(2019) A new release from Our Fathers, a label created by British MW Giles Cooke, with all profits going to a small number of charities that have a very personal connection to Giles and his family. The 'big brother' Our Fathers Shiraz is a cracking wine, made from a 125-year-old vineyard in the Barossa Valley, but it sells for £30 per bottle. At just £14, that same Shiraz fruit is blended with juicy Grenache to make a slightly more easy-going but delicious wine, packed with ripe plum fruit, hints of tobacco spice and chocolate, and that nutty character from the Grenache. It's silky and creamy in the mouth and the sweet fruit is so well balanced by the svelte tannins and juicy acid. Available only from the ourfathers web site, by the six-bottle case. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) A unusual Pinot Gris from vineyards in the Muscadet area of the Loire, and therefore classified as an IGP Val de Loire rather than Muscadet. Its 'flute' bottle gives it a rather Alsace look, and indeed the stuff inside has something in common with Pinot Gris from Alsace, including some residual sugar. And like Alsace, there's no way to tell that from the label which is a source of potential confusion for a thoroughly nice wine. Some floral, candy and citrus notes on the nose are attractive, a little stone-fruit, peachy character too. In the mouth there is good intensity here, definite sweetness, but a big rushing core of acidity sweeps the wine along to a balanced finish. For me, a banker for Thai or spicier Chinese cuisine.
(2019) Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, this is a wine made by the traditional method with long secondary fermentation in individual bottles. It pours with fine bubbles, a pale straw colour, and immediately attractive nose; crisp and fruity but with enough creamy character from its time on the lees. In the mouth it's a lovely, easy-drinking style, very fresh and free-flowing with orchard fruits and a zippy lemony acidity that is delicate and summery, with no tartness, into a finely-honed finish.
(2019) What a lovely Sauvignon Blanc, and quite a different expression from the Loire big hitters of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Part of that is down to the 18 months this unoaked wine stayed on the lees, meaning that even with only 12.5% alcohol it has texture and creaminess as well as vivid fruit. There's a touch of honey and apricot to the otherwise pristine apple and citrus aromas and flavours, nuttiness from the lees ageing rather than anything grassy, and a rounded, balanced finish.
(2019) Made from old bush vines of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, plus Syrah and Carignan, this is a substantial and meaty wine, deep in colour and aroma, with plum and tobacco, and yet a glimpse of something floral and violetty too. In the mouth there is terrific black fruit sweetness, an initial surge joined by grippy, firm tannins and tart plum-skin acidity to give this tension. Again that one dimension is soon expanded as a fresher red fruit character joins, though it is structure and a fair heft of alcohol that gives it a powerful finish.
(2019) Made from the classic old bush vines of the Roussillon, this is 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Carignan and 15% Mourvèdre, with around one third of the blend aged in barrel for six months. With a hefty 15% alcohol declared, there is a touch of Porty quality on the nose, all black cherry, plum and a touch of violet, a smidgeon of chocolate and some Sandalwood spice and tobacco filling in. In the mouth it is a big wine with a little bit of alcohol heat on the back palate, but there's no denying the appeal of the copious black fruit, fudge-like smooth tannins and peppy cherry acidity to balance as the spice fills in the finish once more. A chunk of steak with this is the way to go.
(2019) Around the mouth of the River Loire, the slate and granite soils of Muscadet produce wines prized for their freshness and tang. I don't come across too many sub-£6 wines that I can recommend these days, but this is one: it is not a Muscadet 'Sur Lie' so misses some of that yeasty, more saline character, but the fruit is bright and clear, all dry apple and lemon with an apple core bite of dryness to the acidity of the finish making it very seafood and sushi friendly. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) From the Yew Tree Vineyard in Didcot in Oxford which Sergio says is a "good ripening site." Made traditionally, this is an experimental wine, made from a parcel of Seyval Blanc they were unexpectedly offered. Half made in steel, half in old Burgundy barrels. Indigenous yeast and in barrel for 7 months before bottle ageing. As it has not been disgorged there's a fine haze of cloudiness, then crisp green apple and lemon, vivacious aromas. Fine, racy, sparkling Muscadet-like character in the mouth, but with an intriguing, slightly waxy texture.
(2019) Sub-titled 'Nightjar', made in small open-top fermenters, with 25% whole bunches then into larger oak barrels for maturation, always cool. Quite pale ruby, lovely soft and earthy, a touch of beetroot and rhubarb, subtle creaminess, herbs, but not green, a touch sappy and fresh and very well-balanced and delicious.
(2019) Sub-titled 'Painter of Light', this delicate but intense Chardonnay comes from clay soils planted with Burgundian clones. Whole-bunch pressed into oak with natural ferments and natural malolactic, with lees stirring. Biscuit and breadiness, a fat lemon and touch of orange. Good richness. On the palate, very clean, a touch funky, a nice pithy lemony character, the acid pure and touched with salty minerals. Long, and super fresh.