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Decanter June

I'm finding it pretty tricky keeping track of time - days, weeks, months, just-about-everything - at the moment. Frankly, Decanter (www.decanter.com) don't make that any easier by releasing their June edition just as we go from April to May. 

At least we can all agree this is 2020. Normally, even the years all blur a bit in my head these days. But we'll not forget this one. When we joked of '2020 visions' back in January, I'm not sure this was what any of us had in mind. All we (at Exel) can do for now is keep trying to make wine(s) as fun as possible and keep bringing you new ones to make Lockdown and Unlock as interesting as possible.

The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine  (where we've been able to show them) appear on each product page.

The June edition - and the issues that follow - will be something of diminution - at least in terms of volume of content - of what Decanter had intended. We're down to one panel test per month for a few months to try to eke out the issues that can use the panel tests already 'in the can' (these being tricky to conduct of late).

We've included the other wines from feature articles in the magazine (and some great wines emerge there) below, but our key focus this edition is that panel test...  of Loire Sauvignon Blanc.

Oh la la! L'elegance, la finesse, etc etc.

What's under test? Pretty much anything from the core regions of the upper/central Loire ... such classic AOCs/names as Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre and Menetou-Salon, plus the outliers of Quincy, Reuilly and the broader downstream area of Touraine (as one heads intyo Chenon Blanc country). Map-wise, that looks a bit like this:

map courtesy of Decanter (www.decanter.com)

 

Some general chat

But those names: Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre.

Come with me on another journey, this one back in time; bear with and indulge me, if you will. It is 1998: the Spice Girls and Jamiroquai (Heaven forbid) are in the charts. France are closing in on an unexpected World Cup victory. Most importantly, the sea trout are coming in from the Atlantic. Your narrator, you see, is working as a fishing ghillie (rowing boats up and down a loch) by day and serving wine in a far North Highland fishing hotel by night. The celebration of a (rare) good fish - accompanied, very occasionally, by the fish itself - will seldom be made with Champagne, Chablis or Burgundy. Rather, beaming guests will descend to enter the dining room and announce, just a little too loudly, "I believe we'll take the <dramatic pausePouilly-Fumé" or "shall we make that the <coughs, turns to onlooking tables> Sancerre?"

Loire Sauvignon was a statement of luxury, of taste, of class. This may have been the peak of fashionability for what was then the cutting edge of Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough (NZ) was becoming known but was still small in Europe, even the UK. Pretenders elsewhere were small in number, volume and quality.

Since, so much has changed. New World Sauvignon is now largely its definition. The Old World (Rueda, northern Italy, say) is producing some star turns. France itself sees Sauvignon appearing from - and strengthening in - other quarters (not least of which, Bordeaux), and there is alas overall dilution in quality of Loire SB as more producers seek to use the big appellation names without the historic care that was their watchword (see also for this trend: Rioja, Cava, Chianti...).

But not all is bad. Far from it: the great producers of the 'Central Vineyards' of the Loire have largely maintained its quality and prestige. What is good is still very good. And, especially in Touraine, there is now mid-priced (£10-£15) Loire Sauvignon that is increasingly excellent. 

Obviously, the Decanter review focuses on what is good. We've made sure we're offering one of the wines that is Outstanding. We'll get to that in just a second. But first, just a few 'primer' bullet points on the region and its wines ...

 

