Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero, the duo behind A Mano, have worked in the wine business for most of their lives. Elvezia is a northern Italian wine marketing expert and Mark is a Californian winemaker. They fell in love with Puglia and, when they decided to start their own label, made it their home. By producing high quality wines, Mark and Elvezia have succeeded in making Primitivo one of Italy's most talked about grape varieties. They pay high prices for the best grapes from 70-100 year old vines and focus solely on quality and a modern style. After over 15 vintages, they are now getting access to some of Salento's best grapes.
The grapes for this wine come from a selection of Mark's four favourite vineyards in the heart of the Primitivo growing region, located in the low hills east of Taranto in Puglia. The region is an old sea bed, full of fossils of clams, oysters and urchins. The altitude is approximately 30-60 metres above sea level and annual rainfall is 35 centimetres. The climate is classically Mediterranean, as Puglia is on a peninsula between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. The Primitivo vines are quite old; most are the original post phylloxera plantings and range from 70-100 years old. As with most vineyards planted at that time, they are small bush vines called 'alberello' which are non-irrigated and low yielding. The average Primitivo vineyard is quite small, less than half a hectare and the best sites have a crumbly, dark reddish brown soil that resembles instant coffee.
The Primitivo grapes were dried for five weeks. On arrival at the cellars, the grapes were pressed, destemmed and cooled to 18°C and the must was allowed to ferment at its own pace. After racking in mid-November, the wine remained in an underground cement tank where the temperature did not exceed 10°C until bottling under stelvin closure.
A deeply coloured wine with exuberant perfumes of ripe red and black berry fruits, with notes of spice from the oak ageing. Made in the style of an Amarone, it is concentrated and opulent on the palate, with great balance. It is elegant, velvety and supple, with a long finish.
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.
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 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.
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 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 endow the wines with much mineral character and elegance. The first vintage of production for Bramìto was 1994.
The 2017 vintage was, in general, characterized by an absence of rainfall and by a winter with temperatures below normal seasonal averages. A late frost during the month of April caused a reduction of production, particularly in valley-floor vineyards. The hot and dry climate of the summer months assisted in the early ripening of the grapes and guaranteed a crop of excellent healthiness. Drip irrigation was employed in certain vineyards to avoid excessive stress on the plants. The constant, and customary, attention to the growth and development of the vines and grapes, along with careful and timely picking, assured the harvest of healthy grapes characterized by an excellent freshness, capable of producing a wine of much balance between acidity and alcohol. The picking of the Chardonnay for Bramìto began towards the second week of the month of August.
The must and the skins produced by the destemming and pressing were chilled to a temperature of 50° Fahrenheit (10° centigrade) and went into stainless steel tanks for a brief (two to four hour) period of maceration aimed at extracting from the skins all the elements responsible for the aromatic and flavour profile. The must was then fermented, partly in stainless steel and partly in barrel, at temperatures held to 61-64° Fahrenheit (16-18° centigrade); only the barrel-fermented part went through a malolactic fermentation. The various lots were then assembled in preparation for bottling.
The 2017 Bramìto shows a straw yellow colour. The nose is characterized by delicate white flower notes followed by light sensations of citrus fruit. The palate is crisp and with a good body, vigorous, and with pleasurable mineral notes which make the finish and aftertaste enjoyably savoury.
The Guado al Tasso estate is located some 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the southwest of the city of Florence near the medieval hamlet of Bolgheri. The property, approximately 2500 acres (1000 kilometers) in total size, extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the inland hills. It includes, in addition to 750 acres (300 hectares) of vineyards, terrain planted to the cultivation of wheat, barley, oats, and olive groves along with woods in which a herd of “cinta senesi” pigs, a prize local breed, roam and feed.
The 2015 vintage was characterized by abundant rainfall during the winter and by a dry and mild spring. The bud burst, notably earlier than in 2014, was followed by an equally precocious flowering. The first part of summer saw an important rise in temperatures, which came back into balance during the second half of the month of August, assisting the grapes to achieve a perfect state of ripeness. The harvest began in early September and lasted all the way through the first ten days of October.
The grapes which were selected came from a range of vineyard plots which extend over some 200 acres (80 hectares) and express the typical characteristics of the Bolgheri production zone. The fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and lasted from 10 to 15 days at temperatures between 82° and 86° Fahrenheit (28°-30° centigrade). A part of the Merlot and Syrah must was fermented at lower temperatures to better conserve varietal aromas. The malolactic fermentation took place partly in oak barrels and partly in stainless steel tanks and terminated for all the different grape varieties by the end of the year. The wine was then racked and went back into small oak barrels for a seven month ageing period, at the end of which it was bottled. Four months of bottle ageing preceded commercial release.
