(2019) This was poured from magnum. Just ramping up the almost narcotic, opium-den height and depth of incense and flowers, melding with those bloody, animal scents. This is now hitting its stride. Smooth as silk, the poise and the elegance of the tannins against the sweetness of the fruit is beguiling, in a fabulous, multi-layered wine.
(2018) Roda's super cuvée, from some of the oldest vineyards, literally chosen vine by vine, this has 14% Graciano in the blend, this is fermented in French oak and stays eight months in all new barrels. Delicious red fruit brightness and elegance, darker notes and hints of balsamic and chocolate. In the mouth, superb sweet fruit, edged with a mocha and bittersweet cocoa depth, and sweetly ripe tannins. This has a smoky mineral salinity in the background too, in a long, complex, silky and profound wine that drinks beautifully now but has the structure, fruit and balance to cellar for considerable time.
(2018) At 31 years old this is in marvellous condition and magical form. Cellared by me for the past 20 years or so, the colour is a bright, rich gold, and the nose is laden with botrytis notes of honey and glycerine, barley sugar and tea. There's a minty echo of oak and ripeness, but it is gloriously pure. In the mouth it is weighty without being sticky, with those lovely glycerine tones to the peachy, apricot and then lemony fruit, the sweetness perfectly balanced against the fresh, long, dry acidity that elongates the finish. What a lovely wine. Available as listed below at time of writing.
(2016) As he approaches his 80th birthday Gianfranco Soldera is still fully engaged and very much in command of this small, iconic estate in the hills of Tuscany. In a vertical tasting, all of the wines were just superb: truly world class red wines of infinite complexity and beauty and huge ageing potential. This 2006 had such a wonderful perfume, a massive tobacco and ashy background to pure, ripe cherry fruit, it is just fabulously complex. There's so much of that racy, vital character against immense sweetness of sour cherry and tobacco again, the texture and tannins creamy, but the agility and elegant length just majestic.
(2016) Just released and at time of review only available in-bond, the 2013 Runrig comes from the Hillside vineyards as always are the backbone, six plots along the Barossa hills, all dry farmed. Made in open-top fermenters then aged in French oak, around 40-50% new. Each vineyard is vinified separately and then assembled and blended with a touch of Viognier in most vintages – usually only around 1 to 1.5%. Fabulous nose here, just so much creamy black fruit, but always agile and lifted, with violet and floral notes, liquorice and graphite. There is huge intensity on the mid-palate, real depth of fruit and plushness, silky tannin structure and tightening acid freshness. Pretty fabulous already, but clearly with potential to cellar.
(2016) A blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Malbec. A delightful ripeness of cassis and black cherry, sweet juicy black plum flesh adding to the fruit forward, hedonistic appeal. The cedar and the chocolate add depth and layers, spicy and super concentrated. Fantastic palate, the gloss and purity are marvellous, so long and pure, the oak and the spice subsumed by the fruit purity.
(2016) Haunting, beguiling and seductive, so much finesse so much soulful, deep red fruit pulp ripeness but also smoke and tobacco, truffle and just a touch of undergrowth, but really it is creamy fruit. The beautiful fragrance transfers seamlessly to the palate. So much fruit, a complete strawberry fruit pulp punch with fabulous depth and delightful tannin and acid structure – still giving lovely support with the sweet fruit persisting.
(2016) No oak in this Cru – the only grand Cru without oak. On top of the Grand Cru on part Portlandian soils, so Benoit does not want to swamp the delicate aromas. Plenty of flinty reduction here, the ultra-freshness of the palate is stirking with streamlined salts and a juiciness. A very quiet wine, not shouting, but lovely and so refined.
(2015) Lovely nutty character with really dry acid structure, I am guessing this is France again, maybe northern again, if not Chablis then maybe Puligny? Lots of racy character but beautiful balance and the saline lick of the finish.Tasted blind. Price is in-bond.
(2014) I had not tasted Paul's top wine from the Napa Valley since the 2005 vintage, which was not a great one. And 2009? "It's the year when the tail end of a typhoon swept through the vineyards just at harvest time. It left in its wake a lot of humidity, and you could see grapes turning to "fuzz" in front of your eyes. We had to hand-pick everything because the tractors could not get into the vineyards, but we brought in some really nice fruit." 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the nose is so complex, so cedary and tobacco-touched, with a tiny note of green olive and graphite over very refined black fruit - hinting at blueberry and damson blackness. The palate displays such beautiful graphite, edgy, superbly poised black fruit. There's a light resinous quality, but it is really just concentration of sheer and smooth tannins and fruit. There really is copious sweet fruit, but always edged with that sheerness and grip. Lovely balance, the final impression is all about sweet, ripe, rounded and supple black fruit.