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)

Exploring Bordeaux Second Wines – Part 13: Chateau Seraphine L’ Innocence de Seraphine 2019 from Pomerol…

Regarded as one of the true rising stars of Pomerol and the right bank, Charlotte Krajewski, daughter of owner Martin Krajewski, has overseen winemaking at the Chateau Seraphine property since 2017 as the Technical Director and Chief Wine Maker after previously travelling and working extensively in France, Australia, USA and more latterly New Zealand in Hawkes Bay.

Their vineyards have an overall surface of 2.2 hectares but is split into two parcels of vines. At Plince they have one hectare of vines situated on a well-draining slope of sandy topsoil over clay and deep gravels and 0.4ha of this plot was replanted with Cabernet Franc in April 2017 at 8000 vines per/ha. The second block at Mazeyres is 1.2ha and is also laid out in two distinct sections. The first part consists of a raised deposit of deep gravels on 0.6ha and is planted with old Merlot vines. The second part sits on a gently sloping 0.6ha and is a patchwork of shallow sandy soils over gravels and blue clay (smectite) and was replanted with Merlot in April 2017 at 8,000 plants per/h.

The growing year started slowly but was followed by a series of heat waves, a drought and heavy rain in late September although Seraphine also enjoyed an almost endless dry summer that led to a very fine harvest. During the 2019 growing year Seraphine decided to maintain a slightly higher density canopy and so did only a light leaf-thinning in the early season on the side of the rising sun. Then in early August they also did a green harvest to adjust the crop size and to take pressure off the vines after the long warm summer.

In the winery, the harvested fruit was carefully loaded from small baskets onto a first-sorting table and then de-stemmed using their precision CUBE system followed by a berry hand-sorting table and a gentle crushing before arriving in the fermentation tanks by gravity. The average yield was approximately 35hl/ha for the older vines although not all of the fruit went into the Grand Vin, and 25hl/ha for the younger vines, which was used exclusively for the ‘second’ wine.

Chateau Seraphine L’ Innocence de Seraphine 2019, Pomerol, 14% Abv.

Surely the expectations for a premium 100% Merlot Pomerol from a top vintage like 2019 will be high and this second wine certainly does not disappoint. The aromatics are accessible, rich, broad and expressive with high toned notes of violets and lilac over hints of tilled loamy earth, wet clay, earthy black plum, burnt wood embers, bitter black chocolate, dried coconut flakes and bruleed coffee beans. The palate is equally inviting with soft, spicy, pithy layers of chocolatey black berry fruits, dusty graphite, vanilla pod, black tea, stewed cherries and exotic baking spices. The tannins are classically mineral and piquant offering structural support to the supple dark berry fruits ensuring serious drinking pleasure for true Bordeaux connoisseurs. Drink this now or cellar comfortably for another 5 to 8+ years.

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

This wine is available in the UK at £59.99pb from Museum Wines.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/product/linnocence-de-seraphine-pomerol-france-2019/

Vilafonte Excels with Another Impressive Wine of Harmony and Balance – Tasting the New Release Series C 2020…

After returning from a very successful Cape Wine 2022 wine fair, the tragedies and hardships of the Covid-19 pandemic almost seem a distant faded nightmare. But as I start tasting a fresh wave of exciting new 2020 red releases, the memories of this unprecedented time come flowing back especially when you consider that many producers in the Cape, at the time, feared that they would not be able to even pick their succulent grapes as harvest approached. But if there is one thing wine producers are well versed at coping with, it is extreme disruption and endless uncertainties.

The 2019/2020 growing season brought fair and favourable conditions with a return to a more traditional cold and wet winter. With Spring came warm, fair-weather conditions resulting in an even, two-week early bud-break. As is often the case in the Cape vineyards, windy conditions during flowering resulted in a variable berry set and looser clusters with small intense berries. Thankfully, temperatures during ripening remained modest without any heatwaves, leading to an even, measured pace of ripening and picking. By the time the national Covid-19 lockdown was announced by the national government on the 26th March 2020, Vilafonte had already processed all wines safely to barrel.

