Laura Lorenzo and Daterra Viticultores Creating Breath-Taking Wines in the Val do Bibei, North West Spain…

Hailing from Allariz in the province of Ourense, Laura Lorenzo enrolled in the local enology school at the tender age of 16 with definite ambition to become a winemaker. Upon graduation, she worked at the nearby Adega Cachín, and then overseas with Eben Sadie in South Africa and Achaval Ferrer in Argentina. After her various apprenticeships, Laura took over the reins at Dominio do Bibei, a dynamic, pioneering producer of fine wine in the Quiroga-Bibei subzone of Ribeira Sacra.

Laura worked there for 10 years developing an attractive style of winemaking that was fine-tuned and focused on the hillsides of the region, specifically to the terruño around the village of Manzaneda. In 2014 Laura and her partner, chef & artist partner Alvaro Dominguez, branched out on their own and formed Daterra Viticultores to cultivate the mountainside vineyards of the Bibei Valley.

Gavela da Vila is comprised of 100% old vine Palomino organically farmed at a variety of elevations, expositions, and soil types in the Val do Bibei. 90% of the grapes were destemmed, with the must seeing just a few hours of skin contact before pressing.

The wine was fermented with wild yeast in used 225 liter French oak barrels, and then raised on the lees in the same barrels for 6 months. Small amounts of sulfur were added after fermentation and at bottling. The wine was not clarified, cold stabilized or filtered.

Daterra Viticultores Gavela da Vila Palomino 2015, Manzaneda, Val do Bibei, 12.5 Abv.

A bright pale gold straw colour, there are plenty of tell tale signs of the wine’s short skin contact. The nose is rich and very expressive with complex notes of savoury pithy yellow citrus, yellow blossom, hazelnut and walnuts, dried orange peel and the most seductive saline, baked apple, aldehydic and oxidative Sherry-Manzanilla notes. The palate entry is electric and vibrant challenging the palate and provoking thought, but most certainly makes your mouth salivate with a saline briney zest, fresh zippy acids and a delicious spicy oxidative leaning yellow fruited finish laced with baked pears and vermouth spices. A really tantalising effort from an incredible new talent in Spain. Only 1,590 bottles produced. Drink now to 2026+.

(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

English Red Wines Coming of Age ~ Tasting the Superb New Release Hush Heath Manor Pinot Noir 2016 from Kent…

This historic estate dates back to 1503 with the exquisite Tudor-framed Hush Heath Manor serving as the family home of the Balfour-Lynn’s. The Manor nestles into the hill, overlooking the vineyards and estate with magnificent views across the Weald of Kent. The 160 hectares situated in an ancient oak woodland is impressive and a fitting setting for the Balfour wines.

The 2016 Pinot Noir is sourced from 16 hectares of vines planted on Wealden Clay over Tunbridge Wells Sand. Farmed environmentally friendly, the Burgundian Clones of Pinot Noir are trellised to the double guyot vertical shoot positioning system with a planting density of 3,300 vines per hectare. The 2016 harvest was hand picked between the 12th and 13th of October 2016.

Winemakers Owen Elias and Victoria Ash over saw the relatively cool fermentation’s at 26 to 28 degrees C on de-stemmed skins resulting in vibrant colour extraction and a lively fruit structure. The wine also underwent full malolactic fermentation before being aged for several months in American and French oak barrels.

Hush Heath Manor Pinot Noir 2016, Kent, English Quality Wine, 12 Abv.

An attractively vibrant crystalline ruby red colour, this wine possesses all the elegant perfumed beauty you’d expect from world class Pinot Noir. There are plenty of fragrant violets, cherry blossom and freshly plucked rose petals over scents of sappy spice, crushed red cherries, blackberries, pepper corns and resinous wood spice. Medium bodied and taughtly structured with a fine core of sweet / sour red plum fruits and vibrant, tart crunchy mouth watering acids. But unlike some cooler vintages, this wine’s palate shows ample flesh, a sweet depth of cherry and cranberry fruit and a complex array of exotic baking spices and raspberry herbal tea infusions on the long, persistent finish. Delicious to drink now already, this serious effort should show even more harmony and elegance in 1 to 2 years time.

(Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

A Photographic Record of My Year in Wine – 2017 – Part Four: October to December

So with my final instalment of my year in wine in photographs, I’d like to thank all my friends for helping to make 2017 such a rich and exciting year full of treasured experiences. Long may they continue in 2018!!

Happy New Year!

