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Decanter June 18

 

 

Is it Decanter Friday again, Exel?

It certainly is. And it’s a good one.

You always say that. How so this time?

There’s plenty of great reviews in Decanter (www.decanter.com) this month, as ever, and some amazing wines. But often, we know, some of those great wines are a bit 'price-inaccessible'. We know that many customers, most all all, love 95-point wines for under £20 (or a bit over for something a bit more Champagne or Burgundy etc).

This June edition has a fair whack of just those, selected from:

  • a review of World’s Best Grenache Buys by Oz Clarke; this is dominated at the very top by very pricey Priorat/Montsant and Chateauneuf-du-Pape but we have a wonderful 94-point Côtes du Roussillon at just over £17 that shouldn’t be missed;
  • an expert review of Portuguese whites - always hugely under-rated and under-priced - which features two superb 95-point blends, one at just ~£15;
  • an expert review of Chile’s Colchagua Valley, where we lay claim to two excellent, high-scoring and very affordable ‘big’ reds at around the £20 mark; and
  • a panel review of Californian Pinot Noir – not one of our great fortés or sellers, we freely admit (given the typically very high prices) – but we have 3 excellently-priced (in Californian terms) higher-scorers if West Coast Pinot is your thing.

All the featured wines we stock appear at the foot of this page.

I understand your entirely-understated excitement now. I do like a nice Pouilly-Fumé, so I do.

Stop right there. Pouilly-Fuissé, not Pouilly-Fumé. Burgundy, not Loire. Chardonnay, not Sauvignon Blanc. Apricots, not elderflowers. Are we clear?

Just testing. I wanted to check you knew the difference.

Look, we’re wine specialists. It’s what we do.

So, this Pouilly-Fuissé. It's nice, is it?

Oh yes. Very much so. We’d argue that Pouilly-Fuissé is one of the great three or four Burgundy white appellations, and is much acclaimed as the finest away from the Cote d’Or. Pouilly-Fuissé is all about/famed for its richness, opulence and body: it’s at the very southern end of the vineyards of Burgundy proper, and its better ones sit in a sun-drenched, limestone amphitheatre that brings about a ripeness rare in Burgundy. Yet – and this is the beauty of P-F – it maintains good acidity and great minerality in its best examples (which is to say, it doesn’t go all a bit too “hot” and “flabby” for traditional white Burgundy fans). And our top-scorer is no exception.

Whose is it?

It’s ours. Exclusively in the UK, in fact.

Nicely marketed. What I meant was: who’s the producer?

Ah. You did rather set that up for us. That’ll be Domaine Trouillet, whose base sits below the famous Roche Solutré: that big white cliff that appears in photos all the time (like the one below) <and that isn’t High Tor in Matlock, Derbyshire>).

The other Mâcon village appellations of St-Véran, Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles and Viré-Clessé also appear in the review, and Trouillet produce all but the last of those (and also at the Macon-Villages and named Macon village levels). It’s telling (but perhaps unsurprising) that Pouilly-Fuissés dominate the review's upper order (more than 70% of the top 25, and all three Outstandings).

(map from Decanter, www.decanter.com)

Trouillet are very proud of all three of their P-Fs – all made from different terroirs among their vineyards near Solutré-Pouilly - but it is their Cœur de Pouilly - their ‘warmest‘ version - that has captured the cœurs of the Decanter tasting panel. Rather than occupy you too much here, you’ll find plenty of snaps of Domaine Trouillet hereabouts and a little more detail on them as producers on the Cœur de Pouilly product page (click here and/or the bottle below).

You said something about the price, I think?

We certainly did. We’re lucky/determined enough to be doing this one on a direct import from Trouillet. Which means we can offer a daftly good price for a P-F of this quality, acclaim and provenance: that is, £24.50. Really, this should clear £30 (somewhat evidenced by the one other Outstanding that reaches these shores)… but that’s not what we do at Exel.

Sounds too good to be true…

It almost is. However, move quickly, and it’s yours. The too-good-to-be-true bit is that - as so often happens with wines of this calibre - there’s not much to go round. We have ‘just’ 300 bottles of this (arriving May 11th) - once that’s gone, there’s no more coming. We’re not rationing, but we are quite sure that it’ll soon vanish.

