"We are committed to showcasing know-how and talent by bringing together the new generation with centuries-old Burgundian traditions. Wood, a never-ending source of inspiration, is a part of all of the steps that go into the crafting of our wines."
Located in the heart of the Côte de Beaune, Meursault is one of the flagship villages and among the most reputed in Burgundy. In fact, Meursault is often referred to as the capital of Burgundy’s great whites.
The grapes are handpicked and fermentation takes place in oak barrels (35% of which are new) for between 3 weeks and 2 months. The wine is then aged in oak (20% new barrels) for 12 to 15 months.
This white Meursault is bright, luminous straw yellow in colour. The nose boasts a discrete touch of toast followed by elegant floral notes underpinned by fruity, light plum and pear aromas. The palate is powerful, well balanced and dense, with delicious flavours of brioche. The finish is long and very aromatic. This is ideal with fine fish, shellfish, white meats, poultry in sauce and full-flavoured cheeses.
The Cervaro name derives from the noble family which owned Castello della Sala during the 15th century, the Monaldeschi della Cervara. The Antinori family purchased the estate in 1940. The first vintage of Cervaro della Sala to be produced was the 1985, marketed in 1987.
The 2016 vintage was characterized by a winter with frequent rainfall and by repeated and significant drops in temperature; the spring which followed was not particularly mild in its weather as well. The frequent but not particularly abundant rains between late April and mid-June, despite the important lowering of temperatures during the first ten days of May, favored the early and vigorous growth of the Chardonnay and Grechetto vine vegetation. This slightly precocious beginning of the vineyard’s cycle of growth gradually came back into balance during the month of July. A warm summer with positive temperature swings from daytime heat to evening and nighttime coolness assisted in the development of the aromatic components of the two grape varieties. The picking of the Chardonnay began during the last ten days of August and was followed by the Grechetto harvest, as usual two weeks later in time and which terminated in mid-September.
The grapes were picked during the earliest hours of the morning in order to assure that the grapes which reached the cellars were entirely whole and healthy, not stressed by high daytime temperatures. The attention given to the crop continues in the cellar thanks to the special design of the structure, conceived to take advantage of the force of gravity, avoiding mechanical intervention on the grapes and the must. After a brief four hour period of skin contact at 50° Fahrenheit (10° centigrade) the must went into stainless steel tanks before going into oak barrels. Both the primary and the malolactic fermentation took place in barrel. After approximately three months the Chardonnay went back into the stainless steel tanks to be blended with Grechetto (which had been fermented separately in stainless steel). After bottling, the wine was aged in bottle for several months in the historic cellars of the Castello della Sala before commercial release.
The wine, a light straw yellow with brief greenish highlights, expresses rich, complex, and intense aromas. The notes of citrus fruit, pears, and acacia flowers are in perfect balance with the sweet and spicy notes of vanilla. The palate is supple but vibrant, elegant and well structured, characterized by the classic mineral sensations and by the light notes of hazelnut butter.
Ata Rangi is owned and run by Clive Paton and his wife Phyll, together with Clive's sister Alison and winemaker Helen Masters. Clive planted the bare, stony five hectare home paddock at the edge of Martinborough in 1980 and, in doing so, was one of a handful of people who pioneered grape growing in the area. Renowned for their Pinot Noir, which is consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best, Ata Rangi also produces a range of white wines including Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Ata Rangi vineyards are situated in Wairarapa, just north of Wellington. Craighall is located directly opposite the main Ata Rangi home block. The 30 year old Mendoza clone of Chardonnay vines, with their characteristic 'hen and chicken' fruit set, are always low yielding. Soils here comprise a thin layer of well-drained alluvial soil deposited on what was the original course of the river as it flowed east to the Pacific Ocean.
Hand-picked fruit was whole bunch pressed in a Willmes membrane press. Unsettled juice was fully barrel-fermented in Burgundy barriques, of which 25% was new oak, using indigenous yeasts. Fermentation took place between 15-20°C. The lees were stirred during this time in all barrels and partial malolactic fermentation occurred. The wine was aged in barrel on the lees for 12 months before bottling.
A very alluring, restrained nose of citrus, white-flesh nectarine and citrus blossom leads onto a tight, fine palate with a subtly chalky texture. With no one, single flavour dominating, the 2015 is an intriguing, very complex and very complete Chardonnay with fabulous flow and persistence. Fully barrel fermented with 'wild' indigenous yeasts, this exceptional release has excellent cellaring potential.
