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’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.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).
Matt Thomson has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world. "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. With partner Sophie Parker-Thomson, the aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but they feel in order to break the rules, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.
A parcel of special Syrah fruit was sourced from a single vineyard run by a good friend in Hawkes Bay’s famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. The vineyard is over 15 years old with very low-yielding vines. The freedraining nature of the Gimblett Gravel soils with vineyards being situated on an historic riverbed facilitate this. The vines are VSP trained and cane-pruned on a single fruiting wire with high density planting.
The 2015 vintage in Hawkes Bay enabled a good fruit set in the Gimblett Gravels sub-region with a dry summer. The few rain events during early autumn were followed by cool windy periods which dried out the canopies and allowed the red varieties to continue to ripen. The 2015 was one of the earliest and driest in recent years.
In an unprecedented approach, Matt has co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7.5% Gruner Veltliner skins. This is a similar technique to what is done in Northern Rhone but with Austria’s hallmark white variety instead of France’s Viognier. Matt specifically chose Gruner so the finished wine would benefit from its white pepper note. 60% whole bunches were fermentated. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by cultured and wild yeasts. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was blended and bottled unfiltered in March 2015.
100% Syrah (the Gruner skins above aside!).
Rich, powerful and brooding, the Blank Canvas Syrah is a world first for its inclusion of a unique co-fermentation partner, Gruner Veltliner. Black and red plum and boysenberry perufmes sit alongside savoury notes, particularly bacon. The black pepper and juniper of Syrah complement the white pepper notes of Gruner Veltliner. It has a velvet-like texture, fine tannins and acidity that only a cool-climate can deliver. It is incredibly dense and dark, yet hauntingly perfumed and elegant.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified organic and biodynamic estate in France. It was founded in 1895 by Michel Cazes and the wines are made by the fourth generation of winemakers, headed up by Emmanuel Cazes. The family makes a range of interesting dry wines alongside the regional specialities, Vin Doux Naturels. They took the decision to move to organic and biodynamic viticulture in 1997. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar.
Maison Cazes is set in the sunniest French region. Since the family started farming biodynamically, they have found that the vineyards are healthier and the vines are stronger, with longer roots. Vines grow on clay and limestone soils, covered by 'galets roulés' (the 'pudding stones' also found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The low yielding vines are about 30 years old, and produce 30 hectolitres per hectare.
2017 was a very early vintage thanks to the good water reserves in the soil and the mild temperature from February. The warmer temperatures in July and August aided the vegetative cycle. The grapes were picked early, when the optimal sugar and acidity levels had been obtained.
40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre. The three varieties were 100% de-stemmed and before being put in separate stainless steel vats. Only naturally occurring yeasts were used; no yeast was added to the must. Fermentation was temperature controlled at 28°C. The residual matter was circulated by pump-overs and the sediment was broken up by hand twice a day to extract the best qualities. The wine was macerated for four weeks before pressing after which it underwent malolactic fermentation.
As well as being biodynamic and organic, this wine is suitable for vegans.
The palate is bright with ripe red and black fruit aromas and rich liquorice notes, balanced by delicate tannins. This wine has a remarkable balance, thanks to its good acidity and freshness. Long finish with white pepper flavours.
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).
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).
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.
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.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their May 2019 "Weekday Wines" (see blue link below).
The winery and vineyards were originally owned and run by the Cecil and Christine De Loach. In 2003, the family run Burgundian estate Jean-Claude Boisset purchased De Loach and brought the focus back to the estate's original high quality winemaking philosophy, with specific emphasis on small lot winemaking, particularly of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. The winery's 17-acre estate vineyard has been completely restored and converted to organic and biodynamic viticulture, a tradition upheld by many foremost Burgundian vineyards. The De Loach estate vineyards are certified organic by CCOF.
The cool, foggy Russian River Valley climate allows for slow ripening, ideal for Chardonnay to develop full flavour maturation. The fruit was hand harvested from select sites in the heart of the valley including the Boriolo and BCD vineyards, as well as from the Norris and Wallace vineyards nestled in the Chalk Hill region
The juice was fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks (40%) and French oak barrels (60%), of which 10% were new. The barrel-fermented portion of wine was aged for nine months and achieved full malolactic conversion. These techniques contributed to an intricately layered and delicately nuanced wine.
