(2020) This blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah comes from Chateau de Figuières' 70-hectare property, the vineyards all within the La Clape appellation, one of the Languedoc's most interesting with its marl-limestone soils and proximity to the ocean. Made in stainless steel, it presents a beautifully creamy, smooth profile of black fruits, dusted with a fine layer of violet and lavender. On the palate there's terrific juiciness, the tangy, sour black cherry edge to the acidity and the firm but fine tannins wrapped around the core of sweet black fruit. A lovely wine which the producer hopes to bring to the UK. Around 7.50€ in France at time of review.
(2020) This is a powerful, concentrated and meaty Pinotage from the slopes of the Tygerberg mountain, just seven kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean. It spent 11 months in a combination of French and American oak barriques, 30% of which were new. Dark, brooding sour cherry and spices dominate the nose, with a bit of mocha and meat-stock. In the mouth the substantial presence of the wine shows both sweet and ripe fruit, but that edgy darkness again, plenty of tannic heft and good acids giving it juiciness and structure. A fine example of the variety.
(2020) This is a modern, taut and muscular style of Rioja, not the vanilla and coconunt softness of an aged traditional reserva, but instead a wine of bitter cherry and plum, a twist of liquorice and lift of kirsch on the nose, the palate firm, tannic and savoury, a rasp of plum skin roughness to add some rustic bite and the smooth black fruits always in that context. I might decant this for an hour or two, a wine with a bit of brawny, sinewy structure as well as fruit.
(2020) The State of Victoria in Australia is home to some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the southern hemisphere, and the Mornington Peninsula, just south of Melbourne, is a prime spot. From estate vineyards planted in 1999, this was fermented in open vats using wild yeasts and matured for a year in older oak puncheons (larger, 500-litre barrels). It's a fairly full and ripe style of Pinot, but not too 'solid', retaining lovely Pinot energy and freshness, a pert cherry fruitiness and orangey tang to the fruit and acidity, the briskness of the tannins adding the fleet-footed character, in a fruity and charming Pinot for drinking now I'd guess.
(2020) Apparently a blend of Shiraz and Pinot Noir is not that unsusual in certain cooler Australian regions like here in the Hunter Valley, or in Tasmania and regions of Victoria, but I'm racking my brains trying to remember if I've ever come across one before. With only 12.5% abv it is a much more delicate and refined beast than you might imagine, elegantly framed by bright acidity and brisk tannins, the sheer juiciness of the fruit is a delight, masses of edgy cherry and bittersweet blueberry with tartness and freshness to keep it agile and super-crisp, yet abundantly fruity too. Really enjoyable and well-balanced, spiciness and juiciness are the key words as well as that dark fruit character.
(2020) Mencia, the favourite grape of the Bierzo region in northwest Spain, is much rarer in Australia. Often associated with Italian varieties, here the Oliver family present an approachable red that is a really good expression of the variety. Like a turbo-charged Beaujolais in a way, it is crisp and juicy, packed with vivid cherry, red plum and a wisp of smoke and tobacco, there's abundant creaminess too, the palate supple and deep, but never losing that edge of energy and freshness. Unfortunately no UK stockists are listed for this limited release wine at time of review.
(2020) From vineyards in Castellina in Chianti Classico, this is mostly Sangiovese with 5% Colorino. It has classic Chianti aromas, sour dark cherry and firm plums, with hints of smoke and spice, and a definnite cedary character. In the mouth it is a firm style of wine: tannins quite grippy and lots of tart black cherry acidity, but it fleshes out on the mid-palate. The dark fruits are savoury and spicy, and it finishes with good balance.
(2020) A family domaine that until 10 years ago sold its fruit to the co-operative cellars of Tain l'Herimitage. The current generation now bottle their estate wines, organically farmed and certified, made with natural yeasts, and with minimal use of sulphur. From vines with an average age of 20 years, this Crozes-Hermitage opens expressively, with juicy plum and blueberry, a lovely little lift of violet, and a subtle beetrooty earthiness. In the mouth it is substantial and serious without being heavy or ponderous; there's firm cherry and plum-skin acidity, quite thick and ripe tannins, but plenty of natural fruit concentration and mid-palate sweetness. It finishes dry and savoury, but maintaining that fruit. I suspect this will cellar well for up to 10 years.
(2020) Very much 'modern' Rioja this, creamy, minty, chocolaty and bold, but putting the ripe black fruits centre stage. Extended ageing in oak (I'd guess mainly French) has smoothed and polished both the flavours and texture, the palate sensuous, sweet and deeply-fruited, firm, but very finely-grained tannins and generous, juicy acidity make it both structured and eminantly drinkable - now or in 10 years. £20 as part of a mixed six bottles.
(2020) Masi makes this wine for the Bossi Fedrigotti family, who ancient vineyard estate has been around for more than 300 years. 30% of the grapes were given a light appassimento - the drying technique used for Amarone - and the components blended and aged in barriques for six months. Deep, vibrant crimson colour, the nose has the lift and lightly ash and incense quality so often found in such wines, with cherry and a touch of vanilla. In the mouth firm, juicy fruit, cherry again and taut, just ripe plums, edged with liquorice and blueberry tartness, a savoury, rather firm finish.