25 Years Auld - Alliance

POSTED ON 26/10/2009

There was only one (wine) show in town last week and that was the party held at the Tate Modern by Alliance Wine to celebrate its 25th anniversary. You could be forgiven for wondering who on earth Alliance is because they’re not high profile wine merchants but a national distributor, one of those unsung heroes that rarely, if ever, get a press mention because they sit in the shadowlands between supplier and retailer. Yes, the wine trade and the press know who they are because some of them, like Richards Walford and Alliance themselves for instance, have a strong portfolio of suppliers.

I must have underestimated the strength of Alliance’s portfolio, because I was reminded just how strong it is thanks to an inspired idea by Giles Cooke, MW, Alliance’s marketing and buying director. ‘We wanted to provide some of our favourite producers with a platform where they could demonstrate both the quality of what they do and also the context within which they make their wine – the idea of 25 Inspired Wines is the result of that process’, said Giles. So 25 of their suppliers showed one of their own wines for tasting before the dinner, pairing it with another wine that had inspired them.

Bruwer RaatsBruwer Raats

One of the positive effects of this exercise was to encourage as many of its suppliers to actually attend the tasting, so there was a cast, if not of thousands, of a handful at least of excellent wine producers, among them, Janice Mcdonald of Stella Bella in Margaret River, Dirk Richter of Max Ferdinand Richter in the Mosel, Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines in the Cape, Stephen Shelmerdine of Shelmerdine in Victoria, Dan Odfjell of Odfjell in Chile, Argentina’s Jose Alberto Zuccardi and Peter Althaus of Domaine A in Tasmania.

Before I get on to the tasting, and there were some inspiring wines on show, I should mention the speeches before the dinner, the first a heartfelt thanks from one of the two founders, Christian Bouteiller (who joined up with Jonathan Kennett in 1984 to start Alliance as a predominantly French operation in Scotland), the second from Giles Cooke himself. Normally you take these speeches with a large pinch of Maldons, but Giles actually reminded us all why we were there (not just hopefully for the rather good dinner put on by the Tate) and the significance of the challenges lying ahead. This is what he said:

‘Like many in the trade, we have lived and breathed the reduction of inventories, sourcing of new, ever cheaper wines at even better quality in order to support our clients whose customers were demanding better value than ever. It’s therefore no surprise that sometimes one loses sight of the values that brought us into the industry in the first place. In our drive to offer ever greater value for money, those producers who offer something hand crafted, unique and high quality get left behind. That feeling you get when you enter the cellar of a great winemaker, where the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, is forgotten’.

Dirk RichterDirk Richter

He went on to stress how the challenge was even greater the case in a time of crisis when consumers flock towards the cheap and the established. ‘Over the coming years we are all likely to be challenged by ever more draconian codes of practice brought on by the anti- drinks lobby, by ever increasing duties levied by a government mired in debt and environmental challenges, the magnitude of which we do not yet know. It is therefore absolutely vital that on occasions such as this we reflect on what makes wine unique, why although we must provide what the consumer wants, we also have a duty to all those daring, inspirational winemakers and producers all around the world to educate the consumer that a little complexity can be exciting, can be great value and can ultimately provide great drinking’. How many distributors, I wonder, can, hand on heart, say that they subscribe to the same ideals.

Although the dinner was excellent, it was the tasting, for me, that stole the show, because most of the producers there had entered into the spirit of things and put up a wine next to theirs which might so easily have overshadowed their own offering. Only a few producers failed to enter into the spirit of the whole thing by putting up two of their own wines (they know who they are) but let’s be charitable for a moment and suggest that perhaps their interpretation of Alliance’s English (they are a northern-based company after all) was less than spot on.

Dan OdfjellDan Odfjell

Without going into the boring detail of every single wine tasted (if you want to see the full list. it’s at the end), I’ll just mention the wines that most impressed me. First of all there was an excellent, refreshingly crisp 2000 Clover Hill Brut from Tasmania, partnered with a toasty, mature 1999 Gosset Grand Millésime Champagne. A good start. Amayna’s Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda in Chile was an attempt at a Graves style, but almost too powerful for its own good. It was completely overshadowed by the magnificently pristine 2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly Fumé Silex. In similar territory, I thought Janice Mcdonalds’s Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Margaret River was beautifully zesty and Graves-like, a true match for the genuine article, a 2000 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Léognan.

Cillar de Silos make a fine, elegant 2006 Ribera del Duero with considerable purity of tempranillo flavour and generously put up alongside it the beautifully controlled, modern cherryish 2005 Contino Reserva Rioja. A Rioja followed this pair, a lovely vanilla and damson-rich 2001 Luis Cañas Reserva Especial Amaren, but the inspiration here was a 1995 Château Haut-Brion, to me a wine of deceptive depth and elegant restraint, and still incredibly youthful after all these years. On to Italy where I enjoyed the 2006 Rapace from Ucceliera in Montalcino, a thoroughly modern, succulently sour cherryish blend of mainly sangiovese with merlot and cabernet . It was daring to put it up against the 2006 Sassicaia terrific wine, and the Sassicaia won – only on points though because £ for £, I’d give it to the Uccelliera.

You can never overlook gentle giant Bruwer Raats, and luckily there was no need to. His 2001 Raats cabernet franc, Stellenbosch, was fantastic, with a lovely cabernet franc fragrance, flavour and textiure, and it was one of the few wines of the evening, which, put up against an acknowledged superior partner, in this case the deceptively concentrated, seamless and subtle 2001 Château Cheval Blanc, was not blown away. Jose Zuccardi shiowed his top of the range red,, the 2006 Zeta, from mendoz, but even he would have had to admit that the wine that inspired him, the 2004 Vega Sicilia Valbuena, was magnificent. In fact this smoky, sexy number, with its smoky paprika, dark chocolate characters and superb savoury acidity, was so gorgeously seductive that for me it was the wine of the night. And that’s irrespective of the superb 2004 Château d’Yquem which Grandjo so generously put up against their 2006 Late Harvest Douro white.

