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Decanter July

In summary, summery. That's the look of the just-today-released Decanter for July.

The magazine ( treads a careful balance between the frippery and frivolity of summer (plenty of easy-going whites and light reds under discussion) and more weighty, classic Decanter fare.

As ever. it's the two main panel reviews that draw the eye. Both are interesting, unusual and out of the main flow of everyday wines, yet are not so esoteric as to render them unworthy of study or investment. As such, we've taken them pretty seriously and sought to make sure we can offer the big hitters of note.

The two panels are:

- Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - we've all three of the 95-point Outstandings here (albeit with one a few weeks away from arriving in the UK). For some, it's a an irreverent, weird fish of a thing to do, putting NZSB in oak. For others, it's very much the best of both worlds, creating a wine of the utmost flavour and great complexity indeed. Even if you think/know oaked NZSB is  not your your glass of wine, it's worth a look - the degree of oak influence in quite a few wines is vanishingly small. More details below.

- 'Value reds' of Portugal's Douro region/valley (and by that, Decanter mean anything less than £20, which is very much the lion's share of Douro reds).This is arguably the more captivating for us of the two July panels. Here again, three wines clear the 95-point, Outstanding threshold. We offer just the one, but feel it's a bit special, hence the focus. More details below.

But this is also a month with a wealth of other high-scoring wines across many features, many at attractive prices  - see below.

The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine from this current Decanter appear on each product page.


So, to these panels. 

Oaked NZSB

It's tempting to say (with apologies), "if you like oak, and you like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (NZSB), you'll LOVE oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc".

But we often find this not to be true.

That's two very strong flavours there and, for some, that would be like a ... er ... kipper vindaloo.

However, we also often find those who love NZSB but claim not to like oak (based often on bad events involving poor 90s oaked Chardonnay), and are very pleasantly surprised - and often fully wowed -  when they run into a good oaked NZSB and all the flavour complexity that is the hallmark of this style.

We've even seen the most devout of white Burgundy aficionados - no fans, typically of the often-unhinged zinginess of NZSB - moved to significant purchase of a good oaked NZSB. Indeed, as the Decanter panel stress, "If you thought you knew NZSB and have previously dismissed it for being overly fruity, perhaps it's time to think again and try some of the alternative styles that Kiwi winemakers are now dishing up". 

As the Decanter panel are at pains to point out, it's all about getting the oak/SB fruitiness balance just right and that's all about subtlety: the three Outstanding panel-toppers veered well away from too much of either. The oak effect is carefully muted/reined back using some combination of

  • big vessels;
  • older (and minimal new) oak;
  • barrel fermentation without oak ageing;
  • fractional blending <ie only a proportion of the wine is subject to oak>;
  • partial malolactic fermentation (MLF) to blunt the edge of overly-biting acidity that may clash with the oak flavours; and
  • naturally-occurring yeasts.

It's also key to use SB grapes that are less "full-on"; that is, those with lower concentrations of heavily aromatic aroma/flavour compounds (mainly thiols, for you chemists out there). Some lees ageing, a bit of bâtonnage, too... these all help to get the flavours melded and integrated. Get these factors under control, give them a little time together and you have a fine specimen.

Two of the three finest specimens from the review are no surprise (at all) to us: they, after all, are by-words for oaked NZSB.

The third, though, is a relative unknown and perhaps the most deserving of your time, especially at the price. Oaked NZSBs, after all, are seldom cheap: the average bottle price of the 3 Outstandings and 18 Highly Recommendeds was almost exactly £20.


1) Cloudy Bay's Te Koko is almost certainly the biggest name in the world in oaked Sauvi Blanc - Mondavi's To Kalon may run it close, as do a few old-school, top-end Pouilly-Fumés. The 2015 Te Koko scores 95 points here and lands much praise. It (like Cloudy Bay itself in NZSB generally) was the pioneer of the more complex NZSB style. It uses wild yeasts, 100% oak (but only 8% of it new) and no steel for fermentation and ageing. "Crisp and vivacious", "evolved beautifully", "zesty and bright palate", "lovely, lingering finish" and "perfectly pitched oak influence", said the panel. It's admittedly £38 a bottle (and quite a bit more elsewhere), but this is arguably THE oaked NZSB.

Cloudy Bay

Te Koko 2015




2) Almost as fabled, but ~60% of the price (£21.95) is the offering from Kevin Judd - he who famously splintered from Cloudy Bay - at Greywacke - their/his Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2016. This has many devout fans at Exel. This is very much about the use of wild yeasts (of course), entailing a very long, slow fermentation in 100% old oak, before time on the lees in steel. The judges were just as enthralled here: "highly floral expression", "fine and focussed throughout", "very pretty indeed", "elegant, seamless palate", "gentle, yet tastes expensive" (!), "impressive depth", "delightful balance" and "really well done". This is one to try, for sure.


Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2016




3) It's been quite a week for the last - but definitely not the least - of the three. On Tuesday, te Pā's Oke 2017 secured a Gold medal at DWWA19 - one of few NZSBs to do so. Today, it lands an Outstanding from a different jury. "Hugely aromatic - reminiscent of ice cream cornets, nougat and vanilla", "beautifully textured and rounded palate", "plenty of concentration", "flowing beautifully on the palate", "stunning", "satisfying depth" and "long, attractive and well-honed", they said. Wild yeasts, old oak barrels (in the odd shape of a cigar to increase surface area) and an extended maturation are the story here.

The great upside of the Oke is the price - just £15.50 a bottle. That's because we're able to take it directly from te Pā and cut out a large chunk of cost. Do disregard the £12 cost reported in the Decanter review - we can see no basis at all for that (and we fully investigated; indeed, we take the wine with the help of the importer listed there!)The downside is that we've only been able to arrange that in the last week, so the wine won't be with us until late July. But with us - and only us - it will definitely be: do please order as usual to ensure you get some. Do see our note on the product page re the impact on other wines in any connected order.


Beyond these three, there are very finely-crafted Highly Recommendeds from Craggy Range, Ata Rangi and Clos Henri. Some have only the lightest of oak touches (see individual product pages which detail this), and are more "standard" NZSB in nature, albeit with just a touch more body and complexity. That's particularly true of the Mt Difficulty Bannockburn SB, which we particularly rate/recommend at £15.75 (NB: the 2018 scores 92, but is not yet into the UK; we offer the excellent 2017). This is particularly delicious, especially for those requring a 'gateway' wine to transition to oaked NZSB...


Douro value reds

We increasingly see some some quite excellent reds come out of the home of Port, the Douro valley. And so too do Decanter, hence the review, and hence the top scorers. It's a welcome review, as Douro reds - even for us in the trade - can be (and are) a minefield.  The panel here provides some welcome guidance.

Typically, of Douro reds:

- They're all very reasonably priced - it's hard to find much over £20 (which is where Decanter place the upper bar on this review).

