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Decanter Sept 2018


 

The September 2018 edition of Decanter (www.decanter.com) - released 27th July - is a big one for us: 30 featured wines, almost all over 90 points, plenty above the Outstanding 95-point threshold and across a number of styles, geographies and articles.

Read on for the full details.

In a hurry just to buy? The full clickable/buyable catalogue of wines from this edition appears at the foot of this page.

For our full compendium of over 300 Decanter-rated wines fom the last two years, please click here.

For September's edition, we're mainly about the white wine blind tasting/panel review... and we know this one will be popular with our Decanter-hound customers. And that's because it's a New Zealand feature: these are always exciting and a severe test of whether our website can cope with the weight of demand.

The review in question is (what Decanter snappily entitle) "NZ's Alternative Whites". Fear not, this is not an excursion into the outer reaches of white wine esoteria and unknown grape varieties (they did Greece last month, after all). Put simply, Decanter mean "NZ whites that aren't Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay" (both of which they have reviewed recently). In case it’s not obvious, that's a lot of very fine grape varieties and wine styles indeed: warm-climate varieties from North Island (Viognier, Marsanne, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer) and cool-climate specials from South Island (Pinot Gris, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner .... there's even the odd Albariño).

(map from Decanter)

Of course, these are all grapes more closely and originally associated with places a long way from NZ. However, those of you that have tried NZ versions of the above will know just how excellent they typically are. If there's one thing that characterises NZ wines, their rise to fame/ success and (it logically follows) their popularity with our discerning customer base, it's just how very well they're made. Put another way: while there may be very few bargain offerings (although there's one wee cracker below), one very seldom finds Kiwi Tat. (WSET Diploma candidates will recognise this as the grist of question 2 from June's evil Unit 3 theory paper).

That quality is fully reflected in the panel results. It's rare to see a review that throws forth eight Outstanding/95-point(+) wines (although this one, quite rightly, broke all the records). But that's what we have here. Of those Outstandings, we're delighted to be able to offer five of them, plus another four on 94, 93 or 92 points (and here, in our view, are some really super wines that might get overlooked by the zealous Top Score Hunter) ... making some 18 high-scorers overall. What's more, a good number of these will leave you with change from £15. We're also particularly pleased to see wines and producers that we've long championed (read as: "see, we told you so").

Enough scene-setting: what exactly is all the buzz about? 

In the order they appear in the review:

  • Ata Rangi Lismore Pinot Gris 2017, Martinborough (95 points) - a rich Pinot Gris from one of the Martinborough greats (perhaps most famed for their red Pinots, eg their Crimson, which are ever-popular here). However, stocks in the UK are woefully tight and the vintage is already expired at the winery, so we've had to limit to two bottles per customer, and even these won't last long, alas. However, Pinot Gris is perhaps the best represented variety in the review, and there are plenty of excellent, high-scoring alternatives below, such as...
  • Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2015, Central Otago (95 points) - another Pinot Gris gem - and an unusually aromatic one for a grape more famed for its intensity of flavour rather than of aroma - from one of South Island's most exalted boutique/artisan producers (click here for their excellent website and see also their Pinots(s) Noirs). Looking for something to cellar and develop into something really special? This is perhaps the finest contender here (which is not to say you shouldn't drink it when it arrives). If you've any questions over its pedigree, bear in mind that this is one of the matched wines on the degustation menu at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck... although the price here is definitely 'a bit less Heston'.

  • Te Kairanga Riesling 2016, Martinborough (95 points) - in a world of very few certainties, this will undoubtedly be the big-seller of this review... not because it's any 'better' than its 95-point peers, but because it's quite incredible value at just £12.50. If there's a wine here on which to Max Out (especially given how very well it will age), it's this one. It's the sister of the Te Kairanga Runholder Pinot Noir which was a Best in Show at last year's DWWAs, and TK's superb Riesling is the stand-out buy of this tasting.

