Bodegas Olarra was created in 1973. Situated on the outskirts of the city of Logroño in Rioja Alta, their winery – a Y-shaped building designed to make optimum use of the space for both production and ageing of the wine – is known as “the Cathedral of La Rioja”. From the beginning, the winery has known how to combine the traditional methods of production and ageing with the most advanced modern techniques of viticulture and vinification. A favourable geographic location, gives the vineyards all the ingredients to produce good fruits. Indeed the clay and chalky soil is watered by the rain and the Ebro river. This area also benefits from warm sunshine and the influence of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. In 1978, Bodegas Olarra achieved their first Gold medal for a Cerro Añon wine in the tenth International Wines and Spirits Competition in the UK. Numerous awards followed from then on, proof of the outstanding quality of their wines.
The 2016 vintage was officially classified as Very Good by the Rioja Control Board (Consejo Regulador) and was the earliest in the history of the Rioja appellation. September in particular was key to attain this vintage’s high level of quality. As a general remark, Olarra's wines from this vintage have a high level of fruitiness, soft, elegant tannins, great potential for aromatic development and outstanding conditions for ageing. The grapes for Cerro Añon Crianza are mostly drawn from their vineyards in Rioja Alavesa, although some from Rioja Alta are also included. The average vine age is around 20 years and the main soil pattern in the vineyards is the well-known limestone/clay mix found in most of north-west Rioja. Harvests took place in mid-September, yielding very healthy fruit and a ripeness level unprecedented at that time of year.
85% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano.
Maceration time was 15-16 days with daily pumping-over (remontage) in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 27ºC. One third of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in new 225-litre French and American oak casks, while the remaining two-thirds underwent malolactic in concrete tanks.
Barrel ageing was conducted in 225-litre oak casks/barricas, of which 80% were made of American wood. This lasted fourteen to fifteen months with regular racking. Barrel ages ranged from brand new to 7 years. After fining and bottling, the wine remained Olarra's bottle cellar for a minimum of seven months before the started of release.
At the time of release, this showed a deep purple red with crisp raspberry aromas. On the palate, similar aromas came through followed by layers of spiciness, a firm but velvety mouthfeel and a long clean finish.
This is one of those not-so-frequent examples of a Crianza that will improve for the next 5 to 7 years.
See also blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Bodegas Olarra.
Bodegas Ondarre, is based in Viana, a historic town six kilometres from Logroño, Rioja's capital. Founded in 1986 it has quickly become one of the standout producers in the region with its elegant and distinguishable style. Their most acclaimed wines are their Reservas, which win top awards and critical approval every year. They attribute their success to the hard work in the vineyards and their continual investment into the winery and barrel stock. They use both French and American oak casks to help them obtain the incredible character in their wines. As well as their Reservas, they produce a few thousand cases of a single varietal Graciano; this is a real rarity due to the low-yielding nature of the vine.
A cold winter with high rainfall, followed by further rains in April and May created good soil water reserves. Weather patterns were mixed over the summer, with some rain, sunny days and overcast days, but véraison occurred on time and the growth cycle of the vines continued at a steady pace. September saw warm, sunny weather which encouraged the ripening of the berries. The grapes were exceptionally healthy and of very good quality at harvest.
The grapes are grown in vineyards covering 1,200 hectares around the winery, at the point confluence of La Rioja, Alava and Navarra. The area offers an optimum climate and terroir. The vines are grown in clay-based soils with high iron and chalk content.
Each grape variety was fermented separately in temperature controlled vats at 28 to 30°C, which lasted for between 16 to 18 days. The wine was blended and then aged for 16 months in American and French oak, Bordeaux-type casks imparting subtle oak complexity. During the maturation the wine was racked four times, in order to gently extract phenolic compounds by oxygenating the wine. This produced a softer wine which exhibits great varietal fruit character.
Tempranillo 75%, Mazuelo 15%, Garnacha 10%.
Leather, vanilla and spice of traditionally made Rioja enveloped in a smooth and textured palate. Balanced, with ripe, wild strawberries and integrated tannins through to a long, lingering finish.
The Bush Telegraph is a fun and colourful new Australian brand. Using popular Australian grape varieties and blends these wines are now available at a very reasonable price point.
This full-bodied wine displays aromas and flavours of blackberries, bramble fruit, coffee and violets. This wine has a soft tannin structure.
Caruso & Minini are a part of new revival in Sicilian wine. Smaller wineries have sprung up in the past decade with private investment and a strong interest in the potential of the native grapes from Sicily. One example is Caruso & Minini. When Mario Manini met Stefano Caruso it sparked a long-held dream to produce a wine in the historical winemaking region of Marsala in Western Sicily. The Terre di Giumara range focuses on these unique and delicious Sicilian grapes.
This wine is a blend of Frappato and Nerello Mascalese (the makers do not specify the relative proportions, but it would surprise us if this were not ~50/50).
To see an information and tasting sheet for this wine that has been prepared by the team at Caruso & Minini, please click on the blue link below.
