(2018) One of my favourite of the Torres wines, from a single vineyard (actually a monopole Clos) dedicated to Chardonnay in Penedes. Twelve months in French oak 300-litre barrels (60% new) and a lovely lime jelly purity, gently buttery and waxy nose, very Meursault-like perhaps, a sheen of oatmeal and almond beneath. In the mouth real purity: lime again, but zesty and fresh, the buttery notes adding texture. Could certainly do with an ounce more zip and raciness to really shine, but a terrific attempt at top notch Chardonnay really.
(2018) A stunning, stunning dry Madeira, at 60 years old and what a treat to taste one of the world’s great wines with surely another 50 years ahead of it. Shellac and walnut notes lead on to a bone-dry palate of Seville orange that has searing intensity. Oh, for a bowl of salted almonds with this contemplative wine.
(2018) Tasted alongside the Blandy's 1968 vintage Sercial, a bone-dry but absolutely magnificent sister Madeira, this was just stunning at 71 years of age. Nut brown in colour, the nose a soulful, burnished depth of walnut and Seville orange marmalade, toffee and dark Agen prune notes along with spices and tobacco. With just over 100g/l of residual sugar it is sweet without being cloying, with classic Madeira firmness and vitality, magically tangy and bright with electric acidity perfectly balanced against the sumptuous spices and dark, tea-steeped dark fruit flavours. Wines like this almost defy scores and descriptions. What a treat if you can afford it (price for a half bottle).
(2018) One of my all-time favourite wines from Portugal, Mouchão in 2013 is a bit of a stunner. A blend of Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira, foot trodden, and made in a big, old oak vats, it always strikes me as a cross between Burgundy and the Rhône, with the perfume and soulful character of the former, and spice and juicy structure of the latter - while, of course, being entirely its own wine. A beautiful medley of ripe black berries, sweet earth, subtle spicing and floral touches leads on to a palate that is sumptuous and deep, yet light in both texture and its freshness: an alert, life-force of a wine, the tannins and juicy acids giving lots of attack and tension, and suggesting this will only improve with cellaring, but already giving great pleasure with its core of firm, savoury fruit.
(2018) A vert nice Nebbiolo this, from the Langhe in Piedmont, aged for one year in larger barrels and bursting with deep black and red fruits, giving both savoury depth and bright, even lightly floral notes. It is sweet and svelte on the palate, tasting youthful and as if it could well cellar nicely for a few years, it has a liquorice stripe of bittersweet concentration and acidity, but the plush tobacco underpinnings give it some breadth and depth.
(2017) The name '3055' is the New York taxi license number of the young Jean Leon, who traveled from Spain to the Big Apple soon after world war II. Eventually, in the 1960s, he returned to Spain to start his wine business, having made his fortune. The brand has been owned by the Torres family since shortly before Leon's death in 1994. Organic certified, the sheen of classy French oak is the opening note, with a subtle orange and crisp red apple fruitiness, an almondy softness too. In the mouth there is plenty of sweet fruit, the oak fading way into the background as juiciness and a firm apple core and lemon pith acidity take over.
(2016) A GMS blend (Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz) made in older French oak barrels from 100-year-old vine fruit. It is fabulously deep, with terrific mulberry and sweet clove depth, a sheen of vanilla and chocolate, and spicy black fruits flooding the palate. A lovely sense of effortless concentration and drinking beautifully.
(2016) There's a touch of copper to the colour of this Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah blend, and a dry, vinous nose, not overtly fruity, and very different from many more up-front pink styles, with a touch of tobacco and briar. On the palate dry and food-friendly, apple and lemon and understatement. Dry, cleansing but doesn't leap out of the glass.
(2016) What a superb, aromatic and perfumed Pinot this is from the Don Miguel Vineyard in the Russian River. Farmed biodynamically, the vineyard is mostly planted with the Swan Pinot clone, with 30% Pommard, and 10% Dijon clones. This wine is aged in French oak, 40% of which is new. The nose really is gorgeous, framing seductive berries, violet and sweet exotic spice with some earth and woodland truffle notes, before a palate that ripples with cherry and sweet red fruit, an undertow of spice and chocolate, and smooth as silk tannins against the pretty acidity. Terrific and will probably age well for a decade.
(2016) Captures the floral violet aspect of Malbec, loads of plummy, black fruit too. The palate has lovely structure, a tiny note of espresso, but great fruit richness and depth, creamy tannins. A lovely Malbec (with a tiny drop of Syrah). Price is for 2012, the vintage in the UK at time of writing.