Situated in the historic area of Sardón de Duero in Ribera del Duero is the small, premium artisanal winery of Abadia Retuerta, comprised of a patchwork of 54 individual vineyard plots, each planted with a single variety, and each with starkly different characteristics. Winemaker Pascal Delbeck - proprietor of Château Ausone - has an fascination with international varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc – and he makes great use of them. He is also at the forefront of a movement to get Castillo y Leon - currently Vino de la Tierra - recognised as a DO.
The Selección Especial is Abadia Retuerta's best-known wine worldwide and accounts for some 80% of all their production.
Produced from a selection of the best grapes from each of their vineyards, it combines the richness of a Tempranillo and the elegance of a Cabernet Sauvignon with the strength of a Syrah.
This wine is aged for 16 months in French and American oak barrels. During this time the wood infuses notes of cedar, pastry and notes of toast into the wine.
Intense dark garnet color, vivid and bright. The nose shows great aromatic complexity of cherry liqueur notes and subtle nuances of dark chocolate, together with a background of redfruit and blackberries. The palate is warm and delicate, silky tannins enhance its refinement and roundness. Its balanced acidity and surprising freshness are well integrated into a subtle and long finish making this Selección Especial a wine of a sharp elegance.
ABV = 14.5%.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their January 2020 edition article, Most Exciting Wines of 2019 (see blue link below).
Awarded 95 points and Gold status at the 2019 IWC (International Wine Challenge) in May 2019 (see blue link below for review and their tasting note).
The Skeggs family were among the first people to buy and plant vineyard land in Central Otago in the mid 1990s, so were lucky enough to acquire a superb north facing site in Bannockburn. Planted in 1996, this 50 hectare site has since provided the backbone of the Akarua wines. Due to the short growing season in Central Otago, site selection is one of the key elements in making a great wine, and Akarua have a site that is among the very best. Akarua was re-introduced after many years to Liberty Wines by Tony Jordan, who makes their sparkling wines. Tony built Domaine Chandon in Australia, and is one of the world's leading experts in sparkling wine production. He has been enamoured with the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.
All the Pinot Noir grapes were harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare site on Cairnmuir Road in Bannockburn, which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soil here is young alluvial schist based sand/silt and sandy loams overlaying schist rock. The vines are 16 years old.
The 2017 growing season was uniquely cool, leading to small bunches and low yields. Luckily, this cool weather reduced disease pressure so fruit remained healthy right up until harvest which started in mid-April.
The grapes were hand picked and 90% were destemmed. Pre-fermentation maceration took place over five days, with temperatures peaking at 31°C. Punch downs took place twice daily and post fermentation maceration lasted six days. The wine spent 10 months in French barriques, 30% of which were new.
100% Pinot Noir.
Deep bright ruby in colour. The nose displays intense black fruit flavours and the complexity that Bannockburn Pinot Noir is renowned for, with haunting aromatics of bramble fruits and spice. The palate is elegantly balanced with red fruits and finely textured tannins. A wine with great poise and longevity.
ABV = 14.0%.
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 vineyards in the townships of Monforte, Castiglione Falletto, and Serralunga. The soils from the Tortonian-Messinian period - the so-called “Sant’Agata fossil marls” - are particularly rich in calcareous clays and elements such as magnesium and manganese.
The selected grape bunches were destemmed and pressed. The fermentation with skin contact lasted a total of ten days at maximum temperatures of 30° centigrade (86° Fahrenheit). The malolactic fermentation terminated before the end of the winter. The wine ages for at least 18 months in French oak casks. A further period of bottle ageing in the Prunotto cellars preceded commercial release.
This wine was made using 100% Nebbiolo.
The 2015 Barolo stands on firm ground thanks to the dark and savory qualities that lift heavily from the bouquet. This wine is saturated and rich with dark aromas that are firmly stitched together with spice, licorice and pressed blue flowers. There is power and richness at the deep inner core of this wine. It will unfold and become softer with time (perhaps five years or more).
