It was obviously hot enough recently to precipitate the June edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com). Here it is...
In an edition featuring a bundle of different nations (in contrast to last month's Italian extravaganza), but particularly South America, the biggest news here is that we offer two of the four Outstanding panel-toppers from the panel review of South American Icons (or Premium red blends, if you prefer).
This is very much the month’s leading panel, we would suggest, with the month's other panel (see below) failing to expose a wine above 92 points. These two Outstandings both score score 95 points respectively, and, just as with last month's two top-scoring Amarones, are quite different in terms of grape varieties, price and provenance.
But this is also a month with a wealth of other high-scoring wines across many features, many at attractive prices and 94 points - see below.
There’s a lot more detail on a separate page we've created on that South American Icons review, those two wines and a really good crop of other Highly Recommendeds - some at very affordable prices - to which end, click this link.
The 25 wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine from this current Decanter appear on each product page.
But those South American Icons are far from the only wines of interest this month, and there's a bundle of excellently-priced 94-pointers and other top-flighters in the month's other features:
<We'll get to the other panel review in a moment>.
1) There's an excellent early-page and chunky article: Top 30 Chilean Wines Under £25, in which the author, Peter Richards MW is quite emphatic in stating, "There are some beautiful wines here, outstanding value for money in the global context".
We're delighted to offer the #1 and #3 wines in that list, both of which score 94 points and we've featured before with quite some praise.
- The Corralillo Carmènere 2016 topped Decanter's Carmenère Decanter panel 2 months ago (scoring 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).
2) So what's with the other panel review? 'Tis a good question. It's of Californian Chardonnay: no holds barred, any vintage, any area, any price point. So you'd expect some pretty amazing scores... wouldn't you? I know I would. In the line-up, you've Ridge's Monte Bello, Far Niente, Kesner, Mount Eden, Au Bon Climat, Patz & Hall. So it's a real surprise that nothing exceeds 92 points and Highly Recommended: a fine performance, yes, but from £100/bottle world-beaters?
We're not sure what to make of it: we do offer the 90-point Far Niente 2017 (a stunning wine, in my book), the Morgan Double L (albeit the year after reviewed vintage, which can't be sourced now) and the brilliant-value De Loach Russian River 2015. There's been some stringent marking here.
3) Australia features in an expert review by Sarah Ahmed... of multi-regional blends, rather bucking the single vineyard/terroir trend. Two very different wines attract 94 points here:
- Penfolds' (for it is they) Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 (drawn from three different cool-climate regions and quite delicious) ...
- ... and the ever-excellent SC Pannell's Tempranillo/Touriga Nacional 2016 (this wine is really quite 'out there, man'), drawn from both McLaren Vale (the Tempranillo) and Barossa (the Touriga). <There's even a little Tinto Cao for even more Iberian sparkle>.
The latter wine, at £17.85, is especially good value and truly fascinating in a Portugal-meets-Spain-in-South-Australia kinda-way (see also this wine for more in this vein).
4) Australia again: Italian grape varieties this time, and another 94 pointer in the form of Mount Horrocks' Nero d'Avola from the Clare Valley. Yes, you read that correctly. Further proof, this, if such were needed (it is for many traditionalists) that we may need to take serious note of Iberia and Italian grapes grown and vinified elsewhere in the near future.
5) Savennières - we don't see much Loire demand beyond Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre, all told/alas, so it's great to offer this most revered and enigmatic of appellations. A well-deserved 92 points for Château Pierre-Bise's Clos de Coulaine 2016 - and at under £20 (ultra-rare in this AOP) - makes for a very interesting glass or two.
6) Weekday Wines - as ever, we've a a bundle here: fizz (Cantina di Gambellara's unusual Monopolio Durello Spumante), red (the mouth-filling Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2017) and whites (many: more from Mount Horrocks (superb Semillon), Fontanafredda's Arneis and a whole host of unusual Greeks. Check out the list below....
** JUST ARRIVED AND NOW IN STOCK!! **
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their April 2019 panel tasting of Chilean Carmenère (see blue link below).
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).
The Matetic family has a history of settling in new territory and making a success of agriculture. In 1892, the current members’ ancestors made the long journey by sea from the Croatian coast to Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile. They soon acquired large haciendas for sheep and dairy farming. It was only in 1999 that the fourth generation of Chilean Matetic made the move into winemaking.
After a detailed study of the terroir, Jorge Matetic Hartard and his relatives decided to plant vineyards in a previously overlooked side valley of the San Antonio appellation - Rosario. Just 15km from the Pacific Ocean, the rolling hills of Rosario Valley benefits from cooling sea breezes and huge swings in temperature - from as much as 27 deg C in the afternoon to 7 deg C at night. Well drained, quartz-sandy soil requires vines to dig their roots deep into the ground (up to four metres) to find water and nutrients, making for low yields and high-quality fruit.
With the additional purchase in 2005 of vineyards in Casablanca Valley, the Matetic vineyard has a phenomenal range of grape varieties planted - Matetic Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Malbec - but they made their mark early on with the first cold-climate Syrah in 2001.
The Corralillo label is a nod to an old winery on a corral which had once produced wines from the native País grape. These wines - Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and the Winemakers Blend (Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc) express this frontier-pushing terroir with great individuality and draw from plots in Maipo, near Santiago, and Colchagua further south, as well as San Antonio.
Biodynamic viticulture one of the key eco-friendly practices the Matetic Vineyard follows in its winemaking - it is certified organic and sustainable as well as biodynamic. Regarding the Rosario Valley as a single organism, the team works hard to maintain the health of the ground (using Rudolf Steiner’s preparations of quartz, manure, herbs etc in cow horns but only using indigenous materials), the crops and the varied animal life in the ecosystem. Grape pomace is added to compost from the restaurant to be reused in the Matetic vineyards, as is water which has been used to clean barrels. And in human terms, local people make up the majority of staff, and the winery sells woollen and other craft goods made by artisans nearby. It’s all part of a philosophy that aims to make winemaking a venture which will benefit the family and its neighbours for generations to come.
The 2016 Corralillo Carmenere is sourced from the sub-valley of Colchagua Valley, Apalta. The vineyards are located on slopes that receive great sun exposure. The soil's parent material is highly mixed - dominantly colluvial and of granitic origin - but very complex due to the presence of clays, lime and organic matter. These solils have have low fertility - perfect for viticulture - and excellent drainage.
The harvest began in early May. Each bunch underwent a strict fruit selection prior to seven days of cold soaking. For this specific grape variety, several winemaking techniques and extraction methods were applied, to enhance complexity and unique varietal expression.
This Corralillo Carmenere has been aged for 18 months in French oak barrels from various coopers, different forests and toast levels. A small percentage of Syrah, sourced from San Antonio, is added to increase complexity and freshness in the finished blend.
Deep dark violet color with red hues. Very intense on the nose, with a blend of black fruits, cocoa, spices and a piquant hint that characterize this grape variety. On the palate the wine shows great balance between weight and freshness, with a long, lingering finish developing to great volume and structure. An ideal companion for mature cheeses, red meat, charcuterie etc.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified organic and biodynamic estate in France. It was founded in 1895 by Michel Cazes and the wines are made by the fourth generation of winemakers, headed up by Emmanuel Cazes. The family makes a range of interesting dry wines alongside the regional specialities, Vin Doux Naturels. They took the decision to move to organic and biodynamic viticulture in 1997. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar.
Maison Cazes is set in the sunniest French region. Since the family started farming biodynamically, they have found that the vineyards are healthier and the vines are stronger, with longer roots. Vines grow on clay and limestone soils, covered by 'galets roulés' (the '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.