Pieter Ferreira from Graham Beck was back over in the UK to host an incredibly interesting and enjoyable food and wine matching lunch. Plenty of their premium Cuvee Clive was poured. We were joined by Gary and Cathy Jordan who are also in the process of planting and planning their own English sparkling wine.

One of the most enjoyable tastings of the year involved the highly talented Reenen Borman giving a sell out crowd an excellent masterclass on all the wines and projects he is involved with. We were joined by his successful and dynamic UK importer Preet from Edgmond Wines, who represent some top young stars.

Hot on the heels of the Reenen Borman tasting was the highly anticipated Eben Sadie Masterclass showing a packed room multiple back vintages of both Columella and Palladius. We all know Eben is not big on travelling overseas too often so it becomes all the more special when he does visit us in London. Needless to say, the tasting attracted big guns like Steven Spurrier.

Then finally, it was time to welcome all the South Africans back to London again for the SA New Wave Tasting including Ryan Mostert, Chris Alheit, Craig Wessels, Duncan Savage and Donovan Rall.

The slightly shy, soft spoken Callie Louw who makes the incredible wines of Porseleinberg in the Swartland was certainly one of the big draw cards at the New Wave Tasting. The greatness of these wines will only truly be appreciated in 20 years time.

I was so pleased Chris Williams won the Platter Guide SA White Wine of the Year 2017 with his delicious Foundry Grenache Blanc. Such a talented winemaker crafting his magic equally with whites and reds. I love all his wines.

The following evening after the SA New Wave Tasting, Handford Wines took the opportunity to host its South Africa Icon Tasting at the SA High Commission with the support of WOSA UK. Lovely having several winemakers in attendance including Adam Mason, Carl van der Merwe and of course Schalk Burger Snr… though James Handford MW might beg to differ!

Yet another lovely fine wine lunch punctuated the year this time with Neal Martin and my ex-colleague Mick O’Connell MW who flew in from Dublin specially.

One of the biggest success stories of the year has been the resurgence of Greek wines in the UK and especially the wines of Santorini. There are none better than Yiannis Valambous and his incredible Assyrtiko expressions from Vassaltis Winery!

October also saw one the most fantastic fine wine lunches at Michelin Starred Chez Bruce to toast the departure of Keith Prothero back to the Cape! Great having Neal Martin join once again and owner Bruce Poole on hand to curate a fantastic lunch menu!

Not all Saffers visiting London make South African wine! Manfred Ing is making some wonderful expressions in Chianti Classico at Querciabella and on the island of Giglio.

With Xito Olazabal passing through London for the New Douro Tasting, we were very fortunate enough to grab him to present a sell out Quinta do Vale Meao Douro Masterclass for private clients followed by a lovely dinner. Had to introduce Xito to Eben’s amazing Old Vine Series Treinspoor Tinta Barroca red.

Next up, a wonderful evening at Vintners’ Hall in November to celebrate the graduation of the new Masters of Wine including the Noble Rotter, Mark Andrews. A big congrats.

Of course, always lovely to catch up with South African MW No.3 and Chair of the Education Committee, Cathy van Zyl MW.

November saw two more significant wine trade events, the first being the superb Wines of California Napa Valley Vintners Tasting. Always fun tasting with talent like Mike Turner and the legend Oz Clarke.

The other big gathering was the International Wine and Spirits Competition Awards ceremony which saw Joe Fattorini honoured as best communicator of the year and Abrie Beeslaar and Kanonkop winning Winery of the Year and Winemaker of the Year! What an coup for SA!

With December near, there was still time to host legendary SA Winemaker Jeremy Walker for a top tasting in London.

Many fine oyster lunches were enjoyed with my good friend Anthony Crameri from St Emilion. He is officially one of the founding members of the #handfordoysterclub

But there was still time to inaugurate Car Boot Ruth Spivey into the #handfordoysterclub. She seemed suitably impressed with the honour!

Here’s hoping that in 2018 I will be able to lure Mr Zalto UK Daniel Primack to South Kensington so that he can be inaugurated into the #handfordoysterclub!

End of November also saw a rarified gathering of global wine talent to celebrate the 50th birthday of Jamie Goode at the Winemakers Club wine bar in London. Thank you to all the Winemakers who flew in for the party… Rajat Parr, Dirk Niepoort, Duncan Savage, Mick Craven, Brian and Marion Smith, Norm Hardie just to mention a few. What an epic night of fine wine.

