(2019) A single estate wine made from the Cortese grape, this comes from Banfi's vineyards in Piedmont. It's a gentle wine, opening with soft and discreet notes of yellow plum and pear, a touch of lime perhaps. In the mouth there's a sweet concentration of fruit, and a very good, vibrant, tangy bite of juicy lime fruit and acidity, a touch of green apple too into a lingering, fruit-dominated finish. I was given an RRP of £17.99 for this, but at its sub-£15 price it's a better proposition.
(2019) Neither is a grape you think of immediately for sparkling wine, but coming from Bordeaux here we have the entirely local blend of Sémillon and Cabernet Franc from the chalk/clay soils of the Entre Deux Mers, and made by the traditional method with nine months ageing on the lees in bottle. Bubbles are moderately small, and the nose offers a nice biscuity character along with soft lemon and green apple fruit. In the mouth it is fresh and zippy, reminiscent of a Prosecco with its easy approachability, but the ageing does add a creamy layer before a smooth finish, framed by soft-ish acidity. An alternative to Prosecco, rather than to Champagne. A party buy - especially if there are discount deals on this for Christmas. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) There's no such thing as a poor vintage of Yquem, such is the care taken over the fruit selection and winemaking in even the worst vintage conditions, but although this 2002 is not rated as a 'top' Yquem, I thought it was absolutely outstanding. Loaded with smoky, dried apricot depths of Botrytis, there's also lovely exotic spice and marmalade/Seville orange brightness of fruit. More of that on the palate too, in an Yquem of great depth, burgeoning with bittersweet flavours that entirely fill the senses, and yet great freshness too, pinpoint and clear acidity leads into an extremely long finish. Marvellous and totally satisfying.
(2019) A blend of 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Pinot Meunier, this seems meatier, less overtly summer berry fruity than the 2009 on the nose, but the palate shows dazzling acidity that seems more taut than the 2012. Really good intensity, thrust and focus here. Long, shimmering grapefruit zest acidity gives this real vitality too.
(2019) There is 50% Pinot Noir in this blend, Chardonnay having dominated previous vintages, with 36% Chardonnay and a relatively low 14% of Meunier. A powerful wine, this also spent seven years in the cellars before release. Real salinity, yeast and biscuit, candied lemon and lime. Lovely sweetness on the mid-palate, the thrust of citrus and salt surge through to the finish.
(2019) Deep and meaty aromas compared to the 2009, rounder, less sharply - crisply - lemony, but there is good thrust and fruit precision too, quite a bright orange character, then some delicate toast and spices. The blend is 41% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 26% Pinot Meunier. Excellent potential here if cellared for a few years.
(2019) Quite a deeply coloured rosé, lovely red fruits, summery raspberry and strawberry, strawberry shortcake, then the gorgeous freshness and zip comes through on the palate. Creamy mid-palate and that dazzling orangy freshness. The blend is 42% Pinot Noir (of which 13% of the total blend is red wine), 23% Pinot Meunier and 35% Chardonnay.
(2019) I've often found the Verdjo wines from the Rueda region in northern Spain to be a bit too imitatative of New World Sauvignon Blanc, but here Ramón Bilbao is trying to do something different with the grape and the region. Made from the estate's oldest vines, it was fermented in concrete 'tulip-shaped' vats then aged in French and Hungarian oak, with regular batonnage. That has resulted in an obvious creaminess on the nose (unexpected in Rueda Verdejo), subtle nut and honey notes to tropical fruit with a more subdued elderflower and passion fruit character. In the mouth the sweet ripeness of the fruit is the first impression, but that nutty and creamy underpinning of both flavour and texture adds an extra layer. Acidity is well-judged, a gentle lime and red apple presence to extend the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2019) 2015 experienced a sunny and dry growing season, the hot summer mitigated by intense August rainfalls that provided ideal conditions for uniform, stress-free ripening. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot with a yield of 35 hl/ha, and aged 24 months in barriques, 85% of which were new. A robust, firm character on the nose, plenty of polished oak, dark and liquorice character. The tannins are firm and very grippy at this stage, a big structural wine, the tannin and acid framework a touch angular right now, though softening notes or spices and obvious fruit concentration suggest it would be best approached in another five years perhaps.
(2019) A slightly warmer than usual spring with well-distributed and regular rainfall, the pattern following through into summer giving homogenous ripening. Slightly lower yields of 30 hl/ha compared to 2015, again a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, with 24 months in barriques, 85% new. Gorgeous perfume, some floral notes, also a pleasing edge of game and bloodiness that adds a lovely layer of complexity. Such deliciously sweet fruit, and while that sour cherry acidity and the steely core of tannin is there, there is a supple, slightly more feminine character that drinks beautifully. Will cellar 10 years+