Panos’ epic tasting of 16 vintages of Chateau Montrose: 2012 – 1970

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment

On January 24, 2017, Panos Kakaviatos (Wine Chronicles) hosted another epic Bordeaux tasting featuring the wines of Chateau Montrose.  Hervé Berland, CEO, graciously donated 15 vintages of wine with three guests donating the 1989 vintage thus presenting us with an array of 16 different wines spanning from 2012 back to 1970. The tasting itself was held at Ripple, home of many fabulous wine dinners, which closed its doors this year.

I hold Chateau Montrose in high regard having tasted the old-school vintages 1959, 1964, and 1966 several times as well as the legendary, contemporary vintages of 1990 and 2010 at The Heart’s Delight lunch with the Ambassador of France, Gérard Araud and Herve Berland of Chateau Montrose.

This is unequivocally one of my favorite tastings that Panos has organized over the five years I have been attending.  The quality level is very high in general with the 1990, 2003, 2005, 2009, and 2010 vintages particularly outstanding.  My glass of 2000 was not up to par and the 1989’s variable due to provenance otherwise I am sure they would be outstanding as well.  These are all balanced wines full of flavor and depth, rather than massive tannic structure, which allows them to develop at a slow pace.  Even the 1976 provided ample, if not surprising pleasure.  I left the evening very impressed.

The wines were tasted in flights:
2012 + 2008 + 1995
2010 + 2009 + 2003
2005 + 1990 + 1989 + 1976
2000 + 1986 + 1985
1998 + 1982 + 1970

I have presented my tasting notes in reverse chronological order.  Please find them below.

2012 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There is a subtle, dark nose with notes of soil and sweet confection. There is an immediate presence of acidity in the mouth with dense and polished flavors of red and black fruit. There is a bright mineral underpinning which develops into graphite. All of this is surrounded by a hint of fat.  ****

2010 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
A vintage with the most Merlot. A racy, lively nose. There is black, lively fruit in the mouth this is certainly a bit wine yet it is balanced. The lovely ripe structure supports black fruit, cassis, and notes of new oak. It is lipsticky with flavors that cling to the mouth through the long aftertaste. Nice wine. ****(*)

2009 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Those nose is mute but this is a sexy wine in the mouth. There are dark, focused flavors of red fruit. It is a racy, inky wine which really packs in the flavor. There is a strong structure of very fine-grained tannins yet the richness of the fruit largely covers it up. ****(*)

2008 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
The nose is more lifted with cassis, flowers, and meat. A redder wine with more apparently structure and fine extract for texture rather than the density of 2012. The power hints the back of the throat with concentrated blue fruit yet remains balanced throughout. My favorite of 2012 and 1995.****

2005 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There are some deep, meaty aromas but the nose is generally subdued. The mouth meets a ripe, gentle entry of red fruit, ripe oranges, and citric structure. It is lipsticky with vintage perfume, a fresh finish and long aftertaste. It does not have the weight of other vintages but is well done for future development. ****(*)

2003 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There are aromas of tobacco smoke. This is a balanced wine with the flavors of focused ripe and slightly sweet fruit packed in. The flavor builds intensity with hints of maturity. This is a savory wine with subtle weight yet significant, satisfying depth. ****(*)

2000 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
This remained very closed with hard flavors, and polished wood.  Clearly not right.  😦  Not Rated.

1998 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There are greenhouse infused flavors in this short wine. **

1995 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There are deep berry aromas of wet soil and meat. With watering acidity this is lighter on the tongue yet still expansive in the mouth. It has a dry, linear style that leaves fine, dry structure on the gums. There is good mature flavor, some herbaceousness and ample acidity and structure to keep it alive. ****

1990 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
The incredible nose is very aromatic with citrus, flowers, greenhouse aromas, and leather. There are ripe red fruit flavors, vintage perfume, and sweet earthy depth. This is tense wine that drives you to return to the glass. Hard cherry aromas mix with animale funk.  *****

1989 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Donated by a guest.  This is still youthful with a tighter nose and more muted expression compared to the 1990. There are fresh flavors in the mouth, a tea note, cola tannins, and stand up acidity. ****

1986 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Slightly dusty with vegetal aromas. In the mouth it is a hard wine with vintage perfume and spearmint. Perhaps a bit similar to 1985 in flavor. ***

