(2022) A selection of the best fruit from the Middle Road Chardonnay block was barrel fermented, with malolactic fermentation and around 33% of the French oak barrels were new. Aa lot of minty, elegant freshness here - more minty than toasty - with a certain precision to the citrus and pear fruit. In the mouth there's plenty of pithy lemon to give sharpness, in a wine that's much more about steely, flinty precision than opulence, but that's definitely not to say it lacks generosity or flesh.
(2022) Louise Rose's flagship Viognier was harvested over a two week period, presumably to balance acidity and the unctuous ripeness Viognier can achieve. That's done ever so successfully in this 13% abv wine, which spent 10 months in French oak. It is rich, the nose crammed with white flower and apricot notes, a creamy almond oak quality beneath. The palate has such lovely weight, textured and full, succulent with ripe, ripe fruit, orange acidity adding lovely tang and brightness. It's a wine that risks overloading the senses, but thankfully never does thanks to its precision and refinement.
(2022) 27-year-old vines on top soil over a bed of gravel, extending to clay. 94% is Cabernet Sauvignon, with 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. A small proportion was wild fermented and the wine stayed in barrel for fully 20 months, all new French Oak. The oldest wine in this small selection, showing minimal colour development. Lots and lots of graphite and cigar-box, a very firm and taut blackcurrant fruit, again those small herbaceous notes adding interest. In a similar vein to the Cape Mentelle, the sweet ripeness of fruit striking the palate is surprising, a mouth-filling succulence, but very classy and elegant support from tight, creamy oak tannins, keen and slightly saline acidity, and a long and very pure finish of spice, fruit and freshening acidity.
(2022) This Malbec comes from an organic vineyard 1,100m above sea level, with limestone in the soils. 60% was aged in 5,000-litre foudres for 10 months. Vibrant and deep in colour, the nose has the slight lift of Parma violet so often shown by Malbec, some charry notes, and there's a herbal edge to otherwise solid black fruit. In the mouth it is big and rich, but there's a gastronomic chewiness too, rounded by the oak and chocolaty tannins, cherry acidity filling in on the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) Picked from vineyards in Barossa (67%) and Eden Valley (33%), the average age of the vines is 80 years, with the oldest vineyard dating from 1854. Maturation is in a combination of new French oak (28%) and second use barrels of various sizes from French, American and Hungarian oak. There's a meatiness to the aromas here, as well as a depth of savoury black fruit, some toast and vanilla in a deep-set, rich set of aromas. In the mouth that sweet combination of vanillin oak and ripe black fruit is succulent and fills the mid-palate. So much chocolate and charry depth here, but tannins are creamy and svelte and the cherry ripeness of the acidity adds to the smooth and rounded picture. A baby of course.
(2022) The red wine in Torres' Natureo range blends Garnacha (Grenache) and Syrah, and like the rosé also reviewed, it is vegan-friendly and has fewer than 100 calories in the bottle. It pours a nice deep colour, blackcurrant and black cerry aromas are clear. In the mouth there is a slightly confectionery fruit character and once again i find that slippery, saling character replaces any real bite of tannin or acidity.
(2021) From several vineyards in the Willamette Valley, this organic wine is aged mostly in steel with a small proportion in oak. Deep in colour and deeply fruited in aroma, there's a juicy plushness of red plum and blackberry, a pleasing floral lift too. In the mouth it floods across the palate with supple fruit and spiciness, a bit of tannic grip and roughening edge of plum skin acidity. An honest, fairly rustic, but very enjoyable Pinot.
(2021) Vasse Felix is one of the great names of Margaret River in Western Australia, and I was super-impressed by their top 'Heytesbury' Chardonnay 2019 recently (94 points), but this is their estate wine at around half the price but it runs its big brother close on style and quality. Plenty of flinty, cordite nuances to the ripe and fleshy peach and cooler Asian pear fruit, a nougat softeness adding another layer. In the mouth it strikes that lovely balance between oak-derived coffee and toast, sweet and succulent fruit, and that nervy edge of cool mineral acidity. Very stylish. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) Recent attention on high-end 'natural' renditions of Chenin Blanc has all been about the trending young bucks of Swartland, but here, one the Cape's most established Chenin experts proves that they can play along with the best. This is a fabulous wine, fermented with wild yeasts, unfiltered and unfined, it has a golden colour and beautifully honeyed yet stony nose, some gentle toast and apricot. On the palate there's a fat, confit lemon waxiness, loads of sweet, ripe apple and a lovely mouth-filling texture. Acidity is perfectly balanced in a rich, concentrated yet supremely elegant wine.
(2021) Classic barrel-fermented Chardonnay first produced in 1989, this vintage seeing bine months in barrel, 30% new French oak and full malolactic. Loads of almond and crushed oatmeal, and interesting nutty notes, toast and spices, but the fruit is nicely judged - on the palate it becomes quite peachy and succulent, the fruit and a very nice pithy lemon and lime acidity giving cut but generosity too. This is a nicely pitched Chardonnay, creamy and quite hedonistic, but with a bit of steel at its core.