  • The luxury (= pricier) choice is - and the honourable mention for the wackiest label goes to - the Burn Cottage Riesling-Grüner Veltliner 2015 from Central Otago (95 points). At £40+, it won't be for everybody ... but it is £40+ for a very good reason: Burn Cottage's adherence to the very highest vinegrowing and winemaking standards. The result: a wine that very few other producers would dare to grow. Of all the wines in the tasting, this one draws the most respect from the panel, and those seeking a wine that breaks the mould will find what they want with this.
  • Trinity Hill Marsanne-Viognier 2016, Hawke's Bay (95 points) - completing the Outstanding quintet is this fascinating, opulent, Rhône-a-like blend from the reknowned Gimblett Gravels and one of North Island's greats (known best for their Bordeaux blends and Syrahs).  This is a wonderfully rich and full-bodied wine, given the full winemaking treatment (barrel fermentation, lees ageing), yielding a complexity that will only improve with time in the bottle. It's a fairly leftfield inclusion in this line-up (reflecting the very low proliferation into the New World of Marsanne), but is super-worthy or your time.

We'll say it again: we really recommend not focussingly solely on the above five, as to do would be to miss some incredible wines at great prices. The top end of the Highly Recommendeds includes:

  • Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 (94 points) and Riverpoint Viognier 2015, both from Gisborne (93 points). We adore Millton's wines: made biodynamically, with great care and in small quantities. They are the very essence of intensity and concentration of flavour. <Indeed, while it doesn't qualify for this review, you really should try their superb Opou Chardonnay>. The Viognier is described by Denise at our shop as "very thought-provoking" ... which is a pretty fair way to assess its impressive body, length and intensity. The Chenin is every bit as exciting. NB, though, that the reviewed 2016 vintage of the Chenin doesn't arrive at the UK importer until early September - we can, for now, only offer joining a waiting list for a few weeks: we'd been expecting it to be in the UK by the time Decanter came to press.

Beyond these, all of the

are 91-pointers and far better than the case-filling status that they may assume in this company.

To wrap up on matters on matters New Zealand, we'd remind that that is a review that excludes Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, you, dear Customerneed not exclude them from your buying. Forced to choose just one NZ SB or Chardonnay, we'd go for/advise the DWWA 2018 Best in Show (97 points) Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and the Trinity Hills Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2016 (92 points in Feb 2018 Decanter, 91 points/Silver at DWWA18).

Elsewhere in the edition, you'll find:

Finally, the Decanter World Wine Award 2018 (DWWA18) winners were announced quite some weeks ago, but it's in this September edition that Decanter bring them to press in a chunky supplement. You'll find our ever-expanding offering (25 wines and growing) of the big award winners here and do note that this selection is subject to constant change as new wines arrive into the UK and others sell through!

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Prophets Rock Pinot Gris 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding 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)...

Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from one particular reviewer...

Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

Founded in 1999 by Mike and Angela Mulvey, Prophet’s Rock is one of New Zealand’s most exciting producers, creating premium, artisan wines in Central Otago. Committed to showcasing the characteristics of their vineyard sites in the Pisa and Bendigo sub-regions, their vineyard-focused approach combined with minimal intervention in the winery, is creating world class wines of great structure, elegance and complexity, with considerable ageing potential. Taking its name from a prominent local landmark in Central Otago, named after pioneering goldminer ‘Bob Prophet’, the winery is a beacon of quality winemaking in the region thanks to its world renowned winemaker Paul Pujol. 

Please click the blue link below to see Prophet's Rock's excellent information and tasting note for this wine.

Prophet's Rock Pinot Gris 2017 - fiche technique

100% Pinot Gris.

Wonderfully aromatic example of top Pinot Gris. Fantastic fruit and spice aromas, concentrated with a long dry finish. Complex, an absolute pleasure and shows what Pinot Gris in Central Otago is capable of.

ABV = 13.0%.

£26.40

Te Kairanga Riesling 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding 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).

Te Kairanga Riesling 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Te Kairanga is one of the oldest and best-positioned vineyards in Martinborough. Its vineyards are located on free-draining land once owned by the founding father of Martinborough, John Martin. In the late 1800s. John Martin laid out the first streets of Martinborough in the pattern of the Union Flag naming them after places he had visited: as a result the best streets to take to reach the Te Kairanga vineyards from the town square include Oxford, Cork, Regent and New York. 

For chief winemaker John Kavanagh there is nothing more important than endeavouring to produce wines that display the characteristics of their vineyard source.  The motto at Te Kairanga is "We strive to ensure that each wine we produce shows a clear sense of place."

Constructed in 2002, the state-of-the-art winery at Te Kairanga is the perfect spot for their estate-grown fruit to become great quality wine. With multiple small fermenters and a mechanical gravity system, the winemaking team can preserve vineyard and varietal integrity by handling the fruit in the gentlest way possible.

