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Decanter December

The December edition of Decanter - released on Friday, the 27th October - is one we're particularly excited about. We've even more of the high-scorers and headliners than usual, perhaps more than any month this year.

 

 

Pride of place among the Decanter features goes to their review of Burgundy, specifically the reds of the Cote de Beaune (village appellations) from the much-vaunted-and-anticipated 2015 vintage. We have in stock two of the three 'Outstanding' wines from that review. You can see our feature on the region, the vintage and the featured wines by clicking on this link.

The other panel review this month concerns itself with cool-climate, Australian Chardonnay from Victoria and Tasmania (a favourite category of Exel). Again, three wines emerge as 'Outstanding', although, frustratingly, two of them are not available in the UK. Fortunately, we - exclusively - have the top-scorer, the thoroughly excellent Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 from Beechworth (Victoria). Beyond "the Indigo", we've a very good selection of the top-end 'Highly Recommended's and you'll find them in the product listing below.

Elsewhere in the magazine, there are reviews of and features on:

  • Western Australia: specifically, Margaret River - both whites and reds;
  • the 30 best-value organic and biodynamic wines;
  • a guide to 2015 Vintage Port; and
  • Old-Vine South Africa.

You'll find all of our wines in the December issue just below.

To see all of our Decanter-listed wines from the last 15 months, click here.

 

 

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Altos Las Hormigas Valle De Uco Malbec Terroir 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recomended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) - in their December 2017 edition - in their Weekday Wines column (see blue link below)... (yes, and cheaper than your local high-street boutique supermarket...)

Altos las Hormigas 2014 - December 2017 Decanter review

Opaque black in colour, with flashes of violet and an ethereal, highly complex nose with notes of red and black fruits, spices, smoke, forest groves and sweet, fresh wood. The palate has excellent breadth and depth of juicy fruit. The acidity is fresh and the tannins are firm but fine-textured, supporting the berry flavours well on the long, elegant finish.

£14.95

Domaine Antoine Olivier, Santenay Les Charmes 2015 (1x 75cl)

** WE ARE NOW OUT OF STOCK AND AND ARE UNABLE TO OBTAIN MORE, ALAS. **

* For an excellent (frankly, better) alternative from the same producer, appellation/village and vintage at a brilliant price, click here *

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of 2015 Côte de Beaune reds (see blue links below).

Domaine Antoine Olivier Santenay Les Charmes 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Decanter review - individual reviewer comments

For our feature/blog on that review and the 2015 vintage, click here.

Domaine Antoine Olivier was founded at the end of the 1960s, from a few vineyards left by Antoine Chevalier Moreau to his grandson, Hervé Olivier. Hervé began extending the estate by purchasing historic, old vineyards across Santenay, some of which had not been used for a century, paying particular attention to famous white wine vineyards. The quality of these soils is now recognised in a series of brilliant wines, in particular the exceptional white Santenay, something of a rarity in what is predominantly a red wine growing area. Today, Hervé’s grandson Antoine Olivier and his sister Rachel manage the estate. They are dedicated growers and follow certified organic practices in the vineyard. Their philosophy is to combine modernity with respect for the Burgundian soils and their stunning collection of white Santenay wines really showcases this.

The warm 2015 vintage saw excellent conditions throughout the growing cycle and resulted in healthy fruit with very good maturity levels and flavour concentration. “2015 is one of the best vintages since 2009, resulting in rich, delicate and elegant wines”, confirms Antoine.

Santenay is a village located at the southern end of the Côte de Beaune, south of Chassagne-Montrachet. The vineyard of Les Charmes is situated at the foothill in Santenay, with a clayey limestone soil, which is rich in iron, on a limestone base. The 0.3 hectares of vineyard are planted with very fine clones of Pinot Noir vines, which produce rich and powerful wines. The vineyard is managed with respect for the unique attributes of each site’s terroir and is farmed sustainably and organically, although it is not certified. Some biodynamic philosophies are also followed. The grapes are hand-picked and carefully sorted prior to vinification.

Traditional Burgundian vinification took place with minimal intervention. The grapes were vinified as whole clusters. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts and without any pigeage or punching down of the cap. The wine was 100% barrel-aged for 12 months, in a combination of oak barrels. One third was aged in new oak, one third in second-passage oak and one third in third-passage oak. The wine then rested for a further six months in tank, prior to being bottled, without fining or filtration.

Les Charmes shows generous aromas of cherries and raspberries, with subtle hints of violets. Smooth and complex on the palate with round tannins and a long finish.

We're offering Domaine Antoine Olivier's wonderful Premier Cru red Santenay 2015 - the Beaurepaire - at the same price. Click here for what is a daftly good offer. **

For the other excellent Burgundies - white and red - produced by Domaine Antoine Olivier, click here.

£29.90

Domaine Chevrot, Maranges Sur le Chene (rouge) 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of 2015 Côte de Beaune reds (see blue links below).

Domaine Chevrot Maranges Sur le Chene 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Decanter review - individual reviewer comments

For our feature/blog on that review and the 2015 vintage, click here.

It was Paul and Henriette Chevrot who gave their blood sweat and tears to establish the family domaine. In 1973, the management was passed to son Fernand and wife Catherine: their passion and love for wines from this region have shaped the domaine. The passion for wine has also been passed onto sons Pablo and Vincent. Pablo started working for the domaine in July 2002 having completed his studies. Pablo married Kaori, a Japanese wine taster in August 2003. Vincent the younger of the sons joined the family domaine in 2007 after completing his studies and gaining winemaking experience in France and around the world.  But the history stretches back further: the cellar located under the house was constructed in 1798 and holds the French oak barrels in which the Chevrot wines are aged. The property has its own winery, bottling facility and storage facility. This allows for control over the wine from start to finish. The bottle store room is therm- regulated allowing the wine to mature in the best way possible. This is a classic, Burgundian family domaine in every sense.

