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Decanter Jan 19

The last Decanter of 2018 (to you and me; it's officially the first one of 2019) is out. And we rather like it.

The wines featured this month - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. For our full compendium of over 400 Decanter-rated wines from the last two years, please click here.

The big article of the month - as you can see - is "The Most Exciting Wines of 2018". We'll be coming back to that in just a moment.

We're most excited about a 98-point super-favourite of ours that features in an excellent feature: "The Top 20 Sweet and Fortified Wines for Christmas". It's a niche category for some, we know, but an essential for others.

That 98-pointer: the legend (an over-used term, we realise, but it's truly applicable here) that is South Africa's - and Klein Constantia's - Vin de Constance, now into its 2015 vintage. For many, it needs no introduction. For others: it's a raisined (rather than botrytised) dessert wine/sticky of the very highest order - favoured by Napoleon, aristocracy, famous writers alike (see this excellent video) - where it stands among the true greats of dessert wines. Indeed, article author/taster Andy Howard MW judges this vintage to be "as impressive as Chateau d'Yquem"... that's serious praise indeed. The 2014 vintage (96 points, and one that itself broke many records) is also available from Exel.

It may be an extravagance, but rest assured you are seeing this at a UK-best price (bonded prices aside). See the product pages on each vintage (esp the 2015) for heaps more information, including of all the gongs won.


Klein Constantia

Vin de Constance 2015

£45.75

 

But that's far from all in this sweet-toothed feature. Another long-term Exel NZ stalwart, the Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2015 (already a Best In Show/Platinum at the DWWAs 2018) clocks in with 93 points, while Clare Valley's Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling lands 94 (alas, the rated 2017 vintage is all gone in the UK - we offer the 2018).

Among the Ports, our stand-out number is the recently-released Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2004: their blisteringly good, single-quinta Port at an excellent £27, which (we get asked this next bit frequently) is drinking beautifully now.

But what of these Most Exciting Wines? Decanter drew together a broad panel of experts and a good many of the high-scoring wines of 2018 (many seen also on these pages) and re-tasted them. The pick of the bunch made the cut for the article... and we offer 6 of the 50-strong line-up (some, as ever and annoyingly, are no longer available and many others are infernally hard to source). In the mix are:

  • Rioja's Roda 1 2011 (95 points) - a luxury/boutique Rioja of great class, from a vintage we adore, drinking superbly at the moment (it wowed us at a recent tasting here) but with many happy years ahead;
  • Ata Rangi's Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 (94 points) - this also scored brilliantly in September's NZ whites review, but there was virtually none available in the UK. A new shipment arrives in 10 days: wade in for this sumptuous NZ PG!
  • still in New Zealand, the hard-to-get-hold-of (be warned) Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2015 (93 points) from much-acclaimed winemaker Matt Thomson. NZPNs always sell like the hottest of cakes when they pop up in reviews like these, so (to mix baking and skating metaphors in the same sentence), we politely suggest the donning of ice-related footwear;
  • the Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2013 (94 points) - an Exel shop favourite and one of the most higly-acclaimed English Fizzes (how we hate that term, but what can you do? .... suggestions welcome) of recent years;
  • Arras are one of the great names of Tasmania; their Grand Vintage Brut 2007 has scored highly in the past and lands 93 points again here; it's a seriously clasy alternative to Champagne; and

Beyond, the panel reviews of the month are for

  • Quality Prosecco (this is more exciting - we've seven rated wines here, pick of the bunch for scores and quality being the 91-point Bisol Crede and the 91-point Ruggeri Giall'Oro; all seven wines are shown below).

There are also features on

  • changes in the chefs de cave of some at the great Champagne producers (two wines here from Bruno Paillard); and

Finally, the Wines of the Month/Weekday Wines look rather festive and feature an old favourite from Greywacke, the month's Must-Try Red from Donnafugata (94 points) and a glorious Austrian Blaufrankisch from Heinrich.

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Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015 (1x50cl)

Awarded 98 points and Exceptional status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below).

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

Even better than the 2014 release - and that was a spectacular sweet wine - the 2015 Vin de Constance is one of the greatest ever vintages of this iconic sticky. More Barsac than Sauternes in terms of weight, it’s fresh and refined, a bit like the 2012, with citrus and orange zest balancing the 172 grams of sugar. The oak is perfectly judged; the length and freshness, things of wonder". 98 points, Tim Atkin, South Africa Report 2018

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the UK importer.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2015 - fiche technique ...

... and this detailed information pack on the wine and this vintage ...

... and (perhaps best of all) this video for more details on the wine.

Golden hued, deep amber in appearance. First nose is of freshly dried pineapples with hints of vanilla and roasted almonds. Heady woodspice scents intermingle with fresh mandarin, lemongrass and mango. The seamless palate is elegantly structured, with ripe tropical flavours of mango. and pineapple. Raisined Muscat flavours provide concentrated acidity and a piercing lift to the seemingly endless finish. Will mature for at least a further 25 years.

£45.75

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2016 (1x 37.5cl Half)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below).

