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Decanter June

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>.

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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 96 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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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....

  

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Catena Zapata Nicolas 2013 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Catena Zapata Nicolas 2013 - June 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of South American Icon wines (see blue link below).

Catena Zapata Nicolas 2013 - October 2017 Decanter review

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 Octover 2018 (see blue link below).

Catena Zapata Nicolas 1997 - Decanter Wine Legend October 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 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Malbec.

See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.

Catena Zapata Nicolas 2013 - fiche technique

£66.50

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2015 (1x75cl)

The forthcoming 2016 vintage was awarded a Gold medal and 96 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2015 - June 2019 Decanter review

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.

A warm winter was followed by a perfectly cool summer and between 10 to 50 per cent more rain than usual in the early autumn harvest months. In the Andeluna vineyards, the sloped stony soils and phenomenal drainage allowed the rain to have a mostly destressing effect on the vines, resulting in an incredible balance of flavours. The Malbec in parcels with stony and limestone soils were undisputed superstars. Due to the warm winter, the 2015 harvest was between 10 and 15 days earlier than usual.

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.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.

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. 

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.

£31.50

Trapiche Iscay Malbec Cabernet Franc 2012 (1x75cl)

The yet-to-arrive-in-the-UK 2013 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).

Trapiche Iscay Malbec Cabernet Franc 2013 - June 2019 Decanter review

The history of Trapiche begins in 1883, in a small vineyard called El Trapiche, in the district of Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, where the grapes for the first fine wines were grown. With more than 130 years of experience, Trapiche has now earned its place as a pioneering brand in the introduction of French vines, the production of varietal wines, the import of French oak barrels and the use of stainless steel tanks. True to its origins, today Trapiche is in a continuous quest for the latest best practices. Led by Daniel Pi, Director of Winemaking, Trapiche's winemaking team permanently strives to improve winemaking practices by exchanging experience and knowledge with winemakers from other wine producing countries such as France, the US, Australia and New Zealand. 

Iscay originates from Trapiche's own vineyards which are situated in Russell, Maipú and Los Arboles, Uco Valley, Mendoza.

This wine is 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Franc.

The Malbec delivers its deep purple-red colour, with aromas of violets, ripe red fruits, a slight touch of spice and generous tannins. The Cabernet Franc contributes black fruit, a balsamic hint and tannins that structure the middle of the mouth. A perfect combination that results in a flavorful wine with great concentration, elegance, complexity and a pure finish. Serve with roasted lamb, game or stews. Also combines beautifully with mushroom dishes and hard cheeses.

£25.30

Caballo Loco 17 NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Caballo Loco 17 NV - June 2019 Decanter review

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

Caballo Loco 17 - fiche technique - English

Caballo Loco 17 - fiche technique - Spanish

For our article on 'the' (this) Caballo Loco, the appellation/Grand Cru Caballo Locos and the better wines of the Valdivieso fleet, click this link.

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.

£33.75

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Garzon and click here for a video on this icon wine.

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 - fiche technique

When Alejandro Bulgheroni and his wife Bettina discovered Garzón, they had a family dream came true: to have the most emblematic winery of modern viticulture in Uruguay and premium wines with an intense personality and a deep sense of belonging to the land. With the advice of international enologist Alberto Antonini, they apply their philosophy which is focused on producing wines that are a true expression of their origins.

Located 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the estate has more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering hillside slopes, which benefit from varying microclimates, different levels of humidity and an intense canopy management. Well-draining granitic soils and cooling Atlantic breezes allow the grapes to ripen steadily. The vineyards are surrounded by lush forests, palm trees, rocky soils and granite boulders. Grapes for Balasto are grown on soils made up of decomposed granite rock, which provides excellent drainage and minerality. This is the key to giving this iconic Uruguayan wine its complexity, energy and vibrancy.

Balasto is one of the most sought-after wines from South America and is made only in the best years. Winter was rainy, meaning underground water reserves were replenished throughout the season, ahead of spring and summer. Spring then saw a cold start, which delayed bud burst and flowering by 10 days. The summer months were dry, but thanks to the water reserves and some occasional rains towards late December, veraison began normally. The dry conditions also reduced disease pressure in the vineyard. The dry weather continued into March until the second half of harvest, and therefore drip irrigation was necessary to obtain sufficient colour and maturity. 2016 yielded perfectly mature grapes without excessive levels of sugar. The resulting wines have excellent acidity and demonstrate freshness and elegance.

45% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Franc, 18% Petit Verdot, 12% Marselan.

The hand-harvested grapes were macerated for five days before fermentation in 80 hectolitre cement tanks, at 26-28ºC for one week with twice daily pump overs. The wine was then transferred to a mix of 25 and 50 hectolitre untoasted French oak barrels (fourth use) for 20 months ageing before being bottled unfiltered

On the nose, this wine is rich with complex aromas of fresh red and black fruits, liquorice, spice and a hint of tobacco. Textural, full bodied and very elegant, the fruit is framed by juicy, vibrant tannins resulting in a wine of real vitality and expression.

£65.95

Vina Leyda La Neblina Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

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).

Vina Leyda La Neblina Riesling 2015 - June 2019 Decanter review

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.

£13.60

Far Niente Chardonnay 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of Premium Californian Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Far Niente Chardonnay 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

See also the techical note from the producer (click blue link below).

Far Niente Chardonnay 2017 - fiche technique

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.

2017 began with a wonderfully cold and much needed wet winter. Spring followed with mild weather for budbreak and some April showers, resulting in average vine growth. Early May brought the first of several intense heat waves, with additional hot spells in mid-June and mid-July. Finally, an especially intense heat event at the beginning of September started the Chardonnay harvest. Cooler weather followed allowing later ripening parcels to be harvested during September.

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 hand-harvested 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 95% 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 (54% new, 46% used once).

This wine is 100% Chardonnay.

Delicate aromas of melon, sweet citrus and white floral notes are layered with nuances of flint, yeast and sweetly toasted oak. A smooth, focused and silky palate delivers ripe flavours of honeydew and lemon, supported by just of touch of wet stone, yeast and toasted hazelnuts. The finish is deliciously mouthwatering and long. Ideal with pan fried scallops or Lobster Thermidor.

£62.20

Morgan Double L Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

The now-depleted 2015 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).

Morgan Double L Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

With more than thirty years’ experience, Dan Lee and the Morgan label have been synonymous with artisan, vineyard-centric wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey. In 1982, Dan and Donna Lee opened the doors of Morgan Winery. Their very first Monterey Chardonnay earned a Gold Medal at the LA County Fair and a Platinum Medal from Wine & Spirits Magazine. Able to pick and choose fruit sources from around the state, Dan eventually turned more of his attention to the Santa Lucia Highlands and single vineyard releases. Dan and Donna invested in their belief in the Highlands with the purchase of the Double L Vineyard in 1996. Today the Double L is one of the best known vineyards in California.

Conscientious, innovative farming regimens allied with traditional, “minimalist” winemaking techniques craft wines of balance, elegance and distinction. For Morgan Winery, this single-minded focus has produced a record of consistent, category leading, award winning wines. Dan’s goal is to produce wines that are “true” - true to the variety and vineyard source and show true balance and complexity, while being enjoyable upon release. Morgan delivers consistency from bottle to bottle, vintage to vintage by nurturing sustainable, long-term relationships with their own vineyard and cellar crews, top-notch growers, and the finest French barrel coopers.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay.

To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been produced by the team at Morgan, please click on the blue link below.

Morgan Double L Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 - fiche technique

£41.20

Truchard Chardonnay 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of Premium Californian Chardonnay (see blue link below).

Truchard Chardonnay 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

The Truchard family's wine tradition began in the U.S. over a century ago in 1887 when the Truchard winery was founded just outside Houston. Since 1973, when Tony and Jo Ann bought the present Truchard estate, it has grown to 400 acres, of which 280 acres are planted. After selling their grapes to premier wineries for 15 years, the Truchards began producing their own wines in 1989 to great acclaim. To accommodate the winery’s increased production, in 1998, they added an 11,000-square-foot wine cave to the premises.

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

Truchard Chardonnay 2016 - fiche technique

£27.65

Chateau Pierre-Bise Savennieres Clos De La Coulaine Claude Papin 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 expert review tasting of Savennières (see blue link below).