Caruso & Minini are a part of new revival in Sicilian wine. Small wineries have sprung up in the past decade with private investment and a strong interest in the potential of the native grapes from Sicily. One example is Caruso & Minini. When Mario Manini met Stefano Caruso. it sparked a long-held dream to produce a wine in the historical winemaking region of Marsala in Western Sicily.
For decades the Perricone (or the so-called pignatello) had been the undisputed leader of the red grapes in western Sicily. A careful vinification has transformed the prickly character into a incomparable personality: a one of a kind wine. Rich with red fruits, mixed with notes of liquorice, a typical expression of the relationship between the variety and its land. Wine of great power and harmony while expressing, at the same time, a fresh and lively character.
This wine is a great match for charcuterie and other salty antipasti, aubergine dishes, veggie pies and cheeses.
** NOW IN STOCK BUT SELLING FAST! **
Awarded a Platinum medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Cellier des Dauphins was established in 1967 by the Union des Vignerons des Côtes du Rhône. Rather than being a producer in its own right, it encompasses a major co-operative network of grape-growers and winemakers throughout the southern Rhône valley. The Cellier des Dauphins vineyards lie in the Rhône Valley, the foothills of the southern Alps rising in the distance. In these terroirs, sun-drenched vines swaying in the southern breeze, grow the renowned grape varieties that have made the Côtes du Rhône famous: Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and many other regional grapes.
The network comprises over 2,500 families and 12,500 hectares of production land across 20 of the main Southern Rhône appellations, among them Plan de Dieu, Puyméras and Valréas. Exceptional terroirs produce the most illustrious crus: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, Vinsobres and Cairanne.
Such diversity of both grape varieties and terroirs enables the Cellier's winemakers to produce aromatic blended wines of great complexity, of which this Côtes du Rhône rouge is a standout example.
For greater detail on this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the team at Cellier des Dauphins.
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.
This wine displays a deep red hue with ruby tints and notes of sun-ripened black fruit on the nose. The palate offers a velvety texture and spicy notes underpinned by ripe black fruit, blackcurrants and black cherries. A more modern take on the traditional Côtes du Rhône style, this wine combines structure, freshness and smooth tannins. It has a seductively elegant, intense and long-lingering finish.
or, as the DWWA19 panel put it:
"This is delicious! Very classy and appealing aromas of flowers, garrigue, spice and forest floor. On the palate sweet vanilla oak marries into the charming and svelte herbal, red and blue fruit mix. It's full of flavour, super supple, super drinkable and authentic. Bouquet, taste, finish: all are magnificent!".
Awarded 84 points and Commended status by Decanter in their April 2019 Panel Tasting on Chilean Carmenère.
Château Los Boldos was founded in 1991 and is situated 100km south of Santiago in the foothills of the Cachapoal Andes. Working with a portion of old vines originally planted in 1948, the focus from the onset has been on the production of premium wines. The estate has been transformed since it was purchased by Sogrape in 2008. Renowned soil scientist and viticultural consultant Pedro Parra (of Clos des Fous) was brought in to assess the plots and match the right variety to the different soils around the estate. The type of rootstock, planting density, orientation and the frequency of irrigation were all within Pedro’s remit, and the results are now being seen in the wines, especially since Victor Arce, previously of Perez Cruz, joined as winemaker in 2015.
Los Boldos has 170 hectares of vineyards which benefit from a Mediterranean climate. The clear, bright skies during the summer and the diurnal temperature range are ideal for growing fruit that maintains fresh acidity while ripening to perfection. The nearby Cachapoal river also moderates temperatures, while stony alluvial soils in the vineyard ensure low yields. Los Boldos makes wine exclusively from their own vineyards, thereby controlling everything from grape to bottle.
The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks for eight days at temperatures between 25-28°C before undergoing malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged for six months in oak (60% French, 40% American) to soften tannins and add complexity.
With an intense, deep ruby colour, the wine has red and black cherry notes with black pepper and chocolate on the finish. Its rounded texture and fruitiness give it an appealing, plush mouthfeel.
At Bodegas San Valero, tradition and innovation go hand in hand in the production of a wide range of wines that are consistantly enjoyable. Constant innovation, respect for tradition and oenological excellence are the three guiding priciples under which their wines are made. They produce a wide range of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines using their 70 years of tradition and knowledge in winemaking as well as utilising the most up to date production control techniques.
Made from Tempranillo and Garnacha, this easy-going red boasts dark berry fruits with a hint of pepper on the finish.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has long been a staple value red in Italian trattorias in the UK, but the appellation has in recent years seen several ambitious winemakers push the boundaries of quality ever higher. This has resulted in some fantastic accolades for the region's top wines in the Gambero Rosso, and one such winning producer is Fratelli Barba.
This wine is aged in stainless steel as well as French and American oak casks.
Full of cherry and plum fruit, and classic almond character on the nose. Full-bodied, great rustic texture, with very well integrated tannins and elegant finish.
Il Faggio is made by Alana McGettigan, at one of the region's best co-operatives in the northern part of the Abruzzi. The aim is to capture in the bottle the power and intensity of the grape, together with a lift and freshness which is seldom found in wine from this region. The name, Il Faggio, derives from the fabulous beech trees which proliferate in this area, especially in the Abruzzo national park.
