone-Villages Seguret 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of non-Provencale French rosé (see blue link below)...

Domaine de Mourchon Loubie 2017 - August 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from one particular reviewer

Domaine de Mourchon Loubie 2017 - August 2018 Decanter review indiv comment

We also highly recommend the rest of the Domaine de Mourchon range, click here.

Set in a secluded valley between the picturesque village of Séguret and Mont Ventoux, Domaine de Mourchon was created by the McKinlay family in 1998. The vineyard had some twenty hectares of mature vines but no facility to make wine so, using modern technology and high standards, a winery was constructed and completed in 2000. They  are currently in the process of converting to organic farming and expect to be fully certified in 2020.

60% Grenache, 40% Syrah from vines of an average age of 20 years, from a mixure of soils (clay, limestone and grey sandstone), all on steep slopes. Yields of just 35 hl/ha are pursued (very low indeed for rosé), greatly increasing the flavour concentration here

The Loubié is made using the more finessed/delicate approach to rosé winemaking of direct pressing (pressurage direct), following a short  'cold soak'/post-crush maceration. By this means, a wine of greater aroma and flavour - with minimal inclusion of phenolics/tannins - is produced, essentially by handling red grapes in the manner of a white wine.

This is a dry rosé with a residual sugar (RS) level of below 3g/litre. 

This wine has aromas of strawberries, citrus fruit and spring flowers. The palate has good acidity, is refreshing, full of fruit and has a good length.

Enjoy as an aperitif, for a barbecue or as an accompaniment for Mediterranean style food such as Provencal salad or ratatouille. This wine also marries very well with spicy food.


Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of Greek reds (see blue link below).

Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from one particular reviewer

Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review indiv comment

This unique winery was established in Tyrnavos in 2012. The Zafeirakis family has been involved with viticulture in the area of Tyrnavos  for more than 100 years. Christos Zafeirakis, represents the fourth generation to continue his family's winemaking tradition and he continues to take the family business from strength to strength. He has he followed in his father’s footsteps by striving to produce high quality wines from grapes which are grown organically. Christos is best-known in Greece for his work resurrecting the Limniona grape variety which produces gently textured reds.

In 2015 the vineyards of Tyrnavos, which are at an altitude of between 200m and 300m, basked in a dry, hot summer with very little rainfall. The harvest took place on 20th September. 

Winemaking here uses many traditional methods including the use of only indigenous yeasts. Fermentation takes place in 3000 litre oak tanks from Austria. The wine is then matured and there are several stages to this part of the procedure. The wine is put into a mix of 600 litre and 1200 litre oak barrels for six months (50% of these barrels are new). The wine is then moved into 3000 litre barrels for a further 6 months. Once bottled, the wine is allowed to rest for 18 months before being released for sale.

This Limniona has aromas and flavours of red fruits (cherries, strawberries) and an intense influence of spices (liquorice and white pepper) as well as herbs. It also has balanced, gentle tannins.


Foundi Estate Naoussa 2011 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of Greek reds (see blue link below).

Foundi Estate Naoussa 2011 - August 2018 Decanter review

Nikolaos Foundi began this small winery as a hobby in 1992. At this time he was the president of the Naoussa co-operative, which he founded in 1982. Nikolaos' family first planted vines here in the 1930s, shortly after the family’s resettlement here from Eastern Thrace as a result of the Balkan Wars. They now have 5 hectares, and produce six different wines including two red Naoussa wines from Xinomavro. The style here is old-fashioned, in the best sense of the word, and the wines  are aged very slowly.

This red wine is produced exclusively from a single 1.5 acre vineyard situated in the Karaoutsa area of Nea Strantza in the heart of Naoussa wine-growing region. The vineyard lies at an altitude of 200 metres on sandy loam soil which is suitable for bringing out all the character of the Xinomavro variety.

The must undergoes intensive remontage to extract both colour and flavour from the grapes before fermentation begins. In total the wine then stays on its skins for around 4 weeks before racking into 225 litre barrels (30% are new French barrels from Demptos and Berthomieu). The wine is aged for one year in French oak and at least one more year in bottle, ensuring the full development of its rich bouquet.

