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Decanter Nov

A day or two behind our usual bulletin schedule (a result of moving into a shiny new warehouse/HQ), here's our update on the new November Decanter. You know, the one that looks very like this:

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.


The Bells (The Bells)

The month’s big Decanter news, of course, was the 98-point, Exceptional that topped the month’s panel review of Australian Pinot Noir(s), the Lethbridge Between Five Bells 2018 (henceforth, ‘B5B’), from Victoria. Of the 91 wines tasted, it was one of only four to achieve 95+ points, the other three all doing so at an average cost of almost £50 a bottle (cf the £18.90 of the B5B). As far as we can see, it’s the only wine to be rated Exceptional in a Decanter panel tasting in 2019 and the review is pretty unstinting in its praise.

It’s worth saying, however, – we go to great pains to do so on the product page – that this is an unusual Pinot. It is in no way ‘normal’. As we experienced at our own tasting here, this is quite different to most conventionally-fermented Pinot Noir. This is produced using carbonic maceration - some way beyond the realms and degree of traditional, Burgundian whole-bunch fermentation - giving a markedly more forward, penetrating edge and a fruitier, crunchier style. It is a tremendous wine, and categorically a Pinot, but the difference from 'orthodox' Pinot Noir is worth noting, especially for traditionalists! We make this point because these off-piste styles can very occasionally meet with disapproval from the unwitting or unapprised customer (see also: Te Pa Oke).

You’d like some? Read on.

As you’d expect at/with that price, score and review, the B5B met with huge demand when news of its achievement was released (which, this month, occurred when a fellow merchant went ‘live’ with the review’s reaching Decanter’s Premium on-line service; this looks set to be a common occurrence going forwards and we will also now be bringing such news to you earlier, having OK-ed such with Decanter). We sold through our generous allocation in just a few hours. We are told by the sole UK importer for Lethbridge, through whom we take the B5B, that there are now only a few sparse bottles remaining unsold in the UK (mainly at restaurants!) Further stock, alas, is on the far side of the planet.

We are happy to bring some more in, but there is precious little left, even at the winery and it has been many times oversubscribed. It’ll be deep into December – and possibly later - before it arrives. We have now contacted all wait-listed customers who will received an aloocation from that December arrival; alas, we cannot obtain any more. That alas, as they say, is it.

Exceptional as it was/is, that’s enough now on that one wine. Elsewhere in that review, we offer excellent Pinots from Giant Steps of the Yarra Valley, Kooyong (Mornington Peninsula, MP), Larry Cherubino (Pemberton, Western Australia – just £14.20!) and Ocean Eight (MP again). They may not be the B5B, but for some – and I’d put myself among them – these are perhaps more appealing and classic New World twists on traditional Pinot Noir.


Elsewhere in the main magazine

  • The month’s other panel tasting is of the dark horse that is Spain/Catalunya’s Priorat(o). This is not our strongest suit – we’re working on it, mind – but we offer the “luscious, polished and appealing" Mas La Mola and the “pioneer Priorat style” of Pinord’s Mas Blanc +7, both at affordable prices for this heady DOCa. Super-affordability comes from the Cop de Ma Fort at £15.75 (this wine has been inordinately popular at a number of Spanish tastings we've held in the last year).
  • Of greater interest (and affordability), Rebecca Gibb MW conducts a fascinating global comparison of (the UK's favourite grape) Sauvignon Blanc. This is particularly good, and lays bare the great variation in flavours between Marlborough, the upper Loire, Bordeaux, South Africa, cooler parts of Chile, Australia, Austria and beyond. Sauvi Blanc gets a bad rap over being a fairly simple grape/wine, but, when you think about it, that's quite some ability there to reflect terroir. We were delighted to see a few of our favourites appear in Ms Gibb's Fantasy Case: there's superb value to be had (do NOT miss these) in Waterkloof's Circumstance from Stellenbosch (yes, Stellenbosch), which scores 94 points at just £11.45 ("delightfully rich, silken texture") and Lionel Gosseaume's Domaine de Pierre ("an intense wine with huge concentration and mass") from the Loire's Touraine sub-region (94 points, £12.00). That's not to mention the 93-point Gamlitz from Sattlerhof of Austria92-point Laberinto from Chile and Cullen's brilliant-but-off-beat Amber (90 points) from Margaret River. 
  • There's a review of Premium Australian Shiraz by Matthew Jukes, and many of the great names appear. Penfold's Grange tops the pops, of course, but if you haven't got £600 for a bottle (and we haven't), the always-awesome Clonakilla Shiraz-Viognier (2017) from Canberra lands a big 98 points. At over £80, this is still a pricey bottle (alas, we've seen major price rises from the importer), but Exel proudly remain the lowest price we can find in the UK (we see lower prices from merchants who cannot obtain it at the price they believe, note). At more affordable levels, the 95-point Dead Arm 2016 from d'Arenberg and the lighter, 91-point Innocent Bystander (a Syrah, no less) are well worth a glass or two of fireside testing.
  • Finally in the main magazine, there's an excellent look at the best wine and produdcers in the South of Italy. This region gets all too forgotten and unfairly left in the shadow of Piemonte, Veneto and Tuscany, we feel; so writes this Taurasi-obsessed blogger. There are top recommendations from Sicily's PlanetaSardinia's Santadi and Basilicata's Elena Fucci (a truly magnificent Aglianico del Vulture).
  • And the ever-excellent Soaves of Mr Pieropan pop up again in Weekday Wines - this time the Calvarino.


The Spanish supplement

Yup, there's this, just in case a Priorat review is not enough for Spanish aficionado/as. We still go with Spain representing wonderful value for money and there's heaps here to get your teeth into.

