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    Buying decisions from trend setting trade and The Buyer tastings

    Tasting: Wine
    Riesling Long Read

    How New York’s Finger Lakes is going through a Riesling revolution

    American viticulture has the ability to deliver fantastic mineral-driven, complex, refined, long-ageing, and refreshing white wines that remind one of great Old World regions such as Burgundy, Mosel and the Loire. But in the past two decades a new breed of winemaker is ensuring that American AVAs are developing their own, unique characteristics. Nowhere is this more true than Finger Lakes in New York State, whose cool climate Rieslings have been going through a Renaissance in the past eight years – switching from a semi-dry style to dry and starting to reap the benefits.

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    People People: Producer Tasting Tasting: Wine
    la unica all of us 2

    Six tastings in 4 countries to create Felix Solis’ La Única

    When the invite came through to help take part in the judging and blending of the new La Única project from Felix Solis I took a double take. The time and date was for an actual venue alongside other people, rather than sit in on a Zoom tasting. But when I nervously arrived at Camino in Kings Cross to take part there, as well as my fellow real life tasters, was a large screen with not just one Zoom tasting taking place, but five others simultaneously happening in China, Germany and Spain. Welcome to the new normal of virtual, and actual wine tastings. Here Richard Cochrane, head of Félix Solís in the UK, explains how La Única concept works and why it wanted to make it a global online event.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Riccitelli

    Why Riccitelli is the alchemist who dares to be different

    Too many people pigeonhole Argentinian wines as being just about Malbec and Torontes, says Matias Riccitelli, who tells Justin Keay that his winemaking philosophy is driven by the need to show off a different face of his country’s viticulture. Through the 25 wines he makes in Mendoza and the few in Patagonia, including a superb old vine Semillon, Riccitelli is being recognised as a great alchemist, working with a wide range of varietals, vessels and techniques to make some of Argentina’s most exciting new wines.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Rueda Sauvignon Blanc

    Getting to know Ramón Bilbao’s Rueda Sauvignon Blanc 2018

    Innovation in Spanish winemaking is not just reserved for the new wave of artisan winemakers. Ramón Bilbao proves once again with its new Rueda Sauvignon Blanc that a big player can just as easily throw away the rulebook. Hailing from its shiny new winery La Finca Las Medias, winemaker Sara Bañuelos, has been given licence to thrill with an SB/ Verdejo blend but even more interestingly a 100% single varietal Sauvignon Blanc. David Kermode picks up the story.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Scions of Sinai

    Tasting the new Scions of Sinai 2019 single vineyard wines

    Bernhard Bredell was named Young Winemaker of the Year in Tim Atkin’s South Africa 2019 Special Report, a reflection of the amount of heads he’s turned since 2016 when he set up the Scions of Sinai label, and also down to the quality of the wines, in particular the single vineyard Swanesang which is made from the last standing bushvines of Syrah in the Helderberg district of Stellenbosch. Emerging Wine Writer of the Year, Malu Lambert, visited him after Lockdown and tasted through the range.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Australian

    Australian wine was the winner at the final Mamba Awards

    The Mamba Riedel Decanter Awards took its final bow after 15 years yesterday with Liberty Wines winning Best All-Time Importer and Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Best Australian wine in a Grand Awards event at the Harrow at Little Bedwyn. The event was a ‘Champion of Champions’ affair with all of the day’s finalists previously being award winners, since the event started in 2006.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Gayda

    Taste-testing new vintages of Domaine Gayda’s organic wines

    Fresh from its success at this year’s Mundus Vini Biofach international organic wine fair, where it picked up the Best Organic Red Wine of France gong for its flagship wine Chemin de Moscou, Domaine Gayda is launching its Figure Libre range of wines in the UK with fresh distribution deals in place. Peter Dean picks up the story and tastes through the new wines.

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    Tasting: Spirit
    Lyre's

    How do Lyre’s new, non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ taste to a teetotal Gen Z?