Looking back to February 2020, it seems crazy to think that my visit then to the Vilafonte winery at the time would be part of my last visit to South Africa for over two years due to the pandemic. While the overall harvest continued into March, I clearly remember watching multiple trucks offloading the freshly picked Malbec grapes in late February that were tiny pea berry sized, pitch black, perfectly healthy and faultlessly formed. Spirits were high for another exceptional, high-quality harvest.

Vilafonte Series C 2020, WO Paarl, 14.5% Abv.

The 2020 Vilafonte Series C is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 10% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 22 months in 68% new French oak barriques with the balance in older used French oak barrels. In the glass, the wine displays an intensely dark, alluring purple black colour and an expressive aromatics of violets, sweet macerated black cherries, blue berries, smoky cassis and touches of Christmas pudding, sweet cherry tobacco, melted liquorice, milk chocolate and ginger cake nuances. There are slight caramelised touches to the aromatics with hints of vanilla pod, clove oil, camphor and sweet cedar spice that melt seamlessly back into the rich, opulent black and blue fruited complexity. Full, rich and elegantly textured, the palate is laden with spicy black fruits, black cherry compote, black currant pastille and intriguing layers of cinnamon spice, salty liquorice and sun raisined blue berries. There in an impressive intensity and concentration on display yet the wine remains fine grained, harmonious and fresh, finishing with spicy, supple velvety tannins and yet more stony, pithy minerality. Delightfully ripe and sometimes erring on the side of hedonistic exoticism, the core essence of this wine is nevertheless built around balance, concentration, purity of fruit and brazen intensity without ever becoming overbearing. A wonderfully individual expression of the vintage, this delicious 2020 continues the Series C’s rock-solid consistency of premium form. Drink from 2024 and comfortably over the next 10 to 12+ years.

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

South Africa’s Iconic Cape Bordeaux Blend Brand Meerlust Estate Releases Their 2018 Rubicon…

In November 2019, winemaker Wim Truter joined Meerlust, taking over from Chris Williams to become only the third winemaker to take the reins at this historic estate. Chris had finally followed his own calling and decided to move on to the next chapter of his winemaking career to further grow his own Foundry Winery brand. So, while technically the 2018 vintage is still regarded as the fruits of Chris’s labours, Wim Truter has done a fine job overseeing not only the release of this new Rubicon blend but also the declassification of the 2019 Rubicon vintage into the Meerlust Red 2019 for the first time since 2011. Meerlust Red 2019 reviewed here… https://gregsherwoodmw.com/2021/10/17/the-resurrection-of-the-meerlust-red-blend-tasting-the-2019-vintage-release/

There are few premium brands in South Africa who produce the high quantity of quality wine that Meerlust Estate does, and so it was inevitable that the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lock-down would have a disproportionately negative effect on sales of this world-famous brand that is listed by almost every leading hotel, restaurant and bar in South Africa as well as in a never-ending list of top restaurants and 5 Star hotels around the world. As a result, consumers have had a longer run of availability with the exceptional 2017 Rubicon that was rated 96+/100 on the Fine Wine Safari. But the time has finally come for the 2017 Rubicon to pass the baton over to the highly anticipated 2018 vintage. Meerlust Rubicon is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s greatest wine ambassadors. If you have not tasted it yet, you are indeed missing out on one of the great Bordeaux blends produced in the Cape.

The higher altitude and close proximity to the sea helped cool the vineyards during the hot and dry vintage of 2018.

Meerlust Estate Rubicon 2018, WO Stellenbosch, 14.3% Abv.

