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Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2018 edition review of Value Champagne (see blue link below).

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV - December 2018 Decanter review

If exceptional had a name, it would be Champagne Alfred Gratien. Alfred Gratien Champagnes are handcrafted for guaranteed quality and consistency. A few miles away from Epernay’s bustling town centre, deep in the heart of a Champagne vineyard, are the Alfred Gratien Champagne cellars. It was here, on Rue Maurice Cerveaux, that Alfred Gratien set up his business and created his first cuvées in 1864. For over a century and a half, Alfred Gratien Champagnes have remained a family affair perpetuated by the expertise and know-how of their founder. For four generations, the Epernay-based Jaeger family have been handing down the trade of cellar master from father to son, ensuring the Alfred Gratien style lives on.

The pale yellow hue of this wine’s colour is complemented by its lively effervescence. The bubbles are small and quick to rise to a fine mousse. The nose is moderately intense yet complex. The sweet pastry, biscuit and orchard fruit notes are followed and enhanced by hints of citrus, white flowers and fresh butter. The initial taste is clean: this is a very silky and sparkling wine whose sugar content works well with its body. There is a certain chalky minerality and the texture is smooth. It is characterful without being overbearing. The finish is crisp, with a slight mineral undertone, and long at 6 to 8 seconds. It leaves an excellently balanced acidic aftertaste, with a sugar component that is undeniably pleasing on the palate.

Thi is an exemplary Brut Champagne, which places a great emphasis on the bubbles created in the wine. It has benefitted from its reserve wine content and its maturation in cellars. Superb complexity combines young aromas with notes gained through maturation in cellars.

Its balanced qualities mean it can be paired quite liberally. Avoid anything too salty, sugary, fatty or spicy, opting instead for balance. Ideal for your savoury or sweet-and-sour hors d’œuvre, and for apéritifs.

£35.05

Allegrini La Poja 2012 (1x75cl)

The Allegrini family estate covers 100 hectares of vineyard in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico area. The family has been growing grapes here for six generations, but the estate in its current form was founded by Giovanni Allegrini. When he passed away in 1983, it passed to his three children, who ran it together until Walter's death in July 2003. Franco now looks after the vineyards and is the winemaker, and Marilisa is director of marketing.

Located at the top of Podere La Grola, Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella, 320 metres above sea level, the vineyard comprises 2.65 hectares planted in 1979 with a south-east exposure. The soil is well drained, calcareous (78.5% chalk) and stony. Soils are marginally alkaline and combine with the active limestone content to reduce the vines' vigour. The vines are double Guyot trained at a density of approximately 4,240 vines per hectare.

The summer of 2012 was abnormally hot and dry, although a downpour on 17th July, with 25 millimetres of rain managed to restore water reserves and bring the vegetation back into a state of equilibrium. Much needed rains at the beginning of September - about 80 millimetres - changed the macroclimate substantially, bringing with it much cooler nights ensuring a significant diurnal range so indispensable for the retention of acidity, production of aromas and phenolic ripening of the grapes. Average production this year declined 10% - 15% but crucially the heat wave did not scorch the clusters.

The grapes were harvested at the end of September, destemmed and crushed with maceration lasting 12-15 days with regular, daily pumping over. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks between 22-31ºC with malolactic fermentation occurring naturally in November. The wine was then racked into new oak barriques where it aged for 20 months, followed by eight months in large oak casks. The wine was left to age in the bottle for an additional 10 months.

After more than four years ageing, the wine is still extraordinarily fresh and crisp with a full spectrum of aromas, ranging from dark fruits: blackcurrant and cherry, to liquorice, vanilla and smoky tobacco notes which follow onto the palate. Full bodied and elegant, framed by taut tannins the wine has a long, lingering finish.

£65.20

Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Igt 2015 (1x75cl)

The Allegrini family estate covers 100 hectares of vineyard in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico area. The family has been growing grapes here for six generations, but the estate in its current form was founded by Giovanni Allegrini. When he passed away in 1983, it passed to his three children, who ran it together until Walter's death in July 2003. Franco now looks after the vineyards and is the winemaker, and Marilisa is director of marketing.

Palazzo della Torre covers 26 hectares of east-facing vineyard planted between 1962 and 2013, situated 240 metres above sea level. Allegrini purchased this vineyard in 1978. Soils are cretaceous and calcareous, with Pergola Trentina trained vines planted at 3,000 vines per hectare.