 

Domaine de Trouillet 

Cœur de Pouilly Pouilly-Fuissé 2016

£24.50

** SADLY, WE HAVE NOW SOLD OUR ALLOCATION OF THIS WINE AND CANNOT SECURE ANY MORE! **

 

<frantic and fevered ordering noises>

You’re down to 294. Now, something red, please.

Certainly. That Roussillon-Villages from Domaine Cazes is wonderful ... doubly so for the money. And, should you be a bit unsure about Grenache, Oz Clarke has been a wee bit naughty putting that in his 'Best Grenaches' when it is only 40% Grenache. Honestly, it’s really the 40% Syrah and the 20% Mourvèdre that make this quite so good. Moreover, Maison Cazes never leave anything to chance in the quality of their wines, even with their more affordable specimens.

(We know that we don't have the 2014 vintage that Decanter tested and rated - it's alas long since gone at the domaine and UK importers (quite why Decanter do this, we don't know). What we do know is that the 2015 is quite excellent and from a vintage that, for Languedoc-Roussillon as a whole, is generally rated far more highly. And, very hot years here aside (which neither 2014 nor 2015 were), vintages in Roussillon tend to be very consistent).

Domaine Cazes

'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2015

£17.25

This is classic Roussillon-Villages with absolutely masses of flavour, richness and body and - dare we say it, even with the extra elegance and freshness you get with Cazes - that classic rusticity of the Deep South.

Not one for fish, then?

<squints slightly>

Probably not, unless you’re looking at some sort of bouillabaisse-y number, and even then…  Ah, you’re joking. 

<pauses, sees link possibility>

But if fish is/are on your radar (must check: do fish show up on radar?), you should investigate the two highly-rated Portuguese whites. If price is less a barrier, the amazing, 96-point Quinta dos Carvailhas blend – a non-vintage (NV), mixed-age (and already old!) assemblage of Portuguese varieties (plus a decent helping of Semillon) is quite exquisite.  

For superior (and frankly amazing) value at £15.25, the Vale da Capucha white blend from the very edge of Lisbon is not to be missed. Despite being wine merchants <see above>, we didn’t know much about the grapes of Fernao Pires or Arinto either, but we can see just how good this is. Like Rias Baixas from further north, this one has a vivid Taste Of The Ocean about it.

Vale da Capucha Branco Blend 2015

£15.25

Now then... I’ve still a few spaces left in my case.

And more than you think perhaps – we can do cases of 15, you know...

Oooh. Noted. Pray continue...

Then maybe you should try the affordable West Coast Pinot Noirs ... as bang-for-your-(Californian)-buck goes, all of the Truchard, Rodney Strong and (particularly) the MacMurray (at <£16) deserve serious respect, even if they didn’t fully top Decanter's pops (you’d be needing £50 a bottle to do that).

Still got some space and wanting some more big red flavours? The 2 Chilean (Colchagua) reds – one a CGM (Carignan/Grenache/Mourvedre) from Montes, the other a very chichi Carignan from Villolobos – are quite something for the money.

Quite an eclectic bunch, this month …

That they are. Never let it be said that we don’t bring together the New World and Old World for you.

Still looking? We’ve still many of our other Decanter Headliners from previous months (including the ultra-popular Pierre Bertrand Champagne) and try our searchable/filterable compendium of all our Decanter Recommended wines.

We’ve also just taken new stock of some more Paulett’s Clare Valley (Polish Hill River) Rieslings (the new vintages of the 98/96-point scorers of the April Decanter).

We also now have the seriously-classy Whispering Angel rosé at an incredible price and are finding our Il Palagio di Panzano Chiantis (and Super-Tuscans) in high demand.

We'll see you in a month.

I'll be sure to have some questions ready...

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Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition article by Oz Clarke, The world's best Grenache buys (see blue link below). The 2014 has been long sold out at Cazes and in the UK, and we rate the 2015 vintage more highly (2015 was a far superior vintage in Roussillon generally).

Cazes `Ego` Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2014 - June 2018 Decanter review

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 '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.

£17.25

Vale da Capucha Branco Blend 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of Portuguese whites (see blue link below).

