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Decanter May 2018

This month's Decanter (www.decanter.com) features major reviews of:

- Chianti Classico 2013 and 2014 - specifically Riservas and Gran Seleziones (the very top of the quality pyramid in Chianti Classico);

"World's best Pinot Gris buys"; and

Valpolicella Superiore and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

You know us: we like to make sure we have the biggest of the big hitters. And that's exactly what we have - the top-scoring 96-pointer from Chianti Classico and the top-scoring (95-point) Pinot Gris.

As an added bonus, this means we now supply two, quite superb, new wine ranges - one from Chianti Classico and the other from Alsace.  You will find details of each of these ranges by clicking the links below. They are both exclusive to us in the UK and as always are available at the best price possible.

  • The selection of wines that we have available from this month's Decanter is listed at the foot of this page

 

Il Palagio di Panzano

Monia and Franco Piccini of Il Palagio di Panzano recently hosted one of the Exel Wines team while he was travelling and visiting producers in Italy. On his return, so impressed were (and are) we by their wines that we have start importing them directly to allow our customers to enjoy these fabulous wines in the UK for the first time. Their Chianti Classico Gran Selezione "Le Bambole" is the 96-pointer above.

 

Domaine Rieflé

If Chianti is all about reds, then Alsace is all about its whites. Here, the Rieflé family have been making wine near Pfaffenheim since 1850. We tried their range at the beginning of 2018 and found all the wines to be sublime. We know of old that these are just the sort of wines our customers enjoy, so when their Grand Cru Steinert Pinot Gris received 95 points in May's Decanter article, "World's Best Pinot Gris and Grigio", we took the plunge and are importing four of their wines (including a Pinot Noir) to let you find your favourite.

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Il Palagio di Panzano Le Bambole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 (1x75cl)

We also highly recommend the rest of the Il Palagio di Panzano range, click here.

For our article on Chianti Classico and Il Palagio di Panzano, click here.

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

Il Palagio di Panzano Le Bambole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

And Andrew Jefford's additional tasting comments

Il Palagio di Panzano Le Bambole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review - Jefford comments

Il Palagio di Panzano produces wines that mirror the unique character of the area. They are members of the Unione Viticoltori di Panzano and have made the decision to produce organic wine. They have the belief that they can guarantee the high quality of their wines by remaining as a small, family-run winery.

Only 2,400 bottles of the Le bambole 2013 were produced. This is, you see, a very low-production wine.

This is single-vineyard wine: its Sangiovese grapes (100%) come from the vineyard Vigna delle Bambole. This is situated in the south facing Il Palagio Conca d’Oro.

The grapes for this wine are harvested by hand with careful attention to detail ensuring that only the best grapes make it into the final wine.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a maximum temperature of 28° for 21 days.  The wine then spends 12 months maturing in 500 litre-barrels of French oak, before a further 18 months in oak barrels of 1000 litres. It is then aged in bottle for minimum of 6 months before being released for sale.

Le Bambole is ruby red with garnet red nuances and has robust aromas. There are note of ripe, red fruits, which are persistent and typical, rounded off with a soft, spicy note. The palate is powerful, with a strong structure that is well balanced, fresh with velvety, well-integrated tannins, harmonious, spicy and it has a long lasting finish.

£48.00

Domaine Riefle Alsace Grand Cru Steinert Pinot Gris 2015 (1x 75cl)

We also highly recommend the rest of the Domaine Rieflé range, click here. 

For our article on Alsace, Pinot Gris and Domaine Rieflé, click here.

Awarded 95 poiints and Outstanding status in the May 2018 edition of Decanter article: World's Best Pinot Gris Buys.

Domaine Riefle Alsace Grand Cru Steinert Pinot Gris 2015 - May 2018 Decanter review

The Rieflé family is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the Rhine. Six generations have built the family's winemaking tradition since it began in 1850. From the 1980s, Annick and Jean-Claude Rieflé (and their team of dedicated winemakers) made the most of the new opportunities created by the EU and globalisation, introducing the domaine's Alsatian wines to new consumers. They were joined at the domaine by their sons, Thomas and Paul, in 2009 and 2010. Thomas manages the vineyard and Paul is responsible for building the business.

They developed and certified the entire vineyard in accordance with Organic Agriculture specifications. As well as respecting the soil, flora, fauna and health in general, Organic Agriculture is also a useful means of bringing out the different characteristics of Domaine Rieflé's numerous terroirs. As part of the domaine's humanist approach and support for the local community, manual work is outsourced to a local association for professional reintegration.

Alsace white wines can confuse the consumer by inadvertently concealing their sweetness level. This Pinot Gris has a residual sugar level of 2g/litre and is thus fully (almost bone) dry.

Elsewhere, rather then describe the wine ourselves, we can do no better than hand you to the producers and their excellent data sheet (see blue link below).