    It’s been 10 months since 18 year-old Yasmin Dean has had an alcoholic drink, before then she was rarely seen without one. Too many parties later she decided to quit, has never looked back and was a natural to taste through the range of Lyre’s non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ when they got sent to The Buyer. But drunk neat and in mocktails do they match up to the real thing? How do they compare to Seedlip? And which would she pick and feel happy drinking when she was out partying?

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    Tasting: Wine
    PN VZ 15

    How Bollinger’s new PN VZ 15 is a glorious deep-dive into terroir

    The new Bollinger PN VZ 15 was born from a challenge to his fellow three winemakers, when chef de cave Gilles Descôtes asked them to make a Blanc de Noirs across vintages and villages. The wine had to have affordability and as much volume as Grande Année so that keen consumers can actually get some. The result is “exquisitely beautiful” writes Anne Krebiehl MW, a real deep-dive into Champagne’s terroirs with Pinot Noir coming (interestingly) from Verzanay rather than Aÿ and 20% of the reserve wines coming from Bollinger’s réserves de magnum from 2009 and 2010.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Dom Pérignon 2010

    How Dom Pérignon made a vintage in 2010 when many didn’t

    In France 2010 is a vintage that produced so many sensational wines – Bordeaux, Burgundy, even North and South Rhône were on the same page, but in Champagne very few houses declared a vintage. The reason was that on August 15 and 16 the region had the equivalent of two months of rain. In a fascinating masterclass to mark the launch of Dom Pérignon 2010 chef de cave Vincent Chaperon explains how they took a massive gamble with the Pinot Noir – leaving 20% of their plots to ripen knowing they would lose most of it to botrytis.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Cramele Recas Long Read

    Why the wines of Romania’s Cramele Recas work so well

    You might not know at the time that you are drinking a wine from Romania’s Cramele Recas, but chances are that at some time or other you will be. The country’s largest winery is responsible for many of the UK’s best-selling wines with a unique and effective consumer-centric approach – they make wine with the right quality level, attention to detail and price then ensure it reaches its target market with packaging that is bespoke for every on and off trade customer. Peter Dean travelled to Romania to see the set-up first hand, and also picks some standout wines and how they work with a range of dishes.

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    Tasting: Wine
    post-Covid

    Peter Dean: How was the UK’s 1st post-Covid real life wine tasting?

    While the global wine industry agonizes about how to conduct safe wine tasting, a small car park in the London Borough of Fulham gave us all a glimpse into how the ‘new normal’ might work. Wine tasting, whether that be generic or by importer portfolio, is the lifeblood of the industry, of course, and Peter Dean went along to the event to see how public relations company R&R Teamwork had tackled the UK’s first post-Covid real life wine tasting. It’s one small step for wine…

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    Tasting: Wine
    English sparkling

    English Wine Week celebrates the growing diversity of styles

    With lockdown measures easing, and secondary vine growth making up for some of the frost damage that hit just four weeks ago, it finally looks like there are some things to raise a glass of bubbly to. But it is not just English Sparkling wine that is being celebrated and consumed in this week’s re-scheduled English Wine Week, writes Sophie McLean, but a whole host of wines that include red, white and rosé still wines with an increasing array of styles. 

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    Tasting: Wine
    Ojai Vineyard

    Ojai Vineyard recreating Old World wine in Santa Barbara

    When Adam Tolmach left Au Bon Climat, just nine years after having founded it with Jim Clendenen, to the Californian wine community it seemed a curious decision. But, with Ojai Vineyard now over 30 years old, Tolmach has totally vindicated that decision. He is still the consummate craftsman, keeps a hands-on vigneron approach, and continues to craft world class wines that speak of his passion for the wines of Burgundy and the Rhône. David Kermode attends this first in a weekly Sommelier Sessions series run by the California Wine Institute, and tastes three of Tolmach’s wines.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Journey's End

    Tasting the ‘Precision’, ‘Tails’ and ‘V’ ranges from Journey’s End

    Lockdown has been a busy time for wine consultant and writer Harry Crowther: first he ran a series of Instagram Live sessions on ‘Tasting Skills’ then came his ‘Supermarket Series’ picking out the best value wines from the top supermarket chains. Crowther also managed to hook up with Tom Hanson-Smith from Stellenbosch’s Journey’s End to hear how Rollo Gabb’s winery has fun, sustainability and local community as key drivers; and also to work his way through three of their wine ranges ‘Tails’, ‘V’ and ‘Precision’ to pick out the wines that you should have on your buying radar.