  • Spain's islands - like the Italian South - get rather overshadowed by the great DOs of the mainland - but produce some outstanding and unique wines that should go way beyond one's sun-seeking fortnight. See the wines below from Vinatigo (particularly), El Grifo and Mesquida Mora.
  • Verdejo from Rueda represents some of the very best value in white wine anywhere. The Decanter article helps make the best of that and seeks out a little more complexity: see Ramon Bilbao's Edicion Limitada Lias and Javier Sanz's' excellent offering.
  • And across many other articles and reviews in this excellent supplement, there are fine words and scores for Ribera del Duero's Pago de los Capellanes (their Crianza), Rioja's Beronia (likewise) and Cuatro Paso's brooding Black Bierzo from Mencia.
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Giant Steps `Applejack Vineyard` Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Australian Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Giant Steps `Applejack Vineyard` Pinot Noir 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Giant Steps is a privately owned, estate based, Yarra Valley grower and winemaker that has forged a reputation for delivering some of Australia’s most consistent, over-performing, varietal wines. The Giant Steps Single Vineyard range is produced from the most site-expressive fruit from the best vineyards, in great years. Their aim is to express in each wine the character of the site, grape and vintage, and this they achieve by meticulous work in the vineyard and minimum intervention in the winery. Head winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team are making some of the best wines in Australia from these sites.

Applejack Vineyard was planted in 1997 by highly respected viticulturist Ray Guerin. Today it is meticulously managed by his son Mark. The vineyard is situated in the Upper Yarra Valley at higher altitudes of 300 metres above sea level, resulting in cooler growing conditions - ideal for Pinot Noir. The 12-hectare vineyard sits on a dramatic, east-facing slope of grey-brown clay loams, close-planted with MV6, 114 and 115 clones.

The 2018 season started off relatively dry with below average rainfall coming into budburst. October was quite cool, and the vines grew quite slowly. From November, there was a distinct change in the weather with an increase in heat and subsequent rapid growth. Yet again, great weather with warm and sunny days led to a fast and uniform flowering from mid-November. High fruit set and larger berries led to very high bunch weights. December was exciting with a series of tropical storms sucked down from northern Australia, topping up soil moisture and filling up the dams for later in the season. Nice full canopies protected fruit from the heat spikes in January.

The Pinot Noir grapes were 100% hand picked and hand sorted. Indigenous yeast fermentation took place with 40% whole bunches and the remainder whole berry. The wine was then aged for 10 months in tight grain French barriques (18% new) before bottling by gravity without fining or filtration.

100% Pinot Noir.

Very herbaceous on the nose with smoky cherry fruit and pronounced green bell pepper aromas. The youthful palate has a refined feel with tight tannins and great length.

ABV = 13.5%.


Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Australian Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Located on the Mornington Peninsula, one of Australia’s foremost cool-climate maritime wine regions, the domain is a specialist Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir producer. The winemaking philosophy at Kooyong is to best preserve the inherent characteristics present in the fruit while making wines of elegance, finesse, texture, complexity and structure. All their wines are entirely domain grown, vinified and bottled. There is always a fine balance between scrupulous attention to detail and minimal intervention allows wine to fully express provenance. "All of our wines convey a sense of the place and the season in which they were grown."

Please click on the blue link below to see Kooyong's excellent information and tasting notes for this wine.

Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2018 - fiche technique


Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Australian Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Named ‘Winery of the Year’ by James Halliday and Matt Skinner, Larry Cherubino wants his wines to be distinctive and to speak clearly of their variety and vineyard site. He believes in paying meticulous attention to the vineyard, canopy and water management, picking at the right time and minimal intervention in the winery. Larry also makes wine under the Laissez Faire label, an exquisite range of natural wines which are the ultimate expression of site, made in small batches from hand harvested grapes. From delicate whites to opulent reds, all his wines have pure class and finesse.

From the Margaret River and Pemberton to the regions of the Great Southern, Larry Cherubino's knowledge of these regions and his relationships with the growers enables him to source the best vineyards for each variety. The fruit for this wine was carefully sourced from a selection of vineyards in the Great Southern region in Western Australia. The vines are planted in granite laterite soils at a density of 2,020 per hectare and are planted on their own rootstocks using clones 777, MV6, 114 and 115.

The fruit was fermented using a combination of wild fermentation and selected yeasts. Once the fermentation was complete the wine was matured in a selection of one to three year old French oak barrels, for a period of six months.

100% Pinot Noir.

The nose shows graphite, minerals and juicy black cherries. A hint of spicy oak plays a supporting role. The palate is softly textured, fresh and vibrant, the flavours of black cherry and earthy beetroot carried along by a fine, long acid finish. Ideal with pheasant stew or roasted game with a rich wine gravy.

ABV = 14.0%.


Giant Steps `Wombat Creek Vineyard` Pinot Noir 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Australian Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Giant Steps `Wombat Creek Vineyard` Pinot Noir 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Giant Steps is a privately owned, estate based, Yarra Valley grower and winemaker that has forged a reputation for delivering some of Australia’s most consistent, over-performing, varietal wines. The Giant Steps Single Vineyard range is produced from the most site-expressive fruit from the best vineyards, in great years. Their aim is to express in each wine the character of the site, grape and vintage, and this they achieve by meticulous work in the vineyard and minimum intervention in the winery. Head winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team are making some of the best wines in Australia from these sites.

The grapes for this wine come from Wombat Creek vineyard, the highest altitude vineyard in the Yarra Valley at 420 metres above sea level. This makes it an ideal location for the production of cool climate wines. It was originally planted in 1988 with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with the intention of producing base wine for sparkling production, but over the years has gradually transitioned to being used for table wine. The ferrous -based volcanic soil produces a distinctively soft yet long and firm palate.

