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(Cave de Embres-et-) Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbieres, 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition panel tasting of Corbières (see blue link below).

 

Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbieres, 2018 - April 2020 Decanter review

Embres-et-Castelmaure is a tiny village in Corbières, with around 150 residents, all of whom are families of vignerons. Their co-operative Cave de Castelmaure - generally known now as Castelmaure - was founded in the 1920s and today consists of 65 members making wine from grapes hand-picked from 760 local plots (totalling 350 hectares). 90% of Castelmaure's production is red, with 80% of this classified  as AOC Corbières, made from the appellation's key grape varieties:Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre.

Surrounded by mountains and adjoining the vineyards of Fitou, this wild, windswept terrain has a variety of soils from schist, limestone, alluvial river wash to clay-chalk. The co-operative is modern, innovative and extremely well-run producing excellent and award-winning wines.

To wit, this wine, being

40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan.

For more/full details, see the blue link below for a detailed data sheet from/by the producers themselves

Castelmaure, Hauts de Castelmaure, Corbières 2018 - fiche technique

An expressive and open nose, full of damson jam and cassis notes, and that unmistakable garrigue aroma of heather and wild thyme. Plenty of body and soft, ripe tannins. A great all-round wine for drinking on its own or with food. Ideal with beef daube, casseroles and other tender red meats.

ABV = 14.5%.

£12.20

Agricola Tiberio Pecorino 2019 (1x75cl)

2017 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition regional profile of Abruzzo (see blue link below).

Agricola Tiberio Pecorino 2017 - April 2020 Decanter review

While working for a local winery, Riccardo Tiberio stumbled across a parcel of very old Trebbiano Abruzzese vines in the hillside village of Cugnoli. Though similar in name and vine appearance to the common Trebbiano Toscana, that is where the resemblance ends. This rare grape variety produces subtle, vibrant herb-scented white wines. This chance encounter changed Riccardo Tiberio’s fortunes and that of his family. In 2000, Riccardo purchased those same vines and another 21 hectares which he planted with the indigenous varieties Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Abruzzese and Pecorino. Riccardo’s passion for wine has been instilled in his children who have since taken over the running of the estate. Cristiana Tiberio is in charge of the winemaking and Antonio takes care of the vineyards. The estate has established a well-deserved reputation for its award-winning Pecorino wines, but their best wine is the Chablisesque Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Fonte Canale, made from the aforementioned 60-year-old Trebbiano Abruzzese vineyard. Today, Tiberio wines are among the best and most authentic wines in Abruzzo.

- Vineyard: cultivated using to the Guyot system at 300 metres above sea level. Organic farming.

- Vinification: cold maceration for 8-10 hours and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts in steel vats.

- Aging/elevage: 6 months in steel vats.

Pecorino 100%.

Intense aromas and flavours of sage, rosemary, green fig, peach, yellow melon. Full bodied and fresh with a lingering minerality, this is excellent now and will last at least another year.

ABV = 14.0%.

£13.55

Akarua (Bannockburn) Pinot Noir 2017 (1 x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, Most Exciting Wines of 2019 (see blue link below).

Akarua (Bannockburn) Pinot Noir 2017 - January 2020 Decanter review

Awarded 95 points and Gold status at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Akarua Pinot Noir 2017 - IWC 2019 award and review

The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50 hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been enamoured with the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.

All the Pinot Noir grapes were harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare site on Cairnmuir Road in Bannockburn, which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soil here is young alluvial schist based sand/silt and sandy loams overlaying schist rock. The vines are 16 years old.

The 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest which started in mid-April.

The grapes were hand picked and 90% were destemmed. Pre-fermentation maceration took place over five days, with temperatures peaking at 31°C. Punch downs took place twice daily and post fermentation maceration lasted six days. The wine spent 10 months in French barriques, 30% of which were new.

100% Pinot Noir.

Deep bright ruby in colour. The nose displays intense black fruit flavours and the complexity that Bannockburn Pinot Noir is renowned for, with haunting aromatics of bramble fruits and spice. The palate is elegantly balanced with red fruits and finely textured tannins. A wine with great poise and longevity.

ABV = 14.0%.

£26.90

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Clasico 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2020 edition's Weekday Wines (see  blue link below). 

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Clasico 2018 - July 2020 Decanter review

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

Most of the fruit for the Clasico is from vineyards in Luján de Cuyo with sandy loam soils. This is supplemented with some fruit from the high altitude vineyards of the Uco Valley, both of which bring different characteristics to the wine. The area has a semi-desert climate with little rainfall and hot days and cool nights. The soils are deep which delays ripening and avoids hydrological stress.