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2020 edition's panel tasting of Valpolicella Ripassos (see blue link below).
In 1957, the Bertani family bought the Tenuta Novare, a unique place in the heart of the Valpolicella Classica area. The estate is situated in a green hollow, in a sort of natural amphitheatre, where the vineyards alternate with woods and lush nature. It is an extraordinary land where constant water is guaranteed by 7 natural springs. Amarone Bertani wouldn’t be the authentic and distinctive wine we know today, if this unique place didn’t exist.
Tenuta Novare has a continuous and unusual alternation of soils: clay at the bottom of the valley, calcareous soils rich in iron and manganese and soils rich in basalt, ideal for producing grapes destined to making great red wines.
The mild climate, as shown by the presence of cypresses and olive trees, defines this welcoming and noble profile of Valpolicella.
From this same site, the Catullo Ripasso is produced, an elegant, balanced and harmonious wine with a classic style made with the second fermentation ripasso technique.
70% Corvina Veronese, 20% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella.
For this wine, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
This is a wine of medium body, with gentle spicy notes of vanilla and chocolate and the typical notes of cherry, black cherry and white pepper. On the palate, freshness and drinkability (typical of Valpolicella) combine with a silky tannic structure and an intense aromatic persistence, more typical of Amarone. Fresh, soft and sapid finish.
Exel note: it has a markedly lower residual sugar level than many ripassos.
ABV = 13.5%.
Awarded 16.5 points (of 20) on Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages (www.JancisRobinson.com) - reviewer Richard Hemming MW - and made Wine of the Week - in June 2020, having been given an even higher score (17++) in late 2019 (see blue link below).
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Uruguayan Tannat (see blue link below).
The 2016 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition article on the Maldonado region of Uruguay (see blue link below).
Bodega Garzón is a family owned winery in Maldonado on the Atlantic coast in southern Uruguay. They pioneered viticulture in this area over 10 years ago, and have since become the standard-bearer for premium wines from Uruguay. In November 2018, their pioneering status was recognised by Wine Enthusiast with the ‘New World Winery of the Year’ award. The vineyards at Bodega Garzón are a patchwork quilt of 1,150 individual plots of around 0.2 hectares in size, each plot carefully chosen for a specific variety according to its soil and microclimate. The winery is specially designed to operate as sustainably as possible, and is the first winery outside North America to pursue LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Built on natural terraces, the winery uses cutting-edge technology and operates using a gravity system to ensure quality and energy efficiency at every stage of production.
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. This single vineyard Tannat comes from a site which is cooler than the other blocks on the estate, with steep slopes, thin soils and excellent drainage thanks to the predominance of ballast in the upper layers.
Average seasonal temperatures meant bud burst and fruit set occurred between September and December. However, strong spring winds meant work had to be undertaken in the vineyard to tie the shoots to their trellises to prevent damage. The hard work continued as rains between December and January threatened the vines and careful canopy management became necessary. Summer was dry and hot, and drip irrigation was necessary. The leaves were left untrimmed to serve as sun protection for the grapes. Late rains at the end of March brought forward the end of harvest. The wines from 2017 are characterised by elegant acidity and freshness.
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 aged on lees for 12-18 months in 25 hectolitre French oak casks for added complexity. The oak used was untoasted and fourth use.
This wine is 100% Tannat.
Deep purple in colour, this powerful Tannat has an elegant nose with aromas of cherries, strawberries and black plums with hints of smoky tobacco and dark chocolate. Full bodied, with fresh acidity and firm tannins complementing the spicy black fruit on a long, intense finish.
ABV = 14.5%.
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.
ABV = 14.0%.
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.
ABV = 14.5%.
** VERY LIMITED UK STOCK. ABOUT TO BE USED IN OUR FORTHCOMING VALDIVIESO/CABALLO LOCO TASTING, SO LIMITED TO TWO BOTTLES PER CUSTOMER UNTIL AFTER THE TASTING! **
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 panel tasting of South American Icon Wines (see blue link below).
