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Alfredo Maestro Tejero El Marciano 2017 (1x 75cl)

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 El Marciano 2016 - March 2019 Decanter review

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. 

£15.20

Alpha Zeta 'A' Amarone 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition review of Amarones (see blue link below)

Alpha Zeta 2013  - May 2017 Decanter review

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

The vineyards are situated in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley. Cool currents blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which helps to moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is a mixture of clay and limestone with good drainage. The vineyards are south-facing and therefore warmer than other parts of Valpolicella.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards, characterised by abundant rain, was followed by a hot and dry period. This allowed for perfect health and organoleptic qualities in the grapes, making this 2015 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

Selected grapes were picked in mid September and left to dry in specially ventilated rooms until the end of January. During this time the grapes lost about 40% of their natural weight. The grapes were destemmed and crushed at the end of January. Fermentation temperature was between 18°-22°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 20 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large 'botti' and French oak barriques) for 18 months before bottling.

This Amarone is deep and intense on the nose with aromas of dried cherries and blueberries and notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.

£24.65

Amalaya Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

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

The 2016 vintage was Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Amalaya Malbec 2016 - Feb 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.

Overall, the Calchaquí Valley enjoyed optimal conditions in 2017, with a perfect balance between quality and quantity. The weather during the growing season was excellent, the lack of spring frost ensuring a good fruit set that resulted in healthy grapes.

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.

£12.30

Andeluna Pasionado Cabernet Franc 2015 (1x75cl)

The forthcoming 2016 vintage was 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.

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.

A warm winter was followed by a perfectly cool summer and between 10 to 50 per cent more rain than usual in the early autumn harvest months. In the Andeluna vineyards, the sloped stony soils and phenomenal drainage allowed the rain to have a mostly destressing effect on the vines, resulting in an incredible balance of flavours. The Malbec in parcels with stony and limestone soils were undisputed superstars. Due to the warm winter, the 2015 harvest was between 10 and 15 days earlier than usual.

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.

This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.

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. 

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.

£31.50

Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Rosso 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage (now depleted) was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Best Organic & Biodynamic Buys Under £30 (see blue link below).

OcchipintiSP68 - December 2017 Decanter review

Arianna’s home town of Vittoria lies in the far south of Sicily just to the west of Ragusa. It is here that she has been making wine for the past ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti who owns and runs the famous COS estate.

The grapes are manually harvested before 15 days of maceration on the skins. Indigenous yeast is used for the fermentation after which the wine is aged for 6 months in concrete vats and 1 month in bottle before release, There is no filtration prior to bottling.

70% Frappato, 30% Nero d’Avola. 

Organic (not certified). Suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Slightly opaque purple/red in the glass showing aromas of wild cherries, plum and mulberry with just a touch of raspberry lift. There are hints of flowers, leather, smoke, spice and herbs with wafts of liquorice, earth and mandarin rind. In the mouth the initial attack of fruit is awash with wild cherry sheathed in tobacco leaf with supporting fruit flavours of dark plum and blackberry. Nice cooling gravelly finish.

£20.00

Bergerie du Capucin Larmanela Rouge, Pic St Loup 2016 (1x75cl)

** AFTER VERY HIGH DEMAND, WE HAVE NOW SOLD OUT OF THIS WINE.

CURRENT INFORMATION IS THAT THERE ARE NO MORE BOTTLES AVAILABLE AT THE PRODUCER (END OF VINTAGE) BUT WE ARE PURSUING IN THE EVENT THAT REMAINING ALLOCATIONS FOR SALE IN OTHER COUNTRIES ARE NOT TAKEN UP.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE SOME, IN THE EVENT THAT WE CAN OBTAIN IT - we DO stress a slim chance - PLEASE DROP AN EMAIL TO

communications@exelwines.co.uk 

STATING HOW MANY YOU WOULD LIKE (max 8) AND WE WILL CONTACT YOU AS SOON AS WE HAVE WORD.

IN THE MEANTIME, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE PLATINUM-WINNING CHATEAU GRÉZAN SCHISTES DORÉS. **  

Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 97 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

La Bergerie du Capucin (LBdC) extends over more than 15 hectares on Pic Saint Loup land in the communes of Lauret and Valflaunès. For LBdC, wine is a family affair, its beauty and bouquet reflecting the values transmitted from generation to generation. The original Bergerie stands only a few km from the vineyard and modern winery. Jeanne, a beautiful shepherdess on the high plains of the Bergerie du Capucin - inspire their first wine, reminding  of the delicate, round characteristics of our family wines and the hill paths she trod each day.