This wine has a well-developed deep red colour. There is a rich bouquet of ripe red fruit, spices and wood. you will find that your mouth becomes full of tannins that develop nicely with a long aftertaste. The qualities of the wine are further developed while bottle-ageing.

It is best served at room temperature with roasted meats or meats with tomato-based sauces as well as mature cheeses.


Ktima Gerovassiliou Avaton 2013 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of Greek reds (see blue link below). The 2013 vintage is the currently-available release from the UK importer, and we offer this.

Ktima Gerovassiliou Avaton 2013 - August 2018 Decanter review

Ktima Gerovassiliou is the brainchild of Evangelos Gerovassiliou. He initiated the revival of the family vineyard by planting the nearly extinct Malagousia in 1981. This state of the art winery is now surrounded by 74 hectares of meticulously well cared vineyards on the slopes of Epanomi. Ktima Gerovassiliou guarantees consistent, high quality wines of international acclaim every year and his Malagousia remains the benchmark to this day.

At Ktima Gerovassiliou, the single, private 74 hectare vineyard is cultivated with great care and enthusiasm, which leads to constant research and experimentation with Greek and international varieties. New technological advances blend well with tradition throughout the vine growing and vinification processes to produce high quality wines that carry all the distinct characteristics of the terroir of Epanomi. The climate in the region of Epanomi is Mediterranean with mild winters and hot summers, tempered by sea breezes. The vineyard is surrounded on three sides by the sea, which is three kilometres away, while its west side faces the Thermaic Gulf, Mount Olympus and the beaches of Pieria. The vines are grown in soils which are mainly sandy with a few clayey substrates and calcareous rocks. It is rich in sea fossils, as the surrounding hilly area was formed by sea deposits.

The grapes were fermented in small oak casks, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for a period of 18 months.

A luscious blend of three Greek indigenous varietals, where ripe dark fruits combine with notes of raisin, coffee, cacao and a hint of spice. Perfumed and polished, this smooth, medium bodied wine has an abundance of mouthwatering, juicy plummy fruit leading to a dry finish and is totally unique. This is a versatile red which accompanies hearty stews, savoury dishes and full-flavoured game dishes with ease.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Oenops Xinomavro Naoussa 2016 - no added sulphites (1x75cl)


Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of Greek reds (see blue link below).

Oenops Xinomavro Naoussa 2016 - No Added Sulphites - August 2018 Decanter review

Nikos Karatzas is the face behind Oenops. He studied in Bordeaux then became chief winemaker at Pavlidis winery, before setting up his own project  in 2015.  He is a member of the new generation of Greek winemakers who are immensely proud of Greece's terroirs and indigenous varieties. 

He works from an old pie factory just outside Drama in Eastern Macedonia, which he has filled with concrete tanks, some stainless steel, some oak and some amphoras. Now his own boss, he adores and embraces having the freedom to experiment. His eyes shine with excitement about what he will be able to create in the future. His recent bottlings include this unsulphured Xinomavro from Naoussa,  fermented partly in steel, oak and amphora. 

The Xinomavro ‘no sulfites’ 2016 comes entirely from Amyndeo (north west of Naouossa) where the climate, influenced by lake Vergoritida is a little warmer than the rest of Naoussa. It was fermented and aged exclusively in small Spanish and Italian amphoras before bottling in June 2018.

The nose is impressive with rose, violet, cherries and crushed pepper in abundance. The mouth is still quite restrained and the tannins will soften with further ageing.

This wine is made without added sulphites.




Gerard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne La Villa Coteaux du Languedoc 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of non-Provencale French rosé (see blue link below).

