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(2021) Widely available in UK supermarkets, convenience stores and on Amazon, when I accepted this sample I did not realise it is a rebranded version of the drink formerly known as The Bees Knees, and already reviewed a couple of years ago. It is a zero alcohol sparkling alternative to wine made from grape must with the addition of green tea. It acheives a little bit of strawberry pulp fruitiness, nicely cut by the herby and earthy undertone of the tea, to leave this off-dry but crisp and refreshing.
(2021) This English dessert wine is made from the sweetest grape must ever recorded in the UK, with 325g/l of sugar. That was thanks to the long, hot summer of 2018 when the Barnes family, now in its third generation, decided conditions were right in late October to harvest the grapes which were beginning to raisin on the vine. Once fermented, 122/gl of residual remained. The wine rested in American Oak Barrels for six weeks. Pale gold in colour, the nose is exotic and honeyed, some chamomile and distinctly floral notes playing against both Acacia blossom honey and sweet nectarine, with a little ginger in the mix too. On the palate is has medium weight and beautifully judged sweetness. It's a lighter style than some botrytis-affected sweet wines, the nectarine and apricot juiciness of the palate sweet without being cloying, the orange acidity balancing very nicely into a long finish. A limited edition, it is available in 37.5cl bottles from the Biddenden web site.
(2021) From Prosecco brand La Gioiosa, this is a zero alcohol, vegan drink made from grape must. The sparkle is added via an injection of carbon dioxide. The grape variety is not stated, but I'd be pretty sure it is Glera, the grape of Prosecco. The sparkle is very gentle, more frizzante than spumante, and aroma and flavour are both of pleasant fresh pears with some flattering sweetness in the finish. There's no mistaking this for wine, but it slips down easily as an alcohol-free alternative.
(2021) Relatively pale ruby to chestnut in colour, there's a gentle earthiness, creaminess and soft autumnal quality to this, with spiced berry fruit. In the mouth it is dry and has a sappy, spicy quality, just hinting at sweet berry fruit again, even a hint of mocha, but the freshness of the acidity and some bitter cherry and endive strictness keep it quite pert and zippy to the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2021) From a domaine that can trace its roots back to 1701, this family-run Languedoc estate near Montpellier blends this wine from Grenache, Rolle and Syrah grown on volcanic soils. Sealed with the 'Vinolok' glass stopper it is a beautifully packaged wine, pale peach in colour with lovely salt and mineral flecks to the red berry and citrus fruit. Bone dry, there's real grip here, pithy citrus and the tang of citrus skins, underpinned by redcurrant and finishing with good definition. Quite a grown-up, serious style at a relatively modest price. Watch the video for more information on this wine.
(2021) A Chianti Classico that is made from hand-harvested Sangiovese, 30% of which is aged in barriques, the rest in large oak casks for 18 months. Solid, sweet plum flesh and cherry on the nose, a nice touch of background tobacco spice, a little lick of vanilla too. In the mouth the fruit is sweet and ripe, more cherry and blackcurrant, but savoury and firm. Some dried blood and gravelly character gives grip. Quite dry tannins here, a touch rustic and it's bright edge of acidity makes this savoury, quite chewy, but satisfying. No UK stockist at time of review.
(2021) An arresting nose of pink grapefruit and burstingly-ripe nectarine on this Sauvignon Blanc (with some Riesling and Pinot Gris in the blend I believe) from Steve Smith's Pyramid Valley. There's a preserved lemon suggestion of firmness too, taut and bright. In the mouth so juicy: more nectarine, very ripe melon, just a hint of more exotic fruit and a fat orangey tang. Textured and creamy-rich on the mid-palate, the juicy freshness is maintained by the squeeze of grapefruit acidity and salinity in the finish. Imported into the UK by Louis Latour Agencies. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2021) From Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyards in Ay, plus 28% Chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger, this remarkable rosé spent eight years on the lees and is Extra Brut with 4.5g/l dosage. 5212 bottles were disgorged in March 2019. It's a remarkable and serious pink, the nose smoky and mineral, crammed with small, tight red berries and streaking citrus, just a little biscuit character too. There's an immediate sense of concentration, borne out on the palate, which is intense and beautifully fruited, with raspberry and redcurrant, again that smoky, stony mineral base, some natural fruit sweetness gathered up into a sweep of acidity through to the finish.
(2021) Though weighing in with 14.5% alcohol, as always with Seven Springs' Syrah there is a European-style elegance here, with a lovely violet and old roses floral lift to the black fruit, touches of spice and cherry too. In the mouth the weight and density of the fruit and that alcohol becomes apparent - not overdone or obvious, but there's a certain sumptuous quality to this as well as firm, fine-grained tannins and pert acidity to balance.
(2021) The 4th growth Beychevelle from 1985 has been one of my favourite ever wines for three decades now, a bottle from a case bought around 1989 having been drunk every few years. This the last of the dozen. Now the colour is still a lovely ruby, a hint of brick on the rim, though the nose and palate both show some age. There's a little autumn leaf, vegetal note that was not there on the previous bottle seven or eight years ago, but it does not detract: there is still so much to like. The palate still has that quite sumptuous, plummy fruit depth and swirling smokiness and hints of fudge and chocolate generosity, and the framework of tannins and now slightly more angular acidity give it tension and drive, making for a really enjoyable wine. Would I buy more of the 1985 at this stage? I'd say it is definitely just past its peak, but possibly would at the right price. Current price is shown below.