In his speech, Giles Cooke said that Alliance intends to be ‘at the forefront of providing exciting, inspirational and challenging wines from producers willing to be extraordinary. Over our next 25 years Alliance will continue to go beyond boundaries in our desire to exceed the expectations of our suppliers, clients and consumers’. On the strength of the show they put on for the anniversary celebrations, I wouldn’t bet against it happening.

Making piggies of ourselvesMaking piggies of ourselves

The Alliance Tasting Sheet


Clover Hill Brut, Tasmania, Australia, 2000
Technical information
ABV: 13.0% PH: 3.23 Residual Sugar: 6.5 g/l Acidity: 8.1 g/l Grape Variety: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
Wine making notes
The 66 hectare property overlooking Bass Strait has a similar climate to the Champagne region of France. Sourced from pre eminent vineyards in Tasmania, an area becoming acknowledged as the premier location for cool climate sparkling wine in Australia, the vines are close spaced and planted on deep, red volcanic soil in a frost-free amphitheatre, orientated N-S to maximise sunlight exposure.
Slow ripening conditions enable the grapes to develop a full flavour spectrum, resulting in a sparkling wine of richness, concentration and superb structure.
Drink now or will cellar well until 2010.

Gosset Grand Millésime, Champagne, France, 1999
Technical information
ABV: 12% Grape Variety: 56% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir
Wine making notes
Founded in Ay Pierre Gosset in 1584, Gosset is one of the smallest producers of luxury Champagne.
Significantly, and in contrast to virtually all other houses, Gosset Champagnes do not undergo malolactic fermentation, resulting in a heightened acidity, slower maturing wines and that inimitable Gosset style; powerful and full-bodied, of unrivaled richness and staying power.
Will cellar well in the medium term, recommended over 6 years.


Alvarez y Diez Mantel Blanco Verdejo Sauvignon, Rueda, Spain, 2008
Technical information
ABV: 12.5% PH: 3.14 Residual Sugar: 3.5 g/l Acidity: 5.8 g/l Grape Variety: Verdejo
Wine making notes
Grapes are destemmed; pre-crush cold maceration takes place over several hours. Gentle press followed by slow, controlled, cold-fermentation in stainless steel, max.17o.
Each variety is handled separately, to realize its maximum expression. This wine is not aged.
Best enjoyed up to two years from release.

Hermanos Lurton Verdejo, Rueda, Spain, 2008
Technical information
ABV: 13% PH: 3.65 Residual Sugar: 2.2 Acidity: 3.25 Grape Variety: Verdejo & Viura
Wine making notes
The vineyard covers just over 30 hectares and has the advantage of straddling both the Rueda and Toro appellations, allowing them to combine two wineries in one and the same place. The Rueda wines were first vinified in 2005.


Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten, 2008
Technical information
ABV: 13.5% Residual Sugar: 5.8 g/l Acidity: 4.2 g/l Grape Variety: Grüner Veltliner
Wine making notes
Grüner Veltliner from Achleiten is characterised by low yields due to the meagre primary rock soils. In 2008, the grapes for this wine were hand picked at the end of November. After several hours of maceration, the grapes were pressed gently. Before bottling, part of the wine matured in large wooden casks for several weeks.
According to the famous viticulture scientist Goethe, the Grüner Veltliner vine arrived in Austria in 1725, where it quickly replaced the then popular “Heunisch” (“The coarse”). However, the origin of the grape has not been clarified so far. Grüner Veltliner from Wachau convinces through enchanting mineral character and even the most concentrated wines preserve their elegance.
Already offers abundant drinking pleasure, but will continue to gain in complexity over the next 10 to 12 years.

Domäne Wachau
Grüner Veltliner Kabinett Himmelstiege, Austria, 1968
Technical information
ABV: 11.6% Residual Sugar: 10.8g/l Acidity: 7.2g/l Grape Variety: Grüner Veltliner
Wine making notes
“He who toils this vineyard need not fear the depths of hell – in his hand lies the key to St. Peter’s pearly gate.” This historic text about the famous Himmelstiege Vineyard documents how this steep Dürnstein vineyard has been known as “the stairway to heaven” in the Wachau for hundreds of years. “Himmelstiege” represents wines sourced from grapes selected from the terraces of Dürnstein, the same in use at Domäne Wachau today. These wines are distinguished by their clear fruit and mineral expression.
Fermentation occurs in large wine barrels, without specific temperature control, usually about 20°C in the cool cellar. The wine is then matured for two years. No filtration takes place.


Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand, 2009
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.2 Residual Sugar: 3.0 g/l Acidity: 7.1 g/l Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine making notes
The vineyard was initially planted in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling and has remained largely unchanged for over 20 years. The viticulture and winemaking philosophy embraces the structural strengths of the vineyard.
The 2009 Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc has all those nuances that seduced the wine media and consumers all those years ago, along with the individuality of the exciting Dillons Point sub region.

Hugel, Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France, 2007
Technical information
ABV: 13.5% PH: 3.44 Residual Sugar: 6.5 g/l Acidity: 5.22g/l Grape Variety: Gewürztraminer
Wine making notes
Classic "Hugel" wines are made exclusively from grapes purchased from winegrowers under long-term contract, in a dozen of the most favoured localities in and around Riquewihr.
The grapes are taken in small tubs to the presses, which are filled by gravity, without any pumping or other mechanical intervention. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, and then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C).
The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in our cellars until released for sale.


