Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Walkaround and masterclasses of Vouray, Loire Valley, France

Most interesting tasting today in London, focussed on wines from Vouvray and their iconic chenin blanc variety. Well organized by Vouvray producers and Sopexa.

Master class n. 1: Vouvray Sparkling wines

1. Couvée Privilège, Domaine du Margallau 2014
Mineral, fresh, dry, 2g dosage. Steel only, 48 months on lees, aging potential. I see this as an aperitif, it is too dry for anything else. Score 85

2. Feuilles d'Or, Domaine Herivault, biodynamic, 2012
Also mineral but rounder finish, better balance. Score 86

3. les temps d'Aimé, Dom Aubert NV
Intense nose, mod balance. Score 82

4.Chateau Gaudrelle extra brut 2014
Balances wine, mod complex, very dry, NO residual sugar. Score 86

Overall an interesting discovery of relatively lesser known sparkling wines from the Loire.

Master class n. 2: Vouvray and cheese

It was a lot of fun to try and pair the cheeses you can see in the picture, which ranged from blue to mid-aged one and were all from France except Gorgonzola. There are countless possible combinations, and in the end it is a matter of taste to pair by contrast (e.g. acidity of the wines and fat of the cheese) or concordance (e.g. sweetness of both wine and cheese).

My favorite of the above lineup was n.5, Champalou les Fondreaux 2018, a sweet wine that maintained adequate acidity, made with only natural yeasts, picked late with no added sugar, which paired with most of the cheeses on my plate! Score 86

I was personally surprised at how well the sparkling wine, contrast-paired with Gorgonzola.

The other feature which emerged this afternoon is the high degree of versatility of Vouvray chenin blanc, which allows for a wide range of possible pairings depending on vinification.

Prices for all above wines between 13 and 16 euros FOB.

Kevin sharing his wisdom

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Walk-around tasting on Ribera del Duero with Tim Atkin MW

Thank you Tim Atkin

Amazing tasting of Ribera del Duero, mostly tempranillo. 100 wines selected by Tim Atkin MW from over 500 he tasted in recent months. The level of quality was extremely high, both for celebrated (and expensive) bottles as well as for many not so expensive gems.

This is a partial list of the bottles that impressed me the most.

98% tempranillo, 2% albillo
Exceptionally intense in the nose, perfect balance and very long.
RRP 138 euro, Score 98

100% tempranillo. Intriguing violet color in the glass, intenso nose and powerful palate, slight feel of alcohol I think this wine is mature now.
RRP 240 euro, Score 92

Amazingly powerful fruit, perfect balance and impressive length. A harmonious wine.
RRP 200 euro, score 98

Four amazing wines from this producer, hard to choose, scores 97 to 99.
In my view these wines are close to perfection: all display intensity, balance, complexity and length. They are all harmonious products which are ready now but could age another few years, though I am not sure they could improve further. Here they are:
La Roza 2016, RRP 2230 euro
LLanos del Almendro 2016, RRP 115 euro
Valdegatilles 2016, RRP 116 euro
La Mala 2016, perhaps the best of all four, RRP 116

Another exceptionally balanced product.
RRP 120 euro, score 98

A velvety wine with a strong personality, it is repetitive but today here is another perfectly balanced and complex wine, long, harmonious. 
RRP 240 euro, score 98

tempranillo 95%, cabernet sauvignon 5%
The perfect wine, it's got everything, do not miss it if you can find a bottle and can afford it. Words are missing to describe the multitude of sensations and pleasure that come out of this bottle.
RRP 350, Score 100

Only one very small step lower is the Unico 2012, RRP 300 euro, score 98.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Meet the producer: Folktale, Aviary and Golden Wineries from California

Today we had a video call with Eddie Morris of Folktale Winery and Vineyards in California. In addition to their own wines, two other vineyards belong to the group: Aviary Vineyards and Golden Winery.

In the video below Eddie explains how their group operates, what are their guidelines and which features to expect in their products.

