Saturday, 26 November 2011

Home alone on a Saturday night with a delicious Northern Rhône red

TLD is out tonight with her work mates on what is officially their "Christmas Meal" - in late November, for goodness' sake! Nevertheless, it gave her a chance to put the glad rags on and get out of the house without me in tow. And I have to say, she looked a pretty picture - and I am a very lucky man!

Isn't she wonderful? TLD, ready to go and set the world on fire.

Meanwhile, I'm left all alone on a Saturday night, with only a medium-rare rump steak and a delicious bottle of  red wine for company. I suppose life could be worse..........

J. Vidal-Fleurie Côte-Rôtie 1994
This is another bargain buy, which I bought via the online wine auction site BidForWine a year or two back - and if I remember correctly, it worked out at no more than about £15 a bottle, which is a bargain in any Cote-Rôtie lover's book. The colour is relatively evolved, with a deep-ish blood red core fading to a mahogany-tinged rim. The nose is beautifully evolved too, with delicious aromas of bright red fruits and perhaps a touch of bramble, togther with some really enticing savoury, slightly meaty (though just short of bretty) notes, forest floor, exceedingly subtle oak and a wonderfully high-toned suggestion of citrus. And the palate is certainly high-toned, in a way that tickles the taste buds and heightens the senses, whilst at the same time keeping all of those luscious red/black fruits and softening tannins in check. And the effect is just so alluring and captivating, in a wine of exceptional balance and supreme elegance, still grippy and taught, but with a deliciously sweet and sour red fruit finish. It is one of those wines which just happens to be in the right place at the right time - and as the old saying goes, "there are no great wines - just great bottles". And, for a relatively "humble" negociant-bottled Cote-Rôtie, this is one of them - and a wonderful surprise.

Right - I'm off to enjoy my dinner, followed by Match Of The Day - if I can manage to stay awake for that long!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Whilst on the subject of the Iberian Peninsula..... A brilliant 20 year-old Portugese red wine

After 2 or 3 recent posts all about Rioja, you'd think it was time for me to write about French wine for once(!) But here's a post about another wine from the Iberian Peninsula that really hit the spot recently.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, one of my "house wines" over the last few years has been Luis Pato Vinho de Mesa Tinto - several cases of the stuff, in fact, picked up for a song at a certain well-known auction house. Most of those were from the 1990 vintage, though I also found a couple of cases of 1991. And not a single bottle of either vintage has ever disappointed. The pleasure of drinking good wine with 20 or so years of age on it that doesn't cost the earth is not to be underestimated - such finds are rare in this day and age, especially as auction prices for mature wines seem to have held up remarkably well, even during this protracted economic crisis. So imagine my surprise when a local wine supplier to the trade offered a small-ish consignment of another mature Portugese red wine, again at a price that wouldn't break the bank. I just had to try it - and I was not disappointed.........

Quinta do Poco do Lobo Bairrada 1991
A blend of 3 indigenous Portugese grape varieties, predominantly Baga, with small amounts of Castelão and Moreto, aged in small old oak barrels. The colour is a lovely medium carmine at the core, fading gradually to a pale orange/mahogany rim. Even at 20 years old, there is still plenty of fruit on the nose, with delightful aromas of wild red berries and bramble, not to mention a veritable host of floral and secondary notes such as forest floor, tar and cedar. Subtle hints of violets, peppermint, herbs and spices add yet more complexity. The flavours are equally worthy of contemplation, with those complex aromas showing through on the palate, allied to peppery spice, grippy but softening tannins (Baga is famous for its tannic structure – hence its ageing potential) and mouth-watering acidity. The finish is long, dry and deliciously “sweet and sour”. In fact, I loved it so much that I opened a second bottle the following day, just to convince myself that it was indeed as good as I first thought! I have since gone back and snapped-up the remaining handful of cases - some to keep for our own consumption and some for my more adventurous customers. It isn't a simple quaffer, and that firm tannic structure means it is a wine that demands food, though you needn’t be too choosy about what to drink it with – I can imagine it pairing equally well with red meats, spicy sausages, all manner of Italian tomato-based sauces, pizzas and mushroom dishes. For a 20 year-old wine, from what is a relatively obscure but very highly-regarded denomination, this is a real cracker. And at £12.95 a bottle, it is a bargain - you can find it in the Portugal section of the Leon Stolarski Fine Wines online shop. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Rioja Part 2 - Bodegas Muga and Lopez de Heredia

Continuing my reports on a trilogy of dedicated Rioja tastings at Nottingham Wine Circle, here are my notes on the second instalment. This particular tasting was presented by my friend and fellow Wine Circle member Andy Leslie, who purchased all of the wines during his Summer 2011 visits to both Bodegas. Yes - despite the age of some of these wines, they are all current releases!