Chateau Pierre-Bise Savennieres Clos De La Coulaine Claude Papin 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

Claude Papin, winemaker and owner of Chateau Pierre-Bise, is a leading light in the Loire and a thoroughly engaging conversationalist to boot. Andrew Jefford calls him a ‘poet of Chenin Blanc,’ and Jancis Robinson MW refers to him as ‘one of the most talented wine growers in this part of the world, a true vine technician.’ His approach to Chenin Blanc can be summed up in his own words: "The Chenin is made by botrytization. If there isn’t any, it always makes hard wine. Even my dry wines are made with about 50% botrytization. This translates in the wine as honeyed notes."

The presence of some botrytis in a dry wine and the slightly oxidative winemaking style produces complex wines that often require time, food and thought. They are well worth the effort though, as any true fan of Loire wine will tell you.

This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc.

Here are Joanna Simons' thoughts on this wine which was listed on her website as 'Wine of the Week' in April 2019.

"Savennières from a favoured vintage and good producer is an absolute treasure – dry and mineral, yet honeyed, especially after a couple of years' age, and always carried by pivotal acidity. The appellation is just west of Angers on schist hills on the north bank of the Loire and 2016 was a year in which frost wreaked havoc, but for the vineyards that were spared it closed on a high with a sunny, warm late summer. The result is intensity of flavour, silky texture, laser-precise acidity (although lower than in some vintages) and signature Loire Chenin Blanc notes of apricot, sweet apple, hay and minerals. It's a riveting aperitif, but the combination of rich fruit and good acidity makes it a match for creamy fish dishes such as fish pie, shellfish such as scallops with, say, lardons or a purée of sweetcorn or petit pois, roast pork belly, including with apple, and with Beaufort, Comté and similar firm, mountain cheeses. It could also handle some trickier dishes."

£19.65

Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 article on Italian grape varieties in Australia (see blue link below).

Mount Horrocks Nero D’Avola 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

Mount Horrocks Wines is run by proprietor/winemaker Stephanie Toole. Stephanie restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per annum in order to achieve her aims of quality and single vineyard expression. Stephanie describes her wines as 'essentially hand made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours'. All grapes are 100% estate grown from three separate vineyard sites totalling nearly 10 hectares which were 'A grade certified' by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). In 2014, her persistence with classic, nocompromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream.

The Mount Horrocks Nero d'Avola was produced from low yielding vines planted in 2007 on the estate owned single vineyard in Watervale, Clare Valley, which has a northerly aspect. Soils are red clay over limestone and the vines are trained to vertical shoot position.

The fruit was hand-picked and fermented to dryness on skins to improve structure, and pumped over five times a day with maximum temperatures reaching 28-30°C. It was racked into barriques and aged for 18 months in French oak, 30% of which was new. Just 300 cases were produced.

A bright cherry/plum red. Vibrant fruity scents, perfumed, and lightly floral. Deliciously juicy with freshness and crisp tannin to match. Savoury dark cherry, raspberry and plummy fruit with appealing spice accents. Lovely mid-weight, with a cleansing palate and intense cherries on the finish.

£22.70

Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 (1x75cl)

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).

Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

The success of Penfolds has been driven by the generations of visionaries and innovators. From the beginning in 1844 to today, the merging of science, art and innovation has driven Penfolds to become one of Australia’s most famed and respected winemakers.

Penfolds vineyards are located primarily in South Australia on prime land throughout the state’s renowned viticultural regions. Throughout its history, Penfolds has owned and leased vineyards in addition to sourcing grapes from independent growers. This strategy reflects the tradition of multi-vineyard and multi-regional sourcing first introduced in the 1860s. This allows for a consistency of style and quality across vintages, of which Penfolds is renowned for.

Bin 311 Chardonnay truly reflects the winemakers’ mantra "we always go where the fruit grows best and where it best suits style". In 2017, the fruit sourcing for this wine has moved to cool-climate multi-regional; Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and Tumbarumba. In true Bin 311 style, it exhibits lemon/lime aromas and a mineral acid backbone, complemented by barrel fermentation and maturation in French oak.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay.

to see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been put together by the team at Penfolds, please click on the blue link below.

Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 - fiche technique

£32.35

Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 expert review tasting of Australian multi-regional blends (see blue link below).

Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz 2015 - June 2019 Decanter review

With imposing, rugged cliff faces casting shadows across ancient vine plantings, Mount Langi Ghiran is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Great Dividing Range in the Grampians region of Victoria. The Mount Langi Ghiran (Aboriginal for home of the yellow-tailed black cockatoo) vineyard is one of the most isolated and unique sites in Australian viticulture. In mid-2018 Adam Louder took the helm as Head Winemaker at Langi. Together with Damien Sheehan, Langi’s Viticulturalist, Adam and the winemaking team share a passion and vision for Langi.  This is a dedicated team who are on the same page; all aiming to make some of the best wines in the country.

Open fermenters are used for this wine. The grapes are plunged and undergo a short cold soak pre-maceration. The 2015 Billi Billi Shiraz is sourced from a selection of premium cool climate vineyards throughout Victoria; predominantly the Grampians including a portion from the Mount Langi Ghiran vineyards, home of the iconic Langi Shiraz. Throughout Victoria, the 2015 vintage provided near perfect conditions for grape growing. A temperate Summer without extremes followed by classic Autumn weather of warm days and cool nights. This resulted in slow and steady ripening, ideal for producing Shiraz of distinctive character. This Billi Billi beautifully reflects its cool climate origins.

The Billi Billi Shiraz 2015 is a deep garnet colour with a bright red rim. The aromas are intense and rich, of red and black fruits, with dried florals and spicy highlights. This is a generous wine with flavours of luscious red and black fruits paired with finely structured tannins and mouth-watering acidity. The spice and floral notes follow on from the bouquet to enliven the drive of fruit and mark the wine’s cool climate origins.

£11.10

SC Pannell Touriga / Tempranillo 2016 (1x 75cl)

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).

SC Pannell Touriga / Tempranillo 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

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.

£17.85

Cantina di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cantina Di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

The Cantina di Gambellara was founded in 1947 and has nearly 300 members who farm 600 hectares. The co-op is based in a small denomination on the border between the provinces of Vicenza and Verona only a few miles east of Soave. Last year, this cantina merged with the Cantina dei Colli Vicentini (from whom we buy the Ca’ di Alte wines) and Alberto Marchisio is now responsible for winemaking.

The Durella grapes are an ancient autochthon variety grown in the Lessinia area. The vineyards are mainly located on high hills with a south sun-exposure. The soils here are of volcanic origin.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards was characterised by abundant rain, followed by a hot and dry period. A little bit of rain in the second half of August helped, as did a drop in temperatures. This allowed for perfect health in the grapes, making this 2018 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

First fermentation took place in steel autoclaves under controlled temperature. Second fermentation then took place at low temperatures in steel autoclaves with selected yeasts, according to the Charmat (tank) method.

100% Durella.

This wine is pale yellow in colour with delicate aromas of papaya and plums. On the nose, there are fresh notes of minerality and apple. The finish is fine and long.

£11.95

Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

Mount Horrocks Wines is run by proprietor/winemaker Stephanie Toole. Stephanie restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per annum in order to achieve her aims of quality and single vineyard expression. Stephanie describes her wines as 'essentially hand made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours'. All grapes are 100% estate grown from three separate vineyard sites totalling nearly 10 hectares which, 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.

Once again, beautiful fruit from the cool and later 2017 vintage, this is an outstanding example of wood-aged semillon. Its fine, lemony fruit is enhanced by the oak maturation which provides structure and spice notes.

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.

100% Semillon.

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.

£19.25

Fontanafredda Pradalupo Roero Arneis 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Fontanafredda Pradalupo Roero Arneis 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

Exotic fruits, mature pears, hawthorn and acacia honey on the nose. The palate offers warmth, velvet, and with balanced acidity. Fresh and lingering. Excellent as an aperitif, great for starters and fish and shellfish dishes.

