Awarded Tre Bicchieri - 2020 by Gambero Rosso.
The 2013 vintage was awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below) ....
... and awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article on Aglianico (see blue link below).
The estate was established in 1990 by Antonio Caggiano with the help of Professor Luigi Moio, who is one of the major experts on Aglianico. Antonio is also a professional and very talented photographer. Antonio used to have a building enterprise and he decided to build a cellar, in 1990, that was supposed to amaze. The cellar, which is hewn in rock and built underground, is really amazing and was completed in 1995. In the meantime vineyards from the finest crus were bought and plots of land were purchased and planted with selected clones of Aglianico. The new part of the cellar with very modern equipment was designed by Pino and Lorella, both architects and son and daughter of Antonio, and was completed in 2008. Pino, who has a real passion for wine, is now at the helm with the support of Antonio.
The estate could potentially produce one million bottles/year, but Antonio and Pino have chosen to keep production at 150,000-160,000 bottles/year. The total vineyard extension is 26 hectares, 23 hectares of Aglianico and 3 hectares of Fiano. The vineyards of Aglianico are all in Contrada Sala. The zone of Contrada Sala is airy, the altitude is 350-450 meters above sea level. The exposure is south-west. The great Aglianico grape finds ideal conditions here. The Fiano vineyards are in Lapio. Vineyards of Greco (located in Tufo) and vineyards of Falanghina (in the area of Benevento) are contracted. Disease and pest control is carried out following a programme of the Campania region for the respect of the environment and for the care of vines.
For this flagship Taurasi, fermentation is temperature-controlled, in stainless steel.
Intense maceration with the skins and alcoholic fermentation at 28 deg C for 20-25 days in steel. Malolactic fermentation in barriques. The wine matures in French oak (Troncais, Centre and Vosges) barriques for 18 months. Finishing in the bottle for another 18 months.
This is an intense and complex wine with aromas of red berry fruits on the nose and hints of vanilla and licorice appear on the palate along with wild strawberries and cranberries.
ABV = 14.5%
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Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition article on Sulcis and Sardinia (see blue link below).
This is one of the most exciting wineries to come out of Sardinia in two decades. It is the brainchild of Gavino Sanna, a Sardinian who has lived in Milan for the past 50 years, where he built up one of Italy's most successful advertising agencies. On a whim, he decided to sell the agency and seek new challenges. One of these challenges was the creation of a winery in Sulcis in southwestern Sardinia. As might be expected from someone with Sanna's background, the labels are striking. He has also ensured that the contents are equally striking. Stefano Cova, a young winemaker from Trentino, took over with the 2008 vintage, improving on an already high level of quality.
The grapes are grown in the Sulcis area on the south-western tip of Sardinia. The climate here is Mediterranean with low rainfall that usually falls almost entirely in autumn and winter. It is characterised by frequent north-westerly winds, high temperatures in spring and summer, a mild autumn and winters which vary from dry and cold through to relatively mild. Soils are naturally sandy and chalky-clay, sub-alkaline, medium textured with a rocky, schistous character. Moderate nutrient levels and good levels of minerals add a distinctive character to the resulting wines. The vines are espalier trained and spur-cordon pruned.
The grapes were hand-picked then vinified with maceration on the skins at 26-28°C for 10-12 days. Upon completion of malolactic fermentation, the wine spent a minimum of 10 months in second- and third-use barriques, followed by at least four months in bottle.
Deep ruby red in colour. The nose offers a complex mix of balsamic notes of red berry fruit and blossoms, together with hints of spices and oak. The palate is rich and full, revealing excellent balance with an appealingly silky texture and long, lingering finish.
ABV = 14.5%.
Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition review of Best High Street Italian Reds (see blue link below).
Founded in 1967 by Antonio Zaccheo and Giovanni Sacchet, Carpineto farms 500 hectares of land spread over four estates among Tuscany's most prestigious appellations. The original aim of the producers – to make modern, world-class red wine from the Chianti Classico appellation, has been admirably fulfilled. The Farnito and Dogajolo wines demonstrate the winery’s pioneering approach to making wines from international varieties in Tuscany. Formerly IWSC Italian Wine Producer of the Year, Carpineto was the also the first ever Italian winery to be awarded the IWSC International Winemaker of the Year. Antonio Zaccheo is now assisted by his son Antonio and daughter Francesca, who have both previously worked in the wine trade in the USA. Giovanni Sacchet's daughter, Caterina, joined the Carpineto winemaking team after finishing her viticulture and oenology degree.
This was a unique vintage due to the severe drought that affected the vineyards, which resulted significantly reduced yields and a limited production. The wines show excellent concentration of ripe fruit flavours.
The vines are grown in the heart of Tuscany in sand, clay and limestone soils.
