(2018) Aged in large oak barrels for two years, this 100% Sangiovese Riserva is certainly a Chianti Classico on the opulent and lush side of the spectrum, the tobacco and cocoa rich notes overlaying juicy plum and cherry, with a fine graphite character adding sophistication. In the mouth it's a fleshy and generous style, like a big bowl of super-ripe black cherries that you just can't help dipping into time and again. There is a spicey framework of tannin, and of course good cherry acidity being Chianti, but this mouth-filling wine is mostly about unabashed hedonism. Drink over the next five years or so.
(2018) A 'super-Tuscan' from 100% Sangiovese and a single vineyard planted in 1991, it spends 14-18 months in new oak barrels and a further 12 months in the bottle before release. There is a slick of vanilla that smoothly coats dark berries and brighter, almost floral cherries, again plush with tobacco and some cedary spices, and deeply inviting. On the palate a hint of gaminess on the nose translates into a wine that has a meaty presence, the spicy, firm tannins backing up sweet berry fruits, firmer than the Chianti Riserva, and long, pure and tapering nicely in the finish to a fine spices and fruit extract finish.
(2018) One hundred percent Sangiovese Grosso from an historic estate, vines are up to 30 years old and the wine spends around 10 months in barrel. There's a nice translucent character in the glass and a lovely mineral-fine purity of cherry fruit on the nose, a little rounding creaminess, but very pure. In the mouth a touch of Sangiovese's herbal quality keeps it cool and fresh, along with the red fruit and firm, juicy tannins and acidity, this has energy and tang, but wrapped in a little plushness too and is very - very - drinkable.
(2018) I'm on record as saying that, at it's best, Chablis is the world's greatest expressions of the Chardonnay grape. This, from a top vintage and one of the best premier cru sites, is eloquent testament to that. Subtle, wet river stone minerality, taut apple notes and fleeting glimpses of summer meadows on the nose lead on to a firm and finely-etched, steely palate. There is fruit, and there is textural weight, but this is the antithesis of the 'golden' Chardonnay style: linear, lightly salty and strictly defined, it has a lemon-juice freshness disguising its concentration, its depth and complexity revealed slowly as the bottle goes down.
(2018) From a single block in the southern valleys of Marlborough, matured 10 months in French oak, around 30% of which was new. This is a deep and black-fruited style of concentrated Pinot, 14% alcohol testifying to its ripeness and richness. On the nose a touch of charred meat, savoury dark fruit and, yes, just a glimpse of something more perfumed and floral in the background. On the palate it has a liquorice stripe of bittersweet fruit, tannin and crunchy acidity. The fruit develops nicely mid-palate to something more sweet and elegant. An impressive wine, that for me would be even better just reined-back slightly on oak, alcohol and extraction.
(2018) Like the superb Morgon from this Domaine, this Côte de Brouilly is no shrinking violet with 14.3% alcohol from the super and hot 2015 vintage. It has similar density and power, but wrapped in a slightly firmer cloak of tannins and acidity, more savoury, dark and spicy in character, the more opulent Morgon having a little more come-hither charm. But the meaty concentration here is admirable, some brighter red fruit acidity honing the edges, in a Beaujolais that would sit very happily with a steak.
(2018) From the south of the Rhône Valley, this is predominantly Syrah, with just a few percent of Mourvèdre in the blend, and it is one of Fondreche's top red wines. It's a deep, dark and glossy wine with a blue-black fruit quality of damson plum, blueberry and a delightfully aromatic spice and floral top-note. It hints at a chocolaty depth, and that follows through to the palate, where firm but ripe and creamy tannins support that dense and dark fruit, fleshy and ripe, but finishing dry with excellent acidity leading to a savoury finish.
(2018) Blaye is an appellation of Bordeaux's 'right bank', and typically this is predominantly Merlot, with 5% each of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon too. Reduced to £13.49 at time of review. It's a plummy and silky expression of Bordeaux, a little coffee and cream, dense fleshy plum and a light pencil-shaving note too. In the mouth the creaminess of the fruit, plush tannin and texture add up to a fairly straightforward, but nevertheless delicious and balanced glass of quality claret drinking well now.
(2018) The first production of this super-Ventoux: apparently the quality of the Syrah from a vineyard planted in 1961 was so exceptional in this vintage that winemaker Sebastien Vincenti decided it must be bottled as a separate cuvée. That seems to have been a good decision, with eRobertParker awarding it 95 points. It's a fabulously smoky and meaty wine, a complex perfume that moves from game to violet and from grilling bacon to fresh-cracked pepper, a core of firm black fruit running through it. In the mouth this does not let up, a silkiness of texture despite a hefty tannin framework (that should see it age well), but that meatiness and the freshness of the cherry-pit acidity balances beautifully. A twist of bittersweet liquorice adds to the intrigue in a truly fabulous wine. Very limited quantities made, and obviously limited availability.