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Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Douro Tinto 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 95 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (Portuguese Red Trophy and Great Value Red between £8 and £12) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).

Papa Figos 2017 - IWC 2019 award and review

This historic producer, founded in 1751, was purchased by Sogrape in 1987.  Today they have 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions:  Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior.  The winemaking is headed up by the talented Luis Sottomayor, who manages to restrain the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Estevo and Papa Figos, allied to a wonderful depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Red and Quinta da Leda.

About 25% of the grapes for Papa Figos come from Casa Ferreirinha's Quinta da Leda estate, and the rest from producers owning north-facing vineyards at relatively high altitudes. The soil in the Duoro Valley is made up of schist - a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties. 

The golden oriole (papa figos in Portuguese) is one of the rarest birds in the Douro region. An attractive, brightly-coloured migratory bird, its uniqueness and rarity make it the perfect inspiration for this lovely wine.

After gentle destemming and crushing, the grapes were transferred to stainless steel tanks. Intense maceration is achieved by pumping over. After maceration, the wine is run off the solids, the free-run wine is kept separate from the press wine. Malolactic fermentation was encouraged in controlled conditions. The blend was selected and remained in stainless tanks throughout the winter. 25% of the total of the blend spent eight months in used French oak barrels, and the final blend was bottled after 12 months.

Deep ruby in colour, it has an intense aroma with notes of strawberry, raspberry, plum and blueberry, along with cedar wood and a hint of chocolate from gentle oak maturation. Full-bodied, with well-balanced acidity, fine tannins, plenty of lively red fruit flavours and hints of cocoa. The finish is elegant and harmonious.

£10.90

Casa Ferreirinha, Vinha Grande Douro Tinto 2016 (1x 75cl)

This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. Purchased by Sogrape in 1987, it has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luís Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.

The selected grape varieties were sourced from the Quinta do Sairrão estate located at a high altitude in the Cima Corgo region. The mountainous vineyards here have schist soils with vines planted either in vertical rows or on traditional "patamares" (terraces). The selected plots are ideal for optimal maturation thanks to the hot days and cool evenings bringing out the fresh fruit character of the grapes.

The 2016 vintage had a generally dry, mild winter before continuous rain began at the end of winter and extended into spring, accompanied by periods of low temperatures. These factors contributed to disease pressure requiring work in the vineyard to combat mildew. Summer was mild with occasional heatwaves and generally cold nights. This long and balanced end to maturation helping to produce wines of superior quality.

Grapes selected for the Vinha Grande Tinto went through gentle crushing and destemming prior to temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Long skin contact during fermentation ensured optimal extraction, which was facilitated by pumping over and robotic plunging. Maturation took place for between 12 and 18 months in used French oak barrels. The blend was then selected based on both sensory and technical analyses. The wine was then lightly filtered before bottling. In addition, the wine did not undergo cold stabilisation, which may mean it will have natural sediment in the bottle.

This wine has a deep ruby colour and intense aromas of flowers, strawberry and raspberry fruit, a touch of black pepper and well-integrated oak. The voluminous palate has well-integrated acidity, velvety tannins, a delicate minerality and notes of red berries. The finish is elegant and long.

£12.90

Castelforte Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2014 (1x 75cl)

Established in 2008, Collis Riondo (the parent company of Castelforte) is one of the largest and most important wine producers in Veneto. They are the undisputed leader of viticulture in the Veneto region with over 6,000 hectares of vineyards that are managed daily by more than 2.400 associated farmers. The vineyards cover the main production zones, appellations and grape varieties of the region: Prosecco, Soave, Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Garganega and Corvina being the most renowned among local and international consumers. The name “Castelforte” is a fusion of the Italian words for castle and fort in honour of the castle and fortified walled town of Soave.

The vineyards are meticulously taken care of every day by several farmers. Castelforte Amarone is made from dried Corvina and Rondinella grapes. 

A long, slow fermentation and minimum 18 month aging in large oak give this dry, full-bodied red wine a deep garnet red color, a complex bouquet of cinnamon, cherry jam and walnut and a palate of ripe black cherry fruit with notes of vanilla and coffee on the finish. It pairs perfectly with rich pasta dishes, game and grilled or stewed red meats as well as mature cheeses

£22.20

Castelforte Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2016 (1x75cl)

Established in 2008, Collis Riondo (the parent company of Castelforte) is one of the largest and most important wine producers in Veneto. They are the undisputed leader of viticulture in the Veneto region with over 6,000 hectares of vineyards that are managed daily by more than 2.400 associated farmers. The vineyards cover the main production zones, appellations and grape varieties of the region: Prosecco, Soave, Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Garganega and Corvina being the most renowned among local and international consumers. The name “Castelforte” is a fusion of the Italian words for castle and fort in honour of the castle and fortified walled town of Soave.

