The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2017 edition review of Southern Rhone Whites (see blue link below).
Domaine Chante Cigale is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Orange and Sorgues, on a variety of soils which contain a high proportion of ‘galets.’ These are the large stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape which heat up during the day and release their heat at night, allowing the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness. The white is fresh and attractive and an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous Chardonnay. Since taking over the running of the estate from his father over ten years ago, Alexandre Favier has transformed the quality of the wines, which now rank amongst the very best of the appellation.
The grapes for this wine are harvested manually and go through a selective sorting process to ensure that only the best quality grapes are used in the winemaking process. The wine is fermented in both stainless steel (70%) and wood (30%). It then spends 6 months on its fine lees before being bottled.
This wine is fragrant, with aromas that are reminiscent of almond and peach blossom. The palate is wonderfully smooth with a silky textured balance of dried apricot fruit and fresh, apply acidity.
This wine is a particularly good match for fish and also works well with smoked ham dishes. It also compliments slightly spicy dishes as well as traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2017 edition reviews of (both) their Top 30 Rosés and Celebrity Vintners (see blue links below).
Château Miraval is located in the Provence village of Correns, the first 100% organic village in France. All of the crops, including grapes, are grown organically in this wild and picturesque town. Tucked away in its own private valley, the château is surrounded by ancient woodlands and olive groves. Following ancient Celtic and Roman occupation, the property served as a host to monastic practice and as a home to members of the French court in the 14th century. Since 2012, the Perrin family has been involved in wine production at the estate, and has overseen investment in the latest wine-making technology and innovation.
Château Miraval has 50 hectares of grapes grown on the estate. The majority of the fruit for this wine comes from the Château's three best parcels - Muriers, Longue and Romarin. The remainder is sourced from within the Correns region, just north of Brignoles in the heart of Provence. The terraced vineyards are at 350 metres altitude, resulting in cool nights that moderate the warm days which in turn help the grapes retain their delicate aromas and crisp acidity. The clay and chalk soils at Miraval are also important for quality because they help regulate water supply to the vines so they have water when they need it and drainage when they don't.
2017 was one of the most difficult vintages in living memory for Provence, suffering from hail and frost in the spring before a drought in the summer. Although the crop was small, the fruit is tremendously concentrated, meaning that the quality is excellent. Harvest was one of the earliest recorded, beginning mid-August.
Grapes were harvested by hand in the cool, early hours of the morning and hand sorted twice to ensure that only the best grapes made it into the rosé. The Cinsault, Grenache and Rolle parcels were gently pressed to extract just the right amount of colour, while the Syrah was made using the saignée method. The wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks separately and then blended post fermentation. Additionally, the Rolle was put into 228 litre barrels, with occasional bâtonnage to add texture and complexity.
The wine has a beautiful pale, petal-pink colour, with bright nuances. On the nose, it has aromas of fresh strawberries and spring flowers. It finishes with a refreshing acidity, minerality and a saline finish.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Extreme Viticulture in South America (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 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 altitude of the Upper Calchaquí Valley has a positive impact on the quality of the grapes. The higher the altitude, the more exposed the grapes are to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which causes them to develop thicker and darker skins to protect themselves from sunburn. The fruit for this wine comes predominantly from San José, one of the oldest vineyards in Colomé, originally planted around 90 years ago. Soils are sandy with layers of gravel which helps drainage.
Overall, the Calchaquí Valley enjoyed optimal conditions in 2017. The weather during the growing season was excellent, with no spring frost, allowing good fruit set and resulting in healthy grapes.
The grapes were triple sorted, once in the vineyard, once for imperfections on the sorting table at the winery and then once more for green material in the must before entering the fermentation tanks. Produced using traditional techniques without the use of commercial yeasts and with regular punching down of the cap. Post fermentation the wine aged in tanks for 10 months before being bottled and undergoing a further 10 months bottle ageing prior to release.
This Malbec has an intense inky colour with violet hues. Aromas of black fruit, cherries, white mulberry and figs combine with hints of spice and minerality. On the palate, this wine is robust and concentrated, with crisp acidity and ripe finely-grained tannins that provide structure and balance.
The Rallo family has made wine in Marsala since 1851 and their ancient cellars tunnel beneath the city. They were one of the first families to begin making high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala started to decline, launching the Donnafugata label in 1983 and championing the potential of the region's native varieties. Today, Donnafugata has four estates in Sicily: a modern winery and 283 hectares at Contessa Entellina in the hills east of Marsala; 36 hectares in Vittoria to the south eastern point of the island; 68 hectares on the island of Pantelleria; and 18 hectares on the slopes of Etna. Donnafugata means 'fleeing woman' and is a reference to Queen Maria Carolina, who escaped the court of Naples in the early 19th century with her husband, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, when Napoleon's troops arrived. The couple took refuge in Sicily at the Santa Margherita Belice palace, also the favourite residence of celebrated writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and depicted on the 'Mille e una Notte' label.
