(2023) A blend of the three main Champagne grapes, though dominated by Chardonnay, this is a typically fresh and dry wine from Legras & Haas. It is not without fruit, elegance or charm. A fine, foamy mousse reveals plenty of sour lemon and lime, mouthwatering fruit and a long, delicately saline finish. Nice touch of creaminess to the texture.
(2023) The term 'Col Fondo', meaning 'with sediment', indicates the unusual style of this Prosecco, which is not disgorged and pours a cloudy off-white thanks to the yeast still in suspension (invert the bottle a couple of times before opening). It comes from the higher quality DOCG area of Asolo and is organic certified. The other very unusual aspect is that it was fermented with indigenous yeasts and has zero dosage, both far from the Prosecco norm. Bottled somewhere between frizzante and spumante, it fizzes gently and offers lemon and light bready aromas, some floral aspects. In the mouth it is bone dry and so refreshing, more crunchy, underripe apple and lemon, and totally enjoyable as it races across the tongue to a dry but balanced finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2023) A blend of Ports with an average age of twenty years, originally foot-trodden in lagares, but slumbering in the Noval cellars ever since. Half bottles are also available at around £30.
(2023) From silty loam soils, half the juice started fermentation in tank, the remainder was wild fermented in barrel (French oak hogsheads, 30% new oak). Malolactic occured in barrels, with lees stirring, for around nine months. There's a sour orange and lemon, invitingly grown-up note on the nose here, some toast and a core of apple fruitiness. Lovely sweetness to the palate fruit, smooth and supple texture too. Plenty of juiciness, a vivacious citrus streak and again that pithy, savoury acid character pushing the finish. Concentrated and age-worthy I suspect.
(2022) As always, Noval's LBV is a relatively rare unfiltered example that will age, but because it has matured five years in oak and chestnut barrels (instead of two years for Vintage Ports) it is also ready to drink as soon as it hits the market. It is made from fruit from Noval's own vineyards, trodden by foot in lagares. Such a deep, vibrant purple colour, the nose is beautifully refined, with a light ash and smoky mineral spice over dense blue/black fruits. In the mouth there's plenty of ripe, smooth and pure black fruit sweetness - glossy cherry and blackcurrant - with cocoa and dark mint chocolate notes, but again that touch of ashy, dry tannin gives a lovely refinement and excellent length.
(2022) Winemaker Nathan Kendall has returned home to establish his winery, citing the cooler climate as a main driving force on that decision. He suggests global warming has shifted the winter climate, with less consistent snowfall and more extreme weather events. His wine sees spontaneous fermentation in neutral oak, with around 11 months on the lees in barrel and partial malolactic. Lovely nose - it is Burgundian, both the gentle toast and butter of the nose, but also a touch of spice and creamy lemon fruitiness. The palate has plenty of sweetness, along with a touch of RS there is a sweet nectarine fruit juiciness. The acidity, again salts and zest, really pushes through. pH: 3.3, Acidity: 7.7g/l, RS: 4g/l.
(2022) Another of the great biodynamic practitioners of New Zealand, Millton's Te Arai vineyard is five kilometres from the sea, and experiences some Botrytis which may account for the 9.5g/l of residual sugar in this is off-dry wine. Fermentation and maturation take place in a combination of demi-muids (large 600-litre oak barrels) and stainless steel tanks. Burnished gold in colour, there's an open, and nutty character here, lots of wax and lanolin qualities, honeyed for sure, with fig and quince fruit. Glorious in the mouth - perhaps verging on medium-sweet, with toast and layers of sweet pear, baked apple and more tropical fruit, then a fine and bracing saltiness to the acids in the finish.
(2021) This blingy Prosecco comes in a metallic gold bottle, and while that may or may not appeal, I have to say the wine inside is a very nice, dry expression of a vintage-dated Prosecco. Extremely pale in colour, the mousse is foamy and fresh and the aromas are very summery: crisp pears and apples, but a little leafy, herbal hedgerow element too. In the mouth it is light and refreshing, with very good, crisp lemony acidity and a decent length too. Actually rather superior stuff, bling or not.
(2021) Pierre says the development of Botrytis was excellent in 2010, comparing it to 1990, and that the proportion of 10% Sauvignon is unusually high, because the Sauvignon was so good in this year. It spent 20 months in barrels, 50% new and 50% one year old, and has 145g/l of residual sugar. I've enjoyed several tastings of this vintage over the years, and it's a wine with real charm and elegance, but a fabulously approachable sweetness and easy-drinking appeal. There is honey and quite exotic apricot and mango on the nose, more delicate floral notes flit in and out, as well as the light earthy character of Botrytis. Beautiful fruit and texture on the palate, mouth-filling and glycerine-rich, but that orange and tangerine character of the acidity, that persistent touch of leafiness, gives this real freshness even although the concentration and Botrytis character persists in the long finish. Price for a half bottle.
(2021) A blend of 85% Cinsault and País, with grapes from the dry Secano Interior of the Itata Valley, another of the southern valleys now appearing more frequently on labels. This is from a sub-label of Morandé, called 'Morandé Adventure', where winemakers and collaborations produce smaller volumes of more experimental wines. 'Creole' because the dry-farmed Cinsault and País are strongly rooted in the Secano Interior. Winemaker Ricardo Baettig makes this from granitic-clay soils, using carbonic maceration in concrete eggs, and with natural yeasts, and the País partky fermented in older French oak. The colour is a vivid violet-pink, the nose having soft, pulpy raspberry and strawberry fruit and a little cherry bubblegum note, the palate dry and nicely balancing that ripe, juicy and sweet fruit with a sour cherry and orange tang of acidity, the light- to medium-bodied wine finishing on spicy tannins and freshness.