Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below).
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)...
Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Pinot Gris grapes come from the Lismore Vineyard at the edge of the Martinborough Terrace and achieve their optimum flavour profile towards the end of the growing season. As a result, the team harvests this varietal fairly late to obtain a wine closer to the richer style of Pinot Gris produced in Alsace, rather than the leaner, bone-dry style of Pinot Grigio common in much of northern Italy. The vines were planted in 1996.
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.
Fruit was hand picked and whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. The resulting juice was then cold settled, inoculated with yeast and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks at temperatures of 14-18°C. 20% of the wine was fermented in three year old 500 litre oak puncheons to give extra weight and complexity to the final blend. In both cases, the wine was left on lees for several months. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place to retain a crisp, balancing acidity.
Up-front aromas in this Pinot Gris are reminiscent of fresh cut pear, custard, pecans and lychees. The palate is creamy, with flavours of fresh walnut and a hint of smoke. On the long finish, the wine shows complexity and will develop with bottle age.
Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).
"I bought six of these and unfortunately I have given three away to friends. We opened it last night and decanted as per the instructions of your shop staff. The wine is truly spectacular and I am working out how to break in to my friend's flat to steal back the wine I gave him. I have never been moved to comment on a bottle of wine by email. Thank you for the spectacular experience. Another 6 please. I won't be as generous with the next lot!"
- regular (anonymous) Perth customer [who ultimately bought another 12]
Bodegas Olarra was created in 1973. Situated on the outskirts of the city of Logroño in Rioja Alta, their winery – a Y-shaped building designed to make optimum use of the space for both production and ageing of the wine – is known as “the Cathedral of La Rioja”. From the beginning, the winery has known how to combine the traditional methods of production and ageing with the most advanced modern techniques of viticulture and vinification. A favourable geographic location, gives the vineyards all the ingredients to produce good fruits. Indeed the clay and chalky soil is watered by the rain and the Ebro river. This area also benefits from warm sunshine and the influence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. In 1978, Bodegas Olarra achieved their first Gold medal for a Cerro Añon wine in the tenth International Wines and Spirits Competition in the UK. Numerous awards followed from then on, proof of the outstanding quality of their wines.
Grapes for the Gran Reserva are drawn solely from Olarra vineyards; these are located primarily in Rioja Alta, but also in Rioja Alavesa to a lesser extent. Vines in these vineyards are all grown in the traditional way. The average age of the vines is over 30 years. Most of the vineyards sit on a clay-rich soil in Rioja Alta and on limestone-clay soils in Rioja Alavesa.
Harvests took place later than usual in 2010, well into late October, when the fruit was considered to have reached full ripeness; this slower, steadier ripening accounts for much of the quality of this harvest (generally) and the 2010 Gran Reserva (in the specific). Subsequent selection ensured that only grapes in healthy shape made it through to the vinification process. 2010 was a great year in the history of the quality of grapes on the Olarra estate.
Tempranillo 80%, Mazuelo 10%, Garnacha 5%, Graciano 5%.
Fermentation and maceration lasted for a total of 19 days and were performed in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 28ºC. Later on, the wine was racked into new French (Allier) oak, 225-litre casks/barricas where the malolactic fermentation took place, followed by a stay on the lees for a little over two months, with regular batonnage.
By the end of that winter, the wine was already being racked into new oak barrels, where it remained for a further six months. After this, the rest of the oak ageing - up to the total 27 months - was conducted in different barrels again: Allier and American (Missouri) oak, all with a medium toast, and with different ages spanning from brand new to 5 years. After fining with egg whites, the wine was bottled and stored in Olarra's bottle cellar for 45 months, before it started to be released.
The Gran Reserva 2010 shows a deep red colour with shades of ruby on the rim of the glass. On the nose, at the time of original release, it revealed a delicate balance between ripe red berry aromas and those of spices and smokiness. Over time, this developmental bouquet has grown more complex, showing aromas of leather, tobacco, coffee beans and raisins. On the palate, it is full and round, thanks to its long period in the bottle. Mouthfeel is as firm, elegant and smooth as one should expect from a great Rioja Gran Reserva, with a surprisingly long and fresh finish.
