The first section of notes describe the wines for the initial tasting. Notes on the cellar wines follow.
Graham Beck Brut, South Africa(Majestic £14.00)
Treated to a generous 15-18 months of bottle ageing, Graham Beck was dubbed ‘President’s Choice’. It was served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and Barack Obama’s presidential win. You’ll see why in its elegant aromas of ripe lime that drift through a creamy mousse. It’s made in the same laborious ‘Traditional Method’ as Champagne. But it’s a snip of the price.
Almeida Garrett Chardonnay 2018 Portugal (Majestic £10.99)
You’ll find Portugal’s highest vineyards in Beira Interior. At this towering altitude, a nightly drop in temperature pauses grape development. They see a seemingly endless ripening period, packing full with layers of taste. With the vibrant summer sun on board, it’s where you’ll taste Portugal’s most complex white wines. Not even the ambitious Almeida Garrett would have predicted this brilliance. At first, you’ll taste peach, melon pear and apple. This is underlined by a subtle flintiness and a soft-yet-vibrant washing of textured spices and cream. It’s the perfect midsummer poultry partner.
Pecorino Terre di Chieti (Majestic £7.99)
Delicately fragrant, this delightful Italian white displays floral scents with balsamic hits of sage followed by flavours of tropical fruits and a clean mineral finish.
Saint Clair Marlborough Origin Pinot Gris Rosé 2018 (The Cave, Milford on Sea, ca. £10)
A delicious Rosé with flavours of fresh strawberries, poached pear and a fresh persistent finish. Winemaker: Kyle Thompson. Colour: watermelon blush; aroma: pink grapefruit, mixed warm summer berries and lemon blossom; palate: beautifully balanced wine with a juicy palate incorporating ripe watermelon, nashi pear, and pink grapefruit flavours. Ageing potential: perfect for drinking immediately, this Rosé will continue to deliver over the next two to three years. Winemaking: made from a blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir varieties. The fruit was machine harvested in the cool of the night in order to retain freshness and capture the fruit flavours. The grapes spent only a few hours on skins to extract the delicate flavour, aroma and colour and then carefully pressed. After settling the juice was fermented in 100 per cent stainless steel at cooler temperatures to retain fruit flavour and freshness. At the end of fermentation the wine was stabilised and carefully prepared for bottling. Awards: 3 STARS – Bob Campbell 2018
Pierrick Harang Cuvee Balthazar Syrah 2016 Vin de Pays D’Oc (Waitrose £10.99)
Great Syrah at a great price This wine has never disappointed and is really enjoyable to drink with a wide range of dishes. Australian or French? A deep, concentrated Syrah filled with bramble fruits, spices and floral notes. The palate is unctuous, deep with a touch of pepper on the finish. “Occitanian” at heart, this wine gives the Aussie shiraz a run for their money.
2016 Clos Venturi 1769 Corsican Red (Solent Cellar £18)
Clos Venturi sits at the foothills of Corsica’s mountains. This unique positioning coupled with biodynamic vineyard practices and careful winemaking this has resulted in a fantastic range of wines. The domaine uses different vats for fermenting and aging to preserve freshness and minerality and to allow the nuances of the Corsican terroirs and the indigenous grape varietals to fully express themselves. This red is a blend of Niellucciu (80%), Syrah and Sciaccarellu. The wine has rich and spicy notes of red and black berry fruit layered over hints of chocolate, brown spice and green pepper. The palate is robust yet elegant with silky tannins and flavours of black cherries and coffee and also a lovely herbal note. Pair to steak or Mediterranean inspired dishes.
Rioja Reserva Viña Ardanza 2009 La Rioja Alta (Majestic £9.99)
Year in, year out Viña Ardanza scoops 90+ point scores from the biggest critics. La Rioja Alta, one of the region’s top wineries, plucks every single grape by hand. This juice sees a luxurious 36 months in oak. These tricks bring an abundance of complexity to your glass. You’re in for oodles of sweet cherry, blackcurrant and vanilla flavours.
