The 2016 vintage of this wine (now very hard to find - we can't) was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition article on Discovery/New Wave Spain (see blue link below).
Alfredo Maestro Tejero’s vineyards are located within the Ribera del Duero D.O., but Alfredo has decided not to participate in the D.O., so his wines are classed as Vino de la Tierra de Castillo y León. They are completely natural wines, with no sulphur added in the vineyard or the winery. All vineyard treatments are natural and biodynamic practices are followed.
The isolated Gredos mountain range which lies 70 kilometres west of Madrid is home to a mosaic of tiny old-vine vineyards planted mainly to Grenache. El Marciano comes from one such 70-year-old granitic site lying at a staggering 1,150 metres elevation. The grapes are mainly destemmed, 20% whole bunches were retained and fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel vat of 2000 litres with daily stirrings. The wine undergoes no filtration or fining and has no added sulphur.
This gorgeous wine typifies Alfredo’s delicate touch and respect for his land. It is juicy and flavoursome, laden with spicy blackberry aromas as well as raspberry, liquorice and a fresh earth scented palate. The texture is rock-sculpted (the granite bedrock of the site lies just a few inched below the surface) and the acidity is thrillingly bright, drawing all corners together.
The label is a representation of the remote and barren granite-ridden landscape that make up this wine’s terroir. It depicts Alfredo directing two martian vineyard workers who are clearly not comfortable in their endeavours. El Marciano translates from Spanish as The Martian.
ABV = 15.0%.
The 2013 vintage (no longer available) was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their November 2019 edition panel tasting of Priorat (see blue link below).
In the heart of the Priorat appellation, between the villages of Bellmunt and Falset, is Pinord's Mas Blanc estate. Their 18 hectares of vineyard have been farmed organically from the beginning and most recently the family have adopted many biodynamic farming techniques. They believe by attempting to maintain a balance with the land they will be leaving it a better place for future generations
The grapes are sourced from seven different plots of vineyard, where the soils are made up of a slate known locally as licorella. The vines are cultivated organically and harvested by hand.
Following a meticulous selection process, the grapes underwent a careful maceration, extracting the primary aromas, flavours and the deep colour of the final wine. It was then aged for 14 months in American and French oak barrels, followed by 12 months in bottle.
Grenache 50%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Syrah 20%.
Generous blackcurrant fruit complemented by vanilla, chocolate and truffle, all enveloped in a dense and layered palate. Ripe, dense black fruits, vanilla and chocolate aromas envelope the full bodied, but elegant palate, which is rich and very silky with a long, smooth finish.
ABV = 14.5%.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2020 edition feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
The origins of the López-Montero family in wine-making and distilling date back to 1788. It was then when the first of their wineries in Tomelloso was registered, which is still on the records at the local archives of the town. In 1963 Juan Antonio López Ramírez and María Victoria Montero established Altosa, a winery and distillery that continues to make and market wines and distilled spirits. In 2005, María Victoria, with her daughter, María Belén, and her sons, Juan Antonio, Pedro José and Elías, created Bodegas y Viñedos Verum. The brand encompasses the wines of the López-Montero family from the best vineyards and terroirs in their property.
Put simply, La Mancha's Bodegas Verum is an organic vineyard which produces mono-varietal wines from both traditional grapes and forgotten indigenous varietals such as Albillo Real and Tinto Velasco.
For this, the Ulterior Parcela #17, a single-vineyard wine from Parcela 17 of the El Romeral vineyard, the grapes are picked by hand, destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless still tanks, then transferred to old barrels for malolactic fermentation. 10% of the wine is aged in oak demi-muids of 600 liters made of new French oak, the rest in earthen jars (clay) of ~ 5,000 liters for 8 months. After bottling, it is held another 12 months before release.
Verum puts its wines on sale when they are at the optimum moment for consumption; nevertheless, you can store this wine up to 7 years after harvest.
Cherry red with white trim, bright. On the nose it is intense, highlighting a floral character of violets, lavender and other aromatic herbs (typical of ripe Graciano) with a background of black fruit and subtle cocoa. On the palate it is also intense and ripe with smooth/fine-grained tannins that provide structure. There is great persistence that brings back the black fruits and violets, plus a touch of appealing bitterness that adds character.
Or, as DWWA 19 put it:
"Bright and pure purple berry fruit nose with attractive vanilla bean new oak aromas. On the palate, this is sumptuous and rich with generous, fleshy fruit. Very pure and expressive".
