It was obviously hot enough recently to precipitate the June edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com). Here it is...
In an edition featuring a bundle of different nations (in contrast to last month's Italian extravaganza), but particularly South America, the biggest news here is that we offer two of the four Outstanding panel-toppers from the panel review of South American Icons (or Premium red blends, if you prefer).
This is very much the month’s leading panel, we would suggest, with the month's other panel (see below) failing to expose a wine above 92 points. These two Outstandings both score score 95 points respectively, and, just as with last month's two top-scoring Amarones, are quite different in terms of grape varieties, price and provenance.
But this is also a month with a wealth of other high-scoring wines across many features, many at attractive prices and 94 points - see below.
There’s a lot more detail on a separate page we've created on that South American Icons review, those two wines and a really good crop of other Highly Recommendeds - some at very affordable prices - to which end, click this link.
The 25 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.
But those South American Icons are far from the only wines of interest this month, and there's a bundle of excellently-priced 94-pointers and other top-flighters in the month's other features:
<We'll get to the other panel review in a moment>.
1) There's an excellent early-page and chunky article: Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25, in which the author, Peter Richards MW is quite emphatic in stating, "There are some beautiful wines here, outstanding value for money in the global context".
We're delighted to offer the #1 and #3 wines in that list, both of which score 94 points and we've featured before with quite some praise.
- The Corralillo Carmènere 2016 topped Decanter's Carmenère Decanter panel 2 months ago (scoring 95 points then), and is as sumptuous, velvety and attractive a Carmenère as we've ever tried (eclipsing, in our view, both of the much-requested Fevres of late 2017). And that at a brilliant £15.50. We've had the Corralillo on a waiting list from the time of last review (as initial stocks sold through very quickly) but a big block arrives here in the next fortnight and stock not already booked is now available to buy. (NB: those already on the list: your wine is safe, but if you wish to include it in a new order of the wines on this page, please do go ahead and buy now).
- The Viña Leyda La Neblina Riesling 2015 is also among our favourite Rieslings (see our article) and stunning value at £13.60. There's a lot going on in this Riesling - it fully ticks the complexity box - and whilst one might be tempted to look askance at it (compared with say German, Austrian, Alsace or Australian Rieslings) because of its price, that would be to do it a great disservice. This is a serious, single-vineyard Riesling made to impeccably high standards and with 12-15 years of ageing ahead of it (for the strong-willed).
2) So what's with the other panel review? 'Tis a good question. It's of Californian Chardonnay: no holds barred, any vintage, any area, any price point. So you'd expect some pretty amazing scores... wouldn't you? I know I would. In the line-up, you've Ridge's Monte Bello, Far Niente, Kesner, Mount Eden, Au Bon Climat, Patz & Hall. So it's a real surprise that nothing exceeds 92 points and Highly Recommended: a fine performance, yes, but from £100/bottle world-beaters?
We're not sure what to make of it: we do offer the 90-point Far Niente 2017 (a stunning wine, in my book), the Morgan Double L (albeit the year after reviewed vintage, which can't be sourced now) and the brilliant-value De Loach Russian River 2015. There's been some stringent marking here.
3) Australia features in an expert review by Sarah Ahmed... of multi-regional blends, rather bucking the single vineyard/terroir trend. Two very different wines attract 94 points here:
- Penfolds' (for it is they) Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 (drawn from three different cool-climate regions and quite delicious) ...
- ... and the ever-excellent SC Pannell's Tempranillo/Touriga Nacional 2016 (this wine is really quite 'out there, man'), drawn from both McLaren Vale (the Tempranillo) and Barossa (the Touriga). <There's even a little Tinto Cao for even more Iberian sparkle>.
The latter wine, at £17.85, is especially good value and truly fascinating in a Portugal-meets-Spain-in-South-Australia kinda-way (see also this wine for more in this vein).
4) Australia again: Italian grape varieties this time, and another 94 pointer in the form of Mount Horrocks' Nero d'Avola from the Clare Valley. Yes, you read that correctly. Further proof, this, if such were needed (it is for many traditionalists) that we may need to take serious note of Iberia and Italian grapes grown and vinified elsewhere in the near future.
5) Savennières - we don't see much Loire demand beyond Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre, all told/alas, so it's great to offer this most revered and enigmatic of appellations. A well-deserved 92 points for Château Pierre-Bise's Clos de Coulaine 2016 - and at under £20 (ultra-rare in this AOP) - makes for a very interesting glass or two.
