Deep ruby red in colour with an aromatic nose, strongly reminiscent of fresh strawberries. The palate is richly soft, generously fruity and delightfully refreshing, offering ripe, concentrated red berry fruits such as cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, a fine, persistent mousse and a soft finish. Low acidity and very little tannin combine to create a deliciously fruit driven, thirst quenching wine.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).
The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750m above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes.
The grapes for the Bianchi Brut come from the Doña Elsa and Las Paredes vineyards, which are situated in the San Rafael zone of Mendoza at 730 to 790 metres above sea level.
The grapes for this sparking wine were vinified in the purpose-built, sparkling wine facility constructed by Bianchi outside San Rafael. The wine is made according to the 'Traditional Method' of sparkling wine production. The must is fermented between 16° and 18°C. After fermentation it is aged on its lees for a further 12 months before disgorgement and release.
Bianchi Brut is an excellent value sparkling wine with an intense biscuit and fruit character on the nose and good richness on the palate. Fresh and clean, it finishes dry.
The Perelada estate, an impressive fortress and palace that was previously owned by the Counts of Pereleda and a Carmelite monastery, was purchased in 1923 by Miguel Mateu, an active political and cultural ambassador of the time. Don Miguel revitalized the wine producing tradition of the estate records showed that there where vineyards planted in the Medieval period. He turned the estate into his own private cultural centre, building up the collections which would become the Castle museum which is today open to the public.
A blend of the three traditional Cava making grapes: Parellada (35%), Xarel·lo (45%), Macabeo (30%).
After primary fermentation, the wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 15 months before disgorging. Brilliant pale yellow colour with a generous stream of fine bubbles. The nose is clean and fruity with light yeasty notes from ageing. It is pleasantly bone dry, with a round and refreshing mouthfeel and nice flavour complexity.
See the link below for full details of the wine, in Parelada's own data sheet.
This is a fine Cava, and that offers markedly better quality than its price might indicate.
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.
Gobillard is located in the heart of Champagne just 5km from Epernay. The village of Hautvillers dominates the vineyard with its abbey, where the infamous Dom Pérignon is reported to have created the first champagne bubbles. Passion, dynamism and competence define this family business, from the work in the vineyard to marketing, each step is carried out with respect for the traditions of Champagne.
The grapes are pressed very gently and varieties are vinified separately off the skins to produce a low alcohol dry white wine which is racked and allowed to mature in tank until the spring. The lots are then blended together, using some reserve wines from earlier fine vintages. The resulting wine is then bottled with special "flocculent" yeasts and sugars and is refermented under a crown cap. There follows a period of ageing, when the yeasts flavour the wine and give it characteristic brioche aromas. Gobillard then opens the bottles ("dégorgement"), removing the yeast in the process, adds a dosage of grape sugars, inserts the characteristic mushroom cork, and ships the wine.
Much of the trick in buying Champagne lies in finding a good one without being taken for a ride pricewise, often by the draw of the big names. This Baron de Marck has a beautiful and pure fruit character as well as a hint of brioche, giving it a soft rounded flavour. This is a Champagne which is perfect as an aperitif or with canapés and nibbles or with lighter dishes. Great Champagne, great price.
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.
For a full description of this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Gusbourne themselves (click blue link below).
Bright gold in colour, this blend highlights red fruit aromas of cherry and strawberry, which then develop into attractive fresh pastry notes with a touch of cinnamon and spice. With a bright streak of citrus fruit, the palate is clean and fresh whilst giving tones of soft stone fruit and a long, refreshing finish. It is the flexible partner for contemporary and classic English food pairings; from seared scallops and smoked eels to fish & chips (seriously: try it!)
This winery changed hands in May 2016, with one family company, Brown Brothers, taking it off the hands of another, its founder, Phil Sexton. So associated is Innocent Bystander with the Yarra Valley that the new owners made the intelligent decision to build a new winery in Healesville, just across the parking lot from Giant Steps. They quickly signed contracts with all the grape growers that Phil used for Innocent Bystander, so that the style of the wines remains unchanged. This regional and varietal style, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley is the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built.
The fruit for the Moscato was sourced from a number of vineyard sites across the Swan Hill region of North West Victoria. Soils here are predominantly calcareous sandy loam. The wine is a blend of three different types of the Muscat grape: Muscat of Alexandria, Black Muscat and Red Frontignac (one of the many clones of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains).
The 2018 season started off relatively dry with below average rainfall coming into budburst. October was quite cool, and the vines grew quite slowly. From November, there was a distinct change in the weather with an increase in heat and subsequent rapid growth. Great weather with warm and sunny days led to a fast and uniform flowering from mid-November. High fruit set and larger berries led to very high bunch weights.
Harvested in the cool of the night, the fruit was chilled and crushed with six hours skin contact to extract a vibrant hint of pink from the Black Muscat grapes. The juice then underwent a cool fermentation in pressurised stainless steel vats to retain the freshness and to trap the natural effervescence. Fermentation was stopped at 5.5% alcohol by chilling the wine before it was then bottled under pressure.
Vivid pink in colour, this highly aromatic wine has notes of blackcurrant, Turkish delight, mandarin peel and a hint of candy floss. The palate is rich and fruity with balanced residual sugar, a cleansing natural acidity and a spritzy finish.
The Cuvée Rosé Laurent-Perrier bottle, with its generous, curvaceous lines, is unique – an invitation to self-indulgence.