Loire Sauvignon - a starter for ten

  • Everything here is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Nobody's throwing in a spot of Pinot Gris (say) as a makeweight.
  • Ripeness here is a different concept to New Zealand. Grapes reach full phenolic ripeness here at higher acidity and lower alcohol than in Marlborough. There's often a line put about that Loire SB isn't really ripe in some way. It is; the producers of the Loire might indeed claim that NZSB is (perhaps) over-ripe. Let's not go down that road right now.
  • Geology is a huge part of the story. Sancerre has a continuum of three quite different geologies that underly the appellation: a) the clay-limestone terres blanches of the west; b) the gravelly cailottes of its centre; and c) the flinty silex soils to the east, around the hilltop village of Sancerre itself. Respectively, these soil types lend themselves to: a) fuller, more powerful wines; b) elegant, delicate wines; and c) mineral, longer-ageing and more-perfumed wines.
  • The Pouilly-Fumé appellation is on silex soil (in the main); its wines are akin to the last Sancerre category above, most of all.
  • It is said it is easy to tell a Sancerre from Pouilly-Fumé. In my view, it definitely is not, especially if you run into a silex-driven Sancerre. Most Sancerres, though, are a blend of different vineyards and soils - for overall balance - which helps. Generally, though, P-Fs are quite flinty, mineral and aromatic; Sancerre is typically fuller and richer.

photo courtesy of Christophe Mouton (www.christophemouton.com)

  • It's often said that Loire Sauvignons - especially P-F and Sancerre - are instantly recognisable over everything else. I wouldn't go with that either (especially having fouled this up spectacularly in wine exams). It so turns out that Sauvignon Blanc is a great vehicle/vector of terroir (it seldoms receives the praise for this that Chardonnay or Pinot Noir do) and transmits those soil/geological influences to the nose and mouth very well, over-riding the influence of grape variety. Which is why Sancerre can very often taste like Chablis (100% Chardonnay), and nothing like NZSB, or even SB from Chile or South Africa.
  • Taking forward that Chablis idea, much good Loire SB ages well. It's often held that SB doesn't have the DNA to age. There's 20 years in some of the top wines here, if you like the developed (often quite asparagus-sy) notes of ageing SB.
  • Expect to run into unexpected oak here and there. Most Loire SB is all about steel, freshness and acidity. But many top producers either (or both) barrel-ferment and/or barrel-age some proportion of their upper wines in oak.
  • Menetou-Salon can be (and often is) a hidden gem: it's typically 65-75% of the price of neighbouring Sancerre but often as good.
  • That said, it's Sancerre that has typically fared best in the huge frosts of the last few years (reason: hiller topography and higher vineyards => steeper-sloping vineyards => cold air slides down to below vineyard level).
  • Touraine Sauvignon Blanc is typically cheaper, shorter-lived, fuller in the mouth and excellent value.

 

The Decanter review

The review used its time-honoured, panel-based, blind-tasted approach.

  • 90 wines were scrutinised.
  • Of those, two emerged as Outstanding (95 points or above), and another 31 as Highly Recommended (90 points or above).
  • There was no stipulation on vintages under test (2017-19 accounted for almost all), and no particular vintage emerged as best (there were fears that the badly-frost-affected 2018s might not measure up; this fear was not realised).
  • There was, however, a clear trend among districts and appellations. Of the 33 top wines, 19 were Sancerres; only 4 were from Pouilly-Fumé (+ 5 from Menetou-Salon and 5 from elsewhere). For those of us with a visceral and historic love of/affinity for P-F, this was a bit of a blow/shock.
  • Although the upper wines on test are clear candidates for long(er) ageing, virtually all wines emerged as 'drinking now'.

 

Our top scorer

We offer one of the two Outstandings. We have 600 bottles waiting to leave to loving homes. Beyond those 600, we will struggle to source more. If you fancy this wine, it's probably best not to hang about.

That top-scorer is from from one of the greats of Sancerre (named by Jancis as one of its finest exponents). Lucien Crochet's Les Calcaires 2017 is drawn from a range of his plots near Bué, one of the key Sancerre villages. There's a heap more info on Crochet on the product page for Les Calcaires and on his/their website.

It drew, as you'd rather expect, great praise from the judging panel. We can italicise their quotes in bold, or just let you take a gander at the review below. Certainly, "brilliant energy and aromatics", "very clean and precise" and "massive focus and grip" are suitable statements ("sweaty," we really do not get...)