Gerard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne La Villa Coteaux Du Languedoc 2016 - August 2018 Decanter review

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France. A biodynamic pioneer, he owns numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formerly the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and winner of Wine Enthusiast‘s European Winery of the Year, Gérard has been cited as the “King of the Languedoc” among critics. Acquired in November 2011, Château la Sauvageonne is located northwest of Montpellier. With a long winemaking history, this Château is a legendary site. The combination of its orientation, its situation on the Larzac terraces at 300 meters altitude and the exceptional volcanic terroir, produces stunning wines of unique character.

The estate is located to the north-west of Montpellier, situated on the terraces of Causse du Larzac at between 150 and 350 metres of altitude. The vineyard's orientation, combined with its exceptional terroir give it a unique character. The soil consists of stones derived from sandstone or schist for the first 30 centimetres and then a layer of clay. Specifically the soil is made up of “Ruffes” which is a thin, filtering soil rich in minerals , such as bauxite, iron, aluminium and uranium; and sandstone with shale, which is deeper and broken up, allowing the creation of a water reserve. The landscape is moulded by the region’s volcanic past. The area is influenced by wide temperature ranges, with warm, sunny days and cooler, fresh summer nights brought about by breezes from the sea and the proximity to the Causse plateaus. These diurnal temperature differences are beneficial and encourage a slow, progressive ripening of the berries.

The grapes were hand picked between sunrise and 10am, in order to retain the freshness in the berries. The Grenache and Mourvèdre came from plots of old vines on the hill sides, which produce small berries with low yields. The Vermentino and Viognier are cultivated on the schist hill sides. The Grenache was co-fermented with the Vermentino and the Viognier. Full bunches of grapes were immediately pressed and only the free run juice and the juice from the first press were used to produce this cuvée. After a cold setting, the fermentation began in vats, followed by a partial fermentation in oak.

The bouquet offers up notes of crushed strawberries, sweet spice and floral notes of violet and hawthorne. Powerful and generous, with a velvety texture and a revitalising freshness. This wine is built on tension and stamped with a brilliant salinity. Delicious served with delicate fish dishes, poultry in a cream sauce or a selection of fresh cheese.


Laurent Brotte Tavel Rose Les Eglantiers 2015 (1x 75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of non-Provencale French rosé (see blue link below). However, it is stubbornly unavailable in the UK market, and we offer the excellent 2015 vintage, a little age on Tavel being tyically a good thing!

Laurent Brotte Tavel Rose Les Eglantiers 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Laurent Brotte Tavel Rose Les Eglantiers 2015 - fiche technique


Domaine Joel Delaunay 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of non-Provencale French rosé (see blue link below).

Domaine Joel Delaunay 2017 - August 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Joël Delaunay is a family-owned estate, located in the Touraine AOC. Today, fifth generation owner Thierry Delaunay runs the domaine. Like his forward-thinking father, Joël Delaunay, who insisted on estate bottling in 1970, Thierry was the first Touraine producer to bottle under screwcap in 2004. Domaine Joël Delaunay has 34 hectares of vineyards, practicing sustainable viticulture. 90% of their production is white, with Sauvignon Blanc being the predominant grape variety, and 10% is red, mostly Gamay and Cabernet Franc.

Domaine Joël Delaunay is situated on the bank of the Cher Valley, 50 kilometres east of Tours near the famous Château de Chenonceau. The soil is clay and silex (a mixture of flint and sand) and the pruning method is simple Guyot. The vineyards are planted with grass between the vines to control yields.

After a hard frost in April, which had a significant impact across the Loire Valley, the end of spring and summer was relatively clement, allowing the grapes to reach optimum maturity. The harvest itself was early, starting from 1st September. Although the difficult conditions resulted in a small harvest, the small size of the grapes resulted in excellent concentration and very high quality fruit.

The grapes were pressed in a pneumatic press with careful selection of the resulting juices to control the colour. Alcoholic fermentation took place over 20 days at a temperature of 14°C. After fermentation, the wine was aged on its fine lees prior to cross flow filtration and bottling.