Rioja Reserva 2014 Beronia (Majestic ca. £12)
Bodegas Beronia is named after the Berones, a Celtic tribe who lived during the 3rd Century BC, in the area now known as Rioja Alta where the winery is based. Dos Maderas means ‘two woods’: the barrels used by the winery are made from both American and French oak. Deep ruby-maroon in colour, with plenty of density. The complex nose is dominated by cinnamon and clove notes, with hints of toasted bread. Plenty of warm fruit, sweet tannins, and a velvet texture. Drink with tapas of hard cheeses, Iberico ham, or embuchados.
These were the wines from the cellar:
2012 Ascension Torrontes, Argentina
Torrontes “makes terrifically fragrant, perfumed, yet rich and fruity wines” (Independent on Sunday). This aromatic, lime fresh beauty comes from Argentina’s highest vineyards, 1700 metres above sea level, where fruit is dazzlingly floral and fresh. Colour Pale greenish gold, Very floral with lightly honeyed grapefruit notes, Fresh, crisp lime fruit with notes of blossom and a zippy finish
2004 Fletcher Vineyard Villa Maria Riesling, Marlborough, NZ
The Fletcher Vineyard is planted on stony soils in the middle of the Wairau Plains of Marlborough. The management of the vineyard includes extensive hand manicuring and a devotion to detail by Colin and Chris Fletcher. This unique and distinguished site consistently provides wine of pedigree and harmony. This wine was made in the Germanic Spatlese style. Only when ripe flavours had developed we decided on hand harvesting selective bunches and whole bunch pressing. Only the finest juice was cool fermented ensuring the retention of the perfumed aromatics. Alluring aromas of lemon, grapefruit and orange blossom characterize the bouquet. Achieving natural acidity balance the fermentation was stopped before dryness. The sweetness and acidity dance constantly on the palate presenting an initial softness and roundness with length and finesse.
2012 Domaine du Tariquet Classic, Cotes de Gascogne IGP.
Varieties: Ugni blanc 45%, Colombard 35%, Sauvignon 10%, Gros Manseng 10%. ‘In the past, all that mattered was the wine making process but over the years, we have gradually learned to make wine that is an honest expression of the vineyard.’ Yves Grassa, winemaker. Superbly intense for a dry fruity white, its bouquet reveals floral and citrus aromas with nice touches of tropical fruit. Light and well-balanced, this wine is a thirst-quenching pleasure. Always have a bottle in the fridge door, just in case….
2011 Bodegas Terras Gauda La Mar, Caino Blanco DO Rias Baixas Spain.
Superb “Albarino on steroids”. Deep yellow, nose a little dumb but vibrant on the palate – rich honeysuckle, peach, citrus tang, big mouthfeel and very long – only 5 hectares of this grape planted in Spain.
2015 Mud House Pinot Gris, Marlborough, NZ
We tasted the 2008 in 2016 and it was very good, off-dry and rich and honeyed with touches of the Alsace richness – so worth laying down. Bright straw-yellow colour with light golden hues, lighter on the rim. This has a softly fresh and gentle, ethereal nose of pears, yellow stonefruits, lifted exotic rose-petal florals and nuances of spice and honey. The aromatics build in density and reveal mineral detail in the glass. Dryish to taste and medium-full bodied, the palate has weight and presence, the restrained flavours of white and yellow stonefruits forming a positive core. The wine flows along a smooth-textured line, with soft, integrated acidity lending freshness. Some honeysuckle and floral elements emerge and are carried by underlying alcohol power through to a nuanced floral and stonefruit finish. This is a gently flavoured, smooth, dryish Pinot Gris with stonefruit, floral and honeyed notes. Fruit from growers in the Awatere and Wairau Valleys, tank-fermented with a portion in old French oak barriques to 13.5% alc. and 5.3 g/L RS, the wine aged on light lees.
2014 Bolney Vineyard Bacchus
Tasted at vineyard – interesting, has had some French oak – more mouthfill than usual for Bacchus.
2014 Setley Ridge Medium Dry Muscat/Seyval Blanc
NV Antinori Donato, Tuscany
Donato Antinori, Vino Santo, Italy (sweet). A famous Tuscan dessert wine, made from dried grapes, from the historic house of Antinori. It has a relatively deep colour and is intensely nutty, with a lovely sweet but crisp finish. It is traditionally drunk with amaretti biscuits, but can easily be partnered with summer fruits or creamy puddings.
