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Zoom (online) Tastings with producers - May & June 2020

** NOW ALL COMPLETE - STILL ON SHOW FOR INTEREST VALUE. WE MAY WELL RUN SOME MORE OF THESE IN LATE JULY AND AUGUST! **

 

Much of the world, in these confined times, has gone webinar, videoconferencing and Zoom crazy. With fair reason, we grant you.

We bucked that trend … for all of 20 minutes. Much of our Lockdown existence now seems to consist of a grid of people - or cats on their keyboards - all forgetting to mute their microphones. But great fun it can be. This sort of thing (photo credit to The Poke)...

You can probably see where this is going. We know we’re not the first to offer Zoom/virtual/web-tastings.

But we might well have one of the best overall web tasting line-ups with producers  ... for four consecutive Thursdays in May, starting at 7pm (British Summer Time) on May 7th, and then the first Sunday in June (an afternoon) ... five sessons in all (so far)!

There is, of course, no charge.

Each session will feature 5 or 6 wines. Join us for just one or two, join us for the lot, or just watch along and listen ... but do join us.

** IMPORTANT (we are often asked!): The wines to be tasted appear at the foot of this page - for info and to buy - in the grid of bottle icons **.

All wines are already in stock, so as to be with customers well ahead of each tasting.

Here, then, are the tastings: 

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Ken Forrester (Thursday May 7th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

We launch with a very natural first choice for such occasions. Quite apart from producing some of South Africa’s finest and most iconic wines - as though that weren't enough - Ken Forrester is one of the great showmen and raconteurs in the wine world; we’ve been lucky enough to join him on few occasions and can vouchsafe of that (click here for a flavour and also here). Fully e-warmed up (as though he needs it…) after a recent e-session with a Norwegian wine school, Ken himself will be joining us from Stellenbosch, leading a tasting for Exel customers across 6 of his most varied and superb wines, sparkling, white and red. The legendary FMC will, of course, feature ... as will the almost-as-legendary Gypsy.

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Sierra Cantabria (Thursday May 14th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

From the New World to the distinctly Old on May 14th (7pm), we turn to those doyens of Rioja, Sierra Cantabria. Local Exel customers will recall a heady evening with them here in 2018. We’ll be joined by one of the current generation of the winemaking and owning family, Mikel Eguren, along with SC’s export manager, Alejandra Naranjo. Through their whites and reds, both old-school and modern-style Riojas, we shall take the tour. We'll naturally finish up with the wonderful (but not daftly-priced) San Vicente.

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Gems of Campania (Thursday May 21st, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

We move to something a little more off-piste - and very (Southern) Italian - on May 21st: Gems of Campania, being a tasting of two halves and producers, from the sea to the mountains...

Cenatiempo - from the island of Ischia, off Naples - produced one of our Greats of 2019 – the DWWA19 Best In Show Kalimera. Federica Predoni from Cenatiempo will present three fascinating and unique wines from their range; and

Caggiano are one of the names of enigmatic Taurasi (‘the Barolo of the South’). John Chalmers of Enotria & Coe (UK importers of Caggiano and also of all the producers above, essential in bringing these tastings to you) will take you through two of their best.

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Valdivieso and Caballo Loco (Thursday May 28th, 7pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

To Chile we go, one of the great new frontiers of quality wine. Pioneers in the field are Valdivieso (and their luxury stable, Caballo Loco). These are most definitely not 'just Chilean wines' ... as Jonas Tofterup - a recent addition to the hallowed ranks of the Masters of Wine and Valdivieso's export manager - can explain best of all. Indeed, the Caballo Loco - one of the most intriguing (and intriguingly-made) red wines on the planet - is a wine everyone should try. We've more details on the range here. Jonas is a superb presenter and these are under-discovered, quite excellent wines - don't miss this one.

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d'Arenberg (Sunday June 14th, 1pm) - NOW DONE (details and wines below remain for completeness)

Thence to Australlia, and McLaren Vale in the specific. We'll be teaming up with one of our most popular Australian producers, d'Arenberg, and joined by Chester Osborn, their Chief winemaker. Follow the Red Stripe, say they and he, and for 90 minutes, we'll be doing just that. Chester - rather like Ken with whom this series kicked off - is one of the largest larger than-life characters in the wine trade and lies behind some of the best-known and most recognisable (and recognisably-named) bottles in the New World. Rest assured, the Dead Arm Shiraz features - the problem with this range was what to leave out!! 

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How does this all work?

