The vineyards are situated in the hills outside Verona in the Valpantena Valley. Cool currents blow down the valley from the foothills of the Dolomites, which helps to moderate the climate, enabling the grapes to ripen slowly. This helps the grapes to retain their aromatic compounds and acidity. The soil is poor and chalky so the vines are put under stress helping to produce superior quality fruit.
The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed, crushed and pumped to stainless steel tanks purpose built for fermenting red wine. The must was left in contact with the skins for seven days, then fermentation took place at up to 30°C. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tank in which the wine was held until bottling.
A lively, youthful ruby wine with fresh cherry aromas that develop into a rich cherry pie character in the mouth. Body comes from soft, supple tannins that match the concentrated fruit through to the characterful finish.
El Coto was founded in 1970 in Rioja Alavesa and has grown from modest beginnings into one of the best known Rioja producers. Today El Coto has over 700 hectares of vineyard in production across the three Rioja DOCa sub-zones of Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. They also source grapes from all three areas, but mostly from Rioja Alavesa. Head winemaker Cesar Fernandez oversees production, starting with hand-picking into 350 kg crates to ensure the grapes arrive at the winery in pristine condition. Modern and intelligently designed, the emphasis in the winery is on temperature control and gentle handling of the grapes.
The grapes for the Verdejo are sourced from El Coto’s Finca Carbonera estate, which reaches 850 metres above sea level, making it the highest vineyard in Rioja and ideal for the new white grape varieties approved by the Rioja Regulatory Board. A wide diurnal temperature range aids the slow steady ripening of the grapes, meaning they retain fresh acidity and perfumed aromatics.
Half of the must was cold soaked, while the other half was pressed directly under inert gas. Fermentation took place at 16ºC in stainless steel in order to retain freshness. Once alcoholic fermentation had finished, the wine remained on its lees for one month to add roundness to the palate.
Pale yellow with a green hue, this wine displays aromas of fresh citrus fruits and white peach alongside floral notes. Perfumed and zingy, this elegant Verdejo culminates in a long refreshing finish.
Founded in 1995, Calmel & Joseph is a négociant house specializing in Languedoc-Roussillon wines from private wineries from across the region. Over the years, they have built close personal relationships with a large number of growers from all appellations. Convinced of the extraordinary potential of this region, oenologist, Laurent Calmel, and Jerome Joseph work together on the vinification, blending and ageing of wines with the common purpose of demonstrating the little known, yet unique quality of these Mediterranean terroirs.
With its attractive pale straw colour, Villa Blanche Chardonnay has a very expressive nose of white peach and dried fruits. Full and round in the mouth, it is well-balanced with floral notes combining with apricot flavours. The finish is spicy, with the lightest touch of wood.
The grapes are picked at night, in two stages. The first harvest is done at a relatively early stage in maturity, to keep freshness in the wine. Then 15 days later a second harvest is done, to get good concentration and varietal aromas. Fermentation is temperature-controlled at 15°C (no malolactic fermentation). A third of the wine is aged for three months in old oak.
Winemaker Filippo Baccalaro, a native of Piemonte, has been working in Puglia for almost two decades. He was attracted by the rich, ripe flavours of the fruit, and the ability to capture these flavours with minimal use of technology and a lot of know-how. Filippo has the latter, as is illustrated by these wines.
The vineyards are mostly situated in the communes of Manduria and Sava and are owned by growers with whom Filippo has been working for many years. Production is lower than its potential, which ensures the best quality grapes are selected. 80% of the grapes come from old bush vines and the rest from trained vines that are at least 20 years old.
The grapes were gently pressed and cooled to 10ºC for a maceration period of 10-12 days with regular pumping over. Yeasts were added to start fermentation, which took place under temperature controlled conditions of up to 20ºC. The wine was then transferred to oak barriques for a short time for fining, before bottling.
Deep ruby red colour with violet reflections. This wine has red berry fruit perfumes with a hint of spice. Full-bodied with firm tannins, this wine is well balanced with lots of ripe fruit flavours.
The Gran Sasso wines are made by winemaker Filippo Baccalaro and display a freshness and directness of fruit that sets them apart from other wines from this area.
Most Montepulciano at this price comes either from negociants buying bulk wines or from co-ops, neither of whom work as well or as closely with their growers as Filippo and his team. The grapes for this wine are grown in 15-20 year old vineyards in the production zones of Ortona, San Salvo and Pollutri.
The grapes were handpicked. On arrival at the winery, only 10% of grapes were put in fermentation tanks with their stems – all others were destemmed before fermentation and skin contact that lasted for 15 days. Continuous racking and punch-downs took place in stainless steel and concrete tanks at a controlled temperature of 28°C. Malolactic fermentation took place in 80% stainless steel tanks and 20% oak barrels.
Made in an early-drinking style, this wine is ruby red with violet highlights. Cherry, sour cherry and blackberry aromas are supported with an intense balsamic note. The palate is full bodied with good, supple tannins supporting the juicy fruit. Well-balanced with good structure and a long finish.
Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero, the duo behind A Mano, have worked in the wine business for most of their lives.
Elvezia is a northern Italian wine marketing expert and Mark is a Californian winemaker. They fell in love with Puglia and, when they decided to start their own label, made it their home. They pay high prices for the best grapes from 70-100 year old vines and focus solely on quality and a modern style. After over a decade of vintages, they are now getting access to some of Salento’s best grapes.
The Negroamaro grapes for this wine are grown in an 11 hectare vineyard, in the heart of Salice Salentino. An old vineyard, it is dry farmed and trained on trellises to prevent the sensitive grapes suffering from sunburn.
On arrival at the cellars, the grapes were pressed, destemmed and cooled to 18°C and the must was allowed to ferment at its own pace. After racking in mid-November, the wine remained in an underground cement tank where the temperature did not exceed 10°C until bottling under stelvin closure.
Deep ruby in the glass. Aromas begin with crushed berries, black cherries and spices followed by a light floral note. The exuberant palate is full and rich with lingering spice on the finish.
The second wine of Chateau Monconseil Gazin based in the village of Plassac.
The vineyards are situated on the hillside above the village, just to the south of Blaye. Here the clay/limestone soils provide good drainage and encourage a deep root system for the vines. The vineyards have a south/south west aspect giving excellent conditions for ripening the grapes.
Fermentation is in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats followed by 12 months in mainly old oak.
A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine is very dark in the glass with lots of red berry aromas. The palate is full, with juicy fruit and firm tannins. Very well made and excellent value claret.
The wines from the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise appellation are created by adding a neutral grape spirit to the partially fermented grape juice of the Muscat grape to produce what the French call a vin doux naturel (naturally sweet wine). The addition of the spirit kills off the yeasts and leaves the wine high in alcohol (15%) as well as high in residual sugar.
The house and cellars of Mme Castaud-Maurin’s lovely property are in the village of Beaumes de Venise itself, while the 17 hectares of Muscat à petits grains, 25% of which are in fact ‘noirs’, are on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux – a quite beautiful situation.
The wine has a fine delicate character of almonds and apricots, and the use of black Muscat gives it a lovely orange tint in the glass.