Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero, the duo behind A Mano, have worked in the wine business for most of their lives. Elvezia is a northern Italian wine marketing expert and Mark is a Californian winemaker. They fell in love with Puglia and, when they decided to start their own label, made it their home. By producing high quality wines, Mark and Elvezia have succeeded in making Primitivo one of Italy's most talked about grape varieties. They pay high prices for the best grapes from 70-100 year old vines and focus solely on quality and a modern style. After over 15 vintages, they are now getting access to some of Salento's best grapes.
The grapes for this wine come from a selection of Mark's four favourite vineyards in the heart of the Primitivo growing region, located in the low hills east of Taranto in Puglia. The region is an old sea bed, full of fossils of clams, oysters and urchins. The altitude is approximately 30-60 metres above sea level and annual rainfall is 35 centimetres. The climate is classically Mediterranean, as Puglia is on a peninsula between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. The Primitivo vines are quite old; most are the original post phylloxera plantings and range from 70-100 years old. As with most vineyards planted at that time, they are small bush vines called 'alberello' which are non-irrigated and low yielding. The average Primitivo vineyard is quite small, less than half a hectare and the best sites have a crumbly, dark reddish brown soil that resembles instant coffee.
The Primitivo grapes were dried for five weeks. On arrival at the cellars, the grapes were pressed, destemmed and cooled to 18°C and the must was allowed to ferment at its own pace. After racking in mid-November, the wine remained in an underground cement tank where the temperature did not exceed 10°C until bottling under stelvin closure.
A deeply coloured wine with exuberant perfumes of ripe red and black berry fruits, with notes of spice from the oak ageing. Made in the style of an Amarone, it is concentrated and opulent on the palate, with great balance. It is elegant, velvety and supple, with a long finish.
Emigrating from Holland in the early 1960s the Ham family established themselves as nurserymen before going on to create Alpha Domus in 1990. They produced their first vintage in 1996. The family's commitment is to produce premium quality wines that are true to varietal character and are a reflection of their unique terroir. Their vineyard lies in the renowned Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District of Hawkes Bay.
Selected parcels of mostly hand harvested Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot were destemmed, crushed and transferred to tank. After a 4-5 day maceration period the ferments were initiated, warmed and allowed to reach 32˚C at the peak of fermentation. Pumpovers took place 4 times daily with less towards the end of fermentation. The wine was then run off to seasoned barrels (80% French) and the skins were pressed through a one tonne basket press. The different batches were kept separate for over 12 months prior to blending.
Alpha Domus The Navigator has a complex aroma of sweet berry fruit, plums, violet, liquorice and hints of char. Influences of sweet vanilla and toast result from oak barrel maturation. Flavours of plum and blackberry are supported by clove and spicy notes. Savoury, leathery characters add complexity. The sweet fruit, spicy oak and firm tannins create an elegant, fragrant wine with excellent length.
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 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.
The Guado al Tasso estate is located some 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the southwest of the city of Florence near the medieval hamlet of Bolgheri. The property, approximately 2500 acres (1000 kilometers) in total size, extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the inland hills. It includes, in addition to 750 acres (300 hectares) of vineyards, terrain planted to the cultivation of wheat, barley, oats, and olive groves along with woods in which a herd of “cinta senesi” pigs, a prize local breed, roam and feed.
The 2015 vintage was characterized by abundant rainfall during the winter and by a dry and mild spring. The bud burst, notably earlier than in 2014, was followed by an equally precocious flowering. The first part of summer saw an important rise in temperatures, which came back into balance during the second half of the month of August, assisting the grapes to achieve a perfect state of ripeness. The harvest began in early September and lasted all the way through the first ten days of October.
The grapes which were selected came from a range of vineyard plots which extend over some 200 acres (80 hectares) and express the typical characteristics of the Bolgheri production zone. The fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and lasted from 10 to 15 days at temperatures between 82° and 86° Fahrenheit (28°-30° centigrade). A part of the Merlot and Syrah must was fermented at lower temperatures to better conserve varietal aromas. The malolactic fermentation took place partly in oak barrels and partly in stainless steel tanks and terminated for all the different grape varieties by the end of the year. The wine was then racked and went back into small oak barrels for a seven month ageing period, at the end of which it was bottled. Four months of bottle ageing preceded commercial release.
