Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition panel tasting of "Alternative" New Zealand Whites (not Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) (see blue link below)...
... and comments from two of the reviewers...
Burn Cottage refers to the name of a road on which the 24 hectare property sits in Central Otago. The estate was once a sheep paddock until its purchase by Marquis Sauvage in 2002. Marquis brought on board Ted Lemon of Littorai as their winemaker and in 2003, they started planting Pinot Noir. Six years later, they released their first wine.
The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner vines account for just over one hectare of total plantings at Burn Cottage, the only part of the vineyard which is not planted with Pinot Noir. At the time of planting back in 2007, the aspect of this particular plot did not suit Pinot Noir, so they decided to plant these two aromatic white varieties instead. The first crop was harvested in 2014. As with the Pinot Noir, the vines have been cultivated biodynamically from day one, Ted Lemon’s one stipulation for his involvement.
Less rain during winter and a very windy October meant vine growth started off slowly. Some frost fighting was required, however, no damage was sustained. The weather warmed considerably to above average temperatures throughout spring enabling healthy vine growth and a favourably short flowering. Central Otago had fantastic summer weather and very warm nights at times, so the season quickly caught up to normal timing and maturity progressed well. Cooler periods in February did not change the overall flow of the season and harvest took place at the usual time during March and April 2015.
The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner were harvested separately at different times and were subsequently crushed, pressed and fermented separately. The Riesling was crushed by foot to soak the berries in juice. The Grüner Veltliner underwent the same methods of production but spent only 48 hours in contact with the skins. Static settling took place overnight and the wines were racked off the gross lees. The wines were fermented in stainless steel vats and rested in old oak barriques for 11 months.
The Grüner Veltliner component in the blend offers attractive aromas of beeswax and white pepper coupled with a zesty lime flower, chamomile and lemon curd from the Riesling. The wine is rich on the palate but is well-balanced with bright acidity. The finish has a lovely energy and lingers on the palate.
The 2015 vintage of this wine was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition regional profile of Lugana (in Veneto) (see blue link below)
The Dal Cero family has transformed their Cà dei Frati property, situated on the southern shores of Lake Garda, into a model Italian estate over the past two decades. Back in 1987, they had 12 hectares of vineyard but now, following the purchase of a large chunk of prime vineyard in 2008, they have over 160 hectares. This increase in quantity has been matched by an increase in quality and today they remain the best producer in Lugana.
The secret to the success of the Ca' dei Frati wines is the outstanding vineyards. Most producers in the zone crop at high levels and train the vines high. At Ca' dei Frati, the vines are trained low, newer vineyards have a higher density of planting and yields are well below the average for the area. All grapes are grown in Ca' dei Frati's own vineyards, which are located on the south banks of Lake Garda, near the town of Sirmione. The vines from which 'Brolettino' is made were planted in 1971, with clay soils. The training system is single and double Guyot and the yield is nine tonnes per hectare.
2016 saw a hot and dry summer in Lombardy. A cool spring with some rainfall was followed by a hot June and July. Large shifts between day and night time temperatures throughout August helped to balance grape ripening and produce healthy, ripe grapes with refreshing acidity.
Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks after which the wine was transferred to small 225 litre barriques for 10 months. Malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place in a selected number of barrels. The wine then aged in bottle for three months before release.
Pale golden in colour, this wine opens with aromas of stone fruits and a touch of vanilla spice from the oak ageing. The palate has rich peach characters, with a creamy, honeyed texture lifted by stony minerality. Intense and concentrated through to the fresh finish.
The Dal Cero family has transformed their Cà dei Frati property, situated on the southern shores of Lake Garda, into a model Italian estate over the past two decades. Back in 1987, they had 12 hectares of vineyard but now, following the purchase of a large chunk of prime vineyard in 2008, they have over 140 hectares. This increase in quantity has been matched by an increase in quality, and today they remain the best producer in Lugana. The quality of the wines is attributable directly to Igino Dal Cero's obsession with detail. All their fruit is picked by hand; he ensures there is no skin contact as he wants to retain delicate perfumes and enhance the supple texture; he has changed his mind on malolactic fermentation and now inhibits it in order to give the wine the lift he feels it benefits from; and he is now convinced that ageing on lees from end of fermentation gives him greater richness on the palate and the wonderful flintiness on nose that makes this wine so Burgundian in character.
