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Decanter Oct

¡Ay, caramba!

The October Decanter is out and it's wall-to-wall, cover-to cover South America! Muy fabuloso!

(www.decanter.com)

¿Qué pasa?

Our big news is that we've one of the two 95-point/Outstanding Chilean Pinot Noirs. Equally key is that there are barely 250 bottles of this anywhere in the UK - we have access to half of them - so don't delay.

** ALAS - THS HAS NOW SOLD OUT, BUT DO READ ON FOR ITS CLOSE RIVALS. **

We've also a bundle more Highly Recommended Chilean Pinots on 92 and 93 points - including one wee gem at just £10.60 - plus a very good sweep of the Highly Recommendeds topping the Alternative Whites of South America panel, including an ever-consistent Argentine 94-pointer for a few pence over a tenner.

As you'd expect, there's much more detail below on the panel reviews and those wines.

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.

 

To those two panel reviews, then:

Chilean Pinot Noir

There's a lot of truisms in the panel article, but none greater than, "If there's one thing that gets wine lovers hot under the collar, it's Pinot Noir", and, close to it, "As for the Holy Grail - well, that's great Pinot Noir at a bargain price". 

We'll fully testify to that. When award winners, poll-toppers and highly-rateds are announced, we expect demand to go particularly-super-bananas if they are Rioja (=> 'run for cover'), New Zealand Sauvi Blanc (=> 'clear the beaches') and Pinot Noir under £25 (=> 'alert The Fleet').

But "great Pinot Noir"? Oh, Chilean Pinot can entirely do and be that ... but it seldom does or is. The trick for you and us lies in finding those hidden gems, so tests/reviews like this are particularly useful in navigating through that iffy Pinot mire.

A mire? Well, yes. Chile has, since its inception, largely (we stress that) majored in quantity over quality, bulk over boutique ... across almost every variety. As Decanter says, "Chile has long been the source of everyday Pinot - one of the few countries to consistently supply this niche".

It need not be a mire: Chile has quite superb, nay, truly perfect terroirs available for Pinot - it can lay claim to ideal soils (including superb limestone-clays à la Cote d'Or), (very) cooling ocean currents and winds, ideal rainfall regimes, a lack of disease... you name it,  it's there. The cooler northern and southern valleys (respectively Limarí, Aconcagua, Casablanca, Leyda [north] and Malleco & Itata, [south]) - away from the heat of the Central Valley (more suited to Cab Sauv, Carmenere, Merlot) - have all that is needed to produce Pinot Noir that rivals the best of Central Otago, Sonoma/Carneros, Walker Bay ... and all but the very best of Burgundy.

<map from Decanter>

Even that latter statement may look different in 20 years. Which is to say that the Chilean Pinot producers continue to make huge strides in their quality. They just have quite a way to go, especally in terms of perception. Perception is definitely an issue: we have plenty of conversations with Pinot aficionados who will simply not consider Chile as worthwhile.

How to typify a Chilean Pinot? Much of the market - and the reputation in general - is one of lightness ... a lack of depth and seriousness. A minerality - sometimes far from subtle - is not uncommon from desert, rock and volcanic soils. Fruit ripeness is seldom a problem. Oak/barrique handling  - where it occurs (much of the <£12 PN sees only steel) - can be too light (unnoticeable) or too heavy (often an overblown sense of charring) ...  but this too is changing and well-balanced treatment is now more widespread as Burgundian and NZ expertise seeps up and down thie daftly-long-and-thin nation.

<I now re-read the above and see that I've not painted the most alluring picture of Chilean Pinot. The key is to find the exceptions: those wines that rise above this common herd. There are plenty in the panel review, and the poll-topper is excellent. That's not pushy marketing: we'd not risk our credibility with you in coming reviews by over-applauding a wine. The topper surprised us. We'll get to that in just a moment; bear with us>.

Results: The panel tested 61 Chilean Pinots: two emerged as Outstanding (95+) (none, note as Exceptional (98+), rather bearing out that getting-there-but-not-there-yet message); another 22 emerged as Highly Recommended (90+). Those 24 top wines average a price of ~£18.50. No particular Chilean valley dominated the results, nor did any particular vintage (2014-18 were all on show).

"Get on with it!"? What, you mean, tell you about the poll-topper? Certainly.

The poll-topper we offer is Viña Tabalí's Talinay Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015. We've a lot more detail on this one, and that's all best viewed on the product page (click that link; there's also an excellent video there). It's a single-vineyard wine from their Talinay plot, just 12km inland from the chilly Pacific, in a micro-side-valley of the main Limarí valley. That plot has two key features:

  • an ultra-cool microclimate from the ocean breezes (see sketch below); and
  • soil that is exclusively from/on limestone and chalk, making it (probably) the only such site in all Chile and much akin to the lieux-dits of the Cote d'Or.

Coupled with some very fine-know how and winemaking talent, the outcome is excellent. As the panel said, respectively (see full review below or on product page):

  • "Bright, but muted red fruits. High-ish acidity, quite fresh, refreshing. A lovely example of Chilean Pinot".
  • "A wine that teases you and tantalises. Fresh, crisp, elegant, with coiled energy like a spring. Made by someone who understands proper Pinot. The touch of age gives it extra savoury complexity. Tangy acidity, lovely line and a lifted, engaging, food-friendly finish. Lovely stuff".
  • "Another fine example of Limarí Pinot, this has that strong salty feeling together with a firm, solid structure of tannins, well integrated acidity and refreshing red fruits".

Of course, we had a good taste and check ourselves. We can't just leave these things to outsiders, you know.

We'd definitely expected something rather light and insubstantial (I write as a definite Pinotsceptic), perhaps quite one-dimensional and lacking in complexity. But this really surprised us: there is more density, depth, concentration, multi-layeredness and ... well ... ooomph than the usual, and by some margin. Let's not get carried way: this is Pinot Noir, still, and not a Cabernet. What it is, though, is more akin to a NZ (Otago, probably) or Californian PN in style. It's obviously not Corton, Chambertin or Musigny. But then, at £17.75 a bottle, you wouldn't expect that, would you? 

It's good, and it justifies its billing. We heartily recommend it.

 

Before we move on, we should point out that we have some near-contenders in the same panel:

- The Viña Ventolera (Leyda valley) 2016 scores a solid 93 points ("ample and generous", "lovely energy on the palate, said the panel); and

 - the 93-point Echeverria Gran Reserva (Casablanca valley) 2017 is a total steal at just £10.60 a bottle ("a polished wine, lovey Pinot typicity", "excellent definition and lift").

 - ... plus 5 more above 90 points (see all wines at foot of page below).

Viña Echeverria

Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017

£10.60

 

Alternative South American Whites

Strictly speaking, this panel is titled South American Whites: Beyond the Big Two - that is, anything that's not Chardonnay or Sauvi Blanc (you may recall a similar NZ panel last year). 

So what is that? That's pretty much:

  • Argentine Torrontés;
  • Chilean Riesling;
  • Sémillon (from both sides of the Andes); and
  • Uruguyan Albariño

in the main.

There's also the odd Gewürz, Marsanne/Roussane and field blend, but they're very much the exception. Across the board, a key feature is the great value of these whites - most are £10-£15 - all with great concentration and flavour. None of the 89 wines tested made it to 95 points/Outstanding. Perhaps, given their pricing, that shouldn't entirely surprise.