An intense ruby red in colour, the wine shows attractive and complex aromas of red berry fruit, sweet spices, and toasted coffee. The flavours are full, round, and have a good level of both balance and pleasure. It will be a vintage that is very capable of improving over time.
Prunotto was founded in 1904 by Alfredo Prunotto under the name Ai Vini delle Langhe. In 1989, the Marchesi Antinori family began its collaboration with the Prunotto Company, at first handling distribution and later getting directly involved in the production process, maintaining the excellent level of quality which Alfredo Prunotto had always insisted upon.
This wine comes from the Costamiòle vineyard in the township of Agliano with light-coloured clays rich in calcareous marl.
The 2017 vintage will be remembered for the hot climate and the scarce rainfall which characterized it. Winter saw mild weather with little snowfall, while the first part of springtime was marked by some precipitation and above average temperatures, factors which favored an early growth and development of the vine. Towards the end of the month of April, an abrupt fall in temperatures took place, with frost damage which struck, principally, the valley floors and the cooler parts of the hillside slopes. A lengthy period of fine weather then followed, which culminated in the high temperatures recorded during the summer months. A few isolated rainstorms during the month of August brought useful reserves of water to the soil, fundemental for the continuing of the ripening cycle. Temperatures descended significantly during the first week of September and helped create important temperature swings between daytime warmth and evening and nighttime coolness, thereby favoring the ripening of both the Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes. This was a vintage with an early harvest in which the vines were able to complete their entire cycle of growth in a positive way. The size of the crop was very low per acre. The picking of grapes began with the Moscato and Arneis on August 24th and was completed on September 24th with the Nebbiolo grapes.
The grapes were destemmed and pressed and then fermented on their skins for eight days at maximum temperatures of 28° centigrade (82° Fahrenheit). After being run off its skins, the wine were went through a complete alcoolic and malolactic fermentation before winter. The wine was then aged for several months in stainless steel tanks before bottling in the spring.
Prunotto Barbera D'Asti Fiulot is a vivid and intense ruby red in colour with a grapey and fruity (plum and cherry) aroma. Grapes grown on light and loose-textured soils and modern oenological techniques which enable producers to obtain and conserve fruit and freshness combine to make this a wine which is very pleasurable in its youth. For this reason it goes well with simple dishes such as hors d’oeuvres, soups, risotto, and pasta. The wine is most enjoyable at cool 13°-15° centigrade (55°-59° Fahrenheit) temperatures.
Passion, courage and trust in the enormous quality potential that Puglia, and especially the areas of Castel del Monte and Salento were able to express, inspired the Antinoris to invest in the region. The idea that, from the start, characterized Tormaresca's production philosophy was to produce great wines from indigenous varietals.
Made with Negroamaro from the Tormaresca estate, this wine takes its name from the manor farm accessible by a footpath that winds through pine forests and olive groves. The old manor house was built by the noble Capece family from Lecce and they named it after the small chapel standing outside its walls. This chapel, dedicated to Saint Pasquale in Maìme, was built to ensure that farmers who worked on the estate had a proper place to pray during the week when they were far away from home. Such traditions exemplify the values and pace of past lifestyles.
The grapes were harvested towards the end of September and were picked fully mature to bring out all the potential of their ripeness. After pressing, the must was fermented in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 26°-28°C. The period of skin contact lasted 15 days and used delicate pumping over and rack-and-return techniques in order to favor a gradual and balanced extraction. After being run off it skins, the wine went immediately into 60-gallon French oak barrels where it was put through a complete malolactic fermentation and then aged twelve months before bottling.
This wine is an intense ruby red colour with aromas of flowers (violet, rose), red fruit (black cherry, mulberry), spicy notes (liquorice, anise, cinnamon, cloves) . It has a dry and elegant flavour with balanced and smooth tannins.
Fattoria dei Barbi extends over 300 hectares (around 750 acres) at Montalcino and Scansano. Stefano Cinelli Colombini, heir of the ancient Sienese line that has been present in Montalcino since 1352, runs this family property.
