(2019) From a vineyard owned by Jean-Mark Lafage, of very old Grenache Gris and Blanc, this is partially oak-aged, and has a most enticing nose: hints of white flowers against white peach down and zest of lemon. In the mouth it is beautifully judged I must say, with a welter-weight of sweet, ripe, juicy fruit but backed up with crystalline acidity, a hint of spice, plenty of zest and vim, and yet a softer note to the ending that keeps it balanced and easy to drink. At the Bee club members price of £12 it's a steal, but great value anyway for a quality wine.
(2019) A blend of Carignan and Grenache, matured in a mix of 500L and 225L barrels, a quarter new, for 14 months. This is a big powerhouse wine with 15% abv and plenty of structure and depth, yet the nose is not without perfume, delicate rose and bergamot, spices and tobacco atop the black fruits. In the mouth a rich and substantial wine, the creamy-smooth tannins just edging the sumptuous, sweetly ripe black fruit. Plum-skins and cherry pits in the dry acidity add to the savoury character in a cracking wine - writ large. £20 for Bee subscribers.
(2019) The Symington family produce this meaty and fruity red from organically-grown Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, from the largest organic-certified farm in the Douro. There's a delightfully lifted floral and herbal, tobbaco and spice aroma, all floating over black fruit. On the palate it is firm, with a dry and tannic framework that does really call out for food, but the savoury, dark and robust black fruit is there. Some retailers, including Waitrose, have moved on to the 2017 vintage which I have not tasted, but it is usually a reliable wine that I have tasted over many vintages. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2019) This is a terrrific Champagne from Bruno Paillard, an equal blend of Chardonnay from Oger and le Mesnil and Pinot Noir from Mailly, of which 20% was barrel fermented. It has been aged for 10 years in the Maison’s cellars, seven of which were on the lees. It was disgorged in September 2017, and has a low dosage of 5g/l. With very fine and persistent bubbles, it has elegantly brioche- and biscuit-like notes that sit among creamy and nutty aromas, but lovely fruit freshness too, a direct, crisp character even with the leesy and biscuity autolysis of age. In the mouth the rolling mousse has luxurious texture and firmness, the fruit is all about crunchy Asian pear and citrus, then the delicate hazelnut and oatmeal character comes through. The finish is long, elegant, and although dry, there is charm, ripeness and no lack of approachability. A very fine Champagne this, pin-point accurate and taut, yet in no way austere or difficult.
(2019) A terrific Blanc de Noirs from the 2012 vintage, 100% old vine Pinot Noir with around 8g/l dosage. Pale gold with a mass of miniscule bubbles, aromas are gently biscuity, something a touch peppery, but mostly about ripe orchard fruits, some floral hints too. In the mouth a powerful and concentrated wine, a great, rushing sweep of intense acidity that drives it across the palate, but then a more broadening core of grapefruit or blood orange, edging towards peachiness, a waxy lemon zest crispness developing toward the finish which is long and beautifully balanced. This feels very youthful and yet eminently enjoyable right now. No UK retail stockists at time of review.
(2019) Made for Sainsbury's by Cecchi, this white wine comes from the volcanic soils of San Gimignano in Tuscany, and is 100% Vernaccia. Pure, fresh and vibrant, there is a touch of pear drop in this very young wine, but beyond that a dazzling lemon freshness, some delicate summer blossom notes, and cool orchard fruits. In the mouth it is dry and expressively salts and citrus, a mouth-watering style that's comparatively lean, focused and balanced into the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) 100% Chenin Blanc sparkling wine, made by the traditional method and spending 14 months on the lees, this comes from limestone soils in the Loire Valley. It has fresh but lightly biscuity aromas of peach and ripe apple, a fine mousse, and palate with plenty of dry, apple core acidity and a lemony surge of fruit. The creaminess of the lees does round the flavours out, a touch of toast even, into a long finish with enough dosage to add a sweet edge on the finish.
(2019) Lovely high, slightly medicinal notes, with similar floral lift and taut ripe cherry skins to the 2004. Some chestnut and tight ash and powdery tannins, so talcum-fine with great length and balance. Meaty but floral. These wines really do run the gamut of flavour and aroma.
(2019) This was poured from magnum. Just ramping up the almost narcotic, opium-den height and depth of incense and flowers, melding with those bloody, animal scents. This is now hitting its stride. Smooth as silk, the poise and the elegance of the tannins against the sweetness of the fruit is beguiling, in a fabulous, multi-layered wine.
(2019) Again a fabulous perfume here, massive tobaccoey and ashy background, pure ripe cherry fruit, this is fabulously complex. So much ash and sweetness against the sour cherry and that creamy, sensual tobacco and smoke. Such juiciness and such elegant length, arguably a slightly lighter style, but has structure to age and is so deeply attractive.