Whole bunches were carefully selected at harvest. The grape varieties were vinified separately, as they reached maturity at different times. Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats at 25°C, followed by 15 to 20 days maceration with frequent aerations, pump overs and punch-downs of the cap for optimal polyphenol extraction. Towards the end of fermentation they were blended and placed in small wooden casks where they slowly completed alcoholic and malolactic fermentation.
Sangiovese 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20% and other varieties 10%.
Modern Tuscan style displaying red cherry flavours with a rich mouthfeel, smooth and juicy. An innovative baby Super-Tuscan, Dogajolo combines the power and deep flavours of a young wine, with the elegance and balance from the oak ageing. Full bodied, yet soft on the palate with fruity cherry notes interlaced with coffee, vanilla and spice, this is complex and well-developed.
ABV = 13.0%.
The 2017 vintage was awarded 95 points, Gold and overall Trophy status (Portuguese Red Trophy and Great Value Red between £8 and £12) at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).
This historic producer, founded in 1751, was purchased by Sogrape in 1987. Today they have 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by the talented Luis Sottomayor, who manages to restrain the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Estevo and Papa Figos, allied to a wonderful depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Red and Quinta da Leda.
About 25% of the grapes for Papa Figos come from Casa Ferreirinha's Quinta da Leda estate, and the rest from producers owning north-facing vineyards at relatively high altitudes. The soil in the Duoro Valley is made up of schist - a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties.
The golden oriole (papa figos in Portuguese) is one of the rarest birds in the Douro region. An attractive, brightly-coloured migratory bird, its uniqueness and rarity make it the perfect inspiration for this lovely wine.
The 2018 vintage saw a cold and dry winter which was followed by an extremely wet spring which replenished water reserves in the soil but also affected flowering and increased disease pressure on the vine. These factors significantly reduced the yield but a hot and dry summer allowed for a balanced maturation and the fruit harvested was of excellent quality
After gentle destemming and crushing, the grapes were transferred to stainless steel tanks. Intense maceration is achieved by pumping over. After maceration, the wine is run off the solids, the free-run wine is kept separate from the press wine. Malolactic fermentation was encouraged in controlled conditions. The blend was selected and remained in stainless tanks throughout the winter. 25% of the total of the blend spent eight months in used French oak barrels, and the final blend was bottled after 12 months.
35% Tinta Roriz, 30% Tinta Barroca, 20% Touriga Franca, 15% Touriga Nacional.
This wine is ruby red in colour with violet nuances. Intensely aromatic with fresh black fruits, red berries, heather, chocolate and balsamic savoury spice on the nose. The spicy red fruit profile follows onto the full bodied palate that balances smooth tannins with well-integrated acidity on the long lasting finish.
ABV = 13.5%.
This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. Purchased by Sogrape in 1987, it has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luís Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.
The selected grape varieties were sourced from the Quinta do Sairrão estate located at a high altitude in the Cima Corgo region. The mountainous vineyards here have schist soils with vines planted either in vertical rows or on traditional patamares (terraces). The selected plots are ideal for optimal maturation thanks to the hot days and cool evenings bringing out the fresh fruit character of the grapes.
Like the rest of Portugal, this region suffered from a severe lack of water throughout the 2017 growing season with high daytime temperatures tempered only by the cooling effect of the high altitude. The harvest was very early and yields were much lower than average. The region suffered a series of wildfires due to the extremely dry conditions and many vineyards were damaged and in some cases, completely destroyed. However, despite the atypical harvest year, the resulting wines have great balance, elegance and concentration.
Grapes selected for the Vinha Grande Tinto went through gentle crushing and destemming prior to temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Long skin contact during fermentation ensured optimal extraction, which was facilitated by pumping over and robotic plunging. Maturation took place for between 12 and 18 months in used French oak barrels. The blend was then selected based on both sensory and technical analyses. The wine was then lightly filtered before bottling. In addition, the wine did not undergo cold stabilisation, which may mean it will have natural sediment in the bottle.
40% Touriga Franca , 25% Touriga Nacional, 25% Tinta Roriz, 10% Tinta Barroca.
This wine has a deep ruby colour and intense aromas of flowers, strawberry and raspberry fruit, a touch of black pepper and well-integrated oak. The voluminous palate has well-integrated acidity, velvety tannins, a delicate minerality and notes of red berries. The finish is elegant and long.
ABV = 14.0%.
In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Bodega Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.
Catena wines, first launched in 1992, set a new standard for quality in South America. The wines immediately proved the quality potential of Argentina and garnered the first outstanding reviews for Argentine wines from worldwide media. After more than 20 years, the wines of Catena continue to lead the way in Argentine viticulture and winemaking. The family and the winery’s employees take great pride in carrying on the tradition that began over a century ago.
See/click the link below for data on this wine from the winemakers themselves.
