(2018) In Côte-Rôtie, one of the most famous appellations of the Rhône Valley, it is very common for winemaker to blend just a touch of the fragrant white wine grape, Viognier, with Syrah, and Matt Thomson has performed the same trick here with Grüner-Veltliner, to add a little aromatic lift. The result is another firm, really rather European-style from Blank Canvas, pepper, liquorice and black cherry aromatics with a touch of cedarwood too. On the palate this has plenty of grip and edge – it’s a brisk, fairly lean and muscular style, the fruit is very good in a dry, savoury, pepper-edged style that cries out for some winter venison, roasts or slow-braised beef dishes. On offer at time of review at £21.95.
(2018) This Syrah from the always impressive Craggy Range spent 17 months in French oak barrels, 26% of which were new. Deep crimson and glossy, there's a refined fragrance, violet, delicate kirsch and a sprinkle of white pepper, just a sheen of balsamic oak there too. In the mouth the substance of the wine comes through powerfully, with a dark sinewy and savoury fruit, a real liquorice and endive grip to the tannins and acidity, and a long, fruity but meaty and umami finish. Note: price and stockist at time of writing is for the 2013 vintage.
(2018) A Bordeaux blend from the Gimblett Gravels,Te Kahu 2014 is 68% Merlot. Very fine graphite and delicate cigar-box nose, discreet but intense and pure black fruits, a very classic but obviously ripe style that's very inviting. In the mouth it really is a lovely wine: balanced but plush, there's plenty of sweet cassis fruit, but that savoury, umami sense of meatiness and the swirl of smokiness is elegant and classy. Please note, stockist and price is for the 2013 vintage at time of review.
(2018) Sixteen months in French and Hungarian oak for this Syrah, a big-scaled wine with 14.5% alcohol declared on the label and plenty of meat and substance. Having said that, aromatics are good, not only deep plum fruit and some taut, graphite-like character, but a hint of lifted cherry and florals too. In the mouth it is smooth and silky, the weight of fruit, creamy tannins and integrated cherry-pit acidity balancing nicely.
(2018) There's also 4% Cabernet Franc joining the 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Sauvignon in this premium wine from Te Awa, fermented with native yeasts then aged for 18 months in French oak. Ripe, dense fruit dominates here. Yes, there's a glossy slick of creamy oak, but it is blackcurrant and black plum, and a touch of balsamic that drives the aromas. On the palate an umami savouriness is nicely done, the foundation for ripe but tangy and tart-edged black fruits, the acidity giving an edge along with a roughening grip of tannin from the fruit and barrel. Quite long, that savoury, meaty character is appealing.
(2014) Sixteen months in French oak for this cuvée, 25% of it new. There's also 3% Viognier in the blend. Fantastic rich juiciness and firmness that is deliciously poised and grippy, with a touch of herbaceous rosemary. Lots of lovely tang and black cherry, firm fruity notes, with brightness and spicy, tight flavour and bite. Long, savoury, and yet with abundant fruit depth.
(2014) Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, basically the second wine of Sophia, from the same Gimblett Gravels soils. It sees 28% new oak and spends 13 months in barrel. Voluptuous, chocolate-rich stuff, delicious warmth and earthiness, but also superb sweet fruit and intensity. Smooth, effortlessly chocolaty tannins but just enough rustic charm, with really nice agility. 91
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