My top 10 wine stars of 2018

Another year almost finished and another year writing about something I love, wine. First let me thank everyone who has followed my ramblings over the last 12 months and whether you’re new to my blog or a regular reader you are all very welcome and hope you will continue to drop in and find out what 2019 has in store, please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section.

Some nice wines again in 2018, there were lots more I tasted but didn’t review but here is a selection of some of the best this year featuring my first 9/10 corks. So wishing you all a very happy New Year and hope you come back soon and see what 2019 has in store. In the meantime please enjoy my top ten affordable stars of 2018……..

1…Waimea Elara Sauvignon Blanc (Oak Aged)  New Zealand – £11.99 Majestic    9/10 Corks    

Elara Oak aged Sauvignon Blanc

Definitely, my favourite wine of the year This certainly wasn’t subtle,intensely aromatic but it was the use of oak which really set this apart.
In the glass, the colour surprised me, much darker (golden) than I thought it would be with a nose of freshly cut grass, tomato stalks, gooseberry and a little honey. The first mouthful just blew me away, gooseberries, fruit cocktail, asparagus and a touch of woodiness with a hint of oak from I’m guessing, the Battonage process . On the WSET systematic approach, I rate this close to outstanding, using the Robert Parker score I rate it 92/100 and of course my 9/10 corks.

2… Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay – Chile – £9.99 Majestic 8.75/10 Corks

Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay

Rich golden colour and this immediately gives you an idea of how this is going to smell and taste. Aromas of, for me, what smelt like freshly baked Frangipane tart, there was also some smoke and very ripe tropical fruit. Taste-wise, again, you get a mouthful of intense tropical fruit along with toasty vanilla with a smoky aftertaste. There is some acidity which brings a freshness but overall this is pretty lavish and in your face.
Yes it’s rich, yes it’s full on and yes it’s delicious, a very nice Chilean Chardonnay you must try.

3… Marques de Los Rios, White Rioja – Spain – £13 Morrisons 8.75/10 Corks

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How many of you guys have tried white Rioja? if not, why not, you don’t know what you are missing and if they get it right as in this bottle then the result is a comparable white to a top-notch Burgundy.
Rich golden honey like with wonderful aromas of peaches, apricots, almonds, toast, vanilla and butter.
When White Rioja is good it’s very good and this is one of the better ones I’ve tasted for a while and well done Morrisons for stocking it even if it’s the wrong side of £10.

4…Ca’Marrone Rosso Appassimento 2016 – Italy – Tesco £9 8.5/10 Corks

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Medium ruby colour with strong aromas of dark fruits predominantly cherry, plum and blackcurrant, there is also a whiff of dried herbs and some vanilla.
On first sip you can tell this is a powerhouse, initially intense sweet and sour dark fruits hit you before the pronounced tannins kick in. Secondary flavours of tobacco, leather and dried herbs arrive filling your mouth with a richness and depth of flavour you get with the Appassimento method.
This is a proper grown-up wine and not for the fainthearted but watch out for the 14.5% abv, although it doesn’t feel like it at first but be warned it does creep up on you and be sure to hang on to something or someone before attempting to stand after a glass or two.

5…Graham Beck Brut – South Africa- Waitrose – £14.99 – 8.5/10 Corks

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Blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, spending 15 months or so on Lees this stunning sparkler was apparently served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and again served up for Barack Obama’s presidential win.
Darkish golden colour with a lively mousse and pronounced aromas of yeast and nuts with some lemony fruit along with a creamy and long finish. A touch of sweetness added to its appeal and overall it was very Champagney in flavour.
Don’t take my word for it, go out and buy some , you won’t be disappointed

6…Chapel Down Bacchus 2015 – England – Waitrose £13- 8.5/10 Corks

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For anyone who hasn’t tasted the delights of English wine, why not? This Bacchus from Chapel Down winery nestled in the Kent countryside is an absolute beauty, especially for those of you who are Sauvignon Blanc fans.
Pale straw like colour with pronounced aromas of grapefruit, lemon, limes and something herbaceous. Once that first sip is taken you’ll be hooked on what tastes like fresh nettles, followed by grapefruit, grass and limes. It’s intense and very sharp. Some say it’s the English equivalent of Sauvignon Blanc and I have to say it has a lot of similar characteristics but with a little more of that bracing acidity.

7…Kaapzitch Chenin Blanc 2017 – South Africa- Waitrose £13.99 – 8.5/10 Corks

Kaapzicht Chenin Blanc

Every now and then you open a bottle and Wow! is the first thing that springs to mind and this is what happened when I first opened this Kaapzicht Chenin Blanc.
Barrel fermented laying on lees for 3 months ending up with a wine that has a rich mouthful of tropical fruits including peach, apricot, honeydew melon along with a slight creaminess and hint of vanilla. In some ways very similar to a richer style Chardonnay. There is a resemblance of sweetness but I would say this is more off-dry with bright acidity even a touch of spritz and a nice long finish.

8…ANDA Tempranillo/Syrah – Spain – Waitrose £7.99 – 8.5/10 Corks

ANDA Tempranillo/Syrah

Big, Bold & Beautiful. Most people think of Andalucia as mainly a holiday area full of hotels, tourists, sunloungers and fiesta, so when you see this bottle on the shelf although there’s no doubting it’s a Spanish wine with its colourful abstract Flamenco label, where it’s from may come as a surprise. This is a blend of Tempranillo 50% and Syrah 50% made in the cool ‘Laujar valley’ vineyards high up in the Almeria Province of Andalucia, located between Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Gador mountain ranges.  Mainly dark fruits, blackberry prominent, dark plums, perhaps some cherry and raspberries along with a hefty kick of tannins. I’ve seen reviews of this saying that the tannins are soft but let me tell you they are anything but soft which adds to a grippiness to the wine. There is a woodiness from the 8 months or so spent in French oak barrels but nicely balanced with the fruit and still tasting fresh. A peppery spice from the Syrah adds to its appeal.

9…Les Dauphins, Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2017- France – Waitrose £7.49 – 8.5/10 Corks

Les dauphins Cotes du Rhone

If you ever find yourself struggling to decide which wine to open for guests, whether it be a dinner party or just a get together with friends then reach for a bottle of Les Dauphins and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 
Originating from the Southern Rhone region the range is traditionally Grenache based giving it a fruitiness which appeals to most palates. This particular bottle is a Cotes Du Rhone Villages signifying a step up in quality from a specific village in the region. Aromas of strawberry and ripe plums immediately hit you along with a very appealing smokiness. On first sip it tasted a little drier than I thought it would which was good for me. Fresh ripe red fruits dominate with a hint of warming peppery spice. Lovely acidity and balanced tannins, good with or without food.

10… Lugana – Italy – Asda £9 – 8/10 Corks

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he label doesn’t give much away but apparently, it’s a local variant of Trebbiano, tasting very much like a Verdicchio to me. Crisp citrus fruits, lemony, a hint of stewed pears along with some tangerine and finishing with a nutty texture.
There was some spice and overall it had a nice balance between freshness and texture, great with food but equally at home just as a stand alone drink. Lovely example of a wine with a little more about it than your run of the mill white and a bottle that will most definitely find its way into my basket next time I’m in Asda.

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