Editors’ picks – March 2023

A tasting at Château Pape Clément

Celebrating 1252-2022

Georgina Hindle

Last year, Cha?teau Pape Cle?ment, Grand Cru Classe? de Graves, celebrated its 770th anniversary, now heading towards eight centuries of continuous wine production (the vineyard was planted in the 13th century by Bertrand de Got, who went on to become Pope Clement V). A special tasting was held in Paris last November to showcase the estate’s wines: 2009 and 2014-2020 inclusive in red, and 2015 and 2017 of the white.

The jewel in Bernard Magrez’s ever-growing empire, purchased in 1980, has seen an incredible renaissance since the 2000s, but particularly following a refurbished vat room in 2007 and more recently the implementation of a new R&D team focusing on eliminating chemical inputs during vinification, anticipating the impacts of climate change, improving ploughing techniques and integrating robotics for precision viticulture and disease management.

A classic style of roughly 50/50 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the 2009 (£130-£165 in bond, widely available) is heady and potent, imposing and broad-shouldered but finessed with marked acidity: beginning to enter a lovely drinking phase. 2014 (£60-£80ib) was a great surprise, joyful and lightly framed with delicacy and definition. 2016 and 2019 (both retailing at about £90-£125) are stunning, the former smooth and seductive with energy and vibrancy, the latter charming and rich, and supremely easy to like.

Swooning over Swinney

Tina Gellie

I was lucky enough to taste the new releases from Matt Swinney, fourth generation of his family’s 250ha wine estate in Western Australia’s Frankland River. Long renowned as a bespoke grower for other wineries, since 2018 Swinney has used the organically farmed fruit for his own brand. Also joining us was sixth-generation winemaker Rob Mann (grandson of Jack Mann, of Houghton’s White Burgundy fame), who came on board in 2018.

The Swinney range focuses on Rho?ne grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, and the 2020 vintage wines retail at £33 via The Great Wine Co (importer Enotria&Coe). I was impressed by all of them, but bowled over by the Grenache and Syrah under the premium Farvie label – the nickname of Swinney’s great- grandfather, George, who settled in Frankland River in 1922. Farvie, Grenache 2020 (allocation only, but about £90-£100) is a stunner: incense-like musk perfume, raspy-textured palate with chalky tannins, a salivating mineral tang and a rustic note from the Mourve?dre co-fermentation.

‘We had the fruit quality, the aspiration and the obsessive and uncompromising determination,’ said Swinney. ‘I want the wines to sit alongside the best in the world, but speak of Frankland River.’ It’s an ambitious, exciting estate I’ll be following closely. (The Grenache 2018 won Gold in the DWWA 2020: £99.50 The Great Wine Co.)

From Champagne to Carneros

Clive Pursehouse

During a presentation of California Chardonnay, one wine from Carneros stood out. Stylistically, its emphasis on verve, elegance and minerality, rather than ripeness and opulence, distinguished it from its peers. Champagne house Louis Pommery came to California to make sparkling wine in the Carneros AVA in 2015. With the 2019 vintage, the producer – whose historic sparkling roots date to the 1850s – released its first still American wine; marking the second release is the Louis Pommery Carneros, Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2021. The aromatics offer vibrant, inviting walnut husk, cardamom and crushed limestone. The winemaking was overseen by Cle?ment Pierlot, the Pommery cellarmaster in Reims, who seeks to make a Chardonnay that harkens to France’s Chablis.

Just as you’d expect from a Champagne producer, the wine is marked by freshness and energy, with a notably cool-climate temperament. The palate is lithe, energetic, and the wine’s stainless steel production emphasises the fresh, lively fruit. Flavours are of candied orange, lemon cre?me and…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/editors-picks-march-2023-497903/

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