The 2016 vintage of this wine (now very hard to find - we can't) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition article on Discovery/New Wave Spain (see blue link below).
Alfredo Maestro Tejero’s vineyards are located within the Ribera del Duero D.O., but Alfredo has decided not to participate in the D.O., so his wines are classed as Vino de la Tierra de Castillo y León. They are completely natural wines, with no sulphur added in the vineyard or the winery. All vineyard treatments are natural and biodynamic practices are followed.
The isolated Gredos mountain range which lies 70 kilometres west of Madrid is home to a mosaic of tiny old-vine vineyards planted mainly to Grenache. El Marciano comes from one such 70-year-old granitic site lying at a staggering 1,150 metres elevation. The grapes are mainly destemmed, 20% whole bunches were retained and fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel vat of 2000 litres with daily stirrings. The wine undergoes no filtration or fining and has no added sulphur.
This gorgeous wine typifies Alfredo’s delicate touch and respect for his land. It is juicy and flavoursome, laden with spicy blackberry aromas as well as raspberry, liquorice and a fresh earth scented palate. The texture is rock-sculpted (the granite bedrock of the site lies just a few inched below the surface) and the acidity is thrillingly bright, drawing all corners together.
The label is a representation of the remote and barren granite-ridden landscape that make up this wine’s terroir. It depicts Alfredo directing two martian vineyard workers who are clearly not comfortable in their endeavours. El Marciano translates from Spanish as The Martian.
The 2013 vintage (no longer available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Priorat (see blue link below).
In the heart of the Priorat appellation, between the villages of Bellmunt and Falset, is Pinord's Mas Blanc estate. Their 18 hectares of vineyard have been farmed organically from the beginning and most recently the family have adopted many biodynamic farming techniques. They believe by attempting to maintain a balance with the land they will be leaving it a better place for future generations
The grapes are sourced from seven different plots of vineyard, where the soils are made up of a slate known locally as licorella. The vines are cultivated organically and harvested by hand.
Following a meticulous selection process, the grapes underwent a careful maceration, extracting the primary aromas, flavours and the deep colour of the final wine. It was then aged for 14 months in American and French oak barrels, followed by 12 months in bottle.
Grenache 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Syrah 20%.
Generous blackcurrant fruit complemented by vanilla, chocolate and truffle, all enveloped in a dense and layered palate. Ripe, dense black fruits, vanilla and chocolate aromas envelope the full bodied, but elegant palate, which is rich and very silky with a long, smooth finish.
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
The origins of the López-Montero family in wine-making and distilling date back to 1788. It was then when the first of their wineries in Tomelloso was registered, which is still on the records at the local archives of the town. In 1963 Juan Antonio López Ramírez and María Victoria Montero established Altosa, a winery and distillery that continues to make and market wines and distilled spirits. In 2005, María Victoria, with her daughter, María Belén, and her sons, Juan Antonio, Pedro José and Elías, created Bodegas y Viñedos Verum. The brand encompasses the wines of the López-Montero family from the best vineyards and terroirs in their property.
Put simply, La Mancha's Bodegas Verum is an organic vineyard which produces mono-varietal wines from both traditional grapes and forgotten indigenous varietals such as Albillo Real and Tinto Velasco.
For this, the Ulterior Parcela #17, a single-vineyard wine from Parcela 17 of the El Romeral vineyard, the grapes are picked by hand, destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless still tanks, then transferred to old barrels for malolactic fermentation. 10% of the wine is aged in oak demi-muids of 600 liters made of new French oak, the rest in earthen jars (clay) of ~ 5,000 liters for 8 months. After bottling, it is held another 12 months before release.
Verum puts its wines on sale when they are at the optimum moment for consumption; nevertheless, you can store this wine up to 7 years after harvest.
Cherry red with white trim, bright. On the nose it is intense, highlighting a floral character of violets, lavender and other aromatic herbs (typical of ripe Graciano) with a background of black fruit and subtle cocoa. On the palate it is also intense and ripe with smooth/fine-grained tannins that provide structure. There is great persistence that brings back the black fruits and violets, plus a touch of appealing bitterness that adds character.
Or, as DWWA 19 put it:
"Bright and pure purple berry fruit nose with attractive vanilla bean new oak aromas. On the palate, this is sumptuous and rich with generous, fleshy fruit. Very pure and expressive".
ABV = 13.5%.
Cambridge Road Vineyard is a small family farmed estate established in 1986 with the intention of making world class Pinot Noir and Syrah. They focus both time and energy on perfecting and beautifying their land and cultivating it according to natural biodynamic and eco-farming principles. They believe in minimal intervention winemaking, low yields, and healthy living wines.