Two separate parcels were hand picked. 20% of the Pinot Noir was destemmed; the remainder of bunches were kept whole. Fermentation occurred in closed-top vats with light pump-overs and occasional foot stomps over a two week period to extend skin contact. The wine was then aged in 228 litre French barriques (18% new) for ten months before being bottled, unfinined and unfiltered.

100% Pinot Noir.

This wine is bright crimson-purple in colour. On the nose, there are intense aromas of red fruits with earthy and floral notes on the long finish.

ABV = 13.0%.


Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2016 (1x 75cl)

The 2017 vintage (not yet UK-available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Australian Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

Owned by the Aylward family - founders of the renowned Kooyong winery - Ocean Eight was established in 2004 in the southern and cooler side of Mornington Peninsula. In their state-of-the-art, temperature controlled, gravity fed winery, winemaker Mike Aylward produces stunning cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, taking influence from the great old world wine regions of Alsace, Burgundy and Champagne. All the grapes for the Ocean Eight wines are sourced from the family’s 17 hectares of vineyard and their total production each year is just 5,000 cases.

2016 saw the warmest summer in five years in the Mornington Peninsula, with the earliest picking date in 20 years. The harvest delivered clean, healthy fruit in big bunches and with even berries. The resulting wine from Ocean Eight offers a little more warmth and generosity of fruit than previous vintages, which is showing beautifully in its youth.

Planted in 1999, the grapes come from a 5.5-hectare block of Pinot Noir in the Mornington Peninsula. The clones are a mix of MV6, 114 and 115. Situated at an elevation of 65 metres with a north-western orientation, the vineyard has a great airflow, which minimises disease pressure as the canopy dries quickly. The soil is sandy loam which provides excellent drainage, essential nutrients for vine health and imparts minerality to the flavour profile.

The grapes were hand-picked, meticulously hand sorted and destemmed. A cold soak took place for three to four days, prior to fermentation which took place in an open topped one tonne vats, using natural yeasts. Fermentation lasted for a period of four to six weeks, to maximise the aromatics. The wine was pressed to old, 500 litre oak puncheons of three to four years and matured in oak for 12 months. This wine was not filtered or fined prior to being bottled.

Pinot Noir 100%.

Also a modern-style Pinot Noir with a complex nose full of dark red cherries, a touch of vanilla complemented by hints of Earl Grey tea and rhubarb. The palate is beautifully knitted together with soft, velvety tannins and this vintage offers a supple yet richer style.

ABV = 13.5%.


Lionel Gosseaume Domaine De Pierre Sauvignon de Touraine 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Celebrating Sauvignon, picking out a Top Twelve of Sauvignon(s) Blancs.

Lionel Gosseaume Domaine De Pierre Sauvignon De Touraine 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

If wine is in the blood, it seems you just can’t fight it. Lionel Gosseaume resisted until the age of 37, before giving in to the inevitable and taking on this small estate on the Touraine/Sologne border, between the Loire and its tributary, the Cher. Named after Lionel’s father, Domaine de Pierre vineyards date back to the late 19th century, the wines they produce having risen far above and beyond the Touraine norm.

This is a wine that has been fermented in stainless steel tanks as this helps preserve this wine's fresh character. No oak has been used. 

This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Beautifully fresh wine with floral and mint aromas, a hint of green peeper and a herbaceous note. It is a fresh and lively wine with zesty acidity. There are flavours of cherry tomatoes still on the vine alongside citrus and some minty characteristics. It is certainly more complex than you would often expect for a wine from Touraine at such a reasonable price. This wine has a Sauvignon character with just a touch of herbaceous exuberance. There is also some minerality with crushed-stones, which mingle seamlessly with the wine's medium body and fresh acidity.


Sattlerhof Gamlitz Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Celebrating Sauvignon, picking out a Top Twelve of Sauvignon(s) Blancs.

Sattlerhof Gamlitz Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Weingut Sattlerhof is renowned for its precise, elegant white wines. Located in South Styria (Südsteiermark in German), not far from the Slovenian border, Willhelm and Maria Sattler own 35 hectares of organically farmed vineyards in the village of Gamlitz. The Sattler family have been making wine at their 300-year-old farm since 1887. In the 1960s, they were among the first in the region to bottle high-quality dry white wines under their own name. Today, the baton has been passed to Willi and Maria’s sons, Alexander and Andreas. While their parents still take a keen interest in the estate, Alexander is now responsible for the vineyards and viticulture and Andreas is in charge of winemaking.

The vines are located on steeply sloping vineyards 350-450m aboves sea level and poses a distinctly cool microclimate.

The grapes were all hand harvested before spending 12 hours maceration on the skins in the press. After a gentle pressing and spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tanks the wine was left on its lees for 6 months before being bottled.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine is light lemon colour with fragrant mint on the nose. On the palate you can find elegant gooseberry and white asparagus which harmoniously unite to create balanced fresh finish.

ABV = 12.5%.


Cullen Amber Wilyabrup 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Celebrating Sauvignon, picking out a global Top Twelve of Sauvignon(s) Blancs.

Cullen Amber Wilyabrup 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with their philosophy summed up in three simple words; ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. It is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Wilyabrup, in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen and now run by their daughter Vanya, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for fine certified biodynamic wines that receive critical national and international acclaim. All wines are produced with grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Estates. Both are certified biodynamic, to allow the soil to be nurtured and the wines to reflect their sense of place.

Cullen follows the maxim that states that great wines are made in the vineyard. Thus, prior to planting, extreme care is taken in choosing the best possible site. Fruit for all Cullen Wines is sourced exclusively from two vineyards, both certified A Grade Biodynamic by the Biological Farmers Association (BFA) of Australia.

