Issue #131, September 2020
Is there honesty behind
our wine reviews?
Written by Magda Sienkiewicz
We live in a world obsessed with media which has its benefits and an equal seasoning of negatives. During and post Covid lockdown, many are resigned to working from home, buying online and socialising in smaller groups. Experienced online retailers have benefited enormously while our high-street shops are falling like trees in the Amazon rainforest. Online fraud is on the rise, fake news being reserved for presidential speeches and everyone’s business is under the microscope.
Those who know us will understand that we are forthright and honest, but for those relatively new to us – perhaps I should explain the ethos of our company through the eyes of a wine buyer at The Vinorium, which in turn will answer the first question - and I would hope eloquently so.
Under Stu’s tutelage I’ve now been a junior buyer for three years. I vividly recall the excitement of signing our very first exclusivity and today, we proudly represent over 35 truly wonderful and talented producers – what an achievement in such a short space of time. Such success however doesn’t come easy and in fact, you might be surprised to learn that we reject more wines and their respective makers than we actively accept.
This week was a great case in point as we faced a difficult conversation after a flurry of activity from a super excited winery owner. Their story is excellent, the team behind the wines fantastic and one of their wines has been awarded a Decanter gold medal (yet to be officially declared). But the wines failed to excite us, which fundamentally is the core of our buying philosophy. Some independent merchants and others alike, purchase wines to suit fashion and a particular price point. We however, do not give two hoots as we are driven by flavour and quality which for us is the purest way to assess a wine. Of course, commerciality comes into play and the respective export bottle price is scrutinised versus what is in our glass. We also consider the wider picture as to their place in our unique portfolio which is key to their success.
This portrays perfectly the rigorous way we assess all potential candidates. This is not a simple tick-box exercise and despite plenty of synergy and appeal we might find in the story or press, it simply comes down to the physical tasting of the wines themselves.
Stu and I taste every single wine which comes through our door and we encourage the rest of the team to participate and understand the quality of wines which we are buying (and later selling) as well as tasting those which do not make the cut and most importantly, to understand the reasons why. We often sit in front of an entire range of samples with their export prices on hand and carefully analyse each wine for their quality vs. their respective price. The naked truth versus what’s in the glass, as Stu likes to say.
We are certainly fussy buyers and our expectations are high, because that’s what makes us get out of bed every morning. We don’t want to find another good wine, we seek excellence – wines which inspire and overdeliver on flavour, enjoyment, price or better still, all of those aspects. This alone provides a good answer to the question set out in this article - yes, we are perfectly honest and forthright in our enthusiasm, as without that passion we would not have purchased the wines in the first instance.
Getting to the nitty-gritty on how we assess wines, which sometimes can be a lengthy and complex affair. From the outside some may consider our approach rather namby-panby or precious, but we choose to sample wines on how we are feeling. The weather conditions certainly come into play - the thought of sampling substantial Aussie Shiraz when it’s 30 degrees outside will lead to one result, and that’s failure and the potential loss of a new agency. We are inclined to sample white wine, Pinot Noir and cooler climate reds when the days are warmer, but we are less pedantic when the weather provides cooler days.
This of course can create issues with our producers as they are drumming their fingers while waiting for our feedback. It’s a significant investment for each producer to air-freight a set of samples to us (some $600 for delivery alone) and understandably, they may feel that we are being disrespectful taking weeks to sample their wines however, it is the complete opposite. We aim at giving every wine the best chance possible.
A real life example – our Mystery Wines. We did not taste them immediately but when the right time came and we gave those wines a moment to shine, did they absolutely dazzle us. Our immediate reaction was that there are similarities to Standish wines which makes them a spectacular discovery. In fact, Stu and I kept coming back to sample the entire range over the course of 48 hours as there was so much detail to take in. Our first order was placed on the second day of sampling and instantly, we asked the producer to air-freight a new set of samples which might sound crazy, but the justification is very simple. In order for us to produce a forthright tasting note for each wine and give you as much detail as we know you expect, we had to take them slow - taste by varietal at most and not the entire range all at once.
After the arrival of a brand new set of samples, we allowed them to rest for a few days to ensure they were on top form, as most wines do not travel well. First up was the Shiraz – both vintages were decanted before 8am and sampled regularly throughout the day. At the end of day one, both decanters were tightly sealed and left overnight in the cool. The following day, the Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 and 2018 were decanted first thing in the morning but before we took the first sip of either, we re-sampled both Shiraz wines. The same orthodox ritual took place on day three with the 2018 and 2019 MSG blends following the re-sampling of both Cabernets.
