Ellis Wines Portfolio Tasting 2024

Posted by

The Ellis Wines Portfolio tasting, themed ‘A Taste of the Future’, was held at the Royal Opera House in London on 18th March 2024. As a historic importer and wholesaler, Ellis Wines has been curating an exceptional selection of wines from across the globe since 1822, priding itself on being an independent, family-owned business dedicated to serving the UK’s on-trade sector. This includes bars, pubs, restaurants, and hotels, catering to a clientele seeking unique and exquisite wine experiences beyond the ordinary offerings found in supermarkets.

This tasting featured over 65 producers showcasing around 400 wines. The event provided an opportunity for attendees to meet the producers in person, offering insights into the passion and tradition behind every bottle. The variety on display was impressive, ranging from classics, through innovative new blends, to new no-alcohol wines, all promising to add a unique touch to any wine list.

Here are my highlights from the event with my notes:
Price key: £ = low, ££ = medium, £££ = high

No/very low Alcohol

Thompson & Scott, Noughty Non-Alcoholic Blanc South Africa NV £
Part of the ‘Noughty’ range, which includes a selection of very low alcohol red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines. I personally favour the white, which is crafted from de-alcoholised Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, and presents a harmonious blend with a light body, crisp taste and refreshing finish.

Wild Life Botanicals, Sparkling Nude 0.5% ABV England NV and Sparkling Blush 0.5% NV £
Marketed also as a wellness product with the slogan ‘Bubbles with Benefits’, brings a unique proposition to the health-conscious consumer, seamlessly blending the sophisticated experience of wine drinking with the nutritional advantages of carefully selected botanicals and vitamins. This innovative product features an array of botanical ingredients, including Lemon Balm, Damask Rose, Ashwagandha, Rosemary and Damiana, each known for their health benefits and therapeutic properties. In addition to these botanicals, it provides a minimum of 15% of your daily reference intake of essential vitamins. Originally made as a 14% wine, it undergoes a de-alcoholisation process, ensuring that the wine-like aroma and depth of flavour are preserved. The production process, based in Cornwall, keeps things local to the UK. The range includes two variants. The ‘Nude’ variant is characterised by a gooseberry nose, complemented by refreshing tastes of lime and mango, offering a vibrant and tropical sensory experience. The ‘Blush’ variant, has a strawberry nose with a taste profile that includes mineral notes and a subtle rose flavour.


Château Peybonhomme-les-Tours, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2022 £
A blend of 45% Sauvignon, 45% Sémillon, and 10% Colombard, with Certified Demeter Biodynamic status, which ensures adherence to sustainable and holistic farming practices. It features a profile of fresh citrus acidity, tropical fruits, and honeyed tones, complemented by buttery and creamy notes. With low sulphites and vegan-friendly credentials, this wine offers a conscientious choice for health-aware and ethically-minded consumers. At 14% ABV, it provides a rich, robust taste experience, combining quality and sustainability.

Tenuta Olianas, Vermentino Sardinia 2021 £
This wine, made from Vermentino grapes and aged in amphora, offers a bouquet of floral and fruit aromas, notably a peach nose, enriched by the ancient aging method that enhances its natural flavours. The saline feel and long finish contribute to its distinct character. 13.5% ABV.

Gavi di Gavi Cà da Bosio Piedmont 2022 £
This 100% Cortese grape wine has vibrant fruit aromas and an apricot taste, set against a dry, mineral backdrop. Awarded 91 points by Decanter in October 2023 and with ABV of 12.5%, it offers a well-balanced drinking experience, highlighting the qualities of the Cortese grape.

Cantina Orsogna, Zibibbo Maganza Luna Gaia Sicily 2022 £
Zibibbo, Sicily’s name for the Muscat of Alexandria grape, is a rare varietal with a 5,000-year history, known for its aromatic complexity. Using ambient yeasts for fermentation, this approach highlights the grape’s perfumed character, offering aromas of white blossom, honeysuckle and Mediterranean herbs. The palate is equally complex, featuring flavours of ripe peach, candied orange peel and subtle mango. 13.5% ABV.

Estampa, Chile, Inspiración Italian Blend (Fiano, Vermentino, Greco) 2021 £
Features a vibrant blend of citrus, zest, and grapefruit with a chalky minerality, and it possesses an aromatic character reminiscent of Gewürztraminer which I was told also happens to be on an adjacent plot. It boasts good acidity and a long finish, creating a refreshing yet complex experience.


Rutherford Ranch, USA, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2019 ££
This wine features a mix of blackcurrant and caramel aromas, leading to a juicy and approachable profile. It’s well-balanced and harmonious, with a not-too-full body that carries flavours of red and black cherries, cedar and bay leaves, all woven into a medium tannic texture and good length. 14.5% ABV.

Finca Sophenia, Argentina, Estate Reserva Malbec Mendoza 2021 £
This Malbec from the Uco Valley, crafted from 25-year-old vines, showcases ripe red and black fruit flavours, complemented by crisp acidity and subtle oak touches. Vegan production and recognised as one of Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines.

Monastrell Altos de Luzón Jumilla 2020 £
This wine, produced from 42-year-old vines, showcases concentrated fruit aged for 12 months in oak barrels, resulting in a complex profile. It features a cherry colour and aromatic notes of coffee, powerful black and ripe fruits and toasty nuances. The palate has a smoky aftertaste, round tannins and great length.

Hacienda el Ternero, Rioja Reserva Rioja Alta 2015 ££
This Rioja Reserva, comprising 95% Tempranillo and 5% Mazuelo, comes from a producer formerly known as Viñedos del Ternero. It is distinguished by its concentrated profile, achieved through aging in custom French oak barrels specially toasted for 26 minutes to enhance flavour. The nose features concentrated black fruits and chocolate, while the full-bodied palate delivers flavours of blackberries, black olives, dark chocolate, balsamic and wild herbs. The wine has medium to strong tannins.

