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On the tasting counter this week:

Alasia Roero Arneis 2019
Limited Parcel

In a nutshell: A crisp, ripe, dry native Piedmontese white from the Roero hills just north of the town of Alba.
The lowdown: Roero Arneis DOCG is white wine made from the native Piedmontese variety Arneis grown in the small wine area of Roero that lies just north of Barolo and Barbaresco and sits alongside Gavi di Gavi as one of Piedmont's top whites. Fresh aromas of ripe pear with tropical and almond notes lead onto a clean, soft and textural palate packed with stone fruit and apricot notes with touches of fennel, clove and a bit of herbal and nuttiness on the finish. A charming white that offers some real complexity and not often seen over in the UK.
When to drink: Try with seafood risotto, freshwater fish such as trout, or Asian-style seafood dishes.

Araldica 'Corsini', Barbaresco 2015
Limited Parcel

In a nutshell: Amazing value complex and rich Barbaresco that's matured nicely into its drinking window.
The lowdown: The Piedmontese wine region of Barbaresco is one of the most highly regarded in Italy and sits alongside its neighbour Barolo in producing the ultimate expressions of Nebbiolo wines. This fantastic value Barbaresco from the very good 2015 vintage is made from Nebbiolo grown in the three commumes of Treiso, Neive and Barbaresco, hand-harvested, and matured in traditional large Slavonian oak barrels for two years before bottling, where a further maturation period takes place before release. Wonderful typical lifted aromas of red berry fruit, black cherries and hints of violets and savoury spice. The palate is medium-bodied, smooth and enveloping with mild tannins, a depth to the dried cherry and plum fruit flavours, slight smoky notes and a long, rich finish.
When to drink: Drinking now though will keep for another 5 years or so. Works really well with grilled red meat, lamb in particular, or hearty stews that are typical of the region.

Bodegas Roda 'Sela', Rioja 2018
Wine of the Month

In a nutshell: An elegant, intense and fruit-driven Rioja.
The lowdown: Sela, is their younger, entry-level, Rioja and is Tempranillo dominated and completed with a little Graciano and Garnacha. It's carefully aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and is an elegant, medium-bodied wine with fresh and flavourful red fruits, hints of sweet spice with polished and silky tannins. Everything is very well integrated and the finish is satisfyingly persistent.
When to drink: A wine that combines freshness and maturity it's versatile enough to match with roast beef, or spicy Indian dishes.

Castillo de Eneriz Reserva, Navarra 2013

In a nutshell: An aged and developed red from Spain's northern Navarra region, adjacent to Rioja.
The lowdown: Castillo de Eneriz, close to Pamplona, is the Navarra winery of Bodegas Manzanos and from where they produce their excellent range of wines from this region. This Reserva is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominated blend which has been aged in French and American oak barrels for 18 months before bottling. It has rich flavours and aromas of red fruits, raisins and plums, liquorice, cassis, cedar and woody spices. The well-integrated tannins give a good structure and it rounds off with a nice mature and evolved finish.
When to drink: A flavour-packed mature Spanish red. Just the thing to pair with lamb chops, steaks, or chicken.

Ciu Ciu 'Merlettaie' Pecorino, Offida 2020

In a nutshell: An organic, fresh, crisp and layered Italian white from the hills of the Marche region near the Adriatic coast.
The lowdown: Pecorino is the signature white grape of this part of the Marche region and is not seen much outside it. This cuvée from Ciù Ciù is fermented and aged for six months on oak which gives it a bit of creamy vanilla character and silkiness on the palate. It has a complex mineral nose of citrus fruit, pears, herbs and almonds and a beautifully defined palate of taut citrus and pear fruit, interlaced with white pepper and a zesty long finish.
When to drink: A wine with real definition and class, it's a prime candidate to pair with seafood, risotto, or poached salmon.

Olivier Coste Mourvedre 'Illegal' 2019

In a nutshell: Approachable dark and fruity Mourvedre from a tiny appellation in the Languedoc of South West France.
The lowdown: Part of Olivier Coste's 'Languedoc Stars' series Illegal is a celebration of a modern, fruit-forward and approachable single varietal Mourvedre from the Languedoc. So named Illegal as the tiny appellation where the vineyard is located doesn't allow Mourvedre to form part of its wines, so rather than scrub up the 30-year-old vines Olivier Coste has simply labelled his wine Vin de France! Grown on a south-facing plot with schist soils the grapes are hand-harvested in the cool of the night to preserve freshness and after fermentation are matured for 18 months in concrete; this wine sees no oak, it is all about the purity of fruit. Bright aromas of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with notes of dried spice, herbs and black pepper. The palate is big, soft and smooth with natural freshness, ripe tannins and a long fruity finish.
When to drink: Great with traditional Languedoc dishes such as Clapassade (slowly simmered lamb based dish) and hearty meat stews, though also works well with barbecues and any grilled red meat or vegetables.

Olivier Coste Carignan Blanc 'Rare' 2020

In a nutshell: Fresh, dry, aromatic white from the Languedoc made with the very rare Carignan Blanc variety.
The lowdown: There are less than 250 hectares of this rare Mediterranean grape left in existence and Olivier Coste has a tiny two-hectare parcel by the sea near the village of Castelnau-de-Guers in the picturesque Languedoc region of South West France. Part of his 'Languedoc Stars' collection of wines that are all about modern, fresh, fruit-forward interpretations of classic Mediterranean varieties made from old vines in a sustainable way. This vineyard benefits from cooling Mediterranean breezes allowing for balanced, natural acidity and real freshness. This freshness is enhanced by harvesting at night and maturing in stainless steel tanks, which also preserves the wonderful aromas. Clean and crisp floral aromas with citrus and stone fruit notes lead onto a dry, bright, medium-bodied palate with vibrant citrus fruit flavours complemented by touches of almond and a real flinty minerality running through the body of the wine.
When to drink: As the vineyard overlooks the Étang de Thau known for its oysters and mussels they make a perfect accompaniment!

Olivier Coste Carignan Noir 'Je t'aime' 2020

In a nutshell: Rich and fruity, organic, old-vine Carignan from the Languedoc.
The lowdown: Carignan was once one of the workhorse grapes of South West France but all has changed and now old Carignan vineyards produce some of the stars of the Languedoc, of which Oliver Coste's 'Je t'aime' is one. From a vineyard of 60-year-old, organically farmed, low-yielding vines in the Minervois appellation, hand-harvested in the cool of the night to preserve freshness and matured in concrete to retain the purity of the fruit. In the glass intense aromas of ripe dark fruits with touches of spice lead onto a full and smooth palate with a cool freshness to the dark fruit flavours, spice and garrigue-y notes.
When to drink: Works really well with spicy and flavourful meat dishes such as curry or North African-style lamb, as well as simple roasted or grilled red meat and vegetables.

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