Decanter unveils their Sparkling and Red Wines of the Year 2020


Decanter has revealed their Sparkling and Red Wines of the Year list in the latest (January 2021) issue of the magazine, and we are delighted to have a selection from our portfolio included in the line-up.

Decanter World Wine Awards Regional Chairs, key contributors and Decanter staff were asked to nominate the "classic, offbeat and value wines that impressed them most in 2020". The 107 nominated wines were then blind-tasted and ranked by a trio of judges: Decanter contributing editor Andy Howard MW; Ronan Sayburn MS and Beth Willard, buying manager for Direct Wines.

The 'Top Red' and overall top-scoring wine of the tasting with 98 points is the Allegrini `Fieramonte` Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2012. Andy Howard MW said: "It was an outstanding example of the genre. Its age, depth, complexity of flavour and alcohol - everything was beautifully balanced."

The 'Top Sparkling Wine' of the tasting with 96 points is the Arras 'E.J. Carr' Late Disgorged 2004 from Tasmania, which "stole the judges' hearts with its maturity, complexity and 'sheer deliciousness - I'd very happily drink that any day', said Howard."

Please see the full list of our Decanter Sparkling and Red Wines of the Year below, with judges' tasting notes and availability details. Some wines are no long available for purchase but we have included them here, in case you have some to sell or on your wine rack at home!





Allegrini, `Fieramonte` Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva 2012, Italy

Top Red Wine - 98 points - Exceptional
A lovely amarone, this has all the characteristics you would hope for. Warmth on the palate, intriguing, slightly raisined fruits and restrained acidity. The sugar feels very low. Fine structure, elegant and seems much lower than the stated 16.5% alcohol. Retains a coolness on the palate which makes the wine extremely drinkable. There is a lot of disappointing amarone out there; this is a bottle to put thing to rights! Andy Howard MW
Dense and concentrated nose of espresso, dates, chocolate, dried fruit and raisins, forest floor and black forest gateau on the palate. Rich, full with heavy alcohol. Long, complex and delicious. Ronan Sayburn MS
Attractive aged character to this wine. Really intense dried fruit, big and rich with a long finish. Shows off the region and (Corvina) variety very well. Even though obvious, the oak is well integrated, and there is good potential to age further. Beth Willard

Very limited availability, please contact your sales representative for details
We say: This 3.86 hectare single vineyard (pictured above) Amarone is the jewel in the Allegrini crown. At 415 metres above sea level and with a south-east facing exposure, the vines benefit from the precious morning sunshine. Vinification is typically meticulous; hand-picked bunches of grapes are transported to the drying facilities, where they are laid to dry until the January following the harvest, losing 40-50% of their weight, before being de-stemmed and softly pressed. Fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks, and then the wine is aged in French oak barriques for 48 months, with a further year in bottle before release. The wine is reminiscent of ripe Valpolicella cherries, combined with deep notes of black pepper and cloves. The combination of origin and winemaking has brought the wine great intensity and structure – the palate is full, fresh and balanced, with a subtle mineral note to the finish.​


Arras, `E.J. Carr` Late Disgorged 2004, Australia

Top Sparkling Wine - 96 points - Outstanding
Great complexity on the nose and palate. Intriguing pea-pod characters, hints of oyster shell, a saline influence combined with bright stone fruits. Great precision on the palate with fine-boned acidity and a long, lingering aftertaste. This has great development of smoky, umami character, all kept in check by laser-like acidity, along with great purity on the finish. Very fine. Andy Howard MW
Complex and rich nose of toasted brioche and nuts with deep mango and peach fruit. Melted butter on warm toast. Big palate, but structured, with balanced acidity. Ronan Sayburn MS
Smells a bit like home for me, with attractive eucalyptus notes along with lime and lychee. The palate is rich with ripe fruit, but has well-balanced acidity. Showing just a hint of evolution, but incredibly fresh for its 16 years. Very refreshing finish, with a touch of white pepper and spice. Beth Willard

Very limited availability, please contact your sales representative for details
We say: EJ. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 pays tribute to the dedication and inspiration of its maker, EJ. Carr, who in 2018 was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, the only non-Champagne winemaker to be honoured in this category. As the pinnacle of the House of Arras’s wines, this is a wine of great intensity and character, with excellent structural elegance and flavour persistence. After 10 years on lees the wine has great complexity and yet retains the remarkable freshness of the character typical of a world class prestige cuvée. A true expression of Tasmanian terroir and impeccable winemaking.


Henschke, `Mount Edelstone` Eden Valley Shiraz 2015, Australia

96 points - Outstanding
Super-intense blackcurrant and spice nose. The palate is laden with dried fruit, figs, dates and Christmas cake notes. Incredibly ripe fruit, but combined with lovely freshness and balance. This is a big wine but holds all its components well and perfectly demonstrates this style of wine.

Available
We say: The Mount Edelstone vineyard in the Eden Valley was planted in 1912, and today produces low yields from over 100 year-old dry farmed, un-grafted vines. The vineyards are managed by Prue Henschke, who was recently named ‘Outstanding Viticulturalist 2020’ thanks to her position at the forefront of regenerative, sustainable and biodynamic farming in Australia. Prue’s husband Stephen is the fifth-generation winemaker, and their combined skill and dedication have resulted in some of Eden Valley’s most lauded wines. The result of their combined efforts with Mount Edelstone is a distinctive Shiraz, with notes of sage and black pepper, spiced plum and black cherry, crushed herbs and cedar nuances. The tannins are fine and velvety, and the finish is extremely long.