Beautifully pale straw yellow in colour, the nose of this Chardonnay immediately entices you with its rich aromas of key lime, white peach and baked apple pie. It shines in spritzy, vibrant acidity that supports a medium-bodied frame of lemon zest, kumquat and plenty of length, dotted in touches of nutmeg.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter at an En Primeur Rhone tasting in October 2017.
Domaine Gramenon was created in 1978 and is situated in Montbrison-sur-Lez in Drôme provençale, at the bottom of the first pre-Alps foothills, the domain stands at a 350 m altitude in the most northern part of the southern Côtes du Rhône area. The vineyard has been cultivated in a natural and organic way since its creation in 1978. They also felt that they should adopt biodynamic techniques and were certified as biodynamic in 2010. They believe each piece of their land to be specific and have its own identity.
This wine is 100% Grenache.
See blue link below for the excellent, 2017 fiche technique / technical note from the winemakers at Domaine Gramenon.
The La Sagesse reveals stony notes mixed with spices and red and black fruit aromas. The palate is full and dense, offering fruit flavours and a long, powerful finish. This wine would be a good match with beef rib, red meats or smoked crab and paprika chowder.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2019 edition article on organic and biodynamic wine production in Languedoc-Roussillon (see blue link below).
Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet, both incomers from other parts of France (Côte-Rotie and Normandy, respectively), have constructed a biodynamic wine sanctuary (certified 2014) in the Vallée de l’Agly, a nearly deserted vineyard land dominated by co-ops and famous for producing fortified wines. The locals continue to abandon vines every year because the yields are tragically low and make it one of the most difficult places in France to make a living in vineyards.
Since she began the project in 2001 (at age 23), Marjorie’s intuitive and peaceful contemplation have resulted in wines that carry a signature of purity, focus and elegance unlike anything made in the region. They are low alcohol, hands-off, mind-on wines bottled by varietal from single sites on specific and unique soil compositions. In smell and taste, their structure and style more closely resemble that of their earthy and salty cousins from the middle of France’s Loire Valley.
Roc des Anges’ biodynamically farmed (since 2011) vineyards sit in one of the lowest yielding areas of the Roussillon in the Vallée de l’Agly, a north-facing amphitheater closer to the mountains than the sea and between the villages, Latour-de-France and Cassagne. Cool air from the mountains rushes in at night, creating an extreme diurnal shift, which contributes to the development of complexity in the grapes. Margorie said that the nighttime cold also makes it almost impossible to have a dinner outside, even during the summer. The sun, the intense winds and the nutrient-spare but character filled soils (mostly schist) all contribute to the concentrating of the grapes and their resulting wines.
Segna de Cor ('Blood of the Heart') is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah produced from the estate's youngest vines (15-30 years of age).
Technical: Whole bunch, manual harvest. A traditional press is used, exerting the mildest of pressure, extracting juice. Vinification is in concrete tanks ranging between 24 and 50hl, and the shape of the tanks and the level of the fill determine appropriately gentle extraction. Ageing takes place in two types of containers; concrete – which exalts the aromatic purity and freshness of the wine - and wood (for about 30-40% of the elevage) in the form of one-to-three year old barrels.
Dark cedar in colour. Aromas of blackcurrant, cassis and dark chocolate on the nose. These are joined by black cherry and spicy notes on the palate. Ripe tannins and a very smooth mouthfeel make this an excellent match with rustic stews and roast meats.
Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2019 edition article The Joy of Clay on amphora-produced wines (see blue link below).
It could be said that Elisabetta Foradori has single handedly brought the intriguing Teroldego grape back from the brink of extinction. She is also one of the key figureheads of Biodynamic production in the Trentino. She is someone deeply attached to her native land and vineyards. 'My memories are here. I’ve known in my mind ever since I was a small girl that the only place I felt well was in nature, maybe because I was born and raised among vineyards.' Today she resides over a beautiful estate of some 26 hectares and produces 160 000 bottles of superb biodynamic wine from various local varieties but her signature wine is Teroldego. The Foradori wines are certified as both organic and biodynamic.
The name "Granato" means "garnet" in Italian but is especially a reference to the pomegranate or in Italian melograno, a fruit of Mediterranean origin, like the first grape vines brought to Italy millenia ago. Elisabetta has always felt stirred by the vitality within this bright, juicy, tannic, many-seeded orb; the name honors that connection she always made between the self-contained beauty and energy of this old-vine wine and this ancient fruit.