So, what emerges well?

- The top contender, Highly Recommended on 94 points, is one we've offered for years and wins award after award: Amalaya's Torrontés-Riesling (2018) at just £10.30. 85% Torrontés, 15% Riesling, it has the full flowery, peachy, aromatic, full-bodied Torrontes thing going on, but with some zippy Riesling adding acidity and zing. <NB: I must declare that, despite its plaudits, this is not a wine I get on with - it represents something, in my view, of a diminution of both grape varieties to make that blend. Honestly - and I realise this is hardly powerful marketing - I'm not sure the Torrontés really benefits from the extra acidity and lemon/lime. But I'm very much a minority here in the face of such broader congratulation for this standout wine; I simply wanted to sound that personal note of caution>.

Amalaya

Blanco de Corte Torrontés-Riesling 2018

£10.30

 

- There's a stack of other Torrontéses across the 32 Highly Recommendeds: from Andeluna (91 pts, £11.50), Colomé (91 pts, £11.70), El Esteco (90 points, £13.55) and Kaiken (90 pts, £10.75). 'Tis a great shame our favourite, perhaps the ne plus ultra of Torrontés, the wonderful Susana Balbo Signature Barrel Fermented Torrontés didn't go up for test.

- Our favourite of the panel? Tricky, but probably Viña Leyda's (single-vineyard) Neblina Riesling from Chile's Leyda Valley. The reviewed 2015 (92 points) was wonderful, with age development (kerosene/petrol/etc) starting to emerge. But it has all gone in the UK. The 2018, however, is fuly available and claims 90 points, and those couple of extra points (of difference from the 2015 vintage) will more than emerge as it ages. This is a highly concentrated Riesling - subtle it is not - and one for fans of high-octane wines.

- Don't miss the Uruguayan Albariños; ours from Garzón (91 points) is quite lovely. Think: Rías Baixas/Galicia but with more body/cream and overall flavour ... and with the acidity backed off (just) a touch.

- And the two Argentine Sémillons are fascinating (if, perhaps for some, an acquired taste); the value offering is Humberto Canale's (Rio Negro) at £14.70, the 2017 of which lands 90 points <this will not available for some months in the UK; we offer the excellent 2016>. The 'classy' offering, albeit at double the price: is the hugely-flavoursome Riccitelli (91 points; it has scored markedly better in other Decanter panels, and see below). 

 

Beyond the panel reviews

- The Riccitelli Sémillon also pops up (scoring 95 - see what I mean above?) in an Old Vines feature, which also sees De Martino's old faithful, the Tinajas Muscat, score 96 <this is one very unusual wine; please see the caveats on the product page>. See also: some markedly esoteric wines from Garage Wine Co and Leonardo Erazo.

- Andrew Jefford takes a good look at 25 Premium Argentine Malbecs. After we overcame the outrage of not seeing a single contender from Catena in there (there should be at least a half dozen), we're pleased to see Colomé's Autentico, Altos las Hormigas's Gualtallary Malbec, Kaiken's (big cuddly) monster, the Mai and Trapiche's Finca Coletto in his selections. These are most definitely specimens for the Big Wine Fanatic.

- There's a feature on Brazil. Yes, Brazil. And wine, note, not coffee. Some of it is excellent. Miolo's Millésime Brut (91 pts) and Lote 43 red Bordeaux blend (91 pts) are well worth a look for the South American adventurer (Tintin and the Brazilian Cabernet-Merlot?). 

- And Uruguayan Tannat. We're big fans here (and we find that most folk who try it become such, too). The luxury Garzón Single Vineyard is a huge (and complex) wine (92 points) but gets out-pointed (93 points) by the super-value (<£15) Altos de José Ignacio Reserva. Super wine, this.

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Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Echeverria Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Viña Echeverría is a family-run estate winery, owned and managed by the Echeverría family. Established in 1930, but with an agricultural heritage going back to the 1700s, Viña Echeverría is as much today, as always, driven by a shared passion for winemaking and an uncompromising search for excellence. Viña Echeverría combines nearly a century of viticulture and winemaking experience with a modern state-of-the-art winery, to produce a range of over 20 quality wines from nine different grape varieties. It has recently been awarded its Sustainable Winery status by Wines of Chile, as well as its ISO9000 certification.

The 2017 harvest was characterised by high temperatures throughout the ripening period from véraison onwards and late rainfall during spring. The temperatures were warm and favourable during flowering. The warm average temperatures allowed for a high accumulation of sugars in the berries which resulted in earlier harvest than usual, by one to two weeks. The red wines achieved soft tannins, good colour and a great aromatic expression.

The vineyard is located in the Casablanca Valley, a cool-climate coastal region close to the Pacific Ocean approximately 47 miles north of Santiago. The proximity to the sea results in a Mediterranean climate, with pronounced maritime influence. The cooling sea breezes from the cold Humboldt stream, tempers the heat of the warm, sunny days and creates cool foggy mornings, ideal for top quality Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The soils are clay and sandy soils, which provide good drainage. Careful pruning ensures the correct balance between canopy and fruit.

Cold pre-fermentation maceration took place at 5°C for four to five days, in order to extract colour and primary aromas. Fermentation lasted for 10 to 12 days at temperatures of 26° to 29°C in stainless steel tanks, with selected yeasts. Post fermentation maceration lasted for five days, then 100% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. 75% of the wine was aged in French oak barrels for six months, adding oak complexity to the final blend.

100% Pinot Noir.

This elegant Pinot Noir combines aromas of strawberries, black cherries and raspberries with hints of chocolate and mocha. The palate is round and soft, with refreshing acidity and balanced fruit. Works well with earthy flavours such as mushrooms and truffles, grilled meats - pheasant or a rack of lamb. Try with oily fish such as salmon and tuna.

£10.60

Vina Ventolera Ventolera Pinot Noir 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Ventolera Ventolera Pinot Noir 2016 - October 2019 Decanter review

Ventolera is an exciting new venture between founder Vicente Izquierdo and one of Chile's top winemakers Stefano Gandolini. The vineyard, which was planted in 1999, is located in the region of the Leyda Valley, just six kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. The area is being singled out as being Chile's newest and most radical cool-climate wine region, which is strongly influenced by the cooling effects of the Humboldt Current that flows up from the Antarctic. Ventolera is a Spanish word which refers to this strong sea wind; its cooling influence is instrumental in producing wonderfully elegant wines.

The summer season was cool with cloudy weather during January and February, which slowed down the ripening of the grapes. Early crop adjustments were made in order to produce grapes with the optimal balance between alcohol and acidity. The fruit harvested is elegant and delivers beautiful mineral tones.

The vineyard is located close to the sea, with sea breezes producing a cooling effect which combined with the high levels of humidity, enhances the fruit flavours in the grapes. The vines are trained vertically with strict water control which helps to moderate vigour and encourage small concentrated grapes. Yields are approximately five tonnes per hectare. The vines are grown in granite and alluvial soils. All the grapes are hand-picked at optimal maturity levels, before being taken immediately to the winery in order to retain freshness.

Hand- selected grapes were vinified in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 23°C with a total maceration time of 18 days. The wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 14 months. This wine was bottled without fining.

100% Pinot Noir.