The winemaker's own technical sheets appear below (click blue links) - the Spanish inclusion may seem a little leftfield, but includes regional and other info that have yet to be put onto the English version.
Valdivieso's top wine and stable star, the Caballo Loco is known around the world and each year changes merely its edition and, technically, not its vintage. It brings together every Cabollo Loco made since 1992 (the year of version 1), in what is, effectively, a solera system (as used for sherry and brandy de Jerez).
The idea for Caballo Loco was inspired by the legendary Ribera de Duero, Vega Sicilia Único Gran Reserva, which is produced using the solera method. This is the winemaking technique used for sherry and brandy de Jerez production, in which barrel-aged wines from different years are progressively and fractionally blended for reasons of both complexity and consistency.
The first Caballo Loco was produced in 1994 (Caballo Loco 1) and made from a blend of 50% of that year’s vintage with an aged blend from 1992.
The resulting wine is bottle-aged for at least 18 months before release onto the market, and being a blend of wines from different years, there is, of course, no vintage on the label.
The grapes for the premium Caballo Loco come from four different vineyards in central Chile. The blend of the new wine varies each time it is made. Number 1 for example was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir, whilst later editions have contained varieties as diverse as Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carménère. Only Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are ever-present, these being blended with the best grapes from the other varieties that were most successful in the particular year (and best suited to create the intended balance of the Caballo Loco).
Each bottle of this version 17 therefore comprises:
- 50% version 16 and
- 50% of grapes from harvests from 2012 and 2013. New for version 17 was Carignan from Melozal (a sub-region of Maule) and Syrah from Limarí. This variety brings to the Caballo Loco another dimension of complexity, with balanced freshness and acidity.
The result is a wine of great concentration, quite unlike any other on the market. There is intense mature berry fruit on the nose and richness on the palate with velvety tannins, and so many layers of flavours that the wine is almost impossible to describe in detail. The secret blend of grapes from different vintages create intense aromas of dark cherry, coffee, and rich fruitcake. Full bodied on the palate with a beautiful lingering structure.
It is a unique - some say crazy - wine, which is quite incomparable. It has great aromatic complexity and in the mouth, and an ageing potential of at least 10 years.
ABV = 14.5%.
** BOUGHT IN TO ORDER - ORDERS PLACED BY 9am MONDAY WILL BE IN STOCK FOR DELIVERY THREE DAYS LATER.**
The Caballo Loco Grands Crus were created by Valdivieso to show the different wines that are fundamental components of the icon Caballo Loco wine. For this reason, specific wines from specific valleys wine were born, where each strain/blend reflects the maximum expression of that valley.
One can arguably see these wines as understudies for the "true" Caballo Loco, but they are more than that, being quite superb - and full-throttle - wines in their own right, made with all the care, attention and know-how of the NV/"solera" version.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves (new 2016 data sheet expected imminently).
This Grand Cru Sagrada Familia represents all the fruit power and smoothness of the Curico Valley (and specifically the Sagrada Famila DO within it) with a blend of Cabernet Franc (43%), Petit Verdot (43%), 7% Syrah and 7% Carmenere.
ABV = 14.0%.
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%
** WE HAVE JUST SECURED A BLOCK DIRECTLY FROM CANTINA MESA - NOW IN STOCK! **
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%.
Beau-Site means beautiful site and lies just behind Grand Cru Château Calon-Segur on one of Medoc's highest points with fantastic views over the river Gironde. It was originally classified as a Cru Bourgeoius Superieur in 1932 but in 1966 Beau Site was reclassified as a Cru Grand Bourgeois Exceptionnel. The Castéja family, who also own Château Batailley and Château Trotte Vieille, bought the château in 1955. The château has nearly 100 hectares of vines with an average age of 35 years. Beau-Site's 18th-century underground cellar is one of the oldest in the Médoc and presents the perfect maturing conditions for a wine that is vinified with the same care and technique as a Grand Cru Classé. Beau-Sites wine is full of power and temperament, a typical Saint-Estèphe with tannins allowing for stocking this wine for some years.