The idea behind this wine is to make a white wine like a red wine. The grapes were left on skins and fermented partially before being pressed. The length of skin contact with the must ranged from two days to one month depending on the grape/parcel. The fruit was fermented in different vessels: open-top fermentation tanks, closed tanks as well as amphora which explains the many layers and complexity in this wine. 79% of the wine spent four months in new Tonnellerie Bordelaise and Louis Latour oak barrels.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

This is a complex wine, with lemon, kumquat, orange blossom and hints of honey. It is textured and concentrated on the palate, with great length and persistence. Flavours of figs, dried pears, cream and orange are supported by a gentle saltiness on the finish.

ABV = 12.3%.


Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 98 points and Exceptional status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition expert tasting (by Matthew Jukes) of Australian Premium Shiraz (see blue link below).

Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

Dr John Kirk founded Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of Dr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

The fruit comes from two adjacent, family-owned vineyards just outside the village of Murrumbateman in the cool Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Murrumbateman's elevation is 600 metres above sea level. 'Canberra District' is the official geographical indicator for the winegrowing district around Canberra, Australia's capital city. 

The 2017 vintage was built on the wettest winter and early spring on record. The early rain was much needed, given the warm and generally dry summer that followed. After the heat of 2016, the more moderate conditions in 2017 made for an unhurried, steady ripening with layers of aroma and texture being built up along the way. In other words, a typical cool-climate year.

30% whole bunches were used in the ferments with the remaining fruit destemmed and crushed before being added to the fermentation tanks. All parcels were fermented with natural yeast for a period of 18 – 21 days on skins. The wine was aged for 12 months in one third new French barriques from Taransaud, Francois Freres, Mercurey and Sirugue. 5% of the Shiraz was co-fermented with the Viognier.

94% Syrah/Shiraz, 6% Viognier.

On the nose, this wine is intensely aromatic from fine musky florals to white pepper, with an incredibly exuberant explosion of fruit, boysenberry, raspberry, cherries and plums. On the palate, there is ripe red cherry, raspberry and red plum flavour, chocolate and a dusting of white pepper.

99 points, jamessuckling.com, Nick Stock, 14 Apr 16 “Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is now every bit as important to the story of great Australian wine as Henschke Hill of Grace and Penfolds Grange”.

98 points, James Halliday's 2017 Wine Companion, James Halliday, 03 Aug 16 "Tim Kirk is continuing to refine and explore the myriad of possibilities from this great site. Increasingly turning to higher proportions of whole bunches in the fermentations, he is getting greater and greater detail in his flagship wine. It is a thinker's wine, it stops you, draws you in and captivates. Incredibly detailed and floral-scented, the sumptuous and finely poised palate is a masterpiece".

ABV = 13.5%.


Darenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition expert tasting (by Matthew Jukes) of Australian Premium Shiraz (see blue link below).

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review 

Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breathtaking McLaren Vale in South Australia, and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.

Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often affected vines are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an 'arm' of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.

Small batches of grapes are gently crushed and then transferred to five tonne headed down open fermenters. These batches remain separate until final blending. Foot treading is undertaken two thirds of the way through fermentation. The wine is then basket pressed and transferred to a mixture of new and used French and old American oak barriques to complete fermentation. The barrel ferments are aged on lees; there is no racking until final blending and no fining or filtration.

100% Shiraz.

This iconic wine always displays the power and intensity of McLaren Vale Shiraz, yet has an elegance and refinement that few other wines from the region possess. It’s vibrant and lifted on the nose with bustling red fruits and savoury spice. The palate is long, linear and pure with tightly wound tannin and mouth-watering acidity. Beneath the layers of blueberry, pomegranate and satsuma plum is an intriguing core of earth and crushed rocks. If stored correctly, this wine should age for 15+ years.

ABV = 15.0%.


Innocent Bystander Syrah 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition expert tasting (by Matthew Jukes) of Australian Premium Shiraz (see blue link below).

Innocent Bystander Syrah 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

This winery changed hands in May 2016, with one family company, Brown Brothers, taking it off the hands of another, its founder, Phil Sexton. So associated is Innocent Bystander with the Yarra Valley that the new owners made the intelligent decision to build a new winery in Healesville, just across the parking lot from Giant Steps. They quickly signed contracts with all the grape growers that Phil used for Innocent Bystander, so that the style of the wines remains unchanged. This regional and varietal style, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley is the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built.

Fruit was selected vineyards in the Central Yarra. Vineyard management is intensive, with tasks such as shoot thinning, crop thinning and harvesting all carefully carried out by hand. The Yarra Valley climate is cool - slightly cooler than Bordeaux and slightly warmer than Burgundy - and, although alpine, gets some maritime influence due to being on the southern (seaward) side of the Great Dividing Range. This results in slow and steady ripening.

2017 was a very good vintage for the Yarra Valley. A cool, early summer meant harvest dates were three weeks later than the previous vintage but a perfect autumn gave evenly balanced crops with excellent acidity and ripe flavours.

Whole bunches were used in batches at varying percentages based on fruit structure and source. The overall blend incorporates 30% whole bunches. A three-day cold soak was followed by fermentation in stainless steel open top fermenters with mainly indigenous yeast strains. Variations of hand plunging, pigeage (punching down) and 'drain and return' were applied to the ferments, the frequency varying from parcel to parcel. Fermentation peaked at 32°C. The wine was then matured for nine months in French oak barriques and puncheons during which time malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place.

100% Syrah.

Black pepper, cherries, tar and dried rose perfumes. On the palate, soft tannins run through flavours of cherry compote and mocha. Dry to finish with a touch of spice.

ABV = 13.5%.


Mas La Mola Priorat Vi d'Altura 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Priorat (see blue link below).

Mas La Mola Priorat Vi d'Altura 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review

This seven-hectare property has been in the Ferrando family for 150 years. Today viticulture, winemaking and blending are overseen by Jordi Masdeu Català, a young Spaniard who spent time selling wine in London and Alessandro Marchesan. Their shared passion for old Garnacha and Cariñena vines led them to the famous slate, or llicorella soils of Priorat. The weathered old vines yield tiny quantities of fruit for both Mas La Mola wines.