Muga Blanco 2010
Ultra-pale, with a nose of toasty oak and banoffee pie, citrus lime and herbs. The palate is fresh, juicy and long. It isn't complex, but give it a year or two.......

Muga Blanco 2008
Slightly deeper in colour, with much more integrated oak. Perhaps a bit dumb, but with citrus and herb notes peeping through. The oak is more to the fore on the palate, but 2 years in bottle have added some complexity and there is a good deal of minerality and the finish is long and mouth-watering.

Muga Rosado 2010
A pale onion skin/salmon colour, with a fresh fruit and candy nose. The flavours are bright and zingy, with notes of cranberry, redcurrant and citrus. This is a classy rosé, with a lovely rhubarb tang to the finish.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Blanco Crianza 2001
Now we are talking -  4 years in barrel and plenty of bottle age makes for what I call proper white Rioja. The nose is typically Lopez de Heredia (you need to have experienced them to know what I'm on about), and really fresh, with aromas of apples, herbs and spices, subtle cheesy notes and old wood. The palate is perhaps a tad less exciting than the nose, but still lovely and complex and very long. And of course it is still a baby, so give it time!

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva 1993
This is darker and slightly caramelly and honeyed, perhaps even a touch sherried/madeirised, but with lovely citrus and herb notes and a high-toned quality. The palate is stunning - rich, yet fresh and full of life, with wonderful acidity, a little bit of tannic grip and amazing length. A warming, spicy, zingy wine of great complexity and breed. Wonderful.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva 2000
The nose doesn't give too much away, but it gradually opens-out into something really quite "winey", with subtle woody notes.The palate is again quite winey, but for my personal taste, it could do with a little more residual fruit flavour. To be fair, it does blossom in the glass and is actually quite long on the finish. A good, but not great wine, which some others liked a lot.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza 2005
Smells traditional, but could almost be a rather attractive Rhone or Burgundy wine. It is young and full of fruit, ultra-spicy, slightly woody and quite complex. It is long and lovely, with a good few years of development left in it.

Muga Rioja Crianza 2007
A striking nose, reminiscent of celeriac and caraway, quite beefy/savoury and almost soupy. The palate is rich and tannic and somewhat modern, with rich bramble and blackcurrant fruit flavours. That said - and as "modern" Rioja goes - it is a decent wine, but it just suffers in the company of more traditional wines. Not complex, but decent enough.

Muga Reserva Seleccion Especial 2005
Another modern nose, laced with vanilla and burly fruit, but also seems quite balanced. Almost Bordeaux-meets-Rhone in style, with a touch of red capsicum and perfume/florality. The palate is again rich and extracted and rather tannic, but with plenty of fruit. A bit of a Parker wine, but not bad.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia Reserva 2002
The nose is subtle and rather closed, but there is something inviting about it. Red and black fruit, pepper and red capsicum, with notes of polished old wood. The palate seems slightly disjointed and young, but it has tannin and acidity in equal measure and no doubt some hidden fruit that will emerge with time. Promising, rather than lovely.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Bosconia Reserva 2001
This puts the 2002 above into perspective - 2001 was a magnificent vintage, and this wines shows why. Perfumed and floral (violets), with notes of mushroom and farmyard - and simply oodles of fruit. The palate is concentrated, spicy and complex, with layers of rich fruit, oak, spices, herbs and just a touch of typical 2001 alcohol, tempered by grippy tannins and juicy acidity. Long too. This is superb now, but could be amazing in another 5 or 10 years.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva 2001
Initially, this smells tight, closed and almost dull in comparison to the Bosconia. But with air, the fruit begins to emerge, with black fruit aromas which almost remind me of the Languedoc, but with no discernible oak. The palate has plenty of sweet and sour red and black fruits, quite hefty tannins and medium-high acidity. It is rich and beautifully tangy, but is currently very tightly-wound and needs another 5 to 10 years to really come into its own. A real sleeper, which could also blossom into something very special. I hope so, becuase I now have 3 bottles of my own to tuck away!

