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Akarua Brut NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition Weekday Wines feature (see blue link below).

Akarua Brut NV - March 2019 Decanter review

The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north-facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50-hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been convinced of the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.

All the grapes are harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare estate on Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soils are fine and sandy with loam topsoil overlaying schist. Vine age is 12 years.

67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from several blocks on the vineyard were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. All batches were kept separate. Juices were settled and racked to yeast fermentation in old oak barriques and stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was complete, the base wines, together with up to 15% of reserve wines were blended to produce the Akarua Brut NV. The blend was transferred to bottle with yeast and a precise amount of sugar to undergo the secondary sparkling fermentation. The wine was then aged for a minimum of 18 months on yeast before riddling, disgorging and labelling.

Akarua Brut NV is a fresh aperitif style with floral perfumes and savoury bread dough aromas. With lovely balance and complexity, the palate is clean, has a creamy middle and a long, crisp finish.

£22.45

Alfredo Maestro Tejero El Marciano 2017 (1x 75cl)

The 2016 vintage of this wine (now very hard to find - we can't) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition article on Discovery/New Wave Spain (see blue link below).

Alfredo Maestro Tejero El Marciano 2016 - March 2019 Decanter review

Alfredo Maestro Tejero’s vineyards are located within the Ribera del Duero D.O., but Alfredo has decided not to participate in the D.O., so his wines are classed as Vino de la Tierra de Castillo y León. They are completely natural wines, with no sulphur added in the vineyard or the winery. All vineyard treatments are natural and biodynamic practices are followed.

The isolated Gredos mountain range which lies 70 kilometres west of Madrid is home to a mosaic of tiny old-vine vineyards planted mainly to Grenache. El Marciano comes from one such 70-year-old granitic site lying at a staggering 1,150 metres elevation. The grapes are mainly destemmed, 20% whole bunches were retained and fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel vat of 2000 litres with daily stirrings. The wine undergoes no filtration or fining and has no added sulphur.

This gorgeous wine typifies Alfredo’s delicate touch and respect for his land. It is juicy and flavoursome, laden with spicy blackberry aromas as well as raspberry, liquorice and a fresh earth scented palate. The texture is rock-sculpted (the granite bedrock of the site lies just a few inched below the surface) and the acidity is thrillingly bright, drawing all corners together.

The label is a representation of the remote and barren granite-ridden landscape that make up this wine’s terroir. It depicts Alfredo directing two martian vineyard workers who are clearly not comfortable in their endeavours. El Marciano translates from Spanish as The Martian. 

£15.20

Alpha Zeta 'A' Amarone 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition review of Amarones (see blue link below)

Alpha Zeta 2013  - May 2017 Decanter review

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

The vineyards are situated in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley. Cool currents blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which helps to moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is a mixture of clay and limestone with good drainage. The vineyards are south-facing and therefore warmer than other parts of Valpolicella.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards, characterised by abundant rain, was followed by a hot and dry period. This allowed for perfect health and organoleptic qualities in the grapes, making this 2015 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

Selected grapes were picked in mid September and left to dry in specially ventilated rooms until the end of January. During this time the grapes lost about 40% of their natural weight. The grapes were destemmed and crushed at the end of January. Fermentation temperature was between 18°-22°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 20 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large 'botti' and French oak barriques) for 18 months before bottling.

This Amarone is deep and intense on the nose with aromas of dried cherries and blueberries and notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.

£24.40

Altos Las Hormigas Valle De Uco Malbec Reserva 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation within Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

The Malbec is hand-picked from 100% calcareous soil of the Uco Valley, limestone over alluvial deposits of the Tunuyan River in Altamira, the alluvial terrace of Arroyo Grande in Vista Flores, and the alluvial with calcareous highlands of Gualtallary.

The 2014-2015 harvest presented mean temperatures well below historic averages. Only in March did temperatures approach mean or close-to-mean values. Red varieties were marked by slow ripening until late March, especially with regards to berry sugar content. Then, halfway through April, ripening suddenly accelerated. This prolonged ripening period yielded very expressive wines.

Grapes were harvested by hand and carefully sorted. The wine spent three weeks on its skins. During fermentation, gentle pigeage was undertaken in order to avoid over extraction. The juice was fermented using indigenous yeasts. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted Foudres for 22 months, and 12 months in bottle.

This wine is deep ruby red in colour, with violet hues. On the nose, it is complex, expressive and aromatic with notes of plum, raspberries, chocolate and a touch of leather. This wine offers a strong, well-structured palate and a long, elegant finish.