ABV = 13.5%.
Cambridge Road Vineyard is a small family farmed estate established in 1986 with the intention of making world class Pinot Noir and Syrah. They focus both time and energy on perfecting and beautifying their land and cultivating it according to natural biodynamic and eco-farming principles. They believe in minimal intervention winemaking, low yields, and healthy living wines.
This is the latest wine in the history of Syrah production from their home vineyard. 2015 was a low cropping year with beautiful ripeness. Harvested in late April the fruit was handled simply.
It spent 27 with days' skin contact & 12 months in neutral oak casks. It was wild fermented and bottled after one year with no fining or filtration.
This wine is 100% Syrah.
Dark spiced plum characters are apparent in the silken structured wine. Bold in weight and generous body.
ABV = 12.5%.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2019 Claret Alternatives article (see blue link below).
The Capezzana estate, 24 kilometres north west of Florence, is owned by the Contini Bonacossi family. The younger generation is now firmly in charge of the estate's 100 hectares of vineyard, with daughter Benedetta Contini Bonacossi as winemaker and Francesco Bernabei as consultant winemaker. The wines and the olive oil have an elegance which marks this estate out from the crowd.
Grapes are grown on the estate's 104 hectares of vineyard which have been converted to organic production. Vines are situated at approximately 150-200 metres above sea level, facing south, south-east and south-west. Soils are schistous clay with limestone.
The 2016 vintage was characterised by a very mild winter with regular spells of rain until early June allowing for important underground water reserves to build up. Conditions through the growing season were good, with a large crop of healthy grapes flourishing during the dry, sunny and warm summer days that were balanced by cool evenings. Although heavy rainfall (80ml over three days) arrived on the 15th September, overall this vintage is characterised by the large diurnal temperature variation during summer which has given the 2016 vintage an aromatic note more defined than in previous years.
Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks for 25 days at temperatures between 18-25°C. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation the wine was put in French oak for the malolactic fermentation and then aged in 3.5 hectolitre tonneaux for 12 months, followed by 12 months in bottle before release.
75% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Cabernet Franc.
Ruby red in colour with a restrained, elegant nose. Perfumes of dark cherry and liquorice give way to spice and plums on the palate. Rounded tannins from the Sangiovese are lifted by the cassis concentration of the Cabernet and melt into a long, perfumed finish.
ABV = 14.0%.
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.
2017 was a very early vintage thanks to the good water reserves in the soil and the mild temperature from February. The warmer temperatures in July and August aided the vegetative cycle. The grapes were picked early, when the optimal sugar and acidity levels had been obtained.
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%.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers at Chateau Coupe-Roses.
60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Carignan.
Its expression is a blend of power and complex aromatic characters, candied fruits, spice, pepper and blackcurrant, with a fresh acidity.
ABV = 14.0%.
Château de Chambert lies 30 kilometres west of the town of Cahors, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Owned and run by Philippe Lejeune since 2007, with the additional support of consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, the estate has already garnered considerable attention in France and is top critic Michel Bettane’s ‘One to Watch’. The elegant, modern wines are made from the deep-coloured Malbec variety, which traditionally produced the ‘black wines’ of Cahors.
Vineyards are planted with 85% Malbec and 15% Merlot at the highest part of the South Quercy limestone plateau (causse), at an average altitude of 300 metres above sea level. The soil contains two distinct geological components; red clay with high concentration of red which lends the wine power, spice and black fruit aromas; and white clay with limestone similar to that of Chablis, which produces minerality and finesse. Located between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, the unique mesoclimate takes effect especially towards harvest when hot winds from Africa aid grape ripening. Careful leaf-thinning and green harvesting ensure well exposed fruit. The vines are 25 years old and yields are low at around 28 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes are hand-harvested.
Warm weather early in the year brought the 2014 bud-burst forward to 19th March, two weeks earlier than average. Summer began with a beautiful, dry June, but July and August suffered from intermittent rain, which increased disease pressure and slowed ripening. A warm, dry September allowed full sugar and phenolic ripeness, and healthy vines, with the long growing season encouraging complexity and concentration. The harvest started with on 3rd October, and was completed by the middle of the month.
The grapes are separated by parcel and vinified spearately. After a pneumatic press, the free-run juice and pressings were separated. Fermentation took place with ambient yeasts at controlled temperatures of 25-30°C, and the cap was managed by a combination of pump-overs and plunging. The fermenting must spent 25 days on skins. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel. The wine was matured for 12 months in french oak, 20% of which were new.