Muga Reserva Seleccion Especial 1995
A lovely nose - perfumed and floral with notes of soft and crystallised fruits. The palate shows lots of sweet fruit (almost too sweet), though there is plenty of acidity. It just lacks a little something in the middle. It is a nice wine, but lacks the stucture and complexity which might justify a £28 price tag. Ultimately, it comes across as more like a new world Pinot than a middle-aged Rioja.

Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2004
A deep, dark, rich colour, but smells almost like a (deep, dark, rich) Burgundy, in an oaky, red/black fruit sort of way. However, unlike the Seleccion Especial 1995 above, it has a start, a middle and a finish - in other words it has structure. Yes it is rich, and not really in the mould of classic Rioja (for now, at least) but it is a very good wine, which has all the components necessary to age gracefully for many years.

Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 2001
This again speaks loudly of the vintage. Tobacco and curry spices, polished wood and plenty of florality make for a rather glorious nose. The palate too has everything in equal measure - fruit, richness, tannin and good acidity. This is a lovely wine, worthy of much contemplation.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1991
Talk about saving the best until last! This has an utterly glorious, ultra-traditional nose of preserved red fruits, citrus peel, forest floor, fresh coffee grounds, old wood and layers of soft spices, all of which come through on the palate in a wine that is nigh-on perfect right now. Indeed, I personally think it is at the absolute pinnacle of maturity, although others think it may last for many more years. If I had some (which unfortunately I don't) I would be in no great rush to drink it, but I wouldn't let it hang around for too long either. A real cracker.

It will probably come as no great surprise that, whilst some of the Muga wines were impressive in their own way (and a couple were really excellent), the Lopez de Heredia wines won hands-down. In a region where so many growers seem to pander to the tastes of a certain influential American wine critic with an aversion to subtlety, there are fortunately still a few that continue to produce good, old-fashioned, quirky, traditional Rioja - just like they always have done. And to paraphrase the great Brian Clough, I wouldn't say Lopez de Heredia is the best Rioja grower in the business. But they are in the top one.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Weekend drinking of a pretty high order - a fabulous Rhone red

Paul Jaboulet Ainé Le Grand Pompée 1999 Saint-Joseph
This is the sort of Syrah that simply could not be from anywhere else in the world but the Northern Rhone. Richly fruity, earthy, meaty and floral all at the same time. The nose is a glorious cacophony of bramble and black/red currant fruits, violets, beef gravy and autumn forest floor, with hints of old wood, lapsang tea and mixed curry spices. It is just so damn complex - a true wine for contemplation. And the palate certainly doesn't disappoint, with such glorious red and black fruit flavours, again a touch of savoury beef/soy and myriad secondary flavours. What tannins remain are beautifully ripe and almost completely resolved, whilst the acidity is just so delicious - and at just 13.0% abv, there is nary a hint of alcohol. Modern winemakers take note - I know about global warming and all of that stuff, but still, if the grapes are picked at "optimum" ripeness (i.e. when ph/acidity and phenolics are all in sync) rather than "maximum" ripeness, then you will have balanced wines.

This wine actually comes from a period when Jaboulet wines in general were hit and miss to say the least (the glory years of the 70's, 80's and early 90's ended with the untimely death of winemaker Gerard Jaboulet in 1995). Indeed, the 1999 Hermitage La Chapelle was thoroughly slated by the critics (I have a single bottle, upon which I will one day make my own judgement). But this Saint-Joseph performs way above its relatively low denomination and is actually as good as quite a few Hermitage(s) I've had. As the old saying goes, there are no great wines - just great bottles. And this was definitely one of them.

Incidentally - and this may be of purely academic interest, to wine geeks such as myself - just look at that cork. A beautiful specimen if ever there was one, with hardly any visible faults/fissures, and with no more than a millimetre of staining at the end. The sort one finds with (un)surprising regularity in Portugese wines (Portugal being by far the biggest cork producer). If only all corks were so perfect, TCA (i.e. cork taint) may be far less of a problem.............


