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Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Douro Branco 2017 (1x 75cl)

The earlier 2015 vintage was awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2017 edition review of Douro Table Wines (see blue link below).  It is subjective, of course, but we judge the 2017 to be of at least a very similar quality.

Casa Ferreirinha, Planalto Branco 2015 - June 2017 Decanter review

This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. It has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luis Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.

This white blend comes from relatively high-altitude vineyards above the river Douro. The grapes were harvested by hand in the highlands and plateaus of the region and were selected for their balance between phenolic maturity and excellent freshness. The soil in the Douro Valley is schistous; a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties.

2017 was a very warm and dry year for the Douro with almost every month from December 2016 to August 2017 recording below average rainfall. Average temperatures were much higher than normal, especially in the crucial spring months of March, April, and May. This meant that the vine’s growing cycle was much more advanced than usual, often being one or two weeks ahead of the expected schedule. The advanced maturation of the vines and grapes coupled with heatwaves in June and July meant that the 2017 harvest was destined to be one of the earliest ever recorded. Harvest began in the last week of August and finished in most areas by the end of September, a time when most harvests usually begin.

On arrival at the winery of Casa Ferreirinha in Vila Real, the grapes were destemmed and softly crushed. They were pressed and the must clarified by static decanting at low temperatures. This was followed by a long alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures between 16ºC-18ºC. After fermentation, around 20% of the wine was aged in used casks for three months, the remainder held in stainless steel tanks.

This wine is made using Viosinho 25%, Malvasia 20%, Fina Arinto/Pedernã 15%, Códega 15%, Gouveio (Verdelho) 15%, Moscatel 5%, Rabigato 5%.

This wine is lemon yellow in colour with golden lights. On the nose, intense floral notes stand out with hints of tropical fruit and earthy, slightly shrubby tones. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with a lively and well-integrated acidity, alongside floral notes and touches of white peaches. The finish is long and fragrant.

£9.10

De Gras Carmenere Reserva 2017 (1x 75cl)

See blue link below for the excellent, most recent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

De Gras Carmenere Reserva 2017 - fiche technique

The 2016 vintage of this wine was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Chilean Carmenère (see blue link below).

MontGras Reserva Carmenere 2016 - October 2017 Decanter review

The wine is 85% Carmenere, 15% Merlot and hails from the Colchagua Valley, the heartland of Carmenère. Grapes are hand harvested, and the wine was oaked in a measured way (75% oaked, 25% unoaked; for the oaked portion: 80% French oak, 20% American oak; 25% of oak was new; oaking lasted 5 months) to impart complexity without loss of the distinctive Carmenère flavours and fruit.

Deep purple / red in colour with a full bouquet of spice, oak and black fruit and a firm but juicy palate. Offers plum, damson and curranty characters alongside well-integrated toasty oak and layers of vanilla. Excellent, very affordable example of Carmenère.

£9.20

Pieropan Soave half bottle 2017 (1x 37.5cl)

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

Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Pieropan's estate covers 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.

The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines are south facing. The fruit comes from hillside vineyards (100 - 300 metres above sea level) in the heart of the Soave Classico area. The grapes are grown organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

The 2017 vintage was characterised by a cold winter with abundant rainfall. At the end of April, there was a period of frost. For this reason, blossom only began to appear towards the end of May, with an earlier start on the lower slopes. Sunny weather followed, but frost and drought meant this was a relatively challenging vintage in terms of quantity. Nevertheless, the grapes were healthy and of good quality.

The Trebbiano di Soave grapes were hand picked from mid-September, while the Garganega grapes were picked later in October. The grapes were destemmed and crushed, with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remained on its fine lees for a period of time, which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest, the wine was bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.

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

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

£8.10

Torres Vina Esmeralda 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Spanish Value Wines (under £20); (see blue link below).

Torres Viña Esmeralda 2016 - March 2018 Decanter review

In the mountainous area of the Upper Penedès the more delicate and aromatic white grape varieties are grown. Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer form the basis for Viña Esmeralda, an exceptionally delicate and strikingly fragrant wine.

Torres say: "We're particularly proud of our white wines. The production of these types of pure, clean and seductive wines, as we see them today, was quite difficult for our ancestors. However, we now know the secret and have the resources to maintain the fruit properties and transform them into unique, refreshing and elegant wines with a little help from the climate, the land, our well-cared for grapevines and experience."

"The Mediterranean breeze blends with the scent of roses, which grow around our vineyards further inland, to bring us our most cherished gem: Viña Esmeralda."

This wine was fermented at controlled temperatures of 16°C in stainless steel vats for two weeks to preserve its freshness.

Brilliant pale straw yellow. Fragrant, with floral orange blossom, delicate nuances of exotic fruit and a note of apple jam. It is smooth and exquisitely luscious on the palate, leaving a subtle honeyed trace.

This wine is sublime with seafood appetizers, fish and pâté. It is also well worth trying with Asian food.

£9.70

Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc  (see blue link below).

Vina Echeverria Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Viña Echeverria is a family-run estate winery, owned and managed by the Echeverria family. Established in 1930, but with an agricultural heritage going back to the 1700s, Viña Echeverria is as much today, as always, driven by a shared passion for winemaking and an uncompromising search for excellence. Viña Echeverria 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 vineyards are located in the coastal Leyda Valley. It is situated between the towering Andes Mountains and the cool Pacific Ocean. Intense sunshine is tempered by cooling sea breezes allowing the grapes to achieve outstanding fruit aromas and exceptional colour concentration. The warm dry days and cold nights encourage a long growing season, which is ideally suited to produce healthy vines and grapes. Working with a model of micro viticulture, each plot, of no more than half a hectare, is identified according to its terroir and microclimate and planted accordingly. The rows are planted in an east-westerly direction, to maximise the sun's exposure. Grapes are subjected to specific pruning, irrigation, canopy management and harvesting, which results in grapes of optimum quality and flavour. The soils are alluvial in origin, mostly clay loam and deep with good drainage. Manual harvest.

The grapes were carefully selected before being crushed, destemmed and chilled to 8°C. Cold skin contact maceration took place for two to four hours at controlled temperatures of between 8° to 10°C, to extract colour, flavours and aromas, resulting in a more complex wine. The grapes were gently pressed by pneumatic press; only the free run juice was vinified. The must was clarified by static sedimentation at 8°C for 24 to 36 hours, prior to vinification. It was fermented with selected yeast in stainless steel tanks at temperatures of between 11° to 15°C for 25 days, before being stored on its fine lees for two months. The wine was made in an unoaked style to showcase the purity of fruit.

This vibrant Sauvignon Blanc combines aromas of fresh herbs, asparagus, and green apples with attractive hints of green pepper. The palate is fresh and crisp, with a racy acidity and a fruity finish. It goes well with shellfish and fish dishes, especially sashimi and sushi; Thai fishcakes or goat's cheese.

£9.90
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