Amayna Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, Chile, 2007
Technical information
ABV: 14.5% PH: 3.25 Acidity: 5.87 Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine making notes
The winery is built on a slope so that only gravity fed, and no pumping at all, is used to move the grapes around, therefore being as gentle with the grapes as possible. 2007 produced 5 tonnes per hectare, at a density of 5,000 plants per hectare.
Grapes were hand picked and harvested on the 15th March. The grapes were fermented for 15 days in new French oak barrels, at a temperature between 19oC and 20oC. The wine is then further aged in the barrel for 12 months.

Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly Fumé Silex, Loire, France, 2007
Technical information
ABV: 12.5% Residual Sugar: (very dry) Acidity: 5.3 g/l Grape Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Wine making notes
Didier Dagueneau was the first vigneron to make Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc in Pouilly sur Loire, first produced in 1985. This cuvée comes from a parcel located on the top of the hill of St-Andelain, exposed west. The soil, flint-clay, is made up of very compact clay with big flints. The vines are around 50 years old
Didier was the first winemaker in Pouilly to vinify his parcels separately to enhance his different soils. 2007 is a reference vintage: nice acidity, very well balanced. Comparable to 2002, with ageing between 15 and 20 years recommended.


Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillion, Margaret River, Australia, 2005
Technical information
ABV: 13.0% PH: 3.15 Residual Sugar: 1.2 g/l Acidity: 7.5 g/l Grape Variety: 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillion
Wine making notes
8ha in size and yielding 5 tonnes/ hectare from an average vine age of 14 years. The Augusta site presents great challenges to the growing of quality grapes. Viticulturally our biggest challenges are canopy and water management, vine balance and the chance that marauding birds can destroy the entire crop in a matter of hours. South easterly winds and extensive cloud cover during the ripening season are the most influential climatic effects
All blocks used to make the Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon are hand - picked and vinified separately. The Baume range for the Sauvignon Blanc is 12.0 to 12.5 and the Semillon 11.5 to 12.0. After cooling overnight, the grapes are whole fruit pressed. The fee run juice is lightly settled then transferred to barrel for fermentation in 100% new French oak barriques. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation, the percentage of new oak is reduced to 50 % for the barrel maturation phase. In December of the vintage year the component wines are racked off gross lees and blended, on the basis of quality and style.

Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France, 2000
Technical information
ABV: 13% PH: 3.11 Residual Sugar: 1.6 g/l Acidity: 4.83 g/l Grape Variety: 83 % Sauvignon Blanc & 17 % Sémillon
Wine making notes
The picking of the white wine grapes began in the first 10 days of September for the Sauvignon Blanc, mid-September foe the Sémillon. The fruit was splendid, showing magnificent potential.
The Sauvignon Blanc must have between 13 and 13.5° alcohol, with total acidity of greater than 5 grams per litre. The Sémillon varied from 12.3 to 12.6°, with between 4.9 and 5.2 grams per litre of total acidity.
As soon as alcoholic fermentation was over, the various lots of wines displayed considerable richness and complexity as well as crystal-clear purity. The final blend was made in February 2001, and 2000 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc ended up with a final breakdown of 83 % Sauvignon Blanc and 17 % Sémillon.
The wine was aged in the finest French oak barrels, 25% of which were new and 75% less than five years old. Bottling took place in early May 2002, and this wine has turned out to be as great as was hoped for.


Weingut Max Ferd. Richter
Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Auslese, Richter, Mosel, Germany, 1999
Technical information
ABV: 9.0% PH: 3.04 Residual Sugar: 87.7 g/l Acidity: 9.1 g/l Sugar free extracts: 27.3 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Riesling
Wine making notes
Grown on clay slate stone with lots of quartz minerals it combines rich aromatic fruit, luscious taste and crisp ripe tartaric acid that concentrates taste and guarantees a long dry lingering finish.
The grapes at harvest in November were mature and healthy, thus taking full advantage of the long ripening season and hang time. Traditional wine making techniques used, natural yeast, cold fermentation in old oak casks (1000 litre Fuder), and blocked fermentation by chilling down. Wine was bottled 17th April 2000.

Weingut Max Ferd. Richter
Mülheimer Helenenkloster, Riesling Spätlese, Nikolaus- Wein Richter, Mosel, Germany, 1970
Technical information
ABV: 7.5%* Residual Sugar: 50 g/l* Grape Variety: Riesling
*Chemical analysis of wine was not introduced into German law until 1971. These are approximate figures.
Wine making notes
Harvest of the Riesling Spätlese took place on 6th December 1970 from the monopole vineyard. Picking grapes so late is unique worldwide. It shows the exceptional role that Riesling, micro climate and slate stone play in the Mosel to produce intense and fruity wines, loaded with fruit flavours and minerals without being dependent on alcohol. Such preconditions are unrivalled.


Buil & Giné, Giné Giné, Priorat, Spain, 2007
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.42 Residual Sugar: <2 g/l Acidity: 5.3 g/l Grape Variety: Grenache & Carignan
Wine making notes
Type of soil used is `Llicorella' (slate from the Paleozoic Era, Carboniferous Period)
Approximately 50% young vines (between 6 and 20 years of age) and 50% old vines, on slopes, from the districts of Bellmunt, Gratallops, La Vilella Baixa, El Molar, La Vilella Alta, El Lloar and Torroja. The different varieties are separately fermented. Maceration is long, at a temperature of 26oC to 28oC, followed by the malo-lactic fermentation.
Will cellar well for up to three years after elaboration.