Some may spot:

a) the far drinking horizon of 2035. Leading to the question: can I drink it now? You certainly can. Its time in bottle and high fruit concentration already make this glass-ready ... and you have a superb wine in front of you. That's flexibility that is: no need to glug this by Christmas, no need to keep if for the grandchildren. But if you like the tones of ageing, this will do that beautifully. Take some to drink; save some for a few years' time. It's up to you. Whichever you choose, the Les Calcaires is an excellent partner.

b) the price: Decanter shows £19.18 while we're at £21.00. We'd love to be under £20, but we can't do that here, despite shaving our margin to the bone. But neither, actually, unless you're very quick and prepared to buy a lot, can the named party there. £21 is a very fine price for this wine; we have it ready to leave.


Demand, as ever, will be for the very top wine(s). We don't offer a vast array more, especially with reliable sourcing being a definite concern at the current time. For balance and variety, and from this review, we offer the oaked and delightful Les Calcis Pouilly-Fumé from Tabordet (2017, 90 points), Reverdy's Domaine de Villaudiere Sancerre (2018, 90 points) and Cherrier's Domaine de la Rossignole (2018, 91 points), all at UK-beating prices.

 

And also, on the subject of Loire SB...

Off the back of this Loire SB focus, we do have a great offer available, although we aren't claiming the following wines were themselves panel tested. Which is not to doubt their quality: one is an upper 'house' Loire SB at a very-well-known, 3-star Michelin restaurant (this is indeed their stranded stock) and the Menetou's 2019 vintage scores 91 in the panel. Perhaps the biggest statement is that these are from Joseph Mellot, another of the super-classic names of the upper Loire.

We've managed to secure a block of a Menetou, a Pouilly-Fumé and a Sancerre at great prices (£13.95, £15.50 and 16.95 resp). If you fancy a little stocking up for immediate/more everyday drinking that you might intend for the Crochet, here is a fine opportunity indeed. These wines are all £3-£5 lower in price than they really ought to be. And they present a chance, not only to find a rare Menetou (only 12% of all Menetou is exported), but also to compare and contrast these three classic appellations. But move quickly: there are not many of these to go round. Click the banner below.

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Elsewhere in the magazine, there's an equally white feature: Aussie Chardonnay: 20 Wines To Snap Up. It makes, quite rightly, the point that, outside of Burgundy, nobody does Chardonnay as well as the Australians. It showcases a number of styles, from the flinty, lean, mineral, citric, Chablisienne end of the market to the rich, opulent, buttery, tropical and oaked numbers. The top three wines average £50+, but there is some fine value to be found here. We offer these three:

  • Shaw + Smith's M3 (2018) - 94 points - from the Adelaide Hills has become an Australian icon Chardonnay (so much so, it was used to typify the Australian creed in my WSET Diploma tasting exam). It is a work of art at under £25. Decanter talk of flintiness and linearity, but I personally regard the M3 as a clear contender for the effects of the cellar/winemaking on a Chardonnay and as being rather richer than that. It is a benchmark Chardonnay and is not to be missed.
  • Larry Cherubino's (Ad Hoc) Hen & Chicken (2018) - 91 points - from Pemberton, Western Australia is the value pick at £14.35. This is riper and fuller, tastes better than its price might suggest and and is suddenly very popular....

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For the feeling-rather-left-out red wine drinker, thers is salvation in Weekday Wines, where Andeluna's Altitud Malbec 2016 ("a feral animal quality to its dark berry richness") and Jaboulet's 2017 Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage ("serious, but smooth and supple, and ever so easy to drink") score 91 and 92 points respectively.

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Domaine Tabordet Les Calcis Pouilly Fume 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition panel tasting of Loire Sauvignon Blanc (see blue link below).

Domaine Tabordet Les Calcis Pouilly-Fume 2017 - June 2020 Decanter review

Run by Pascal and Marie-Laure together with their son Marius, Domaine Tabordet is a 19-hectare estate, including five hectares in Sancerre and 14 ha in Pouilly-Fumé. The domain is very much a family business, run in a traditional spirit, but using the latest winemaking technology. The vineyards are managed with the utmost respect for sustainability and biodiversity. The resulting wines are a true reflection of the diverse terroirs which make up their estate, showing characteristic flinty flavours, with good weight and a full body.

