(2021) A single vineyard wine from Chardonnay planted on gravel, and one of the warmer sites in Waipara. It is mostly whole-bunch pressed, fermented with wild yeasts, and just a small percentage sees new oak. Some of it was also foot-trodden. Lovely buttery nose, crushed almond perhaps, but a sense of richness and poise, the stone fruit aromas creamy and full. In the mouth a great saline background to this sets a savoury tone from front to back, but there is limpid texture and those ripe fruits and a hazelnut richness draped across the framework.
(2021) From a vineyard in Lowburn, originally the Lowburn Ferry estate which Smith & Sheth have also purchased. Vineyards planted over the past 20 years, this is 10% whole bunch pressed, fermented in a combination of oak and stainless steel and matured in barrel for 10 months (around 25% new oak). Not a densely-coloured wine, but with a darker hue aromatically than the North Canterbury Pinot, plum and chocolate, but very elegantly done again, red liquorice and a touch of vanilla suggest fruit sweetness. More red fruit-driven on the palate, and again a keen axis of souring acid and tannin to give it an edge, the sweet mid-palate fruit becomes quite grippy and earthy in the finish.
(2021) A wine I have been lucky enough to enjoy regularly since first tasting it 'en primeur' in 2003, this was from a half bottle and was absolutely glorious. The nose of this has always fascinated, not only heaving with a depth of marmalade, honey and toast, but the exoticism of saffron and candied fruits, and a wonderful suggestion of truffle and dry, Botrytis-rich curry-leaf. In the mouth it is so concentrated, so vital, the intensity of the dried apricot and Seville orange, mouth-filling sweetness, beeswax weight and richness, then the clarity of confit lemon, mineral salts and again, that truffle character adding soulful depth. Quite majestic. Price quoted is for a half bottle.
(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) Floral and kirsch-like, pretty rather than powerful. Pretty with good fruit and a touch of chocolate and cream in the finish. Tangy, fresh and dry.
(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.