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2016 - January 2019 Decanter review

Awarded a Platinum Medal and 97 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

Also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Category (Best New Zealand Sweet) at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2016 - August 2017 Decanter review

This is special stuff. Made with extreme care by Seifried in NZ’s South Island, the Sweet Agnes is pure, late-harvested Riesling: left on the vine, the grapes gain even greater ripeness, lose moisture and so become incredibly sweet (the wine’s sugar content is ~180g/litre). It’s almost amber in colour, and its flavours include lemon sherbet, marmalade, tropical fruits and butterscotch. It’s quite irresistible on its own and delicious with fruity puddings or tangy cheeses (particularly blue cheeses: it really is amazing with these).

To see the winemakers notes on this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2016 - fiche technique

£20.30

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2004 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highlky Recomended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below) ...

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2004 - January 2019 Decanter review

... and further endorsed in the same edition by a 93-point review in a review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2004 - January 2019 Decanter review

"This '04 has a lovely perfume and energy in the structure that drives it forward... This is the most powerful wine we tasted from this vintage, only hinting at its more delicate complexities that may emerge with time". Score: 94, Wine & Spirits Magazine

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the UK importer.

Taylor's Quinta de Vargellas 2004 - fiche technique

The 2003/2004 winter was very dry, having only rained 1/3 of the quantity registered the previous winter. The lack of water during the early part of the growing season led to very little pressure from disease. Our concern in July was mainly one of doubting the vines capacity to ripen the grapes due to the drastic shortage of water. The vintage stood out for the perfect weather conditions for the whole period. The young Ports showed good structure with very fresh berry fruit aromas, resulting from the cooler than normal ripening period.

Powerful, pungent, aromatic nose with ripe, rich, juicy, berry fruit aromas; overlaid with wonderful characteristic floral notes. This wine has a bouquet with great depth and layers of intense fresh fruit. On the palate, the freshness of berry fruit continues, combining with rich chocolate and liquorice flavours of equal intensity. The tannins are firm but well integrated, resulting in a beautifully structured and balanced wine. Texturally the wine is smooth and silky, leaving one with the sensation of a well crafted, stylish, extremely elegant wine.

£27.15

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling half bottle 2018 (1x37.5cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below). Alas, the 2017 is all sold out at the UK importer; we offer the 2018 here.

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling half bottle 2018 - January 2019 Decanter review

Mount Horrocks Wines is run by proprietor/winemaker Stephanie Toole. Stephanie restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per annum in order to achieve her aims of quality and single vineyard expression. Stephanie describes her wines as 'essentially hand made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours'. All grapes are 100% estate grown from three separate vineyard sites totalling nearly 10 hectares which were 'A grade certified' by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). In 2014, her persistence with classic, no-compromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream.

The grapes were hand picked from the Mount Horrocks 'Cordon Cut' vineyard in Auburn, Clare Valley. In the winery, the bunches were gently handled under conditions that ensured the varietal and site-specific flavours in the resultant wine were retained.

‘Cordon Cut’ refers to a unique process which involves cutting the canes when the grapes are ripe, allowing the remaining fruit to concentrate and raisin naturally on the vine. This results in intense flavour and richness. Stephanie's experience came into play once again, as the fermentation of fruit in five separate fermentation vats was halted when she determined the flavour to be right. Considerable residual sugar remained, with 185 grams per litre.

This wine is bright pale gold with floral and citrus Riesling aromas, intense and spicy. Delicious light lemon curd and vanilla notes, distinctive sweet lime and pear juice, at once delicate and intense, sensual on the tongue, long and fine with beautiful balance.

£20.10

Lustau Almacenista Palo Cortado NV (1x 50cl)

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Lustau Almacenista Palo Cortado NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Almacenistas are independent professionals or entrepreneurs who have been historically producing and ageing Sherry. The love and care of the Almacenista for their activity is shown in their limited soleras of the finest and rarest sherries. These soleras are still operated by the original artisanal methods. Lustau was founded in 1896 by an Almacenista itself and has wanted to pay a tribute to this anonymous role in the Sherry trade by creating this very special range of Sherries.

To see an extensive fiche technique / information sheet on this sherry by Lustau, please click on the blue link below.

Lustau Almacenista Palo Cortado - fiche technique

Bright gold in colour with amber reflections. A delicate yet pungent nose, with nutty aromas. Velvety and smooth on the palate. Its endless length has a comforting bitterness that leaves the palate refreshed and ready for more.

£23.70

Bodegas Roda 1 Rioja 2011 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Bodegas Roda 1 Rioja 2011 - January 2019 Decanter review

Roda was founded in 1987 by Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella. They arrived in La Rioja with the firm intention of creating a project able to provide the world of winemaking with something new. This is where their fascinating, ambitious, exigent and unprecedented adventure began. Bodegas Roda is located at the edge of the river Ebro, in the Railway Station District (Barrio de la Estación) in Haro. 

Roda uses bush vines that are over 30 years old and yields are limited to 1.5 kgs per vine to encourage phenolic maturity which results in depth and complexity on the palate. The 14 Tempranillo vineyards used to produce Roda I are located near Haro, the historic heart of La Rioja Alta. Aged in French oak barriques for 16 months (50% new and 50% second use) and 36 months in bottle prior to release. The “high” temperatures in March and April caused an early budding of 15 days compared to 2010. During the month of July, the temperatures dropped, the average monthly temperature of 19ºC, and the differences with 2010 were reduced to one week at veraison. The low rainfall in the summer months and the high temperatures of August and September, with a lower production of the vineyard, made that the harvest come early, between 15 and 20 days, compared to 2010.