The winter was mild, with cold spells in January. Spring was marked by frost, which affected some vines. The summer warmed up and flowering took place under good weather conditions. The summer remained warm and was very dry; as a result the vines stared to get depleted of water. Thankfully a significant storm took place at the end of July, bringing beneficial rainwater. Harvest took place early, starting on 18th September, with grapes having reached good maturity levels and excellent quality.

The vineyard is situated in the heart of the Pouilly Fumé appellation on the right bank of the Loire River. The vines are trained according to the Guyot method. The vineyard is carefully cultivated throughout the year with debudding of the vines, tilling of the soil to reduce the need for herbicides; and certain parcels are left with grass cover to limit the vigour of the vines. Canopy management such as deleafing takes place at the end of June. The soil in the vineyard is made up of Kimmeridgian marl, which is a chalky clay; caillottes a local chalky limestone and silex, a clay with flint throughout. The harvest takes place between mid-September and mid-October when the grapes have reached optimal maturity.

The wine was made with as little intervention as possible, in order to express the characteristics of the grapes and the terroir. The grapes were carefully selected and gently pressed to avoid crushing. The must was transported by gravity into vats, where it was cooled to 10°C and clarified. Fermentation took place in old 600 litre barriques of two to five years. Once fermentation was complete, the wine was aged in the barriques for 10 to 12 months, imparting subtle oak characteristics and structure. The wine was gently filtered prior to being bottled.

Sauvignon Blanc 100%.

A barrel-fermented Pouilly Fumé with good fruit concentration, characteristic flinty notes and a subtle touch of vanilla. The textured palate is beautifully balanced and has a lovely mineral freshness on the long, persistent finish.

ABV = 13.0%. 

£24.70

Joseph Mellot Menetou Salon Les Thureaux 2018 (1x75cl)

The yet-to-arrive-in-the-UK 2019 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition panel tasting of Loire Sauvignon Blanc (see blue link below).

Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux 2017 - June 2020 Decanter review

Deeply rooted in the heart of Sancerre, the history of Joseph Mellot spans 500 years and several generations of the Mellot family. Founded by Pierre-Etienne Mellot in 1513 the family-run estate is today one of Sancerre's largest and undoubtedly most prestigious.

Current owner Catherine Corbeau-Mellot and her team strongly believe in the notion of terroir. Holding close to 100 hectares of land spanning all the appellations of the Central Vineyards, they are committed to bringing out the extraordinary potential and individual nuances of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the different appellations. Joseph Mellot is the only winery that owns vines and produces wines from the seven main appellations of the Central Loire region (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Reuilly, Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant).

See here for an excellent (albeit 10-minute-long) video on (Domaine) Joseph Mellot (French, English subtitles).

Wine production is carried out according to the terroir, so as to respect the specific character of each vintage. The wines are produced at one of three sites, one in Sancerre, one in Maltaverne in Pouilly-Fumé and one in Quincy, giving them a firm control over the wines they make. For white wines, the pressing is slow, and is carried out in pneumatic presses in order to extract the purest juice. For certain plots of land and depending on the years, pressing may be preceded by pre-fermentation maceration.

The vineyard for Les Thureaux is situated near Bourges, south of Sancerre, on gentle slopes. The soil is composed of clay and limestone overlaying Kimmeridgian marls. All vineyard processes are carried out in an environmentally-friendly manner, adapted for each terroir.

For this Menetou-Salon, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the team at Joseph Mellot.

Joseph Mellot Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux 2017 - fiche technique

Sauvignon Blanc 100%.

Pale golden colour, intense and expressive nose. Citrus an tropical fruits notes. Full mouth, steady, citrus and mango aromas. Lovely freshness and aromatic finale.

ABV = 12.5%.

£13.95

Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatellenie 2018 (1x75cl)

Deeply rooted in the heart of Sancerre, the history of Joseph Mellot spans 500 years and several generations of the Mellot family. Founded by Pierre-Etienne Mellot in 1513 the family-run estate is today one of Sancerre's largest and undoubtedly most prestigious.