Scores are subjective as are our palates. What one critic awards compared to another is independent to their own publication and it is rare to find uniformity for a single wine amongst them all. Our palates are no different, which keeps wine merchants on their toes, but the task of satisfying everyone is an impossible one. We pride ourselves on producing detailed tasting notes which accurately describe the wine(s). Decanting time and the choice of glassware will change a wine considerably and should be noted if you are keen to experience the same characteristics. Our scores are equally accurate and are never inflated. In fact, many of our agency wines are delivered to you (along with our notes and scores) well before many global critics are provided with the opportunity to assess them. We released the ’18 Standish Schubert Theorem in February 2020 and we awarded 99-100 points which is reserved for only the very best. This week, JamesSuckling.com released their score of 100 points. In some ways, this highlights that firstly, our scores are accurate and most importantly, you can always take much confidence when we declare a wine as being ‘great’. Our portfolio is home to amazing wine, with the majority scoring 94 points and above – very few ever receive 100 points. We have a special place in the Australian market and our reputation on our adopted shores is as strong as it is in the UK. The Vinorium is the hub from which to purchase wonderful bottles of wine. We have no interest in stocking lesser quality wines which fit a price bracket – that is the job for others, and they do it well. To conclude, this is the reason why our 300-strong portfolio is filled with high-achievers.
Of course, we would be naïve to believe that you will take our word for granted and I must thank all of our customers who actively share their feedback with us. Many of you take the plunge into the unknown and take us up on recommendations for wines you have never heard of before, which we find humbling. Some of you invest in our glassware of choice thus providing a matching experience. We love to read your emails confirming that we are ‘spot on’ with our assessment.
Preferences differ and we are fully respectful of that. Understandably, it might be a difficult conversation for some customers who know how strongly we believe in our wines however, we make no awkwardness about it and we always strive to be as supportive as possible. Very recently, I was contacted by one customer who was faced with precisely this issue – one of our Pinot Noirs simply didn’t hit the spot for him. Shortly after my supportive response, I received the following reply:
“Your response is what I expected and is very considerate and customer focused. I often think the first email back to any comment shows what the DNA of a wine company is. Yours is clearly high quality (as expected).”
Aside from assessing the quality of our wines, there is also another important aspect which plays a major role, and that is texture. We always seek wines which carry beautiful texture, weight and length. This is not to say that we favour particular styles, as texture can reveal itself in many different ways. Taking cool-climate wines as an example will prove the point perfectly. It is a common misconception that all cool-climate wines are restrained and lean in style from the outset or that they are simply incapable of producing a ripe, textural feel on ones palate. While the cool climate does bring certain qualities to the wine, it does not prohibit the overall balance or indeed, prevent a beautiful texture being formed. Lean and mean is best reserved for other shelves…
Victoria is another example of a ‘cooler’ part of the Australian landscape thanks to its coastal influence and a mountain range reaching over 600 metres above sea level. It is home to Cobaw Ridge, Eastern Peake and Mulline amongst others who consistently deliver wines with superb structure and complexity of flavour. Our introductory offer of 2016 Eastern Peake Intrinsic Chardonnay sold out within three weeks following our inspiring review and a confident score of 98++ points. The texture, weight and sublime balance of all elements made for a very special wine indeed. Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay from Victoria’s Macedon Ranges is on the same course as the Intrinsic (33 bottles remain) and Mulline also impress with four stunning wines. Their Fumé Blanc is more complex than many Aussie Sauvignon Blancs we have experienced to date. Despite its youth, Mulline Chardonnay shows a wonderful texture which will unfold gracefully with a few years of careful cellaring. Finally, their Pinot Noir and Syrah are the embodiment of cool climate wines which marry the wonderful freshness and intense aromatics with a beautifully textural palate.
Our collection of Tasmanian wines only re-enforces our commitment to finding superbly textural wines. Some producers and their wines carry a truly ethereal style (Sailor Seeks Horse, Dr Edge) while others represent a far more flamboyant approach (Domaine Simha and Grey Sands are perfect examples). Nevertheless, they all share the same key elements of great texture and balance and therefore, they are an equal testament to our ethos.