Doña Beatriz Verdejo, Fermentado en Barrica, Rueda, Spain 2006
Technical information
ABV: 13.0% Acidity: 5.8 g/l Grape Variety: Verdejo
Wine making notes
Verdejo’s grapes grow north of Spain’s Segovia province. Crop surface is about 160 Ha. Vineyards are aged between 40 and 120 years.
Soil is sandy with gravel over clay underground. Thermal oscillation between day and night gives the grapes unique flavours.
Grapes are selected and picked, with an excellent ripeness at the end of September. Grapes are destemmed and put in a pneumatic press where they are lightly pressed. When solid remainders are removed the grapes are placed in new French oak barrels for the fermentation process. Wine remains in contact with its lees during six months using batonnages every fifteen days.


Cillar de Silos Tinto, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.67 Residual Sugar: 4.65 g/l Acidity: 1.49 g/l Grape Variety: Tempranillo
Wine making notes
Current signature wine of Cillar de Silos. Cillar de Silos has great structure and firmness but it is swathed up in the silkiest of clothes. Low yielding vines, ripe fruit and then barrel fermentation and maturation all lead to a wine with great texture and charm.
The Crianza style with moderate oak and ageing highlights the pure style of Ribera del Duero, with less wood and oxidisation than with the more traditional Rioja style
Drink now or will cellar well in the medium term.

Contino, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain, 2005 (different vintage from booklet)


Luis Canas Reserva Especial Amaren, Rioja, Spain, 2001
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.63 Residual Sugar: 2.8 g/l Acidity: 5.4 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Tempranillo
Wine making notes
Luis Cañas is one of Rioja's top bodegas with a string of awards to their name. Founded in 1928, the bodega is run by the son of Luis Canas, Juan Luis who has had the vision to install viticultural and vinification protocols based on uncompromising quality.
The ‘Amaren’ comes from finest grapes in the Rioja estate, handpicked from 60-year-old vines cultivated under very strict controls. Fermentation lasts 7 days, temperature controlled at 28o. The wine then spends 18 months in new French oak barrels.
Drink now or will cellar well until end 2015.

Chateau Haut-Brion 1er Cru Classe, Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux, France, 1995
Technical information
ABV: 13.1% Residual Sugar: 1.2 Acidity: 3.58 g/l Grape Variety: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot & 18% Cabernet Franc
Wine making notes
1995 was a precocious year. The winter was mild and the spring was hot and dry. The bud burst and the flowering was homogeneous. June, July and August were characterised by hot temperatures and no rain.
Some of the vines with superficial roots, as well as the young vines suffered from the dryness. Harvest itself was perfectly ripe and sound, although September was cooler than usual and rainy in the middle of the month.
There is a lot of charm in this bottle which could be consumed either in the next few years or be kept in the cellar as the wine will age remarkably.


Collección Jaime Rodríguez, Bodegas Remelluri, Rioja, Spain, 2004
Technical information
ABV: 14.5% PH: 3.71 Residual Sugar: 2.1 g/l Acidity: 5.7 g/l Grape Variety: 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, 5% Graciano
Wine making notes
The unique and intense Tempranillo grape used in production is what lends the wine its structure, bouquet and ageing potential. A high percentage of Garnacha grapes grown in poor, low-yielding soil have resulted in an abundance of full-bodied, complex aromas. The Graciano grape gives this wine its sublime body and colour.
Precise and exact ageing in new wood barrels 20 months in new barrels (93 % French oak – 7% American oak) has served to enhance and temper the superb sensations and qualities found in this “Collección.”

Viña Tondonia Reserva, Bodegas López Heredia, Rioja, Spain, 2000
Technical information
ABV: 12.5% Residual Sugar: (very dry) Acidity: 6.0g/l Grape Variety: Tempranillo (75%), Garnacha (15%), Graciano & Mazuelo (10%)
Wine making notes
Several bad frosts through March and April did not affect the quality or quantity of the harvest; 995.044 kilos across the four vineyards were harvested in 2000. This was considered a record year in terms of quantity. In relation to quality it was a very good year. The harvest began 28th September, in advance of the average Rioja circa October 12th.
The maturation of the fruit was irregular this year, which lead to a lengthy harvest – lasting until 5th November. As a result of this lengthy harvest, very healthy and matured grapes were gathered with an exceptionally high quality.
Red grapes are destemmed before going to the fermentation vats. Fermentation occurs while the liquid is in contact with the skins. The must is fermented in large oak vats, the largest with a capacity of 240 hectolitres. The tumultuous fermentation usually lasts about seven days. Before initiating the second fermentation, the wine is drained from the vat in order to separate solids from liquids. This second fermentation takes place in Bordeaux-type oak barrels, and can take up to five or six months.


Manga del Brujo, El Escoces Volante, Calatayud, Spain, 2007
Technical information
ABV: 14.3% PH: 3.66 Residual Sugar: > 2 g/l Acidity: 6.5 g/l Grape Variety: Garnacha, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Monastrell
Wine making notes
2007 is the 4th vintage of the second cuvee dedicated to the history and culture of Calatayud. Manga del Brujo is designed to be a more serious wine with a style and structure more suited to food. From this perspective we have used barrel components with higher toast and parcels with more tannic structure and minerality.
The Garnacha element was carefully sourced from only the highest altitude vineyards on the slopes of Monte Armantes, predominantly from the Campillo zone of vineyards. Yield for the Garnacha did not exceed 18hl per hectare. The Tempranillo was sourced from only two to three selected parcels. Average vine age of 18-25 years.
Careful temperature controlled fermentation and the collaboration of New World trained winemakers and local knowledge has produced a full bodied, distinctive Rhone blend which marries the Old and New World in terms of style but with a slant towards a meatier, more structured wine.

