Last night I had a chance to look at the 2014s from London’s Urban winery London Cru. For those unfamiliar with the winery, see this article based on a visit when they were taking in their first harvest in 2013, and my report on the first releases.
The 2014s are looking very good. As with the 2013s, they are consistent, and made in a lovely balanced style, with a bit of generosity but also freshness and definition. These are of course barrel samples, so the final wines will be a bit different. I’ve added some notes from winemaker Gavin Monery about each. He adds that he’s actively looking for more growers to supply grapes, especially Chardonnay from the Haut Vallee in Limoux or Jura, and Chenin from the Loire.
Gavin says: ‘The Chardonnay was the same vineyard as last year in the Roussillon. It was whole bunch pressed, no enzymes, 20ppm S02 added at the press, settled overnight and racked into barrel at about 300 NTU to try and foster a textural element and a little bit of reduction. I used 5 different yeasts, plus did some barrels natural and some started natural then I added S. cerevisiae after 5 days. It’s still on the gross lees right now and hasn’t been racked, stirred or touched, simply topped up. I cut the malo short this year, adding SO2 when the malic was 0.6g/L to try and keep some leanness to it. It’s mostly in 3 year old oak, with one new barrique out of 14.’
My comment: Beautifully bright and lemony with fresh fruit and a bit of pithiness, allied to some pear and peach richness and a hint of fennel. 90-92/100
This year it is from Calatayud in Spain. Gavin says: ‘We took a 6 tonne lot from a lovely vineyard at 900 m, with decomposed granite soils and split it into three batches: one was 100% destemmed, one had 20% whole bunch and one had 40%. They’re all still ageing separately at the moment so the exact final blend is still up in the air, but this sample was an even blend of all three.’
My comment: Lovely supple bright raspberry and cherry fruit with some appealing spicy notes and grippy tannins. Fresh and pure with lovely precision. 20% whole cluster. 91-93/100
Same grower as 2013, but different plots. Gavin says: ‘The Barbera was a better site than 2013. As we paid on time and they liked the way we worked so we got upgraded apparently! The 2014 is from a small parcel at the top of a hill with good exposure. It gets good light through most of the day and is windy, so helps ripen Barbera fully and protects against disease, as the Barbera bunches are tight and skins thin, so Botrytis especially is a big risk.’
My comment: Lovely black cherry and plum fruit. Sweet, fresh, juicy and focused with hints of liqourice and spice. 90-92/100
From Cayatalud. gavin says: ‘The Grenache was one parcel of three separate vineyards we had to pick on the one day, as they were all small and low yielding. Each vineyard had different aspects and soils, but all the vines were around 90 years old and bush trained. The one shown last night is grown at 850 m and faces southwest so gets hot afternoon sun. Despite the cold nights it is still pretty ripe and full throttle, though the acidity (pH3.41, TA 7.7) keeps it nice and fresh. It’ll age well but just doesn’t work in a blend with the other two. The other two are at 950 m and 1000 m, face south and are much more delicate, floral and expressive. They’re also quite light as with the whole bunch I didn’t want to over extract tannin so was only punching down once or twice a day.’
My comment: Rich, sweet, fresh berry fruits with some spicy peppery notes. Smooth with some liqueur-likenotes. Pretty, rich, ripe. 89-91/100