Another Sensational Run of Boutique Wines from Carsten Migliarina – Tasting His Impressive New Releases…

I recently caught up with winemaker Carsten Migliarina to taste through his new releases. Always working on a variety of different wines that usually includes a Grenache and a Syrah, Carsten also normally has at least one new one-off boutique experimental bottling on the go at any time. One year it may be a dry Riesling, this year it’s a fabulous Pinot Gris. Most impressively, the quality across the board is of such a high standard that when Carsten talks about tweaking a wine to improve it, it means no more than freshening up the label!

But sommelier turned winemaker Carsten also manages to consistently capture and bottle such impressive varietal purity and typicity that I can only put this down to his hidden Germanic subconscious that unrelentingly demands absolute precision without loosing any excitement, character or drinkability. Cartsten’s newest releases once again follow this characterisation and are definitely worth tracking down on release as almost 70% of his wines are exported globally.

Pinot Gris 2017 Grey Matters, WO Stellenbosch, 13.9 Abv.

50% Barrel fermented – wild, 50% Tank – wild and inoculated. Just 2,500 bottles. Cool, vibrant, super fresh style. Loaded with crystalline white peach, green apple and cream soda but with extra complex spicy pithy aromatics from 30 mins skin contact in the rolling press. There is very little tooty fruity frivolity but more mineral lemon and lime intensity and incredibly fine purity. Great balance and impressive intensity, this is a fabulous expression of this rare variety in SA!

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Chenin Blanc 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 13.1 Abv.

Just 2,500 bottles produced. Roughly 35 year old vines from a single vineyard, 100% barrel fermented with older shaven oak. Wild yeast ferment. An intense nose with lemon biscuit, vanilla pod spice and dusty yellow apples, aniseed and pineapple confit. Beautifully textured, massive concentration of apple pastille, pink musk, white peach, dusty talc minerality and exotic quince and yellow citrus depth. A classic cool style signature Migliarina wine that when you open it, it’s hard to stop until the bottle is finished. This is very special and very impressive.

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

Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2016, 13.5 Abv. WO Elgin

2,500 bottles produced. Barrel fermented, 35% new oak from France, Romania, Hungary and USA. A beautifully sleek fine Chardonnay with great breadth and depth and superb complexity. Nose is multi-dimensional with creamy vanilla pod, lemon biscuits, creme brûlée and toffee able with 14 months in oak with no malo. Expert oak interaction, beautiful acidity and chalky minerality that doesn’t seek to be bludgeoned to death with oak. This Elgin fruit screams cooler climate, minerality, subtlety with no fining and no filtration. Lovely lime cordial tension, linearity and a long, harmonious, classical finish. A supremely distinguished effort.

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

Grenache 2017, WO Wellington, 13.5 Abv.

100% Varietal Grenache, single vineyard aged 7 months in shaven oak, untoasted. Inoculated, whole berry, destemmed, cold fermented (max 13 to 20 deg) taking 3 weeks to finish fermentation. Incredibly pretty wine with fragrant raspberry, strawberry, red cherry perfume notes with an almost Cinsault-like Turkish delight, marzipan, parma violets and blood orange lift. Carsten’s mantra is not to “spoil” the wine with too much savoury sappy spice and oak, hence no whole bunch and the obsessive focus on purity, precision and perfume. The saline, cassis, oyster shell notes are incredible. A profound expression.

(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Parquet 2016 Syrah – Carignan – Grenache, 13.5 Abv.

84% Syrah, 7% Carignan, 9% Grenache. Syrah 8 to 10 weeks on skins, 2017 Grenache blended in. One barrel of Swartland Carignan 2016. Beautiful dark, alluring wine with sweet black pepper corns, savoury cured meats, black berry spice, black olive and black plum style that eventually meanders back to brightness and purity with the use of the 2017 Grenache addition. Another crystalline style, total focus and purity, with component parts beautifully pieced together. So cool, pure and fresh, with great precision that is a manifestation of Carstens own personality. Lovely wine.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Syrah 2015 WO Stellenbosch, 13 Abv.

10 weeks on the skins. 14 months in old oak, inoculated, unfined, unfiltered, destalked, destemmed, with initially whole berry cold fermentation in tank allowing malo on skins in tank. Pure Helderberg expression with delicious blackberry, iodine, coriander and lavender and subtle hints of fraise des bois. A medium bodied, classical old world European style wine with subtle restrained fruit, black berry salinity, some accessibility in young but embroidered with complex mineral pithy tannins and a fresh linear finish. Still taut, broody and tight, the finish will become naturally embellished with extra time in bottle. A great vintage and a very serious, “adults only” top shelf effort.