We tasted their Golden Winery chardonnay from Monterey County, 2019, a golden yellow wine with intense and complex aromas that surprises for its full body, near perfect balance and length. Gone are the days of overly rich Californian chards, Golden rediscovers the more traditional freshness of the variety. I happily paired it with a traditional Chinese "you tofu" and cabbage in the wok. Score 92.

The label needs clarification: it is Monterey-grown fruit but sometimes produced in Napa for operational reasons. As they explained to me, "the bottling location often different than the area that the grapes are grown. Our facility in Napa is about 2.5-3 hours from Monterey. Depending on the availability and need of production, wines from Napa can end up being bottled in Monterey, or Monterey wines can be bottled in Napa."

We also tasted a cabernet sauvignon reserve 2018 from Aviary, a complex abundance of red and black fruit, with tannins rounded by 14 months in oak and a medium structure that will pair well with food of character. I tried with beef chunks in the wok and slightly spicy broccoli. Score 93.

For those lucky enough to visit Folktale in California, their estate is now perfectly equipped for tasting, meals and every facility to organize events or explore the vineyards and the region at leisure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Twelve producers from Occitanie

Another tasting in London about Occitanie, the region of France that was created on 1 January 2016 from the fusion of former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. This is an administrative region, it does not change the classification of the wines.

Thank you to Isabelle Kanaan and Sébastien du Boullay of "Maison de la Région Occitanie - Sud de France" in London for organizing this event.

Besides a walk-around of dozens of wines from 12 producers, there were two most interesting masterclasses today, both led by Matthew Stubb MW.

Masterclass: Occitanie outside the box

1. Terroirs d'Occitanie, baron Ermenegaud, AOP Fugères 2020
50% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Vermentino, 10% Viognier
Scisty soil, very poor, roots have to go deep to find nutrients.
A fresh wine (from Vermentino) with floral notes. Honey suckle, jasmine, peach. A complex wine with a long finish. Score 88.

2. Les Vignerons Castelas, Vieilles Vignes, AOP Cd Rhone Sinargues 2018
40% Grenache noir, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan
Red and black fruits, spicy, peppery notes, good substance (matière!). Good balance, smooth finish. Score 89

3. Domaine de la Louvière, La Sèductrice, AOP Malepère 2019
60% merlot, 20% Cab franc, 20% malbec
Super smooth wine, merlot clearly overwhelming, probably more than 60%
Very ripe fruit, green pepper, herbaceous notes.. Score 82.

4. Les Vignerons du Brulhois, le Vin Noir, AOP Brulhois 2017
50% merlot, 30% tannat, 15% cab sauv, 5% malbec
From the northern part of the region, closer to Bordeaux. medium-strong tannins, probably from tannat. A simple simple but pleasant wine. Score 80.

5. Vignobles Vellas, Domaine Valinière "Granmarone", AOP Languedoc St Drézéry 2019
Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre
The name wants to indicate that this is done in "Amarone style", though the grapes are dried on the vine, unlike Amarone. Fermentation for four months, no wood, aged in concrete for one year. An impressive deep color, intense nose and plump, complex and long in the mouth, a touch of sweet at the end. Score 93.

6. Domaine F. Jaubert, Or du Temps, AOP Rivesaltes 2002
70% Grenache gris, 30% grenache blanc
Fortified wine, they added 96%abv to raise wine to 17%abv. Domain started using this technique in the XIII century, before fortification started in Porto, Madeira or Marsala. Dried fruit, caramel, toffel. Aged 17 years in concrete, NO WOOD. About 85g residual sugar. Score 88.