- They're all blends of (pretty much) the classic six Port grapes - the famous Touriga Naçional (body, concentrated flavour), Touriga Franca (colour, structure, aroma), Tinta Roriz (= Tempranillo, used for finesse and fruit), Tinta Barroca (body, structure), Tinta Cão (adds tannin) and Tinta Amarela (colour).

- There are plenty of rustic and (frankly) badly-made wines on offer. Even the good ones have a somewhat rural/agricultural charm, and are certainly not for lovers of light reds. To evidence this, in this review, which allowed for the 'value factor', only 17 of almost 80 wines on test came out as Highly Recommended/90 points+ or better (and one assumes only the better wines get put forward for test, especially since any sensible vintage could be submitted).

However, those that did well here are very good wines indeed. There were three Outstandings, one of which is less than a tenner. We have decided, would you believe(?), not to list it. Juicy and fruity as it is, we took the view that it's perhaps a bit-lacking-in-Touriga-Naçional and made-only-in-steel-and-simple for our discerning customers. With grapes this tannic, honestly, we take the view that some oak somewhere is required. If we've got that wrong, you'll not struggle to find that wine elsewhere. 

What we do list is the excellent Maçanita Tinto 2017. Its winemaker is much heralded as one of the finest breakthrough winemakers in Iberia; with his sister, they are producing some very fine artisan wines with far greater finesse than those of their neighbours. There's plenty more information on him/them here and here, the latter link relating to their Douro wines.

It may be (very very deep) violet in colour, and violetty in your nostrils, but the the Tinto 2017 is most certainly no shrinking violet; with 55% Touriga Naçional, it could never be. A fascinating 25% comes in from a natural vineyard 'field blend' of mixed varieties; Sousão makes up the balance to add (very fine) acidity and yet more colour (which has to be seen to be believed). There's 12 months of French oak maturation here - half of it in new oak - which adds a dimension not often seen in reds of this ilk.

Decanter said: "spicy and rich", "memorably spicy and concentrated", "finishes long", "dense yet complete and finely rendered, offering refined tannins and a smooth creaminess. Stylish and harmonious".

It's a bit more pricey than your average value Douro red at £14.95, we know, but that reflects the love it's been shown. Indeed, we've squeezed our margin and the producer as much as possible to make the price as in step with most Douro reds as we possibly can (hence the mismatch with the price in the Decanter review). Certainly, you get a lot of wine (in every sense) for your £15, and it would be £20+ but for it being us and our importing it directly. We do strongly recommend giving it a few hours in a decanter before drinking: we found it opens hugely for a decent breathe. It's only available from Exel.

Additionally, we must offer you the Maçanita white/Branco (2018). Maçanita insisted we try it. We were, being a bit Scottish, rather sceptical. Until, that is, we tasted it. We are sceptical no longer. A fantastic blend again, this, which brings together flavour, acidity/tang and a surprising amount of body. In short, it breaks the mould: wines with this much body shoudn't be this refreshing. Or, if you prefer, wines this zingy shouldn't be this full. It's a fascinating wine, and we definitely recommend you add it to any of the above.

The Maçanita wines will be with customers by the 25th June (maybe a day or two after in the event of French transport strikes...).


Beyond the panels

The magazine also features reviews and articles on:

- Carbonically macerated reds - it's not all bubbly, bad-Beaujolais-esque tat either - there's big scorers from Tapanappa, Blank Canvas and Shaw + Smith, for example, plus ... well ...  good Beaujolais (Fleurie) from Dominique Morel and a Loire take on it from Joel Delaunay.

- Grand Cru Riesling from Alsace - big points here for Albert Mann and Dopff.

- Santorini - Assyrtiko, step up - a classic pair from Gaia - the Wild Ferment and Thalassitis - and great value from Santo.

- Slovenia - some really high scorers here and too many to mention - look for Balkan names below!!

- Wakefield - the Australian producer, not the West Yorks town - their St Andrew wines do well.

- Bordeaux - there's a whole supplement this month - fines wines to be had from Chateaux Larose-Trintaudon, Guiraud and Lamothe-Bouscat at less-than-usual Bdx prices!!


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Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - July 2019 Decanter review

Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five wine makers to venture into Marlborough. At the time, it was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard but Cloudy Bay’s founder, David Hohnen, was convinced of its potential to produce great wine and invested in the best land of the region. The winery was named after Cloudy Bay, a body of water explorer Captain James Cook found during his voyage to New Zealand in 1770. His discovery coincided with flooding in the region, which washed large amounts of sediment into the sea. Noticing the water’s opaque appearance, Cook christened the area Cloudy Bay. 

For its 34th vintage, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc reaffirms its outstanding quality. Cloudy Bay has built a reputation for refined, elegant Sauvignon Blanc and the 2018 vintage is no exception thanks to the stable weather during the harvest. Warm and dry conditions through December and cooler weather from January onwards allowed for more steady ripening.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine from the team at Cloudy Bay, please click on the blue link below.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2015 - fiche technique


Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2016 - July 2019 Decanter review

Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception for 25 years and instrumental in the international recognition which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc enjoys now. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin Judd is also New Zealand's finest wine photographer and has recently published a book 'The Landscape of New Zealand Wine'.

Fruit was sourced from various vineyard sites in the Southern Valleys and the central Wairau Plains, specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick and Rapaura. Soil types vary from the young alluvial deposits of Rapaura and Renwick, which contain high proportions of greywacke river stones, to the older and denser clay- loams of the Southern Valleys. A high percentage of the vineyards were trained using the divided Scott Henry canopy management system, with the balance on two- or three-cane vertical shoot positioning.

The season started in timely fashion and settled conditions during December allowed a generous crop to set. Extremely low rainfall during the early summer put pressure on water supplies, but rain in early January broke the drought and vineyards flourished as temperatures started to climb above average in the New Year. Considerable thinning was carried out across all varieties to establish ideal cropping levels. Harvest started in mid-March, and in late March northerly airstreams brought with it some rain, which put pressure on the harvest and led to remedial canopy and crop management being needed in many vineyards. Temperatures remained well above average and Marlborough’s classic Indian summer made a welcome appearance allowing vineyards to achieve full ripeness. The last Sauvignon Blanc was hand picked on 18th April 2016 under sunny skies.

Some vineyards were harvested by machine and others by hand, all into half-tonne bins, which were tipped directly into tank presses. The grapes were pressed lightly and the resulting juice was cold-settled prior to racking into mostly old French oak barriques. The juice underwent spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation, the tail end of which continued for well over six months. The wine had occasional lees stirring and approximately two-thirds underwent malolactic fermentation. It was transferred out of oak prior to the following harvest and left on lees for a further six months.

See blue link below for Greywacke's own fiche technique/technical and tasting note on this eine.