Thomas Bachelder is often known as the first winemaker at Le Clos Jordanne. He has now gone out on his own, together with his wife, Mary Delaney. In their first vintage in 2009, they made three Chardonnays from three different regions - Burgundy, Niagara and Oregon. Using the same winemaking techniques in each region (wild yeasts, minimal intervention and the same barrel makers), the difference in the wines is solely down to the vineyard which makes for some very interesting blind tasting results. The Niagara Chardonnay is particularly fresh and lifted with aromas of white stone fruits, whereas the Oregon Chardonnay shows a more robust, honeyed character.
The grapes for this wine come primarily from the organically-grown Saunders Vineyard (Beamsville Bench) and the Wismer Vineyard on Twenty Mile Bench. The combination of Niagara's strongly continental climate and the Dolomitic limestone-rich soils of these vineyards, imparts great minerality and freshness to the final wine.
Years of making Chardonnay - in Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne in Burgundy, in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and in Canada's Niagara - has taught Thomas to be as natural as possible in his winemaking. Pressing of the grapes was therefore very gentle and fermentation was carried out only with wild yeasts. Malolactic fermentation took place in specially selected oak barrels, followed by an extended ageing period which has made the wine broader on the mid-palate, more integrated, elegant, subtle, truer to its terroir and, surprisingly, less oaky.
Bright lemon-yellow in colour. On the nose, lifted ripe lemon notes mix with hints of white stone fruit and flinty mineral nuances. It is medium to full bodied on the palate with a scented stone fruit character and a long and complex mineral finish.
This estate makes Italy's finest sparkling wines from its 200 hectares of vineyard situated in the western part of the Franciacorta zone in a natural amphitheatre. The glacial soil is full of stones, and provides the ideal environment for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used in the production of their Franciacorta. Bellavista, meaning 'beautiful view' in Italian, was founded by Vittorio Moretti in the early 1970s, with the first vintage produced in 1979. In 1981, he met a young winemaker, Mattia Vezzola and this partnership transformed Bellavista into Italy's leading producer of quality sparkling wine.
The vineyards have some of the best exposure, character and expressive potential in the area. This has given rise to 107 small crus that express the intrinsic personality of the land and the subtle nuances of its character and personality. The grapes come from the Uccellanda vineyard, 4.14 hectares in size, in the Commune of Corte Franca at approximately 300 metres above sea level. The subsoil comprises glacial deposits of silt, sand and gravel that are rich in carbonate.
The spring was cool with decent rainfall, and the pattern remained the same until June. From then onwards, drought conditions kicked in lasting until mid September. Nevertheless, bud break took place as usual in most vineyards. The weather during harvest, which began as usual in early September and lasted through to the end of October, was mild. Rain towards the end of harvest meant that a more careful selection of grapes was required.
Harvest took place when the grapes reached optimum ripeness and were carefully selected on the vine. The must was fermented for 12 months in 228 litre oak barrels. The wine was bottled in the second spring after harvest and was matured for a further six months in bottle before release.
Yellow in colour with golden highlights, this wine shows lifted perfumes of yellow apples, quince and ripe fruits with a hint of vanilla. On the palate, it is rich, creamy and elegant with a long finish.
** DECANTER MAGAZINE HAS MARKED US AS HAVING AVAILABILITY OF THIS WINE. ALAS, THIS IS AN ERROR DATING BACK TO ITS REVIEW IN DECEMBER 2017 (when we rapidly sold out). WE LEARN THAT THERE IS NONE AVAILABLE AT EITHER THE UK IMPORTER OR BROKENWOOD EITHER. Apologies for the disappointment! **
Awarded 95 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of cool-climate Australian Chardonnay (Victoria and Tasmania) (see blue links below).
Established in 1970, Brokenwood Wines has evolved from a weekend venture for self-professed hobby winemakers into one of Australia’s most reputable wine labels. It was founded by a trio of Sydney-based solicitors, Tony Albert, John Beeston and James Halliday, who paid a then record price of $970 per acre for a 10-acre block in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges. The original block was destined to be a cricket ground for the local community but was instead planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The first vintage was picked in 1973 and while none of the original partners claimed to know anything about viticulture, the wine received praise, and attracted a loyal following from the first vintage.
In 1975, a new winery was built to accommodate the growing production. Growth was steady until the boom of 1978, when six new partners joined, allowing the purchase of the nextdoor (and now famous) Graveyard Vineyard. Originally destined to be a cemetery for the Parish of Pokolbin, it was never used as such and instead planted with Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz is Brokenwood’s flagship wine, which is still sourced exclusively from that one vineyard.
In the same year, Brokenwood sourced fruit from outside the Hunter Valley for the first time - Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra - which was blended with Hunter fruit to make a premium red, creating the style that has been synonymous with Brokenwood for the last 20 years. In 1982, the company extended its range to include white wines, notably the jewel of the Hunter Valley, Semillon. Brokenwood was then capable of producing high quality white wine, which, since 1983, has been a significant part of its total production. Brokenwood’s single vineyard philosophy has grown to capture the essence of its premium sites throughout Australia.
