Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Weekday Wines (25 under £25)" (see blue link below)...
The 6th generation of the Chambers family to make wine in the Rosewood winery, Stephen, took over the winemaking in 2001. This venerable winery, started in 1858 by William Chambers, is one of the most fabled in Rutherglen. This charming, northeastern Victorian town, the sort of place that time forgot, still speaks of the gold rush that led to the town's foundation, and the development of the wine industry, in the 1850s.
The vineyards are located on the fringes of the Rutherglen Township, slightly to the North West, where Chambers produce drier style Muscats which express rose petal characters. The vines are hand pruned to a rod and spur system which allows each vine to be viewed on an individual basis. The trellising system is a single wire with a sprawling canopy.
Harvest of the grapes for this wine commences once the fruit reaches a ripeness of 16 Baumé. At this stage the grapes will have some variation throughout the bunches, with some being plump, while others showing signs of grape shrivel. Once a parcel of grape is harvested, it is destemmed and the must placed into a closed stainless steel fermentation tank. The amount of fermentation is dependent upon the final baumé level of the parcel, and it occurs around 24 hours after harvest and a soak on skins. Once fermentation has commenced and the sugar level has fallen to between 14 and 15 baumé the grapes are pressed with the fermenting juice and fortified with neutral grape wine spirit (95.8 to 96.2%). The resultant wine is then settled in stainless steel tanks and then racked into old oak casks, which range in size between 220 to 5500 litres. The wines are kept as single vintage and vineyard parcels until blending.
The Rutherglen Muscat is typically tawny red in colour with aromas of rose petals, raisins and dried fruit. These characters carry through to the palate, balanced with fresh acidity. The wine is unctuous and rich yet zesty and balanced.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below)...
Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most awarded collections of wines in the world. The intricacies of the champagnes' complex make-up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne - between three winemakers they have been awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge fifteen times. This winemaking legacy, paired with the house's flamboyant history since its foundation in 1851 by the man who would become known as 'Champagne Charlie', makes it a unique offering from Champagne: a house with great, hand-crafted wines, heritage and proven quality.
Charles Heidsieck have built exceptional relationships with the most experienced growers across the Champagne region, and can draw on a rich palette of crus. Precise selection of grapes takes place from 60 specific sites. Vineyards which are integral to producing grapes which build the house style are Oger for Chardonnay for its texture, floral notes and ageing ability, Ambonnay for Pinot Noir for its power, vinosity and fruit, and Verneuil for Pinot Meunier for its acidity, body and aromatics.
After the first fermentation, the wine is racked to separate the lees and then undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity. After blending, using 40% reserve wines which have an average age of 10 years, the cuvée is bottled and selected yeast added to begin the second fermentation. The bottles are placed in the cellars at a temperature of 10°C. In order to achieve the depth and complexity required by the house style, Charles Heidsieck age their Non-Vintage champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.
The Brut Réserve NV is a radiant pale gold colour with fine, persistent bubbles. The nose is characterised by complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky-smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. There is perfect balance of freshness and generosity.
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their Italy 2019 supplement as part of an article on Sicily (see blue link below).
This wine was also awarded a Platinum Medal, 97 points and Best in Show status at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
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 three estates in Sicily. 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.
From vines planted on the island of Pantelleria (South-Western Sicily), this is a modern take on the classic Moscato Passito. The name Ben Ryé derives from the Arabic 'Son of the Wind', after the wind which sweeps round the island. Vines are planted in hollows in the ground, at altitudes of 20-400 metres above sea level on terraced, sandy slopes of volcanic origin. The low bush vines of Pantelleria have been described on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a 'creative and sustainable practice'. The vines are over 100 years old and are ungrafted.
The 2015 vintage experienced cooler temperatures and more precipitation than in previous years. Overall, between 1st October 2014 and 30th September 2015, rainfall reached 763mm compared to the 656mm average of the last 10 years. In July, maximum temperatures were higher than average for the period which aided the ripening process of the grapes. Considerable temperature fluctuations between day and night encouraged the development of perfumes in the grapes.
Once the grapes reached the winery, they underwent further selection on a vibrating table before soft pressing. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. The dried grapes – added to the fresh must in several batches – were destemmed and selected by hand. Ageing took place in stainless steel tanks for seven months and at least 12 months in bottle before release.