2.6 g/l RS | 5.54 g/l TA | 3.63 pH

The 2018 Rubicon is a classical blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot, with every parcel of each variety fermented separately before undergoing malolactic fermentation in 300 litre barrels and large foudré. After 8 months in barrel, the components were blended and given another 10 months in barrel for harmonization before bottling. Wonderfully deep in colour, the nose is splendidly expressive showing quintessential Cabernet Sauvignon notes of pressed violets, black plum, sun raisin black currants, black salty liquorice, black chai tea, sweet cedar spice and layers of graphite and spearmint. While the aromatics are dominated by rich, dark berry fruits, the palate is classically proportioned with plenty of overt elegance and textural finesse – a great feat considering the heat and drought of the 2018 vintage. The extra bottle age before release has undoubtedly been a positive for this powerful, structured blend, helping to further round out the suave creamy tannins and harmonise the earthy black berry fruit layers, making the acids polished, glassy and fresh rather than taut and crunchy like many other 2018 reds. Unexpectedly approachable in its youth, I would have no hesitancy to cellar this super smart blend for another 10 to 15+ years.

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

Wines available to the UK trade from Maisons Marques et Domaines Ltd and should retail for circa £30pb.

Brothers Pierre and JP Winshaw Honour Their Ancestors with An Accomplished Cape Bordeaux Blend – Tasting the Charles Winshaw Cuvee from Winshaw Vineyards…

I first met brothers Pierre and John Philip (JP) Winshaw in 2018 when I was asked to co-chair the incredible Whole Bunch Tasting titled ‘The Wines That Raised Us’, just before the Cape Wine 2018 trade fair. The Winshaw brothers had pulled a number of incredibly rare old South African heritage bottles out of their grandfather, Bill Winshaw’s cellar, to present to the who’s who of the world’s wine trade. It was at this prestigious tasting that I rated my first South African wine 100 points – the Chateau Libertas 1957, now a legendary wine.

Today, the Winshaws combine traditional farming with grape growing on their Stellenbosch property Klein Welmoed, selling fruit to some of Stellenbosch’s most notable producers. But the brothers not only make their own wines under the Usana label, but they have also more recently, started making a premium range of Cape Bordeaux blends under the Winshaw Vineyards label. The line-up includes a delicious straight Malbec (which I recently rated 93/100) and two super cuvees, one based around Cabernet Sauvignon and one based around Cabernet Franc. The two red blends honour their great-grandfather Dr William Charles Winshaw, founder of Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW), and the second their grandfather Bill, another key figure in the history of the SFW.

Ahead of my departure for Cape Wine 2022, I decided to get into the spirit of things by tasting and reviewing the Charles Winshaw Cuvee, their Cabernet Sauvignon based blend.

Winshaw Vineyards ‘Charles Winshaw Cuvee’ 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 14% Abv.

A serious blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 4% Merlot, I tasted this wine over the course of three days to assess its true fine wine potential. On opening, the aromatics showed classical Stellenbosch Cabernet notes of sweet tobacco, tannery leather, black currant, black plum, chai tea and freshly tilled earth notes. The palate was full and glycerol with creamy soft sweet tannins, layers of black and blue berry fruits with the classic 2017 vintage weightless concentration. Fabulously balanced with classical poise and harmony. But on day two and day three, the wine shed some of its initial sapidity and sweet tea leaf and tobacco notes to reveal an incredible purity, depth of blue and black berry fruits and a seamlessly vibrant cherry-laden tangy intensity on the finish. I am so pleased I gave this wine the time and space to really show its blue-blooded pedigree. As the cliché goes, the first glass was delicious, but the last glass was mind blowing. Track this beauty down if you can as the R300 local price tag (£16-£18) is ridiculously cheap. Drink now and over the next 12 to 15+ years.

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

Van Biljon Wines – The Undiscovered Fine Wine Gem in the Heart of the Polkadraai Hills of Stellenbosch…

This beautiful small boutique farm is situated in the famed Polkadraai Hills region of Stellenbosch, sitting alongside famous neighbours like Reyneke Wines, Raats Family Wines and De Toren. While most of these excellent wines rose to fame for originating in Stellenbosch, more recently, as collectors and connoisseurs have started to scratch a little deeper into the finer details of the individual wards and terroirs of the region, the Polkadraai has risen to new heights of fame globally. Known for its deep fertile soils and well drained decomposed granitic soils and moderating sea breezes off the False Bay lying to the South, the terroir has formed a perfect home to the classic Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

As if the wonderful terroir wasn’t enough, the wines are made by one of the great winemakers of the Cape, Chris Keet, creator of the legendary Cordoba Crescendo 1995 Cape Bordeaux Red that lights up the Cape fine wine auction houses with big R8000+ prices (£400) when bottles occasionally come on the market for sale. Chris is a master with Bordeaux varieties and meticulously crafts an impressive Cape Bordeaux Blend using traditional winemaking techniques combined with modern technology to produce wines with intensity, concentration, balance and structure.