The Catena Malbec Appellation Vista Flores shows a dark violet colour with black reflections. The nose offers ripe, concentrated dark and red fruit aromas with delicate floral notes of lavender and violet, and mocha. The mouthfeel is rich and full with notes of sweet spice and a touch of leather. The finish presents soft, well-integrated tannins with bright, crisp acidity that gives the wine exceptional length.
ABV = 13.5%.
This wine is bursting with ripe red berry fruit flavours. It is soft and fresh, with delicate light tannins.
ABV = 13.0%.
This wine is bursting with ripe red berry fruit flavours. It is soft and fresh, with delicate light tannins.
ABV = 13.0%.
The 2017 vintage was 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.
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.
ABV = 15.0%.
As Cenatiempo will tell you, Ischia wine is mountain wine. The vineyards all over the island are influenced by the close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea (off the West Coast of Italy, not far from Naples) but also from their elevation – their grapes are grown up to elevations of 600 meters. The winery is run by Pasquale Cenatiempo and his partner, Federica Predoni. They make compelling, focused, mineral-driven wines from the island’s indigenous varieties on the volcanic slopes of Ischia.
Ischia is situated just off the coast of Naples. Here the soil is volcanic. In fact, the island was formed by a volcano which last erupted in 1302. The winery was founded in 1945 by Pasquale’s father Francesco, who, like Pasquale today, made wine from his own grapes as well as from some of his friends and neighbors throughout the island. Not much has changed over the last 70 years.
Sites located on different sides of the island of Ischia at elevations ranging from 50-450 m ASL with diverse exposures.
Vines are guyot, sapling, and spur-pruned cordon trained: All grapes are hand-harvested in October.
Grapes are macerated for 4-6 days and fermented in stainless steel tank under temperature control using indeginous yeasts, with minimal use of sulphites and minimal intervention.
Aged 4 months on the lees in concrete and stainless steel followed by 1 month bottle ageing in the cellar prior to release.
100% Per e' Palummo.
Ruby colour, very bright. On the nose a mix of red fruit, strawberry and red berries with hints of violets and spices. On the palate it is dry and clean with a refreshing and pleasant character.
ABV = 13.0%.
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Charles Smith.
The maker says: "When Hollywood’s surprise hit Sideways suddenly spawned anti-Merlot sentiments everywhere, Charles set out to rebuff the movie’s unflattering depiction of this great varietal. One sip of this bold, sultry creation and you’ll know he succeeded at making Merlot sexy again".
More traditionally put: This wine is made by Charles Smith, a self–taught winemaker who brings his rock and roll spirit to the vineyards of Walla Walla, Washington. As a romantic young man, Charles Smith moved across the world to Denmark to follow his love for his girlfriend at the time. In Scandinavia, he became a recognized manager for rock bands such as The Raveonettes. While travelling on the road with these bands, he developed his passion for wine. In 1999, he moved back to Washington, opened a wine store and became friendly with a French winemaker, later convincing him to move to Walla Walla to make wine together.
The aromas are that of cherry, cedar and black cherry, with an intense cherry, blackberry and some tobacco on the finish which is clean and lingers for a full mouth feel.
89% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Malbec.
Letting this wine sit in the glass for 10 to 15 minutes will help to enhance the flavors and bring out the aromas while burning off any surface alcohol. The best foods to pair with this wine are lamb chops, steaks, pork chops, beef stew and hearty soups. This wine can also be enjoyed by itself due to its rich velvety texture on the palate.
ABV = 13.5%.
The majority of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend yields a wine with ripe blackcurrant, cedar tree and earthy aromas. Notes of cherry, cranberry, spice and hints of liquorice continue on the palate which is enveloped in smooth, ripe tannins. This wine shows lovely balance, depth and structure with an elegant finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Merlot 15%, Petit Verdot 3% and Cabernet Franc 2%
ABV = 13.0%.
Created in the 15th century, Château de Pez is the oldest domain in Saint-Estèphe. The Pontac family, who also created Haut-Brion, gave Pez its vineyards. The domain was sold as a property of the state after the French Revolution and was owned by a succession of families before Champagne Louis Roederer purchased it in 1995.
The Château de Pez estate covers more than 26 hectares. The wines are left to ferment in traditional oak vats before being blended, and left to develop for a period of 16 to 18 months in oak barrels, 40 percent of them new.
The month of June saw ideal conditions for ripening although July and August were much more dreary. September, on the other hand, brought a glorious and endless Indian Summer. These weather conditions, much appreciated in Bordeaux, laid the foundations for this classic and highly promising vintage. The harvesting lasted 5 long weeks as we harvested each parcel at optimum ripeness. This vintage gave powerful, generous and very expressive Merlots, distinctive and elegant Cabernet Sauvignons and exceptionally complex Cabernet Francs and Petit Verdots. The wines are powerful, voluptuous, rich and well-balanced.