Domaine Riefle Alsace Grand Cru Steinert Pinot Gris 2015 fiche technique

£24.90

Marchesi Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 (1x75cl)

** PLEASE SEE AVAILABILITY/DELIVERY NOTE BELOW **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

Antinori Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione is produced exclusively from a selection of the finest grapes cultivated in the property of the same name located in the Chianti Classico production zone. The Badia di Passignano, around which the vineyards are situated, is one of the finest fortified abbeys of this area and has been famous for its wines ever since the year 1000 A.D. The Antinori family purchased the acreage around the Badia (which belongs to the Valombrosian monastic order) in 1987, and has, ever since, used the splendid cellars of the monastery for the production of the wine.

After both autumn and winter in 2013 were characterized by mild temperatures and frequent rains, spring began with similar climatic conditions, leading to a slight delay in the bud break of the vines and of the successive phases of flowering and bud set. The months of May and June were a bit cool compared to historic seasonal averages, while July and August were warm and dry, without however touching excessive peaks of heat. Temperature swings between daytime heat and evening and nighttime coolness assisted the Sangiovese grapes in achieving excellent ripeness. The picking of the crop, slightly later than in previous vintages, was carried out entirely by hand, separating both in the vineyard and in the cellar the various vineyard plots in order to fully maintain the special characteristics and nuances of each and every Sangiovese parcel.

After the destemming of the bunches, the grapes were carefully selected and then given a soft pressing, The fermentation lasted ten days, and the must then remained in contact with the skins for a further ten to twelve day period. After being run off its skins, the wine went immediately into oak barrels, where by the end of the year it underwent a complete and spontaneous malolactic fermentation. After being racked, the wine went into 60 gallons Hungarian oak barrels, where it aged for approximately twelve months. During this lengthy phase, the various lots  were constantly controlled and tasted to fully bring out their potential of evolution and then blended together at the end of the aging period. The  wine was bottled at the estate and given a period of bottle aging before commercial release.

An intense ruby red in colour, the wine shows aromas of a grand initial impact, highly pleasurable in their expression of a powerful typicality and varietal identity. Smoky notes of red fruit predominate along with sensations of underbrush and of oak, never excessive this latter and always fully respectful of the wine. On the palate, in addition to a body of absolute balance, the 2013 Badia a Passignano offers much personality with its firm tannins, still in evidence, characteristics of its youth but also of its territory. There is excellent  length and persistence in the flavour of this wine which also shows it has much finesse.

** PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS WINE WILL TAKE 2-3 WEEKS FROM ORDER TO ARRIVAL WITH CUSTOMER **

£38.80

Carpineto, Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 (1x75cl)

Founded in 1967 by Antonio Zaccheo and Giovanni Sacchet, Carpineto farms 500 hectares of land spread over four estates among Tuscany's most prestigious appellations. The original aim of the producers – to make modern, world-class red wine from the Chianti Classico appellation, has been admirably fulfilled. The Farnito and Dogajolo wines demonstrate the winery’s pioneering approach to making wines from international varieties in Tuscany. Formerly IWSC Italian Wine Producer of the Year, Carpineto was the also the first ever Italian winery to be awarded the IWSC International Winemaker of the Year. Antonio Zaccheo is now assisted by his son Antonio and daughter Francesca, who have both previously worked in the wine trade in the USA. Giovanni Sacchet's daughter, Caterina, joined the Carpineto winemaking team after finishing her viticulture and oenology degree.

2013 was considered to be a more classic vintage, as the harvest took place later than in recent years. The season was marked by a cool, wet spring, followed by cool weather during the early summer. Warm, dry weather during the latter part of the summer encouraged the ripening and maturation of the berries. The resulting wines are harmoniously balanced, with excellent phenolic maturity and delicate bouquets.

In the beautiful olive and cypress-studded countryside between Florence and Siena lie the quaint hilltop villages of the Chianti Classico region. The wine of the same name is produced exclusively in this charming and beautiful area in stony soils.

Fermentation took place in temperature controlled vats, followed by a skin contact maceration to extract colour, flavour and fine tannins. The wine was transferred to a combination of oak barrels and casks of Slavonian and French origin for a minimum of 12 months. It was then transferred back into stainless tanks briefly prior to bottling. The wine was bottle aged in temperature controlled cellars for a minimum of 10 months prior to release.

An inviting rich ruby red colour, with garnet reflections. Rich, velvety, full-flavoured and warming with hints of vanilla and raspberries, this is a very fine wine with silky tannins and a long, lingering finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£18.45

Castello Vicchiomaggio, Agostino Petri Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 (1x75cl)

The historical origins of Castello Vicchiomaggio can be traced back to the 5th century. The present owners, the Matta family, acquired the property in 1964 and restored it back to its former splendour. The estate, with 150 hectares, is one of the largest in the area, and of these, 32 hectares are dedicated to the vine. Castello Vicchiomaggio produces several styles of wine, from the traditional to the innovative. In order to achieve this, the estate has been carefully classified according to its soil type and exposure. All production and winemaking is supervised by John Matta. The hallmark of John's wines is elegance, perfumed, stylish and all have beautiful balance. These wines truly show off the Sangiovese grape at its best. Vicchiomaggio is consistently classified amongst Italy's top estates and John Matta has been named IWSC Italian Winemaker of the Year four times in the last 14 years.

