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)

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)

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/

Happy New Year 2023 From the Fine Wine Safari…

Happy New Year from the Fine Wine Safari. May your 2023 year be filled with fine food, fine wine and enduring wine sharing friendships. To all my readers out there, I thank you for your ongoing support and will endeavour to bring you many more “hot off the press” wine reviews and new “star wine finds” in the year ahead.

Looking forward to new exciting wine horizons in 2023!

As the fine wine marketplace consolidates ever more with an increasing number of customers and merchants chasing an ever-smaller concentric group of allocated wines, I feel stronger than ever that it’s part of my job to try and discover and raise the new fine wine stars out of industry obscurity, highlighting their incredible wines and telling their unique heart-warming stories so that wine drinkers can fill their cellars with as many diverse fine wines from around the world as possible.

Of course, South African fine wines will continue to occupy many column inches on my website as I truly believe, more so than ever, that the country and its dynamic winemakers offer some of the most enticing and exciting wines being produced anywhere in the world and are, for the time being, still available at a fraction of what they are really worth.

So let’s all raise a glass to the exciting wine journey we will travel in 2023.

All the best

Greg

Tasting and Reviewing the Sensational New Release Oddero Piedmont 2019 Reds in a UK Exclusive Tasting…

Poderi e Cantine Oddero was established in the late 18th century by the Oddero family, who have lived in La Morra since the first half of that century. In the 1890s, Giovanni Battista Oddero began vinifying grapes, which lead to the winery’s establishment. Later, his sons, Lorenzo and Luigi followed in his footsteps. It was the first Giacomo Oddero, who started selling wine in bottles. However, it was the second Giacomo Oddero, who renovated the ancient farm and began elevating the quality and prestige of the region’s wine. Today, his legacy lives on through his daughter, Mariacristina, and his grandchildren, Isabella and Pietro, who represent the seventh generation of vinicultural tradition.

Early reports of the 2019 Piedmont vintage described it as a classic year. A cold wet spring slowed vine growth and the persistent rain made rot and disease a threat. However, despite the added risks, the rains gave the soils the much-needed water to survive the warm summer months. June then delivered a fantastic summer with the hot, dry days lasting through to August when a hailstorm broke loose. Good conditions swiftly picked up again and idyllic weather continued into September. Many of the grapes, particularly Nebbiolo, benefitted from the warm days and juxtaposing cool evenings.

Oddero is one of a handful of producers in Barolo who own tracts of the famous and highly sought after Cru Vigna Rionda.

However, a significant thunderstorm, as a final threat to the growing season, struck in early September followed by a nasty hailstorm which, depending on the vineyard, cut yields significantly particularly in Barbaresco. Good conditions allowed the harvest to begin early in September and picking began for both white grape varieties and early-ripening red varieties in the first week, while later-ripening varieties were picked towards the end of the month and into October. The resulting wines reached good phenolic ripeness forecasting good things to come with wines likely to have good fruit character, impressive structure and balancing acidity.

ODDERO LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2020

A taut, fairly reserved aromatics leading with earthy aniseed root, earthy red cherry, tilled earth, chalk dust and red apple skins. Palate is sleek and structured, tight yet generous with hints of tarragon spice, red peppercorns, red cherry and tangy bitter blood orange peel on the finish. A serious effort, with a stern frame, soft but fresh acids and a long harmonious finish.

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

ODDERO BARBARESCO CRU GALLINA 2020

Wonderfully elegant and perfumed styling to this pretty Cru Gallina that shows rose petals, potpourri, red cherry and raspberry herbal tea. The palate shows incredible focus and precision, pristine purity and a fine grained texture bursting with red cherry, cranberry and tart red currant. Fabulously polished marble tannins frame this beautifully harmonious Barbaresco. Very impressive.

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

ODDERO BAROLO 2018

A blend of Crus including among others Bricco del Fiasco, Villero, Capelot, Rocca di Castiglione, Monvigleiro, Bussia, etc. This wine is lovely and expressive, exotic and complex with deep, rich, sweet red and black cherry notes, kirsch liquor, blood orange, vermouth, subtle reductive saline cassis notes and hints of tar and black liquorice. The palate is beautifully polished, silky yet potent, with creamy powdery tannins, an opulently plump mid-palette and multiple textural layers of red strawberry and black cherry, kirsch and aniseed spice under a veil of smoky minerality. The pedigree of a top producer shines in this pure fruited benchmark estate blend. Bravo!