Friday, 18 November 2011

Faustino Crianza 2005 Rioja - a delightful surprise!

I know I'm only supposed to bang on about Languedoc Rousillon and various other southern French wine regions (which are of course my speciality), but I'm not prejudiced and I do love good wine, wherever it comes from. And I especially love good, traditional Rioja, and this one's an absolute cracker. Normally, a bottle of wine will last a whole evening between TLD and I, often with a good deal left over for the next evening. But this one is so downright delicious, it has disappeared rather too quickly (though admittedly I've drank most of it myself, whilst both writing-up my notes for Part 2 of the "Rioja trilogy" and preparing dinner).......

The colour is a vibrant medium-dark cherry red with a small ruby rim, whilst the nose offers delightful aromas of redcurrants and wild strawberries, flowers, sweet spices, cinnamon, damp earth and polished wood, with subtle notes of toasty oak. The oak-ageing is beautifully done, making for a delicately fragrant, rather than "woody" wine, with the floral and fruity elements being the dominant factors. And the palate more than lives up to the promise of the nose, with an earthiness and a delicious core of vibrant red fruit and spice flavours, married to very fine tannins and juicy redcurrant/cranberry-like acidity, which positively dances over the tongue and keeps tempting me back for more. So much so that I'd almost go as far as saying this is a Rioja for Burgundy lovers. And for a wine that is categorised on the Faustino website as "modern" (I needed to get my facts right for the tech-spec) for me it has the aromatic and gustatory profile of a reassuringly "traditional" Rioja Crianza. I have to admit that I wasn't particularly expecting this to excite me - after all, Faustino Riojas are normally considered to be decent, clean, but unremarkable wines. But this is light, airy, balanced and fruity, yet wonderfully elegant and possessed of all the secondary/tertiary attributes of classic a red Rioja. It really is considerably complex stuff, and I am very enamoured by it. In fact, all I can say is Yum!! An absolute little gem of a wine, and a very, very pleasant surprise. In fact, I love it so much I've decided to get some more, and you can buy it via my online shop, at just £8.99 a bottle.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Rioja Part 1 - a mixed bag of Gran Reservas

These are my notes from the first in a trilogy of Rioja tastings at Nottingham Wine Circle. The wines for this tasting were all Gran Reservas and all came from the personal cellar of long-time Wine Circle member and good friend John Houghton, who unfortunately could not be there, as he is currently fighting a battle with cancer. Get well soon, John!

1.  Vina Marro 2003 Bodegas Domeco de Jarauta
100% Tempranillo. Modern, meaty, thick and concentrated - a bit soupy, in fact. Also a touch hot and jammy and ultimately a bit simple. Not brilliant.

2.  Vin Alarde 2003 Berberana
Smells a touch more authentic, even Bordeaux-like. More restrained and "winey", meaty, leathery, restrained fruit ,with slightly drying tannins and a hint of bitterness, though not overly so. Creamy, woody and really quite drinkable, without really singing.

3. Lan 2003 Bodegas Lan
This doesn't smell like Rioja. In fact, I'd be in Italy if I didn't know what it was. The nose is actually a bit dumb, whilst the palate is rich, concentrated and tannic, but with a core of sweet-edged fruit. Modern Rioja personified and frankly a bit boring.

4.  Usoa Bagordi 2001 Bodegas Bagordi
Again, woody/oaky and a touch of brett and SO2. Savoury. The palate is rich, fruity and savoury, but with stalky/chalky tannins and too much extraction for my liking.

5.  Marques de Murrietta Finca Ygay 2001
This is not necessarily what I expect (or at least used to expect) from Murrietta. Quite perfumed and floral, with some nice raspberry and cherry fruit and a touch of marzipan, whilst at the same time meaty/savoury. The palate is high-toned and super-fruity, but is also super-ripe and very concentrated. Admittedly more subtle than some of the wines above and it could turn into an attractive wine with age, but I'd say it needs another 10 years or more to really sing. A halfway house between traditional and modern.

6.  Prado Enea 2001 Bodegas Muga
Eaily the best wine so far - perfumed, savoury and fruity. Subtle oak and simply gorgeous acidity and grippy but fine, spicy tannins. Still on the young side, but with lots of subtlety and elegance and enormous length. Delicious already, but should be magnificent in 10 years.

