The previous 2016 vintage was awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).
Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.
The Torrontes and Riesling grapes were grown on the Finca San Isidoro vineyards. These are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge thermal amplitude of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.
Overall, the Calchaquí Valley enjoyed optimal conditions in 2017, with perfect balance between quality and quantity. The weather during the growing season was excellent, with no spring frost, allowing good fruit set and resulting in healthy grapes.
The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. The grapes underwent cold maceration for four days, followed by a slow fermentation using selected yeasts, at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. 80% of the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks with 20% aged in French oak for 10 months.
This wine is made using Torrontes 85%, Riesling 15%.
Intense gold in colour, this wine has pronounced aromas of grapefruit and lemon peel. Delicate and silky on the palate with great freshness and crisp acidity on the distinctly mineral finish.
Castello della Sala (where the grapes for Bramito are grown) is located in Umbria at approximately ten miles (18 kilometers) from the city of Orvieto. The soil, rich in clay on the whole, the vineyards with a fine eastern exposure, a climate characterized by cold – but not to excess – winters and warm summers in which fog plays a role in the ripening of the grapes: all these factors make Castello della Sala a spot with a very high potential for the production of fine white wine. Bramìto is produced from the grapes of the vineyards of the centuries-old Castello della Sala, located just a few miles from the city of Orvieto. A variety, Chardonnay, which finds, in this particular territory, soils which derive from fossil sediments intermingled with strata of clay and which endow the wines with much mineral character and much elegance as well. The first vintage of production for Bramìto was 1994.
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.
To see an excellent 2 page information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been produced by the team at Antinori, please click on the blue link below.
In 1925 the winery of Anton and Carl Finkenauer was split as the two brothers wanted to go their own way. Since then there have been two wineries with the same name situated just a few metres away from each. Weingut Anton Finkenauer is a family company offering well made and attractively priced wines with an annual volume of 60,000 bottles.
The grapes were cool fermented to retain the fruity character with a good balance of acidity.
The wonderful balance between sugar and acidity found in this wine, makes it a good example of the wines from the Nahe region. A young, dry, streamlined and fruity wine with just a hint of refreshing spritz on the palate. The perfect accompaniment to seafood, particularly oysters, green Niçoise salads and creamy Camembert.
Bigi’s first headquarters was in the former Franciscan monastery of La Trinità in Orvieto, but this was confiscated by the Italian state in 1870! Today they are based in their modern cellars at Ponte Giulio at the foot of the lofty walls of the old and ancient town. The winery with its avant-garde vinification equipment and collection of casks and barrels marries perfectly the modern technical production requirement with age-old tradition.
The signature wine of Orvieto, this wine is produced from hilly vineyards in the Classic DOC zone, enjoying clayey soil and southwest exposure. Vineyards have been cultivated in Umbria, “the green heart of Italy” and a crossroads between the north and the south, between the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas, since Etruscan times. When one speaks of Orvieto, one thinks of a beautiful walled city built on a tuffstone mound by the Etruscans, and known in the Roman era as Urbs Vetus (old city) - but also of the prized white Umbrian wine of which Bigi has been a leading producer for many years.
Orvieto Amabiles are richer than the dry Secco wines and could be described as medium-dry. Don’t let this put you off as this is an ideal bar wine; gentle and soft on the palate with subtle peach and almond fruit and enough freshness to carry that enticing sweet edge. Made from a combination of Trebbiano Toscano (Procanico), Verdello, Grechetto, Malvasia and Drupeggio grapes.
Fermented and aged in stainless steel. This wine offers a floral bouquet of hawthorn blossom with hints of musk and almond. Dry and full-bodied on the palate, Bigi Orvieto Classico has a lively flavor with a unique aftertaste of white peaches and bitter almonds.
Awarded 89 points and Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2019 edition review of Rueda (see blue link below).
The guiding philosophy of Protos is "Quality above all". For this reason, the whole process leading to the production of their wine undergoes an in-depth analysis. The vineyards are controlled exhaustively by both technicians and experts throughout the growth cycle, yielding a production of the highest quality. This also gives them in-depth information about all the grapes to be used before they reach the winery.
Harvesting for this wine is done at night, is 100% manual and the production was gathered in 20-kilo boxes; the grapes are then spread over sorting tables. This allows them to guarantee that only completely healthy, whole grapes reach the fermentation tanks. After fermentation this wine spends a further 3 months resting on its fine lees (indeed, this new 2017 vintage is now labelled, as per the photo, as a sobre lias).
This wine has a greenish straw colour and is bright and clean. The Protos Verdejo is powerful yet fruity with green apple, citrus and tropical fruit aromas as well as white blossoms, fragant herbs and fennel hints. The flavours are very fresh, with good acidity, fruity, well balanced flavours. It is a complex wine, with a long finish.