£23.75

Ancilla Lugana, Lugana 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article Weekday Wines (see blue link below)

Ancilla Lugana, Lugana 2016 - April 2019 Decanter review

Ancilla Lugana is located on the shores of Lake Garda in North East Italy. The estate comprises two vineyards: La Ghidina, located in Lugana di Sirmoine, the heart of the production area of some of the most elegant whites in Italy; and Cadellora, situated in Villafranca di Verona. Run by Luisella Benedetti, the third generation of women to run this estate, who inherited the farm from her mother, who inherited in turn from her mother, named Ancilla. Ancilla was an extraordinary, energetic woman, who worked the fields and got up at 3am every day make her wine producing dream come true. Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, Luisella gave up her career in finance and took over the family business in the early 2000s. The lifelong commitment of her grandmother and mother is a passion now shared by Luisella, which is clear to see in this exciting and pure collection of Lugana wines.

The grape variety Turbiana is also known as the Trebbiano di Lugana, but not to be confused with the Trebbiano found elsewhere in Italy. Research indicates that it is more likely to have a genetic similarity to Verdicchio and is one of the few native grapes capable of ageing. The 15 year old vines are grown in vineyards in the Ghidina zone of Lugana. Trained on a vertical trellising system, the vines yield seven tonnes per hectare. The unique terroir here is made up of lime, clay and limestone soils.

100% Turbiana.

A proportion of the grapes were destemmed and pressed after some contact with the skins, while the remaining grapes were pressed as whole bunches. Fermentation took place slowly at low temperatures in stainless steel vats, in order to preserve the aromatics of the Turbiana variety. 10% of the must was fermented in oak barriques, with ageing on the lees for 15 months, adding complexity to the final blend. The wine was bottle aged for seven months prior to release.

A delicately floral bouquet with ripe yellow fruits leads to a rich and balanced palate of exotic fresh fruits. Well structured with a vibrant depth of flavour, this is an easy drinking style. A complex and creamy palate with spice, pineapple and green apple flavours and finishing on a long, tingling note.

A great aperitivo which also accompanies antipasti, fresh seafood dishes and pasta with seafood sauces.

£21.30

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Value Malbec (see blue link below). 

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Founded in 2003, Andeluna is a small boutique winery specialising in premium Bordeaux varietals 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.

The result of the El Niño phenomenon in 2016 was relatively high humidity and frequent rains. Fortunately the rocky soils in the vineyard at Gualtallary facilitate drainage of the rainwater and keeps moisture to a minimum, reducing the threat of disease. Vine maturation was delayed by approximately 25 days, due to lower temperatures during the summer, however the lack of rain in March, enabled the grapes to reach good physiological ripeness and harvest took place as usual. Low sugar levels at resulted in wines with lower alcohol levels but plenty of flavour and varietal purity.

The grapes come from the vineyard located in Tupungato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The area is characterised by its great diurnal temperature swings, which encourages aromatic expression and a great intensity of colour in the wine. The vines are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. Grown in soils which are predominantly alluvial and sandy, the vines undergo strict canopy management in order to reduce yields.

The clusters were manually selected and underwent pre-fermentation maceration at low temperatures. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at temperatures maintained at approximately 26°C. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for eight to 12 months, followed by a minimum of six months in bottle, prior to release.

This wine is made using Malbec 100%.

A full flavoured Malbec with intense aromas of red fruits and violets. Sweet fruit on the palate is backed by soft, but high volume tannins which give the wine a long and exquisite finish. Serve with a juicy pan-fried steak, braised lamb shanks or a rich lentil stew.

£15.95

Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Rosso 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage (now depleted) was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Best Organic & Biodynamic Buys Under £30 (see blue link below).

OcchipintiSP68 - December 2017 Decanter review

Arianna’s home town of Vittoria lies in the far south of Sicily just to the west of Ragusa. It is here that she has been making wine for the past ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti who owns and runs the famous COS estate.

The grapes are manually harvested before 15 days of maceration on the skins. Indigenous yeast is used for the fermentation after which the wine is aged for 6 months in concrete vats and 1 month in bottle before release, There is no filtration prior to bottling.

70% Frappato, 30% Nero d’Avola. Organic (not certified). Suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Slightly opaque purple/red in the glass showing aromas of wild cherries, plum and mulberry with just a touch of raspberry lift. There are hints of flowers, leather, smoke, spice and herbs with wafts of liquorice, earth and mandarin rind. In the mouth the initial attack of fruit is awash with wild cherry sheathed in tobacco leaf with supporting fruit flavours of dark plum and blackberry. Nice cooling gravelly finish.

