(2023) I believe the 2015 was 100% Sangiovese, but given a very similar winemaking treatment to the 2018, with 20 months in 500-litre French oak barrels and extended time in bottle before release. It's loaded with tobacco and spicy aromas over black fruit - cherries, but blackcurranty depth too. In the mouth lots of cherry depth over swirling smoky notes. Tannins are big and very drying, so I think these needs to be decanted or preferably given more time. Acid balance is excellent. A substantial wine for sure.
(2023) From a single vineyard of 40-year-old vines on granite soils in Salnés, free-run juice is fermented with indigenous yeast and aged on the lees for a full 36 months. This has a fabulous nose, blending exotic and luscious fruit with a more steely, lemon and salts firmness, but an oatmeally sense of richness too. The palate echoes the nose, weighty and rich, gently nutty, but with a beautiful limey fruit purity and acid finish.
(2022) These vines truly are vieilles, or 'old', here in the high Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, at 70 years of age. Cinsault was the chosen variety for the Jesuit missionaries who planted cutting here in the 19th century, a slice of Lebanese history in more ways than one. The wine is fermented with wild yeasts, from organically-grown grapes, and is aged partly in large oak foudres, and partly in concrete vats. There's a swirling, smoky, tobacco character as well as classic cigar-box notes to keen but ripe red and black fruits. In the mouth there's loads of fleshy plum, but with a lean and muscular edge. Spices and the oak component adding savoury, smooth tannins and crisp cherry acids to balance the sweet and ripe mid-palate fruit. A lovely wine.
(2022) From their vineyards in Pézenas, Olivier Coste produces a range of wines with very contemporary names and labels, but really quite classic composition. This is 100% Carignan, grown on limestone and clay with temperature controlled fermentation and ageing only in concrete vats. I thought this wine suited being lightly chilled, which enhanced its fruitiness, accentuating the raspberry and blackberry quality on the nose, which also shows some spices and smokiness, and gives a refreshing clarity on the palate. The tannins are fairly robust which, along with acidity and plenty of oomph from the 14% alcohol and concentrated character, makes for a big mouthful of wine that certainly needs food to show at its best.
(2022) From a 10-year-old vineyard on sandy loam, spending four months in contact with French oak staves in tank. Winemaker James Ceccato spoke of his relief that widespread wild fires in 2020 caused smoke to drift over the vineyards, but did not taint the harvest. A little more dense and plummy than the de Bortoli aromatically, nice tobacco spices, but not the minty-ripe lift. Ripe and mouthfilling in the mouth, that feeling of density continues, with chunky, dry tannins and acid adding a refreshing rasp to the finish.
(2022) This Malbec comes from an organic vineyard 1,100m above sea level, with limestone in the soils. 60% was aged in 5,000-litre foudres for 10 months. Vibrant and deep in colour, the nose has the slight lift of Parma violet so often shown by Malbec, some charry notes, and there's a herbal edge to otherwise solid black fruit. In the mouth it is big and rich, but there's a gastronomic chewiness too, rounded by the oak and chocolaty tannins, cherry acidity filling in on the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) A wine from various sub-zones including the Helderberg Coast, Jonkershoek and Simonsberg, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was matured for 24 Months in 225L French oak barrels, 76% new. There's a complex mix of soils including decomposed granite, shale and clay, with vineyards rising from 100 to 325 metres. Vineyards between 10 and 24 years old. Vivid and dark in colour, a really intense, graphite-touched nose of concentrated and tightly-wound black fruit, a real Pauillac-like character here, but a blueberry density of fruit too. So sweet and plush on the palate, layers of blue-black fruit, creaminess and fabulously juicy character sit over ripe, chocolate-rich tannins and beautifully judged acidity. The smoky swirl of the barrels adds a layer beneath, in a fabulous wine of endless length.
(2022) From a vineyard classed as experimental - although it has been run by CAVIT since the 1980s. Here a number of varieties and clones are grown for their agronomists and winemaker to experiment. Chardonnay has been planted in Trentino since it was an Austrian territory. This is barrel-fermented and aged until the May following harvest, then best barrels are selected for this cuvée. Lightly toasty and spicy on the nose, oak relatively obvious but topped by fresh lemon verbena fruitiness. Palate quite cool and clean, again it is citrus and yellow apple that carries the palate, acidity quite tangy and lightly salty perhaps.
(2021) From Central Otago, a little more subdued than the Escarpment version, a little more honeyed, still good spiciness. Again there is a significant level of residual sugar here, the mouth-coating texture of the wine making it quite heady, extremely luscious and off-dry. A full-blown Alsace style this (winemaker Paul Pujol once worked there), but gorgeous acidity sears through giving it great balance too. Delightful.
(2021) From the cool apple country of Elgin in coastal South Africa, a juicy and tropical fruit-scented Sauvignon with only the merest touch of grassiness or elderflower, quite Loire-like in style, though the palate does have vibrant punch and a line of acidity that does make it vibrant and quite intense on the palate