An intense ruby red in colour, the wine shows attractive and complex aromas of red berry fruit, sweet spices, and toasted coffee. The flavours are full, round, and have a good level of both balance and pleasure. It will be a vintage that is very capable of improving over time.
Prunotto was founded in 1904 by Alfredo Prunotto under the name Ai Vini delle Langhe. In 1989, the Marchesi Antinori family began its collaboration with the Prunotto Company, at first handling distribution and later getting directly involved in the production process, maintaining the excellent level of quality which Alfredo Prunotto had always insisted upon.
This wine comes from the Costamiòle vineyard in the township of Agliano with light-coloured clays rich in calcareous marl.
The 2017 vintage will be remembered for the hot climate and the scarce rainfall which characterized it. Winter saw mild weather with little snowfall, while the first part of springtime was marked by some precipitation and above average temperatures, factors which favored an early growth and development of the vine. Towards the end of the month of April, an abrupt fall in temperatures took place, with frost damage which struck, principally, the valley floors and the cooler parts of the hillside slopes. A lengthy period of fine weather then followed, which culminated in the high temperatures recorded during the summer months. A few isolated rainstorms during the month of August brought useful reserves of water to the soil, fundemental for the continuing of the ripening cycle. Temperatures descended significantly during the first week of September and helped create important temperature swings between daytime warmth and evening and nighttime coolness, thereby favoring the ripening of both the Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes. This was a vintage with an early harvest in which the vines were able to complete their entire cycle of growth in a positive way. The size of the crop was very low per acre. The picking of grapes began with the Moscato and Arneis on August 24th and was completed on September 24th with the Nebbiolo grapes.
The grapes were destemmed and pressed and then fermented on their skins for eight days at maximum temperatures of 28° centigrade (82° Fahrenheit). After being run off its skins, the wine were went through a complete alcoolic and malolactic fermentation before winter. The wine was then aged for several months in stainless steel tanks before bottling in the spring.
Prunotto Barbera D'Asti Fiulot is a vivid and intense ruby red in colour with a grapey and fruity (plum and cherry) aroma. Grapes grown on light and loose-textured soils and modern oenological techniques which enable producers to obtain and conserve fruit and freshness combine to make this a wine which is very pleasurable in its youth. For this reason it goes well with simple dishes such as hors d’oeuvres, soups, risotto, and pasta. The wine is most enjoyable at cool 13°-15° centigrade (55°-59° Fahrenheit) temperatures.
Passion, courage and trust in the enormous quality potential that Puglia, and especially the areas of Castel del Monte and Salento were able to express, inspired the Antinoris to invest in the region. The idea that, from the start, characterized Tormaresca's production philosophy was to produce great wines from indigenous varietals.
Made with Negroamaro from the Tormaresca estate, this wine takes its name from the manor farm accessible by a footpath that winds through pine forests and olive groves. The old manor house was built by the noble Capece family from Lecce and they named it after the small chapel standing outside its walls. This chapel, dedicated to Saint Pasquale in Maìme, was built to ensure that farmers who worked on the estate had a proper place to pray during the week when they were far away from home. Such traditions exemplify the values and pace of past lifestyles.
The grapes were harvested towards the end of September and were picked fully mature to bring out all the potential of their ripeness. After pressing, the must was fermented in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 26°-28°C. The period of skin contact lasted 15 days and used delicate pumping over and rack-and-return techniques in order to favor a gradual and balanced extraction. After being run off it skins, the wine went immediately into 60-gallon French oak barrels where it was put through a complete malolactic fermentation and then aged twelve months before bottling.
This wine is an intense ruby red colour with aromas of flowers (violet, rose), red fruit (black cherry, mulberry), spicy notes (liquorice, anise, cinnamon, cloves) . It has a dry and elegant flavour with balanced and smooth tannins.
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.
Fattoria dei Barbi extends over 300 hectares (around 750 acres) at Montalcino and Scansano. Stefano Cinelli Colombini, heir of the ancient Sienese line that has been present in Montalcino since 1352, runs this family property.
This red wine comes from the southern part of Tuscany and it is made mostly with Sangiovese - which locally is called “Morellino” - and 15% Merlot. The vineyards are located on a hill at 250 metres on the sea level not far from the Tyrrhenian Sea, with a very particular microclimate: long, sunny and bright days, cooler nights freshened by the sea breeze. All these factors contribute to a well structured and balanced wine with soft tannins and a very lively acidity. Even if the making of Morellino goes back centuries, its approach is very modern and vibrant.