The winemakers at Ca dei Frati have produced an excellent tasting note for this wine. Please click the blue link below to see this.
Awarded 91 and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 article on Soave (see blue link below).
The family business has been handed down through the generations of the Tessari family since the early 1900s. The estate was renamed Ca'Rugate in 1986, taking its name from the volcanic hills where the vineyards are located. Now run by the fourth generation, Michele has brought with him a lively, passionate and entrepreneurial spirit. Considerable expansion has taken place in recent years with investment in a new technologically advanced cellar and expansion into the Valpolicella area with the purchase of vineyards in the hilly zone of Montecchia di Crosara. Ca'Rugate has been awarded the prestigious 'Tre Bicchieri' award rating from Gambero Rosso multiple times, making it one of the most awarded producers in the competition and has been hailed by the New York Times as one of the "Top Five producers of high end Soave".
The grapes come from the Monte Fiorentine vineyard in Brognoligo di Monteforte d'Alpone and are harvested at optimum maturity in the middle of October. The yields are 90-100 quintals per hectare. The vineyard soils are volcanic and rich in minerals, imparting a certain minerality to the final wine.
Fermented in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 16 to 18°C for approximately 10 to 15 days, maintaining the freshness and aromatic qualities of the Garganega grapes.
Rich and golden in colour, a wonderful example of a Soave Classico, with beautiful layering of exotic, tropical fruits and a touch of minerality. Full and rich in flavour, this is a structured wine with a fresh, mineral finish. This wine is best enjoyed chilled, to accompany full flavoured dishes in creamy sauces, fish, soups and young cheeses.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The estate was founded in 1980 by Alain Caïlbourdin and today it has of 20 hectares (approximately 40 acres) of vines planted in some of the best Pouilly-Fumé slopes. About half of the vines are "vieilles vignes" or old vines; the other half are vines planted after 1980. Grapes grown on the different slopes are vinified separately, thus permitting the production of four different cuvees, each of which represents a distinctive terroir and aromatic expression. Their constant quest for quality is evident throughout the entire winemaking process, from the vineyard to the cellar.
A wine can only be great if it has the mineral support of a quality terroir. The art of the winemaking profession consists of giving the grapes all the possible chances to reveal their qualities.
After the grapes have been picked, they undergo immediate pressing with a pneumatic press, with no pre-fermentation maceration. There is static racking of the must. Fermentation using indigenous yeasts to highlight the qualities of our terroir is done at controlled temperatures. There is no malolactic fermentation in order to preserve this wine's freshness. It then spends a long time maturing in tanks on its fine lees. It is bottled the year following the harvest.
The special terroir of this plateau (a mixture of silica sand and limestone), brings a vivacity to the Cuvée de Boisfleury and a freshness that is fantastic in this wine when young. Its aromas are very expressive and are essentially fruity with citrus (grapefruit), passion fruit, and floral (rose petals and white flowers). This young vineyard bestows Cuvée de Boisfleury with a light structure that marries easily with many meals: fish and seafood of course, but it is equally delicious with white meats and certain cured meats and also makes a delightful aperitif. Cuvée de Boisfleury is an easy to drink Pouilly-Fumé, fruity, elegant and beautifully delicate.
Light, elegant soft fruit nose. Fine citrus and herbaceous notes. Pure acidity holds the wine together very well and the finish is precise and long. An incredible clean, fresh and impressively well balanced Pouilly Fume.
The Cantina di Monteforte co-op is situated in the eastern part of Soave Classico and Soave. They have 1,200 hectares in total, part in Soave Classico and part outside the Classico zone, with some of the best vineyards in Soave Classico. 60% of their vineyards are on the hills, facing south and southeast, which gives wines that are riper and fuller than most others produced in Soave. The co-op has 600 members and harvests about 20,000 tonnes of grapes a year. Cool summer breezes blowing down the Alpone Valley from the foothills of the Dolomites to the north give warm days and cool nights, which helps with the accumulation of aromatic characters in the grapes. Matt Thomson works with Gaetano Tobin at the Cantina to produce these wines.