The grapes are sourced from the Agostino Petri vineyard. The vines are trained on the cordon system and are grown in a marl and clay soil.

Fermentation took place in temperature controlled tanks with medium length maceration on skins. Matured in French oak barriques for six months and then in large oak barrels of 25 to 50hl, for a further nine months.

A perfumed and elegant wine with a great structure and bouquet reminiscent of chocolate and walnuts. Opulent, with a wonderful complexity and a silky, lingering finish.

Serve at room temperature to accompany roast or grilled meats, game and Tuscan bean stew.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£18.45

Castello Vicchiomaggio, La Prima, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

Castello Vicchiomaggio La Prima Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

The historical origins of Castello Vicchiomaggio can be traced back to the 5th century. The present owners, the Matta family, acquired the property in 1964 and restored it back to its former splendour. The estate, with 150 hectares, is one of the largest in the area, and of these, 32 hectares are dedicated to the vine. Castello Vicchiomaggio produces several styles of wine, from the traditional to the innovative. In order to achieve this, the estate has been carefully classified according to its soil type and exposure. All production and winemaking is supervised by John Matta. The hallmark of John's wines is elegance, perfumed, stylish and all have beautiful balance. These wines truly show off the Sangiovese grape at its best. Vicchiomaggio is consistently classified amongst Italy's top estates and John Matta has been named IWSC Italian Winemaker of the Year four times in the last 14 years.

The vines are grown in La Prima vineyard where the soils are marl and clay. Gran Selezione is a DOCG Chianti category and is produced exclusively with grapes from single vineyards or selected from the estate's best-suited vineyards. In addition to having stricter technical and organoleptic characteristics, Gran Selezione wines can only be released to the market 30 months after the grape harvest, having spent at least three months in bottle. These features place this at the summit of the Chianti Classico quality pyramid.

Fermentation took place in temperature controlled tanks, with regular pump-overs of the cap to ensure the desired levels of aeration. The wine was matured in French oak barriques for a period of 18-24 months.

A complex bouquet showing aromas of blueberry, cocoa, esspresso and a touch of toasted oak. Full, velvety and complex flavours shine through on the sublimely smooth palate leading to a long and elegant finish.

A superb pairing for a succulent Sunday roast, a juicy rack of lamb, a fine Italian Bistecca Fiorentina or a rich mushroom ravioli.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£34.50

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Villa Cerna 2013 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below). The 2014 vintage is forthcoming, but not here yet!

Villa Cerna Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

Villa Cerna is an estate that has its roots in the Middle Ages and is today run by the famous Cecchi family of Tuscany. Today their 83 hectares of vineyards dominate the southern entrance of Chianti Classico. The Cecchi family purchased the Villa during the early '60s, and then proceeded with its restoration and the construction of the wine cellar. Their farming knowledge, alongside with on-going experimentation, enabled a rationalisation of the vineyards. While on the one hand the winery selected plant varieties that had been historically present in the vineyards, on the other it undertook cutting-edge clonal research to identify varieties suited to the soil and climate characteristics of the terrain.

The grapes for this wine were vinified on their skins, undergoing a 15 day fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a warm 26°C. After fermentation, the wine was aged for a period of 14 months in barriques and small barrels then a minimum of 10 months in the bottle before release.

Chianti Classico Riserva is produced only in better vintages - the carefully selected Sangiovese fruit from the estate’s finest plots, together with 24 months ageing in barrique and bottle, creating a harmonious blend of delicate floral aromas, refreshing acidity, and integrated tannins. Dark cherry, plum, dried flowers and spices all vie for attention on the nose and palate – a wine to savour with the very best cheeses, roast meats and game.

£28.90

Felsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

Felsina Berardenga Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

This 470 hectare estate is located northeast of Siena in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, on the southern border of the Chianti Classico zone. Fèlsina epitomises the powerful style of southern Chianti, where the wines are stylistically more akin to those from Montalcino. Domenico Poggiali bought the estate in 1966. Since 1990 Giovanni Poggiali, Domenico's grandson, has joined the management and continues his grandfather's enterprise with the same passion. Consultant oenologist Franco Bernabei is now very much at the helm of the winemaking team.

The Rancia vineyard lies entirely within the Chianti Classico zone, in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, north east of Siena. It sits at 400 metres above sea level, facing south. 

In 2013 the weather was cooler than in previous years. Winter and early Spring rains supplied groundwater reserves and were responsible of a slight delay in the flowering of the vines. At the beginning of July, however, temperatures above the seasonal average favoured all conditions for recovering. The grapes grew and ripened gradually throughout the summer. Rainfall in late October slowed down the harvest as careful grape selection was required, but quality was still good, grapes were healthy and rich in aromatic compound and excellent in the concentration of polyphenols. The final result was a more balanced production andthe wine was lower in alcohol, in comparison with vintage 2011 and 2012.

After de-stemming and crushing, fermentation took place at 28-30°C, with automatic daily punching down of the cap, followed by 12-15 days maceration. Towards the end of fermentation, the wine was racked into small and medium oak barrels in March-April where it remained for 12-18 months. It aged for a further 6-10 months in bottle before release.

