(2020) The label states this is "certified 21 years old", though there's a good chance some of the components in the blend are even older. It's a fabulous fortified wine, mellowed by those two decades plus in barrels, but with a cut and orange zest brightness that is rarely found in similar European styles. There is a depth of cappucino, chocolate and rum-soaked raisins on the nose and palate, and a little volatile lift. That heart-warming fruitcake richness, sweetness and walnutty sheen of age is all there on the palate in a striking and delicious wine. Fabulous stuff, price for a 50cl bottle. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2020) Old fashioned in its way, this is light (12.5% abv), subtle Pinot Noir with a touch of chestnutty, autumnal warmth and a red fruit profile. In the mouth the tannins and acidity give this firmness, arguably a slightly lean quality, but that savouriness with a hint of sour orange and firm, small red berries is also its appeal. A 'proper Pinot', or rather, 'proper Burgundy' at the entry level, with a certain briary, stalky austerity.
(2020) This bottle was opened three weeks pior to re-tasting, as an experiment to see how well a wine preservation system called 'Repour' would maintain the condition of the wine. Read about Repour here. As suggested by Repour, I uncorked this three-week-old bottle to allow it to 'breathe' after its time with oxygen excluded from the wine. There was no hint of oxidation to colour or aroma, the wine seemingly very much the same as my initial tasting. In the mouth perhaps just a touch softer than previously, a touch more smoky bacon and grilled quality, but otherwise the wine was surprisingly fresh, the tannin and acid structure identical, and the overall enjoyment level the same, if not marginally improved. The Repour system certainly seemed to have avoided oxidation of the wine, and to have preserved its essential character extremely well.
(2020) A wine I've tasted many times over the years, made in partnership with the Mosel Valley's Dr Loosen. It has a gossamer light, floral nose with plenty of lime fruit and a hint of something exotic: lychee, maybe even ginger. On the palate it dry, but with so much sweet, pretty fruit, but a decisive, racy acidity too. As always with this wine, I can heartily recommend it, though for me the price remains a little steep compared to similar wines.
(2020) The subsequent vintage of this wine has a slightly different blend - this time 86% Viognier and 14% Rolle, half a percent more alcohol, but it seems to me that the oak has been reined back. Certainly the vanilla and toast on the nose of the 2014 gives way here to a purer fruit quality, notes of acacia and stone fruits, light honey, and just a biscuity and creamy oak in the background. In the mouth the wine is weighty and textured, the freshness is very good again and the alcohol carried lightly, some fat citrussy acidity adding balance. Again a 10% discount on a six-bottle case brings the price down to £15.40. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2020) Ben Schild started his family farm in the Barossa Valley in 1952, and the current generation in charge of this family estate dedicate this wine to his memory. Coming from one dedicated parcel of the Angus Brae single vineyard, it spends 18 months in a blend of American, French and Hungarian oak barrels, and Schild estimate a 10-year drinking window for the wine. It's a big-scaled, unapolagetically Barossa style, packed with fruit and spice, the nose, a deep pool of mulberry and blackcurant, touched by coffee and woodsmoke. Great fruit sweetness as it strikes the palate, a luscious, full-flavoured wine, a little balsamic note and meat-stock richness, but then the spice and the freshness of the acidity kicks in, very creamy and fine tannins, and a long, tapering finish.
(2020) Matured for 18 months in a combination of French and American oak hogsheads, fruit comes from selected parcels of Schild's barossa vineyards. Deep crimson in colour, plum and cherry aromas also suggest something mineral and meaty in the background. The palate has a nicely savoury, steely edge thanks to the tannins and bright, juicy acidity, so the fully ripe and sweet fruit stays fresh, a spicy tobacco touch adding another dimension to the finish.
(2020) Schild's GMS southern Rhône blend marches to quite a different beat from the two Shiraz wines tasted, given only very light oak treatment, and all about juiciness and prettiness of fruit. Significantly lighter in colour too, the aromas are buoyant with cherry, red plum, even a hint of strawberry. A little spice adds to the bouquet. In the mouth the sweet fruit is allowed free expression, smooth but relatively gentle tannins, a creamy acidity and just a polish of oak add to the long, very drinkable character of the wine.
(2020) You're going to either love or hate this sparkling natural wine - and I loved it. A traditional method blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir aged 24 months on the lees, it is 'sold as seen', having not been disgorged - so it is cloudy with the expired yeast cells - and having received no dosage - so it is bone dry. Foamy and full, the colour is a hazy, cloudy yellow, and there's a big waft of cracked wheat to begin. That toastiness continues, joined by crisp citrus, then on the palate so dry and refreshing, the zestiness allied to that wheaty, yeasty, slightly weissbier character is lovely, making this intriguing, gastronomic and, in the end, very satisfying.
(2020) Assinatura is a blend of mainly Shiraz (80%), along with 10% Tempranillo and 10% Tannat, aged for 18 months in new French oak, and made only in exceptional years at this property - this is the first since 2014. Deeply coloured, it opens with plenty of Sandalwood spice and tobacco, a darkly-hued set of fruit aromas suggesting blackcurrant and plum, with a touch of smoky meatiness too. In the mouth the savoury black fruit dominates, still that distinctive spiciness, and yet more of the meaty, charcuterie quality. Firm acidity and tannins suggest this would benefit from decanting now, and should have decent cellaring potential too.