2013 in Bordeaux was a challenging vintage, resulting in lower yields. A cool, wet winter, continued into spring, but the summer brought about warmer, sunny weather which allowed the grapes to achieve good ripeness levels. September was cool, but good diurnal temperatures differences promoted ripening. 2013 required attention in the vineyard; precise focus on the harvest dates, meticulous selection of the grapes and care and attention in the cellar, has resulted in a satisfying wine, which has retained its structure and aromatic fruit.
The vineyard sits on predominantly gravel soil which provides good drainage for the vines. The vines, which have an average age of 36 years, are trained according to the double Guyot method and are planted at a density of 5,500 per hectare. The average yields are 40 hectolitres per hectare.
The grapes were manually sorted and destemmed before being gently pressed. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats for four weeks, with each plot vinified separately. Malolactic fermentation took place in the stainless steel tanks. The wine was then matured in French oak 225-litre barriques for a period of 16 months.
Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Merlot 15%, Petit Verdot 3% and Cabernet Franc 2%.
Classic and traditionally styled Saint-Estèphe showing cedar oak with earthy hints of dark chocolate and a meaty texture. 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.
ABV = 13.0%.
** THIS WINE IS NOT HELD IN STOCK BUT QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH ON THE WEDNESDAY. **
Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) (see link below).
"This delivers a stylish impression from the get-go with a really nicely focused dark berry nose and hints of fresh pastry. The palate has a smooth array of bright blackberry and plum fruits with smoothly cut tannins that layer up nice and even. Classy. Best from 2022. 94 points". James Suckling, james.suckling.com, February 2018.
"The pure red-fruit flavors of this wine shoot through the firm tannins to give freshness while allowing plenty of space for the development of the tannins. It is a wine that shows both the fruit and the structure of the vintage. 92-94 points". Wine Enthusiast, April 2016.
Château Chasse-Spleen was originally one piece of a much larger estate in Haut-Médoc called Chateau Grand-Poujeaux. There was a split in 1822, and what was once Grand-Poujeaux became 4 smaller estates: Chateau Gressier-Grand-Poujeaux, Chateau Poujeaux-Theil, Chateau Maucaillou, and Chateau Chasse-Spleen.
The origins of the name “Chasse-Spleen” are foggy, but often attributed to Lord Byron who visited the estate in 1821. Byron was so moved during his stay that he was quoted as exclaiming, “Quel remede pour chasser le spleen!” or (loosely): “What better remedy to dispel melancholy!”
Chateau Chasse Spleen was owned by the Castaing family until the start of World War I when it was purchased by a German wine merchants. It was later confiscated as enemy property during the war and sold at an auction in 1922 to the Lahary family.
In 1976, the estate was bought by the Merlaut family, owners of Chateau Gruaud Larose, Chateau Ferriere, Chateau Citran, and Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, as well as a successful négociant business. Under the management of patriarch Jacques Merlaut and his daughter, Bernadotte Villars, several changes were made: the production area was increased from 40 to 80 hectares, large portions of the vines were replanted to increase vine density, and the wine making facilities were modernized.
Jacques’ daughter Bernadette later assumed control of Chateau Chasse Spleen, and with consultation from Emile Peynaud, the quality of the wines produced went up considerably. Bernadette and her husband sadly passed away in 1992 after a mountaineering accident, and management of the estate was passed on to her daughter, Claire Villars.
Chasse-Spleen was a Cru Bourgeois until 2003, when the Chateau elected to leave the classification for political reasons.
The Chateau's vineyards feature a mix of varieties thus: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot
Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old.
Plantation Density: 8,000-10,000 vines per hectare.
Vinification: Vinified in a combination of stainless steel tanks and wooden vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in vat.