  • Don't be scared of the technology angle (we were to start with); Zoom users will know how very ultra-simple it is to use (see on-line lesson-ette below).
  • You tell us on communications@exelwines.co.uk if you’d like to join us, and for which tastings; we then book you in (we rather do need to do this to make it work) and confirm. We can only fit so many people in per tasting (although this is a decent number).
  • If you’d like to taste the wines with us and the producers, you can order them ahead of the evening(s); do, of course, put together an order for more than one tasting (hence our announcing all three together now). The list - and details - of the wines in use are below. We advise ordering sooner rather than later (ideally, but not crucially, by 10am Monday 27th April for Ken’s tasting).
  • You’ll have a few bottles open at the end; we recommend Vacu-Vin stoppers (or similar) to get the best out of the wines for a few days.
  • We then email you on the Wednesday (or Saturday for d'Arenberg) - ie the day before the tasting - an invitation to the tasting, complete (crucially) with the Zoom meeting weblink. There’s more here on preparing for a Zoom session. There’ll also be a few handy hints in the invitation on how best the session works (a few dos and dont's, if you will).
  • At 7pm on the allotted Thursday (2pm Sunday for d'Arenberg), you click that link and away we go. Just watch, hide, interact and/or taste as you choose. Send and/or ask questions if you fancy.
  • Like the sound of the wines afterwards? Wish you’d had them at the time? You know where to find them….
  • Not for you? Fair enough. A few weeks ago, we’d have said the same. Perhaps the bigger question is why we weren't doing this before...
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Ken Forrester Sparklehorse Cap Classique 2017 (1x75cl)

Click here for a short video on - and tasting note for - the Sparklehorse from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Without the efforts of men like Ken Forrester, South African Chenin Blanc might be scarcely more than a footnote to the country’s recent winemaking history – a workhorse (see below) grape responsible for vast amounts of forgettably bland white wine. But this Zambia-born former restaurateur saw the potential of this grape, placing it firmly at the centre of his resurrection of the historic Scholtzenhof farm on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg mountain in the early 1990s. More than twenty years on, Ken is known as ‘Mr Chenin’. 

Sparklehorse is made using the Cap Classique method (MCC appears on labels, Méthode Cap Classique), which is the South African term for the traditional method/méthode traditionelle of in-bottle second fermentation used to create many of the world's classic sparkling wines (including Champagne).

The grapes for Sparklehorse - 100% Chenin Blanc - come from a carefully selected cool vineyard site which was first planted in 1975. The vineyard faces south-south-west and has sandy soil. These factors all allow the grapes to mature whilst continuing to maintain a high level of refreshing acidity which gives the wine its character.

This wine is aged for 14 months on its yeast lees to allow it to develop a creaminess and delicate mousse while still maintaining bright, fresh apple, pear and quince aromas. Intense green apples dominate the nose and first sip is like biting into a crisp, bright, green cooking apple. Fresh mousse and soft finish make it a delicious wine. Served as an aperitif or with food or simply with friends. As they say at the Forrester vineyards, "ideal with seafood, salmon, sushi, salads and sunsets.”

"And why Sparklehorse?", we asked.

Ken replied, “I was always captivated by the intricacies of sparkling wine. One specific vineyard on the property offered the right conditions for full-flavoured, early harvest wines and so with this fruit I decided to embark on a special project. Since deriving from the workhorse variety, I wanted to have some fun and cheer the whole package up and the name "sparklehorse" had instant appeal, with the idea of a colourful fairground pony, a sparkling carousel horse - every child’s first pony! And so the concept was presented- a dreamy, colourful, sparkling horse, straight off a carousel. The label captures the spirit and fun of the fair, the horse is truly the embodiment of fun and all that sparkling wine represents!"

ABV = 11.5%.

£18.70

Ken Forrester (Pats Garden) Merlot Reserve 2017 (1x75cl)

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the (Pat's Garden) Merlot Reserve from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

The Forrester easy-drinking, Reserve-level Merlot. Supremely quaffable and likeable. 

91% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc.

Hand harvested in individual parcels and selected for quality to get the ripest possible, balanced Merlot from the best soils, influenced by the cool SE wind during the ripening season.

The wine was matured in selected French oak barrels for 12 months and blended with a small fraction of Cabernet Franc for structure and complexity prior to bottling.

Black fruit flavoirs all the way. Hints of cherries and mint with meat-spice and smoky undertones. Softly rounded and accessible wine with balanced tannins for early drinking. Best served with meat dishes, grills and roast lamb.

See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 14.0%.

£13.50

Ken Forrester The Renegade Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2016 (1x75cl)

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Renegade from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

One of the very first Rhône-style blends in South Africa. 

37% Shiraz, 32% Grenache, 31% Mourvèdre. 

From duplex soils, fine sandy loam on a clay base and fermented in open tanks with gentle extraction by pumping over and then pressed and racked into second- and third-fill French oak barrels for 18 months. This adds complexity and structure to the soft natural tannins.

