(2019) This new Gran Reserva from the historic La Rioja Alta joins their tremendously good portfolio of wines. It is utterly classic Gran Reserva in many ways, opening with those fragrant American oak barrel notes of marzipan and coconut, but a terrifically plush depth of fruit that also hints at game and truffle. A blend of 95% Tempranillo from forty-year-old vines with 5% Graciano, there is concentration and elegance on the palate. The wine remains juicy and vital to the core, shimmering with spices and depths of velvetty fruit, smooth tannins and creamy acidity. Beautifully balanced, what a treat this would be if you are looking for something special for Christmas. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2019) I've often found the Verdjo wines from the Rueda region in northern Spain to be a bit too imitatative of New World Sauvignon Blanc, but here Ramón Bilbao is trying to do something different with the grape and the region. Made from the estate's oldest vines, it was fermented in concrete 'tulip-shaped' vats then aged in French and Hungarian oak, with regular batonnage. That has resulted in an obvious creaminess on the nose (unexpected in Rueda Verdejo), subtle nut and honey notes to tropical fruit with a more subdued elderflower and passion fruit character. In the mouth the sweet ripeness of the fruit is the first impression, but that nutty and creamy underpinning of both flavour and texture adds an extra layer. Acidity is well-judged, a gentle lime and red apple presence to extend the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2019) The blend is 70% Corvina, with 25% Rondinella and Molinara, with no appassimento of the grapes. A light balsamic richness, deep cherry and a touch of creaminess from 20% oak ageing. Plenty of sweetness but smooth tannins too, fresh acidity, and a light but elegant finish.
(2019) Similar grape blend as the regular Costasera, from the same vineyard, but has 10% Oseleta. Appassimento never less than 120 days. The Oselleta has a real impact again, giving, like the Toar and pure Oselleta also tasted, a firm, graphite character, tightening up the picture, and the ripe cherry and florals just showing throug beautifully. The beautiful sweetness of the fruit here is all-encompassing, with a salty touch to the acidity, such ripe chocolaty tannins and fabulous length: fruit, elegance, touches of cocoa and spices, but all about freshness and tang.
(2019) This has been my 'Wine of the Week' a couple of times in previous vintages and is a delightfully fresh summer blend that seems to defy the hot conditions of the Douro. Floral and lime freshness and limpidity. Gorgeous texture and big thwack of seaside salinity and pithy lemon fruit in a terrific little wine at the price.
(2019) All made from estate-grown fruit, the blend is Viosinho and Arinto, 50% matured in new 500-litre French oak for 6 months. The oak here just adds creaminess, a hint of almond, then grapefruit and more salty minerality into a long, shimmering finish. Very good value.
(2019) From Cima Corga and Douro Superior, this spends 12 months in three- and four-year-old oak. Again the Douro's Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca is the blend. Instantly smoother and silkier, the palate has a blue-black fruit intensity, it is fleshy, but the smoother tannins and ripe fruit married to elegant plummy acidity.
(2019) Elegant lift here, the florals and bergamot and violet perfume pronounced, creamy black berries, so pure. Beautifully supple sweetness with some bittersweet cocoa and endive bite of cherry ripe acidity. Deep and delicious.
(2019) Though I am a big fan of Chenin Blanc, a recent focus has also been on South Africa, a great Chenin producing country. But of course the spiritual home of Chenin Blanc is the central Loire Valley, with appellations like this one, Vouvray. Here, a 'Sec' or dry example shimmers with pristine apple fruit, a summer meadow note of hay and dry grass, and on the palate terrific focus with its sheer, salty, mineral character and acidity. There is a slippery, weighty texture, but clean and intense with all that saline, mouth-watering appeal. Watch the video for food-matching ideas and more information.
(2019)
The Anwilka esate is actually in Stellenbosch, once a separate property before merging with Klein Constantia. This is 52% Syrah, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Petit Verdot. Much more minty ripeness, chocolate and mulberry than the Estate Red, a depth of blue-black fruit. The palate has a lot more fruit sweetness too, nicely textured and not heavy or extracted, but full and ripe. Tannins are very smooth and taut, cherry skin dry acids give it a long finish.