Masterclass: Local grapes and distinctive taste of Occitanie

1. Maison Sinnae, Eléments Luna, AOC Côte du Rhone Villages Laudun 2020
65% grenache blanc, 35% clairette
Citrus and peach follow a floral welcome to the nose. A delicate wine despite 14.5% abv. Waxy notes, no oak, steel only. Score 84

2. Domaine Lalaurie, marselan, IGP Pays d'Oc 2020
100% marselan
This grape is a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache. Produced in the early 1960s, it has become popular in Languedoc and more recently in China because of its resistance to mildew and small berries which result in lower yields. Aromatic wine, red and black fruits, licorice, spicy. Medium tannin. Score 84

3. Domaine Gayrard, Braucol, AOP Gaillac 2019
100% fer servadou (braucol)
Smooth, medium body and balanced wine, herbaceous notes. Lacks complexity and length. Biodynamic. Score 82

4. Les Domaines Auriol, Influences naturelles, IGP Pays d'Oc 2020
syrah 100%
Smooth, medium body, crunchy and vibrant fruit. Not a complex or long wine but pleasant nonetheless. Biodynamic. Score 82.

Before the masterclass I had tasted their Chant de l'âme 2019 a blend of syrah, carignan, mourvèdre and cinsault: a complex, round and long wine ready now. Score 92

5. Domaine Guillaman, Gos manseng, IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2020
100% gros manseng
Semi-aromatic wine, smooth and med long, not complex. Sweetness prevails with 35g of residual sugar, only 11%abv. Score 83

6. Domaine Tariquet, Dernières Grives, IGP Côtes de Gascogne 2018
100% petit manseng
beautiful deep golden yellow for this aromatic sweet wine. Yet one can easily pick a vibrant acidity that makes for a well balanced product. Honey, tropical fruits (mango?). It is a late harvest wine but without botrytis. 100g residual sugar. Score 93.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Simply Italian Great Wines (selection from Tuscany)

Sorry I forgot to shave before work today!

Most interesting tasting of Italian wines in London, smoothly and expertly organized by Jane Hunt MW of This time I chose to focus on wines from Tuscany.

The producers who came to the tasting were an excellent selection, and here below is a totally subjective choice of a few who impressed me the most.

Azienda Agricola Malenchini

Thank you Alice Brizioli for the presentation of your wines. Now certified bio (organic) according to European standards.

Chianti DOCG 2020
A solid product that still needs time to evolve. Score 88.

Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG 2019
90% sangiovese and 10% canaiolo, An excellent Chianti. Score 90

Chianti Superiore DOCG 2018. 
This one takes 5% pf pulitello grapes, another top Chianti that will be at its peak sooner than the other two. Score 90

Vin Santo (100% malvasia), Score 88

Canaiolo IGT 2020.
A fruity interpretation of this so-called "minor" grape of Tuscany, usually blended with sangiovese in Chianti. Score 88

Bruzzico 2017.
The "Supertuscan" of their range. 50% sangiovese and 50% cabernet sauvignon, aged separately for five years: cab in large barrels and sangiovese in barrique. Ready now, still good potential. Excellent body and balance, very complex and long. Score 93. RRP 25 euro

These wines caught my attention, thank you Martina Marrini for your explanations.  Organic certified since 2018.

Campidivini La Cornia, (bio) 2018
Fruity pinot noir, reminds me of some New Zealand wines, sunny and lively. Score 90.

Campidivini La Chiusa, IGT blend 2015
Round and long, an excellent price/quality ratio at 10 euro RRP. Score 94, ready now.

Grand Collection, Anno 0, IGT 2015
70% sangiovese and rest cab sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot
A smooth, round wine with great body and complex tertiary aromas. Score 92

Primum 2017 and 2016 Chianti classico DOCG.
95% sangiovese and 5% alicante, 18 months in large barrel. An imposing wine, round and compex, with great potential for further evolution. Score 92 for the 2017 which is in my opinion the better of the two.

Pasquino Primum 2015 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG.
Sangiovese 100%, 30 months in barrels and amphoras. Clay slows evolution, this wine has a purposefully rough character which conveys it imposing personality. Score 94. RRP 38 euro

A most interesting encounter with a family who moved around the world, from italy to Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore and back to Italy to make excellent wines in Tuscany. Thank you Nicolas for a great tasting. Certified bio-organic production. 