Bodegas Pinuaga, Bodegas Pinuaga Coleccion La Mancha 2021 £
100% Tempranillo wine, crafted from 45-year-old vines, has boldness and complexity. It features a rich array of flavours, including brambles, black olives, balsamic, and cloves, enhanced by oak notes from 12 months of aging in American barrels.

Fincas de Azabache, Rioja Gran Reserva Rioja Oriental 2016 £
The Gran Reserva Rioja, crafted from a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and 10% Graciano grapes only from exceptional years, undergoes an aging process of three years in oak and three more in the bottle. This process results in a cherry red wine with complex aromas of wood, leather, and vanilla, and a full-bodied palate featuring balsamic and red fruit taste. The wine’s richness is enhanced by velvety fruit flavours intertwined with spice and vanilla notes from its oak aging, culminating in a long finish. 14% ABV.

Fincas de Azabache, Viñedo Singular Rioja Coscojares Rioja Oriental £££
Crafted from grapes of old Garnacha vines planted before 1955, results in a 100% Garnacha wine with a 14.5% alcohol content. Aged for 12 months in French Oak casks, it boasts a beautiful cherry red colour. It features herby notes and layers of balsamic aromas, blackberry, cherry and fine tobacco, leading to a lengthy palate with nuances of cream/vanilla.

Marqués de Riscal, Barón de Chirel Rioja 2018 £££
This Rioja Reserva, crafted from 80-100 year old vines, offers a deep-coloured wine rich with a bouquet of cassis, fig, chocolate, and leather, complemented by flavours of blackberry, cherry, chocolate and violet. 15% ABV.

Marqués de Riscal, Rioja Gran Reserva Rioja 2018 ££
Deep violet colour and 14.5% ABV, with an herby nose and a palate rich in brambly fruit, chocolate, and spicy notes, complemented by round tannins and a long finish.

Bodegas Cepa 21,Tempranillo Ribera del Duero 2020 ££
This wine, with a 14% ABV, captivates with aromas of cassis, chocolate, herbs, cherry and black raspberry. On the palate, it delivers flavours of ripe cherry, cassis, and coffee, supported by medium tannins and a persistent finish.

Botter, Appassimento Edizione Oro Vinironia 2022 £
This wine, a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Primitivo, and 10% Negroamaro at 14.5% ABV, is crafted using the Appassimento method to produce a rich, raisiny dry red that’s dry and fruit-forward. It features a full nose with notes of spice, chocolate, and vanilla, leading to a rich and intense palate marked by soft tannins and balanced acidity, culminating in a fruit-forward finish. This wine is one of the least expensive I tasted at the event and is outstanding at this price level.

Primitivo Ruminat Abruzzo 2022 £
This 14% ABV biodynamic wine, with its bright ruby red colour, offers a complex nose of plums, cherries and violets. The palate is soft and smooth, featuring rich flavours of black cherries, blackcurrant, cinnamon spice, and cloves, all supported by soft tannins and culminating in a long, fruity finish.

Cannonau Sardinia 2021 £
This 14% ABV organic Grenache wine features a dry profile with captivating aromas of Morello cherry. It is full-bodied with concentrated yet smooth tannins and boasts an great, long finish.

Syrah Le Anfore Tuscany 2021 ££
100% Syrah wine is a Tuscan take on the Rhône variety, grown in mineral-rich, clay soils and aged for six months in terracotta amphorae, followed by a brief bottle aging. It features aromas of black pepper and forest fruits, with a palate that includes blueberry, liquorice and herbs.

Tenuta Casadei, Cabernet Franc Filare 18 Tuscany 2019 ££
This 100% Cabernet Franc biodynamic wine is bold, featuring aromas of red fruit, oak, and spices, alongside a notable minerality and velvety tannins balanced by acidity. I tasted this at a previous tasting and still think it is outstanding.

Tenuta Casadei, Sogno Mediterraneo Tuscany 2021 £
This sister wine to Filare 18 provides a powerful yet more affordable option, crafted from organically farmed Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. It features intense blackberry, dark chocolate, and tobacco notes, with a palate of mature black currant, clove, and a touch of smoke, all supported by polished tannins. Outstanding at this price level.

Crociani, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Tuscany 2019 £
This wine, a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, and 10% Mammolo, features a lightly oaked, dry profile with a ruby red colour. The nose offers a delicate yet intense bouquet of redcurrants and violets. On the palate, it is dry, rounded, and harmonious, filled with flavours of redcurrant, red cherries, spicy notes, and vanilla from oak ageing, leading to a long finish.

Donatella Colombini, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Tuscany 2015 £££
This 100% Sangiovese wine, made from a ‘Brunello’ clone grown in the hills of Montalcino near Siena. It features a complex nose with aromas of red fruits, spicy pepper, and vanilla, leading to a powerful and complex palate of mineral, leather, and truffle nuances, complemented by touches of vanilla and sweet spice.

Monte Faustino, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Veneto 2018 ££
A blend of 65% Corvina, 30% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara, having an extremely high 17% ABV, with a dark fruit and black cherry nose. It offers a full-bodied palate featuring juicy black cherry, black fruits, bitter chocolate, walnuts, cinnamon, blackberry jam, liquorice, and a hint of tobacco, culminating in a very long finish. It has a more contemporary, fruit-forward character and slightly lower tannin levels, compared to typical Amarone, making it a more approachable yet equally bold, complex and enjoyable. Outstanding.