85% Malbec, 15% Merlot.
This wine is beautifully dark and intense in colour. On the nose, it has refined ripe fruit aromas of blueberry and violet. On the palate, the tannins are silky and round and the mineral character on the finish balances the black fruit and ripe flavours.
ABV = 13.5%.
Hochar Père et Fils is sourced from specially selected vineyards near the village of Aana in the Bekaa Valley, characterised by deep, gravelly soil over a limestone base. Low yields (25-30 hectolitres per hectare) result in concentrated wines and the altitude keeps the average yearly temperatures at around 25º C, encompassing cold, snowy winters, mild springs and hot summers.
This wine is a blend of Cinsault 50%, Grenache 35% and Cabernet Sauvignon 15%.
To see Chateau Musar's excellent tasting note and information on this wine, please click the blue link below.
ABV = 13.5%.
Chateau Musar first started producing the Musar Jeune range of wines in 2006 from the fruit of low-yielding Bekaa Valley vines at around 1,000 metres above sea level. Altitude keeps the average temperature at 25 degrees Celsius with hot sunny days and cool nights and with 300 days of sunshine a year, grapes are ripened to perfection. Unoaked and made according to Musar’s natural non-interventionist winemaking philosophy, Musar Jeune wines are vibrantly fruity, richly concentrated and this vintage is no exception.
The Musar Jeune Red is a blend of old vines Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from organically certified vineyards.
The wines were fermented in concrete vats between 27 and 29 ºC, they were not fined or filtered and sedimentation occurred naturally. After the varieties were blended it rested in concrete vats again until being bottled in the summer.
Cinsault 45%, Syrah 45% and Cabernet Sauvignon 10%.
This wine is a deep burgundy red with an attractive red cherry and violet aroma. The flavours are of juicy, sweet summer fruits; raspberries, black cherries with hints of elderberry and hibiscus. The flavours are beautifully balanced with soft tannins and fresh underlying acidity and incense-like spice.
ABV = 14.0%.
The 2011 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2019 Claret Alternatives article; (see blue link below).
The wines of Chateau Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient wine-making culture, as vines have been cultivated in Lebanon's high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6000 years. In 1930, at just 20 years old, Gaston Hochar founded Chateau Musar, inspired by Lebanon’s winemaking tradition and his travels in Bordeaux.
Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Cinsault (see fiche technique below for greater detail) from vineyards near the Bekaa Valley villages of Aana and Kefraya on gravelly soils over limestone. Planted from the 1930s onwards, yields are low from these mature bushvines (average age: 40 years).
Equal thirds of Cinsault, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon.
To see Chateau Musar's excellent tasting note and information on this wine, please click the blue link below.
ABV = 14.5%.
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition tasting/review (by John Livingstone-Learmonth) of the excellent 2015 Southern Rhône vintage (see blue link below).
Clos du Joncuas is run by Ferdinand Chastan and his son Dany. There are 29 hectares in total of mainly old vines and the estate is run strictly along organic lines having achieved organic status in 1989.
This wine is made traditionally in cement tanks, with vinification temperatures of between 30°Cand 33°C. Fermentation takes place naturally with only the indigenous yeast of each grape berry, which expresses the genuine and deep flavors of this land. This helps to protect the wine's unique flavours. There is a long maceration of 25 to 30 days, and the wine is made using pumping over. When the wine is completed, two extractions are done to clarify the wine, without fining or filtration. It then spends 12 months in oak barrels, and bottled without fining or filtering.
This full-bodied red is 80% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Cinsault.
It has a deep and sustained purple colour, deploys intense flavours of red and black fruits in his youth, evolving towards more spicy and woody notes, when it reaches full maturity. It is a full and balanced warm wine. Long and velvety on the palate. This wine has the capacity to age for between 8 and 12 years.
ABV = 15.0%.
The Conterno Fantino winery was founded in 1982 by Claudio Conterno and Guido Fantino. Today they cultivate 27 hectares of vines and produce about 140,000 bottles per year, split between the 4 varietals of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Chardonnay. Over the years, the two founders have been joined by Alda, Fabio and Elisa Fantino in various roles. Environmental sustainability, preserving biodiversity, respect of the land and its heritage are the guiding principles in the vineyards, which are organically cultivated and certified by CCPB. The Conterno Fantino winery styles its wines with the primary goal of reflecting their own identity: from painstaking manual selection of fruit which is harvested by hand using small crates; from preserving the aromas of the vineyard with spontaneous fermentation from indigenous yeasts (no commercial yeast is used here); from the careful use of wood for the ageing of the wines to the minimal use of sulfites, right up to the bottle ageing. "Our wine is the offspring of the land in which the wines are cultivated, and once in the winery must be brought up, step by step, as if it were a member of the family. Our wine is one of us."