Cullen, `Diana Madeline` Wilyabrup 2018, Australia

95 points - Outstanding
Minty eucalyptus dominates this wine on both the nose and palate. Complex with lots of spice and depth of flavour, but fresh and lively from beginning to end. Very silky, velvety tannins, and balanced acid and alcohol. Seamlessly knitted together to make a refined wine.

Available
We say: In 2019, celebrating 30 years at the helm, Vanya received double Winemaker of the Year honours at both the Australian Women in Wine Awards and the Halliday Wine Companion Awards. James Halliday, Australia’s best-known critic, said, “Vanya’s commitment to improving Cullen Wines while leaving the world a better place is reflected in the winery’s carbon-neutral and naturally powered status.” The Diana Madeline (named after Vanya’s mother, who established the Margaret River estate in 1971 with her husband Kevin John), is a Bordeaux blend which has earned its reputation as one of the great red wines of Australia. The 2018 shows delicious youthful aromas of mulberry, cherry, rose and violets supported by dark chocolate and ferrous inflections. This is a powerful wine with vast, expansive fruit on the palate, and an abundance of fine tannins leading to a fine, detailed finish.



Isole e Olena, `Cepparello` 2016, Italy

95 points - Outstanding
Lively, intense, ripely fruited Sangiovese. This shows all of the richness found in this great vintage. Very good purity and density on the palate, all kept fresh by lively tannins and some great acidity. Dark berry fruits and a hint of slightly dried grapes here.

Sold out
We say: Sourced from the best sites on the Isole e Olena estates, Cepparello is the flagship from this producer. The name ‘Cepparello’ is taken from the old stream ‘Borro Cepparello’ originating at the highest point on the vineyards. Winemaker and owner Paolo De Marchi allowed the 100% Sangiovese to ferment on skins in oak vats at 30-32°C, with délestage and pumping over carried out twice a day to give good colour and soft tannins. The wine was 100% barrel-aged, a third in new French and American oak (with American barrels making up 5% of the total), a third in one year old oak and the remaining third was put into two year old oak. The wine remained in barrel for 20 months and then matured in bottle for one year before release. The result is a masterclass in the combination of concentration, elegance and power.



Charles Heidsieck, Brut Réserve NV, France

93 points - Highly Recommended
Delicate nose with hints of white flower and salty sea air. Subtle and elegant with a lovely balance of acidity and lemony, appley fruit flavours. Firm mousse with a touch of smoke on the palate.

Available in bottle, gift boxed bottle, and magnum formats
We say: Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve continues to set the bar for quality among non-vintage champagnes. 40% of the blend is made up of reserve wines, which themselves have an average age of 10 years. This, coupled with lengthy ageing on lees (36 months), means the wine is built more like a ‘prestige cuvée’. The nose is characterised by complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky-smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. There is perfect balance of freshness and generosity.


Château du Moulin-à-Vent, Moulin-à-Vent `La Rochelle` 2016, France

93 points - Highly Recommended
Rounded and ripe forest fruits, plums and sweet raspberry. Soft and unctuous on the palate with fleshy red fruit. Long, savoury finish.

Very limited availability, please contact your sales representative for details
We say: La Rochelle is one of Château du Moulin-à-Vent’s top single vineyard sites, which they manage with organic and biodynamic practices. Very densely planted vineyards (9,000 vines per hectare) produce low yields (20-35 hectolitres per hectare), and the Gamay grapes are given the royal treatment, resulting in wines which will develop beautifully in bottle. 75% of the grapes were destemmed, the remainder were left as whole clusters, and once fermented, 30% of the wine was aged in used French oak barrels for 18 months. The result is a complex bouquet of raspberries, flowers and spice alongside hints of smoke and liquorice. The palate opens with concentrated notes of bright cherry, raspberry and violets with mineral undertones. Elegant with fine-grained tannins, fresh acidity and an impressive long finish.​



El Coto, `Coto de Imaz` Rioja Gran Reserva 2012, Spain

93 points - Highly Recommended
This is a big, rich style of gran reserva showing toasty, balsamic notes coupled with intense dark berries and spice. Dark fruit, currants and berries, a hint of cool menthol and bright acidity. Drinking well already but with great potential for further development.

Available in bottle and magnum formats
We say: Only the very best grapes from estate vineyards in Rioja Alta were selected for this wine, El Coto’s much lauded Gran Reserva, which also picked up the Best in Show trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2019. The combination of this and the careful winemaking have created a benchmark of Rioja Gran Reserva. The maceration on skins lasted for three to four weeks, followed by fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The resulting wine was then aged in a mixture of French and American oak (75% new) for a minimum of 24 months, followed by 36 months ageing in bottle prior to release. Mature and elegant, its rich aromatic complexity is initially subtle, revealing itself more and more as the wine breathes. Toasted oak nuances and coconut give way to notes of leather and damp earth from bottle ageing. On the palate the wine shows exceptional concentration, and a long finish. Silky, rounded tannins accompany fresh red berries, dried raisins and spicy notes.​