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

Benchmark Cool Climate Constantia – Tasting Boela Gerber’s Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White 2017…

One of the classic blends of the Constantia Valley made by one of its best Winemakers. Boela Gerber is the consummate winemaker’s winemaker… now also the current Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild.

This is always one of Boela’s pride and joy wines, the quintessential cool climate, pithy, grassy Sauvignon / Semillon blend. True to form, the nose bristles with sweet lemon grass, wet straw, salty brine and crunchy white peach nuances. An excellent white vintage in the Cape, the 2017 affords Constantia whites an impressive herbaceous depth of cut grass, dusty, herby capsicum, Cape gooseberry complexity and a bright, crunchy yellow orchard fruit length. A really fine aromatic vintage for whites and Boela delivers here once again. Drink now or cellar past 2030+

Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Young Gun Still Blazing – Tasting the Alheit Family Cartology 2017…

As most producers are getting ready to press their 2018 grapes post fermentation, I’ve been tasting the incredible offerings from Chris Alheit. Still a leading light in South Africa, look no further than Dreyfus Ashby for an allocation of Chris’s incredible Cartology white blend. A Cape legend!

Alheit Family Vineyards Cartology 2017

Big expectations as ever and this blend does not disappoint. Big, broad expansive yellow orchard fruit aromatics, subtle yellow blossom and then an overriding dusty gravel quarry minerality. The palate shows amazing depth, typical Alheit pineapple fruit pastille concentration, lemon grass and an incredible saline, grassy, herbal pithy length. Another epic effort from Butch. Drink 2019-2038+

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

The Days of Dismissing English Still Wines Are Long Gone – Tasting the Impressive Davenport Limney Horsmonden 2016 Organic White…

Now that it’s the season of wine travels, for me no departure is complete without a pit stop pre-boarding at the House of Caviar bar at Heathrow Airport. Of all the whites on the menu, whether I’m eating or not, the delicious English still wine from Will Davenport is fast becoming my absolute favourite go-to white.

A deliciously vibrant, crystalline blend of Bacchus, Faber, Huxelrebe, Ortega and Siegerrebe, it combines incredible freshness, clarity, purity and mouthwatering acidity, all delivered in a manner more familiar to premium dry mineral whites from the Loire, the Alto Adige, Germany or Switzerland.

Organically farmed fruit, the nose is beautifully floral with notes of lemon blossom, lemon grass, white citrus, dusty green pear purée and an alluring green apple pastille zest. The palate is crystalline, bright and incredibly pure, like drinking freshly melted glacial water doctored with a slice of green apple and a twist of lime. So uplifting, refreshing and easy to drink with its meagre 11.5 alcohol, this is one of the best English still whites I’ve tasted in a long time.

With summer on its way, track this classy dry wine down either directly from Davenport Vineyards in Sussex, from their distributor Vintage Roots, or else at House of Caviar at Heathrow Terminal 3. Just make sure you try it!

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Celebrating Eduardo Chadwick Winning the 2018 Decanter Man of the Year With a Superb Retrospective Tasting in London – Part 2: Vinedo Chadwick Vertical…

Another of the excellent tasting events organised to mark Eduardo Chadwick’s Decanter Man of the Year 2018 award was an exciting and rare Vinedo Chadwick retrospective vertical tasting in London attended by top journalists and the who’s who of the European fine wine trade.

The vineyard around the Chadwick family home had produced outstanding red grapes for decades and it was Eduardo Chadwick that recognised the potential of this unique terroir and persuaded his father to convert his beloved polo field into vineyards, planting Cabernet Sauvignon in 1992.

Located at 650 metres altitude at Puente Alto in the Maipo Valley, this 15 hectare vineyard is considered one of Chile’s best terroirs.

Vinedo Chadwick Vertical 1999 to 2015

Vinedo Chadwick 1999, 14 Abv.

94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Carmenere aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. Supremely old Bordeaux style, this has all the hallmarks of classical Cabernet with sweet tannery hide, tobacco, leather, sweet earthy black currant and complexing clove spice. Lush, meaty and dense, this wine shows wonderful depth, tension and classy Cabernet Sauvignon intensity.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vinedo Chadwick 2003, 14 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. Brûléed, opulent, dense wine with complex notes of polished mahogany, black plum, brûléed black berry and dark cherry kirsch liquor intensity. Super ripe, plush and fleshy, this has the opulence of a warm vintage with a gravelly, mineral edge that confounds the senses. A super block buster.