Current owner Catherine Corbeau-Mellot and her team strongly believe in the notion of terroir. Holding close to 100 hectares of land spanning all the appellations of the Central Vineyards, they are committed to bringing out the extraordinary potential and individual nuances of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the different appellations. Joseph Mellot is the only winery that owns vines and produces wines from the seven main appellations of the Central Loire region (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Reuilly, Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant).

See here for an excellent (albeit 10-minute-long) video on (Domaine) Joseph Mellot (French, English subtitles).

Wine production is carried out according to the terroir, so as to respect the specific character of each vintage. The wines are produced at one of three sites, one in Sancerre, one in Maltaverne in Pouilly-Fumé and one in Quincy, giving them a firm control over the wines they make. For white wines, the pressing is slow, and is carried out in pneumatic presses in order to extract the purest juice. For certain plots of land and depending on the years, pressing may be preceded by pre-fermentation maceration.

La Chatellenie is a single vineyard of 22 hectares with ancient soils from the Cretaceous period. This flint-rich siliceous clay emparts the subtle hint of gun-flint. All vineyard processes are carried out in an environmentally-friendly manner, adapted to each terroir.

For this Sancerre, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note (albeit for the 2017, 2018 sheet pending) from the team at Joseph Mellot.

Joseph Mellot Sancerre La Chatellenie 2018 - fiche technique

Sauvignon Blanc 100%.

Pale gold colour with green hues. Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) Final note of passion fruit. Delicate, supple and harmonious attack, nice fullness. Flintstone notes. Tropical and citrus fruits, long and aromatic final.

ABV = 13.0%.

£16.95

Joseph Mellot Pouilly Fume Le Chant des Vignes 2018 (1x75cl)

Deeply rooted in the heart of Sancerre, the history of Joseph Mellot spans 500 years and several generations of the Mellot family. Founded by Pierre-Etienne Mellot in 1513 the family-run estate is today one of Sancerre's largest and undoubtedly most prestigious.

Current owner Catherine Corbeau-Mellot and her team strongly believe in the notion of terroir. Holding close to 100 hectares of land spanning all the appellations of the Central Vineyards, they are committed to bringing out the extraordinary potential and individual nuances of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from the different appellations. Joseph Mellot is the only winery that owns vines and produces wines from the seven main appellations of the Central Loire region (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy, Reuilly, Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant).

See here for an excellent (albeit 10-minute-long) video on (Domaine) Joseph Mellot (French, English subtitles).

Wine production is carried out according to the terroir, so as to respect the specific character of each vintage. The wines are produced at one of three sites, one in Sancerre, one in Maltaverne in Pouilly-Fumé and one in Quincy, giving them a firm control over the wines they make. For white wines, the pressing is slow, and is carried out in pneumatic presses in order to extract the purest juice. For certain plots of land and depending on the years, pressing may be preceded by pre-fermentation maceration.

The grapes are grown on predominantly siliceous soils. All vineyard processes are carried out in an environmental manner, adapted to each terroir.

For this Pouilly-Fumé, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note (alas only the 2016 is available) from the team at Joseph Mellot.

Joseph Mellot Pouilly-Fume Le Chant Des Vignes 2018 - fiche technique

Sauvignon Blanc 100%.

Yellow pale and brilliant colour with golden hues. Complex nose, citrus fruit and exotic fruit notes. Fresh and vivid attack. Passion fruit and orange aromas. Nice aromatic persistence. 

ABV = 13.0%.

£15.50

Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon Cellar Aged 2013 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition expert review of Hunter Valley Semillon (see blue link below). 

Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon Cellar Aged 2013 - June 2020 Decanter review

Mt Pleasant specialises in single-vineyard wines. Along with the Old Paddock it has Old Hill, Rosehill, Lovedale and Estate vineyards, all with distinctive terroirs to be able to achieve this. Mt Pleasant has quietly carved out a reputation as one of Australia's pre-eminent exponents of Shiraz, Semillon and more recently, Chardonnay. Old vineyards, great single vineyard wines, talented winemakers.

