Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition Weekday Wines feature (see blue link below).
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 convinced of the potential for Central Otago to make top quality fizz for quite a while, and is now doing so with Akarua.
All the grapes are harvested from Akarua's 50 hectare estate on Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn which lies at 270 metres above sea level. The soils are fine and sandy with loam topsoil overlaying schist. Vine age is 12 years.
67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from several blocks on the vineyard were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. All batches were kept separate. Juices were settled and racked to yeast fermentation in old oak barriques and stainless steel tanks. Once malolactic fermentation was complete, the base wines, together with up to 15% of reserve wines were blended to produce the Akarua Brut NV. The blend was transferred to bottle with yeast and a precise amount of sugar to undergo the secondary sparkling fermentation. The wine was then aged for a minimum of 18 months on yeast before riddling, disgorging and labelling.
Akarua Brut NV is a fresh aperitif style with floral perfumes and savoury bread dough aromas. With lovely balance and complexity, the palate is clean, has a creamy middle and a long, crisp finish.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).
These thoughts from the team at Bellenda sum them up perfectly. "We consider, believe, create: these three words constitute the synthesis of what Bellenda is all about, who we are who work there, our family, and our close bond with our land. We love exploring the vast world of sparkling wine. That is a world that holds an enormous fascination for us and enables us to express ourselves in so many ways: sparkling or semi-sparkling, with or without sediment, classic or Charmat method can be woven and combined together, depending on the fruit from the vineyard, on local traditions, or even on a simple desire to try one’s hand at something never before attempted."
Please click on the blue link below to see an excellent fiche technique for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bellenda.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).
In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.
"Crede" is a dialect word for clay, which is a defining feature of the terrain in Valdobbiadene in which the grapes for this Prosecco Superiore are cultivated. These ancient slopes - at one time the seabed - were formed as the land slowly buckled and curved upwards, arranging the strata of the soil almost vertically.
To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.
Finding a Prosecco of consistently good quality from a respected producer that offers value for money can prove almost impossible. However, renowned winemaker Matt Thomson (of Alpha Zeta fame) has come to the rescue and now works to produce a real Prosecco - clean, fresh, soft, frothing, uncomplicated, gulpable and above all, affordable with Andrea Morlin of Conegliano and a grower friend in a modern, compact winery tucked into the hills of this beautiful region. As of the 2015 vintage, all Ca' Morlin wines have been certified organic.
Glera grapes for this Prosecco are grown on 12 hectares of vineyards in Asolo, a sizeable quantity in this fragmented zone.
The fruit was picked relatively late and cool fermented in order to preserve the delicate aromatics of the grape. Both the first and second fermentation take place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The 'spumante' style of Prosecco is fully sparkling, with more carbon dioxide retained at bottling. Due to the quality of the fruit, they have been able to utilise a lower level of residual sugar than is usual with Prosecco, so the wines are drier and more drinkable as a result. This prosecco is labelled as 'Extra Dry' so is a drier style but still has the characteristic fruitiness you expect from prosecco.
Asolo, Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are the three areas that produce DOCG Prosecco. This Asolo Spumante is soft, scented and grapey, with delicious lightness and a long lasting 'mousse'. Perfect as an aperitif, it is best served between 6-8°C.
In 1850, Cleto Chiarli moved from the countryside to the town of Modena, together with his wife Lucia and their four children: Adalgisa, Oreste, Anselmo and Aristide. In 1860 he decided to dedicate himself to the making of Lambrusco. This proved to be a momentous turning point which would indicate the direction for future generations and which would bring about nothing short of a revolution in the selling of Lambrusco. The Company flourished and was able to reach an impressive production of one million bottles in 1910.
The wine undergoes a light maceration followed by a slow (or Pris de Mousse) fermentation in closed tanks. Lambrusco di Sorbara is an elegant wine which is pale and rosé-like and tends to be dry and lively.
Deep rosé in colour, with clear fragrances of strawberry and brushwood. This wine's taste is fresh, pervasive, mineral, and at the same time velvety and surprisingly pleasant. Dynamic.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below)...
Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most awarded collections of wines in the world. The intricacies of the champagnes' complex make-up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne - between three winemakers they have been awarded 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge fifteen times. This winemaking legacy, paired with the house's flamboyant history since its foundation in 1851 by the man who would become known as 'Champagne Charlie', makes it a unique offering from Champagne: a house with great, hand-crafted wines, heritage and proven quality.