This is the latest wine in the history of Syrah production from their home vineyard. 2015 was a low cropping year with beautiful ripeness. Harvested in late April the fruit was handled simply.
It spent 27 with days' skin contact & 12 months in neutral oak casks. It was wild fermented and bottled after one year with no fining or filtration.
This wine is 100% Syrah.
Dark spiced plum characters are apparent in the silken structured wine. Bold in weight and generous body.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
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.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Chateau Coupe-Roses.
Its expression is a blend of power and complex aromatic characters, candied fruits, spice, pepper and blackcurrant, with a fresh acidity.
Chateau Musar first started producing the Musar Jeune range of wines in 2006 from the fruit of low-yielding Bekaa Valley vines at around 1,000 metres above sea level. Altitude keeps the average temperature at 25 degrees Celsius with hot sunny days and cool nights and with 300 days of sunshine a year, grapes are ripened to perfection. Unoaked and made according to Musar’s natural non-interventionist winemaking philosophy, Musar Jeune wines are vibrantly fruity, richly concentrated and this vintage is no exception.
The Musar Jeune Red is a blend of old vines Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from organically certified vineyards.
The wines were fermented in concrete vats between 27 and 29 ºC, they were not fined or filtered and sedimentation occurred naturally. After the varieties were blended it rested in concrete vats again until being bottled in the summer.
This wine is a deep burgundy red with an attractive red cherry and violet aroma. The flavours are of juicy, sweet summer fruits; raspberries, black cherries with hints of elderberry and hibiscus. The flavours are beautifully balanced with soft tannins and fresh underlying acidity and incense-like spice.
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition tasting/review (by John Livingstone-Learmonth) of the excellent 2015 Southern Rhône vintage (see blue link below).
Clos du Joncuas is run by Ferdinand Chastan and his son Dany. There are 29 hectares in total of mainly old vines and the estate is run strictly along organic lines having achieved organic status in 1989.
This wine is made traditionally in cement tanks, with vinification temperatures of between 30°Cand 33°C. Fermentation takes place naturally with only the indigenous yeast of each grape berry, which expresses the genuine and deep flavors of this land. This helps to protect the wine's unique flavours. There is a long maceration of 25 to 30 days, and the wine is made using pumping over. When the wine is completed, two extractions are done to clarify the wine, without fining or filtration. It then spends 12 months in oak barrels, and bottled without fining or filtering.
This full-bodied red is 80% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Cinsault.
It has a deep and sustained purple colour, deploys intense flavours of red and black fruits in his youth, evolving towards more spicy and woody notes, when it reaches full maturity. It is a full and balanced warm wine. Long and velvety on the palate. This wine has the capacity to age for between 8 and 12 years.
ABV = 15.0%.
The Conterno Fantino winery was founded in 1982 by Claudio Conterno and Guido Fantino. Today they cultivate 27 hectares of vines and produce about 140,000 bottles per year, split between the 4 varietals of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Chardonnay. Over the years, the two founders have been joined by Alda, Fabio and Elisa Fantino in various roles. Environmental sustainability, preserving biodiversity, respect of the land and its heritage are the guiding principles in the vineyards, which are organically cultivated and certified by CCPB. The Conterno Fantino winery styles its wines with the primary goal of reflecting their own identity: from painstaking manual selection of fruit which is harvested by hand using small crates; from preserving the aromas of the vineyard with spontaneous fermentation from indigenous yeasts (no commercial yeast is used here); from the careful use of wood for the ageing of the wines to the minimal use of sulfites, right up to the bottle ageing. "Our wine is the offspring of the land in which the wines are cultivated, and once in the winery must be brought up, step by step, as if it were a member of the family. Our wine is one of us."
This wine is 100% Barbera.
A wine ruby red in appearance with cherry reflections. Elegantly scented with pleasant notes of cherry and sour cherry. Very rich extractions on the palate, persistent but simultaneously soft. Excellent served with roasted red and white meats, and strong cheeses such as: penne with stir-fried beef and red bell pepper, provencal lamb with Mediterranean vegetables, pistachio-crusted pork with plum sauce and fried leeks or spiced venison steaks with red-cabbage confit and red-wine sauce.
To see an information sheet for this wine that has been produced by the team at Conterno Fantino, please click on the blue link below.