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

Pietro Oddero describing the 2019 vintage at an exclusive UK pre-release tasting.

The New 2019 Releases

ODDERO BAROLO 2019

Another cracking vintage delivers impressive depth and complexity on the nose and palate. The aromatics are expressive and perfumed with rich layers of pressed rose petals, red and black cherry, saline reductive black currant leaf, salty liquorice and subtle caramelised strawberry hints. The palate shows an impressive harmony and an opulent fleshy mouth-filling depth of fruit while retaining sufficient muscle, structure and shape. Vibrant and mouth-wateringly juicy, this is truly an unmissable Barolo normale that will thrill serious Nebbiolo lovers. Drink from 2024 and over the next 10 to 15+ years.

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BRUNATE 2018

A pretty wine with a certain amount of lift and overt perfume already. But still tightly knit and taut aromatics with hints of glacé cherry, red plum, aniseed and vermouth macerated oranges. The palate has purity and precision yet lacks nothing in the power department. Wonderfully sleek, mineral and spicy, you feel the power, the assertiveness and most definitely the precision of polished tight grained tannins. I’m always a fan of top Cru Brunate and this beauty definitely impresses again. Most certainly youthful but undoubtedly there’s a super seductive essence to this wine. I’m totally sold!

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BRUNATE 2019

Always an impressive Cru in great vintages, this is a rich, perfumed potent Brunate with aromatics of red cherry, dried herbs, tea leaf and a complex spearmint and cinamon lift. The palate shows a generous volume of red and black berry fruits, a plush fleshy mid-palate depth and delicious stony mineral layers that melt seamlessly into a juicy red cherry and spicy, earthy cranberry length. Pin point Barolo perfection. Simply superb!

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU ROCCHE DI CASTIGLIONE 2019

A lovely individual expression of Nebbiolo that reveals rich earthy, savoury red and black bramble berry fruits, sun dried cherry, aniseed stick and dried fennel seeds. The palate is broad and muscular with a fine grained mouth coating mineral tannin, spicy sweet baking herbs and a broody, fleshy finish with subdued berry fruits. Bury this beauty in the cellar for at least 5 to 8 years and your patience will be rewarded.

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU VILLERO 2019

This shows a darker fruited expression than the Brunate but still with plenty of overt appeal, tar and roses, smokey reductive saline cassis and sweet earthy black cherry nuances. The palate boasts a generous, fleshy, fruit forward opulence with seductive showy red and black berry concentration, sweet fleshy tannins and a long, creamy, mouth-coating candied finish. Fabulous depth, plenty of fire power and undeniable class.

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BUSSIA VIGNA MONDOCA RISERVA 2015

A much bolder, riper, deeper red expression with lush, broody, opulent aromatic layers of black cherry, liquorice, caramelised red cherry, vanilla pod and a broody, exotic earthy blood orange depth. Super plump, dense, focused yet deliciously spicy, taut and linear with frame and tension. Certainly enough extract and stuffing on the palate to allow this to age for quite a few more years.

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU BUSSIA VIGNA MONDOCA 2017

Another potent, focused, powerful expression of Nebbiolo with piercing aromatics of black cherry, kirsch, melted black liquorice, polish mahogany and smoky hot tarmac. The complexity follows to the palate, showing a surprisingly silky, spicy, accessible elegance, a delicately fleshy savoury red and black berry fruit concentration, caramelised vanilla pod hints and a long, plush, finessed finish. A real beauty and an absolute triumph for the vintage! Ready to go now.

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

ODDERO BAROLO CRU VIGNA RIONDA RISERVA 2016

This is one of the most coveted Crus of Serralunga d’Alba, an exceptional place where Barolo and Nebbiolo expresses itself in a truly unique way. The 2016 shows a complex set of aromatics in the glass revealing layers of earthy truffle, savoury red fruits, smoky cured meats, bresaola, salty liquorice, tar and roses and a subtle smoky hint of reduction. There’s a savoury, earthy red fruited ethereal power veiled under extreme textural elegance, salty concentration and focused mineral length. Vigna Rionda’s mystery lies in the sum of its characteristics and is manifested perfectly in a wonderful 5 star vintage like 2016. A true wine for connoisseurs and collectors alike. Make space in your cellar!!

(Wine Safari Score: 98/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Oddero wines are available to UK trade from their exclusive importer Astrum Wines.

The Highly Sought After New Alheit Vineyards 2021 Wine Releases Tasted and Reviewed…

In September, Chris “Butch” Alheit returned to the United Kingdom to present his new 2021 vintages at his importer’s portfolio tasting. With over 120+ wines from South Africa being poured, most with their producers in attendance, I decided to write up a series of “snap-shot” tastings for drinkers and collectors to use as a quick and easily accessible reference for a whole series of new releases. I fortuitously had another opportunity only a few weeks later to retaste the entire Alheit range again with Chris in Cape Town at the Cape Wine 2022 wine show in October. So my below scores are an aggregate of the two tastings.

Chris explained that in general, his vineyards ripened around 10 days later in 2021 than the previous year, with low yields but very high quality across the board. In 2021, no Huilkrans Chenin Blanc was made as the crop from this Skurfberg “lieu dit” vineyard was simply too small. Then there was the Magnetic North catastrophy which saw the entire tank of Chenin Blanc from this famous vineyard ruined by a faulty tank gasket seal that imparted an unpleasant bitterness to the wine. As if Alheit demand and supply is not strained enough in a regular vintage, 2021 with its exceptional white wine quality will create even more severe headaches for collectors and drinkers looking for allocations of these incredible wines. But I recommend you persevere as the wines are once again truly outstanding.

Alheit Vineyards Hereafter Here 2021, WO Western Cape, 13% Abv.

Made from young vine Chenin Blanc vineyards from Upper Blaauwklippen, Polkadraai and the Swartland, the idea is that some of these grapes will eventually be channelled into Cartology in years to come as the vines age. Deliciously cool, silky and taut with green fruits, white flowers, white citrus, green apple and crunchy peach nuances. Acids are mouth-wateringly tangy and the fruits crystalline and pure with impressive clarity and balance. A clear step up in quality and intensity on the maiden 2020 release.

(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £28

Alheit Vineyards Cartology 2021, WO Western Cape, 13% Abv.

A blend of 90% Chenin Blanc and 10% Semillon from circa nine dryland bush vine parcels around the Cape with a minimum age of 35 years but with most between 40 to 80 years old. The entry shows a massive vibrant concentration of white citrus, peach and tangerine with complexing notes of wet thatch, fynbos and struck flint reduction. The palate is rich and textured, plush and fleshy, showing the true class and pedigree of the 2021 vintage. This must be among the finest Cartology releases produced to date. Do not miss it!

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £37

At Cape Wine 2022

Alheit Vineyards Fire By Night Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Swartland, 13% Abv.

Previously known as Broom Ridge, this wine has reverted back to its original name and label due to popular demand. From vineyards on the property Chris bought in the Swartland, the vines were planted between 1971 and 1985 on decomposed granitic soils. The aromatics are predictably stony, dusty and pithy with white peach, crunchy pear, green tea, fynbos and tangerine undertones. The palate shows its usual tell-tale reductive flinty hints together with an incredible liquid minerality that is supported by crystalline pure fruits and pinpoint fresh acids. Once again, a very impressive showing from this Paardeberg vineyard.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £50

Alheit Vineyards Nautical Dawn Chenin Blanc 2021, WO Helderberg, Stellenbosch, 13% Abv.

Grapes for this single vineyard wine come from a beautiful higher altitude site in the Helderberg planted in 1978 that overlooks False Bay. The soils are weathered decomposed granite that look like caster sugar in texture. True to this vineyard’s terroir, there is an incredibly pronounced rock salt salinity on the wine with an overt maritime sea breeze complexity that combines with notes of peach, pear, lime peel, tangerine and a savoury liquid minerality on the finish. Intense, complex and certainly quite profound. Wow!

(Wine Safari Score: 97+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £42

Alheit Vineyards Monument Semillon 2021, WO Franschhoek, 13% Abv. (Ex-La Colline)

The grapes from this famous La Colline vineyard were planted in 1936 and offer up complex notes of melted bee’s wax, incense, sweet baking herbs, black currant, lemon rind and tangerine. There is a generous, concentrated fleshy savoury fruit core all held in perfect equilibrium by fresh taut acids. Still showing a complexing hint of smoky reduction, this is undoubtedly a profound Semillon offering from one of the most famous vineyards in the country. Pop this in your cellar for 3 to 5 years and then drink over 8 to 10+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £68

Alheit Vineyards Hemelrand Vine Garden 2021, WO Hemel-en-Aarde, 13.5% Abv.

