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Decanter Oct 2018

August goes and September arrives.

Which means it’s time for the October edition of Decanter.

Obviously.

For our full compendium of around 350 Decanter-rated wines fom the last two years (including their reviews), please click here.

For super-scoring blockbusters (that we can still obtain!) from the last two years, please click here.

This month’s magazine is most definitely Andes-tastic, being, as it is, a South America special. Chile and Argentina feature majorly. And Decanter have naturally drawn out great examples of what those two countries do best, being:

  • ‘everyday’ wines (which is to underplay their quality but you see what we mean) in the £10-£15 bracket; and
  • meticulously-made boutique wines in the space above £25.

Specifically, the magazine features:

  • a panel review of Value Argentine Malbec, from across the country’s many regions (Mendoza, Salta, even Patagonia); again, there’s nothing here (in the review entire, not just from us) at 95 points or above. At these price points, that may not be so very surprising. We do offer 7 Highly Recommendeds/90+ pointers, including some top-value gems from Susana Balbo, Matias Riccitelli, Andeluna and Colomé, with top value of all lying with the ~£11 Bodega Renacer. Many well-rated Malbecs also pop up on a feature on the Colchaquí Valley - our don’t-miss-this here is the Amalaya Malbec 2017;
  • a third panel review of South American Cabernet Franc(s). This may be quite a leftfield category, and not one for the uninitiated, but features some some wonderful wines at great prices and scores from the continent’s very best producers. The Zorzal Eggo Franco and Catena Appellation Cab Francs (from Tupungato and San Carlos respectively) have had die-hard followings at Exel for some time: these are great wines for around £15 or less.

 Elsewhere, this Latinofest sees

  • an interview with Daniel Pi of Trapiche and El Esteco, whose wines make a fine showing.

Finally, matters-not-South America are mainly restricted to Stephen Spurrier’s fine wine recommendations, where our perennial Tasmanian favourite, the Tolpuddle Chardonnay gets an airing of its very new 2016 vintage and clocks 95 points. We have a tiny allocation of this one, so do move rapidly if you’re a willing Tolpuddler.

 

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Amalaya Malbec 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition expert review of Argentina's Calchaqui Valley  (see blue link below).

Amalaya Malbec 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

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

The estate's vineyards are located in Cafayate in the very heart of the Calchaquí Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate is very dry, with just 150 millimetres of rain in an average year and huge temperature fluctuations of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which results in fruit with hugely concentrated flavour.

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

After careful sorting by hand at the winery, the grapes underwent four days of cold maceration followed by a slow alcoholic fermentation with maceration on skins lasting around 18-20 days which extracted good levels of colour and tannins. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks before 25% of the wine was aged in French oak for a period of 10 months prior to blending and bottling.

85% Malbec, 10% Tannat, 5% Petit Verdot.

Deep ruby red in colour with a purple hue, this wine displays intense fruity red berry aromas of raspberries, floral notes and a touch of spice and chocolate. Well structured, fresh and fruity on the palate with soft, rounded tannins and a velvety long finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£11.45

Montes Outer Limits Zapallar Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage of this wine was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc  (see blue link below).

Montes Outer Limits Zapallar Sauvignon Blanc 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Montes was established in 1988 by Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, with the aim of producing the best wines in Chile from the best regions. The Montes wines are consistently good because they are meticulous throughout the entire production process. The Outer Limits wines were born out of Aurelio Montes' desire to push Chilean viticulture in a new direction. The vineyards that produce the grapes for the Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc are located 7 km from the coast of the resort town, Zapallar. They are the only vineyards with the Zapallar Denomination of Origin, which is the most coastal zone of the Aconcagua Valley. Due to the balance and concentration in the Outer Limits wines, they can be enjoyed now or allowed to age for a few years, rewarding with a wonderfully complex bouquet.

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

Montes Outer Limits Zapallar Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - fiche technique

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

This wine is light yellow in colour, with intense aromas of passion fruit, pink grapefruit and pineapple. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with vibrant acidity. A subtle saline touch on the finish hints at the coastal origin.

ABV = 13.5%.

 

£15.45

Ventolera Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc  (see blue link below).