Has a brilliant and intense ruby red appearance and an ample, persistent bouquet with plum and red berry tones. The palate is full and generous, with velvety tannins and a long finish.
Morellino is ideal for well-seasoned meat dishes, roasts, the grilled wild boar meat typical of Mediterranean cooking, cured pork, and especially flavourful cheeses. This wine breaks the rules in its own way, since it is an excellent companion for fish soups and in general any type of fish cooked with spices and tomato sauce.
We like this because it is a powerful yet velvety-smooth Tuscan wine from a fabled Brunello producer. The Merlot smoothes and tames the power of the Sangiovese and affords you SuperTuscan flavours at a fraction of usual SuperTuscan prices!
Awarded a Gold medal and 95 points at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2018 edition panel review of Tawny Port (see blue link below).
Having celebrated their 100th year of trading in 2013, Barros Port is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious companies producing and trading in Port. Much of their success comes from Colheita Ports - old Tawnies from a single year matured in cask for a minimum period of seven years.
Hand-harvested at their best moment, the grapes are destemmed, crushed and vinified in a careful maceration with extraction of colour, tannins and pellicle aromas, complemented by permanent pumping-over during fermentation. This process takes place in vats at a controlled temperature between 28-30ºC. At this phase grape brandy is added, creating a fortified wine. A wine of an exceptional quality, obtained by the selection of several harvests. It is matured in wood for variable periods of time and the age mentioned on the label is an average age of the different wines used in blending this port. This is instrumental in the wine expressing its character which is influenced by the ageing in oak casks.
With a brown-tawny colour, the nose is dense with dried fruit aromas, with delicate vanilla and chocolate notes. The soft and silky texture and the subtle nuances of wood are balanced by a fresh acidity which culminates with a long and elegant finish.
When served slightly chilled, it is the ideal choice to serve with appetizers like strong cheeses. The velvety texture and the aromatic expressions stand-out remarkably with main courses with dried fruits. Irresistible with pate as well as aubergine and nuts. Wonderful choice to serve with a myriad of delicious caramel brownies, chocolate and pistachio pavê and nuts crostini with goats cheese.
Bertani produces Recioto with two grapes grown in the hills of the Valpantena, the same varieties used to make Amarone. They use the smallest bunches with the best exposure to the sun, then dried on the traditional “arele”, bamboo racks, for about three months. The typical notes of cherry are brought out by the unusual ageing in cherry wood barrels and eventually become a concentration of morello and sour cherry. Recioto is dense and velvety but never cloying; it leaves the palate clean with an aftertaste of walnuts that makes it unique among sweet wines: sweet, intense red with elegant oak tannins.
From vineyards in the Valpantena sub-zone to the North of the city of Verona, in the communes of Quinto, Grezzana, and Santa Maria in Stelle. The soils range from calcareous marls in the east to iron-rich calcareous clays in the west. The harvest takes place at the end of September. As only pristine bunches are selected, the harvest is strictly by hand only.
The grapes are taken to the drying rooms where they rest in single-layer crates for about 150 days. Fermentation initially takes place at a very low temperature (4°-5°C) and then reaches 18°C, then it is stopped before all the sugars are transformed into alcohol. Ageing happens in 30-hl cherry wood casks, for about 12 months, followed by a period of at least three months of bottle maturation.
The wine has an intense ruby-red colour, with a multitude of aromas on the nose: from the typical notes of plum, cherry and raspberry to hints of vanilla spice, hay and cocoa. On the palate is full, fragrant and intense. The sugars are not high, leaving a long aftertaste of fruits of the forest, chocolate and liquorice. It goes well with cakes and jam tarts, it is intriguing when paired with young and medium-matured cheeses as well as candied fruit. It also goes tremendously well with chocolate.
The Griffith area is internationally renowned for producing some of the best Botrytis affected wines, with its luscious, honeyed flavours of peach and apricot, which are well balanced by natural acidity.
The 2014 vintage was Awarded 96 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of New World Cabernet Sauvignons (see blue link below) in which it emerged as the runaway Number One.
Sourced from vineyards in the prized Terra Rossa region of Coonawarra: here the warm days are moderated by offshore breezes and the rich red loam over well-draining limestone soils are the foundations for Coonawarra's justified reputation for producing premium-quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
This Coonawarra beauty (97% Cab Sauv) has an intense, ripe berry bouquet with hints of chocolate and liquorice. The palate is brimming with crushed blackcurrant fruit flavours enhanced by subtle eucalyptus and mint notes characteristic of this region and is beautifully complemented by elegant French oak notes.
Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.
To see the winemakers notes for this wine, please click on the blue link below.