Brilliant amber in colour, Ben Ryé is wonderfully fresh and complex. The bouquet is intense and fragrant - aromas of apricots and candied citrus zest combine with notes of Mediterranean thyme and rosemary. The palate is well-defined and intense, with pleasant sweetness well balanced by fresh acidity and great minerality. The finish is long and persistent - a captivating Passito di Pantelleria.
The 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points and a rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards Canadian Section (see blue link below).
Inniskillin is now synonymous with top quality icewine and consistently sets the bar much higher than its competitors. They harvest at a higher brix level than the minimum set by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance in Ontario) and their wines have a higher level of residual sugar. This gives richer, more intense wines that merit their higher price. Inniskillin was founded in 1975 by Austrian chemist Karl Kaiser and Italian-Canadian agriculture graduate Donald Ziraldo, who worked tirelessly to introduce better vines and superior winemaking techniques to Niagara. In 1984, to make the most of the extreme Canadian winter, Kaiser produced his first icewine - a pivotal point in garnering attention from the international wine world.
The Niagara Peninsula is a cool climate region and the mineral-rich soils are the result of melting glaciers that left behind large and varied deposits of gravel, sand and clay, as they receded approximately 13,000 years ago. Thanks to the warming influence of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, the region's temperatures during fruit-ripening are moderate and consistent.
2016 proved to be an excellent year for Icewine grapes, with ideal conditions in early December providing an earlier than normal harvest. Great weather conditions during September, October and November were instrumental in the development of top quality Icewine grapes for the 2016 vintage as the grapes went into the Icewine season healthy and in great shape. The weather turned cold in December and the Vidal harvest began early morning of 19th December with approximately 95% brought in by midday. There were several freeze/ thaw events in December which are integral to enabling the Vidal grapes to dehydrate, concentrating the flavours.
The frozen Vidal grapes were picked and pressed immediately upon arrival at the winery. The viscous juice was allowed to cold settle for three days before being racked clean and inoculated with a specifically selected strain of yeast. The juice was fermented in new French oak barrels at an average temperature of 15ºC for 22 days and remained in oak a further five months prior to bottling.
Aromas of peach, apricot, cinnamon and clove with a touch of toast on the nose. Intense marmalade and orange flavours balance the crisp acidity of this complex Icewine.
The 2017 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below). Alas, the 2017 is all sold out at the UK importer; we offer the 2018 here.
Mount Horrocks Wines is run by proprietor/winemaker Stephanie Toole. Stephanie restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per annum in order to achieve her aims of quality and single vineyard expression. Stephanie describes her wines as 'essentially hand made food wines with an emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours'. All grapes are 100% estate grown from three separate vineyard sites totalling nearly 10 hectares which were 'A grade certified' by Australian Certified Organic (ACO). In 2014, her persistence with classic, no-compromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream.
The grapes were hand picked from the Mount Horrocks 'Cordon Cut' vineyard in Auburn, Clare Valley. In the winery, the bunches were gently handled under conditions that ensured the varietal and site-specific flavours in the resultant wine were retained.
‘Cordon Cut’ refers to a unique process which involves cutting the canes when the grapes are ripe, allowing the remaining fruit to concentrate and raisin naturally on the vine. This results in intense flavour and richness. Stephanie's experience came into play once again, as the fermentation of fruit in five separate fermentation vats was halted when she determined the flavour to be right. Considerable residual sugar remained, with 185 grams per litre.
This wine is bright pale gold with floral and citrus Riesling aromas, intense and spicy. Delicious light lemon curd and vanilla notes, distinctive sweet lime and pear juice, at once delicate and intense, sensual on the tongue, long and fine with beautiful balance.
The 2016 vintage of this wine was awarded 90 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).
Pieropan's estate covers 58 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, took over the running of the estate in 2017 when Nino fell ill and before he passed away in April 2018. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.
The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines are south facing. The fruit comes from hillside vineyards (100 - 300 metres above sea level) in the heart of the Soave Classico area. The grapes are grown organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
The 2017 vintage was characterised by a cold winter with abundant rainfall. At the end of April, there was a period of frost. For this reason, blossom only began to appear towards the end of May, with an earlier start on the lower slopes. Sunny weather followed, but frost and drought meant this was a relatively challenging vintage in terms of quantity. Nevertheless, the grapes were healthy and of good quality.
