(2022) First released in 1982, Noble One has become one of the world's most famous Botrytis Semillons wines, certainly outside of Sauternes, the inspiration for its creation. Again Winemaker Julie Mortlock talks of unusual climate/ripening in recent years, with the harvest much earlier than usual. Vines range from 20- to 60-years old, grown on sandy loam. After 12 months in barrel the wine is bottled with 250g/l of residual sugar. Full on, barley sugar and marmalade Botrytis onslaught here, with that dry mushroomy undertone. The oiliness and weight of the palate is in contrast to the Berton's lighter style. So much flavour and texture, the luscious tropical richness shot through with juicy orange, plenty of acidity and the oak adding a custardy creaminess. Terrific stuff as usual from this cuvée. Price for a half bottle, and for a previous vintage at time of review.
(2022) From the decomposed granite of the Polkadraai Hills, a cooler pocket that often harvests three weeks later than the rest of Stellenbosch. Vines rise from 200 - 240 metres above sea level and are aged 31 to 33 years old. It spent 18 months in new and used French oak barrels. Somewhere between ruby and crimson in colour, there's lots of ripe, quite buoyant black and red fruit here; not so much cassis as blueberry and sweet plum, a touch of incense-like, floral lift. In the mouth it is dry and savoury, lots of structure here with grippy, sandy tannins and a keen line of acidity, the plummy and dark fruit re-asserting into a long, spicy and savoury finish.
(2021) A long, mild season, with slower ripening of the fruit. Dense and deep, a touch of lighter orange on the rim. Just a gorgeous and clasic nose, pencil-shaving and graphite, a deep, mulled plum and blackcurrant fruit, that fatness of mulberry, but so much spice from the Shiraz and barrel. The cooler vintage comes through with very good acidity and intensity, dry and savoury fruit, but such sweet ripeness at the core. Very juicy, very gastronomic, with saltiness and spice into a long finish. A lovely cooler-climate style this.
(2021) Another Alsace wine with no real clue that it is a touch off-dry from the label, but that is not un-typical with Alsace Pinot Gris. Succulent and ripe on the nose, there is stone fruit and lemon, leading onto a full and fat palate, the weighty texture of the wine filling the mouth, and the dry, pear-like and citrussy cut of the fruit just nicely offset by that hint of sweetness.
(2021) The most expensive wine of the tasting at £100 per bottle, this is a Bordeaux blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 14% Carmenere and a touch of Merlot. It comes from an ambitious young estate started just over a decade ago by Alex and Carrie Vik. The wine spends 23 months in a new French oak barrels. Winemaker Cristian Vallejo explains the estate has followed a quality path since day one, with very dense plantings of varieties researched to suit each of the 12 valleys spanned by their estate. They are even planning to use barrels from their own oak forest, and amphorae made from clay found on the estate. Great creamy depth here, a little hint of olive and then dry, savoury black fruit, some tobbaco and more exotic spices, but mostly about the fruit. In the mouth truly sumptuous, with great fruit sweetness and creaminess across the mid-palate, concentrated, but with lovely cherry-fresh juiciness, creamy tannins too, but the oak just caressing and supporting rather than dominating the picture. Very impressive.
(2021) Mostly Carignan with País and Cinsault, this comes from the Intrépido range, and from fruit grown in the Maule valley. Creamy and quite plush on the nose, there's some a nutmeg, perhaps tree bark note that adds a dimension to the warm berry fruit. The palate combines that ripe, fleshy plum and cherry fruitiness with nicely creamy tannins, a lovely juicy cherry-skin acidity, and again a background of spice and some vanilla. Very delicious drinking at a modest price.
(2021) As you may guess from the name, a high altitude wine, from coarse volcanic soils 1,245 metres up in the Andes. It spends six months in oak. Lots of classic plum and chocolate here, a nice savoury note of dried blood or game, and perhaps that high altitude adding a gently leafy, herbal nuance too. Sweet and fleshy on the palate, there's plenty of ripe fruit here, but a nicely grainy touch of tannin and chocolate/mocha note marries with good, sour cherry acidity to balance very nicely.
(2020) Sourced from vineyards across the properties, there's an appealing, light aromatic here, lightly ashy and perfumed, The fruit so juicy and cherryish. The fragrance keeps coming through, onto a spicy fruit character, the tannins quite silky, the acidity cherryish and ripe, and again that little bit of spice and herbal tones too.
(2020) An unusual white, made from Pinot Noir given minimal skin contact, so it has the faintest tinge of copper to the colour. A lovely nose, with crispness and crunch, a touch of yeastiness and plenty of crunchy apple fruit, a touch of zesty orange. Nice mouthfeel, a little sweetness, but the freshness and lemony acidity comes through.