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

Fontanafredda Pradalupo Roero Arneis 2017 - fiche technique

£15.50

Monemvasia Kydonitsa Laconia 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Monemvasia Kydonitsa Laconia 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

The Monemvasia Winery was founded in 1997 with a clear objective: to revive the production of Malvasia wine in its birth place. The Frankish name for Monemvasia is Malvasia, which originally lent its name to the wine. In the 12th century and for the subsequent 300 years, this wine ruled the European world. It is still produced in many countries, but until recently was not being produced in the country of its origin - Greece. The Monemvasia Winery created the first privately owned 121 hectares of vineyard, planted with local varieties. It is committed to producing quality wines which showcase the characteristics of the indigenous varieties and the terroir of the peninsula of Maleus.

2017 was very hot, with a major heatwave taking place in June. It was also very dry with no rainfall from the middle of May, which resulted in disturbances in the growth cycle. Nevertheless, the grapes were healthy and ripe at harvest with a high concentration of sugars, relatively high alcohol and full concentrated flavours.

Kydonitsa ( pronounced Ki-do-NI-tsa) is a rare, old local variety and one of the components of the legendary wine Malvasia. The vineyard is located on the peninsula of Maleus at the foothills of the Parnonas Mountain range at an altitude of 80 metres above sea level. Surrounded by the Myrtoo Sea to the North West and by the Laconian Gulf to the South West, the vineyard is influenced by a Mediterranean climate with high sunshine hours and coastal sea breezes. The soils are clay loam and rich in minerals. All these factors contribute in creating a unique terroir and the climatic conditions present an ideal environment for healthy vines, which are cultivated with minimal intervention.

The grapes were carefully selected, destemmed and crushed. The free run juice was extracted by crushing, while the press wines were gently extracted at pressures of a maximum of one bar. The juice was settled at 13°C. Fermentation took place with selected yeasts, in stainless steel at 16°C lasting between 15 to 20 days. The wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation resulting in a wine with a fresh, pure style. It was matured on the lees for five months, with regular bâtonnage (lees stirring) imparting texture and complexity. 

Kydonitsa 100%.

Kydonitsa is Greek for quince and this wine is true to its name showing ripe quince, elegant aromas of tropical fruits and a hint of pistachio complexity. Creamy and full flavoured on the palate with a balancing mouthwatering freshness and a long aromatic finish. Perfect with seafood, especially fresh lobster or grilled fish.

£12.50

Kozlovic Malvazija 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Kozlovic Malvazija 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

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

2017 was an unusual vintage in that it was both rainy and dry. In less than two weeks, 200 millilitres of rain fell, which required vigilance in the vineyard. Green harvesting and leaf thinning helped to avoid disease. The harvest period was dry and the grapes had reached excellent maturity, with very good varietal character in Malvazija and Muscat and the reds are exquisite.

The vineyard is located in Santa Lucia in Western Istria at altitudes of between 200 to 240 metres above sea level. The age of the vines varies from nine to 54 years, but all are planted with a south to south-westerly orientation to maximise their exposure to the sun. The soils are made up of flysch, limestone and clay.

The grapes were manually harvested and carefully selected by hand. The berries were then cold macerated for 24 hours in stainless steel, extracting the aromas and flavours from the Malvazija berries. The grapes were then pressed and the must was fermented in stainless steel, preserving the freshness and the integrity of the primary aromas, followed by maturation for a minimum of seven months in stainless steel prior to bottling.

100% Malvazija Istriana.

A crisp, zesty, mineral rich wine with a complex nose of lemon, apple with apricot, peach, pineapple and delicate hints of spice. Dry and opulent on the palate with the fruit characters from the nose echoed on the palate, combined with a mineral complexity. The finish has a touch of characteristic saltiness and spice making it very food-friendly. A versatile wine, this makes the perfect pairing with risottos, fresh scallops, delicate white fish, poultry dishes served in a creamy sauce and grilled vegetables.

£12.85

Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cazes 'Ego' Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages 2017 - June 2019 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.

2017 was a very early vintage thanks to the good water reserves in the soil and the mild temperature from February. The warmer temperatures in July and August aided the vegetative cycle. The grapes were picked early, when the optimal sugar and acidity levels had been obtained.

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.

£14.85
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