Finally and returning to the duties of a buyer - when we accept a new wine or range, this means so much more than just a simple transaction. The passion for a wine does not stop with the bottle, but extends to the hands that shape it to its existence. After all, many of the producers we work with are far from being large commercial operations. Most of them work super hard to produce the very best fruit from their tiny plots of land. This is a work of passion and perseverance in the never-ending pursuit to produce the best quality possible. We have a huge amount of respect for our producers and our relationship with them is always deeply emotional as there is synergy between our strong passions and pursuits. As such, representing our super talented producers is a responsibility bigger than simply buying and selling their superb wines. It is portraying each and every individual story – the hardship, passion and inspiration – and doing this in the most truthful way which resonates with both our customers and the producers themselves.
Where will our continuous pursuit lead us? One thing to be certain of is the fact that our ethos will never change. In the same way that our producers show relentless effort in creating wines of the highest quality, we continue our hunt for the next exceptional revelation. I can hear some readers (including our producers) questioning why we keep searching for more wines, as our award-winning list is packed to the rafters with quality. The answer is simple, we want to keep discovering and expanding the horizons which we believe Australia can deliver.
“Some of the best wines money can buy”
"I consider Dan Standish the reigning
king of Barossa Shiraz"
Joe Czerwinski (Robert Parker.com)
International Wine & Spirits Competition Gold Medal 2019
97+/98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “A pure bouquet of blackberry intermixed with warm, dry earth, musky herbs, menthol, graphite and pen ink. To be honest, you would run out of superlatives as the bouquet is endless and constantly changes with more aeration. The tannins are a touch chalky contrasted with magnificent layers of perfectly ripe, black fruits. ... read more
Stuart McCloskey "If I had to provide a brief statement to describe their wines – I would state, they are truly splendid and offer compelling drinking without the need to stress one’s wallet. From bottom to top, I believe these to be perfectly tuned with a satisfaction level of 100/100. They are not ‘pretenders’ and over deliver with pure energy. The winemaking is skilful and the fruit, pure and natural. All in all, Soumah offer great drinking at affordable prices."
The estate is located in the Upper Yarra Valley which experiences a cooler climate which leads to greater freshness and finesse in the wines. Franco notes his experiences in winemaking across the world as having significant influences on his style, learning something new from each place.
Both the Pinot Noir & Syrah are very, very beautiful. What an amazing UK debut from Ben & Ben at Mulline (Geelong, Aus). Heads-up – one of the best Aussie Syrah’s this year. They also produce an absolutely epic Fume Blanc, natural ferment, full solids & 9 months in barrel. Textural and loaded with complexity. Pitch perfect and you have to spend a lot (in the Loire) to come close… Seriously good
“Outstanding value & not to be missed”
Soumah Upper Ngumby Pinot Noir 2018
96–97 Points - Stuart McCloskey
“The nose is more classical – herbal, rusty metal, cranberry, warm earth, leather and tea. The flavour profile is expansive and impeccably pure. Less flamboyant compared to the Hexham but the open-knit complexity is a delight. Finely tuned with a delicacy and a gentleness which I really enjoy. I am intrigued to see how this develops over the coming 5 years. Ambitious yet sensitive winemaking. Unforced and natural. Admirable length and will offer immediate pleasure”.
£19.95 per bottle
Soumah Upper Ngumby Chardonnay 2018
96+ Points - Stuart McCloskey
“The fruit was barrel fermented with 100% wild yeast, matured on lees for eight months with some secondary fermentation to create depth and finesse, which team Soumah succeed effortlessly. The nose offers a mix of lemon zest, minéralité and ozone. Serenely pure in two words. The palate is long and sophisticated. Full of drive, vigour and energy – lovely freshness and very moreish. This will flourish with more time in the bottle, drink now to 2025.”
£19.95 per bottle
Pinot Noir 2018
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “I love the bouquet which is so inviting with a mix of soured red fruits, dried orange peel and an entire pantry full of sweet spices – there’s a little Christmas feel to the aromas which I find wistful. The flavour spectrum is immensely pleasing and follows a similar pattern to that of the nose. Sweet and sour fruit intermixed with a Smörgåsbord of spice cuddled with filigree tannins. Fleshy, ample and mouth-filling with palate drenching satisfaction. Very moreish is an understatement. The best Aussie Pinot Noir you are likely to find at twenty-quid. Simply delicious and faultless for the money. Drink now to 2025, but there is no need to wait.”
