(2018) Well who'd have thought it? Pinot Noir from Portugal is highly unusual, this from Lisboa (formerly known as Estremadura), aged in a combination of French, American and Portuguese oak barrels. For Pinot lovers the search for affordable versions is always on, and this is a good little wine - indeed very good for its price: briarwood, roasted chestnut and some autumnal, woodland aromas join the red fruits, and the palate has juiciness and good balance. Even better, it's normal price of £8.99 is reduced to just £7.49 at time of review. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) Named after the castle of Castelrotto in Valpolicella, this is Corvina, dried for about 30 days, then after a long fermentation in Slavonian oak casks it is aged in small French oak barrels. It has a firm briar and cherry nose, with plum and a touch of dried herbs. On the palate it is firm with a bittersweet endive note, the oak and depth of the dried Corvina adding a balsamic richness and again that spicy, herby edge. Grippy yet fruity, and a serious food wine.
(2018) Only 4,500 bottles of this 'experimental' wine were produced, blending the local Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella with Syrah, in an appassimento style, with partially dried grapes. Dark and dense in colour, there's a vibrancy and juiciness to the fruit on the nose, slightly dusty plum and cherry, but vital and concentrated, the Syrah perhaps adding a touch of that sizzling bacon fat character. In the mouth the Syrah is there, a ripe black fruit at the core of this, powerful, long, with a liquorice twist to the tannins and acidity.
(2018) The indigenous Nero d'Avola is one of Sicily's most important red wine varieties, here made in the appasimento style. That means a proportion of the grapes were dried before fermentation, and that has resulted in a rich, dark wine with just a trace of sweetness. Bold with a cherry fruited acidity to brighten, its extremely quaffable and the soft finish makes it very crowd-friendly. Watch the video for more information on the wine and the appasimento technique, and for food-matching ideas. The price falls to £8.99 if bought as part of a mixed six from Majestic.
(2018) Quite a different vintage from the 2015 this, with more pronounced herbal, peppery and raspberry notes joining the black fruit, a little balsamic and lifted character, all very attractive in a firmer way. In the mouth the wine has the same sense of opulence and plushness, a dark, glossy pool of black fruits inviting you to dive right in, but there's a little more of an edge too, firm, liquoricy, mocha-deep, but giving a certain tangy presence. This is a slightly more savoury, structured interpretation, and again, a very successful one. This will improve further with mid-term cellaring, whilst the 2015 is irresistible now.
(2018) What a wonderfully full and delicious wine. That could be the end of the tasting note, but perhaps I'd better expand: this is the glorious face of hedonistic Barossa Shiraz, glossy, deep and overflowing with dark, chocolaty fruit, blackberry, plum and blueberry, but there's also a brighter, red fruit lift. In the mouth the 14.5% alcohol is unobtrusive, because the sheer concentration of the old vine fruit easily matches it, and the slick, vanilla and spice underpins with creamy tannins and an agile acidity. You have the full force of Barossa, but freshness - even elegance - too.
(2018) Emma is the daughter of Creation's owners, Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin, and at 10 years old she was given a barrel of prime Pinot which, with some help from her dad, was her project to make as she learned the fundamentals of winemaking. Only 300 bottles were produced, as a real one-off and, I guess this bottle was a collectors item (up until I opened it, that is). But what a lovely Pinot: soft ruby in colour, with a beguling mix of floral and rose-hip lifted aromatics, creamy-rich black fruits and an undertow of coffee. There's a charming, forward fruitiness on the palate too, backed up with coffee and spice, unruffled tannins and good cherry-skin, tart acidity. Not available to purchase at time of writing, though Slurp is one stockist of the regular Creation Pinots, and use the wine-searcher link to see others.
(2018) A more or less equal blend of northern Rhône Syrah and southern Rhône Grenache, this comes from 60-year-old vines and is a fine, savoury Côtes du Rhône of quite some style. It is only lightly oaked (I suspect only seeing oak in the form of older and bigger casks), and is liquorice-deep and earthy, but has a fine blueberry and ripe damson plum weight of fruit. Aromatically, it also flits between nuances of goût de terroir and a red fruit lift. On the palate that natural old-vine concentration is effortless, always juicy with its supple, fine tannin and acid structure. Long, the savoury character makes it very broadly food-friendly. Watch the video for specific food matching ideas, and more information on this wine and producer.
(2018) Sourced from the prime Gimblett Gravels terroir, this deep purple-black wine has a certain inkiness to the aromas, dry, spicy, a touch of graphite to black fruits. In the mouth the oak is a little more prominent, a touch of charriness of quality French oak, a firm strip of liquorice tannin and acidity, quite linear and structured, finishing with some of the black cassis fruit and spice coming through. Just a touch lean perhaps.
(2018) This Syrah from the always impressive Craggy Range spent 17 months in French oak barrels, 26% of which were new. Deep crimson and glossy, there's a refined fragrance, violet, delicate kirsch and a sprinkle of white pepper, just a sheen of balsamic oak there too. In the mouth the substance of the wine comes through powerfully, with a dark sinewy and savoury fruit, a real liquorice and endive grip to the tannins and acidity, and a long, fruity but meaty and umami finish. Note: price and stockist at time of writing is for the 2013 vintage.