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Past Offers

Bodegas Iturria, Toro, Spain 2016

Bodegas Iturria, Toro, Spain 2016

The wild and remote Toro region in northwest Spain, has gone from zero to hero in the last 10 to 15 years. Practically unheard of in the 90s, it is fast becoming one of Spain’s most exciting fine wine regions.

While the region establishes itself, there is still some serious value to be found though, and Xavier Iturria's wines are prime examples.

Xavier bought his plot of ungrafted old vines back in 2009 and has been making quite a name for himself since then. He makes just two wines, both rich reds as is the Toro way but with an elegance that is becoming his signature style.

The Iturria 2016 is a wonderfully smooth, polished red made from 90% Tinta de Toro and 10% Garnacha. It is medium bodied with ripe, dark cherry fruit, a bit of spice, freshness thanks to the altitude and a slight toastiness from 13 months ageing in French oak. The overall balance is excellent and the complexity mightily impressive for the price.

Offered: February 2020.

Alcohol: 14.5%

Vintage report: An excellent vintage with high yields to boot. Good concentration and potential for ageing.

Drinking window: 2020 - 2025.

Food matching: Drink with roast lamb, other grilled meats or hard cheeses.

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Domaine des Gravennes, Terre d'Histoire, Cotes du Rhone Villages Suze La Rousse, France 2017

Domaine des Gravennes, Terre d'Histoire, Cotes du Rhone Villages Suze La Rousse, France 2017

The Estate

Domaine des Gravennes has been in the same family for 4 generations and is now run by two young brothers, Luc and Rémi. Luc was the first to return to the family estate back in 2011, having worked in wine on four different continents; older brother Rémi then joined him, leaving behind his life as an engineer to return home and pursue his passion for the vine.

Highly motivated the pair of them, they have given the estate a serious shot in the arm, creating delicious, balanced and elegant organic wines which have been gathering admirers in the French Press and beyond.

The Wine

2017 was an exceptionally good year in the Southern Rhône, which is obvious in all the wines that the estate produced that year and in particular the Terre d'Histoire, one of their top cuvées.

The wine is full bodied with juicy red berry fruit, ripe tannins, a soft spiciness and the light scent of Provencal garrigue. What really sets it apart though is the exceptional brightness and purity of the fruit and the wonderful overall freshness - both a result of the perfect growing conditions and the brothers' exacting standards in the vineyard and light touch in the winery.

Offered: January 2020

Alcohol: 14.5%

Drinking window: 2020 – 2024.

Food matching: Hearty winter dishes such as stews, roast lamb or roast game.

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Castello Sonnino, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2019

Castello Sonnino, Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2019

Tuscany makes some of the best olive oils in the world but quality varies hugely between the big brands and the good small producers.

Castello Sonnino’s extra virgin olive oil is an excellent example of the latter. Alessandro’s family have been making olive oil here for over two centuries. Their olive groves are immaculately tended, hand harvested and the olives are milled and left to settle in terracotta ‘coppi’ (jars) in the estate’s cool, dark cellars before bottling.

Yields are very small per tree but as a result the quality of fruit is exceptional and the careful handling prior to milling ensures that none of the flavour is lost in the final product. Alessandro has won numerous prestigious international awards for his olive oil and can of his 2019 would be a seriously good addition to any kitchen.

Offered: November 2019.

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Castello Sonnino, Cantinino, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy 2015

Castello Sonnino, Cantinino, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy 2015

The Cantinino is one of a pair of superb Tuscan reds imported from Castello Sonnino, a 13th century estate that I discovered when I was cycling south from Florence in 2017.

It is made from the best Sangiovese grapes on the estate and aged in French barriques for 14 months. 2015 was a superb vintage in the area and over the last 4 years this wine has matured into something really quite special - rich, fruity, spicy and complex and a bargain at £21.95 a bottle.

Offered: November 2019

Alcohol: 14.5%

Vintage report: Yields were down but quality was excellent thanks to a warm summer with well timed rains.

Drinking window: 2019 – 2025.

Food matching: Think local - Bistecca alla Fiorentina, sausage and bean stews, roast game, pappardelle al ragu di coniglio (rabbit).

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Domaine Desvignes, Givry 1er Cru, Clos Charle 2017

Domaine Desvignes, Givry 1er Cru, Clos Charle 2017

The Desvignes family have been making wine on this 11 hectare estate for five generations. Gautier joined his father Eric there in 2016 and has pushed the estate to new heights, insisting on hand harvesting in small bins, a more organic approach to viticulture and building a new cellar for a gentler élévage.

The resulting wines have been receiving superb reviews, with this particular cuvée garnering an impressive 92 points on robertparker.com.

The wine is drinking beautifully already but will improve through to 2030 if you can tuck it away. As it stands, it is full, fresh and beautifully balanced with bright cherry fruit, floral notes and a rich juiciness that keeps you coming back for more.

Offered: October 2019.

Alcohol: 12%.

Drinking window: 2020 – 2030. Ideally, towards the end of that window if you can hang on.

Food matching: Roast chicken or game, mushroom risotto.

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Fresne Ducret 'Les Nouveaux Explorateurs' Premier Cru Champagne NV

Fresne Ducret 'Les Nouveaux Explorateurs' Premier Cru Champagne NV

'Grower' Champagnes offer some of the highest quality and best value drinking in the region, but are still something of a well kept secret in the UK.

