(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) 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) 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.
(2019) Beautiful nose, less dominated by the oak than the 2013 Legado, and of course with 10 years under its belt. Beautiful lift and floral edges, some ash and coffee comes through, that signature freshness again, that bittersweet cocoa and dark cherry edge of tart acidity, this is long - very long - and has such layered savoury qualities, vast intensity and such freshness. 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 10% Tinta Roriz and 10% Tinto Cão.
(2019) Just a touch musty at first, the aromatics a little suppressed, but with some agitation it begins to open and show the aromatics, those floral edges to meat-stock and figgy aromas, in the mouth lovely creaminess to the tannins, another lovely wine, though perhaps the 2008 showing a little better on the day.
(2019) A small percentage of this was matured in amphora, almost all Alicante Bouschet with a little Syrah. Beautifully pure nose, pepper and hints of flowers, also a mocha note in the background, with a little sizzle of bacon fat. Freshness with fleshy plum and pepper-spiced, fat cherry fruit. Lovely endive bite of bitterness and cocoa to the long, pure, very fine tannin finish.
(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) 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.