(2023) There's a tiny production of this wine, of which I have loved every release so far. It's Ken's nod towards natural wine, a blend of five vintages from an ungrafted vineyard planted in 1959 at 600 metres in Piekenierskloof and aged in barrel. Wonderfully creamy, keen, fresh citrus and apple acidity. Yes, it has the earthy character I associate with wild ferment and leesy natural wines, but is pin-sharp and oh so delicious.
(2023) Twenty percent new oak for this, the rest older. It's also a wine that's part of the Old Vine project and comes from a year when the measure of diurnal shift (difference between day and night temperatures) was the highest in 20 years. There is a light minty Buttery finesse to the pin sharp fruit here, real clarity and yet a certain honeyed weight and lusciousness.
(2023) This MCC spends 24 months on lees, then nine months post disgorgement before release. Very bright, zingy green apple with plenty of fruit. Searing acid is tempered by the sweet, luscious mid palate.
(2023) A 50/50 blend of Maturana Blanca and Tempranillo Blanco from vineyards in Cuzcurrita with an extreme Continental climate, planted on shallow gravel soils. Fermentation with some solids, the Maturana slightly cooler than the Tempranillo to retain its floral character. Roughly equal proportions aged on lees in concrete, amphora and 600-litre barrels for six months, before the blend was assembled and spent another six months in 225-litre French oak barriques, and 14 months in bottle. Beautifully creamy almond and hazelnut refinement. A little buttery character and stone fruit aromas. The palate has a very nice balance of juiciness suggesting lemon and orange, and a weightier feel in both texture and creamy, nuttier character. Long and very elegant. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for the previous vintage.
(2023) 100% Garnacha, from north-facing vineyards in the Sierra de Yerga. Fermentation was in concrete with a proportion of stems, followed by six months ageing in amphora, 600-litre barrel and concrete before assembling the blend from a further period in 225-litre French oak barriques. Relatively pale-to-medium colour. Smoky, grilled-meat, and savoury, black fruits seem dry and quite serious, the oak sitting gently. Those florals and more herby red fruits do come through. Delightful palate, quite a lot of espresso and chocolate comes through, but there is agility, a fresh, spicy and lemony edge that gives lovely freshness. Long and very fine. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for the previous vintage.
(2023) The blend is 50% Maturana Blanca and 50% Tempranillo Blanco, with similar winemaking to the 2018 and the red variant: fermentation and lees ageing in concrete vats, amphorae and 600 litre casks before blending and ageing a further six months in French oak barriques. The oak adds a vanillin creaminess that is quite apparent on first sniff of this golden-green wine, with yellow apple and lime aromas, a little spiciness too. In the mouth creamy textured, with a whisper of tobacco spice, more fleshy white fruits and a real tang of pithy citrus in the finish. Rich but fine.
(2023) Again, 100% high altitude Garnacha like the 2018, made in a combination of concrete tanks, amphorae and 600-litre French oak barrels, blended and aged a further eight months in 225-litre French casks. This expresses a svelte, floral-touched creaminess on the nose. Really quite a pretty red wine, the creamy but subtle oak not masking the buoyant red and black fruit flavours. Nicely balanced, the finish has smooth tannins and a good level of acidity, just a little coffee and spice, and balsamic edge, all showing through.
(2022) From the company founded by Susana Balbo in 1999, this comes from vineyards in the Uco Valey a almost 4,000ft, the premium selection of grapes spending 13 months in French oak, 30% new. It displays Malbec's more charming, violet and lifted, kirsch-like aspect beautifully. the sheen of oak is glossy and adds depth, with a little cigar-box sophistication. In the mouth it's über-plush, svelte and refined black fruit flooding-across the mid-palate. But there is backbone and edge to this wine too, that smooth character cajoled and coaxed into something more grippy and intense by big, powerful grape and oak tannins, really decisive acidity, and a smoky barrel-created depth. It's a concentrated but elegant Malbec that certainly needs a chunk of red meat protein now, but which should cellar for a decade and more.
(2021) I've tasted most vintages of this Riojan pink over the past six years or so and I'd say this is the best yet. 85% Garnacha (Grenache) and 15% Viura from higher altitude vineyards, it is a very pale pink and offers fresh floral notes, a little strawberry and feshly-sliced pear. On the palate 12.5% abv gives it a light, elegant character with very well-balanced acidity.