Ventolera Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Ventolera is an exciting new venture between founder Vicente Izquierdo and one of Chile's top winemakers Stefano Gandolini. The vineyard, which was planted in 1999, is located in the region of the Leyda Valley, just six kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. The area is being singled out as being Chile's newest and most radical cool-climate wine region, which is strongly influenced by the cooling effects of the Humboldt Current that flows up from the Antarctic. ‘Ventolera’ is a Spanish word which refers to this strong sea wind; its cooling influence is instrumental in producing wonderfully elegant wines.

The grapes are grown in two blocks that are south east facing. Canopy management in the vineyard ensures protection of the grapes from extreme sun exposure. The high humidity level combined with the cooling effect from the sea ensures a moderate climate for the vines. The vines are grown in heat-retaining granite and alluvial soil.

The summer season was cool with cloudy weather during January and February, which slowed down the ripening of the grapes. Early crop adjustments were made in order to produce grapes with the optimal balance between alcohol and acidity. The fruit harvested is elegant and delivers beautiful mineral tones.

100% Sauvignon Blanc hand selected grapes from specific blocks within Ventolera's estate vineyard. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks to retain the freshness, aromatics and a fruity style.

100% Sauvignon Blanc.

Zesty citrus aromas and an attractive hint of nettles lead to a real depth of flavour on the palate, with an intense mineral character and a long, vibrant finish. Match with seafood such as smoked salmon, cold meat platters or hard cheese.

ABV = 13.5%.

£15.50

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded a Gold medal and 96 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2015 - June 2019 Decanter review

Founded in 2003, Andeluna is a small boutique winery specialising in premium Bordeaux varietals of world class recognition. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best subregions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. Situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres, the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Oenologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers to make outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the global spotlight in a very short space of time. Their Pasionado range is only made in exceptional vintages and rivals some of the great wines of the world.

The grapes come from vineyards located in Gualtallary in Tupungato at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The vines are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. The vineyard soils are alluvial, sandy and permeable.

The grapes were hand-picked in the cool of dawn in April, when they had reached full polyphenolic maturity. The berries were manually selected and the best berries underwent cold pre- fermentation maceration. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of 26°C. The wine was aged in used French oak barrels (60% second passage, 40% third passage) for a period of 12 months and then cellared in bottles for a minimum of eight months prior to its release. 

This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.

Intense aromas fill the glass, with deep red fruits and a remarkable presence of red bell pepper, fennel, mint, anise, eucalyptus and basil. A structured, full bodied wine, with rounded tannins which result in a pleasant and persistent finish. 

Serve with full bodied meats as steak or lamb. Decant and serve at 16°C.

ABV = 13.5%.

£31.50

Catena Appellation (San Carlos) Cabernet Franc 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American Cabernet Franc  (see blue link below).

Catena Appellation (San Carlos) Cabernet Franc 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

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.

100% Cabernet Franc.

This wine is a purple colour with red ruby tones. The nose offers elegant aromas of spices, and fresh herbs as thyme and rosemary, red berries, cassis and raspberries, with layers of cedar. The mouthfeel is full and rich with cassis, raspberries flavours and notes of black pepper and oregano. The finish is bright and fresh with finely grained tannins.

ABV = 13.0%.

£14.50

El Esteco Fincas Notables Cabernet Franc 2015

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2019 Claret Alternatives article; (see blue link below)

El Esteco, Fincas Notables, Cabernet Franc 2015 - February 2019 Decanter review

Among the Calchaquí Valley’s lush vegetation, rivers and rocky mountains, there emerges, unexpectedly, a stretch of desert. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, with its radiant sunshine and ideal temperature range hot days and cool nights, the environment is perfect for the vine growing. And it is here, in the heart of this unique valley where El Esteco stands with 1,000 acres of vineyards. French immigrants David and Salvador Michel founded the winery in 1892, taking advantage of this special region to produce distinctive and elegant high-end wines, with great concentration of colour, deep aromas and well-defined flavours.

100% Cabernet Franc.

