(2017) Meaty and herbal, with tobacco and ripe fruit, but quite evolved with a brown sugar and a bloody streak, a deal of complexity and interest here without a doubt. On the palate there is a suppleness and firmness that extends the wine in the mouth, though all the time wrapped in those nicely funky, properly Pinot characters and sweet fruit. Note price and stockist quoted at time of review is for a different vintage.
(2016) Just a beautiful rosé from Bellavista. one of Franciacorta's bigger houses where all base wines are barrel-fermented. From south-facing vineyards this is more or less equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An attractive pale colour and the prettiest aromas, small wild strawberries, peach down and watermelon, all lightly touched by creamy vanilla. On the palate the mousse is very fine, very elegant, and though there is that soft and seductive strawberry, the acid balance is perfect and the shimmering length of the wine is terrific.
(2016) Hand-picked from 100% calcareous soil of Uco Valley, limestone over alluvial stones. The terraces contain pebbles and boulders covered with the calcium carbonate paste of around 7-10% active lime. A little gravy and earthy minerality, with a sweet plummy fruit but has the tartness of plum and black cherry skins, and a real grip of the limestone acidity. Price quoted for the 2013 vintage.
(2016) Lovely quality here, a lot more richness and honey and lightly nutty/oatmeally character from the lees ageing, but again that thrilling salty blast of acidity, intense, concentrated and dry.
(2016) Much more in the herbaceous style, punchy green with fabulous punchy palate too. Again it has that dryness and steeliness on the palate, really tart pithy acids.
(2015) Our fourth straight Chardonnay wine, also a Satèn, this time from 2009. Around 40% of the blend is fermented and aged in small oak barrels, and it spends a full 40 months on the lees. The dosage is 7.5g/l and the alcohol is 13.5%. More herbaceous, with more of a bruised apple character, a touch of smoke and minerals too. Juicy and taut on the palate, the mineral complexity shines here, layering of gentle toast and smoke and a bittersweet grapefruit pith finish.
(2015) Whole bunches are pressed into 228-litre French oak barrels, 10% of which are new. Fermentation occurs naturally in barrel, and this has a beautiful complex sulphide nose with notes of flint and a gentle whiff of cordite, before good stone fruit aromas. The palate has minerals and a great sense of tension as well as medium-bodied weight and good fruit sweetness.
(2015) Mostly Hemel-en-Aarde fruit but a quarter from high altitude vineyards inland, at Villiersdorp. Fabulous bright cherry juiciness to this, with briar and a touch of chestnut developing. The palate is savoury but with plenty of fruit, a touch of creaminess rounding the finish.
(2015) High altitude vineyards again for the wine that helped put Crystallum on the map, now with delightful truffle and briar depth, with such a lovely terroir character of sweet earth and mushroom, a good core of taut berry fruit and tight tannins, and delightful acidity keeping it tight and focused.
(2015) The neckband of all of the 'D' non-vintage wines states "Aged 5 years." The rosé is an assemblage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a 2008 base, with 10% Pinot Noir. Again only a small proportion goes through malolactic. Michel says "I don't want to use too much reserve wine, as I want to retain a fresh style. If I served it in a black glass I would want you to be wondering whether it is white or a rosé." It is certainly very delicate, though there is a little earthy and smoky character with small red fruit notes, a touch of pomegranate or redcurrant, nicely aromatic. There is a shimmering lemony freshness and very pure fruit-driven palate, with little sign of autolysis as it drive through with a salty mineral freshness.