(2023) From leading organic producer in Chile, Emiliana, this is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley. It was fermented in concrete tanks with punch downs, then aged in concrete eggs for five months with the skins. A very pleasing nose here. Arguably not as 'wild' as some orange wine examples, a clear and juicy orange and peach, just a little purple fig character and nuttiness too. In the mouth it once again walks a line between classic Sauvignon Blanc and something more unusual. Bittersweet Seville orange and fig again, the tannins adding a little grip and the acid tangy adding a lemon pith bite to the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2023) A blend here, of 90% Assyrtiko with Aidani and Athiri, this is still textbook Assyrtiko to me. Made in stainless steel followed by nine months on its lees in clay vessels, it is fermented with wild yeasts. So much herbal character, with sage and small dill notes over salty, lemony fruit. A little earthy note is a reminder of the wild ferment. Textural in the mouth, a gently chewy character to the fruit that shows plenty of zest but some ripeness and succulence too. Quite long, savoury, and satisfying.
(2023) From 70- 80-year-old vines, where the root system is believed to be over 300 years old, 10% of the blend is made up of Athiri and Aidani. Fermented in large, second-use oak barrels, it stays on the lees for 16 months, with some batonnage. There's a creamy and custardy aspect to the aroma, plenty of nutty oak evident, but then that mineral salts character comes through, along with ripe apple and pear. In the mouth there's plenty of presence, with a really tangy oranges and lemons fruit and acid, something a little bit flinty and herbal - maybe sage - then a long, quite rich and full finish where the acidity is perfectly balanced.
(2023) It's hard to argue with Justerini's Champagne buyer, Julian Campbell, when he says: "It’s a hard act to beat at this price." From a sixth-generation winemaker whose family farm nine hectares of Pinot Noir in the Montagne de Reims, it's a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay. Crucially however, there are around 50% of reserve wines in the blend, and it spends a full 30 months on the lees so the style is toasty and rich. Nuttiness, brioche and a lovely yeasty development join crisp green apple on the nose. In the mouth, the mousse is cushioning but fresh, the the citrus brightness of the fruit and acidity cuts through those buttery, nutty layers of development. A very fine Champagne at a good price.
(2023) This is a Cabernet Franc from the limestone slopes of Saumur in the central Loire that slips down very easily. There's glossy black cherry and blackcurrant pastille ripeness, but a hint of the savoury side of Cab Franc that adds a peppery, tapenade touch. It has a smoothly juicy, succulent black fruit palate, and while the acid is brisk and the tannins chalky but firm, the overall picture is really nicely balanced and the wine is so approachable. It should have broad appeal. Watch the video for more information.
(2023) This Etna white is 100% Carricante, from vineyards at 700 metres. It is unoaked, but does spend time on lees before bottling. Malolactic has been blocked here too, adding to the freshness of this straw-lemon coloured wine. Though not particularly aromatic, the subtle notes of citrus and pear, also have just a suggestion of something flinty and mineral. In the mouth it is fleet if foot with only 12.5% alcohol, and though lemon and crunchy apple drives this, there is a nice and decisive punch to the wine, a light suggestion of smokiness and pithy lemon and grapefruit adding some complexity. The finish shows a little salt, mingling with juicy lemon. €22 in Italy.
(2023) A Sicilia DOC Nerello Mascalese from vineyards at 400 metres, bush vines that lie just outside the Etna DOC boundary. This spends around nine months in French oak and a further six in bottle before release. A pale ruby to tawny colour, this is so transparent in the glass that you could read your newspaper through it. Aromtaically not giving a huge amount, though herbs and cherry start to come through with swirling, a warm clove spice hint too. In the mouth it is dry and firm, showing less fruit than the 'Sublime', a more twiggy and herbal character. Acid and moderate tannins do balance, in a wine that just needs more fruit and just a touch more joie de vivre to really hit home. €24 in Italy.
(2023) 100% Nerello Mascalese from vineyards at 600 metres, these are 100-year-old bush vines. The wine was matured in French oak for 18 months, with a further six in bottle. The colour is again so transparent and light, but also with quite mahogany tint to the red of the core. Woody, tobacco and balsamic aromas are spicy rather than fruity, and a glimpse of fragrant old roses is unexpected and charming. In the mouth there is sweet fruit, a sour cherry character with more of those tobacco-like, soft and spicy characters. It is dry, the tannin quite gentle but present and the acidity again echoing that sour cherry. Intriguing, natural feeling and enjoyable. No UK stockists listed at time of review. €26 in Italy.
(2023) L.T.S stands for 'Long Term Storage', this having spent 12 years maturing in the Legras & Haas cellars. Disgorged December 2020, only 1000 bottles were released of this Blanc de Blancs from Grand Cru vineyards in Chouilly, the dosage being 3.5g/l. It has a golden hue and attractive, developed aromas of bruised pear and apple, a honeyed note, moving into preserved lemon and a certain meatiness. In the mouth it is quite full and sapid, but the streaking citrus maintains a very fine line into the finish. No UK stockists listed at time of review.
(2023) A blend of the three main Champagne grapes, though dominated by Chardonnay, this is a typically fresh and dry wine from Legras & Haas. It is not without fruit, elegance or charm. A fine, foamy mousse reveals plenty of sour lemon and lime, mouthwatering fruit and a long, delicately saline finish. Nice touch of creaminess to the texture.