£19.95 per bottle
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “I love the nose with its steely freshness – racy and cool climate, sweetened with a whiff of poached pears. The palate is much fuller than the Upper Ngumby and will appeal (enormously so) to those seeking a richer style. There’s a lovely combination of depth and mouth-watering freshness. The fruit is evidently sweeter and fills the mid-palate gloriously. Stony minerality keeps the wine in perfect check. This is a chardonnay on full parade, just bumptious and proud to be. A touch of salinity on the super long finish. Bloody brilliant – it’s as simple as that. Drink now to 2025.”
£19.95 per bottle
Soumah d'Soumah Chardonnay 2019
"The palate is crisp, clean, full of energy and lovely precision. Stony minerals rather than dry. There’s a chewy grip which is admirable."
95 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Sampled without decanting. D’Soumah Chardonnay is a blend of fruit sourced from their own sites and select cool-climate, mature vineyards in the Yarra Valley. The front label confidently boasts that this is “ new age, citrus crisp Chardonnay with texture and finesse.” Well, I couldn’t agree more. The nose offers complexity beyond its price point with the palate following a similar line. It will suit everyone looking for a seamless, textural Chardonnay with balance above all. Such an exciting wine, comparable to the thrill of looking through a telescope and seeing a new star beginning to form itself."
£15.95 per bottle
Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay 2017
96 Points - Stuart McCloskey
“Certainly, one of the best value Chardonnays in our portfolio as the flavours and structure command a much higher price. The nose opens with grapefruit, an orchard full of ripe, yellow stoned fruits, quartz and a lovely undercurrent of spice. Similarly, the palate offers grapefruit and yellow stoned fruits. Complexity comes via wild fennel and lip-smacking salinity which I love - lots of minerality too. Impeccable balance, refreshing, focused, full of energy and not a step out of place. Just a joy… Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Do not overchill!”
£15.95 per bottle
Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay 2018
95 Points - James Halliday "This has the typical energy, finesse and drive that makes Hoddles Creek have a ‘must buy' tag year in, year out. It has all the power needed to cruise through the next 10 years, with grapefruit, Granny Smith apple and stone fruit decorated with a necklace of bracing acidity."
Gary Walsh (The Wine Front) "Juicy and peachy, spiced oatmeal, fennel and a little stuck match. It’s flavoursome with ripe pear and nectarine flavour, flinty texture, an appealing grapefruit cut to the acidity, and a long, well-defined chalky finish. Feel the quality of quiet confidence. It’s a great thing to drink even as a young wine, though a couple of years will help it along too."
£15.95 per bottle
Hobbs Tin Lids Viognier 2018
"Old vine Viognier (planted circa 1960)... aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, sun drenched apricots and a whispering of orangey spice... The finish is incredible"
96++ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Old vine Viognier (planted circa 1960), lovingly tended by hand… Greg and Allison deliver hallmark aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, sun drenched apricots and a whispering of orangey spice. The palate is surprisingly elegant, beautifully balanced and a textural delight – silky smooth to be more exact. The flavour profile is expansive, but this wine will offer everything with a little more bottle age. I enjoy the focus, the minerality, the freshness and the citrus oil which coats every facet. In fact, there isn’t anything I do not enjoy. The finish is incredible – bittersweet orange marmalade after a minute or so which is a fabulous way to part. Great now and will continue to improve for at least five years. Served (not too chilled) and using Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Decant for 20-30 minutes for the best result.”
