Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2017 edition review of Margaret River (Australia) (see blue link below).
Cullen Wines is a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, with their philosophy summed up in three simple words; ‘Quality, Integrity and Sustainability’. It is one of the oldest and most awarded family wineries in Wilyabrup, in Western Australia’s famous Margaret River region. First established in 1971 by Dr Kevin and Diana Cullen and now run by their daughter Vanya, the winery has built an outstanding reputation for fine certified biodynamic wines that receive critical national and international acclaim. All wines produced are sourced from grapes grown on the Cullen and adjoining Mangan Estates. Both are certified biodynamic, to allow the soil to be nurtured and the wines to reflect their sense of place.
Fruit is sourced exclusively from the Cullen Vineyard. The soils are old, granite and gravely sandy loam, overlaying lateritic subsoils. The vineyard is certified biodynamic and vines are dry-farmed. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are trained on a Lyre trellis due to their high vigour giving a great area for the leaves and fruit to grow on and enabling fruit to reach proper physiological ripeness.
2015 presented excellent growing conditions. From October to March weather was mostly dry with little rainfall. A warm ripening period resulted in fruit arriving at the winery in superb condition. Good rains enhanced the growing season with luckily no rainfall at all during the harvest period. Low yields and ideal ripening have resulted in elegant and perfumed wines of great purity.
The fruit was hand-harvested, and barrel-fermented using natural yeasts, with no acid additions and limited fining. 74% of the wine was aged in new French oak for five months, adding complexity and depth to the wine.
This wine shows a delightful combination of fresh cut grass, spicy and vanillin oak aromas supported by tropical notes. Vibrant fruit flavours are lifted by citrus notes. A very complex wine with lovely stone fruit nuances and toasty characteristics.
Deep ruby red in colour with perfumes of red rose petals and dried cherries giving way to a dark, black cherry and spice character on the palate with rounded tannins and a characteristic bitter twist. Sweet and luscious but not cloying, it has dried fruit and cinnamon perfumes on the finish.
Produced from a selection of the best grapes from Abadia Retuerta's vineyards, this deep coloured, complex red combines the richness of Tempranillo, the elegance of Cabernet Sauvignon and the strength of Syrah. The nose is fresh and vibrant, full of ripe black and red fruits combined with lingering notes of balsamic, liquorice and sweet oak wood. The full bodied, creamy palate is structured by smooth tannins, juicy ripe fruits and a hint of cedar. 2011 was one of AbadÃa Retuerta's best ever vintages, delivering a style of wine that can be drunk with pleasure right now or left to develop further complexities over the next few years.
Intense ruby red with a bouquet of red cherries, spice and vanilla. Full bodied on the palate, warming, fruit-forward with juicy cherries and a floral twist.
Achaval Ferrer's entry level wine is an outstanding ambassador for the Malbec grape.
Deep ruby red in colour, with perfumes of cherry and black forest gateau. This wine has good body and an ageing potential of at least ten years. It has a smooth and velvety character, with mature, pulpy fruit character and delicious raisin flavours.
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 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.
The previoius (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). The 2014 is of excellent - probably better - quality in our view.
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.
One of the best harvests in recent years, the grapes in 2013 enjoyed gradual ripening thanks to excellent sunlight rather than heat.
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.
Deep and intense on the nose with perfumes of dried cherries and blueberries, with notes of spiced autumn fruit compote. On the palate it is powerful but modern, with a lovely balance of ripe tannins and spiced, concentrated savoury cherry fruit character. A touch of woodsmoke completes the long finish.
Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).
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. 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 216 hectares, of which 40 were planted between 1996 and 1999.
Grapes were harvested by hand with delicate and conscious bunch selection. The de-stemmed berries were loaded by gravity to allow a gentle breaking of skins. During fermentation very gentle treatment was used to avoid over extraction. The juice was fermented using native yeast. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted Foudres (wooden casks) for 18 months, and six months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure no interference with the quality of the wine.
A brilliant, purple-red in colour with an enticing nose of flowers, ripe red and black fruits mixed with subtle notes of graphite and flint stone. The complexity of the nose develops further with time and air. The palate is creamy with good depth and softness. Fresh, juicy red fruit flavours abound with round, firm tannins and a backbone of well-integrated acidity. A balanced, complex and long-lasting finish.
The Amalaya wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them.
This is Amalaya's flagship wine. The fruit (90% Malbec, 5% Tannat, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) for this single vineyard speciality comesf rom the San Isidro vineyard located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley. At 1800 metres above sea level, it is 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 temperature difference of around 20°C. The soils 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. After careful sorting by hand at the winery, the grapes were barrel fermented in new French oak for 60 days. Malolactic fermentation took place and once complete, the wine was then aged in French oak for a period of 12 months.
The wine itself is deep and intense in colour. Black fruit and spices on the nose, with floral undertones. Well-balanced, the palate is complex and full-bodied with fine grained tannins.
The Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon lend ageing potential to this wine, and it should improve for at least 8-10 years.
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 estates' vineyards 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 temperature difference 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. The average age of the vines is 35 years old. They are trained using both pergola and vertical shoot positioning and planted at a density of 2,700 plants per hectare and 3,800 plants per hectare respectively.
The grapes were crushed after both a cluster and berry selection at the winery and then cooled to 8°C with a maceration period at 10°C for three days. Alcoholic fermentation took place at temperatures of around 24°C for approximately 21 days. Malolactic fermentation and ageing took place in both American and French oak barrels of which 20% was new and 80% second use. The wine was aged for a total of 12 months in barrel before bottling.
This wine is deep purple in colour. There are aromas of red and black fruit with spicy notes, typical to the region. A concentrated, complex and elegant wine full of fruit with round tannins. The aftertaste is long and delicate.
Awarded 91 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).
Andeluna was founded in 2003 by the late Ward Lay whose family had interests in many industries and companies including Frito-Lay and Pepsico. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best sub-regions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. At an altitude of 1,300 metres the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Their winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Enologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers making outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the world spotlight in a very short space of time.
The grapes come from the vineyard located in Tupungato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The area is characterised by its great diurnal temperature swings, which encourages aromatic expression and a great intensity of colour in the wine.
100% Malbec. Grape clusters were hand selected prior to vinifcation and underwent a prefermentation maceration at low temperatures. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at temperatures maintained at approximately 26°C. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for eight to 12 months, followed by six months in bottle, prior to release.
This is a full flavoured Malbec with intense aromas red fruits and violets combined with delicate hints of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Sweet fruit on the palate is backed by soft, but high volume tannins which give the wine a long and exquisite finish.
Outstanding. The wine exhibits a straw colour and subtle vanillin and spice aromas are noticeable in the aromatics, a creamy texture, admirable finesse and complexity and a surprisingly fat concentration and length.