(2017) Produced at the Quinta do Baixo estate in Bairrada, Syrah from this region is highly unusual and shows Dirk Niepoort's penchant for pushing the boundaries. And he's done that very well with this crisp and agile Syrah, fermented in traditional lagares and aged in large 2500-litre barrels. It is dry with a sense of tobacco-touched red and black berry fruits, a touch herbal and wild, before a palate where the cool finesse of the acidity and lighter tannins give it a refreshing appeal. Really a lovely rendition of Syrah.
(2017) Disznókő is one of the great names of Tokaji, most famous of course for the fully sweet and luscious dessert wines made from grapes affected by botrytis, the 'noble rot'. This is a new and fresher take on the style, made from the same grapes (in this case Furmint), but with only a percentage of botrytised berries, the rest being harvested late but not with the noble rot. It is also given a shorter period of ageing in oak barrels. The nose is gorgeous, suffused with honey and wild flowers, touches of barley sugar and aromatic tobacco, before a palate that is medium-sweet, still with a generous texture and plenty of honey and ripe peach fruit, but a bracing grapefruit acidity, light nuttiness, and fresh finish with considerable length. Watch the video for some surprising food-matching suggestions and more information.
(2017) There’s 4% Cabernet Sauvignon joining the Shiraz, in a wine that spent 17 months in new American oak hogsheads. Fruit came from across South Australia as always. Fabulous concentration, mind-boggling intensity, so many layers packed into this, chocolate and liquorice, coffee and balsamic, meat-stock notes and serious black fruit at the core of it. Very tightly wound at present and unlike the Hill of Grace 2010 it would be criminal to drink this now: it’s a massive Grange of power, concentration and great purity, and will require many years in the cellar to show at its best – and age for 20 years at least.
(2016) No skin contact for this, but a lovely clean and yet grippy nose, with tight apple fruit. Loads of acidity, a real pithy lemon and grapefruit bite that has great presence. 15% fermented in oak gives texture more than flavour.
(2016) OK, a rather rare wine with only 120 cases produced and the UK's allocation being a fraction of that, but what a stunner. Very old vine Grenache is matured in 100% new French oak in this vintage, in a big (15.5% ABV) wine with massive chocolate depth and a welterweight of blue/black fruit. There's extraordinary plush juiciness to this, which is tight and hugely muscular, but it has great freshness, with real energy. Fabulous fruit, long, chewy, dense but superb definition of tannins and acidity against the huge ripeness and stunning concentration. The price quoted is per bottle, but available only as a pack of six. French merchant Voyageurs du Vin exports to the UK and at time of review also lists the 2012 vintage at 215 Euros per single bottle.
(2016) What a triumph this is for Marimar Torres, who experimented with different appellations to grow Albariño before settling on the Russian River. Grown organically and planted at high density, the wine is made in steel and does not go through malolactic fermentation. It has an expressive, authentic and beguiling nose where the most delicate fresh pear and peach marries with gentle floral hints, and a touch of Chablis-like flint. On the palate the 14% alcohol is unbotrusive, but instead gives fat and texture to the ripe pear fruit of the palate before a streak of ripe, lime-like acidity. A terrific Albariño by any standards. Only the 2012/13 are in stock in the UK at time of review.
(2016) Sourced mostly from the Clare Valley, but with around a third of the fruit from Coonawarra, this is another fine South Australian red from the 2010 vintage, with real floral, violet and kirsch-like lift to the abundant cassis and minty aromas. On the palate there's crowd-pleasing dark chocolate and loads of sweet blackcurrant fruit, but it has grip and a bit of substance, the earthy, dusty tannins and keen cherry acidity balancing.
(2016) This unusual 'icon' Petite Sirah comes from an old pergola vineyard of table grapes, grafted to Petite Sirah. It has a fabulous nose, the lift and kirsch-like aromatics, lots of cassis and coffee, obviously plenty of oak, but the prettiness of the fruit comes through. The palate has huge smoothness, with massive grippy tannins, and loads of black fleshy fruit. Delicious and massive, but it is a really impressive wine. Note stockist quoted is for the 2010 vintage at time of writing.
(2016) A warm year, though the vineyard is in a cool spot so never too hot with more continental climate. A big seductive nose, laden with cassis and plum, a chocolate and spice laden nose but such a depth of fruit. Excellent palate, with a huge depth and plenty of polished oak, but a seductive and velvety style.
(2016) Very youthful emerald green colour, a touch of fresh leafy herbs, a touch of anise and some saltiness giving a dry, interesting nose. The palate has a rounded, smooth limpidity, with not so many layers as some of the other Crus, but a concentrated and wholesome richness. Great length and huge lime-streaked juiciness. Note stockist and price quoted at time of writing is for the 2012 vintage