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Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2018 edition review of Value Champagne (see blue link below).

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV - December 2018 Decanter review

If exceptional had a name, it would be Champagne Alfred Gratien. Alfred Gratien Champagnes are handcrafted for guaranteed quality and consistency. A few miles away from Epernay’s bustling town centre, deep in the heart of a Champagne vineyard, are the Alfred Gratien Champagne cellars. It was here, on Rue Maurice Cerveaux, that Alfred Gratien set up his business and created his first cuvées in 1864. For over a century and a half, Alfred Gratien Champagnes have remained a family affair perpetuated by the expertise and know-how of their founder. For four generations, the Epernay-based Jaeger family have been handing down the trade of cellar master from father to son, ensuring the Alfred Gratien style lives on.

The pale yellow hue of this wine’s colour is complemented by its lively effervescence. The bubbles are small and quick to rise to a fine mousse. The nose is moderately intense yet complex. The sweet pastry, biscuit and orchard fruit notes are followed and enhanced by hints of citrus, white flowers and fresh butter. The initial taste is clean: this is a very silky and sparkling wine whose sugar content works well with its body. There is a certain chalky minerality and the texture is smooth. It is characterful without being overbearing. The finish is crisp, with a slight mineral undertone, and long at 6 to 8 seconds. It leaves an excellently balanced acidic aftertaste, with a sugar component that is undeniably pleasing on the palate.

Thi is an exemplary Brut Champagne, which places a great emphasis on the bubbles created in the wine. It has benefitted from its reserve wine content and its maturation in cellars. Superb complexity combines young aromas with notes gained through maturation in cellars.

Its balanced qualities mean it can be paired quite liberally. Avoid anything too salty, sugary, fatty or spicy, opting instead for balance. Ideal for your savoury or sweet-and-sour hors d’œuvre, and for apéritifs.

£35.05

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle de Uco Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World" (see blue link below)...

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle De Uco Malbec 2014 - August 2018 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in 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.

100% of this Malbec was grown on the loamy soils of Gualtallary, lying at 1,300 metres above sea level. There, limestone-covered pebbles and gravels occupy 50-60% of the soil volume, with a high percentage of free calcium carbonate giving the wine a chalky, fresh minerality. A small percentage of clay (3%) allows the Malbec to express fresh fruit flavours.

The 2013 / 2014 season began with severe frosts reducing yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that negatively affected flowering and lowered yields even more. December and January saw heatwaves, though lower temperatures moved into the region just before harvest. Three weeks before harvest, two years’ worth of rain fell. Grapes were therefore harvested prior to mildew or rot setting in. Despite these challenges, fruit showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins.

The grapes went through a double selection process and into small stainless steel tanks for pre-fermentation maceration at 5°C for seven days. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C and continued for 15 days. In total, the wine spent three weeks on its skins. Pumping over was not carried out in order to minimise over-extraction of grape skin compounds. Instead, the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. Once this was completed, post-fermentation maceration began for four days. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted foudres for 18 months followed by 12 months in bottle.

Fresh red fruit notes, cranberries and wild strawberries are followed by layers of spice and herbs. On the palate, fruit is intensely concentrated intensifying through the mid-palate to the finish. The limestone tannins and calcareous soils build a firm but balanced structure in the mouth, with elegant minerality and a long finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£32.45

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Paraje Altamira Malbec 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American signature grapes (see blue link below). 

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation (Paraje Altamira) Malbec 2014 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Argentine reds (Altamira and Gualtallary) (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 95 points and Outstanding status in their October 2017 edition review of South American Extreme Viticulture (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Altamira Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review 

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premier 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. 

The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted oak foudres for 18 months, and a further 12 months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure that the quality of the wine was not interfered with.

Fresh and delicate on the nose showing layers of red cherries and raspberries combined with herbal notes of wild rocket and thyme and a touch of minerality. On the palate it is elegant and supple with fine tannins providing structure. A graceful, complex, deep and structured wine with considerable length.