The grapes for this wine are carefully harvested by hand, after which a second selection process is carried out to ensure that only the best grapes are used. The juice undergoes pre-fermentation maceration at 8°C in French oak vats. Indigenous and selected yeasts are used for alcoholic fermentation, which takes place at controlled temperatures between 26°C- 30°C. Malolactic fermentation occurs in new French oak barrels after which the wine is aged for 15 months. The wine is bottled following a light filtration and is aged for another 6 months before release.

A concentrated and intense wine with notes of black fruits, sweet pepper and hints of menthol The oak is well-balanced and of medium intensity The palate has ripe, juicy tannins with a long, persistent finish

£18.50

Zorzal Eggo Franco Cabernet Franc 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage of this wine was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American Cabernet Franc  (see blue link below).

Zorzal Eggo Franco Cabernet Franc 2016 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Argentine reds (Altamira and Gualtallary) (see blue link below)

Zorzal Eggo Franco Cabernet Franc 2015 - October 2017 Decanter review

Zorzal is an Argentinian boutique winery which has been dedicated to the production of high quality wines since 2008 and is located at the highest point of the Uco Valley. Hailed as one of the most exclusive and well-regarded areas for viticulture in Argentina, the terroir is revealed in the Zorzal wines through a respectful, non invasive winemaking process that puts austerity before exuberance and fruit before wood. The wines have rapidly gained international recognition. Founded by the Michelini brothers, who are outstanding in their passionate leadership in the vineyards and winery, this highly regarded winemaking duo have become renowned as the trendsetters of the Argentinian winemaking scene.

The vines are grown in high altitude, drip irrigated vineyards in Gualtallary, in the Uco Valley. Gualtallary is situated at 1,350 metres above sea-level in the highest vinegrowing zone in the Province of Mendoza, at the foot of Tupungato volcano. This zone is characterised by its combination of altitude, alluvial soils, sunny days, low rainfall and wide temperature ranges. The diurnal temperatures here oscillate between 35°C and 17°C, creating long, slow ripening periods, concentrating the flavours in the fruit. The combination of cool climate and very specific white chalky soil, gives the wine great structure and a delicious acidity.

2018 was another warm vintage, but this year is characterised as a year of balance. The yields returned to average after a positive growth cycle under good weather conditions. The wines are harmonious, with good maturity balanced by acidity.

The grapes were placed in cement egg shaped fermenters to allow fermentation to take place. The native yeasts were left to start working naturally. The egg shape of the fermenter facilitates vinification without the need for numerous pump-overs to extract components such as anthocyanin and polyphenols. Due to its ovoid shape, everything inside is constant movement, allowing gentler and more homogeneous extractions. Once the fermentation was complete, maceration with the skins took place over 40 days and the wine was then removed from the tank before being returned to the same egg shaped vessel for 12 months further ageing.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.

A fine example of Cabernet Franc, this wine shows varietal purity with its aromatic expression of white pepper, green pepper and earthy notes highlighted by mineral overtones. The juicy fruit on the palate is direct and leads to a long satisfying finish. Serve with grilled steak with a wild mushroom sauce or tangy cheese.

ABV = 14.5%.

£17.05

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Value Malbec (see blue link below). 

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Founded in 2003, Andeluna is a small boutique winery specialising in premium Bordeaux varietals of world class recognition. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best subregions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. Situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres, the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Oenologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers to make outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the global spotlight in a very short space of time. Their Pasionado range is only made in exceptional vintages and rivals some of the great wines of the world.

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

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

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

This wine is made using Malbec 100%.

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

ABV = 14.0%.

£15.95

Colome Estate Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Value Malbec (see blue link below). 

Colome Estate Malbec 2016 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Bodega Colomé was established in 1831 by the Spanish Governor of Salta, Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi y Echalar. In 1854, his daughter Ascensión brought the first French pre-phylloxera Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon vines to Colomé. Grapes from three vineyards (of four hectares each) planted in that year are still used to make wines. Located in the Upper Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina, not only is Colomé the oldest winery in Argentina, but it also claims to own the world's highest vineyard.