The grapes for this single vineyard wine are grown in the ’Montegrande’ vineyard, a south/southeast facing hillside site with superb exposure where vines are on average more than 30 years old. The vineyard is situated 250-300 metres above sea level and soils are volcanic in origin. This site produces wines that are riper and fuller than most others produced in Soave Classico.
The 2016 season was similar to 2015, characterised by a cool winter with abundant rainfall. The beginning of vegetative activity was accompanied by alternating dry and rainy periods allowing for perfect vine development. The hot and dry summer led to an abundant harvest with healthy grapes of great quality.
The wine was made using small-batch vinification in mid-October. The grapes were pressed gently using special presses. The must was fermented in small barrels as well as 15 hectolitre barrels, where the wine remained for approximately one year until bottling.
Pale gold in colour, this wine opens with a fresh, scented nose that shows hints of white fruit and the characteristic almond blossom notes of a top quality Soave. Honeyed, waxy and complex on the palate, with a lovely citrus twist on the finish, it is well balanced and long.
This is one of the most exciting wineries to come out of Sardinia in two decades. It is the brainchild of Gavino Sanna, a Sardinian who has lived in Milan for the past 50 years, where he built up one of Italy's most successful advertising agencies. On a whim, he decided to sell the agency and seek new challenges. One of these challenges was the creation of a winery in Sulcis in southwestern Sardinia. As might be expected from someone with Sanna's background, the labels are striking. He has also ensured that the contents are equally striking. Stefano Cova, a young winemaker from Trentino, took over with the 2008 vintage, improving on already high levels of quality.
The wine is made from grapes from some of the best areas of Sardinia. The climate across the whole island is Mediterranean with low rainfall and frequent north-westerly winds. Soils are very heterogeneous with some being a mixture of sandy and chalky clay, while others have varying proportions of rocky and schistous components. Moderate nutrient levels and good levels of minerals add a distinctive character to the resulting wines. The vines are trained using the espalier method and spur-cordon pruned, with yields around 45 hectolitres per hectare.
Severe frosts in the winter, followed by drought and heatwaves topping 40°C in the summer, meant that Sardinia experienced one of the smallest harvests on record in 2017, 45% less than 2016.
The grapes were gently pressed. One parcel underwent a low-temperature maceration for 10-12 hours. The must was fermented at 12-14°C. After clarification and stabilisation, the wine matured briefly in stainless steel tanks and then for a minimum of two months in bottle before release.
This wine is clear, pale straw in colour. The bouquet is both intense and delicate, with emphatic fragrances of citrus and bergamot, floral essences of roses, and pungent rosemary. The palate is crisp, dry and savoury, with a lovely delicacy and a finesse that continues throughout the long finish.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 93 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 Italy supplement article, My Dozen Dream Whites (see blue link below).
Cantina Tramin was founded in 1898 and has 310 member winegrowers who follow its strict directives on the cultivation of the vines. The vineyards are an integral part of the enchanting and picturesque landscape of the Alto-Adige region of Northern Italy and cover 260 hectares situated on the sunny slopes of the region at altitudes ranging from 250 to 850 metres above sea level. In 2011, Cantina Tramin gained the "Double Stella" award. This is given to a winery for achieving the prestigious 3 Bicchieri 20 times and is awarded by the Gambero Rosso.
The grapes are grown in a few select vineyards above the town of Tramin. The vines are trained to both the traditional Pergola system as well as the modern Guyot system and are 20 years old. The soil type is clay.
The grapes were crushed and briefly macerated to extract the aromatic characteristics of the grape. After pressing, the must was left to ferment at 18°C to 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine rested on the fine lees for 11 months, until bottled.
One of Italy's most awarded and elegant wines with intense aromas of rose petal, cinnamon and ripe tropical fruit with a touch of spice. Rich, with a full bodied texture and a balancing acidity which leads to a long, sustained and elegant finish.