See blue link below for more detail, via the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Te Kairanga.

Te Kairanga Riesling 2018 - fiche technique

This Riesling is a brilliant lime gold colour with aromas of jasmine, meadow flowers, citrus and peaches. Enticing ripe Meyer lemon, floral and mineral flavours lead to a refreshing, zingy finish.

ABV = 11.5%.

£12.65

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding 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)...

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from two of the reviewers...

Burn Cottage Riesling/Gruner Veltliner 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

Burn Cottage refers to the name of a road on which the 24 hectare property sits in Central Otago. The estate was once a sheep paddock until its purchase by Marquis Sauvage in 2002. Marquis brought on board Ted Lemon of Littorai as their winemaker and in 2003, they started planting Pinot Noir. Six years later, they released their first wine.

The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner vines account for just over one hectare of total plantings at Burn Cottage, the only part of the vineyard which is not planted with Pinot Noir. At the time of planting back in 2007, the aspect of this particular plot did not suit Pinot Noir, so they decided to plant these two aromatic white varieties instead. The first crop was harvested in 2014. As with the Pinot Noir, the vines have been cultivated biodynamically from day one, Ted Lemon’s one stipulation for his involvement.

Less rain during winter and a very windy October meant vine growth started off slowly. Some frost fighting was required, however, no damage was sustained. The weather warmed considerably to above average temperatures throughout spring enabling healthy vine growth and a favourably short flowering. Central Otago had fantastic summer weather and very warm nights at times, so the season quickly caught up to normal timing and maturity progressed well. Cooler periods in February did not change the overall flow of the season and harvest took place at the usual time during March and April 2015.

The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner were harvested separately at different times and were subsequently crushed, pressed and fermented separately. The Riesling was crushed by foot to soak the berries in juice. The Grüner Veltliner underwent the same methods of production but spent only 48 hours in contact with the skins. Static settling took place overnight and the wines were racked off the gross lees. The wines were fermented in stainless steel vats and rested in old oak barriques for 11 months.

54% Riesling, 46% Grüner Veltliner.

The Grüner Veltliner component in the blend offers attractive aromas of beeswax and white pepper coupled with a zesty lime flower, chamomile and lemon curd from the Riesling. The wine is rich on the palate but is well-balanced with bright acidity. The finish has a lovely energy and lingers on the palate.

ABV = 13.0%.

£43.55

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Marsanne Viognier 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding 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).

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Marsanne Viognier 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... and comments from one particular reviewer...

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Marsanne Viognier 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

Since its inception in 1993, John Hancock (who has been making wine in New Zealand for over 35 years), in conjunction with his partners Robert and Robyn Wilson, have made Trinity Hill a byword for quality and consistency. Winemaker Warren Gibson has been with Trinity Hill since 1997. He is in charge of the 80 hectares of vineyard owned by Trinity Hill, of which 47 hectares are in the Gimblett Gravels. Trinity Hill wines have an elegance, balance, drinkability and precision of flavour. This estate was one of the first to plant grapes on the Gimblett Gravels in 1993.

The Marsanne and Viognier grapes come from deep, free draining gravel soils in the microclimate of the Gimblett Gravels region. The soils were deposited by the Ngaruroro River as it changed course over many thousands of years. Their low fertility and excellent drainage give small crops of grapes with highly concentrated flavours and aromas.

2017 was a remarkable vintage in Hawkes Bay. A moderate spring with low frost risk and generally good flowering led to an extremely dry and warm summer, recording above average temperatures in January and February before rainy weather came in late February followed by humid conditions with heavy rainfall from March to May.

Hand-harvested fruit was gently whole-bunch pressed and then immediately transferred to barrel. The indigenous fermentation took place in a range of aged French oak barrels but with no new oak component. After ageing on the lees in barrel for 14 months, including malolactic fermentation, the wine was blended and then bottled in July 2016. Barrel fermentation and lees ageing add richness and complexity, however no obvious oak character is sought.

53% Marsanne, 47% Viognier.

The Viognier provides exotic aromatics of apricot, musk and jasmine and a luscious mouth-feel. Marsanne provides gentle honeysuckle flavours as well as structure and tension to balance the fullness of the Viognier. The exotic nature of this wine makes it a great substitute for Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.

ABV = 13.0%.

£21.70

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 94 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)...

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

... with comments from one particular reviewer...