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their May 2019 panel tasting of 2010 Chianti Classico (see blue link below).
Castello di Cacchiano was founded in the 10th century and has been in the Ricasoli family for over 1,000 years. The estate is situated near Gaiole in Chianti, some 20km north-east of Siena.
Winemaking at the estate dates back to the 12th century. Today, this estate consists of ~200 hectares with some 32 hectares dedicated to vineyards (with the remainder dedicated to olive oil production). The vineyards are situated some 400m above sea level with most slopes south-facing, being ideal for hard-to-ripen Sangiovese. The soil composition, which is made of calcareous clay with substantial portions of crumbled limestone and sandstone - Chianti's famous albarese soil - provides an excellent substratum for the cultivation of vines. Thanks to the soil and to the ideal microclimate, the vines are able to develop to their full potential.
Castello di Cacchiano produce about 120,000 bottles of wine annually. This wine saw production of ~6,400 bottles in 2010; now only ~300 remain at the castello.
This is the estate flagship and standard-bearer. It has been produced for many years since its inception (to celebrate the 1,000th anniversary of the estate), previously as a Riserva; however, its strictly estate-based production and extended ageing qualify it for the more stringent criteria of Chianti Classico's Gran Selezione (GS) classification, which was introduced in 2010 (this is the first vintage of the Millennio to bear the GS label).
The wine underwent a warm fermentation and was macerated on its skins for a period of 4 weeks to maximise tannin extraction. It was aged in a mixture of small oak barriques and larger tonneaux - both of French oak - for a total of 30 months. Total ageing before release was 5 years.
Tasting note: we would refer you to the Decanter review link above. We take Andrew Jefford's comments here:
"Very refined, mature aromas of meat stock, laurel and a touch of cream unveil a poised and graceful palate with bright-eyed acidity and deft tannins, contriving to give a sense of balletic energy. Enticing and mouthwatering, as well as very classic".
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).
Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of South American Icon wines (see blue link below).
The inaugural 1997 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blend set a new standard of quality for wines from South America when it won a series of blind tastings against first growths and other prestigious cuvées from around the world. Indeed, it featured as one of Decanter's Wine Legends in Octover 2018 (see blue link below).
In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Bodega Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.
Catena wines, first launched in 1992, set a new standard for quality in South America. The wines immediately proved the quality potential of Argentina and garnered the first outstanding reviews for Argentine wines from worldwide media. After more than 20 years, the wines of Catena continue to lead the way in Argentine viticulture and winemaking. The family and the winery’s employees take great pride in carrying on the tradition that began over a century ago.
Nicolás Catena Zapata has an intense, deep purple color with bluish-black tones. On the nose, aromas of black fruits – blackberries, black cherries, black plums – predominate with subtle notes of vanilla and dark chocolate intermingled with savory hints of green olive and a stony minerality. On the palate, the wine is tremendously complex, unfolding layer upon layer of red currant, eucalyptus, and black pepper flavours. Black cherries and blackberries give way to cassis followed by a hint of saline minerality. The wine is remarkably concentrated with a firm tannic structure providing the backbone for the lush fruit. The finish is long, giving some idea of the very long aging potential of this Argentine masterpiece.
This wine is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Malbec.
See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.
** ONLY AT EXEL WINES!! **
Awarded a Platinum Medal and 97 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
For a full description of this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Château Castera themselves (click blue link below).
Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of the top tiers of Chianti Classico (see blue link below).
Il Palagio di Panzano produces wines that mirror the unique character of the area. They are members of the Unione Viticoltori di Panzano and have made the decision to produce organic wine. For the family, sustainability is a synonym for “family-run”. They have the belief that they can guarantee the high quality of their wines by remaining as a small, family-run winery.
The grapes are harvested by hand following a careful selection of the best Sangiovese grapes from the different vineyards of Il Palagio.
Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a maximum temperature of 28° for 21 days. The wine then matures for 24 months in oak barrels of 1000 litres before further ageing in the bottle for a minimum of 6 months.
The Chianti Classico is a clear purple red with slight nuances of garnet in colour. Its aromas are expressive, with notes of red fruits and a hint of oak. The flavours are well structured, harmonious, fresh, elegant and long lasting finish.