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Editors’ picks – March 2024

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Gonzalo Iturriaga of Vega Sicilia speaking at the National Gallery event in January
Gonzalo Iturriaga of Vega Sicilia speaking at the National Gallery event in January.

Vega Sicilia 160th anniversary

Ines Salpico

It’s not often that one gets to taste multiple vintages of Vega Sicilia’s Unico, one of if not the most sought-after Spanish fine wine(s). It’s even less likely that one will have a chance to do so while dining at the National Gallery’s Spanish Room, surrounded by the works of 17th-century masters El Greco, Diego Vela?zquez and Francisco de Zurbara?n. Vega Sicilia challenged those odds by hosting its 160th anniversary dinner, together with Berkmann Wine Cellars, at the London institution. With Philip IV of Spain’s solemn gaze upon us, CEO Pablo Alvarez and technical director Gonzalo Iturriaga guided guests through Tempos Vega Sicilia’s many projects and wines. And there was much to be seduced by beyond Vela?zquez’s Venus and the producer’s flagship label. The (relatively) more affordable Valbuena 5° 2019 (£111 in bond via Berry Bros & Rudd, Bordeaux Index, Jeroboams, Justerini & Brooks, Lay & Wheeler) offered a nuanced, fresh and unpretentious take on Ribera del Duero, while Alio?n 2020 (£61 in bond via Cru, Honest Grapes, Petersham Cellar, Philglas & Swiggot) surprised with its alluring florality and fine tannins. The evening closed with the luscious yet vibrant Oremus, Tokaji Aszu? 5 Puttonyos 2017 (2014, £66.50/50cl Berry Bros & Rudd).


Armenia’s ancient tradition

Clive Pursehouse

Khachen Estate is the project of brothers Alek and Arbi Harounian. The duo make wines in the Armenian village of Aghavnadzor in the rugged region of Vayots Dzor, only a 10km drive from the site of the world’s oldest known winery, in the Areni-1 cave, which dates to 4100 BCE. Having planted own-rooted vineyards in 2019 at 1,400m in the steppe of the South Caucasus, the Harounians are focused on the cultivation of Areni Noir, the modern iteration of which is believed to share origins with the grape seeds and stems discovered in Areni-1. The grape flashes plenty of high-tone red and blue fruits and delivers robust acidity and structure to boot. Khachen Estate produces an estate wine and a reserve. Its Areni 2022 is bright and blue-fruited, with ample savoury spice and brilliant acidity, which makes it well suited for youthful drinking. From the best blocks of vines, the Reserve Areni 2021 is kept in French oak barriques, taming some of the grape’s exuberance with smoky notes of clove and spice that complement the ripe flavours of red plum, blueberries and fresh spearmint.


Il Marroneto visits Decanter

James Button

 Iacopo Mori and his father Alessandro, Il Marroneto

Iacopo Mori and his father Alessandro, Il Marroneto

In mid-December, Iacopo Mori of Il Marroneto in Montalcino visited Decanter’s office in Paddington, London, for a quick taste of the estate’s latest releases from the 2019 vintage, which will be available in limited quantities from the end of March via UK importer Armit (pricing unconfirmed at time of writing). I’m somewhat familiar
with the wines, and my expectations were already high, especially since Decanter contributor Aldo Fiordelli earmarked the 2019 Madonna delle Grazie as one of his wines of the year, attributing it a perfect 100-point score. The standard Brunello di Montalcino 2019 of the estate is silky, precise and chiselled, with incredible sweetness and fragrance. Madonna delle Grazie 2019 – a single-vineyard selection – is darker, infused with violet and lavender and an incredible pomegranate character allied to fine, silky yet structural tannins. Given the high overall quality of 2019 in Montalcino, buyers are spoilt for choice this year – but these delicious offerings should be high on any enthusiast’s shopping list.


Mouton’s Languedoc estate

Georgie Hindle

It’s easy to be overshadowed when your sibling estate is a Bordeaux first growth, but Domaine de Baronarques, purchased by the Rothschild family in 1998, shows strong yet atypical Languedoc identities (being located at St-Polycarpe, near…

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Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/editors-picks-march-2024-523128/