(2022) From a selection of the best parcels of fruit, aged in French oak barrels for 18 months, this wine was blended in cooperation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It is composed of 36% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus 14% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A very powerful and plush aroma, deeply-set with blue-black fruit, very polished graphite and creamy dark oak aromas, and with a lovely little pepper and floral lift. That polished depth carries through to the palate, where a sumptuous bed of black fruit and creamy, dark oak supports juicier hints of fruit and pert cherry-skin acidity, the finish filled with fruit and tobacco-like spices with excellent length. This must surely have considerable cellaring potential too.
(2022) What a lovely wine is this blend of Bordeaux varieties, aged 12 months in French oak and made in consultation with Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc. It has a flood of ripe raspberry-like red fruit, bright and touched with garrigue scents, then a palate that is seductively plush and darkly-fruited, the cocoa and tobacco spice of the barrels set against creamy black fruit, but still with that hint of brighter, red fruit freshness. Real polish to the tannins too, in a long and graceful finish.
(2021) Soils here in Victoria's Strathbogie Ranges are sandy loam overlying granite. This is from two Shiraz blocks planted in 1996 and 2013, and spent 12 months in mostly older French oak barrels and large casks. Dark purple/black, this is nicely aromatic, with peppercorns and some floral and herbal notes over refined, taut black fruits. Though labelled with 14.9% alcohol, it does carry it well, the palate firm and juicy thanks to a little endive bite of bittersweetness, very fine tannins and plenty of racy acidity. It's an intense but peppery and taut style.
(2020) Nutty notes over the red fruits, a subtle smokiness and hint of tobacco maybe. On the palate the fruit is ripe and sweet, sweet cherry and raspberry, a deepening note of bitter cocoa and suppleness to the tannins, again has that little Brazil nut smoothness and good balance, in a very crowd-pleasing but very good style.
(2019) A traditional method fizz with secondary fermentation in individual bottles, and made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Ken explains the technicalities of this wine, or rather the vineyards, which ripen three weeks later than other Chenin plots, so perfect for picking with lower potential alcohol as sparkling base wine. It spends 27 months on lees and in bottle before release. Fine mousse, delicious fruit, long, and though there is a creaminess here it has real crunch and absolute freshness.
(2019) Sauvignon Blanc 60%, Assyrtiko 40% and super-fresh and citrussy, good pure Sancerre-like Sauvignon aromas. Lovely running-water clarity, peach and nectarine verging into pineapple. Deliciously appealing style, so much sweet fruit but excellent acid balance.
(2019) From the Barba Yannis single block of 99-year-old ungrafted vines, this was fermented with wild yeasts. The soils are 90% sand at 650 metres, and this was harvested at an extremely low 20hl/ha and spent years in all new oak. Complex, elegant, has the wild herb and floral edge to rich black fruit. Spicy and textured, but has a red fruit elegance too, spices and so much fresh acidity into the finish against the refined tannins.
(2018) With fascinating coincidence I tasted this white wine immediately after tasting an excellent Assyrtiko from Greek producer Akrathos. Fascinating because Château Ksara have described this 100% Merwah wine as Lebanon's answer to Assyrtiko. I've rarely tasted Merwah before, and mostly that was as an important part of the blend in the white wine of Château Musar, which is a very different beast from this. Quite fragrant and bright with apples and lemons, the palate has a distinctly salty character, like sucking on a salted lemon, but there is fat and hints of a greengage plum roundness too - despite only having 12.5% alcohol - in a wine that will appeal to those keen to try something different, though perhaps best drunk with fish or a prawn or lobster pasta perhaps. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) From the super-impressive Alpha Estate in Greek Macedonia, this has the delicate Provençal colour and character, spices, small hard red berries and a touch of watermelon. Made by running off some juice from the red wine cuvée, 'Hedgehog', after two hours in the press, it has a nice salty mineral freshness. Long and nicely done.
(2018) In 2013 the blend was 30% old vines Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (parcels: Faubourg D'enfer, Croix Blanche, Pruche), 25% Pinot Noir from Aÿ (parcels: Cheuzelles, Pierre Robert, Le Leon), 35% old vines Chardonnay from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (parcels: Beauregard, Ramonette, Buisson Saint Loup) and 10% Chardonnay from Oiry and Chouilly. Fermented in stainless steel from the coeur de cuvée, with a dosage of 6.5 g/l. On paper, this vintage was similar to 2012, with a combination of high acidity and high potential alcohol. However, unlike the previous vintage, flowering was much later, leading to a late September and early October harvest. Cuvées from this year possess a minerality, freshness, and coolness of fruit that reminds me of 2008. The Hebrart 2013 Special Club is especially fine, with its throttled back aromatics and desirable austerity. This Champagne will certainly take a while to show its hand, but I have no doubts that given time, it will give the 2012 a run for its money and possibly earn a score of 94/100 too. Drink: 2024-2032.