Chianti Riserva 2017 DOCG. 
Easy nose, more aggressive in the mouth. Score 88.

Il Primo 2016, Chianti Superiore 2016 DOCG.
100% sangiovese, full round smooth. Score 92

Matrio 2016 IGT Toscana malbec
The biggest surprise of the day, an Argentinian grape in Tuscany, well done. A complex wine, perfectly balanced, harmonious. Score 94.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Organic wines of New Zealand

Most interesting event hosted by New Zealand Wines, expertly and safely organized by Sarah Shepherd at 67 Pall Mall in London. 

An informative way to spend a rainy morning, about 75 bottles to be tasted and some amazing surprises.

Overall, the quality of organic wines is increasing, not just in New Zealand but worldwide, as producers master the techniques. Still, a few wines today could not hide their rough edges, this is typical of less stable organic wines, and more work is to be done.

Compared to previous NZ tasting I noticed a marked improvement of their chardonnays. Sauvignon blancs remain the workhorse of NZ production and confirmed their world class quality also among this organic selection. 

Some exceptional gems stood out among the pinot noirs. Not quite the structure of Burgundy but these wines were full of complex and round fruit, they proved to be very long and, alas, relatively expensive, which I consider a sign of success in the market.

Below are my notes from a selection of all the wines tasted today.

chards and sauvignon whites...


An easy, fruity, smooth wine, good balance. RRP £24, Score 84.

Biodynamic, another easy typical pinot blanc, reminds me of Alsace brothers. RRP £25, Score 86.


No sulphites added at all to this round and complex product. RRP £23, Score 88.

A typical sauvignon blanc, balanced and moderately complex, long. RRP £25, Score 89.

Strong citrus notes give a welcome freshness to this chardonnay, well balanced by vanilla in a long finish. RRP £25, Score 90.


Another fresh chard with a unique sapid accent, which keeps on going... RRP £28, Score 88

Pineapple, vanilla, an elegant wine, complex and long, perfectly balanced. RRP £32, Score 92

... and reds: world class pinot noir

8. Felton Road pinot noir Cornish Point, Bannockburn, Central Otago 2020
Balanced and complex, needs a few years in the bottle to round a few rough edges. RRP £ 42, Score 88.

A great wine, smooth, long, powerful, complex in the extreme. Intense fruit meets elegance and structure and makes one dream of what the evolution in bottle might bring. RRP 46.50, Score 94

Another amazing wine from Felton Road, reveals immense potential in the nose and captivates the mind with a complex swirl of red fruits and chocolate in the mouth. Very long. RRP 42, Score 95

Similar to the preceding wine, but perhaps even more complex. RRP £60, Score 95

Another top pinot noir, spicy, opulent. RRP £55, Score 93

13. Burn Cottage Vineyard pinot noir, Central Otago, 2018
Similar in many ways to the preceding wine, RRP £ 53, Score 93

What an amazing tasting of pinot noirs! 

These days one is never too far away from a gel sanitizer

Organic production in NZ, image by Biogro

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Sparkling wines of Slovenia, with Glass of Bubbly of London

Thank you Marin Berovic

Today I took part in a tasting of Slovenian sparkling wines organized in London by Glass of Bubbly (Thank you Chris!) and hosted by Marin Berovic, a wine specialist from Slovenia itself.

Interesting range of wines, with a predominance of fresh and fruity bubbles over smooth and fragrant.

Slovenia confirmed itself to be a small but qualitatively relevant player in the market for sparkling wines. I mostly knew Slovenian producers on the Italian side of the border, but they are famous for their still wines.

Here below are some tasting notes.

Winery Radgonske Gorice

My favorite was their Zlata Radgonska Penine Millesimé 2008 (chard 100%), which despite its age retains an amazing freshness and could be a top class aperitif. Score 88.

