(2019) On New Zealand's North Island, Hawke's Bay has carved out a formidable reputation for Syrah, Bordeaux varieties and Chardonnay, but this is a bit different: made from the grape of Beaujolais, Gamay, partly with carbonic maceration, and only 12.5% alcohol. From what's described as "an incredible vintage," this comes from a vineyard planted in 1995 and has an expressive and varietal nose, crammed with crushed plum and cherry, that hint of watercolour paint-box so typical of Gamay, and a tug of earthy, beetrooty character. In the mouth the fruit ripeness and sweetness is turned up a notch above a typical Beaujolais, vibrant and etched by an agile acidity and bit of tannic grip, it is balanced and delicious. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2019) The same vineyard that produced the 2008 tasted alongside. Very light, just a touch of minerals and soft leafy herbs, but no astringent greenness. Real fruit sweetness, a brilliant bold citrus, edging into tropical, and then the sheer acidity pushing through.
(2019) A tiny domaine located in Cramant in the Côte des Blancs, farming grand cru Chardonnay vineyards since 1746, and a very early example of a 'grower Chamagne' house, bottling since 1907. Perlé is a rarely-seen but traditional style, bottled with around 4 bars of pressure rather than the usual 6 bars. This is 2013 base with 35% reserve wines, disgorged autumn 2017 and with only 5g/l of dosage, so Extra Brut. The mousse dissipates quite rapidly to leave a gentle effervesence, the nose pure and driven by clean Chardonnay minerals and white fruits, though there is a sense of creaminess and just a touch of yeastiness. In the mouth it is fresh, light, but concentrated, the acidity driving the wine, but with such lemon and lime juiciness runnning into that salty mineral tang of the finish. Arguably a little on the austere side, but so beautifully made and singing along with some pan-fried seabass.
(2019) From a single vineyard up against the mountainside, hammered by wind which limits the crop production and gives natural concentration. Again, it’s oatmeal and almond from water and steam-bent barrels, 60% new, so no obvious toast. Creamy apple and a hint of hazelnut. Has more depth, a little more open and nutty character, really sweet and ripe fruit, flowing and free, the acidity is lovely, like lemon and lime juice freshness, and a toasty marmalade touch of pleasing bitterness to the finish.
(2019) This spends 20 months in French oak, about 40% new. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, Plus the other three Bordeaux varieties, all fermented separately then aged 11 months in barrel, followed by a year in bottle. Quite meaty and cedary, a touch of olive and pepper and light tobacco spice. Very juicy, the savoury plum and blackcurrant fruit backed up with firm, quite authoritative tannins, and bright cherry fruit tangy acidity. Widely available, also in Waitrose, Majestic and independents at time of review. Good value.
(2019) This spends 20 months in oak, French and American. Bright red fruit with a touch of cool-climate rhubarb and pepper, bright red berries. Just a touch of creaminess from understated oak. Fresh, creamy and bright cherry fruit, lovely floating floral top notes, with a juiciness and good length. A lovely Syrah, on the brighter and cooler side, and in a European style. Price and stockist for a previous vintage at time of review.
(2019) A blend of 82% Chenin Blanc, 18% Viognier. Picked at regular table wine ripeness, then dried on straw racks for two to three weeks. The Chenin vineyard is about 30 years old. Light, glowing gold. Lovely bright glycerine, lemon and honey nose, but immediately speaks of lightness and freshness, bright bursting citrus and loads of rich medium-bodied nectarine, lovely sweetness from 210g/l residual sugar, and a really nice aromatic and estery style. Murray is planting Cruchen Blanc to add to this wine in future. Price for a half bottle. Widely available, but the Wine Society price at time of review is unbeatable.
(2019) Rather more sherried, compared with the Sercial, with honey and walnut and the palate intensely sweet, pure sweet grape and cherry freshness to the acids, but the 75gl of sugar more apparent.
(2019) Coastal Region wine, from 1980s vineyards in Stellenbosch and Pearl. A deeply coloured, powerful wine, plenty of substantial presence, slightly meaty nose, a touch of green-tinged dry and ashy character, with lots of sweet fruit, touched with a leafy, savoury character in the finish. The blend is 30/70 Alicante and Tempranillo.
(2019) Stellenbosch fruit from a vineyard planted in 1982, and this has a lovely sense of warmth, a little toffee note, the ripeness here steps up a gear, with nectarine lusciosness as well as that lemon rind grip and plenty of zest. A multi-layered wine of great texture and flavour.