A blend of 36% Chardonnay, 27% Roussanne, 18% Chenin Blanc, 16% Verdelho and 3% Muscat. This field blend offers up rich earthy, peachy fruit notes with yellow orchard fruits, white flowers, citrus oil and lychee with subtle baking spice nuances. The palate is fresh and full fruited with a fruit salad melange enlivened by juicy, tangy acids and a delicately savoury, mineral finish. Plenty of intensity on display here but also a fine purity and a harmonious balance. One of the best Hemelrand Vine Garden releases to date.

(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £32

Alheit Vineyards Lost and Found Hanepoot Straw Wine 2019, WO Breedekloof, 7% Abv.

Looking at this rich, unctuous wine in the glass is akin to gazing through an ancient piece of Jurassic fossilized amber – ripe, captivating and most definitely warmly inviting. But this is no normal sweet wine and one sniff of the rich, ripe, potent aromatics reveals an enchanting bouquet of freshly boiled marmalade jam, green mango preserve, barley sugar, sweet herbs, wet straw and dried apricots. Give the dense, glycerol wine another slow swirl in a big Zalto Bordeaux bowl and it shifts gears again to offer yet more pithy orange peel nuances and seductive notes of quince jelly, pressed grapes and burnt caramel. Like some of South Africa’s other truly great sweet wines, the aromatics are so complex and seductive that you almost forget to sip the wine! Incredibly viscous and fleshy on the palate with a round glycerol opulence, there is no suggestion at any point that this wine is going to be overly sweet and clawing with its 450 g/l RS. In fact the sweetness is kept smartly in check by a searing acidity that scythes through the caramel and barley sugar laden fruit layers with samurai sword precision. The finish is gloriously mouth coating, hedonistic and persistent with just the most subtle sappy, pithy, bitter orange peel vermouth twang.

(Wine Safari Score: 98+/100 Greg Sherwood MW) RRP £75 per 37.5cl

Trade allocations available in the UK through their exclusive importer Dreyfus Ashby or retail from South African fine wine specialist Museum Wines.

The Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Rosso 2020 Proves to be Another Blockbuster Release…

The beautiful Guado al Tasso estate is located in the small but prestigious Bolgheri DOC appellation on the coast of the Upper Maremma, about one hundred kilometers southwest of Florence. This appellation has a relatively recent history as it was only established in 1994 but has since gained worldwide recognition as featuring one of the most prestigious red wines in the premium Antinori family portfolio – Tenuta Guado Al Tasso.

Il Bruciato, the second wine, was first produced in 2002 in one of the most difficult vintages ever for the famous Guado al Tasso estate. The Il Bruciato wine is now regarded as a modern interpretation of Bolgheri’s unique terroir made from carefully selected Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from all around Guado al Tasso’s vineyards.

Guado Al Tasso barrel cellar.

The 2020 vintage in Bolgheri was a rather challenging, warm vintage, especially in the summer, that was however mitigated by good rains in 2019 and some 2020 Spring showers. At neighbouring estate Ornellaia, Director of Winemaking Axel Heinz stated that… “2020 was a great example of the now-unpredictable nature of our (Bolgheri) weather. We had to deal with challenges on various fronts: a spell of high heat and periods of cooler temperatures and rain.” But fortunately the ‘in-bottle’ results from most of the top producers are indeed very impressive, reinforcing how knowledge and expertise can fine tune a challenging vintage.

Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Il Bruciato Rosso, 2020, 13.5% Abv.

In a similar vein to Bordeaux’s second wines, the top Rosso second wines from Bolgheri offer impressive depth, opulence, complexity and sensual drinking pleasure, giving the consumer a brief snapshot into the estate’s ‘first wine’ offerings even if the cepage of grapes is sometimes slightly different. Of the big name estates in coastal Tuscany, Il Bruciato has been one of my perennial favourites coming from the beautiful estate of Guado Al Tasso. The 2020 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah is yet another star performer boasting lush aromatic layers of black cherry, piquant black chocolate, smoky black currant with sweet grilled herbs, roasted caramelised almonds, stewed plums and toasty brûléed brown toast nuances. The palate is luxuriously rich and generous with dense sweet silky tannins, a compact core of black berry fruits and savoury meaty graphite hints on the leafy, sappy finish. Drink this on release and over 8 to 10+ years.

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