At up to 650 metres in altitude and ~30 kilometres from the Mediterranean - on the first spurs of the Cevennes and Massif Central - the Pic Saint Loup appellation abounds with the perfume and purity of the most northern (and among the most elevated) of the Languedoc appellations; holm oaks, garrigue scrubland, pines, thyme, laurel and rosemary. Fruit springs to life from the heart of varied soils, chalky-clay on marly sub-soils, and forge their character over contrasting seasons. In winter, the soil receives enough water to balance out the moderately dry summer and the huge - but crucial - swings in temperature between day and night. The exacting and contrasting Pic Saint Loup land, its soil types and climate, are all reflected in the traits of the wines of Pic St-Loup. 

See this excellent article by Andrew Jefford - from Decanter (www.decanter.com) in October 2017 - for far more detail on both Bergerie du Capucin and the Pic St Loup appellation.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the team at Bergerie du Capucin

Bergerie Du Capucin Larmanela Rouge, Pic St Loup 2016 - fiche technique

Additional note from discussion with winemaker: those barrels are 100% French eco-responsible oak: one-third new, one-third single-use and one-third double-use. 

98% Syrah, 2% Grenache.

For our tasting note, we hand over to the DWWA19 judges:

"Pic St Loup is one of the coolest and wettest zones of Languedoc, which is one reason why it's such a great zone for Syrah; its stony limestone soils, too, privilege the perfumed side of Syrah's character. Roll the two attributes up, and you have the groundwork to create a wine like this: spellbinding Syrah scents in southern French style (forget blackcurrants, think citrus grove perfumes) infusing a wine of huge charm which would most properly be described as a midweight. The acidity is softly supportive, as are the tannins in which you can discern just a little thyme flower perfume; any oak is all but invisible. Gorgeous stuff. Drink 2019-2024".

See also this tasting video (1'18") of the 2015 vintage.

£24.95

Blank Canvas Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2019 tasting/review of carbonic maceration reds (see blue link below).

Blank Canvas Hawkes Bay Syrah 2015 - July 2019 Decanter review

Matt Thomson has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world. "Blank Canvas represents my story as a winemaker. It is an endeavour that is entirely my own expression of winemaking, is from my own funding, and is exclusively my risk". The 'Blank Canvas' is the vineyard and the variety, the winery the brush and palette (no pun intended) at the winemaker's disposal, all the while defined by the scientific grounding Matt laid at university and has built upon over the past 23 years. With partner Sophie Parker-Thomson, the aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but they feel in order to break the rules, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.

A parcel of special Syrah fruit was sourced from a single vineyard run by a good friend in Hawkes Bay’s famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region. The vineyard is over 15 years old with very low-yielding vines. The freedraining nature of the Gimblett Gravel soils with vineyards being situated on an historic riverbed facilitate this. The vines are VSP trained and cane-pruned on a single fruiting wire with high density planting.

In an unprecedented approach, Matt has co-fermented a select parcel of Syrah fruit with 7.5% Gruner Veltliner skins. This is a similar technique to what is done in Northern Rhone but with Austria’s hallmark white variety instead of France’s Viognier. Matt specifically chose Gruner so the finished wine would benefit from its white pepper note. 60% whole bunches were fermentated. The wine was hand-plunged and fermented by cultured and wild yeasts. Maturation of 10 months in new and seasoned French oak was carried out before the wine was blended and bottled unfiltered in March 2015.

100% Syrah (the Gruner skins above aside!).

Rich, powerful and brooding, the Blank Canvas Syrah is a world first for its inclusion of a unique co-fermentation partner, Gruner Veltliner. Black and red plum and boysenberry perufmes sit alongside savoury notes, particularly bacon. The black pepper and juniper of Syrah complement the white pepper notes of Gruner Veltliner. It has a velvet-like texture, fine tannins and acidity that only a cool-climate can deliver. It is incredibly dense and dark, yet hauntingly perfumed and elegant.

£23.50

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 - June 2019 Decanter review

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Garzon and click here for a video on this icon wine.

Bodega Garzon Balasto 2016 - fiche technique

When Alejandro Bulgheroni and his wife Bettina discovered Garzón, they had a family dream came true: to have the most emblematic winery of modern viticulture in Uruguay and premium wines with an intense personality and a deep sense of belonging to the land. With the advice of international enologist Alberto Antonini, they apply their philosophy which is focused on producing wines that are a true expression of their origins.

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. Grapes for Balasto are grown on soils made up of decomposed granite rock, which provides excellent drainage and minerality. This is the key to giving this iconic Uruguayan wine its complexity, energy and vibrancy.

