New Year, New Decanter.
In which are featured some exciting new wines, to us (certainly) and hopefully also to you. It's a month for the Pinot-head, for sure, as the cover is quick to point out...
The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine appear on each product page.
The two panel reviews this month are certainly in at the quality end.
One is of a review of 2010 top-end Northern Rhône reds: that's Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and Cornas.
A personal note here: these retrospectives of 2010 have been, at one and the same time, both fascinating and deeply frustrating. Keen readers of Decanter (and this blog) may recall that this tasting time travel has, in the last 12 months, been performed for all of Chianti Classico, Rioja, Left Bank Bordeaux and Californian Cabernet. Fascinating, it is, to see how these fine categories have aged and developed over the decade from such a fine vintage; high scores there are a-plenty. Which is great if you already own these wines. It's deeply frustrating that, in this particular review, none of the top-scorers actually seem to be available: we went hard after those that might be and were at all affordable (mainly the Cornas), only to find that stocks were long since depleted in France. Decanter do, we realise, list suppliers, but these suppliers are those for the more recent/current vintages. If you're looking for these 2010 wines - genuinely - good luck to you. (And if you find any, do let me know, as I'd like some...)
The other panel review is altogether more current-day. It's of New World, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs. Die-hard Burgundy fans may roll their eyeballs at this point, but there are some fine, fine wines here, principally from New Zealand (very principally Martinborough and Central Otago), Chile (especially Leyda), South Africa (the Hemel-en-Ardes) and - to a lesser extent - Oregon, Australia (Victoria and Tasmania) and California. The single-vineyard aspect is interesting. It does, of course, seek to replicate/reflect a structure similar to that of the Burgundian climat and lieu-dit, very much bringing the much-talked-of sense of place/terroir into the equation. As Decanter point out, though, what constitutes a single vineyard can be as long as a piece of string and perhaps the more important aspect here is that the term single-vineyard is largely a synonym for flagship or top-of-range.
What emerges? One Exceptional (98+ points), 6 Outstandings (95+) and 43 Highly Recommendeds (90+). We can offer a handful of these, or close vintage fits to them.
The Exceptional is no surprise, AND IS ALAS SOLD OUT, being Crystallum's Cuvée Cinema 2018 from SA's Hemel-en-Arde valley: this boutique producer have been producing some super-fine Pinots for a decade. Thing is, they're very, very hard to source. We have just a very few bottles to offer, and only one per (very) lucky customer. We see competitors offering this wine in Decanter, but a bit of chasing shows just a handful of bottles actually available for retail, with Crystallum's sole importer directing almost all supply to top-end restaurants (no slight is intended; this is often just how it is with such scarce wines).
We do marginally better with the Outstandings. Two of our favourite, top-end New World producers account for two of them. Alas, Tolpuddle's 2018 from Tasmania is, for now, also all restaurant-bound, and the 96-point, 2017 vintage of Craggy Range's Te Muna Road is not due into the UK for 9 months(+) to ensure the 2016 sells through first (annoying, we know). Believe me, we wanted this one here. Do note, though, that the 2016 is quite excellent, landing, as it did, a Gold medal at DWWA19 and very high praise; how it might have fared in this review we cannot tell as the stipulation of the panel was latest release.
Prime value/best priced among the Outstandings - albeit still £30+ - is the 95-point Schubert Block B 2016 from NZ's Martinborough. Now this, we have in good quantity and it is indeed glorious, rich, concentrated, complex (ie really quite savoury and gamey) and persistent. "A stunning wine" said one panel reviewer. Yup, what he said.
If you're really seeking something at less than £20 - and many are - you have to drop to the Highly Recommendeds. From Chile, Viña Leyda's Las Brisas 2018 (92 points) at ~£15 has just arrived in the UK, while Montes' Outer Limits 2017 (also 92 points) - "delicious, classy Pinot" - at £20.20 is a very fine contender.
See also, from NZ, from Marlborough and Otago respectively, Saint Clair's Pioneer Block 14 Doctor's Creek 2017 (92 points, £18.35, "lovely balance of fruit") and the DWWA Gold Wild Earth 2016 (92 points, £21.20, "silky on the palate").
One further addition from us: some may recall the Chilean Pinot review-topper from October - the single-vineyard, Viña Tabali Talinay 2015 - that landed 95 points. We adore this, especially at £17.95. We thought it was all gone in Chile; turns out it isn’t. It didn't get submitted for this New World panel (we surmise owing to the 2015 vintage being almost depleted and the new vintage being not yet on release). We certainly believe it would have fared very well. And we have secured new supplies, now on sale.
Beyond Pinot Noir, Tandem (of Navarra) produce a great 100% Garnacha at a superb price and it's duly recognised in Weekday Wines.