The 2018 vintage can be described as a classic year for Mendoza Malbec. Low rainfall and cool temperatures in the harvest months of February to April gave rise to fruit with optimal ripeness, smooth tannins and fresh natural acid.

Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before the final blend was assembled. After a careful double sorting process, the grapes were gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in order to express the character of each of the selected vineyards. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks between 24-28°C for 10 days. Each tank is tasted three times a day to determine what is needed. The wine is then aged for a minimum of nine months in concrete vats.

100% Malbec.

This Malbec is deep violet-red in colour. The nose displays characteristic notes of red fruits, raspberries and freshly picked plums with white pepper. This wine is all about freshness - the palate is supple and juicy, with soft but structured tannins and a long finish.

ABV = 13.5%.

£12.65

Amalaya Blanco de Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 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).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - August 2017 Decanter review

Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.

The Torrontes and Riesling grapes were grown on the Finca San Isidoro vineyards. These are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge thermal amplitude of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.

The temperatures recorded during the winter were lower than average, with heavy snow in July. The lower temperatures continued into September and October, which slowed down bud break. 2018 was the driest of the last four vintages. Temperatures increased, well above average, from February to April. The increase in the temperature increased the sugar levels and polyphenolic maturity, resulting in high concentration of aromas and flavours in the grapes.

The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. The grapes underwent cold maceration for four days, followed by a slow fermentation using selected yeasts, at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. 80% of the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks with 20% aged in French oak for 10 months.

85% Torrontes, 15% Riesling.

Intense gold in colour, this wine has pronounced aromas of grapefruit and lemon peel. Delicate and silky on the palate with great freshness and crisp acidity on the distinctly mineral finish.

ABV = 12.5%.

£10.30

Amalaya Blanco de Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2019 (1x75cl)

The 2018 vintage was awarded 94 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).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Amalaya Blanco De Corte Torrontes / Riesling 2018 - August 2017 Decanter review

Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.

The Torrontes and Riesling grapes were grown on the Finca San Isidoro vineyards. These are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge thermal amplitude of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.

The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. The grapes underwent cold maceration for four days, followed by a slow fermentation using selected yeasts, at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. 80% of the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks with 20% aged in French oak for 10 months.

85% Torrontes, 15% Riesling.

Intense gold in colour, this wine has pronounced aromas of grapefruit and lemon peel. Delicate and silky on the palate with great freshness and crisp acidity on the distinctly mineral finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£10.35

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2020 edition's Weekday Wines (see  blue link below). 

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2016 - June 2020 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.

The result of the El Niño phenomenon in 2016 was relatively high humidity and frequent rains. Fortunately the rocky soils in the vineyard at Gualtallary facilitate drainage of the rainwater and keeps moisture to a minimum, reducing the threat of disease. Vine maturation was delayed by approximately 25 days, due to lower temperatures during the summer, however the lack of rain in March, enabled the grapes to reach good physiological ripeness and harvest took place as usual. Low sugar levels at resulted in wines with lower alcohol levels but plenty of flavour and varietal purity.

The grapes come from the vineyard located in Tupungato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The area is characterised by its great diurnal temperature swings, which encourages aromatic expression and a great intensity of colour in the wine. The vines are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. Grown in soils which are predominantly alluvial and sandy, the vines undergo strict canopy management in order to reduce yields.

The clusters were manually selected and underwent pre-fermentation maceration at low temperatures. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at temperatures maintained at approximately 26°C. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for eight to 12 months, followed by a minimum of six months in bottle, prior to release.

This wine is made using Malbec 100%.

A full flavoured Malbec with intense aromas of red fruits and violets. Sweet fruit on the palate is backed by soft, but high volume tannins which give the wine a long and exquisite finish. Serve with a juicy pan-fried steak, braised lamb shanks or a rich lentil stew.

ABV = 14.0%.

£15.95

Aphros Phaunus Loureiro 2018 (1x75cl)

** WHEN STOCK BELOW DEPLETED, PLEASE NOTE WE EXPECT MORE IN BY 8th JULY **

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2020 edition article on Orange Wines (see blue link below).

Aphros Phaunus Loureiro 2018 - July 2020 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage (alas, no longer available) was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2019 edition article The Joy of Clay on amphora-produced wines (see blue link below).

