Great wines are currently being made all over the world. This column, which is published roughly every two months, aims to provide wine lovers with a snapshot of many different wine colours and styles, different grapes and terroirs. So call it another one of our “around the world in 80 wines” trip or so, this time with wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cahors, Jura, Loire, Rhône, and the Southeast, plus Italy, Portugal and New Zealand. There are some truly stellar wines in the lineup, read up and enjoy!
France – Bordeaux
Château Carbonnieux 2021 Bordeaux Blanc 91
Luminous straw yellow. In your face aromas of Sauvignon Blanc are not exactly discreet and bring a riper version of New Zealand Sauvignon to mind. In the mouth, gets a boost in complexity and depth thanks to the Semillon taking over, though the green fig, lime, grapefruit and herbal nuances of the Sauvignon re-emerge on the long crisp finish. A lovely wine that plays most of its cards on delivering immediate, simple charm, but lacks the depth and multiple layers typical of a wine more dominated by Semillon. Drinking window: 2023-2029.
Château Haut-Bages Libéral.
Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2015 Pauillac Grand Cru Classé 90+
Good full ruby. Deep cassis coffee and cocoa, less than the usual red fruit notes and turns very savory on both the nose and the mouth with aeration. Finishes vibrant and lifted, but not so nuanced with earthy nuances of herbs and game. Rather ripe in style in keeping with the year, but the herbal note increases with aeration: it adds freshness and lift, but may not be to everyone’s liking. A 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot blend sourced from thirty hectares, half of which are on the plateau de Haut-Bages very close to the river which protects against the frost (to the best of my memory, I can’t recall any major frost episodes ever befalling the property). Biodynamically farmed since 2007, I think this is one of Bordeaux’s most unsung and underrated properties, but have liked at other recent vintages more. Very good with all the usual foods you’d pair a red Bordeaux wine with but also try it with Dominican dark chocolate, a better pairing than say Guatemalan. Drinking window: 2025-2035.
Château Ferrière 2015 Margaux Grand Cru Classé 93
Bright red with a pale rim. Drop dead-gorgeous on the nose and in the mouth, boasting lovely, very sappy and juicy red fruit aromas and flavours (fresh red cherry, wild strawberry jam), oriental spices and a strong note of candied violet. The refined, medium-bodied finish has a very pretty floral lift that lingers nicely. The 2015 Chateau Ferrière is a 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot blend aged eighteen months in 40% new oak barrels and 60% in one year old barrels. The estate owns 24 hectares, planted on a soil of mostly deep gravel on limestone. Perfectly balanced, light on its feet and very elegant, this is a knockout red wine and a steal for the price. Drinking window: 20233-2033.
Château Durfort-Vivens 2015 Margaux Grand Cru Classé 95
Saturated dark ruby. Deep aromas of dark berries, cedar, licorice, cocoa, minerals and herbs. Very serious wine with good depth and complexity. Closes long with a refined austerity, strongly mineral, and tobacco and black pepper elements. A 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot blend aged eighteen months in 50% new oak barrels, this is a real knockout and one of the better young Durfort-Vivens of recent memory. It is a grossly underrated property that delivers wines long on refinement and class rather than relying on vulgar opulence and frankly tiresome sweet vanilla chocolaty aromas and flavours and little else. The estate owns 62 hectares in Margaux, Cantenac and Soussans since 2019, and it recently released its first ever vintage of three parcellar selections: La Plante, Le Plateau and Le Hameau. These were launched because owner Gonzague Lurton did not want to continue producing a grand vin and a deuxième vin, because the plots of vines at Durfort-Vivens give very different wines that deserve to stand on their own. Three different plots have been identified by the technical team, each giving a wine with a singular characteristic: La Plante is all about freshness, Le Plateau is about elegance, and Le Hameau represents power in the glass. This winery is also a rare one that was certified bio and biodynamic in the same year, 2016. Drinking window: 2027-2040.
