This is an excellent value, easy-drinking red from Italy's sunkissed central, eastern Abruzzo. At a modern cellar there, the young Ludovica Crugnale is winemaker. After studying winemaking, Ludovica went to California and Australia to gain experience, before returning to her beloved Italy in 2017. She is hugely passionate about what she does, championing the great traditions of the region, whilst embracing the benefits of modern technology. The cellar works with many growers, but Ludovica particularly loves the grapes of Maria, a lady with decades of experience. There's lovely intensity and ripeness in her Montepulciano grapes, as you'll taste in the wine. Delightful as a solo glass or with pesto pasta, pork casserole or chicken kebabs.
Portugal is a treasure trove of little known native grapes and one of its best is Castelão. The variety is grown throughout the country but particularly excels in the Setúbal Península. That’s where the highly rated winemaker Jaime Quendera sources grapes for our Rainha do Mar – a moreish, easy going red with juicy raspberry fruit and a silky smooth, rounded style. Centuries ago, this region is where Vasco da Gama set sail to discover a sea route to India. Today the plentiful sunshine and coastal breezes are ideal for red grapes and produce wines that are balanced with excellent ripeness. Rainha do Mar (which means ‘Queen of the Sea’) proves the point. This red’s delicious ripe flavours are ideal with rich pasta dishes or grilled meats.
Classic Rioja fans will love this red, with all its moreish, silky, ripe berry fruit tempered by toasty spice. No wonder the late Spanish expert John Radford listed Primicia among his top 20 Rioja bodegas. It’s a family estate, founded by three brothers, and has over the years won many awards. This 2019 is made from 100% strawberry scented Tempranillo, from mature, low yielding vineyards. Winemaker Fernando Domingo matured the wine in American oak barrels for four months – just enough to flatter the fruit with gentle toasty spice and hints of vanilla, while letting plenty of exuberant, youthful, fruit character shine through. A delight on its own, this wine is spot on with garlic chicken, lamb chops with rosemary or a selection of tapas.
For nearly five centuries, the winemaking ancestors of those living and working in the Campo de Borja region sought refuge for their wines in ‘La Cueva’. It was a sanctuary carved into the very mountain itself, a place for them to protect their wines from the searing heat of the Spanish midday sun. Today, the cave provides the perfect cellar for the oak barrels in which the La Cueva Garnacha is aged. Bright cranberry, raspberry, and red plum unite in a juicy combination of flavours and aromas that entice the senses. Subtle black pepper and herbaceous earthy notes give it a savoury groundedness and makes for a fantastic food wine. Salud!
Hasn't Malbec come a long way! It used to produce the tough, tannic reds of SW France, then Argentina got a hold of it and made it a worldwide star. Not to be out done, France is revisiting this grape and, with refined techniques and careful handling, showing just how appealing its wines can be. Hervé discovered a plot of 30 year old vines in the Languedoc's Vallée de l'Orb, on soils covered with big boulder like stones that promote grapes with lovely intensity and ripeness. Impressed, he bagged the lot. Hand harvesting, gentle handling, and just a short time on its skins, have resulted in a silky, ripe, supple wine, with ample fruit tinged with herbs and liquorice. A fine choice with marinaded pork chops, roast chicken or veggie kebabs.
This luscious Gold-medal winner is made by the talented John Quarisa, who has enjoyed a <i>“distinguished career as a winemaker spanning over 20 years” (Halliday).</i> John likes his wines to express big personality and juicy fruit and value for money – he’s certainly achieved that here! Ripe and round blackberries conspire with flavours of plum and cinnamon spice. On the palate, rich red berries and brewed coffee make for a very appealing wine.
Bordeaux is where our whole wine merchant story began, five decades ago. As you would expect we’ve plenty of friends in the region, not least the superb viticulturalist Ludovic Roussillon. His Château Le Coin lies just across the river from our exclusive cellar and winemaking studio, Le Chai au Quai. The soils on Ludovic’s Entre Deux Mers estate are rich in limestone and quick draining, which concentrates the rich flavours of the grapes. Ludovic is great to work with and very generous – he even lets our own Bordeaux specialist Jean-Marc Sauboua cherry pick the best vats and supervise the finishing of the wine. Made mostly from prime Merlot, this classy Bordeaux, with many Golds to its name, is perfect with roast shoulder of lamb or venison.