"Sur le Chêne" is a lieu-dit (ie a defined named plot) at the extreme south-western edge not only of the Maranges AC area, but also of the entire Côte de Beaune (and thus Côte d'Or) delineations, just on the outskirts of Cheilly-les-Maranges. Exposed to the south on a hill of mixed gravelly limestone and granitic sands, the 3-hectare parcelle is planted with fifty-year-old vines. 

Grapes are manually harvested to ensure optimum quality and 30% of the wine is made with whole grape bunches.

The vinification process is conducted without recourse to sulphur (dioxide), helping the wine to demonstrate fully the expressiveness of its terroir. Fermentation was with natural yeasts only and occured between 15 and 34 degrees C, over 12 days,with cap mixing occuring only by punching down/pigeage (the gentlest of cap mixing techniques, most classically used with Pinot Noir). Malolactic fermentation was conducted on all fractions of the blend. 

Ageing occured over a total of 15 months: 14 months in 228-litre futs/barriques - 10% of which were new Frenchoakand a final month in stainless steel before bottling. 

Chevrot's viticulture is biodynamic, and no use of sulphur is made in the winemaking process, solely in bottling. The wine is unfined and unfiltered. 

On the nose, the Sur le Chêne Maranges offers classic Côte de Beaune red fruits (redcurrants, strawberries, raspberries) plus, more unusually, gooseberry, cherry and scents of mocha and cocoa. In the mouth, there is a great intensity and depth to these same flavours, reflecting the resplendance of the excellent 2015 harvest, with very light vanilla hints of the oak.

Ageing potential is some 6-8 years from vintage. Depending on your view on when to drink Pinot Noir, this can be drunk immediately.

£21.00

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue links below).

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 - December 2017 Decanter review

Decanter review - individual reviewer comments

It's on our Christmas List because... it topped the Decanter cool-climate Australia Chardonnay review against some great opposition. It has great depth and complexity already: drink it now or drink it later... this is among the best New World Chardonnays money can buy. The Tolpudddle Chardonnay 2014 - we have just a few bottles available - is also pretty incredible.
Established in 1970, Brokenwood Wines has evolved from a weekend venture for self-professed hobby winemakers into one of Australia’s most reputable wine labels. It was founded by a trio of Sydney-based solicitors, Tony Albert, John Beeston and James Halliday, who paid a then record price of $970 per acre for a 10-acre block in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges. The original block was destined to be a cricket ground for the local community but was instead planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The first vintage was picked in 1973 and while none of the original partners claimed to know anything about viticulture, the wine received praise, and attracted a loyal following from the first vintage.
 
In 1975, a new winery was built to accommodate the growing production. Growth was steady until the boom of 1978, when six new partners joined, allowing the purchase of the nextdoor (and now famous) Graveyard Vineyard. Originally destined to be a cemetery for the Parish of Pokolbin, it was never used as such and instead planted with Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz is Brokenwood’s flagship wine, which is still sourced exclusively from that one vineyard. 
 
In the same year, Brokenwood sourced fruit from outside the Hunter Valley for the first time - Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra - which was blended with Hunter fruit to make a premium red, creating the style that has been synonymous with Brokenwood for the last 20 years. In 1982, the company extended its range to include white wines, notably the jewel of the Hunter Valley, Semillon. Brokenwood was then capable of producing high quality white wine, which, since 1983, has been a significant part of its total production. Brokenwood’s single vineyard philosophy has grown to capture the essence of its premium sites throughout Australia.
 
Consistently listed as a 5-star winery, Brokenwood is home to the aforementioned Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the highly-acclaimed ILR Reserve Semillon, and the popular Cricket Pitch Range.
 
An almost-perfect combination of soils, aspect, vine clones and vine age on the Indigo property makes for a stunning Chardonnay with minimum winemaking input, allowing the Beechworth region and and Indigo terroir to express themselves fully. A very cold and wet winter of 2015 meant a late budburst, but set the vines up for a great spring. A warm summer did mean irrigation was necessary and picking was very condensed. The last grapes off were nearly a month ahead of previous years, but this worked out favourably as there was a heat wave in early March. Overall, 2016 was a quite excellent vintage.
 
Whole bunch pressing, wild ferment in new French oak have come together in spectacular fashion. The wine was fermented in 30% new French oak. with the 70% balance being older oak, from a variety of cooperages.
 
At Indigo, careful winemaking and being very hands-off has resulted in a perfect green tinted yellow colour. Whole bunch pressed and a wild ferment has meant excellent complexity on nose and palate. Nutty elements with distinctive Beechworth ‘oat meal’ Chardonnay lift. A vintage with low ‘struck match’ but long grapefruit flavours and tropical acidity. Perfect Chardonnay which is drinking well now but will improve with further bottle age.
£35.00

Domaine Chevalier Ladoix Rouge 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of 2015 Côte de Beaune reds (see blue link below).

Domaine Chevalier Ladoix 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Domaine Chevalier is a 15-hectare, family domaine situated in Ladoix, in the north of the Côte de Beaune. Established in 1850, it is now run by Claude Chevalier and his daughters, Julie and Chloé. Claude's whites have the mealy and mineral quality that typifies great Burgundy, at a relatively modest price. The style combines the taut, steely feel of Chablis but with the fruit intensity, finesse and hints of riper stone fruit of the Côte de Beaune. His red wines have incredible purity and elegance.

Ladoix is in the northern Cote de Beaune, adjoining the Côte de Nuits vineyards. The village lies at the foot of the Mont de Corton where the soils are chalky marl.