6) Weekday Wines - as ever, we've a a bundle here: fizz (Cantina di Gambellara's unusual Monopolio Durello Spumante), red (the mouth-filling Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2017) and whites (many: more from Mount Horrocks (superb Semillon), Fontanafredda's Arneis and a whole host of unusual Greeks. Check out the list below....
** THIS WINE IS HELD IN NO OR LOW STOCK BUT IS QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH ON THURSDAY. **
The not-yet-in-the-UK 2016 vintage was awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their October 2020 Top 20 South American Red Blends (see blue link below).
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) at their February 2019 Catena tasting (see blue link below).
The inaugural 1997 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend set a new standard of quality for wines from South America when it won a series of blind tastings against first growths and other prestigious cuvées from around the world. Indeed, it featured as one of Decanter's Wine Legends in October 2018 (see blue link below).
“The 2015 Nicolás has the highest ever percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 17% Malbec for company and is a stunning blend that’s right up there with some of the best vintages of the wine. Floral, minty and refined, it has subtle, spicy oak, notes of green herbs and red fruits, tangy acidity and remarkable palate length. One for the cellar.” Tim Atkin MW, 96 points, 5th Jan 2018.
In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Bodega Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.
Catena wines, first launched in 1992, set a new standard for quality in South America. The wines immediately proved the quality potential of Argentina and garnered the first outstanding reviews for Argentine wines from worldwide media. After more than 20 years, the wines of Catena continue to lead the way in Argentine viticulture and winemaking. The family and the winery’s employees take great pride in carrying on the tradition that began over a century ago.
Nicolás Catena Zapata has an intense, deep purple color with bluish-black tones. On the nose, aromas of black fruits – blackberries, black cherries, black plums – predominate with subtle notes of vanilla and dark chocolate intermingled with savory hints of green olive and a stony minerality. On the palate, the wine is tremendously complex, unfolding layer upon layer of red currant, eucalyptus, and black pepper flavours. Black cherries and blackberries give way to cassis followed by a hint of saline minerality. The wine is remarkably concentrated with a firm tannic structure providing the backbone for the lush fruit. The finish is long, giving some idea of the very long aging potential of this Argentine masterpiece.
This wine is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Malbec.
See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.
ABV = 14.0%.
** SOME STOCK, MORE WITH US THURS 1st OCTOBER! **
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).
The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).
Kaikenes are wild geese, native to Patagonia, that fly across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Montes, the Chilean winery, crossed the Andes in the same way to set up in Mendoza. Their vineyards are situated in the heart of Mendoza and further to the south in Valle de Uco, where many of the premium producers are now sourcing their fruit. The focus is primarily on Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that has been somewhat forgotten as Malbec has surfed one wave of success after another in the past decade. Kaiken's own vineyards supply 70% of their production requirements and 30% is from vineyards that they control.
The grapes are sourced from Valle de Uco, one of Mendoza’s most prestigious sub-regions. Kaiken’s vineyard, located in Vista Flores, sits at 1,350 metres above sea level. Here, sunny days are followed by cool nights – this slows the growing season and allows Kaiken to obtain excellent grapes with wonderful freshness. The soils are mostly alluvial and are largely made up of pebbles and rocks.
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.
This Cabernet Franc is deep ruby red in colour with elegant purple shades. The nose is complex, with ripe redcurrants, fresh plums and red pepper combined with spicy notes of black pepper. On the palate, it has beautiful fruit concentration balanced by fresh acidity and minerality, reflecting the high-altitude location of Vista Flores. The long, elegant finish displays red fruit and spicy aromas.
ABV = 14.5%.
** WE HAVE INCOMING STOCK THIS THURSDAY 24th SEPTEMBER. **
Awarded a Gold medal and 96 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
The not-yet-in-the-UK 2017 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their October 2020 expert review of South American Cabernet Franc (see blue link below).
The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).
Founded in 2003, Andeluna is a small boutique winery specialising in premium Bordeaux varietals of world class recognition. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best subregions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. Situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres, the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Oenologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers to make outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the global spotlight in a very short space of time. Their Pasionado range is only made in exceptional vintages and rivals some of the great wines of the world.
The grapes come from vineyards located in Gualtallary in Tupungato at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The vines are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. The vineyard soils are alluvial, sandy and permeable.
The grapes were hand-picked in the cool of dawn in April, when they had reached full polyphenolic maturity. The berries were manually selected and the best berries underwent cold pre- fermentation maceration. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 26°C. The wine was aged in used French oak barrels (60% second passage, 40% third passage) for a period of 12 months and then cellared in bottles for a minimum of eight months prior to its release.