Vale da Capucha Branco Blend 2015 - June 2018 Decanter review

The Marques family and their estate, Vale da Capucha, represent the viticultural renaissance that the Lisboa DO has experienced over the last decade. Having grown fruit for bulk wine production for a few generations, they realised that their heritage and terroir was something worth expressing. While their adjacent neighbors routinely turn out yields in excess of 25 tons per hectare, Vale do Capucha has trimmed theirs to under 6.

Only 10 km from the Atlantic Ocean just outside of Lisbon, Vale do Capucha is a property whose wines speak to the presence and proximity of the ocean. Winemaker Pedro Marques has taken the reins of the estate from his family, replanted it entirely with indigenous varieties, and has set about expressing a singular message of terroir. Pedro follows the ethos that 'great wine is made in the vineyard'.  The precept is simple: maximum human work in the vineyard and minimum intervention in the winery. The resulting terroir-driven wines come from a medley of Portuguese varieties.

Capucha refers to the ancient Roman military road that led from Lisbon to Santarai, and both fossilized seashells and ancient Roman artifacts are consistently unearthed on the property, situated on a 400 million year-old thread of Kimmeridgian limestone. With minimal interventionist winemaking, Marques manages to clearly express the minerality and salinity of these ocean-inflected vineyards.

This is a blend dominated by the indigenous variety of Fernao Pires, a grape that possesses of terrific structure and aromatics and demonstrates the minerality of this maritime terroir wonderfully well. Intensity and purity of fruit and mineral character are the hallmarks of Capucha Branco.

80% Fernao Pires, 20% Arinto from organically-grown (certified thus) vines planted in 1996. 

Innoculated fermentation with native yeast strains in stainless steel, cold stabilization. Aged on the lees for 8 months in stainless steel. Unfiltered and unfined.

Exotic tropical and stone fruit, mixed with spice tones, anise, paperwhites and dusty mineral. Unmistakeable sea spray aromas. On the palate, fleshy stone fruit gives way to an intensely mineral backbone with chalk and sea salt providing balance and length.

This wine is suitable for vegans.

£15.25

Quinta dos Carvalhais Dao Branco Especial NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of Portuguese whites (see blue link below)

Quinta Dos Carvalhais Dao Branco Especial NV - June 2018 Decanter review

The 105-hectare Quinta dos Carvalhais is a beautiful property in Mangualde commune in the Dão. Purchased and invested in by the Guedes family, the estate combines the most up-to-date techniques with extensive experience of traditional winemaking practices, creating wines with elegance and personality. In addition to investing in their own vineyards, Quinta dos Carvalhais has also been instrumental in defending the interests and living conditions of many local small winegrowers who sell their grapes.

This property, which today has 50 hectares under vine, was purchased by the Guedes family in 1988. The vineyards were planted on poor granite soils with indigenous Dão varieties (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen and Tinta Pinheira for reds and Encruzado, Assario, Verdelho, Bical and Cerceal for whites), and the modern winery was built soon afterwards. Today, winemaker Beatriz Cabral de Almeida makes an increasingly impressive range of wines from estate vineyards, which are situated at an altitude of 465-500 metres above sea level.

Wines from 2004, 2005 and 2006 make up the blend of Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial. The 2004 and 2005 vintages were excellent and produced ripe grapes with excellent phenolic development. The 2006 vintage had a cold and dry winter. Spring was rainy but May saw good conditions for flowering. Summer alternated between high temperatures and rainy periods, maintaining a fine water and temperature balance which favoured an even ripening. There was occasional rain during the vintage, but this did not affect the quality of the wines.

31% Encruzado, 15% Semillon, 15% Verdelho, 39% other white varieties.

The grapes were loaded directly into the pneumatic press upon arrival at the winery. The must underwent static decantation at low temperatures for a 24-hour period to reach the required level of clarity. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks for about 20 days at temperatures no higher than 16ºC. The wine was made using some of the region's traditional winemaking techniques, including the maturation of white wines for long periods of time in large, old oak casks. This is a blend of grapes from 2004, 2005 and 2006, with an average of eight years ageing in 225-litre oak barrels. During the maturation, intervention was avoided as far as possible. The wines from the different barrels were tasted one by one, and those that showed the best potential for development were selected for the final blend.