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review - individual comments

James Millton is a living legend in the New Zealand wine scene. A pioneer of organic and biodynamic winemaking, he has ploughed his own furrow for three decades, quietly convinced that his sustainable approach to viticulture and winemaking was the only way to progress.

The Millton winery's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

Millton Te Arai Chenin Blanc 2017 – fiche technique

100% Chenin Blanc. 

ABV = 12.0%.

£18.40

Millton Riverpoint Viognier 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 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)...

Millton Riverpoint Viognier 2015 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

James Millton is a living legend in the New Zealand wine scene. A pioneer of organic and biodynamic winemaking, he has ploughed his own furrow for three decades, quietly convinced that his sustainable approach to viticulture and winemaking was the only way to progress.  

The Millton winery's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

100% Viognier.

Millton Riverpoint Viognier 2016 – fiche technique

ABV = 12.5%.

£16.90

Prophets Rock Dry Riesling 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 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)...

Prophet's Rock Dry Riesling 2014 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Founded in 1999 by Mike and Angela Mulvey, Prophet’s Rock is one of New Zealand’s most exciting producers, creating premium, artisan wines in Central Otago. Committed to showcasing the characteristics of their vineyard sites in the Pisa and Bendigo sub-regions, their vineyard-focused approach combined with minimal intervention in the winery, is creating world class wines of great structure, elegance and complexity, with considerable ageing potential. Taking its name from a prominent local landmark in Central Otago, named after pioneering goldminer ‘Bob Prophet’, the winery is a beacon of quality winemaking in the region thanks to its world renowned winemaker Paul Pujol. 

Please click the blue link below to see Prophet's Rock's excellent information and tasting note for this wine.

Prophet's Rock Dry Riesling 2014 - fiche technique

100% Riesling. 

Wonderful aromatics, rich, complex, fresh, sheer pleasure and a fine illustration of what Riesling in Central Otago is capable of.

ABV = 11.5%.

£26.65

Saint Clair (Origin) Viognier 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 Vintage was awarded 92 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)...

Saint Clair (Origin) Viognier 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Neal and Judy Ibbotson were pioneers in the Marlborough wine industry, first planting vineyards in the valley in 1978 and then establishing Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994. They own 160 hectares of vineyard in 10 different Marlborough locations chosen specifically for the attributes of their individual "terroir" and ability to produce top quality grapes. Neal Ibbotson combines his extensive expertise in viticulture with the talent of one of New Zealand's leading winemaking teams led by Hamish Clark. Since 1994, when wines from the first vintage all won medals including gold, the name Saint Clair has been synonymous with quality and its award-winning record continues today. This is a sentiment shared by Bob Campbell MW, who says “Saint Clair now makes the country’s and perhaps the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc”.

The grapes for this wine are grown in Saint Clair's vineyard in the Gimblett Gravels region of Hawkes Bay. The 10 year old vines are planted on the stoniest part of the vineyard. These stony soils are vigour moderating free-draining soils, ideal for growing Viognier. The vines are trained using the VSP Guyot system there is reasonably high exposure as a result, reflected in the ripeness of the wine. The grapes are harvested in the cool of the night, preserving the varietal characteristics.

Flowering conditions in December were perfect, followed by the hottest temperatures Marlborough has experienced in January. February produced a month of rainfall. Despite these challenging weather conditions, the fruit ripened well - 10 days earlier than usual. Effective methods of canopy management and cropping levels; and extended dry periods in March kept the vines healthy. Lower yields produced ripe and intensely flavoured fruit in 2018.

The grapes were harvested at optimal ripeness, pressed and the must settled. Fermentation took place in stainless tanks with carefully selected yeast to enhance the varietal characters. The wine was left on the yeast lees imparting texture and complexity to the resulting wine.

This wine is 100% Viognier.

An elegant wine displaying prominent notes of peach, apricot kernel and fragrant orange blossom laced with impressions of spice. Rich and textured on the palate this complex Viognier delivers flavours of apricot, burnt orange, savoury pastry and French fruit tart. A weighty mid palate leads to a subtle spicy note on the finish. The perfect accompaniment to chargrilled chicken and pumpkin risotto.

ABV = 13.5%.

£13.30

Tinpot Hut McKee Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2017 (1x75cl)

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).

