(2019) The latest incarnation of a regular favourite and one that, in the opinion of d'Esclans founder, Sacha Lichine, is the best ever made. Sadly, it is also the last made by celebrated winemaker Patrick Léon who died in December (Patrick was winemaker at Mouton Rothschild before creating Whispering Angel in 2006). A blend of Grenache, Rolle and Cinsault, is the colour a touch deeper than usual? It certainly has bags of fruit in the aroma, not only tangy citrus peel but small red berries and a delicate more floral and rose-hip perfume. In the mouth it is bone-dry, with precision to the fruit and a sense of both substance and finesse. From Vineyards Direct offer the wine 'en primeur' until the end of February 2019, at £132 per case. Duty and VAT will be payable when delivered in March, so the per bottle equivalent will be around £15.77 - guaranteed to be at least £2 per bottle cheaper than the price once on the shelf. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) An interesting and perhaps surprising new wine in the extensive Caves d'Esclans line-up, the subtle elegance of thier usual packaging his gone a bit tropical in this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, which has a marginally deeper colour than the regular Whispering Angel bottling, and a little more ripe upfront fruit, even a whiff of banana before small red berry fruit. Dry and elegant in the finish, it is certainly distinct from the pale minerality of the Whispering Angel, but very good.
(2018) From an estate in Côtes de Provence, a typically pale and restrained rosé, watermellon and redcurrant aromas, a touch of zesty lemon. In the mouth it is dry and tangy, a touch of tangerine or bitter orange against the light red fruits and fresh citrus and salt acidity. Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault is the blend.
(2018) Is this the UK's most loved rosé wine? It's not the cheapest, and not the biggest selling, but if my postbag is anything to go by it's the one an awful lot of wine lovers have at #1. Why? Well it's a Provence rosé made from local varieties Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Rolle and Tibouren in the most delicate and pure style. Extremely careful selection of grapes and super-gentle handling gives a wine that is full of fruit on the nose, crushed redcurrants and raspberries, but a glimpse of sherbet lemons and ozone freshness too. In the mouth the texture is silky and slippery, but the sheer concentration of tangy pink grapefruit, tart red berries and zesty acidity streaks across the palate, a long, elegantly tapering finish giving terrific definition and drawing the wine to a lovely diminuendo finish. Note that this is being offered en primeur by From Vineyards Direct until end February 2018, at £10.50 per bottle. Duty and VAT will be payable once the wine has shipped in March, and it will go on sale at around £17.95 per bottle. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) I've reviewed several of the premium 'Ghost Corner' wines of winemaker David Nieuwoudt in the past, but fewer from his Cederberg project in a remote, high-altitude region where few others make wine. It's a fresh and vibrant style of Sauvignon, very pale in colour but with nettle and asparagus as well as peachy fruit. In the mouth it punches through in nervy, dry style, lots of mineral salts and lemon, just tempered by that hint of peachiness, but all about the steely clarity of the finish.
(2017) I last tasted this wine 'en primeur' in 2011 when I rated it 89 points, so nice to come across it again with six years more in bottle. The estate is managed by Alain Vauthier of the famous Château Ausone, and the wine is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. There's a gentle floral aspect to the nose, but that's part of a fairly complex picture with savoury, dark fruit and hints of earthiness, green pepper and some cocoa. On the palate it is juicy and lean, the tannins and very plum-skin grip of acidity give it definition, but there's a hint of cocoa and coffee again, and sufficient berry fruit to make it very appealing along with some roast beef perhaps.
(2017) Maybe it's the cool of the high altitude vineyards, but there's a touch of the Sauvignon Blancs about this Chenin, certainly exotic fruit and gooseberry notes, as well as a more expected apple and light lanolin quality. A blast of tangy pink grapefruit reverberates across the palate, a great core of acidity punching through, some melon skin and lime peel bite and texture, and a long, dry finish of some style.
(2017) Production of this Merlot-dominated blend seems to be taken quite seriously, produced only in excellent years when Maltus can source fruit of the correct quality, and stated as having at least five years cellaring potential.
(2017) I've previously reviewed and recommended the St Julien 2010 bottled for FromVineyardsDirect from the vineyards of a famous second growth Chāteau, and I have to say this 2014 Pauillac is equally good. Once again the producer is not revealed, but it is a declassifed Cru Classé, possibly made from the estate's younger vines, or simply a surplus that was not needed in the blend - this wine is dominated by Merlot. It is svelte and plush on the nose, deep black fruit and a hint of graphite and cedar. In the mouth it has tension and structure, a grip of youthful tannin, but the savoury, lightly gamy and meaty presence speaks of the wine's class and heritage, the finish long, chewy, but agile. Though drinking well already, this will cellar for several years.
(2017) I have previously enjoyed the 2009 vintage of this Cru Bourgeois wine from the Médoc, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, that has good, intense fruit event nine years on, currant and plum and a spicy richness. In the mouth the ripeness is apparent, a hint of lush, sweet red berries, but then classic left-bank firmness of tannins and the stripe of acidity give the finish a taut, if very slightly lean appeal.