Charles Heidsieck have built exceptional relationships with the most experienced growers across the Champagne region, and can draw on a rich palette of crus. Precise selection of grapes takes place from 60 specific sites. Vineyards which are integral to producing grapes which build the house style are Oger for Chardonnay for its texture, floral notes and ageing ability, Ambonnay for Pinot Noir for its power, vinosity and fruit, and Verneuil for Pinot Meunier for its acidity, body and aromatics.
After the first fermentation, the wine is racked to separate the lees and then undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity. After blending, using 40% reserve wines which have an average age of 10 years, the cuvée is bottled and selected yeast added to begin the second fermentation. The bottles are placed in the cellars at a temperature of 10°C. In order to achieve the depth and complexity required by the house style, Charles Heidsieck age their Non-Vintage champagne for 5 years before disgorging, much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.
The Brut Réserve NV is a radiant pale gold colour with fine, persistent bubbles. The nose is characterised by complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky-smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. There is perfect balance of freshness and generosity.
Formerly owned by the Lombardini family (proprietors of La Giustiniana in Gavi), Contero is now owned by the Marenco family, who are Moscato and Brachetto specialists in Strevi. This 11 hectare estate remains one of the best producers of invigoratingly delicious Moscato d'Asti and Brachetto d'Acqui. The ripest and best Moscato grapes are used for Moscato d'Asti rather than Asti.
The Contero vineyards are situated in a perfect amphitheatre in the commune of Strevi, the heart of one of the best zones for Brachetto in Piemonte. The vines are superbly tended and produce fruit of stunning quality. They are located on steep hills with tufaceous-marl soils which contain layers of fertile clay. The vines are Guyot trained and planted at a density of 4,800 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand harvested into wooden boxes and the average yield is five tonnes per hectare.
The 2017 vintage saw a dry winter and freezing temperatures in April. The rest of spring and summer were very dry. Harvest started one week earlier than in 2016. Despite dry weather, which led to a 20% reduction in yield, the grapes were very healthy and rich in flavours and aromas.
The grapes were pressed gently and the must fermented on the skins at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The wine was drawn from the vat at an alcohol content of 5.5% and bottled under pressure for a light sparkle.
This wine is light cherry red in colour. The rich, persistent mousse accompanies bright aromas of roses and violets. The slightly sweet, aromatic palate has a typical bittersweet note on the finish.
Stéphane Aladame is one of the stars of the younger generation of French producers. Whereas many young winemakers inherit their estate, Stéphane began from scratch in 1992, at the age of 18. He completed his studies in Beaune before renting vineyards in Montagny, in the Côte Chalonnaise. The wines of Montagny can easily rival those from the more famous Côte de Beaune, which lies immediately to the north, and often at considerably better prices. Stéphane is also a bit of an anomaly in Montagny, as the village is dominated by cooperatives (at around 75%), with only 18 independent producers. Stéphane now cultivates eight hectares, with seven hectares situated in Montagny Premier Cru.
The vineyards are farmed organically and are harvested by hand. Stéphane vinifies the grapes in a small cellar under his house, while his wife Julie takes care of the administrative side of the domaine. The soils in Montagny are calcareous, as in Chablis, which gives a similar streak of steeliness to the wines.
Never has the phrase 'all's well that ends well' rung so true as in the case of the 2014 Burgundy vintage. Devastating hailstorms in June were followed by a cold and rainy August, where temperatures struggled to reach 20°C. These conditions meant that the threat of rot, under-ripe grapes and another low-yielding vintage hung over the growers. Just as all hope was fading, September was bathed in sunshine and rescued the 2014 vintage from the brink of disaster.
The grapes from a single vintage are picked by hand in open boxes and gently pressed immediately after, using a pneumatic press. The first fermentation is carried out in temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks. The wine is then bottled and put into their cellar and spends 15 to 18 months on lees. The 3g/L residual sugar results in an Extra Brut which is particularly crisp, yet balanced.
Aromas of white fruits with notes of acacia. On the palate, the Cremant is supple, attractive and dominated by peach flavours. It is fresh and crisp with good minerality and a long finish.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition expert review of French Cremant(s) (see blue link below).
The Dopff family has been winegrowers since 1574 and still manage the 70 hectare estate near the charming medieval town of Riquewihr. The vineyards are more than 300 metres above sea level, nestled in the foothills of the lower Vosges. As a family of pioneers, they were responsible for the use of the stemmed wine bottles, which today distinguish Alsace wines from other regions. In 1900, tenth generation Julien Dopff was so impressed by the Champagne tastings held in Paris' World Exhibition, he learnt the art of winemaking in Champagne for two years before returning to Alsace. After WW II Julien Dopff strongly believed that a Crémant made from local grape varieties and reflecting the terroir of Alsace should be produced and protected. In 1976, together with five other producers, he finally obtained official recognition for Crémant d'Alsace as an AOC.
