Wednesday Wines – Episode 79 – Five spectacular wines

Episode 79 – 29th September 2021

Five spectacular wines this week including a few familiar names!


2012 Ayala, La Perle, Champagne, France RRP £105.00, to be released in October

2012 was Caroline Latrive’s first vintage as Chef de Cave at Ayala, and I visited her in 2012, and I remember her excitement and also her optimism about turning this once-famous house back into one of the greats in the region.  It is, therefore, a great pleasure to finally taste a wine which she must have felt, at the time, would set the scene for her tenure at Ayala.  Caroline has described the 2012 vintage as being “Characterised by a very particular climatology and absolutely perfect grape health at the harvest. The extracted musts were of exceptional quality, very healthy, and the Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs turned out to be particularly concentrated and characterful. A vintage reminiscent of  the generosity of 2002, combined with the tension of 2008.”  I can echo her sentiments because this is a sensational release.  Made from a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir it shows just how passionate Caroline is about the Chardonnay grape, and the fruit is superbly harmonious, deep and resonant and yet, at the same time, pure, clean, summery and floral.  This is a masterful exercise in balancing decadent with poise, and it is drinking beautifully already!  18/20 (Drink now – 2030)


2015 Lenz, Riesling Trocken, Emrich-Schönleber, Nahe, Germany £17.28

This is one of the most remarkable wines I have tasted all year.  The fruit is sensational, and the control and delicacy is mesmerising.  What I find irresistible is that at six years old and drinking perfectly, there is still insanely toothsome chalky acidity that keeps this luxurious wine in check.  Delicate and exceptionally detailed, I am not ashamed to say that this is a bottle of wine that I would destroy in record time simply because I cannot put the glass down.  It is sheer heaven and a bargain to boot.  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2030)


2018 Rosso di Montalcino, Il Colle, Tuscany, Italy (£186.00 in bond for 12 bottles (limited to five cases online – do call to enquire further), Haynes Hanson & Clark tel. 020 7584 79274 &

While I have a few rather expensive wines this week, I have two bargains for you, and this is my red pick!  Il Colle is a tremendous estate, but it is not a spotlight-seeking producer so you can be forgiven if you have not come across it before.  I have yet to taste the Brunello that HH&C is offering alongside this wine, but there was a spare bottle of Rosso, and I snapped it up and am excited to share my thoughts with you.  With terrific, juicy cranberry jelly fruit, lovely wild cherry and pomegranate notes and a silky texture, topped off with crisp tannins, this is about as delicious as Rosso gets!  Drinking already but able to hold for a good few years, if you like bright, modern Sangiovese with masses of flair and accuracy, this is a wine you cannot afford to miss.  It works out at about £21 for a bottle once Duty and VAT have been paid, making it one of the deals of 2021.  17.5/20 (Drink now – 2025)

2019 Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy £289.67 inc VAT for 6 bottles (£48.28 each),; £456.00 ib for 12 bottles (£48.20 each),

Le Serre Nuove, the 2nd wine of Bolgheri titan Ornellaia, is on sensational form in 2019.  Initially quiet on the nose, it seems like this might be a shy wine, but it blossoms into a rare treat with a little encouragement.   It is composed, finely-tuned, and quite dry and firm on the finish it doesn’t look as hedonistic as some of the more brash wines from this part of the world, making it a welcome pleasure.  There is a dark and spicy core, but this is enrobed with rather gentlemanly fruit. More intellectually pleasing than hedonistic, I am very taken with this vintage, and it shows that the breeding and sophistication of this property does not stop at the Grand Vin.  With a sub-£50 price tag, it also shows that Ornellaia is keen to attract new fans to its cause, and I think that if you have never tasted the wines from this famous estate, then this would be the ideal wine with which to start a collection.  18+/20 (Drink 2023 – 2030)

2018 Quintessa, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California approx. £900.00 ib for 6 bottles (£182.00 each) from a good selection of merchants – please do have a look online. 

Made from 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 2% Carmenère, 1% Petit Verdot, I have followed Quintessa for many years, and I remember buying the 1996 Quintessa for Bibendum Restaurant’s wine list some 20 years ago and selling it for £145.00!  A lot has changed over the years. While this wine was once seen as a somewhat European-shaped antidote to some of the more terrifying Californian Cabs, it certainly has more gravitas and intensity than it showed back then.  A genuine rival to Opus One in terms of grandeur and excellence, this is certainly the most expressive and enjoyable Quintessa I have tasted.  It opens up gloriously in the glass to reveal a thoroughly stunning wine.  Funnily enough, I have always thought of Quintessa as a kind of Cali-Las Cases in terms of sensuality and expression and I will stick with this comparison for the 2018, too.  19+/20 (Drink 2024 – 2035)