Low yields and warm weather in 2015 allowed for ample ripeness, small berries and an early harvest. Quality is looking extremely fine, with some people whispering comparisons with the outstanding 2005 vintage. Acid levels in individual wines may be crucial.

Vinification was done in the traditional way, with fermentation taking place in vat. The wine was aged in oak barrels, with no new wood for 12 months. It was rested and bottled in January.

The Domaine Chevalier Ladoix Rouge is a lovely ruby garnet in colour, characteristic of Pinot Noir, with soft red fruit perfumes of rasperries and red cherries and excellent depth of flavour. Fine, ripe tannins and a long, delicately perfumed finish.

£28.60

Dalrymple Cave Block Chardonnay 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Dalrymple Cave Block Chardonnay 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Free draining soils and steep slopes results in this Chardonnay vineyard producing low yields of intensely concentrated fruit. A cool to mild spring and early summer, with above average rainfall, gave average yields which were well matched for ripening with a healthy canopy. A mild to warm air system settled over Tasmania just prior to harvest in March and for 3 weeks they experienced only blue skies and mild temperatures, perfect for finishing off the final stages of ripening while also maintaining fine acid that had developed through the cooler months.

The fruit was meticulously picked by hand, before whole bunch pressing to a mix of new and older French oak barriques. Winemaking included a parcel of wild fermentation, light lees contact and partial malolactic fermentation.

Delicate aromas of lemon curd and preserved citrus are immediately apparent with hints of roasted cashews and ground ryegrass seed adding some softer depth and complexity. A fine acid palate, that is the hallmark of the Cave Block, provides drive through the palate with mealy texture providing depth and balance to vibrant citrus fruit characters. The finish is clean and long with lingering notes of nectarine skins and roasted kernels.

** Delivery is more likely to be a fortnight on this item. **

£27.00

Dawson James Chardonnay 2011 (1x 75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Dawson James Chardonnay 2016 - December 2017 Decanter review

However, the more recent Dawson James vintages - alas, including the 2015 - are not UK-available (there is no UK importer) and only the 2011 is to be found this side of the "other Perth". 

Dawson James is the project of Peter Dawson and Tim James, who met in 1976 when they were both working at Hardy & Sons, and where they continued to work alongside each other for 20 years. They have since moved on to different projects, including Willunga 100 in McLaren Vale for Tim, but have collaborated again to produce the Dawson James wines in Tasmania. Their shared passion for Australian art, farming, camping and gastronomy, as well as their dedication to fine Australian wine, have combined in this exciting project, and the wines are the proof of their winemaking wisdom and enthusiasm. The wines come from the Meadow Bank Vineyard, which is located around 60km north-west of Hobart, an area characterised by rugged topography and the fast flowing, pristine waters of the Derwent river.

The Meadowbank vineyard is located in the Derwent Valley in southern Tasmania, and was planted in 1989. The site is 70 metres above the river level and the north-easterly aspect gives it optimal sunlight exposure for grape ripening. The soil is a combination of brown sandy loams over structured clays and sandstone rock. It has a devigorating nature, helping the balanced growth and structure of the vines. Vines are trellised to single cordon and managed to one bunch per shoot, and yields are kept at less than six tonnes per hectare.

Grapes were hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed. Free run juice was transferred to oak sourced from Burgundian cooperages. Primary fermentation in oak was followed by partial malolactic fermentation. The wine remained in oak for nine months, when a selection of barrels was made for the final blend.

The Dawson James Chardonnay 2011 is pale yellow with green hues. Bright lemon and grapefruit with flinty notes on the nose, tightly woven citrus and minerally characters on the palate. The acidity is soft and zesty, and the length is long and moreish.

 

£36.00

Fowles Wine Are You Game? Chardonnay 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

The Fowles Wine vineyards and winery are located in the dramatic granite landscape of Strathbogie Ranges region of Victoria, Australia. Fowles Wine crafts some of Australia’s finest cool climate wines, winning many of Australia’s most prestigious wine medals and trophies. The Fowles Wine team is energetic and enterprising, continuing to break new ground by proudly taking the Strathbogie Ranges ‘message in a bottle’ to the world with some of Australia’s most exciting wines.

Home to Fowles Wine vineyards and winery, the Strathbogie Ranges is characterised by massive granite boulders – the very boulders that have given rise, over millions of years, to the sandy loam soils in which our vines grow. This is a harsh Australian landscape with soil that is nutrient poor and retains very little water – difficult for farmers to grow livestock, but a wonderful landscape for grape growers seeking to grow fruit with great intensity. Couple these attributes with the cool climate, gentle aspect and glorious summer sunshine and the Strathbogie Ranges is an ideal region for growing grapes and making wine.

2015 was one of ten warmest years on record in Victoria and rainfall was very low. This combination of conditions produced a year of moderate yields and early ripening. The fruit for this wine comes from our family vineyard, Upton Run, high in the Strathbogie Ranges. The grapes were harvested during the cool of night in February 2015 to ensure fruit temperature was low to preserve primary fruit flavours. They picked chardonnay at a number of ripeness levels to achieve balance of flavour, alcohol, and acidity.

This wine was fermented between 13-16˚C. The majority of this wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve primary fruit flavours, with the remaining wine being barrel fermented to impart layers and texture. We chose to use a variety of yeasts to ferment this wine as they all impart different characteristics and help build complexity. This wine was fermented and matured (for four months) in new and old French oak with lees stirring. Lees stirring is a process where the lees (residual yeast particles) rest in barrel with the wine which promotes an appealing creamy aroma and flavour. We also added a dash of Vermentino (8%) to the Chardonnay to add a cheeky aroma and flavour twist.