A versatile wine which accompanies pork chops, veal and rich poultry dishes or Thai inspired cuisine.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Margaret River (Australia) (see blue link below).
Cape Mentelle takes a minimal approach towards this classic Margaret River blend. The aim is to preserve as much fruit intensity and regional character as possible, whilst providing a full flavoured distinctive white wine. The style accentuates the fresh fruit characters of both varieties with the added complexity and palate weight offered by a small portion of barrel fermentation.
The fruit comes from the perfectly suited cooler southern half of the Margaret River region, from their three vineyards of the Wallcliffe-Trinders, Crossroads and Chapman Brook. The typical soils of these vineyards are geologically ancient, free draining, sandy loams with a high percentage of lateritic gravel. The vines are vertically trained, spur or cane pruned and canopy manipulations are frequent to allow good air flow and dappled sunlight on the fruit.
When harvesting Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon the emphasis is placed on capturing vibrant fresh flavours with clean acidity. Fruit is harvested at night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Extended fermentation takes place at very low temperature in stainless steel tanks with about 8% of the blend fermented in new oak barriques. The 2016 blend was assembled after four months on lees; the team decided to preserve the exceptional vinosity and perfect texture by bottling the wine unfined in July 2016.
The nose on this wine has varietal Sauvignon notes revolving around cassis buds, juniper berries and cracked black pepper. It then opens to complex fruit ranging from zesty white grapefruit to hints of lychees, lifted by ethereal floral notes of jasmine and passion fruit flower. The palate is juicy clean, slightly saline, on notes of passionfruit and citrus. The fresh pithy acidity and mineral character, reminiscent of fine absinthe, fresh ginger and gentian bitters give the wine a lot of vinosity and personality, well balanced by the honey notes and creamy texture of the Semillon and showing exceptional length.
This wine goes well with crab cakes, fresh oysters au naturel and warm bruschetta with fresh buffalo mozzarella amongst many other dishes. Because of the wine's strong personality, it will allow a bold marriage with cheeses, especially well-aged, slightly crystallized ones such as a mature Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of New Zealand Chardonnay (see blue link below).
It’s 20 years now since Steve and Barbara Green established the first of Carrick’s vineyard plantings on the Cairnmuir terraces at Bannockburn in Central Otago, extending the estate four years later. What was at the time a tangle of wild thyme and briar roses has become one of the region’s most successful producers. Francis Hutt wisely spent a year in the vineyards with viticulturist Blair Deaker before taking over as Carrick’s winemaker in 2011. A devotee of organic and biodynamic wines, he took particular pride in taking charge of Carrick’s first organic bottlings in 2012. Meanwhile, Steve Green somehow combines the roles of owner, general manager, assistant winemaker, marketer and overseas traveller with a position on the board of Wine New Zealand.
After gentle whole-bunch pressing, the chardonnay juice was gravity feed into French oak barrels, (10% new) with a high grape solids content to add interest and texture. All lots were fermented with indigenous yeast and the barrels were stirred daily during fermentation then left to rest and settle over the winter months.
Tropical fruits along with the cool climate attributes of Central Otago combine to make a truly amazing Chardonnay that could rival anything else in the world. It is a flinty elegant wine with good structure and balance. Barrel fermented in French oak.
Perfect with seafood and white meat dishes like chicken pie, prawn linguine and dover sole.
The earlier 2015 vintage was awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2017 edition review of Douro Table Wines (see blue link below). It is subjective, of course, but we judge the 2017 to be of at least a very similar quality.
This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. It has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luis Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.
This white blend comes from relatively high-altitude vineyards above the river Douro. The grapes were harvested by hand in the highlands and plateaus of the region and were selected for their balance between phenolic maturity and excellent freshness. The soil in the Douro Valley is schistous; a slate-like metamorphic rock that is rich in nutrients and has useful water retention properties.
2017 was a very warm and dry year for the Douro with almost every month from December 2016 to August 2017 recording below average rainfall. Average temperatures were much higher than normal, especially in the crucial spring months of March, April, and May. This meant that the vine’s growing cycle was much more advanced than usual, often being one or two weeks ahead of the expected schedule. The advanced maturation of the vines and grapes coupled with heatwaves in June and July meant that the 2017 harvest was destined to be one of the earliest ever recorded. Harvest began in the last week of August and finished in most areas by the end of September, a time when most harvests usually begin.