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2016 - fiche technique

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

The Wild Sauvignon 2016 has aromas of shortbread, quinces and apricots, lemon zest and ginger, honeysuckle and vanilla bean – a delicious, sweet-scented fragrance of ripe fruit and Asian spices infused with a tarragon-like herbal thread and a faint whiff of wood smoke. Fermented entirely with naturally occurring yeast, this is an alternative style of Sauvignon Blanc that is both intricate and textural with a rich, succulent palate finishing crisp and long with a flinty dryness.

ABV = 14.0%.


te Pa Oke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)


Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Also awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

te Pa Sauvignon Blanc Oke 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

And if you missed it in arriving here, here's our review of that Decanter panel test and the wines that scored well.

Based in the Marlborough Region, te Pā has a history stemming back almost 800 years. Set up by the MacDonald family whose Maori lineage goes back to 1350, the te Pā estate spreads over 400 hectares of vineyards in Marlborough’s Wairau and Awatere regions.

Nestled between the Wairau River and the azure waters of the Cook Strait, te Pā’s home block vineyard at the Wairau Bar is as majestic as it is productive. Thanks to a unique microclimate, the fruit parcels from this vineyard have a soft acidity, pungent aromatics, and complex, ripe flavour profiles.

te Pā Family Vineyards grow Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and their wines have won international acclaim under the expert supervision of Chief Winemaker Sam Bennett. Sam’s international experience has been in the cool climate regions of Tasmania, Oregon and Burgundy. He’s honed his Kiwi winemaking skills at wineries including Craggy Range in Hawke’s Bay and Marisco and Highfield in Marlborough. These roles have seen Sam work with great fruit from a diverse range of regions stretching from Hawke’s Bay to Martinborough, Marlborough, Nelson and Central Otago.

The fruit for this wine was sourced from select blocks in the lower Wairau Valley. These block have been historically the most intensely flavoured and balanced in the vineyard. Careful canopy and yield management was used to accentuate these positive characteristics. The fruit was hand-harvested and whole bunch pressed to give some beautiful pristine juice to work with. This was dropped to a mix of new and older French barrels without settling and left to allow the indigenous yeast to start the ferments. A selection of the best barrels occurred in October, when the wine was blended and then dropped back to barrel for another 2 months to allow the different components to integrate and evolve.

For more detail, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at te Pā.

Te Pa Sauvignon Blanc Oke 2017 - fiche technique

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

The high quality of the fruit, combined with the gentle and respectful approach in the winery has resulted in a wine with an intriguing combination of poise and elegance, balanced by an intense and complex flavour profile. Aromatically the wine gives impressions of grapefruit, citrus blossom, ripe stonefruit and flint. The palate is weighty with stonefruit and citrus pith to the fore. The fruit is supported by spice and toasted nuts, a hint of toffee and refreshing acidity.

ABV = 13.0%.


Mt Difficulty Bannockburn (Series) Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage (not yet available in the UK) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn (Series) Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

"Moderately weighty and flavoursome Sauvignon Blanc with rock melon, guava and capsicum flavours. Soft, fruity acidity, with a silken texture and just a hint of sweetness. Impressive purity." 

92 Points, Bob Campbell, MW, 14 Feb 2018

Established in 1992, the Dicey family owns some of the oldest vineyards in the Bannockburn region of Central Otago on the famous Felton Road and have acquired land over the last ten years to build up to over 40 hectares, including six single vineyard sites. Their portfolio vineyards spans Central Otago from Gibbston to Lowburn Valley and on to Bendigo home still under Mount Difficulty at Bannockburn.

Central Otago provides New Zealand’s only continental climate, combined with unique soils ideally suited for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. The Bannockburn area, in particular, is one of the few sites outside of Burgundy that lends itself to the growing of the pernickety Pinot Noir grape; Mt Difficulty craft wines in the Burgundian style whilst stamping the uniqueness of the terroir to produce structured and serious wines. Not content with growing superb Pinot Noir, they are also known for their aromatic whites and grape varieties such as their grower series Lowburn Chardonnay and Estate Chenin Blanc.

Winemaker-in-chief Matt Dicey has a lifelong association with the wine industry and is a fourth-generation vigneron. After achieving a Masters Degree in Oenology and Viticulture, Matt spent four years gaining experience overseas.

As with all New Zealand wines, Mt Difficulty adhere to strict sustainability practices and constantly strive towards organic production.

Mount Difficulty is the name on the leading wines. The ‘second label’ is named Roaring Meg; these wines are produced in a more fruit-driven, early-drinking style and have become a mainstay of the Mt Difficulty stable since their introduction in 2003.

See the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Mt Difficulty.

Mt Difficulty Bannockburn Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - fiche technique

This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Hand harvested from the Templars Hill Vineyard in the Bannockburn area of Central Otago. The grapes are gently pressed and cold fermented in stainless steel and left on its lees for two months to retain maximum varietal fruit character and complexity. Herbaceous aromas combine with ripe gooseberry on the nose. The palate is full of citrus and grapefruit flavours intermingled with cut grass and a long tropical fruit finish.

ABV = 14.0%.


Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Craggy Range.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - fiche technique

Craggy Range produces a collection of iconic wines from multiple regions in New Zealand. Owner Terry Peabody and his family pursued the single vineyard approach to winemaking, planting on green fields and bare land ensuring a focus on quality from the very beginning. New Zealand, with its diversity of soils types offered the perfect location to plant the vines. From the stony, warm soils of the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke's Bay to the volcanic, clay soils of Te Muna Road in Martinborough these exceptional vineyards produce wines with amazing aromatics, purity and complexity.

Grown on the lower terrace at Te Muna Road, this wine shows a unique level of texture and complexity. The cooler climate of Martinborough ensures the wine is aromatic with steely minerality while the rocky soils gives intensity of the fruit.

Around 90% of the grapes used to make this wine are destemmed. It is then fermented using a combination of stainless steel tanks, French oak cuves & French oak barriques. The yeasts used are a mix of innoculated and indigenous.

This wine has a pale lemon straw colour. There are vibrant aromas of nectarine, green apple, honeysuckle and a hint of nettle. Lovely precision on the palate with a core of zesty fruit and a long satisfyingly dry textural finish. Matt Stafford, Chief Winemaker says: "We chase complexity in our Sauvignon... you can literally smell the meadow and taste the flintiness of the rock in these wines."


Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Oaked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - July 2019 Decanter review

Nestled under the southern foothills of Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, Clos Henri is the wine estate meticulously established and organically run by the famous Sancerre wine growing family of Henri Bourgeois. Uniting 10 generations of winegrowing know-how from the Bourgeois family, Clos Henri crafts textural and elegant wines, capturing the intense Marlborough character with the aim to reveal the identity of the Clos Henri terroir and a true sense of place in the wines. From the three different soil types of the estate, partially comprised of a clay hill slope, the family uses the best of French and New World winegrowing techniques to capture the essence of Marlborough’s intense character and reveal the identity and depth of the Clos Henri terroir. Their ultimate objective is to "offer a wine that tells the story of its origin, whispers it is not French but Marlborough and voices that it is a craft from the specific Clos Henri terroir” – says Arnaud Bourgeois, General Manager of Clos Henri.

