White


Showing 193–204 of 207 results

  • Prager Gruner Veltliner Hinter der Burg Federspiel 2018

    £28.99

    “From gravelly soils brought by the Danube, the 2018 Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Ried Hinter der Burg is incredibly pure, bright and fresh on the white-fruit and flinty nose. From vines planted in 1961, this is a rich and intense yet pure, vibrantly fresh and mineral Grüner that is outstanding for this vintage. Bodenstein’s 2018 combines finesse and crystallinity with elegance, intensity and power on the finish. All this at 12.5% alcohol. Highly recommend. Tasted at the domain in September 2019. Drink: 2019-2040. 93 points

    “The 2018 vintage is more or less like the 2015 and also the 2017 vintage,” thinks Toni Bodenstein, from Weingut Prager in Weissenkirchen, the western part of the Wachau. Bodenstein presented me a sensational series of Grüner Veltliners, against which the Rieslings were strangely without a chance, although still excellent. “We had rainfall in 2018, though not much, but always at the right time.” According to Bodenstein, photosynthesis functioned continuously until October. “There is virtually no malic acid, but the tartaric acid content of the 2018s is unusually high. Fortunately, there was no assimilation stop during the day in 2018 like [there was] in August 2015; that vintage just barely turned the corner.”

    The 2018 vintage was nevertheless quite stressful. There was little moisture in winter and flowering at the end of May and beginning of June was extremely early and finished within a few days, a good two weeks earlier than the average. Pruning the leaf wall is of course an important, albeit very costly, cultural intervention. The later it was cut, the better it was; after all, the aim was to use as little water as possible. The harvest began early and was finished by the end of October instead of mid-November as usual. “The Grüner Veltliner then had hardly any malic acid left, but 90% tartaric acid,” says Bodenstein, “yet with pH levels that were in the upper range due to the stress situations during the summer.” For Grüner Veltliner in 2018, Prager measured 3.3-3.4 pH instead of the usual 3.1. “High pH levels, however, have hardly any reduction potential, so that one has to sulfur more at higher pH values than at low ones.” The Riesling was more like 3.2 instead of 3.1 pH, and it maintained its acidity in 2018, which is about 1-1.5 grams per liter above the Veltliners.

    The processing of the grapes in 2018 was also different than usual. “It was important not to harvest at 30 degrees Celsius [86 degrees Fahrenheit], because otherwise the fermentation would have already started in the harvest boxes. We went to the vines early in the morning and stopped picking when it got too hot.” Normally, the grapes at Prager receive a maceration time of up to seven hours. “But in 2018, we preferred a whole-bunch pressing to preserve the acidity. This is reduced by about 1.5 grams per liter during maceration, which could lead to premature oxidation at high pH values. Therefore, we pressed immediately but slowly over four hours and at low pressure (maximum 0.8-0.9 bar). The shortcoming was, of course, that we had less extract. We compensated for this with longer aging on the fine lees. But we had to be careful here too because of the still-high pH levels and possible malolactic fermentation.” Bodenstein kept the Smaragd wines on the fine lees until the third week of April, which is considerably longer than usual.

    His 2018s are less characterized by exuberant fruit aromas and pure opulence than they are by depth, structure and complexity. This becomes clearer with the Veltliners, for which I initially had little use when I tasted them from a normal wine glass. Bodenstein offered me a number of alternatives. I chose the huge Zalto Burgundy glass—suddenly, I had completely new wines in the glass, which completely captivated me and had little to do with what is otherwise known from the Wachau. They could have been wines from the Côte Rôtie, so full and complex, so fine and elegant. I did not taste any better Veltliners on the Danube last year than Prager’s brilliant 2018s Wachstum Bodenstein and the two selections from the Ried Achleiten. So intoxicated, I asked for older vintages and promptly tasted a whole series of older Veltliners, which I will have to rethink from now on, at least if they come from Prager, whose Rieslings I have always found great anyway. The vertical of the Wachstum Bodenstein showed impressively how terrific this wine, whose mixture of genetics grows on top of the Achleiten in a rather cooler spot, can be in warm years such as 2018, 2015, 2011 and 2007. In this decade, the wines from vines planted in 1997 have reached a level that is rivaled only by the very best wines in the Wachau and along the Danube River.”

    Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (03/20)

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  • Quintarelli Bianco Secco 2020

    £44.99

    “The 2020 Bianco Secco is spicy and floral with lemon-tinged orchard fruits and hints of kiwi. This is soft and soothing on the palate, with citrus-tinged apples and spice motivated by zippy acid-driven excellent depth of fruit. It’s long and spicy through the finish, also a bit tropical, while pinching at the cheeks with residual tension. The 2020 Bianco Secco over delivers in every way. This is a blend of 80% Garganega, 10% Trebbiano Toscano, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Chardonnay and 2% Saorin. Drinking window: 2022-2026. 91 points”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (04/22)

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  • Racines Santa Rita Hills Cuvee Chardonnay 2018

    £49.99

    “The 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills Cuvée is bright, airy and wonderfully perfumed. Ethereal and gracious, the 2018 lifts out of the glass with striking aromatic presence to match its chiseled, mid-weight personality. This is one of the more nervy, taut Chardonnays readers will come across in 2018, and yet there is lovely breadth that emerges with a bit of time in the glass. Hints of lemon confit, white flower and marzipan linger nicely on the close. Drinking window: 2020-2026. 91 points”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (08/20)

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  • Rafael Palacios As Sortes 2020

    £49.99

    “As with the other wines, I also tasted the 2020 As Sortes next to the 2019. The vineyards and process were the same, native fermentation in 500-liter French oak barrels, where the wine matured with fine lees for eight months. But 2020 is riper than 2019 (14.4% vs 14%), and it also has a lower pH and higher acidity. Like the Louro, this feels closed, primary and a little reductive at first. It took time in the glass to open up. The vineyards here are able to cushion the effect of the vintage, and the viticulture they have been doing (organic and biodynamic) makes for concentrated wines that are also more closed early on and then need more time in bottle. The palate references a very mineral wine with a powerful mineral strike. It improved tremendously in the glass over the course of a couple of hours. 18,500 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2021. Drink: 2023-2030. 95+ points

    I tasted the 2019s and 2020s from Rafa Palacios in Valdeorras. For him, these are two very good years. 2019 had a mild and dry winter and a rainy and cold spring that delayed budding, followed by a mild summer with fewer hours of sunshine, which meant a delay in the ripening process. Harvest was more than one month later than usual, and the grapes achieved very slow ripening and full development of aromas and flavors while keeping the acidity. The harvest started in October and finished in November. It’s a beautiful, homogeneous vintage with very good wines.

    2020 saw a moderately cool and rainy winter and a dry and cold spring that resulted in 20% less bunches than in 2019. The summer was also quite dry but, fortunately, not too hot. Given the low yields, maturation was accelerated, and the harvest began at the beginning of September for Louro and from September 25th for As Sortes. Given the scarce water, the plants had to work harder deep down into the soil, which marked the wines; the silica and quartz from the sandy soils of O Bolo shaped a saline identity and the wines achieved a lot of elegance and balance. It’s a more heterogeneous vintage, and the higher-altitude vineyards behaved better. The 2020 O Soro is out of this world.

    He gave me a quick preview of the very cold 2021, a vin de garde vintage but a challenging year with a lot of rain. They are in the process of certifying their vineyards (organic and biodynamic), but they have some problems in the vineyards with neighbors who are not organic, so it will probably be faster for O Soro and Sorte Antiga.”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (259)

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  • Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2019

    £57.99

    Review to follow

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  • San Lorenzo Il San Lorenzo Bianco 2009

    £74.99

    Review to follow

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  • Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Barrancos de Pizarra 2017

    £36.99

    “The explosive nose of the 2017 Pegaso Barrancos de Pizarra is all thyme and flowers, really expressive, aromatic and redolent of the herbs found in the surroundings of the Gredos Mountains. It’s especially representative of the Mediterranean character of the year. It has powerful aromatics that keep growing in the glass, floral and spicy, with notes that are reminiscent of curry, nutmeg and Jamaica pepper. It’s very showy and intoxicating, with the tight tannins of the slate soils—they are chalky and finer grained than the slightly coarser tannins from granite. I am really impressed by this 2017, which is as good or better than the 2016. Bravo! 2,800 bottles were filled in July 2018. Drink: 2020-2025. 95+ points

    COVID-19 has meant a change in my tasting schedule, in some cases for good and in others for bad. I didn’t have the chance to taste the whole Telmo Rodríguez portfolio of wines like I had started doing last year, and I only tasted the wines from Gredos and Galicia to publish with the regional reports from those regions. But now that semi-normal activity resumed, the wines are hitting the market, and people have been receiving offers and asking about them. So, I asked him if he’d like to taste the rest of the wines. The wines from Gredos and Valdeorras are just a repetition of the notes I already published a few weeks ago and are included here for completeness, while the rest are tasted for the first time.”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (07/20)