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.
Intense aromas fill the glass, with deep red fruits and a remarkable presence of red bell pepper, fennel, mint, anise, eucalyptus and basil. A structured, full bodied wine, with rounded tannins which result in a pleasant and persistent finish.
Serve with full bodied meats as steak or lamb. Decant and serve at 16°C.
ABV = 13.5%.
** VERY LIMITED UK STOCK. ABOUT TO BE USED IN OUR FORTHCOMING VALDIVIESO/CABALLO LOCO TASTING, SO LIMITED TO TWO BOTTLES PER CUSTOMER UNTIL AFTER THE TASTING! **
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).
The winemaker's own technical sheets appear below (click blue links) - the Spanish inclusion may seem a little leftfield, but includes regional and other info that have yet to be put onto the English version.
Valdivieso's top wine and stable star, the Caballo Loco is known around the world and each year changes merely its edition and, technically, not its vintage. It brings together every Cabollo Loco made since 1992 (the year of version 1), in what is, effectively, a solera system (as used for sherry and brandy de Jerez).
The idea for Caballo Loco was inspired by the legendary Ribera de Duero, Vega Sicilia Único Gran Reserva, which is produced using the solera method. This is the winemaking technique used for sherry and brandy de Jerez production, in which barrel-aged wines from different years are progressively and fractionally blended for reasons of both complexity and consistency.
The first Caballo Loco was produced in 1994 (Caballo Loco 1) and made from a blend of 50% of that year’s vintage with an aged blend from 1992.
The resulting wine is bottle-aged for at least 18 months before release onto the market, and being a blend of wines from different years, there is, of course, no vintage on the label.
The grapes for the premium Caballo Loco come from four different vineyards in central Chile. The blend of the new wine varies each time it is made. Number 1 for example was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, whilst later editions have contained varieties as diverse as Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. Only Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are ever-present, these being blended with the best grapes from the other varieties that were most successful in the particular year (and best suited to create the intended balance of the Caballo Loco).
Each bottle of this version 17 therefore comprises:
- 50% version 16 and
- 50% of grapes from harvests from 2012 and 2013. New for version 17 was Carignan from Melozal (a sub-region of Maule) and Syrah from Limarí. This variety brings to the Caballo Loco another dimension of complexity, with balanced freshness and acidity.
The result is a wine of great concentration, quite unlike any other on the market. There is intense mature berry fruit on the nose and richness on the palate with velvety tannins, and so many layers of flavours that the wine is almost impossible to describe in detail. The secret blend of grapes from different vintages create intense aromas of dark cherry, coffee, and rich fruitcake. Full bodied on the palate with a beautiful lingering structure.
It is a unique - some say crazy - wine, which is quite incomparable. It has great aromatic complexity and in the mouth, and an ageing potential of at least 10 years.
ABV = 14.5%.
** IN STOCK THURS 17th SEPTEMBER **
The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their April 2019 panel tasting of Chilean Carmenère (see blue link below).
That 2016 vintage was also awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 tasting/article of/on Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25 (see blue link below).
"Ah", you may well say, "but is this 2018 as good as the 2016?"
The Matetic family has a history of settling in new territory and making a success of agriculture. In 1892, the current members’ ancestors made the long journey by sea from the Croatian coast to Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile. They soon acquired large haciendas for sheep and dairy farming. It was only in 1999 that the fourth generation of Chilean Matetic made the move into winemaking.
After a detailed study of the terroir, Jorge Matetic Hartard and his relatives decided to plant vineyards in a previously overlooked side valley of the San Antonio appellation - Rosario. Just 15km from the Pacific Ocean, the rolling hills of Rosario Valley benefits from cooling sea breezes and huge swings in temperature - from as much as 27 deg C in the afternoon to 7 deg C at night. Well drained, quartz-sandy soil requires vines to dig their roots deep into the ground (up to four metres) to find water and nutrients, making for low yields and high-quality fruit.
With the additional purchase in 2005 of vineyards in Casablanca Valley, the Matetic vineyard has a phenomenal range of grape varieties planted - Matetic Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Malbec - but they made their mark early on with the first cold-climate Syrah in 2001.
The Corralillo label is a nod to an old winery on a corral which had once produced wines from the native País grape. These wines - Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and the Winemakers Blend (Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc) express this frontier-pushing terroir with great individuality and draw from plots in Maipo, near Santiago, and Colchagua further south, as well as San Antonio.