In the French tradition, the vineyard is planted in high density to encourage competition between vines and restrain vigour. This natural vigour control means the vines put more energy into the grapes, rather than the canopy - concentrating the berries. Dry farming (using no irrigation) also helps keep vigour under control. By stressing the vines to just the right level, it forces the roots to go deeper in the soil, thereby getting the purest expression of our terroir and showing more minerality from the river stone soil.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Clos Henri.

Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - fiche technique

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Alcohol: 13.5%. Residual sugar: <1g/l. Ageing potential: 5-6 years from vintage.

The nose is refined and complex showing some citrus notes evolving into white peach aromas, with underlying chalky minerality. Delicate on the palate, the wine is textural and rich from the lees aging with layers of minerals, citrus and profound acidity balancing this dry and elegant wine, followed by a long finish.


Quinta Do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017(1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Douro value reds (see blue link below).

Quinta Do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

Quinta do Vallado, established in 1716, is one of the oldest and most famous "Quintas" in the Douro Valley. It once belonged to the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, and still belongs to her descendents. It lies on both banks of the Corgo River, a tributary of the Douro river, near its mouth, close to the town of Peso da Régua.

Quinta do Vallado´s 70 ha of vineyards are for the most planted in south and west facing slopes of slate soil, excellent for an optimum ripening of the grapes, taking advantage of the Mediterranean climate. Two thirds of the vineyards are planted in terraces with a single row of vines, pruned according to the double cordon system.

To see an excellent information and tasting note which has been produced by the team at Quinta do Vallado, please click on the blue link below.

Quinta do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017 - fiche technique


Casa Ferreirinha, Vinha Grande Douro Tinto 2017 (1x75cl)

This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. Purchased by Sogrape in 1987, it has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luís Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.

The selected grape varieties were sourced from the Quinta do Sairrão estate located at a high altitude in the Cima Corgo region. The mountainous vineyards here have schist soils with vines planted either in vertical rows or on traditional patamares (terraces). The selected plots are ideal for optimal maturation thanks to the hot days and cool evenings bringing out the fresh fruit character of the grapes.

Like the rest of Portugal, this region suffered from a severe lack of water throughout the 2017 growing season with high daytime temperatures tempered only by the cooling effect of the high altitude. The harvest was very early and yields were much lower than average. The region suffered a series of wildfires due to the extremely dry conditions and many vineyards were damaged and in some cases, completely destroyed. However, despite the atypical harvest year, the resulting wines have great balance, elegance and concentration.

Grapes selected for the Vinha Grande Tinto went through gentle crushing and destemming prior to temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Long skin contact during fermentation ensured optimal extraction, which was facilitated by pumping over and robotic plunging. Maturation took place for between 12 and 18 months in used French oak barrels. The blend was then selected based on both sensory and technical analyses. The wine was then lightly filtered before bottling. In addition, the wine did not undergo cold stabilisation, which may mean it will have natural sediment in the bottle.

40% Touriga Franca , 25% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz, 10% Tinta Barroca.

This wine has a deep ruby colour and intense aromas of flowers, strawberry and raspberry fruit, a touch of black pepper and well-integrated oak. The voluminous palate has well-integrated acidity, velvety tannins, a delicate minerality and notes of red berries. The finish is elegant and long.

ABV = 14.0%.


Casa Ferreirinha Callabriga Douro Tinto 2016 (1x75cl)

This historic producer, founded in 1751, was purchased by Sogrape in 1987. Today, they have 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions:  Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior.  The winemaking is headed up by the talented Luis Sottomayor, who manages to restrain the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Estevo and Papa Figos, allied to a wonderful depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Red and Quinta da Leda.

The grapes were picked from different sections of the Quinta da Leda estate as well as some neighbouring vineyards. Quinta da Leda's 76 hectares of vines were planted in collaboration with the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro de Vila Real, where a study was carried out on clonal research to select the best varieties in the Douro. The findings decided the varieties to be chosen and planted on this estate, using only the best clones of each variety for grafting.

Winter was particularly dry and mild. Strong and persistent rainfall from the end of winter continued into spring, accompanied by periods of low temperatures. These factors contributed to abnormal incidences of vine disease, especially mildew, and also affected flowering in lower-level zones. The high rainfall resulted in a reduction in the quantity of grapes. Summer was mild, with some spikes in temperature, and nights were generally cold. These conditions contributed to a long and balanced maturation, which, in turn, produced wines of superior quality.

The wine is made at the modern winery at Quinta da Leda. After full destemming, the grapes underwent gentle crushing before being transferred to stainless steel tanks and/or lagars (shallow, open troughs) where they underwent a long maceration to allow gentle extraction of colour, tannins and flavours from the skins. Once the fermentation was complete the wine was matured in used French and American oak (75% and 25% respectively) for between 12-18 months. The final blend is made with very careful selection after numerous tastings and analyses. The final wine is only slightly filtered before bottling.

60% Touriga Franca , 25% Touriga Nacional, 15% Tinta Roriz.

Deep ruby in colour. The aroma is intense and very complex, with notes of black and red berries, pepper and pine needles along with attractive and well-integrated oak characters. On the palate, it has good body and acidity, high quality tannins, black fruit flavours and a hint of cocoa on the long and elegant finish.


Quinta Do Crasto Douro Red 2017 (1x75cl)

Located in a prime spot of the Douro in Northern Portugal, Quinta do Crasto has been in the family of Leonor and Jorge Roquette for more than a century. Like all the other great Douro estates, Quinta do Crasto dates far back into ancient times. The name Crasto comes from the Latin castrum meaning “Roman fort”. Quinta do Crasto today has a full range of products, from white and red Douro wines, to premium Port wines and Extra Virgin Olive oils.

Considerable investment has been made over recent years at Quinta do Crasto to modernise the vineyards and winery facilities so as to ensure the production of high quality wines, year after year. Each of these developments, allied with the passion of an entire team dedicated to seeking out the highest possible quality in wine and other products, have contributed to Quinta do Crasto’s growing national and international reputation.

This wine is made using Touriga Nacional 30%, Tinta Roriz 30%, Touriga Franca 30%, Tinta Barroca 10%.

To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine from the team at Quinta do Crasto, please click on the blue link below.

Quinta do Crasto Douro Red 2017 - fiche technique


Blank Canvas Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Blank Canvas Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 - July 2019 Decanter review

Matt Thomson has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world. "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. With partner Sophie Parker-Thomson, the aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but they feel in order to break the rules, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.

A parcel of special Syrah fruit was sourced from a single vineyard run by a good friend in Hawkes Bay’s famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. The vineyard is over 15 years old with very low-yielding vines. The freedraining nature of the Gimblett Gravel soils with vineyards being situated on an historic riverbed facilitate this. The vines are VSP trained and cane-pruned on a single fruiting wire with high density planting.