The high altitude of the Upper Calchaquí Valley has a positive impact on the quality of the grapes as the more exposed they are to the sun's ultraviolet rays, the better they are able to generate a thicker and darker skin to protect themselves. This leads to more colour and concentration of flavour building up in the grapes. The climate here is dry, on average around 120 millimetres per year. There is a large difference (20°C) between day and night time temperatures that aids the retention of natural acidity in the grapes. Soils are sandy with layers of gravel which aid drainage. The vineyards are all farmed biodynamically. Fruit comes from vineyards at four different altitudes; La Brava Estate at 1,800 metres above sea level that brings ripe fruit, Colomé Estate at 2,300 that brings complexity and weight, El Arenal Estate at 2,600 that brings elegance and Altura Maxima at 3,111 that brings florality and fine grain tannins to the blend.

Calchaquí Valley enjoyed excellent conditions in 2016, except for frost in mid-October which caused a reduction of yields. During maturity, rainfall was low so there was no botrytis development, but many cloudy days gave freshness to the fruit and reduced the risk of sunburn. This resulted in fresh, healthy grapes at harvest time.

Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were hand sorted twice to ensure no green material or imperfect fruit entered the must. The grapes were cold macerated and then fermented for 15 days with natural yeast. The must underwent two soft pumpings per day. An extended maceration period of 30 days to extract good levels of colour and tannin. The wine aged for 15 months in French-oak barrels of which 15% was new, 85% second fill. The wine was then aged for a further six months in bottle prior to release.

This Malbec is deep, bright red in colour with a magenta hue. It has aromas of black and red fruits including blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and cherries and hints of spices and well-integrated oak. Fresh and fruity on the palate with crisp acidity and velvety tannins. This full-bodied wine is delicate yet has a lengthy finish.

ABV = 14.5

£18.15

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Value Malbec (see blue link below). Despite the apppearance of the review, the 2017 vintage is categorically not yet commercially in the UK and appears still to be some months away. The 2016 is excellent!

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Susana not only became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honours from Don Bosco University in Mendoza in 1981, but also was brave enough (or crazy enough as some would have thought at that time) to build an export category for Malbec when no one knew about this grape variety.

Susana enhanced the reputation of this distinguished variety which stands out for its notes of black cherries, spices and violets. The winemakers describe it simply in a few words - it is fruity with spicy notes!

The grapes for this wine were harvested by hand from vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley. It spends 25 days macerating to extract both colour and flavour before spending 9 months ageing in French oak barrels.

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

100% Malbec.

The wine has a beautiful reddish-purple colour. The aromas are a mix of freshly crushed black cherries with subtle coffee and vanilla notes, just enough to balance with the exuberant fruit. On the palate, the flavours of cherries and spice are obvious, and the jammy fruit quality is also prominent, with hints of spice and sandalwood lurking in the background.

ABV = 14.0%.

£14.15

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Paraje Altamira Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American signature grapes (see blue link below). 

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation (Paraje Altamira) Malbec 2014 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Argentine reds (Altamira and Gualtallary) (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 95 points and Outstanding status in their October 2017 edition review of South American Extreme Viticulture (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Altamira Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review 

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the first officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

The Altamira vineyard is certified organic. The grapes are sourced from the alluvial terrace of Altamira, lying at 1,200 metres above sea level. Limestone covered pebbles and gravels occupy 85% of the soil volume, providing elegance and minerality in the wines. 3% of clay in the fine matrix allows the Malbec to express fresh red fruit flavours, as well as a delicate and elegant roundness on the palate.

The season began with severe frosts that lowered yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that challenged the flowering stage and lowered yields even more. December and January brought heatwaves and late summer rains. In three weeks the region received equivalent to two years worth of rain. Grapes were harvested before mildew or rot had chance to set in and the resulting grapes showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins. 

The grapes went through a double selection process and were harvested into small concrete containers. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C. The wine spent three weeks on its skins. In order to maintain careful, gentle handling, pumping over was not used, instead the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted Foudres for 18 months, and a further 12 months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure that the quality of the wine was not interfered with.

100% Malbec.

Fresh and delicate on the nose showing layers of red cherries and raspberries combined with herbal notes of wild rocket and thyme and a touch of minerality. On the palate it is elegant and supple with fine tannins providing structure. A graceful, complex, deep and structured wine with considerable length.