This wine is pale salmon-pink in colour. The nose opens with attractive scents of red berries and floral notes. The same fruit recurs on the palate, enhanced by a touch of pepper. The palate is lively and tense with a silky texture. A vibrant, enjoyable rosé.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Domaine Tabordet, Sancerre Rose 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition panel tasting of non-Provencale French rosé (see blue link below).

Domaine Tabordet Sancerre Rose 2016 - August 2018 Decanter review

Run by Pascal and Marie-Laure together with their son Marius, Domaine Tabordet is a 19 hectare estate, including five hectares in Sancerre and 14 in Pouilly-Fumé. The domain is very much a family business, run in a traditional spirit, but using the latest winemaking technology. The vineyards are managed with the utmost respect for the sustainability and biodiversity. The resulting wines are a true reflection of the diverse terroirs which make up their estate showing characteristic flinty flavours, with good weight and a full body.

The vineyard is situated in the heart of the Sancerre appellation on the left bank of the Loire River. The vines are trained according to the Guyot method. The vineyard is carefully cultivated throughout the year with debudding of the vines, tilling of the soil to reduce the need for weed killers and certain parcels are left with grass cover to limit the vigour of the vines. Deleafing takes place at the end of June. The soil in the vineyard is made up of Kimmeridgian marl, which is a chalky clay, flint and pebbly limestone, known locally as "caillottes". The soil imparts the distinctive mineral and flinty characteristics to the wine. The harvest takes place between mid-September and mid-October when the grapes have reached optimal maturity and the vines are machine harvested in order to retain the freshness and aromatics in the berries.

The grapes were carefully sorted and gently pressed in a pneumatic press. The must was lightly clarified, followed by a slow fermentation in thermostatically controlled stainless steel vats. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation and was bottled young to retain freshness.

With its attractive pale salmon colour, this cool climate rosé from this illustrious region of France is elegantly styled. Lifted red fruit aromas of wild berries follow through to a crisp, delicately fruity palate with a hint of minerality and an elegant long finish. Serve chilled as an elegant apéritif, also try with charcuterie, spicy Asian inspired cuisine and summer salads.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of Languedoc whites (see blue link below).

Boulevard Napoleon Grenache Gris 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review

Named after the street the winery is located on in the village of La Livinière, Minervois, Boulevard Napoléon is the partnership between restaurant owner Trevor Gulliver and winemaker Benjamin Darnault. Seeing the potential in the vineyards located by his holiday home, Trevor started making the wines and then showed them to his other partner, chef Fergus Henderson, who was more than impressed, as were we! Each wine is a classic expression of the varietal grown on the dry, stony slopes of the south of France - yet they retain a vibrancy and definition that marks them out from the crowd.

Fruit is sourced exclusively from a 75 year old single vineyard situated on stony terraces in the high hills of La Livinière, in the Minervois region. Here, soils are predominantly limestone and clay with the age of vines averaging 70 years. The wines show brightness, ripeness, definition and character - elements which can be largely attributed to these older vines. Grenache grapes are picked in two passes, as both the Noir and Gris grapes are grown in the same plot.

Grapes were all harvested by hand into small cases before undergoing a slow and gentle whole bunch pressing in a bag press. After one day resting on its skins, the juice was racked off into one and two year old 225 litre barrels for fermentation. The finished wine was then aged in barrel on its lees for one year without racking. A light filtration occurred just prior to bottling.

One of the best examples of white wines from the Languedoc region. Aromatic, with citrus perfumes, this wine is rich and supple on the palate with distinct notes of smoke and liquorice. The finish is fresh, long and lingering.


Domaine Pierre Cros Minervois Blanc Les Costes 2016 (1x75cl)

The  2016 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of Languedoc whites (see blue link below).

Domaine Pierre Cros Minervois Blanc Les Costes 2016 - August 2018 Decanter review

Situated in Badens, a few kilometres from Carcassonne, the vineyards of Domaine Cros sit on the poorest of poor shallow stony soils that are so stark and inhospitable in certain places that only the vine and the olive tree can scratch an existence. The love of this arid terroir, where the drought seems more extreme than elsewhere, has induced Pierre Cros to preserve several ancient parcels of Aramon (planted in 1930), Piquepoul Noir (1910), Alicante (1927) and Carignan (1910) alongside the more classic “noble” (parvenu) varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.