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

Ken Forrester The Renegade Shiraz Grenache 2016 - fiche technique

This elegant Rhône blend displays Old World Style with New World fruit. Hint of Grenache’s earthy rusticity and Shiraz’s noble spice with hints of nutmeg and salty black olive on the finish. Balanced with soft integrated tannins.

See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 14.5%.

£12.80

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2018 (1x75cl)

** NOW WIDELY OUT OF STOCK ACROSS THE UK; MORE IS DUE WITH US IN THE LAST WEEK IN AUGUST.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE SOME OF THE ARRIVING SHIPMENT, PLEASE LET US KNOW (AND OF HOW MUCH) BY EMAILING US ON communications@exelwines.co.uk TO JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! **

 

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - the Chenin Blanc Reserve from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of South African old-vine Chenin Blanc (see blue link below). Pretty much every other vintage of the FMC has done similarly!

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2015 - August 2018 Decanter review

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

100% Chenin Blanc.

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

Ken Forrester The FMC Chenin 2018 - fiche technique

The pinnacle of what Ken considers to be the finest expression of the grapes of this varietal, an icon Chenin and a challenge to the world! Rich, layered with dried apricot, vanilla and honey. Will gain additional complexity with cellaring.

Residual sugar = 7.6 g/litre, so on the margin between dry and off-dry; The FMC always is!

We at Exel like this because it's amazing. Full stop, period, end of. See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 13.0%.

£30.50

Ken Forrester The Gypsy Shiraz Grenache 2015 (1x75cl)

Click here for a one-minute intro video to - and tasting note for - The Gypsy from Ken Forrester himself (in classic Ken fashion).

Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, in the heart of South Africa's most famous wine region Stellenbosch, Ken Forrester's vineyards are commonly referred to as the home of Chenin Blanc and other premium award-winning wines. Over the years, this range of top quality wines has received massive national and international acclaim with literally hundreds of awards and accolades. The wines are broadly available in reputable restaurants and exported around the globe. Ken Forrester’s philosophy has always been to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitably complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value.

This is the Forrester red equivalent of the iconic FMC Chenin: a stunning New World, red Rhone blend.

63% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, being a hand-picked selection of the finest and ripest fruit.

Cool-soaked prior to fermentation, then taken to new French oak barrels for 12 months. At this point a further selection takes place before blending and the final blend goes back to new barrels to marry and harmonise over the following 12 months. After almost 2 years languishing in a cool cellar the Gypsy is stable with the oak and intense fruit totally harmonised. A very concentrated, focussed blend, with layers of deep fruit.

The character is somewhat 'wild' a little brambly with hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, dark spices, with vanilla scents and a distinct, concentrated red-fruit focus. Great for laying down and keeping for at least ten years but already rewarding if allowed to breathe in a decanter.

See also our Ken Forrester tasting blog for details of this wine in action.

ABV = 14.5%.

£29.55

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. 

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.

Rioja Organza Blanco Reserva, Sierra Cantabria 2017 - fiche technique

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%.

£20.35

Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2020 edition panel tasting of Affordable Rioja (see blue link below).

Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria 2016 - March 2020 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 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. On the other hand, the summer thermal jump (intense heat during the day with fresh night temperatures) creates an increase in the level of polyphenols, normally associated with excellent quality wines.

The calcareous clay soil is excellent for obtaining high quality wines and to enhance the expression of Tempranillo. Environmental integrated agriculture cultivation, applying a viticulture respectful with the environment, following the biorhythms of the plant and organic fertilization.

Grapes are traditionally destemmed and fermentation is temperature-controlled between 26 and 28ºC with indigenous yeast selected from their own vineyards. Extended maceration on the skins for 24 days, starting with two daily pump-overs and then a light pump-over daily during the last ten days.

Ageing: 14 months in barriques of French and American oak, almost all pre-used (but never for more than 3 uses).

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

Rioja Crianza, Sierra Cantabria 2016 - fiche technique

100% Tempranillo. 

A smooth and elegant Crianza from this esteemed Rioja producer, which deftly balances fruit and oak. This is arguably Sierra Cantabria's most admired wine due to its incredible value and delicate but complex style. Ripe cherry and red fruit, hints of spice and smoke, and a dusting of cocoa combine to form an elegant, complex Rioja with layers of oak and fruit. 

ABV = 14.0% (this figure does vary on bottles; we have also seen 13.5%).

£14.10 £11.95

Rioja Gran Reserva Sierra Cantabria 2009 (1x75cl)

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. On the other hand, the summer thermal jump (intense heat during the day with fresh night temperatures) creates an increase in the level of polyphenols, normally associated with excellent quality wines.