Inspired by the first visit of a reigning monarch to Australia in 1954, this wine is the embodiment of the synergy achieved by combining the noble grape varietal Semillon and the Hunter Valley. Renowned for its unique ability to be enjoyed when fresh and admired when allowed to age gracefully. Mount Pleasant celebrates both styles through 'Elizabeth'.

The growing season started well but lack of rainfall in late Spring meant that irrigation was necessary and the crop was smaller than first thought. A rain event in December helped but overall January was quite dry with extended heat spells and crop tonnage suffered immensely. The Semillon was picked before the next rain event; the fruit was in very sound condition with a good concentration of aromatics and flavor, with a nice acid line.

Once at the winery the Semillon was destemmed and pressed off skins to stainless steel tank. Here the juice was cold settled bright before being racked off, warmed and inoculated for ferment. The juice was fermented with specific neutral yeast strain chosen to promote the vineyard specific flavours, and fermentation was conducted at cold temperatures to retain the delicate flavours. Following fermention the wines were settled, blended and gently fined before being filtered to bottle. 

Semillon 100%.

Pale straw colour. The nose opens with fragrant floral notes of citrus blossom, followed by zesty ripe lime and mandarin aromas. The palate starts with elegant sweet lemon citrus notes followed by mouth-watering acidity. The palate is fine and displays an elegant balance of fruit and zesty acid. The flavours linger in the mouth creating a pleasing finish which is crisp and refreshing.

Can be drunk in its youth, but Hunter Valley Semillon is (almost) all about age and complexity, so: ideally cellared for up to 20 years from vintage (ie until almost 2035).

ABV = 11.0%.

£16.70

Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2018 (1x75cl)

** SOME STOCK as below, MORE ON THURSDAY 10rd SEPTEMBER **

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition article, Aussie Chardonnay: 20 Wines To Snap Up (see blue link below). 

Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2018 - June 2020 Decanter review

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.

Fruit was sourced principally from the Shaw + Smith vineyard at Lenswood, which lies at 500 metres above sea level. Low yields were achieved by aggressive pruning and pre-harvest bunch thinning. All fruit was hand picked to avoid any fruit damage.

The grapes were chilled overnight, whole-bunch pressed, and then fermented in new and used French oak (one third of which was new). The wine was matured for nine months in oak with some lees stirring, then two months in tank on lees prior to bottling.

For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2018 - fiche technique

100% Chardonnay.

The M3 opens with aromas of white flowers, grapefruit, and white peach. Notes of brioche and toast add complexity to the elegant fruit. The palate is long and flavoursome, with great texture and bright acidity. Savoury, toasty nuances from the oak are beautifully integrated and linger on the finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£24.85

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition article, Aussie Chardonnay: 20 Wines To Snap Up (see blue link below). 

Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2016 - June 2020 Decanter review

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

2016 saw the warmest summer in five years in the Mornington Peninsula, with the earliest picking date in 20 years. The harvest delivered clean, healthy fruit in big bunches and with even berries; indeed this vintage produced the cleanest fruit in 10 years. The grapes for the Verve are always picked on the 'edge of ripeness' with a citrus flavour profile. Vineyard The grapes come from a 2.5 hectare block of Chardonnay in an established vineyard of 20 year old vines. The clones are a mix of P58, I10, 95 and 96. Situated at an elevation of 65 metres with a north western orientation, the vineyard has a great airflow, which minimises disease pressure as the canopy dries quickly. The soil is sandy loam which provides excellent drainage, essential nutrients for vine health and imparts a minerality to the flavour profile.