3000 Años, Norrel Robertson MW/Luis J Perez, Bullas, Spain, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.69 Residual Sugar: 2.55g/l Acidity: 5.63 g/l Grape Variety: 50% Ancient Vine Monastrell, 50% Syrah
Wine making notes
Monastrell: Bunches were passed over a selection belt to optimise quality and then crushed to tank to and held at below 10 degrees celsius to ́cold soak ́for up to 10 days. Temperature was then allowed to rise allowing a wild fermentation to commence. The individual tanks were then inoculated with Rhone isolated yeasts. Tanks were then plunged and gently pumped over to obtain gentle extraction. A handful of tanks were also allowed an extended maceration after fermentation to add weight and complexity. Syrah:
A small cuvee of the best tanks (9000 litres) was blended and put to barrel to conduct malolactic fermentation. 100% new French oak was chosen with a variety of coopers (traditionally favoured for Pinot Noir wines) with low to medium toast so as not to dominate the wine. Similarly a selection of larger size barrels (500 litre) was chosen to avoid oxidation and to respect the typicity of the Monastrell and Shiraz grapes. After malo in barrel wines received batonage via rotation of the barrels which were kept on runners to ensure a complete mixing of wine and lees, as the rest. Age of vines Monastrell - 70-100 years, Syrah - 12 years.
Aged for 14 months in French oak and 6 months in the bottle.


Uccelliera Rapace, Uccelliera, Tuscany, Italy, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14.5% PH: 3.62 Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/l Acidity: 6.13 g/l Grape Variety: 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine making notes
The vineyards are situated in Castelnuovo dell’ Abate, at elevations of 150 – 350 meters, on well exposed hill slopes south-east of Montalcino.
Maturation takes place in small French oak barrels for a minimum of 18 months. Further 6 months spent in bottle before release.

Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany, Italy, 2006 Technical information
ABV: 13.5% PH: 3.59 Residual Sugar: 1.4 g/l Acidity: 5.6g/l Grape Variety: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc
Wine making notes
Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel vats. The wine is then aged in French oak barriques (one third new) for 24 months and then refined in the bottle for 6 months prior to release.


Raats Cabernet Franc, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2001
Technical information
ABV: 13.5% PH: 3.48 Residual Sugar: 1.8 g/l Acidity: 5.9 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Franc
Wine making notes
Grapes are sourced from old vines from three vineyards in Stellenbosch, all characterised by their complex soils. All grown from decomposed dolomite granite. The vineyard is north east facing at an altitude of 200m. One of the 3 vineyards is bush vine. The other two are trellis. In 2001 the vineyard was 17 years old.
2001 was an exceptionally cool vintage. There was a long growing season and the fruit got to full maturity at a low sugar level, with very good acidity.
All fruit was hand picked and hand sorted at the cellar before vinification. Once the fruit was sorted it was cold soaked at 12 degrees for 7 days and then fermentation commenced.
Raats Family had a special toasting process developed by coopers, which has a medium toasting, and does not give any aggressive oak flavour. It can therefore be matured for longer without over oaking.

Château Cheval Blanc, 1er Grand Cru Classé A, St Emilion, Bordeaux, France, 2001
Technical information
ABV: 13.5% PH: 3.65 Residual Sugar: 2.2 g/l Acidity: 3.25g/l Grape Variety: 66% Merlot & 35% Cabernet Franc
Wine making notes
The single block of Cheval Blanc’s 37 hectares combines a top quality wine growing soil with an original mix of grapes. The soils and subsoil’s of Cheval Blanc display the textual variety found in the alluvial deposits of the Isle River. The average age of the vines is currently 40 years.
In 2001, yields only reached 32 hectoliters per hectare for the Cabernet Franc and 39 hectoliters for the Merlot.


Land’s End Syrah, Cape Agulhas, South Africa, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14.2 % PH: 3.40 Residual Sugar: 2.0 g/l Acidity: 5.4 g/l Grape Variety: Syrah
Wine making notes
Lands End wines are made in the most non-interventionist manner. The winemaker deliberately allows nature to guide him in sculpting the wines. Phenolic ripeness, correct sugar levels and a quality before quantity approach allow only the best fruit to come into the cellar.
This vineyard in Elim at our Land’s End farms is 8km from the sea and the cool maritime influence has a profound influence on the wine’s flavour profile. The grapes were picked at optimum ripeness at between 25 and 26°B. The grapes where fermented at 28°C in large bins with frequent punch-downs and then aged in 2nd Fill French oak barrels for 18 months.

Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage, Rhône, France, 2006 Technical information
ABV: 13.13% PH: 3.72 Residual Sugar: 0.8 g/l Acidity: 3.55 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Syrah
Wine making notes
From his 20 hectares in Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot produces some of the most sought-after wines of the entire AOC. Alain is a self-taught grower and winemaker who began producing wine under his own name in the mid- 1980s. This wine spends 12 months in new and old barrels.


Famille Quiot
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Cuvée Exceptionnelle, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Famille Quiot, Rhône, France, 2001
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.65 Residual Sugar: 1.40 g/l Acidity: 3.89 g/l Grape Variety: Grenache & Syrah
Wine making notes
'Si le mistral s'en mêle, les vendanges seront belles' (If the mistral blows, the harvest will be good). It did blow - it's been 30 years since the region has had such high winds during the harvest, with the mistral reaching speeds of over 50km/hr on some days. The cooling effect of this resulted in good concentration, and along with the fresh nights and sunny days the grapes reached good maturity.
Although the yield is down, especially for Syrah, the concentration of colour is higher than the last ten years and the level of acidity is good. The grapes arrived in a healthy state and there is good potential, particularly for the reds. Concerning the Vinification of this cuvee, virtually total de- stemming takes place, pumping over twice a day. Two to three weeks are spent in concrete vats, followed by 18 months maturation in vats and ‘foudres.’ It is a cuvee that Quiot produce only for the best vintage and that it is the selection of the best tanks that we’ll age in wood during 18 to 24 months.
Drink now or will cellar well until 2013.