Tinpot Hut McKee Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Tinpot Hut wines are made primarily from fruit grown on winemaker Fiona Turner's vineyard in Blind River. Fiona, who has worked with Matt Thomson for a number of years, supplements her own grapes with fruit from other growers in Marlborough and Hawkes Bay. The tinpot hut that gave its name to Fiona's wines is an old mustering hut in the remote hills between the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. The huts were used as a base for musterers as they rounded up the sheep that had been in the hills from spring to autumn. The name links Marlborough's past as a sheep farming centre with its current state as one of the world's most dynamic wine regions.

Winemakers Matt Thomson and Fiona Turner were looking for a cool climate variety with striking aromatic qualities supported by firm acid structure to add to the Tinpot Hut range. They soon became convinced of the potential for Grüner Veltliner in Marlborough and convinced two local growers to plant a few rows. The grapes for this single vineyard wine were grown by the McKee family in the Blind River sub-region of the Awatere Valley.

2017 was a challenging vintage for wine growers as conditions were wetter and cooler than usual. This reduced yields by approximately 9% compared to 2016. It also pushed harvest dates back for all varieties. The final wines are more restrained on the nose and the palate but still display distinctive varietal characteristics.

Careful vineyard management during the growing season ensured the grapes were kept in balance to allow even and optimal ripening. Once the flavours of the grapes reached their peak, whole bunches were hand picked to minimise phenolics from the skins. Precise press-cuts ensured that only the less phenolic free run juice was used in the finished wine. After settling, the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures to retain fruit character and freshness.

100% Grüner Veltliner.

This Grüner Veltliner has delicate aromas of orange blossom and citrus blended with hints of sweet floral honeysuckle. It has great texture with a full mouth feel. Flavours of white peach mingle well with the subtle peppery spice notes. Mineral complexity gives this wine a clean and crisp appeal. The balance of the fruit, acidity and phenolics work very well together and lead to a long dry finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£15.95

Urlar Pinot Gris 2017 (1x75cl)

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).

Urlar Pinot Gris 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

(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 this blog on Urlar, especially regarding their organic credentials.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Urlar Pinot Gris 2017 - fiche technique

ABV = 12.5%.

£14.45

Yealands Estate Black Label Gruner Veltliner 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage of this wine was awarded 90 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)...

Yealands Estate Black Label Grüner Veltliner 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

When Peter Yealands shared his vision to become the world’s most sustainable wine producer, he already knew that the only way to craft truly beautiful, award-winning wines was in partnership with nature, and that compromising his deeply-rooted sustainability values was simply not an option. Today his philosophy holds true and forms the basis of Yealands' approach to winemaking. Peter’s trademark “can do” attitude is the stuff of legend. Happiest working the land at the controls of a bulldozer or digger, Peter has a track record of making pioneering, innovative plans come to fruition.

Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley is exposed to some of the toughest growing conditions in Marlborough; high sunshine and wind, cool nights and low rainfall which produces a smaller, thicker skinned berry with intense fruit flavours. Their parcel of Grüner Veltliner is located on a sheltered north facing slope, on the Seaview vineyard. The soil is predominantly windblown loess.

The fruit was whole bunch pressed into tank to cold settle for 72 hours after which the clear juice was racked carefully, warmed and inoculated with selected yeast. A portion was transferred into 2nd and 3rd year French oak barriques and a 1000 litre French oak oval, to undergo fermentation naturally. Another small portion was fermented in a small concrete egg shaped vessel. All portions remained on lees for three months with twice weekly stirring to build the texture of the wine. The wine was blended, stabilised then filtered prior to bottling.

This wine is 100% Grüner Veltliner.

This Grüner Veltliner shows lifted notes of white pepper, citrus blossom and honey. The palate is rich and multi-layered with complementary savoury notes of pepper and spice, which integrates well with fine mineral acidity. Extremely versatile especially with Asian cuisine, seafood, chicken & pork. This wine is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets.

£14.60

Peregrine Pinot Gris 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 89 points and 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)...

Peregrine Pinot Gris 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Taking a 'hands on' approach to winemaking since 1998, the McLachlan family strive to produce wines that embody the absolute best of Central Otago. "This passion for the land runs in our family, and is a hallmark of Peregrine as a business."

The 2018 season started with an exceptionally warm spring and was followed by record heat and sunshine hours over summer. Our earliest harvest to date, rewarded with excellent ripeness and quality of fruit.

The grapes were hand harvested. The grapes underwent whole bunch fermentation which was done 90% in tank and 10% in older French oak.