Château d’Yquem 2018 Y de Yquem Bordeaux Blanc 92
Very pale golden-tinged straw yellow. Perfumed aromas of elderflower, honeysuckle, green fig and white flowers speak of the high Sauvignon content (75%). Then slightly richer in the mouth, with hints of white peach, orange oil and waxy notes that speak of the 25% Semillon. Easygoing and refined Bordeaux Blanc that finishes very long and fresh, with a beautiful, crystalline mouthfeel. You can drink this up already now if you enjoy Sauvignon’s simpler, easygoing charms, but my suggestion is to cellar it for two-three years and then drink over the next decade for maximum enjoyment. That extra aging will allow the Semillon to come to the fore, making for a far more interesting drink. Now made every year since 2004, and no longer from ultra-late harvested grapes hit by botrytis, “Y” is one of the world’s great dry white wines. I am and always have been a huge fan of this wine, but I wish it had more Semillon in the blend because this wine has shown before it can deliver a combination of oiliness, freshness, complexity and depth that is literally unachievable by almost all of the world’s white wines that is unfortunately missing in simplistic Sauvignon Blanc-dominated wines. Drinking window: 2027-2040.
France – Burgundy
Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard 2021 Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Clos des Murées 93
Luminous straw yellow. Stem ginger, lemon ice, and a hint of pineapple on the captivating nose, with a hint of minerally reduction. Then pure, crystalline and well-balanced in the mouth, with refined flavours of orchard fruit, apple jelly, crushed rocks and lime jelly. Closes long and suave with repeating mineral presence. A lovely white Burgundy that is made in a welcome understated style, one that captivates for its elegance rather than overt power. Beautiful stuff, really. The grapes are sourced from an 0.33 hectare monopole. Drinking window: 2025-2045.
Domaine Georges Glantenet.
Domaine Georges Glantenet 2019 Bourgogne Aligoté Vieille Vigne 89
Pale golden yellow. Aromas of apricot, anise, grapefruit and mint, with a leesy nuance. Then fresher in the mouth, offering citrus and Anjou pear flavours that have good depth and energy, picking up a more mineral edge with aeration. Drinking window: 2023-2027.
Domaine Levert-Barault 2019 Mercurey l’Automne 92
Bright ruby-red. Perfumed, easygoing aromas and flavours of crunchy red berries, violet and minerals. Smoothly textured and fresh, with a crisp fruitiness that lingers nicely on the straightforward, easygoing long close. Not the last word in complexity, but really a whole lot of fun to drink and will match well with any number of dishes, including fish dishes in sauce: there’s lots of wine for the money here. The l’Automne cuvée is made mostly with grapes sourced in two different areas of Mercurey, mostly those from the Les Vaux plots and alesser percenatge from the Les Montelons. I find this curious, because this wine is all about freshness and easygoing drinking pleasure, and it is the Les Montelons (on the Mercurey plateau opposite to Rully, it’s a cooler, fresher, higher-altitude area) that gives fresher crisper wines, while the Les Vaux is characterized by older vines and richer, deeper wines (the estate also makes a “Printemps” cuvée the blend of grapes from those two sources is reversed). The estate makes a Aged 50-50 in stainless steel and old oak barrels for 14 months. Drinking window: 2023-2030.
Robert Denongent 2019 Pouilly-Fuissé Climat Vieilles Vignes 90
Very pretty lemon yellow with golden tinges. Baked apple, roasted banana, pineapple, almond paste and fresh citrus (Kaffir lime, mostly) on the ripe but lifted nose; obviously a “natural” wine with some incipent funkiness present but mostly clean and precise. Enters fresh and penetrating, then richer and creamier in the middle, with juicy, noteworthy and slightly jagged acidity carrying the lemon jelly, lime sorbet and orange peel flavours on the long vibrant and tactile finish. Clocks in at 14% alcohol but is well-balanced, so I doubt many people will notice the slight touch of alcohol-derived heat. As a result of the frost episodes of 2019, Denonget decided to blend together the grapes from all their crus so this cuvée is made with grapes picked from the three different estate climats: this is 80% La Croix climat (characterized by mostly schistous soil),10% from Les Reisses (a cru marked by clay-rich soil), and 10% Vers Cras (mostly calcaire-limestone soil). Aged thirty-two months in oak in vessels of different materials and sizes, including oak, cement, stainless steel and amphoras. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
Robert Denongent 2020 Pouilly-Fuissé Premier Cru Vers Cras Vieilles Vignes 92
Green-hued gold. Meyer lemon, pear and iodine aromas turn delicately smoky with air. Nicely ripe and sweet, with a chewy quality to its exotic fruit flavours, but enough harmonious acidity and minerality giving shape and grip. Closes long and saline on the saliva-inducing finish, but is very well balanced, with a lovely spherical, non-angular quality in the mouth. Twenty-seven months in oak but you really can’t tell. Drinking window: 2024-2031
Robert Denongent 2020 Pouilly-Fuissé Premier Cru Les Reisses Vieilles Vignes 92
Bright straw colour with a little gold tinge. Aromas and flavours of orchard fruit, yellow melon and arugula with hints of ripe peach. Bigger and thicker in the mouth than the Vers Cras bottling, this speaks of the clay-rich soil, offering less in the way of tension and a more relaxed, supple but very elegant mouthfeel. Finishes long with noteworthy saline presence. Drinking window: 2024-2030.