Balasto is one of the most sought-after wines from South America and is made only in the best years. Winter was rainy, meaning underground water reserves were replenished throughout the season, ahead of spring and summer. Spring then saw a cold start, which delayed bud burst and flowering by 10 days. The summer months were dry, but thanks to the water reserves and some occasional rains towards late December, veraison began normally. The dry conditions also reduced disease pressure in the vineyard. The dry weather continued into March until the second half of harvest, and therefore drip irrigation was necessary to obtain sufficient colour and maturity. 2016 yielded perfectly mature grapes without excessive levels of sugar. The resulting wines have excellent acidity and demonstrate freshness and elegance.

45% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Franc, 18% Petit Verdot, 12% Marselan.

The hand-harvested grapes were macerated for five days before fermentation in 80 hectolitre cement tanks, at 26-28ºC for one week with twice daily pump overs. The wine was then transferred to a mix of 25 and 50 hectolitre untoasted French oak barrels (fourth use) for 20 months ageing before being bottled unfiltered

On the nose, this wine is rich with complex aromas of fresh red and black fruits, liquorice, spice and a hint of tobacco. Textural, full bodied and very elegant, the fruit is framed by juicy, vibrant tannins resulting in a wine of real vitality and expression.

£65.95

Bodegas Benito Urbina Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Mature Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2017 edition review of premium Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2016 edition review of best-buy Rioja (see blue link below).

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 - March 2016 Decanter review

Bodegas Urbina is a family run winery with four generations of dedication to grape growing and winemaking since 1870. The present winery was designed, built and run by the family Urbina since 1986 and has been created solely to facilitate the production of fine wines. Commercial winemaking within the DOC Rioja dates from 1870 and takes place in ancient underground Cuzcurrita drafts.

This wine comes from the best grapes grown on the Estate and it is made using grapes from vines that are all more than 20 years old. It is fermented at a controlled temperature of 28°C and is macerated for the final 28 days, followed by at least 36 months in oak and a further 48 months ageing in bottle.

This wine was made using 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo.

The Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 is a dark ruby colour with a thin mahogany rim. It has a complex nose, showing splendid maturity, with mineral aromas, ripe fruit, figs, cherries, plums, tomato jam and dried apricots, cigar box, cherry blossom, harmonious and well defined spicy hints of cinnamon, vanilla and clove. Some leather, snuff leaves and nutmeg. There is also a hint of musk, incense and kola nut.  it has a base of toffee candy, and balsamic notes, so is both fresh and elegant. On the palate, the flavours are harmonious and balanced, with oak and fruit tannins, showing great elegance and velvety softness, as well as a wonderful length.

£28.90

Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Rioja Gran Reserva 2011 (1x75cl)

The 2010 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Mature Rioja (see blue link below).

Vina Pomal Gran Reserva Rioja 2010 - March 2018 Decanter review

Their vineyards are located close to the winery, in the municipality of Haro. 250 hectares of vines make it the largest property in the area, and the Reserva and Gran Reserva are a true reflection of the area. With an average vine age in excess of 25 years, they endeavour to make wines with the utmost balance. The Tempranillo is enhanced with the addition of Graciano, which only matures in great vintages. Those are the vintages when they make Gran Reserva, as it is not made every year.

2011 was a year marked by a dry winter and a rainy spring which favoured vine growth. Fruit setting was irregular due to the rains in May and June. The harvest was characterised by a lack of rain and it commenced early on. A very dry summer with high temperatures speeded up final ripening. In some cases we detected a great deal of vine stress due to drought with a slight imbalance between alcoholic and phenolic ripening. On the other hand, vineyards that usually present more vigour ripened very well this year, yielding good berry quality, Vine health was practically perfect. With proper aging, in order to soften their structure, the wines show a great deal of intensity and cellaring potential.

Viña Pomal Gran Reserva is made following traditional vinification methods. The grapes are selected manually in the vineyards. At the winery, they are destemmed and crushed before undergoing a moderately long maceration in tanks. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, the wines are racked and aged in 225 litre Bordeaux barrels, traditionally American oak. After ageing in barrels for one year, the wine is racked back to tanks. This is when the blend for the Gran Reserva is determined, and 10% Graciano, a minority Rioja variety, is added to the Tempranillo. The wine is fined with egg whites and put in barrels again for another year to complete its two years’ ageing in oak. After its stay in barrels, the wine spends a further year in oak vats, where the natural cleaning and assembly process concludes. After ageing for another three years in the bottle, the vinification of this unique Rioja wine is complete.

