The 2015 vintage was awarded 95 points and an Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Northern Rhone 2015 (see blue link below).
The François family have been traditional farmers for four generations - their main activity is making farmhouse cheeses from the milk from their twenty-five cows, which they sell at local markets across the Rhône Valley. They began bottling their own Côte-Rôtie in 1991, expanding it further when their son Yoann joined the business in 2004. Today, the François family owns four hectares in Côte-Rôtie. Grapes from the young vines are sold to 'négociants' or are used for their earlier drinking IGP Syrah. Only the best and most expressive grapes are used to make their Côte-Rôtie.
The François family owns approximately four hectares of vines. Its Côte-Rôtie is made using grapes from three South facing parcels: 'Les Rochains', 'Rozier' and 'Le Bourrier' which account for about 1.5 hectares. All three vineyards are located in the 'Côte Brune' in the Northern Rhône. The vineyards are very steep, as they usually are in this area, and grapes can only be harvested by hand. The soil, mainly composed of mica-schist, is rich in minerals and has proven a good base for the 30-year-old vines of Syrah and Viognier. The vines are planted at a density of 8,000 to 9,000 per hectare and yields are 35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare.
Parcels were vinified separately and then blended to make a wine with great balance and layers of complexity. Both batches were aged for 18 months in 30% new oak barrels (228 litre and 400 litre), before the wine was blended just prior to bottling. In the Côte-Rôtie tradition, it was made with 5% Viognier and leaving around 30% of the stems on the Syrah.
This wine is made using Syrah 95%, Viognier 5%.
Superbly concentrated with aromas of blackcurrants, brambles and blackberries and a delicious jammy character. It is well structured with richness and good density. Spices linger on the long finish.
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.
** ONLY AT EXEL WINES!! **
Awarded a Platinum Medal and 97 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
For a full description of this wine, we would direct you to the data sheet/fiche technique from Château Castera themselves (click blue link below).
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Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) (see blue link below).
Since the early 19th Century, Paul Jaboulet Ainé has been synonymous with quality wine in the Rhône Valley. Jaboulet’s Hermitages - white and red - and most of their upper wines - are the stuff of legend. The famous Rhone winery was bought by the Frey family in 2006. The Freys, owners of Chateau la Lagune in Bordeaux, saw the potential of the vineyards. They brought renewed energy to this corner of France and to one of its greatest names.
The Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, as the Oxford Companion to Wine describes it, remains the "appellation's principal standard bearer". It has long been seen as having the quality of nearby Hermitage, particularly in good vintages, at only a small fraction of the price. See this link for an excellent guided tasting of the 2012 vintage by one of the world's leading sommeliers.
The Crozes-Hermitage vineyard is the largest of all the northern Rhône Valley appellations. It extends over 11 communes situated in the Drôme, on the left bank of the Rhône. Domaine de Thalabert has belonged to the Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné since 1834. It is situated on the plain, and is the oldest in the appellation.
This estate of around 40 ha lies on a pebbly plain that is glacial in origin. The small, round pebbles store heat during the day and release it at night, providing optimum ripening of the Syrah grapes Average vine age is an impressive 40 to 60 years.
100% Syrah. The grapes from the Thalabert estate are carefully sorted then meticulously vinified using traditional methods. Traditionally aged in wood for 12 months in Jaboulet's ancient VINEUM cellar.
Deep ruby and bright. Intense, complex and aromatic with a blend of red berries and animal notes. Powerful and fine; noble tannins; full, well-balanced finish.
See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.
** CURRENTLY UK-EXCLUSIVE TO EXEL AND OFFERED FOR THE FIRST TIME HERE **
** THIS IS A PRE-ORDER ITEM. PLEASE CONTACT US TO DISCUSS A POSSIBLE ORDER. **
"Fragrant and feminine with aromas of sweet mandarin and red apple, some florals rose layers and fresh wet rock soil ideas. Dry on the palate with vibrant acidity then flavours of citrus – both lime and lemon, some barley sugar and apples. Wild flowers and honeysuckle, long finish, a great aperitif and very tasty wine. Drink now and through 2030".
94 Points, Cameron Douglas MW
"Bright, very pale straw-yellow colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is fresh with taut and finely concentrated, bright aromas of lime fruit with subtle notes of white florals, honeysuckle and suggestions of toasty nuances. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, the palate is tightly bound with an elegantly concentrated core of lime fruit, white florals and minerals with suggestions of honey and toast, The palate is crisp with a fine-textured line of fruit extract and phenolics, with underlying thirst-quenching acidity. The wine has very good linearity and carries to a long, lingering, soft-textured, dry finish. This is a taut and finely concentrated dry Riesling with lime, floral and mouthwatering mineral flavours on a dry, textural palate with good linearity. Serve as an aperitif and with shellfish over the next 4-5 years. Hand-picked fruit, WBP and cool-fermented to 12.0% alc. and 6.0 g/L RS, TA 8.2 g/L and pH 3.0. Certified BioGro organic".
18.0+/20, Raymond Chan, Dec 2017
Proudly family-owned, Urlar Estate produces outstanding single vineyard wines using organic and biodynamic principles. Urlar is a Gaelic word that means “the Earth”. Their desire is to bring an abundance of life back to our ancient soils so that the drinker can discover the purity of flavour inherent in the land. Their journey from the highlands of Scotland to the stony soils and cool climate of Gladstone, Wairarapa has cemented a love for all things pure and true.
Only some 175 cases of this are made each year!
In the vineyard, in keeping with traditional techniques, the grapes were hand harvested with each bunch passing over a sorting table to ensure only the ripest of bunches were selected. The bunches were then gently pressed to avoid unattractive phenolics.
In the cellar, aromatic (German) yeasts - together with low fermentation temperatures - ensured the uniqueness of flavours from the site were captured. After a period on its lees (for 5 months) to add mid-palate weight and texture the wine was carefully filtered for bottling.
In homage to its stony origins, this dry styled Riesling has an underlying mineral thread throughout. Aromas include lime zest, granny smith apples and citrus which combine beautifully with a rich palate texture. A tight mineral thread runs the length of the palate making it delicious to drink now although cellaring for five years or more will be richly rewarded. It stands up well to lightly spiced tapas, Asian food and handles strong cheeses well.
Residual sugar is around 6-7g/litre - so on the cusp between dry and off-dry.