This Chardonnay is a bright straw in colour. Aromas of nectarine, white peach, tropical fruits and pear jump from the glass. The palate is full bodied and full of tropical fruit with great texture and a delightful creaminess as a result of four months on yeast lees.

£11.80

Fowles Wine Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

Fowles Wine vineyards and winery are located in the dramatic granite landscape of Strathbogie Ranges region of Victoria, Australia. Fowles Wine crafts some of Australia’s finest cool climate wines, winning many of Australia’s most prestigious wine medals and trophies. The Fowles Wine team is energetic and enterprising, continuing to break new ground by proudly taking the Strathbogie Ranges ‘message in a bottle’ to the world with some of Australia’s most exciting wines.

Ladies who Shoot their Lunch has been blended to complement real food with wines of striking colour, elevated aromas, pristine fruit and a finish to persist with the wildest flavours.

Home to Fowles Wine vineyards and winery, the Strathbogie Ranges is characterised by massive granite boulders – the very boulders that have given rise, over millions of years, to the sandy loam soils in which our vines grow. This is a harsh Australian landscape with soil that is nutrient poor and retains very little water – difficult for farmers to grow livestock, but a wonderful landscape for grape growers seeking to grow fruit with great intensity. Couple these attributes with the cool climate, gentle aspect and glorious summer sunshine and the Strathbogie Ranges is an ideal region for growing grapes and making wine.

The fruit for this wine comes from their vineyards in the Strathbogie Ranges and was harvested in the evening on the 25 of February. The choice to harvest at night – in those cooler hours – is done to ensure that the fruit temperature remains low thus preserving primary fruit flavours that are integral to the character of this wine. This wine is 100% barrel fermented, the majority in French oak puncheons. About half of the batch was wild fermented. Wild yeast adds a layer of complexity to the aroma of wine.

2016 was one of ten warmest years on record in Victoria and rainfall was very low. The main winemaking challenge was trying to find a balance between alcohol and flavour.

This wine is pale straw yellow in colour. The nose is packed with stone fruit characters, honey dew melon and an inviting and rich toasty oak aroma. The palate is generous, complex and elegant with flavours of fresh ripe stone fruits and honey toasted oak playing on the palate. A balanced and delicious wine with a long finish.

£20.15

Giant Steps `Sexton Vineyard` Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 - December 2017 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2017 edition review of Australian Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Giant Steps Chardonnay 2015 - Sept 2017 Decanter review

Giant Steps is a privately-owned, estate-based, Yarra Valley grower and winemaker that has forged a reputation for delivering some of Australia’s most consistent, over-performing, varietal wines. The Giant Steps Single Vineyard range is produced from the most site-expressive fruit off the best vineyards in great years. Their aim is to express in each wine the character of the site, grape and vintage, and this they achieve by meticulous work in the vineyard and minimum intervention in the winery. Head winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team are making some of the best wines in Australia from these sites.

Located on the steep north facing slopes of the Warramate Ranges, alongside the vineyards of Yarra Yering and Coldstream Hills, the Sexton vineyard is exposed and demanding. Being well up the slopes between 130 and 210 metres, topsoil is thin and root systems have established themselves in shallow gravelly loams above a tough rocky clay base. Vigour and bunch yields are naturally low in this environment, facilitating a low intervention approach to what is otherwise hand tended viticulture. Organic vineyard management principles are being introduced with the purpose of further distinguishing the site and improving grape and wine quality.

The fruit was hand picked. Upon arrival at the winery, it was lightly pressed to tank and the juice transferred to puncheons with no settling. Fermentation took place with 100% indigenous yeast in 500 litre French puncheons at 18 - 24°C. The lees were stirred twice only between May and June. The wine spent ten months in French puncheons, 20% of which were new. No malolactic fermentation took place. The wine was bottled, unfiltered, by gravity.

Flinty, wet slate aromas combine with notes of melon and honeysuckle on the nose. Lengthy and elegant at the same time, the palate is fuller bodied than the 2015 vinatge, with preserved lemons complementing subtle melon, and a steely character on the long finish.

£27.25

Giant Steps Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

Giant Steps is a privately owned, estate based, Yarra Valley grower and winemaker that has forged a reputation for delivering some of Australia’s most consistent single vineyard varietal wines. The new Yarra Valley range of wines is made from hand-picked fruit from the estate vineyards. These wines were born from a desire to produce a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Giant Steps quality, which are expressive of the regional characteristics of the Yarra Valley rather than a single site. Fruit for this wine is sourced from the Sexton, Tarraford, Applejack and Jobling estate vineyards.

The season saw lovely winter rains and a wonderful spring. This was followed by ideal summer growing conditions, with an average January temperature of 27.5°C. There was welcome rain in mid-February. All the Chardonnay was hand-picked and arrived in near perfect condition at the winery.

Wines from the Yarra Valley range are produced using indigenous yeasts, gravity-flow winemaking and minimal fining and filtration. All the fruit is 100% hand-picked and fermented in 500 litre French oak puncheons, of which 20% are new and 80% older oak. No malolactic fermentation takes place. Lees stirring is carried out for around two months. The wine is then aged for 11 months in 20% new and 80% used French puncheons.

This is an elegant, refined and delicate Chardonnay that is also surprisingly voluptuous. The nose shows classic Yarra characters of lemon sorbet, white peach and nectarine underpinned with notes of marzipan and hazelnut. Crisp acidity on the back palate ensures a refreshing, clean finish.