ABV = 14.5%.

£32.60

Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American signature grapes (see blue link below). 

Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Doña Paula is a leading, modern winery at the forefront of exploring and investing in new, high quality wine regions in Argentina. Established in 1997, they own all of their vineyards covering 700 hectares. These vineyard sites are located in the best subregions within Mendoza including Ugarteche, Altamira, Gualtallary and Tupungato. The vineyards have always been cultivated using sustainable methods, maximising the true expression of terroir. Continuous innovation in vineyard management ensures Doña Paula produces top quality wines from one year to the next.

The grapes were sourced from two of Dona Paula's best estate vineyards: Finca Alluvia in Gualtallary, situated at 1,350 metres above sea level and Finca Los Indios, located in Altamira, Uco Valley at an altitude of 1,100 metres. The soils are stony in the first location and sandy loam in the second, but both have a high calcareous content. This Malbec displays the characteristics of its cool climate origins and the wide diurnal temperature differences. The daily diurnal temperature range is excellent for the production of quality grapes; the nightly cooling-off extends the ripening period, allowing the grapes to develop rich varietal characteristics while retaining balancing acidity. The vines are grown on espaliers, using drip irrigation and the vineyards are cultivated using sustainable agricultural practices.

2018 saw a return to higher yields, after the low yielding vintages of 2016 and 2017. Doña Paula had a record harvest in 2018, with the highest average in the province. The growing season was dry, with very low rainfall and average temperatures, which resulted in fruit with optimal ripeness. 2018 is being hailed as a classic year for Mendoza.

The grapes were hand-picked, prior to a gentle destemming without crushing the berries. A cold, pre-fermentation maceration was carried out. Fermentation took place at low temperatures, followed by a post-fermentation maceration of 15 to 20 days, extracting colour, flavour and fine tannins. The wine was then racked to first, second and third-use French oak barrels for a period of 12 months.

100% Malbec.

Intense violet in colour, this estate Malbec has enticing aromas of plums, black cherries, liquorice and spice, backed by subtle mineral and graphite notes. Great balance and freshness on the palate, with a deep concentration of ripe fruit, soft tannins and a persistent finish.

ABV = 14.0%.

£12.40

Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2015 (1x75cl)

“Like many other 2015s, there is a little more ripeness in the 2015 Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae, and the year is more marked and more noticeable in this bottling. It's juicy, floral, expressive and more gentle within the serious and austere profile the place provides.”  Wine Advocate, 95 points, 29 June 2018

“Very complex aromas of blueberries and blackberries with hints of cheese and wet earth. Hot stones. Full body, dense and layered with lots of firm yet polished tannins and a gorgeous finish. Succulent. So delicious. You want to drink it!” James Suckling, 97 points, 27 March 2018

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.

The Catena family’s estate vineyards are located in the premier growing regions of Villa Bastías, Tupungato; Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo; Lunlunta, Maipu; Gualtallary, Tupungato and La Consulta, San Carlos. Nicolás believes the terroir of Mendoza's high altitude wine country (3,000 - 5,000 feet above sea level) is unique to the world, and the reality of this belief is expressed in every bottle of Catena wine crafted.

For this wine, see/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.

Catena Adrianna Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2015 - fiche technique

100% Malbec.

A big and rich-tasting red, balanced and sumptuous, with concentrated dark currant, olive and dried blackberry flavors. Chocolate and Asian spice notes fill the powerful finish, which features accents of black liqorice.

ABV = 14.0%.

£76.05

Clos des Fous Pour Ma Gueule 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition feature on the Pais/Criolla grape in South America (see blue link below).

Clos des Fous Pour Ma Gueule 2016 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Clos des Fous is an exciting project between four Chilean friends: Pedro Parra (the viticulturalist), François Massoc and Paco Leyton (the winemakers), and Albert Cussen, who looks after the business. 'Fous' is the French word for 'crazy men', a reference to what their peers described as their 'craziness' in crossing the traditional vineyard boundaries of Chile to source grapes from vineyards in the extreme conditions further south and east. Pedro is credited with discovering many of the top vineyard sites across Chile, as well as revolutionising the way in which iconic wineries, such as Montes plant and manage their vineyards. The winery is based in Maule, to the south of the main vineyard area, where the 'Fous' make an enviable range of top quality varietal wines.