£32.45

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American Cabernet Franc  (see blue link below)

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2014 - 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.

2014 was a challenging vintage with severe frosts significantly reducing the yields. December and January saw heatwaves which helped the growing season to progress, but late season heavy rainfall and lower temperatures just before the harvest threatened the vintage with mildew and rot. The timing of the harvest was crucial to avoid rot and careful selections took place, vinifying only the best grapes. The wines show fine aromatics and fruit concentration, with refined tannins.

The grapes come from vineyards located in Gualtallary in Tupungato at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The plants are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. The vines are grown in alluvial, sandy and permeable soils.

The grapes were hand-picked in the coolness of dawn in April, when they had reached full polyphenolic maturity. The berries were manually selected and the best berries underwent cold pre- fermentation maceration. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 26°C. The wine was aged in new French oak barrels for a period of 12 to 18 months and then cellared in bottles for a minimum of eight months prior to its release.

Intense aromas fill the glass, with deep red fruits and a remarkable presence of red bell pepper, fennel, mint, anise, eucalyptus and basil. A structured, full bodied wine, with rounded tannins which result in a pleasant and persistent finish. Serve with full flavoured meats such as steak or lamb.

£29.59

Antinori Pian Delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino 2013 (1x75cl)

The 2012 vintage was Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2017 edition review of Brunelllo di Montalcino 2012 (see blue links below).

Antinori PdV Brunello 2012 - November 2017 Decanter review

The Pian delle Vigne estate is located six kilometers (3.5 miles) to the south of the town of Montalcino  above the Orcia river valley. The property consists of 184 hectares (460 acres) , 65 of which (some 160 acres) are planted to vines situated between 130 and 200 meters (440-660 feet) above sea level and with an exposure which is principally to the southeast. The soil consists prevalently of clay and limestone and is rich in small stones. It takes its name from a period-style 19th century railroad station situated within the estate’s confines. 

The 2012 vintage was characterized by a balanced late autumn of 2011 and a cold winter, and a mild spring in 2012. The summer season immediately arrived with high temperatures, which assisted a regular ripening of the grape bunches. Late August, instead, was marked by lower temperatures and important temperature swings from daytime warmth to evening and nighttime coolness, factors which made a major contribution to aromatic intensity and freshness. The harvest took place in mild and dry daytime weather between the third week of September and the first week of October.

After a careful selection of the grapes both in the vineyard and in the cellar, the grapes were destemmed, and given a soft pressing; the must then went into stainless steel tanks  and remained in contact with its skins for approximately three weeks at a temperature around 82° Fahrenheit (28° centigrade). The resulting wine was put through a complete malolactic fermentation and aged in 800 to 2100 gallon (30-80 hectoliter) oak casks. After two years of aging the wine was bottled in April of 2015.

The wine is ruby red in color. The nose shows fruity and floral notes together with spicy and balsamic sensation which add freshness and complexity. The palate and its supple and silky tannins are  creamy in texture, the wine round and enveloping in character with an excellent and pleasurable length and persistence. Complex, generous nose with ripe aromas of cherries and raspberries, light tobacco notes and hints of coffee and cocoa powder. Multi-layered structure with a nicely rounded texture and elegant fruit leading to a very long finish.

£44.20

Bodegas Benito Urbina Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Mature Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2017 edition review of premium Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2016 edition review of best-buy Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2016 Decanter review

Bodegas Urbina is a family run winery with four generations of dedication to grape growing and winemaking since 1870. The present winery was designed, built and run by the family Urbina since 1986 and has been created solely to facilitate the production of fine wines. Commercial winemaking within the DOC Rioja dates from 1870 and takes place in ancient underground Cuzcurrita drafts.

This wine comes from the best grapes grown on the Estate and it is made using grapes from vines that are all more than 20 years old. It is fermented at a controlled temperature of 28°C and is macerated for the final 28 days, followed by at least 36 months in oak and a further 48 months ageing in bottle.

The Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 is a dark ruby colour with a thin mahogany rim. It has a complex nose, showing splendid maturity, with mineral aromas, ripe fruit, figs, cherries, plums, tomato jam and dried apricots, cigar box, cherry blossom, harmonious and well defined spicy hints of cinnamon, vanilla and clove. Some leather, snuff leaves and nutmeg. There is also a hint of musk, incense and kola nut.  it has a base of toffee candy, and balsamic notes, so is both fresh and elegant. On the palate, the flavours are harmonious and balanced, with oak and fruit tannins, showing great elegance and velvety softness, as well as a wonderful length.

£27.75

Bodegas Roda 1 Rioja 2011 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Bodegas Roda 1 Rioja 2011 - January 2019 Decanter review

Roda was founded in 1987 by Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella. They arrived in La Rioja with the firm intention of creating a project able to provide the world of winemaking with something new. This is where their fascinating, ambitious, exigent and unprecedented adventure began. Bodegas Roda is located at the edge of the river Ebro, in the Railway Station District (Barrio de la Estación) in Haro. 

Roda uses bush vines that are over 30 years old and yields are limited to 1.5 kgs per vine to encourage phenolic maturity which results in depth and complexity on the palate. The 14 Tempranillo vineyards used to produce Roda I are located near Haro, the historic heart of La Rioja Alta. Aged in French oak barriques for 16 months (50% new and 50% second use) and 36 months in bottle prior to release. The “high” temperatures in March and April caused an early budding of 15 days compared to 2010. During the month of July, the temperatures dropped, the average monthly temperature of 19ºC, and the differences with 2010 were reduced to one week at veraison. The low rainfall in the summer months and the high temperatures of August and September, with a lower production of the vineyard, made that the harvest come early, between 15 and 20 days, compared to 2010.

High layer with dark red background. The Roda I 2011 has a beautiful nose, intense with black fruit and reddish details. The plum becomes the protagonist among cherries and sweet spices. There are waves of aromas that rise from the depth leaving memories of earth and minerals. The wood is almost imperceptible among the spices. The mouth is wide, powerful and delicate at the same time. Very cozy and pleasant, combining sweetness and freshness. The tannin is very fine and you can feel, between the silkiness of the black plums, the chocolate notes and the memory of a cigar box.

£40.50

Bodegas Valdemar, Conde de Valdemar Rioja Gran Reserva 2008 (1x75cl)

Bodegas Valdemar is the fruit of five generations of a family which, since 1889, has dedicated all its passion and work to cultivating and caring for the vines, loyal to the philosophy of producing wines exclusively from its own vineyards.

An underground stone cellar, in Oyón is where more than 125 years of history started. Joaquín Martínez Bujanda built it to age the wines that he made from his vineyards. From day one, this family's passion has come from the same place, the land and the vineyard itself. Their wines unite the dreams and passions of several generations. Since the 1980’s Conde Valdemar has become a point of reference in Rioja by making wines that stand out because of their quality. It is acknowledged as one of the wineries in La Rioja with a longstanding tradition and history of producing Gran Reserva wines - true oenological treasures that are proof of the greatness and know-how of  the winemaker.

Conde Valdemar Gran Reserva is the great jewel of the winery. The elegance of the Tempranillo grape is very well displayed in this rounded, tasty wine rich in aromas and nuances. Bodegas Valdemar is one of the most prestigious wineries and with more history in making Grandes Reservas of Rioja. This wine spent 30 months maturing in French oak barrels and was subsequently bottled in June 2012.

This wine displays a bright cherry colour with light red-brick tones provided by the oak ageing. It has complex and interesting aromas to ripe red fruits harmoniously integrated with spicy touches as well as some pleasant balsamic notes.  It is well balanced in the mouth, with body and strength. There are soft tannins which are both fleshy and expressive. It has a long finish and is very persistent. This is a wine with a long life.

This wine matches perfectly with red meat, stews and roasted food as well as game. It is particularly well suited to cold meats and cheeses.