£17.75

Innocent Bystander Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

This winery changed hands in May 2016, with one family company, Brown Brothers, buying it from its founder, Phil Sexton. So associated is Innocent Bystander with the Yarra Valley that the new owners made the decision to build a new winery in Healesville. They quickly signed contracts with all the grape growers that Phil used for Innocent Bystander, so that the style of the wines remains unchanged. That style - wines that are regional and varietal, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley – has been the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built.

Fruit for this wine was sourced from three of the the Innocent Bystander estate vineyards: Sexton, Tarraford and Applejack. This selective approach results in highly expressive wines, true to the regional characteristics of the Yarra Valley.

Fruit was hand picked and whole bunch pressed, with the free run juice kept separate from the pressings. No racking or clarification of the juice occurred, so the free run was fermented on juice solids. Fermentation was done using indigenous yeast in new and seasoned French barriques and puncheons, with the lees stirred monthly until winter. No malolactic fermentation took place. The wine was lightly fined only prior to bottling in February 2016.

Fresh pear and lemon perfumes with notes of delicate white flowers. Lovely soft aromas of poached apple and marzipan evolve in the glass. Crisp, fresh and dry on the palate, the wine is tightly sprung as a new release, unwinding to reveal a citrus pith texture, wrapped around a fresh stone fruit core.

£15.50

Josef Chromy Chardonnay 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommnded status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Josef Chromy Chardonnay 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

At 76, when most people would be thinking about easing up, Joe launched Josef Chromy Wines in December 2007. In just over 4 years, Josef Chromy Wines made an impressive impact on the Australian wine industry. 

Josef Chromy's winemaking style is founded on producing wines that show a true ‘sense of place’ and celebrate the individual characteristics of each unique vintage. To ensure the integrity and delicate characteristics of the fruit, the grapes are received and vinified in Tasmania’s most advanced winery with emphasis on the wine being an expression of its terrior.

In all of their wines balance is the ultimate focus, striving to marry fruit, natural acidity, structure, tannin and texture. The use of state-of-the-art technology for traditional winemaking techniques enables a gentle, minimal intervention approach which allows the subtle and delicate flavours of the cool climate vineyard to be expressed to their full potential.

Citrus zest, tropical lime and white stonefruit aromas with underlying hints of toast and walnut. The palate shows elegant primary citrus fruit flavours of lemon and grapefruit, underpinned by sweet, creamy macdamia nut notes and hints of oatmeal. The palate is structured and balanced, with juicy lees complexity and toasty undertones. Fresh, natural acidity gives focus and length.

£20.60

Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

The Kooyong vineyard is located on the Mornington Peninsula at Tuerong, on Miocene sedimentary soils. The wines are made from domain grown, handpicked grapes and aim to manifest terroir: the integration of the geology and soils with the macroclimate of our region, the mesoclimates of the various sites within our vineyard and the weather of the annual grape growing season. Our cultural operations in the vineyard and practices in the winery endeavour to articulate these unique characteristics diligently, respectfully and without artifice.

The 2016 Kooyong Clonale is a blend of Chardonnay from our Tuerong and Balnarring vineyards.

The grapes are gently whole-bunch pressed directly into French oak barriques (10% new), where fermentation takes place without inoculation. After fermentation, the wine is aged on lees (without battonage) for 10 months. It is bottled without fining and with minimal filtration.

Aromatically pure and airy, the nose on this wine delivers notes of lime, green apple and white peach along with some subtle smoky reduction. The palate offers flavours of grapefruit and nectarine combined with a lovely texture that pushes towards a pithy finish.

£17.25

Kooyong Farrago Chardonnay 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Kooyong Farrago Chardonnay 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

The Kooyong vineyard is located on the Mornington Peninsula at Tuerong, on Miocene sedimentary soils. Their wines are made from domain grown, handpicked grapes and aim to manifest terroir: the integration of the geology and soils with the macroclimate of the region, the mesoclimates of the various sites within the vineyard and the weather of the annual grape growing season.

This single-block wine is sourced from just 1.02 ha of a 17-year-old gently sloping 2.76 ha Chardonnay vineyard. The grapes were gently whole-bunch pressed directly into French oak barriques (15% new), where fermentation occurred spontaneously with ambient yeasts. After fermentation the wine was aged on lees (without battonage) for 12 months, with the only racking occurring directly prior to bottling. The wine was bottled without fining and with minimal filtration.

The nose of the 2015 Farrago is initially dominated by flint and wet rocks with other typical Farrago notes following: mandarin, tangerine and orange blossom. Subtle fennel and bran aromas come and go. Intense ruby grapefruit and lime flavours dominate, with penetrating acidity flowing through the palate. There is an underlying fleshiness that also helps drive the wine along. Long, seamless and powerful, this is a Farrago destined for a long life.

£28.95

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2017 edition review of Australian Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2014 - Sept 2017 Decanter review

Owned by the Aylward family - founders of the renowned Kooyong winery- Ocean Eight was established in 2004 in the southern and cooler side of Mornington Peninsula. In their state-of-the-art, temperature controlled, gravity fed winery, winemaker Mike Aylward produces stunning cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, taking influence from the great old world wine regions of Alsace, Burgundy and Champagne. All the grapes for the Ocean Eight wines are sourced from the family’s 17 hectares of vineyard and their total production each year is just 5,000 cases.

The must was cold fermented, slowly over a period of four to six weeks in order to maximise the aromatic expression. The wine was then pressed and gravity fed directly into old oak barrels of six to eight years, in the underground barrel room. The wine spent 11 months in oak prior to bottling. 

Leading the way for the new generation Australian Chardonnay, the name Verve encapsulates its style. A vibrant perfume of Granny Smith apple, honeysuckle blossom and lime zest is mirrored on the palate. Low alcohol thanks to the early pick style and a mouthwatering finish.