Aphros Phaunus Loureiro 2017 - September 2019 Decanter review

Founded in 2002, Aphros is a project designed to combine ecological and economical aspects to create true sustainability. Their belief is that nature and labor should combine in a meaningful way and they seek to capture this through biodynamic viticulture, letting the uniqueness of the land shine through the fruit for inimitable wines. Loureiro and Vinhão have grown in these vineyards for centuries and serve as the reference point for the region.

The grapes are sourced from the Lima sub-region and the vines of Casal do Paço are situated in a south facing amphitheater north of the Lima River on gentle slopes with cool Atlantic breezes.

The winemaking is traditional, taking place in the basement beneath the main house. The cave is buried and naturally cool and damp. They once again straddle the line between modern and traditional character with the addition of modern stainless steel equipment and traditional open top lagars, granite stone tanks, for red wine production.

To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine from Aphros, please click on the blue link below.

Aphros Phaunus Loureiro 2018 - fiche technique

This unique reading of the lively Loureiro grape replaces its usual perfume with earthy, baked apple aromas and adds a fine but grippy seam of tannins into what is a savoury yet quite electrifying wine.

ABV = 11.5%. 

£21.30

Balfour Hush Heath Estate Leslies Reserve NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition panel tasting of English Sparkling Wine ("English Fizz") (see blue link below).

Balfour-Hush Heath Estate, Leslie's Reserve NV - January 2020 Decanter review

Balfour - Hush Heath Estate, situated in Kent, dates back to 1503. At the heart of the property is a Tudor manor surrounded by 162 hectares of perfectly manicured oak forests, vineyards, and apple orchards. Forward-thinking Richard Balfour-Lynn first planted vineyards on the property in 2002, with the aim of making England's finest sparkling rosé. Today, the 25 hectares of vineyards and eight hectares of apple trees are meticulously and sustainably managed by a family of viticulturists. The wines and cider, some named after Richard’s family, are made from estate grown fruit by winemakers Owen Elias and Victoria Ash. Owen is a four-time UK Vineyards Association 'Winemaker of the Year' winner and has nearly 20 years of experience making English wines. In the summer of 2018, Balfour - Hush Heath Estate opened their new state-of-the-art winery and cellar door tasting room.

The flagship Brut Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, which spends over three years on its lees. The result is a crisp rosé with balanced red berry fruit, richness from the lees ageing and elegance from the restrained dosage. The non-vintage 'Leslie's Reserve' offers great value for an English sparkling wine. It is made from the same three grape varieties as Brut Rosé and is aged on its lees for 15 months. It is fruity and appealing, with lovely roundness on the palate and a refreshing acidity on the finish. The Blanc de Blancs is only produced in very small quantities and only in the finest vintages. The wine spends 30 months on its lees which adds depth and complexity. It is a clean vibrant style with crisp acidity and a wonderful lightness.

The Estate’s still wines, known as the ‘Family Collection’, are a real discovery. ‘Skye's English White’, a blend based on 55% Chardonnay, has a lively citrus fruit character on the palate and racy acidity that is balanced by good depth on the mid-palate. The beautifully pale ‘Nanette's English Rose’ is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier, which gives it a citrus edge. ‘Luke’s Pinot Noir’ is an elegant red, with ripe and soft tannins, beautifully balanced acidity and juicy red fruit and spice notes. ‘Liberty’s Bacchus’ is a new addition to the list, made from grapes from the Foxwood vineyard, the highest point on the estate. A proportion of the wine underwent fermentation in barrel with wild yeasts, resulting in a lovely toasty complexity balanced by zesty acidity. The Springfield Chardonnay is the first still Chardonnay that Balfour has made since 2015. Made exclusively from fruit from the marvellous 2018 vintage, with careful use of new French and American oak, this wine showcases the huge potential of English still wines. With a bright straw complexion and a fresh palate of grapefruit and green apple, this wine is drinking beautifully now but also has the capacity to age elegantly.

All vineyards are located on the 400 acre estate in the heart of Kent. Wealden clay soils overlay Tunbridge Wells sand. Vines are trellised using the double guyot method with vertical shot positioning. Planting density is 3300 vines per hectare and the whole estate is managed sustainably.

The grapes for this non-vintage (NV) wine are usually harvested in October.

The grapes were whole bunch pressed and then fermented at 16°C in stainless steel. Secondary fermentation took place in bottle and the wine aged on its lees for 15 months. The grapes are all grown, fermented and bottled on the Estate.

Residual sugar = 19g/l (ie this is just a Sec).

55% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier.