The vineyards are meticulously taken care of every day by several farmers. The winery has some of the most up to date equipment available which helps ensure the quality of the wine.

Castelforte Valpolicella Superiore is an elegant wine with an excellent body that shows intense scents of blueberry and cherry, liquorice and pleasant balsamic notes of eucalyptus. Its soft, velvety tannins are a perfect match for pasta with rich sauces, grilled red meats and mature cheeses.

£11.60

Castello Pomino, Pomino, Pinot Nero 2016 (1x 75cl)

An explosion of fruity aromas; a prevalence of cassis and dark, ripe cherry is followed by delicate hints of chocolate. Smooth on the palate, with vibrant red berried notes, combined with hints of liquorice and intriguing notes of Mediterranean herbs such as thyme. Long and persistent on the finish.

£24.75

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

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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.

See/click the link below for data on this wine from the winemakers themselves.

Catena Appellation Cabernet Franc 2015 - fiche technique

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.

£14.50

Catena Zapata Malbec Nicasia 2014 (1x75cl)

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 2013 vintage of this wine was awarded 95 points, Outstanding status and a Gold medal by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in the Decanter 2017 World Wine Awards (see blue link below).

Catena Zapata Malbec Nicasia 2013 - 2017 DWWA review

See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.

Catena Zapata Malbec Nicasia 2014 - fiche technique

This is a classic example of Malbec in its finest form, with deep, dark black cherry and plum fruit, toasty oak, cinnamon, violets, incense and truffle. A full-bodied wine, perfectly balanced and elegant.

£47.25

Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cazes 'Ego' Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified organic and biodynamic estate in France. It was founded in 1895 by Michel Cazes and the wines are made by the fourth generation of winemakers, headed up by Emmanuel Cazes. The family makes a range of interesting dry wines alongside the regional specialities, Vin Doux Naturels. They took the decision to move to organic and biodynamic viticulture in 1997. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar.

Maison Cazes is set in the sunniest French region. Since the family started farming biodynamically, they have found that the vineyards are healthier and the vines are stronger, with longer roots. Vines grow on clay and limestone soils, covered by 'galets roulés' (the 'pudding stones' also found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The low yielding vines are about 30 years old, and produce 30 hectolitres per hectare.

2017 was a very early vintage thanks to the good water reserves in the soil and the mild temperature from February. The warmer temperatures in July and August aided the vegetative cycle. The grapes were picked early, when the optimal sugar and acidity levels had been obtained.

40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre. The three varieties were 100% de-stemmed and before being put in separate stainless steel vats. Only naturally occurring yeasts were used; no yeast was added to the must. Fermentation was temperature controlled at 28°C. The residual matter was circulated by pump-overs and the sediment was broken up by hand twice a day to extract the best qualities. The wine was macerated for four weeks before pressing after which it underwent malolactic fermentation.

As well as being biodynamic and organic, this wine is suitable for vegans.

The palate is bright with ripe red and black fruit aromas and rich liquorice notes, balanced by delicate tannins. This wine has a remarkable balance, thanks to its good acidity and freshness. Long finish with white pepper flavours.

£14.85

Chaffey Bros, Battle for Barossa La Resistance! 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2016 edition review of Australian GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blends (see blue link below)

Chaffey Bros Battle For Barossa La Resistance! 2014 - March 2016 Decanter review

Brothers-in-law Daniel Chaffey Hartwig and Theo Engela are the latest generation of the Chaffey family to ply their vinous trade in Australia. The original Chaffey brothers (Canadian Hydro Engineers) were true iconoclasts. They arrived in Australia in 1886 and proceeded (along with a number of their descendants) to make an indelible mark on the Australian wine landscape.

This wine, say the brothers, is a vinous rematch of the famous 1811 battle at Barrosa Ridge where Spain and France collided. La Résistance! takes up the fight for the traditional French varieties of the Barossa and pitches gnarly old vine Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre into defence against the invading foreign marauders.

See also: La Conquista!

Grenache makes up 55% of this wine, delivering a Grenache-centric GSM, with elegant Syrah (33%) and spicy Mourvèdre (12%) adding tell-tale definition and structure. The majority of the Grenache is from an old cool Williamstown vineyard, on the border of the Adelaide Hills, which is blended with Grenache from a special Krondorf Road parcel. Early harvest Syrah is from a 69 year old Ebenezer vineyard and from the Heinrich vineyard in the Lyndoch foothills, which unites with the lovely blue-fruit characters of Syrah from a small Northern Eden Valley vineyard on the outskirts of Angaston. The remainder of the blend is powerful, spicy Mourvèdre.

