(2019) A blend Of 90% Assyrtiko with 10% of Athiri and Aidani from Artemis Karamolegos, this is a superb example of Santorini at its best. Flooded with fruit, but also basil and lime leaf, and that salty ozone lick of the seaside. I am not sure if there is any oak here, but there is a nutty and natural/earthy sub-text that adds to the complexity. In the mouth it is vivid, vivacious and full-fruited, with that sweep of taut, saline acidity into its long finish.
(2019) From organic vineyards (certified) planted at altitude in the north of the mainland's Peloponnese peninsula, there's a vivid crimson colour here and an equally vivid aroma: red liquorice, cherry and a definite floral note, a touch of ash too. In the mouth it is a vivacious wine, those bright aromas transferred directly into flavour, so cherry and red fruits dominate, no oak, but a nicely tempered backbone of noteable acidity and tightly-grained tannins to give a supple, fresh appeal.
(2019) This was the first unoaked Xinomavro to on the market a decade ago, after several years of experimenting in how to tame the tannins of the Xinomavro variety. Decanter magazine obviously thinks they've managed that, awarding this vintage 93/100 and naming it one of their 50 'Most Exciting Wines of 2018'. Ruby in colour, there's a lovely cranberry and pomegranate, maybe dried fruit character on the nose, a little exotic note of strawberry/lychee in the background. In the mouth that sweet softness of pulpy red fruits is there, not underripe, but cool and herbal too, enough of a roughening edge of tannin and acidity to give it energy, in a lovely medium-bodied wine that is agile and light, and very moreish.
(2019) I have notes on half a dozen Kalecik Karasi wines in my database, unanimously positive, for the Kalecik variety is the speciality of Turkey's Karasi region, the vineyards in this case at 1150 metres in altitude. It pours the pale ruby colour I expect, and as is so often the case, immediately reminds me of Pinot Noir with a rhubarb and beetroot note, but also beautifully ripe summer red fruits, pomegranate and a hint of earthy spice too. On the palate it is a little firmer than others I've tried, a real endive/chicory-like stripe of bittersweetness that puckers the mouth. There's a dry nuttiness too, and that keen-edged, tart raspberry fruit, but the grainy tannins and that assertive bittersweet note give it lip-tingling length.
(2018) Carmen was one of my first go-to Chilean producers, thanks largely to a wine called 'Grand Vidure', a real favourite of mine in the 1990s, and one of the first wave of Carmenere-based wines before the variety became established as Chile's 'signature' grape. Here we have Carignan, one of Chile's current superstar grapes thanks to old-vine plantings, this aged 12 months in French oak. There's an interesting melange of meat-stock cherry and vine fruit on the nose, a dark and savoury character. In the mouth it's very much about the fruit, quite sinewy and chewy, the oak well into the background, with a balanced savoury finish.
(2018) This 100% Aglianico cuvée is from a single vineyard and is aged for 18 months in medium-toast new French barriques, with a minimum of an extra 24 months in bottle before release. It's an extremely dense and powerful wine, with massive concentration, yet there is light and shade. Briar, liquorice and dark, vinous plummy fruit on the nose is just starting to allow some delicate rose and cherry character to emerge. In the mouth it is strapping stuff, an onslaught of sweet fruit that is cloaked in tannin and bright acidity, a touch of charry coffeeish oak, and just loads of extract and substance. Hugely serious, muscular and impressive, this is worth tucking away for at least five more years before broaching, but if opening now, decant for a couple.
(2018) Aged only in stainless steel tanks, in contact with the lees, there's a bold, assertive creamy pear fruitiness on the nose here, with a little exotic undertow. In the mouth that succulent, ripe orchard fruit has weight and texture, a little guava or mango gives both sweetness and a welcome sour edge, the rounded, custardy, generous acidity adding to the succulence.
(2018) The vinification is similar to the Greco, with four to five months on the lees in tank. It seems a little firmer, more strict on the nose than the Greco, with citrus and herbs and a steely green apple character. In the mouth a similar limpid texture, but indeed the acidity is higher and the whole picture more sharply chiselled, some fat around the mid-palate swept up in a mineral salts and lemony acidity.
(2018) 100% Aglianico, this spends approximately 18 months in medium-toasted French oak, then nine more months in bottle before release. Creamy and fragrant, this is at once more open and rather softer than the single-vineyard Piano di Montevergine. Lovely graphite and bay leaf nuances over ripe black berries, touches of something more floral. In the mouth it is firm, but nowhere near the muscular extraction of the Piano di Montevergine, rather a more juicy and open fruitiness, edged by cherry-ish acidity, but then a twist of endive and liquorice shows the structure that lies within. This is long, taut, but fruity and spicy, and will have staying power too.
(2018) Nosiola is a native grape of Trentino in the far north of Italy, often harvested late to make sweet Vin Santo wine. But here Bottega Vinai (a brand of the super-coop of the area, Cavit) has made a crisp, fresh and dry Nosiola with broad appeal. The variety takes its name from nocciola, the Italian word for hazelnut, the grape said to have a nutty flavour, and indeed, there is a nuttiness here, as well as firm pear and gentle spices, before the palate reveals its bright, focused and juicy fruit, licked with salts and finishing with a dry lime peel lick of precise acidity. A lovely grown-up wine that has broad sipping and food-matching appeal. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.