On arrival at the winery of Casa Ferreirinha in Vila Real, the grapes were destemmed and softly crushed. They were pressed and the must clarified by static decanting at low temperatures. This was followed by a long alcoholic fermentation at controlled temperatures between 16ºC-18ºC. After fermentation, around 20% of the wine was aged in used casks for three months, the remainder held in stainless steel tanks.
This wine is made using Viosinho 25%, Malvasia 20%, Fina Arinto/Pedernã 15%, Códega 15%, Gouveio (Verdelho) 15%, Moscatel 5%, Rabigato 5%.
This wine is lemon yellow in colour with golden lights. On the nose, intense floral notes stand out with hints of tropical fruit and earthy, slightly shrubby tones. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with a lively and well-integrated acidity, alongside floral notes and touches of white peaches. The finish is long and fragrant.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their June 2017 edition review of Duoro Table Wines (see blue link below).
This producer, founded in 1952, is named after the legendary Porto matriarch Dona Antónia Ferreira. Affectionately nicknamed 'Ferreirinha' by her countrymen, the house pays homage to her memory and was the first house in the region dedicated to making light wines. Purchased by Sogrape in 1987, it has 520 hectares of vineyard in the Douro in all of its three sub-regions: Lower Corgo, Upper Corgo and Douro Superior. The winemaking is headed up by Luís Sottomayor, who restrains the Douro’s natural exuberance to produce wines that have a freshness, like Esteva and Papa Figos, allied to a lovely depth and texture, as with Vinha Grande Tinto and Quinta da Leda.
The selected grape varieties were sourced from the Quinta do Sairrão estate located at a high altitude in the Cima Corgo region. The mountainous vineyards here have schistous soils with vines planted either in vertical rows or on traditional "patamares" (terraces). The selected plots are ideal for optimal maturation thanks to the hot days and cool evenings bringing out the fresh fruit character of the grapes.
The 2016 season experienced a dry and mild winter. Strong and persistent rainfall from the end of winter continued into spring, accompanied by periods of low temperatures. These factors affected flowering in lower-level zones, with high rainfall reducing the quantity of grapes produced. Summer was mild, with some spikes in temperature, and nights were generally cool. These conditions contributed to a long and balanced maturation, giving high quality fruit.
The grapes were hand-picked and selected in the vineyard and on arrival at the estate's own winery. They were then destemmed and gently crushed in a pneumatic press. Vinification took place with skin maceration in order to extract the right aromatic qualities. The must was gently pressed and transferred to stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels at controlled temperatures of 14ºC-18ºC. The wine was subject to bâtonnage and following completion of fermentation, was matured for eight months.
This wine was made using Viosinho 45%, Arinto/Pedernã 30%, Gouveio (Verdelho) 10%, Rabigato 10%, Códega 5%.
This wine is golden in colour with an intense aroma of white peaches and tropical fruit. Floral notes, subtle minerality and well-integrated oak. On the palate, this wine is full-bodied with a lively acidity and good length on the finish.
The 2016 vintage was Awarded 87 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2018 edition review of Vernaccia di San Gimignano (see blue link below).
Cecchi's success all began back in 1893, when company founder Luigi Cecchi became a professional wine taster or ''palatista'' – a surprisingly widespread profession in Europe at the time, and one which paved the way for the bottling of the first wines under the family name. The international success of the Cecchi wines was secured under another Luigi – the founder’s grandson – and now the fourth generation, in the shape of brothers Andrea and Cesare Cecchi, are at the helm.
The grapes were vinified off their skins, undergoing a cold, temperature controlled, pre-fermentative maceration. The 15 day fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at a cool 15°C. After fermentation, the wine was aged for a period of at least 3 months in the bottle.
This wine is an aromatically rich wine, with fine, floral scents and hints of bitter almond. Exquisitely balanced by crisp, citrus freshness and a beguiling perfume.