Buitenverwachting is a beautiful farm on the east-facing slopes of the magnificent Constantiaberg and barely 12km from False Bay. It originally formed part of the Constantia Estate, which was founded by Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the new Dutch colony at the tip of Africa. Rooted in deep, decomposed granite soils and cooled by the temperate sea breezes from the surrounding oceans, Buitenverwachting wines are an expression of this unique climate. The slow ripening climatic conditions with cold nights and modest day time temperatures translate into fresh, crisp and full bodied wines.
Specialising in Sauvignon Blanc, the Constantia climate allows winemaker Brad Paton in conjunction with Viticulturist Peter Reynolds to ripen out all the under ripe green flavours. Most of the sites develop a unique “yellow” fruit flavours, such as melons, passion fruit, yellow apple and gooseberries.
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.
To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine that has been produced by the team at Buitenverwachting, please click on the 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 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.
In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Bodega Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.
Catena wines, first launched in 1992, set a new standard for quality in South America. The wines immediately proved the quality potential of Argentina and garnered the first outstanding reviews for Argentine wines from worldwide media. After more than 20 years, the wines of Catena continue to lead the way in Argentine viticulture and winemaking. The family and the winery’s employees take great pride in carrying on the tradition that began over a century ago.
See/click the link below for data on this wine from the winemakers themselves.
This wine has the unique expression of cool and high altitude vineyard sites. Tupungato vineyards lend citrus notes with a crisp finish and a rich unctuous mouthfeel. The wine has a beautiful pear and citrus flavors with crisp fresh minerality. The wine is a delicate greenish color with light yellow notes. The aroma is of fresh white peaches and pineapples and jasmine and magnolia. The mouthfeel is tangible and rich yet clean and fresh on the finish.
This small co-operative, founded in 1954, has 110 members and 200 hectares of vineyard in the Haut-Rhin, nine kilometres from Colmar. Their wines are vinified using only their members' grapes, with a focus on expressing the rich diversity of Alsatian soils. Winemaker Nicolas Garde started at the winery in 2004 and his influence continues to be seen in the way the wines improve with each vintage.
Sheltered from oceanic influence by the Vosges Mountains, the Alsace wine region has a semi-continental climate which stays sunny and dry throughout the growing season, and this lengthens the ripening period for the grapes. The slopes surrounding Hunawihr, a picturesque village of half-timbered houses and a 14th century church, are some of the most celebrated in Alsace for grape-growing. Cave de Hunawihr’s fruit is sourced from 25-year-old vines grown in vineyards running along the south and south-east facing hillside slopes around the village, at an altitude of 250-320 metres. The vineyards cover an area of 36 hectares, located on a geological fault line across Ribeauvillé which gives soils composed of clayey limestone marl and chalky gravels.
Yields were low in 2017 due to the frost, but the quality of the grapes was very good. The harvest started earlier than normal, at the beginning of September.
This Gewürztraminer was made from a blend of micro-parcels from the Hunawihr vineyards, picked at optimum ripeness. The temperature-controlled fermentation took place between 16-18°C for three weeks, followed by four months in stainless-steel tanks to settle before careful filtration. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to take place.
This wine has a nice pale, straw yellow colour with an elegant silver tint. The nose is very complex with very delicate aromas of lychee, mango and particularly rose. Full-bodied, this off-dry wine has a refreshing acidity with roses lingering on the long finish.
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.
As the maker puts it: "It takes an unconventional winemaker to make a totally unexpected dry Riesling. One night, Charles was eating Chinese takeout and watching a fight scene in a notorious martial arts film when he had an idea: a killer white wine made to be paired with Asian food. Just like that, Kung Fu Girl was born. And it’s been kicking ass and taking names ever since".
More traditionally put: This wine is made by Charles Smith, a self–taught winemaker who brings his rock and roll spirit to the vineyards of Walla Walla, Washington. As a romantic young man, Charles Smith moved across the world to Denmark to follow his love for his girlfriend at the time. In Scandinavia, he became a recognized manager for rock bands such as The Raveonettes. While travelling on the road with these bands, he developed his passion for wine. In 1999, he moved back to Washington, opened a wine store and became friendly with a French winemaker, later convincing him to move to Walla Walla to make wine together.
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling grapes comes from Evergreen Vineyard vines, where they stretch across the steep cliffs overlooking the Colombia River. This makes for ideal Riesling growing conditions that rival those in Germany. This wine is made from 100% Riesling grapes, carefully cultivated and pressed at the winery. The wine is barrel-aged for only 2 months (using the sur lie method, ie leaving the wine on its fine lees). Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling is crafted to be approachable and ready to drink the day you buy it.
The wine is a party in a glass. Young and fun, bright balance and tropical fruit notes make this an easy introduction to the world of Riesling. White stone fruit, apricot and white peach aromas with honeysuckle undertones make it a stand out. These flavours are balanced with elements of lime zest, citrus blossom and a floral hint of jasmine.
This wine would pair well with any number of foods. It can very easily be enjoyed on its own but Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling is a match made in heaven with Korean BBQ, spicy curry any kind of Thai food and sushi. Snow crab, lobster, prawns, roasted chicken or grilled salmon would also pair well.
