The Allegrini family estate covers 100 hectares of vineyard in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico area. The family has been growing grapes here for six generations, but the estate in its current form was founded by Giovanni Allegrini. When he passed away in 1983, it passed to his three children, who ran it together until Walter's death in July 2003. Franco now looks after the vineyards and is the winemaker, and Marilisa is director of marketing.
Palazzo della Torre covers 26 hectares of east-facing vineyard planted between 1962 and 2013, situated 240 metres above sea level. Allegrini purchased this vineyard in 1978. Soils are cretaceous and calcareous, with Pergola Trentina trained vines planted at 3,000 vines per hectare.
The 2016 vintage was characterised by generally positive climatic conditions, despite above-average rainfall in the spring. Heavy rain in May meant that prompt and thorough preventative measures had to be undertaken to protect the vines, which successfully safeguarded their health. The second half of June gave way to fine weather that continued throughout the summer months, with temperatures not exceeding 35°C. The marked differences in day-night temperatures recorded in particular during veraison, combined with the considerable water reserves accumulated during spring, resulted in an increase in sugar concentration, helped to maintain acidity and facilitated the development of the specific flavour characteristics of each varietal. Finally, a ‘slow’ harvest in ideal weather conditions allowed the grapes to achieve perfect ripening at a gradual pace. The 2016 vintage promises to be one of the best ever, outstanding for its great balance and elegance.
Franco Allegrini used the modern version of the traditional ripasso technique for Palazzo della Torre, drying a proportion of the grapes in the 'Terre di Fumane' drying centre, to intensify the character of this vineyard. The grapes that were dried were hand picked at the beginning of September, and the grapes vinified immediately were picked at the end of the month. 70% of the grapes picked were vinified immediately and 30% were left to dry until the second half of December when they were vinified and then refermented with the wine from the fresh grapes. The wine spent 15 months in second-use barriques, and was blended together for two months, then aged for a further seven months in bottle.
70% Corvina/Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese.
Ruby red in colour, Palazzo della Torre has enticing aromas of cherry with rich dark chocolate notes. Velvety in texture, it is well-balanced and offers ripe, juicy dark fruit, with silky tannins and refreshing acidity.
ABV = 13.5%.
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 30-40 year old vines from Bodegas LAN’s longstanding 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 2012 vintage was marked by drought, which influenced both grape volume and grape quality in some places, but also resulted in a significant quantity of very high quality wine. Rains in late September had a positive effect on ripening, and harvested grapes were well balanced and healthy. The Rioja Control Board rated the 2012 vintage ‘Very Good’.
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.
92% Tempranillo, 8% Mazuelo.
This wine 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.
ABV = 13.5%.
Château Larose Perganson lies in Saint-Laurent-Médoc, on the border of Pauillac and Saint-Julien, next to the Château Latour vineyards. Here, winemaker Frank Bijon is producing a Cru Bourgeois that rivals the Classed Growths of the Médoc. Jean-Pierre du Pontet, the King's Council, purchased the Perganson estate at auction in 1719, which later became Pontet-Perganson when it was inherited by his youngest son. The Larose name first appeared in the 1830s, after Henry Delaroze became the owner in 1815. Sustainability has been key to Larose Perganson since 1999 and it is the first (and only) vineyard in Europe to have been awarded the highest Exemplary Level in Sustainable Development. They are so dedicated to sustainability that they keep bees on their property to help the declining bee population.
Château Larose Perganson's 35 hectares of vineyards are located in St Laurent Médoc on Médoc's finest gravelly soils: Günzian gravel from the Quaternary and Pyrenean gravel. It produces consistently awardwinning wines at a fraction of the price of its illustrious neighbours (Château Latour).
An exceptionally cold and damp summer threatened the 2014 vintage. However, an unseasonably warm and dry autumn brought the vintage back on track. Highly perfurmed with good acidity, the reds are fresh with supple tannins, perfect for both early drinking and cellaring.
Grape sorting was carried out twice (post-harvest and after destemming), to ensure only the best grapes were used for fermentation. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to retain the primary bright fruit with gentle punch downs to minimise extraction of hard drying tannins. The wine was then blended and aged in French barriques, 50% new, for 12 to 16 months.
58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot.
This wine is intense ruby in colour with crimson hues. The nose shows hints of black berries with spicier notes coming to the fore. On the palate, the wine is full bodied with polished elegant tannins, great structure and a very long finish.
ABV = 13.5%.
The stunning Finca Villacreces estate is located in Quintanilla de Onesimo on the 'golden mile', in the heart of Ribera del Duero DO. The 155 hectare property is bordered by the River Duero to the north and by the vineyards of Vega Sicilia to the west. It was purchased by Lalo Antón of Izadi in 2003 to add further scope to their wine portfolio. The vineyards are now farmed organically, with canopy management and natural treatments used instead of artificial chemicals. As expected, Tempranillo is the mainstay of the vineyards, with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon also planted.