2015 overall climate and weather pattern were particularly beneficial for the physiological equilibrium of the vines. The high temperatures recorded throughout the Valpolicella in July did not prevent the different varieties from ripening in perfect health. The harvest, which began in early September, took place in ideal conditions due to the total absence of rain. 2015 promises wines with intense aromas and good balance of acidity.

Franco Allegrini used the modern version of the traditional 'ripasso' technique for Palazzo della Torre, drying a proportion of the grapes in the 'Terre di Fumane' drying centre, to intensify the character of this vineyard. The grapes that were dried were hand picked at the beginning of September, and the grapes vinified immediately were picked at the end of the month. 70% of the grapes picked were vinified immediately and 30% were left to dry until the second half of December when they were vinified and then refermented with the wine from the fresh grapes. The wine spent 15 months in second-use barriques, and was blended together for two months, then aged for a further seven months in bottle.

Ruby red in colour, Palazzo della Torre has enticing aromas of cherry with rich dark chocolate notes. Velvety in texture, it is well-balanced and offers ripe, juicy dark fruit, with silky tannins and refreshing acidity.

£18.60

Allegrini Valpolicella 2017 (1x75cl)

The Allegrini family estate covers 100 hectares of vineyard in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico area. The family has been growing grapes here for six generations, but the estate in its current form was founded by Giovanni Allegrini. When he passed away in 1983, it passed to his three children, who ran it together until Walter's death in July 2003. Franco now looks after the vineyards and is the winemaker, and Marilisa is director of marketing.

The south-east facing vineyards are located in the hills of the Valpolicella Classico region at 180-280 metres above sea level. The soil there is very varied but mostly chalky, of volcanic origin. The older vineyards are trained using the pergola Trentina system, planted with about 3,000 vines per hectare, whereas the newer ones use the single Guyot system with 5,000 plants per hectare. The vines are 35 years old on average.

The 2017 vintage was a good one in Valpolicella. Winter was mild without extreme weather conditions. The beginning of the vegetative cycle saw low rainfall but still within the norm. Summer was dry and breezy, with wide variations in diurnal temperatures in the final few weeks. This allowed the grapes to express their varietal aromas as well as ensuring their excellent health. Harvest started on 4th September, and grapes were picked in perfect health.

The grapes were destemmed before soft-pressing, after which fermentation occurred at 25-31ºC in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Fermentation lasted nine days after which the wine was held in stainless steel tanks until bottling in mid-February where it spent a further two months before release.

This wine was made using Corvina 70%, Rondinella 30%.

This Valpolicella is ruby red in colour, with youthful highlights. Fragrant fruit with prominent notes of dark cherries are echoed by fresher hints of pepper and aromatic herbs, typical of Corvina and its genetic cousin Corvinone, the historic varieties of this appellation. When young, this Valpolicella is impressively lively and playful on the palate and will express greater delicacy and finesse with two or more years of ageing.

£13.60

Alpha Domus The Navigator 2010 (1x 75cl)

Emigrating from Holland in the early 1960s the Ham family established themselves as nurserymen before going on to create Alpha Domus in 1990. They produced their first vintage in 1996. The family's commitment is to produce premium quality wines that are true to varietal character and are a reflection of their unique terroir. Their vineyard lies in the renowned Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District of Hawkes Bay.  

Selected parcels of mostly hand harvested Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot were destemmed, crushed and transferred to tank. After a 4-5 day maceration period the ferments were initiated, warmed and allowed to reach 32˚C at the peak of fermentation. Pumpovers took place 4 times daily with less towards the end of fermentation. The wine was then run off to seasoned barrels (80% French) and the skins were pressed through a one tonne basket press. The different batches were kept separate for over 12 months prior to blending.

Alpha Domus The Navigator has a complex aroma of sweet berry fruit, plums, violet, liquorice and hints of char. Influences of sweet vanilla and toast result from oak barrel maturation. Flavours of plum and blackberry are supported by clove and spicy notes. Savoury, leathery characters add complexity. The sweet fruit, spicy oak and firm tannins create an elegant, fragrant wine with excellent length.

£30.00

Alpha Estate, Amyndeo, Vielles Vignes Single Block Barba Yannis, Xinomavro Reserve 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2018 edition article: The Most Exciting Wines of 2017 (see blue link below).

Alpha Estate Reserve Vielles Vignes Single Block Xino 2013 - January 2018 Decanter review

Alpha Estate is located in Amyndeon, North West Greece. It is the brainchild of two visionaries, second generation vine grower Makis Mavridis and Bordeaux trained wine maker Angelos Iatrides. Angelos is one of the most talented winemakers working in Europe. This pristine estate in the cool highlands of Western Macedonia comprises 120 hectares of privately owned single block vineyards and employs the most up to date vineyard techniques and winemaking technology to produce world class wines from French and indigenous Greek varietals.