£19.50 per bottle
Massena Stonegarden Riesling 2018
96++ to 97++ Stuart McCloskey “A very grown-up style of Riesling and more similar to Alsace than many new world styles. The nose is restrained but provides glimpses of lemony minerality, fresh lime, wet stones and mineral salts. The palate is mouth-watering, incredibly pure, tightly knit and clearly has the ability to age for 10-20 years. The Stonegarden single vineyard sits almost 400-metres above sea level and forms part of an ancient seabed. The vineyard's rocky, loam topsoil sits above a substrate of red clay containing rose quartz and black mica schist fragments, which this wine amplifies. The heat of summer and low night temperatures provide the long, slow ripening of fruit resulting in complex flavours and fine-boned acidity. I believe this wine lives and breathes its natural terroir and stands proudly amongst Australia’s finest Rieslings. I look forward to seeing how this wine has evolved in five years’ time. Delicious now but the investment is in its future. Served in Zalto Universal glassware”
£19.95 per bottle
Latta Vino Granite Riesling 2019
97 Points - Stuart McCloskey “The bouquet is immensely appealing, offering scents of orange and rose blossom, orchard fruit, quince, spring flowers and a little citrus. More classical and missing those petrol aromas found in some Aussie Rieslings. Clearly, the wine is young, incisive but carries itself with much confidence. Bracing acidity is missing which allows the pure fruit flavours of apricot and tangerine peel to shine. Rose petal and jasmine (essence-of-Gewürztraminer) which is fascinating. The profile is pure, spiced and I love the dash of white pepper and phenolic grip on the finish. The finish is very long indeed and will develop for a decade or more in the bottle. I’m detecting some salt after a minute or two and more white pepper. Incredibly charming, thoughtfully produced and one of the most classical renditions of this varietal found in Australia. As ever Owen bottles unfined, unfiltered and untinkered…”
It is Australian Riesling but not as you know it. Crisp, clean with delicate fruit and sweetness. Very balance and more akin to Germany than Clare valley. Very, very delicious - a top notch find The Vinorium! - Nick
Dan Standish receives 100 points
from James Suckling.com
Nick Stock (executive editor) is the man behind the score and the Aussie report titled “New hands and old vines: 2020 Barossa tasting report” which is available to their paid subscribers. We doff our cap to Mr Suckling for assigning one of Australia's most respected and prolific wine critics. It is also great to see that one of the world’s leading publications (who are huge in Asia) are taking Australia seriously. For many years, Robert Parker championed Australian wines with Joe Czerwinski taking the reins as the American authority on the wines of Australia and New Zealand. Last week, team Galloni (Vinous.com) announced that Rebecca Gibb MW (based in the UK) has joined Vinous in the role of Editor, responsible for covering the wines of New Zealand and the Loire Valley. Perhaps we should put Stu’s name forward for the missing Aussie job as few have been sampling Aussie wines as long as he has, and few share his deep understanding…
Nick reported “The average quality across the 2018 vintage wines is high with every winemaker I spoke to rating the season as a high-quality year. The wet winter and spring of 2017 set the season up well with good subsoil moisture.” “Flowering was very good,” said Grant Burge Chief Winemaker Craig Stansborough. Of course, we know Craig also through his own project, Purple Hands.
Nick penned “Dan Standish of The Standish Wine Company was emphatic about the quality of the 2018 harvest stating ‘It is the best we’ve seen in a long time, I give it ten out of ten!’ Standish made one of the two 100-pointwines in this report, The Standish Wine Company Barossa Valley The Schubert Theorem 2018, which comes from the cellar of one of the region’s best credentialed new generation winemakers. A sixth-generation Barossa local, Standish’s deep understanding of the region was cemented during his years as winemaker at Torbreck. He then investigated the region’s more eclectic face with the Massena project, a collaboration with Jaysen Collins, but ultimately he had his sights set on this moment. I also rated the Henschke Shiraz Eden Valley Hill of Grace Vineyard 2015 100 points earlier this year, highlighting Barossa’s great success in this year’s tastings for JamesSuckling.com.”
Standish made one of the two 100-point wines in this report... the other 100 pointer, Henschke’s Hill of Grace - £2,155 is the lowest UK price (under bond, without tax).
Let’s pause and look at a six pack price of the other 100 pointer, Henschke’s Hill of Grace - £2,155 is the lowest UK price (under bond, without tax). We have been shouting for years that Dan and Nicole Standish are the leading Aussie producers with their entire Standish collection (regardless of vintage) vying for the number one spot, and rightly so. It’s a joy to see the leading press acknowledging the same.
For the same money, why not treat yourself to 6.6 cases of the ’18 Schubert Theorem? Which is clearly the bargain of the year…
Standish The Schubert Theorem 2018
100 Points - Nick Stock / JamesSuckling.com "Mica-laced soil from the Schubert Vineyard in Roenfeldt Road, Marananga and fermented as 50% whole clusters. The site has six parts and all are made as a single parcel and then the wine is assembled. There’s distinctive complexity of fruit here with all shades of red, blue and purple through to black. There are also ripe dark peaches and nectarines as well. There’s a spicy edge, too, with some almost flinty, graphite notes. The palate has such intensity and power and really long, deep black fruit builds through the finish. Impeccable depth of tannin here. Rich blood plum flavors, intersected with blackberry. So saturated in flavor, so long and full of energy. The vinous intensity on the finish is spectacular. This is something really special. Try from 2024."