7.  Coto de Imaz 2001 Union Viti Vinicola
Meaty, savoury, minty, earthy nose with notes of bramble. The palate is a bit sweet, confected and simple, lacking structure and acidity. It isn't a bad wine, but neither is it one I would choose to drink.

8.  Marques de Caceres 2001 Union Viti Vinicola
Simple stuff. Smells a bit winey, but not in any way interesting. The palate has plenty of fruit, but is a bit soupy, with harsh tannins and sticky-out acidity.

9.  Viña Real 1999 CVNE
This is much more like it. A herby, spicy, savoury nose, but attractively fruity and elegant. Subtley oaky, with bright red fruit aromas. Almost Burgundian in style, with delicate fresh and crystallised red fruit flavours and lovely acidity. Already multi-dimensional, complex and a delight to drink, but with plenty of room for further evolution. Cracking wine.

10.  Imperial 1999 CVNE
If Viña Real is Burgundian in style, then this one is Bordeaux - and consequently (for me at least) the less enjoyable of the two. But it's a close call, for this too has plenty going on, with a tight but complex structure and lots of fruit, tobacco and spice. Long and elegant, with a great future.

11.  Viña Albina 1998 Bodegas Riojanas
Aromas of toasted brioche, pepper, balsam, savoury and spice. The fruit is a little muted on the nose, with subtle hints of bramble, but the palate is rich and expansive, without being overpowering, with excellent fruit/tannin/acid structure. Slightly savoury, with a nice sweet and sour finish.Long and really very good.

12.  904 1995 La Rioja Alta
A smoky, red pepper, tobacco and sour fruit nose - instantly appealing. The palate is at the same time rich and delicately stuctured, with rich fruit, exotic spices, appealing oak nuances and a lovely prickle of mouth-watering acidity. It is quite a contrary wine - essentially light and airy, but with considerable concentration and massive length. Superb wine, which may still evolve further, but is just perfect right now.

13.  Campillo 1995
Oh dear - back to modern. Smoky, savoury, rustic and dark, with plenty of bramble and blackcurrant fruit - and totally boring. Not faulty - just boring.

14.  Conde de Valdemar 1994 Familia Martinez Bujanda
A raisiny, porty, almost oxidised style - almost as if the grapes were too ripe when harvested. Lacks freshness and acidity. Mushrooms and Marmite. Old, tired and over the hill.

15.  Monte Real 1994 Bodegas Riojanas
A lovely evolved colour, with orange tinges. Complex aromas of incense, spices, soft red fruits, cedar and forest floor. A really compelling, earthy, elegant wine, with crystallised fruit and peppery flavours. It isn't particularly subtle and displays many of the "faults" inherent in classic, old-fashioned Rioja, but that is why I love it so much. Another gorgeous wine, with plenty of miles left on the clock.

16.  Campo Viejo 1994 Bodegas Artisanas
This is decent, well-made wine, relatively soft and with a touch of elegance, but nothing about it that really excites.

As suggested in the title, this really was a mixed bag. It was a really good lesson in how many (though not all) of the bodegas seem these days to be aiming for a modern, super-ripe, super-concentrated style of wine, with huge fruit profiles which often teeter on the brink of soupiness - and sometimes fall over the brink. I remember many years ago that numerous journalists on this side of the pond were constantly banging on about the need for Rioja to "modernise" and make wines to suit the palates of the masses. Well shame on them, for many of these wines fit that profile all too well - and consequently are of little or no interest to lovers of the "traditional" style. I'm sure Robert Parker loves them too, but the less said about that the better.

Thankfully, a few of the wines were also elegant, delicate, complex and reassuringly traditional. Clearly, it is all about the grower, and the names that stood out for me here were CVNE, La Rioja Alta and Bodegas Riojanas, with an honourable mention for Muga (about which more in Part 2).

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A couple of really wonderful wines

Yes, I know, I know - it's been a while. Quite a long while, in fact, but I guess that is what "retirement" does to you. Not that I've been doing bugger all for the last 2 or 3 weeks.... I've been doing a few jobs around the house (I fitted some shiny new door handles to the upstairs rooms last week!), cooking meals and baking bread, attending wine tastings here and there, preparing updates and new tasting notes for my website, preparing a long overdue newsletter and - thankfully - preparing quite a few wine orders over the last few days. Incidentally, if you are one of the many customers/subscribers/friends who have sent me good wishes for my new "career" over the last few days and weeks, then thank you - they are all very much appreciated.