Neige, Ice Cider, Quebec, Canada Technical information
ABV: 12.0% Residual Sugar: 150 g/l Acidity: 10 – 12 g/l Apple Variety: 80% McIntosh & 20% Spartan
Wine making notes
Yield: 1L (0, 26 gallon) = approx. 14kg (31lbs) of selected apples.
Neige (which means snow) is made from apples harvested in the fall and pressed at Christmas time. Their juice is then kept outside in the freezing winter cold, in order to naturally separate the sugar from the water through the process known as cryo-concentration. This is the way we then obtain our precious syrup, which we let slowly ferment over a period of 6 to 7 months.
Favourable microclimate for growing apples, due to its good balance of sun, rain and snow.
Although Neige is ready for immediate drinking, it has the capacity to benefit from ageing and can be enjoyed for many years to come (2008– 2016)


Odfjell, Odfjell Vineyards, Maule, Chile, 2005 Technical information
ABV: 15.0% PH: 3.37 Residual Sugar: 3.47 g/l Acidity: 4.08 g/l Grape Variety: Carignan
Wine making notes
The grapes were hand-picked using 15 kg trays and were not crushed on reception to the winery; the clusters were only de-stemmed. The whole berries had four to five days of cold maceration at 14°C prior to fermentation and the total winemaking process lasted 35 days. Fermentation with native wild yeasts took place in small T-Bins of 800 kgs each. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation took place in barrels.
Aged for 24 months in new French oak barrels. This wine has not been filtered or stabilized.

Chateau Troplong Mondot, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St. Émilion, Bordeaux, France 1995
Technical information
ABV: 14.5% PH: 3.55 Residual Sugar: > 2 g/l Grape Variety: 70 % Merlot, 15 % Cabernet Franc & 15 % Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine making notes
The vineyard still stands at 30 hectares at the top of Mondot. The soils are the typical clay over limestone, with patches of flint, and the vines predominantly Merlot which accounts for 90%, with 5% each of the two Cabernets. They have an average age of 35 years, although some have achieved an impressive 90 years. The fruit is naturally hand-harvested, then fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, followed by malolactic in oak, where the wine rests for between 12 and 24 months depending on the vintage.
1995 was another early-ripening year, comparable with 1990. In July and August, there were high temperatures with no rainfall; it was a scorching, dry summer that produced good ripening conditions for the grapes. September was cool and wet, with heavy rainfall concentrated in the period between 6 and 19 September.


Zeta, Familia Zuccardi, Mendoza, Argentina, 2006 Technical information
ABV: 14.5% PH: 3.5 Residual Sugar: 2.6 g/l Acidity: 5.3 g/l Grape Variety: 64% Malbec & 36% Tempranillo
Wine making notes
The harvest is 100 % manual in small boxes of just 18 kilos each. The vineyards are around 35 years old. The grapes checked by hand twice, then make their way through a destemmer and are gently crushed. Fermentation takes place in small stainless steel tanks, with every day pigeage and delestage. Skin maceration for 25 days and the malolactic fermentation is performed in the barrels.
The wine is then aged for 14 months in French oak for the Malbec and American oak for the Tempranillo. Then the winemaker will make the blend and the wine spends a further 24 month in the bottle.
The wine could be cellared for 10 to 15 years.

Vega Sicilia Valbuena, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 2004 Technical information
ABV: 14.5% Residual Sugar: 1.3 g/l Acidity: 6.38g/l Grape Variety: 90% Tinto Fino, 10% Merlot & Malbec
Wine making notes
The estate has a plantation of 250 hectares of vineyard, which contains 80% of the autochthonous tinto fino variety or Tempranillo de la Ribera, and the rest is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. The soils are clayey-limestone, with brown-grey streaks, and an alluvial area.
The alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats and usually lasts fifteen days; the maximum temperature it may reach is 32 degrees. Then, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in cement vats. The wine spends 16 months in new barrels (60% rivet American, 40% rivets French), before bottling, in May of 2007.


Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon, Tasmania, Australia, 1998 Technical information
ABV: 13.8 % PH: 3.78 Acidity: 5.4 g/l Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc
Wine making notes
All grapes are crushed into stainless steel vats in the gravity fed winery. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel vats. The closely controlled malolactic fermentation which follows, transforms harsh malic acids into softer lactic acid, while adding complexity to young wines.
This wine was made using the classical Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc and was matured in new French oak for 24 months. During this time the wine was racked 8 times and bottled unfiltered. The wine was only released after a further 12 months in our cellars in September 2001.
Can be drunk now but will enjoy a long life. Cellaring for up to 10 years is recommended, optimum drinking 2008-2018. There were 14, 400 Bottles and 400 magnums of the 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon produced.

Château Mouton Baronne Phillipe “En Homage à Pauline” 5ème Cru Classé, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France, 1985
Technical information
ABV: 12.25% Residual Sugar: >1 g/l Acidity: 3.43 g/l Grape Variety: 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc & 19% Merlot
Wine making notes
In spite of some storms, the good weather arrives in July, follow-up of the dryness in August (only 2 days of rain in the month). The sunning was completely exceptional, and 1985 was the driest year ever recorded. This time of the year was particularly favorable for the vine and its resultant condition. Semi-ripening was noted on August 16 for the red vines, and therefore lead to a harvest of quality, the vineyard not having suffered from the dryness. The good weather continued, bringing easy conditions of harvest and a quality of grapes of very high level.
Grape harvest took place from September 30 to October 11, a variety of Cabernet Sauvignon, 61%, Cabernet Frank, 20%, & Merlot, 19%. 324.600 bottles were produced from this vintage giving a wine with beautiful dress ruby sinks and purplish reflections.