The vibrant bouquet of cherries and raspberries is a distinctive hallmark of the Leyda Valley Pinot Noir. Expressive and layered on the palate, with great freshness, purity of fruit and a long, structured finish.

£23.00

Dominique Derain Las Nubes Pinot Noir 2018 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Dominique Derain Las Nubes Pinot Noir 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Dominique Derain has farmed vines and made biodynamic wines in his estate located in the old presbytery in the village of Saint-Aubin (Hautes Cotes de Beaune) for thirty years, ever since he bought the estate in 1988. Before being a vigneron, he was a cooper. He is now retired, but has passed his estate on to Julien Altaber and Carole Schwab. He still helps them out in the vineyard and in the winery. Now that he is “an old man” (his own words) and has so many years of experience farming and making wine biodynamically, he regularly receives requests from many vineyard owners throughout the world to vinify wines for them. Dominique enjoys these challenges at this late stage in his life. He met the Chilean vigneron who farms these Pinot vines, one Julio Denoso, through a mutual friend who owns a wine and photograph shop in Paris called Faute ‘O Vin. The friend took Julio to visit Dominique; Julio tasted the wines and proposed to Dominique that he come out to Chile to vinify some of his wines there. A firm friendship has now been forged (Dominique refers to it as “une histoire humaine très sympathique”).

This north-east corner of Casablanca region is only 20 minutes from the ocean, benefiting from relatively mild temperatures, and decent rainfall. The young Pinot vines are planted on terraces at an altitude of 350 metres on granitic-clay soils rich in manganese, and farmed biodynamically.

The grapes for Las Nubes were manually harvested at night to retain acidity, whereupon Dominique did a saignée of the grapes destemming 60% with the remainder whole bunches. Transferred to a cuve tronconique béton, the wine was macerated with skins overnight, whereupon 7hl of juice was drawn off. The wild ambient ferment proceeded in a cement egg, then free-run juice and the press juice were blended and transferred to 40-hectolitre stainless steel vat with adjustable lids, and containing an air chamber, where the wine subsequently spent a further three months ageing and completing its alcoholic fermentation.

Las Nubes was bottled without filtration and fining and zero sulphur was added. The lab analysis gives a total SO2 of just 0.001. You can taste (the lack of) it! The name means “the clouds” and it’s derived from the name of the area in which the vineyard called Montsecano is situated. The owner of the vineyard (Julio’s uncle) asked Dominique to put the name Las Nubes on the label.

A delightful light red, closer to a mid-rosé in colour, with lifted primary red fruit on the nose and on the palate. With its delicate extraction, we are reminded of a really cracking Beaujolais, a kind of Pinot-primeur. This is a very Chilean cuvée by Dominique, a super fruity and very expressive Pinot Noir. The intention here is for a fresh, immediately enjoyable wine, and it hits the spot!

£25.15

Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below) and ... 

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

... the 2018 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.

This 100% Pinot Noir comes a vineyard located in the Leyda Valley, just 12 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Pinot Noir Las Brisas (= breezes) comes from a selection of two blocks with a southwest exposure that sit in an excellent microclimate: The western exposure provides a direct breeze from the Pacific (hence the wine’s name), and the southern exposure provides less direct sunlight, thus a slower grape maturation. It is one of the last Pinots to be harvested. The soils’ surface contains granite, directly related to the wine’s vibrancy and juiciness. 

The grapes were harvested by hand between March 5-14, with 22.8-24° Brix. A vibrating table selected bunches before destemming, gently crushing and filling stainless steel tanks. Half was vinified in open tanks, the other half in closed tanks. The cold maceration lasted four days at 10°C, followed by the alcoholic fermentation. During fermentation, gentle pumpovers were used while maintaining temperatures between 24°-26°C. Once ready, the wine was racked into used barrels (30%), stainless steel tanks (37%) and untoasted French oak (2-y-o) barrels (33%) in order to undergo the malolactic fermentation and age for 10 months before bottling.

This is a great example of Pinot Noir, aromatically fresh and complex. A juicy, fruity and elegant wine. It has a beautiful, bright colour. Clean and fruity on the nose, with hints of red cherries, raspberries and a subtle wild herb note. Las Brisas is delicate and refined on the palate. Juicy with ripe flavours of berries combined with mineral notes and a lively acidity.

£15.20

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, first produced in 1987, broke the mould for premium wines in Chile. Since then, Alpha has developed to become the core range in the Montes portfolio. The grapes and sites are carefully selected in order to ensure varietal integrity and complexity. Viticulture is hands on rather than mechanical or industrial.

The Pinot Noir vineyards are planted on gently rolling hills with different aspects and are trained to vertical shoot position. The sites are irrigated via a 'Sustainable Dry Farmed' system, developed by Aurelio and his team, which allows for extremely precise and minimal irrigating, reducing their water footprint by 65%. The vines only require minimal work with the canopy, which enables the growers to obtain healthy grapes with good balance at harvest time. Yields vary between 7,000 and 8,000 kilograms per hectare. The proximity of the vineyards to the Pacific coast endows the wine with tremendous freshness, minerality, and cold-climate typicity. The granitic soils of the Coastal Mountains have varying percentages of clay, which contributes elegance, creaminess and a unique sense of place.

The 2017 vintage was characterised by favourable weather conditions, little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. This meant grapes needed little viticultural intervention to help ripen evenly and without risk of disease. Good weather continued well into the growing season and as harvest approached, temperatures dropped slowly, allowing fruit to retain acidity and develop aromatic complexity. This vintage has delivered fruit of exceptional quality, displaying a level of balanced ripeness not seen in recent vintages.

The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for 5-7 days to extract aroma and colour, especially important for thin-skinned Pinot Noir. After that, the must was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and then kept on the skins to give structure and colour for another 15-20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the final blend was aged in French oak barrels (25% new) for 10-12 months.

See also (for more detail) the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Montes Alpha Aconcagua Pinot Noir 2017- fiche technique

100% Pinot Noir.

This Pinot Noir is bright ruby red in colour. The nose presents aromas of ripe cherries and raspberries, white pepper and a touch of violets. Medium-bodied, the palate has silky, smooth tannins, fresh and vibrant acidity, and shows well-integrated French oak. The long and perfumed finish is smooth and elegant.

£13.95

Vina Leyda Pinot Noir Lot 21 2015 (1x 75cl)

The 2016 vintage (not yet available in the UK despite the implication in the review!) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Lot 21 2015 - October 2019 Decanter review

Few wineries encapsulate the development of coolclimate winemaking in Chile as well as pioneering Viña Leyda. The first producer to explore this coastal area, a rising star of New World winemaking, it took its name from the local railway station and later lent it to the entire DO of Leyda Valley. If Casablanca Valley represents Chile’s first tentative steps into cool-climate production, Leyda is a series of determined, confident strides: just 14km from the Pacific, the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah planted here express a crispness, minerality and fine-boned structure not found elsewhere in Chile’s viticultural paradise. Viña Leyda now has more than 200 hectares under vine, but the approach remains one of micromanagement, with detailed mapping of each vineyard and individual lot, and constant experimentation with clonal selection and viticultural techniques.

The fruits of those labours are reflected not just in their impeccable Reserva range, but in the exciting series of single vineyard and single plot wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and a trio of top-quality Pinot Noirs.