This wine is 100% Barbera.
A wine ruby red in appearance with cherry reflections. Elegantly scented with pleasant notes of cherry and sour cherry. Very rich extractions on the palate, persistent but simultaneously soft. Excellent served with roasted red and white meats, and strong cheeses such as: penne with stir-fried beef and red bell pepper, provencal lamb with Mediterranean vegetables, pistachio-crusted pork with plum sauce and fried leeks or spiced venison steaks with red-cabbage confit and red-wine sauce.
To see an information sheet for this wine that has been produced by the team at Conterno Fantino, please click on the blue link below.
ABV = 15.0%.
Founded in 1982, Conterno Fantino testifies to the talent and vision of viticulturist Claudio Conterno (formerly of Giacomo Conterno) and his partner, oenologist Guido Fantino. These great wines start in exceptional vineyard sites at Monforte and are lovingly nurtured in the state-of-the-art winery at Bricco Bastia. This location is scenically set, dominating the most ancient section of Monforte and overlooked by the majestic sweep of the Alps.
Vigna del Gris, from Ginestra at 300m, is on a sandier portion of vineyard that faces south-east and favours delicacy and elegance.
Short maceration on skins, vinified in rotary fermenters and aged two years in French oak barrels from coopers Taransaud, Boutes and Quintessence, followed by 12 months in the bottle.
See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from Conterno Fantino.
“The 2010 Barolo Vigna del Gris is beautiful, layered and expressive. Sweet tobacco, mint, licorice, crushed flowers and plums meld together in a supple, gracious wine for the year. Sweet rose petals and mint add an attractive upper register of trademark aromatics and perfume as the wine opens up in the glass. The 2010 remains dense and compact, but it is impossible to miss that the tannins here are more refined than has typically been the case with the Gris in the past, which is probably the result of vines getting older. The 2010 needs time to unwind, but it is quite pretty and full of potential. Conterno Fantino gave the 2010 a year in 100% new French oak, followed by a year in a combination of equal parts barrique and cask".
94 points, Antonio Galloni, Jan 2014, Vinous Media
"The 2010 Barolo Vigna del Gris comes from 30-year-old vines and southeast exposures (not far from where the legendary Monfortino wine is made). A vein of sandy soil in the vineyard makes for special conditions that favor delicate aromas of blue flower, forest fruit, ash and brimstone. In essence, this is a sharply focused and linear expression that leaves a direct and long-lasting impact in the mouth. Drink: 2017-2028".
93 points, Monica Larner, 26 June 2014, Wine Advocate
ABV = 14.0%.
It all started way back in 1886, when Paolo Conterno founded the Casa della Ginestra, dedicated to the production of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto wines. An indefatigable worker with a mind of great intuition, he devoted the most favourable parts of the Ginestra hillside to the growing of the grapes, subdividing them by type, exposure and terrain. Furthermore, he had the foresight to predict the existence of a market of connoisseurs of superior quality products, selling his own wine in wooden kegs and produced by himself in his own cellar. Paolo was succeeded by his son Carlo and his wife Giuseppina. The company was subsequently run by Paolo and Caterina Conterno and today the company is managed by their son Giorgio.
This wine is from 4.5ha of land close to the Conterno Fantino winery. At just under 600m asl the vineyard is high for the Barolo region and average slope is consequently steep, at 25%. The composition of the soil is predominantly sandy (57%) which is ideal for the production of perfumed, floral Dolcetto with an attractive acid structure. The average age of the vines is 15 years, and over recent seasons quality has been improved through top grafting with small-berried, loose-bunched clones. Yields are low for Dolcetto, at slightly over 50 hl/ha.
The grapes are selected and picked by hand at the beginning of September. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration take place on the skins in stainless steel horizontal fermenters over 4 - 5 days. The wine is then aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks before being bottled.
This wine is made from (certified) organically grown grapes and is 100% Dolcetto.
Mouthwatering acid structure and agreeably soft in texture. Displays lovely cherry, berry and floral flavours, with an earthy, barnyard note. Ready to drink.
ABV = 13.5%.