High layer with dark red background. The Roda I 2011 has a beautiful nose, intense with black fruit and reddish details. The plum becomes the protagonist among cherries and sweet spices. There are waves of aromas that rise from the depth leaving memories of earth and minerals. The wood is almost imperceptible among the spices. The mouth is wide, powerful and delicate at the same time. Very cozy and pleasant, combining sweetness and freshness. The tannin is very fine and you can feel, between the silkiness of the black plums, the chocolate notes and the memory of a cigar box.

£40.50

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 (1x 75cl)

** SEE DELIVERY NOTE BELOW **

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of "Alternative" New Zealand Whites (not Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) (see blue link below)...

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

This is a very classic Pinot Gris originally influenced by the style of wines from Alsace but developed over the years into their own, uniquely Martinborough style. The vines from which this wine was produced are now 22 years old. With roots that have driven metres deep into the gravels, they consistently deliver fruit with heightened texture and flavour.

Fruit was hand-picked and whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. The resulting juice was then cold settled, inoculated and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at temperatures of 14-18°C. 20% of the wine was fermented in three year old 500 litre oak puncheons to give extra weight and complexity to the final blend. In both cases, the wine was left on lees for several months. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place. The wine was bottled in August 2016.

The up-front aromas evoke fresh cut pear, custard, pecans and lychees. The palate offers a creamy entry, with concentration and texture. The finish is long, dry and imbued with the flavour of fresh walnut and a hint of smoke. With just a few grams of residual sugar, Pinot Gris is a delicious stand-alone aperitif. It is also one of our favourite food and wine matching choices, especially for anything with heady spice and/or challenging flavours. The wine shows complexity and will benefit from bottle age.

** A NEW SHIPMENT OF THIS WINE IS EXPECTED INTO THE UK AROUND 10th DECEMBER AND WINES WILL BE SENT OUT IMMEDIATELY THEY ARRIVE. NOTE THAT OTHER WINES IN THE SAME CUSTOMER ORDER WILL BE SENT OUT AT THE SAME TIME UNLESS WE CAN BATCH THAT ORDER WITHOUT ADDITIONAL SHIPPING COST. **

£23.00

Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 - January 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com(see blue link below) in their Summer 2018 review of English sparkling wine.

Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 - Decanter review

For a full description of this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Gusbourne themselves (click blue link below)

Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 - fiche technique

A bright golden colour with a delicate mousse, the Blanc De Blancs has classic Chardonnay aromas of green apple, citrus and mineral notes combined with buttered toast and tarte tatin richness from extended lees ageing. This wine is a great accompaniment to seafood in general, but is perfect with freshly shucked oysters.

£40.00

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

"What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious". 94 pointsTom Cannavan's wine-pages.com - see here for a fuller review from Tom of Blank Canvas's work

Matt Thomson is a busy winemaker. He has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world and has worked with David Gleave MW since 1994. He is involved with many wines, primarily as a consultant. “Now is the time to launch my own wines,” he says. “Blank Canvas represents my story as a winemaker. It is an endeavour that is entirely my own expression of winemaking, is from my own funding, and is exclusively my risk.” The ‘Blank Canvas’ is the vineyard and the variety, the winery the brush and palette (no pun intended) at the winemaker’s disposal, all the while defined by the scientific grounding Matt laid at university and has built upon over the past 23 years. His aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but in order to break the rules, he feels, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.

This Pinot Noir is sourced from a single vineyard that Matt oversaw the planting of in 2001. It is situated in the old clay soils of the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The soil naturally gives low yields, but they also crop thinned during the ripening of the fruit. As a result the berries were small and concentrated with flavour. It is made exclusively from Clone 115, a Dijon clone which is selected for its tannins and impressive savoury fruit characters.

The 2015 vintage in Marlborough was one of the earliest and driest in recent years, with rainfall being just 40% of the long-term average while growing degree days were 10% more. For Pinot Noir, this resulted in lower yields, smaller bunch weights and more concentrated, impressive fruit.

The handpicked bunches were cold-soaked for five days before undergoing wild fermentation. Lots of hand-plunging took place and a large proportion of whole bunch fermentation (50%) made this particularly challenging. Coupled with a savoury low-toast oak regime of new and seasoned oak, and barrel maturation of 10 months, the winemaking has given this Pinot Noir finesse, elegance and power.

Aromas of bright raspberry, red cherry and delicate violet intertwine with seductive savoury characters. It possesses the silky Pinot Noir texture that is so often strived for, and has a structure that is likened to the Old World with big but elegant tannins set amongst a balanced backbone of acidity. It will become more complex with cellaring, with years of evolution ahead of it.

£23.60

House of Arras, Grand Vintage Brut, Tasmania 2007 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

House of Arras, Grand Vintage Brut, Tasmania 2007 - January 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2017 edition feature on Tasmania (see blue link below).

Arras Grand Vintage 2007 - November 2017 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards Rhone Section  (see blue link below).

Arras Grand Vintage 2007- 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards

Ed Carr, the man behind Arras, has been making sparkling wines in Australia since 1986 and for the Hardy's group since 1994. He was one of the first winemakers to see the potential Tasmanian fruit had for producing world class sparkling wine and has been producing Arras solely with Tasmanian fruit since the 1998 vintage. Much to the horror of the accountants, however, he has insisted on ageing the wines on lees for over six years prior to release, something that increases both their cost and complexity.

