This is one of the best value Château-bottled clarets available anywhere. Predominantly from the Merlot grape with smaller percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Château Carignan has been owned for the past decade by Andy Lench, who has raised the quality to its current high level. It has an exhilarating plummy core but with superb focus and a satisfying aftertaste reminiscent of a far more expensive claret. This would partner perfectly with white or red meats and not disgrace anyone’s Christmas dinner.
This is the personal blend of British wine merchant Mark Savage MW, who only produces several hundred cases annually with a slightly different blend each year. His objective is to create an “upmarket house wine”, which as a description, is far too modest. If only all house wines had this sophistication. This particular vintage is fresh and mouth filling, which Mark puts down to the 10% of Petit Verdot grapes, which adds backbone to the usual Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Sagesse means wisdom in French, hence the charming woodcut of an owl on the label. Mark also makes an excellent white varietal wine.
I have tended to avoid the Tempranillo grape from Spain, mainly because for my taste, they tend to be over alcoholic fruit bombs. Then along comes this bottle from Toledo in the middle of Spain, to demolish my prejudices. Esther Pinuaga started her career as a business consultant in Colorado but returned to Spain to help run the family business. This is a beautifully balanced wine, which appears to be fully mature and capable of matching any Christmas offering from beef to turkey. Esther practices low intervention techniques to create this organic wine, which is remarkable value for such a high quality luscious product.