(2019) Made from the classic old bush vines of the Roussillon, this is 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 15% Mourvèdre, with around one third of the blend aged in barrel for six months. With a hefty 15% alcohol declared, there is a touch of Porty quality on the nose, all black cherry, plum and a touch of violet, a smidgeon of chocolate and some Sandalwood spice and tobacco filling in. In the mouth it is a big wine with a little bit of alcohol heat on the back palate, but there's no denying the appeal of the copious black fruit, fudge-like smooth tannins and peppy cherry acidity to balance as the spice fills in the finish once more. A chunk of steak with this is the way to go.
(2019) Sub-titled 'Painter of Light', this delicate but intense Chardonnay comes from clay soils planted with Burgundian clones. Whole-bunch pressed into oak with natural ferments and natural malolactic, with lees stirring. Biscuit and breadiness, a fat lemon and touch of orange. Good richness. On the palate, very clean, a touch funky, a nice pithy lemony character, the acid pure and touched with salty minerals. Long, and super fresh.
(2019) Sub-titled 'Nightjar', made in small open-top fermenters, with 25% whole bunches then into larger oak barrels for maturation, always cool. Quite pale ruby, lovely soft and earthy, a touch of beetroot and rhubarb, subtle creaminess, herbs, but not green, a touch sappy and fresh and very well-balanced and delicious.
(2019) From the fine Rhône appellation of Ventoux, not far from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is a blend of 70% Grenache with Syrah in a forward, fulsome style that lovers of Châteauneuf will certainly appreciate. But there's a beautiful violet and cracked black pepper elegance on the nose as well as copious black fruits, a real lift suggesting kirsch and blue/black intensity of fruit. On the palate the wine bursts with concentrated fruit intensity: tangy and dark plum and plum skins, blueberry and damson, definite ripeness and power, but again there is elegance in the fine but grippy tannins that add a pleasing roughening edge to all that smooth fruit, and plenty of acidity to balance and freshen, extending the finish and promising a bit of longevity for this if you can cellar for five to eight years. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2019) From the Boot Hill vineyard, and selected Dijon and German clones of Pinot Noir, half of the fruit was dropped during the growing season to concentrate what remained. Matured for six months in French oak, 20% new, 80% older. There's a plump, ripe red fruit richness to this aromatically, a nice little floral, violetty touch too, and beneath an authentic hint of game or truffle just adding an extra dimension. In the mouth it is silky-textured and again there's a bit of slick, creamy richness to the red fruits. Good cherry-skin acidity and easy-going, fine tannins complete a very convincing picture.
(2019) An interesting wine from the Louis Latour company, who are based in Burgundy but who have extensive vineyard holdings in Beaujolais just further south. This comes from the heart of the Beaujolais region, but it is not Beaujolais but 'Coteaux Bourgignons', because the wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir, which has had minimal exposure to oak, but which comes from chalk and limestone soils. It has terrific lift and buouyancy, violet florals and cherry leap from the glass, with a nice undercurrent of soft, truffly Pinot character. In the mouth it is savoury with plenty of tang from sour orange and cherry again, good tannins and plenty of sappy character to set against that core of sweet fruit. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2019) A blend of Carignan and Grenache, matured in a mix of 500L and 225L barrels, a quarter new, for 14 months. This is a big powerhouse wine with 15% abv and plenty of structure and depth, yet the nose is not without perfume, delicate rose and bergamot, spices and tobacco atop the black fruits. In the mouth a rich and substantial wine, the creamy-smooth tannins just edging the sumptuous, sweetly ripe black fruit. Plum-skins and cherry pits in the dry acidity add to the savoury character in a cracking wine - writ large. £20 for Bee subscribers.
(2019) From a vineyard owned by Jean-Mark Lafage, of very old Grenache Gris and Blanc, this is partially oak-aged, and has a most enticing nose: hints of white flowers against white peach down and zest of lemon. In the mouth it is beautifully judged I must say, with a welter-weight of sweet, ripe, juicy fruit but backed up with crystalline acidity, a hint of spice, plenty of zest and vim, and yet a softer note to the ending that keeps it balanced and easy to drink. At the Bee club members price of £12 it's a steal, but great value anyway for a quality wine.
(2019) Don't even ask about the unusual name of this wine, but instead concentrate on a very good example of a wine in the 'orange wine' idiom, that is not too extreme and will serve both as a more gentle introduction to the style, and simply as a very nice wine. It's a blend of 66% Semillon and 34% Viognier, fermented with skin contact and aged 18 months in old barrels. The colour is an astonishing, luminous buttercup yellow, and the careful winemaking is evident: picking the Semillon a little late to avoid its sometimes herbaceous character, and the Viognier a little early to minimise it's tendency to become a little heavy and alcoholic - this has only 12.7% abv. Don't come looking for upfront fruitiness however: this has notes akin to Fino sherry on the nose, nuttiness and light kaolin, the palate dry, earthy and savoury, a bit of lemon curd and plenty of yeasty funk adding to the intrigue. A food wine for sure, watch the video for more information.
(2019) Sealed with soft, yellow wax (and closed with a DIAM cork), this looks immediately inviting and, on opening, the fragrance just leaps from the glass: lots of redcurrant and cherry, but floral notes, spices, hints of gaminess and roasted chestnuts, altogether it displays a dazzling complexity and lots of charm. In the mouth it is substantial and yet ethereal. Grounding tannins and spice are layered through the decisive acid structure, yet there is gorgeous sweetness to the juicy red berry fruit, a tang of grapefruit or bitter Seville marmalade orange, and a hint of smokiness weaves through the finish. It's a classy Pinot that has everything: all-embracing sweet fruited charms, structure, gentleness and unfolding finesse. Terrific.