98% Tempranillo and 2% Graciano from vineyards older than 30 years. Traditional harvesting with 100% de-stemming. Fermentation controlled between 28 and 32º C with indigenous yeasts. Extended maceration on the skins for 14 days, with two pump-overs daily at the beginning. During the maceration, the pump-overs were reduced so as to avoid extraction of the bitter and vegetative characteristics.

Ageing: 24 months in American oak Bordelaise barrels (barriques), of which 25% were new oak, 75% were pre-used for a maximum of 3 wines. Racked regularly every 4 months during the first year and every 6 mon ths during the second. Bottled without filtration.

Garnet red cherry with intense aromas that are, fragrant and complex. Notes of mature red fruits, balsamic, truffle, vanilla and toast. On the palate it is vigorous, fresh, and silky with a good presence of mature tannins and a development of complex aromas. A serious, intense red that is some way from its peak of maturity. Dense, smoky and complex, with plenty of grip and acidity.

ABV = 14.0%.

£27.05 £22.40

Rioja Reserva Unica, Vinedos Sierra Cantabria 2015 (1x75cl)

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. On the other hand, the summer thermal jump (intense heat during the day with fresh night temperatures) creates an increase in the level of polyphenols, normally associated with excellent quality wines.

Marcos Eguren describes this wine as “A red wine with a strong primary character, very aromatic, perceptible tannin but ripe with good acidity and structure, character and expressive. Pure character!”

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical and tasting note - including reviews of the wine - from the team at Sierra Cantabria.

Rioja Reserva Unica, Vinedos Sierra Cantabria 2015 - fiche technique

Tempranillo 97%, Graciano 3%.

The Unica is bright ruby in colour. It has expressive aromas of redcurrant, cherry and liquorice. It’s a quintessentially modern Rioja with rich, plush blueberry and blackberry flavours, chalky acidity, stylish oak and violet aromas. Long and well balanced.

ABV = 14.5%.

£22.40

Rioja San Vicente Senorio de San Vicente 2016 (Sierra Cantabria) (1x75cl)

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. 

This is a single-vineyard wine from La Canoca which is 18 hectares in size. The soil is comprised of calcareous clay. There is a high density of plantation with low yielding fruit. This wine is from a single vineyard using one grape variety (Tempranillo Peludo) to produce one wine. Tempranillo Peludo ("Hairy") is a low yielding and characteristic grape which is indigenous to the area, so named for its hairiness on the underside of its leaves. The idea behind the use of Tempranillo Peludo was to put quality ahead of profitability, and the use of careful, studied viticulture has made San Vicente a reference point for winemaking in Rioja. The vineyard is run as organically as possible and an exhaustive manual harvest is carried out, combined with a meticulous selection of the best grapes in the winery.

The grapes are fully de-stemmed by hand. A temperature controlled fermentation then takes place over 10 days with two daily pump-overs at 28-30º C.  Only indigenous yeast selected from their own vineyards are used. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to  take place in barrel, where the wine then ages for 20 months. Barrels are 90% French oak and 10% American.

100 % Tempranillo peludo.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Sierra Cantabria (some of which repeats and expands upon the above) and which also contains the key reviews of this wine in recent vintages.

Rioja San Vicente, Senorío De San Vicente 2016 - fiche technique

The San Vicente has a garnet red cherry colour and a delicate nose. This is the essence of modern-style Rioja. It’s plush and rich, with lashings of oak supported by textured, balsamic fruit flavours, rich licquorice, mountain herbs and a backbone of tannin.

ABV = 14.5%.

£39.80

Cenatiempo Vini d Ischia Forastera Ischia Bianco 2018 (1x75cl)

As Cenatiempo will tell you, Ischia wine is mountain wine. The vineyards all over the island are influenced by the close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea (off the West Coast of Italy, not far from Naples) but also from their elevation – their grapes are grown up to elevations of 600 meters. The winery is run by Pasquale Cenatiempo and his partner, Federica Predoni. They make compelling, focused, mineral-driven wines from the island’s indigenous varieties on the volcanic slopes of Ischia. 

Ischia is situated just off the coast of Naples. Here the soil is volcanic. In fact, the island was formed by a volcano which last erupted in 1302. The winery was founded in 1945 by Pasquale’s father Francesco, who, like Pasquale today, made wine from his own grapes as well as from some of his friends and neighbors throughout the island. Not much has changed over the last 70 years. The wines are still fermented in steel or cement vats with indigenous yeasts and aged in the same vessels. In the vineyards, Cenatiempo farms organically. In fact, for their larger parcels they have begun adapting some biodynamic principles and treatments as well.

