Sam Lambson and Minimalist Wines Releases a New Single Site Elgin Syrah – Tasting the No Place Like Home Syrah 2021…

Sam Lambson is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s rising star producers and after only four vintages (2018 to 2021), has introduced another exciting single site Syrah to his growing range. The 2020 Minimalist Wines ‘Experimental’ Syrah was produced from this same Elgin vineyard but was made differently, showing a more accessible, crunchy, fresh, herbal fruity expression compared to this very fine, focused, cool fruited 2021 bottling that is greatly elevated in stature, joining Sam Lambson’s Stars In the Dark Syrah among his more premium range of wines.

The grapes all come from Niemandsrivier, a beautiful 3 hectare vineyard in Elgin that are leased from Johan and Milanie Vosloo and farmed by the Minimalist team themselves. Planted in 2006, the vineyard features three Syrah clones on a geographically complex mix of Sandstone and Shale soils and is the perfect canvas to produce fine premium Syrah wines. Vines located in the same block can react to their environment in unique ways, says Sam Lambson, and No Place Like Home is an exploration of the variation that exists within a single vineyard. Using a mix of drone technology (with a Near Infrared Camera flying 80m above the vineyard) and good, old-fashioned soil analysis, Sam and his team identified four distinct pockets across the 3 hectare parcel, then harvested and fermented them separately before marrying them together for this unique wine.

I met up with Sam in the UK in the Autumn of 2022 and was thrilled to taste this new, premium expression of Elgin Syrah. I was one of the first wine trade professionals to taste a barrel sample of his 2018 Stars in the Dark way back in late 2018 and knew from that moment that this was the beginning of a new exciting wine. When I tasted the maiden No Place Like Home 2021 Elgin Syrah with him in September 2022, I experienced a similar feeling and felt confident that this was also the beginning of something special. Track down an allocation now before the hype goes mainstream!

Minimalist Wines No Place Like Home Syrah 2021, WO Elgin, 13.5% Abv.

An alluring and instantly impressive classically styled wine aged in neutral 228 litre French oak barrels for 16 months, reveals complex aromatics of ripe black plum, boysenberry, potpourri, sweet black peppercorns with a hint of sweet grilled herbs and black berry reduction. The intensity and precision of this 2021 are notable and follow to an elegant, medium-bodied palate that coats the mouth with sumptuous, saline cassis fruit layers, sweet smoky black currant and subtle hints of kelp and oyster shell minerality. This is another delightfully vibrant expression that will seduce many Syrah obsessives, with its 20% whole bunch portion adding an extra little complexing sapidity on the long finish. Undoubtedly a wine that is going to cause a stir… but that is exactly what Sam Lambson has become famous for! Start chasing an allocation now and drink this beauty on release and over the next 6 to 10+ years.

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

Wines available in the UK from Museum Wines from February 2023. http://www.museumwines.co.uk or email sales@museumwines.co.uk to secure an allocation. Retail price is circa £32.99 inc per bottle.

The Collector Hysteria Continues Unabated As Sakkie Mouton Releases His Second Vintage of Sand Erf Vermentino 2022…

This unique white wine is sourced from a tiny patch of Vermentino vines grown on orange sandy soils in Koekenaap planted in 2017, and which are located only 15 kilometres from the cold Atlantic Ocean up the barren West Coast. The unwaveringly maritime and saline characteristics of this dry coastal terroir up the West Coast has become almost synonymous as Sakkie Mouton’s signature style and these particular Vermentino grapes are located no more than 600 metres away from his old vine Crayfish Chenin Blanc vineyard with its decomposed sandstone soils with pockets of limestone which lend great minerality and low pH’s to the finished wines.

After tasting a few tank samples with Sakkie Mouton at the Cape Wine Trade Fair in Cape Town in October 2022, it was inevitable that the excitement would build until he released his second Vermentino vintage. More importantly, after Cape Wine, I made the five hour trek up the West Coast with Sakkie after the trade fair to go and visit not only his famous Revenge of the Crayfish Chenin Blanc vineyard, but also the two long rows of Vermentino that were planted originally as an experimental grape.

The experimental Vermentino rows planted in 2017 planted on Ramsey rootstocks to help against nematodes in the soils.

The 2022 Sand Erf was harvested in two separate parcels, with the first parcel getting 12 hours on the skins before pressing, and the second parcel getting whole brunch pressed. After pressing, both parcels were blended together. After a one month fermentation, the wine was racked into one 300 litre barrel for ageing for four months with regular stirring of the lees.

Sakkie Mouton surveying his two rows of experimental Vermentino along side wider plantings of Chenin Blanc.

The wine was bottled as Wine of Origin Koekenaap, unfiltered and unfined, with just the smallest addition of sulphur. While the one parcel only saw 12 hours of skin contact, Sakkie feels this factor has had a significantly positive influence on the finished wine, helping it to portray a slightly fuller, fleshier, more textural expression in the glass.

Sakkie Mouton Family Wines Sand Erf Vermentino 2022, WO Koekenaap, 11.93% Abv.

1.4g/l RS | 6.9g/l TA | 3.4pH

This white wine is classic Wes Kus misfit Sakkie Mouton at his best. The nose is packed full of youthful cream soda and rock candy aromatics before notes of peach kernals, crunchy green pear, white blossom and lime peel emerge to spar with the ever-present layers of maritime salinity, dried kelp, nori seaweed and rock salt complexity. The extra time on the skins lends the palate just that little extra fleshy, glycerol weight and roundness in the mouth to balance the intense briney rock salt salinity. The palate remains rapier fresh and precise but just that little bit broader and more architecturally layered, revealing a delicious green apple freshness and white peach and dried herb nuances on the long, generous finish. This is a wine that speaks of a specific maritime terroir and its harsh corresponding wind-swept coastal environment. In Koekenaap, the people are as hardy as the vines, but both are equally generous and expressive when handled correctly. A beautiful follow-up release that grows in confidence like Sakkie’s very own winemaking prowess. Drink this wine on release with wild Wes Kus oysters or fresh line fish or else watch it unfurl extra layers of complexity over the coming 3 to 5+ years.

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

Life imitating art… Sakkie is a keen musician like his grandfather, who is featured on the 2022 label.

The Age of Bourgogne Aligote: Part 8 – Domaine Sylvain Cathiard et Fils Bourgogne Aligote 2020…

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard et Fils is one of the most famous red Burgundy domaines in the Cotes de Nuits and today the estate rests in the capable hands of Sébastien Cathiard, Sylvain’s son. Often described as a “thoughtful and focused winemaker” who seeks to improve the wines with each and every vintage that he’s in charge, is a philosophy that has helped make an already high collectable domaine even more so, with their profound Pinot Noirs commanding massive prices, elevating this Vosne Romanée producer to one of the perennial must-have allocations every vintage. But did you know that even this iconic winery produces an esteemed Aligoté white?

The 2020 Aligoté is normally bottled in around April along with their red wines after being vinified in stainless steel. Sourced from 2 hectares, 95% coming from Villiers Lafaye, which according to Jasper Morris MW, is mostly from vines planted in 1945 and 1948, with the remaining 5% coming from grapes in and around Nuits St Georges. Hitting the shelves at between £40 and £50 a bottle, this is certainly positioned in the premium premier league of Aligoté wine offerings. So how did it perform?

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard et Fils Bourgogne Aligote 2020, 12.5% Abv.

Quite golden yellow in colour, this is classical Aligoté on the nose with notes of freshly cut apples, citrus oil, tangerine, greengage and white flowers. The palate is full, glycerol and opulently textural with a soft fleshy acidity and a luxurious mouthfeel more reminiscent of a Bourgogne Blanc or Cotes de Beaune village white wine made from Chardonnay than Aligoté. This is undoubtedly a serious expression that is full in the mouth, displays a fine harmonious balance with plenty of apple and pear puree honied intensity on the long, persistent finish. A lovely wine but be prepared to pay an extra premium for the fabled Domaine Sylvain Cathiard name on the label. Drink now and over the next 3 to 5+ years.

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

Brookdale Estate Recaptures the Lost Art of Field Blends with their Maiden Release Sixteen Varietal White 2021 Blend…

The Brookdale Estate, situated at the foot of the lofty Du Toitskloof Pass in Paarl, is a very impressive boutique winery owned by Englishman Tim Rudd and is planted with not only 25+ year old Chenin Blanc vines but also several other special Chenin Blanc blocks that are now over 35 years old and certified under the Old Vine Project as Heritage Vines. When Tim Rudd bought the farm, most of the existing vineyards were in very poor condition necessitating their removal to make way for broad new plantings of not only Syrah but also several massive white and red field blends.

I believe the field blend plantings were initially inspired by Duncan Savage, the original consulting winemaker at Brookdale until Kiara Scott took over the winemaking, producing Brookdale’s third vintage of premium Chenin Blanc in 2019. But when I visited the estate back in 2018 to meet Tim Rudd for the first time, I was fascinated by these impressive field blend plantings which contained a broad array of varieties.

So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I sat down recently with a bottle of the maiden Brookdale Field Blend 2021 to assess this fascinating young vine wine. Having recently tasted and reviewed the excellent white field blend from Jonkershoek Valley winery Stark Conde, I looked forward to cracking this maiden release from Tim Rudd and Kiara Scott and comparing the viticultural theory with what was actually bottled.

The Sixteen Field Blend is comprised of 16 different varietals, interplanted as bush vines and essentially seeks to recapture the lost art of field blend winemaking as practiced all over Europe in the last century before the rise of mono-culture winemaking.

Brookdale Estate Sixteen White Field Blend 2021, WO Paarl, 14% Abv.

The aromatics are classical yet ever so slightly exotic all at once with a pronounced dusty granitic minerality fading into dried baking herbs, sage, jasmine, dried stable straw, desiccated coconut and acacia honey on warm buttered white toast. The palate is silky, crystalline, fresh and lithe with plenty of front palate peach, apricot, honied fruit concentration on the entry before the wine’s gravelly minerality reasserts itself again to offer a complex liquid minerality with appealing wet river pebble nuances. Such a wonderfully considered and intricate wine in its maiden release with a beautiful green apple, nectarine and stone fruit depth, harmonious glycerol waves of texture and an impressive resinous fine wine palate breadth. Drink this on release or watch it evolve in unknown directions over the next 6 to 8+ years.

The Brookdale wines are exclusively imported and distributed in the UK by South African fine wine specialist, Museum Wines. http://www.museumwines.co.uk

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

Assessing a Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Vertical Ahead of the 2023 Judgement of Wimbledon Grenache Tasting…

Sadie Family Wines are located in the Swartland region of South Africa and is without doubt one of South Africa’s most sought-after producers. But it wasn’t always like this. Before Eben Sadie settled down to carve out his career as a winemaker, he travelled and worked extensively in several major wine regions of the world, including Germany, Austria, Italy, Oregon and Burgundy. After returning to South Africa, he found employment alongside South African icon Charles Back, at The Spice Route in 1998. Sadie Family Wines, as we know it today, was founded in 1999, with the first two vintages produced at Charles Back’s Spice Route facilities.

While everything Eben puts his hand to nowadays becomes instantly collectable, his personal winemaking focus remains his signature wines, namely his white blend Palladius and his red Syrah based blend, Columella. But the fine wine world often has other designs, relentlessly craving his small production single vineyard wines made from some of South Africa’s oldest vineyards in the Cape. One of these, the Soldaat Old Vine Series, is made from ungrafted and unirrigated old bush vines that are planted at 708m altitude on decomposed granite soils on a 6-hectare site that Grenache shows such a great affinity for, and it really shows on this incredible wine. After manual harvesting, fermentation occurs spontaneously with indigenous yeasts. Maceration and fermentation is carried out in concrete tanks for 30 days and aging lasts on average 12 months in old oak barrels.

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2012

Pronounced earthy, sappy, green leaf style with notes of dried herbs, fynbos, sandalwood and leafy red currant tangy berry fruits. The acids are electric, cool and glassy. Just a measured amount of tertiary complexity developing. 92/100? (95/100 Jan 2023 Tasting)

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

Note: In the original vertical tasting, this wine seemed more evolved and savoury, but on tasting again in January 2023 from a different batch, the wine positively radiated energy and freshness, implying that the 2012 bottle initially assessed was perhaps not in top condition. Even my note on this wine in 2016 said… “you best bury a few bottles away if you have any left! (Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW) – This could potentially be a 95, 96, 97 point classic one day when it nears maturity. Yes, it’s that good!”

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2016

Lovely warming nose of strawberry jam on warm scones, crushed gravel and sweet fynbos herbal notes before bramble berry fruits with a distinct savoury, meaty finish.

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

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2017

Definite note of reduction evident with hints of wet slate, crushed chalk, black currant, oyster shell and bramble berry spice. The palate is taut and compact, sappy and intense with a creamy textural balance and a herby, brambly, savoury finish.

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

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2018

Lovely bright red fruited nose with red currant, crushed strawberry and bramble berry spice. Palate is glycerol, dense and super serious with stony tannins, graphite spice and a savoury red berry finish.

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

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2019

Offers a beautiful melange of fynbos, crushed granite, dried herbs and red currant spice. Plush, opulent and seductive, this is a very impressive wine with superb power, precision and balance.

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

Sadie Family Wines Old Vine Series Soldaat Grenache 2020

Dense, bright, pure red fruited nose with delicious creamy depth, layers of red currant, strawberry and seductive red cherry fruit together with a complexing sapidity, tobacco leaf and a stony minerality. Beautiful harmony, seamless balance, and a long, pristine finish. Wow!

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

Wines are available on strict allocation to the trade in the USA from Broadbent Selections and in the UK from FMV. Retail is circa £50 per bottle on release.

Marchesi Antinori Releases the Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri Rosso 2021 from a 5-Star Rated Vintage…

Il Bruciato was created in the year 2002 during one of the most difficult vintages at Guado al Tasso in order to present the unique terroir of Bolgheri and give it a greater visibility and recognition. The first blend to be used was that of Guado al Tasso only to see, in the years which followed, a modification of the varietal composition and the identification of a series of vineyard plots intended to be used exclusively for this wine.

Until the current DOC regulations were laid down in 1994, Sassicaia and the other top Super Tuscan wines produced were usually sold as Vino da Tavola or Toscana IGT. Today a Bolgheri Rosso like Il Bruciato from Tenuta Guado Al Tasso may be made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or a blend combining one or more of these, and / or up to 50 percent of Syrah or Sangiovese. Other red grapes such as Petit Verdot may account for up to 30 percent. Earlier DOC regulations prevented monovarietal wines from being produced as Bolgheri Rosso, and some examples such as Masseto (pure Merlot) are also still labelled as Toscana IGT.

The Tenuta Guado Al Tasso estate covers an area of 320 hectares and is planted with vines, set in a beautiful plain encircled by rolling hillsides known as the “Bolgheri Amphitheatre” due to its particular shape. The vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Vermentino. The nearby sea provides a mild climate with constant cooling breezes that mitigate the sometimes oppressive summer heat but also act to alleviate harsh winter weather, maintaining a clear sky and a high level of sunlight exposure to the vines.

The world’s weather has become increasingly wild in recent years and looks set to continue as climate change makes its influence felt more and more. Although much of the growing season for 2021 was distinctly odd the world over, much of the vintage was surprisingly good – in some places like Bolgheri, even excellent. Thanks to a winter period full of rains, it had a very regular pattern, with a well-ventilated dry summer with temperatures never above the seasonal average. The good temperature ranges that began in the second half of August favoured the aromatic finesse of the grapes. The wines of the 2021 vintage are certainly convincing with a marked acidity freshness, ripe sweet tannins and a good level of phenolic extraction. It promises to be one of the best vintages for aging potential and it is presumably for this reason that the 2021 vintage was awarded a 5-Star rating.

Bolgheri Vintage Ratings: 1983 to 2021

Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri Rosso 2021, 14% Abv.

The 2021 Il Bruciato is a highly anticipated wine release especially after the broader Bolgheri region’s 5-star vintage rating awarded recently. This new release shows an intense, vibrant ruby red colour with just the faintest hint of youthful purple on the rim. Over the years, while this wine has undoubtedly increased considerably in price, it has also moved up to an undeniably more premium nouveau of fine wine quality and collectability. Within this release, the intricate, expressive aromatics are displayed to full effect with a fabulously crisp, tart, bright crunchy red and black cherry fruited nose punctuated by supremely expensive French oak vanilla pod spices, hints of warm buttered brown toast, sweet cherry tobacco and subtle notes of red salty liquorice. On the palate there is a texture of silk, with each blended component bringing its A game: the Merlot offering up its unique Bolgheri pithy cherry intensity, the Cabernet Sauvignon providing backbone, liquorice, cassis, cedar and spice, and the Cabernet Franc filling in the cracks to form the most unified and elegant of red offerings. As with all 5-star vintages, the paramount differentiating quality factor is the unique combination of fruit intensity combined with weightless concentration, together with bright, seamless acids that create a truly breath-taking wine. For me, this release opens a new door of elevated precision and quality that Italian fine wine aficionados and collectors with an eye for value and age ability will surely find irresistible. Drink on release and comfortably over the next 10 to 12+ years.

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

Wines available retail through Museum Wines.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/shop/antinori/2021/il-bruciato-2021-ibd-pre-release-offer-for-6-bottles/

Another Classical Rendition of Stellenbosch Merlot – Tasting the Thelema Mountain Vineyards 2019 New Release…

I am on record for describing Merlot as a bit of a weed. I mean, when you compare it to even Malbec, Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc let alone the grandeur of Cabernet Sauvignon, it soon becomes apparent that this is a very difficult grape to produced high quality, premium iconic wines from. Which is why for many years I have said there were only three places in the world that should bottle single varietal Merlot: Bordeaux (specifically Pomerol and St Emilion), Tuscany (specifically Bolgheri) and California (more specifically the Napa Valley and Sonoma).

But every time I get comfortable in my mindset, a wine like this delicious Thelema Merlot comes along to challenge my perceptions. Normally a straight Thelema Merlot release will be produced only if the quality of the vintage does not merit the Reserve selection. Whether it is the use of the Clone 102 Merlot grown on Richter 99 rootstocks in Hutton and decomposed granite soils or perhaps the age of the vines, planted in 1988, this is certainly a Stellenbosch wine that often over performs. In 2019, no Merlot Reserve was produced due to severe weather fluctuations during bud break and flowering, followed by cool windy conditions which contributed to less and more uneven bunches with smaller berries and generally lower alcohol levels.

The grapes for this 2019 Merlot were gently de-stemmed, retaining as many whole berries as possible after which the fruit was transferred to its stainless-steel fermentation tank. The grapes were then inoculated with a commercial yeast which the estate feels helps the fermented wine develop a more beneficial flavour profile. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel where the wines were aged for 18 months with a 25% new French oak portion. The wines were only racked once during this period before being prepared for bottling.

Thelema Mountain Vineyards Merlot 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

2.8g/l RS | 5.4g/l TA | 3.55pH

Displaying an attractive medium deep ruby colour in the glass, the 2019 Thelema Merlot has an open and expressive aromatics with notes of bruleed coffee beans, piquant red berry fruits, red currant, red plum, dried mint leaf, sage and hints of Chinese five spice mixed with sweet cedar. There is a definite generosity of fruit on the palate with a plush, soft textured mouthfeel that boasts spicy, fleshy, chocolatey tannins, yet more red berry fruit characters and a notable balance that really shines the light on the harmonious elegance Merlot can attain. A delightful, characterful Merlot that will offer a lot of drinking pleasure to followers over the next 6 to 8+ years.

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

Getting Ready for Burgundy En-Primeur 2021 with a Fabulous Private Client Dinner Featuring the Wines of Top Talent Bruno Desaunay-Bissey…

I first discovered the incredible wines of Bruno Desaunay-Bissey in January 2021 when I was invited to review the “in-bottle” 2018 vintages with his main UK importer Wimbledon Wine Cellar. I had never heard of Bruno’s wines, never tasted them and was unable to even find anything of interest online about his wines… not on Vinous, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate or even Jasper Morris’s new Burgundy web resource. Bruno genuinely seemed to not only fly below the radar but remained one of the best kept secrets of the Cotes d’Or.

Together with his wife, Marie-Christine Bissey and his son, Bruno manages this small family domaine based in Flagey-Echezeaux that consists of 6 hectares, some of which is owned by the family, including prestigious old vine plots in Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux, with additional plots farmed on a “fermage” basis. With first vintages produced in 1975, it seems almost inconceivable that wines of this quality have managed to enter the market almost unnoticed, especially considering the current clamour and fervour of wine merchants to discover “the next big thing” in Burgundy. Over the years, some of the production was sold off to other domaines and as recently as the mid-1990’s, several of Bruno’s valuable barrels of Grands Echezeaux were being sold to illustrious names like Dominique Laurent. The Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru appellation takes the shape of a triangle with its northern point orientated towards Musigny, its eastern flank bordered by the Clos Vougeot Grand Cru and its western flank by Echezeaux Grand Cru. The Desaunay-Bissey old vine parcel, planted from 1928 onwards, is located on the point of this triangle.

Come the UK Winter, in November and December, all attention and thoughts automatically swing back to the Burgundy En-primeur tastings that will occupy the minds and palates of most Burgundy lovers in the UK for the duration of January and February. Just to get some customers back in the mood, Wimbledon Wine Cellars hosted an incredible food and wine paired dinner with 30+ private clients to taste through a cross section of Burgundy’s best kept secrets from Bruno.

The evening started with a delicious glassful of Bruno’s Bourgogne Blanc 2019 (89/100 GSMW) as an aperitif. Rich and textured with fleshy, citrus oil layers infused with minerality, combining with pithy, waxy lemon peel nuances that made this wine a perfect piquant aperitif white Burgundy before launching into the reds. The opening salvo from the first pair was incredible and really set the tone for the rest of the evening. The Nuits Saint Georges Les Belles Croix 2017 from Vieilles Vignes (94+/100 GSMW) was dark and deep with bottomless layers of blue and black berry fruits, a subtle oystershell salinity and an incredibly mouth-watering underlying acidity that energised the wine beautifully. One of the night’s favourite wines despite only being a lieu dit and not a Premier Cru.

The Nuits St Georges was followed by a vibrantly youthful 2014 Gevrey Chambertin that I had not tasted before. This rich, deep, earthy black fruited example showed an impressive depth of fruit and fine tannins wrapped around a fleshy, earthy, plummy, cured meat core of intensity. Plenty of vibrancy and youthfulness evident (93/100 GSMW). As if not to be outdone by the savoury black fruited opulence of the Gevrey Chambertin, a beautiful 2017 Chambolle Musigny from Combe d’Orveaux more than held its own alongside the Gevrey, showing impressive classical precision, focus and spicy mineral tannins as well as all the text book elegance you’d expect from a top Chambolle Musigny (94/100 GSMW).

The next flight was made up of two Vosne Romanee Premier Cru classics, Les Beaut Monts 2018 and Les Rouges 2018, both of which left a long-lasting impression on me the first time I had the privilege to taste and reflect on these wines. The Beau Monts 1er Cru remained classical and regal with fabulous power and depth of black berry fruit, intense cassis fruit concentration and subtle bramble berry and Vosne five-spice notes scattered liberally across the palate making for a very complex expression (95+/100 GSMW). The Les Rouge 2018 was another standout expression showing plenty of opulent concentration, blue and black berry fruits, purple rock candy and all the textural power and drive that you could hope for from a top Vosne Romanee producer (95/100 GSMW).

Just like a wintery November Guy Fawkes fireworks evening, there always needs to be a few big guns to end the show to reiterate the absolute pedigree of the finest red Burgundies produced. An incredible final pair including an Echezeaux Grand Cru 2018 (95+/100 GSMW) and a very regal Grands-Echezeaux 2019 (96/100 GSMW), were alluringly bold, concentrated and red fruited displaying incredible purity, power and textural promise, helping to end a most spectacular evening of food and wine in true style. Sadly, Bruno was not there to share his unique story, but the wines were as fascinating and beguiling now as they were the very first time I tasted them.

Watch out for Bruno Desaunay-Bissey’s incredible 2019 reds that have arrived in the UK and will be hitting the shelves of a few select merchants. Unfortunately, most of his prestigious wines will have sold out already on En-primeur release. But the eagle-eyed Burghound might still be able to sniff out a few rogue bottles of back vintages. Otherwise, you can beg and grovel for a small allocation of his 2021s which will be offered in the UK in the coming months. This is most definitely one producer in Burgundy to watch very closely indeed.

Contact importer Wimbledon Wine Cellar to register for a future allocation.