Mas La Mola Priorat is a wine blended from grapes grown in a number of different vineyards on the estate which are situated between 350-800 metres above sea level. The vines are planted in different parcels in the Poboleda district, on llicorella slate slopes. Each parcel is different in terms of solar orientation, the unique microclimate that exists there, the varietals which grow and the different rootstocks used. The low-yielding Garnacha vines are aged between 35-70 years old.

Harvest was carried out by hand with rigorous selection both in the vineyard and at the winery. The grapes underwent a long, cold maceration to ensure a progressive extraction of colour and flavour. Malolactic fermentation took place in oak and the wine was then aged for 12 months in four-year-old French Allier oak barrels. Only the best barrels from each year are used for the final blend of Mas la Mola.

85% Garnatxa Negra and 15% Garnatxa Peluda.

Deep ruby in colour with a youthful purple hue, this wine has intense and layered aromas of black cherries, blueberries and a hint of spicy oak notes and a smoky minerality. This Priorat is full bodied and powerful, with ripe tannins, mouth-watering acidity and a long, fruit-driven finish.

ABV = 14.5%.


Bodegas Pinord Mas Blanc Estate '+ 7' Priorat 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage (no longer available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Priorat (see blue link below).

Bodegas Pinord Mas Blanc Estate '+ 7' Priorat 2013 - November 2019 Decanter review

In the heart of the Priorat appellation, between the villages of Bellmunt and Falset, is Pinord's Mas Blanc estate. Their 18 hectares of vineyard have been farmed organically from the beginning and most recently the family have adopted many biodynamic farming techniques. They believe by attempting to maintain a balance with the land they will be leaving it a better place for future generations

The grapes are sourced from seven different plots of vineyard, where the soils are made up of a slate known locally as licorella. The vines are cultivated organically and harvested by hand.

Following a meticulous selection process, the grapes underwent a careful maceration, extracting the primary aromas, flavours and the deep colour of the final wine. It was then aged for 14 months in American and French oak barrels, followed by 12 months in bottle.

Grenache 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Syrah 20%.

Generous blackcurrant fruit complemented by vanilla, chocolate and truffle, all enveloped in a dense and layered palate. Ripe, dense black fruits, vanilla and chocolate aromas envelope the full bodied, but elegant palate, which is rich and very silky with a long, smooth finish. 

ABV = 14.5%.


Vinis Catalonia Cop De Ma Fort Priorat 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 (no longer available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Priorat (see blue link below).

Vinis Catalonia Cop De Ma Fort Priorat 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review

This wine proved remarkably popular at a recent Spanish tasting here in Perth: it was found to be very easy-drinking, yet with enough substance and complexity to stand it well out from the crowd. At this price - for a Priorat - it's almost too good to be true.

They do things a little differently in Catalonia. This independent-minded part of Spain has long been slightly removed, linguistically and culturally, from the rest of the country. One of the more bizarre but breathtaking Catalan customs is that of the castellers. These brave or foolhardy (take your pick) locals love nothing better than to clamber over each other and form intricate human pyramids – or rather castles (castells). It’s a feat referenced in the wines of Vinis Catalonia, both in the name – Cop de Ma or ‘lend a hand’ – and in the eyecatching label. This marks the moment when the person atop the castell, known as the enxaneta, climbs into place and raises a hand, four fingers extended to resemble the stripes of the Catalan flag. The comparison goes deeper: the growers whose grapes find expression in the Cop de Ma range are proud to support one another in their endeavours. Together, they produce wines which are a byword for value for money – from the Garnacha Blanca, tipped as the Spanish Pinot Grigio, to the deep and harmonious oak-aged reds, including astonishingly well-priced Priorat.

Drawn from 10-30 year old vines on the slate/shale-rich, famous licorella soils. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks for 15 days, 12 of which are conducted in contact with the skins. Ageing takes place separately in two- to three-year-old French 225-litre barriques for eight months before a further three months in bottle before release.

40% Carignan/Carinena, 40% Garnacha/Grenache, 20% Syrah.

Red cherry and warm, earthy aromas precede a twist of spice. The palate is velvety and smooth with exceptional length.  Pair with poultry and meat stews, red and white meats and cured cheeses.


Elena Fucci Aglianico del Vulture Titolo 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded Tre Bicchieri - 2020 by Gambero Rosso.

The 2015 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Stars of the South (Italy) (see blue link below).

Elena Fucci Aglianico Del Vulture Titolo 2015 - November 2019 Decanter review

The Fucci family has lived on their estate in Basilicata since 1960, when Elena’s grandfather bought six hectares of vineyards at the highest part Contrada Solagna of Titolo, at the foot of Mount Vulture (an extinct volcano). Her grandfather and father tended the vines and sold the harvest as bulk grapes, only vinifying a small portion for personal consumption.It wasn’t until the 2000 vintage that the full potential of the domain’s 70-year-old Aglianico vines was properly explored. The family was going through the process of selling the estate when Elena made the last-minute decision to take on the property herself, with the intention of developing the vineyard and devoting herself to the land that she grew up loving so dearly. 2000 was the first proper vintage at Elena Fucci, harvested and vinified while Elena was still completing her studies in Viticulture and Enology.She knew from the beginning that they wanted to devote themselves to producing a singular wine, reflective of their unique terroir. Simply walking through the vineyard rows at Elena Fucci is a fascinating history lesson; the terrain is volcanic, the soil is mineral, dark in color, and pozzolanic, which clearly catalogues in its layers the history and life of the Vulture volcano, visible just a few hundred meters away. The eruptive phases composed of lava flows, lapilli and ash, interspersed with periods of stasis, composed of layers of clay, are all visible in the land, which translates to a fascinating wine in the glass.