Grapes for Pruno are only taken from Finca Villacreces’ own vineyards, from slightly younger vines. Until recently, the estate sold this production to some of the high profile wineries in the region. Now that the vines have reached between 10 and 15 years of age, the Izadi family has begun to handpick and vinify the grapes themselves. The vineyards have a mixture of soils: sandy, gravel, shingle and quartz. The vineyards are planted with about 90% Tempranillo (mostly on the sandy vineyards, which give an attractive fleshiness to the wines) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon (mostly on the quartz and shingle, giving more mineral complexity). Organic practises are used as much as possible and the close proximity of the river helps protect against frost. Work is currently being undertaken in the vineyards to raise the height of the canopy to obtain riper, healthier grapes.
The vintage 2016 was very good. The harvest was characterised by the climate's Atlantic influence, which lead to a generally fresh vintage and very good yields. The cycle began with a flowering in early May and was fully harvested in October. The grapes achieved full maturity without over-ripeness, which made the wines fresher and more balanced.
The Tempranillo (90% of blend) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) grapes were fermented separately in small stainless steel tanks. The two varieties were then aged separately in fine-grained, French oak barrels (from coopers Taransaud and Darnajou) for 12 months after which the final blend was assembled and the wine bottled.
Deep cherry-red colour. On the nose, aromas of red fruits blend with hints of spice. The wine is dry but with generous fruit giving a smooth, round texture and fresh acidity to ensure excellent balance. The finish is full, with ripe black and red fruit with spice, vanilla and liquorice touches from the ageing.
ABV = 13.5%.
Kaikenes are wild geese, native to Patagonia, that fly across the Andes between Chile and Argentina. In the same way, Montes, the Chilean winery, crossed the Andes to set up in Mendoza. Their vineyards are situated in the heart of Mendoza and further to the south in Valle de Uco, where many of the premium producers are now sourcing their fruit. The focus is primarily on Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety that has been somewhat forgotten as Malbec has surfed one wave of success after another in the past decade. As a result, there are many old vineyards in Mendoza that produce excellent fruit. Kaiken's own vineyards supply 70% of their production requirements and 30% is from vineyards that they control.
The fruit for the Malbec Ultra was sourced from the Uco Valley. Variations in altitude and soil type result in grapes with distinct characteristics that give unique and highly complex wines. Grapes are sourced from three separate vineyards, at different altitudes: Vista Flores at 1,400 metres above sea level, Gualtallary at 1,300 metres above sea level, and Altamira at 1,100 metres above sea level. In spite of location and altitude variations, all three soil types are similar: alluvial soil with some sand and silt on top of very rocky layers that provide excellent drainage and ideal conditions to grow highly concentrated grapes.
The 2017 vintage in Mendoza was generally warm and dry. Cooler temperatures before harvest meant wines were slightly lower in alcohol, but had well preserved acidity. 2017 is considered one of the best vintages in recent years in Mendoza.
The must was fermented in small tanks under optimum conditions to preserve the individual vineyard characters and qualities. After one month of fermentation, including maceration, the wine was transferred into French oak barrels, one third of which were new and two thirds of which were 2nd- and 3rd-use barrels. The wine was aged in barrels for 12 months and was lightly filtered before bottling.
This wine is deep ruby red in colour, with purple tones and a wonderful display of rich aromas. The nose is enticing and spicy with black fruit aromas and floral notes. Good structure and soft tannins lead to a finish that is fresh, complex and long, with fruit notes and subtle undertones of rosemary, thyme, and dry flowers.
ABV = 14.0%.
The Rufina zone is the smallest of all in Chianti (about 1,000 hectares of vineyard) but also one of the most special. The cool breeze that blows down the Sieve Valley gives the best wines a finesse and definition that few in Chianti Classico can match. And there is no better producer in Rufina than Selvapiana, which has been in the family of Francesco Giuntini since 1827. Federico Giuntini Masseti now runs the property, which is situated just north of the town of Pontassieve. The estate covers 245 hectares, 60 of which are planted under vine (95% being Sangiovese), 22 are olive groves, and the rest is covered by woods. For the most part, the vineyards face west, though Selvapiana's prized Bucerchiale vineyard is south west facing.
The grapes are grown in the ancient Selvapiana estate which covers 56 hectares. For the most part, the vineyards face west/north west and are situated at an altitude of 150-200 metres above sea level. The soil is mostly clay and limestone. The older vines planted in the late 1970s, are planted at a density of 3,200 per hectare and 5,200 per hectare for the younger vines planted at the beginning of the 2000s. The average yield is 35-40 hectolitres per hectare.
2016 was a classic vintage. Winter was quite mild, with good amounts of rainfall. Bud break came early in April due to warm weather. May, June and the summer months were warm, with the right amount of rain. Night -time temperatures were also cool. The grapes were healthy, ripe and rich yet well balanced, with very ripe tannins.
Fermentation took place partly in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and partly in cement tanks, at a temperature of 28-30°C. Maceration lasted 15 days with daily pumping over. The wine was aged for 12 months, with 10% held in stainless steel, 65% in 25-30 hectolitre French oak casks and 25% in barriques. The wine was then blended in tank and bottled.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, Colorino and Malvasia Nera.
Bright ruby red in colour, this wine has perfumes of ripe blackberry fruit, red cherry and a touch of spice on the nose. On the palate, it is ripe and juicy but still fine and elegant in the Selvapiana style, with a tight structure and lifted, floral finish with refreshing acidity.
ABV = 14.0%.