(2022) The vineyards for this wine are 10 years old, located at 250m above sea level on sand and limestone soils. Fermentated with indigenous yeasts, it was matured for over 10 months in small oak barrels. Really very pale and translucent in colour, the nose is earthy, warm, with mushroom and truffle over ripe red berries. Small floral and herb nuances add complexity. In the mouth a wonderfully sweet, peppery and spicy array of gentle flavours have a ripeness, but there's also a firm, twiggy bracken and cherry firmness to the taut tannins and acidity. Long and delicious, it is an outstanding Italian Pinot.
(2021) Quite reserved, quite classical, with some gravel and blackcurrant on the nose, a delicate graphite note and subtle oak. Very European in style. The palate bursts with real sweet fruit intensity, ripe cassis flavours, lots of juiciness and tang, but an infill of coffee-smooth tannins and fairly brisk acidity lengthens the finish. Possibly not Bordeaux, but with a Bordeaux sensibility?
(2021) From the clay and sandy loam soils of Appledore in Kent, this all-Chardonnay cuvée comes from a very good year, the harvest completed by 7th October. A small percentage of the blend was fermented in older oak barrels, and it spent a full 42 months on the lees prior to disgorgement. The colour is an attractive pale gold, with a foamy mousse and plenty of very small bubbles rising steadily in the glass. There is a touch of buttery pastry, a fine biscuity and oatmeal sheen, and fruit that has a touch of rich figgy quality, but is mostly about fresh citrus and summer pears. In the mouth, despite a modest dosage of 7g/l, there is an abundant sense of sweetness from the ripe fruit. It's a lovely style this, not at all austere, yet precise and super-fresh.
(2021) Darker, more opaque and less developed in colour, this is much more driven by the ripe, taut, creamy black fruit than by the cedar and spice aromatically, a great creaminess and deep pool of aromas that are much more Shiraz (in fact, this did have an unusually high percentage of Shiraz for this wine, at 45%). Very intense on the palate - different from the 2012 too - with dry, intense plum and plum skins, great concentration and purity, and again that saltiness in the finsh melding with the vanillin from French oak. Intense, delicious.
(2021) The only white wine tasted here, though the domaine also produces a Chevalier-Montrachet, the 'Cailleret' name of this Premier Cru comes from the high pebble presence in the vineyard, planted in 1976 and purchased from the Chartron family in 2004. Benoit explains that historiclly it was regarded as a 'Grand Cru', but some historical local politics meant it enjoys the Premier Cru designation. There's a gorgeous lemon-butter shortbread richness on the nose, but that does not dominate: a steely, stony citrus takes the honours. In the mouth a great thrust of lemon again and a really intriguing orange note to the acidity, almost like the bite of a Negroni, shimmering with energy into the long finish. A delicious bitter-sweet and long finish to the wine.
(2021) What a lovely young wine this is, from a 'monopole' walled vineyard in the middle of Volnay, extending to 2.3 hectares and named 'Bousse d'Or' because authorities would not allow a domaine and vineyard of the same name. Vineyards were planted between the 1950s and 1970s. There's a delightful raspberry-scented, bright red fruit character here, spices, flowers and pomegranate in a fragrant and crunchy profile. In the mouth it is so racy and bright, etched and edged by its acidity and tight tannins, the character is red fruited again, with fine length and lots of character. Price quoted at time of review is for the previous vintage.
(2021) From a famous vineyard with an easterly sun exposure, the soil a mixture of clay and limestone, half of the vines were planted in 1979, the remainder in 1987. Benoit thinks the red wines of Corton are under-appreciated and under-valued, perhaps based on poorer wines once made by local négociants. Good depth of colour but far from opaque. So much more meaty substance than the Volnay, earthy, smoky, meaty. The perfume begins to emerge and certainly on tasting the sweet, ripe, cherry fruit is almost surprisingly bright, but there is that earthy, truffly character too, quite a masculine spine of tannin, but it is not at all austere or overly muscular. Perhaps lacks a touch of the zipping freshness of some others here, but very fine indeed. Price is for the previous vintage at time of review.
(2020) What a fascinating wine, made only in the best years from a selection of the best grapes, this is aged for 10 years before release and is certainly the most expensive Gavi I have tasted by an order of magnitude. This has some skin maceration as well as wild yeast fermentation, the 10 years of ageing all on the lees, and all in small steel barrels, for a very unusual wine. The colour is light gold-green, and the nose has wonderful buttery mint notes, some Chablis-like flint and a crushed almond beneath. In the mouth there's a raft of cool, mouth-watering apple and lemon fruit, quite a rich texture, and that wet stone character. Long and poised it stays cool and precise and is an exceptional wine in many ways.
(2020) From a selection of the best vineyard plots of Vasse Felix's estate, the lenedary 'Heytesbury' was aged in French oak barriques, 53% New. It strikes a fine, fine mid-way point between schisty and smoky minerality and ripe fruited generosity, notes of flint and cordite melding with peach and honeydew melon. On the palate medium-bodied and creamy in texture, the acid balance is perfect really, tensioning a picture of hazelnut and ripe, juicy apple and nectarine, a shimmering freshness extending into a long, delicate, but intense finishe. Note that Ocado lists the 2016 at £39.95, so this new vintage may become available for a little bit less in due course.
(2020) Fruit for this wine comes from just 820 "gnarly, very old bush vines," planted in 1889. Winemaker Kevin Glastonbury says that despite now being more than 130 years old, the vines continue to produce small quantities of exceptional grapes. The vineyard has deep sandy soils with red clay layers and the vines draw moisture from the underlying clay. Wild yeast starts the fermentation process and the wine spends fully 41 days on the skins. There must be minimal extraction used however, as it has such a pale and transparent colour, and such a gentle nose, walnut and coffee cake, autumnal dry leaves and soft red berry fruit. It is very charming. In the mouth that cranberry and redcurrant fruit continues, but it is really quite delicate with lacey tannins and gently insistent acidity, giving this lots of elegance and prettiness, but with a freshness and little hint of biting austerity too. Lovely. Kevin describes it as 'still a baby', with the ability to age for several years. Price and stockist at time of review is for the previous vintage.