Their production is mainly in white wine including a couple of Ischia Bianco blends as well as monovarietal wines of Biancolella and the high-acid, low-octane Forastera. They also make small amounts of red, mainly from Piedirosso, Aglianico and Sciacinosso. The two wines that really illustrate the potential of great winemaking on this small island are the Kalimera Biancolella sourced from an old parcel of Biancolella at high elevation and also the small production Forastera bottling which is more reminiscent of a mountain wine from the north, like a Blanc du Morgex from the Valle d’Aoste, beautifully lean, racy and stony. 

These are small production wines form an artisanal producer making traditional, natural wine from a truly unique terroir of high elevation vineyards and compelling local varieties.

Sourced from estate vineyards in the commune of Lacco Ameno, west-facing terraces at about 200 meters in elevation. (Very) volcanic soil. Hand-harvested at the end of October.

Vinified in stainless steel. Aged in stainless steel.

100% Forastera.

Medium dark yellow. Lively aromas of fresh flowers, pear and apple sauce. Savory, rich, ripe and saline on a long, clean finish that hints at custard cream, grapefruit and eucalyptus. An intense aromatic white wine with generous fruit and a lovely orange peel finish.

ABV = 13.0%.

£22.20

Cenatiempo Per e Palummo Ischia DOC 2018 (1x75cl)

As Cenatiempo will tell you, Ischia wine is mountain wine. The vineyards all over the island are influenced by the close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea (off the West Coast of Italy, not far from Naples) but also from their elevation – their grapes are grown up to elevations of 600 meters. The winery is run by Pasquale Cenatiempo and his partner, Federica Predoni. They make compelling, focused, mineral-driven wines from the island’s indigenous varieties on the volcanic slopes of Ischia. 

Ischia is situated just off the coast of Naples. Here the soil is volcanic. In fact, the island was formed by a volcano which last erupted in 1302. The winery was founded in 1945 by Pasquale’s father Francesco, who, like Pasquale today, made wine from his own grapes as well as from some of his friends and neighbors throughout the island. Not much has changed over the last 70 years. 

Sites located on different sides of the island of Ischia at elevations ranging from 50-450 m ASL with diverse exposures.

Vines are guyot, sapling, and spur-pruned cordon trained: All grapes are hand-harvested in October.

Grapes are macerated for 4-6 days and fermented in stainless steel tank under temperature control using indeginous yeasts, with minimal use of sulphites and minimal intervention.

Aged 4 months on the lees in concrete and stainless steel followed by 1 month bottle ageing in the cellar prior to release.

100% Per e' Palummo.

Ruby colour, very bright. On the nose a mix of red fruit, strawberry and red berries with hints of violets and spices. On the palate it is dry and clean with a refreshing and pleasant character.

ABV = 13.0%.

£16.00

Caggiano Devon Greco di Tufo DOCG 2019 (1x75cl)

The estate was established in 1990 by Antonio Caggiano with the help of Professor Luigi Moio, who is one of the major experts on Aglianico. Antonio is also a professional and very talented photographer. Antonio used to have a building enterprise and he decided to build a cellar, in 1990, that was supposed to amaze. The cellar, which is hewn in rock and built underground, is really amazing and was completed in 1995. In the meantime vineyards from the finest crus were bought and plots of land were purchased and planted with selected clones of Aglianico. The new part of the cellar with very modern equipment was designed by Pino and Lorella, both architects and son and daughter of Antonio, and was completed in 2008. Pino, who has a real passion for wine, is now at the helm with the support of Antonio.

The estate could potentially produce one million bottles/year, but Antonio and Pino have chosen to keep production at 150,000-160,000 bottles/year. The total vineyard extension is 26 hectares, 23 hectares of Aglianico and 3 hectares of Fiano. The vineyards of Aglianico are all in Contrada Sala. The zone of Contrada Sala is airy, the altitude is 350-450 meters above sea level. The exposure is south-west. The great Aglianico grape finds ideal conditions here. The Fiano vineyards are in Lapio. Vineyards of Greco (located in Tufo) and vineyards of Falanghina (in the area of Benevento) are contracted. Disease and pest control is carried out following a programme of the Campania region for the respect of the environment and for the care of vines. 

Appellation: Greco di Tufo DOCG.

Soil type: Clay-calcareous.

Exposure: South-west. Hilly area at 500 meters above sea level.

Average no. bottles/year: 18,000.

Vinification and ageing: pressing, fermentation in stainless steel vessels at a low temperature (14-16 degrees Celsius). The wine matures in stainless steel on its lees for approximately two months, followed by finishing in the bottle for one month.

Greco di Tufo 100%.