The 2015 vintage in Hawkes Bay enabled a good fruit set in the Gimblett Gravels sub-region with a dry summer. The few rain events during early autumn were followed by cool windy periods which dried out the canopies and allowed the red varieties to continue to ripen. The 2015 was one of the earliest and driest in recent years.

In an unprecedented approach, Matt has co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7.5% Gruner Veltliner skins. This is a similar technique to what is done in Northern Rhone but with Austria’s hallmark white variety instead of France’s Viognier. Matt specifically chose Gruner so the finished wine would benefit from its white pepper note. 60% whole bunches were fermentated. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by cultured and wild yeasts. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was blended and bottled unfiltered in March 2015.

100% Syrah (the Gruner skins above aside!).

Rich, powerful and brooding, the Blank Canvas Syrah is a world first for its inclusion of a unique co-fermentation partner, Gruner Veltliner. Black and red plum and boysenberry perufmes sit alongside savoury notes, particularly bacon. The black pepper and juniper of Syrah complement the white pepper notes of Gruner Veltliner. It has a velvet-like texture, fine tannins and acidity that only a cool-climate can deliver. It is incredibly dense and dark, yet hauntingly perfumed and elegant.


Gerard Bertrand Le Viala 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage (not yet available in the UK - we offer the 2014) was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Gerard Bertrand Le Viala 2015 - July 2019 Decanter review

Gérard Bertrand is one of the most outstanding winemakers in the South of France. A biodynamic pioneer, he owns numerous estates among the most prestigious crus of Languedoc-Roussillon. Formerly the IWC Red Winemaker of the Year and winner of Wine Enthusiast‘s European Winery of the Year, Gérard has been cited as the “King of the Languedoc” among critics. A benchmark in the Minervois, Le Viala comes from a small parcel of land at Château Laville Bertrou, in the exceptional terroir of the La Livinière appellation. La Livinière has been officially recognised since 1998. Gérard Bertrand acquired this distinctive plot of land in 1997. This wine combines power with elegance and shows complex notes of spice and the garrigue.

The Viala comes from a small parcel of land situated amongst the exceptional terroirs of the La Livinière appellation, known for its strong and powerful wines. The vineyard terrain is made up of a mosaic of stripped marlstone associated with chalky limestone. This compact limestone dates back to the Eocene period, formed millions of years ago. This type of soil naturally limits the growth of each grape, but due to a long settling period, there is a resistance to aquatic stress. The strong summer sun assists the slow maturation of the grapes.

The manual harvest followed very precise monitoring of the maturation of the grapes. After a meticulous sorting process, the Carignan and Syrah grapes were put in their entirety into vats and vinified separately by carbonic maceration. The Grenache was destemmed and vinified with traditional maceration under controlled temperatures. Following the alcoholic and malolactic fermentations, the different varieties were blended and the wine was aged in new 225 litre oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months. The wine was not fined or filtered prior to being bottle aged for 12 months.

Syrah 60%, Grenache 25%, Carignan 15%.

Powerful, complex and beautifully balanced with a never-ending finish of warm cooked plums enhanced by lavender and herb notes. Powerful nose of blackberries and violets. On the palate, smooth tannins and subtle woody notes, beautifully balanced and an never ending finish. An extreme delicacy with a huge lasting potential.

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

Gerard Bertrand Le Viala 2014 - fiche technique


Shaw + Smith Balhannah Vineyard Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2013 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Shaw + Smith Balhannah Vineyard Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2013 - July 2019 Decanter review

International Wine Challenge 2016, Gold.

Established in 1989 by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW, Shaw + Smith's aim is to make contemporary, high quality wines that stand among the best of their type in Australia. The wines are made exclusively from fruit grown in the Adelaide Hills, one of Australia's coolest and most exciting regions. Shaw + Smith specialise in grape varieties suited to cooler climates, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and also make fantastic wines from Shiraz and Pinot Noir.

This is the first release of this wine. Fruit was sourced from close-planted low yielding vines at Shaw + Smith's Balhannah Vineyard in the central Adelaide Hills, planted in 2005. The distinctive site has always shown potential for a single site wine, and in this particular year the fruit was outstanding. It has a north-facing aspect and the soils are loam over clay, ironstone, quartzite and shale. Low yields are achieved by aggressive pruning and pre-harvest bunch thinning.

2013 was a fine growing season, with some warm days balanced by consistently cool nights. It was relatively dry and grapes ripened a touch earlier than usual. The weather leading up to harvest was also mostly dry, ensuring perfectly healthy fruit.

The Shiraz was hand picked and fermented as predominantly whole bunches (70%) and the remainder whole berries, in open fermenters, with gentle plunging and minimal intervention. No berries were harmed during the making of this wine! It was aged in 500-litre French oak puncheons for fourteen months, followed by a further fourteen months in bottle.

100% Shiraz.

Crimson in colour with purple at the rim. The nose is very perfumed - rose petals, dried herbs, and red berries. Initially it's generous on the palate, with boysenberry, mulberry, and blueberry notes. Then more layers of flavour and texture reveal themselves. Some cinnamon, some fennel seed, some rhubarb; fine but firm tannins that extend the palate, accompanied throughout by fresh acidity and intense perfume.


Dominique Morel (Domaine de Gry-Sablon) Fleurie 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Dominique Morel Fleurie 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

At its best, Beaujolais is a deeply pleasurable wine and Morel's wines encapsulate this style better than most. Dominique Morel has 12 hectares of vineyard in Beaujolais and Fleurie. The vines are up to 70 years old, something that accounts for the intensity of his wines. To sum up his philosophy, Morel says: "I make wines that I like to drink, with lots of fruit, good colour and a rounded mouth-feel''.

The Fleurie vineyard faces south-west and covers 2.5 hectares. The average age of these goblet trained vines is over 45 years with average yields of 52 hectolitres per hectare. Soils here are poor, stony and granitic which accounts for the perfume and finesse of the best wines of this region.

Unfortunately 2017 was another difficult vintage for producers in the Beaujolais. Spring frost struck again and violent hailstorms during July severely impacted volumes across the region. Drought during the summer months posed further risk, until welcome rain fell just before harvest, bringing freshness to the resulting wines. Unfortunately Frédéric's vines were badly hit by hail, resulting in a 40% loss in volume.

Pre-fermentation maceration of whole bunches was followed by semi-carbonic maceration (70% whole bunch, 30% destemmed grapes). Dominique allowed the temperature of the must to rise for a couple of hours to help the extraction of colour, aroma and tannins. He chilled the wine before the fermentation took place for a week. The wine was handled as gently as possible, with the least intervention. It remained in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks after fermentation, being stabilised naturally by the low temperatures.

100% Gamay.

This wine is full of expressive Gamay characteristics with elegant violet, iris and red fruit aromas and a palate bursting with velvety tannins. An elegant wine with a long finish.

ABV = 12.5%.