The Penina Extra dry 2017 sports floral notes and as its label suggests is very fresh. I liked it when it warmed up slightly in the glass. Moderately complex. Score 86.

Winery Istenič

Their prestige extra brut 2013 is amazing, fresh attack then great balance and complexity. Score 92.

The No.1 NV is also fresh and complex with a pleasant fragrance which makes it stand out. Score 90.

Interesting sweet muscat NV at only 11,5% abv. Score 86

Winery Bjana

An excellent Cuvée Prestige 2016 (chard and rebula), with impressive fragrance, complexity and balance. Score 93.

Their Brut 2016 (also chard and rebula) is aromatic in the nose, then a fresh attack is followed by a well balanced finish. Score 89

Winery Silveri

Their best wine was a Blanc de Blanc NV, blend of different rebula (ribolla) grapes, fresh and flowery with moderate complexity. Score 86

A Brut Nature Zero Vintage collection 2011 (chardonnay and rebula) was still amazingly fresh, hard sensations still prevail despite the aging. Score 84

Winery Medot

Brut Rosé 2017. The best rosé in Slovenia (55% pinot noir, 35% rebula, 10% chardonnay) in the opinion of several tasters, complex perfectly balanced and very long. Score 93.

Extra brut cuvée 2015 (70% chard 30% rebula), another fresh wine with flowers and citrus notes, I was again surprised at the freshness of these wines despited their age. Score 90.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wines of Occitanie, with Tim Atkin MW

First in-person tasting after the pandemic, what a relief to be back in a hall with real people. Thanks to the Agency for Economic Development in Occitanie for organizing this event. More info also on the region's UK website.

Tim Atkin, MW

Intro to region by Tim Atkin, MW

Occitanie is the fusion of Roussillon and Midi-Pirenée, done in 2014, now largest wine producing region of France and by some accounts of the world.

Predominantly red wines (70%) with 25% of whites and 5% of rosé and sweet, the latter currently increasing.

About 3000 growers, many in cooperatives, and 700 negociants. Strong Catalan presence.

Syrah is the most recent successful arrival, began about 50 years ago to improve blends but later became established on its own.
Grenache and merlot are also popular, more merlot here than in Bordeaux.

Reputation lags behind reality: quality has been going up steadily in the region, while quantity is down similar to the global trend.
Blends on average are very successful, better than single varieties, especially for whites. Plant quite a bit of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc but can not compete with Burgundy or Loire even if prices are lower.

Detailed notes below, comments and scores are by Marco of AIS Brussels Club and not by Tim Atkin.

Master Class 1: Great Whites of Occitanie

1. Laurent Miquel, Albarino IGP Aude 2020, alvarinho 100%
Old house, founded in 1791, near Beziers. Steel fermentation, aged on lees, vines planted in 2010. Screw caps, a novelty here.
Floral nose, fresh attack, citrus, crunchy, an excellent Summer glass. Mod complex and length.
Could use some time to get a bit rounder but it is meant to be drunk fresh.
Score 92.

2. Domaine La Voute du Verdus, la Valise Blanche IGP Saint Guilhem le Désert 2020, carignan blanc 100%
Rare grape here, NW of Montpellier. Light oaking. "Lutte raisonnée" approach, not organic but least possible intervention.
Mod fresh complex aromas in the nose. Slightly woody, good structure, can feel phenolics, tannins.
Score 90.

3. Domaine Paul Mas, Réserve languedoc Blanc AOC 2020, vermentino, marsanne, grenache blanc and viognier
Steel fermentation and wood aging.
Smooth wine, mod length and complexity.
Score 88.

4. Chateau Puech-Haut, Tête de Beliér, AOC Languedoc 2020, roussanne, marsanne, grenache blanc, viognier
North of Montpellier, inox fermentation and wood aging with batonnage.
Excellent balance, mod complex and length.
Score 86.

5. Château des Estanilles, Vallongue AOC Faugères 2020, marsanne, roussanne, vermentino
FLoral aromas, vanilla, persistent minerality.
Perfect balance, complex and very long.
Score 94.