£25.10

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 (1x 75cl)

** DECANTER MAGAZINE HAS MARKED US AS HAVING AVAILABILITY OF THIS WINE. ALAS, THIS IS AN ERROR DATING BACK TO ITS REVIEW IN DECEMBER 2017 (when we rapidly sold out). WE LEARN THAT THERE IS NONE AVAILABLE AT EITHER THE UK IMPORTER OR BROKENWOOD EITHER. Apologies for the disappointment! **

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue links below).

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 - December 2017 Decanter review

Decanter review - individual reviewer comments

Established in 1970, Brokenwood Wines has evolved from a weekend venture for self-professed hobby winemakers into one of Australia’s most reputable wine labels. It was founded by a trio of Sydney-based solicitors, Tony Albert, John Beeston and James Halliday, who paid a then record price of $970 per acre for a 10-acre block in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges. The original block was destined to be a cricket ground for the local community but was instead planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The first vintage was picked in 1973 and while none of the original partners claimed to know anything about viticulture, the wine received praise, and attracted a loyal following from the first vintage.

In 1975, a new winery was built to accommodate the growing production. Growth was steady until the boom of 1978, when six new partners joined, allowing the purchase of the nextdoor (and now famous) Graveyard Vineyard. Originally destined to be a cemetery for the Parish of Pokolbin, it was never used as such and instead planted with Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz is Brokenwood’s flagship wine, which is still sourced exclusively from that one vineyard.

In the same year, Brokenwood sourced fruit from outside the Hunter Valley for the first time - Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra - which was blended with Hunter fruit to make a premium red, creating the style that has been synonymous with Brokenwood for the last 20 years. In 1982, the company extended its range to include white wines, notably the jewel of the Hunter Valley, Semillon. Brokenwood was then capable of producing high quality white wine, which, since 1983, has been a significant part of its total production. Brokenwood’s single vineyard philosophy has grown to capture the essence of its premium sites throughout Australia.
Consistently listed as a 5-star winery, Brokenwood is home to the aforementioned Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the highly-acclaimed ILR Reserve Semillon, and the popular Cricket Pitch Range.

An almost-perfect combination of soils, aspect, vine clones and vine age on the Indigo property makes for a stunning Chardonnay with minimum winemaking input, allowing the Beechworth region and and Indigo terroir to express themselves fully. A very cold and wet winter of 2015 meant a late budburst, but set the vines up for a great spring. A warm summer did mean irrigation was necessary and picking was very condensed. The last grapes off were nearly a month ahead of previous years, but this worked out favourably as there was a heat wave in early March. Overall, 2016 was a quite excellent vintage.

Whole bunch pressing, wild ferment in new French oak have come together in spectacular fashion. The wine was fermented in 30% new French oak. with the 70% balance being older oak, from a variety of cooperages.

At Indigo, careful winemaking and being very hands-off has resulted in a perfect green tinted yellow colour. Whole bunch pressed and a wild ferment has meant excellent complexity on nose and palate. Nutty elements with distinctive Beechworth ‘oat meal’ Chardonnay lift. A vintage with low ‘struck match’ but long grapefruit flavours and tropical acidity. Perfect Chardonnay which is drinking well now but will improve with further bottle age.

£35.00

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

The Première Cuvée is a very personal interpretation of the Champagne region and is the flagship of the Bruno Paillard style. A top quality wine, the Première Cuvée has the ability to survive any harvest The blend is made usingonly the first pressing of the grapes to extract only the purest juice - Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%), part of which (20%) was in barrel for the first fermentation. This champagne is a blend of 25 vintages, dating back to 1985. Ageing takes place over a period of time that is always longer than the legal requirement; three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. 