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  • The Sadie Family Palladius 2018

    £109.75

    “The 2018 Palladius is a blend of 12 grape varieties, whole-cluster-pressed and matured in clay and concrete amphorae. Only Eben Sadie can take a gallimaufry of grape varieties and create a wine of this caliber. It has a clean, pure bouquet of wax resin, pine needles, greengage plum and light chamomile scents that gain intensity with aeration. The palate is bright and vivacious on the entry and displays a wonderful waxy texture; peach skin, hazelnut and saline notes appear toward the finish. It’s all about the umami. Chenin, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette, Palomino, Verdellho, Grenache Gris, Sémillon Blanc, Sémillon Gris, Colombard. Drinking window: 2023-2040. 94 points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • The Sadie Family Skerpioen 2019

    £69.99

    “The 2019 Skerpioen has a well-defined bouquet of pine cones, lanolin and wild fennel aromas that gains intensity with air. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, full of energy and vigor, and slightly waxy in texture. Chamomile and touches of Turkish delight appear on the finish. Stand back and watch this blossom in the glass. Chenin Blanc, Palomino. Drinking window: 2022-2038. 93 points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • The Sadie Family Skurfberg 2019

    £74.99

    “The 2019 Skurfberg, which is whole-cluster-pressed Chenin matured in old foudre, has an understated bouquet of subtle undergrowth, chalk and chai tea scents that take their time to find their groove. The palate is very well balanced with a fine degree of acidity, more neutral in style than Sadie’s other 2019s, just a touch of orange zest lighting up the finish. This Skurfberg needs 4–5 years in bottle but it will certainly be worth your patience and may merit a higher score down the line. Drinking window: 2022-2036. 95+ points

    It had been too long since I shot the breeze with Eben Sadie. Even though we couldn’t chat in his natural habitat, the vineyard, our Zoom conversation between Surrey and the Swartland was the next best thing. As expected, our conversation meandered to cover all manner of subjects, not only pertaining to South Africa. Eben Sadie is a contradiction in the sense that he is wedded to his homeland yet has a catholic taste in wine, as evidenced by rows of Burgundy and Barolo bottles lining his office. He began in typically philosophical form, looking back at his professional career.

    “I have surpassed everything I set out to do and forged a team around me with similar capabilities. You need people to follow with the same trajectory, people that buy into your vision. It’s like a painter. You need a good studio where you feel free to practice your art. Wine is the same, but there are all these people who make it possible. We’ve gone from a staff of 10 to 25, mostly on the viticultural side. We have also acquired land, so that 80% of the vineyards are completely controlled by ourselves, even if from a financial standpoint it is much less profitable. Also, we have planted different grape varieties, which is exciting, though not all are successful.”

    One intriguing exchange concerned how Sadie reassesses the modus operandi in the winery every decade. In introducing a new approach – a change in punch-downs or aging vessel, for example – he wants to pressure-test that technique under different growing seasons and/or with different people, in order to gauge if it should be a permanent feature. Since the 2019 vintage is the 20th anniversary of Sadie Family Wines, it prompted Sadie to look back. To take just one facet of winemaking, he sees the first decade as one where everything was destemmed, then a decade when whole bunch was almost mandatory. Going forward, he plans to adopt a more nuanced approach.

    “Whole cluster is such a huge debate at the moment. When you look at regional specifics, areas with very cool climates producing fruit with high acidity, low pH and often very low potassium are most suited to whole bunch. [Looking back at previous vintages] we found in the first decade that there was a level and sophistication of tannin that was better than in the second decade. It feels like a textural aspect was lost. The second finding was that the Swartland being low in acidity and high in potassium in the stems, compounded by the droughts, means that I don’t think Swartland is the best place for whole cluster. Therefore, for the Old Vine Series reds, we took the whole cluster down from 90% to 50% in 2019. We don’t do punch-downs but more like a délestage, so that is what we will do going forward.”

    We then drilled down to discuss individual wines within his Old Vine Series of releases, commencing with the reds.

    “With respect to the 2019 Soldaat, you might have noticed a vegetal aspect in the Grenache,” Sadie told me. “In late December we have started removing leaves around the bunches to remove that aspect. I like it, but I like very austere and ungiving wines. Pofadder is a pure Cinsault vineyard, one where I noticed that it crops much lower. I don’t subscribe to the view that low crops are necessarily the best, but here I think it is a good thing. The actual bunches are smaller. We used to get a lot of side bunches but they’ve not appeared in the last three years. That’s nothing that we have done.”