David Moret 2019 Aligoté Vin de France Le Grand A 89
Yellow with some gold. Aromas of banana, lime, smoky sweet spices and vanilla. Very nice rich style, perhaps a little oaky currently with a slightly bittersweet tinge on the long ripe finish, which features a hint of mint. The typical acidity of the grape is really muted here and the caramel note builds on the back end, so it’s not surprising to learn that this spent eighteen months in 20% new oak French barrels. I suggest cellaring for a few years to allow the oak to resolve fully, and while the oakiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea (or Aligoté) when drinking wines made with this variety, I’d say this is a very serious wine that’s a steal for the price. Drinking window: 2025-2029.
David Moret 2019 Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 91
Pale straw-yellow. The ripe and forward nose of caramel, lemon and flowers, is ample but elegant too. Then juicy and rich with flavours of orchard and tropical fruit that are very long and clean on the finish. From fifty years old vines. Drinking window: 2025-2031.
David Moret 2019 Puligny-Montrachet 92
Straw-green colour with some golden tinges. Very lemony and mineral on the refined nose with white flower nuances lifting the apple and peach aromas. Then a bit reticent and closed down presently with a bitingly acidic mouthfeel to its orchard and mineral flavours. Closes very long and vibrant, with penetrating acidity nicely extending the flavours on the long back end. Drinking window: 2025-2031.
David Moret 2019 Meursault Sous la Velle 90
Straw green colour. A little reticent and fruit-challenged at first with a hint of green-gage complementing the apricot and banana aromas. Then richer and rounder in the mouth with a hint of caramel adding complexity and roundness to the powerful orchard fruit and sweet spicy flavours. The close is long and ripe; the vines grow in the “Sous la Velle” lieu-dit at 200 meters asl and are situated right next to the town of Meursault. Moret buys small amounts of grapes from top growers, always from the same plots of vines, and vinifies them in his cellar. Drinking window: 2025-2031.
France – Cahors.
Château Haute-Borie 2020 Causse du Theron Malbec Terrasse Cahors 92
Deep ruby. Blueberries and ripe cherries macerated in alcohol vie for attention on the enticing nose with notes of sweet spices and mocha. Fleshy but lively in the mouth, with very pure flavours of ripe dark berries and eau de vie. The finish is long gently tannic and features elements of sweet candied blue fruit. Great lunch wine made from biodynamically farmed 35 years old vines planted at about 350 meters asl on calcium-rich alluvial soils and fermented in stainless steel. Drinking window: 2023-2032.