100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley, where maritime influence and summer breezes create an extraordinary environment for Burgundian varieties like Pinot Noir.

This single-vineyard wine comes from a selected parcel where all labor is performed by hand, vine by vine. Clusters are carefully selected to keep yields extremely low. Less than 1.75 pounds of fruit is produced by each plant. The grapes were hand harvested, by women only, on March 29nd. The first cluster selection was made in the vineyard followed by a second one made in the cellar in sorting tables. The clusters were destemmed followed by a careful berry selection.

60% of the berries were crushed softly and 40% kept as whole berries. The grapes were chilled down to 46-50° F for 6 days for cold maceration. Alcoholic fermentation took place at 75-78° F during 7 days with a punching down/pigeage regime of 3-4 times per day. After dryness, the wine was immediately racked off the skins into french oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aged for 10 months. 10% of the barrels are new.

Lot 21 Pinot Noir is a complex and elegant wine, with delicate aromas of strawberries, red cherries, orange peel and herbs with a subtle earth complexity. The first impression on the palate is of fresh, sweet red berries. The middle palate has nice volume with concentrated cherry flavors and soft ripe tannins that cover the entire tongue. The finish is bright and lingering.

£25.80

Outer Limits By Montes Zapallar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Chilean Pinot Noir (see blue link below).

Outer Limits By Montes Zapallar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes wines are consistently good because they are meticulous throughout the entire production process. The Outer Limits wines were born out of Aurelio Montes' desire to push Chilean viticulture in a new direction. The 45 hectare Zapallar Vineyard in the Aconcagua Valley was Montes' first venture into the 'outer limits'. Due to the balance and concentration in the Outer Limits wines, they can be enjoyed now or allowed to age for a few years, rewarding with a wonderfully complex bouquet.

Grapes come from a single vineyard in Zapallar located seven kilometres from the coast in Aconcagua. Montes is the first producer to plant vines and make wines here. Due to the cool climate, similar to other cool coastal regions in Chile, the wines have racy acidity, minerality, elegance and distinct aromatics. The grapes were all hand harvested at the end of March, later than other areas, due to the cool climate.

The grapes were cold soaked at 10°C for five days to extract aroma and colour, especially important for thin-skinned Pinot Noir. After that, the grapes were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and then kept on their skins to give structure and colour for another 20 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels (20% new) for 10 months.

100% Pinot Noir.

This elegant Pinot Noir has a very aromatic nose, pronounced notes of ripe cherries, blackcurrants, violets and a hint of mild toast from ageing in French oak. A smooth palate with round tannins, alongside a fresh fruit character. Vibrant acidity gives the wine a bright and perfumed finish.

£20.20

Amalaya Blanco de Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - August 2017 Decanter review

Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.

The Torrontes and Riesling grapes were grown on the Finca San Isidoro vineyards. These are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge thermal amplitude of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.

85% Torrontes, 15% Riesling.

The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. The grapes underwent cold maceration for four days, followed by a slow fermentation using selected yeasts, at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. 80% of the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks with 20% aged in French oak for 10 months.

Intense gold in colour, this wine has pronounced aromas of grapefruit and lemon peel. Delicate and silky on the palate with great freshness and crisp acidity on the distinctly mineral finish.

£10.30

Andeluna 1300 Torrontes 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Andeluna 1300 Torrontes 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Founded in 2003, Andeluna produces premium wines of world class recognition. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best subregions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. Situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres, the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Oenologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers to make outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the global spotlight in a very short space of time. Their Pasionado range is only made in exceptional vintages and rivals some of the great wines of the world.

2018 saw an absence of high temperatures, so the grapes ripened slowly and gradually. The dry summer weather and cooler temperatures resulted in grapes of excellent health and good quality at harvest time. The volume harvested was below average of the past decade, but the resulting wines are of excellent quality. The whites are very pure, aromatic, fresh, precise and vibrant.

The grapes were grown in vineyards located in Tupungato, at over 1,300 metres above sea level. The area is characterised by its wide diurnal temperature range, which produces grapes with a great intensity of colour and a distinctive aromatic expression. The vineyards are adequately irrigated through a drip management system, which provides exactly the right amount of water needed by the plant. Canopy management in the vineyard controls yields and produces small, concentrated berries with the perfect amount of sun exposure. The vines are grown in alluvial, sandy soils and are manually harvested once the grapes have reached optimum maturity levels.

After careful manual selection of the clusters, the grapes were destemmed and fermented with selected yeasts at controlled temperatures of 14°C. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks, without any influence from oak or malolactic fermentation, which preserved the freshness and varietal characteristics.

100% Torrontes.

Delightful aromas of white flowers, jasmine, peach, apricot and grapefruit combine with flavours of tropical fruits, citrus and spices to produce a refreshingly exquisite wine with a long finish. An ideal match with Asian and Indian cuisine.

£11.50

Colome Torrontes 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Colomé Torrontes 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2018 edition article on Argentinian whites (see blue link below)

Colomé Torrontes 2017 - July 2018 Decanter review

Bodega Colomé was established in 1831 by the Spanish Governor of Salta, Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi y Echalar. In 1854, his daughter Ascensión, who was married to José Benjamín Dávalos, brought the first French pre-phylloxera Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon vines to Colomé. Grapes from three vineyards (of four hectares each) planted in that year are still used to make wines. Located in the Upper Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina, not only is Colomé the oldest winery in Argentina, but it also claims to own the world's highest vineyard.

The high altitude of the Calchaqui Valley and greater difference between day and night temperatures, ensures a longer growing season which in turn leads to a more intense accumulation of flavour in the grapes. The large difference (25°C) between day and night also aids the retention of natural acidity within the grapes. The climate here is dry with very little rainfall, on average around 120mm per year. Soils are sandy with layers of gravel which aid drainage. The vineyards are all farmed biodynamically.

The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. Fermenation was slow, using selected yeasts at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for three months before bottling in June 2016. It then spent a further two months ageing in bottle before release.

100% Torrontes.

Intense gold in colour with green tones, this wine has a bright floral nose with the citrus aroma of grapefruit and a hint of spice. In the mouth it is fresh and well structured with a crisp finish. Elegant and fruity with tropical notes to the fore.

£11.70

Bodega Garzon Reserva Albarino 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition feature on Uruguay  (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Category (Best Central South American White) at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2016 - 2017 DWWA Decanter review

Bodega Garzón is a family owned winery in Maldonado on the Atlantic coast in southern Uruguay. They pioneered viticulture in this area over 10 years ago, and have since become the standard-bearer for premium wines from Uruguay. In November 2018, their pioneering status was recognised by Wine Enthusiast with the ‘New World Winery of the Year’ award. The vineyards at Bodega Garzón are a patchwork quilt of 1,150 individual plots of around 0.2 hectares in size, each plot carefully chosen for a specific variety according to its soil and microclimate. The winery is specially designed to operate as sustainably as possible, and is the first winery outside North America to pursue LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Built on natural terraces, the winery uses cutting-edge technology and operates using a gravity system to ensure quality and energy efficiency at every stage of production.