Made from grapes grown by the producers themselves (not bulk bought like the big brand equivalents), these are hand-crafted, single estate wines that would sell for a lot more if they could match the marketing power of the big Champagne houses.

The Fresne Ducret 'Les Nouveaux Explorateurs' Premier Cru NV is an outstandingly good example, with that perfect balance of ripe fruit, rich, brioche-like yeastiness and crisp (but not too crisp!) acidity.

The Fresne family have been growing grapes in Champagne for 7 generations. Their vines are in the 1er Cru village of Villedommange, near Reims, and today it is Pierre Fresne who oversees the whole operation - from vineyard management through to the dosage, riddling and final corking.

The resulting Champagnes are a testament to the family's meticulous production methods and the quality of the domaine's Premier Cru terroir.

Offered: October 2019.

Alcohol: 12%.

Drinking window: 2019 – 2024.

Food matching: Excellent as an aperitif but even better with smoked salmon or potted shrimp.

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Domaine Gerard Brisson, Beaujolais-Villages, France 2018

Domaine Gerard Brisson, Beaujolais-Villages, France 2018

Domaine Gérard Brisson was established by Gérard's grandfather and is today run by Gérard, his wife and his son. The average age of the vines is 50 years old, so yields are low but the quality is very high. Gérard is considered one of the best winemakers in Beaujolais by his peers but to date little of his wine has made it over the Channel.

The Beaujolais Villages actually comes from vines in Régnié, one of the named Crus in Beaujolais, but the family choose to market it as Beaujolais-Villages. It is a beautifully balanced, delicate, fresh and aromatic red which goes down particularly well with a slight chill on the bottle. This is benchmark Beaujolais-Villages from the rolling hills of northern Beaujolais and an easy drinking bargain at £13.95.

Offered: September 2019.

Alcohol: 12.5% abv.

Vintage report: An excellent vintage in quality and quantity. As a rule turning out structured, concentrated and silky wines with fine tannins.

Drinking window: Drink now through to 2020.

Food matching: Delicious as an aperitif or with charcuterie, pâtés, and white rinded cheeses such as Brie de Meaux.

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Domaine Gerard Brisson, Morgon 'Les Charmes', La Louve, Beaujolais, France 2018

Domaine Gerard Brisson, Morgon 'Les Charmes', La Louve, Beaujolais, France 2018

Domaine Gérard Brisson was established by Gérard's grandfather and is today run by Gérard, his wife and his son. The average age of the vines is 50 years old, so yields are low but the quality is very high. Gérard is considered one of the best winemakers in Beaujolais by his peers but to date little of his wine has made it over the Channel.

Morgon is one of the 10 named Crus in Beaujolais which cover the rolling hills in the north of the region. These Crus produce the finest Beaujolais wines. Each Cru has its own style and the wines of Morgon tend to be relatively rich and full. Les Charmes, the vineyard where this wine comes from, is one of the most prestigious 'liet-dit' in the Morgon appellation.

Gérard's Morgon 2018 has received glowing reviews from the wine press with a 95 point score in Decanter magazine and 93 points from James Suckling.
The wine is juicy, fresh, rich and complex with more oomph than the estate's Beaujolais Villages.

Offered: September 2019.

Alcohol: 12.5% abv.

Vintage report: An excellent vintage in quality and quantity. As a rule turning out structured, concentrated and silky wines with fine tannins.

Drinking window: Drink now through to 2022.

Food matching: Roast chicken, sausage and mash and steak frites to name a few.

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Domaine de l'Amauve, 'Laurances', Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret, France 2017

Domaine de l'Amauve, 'Laurances', Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret, France 2017

The tiny Domaine de l'Amauve is run along organic lines (certification coming later this year) with minimal spraying and a real focus on biodiversity in order to create the healthiest, richest possible environment for the vines.

The vines are old and low yielding, and thanks to the altitude of the vineyards and their western facing aspect, the resulting wines are ripe but with real freshness too.
These natural advantages, combined with Christian's exacting work in the vineyard and experienced hand in the cellar, are fast making the domaine one of the most exciting prospects in the appellation.

This particular cuvée, the Laurances 2017, is unoaked, unfiltered and because bottling conditions are so tightly controlled, low in sulphur. It is a fresh, fruity and aromatic DELIGHT, with excellent balance, medium to full body and silky, fine grained tannins.

Offered: June 2019.

Alcohol: 14.5% abv.

Vintage report: Excellent quality but low quantities due to drought and coulure problems.

Drinking window: Drink now through to 2022.

Food matching: Drink with hard cheeses and barbecued steaks.

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Domaine des Poncetys, 'Les Creches', Saint-Veran, France 2015

Domaine des Poncetys, 'Les Creches', Saint-Veran, France 2015

Domaine des Poncétys was created at the beginning of the 17th Century and has 15 hectares of immaculately tended, organic vines in the heart of Saint-Véran.

This particular white cuvée comes from a little 'lieu-dit' (a named patch of land) called Les Crêches - the gently sloping parcel of limestone terroir just outside the village of Davayé.

It is exactly the sort of ripe but tense, delicately oaked white Burgundy that I love and has all the bang of a good Meursault, without the hefty price tag.

Offered: March 2019.

Alcohol: 14.5%.

Vintage report: A warm dry vintage in the Maconnais, ideal for those who like their white Burgundy at the richer, riper end of the scale. Where acidity matches concentration, as in this case, the wines are fantastic.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2022.

Food matching: Delicious with roast chicken or soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.

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