(2019) There's no such thing as a poor vintage of Yquem, such is the care taken over the fruit selection and winemaking in even the worst vintage conditions, but although this 2002 is not rated as a 'top' Yquem, I thought it was absolutely outstanding. Loaded with smoky, dried apricot depths of Botrytis, there's also lovely exotic spice and marmalade/Seville orange brightness of fruit. More of that on the palate too, in an Yquem of great depth, burgeoning with bittersweet flavours that entirely fill the senses, and yet great freshness too, pinpoint and clear acidity leads into an extremely long finish. Marvellous and totally satisfying.
(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) Annick Tinel-Blondelet has been in charge here since 1983, the 12th generation of her winegrowers family, their vineyards sited on slopes of Kimmeridgian marl, as found in the top vineyards of Chablis. What a lovely nose on this wine, striking a balance between peach and exotic fruit ripeness, and smoky, mineral-driven terroir aromatics, sensuous and at the same time brightly appealing. In the mouth the featherlight 12.5% alcohol does not mean any lack of texture, the 35-year-old vines giving natural concentration, and that salty tang of minerality honing the edges of the ripe and crowd-pleasing fruitiness. Deliciously gluggable and classy, and at its £14.99 offer price at time of review, a serioud steal.
(2018) What a fascinating contrast with the Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé also reviewed: that wine not short on vibrant personality, this one richly textured with a cool restraint, and yet each is beautifully expressive of its region and terroir. Partial ageing in older barrels has given this texture, but has not dulled the vivacious pin-sharp aromatics, gooseberry and a punch of pea-shoot freshness, and sweet nectarine fruit. The palate brims with exotic fruit, and yet there is fine acidity - not at all jarring - a natural concentration, and great balance. Will delight both classic European Sauvignon drinkers and fans of Kiwi exuberance in a clever marriage.