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    Tasting: Wine
    IGP Pays d’Oc

    Elizabeth Gabay MW picks her Top 20 from IGP Pays d’Oc

    As the price of Provence rosé wines increases and as demand outstrips supply, so canny buyers should be looking to the Southern French wine region of IGP Pays d’Oc, for value, variety and quality, writes Elizabeth Gabay MW. Here she picks out her Top 20 rosés starting with the most popular variety – Grenache-based wines – then Cinsault, unusual varieties, and more gastronomic wines featuring darker grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Drouhin

    LM Archer: How the new Joseph Drouhin 2018 vintage is tasting

    In what was surely one of the final portfolio tastings in Beaune before the virus closed everything down, Burgundy expert LM Archer visited Maison Joseph Drouhin for a full portfolio tasting of the impressive 2018 vintage. In the company of Frédéric Drouin 10 whites and 11 reds were tasted showing an impressive array of terroir, deft winemaking skills, consistency of quality and surprising affordability.

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    Tasting: Wine
    katie-winemaker-and-sophie-winegrower-of-deloach

    Buyer Rewind to the 3rd Sonoma County Barrel Auction

    For the first time this year the Sonoma County Barrel Auction is going to be held online (June 16-18) giving wine buyers the opportunity to buy totally unique lots of wine from some of the county’s foremost winemakers. These wines are made specially for the auction, have never been seen before and will never be seen again. Three years ago The Buyer sent Christina Rasmussen to the auction where she previewed the lots, fell in love with a Syrah/ Grenache blend from Westwood, and sat enthralled as auctioneer John Curley showed off the skills that have seen him raise $85m for charity. We’re re-posting this excellent piece that captures the excitement of the live event which will hopefully be played out in the flesh in 2021. Full details of how to take part this year, and what wines are up for grabs, can be found at the end of this piece.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Heidsieck

    Charles Heidsieck 2012: A Charlie for our times by Anne Krebiehl

    2012 was an unlikely and surprising success in Champagne, of course, with a chaotic year looking like it was heading for disastrous proportions like 1984. Then came August and the rest is history. Anne Krebiehl MW talks with Heidsieck’s cellar master Cyril Brun about why the house decided to disgorge its new vintage Charles Heidsieck 2012 Brut Millésimé in April 2019, and why they have introduced two new processes with this bottling – the use of Diam’s Mytik cork closures and the practice of jetting. Full tasting notes included.

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    Tasting: Wine
    Franciacorta

    Justin Keay: how Franciacorta is facing up to post-Covid-19 future

    Until Covid-19 hit Lombardy, with its 16,000 victims, things had been going pretty well in the region. For Franciacorta, its key premium wine, exports had been doubling year by year to the point that 20% was being exported to key markets such as the US and UK. It had also slowly built up a reputation for quality and consistency, governed as it is by some of the strictest winemaking rules in Italy. As the region starts to recover from the devastating effects of the virus Justin Keay talks to key players Bellavista, Ca del Bosco and Ferghettina, along with Consorzio President Silvano Brescianini about where the region goes from here.