£26.00

Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania).

Located in the heart of Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Paringa Estate was founded in 1984 by Lindsay McCall when he purchased a derelict orchard. Lindsay’s passion and fascination with wine began in the mid 1970s and by the mid 1980s he decided to follow his dream by establishing Paringa Estate. The first vintage was in 1988 with just three tonnes of fruit and over the years it has grown considerably, with production now at 16,000 cases. Paringa Estate is one of the most highly awarded boutique wineries in Australia, regularly winning trophies for its Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wines pay homage to Burgundy in style and James Halliday says Paringa Estate is “one of the best, if not the best, wineries on the Peninsula”.

The fruit for this wine was sourced from four Estate managed vineyards within the Red Hill sub-region. The vines have an average age of 20 years and are dry grown in a volcanic, iron rich soil known as Ferrasol.

The hand-picked fruit was whole bunch pressed and then transferred to barrel on its lees, where it underwent a barrel fermentation in seasoned French oak. Approximately 25% of the yeasts used were indigenous. The wine was matured on its lees in oak for a period of 10 months, prior to being bottled.

The hallmark of Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay is the fresh grapefruit acidity that is abundant in this Peninsula Chardonnay and highlights the subtle nuances of vanilla and ripe peach. The extended finish has noticeable minerality adding to the complexity.

£21.10

Paringa Estate, The Paringa Single Vineyard, Chardonnay 2013 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue link below).

Paringa Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 - December 2017 Decanter review

Located in the heart of Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Paringa Estate was founded in 1984 by Lindsay McCall when he purchased a derelict orchard. Lindsay’s passion and fascination with wine began in the mid 1970s and by the mid 1980s he decided to follow his dream by establishing Paringa Estate. The first vintage was in 1988 with just three tonnes of fruit and over the years it has grown considerably, with production now at 16,000 cases. Paringa Estate is one of the most highly awarded boutique wineries in Australia. The wines pay homage to Burgundy in style and James Halliday says Paringa Estate is “one of the best, if not the best, wineries on the Peninsula”.

This vineyard was one of the first planted by Lindsay McCall in 1985. The fruit for this wine was sourced from nine rows of the Paringa single vineyard, situated just next to the cellar door. It is north facing, and sits at an altitude of 146 metres above sea level. The soil is the typical red volcanic soil known as ferrasol.

The hand-picked fruit was whole bunch pressed and then racked to barrel on its lees, where indigenous yeasts carried out the fermentation. Following the fermentation, a barrel maturation took place over nine months, in 50% new French oak, with regular barrel stirring adding complexity and texture to the resulting wine.

This wine's nose offers a complex array of white peach and pear skin combining with vanilla, nougat and grilled almonds. The palate offers peach derived fruit, subtle texture with a fresh acid line carrying the wine through to a long finish.

£32.70

Cape Mentelle Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (1x 75cl)

Cape Mentelle takes a minimal approach towards this classic Margaret River blend. The aim is to preserve as much fruit intensity and regional character as possible, whilst providing a full flavoured distinctive white wine. The style accentuates the fresh fruit characters of both varieties with the added complexity and palate weight offered by a small portion of barrel fermentation.

The fruit comes from the perfectly suited cooler southern half of the Margaret River region, from their three vineyards of the Wallcliffe-Trinders, Crossroads and Chapman Brook. The typical soils of these vineyards are geologically ancient, free draining, sandy loams with a high percentage of lateritic gravel. The vines are vertically trained, spur or cane pruned and canopy manipulations are frequent to allow good air flow and dappled sunlight on the fruit.

When harvesting sauvignon blanc and semillon the emphasis is placed on capturing vibrant fresh flavours with clean acidity. Fruit is harvested at night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Extended fermentation takes place at very low temperature in stainless steel tanks with about 8% of the blend fermented in new oak barriques. The 2016 blend was assembled after four months on lees; the team decided to preserve the exceptional vinosity and perfect texture by bottling the wine unfined in July 2016.

The nose on this wine has varietal sauvignon notes revolving around cassis buds, juniper berries and cracked black pepper. It then opens to complex fruit ranging from zesty white grapefruit to hints of lychees, lifted by ethereal floral notes of jasmine and passion fruit flower. The palate is juicy clean, slightly saline, on notes of passionfruit and citrus. The fresh pithy acidity and mineral character, reminiscent of fine absinthe, fresh ginger and gentian bitters give the wine a lot of vinosity and personality, well balanced by the honey notes and creamy texture of the semillon and showing exceptional length.

This wine goes well with crab cakes, fresh oysters au naturel and warm bruschetta with fresh buffalo mozzarella amongst many other dishes. Because of the wine's strong personality, it will allow a bold marriage with cheeses, especially well-aged, slightly crystallized ones such as a mature Parmigiano-Reggiano.

£16.55

Cullen Diana Madeline 2015 (1x75cl)

The new 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition in Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World column (see blue link below)....

Cullen Diana Madeline 2015 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Margaret River wines (see blue link below).

Cullen Diana Madeline 2015 - December 2017 Decanter review

Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with their philosophy summed up in three simple words; ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. It is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Wilyabrup, in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen and now run by their daughter Vanya, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for fine certified biodynamic wines that receive critical national and international acclaim. All wines produced are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Estates. Both are certified biodynamic, to allow the soil to be nurtured and the wines to reflect their sense of place.

The soils at Cullen are old granite and gravelly sandy loam, overlaying lateric subsoils. The fruit is all taken from the Cullen Vineyard, The Cabernet Sauvignon comprises 11.33 hectares and was planted in 1971. The Merlot was planted in 1976 and covers 1.76 hectares. Vanya feels that her conversion to biodynamic viticulture has given her better fruit, the character of which she has preserved during the winemaking process. She is determined to ensure that these characters are retained in the bottle, and feels that this is best done by using a Stelvin closure.