The name is a French expression "for my gob", a term used to describe a stash of wine for the producer to drink with friends and family. The grapes for Pour Ma Gueule are sourced largely from Itata Valley located 400 km south of Santiago. This is a cool, wet region without Coastal Mountain protection and lower sunshine hours, which gives elegance to the wines. All the vineyards are very small and measure between two and six hectares. The soil is paleozoic with a small amount of quartz.

The 'El Niño' effect (fluctuations in the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean) made 2016 an unusual year, the average temperature was lower and the harvest was delayed. This allowed the grapes to retain excellent acidity, resulting in well-structured and perfumed wines.

Each of the three varieties used in this blend were hand harvested, vinified and aged separately. After crushing, the musts were fermented in concrete and stainless steel, with malolactic fermentation taking place in tank and old barrels for 12 months. No new oak was used. Once finished, the wines were blended together, making a unique and distinctive wine.

76% Cinsault, 16% Pais, 8% Carignano/Carignan.

Outstanding fruit with a noseful of red berries, black cherry, black pepper and a hint of violet. The aromas follow through on the palate, with fresh black and red fruit and revealing a lush, full-bodied wine. The mid-palate is round and velvety with very fine tannins, and excellent acidity enhances its liveliness and balance.

ABV = 14.0%.

£12.80

Bodega Garzon Reserva Albarino 2018 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2018 - October 2019 Decanter review

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

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2017 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

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

Garzón Reserva Albariño 2016 - 2017 DWWA Decanter review

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

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

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

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

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

100% Albariño/Alvarinho.

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

ABV = 14.0%.

£15.75

Josef Chromy Pepik Sekt NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition's 'Weekday Wines'  (see blue link below).

Josef Chromy Pepik Sekt NV - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Josef Chromy has been instrumental to the Tasmanian food and wine industry, having owned and developed some of Tasmania’s leading wineries including Rochecombe (now Bay of Fires), Jansz, Heemskerk and Tamar Ridge. Joe acknowledges Tasmania as the regional hero in this development: "I came here with nothing but hope and ambition over 50 years ago. Tasmanians welcomed me and, with their help, I have been rewarded for the challenges and risks I have taken in the wine industry”.

At 76, when most people would be thinking about easing up, Joe launched Josef Chromy Wines in December 2007. In just a few years, Josef Chromy Wines has made an impressive impact on the Australian wine industry.

An elegant, easy-drinking sparkling with lifted floral aromatics. The palate exhibits crunchy green apple and fresh pear flavours that combine beautifully with the creaminess and complexity from lees contact and bottle fermentation.

Made from 100% Riesling.

Please click on the blue link below to see the winemaker's notes on this wine.

Josef Chromy Pepik Sekt NV - fiche technique

ABV = 12.0%.

£22.15

El Esteco Altimus 2012 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage (also available) has been awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition expert review of Argentina's Calchaqui Valley  (see blue link below).

El Esteco Altimus 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Among the Calchaquí Valley’s lush vegetation, rivers and rocky mountains, there emerges, unexpectedly, a stretch of desert. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, with its radiant sunshine and ideal temperature range hot days and cool nights, the environment is perfect for the vine growing. And it is here, in the heart of this unique valley where El Esteco stands with 1,000 acres of vineyards. French immigrants David and Salvador Michel founded the winery in 1892, taking advantage of this special region to produce distinctive and elegant high-end wines, with great concentration of colour, deep aromas and well-defined flavours.

Altimus is the signature wine of El Esteco. Each year, Alejandro Pepa, the chief winemaker, changes its composition making every vintage unique and unrepeatable. This blend is made from the estates best parcels and from the harvest’s best grapes. Harvest is done either very early in the morning or at night when it is cooler and put into small 18 kg cases. A second selection is done in the crushing area and just the free run juice, which has greater concentration, is used for Altimus. Each varietal is vinified separately. After alcoholic fermentation in small stainless steel vats and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, the juice is pumped over to obtain maximum colour concentration before being placed in small French barrels to be aged for 12 months. After ageing, the final blend is made and placed once more in French barrels for 6 extra months. Finally, the wine is bottled unfiltered and un-fined to preserve the unique character

A complex wine with refined aromas of baked red fruits, dark chocolate and toasty oak. Ripe and powerful tannins give structure to the intense flavours of black fruits, liquorice & chocolate found on the palate.