The Minervois tradition provides superb value for money.  This Minervois Blanc is lovely – a field blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Muscat à Petit Grains and Piquepoul Blanc. Typically floral and resinous at the same time this white conjures dried apricots and plums sprinkled with garrigue notes of fennel and broom.


Les Bottes Rouges Album Savagnin Ouille 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition regional profile of the Jura (see blue link below).

Les Bottes Rouges Album Savagnin Ouille 2015- August 2018 Decanter review

Jean-Baptiste hails from the town of Pontalierin the high Jura mountains. His primary passion was cross country ski-ing before he became a teacher like his friend Raphael Monnier (Ratapoil). Together, for fun and to learn, they played at making wine. After doing a wine course in Beaune and working for a spell with Stephane Tissot he took on some vineyards naming them “Les Bottes Rouges” (Red Boots” after a song that he particularly liked. These vineyards, which he leases, area mainly mature vines in Arbois AOC and he also has 0.3 ha just outside of the appellation in Grozon. Jean-Baptiste makes wines that he loves to drink and share – simple, fruity and natural.

Album is a cuvée that he makes in minuscule quantities. The vines are planted in limestone soils Once picked the whole bunches are pressed into neutral oak barrels for fermentation. He uses debourbage (a process in which the lees are allowed to settle before racking to minimize the need for filtration) before putting the wine back into the barrels for élevage. It is racked once more before being bottled.


Chateau d Esclans Whispering Angel Rose 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition interview with Sacha Lichine of Chateau d'Esclans (see blue link below).

Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rose 2017 - August 2018 Decanter review

Rapidly becoming an icon rosé...

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rose 2017 - fiche technique

Everything at Chateau d'Esclans is done with quality as the overriding focus. They are very proud to say they take the same care and attention of their grapes as any of the top Bordeaux chateaux do of theirs, and no expense is spared to ensure every vintage reaches its potential in the bottle. The wines themselves are made by Patrick Leon, who used to make the wine at none other than Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Opus One. 

This superb rose is made from a blend of old vines grown on the Esclans estate by Burgundian winemaking techniques resulting in a rounded and expressive Provence rose with unusual complexity.

The Whispering Angel has a beautifully delicate pale pink colour. Redcurrant, dried flowers and spices abound on the nose, with a subtle herbal quality. The palate is refined and elegant with faint cherry nuances which are followed by elegant summer fruits and beautifully integrated, yet balanced acidity.


Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2016 edition review of South African Chenin Blanc (see blue link below).

Ken Forrester FMC CB 2014 - Nov 2016 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of South African old-vine Chenin Blanc (see blue link below).

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2016 - August 2018 Decanter review

The pinnacle of what we consider to be the finest expression of the grapes of this varietal, an icon Chenin and a challenge to the world! Rich, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey. Will gain additional complexity with cellaring.

We like this because it's amazing. Full stop, period, end of. See our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details.


Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle de Uco Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World" (see blue link below)...

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle De Uco Malbec 2014 - August 2018 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

100% of this Malbec was grown on the loamy soils of Gualtallary, lying at 1,300 metres above sea level. There, limestone-covered pebbles and gravels occupy 50-60% of the soil volume, with a high percentage of free calcium carbonate giving the wine a chalky, fresh minerality. A small percentage of clay (3%) allows the Malbec to express fresh fruit flavours.

The season began with severe frosts reducing yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that negatively affected flowering and lowered yields even more. December and January saw heatwaves, though lower temperatures moved into the region just before harvest. Three weeks before harvest, two years’ worth of rain fell. Grapes were therefore harvested prior to mildew or rot setting in. Despite these challenges, fruit showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins.

