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Valenciso Rioja Rosé 2019

R250.00 inc. VAT
Produced with Tempranillo and aged with lees for nine months, the bright pink 2019 shows high ripeness and quite a full body for a rose. It has notes of ripe strawberries and a: twist with a round palate that reveals ripe flavors, finishing dry and with a bitter touch. 4,000 bottles produced. This is the first time I've tasted this rose, but it's not the first year they've produced it. bottles were filled in July 2020.

La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi 2015

R330.00 inc. VAT
The classic Haro-styled red 2015 Viña Alberdi, sold abroad with the mention of Reserva and in Spain as Crianza, is a good introduction to the house style: balsamic reds with abundant notes of sweet spices and cigar ash, developed aromas of forest floor and a creamy twist making small concessions for a fresher and cleaner profile in the last few years but keeping the classic style. There are notes of ground tobacco and earth, and the palate is seamless and sleek, with polished tannins and a soft mouthfeel. There are 550,000 bottles of this wine, all produced from a single master blend. It was bottled in September 2018 after two years in American oak barrels.

Valenciso Rioja White 2019

R350.00 inc. VAT
Yields were down a third in 2019 because of the heat, but this organic cuvée of Viura with 30% Garnacha Blanca doesn't taste over-concentrated. Subtle and aromatic with fermentation and ageing in (15% new) Russian oak it's a wine that needs time to exert its charms, with jasmine aromas and subtle baking spice and orange zest flavours.

Valenciso Rioja Red 2014

R395.00 inc. VAT
Cooler vintages like 2014 are ideally suited to the Valenciso style, which always has one eye on longevity and bottle age. This refined Tempranillo comes from vineyards in Briones, Haro, Ollauri, Rodezno and Villalba and has an appealing combination of structure, depth and minerality with fine 20% new oak integration and layers of bramble, raspberry and black cherry fruit.

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva 2012

R530.00 inc. VAT
Garnacha is an important component in the 2012 Viña Ardanza Reserva, where it represents 20% of the blend (the rest is, of course, Tempranillo). 2011 was a difficult vintage for Garnacha, so Viña Ardanza was not produced that year and they jumped from 2010, which had the mention "Selección Especial," to 2012, where it returns to the regular Reserva. The wine is a prototype of polished and aged Rioja with a ruby color with some orange and a developed nose with subtle aromas of decayed leaves, sweet spices and some cherries in liqueur even, quite complex and harmonious. The palate is velvety but rich, with resolved tannins and a fine chalky mouthfeel, sleek and elegant, terribly balanced. The flavors are pure and defined, and there is an overall sense of harmony that I like very much. Brilliant Ardanza! They produced no less than 600,000 bottles of this wine, which is remarkable. It has been in bottle since March 2016, so it's very approachable but should also age nicely in bottle. Drink or keep. - Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate

Valenciso Rioja Reserva 10 Años Después 2010

R595.00 inc. VAT
"A wine that is released 10 years after the harvest, the 2010 10 Años Después (10 years after!) was kept in concrete and barrel for a long time, 4.5 and 5.5 years, respectively. It combines the texture and mouthfeel from traditional Rioja with the cleanliness and precision of the more modern examples. Furthermore, in a vintage like 2010, it combines power and elegance, while still quite young and lively. It has notes of fine woods and smoke with dry flowers, berries and aromatic herbs, quite complex and elegant, insinuating more than in your face. It's medium to full-bodied with great harmony and elegant tannins. It finishes long and dry. It's approachable now but should continue developing nicely in bottle. 4,500 bottles were filled in January 2020." - Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate

La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Gran Reserva 2014

R595.00 inc. VAT
Finally, there was the 2014 Viña Arana Rioja Gran Reserva, which comprises 94% Tempranillo from Las Cuevas, El Palo and Las Monjas and 6% Graciano from Montecillo. This was aged in American oak for three years and bottled in June 2018. Exhibiting just a modicum of browning on the rim, it offers crushed strawberry, field mushroom, clove and singed leather on the nose, hints of vine tomato and balsamic following with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, lithe tannins that lend this Gran Reserva its smooth veneer. Moderate in depth, it is classic in style and no bodybuilder. It remains rather understated toward the finish, offering soy-infused red fruit, sour cherries, orange peel, porcini and dried herbs. - Neal Martin, Vinous