The Château de Pez winery remains resolutely faithful to wood. The blend is composed in December, then the wine is stored in barrels (40% new wood, 40% in “premier vin” casks and 20% in “deuxième vin” casks) and racked every three months. Vatting: 22-30 days. It is to be noted that the wine undergoes absolutely no filtration. The wines of Château de Pez have an attractive tannic structure worthy of further ageing. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Pomerols’ of St-Estèphe, in part due to the smooth roundness brought to the wine by the Merlot vines grown on the exceptional soils. They tend to be dark in colour and have great length, body and distinction and are best appreciated after 5+ years.
This wine is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot.
Complex nose of spice and red fruits. Long palate with smooth, elegant tannins and notes of black fruits and ripe, juicy strawberries. Pairs well with lamb, red meats, cheese, truffle, chocolate.
ABV = 13.0%.
Based in Pessac Leognan on the left bank of Bordeaux, the elegant and noble Château de Rouillac is imbued with a historic past. In the 19th century Château de Rouillac was owned by Baron Haussmann, who produced a delicious wine which is said to have delighted Napoleon III. The current proprietor Laurent Cisneros and his family took up the reins of this magnificent property in 2009, passionately championing sustainable and environmental practices. The property has had a long association with horses and possesses beautiful stables; Titan their huge and impressive horse is still used today to plough the exceptional gravel soils in the vineyard. Renowned oenologist Eric Boissenot produces wines which are delicately blended with the utmost precision to reveal their optimum expression.
The property is located in the Pessac-Léognan appellation and is right at the entrance to the city of Bordeaux. The vineyard sits on an exceptional terroir of gravel. The estate covers 36 hectares of which 26 hectares are planted with vines. The vines are cultivated sustainably, with respect for the environment and the biodiversity on the estate. Herbicides are not employed; instead the vineyard is cultivated in the traditional manner. The grapes are manually harvested.
2012 was a challenging vintage characterised by high rainfall. However, a hot, dry period during the summer promoted the growth cycle and ripening of the grapes. 2012 was a grower’s vintage; meticulous work in the vineyard reduced the risks of disease pressure and allowed for a harvest of good quality. Harvest dates were carefully chosen, resulting in good quality fruit with silky tannins. Harvest took place 1st to 12th October 2012.
Fermentation and maceration of the skins took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, lasting for 20 to 25 days. During vinification daily pump-overs and punching down of the cap took place in order to extract colour and tannins; and impart structure and flavour. 100% of the wine was transferred to French oak barrels, one third of which was new and the wine underwent malolactic fermentation; two thirds of the wine were aged in barrels of one year.
Cabernet Sauvignon 58%, Merlot 42%.
A concentrated deep red wine, with ripe red and black fruit flavours enhanced by spicy notes of cloves and subtle truffle flavours. Silky smooth on the palate with fine and elegant tannins and a long, succulent finish.
ABV = 13.5%.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their November 2018 edition tasting of Best Buy Red Burgundy (see blue link below).
This magnificent property, which dates back to the 9th century, is also known as Château Philippe le Hardi, as it was once owned by the first Duc of Burgundy. Philippe le Hardi is famous as the person who banned the cultivation of Gamay in the Côte d'Or, saying in his edict of 1395 that only Pinot Noir could be used in the production of red wines from the already fabled slopes. Despite its long history, the property had fallen on hard times until it was taken over by the French bank Crédit Agricole in recent years. They have invested heavily, bringing in a new team to support the general manager, Gérard Fagnoni, and putting the emphasis on quality. The property has 98 hectares of vineyard, 72 of which are in Mercurey. These are remarkably well made and good value wines from the Côte d'Or and Côte Chalonnaise.
The fruit for the Mercurey Rouge comes from Chateau de Santenay's 72 hectares of vines planted across the Mercurey appellation. The soils are rich in clay, but the limestone is still very present as well as some areas of marl. These characteristics give the red wines of Mercurey finesse and structure.
Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes were cold soaked for seven days at 8°C to extract colour and flavour from the skins. Temperature-controlled fermentation lasted 12 to 14 days with daily pumping over, finishing with a rack and return, or 'délestage', to impart the grainy tannins that give the wines a lovely structure and length. The wine was then aged in oak barrels for 13 months, of which 20% were new.
100% Pinot Noir.
This wine is dark ruby in colour, it is bright and lifted with excellent concentration. the nose is elegant with aromas of ripe red fruit including cherries, and a touch of oak. The palate is full with great structure and an attractive chewy and grainy character. The finish is long and fresh.
ABV = 13.0%.
** See also Chateau de Santenay's excellent Premier Cru Mercurey - the 2014 vintage was rated as a DWWA 2017 Best in Category Wine **