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Bertani Vintage Edition Secco 2015 (1x75cl)

From its status as the father of Amarone to the presence of its Soave on the menu for King George VI’s coronation in 1937, the history of Bertani is awash with landmarks. Established at the time of the Risorgimento – the 19th century unification of Italy – it has been a symbol of that new nation’s pride and dynamism ever since. Arguably the most significant of those landmarks came in the 1950s, nearly a century after brothers Giovan Battista and Gaetano Bertani founded the business at Quinto di Valpantena, north of Verona. The acquisition of the stunning Villa Novare in Valpolicella, along with its 220-hectare estate, led directly to the release, in 1958, of the first dry Amarone. This family-owned winery continues to set standards for the entire region.

The Secco-Bertani Vintage Edition pays homage to a memory that has become a collective myth, evoking sensations, emotions and ways of thinking about the past that can enrich the present. The project foresees the reproduction of a Secco-Bertani wine according to the recipe, style and taste of old, returning to the original packaging of the 1930s.

After a long cold maceration on the skins, a slow fermentation is started with/by native yeasts from the Bertani winery. The wine is drawn off still slightly sweet to enter the subsequent final, slow fermentation in wood. Ageing takes place in traditional Veronese medium-sized wooden barrels - from 750 to 5000 litres - of chestnut and cherry wood.

An intense red colour with ruby highlights. Hints of redcurrants, blackberries and cocoa powder on the nose, together with spicy notes of black pepper, cloves and nutmeg. On the palate a pleasant flavour of red fruit, sour cherries, concentrated cherry and black tea, followed by fine, powdery tannins with a coffee bean finish. It is a plush wine with good weight and the typical complexity of mature vineyards, though still young and vibrant.

£17.75

Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2016 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com(see blue link below).

Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 - August 2017 Decanter review

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

Shiraz 93%, Durif 4%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%. The grapes come from the Barossa Valley, in South Australia. Situated at a latitude of 34° South, the region is made up of rolling hills and valley floors. The growing season often sees hot, warm weather with temperatures of 35°C, which can result in vine stress, helping to concentrate the flavours in the berries. The wide diurnal temperature differences help to retain balancing acidity. Some of the grapes come from Berton's original vineyard in the Eden Valley, where the climate is cooler. The vine age is varied, but all vines have been spur pruned and are generally trained on a single wire cordon trellising system. The vines are planted at approximately 1.8 metres apart with 3.6 metres between the rows, to allow machinery access. The soil styles in the vineyards are varied, ranging from clay, to limestone and sandy soils, with each terroir adding its own characteristic to the final wine.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular skin submersion in order to extract the required colour and flavour from the grapes. After fermentation, the wine was pressed off into stainless steel tanks where it completed malolactic fermentation in the late autumn. The wine was then racked off into both French and American oak barrels resulting in a rich, spicy complex Shiraz. 

The Reserve Shiraz is deepest dark red with a very youthful and vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe black cherries and blackberries with hints of eucalypt and spice. The rich and full palate displays soft flavours of plum skin, mulberry and hints of vanilla and blackberry, These abundant flavours are underpinned by fine vanilla from the oak and defined by exciting spicy tannins.

£13.95

Berton Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was Awarded 96 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of New World Cabernet Sauvignons (see blue link below) in which it emerged as the runaway Number One.

Berton Reserve 2014 - April 2017 Decanter review

Sourced from vineyards in the prized Terra Rossa region of Coonawarra: here the warm days are moderated by offshore breezes and the rich red loam over well-draining limestone soils are the foundations for Coonawarra's justified reputation for producing premium-quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

This Coonawarra beauty (97% Cab Sauv) has an intense, ripe berry bouquet with hints of chocolate and liquorice. The palate is brimming with crushed blackcurrant fruit flavours enhanced by subtle eucalyptus and mint notes characteristic of this region and is beautifully complemented by elegant French oak notes.