99-100 Points - Stuart McCloskey "The nose is an intense experience which unfurls with iron ore, marine, kelp, licks of salty wet stone, graphite, packed with black fruits and a lovely floral lift. The palate is medium-bodied, a touch more edgy, and perhaps speaks more of terroir than fruit. The marine influence continues through to the palate prescribing more umami flavours. Briary, with more pronounced acidity and fine tannins. Ink on the finish and incredibly complex. A real intellectual wine and deeply impressive. Decanted for 3.5 hours and served with Zalto Bordeaux glassware. Drinking window from 2020 to 2050++ but I would ignore for 5-10 years." Tasted 06.05.2020
The same decanted wine was sampled circa 24 hours later (overnight we placed a tight clingfilm seal over each decanter)…
Summary: Not the slightest sign of oxidation as the aromatics explode from the glass. Iron ore, marine, kelp, licks of salty wet stone, graphite are still present as is espresso, dried orange peel, fennel seed and warm, baked earth. The palate is super-concentrated – a tsunami of saturated fruit covers every millimetre. The mineral tone is a work of genius, An extraordinary wine in every sense.
Buy '100 point' Standish The Schubert Theorem 2018
Browse The 2017 & 2018 Standish Collection
Anthill Farms was launched in 2004 by partners Webster Marquez, David Low and Anthony Filiberti who all previously worked at Williams Selyem. The trio are deeply committed to producing handcrafted, high quality, cool climate single vineyard Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in Northern California.
Anthony is the lead winemaker and was raised in Sonoma County. He apprenticed at Oregon’s Bergström which farms without the use of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides or systemic chemicals. They go a step further by composting and treating with homeopathic herbal and mineral teas, rather than using synthetic fertilizers. Understandably, Anthony is a non-interventionist winemaker, committed to gentle handling of grapes from crushing to bottling which is clearly evident - the attention to detail produces wines of magical, unforced purity.
Their operation has grown from a mere 8.5 barrels per year to almost 1,800 cases. This still equates to a tiny operation particularly when the trio produce a string of single vineyard creations, effortlessly expressing the diverse terroirs of the Sonoma Coast and Mendocino County. Most wines are produced in minuscule quantities and are offered via their mailing list members in spring. Outside of their mailing list, a small amount of wine is released every year to local restaurants, wine shops and a tiny amount is exported (thank the Lord!)
We introduced the sensational 2014 Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir many years back, which remains one of my absolute favourites from the US, and a wine which I miss dearly (my powers of restraint failed). It’s been two weeks since our ‘new’ Anthill Farms arrived into our HQ warehouse. The entire team swooned around the pallet with an entire case of the ’18 Campbell Ranch emptying for staff purchases. The remainder of the pallet contains wines new to us all, which I am delighted to share today…
Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir 2018
"it is comparable to hugging an old friend you haven’t seen for years"
98+ Points - Stuart McCloskey “Perhaps not the most complex in their collection however, the deep-set flavours satisfy me beyond description. Odd for some to understand, but I have a nostalgic / emotional connection and there is not much more I can add save for, it is comparable to hugging an old friend you haven’t seen for years. The bouquet is breathtaking and evocative with wild strawberry, black raspberry, sweet spice, cedar, pencil wood and orange peel. Scents of autumnal woodland emerge with more aeration. It’s so homely and incredibly inviting – I'm swooning! The palate is perfectly balanced. The fruit is judiciously ripe and balanced with a zip of blood orange acidity and super-fine tannins. The harmony, grace and presence are as attractive as the fruit itself – ethereal and exquisitely defined. Poured with Zalto Burgundy glassware and straight from the bottle. Decant If you wish (one hour will suffice). Exceptional now but has the potential to age for 8-10 years. Unquestionably, my favourite and most sustaining Pinot Noir in 2020…”
"What a brilliant Campbell Ranch!
98 Points - Magdalena Sienkiewicz "Sampled after decanting. Beautiful perfume oozes from the glass, alluring and almost exotic. Strawberries, wild forest fruit with a dusting of spice and a great citrus lift. Although young, the palate shows incredible texture with summer fruits infused with sweet spice and filigree tannins. What a beautifully crafted Pinot Noir – sensuous, lively and so effortless. The expectations here were high given my fond memories of the 2012, 2013 and the superb 2014 vintage. What a brilliant Campbell Ranch! I’m impressed."
Anthill Farms Campbell Ranch Syrah 2018
"One of the stars in this range...
94-97 Points - Antonio Galloni "One of the stars in this range, the 2018 Syrah Campbell Ranch is exceptionally beautiful. Inky, unctuous, spice, lavender and menthol infuse the 2018 with tons of flavor complexity, but it is the wine's textural richness that stands out most. The 2018 is simply dazzling. That's all there is to it."
Winemaker "This is our other 2 acre Syrah site that we lease and farm near the Sonoma Coast in Annapolis. 100% Syrah here, and a sweet counterpoint to the Peters. Wafting spice infused black fruit and floral aromas are exceptionally gorgeous this year. There is a power and texture that makes each sip increasingly pleasing. The wine brims with brooding cool climate Syrah tastes and textures that makes putting off picking until mid October worthwhile for us. Drink over the next 15 years. 13.1% ABV."
Anthill Farms Baker Ranch Pinot Noir 2018
"Another stellar wine in this range from Anthill Farms"
94-96 Points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Baker Ranch is another stellar wine in this range from Anthill Farms. Exotic spice, star anise, blood orange, mint, incense, and succulent red cherry notes all run through the 2018. Deep, dense and creamy, with tremendous fruit richness, the Baker Ranch is vivid and wonderfully complete."
Winemaker "A watershed year for Baker as the surrounding factors and attention to detail in the vineyard have made our favorite version to date. Red cherry and plum, baking spice, dried carnation, orange peel and nuances of fresh mushroom explode from the glass, giving an impression of power—however, the elegance we always enjoy from this site is still what defines it. Flavors are equally vivid and deep, and the mouthfeel is generously textured without veering into heavy. Baker Ranch reveals the terroir and vintage distinction in a way that always indicates its proximity to the Mendocino Coast. Drink over the next decade. 13.5% ABV."
Anthill Farms Harmony Lane Pinot Noir 2018
"One of the most complete, arrestingly beautiful wines I have ever tasted..."
94-96 Points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Harmony Lane is one of the most complete, arrestingly beautiful wines I have ever tasted from Anthill Farms. Dark, rich and unctuous, the 2018 possesses notable depth and yet it remains translucent, nuanced and super-expressive. The 50% whole clusters are not especially evident. Lavender, mint and blue/purplish fruit infuse this exquisitely layered, inviting Pinot."
Anthill Farms Comptche Ridge Pinot Noir 2018
"Beguiling in its aromatics and finely sculpted... marvelously complex."
94-96 Points - Antonio Galloni "Another stellar wine in this range, the 2018 Pinot Noir Comptche Ridge is fabulous. In this vintage, the Comptche Ridge is a bit richer and deeper than it has been, while avoiding some of the austerity this wine can show. Beguiling in its aromatics and finely sculpted, the 2018 is marvelously complex. There is plenty of tannin, and the acids are bright (as they are for all these wines), but the 2018 is deep and so multi-faceted. It will appeal most to readers who enjoy taut, structured reds."
Winemaker "Along with Campbell Ranch and Abbey Harris, Comptche Ridge makes up the 3 sites we lease and have complete control over the farming. In 2018 this wine commands attention for its marvelously complex and expressive character. Incredibly floral at first, then spice and dark fruits take over with the sites petrichor scents and flavors developing after exposing to air. Depth of flavor, length on the palate and longevity to age define this vintage of Comptche, and speak to this sites greatness. Drink over the next 15 years. 13.8% ABV."
Anthill Farms Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2018
"Understated, vibrant and classy... one of my favorites in this range."
93-95 points - Antonio Galloni "The 2018 Pinot Noir Hawk Hill is one of the more refined wines in this range. Crushed flowers, sweet red berries, mint, chalk and blood orange give this mid-weight Pinot striking aromatic presence. Understated, vibrant and classy, the 2018 is so finessed and so sculpted. It is one of my favorites in this range.
We sit down with Cameron and Allister from Elderton Wines as we introduce their new releases to the UK