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    Instataste

    Tasting with pictures View All
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    • Dry Riesling from Seneca Lake in New York State. Winemaker Louis Barroul whose family has run Chateau de St. Cosme in the Southern Rhone since 1570, teamed up with friends Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette to make stand-out Riesling and Pinot Noir down an eight-mile stretch of southeast Seneka Lake. They now produce 13 different Rieslings, 11 of them single vineyard, with the Classique wines a blend (of the 16 vineyards it buys fruit from) that tries to capture the Forge style and express the vintage. On the eye this wine is mid to deep gold (from the percentage of the wine that is fermented in used French oak). The wine has more flesh on the bones than some of the Finger Lakes wines – the aromas are ripe, honeyed, with hints of flint, jasmine and mango. The palate is medium weight with lovely balance, and a complex range of
    • Although Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 Rosé was launched to the press in February it gets its release this week in the UK. “Tasted next to its golden sibling, this Rosé with its 5% addition of red Pinot Noir, adds an aromatic flourish that transforms candied lemon into blood orange. Its perfume and openness are intense, almost heady in their seductive intent. There is lovely juiciness and those Tarocco orange notes, floating on that soft, yet fresh, pillowy creaminess. As the wine breathes and warms, a little spicy steak of white pepper appears. It goes down like nectar.” (AK) For more info. Go to www.the-buyer.net and read Anne’s article.
    • Fifth vintage of this excellent 90% Garnacha and 10% Viura rosado from a dream 90ha parcel high up in the Sierra de Yerga mountains in Rioja Oriental, made by Ramón Bilbao but undergoing a change of identity – it is now called Lalomba Finca Lalinde – to take advantage of the new single vineyard quality categorisation in Rioja – and also to fit in with the launch of the two premium Lalomba reds. Salmon rose-pink with saffron highlights; elegant and quite discreet floral nose, fruity (but elusively so); the palate is fresh, with bright acidity, flavours of red berries, cherries, rose petal, the finish is long with a lick of cream – a fine marriage between Provence and Rioja and intentionally so. Such a finely balanced and precise wine that delivers bags of flavour, with a weight of texture and tannin that you don’t normally associate with Rosé outside perhaps
    • Like the Cabernet Franc made by Languedoc-based Gayda, the Chenin Blanc is a reflection of winemaker Vincent Chansault’s origins in the Loire and experience making wine in South Africa. It’s a happy mix of both styles really, well balanced with firm acidity and a meltingly ripe fruit profile – tarte au pommes and ripe Golden Delicious. Touch of tannin, tidy finish, delicious.
    • Mullineux’s Old Vines White is a classic example of showing off blending as one of South Africa’s key winemaking strengths. In this dry and early vintage the cuvée is 73% Chenin Blanc (from very old bush vines), 13% Clairette Blanche, 7% Viognier and 7% Semillon Gris – the other varietals bringing complexity, balance and aromatic lift to the Chenin. The wine is now deep straw-coloured with complex aromas of baked apple and spices, orange peel, honeysuckle; the palate is smooth, ripe, with fine grained texture from the 11 months ageing in French oak (20% new), moderate acidity and a slight grip to the finish, flavours include ripe pears, almonds and orange oil. Tasted blind the wine doesn’t immediately scream Chenin but it has a unique profile and is more than the sum of its parts. Decanted for an hour, this is drinking well now, perhaps lacking some of the lean
    • Langlois Chateau (which is owned by Bollinger) has two chateaux in Sancerre, this one is a 15 hectare property located in St-Gemme en Sancerrois, one of the only estates in this north-western part of the appellation. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, of course, it is pale gold and exudes class with its expressive nose – pure clean, fresh and flinty – with aromas of lemon blossom and a hint of tropical fruit. On the palate the wine is fresh, clean as a whistle, precise, with bright lemon and lime notes, tarte au citron, a mineral core, firm and refreshing acidity, yellow grapefruit on the finish. It is a well-balanced wine with real focus and nice to see it come in as 12.5% abv. Classic Sancerre. Drinking well now until about 2025.
    • Fascinating new wine from Georgia - Kakhuri Mtsvane, 2018, Levani’s Marani Akhmeta. Kakhuri Mtsvane is the second most important grape in Georgian winemaking and Akhmeta is the name of the village known for the most rich, intense examples of amber and red wine. Levani’s Marani is the winery, a new set-up making small batches of distinctive wines. This particular wine is a dry, amber wine fermented and aged in a traditional qvevri (an undergound clay vessel). The moment you pour this wine into the glass your expectations are challenged time and again. The colour is simply extraordinary – vivid orange with pink and saffron highlights – with an almost lava-lamp-like luminosity. (My son unfairly called it Parisian tap water!). The wine is ever so slightly cloudy from no fining or filtering. The aromas are heady, rich, wild, exciting, I couldn’t wait to try it! There were notes of dried stone
    • This fascinating straw-gold white from Toscana would be a good wine for a blind tasting – it feels distinctly Italian, but I venture that the blend of grapes might be tricky to determine – Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Traminer and Semillon! As you might expect there is real complexity in this from the first aromas of lemon blossom, wild fennel, saline, through to the melange of flavours and substantial structure you come to expect of the Maremma terroir. It has a mid-weight, textured palate is full of flavour and would work well with seafood salad and a range of vegetable and fish dishes.
    • Just 350 cases were made of this old vine cuvee from some of Sorrel’s best hillside parcels. There is still a primary force to the wine, purple/black almost opaque, still-fresh blackberries, black cherry, red capsicum, black pepper, liquorice; a broody intensity pervades but then on the palate the wine is fresh, lithe, not showing its age or any sense of fatigue, lovely core of mineral, terrific balance, long, textured finish. Sensational.
    • Top cuvée from Jean-Luc Colombo which is only made in small quantities (3-5 barrels) in the very best vintages. The vineyard is about 300m above sea level and rises up 50m within the small South-East facing parcel giving a low yield of 12-14 hl per hectare. The wine was the most complex of those tasted in a four cuvée line-up, its appearance is deep purple-black, almost opaque; there is a real melange of aromas, Jean-Luc Colombo describes it as being like a “spicy marmalade of raspberry and strawberry”, I also got blackberry and apple jelly, old wood, Sichuan pepper, red licorice; the palate is fresh and intense, medium to high structure and acidity, which is cloaked nicely within copious amounts of quality red and black fruit. The wine manages to be powerful and elegant at the same time, with a real sense of the steep, forbidding terroir. Makes quite an
    • Unoaked Chardonnay that comes from Finger Lakes, New York but could just as easily be a Petit Chablis. The nose is subtle and complex, with notes of honeydew melon, lemon; the palate shows this is clearly a cool climate Chardonnay, ‘skinny’/ lean, but with an attractive creamy texture, that comes from the purity of the fruit (and not oak), lemon flesh and ripe tangerine on the mouth; bright, fresh, pure. Great value ($11.99 retail in the US)
    • A fine wine from South West France that really shows the potential of the small and little-recognised appellation of Saint Mont. Plaimont Producteurs used to put this fruit into Le Faîte until 2014 when they first produced this cuvée – a single vineyard field blend of Gros Manseng (50%), Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng (both 25%). The vineyard (Cirque Nord) is a mini-ampi-theatre with a North-Westerly exposure on variegated clay soil. As a result the wine has considerable tartaric acid which is exciting when young but perhaps more consumer-friendly when it starts to age (2017 is the current release). With little intervention, the wine spends 16-20 months in 10 year old 225 litre barrels until it is blended and then tanked. Mid-gold, the wine is a great mix of rich, complex flavours and firm acidity, with potential to age for decades. The nose is complex, with stone fruit, dried fruit,
    • Sample bottle of Milmanda 2017 a top Chardonnay from Torres’ estate Conca de Barberà. Quite a dry vintage, temperatures higher than average up to June and then cooler in the ripening months, leading to a very low production. Used to be 100% malolactic fermentation – 50% now, over the years Torres has pulled back on winemaking intervention with this wine, preferring the variety and terroir to ‘speak’. On the eye the wine is pale gold; open, refined aromas of fennel, lemon, a little bit of honeyed brioche; on the palate fresh, concentrated, juicy lemon – flesh and zest, tarte au citron. Opened at first it was too cold and there was a real attack of acidity, almost young Kumeu River but, after 30 minutes and warming up, it was more balanced and rounded – still with good structure and tension. Very approachable now.
    • Hard to believe this is 30 years old, it’s so fresh and intact, exhibiting secondary characteristics rather than tertiary. There is a Right Bank plushness to the wine, a silkiness to the tanins, but it still has grip and an appealing texture. The nose is fruit-driven (cassis and blackberry) with beef stock, smoke, earth and a touch of graphite in the background but none of the cigar box you might expect. The balance is perfectly judged between still-bright acidity and concentrated, ripe fruit, with a good deal of concentration and elegance. Seductive, beguiling and firing on all cylinders.
    • ‪Well this is v different. Lovely refreshing table craft dry cider made to drink with food from wine man turned cider maker James Forbes & journo / cider maker Susanna Forbes @DrinkBritain. Its called @LittlePomona and is a true celebration of what (5 types) of apple can do. Yum! ‬ #cider   #ciderlover   #cidermaking 
    • Il Poggione’s 2009 Brunello di Montalcino has grown into a truly outstanding wine – it was always a bit intense in youth and needed some time in the cellar to find its balance – and is well into its drinking window. The wine has that lovely interplay between ripe strawberry, iron and blood that you get from a gutsy Sangiovese – red cherry fruit also on the nose, bit of cedar. The palate is structured and bold and has a central pillar of still considerable acidity, framed by ripe tannins, savoury, red fruits, jamon, earth. Showed really well with and without food.
    • If you think red Beaujolais is quaffable you should try this cut-above Rosé that delivers quality and value in spades. Shiny pink gold with saffron highlights; bright strawberry nose, touch of saline; light, rounded mouthfeel, fresh, dry, with a mineral edge. Very quaffable - by the glass or, I suspect, by the bottle. Not excited by the label but the wine in the glass is delicious.
    • The first new permanent addition to Bollinger’s range for over a decade is a 100% Pinot Noir, disgorged November 2019 with 7g/l of dosage. Fruit comes from Verzenay and largely 2015 vintage with 20% of reserve wines coming from 2009/10 in magnums. Tasting wise: “Even the first, citric whiff conveys the famous Bollinger creaminess. This is a lemon-edged, plum-toned veil of subtlety. A little more air reveals a gorgeous edge of white pepper and rye, highlighted by lemon zest and the full-fruited juiciness of red apple. This is firmly anchored in richness but not weighed down, made supple and sinuous by glorious creaminess. It is a joyous, even hedonistic Champagne that shows the inherent richness, grace and structure of Pinot Noir – which here is lightly worn – its enduring, rounded fruit and its vivid, poised freshness. Right now this is at a beautiful and fortuitous intersection of luminous freshness,
    • Lagrange 2009. A classic case of a top Bordeaux being more than the sum of its parts. Although it is pretty ripe for a St Julien and seems at first (sweet) taste to be all about seductive rounded black fruit, the structure is there and helps bring great harmony to the wine – it is effortlessly well knitted together. The nose is complex: blackberry, cassis, summer truffle; the palate fresh, plush, with a thread of acidity running throughout and a tidy, precise finish. Lagrange normally makes Petit Verdot 15% of the final blend of the grand vin but here as in 2000, there is none, on account of the ripeness of the Cab Sauv, with the identical blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon and 27% Merlot. Well into its drinking window – simply delicious.
    • Premium and always impressive Syrah/Grenache/Cinsault blend from the Languedoc that delivers great value for money. Deep purple/ opaque; intense, heady nose, black fruit, pepper, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, touch of smoke; The palate is superbly judged, fresh, plenty of blackberry & cassis fruit but not overly-concentrated, iodine, blue plum, blueberries, red cherry, mineral core. Great power, but with a spine of acidity and framed by ripe tannins. Better in 6 months perhaps but drinking very well now.