For more than a decade, the House of Arras team has been identifying and developing the ideal vineyard sites for world class sparkling wine, which led them to call the ancient soils and cold climate of Tasmania home. Its climate is significantly cooler than the mainland, with long summer daylight and maritime influences, which are ideal conditions for long, slow and consistent fruit development. The House of Arras sources fruit from many outstanding vineyards in southern Tasmania and the south-east coast. Each location bestows its own nuances of character on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit.

Fruit for this wine was hand-picked from cold climate Tasmanian vineyards prior to gentle whole bunch pressing, from which only free run juice was collected. Primary fermentation was undertaken on light lees, followed by 100% malolactic fermentation. Once clarified, the wines were judiciously blended to style, bottled as tirage and matured in cool, dark storage for a minimum of eight years before disgorgement.

The appearance is crystal clear with an ultrafine and persistent bead, medium straw with a bright yellow gold lustre. The bouquet expresses enticing aromas of grapefruit, jasmine flowers, sea brine and lychee. The palate has great elegance and poise with complex nuances of exotic spice, truffle, meringue and naural yogurt.

£35.65

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

The Première Cuvée is a very personal interpretation of the Champagne region and is the flagship of the Bruno Paillard style. A top quality wine, the Première Cuvée has the ability to survive any harvest The blend is made usingonly the first pressing of the grapes to extract only the purest juice - Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%), part of which (20%) was in barrel for the first fermentation. This champagne is a blend of 25 vintages, dating back to 1985. Ageing takes place over a period of time that is always longer than the legal requirement; three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. 

The golden straw colour is indicative of the exclusive use of the first pressing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The primary aromas are of citrus - lime and grapefruit. Then the red fruits aromas start to appear - redcurrant, raspberry, morello cherries. When left to open up in the glass, the wine shows hints of dried fruits, which are sometimes exotic. The palate is lively and vivacious, thanks to a low dosage. The aromas on the nose are echoed in the mouth. There are primary flavours of citrus, almonds, and toasted bread, followed by redcurrant jelly but also dark fruits like cherry, fig and blackberry. As the wine opens up in the glass, and gets warmer, it expresses light plum and pear flavours. The palate is full, quite long with a very clean finish. The Premiere Cuvee champagne is an excellent aperitif. It matches divinely with cheese (Brie de Meaux, Camembert, aged salers), poultry and shellfish.

£36.80

Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Rose NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee Rose NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

A hymn to the bright delicacy of Pinot Noir, the Premiere Cuvee Rosé is named on account of its composition of only the first pressing. This multi-vintage rosé, made with Pinot Noir, is created in two ways: 1. White wine from Pinot Noir: after a quick pressing, and a fast separation of the skins, the juice is very pale and can be vinified as a white wine. 2. Red wine from Pinot Noir: is obtained by a prolonged maceration of the juice on the skins. A touch of Chardonnay brings the necessary vivacity to balance the fruits of Pinot Noir.

The blend is a first pressing of mainly Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay, the amount of which remains a secret. The reserve wines are a blend of 25 vintages, going back to 1985. The champagne is aged for three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. This wine has a very low dosage, (labelled as Extra Brut) at less than 6g per litre. It is a very pure wine.

The pink copper colour with a hint of raspberry when young evolves to salmon while ageing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The initial aromas of redcurrant and red fruits evolve to morello cherry, wild strawberry and violet while breathing in the glass. A touch of lemon denotes the discrete presence of Chardonnay. With age, aromas tend towards dark fruits like dark cherry, fig and blackberry. The palate reveals red fruit captured at full freshness. The finish is bright and long.

Pale in colour yet with a distinctive hue. This Cuvee has finesse and purity but is very fine and fresh. With subtle cherries, strawberries and nice overall acidity.

£46.20

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.

"Crede" is a dialect word for clay, which is a defining feature of the terrain in Valdobbiadene in which the grapes for this Prosecco Superiore are cultivated. These ancient slopes - at one time the seabed - were formed as the land slowly buckled and curved upwards, arranging the strata of the soil almost vertically.

To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore - fiche technique

£16.80

Bisol Jeio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bisol Jeio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut NV - January 2019 Decanter review

In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.

The minerality of the Conegliano hills combines with the characteristically delicate acidity of the Valdobbiadene terroir to inject life into Jeio Brut, a Prosecco Superiore that invigorates the palate. 

With its fresh personality and decisive notes of golden apple, citrus, and spring blossom, this is the perfect wine for drinking throughout a whole meal. It also makes a superb companion to a round of sophisticated hors d’oeuvres.

To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.

Bisol Jeio Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut NV - fiche technique

£13.69

Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco Superiore 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco Superiore 2016- January 2019 Decanter review

"Ruggeri - hands down, this is one of the top five Prosecco producers", Decanter, July 2013

The Ruggeri winery was established in 1950 by Giustino Bisol, whose family boasts a deeply rooted, centuries-old tradition in viticulture in the Valdobbiadene area.  The winery was established in Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene to produce and promote the sparkling Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze wines. It was originally housed in small premises in the village of Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene. After a temporary move to a larger site in the centre of the village, in the early Nineties it was relocated to new, larger and more rational premises which can receive and process almost 3,000 tons of grapes which are brought there every harvest. Today the winery is run by Paolo Bisol, who is assisted by his children Giustino and Isabella.