The golden straw colour is indicative of the exclusive use of the first pressing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The primary aromas are of citrus - lime and grapefruit. Then the red fruits aromas start to appear - redcurrant, raspberry, morello cherries. When left to open up in the glass, the wine shows hints of dried fruits, which are sometimes exotic. The palate is lively and vivacious, thanks to a low dosage. The aromas on the nose are echoed in the mouth. There are primary flavours of citrus, almonds, and toasted bread, followed by redcurrant jelly but also dark fruits like cherry, fig and blackberry. As the wine opens up in the glass, and gets warmer, it expresses light plum and pear flavours. The palate is full, quite long with a very clean finish. The Premiere Cuvee champagne is an excellent aperitif. It matches divinely with cheese (Brie de Meaux, Camembert, aged salers), poultry and shellfish.

£36.80

Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Rose NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee Rose NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

A hymn to the bright delicacy of Pinot Noir, the Premiere Cuvee Rosé is named on account of its composition of only the first pressing. This multi-vintage rosé, made with Pinot Noir, is created in two ways: 1. White wine from Pinot Noir: after a quick pressing, and a fast separation of the skins, the juice is very pale and can be vinified as a white wine. 2. Red wine from Pinot Noir: is obtained by a prolonged maceration of the juice on the skins. A touch of Chardonnay brings the necessary vivacity to balance the fruits of Pinot Noir.

The blend is a first pressing of mainly Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay, the amount of which remains a secret. The reserve wines are a blend of 25 vintages, going back to 1985. The champagne is aged for three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. This wine has a very low dosage, (labelled as Extra Brut) at less than 6g per litre. It is a very pure wine.

The pink copper colour with a hint of raspberry when young evolves to salmon while ageing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The initial aromas of redcurrant and red fruits evolve to morello cherry, wild strawberry and violet while breathing in the glass. A touch of lemon denotes the discrete presence of Chardonnay. With age, aromas tend towards dark fruits like dark cherry, fig and blackberry. The palate reveals red fruit captured at full freshness. The finish is bright and long.

Pale in colour yet with a distinctive hue. This Cuvee has finesse and purity but is very fine and fresh. With subtle cherries, strawberries and nice overall acidity.

£46.20

Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2016 edition review of the Barbaresco 2013 vintage (see blue link below).

Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja 2013 - Dec 2016 Decanter review

The Rocca family originates from Barbaresco. Bruno Rocca took charge of the family business when his father died in 1978, and decided that all the wine produced by the estate would from then on be sold in bottle. The family now has 15 hectares of vineyards. Stylistically, Bruno is a consummate modernist, making wines with great intensity of fruit while retaining the structure and elegance of the Langhe at its best.

Purchased by Bruno Rocca's father, this vineyard is in the Rabajà Cru, in the village of Barbaresco. It was planted in 1964 and completed in 1978. The land planted solely with Nebbiolo has a south-westerly exposure and is a mixture of tufaceous clay, marl and limestone. The vineyard is steep and is situated at an altitude of about 300 metres above sea level. The vines are approximately 50-60 years old.

A warm winter and an early spring started off the growing season. Summer saw regular temperatures and plentiful rainfall with some very intense downpours. These weather conditions meant that production in 2014 was slightly lower than average. A good September and October with good diurnal temperatures helped complete the ripening process. The 2014 wines seem to have good ageing potential, with good acidity and minerality.

Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 30°C and lasted 20 to 25 days. The wine was aged for 12 months in 225 litre French oak barrels (Allier, medium toast) and another 12 months in large oak barrels.

Ruby-garnet in colour with an intensely perfumed nose and notes of flowers, redcurrant, blackberry and a smoky edge. On the palate there is great fruit concentration and the characteristic tannins of Nebbiolo have been softened by the warm autumn. Long and very elegant on the finish.

£70.95

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2014 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The Bucci family has been growing grapes in the Marche since the 1700s. Current custodian, Ampelio Bucci has 26 hectares of vineyard on this 400 hectare estate, which is cultivated organically. Of these, 21 hectares are Verdicchio, spread over six separate vineyards. The old vines and low yields give wines of great intensity. Consultant winemaker at Villa Bucci is the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai, who has been there for nearly 30 years. He makes wines for ageing and complexity rather than freshness and simplicity.