The vineyards at Donnafugata's Contessa Entellina estate are situated 200-600 metres above sea level in south-west Sicily. Soils are clay-based and rich in mineral elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The vines for this wine are trained using Vertical Shoot Positioning and are spur cordon pruned. Average planting density is 4,500 to 6,000 vines per hectare, with a yield of five tonnes per hectare. In 2008, the blend changed to include Tannat, a Mediterranean variety, first planted by Donnafugata experimentally in 2002. Since 2004, Tannat has been grown in the hilly area of Predicatore, where the soils are best suited to growing this variety.
2015 vintage started with an extremely rainy winter - rainfalls reached 763 millimetres compared to the 656 average of the last 10 years. Up to the end of June, the vintage was cooler and rainier than seasonal averages. However, in July the maximum temperatures recorded were higher than the average, which favoured the ripening process of the grapes. The considerable temperature fluctuations between day and night favoured the concentration of aromatic precursors in the grapes.
The team at Donnafugata have extremely high standards for the grapes that go into their wine and due to a latest generation destemmer, they are able to select only the very best grapes. The grapes were fermented in stainless-steel tanks with skin contact for 12 days at temperatures of 28-30°C. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in new and second-use French oak barriques for 13 months, followed by bottle ageing for at least 24 months before release.
This wine is made using a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Nero d'Avola; Tannat and other varieties finalize the blend.
This wine is deep ruby red in colour and characterised by a fragrant bouquet with notes of red fruit, cherry and plum, combined with scents of chocolate, black pepper and sweet tobacco. On the palate, the fruit character is intense, with soft and well-integrated tannins and a long, fragrant finish.
To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine produced by the team at Donnafugata, please click on the blue link below.
The Fowles family are what you could affectionately call a wild bunch! At Fowles, they are a motley crew of raconteurs and entrepreneurs, auctioneers, law men, farmers, hunters and wine makers. From the frontier land, their forefathers (and mothers) founded what is now Bendigo Bank. Since then, they've gone wild, settling into a life on the land. Vigneron, hunter and farmer, Matt Fowles raises the bar, swapping the vitriol of the courtroom for the vineyards of the Strathbogie Ranges. Matt leads a team of characters making wine with character.
Fowles Wine own and manage 360 acres of vines across two vineyards called Upton Run and Billi's in the Strathbogie Ranges. The rugged and beautiful Strathbogie Ranges are located an hour and a half drive northeast of Melbourne. It is here, in vineyards peppered with massive ancient granite boulders, at elevations between 430 and 550 metres above sea level that the vines from which they source Strathbogie fruit grow. The style and character of Fowles Wine reflects their cool climate location. The white wines have great fruit intensity, minerality and are light and fresh, while the red wines are highly perfumed, intensely coloured and powerful, yet restrained and elegant.
The fruit for this wine came from the Upton Run vineyard in the Strathbogie ranges. In the vineyard, mechanical weeding took place to eliminate the use of undervine sprays and the vines were irrigated using a Regulated Deficit Irrigation technique to ensure concentration of fruit.
This wine is 100% barrel fermented, the majority in French oak puncheons. About half of the batch was wild fermented. Wild yeast adds a layer of complexity to the aroma of wine, and wild yeast ferments are often more textural than the same wine made using cultured yeast.
This wine is pale straw yellow in colour. The nose is packed with stone fruit characters, honey dew melon and an inviting and rich toasty oak aroma. The palate is generous, complex and elegant with flavours of fresh ripe stone fruits and honey toasted oak playing on the palate. A balanced and delicious wine with a long finish.
The Wild Ferment Chardonnay matches beautifully with pan seared trout with a tarragon and brown butter sauce.
The 2012 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).
Kaikenes are wild geese, native to Patagonia, that fly across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Montes, the Chilean winery, crossed the Andes in the same way to set up in Mendoza. Their vineyards are situated in the heart of Mendoza and further to the south in Valle de Uco, where many of the premium producers are now sourcing their fruit. The focus is primarily on Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that has been somewhat forgotten as Malbec has surfed one wave of success after another in the past decade. Kaiken's own vineyards supply 70% of their production requirements and 30% is from vineyards that they control.
The grapes used to make Mai are sourced from vineyards located in Vistalba (Mendoza) where the soil consists of an 80-cm top layer of alluvial sandy-loam containing riverbed pebbles. Vistalba has some of the oldest vineyards in the area and is regarded as one of the best sites in Argentina to make premium wines. The vineyard is more than 100 years old and has naturally low yields marked by extraordinary concentration. The vineyard is managed using traditional methods, the same as when it was first planted, and also applies the principles of biodynamic farming.
The 2014 harvest followed an ordinary spring with normal rainfall and regular temperatures. Early-summer temperatures were very high, with heavy rainfall. March and April were marked by high humidity, low temperatures, and many cloudy days. For the black varieties, these conditions yielded spicy and floral aromas.
Grapes were hand-picked into 15kg trays to preserve the quality of the berries throughout the process. The must was fermented in small tanks over a period of 7 days at controlled temperatures of 25-30ºC. This was followed by post-fermentation maceration, which lasted approximately 20 days depending on each specific batch. All the wine was aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months prior to bottling.
This wine is deep red in colour, with purple hints. On the nose, it displays fruity aromas of plums and cherries combined with spicy notes of tobacco and cinnamon. An elegant and complex wine, with soft tannins and a long lingering finish.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2017 edition review of Summer reds (to chill) (see blue link below).
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.