Located 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the estate has more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering hillside slopes, which benefit from varying microclimates, different levels of humidity and an intense canopy management. Well-draining granitic soils and cooling Atlantic breezes allow the grapes to ripen steadily. The vineyards are surrounded by lush forests, palm trees, rocky soils and granite boulders. This single vineyard Tannat comes from a site which is cooler than the other blocks on the estate, with steep slopes, thin soils and excellent drainage thanks to the predominance of ballast in the upper layers.

For full details of this unusual but superb wine, we would point you towards Garzon's own, excellent fiche technique/data sheet (click here).

This Albariño displays ripe aromas of white peaches, citrus fruits (eg grapefruit) and featuring floral notes of jasmine. It has a fresh, crisp and fruity mouth feel on the palate with mineral notes, and is rounded off with extremely fresh and balanced acidity, with good structure and a delicious mouth-watering finish.

£15.75

Matias Riccitelli Old Vines Patagonia Semillon 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on South American Old Vines (see blue link below)... and 

Riccitelli Old Vines Patagonia Sémillon 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

... awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in that same edition's panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Riccitelli Old Vines Patagonia Sémillon 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2018 edition article on Argentinian whites (see blue link below)....

Riccitelli Old Vines Sémillon 2016 - July 2018 Decanter review

... and 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition article on South America's Top Ten Winemakers  (see blue link below)

Riccitelli Old Vines Sémillon 2016 - October 2017 Decanter review

Matias Riccitelli is the son of renowned winemaker Jorge Riccitelli. Having worked at some of the most prestigious wineries in Argentina and several vintages around the world, Matias used his experience, knowledge and passion and set up his own winery in 2009. His vineyards cover 50 hectares located in three selected sites within the premium growing region of Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza. This is a young and dynamic project in which Matias is seeking to express the full potential of Argentine terroir.

This Sémillon was sourced from forgotten vines that are over 50 years old. These old vineyards are located in Río Negro in Patagonia, at an altitude of 400 metres above sea level on the 39° latitude south. Sunlight exposure is more intense than northern areas, but at this latitude the nights are much colder. This daily diurnal temperature range is excellent for the production of quality grapes; the nightly cooling-off extends the ripening period, allowing the grapes to develop rich varietal characteristics while retaining balancing acidity.

100% Sémillon.

The grapes were harvested at perfect maturity levels and then underwent a skin maceration of 12 hours at 10°C. Fermentation took place at temperatures of between 14 to16°C. Maturation lasted for eight months with 50% aged in French oak barrels and 50% in small concrete eggs.

It has all the seriousness, subtleness, elegance and nuances that old Sémillon is capable of. This is not explosive or showy, it's a little restrained. A Sémillon that is beautifully textured with great acidity and a long, moreish finish.

£31.95

El Esteco 1945 Old Vines Torrontes 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

El Esteco 1945 Old Vines Torrontes 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Among the Calchaquí Valley’s lush vegetation, rivers and rocky mountains, there emerges, unexpectedly, a stretch of desert. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, with its radiant sunshine and ideal temperature range hot days and cool nights, the environment is perfect for the vine growing. And it is here, in the heart of this unique valley where El Esteco stands with 1,000 acres of vineyards. French immigrants David and Salvador Michel founded the winery in 1892, taking advantage of this special region to produce distinctive and elegant high-end wines, with great concentration of colour, deep aromas and well-defined flavours.

At El Esteco's Las Mercedes estate, there are vines in the Torrontés vineyard over 70 years in age that yield a very delicate wine of subtlety and citrus freshness, with a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. Once the chosen vines have reached their optimum point of maturity, the grapes are collected manually first thing in the morning, in boxes of 18 kg each and quickly transported to the winery to begin vinification.

In the cellar, the grapes go through selection and subsequent pressing. It is a very particular fermentation for Torrontes and this wine: during the first third, the liquid begins to ferment with 15% of whole grape grains. Then, the liquid is separated from the grain and the fermentation of the liquid continues only using indigenous yeasts until the end of the process. The wine is bottled without any previous filtration and remains in tank for the next 6 to 8 months.

100% Torrontes.

A vibrant wine with fresh tropical fruits and delicate aromas of roses and orange peel, lifted by a refreshing acidity. Light yellow with slight greenish and steely notes, slightly veiled by the presence of very fine lees in suspension. On the nose, delicate: subtle and fresh citrus aromas - delicately mineral and floral. On the palate, fresh and young, with great texture - very easy to drink(!) - with an excellent balance of acidity and sweetness.

£13.55

Humberto Canale Old Vine Semillon 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage (not yet UK-available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Humberto Canale Old Vine Sémillon 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Humberto Canale was a pioneering engineer who played a significant role in developing agriculture in Patagonia; he founded and built the winery in 1909 in the heart of the Rio Negro province. Four generations later, Guillermo Barzi Canale has succesfully managed the Humberto Canale winery through its 100th vintage and developed the established vineyards and winery practices to fit the requirements of a new millenium. With a cooler climate than Mendoza, Patagonia lends itself well to aromatic wines with excellent, naturally balancing acidity. Pinot Noir and Merlot flourish here, and their Sauvignon Blanc is unparalleled within Argentina.

The grapes for this Sémillon are harvested in early March; they are carefully harvested by hand, immediately sent to the bodega, just 1 km from the vineyard, in small containers. The grapes arrive at the point of optimum health and ripeness; they are stemmed before the liquid phase of the solids is separated by pressing. The liquid obtained is transferred to vessels (20% of which are new oak) of 9,000 litres' capacity where fermentation occurs at 15-16 deg C for some 15 days. Once the alcoholic fermentation has finished, the wine is racked to other inert vessels (no wood - the only oak use is in fermentation) where the clarification and stabilization processes are started to be bottled.

100% Sémillon.

Yellow/gold in color with greenish reflections, typical of young Semillon. Intense aromas of white fruits and fresh herbs; it has a characteristic Sémillon nose - slightly waxy, with hints of honey and chamomile, all surrounded in gentle coconut milk and vanilla. In the mouth, it feels unctuous, soft and harmonious.  Balanced acidity and sugar (2.5 g/litre). Great varietal tipicity, elegant and complex. Ideally paired with steamed or grilled fish, salads and seafood.

£14.70

Kaiken Terroir Series Salta Torrontes 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Kaiken Terroir Series Salta Torrontés 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Kaikenes are wild geese, native to Patagonia, that fly across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. In the same way, Montes, the Chilean winery, crossed the Andes to set up in Mendoza. Their vineyards are situated in the heart of Mendoza and further to the south in Valle de Uco, where many of the premium producers are now sourcing their fruit. The focus is primarily on Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that has been somewhat forgotten as Malbec has surfed one wave of success after another in the past decade. As a result, there are many old vineyards in Mendoza that produce excellent fruit. Kaiken's own vineyards supply 70% of their production requirements and 30% is from vineyards that they control.

The grapes are sourced from the prestigious Cafayate Valley of Salta. Here, cooler nights enable the grapes to retain their acidity and fine flavours. The vines are situated at an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level and have an average age of 80 years. Soils are rocky and sandy. These conditions enable the winemakers to achieve lower yields and more balanced grapes.

The temperatures recorded during the winter were lower than average, with heavy snow in July. The lower temperatures continued into September and October, which slowed down bud break. 2018 was the driest of the last four vintages. Temperatures increased, well above average, from February to April. The increase in the temperature increased the sugar levels and polyphenolic maturity, resulting in high concentration of aromas and flavours in the grapes.

