(2023) This terrific Albariño is aged for 30 months in stainless steel, the time on the lees adding texture and layered richness. A lovely yello-green in colour, aromas are creamy, almondy and peachy. Rosy red apple notes and lime add interest to both nose and palate, a fine saline slipperiness to the texture, superb acidity and just a complete, savoury and satisfying wine.
(2021) Session host Alistair Cooper says Carmenere is coming of age to an extent, only having been rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s. Winemaker for Tarapaca, Sebastian Ruiz, explains that this wine from grantic soils closer to the ocean shows the influence that terroir has on the variety. So much denser and darker in colour than the three preceding reds, there's not a lot of the green, pyrozene character of some examples, but there is a dark, glossy fruity character and some real graphite finesse. The palate follows that recipe: smooth dark fruits, supple and creamy tannins, good acid balance and great drinkability.
(2021) Winemaker Ricardo Rivadeniera explains that this comes from a very old estate originally owned by Jesuit missionaries, bought by his great grandfather in 1916. They specialise mostly on Cabernet Franc, but have been identifying places with deep clay soils that suit Cabernet Sauvignon very well. This is 88% Cabernet Sauvignon with small parts of Franc, Cermenere and Petit Verdot. Savoury, classicaly framed, with a hint of capsicum edging solid, ripe blackcurrant fruit and again a finesseful graphite touch. Rich and yet fresh on the palate, very good fruit and the savoury balance of nicely grippy tannins and acids finishes with style.
(2020) A blend of 5% Cabernet Franc and 65% Merlot, some of the Merlot vines planted in 1957, in a tiny 0.35ha plot. The vinification is the same as Block One, with ageing in second- and third-year 225l barriques for 11 months. Deep aromas of plum and cocoa, but there are highlights of more floral and cherry scents, a warming touch of fudge or vanilla in the background. In the mouth this is substantial and chewy, with ripe but grippy tannins and a nice line of acidity to cut through the supple, weighty black and red fruits. Finishes with a nice sour cherry tang.
(2020) From a 0.45ha vineyard of 25-year-old Cabernet Franc on clay-based soils, certified organic in 2016. Aged in 225-litre barrels, typically second and third year use, for just under a year. Quite a vibrant purple/crimson colour, and lots of brightness to the aromas: soaring cherry and spices, a touch of cedary briar and a cool, ashy quality, there's a lighter feel to this than Block Two. In the mouth the fruit is cool and smooth, with very good ripeness and fruit sweetness, quite slick black cherry and compote spices touching on cinammon and clove. Creamy, silky tannins and good juicy acidity balances into a long and impressive finish.
(2020) Tasted once before in 2019, the 18 months extra time in bottle for this Bordeaux Merlot hasn't changed the crimson colour too much, and the nose is similar too: cocoa-dusted dark fruits, warm and plummy with a little fudge-like richness. In the mouth the fruit is really quite fresh - a crispness to the acid helps, the brisk tannins too, but the fruit is supple and savoury, edged with pepper and spice in a wine that does defy its 14.5% alcohol. Yes you feel it in the finish, but it is a bold and juicy style.
(2020) Youthful, inky and vibrant purple in colour, this Merlot made without added sulphur has a certain meatiness on the nose, dark savoury fruit and a lightly balsamic quality. In the mouth it is easy-drinking and smooth, quite concentrated too, the creamy tannins, spicy character and fruit intensity giving it texture and richness.
(2020) This second-growth from Pauillac was last tasted five or six years ago. It's still youthful, decanted off the sediment for an hour or so, showing classic pencil shaving, blood and deep black and red fruit aromas, a wonderfully evocative bouquet. On the palate it has masses of fruit depth, always savoury, gamy, blood and iron-oxide-streaked, with terrific structure: the tannins here are still firm and commanding, the juiciness of the acidity is keen, and the overall balance is excellent. I'd say this is still on the upslope, is still chewy and firm, and will be brilliant with some lamb or rare roast beef.
(2020) I'm a fan of Torres' aromatic white version of the Viña Esmeralda and I have to say this wine put a broad smile on my face. Pretty and pale pink in colour, it is 100% Grenache from Torres' vineyards in the Penedès, and is fragrant with old roses, pomegranate and strawberry. On the palate some residual sugar makes it summery and very easy-going, the tang red fruit and citrus acidity balancing nicely, so that it finishes basically dry, and quite pure and long.
(2020) The 2002 Belle Epoque is 50% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir with 4% Pinot Meunier. Some critics have claimed it is too soft and too forward for a deluxe cuvée from the outstanding 2002 vintage, but I have to say I found this to be both seductive and beautifully pitched. The colour has a little golden hue and there is loads of creamy, nutty, gently toasty development, but ripe rosy apple fruit too. In the mouth it is generous and sweet-fruited, a pillow of soft mousse flows across the tongue, then suddenly there's an initial spark of citrus and salt, that develops nicely into a long tantalising finish playing sweetness against sharpness delightfully. Possibly not a wine for extended cellaring, but a joy now.