(2017) The reserve has a higher percentage of Awatre fruit, and comes from the best vineyards, "and the same plots every year," according to Hugh. A rich, figgy character, with more orange and more of an asparagus lift, but a lovely racing palate, loads of lime and citrus Awatare purity and zip.
(2017) Only five barrels of this were produced. All red wines from 'Reserve' level upward are from Gimblett Gravels fruit, in this case two specific vineyards. It spends 20 months in French oak and is “Made like a Pinot Noir,” according to Hugh, hand-plunged, with a fair bit of post-ferment maceration for up to 40 days in total before pressing. "That gives plenty of tannin, but finer," says Hugh. A rounded, quite plush and compact nose, tight black and blue fruits, there’s a rich damson and graphite nose, an earthiness, not peppery but has a little floral lift. The palate has a cloak of dustiness, a really savoury meaty character, the tannins soft but present and the acidity giving it a long, tapering finish.
(2017) Not all Gimblett Gravels fruit, so labelled 'Hawkes Bay'. The blend is 72% Merlot, 18% CS and "little bits of Malbec and Cabernet Franc." What a nice, attractive nose from an outstanding vintage, a “Vintage of a generation”, according to Hugh, that was "Phenomenally long, dry and warm, with no pressure" Lots of graphite, lots of light and gentle smokiness, medium-bodied, plenty of juicy cherry and orange, elegance and freshness and finesse into the long, textured finish.
(2017) Richard Geoffroy used the highest ever proportion of red Pinot Noir wine in this blend, 27%, making it a decidedly meaty, Burgundian Champagne, with truffle and forest floor, vinous with red berry fruit. That welterweight of flavour slightly butts up against the acidity at this stage for me, tannins too against grapefruit, suggesting perhaps that a few years in the cellar will do this no harm.
(2016) Zibibbo is a common grape on the island of Sicily, but is in fact a synonym for the Muscat of Alexandria, which Brown Brothers have blended with Cienna to make this engaging, sweet and frothy approximation of the Moscato d'Asti style. With a peachy colour, a soft mousse and plenty of vivid and sweet strawberry fruit offset by decent acidity it's a summer in the garden/wimbledon/strawberry tart-matching delight and simple, uncomplicated fun.
(2016) There has been a steady stream of Pinot Noir-based rosés emanating from Cava producers, and this is as good an example as any. The colour is relatively deep, the wine made by macerating the Pinot for a short period to extract flavour and colour, with small red fruits, cherry and a tight herby back note. Luxurious and mouth-filling with its mousse and sweet strawberry-touched fruit, but a nip of tannin and good acidity give it a dry and food-friendly finish. Ministry of Drinks' price is by the six-bottles, but use the wine-searcher link for other stockists.
(2016) Bodegas Attis's rendition of Albariño has a natural character to the aromas, subtle and lightly earthy over some oatmeal and crisp orchard fruit. It's cool on the palate too, fairly understated with its citrus and crisp apple tones, but nicely textured, glimpses of sweeter nectarine on the mid-palate, and a nicely composed, quite long finish. Stockist and price quoted is for the 2012 vintage.
(2016) Winemaker Marcos sees this as their ‘icon’ or flagship wine, although the Parcel series is priced a little higher. 100% Malbec from the same three vineyards of the Parcel series, but from patches with less calcium carbonate. Two years in barrel, 50% new, then another two years in bottle before release. Liquorice, herbs and florals on the nose, loads of red berry fruit and a little schist dark fruit beneath. The palate is super plush and sweet, flooded with black fruit, but the edge of acidity and the grain of the tannins roughens things up very nicely, giving this savouriness and not just ‘fruit bomb’ style.
(2015) The dosage here is just 2g/l, though otherwise this cuvée is exactly the same blend and winemaking as the regular ‘D’ Brut. Certainly it is noticeably drier, mineral and salty. A wonderfully fresh and direct gastronomic style. Very focused, clean and pure, and although I do slightly prefer the little extra generosity in the Brut for sipping on this occassion, it’s a beautifully composed wine.
(2015) For the first time there is a little oak, with around 5% of this cuvée fermented in small barrels. It includes a high proportion of reserve wine at around 40%, and has 8g/l dosage. It’s made from around 60% Pinot Noir with Chardonnay. Lovely development, though I forgot to ask when this was disgorged, but a fine and gentle almond nuttiness and, as always with this range, a delightful core of lemon and mineral salt acidity and purity.