Granato is an historic and special wine for Foradori. It comes from their original Campo Rotaliano estate vineyard on this flat, sunny, well-drained plateau with sandy, stony, Dolomitic limestone soils. And as is true of all Foradori reds, the farming is certified-biodynamic and the winemaking very light-handed. That said, several things make Granato stand out. It is Foradori's only riserva, first bottled by Elisabetta in 1986, and the wine that put Foradori on the international wine map; it comes from 3 parcels of the oldest, pergola-trained vines, planted from 1938 to 1956 on the most gravellly parts of the vineyard; and it is the longest-aged and -lived of their wines. The old and genetically diverse material in the Granato vineyard is the source of all cuttings needed for re-planting vines at Foradori.
In its early years, Granato was a more internationally-styled wine, aged in new French barriques and garnering high scores from critics and collectors, and that is how it often still viewed out in the wider wine world. But notably, the last vintage with any new barrique was 2000 and the last vintage with even used barrique was 2008. The vinification and aging of Granato gradually shifted into something more gentle and traditional, with a true terroir focus, as the farming evolved from conventional to organic to biodynamic. The hand-harvested fruit is partly destemmed and gently pressed, with up to 40-50% whole clusters. Fermentation is spontaneous in huge, open wooden vats or tini, with little to no sulfur generally. Maceration is two to three weeks and is built not around punch-downs or pump-overs but rather around the infusion effect of a cappello sommerso or submerged cap of skins in the wine. The wine is aged in old oak botti up to 22 hectoliters in size for around 15 months, before being bottled unfiltered and aged another year before release.
The red berry fruit is multilayered and fleshy with a cranberry-like perfume and firm, ageworthy structure. Plush dark fruits, plenty of acidity, this is a wine that will evolve marvelously for decades.
The 2013 vintage was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Today, it is fifth-generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his viticulturist wife Prue at the helm of Henschke, passionately upholding the family name and reputation. Stephen and Prue continue to craft their white wines with a focus on purity, while their red wines have a strong focus on terroir, using traditional winemaking techniques. Stephen's thoughts on their work: “Prue and I are the current ‘keepers of the flame’. Just as earlier generations have done, we want to manage the vineyards and winery so they can be passed on to the next generation in better condition than we inherited them. Our vision would not be complete without the expectation that future generations will uphold and perpetuate our belief that such ancient and unique single-vineyard sites can produce exceptional wines that are prized for their beauty and rarity.”
To see some wonderfully informative information and tasting notes for the Henschke Keyneton Estate Euphonium 2013 please click the blue link below.
Awarded 89 points and Recommended status in Decanter's November 2019 Spanish supplement review of the Spanish islands (see blue link below).
Mesquida Mora is a newer established winery on the small island of Mallorca by 4th generation winemaker Bàrbara Mesquida Mora. Their family has been making wine on the island for around 50 years now, and in 2007, with her brother Jaume, she decided to branch out with a new line of wines and committing to an entirely bio-dynamic production. Pulling from their estate fruit that is dotted throughout the central and eastern portion of the island within the Pla i Llevant DO, the wines are proving to be an incredible representation of what the island wines are capable of. Focused on happy and healthy grapes that will be passed on to generations to come, Mesquida Mora is a winery to keep an eye on.
Although located within the Pla i Llevant DO in the center of the island, Mesquida Mora chooses to demarcate their wines to VdlT Mallorca to preserve the entire island’s importance Sincronia Blanc takes its name from the simple pieces of life that take opportunity from other pieces, the magic of life.When the younger vines of Mesquida Mora vineyards were born, they came in synchrony with their older siblings (Acrollam & Trispol) to create a second tier for the estate’s exceptional production. The Blanc is made of Premsal, Giró and Chardonnay, having seen a hand harvest, separate fermentations, and a combination for a 4-month aging in stainless steel on the lees. The Premsal is a fairly light bodied varietal, so it saw a couple days of extruded skin contact to add more depth to the final wine. Very little sulfur was used throughout the winemaking process so that the final wine is soft yet has incredible texture and freshness with loads of life, with a grip of tasty fruit, and displays the style and personality of the island.
75% Chardonnay, 15% Premsal, 10% Giró.
AGE OF VINEYARD(S): 25 years old.
SOIL TYPE: Calcareous, clay, & red gravel.
FARMING METHODS: Biodynamic/organic.
FERMENTATION: Stainless steel, indigenous yeasts.
AGING: No oak aging 4 months on lees.
PRODUCTION: 16,000 bottles.
