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(2017) What a lovely white wine this is, crisp with only 12.5% alcohol, it's a blend of the local Arinto and Fernão Pires with Sauvignon Blanc and Marsanne, an unsual mix that brings bright, herbaceous and waxy tones as well as copious zingy fruit. Grapefruit and peach on the palate, shimmering between tropicality and something much more tersely delineated, a long, balanced finish with excellent acidity completes and impressive picture. Watch the video for more information and food-maatching ideas.
(2017) Unusually, this wine is being offered in magnum or half bottle only (note price quoted is for a half bottle). It's mostly Touriga Franca, but as is normal for Port there's a host of other varieties in the blend inlcuding Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Nacional. It's a beautifully solid and in its way, 'masculine', style of Port, with rich black fruit, chocolate and a hint of kirsch cherries on the nose. Sweet, smooth, mouth-filling and luscious, the spirit is already elegantly amalgamated with the fruit and creamy tannins, and it retains very good acid freshness. Drinking so nicely, but no doubt capable of considering cellaring - especially those magnums.
(2017) What a contrast in styles between this and Churchill's, the other major Port name to declare 2014. It is lighter, not just physically in terms of texture (and a drop or two of alcohol) but with some herbal, even floral notes lined-up against the Churchill's brawny depth. In the mouth beautiful raspberry ripple lift and creaminess sits over a more dense, plum and chocolate depth, some tobacco, fig and spice developing and quite a serious tannic structure. There is not a huge amount to separate these in my mind on absolute quality, but quite a gulf stylistically.
(2017) The waft of rosy red apples was unmissable on opening this Grand Cru, all Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs. It is made from 40-year-old vines in Verzenay, and bottled with 8g/l dosage. The colour is a pale gold, and that distinctive red apple character is joined by gentle pastry notes, a yeasty, lightly earthy autolysis adding depth. It strikes the palate with real authority: considerable fruit sweetness, apple again, succulent pear, but a real intensity and concentration of old vine fruit, dazzling citrus acidity and a lick of salt giving great clarity and extending the finish. Terrific.
(2017) Some people 'own-label' wines carry a certain stigma, but The Wine Society's Exhibition range is made by some of the world's best producers, and members can see past the label with ease. Proving yet again how English sparkling wine has really come of age, this Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend is gorgeous: light brioche and pastry aromas mix with citrus and a touch of English hedgerow flowers and fruits, before the palate fills with a creamy, textured mousse, more of that biscuity hint of richness and a dazzling sweet fruit and crisp acid combo that extends this through to a crystal clear, but very easy-drinking finish. Stylish to the nth degree and good value. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) Produced at the Azienda Grappolo d’Oro on the Alpine terraces of Friuli, the Martincigh family farm this 20-hectare estate, which has been devoted to vineyards since Roman Times. This is a terrifically expressive Sauvignon, capturing some of the brilliance normally associated with Marlborough in New Zealand, but tempered with a classic northern European restraint. There's a hint of Alpine white flowers, a touch of English summer hedgerows, and an exotic fruitiness with notes of lychee and juicy, ripe mango along with some lemony zest. The smooth, ripe character of the palate has weight and real presence, and a similar balance of the tropical and of clear, shimmering focus to the fruit and acidity. Super-impressive. A 2.25-litre box costs £27.00 (£9.00 per bottle equivalent) and 5-litres costs £49.00, or £7.36 per bottle equivalent.
(2017) The giant, family-owned Torres company produces an excellent range of wines, from cheap and cheerful, to serious fine wines. The popular Viña Sol brand is always good value, and this rosé is a good summer choice. It's not in the fashionably pale, Provence style, but a rather deeper and more red-fruited wine, with ripe and welcoming notes of cherry and soft summer berries, and a delicate floral touch. In the mouth it has sweet and ripe red fruits, but finishes dry, a clean citrus acidity and touch of spice giving gastronomic as well as sipping-in-the-garden credentials. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) From vineyards surrounding the hill of Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley, this is produced by the Tain co-operative, a high quality but massive player, who bottle 50% of all Crozes-Hermitage - you will see various of their labels in UK supermarkets and merchants. This has classic northern Rhône aromatics with a whiff of grilled bacon fat, solid black fruit and a roasted chestnut earthiness. In the mouth it is agile and limber, a lovely acid cut to the black fruit, the ripeness offset by tight tannins and that earthy, lightly smoky character from partial barrel ageing. Watch the video for food-matching ideas and more information.
(2017) The biggest production, but still only 20,000 bottles. Quite a deep colour from late harvest grapes, 21 days beyond the normal harvest. Fermented in barrel, but barrels filled little by little, 30 litres per day, into a 300 litre barrel. Aged on lees with battonage for six months. There is a Botrytis character, lightly earthy and a touch yeasty, a dry but vivid apple fruitiness. The palate bursts with a vivacious fruit but such a rich creamy texture too. The fruit really powers on, but very dry, a tang of salt and lemon into a long, taut finish. Dry with only 2 to 3g/l residual sugar.
(2017) Also late harvest, fermented in steel tanks then aged in old Oloroso American oak casks. Darker in colour, there's more toast and a hint of marmalade, real richness and a suggestion of more sweetness to come. Indeed the wine has just over 20g/l of residual sugar, the unfortified late harvest sweetness is there, in its way delicate and Kabinett style, but the darker notes, the palate weight, barrel and the higher alcohol add significant lusciousness and a touch of spice.