Bright golden in colour, the Branco Especial's bouquet has a prevalence of truffles, honey and dried fruits, as well as oak hints and warm spicy notes. It is a dense and structured wine with broad and fragrant aromatics. Its lively acidity is very well-balanced by the full, rich body of the wine. An elegant, complex and very sophisticated white wine.

£34.55

Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuisse 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below).

Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuisse 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Saumaize-Michelin produces wonderful white Burgundies from the best terrains of both Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran. It comprises 9 hectares and is a family-run domaine, managed by Christine (née Michelin) and Roger Saumaize. The domaine is centred in Vergisson, generally famed for its lighter style of Pouilly-Fuissé (although those of Saumaize Michelin tend to buck this trend).

In the vineyard, there is a focus on maintaining the special characteristics and the soil microbes of the particular terroir. Yields are controlled through winter pruning and debudding in spring. Maturity is optimized by manual intervention in the summer (stripping) to improve sunlight and the strength of the grapes

The harvest is undertaken totally by hand and the grapes were harvested in excellent condition. After a gentle pressing in a pneumatic press, the wines are left to settle before both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The lees are stirred regularly (bâtonnage), which adds to the overall complexity of the finished wine.

Succulent, ripe nose of creamy vanilla and pineapples. Rounded and generous palate, offering ripe grapefruits and lemon rind. A judicious use of oak brings depth, texture and nutty characters and helps with the soft finish.

The wine is produced organically and biodynamically, but these are not (yet) certified.

£21.30

Domaine Ferrand Pouilly-Fuissé Prestige 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below)

Domaine Ferrand Pouilly-Fuissé Prestige 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Ferrand is run by Nadine Ferrand who has managed the estate since 1984. Through her courage, determination and intuition she has developed and transformed the vineyard into 10.5 hectares in the heart of the Pouilly-Fuissé. In 2012, Nadine was joined by her eldest daughter Marine, the fourth generation to work in the family business. Having worked in sales and marketing in the wine industry in the United States, Marine has brought with her innovative ideas while continuing the family philosophy of “expressing Chardonnay with a feminine touch”. Their wines are characterised by lovely balance and elegant flavours of fresh butter combined with a typical minerality.

The vineyard sits in the heart of the appellation, on sunny slopes at an altitude of 250 to 300 metres above sea level. Home to 60-year old vines, which are cordon-trained and grown in chalky, limestone and heavy clay soils from the Jurassic period.

The grapes were pneumatically pressed, before being decanted to thermoregulated stainless steel vats, where fermentation took place. 30% of the wine was then aged on its lees in new French oak casks, with a weekly bâtonnage for additional weight, texture and creaminess in the final wine. The wine then went through malolactic fermentation, followed by racking, blending and a light filtering, prior to being bottled.

This wine is suitable for vegans.

A full-flavoured and creamy wine with toasty and buttery notes combined with savoury minerality. Rich and complex with ripe white fruit aromas and subtle hints of oak. On the palate, it is round and creamy with a nutty, toffee finish. 

£25.55

Chateau de Chaintre Pouilly-Fuisse 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below)

Chateau De Chaintre Pouilly-Fuisse 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Château de Chaintré is run by young winemaker Yannick Paquet. Yannick is the son of Jean-Paul and Monique Paquet, who established themselves in Pouilly-Fuissé in 1959. Together the family owns three Pouilly-Fuissé domaines and have been making wines since 1971.

Yannick's domaine, Château de Chaintré, consists of four hectares of Pouilly-Fuissé vines with an average age of 35 years. It is located in Chaintré, with the altitude of the vineyard at 200-300 metres, providing lifted perfumes and crisp acidity. The south and south-west exposure on the limestone and clay soils gives the wine the ripeness and weight that is characteristic of Pouilly Fuissé. The Paquets practice sustainable viticulture or la lutte raisonnée; they apply organic fertiliser annually according to the needs of every plot. Meticulous leaf plucking to increase airflow and exposure to sunlight is employed to combat fungal diseases instead of using sprays. 