The Trebbiano di Soave grapes were hand picked from mid-September, while the Garganega grapes were picked later in October. The grapes were destemmed and crushed, with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remained on its fine lees for a period of time, which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest, the wine was bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.
This is a fresh and expressive Soave, with classic aromas of white flowers, almond blossoms and a touch of citrus. Rounded, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a fresh, clean acidity. Long and fragrant, it has a note of fine, almond pastry on the finish.
We like this because we know that Soave is not in fashion. And that's mainly because the world is awash with bad Soave. Good Soave is hard to find and hugely worthwhile when you find it. Nobody should be surprised that Pieroapan lie behind many of the very best Soaves and this, their workhorse, is delightful. with all the tightness and freshness that good Soave should have. At the price, it's terrific.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2017 edition review of Top 40 Californian Wines Under £40 (see blue link below).
Quady is the foremost American winery specialising entirely in dessert wines and continues to win medals worldwide. In 1980, Andrew Quady discovered a parcel of underused Orange Muscat grapes in Reedley, California, which led him to make a wine which celebrated the intense aromas and spicy fruit flavours of the grapes. In Italy, the variety is known as Moscato Fior d'Arancio: Orange Blossom Muscat.
Here in California, it is grown in well-drained, alluvial soils, in climatic conditions ideally suited to this variety. The grapes are harvested at optimal maturity once they have reached a very high 22 Brix. The grapes were crushed, chilled and allowed to macerate. Fermentation was arrested with neutral grape brandy, lightly fortifying the wine to 15% alcohol. This arrested fermentation preserves the delicate aromas of the fresh, ripe grapes. The wine was then aged for three months in used, predominantly French, oak barrels.
Luscious sweet oranges and apricots on the palate with bittersweet orange marmalade notes which balance well with the fresh lemony finish. Excellent served chilled in small glasses with desserts consisting of peach, pear or apricot fruits or pumpkin pie.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Category (Best New Zealand Sweet) at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).
Seifried's Edens Road vineyard is situated 12km from the coast and is bordered by the Wairoa River. The 'soil' is a combination of rocks and boulders, which is very hard on the farm equipment, but vital for holding the warmth of Nelson’s sun and for ripening grapes.
The Edens Road vines are grown in an extremely stony area of the vineyard, where water and nutrient levels are low. This helps to restrict the plants vigour and to crop at low levels. To further enhance the aromatics we removed leaves to allow light penetration and air movement around the fruiting zone.
Using 100% Riesling fruit, the grapes were hand-selected at the peak of ripeness with a large portion of the fruit shrivelled and raisined, caused by natural dehydration. The grapes were then gently pressed to release a very concentrated intensely flavoured juice. The grapes were picked, pressed and fermented in batches as grapes were selected during several passes through the vineyard.
The fermentation was initiated immediately and continued for about three weeks. During this time, the ferment parcels were monitored and tasted regularly. The young wine was then blended and stabilised before bottling in August 2016. The residual sugar in the wine is 175g/L.
This wine is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
“Late-harvested grapes were selectively hand-picked during several passes through the vineyard to select the ripest berries. Intense and luscious tropical fruit, apricot and orange zest flavours with little evidence of botrytis. A deliciously varietal wine that’s sweet but perfectly balanced with tangy acidity.” - 95 Points/5 Stars - Bob Campbell MW
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition review of Dessert Wines and Ports (see blue link below).
Awarded a Platinum Medal and 97 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Category (Best New Zealand Sweet) at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).
This is special stuff. Made with extreme care by Seifried in NZ’s South Island, the Sweet Agnes is pure, late-harvested Riesling: left on the vine, the grapes gain even greater ripeness, lose moisture and so become incredibly sweet (the wine’s sugar content is ~180g/litre). It’s almost amber in colour, and its flavours include lemon sherbet, marmalade, tropical fruits and butterscotch. It’s quite irresistible on its own and delicious with fruity puddings or tangy cheeses (particularly blue cheeses: it really is amazing with these).
To see the winemakers notes on this wine, please click on the blue link below.
Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wines" column (see blue link below).