Aging: In French oak barrels (40% new) for 12-15 months before bottling.
Cellaring Potential: 8-15 years.
Annual Production: About 40,000 cases.
For more detail on this this, the 2015, see the blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 42%, Petit Verdot 5%, Cabernet Franc 3%.
This is a wine with finesse and medium body. Red and black fruits in good balance fruits dominate the nose, along with the aromas of vanilla and toastiness from the oak barrels. On the palate, there are also flavours of cocoa/chocolate. The wine has a beautiful intensity and fine length.
The 2015 vintage is delicious now for lovers of more untamed wines, but will be even better after a few years in the cellar.
ABV = 13.5%.
** THIS WINE IS NOT HELD IN STOCK BUT QUICKLY BROUGHT IN TO ORDER. ORDERS PLACED BY 9am EACH MONDAY WILL BE WITH US FOR IMMEDIATE DESPATCH ON THE WEDNESDAY. **
Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in November 2018 (see link below).
"Extremely floral with blackberry and blueberry character plus hints of violets. Full-bodied yet always in check and reserve with fine tannins and bright acidity that goes on for minutes. Limestone undertones. The finish is particularly long this vintage. Super Clerc. Try in 2021. 95 points" James Suckling, www.jamesauckling.com, February 2018.
"Tasted blind. Dark crimson. Muted, but well-behaved nose. Rather sumptuous texture and fine tannins. A fine-boned wine offering real enjoyment quite early. Drink 2023-2040. 17 points". Jancis Robinson, www.JancisRobinson.com, February 2019.
A legendary terroir, prestigious neighbours, a providential encounter: the history and the success of Château Clerc Milon are summed up in these three words. The terroir is that of Pauillac, where some of the world’s finest wines are made. The neighbours are Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Lafite Rothschild, illustrious First Growths whose nearby vines can be seen from the terrace of the Château. The encounter was with Baron Philippe Rothschild, who in 1970 acquired the then badly neglected estate and decided to restore Château Clerc Milon to its status as a Cru Classe.
A wine with considerable ageing potential made in the traditional Médoc way, Château Clerc Milon is the result of a particularly successful marriage between gravel and clay-limestone terroirs and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Powerful, tannic, full-bodied and rich in fruit, it also has all the typical elegance of the finest Pauillac wines.
In terms of the weather, although 2015 was slightly warmer than average, it was above all very dry (706 mm of rain, compared with an annual average of 862 mm), especially between February and July, from budbreak to veraison. As a result the berries remained small, which explains why the yield was rather low. Rainfall in August and September was higher than average, which helped to prevent the ripening process from coming to a halt in a vineyard already stressed by the lack of water. As a result, the grapes matured at rather different rates from one plot to another, according to the variety, the age of the vines and the terroir. In order to ensure that each grape variety and each plot was picked at optimum maturity, the harvest period was the longest in living memory. It lasted 23 days between the Chateau's three estates, from the first Merlot clusters on 14 September to the last Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on 6 October.
Maturation was in oak casks (30% new) for 18 months.
According to the Château, the 2015 vintage in Pauillac is very similar in its heft and opulence to the 2005 vintage. They say: "the tannins are generally very well-rounded, dense and seamlessly smooth. After blending, the wines still have the same aromatic intensity and complex, full-bodied structures which barrel-maturing should further enhance".
Cabernet Sauvignon 51%, Merlot 34%, Cabernet Franc 13%, Petit Verdot 1% and Carmenere 1%.
The wine is a crystal-clear garnet red with violet highlights. The fresh and elegant nose exudes ripe morello cherry aromas, followed by subtle notes of liquorice and toast to complete a rich and complex yet light and airy bouquet. Initially refined and silky, the palate gathers power on finely chiselled tannins wrapped in crisp flavours of red fruit, dark chocolate and dried flowers. The rich and harmonious palate leads into a stylish and succulent finish with a slightly minty freshness.
ABV = 13.5%.
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%.