 

£19.50

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of "Alternative" New Zealand Whites (not Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) (see blue link below)...

Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Pinot Gris grapes come from the Lismore Vineyard at the edge of the Martinborough Terrace and achieve their optimum flavour profile towards the end of the growing season. As a result, the team harvests this varietal fairly late to obtain a wine closer to the richer style of Pinot Gris produced in Alsace, rather than the leaner, bone-dry style of Pinot Grigio common in much of northern Italy. The vines were planted in 1996.

The 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest.

Fruit was hand picked and whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. The resulting juice was then cold settled, inoculated with yeast and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks at temperatures of 14-18°C. 20% of the wine was fermented in three year old 500 litre oak puncheons to give extra weight and complexity to the final blend. In both cases, the wine was left on lees for several months. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place to retain a crisp, balancing acidity.

Up-front aromas in this Pinot Gris are reminiscent of fresh cut pear, custard, pecans and lychees. The palate is creamy, with flavours of fresh walnut and a hint of smoke. On the long finish, the wine shows complexity and will develop with bottle age.

£23.15

Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (1x 75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2017 edition review of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs (see blue link below).

Ata Rangi SB 2016 - August 2017 Decanter review

Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Ata Rangi vineyards are situated in Wairarapa, just north of Wellington. The grapes for this wine come from Lismore, Waiora, Walnut Ridge, Hau Ariki Marae and Sutherlands Block. Vineyard husbandry is important to Ata Rangi, including leaf plucking to keep the canopies open. Yields are typically low due to the cool, windy spring weather which affects fruit set and the lean, stony soils which are low in vigour and fertility. The vineyards are in conversion to organic certification and are accredited as 100% sustainable.

The 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest.

The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc now takes the name Raranga (‘woven’ in Maori) to express Ata Rangi's range of winemaking techniques in the creation of their uniquely Martinborough style for this varietal. The grapes were hand-picked from 30th March – 11th April. 10% of the grapes were fermented on their skins for eight weeks, 4% was whole bunch fermented and the rest was fermented in stainless steel tanks and barrels. The juice was inoculated with cultivated yeasts and fermented in controlled temperature storage at 12-18°C.

This wine has aromas of spiced apple pie, lime and melon. On the palate, there are notes of candied lemon and cardamom. On the finish, the wine is creamy and savoury.

£16.15

Barbadillo Mirabras 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their March 2019 edition article: Revolutionary Road which covers sherry country's quiet revolution (see blue link below).

Barbadillo Mirabras 2016 - March 2019 Decanter review

This wine is inspired by the age-old methods of vinification of the Sherry district. The grapes come from Barbadillo’s ‘Cerro de Leyes’ vineyard in the Santa Lucía estate from Palomino vines planted in 1972.

Before being pressed, the grapes are prepared in a very traditional way known as ‘Soleo’ where the picked grape bunches are left in the sun to increase the sugar concentration. Manzanilla butts are then used for a traditional cask fermentation using the natural yeasts from the vineyard. The young wine is then transferred to stainless steel and cement tanks for 18 months, under a veil of ‘flor’ before bottling with minimal fining. The result is something unique and represents a journey back in time in termsof aromas and flavours; ones that might have been more familiar in the 19th century.

The wine has remarkable character for a Palomino white; pale golden colour, dry with good acidity, toasted maize and honeyed nose with an unctuous sensation on the palate, revealing flavours of yeast, bread crust and a hint of old oak.

£19.50

Barros 10 Year Old Tawny Port (1x75cl)

Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2018 edition panel review of Tawny Port (see blue link below).

Sogevinus Barros 10yo Tawny - January 2018 Decanter review

Having celebrated their 100th year of trading in 2013, Barros Port is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious companies producing and trading in Port. Much of their success comes from Colheita Ports - old Tawnies from a single year matured in cask for a minimum period of seven years.

Hand-harvested at their best moment, the grapes are destemmed, crushed and vinified in a careful maceration with extraction of colour, tannins and pellicle aromas, complemented by permanent pumping-over during fermentation. This process takes place in vats at a controlled temperature between 28-30ºC. At this phase grape brandy is added, creating a fortified wine. A wine of an exceptional quality, obtained by the selection of several harvests. It is matured in wood for variable periods of time and  the age mentioned on the label is an average age of the different wines used in blending this port. This is instrumental in the wine expressing its character which is influenced by the ageing in oak casks.