2014 Tbilvino Qvevris Rkatsiteli, Georgia
A dry, gently-textured and quince-flavoured wine, this intriguing white is something well out of the ordinary. Produced in Eastern Georgia, this is an amphorae wine using an ancient and traditional maturation method unique to the region. About this bottle: The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in large clay jars known as Qvevri that are buried in the earth for several months, developing the wine’s rich, unique style. Marks & Spencer winemaker Jeneve Williams was inspired by the unique style of this wine during her Eastern Mediterranean travels and worked with the local winemakers to create this fascinating blend and floral character.
2005 Mitolo G.A.M. Shiraz
For a winery only established in 1999, and dedicated to hand-crafted wines, MITOLO has consistently been a revelation says Robert Parker. ‘G.A.M’ Shiraz 2005 McLaren Vale Robert Parker 95 points. 2005 was an excellent vintage. After a wet winter and cool spring the vines were in very good health. Mild summer temperatures allowed canopies to be maintained right up until vintage time, with minimal irrigation, which resulted in an excellent and even ripening period. This meant a long hang time and the fruit was harvested in great condition. The grapes came from the Willunga district at the southern end of the McLaren Vale, and yield was 2.3 tonnes per acre. Each parcel of fruit was fermented on skins for 10 days at cool and warm temperatures in 2 tonne fermentation vessels after which the wine was pressed and underwent partial barrel fermentation. Aged for 16 months in 70% new oak. A blend of 80% French and 20% French coopered American oak are used in the Mitolo oak regime. A dense ruby/purple colour, it possesses layers of dried spice, coffee, blackcurrant, and the wine displays fullness, freshness, and seamless oak integration. Drink now and over the next 8-10 years.
MITOLO HISTORY: Mitolo Wines is a family owned company, which was established by Frank and Simone Mitolo. Their vision was to create individual and handcrafted wines which are built on passion and uncompromising commitment to quality. Frank’s Italian heritage provided him with an early introduction to wine appreciation and winemaking, while his roots are rich in horticultural history spanning three generations. G.A.M. represents the first initial of each of the Mitolo children’s first names – Gemma, Alex and Marco. The G.A.M. Shiraz comes from the Chinese Block vineyard which is located in the Willunga district at the southern end of McLaren Vale. The soils, which are heavy grey loam soils over sandstone, intermixed with blacked with a maritime climate, contribute to an even ripening period and the development of rich fruit flavours and ripe tannins. Vines are of an average age of 20 years old. Harvest commenced on 18th March 2005.
Vintage 2005: After a reasonably wet winter, the vines burst well with good early shoot growth. Mild summer temperatures allowed canopies to be maintained right up until vintage time, with minimal irrigation, which resulted in an excellent and even ripening period. Overall the quality was good particularly for Cabernet and Shiraz. Winemaking Each parcel of fruit for G.A.M. was fermented on skins for 10 days at cool and warm temperatures. The cool temperature assists in making the finished wine more approachable and the warm temperature gives more structure. G.A.M. uses a blend of the two.
Tasting Notes: A dense ruby/purple color. It possesses layers of dried spice, coffee, black currant and the wine displays fullness, freshness and seamless oak integration.
Wine Advocate #167 (Oct 2006) Robert Parker 95 points Drink 2006-2016 $46.00 Fashioned from a McLaren Vale vineyard, the 2005 Shiraz G.A.M. (named after the Mitolo children – Gemma, Alexander, and Marco) is a deep ruby/purple-hued effort displaying beautiful blackberry, white pepper, licourice, and toasty oak notes. Rich, full-bodied, and intense, with blueberry and blackberry flavours, sweet tannin, and excellent purity, it is a tour de force in winemaking. Enjoy it over the next decade. Dense, purple ink with subdued aromas of muscular darkfruit, anise, and mild spice. Full nectar, sturdy tannins, with rich and concentrated blackfruit. The finish is long with brisk acidity and a touch of oak. Cellar for another two years. Deep purple in colour. Anise, anise, and anise on the nose. Dense black fruit and licourice on the palate. Finish was extremely long and supple. Tannins were present, but definitely overpowering. Still, a powerful wine at this stage and would be a great pair for a thick slab of meat. The finish was the best part of the wine, and holds promise for greater things from this wine with a few years of cellaring..
