There are some wines that get us very excited here at Baythorne Wines, and the Passo Antico is certainly one of them. Few wines combine such vibrant flavours, rich texture and exception value for money.
Here are the headlines: Appassimento method, 100 year old vines, full bodied, flavoursome, fresh and a rare Sardinian wine at this price.
The wine is one of the growing number of Italian wines made in the appassimento style, whereby at least a portion of the grapes are air-dried following harvest to intensify the flavour and sugars. This ensures a depth of flavour, but what is so appealing about the Passo Antico is that it hasn't reduced the freshness and vibrancy, and neither has it resulted in either excessive sweetness or high alcohol levels that can happen. What we have here is something of a Sardinian masterpiece.
The dominant grape is Cannonau (the Sardinian name for Grenache) blended with Carignan and Barbera Sarda (only found on Sardinia). It's made by Cantina Bortolato Emanuela, a mainland Italian producer based in Veneto, but working with wineries dotted around the country and islands. They produce exceptional wines and this one shows an intense aroma of stewed autumnal fruits, and on the palate it's fairly full bodied, with an intense flavour of damson and fresh summer fruit notes in the background.
This is a wine that should be in everyone's wine rack.
2019 Malbec, Sierra Alta, Mendoza, Argentina
This well balanced Malbec certainly offers a lot of flavour for the money. It's grown in the high altitude vineyards of Mendoza where intense sunshine for most of the year and cool night time temperatures produce grapes that create wines with a perfect balance between flavour and texture. A vibrant and juicy Malbec made from grapes grown at high altitude in Mendoza. Flavours of black cherry, ripe plum and hints of chocolate over supple tannins.
2019 Bourgogne Gamay, Hospices de Beaujeu, Burgundy, France
We chose this wine in preference to a number of wines from Beaujolais during recent tastings. It really does capture the characteristics of the gamay grape well. Vibrant raspberry and cherry aromas lead to a palate that is lightweight yet full flavoured. A very easy drink that could be served slightly chilled on warm days.
2019 Pinot Noir, Montsable, Languedoc, France
This classic Burgundian variety has been produced in the sunny climate of Languedoc in the south of France. Although much warmer than the climate of the Cote d'Or, great care has been taken to ensure that it is every bit as elegant. Red ruby colour. Aromatic nose of black cherries with elegant floral notes. On the palate, this Pinot Noir is silky and well balanced, with smooth tannins.
This has to be one of the most impressive wines you will find at this price. It is wonderfully rich, smooth textured and flavoursome, largely due to the partial drying of some of the grapes prior to the wine production process. There are intense red fruit on the nose and the palate is warm and full-bodied with harmonious acidity and smooth and elegant tannins. Baglio Gibellina is situated in picturesque Sicily where its vineyards are surrounded by the hills of Salemi and Santa Ninfa.
2018 Hopes End Red, Angove Estate, South Australia, Australia
Angove Family Winemakers is a fifth generation South Australian family winery with a passion for crafting iconic and single vineyard wines from McLaren Vale as well as a selection of premium wines from some of South Australia's great wine growing regions.Soft lush boysenberry marmalade and cherry jam laced with subtle new oak. This red blend is intriguing and indulgent. Silky velvet smooth on the palate, showing hints of vanilla and chocolate, with a long, lingering length. Perfect with steak or hearty pasta dishes.
2020 Lomo Alto (red blend), Castillo de Aresan, Castilla, Spain
You'll be very hard-pressed to find a more impressive wine at this price than this absolute cracker from Castillo de Aresan. Few wines pack so much flavour and texture into such a well-priced package.
The Lomo Alto is one of the stars of their range. It's a blend of grapes (Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot), all of which perform well in the hot La Mancha climate. The vineyards are at an average 750m altitude, so the cooler nighttime temperatures ensure the grapes retain a good level of acidity and lead to well-balanced wines.
This wine isn't barrel-aged, however, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is, such is the depth and complexity of flavour. It's rich in texture and has concentrated flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant and sweet spice.
The bottle's label suggests that this is a wine to accompany your favourite cut of beef. Indeed it will do very well, but to be honest, this is a wine to be enjoyed every day of the week with whatever you're eating. We certainly do.
2020 Saumur Champigny, Les Gravieres du Roy, Loire Valley, France
This exceptional Cabernet Franc is ripe and juicy. It has a fabulous bouquet of summer berries that continue on to the palate. There is also a herbal note in the background, and on the palate it has a delightfully smooth finish. This is a great introduction to the red wines of this part of the Loire Valley, most of which are produced from the Cabernet Franc grape.
2020 Pays de l'Aude Rouge, Le Havre de Paix, Languedoc, France
This friendly red from the Aude Valley is just what you expect from Southern France. It's light, fruity and very easy drinking. The berry fruit and gentle texture make this the perfect wine to have in the wine rack. It's a lovely glass on its own and great with lighter dishes.
2018 Cotes du Rhone, Chateau de Domazan, Rhone Valley, France
Château de Domazan was built in the 14th century in the middle of Côte du Rhône vineyard, nearby Avignon.
The ground is covered with large pebbles that were rolled and rounded on the old Rhône bed. These pebbles that can weigh up to 30 kg are very beneficial to the grapes because they provide excellent conditions for ripening. They store up the heat from the sun during the day and release it slowly through the mild summer nights.
This is an excellent value Cotes du Rhone with a floral and spicy aroma. On the palate it is nicely rounded with a concentrated red berry flavour.
2018 Merlot, La Girouette, Languedoc, France
Well we certainly can't be accused of not listening to our customers. 'I'd like a soft, juicy Merlot?' is a common question we get asked, so we went on the hunt for one and found this little gem. It's from the Languedoc in France where the sun-baked vineyards produce wonderfully ripe grapes brimming with flavour. This great example is soft textured, with jammy blackberry and juicy plum flavours and well-integrated, creamy tannins. It's smooth, supple and balanced. The 'La Girouette' label range are classic French varietals from the sunny Pays d'Oc region. Produced by multi-award winning cooperative Foncalieu; pioneers of agronomic research and terroir expression
2018 Tempranillo Red, Vina Mariposa, Spain
Terrific value Tempranillo from northern Spain. This easy drinking red shows off a great level of fruit for a wine at this price. Ripe strawberry and cherry are joined by a hint of spice on the palate. A versatile wine that is easy going enough to drink on its own, but it will happily accompany white meats, simple suppers and barbecues.
2020 Morgon, Hospices de Beaujeu, Beaujolais, France
Wow, this is one of the most vivid and flavoursome Beaujolais we have tried in a long time. The deep colour and floral aroma are very enticing, and then on the palate the fruit really comes through. There is a little bit of grip to the tannins, making this a little fuller than many reds from this region, and this should see it to a couple of years of development if you can resist it for that long.
2016 Salice Salentino, Borgo dei Trulli, Puglia, Italy
Deep violet colour, with pleasant earthy aromas of blackcurrants, vanilla and chocolate. The palate is velvety, elegant and complex. The finish is well-balanced and persistent. Produced in the central part of the Salento region, close to the Salice Salentino DOP area, and a site where many Trulli were once sited. Trullo are the traditional houses of the farm workers dating back to the Middle Ages.