(2020) A gorgeously full and generous claret from Château Pichon Baron in the shape of their second wine, made from 55% lush and mouth-filling Merlot, 30% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, aged 12 months in barrel, 30% of which where new. Plummy, rich and exotically spiced, there is a hint of rose and of cedar too. In the mouth thr fresh graininess of the tannins and cool acidity balance the ripeness and weight of fruit, which is pure and elegantly focused. It is classy stuff, drinking so well already, but with structure for further cellaring.
(2020) Fabulously perfumed, real complexity and aromatic layering here, the core of sweet and pulpy red fruits, plenty of clove and cardomom spice, vanilla, those sweet truffle and beetrooty notes too in a very arresting picture. Lovely juiciness and firmness on the palate, with a stripe of tannin and a dry, tangy olive and cherry bite to the acidity, but the fruit stays sweet through the mid-palate, the texture builds as the chalkiness of the tannins smooth the finish, the fruit and acid precision and brightness is excellent. A beautiful wine, which PJ expects to have at least 10 years of cellaring potential.
(2020) The Cerretta vineyard sits between 320 and 450 metres altitude, on limestone and clay soils. This cuvée spends three years in large French oak 'botti'. Deep ruby with a softening on the rim, this is polished and refined on the nose, a graphite and pencil-shaving precision and elegance, notes of fine herbs, a touch of bloodiness and discreet red fruits. In the mouth it's a gorgeous wine, powerful and dense in terms of concentration and texture, but edged by supple tannins and cherry-pit dry acidity that gives a cool, very precise feel. The fruit is sweet and smoothly supple too, but there's a restrained grip and serious intent here, in a baby Barolo that will cellar for decades without a doubt. Available from September 2020.
(2020) The blend for the top red is 75% Tannat, 15% Pinenc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Again from limestone and clay, but also sandy soils, typical of the Bas Armagnac region. A powerful nose of black and sour cherry, with some cool and elegant graphite character. Lots of smoothness in texture, plenty of tannin and bright cherry, great mid-palate sweetness, but the structure builds and grips to the finish, staying fresh and grippy, concentrated and delicious, and surely with ageing potential.
(2020) From the prime Bannockburn region of Central Otago, Valli again uses a variety of Pinot clones in its mix, this wine having loads of tobacco and spices on the nose, something like charcuterie, but a fine dark fruit edged with bay leaf, curry leaf and olive, helped by being whole-bunch fermented. Imported by New Generation Wines.
(2020) Some orange here, some seeds and nuts, a little passion fruit note, verging on the exotic, sweet and a touch of botrytis perhaps, giving that extra ounce of intensity, and a fine textured, lightly creamy finish with great acid balance. A couple of stockists have this in magnum at time of writing. Price quoted is for a magnum.
(2019) From magnum. The hottest year since 1962, but also rainy which helped soils in water deficit. Dry September suited Chardonnay in particular. 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, disgorged December 2018 with 8g/l dosage. Quite a glowing golden tinge to this. Rounded, arguably slightly more attenuated, not the direct creamy elegance of the 1989, but has fine biscuity character, a yellow plum fruitiness, but the palate stretches with the rounded, sweet fruit mid-palate and again very good acid balance. Long and shimmering, though the 1989 wins for its exquisite length and balance. Stockist at time of review is for 75cl and not the same disgorgement.
(2019) 2015 experienced a sunny and dry growing season, the hot summer mitigated by intense August rainfalls that provided ideal conditions for uniform, stress-free ripening. A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot with a yield of 35 hl/ha, and aged 24 months in barriques, 85% of which were new. A robust, firm character on the nose, plenty of polished oak, dark and liquorice character. The tannins are firm and very grippy at this stage, a big structural wine, the tannin and acid framework a touch angular right now, though softening notes or spices and obvious fruit concentration suggest it would be best approached in another five years perhaps.
(2019) Mostly Garganega and made in stainless steel tanks, with 40% Sauvignon Blanc which sees a little barrel fermentation. Mealy and pear fruit, an Asian pear crunch and into a limpid, mouth-filling palate, a lemon rind sense of fat and acidity. Good freshness, with a touch of exotic sweet fruit, but finishing dry.