Deep ruby red in colour with a spicy nose with floral and wild berry notes. Great elegance and finesse on the palate with a fine mineral note. It is opulent with ripe berry characters and a long, spicy finish.

£35.15

Il Palagio di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 (1x75cl)

We also highly recommend the rest of the Il Palagio di Panzano range, click here.

For our article on Chianti Classico and Il Palagio di Panzano, click here.

Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

Il Palagio di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 - May 2018 Decanter review

Il Palagio di Panzano produces wines that mirror the unique character of the area. They are members of the Unione Viticoltori di Panzano and have made the decision to produce organic wine. For the family, sustainability is a synonym for “family-run”. They have the belief that they can guarantee the high quality of their wines by remaining as a small, family-run winery.

The grapes are harvested by hand following a careful selection of the best Sangiovese grapes from the different vineyards of Il Palagio. 

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a maximum temperature of 28° for 21 days. The wine then matures for 24 months in oak barrels of 1000 litres before further ageing in the bottle for a minimum of 6 months.

The Chianti Classico is a clear purple red with slight nuances of garnet in colour. Its aromas are expressive, with notes of red fruits and a hint of oak. The flavours are well structured, harmonious, fresh, elegant and long lasting finish.

 

£23.00

San Fabiano Calcinaia Cellole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, 2013 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).

San Fabiano Calcinaia Cellole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 - May 2018 Decanter review

Guido Serio and his wife Isa arrived at San Fabiano in 1983 and immediately set about making improvements to both the vineyard and winery to allow them to produce quality wines. The vineyards of San Fabiano Calcinaia are located among the hills of the prestigious Chianti countryside. San Fabiano Calcinaia is situated in Castellina in Chianti, on the slope that descends towards Val d’Elsa. The winery covers 165 hectares and is located at 550 mt above sea level. Cellole is where their best vineyards are to be found.

Careful selection of the grapes is done during harvest in the field and further choice is made in the cellar. Fermentation is carried out at a controlled temperature (28- 32 °C) with long maceration on the skins (20 days and more). Malolactic fermentation happens in barriques. The wine then matures in firt use barriques for 20 – 22 months before spending at least 12 months maturing in bottle.

This wine is rich ruby in colour with hints of youthful violet tones. It has a fine, intensive, very persistent perfume, with an aromatic complexity, from violet and cherry tones to spices like liquorice and pepper, then vanilla, cocao and tobacco flavours come through. This is a wine with a balanced structure.  The palate is warm, enveloping, soft and elegant and has a complex, yet well integrated tannic structure. It has a long finish. It is an harmonic wine, able to express itself better after several years of aging, but it will not disappoint even if it is drunk whilst still quite young.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£25.05

Ca' Rugate Campo Lavei Valpolicella Superiore 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review Valpolicella Superiore (see blue link below).

Ca Rugate Campo Lavei Valpolicella Superiore - May 2018 Decanter review

Intense aromas of black fruit and cherries, combined with a twist of spice from the wood. The palate is mellow, balanced and rounded, complete with elegant tannins and a smooth finish.

£20.15

La Giuva Il Rientro Valpolicella Superiore 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review Valpolicella Superiore (see blue link below).

La Giuva Il Rientro Valpolicella Superiore - May 2018 Decanter review

This Valpolicella Superiore has a unique freshness combined with the typical characteristics of the drying of grapes. Aromatic, it has hints of spice and a subtle sweet scent on the nose, with great balance and concentration and a distinct liquorice impression on the long finish.

£21.00

Monte Dall`Ora Camporenzo Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Valpolicella Superiore (see blue link below).

Monte Dall'Ora Camporenzo Valpolicella Superiore 2014 - May 2018 Decanter review

£20.20

Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personnelle 2013 (1x 75cl)

The 2012 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status in the May 2018 edition of Decanter article: World's Best Pinot Gris Buys. This is now (very) unavailable from the UK importer: we offer the 2013.

Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personnelle 2012 - May 2018 Decanter review

Earning a listing for one of your wines at a Michelin-starred restaurant is a proud moment – so what must it be like to be featured by every single three Michelin-starred restaurant in France (that’s 27 in total)? It’s an accolade that reflects the historic excellence and purist vision of F. E. Trimbach, unquestionably one of the great names of Alsace and a family business that can trace its origins all the way back to 1626. Thirteen generations later, brothers Bernard and Hubert, plus Bernard’s sons, Pierre and Jean, and granddaughter Anne – remain true to the philosophy handed down to them by their 19th century ancestor, Frédéric Emile (the man who put the “F.E.” into F. E. Trimbach).

Trimbach only makes its Reserve Personelle range from grapes harvested in top years and the choicest vineyard plots and the results are rich, weighty, opulent wines which can take many years to develop their full potential. This cuvee is from the Grand Cru Osterberg vineyard.

Toasted nuts, marzipan and salinity underscore the peach and apple fruit here. A hint of honey adds nobility and relatively high acidity adds primary juiciness in the long, fascinatingly smoky, nutty, and mineral finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£26.75

Cos Pithos Rosso 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Italian wines made without the use of oak (see blue link below).