The vineyard uses the Guyot training system with green harvest and meticulous canopy management to ensure good light penetration and air flow.
The grapes are gently crushed and pressing is limited to 100 litres of must per 150kg of grapes. The first fermentation is carried out in stainless steel and glass tanks, while the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, using the traditional Champagne method. The wine is aged for 18 months in bottle on its lees with automatic riddlings using gyropallets. This Crémant D'Alsace is mostly based on a single vintage, currently being 2012 crop.
Dry and elegant Crémant, showing hints of quince and white flowers, fine bubbles with good length and weight. Ideal as an apéritif or excellent white fish, sushi, oysters or fresh fruit.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The foundations for the success of the Graham Beck brand were laid in 1983 when the late Graham Beck purchased Madeba, a farm located outside the Western Cape town of Robertson. It was his ardent ambition to establish a world-class winery in this area that saw the erection of a state-of-the-art cellar. The cornerstones of the Beck family ethos were entrenched from the very start – contributing to the passion and dedication that continues to drive the entire team today. From grape to glass the entire process of producing a Graham Beck Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) relies on meticulous attention to detail, dedication to authenticity, precision timing and plenty of patience. At Graham Beck the team is passionate about the pursuit of the perfect bubble – a golden thread of excellence runs throughout the entire process and portfolio.
This wine comes from the purest grape juice and it alone allows Laurent-Perrier to craft ‘La Cuvée’, a champagne of great finesse and a beautiful freshness obtained after a long ageing process in their cellars. Laurent-Perrier’s style and personality are defined by its very high proportion of Chardonnay. Purity, freshness and elegance – essential characteristics, expressed in this champagne – are a good introduction to the spirit of the House.
In opting to blend its Brut champagne with a majority of Chardonnay, the rarest grape variety in the Champagne region, Laurent-Perrier was expressing its difference and asserting the signature ‘House’ style of freshness, lightness, and elegance. This has taken 15 years of extensive work on supply quality, steady progress regarding wine making and increased mastery of the art of blending.
This champagne is made using a majority of Chardonnay, over 50%, Pinot Noir, over 30% and is rounded off with Meunier, between 10 and 20%. Some of the wine that is used to make La Cuvée is reserve wine which ensures a perfect consistency in style. This blend of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée is made from more than 100 crus selected by Laurent-Perrier. La Cuvée benefits from ageing in the cellar. Its balance and freshness are enhanced by a light dosage.
This champagne is pale gold in colour. Fine bubbles feed a persistent mousse. A delicate nose with hints of fresh citrus and white flowers. Its complexity is expressed in successive notes like vine peach and white fruits notes. There is a perfect balance between freshness and delicacy with fruity flavours present on the finish.
This fresh and pure champagne is perfect as an apéritif. Its citrus and white fruits notes and its remarkable balance supported by a subtle effervescence, make it an ideal accompaniment to poultry and the finest fish.
Jean-Charles Boisset was born into a winemaking family in Burgundy. Today, he is the proprietor, along with his sister, Nathalie, and parents Jean-Claude and Claudine Boisset, of a collection of more than twenty great producers from the world's pre-eminent wine producing regions. Created by Jean-Charles, the innovative JCB Collection brings together two worlds of winemaking - Old and New. Each wine in the collection is a limited edition, and is "named" with a number. These numbers relate to a wine style that Jean-Charles strives to achieve vintage to vintage, while also symbolizing important ideas, passions and moments in his life and wine career. 'N° 21' because 21 is the French government's 'department' number for the Côte d'Or. Jean-Charles was born in 1969, the year that mankind went to the moon. And 69 represents unlimited expression, freedom, and refinement.
All the grapes were sourced from parcels located within the Burgundy AOC area: the Pinot Noir and Aligoté were grown in the Côte d'Or, the Gamay in the South of Burgundy and the Chardonnay from the Mâconnais.
This wine has been made according the traditional method. The second fermentation happened in bottle and the wine was aged for a minimum of 12 months on slats.
The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay shine through this Crémant. Pale and vibrant in colour, it offers a lovely fresh and fruity nose with almond and white flower aromas. It feels full and generous on the palate, it has a great harmony between acidity and fruit.
Lovely rose pink in colour, with fine bubbles and a light mousse. Perfumes of blackcurrant and strawberry follow through to a fine, ripe fruit on the palate, balanced by a freshness and clean finish with a lingering hint of strawberries.