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(2017) Vinedos Emiliana is one of South America's most passionate advocates of organic and biodynamic viticulture, and this certified organic Carmenere is an excellent introduction to their range. Only 20% of the blend was aged in French oak barrels for six months, allowing the lifted, violet and white pepper character of this aromatic red to shine, the palate smooth and glossy, with black fruits touched by chocolate and a gentle, cherry juice acidity, the softening creaminess of the barrels filling out the low tannin, quaffable finish. Eminently juicy and approachable, but with savoury credentials as a food wine too. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas. Note too that supplier Oddbins will be pouring their wines at my London and Edinburgh Festivals of Wine.
(2017) What a beautiful Champagme from Marc Hébrart, a blend of old vine Pinot Noir (around 60%) and Chardonnay, the vines more than 40 years old. It has a richly toasty nose, plenty of depth and lightly earthy, terroir substance here, the crispness of the mousse giving fine initial attack on the palate. Everything comes sharply into focus here, an incisive, thrusting core of citrus and taut Asian pear, but that coolness balanced by real depth of creaminess and that powerful, much more broadly painted toast. A touch of salinity completes a very complex but utterly delicious Champagne.
(2017) It's nice to know that the wines of Pinalta are available in the UK, some time after I wrote about them when they had little UK distribution. This blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca is unoaked and made using only ambient yeasts - the name 'Oçitsac' meaning 'unadulterated'. There's a soaring, fresh, vinous nose of cherry and kirsch, taut black berries and a touch ozoney, minerals and spice. In the mouth it is full and ripe, the dense sweetness of fruit set against creamy, plush tannins, and a framework of acidity that gives some agility and length.
(2017) Made from 100% Loureiro, this is in effect a sparkling Vinho Verde, coming from the same region of Minho that runs from the Douro to the Spanish border, and made from one of Vinho Verde's mainstay grape varieties. There's an attractive lemony zest to this, a crispness to the mousse, with plenty of pert apple fruit and a hint of straw and flowers. Nine months of secondary fermentation in bottle adds a little creaminess, but it stays fresh and zippily moreish.
(2017) What a lovely place this Vinho Verde is in, still fresh as a spring morning and bursting with vivacious sweet fruit and flavour, but with a little bottle age adding a subtle background depth. Crunchy, juicy sliced apple and a hint of something like peach or mango, there's the faintest trace of spritz to add extra spark and zip, and a lovely core of acidity that shimmers on the finish. A delight.
(2017) Another fabulous and just nicely maturing wine in the wineline's rosta, this is 100% Semillon from the Douro, described as late harvest, but surely with some Botrytis given the lush barley sugar richness and intensity. Aged in barrel, it's very much a Sauternes-like recipe, and indeed the nose with notes of honey and leaf tea, a hint of tobacco and some fragrant floral nuances has that complexity. In the mouth it is silky-textured and mouth-filling, the fat apricot cut by Seville orange, with a long, creamy, but tantalisingly fresh finish.
(2017) In this Vinho Regional (a bit like France's IGP/Vin de Pays) some Caberenet Sauvignon joins the local Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira. Black cherry with a touch of kirsch lift and cassis gloss on the nose, leads to a firm but fruity palate, the spine of tight, fine tannin and acidity underpinning fresh black fruits. Balanced, powerful and direct, it's a food wine, perfect with some rare roast beef perhaps.
(2017) Rui Cunha is the ace winemaker behind the 'Secret Spot' project along with business partner Gonçalo Sousa Lopes, producing wines in the Douro Valley including those in the Vale da Poupa range. I really loved this expression of Muscat: so often aromatically fabulous in dry wines, but disappointing on the palate. Not here, where the the overflowing floral and lychee aromas, a touch of elderflower, burst onto the palate with vivid fruitiness and tingling acidity to cut through the creamy body.
(2017) A Port-method wine, but made from the aromatic Moscatel in the Douro by Rui Cunha. It's basically in the style of a 10-year-old tawny Port, the nose showing a touch of floral Muscat character, but more the mellow and walnutty notes of its long wood ageing, dried apricot, lemon and a touch of ginger spice. In the mouth the spirit gives heat, but there's some rich toast and marmalade character and that lovely sweetness lingers. A fine wine to match with blue cheeses, or to sip with some almonds perhaps. Price is for 50cl.
(2017) Disznókő is one of the great names of Tokaji, most famous of course for the fully sweet and luscious dessert wines made from grapes affected by botrytis, the 'noble rot'. This is a new and fresher take on the style, made from the same grapes (in this case Furmint), but with only a percentage of botrytised berries, the rest being harvested late but not with the noble rot. It is also given a shorter period of ageing in oak barrels. The nose is gorgeous, suffused with honey and wild flowers, touches of barley sugar and aromatic tobacco, before a palate that is medium-sweet, still with a generous texture and plenty of honey and ripe peach fruit, but a bracing grapefruit acidity, light nuttiness, and fresh finish with considerable length. Watch the video for some surprising food-matching suggestions and more information.