The Prosecco Superiore DOCG grapes are usually delivered by over a hundred vine-growers. Nearly all of them have their vineyards in the municipality of Valdobbiadene, while 25 also grow Cartizze grapes. It should be noted that many of the superior vineyards lie in the historic districts of San Pietro di Barbozza. Santo Stefano and Saccol, which have always been renowned for producing the best in terms of quality. Ruggeri owns a small vineyard of Cartizze and 20 hectares on the nearby Montello, 12 of them are cultivated with Pinot Grigio and Glera (traditionally called Prosecco). About 1 hectare is dedicated to the growing of Recantina, an ancient and authochtonous red grape variety which was recovered thanks to the hard work of cooperation with the Istituto Sperimentale Per la Viticoltura di Conegliano (School of Viticulture of Conegliano).

This wine is called “Vecchie Viti” (Old Vines) because the fruit comes from old vines scattered around the hills of Valdobbiadene’s territory and not from a single vineyard. Of course, it is difficult to determinate with absolute precision the age of these vines, but they are between 80 and 100 years old. To produce this wine Ruggeri need the cooperation of numerous farmers and owners of the best vineyards in San Pietro, Santo Stefano, Cartizze, Guia and Saccol.

The wine which is obtained from the first fermentation after some decanting-operations, is left to ferment until spring and then it is transferred into the pressure-vat. The second fermentation is carried out slowly, with great care. The wine is left in contact with the fine lees until a few days before bottling at the end of June.

A dry example of Prosecco with an exceptional structure with a characteristic bouquet of spring flowers and almonds.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Ruggeri (English at the bottom).

Ruggeri Vecchie Viti Prosecco Superiore 2016 - fiche technique

£24.60

Ruggeri Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Giall Oro Doc NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Ruggeri Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Giall Oro Doc NV - January 2019 Decanter review

"Ruggeri - hands down, this is one of the top five Prosecco producers", Decanter, July 2013

The Ruggeri winery was established in 1950 by Giustino Bisol, whose family boasts a deeply rooted, centuries-old tradition in viticulture in the Valdobbiadene area.  The winery was established in Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene to produce and promote the sparkling Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze wines. It was originally housed in small premises in the village of Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene. After a temporary move to a larger site in the centre of the village, in the early Nineties it was relocated to new, larger and more rational premises which can receive and process almost 3,000 tons of grapes which are brought there every harvest. Today the winery is run by Paolo Bisol, who is assisted by his children Giustino and Isabella.

The Prosecco Superiore DOCG grapes are usually delivered by over a hundred vine-growers. Nearly all of them have their vineyards in the municipality of Valdobbiadene, while 25 also grow Cartizze grapes. It should be noted that many of the superior vineyards lie in the historic districts of San Pietro di Barbozza. Santo Stefano and Saccol, which have always been renowned for producing the best in terms of quality. Ruggeri owns a small vineyard of Cartizze and 20 hectares on the nearby Montello, 12 of them are cultivated with Pinot Grigio and Glera (traditionally called Prosecco). About 1 hectare is dedicated to the growing of Recantina, an ancient and authochtonous red grape variety which was recovered thanks to the hard work of cooperation with the Istituto Sperimentale Per la Viticoltura di Conegliano (School of Viticulture of Conegliano).

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Ruggeri (English at the bottom).

Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Giall'Oro DOC NV - fiche technique

£15.30

Ruggeri Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Quartese (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below). 

Ruggeri Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Quartese - January 2019 Decanter review

See here for a review of the Quartese and a mention of the differences of higher-quality Prosecco.

"Ruggeri - hands down, this is one of the top five Prosecco producers", Decanter, July 2013

The Ruggeri winery was established in 1950 by Giustino Bisol, whose family boasts a deeply rooted, centuries-old tradition in viticulture in the Valdobbiadene area.  The winery was established in Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene to produce and promote the sparkling Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze wines. It was originally housed in small premises in the village of Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene. After a temporary move to a larger site in the centre of the village, in the early Nineties it was relocated to new, larger and more rational premises which can receive and process almost 3,000 tons of grapes which are brought there every harvest. Today the winery is run by Paolo Bisol, who is assisted by his children Giustino and Isabella.

The Prosecco Superiore DOCG grapes are usually delivered by over a hundred vine-growers. Nearly all of them have their vineyards in the municipality of Valdobbiadene, while 25 also grow Cartizze grapes. It should be noted that many of the superior vineyards lie in the historic districts of San Pietro di Barbozza. Santo Stefano and Saccol, which have always been renowned for producing the best in terms of quality. Ruggeri owns a small vineyard of Cartizze and 20 hectares on the nearby Montello, 12 of them are cultivated with Pinot Grigio and Glera (traditionally called Prosecco). About 1 hectare is dedicated to the growing of Recantina, an ancient and authochtonous red grape variety which was recovered thanks to the hard work of cooperation with the Istituto Sperimentale Per la Viticoltura di Conegliano (School of Viticulture of Conegliano).

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Ruggeri (English at the bottom).

Ruggeri Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Quartese DOCG - fiche technique

£12.55

Ruggeri Riserva Giustino B 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below). 