With a brown-tawny colour, the nose is dense with dried fruit aromas, with delicate vanilla and chocolate notes. The soft and silky texture and the subtle nuances of wood are balanced by a fresh acidity which culminates with a long and elegant finish.

When served slightly chilled, it is the ideal choice to serve with appetizers like strong cheeses. The velvety texture and the  aromatic expressions stand-out remarkably with main courses with dried fruits. Irresistible with pate as well as aubergine and nuts. Wonderful choice to serve with a myriad of delicious caramel brownies, chocolate and pistachio pavê and nuts crostini with goats cheese.

£21.75

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

These thoughts from the team at Bellenda sum them up perfectly. "We consider, believe, create: these three words constitute the synthesis of what Bellenda is all about, who we are who work there, our family, and our close bond with our land. We love exploring the vast world of sparkling wine. That is a world that holds an enormous fascination for us and enables us to express ourselves in so many ways: sparkling or semi-sparkling, with or without sediment, classic or Charmat method can be woven and combined together, depending on the fruit from the vineyard, on local traditions, or even on a simple desire to try one’s hand at something never before attempted."

Please click on the blue link below to see an excellent fiche technique for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bellenda.

Bellenda San Fermo Brut - fiche technique

£15.50

Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).

Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2019 Decanter review

For the production of this Gran Reserva, the best grapes from the oldest vineyards were hand-harvested. Following the harvest, the best bunches were selected in the winery. The grapes then underwent a slow and controlled alcoholic fermentation with periodic pumping over to extract colour and aromas.  Following this, the wine remained in French oak barrels for 26 months.  

Beronia Gran Reserva 2009 shows a powerful and deep maroon colour. On the nose, it is intense and complex with dried fruits (such as dates) standing out over a base of chocolate and sweet spice from the French oak. On the palate this wine is silky and meaty with pleasant tannins, giving structure and complexity.  This wine shows great personality with body, elegance and intense flavours.

This Gran Reserva is best when decanted before serving due to the long time it has spent ageing in the bottle.  It is ideal when served with red meats, game, mature cheeses and also with chocolate desserts.  Drink it now or you can keep this wine until 2024 before opening it.

£20.80

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.

"Crede" is a dialect word for clay, which is a defining feature of the terrain in Valdobbiadene in which the grapes for this Prosecco Superiore are cultivated. These ancient slopes - at one time the seabed - were formed as the land slowly buckled and curved upwards, arranging the strata of the soil almost vertically.

To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore - fiche technique

£17.45

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

"What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious". 94 pointsTom Cannavan's wine-pages.com - see here for a fuller review from Tom of Blank Canvas's work

Matt Thomson is a busy winemaker. He has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world and has worked with David Gleave MW since 1994. He is involved with many wines, primarily as a consultant. “Now is the time to launch my own wines,” he says. “Blank Canvas represents my story as a winemaker. It is an endeavour that is entirely my own expression of winemaking, is from my own funding, and is exclusively my risk.” The ‘Blank Canvas’ is the vineyard and the variety, the winery the brush and palette (no pun intended) at the winemaker’s disposal, all the while defined by the scientific grounding Matt laid at university and has built upon over the past 23 years. His aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but in order to break the rules, he feels, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.

This Pinot Noir is sourced from a single vineyard that Matt oversaw the planting of in 2001. It is situated in the old clay soils of the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The soil naturally gives low yields, but they also crop thinned during the ripening of the fruit. As a result the berries were small and concentrated with flavour. It is made exclusively from Clone 115, a Dijon clone which is selected for its tannins and impressive savoury fruit characters.

The 2015 vintage in Marlborough was one of the earliest and driest in recent years, with rainfall being just 40% of the long-term average while growing degree days were 10% more. For Pinot Noir, this resulted in lower yields, smaller bunch weights and more concentrated, impressive fruit.

The handpicked bunches were cold-soaked for five days before undergoing wild fermentation. Lots of hand-plunging took place and a large proportion of whole bunch fermentation (50%) made this particularly challenging. Coupled with a savoury low-toast oak regime of new and seasoned oak, and barrel maturation of 10 months, the winemaking has given this Pinot Noir finesse, elegance and power.

Aromas of bright raspberry, red cherry and delicate violet intertwine with seductive savoury characters. It possesses the silky Pinot Noir texture that is so often strived for, and has a structure that is likened to the Old World with big but elegant tannins set amongst a balanced backbone of acidity. It will become more complex with cellaring, with years of evolution ahead of it.

£23.75
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