COS Pithos Rosso 2015 - May 2018 Decanter review

Three friends founded Azienda Agricola COS, in 1980: Giambattista Cilia, Cirino Strano and Giusto Occhipinti. The acronym of their last names is where the name for the winery – COS – comes from.  In 1980, they were the youngest wine producers in Italy. They received an old family winery from Giambattista Cilia’s father Giuseppe Cilia and the nearby vineyard of bush-trained vines in the famed town of Bastonaca. On October 5, 1980 they harvested their first vintage and made 1,470 bottles. COS began its adventure that would one day lead to the transformation of Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

The winery follows the principles of biodynamic faming in order to help the vines find and maintain a balance with nature in order to be able to express their true character and that of their terroir. For vinification, they decided to use terracotta vases that left no traces or aromas on the wine but were completely neutral vessels. In 2000, Pithos was born, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria that ferments and ages in amphora. They finished working on a building in Fontane, which in 2003 became the headquarters of the winery. In 2005, they made the first wine that bore the Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation, the only one in Sicily. The harvest of 2007 saw the winery in a new location and was the beginning of use of only amphora. The winery got rid of the barrels that they had and use only 150 amphorae.

Today COS is associated not only with the success of Cerasuolo di Vittoria but also with rigor and quality. It’s thanks to these three friends that the region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria was reborn and the area around Vittoria is thriving with its extraordinary wines.

“Our goal isn’t to make wines that impress wine critics, but to make wine that expresses our great terroir. Here, Nero d’Avola is more elegant than in other regions, and has these great mineral notes from the soil. This is what gives the Cerasuolo di Vittoria its rich fruit, while the Frappato gives the wine its floral components and freshness,” Occhipinti says.

The Pithos Rosso is fermented in giare which are terracotta amphorae (250l and 400l). The identity of the Frappato is marked on the nose with exuberant expression of violets and raspberry blossom. The mouth is floral, warm and supple, the berry fruit flavours complemented by soft tannins.

£24.50

Donnafugata Tancredi 2013 (1x 75cl)

The previous (2012) vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Sicily (see blue link below).

Donnafugata Tancredi 2012 - May 2018 Decanter review

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: a modern winery and 270 hectares at Contessa Entellina in the hills east of Marsala; 18 hectares in Vittoria to the south eastern point of the Island; and 68 hectares on the island of Pantelleria. 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.

The vineyards at Donnafugata's Contessa Entellina estate are at an altitude of 200-600 metres in south-west Sicily. Soils are clay-based and rich in mineral elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The vines for this wine are trained using vertical shoot positioning and are spur cordon pruned. Average planting density is 5,000 vines per hectare, with a yield of about five tonnes per hectare. In 2008 the blend changed to include Tannat, a mediterranean variety that Donnafugata first planted experimentally in 2002. Since 2004 Tannat has been grown in the hilly area of Predicatore, where the soils are best suited to growing this varietal.

The grapes were vinified in stainless steel with skin contact for about 12 days at 26-30°C. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in new and second use French oak barriques and tonneaux for 14 months, followed by bottle ageing for at least 24 months before release.

Deep red, Tancredi is characterised by a fragrant bouquet, notes of red fruit and dark berry fruit combined with scents of liquorice and sweet tobacco. In the mouth the tannins are soft and well-integrated. An enveloping and persistent finish.

£29.40

Marco De Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Perpetuo Marsala NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).... 

de Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Marsala NV - Feb 2018 Decanter review

... and awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Sicily (see blue link below).

Marco De Bartoli Vecchio Samperi Perpetuo Marsala NV - May 2018 Decanter review

Vecchio Samperi was Marco De Bartoli’s first wine, his homage to the oldest form of Marsala wine as was encountered by Brit John Woodhouse when he landed in Marsala in 1773. This old, original style was made by a method called il perpetuum - essentially a form of solera aging, in which younger wine was used to replace older wine that had evaporated or been drawn off for drinking - and was the starting point for what become known worldwide as traditional Marsala wine (fortification came later as the techniques of Port, Madeira and Sherry found their way across the ocean to Sicily).

While the modern Marsala industry got away from this time-and-labor-intensive method as it was industrialized, De Bartoli's priority was to restore this method, along with the reputation of Marsala wine. Marco named his for the Contrada Samperi,the winegrowing area on the on the outskirts of Marsala where his estate vines are planted and whose hot, dry, sandy-loam soils, rich in limestone and minerals, are well suited to Grillo-growing; as the family puts it, the Vecchio Samperi "was the starting point to develop and communicate Marco's concept of 'terroir' ". Hewing to the original il perpetuum style, the De Bartoli Vecchio Samperi is not fortified, which is unusual for modern Marsala; and in fact, as pure and elemental a Marsala as this wine is, it is not recognized by the local authorities as DOC Marsala.

