(2022) The blend includes Petit Verdot 8% and Malbec 2%, 20 - 40 years old grown on well-drained gravel loam soils. A small proportion saw carbonic maceration, and the wine was aged in French oak barriques (44% new) for 18 months. A year since I last tasted this, and the impression is much the same: lifted and fragrent, the olive/tapenade hint of the herbal adds a smoky savouriness to the sweet and solid black fruit. On the palate a tongue-coating raft of thick black fruit and creamy tannin, smokier barrel components combining with brighter cherry acid for a long, fruit and acid-driven finish.
(2021) A cool start to the vintage meant careful canopy management to avoid disease, but mild conditions through the growing season extended the harvest to finish with ripe fruit, slightly lower alcohol and good acidity. Matured in French oak barriques for nine months, 61% new. Plenty of flinty, mineral and gunsmoke character to the fore here, a subtle oatmeal creaminess and some lemon meringue pie aromas follow. In the mouth it is bracing stuff, a nervy sweep of acidity punches through nuttier, creamier texture and ripe but lean fruit flavours. Long and tensioned from front to back, a very nice Chardonnay indeed with intensity and cellaring potential.
(2021) Made only in stainless steel ('Acero') with no oak contact, Marimar selects the most intense fruit from the coolest, ocean-influenced sites for this cuvée. The nose has a gentle creaminess, presumably from some lees ageing, nutty and creamy apple fruit and a zesty hint of lemon. On the palate good bite and freshness here, clarity to the fruit and acidity, which is well-balanced without being aggressive. It's a wine that does not have the sharp precision of the best Chablis (unsurprisingly) and arguably should or could be a few pounds cheaper in my opinion, but it is elegant, restrained and delicious.
(2021) First produced in 1989, three different Chardonnay clones are picked and whole-cluster pressed and barrel-fermented in French oak, 40% new. This wine sees 100% malolactic fermentation. The buttery and lightly-toasty richness of the oak is quite apparent on the nose, giving an impression of depth and generosity. On the palate, the rush of sweet, ripe stone fruit fill the mid-palate, the wine full and textured, but a good level of acidity fills in on the finish, a hint of nutty barrel component, in a very satisfying Chardonnay.
(2021) This organically-grown Russian River Chardonnay is whole-bunch fermented in French oak barrels (44% new) where it matures for a further 11 months. With a tinge of gold to the colour it it a fairly buttery and opulent style, some delicate tobacco spice and cool orchard fruits. In the mouth there is toast and spicy richness, a weighty and textured wine, but the fruit profile retains that cool edge, juicy and ripe, but restrained by the acidity into a very pure finish.
(2020) A blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 10% Syrah from 25-year-old vines, this is a medium peachy-pink colour and has an overtly fruity nose, pomegranate and redcurrant, small and little peppery berries. In the mouth there is weight, richness and texture, plenty of summery, mixed berries character along with a cool, clean acid balance to finish on a savoury note.
(2020) Lovely plump creamy fruit here, more red fruits and a touch of vanilla or toffee. Beautifully fresh and fruity on the palate, The purity of the fruit glides across the mid-palate, fine cocoa and cherry acids to balance.
(2019) A blend of Rhône varieties, led by Carignan and Shiraz. Extended skin contact for fermentation, followed by 23 months in French, American and Romanian barrels. Quite Shirazy on the nose, quite plush, with a little peppery and floral lift and a little kirsch note to more solid black fruit. In the mouth the fruit does have a bittersweet plum skin and black fruit depth, but there’s a cherry pit freshness and that sense of a little more floral note, a stripe of roughening tannin.
(2019) This is made from Chenin, Muscat, Sauvignon, Rasa deCotnari (a Romanian variety) and has 220g/l of residual sugar, so a full-on dessert style. Big honey and toast nose, nutty seeds and an intense lime marmalade. So luscious, pineapple and mango, very thick in texture, lots of lime cordial sweetness, richness, and a good acid balance here, just a warming creaminess, but a lovely little wine. Price per half bottle.
(2019) Vineyards sit only five kilometres from the sea at False Bay, within the Stellenbosch region, but marginal, and as Pinot needs cooler conditions this is not made every year. Fragrant stuff, a little grilled bacon and definite florals, a little resinous note. There is plenty of red fruit character, seeds and meaty, savoury elements too, in a pleasing, clove-scented Pinot of real character. Chris Williams would typically drink this after another two or three years when tertiary characters develop. It then might well merit a point or two more.