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Past Offers

Castello di Montespertoli, Chianti Riserva, Italy 2015

Castello di Montespertoli, Chianti Riserva, Italy 2015

A beautifully balanced, highly more-ish Chianti Riserva, from the Chianti Montepertoli DOCG - the smallest of the Chianti sub-zones. Made from 80% Sangiovese, with a little bit of Merlot to round off the edges and some Cabernet Sauvignon for added structure, this is a rich, fresh, cherry fruit scented red with spicy, savoury notes from the oak barrel ageing and an all round soft and easy drinking character.

It is drinking beautifully already, even better after a good few hours breathing.

Offered: November 2018.

Alcohol: 14%.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2022.

Food matching: Will go down particularly well with roast lamb, hard, strong cheeses, or Tuscan-style sausage and bean casseroles.

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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: November 2018.

Alcohol: 12%.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2023.

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

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Domaine de l'Edre, Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel, France 2016

Domaine de l'Edre, Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel, France 2016

Domaine de l’Edre operates along the lines of the ‘garagiste’ producers in Bordeaux in that they have a few hectares of old vines with exceptional terroir, and a small cellar in town where they produce tiny quantities of sensationally good wine.

The crucial difference though is that this is Roussillon, not Bordeaux, so the value for money is fantastic.

The Edre 2016 is an unoaked blend of 60% Syrah, 25% Grenache and 15% Carignan. It is inky purple in colour and full bodied with pure raspberry and cassis fruit. 12 months in French oak has added cedary notes and complexity but the use of once used barriques means that the wood influence is in balance with the fruit. The wine is deliciously ripe but is still graceful and light on its feet. All in all, this is seriously impressive stuff, and in terms of fine wines, a great bargain when compared to wines from almost any other part of France at the same price point.

Offered: October 2018.

Alcohol: 15%.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2028.

Food matching: Drink with grilled red meat and game, lamb chops and hard cheeses.

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Domaine de l'Edre, Carrement Mourv'Edre, Cotes Catalanes, France 2017

Domaine de l'Edre, Carrement Mourv'Edre, Cotes Catalanes, France 2017

Domaine de l’Edre operates along the lines of the ‘garagiste’ producers in Bordeaux in that they have a few hectares of old vines with exceptional terroir, and a small cellar in town where they produce tiny quantities of sensationally good wine.

The crucial difference though is that this is Roussillon, not Bordeaux, so the value for money is fantastic.

Their Mourvèdre (or ‘Mourv’Edre’ as they call it) is a wonderfully vibrant red with blackberry fruit, a touch of spice on the nose, all round juicy freshness and concerning levels of drinkability. It is unoaked in order to allow the quality of the fruit to shine and is a perfect winter red to go with roast game, hearty beef stews and hard cheeses.

Offered: October 2018.

Alcohol: 13.5%.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2022.

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Chateau Fredignac, La Favorite, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, France 2015

Chateau Fredignac, La Favorite, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux, France 2015

Finding bargains in Bordeaux is a tricky business, but scour the lesser known communes on the right bank and you can unearth the odd gem.

The Château Frédignac is exactly that. An old vine blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc aged in French oak for 12 months, it is rich, ripe, beautifully balanced and a superb example of the 2015 vintage - one of THE great Bordeaux vintages of the millennium.

With a couple of years bottle age under its belt it is perfect for drinking this winter but will mature well over the next few years or so if you want to lay it down.

The Estate.

Château Frédignac was founded in 1919 by Jean-Marie l'Amouller, a young mariner who fell in love with the region and a young Blayaise when he was passing through on the corvette La Favorite (hence the name of the wine). It occupies 20 hectares of excellent clay/limestone land in the heart of the Blaye appellation and is today run by Vincent and Ludivine l'Amouller. A young couple who took over in 2012.

Both come from an environmental science background and they have converted the estate to organic, meaning no synthetic sprays are used in the vineyard, much greater biodiversity and all round better more aromatic wines.

Offered: October 2018

Alcohol: 14%

Drinking window: 2018 – 2022.

Food matching: Delicious with steak, Sunday roasts and hard cheeses.

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Domaine des Gravennes, Terre d'Histoire, Cotes du Rhone Villages Suze La Rousse, France 2016

Domaine des Gravennes, Terre d'Histoire, Cotes du Rhone Villages Suze La Rousse, France 2016

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

2016 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: September 2018

Alcohol: 14.5%

Drinking window: 2018 – 2019.