As with all of De Bartoli's Marsala-style wines, the only grape used is Grillo, grown organically and harvested by hand on the De Bartoli estate. The wine is fermented with natural yeasts and aged in oak and chestnut vats; about 5% of the total volume of wine is replaced with wine from the new vintage each year. The average age of wine in this solera is 20 years minimum. As noted above, the Vecchio Samperi is emphatically not fortified at any point. Vecchio Samperi's fine acidity balances the bit of RS beautifully, rendering it basically dry. It is relatively light in body, with floral and candied-orange aromas and flavours, with a gently nutty, seaspray-tinged finish.

 

£47.60

Palari Santo Stefano Briga Faro 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Sicily (see blue link below).... 

Palari Santo Stefano Briga Faro 2010 - May 2018 Decanter review

Palari Family Proprietor Salvatore Geraci is credited with saving the ancient Faro denomination from extinction with the 1990 revitalization of his grandparent’s estate, originally founded at the turn of the 20th century. 

On the hills high above the Strait of Messina, wine production dates back to the 14th century BC and survives today with ancient native varietals with intriguing names. The fruit of low yielding 80+ year-old head-trained vines is hand-harvested from south-east facing, sandy-soiled terraces on steep slopes (78% gradient) at 1,475 feet above sea level, a few miles inland.

These extreme conditions allow for a dramatic swing between warm diurnal and cool nocturnal temperatures, creating an elegant balance between fruit and acidity in the resulting wine. Following temperature controlled fermentation with native yeasts, the wine spends two years in predominantly new barrels of Troncais or Allier oak followed by extended rest of at least 18 months in bottle, unfiltered, before release.

This wine is ruby red in colour, with garnet hues. Aromas of jasmine, cardamom and ripe berries, with hints of spice and vanilla. On the palate the wine is velvety and deep, with complex dark fruit flavors and a Burgundian combination of weight and suppleness.

Palari Faro is well suited for hearty dishes such as roasted red meats, grilled white meats, game and aged cheeses, but can also elegantly compliment fish roasted with Mediterranean herbs and tomatoes.

£48.55

Paolo Vodopivec Carso Vitovska amphora 2011 (1x75cl)

Awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Italian wines made without the use of oak (see blue link below).

Paolo Vodopivec Carso Vitovska Amphora 2011 - May 2018 Decanter review

Fasten your tastebuds – it’s going to be a scintillating ride! This is a wine that is thrilling in its richness and striking in its textural complexity. The winery is located in the small commune of Carso, where two enigmatic brothers, Paolo and Valter Vodopivec have earned an enviable international reputation for their distinctive wines.

Any discussion regarding the terroir of Carso is always more about rock than soil. Carso, in fact, is believed to mean “land of rock” in Celtic tradition.  Walter and Paolo Vodopivec had to physically break up the limestone bedrock in order to be able to plant their vines. The rocky terrain leaves a firm imprint on the wine with an undeniable acidity and mineral influence.

Made from the Vitovska grape, which is a crossing between Prosecco and Malvasia Bianco, the wine is first fermented in clay amphorae that are buried underground. These amphorae come from Georgia.

We feel we should also mention the ransom story. Brothers Walter and Paolo Vodopivec had experimented with aging their wines in wooden cask and Spanish amphorae (inspired by Gravner), but they weren’t enamoured with the results. Paolo felt sure that Georgian amphorae would be superior, so off they went to Georgia to source some. However, the local mafia held the clay pots to ransom, but even though it was unclear what their demands were, the vessels were eventually freed and are now used in Friuli as fermenters.

Back to the wine. It undergoes six months of maceration in the amphora to allow the full potential of the grapes to shine through. They collect grapes from several different vineyards to give the wine all the characteristics of the area. The wine then spends 24 months aging in wood before being bottled.

Upon opening, it is intensely tannic with gripping minerality. Decant once or even twice. The result, if you’re patient, is a wine that has a purity and fascination that makes you want to roll it appreciatively around your mouth. 

It is deep, rich (but not heavy) and aromatic with layers of dried peach, warm apricot and apple notes on both the nose and mid-palate. A splendid Vitovska that is as bone dry as the rocks from which the vines eke out their precarious existence, yet somehow refreshing and curiously saline with a very long finish that imparts further flavours of hazelnuts and dried fig.

£38.95

Planeta Mamertino DOC 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Sicily (see blue link below).

Planeta Mamertino 2015 - May 2018 Decanter review

Twenty years of Planeta is a story of wine, olive oil and hospitality with one common denominator – the love of Sicily. Brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, all with an unquenchable wish to do, to change, to innovate and to rediscover traditions. In 1995 there was one vineyard, one winery, the first wines and many dreams. After twenty years there are six wineries in as many areas of heavenly Sicily producing different wines, all DOCs which are examples of six extraordinary territories. A journey which never finishes and which will continue with the next generation.

Mamertino is a denomination rooted in antiquity. The Mamertini first produced this wine many centuries ago, described by Pliny and beloved by Julius Caesar, at Milazzo. The Fondazione Barone Lucifero, proprietor of the land, uses part of the income it generates for social, cultural and recreational activities for children in the Milazzo area.