    Eben Sadie is a huge fan of Tinta Barocca and once he starts on the subject, you can do little to stop him.

    “The Tinta Barocca [the variety behind Trienspoor] has had the biggest leap in quality. I think it is the best grape planted in the Swartland but it’s an unknown. Even producers don’t know where to plant it. For the 2019 we had one tank completely destemmed and another half-destemmed, so it was 20% destemmed overall, though 2021 is completely destemmed. It has Piedmont-like tannins and Northern Rhône aromatics. The problem is that it has very low yields, which is why Portuguese growers did not plant it widely after the war, when they were getting paid per kilo. But it has such intensity of flavor that I have to stop my pickers from eating the grapes during harvest. The viticulture is much better in this vineyard now. Also, the aging is improved, using conical vats and one foudre to give a little more tannin.”

    Sadie is one of the rare breeds of winemakers with no qualms about admitting that he could have done better, even though personally, I construe it as a bit of serendipity.

    “The Skurfberg [pure Chenin Blanc] was maybe picked earlier than I wanted. The drought was at its peak and yields were down to 12hl/ha instead of 25-28hl/ha. We could have picked a week later, but we would have possibly killed the vines. Even picking earlier, some vines died because in some places there was just 118mm of rain, half the norm. So it has more acidity than normal, with a green line running through the wine. It’s very strict. I’ll be watching this wine out of the corner of my eye to see whether that earlier picking is something we should pursue. Mev. Kirsten is one of those wines where I talk with a pride that can border on arrogance. But there is no vineyard like it. It’s one of the most difficult soils that we farm – it gets so wet quickly and dries just as quick. We have put a lot of organic material in that vineyard over the last 10 years. From 2017 onward it has entered a completely different realm. I took a six-pack to Burgundy and poured it for some growers, and a couple said that it drinks like a Grand Cru. That’s a huge compliment. I’m so proud of the viticulture here. I would take Aubert de Villaine into that vineyard to show him.””

    Neal Martin, Vinous (04/21)

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  • Valette Macon-Villages 2017

    £25.99

    “Aromas of minty green apples and citrus oil introduce the 2017 Mâcon-Villages, a medium to full-bodied, supple and fleshy wine that’s bright and layered, concluding with a saline finish. This bottling comes from comparatively young vines and is vinified and matured in tank. The 2017 is quite easy to understand and makes a great introduction to the wines of this fascinating and idiosyncratic domaine. Drinking window: 2019-2029. 89 points

    After years of trying, it was with great interest that I at last paid a visit to Philippe Valette’s elusive 8.5-hectare Chaintré estate. The Valette family were the first to exit the local cooperative, and they rapidly won a reputation for rich, concentrated wines that were frequently celebrated in the pages of this publication. On leaving school in 1990, Philippe began to convert the domaine to organic farming, and since 1992, their wines have never been chaptalized. Influenced by a meeting with Pierre Overnoy, Valette has come to identify with the natural wine movement, and today, his wines see little or no sulfur and increasingly long élevage—indeed, the 2006 Clos de Monsieur Noly spent fully 12 years in barrel. If the estate’s wines through the late 1990s were simply powerful, textural examples of high-quality white Burgundy (notes on several will appear in the next installment of Up From the Cellar), the wines being released today belong in a category of their own. Complex and sapid, I find them fascinating, but readers should be prepared to find wines that are quite different from any of the Valettes’ neighbors. Anyone who appreciates the Jura bottlings of Jean-François Ganevat or the Thomas Pico Chablis wines is likely to love them! My experience is that they often benefit from extended aeration, and I tend to decant Valette’s wines or follow them over several days.”

    William Kelley, Wine Advocate (244)

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  • Williams Selyem Drake Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2017

    £99.99

    “The 2017 Chardonnay Drake Estate Vineyard offers scents of quince peel, green apple, cheese rind and baker’s yeast, opening to notes of dried chamomile, toast and almonds. It’s light to medium-bodied and lively in the mouth with creamy/nutty touches, tangy acidity and a long, almond-tinged finish. 352 cases produced. Drink: 2020-2026. 91 points

    California lost one of its great wine pioneers with the passing of Burt Williams in December 2019. The first commercial vintage of Williams Selyem was in 1981, and all these years later, it remains a benchmark for Pinot Noir in California. Williams influenced countless winemakers and was integral in shaping the wine landscape in California that we are fortunate to inherit today. We raise our glasses in your honor.”

    Erin Brooks, Wine Advocate (12/19)

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