6. Château Rives-Blanques, Dédicace AOC Limoux 2019, chenin blanc 100%
Barrel fermented, batonnage.
Fresh and mineral, mod complex and length.
Score 88.

7. Mas de La Devèze, Pandore AOC Côtes du Roussillon 2019, maccabeu, grenache blanc
In Languedoc.
Smooth and complex, well balanced, a touch of lingering pleasant bitterness at the end. A unique sensation, unusual, surprising.
Score 93 mostly because it is so unique.

8. Plaimont, L'Empreinte SO Saint Mont 2017, gros manseng, petit corbu
In Gascony, steel and lees aging, no wood.
Fresh and aromatic nose, strong minerality, hard sensations prevail.
Might develop in time.
Score 86.

Master Class 2: Tim's Personal Picks of Occitanie

1. Calmel & Joseph, Ams Tram Gram, Quartier Libre IGP Pay d'Oc 2020, Clairette, grenache blanc, rolle (vermentino), roussanne
WHITE Intense floral aromas, round and mod complex wine, long. Could use a bit more acidity. Steel, no wood, no malolactic, on lees for 4 months.
Slight bitterness gives an original touch.
Score 89

2. Domaine Gayrard, Loin de L'Oeil AOC Gaillac 2019, Loin de l'oeil
WHITE A tad too rough, though a mod complexity can make it pleasant with succulent food, it is a bit off-putting to me.
Score 80

3. Domaine Lafage, Miraflors Rosé IGP Côtes Catalanes 2020, mourvèdre, grenache gris, grenache noir
RED Very fresh, easy wine for a pizza in the garden during the Summer.
Score 82

4. Château la Sauvageonne, Grand Vin AOC Terrasses du Larzac 2019, grenache noir, syrah, carignan noir
Hard sensations prevail, tannins predominant, sapidity.
Score 82

5. Château de Ciffre, Terroir d'Altitude AOC Faugères 2019, syrah,grenache noir, mourvèdre
Intense and captivating to the nose, of ripe red fruits, perfect balance, long and complex. A few years of aging potential, I'd love to smell the tertiaries of this wine.
The best red of the day.
Score 94

6. Cave de Roquebrun, Roches Noires AOC Saint-Chinian, Roquebrun, 2019, syrah, grenache noir, mourvèdre
A good all around wine, mod complex and long, but can't compete after n.5 above.
Score 85

7. Château Coutinel AOC Fronton 2019, négrette, gamay, syrah
Organic production, no wood.
Strong character, rough, hard sensations prevail. Tim says he likes it because as he gets older he prefer wines with harder taste, especially more acidity. I guess I am not old enough.
Score 80.

8. Domaine F. Jaubert, or du Temps, VDN AOC Rivesaltes 2002, grenache gris, grenache blanc
Fermented on skins, then 17 years in concrete tanks! Slightly fortified.
Nuts, dry figs, toasted almonds. A very well balanced, long and harmonious wine.
This is considered the white counterpart to Banyuls.
Score 94.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Meet the producer, Alpasiòn Wines, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

In the context of the London Wine Fair 2021, we have been fortunate to receive some samples from a remarkable winery in the Uco Valley of Argentina.

Alpasiòn in their own words (from their website): The people behind this project are all wine lovers who decided to make a dream come true by making honest, iconic wines together. We decided to name our inaugural release “Alpasión,” a combination of the Spanish “alma” (soul) and “pasión” (passion). The Alpasión label features the fingerprints and signatures of all of the winery’s owners as testimony to friendship for life. The winery owns 85 hectares of land and although not certified just yet, Alpasión practices sustainable organic farming to ensure the health of soils, ecosystems and people. Even part of the vineyard is planted in the shape of a giant fingerprint.

Whataboutme? Sauvignon blanc 2019
Sauvignon blanc 100%. Zesty and citrussy, fresh aromas on the nose, followed by a clean taste in the mouth. A simple yet pleasant wine.
Score 80.