The Single Block Barba Yiannis is named in honour of Mr Yiannis, from whom the block was purchased in 1994. The vineyard is located in Amyndeo, in the region of Macedonia. The vines are ungrafted, pre-phylloxera bush vines which are over 90 years old. The summers are hot, so in order to avoid extreme water deficit a "root zone drying irrigation" is used, to ensure the optimum conditions for the nourishment and maturation of the grapes. The vines are grown in sandy clay soils.

The grapes were destemmed, lightly crushed and cold soaked with skin contact. The fermentation took place using an indigenous yeast strain. Fermentation took place at gradually increasing temperatures, before being maintained "sur lie" or on its fine lees for eighteen months with regular stirring. Maturation took place in Allier - Bertrange French oak casks of medium grain, for 24 months, with a minimum of a further 12 months ageing in the bottle. The wine was bottled without fining and filtration.

A complex and typical Xinomavro (pronounced Ksee no' ma vro), showing aromas of smoky black fruits, strawberries, dark cherries, liquorice, sundried tomatoes, and delicate spice. Full bodied and structured on the palate, with a rich depth of fruit, concentrated savoury notes and a touch of oak. The velvety tannins lead through to a persistent and aromatic finish.

A perfect match with juicy red barbecued meats, roasted lamb, spicy sausage and red peppers baked in olive oil.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians.

£18.90

Alpha Zeta `R` Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2016 (1x75cl)

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

Alpha Zeta's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

Alpha Zeta 'R' Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso – Fiche Technique

£13.80

Alpha Zeta 'A' Amarone 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2013 vintage was awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their May 2017 edition review of Amarones (see blue link below)

Alpha Zeta 2013  - May 2017 Decanter review

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

The vineyards are situated in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley. Cool currents blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which helps to moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is a mixture of clay and limestone with good drainage. The vineyards are south-facing and therefore warmer than other parts of Valpolicella.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards, characterised by abundant rain, was followed by a hot and dry period. This allowed for perfect health and organoleptic qualities in the grapes, making this 2015 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

Selected grapes were picked in mid September and left to dry in specially ventilated rooms until the end of January. During this time the grapes lost about 40% of their natural weight. The grapes were destemmed and crushed at the end of January. Fermentation temperature was between 18°-22°C with daily periodic pumping over, while the length of maceration was 20 days. This Amarone was matured in oak (a mixture of large 'botti' and French oak barriques) for 18 months before bottling.

This Amarone is deep and intense on the nose with aromas of dried cherries and blueberries and notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.

£24.25

Alpha Zeta 'S' Soave 2017 (1x75cl)

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

Alpha Zeta's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

Alpha Zeta 'S' Soave 2017 – Fiche Technique

£8.10

Alpha Zeta 'V' Valpolicella 2017 (1x75cl)

Alpha Zeta was created in 1999 by UK wine importer, David Gleave MW, and New Zealand winemaker, Matt Thomson with this belief in mind. They realised that the key is to marry local grape growers with impeccable winemaking. All Alpha Zeta wines are made from indigenous grape varieties grown in the hills north-east of Verona.  The flavours of the grape shine through in the glass offering great value, quality and balance. Matt works with local Veronese grape growers in hillside vineyards to select parcels of fruit, rather than buying in bulk wine. They have worked together to reduce yields and the grapes are now picked later. In this way, they have been able to improve grape quality and obtain riper flavours.

Alpha Zeta's own tasting notes for this wine are excellent, so please click the blue link below to see all this wine's details.

Alpha Zeta 'V' Valpolicella 2017 – Fiche Technique

£10.15

Alter Ribeiro Blanco 2017 (1x 75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their March 2018 edition review of Galician Whites; (see blue link below).

Alter Ribeiro Blanco 2016 - March 2018 Decanter review

Alter came highly recommended by Lalo Antón of Izadi. He had admired this small, family-run winery since their first vintage a couple of years ago marked them out as one of the most serious producers in the region. The winery was founded by José Pérez Pousa on the banks of the Miño river in 2014, with the wish to preserve the tradition of their native land, where wine has been produced since the 2nd century BCE. The wine is named ‘alter’ to mean ‘another wine more’ in Latin.