After the grapes are hand-harvested, they are sorted to ensure only the healthiest and ripest grapes are vinified. The grapes are pressed gently with a pneumatic press before being put into stainless steel tanks to settle and ferment using indigenous yeasts. The wines are then aged in 90% stainless steel and 10% oak barrels (50% new and 50% second- and third-fill) for 11 months on their fine lees to add depth and complexity. 

Fresh and fruity, this Pouilly-Fuissé has an excellent balance between ripe stone fruit aromas and delicate mineral characters from the limestone clay soil.

£21.20

Domaine Ferrand Saint-Veran 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below)

Domaine Ferrand Saint-Veran 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Ferrand is run by Nadine Ferrand who has managed the estate since 1984. Through her courage, determination and intuition she has developed and transformed the vineyard into 10.5 hectares in the heart of the Pouilly Fuissé. In 2012, Nadine was joined by her eldest daughter Marine, the fourth generation to work in the family business. Having worked in sales and marketing in the wine industry in the United States, Marine has brought with her innovative ideas while continuing the family philosophy of “expressing Chardonnay with a feminine touch”. Their wines are characterised by lovely balance and elegant flavours of fresh butter combined with a typical minerality.

2016 was generally a challenging vintage due to damaging hailstorms and widespread frosts which resulted in lower yields. Fine weather in September helped to rescue this vintage. The fruit that remained was good quality, without extremes of acidity, alcohol or fruit concentration. Classic Burgundy style.

Saint Véran is an appellation for dry white wines made from Chardonnay, which is situated in southern half of the Mâconnais subregion of Burgundy. The Domaine Ferrand vineyard is situated in the village of Solutré-Pouilly, on eastern and south-eastern-facing sunny slopes at an altitude of 250 to 300 metres above sea level. The vines have an average age of 50 years, with deep root systems penetrating the layers of soil, imparting complexity to the resulting wine. The soils are clay and chalk from the Jurassic period.

The grapes were harvested by hand and carefully sorted. Traditional vinification followed: the grapes were pneumatically pressed and fermented in stainless steel at controlled low temperatures. The wine was made in an unoaked style to express the terroir and purity of fruit. Once fermentation was complete, the wine was racked, blended and bottled between April and September, in order to retain the fresh style.

This wine is suitable for vegans.

A refreshing and velvety white with juicy white pear and delicate notes of zesty lemon and pineapple: this is refreshing, complex and velvety. Ripe fruit flavours of juicy white pear combine with delicate notes of zesty lemon. Softly textured, with a harmonious balance between refreshing acidity and fruitiness, this shows great finesse on the finish. 

£17.60

Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuisse Clos Sur La Roche 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 86 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of the 2016 vintage of the Maconnais village appellations (see blue link below)

Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuisse Clos Sur La Roche 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Saumaize-Michelin produces wonderful white Burgundies from the best terrains of both Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran. It comprises 9 hectares and is a family-run domaine, managed by Christine (née Michelin) and Roger Saumaize. The domaine is centred in Vergisson - 12km to the south of Mâcon - generally famed for its lighter style of Pouilly-Fuissé (although those of Saumaize-Michelin tend to buck this trend).

In the vineyard, there is a focus on maintaining the special characteristics and the soil microbes of the particular terroir. Yields are controlled through winter pruning and debudding in spring. Maturity is optimized by manual intervention in the summer (stripping) to improve sunlight and the strength of the grapes

Hand-harvested from steeply sloping, south and south easterly facing vineyards around the village of Vergisson. The grapes are gently pressed in a pneumatic press. After letting the wines settle all the juice is placed in barriques where it undergoes alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. The lees are stirred regularly (bâtonnage) which adds to the overall complexity of the finished wine. The wine spends 8 to 11 months in oak barriques.

Fragrant minerals, white fruit and floral aromas are abundant on the nose. It is powerfull and concentrated on the palate with plenty of peach, apple and ripe pear fruits coating its multi-faceted mineral edge. The finish stays full and stony, with a citrus finish.

The wine is produced organically and biodynamically, but these are not (yet) certified.

