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 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:
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:
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 Customer, need 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!
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)...
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.
ABV = 12.5%.
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)...
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 = 13.0%.
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 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%.
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)
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.
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Sierra Cantabria and which also contains the key reviews of this wine in recent vintages.
50% Viura, 30% Malvasía and 20% Garnacha Blanca.
The Organza Blanco 2017 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.
ABV = 12.5%.