(2023) From a single block of Chardonnay, this is the first time Klein Constantia have had the correct vintage conditions to make a zero dosage cuvée - this has less than 2g/l of residual sugar. Sherbetty notes are joined by developed autolytic notes that are bready and yeasty. There's a sour lemon background. In the mouth it is of course dry, with pithy lemon and grapefruit, but not aggressive. That little bit of creamy leesiness and again some sour lemon gives this balance in the finish, a fresh and featherlight style.
(2023) It's around a decade since I had a big wine touring professional trip to Ontario, but having returned on holiday late in 2023 I discovered just how much the wine industry on the Niagara Peninsula had grown, and how good the wines were. Here's a Niagara Pinot were whole clusters where wild yeast-fermented before 23 months in French oak. And it is a lovely wine: pale and almost translucent, sous-bois and cherry, a gentle smokiness and a sappy touch of something herbal to add interest. In the mouth the coffee character from the barrels gives a really gentle and dark underpinning to the fruit. Tannins are elegant and acidity well-balanced, in a rather lovely Pinot.
(2023) There's also 12% Barbera in this Italianate blend, picked relatively early, the wine co-fermented with wild yeasts. It was aged in older oak for three months before bottling. Creamy black berries infuse the nose, hints of spice and chocolate, but a brightness too. The palate has plenty of bite from plum-skin acid and tannin, dry and savoury, the acid forms a very direct core through plummy red fruits. Good length.
(2022) A Grüner Veltliner from the cool Finger Lakes in upstate New York, home to some excellent Riesling, so why not Grüner? There's an elderflower and gooseberry twist to this, quite Sauvignon-like, then the palate broadens into a fleshy and ripe, even just off-dry mouthful of peach and mango exoticism. Tangy apple and citrus notes join toward the finish, to leave this very sippable and Oriental cuisine-friendly.
(2022) From vines with an average age of 25 years grown on predominantly gravel soils. There's 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec in the blend and the wine spent 14 months in French oak, 40% new barrels. It's a rich, deep, cherry- and blackcurrant-scented wine, with a definite, firm herbal and cedary edge. In the mouth quite buoyant and ripe black and red fruits, a lean spine of acid and fine tannins, leaving it fresh and quite racy on the finish.
(2021) A white Vermouth (think Martini or Cinzano Bianca) but this one from Spain and emphasing more of the local citrus fruit in its aromas and flavours. Aromatic herbs and the peel of several different citrus fruits are macerated for several months then blended with an aged white mistela (sweet wine) to give a sweet but very grown up Vermouth full of interesting nuances. There's angelica, anise and basil, lots of leafy green herbs and that citrus hint of lime and mandarin orange. In the mouth there's no mistaking the concentration and intensity here, or the 18% alcohol, but the layers of smoky, fruity and herbal flavours run with delightful acidity to the finish. Drink on its own with ice, or as the base for Martinis and other cocktails. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) An arresting nose of pink grapefruit and burstingly-ripe nectarine on this Sauvignon Blanc (with some Riesling and Pinot Gris in the blend I believe) from Steve Smith's Pyramid Valley. There's a preserved lemon suggestion of firmness too, taut and bright. In the mouth so juicy: more nectarine, very ripe melon, just a hint of more exotic fruit and a fat orangey tang. Textured and creamy-rich on the mid-palate, the juicy freshness is maintained by the squeeze of grapefruit acidity and salinity in the finish. Imported into the UK by Louis Latour Agencies. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) The label gives no clue, but this Blanc de Blancs, all-Chardonnay Crémant must be at the highest limit of 'Brut', with a definite sweet edge on the palate. Effervescent, fresh and charming, easy-going peachy fruit and a delicate mousse give way to that fairly sweet palate, not a lot of toast or autolysis evident, but there is a bit, and that suits the aperitif or lighter dessert credentials of this wine. The acid balance freshens the finish.
(2017) A big blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Cinsault and Mourvèdre, I tasted this from magnum, which looked glorious and which might have gained it an extra point for sheer impressiveness, but it is a lovely Provence pink. Peach down and soft strawberry pulp are tightened up by a fine lemony core, hints of seaside, ozoney air and good small red fruit on the palate, the finish is long, delicate and clean. Magnums at £29.95 from Southdown Cellars, who also sell by the bottle.
(2016) Lovely raspberry lift to this, a real sense of elegant freshness fom the first sniff, with little spice and tobacco touches, and some fudge notes, and still that fine red fruit freshness. The palate has that lovely nut husk hint of dryness, but such delightful wine.