Domaine Joel Delaunay Gamay 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Domaine Joel Delaunay Gamay 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

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

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

The 2018 vintage in Loire was excellent. The vines were spared from hail and frost this year. High temperatures, sun and the lack of rain in July and August accelerated the ripening. The quality and quantity of grapes were up compared to the last two vintages.

Semi-carbonic maceration took place over a period of eight days. Alcoholic fermentation occurred at 24°C with one soft pumping over of the juice. Malolactic fermentation occurred at 22°C. The wine was aged on its fine lees, and then cross filtered prior to bottling.

100% Gamay.

This wine is bright ruby red in colour. On the nose, red fruits dominate with aromas of strawberries, red plums and cherries. The palate is light and supple with soft tannins and a fruity finish.


Domaine Albert Mann Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage (no longer available) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 article: Alsace - top Riesling terroirs (see blue link below).

Domaine Albert Mann Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2016 - July 2019 Decanter review

Schlossberg lies above the commune of Kayserberg and is composed of a type of grey granite with a southern aspect. It is almost all terraced as it is extremely steep and is one of the greatest sites in Alsace for Riesling. In 1975, Schlossberg was the first Alsace vineyard to be declared a Grand Cru.

This well-regarded Alsace domaine is run by two brothers, Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé in the village of Wettolsheim, near Colmar. Maurice, who took over here in 1984, is married to the daughter of the late Albert Mann who gave his name to the domaine. It’s not a huge operation: they have 22 hectares in all, but five of these are in five different Grand Cru vineyards and a further two are in lieux-dits. The brothers each have their responsibilities, one in vineyard and one in cellar. Viticulture is organic and they have a minimal intervention approach in the cellar. 

This wine presents a yellow-green intense and bursty appearance. On the nose, it is well-balanced, prepossessing, fresh, fine and harmonious. We can find in the aroma bouquet some fresh citrus fruit, bergamot, kumquat, ripe lemon and stewed apple. It is easy to guess the nature of the terroir - granite - which gives this racy typicity and minerality.The palate is very taut, multidimensional and with a mineral element. It confers an originality and unique personality. This wine is harmonious, well balanced and dry with a very long finish.


Dopff Au Moulin Schoenenbourg Grand Cru Riesling 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 article: Alsace - top Riesling terroirs (see blue link below).

Dopff Au Moulin Schoenenbourg Grand Cru Riesling 2014 - July 2019 Decanter review

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

2014 was characterised by a very early spring, which resulted in an early start to the growing cycle. The weather was warm and dry during the late spring and early summer, however wet and mild weather during the latter parts of the summer slowed down the vine’s development. A warm and dry September enabled the grapes to reach maturity. The wines are fresh and crisp with beautiful balance.

Schoenenbourg means beautiful hill and is one of the most prestigious Grand Cru classified vineyards in Alsace. Located North of Riquewihr, the vineyard runs along the rather steep south and south-eastern flanks of the hillside, at an altitude of 265 to 380 metres above sea-level. The Dopff au Moulin Schoenenbourg vineyard covers 8.8 hectares. The vines are grown in water-retaining subsoils of keuper marl, dolomite and gypsum, which are rich in fertilising agents, overlaid with fine layers of quaternary siliceous gravel, Vosges sandstone and muschelkalk (shellbearing limestone). Pruned according to the Guyot method with green harvests and meticulous canopy management to ensure good light penetration and air flow.

Whole bunches were gently pneumatically pressed without crushing. Static racking of the must was followed by a slow, temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel, preserving the purity of fruit. After the fermentation, the wine was stored in old oak casks on its fine lees for several months, adding subtle complexity. 

100% Riesling.

An elegant and expressive wine delivering notes of passion fruit, grapefruit and pineapple enveloped in a rich, full-bodied and harmonious palate. Candied citrus flavours and a zippy acidity lead to a long finish.

This wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.


Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 producer profile of Wakefield (see blue link below).

Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - July 2019 Decanter review

When Bill Taylor Snr and his sons acquired a promising block of land in the Clare Valley in 1969, they did so with the singular hope of creating a wine of the finest quality. Not only did they achieve this dream, they founded a winemaking philosophy that continues to resonate through the wines today. "We understand the importance of protecting, preserving and enhancing the quality of the fruit from our vineyards. Our aim is to achieve balance, elegance and finesse in every wine and somewhat uniquely when it comes to the style of our wines, we often seek to make wines that are at once both powerful and elegant."

All artists have a signature. A mark that signifies everything they stand for in a few elegant strokes. For Wakefield, St Andrews is that signature. Every bottle is a testament to their winemaking philosophy and a showcase for their hand-crafted approach to winemaking. The first Wakefield St. Andrews wines were released in 1999 and have developed a reputation as benchmark examples of great Clare Valley wine. St Andrews is only ever released in the finest vintages.

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

Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 - fiche technique


Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Santorini (see blue link below).

Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage was 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.

One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Estate was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. Operating two different wineries they make cutting edge wines in both Nemea and Santorini. Gaia's main aim is to present the potential of the indigenous Greek grape varieties to wine enthusiasts worldwide.

The vineyard is located in Santorini. The terroir is recognised worldwide for its tremendous historical roots as the vineyards in this area date back 3,000 years. The low yielding vines are self rooted and are grown in soils which are poor in organic matter. The high sand content has ensured they have never been affected by phylloxera. The soils are also volcanic: porous with a high mineral content, which imparts a mineral quality to the resulting wine. The long sunshine hours, lack of rainfall, sea mists and strong summer winds all contribute to the unique microclimate. The surrounding Aegean Sea acts as a climatic buffer which softens the climate, so the extreme conditions and vintage variations are reduced. The vines are trained on traditional basket shaped systems called kouloura.

100% Assyrtiko.

The handpicked grapes were destemmed, crushed and cold soaked for 12 hours with skin contact at 10°C. The free run juice was then fermented naturally, using only natural yeasts. 50% of the must was fermented in stainless steel tanks, 35% in new oak casks (18% French and 17% American oak) and 15% in acacia casks. The temperature was allowed to rise naturally without any further intervention. From here, modern technology passed the baton to traditional winemaking and the fermentation developed at its own, gradual pace, with the prevailing yeast strains determining the wine's final character. In each tank and barrel, the wine fermented differently, so at the end of the fermentation each portion was tasted and carefully selected, according to the quality. With each vintage, a new dimension of this multifaceted variety is discovered. 

2018 was a good vintage in Santorini. Favourable weather conditions enabled the vines to ripen steadily and resulting in healthy grapes with excellent maturity.

"Toasty, smoky and funky on the nose with mineral dusting and brooding intensity. The palate is salty dry with laser-beam precision and very funky wild ferment layering of complexity with oak wreathed into the mix with sensitivity. The finish is dry, with lasting salty and tangy flavours. Unique and outstanding wine." (The Wine Gang)

ABV = 13.5%.


Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko 2018 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Santorini (see blue link below).

Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko 2018 - July 2019 Decanter review

One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Estate was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. Operating two different wineries they make cutting edge wines in both Nemea and Santorini. Gaia's main aim is to present the potential of the indigenous Greek grape varieties to wine enthusiasts worldwide.

