(2018) Juan Piñero was a new name in Sherry for me. Although the company was founded in 1992 in Sanlucar, with a second winery purchased in 2000, wines under its own brand were not released until 2013. This Fino has considerable age in the 'almacenista' style, the blend is around ten years old from a 400-barrel solera. Loads of developed flor aroma, more intense than many Finos, chalk, nutty Cox's pippin apples and a green tinge of fresh olive oil. Bone dry in the mouth, saline, with quite a limpid, slightly oily mouth-filling texture, lots of almond and green-fig and bitter flavours, salt and excellent acidity in the finish in a very superior and totally delicious style of Fino. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2016) What a charming Pinot - more than charming - from this conscientious winemaker in the Vendée, made in cement 'eggs' and spending six months in Tronçais oak. It has that lovely edge of brisk, cherry and raspberry fruit and a certain sappiness, briar and twigs and all the hallmarks of genuinely cool climate, natural Pinot Noir, the palate flooded with sweet red berry fruit but against that juicy and firm core of acidity and tight tannin, and again that tangy, edgy balance that Burgundy lovers will take to instantly. A terrifically refined and poised wine.
(2016) From 90-year-old vines grown in the foothills of the Massif Central in the Loire Valley, this is Gamay St. Romain, the local variant of the Beaujolais grape, made in cement tanks and unoaked. The colour is surprisingly deep, though not dense, then really charming vinous aromas of cherry and kirsch, black fruits and the most elegant spice as well as some floral nuances. A lovely sappy edge of almost stony minerality on the palate, delicate still, but there is a framework of tannin and pert acidity underpinning that. A seriously lovely Gamay from a less familiar source.
(2016) A rare white Côte de Nuits-Villages from the small Monts de Boncourt vineyard, which produces just 1500 bottles. The oak quality is lovely: fragrant and gentle, with nutty linseed notes and caraway. In the mouth, it has pristine fruit, all clean cut apples and citrus, with a hint of spice from the oak filling in, and a long, poised, fresh acid finish that hints at salinity.
(2016) The Chaillots of this vineyard are the 'Cailloux' of the Rhône: similar large, rounded pebbles that give good natural drainage. From the ripe 2014 vintage, Damian Gachot's garnet-hued Pinot is immediately fragrant and elegant, the cherry fruit character joined by plenty of briary, woodlandy Pinosity and a smoothing touch of cedar and smokiness, in an alluring and complex profile. Just delicious and delightful on the palate, the feather-light tannins and crisp and juicy acidity supporting creamy-ripe berry fruit, but always tempered and gentle, the stony, gravelly terroir showing through. Just a lovely Burgundy.
(2016) A blend of 45-year-old Syrah, with 30% Grenache, with yields of just 30hl/ha. Half of this cuvée was aged in oak for one year. I'd suggest decanting this slightly brooding wine, with its tight, dark red fruit nose, hinting at black olive and briar, but muscular and tight. On the palate there is considerable concentration, with the tannin and the deep, ripe, sweet but savoury core of black fruit filling the mouth, a chewy seriousness to the finish, with bittersweet acidity and very good, gently spicy length. An un-flashy but serious and structured, meaty red that should cellar.
(2016) A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Grenache from Beauregard-Mirouze's organic vineyards, there's a creamy red fruit brightness here, a touch of pepper, but also a deeper, more briary aspect. In the mouth it is a little brighter in tone than the more expensive Lauzina cuvée, juicier and more plump red-fruited on the mid-palate, but though the ripe fruit persists, the finish has a hint of similar gravitas, the fine tannins and grip of the acidity giving it some heft and savoury appeal.
(2016) A southern French blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Vermentino from Corbières, this organic wine is unoaked and picking early to retain acidity and freshness has worked a treat. The nose has some of the Marsanne peach and apricot allure, but there's a lemon and lime peel freshness too, and a sense of coolness. In the mouth it is crisp and alive, delicate, with a pear juice freshness but then a lovely sour lemon bite of acidity to lengthen and add a twist of interest on the finish.
(2016) An organic rosé from the south of France, but a little different from the typical model of nearby Provence. This blend of 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache has more colour though still relatively pale, but the rosy red apple and summer fruit aromas are to the fore, ripe on the initial palate impression, but then fine savoury acidity and a nip of structural tannin slips in. Fresh, elegant but rounded.
(2014) Like all of Ca'Rossa's wines, this pure Nebbiolo is bottled with 'DIAM', a technical cork with an extremely low record of cork taint. Again made in stainless steel, this has a beautifully refined nose: it's a wine all about crunchily dry, redcurrant and cherry fruit, that is balanced, elegant and above all savoury: an intelligently made, lean and quietly confident red with nothing forced, nothing showy, but elegantly combining backbone, acid freshness and food-friendly subtlety. Very different from the Barbera, but equally good.