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

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Tenuta La Vigna, Vernaccia San Gimignano, Italy 2017

Tenuta La Vigna, Vernaccia San Gimignano, Italy 2017

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of Italy’s most ancient white wines and has a long line of illustrious fans stretching all the way back to the Middle Ages. Among them many a Pope, and some hefty literary figures too – Chaucer, Dante and Deschamps to name drop a few.

Tenuta La Vigna specialise in its production and with two enthusiastic young cousins now at the helm, the estate has started to win particular praise for the unoaked, minerally style of Vernaccia that they produce.

The 2017 here is a superlative example: fresh and minerally with a creamy texture, citrus fruit and floral notes that reflect the wild flowers that dot the local landscape, it is delicious in that zesty but restrained and elegant style that you often find in Italian whites, and a very good buy for this price.

Offered: July 2018

Alcohol: 12.5%

Drinking window: 2018 – 2020.

Food matching: Excellent as an aperitif or seafood dishes. Also a winner with a salty Pecorino cheese.

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Domaine de Ribonnet Merlot, Comte Tolosan, France 2015

Domaine de Ribonnet Merlot, Comte Tolosan, France 2015

Domaine de Ribonnet sits in the heart of the Comté Tolosan, half way between Toulouse and the Pyrenees.

Previously owned by Clément Ader, one of the pioneers of mechanical flight (he is credited with “an uncontrolled hop of approximately 50m” in his plane Eolé in 1890!), the estate was taken on by Christian Gerber in 1974. His son Simon joined the team in 2015.

The family have 20 hectares under vine, and have been organic since 2001 (so no nasty chemicals in the vineyard), and they adopt a non-interventionist approach in the winery. This basically means that (as far as is practicable) they avoid any artificial additions in the winery.

As a result they make wines of stunning purity which are an honest reflection of the terroir. The Merlot, like the Syrah that I offered before, is a wonderful example of this.

Offered: July 2018

Alcohol: 13.5%

Vintage report: 2015 was an excellent vintage in south west France: good weather during the flowering season (crucial in determining the size of the harvest), a hot, dry summer; rains in August to help ripen the grapes, and to the delight of Christian and Simon, no hail damage or trouble from the cicadelles (leaf hoppers) - a bit of a problem during the previous vintage.

Drinking window: 2018 – 2020.

Food matching: This would also go down very well with cheddar cheeses, charcuterie, terrines or simple grilled meat dishes.

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Casar de Burbia Mencia, Bierzo, Spain 2015

Casar de Burbia Mencia, Bierzo, Spain 2015

Casar de Burbia is one of a handful of small, very high quality estates that is bringing the wines of Bierzo in north west Spain into the spotlight.

Owned and run by the Fernandez Bello family, the estate has 27 hectares of vines, most of which are at around 600m above sea level. Mencia is the key red grape variety (Godello makes up the white plantings) and under the exacting eye of winemaker Isidra Fernandez Bello, the results are superb.

Their red is 100% Mencia and aged in French barriques for 12 months, giving this rather opulent, soft, raspberry fruit red a subtle, well integrated toastiness.

Offered: July 2018

Alcohol: 14%

Vintage report: 2015 was a great vintage in Bierzo, producing ripe, balanced reds with good ageing potential.

Drinking window: It is drinking perfectly now, with fresh acidity and soft tannins but will continue to age well through to 2022.

Food matching: An excellent match for barbecued meats, charcuterie or cassoulet.

90 points on www.robertparker.com

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Casar de Burbia Godello, Bierzo, Spain 2017

Casar de Burbia Godello, Bierzo, Spain 2017

Casar de Burbia is one of a handful of small, very high quality estates that is bringing the wines of Bierzo in north west Spain into the spotlight.

Owned and run by the Fernandez Bello family, the estate has 27 hectares of vines, most of which are at around 600m above sea level. Godello is the key white grape variety (Mencia makes up the red plantings) and under the exacting eye of winemaker Isidra Fernandez Bello, the results are superb.

The 2017 Godello is zesty and fresh, with a light citrus character, subtle floral notes and a slight minerality. The wine spent 8 months maturing on the lees (the dead yeast cells left after fermentation) to add complexity and depth of flavour.

Offered: July 2018

Alcohol: 13.5%

Vintage report: Terrible frost trouble led to a small harvest, but quality of what grapes there were was high. The tiny harvest did unfortunately put some upward pressure on prices.

Drinking window: Lovely and zippy now, I suspect it will be at its best 2018 – 2019, but will continue to drink well through to 2021.

Food matching: It is completely delicious drunk by itself, but would also go very well with seafood.

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