£27.60

Truchard Carneros Pinot Noir 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of California Pinot Noirs (see blue link below)

Truchard Carneros Pinot Noir 2014 - June 2018 Decanter review

We can do no better here than to direct you to the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Truchard Carneros Pinot Noir 2014 - fiche technique

£26.50

Littorai Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of California Pinot Noirs (see blue link below)

Littorai Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Husband and wife team Ted and Heidi Lemon are behind this family run winery, established in 1993. Ted began his career in Burgundy and has worked for some of the region's top estates including Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault where he was winemaker and vineyard manager, the first American to ever hold such a position in Burgundy! Heidi has similarly worked for some of California's top producers including Robert Long Vineyards and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. Ted and Heidi's mission with Littorai was to find the best spot to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay along the littoral (coastal) zones of the U.S.A. They searched the west coast before finally finding their top spot in the 'true' north of California - the coastal mountains of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. All the vineyards have been farmed biodynamically since 2001 and there is minimal intervention in the winemaking.

The Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir comprises declassified fruit from Littorai’s vineyard designated wines and from additional Sonoma Coast vineyard sites. The wine is a blend of sites farmed conventionally, others farmed organically and others farmed using biodynamically. The cool climate in this beautiful part of California gives wines of superb elegance.

In 2016, California experienced very heavy rainfall in autumn. Although it partially relieved the extended drought of the region, it also caused some flood damage. Lower than normal temperatures in August allowed for a steady, gradual ripening, which produced wines with higher-than-average natural acidity and great balance.

The grapes were whole cluster fermented in traditional open-top fermenters with native yeasts, after which the wine underwent full malolactic fermentation. It was then aged in French oak barrels, 15% of which were new, for a period of ten months.

This Pinot Noir has a light body but great depth of flavour. With aromas of red and black fruits, and a touch of white pepper and chocolate. On the nose, the palate is balanced and fresh, with supple tannins and good acidity.

£51.00

MacMurray Central Coast Pinot Noir 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of California Pinot Noirs (see blue link below)

MacMurray Central Coast Pinot Noir 2014 - June 2018 Decanter review

We can do no better here than to direct you to the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

MacMurray Central Coast Pinot Noir 2014 - fiche technique

£15.60

Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition review of California Pinot Noirs (see blue link below)

Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River 2014 - June 2018 Decanter review

We can do no better here than to direct you to the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Rodney Strong Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River 2014 - fiche technique

£22.20

Villalobos Carignan Reserva 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition article on Chile's Colchagua Valley (see blue link below)

Villalobos Carignan Reserva 2015 - June 2018 Decanter review

The Vilalobos family consists of the mother, Rita Encina, a professional ceramicist, the father Enrique Villalobos, a sculptor, and their sons: Martin and Renaldo are both civilic engineers and Alejandro is a philosophy professor. Each has their own profession, but they unite around their vineyards and viticulture.

They started making wine in 2007 with a small production from the family. It was only to be a small production for the family and friends made by their friend Martin Rousseau. They persevered, and began to make some of the most celebrated wines in Chile. The first commercial harvest in 2009 was awarded best Carignan in Chile from Descorchados.

This 60-year-old, non-industrial, organic vineyard continues to be in its wild state, without any pruning, irrigation or the use of chemical products such as pesticides or herbicides. The vineyard’s distinguishing feature is its untouched wilderness where for over the last 40 years Carignan vines have grown side-by-side native vegetation. This vineyard is bio-diverse, hosting a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including culen, maiten, quillai, hawthorn and rosehip, among others. The vineyard’s unique surroundings are instrumental in keeping the vines pest- and disease-free. The vines grow freely among the trees climbing them for structural support. In fact, one comes across vines making their way up four-meter trees alongside shrub-like vines three meters thick.

The vineyard is located 30 km from the Pacific coast, settled in a warm, temperate climate with six to eight months of dry season yearly and up to 20-degree temperature differences. Particularly in the summer months, daily temperatures can range from 30°C to 10°C.

100% Carignan from old vines planted in the 1950s and 1960s. Total production is just 6,000 bottles, some evidence of the tight (and quality-inducing) yields pursued. 

Fermented and macerated for 10 days with natural yests in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrels, followed by 18 months of ageing in French oak barrels (these used 3 times previously, ie limited oak flavour is deliberately imparted to the Carignan to preserve maximum fruit flavour/integrity whilst allowing tannis to soften).