Finally, a last throw of the dice celebrating Andrew Johnson’s birthday at the best restaurant in London and possibly the UK… the Ledbury. Farewell to Sam Lucas who has worked at the Ledbury for longer than I can remember and who takes up a top job in New York at Per Se Restaurant. You will be missed.

Oh, and thank you to Ledbury regular and Richmond neighbour Gareth Birchley for the photo! You scraped in Gazza! 😂🍷

A Photographic Record of My Year in Wine – 2017 – Part Three: July to September

After a very busy year, the Summer always seems a good time to catch ones breath and rest ones palate. Well, that is very much wishful thinking. July kicked off with a bang and the calendar was as fully packed as at any other time of the year. There seems to be no off switch anymore. All the more reason to make sure you enjoy your job, whatever it is that you do.

Part 3: July to September 2017

In July I arranged to join Neal Martin on a fun trip down to Wales to visit Ancre Hill Estates the fabulous high quality organic and biodynamic winery producing some of the best bubbles in the United Kingdom. Neal had received such a good response from his first English wine review in the Wine Advocate that it seemed a jolly good idea to go and visit!

A great picture of David Morris, son of owner and wine maker at Ancre Hill. I was thrilled when “Star & Furrow Magazine – The Journal of the Biodynamic Association” asked to use this picture for their January 2018 Edition profiling this talented young winemaker.

Always fun to catch up with Mike Ratcliffe in London, this time for a pre-release tasting of the Vilafonte Series C 2015 which rightfully made it on to my Top 10 most memorable reds from South Africa in 2017.

Thelema wines remain some of South Africa’s most iconic and it is wonderful to see Thomas Webb doing such a great job promoting them in the UK.

Summer time properly kicked off with another BBQ summer party gathering of the TW Wine Club… open to members of the wine trade (and VIP guests by invitation) who live in the Twickenham TW post code. Anne Burchett volunteered her lovely garden again and the weather obliged. Great to catch up with the whole gang including Jamie Goode, Oddbins MD Ayo Akintola, Telegraph journalist Victoria Moore and many others.

August heralded my first trip back to Tenerife since the mid 1980’s to catch a bit of sunshine and visit some of the wonderful wineries on the island, documented in my Fine Wine Safari series titled “The Tenerife Wine Odyssey”.  Great to visit one of the best, Suertes del Marques near La Orotava and be hosted by owner Jonatan Garcia Lima. Some amazing wines made on the island as confirmed by the high scores of Wine Advocate writer Luis Gutierrez’s recent Spanish Report covering the new releases from Suertes del Marques and Envinate, the islands two best producers.

Another great summer bash, this time generously hosted by David Clawson, owner of the Remedy Wine Bar. Plenty of fine wine enjoyed late into the night.

Never a dull moment when Ian Naude is around. He hosted numerous Masterclasses for us and really opened the eyes of a lot of consumers on the quality of old vine Chenin Blanc and Cinsaut coming out of South Africa.

One of the most highly anticipated Champagne tastings of the year was held in the late summer with the unveiling of the new release Krug 2004 vintage. Amazing wines tasted with Olivier Krug.

Plenty of fine wine drunk with Gary Jordan and Ian Naude on the occasion of their UK importer ABS’s new release portfolio tasting. A few cleansing ales wrapping up a fun day.

It’s not often a tasting of a Chilean producer includes a 100 point wine. Errazuriz’s Vina Chadwick cracked a 100 points last year and this year it was the turn of their Sena Bordeaux blend. Winemaker Francisco Baettig hosted us at 67 Pall Mall to sample the 2015 vintage new release as well as a vertical of several older vintage of both Sena and Vina Chadwick. Such distinguished wines.

With Wines of South Africa’s Intrepid Tasting just around the corner, it was time for the Saffers to decent upon London once again. Lovely to catch up again with Martin Meinert and Gottfried Mocke from Boekenhoutskloof.

The Intrepid Tasting was a great success despite the slight scheduling disconnect with The New Wave South Africa Tasting happening one month later. All the top journalists were there in force and the Tim Atkin MW 95+ Point table was a great draw card. Always fun to taste with Joe Wadsack, Neal Martin, Jo Wehring, Victoria Moore, Rosie Davenport etc.

In the gap between the Intrepid Tasting and the South African New Wave Tasting, there were a few moments to concentrate on “other” wines from around the world. Mark Savage MW, who has been importing Tertre Roteboeuf from St Emilion since the late 1970s, was on hand to present a fascinating vertical of wines from the current release all the way back to the late 1980s. A truly rare and fascinating occasion.