To tell the truth, although I've been getting on with plenty of the above, I have been taking it *relatively* easy since I gave up the day job. Then again, why shouldn't I - at least for a short while? After all, following 33 years of hard labour I deserved a rest! But now it is time to get a bit more serious about the future - and also to get blogging about wine once again. Here are 2 stunners to begin with.........

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza 2001 Reserva Especial
The term "Especial" denotes a very special year in Rioja - so special, in fact, that La Rioja Alta have only ever used the term for this wine on 3 occasions, namely 1964, 1973 and 2001. And 2001 was indeed a very special year (not just in Rioja, of course, but over many of Europe's fine wine regions). I first tasted this wine in early October, when it blew me (and most others who tasted it) away with it's combination of concentrated, spicy fruit, restrained use of oak and sheer elegance. And since I have now secured a few bottles for myself, I couldn't resist opening one last night. The colour and overall hue is reassuringly light (as befits a wine that has been aged for the best part of 10 years before release (3 years in 4-year-old American oak barrels, the rest in tank and bottle) with a mahogany/blood red core leading to a pale-ish carmine rim. The nose exhibits more oak than I remembered from the previous bottle (different bottling/batch, perhaps?) but the kind of oak that is sure to hit the spot with lovers of traditional Rioja - polished old mahogany, vanilla, leather, cigar box and exotic spices abound. There's also an abundance of sweet, soft red and even white fruit aromas, which follow through on the palate in a rich, ripe, almost overlty sweet way to begin with. In fact, it is in some ways quite different to that previous bottle, which seemed at the time to be in the perfect place, whereas this one seemed a little too young - to begin with, at least. Not that it is too big or tannic, but simply that the fruit is so primary and so sweet. But peel away the layers and you find a wine full of complexity and promise for the future, with a wonderful layer of juicy, tangy acidity that balances things out beautifully. With time in the glass, the fruit really does blossom into something quite light, airy and lovely, whilst those spicy, leathery, meaty notes add yet more interest. And when I say "time in the glass", I really mean 24 hours of air, for this is a wine which really doesn't show it's true colours until the second night - a sure sign that it will evolve for a good number of years in bottle (and in this case, I'd say for at least another 10). It is a truly gorgeous - not to mention reassuringly traditional - Rioja, and I'm glad I have another 3 bottles to tuck away for my future enjoyment. Yum!

Talk about flowers, leather, old wood, forest floor and spice! I should say first and foremost that this is a fundamentally different wine from the Ardanza - for a start, it is made from a 50/50 blend of old vine Grenache and Carignan (the Ardanza is mostly Tempranillo, with just 20% Garnacha), and it is aged for 24 months, partly in barrel (though mostly olderFrench oak) and partly in vat. Furthermore, the fruit profile is more of the black variety (predominantly ripe brambles and blackcurrant) although there's a hint of red cherry and redcurrant in there for good measure. It is also a lot younger, at just 4 years of age, and although it isn't particularly dark in colour, is a relative tooth-stainer. But it lacks for nothing in terms of complexity, elegance, excitement and sheer drinkability - not to mention the ability to age, for it surely has a good few years left in the tank. But it is just so good to drink now, in the way that many young Languedoc wines can be when young. The fruit flavours are ripe and full, with a touch of eau de vie adding both lift and richness to a wine which is simply bursting with life. There's a touch of savouriness, too, though this is a wine which I would describe as essentially feminine, rather than big and masculine. Concentrated elegance is a phrase that springs to mind, with oh-so ripe tannins, allied to juicy, mouth-watering acidity - a beautifully integrated, seamless wine, with no rough edges. Even though I actually sell this wine, I must say that I wasn't expecting it to reach the heights of the Ardanza (at least not at such a young age) but it does, it really does - it really is wonderful! And at £18.89 (roughly the same price as the Ardanza) it is a bit of a bargain. Oh, and it also happens to be both biodynamic and a "natural" wine, with only 10mg/l of sulphur added at the bottling stage. A quite stunning and delightful wine for a quiet Sunday evening.