Grapes were all hand harvested into small, 20kg bins and manually sorted before entering the winery. 15% of the grapes underwent pre-fermentation maceration for four hours at 8°C to extract the varietal aromatics of the Torrontés. Alcoholic fermentation followed in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for 20 days at cool temperatures between 12-16°C to retain primary fruit aromas. No oak was used at any point.

100% Torrontés.

This Torrontés has a brilliant lemon-green colour with golden tones. The instensely aromatic nose is full of fresh peaches and orange peel, accompanied by the floral notes that are very characteristic of this variety. The fruity notes reappear on the fresh palate with balanced acidity. This is a fresh wine with a long finish.

£10.75

Colome Autentico Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article by Andrew Jefford: Top 25 Premium Argentinian Malbecs (see blue link below).

Colomé Autentico Malbec 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Extreme Viticulture in South America (see blue link below).

Colomé Autentico Malbec 2015 - October 2017 Decanter review

Bodega Colomé was established in 1831 by the Spanish Governor of Salta, Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi y Echalar. In 1854, his daughter Ascensión brought the first French pre-phylloxera Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon vines to Colomé. Grapes from three vineyards (of four hectares each) planted in that year are still used to make wines. Located in the Upper Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina, not only is Colomé the oldest winery in Argentina, but it also claims to own the world's highest vineyard.

The altitude of the Upper Calchaquí Valley has a positive impact on the quality of the grapes. The higher the altitude, the more exposed the grapes are to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which causes them to develop thicker and darker skins to protect themselves from sunburn. The fruit for this wine comes predominantly from San José, one of the oldest vineyards in Colomé, originally planted around 90 years ago. Soils are sandy with layers of gravel which helps drainage.

Overall, the Calchaquí Valley enjoyed optimal conditions in 2017. The weather during the growing season was excellent, with no spring frost, allowing good fruit set and resulting in healthy grapes.

The grapes were triple sorted, once in the vineyard, once for imperfections on the sorting table at the winery and then once more for green material in the must before entering the fermentation tanks. Produced using traditional techniques without the use of commercial yeasts and with regular punching down of the cap. Post fermentation the wine aged in tanks for 10 months before being bottled and undergoing a further 10 months bottle ageing prior to release.

100% Malbec.

This Malbec has an intense inky colour with violet hues. Aromas of black fruit, cherries, white mulberry and figs combine with hints of spice and minerality. On the palate, this wine is robust and concentrated, with crisp acidity and ripe finely-grained tannins that provide structure and balance.

£27.20

Kaiken Mai Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article by Andrew Jefford: Top 25 Premium Argentinian Malbecs (see blue link below).

Kaiken Mai Malbec 2016 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2012 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Kaiken Mai 2012 - October 2016 Decanter review

Kaikenes are wild geese, native to Patagonia, that fly across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Montes, the Chilean winery, crossed the Andes in the same way to set up in Mendoza. Their vineyards are situated in the heart of Mendoza and further to the south in Valle de Uco, where many of the premium producers are now sourcing their fruit. The focus is primarily on Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that has been somewhat forgotten as Malbec has surfed one wave of success after another in the past decade. Kaiken's own vineyards supply 70% of their production requirements and 30% is from vineyards that they control.

The grapes used to make Mai are sourced from vineyards located in Vistalba (Mendoza) where the soil consists of an 80-cm top layer of alluvial sandy-loam containing riverbed pebbles. Vistalba has some of the oldest vineyards in the area and is regarded as one of the best sites in Argentina to make premium wines. The vineyard is more than 100 years old and has naturally low yields marked by extraordinary concentration. The vineyard is managed using traditional methods, the same as when it was first planted, and also applies the principles of biodynamic farming.

The 2014 harvest followed an ordinary spring with normal rainfall and regular temperatures. Early-summer temperatures were very high, with heavy rainfall. March and April were marked by high humidity, low temperatures, and many cloudy days. For the black varieties, these conditions yielded spicy and floral aromas.

Grapes were hand-picked into 15kg trays to preserve the quality of the berries throughout the process. The must was fermented in small tanks over a period of 7 days at controlled temperatures of 25-30ºC. This was followed by post-fermentation maceration, which lasted approximately 20 days depending on each specific batch. All the wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months prior to bottling.

100% Malbec.

This wine is deep red in colour, with purple hints. On the nose, it displays fruity aromas of plums and cherries combined with spicy notes of tobacco and cinnamon. An elegant and complex wine, with soft tannins and a long lingering finish.

£38.45

Terroir Series Finca Coletto,Trapiche 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article by Andrew Jefford: Top 25 Premium Argentinian Malbecs (see blue link below).

Terroir Series Finca Coletto, Trapiche 2014 - October 2019 Decanter review

The history of Trapiche begins in 1883, in a small vineyard called El Trapiche, in the district of Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, where the grapes for the first of their fine wines were grown. With more than 130 years of experience, Trapiche has certainly earned its place as a pioneering brand in the introduction of French vines, the production of varietal wines, the import of French oak barrels and the use of stainless steel tanks. True to its origins, today Trapiche continues to seek out and use the latest and best practices available. Led by Daniel Pi, Director of Winemaking, Trapiche's winemaking team permanently strives to improve winemaking practices by exchanging experience and knowledge with winemakers from other wine producing countries such as France, the US, Australia and New Zealand. 

Hand harvesting is carried out and the grapes for this wine are transported back to the winery in 20 kg plastic cases. There is meticulous bunch selection before the grapes are destemmed. Only the best grapes are selected for inclusion. Fermentation takes place using only wild yeasts and maceration occurs in small concrete vats over 25 days, at 23-25ºC. Natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur. The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels.

100% Malbec.

Aromas of black cherries and forest berries such as blackberries and blueberries. This wine is full bodied with juicy black fruits, soft tannins and an elegant finish. This is a Malbec with a deep and intense red-violet colour. The aromas are of red fruits, plums, black cherries and forest berries such as blackberries and blueberries. It is fresh and full as it enters the mouth, with sweet, juicy, ample tannins and a very elegant finish.

£27.25

Dona Paula Seleccion De Bodega Malbec 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article by Andrew Jefford: Top 25 Premium Argentinian Malbecs (see blue link below).

Doña Paula Seleccion De Bodega Malbec 2015 - October 2019 Decanter review

Silver, IWC, 2018

95 pts, Tim Atkin, 2018

92+ Pts, Tim Atkin, 2019

Silver, SWA, 2019

Doña Paula is a leading, modern winery at the forefront of exploring and investing in new, high quality wine regions in Argentina. Established in 1997, they own all of their vineyards covering 700 hectares. These vineyard sites are located in the best subregions within Mendoza including Ugarteche, Altamira, Gualtallary and Tupungato. The vineyards have always been cultivated using sustainable methods which helps to maximise the true expression of terroir, and in 2019 Doña Paula was certified as a sustainably managed winery by Bodegas de Argentina. Continuous innovation in vineyard management ensures Doña Paula produces top quality wines from one year to the next.