Another incredible vertical, written up on the Fine Wine Safari, was Luis Pato’s amazing Bairrada Baga vertical featuring some very rare single vineyard wines back to the mid 1980s.

The late summer was commandeered by Wines of California again starting with an amazing tasting tour of Sonoma wineries around London’s top steak houses organised by The Buyer’s Richard Siddle (above) and Peter Dean. A really innovative event and also very successful as well as enjoyable. Below, with my wing man for the day, Roger Jones.

Part of the entourage for the Sonoma Vintners Tasting was Joe Fattorini, presenter of The Wine Show, which is due to screen its second season soon.

The excellent Wines of California Tasting in Westminster allowed for a little reunion of our group that visited California in March. Above picture, myself with organiser Justin Knock MW and merchant Noel Young from Cambridge. Below, Noel Young, Amelia Singer and Peter Ranscombe.

Always lovely to have big Schalk Burger Senior visit when he is over in London, on this occasion for the Dunhill Invitational Pro/Am Golf Tournament at St Andrews … as well as several obligatory wine merchant visits with new Welbedacht vintages.

To end the third instalment of my year in wine through photographs, here’s a corker of our ex-manager Mick O’Connell MW over from Dublin to give us a preview of his super second vintage of Garnacha not Guerra 2016, which he produces in small quantities (1000 bottles) with his wife in Sardinia. 🍷

A Photographic Record of My Year in Wine – 2017 – Part Two: April to June

This is part 2 of my wonderful year in wine 2017 as seen through the lens of a camera. So many wonderful people encountered, delicious wines consumed and wonderful experiences forged into long term memories.

Part 2: April to June 2017

Many a late evening spent Chez Sherwood with this fella, David Shaw. Our friendship was truly forged through fine wine… Champagne Cristal 1985 in this instance.

After a busy session judging and tasting in South Africa, it was straight back to Europe and a week in Bordeaux to assess the 2016 En-primeur vintage. Always fun tasting with this chap – Tim Atkin MW. Funny enough, he knows a little bit about Bordeaux as well as South African wine!

Contemplation in wine… with Chateau Le Pin 2016 and a true gentleman of Bordeaux, Jacques Thienpont.

Still in Bordeaux! One of my favourite winemakers of all time, Peter Sisseck, taking us through his 2016 St Emilion Rocheyron as well as Pingus 2016! Delicious! 🍷

No trip to Bordeaux is ever complete without a tasting with the original bad boy himself, Jean-Luc Thunevin.

Lovely to see Philippe Bascule again at Chateau Margaux after I narrowly missed him in Napa Valley in March at Inglenook, where he is still consulting for 6 weeks a year.

Tasting with François Mitjavile of Tertre Roteboeuf in St Emilion. A truly passionate individual making some of the most individually great wines in St Emilion.

After tasting in Bordeaux, it was great to hook up again with these gals, Amelia Singer and Andrea Mullineux, in London for the UK Leeu Passant launch. Who says the world of wine is dominated by men!??

End of another year at the popular Remedy Wine Bar. Plenty of wonderful wine moments enjoyed there with these two, owner David Clawson (left) and regular quaffer-in-chief David Shaw.

We are very fortunate that the awesome Noble Rot Restaurant and Wine Bar is going strong. Here the whole rat pack enjoying an evening of 89/90 Chave, Jaboulet, Pegau and Beacastel! L to R. Neal Martin, Dan Keeling, Rowley Leigh, Luis Gutierrez (from the Wine Advocate) and a very generous wine collector!

Funny enough, Luis Gutierrez was on holiday in London with his family and we bumped into them all at the Remedy Wine Bar the following night! Introducing Luis to Testalonga Wish I Was a Ninja Colombard Pet Nat!

Attending the inauguration of the new Institute of Masters of Wine HQ in Battersea with a few friendly MW faces.

Lots of fun to be had when Uncle Ernie visits London. Great tasting through his delicious Ernst Loosen 2016 Rieslings.

Attending the legendary Michael Broadbent MW’s 90th Birthday at Vintners’ Hall with his son Bartholomew Broadbent and a host of wine trade celebrities. A great honour.

Always fun catching up with Craig Hawkins in London for his refreshing take on winemaking! Love his latest releases.

A real wine trade power crowd gathered to celebrate the launch of The Telegraph journalist Victoria Moore’s new book, Wine Dine Dictionary. A great piece of work.