£13.90

Berton Winemakers Reserve, Padthaway, The Black Shiraz 2016 (1x75cl)

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

To see the winemakers notes for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Berton Winemakers Reserve, Padthaway, The Black Shiraz 2016 - fiche technique

£10.00

Bianchi `Famiglia Bianchi` Organic Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi. It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750 metres above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. Finca Los Primos comprises a range of excellent value varietals. Famiglia Bianchi, Particular and Enzo are each a step up in concentration and depth of fruit, from older and lower yielding vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Doña Elsa Estate, situated in Rama Caída, San Rafael, Mendoza, around 760m above sea level. It is an ideal climate for the Malbec grape because of the warm days and cool nights that are typical of the area. The soil is sand and limestone.

Spring 2014 began with uneven budding in some areas, resulting in fewer grapes than the previous year. A late frost in November was followed by a fairly warm and dry December and January, giving excellent health to the vineyards. However, February was very rainy, with an average of 140 mm that month, more than half of the average yearly rainfall. Though March was much drier, there were some intense rains. The mean temperatures dropped significantly in February and especially in March.

The grapes were hand picked, then fermented at temperatures not exceeding 30ºC, with gentle and frequent pumping over for a period of 21 days to ensure good extraction of colour and ripe tannins. The wine was then aged for 12 months in French oak (75%) and American oak (25%) barriques of which 33% were new, 33% were one year old and 33% were two years old, before bottling.

Intense ruby with a glint of violet. Raspberry aromas mix with prunes, spices, tobacco and subtle mocha notes. Full-bodied and smooth on the palate with rounded tannins. Coffee and bitter chocolate from the oak ageing add complexity to the mature red fruit character on the long, well-balanced finish.

£15.25

Bianchi Enzo 2015 (1x 75cl)

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi. It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750 metres above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. Finca Los Primos comprises a range of excellent value varietals. Famiglia Bianchi, Particular and Enzo are each a step up in concentration and depth of fruit, from older and lower yielding vineyards.

The Cabernet and Petit Verdot grapes for Enzo are grown on the Asti Estate in Las Paredes, situated seven kilometres west of the city of San Rafael, Mendoza, at 750m above sea level. This area is among the coolest areas of San Rafael, with sandy calcareous soils of alluvial origin. The Malbec grapes come from the Dona Elsa vineyard in Rama Caida, an equally cool area with similar soils.

The growing season began warm, then turned and remained cool, producing fresh wines for the 2013 vintage. Much needed spring rains and an absence of a major frost led to a good fruit set as Argentine winemakers reported normal to 25% higher yields. A cold spell hit Mendoza during the middle of March, delaying maturation and picking. The heat returned for harvest from early March to mid-April and as a result, the grapes had high acidity levels and low alcohol.

The grapes were picked by hand into small boxes, followed by careful manual sorting and de-stemming before pressing. Cold maceration took place before fermentation started. During fermentation (which did not exceed 30°C), the must was pumped over the cap to ensure extraction of colour and ripe tannins. Total maceration time was 25-30 days. The wine was aged in 90% new French oak and 10% new American oak for a period of 14 months. It was then aged for a further two years in bottle before release.

The rich varietal flavour of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape aged in new oak results in a balanced, velvety wine of good body and prominent character that makes it distinct. Excellent concentration of ripe fruit on the nose and palate, with a lingering concoction of cassis, chocolate, cherry and black pepper.

£29.35

Bianchi 'Famiglia Bianci' Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi. It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750 metres above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. Finca Los Primos comprises a range of excellent value varietals. Famiglia Bianchi, Particular and Enzo are each a step up in concentration and depth of fruit, from older and lower yielding vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Doña Elsa Estate, situated in Rama Caída, San Rafael, Mendoza, around 760m above sea level. It is an ideal climate for the Malbec grape because of the warm days and cool nights that are typical of the area. The soil is sand and limestone.

The grapes were hand picked, then fermented for seven days at temperatures not exceeding 30ºC, with gentle and frequent pumping over to ensure extraction of good colour and ripe tannins. Extended maceration for three weeks took place on a small percentage of the Malbec. It was aged for ten months in new French (80%) and American (20%) oak barriques before bottling. The wine was aged a further ten months in bottle before release.

