(2020) You're going to either love or hate this sparkling natural wine - and I loved it. A traditional method blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir aged 24 months on the lees, it is 'sold as seen', having not been disgorged - so it is cloudy with the expired yeast cells - and having received no dosage - so it is bone dry. Foamy and full, the colour is a hazy, cloudy yellow, and there's a big waft of cracked wheat to begin. That toastiness continues, joined by crisp citrus, then on the palate so dry and refreshing, the zestiness allied to that wheaty, yeasty, slightly weissbier character is lovely, making this intriguing, gastronomic and, in the end, very satisfying.
(2020) Assinatura is a blend of mainly Shiraz (80%), along with 10% Tempranillo and 10% Tannat, aged for 18 months in new French oak, and made only in exceptional years at this property - this is the first since 2014. Deeply coloured, it opens with plenty of Sandalwood spice and tobacco, a darkly-hued set of fruit aromas suggesting blackcurrant and plum, with a touch of smoky meatiness too. In the mouth the savoury black fruit dominates, still that distinctive spiciness, and yet more of the meaty, charcuterie quality. Firm acidity and tannins suggest this would benefit from decanting now, and should have decent cellaring potential too.
(2020) From its traditional home in the northern Rhône Valley, Viognier often makes very full-blown, ripe and rich wines tipping 15% alcohol. But here's a very different take, with only 12.5% alcohol I presume it is picked quite early, though the jasmine and lightly tropical aromas are expressive and typical of the variety. In the mouth there's a peach and apricot fruit character, though zesty, quite pithy acidity soon sweeps that up into the finish.
(2020) Arguably my favourite wine of this selection, only 2,000 bottles were produced of this rare Brazilian Semillon, aged in barrels made with oak staves but acacia wood heads, which does seem to add a little extra fragrance to the wine. Toasty notes prevail, along with lemon meringue pie notes of citrus and pastry, and something cool and herby, reminiscent of camomile tea. With 12% alcohol it puts me in mind of a young Hunter Valley Semillon, the palate showing bags of juicy citrus fruit and acidity, but something sweeter and more peachy just touching the mid palate. Finishing with plenty of creamy, almondy weight, it is a delightful wine.
(2020) Launching for the first time in the UK, and a young, multi award-winning winery, this is a seriously exciting find. It comes from the highlands of São Paulo state, just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, where it is too hot and wet to harvest in the usual month of March, so an extra pruning delays the onset of fruit so harvest takes place in August's cooler and drier conditions. All Syrah, aged nine months in French oak, the vineyards sit at 900-1200 metres altitude on granite soils. The colour is deep crimson, and the nose offers a creamy weight of black fruit, silky cocoa and a little touch of violet lift. In the mouth the supple, smooth creaminess of the fruit and tannins is beguiling, but this is medium-bodied and elegant rather than a blockbuster, a note of leaf tea and thyme adding to the sophistication into the long, lightly-spiced finish.
(2020) It's still relatively rare to see a varietal Alicante Bouschet, one of the tienturier varieties that has deep red flesh, making it a useful blending component to add colour to a wine, but in a few places including the Alentejo and here in Brazil, it is celebrated and making excellent wines. The colour is suitably saturated and dark, and the aromas are of spicy oak, plum and and grilled meat. There's a direct, smooth and mouth-filling rush of dark, earthy black fruit on the palate, with grippy but ripe tannins and a nice edge of bittersweet cocoa and plum skins to give bite. Despite a modest 13% alcohol it's a big, full-on style with plushness and oaky depths to spare.
(2019) Made by Michel Fabre, French owner-winemaker for Fabre-Montmayou in Argentina, and his own excellent estate in Cahors, this blends Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Ruby Cabernet. A deep violet/crimson colour, it's a bit more classical, more European in style than the Don Guerino Malbec for example, with meatier black fruit, though still with a cassis ripeness and a bit of violet lift emerging. In the mouth a leathery, coffeeish, deeply-hued set of flavours, a lot of fruit sweetness here though, the finish quite sweet with smooth texture and rounded tannin and acid balance.
(2019) Throughout central Europe, wines labeled 'Riesling' are often made from Welschriesling rather than the Rhine Riesling of Germany's top wines, an unrelated grape variety that tends to produce aromatic and crisp, easy-drinking wines. Such is precisely the case here, a particularly fragrant example with lemon verbena, apple and a touch of floral character. In the mouth it is all about the zesty freshness of apple and lime, but gentle, the acidity matched by just a touch of background sugar perhaps.
(2019) A muscular, meaty, meat-stocky aromas for this Brazilian Tannat from the Pizzato family, who are of Italian origin. A woodsmoke and vanilla character, loads of spices and warming fireside tones, just glimpses of a ripe, more vibrant black fruit beneath. In the mouth this is an all-encompassing, bear-hug of a wine, ripe and sweet black fruit floods the mid-palate, that creamy and smoky depth of oak supporting, but the edge of freshness to the tannins and the nippy, alert acidity gives lovely balance.
(2019) The northern Italian variety Teroldego, grown here in the hills of Serra Gaúcha. Black as pitch, the nose here is smoky and meaty, a wisp of bonfire smoke, but then a more floral, exotically spicy aspect comes through, a touch old roses and a deep blue-black fruitiness. In the mouth there's a juicy cherry and raspberry intensity here, that smokiness wreathed through the fruit, the tannins firm but not stern, and the balanced acidity giving a long, fruit-driven finish.