The grapes are gathered by hand into 14 kg crates, and as soon as they arrive at the winery, proceed to the table for selection. They are then destalked and ferment in stainless steel vats, remaining on the skins for 14 days at 25⁰C. They also undergo repeated mixing during this period. They are then racked in a soft press, and the wine they obtain undergoes malolactic fermentation in stainless steel. The wine the spends 12 months maturing in 35 hl barrels.

Brilliant, intense ruby colour with dark violet reflexes. Explosive nose with notes of mediterranean shrubs, blue fruits and jammy berries. On the palate it is medium-bodied and spicy with soft tannins. The oak in this wine is well integrated.

£19.50

Ca Rugate Monte Fiorentine Soave Classico 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 article on Soave (see blue link below).

Ca'Rugate Monte Fiorentine Soave Classico 2016 - May 2018 Decanter review

The family business has been handed down through the generations of the Tessari family since the early 1900s. The estate was renamed Ca'Rugate in 1986, taking its name from the volcanic hills where the vineyards are located. Now run by the fourth generation, Michele has brought with him a lively, passionate and entrepreneurial spirit. Considerable expansion has taken place in recent years with investment in a new technologically advanced cellar and expansion into the Valpolicella area with the purchase of vineyards in the hilly zone of Montecchia di Crosara. Ca'Rugate has been awarded the prestigious 'Tre Bicchieri' award rating from Gambero Rosso multiple times, making it one of the most awarded producers in the competition and has been hailed by the New York Times as one of the "Top Five producers of high end Soave".

The grapes come from the Monte Fiorentine vineyard in Brognoligo di Monteforte d'Alpone and are harvested at optimum maturity in the middle of October. The yields are 90-100 quintals per hectare. The vineyard soils are volcanic and rich in minerals, imparting a certain minerality to the final wine.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 16 to 18°C for approximately 10 to 15 days, maintaining the freshness and aromatic qualities of the Garganega grapes.

Rich and golden in colour, a wonderful example of a Soave Classico, with beautiful layering of exotic, tropical fruits and a touch of minerality. Full and rich in flavour, this is a structured wine with a fresh, mineral finish. This wine is best enjoyed chilled, to accompany full flavoured dishes in creamy sauces, fish, soups and young cheeses.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£15.35

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Soave (see blue link below)

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2015 - May 2018 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 46 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, now work with him running the estate. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

Calvarino takes its name, 'little Calvary', from the steepness of the slope and the difficulty this presents in working the vineyard. It has the basalt soil that is classic in this part of Soave and is planted with Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. The Garganega gives structure and acidity to the wines; the Trebbiano di Soave perfume and richness of flavour. There are usually at least two passes through the vineyard to ensure the grapes are picked at the best possible stage of ripeness. The vineyards are farmed organically. The vines are between 30 and 60 years old and are planted 200 to 300m above sea level, at a density of 3000 vines per hectare.

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 de-stemmed and crushed, with the free-run juice fermented at controlled temperatures between 14 and 18°C. The Calvarino was not aged in oak but remained on its lees in glass-lined cement tanks for a year adding complexity and depth to the final wine. It remained in bottle at least two months before release.

The Calvarino is pale straw yellow in colour, with youthful green hues when young, turning golden with ageing. Fresh, floral aromas with elderflower, lemon and cherry. The palate is dry, well balanced and elegant, with tremendous length and finesse.

£19.05

Pieropan Soave Classico 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 article on Soave (see blue link below).

Pieropan Soave Classico 2017 - May 2018 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 46 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, now work with him running the estate. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines south facing. The fruit come from hillside vineyards (100- 300 m above sea level) in the heart of the Soave classico area. They grapes of Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave (no relation to its prolific Tuscan namesake) are grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

The 2016 season saw many similarities to 2015, with a cooler winter and abundant rainfall. The beginning of the vegetative cycle saw alternate dry and rainy periods, which allowed the plants to develop perfectly. The hot and dry summer that followed led to an abundant harvest of high quality grapes.

Grapes of Trebbiano di Soave are hand-picked starting from midSeptember while the Garganega grapes are picked later in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for a period which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.

A fresh and expressive Soave, with classic white flower, almond blossom and a touch of citrus. Rounded, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a fresh, clean acidity. Long and fragrant, it has a note of fine, almond pastry on the finish.

We like this because we know that Soave is not in fashion. And that's mainly because the world is awash with bad Soave. Good Soave is hard to find and hugely worthwhile when you find it. Nobody should be surprised that Pieroapan lie behind many of the very best Soaves and this, their workhorse, is delightful. with all the tightness and freshness that good Soave should have. At the price, it's terrific.

£13.90

Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu 'Terrasses de L'Empire' 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 review of the 2016 vintage in the Northern Rhone (see blue link below).

Vernay Terrasses de l'Empire Condrieu 2016 - May 2018 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2018 edition panel article, "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World(see blue link below).

Vernay Terrasses de l'Empire Condrieu 2015 - January 2018 Decanter review

Georges Vernay is known as the "King of Condrieu" and was responsible for the growth and worldwide recognition of this small appellation during the 1950s. His estate covers 22 hectares of vineyards, six of which are in the Côte Rôtie appellation. The steep and uneven vineyards make mechanical labour impossible. The vines are manually cultivated without the use of residual herbicide or insecticide. Georges' daughter, Christine, returned to her roots with Paul Anselem, her Parisian husband, and has looked after the winemaking since 1997, gaining worldwide recognition for her Côte Rôtie wines.