12 months elevage in seasoned (3-8-year-old) French oak hogsheads has provided the perfect framework/support to the deep-fruited, dark cherry, strawberry and mineral laden (graphite/ferrous) palate with a lovely savoury lick of supple fine-grain tannin. Gentle refreshing acidity gives great line and drives the brooding and delicious fruit through to a lingering finish.

This is definitely a Grenache-driven GSM! Subtle seasoned oak and caramel lead to a deep-fruited, dark cherry and strawberry palate with supple fine-grain tannin.

£15.65

Chante Cigale Chateauneuf Du Pape 2016 (1x75cl)

Domaine Chante Cigale is one of the most important family estates of Chateauneuf du Pape. Alexandre Favier is now carefully running the winery with respect to his family's winemaking heritage. It is is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Orange and Sorgues, on a variety of soils which contain a high proportion of ‘galets.’ These are the large stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape which heat up during the day and release their heat at night, allowing the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness. The estate stretches over more than 40 hectares. This land is divided into 45 parcels, scattered all over this exceptional terroir. The diversity of its soils and grape varieties allow for the creation of unique and exceptional wines. Alexandre Favier and his team take good care of every step during the wine's production themselves, respecting the spirit of the Domaine.

The vines used to create this wine are around 60 years old. A sympathetic vinification is carried-out, which is respectful to the entire grape to preserve its fruit and minerality, the identity of the  vineyard and a deeply rooted terroir. This is a hands-off style of vinification in which every move counts and it is carried out with precision, respect and passion. Firstly fermentation lasts about five days. The wine is then allowed to macerate for between 21 - 24 days. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur naturally.  This wine was then aged in their cellar for approximately 24 months in a combination of vats (70%) and burgundian pieces / casks (30%) before the final step of the blending: this crucial and fascinating moment will reveal the entire complexity of this great “terroir”.

Deep ruby in colour with a wonderful nose of spice and dark fruits this is a real winter warmer. The palate is rich and ripe with layers of fruit and spice supported by fine tannins. Some of our suggestions for matching food to this wine are: warm cabbage salad with roquefort and peppered bacon, roast leg of lamb with mustard and red wine sauce or spiced venison steaks with red-cabbage confit and red-wine sauce.

£27.80

Charles Melton Nine Popes 2015 (1x 75cl)

Charles Melton Wines has produced premium Barossa red wines since 1984. At that time, Charlie and a small band of Barossan winemakers turned their winemaking efforts to what were then considered a couple of unfashionable varieties: Shiraz and Grenache. These wines were initially styled on those from the Rhône but are now considered leading examples of the varieties in their own right.

The Grenache in this blend comes from old bush vines in the Barossa, many of which are over 80 years old. The Mataro is also from a small parcel of bush vines in the Eden Valley, whilst the Shiraz is trellis grown. The blend is made up primarily of grapes from Charles Melton's prime vineyards plus some from the vineyards of a small number of trusted partner growers. None of the vineyards are irrigated, they are all dry grown. This coupled with the low yielding old vines leads to great concentrations of flavour in the grapes.

The perfect balance of a little rain in January and sunshine in February got the 2015 vintage off to a flying start. This was one of the earliest starts to a growing season ever, and mild conditions in March and April ensured the ripening period was problem free. More than 60% of the crop was harvested in the first seven days with the total harvest lasting 50 days.

Charlie Melton uses a range of different techniques in the production of the Nine Popes. The fermentation was carried out with indigenous yeasts at relatively cool temperatures (18-23ºC) to retain elegant fruit flavours. With both traditional pump overs and hand plunging. A portion of whole bunches were used in the Grenache ferments, some of which were co-fermented with the Shiraz. After the fermentation, the wine was left in contact with its lees and underwent periodic lees stirring. It was aged in predominantly French oak barriques and foudres for two years. Before bottling, the wine was racked but no fining agents were used.

This wine is deep red in colour with a hint of an amber edge. The nose is intense with ripe red fruit flavours intermingled with sweet spice and salted caramel. Beautifully balanced with a plump mouthfeel and soft tannins, it culminates in a long savoury finish.

£42.65

Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah 2017 (1x75cl)

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Charles Smith.

Charles Smith Boom Boom Syrah 2017 - fiche technique

In the maker's words: Boom Boom! exploded on the wine industry in 2007, and this spicy Syrah has been one of Washington State’s signature wines ever since. It’s a tribute to Charles’ first love lost—a woman nicknamed “Boom Boom” O’Brien—and it’s one of the biggest and boldest Syrahs of all time. It’s not surprising that wine drinkers everywhere have fallen in love with it.

