(2018) From Aconcagua Costa, the more coastal area of this central Chilean appellation, there's a twiggy, smoky note to this and a touch of sulphur on opening too, but the palate does go on to reveal a finer red fruit character, broadening to a fairly broad base of smokiness and plum, and a decent finish.
(2018) Pinot Noir from the Pfalz and limestone marl soils (kalkmergel). The nose has some plum and cherry, maybe even a touch of raspberry, before a palate that seems rather under-fruited; against the soft oak of the background there is some sweetness and decent acidity, but it is rather short and lacking a bit of charm. I couldn't honestly recommend this, even with two pounds off in Majestic's 'mix six' pricing.
(2018) From Turkey, a popular red blend of two local varieties, Öküzgözü and Boğazkere, partly aged in oak and made with the help of a Californian consultant winemaker. Aromatically it is attractively red-fruited and spicy, reducrrants and a suggestion of pomegranate seed crunchiness. In the mouth it is dry, quite rustic, with strong tannins and a liquorice twist of sour, bittersweet acidity squeezing the red fruits into a dry finish, something akin to a northern Italian red perhaps. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) In Côte-Rôtie, one of the most famous appellations of the Rhône Valley, it is very common for winemaker to blend just a touch of the fragrant white wine grape, Viognier, with Syrah, and Matt Thomson has performed the same trick here with Grüner-Veltliner, to add a little aromatic lift. The result is another firm, really rather European-style from Blank Canvas, pepper, liquorice and black cherry aromatics with a touch of cedarwood too. On the palate this has plenty of grip and edge – it’s a brisk, fairly lean and muscular style, the fruit is very good in a dry, savoury, pepper-edged style that cries out for some winter venison, roasts or slow-braised beef dishes. On offer at time of review at £21.95.
(2018) What a fabulous showing for all of the wines in the Blank Canvas range I must say. From a single vineyard in the Waihopai Valley of Marlborough, a large proportion of this was fermented as whole bunches of grapes, with wild yeasts, before ageing in French oak barriques. What an aromatic Pinot Noir, floral and herbal, bright cherry melts into a subtle earthy and nutty note, then the wine powers onto the palate: it as its seductive side for sure, with juicy, dense fruit, but there is light and air in this picture too, an edge to the firm tannins and the acidity, spice and subtle truffle character, and then a pristine finish almost like a white wine with its cool focus and length. Seriously good Pinot Noir this, multi-faceted and delicious. On offer at £23.95 at time of review.
(2018) Margaret River is a small, high-quality appellation in Western Australia. Its ocean-influenced climate is one secret to its renowned Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which often makes a nod towards a European style. Howard Park's 2012 from the Leston single vineyard is a beauty. Eighteen months in French oak has given a polished sheen to the deep pool of glossy blackcurrant fruit, with a hint of mint and cocoa, but also a little dusty briar and olive so typical of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the mouth that really lovely combination of the supple, plush black fruit with creaminess of oak, but firm tannin and the whole picture tensioned by keen acidity to give structure and extra length. Finishing on fruit, spice and fine-grained tannins, a really terrific Cabernet. Watch the video for more information, and note that by the case the price falls to around £20 per bottle.
(2018) From the Grand Cru vineyard acquired by Georges Mugneret in 1977, with the help of Charles Rousseau, composed of thin, stony soils. The domaine is now worked by Georges' daughters, and this wine will see around 70% new oak. The colour is pale, but with a garnet hue and little sign of age. Perfumed and touched by herbs and a meatiness, lovely firm berry fruit with some liquorice and chestnut character. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit fairly explodes, real ripeness here and even lusciousness, the fleshy berry fruit soon caught up in a dried cherry acidity and purposeful but ripe, coffeeish tannins, the oak very delicate just adding a touch of cedar and smoke way in the background. This has good length, dry, the fruit and a delicate herbs and spices character again, and a poised but really quite powerful finish. Very hard to say whether this should be cellared further: it has loads of fruit and charm still, but does finish just a touch dry, so perhaps drinking now and over the next five years would be the sensible path. It should also be decanted as it throws a significant sediment, but also opens nicely in the glass, so give it a little air.
(2018) Carmen was one of my first go-to Chilean producers, thanks largely to a wine called 'Grand Vidure', a real favourite of mine in the 1990s, and one of the first wave of Carmenere-based wines before the variety became established as Chile's 'signature' grape. Here we have Carignan, one of Chile's current superstar grapes thanks to old-vine plantings, this aged 12 months in French oak. There's an interesting melange of meat-stock cherry and vine fruit on the nose, a dark and savoury character. In the mouth it's very much about the fruit, quite sinewy and chewy, the oak well into the background, with a balanced savoury finish.
(2018) One of my all-time favourite wines from Portugal, Mouchão in 2013 is a bit of a stunner. A blend of Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira, foot trodden, and made in a big, old oak vats, it always strikes me as a cross between Burgundy and the Rhône, with the perfume and soulful character of the former, and spice and juicy structure of the latter - while, of course, being entirely its own wine. A beautiful medley of ripe black berries, sweet earth, subtle spicing and floral touches leads on to a palate that is sumptuous and deep, yet light in both texture and its freshness: an alert, life-force of a wine, the tannins and juicy acids giving lots of attack and tension, and suggesting this will only improve with cellaring, but already giving great pleasure with its core of firm, savoury fruit.
(2018) This 100% Aglianico cuvée is from a single vineyard and is aged for 18 months in medium-toast new French barriques, with a minimum of an extra 24 months in bottle before release. It's an extremely dense and powerful wine, with massive concentration, yet there is light and shade. Briar, liquorice and dark, vinous plummy fruit on the nose is just starting to allow some delicate rose and cherry character to emerge. In the mouth it is strapping stuff, an onslaught of sweet fruit that is cloaked in tannin and bright acidity, a touch of charry coffeeish oak, and just loads of extract and substance. Hugely serious, muscular and impressive, this is worth tucking away for at least five more years before broaching, but if opening now, decant for a couple.