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Decanter May 2019

May’s Decanter (www.decanter.com) has just been released and looks like this:

And in this very Italian edition, we offer the Outstanding panel toppers from the Amarone (della Valpolicella) panel review (the month’s leading panel, we would suggest). These score 96 and 95 points respectively, are two very contrasting specimens and represent a very interesting pair indeed.

We have now also managed to source one of the Outstanding (95 points) wines from the Chianti Classico 2010 review.

With the number of committed Italian wine fans – and of Amarone and Chianti in particular – from whom we hear, this is a doubly exciting review and magazine.

There’s a lot more detail on a separate page we've created on the Amarone review, the two wines and how you get hold of them.

The 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 (although they may still be being uploaded as you read!).

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The two main panel reviews this month are Premium Amarone (as above) and Chianti Classico 2010.

If you've not followed the links to the Amarone by now, you're looking for the other items this month... :

- Chianti Classico (CC) is a wonderful thing. In fact, it's this Exel staff member's favourite red category (along with Cahors). Decanter's interesting idea in the last few months has been to revisit the great vintage of 2010 - in many regions: Bordeaux, Rioja, California, now Tuscany - and see just how good the wines are now. Which is great for the first two categories there - there's plenty of those wines still about. Sadly, it seems that most 2010 CC has already been consumed. However, we have managed to source one of them (arriving by end of April); although most of the bottles available have now been sold to pre-order, we have ~30 bottles remaining.

- Brunello di Montalcino gets a feature by Andrew Jefford: we have (or can obtain) the amazing (but £300+) classic that is Biondi-Santi's Riserva 2011 and the more-attainable Barbi 'standard' Brunello 2013 at £36. We've also recently been able to source the 2017 DWWA Best in Show Brunello (95 points) at a very reasonable (for Brunello) £31.50, the Villa al Cortile Brunello 2012.

- Donnafugata are one of the greats of Italian wine production, and all the more unusual for being Sicilian (with other Med island outposts, most notably Pantellaria). They get a special feature this month, with their Vigna di Gabri Bianco 2017 and wonderful Mille e Una Notte Rosso 2015 landing 94 and 96 points respectively. These are stunning wines indeed, as are all of those from this producer.

- We've a couple of the featured value Barolo alternatives - which is to say, really, Langhe Nebbiolo, from the superb Massolino and GD Vajra. Drinking young Nebbiolo may come as anathema to many, but, based on a recent bottle of the former, these two wines make it surprisingly palatable (with food...).

- We always seem to feature well in Sicily: this month we've:

- No Italian review would be complete without an appearance from one of Pieropan's 'standard' Soave Classico or the luxury versions of La Rocca or Calvarino: this month, the last of these makes the cut (but all are brilliant and consistent high-scorers).

- And beyond Italy, we've just one major inclusion in this issue: the Croatian Matosevic Grimalda, which picks up 92 points in Steven Spurrier's round-up (NB: this is a surprisingly affordable bottle for him). 

Stop press: excellent and affordable late inclusions from De LoachEsporao and Alma Atlantica in Weekday Wines (see below).

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Pieropan Amarone Vigna Garzon 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition article on the next generation of Italian wine producers (see blue link below).

Pieropan Amarone Vigna Garzon 2015 - May 2020 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 58 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, took over the running of the estate in 2017 when Nino fell ill and before he passed away in April 2018. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

In 1999, The Pieropan family bought uncultivated land on the hill of Garzon, which is 400 metres above sea level in Cellore Illasi. The Illasi valley is to the west of Soave and has long been known for the quality of its Valpolicella. Pieropan planted vines here in 2000. The vineyard is south-facing with good exposure that ensures excellent ripening of the Valpolicella varieties (Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina). The limestone and clay soil and the windy and dry micro-climate are all ideal conditions for the production of rich yet elegant wines. The vines are trained using the Guyot system, with 5,800 vines per hectare. The vineyard is certified organic.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the vines’ growth cycle saw abundant rain, but was thankfully followed by a hot and dry period. This allowed for perfect health and organoleptic qualities in the grapes, making this 2015 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

The grapes were hand-picked and dried naturally, then pressed and de-stemmed. The must was fermented at 23-24ºC for approximately 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap took place every day. The wine was aged in 500 litre barrels for 36 months followed by a year in bottle before release.

This wine is made using 60% Corvina, 15% Croatina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Other Native Red Varietals.

To see an excellent technical sheet for this wine with a tasting note from the winemakers, please click on the blue link below.

Pieropan Amarone Vigna Garzon - fiche technique

Brilliant and intense ruby red in colour, this is a wine with a heady perfume of black cherries and red summer fruits with notes of pepper and sweet spice. On the palate it is complex and rounded, with a powerful structure supporting the fruit and a lovely freshness on the finish. A wine with plenty of character with the potential to age well.

ABV = 16.5%.

£47.05

Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria 2017 - half bottle (1x37.5cl)

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).

For other 2020 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2016 vintage was awarded a Platinum medal and 98 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2016 vintage was also awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2019 article  on producer Donnafugata (see blue link below).

Donnafugata, Ben Rye 2016 - May 2019 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded a Platinum Medal, 97 points and Best in Show status at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient cellars tunnel beneath the city. They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing the potential of the region's native varieties. Today, Donnafugata has three estates in Sicily. Donnafugata means 'fleeing woman' and is a reference to Queen Maria Carolina, who escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th Century with her husband, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, when Napoleon's troops arrived. The couple took refuge in Sicily at the Santa Margherita Belice palace, also the favourite residence of celebrated writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and depicted on the 'Mille e Una Notte' label.