Biodynamic viticulture one of the key eco-friendly practices the Matetic Vineyard follows in its winemaking - it is certified organic and sustainable as well as biodynamic. Regarding the Rosario Valley as a single organism, the team works hard to maintain the health of the ground (using Rudolf Steiner’s preparations of quartz, manure, herbs etc in cow horns but only using indigenous materials), the crops and the varied animal life in the ecosystem. Grape pomace is added to compost from the restaurant to be reused in the Matetic vineyards, as is water which has been used to clean barrels. And in human terms, local people make up the majority of staff, and the winery sells woollen and other craft goods made by artisans nearby. It’s all part of a philosophy that aims to make winemaking a venture which will benefit the family and its neighbours for generations to come.
The 2018 Corralillo Carmenere is sourced from the sub-valley of Colchagua Valley, Apalta. The vineyards are located on slopes that receive great sun exposure. The soil's parent material is highly mixed - dominantly colluvial and of granitic origin - but very complex due to the presence of clays, lime and organic matter. These solils have have low fertility - perfect for viticulture - and excellent drainage.
For more detail, especially on winemaking, see the blue link below for the technical note from the winemakers themselves.
95%+ Carmenere, <5% Syrah.
Deep dark violet color with red hues. Very intense on the nose, with a blend of black fruits, cocoa, spices and a piquant hint that characterize this grape variety. On the palate the wine shows great balance between weight and freshness, with a long, lingering finish developing to great volume and structure. An ideal companion for mature cheeses, red meat, charcuterie etc.
ABV = 13.5%.
The 2018 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).
The 2015 vintage (long since sold out in the UK) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in that same panel (blue link below).
The 2015 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 tasting/article of/on Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25 (see blue link below).
Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.
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 were carefully transported to the winery in 400 kg bins and then, selected on a stainless steel 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 reaching 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.
ABV = 12.5%.
** THIS WINE IS BOUGHT IN TO SPECIFIC CUSTOMER ORDER - WE DO NOT HOLD FREE STOCK. ORDERS PLACED BY 9 AM EACH MONDAY WILL BE MET WITH STOCK ARRIVING WITH US ON THE SAME WEDNESDAY FOR DESPATCH (and thus should be with UK customers by the weekend). **
The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of Premium Californian Chardonnay (see blue link below).
See also the techical note from the producer (click blue link below).
Far Niente, one of the earliest stone wineries, derives its name from the Italian phrase "Dolce Far Niente" (how sweet it is to do nothing). It was founded in 1885 and flourished until prohibition. Abandoned for over 60 years, the winery was purchased in 1979 by Gil Nickel. He started the long process of restoring it. Far Niente's quest to produce outstanding wines of distinctive character has led them to a philosophy that requires vineyard ownership. Today, they own 200 acres (3 different vineyard sites) of what many regard as some of the finest vineyard land in the Napa Valley.
Far Niente Chardonnay is a blend of superlative Napa Valley vineyards, many of which are located in a little-known area called Coombsville, a cool growing region nestled in the rolling countryside and protected by the hills east of the city of Napa. Coombsville offers the characteristic climate of Carneros, with less wind, along with deeper, well-drained gravelly loam and volcanic ash soils. The combination of these spectacular vineyards results in the subtle, tropical flavours, complex aromas and uncommon richness that we have long associated with Far Niente Chardonnay.
The 2018 season started out with dry conditions and low snowpack in January, but February and March brought heavy and much needed rains. Budbreak and flowering followed slightly later than in the previous vintages, but the moderate spring weather ensured an even set and abundant crop. Summer saw relatively mild temperatures with plenty of sunshine; the warm days were coupled with cool nights and foggy mornings. The Chardonnay harvest finally began just after ‘Labor Day’, and steadily continued for five weeks. Beautiful sunshine and moderate heat at harvest allowed the large crop to reach optimal flavour maturity with only gradual increases in sugar levels.
The grapes were brought to the winery in small bins and sorted by hand to assure the finest quality. Fermentation began in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and 85% was racked into French oak barrels to complete fermentation in the caves and old stone cellars. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation and was aged for 10 months on its fine lees for additional depth, complexity and texture. The maturation took place in French oak barrels (50% new, 50% used once).
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.
Aromas of citrus, melon and honeysuckle complement hints of white fig, gardenia and toasted hazelnuts on a background of mild toasted oak that adds supportive warmth and richness. A silky palate with a rich texture surrounds a sweet core of melon and citrus, with notes of white floral and toasted vanilla and spice, through to a long bright finish.
