(2019) From an interesting collaboration between the top Pessac-Léognan estate of Domaine de Chevalier and Stephane Derenencourt, this is mostly Merlot with 30% of Cabernet Franc, so presumably from 'right bank' vineyards given that blend. It's a deeply spiced and plummy wine, offering instantly appealing depth of aroma, touched with cedary olive character, but mostly about the plummy Merlot fruit. In the mouth the silky texture, soft creamy tannins and weight of mid-palate fruit flow across the tongue, before a bright finish where pert acidity and a bit of structure pull the wine through to a long finish. Approachable Bordeaux, but more substance than many at a similar price.
(2019) You know, for its price, this really is a particularly good Bordeaux, 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, from chalky and clay soils. Bold purple in colour, there's a refined graphite note on the nose, just a hint of cedar, and plenty of ripe fleshy red and black fruits. In the mouth the pleasure continues, a lovely dark stripe of bittersweet liquorice underpinning plum and pulpy red berries, spices, acid and tannin all harmonious in the finish. It feels as if it will cellar for a few years too. A little star at under £10.
(2019) From organic vineyards in Campo de Borja, an appellation in the north of Spain, this is pure and joyful Grenache, undoubtedly the star grape of the region. Brimming with perfume, ripe cherries and incense smoke join with floral notes for a heady opening salvo. In the mouth its a seductive wine, full-bodied creamy and silky in texture, sheer tannins and softly insistent acidity offset the weight of plum and blackberry fruit in a terrifically gluggable wine with real personality. A barbecue stunner for the summer, very lightly chilled.
(2019) From the seaside vineyards of Sanlucar, again eight to ten years old on average from a Solera composed of around 10 stages. Lighter aromatically than the Fino, more floral and less marked by the flor, almond and candied peel, elegant and briney. In the mouth dazzling freshness and bite, there is a little bread dough softness in there, but it is a dry, concentrated style, a note of verjus, with a tang of bittersweet orange peel and very good length.
(2019) Not much information on the Piñero website about this bottling with its bright golden colour, but it comes from a solera with an average age of around 20 to 25 years. Lovely nose, the complex oxidative notes do not dominate but add a lovely walnutty richness, a touch of caramel and cappuccino, olive too in a layered set of aromatics. In the mouth very dry, though not as uncompromisingly dry as the Fino for example, the long ageing having smoothed the framework into a nutty, Seville orange marmalade richness, though still cut by lemon and salt mineral acidity.
(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.