The fruit was picked to highlight the citrus spectrum, in particular grapefruit, hence the name ‘Verve’ which accurately describes the racy character of this wine. Whole bunches were chilled overnight prior to vinification in the gravity-fed winery. The grapes were whole bunched pressed and transferred by gravity to old French barriques at temperatures of 25 to 32°C. Spontaneous fermentation took place with indigenous vineyard yeasts. The wine spent 12 months in oak with full lees contact, imparting texture and complexity. The wine was gently fined and filtered prior to bottling.

100% Chardonnay.

The name Verve encapsulates its style, showing distinctive grapefruit and citrus aromas. Vibrant perfume of Granny Smith apple, honeysuckle blossom and lime zest enhanced by stone fruit flavours, long and elegant.The palate almost gives you the illusion of richness due to the intensity of the fruit, then the crisp, dry finish lingers in an everlasting finale.

ABV = 12.5%.

£26.40

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken Chardonnay 2019 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition article, Aussie Chardonnay: 20 Wines To Snap Up (see blue link below). 

Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc Hen And Chicken Chardonnay 2018 - June 2020 Decanter review

Named Winery of the Year by James Halliday and Matt Skinner, Larry Cherubino wants his wines to be distinctive and to speak clearly of their variety and vineyard site. He believes in paying meticulous attention to the vineyard, canopy and water management, picking at the right time and minimal intervention in the winery. Larry also makes wine under the Laissez Faire label, an exquisite range of natural wines which are the ultimate expression of site, made in small batches from hand harvested grapes. From delicate whites to opulent reds, all his wines have pure class and finesse.

A dry start to the winter was followed by timely spring rains. The summer was mild and dry with temperatures below 30°C which allowed the fruit to ripen very slowly, resulting in strong acidity levels for the whites and deep colours for the reds, with full flavours and lower sugar levels. 2018 was a very good vintage across the region.

The Chardonnay vines were planted in the Channybearup vineyard in 1999, which is located in Pemberton, Western Australia. The vines are planted at a density of 1,800 vines per hectare using Gin Gin clones onto their own rootstocks. Planted with a northern orientation, this maximises the sun's exposure to the vines and promotes even ripening, while irrigation ensures the optimum amount of water reaches the roots for growth. The soils are Genassic in formation.

The fruit was hand-picked, whole bunched pressed and then fermented with natural yeasts. Once fermentation was complete, the wine was aged in new and two year old oak, prior to being bottled. 

Chardonnay 100%.

A pale, beautifully balanced Chardonnay with hints of vanilla on the nose and a winning cool climate acidity. Careful oak treatment has resulted in a wine of depth and balance. An inviting and creamy wine with green apple, melon and citrus aromas enhanced by buttered brioche and a lovely freshness on the finish.

ABV = 12.5%.

£14.35

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes Hermitage Rouge Les Jalets 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition's Weekday Wines (see  blue link below). 

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes Hermitage Rouge Les Jalets 2017 - June 2020 Decanter review

Since the early 19th Century, Paul Jaboulet Ainé has been synonymous with quality wine in the Rhône Valley. Jaboulet’s Hermitages - white and red - and most of their upper wines - are the stuff of legend. The famous Rhone winery was bought by the Frey family in 2006. The Freys, owners of Chateau la Lagune in Bordeaux, saw the potential of the vineyards. They brought renewed energy to this corner of France and to one of its greatest names.

The name Les Jalets comes from the soil nature of the vineyards, located in the plain of Les Chassis, stemming from the word jalets, is the Old French word for the pebbles left by alpine glaciers, as famously found at Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Average vine age is around 25 years. 

100% Syrah. Grapes were destemmed, crushed and subject to a thermo-regulated alcoholic fermentation then vattied over 3 weeks. Ageing/elevage  was in old French oak vats for 12 months.

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

Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes Hermitage Rouge Les Jalets 2017 - fiche technique

Bright ruby red in colour with a violet hue. Round and concentrated. This fruit-driven red Crozes Hermitage is a classic. It shows the real typicity of the area (red berries, liquorice, spices, peppers). On the nose, it is intense but approachable, with perfumes of red berries and a touch of spice. On the palate, it is smooth and rich, with more liquorice on the finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£20.80
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