100% Pinot Gris. 

Dry in style with lovely texture and fresh flavours of pear, nectarine and ripe citrus. It is perfect with Thai cuisine and dishes with chilli, garlic and ginger flavours.

ABV = 13.5%.

£19.15

Yealands Estate Black Label PGR 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 89 points and 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)...

Yealands Estate Black Label PGR 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

When Peter Yealands shared his vision to become the world’s most sustainable wine producer, he already knew that the only way to craft truly beautiful, award-winning wines was in partnership with nature, and that compromising his deeply-rooted sustainability values was simply not an option. Today his philosophy holds true and forms the basis of Yealands' approach to winemaking. Peter’s trademark “can do” attitude is the stuff of legend. Happiest working the land at the controls of a bulldozer or digger, Peter has a track record of making pioneering, innovative plans come to fruition.

Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley is exposed to some of the toughest growing conditions in Marlborough; high sunshine and wind, cool nights and low rainfall which produces a smaller, thicker skinned berry with intense fruit flavours.  The cool site regularly commences harvest up to one week later than other sub regions of Marlborough. All three aromatic varieties sit on sheltered, north facing slopes. The soil is predominantly wind blown loess. 

Three aromatic parcels; Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, were selected and harvested together. The fruit was crushed, de-stemmed then gently pressed, with the free run juice going to a stainless tank and the pressings portion going to a 1000L French oak oval and a selection of old French oak barriques. The free run juice in the stainless steel tank was settled for 72hrs and then the clear juice was then racked off to another stainless tank for a long cool fermentation to enhance the pure fruit flavours. The pressings portion in oak went through a natural fermentation and the french oak oval and barrels were stirred twice weekly post fermentation to develop structure and texture. Upon achieving a finely balanced blend, the wine was stabilised and filtered prior to bottling.

Brimming with concentrated notes of lychee and pear, underlying flavours of lime and mandarin and a touch of spice and ginger. The palate shows good fruit concentration, and a wonderful balance between texture, fruit weight and acidity, with a bright citrus finish.  Beautifully matched with all Asian cuisine, seafood, chicken and pork dishes.  This wine is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets.

£13.90

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve half bottle (1x37.5cl)

Awarded 91 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 89 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV - December 2019 Decanter review

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 Brut Reserve - Sept 2018 Decanter review

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 NV champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier.

Residual sugar = 11.2g/litre.

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.

ABV = 12.0%.

£23.95

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 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 Blanc De Blancs NV - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. Founded in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, this family-owned house is the smallest of the Grandes Marques. Their size, and commitment to excellence, has been underpinned by a winemaking team that between them have been named 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge 15 times.

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs combines several of the best Chardonnay crus from three Champagne sub regions. It is made from a majority of crus from the Côte des Blancs (Oger, Vertus), completed by the Montagne de Reims (Villers-Marmery, Trépail, Vaudemange) and the very special cru of Montgueux in the northern part of the Aube, near Troyes.

After the first fermentation, the wines were racked to separate the lees and then underwent malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity and to enrich their texture. This 100% Chardonnay blend comprises 25% reserve wines with an average age of five years. All the reserve wines were aged in stainless steel vats on their fine lees. In order to achieve depth and complexity required by the house style, the Blanc de Blancs was aged for four years in Charles Heidsieck’s chalk cellars (The Crayeres), much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

Residual sugar = 10g/litre (ie Brut).

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs is a pale, crystalline gold colour. The nose is characterised by aromas of mature Chardonnay; white peach, candied citrus with notes of lime, honeysuckle and fresh hazelnuts giving way to subtle hints of tangerine and lemon. On the palate, the Blanc de Blancs bears all the hallmarks of a Charles Heidsieck Champagne: boldness, generosity and elegance. Embracing yet light, it displays appealing mineral, slightly salty, iodine notes, and has a silky, creamy texture – unexpected from a Chardonnay – that leaves a lasting impression.

ABV = 12.0%.

£58.75

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (1x150cl)

Awarded 91 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 89 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV - December 2019 Decanter review

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 Brut Reserve - Sept 2018 Decanter review

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 NV champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier.

Residual sugar = 11.2g/litre.

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.

ABV = 12.0%.

£90.60

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points/Highly Recommended status (in magnum) and 89 points/Recommended status (in bottle) by Decanter in their December 2019 panel review of Champagnes in magnum and bottle  (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV - December 2019 Decanter review

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 Brut Reserve - Sept 2018 Decanter review

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 NV champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier.