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

Vinedo Chadwick 2006, 14 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. More evolved and tertiary, the 2006 has pronounced notes of black plum, molasses, sweet chew tobacco and tar. The palate is tarry, saline and focused, but also very much in the riper flavour profile. With a slightly blocky, chunky finish, this wine is still a bit monolithic.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vinedo Chadwick 2009, 14.5 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 100% new French oak. Dark dusty Cabernet nose with chalky brûléed black berry notes, creamy cassis, lush liquorice depth and opulently hedonistic. Warmer vintage, this has great power and character, but also great harmony and balance. Intense concentration, great silky high quality tannins, lovely expression.

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

Vinedo Chadwick 2010, 14.5 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 95% new French oak. Chalky dusty gravelly nose, there are multiple aromas of sweet cassis, salty plums, black berry and a slightly rooty edge. The palate is plush, fleshy and fresh, but quite punchy and opulent finishing with a restrained, mineral, graphite, cassis leaf reserve.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vinedo Chadwick 2012, 14 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 90% new French oak. Showing more youthful, brûléed blackberry tones, this wine seems to have a more reserved Cabernet tone with chalky tannins, violets, cedary spice and a ‘lamb and mint sauce’ savoury complexity. The pitch perfect balance is definitely there with the archetypal Vina Chadwick precision. A real beauty.

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vinedo Chadwick 2014, 13.5 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 75% new French oak. Started with a difficult season with big frost damage but with the secondary growth still able to yield around 40% (5000 bottles) of a normal crop, followed by a hot summer and cool ideal Autumn. The nose is plummy, chocolatey and lush with dried herbs, sweet cassis and a really pronounced salinity. Wonderful purity, intensity and precision, this wine oozes class and breeding.

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

Vinedo Chadwick 2015, 13.5 Abv.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in 73% new French oak and 15% in Stockinger foudre. Deliciously opulent nose of sweet cassis, roasted herbs, roasted lamb fat, violet perfume and a subtle mineral, graphite edge. Ultra plush and generous on the palate, this wine has no edges but is sublimely harmonious and seamless. Superbly elegant, fine and distinguished, this screams class. Delicious.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Celebrating Eduardo Chadwick Winning the 2018 Decanter Man of the Year With a Superb Retrospective Tasting in London – Part 1: Vina Sena Vertical…

2018 will surely go down in history as the year the Chilean wine industry was finally recognised for producing some incredibly profound fine wines, and certainly nobody within their industry has done more to establish the country’s reputation than Eduardo Chadwick from Vina Errazuriz.

One of the several events planned to mark Eduardo’s Decanter Man of the Year 2018 award was an exciting and rare Vina Sena and Vinedo Chadwick retrospective vertical tasting in London attended by top journalists and the who’s who of the European fine wine trade.

Patrick McGrath MW, head of UK importer Hatch Mansfield with Eduardo Chadwick and his daughter.

To give both these incredible tastings their due respect, I will feature the tasting notes of Vina Sena and Vinedo Chadwick in separate write-ups.

Journalist Oz Clarke in attendance

“What Eduardo Chadwick is proving now with his vertical tastings of Sena is that as his wines and similar vintages of Bordeaux age, his wines are still up there, judged equal, if not superior.” ~ Steven Spurrier, October 2013

“It is a terrific red in every regard and contends with the best of the world. All the same, there is so much more to Sena than sheer quality. Put simply, it comes down to two words: provenance and pedigree.” ~ James Suckling

Vina Sena Vertical 1997 to 2015

Vina Sena 1997, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 13.5 Abv.

84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Carmenere with 16 months ageing in 43% new French oak. Sweet meat, earthy, red currant and gamey depth, with impressive flesh, texture and mouthfeel. Palate shows hints of tomato purée, sweet macerated plums and stewed winter fruit compote. Pithy strawberry crunch, dry chalky minerality and lovely long tertiary length. Great power and concentration from a warm vintage.

(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vina Sena 2000, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14 Abv.

77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 6% Carmenere with 18 months ageing in 92% new French oak. A cooler more elegant vintage showing super supple tannins, a cool creamy texture and wonderful classical vibrancy and youthfulness. Ultra polished, super fine, intense, focused wine with great purity and finesse backed by Cabernet structure and power.