A golden colour with pink highlights, Leslie's Reserve is a fresh and vibrant style with an expressive and fruity character of citrus, green apple and a creamy mousse. It has a lovely roundness on the palate, refreshing acidity on the finish and complexity derived from the lees ageing.

ABV = 12.0%.

£27.75

Bergerie du Capucin Larmanela blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

** NOW IN STOCK! **

La Bergerie du Capucin (LBdC) extends over more than 15 hectares on Pic Saint Loup land in the communes of Lauret and Valflaunès. For LBdC, wine is a family affair, its beauty and bouquet reflecting the values transmitted from generation to generation. The original Bergerie stands only a few km from the vineyard and modern winery. Jeanne, a beautiful shepherdess on the high plains of the Bergerie du Capucin - inspire their first wine, reminding  of the delicate, round characteristics of our family wines and the hill paths she trod each day.

At up to 650 metres in altitude and ~30 kilometres from the Mediterranean - on the first spurs of the Cevennes and Massif Central - the Pic Saint Loup appellation abounds with the perfume and purity of the most northern (and among the most elevated) of the Languedoc appellations; holm oaks, garrigue scrubland, pines, thyme, laurel and rosemary. Fruit springs to life from the heart of varied soils, chalky-clay on marly sub-soils, and forge their character over contrasting seasons. In winter, the soil receives enough water to balance out the moderately dry summer and the huge - but crucial - swings in temperature between day and night. The exacting and contrasting Pic Saint Loup land, its soil types and climate, are all reflected in the traits of the wines of Pic St-Loup. 

See this excellent article by Andrew Jefford - from Decanter (www.decanter.com) in October 2017 - for far more detail on both Bergerie du Capucin and the Pic St Loup appellation.

For BdC's white rarity and show-stopper, see the blue link below for the fiche technique/technical and tasting note from the team at Bergerie du Capucin.

The Larmanela blanc is released under the banner of IGP of Saint Guilhem le Désert, rather than under an AOP/AOC (the Pic St Loup AOC does not (currently) allow white wines). 

Bergerie du Capucin Larmanela blanc, Pic St Loup - fiche technique

Additional note from discussion with winemaker Guilhem: Elevage in 225-litre barriques. Only 4 barriques are produced each year. Those 4 actual barrels are all from the same cooper, of ages/uses thus: one new, one used-once, one used-twice, one used-thrice. The contents of the four barriques are then blended for the <1000 bottles of Larmanela blanc made each year. 

100% Chardonnay.

ABV = 13.5%.

£24.95

Bergerie du Capucin, Larmanela rouge, Pic St Loup 2017 (1x75cl)

** NOW IN STOCK!! **

** THE MULTI-AWARD-WINNING (see below) 2016 VINTAGE SOLD OUT IN VERY SHORT ORDER. REASON: BY THE TIME THE DWWA19 RESULTS WERE ANNOUNCED, IT HAD ALREADY SOLD HEAVILY IN FRANCE AND THE USA ON THE MERIT OF MANY OTHER AWARDS. 

ONCE AGAIN, IT IS LIKELY THAT THIS WINE - THE 2017 VINTAGE - WILL VANISH EVERYWHERE BEFORE IT REACHES THE (DELAYED) MAIN AWARDS OF THE YEAR. **

 ___

See here for more on this new 2017 vintage ...

... and here for details of the 'original' 2016, quality in Languedoc reds and the DWWA award (click link for details).

___

See here for awards for this wine and also for others from La Bergerie du Capucin (click link for details).

___

The 2017 vintage was awarded both Platinum and Best in Show medals and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

___

La Bergerie du Capucin (LBdC) extends over more than 15 hectares on Pic Saint Loup land in the communes of Lauret and Valflaunès. For LBdC, wine is a family affair, its beauty and bouquet reflecting the values transmitted from generation to generation. The original Bergerie stands only a few km from the vineyard and modern winery. Jeanne, a beautiful shepherdess on the high plains of the Bergerie du Capucin - inspire their first wine, reminding  of the delicate, round characteristics of our family wines and the hill paths she trod each day.

At up to 650 metres in altitude and ~30 kilometres from the Mediterranean - on the first spurs of the Cevennes and Massif Central - the Pic Saint Loup appellation abounds with the perfume and purity of the most northern (and among the most elevated) of the Languedoc appellations; holm oaks, garrigue scrubland, pines, thyme, laurel and rosemary. Fruit springs to life from the heart of varied soils, chalky-clay on marly sub-soils, and forge their character over contrasting seasons. In winter, the soil receives enough water to balance out the moderately dry summer and the huge - but crucial - swings in temperature between day and night. The exacting and contrasting Pic Saint Loup land, its soil types and climate, are all reflected in the traits of the wines of Pic St-Loup. 

