(2018) A blend of Grenache and Syrah made in stainless steel, this is all about the dense and deep black cherry and clove-infused plum compote fruit on the nose, moving smoothly through to the palate where a very nice axis of creamy but firm tannin and juicy cherry-skin acidity cuts through the creamy ripeness of the fruit. Tangy, quite spicy and long, the palate has it's serious side for sure with the extraction nicely judged to give a bit of real grip.
(2018) Syrah and Grenache with a touch of Mourvèdre, this cuvée comes from the Terrasses du Larzac appellation in the Languedoc and is aged in oak barrels. Dark and saturated, meatiness, a touch of sizzling bacon fat, is added to the plummy dark fruit. In the moouth the sweet ripeness of the fruit impresses, a flood of bittersweet cherry and blueberry, the oak adding just a sheen of smokiness and roundness to what remains an essentially fruit-driven (and delicious) wine.
(2018) Also from the Terrasses du Larzac's clay and limestone soils, a blend of 20-year-old Syrah and Grenache with just 2% Mourvèdre, this cuvée vinified in stainless steel. Crushed raspberry notes add lift to the black fruits here, a hint of camphor, of leafy twigs, all quite different from the Velour cuvée aromatically. In the mouth the two draw closer, as the meaty substance of the ripe fruit darkens the picture, but there's a dimension of juiciness, traded against the smoothing breadth of the Velours, that makes this equally appealing. Is the alcohol a touch more prominent in this differently structured wine? Maybe, but for me it retains balance and even some elegance.
(2018) Here we have 98% Syrah, from 35-year-old vines in Montpeyroux, harvested at just 20hl/ha - a very, very low yield and only 6,000 bottles produced. This cuvée spends eight months in oak barrels from Nièvre. Another densely-hued wine, the ramping up of concentration is noticeable immediately, dark, tightly-wound aromas of damson plum, peppercorn and liquorice, muscular and dense, but with a glimpse of brighter raspberry and violet, a wisp of curling bonfire smoke. Super stuff in the mouth: such a beautifully slick but firm and grippy, youthful palate, etched by its acidity and tannin framework, but the effortless concentration of fruit suggesting significant ageing potential too.
(2018) "Almost 100% Syrah," according to the back label, this comes from 60-year-old vines planted clay-limestone soils. Again the yield is tiny, and the wine was vinified in new Alliers oak. Côte Dorée is a special selection and limited release, and though this 2011 is currently unavailable from Ten Acre Wines, the 2013 is listed at £19.95. If the Côte Rousse is dark, deep and sensuous, then at seven years of age this is all that and more: a deep pool of polished black fruits and spices, again we have that tiny lift of pepper and floral character, but it's a hugely tightly-wound wine that needs a little air and/or a little time. In the mouth the age has softened the edges, but still this is a concentrated, ripe but bittersweet melange of black fruits, savoury meatiness, and tangy cherry skin acidity that keeps the finish fresh and lip-tingling. A huge wine in its way, but with 13.5% alcohol and perfect balance, deeply impressive. The Rousse has a little more light and shade, this is a walk further into the dark side.
(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.