The grapes were grown biodynamically and hand harvested. The fruit was carefully sorted before natural primary and malolactic fermentation. The two varieties were vinified separately. Primary fermentation took an average of 35 days, wtih the average skin contact lasting for 49 days. The wine was then aged for 17 months in French oak barriques, 60% of which were new. No acid or yeast were added, producing a wine which has a great sense of place.

Deep crimson in colour, with fantastic complexity on the nose. Layers of well-ripened dark fruits are enhanced by leafy notes and classic Wilyabrup cassis, violets, chocolate and ironstone. A fruit driven palate of blackcurrant and mulberry fruits finishes with fine grained tannins. Subtle layers of complexity arise from fruit that was harvested at the pinnacle of ripeness.

£78.00

L.A.S. Vino CBDB (Chenin Blanc Dynamic Blend) 2015 (1x 75cl)

LAS Vino is the creation of Nic Peterkin, son of Mike Peterkin of Pierro winery and Shelley Cullen, Vanya Cullen's sister. Nic did a Masters in Oenology and, after vintages in the Napa, Mexico, Portugal and Mendoza, started his own label. LAS refers to the Luck of the weather, the Art of creating and the Science that underpins this creativity. The result is a small quantity of high quality, hand-made wines. The packaging is as impressive as the wine: bottled in dark French glass, closed under Vinolok and sealed with wax, it is finish with the striking, hand drawn labels. The wines fulfil Nic's stated aim: to make interesting wines with minimum intervention but within the bounds of science.

Fruit for the CBDB comes from 25-year-old vines planted in vineyards in the Willyabrup region. Located in the heart of Western Australia's renowned Margaret River wine region, Willyabrup is surrounded by open water on three sides and the vineyards are swept by pure, cool sea breezes blowing in from the Indian and Southern Oceans, retaining the aromatic perfume of the grapes. The gravel subsoil ensures good drainage, while the high clay content enables good water retention throughout the summer for vine development. The vines are trained using vertical shoot positioning.

All grapes were hand picked on the same day, in the early cool hours of the morning, then chilled to preserve finesse and aroma. The fruit was then hand sorted and cold pressed as whole bunches. The juice was left to settle and ferment naturally. Once fermentation began, the wine was transferred to neutral French oak barrels. 10% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation to add complexity and creaminess. The barrels were hand stirred every two weeks to enhance texture. The wine was bottled after 10 months in oak.

Clear pale straw in colour. Complex aromas including peach blossom, honeysuckle and citrus, with subtle honey, almond and tropical fruit. The wine is full-bodied and almost creamy on the palate with touches of lemon, lime, honey and cream. The finish lingers with hints of lemon meringue.

£29.80

Larry Cherubino Cherubino Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (1x 75cl)

Named ‘Winery of the Year’ by James Halliday and Matt Skinner, Larry Cherubino wants his wines to be distinctive and to speak clearly of their variety and vineyard site. He believes in paying meticulous attention to the vineyard, canopy and water management, picking at the right time and minimal intervention in the winery.  From delicate whites to opulent reds, all his wines have pure class and finesse.

The warm, dry summer cooled off in April, allowing the fruit to develop at a leisurely pace. The Margaret River had an outstanding, above average rainfall during the winter and spring months. The 2014 vintage has provided excellent quality yields, with incredibly fresh and vibrant fruit.

The Margaret River wine region is located in Western Australia and in less than 50 years has grown to become one of the world's great wine producing regions. The fruit is grown in the Wilyabrup subregion, in a north facing vineyard, with lateritic, red loam soils. The area is influenced by the Indian Ocean and this maritime climate lends itself to ideal viticulture conditions, with cooling sea breezes mitigating the warm summer temperatures. The vines were planted in 1998.

The fruit was hand harvested, transported to the winery where it was cooled overnight and then carefully sorted. A gentle maceration and fermentation took place at temperatures ranging from 12 to 27°C, lasting for approximately six weeks, with minimal pump-overs. The wine was pressed to tank and then allowed to settle for seven days, prior to oak maturation.

This wine has aromas of red earth with a compote of berries and fine nuances of dried bay leaf. There is a freshness to this wine that is the perfect foil to the dusty earthy notes. The oak is gentle with delicate spice notes, soft tannins and a long complex finish.

£34.15

Benoit Courault La Coulee 2015 (1x75cl)

Benoit Courault is a young and established vigneron in Faye d’Anjou, a little village south of Angers along the Layon river. Not a son of a winemaker, early on, Ben decided to study wine. He went to Beaune. From 2003 until 2006, he worked with the famous vigneron Eric Pfifferling from Domaine L’Anglore in Tavel.

Back in his native Loire, he found 5ha of vineyards and started his estate in 2006. Benoit’s aim is to propose authentic wines of excellent quality produced with a constant concern for the natural balance of life cycles, a statement that you will find on his label “Vignes cultives dans le respect du vivant”. Ben’s practices are simple and traditional, organic farming, use of the horse, natural vinification, very little use of sulfites, no fining and no filtration. 

£18.80

Bodega Cecchin Graciana 2015 (6x 75cl)

The first members of the Cecchin family came from Italy to Argentina in 1910 and found work in the local vineyards.  In 1959, Jorge and Pedro Cecchin fulfilled their dream of owning their own land by acquiring 11 hectares of vineyards and olive groves, and the winery which dates back to 1901. Bodegas Cecchin have been certified organic both in the vineyards and in the processing of grapes since 2005.

