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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Pinot Gris Reserve Personnelle is only made from grapes harvested in the best vintages from the choicest vineyard plots. This results in rich, weighty, opulent wines which can take many years to develop their full potential. The grapes for the Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personnelle come from the Grand Cru Osterberg vineyard. The grapes are picked by hand and pressed very gently in a pneumatic press. The juice runs into the cellar by gravity and clarifies naturally prior to fermentation. The juice ferments in stainless steel at controlled temperature for 2-3 weeks. In this case the fermentation stopped naturally and some (but very little) residual sugar is now balanced by good ripe acidity to give this wine a beautiful balance. These grapes were picked at excellent richness level, around 14° potential alcohol. The wine is not oak aged, as the Trimbachs believe that wood gives nothing to their wines, the salient characteristics of which are extreme purity and concentrated fruit. Bottling is early to preserve freshness and wines then bottle-aged before leaving the winery.
100% Pinot Gris.
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.
ABV = 13.5%.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition article on Sicily (see blue link below).
In Planeta’s early years, expertise came from a surprising source: Australia. The winemaker brought in by Diego Planeta was an Italian – Carlo Corino – but one who had soaked in the latest warm-climate winemaking secrets during a stint in New South Wales. Ever since, Planeta has managed to captured the intrinsic perfume and fresh flavours of Sicily’s grapes in their wines. The island estate pursued an unconventional approach to winemaking, with Planeta establishing a cult following for its barrel-aged Chardonnay, at a time when most other Italian whites were typically consumed straight out of the fermenter. This early success gave Planeta the credibility it needed to open the world’s eyes to the charms of Sicily’s indigenous grape varieties, ushering in a broad range of wines that today owes as much to Grecanico and Nero d’Avola as it does to the winery’s signature Chardonnay.
For this particular wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Planeta.
60% Nero d’Avola, 40% Nocera.
Brilliant, intense ruby colour with dark violet reflexes. Explosive nose with notes of Mediterranian maquis, blue fruits and jammy berries. On the palate thick but refined tannins, well integrated with the oak.
ABV = 13.5%.
Greywacke was created in 2009 by Kevin Judd, chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay from its inception for 25 years and instrumental in the international recognition which Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc enjoys now. The name 'Greywacke' was adopted by Kevin for his first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard, a sedimentary rock which is widely found in Marlborough. Kevin Judd is also New Zealand's finest wine photographer and has recently published a book 'The Landscape of New Zealand Wine'.
Fruit was sourced from various prime vineyard sites in Marlborough’s Southern Valleys, the central Wairau Plains (specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick and Rapaura) and a spectacular river terrace site in the upper Awatere Valley. Soil types vary from the young alluvial soils of Rapaura, Renwick and the upper Awatere, which contain high proportions of greywacke river stones, to the older and denser clay-loams of the Southern Valleys.
A wet, mild spring ensured soil moisture levels were topped up and the growing season raced off to a frost-free start. Intermittent rain in late spring brought ideal growing conditions, but cool periods during December resulted in variable fruit set. Sauvignon Blanc set with small, open bunches, leading to modest yields. The new year brought sunny, settled weather with no significant rain for the first two months. In typical Marlborough fashion the hills to the south became parched and the dry conditions necessitated careful management of water resources. The drought was partially quenched by a brief period of rain in early March just after harvest had commenced, evoking considerable anxiety, but thankfully was followed by more settled weather. All varieties were harvested at optimum ripeness, albeit lower yields than expected. In all an excellent, dry season that provided superb quality grapes, with great concentration.
Harvested largely by machine during cool (often cold) night-time conditions, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked into half-tonne bins, tipped directly into the tank press and lightly pressed. The resulting juice was cold-settled prior to fermentation in stainless steel, primarily using cultured yeast for cool, slow fermentation. A portion was allowed to undergo spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation. All individual vineyard batches were left on lees and kept separate until late July, when the blend was assembled.
100% Sauvignon Blanc.
Yellow- fleshed peaches, rock melon and blackcurrant alongside lemon icing, chamomile and hints of rose petal – this is a delicately perfumed and deliciously ripe-fruited interpretation of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The palate is both subtle and textural, showing considerable ripeness and concentration, with a crisp and long, juicy finish.
ABV = 13.5%.