See this excellent article by Andrew Jefford - from Decanter (www.decanter.com) in October 2017 - for far more detail on both Bergerie du Capucin and the Pic St Loup appellation.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the team at Bergerie du Capucin

Bergerie du Capucin Larmanela rouge, Pic St Loup - fiche technique

Additional note from discussion with winemaker: those barrels are 100% French eco-responsible oak: one-third new, one-third single-use and one-third double-use. The Larmanela draws from BdC's oldest and finest Syrah vines.

99%+ Syrah, tiny balance of Grenache.

For our tasting note, we hand over to the DWWA19 judges (of the 2016 vintage):

"Pic St Loup is one of the coolest and wettest zones of Languedoc, which is one reason why it's such a great zone for Syrah; its stony limestone soils, too, privilege the perfumed side of Syrah's character. Roll the two attributes up, and you have the groundwork to create a wine like this: spellbinding Syrah scents in southern French style (forget blackcurrants, think citrus grove perfumes) infusing a wine of huge charm which would most properly be described as a midweight. The acidity is softly supportive, as are the tannins in which you can discern just a little thyme flower perfume; any oak is all but invisible. Gorgeous stuff. Drink 2019-2024".

See also this tasting video (1'18") of the 2015 vintage.

ABV = 14.5%.

£24.95

Bertani Catullo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition's panel tasting of Valpolicella Ripassos (see blue link below).

Bertani Catullo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2016 - May 2020 Decanter review

We have created a 3-minute video tasting of this Ripasso.

In 1957, the Bertani family bought the Tenuta Novare, a unique place in the heart of the Valpolicella Classica area. The estate is situated in a green hollow, in a sort of natural amphitheatre, where the vineyards alternate with woods and lush nature. It is an extraordinary land where constant water is guaranteed by 7 natural springs. Amarone Bertani wouldn’t be the authentic and distinctive wine we know today, if this unique place didn’t exist.

Tenuta Novare has a continuous and unusual alternation of soils: clay at the bottom of the valley, calcareous soils rich in iron and manganese and soils rich in basalt, ideal for producing grapes destined to making great red wines.

The mild climate, as shown by the presence of cypresses and olive trees, defines this welcoming and noble profile of Valpolicella.

From this same site, the Catullo Ripasso is produced, an elegant, balanced and harmonious wine with a classic style made with the second fermentation ripasso technique.

70% Corvina Veronese, 20% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella.

For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Bertani Catullo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore 2016 - fiche technique

This is a wine of medium body, with gentle spicy notes of vanilla and chocolate and the typical notes of cherry, black cherry and white pepper. On the palate, freshness and drinkability (typical of Valpolicella) combine with a silky tannic structure and an intense aromatic persistence, more typical of Amarone. Fresh, soft and sapid finish.

Exel note: it has a markedly lower residual sugar level than many ripassos.

ABV = 13.0%.

£34.40

Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com(see blue link below).

Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 - August 2017 Decanter review

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

The grapes come from the Barossa Valley, in South Australia. Situated at a latitude of 34° South, the region is made up of rolling hills and valley floors. The growing season often sees hot, warm weather with temperatures of 35°C, which can result in vine stress, helping to concentrate the flavours in the berries. The wide diurnal temperature differences help to retain balancing acidity. Some of the grapes come from Berton's original vineyard in the Eden Valley, where the climate is cooler. The vine age is varied, but all vines have been spur pruned and are generally trained on a single wire cordon trellising system. The vines are planted at approximately 1.8 metres apart with 3.6 metres between the rows, to allow machinery access. The soil styles in the vineyards are varied, ranging from clay, to limestone and sandy soils, with each terroir adding its own characteristic to the final wine.

In 2017, the vineyard saw a wet winter followed by mild summer conditions, which provided the vines with good access to water and a long ripening period. This combination resulted in a great season. Cool nights allowed excellent flavour development in the grapes resulting in wines with concentrated flavours and balancing acidity. Harvesting took place during the last few days of April and first week of May.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular skin submersion in order to extract the required colour and flavour from the grapes. After fermentation, the wine was pressed off into stainless steel tanks where it completed malolactic fermentation in the late autumn. The wine was then racked off into both French and American oak barrels resulting in a rich, spicy complex Shiraz.

Shiraz 100%.