Maison Louis Jadot Continues to Conquer Oregon with Its Resonance Winery Project – Tasting the Decouverte Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016…

Resonance is the first winery outside of Burgundy from Maison Louis Jadot. The first vintage was 2013, and a new winery and tasting room were completed just before their 2018 vintage. The 6.07 hectare Decourverte vineyard is located in the Dundee Hills and is planted mostly to Pinot Noir with also 1.01 hectares of Chardonnay.

The Pinot Noir clones include Pommard, Dijon 777 and Coury. The new winery has a maximum production capacity of around 25,000 cases and the grapes are mostly 100% destemmed but there is some experimentation with whole bunches.

Similar to the previous two vintages, the 2016 growing season continued to push the envelope for defining the new normal in Oregon as one of the earliest on record. An unusually warm spring gave way to moderate summer conditions, which provided even growing conditions through véraison. Summer provided average conditions with fewer heat spikes than the 2014 or 2015 vintages, which led to smaller berry size and a higher concentration of flavours. Though it was an intense growing season due to the early start, the fruit produced throughout the state resulted in wonderful concentration and complexity with characteristic natural acidity. Overall, the 2016 vintage saw practically immaculate fruit with few signs of disease, pest or bird effects. Vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley were largely finished with harvest by the end of September to early-October, while wineries in other regions carried on through mid-to-late October.

Resonance Decouverte Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Dundee Hills AVA, Oregon, 13.5% Abv.

The longtime Louis Jadot winemaker Jacques Ladière came out of retirement a few years ago to oversee this project after visiting the already-established Resonance vineyard in Yamhill Carlton. Guillaume Large, who was born in Burgundy and previously worked at Jadot has since taken charge of winemaking at Resonance. With this 2016 single vineyard wine from the Dundee Hills AVA, Guillaume has fashioned a beautifully elegant Pinot Noir that offers aromatics of red currants, macerated blood oranges, sweet mulled wine Christmas spices along with earthy mushroom and savoury forest floor notes. The palate is elegant and soft textured but still tight-knit and deliciously fresh with a vibrant line of acidity supported by plush red berry fruits, cranberry preserve, wild strawberry and ripe pomegranates. A thoroughly approachable, stylish wine that will appeal to lovers of riper vintage Cotes de Beaunes expressions of Pinot Noir.

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

The wines are available to the trade in the UK from their exclusive importer Hatch Mansfield.

An Impressive Benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Released by Premium Jonkershoek Valley Estate Stark Conde…

Cabernet Sauvignon is the bedrock of the Stark Conde winery in the Jonkershoek Valley ward of Stellenbosch and at 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2019 new release also includes a small percentage of 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. This super concentrated vintage sees a pronounced intensity and flavour focus as a result of the reduced peaberry-sized crop that yielded high colour, very good phenolics and a lower-than-average alcohol level.

Stark Conde also produce two more premium Cabernet Sauvignon based blends in the Three Pines and the Oude Nektar cuvées, both of which have much higher price tags than this beautiful benchmark “estate” Cabernet blend. Quite simply, very few wine producing countries can hit this level of age-worthy, classical quality for such an incredibly affordable price. Seek it out and make some space in your cellar! (Recommended retail price at £24.99 per bottle in the UK)

Stark Conde Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, WO Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch, 13.5% Abv.

This 2019 is certainly deep, dark and opaque with a broody blackberry and black plum core from 18- to 30-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. On the nose, the wine really impresses with alluring aromatics of violets, raspberry herbal tea, sweet tannery leather, freshly tilled earth and mocha spice before opulent notes of earthy blackberry, blueberry and graphite. With such incredible power and intensity of fruit on display here, the subtle cedar wood and black chai tea spice nuances are absorbed by the black fruit and mineral depth. Despite the vintage’s slightly lower-than-average alcohol level, the palate is wonderfully plush and dense with a classically fresh sweet and sour vein of crème de cassis, black cherry and leafy mulberry over sweet expansive fleshy tannins. When the perfect terroir meets the perfect variety and the finest winemaking know-how is utilised to capture that in a bottle, this is what you get – mesmerising quality at such an affordable price. Drink this classically configured Cabernet powerhouse over the next 10 to 15+ years. What an absolute steal… only possible from South Africa!

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

Available in the UK from their exclusive importer, the South African Fine Wine Specialist, Museum Wines.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/shop/stark-conde/2019/cabernet-sauvignon-7/