Consistently listed as a 5-star winery, Brokenwood is home to the aforementioned Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the highly-acclaimed ILR Reserve Semillon, and the popular Cricket Pitch Range.
An almost-perfect combination of soils, aspect, vine clones and vine age on the Indigo property makes for a stunning Chardonnay with minimum winemaking input, allowing the Beechworth region and and Indigo terroir to express themselves fully. A very cold and wet winter of 2015 meant a late budburst, but set the vines up for a great spring. A warm summer did mean irrigation was necessary and picking was very condensed. The last grapes off were nearly a month ahead of previous years, but this worked out favourably as there was a heat wave in early March. Overall, 2016 was a quite excellent vintage.
Whole bunch pressing, wild ferment in new French oak have come together in spectacular fashion. The wine was fermented in 30% new French oak. with the 70% balance being older oak, from a variety of cooperages.
At Indigo, careful winemaking and being very hands-off has resulted in a perfect green tinted yellow colour. Whole bunch pressed and a wild ferment has meant excellent complexity on nose and palate. Nutty elements with distinctive Beechworth ‘oat meal’ Chardonnay lift. A vintage with low ‘struck match’ but long grapefruit flavours and tropical acidity. Perfect Chardonnay which is drinking well now but will improve with further bottle age.
The 2014 vintage was Awarded 95 points by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition review of Italian Icon Wines (see blue link below).
The Bucci family has been growing grapes in the Marche since the 1700s. Current custodian, Ampelio Bucci has 26 hectares of vineyard on this 400 hectare estate, which is cultivated organically. Of these, 21 hectares are Verdicchio, spread over six separate vineyards. The old vines and low yields give wines of great intensity. Consultant winemaker at Villa Bucci is the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai, who has been there for nearly 30 years. He makes wines for ageing and complexity rather than freshness and simplicity.
The Riserva is only produced in the best vintages, with fruit from the oldest vines (between 40 and 50 years old on average) and the best sites. There are six vineyards with different exposures and elevations to obtain more complexity in the final blend of each wine. Yields are kept low and vineyard management is certified organic with no herbicides or pesticides used. Soils are mainly calcareous (limestone), giving minerality to the wine, with around 30% clay, which retains moisture during the hot summers.
The 2015 summer in the Marche was warm and sunny, with a great deal of heat in August. Some light rainfall helped to balance the growth cycle, creating healthy and well-balanced grapes.
Vinification took place in the underground winery, which is naturally cool so refrigeration is generally not necessary. Vinification took place in stainless steel and Slovenian oak barrels of between 50 and 75 hectolitres, that are approximately 70 years old. Different vineyard parcels were vinified separately, aged for two years and then carefully blended before bottling.
An intense, complex and persistent bouquet of apricot compôte and spice with aromas of honey, beeswax, minerals and flint stone. Full bodied and with great depth, the wine finishes with hints of honey and nuts.
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.
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.
Tradition, innate elegance and the essence of the Renaissance: Tuscany exudes an aura of timelessness that has inspired generations of the Frescobaldi family and is now an integral part of their vineyards. The Nipozzano Estate is located in one of the traditional areas of Chianti: Chianti Rufina, which is the smallest and most elevated Chianti sub-appellation. The 11th century castle is located in the heart of the prestigious Chianti Rufina, which holds the family cellar including wines dating back to 1864. The uniqueness of the Nipozzano terroir continues to produce wines with a wide range of aromas and extraordinary longevity.
The grapes were hand harvested and then softly pressed. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at less than 30°C and lasted for 12 days. Maceration lasted for 28 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in barriques immediately following alcoholic fermentation. The wine was aged for 24 months in barrique and six months in bottle.
Ruby, red with violet highlights. Aromas of blueberry and blackberry are followed by black cherry and balsamic notes. On the palate the tannins are textured and dense. It is rich and velvety with a very long finish maked by eucalyptus and balsamic notes. A terrific partner to slow-cooked meat dishes, marinades and stews.
This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2017 edition review of Southern Rhone Whites (see blue link below).
Domaine Chante Cigale is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Orange and Sorgues, on a variety of soils which contain a high proportion of ‘galets.’ These are the large stones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape which heat up during the day and release their heat at night, allowing the grapes to achieve maximum ripeness. The white is fresh and attractive and an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous Chardonnay. Since taking over the running of the estate from his father over ten years ago, Alexandre Favier has transformed the quality of the wines, which now rank amongst the very best of the appellation.
The grapes for this wine are harvested manually and go through a selective sorting process to ensure that only the best quality grapes are used in the winemaking process. The wine is fermented in both stainless steel (70%) and wood (30%). It then spends 6 months on its fine lees before being bottled.