The Reserve Shiraz is deepest dark red with a very youthful and vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe black cherries and blackberries with hints of eucalypt and spice. The rich and full palate displays soft flavours of plum skin, mulberry and hints of vanilla and blackberry, These abundant flavours are underpinned by fine vanilla from the oak and defined by exciting spicy tannins.

ABV = 14.5%.

£14.25

Berton Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 96 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of New World Cabernet Sauvignons (see blue link below) in which it emerged as the runaway Number One.

Berton Reserve 2014 - April 2017 Decanter review

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard is one of Hallgarten's most important partners. The estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

Good winter rainfall was a perfect start to the 2016 growing season. Above average temperatures resulted in early budburst with most varieties. The mild to warm and dry conditions continued with good rainfall in both November and December producing ideal conditions for véraison. February saw the arrival of hot dry weather and with no rainfall or disease pressure, ripening accelerated rapidly resulting in an early harvest for the reds. The 2016 reds are stand outs - rich ripe juicy wines with great length and great depth of colour.

The grapes come from two parcels of fruit within the same vineyard, in the prized Terra Rossa region of Coonawarra. One block is on a slightly more elevated area of the vineyard, which produces more subtle fruit characters. The warm days are moderated by off-shore breezes and the rich red loam over free draining limestone soil is the foundations for the Coonawarra's justified reputation for producing premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The grapes were fermented in stainless vertical sweep arm fermenters for 10 days between 22 ° and 28°C on premium French oak until dry. Each parcel of wine was then pressed at 0.5 Baumé through a bag press and clarified via centrifuge into stainless steel storage tanks. The parcels were then transferred into new and old French (90%) and American (10%) oak barrels for 12 months. Only the best parcels were selected and carefully blended to arrive at this exceptional wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon 99%, Shiraz 1%.

This shows intense and generous black fruit aromas with hints of chocolate, eucalyptus and mint. The Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet has an impenetrable black colour with a vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe blackcurrant and blackberries with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The rich and harmonious palate displays abundant flavours of prune, plum jam and mint, underpinned by fine toasty French oak and defined by a soft yet dense tannin profile.

ABV = 14.5%.

£13.75

Bodega Garzon Reserva Albarino 2018 (1x75cl)

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).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition feature on Uruguay  (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Category (Best Central South American White) at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2016 - 2017 DWWA Decanter review

Bodega Garzón is a family owned winery in Maldonado on the Atlantic coast in southern Uruguay. They pioneered viticulture in this area over 10 years ago, and have since become the standard-bearer for premium wines from Uruguay. In November 2018, their pioneering status was recognised by Wine Enthusiast with the ‘New World Winery of the Year’ award. The vineyards at Bodega Garzón are a patchwork quilt of 1,150 individual plots of around 0.2 hectares in size, each plot carefully chosen for a specific variety according to its soil and microclimate. The winery is specially designed to operate as sustainably as possible, and is the first winery outside North America to pursue LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Built on natural terraces, the winery uses cutting-edge technology and operates using a gravity system to ensure quality and energy efficiency at every stage of production.

Located 11 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the estate has more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering hillside slopes, which benefit from varying microclimates, different levels of humidity and an intense canopy management. Well-draining granitic soils and cooling Atlantic breezes allow the grapes to ripen steadily. The vineyards are surrounded by lush forests, palm trees, rocky soils and granite boulders. This single vineyard Tannat comes from a site which is cooler than the other blocks on the estate, with steep slopes, thin soils and excellent drainage thanks to the predominance of ballast in the upper layers.

A relatively mild winter brought forward bud break by about two weeks. There were average levels of rainfall in spring and early summer, however the drought which followed in January caused a severe water shortage. Therefore the viticultural team used drip irrigation, thus ensuring perfect maturation in the grapes. Despite the water shortage and subsequent irrigation measures, veraison was uniform. Optimum maturation was also aided by the cooler nights which are becoming more common in the region. The wines from this vintage, with its early start and generally favourable climatic conditions, are elegant and fruit forward.

The hand-harvested grapes were pressed before being fermented in stainless-steel tanks at a cool 17ºC for two weeks. The wine then spent a further 3-6 months on lees for added complexity.

For full details of this unusual but superb wine, we would point you towards Garzon's own, excellent fiche technique/data sheet (click here).

100% Albariño/Alvarinho.

Pale yellow with a green hue, this Albariño is intense on the nose with peach and citrus aromas. The freshness and minerality on the midpalate is superb, ably supported by a remarkable acidity which frames the juicy fruit on the crisp finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£15.75
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