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

Vina Sena 2005, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14.5 Abv.

57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 9% Carmenere, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot with 18 months ageing in 100% new French oak. Lush dense and overtly opulent, instantly obvious luxurious nose of sweet plum, creamy oak vanillins, sweet cassis and subtle liquorice stick. A really impressive expression that moves to a more profound level. Wonderful balance, fine chewy tannins, power, intensity and real muscle in wonderful tone and proportion. Wonderfully youthful.

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

Vina Sena 2009, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14.5 Abv.

54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carmenere, 16% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc with 22 months ageing in 100% new French oak. Dense, dark and broody, with a hint of polished oak, tomato leaf, saline cassis and a real piquant black berry intensity. A really youthful, plush and approachable wine, it certainly lacks no intensity and complexity. At almost 10 years old, it’s still a baby and shows great promise for the future.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Tim Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick presenting a signed copy of the history of Vina Sena to a US sommelier.

Vina Sena 2011, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14 Abv.

58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carmenere, 15% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc with 22 months ageing in 77% new French oak barrels. Another cool late season. Plush, dark opulent expression with exotic floral aromatics of chocolate orange, black berry and cherry liquor. The palate is supple, incredibly fresh, yet positively vital, showing beautifully fresh acids, fine detail, elegance, and impressive textural harmony. Pithy, black cherry and blueberry finish, this wine speaks of Sena’s very finest qualities. Lovely fine wine.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Sir Colin Hampden-White and Tim Mondavi

Vina Sena 2012, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14 Abv.

52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Carmenere, 12% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 6% Petit Verdot with 22 months ageing in 70% new French oak. A very warm vintage, this big opulent wine shows a dense, hedonistic weight and breadth. The first vintage including Malbec, the nose is spicy, lush, chocolately and full with a wonderful sappy blueberry edge. The palate is equally opulent and luxurious with the most creamy tannins, finely poised elegance and a very long, luxurious, harmonious finish. Youthful, intense, absolutely delicious!

(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vina Sena 2013, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 14 Abv.

58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carmenere, 12% Malbec, 10% Merlot 5% Petit Verdot with 22 months ageing in 75% new French oak. Taut, mineral and saline, this shows very shy, restrained aromatics. From a long cool vintage for the purist connoisseur. With crisp acids, sour cherry, tart Victoria plum, this is the classical style that is leading the way forward for Sena in the long run. Subtly with power, complexity with real focus and freshness. Wonderful restraint, beautifully self-assured style.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Vina Sena 2015, DO Valle de Aconcagua, 13.5 Abv.

57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carmenere, 12% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc with 22 months ageing in 65% new oak barrique and 12% in new Stockinger foudre. Still so youthful and primary, the 2015 is an elevated, focused, ultra expressive wine. Hedonistic showmanship combined with introverted, introspective depth. Through the exotic blueberry, cassis and black cherry aromatics, the wine reveals an elegance and power with a bridled restraint, classism, and lower alcohol elegance. A real coming of age wine, this wine truly shows the potential of the Vina Sena site. Bravo Eduardo and winemaker Francisco Baettig.

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Andrea Mullineux – The Latest Cape Winemakers Guild Superstar…

The Cape Wine Makers Guild represents innovation, benchmarking and the sharing of knowledge spanning over thirty three years of winemaking excellence. The Guild, an association of some of South Africa’s finest winemakers, has evolved into a body of 49 members who jointly represent the pinnacle of South African winemaking.

So of course, when I recently hooked up with Chris and Andrea Mullineux at their Roundstone farm, no prizes for guessing which unicorn bottle I liberated out of their cellar!!🍷

Cape Winemakers Guild Andrea Mullineux Leeu Passant Old Vine Cinsault 2015, WO Franschhoek, 13.5 Abv. 

A beautiful expression from this 91 year old vineyard in Franschhoek. Andrea affords this grand old vineyard its due respect handling the fruit in a more serious crushed berry whole bunch style instead of a whole bunch carbonique style. Broad and texturally very complex, the wine unfurls in layers of sweet cherry, Turkish delight, marzipan and sappy oak spice. Full and distinguished, this medium bodied wine is an expertly crafted, supremely elegant version of Cinsault that turns a touch more serious and tannic on the firm, focused finish. Superb poise, impressive refinement and very precise and self assured. What else would you expect from Andrea Mullineux? Give it a year or 5 in bottle and drink over 20+.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)