Ruggeri Riserva Giustino B 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

"Ruggeri - hands down, this is one of the top five Prosecco producers", Decanter, July 2013

The Ruggeri winery was established in 1950 by Giustino Bisol, whose family boasts a deeply rooted, centuries-old tradition in viticulture in the Valdobbiadene area.  The winery was established in Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene to produce and promote the sparkling Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze wines. It was originally housed in small premises in the village of Santo Stefano di Valdobbiadene. After a temporary move to a larger site in the centre of the village, in the early Nineties it was relocated to new, larger and more rational premises which can receive and process almost 3,000 tons of grapes which are brought there every harvest. Today the winery is run by Paolo Bisol, who is assisted by his children Giustino and Isabella.

The Prosecco Superiore DOCG grapes are usually delivered by over a hundred vine-growers. Nearly all of them have their vineyards in the municipality of Valdobbiadene, while 25 also grow Cartizze grapes. It should be noted that many of the superior vineyards lie in the historic districts of San Pietro di Barbozza. Santo Stefano and Saccol, which have always been renowned for producing the best in terms of quality. Ruggeri owns a small vineyard of Cartizze and 20 hectares on the nearby Montello, 12 of them are cultivated with Pinot Grigio and Glera (traditionally called Prosecco). About 1 hectare is dedicated to the growing of Recantina, an ancient and authochtonous red grape variety which was recovered thanks to the hard work of cooperation with the Istituto Sperimentale Per la Viticoltura di Conegliano (School of Viticulture of Conegliano).

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Ruggeri (English at the bottom).

Ruggeri Riserva Giustino B DOCG 2016 - fiche technique

£20.25

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

These thoughts from the team at Bellenda sum them up perfectly. "We consider, believe, create: these three words constitute the synthesis of what Bellenda is all about, who we are who work there, our family, and our close bond with our land. We love exploring the vast world of sparkling wine. That is a world that holds an enormous fascination for us and enables us to express ourselves in so many ways: sparkling or semi-sparkling, with or without sediment, classic or Charmat method can be woven and combined together, depending on the fruit from the vineyard, on local traditions, or even on a simple desire to try one’s hand at something never before attempted."

Please click on the blue link below to see an excellent fiche technique for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bellenda.

Bellenda San Fermo Brut - fiche technique

£15.00

Chateau Bernadotte Cru Bourgeois 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting review of Haut-Medoc Bordeaux 2010 (see blue link below). 

Chateau Bernadotte Cru Bourgeois 2010 - January 2019 Decanter review

Formerly known as Chateau Fournas, this estate was renamed Bernadotte in 1997 after a past owner, Marshal Bernadotte, who was the Sovereign Prince under the rule of Napoleon I.  Madame de Lencquesaing, owner of Chateau Pichon Lalande at the time, acquired Chateau Bernadotte in 1997 and proceeded to renovate every aspect of the estate.  

The breakdown of the grapes used in Chateau Bernadotte is as follows: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Their vines are on average 25 years old. 

Vinification takes place in stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks. Malolactic fermentation is then allowed to take place in tank before the wine is aged for 12-18 months in French oak barrels (30% new wood).

"Strong new-wood aromas lead to a palate that is layered with firm tannins, a polished toast character and a sufficient ripe blackberry flavour to balance. This 2010 bottling shows that this is a chateau to watch." Wine Enthusiast 92 points. This wine will be drinking well between 2018 - 2025. It has also received awards from Wine Spectator (90 points) and James Suckling (90 points). Chateau Bernadotte is a very versatile wine that pairs well with most meats, braised or grilled.  It is also perfect when served with hearty fish, pasta, and Asian dishes.

£24.80

Dona Paula Estate Riesling 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition expert tasting/review of South American Riesling (see blue link below). The most recent vintage available in the UK via the sole importer is the (excellent) 2016!

Dona Paula Estate Riesling 2016 - January 2019 Decanter review

Doña Paula is a leading, modern winery at the forefront of exploring and investing in new, high quality wine regions in Argentina. Established in 1997, they own all of their vineyards covering 700 hectares. These vineyard sites are located in the best subregions within Mendoza including Ugarteche, Altamira, Gualtallary and Tupungato. The vineyards have always been cultivated using sustainable methods, maximising the true expression of terroir. Continuous innovation in vineyard management ensures Doña Paula produces top quality wines from one year to the next.

The 2016 vintage was characterised by a delayed growing season, reduced yields and very good quality. An extremely cold spring delayed the plant physiology by three weeks on average, with the growing season continuing at cooler temperatures than average years. The result of the El Niño phenomenon was relatively high humidity and frequent rains. However despite challenging conditions, the grapes were healthy and of good quality at harvest producing wines with excellent varietal expression.

The grapes for the Estate Riesling come from the ‘Alluvia Vineyard’ in Gualtallary, Uco Valley. Situated at 1,350 metres above sea level, the subregion of Gualtallary is renowned for producing elegant and aromatic wines. The climate presents warm days and cool nights, with an average temperature variation of 12.5°C. This diurnal temperature swing encourages a long ripening period, producing a greater concentration of flavours in the grapes while retaining balancing acidity. The vines are cultivated using an espalier training method and are drip irrigated using melted snow-water from the mountains. The vines are grown in sandy soils with alluvial and calcareous stones. The vineyards at Doña Paula are managed sustainably.

