(2022) Founded in 2003, I Stefanini has quickly built a reputation for quality, this 100% Garganega wine being one of three I Stefani Soaves stocked by Dudley Jones. Surprisingly deep buttercup colour with a flash of emerald, the nose has chamomile and Spring flowers, a touch of nuttiness and lemon. In the mouth a delightfully zippy and refreshing wine, very good mouthfeel with a slippery texture and fruit moving from apricot and light honey into a zesty but rich finish. A terrific Soave this, with bags of character.
(2022) This is a truly gorgeous dry Riesling from two of Riffel's top vineyards, Kirchberg and Scharlachberg. Perhaps it's the high density of quartzite in the soils that adds to its shimmering vibrancy, but it opens with a little gold to the colour and delicate but pungent aromas of flint and lemongrass, with a suggestion of peachy ripeness beneath. In the mouth there is such dazzling brightness to fruit and acidity that it almost feels petillant (which it is not) such is the fizzing, sherbetty focus of fruit and acidity. No need to serve this too cold. It is quite brilliant.
(2022) In the same family hands for 10 generations, this 25 hectare estate makes both dry and sweet wines. The first thing that strikes is the oily, rich mouthfeel of the wine, dominated by a fat lemon and lime juiciness. There is a hint of passion fruit from the Sauvignon content, but it is discreet and the wine is more about citrus, a lightly buttery quality on the mid-palate, and a tangy, grapefruity finish for a food-friendly, versatile and inexpensive wine.
(2022) A Cru Barolo from this family estate, aged for over two years in large Slavonian oak casks. A firm, graphite and polished wood character here beneath taut, youthful black fruit, it is immediately concentrated and serious, but there's a floral, violet lift too in this young wine. The palate is equally polished and tight, the black fruit sinewy and dense, the very fine, authoritative tannins and acid balance suggesting cellaring will see this blossom over a decade or more.
(2022) A left-bank blend coming mostly from vineyards in St-Estèphe, a blend of Merlot, both Cabernets and Petit Verdot, with élévage in large barrels (30% new). With five years under its belt, it holds a youthful, solid colour, with meat-stock and black fruit aromas, an intriguing touch of Nori character and good depth with a wisp of tobacco. In the mouth it is substantial and fleshy, a savoury, very St-Estèphe wine, with a certain robustness, but high quality oak and a juicy black cherry acidity layering the finish. Punches above its weight this one.
(2022) Philippe Vermorel's Domaine de Rochemure Crémant is 100% Chardonnay from vineyards in the Beaujolais region, and is a remarkably dry, mineral and featherweight style. It has some biscuity quality, but the rush of lemony and fresh fruit, and zipping, mouth-watering acidity is delightfully crisp and gossamer-light. Perfect as an aperitif, base for a kir royale, or with fish and seafood.
(2022) From Valtellina in Lombardy, just north and east of Piedmont, and home to some very fine Nebbiolo wines (known locally as 'Chiavennasca'), that's the major component here along with small quantities of the local Pignola, Rossola and Brugnola varieties. This is a charmer: soft and translucent in colour, there's a mature truffle and sweet earth and tobacco fragrance, then a palate where the gentle sweetness of the Nebbiolo pushes through. Cherry is the dominant impression, both the sweet pulp of the flesh and grip and tang of the skins, and though vinification is in steel, there's a little spice and hint of nutty toast plus some firmness in the finish of a delightful wine.
(2022) Though he has vineyards in various of the Cru villages, apparently winemaker Philippe Vermorel rates this as his personal favourite. I can see why with its joyous, smile-inducing aromas, so sleek and bursting with firm black cherry and zippy raspberry, the merest touch of lipsticky, more floral lift in the background. On the palate it really is a smooth devil, copious fruit is layered from start to finish, with a lovely gentle balance of tannin and acidity barely ruffling the picture.
(2022) David Dudley-Jones describes this as "Barbaresco by any other name," coming from younger vines of the Crus Pora & Rio Sordo. Lovely pale to medium colour, but youthful, with a delicate nose of violets and old roses, something that reminds me strangely of candy floss, and then a nutty, chestnut note beneath. That complexity does continue on the palate, where really grippy young tannins and tart black cherry acidity frame succulent red plum and cherry, some leather and firm spices into a long finish, ending on fruit and acidity in lovely harmony.
(2022) Little brother to the superb 2016 'Binger Quartzit', there's a family resemblance here without a doubt, and at half the price this has massive appeal: the electric frisson of the Binger is dialled back for sure, but it shares the classic purity and lime and lemon zest focus, offering a delightfully dry, filigree Riesling experience that is very satisfying.