When Bernard de Nonancourt launched Cuvée Rosé Laurent-Perrier in 1968, he decided to present his creation in a uniquely distinctive bottle to magnify this very special cuvée. He found his inspiration in the rather stubby bottles manufactured in the time of King Henri IV, adding the seal-like monogrammed ‘LP’ shield. The packaging, which seemed very modern at the time, has gradually evolved since 1968.
The grapes for Laurent Perrier Rose come from 10 different crus located mainly in the South and North areas of the Montagne de Reims – including the famous Côte de Bouzy – notably from the finest crus of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvois and Tours-sur-Marne.
The grapes from carefully selected plots are sorted and destemmed before vatting. The maceration – lasting from 48h to 72h depending on the harvest – helps the extraction of the colour and the development of the full aromatic richness of the Pinot Noir. It is aged for a minimum of 5 years.
Elegant, with colour changing naturally from a pretty raspberry hue to salmon-pink. A precise nose of extraordinary freshness and a wide range of red fruits: raspberry, redcurrant, strawberry, black cherry. A fresh and sharp attack for this supple and rounded wine. On the palate, it offers the sensation of plunging into a basket of freshly picked red berries.
Its aromatic depth makes it ideal for pairing with marinated raw fish, grilled prawns, exotic dishes, Parma ham and red fruit desserts. Those who are more daring will try it with Asian or Indian cuisine.
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.
Peter Lehmann, with 33 vintages already under his belt, started his own winery in 1979, partly as a means of helping with the glut of grapes then afflicting the Barossa. "I'll take your grapes and turn them into wine," he told the desperate growers, many of them conservative farmers of Silesian descent who regarded their old vines as part of their patrimony. "But I'll only be able to pay you when I sell the wine." They gratefully accepted. Without this deal, it is widely thought that the Barossa would have lost a huge chunk of its old vines. The 'Masters' wines are made from the parcels regarded by the winemakers as the best Semillon, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz of the vintage.
Peter Lehmann Wines works with over 140 growers across the length and breadth of the Barossa Valley region, with access to over 750 individual vineyard sites. The Black Queen is made from Shiraz grown on old, low-yielding vines in premium vineyards in the Moppa and Light Pass districts.
The 2012 vintage was characterised by a warm spring and a relatively cool summer. Vine health was very good coming out of spring and combined with only three rain events over the summer, resulted in some high quality fruit. The reds are beautifully balanced with great colour and varietal definition.
The grapes were fermented on their skins for a week to 10 days, pressed, clarified and then matured for 12 months in French oak hogsheads. The base wine was then bottle-fermented and aged on its lees for two years.
Beautifully deep in colour with a persistent fine bead. The bouquet shows hints of satsuma, plum and black cherry leading to an explosion of dark exotic fruits on the palate. A very special sparkling red for times of celebration.
Awarded 98 points and ultra-rare Exceptional status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2017 edition review of Grower Champagne (see blue links below).
This is quite some Champagne and remarkable for the price. The varietal mix is equal thirds of the classic trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Grapes are grown only on vineyards of Premier Cru villages (you'd easily clear £30 a bottle for this privilege normally) on the Coteaux de Cumières and Hautvillers in the Marne Valley, yielding great intensity and concentration.
One expects exhilarating acidity and and citrus zing in almost any Champagne - this does these in spades - but what makes it really stand out are both the ripeness of fruit flavours and the delicate florality of the nose. Pierre Bertrand see that fruitiness as “damson and pear” while we at Exel thought more “peach and nectarine”; either way, this is one seriously fruity mouthful. Florally, the makers go with “hawthorn flower” and we are not botanically inclined to disagree. At 7g/l of dosage/residual sugar, this is a drier Brut, but the fruit ripeness adds an exciting extra sensation of sweetness. Finally, Pierre Bertrand are rightly proud of their mousse onctueuse – smooth mousse – and we concur: it makes for a truly delicious Champagne experience.
Bright, pale straw with lime hints. Floral and white fruit aromas, like ripe apple, pear and melon with fine hints of brioche and anise. Velvety texture with fine and persistent bubbles.
Champagne Ayala is one of the longest-established champagne houses; it has been based in Aÿ, at the heart of the great champagne vineyards, since it was founded over 150 years ago. Independent and family-owned, it is still today the archetype of a great and historic house, producing top quality wines which are enjoyed around the world for their freshness and elegance. In 2005 the Bollinger family bought this fine estate, with the intention of restoring it to its former glory. This was the start of a resurgence for Champagne Ayala, with complete restoration of winemaking facilities and the arrival of new staff. They now employ around 15 people, keeping the family spirit of its origins.
Brut Nature, cellar-aged for almost 4 years, demonstrates to perfection the high quality of grapes used by the House to craft its wines, and its remarkable expertise in vinification. Being “non dosé”, its purity and precision make it an ideal partner for seafood, in particular raw fish and shellfish, or oysters.
Ayala Brute Nature is bright gold, with a silver hue. The aromas are marked by precision and notes of citrus fruit with a saline component. The palate is both complex and clean. It delivers dry, mineral notes, along with flavours of grapefruit and white fruits. Brut Nature is the perfect match for oysters, raw fish and shellfish, sea urchin and caviar. It is also ideally suited to Thai cuisine or sushi, maki and sashimi.