The luscious, intense fruit aromas have hints of ripe plums, cherries and blackberries. These aromas continue on the palate with a generous mouthfeel and great weight, while remaining soft and silky.

£14.25

Blanc Vi Natural Tinto Organic, Viticultor Celler 9+ 2016 - No Added Sulphites (1x75cl)

(Be in no doubt: despite the name on the label, this is a (very) red wine - see below).

The vines that are used to make this wine are small and different. Some face the sea, others don’t. The soil is different from one row to another in the vineyard, but overall they are poor soils. They prune in green to reduce production and get more concentration and better maturity of the grapes. The area has a strong effect from the “marinada” (Mediterranean wind), reducing the temperature and preventing it from climbing above 31-32 ºC on the hottest days of the summer.

In the cellar, winemaking is carried out in small lots. Underground cement vats are used for the fermentation and keep the wine at a cool temperature. Separate vinifications are carried out on each variety, these being blended before bottling. Only natural yeasts are used to make this wine.  

As they don't add anything besides the grapes, this is why it is termed blanc, even if it is a red wine. Only the cleanest and healthiest grapes can be used for a natural wine.

Medium red colour with orange tones. An open, inviting nose with red ripe fruit, liquorice, Mediterranean aromatic plants with some subtle mature notes. These continue onto the palate, complimented by some minerality. It has a really soft, gentle juicy texture, making it very easy-drinking. This wine is a great match for pork.

£12.45

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2018 (see blue link below)

Blank Canvas Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

"What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious". 94 pointsTom Cannavan's wine-pages.com - see here for a fuller review from Tom of Blank Canvas's work

Matt Thomson is a busy winemaker. He has worked over forty vintages in numerous wine regions around the world and has worked with David Gleave MW since 1994. He is involved with many wines, primarily as a consultant. “Now is the time to launch my own wines,” he says. “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. His aim is to break some rules with the Blank Canvas wines, but in order to break the rules, he feels, you need to know them. This is what sets the Blank Canvas wines apart.

This Pinot Noir is sourced from a single vineyard that Matt oversaw the planting of in 2001. It is situated in the old clay soils of the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough. The soil naturally gives low yields, but they also crop thinned during the ripening of the fruit. As a result the berries were small and concentrated with flavour. It is made exclusively from Clone 115, a Dijon clone which is selected for its tannins and impressive savoury fruit characters.

The 2015 vintage in Marlborough was one of the earliest and driest in recent years, with rainfall being just 40% of the long-term average while growing degree days were 10% more. For Pinot Noir, this resulted in lower yields, smaller bunch weights and more concentrated, impressive fruit.

The handpicked bunches were cold-soaked for five days before undergoing wild fermentation. Lots of hand-plunging took place and a large proportion of whole bunch fermentation (50%) made this particularly challenging. Coupled with a savoury low-toast oak regime of new and seasoned oak, and barrel maturation of 10 months, the winemaking has given this Pinot Noir finesse, elegance and power.

Aromas of bright raspberry, red cherry and delicate violet intertwine with seductive savoury characters. It possesses the silky Pinot Noir texture that is so often strived for, and has a structure that is likened to the Old World with big but elegant tannins set amongst a balanced backbone of acidity. It will become more complex with cellaring, with years of evolution ahead of it.

£23.60

Bodega Garzon Tannat Reserva 2016 (1x75cl)

The greatest wines of the world are produced where a grape varietal finds the ideal conditions to express itself in a natural and authentic way. At Bodega Garzón, they are guided by a philosophy to fully express their unique terroir with wines that are pure, have distinct tension, and a vitality that leads to delicious drinkability.

Please click the blue link below to see a tasting note and more information about this wine, which has been written by the winemakers at Garzon. 

Garzon Tannat Reserva 2016 - fiche technique

£14.50

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Big Brand South American wines (below £13!) (see blue link below).

Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

In 1885, the Buenos Aires to Mendoza railway opened, cementing the significance of this emerging wine-growing region high in the Andean foothills. Ten years later, Edmund Norton planted the first vines in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo district. At 900-1100 metres, the altitude moderates the temperature, causing an extended ripening season, and also expose the vines to more ultraviolet light, which encourages the development of colour and tannin in the black-skinned varieties. The result is whites packed with vibrant flavour and good natural acidity, and well-structured, food-friendly reds.

Half the blend comes from vineyards situated at 1100 metres above sea level in the Luján de Cuyo region of western Mendoza, and half comes from the Uco Valley to the south. The age of the vines is between thirty and fifty years. The grapes are hand-picked into small baskets, with hand selection of the berries. Following a five-day cold maceration, the wine underwent a fermentation with native yeasts for seven days at a temperature of 25°C. Maceration lasted for 25-30 days at 20°C, and the malolactic fermentation was 100% natural. The wine was aged for twelve months in first- and second-use French oak barrels, and then for ten months in bottle prior to release.

Round and velvety, with flavours of ripe black fruit, violets, spices and tobacco. Long and complex on the finish.

£13.90

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Big Brand South American wines (below £13!) (see blue link below).

Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

NB: This wine also trades under the name of the Winemaker's Reserve Malbec, as can be seen from the Bodega Norton website (compare the two products and note their identical tech sheet!).

In 1885, the Buenos Aires to Mendoza railway opened, cementing the significance of this emerging wine-growing region high in the Andean foothills. Ten years later, Edmund Norton planted the first vines in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo district. At 900-1100 metres, the altitude moderates the temperature, causing an extended ripening season, and also expose the vines to more ultraviolet light, which encourages the development of colour and tannin in the black-skinned varieties. The result is whites packed with vibrant flavour and good natural acidity, and well-structured, food-friendly reds.

Half the blend comes from vineyards situated at 1100 metres above sea level in the Luján de Cuyo region of western Mendoza, and half comes from the Uco Valley to the south. The age of the vines is between thirty and fifty years. The grapes are hand-picked into small baskets, with hand selection of the berries. Following a five-day cold maceration, the wine underwent a fermentation with native yeasts for seven days at a temperature of 25°C. Maceration lasted for 25-30 days at 20°C, and the malolactic fermentation was 100% natural. The wine was aged for twelve months in first- and second-use French oak barrels, and then for ten months in bottle prior to release.

Round and velvety, with flavours of ripe black fruit, violets, spices and tobacco. Long and complex on the finish.

£13.90

Bodegas Benito Urbina Gran Reserva 2004 (1x75cl)

Bodegas Urbina is a winery which has been in the Urbina family for four generations since 1870. The present winery was designed, built and run by the family in 1986 and was created to facilitate producing fine wines.  Urbina has 75 hectares of vineyards located at two main vineyard sites - the first is at Cuzcurrita de Rio Turon, a well-known area for producing Riojas capable of ageing for many years and the others are at Uruñuela, in the heart of the Rioja DOC, which consistently produces wines of great quality and body. The grapes used are from vines aged over 20 years old. The vines are grown in accordance with traditional practices, no herbicides and limited use of pesticides and fungicides. 

The Urbina Gran Reserva is harvested by hand and the skins remain in contact with the must for 28 days.  It is then fermented at a temperature of 28°C using indigenous yeast.  The wine is matured for 24 months in American oak before being bottled and matured for another 48 months before being released for sale.

The Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 has a splendid ripe, complex nose, is reddish-garnet in colour with harmonious and well-balanced oak and fruit tannins.  It also displays intense rich fruit, great finesse and velvet smoothness on the palate.  It goes perfectly with slow roasted lamb shoulder or with game - particularly duck and pheasant.

£22.50

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.

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.

£27.75

Bodegas Benito Urbina Urbina Seleccion 1999 (1x 75cl)

Please take a look at a superb snippet of information about this wine from the winemakers themselves by clicking on the blue link below.

Bodegas Benito Urbina Seleccion 1999 - fiche technique

£16.40
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