The grapes were hand-picked during the first week of March. A very careful destemming and pressing process was carried out in order to protect the high quality of the grapes. A cool fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures of 12 to 15°C, preserving the purity of fruit.

Expressive aromas of jasmine are complemented by zesty citrus notes. Refreshing and beautifully balanced with a marked mineral streak, it has a complex yet attractively delicate character and a long, lifted finish. A delicious apéritif or a wonderful accompaniment to lightly spiced foods.

£11.65

Vina Leyda La Neblina Riesling 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition expert tasting/review of South American Riesling (see blue link below). The most recent vintage available in the UK via the sole importer is the (excellent) 2014!

Vina Leyda La Neblina Riesling 2014 - January 2019 Decanter review

This 100% Riesling wine comes from vineyards located in the fairly-recently-discovered Leyda Valley, located 12 km from the Pacific Ocean. Its closeness to the sea makes it a unique spot for viticulture. Its cool conditions during spring and summer due to maritime influence and summer breezes makes it an extraordinary area for the development of white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling.

These grapes carefully transported to the winery in 400 kg bins and then, selected in stainless steel vibrant sorting table, leaving only the best fruit. Then the clusters were pressed as whole bunches, in pneumatic press at low bars, separating the best quality juice. The juice was chilled down to 8º C and gravity clarified. The fermentation, carried out 100% in stainless steel tank, was at low temperatures (13-14°C, finishing at 16°C) for 18-20 days. After reching dryness, the wine was left on its lees for 6 months to achieve roundness and improve the texture in the palate.

The pureness of this Riesling is shown in its floral, fruity and delightful flavours. They are elegant, mineral, expressive, with papaya, tangy, mandarin fruit and floral hints. It has a creamy texture on the palate, with sweet honey suckle, white fruit, crisp acidity and juicy-lingering ending.

£12.90

Clau de Nell Grolleau 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Clau de Nell Grolleau 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

The vineyards at Clau de Nell have been cultivated biodynamically since 2000. A period of financial difficulty led the previous proprietors to seek help from the late Anne-Claude Leflaive and her husband, Christian Jacques. In 2008, the Leflaive-Jacques family purchased Clau de Nell, which at the time had not produced any wine for three years. Since then, Clau de Nell has enjoyed a successful revival with ex-sommelier Sylvain Potin making the wine and Christian running the domaine.

The domaine is situated in Anjou and is comprised of 8.5 hectares of red varieties planted on a south-facing knoll at 90 metres altitude. The vines range in age from 30 to 90 years old and are low yielding (on average 25 hl/ha). There are five hectares of Cabernet Franc, two hectares of the native Grolleau and one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon. They planted 1.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc in 2012 and the first vintage, 2015, will be released later this year.

2015 was a good year in the Loire, with the same warm, dry summer that many other French regions enjoyed. In Anjou, summer was very dry and the weather during harvest was beautiful. As in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, Anjou saw lower yields due to water deficits and poor flowering. The grapes harvested, however, were still of excellent quality.

All the grapes were hand harvested and 100% destemmed. Fermentation was carried out using indigenous yeasts in oak barrels with gentle punch downs. The wines were then aged for 18 months in old barrels purchased from Domaine Leflaive. The wines were bottled without fining or filtration on fruit days, according to the biodynamic calendar. Minimal sulphur dioxide was used because Sylvain says he likes his wine to taste clean and ‘like wine’.

The Grolleau is crisp and fragrant with blueberry and blackberry aromas. It has a bright acidity with a lingering attractive spice on the finish.

£27.35

Donnafugata Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status - and classed as the month's Must-Try Red - by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Donnafugata Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso 201 - January 2019 Decanter review

The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient cellars tunnel beneath the city. They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing the potential of the region's native varieties. Today, Donnafugata has four estates in Sicily: a modern winery and 283 hectares at Contessa Entellina in the hills east of Marsala; 36 hectares in Vittoria to the south eastern point of the island; 68 hectares on the island of Pantelleria; and 18 hectares on the slopes of Etna. Donnafugata means 'fleeing woman' and is a reference to Queen Maria Carolina, who escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th century with her husband, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, when Napoleon's troops arrived. The couple took refuge in Sicily at the Santa Margherita Belice palace, also the favourite residence of celebrated writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and depicted on the 'Mille e una Notte' label.

The grapes for this wine are grown in vineyards on the north side of Etna, in five districts between Randazzo and Passopiscaro, at altitudes of 730-750 metres above sea level. Soils there are volcanic, deep and rich in minerals, and allow strong root growth. Vines are trained to Vertical Shoot Position, and are planted at a density of about 4,500 plants per hectare.

Autumn and winter saw little rainfall. However, thanks to the loose volcanic soils, the roots of the vines were able to access deep water stores and, therefore, they did not suffer despite the dry weather. Summer temperatures did not reach excessive heights, and some rain towards the end of August helped the vines remain healthy and their growth regular. The grapes were able to ripen slowly and regularly, due to mild temperatures in September and October. 2016 has given wines with intense aromas, harmonious tannins, finesse and balance.

Harvest was carried out by hand between 14th-28th October. Once the clusters reached the winery, they underwent selection on a vibrating table, followed by a final selection, this time by a machine capable of discarding the green and overripe grapes. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 8-10 days at a temperature of 25°C. Ageing took place partly in stainless steel and partly in second and third use French oak barriques for 14 months. After bottling, the wine spent a further seven months in bottle before release.