Brilliant straw yellow. Hints of peach and almond blossoms combine with exotic fruit aromas, reaching the nose in a pleasant and decisive way. Tasting is rich, full and particularly persistent.

Excellent with Margherita pizza, it also goes very well with all fish or white meat preparations. Try it, they say, with local scorpionfish baked with peppers.

ABV = 13.5%.

£17.30

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti DOCG 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded Tre Bicchieri - 2020 by Gambero Rosso.

The 2013 vintage was awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below) ....

Caggiano Taurasi Vigna Macchia dei Gotti 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

... and awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Aglianico (see blue link below).

Caggiano Vigna Macchia dei Gotti Taurasi 2013 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

The estate was established in 1990 by Antonio Caggiano with the help of Professor Luigi Moio, who is one of the major experts on Aglianico. Antonio is also a professional and very talented photographer. Antonio used to have a building enterprise and he decided to build a cellar, in 1990, that was supposed to amaze. The cellar, which is hewn in rock and built underground, is really amazing and was completed in 1995. In the meantime vineyards from the finest crus were bought and plots of land were purchased and planted with selected clones of Aglianico. The new part of the cellar with very modern equipment was designed by Pino and Lorella, both architects and son and daughter of Antonio, and was completed in 2008. Pino, who has a real passion for wine, is now at the helm with the support of Antonio.

The estate could potentially produce one million bottles/year, but Antonio and Pino have chosen to keep production at 150,000-160,000 bottles/year. The total vineyard extension is 26 hectares, 23 hectares of Aglianico and 3 hectares of Fiano. The vineyards of Aglianico are all in Contrada Sala. The zone of Contrada Sala is airy, the altitude is 350-450 meters above sea level. The exposure is south-west. The great Aglianico grape finds ideal conditions here. The Fiano vineyards are in Lapio. Vineyards of Greco (located in Tufo) and vineyards of Falanghina (in the area of Benevento) are contracted. Disease and pest control is carried out following a programme of the Campania region for the respect of the environment and for the care of vines. 

For this flagship Taurasi, fermentation is temperature-controlled, in stainless steel.

Intense maceration with the skins and alcoholic fermentation at 28 deg C for 20-25 days in steel. Malolactic fermentation in barriques. The wine matures in French oak (Troncais, Centre and Vosges) barriques for 18 months. Finishing in the bottle for another 18 months.

100% Aglianico.

This is an intense and complex wine with aromas of red berry fruits on the nose and hints of vanilla and licorice appear on the palate along with wild strawberries and cranberries.

ABV = 14.5%

£31.35

Valdivieso Single Vineyard Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (1x75cl)

Based in Lontué in the Curicó Valley, Valdivieso has a wealth of vineyards and the quality of their terroirs is shown by their Single Valley Lot/Valley Selection and Single Vineyard wines. The whole range encapsulates everything that Chile excels at: rich, vibrant flavours and smooth, glossy textures - and the wines deserve the multitude of gongs they have picked up in recent years. Well-travelled Kiwi winemaker, Brett Jackson, has settled in Chile and much of Valdivieso’s success in recent years can be credited to his talent.

The vineyards here are located in the Leyda Valley, enjoying a strong influence from Leyda's maritime climate, due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. This area is cold, therefore ideal for Sauvignon Blanc and its preferred slower ripening. This allows for greater retention of acidity and greater aromatic qualities. The objective is to make a wine that is a true reflection of this area, through an optimal combination of soil, climate and vine.

Harvest is by solely by hand in the second week of March. Traditional winemaking methods are employed, with the aim that the wine is a faithful reflection of the terroir from which it comes. The clusters are taken directly to the presses. The must undergoes a natural fermentation in barrels, driven by 'wild' yeasts, present in the grapes. To ensure successful fermentation, there is no addition of sulfur dioxide. The wine is kept in barrels of 500 litres, the barrels being of 100% French oak, and kept in contact with its lees for 6 months. Malolactic fermentation is not allowed to occur, in order to retain the crisp natural acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Brilliant light yellow color with green hues. Intense aromatic profile, savory with a distinctive mineral character. Full bodied, with a tight acid structure. Very flavoursome earth and spice, complementing the mineral character of this wine. Long elegant finish. Valdivieso Wild Fermented Sauvignon Blanc pairs very well with grilled fish, tuna tartar, fresh shellfish or any light pasta dishes. 

Enjoy the concentration now or cellar for up to 6 years.

ABV = 13.0%.

£15.50

Valdivieso Valley Selection (Single Valley Lot) Chardonnay, Gran Reserva 2016 (1x75cl)

Naming note: this wine has been available under two different names, hence the bracketed title(!), despite being the same wine. It was previously badged as the Single Valley Lot, but has now joined the fleet of Valley Selection wines from Valdivieso. Technically, the new label is entitled to draw grapes from a slightly wider area of the Leyda Valley, although we believe it will make almost no noticeable change to the wine.