Whataboutme? Malbec 2019
Easy, round and mod long, typical malbec.
Score 86

Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Ripe red fruits and plums. Excellent balance and length for this complex cab. It is still young, could age but it is good now. The best of the range.
Score 94

Malbec 2018
Easy and round, more complex aromas than Whatabaoutme? and surprisingly long.
Score 88.

Grand Malbec 2017
A wine that must wait, the tannins are still aggressive. Excellent potential, the fruit is there, so is the complexity. To drink in 3-4 years at least.
Score 90.

Grand Cabernet Franc 2018
Ripe fruit and plums. An opulent wine, very well balanced, which is not always easy with a cab franc. Deserves a wait, at least 3-4 years.
Score 90

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Meet the producer: Achaval Ferrer from Mendoza, Argentina

Achaval Ferrer (image from their website)

A producer from Argentina who is proud of carrying on a long, ultra-centenary tradition of wine making. Many vines are ungrafted, that is they were not touched by phylloxera and therefore had no need for grafting as most of the rest of the world.

In the works of Jevgenijs Suscinskis, who guided my tasting a few days ago and whom I would like to thank here, grafted vines give you a picture of the vineyard, ungrafted ones give you a movie! A film that does not last two hours but perhaps two centuries!

Here is the result of the tasting, very efficiently organized by MyOnlineFair:

Mirador 2014
malbec 100% from old vines, some  are 70-year-old plants on own roots.
A well balanced, dark ruby, round wine with lots of energy to offer.
15 months in french oak but one does not feel the wood much, excellent freshness is still there.
Score 89.

Bellavista 2014
malbec 100% from old vines, some up to 100 years old. 
Unfiltered and unfined it shows slight deposit. Violet black and red fruits emerge in the nose make for a fresher malbec compared to the previous one. Clearly this has further aging potential. This is an expensive bottle, around 100 Eur per bottle retail. Definitely worth it!
Score 95

Mendoza malbec 2018
malbec 100%
An interesting, moderately complex blend from grapes from different altitudes. A wine where the producer tries to offer the most typicity for the variety.
Score 88. 
rrp 18

Quimera 2013
45% malbec,19% cabernet sauvignon,18% merlot 18% cabernet franc
Warm blending of grapes in oak barrels to age together, an interesting method in stark contrast with most other blends where the individual varieties are vinified separately and blended at the end, prior to bottling.
Score 88

Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
cabernet sauvignon 100%
A majestic witn with long and perfectly balanced finish, due in large part, no doubt, to the 30 to 40-year-old vines from which it is produced. The wine was still excellent even after the bottle had been opened a few days (and closed after each tasting with vacuvin), long and balanced, even harmonious.
Score 93.

One word about pairing these and other Argentinian wines. Of course you will read all over the place how they go well with local food, especially famed beef from the pampas. Which it does, but this is very restrictive for the huge potential offered in these bottles.

At Jevgenijs' suggestion, I tried a pairing some of these wines with mildly spicy southern Chinese food and was very pleasantly surprised. The moderate body and smooth finish contrasts the mild (I repeat mild! Nothing can pair with very spicy food!) spices of Hunan cuisine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Sherry: a remote guided tasting with Diatomists

Today, as part of the London Wine Fair 2021, which had to be run online because of COVD restrictions,  Marco Carnovale of the italian Sommelier Association hosted a guided tour of Sherry wines with Thomas and Antonio, of Diatomists, a wide importer of Sherry to the UK. Below is a video of the tasting. 

As they explain on their website: Diatomist is the name given to those who master the art of diatom arrangement. Diatoms are single cell algae that create complex glass shells around themselves. 5 million years ago Jerez was under water which explains the unique and exceptional soil rich in diatom fossils.

These hidden microscopic marvels are essential for the vines to thrive in a hot climate with dry summers and sporadic heavy rainfall. The soils’ porosity locks in the moisture providing essential water reserves for the vines to thrive during the long and sunny growing-season. In fact, the quality of the soil can be quantified by its diatoms.

We tasted three wines: 

A fresh and fruity sherry to be enjoyed with a meal of light structure. Score 88

A more complex wine that may easily hold its own alone or be paired with a substantial meal of fish or white meats. Score 90

A rich and powerful sherry, intense in color, aroma and taste. Perfectly married with dessert or enjoyed alone. Score 94

Any further information contact Antonio and Thomas at

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Meet the producer: Azienda Felline, Manduria, Puglia, Italy

Master Class at the London Wine Fair (online) 2021 with Gregory Perrucci of Azienda Felline, Manduria, Italy.

Specialists in Primitivo di Manduria. Four different wines:

1. Felline 2019, red soil

The most typical soil of this region, rich in iron. Planted mostly in alberello style. Intense aromas on the nose, warm and velvety, smooth in the mouth, powerful fruit. Moderately complex and long.
Score 89

Calcareous, porous soil, waters filters down easily, forces roots to work harder. Rich of fossils!
Again a smooth velvety wine, even more complex than the previous one.
Score 90

Terrain is soft, alluvial origins, ancient forests decomposed, which makes for a longer annual cycle, the last primitivo to be harvested usually end of september. Old vines 80+ years.
Gregory used Zinfandel grafts he bought in California to develop this "twin grape" here, experiment was successful and expanded production. Now Felline represent Italy in California each year for Zinfandel fair.
Score 90

4. Dunico 2017 (unico on dunes)
Sandy soil, on dunes by the sea. Ripen early, first to be harvested hence the name "primitivo", primo among various varieties of grapes to be ready, late August already picked.
Old wine making land, goes back to Greeks, vines grew on the soil, like big black snakes on the white sand.Up to 16% abv! Very rich and complex, difficult to grow, can not make this wine every year.
Score 92

Friday, April 30, 2021

Meet the producer: Peñafiel, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Bodega Peñafiel
On 30th April I had a chance to go through a tasting of a range of wines from this vineyard on the Duero, in Spain.

I was guided through several bottles by export manager Raúl Blanco whom I would like to thank for his availability.

Many thanks to Myonlinefair for organizing this tasting very efficiently.
Avenida Valladolid Soria, km 311, 47300 Peñafiel, Valladolid, Spain

Alba de miros 2019
Their top white, 100pc verdejo.
Two months on lees release a pleasant fragrance.
A fruity attack and moderate body and length.
I paired with with a filet of Atlantic haddock in soya sauce with steamed broccoli.
Score 88
rrp 10euro

For the following two wines I decided to try an unusual pairing, with chicken soup with Chinese spices and lettuce. The astringency of the wines' tannins contrasts very well with the liquid soup.

Miros de ribeira 2017
tempranillo 100pc, made from the best grapes of this variety.
The wine is left to evolve for 8 months in French oak barrels, then another 12 months in the bottle.
Score 93
rrp 18 euro

El prenda 2017
80% tempranillo and 20% granacha
12 months in oak
score 82
rrp 8 euro

Other wines tasted today.

Alma serena 2020
tempranillo 100pc
3-4 months in oak give a pleasant roundness, moderate length and complexity.
score 86
rrp 10 euro

El importante 2016
100pc garnacha
12 months american oak followed by 12 months in bottle
These grapes come from old vines that are 50-year-old
This wine is in the upper range of products already. It can age another few years but it is ready now.
Score 90
rrp 16 euro
Silencio de Miros, 2015
Single vineyard at 1000 meter altitude above seal level.
100% tempranillo
Acidity is strong but it is expected to smoothen out with time.
A top-level Duero with a personality to challenge the most difficult palate.
This wine has been particularly successful in the Chinese market, where it quickly sold out after it was recognized as the best Spanish wine. 
Score 95
rrp 48

the cellar

Peñafiel red lineup