Pale ruby red in the glass, this wine offers an elegant bouquet of wild berry notes, floral scents and delicate nuances of cinnamon and nutmeg. These characteristics continue through to the palate, supported by freshness and harmonious tannins. The finish is long and balanced.

£26.80

Heinrich Leithaberg Blaufrankisch 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Heinrich Leithaberg Blaufrankisch 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

Gernot Heinrich has 100 hectares of vines in Gols, Burgenland, which is Austria's easternmost province, lying only a few kilometres from the Hungarian border. After graduating in viticulture from Klosterneuberg, Gernot's vinous travels in Bordeaux, Spain, California and Italy convinced him that his best approach in this continental climate was to use indigenous grapes such as Blaufränkisch, St Laurent and Zweigelt to make the highest quality, most characteristic wines he could.

The Blaufränkisch grapes were sourced from old vineyards on the Leithaberg (Leitha Mountain) slopes, 150 - 300 metres above sea level, in the villages of Winden and Breitenbrunn that face southeast toward Lake Neusiedl and have around 20 hectares in total. The soils comprise the fossil-rich limestone, calcareous sandstone, and mica schist that are typical of the region.

The 2015 vintage saw hot, sunny weather throughout summer which was welcomed after the difficult, rainy 2014 vintage. The grapes in 2015 were healthy and ripe, resulting in fruit-forward wines with slightly lower acidity than usual. This was not an issue for a country that typically makes wines with high acidity.

The vineyards are cultivated according to biodynamic regulations. The grapes were handpicked at the beginning of October, then underwent spontaneous fermentation and three weeks maceration on the skins in 3000-litre wooden fermentation vats, with gentle basket pressing. The wine was then matured for 20 months in used 500-litre oak barrels.

This Blaufränkisch has a plethora of aromas, including cherries, peppery spice and earthy notes reminiscent of autumn leaves, fresh truffles and roasted root vegetables. This wine has fine-grained tannins and a powerful, long finish.

£25.80

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 column, "Weekday Wines" (see blue link below).

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - May 2018 Decanter review

The long-since-finished-except-in-magnums 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

A refreshing sorbet-like medley of fresh lychee, grapefruit and honeydew melon laced with flinty minerality and finished with an infusion of mandarin and lime zest. A lively, invigorating wine with persistent grapefruit flavours and a steely blackcurrant tang. Crisp with a long, enduring finish.  

£16.45

Cullen Mangan East Block 2014 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Cullen Mangan East Block 2014 - January 2019 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 Mangan vineyard is dry farmed and maintained using a biodynamic approach to viticulture. Soils are old, granite and gravely sandy loam, overlaying lateric subsoils. The vineyard is located adjacent to the Cullen vineyard in Wilyabrup. The vines are cane and spur pruned.

The growing season was excellent with perfectly timed rainfall – good spring rains and none during the harvest season. Another great vintage with small yields producing concentrated, richer wines with plenty of character.

The grapes were hand harvested from the prime sections of the eastern blocks of the Mangan vineyard. Fruit was then destemmed and vinified with the emphasis on accentuating the fruit character of the grapes. It was naturally fermented, basket pressed and then matured for 17 months in seasoned French oak.

Vibrant deep purple, with violet floral notes complemented by dark fruit and spicy notes. On the palate this wine is structured and dense with plums, bitter chocolate and a hint of sweet spice. Fantastic refined tannins carrying a very long finish.

£29.50

Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (6x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - January 2019 Decanter review

Marion and Brian Smith sold their business in the UK, and after scouring the wine regions of Europe for the perfect place to buy a property, ended up finding it in Elgin, South Africa. Their small farm is planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir… and some apples. Their intention is to keep things small and focussed at Elgin Ridge, using no chemicals. Weeding each row of vines is done by Maddox, a gentle Percheron, who loves ploughing while pest control is performed by ducks patrolling the vineyards. The farm is certified as both organic and biodynamic.

Elgin Ridge Wine Estate sits high on the slopes of a mountain in the Elgin Valley, South Africa. Endless panoramic views stretch over the vineyards to reveal the entire valley surrounded by rocky mountains and filled with lush, green farms. Traditionally Elgin was  renowned for its apple and pear production. However, over the past few decades it has emerged as a top wine region.

The elevated altitude produces conditions ideal for vineyards, and Elgin Ridge is blessed with cold winters and warm summers. The close proximate to the Atlantic Ocean provides cool coastal breezes that keeps the vines healthy when the temperatures rise. The unique conditions mean a longer ripening period for perfectly balanced wines. 

Elgin Ridge’s philosophy of creating Biodynamic and certified Organic wine, made naturally, begins in the vineyard and ends in the bottle. They produce small volumes of wine using perfect fruit from certified Biodynamic and Organic grapes. Every bottle with the Elgin Ridge label truly represents their dedication to quality. Elgin Ridge is 282 metres above sea level, so it seemed appropriate to name this wine by the altitude of the vines planted.

The Elgin Ridge terroir, combined with fully certified organic wine and grapes, that are picked by hand in the cool morning hours, result in a wine that has upfront sweet apricot and peach aromas with classic fresh minerality and a pale yellow colour. It is perfect when served with fish and pasta.

£77.50
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