(2019) Around 19% Verdelho, from Swartland, and Chenin from Swartland old vines with a little from Bot River. Natural yeast and very little intervention. Older oak, large barrels. Very little oak influence, just a touch of almondy undertone. Nice spices here, touches of ash and tobacco, touches of clove and wheat beer. Lovely pure, light and fresh lemon and lime fruit. There is lovely sweetness here, like the juiciest orange or lime, into a long, lightly spicy finish.
(2019) From Paarl vineyards on the Swartland border. A more creamy, slightly more plush character, though that is from the vineyard and lees, as there’s no oak influence here. There is such lovely sweet sweet, ripe apple and pear, but like the Chenin/Verdelho, there is such freshness, running mountain stream clarity to the acid and mouthfeel. Plenty of spice, herby characters and a touch of tensioning tannin.
(2018) One of the most delicious grower Champagnes I've had recently, this blend of wines from 2012 and 2011 is, quite unusually, dominated by 50% Pinot Meunier, along with 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. The modest dosage of 8g/l gives enough crowd-pleasing softness, while it retains plenty of agility and vigour. Forward, fruity and welcoming on the nose there's a basket of peaches and pears, and background nuttiness. It fills the mouth with buoyant, joyful fruit, walking a lovely line between easy-going drinkability and a bit of real precision.
(2017) From La Rioja Alta's bodega in Alavesa, a fabulous Rioja Reserva that is plush and modern in style, driven by a welterweight of black fruit against creamy, indulgent oak. It is Tempranillo with just 5% Mazuelo, aged in French and Caucasian oak barrels for 18 months. Though Sandalwood and clove, and all sorts of exotic spice join the deep pool of black fruit, there's a firm cherry juiciness to the acidity here, and very fine, elegant tannins that give it lovely length. A supremely refined modern Rioja. Note it's big brother, the Martelo Reserva 2012 is just fabulous, but at almost twice the price. Watch the video for details and food-matching suggestions.
(2016) Less striking aromatically, more subdued, with a taut orchard fruit and salt nose, but clean and lean. A real Chablis purists Chablis, all about scything clean fruit, so precise and long, a sweep of apple, citrus and salt into a long finish, but staying so focused and tightly wound.
(2015) Giacosa Along with Barolo, Barbaresco is the other 'great' wine of Piedmont, and this is a typically fresh and vital interpretation from Giacosa. Lots of cherry and bold floral and juicy red fruits, a wisp of smoke and hints of exotic incense, the nose is velvety but hugely fresh. On the palate such a gorgeous concentration without extraction. Its dry tannin structure suggests great youth and great potential, but the length and precision has chocolate and ripe plum lushness too. A 20-year wine potentially normally sold only in cases of six, and on allocation.
(2015) Querciabella Labelled as a Toscana IGT (so a white 'Super-Tuscan' in effect), Querciabella's homage to Bâtard-Montrachet has always been one of Italy's best white wines. It's expensive, but each time I have tasted it, it has never failed to impress. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, it is fermented and aged in French barriques, 30% of which are new. It has a haunting, beautiful fragrance, all the floral charm and subtle oatmeal richness, refined and agile mineral balance and such a flood of peachy fruit on the palate. Immensely fresh, but with almond, subtle honey, and terrific balancing acidity. Delicious, complex and understated, this is indeed a great white wine.
(2015) From the small DOC of Colli di Luni that straddles Liguria and Tuscany, fabulous, almost Gewurz fragrance, with flowers and exotic Turkish delight nuances, a lovely freshness. Pin sharp palate, loads of lemon and grapefruit, but just thrilling acidity and clarity. Superb and pinpoint stuff.
(2013) Fabulously flinty and limey nose, a real sense of minerality but an overlay of Brazil nut, buttery, super-ripe fruit too. The quality of oak is all cashew and ground almond in a subtle added dimension. Beautifully sweet fruit on the palate, simmering with peach and ripe apple, a touch of glacé fruit, but again that lime and mineral, stone and sea shell intensity. Approximately 850 bottles were produced.
(2013) What a haunting nose, such a beautiful profile combining ripe, rich, chocolaty fruit, a certain truffle and damp undergrowth intrigue and notes of roast chestnut, game and blood. There's a lifting perfume of orange blossom in there too. The palate does not falter, beautifully soft with a touch of orange again, leafy bracken notes that are gamy and complex and a fine palate of red fruits. Very elegant, silky tannins and discreet, fine acidity complete an utterly convincing picture. Approximately 1780 bottles were produced.