A patchwork of small plots covering four hectares in the lieu-dits of Sainte Agathe and La Caille located in the heart of Condrieu. The vines are planted on steep South facing granite, biotite terraces where the use of machines is impossible; therefore the vineyard is maintained manually and without the use of weed killers or insecticides. The average age of vines is 35 years and they are planted on Richter 100 rootstocks and trained to the simple Guyot method. Planted at a density of between 8,000 to 10,000 vines per hectare, they yield 35 hectolitres per hectare.

The grapes were manually harvested at full maturity of 13 to14 degrees, they were then meticulously sorted and pressed. After a static temperature controlled must settling, the clear juice was fermented in 20 hectolitre oak vats, lasting approximately four to five weeks. The wine was matured on its fine lees in both oak barrels and vats.

Pure peach and apricot aromas are lifted with hints of acacia flowers. Full and creamy with a distinctive mineral expression and a subtle Condrieu saline complexity supporting the ripe stone fruit flavours. This is a pure expression of a very fine Viognier.

Delicious served at room temperature with seared scallops in a rich, creamy sauce; lobster; game and mature cheese.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£52.45

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 column, "Weekday Wines" (see blue link below).

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - May 2018 Decanter review

A refreshing sorbet-like medley of fresh lychee, grapefruit and honeydew melon laced with flinty minerality and finished with an infusion of mandarin and lime zest. A lively, invigorating wine with persistent grapefruit flavours and a steely blackcurrant tang. Crisp with a long, enduring finish.  

£16.45

Pyramid Valley Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition article entitled Chablis Alternatives: 30 Fresh Wines (see blue link below) .

Pyramid Valley Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2015 - April 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition column, "Stephen Spurrier's Fine Wine World(see blue link below) .

Pyramid Valley Lions Tooth Chardonnay 2015 - May 2018 Decanter review

The philosophy of Mike and Claudia Elze Weersing of Pyramid Valley Vineyards is as follows:

"Wine to us is a genie, genius loci; our job is to coax it from its rock to bottle. Every gesture we make, in vineyard and winery, is a summons to this spirit of place. Biodynamics, hand-based viticulture, low yields, natural winemaking – these are some of the means we’ve adopted better to record and transmit this voice.For example, all of our wines are fermented with their own yeast starters, cultured every year, from the vineyard itself. If wine is meant to be the bottled breath of a certain place, from a certain moment in time, then we feel that working with yeasts from that site, of that season, is an important step towards transparency and authenticity. Our cultures allow very long, very regular ferments: most of our whites ferment for more than a year. During this time, the wine is protected, so no sulphur is necessary. After so long a ferment, the wine is stable: thus most of our wines are bottled unfiltered, again with little or no sulphur."

Soils and terrain: 42.2hl/ha from this steeply inclined, east facing home block. Gorgeous soils, with nut and crumb structure and great mineral fertility: 30% clay, 15-20% active lime.

Vineyard and winemaking: Late April pick, whole bunch pressed, indigenous yeast starter culture with ferment lasting 12 months, half in clay giare, and half in used French oak. Natural, spring malolactic. Nine months on lees in barrel, then transferred to a variable capacity tank for a further month of settling; bottled unfined and unfilterd.

Production is just 390 x 6-bottle cases.

Pale, brilliant platinum/gold. Begins empyreumatic, and ferruginous, like red bricks in hot sun. Also a dried flower note: straw daisies. Emerging scents of acacia, and pear, prettify the aromatic spectrum. Intensely saline, mouth-tremblingly electric, enormous precision and grip; flavours of bitter orange (not bitter, but more acid, less sweet than tangerine or mandarin) and new nectarines.  The active lime tenacity in this wine as strong as the producer have ever seen from this site. "Unyielding, acute, insubordinate to sycophantic styles", as they say at Pyramid.

£48.55

Castello Montauto Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Cecchi 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Vernaccia di San Gimignano (see blue link below).

Castello Montauto Vernaccia Di San Gimignano, Cecchi 2016 - May 2018 Decanter review

Cecchi's success all began back in 1893, when company founder Luigi Cecchi became a professional wine taster or ''palatista'' – a surprisingly widespread profession in Europe at the time, and one which paved the way for the bottling of the first wines under the family name. The international success of the Cecchi wines was secured under another Luigi – the founder’s grandson – and now the fourth generation, in the shape of brothers Andrea and Cesare Cecchi, are at the helm.

The grapes were vinified off their skins, undergoing a cold, temperature controlled, pre-fermentative maceration. The 15 day fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at a cool 15°C. After fermentation, the wine was aged for a period of at least 3 months in the bottle.

This wine is an aromatically rich wine, with fine, floral scents and hints of bitter almond. Exquisitely balanced by crisp, citrus freshness and a beguiling perfume.

£12.85
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