Founded in 1982, Conterno Fantino testifies to the talent and vision of viticulturist Claudio Conterno (formerly of Giacomo Conterno) and his partner, oenologist Guido Fantino. These great wines start in exceptional vineyard sites at Monforte and are lovingly nurtured in the state-of-the-art winery at Bricco Bastia. This location is scenically set, dominating the most ancient section of Monforte and overlooked by the majestic sweep of the Alps.
Vigna del Gris, from Ginestra at 300m, is on a sandier portion of vineyard that faces south-east and favours delicacy and elegance.
Short maceration on skins, vinified in rotary fermenters and aged two years in French oak barrels from coopers Taransaud, Boutes and Quintessence, followed by 12 months in the bottle.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Conterno Fantino.
“The 2010 Barolo Vigna del Gris is beautiful, layered and expressive. Sweet tobacco, mint, licorice, crushed flowers and plums meld together in a supple, gracious wine for the year. Sweet rose petals and mint add an attractive upper register of trademark aromatics and perfume as the wine opens up in the glass. The 2010 remains dense and compact, but it is impossible to miss that the tannins here are more refined than has typically been the case with the Gris in the past, which is probably the result of vines getting older. The 2010 needs time to unwind, but it is quite pretty and full of potential. Conterno Fantino gave the 2010 a year in 100% new French oak, followed by a year in a combination of equal parts barrique and cask".
94 points, Antonio Galloni, Jan 2014, Vinous Media
"The 2010 Barolo Vigna del Gris comes from 30-year-old vines and southeast exposures (not far from where the legendary Monfortino wine is made). A vein of sandy soil in the vineyard makes for special conditions that favor delicate aromas of blue flower, forest fruit, ash and brimstone. In essence, this is a sharply focused and linear expression that leaves a direct and long-lasting impact in the mouth. Drink: 2017-2028".
93 points, Monica Larner, 26 June 2014, Wine Advocate
ABV = 14.0%.
It all started way back in 1886, when Paolo Conterno founded the Casa della Ginestra, dedicated to the production of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto wines. An indefatigable worker with a mind of great intuition, he devoted the most favourable parts of the Ginestra hillside to the growing of the grapes, subdividing them by type, exposure and terrain. Furthermore, he had the foresight to predict the existence of a market of connoisseurs of superior quality products, selling his own wine in wooden kegs and produced by himself in his own cellar. Paolo was succeeded by his son Carlo and his wife Giuseppina. The company was subsequently run by Paolo and Caterina Conterno and today the company is managed by their son Giorgio.
This wine is from 4.5ha of land close to the Conterno Fantino winery. At just under 600m asl the vineyard is high for the Barolo region and average slope is consequently steep, at 25%. The composition of the soil is predominantly sandy (57%) which is ideal for the production of perfumed, floral Dolcetto with an attractive acid structure. The average age of the vines is 15 years, and over recent seasons quality has been improved through top grafting with small-berried, loose-bunched clones. Yields are low for Dolcetto, at slightly over 50 hl/ha.
The grapes are selected and picked by hand at the beginning of September. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration take place on the skins in stainless steel horizontal fermenters over 4 - 5 days. The wine is then aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks before being bottled.
This wine is made from (certified) organically grown grapes and is 100% Dolcetto.
Mouthwatering acid structure and agreeably soft in texture. Displays lovely cherry, berry and floral flavours, with an earthy, barnyard note. Ready to drink.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their Italy 2019 supplement as part of an article on Sicily (see blue link below).
The south-eastern province of Ragusa, around the town of Vittoria, is home to the revived Cerasuolo di Vittoria, a red wine made from 60 percent Nero d’Avola and 40 percent Frappato. The Italian government has granted it DOCG status (the strictest appellation in Italy), which makes Cerasuolo di Vittoria the first Sicilian wine to enjoy this prestigious designation. It was Giusto Occhipinti, who started the COS winery with two classmates back in the early 1980s. On a shoestring budget, the three friends vinified the grapes from their parents’ vineyards. They even bought Angelo Gaja’s used French barrels back in 1983 to age the wine.
Since then the journey has taken them away from oak to cement and finally into amphora in order to obtain the most aromatic expression of the wines. They are also keen to note that COS does not use selected yeasts and has never used chemicals in the vineyards. “Our goal isn’t to make wines that impress wine critics, but to make wine that expresses our great terroir. Here, Nero d’Avola is more elegant than in other regions, and has these great mineral notes from the soil. This is what gives the Cerasuolo di Vittoria its rich fruit, while the Frappato gives the wine its floral components and freshness,” Occhipinti says.