Tasting the Van Biljon 2017 and 2018 and the Keet First Verse 2018 Bordeaux blend with Chris Keet at the winery in March 2022.

I first became acquainted with the Van Biljon CINQ after tasting the 2013 vintage which I rated 93/100 back in October 2016. Subsequent vintages like the 2014 seemed to just get better and better, rating 94+/100 when tasted in October 2018. I sadly missed the epic 2015 vintage which sold out very quickly to an airline group I understand but was thrilled to taste the fabulous 2017 new release again when Julia Van Biljon was over in London recently. This is definitely a wine that flies under the fine wine radar but undoubtedly deserves to be far better know as it stands among the great Bordeaux Blends produced in the Western Cape winelands.

Van Biljon Wines CINQ 2017, WO Stellenbosch, 14.4% Abv.

2.3 g/l RS | 5.8 g/l TA | 3.5 pH

The 2017 CINQ is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc, 11% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 6% Petit Verdot and spent 18 months maturing in selected French oak barrels. This is a seductive and enticing Cape Bordeaux blend that utilises all five red Bordeaux varieties to great effect. On the nose there is initially a pronounced sweet cedar and sappy red fruited spiciness from the Cabernet Franc before notes of dried herbs, chai tea, black currant and dusty graphite come to the fore. The well-honed palate shows considerable elegance and harmony with a fine grained textural balance revealing layers of spicy red and black berry fruits, notes of cherry tobacco and a tart, tangy acidity on a long, weightlessly concentrated finish. Stony drying tannins lend a further air of seriousness, structure and age ability on the long sleek finish. An attractive offering that must rank among the finest releases from Chris Keet and the Van Biljon winery to date. Drink this from release or over the next 10 to 15+ years.

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

For stock availability, please contact Woodwinters UK for trade allocations.

Prime Stellenbosch Winery Waterford Estate Release An Exceptional New Value for Money Cape Bordeaux Red Blend – Tasting the Antigo Red 2019…

The Waterford Estate is probably best known for their great red blend, The Jem. But recently, Waterford have released another little Bordeaux blend to minimal fanfare despite its sexy packaging and exceptional quality in bottle. A superb Cape Bordeaux Blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec, this is a wonderful addition to the ranks of Stellenbosch’s affordable premium reds that will find a thirsty and willing clientele as the cost-of-living squeeze starts to bite. Why compromise on quality when you can buy fabulous wines like this!?

Waterford Antigo Red 2019, WO Stellenbosch, 13% Abv.

A flamboyant and extroverted wine brimming with lifted aromatics of sweet cedar, cherry tobacco, black currant, ground nutmeg and graphite spice. The palate is as bright as the aromatics are lifted with a wonderfully creamy, supple mouthfeel layered with tart black currant, brûléed coffee beans, dried herbs and pithy black cherry on the suave, sleek but densely fruited finish. Elegant and beautifully accessible but also deceptively complex and serious. An impressive and expressive red wine packed full of class. Drink now and over the next 5 to 8 years.

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

Bordeaux Opulence at Its Very Best – Tasting the De Mour Pomerol 2017 Red…

The De Mour Pomerol is a special Cuvee Bordeaux produced by the Belgian De Schepper – De Mour family and whose wines are for the most part sold in the Benelux, Scandinavia and the UK. The De Schepper family commenced a large scale investment spree in the mid to late 1990’s, bringing the various Chateaux under their ownership into the modern winemaking era, combining Bordeaux’s various sought after terroirs with high-end technology and traditional know-how to create a range of authentic artisanal wines with great opulence, finesse, modernity and personality under the watchful eye of highly respected head winemaker, Jean-Michel Garcion.