This wine is fragrant, with aromas that are reminiscent of almond and peach blossom. The palate is wonderfully smooth with a silky textured balance of dried apricot fruit and fresh, apply acidity.
This wine is a particularly good match for fish and also works well with smoked ham dishes. It also compliments slightly spicy dishes as well as traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
VINI D’ITALIA “GAMBERO ROSSO” - October 2018 - Tre Bicchieri
ROBERT PARKER - August 2018 - 94/100
JAMES SUCKLING - November 2018 - 95/100
Colterenzio is one of the most recent wineries in Alto Adige with over 300 families working behind the scenes. These families work year-round, and each autumn they deliver their precious, hand-harvested grapes to the winery. The philosophy of their winemakers is as follows: "The perfect piece of land is chosen for each variety, each and every vine is tended year-round and every single grape is carefully harvested by hand. It sounds like a lot of work – and it is. So why do we do it? That’s an easy question to answer: Only from the very best, healthy vineyard can we make good wines in the cellar. There’s no room for compromise. And that’s exactly what we stand for: uncompromising quality and authentic taste."
The grapes for this Chardonnay grow on old vines with very small yields. The vineyards are situated at an altitude of 400 to 550 m ASL on dry morainic soils with a sand and gravel composition; the microclimate is cool, with striking contrasts between day and night time temperatures.
The grapes are pressed without being destemmed. Fermentation then takes place in a combination of new and used oak barriques, where partially malolactic fermentation also takes place. The wine rests on its fine lees for 10 months, and regular battonage is carried out. It then undergoes a further 6 months of bottle-ageing before being released.
This Chardonnay has a pale intense straw yellow colour tinged with green nuances. It is a full but well integrated wine, with nuances of honeydew melon, creamy fruit salad and nutty aromas. There is ample acidity with a delicate undertone of oak on the palate and a long, luscious finish. Its cellaring potential is between 6-10 years. This full-bodied wine is perfect on its own, but an incredible complement to rich fish dishes such as poached skate with mint cream sauce, Dover sole, Cicatelli pasta with fresh crab, stirfried scallops with ginger as well as being the perfect partner to chicken and pork.
The 2015 vintage was awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2016 edition review of Provence (see blue link below). The 2015 vintage has alas now run out, but key component analysis of the two vintages shows them to be very similar - the 2016 has merely yet to be subject to review by Decanter!
Since purchasing the estate in 1975, Comte Henri de Saint-Victor and family have been producing some of the most seductively aromatic and nobly structured wines in all of Southern France.
This celebrated white - 45% Clairette, 30% Bourboulenc, 25% other - is aged in large oak casks after a long, slow fermentation, giving a wine of considerable body and geat flavour integration.
It is mellow and vinous and develops a wonderful freshness that delights the palate, accentuated with flavours of white flowers (jasmine, lime flowers and hawthorn) and fruits (such as pear and peach). It has a almost savoury-salty finish.
It is additionally suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The wines of Château Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient wine-making culture, as vines have been cultivated in Lebanon's high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6000 years. In 1930, at just 20 years old, Gaston Hochar founded Château Musar, inspired by Lebanon’s winemaking tradition and his travels in Bordeaux.
Château Musar White is a truly unique white, made from ancient Lebanese varieties Obaideh and Merwah, dating back thousands of years. Reputedly, the ancestors of Chardonnay / Chasselas and Semillon, they are among only 6 indigenous grapes still commercially cultivated in Lebanon. The vineyards were planted between 50-90 years ago, at around 1,300 metres above sea level in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains near Ain Arab on stony, chalky soils, and on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon in Baqaãta, on calcareous gravels. The vines remain phylloxera-free and are still on their own roots. Few vineyards of this calibre and history remain in the world.
To see Chateau Musar's excellent tasting note and information on this wine, please click the blue link below.
Awarded 88 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2018 edition review of Australian Riesling (see blue link below).
Dr John Kirk founded Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of theDr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.
Riesling has been grown at Clonakilla since 1971, and John Kirk used it to make the Canberra District's first commercial vintage in 1976. The fruit for the 2017 Riesling comes from estate owned vineyards around the winery, planted on fertile soils on a bed of decomposed granite. At 600 metres above sea level, the grapes benefit from a cool, continental climate, with warm days and cool nights that extend the ripening season.
Winter rains set up an ideal growing season which sustained the fruit through a warm summer and classic cool climate ripening period. Harvest took place in March 2017.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed, with the clear juice fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures. The wine was stabilised and bottled three months after picking, in June 2017.
A pale straw green Riesling, with ripe lime, citrus and floral notes paving the way for a crisp, fresh palate. Beautiful natural, mineral acidity gives the wine great texture and length.