The vineyards for the Titolo are positioned at the foot of Mount Vulture (an ancient, extinct volcano), in the village of Barile, the heart of production from the Aglianico del Vulture, one of the most suitable areas with a terroir and a unique microclimate.

Aglianico is notoriously late to ripen. This is one of the latest harvests in Italy; according to the weather, it may begin at the end of October or the beginning of November. The grapes are collected only by hand using small baskets, which are promptly taken to the cellar for vinification

The grapes, collected in small baskets are taken directly to the cellar for selection and removal from the vine. The whole grapes are then put into steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation (maceration lasts the same amount of time as fermentation). Afterward the must is drawn off and the dregs are soft pressed. Malolactic fermentation occurs in barriques of 200 litres (50% of which are new) for a total of 12 months. Additional aging takes place in bottles for 12 more months before release.

100% Aglianico (del Vulture).

Intense ruby color with strong garnet reflections. Ample and complex perfume, decidedly mineral, fruity and ethereally youthful with clear spicy hints. Aroma provokes strong sensation of cherry, currant, rosemary, tobacco and cinnamon. Has a dry, warm flavor, broad structure and persistent, aromatic and long finish. Wine of strong personality, representative of its territory and destined to have a great future.

ABV = 14.0%


Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Stars of the South (Italy) (see blue link below).

Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

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 wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria 2018 - fiche technique

60% Nero d’Avola, 40% Frappato.

An intriguing wine with an extraordinary vital energy based on wild fruits, wild strawberries, mulberry and pomegranate. An extremely gastronomic version of Cerasuolo which we like very much for its meaty peppery notes. In the mouth the wine reflects its olfactory impressions and thus we happily re-encounter the black pepper mixed with carob and sweet cherries. Quick on the palate with a very savoury rounded finish with hints of mulberry.

ABV = 13.0%.


Santadi Terre Brune 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded Tre Bicchieri - 2020 by Gambero Rosso (click link below).

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Stars of the South (Italy) (see blue link below).

Santadi Terre Brune 2015 - November 2019 Decanter review

The Sulcis (south-western Sardinia) is the most ancient geological area on the Island, which has preserved a timeless fascination. The coastal area has a variety of landscapes, including soft hills, vast plains and inland mountain ranges with pristine forests and unique biodiversity. The coast alternates towering cliffs with secluded coves and long stretches of splendid sandy beaches backed by pine woods and copses of century-old junipers. The grapes processed in the Santadi winery come from vineyards planted in this unique territory, scattered over a radius of about 30 km.

Sourced from old vines that are bush trained in the traditional manner in argillaceous and sandy soils in the Sulcis region. This reduces yields to as little as 1.5kg per vine; in turn creating super concentrated grapes. Harvest is by hand from late September into October

Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature, for about 15 days. During this period, pomace maceration enables complete diffusion of the polyphenols contained in the skins into the must. Next, early malolactic fermentation enables the transfer of the wine into barriques already in early December. Maturation in new, fine-grained French oak barriques continues for 16-18 months maximum, at the end of which the wine has acquired complexity, style and longevity. There is then further development in the bottle for 12 months.

Carignano 95%, Bovaleddu 5%.

This wine is deep ruby red in colour, with light garnet tinges. The aromas offer some  complexity of plums and blueberries, sweet spices, bay, juniper, tobacco and chocolate. The flavours are rich, warm, mellow, fruity and spicy with smooth tannins.

This wine pairs beautifully with red meat, game and full flavoured cheese. Try it with teriyaki pork chops and Thai vegetables, pan-seared filet mignon with roasted potatoes and Merlot sauce or a grilled sirloin steak with anise- basil butter.

ABV  =15.0%.


Ramon Bilbao Edicion Limitada Lias Verdejo 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of Rueda and Verdejo (see blue link below). 

Ramon Bilbao Edicion Limitada Lias Verdejo 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

Established in 1924 and based in Haro, Ramón Bilbao has 180 vineyards spread across Rioja. Today, it is the fastest growing winery in the region and has firmly established itself as one of Spain’s most exciting and innovative producers. Born and bred in the region chief winemaker Rodolfo Bastida is a man who likes to push the boundaries and believes the future lies in trial and exploration.

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

Ramon Bilbao Edicion Limitada Lias Verdejo 2017 - fiche technique


Javier Sanz Verdejo 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of Rueda and Verdejo (see blue link below). 

Javier Sanz Verdejo 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

The Sanz family have been producing quality wines for over 150 years. Run by the fourth generation, Javier Sanz has 104 hectares of vineyard, including the viticultural treasure of the pre-phylloxera vineyard of El Pago de Saltamontes. Despite his ultramodern winery, he maintains that the key to outstanding wine is growing good grapes. He believes in the traditional relationship between the grower and the vine. Wines by Javier Sanz embody a philosophy; a vision. Faithful to their origins, they bear the touch of the grower.

Javier Sanz's vineyards are laid out in a mosaic of plots and small vineyards all within the Valladolid municipality of La Seca. Painstaking work takes place in the vineyard to ensure the best quality grapes are grown. The plot is planted with bush vines, keeping the grapes close to the ground allowing them to ripen at night due to the heat retention of the soil, while protecting them from the excessive heat and sunlight during the day. Resistant to weather and disease, these vines are labour intensive to harvest. They grow well in the gravelly pebble soils, which are poor in organic matter and have good drainage. The continental climate, with its large diurnal temperature swings, sees the high daytime temperatures tumble by up to 20 degrees at night. The cold winters and rains in spring and autumn help the grapes to reach the characteristic acidity Verdejo is known for.