Jancis Robinson 17.5/20 – “I loved this dense, exciting wine that is thoroughly enveloping in its thick, ripe, Willunga fruit but also manages to have lift and life to it too. No excess of sweetness.
2008 Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon, S Australia
A Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Red Table wine from South Australia. Oct 2010 Lisa Perrotti-Brown 90 Drink: 2011 – 2019. The fruit for Jim Barry’s 2008 Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon comes from 50% Clare Valley and 50% Coonawarra. Deep garnet-purple coloured, it gives pronounced aromas of eucalyptus, warm blackberry and crushed blueberries with some cinnamon and cloves plus a whiff of cedar. Medium to high acid and a medium to high level of finely grained tannins support the ample flesh in the mid palate of this full bodied style. The finish is long and minty. Approachable now, it should be best 2011 to 2018. Jim Barry continually gives great value at the -entry- level and I have yet to see any compromises even in the difficult vintages.
2010 Ch. Jouaninel Fronton Negrette/Cabernet Franc
The Negrette grape is the signature of the Fronton region, origins in Greece, E Med., Thought to have been brought to France by St Jean de Jerusalem on return from the Crusades. Heady and aromatic, offering notes of liquorice and blackcurrant leaf against a backdrop of ripe bramble fruit. Firm tannins surround ripe fresh berry flavours on the palate.
2013 Caleo Nero D’Avola, Sicily
Nice soft easy-drinking N D’A for early drinking
2006 Argiolas Costera IGT Cannonau
A Cannonau Dry Red Table wine from Sardinia, Italy. Antonio Galloni 90 points. The 2006 Costera Isola dei Nuraghi (100% Cannonau) is another knock-out effort from Argiolas. It reveals masses of super-ripe fruit bacon fat and licourice flavors. Today the fruit remains enshrouded in a wall of tannins so a year or two of further bottle age is called for, but this is a magnificent wine especially at this level. Cannonau is believed to be a descendant of Grenache and this wine will especially appeal to readers who enjoy the flavour profile of wines from the Southern Rhone. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2014. Argiolas is a reference-point producer of Sardinian whites, reds and dessert wines. The estate works with famed oenologist Giacomo Tachis, who happens to be a native of Sardinia, so perhaps the high level of the wines should not be that much of a surprise.
2015 Yealands Estate Awatere Pinot Noir Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 – Matthew Jukes Special
Matthew Jukes Money Week 3/2/17: “My featured wine is the star. In spite of the number of Pinot Noirs made in New Zealand, very few Kiwis can make stunning Pinot Noir at fifteen quid. I know this because I have tasted every single version sold in the UK. This one is the best.” . Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2016 ‘Open Red Wine Trophy’. From a single vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough. A bright, ruby hued wine with aromas of black cherry, violets, oak and savoury spice on the nose. A fleshy palate with bright raspberry and plum, spice, silky tannins and oak complimenting the sweet fruit and ripe tannins. Really good and classic Marlborough Pinot in the best way. Good food wine- lamb, duck including Asian style duck dishes.
2004 Marques de Vargas Reserva
Feb 2008 Jay Miller 90 points Drink: 2011 – 2020. The 2004 Reserva, composed of 75% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha, and 10% other varietals, spent 23 months in French, Russian, and American oak. Medium dark ruby-coloured, it offers an excellent bouquet of cedar, spice box, black cherry, and blackberry. This leads to an elegant, complex, medium to full-bodied wine with excellent depth, balance, and length. It will evolve for 3-4 years and drink well through 2020. Vineyard Notes—-Deep intense black cherry colour with violet rims, complex aromas with hints of leather and ripe fruit flavour, rich in alcohol and powerful, elegant tannins adds gamey, earthy notes to the ripe crushed berries, concentrated and well balanced, this wine can be savoured immediately or stored for later enjoyment.