Spanish and USA red / Fortified and sparkling
BARDOS ROMANTICA CRIANZA Ribera del Duero Spain 2016 The Vintae group is one of the most innovative wine companies in Spain, working with a collection of wineries throughout the country, and creating high-quality wines at consistently good prices with strikingly distinctive modern packaging. The company’s Bardos operation in Ribera del Duero is no exception, as the Crianza, made from old, low-yielding vines in Quintanilla de Onésimo, proves. “Lovely bright, keen succulent damson fruit, typical of good Ribera Tempranillo [Tinta del País],” the judges said. “There’s a pleasing streak of freshness and just enough grippy tannin. Overall this is excellent value, with great fruit and complexity.”
RAYMOND VINEYARDS COLLECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON California, USA 2016 The Raymond family’s roots in the Napa Valley go back to the 1930s, and they were one of the early trailblazers in the region’s modern rise to fine-wine prominence, founding a 36ha estate in Rutherford in 1970. The family now has some 121ha, spread between Rutherford, St Helena and Jameson Canyon, which they farm using biodynamic and organic practices. And the green ideas extend to power: 100% of its needs come from renewables. Sourced from vineyards throughout California, this Cabernet has “vivid juicy fruitiness, full of summer berry fun,” the judges said. “A real blast of California Cab sunshine.”
IRONSTONE OLD VINE ZINFANDEL Lodi, California, USA 2016 California’s Lodi region has become synonymous with Zinfandel. It now produces around 40% of all the state’s Zin, its stocks of old vines making wines of heady intensity that have loyal fans all over the world. Ironstone is, in turn, synonymous with Lodi, the estate, run by the Kautz Family, producing this Top 100-winning Zin from fruit grown in the Mokelumne River sub-appellation, with its sandy loam soils and Mediterranean climate. “Just a total bargain, the kind of thing that you would go to an indie to find,” the Top 100 judges said.
BODEGAS HIDALGO LA GITANA MANZANILLA EN RAMA Sanlúcar de Barremeda, Spain NV Bodegas Hidalgo’s La Gitana Manzanilla is one of the world’s most consistent and best value wines, showing the salty-savoury charm of Sanlúcar in a supremely drinkable way. Bottled without filtration or cold stabilisation straight from the barrel, the En Rama – or raw – version takes all that La Gitana character and intensifies it, making a wine that wows Sherry-lovers each year with its vibrancy.
“Blueberry fruits and spices, raisins; chocolatey and juicy but fortunately not too sweet or crazy big and alcoholic as Zins can sometimes be.”
The Top 100 judges are among the fans. “Chalky and nutty, and surprisingly full,” they said. “There’s so much freshness here and notes of honey and hazlenut. Complex but so, so drinkable.”
FONSECA TERRA PRIMA ORGANIC PORT Douro, Portugal NV The first-ever organic Port on its initial release in 2002, Terra Prima was the result of Fonseca’s pioneering the viticultural practice in the region, having set aside a portion of its Quinta do Panascal for organic production in 1992. Today, the entirety of Fonseca’s Quinta de Santo António in the Pinhão Valley is given over to organic production. The judges had no idea of any of this when they were tasting Terra Prima, however. Their only considerations were quality and value for money. And they loved it, making it the second Fonseca wine to make it into the 2019 Top 100. “Elegant, opulent, deliciously ripe and fresh black fruit, great balance,” they said.
Hallgarten & Novum Wines
Walker & Wodehouse
RRP £13.99 ABV 14%
RRP £19.99 ABV 13.5%
RRP £8.24 ABV 14.5%
RRP £18 ABV 15%
RRP £18 ABV 20%
The Wine Merchant Top 100
The Wine Merchant Top 100 Winners Supplement 2019