Bodegas y Viñedos Pintia 2015 Tinto

R850.00 inc. VAT
"Deep, glistening ruby. Expansive cherry, cassis, potpourri, exotic spice and cracked pepper scents on the intensely perfumed nose; subtle licorice, tobacco and vanilla qualities add complexity. Bodegas y Viñedos Pintia 2015 Tinto is deep, sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering intense, spice- and smoke-tinged red and dark berry compote, violet pastille and cola flavors that become livelier with air. The floral quality gains strength on the strikingly long finish, which leaves smoke and mineral notes behind." Josh Raynolds, Vinous

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 2011

R975.00 inc. VAT
The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016. This is more reticent and less forthcoming on the nose compared to the Viña Ardanza, gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice. This needed more decanting than the Ardanza. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Layers of red fruit laced with clove, sprigs of fresh mint and blood orange dovetail into a soy-tinged finish that you expect to fan out, though it declines; it needs maybe another 12–18 months to really show what it is capable of. Magnificent. - Neal Martin, Vinous

Vega-Sicilia Alión Ribera del Duero Cosecha 2015

R995.00 inc. VAT
"Produced with 100% Tinto Fino or Tempranillo grapes in a modern and fruit-forward style with generous oak, the 2015 Alión is juicy and intense, cropped from a warm and dry year that delivered a 15% alcohol red that is voluptuous and hedonistic. It matured for 12 to 14 months in oak barrels, mostly French and mostly new. At first I found it quite ripe, with black rather than red fruit, a little earthy and with a touch of licorice and ink. The palate reveals abundant, slightly dusty tannins without the quality they had in 2014; it's a little dry on the finish, a riper and more powerful vintage of Alión. The nose improved tremendously with time in the glass as it opened up, but the tannins remained quite present. It might need a little more time in bottle to polish those edges." - Luis Gutiérrez, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Bodegas Benjamin de Rothschild & Vega Sicilia Macán 2015

R1,150.00 inc. VAT
"The current vintage of the first wine is the 2015 Macán, fermented in oak vats and matured in new French oak barrels for 12 months, followed by a further five months in oak vats and kept in bottle for almost three years before it's released. 2015 was a warm and dry year, and the wine feels riper when tasted next to the 2016 Macán Clásico, which comes from a very different year. The use of foudres helps to give the wine length and elegance—a good tool to fine-tune warmer vintages like this one. This is stylistically different from 2016, with darker fruit and an earthy touch. It's powerful, with structure and plenty of tannin, a dense wine, with concentration to get polished in bottle. 74,465 bottle, 2,563 magnums and some larger formats produced. It was bottled in May 2017." - Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate

Bodegas y Viñedos Alion 2016 Tinto

R1,250.00 inc. VAT
"Glass-staining violet. Heady smoke- and mineral-accented aromas of ripe black and blue fruits, incense and potpourri, plus hints of vanilla and cola in the background. Bodegas y Viñedos Alion 2016 Tinto is densely packed, alluringly sweet and focused on the palate, offering intense black currant, cherry-vanilla and candied licorice flavors and a touch of exotic spices. Sappy, smooth and seamless in texture, finishing with powerful thrust and velvety tannins that come in late to add shape and gentle grip. 95% French and 5% American oak, 80% of it new." Josh Raynolds, Vinous

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Tinto 2011 Magnum

R1,890.00 inc. VAT
The 2011 Rioja Gran Reserva 904 has been one of my go-to cuvées since my earliest days as a wine lover. This latest release is a blend of 60-year-old Tempranillo from Briñas, Rodenzo and Villalba (89%) and the remainder Graciano from the Montecillo vineyard. Fully de-stemmed and aged for 54 months in American oak, it was bottled in November 2016. This is more reticent and less forthcoming on the nose compared to the Viña Ardanza, gradually unfolding to reveal enticing scents of raspberry, crushed strawberry, warm leather, terra cotta and a touch of meat juice. This needed more decanting than the Ardanza. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine-grained tannins, and ultra-smooth in terms of texture. Layers of red fruit laced with clove, sprigs of fresh mint and blood orange dovetail into a soy-tinged finish that you expect to fan out, though it declines; it needs maybe another 12–18 months to really show what it is capable of. Magnificent. Neal Martin, Vinous