France – Loire
Domaine Huet 2016 Vouvray Cuvée Constance 97
Pale golden yellow with green highlights. Tangy botrytis complicates tropical fruit salad and floral aromas, in turn complemented by sexy tones of quince, roasted banana, glazed pineapple, marzipan, sweet spices, vanilla and acacia honey. Enticing, and concentrated, but very light on its feet thanks to mesmerizingly piercing acidity, this boasts a lovely inner-mouth aromatic quality and bright acidity to frame the sweet fruit, spice and nectar flavours. Impeccably balanced, this finishes with a restrained, elegant sensation of sweetness and lovely lift and perfume. This is a gem, not to mention an absolutely world-class sweet wine. Drinking window: 2025-2056.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Touraine Chenonceaux 92
Pale straw yellow. Very Sauvignon but gentle in its kiwi, thyme, rosemary and gooseberry aromas and flavours. Finishes long and fleshy with plenty of glyceral sweetness and purity. This wine will be certified bio next year, with the 2023 vintage. The estate is owned by a friend of Alexandre Mellot; his wife Catherine continues to work with the winery and wishes to take it over once the owner decides to retire. Fr the time being, they are commercializing just a part of the vineyard’s total production. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
Jean-Michel Sorbe 2022 Reuilly 90
Pungent white flowers and herbs, with complicating hints of green figs on the nose and in the mouth. Made with grapes grown on mostly sandy-gravel, this is a slightly fatter than the Chenonceaux. Mellot bought the Jean-Michel Sorbe estate in 1999 and kept the original name. Drinking window: 2023-2027.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Menetou-Salon Clos du Pressoir 92
Straw yellow. A little harsh and rustic on the nose then softer and mellow in the mouth, with pretty notes of apricot and pear. Closes long and tactile with reminders off apricot and nuanced mulled wine. Bigger and richer than most of the other white wines in this estate’s portfolio, but also less finesse. Finishes long and clean. Drinking window: 2023-2029.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Domaine des Emois Sancerre 93
Crystalline straw yellow. Very serious, enticing aromas of peach, guava, pear and white flowers, with hints of spices and minerals. Then more peach and noteworthy salinity dominate in the mouth, finishing long and clean. This is lovely and boasts real concentration and complexity. Drinking window: 2025-2032.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Sancerre La Chatellenie 94
Bright pale straw colour. White flowers, peach, guava and herbs, with a strong mineral twist on the inviting nose. Very much like the Domaine des Emois in the mouth, but a clear-cut notch up in concentration and density, not to mention complexity. Pure silex soil, and you can tell: great wine. Drinking window: 2026-2033.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Domaine de Mariniers Pouilly-Fumé 90
Luminous straw-yellow. This is very green, both on the nose and in the mouth. Finishes long, but those who prefer a richer riper style of Sauvignon Blanc wines may be left wanting. These grapes will be certified bio soon; it is the first wine made by Adrien Mellot, who also used some native yeasts for the first time. The 2020 vintage is not just a good one but a relatively copious one: just imagine that by contrast, in 2021 they lost 50% of the Pouilly crop because of hail. Drinking window: 2026-2031.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Pouilly-Fumé Le Troncsec 92
Deep straw-green. Big, full-bodied and rich, with ripe gooseberry passionfruit aromas and flavours hat are freshened by citrus fruit nuances nicely extending the fruit’s presence on the long close. Given the clay-rich soil (you can’t even go into the vineyard when it rains), this is almost always a bigger wine than most in the Mellot portfolio. Off a terroir rich in caillottes, this is vinified in a mix of new and old barriques for 12 months, then spends another 12 months in tank. Drinking window: 2026-2031.
Jean-Michel Sorbe 2022 Pinot Gris Reuilly 92
Pale salmon pink. Soft but fresh red cherry, pomegranate and violet on the very pretty, not just fruity, nose. Fresh and savory in the mouth with outstanding clarity and cut for such a round wine, that clearly speaks of Pinot Gris and delivers flavour by the boatloads, if not mind-boggling complexity. Well done, this is excellent. Drinking window: 2023-2025.
Joseph Mellot 2022 Sancerre Pinot Noir Le Rabault 91
Good full ruby. Smoky red cherry, black plum and violet on the very Pinot Noir nose. Then fresh, juicy and mineral, with crunchy red and dark fruit flavours on the savoury back end. This is really big and savoury but also pleasingly rustic in a Mentou-Salon way. Drinking window: 2026-2031.
Jean-Michel Sorbe 2019 Reuilly Rouge La Commanderie 93
Moderately saturated red. Enters salty, with hints of bacon and sassafras plus a mix of dark fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Finishes quite tactile, with mouthcoating tannins and rising bitterness, not to mention some alcohol-derived heat that makes the currently youthfully tough tannins stand out even more. One year in demi-muid barrels, but the oak isn’t so obvious. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
Joseph Mellot 2019 Sancerre Rouge L’Original 93
Bright ruby-red. Smoky, clay-like aromas on the monolithic nose. Then fresher and fruitier in the mouth, with a strongly saline and even savoury quality to the red fruit and dark berry flavours. Finishes with polished but mouth coating tannins. Really lovely on entry, fruity and full, then turns deeper and richer but still fruity finishing long and with bright acidity. The vines grow on marly-clay soils and the wine spent one year in amphora. Drinking window: 2023-2029.
Domaine Maire & Fils.
Domaine Maire & Fils NV Savagnin Grand Héritage Côtes du Jura 93
Dark amber golden orange colour. Pungent aromas of white and yellow flowers, hazelnuts, almond, butter and white chocolate, with a hint of minerals. Then similar flavours in the mouth, with lip-smacking acidity carrying the flavours nicely on the long back end. This is 100% Savagnin from organically grown 20-40 years old vines planted at 450 meters asl on grey marl soils. Made with the classic controlled oxidative process “sous voile”, about 70% of the Savagnin was aged in stainless steel tanks for 2 -3 months, while another 30% of the Savagnin must was aged in oak barrels. Drinking window: 2023-2040.
Benjamin and David Duclaux.
Benjamin and David Duclaux 2020 Côte Rôtie La Germine 93
Purple-ruby. Exceptionally pretty nose of violet, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, aromatic herbs, red and blue fruits. Then more smoke and charcoal in the mouth, with grilled pork, satay, soy sauce salt nuances to the dark fruit flavours. Closes long juicy and saline, not to mention a little too rigid with the acidity really sticking out despite the 33% Viognier in the blend. Drinking window: 2024-2034.
Bernard Gripa 2020 Saint-Joseph Blanc 92
Good full lemon yellow with some gold. Enters creamy and long, with a lovely Roussanne-related lemony-mineral touch and plenty of Marsanne opulence. Finishes long with a white flower note. A 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne blend. Drinking window: 223-2028.
One of the Appellation’s most historic and iconic names, Chateau Fortia dates back to the late eighteenth century and was made famous by Hercule Paul de Fortia in the mid-nineteenth century (however, the estate has had many distinguished owners). Today there are roughly thirty-six hectares of which thirty-two are under vine in the area south of town known as La Fortiasse.
Chateau Fortia 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 92
Bright medium red. Inviting aromas of violet, red cherry, raspberry, garrigue, licorice, fennel and black pepper. Classically structured and authoritatively flavoured in the mouth, with layers of red fruit, herbs, woodsmoke, and a moderately tannic, very suave and spicy finish. For added complexity, the fruit vies with delicate mineral nuances for attention. Very pretty red wine from an exceptionally good vintage that is deceptively easy to drink but that will age well. Drinking window: 2023-2035.
Domaine de la Janasse.
Domaine de la Janasse 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin 92
Bright medium ruby with a pale rim. Very ripe aromas of red cherry, raspberry and licorice, plus a whiff of smoky oak. Supple, sweet red fruit flavors are complicated by a leathery nuance. Finishes with suave tannins and a lingering smoky herb and ripe dark fruit character, but lacks a little complexity. Drinking window: 2023-2029.
Domaine de Longue Toque.
Domaine de Longue Toque 2019 Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu 92
Bright saturated ruby. Very fresh and lifted floral nuances freshen the intense sweet red and blue fruit aromas and flavours. A steely nuance lifts and extends the flavours on the long strongly floral finish. Uncomplicated and easily approachable (aged eleven months in vats only), this is a really lovely wine. A 50-50 Greanche-Syrah blend from 10 years old vines organically farmed. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
Domaine de Longue Toque 2018 Vacqueyras 93
Fully opaque purple-ruby colour. Very ripe but refined aromas and flavours of red cherry, dark plum nectar, blueberry pie, filed herbs and mocha. Fresh and lively in the mouth despite its rather ripe and fleshy mouthfeel and huge size, this is suave and mouthcoating. Closes long and suave. A mouthful of wine that will match heavenly with all the grilled meats you can think of. A 50-50 Grenache and Syrah blend (the Greanche vines are 26 years old, the Syrah 15 years old) grown at 500 meters asl on Quaternary pebble and Miocene marl soils at 500 meters asl. Aged nine months in tanks. Drinking window: 2023-2030.
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe.
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe 2018 Châteauneuf du Pape Télégramme 94
Good full opaque ruby. Perfumed aromas of blackberry, grilled bacon, flint, blackberry coulis and violet. Very deep, sweet, long, clean and suave on the long finish that boasts a sassafrass nuance. Really excellent stuff here. Made from forty years old vines, this is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and 4% Cinsault, aged for roughly fifteen months in oak (plus another two in bottle) prior to going on sale. Drinking window: 2024-2036.
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape La Crau 93
Bright red-ruby. Aromatic nuances of sandalwood and herbs complicate the red and blue fruit aromas. Then savory, rich ripe and floral, every peppery, with very smooth tannins and a long powerful, mouthcoating finish. This 2017 cru wine has less nuance than the regular 2018 Châteauneuf du Pape, but more size and concentration. Drinking window:
Domaine Rostaing 2016 Viognier Les Lézardes 88
Pale straw colour. Aromatic, pungent nose hints at exotic flowers, mint and orange peel. Supple on entry, then more angular in the middle, with a flamboyant orange flavour complicated by herbs and spices. Offers a soft, creamy finish that is both minerally and herbal, but only medium-long. I am a big fan of Rostaing’s wines, both red and white, but this one is a little tired presently. Drink up. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Chateau de Pibarnon.
I imagine Catherine and Henri de Saint Victor did not think back in the late 1970s, when they purchased the Pibarnon property, that they would end up making not just one of Bandol’s great wines, but the world’s. For sure Mourvèdre expressed at a quality level like theirs is available only from Bandol’s other great estate, Domaine Tempier. And like that one, Chateau de Pibarnon’s old amphitheatre of organically farmed vines (certified in 2019), situated at the highest point in the Appellation, yield amazing red wines, but also very noteworthy white and rosé wines too. Drinking window:
Chateau de Pibarnon 2018 Bandol Rouge 92
Fully saturated purple-ruby. Black tea, leather and violet complicate aromas and flavours of cassis and plum reduction. Smooth and juicy, with solid tannic spine supporting the ripe flavours nicely on the long creamy finish. Maybe not the most concentrated or complex Pibarnon red I have ever tasted, but lovely. A 90% Mourvèdre and 10% Grenache blend fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in old and new oak barrels for about 18 months. Drinking window: 2023-2033.
Hervé Bizeul 2019 Cotes du Roussillon Les Sorcières du Clos des Fées 92
Dark red. Lovely nose hints at underbrush, red cherry and spices. Then fresh and lovely, with violet-accented blueberry and red fruit flavours. Finishes long with a hint of tar and shoe polish. A blend of 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache. 10% Carignan, 5% Mourvèdre. Drinking window: 2023-2030.
Herve Bizeul 2017 Le Close des Fees Cotes du Roussillon Villages 92
Deep ruby. Aromas of sandalwood, oriental spices black cherry and forest floor. Nicely rich, ripe and creamy in the mouth, with the suave mouthfeel showcasing chocolaty and cherry flavours. Closes long and bright. Drinking window: 2024-2030.
Giorgi NV Pinot Nero in Bianco Oltrepò Pavese Lombardy 88
Bright straw colour with a delicate stream of small bubbles. Fresh and floral on the nose, easygoing and lively in the mouth with simple floral and orchard fruit flavours, this uncomplicated wine finishes juicy and fresh. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Giorgi NV Pinot Nero Oltrepò Pavese Lombardy 89
Bright red. Fresh and easygoing aromas and flavours of red cherry and plum, complicated by a hint of spice. Very light ion its feet, I’d drink this slightly chilled given the absence of tannins and the juicy red fruit present. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
La Spinetta 2022 Moscato d’Asti Bricco Quaglia 90
Bright golden-tinged yellow. Creamy rich and intense aromas and flavours of apricot, orange nectar, grapefruit peel, vanilla and wildflower honey. Really coats the mouth with luscious wave after luscious wave of ripe fruit on the long finish. Always one of Italy’s best three or four Moscato d’Asti wines, this is another wonderfully delicious Bricco Quaglia, but I would have liked a touch of acidity more for a higher score. I’d drink this up over the next year at most. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Elena Walch 2022 Gewurztraminer Alto Adige 88
Bright yellow gold. Intense aromas of cinnamon, passion fruit and papaya. Then also rich and ripe in the mouth with flavours of tropical fruit and honey that are slightly cloying due to a generalized lack of enough acidity. Closes long and tactile, but I don’t think you should be hanging on to this any length of time. Drink up. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Elena Walch 2022 Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 92
Bright straw green. Powerful aromas and flavours of apple, pear and vanilla really grab attention. Smooth and ripe, with suave flesh and sneaky concentration on the long lifted close. This is excellent: Pinot Grigio gets a bad rep from almost every quarter for being too industrial, too insipid, too neutral, but when a serious producer is involved, the result is lovely wines such as this one. There’s also noteworthy purity of flavour and real precision here. Well done. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
This winery was born in as an offshoot of the Bortolomiol family, when Guglielmo Bortolomiol (Gemin is the Veneto nickname for Guglielmo) set off on his own and created his own estate. Following in his footsteps at the helm of the winery where his daughter Paola and her husband, and now the couple’s three children are also involved: the two boys follow the vineyards and the wines, while Elisabetta follows the marketing/communications, with Paola in charge of the administrative). They make about 400,000 bottles a year: their top wines are the DOCG Conegliano Valdobiaddene Prosecco or Prosecco Superiore wines (they also make a DOC Prosecco, but this is made with bought grapes unlike their Prosecco Superiore wines which are estate-bottled).
Gemin 2021 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut Rive di Santo Stefano Pioniere 88
Pale straw green with a thin stream of bubbles. White peach, jasmine and vanilla, complicated by a hint of grilled hazelnuts and of balsamic herbs on the nose is also marked by a slightly lactic note that is not to my liking. Enters sweet and creamy, then turns sharp and piercing in the middle, before picking up in creaminess on the long floral and fresh citrus fruit finish. Only 5000 bottles/year made. 100% Glera. Drinking window:
Gemin NV Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut 90
Pale straw-green with a thin stream of bubbles. Honey, pear and white flowers on the nose and in the mouth. Clean fresh and tasty on the slightly saline finish. Very nice Prosecco: not the last word in complexity, and it could be a little longer on the finish, but it’s easily approachable and just as easy to like. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Gemin NV Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry 91
Crystalline straw-green. Intense aromas of white peach and lemon verbena, complicated by jasmine and pear. Lovely, long clean very fresh and long on the lively, slightly creamy finish. This is delicious and the umpteenth demonstration of how many of the best Prosecco wines of all are actually found in the Extra Dry category (clearly, I’m referring to the well-made wines, not those in which they pile on the sugar). This is lovely. Drinking window: 2023-2024.
Kurtatsch 2019 Gewürztraminer Riserva Brenntal Alto Adige 94
Outstanding wine, a clear-cut demonstration of just how good Gewurztraminer can be in Alto Adige. Bright yellow-gold. Intense aromas of honey, lemon pepper, cinnamon, papaya and orange nectar, with hints of rose and grapefruit. Then rich, luscious and layered, with noteworthy concentration to its spicy orchard and tropical fruit flavours enlivened by spices and floral nuances. Beautiful wine that is at once fleshy yet refined. Very, very well done. Try it with all the spicy dishes of ethnic cuisines you can think of, but simple sweet and sour pork will work very well too. Drinking window: 2023-2029.
Tommasi 2021 Valpolicella Classico Superiore 91
Bright ruby-red. Clean fresh violet and blueberry aromas and flavours are thick and suave, but lively. Long, fresh and lifted on the finish, but with good fruit concentration typical of a Valpolicella Superiore. Drinking window: 2023-2028.
