(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.
(2020) From an estate owned by Bernard Magrez, whose portfoilio of properties includes Pape Clément, this Côtes de Provence Rosé marches to quite a different beat, from vines averaging 41 years of age and with a stated alcohol of 14.5% abv. That translates into a wine that is neither overripe nor particularly deeply coloured, but which has an intrinsic subtle power and intensity. Good, elegant and lifted red fruit notes dominate, but the palate has a real mineral salts streak on acidity along with cleansing citrus, for a concentrated and slightly more serious take on the style.
(2020) Solid ruby at the core but tawny towards the rim, this has a mellow, currant and sweet plum flesh nose, that undertow of game and sauvage quality is there, a firm graphite note still discernable. No sign of the slightly more animal character of a couple of bottles drunk many years ago. Lovely sweetness on the palate: pure blackcurrant and savoury, plum skin and bitter orange, tannins still spicy and taut, acidity balanced and gastronomic, and the wine drinking really well. I'd guess this is at, or has just peaked, and is for drinking now. Really very good indeed - complete mature Bordeaux experience.
(2020) A delightful Pessac-Léognan lookalike this,71% Sauvignon Blanc and 29% Semillon, matured in French oak barrels. A sheen of oatmeal and almond, a hint of butteriness, coats pristine lemon and stone fruit aromas. In the mouth just lovely balance and refinement, the fruit sweet and ripe, but a razor sharp edge of salts and citrus extends the finish, melding into more of that barrel-derived creaminess. Delightful. Price and stockist quoted at time of review are for a previous vintage.
(2020) From a great Sauternes vintage and one of the very top estates, expectations were high, but were fully met. I've tasted a few 2001s recently, and would say this is the pick of the bunch. From a half bottle, this retains a bright, golden hue whilst some cellared at the same time are considerably darker. On the nose there is lusciousness, with barley sugar and marmalade, but something brighter than pierces through, maybe somewhere between preserved lemon and salt, but it gives a distinctive, agile aromatic character. In the mouth, full glycerine-rich sweetness and unctuous texture, between nectarine juice and honey, but again that focus, that needle-sharp accuracy to the acidity, the edge of bitter orange, and such lovely length and balance. A fabulous Sauternes which is drinking so well now from the half bottle, but will certainly age further.
(2019) Just 6% merlot and 4% Petit Verdot qualify this as a Bordeaux blend, the 90% Cabernet Sauvignon hand harvested from the best vineyard plots and matured in fine grained French oak barrels for 20 months, 50% of the barrels new. A particularly dry and fine ripening season for the fruit, from 1978- and 1995-planted blocks. The colour is a deep crimson, and the nose is fragrant with a plush black berry fruitiness, intense cassis and lift of violet, and just a sheen of chocolaty oak. In the mouth the wine is concentrated, refined and juicy, there is a big backbone here, tight, fine tannins and crisp-edged acidity, as well as the tobacco and exotic spice of the barrel, but pure black fruit drives through the mid-palate. A wine that drinks beautifully now, but which will cellar for a decade and more. Note, stockist quoted at time of review is on a previous vintage.
(2019) Voyager Estate's 2016 Chardonnay is a class act, matured in French oak for 11 months (only 36% new barrels), and a complex blend of nine Chardonnay clones, naturally fermented with native yeasts. In many ways it is an exemplar of modern Australian Chardonnay, not over-ripe or over-oaked, with earlier picking lowering the alcohol and increasing the flinty, mineral-etched character of the wine. Some toasty and coffee-ish oak sets against stony, salty notes and lemon fruit, before the palate punches through, bright star fruit and Asian pear against more tropical fruits, the dazzle of pithy, zesty acidity, and all the time a lightly spicy and tobacco-infused infill from the time in barrel. A lovely Chardonnay, drinking well and it's savoury character bringing broad food-friendliness. Note: stockist at time of review is for an earlier vintage.
(2019) It's not just patriotism talking: this is fine Chardonnay, from selected fruit from the Boot Hill vineyard, whole bunch-pressed and fermented in French oak barrels (20% new), where it also aged for 10 months. Twenty percent of fruit was dropped mid-summer, to intensify flavour and concentration. Stylistically I guess it sits somewhere between Chablis with its 12% alcohol and cool-climate feel, and the Mâconnaise perhaps, that married to a creaminess and delicate but noticeable oak. There's flint and oatmeal on the nose, light almondy nuttiness and creamy orchard fruit. In the mouth that nutiness and delicate toast from the barrel matches up to firm, citrus and Cox's pippin fruit, the racy lemon and hint of salts in the finish adding to a sophisticated appeal.
(2019) This is a terrrific Champagne from Bruno Paillard, an equal blend of Chardonnay from Oger and le Mesnil and Pinot Noir from Mailly, of which 20% was barrel fermented. It has been aged for 10 years in the Maison’s cellars, seven of which were on the lees. It was disgorged in September 2017, and has a low dosage of 5g/l. With very fine and persistent bubbles, it has elegantly brioche- and biscuit-like notes that sit among creamy and nutty aromas, but lovely fruit freshness too, a direct, crisp character even with the leesy and biscuity autolysis of age. In the mouth the rolling mousse has luxurious texture and firmness, the fruit is all about crunchy Asian pear and citrus, then the delicate hazelnut and oatmeal character comes through. The finish is long, elegant, and although dry, there is charm, ripeness and no lack of approachability. A very fine Champagne this, pin-point accurate and taut, yet in no way austere or difficult.
(2019) Sealed with soft, yellow wax (and closed with a DIAM cork), this looks immediately inviting and, on opening, the fragrance just leaps from the glass: lots of redcurrant and cherry, but floral notes, spices, hints of gaminess and roasted chestnuts, altogether it displays a dazzling complexity and lots of charm. In the mouth it is substantial and yet ethereal. Grounding tannins and spice are layered through the decisive acid structure, yet there is gorgeous sweetness to the juicy red berry fruit, a tang of grapefruit or bitter Seville marmalade orange, and a hint of smokiness weaves through the finish. It's a classy Pinot that has everything: all-embracing sweet fruited charms, structure, gentleness and unfolding finesse. Terrific.