Fellow guests Will Lyons, Anne Burchett and Anthony Rose (above) and Matt Walls, Dan Keeling and Julia Harding MW (below).

Always exciting tasting the new Barolo releases with Theresa Mascarello (below). Her wines are becoming uber collectable and near impossible to buy on release.

Wonderful privilege to taste and write up a superb Creation Pinot Noir Reserve Vertical with JC and Caroline Martin at the wonderful 67 Pall Mall. Awesome Hemel-En-Aarde Ridge wines.

Lovely to finally meet Winemaker Norm Hardie at the Wines of Canada tasting at Canada House on Trafalgar Square. Some superb cool climate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

May month means London Wine Trade Fair time. Always a privilege to taste with the legendary Steven Spurrier.

Catching up with my California Trip partners in crime at the trade fair, journalist Peter Ranscombe and master blogger, Mike Turner. Two very talented wine trade commentators.

Another of my favourite winemakers, Julien Schaal, has had a fantastically successful year being awarded his first Platter Guide 5 Stars. Great catching up with him at his importers London Portfolio Tasting.

My other California Trip partner in crime… Sir Colin Hampden – White. An amazingly talented photographer, wine judge and Whiskey Editor & connoisseur. Sharing memories together of our Raymond Winery visit in March.

A big highlight of the year sharing a long lazy lunch with Pinotage king Beyers Truter. Such a lovely chap and full of very entertaining wine trade stories. He has certainly been around the block!

June highlights wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my fabulous trip back to South Africa to celebrate my father Roy’s 80th birthday with a special bottle of Bogogno Cannubi Barolo Riserva 1937.

Posted by my old school pal Fortunato Mazzone at his amazing new restaurant, Forti’s Grill and Bar. Such a special evening with so many fab bottles of wine including this Drappier Grande Sendre 1988!

Managed to squeeze a standard 9 hour wine trade lunch in with the great Derek Kilpin of fine wine specialist importer Great Domaines. A lot of special bottles consigned to history!

I had the pleasure of Dirk Niepoort’s company several times through the year at numerous tastings and lunches, none more exciting than the Niepoort 2015 Vintage Port Launch Tasting! What a legend!

Pleasure to host Giuseppe Vajra from Piedmont for an fabulous tasting including vintages of one of my favourite Barolo crus, Bricco delle Viole. Burgundy meets Barolo!

Hans Vinding Diers was born on the Rustenberg Estate! Now days this cousin of Peter Sisseck is happily married with his first child making some truly amazing wines down in Patagonia, Argentina. I can’t wait to visit there one day!

Another great picture with two of my great wine pals, Car Boot lady Ruth Spivey and Remedy Wine Bar owner David Clawson. Smiles all round after a superb Burgundy lunch at Cabotte Restaurant.

Perfectly fitting to end my second instalment of my year in wine through pictures with two people who work tirelessly promoting South African wine, Jo Wehring and Andre Morgenthal. What a year it’s been for South African wine, especially in London with the phenomenal Old Vines Project Tasting launch at the South African High Commission being one of my vinous highlights of the year!

A Photographic Record of My Year in Wine – 2017 – Part One: January to March

Another very eventful year in wine! While 2017 may be considered a very challenging year for global politics, from my experiences, it was another very successful year in the wine trade.

Some amazing wines were tasted, beautiful wineries visited and new friendships forged over some great bottles of wine. Here is Part 1 of 4 covering the first quarter of the year.

January – March 2017

Always great catching up with my jet setting buddy Jamie Goode over a few bottles of fine wine. Wine journos don’t do “dry January” luckily!

Gaja is one of my favourite wineries, so it was great having Giovanni Gaja over in the UK for 3 months while working with his importer.

Always great to catch up with Peter-Allan Finlayson from Crystallum over a few decent bottles.

Hannes Myburgh one of the biggest characters in the SA wine trade, overseeing production of Meerlust, one of the greatest South African Icon wines, with Winemaker Chris Williams.

Wines of Germany rolled out the big guns at their annual investiture dinner at Vintners Hall. Here Hugh Johnson, Neil Beckett and Margaret Rand.

Brian Bicknell became one of my favourite NZ winemakers when I fell in love with his wines at Seresin. Now days, he produces some fab wines at his own winery Mahi in Marlborough.

Axel Heinz from Ornellaia hosted one of the most exciting tastings of the year – A deconstruction of Ornellaia 2015 and all it’s component parts.