The 2018 harvest was higher in volume than previous years. It was also a vintage of an undeniable quality. As Santiago de Íscar, the winemaker stated ‘the grapes were in an extraordinary, healthy condition’. The weather patterns enabled the grapes to ripen to excellent maturity levels, while retaining beautiful balance.

Javier Sanz's philosophy is to intervene as little as possible in the winemaking process and they engage in sustainable winemaking practices. The grapes were carefully harvested by hand and crushed. Maceration on the skins took place at a low temperature for several hours. The grapes were then pressed and the juice was settled for a period of 24 hours. Once clear, a slow fermentation took place in stainless steel vats at temperatures of below 15°C, using the grapes' indigenous yeasts. The low fermentation temperatures preserved the fruity aromatics. The wine was cold stabilised and filtered prior to bottling.

Verdejo 100%.

Flavours of lime and green apple enhanced by fresh, herbaceous notes and spice, and full flavored. Vibrant varietal notes of sweet grapefruit and pineapple, combine with anise, fennel and floral notes. Bone dry with a crisp, refreshing palate and a lively finish.

ABV = 13.0%.


Bodegas Vinatigo Vijariego Blanco 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of the Spanish islands (see blue link below). 

Bodegas Vinatigo Vijariego Blanco 2017 - November 2019 Decanter review

The philosophy behind Bodegas Viñátigo is to revive and promote the extensive varietal heritage of the Canary Islands. The journey started in the 1990s, at a centuryold plot in the village of La Guancha, in the north of Tenerife, where the traditional varieties of Listán Blanco and Listán Negro were vinified in the old family winery. With an uncompromising eye on quality, this dynamic winemaking project has subsequently expanded to produce thrilling, modern wines from varieties such as Gual, Marmajuelo and Vijariego. Bodegas Viñátigo’s ethos is respectful of the environment, both in the vineyard where sustainable winegrowing practices are applied; and in the construction of its state-of-the-art winery which was built in 1997 from local materials and designed to minimise energy consumption.

The absence of phylloxera in the Canary Islands has preserved many unique varieties creating an unparalleled viticultural heritage. As a result, all of the vines are ungrafted, allowing for a complete interaction between the plant and soil, which helps to impart the marked minerality in the wines. The combination of volcanic soils, the cooling Alisios trade winds and the distinctive microclimates found on the island, contributes to the extraordinary personalities of the wines. The vineyard is managed sustainably without the use of herbicides or synthetic products. Due to the orography of the land, the vineyards are manually cultivated resulting in handcrafted wines.

The 2018 vintage was generally a cool year, which translated into beautiful aciditydriven wines. This freshness also ensured the wines have a fruit-forward quality. The vines yielded an average harvest, but the quality of the fruit was very high

The grapes were cooled to 5°C prior to vinification. Sulphur was not added, because at these temperatures oxidation takes place more slowly, which permits the winemakers to work without the use of additives, while preserving the high quality. Fermentation took place with the indigenous yeasts, in Allier oak barriques of 225 and 350 litres of varying toast levels. The wine was aged in oak barrels, on its fine lees with regular bâtonnage for four to six months.

Vijariego Blanco 100%.

Fragrant aromas of pear and vanilla over smoky notes delightfully introduce this wine. An array of tropical fruits are complemented by citrus, spice and floral notes, while the striking acidity of this variety is beautifully balanced by creaminess from the barrel ageing.

ABV = 13.5%.


Mesquida Mora Sincronia Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of the Spanish islands (see blue link below). 

Mesquida Mora Sincronia Blanc 2018 - November 2019 Decanter review

Mesquida Mora is a newer established winery on the small island of Mallorca by 4th generation winemaker Bàrbara Mesquida Mora. Their family has been making wine on the island for around 50 years now, and in 2007, with her brother Jaume, she decided to branch out with a new line of wines and committing to an entirely bio-dynamic production. Pulling from their estate fruit that is dotted throughout the central and eastern portion of the island within the Pla i Llevant DO, the wines are proving to be an incredible representation of what the island wines are capable of. Focused on happy and healthy grapes that will be passed on to generations to come, Mesquida Mora is a winery to keep an eye on.

Although located within the Pla i Llevant DO in the center of the island, Mesquida Mora chooses to demarcate their wines to VdlT Mallorca to preserve the entire island’s importance Sincronia Blanc takes its name from the simple pieces of life that take opportunity from other pieces, the magic of life.When the younger vines of Mesquida Mora vineyards were born, they came in synchrony with their older siblings (Acrollam & Trispol) to create a second tier for the estate’s exceptional production.  The Blanc is made of Premsal, Giró and Chardonnay, having seen a hand harvest, separate fermentations, and a combination for a 4-month aging in stainless steel on the lees.  The Premsal is a fairly light bodied varietal, so it saw a couple days of extruded skin contact to add more depth to the final wine.  Very little sulfur was used throughout the winemaking process so that the final wine is soft yet has incredible texture and freshness with loads of life, with a grip of tasty fruit, and displays the style and personality of the island.

75% Chardonnay, 15% Premsal, 10% Giró.

0.3g/litre residual sugar, ie bone dry.

AGE OF VINEYARD(S): 25 years old.

SOIL TYPE: Calcareous, clay, & red gravel.

FARMING METHODS: Biodynamic/organic.

FERMENTATION: Stainless steel, indigenous yeasts.

AGING: No oak aging 4 months on lees.


PRODUCTION: 16,000 bottles.

The nose is gently aromatic, showing crisp notes of greengage and pear, the palate is finely textured with a minerally undertone from the Prensal grape – altogether a fresh, zesty delicate and balanced white.

ABV = 13.5%.


Pago De Los Capellanes Crianza 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of Ribera del Duero (see blue link below). 