The nose is gently aromatic, showing crisp notes of greengage and pear, the palate is finely textured with a minerally undertone from the Prensal grape – altogether a fresh, zesty delicate and balanced white.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended 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).
(of the 2016) "Ripe, fruity spicy and complex with aromas and flavours of bosc pear and apple, some white pepper and sweet rose, a mineral earthy layer and gentle oak spice layers. Medium+ acidity in a just dry style; flavours of white fleshed fruits are persistent; a complex and well made example. Drink now and through 2022."
93 Points - Cameron Douglas
(of the 2016) "Bright, even straw-yellow colour with pale gold hues. The nose is elegant in proportion with moderately deep aromas of white and yellow stonefruits and a subtle amalgam of white florals, nutty elements and minerals. The aromatics are soft in expression and show delicacy and detail. Dry to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has good depth and intensity of white and yellow stonefruits, white florals, nutty notes and a little toasty oak. The fruit forms a well-concentrated core with good intensity and presence.. The mouthfeel is rounded and smooth with some underlying alcohol drive. The wine carries to a long, lingering finish of stonefruits, nuts and hints of oak. This is a well-proportioned dry Pinot Gris with deep flavours of white and yellow stonefruits, nuts and oak, with plenty of mouthfeel and presence, and alcohol drive. Match with most white meat dishes over the next 4+ years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP, and fully barrel-fermented in seasoned French oak to 13.5% alc. and dryness, the wine aged 10 months on lees with batonnage and 30% MLF. BioGro organic."
18.5/20 Dec 2017 - Raymond Chan
(of the 2016) "This is a distinctive Pinot Gris, drier and more robust (13.5% alc/vol) than most. Fermented and aged in old oak barrels, it is pale straw, with rich, peachy, slightly spicy flavours, showing good complexity and a creamy-smooth finish."
4.5 stars - Michael Cooper
Proudly family-owned, Urlar Estate produces outstanding single vineyard wines using organic and biodynamic principles. Urlar is a Gaelic word that means “the Earth”. Their desire is to bring an abundance of life back to our ancient soils so that the drinker can discover the purity of flavour inherent in the land. Their journey from the highlands of Scotland to the stony soils and cool climate of Gladstone, Wairarapa has cemented a love for all things pure and true.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
The 2014 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2018 edition article on Chile's Colchagua Valley (see blue link below)
The Villalobos family consists of the mother, Rita Encina, a professional ceramicist, the father Enrique Villalobos, a sculptor, and their sons: Martin and Renaldo are both civil engineers and Alejandro is a philosophy professor. Each has their own profession, but they unite around their vineyards and viticulture.
They started making wine in 2007 with a small production from the family. It was only to be a small production for the family and friends made by their friend Martin Rousseau. They persevered, and began to make some of the most celebrated wines in Chile. The first commercial harvest in 2009 was awarded best Carignan in Chile from Descorchados.
This 60-year-old, non-industrial, organic vineyard continues to be in its wild state, without any pruning, irrigation or the use of chemical products such as pesticides or herbicides. The vineyard’s distinguishing feature is its untouched wilderness where for over the last 40 years Carignan vines have grown side-by-side native vegetation. This vineyard is bio-diverse, hosting a wide variety of native flora and fauna, including culen, maiten, quillai, hawthorn and rosehip, among others. The vineyard’s unique surroundings are instrumental in keeping the vines pest and disease-free. The vines grow freely among the trees climbing them for structural support. In fact, one comes across vines making their way up four metre trees alongside shrub-like vines three meters thick. Horses are used in the vineyard to prune by gently nibbling the vines and their droppings have the benefit of fertilising the vines. Indeed, they do not use any machinery that involves the use of fossil fuels.
The vineyard is located 30 km from the Pacific coast, settled in a warm, temperate climate with six to eight months of dry season yearly and up to 20-degree temperature differences. Particularly in the summer months, daily temperatures can range from 30°C to 10°C.
100% Carignan from old vines planted in the 1950s and 1960s. Total production is just 6,000 bottles, some evidence of the tight (and quality-inducing) yields pursued.
Fermented and macerated for 10 days with natural yests in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrels, followed by 18 months of ageing in French oak barrels (these used 3 times previously, ie limited oak flavour is deliberately imparted to the Carignan to preserve maximum fruit flavour/integrity whilst allowing tannis to soften).
Bright and intense ruby-red. Nose with a hint of wild blackberry and elegantly defined maqui berry. Delicate, soft and round tannins on the palate with a food-friendly acidity bearing traces of cherry and strawberry.