(2023) A rare beast, a tawny Port blended from wines matured for five decades in oak casks, a collector’s edition released in very limited quantities. A dark tany/caramel in colour, the nose is resinous and deep, polished wood, meatiness of umami, plus clove and cinammon spices. In the mouth, extraordinary raisiny intensity, marmalade and mollases coating prune, and yet intense angelica brilliance too. Plenty of acidity against the chocolate richness of the finish.
(2023) Istvan Szepsy, a legendary winemaker, has handed over vinification to his son Istvan junior. Vines planted in 1936 with lots of different Furmint clones produce a truly great wine. Harmonious, concentrated and long with all the concomitants in balance. Structure from 300-litre barrels (none new). Not made every year, but 2017 available in Hedonism with this vintage likely to be shortly. (GD)
(2023) From a single vineyard of 40-year-old vines on granite soils in Salnés, free-run juice is fermented with indigenous yeast and aged on the lees for a full 36 months. This has a fabulous nose, blending exotic and luscious fruit with a more steely, lemon and salts firmness, but an oatmeally sense of richness too. The palate echoes the nose, weighty and rich, gently nutty, but with a beautiful limey fruit purity and acid finish.
(2022) From a mature vineyard at 250m above sea level on gravel and sand. The must is divided between steel tanks, terracotta amphorae (with seven months skin contact), and small, French oak barrels. Gorgeous nose, crushed oatmeal and almond over creamy apple pie with a hint of something more floral and lightly wild and herbal. The palate has a beautiful combination of sweets ripe fruit, that sheen of creamy, nutty oak and a fabulous citrus zest and brilliance in the finish. A terrific Chardonnay with equal poise and pleasure.
(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.