Well-travelled Kiwi winemaker, Brett Jackson, has settled in Chile and much of Valdivieso’s success in recent years can be credited to his talent.

Based in Lontué in the Curicó Valley, Valdivieso has a wealth of vineyards and the quality of their terroirs is best shown by their Single Valley Lot/Valley Selection and Single Vineyard wines. The whole range encapsulates everything that Chile excels at: rich, vibrant flavours and smooth, glossy textures - and the wines deserve the multitude of gongs they have picked up in recent years.

100% Chardonnay.

The vineyards are located in one of the coldest areas of the Leyda Valley. Because of this proximity to the sea, the coastal haze is more prolonged during the day exerting all the coastal influence of the valley. Under these conditions the fruit ripens slowly, maintaining its natural acidity and the delicate citrus aromas of Chardonnay.

Harvest is by hand in the first week of April. Grape bunches go through a meticulous selection and are then pressed directly. 50% of the volume is fermented in stainless steel tanks, and the other 50% is fermented in French oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation is not not allowed to occur, thereby preserving immediate fruit and acidity. The wine is stored for 12 months in French oak barrels (50%) and stainless steel tanks (50%).

Attractive and brilliant yellow green colour. Intense aromatic profile, pineapples, lemon rind and grapefruit with soft vanilla notes. Lively, crisp and refreshing acidity with citric flavours, full bodied, and a long, ripe finish. 

ABV = 13.5%.

£12.20

Valdivieso Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2015 (1x75cl)

Based in Lontué in the Curicó Valley, Valdivieso has a wealth of vineyards and the quality of their terroirs is shown by their Single Valley Lot/Valley Selection and Single Vineyard wines. The whole range encapsulates everything that Chile excels at: rich, vibrant flavours and smooth, glossy textures - and the wines deserve the multitude of gongs they have picked up in recent years. Well-travelled Kiwi winemaker, Brett Jackson, has settled in Chile and much of Valdivieso’s success in recent years can be credited to his talent.

The fruit comes from the La Rosa vineyard, situated in the DO of Sagrada Familia, itself in the Curicó Valley region. This vineyard is now 50 years old. The vineyards hare are all located in a small valley very close to the coastal mountain range. North-facing, it is protected from the cool-cold breezes that blow along the Mataquito River: this is a very warm place by Chilean vineyard standards. 

The grapes were harvested by hand in the third week of April.

The bunches go through a meticulous manual selection before being gently destemmed. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks over a period of 7 to 10 days at a controlled temperature of 26° to 28°C. The must in fermentation is pumped back over  the pomace layer (remontage/remontado) three times a day. The wine is left some 7 to 14 days in post-fermentative maceration to extract further colour and tannins. The wine is then stored for 12 months in French oak barrels (100%), 35% of which are new.

100% Cabernet Franc.

Deep dark red with violet reflections. Very aromatic, some dark berries, cherry, plums with hints of roast capsicums, nice sweet spices, some floral and sweet herbal notes and a slight peppery character. Clean fruity entry, fine tannin texture complemented by elegant spices from the maturation in oak barrels. Full bodied with crisp balancing acidity. Palate has a lovely texture and body from some structured tannins.

Enjoy the concentration now or cellar for up to 7 years.

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.75

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 (1x75cl)

The Caballo Loco Grands Crus were created by Valdivieso to show the different wines that are fundamental components of the icon Caballo Loco wine. For this reason, specific wines from specific valleys wine were born, where each strain/blend reflects the maximum expression of that valley.

One can arguably see these wines as understudies for the "true" Caballo Loco, but they are more than that, being quite superb - and full-throttle - wines in their own right, made with all the care, attention and know-how of the NV/"solera" version.

This Grand Cru Apalta represents all the fruit power and smoothness of the Limari Valley, showcasing the excellent Syrah (100% here) of this region.

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

Caballo Loco Grand Cru Limari 2015 - fiche technique

A big, full-bodied wine with delicious aromas and flavours of ripe red cherries, coffee and dark chocolate. It has a luxurious texture and a lingering finish.

ABV = 15.0%.

