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Mario Giribaldi Barolo 2014
Azienda Agricola Mario Giribaldi was founded in 1886 by Giovanni Giribaldi and still remains in the hands of the same family three generations later. In 2001 the estate was converted to organic agriculture, achieving certification in 2004, and in 1999 a brand-new winery was built with state-of-the-art equipment. This has allowed the estate to blossom into an exceptional small producer with a clear focus on sustainability and quality. The family now work some 30 hectares of vines across the Langhe region.
Their top wine is their Barolo DOCG which is made in a classic, powerful style with ample ripe fruit character as well as spicy hints from the oak. The grapes are sourced from the Ravera and Cerviano Merli crus where the vineyards sit at 350-400 metres of altitude. After being vinified in stainless steel tanks the young wine is then matured in French oak barrels for 2 years.
On the nose there are intense hints of dark chocolate, ripe berries, and dried herbs while the first sip shows off a generous full body, firm tannins and well-developed structure. The intense dark fruit flavours and tannins make this a great match for red meat dishes like steak. It can also be cellared over the next 8 years or so as it will continue to evolve and develop in the bottle.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
This powerful Cabernet opens with enticing notes of cassis, crushed blackberries and dark plums while on the palate there are hints of cracked black peppercorns, green bell pepper, and sweet spices. The first sip reveals a generous full body, smooth tannins, and a well-developed structure which will help the wine to age gracefully over the next five or so years.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from the 20 year old Campbell vineyard which is planted on the old sand dunes that characterise the land around the town of Knightsen. The white sand reflects sunlight during the summer days, helping the grapes to ripen perfectly, and cooling breezes from the nearby river help to preserve freshness and balance. Before bottling the young wine is aged in oak barrels for 15 months to add extra complexity and depth.
The Jacuzzi Family Vineyards was established in 2005 by Fred and Nancy Cline in homage to Fred’s grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, who with his brothers created the spa baths that bear his name. The property was built in the Tuscan style and modelled on the Jacuzzi family’s ancestral home in Italy. Today Fred and Nancy continue to honour their Italian heritage by making American wines with a Tuscan soul.
Tenuta Ulisse Amaranta Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2017
Founded in 2006, Tenuta Ulisse is one of a new breed of Abruzzo wineries who are making exciting, thoroughly modern expressions of the region’s classic grape varieties. The contemporary winery has its roots in the small vineyard planted near the town of Crecchio by Antonio Ulisse in the early 1900s, but it was only during the 2000s that his grandsons created the estate as it is today.
Tenuta Ulisse sources all of its fruit from three family-owned vineyards which allows them to retain complete control over the whole grape growing process from the care of the vine through to the harvest. The Amaranta Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a stylish expression of the region’s classic black grape with previous vintages awarded 99 points and crowned Best Italian Wine by wine expert Luca Maroni.
On the nose there are abundant aromas of ripe plums, cherries, and sweet liquorice along with hints of baking spice and vanilla from the 12 months of ageing in French and American oak barrels. The generous full body, refined tannins and silky smooth texture make this a fine partner for food with a particular affinity for red meats served in a rich tomato sauce.
Mauro was founded by Mariano García who worked at the legendary Vega Sicilia winery for thirty years as technical manager. The winery is located in Ribera del Duero which is best known for its excellent red wines made from Spain’s classic Tempranillo variety. This bottling is crafted with fruit from Tudela de Duero and Traspinedo where the vines are planted on limestone and clay soils and a small amount of Syrah mixed into the cuvee to add complexity and body.
The grapes are vinified separately by variety and vineyard to give Mariano maximum control over the final composition of the blend. The young wine is then aged in French and American oak barrels for 16 months, polishing and harmonising the different components into a richly-layered and classic-style Spanish red.
The nose opens with seductive notes of dark plum, cassis and blackberry while the first sip reveals a generous full body, silky smooth texture and well-developed tannins. The long, refined finish is seasoned with hints of cigar box and sweet spice from the oak and the bold flavour profile makes this a great match for rich Spanish charcuterie or hearty tomato-based pasta dishes.
Julien Sunier Fleurie 2018
Despite not being born into a grape growing or winemaking family, Julien Sunier quickly fell in love with wine when he started working with Christophe Roumier after leaving school. This was followed by stints in New Zealand and California as well as time spent working for Nicolas Potel in Nuits Saint-Georges. These experiences would prove invaluable in 2008 when Julien was finally able to start his very own winery in Beaujolais.
Julien is hugely passionate about organic farming and natural winemaking which he practices on his three prime vineyard plots in Fleurie, Morgon and Régnié. These hilltop vineyards are planted with old Gamay vines which provide Julien with the perfect raw ingredients for his minimal intervention style of winemaking.
Julien’s Fleurie plot was planted in the 1960s and is very steep so harvesting must be done entirely by hand. The must is fermented using wild yeasts and then very slowly pressed over 24 hours using an ancient traditional vertical press. The young wine is then aged in used Burgundy barrels for 11 months to help preserve the pure varietal character and influence of the granitic soils. The result is an exquisitely-balanced Beaujolais with vibrant freshness, rich red fruit, and delicate mulberry and floral notes reminiscent of fine perfume.
Domaine du Castel Petit Castel 2018
The Petit Castel is the second wine of Domaine du Castel and it is made in a classic Bordeaux-style from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec grapes sourced from the estate’s finest plots. Following vinification the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and then matured in concrete tanks for an additional 4 months before bottling.
On the nose there are seductive hints of crushed dark berries, wild roses, and leather while the first sip reveals a rich full body, smooth tannins, and bright streak of acidity which will help the wine to age gracefully over the next five years or so. The excellent balance between ripe fruit flavours and firm structure make this a great wine to pair with food, especially red meat dishes like a fine steak, beef stew, or even game.
Domaine du Castel was founded in 1988 by Eli Ben Zaken who had emigrated to Israel from Milan and purchased a small farm near Jerusalem. He planted the first modern vineyard in the Judean Hills and received an incredibly positive response to his first wine, the Grand Vin, which he still produces in very limited quantities.