Tommasi 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 93
Deep ruby-red. Rich aromas of ripe plum, blueberry nectar, faded violet, dark chocolate and herbs. Then rich and round, with sweet, ripe fleshy flavours of dark fruit and herbs. Long and suave on the layered finish. I like this Amarone’s easy drinking personality. Drinking window:
Bocale 2019 Montefalco Rosso 93
Bright deep red. Red cherry, licorice, violet and minerals on the nose. Sweet and pliant with pure flavours of red fruits, strawberry jelly, tobacco leaf and herbs. Very well-balanced, with a very silky texture and restrained sweetness, this is nicely approachable and drinks well relatively early. The potential of the Montefalco Rosso category has long been overlooked in Montefalco in favour of the more “important” Sagrantino, but there’s immense potential here for the wine and the area: Bocale is one estate doing right by this wine. Drinking window: 2023-2027.
Bocale 2017 Montefalco Sagrantino 94+
Deep red-ruby. Aromas of black cherry, blueberry, licorice, dried flowers and herbs are remarkably elegant and pure for a Sagrantino wine: in its elegant austerity, this is not unlike a great old Bordeaux red. Sweet and smooth on entry, then crammed with energetic fruit in the middle, with flavours similar to the aromas. Closes broad and suave, featuring a strong mineral edge and smooth tannins. Beautiful wine. Drinking window: 2024-2030.
Bocale 2017 Montefalco Sagrantino Ennio 94+
Good deep ruby-red. Spicy aromas of blueberry, licorice and mocha, with hints of vanilla and sandalwood. Sweet, lush and deep but suave, with lovely lift to the violet, licorice and sweet spice flavours. Ripe but structured and long on the decadent, air-dried aftertaste. This boasts plenty of structure and fat but will benefit from at least a few years to expand. It provides wine lovers with a different style of Sagrantino wine, made from overripe, late harvested grapes: each one of Bocale’s two Sagrantino wines will have its fans. Drinking window: 2025-2030.
Conti di Buscareto.
Conti di Buscareto 2017 Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Buscareto 91
Bright dark red. Varietally accurate aromas and flavours of red fruit, spices and herbs. Bone dry in the mouth, with lip-smacking acidity leaving the mouth feeling clean and fresh on the long finish. This is a lovely Lacrima wine. Drinking window: 2023-2025.
Conti di Buscareto 2016 Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore Compagnia 92
Luminous deep red. The captivating nose offers nuances of strawberry, red cherry, mocha, minty herbs, violet and orange peel. Then rich and deep, with fleshy red and blue fruit flavours on entry, then more austere and vibrant thanks to noteworthy but harmonious acidity. Finishes long and rich, but classically bone dry. This is actually a really good Lacrima wine, well done! Drinking window: 2023-2027.
Zaccagnini 2022 Pecorino Chronicon Abruzzo 92
Bright pale straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of green figs, sage, rosemary and lime are very varietally accurate. Closes long fresh and suave, with a glyceral Pecorino-typical mouthfeel. Lovely balance. Think of this as a bigger-bodied, creamier Sauvignon Blanc wine but still plenty fresh. This is really very good, well done! Drinking window: 2023-2027.
Zaccagnini 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo San Clemente Terre di Casauria 92+
Deep ruby-purple. Aromas and flavours of dark cherry, plum, tar, licorice, forest floor and oaky spices. Then big and brooding in the mouth, with noteworthy tannic heft that will require years to melt away and allow the dark fruit and herb flavours to emerge fully. Finishes thick and muscular with good length. Needs food right now to be fully enjoyable, but should develop well. Drinking window: 2027-2033.
Tinpot Hut 2020 Pinot Noir Marlborough 90
Ruby. Earthy, herbal aromas and flavours of dark berries, cherry and forest floor, with a graphite element. Clean and savory on the nicely lifted finish. Not the last word in complexity or concentration, but nicely balanced and lively. The roughly 30 years old sustainably farmed vines are planted at a whopping 800 meters asl on clay, gravel and loess soils. Fermented and aged partly in oak barrels and partly stainless steel. Drinking window: 2024-2028.
Quinta do Noval.
Quinta do Noval 2005 Colheita Tawny Port 95
This is a knockout. Pale red with an amber tinge at the rim. Intense, pure aromas and flavours of red cherry, macerated figs in alcohol, almond paste, grilled hazelnuts and violet. Luscious yet lifted, with an extremely nuanced yet powerful finish, this lasts and lasts. Drinking window: 2023-2055.