Pago de Los Capellanes Crianza 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review

Founded in Pedrosa de Duero, in the province of Burgos, Pago de los Capellanes was the Rodero Villa family's first wine growing venture. The local clay and gravel soils, the altitude of the Tempranillo vineyards and their meticulous production methods produce timeless wines, noted for their full-bodied nature and velvety texture.

The grapes are drawn from a selection of parcels with an average age of 30 years in the vineyards in Las Laderas del Monzón in Gumiel del Mercado, being on  predomnantly chalky-clay and sandy soils. 

Selected harvest in early October. Once the grapes arrive at the winery a controlled alcoholic (primary) fermentation is initiated, with seeding using selected yeasts from our best vineyards, for a period of 30 days with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation is done without the addition of bacteria, at a cellar temperature of 20ºC for 24 days and controlling malic and lactic acid levels. The wine is then rested in 300 litre selected grain French oak casks for 12 months.

100% Tempranillo.

A wine with great nuances and balance. A very intense cherry colour with cardinal red rims. Very frank in the nose, with aromas of ripe red fruit and balsamic hints. Smooth in the mouth, filling the palate with exquisite flavours of plum and blackcurrant, plus a long and elegant finish. Well-balanced and with a lively acidity.


Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded Tre Bicchieri -2020 by Gambero Rosso.

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2019 Weekday Wines feature (see blue link below). (NB: it most definitely isn't available from the mentioned outlet (or anywhere else we can find) at the stated price there!)

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2017 - Nov 2019 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.

Calvarino takes its name, 'little Calvary', from the steepness of the slope and the difficulty this presents in working the vineyard. It has 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 gives 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 300 metres above sea level, at a density of 3,000 vines per hectare.

The 2017 vintage began with a mild and dry autumn and winter. This dry weather meant that, by March, there were some drought worries. Spring continued to be relatively warm, until a sudden frost at the end of April struck and caused a lot of damage to the first buds in many areas of northern Italy. Fortunately, the hillside location of the Calvarino vineyard meant that it was not so badly affected by the frost. High temperatures and dry weather continued through the summer and meant that some irrigation was necessary. The Trebbiano grapes were harvested in at the end of August, two weeks earlier than usual. Pieropan decided to delay the Garganega harvest so that the grapes could reach full maturity, aided by some September rains. Despite the hot temperatures, the grapes have retained freshness and flavour.

The grapes were destemmed and crushed, the free-run juice was fermented at controlled temperatures between 16 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 for a few months before release.

70% Garganega, 30% Trebbiano di Soave.

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

ABV = 12.5%.


Beronia Rioja Crianza 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of High Street (Spanish) Reds (see blue link below). 

Beronia Rioja Crianza 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review

Bodegas Beronia is quintessentially Rioja. Its wines are defined by the region and the soils in which the vines are grown, and its name linked to the history of the land where the winery is found. In the 3rd Century BC the area known as Rioja today was inhabited by a celtic tribe called the ‘Berones’. The founding ethos of Beronia is strongly allied to the origins of La Rioja. Beronia was founded in 1973 by a group of businessmen, friends from the Basque country who would visit La Rioja on holiday. They decided, to produce their own wines to enjoy with the local cuisine,  specialising in Reserva and Gran Reserva style wines. Today Beronia is one of the most renowned Spanish wineries, producing traditional Rioja wines with personality and Beronia style.  

The grapes for this wine were collected at the beginning of October. Following harvest, the grapes underwent cold maceration for a few days in order to extract aromas and colour (but not tannins). Alcoholic fermentation took place at a (low) temperature of less than 26ºC with periodic pumping over. The wine was then aged in mixed oak barrels of American staves and French tops for 12 months giving both vanilla notes from the American oak and spice from the French oak. The wine was bottled in January 2016 and remained in bottle for 3 months before being released to the market.

This Rioja is made using a combination of the following grapes: Tempranillo (91%), Garnacha (8%) and Mazuelo (aka Carignan) (1%). 

This Beronia Crianza shows an intense cherry colour. Attractive nose with red fruits and floral aromas in perfect harmony with mineral and cocoa notes. A balanced and sweet palate with the fruit and liquorice standing out over a base of chocolate and coffee.  Persistant and well structured.

ABV = 14.0%.


Cuatro Pasos Black Bierzo Mencia 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of Spanish Mencía (see blue link below).

Cuatro Pasos Black Bierzo 2016 - March 2019 Decanter review

As well as their work in pioneering the whites of Galicia, Luciano Amoedo and Katia Álvarez of Martín Códax also make this red wine in Bierzo. The Bierzo DO lies further inland from Rías Baixas, with a slightly warmer climate where Mencía is the native variety.

The discovery of four bear footprints in a magnificent vineyard in the highest areas of the Bierzo inspired the name of this wine - Cuatro Pasos or Four Steps. It is a 100% Mencía from grapes chosen from the over 80 year old vines found in vineyards located in the high areas of the Bierzo region. Yields are 35 hectolitres per hectare.

2016 surpassed expectations, having started with rain and potential issues with mildew during flowering, it improved with spectacular weather in August. Hot, sunny days allowed grapes to ripen well and a healthy harvest was produced.

Grapes were picked by hand in 20 kilogram crates and then selected from a sorting table. They were then destemmed and crushed. Pre-fermentative maceration took place at 12ºC and alcoholic fermentation at 24-26ºC. The wine spent an extended period on the skins post-fermentation and was then aged for 6-7 months in French oak (75%) and American oak (25%) before filtering and bottling.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Cuatro Pasos Black Bierzo Mencía 2016 - fiche technique

100% Mencia.

This wine is intense morello cherry red in colour with a wide rim. It has an excellent blend of red fruit notes, toasted spicy and smoked notes. It is full-bodied and balanced, with well-integrated tannins and a mineral finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

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