(2018) From the Thistledown Wines team, a Grenache (well, with around 10% Mourvèdre) that marches to a different beat from it beer-bottle style 50cl container to its crown cap. Inside is a heart-warming an gluggable red, perfumed with violet, raspberry and blackcurrant, and filling the mouth with sweet and easy-going fruit. The perfect barbecue companion. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) A lightly spritzy, fresh, and just off-dry white wine from Lisboa, much in the style of a Vinho Verde perhaps, made principally from Arinto and Fernão Pires with some floral Moscatel, and only 9.5% alcohol by volume. Brimming with almost tropical fruit and herbal tang, it's a crowd-pleasing style with that hint of sweetness, but the balance of acidity is really very good making it mouth-watering and fresh too.
(2018) Like the Azulejo, from Lisboa just west of Lisbon, this time 100% Arinto and drier with 12.5% alcohol. Aromas are gently herbal, with cool apple fruit and a hint of almond in the background. Ripe, with creamy-sweet fleshy fruit, mouth-filling and rich but the fruit is focused on dry, firm apple and melon, a citrus pith and salty acidity freshening the finish in a cool and elegant style.
(2018) A rare example of a white wine from Priorat in northeast Spain, this is a blend of 50% white Grenache 25% Picapoll (Picpoul) and 25% Xa.rello, fermented and matured for seven months in barrels, 70% new French oak and 30% American oak. A hint of gold to the buttercup colour, there's plenty of toasty and oatmeal and almond creaminess on the nose and richness is evident with pear fruit and a hint of spice. In the mouth it's a substantial wine, the full oak treatment adding volume and texture, as well as that more overt oak character, which is perhaps just slightly overdone for me. Nevertheless, an interesting take on a Burgundian style, with good firm acids bringing up the finish.
(2018) One for the Sauvignon Blanc - or indeed Verdejo! - lover, this Rueda white has typically pungent elderflower and gooseberry, but a nice sense of leesy richness comes through, the fruit quite tropical and nectarine-like. Fresh, balanced and zippy in ther mouth, it is very well made, with a bit of textural richness and zipping citrus acidity into the finish.
(2018) Principally Tempranillo but with Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano in the blend too, this is a smooth, sleek and modern Rioja with plenty of spice and chocolate depth from its 14 months in American oak. Lush and dark-fruited on the palate, this is harmonious stuff, the American oak not at all dominant, finishing on ripe fruit and super-smooth tannins.
(2018) Less heralded than Chianti, Montepulciano is another fine Tuscan region making wines from the same grape, Sangiovese. Aged 24 months in Slavonian oak, this also has a small proportion of Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo in the blend. The oak is toasty and cappuccino-like, with red fruits and tobacco spice. In the mouth the tight framework of tannin and cherry-pit acidity really pulls this together, the more expansive dark fruit and barrel components sliced through with spicy structure to give this a lively feel in the mouth.
Cabernet Sauvignon 38%, Syrah 35%, Merlot 27% is the blend for this wine from Franschhoek, matured 10 months in 3rd-fill French oak barrels. Its a deep and plummy style, the merlot perhaps dominating the aromatics, but there's a cherry, even lightly minty and floral lift too. In the mouth a flood of chocolaty blueberry and blackcurrant fruit is pretty much a 'fruit bomb', but it is allied to some good tannin weight and balanced cherry acids to give this a bright and appealing character too.
(2018) An Australian take on Rioja/Priorat perhaps, made from Tempranillo, Grenache and Mourvèdre, and coming from the Clare Valley. There's a dark, creamy berry and even darker liquorice note on the nose, a suggestion of real supple depth of fruit, nicely integrated oak, and succulence. A big and upfront wine, it brims with sweet but spicy and dark fruits, the sheen of velvety oak adding yet more spice and structure with its plush, fine tannins and plenty of cherry-fresh acid to balance the richness.
(2018) A wine you won't forget, Amnésia is a blend of Aragonez (Spain's Tempranillo) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the sort of Portuguese/French mix that the Alentejo region does rather well. Unoaked, there's a bright blackcurrant and kirsch character on the nose, and the palate presents a straightward but juicy and highly gluggable raft of sweet, dark berry fruit, all balancing nicely into the finish which is smooth and elegant. Very nicely done, super-modern stuff.