ABV = 15.0%.

£24.90

El Esteco Altimus 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition expert review of Argentina's Calchaqui Valley  (see blue link below).

El Esteco Altimus 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Among the Calchaquí Valley’s lush vegetation, rivers and rocky mountains, there emerges, unexpectedly, a stretch of desert. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, with its radiant sunshine and ideal temperature range hot days and cool nights, the environment is perfect for the vine growing. And it is here, in the heart of this unique valley where El Esteco stands with 1,000 acres of vineyards. French immigrants David and Salvador Michel founded the winery in 1892, taking advantage of this special region to produce distinctive and elegant high-end wines, with great concentration of colour, deep aromas and well-defined flavours.

Altimus is the signature wine of El Esteco. Each year, Alejandro Pepa, the chief winemaker, changes its composition making every vintage unique and unrepeatable. This blend is made from the estates best parcels and from the harvest’s best grapes. Harvest is done either very early in the morning or at night when it is cooler and put into small 18 kg cases. A second selection is done in the crushing area and just the free run juice, which has greater concentration, is used for Altimus. Each varietal is vinified separately. After alcoholic fermentation in small stainless steel vats and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, the juice is pumped over to obtain maximum colour concentration before being placed in small French barrels to be aged for 12 months. After aging, the final blend is made and placed once more in French barrels for 6 extra months. Finally, the wine is bottled unfiltered and un-fined to preserve the unique character.

A complex wine with refined aromas of baked red fruits, dark chocolate and toasty oak. Ripe and powerful tannins give structure to the intense flavours of black fruits, liquorice & chocolate found on the palate.

£24.60

Piattelli Vineyards, Grand (Reserve) Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage of this wine was awarded a Gold Medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2018 DWWA winners, click here.

The Piattelli Vineyards lie in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, where the century old vines are irrigated by the pure waters melting from the snow crested peaks; significant in making their wines exquisite. At Piattelli Vineyards great pride is taken in crafting wines with a sense of place, as each region has distinct terroirs and microclimates. Led by head winemaker Valeria Antolin, the wines are produced through her passionate pursuit of perfection. Their gravity fed winery in Cafayate honours their commitment to sustainable practices. Piattelli Vineyards practises sustainable farming and their Mendoza vineyards are USDA certified organic. The grapes are cultivated with arid clean air, crystal clear water and nutrient rich soil and their award winning wines are produced with wisdom, precision and love.

From high in the Andes surrounding Salta come Piattelli's Cafayate wines, grown at an elevation of over 1,795 metres. The distinctively colourful Argentinian mountains are formed of many geological layers. The splendour of this area is the pure water and extreme thermal amplitudes. The diurnal temperature differences create longer ripening periods, which concentrates the flavours in the grapes, with the cooler evenings encouraging a balancing freshness. Additionally, the grapes develop thicker skins to cope with the intensity of the UV rays at this altitude, which further concentrates the flavours in the wine. This makes this not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the premier grape growing regions in the world.

The 2017 growing season in Cafayate was characterised by very dry weather, with hot temperatures throughout the summer. The temperature differences between the hot days and cool nights were over 15°C, which encouraged the vines to produce excellent quality fruit, with intense flavours but balancing freshness.

The grapes were hand-picked and destemmed. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and lasted for two weeks. When fermentation was complete, the wine was racked to second use oak barrels where it was aged for 12 months.

This wine is 100% Malbec.

A rich and fragrant wine which represents the best of the crop. An intense Malbec with aromas of blackberries, prunes, chocolate and a touch of vanilla. The palate has great structure and concentration with textured tannins and a wonderfully persistent finish. Pair with barbequed pork, braised lamb shanks, pan-fried steak or spicy, grilled vegetables.

ABV = 14.5%.

£16.65
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