This wine is suitable for vegans.

Bright and intense ruby-red. Nose with a hint of wild blackberry and elegantly defined maqui berry.  Delicate, soft and round tannins on the palate with a food-friendly acidity bearing traces of cherry and strawberry.

£21.45

Montes Outer Limits Wild Slopes CGM 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition article on Chile's Colchagua Valley (see blue link below)

Montes Outer Limits Wild Slopes CGM 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim to produce the best wines in Chile from the best regions. We have long admired Montes and what they have done for Chilean wine over the past three decades. Their wines are consistently good because they are meticulous throughout the entire production process. The Outer Limits wines were born out of Aurelio Montes' desire to push Chilean viticulture in a new direction. The 45-hectare Zapallar Vineyard in the Aconcagua Valley was Montes' first venture into the 'outer limits'. Due to the balance and concentration in the Outer Limits wines, they can be enjoyed now or allowed to age for a few years, rewarding with a wonderfully complex bouquet.

All the grapes come from Montes' own single vineyard, 'La Finca Apalta', in Apalta, arguably one of the finest sites for red wine grape growing in Chile. Vines in Apalta are planted on 45° slopes providing good exposure which helps achieve ripeness. Even at 60km away, the ocean has an influence, with cool breezes moderating this warm area. In addition, low night-time temperatures prolong ripening, allowing for the slow development and retention of varietal aromas and acidity. All grapes were hand-harvested.

The 2015-2016 season began with a normal winter in terms of precipitation, followed by a cool spring that enabled optimal budbreak and foliage development. Rainfall in October meant soils had correct levels of moisture to support growth throughout the rest of the season. The summer also began very cool, but February was one of the hottest in recent years. March was colder, which slowed ripening by 2 or 3 weeks, although the weather conditions were favourable up until harvest.

50% Carignano/Carignan, 30% Grenache/Garnacha, 20% Mourvedre.

The grapes were cold-soaked at 10°c for 7 days to extract aroma and colour. Fermentation occurred in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 10 days following which the juice was kept on its skins for a further 20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 12 months to add complexity and roundness.

This wine is suitable for vegans.

The nose offers red fruit such as plums and wild berries, notes of herbs, dried figs and liquorice, accompanied by subtle chocolate and cinnamon touches from the French oak ageing. The palate is refreshing, with good acidity and fruit expression and smooth, juicy tannins. Black and red fruit emerges here, with an elegant and persistent finish.

£19.55

Domaine Richaud Terre De Galets Cotes du Rhone 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recomended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) - in their December 2017 edition - in their Weekday Wines column (see blue link below)

Domaine Richaud Terre De Galets Cotes du Rhone 2016 - June 2018 Decanter review

Domaine Richaud might be situated closer to the Languedoc than Burgundy, but stylistically Marcel Richaud sees himself as having more in common with the Côte d'Or. He is dismissive of what he describes as the over-extracted styles of the south. The key, he says, is balance and this begins in the meticulously tended vineyards. His new winery has a range of smaller tanks, giving greater flexibility for blending smaller parcels of wine.

The vineyards cover 55 hectares outside the village of Cairanne, on the road to Rasteau in the Côtes du Rhône. The vines are bush trained and low yielding and are 30 years old on average. Yields are approximately 38-45 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes for this wine are grown in Les Garrigues, Paligot and Beauchières vineyards. The soil consists of ancient sandy, gravelly and stony soils in the valleys of Algues and Ouveze. The vineyards are certified organic by Ecocert.

2016 was a classic vintage. Drought conditions produced smaller berries with less juice meaning lower yields, but other than that there was little to be concerned. The growing season got off to an early start, without the excessive humidity. Summer arrived earlier as well, and flowering occurred in nearly ideal conditions. The second half of the season was warm and very dry. While the hot and dry conditions persisted, the cool nights helped mitigate the effects of the heat.

Traditional vinification took place in concrete tanks where the wine remained until bottling, after which it was stored in temperature-controlled underground cellars until release.

This wine is light garnet in colour, with notes of red fruits and black olive. Fresh and balanced on the palate, with hints of violets, it has good structure, rounded tannins and a long finish.

£18.55
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