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

Donnafugata Ben Ryé 2017 - fiche technique

100% Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria).

Brilliant amber in colour, Ben Ryé is wonderfully fresh and complex. The bouquet is intense and fragrant - aromas of apricots and candied citrus zest combine with notes of Mediterranean thyme and rosemary. The palate is well-defined and intense, with pleasant sweetness well balanced by fresh acidity and great minerality. The finish is long and persistent - a captivating Passito di Pantelleria.

ABV = 14.5%.

£33.00

Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito Di Pantelleria 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).

For other 2020 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2016 vintage was awarded a Platinum medal and 98 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details)

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2016 vintage was also awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2019 article  on producer Donnafugata (see blue link below).

Donnafugata, Ben Rye 2016 - May 2019 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded a Platinum Medal, 97 points and Best in Show status at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient cellars tunnel beneath the city. They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing the potential of the region's native varieties. Today, Donnafugata has three estates in Sicily. Donnafugata means 'fleeing woman' and is a reference to Queen Maria Carolina, who escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th Century with her husband, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, when Napoleon's troops arrived. The couple took refuge in Sicily at the Santa Margherita Belice palace, also the favourite residence of celebrated writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and depicted on the 'Mille e Una Notte' label.

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

Donnafugata Ben Ryé 2017 - fiche technique

100% Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria).

Brilliant amber in colour, Ben Ryé is wonderfully fresh and complex. The bouquet is intense and fragrant - aromas of apricots and candied citrus zest combine with notes of Mediterranean thyme and rosemary. The palate is well-defined and intense, with pleasant sweetness well balanced by fresh acidity and great minerality. The finish is long and persistent - a captivating Passito di Pantelleria.

ABV = 14.5%.

£61.90

De Loach Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their May 2019 "Weekday Wines(see blue link below).

De Loach Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2016 - May 2019 Decanter review

The winery and vineyards were originally owned and run by the Cecil and Christine De Loach. In 2003, the family run Burgundian estate Jean-Claude Boisset purchased De Loach and brought the focus back to the estate's original high quality winemaking philosophy, with specific emphasis on small lot winemaking, particularly of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. The winery's 17-acre estate vineyard has been completely restored and converted to organic and biodynamic viticulture, a tradition upheld by many foremost Burgundian vineyards. The De Loach estate vineyards are certified organic by CCOF.

The cool, foggy Russian River Valley climate allows for slow ripening, ideal for Chardonnay to develop full flavour maturation. The fruit was hand harvested from select sites in the heart of the valley including the Boriolo and BCD vineyards, as well as from the Norris and Wallace vineyards nestled in the Chalk Hill region.

The juice was fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks (40%) and French oak barrels (60%), of which 10% were new. The barrel-fermented portion of wine was aged for nine months and achieved full malolactic conversion. These techniques contributed to a wellbalanced wine with bright acidity and a rich, round mouthfeel.

100% Chardonnay.

This wine is pale straw yellow in colour, the nose of this Chardonnay immediately entices you with its rich aromas of vanilla and baked apple pie. It is lively with vibrant acidity that supports a medium-bodied frame of lemon marmalade and plenty of length, with touches of nutmeg.

ABV = 14.5%.

£20.90

Esporao Reserva White 2018 (1x75cl)

** IN STOCK FIRST WEEK OF OCTOBER - ARRIVING INTO UK NOW **

Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details and review).

For other 2020 DWWA winners, click here.

The Esporão project began in the Alentejo from an irrepressible desire to make the finest wines. This is the basis of everything they do. Part of the Alentejo’s montado ecosystem (cork oak forests), in Portugal, Herdade do Esporão has extraordinary conditions for agriculture – large thermal amplitudes, poor and various soils and extraordinary biodiversity that helps them produce in balance with the environment. With 691.9 hectares of vineyards, olive groves and other crops, they grow using organic methods.

Antao Vaz, 35%, Roupeiro 30%, Arinto 35%.

Please click the blue link below to see an excellent and informative tasting note / information sheet about this wine from the winemakers at Esporao.

Esporão Reserva White 2018 - fiche technique 

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.65

Mara Martin Godello Do Monterrei 2019 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their May 2019 "Weekday Wines(see blue link below).

Alma Atlantica Mara Martin Godello 2017 - May 2019 Decanter review

Alma Atlántica means 'Atlantic Soul' in English and is inspired by wines made in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. The aim of Alma Atlántica is to create fresh and lively whites with lots of personality and boldness of flavour. The Mara Martin Godello comes from DO Monterrei (meaning king's mountain) and is further inland in comparison to DO Rías Baixas. It is warmer here, but still sees some Atlantic influence, with the average rainfall at 683mm per year.

The vines are grown on the sides of the valleys around the river Tamega, at 400-450 metres above sea level. The climate here is Mediterranean, influenced by the Altantic ocean. Soils are a mixture of granite, slate, clay and sand.

The 2018 vintage in Monterrei saw the one of the largest crops in the region's history. The growing conditions throughout the season were excellent, and the Godello grapes were harvested with balanced acidity and optimal ripeness.

The grapes were hand picked into 20 kilogram crates, destemmed, crushed and pressed. The must was settled for 24-36 hours. Alcoholic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 16-18ºC for 15 days. The wine was aged for two months on its lees before bottling, to give it a full and complex mouthfeel.

100% Godello.

Clean and vivid straw-yellow in colour, this wine has typical aromas of hay, apple and pear with intense notes of wild flowers and subtle nuances of lime citrus, which continue through to the palate. The wine has good definition, depth and structure that are derived from lees contact. The finish is long and lingering.

ABV = 12.5%.

£12.10
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