ABV = 14.5%.
** THIS WINE IS HELD IN NO OR LOW STOCK BUT IS QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH ON THURSDAY. **
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 expert review tasting of Australian multi-regional blends (see blue link below).
The not-going-to-be-in-the-UK-for-ages-yet 2018 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their Oct 2020 edition regional review of McLaren Vale (see blue link below). Full article available here.
Stephen Pannell is one of the best and brightest of the new generation of Australian winemakers, having spent a decade working as chief red wine maker at Hardys before striking out on his own in 2004. Steve has worked all over the world, including in Italy with Aldo Vajra in Barolo and in France for Domaine Dujac and Pousse d'Or. His broad experience has helped shape his approach to winemaking and his wines are true expressions of the grapes and vineyards of McLaren Vale. In October 2015, Steve was named Winemaker of the Year by the consumer wine magazine, Gourmet Traveller Wine.
The Tempranillo grapes are grown on mature McLaren Vale vines. The Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cao are sourced from McLaren Vale and Barossa.
The 2016 vintage was a vintage of two distinct halves. Winter and spring were exceptionally dry and warm and the vines required additional irrigation to avoid heat stress. Thankfully, a number of rainstorms turned 2016 into one of the wettest and mildest ripening periods. This cool, wet period saved the harvest and allowed for a long maturation period, which resulted in wines with incredible structure and ageing potential.
The parcels were hand-harvested, crushed and traditionally vinified in small open-top fermenters, with no additions other than yeast. Temperatures were maintained between a minimum of 15°C and a maximum of 34°C. Fermentation lasted 10-11 days and during this time the cap was hand plunged and pumped over. The wine spent seven months in 500 litre French oak puncheons, 80% in mature (five to six years old) oak and 20% in new oak.
57% Tempranillo, 29% Touriga Nacional, 14% Tinto Cão.
On the nose, abundant black fruits, cherry, fruit bread and red liquorice are overlaid with jasmine, nutmeg and cinnamon spices. The palate is long, with integrated and granular tannins with a balanced finish. An excellent food wine perfect with grilled sausages or charcuterie and cheese.
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
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, in 2014, were 'A grade certified' by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). 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 2017 harvest was later than previous years, after a cool and slightly wetter summer and growing period. The grapes were hand harvested in the cool of the morning, when the grapes were in pristine condition.
100% estate-grown and certified organic, the grapes are carefully hand-harvested in the cool of the morning and sent straight to the winery where they are destemmed, crushed and gently pressed. The free-run juice is isolated and settled prior to fermenting in French oak barriques, one-third of which are new.
Each barrel is stirred weekly for three months then left on gross lees for a total of nine months when Stephanie conducts a series of tastings to determine the final blend. Once assembled it is bottled without fining.
Very pale white gold. Dried wildflower and lightly stewed apple over nuanced spicy oak. Crisp, lightly savoury, lemony Semillon with texture and length. Layered and flavoursome yet relatively light and bright for what is a wood-aged white, the pristine fruit shining through on the finish, balanced by chalky acidity. Sips nicely on its own but truly shines with grilled white fish or poultry. Worth cellaring through to 2028.
ABV = 12.5%.
The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified organic and biodynamic estate in France. It was founded in 1895 by Michel Cazes and the wines are made by the fourth generation of winemakers, headed up by Emmanuel Cazes. The family makes a range of interesting dry wines alongside the regional specialities, Vin Doux Naturels. They took the decision to move to organic and biodynamic viticulture in 1997. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar.
Maison Cazes is set in the sunniest French region. Since the family started farming biodynamically, they have found that the vineyards are healthier and the vines are stronger, with longer roots. Vines grow on clay and limestone soils, covered by galets roulés (the famous 'pudding stones' also found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The low-yielding vines are about 30 years old, and produce 30 hectolitres per hectare.
40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre. The three varieties were 100% de-stemmed and before being put in separate stainless steel vats. Only naturally occurring yeasts were used; no yeast was added to the must. Fermentation was temperature controlled at 28°C. The residual matter was circulated by pump-overs and the sediment was broken up by hand twice a day to extract the best qualities. The wine was macerated for four weeks before pressing after which it underwent malolactic fermentation.
As well as being biodynamic and organic, this wine is suitable for vegans.
The palate is bright with ripe red and black fruit aromas and rich liquorice notes, balanced by delicate tannins. This wine has a remarkable balance, thanks to its good acidity and freshness. Long finish with white pepper flavours.
ABV = 15.0%.