(2019) From the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, only 650 cases were produced. Barrel fermentation lasted 42 days, then the wine was matured for 18 months in French oak barriques, 30% new. Natural yeast and minimal sulphur. Not at all dominated by the wood, a fragrant, lightly nutty character only, the palate very pure, the oak so refined, with a juiciness, a bright lemon jelly freshness, lovely, finesse and creaminess in the mouth. Stockist and price at time of writing are for the 2015 vintage.
(2019) Feels slightly broader on the nose, creamier, a touch more smokiness than the Quartz. The fruit bursts with ripe, nectarine and lightly flinty and smoky notes again. The fruit has a terrific sour apple and lemon acid tartness and precision, it has those mouth-watering, bitter notes that scythe through the burgeoning opulence of the fruit. Mouth-filing and delicious, with a hugely long finish. From 20- 30-year-old vine, this spent 11 months in neutral 500-litre French oak.
(2019) Fabulous peppery nose, so much floral and wild garrigue character, lots of red plum. The palate has silky sweet fruit at its core, but flooded with basil and bay leaf, meatiness and again that peppery spice. The fruit stays focused and linear at its heart, the taut acid framework and the big, powerful dry tannins give this immense pleasure and a suggestion of great age ability. Aged 12 months in 500-litre French, 25% new, then nine months in foudre.
(2019) From a single vineyard in the Kasteelberg on pure quartz soils. The vines average 36 years old. Lovely note of pure apple, a little baked apple and pastry, a touch of candy cane that is charming and also a touch of leafiness. The palate has lots of fruit, but a sparky, lightly flinty but bright fruit character, very focused, very good fruit-skin acidity, long with a mineral/stony and bright lemon and orange finish.
(2019) This is botrytis-affected Semillon, aged in barrel, with 180g/l of residual sugar. It spends 30 months in new French oak and is picked from the vineyard in front of the Franschhoek winery. Lovely toast and marmalade, there is toffee and barley sugar, a hint of mint, the fruit has an exotic fruitiness, with pineapple and bold tangerine juicy acidity, full texture and delicious length. Price for a half bottle.
(2019) Just a touch of reduction that blows off really quickly, smooth and elegant, filled wth glossy and bright red fruit, but just that edge of leafiness or earthiness. Sweet, ripe, again a cherry freshness, but a darker core that gives the concentration on the mid-palate and again typical Badenhorst dryness and lithe energy to the finish. Great value at its modest price.
(2019) Syrah is foot-trodden as whole bunches, and spends 11 months in old barrels. very composed, rounded character, with a touch of cool-climate herbaceousness, a touch of meatiness, the palate streaking with firm acidity and the rustic bite of the tannins; not rough, but grippy and tart like plum skins. Long and well balanced, a substantial yet elegant wine. Only 900 bottles made.
(2019) A fascinating mutation of Cinsault, not a blanc de noirs, made with skin contact and fermented in amphora, this is lovely with creaminess and a touch of light dusty earth, fine crisp palate, still has weight and texture and a lovely lemon confit finish, long and distinctive.
(2019) Gusbourne Blanc de BlancsFrom 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 after bottling in April 2015, the wine 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 (Riedel Veritas Champagne glass). The aromas are delicate. 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, the time on lees and perhaps that barrel component just rounding out the finish which tapers to a fine point.

Another very classy English sparkling wine.

(2019) champagne d:zI have very fond memories of Paillard's very low dosage 'Nec Plus Ultra' cuvée, which I haven't tasted for a while, so it was intriguing to taste this new zero dosage wine. A lot - 50% - is comprised of reserve wines with  vintages going back to 1985 in a solera-style system, and the majority of the blend was fermented in oak barrels. This bottle was disgorged in February 2018 after 36 months on the lees, as stated on the back label.

The mousse is fine and racy, the nose yeasty and bready, a touch of coffee, but a pure citrus and ripe pear and apple fruitiness too. On the palate this is a smooth and sophisticated glass of Champagne, the fruit cool and slick, the absence of sugar nicely balanced by ripe fruit and that weight and creaminess of autolysis. Quite full, even touching on peachy on the mid-palate, it is long and has a salty, moreish finish that is long and elegant.