Selección de Bodega Malbec comes from Alluvia vineyard, located in Gualtallary, Uco Valley, at 1,350 meters above the sea level. This head-pruned vineyard is set on the streambed, its soil contains medium-size alluvial rocks covered with calcium carbonate patinas and intermingled with sand and chalk enamel. It is one of the poorest soils with regards to nutrients, its organic matter is almost zero and it has a great drainage capacity. The weather is cool during the days and cold during the nights. The vineyards have always been cultivated using sustainable agricultural practices.

The grapes underwent a cold maceration prior to the alcoholic fermentation, in order to preserve the primary fruit aromas. A wild fermentation took place with native yeasts at low temperatures. The wine was then aged new French barriques of which 50% were new, for 16 months.

Malbec 100%.

Big but balanced flavours of spicy blackberries, dark chocolate and wild herbs with an opulent and mouthfilling texture, elegant, rich and long. A sumptuous and opulent wine showing rich, black fruit flavours, accompanied by fresh raspberries and mineral notes reminiscent of chalk and graphite. Great structure on the textured palate with balancing freshness through to an elegant finish. 

£36.00

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Muscat 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on South American Old Vines (see blue link below).

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Muscat 2016 - October 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 96 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition article on South America's Top Ten Winemakers  (see blue link below).

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Muscat 2016 - October 2017 Decanter review

Previous vintages have also seen outstanding reviews, these being awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in all of their 

a) October 2016 edition review of Itata (Chile) (2014 vintage)

b) January 2017 edition review of their Most Exciting Wines of 2016 (2015 vintage) and

c) April 2017 edition review of Chile (2015 vintage) (see blue links below).

De Martino Muscat Viejas Tinajas 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review 

De Martino Muscat Viejas Tinajas 2015 - January 2017 Decanter review

De Martino Muscat Viejas Tinajas 2015 - April 2017 Decanter review

Viejas Tinajas comes from the coastal vineyards of the Itata Valley located in the southern region of Chile; it is the cradle of the country's viticulture, with vines dating back to 1551. The area is characterized by a coastal climate, with high levels of rainfall, rolling hills and granite soils. A sustainable agriculture, including dry farming and ploughing with horses are practiced in the vineyards. This wine is fermented and aged in centennial earthenware jars (tinajas or amphorae), thereby rescuing the tradition of the first Chilean vine growers.

A remarkable ochre hue in the glass gives way to vibrant grapey aromas, floral notes and hints of honey. There is an impressive weight and on the palate, where the tantalising Muscat character comes through, followed by a touch of earthiness on the finish. So expressive and inviting with a nice tannin structure. This has real potential as an alternative aperitif or as an accompaniment for cheese.

Note: this wine is unusual as the above winemaking notes/reviews reveal. It is a) cloudy and b) does have unusual/esoteric yeasty flavours of fermentation (sherry/cider/beer-like). This is an intended effect. 

£15.35

Leonardo Erazo A Los Vinateros Bravos (Pipeno) Blanco 2018 (1x100cl)

** NB: ONE LITRE BOTTLE! (wacky!) **

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on South American Old Vines (see blue link below) 

Leonardo Erazo A Los Vinateros Bravos - October 2019 Decanter review

Leonardo Erazo created A Los Vinateros Bravos in the heart of the Itata valley, in the south of Chile. The vines there thrive in the steep, hilly landsape and without irrigation. Bush vines are very old in this region and it is not uncommon to encounter 100-year-old vines. The volcanic and granitic soils provide a superb substrate for root growth, resulting in very healthy vines and vineyards. Leonardo does not interfere with the terroir in order to bring the maximum sense of place to his bottles. 

Winemaking is simple, using only native yeasts and cement tanks for fermentation and aging. These are highly authentic wines, full of life, vibrancy, tension and freshness and entirely artisinal from start to finish. The wie is only very lighlt filtered.

~60% Moscatel/Muscat (d'Alexandria), ~40% Semillon.

A richly scented, wild, persistent and fresh wine - with definite minerality, acidity and salinity - with finely integrated tannins which frame a palate that is richly layered and remarkably easy drinking.

£16.00

Garage Wine Co Old Vine Pale Lot # 83 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on South American Old Vines (see blue link below) 

Garage Wine Co Old Vine Pale Lot # 83 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

Garage Wine Co. are the champions of traditional, local growers. Canadian ex-ski coach, Derek Mossmann Knapp, is the enfant terrible of the Chilean wine scene. He set up Garage Wine Co with his wife Pilar Miranda and Dr Alvaro Pena in 2001 with the intention of being the polar opposite to the big, established companies that dominate the Chilean market. 

Derek sources his grapes from a variety of local growers, and the resulting wines are as diverse as the people who grew them. Each parcel of grapes is vinified separately, producing tiny quantities of wine. And you can taste this diversity in each separate bottle. To distinguish the wines, they are each labelled with an individual 'Lot' number determined by its parcel and vintage. These concentrated, juicy, complex and elegant wines are a real testament to modern Chilean winemaking. And not only do they taste incredible but they do good, supporting local communities and reviving a local industry of grape growing that would otherwise have been lost to large cooperatives.

Ancestral farming by hand and horse. Naturally fermented with native yeasts. Fermented without skins in two parts: part of the blend pressed out like a white and part made as a red without skins. Aged in barrels over one winter— barrels are third use or more. No temp control (besides opening and closing windows!).

~90% Carignan, ~10% Mataro/Mourvedre.

This wine is a surprising New World rosé: complex, with a fantastic natural acidity and length, with a rounded mid-palate. Let it linger to discover pastis and licorice notes among a host of uncommon berries in its flavour profile.

£17.40

Miolo Brut Millesime 2012 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on Brazil (see blue link below).

Miolo Brut Millésime 2012 - October 2019 Decanter review

The Miolo estate was founded in 1897, after Italian immigrant Giuseppe Miolo arrived in Brazil with a passion for grapes and vines. He bought a piece of land called Lote 43 and started to plant grapes, bringing the tradition of Italian winemaking to Brazil. Today, the business is still lead by the Miolo family and one of the estate’s most elegant wines is named after this first parcel.

After almost a century of growing grapes, the company started to make its own wine in 1990. Nowadays, Miolo produces 15 million litres of wine per year – red, white and sparkling – with grapes grown on 1200 hectares of vineyards. The aim of the winery is to create a range of sparkling, red and white wines that have Old World character, but also with their own Brazilian twist. It has become Brazil’s number one producer; exporting more wine than any other Brazilian winery.

The winery is located in the Vale dos Vinhedos region, situated between the cities of Bento Goncalves, Garibaldi and Monte Belo. Translated as ‘the valley of vineyards’, the Vale dos Vinhedos is the only region in the country with a certification of geographical indication. However, Miolo have vineyards all over the country – all the way down to Campanha, by the Uruguayan border.

The winery produces a wide range of styles and varietals, from entry-level to super premium. But the stand-out range is the traditional method sparkling wines – offering high-quality bubbles with great value-for-money.

Miolo Millésime honors its origins and shows its elegance in every glass served. Bearing the Vale dos Vinhedos Denomination of Origin seal, it is produced by the traditional method only in exceptional vintage years. Chardonnay grapes exclusively from the Miolo family’s vineyards in São Gabriel in the Vale dos Vinhedos are used in this process.

100% Chardonnay (it's technically a Blanc de Blancs).