This red wine comes from the southern part of Tuscany and it is made mostly with Sangiovese - which locally is called “Morellino” - and 15% Merlot. The vineyards are located on a hill at 250 metres on the sea level not far from the Tyrrhenian Sea, with a very particular microclimate: long, sunny and bright days, cooler nights freshened by the sea breeze. All these factors contribute to a well structured and balanced wine with soft tannins and a very lively acidity. Even if the making of Morellino goes back centuries, its approach is very modern and vibrant.
Has a brilliant and intense ruby red appearance and an ample, persistent bouquet with plum and red berry tones. The palate is full and generous, with velvety tannins and a long finish.
Morellino is ideal for well-seasoned meat dishes, roasts, the grilled wild boar meat typical of Mediterranean cooking, cured pork, and especially flavourful cheeses. This wine breaks the rules in its own way, since it is an excellent companion for fish soups and in general any type of fish cooked with spices and tomato sauce.
We like this because it is a powerful yet velvety-smooth Tuscan wine from a fabled Brunello producer. The Merlot smoothes and tames the power of the Sangiovese and affords you SuperTuscan flavours at a fraction of usual SuperTuscan prices!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
... 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 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.
Please take a look at a superb snippet of information about this wine from the winemakers themselves by clicking on the blue link below.
The Escudero family owns 150 hectares of vineyards. The vines average 50 years of age, and some are more than a century old. The fourth generation of the Escudero family have taken on the various responsibilities of the company including viticulture, management and administration. They have an immense respect for the environment and always follow their commitment to offering customers excellent quality wines. Arvum is made as a tribute to their parents.
To see the Escudero family's tasting notes and technical sheet for this wine please click on the blue link below.
Bodegas LAN is located in the heart of Rioja Alta. Founded in 1972, Bodegas LAN was named after the initials of the three provinces in the Rioja Designation of Origin: Logroño (now La Rioja), Álava and Navarra. María Barua has been the head winemaker and technical director since 2002, and brings both scientific expertise, with an academic background in chemistry in addition to her oenology degree, and local knowledge, being born, raised and educated in Rioja. She and her young and energetic team focus not only on understanding the technical details of winemaking, but also on ‘expressing the virtues of the land’.
Grapes are selected from 10-20 year old vines from Bodegas LAN’s long-standing winegrowers in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa subzones. Sloped plots of calcerous clay soils with good drainage and sun exposure produce grapes of excellent flavour concentration.
The 2011 vintage was among the best of the past 30 years. Despite drought in certain areas, vine and canopy development was uniform and excellent across the region. The warm weather meant there were only low incidences of pests and diseases, which made for a good crop of healthy and evenly ripened fruit.
Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, at temperatures between 28-30°C and lasted for three weeks. During fermentation, pumping over was used to maximise extraction of colour and flavour. The wine was then aged in a mixture of American and French oak for a minimum of 16 months, followed by a 24-month period of bottle ageing.
Bodegas LAN Reserva 2011 is intense garnet in colour. Aromas of bright red fruits are layered with notes of vanilla and spices from oak ageing. The palate is exceptionally well structured and fleshy. The complex fruit and oak aromas are concentrated and long-lasting on the finish.
The guiding philosophy of Protos is Quality above all. For this reason, the whole process leading to the production of their wine undergoes an in-depth analysis. The vineyards are controlled exhaustively by both technicians and experts throughout the growth cycle, yielding a production of the highest quality. This also gives them in-depth information about all the grapes to be used before they reach the winery.
Protos Gran Reservas are only produced in excellent vintages. The vines used to make the Gran Reserva are all over 60 years old.
Harvesting is 100% manual, gathered in 20-kilo boxes; the grapes are then spread over sorting tables. This allows them to guarantee that only completely healthy, whole grapes reach the fermentation tanks, where the wine sees skin maceration and a fermentation of 28 days at 28ºC. The wine then spends 24 months ageing in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels. before maturing for a further 36 months in bottle.
The Protos Gran Reserva has a deep cherry colour, which is bright and intense. The nose is very expressive and powerful with complex, elegant, roasted coffee and dark chocolate aromas, as well as candied fruit. On the palate it is fleshy, full-bodied and powerful. It also has creamy, spicy notes and a seductive, lingering finish.
This wine should always be enjoyed with a meal. Our suggestions include roast lamb (a simply perfect and famous combination), roast pork, roast beef, hearty stews, big game and mature cheese such as a full-flavoured Cheddar or Stilton.