In addition to the vineyards which are planted with a wide range of varieties, Bodega Cecchin also has peach and apricot orchards, olive groves and walnut and almond groves to add to the biodiversity of the estate.   

The wine is fermented in 12000 litre vats at a controlled temperature after which malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur.  The wine is then filtered but not fined before bottling.

The grape variety of Rioja shows a relaxed countenance in Mendoza. The fruit is soft - more on the strawberry side - with a touch of liquorice and herbal seasoning.  

 

£70.50

Domaine Richaud Terre De Galets Cotes Du Rhone 2015 (1x75cl)

Domaine Richaud might be situated closer to the Languedoc than Burgundy, but stylistically Marcel Richaud sees himself as having more in common with the Côte d'Or. He is dismissive of what he describes as the over-extracted styles of the south. The key, he says, is balance and this begins in the meticulous vineyards. His new winery has a succession of smaller tanks, giving greater flexibility for blending smaller parcels of wine.

The vineyards cover 30 hectares outside the village of Cairanne, on the road to Rasteau in the Côtes du Rhône. The vines are bush trained and low yielding and are 30 years old on average. Yields are approximately 38-45 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes for this wine are grown in des Garrigues, Paligot and Beauchières vineyards. The soil consists of sand, gravel and stones, dating back to the 300,000 years BC in the valleys of Algues and Ouveze. The vineyards are certified organic by Ecocert.

The traditional vinification took place in concrete tanks where the wine remained until bottling, after which it was stored in temperature-controlled underground cellars until the release to the market.

This wine is light garnet colour, with notes of red fruits and black olive. Fresh and balanced on the palate, with hints of violets.

£17.60

Ken Forrester Dirty Little Secret Chenin Blanc 2015 (1x 75cl)

** SEE AVAILABILITY NOTE BELOW **

Without the efforts of men like Ken Forrester, South African Chenin Blanc might be scarcely more than a footnote to the country’s recent winemaking history.  This Zambia-born former restaurateur saw beyond the grape’s obvious quaffability, placing it firmly at the centre of his resurrection of the historic Scholtzenhof farm on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg mountain in the early 1990s.
Twenty years on, Ken is affectionately known as ‘Mr Chenin’. 

When not revolutionising the South African wine industry, Ken remains a staunch family man, also surrounded by a veritable menagerie of several dogs, horses, stable cats, geese, owls and guineafowl. And he hasn’t entirely left his restaurant days behind – Ken part-owns renowned nearby restaurant 96 Winery Road with his brother Allan (also restaurant manager), winemaker Martin Meinert and chef Natasha Wray.

This wine is made by soaking the grape juice on the skins and stalks before pressing takes place in wooden vats. The fermentation is done using wild or natural yeasts after which malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur before the wine is moved into French oak barrels for a 5-month "rest" before being bottled with no filtration.

The result is a tight, bright, minerally wine with  good texture and mouthfeel and an interesting hint of phenolic structure - like soft acidity and pear drop intensity.  It has been built to age and gain complexity in bottle.

The Ken Forrester Winery have taken a trip backwards in time to make a thoroughly modern wine. A wine that will age beautifully for at least the next ten years, a tribute to the age and concentration of the vines, as well as to low, very low interruptive winemaking, a natural wine in every sense and finally bottled totally naturally with no cold stabilization or fining and it is crystal clear, slightly golden in a good way, with a still lime green rim and how did they do that? Well it's unfiltered, unfined ... and just a Dirty Little Secret - naturally!

Very vibrant in the glass  - a bright gold with green glint to the rim. Nose is intense but restrained, with lots of character: set honey, baked apple strudel, warm spice and a touch of grapefruit. The palate is concentrated and tight but will open out. What you find on the nose transfers to the pallet, but with a fresh acidity holding it together. A beautiful texture. This should hold together over the next 10-20 yrs. (Exel's thanks to importer John for this tasting note).

** CURRENTLY NOT IN STOCK WITH US OR AT THE UK IMPORTER, BUT EXPECTED BY LATE DECEMBER. WE NEED FIRM ORDERS BY THE END OF NOVEMBER IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE SOME. SUPPLY IS VERY TIGHT **

£55.20

Gabrielskloof Elodie Chenin Blanc 2015 (1x 75cl)

Gabriëlskloof is a beautiful wine estate located near Bot River in the Overberg region east of Cape Town. It was purchased in 2001 by Bernhard Heyns, who had been on the lookout for the ideal place to plant vines. After planting, his first vintage was in 2009. We felt compelled to add Gabriëlskloof to our list because Peter-Allan Finlayson, Bernhard’s son in law, took over as winemaker from the 2015 vintage. The farm has 300 hectares, with 68 hectares planted to vines. The climate is cool with maritime influences coming from Walker Bay. The vineyards are farmed sustainably with the aim to move to organic farming in the future.

The two vineyards used to make this wine are situated in the Paardeberg region of the Swartland. Both are estimated to be over 35 years old. They are dryland bush vine vineyards and have never been irrigated. These vineyards are very labour intensive to farm and, as a result of the arid conditions, yield little fruit (between one and three tonnes per hecatre). South Africa is the only New World country that has significant plantings of old-vine Chenin Blanc and Elodie is an expression of what can be made from this national treasure.

The grapes were whole bunch pressed with no additions. After an overnight rough settling in tank, the juice was transfered to 400 and 500 litre old French oak barrels, where it fermented wild and remained until blending before bottling.

This wine is light and pale in colour with a golden straw hue. On the nose, subtle aromas of citrus pith and white floral notes settle into layers of almond, dried pineapple and lanolin. The palate is restrained with a viscous, waxy mouthfeel and great natural acidity and freshness typical of old vine Chenin.

£19.65
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