(2022) These vines truly are vieilles, or 'old', here in the high Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, at 70 years of age. Cinsault was the chosen variety for the Jesuit missionaries who planted cutting here in the 19th century, a slice of Lebanese history in more ways than one. The wine is fermented with wild yeasts, from organically-grown grapes, and is aged partly in large oak foudres, and partly in concrete vats. There's a swirling, smoky, tobacco character as well as classic cigar-box notes to keen but ripe red and black fruits. In the mouth there's loads of fleshy plum, but with a lean and muscular edge. Spices and the oak component adding savoury, smooth tannins and crisp cherry acids to balance the sweet and ripe mid-palate fruit. A lovely wine.
(2022) Nero d'Avola is the signature red wine grape of the Italian island of Sicily, but it has been increasing in popularity world-wide, including in Australia. This is a lovely example from McPherson Wines' Italianate range, Bella Luna, which sees some oak but is very much fruit-forward. It bursts with blackberry and cherry juiciness and aromatics, touches of floral character too, before a flood of fruit on the palate. There is silkiness and depth, but always a nice bright fruit and acid profile along with modest tannins to make for an easy drinking, but classy mouthful of wine. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2021) From 25-year-old vineyards on the slopes between 50 and 180 metres, this comes from Monbazillac in Bergerac, just next to Bordeaux and the famous sweet wines of Sauternes. Using mainly Sémillon plus Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of Muscadelle, this is matured for 24 months after fermentation in tanks. It has a lighter-styled, late-harvest rather than heavily Bortytised nose, some leaf tea and gentle fig notes, then a palate showing loads of juicy exotic fruit sweetness, medium-bodied, a little bitter lemon character comes through, freshening this very nicely. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) Is this a unique wine in the whole wide world? My guess would be yes: it's a Tannat from Uruguay, fortified with brandy much like a Port or Madeira, and infused with aromatic herbs, flowers and spices. The label quotes "winter flowers, Madagascan vanilla bean and wild apple mint." It has a deep ruby colour tinged with tawny, and a fabulous nose: like a cup of hot chocolate to begin with, moving into spicy black fruits and all the time a slightly other-worldly set of estery aromas in the background. On the palate it is rich and thick-textured, with plenty of luscious black cherry sweetness, but again it's as though some dark chocolate had been stirred in, some orange-like bite and acidity, and a long, warming finish. Unusual for sure, and very interesting. Price for 50cls. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2021) A fabulous rendition of Sauvignon Blanc this, which went down a storm with tasters on my recent online tasting of New Zealand wines, becoming one of the highest scoring wines of any tasting I have presented. It marches to a distinctive beat, being certified organic, and fermented with wild yeast in French oak barrels. Made from a mix of Loire and Bordeaux Sauvignon clones, it bursts with southern hemisphere ripeness, notes of nectarine and juicy ogen melon, creamy almond supporting, and enough lime-like vivaciousness too. In the mouth the picture is similar: so juicy and sweet in terms of the fruit, but underpinned by that broader creaminess of texture and with dazzling acidity streaking through the finish. In many independent retailers as well as some Waitrose stores. Use the wine-searcher link to find other stockists and watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2021) The name of this wine translates to 'Stony Hill', the grapes coming from the rockiest slopes on the Banfi estate in Tuscany. Currants and fresh red berries on the nose, little oak influence if any, just a touch of dusty green olive from the Cabernet component. Plenty of cherry-ripe sweetness on the palate, blackberries too, combining some fruit depth with fresher, lightly herbal notes. Plenty of creamy sweetness here with a sour tang of orange to the acidity.
(2021) A really nicely made Viognier this, from Viu Manent's Colchagua estate, 13.5% and well balanced. The nose offers precise pear and light peach fruit aromas, a hint of vanilla in there too. On the palate the fruit is ripe and sweet0edged, more peach and flirting with mango and tropical notes, but very good, dry, slightly salty lemon acidity pushes out the finish. Quite a concentrated style, but well done.
(2021) 2020 is shaping up to be a great vintage in the Marlborough region, especially for Sauvingon Blanc, where some winemakers I have spoken to rate it as one of the best harvests of recent times. This is also the best Sauvignon Blanc I have tasted from Allan Scott, and one of the most perfumed and aromatic too. Loads of vivid, scented talcumy tropical fruit leaps from the glass, passion fruit and mango and lychee, florals too with so much fragrance. The palate bursts with similar exotic fruit, nicely pitched acidity, juicy concentrated fruit and great balance into a long finish. £9.99 from N.D. John at time of review. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) This wine from the small DOC of Ostuni, is made from the Ottavienello variety, the local name for the Cinsault grape. There's a lovely fragrance here, a hint of violets and dried aromatic herbs, ripe red fruits and a certain earthy, briar quality. The palate is flooded with sweet, plush fruit, but there's an underpinning of coffee and cream, a little truffle and Pinot-like mushroom that suffuses the finish, tannins ripe and creamy and excellent acid balance. What a delicious wine. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2021) Alan Scott is a sizeable producer of quality commercial wines, with vineyards neighbouring Cloudy Bay in Marlborough. This has an obvious degree of residual sugar sweetness, which is common with Pinot Gris, both from Marlborough and the original model for such wines, Alsace. It is rich in aroma, flavour and texture, the character quite tropical, with orange peel and juicy citrus playing against that sweetness and medium- to full-bodied, mouth-filling weight. Versatile for sipping on its own or with some foods, watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.