This wine is made from the island's indigenous variety Assyrtiko (pronounced Ah-SEERtee-koe) which is renowned for combining full flavoured maturity whilst retaining considerably high acidity. The grapes are produced exclusively from vineyards in the Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos regions, at elevations of between 50 to 250 metres above sea-level. The vines are between 70 to 80 years old and produce a particularly low yield of between 18 to 25 hectolitres per hectare. The vines are cultivated in volcanic soils which are porous with a high mineral content.

The hand-picked grapes were cold macerated for a period of 12 hours at controlled temperatures of 10°C. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 16 to 18°C with selected yeasts. The wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation. This wine was produced in an unoaked style in order to retain its freshness and purity of fruit and spent four months in stainless steel tanks on its lees with frequent bâtonnage to impart texture and complexity.

100% Assyrtiko.

Explosive minerality with fresh lemon zest on the nose, crisp acidity on the palate and underlying floral notes. Refreshing with a crisp, mineral finish. An excellent partner to seafood, fish, shellfish or lamb with lemon.


Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 89 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Santorini (see blue link below).

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017- July 2019 Decanter review

The Union of Santorini Cooperatives, Santo Wines was founded in 1947. Today, it consists of the largest organization of the island representing all the cultivators and counting 1,200 active members. SantoWines is committed to safeguarding the local traditional cultivatio methods, producing the highest-quality Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Santorini wines and products as well as promoting sustainable agriculture development. 

SantoWines’ R&D invests in the ongoing development of cultivation and vinification techniques, while it targets the preservation of the biodiversity through the operation of a nursery of autochthonous/indigenous varieties, a solid base for study and trial cultivation of local grapes. The traditional methods of the farmer-members of their cooperative guarantee the authenticity and the premium quality of their wines.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical & tasting note from the winemakers at Santo (this, for the 2017... 2018 expected from Santo soon!).

Santo Santorini Assyrtiko 2017- fiche technique


Burja Bela 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintagewas awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Slovenia and Croatia (see blue link below).

Burja Bela 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

Primoz Lavrenčič is a life long student of classical philosophy and applies it to his winemaking artistry. Primoz believes, that wines from different places, different cellars, different winemakers, all contain their own idea, or essence. Wines should be bottled as their own individual expression, sui generis. They are bottled as their own expression. Primoz find that wines that yield to the terroir are the freest in their individual expression. The wines he crafts are meant to act as a sort of proof for this thesis. He recognizes that the experience of a wine depends on the knowledge, culture and past experience of the drinker, thus it’s a fact that the same wine can generate different, even contradictory experiences.

The Lavrenčič family moved to Vipava in 1499, and like most who settled there, they took advantage of the favourable soils and climate and made wine.

Malvazija 30%, Welschriesling 30%, Rebula 30 %, other varieties 10%.

FERMENTATION TANKS: stainless steel.

YEASTS: natural.



AGED IN: concrete eggs 30%, oak barrels 70%.

AGED FOR:10 months.


VEGAN: yes.


TOTAL PRODUCTION:12,000 bottles.

ALTITUDE: 220-300 m.

SOIL: Flysch.

VINES - YEAR PLANTED:1953 – 2005.

VINE DENSITY: 7,000 vines/hectare.

YIELD: 1 kg per vine.


Gasper Malvazija 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 Expert's Choice article/tasting on/of Slovenia and Croatia (see blue link below).

Gašper Malvazija 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

Gašper is located in Goriška Brda, which makes up the two thirds of Collio stretching into Slovenia from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in north-eastern Italy. Goriška Brda has a climate ideally suited to viticulture, with its proximity to both the Adriatic Sea and the Alps providing dry, warm summers with cooling breezes during the crucial ripening period. The Gašper wine estate is a joint venture between a local cooperative and the Čarman family, who have been in the wine and hospitality business for over 50 years. At the helm of the cellar is Darinko Ribolica, a respected oenologist from Goriška Brda. He uses Slovenia’s local varieties, deeply rooted in Germanic, Slavic and Roman cultural influences, to create wines in a modern, fresh style.

The Gašper vineyards are between 10 and 25 years old, and characterised by ‘opoka’ marl soil and excellent sun exposure on terraced, hillside rows. There is also the benefit of altitude, ranging from 80-200 metres above sea level, which helps the grapes retain acidity and aromatics. Vines are single Guyot trained and planted at a density of 4,000 to 5,000 per hectare. All picking is done by cooperative partners, family members and friends, which allows for a careful selection of fruit that enhances the quality of the final wine.

Fruit was pressed in a pneumatic press and then fermented and matured in stainless steel containers. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place to preserve the freshness and fruit character of the grapes.

100% Malvasia Istriana.

The Malvazija is the same grape variety as Malvasia Istriana, native to the Croatian and Slovenian coastal areas that used to belong to Italy. The wine has a golden colour with bright green flashes. Intense aromas of tropical fruit and ground almonds give way to floral notes of acacia. The palate is fruity and pleasantly soft, with distinct almond flavours that continue on the finish. This unique variety is known for being taut and zesty, but also slightly honeyed in character.


Jako Vino Stina Posip 2018 (1x75cl)

NB: it's not that we don't have a photo of the bottle. As you can see here, this really is how the producer label their bottles!

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Slovenia and Croatia (see blue link below).

Jako Vino Stina Posip 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

The beautiful Croatian island of Brač is famous for its white stone, which is known locally as Stina and was the inspiration behind the name of this stunning collection of Jako Vino wines. The Stina project was founded in 2009 when Jako Andabak invested in a cellar along the waterfront in Bol. After much renovation, he designed a contemporary cellar perfect for production and tastings. Simultaneous investment was made in the vineyards, which are planted with local varieties such as Pošip and Vugava. Although grape vines have been cultivated on the island for centuries - the vineyard at Stipančić dates back to the 15th century, most needed either replanting or restoring to return them to their former glory. Winemaker Rikard Petric showcases these glorious indigenous varieties in a collection of fruit focused wines, full of Croatian charm.

The vineyard is cooled by sea breezes and the warm sunny days are often windy, with cooler nights. The diurnal temperature differences promote a long ripening period, encouraging concentrated flavours and varietal characteristic in the grapes, while preserving balancing acidity. The vines are dry-farmed in old vineyards with a rocky, limestone soil. The vines are meticulously managed; pruning is four to six spurs per vine, with an average of six to eight buds in order to keep the yields low. The grapes are manually harvested.

The grapes were cooled prior to vinification and protected from oxygenation throughout. Two thirds of the grapes were gently pressed; the remaining third was left to macerate on the skins for six hours. 80% of the fermentation took place with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures; 20% took place in wooden vats, imparting subtle oak complexity to the wine. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for six months.

Pošip 100%.