The Riserva is only produced in the best vintages, with fruit from the oldest vines (between 40 and 50 years old on average) and the best sites. There are six vineyards with different exposures and elevations to obtain more complexity in the final blend of each wine. Yields are kept low and vineyard management is certified organic with no herbicides or pesticides used. Soils are mainly calcareous (limestone), giving minerality to the wine, with around 30% clay, which retains moisture during the hot summers.

The 2015 summer in the Marche was warm and sunny, with a great deal of heat in August. Some light rainfall helped to balance the growth cycle, creating healthy and well-balanced grapes.

Vinification took place in the underground winery, which is naturally cool so refrigeration is generally not necessary. Vinification took place in stainless steel and Slovenian oak barrels of between 50 and 75 hectolitres, that are approximately 70 years old. Different vineyard parcels were vinified separately, aged for two years and then carefully blended before bottling.

An intense, complex and persistent bouquet of apricot compôte and spice with aromas of honey, beeswax, minerals and flint stone. Full bodied and with great depth, the wine finishes with hints of honey and nuts.

£28.30

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 (1x75cl)

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)...

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from two of the reviewers...

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

Burn Cottage refers to the name of a road on which the 24 hectare property sits in Central Otago. The estate was once a sheep paddock until its purchase by Marquis Sauvage in 2002. Marquis brought on board Ted Lemon of Littorai as their winemaker and in 2003, they started planting Pinot Noir. Six years later, they released their first wine.

The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner vines account for just over one hectare of total plantings at Burn Cottage, the only part of the vineyard which is not planted with Pinot Noir. At the time of planting back in 2007, the aspect of this particular plot did not suit Pinot Noir, so they decided to plant these two aromatic white varieties instead. The first crop was harvested in 2014. As with the Pinot Noir, the vines have been cultivated biodynamically from day one, Ted Lemon’s one stipulation for his involvement.

Less rain during winter and a very windy October meant vine growth started off slowly. Some frost fighting was required, however, no damage was sustained. The weather warmed considerably to above average temperatures throughout spring enabling healthy vine growth and a favourably short flowering. Central Otago had fantastic summer weather and very warm nights at times, so the season quickly caught up to normal timing and maturity progressed well. Cooler periods in February did not change the overall flow of the season and harvest took place at the usual time during March and April 2015.

The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner were harvested separately at different times and were subsequently crushed, pressed and fermented separately. The Riesling was crushed by foot to soak the berries in juice. The Grüner Veltliner underwent the same methods of production but spent only 48 hours in contact with the skins. Static settling took place overnight and the wines were racked off the gross lees. The wines were fermented in stainless steel vats and rested in old oak barriques for 11 months.

The Grüner Veltliner component in the blend offers attractive aromas of beeswax and white pepper coupled with a zesty lime flower, chamomile and lemon curd from the Riesling. The wine is rich on the palate but is well-balanced with bright acidity. The finish has a lovely energy and lingers on the palate.

£43.40

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti DOCG 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage was Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below) ....

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

... and awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Aglianico (see blue link below).

Caggiano Vigna Macchia dei Gotti Taurasi 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The Caggiano winery is based in the town of Taurasi, the heartland of Aglianico, which is the main focus of their production (they were the first ones to produce a Taurasi cru, aged Bordeaux-style exclusively in barriques in 1994). Antonio Caggiano, the founder of the winery, designed one of the wineries, the most spectacular in Campania in 1990. Today thousands of bottles are laid down in its galleries made of the local “tufo” stone waiting for the sturdy Aglianico to be ready to drink.

Fermentation is temperature-controlled, in stainless steel. The wine is fined in barriques for 12-18 months (varies friom harvest to harvest).

This is an intense and complex wine with aromas of red berry fruits on the nose and hints of vanilla and licorice appear on the palate along with wild strawberries and cranberries.

£31.15
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