I headed off to California in March with a star studded crew, none more so than up and coming tv / media sensation, Amelia Singer from the Wine Show.

Great catching up with Bruce Cakebread at one of many fantastic Napa lunches and tastings.

Popped my cherry finally and visited one of my favourite wineries, Silveroak in Alexander and Napa Valley. Marketing Director Vivian Gay a great old friend after all these years!

Back in London, Alvaro Palacios presenting the new vintages of L’Ermita from Priorat always a big highlight!

Before heading back to South Africa for judging, I was treated to a great tasting with Pieter Bubbles Ferreira from Graham Beck.

Top Team and top times at the Nederburg Auction pre-selection judging with Richard Kershaw MW and Kenichi Ohashi MW among others.

Lovely catching up with Duncan Savage to taste the new CWG Love Boat red and white in Stellenbosch.

A fantastic preview tasting of all the new release Mullineux wines along with the superb Leeu Passant wines at their Roundstone Farm in the Swartland.

Perfect timing means being able to Gate crash Adi Badenhorst’s Oesaf end of harvest party.

An epic memorable dinner hosted by Chris and Andrea Mullineux at Roundstone with Eben Sadie and Rosa Kruger.

Fabulous tasting of new vintages with legend Ian Naude. Exciting changes ahead for 2018 as he finally goes solo under the Naude Family Wines label.

A superb tasting and lunch at Gabrielskloof tasting the fabulous 2016 wines from John Seccombe, Donovan Rall, and Peter Allan Finlayson.

Then on to Hamilton Russell Vineyards to be greeted by Anthony and Olive Hamilton Russell bearing gifts of Beluga caviar and Bollinger Champagne for our sundowners on the cliffs above Hermanus. Lovely!

Then, one of my best tastings of a 10 day trip with young, supremely talented winemaker Emul Ross. Quality has never been this high at Hamilton Russell!

And then back to the UK in time for Bordeaux En-primeur and the 2016 vintages.

Part 2: April to June 2017 coming soon…

From Zero to Hero – The Traditional White Rioja Style That Has Taken the World by Storm…

It’s funny how the status of wines changes in the blink of an eye. I remember asking Maria-Jose Lopez de Heredia why the whites of Bodegas Lopez de Heredia had become impossible to buy within the period of only 1 to 2 years. She rolled her eyes, gave a small gasp and explained that global demand from top sommeliers, top restaurants and fine wine collectors had exploded literally overnight.

For years, she explained, the traditional oxidative white styles of Rioja were very difficult to sell. They were real marmite wines – some people loved them, some hated them. But one thing most people agreed on was their suitability and versatility with a wide variety of cuisines. However, a decision had already been taken at Lopez de Heredia to replant a large portion of their white grape vineyards with higher demand red varieties.

Murphy’s Law in action… and fast forward 7 to 8 years while the red vineyards matured and in that time, the market and demand had been transformed, with the oxidative whites of Lopez de Heredia and a few other producers like Marques de Murrieta becoming some of the most sought after wines for a new generation of wine drinkers. These are consumers who covet these rare, aged, unique oxidative whites as well as increasingly other previously unfashionable styles of wine like Sherry, Madeira, skin contact whites and amphora fermented whites.

So with quantities of white Lopez de Heredia Rioja basically halved, even entry level wines like their Vina Gravonia, aged for 10 years before release, are becoming increasingly rare. The cooler 2007 vintage and current release Gravonia, produced a superb 2007 Blanco from very old Viura vines planted on gravelly soils. The wine was fermented with natural yeasts in old oak vats and then matured in oak barrels for four years before being fined with egg whites and bottled in September 2012.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Vina Gravonia Crianza Blanco 2007, Rioja, 12.5 Abv.

The 2007 Vina Gravonia Crianza white offers up such complex, individual and unique aromatics and flavours that there is almost nothing else quite like this wine being produced in Rioja, let alone at a similar quality and price point. The nose has such depth and intensity with nuances of cold chamomile tea, old honey, sweet oak spice, bees wax and lemon citrus infusions. The honied lemon tea character slowly gives way to reveal notes of vanilla pod, mushroom soup and subtle forest floor earthiness. On the palate, there is significant textural weight and flavour concentration that corresponds so beautifully to the wines intense tertiary aromatics. The acidity is very precise, fresh and finely balanced with the most subtle savoury character. Another fantastic addition to the long historic Vina Tondonia white Rioja lineage.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)