Majella Malleea, Coonawarra, Australia, 1998
Technical information
ABV: 14.0% PH: 3.58 Residual Sugar: 3.1 g/l Acidity: 6.58 g/l Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz
Wine making notes
Winemaker Bruce was taken with the idea of creating a super premium blend. We'd resisted this for a while but in 1996 we let him have his head. His creation was so wonderful that we literally threw money at it - especially in the oak department. The wine was named "Malleea", an aboriginal word meaning "green paddock", and was released in June 1998. The critics have so far acclaimed "The Malleea" by Majella as one of Australia's great red wines.
We use the ripest parcels of fruit from our oldest vines, ferment them gently in our modern fermentation cellar, and then finish off the ferment in new French oak hogsheads. The wine is then aged for another 29 months in these barrels before bottling.
Will cellar well in the long term, 10+ years.

Wynns, John Riddoch Cabernet, Coonawarra, Australia, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14 % PH: 3.46 Residual Sugar: 0.0 g/l Acidity: 7.1 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine making notes
First made in 1982, the John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon was conceived as a flagship wine for the Wynns portfolio.
John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon is made in small quantities from the best fruit available grown on the estate's extensive Cabernet plantings. It has since become the definitive Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and it is arguably richer and more concentrated than any other wine in the region.
Made only in years when grapes of extraordinarily high quality are available, less than one per cent of the top Cabernet grapes are used to make it.
A dry, warm winter promoted good bud burst followed by a spring with limited frost concerns, which meant overall vine health was excellent. January was hot and dry, tempered by a cool February that steadied ripening. Warm weather at harvest ensured full flavour development. Harvest was over by 19 April.
The wine spent 22 months in 100% new French oak.


Shelmerdine Merindoc Shiraz, Heathcote, Australia, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 14.5 % PH: 3.56 Residual Sugar: <2 g/l Acidity: 6.6 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz
Wine making notes
The Merindoc Vineyard Shiraz fruit is from a small, amphitheatre shaped block of 7.4 acres nestled in the southern foothills of the Heathcote region. The soils are granitic; ironstone washed through with granite sand over yellow and black cracking clays. The area's ancient bright red Cambrian soils and moderate climate sees a style of red wines being crafted that, while classically Australian in fruit intensity can tend towards the more savoury, spicy and supple European style.
After hand-harvesting the smallest berries from the block, the 3.5 tonne parcel was delivered to winemaker Sergio Carlei and vinified in a single wooden fermenter with indigenous yeasts over a period of more than 30 days. It was then basket pressed and transferred to French oak from several different coopers and matured for 14 months before being blended and bottled under screw cap without fining or filtration.

Jasmin, Côte Rôtie, Rhône, France, 2006 Technical information
ABV: 12.5 % Grape Variety: 100% Syrah
Wine making notes
Wine has been made on the 'roasted slopes' of Côte Rôtie since Roman times. Pliny the Elder referred favourably to the local wine as pictatum because of its concentrated pitchy characteristics.
Hand harvested grapes undergo a very traditional fermentation and 3 week cuvaison in cement vats (since 1996 the grapes have been de-stemmed which has improved colour). The grapes from Patrick's 8 different lieu-dits are vinified separately prior to blending at the end of December. The wine is then aged for up to 2 years in oak barrels (with up to 25% being new, originating from France, Russia & the USA). Half of the wine is racked into 228 litre barrels and half into 590 litre demi-muids. There is no fining and only a light filtration.
Approximately 23,000 bottles are produced in a typical vintage.
Approachable at 3-5 years of age this is a wine for medium-term consumption (between 5 & 10 years from vintage) although superior vintages can age well for 20+ years.


Two Hands
Samantha’s Garden Shiraz, Two Hands, Clare Valley, Australia, 2004
Technical information
ABV: 16.0 % PH: 3.42 Residual Sugar: 0.6 g/L Acidity: 7.1 g/L Grape Variety: 100% Shiraz
Wine making notes
In 2004, Samantha’s Garden was a single vineyard wine. The fruit came from a 12 year old Shiraz block in Watervale, a small valley in the centre of the Clare region of South Australia. The fruit was machine harvested in the cool of the night, de-stemmed and crushed into and fermented in 5 tonne open top fermenters.
Pumped over regularly; three daily during peak fermentations to extract colour and tannin. Following 18 days of maceration the free run was drained to tank. The skins were then pressed and the pressings transferred to the same tank as the free run. After 24 hours the wine was rough racked to 100% 1year old French Hogsheads. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel. Minimal fining and non filtered. Bottled after 16 months oak maturation.

Volnay 1er Cru ‘Clos de Chênes’, Remoissenet, Burgundy, France, 1978
Technical information
ABV: 13.0% Grape Variety: Pinot Noir
Wine making notes
Most of the vines are quite old and maintained within rigorous standards. Generally speaking the winery insists on a policy of low yields. Green harvests are often applied in July, which, for certain vintages has become essential. During the harvest, the grapes are exclusively hand picked, transported in aerated grape boxes ; when arriving at the cuverie, grapes are sorted out systematically by hand on a sorting table. For red wines, grapes partially or totally separated from their stems will begin their fermentation in a strictly natural way, no yeasting but temperature control. The total cuvaison varies between 12 and 19 days from a wine to the other with punching of the cap 3 times at least. Musts then go through a slight pressing.
After settling of the juice, the wine is placed in casks of oak. The new casks are selected and made from French oak generally coming from Allier. We order a 2 to 3 years drying programme with rotation on pile of the staves. The toasting is always moderate. The maturing process is made in a proportion from 15 to 35 % of new oak, the rest in 1 to 4 wines old casks.


Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon, Napa Valley, USA, 2005
Technical information
ABV: 15.3 % PH: 3.64 Residual Sugar: 5.0 g/l Acidity: 5.94 g/l Grape Variety: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine making notes
Well-drained, lightly colored, gravelly soils with high mineral, low organic content, situated on the Oakville bench.
Extended cool weather and rains in spring resulted in late bud break in Napa Valley. A long, temperate growing season followed however, allowing for slow, full and even ripening of the fruit and development of tannins. Harvest of cabernet sauvignon began later than usual, running from October 11 through November 2.
• Hand-harvested grapes • Fermented in closed-top stainless steel fermentors with indigenous
yeasts • 5 day cold soak, 39 days on skins • Spontaneous malolactic fermentation in barrels • Aged 20 months in French oak barrels; 100% new • Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon • Unblended, unfined and unfiltered; bottled August 2007

Arvay Tokaji Aszu, 6 Puttonyos, Tokaji, Hungary, 2000 Technical information
ABV: 10.1 % Residual Sugar: 206 g/100ml Acidity: 4.8 g/l Grape Variety: Furmint (90%) and Hárslevelü (10%)
Wine making notes
• Vine age: 30-35 years • Site: Hillside; south-eastern, southern and south-western exposure • Soils: Volcanic soils (zeolite, riolite, tufas) and loess • Yield: 1.9 tons/acre
• Harvest dates: November 10 – December 20, 2000
• Growing season: Bud break came early, in mid-April. Summer was hot and dry, with less than 21 inches of rainfall before veraison, and was followed by a very long, warm autumn. This weather pattern, combined with shoot selection and cluster thinning to seven clusters or less per vine, resulted in wines that, while slightly lower in acidity, are very concentrated with striking minerality.
• Hand harvested grapes for the base wine • Individually hand harvested aszú berries • Whole cluster press for the base wine • Barrel fermented with indigenous yeast; 8 months to completion • Aged 36 months in new oak; 55% Hungarian, 30% French, 15%
American • Bottled December 2004 • Ageability: 30-50 years


Gutiérrez Colosia Palo Cortado Reserva Familiar, Jerez, Spain
Technical information
ABV: 22.0 % PH: 3.14 Residual Sugar: 5.0 g/l Acidity: 8.74 g/l Grape Variety: Palomino
Wine making notes
Oxidated wine with the characteristics of old Oloroso, for structure and roundness, and the excellence of an amontillado on the nose. Very old wine aged in the Solera and Criadera system in American oak barrels.
Each cask is placed, one in top of the other. When wine is drawn off from the Solera cask, this is replaced by wines which trickle down from the cask on top of and so on successively. Casks are never emptied.
Own notes

Oloroso, Sangre y Trabajadero, Jerez, Spain Technical information
ABV: 18 % PH: 3.12 Residual Sugar: 5.0 g/l Acidity: 6.0 g/l
Wine making notes
Oxidated wine aged in the Solera and Criadera system in American oak barrels. Each cask is placed, one in top of the other. When wine is drawn off from the Solera cask, ground row, this is replaced by wines which trickle down from the cask on top of it and so on successively. Casks are never emptied.


Grandjo Late Harvest, Real Companhia Velha, Douro, Portugal, 2006
Technical information
ABV: 11.5 % PH: 3.37 Residual Sugar: 157.5 g/l Acidity: 7.28 g/l Grape Variety: Moscatel, Gouveio, Viosinho, Donzelinho
Wine making notes
Grandjó Late Harvest is produced from rigorously hand-selected Semillon grapes affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea. A natural phenomenon known as “noble-rot”, the resulting sweet wines have unctuous flavours and a long glycerine-like finish.
The levels of rainfall stored during the winter were within the normal figures for the area, favouring the subsequent vegetative and productive development of the vines. During spring, in the active phase of the vegetative cycle of the vineyard, the rainfall levels were just above the usual for the region. Small rainfalls during August, coupled with normal temperature ranges for that period, were favourable for an adequate course of maturation.
The grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press. Fermentation starts in stainless steel tanks, at a controlled temperature. Ageing takes place in American and French oak barrels for 12 months.

Chateau D’Yquem, Sauternes 1er Cru Classé Supérieur, Bordeaux, France, 2004
Technical information
ABV: 13.5 % Residual Sugar: 129 g/l Acidity: 4.8 g/l Grape Variety: Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc
Wine making notes
With six waves of picking spread over seven weeks and twenty five working days, the 2004 vintage was complex, but well-rounded. It reflects the full gamut of Yquem’s terroirs. Careful picking in the vineyard was followed by strict selection in the cellar after numerous blind tastings. The end result is that only the cream of the crop was deemed up to Yquem’s draconian quality criteria in 2004.
After a cold start to the year bud break was late (the beginning of April). However June was hot and dry, bringing about perfect flowering and every indication of a potentially large crop. While the hailstorm in mid-July only affected slightly, tropical weather in early August (it rained two days out of three!) caused worrying pockets of ‘early rot’ to appear.
The vintage was rather spread out, which made for a good balance between sweetness and acidity, with attractive, perfectly focused ripe fruit flavours.
2004 Yquem has been excellent from the very beginning: expressive and silky on the palate with plenty of volume.

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