(2021) Cereza is the variety here, coming from a vineyard planted in 1940 on sandy soils, farmed organically and fermented in concrete 'eggs' with natural yeasts. Unusually for a red wine, it does not go through malolactic fermentation. The grape skins are also removed part-way through fermentation to give a very pale, deep rosé colour as much as red, offering herbal and underripe cherry aromas, subtle and earhty, a light undergrowth character too. In the mouth it has that higher acid style that reminds me of some red Vinho Verde made from Vinhao, though mid-palate sweetness of fruit emerges, cherryish again, with a very light finish of negligible tannin and fresh, juicy acidity. Very unusual, and for me very enjoyable if approached with an open mind. Watch the video for more information and use the wine-searcher link for lots of other independent stockists.
(2021) Classic Chablis, only 12.5% alcohol and fresh as a daisy, this is unoaked Chardonnay from a family domaine that does not show the flinty character associated with the Kimmeridgean soils of some Chablis vineyards, but does have the hallmarks of zipping freshness, sweet and ripe fruit, but always sliced through by its acidity and sheerness. Elegant, subtle, as I say proper classic Chablis that doesn't shout, but speaks very confidently. Heaven-sent for fish and shellfish, watch the video for more information.
(2021) What a beautiful wine this is, marrying the absolutely classic ripeness and abundance of Barossa Shiraz, with a hint of Old World elegance and savouriness. Coming from 20– to 70-year-old vineyards, fermentation was traditional with plunging and pumping over twice daily prior to basket pressing. The wine was matured in larger sizes of barrel, new and old, of French and American oak. The aromatics here really do leap from the glass, mulberry, blueberry and tons of lifted, violetty aromas, a great, deep pool of velvetty fruit. On the palate that very natural depth and concentration from these old vines is sumptuous, but the firmness of the structure here: peppery, creamy tannins and good blueberry-tart acidity, gives freshness too. Long, sweet, tangy, and delicious.
(2021) Only 960 bottles of this Palomino were produced, from a vineyard planted in 1978 on sandy soils close to the town of Paternoster on the coast north of Swartland. The wine was aged in French oak barrels but, making much more impact on the wine, it was matured under flor, which is fitting given Palomino is the main grape of Sherry. It is not fortified though, with just 10.5% abv. Dry, immediately salty and lightly sherried, the nose has straw, lemon and apple, the super-dry palate gently nutty, a faint chamomile hint, and loads of streaking, pithy citrus. Unusual, complex, it is subtle but excellent. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) A really nice, buoyant and bountiful Pinot Noir from the more southerly Pfalz region of Germany, aged in larger barrels for one year, but part of the blend aged in new French oak barriques. There's a real kirsch-like lift of sweet cherry fruit, some elegant Parma violet and a welcome touch of briary, stalky character to add a freshening note. In the mouth it's the fruit gloss and sweetness that impresses, a deliciously moreish rendition of Pinot, but not without elegance and tertiary character: again that herbaceous and twiggy touch, a little rounding of oak, and excellent freshness of tannins and acids into the finish.
(2020) Clearly the most memorable thing about this Umbrian blend of Sangiovese with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is the packaging: the 'Frugal Bottle' is a radical new paper bottle - actually a paper bottle with a food-grade plastic liner inside. It splits into the two components - paper and plastic - with the press of a thumb, for easy home recyling and is said to have 1/6th the carbon footprint of glass. And the stuff inside? It's a lightly-oaked red, with an appealing and juicy nose that combines bright red cherry and blackcurrant, a subtle vanilla and spice softness in the background. In the mouth that upfront, savoury but ripe fruit character is deliciously drinkable, a wine with a tight tannin and acid framework that leaves it quite pert and juicy again, on the quaffable side of straightforward gluggability, but savoury and spicy in the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) Chris Alheit bought the fruit from this Stellenbosch vineyard with the purpose of using it in one of his blends, but called the Carinus family to say the quality was too good and it should be bottled separately. And so, this first release of the Polkadraai Chenin Blanc, made by Chris for the family, appeared. Chris ferments this with natural yeasts in concrete 'eggs'. It has a beautifully subtle creaminess on the nose, a subtle floral fragrance too, but that stony, dry, lightly earthy character of the natural ferment is there, maybe a touch of honey in the background. In the mouth there is substantial weight, and substantial concentration too, a cool, intense, ripe apple and fat lemony fruit, that saltiness and stony quality pushing through on the acidity in a wine that is subtle and yet concentrated, with the ripeness of the fruit revealed slowly as you sip. The wine is available in-bond at time of review, so an approximate final price per bottle is quoted.
(2020) This wine is an example of how South African winemakers are rediscovering and celebrating their once neglected old vines. It blends Grenache blanc sourced from the on-trend northerly Piekenierskloof region, with old, bush vine Grenache Blanc from Paarl. Partly barrel fermented with wild yeasts, there's a light gold to the colour and it has a very appealing nose, broadly fruity and rich with stone fruits and lightly yeasty and earthy nuances, a bit of waxy lemon rind too. In the mouth it has that generosity of texture and full flavour, but pin-sharp acidity gives a delightfully juicy, moreish finish. Just delicious, and well-priced.
(2020) This is not the first white Rioja made from Tempranillo Blanco that I have tasted and reviewed, but examples remain as rare as hen's teeth: this is not a white wine made from the black Tempranillo grape, but from white mutation discovered only a few decades ago. Unoaked, but aged on the lees, the nose has a hint of creamy nuttiness, but a pristine set of citrus and orchard fruit aromas that are appetising and fresh. On the palate there is surprising weight and breadth of texture and flavour for a 12.5% alcohol wine, perhaps a touch of tannin from the grape adding that structural feel, and loads of shimmering juicy acidity to keep it fresh and food-friendly. Fascinating. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) Just the earliest signs of tertiary development, with pleasing vegetal notes, mushroom and truffle, has a classic Burgundian style, lovely berry fruits. Such ripe, sweet red fruits, but fleshy and plummy too, with spicy fruit compote and a touch of chocolate to the finish. Blair thinks potentially this has more complexity than the 2018.