(2023) Garrus must, I suspect, blow the minds of some tasters. It's enough trying to get ones head around a rosé that sells for more than £100 per bottle, but this wine is also anything but 'showy'. Instead, this blend of Grenache and Vermentino is subtle, restrained and intellectual. It seems obvious that the ambition of Sacha Lichine of Château d’Esclans is to create a pink wine with the qualities of a fine white Burgundy: vines are 100 years old, and the wine is fermented and aged 10 months in 100% new oak - though the the barrels are big 600-litre 'demi-muids', so there no overt 'oakiness' on either nose or palate. Instead, intense and concentrated small red berry fruits mingle with firm lemon and ripe apple, a minerality at the core of the aroma giving a strict but inviting character. In the mouth this is so youthful and will surely improve over a decade or more, though for now it is deliciously powerful and yet linear and taut. Those small red berry flavours ease into gentle spice, with the subtlest oak creaminess and plenty of shimmering acidity.
(2023) If you follow the results of the various wine competitions, then how about a 97-point wine for just £12.95, the award coming from Decanter magazine? This Malbec, from vineyards at 1,200 metres in the Tupungato Valley, was made with the assistance of consultant Michel Rolland. It really is a lovely wine - it would not score 97 points from me, but that's unimportant. What is important is that it is a svelte and luxurious, deeply-black fruited Malbec that also shows the fragrant, violet-scented side of the variety. Plush and mouth-filling too, the sweet richness of the fruit is offset by creamy tannins and pert cherry acidity. Excellent value for money - whatever the points score. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) The Chocolate Block is a wine that has developed a devoted following over the years, based mainly on Syrah grown in the Swartland. It's made by Boekenhoutskloof, and a fair chunk of the fruit comes from their Porseleinberg vineyard, a wild and rocky place widely regarded as one of Swartland's best terroirs. The nose is all about mocha and spice, and a wild berry fruitiness that comes through - the 'chocolate' is a subtle reference, as this is about spicy, peppery fruit at heart. There's grip aplenty on the palate, a streak of meaty umami character, gripping sandy tannins and edged with a vivid acidity for gastronomic appeal. Not to be confused with the rather sickly vogue for chocolate or coffee-flavoured wines, this remains a class act. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Fans of Whispering Angel will notice a slightly more gastronomic, mineral and meaty character here, Esclans cuvées from this point up seeing some barrrel fermention, of Grenache, Cinsault and Vermentino. Peachy-pink, this is in some ways a sweet spot on price and quality for the whole, impressive range: intense, concentrated peach fruit, but with a keen raspberry edge of mouth-watering tartness, minerals and a touch of savoury tannin into a long, shimmering finish.
(2022) A pale and rather lovely Provence blend of Grenache,  Cinsault and Syrah, this is all fragrant, light berries, watercolour paint and a touch of watermelon. The palate is bone dry and wonderfully brisk and racy, the small, firm, red berry fruits running into rosy red apple and lemon acidity that is decisive without being at all harsh.
(2022) Merlot dominates the blend here (85%), along with Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Petit Verdot (5%), but have no fear that this will be at all jammy or soft: it's a structured wine of tension and a certain raciness, the sweet and ripe black fruit finely etched with graphite and tobacco, the palate walking a fine line between plump black berries and a sinewy, steely core of tannin and acid very successfully. This has cellaring potential, but is just entering a window of very pleasurable drinkabity.
(2022) The estate wine is partly vinified in larger oak barrels and blends Grenache and Syrah with Vermentino. There's an attractive peachiness on the nose here, but mostly tight, small red berries and a wisp of salt. The palate is firm and has a really decisive, dry, grippy citrus core that is eminently food-friendly. Long, structured, with a saline edge, it's a lively and serious wine.
(2021) The blend here is old vine Grenache, Vermentino and Syrah, a selection of fruit, with fermentation and 10 months ageing in 600-litre barrels, new and second use. It immediately gives an impression of cool precision on the nose, a little lemon and lemon bon-bon note, yes some small, taut red berries, but intense, salty and mineral like a slatey dry Riesling in some ways, the oak more or less imperceptable in the aroma. In the mouth there's a sweetness to the fruit, a little dusting of icing sugar over frozen red berries, just giving up their juiciness, but again this is ultra-cool and elegant. The oak adds a creaminess, as much to the texture as the flavour, and the poise and effortless elegance extends and clarifies into a long, long finish. Superb, and though different from Garrus, for me giving more or less equal pleasure.