Garnet and cherry hues introduce this bright Gran Reserva with light orange reflections on the rim. The unique vinification process of this Gran Reserva provides a complex, elegant nose with notes of liquorice and red fruit, typical of the Tempranillo, along with hints of spices subtly added by the Graciano. During bottle ageing, all of this is assembled with toasty and balsamic aromas (vanilla, pepper, tobacco) contributed by the barrels. As the wine airs in the glass, it discloses its full range of nuances and complex aromas. In the mouth, it reflects our surroundings, with a mild entry and a sense of elegance and balance, ending in long persistence, denoting the craft of barrel ageing and the assemblage provided by a long stay in the bottle.

The winemaker does not consider that it is necessary to decant this wine which is ready to drink now and over the next ten years.

£26.15

Bodegas Lan Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).

Bodegas Lan Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2019 Decanter review

Winemaking at LAN follows a principle: "extreme respect for our grapes, preserving the vineyard’s distinctive features in each of the stages of fermentation and ageing, both in the barrel and in the bottle. We manage each tank individually, based on the destination it has been assigned. Such respect implies preparation, manual selection, creativity, tradition and modernity -all these elements play a part in endeavour to outdue ourselves every day. A painstaking oak selection along with malolactic fermentation in new barrels transform our estate’s musts into pleasant, unctuous and round wines."

The Bodegas Lan Gran Reserva is made using 90% Tempranillo from a selection of the best grapes coming from 30 year-old, low yielding bush vines in the Rioja Alta and 10% Mazuelo from the Viña Lanciano vineyard.

The grapes are de-stemmed and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 30º C. The wine was then macerated for 3 weeks, over-pumping the must daily to favour higher extraction of colour and aromas. It was aged for 24 months in American oak and French oak barrels, followed by a minimum of 36 months in the bottle.

This wine is garnet in colour with ruby hues. Aromas of ripe red fruits combined with spicy notes from the aging in oak (Vanilla, cinnamon, fennel, liquorice root) and tertiary aromas (Leather, cigar box…) from its prolonged bottle ageing. Full bodied and round, its mouthfeel is elegant and very well balanced.

A wine for a special occasion. Recommended to pair with roasted meats, lamb, hearty stews and cured cheeses.

£20.30

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 (1x75cl)

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of 2010 Riojas (see blue link below).

Bodegas Olarra Cerro Anon Rioja Gran Reserva 2010 - March 2019 Decanter review

"I bought six of these and unfortunately I have given three away to friends. We opened it last night and decanted as per the instructions of your shop staff. The wine is truly spectacular and I am working out how to break in to my friend's flat to steal back the wine I gave him. I have never been moved to comment on a bottle of wine by email. Thank you for the spectacular experience. Another 6 please. I won't be as generous with the next lot!"

- regular (anonymous) Perth customer [who ultimately bought another 12]

In case you missed it reaching this page, here's our article on the Decanter review and this wine.

We also highly recommend the Gran Reserva's two younger relatives, the 2015 Reserva and the 2016 Crianza.

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.

Grapes for the Gran Reserva are drawn solely from Olarra vineyards; these are located primarily in Rioja Alta, but also in Rioja Alavesa to a lesser extent. Vines in these vineyards are all grown in the traditional way. The average age of the vines is over 30 years. Most of the vineyards sit on a clay-rich soil in Rioja Alta and on limestone-clay soils in Rioja Alavesa.

Harvests took place later than usual in 2010, well into late October, when the fruit was considered to have reached full ripeness; this slower, steadier ripening accounts for much of the quality of this harvest (generally) and the 2010 Gran Reserva (in the specific). Subsequent selection ensured that only grapes in healthy shape made it through to the vinification process. 2010 was a great year in the history of the quality of grapes on the Olarra estate. 

Tempranillo 80%, Mazuelo 10%, Garnacha 5%, Graciano 5%.

Fermentation and maceration lasted for a total of 19 days and were performed in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of 28ºC. Later on, the wine was racked into new French (Allier) oak, 225-litre casks/barricas where the malolactic fermentation took place, followed by a stay on the lees for a little over two months, with regular batonnage.

By the end of that winter, the wine was already being racked into new oak barrels, where it remained for a further six months. After this, the rest of the oak ageing - up to the total 27 months - was conducted in different barrels again: Allier and American (Missouri) oak, all with a medium toast, and with different ages spanning from brand new to 5 years. After fining with egg whites, the wine was bottled and stored in Olarra's bottle cellar for 45 months, before it started to be released.