Vega-Sicilia Valbuena 5 Cosecha 2014

R1,995.00 inc. VAT
"This wine was re-tasted prior to this report with similar descriptors to my previous tasting for a report I published earlier this year and the score was the same. Cropped from an unusually cold and rainy vintage in which they will not bottle Único, the 2013 Valbuena is always released in its fifth year. It's mostly Tempranillo with 5% Merlot that was put through a three- to four-day cold soak in the oak vats, where it fermented with indigenous yeasts and was pumped over. It matured in new and used 225-liter French and American oak barriques and also in 20,000-liter oak vats, where the larger vessels respect the fruit, especially in a more fragile vintage-like 2013. It's a very elegant and fresh Valbuena with a developed nose, quite classical with a fine texture, elegant tannins and a supple, long finish where the oak is still quite obvious. I liked it very much and consider it a triumph over the challenges of the year. " - Luis Gutierrez, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Bodegas Vega Sicilia 2015 Valbuena 5˚xxx

Opaque garnet. Vibrant, finely detailed cherry liqueur, dark berry, exotic spice, and floral qualities on the expressive nose, along with hints of mocha and incense. Stains the palate with sweet, penetrating red and dark fruit, violet pastille, chewing tobacco and spice cake flavors that pick up a vanilla flourish on the back half. Smoothly blends power and finesse and finishes on a youthfully tannic note, showing outstanding clarity and mineral-tinged persistence.

Vega-Sicilia Alión Ribera del Duero Cosecha 2015 Magnum

R2,565.01 inc. VAT
"Produced with 100% Tinto Fino or Tempranillo grapes in a modern and fruit-forward style with generous oak, the 2015 Alión is juicy and intense, cropped from a warm and dry year that delivered a 15% alcohol red that is voluptuous and hedonistic. It matured for 12 to 14 months in oak barrels, mostly French and mostly new. At first I found it quite ripe, with black rather than red fruit, a little earthy and with a touch of licorice and ink. The palate reveals abundant, slightly dusty tannins without the quality they had in 2014; it's a little dry on the finish, a riper and more powerful vintage of Alión. The nose improved tremendously with time in the glass as it opened up, but the tannins remained quite present. It might need a little more time in bottle to polish those edges. 230,730 bottles and some larger formats where produced. It was bottled in June 2017." - Monica Larner, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Bodegas y Viñedos Alion 2016 Tinto Magnum

R2,950.00 inc. VAT
Glass-staining violet. Heady smoke- and mineral-accented aromas of ripe black and blue fruits, incense and potpourri, plus hints of vanilla and cola in the background. Densely packed, alluringly sweet and focused on the palate, offering intense black currant, cherry-vanilla and candied licorice flavors and a touch of exotic spices. Sappy, smooth and seamless in texture, finishing with powerful thrust and velvety tannins that come in late to add shape and gentle grip. 95% French and 5% American oak, 80% of it new.

La Rioja Alta 6 Bottle Mixed Case

R3,290.00 inc. VAT
The La Rioja Alta 6 Bottle Mixed Case includes: 1 x La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 2011 1 x La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Gran Reserva 2014 2 x La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva 2012 2 x La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi 2015

Vega-Sicilia “Valbuena 5” Cosecha 2014 Magnum

R4,460.01 inc. VAT
“This wine was re-tasted prior to this report with similar descriptors to my previous tasting for a report I published earlier this year and the score was the same. Cropped from an unusually cold and rainy vintage in which they will not bottle Único, the 2013 Valbuena is always released in its fifth year. It’s mostly Tempranillo with 5% Merlot that was put through a three- to four-day cold soak in the oak vats, where it fermented with indigenous yeasts and was pumped over. It matured in new and used 225-liter French and American oak barriques and also in 20,000-liter oak vats, where the larger vessels respect the fruit, especially in a more fragile vintage-like 2013. It’s a very elegant and fresh Valbuena with a developed nose, quite classical with a fine texture, elegant tannins and a supple, long finish where the oak is still quite obvious. I liked it very much and consider it a triumph over the challenges of the year. ” – Luis Gutierrez, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate