(2022) From Jumilla in southeast Spain, a delightfully vibrant Monastrell, or Mourvèdre, unoaked and celebrating bursting red and black berry fruitines. There's a floral aspect on the nose, very violet-tinged, as well as a slightly dusty but ripe cherry fruit. In the mouth, bags of punch and flavour, but it's a smooth devil this, creamy-textured and with very rounded tannins, a good level of acidity giving the needed freshness. A pasta and chilli-basher for sure, but watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. Use the wine-searcher link to find other stockists.
(2022) One of the best-known biodynamic certified estates in New Zealand, Felton Road's Calvert vineyard bottling comes from heavy silt soils. 25% of the blend was whole-bunch fermented, and the wine spent 16 months in barrel (30% new French oak). There is a certain wild, untamed nature to this wine, the nose lifted with wild berries and garrigue, but a sense of woodland and mushroom too. There's something firm in the aromatic picture - something vegetal perhaps, in the beetroot spectrum. On the palate much more straighforward in a way, with plenty of red and black berry fruits, firm at the core, with sweet and ripe tannins and acidity to balance. Oak is discreet, in a wine that has some genuine plushness, but always a bit of wiry but polished gravitas too.
(2022) Stonecroft boasts the oldest Syrah vines in New Zealand, planted by Dr. Alan Limmer in 1984. This flagship wine contains fruit from these vines and is a selection of the best French oak barriques, in which the wine matured for 20 months (40% new). Only 110 cases were produced. This shows little sign of the five years it has under its belt, the colour bold and deep, and the aromas surging from the glass, of thick, blue-black fruit, cedary spices, tobacco and leather. Amongst all of that there is a higher, kirsch-like bright note too. In the mouth there's plenty of toasty, chocolate-deep oak wrapped around the black fruit, but there is an elegance too, a fresh and tart plum skin bittersweetness, fine acid balance and a long, harmonious finish that's all about the intensity of the fruit. Very impressive, though no UK retail listing at time of review.
(2022) From a biodynamic estate in Rutherford, Napa, that is dedicated to this single Bordeaux blend (91% Cabernet Sauvignon plus Cab Franc, Merlot, Carmenere and Petit Verdot). The wine spent 22 months in French oak barrels, 60% new. It has an arresting nose, where balsamic and liquorice notes play against ripe black fruits, intriguing hints of anise and flowers, graphite, but a solidity too. In the mouth the sweet fruit and thick, creamy tannin coats the tongue. There's a hint of something edgy and herbal, and the acid beautifully pitched, adding a rasp of extra grippy freshness. Subtle spicing and dark, olive-twisted savoury fruit dominate the long finish. Very impressive and surely with a 20 years of cellaring potential. The wine will be released on Bordeaux's 'La Place' in September 2022 before being distributed to retailers.
(2022) Surprisingly, this 'alternative' variety is from a vineyard planted 24 years ago - the first in the Hunter. It was fermented in steel, then matured in in a mix of barriques and larger puncheon barrels, all French oak, and no new barrels for 12 months. Creamy oak and a bright raspberry fruit on the nose, the fruit red in character. The palate has a lovely succulence and sweetness; there's intense cherry and ripe plum, some intense spiciness, and lip-smacking acidity. Tannins are chocolaty and rich in a deliciously full and satisfying wine.
(2022) From red clay soils, the Shiraz vineyard is 35 years old, and the 10% Cabernet in the blend is from a 20-year-old vineyard. After fermentaion parcels were matured separately before blending several months later, followed by further ageing in French oak barriques for six months or so. Bruce Tyrell says the Cab not only adds some tannic heft, but gives it a bit more upfront punch. There's a herbaceous aspect to the aroma, a little green olive and fresh black berry fruit. On the palate there is spice and grippy, tight tannin, giving the palate an edge that keeps things lively and fresh, without any sense of heaviness or 'dead fruit'. The finish is fruity, spicy and zippy.
(2022) These vineyards on red clay are 25 years old, the wine matured in French oak, 90% big 500-litre puncheons, and around 12% new oak overall. Riper, fuller and creamier than the Tyrrell's, there is more black fruit character and hints of gravel and coffee. On the palate again there's that spicy, racy edge to this, the pure black fruits underpinned by spice and gravel. There's crispness and elegant freshness aplenty here once again, great juicy clarity and drinkability.
(2022) From the IGP Pays de Cucugnan in the Corbières area, and a property run by Alexander Sichel, this is Grenache, Syrah and Carignan from vineyards at 350 metres in the Vallée de Cucugnan. It's a dark, brooding, but ultimately very plush and fruity red, creamy tannins and moderate acidity giving backbone. Peppery spice flits around aroma and flavour in a robust but very approachable red.
(2022) A lightly-oaked Nero d'Avola from the Italian island of Sicily that spent a few months in oak barrels. Deep in colour, the nose has a fragrant black cherry lift to the aroma, quite pretty and touching on floral, before a very juicy palate, the ripe blackberry fruit set against a little toast and earthiness, the tannins supple and the acidity giving a fine, dry, plum-skin finish to the wine.
(2022) From Calatayud and vineyards at between 600 and 1000 metres altitude, this is Grenache from vines planted in the 1940s. There's a smokiness and dried rosemary and thyme character to this on the nose, very firm blue/black fruits and polished wood notes. In the mouth the expansive mouthfeel fills with blueberry and damson plum, edged with a liquorice and endive bittersweetness. That slightly herbal charcter adds another edge, as does the concentration, heft of 15.5% alcohol and powerful tannins and acidity.