(2014) Renée Dale says "The wine I make is all about the story I want to tell. The nitty-gritty truth, the ups and downs, the pitfalls, the triumphs, the humour!" It's tough to say whether this bottle contains and of the above, but what it does offer is a beautifully refined take on Viognier, that is all about succulence and precision. The nose has such beautiful poise and elegance, with ripe pear and lightly floral aromatics that are quite tight, but a creaminess beneath of crushed almond, that also melds with a little tropical fruitiness. On the palate it is medium-bodied and the 13.5% alcohol is unobtrusive. There's a confit lemon character to this, with a touch of salt and plenty of juicy citrus, but that plays against the creamy texture and inherent sweetness of the fruit. Could it be criticised for lacking a little of Viognier's overtly perfumed character? Well, not by me as I loved the precision and sophistication of this wine.
(2014) Virgil Kerr is a young Australian winemaker working as a contract winemaker in New Zealand. He suggests this Pinot will drink best in five to eight years from now. It has a charming, pale garnet colour, and a delightfully flower-touched nose, small rose-hip notes, then a briary, lightly herbal nuance, the fruit pretty with strawberry and raspberry character. On the palate there's a lovely background of creamy cappuccino, but it is overlayed by a nicely sappy, brightly-focused red fruit character and spice. The tannins are quite tight, but they have a finesse and just enough roughening grip at present, and the acidity seems very natural, like cherry skins. With 13.5% alcohol it is balanced, and it is long, with lovely components that should meld further given a little bottle age. A very successful Pinot, typically Marlborough in style, but top-end stuff.
(2014) A blend of old vine Grenache and Mouvèdre from Maury, with Syrah from the cooler terroir of St Paul de Fenouillet, winemaker Thomas Raynaud says "Fifty years ago these grapes would have been used in Maury Vin doux Naturel. The vines are 40, 50 and in some cases 60+ years old with intense fruit flavours that deserve to be in a high quality dry wine." And what quality this has: immediately deep and serious, with a combination of ultra-dark and slick black fruit, cedar and plush vanilla touches of oak and an authentic echo of the garrigue, with spices, delicate floral nuances and lovely herby, grassy nuances. The palate is equally svelte, full and complex, with a raft of sweet black fruit flavour floating over spices, little gamy nuances, sweet, sweet tannins and balanced acidity. It is long, rounded and drinks very smoothly, though Thomas predicts it is five years off of its peak.
(2014) Winemaker Oriol Guevara is former president of the Catalan winemakers association, and now a flying winemaker and consultant. This wine is made from a plot of 100-year-old Carignan vines planted on red/blue slate soils in a lieu-dit of Empordà called El Garrigal. It's a real change of pace from the other two wines, especially the Pinot, as it is made in a big (15% abv) and full-throttle style, with lashings of polished, creamy, tremendously fine but slightly dominant oak, and super-ripe, concentrated and plush fruit. The palate is silky and intense, the flood of fruit as deep as a bottomless pool, buttressed by ripe, spicy tannins and the alcohol. The acidity adds a welcome savoury edge as well as that spice and grippy blue/black fruit concentration. It is excellent again of its big and powerhouse style - and it is not without sophistication. A few years in the cellar will do this no harm at all.