The De Schepper – De Mour Bordeaux portfolio now includes several flagship Chateaux in the Haut Medoc, Margaux and St Emilion appellations. Respected for their excellent quality and value for money, their portfolio is now a go-to source for merchants seeking out top quality, direct shipment Chateaux wines from Bordeaux.

De Mour Pomerol 2017, Bordeaux, 13.5% Abv.

This is a fabulously big, bold, opulent Pomerol with an enticing ruby / purple colour and an extravagant and extroverted aromatics of stewed black plums, cherry kirsch liquor, black currant and cherry confit with just a hint of vanilla essence, kelp and subtle top notes of bonfire smoke. The palate is fleshy, showy, rich and boldly ostentatious showing lush, creamy tannins generously supported by sweet black currant fruit intensity, salty cassis, black liquorice and an assortment of other exotic flavours straight from a Michelin Star restaurant’s dessert trolley. Full and fleshy but also finely balanced with fresh acids and spicy mineral tannins, you can drink this wine in its precocious youth to experience its full, succulent personality or age for 6 to 8+ years to experience some tertiary delights. Definitely one for the Bordeaux hedonists.

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

For more information or direct shipment prices ex-cellar, contact: Anthony Crameri – anthony_crameri@orange.fr

Exploring Bordeaux Second Wines – Part 12: Petit Cantenac St Emilion Grand Cru 2018…

Clos Cantenac is a three hectare wine property on Bordeaux’s right bank with vines planted on a combination of deep gravel, sand and clay over limestone soils. It is situated close to the pre-historic “Megalith de Pierrefitte” in the Saint Emilion wine appellation and was purchased in 2007 by Martin Krajewski, the owner of Chateau de Sours and Chateau Seraphine in Pomerol.

Both Clos Cantenac in St Emilion and Château Seraphine in Pomerol – the properties are barely 5 km away from each other – follow similar strategies in the vineyard and winery having reintroduced cover crops to the vineyards and using only sustainable products and viticultural practices in order to protect the vines and the vineyard environment. With this Petit Cantenac, you certainly get the same feel of care and precision that goes into the Clos Cantenac Grand Vin but with greater accessibility for earlier drinking.

2018 vintage will be remembered as an exceptional year in Bordeaux with a glorious summer that extended long into harvest. However, the year began with many challenges and was initially characterised by a wet winter followed by a seriously cold and damp spring with the threat of mildew from spring onwards the strongest for decades. During this period there were also localised hailstorms in May and July, but the flowering in May and June was largely successful and was followed by good weather with just enough rain in early July to sustain the vines through even the hottest spells. In conclusion 2018 was an unusual vintage with extraordinary amounts of winter rain followed by a humid early growing season and an exceptionally long, hot, dry summer, which finally produced perfect harvest conditions.

Petit Cantenac St Emilion Grand Cru 2018, 13.5% Abv.

The 2018 Petit Cantenac is a blend of 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in 40% new French oak and 60% 2nd & 3rd fill barrels for 12 months. The appearance is a classic medium dark red / black plum garnet colour with an open and attractive aromatics of scorched earth, rose petals, red bramble berries, raspberries, red cherries and hints of hedgerow spice, sweet cloves and sandalwood. As so often with second wines from Bordeaux, less is often more and for this Petit Cantenac 2018, the supple medium bodied weight and soft fleshy texture make for an incredibly delicious wine. The palate boasts creamy layers of black currant, black cherry and blue berry fruits finishing with soft sweet tannins, invigorating but harmonious acids and a long, powdery, earthy vanilla pod finish. The over riding impression one is left with is that this is an opulent right bank wine that over delivers big time, offering the savvy Bordeaux drinker a lot of bang for their buck. Drink now and over the next 4 to 6+ years. (12,000 bottles produced.)

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

Available in the UK from Museum Wines.

https://www.museumwines.co.uk/