A limpid sparkling wine, light yellow color with greenish shades, with a fine, abundant and persistent perlage that expresses its high quality. Fine aromas of citrus fruits, pear, pineapple and honey mixed with typical aging smells, such as toasted bread. A complex, creamy sparkling wine. Elegant, with a balanced acidity and a pleasant and long aftertaste.

£20.65

Miolo Lote 43 2012 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition article on Brazil (see blue link below).

Miolo Lote 43 2012 - October 2019 Decanter review

The Miolo estate was founded in 1897, after Italian immigrant Giuseppe Miolo arrived in Brazil with a passion for grapes and vines. He bought a piece of land called Lote 43 and started to plant grapes, bringing the tradition of Italian winemaking to Brazil. Today, the business is still lead by the Miolo family and one of the estate’s most elegant wines is named after this first parcel.

After almost a century of growing grapes, the company started to make its own wine in 1990. Nowadays, Miolo produces 15 million litres of wine per year – red, white and sparkling – with grapes grown on 1200 hectares of vineyards. The aim of the winery is to create a range of sparkling, red and white wines that have Old World character, but also with their own Brazilian twist. It has become Brazil’s number one producer; exporting more wine than any other Brazilian winery.

The winery is located in the Vale dos Vinhedos region, situated between the cities of Bento Goncalves, Garibaldi and Monte Belo. Translated as ‘the valley of vineyards’, the Vale dos Vinhedos is the only region in the country with a certification of geographical indication. However, Miolo have vineyards all over the country – all the way down to Campanha, by the Uruguayan border.

It is impossible to talk about Miolo without mentioning Miolo Lote 43. Produced with the best vintages only, this signature red wine reflects the story of the Miolo family. Upon arrival in Brazil in 1897, patriarch Giuseppe Miolo purchased his land lot, known as Lote 43, in Vale dos Vinhedos, where Miolo Winery is located today. Not only does this wine pay honors to the family patriarch, it also expresses the most distinctive characteristics of the region.

The grapes were hand picked in boxes of 20 kilos from Lote 43. The grapes were selected by hand on a selection table. The alcoholic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at a temperature from 28 to 30 º C for approximately 15 days, the pomace being mixed with the wine by pumping over. After the fermentation, the tanks were closed and the wine was left 15 to 20 days in contact with the skin. Malolactic fermentation occurred spontaneously and immediately. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines were aged separately, 50% in new barrels of American oak and 50% in French oak barrels for a period of approximately 12 months. The wine was bottled without filtration, to ensure greater aromatic intensity. After bottling the wine was stowed in the cellars of Miolo to rest.

50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot.

Aromas include liquorice, tar, dark chocolate, mocha and spice. Good fruit concentration; firm tannins and a savoury note. A full-bodied, modern style.

£21.55

Altos de Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Uruguayan Tannat (see blue link below).

Altos De Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

Altos de Jose Ignacio is nestled in Uruguay’s Maldonado region, an oasis of magical beaches and small villages on the Atlantic coast. Next to the idyllic fishing town of Jose Ignacio, the vines are tempered by cooling ocean breezes, creating the perfect combination of countryside and ocean. This unique terroir and maritime climate is ideal for making premium wines with a rare freshness and purity.

A small, family-run business, Altos de Jose Ignacio had its first commercial harvest in 2015. In typical Uruguayan fashion, the wines are created without the addition of any chemicals. The characteristics of the terroir display beautifully throughout their range, a source of endless pride for winemaker German Bruzzone.  

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

Altos de Jose Ignacio Reserva Tannat 2017 - fiche technique

(as can be seen from the data sheet, this wine is 'incredibly similar to' the more expensive Garzon Reserva Tannat...)

This wine is 100% Tannat.

A juicy, full-bodied wine. Rich purple in colour with very fresh aromas reminiscent of red and black fruits such as plums and raspberries, with a delicate spicy nose. In the mouth, it presents a strong personality. Its mature tannins and minerality transform it into a wine with great soil identity.

£14.70

Bodega Garzon Single Vineyard Tannat 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Uruguayan Tannat (see blue link below).

Bodega Garzon Single Vineyard Tannat 2017 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition article on the Maldonado region of Uruguay (see blue link below).

Bodega Garzón Single Vineyard Tannat 2016 - October 2019 Decanter review

Bodega Garzón is a family owned winery in Maldonado on the Atlantic coast in southern Uruguay. They pioneered viticulture in this area over 10 years ago, and have since become the standard-bearer for premium wines from Uruguay. In November 2018, their pioneering status was recognised by Wine Enthusiast with the ‘New World Winery of the Year’ award. The vineyards at Bodega Garzón are a patchwork quilt of 1,150 individual plots of around 0.2 hectares in size, each plot carefully chosen for a specific variety according to its soil and microclimate. The winery is specially designed to operate as sustainably as possible, and is the first winery outside North America to pursue LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Built on natural terraces, the winery uses cutting-edge technology and operates using a gravity system to ensure quality and energy efficiency at every stage of production.

Located 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the estate has more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering hillside slopes, which benefit from varying microclimates, different levels of humidity and an intense canopy management. Well-draining granitic soils and cooling Atlantic breezes allow the grapes to ripen steadily. The vineyards are surrounded by lush forests, palm trees, rocky soils and granite boulders. This single vineyard Tannat comes from a site which is cooler than the other blocks on the estate, with steep slopes, thin soils and excellent drainage thanks to the predominance of ballast in the upper layers.

Average seasonal temperatures meant bud burst and fruit set occurred between September and December. However, strong spring winds meant work had to be undertaken in the vineyard to tie the shoots to their trellises to prevent damage. The hard work continued as rains between December and January threatened the vines and careful canopy management became necessary. Summer was dry and hot, and drip irrigation was necessary. The leaves were left untrimmed to serve as sun protection for the grapes. Late rains at the end of March brought forward the end of harvest. The wines from 2017 are characterised by elegant acidity and freshness.

The hand-harvested grapes were macerated for five days before fermentation in 80 hectolitre cement tanks, at 26-28ºC for one week with twice daily pump overs. The wine was then aged on lees for 12-18 months in 25 hectolitre French oak casks for added complexity. The oak used was untoasted and fourth use.

This wine is 100% Tannat.

Deep purple in colour, this powerful Tannat has an elegant nose with aromas of cherries, strawberries and black plums with hints of smoky tobacco and dark chocolate. Full bodied, with fresh acidity and firm tannins complementing the spicy black fruit on a long, intense finish.

£25.20

Quinta Do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017(1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their July 2019 panel tasting of Douro value reds (see blue link below).

Quinta Do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017 - July 2019 Decanter review

Quinta do Vallado, established in 1716, is one of the oldest and most famous "Quintas" in the Douro Valley. It once belonged to the legendary Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, and still belongs to her descendents. It lies on both banks of the Corgo River, a tributary of the Douro river, near its mouth, close to the town of Peso da Régua.

Quinta do Vallado´s 70 ha of vineyards are for the most planted in south and west facing slopes of slate soil, excellent for an optimum ripening of the grapes, taking advantage of the Mediterranean climate. Two thirds of the vineyards are planted in terraces with a single row of vines, pruned according to the double cordon system.

To see an excellent information and tasting note which has been produced by the team at Quinta do Vallado, please click on the blue link below.

Quinta do Vallado Douro Tinto 2017 - fiche technique

£13.70
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