To see an information sheet and tasting note for this wine from the team at Charles Smith Wines, please click on the blue link below.
The Bouzereau family has been growing vines in Meursault for nine generations, dating back to the 18th century. The current Château de Cîteaux was established by Philippe Bouzereau (senior) in the 1960s. His son Philippe (junior) took over the running of the estate in 2006, having completed his studies in Beaune and worked vintages in Beaujolais, Australia and New Zealand. The 18 hectares of vines are cultivated according to the principles of la ‘Lutte Raisonnée’, or sustainable farming. Philippe passionately believes in letting the wine express its terroir, through minimum intervention in the winery and a judicious use of oak. He has certainly achieved this, as the resulting wines are rich, concentrated and showcase the terroir beautifully.
The 2017 vintage enjoyed more traditional weather patterns. Early budburst took place due to a warm spring. Favourable conditions during the growing period, with increased temperatures towards the end of the season, enabled the grapes to reach good maturity levels. Harvest commenced on 3rd September, producing aromatic grapes with wonderful balance.
Auxey-Duresses is located in a valley in the Côte de Beaune, west of Meursault. The vineyard is situated on a north facing hillside and is subject to cooler winds than other areas of the Côte de Beaune. The soil is clayey at the bottom of the hill, with a rocky superficial soil at the top. The vineyard is managed using sustainable practices; only organic fertilisers and composts are used and chemical herbicides have not been used for over 15 years. The vineyard is cultivated in the traditional Burgundian manner and the grapes are manually harvested.
The grapes were pressed pneumatically and fermented on the fine lees in oak barrels, with regular lees stirring known as bâtonnage. The wine was matured in the family cellars, spending 12 months in oak barrels. 20% to 30% of the oak barrels for this cuvée were new. The use of oak was carefully monitored to ensure a pure expression of the Auxey-Duresses terroir was captured.
A rich and creamy style, with generous apple fruit aromas combined with hints of almond, spice and a linear minerality. Delicate floral notes and aromas of grapefruit and citrus notes combine with a hint of spice. This is also a rich and concentrated style, which is harmoniously balanced with a beautifully integrated oak character and delicious mineral overtones through to an elegant finish.
Château Lestrille Capmartin wines are full bodied, with structure and personality. The Château is located at the northern point of the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation in the small town of St. Germain du Puch between Libourne and Bordeaux.
Following the philosophy that winemaking lies in the vineyard itself, sustainable winegrowing practices are used in order to respect the balance of the soil. Talented winemaker Estelle Roumage combines strict selection, with a tailor-made approach to vinification. Each parcel is vinified with minimal intervention to respect and optimise the characteristics of the vintage and terroir, with subtle oak ageing, creating charming wines with the utmost appeal. Vineyard The vineyards are cultivated according to la lutte raisonnée, using sustainable agriculture methods, reducing the use of chemicals in order to respect the land and its environment. The soils in the vineyard have a high clay and silt content.
Sauvignon Gris 55%, Semillon 39%, Sauvignon Blanc 6%. The grapes were picked at full maturity and carefully sorted. A maceration took place for eight hours with a cold stabilisation and yeast inoculation being carried out in tank. The fermentation took place in new oak and the wine was then aged on its fine lees with frequent bâtonnage, imparting texture and complexity to the resulting wine. The wine was bottled after 10 months.
Beautiful rich and creamy wine showing green apple and spice flavours through to a lovely, long finish. Classy, elegant and full of flavour. A smooth, ripe wine bursting with white peach flavours and suberb lemon freshness. Concentrated apricot flavours on the palate are generously kissed by spicy wood and the palate finishes with a long rich, toasty note. A classy and elegant white Bordeaux.
Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their July 2018 edition article on Argentinian whites (see blue link below).
Bodega Colomé was established in 1831 by the Spanish Governor of Salta, Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi y Echalar. In 1854, his daughter Ascensión, who was married to José Benjamín Dávalos, brought the first French pre-phylloxera Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon vines to Colomé. Grapes from three vineyards (of four hectares each) planted in that year are still used to make wines. Located in the Upper Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina, not only is Colomé the oldest winery in Argentina, but it also claims to own the world's highest vineyard.
The high altitude of the Calchaqui Valley and greater difference between day and night temperatures, ensures a longer growing season which in turn leads to a more intense accumulation of flavour in the grapes. The large difference (25°C) between day and night also aids the retention of natural acidity within the grapes. The climate here is dry with very little rainfall, on average around 120mm per year. Soils are sandy with layers of gravel which aid drainage. The vineyards are all farmed biodynamically.
The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. Fermenation was slow, using selected yeasts at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. The wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for three months before bottling in June 2016. It then spent a further two months ageing in bottle before release.
Intense gold in colour with green tones, this wine has a bright floral nose with the citrus aroma of grapefruit and a hint of spice. In the mouth it is fresh and well structured with a crisp finish. Elegant and fruity with tropical notes to the fore.