£24.15

Caballo Loco 17 NV (1x75cl)

** VERY LIMITED UK STOCK. ABOUT TO BE USED IN OUR FORTHCOMING VALDIVIESO/CABALLO LOCO TASTING, SO LIMITED TO TWO BOTTLES PER CUSTOMER UNTIL AFTER THE TASTING! **

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Caballo Loco 17 NV - June 2019 Decanter review

The winemaker's own technical sheets appear below (click blue links) - the Spanish inclusion may seem a little leftfield, but includes regional and other info that have yet to be put onto the English version

Caballo Loco 17 - fiche technique - English

Caballo Loco 17 - fiche technique - Spanish

For our article on 'the' (this) Caballo Loco, the appellation/Grand Cru Caballo Locos and the better wines of the Valdivieso fleet, click this link.

Valdivieso's top wine and stable star, the Caballo Loco is known around the world and each year changes merely its edition and, technically, not its vintage. It brings together every Cabollo Loco made since 1992 (the year of version 1), in what is, effectively, a solera system (as used for sherry and brandy de Jerez).

The idea for Caballo Loco was inspired by the legendary Ribera de Duero, Vega Sicilia Único Gran Reserva, which is produced using the solera method. This is the winemaking technique used for sherry and brandy de Jerez production, in which barrel-aged wines from different years are progressively and fractionally blended for reasons of both complexity and consistency.

The first Caballo Loco was produced in 1994 (Caballo Loco 1) and made from a blend of 50% of that year’s vintage with an aged blend from 1992. 

The resulting wine is bottle-aged for at least 18 months before release onto the market, and being a blend of wines from different years, there is, of course, no vintage on the label.

The grapes for the premium Caballo Loco come from four different vineyards in central Chile. The blend of the new wine varies each time it is made. Number 1 for example was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, whilst later editions have contained varieties as diverse as Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. Only Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are ever-present, these being blended with the best grapes from the other varieties that were most successful in the particular year (and best suited to create the intended balance of the Caballo Loco).

Each bottle of this version 17 therefore comprises:

- 50% version 16 and

- 50% of grapes from harvests from 2012 and 2013. New for version 17 was Carignan from Melozal (a sub-region of Maule) and Syrah from Limarí. This variety brings to the Caballo Loco another dimension of complexity, with balanced freshness and acidity.

The result is a wine of great concentration, quite unlike any other on the market. There is intense mature berry fruit on the nose and richness on the palate with velvety tannins, and so many layers of flavours that the wine is almost impossible to describe in detail. The secret blend of grapes from different vintages create intense aromas of dark cherry, coffee, and rich fruitcake. Full bodied on the palate with a beautiful lingering structure. 

It is a unique - some say crazy - wine, which is quite incomparable. It has great aromatic complexity and in the mouth, and an ageing potential of at least 10 years.

ABV = 14.5%.

£34.60

Darenberg The Money Spider Roussane 2019 (1x75cl)

Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breath-taking McLaren Vale in South Australia and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.

100% Roussanne.

Residual sugar = 3.9g/litre (ie dry).

D'Arenberg's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details (2018 sheet - 2019 sheet imminent).

d'Arenberg The Money Spider 2019 – fiche technique

ABV = 14.0%.

£13.75

Darenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2018 (1x75cl)

Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breath-taking McLaren Vale in South Australia and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.

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

Viognier 62%, Marsanne 38%.

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2018 – fiche technique

ABV = 13.5%.

£12.40

Darenberg The Galvo Garage Cabernet Blend 2014 (1x75cl)

Family owned d’Arenberg is located in the breath-taking McLaren Vale in South Australia and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon 54%, Merlot 23%, Petit Verdot 23%.

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

d'Arenberg The Galvo Garage 2014 – fiche technique

ABV = 14.5%.

£17.70

Darenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition expert tasting (by Matthew Jukes) of Australian Premium Shiraz (see blue link below).

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016 - November 2019 Decanter review 

Family-owned d’Arenberg is located in the breathtaking McLaren Vale in South Australia, and produces an enviable range of wines. From humble beginnings, these wines quickly gained cult status amongst imbibers and judges alike – it’s a deft combination of winemaking tradition and vinous innovation. A tall order for some, but one that d’Arenberg takes in their stride as they continue to push the boundaries and get under the skin of each individual vineyard in order to get the best from the vines. This is backed up by an engaging consumer-friendly approach to the ‘deadly serious fun’ of wine.

Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often affected vines are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an 'arm' of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low yielding, display amazing intensity.

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

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2016 - fiche technique

100% Shiraz.

This iconic wine always displays the power and intensity of McLaren Vale Shiraz, yet has an elegance and refinement that few other wines from the region possess. It’s vibrant and lifted on the nose with bustling red fruits and savoury spice. The palate is long, linear and pure with tightly wound tannin and mouth-watering acidity. Beneath the layers of blueberry, pomegranate and satsuma plum is an intriguing core of earth and crushed rocks. If stored correctly, this wine should age for 15+ years.

ABV = 15.0%.

£33.85
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