The Cerasuolo shows a brilliant ruby red colour and nuances of ruby red. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of raspberry, blueberry, carob, violet, tobacco and vanilla. The flavours have good balance with the aromas, this wine is slightly tannic with a pleasing crispness, however the alcohol, body and intense flavours remain balanced. The finish is persistent with flavours of black cherry, plum and blackberry.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Italian wines made without the use of oak (see blue link below).
Three friends founded Azienda Agricola COS, in 1980: Giambattista Cilia, Cirino Strano and Giusto Occhipinti. The acronym of their last names is where the name for the winery – COS – comes from. In 1980, they were the youngest wine producers in Italy. They received an old family winery from Giambattista Cilia’s father Giuseppe Cilia and the nearby vineyard of bush-trained vines in the famed town of Bastonaca. On October 5, 1980 they harvested their first vintage and made 1,470 bottles. COS began its adventure that would one day lead to the transformation of Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
The winery follows the principles of biodynamic faming in order to help the vines find and maintain a balance with nature in order to be able to express their true character and that of their terroir. For vinification, they decided to use terracotta vases that left no traces or aromas on the wine but were completely neutral vessels. In 2000, Pithos was born, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria that ferments and ages in amphora. They finished working on a building in Fontane, which in 2003 became the headquarters of the winery. In 2005, they made the first wine that bore the Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation, the only one in Sicily. The harvest of 2007 saw the winery in a new location and was the beginning of use of only amphora. The winery got rid of the barrels that they had and use only 150 amphorae.
Today COS is associated not only with the success of Cerasuolo di Vittoria but also with rigor and quality. It’s thanks to these three friends that the region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria was reborn and the area around Vittoria is thriving with its extraordinary wines.
“Our goal isn’t to make wines that impress wine critics, but to make wine that expresses our great terroir. Here, Nero d’Avola is more elegant than in other regions, and has these great mineral notes from the soil. This is what gives the Cerasuolo di Vittoria its rich fruit, while the Frappato gives the wine its floral components and freshness,” Occhipinti says.
The Pithos Rosso is fermented in giare which are terracotta amphorae (250l and 400l). The identity of the Frappato is marked on the nose with exuberant expression of violets and raspberry blossom. The mouth is floral, warm and supple, the berry fruit flavours complemented by soft tannins.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).
Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with their philosophy summed up in three simple words; ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. It is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Wilyabrup, in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen and now run by their daughter Vanya, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for fine certified biodynamic wines that receive critical national and international acclaim. All wines produced are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Estates. Both are certified biodynamic, to allow the soil to be nurtured and the wines to reflect their sense of place.
The Mangan vineyard is dry farmed and maintained using a biodynamic approach to viticulture. Soils are old, granite and gravely sandy loam, overlaying lateric subsoils. The vineyard is located adjacent to the Cullen vineyard in Wilyabrup. The vines are cane and spur pruned.
The growing season was excellent with perfectly timed rainfall – good spring rains and none during the harvest season. Another great vintage with small yields producing concentrated, richer wines with plenty of character.
The grapes were hand harvested from the prime sections of the eastern blocks of the Mangan vineyard. Fruit was then destemmed and vinified with the emphasis on accentuating the fruit character of the grapes. It was naturally fermented, basket pressed and then matured for 17 months in seasoned French oak.
72% Petit Verdot, 28% Malbec.
Vibrant deep purple, with violet floral notes complemented by dark fruit and spicy notes. On the palate this wine is structured and dense with plums, bitter chocolate and a hint of sweet spice. Fantastic refined tannins carrying a very long finish.
ABV = 14.0%.
Catherine & Dominique Derain are biodynamic producers in Burgundy with vines in a number of different Burgundian appellations. Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels but decided, instead, to study wine making in Beaune where he met Catherine, his wife. In 1988 he and Catherine purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically and making their wines in a very non-interventionist way.
The Derains always adopt a minimalist approach. They farm biodynamically, hand harvest, do not chaptalize or acidify and use the barest amount of sulphur in their winemaking approach. All the fruit is hand-picked and they destem 90% of their red grapes before fermentation, which occurs in wooden vats. After fermentation the wine is aged in old oak casks for 12-18 months. The couple never use SO2 during the winemaking process, adding only a small amount at bottling for stabilization.
Their thrilling Mercurey from old biodynamically-tended vines (100 years old) reaches an altogether different level. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Beurrot (related to the Pinot Gris).
There is a silky nature to this Mercurey giving it a supple mouthfeel and a detailed range of raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of pomegranate. It has lovely spice notes and touch of lavender on the nose. Striking elegance, complexity and length.
ABV = 12.0%.