Alter has 24 hectares of its own vineyards, which are divided into 168 small plots planted with native white varieties: Treixadura, Godello and Loureira. The vines are on average 15-30 years old, planted on decomposed granite with sand and clay. The vineyards benefit from a perfect mesoclimate with good diurnal ranges particularly during the growing season ensuring the fruit is able to fully ripen while retaining fresh acidity. All harvesting is done by hand, plot by plot at the perfect moment to ensure optimum level of ripeness which elongates their harvest.

The harvest in 2017 was challenging across the whole of Spain with Ribeiro being no exception. Growers contended with spring frosts and summer hail but low rainfall meant grapes were perfectly balanced in sugar and acidity. Local grapes such as Treixadura and Loureira were less impacted than non-indigenous grapes.

Each vineyard plot and variety were fermented separately in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, the cool ferment retaining the aromatic intensity of the grapes. Following fermentation, the wine was aged on lees for three to four months to add depth before the final blend was assembled. The 2017 is made up of 80% Treixadura, 10% Godello and 10% Loureira.

This wine has a bright straw colour with elegant aromas of white flowers, green apple and grapefruit on the nose. The palate is lively with brisk acidity and flavours of white peach dominating. This is a remarkably balanced and well structured wine with a long finish.

£14.40

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle de Uco Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World" (see blue link below)...

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle De Uco Malbec 2014 - August 2018 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

100% of this Malbec was grown on the loamy soils of Gualtallary, lying at 1,300 metres above sea level. There, limestone-covered pebbles and gravels occupy 50-60% of the soil volume, with a high percentage of free calcium carbonate giving the wine a chalky, fresh minerality. A small percentage of clay (3%) allows the Malbec to express fresh fruit flavours.

The 2013 / 2014 season began with severe frosts reducing yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that negatively affected flowering and lowered yields even more. December and January saw heatwaves, though lower temperatures moved into the region just before harvest. Three weeks before harvest, two years’ worth of rain fell. Grapes were therefore harvested prior to mildew or rot setting in. Despite these challenges, fruit showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins.

The grapes went through a double selection process and into small stainless steel tanks for pre-fermentation maceration at 5°C for seven days. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C and continued for 15 days. In total, the wine spent three weeks on its skins. Pumping over was not carried out in order to minimise over-extraction of grape skin compounds. Instead, the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. Once this was completed, post-fermentation maceration began for four days. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted foudres for 18 months followed by 12 months in bottle.

Fresh red fruit notes, cranberries and wild strawberries are followed by layers of spice and herbs. On the palate, fruit is intensely concentrated intensifying through the mid-palate to the finish. The limestone tannins and calcareous soils build a firm but balanced structure in the mouth, with elegant minerality and a long finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£32.45

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Paraje Altamira Malbec 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American signature grapes (see blue link below). 

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation (Paraje Altamira) Malbec 2014 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Argentine reds (Altamira and Gualtallary) (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 95 points and Outstanding status in their October 2017 edition review of South American Extreme Viticulture (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Altamira Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review 

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premier vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. 

The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted oak foudres for 18 months, and a further 12 months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure that the quality of the wine was not interfered with.

Fresh and delicate on the nose showing layers of red cherries and raspberries combined with herbal notes of wild rocket and thyme and a touch of minerality. On the palate it is elegant and supple with fine tannins providing structure. A graceful, complex, deep and structured wine with considerable length.

£32.45

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Clasico 2017 (1x75cl)

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation within Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

Most of the fruit for the Clasico is from vineyards in Luján de Cuyo with sandy loam soils. This is supplemented with some fruit from the high altitude vineyards of the Uco Valley, both of which bring different characteristics to the wine. The area has a semi-desert climate with little rainfall and hot days and cool nights. The soils are deep which delays ripening and avoids hydrological stress.

The climate transition from “El Niño” to “La Niña” increased temperatures, resulting in heatwaves throughout most of January. The Malbec grapes were harvested early, on 15th February in Luján de Cuyo and 24th February in the Uco Valley. The weather during the 2017 harvest was good, unaffected by hail storms or frost. Yields were low which resulted in more concentrated and flavourful grapes.

Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before the final blend was assembled. After a careful double sorting process, the grapes were gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in order to express the character of each of the selected vineyards. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks between 24-28°C for 10 days. Each tank is tasted three times a day to determine what is needed. The wine is then aged for a minimum of nine months in concrete vats.

This Malbec is deep violet-red in colour. The nose displays characteristic notes of red fruits, raspberries and freshly picked plums with white pepper. This wine is all about freshness - the palate is supple and juicy, with soft but structured tannins and a long finish.

£12.55
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