Residual sugar = 11.2g/litre.

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.

ABV = 12.0%.

£41.35

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 2004 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 97 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, Most Exciting Wines of 2019 (see blue link below).

Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires 2004 - January 2020 Decanter review

Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 98 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below)...

Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires 2004 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. Founded in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, this family-owned house is the smallest of the Grandes Marques. Their size, and commitment to excellence, has been underpinned by a winemaking team that between them have been named 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge 15 times.

Only Chardonnay is used in the blend of this exceptionally textured cuvée. The grapes are grown on vineyards found with five major Crus from the Côte des Blancs, meticulously chosen for their ability to evolve as well as for their ability to express their full richness once fully mature: Oger for its unctuousness and structure, Mesnil-sur-Oger for balance, Avize for its minerality, Cramant for its complexity and Vertus for its freshness and floral notes.

2004 was an exceptional vintage for quality and quantity. Wines from this vintage are structured, well-balanced and have exceeded all expectations.

In the 19th century, convinced that they would be an ideal place to age wine, Charles Heidsieck decided to purchase chalk cellars dating back to Gallo-Roman times, located in the historic heart of Reims. This audacious decision turned out to be a stroke of genius since these cellars proved to be a peaceful haven where the humidity and 10°C temperature remain constant. An extraordinary ageing period of almost 11 years, gives this 100% Chardonnay cuvée an unparallelled complexity and texture.

Residual sugar = 9g/litre (ie Brut).

On the nose, the Blanc des Millénaires 2004 opens with elegant notes of lemon, apple blossoms, salted butter and almonds along with a toasted, buttery nuance of crème anglaise. The palate is full of fresh citrus flavours giving the wine a taut crispness. Still youthful and taut with an elegant mousse.

ABV = 12.0%.

£150.15

Pierre Sourdais Chinon Tradition 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of Loire Reds (see blue link below)

Pierre Sourdais Chinon Tradition 2017 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Pierre Sourdais has built a reputation for the consistently high quality of his Chinon. With a plethora of different soil types on his 25-hectare property from which to choose his fruit, Pierre is able to produce wines of great character year in, year out. The Chinon Tradition, recently certified organic, is soft and supple, with ripe tannins and an elegant finish – a classic expression of Cabernet Franc.

After a manual harvesting of the grapes, the vinification takes place over 3 weeks at a controlled temperature of 25 to 30 °C. Daily pumping over promotes the alcoholic fermentation and allows for an optimal expression of the structure of the wine. The malolactic fermentation is carried out before ageing. After a few months of maturing in vats, a light filtration will be carried out before bottling in September.

This wine finds its balance from the diversity of its origins. There are subtle aromas of minerality, with a hint of flint that make the wine's complexity very attractive and enticing. The flavours are typical of this style of wine - ripe fruit and candied fruit mingle perfectly with the minerality.  It has an elegant finish and is a truly remarkable Chinon. This wine can keep for up to 8 years but is also delicious whilst young.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£13.90

Rioja Organza Blanco Reserva, Sierra Cantabria 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition expert review of white Rioja (see blue link below)...

Rioja Organza Blanco Reserva, Sierra Cantabria 2016 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Founded in 1957 by Guillermo Eguren, Sierra Cantabria is nestled in the heart of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town of great winemaking tradition, situated in a unique location between the River Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range. The Sierra Cantabria mountain range (1,200 m. of altitude) and the river Ebro (350 m.), create a special microclimate with Mediterranean and Continental characteristics - providing mild winters and gentle summers- unique for vine cultivation. Everything in the vineyard is done with respect for the environment as well as following the biorhythms of the plant. 

The grapes are harvested by hand with only the best quality grapes making it into the winery.  Further selection then happens in the winery using a sorting table.  The must is cold soaked for 14 hours prior to fermentation. It is fermented in new French oak barrels from the Vosgues area. The temperature is controlled between 14 and 16º C. This wine is fermented only using indigenous yeast selected from their vineyards.  The wine is aged for 11 months on its fine lees, with batonnage taking place twice a week during the first six months. 

The Organza Blanco 2016 is bright gold in colour. It offers a nose of tropical fruit, minerality and sweet spices. Wild herbs, beeswax, grapefruit and nutmeg spice combine appealingly on the palate here.

£19.65
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