The grapes for this wine were grown on the hills and flatter vineyards surrounding the town of San Salvo in Abruzzo.
The 2017 harvest was 30% smaller than previous years. A cold winter with heavy snowfall was followed by high temperatures in spring and summer with little rain to relieve the vines. This climate favoured the red varieties, which resulted in excellent red wines.
Only the best quality grapes were chosen for this blend, from primarily hand-harvested fruit. At the winery the grapes were de-stemmed, crushed and pumped to stainless steel tanks where the must was innoculated with selected yeast strains and fermented for about 6 days at temperatures up to 34°C. Regular pump overs took place, more frequently during the first few days, to increase extraction which became less frequent towards the end of the fermentation process. After pressing, the wine was transferred to tank for malolactic fermentation to take place.
A deep ruby red in colour, with lifted notes of dark fruits, plums and cherries with a hint of mocha. This wine has soft, ripe tannins and a delicious chocolate-cherry finish.
The 2012 vintage was Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in August 2017 (see blue link below).
Molise is located in the southern part of Central Italy. Only 2% of its production is graded as DOC. Hillside vineyards with excellent exposure, morainic and calcareous soils together with a combination of maritime and continental climate provide a favorable terroir for the cultivation of vines. The 15 to 25 year old vines are trained in the Sylvoz and Spur Cordon fashion, with 2800 to 3300 vines planted per hectare, yields are around 110 hl/ha. Grapes were hand and machine harvested in late September.
Made from equal thirds of Aglianico, Montepulciano and Trebbiano. Traditional vinification with 10-12 days of maceration at a controlled temperature of 25°-26°C. The wine is aged for 18 months in large oak barrels, and the for 18 months in stainless steel tanks.
Purply red colour that will develop to garnet with age. The bouquet is complex and intense with hints of blackberry jam. On the palate the wine is velvety and harmonious with pleasant, firm tannins.
The wine pairs well with roast meats, game, pheasant or salami. Serve at 18-20° (ie really quite warm!)
The Wildcard wines are named after Sky Masterson, the gambler hero of the musical Guys & Dolls. Peter Lehmann Wines was originally named Masterson Wines between 1977 and 1981, as it was the biggest gamble ever taken by Peter Lehmann and the growers. The wines are soft and forward and easy drinking but still bear the hallmark quality of head winemaker Nigel Westblade and his team. “We buy grapes, not bulk wine, as we can make a much better wine that way,” he says.
Peter Lehmann Wines has established a close partnership with growers across South Australia, enabling the production of a rich and vibrant wine with strong varietal definition.
The fruit was fermented on skins for five to seven days with frequent pumpovers, prior to pressing. After clarification, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation in tank. It was then transferred to oak for four to six months to build complexity and texture without compromising fruit intensity, and was bottled young, under screwcap, to retain freshness.
This wine is vibrant red with a dark purple hue. It has rich aromas of plum, blackcurrant and raspberry on the nose. A uniquely Australian blend, the Shiraz provides layers of ripe plum and mocha that integrate seamlessly with mint and blackcurrant flavours from the Cabernet Sauvignon. The resulting wine is the perfect balance of fruity, savoury and spice characters.
The winery was created in 1997, when Dorina Lindemann moved from Germany to Portugal and devoted herself to the production of wine. Today, Dorina and her two daughters, Julia and Luisa continue to be passionate about the indigenous vines of Alentejo. It is the relationship between their wine and the terroir of Quinta da Plansel that has enabled them to work towards a precision driven style of viticulture.
Quinta da Plansel is situated about 100km from Lisbon, in the southeastern part of the city of Montemor-o-Novo. They have around 75 hectares of vineyards that are an integral part of the DOC area of Évora. This region has a temperate climate of Mediterranean characteristics. The temperatures fall quickly with the sunset and, with the maritime influence, night-time temperatures are below 18 ºC. The cool nights guarantee good acidity in the wines and a favourable aromatic profile.
This wine is 50% Touriga Nacional, 40% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 10% Trincadeira.
To see an excellent information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been produced by the team at Quinta da Plansel, please click on the blue link below.
At Red Rock they believe that there are as many hidden depths to Uluru as the amount hard work done unobtrusively by the vines in their effort to produce good quality grapes. These include spreading their roots underground in order to find water and nutrients in the soil. We often overlook the effort that the vines go through to produce a wine that is enjoyable and everyhting that you would hope for.
This is a modern take on Australian wine, concentrating on elegance and freshness. Red Rock shows new wave Australian winemaking at its best. This medium bodied Shiraz has lucious aromas of dark red fruit with just a hint of spice. This is a wine that is equally happy when matched with food or as a drink to enjoy with friends.
They say that a good wine needs time to reveal its qualities, but it also needs dedication and constant commitment. Few products can embody so much expertise and thousands of years of history as those made by Botter. It has passed through the careful hands of three generations for whom wine was a passion as well as a trade. They have responded to the constantly evolving market over time, in a process of ongoing expansion. The Tor Del Colle brand is part of the Botter stable.
To see a comprehensive tasting note for this wine, please click the blue link below.