A superb example of Dalmatia’s renowned indigenous white variety, Pošip. Intense citrus, passion fruit and peach flavours are lifted by a refreshing minerality, creating an exotic, elegant style with a textured palate and a persistent finish. Intriguingly packaged with an understated label. 


Matosevic Alba Antiqua Malvazija Istarska 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 article on Slovenia and Croatia (see blue link below).

Matosevic Alba Antiqua Malvazija Istarska 2015 - July 2019 Decanter review

Described by Steven Spurrier as “Croatia’s best winemaker”, Ivica Matošević has established himself as a force of nature in the country’s burgeoning wine industry. This is due to his unbridled passion, which led him to divert his career from a PhD in agriculture, to winemaking. This passion is reflected both in his wines, which are exuberant, fresh and true to their nature, and in what he has achieved for the reputation of Croatian wine. Widely recognised as one of the leaders of the quality revolution amongst his peers, he was instrumental in setting up the Istrian appellation and establishing the wildly popular annual wine fair which takes place there to promote the wines. We believe that Ivica’s view on his personal journey is reflected in his wine: “[I am a] better man today, more honest and common, more natural and more savage, all due to changes in my life circumstances.”

Vineyards are located at 250-300 metres above sea level and the soil composition is pseudogley on flysch. The area is characterised by a Mediterranean climate, with mild and rainy winters followed by dry, hot summers. It is Matošević’s goal to slowly cut off the use of any chemicals, by using minimal pesticides and no herbicides. Instead, mechanical cultivation inside the rows is applied as well as mulching between the rows.

The grapes are manually sorted before crushing and destemming. The grapes are fermented on the skin for several days, followed by ageing on the lees in French oak and acacia barrels for 30 months.

100% Malvasia Istriana.

The wine is a straw yellow colour. The nose is floral and fruity, with spicy aromas. On the palate, this wine is dry with balancing acidity and a rich body. Acacia flowers and acacia honey flavours are complemented by clean minerality.


Kozlovic Teran 2018 (1x75cl)

The Kozlović family have been making wine in the Istrian region of Croatia since 1904. The region borders Friuli and the wines, food and people have a real connection with their Italian neighbours. The winery is run by Gianfranco and Antonella Kozlović and they currently cultivate 25 hectares of vineyard. Gianfranco is a perfectionist and he is constantly striving to improve his wine. He takes a modern approach to winemaking and produces seriously good wines.

The Zmergo vineyards are situated at an altitude of 240 metres above sea level and have a Southerly orientation to maximise the vine's exposure to the sun. The vines have an average age of 28 years and are grown in soils that are composed of flysch, limestone and clay.

The grapes were harvested by hand, carefully sorted and then underwent a five day maceration. Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures. The wine was then matured in wooden barrels of 30hl for eight months, prior to bottling.

100% Teran.

Fresh and intense aromas of raspberry, blueberry and strawberry are complemented by hints of pepper and herbaceous notes. Bright and vibrant with silky tannins.

Teran is ideally served with lasagne, pasta with meatballs and a tomato based sauce, or grilled pork, lamb and game.


Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Haut-Medoc 2014 (1x75cl)

Reviewed by Decanter in their July 2019 Bordeaux supplement, in the article "My favourite Everyday Claret" (see blue link below).

Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Haut-Medoc 2014 - July 2019 Decanter review

Château Larose Trintaudon dates back to 1719, but it wasn't until 1838 when Henry Delaroze, Mayor of Saint-Laurent, planted a vineyard on a gravelly mound in a place called 'Trintaudon' that its winemaking history began. The history remained the same as its sibling Larose Perganson, because it formed part of Jean-Pierre du Pontent's, acquisitions in 1719, when he was Counselor to the King of France. During the subsequent years, the property fell victim to phylloxera and neglect and it wasn't until 1963, when Professor Emile Peynaud was brought in to replant the vineyards, that the Château achieved the reputation that it has today.

Nestled between the communes of Saint-Julien-de-Beychevelle and Pauillac, the 190-hectare vineyard of Château Larose Trintaudon is planted upon one of the oldest layers of Médoc gravel, called the 'Pyrenean layer'. Situated on the borders of the Pauillac and Saint-Julien Appellations, it benefits from very similar growing conditions as its neighbour Château Latour. The soil is mainly composed of fine and sandy gravels on top of a clay-based limestone soil. The vines are 28 years old on average with a planting density of 6,600 vines per hectare. The team green harvests every Spring to ensure that grape bunches hang separately, allowing air to circulate around each one, and to control yields.

An exceptionally cold and damp summer threatened the 2014 vintage. However, an unseasonably warm and dry autumn brought fruit back on track, which resulted in perfumed and high acidity in the wines. The reds are fresh, medium bodied with supple tannins and perfect for both early drinking and cellaring.

The wine, a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot, was fermented in stainless steel tanks to retain the primary fruit aromas. It was then aged in oak for 12 to 16 months of which 50% was new, adding complexity and roundness to this structured and elegant wine.

This wine is very deep, intense ruby in colour with violet hues. On the palate, sweet spices of vanilla, cinnamon and ginger entwine with flavours of dates and dried figs. A racy, incredibly full-bodied and wellstructured wine with enormous density and power. Infinite length on the palate with excellent balance between fruit, tannins and acidity.

ABV = 13.5%.


Le G de Chateau Guiraud 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 Bordeaux supplement, in the article "My Top 20 Dry White Bordeaux" by Andy Howard MW (see blue link below).

Le G De Chateau Guiraud 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

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

Le G De Chateau Guiraud 2017 - fiche technique


Chateau Lamothe Bouscaut Pessac-Leognan Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter ( in their July 2019 Bordeaux supplement, in the article "My Top 20 Dry White Bordeaux" by Andy Howard MW (see blue link below).

Chateau Lamothe Bouscaut Pessac-Leognan Blanc 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

Château Lamothe Bouscaut is located in the village of Cadaujac and dates back to the 12th century. In 1999 it was acquired by its neighbour, Château Bouscaut, owned by Sophie Lurton and Laurent Cogombles. The vineyards measure a total of nine hectares and are mainly comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc.

The vines of Lamothe-Bouscaut are on average 35 years old and grow on deep, gravel soils near the Garonne River. The vineyards are planted to red with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, and for the whites 20% Semillon and 80% Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards are managed sustainably in order to respect the environment. Labouring the soils and keeping ground cover between rows is essential, with spraying reduced to a minimum. The vines are Guyot-trained and are looked after by five vineyard workers.

The grapes were hand harvested. The bunches of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon were pressed and the juce partially racked and chilled for 24 hours. Afterwards, the must was transferred to oak barrels, of which 30% was new, where it was vinified on its fine lees. After fermentation, the wine was aged for eight months in oak with bâtonnage taking place once a month.

80% Sauvignon Blanc , 20% Semillon.

The nose offers fresh citrus and floral notes. On the palate, it is well-rounded, with grapefruit and pineapple flavours. The oak is subtle and well-integrated, giving the wine good body and balance, with a long and elegant finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

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