More conventionally expressed: This wine is made by Charles Smith, a self–taught winemaker who brings his rock and roll spirit to the vineyards of Walla Walla, Washington. As a romantic young man, Charles Smith moved across the world to Denmark to follow his love for his girlfriend at the time. In Scandinavia, he became a recognized manager for rock bands such as The Raveonettes. While travelling on the road with these bands, he developed his passion for wine. In 1999, he moved back to Washington, opened a wine store and became friendly with a French winemaker, later convincing him to move to Walla Walla to make wine together.

Aromas of fresh picked herbs and wet earth. Rich black cherry and tobacco are followed by hints of lavender on the finish. An explosive dark cherry bomb! We'd agree with other tasting notes we've seen that read, "blackberry, boysenberry, dry-hung meat, white pepper, savoury herbs". The "crushed granite" bit... not so much.

£17.65

Chateau Bernadotte Cru Bourgeois 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting review of Haut-Medoc Bordeaux 2010 (see blue link below). 

Chateau Bernadotte Cru Bourgeois 2010 - January 2019 Decanter review

Formerly known as Chateau Fournas, this estate was renamed Bernadotte in 1997 after a past owner, Marshal Bernadotte, who was the Sovereign Prince under the rule of Napoleon I.  Madame de Lencquesaing, owner of Chateau Pichon Lalande at the time, acquired Chateau Bernadotte in 1997 and proceeded to renovate every aspect of the estate.  

The breakdown of the grapes used in Chateau Bernadotte is as follows: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Their vines are on average 25 years old. 

Vinification takes place in stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks. Malolactic fermentation is then allowed to take place in tank before the wine is aged for 12-18 months in French oak barrels (30% new wood).

"Strong new-wood aromas lead to a palate that is layered with firm tannins, a polished toast character and a sufficient ripe blackberry flavour to balance. This 2010 bottling shows that this is a chateau to watch." Wine Enthusiast 92 points. This wine will be drinking well between 2018 - 2025. It has also received awards from Wine Spectator (90 points) and James Suckling (90 points). Chateau Bernadotte is a very versatile wine that pairs well with most meats, braised or grilled.  It is also perfect when served with hearty fish, pasta, and Asian dishes.

£24.95

Chateau Branaire Ducru 4Eme Cru Classe 2008 (1x 75cl)

Classified as a fourth growth, Château Branaire-Ducru is located in the Saint-Julien appellation of Bordeaux. It was acquired by a family enterprise in 1988 and Patrick Maroteaux, who manages the estate, has made considerable improvements to the property. This has given the wine wonderfully consistent quality.

The wine is made in an innovative and practical winery that relies on gravity, eliminating the need to use pumps with the harvested fruit and wine. There is a wide range of tanks of different sizes, which makes it possible to carry out a considered and thorough selection based on the varying characteristics of the different vineyard plots. Around a third of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels. The wines are aged traditionally for between 18 and 24 months in barrels made from French oak (50% of which are new). They are always fined using egg white. 

Château Branaire Ducru is a wine with much complexity and it has the potential to age well over time. The 2008 has an attractive bouquet of ripe plums with densely packed red and black fruit aromas. The palate offers notes of forest, earth and cedar as well as tobacco and leafy notes. It has generous, dense tannins that will soften with age.

£38.90

Chateau Brande-Bergere Bordeaux Superieur 2015 (1x75cl)

Château Brande Bergère is located in the north of Saint-Emilion on a hill with gravelly soil on clay subsoil. It is one of the highest points of the Bordeaux region, overlooking the Dronne valley for over 25 miles. The vineyard of Brande Bergère has been cultivated since the 18th century, and in the 19th century, it was given the designation of origin “North Saint Emilion”. The estate was bought in 1997 by the current owners, Edith and Denis Dalibot. Their winemakers help create powerful, yet elegant wines, with intense aromas and a generous bouquet. This richness allows for a long maturation in the cellar.

This wine is the signature of Château Brande Bergère, reflecting both their terroir and the hard work that is done in the vineyard as well as the cellar. Deep red in colour, this wine is well structured, round, and very elegant.

The winemaker's tasting note for this wine is as follows. "Clean and shiny ruby color. Cherry and violet aromas on the nose. Round and soft tannins make a voluptuous yet balanced wine. This wine delivers ample volume on the palate."

Please click on the blue link below to see some of the technical information for this wine.

Chateau Brande-Bergère 2015 - fiche technique

£12.75
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