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.
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.
ABV = 12.5%.
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition article, Celebrating Sauvignon, picking out a global Top Twelve of Sauvignon(s) Blancs.
Founded by Paul Boutinot in 2004, Waterkloof is a family-owned, organic, biodynamic and WWF Biodiversity Champion farm perched high up on the windswept Schapenberg, overlooking False Bay and The Atlantic Ocean. Living soils, naturally low yields and a long growing season help provide talented young Cellarmaster Nadia Barnard with naturally balanced grapes that are imbued with a truly defining sense of origin. Those grapes are then transformed into wine with a minimum of intervention. The resulting wines are fine, inimitable and best enjoyed with food.
Living soils and a natural approach to winemaking means that each of the single-varietal wines in the Circumstance range is truly defined by the circumstances influencing the chosen varietal and vineyard blocks, including: soil, aspect, altitude and vintage. These factors combine to produce low yields, balanced grapes and wines with a true sense of place. The Sauvignon Blanc is from three windswept, south-facing (less sun exposure) blocks 270-300m above and a mere 2 miles from The Atlantic. The vines are 20 years old and production was a miserly 4 tons per hectare. Waterkloof follow a traditional, minimalistic approach in their gravitational cellar which means interfering as little as possible with the winemaking process. This allows the flavours prevalent in that specific vineyard to ultimately express themselves in the wine.
To achieve this goal, all grapes are whole-bunch pressed, which ensures that juice is extracted in the gentlest way. The juice is then settled naturally for 24 hours. Naturally present wild yeast is employed to ferment the juice, mainly in old 600litre barrels (90%). This leads to a longer fermentation process with a slow release of aromas and a more structured palate. The natural fermentation process took 7-8 months to complete, after which the wine was left on the gross less for another 6 months. There are no added acid or enzymes during the winemaking process, with only a light filtration and a small addition of sulphur added as a preservative prior to bottling.
See also the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
100% Sauvignon Blanc.
Crushed laurel on the nose with more than a nuance of residual seaside salt. This has a big and textured palate with stone fruit and fennel hints – it is rich and minerally, showing even a slight rocky quality about it. As bracing as the wind through the vines at Waterkloof.
ABV = 14.5%.