The Gran Reserva 2010 shows a deep red colour with shades of ruby on the rim of the glass. On the nose, at the time of original release, it revealed a delicate balance between ripe red berry aromas and those of spices and smokiness. Over time, this developmental bouquet has grown more complex, showing aromas of leather, tobacco, coffee beans and raisins. On the palate, it is full and round, thanks to its long period in the bottle. Mouthfeel is as firm, elegant and smooth as one should expect from a great Rioja Gran Reserva, with a surprisingly long and fresh finish.

£14.95

Bodegas Valdemar, Conde de Valdemar Rioja Reserva 2011 (1x75cl)

The 2010 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Mature Rioja (see blue link below).

Valdemar Rioja Reserva 2010 - March 2018 Decanter review

Bodegas Valdemar is the fruit of five generations of a family which, since 1889, has dedicated all its passion and work to cultivating and caring for the vines, loyal to the philosophy of producing wines exclusively from its own vineyards.

An underground stone cellar, in Oyón is where more than 125 years of history started. Joaquín Martínez Bujanda built it to age the wines that he made from his vineyards. From day one, this family's passion has come from the same place, the land and the vineyard itself. Their wines unite the dreams and passions of several generations. Since the 1980’s Conde Valdemar has become a point of reference in Rioja by making wines that stand out because of their quality. It is acknowledged as one of the wineries in La Rioja with a longstanding tradition and history of producing Gran Reserva wines - true oenological treasures that are proof of the greatness and know-how of  the winemaker.

This wine spent 26 months in oak casks (65% American, 35% French) and was bottled in March 2015.

It has an intense and bright red ruby colour. Complex and clean nose. Ripe fruit aromas with balsamic notes dominate. Very good balance. It is well-rounded in the mouth, with a pleasant structure and a long and persistent finish.

This wine is especially well suited to accompany home-cooked casseroles, roasts and grills, red meat, game or Iberian-pork cold meats.

£17.65

Bow & Arrow Rhinestones 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2019 edition article: Pacific Northwest Reds. (see blue link below).

Bow & Arrow Rhinestones 2017 - April 2019 Decanter review

Husband and wife team Scott and Dana Frank have experience all sides of the wine industry. From working in restaurants, to retail, to wholesale, they’ve gained plenty of knowledge and experience over the years. They recently embarked on a new project producing wines under their own label Bow & Arrow and are taking Oregon wines to new heights!

The Willamette Valley, formed long ago by repeated glacial flooding, is abundant with fertile and rocky vineyard sites. It is also situated along the 45th parallel, which coincidentally runs through Burgundy and the Loire Valley. And despite Oregon’s constant comparisons to Burgundy, it’s the Loire Valley that inspires Scott and Dana’s wines. They only started bottling in 2010 but have quickly earned a reputation for bringing a bit of the Loire to the Pacific Northwest. They source fruit from vineyards planted by some of Oregon’s earliest ‘wine pioneers’ that were planted with grapes like old vine Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Melon de Bourgogne – all typical Loire Valley grapes. These carefully sourced grapes are treated with the greatest care and minimal-intervention winemaking techniques. Their resulting wines are a breath of fresh (French) air from Oregon, lighter in style, lower in alcohol, and extremely food-friendly.

Rhinestones is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.

Bow & Arrow Wines say the following of their Rhinestones wine: "To understand Rhinestones we have to talk about the Cheverny region of France’s Loire Valley where, by law, the red wines must be a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.  We follow this structure with all the Pinot and Gamay fruit we source from Johan Vineyard.  The blend is determined by nature and vintage.  Aged in a mixture of concrete and old barriques, this wine is the flagship of the Bow & Arrow operation and communicates what we’re about as much as anything we make.  Effortlessly drinkable but rewards detective work if you’re in the mood."

£24.80

Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter in their May 2019 panel tasting of premium Amarone (see blue link below).

Brigaldara Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2015 - May 2019 Decanter review

Click here to read our blog on this wine, the review above and Amarone more generally.

The Brigaldara winery is located just outside the town of San Floriano, in the heart of the Valpolicella region, north of Verona. It is at the entrance of the Marano valley, one of the four valleys that make up Valpolicella's classical area, the original and oldest wine production area of the region. The estate covers 50 ha, planted with vineyards and olive groves. In 1929, the Cesari family acquired the villa and surrounding land. During the 1960s and 70s the land was reconfigured to specialize in the cultivation of vines and olives. Brigaldara is a founder member of the Families of Amarone – a group of 12 wine producing families dedicated to maintaining high quality Amarone.

This wine has been made using Corvina 45%, Corvinone 45%, Rondinella 10%.

To see an information sheet and tasting notes for this wine that have been put together by the team at Brigaldara, please click on the blue link below.

Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico - fiche technique

£31.95
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