(2022) Part of a range called 'Gentle Riot' in Laithwaites, wines that are "not constrained by traditional winemaking techniques in order to provide a holistic approach to sustainable winemaking," and low SO2 to boot. It is in fact 100% merlot from the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Lots of plum, ripe cherry and plum fruit on the nose, just a hint of something leafy in the background, but very much fruit-driven. In the mouth it has undertones of tobacco and spices, but a surge of thick, sweet fruit powers through the mid-palate. With 14.5% alcohol it is a big-scaled wine this and not for the Bordeaux traditionalist, equally chunky tannins and juicy cherry acidity matching up to the fruit density and alcohol.
(2022) From limestone soils, the aromas are pert, firm and juicy, fresh and forward black fruits and some lifted florals and spices. The palate has lots of cherry and blackcurrant skin tang and cut, plenty of acidity and freshness here, a little bittersweet cocoa note, but very crunchy and fresh.
(2022) A ripe and chunky right bank Bordeaux, blending 50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and 10% Malbec. Castillon lies east of Saint-Émilion, with similar soils of limestone, gravel and clay. This has a nicely savoury tapenade character to firm, dark black fruit. In the mouth there's quite an expansive fruit core here, plummy and chocolaty, the tannins are fat and ripe too, and the acidity balances nicely in a very satisfying glass of typically right bank Bordeaux at a knock-down price really. It will also cellar for a few more years for sure. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) Made by the winemaking team at Margaux third growth, Château Giscours, this appellation Bordeaux red is 70% Merlot with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Now with five years under its belt, there's a gentle pink rim to the ruby colour and very attractive aromas of spiced plum compote, with some classy cedar and a depth of fruit. A very pleasing wine in the mouth too, lots of juicy plum and black cherry, firm tannins and keen cherry-skin acidity give enough bite and structure, against the suppleness of the fruit.
(2021) Sourced from Saint-Émilion and neighbouring appellations, this is made by Johnathan Maltus, perhaps best known for his super Right Bank 'garage wine', 'Le Dôme'. This Merlot-dominated blend has smooth, concentrated aroma of plums and blackcurrant, an elegant little hint of Sandalwood spice in the background. It's a big, caressing mouthful of luscious Merlot on the palate, with very sweet and soft tannins, but a little liquorice twist of bittersweetness from the acid, oak and tannin does give a pert, fresh finish too. With 14.5% alcohol it is ripe and full, a bit of a contrast to the Petite Sirène, but really rather delicious.
(2020) From the Côtes de Castillon, neighbouring Saint-Émilion on the 'Right Bank' of Bordeaux, and a typical blend dominated by Merlot along with Cabernet Franc. This is a big, ripe, even slightly Porty style of wine with 15% alcohol, very much in the plush and modern 'garagiste' style. Saturated and dark, it is brimming with sweet black fruit, a chocolaty density and yet very good savoury aspects thanks to a little oak spice, firm creamy tannins and good acids. An impressive 'entry level' wine from this producer.
(2019) The colour is deep and saturated, the nose offering plummy aromas, a touch of dark chocoalte and a little highlight of brighter cherry. In the mouth the wine is dense and feels quite powerful, and yet is driven by its fruit and rich texture, both tannins and acidity good, but in the background, giving the wine a creamy sense of richness.
(2019) The first vintage from Adrien Surain, the latest generation of the family to take over the reins of the estate, this is boldly packaged in a Burgundy-shaped bottle, no doubt meant to disrupt the classic Bordeaux scene as much as the name 'Popcorn'. A powerful wine with 15% alcohol, it has an intensely deep and dark crimson/black colour, the nose vinous with black vine fruits and plum, a nicely spicy tobacco edge too. In the mouth it is smooth and dense, but does seem to have a little edge of tannin and acidity to give a touch more structure, a touch more energy compared to the 2015 for example, a twist of liquorice joining the plummy dark fruits.
(2019) Again, 100% Merlot for this vintage, and an appealing nose, the touch of spicy-chocolate to the ripe, dark vine fruits, is there a hint of charred toast there too? Quite plush and ripe on the palate, the tannins a tiny bit grippier than the 2015, giving a crisp edge to the finish, perhaps just a little extra length too with fresh acidity. Enjoyably honest and fruit-forward.
(2017) I have previously enjoyed the 2009 vintage of this Cru Bourgeois wine from the Médoc, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, that has good, intense fruit event nine years on, currant and plum and a spicy richness. In the mouth the ripeness is apparent, a hint of lush, sweet red berries, but then classic left-bank firmness of tannins and the stripe of acidity give the finish a taut, if very slightly lean appeal.