Decanter August

The heatwave-styled August 2019 edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com) has just been released.

This month, Decanter does exactly what it says on the cover. The two panel reviews are of Austrian Grüner Veltiner and Provence rosé, and it's noticeable that the cover goes to town on the latter and not the former (not surprisingly: more below).

The main story for us is that we have one of the two 95-point, Outstanding Provence rosés at a UK-best price (and it's hard to find in any event)! of £18.95. There's more detail below.

The wines featured this month in Decanter - 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.

First... rosé ... always a divider of opinion. For some (many?), it's not seen as 'proper wine'. This time last year, Decanter reviewed French-but-not-from-Provence rosés. We forcefully made the case then that rosé is not (at all) to be seen as not-very-good just because it's pink in colour.

Indeed, if that case is easiest to make anywhere, it's with the rosé of Provence, which has managed to define itself as the homeland - certainly in aggregate - of the world's best rosé. Provence, one might contend, has become to rosé what Champagne has long been to sparkling.

Some part of that is fine marketing and branding, of course: Châteaux Miraval and d'Esclans (they of Whispering Angel) have been paramount here. But much lies in superior (often higher/cooler) vineyards, careful vineyard management and superior rosé-making techniques. As said last year, much of the best/most elegant/refined rosé is made by the direct pressing/pressurage direct method. Here, where one is essentially making a white wine from red/black grapes, only the best-quality juice is used and this has a large impact on overall quality, albeit at a price (the volume of wine yielded is markedly lower when compared with the saignée method). 

The Decanter review puts 90+ Provence rosés through their paces and finds two Outstandings of 95 points. Interestingly, although there are some 15 Highly Recommendeds (90+ points), none rise above 92 points, making the two Outstandings just that.

Ours is the Abacus 2018 from Domaine des Mapliers; it's categorised as a Cotes de Provence AOP, from Lorgues in the Var département. There's a bundle more info on the domaine, its owner etc on both their website and our product page.

It's a rosé minimalistically made (and very much made in the vineyard), so there's only so much one can say. But, crucially and manifestly, this is a very-well made rosé. It stands out, we would argue, for a few key reasons:

- it comprises a rare - and not insignificant/token - proportion of Cab Sauv, which adds a sense of something extra - body, flavour - than is typical. With Syrah, Cinsault and Grenache as the other components, this is a rosé of some substance. 

- it's silky and smooth in a way that many rosés are not; and

- it's organically produced (seeking certification).

It's telling that the Abacus out-shines such major names as Châteaux Léoube and Minuty; it's also interesting that neither Miraval nor any of the Angels from d'Esclans were submitted for test. 

Here's the Abacus's review:

Availability/delivery: we have 150 bottles that can be with you (in the UK) by Friday of next week (5th July) - beyond those, it's 2-3 weeks before new stocks will arrive from the domaine. So, if you want this to provide refreshment while watching the tennis/rowing/World Cup cricket/footy etc, we do suggest speed of ordering. We're not limiting order size, but it's worth saying that the domaine only have quite limited supplies left (it was a small harvest), so don't linger too long.

Beyond the Abacus, we also have the Highly Recommended Château Sainte Marguerite Symphonie 2017 on 91 points.


And beyond Provence rosé(s) altogether...

- Sorry, Grüner Veltliner fans: there are no Outstandings to report in the other panel review. In fact, nothing here cleared 92 points (and the three wines that did were ~£30 or more), although there was a huge stack of (37) Highly Recommendeds. All a bit of a surprise, really - we tend to associate GV with very high standards and quality indeed. Among the upper echelon of those Highly Recommendeds, we offer the 91-point Rabl Langenlois 2017 from Kamptal, offering really great value (doubly so for an Austrian GV) at £14.15.

- There's a look at organic and biodynamic wine production in Languedoc-Roussillon - La Roc des Anges' delicious Segna de Cor fares very well. 

- An early look at the 2015 vintage of Barolo (and 2016 Barbaresco) reveals many gems: we seldom take emerging Barolo, but are pleased to offer the first new wines from E Pira (Mosconi), Conterno Fantino (Sori Ginestra) and the 94-point Vietti Lazzarito.

- We've made quite a fuss about La Rioja Alta's 'new' Gran Reserva (if such a thing can be said to exist for a wine of such age), the Viña Arana 2012 (its first vintage). Fresh from taking a Gold medal at the DWWAs. it gets a fine review and 92 points from Stephen Spurrier. We're also still a daftly good price on this!

La Rioja Alta
Viña Arana Rioja Gran Reserva


- It's also gone a bit Tasmanian Fizz (see also: methode tasmanoise) this month, too. The outstanding House of Arras comes in for a feature, with both their super-premium (and catchily-titled) EJ Carr Late Disgorged and the more everyday Grand Vintage Brut landing very big scores indeed (98 and 97 points resp). At a rather more modest price-point below £20, Jansz's Premium Cuvée does very well in Weekday Wines.

- There are fine, fine Eastern European representations from Dobogo and Matosevic respectively in an Expert's Choice on Hungarian dry Furmint and a regional guide to Croatia. Both are superbly concentrated takes on their respective styles.

- Last but not least (especially where quality is considered), Dreissigacker's Morstein Riesling (Grosses Gewächs) 2014 tops the scores (96 points) and bill in a regional profile of Germany's revered Rheinhessen region.

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