The grapes went through a double selection process and into small stainless steel tanks for pre-fermentation maceration at 5°C for seven days. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C and continued for 15 days. In total, the wine spent three weeks on its skins. Pumping over was not carried out in order to minimise over-extraction of grape skin compounds. Instead, the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. Once this was completed, post-fermentation maceration began for four days. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted foudres for 18 months followed by 12 months in bottle.

Fresh red fruit notes, cranberries and wild strawberries are followed by layers of spice and herbs. On the palate, fruit is intensely concentrated intensifying through the mid-palate to the finish. The limestone tannins and calcareous soils build a firm but balanced structure in the mouth, with elegant minerality and a long finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Dopff Au Moulin Cremant d'Alsace, Cuvee Julien Brut NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of French Cremant(s) (see blue link below).

Dopff Au Moulin Cremant D'Alsace, Cuvee Julien Brut NV - August 2018 Decanter review

The Dopff family has been winegrowers since 1574 and still manage the 70 hectare estate near the charming medieval town of Riquewihr. The vineyards are more than 300 metres above sea level, nestled in the foothills of the lower Vosges. As a family of pioneers, they were responsible for the use of the stemmed wine bottles, which today distinguish Alsace wines from other regions. In 1900, tenth generation Julien Dopff was so impressed by the Champagne tastings held in Paris' World Exhibition, he learnt the art of winemaking in Champagne for two years before returning to Alsace. After WW II Julien Dopff strongly believed that a Crémant made from local grape varieties and reflecting the terroir of Alsace should be produced and protected. In 1976, together with five other producers, he finally obtained official recognition for Crémant d'Alsace as an AOC.

The vineyard uses the Guyot training system with green harvest and meticulous canopy management to ensure good light penetration and air flow.

The grapes are gently crushed and pressing is limited to 100 litres of must per 150kg of grapes. The first fermentation is carried out in stainless steel and glass tanks, while the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, using the traditional Champagne method. The wine is aged for 18 months in bottle on its lees with automatic riddlings using gyropallets. This Crémant D'Alsace is mostly based on a single vintage, currently being 2012 crop.

Dry and elegant Crémant, showing hints of quince and white flowers, fine bubbles with good length and weight. Ideal as an apéritif or excellent white fish, sushi, oysters or fresh fruit.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Muscat NV (1x 37.5cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Weekday Wines (25 under £25)" (see blue link below)...

Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Muscat NV - August 2018 Decanter review

The 6th generation of the Chambers family to make wine in the Rosewood winery, Stephen, took over the winemaking in 2001. This venerable winery, started in 1858 by William Chambers, is one of the most fabled in Rutherglen. This charming, northeastern Victorian town, the sort of place that time forgot, still speaks of the gold rush that led to the town's foundation, and the development of the wine industry, in the 1850s. 

The vineyards are located on the fringes of the Rutherglen Township, slightly to the North West, where Chambers produce drier style Muscats which express rose petal characters. The vines are hand pruned to a rod and spur system which allows each vine to be viewed on an individual basis. The trellising system is a single wire with a sprawling canopy.

Harvest of the grapes for this wine commences once the fruit reaches a ripeness of 16 Baumé. At this stage the grapes will have some variation throughout the bunches, with some being plump, while others showing signs of grape shrivel. Once a parcel of grape is harvested, it is destemmed and the must placed into a closed stainless steel fermentation tank. The amount of fermentation is dependent upon the final baumé level of the parcel, and it occurs around 24 hours after harvest and a soak on skins. Once fermentation has commenced and the sugar level has fallen to between 14 and 15 baumé the grapes are pressed with the fermenting juice and fortified with neutral grape wine spirit (95.8 to 96.2%). The resultant wine is then settled in stainless steel tanks and then racked into old oak casks, which range in size between 220 to 5500 litres. The wines are kept as single vintage and vineyard parcels until blending.

The Rutherglen Muscat is typically tawny red in colour with aromas of rose petals, raisins and dried fruit. These characters carry through to the palate, balanced with fresh acidity. The wine is unctuous and rich yet zesty and balanced.

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