1985 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe en magnum
It is a very mature nose. The saline, cool blue fruit is simple and weighty yet the round aspect is satisfying.  ***(*)

1982 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe en magnum
I think my pour is from the mediocre magnum.  This has subtle depth on the nose, reminiscent of the 1990. In the mouth it has a touch more fruit but shows flat and metallic with some earth. ***

1976 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
A gentle wine but in great shape. There are more greenhouse infused flavors than the other vintages. It is still firm with watering acidity and structure that frames everything. The aftertaste is perfumed. ***(*)

1970 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
There are firm flavors of red and black fruit with some rough yet enjoyable texture in the finish. The tannic structure is prominent, like a cats tongue. Short finish but satisfying up to it. ***

Four Syrah with Lou

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

I met up with Lou and one of his coworkers to taste through Californian Syrah.  To the mix I threw in a brown-bagged bottle of Australian Syrah.  The Californian wines were initially popped and poured.    At roughly one decade of age this might be the preferred manner to drink these wines as the flavors show more generously, not quite revealing the strong structures lurking underneath.  These wines are not yet at peak maturity but are still tasty.

The 2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County is all about black olive aromas and dry, black flavors in the mouth.  It is satisfying but does not have the expression of our next wine.  This is the 2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley and is my favorite of the group for drinking now.  It is lifted both on the nose and in the mouth leaving a fresh impression.  I think that the 2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County has the strongest potential out of all the wines tasted.  There are good flavors just starting to come out.  Purportedly from the oldest Syrah vines in the world hails the 2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley.  Made from vines planted in 1843 it is seamless and clean with good acidity.

2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.2%.  Lou noted “black olives” on the nose and both Jenn and I agree.  This is an articulate wine with black, finely textured flavors and a fresh, dry finish.  It is chewy at first with dry baking spices and minerals.  With extended air the dry nature and structure for age become more apparently.  *** Now – 2027.

2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
Alcohol 15.0%.  A slightly tight nose at first though with deep aromas.  With air there is a lifted suggestion.  In the mouth this is a fresh, mineral wine with good presence and lifted flavors.  There is watering acidity and a finely ripe finish where a ripe tannic structure is evidence.  With extended air it takes on some savory power at the end.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.9%.  Chocolate and red fruit mix with the substantive structure by the middle.  The flavors are entering maturity with a core of complexity slowly coming out.  It is lively on the tongue with good poise throughout, notes of baking spices, and a long aftertaste.  It is tight, chewy, and not quite at full maturity but will certainly improve once there.  ***(*) 2019 – 2027.

2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The mixture of dark fruit, olives, and Kirsch smells Australian to me.  There is a ripe controlled start which quickly expands leaving clean fruit throughout the mouth.  This is a seamless wine with fresh acidity.  *** Now – 2022.

A thorough introduction to Loire wines: 2011-1979

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Bill is passionate about Loire wines, top quality producers none the less, which was evident at a tasting he hosted at his house.  The wines largely came from his cellar making a parade of heavy hitters, cult favorites, and new discoveries.  As an introduction there were bottles of sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine.

There were sadly a number of off bottles but with a vast array to try (I missed at least one bottle) there were still some top-notch bottles.  This includes the 2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole as my favorite white wine.  This is a tense, engaging wine which combines stone and fruit.  For the reds, individual favorites include the mature 2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny and youthful 2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied.  I can see why Rougeard is a cult favorite, the mature flavors are infused with fat and drape over the tongue.  The Plouzeau is electric and young, it should be fully open in three to five years.

My favorite flight of all is a quartet of Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses: 1990, 1989, 1985, and 1979.  What a unique opportunity!  What I like is the consistent theme of fruit, without any green pepper notes, and complexity from earthy flavors.  The 1989 offers so much more than the 1990.  The original release 1985 is a treat with more color and texture.  It is easy to connect with this bottle because it is not so squeaky clean.  The 1979 is elegant and autumnal.  It is the sort of wine to drink at lunch or by oneself reading a book next to a fire.

A trio of Huet Vouvray dessert wines includes a maturing 1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux.  The nose is an interesting mix of apples and seaside with a heavily textured mouth.  Our bottle of 1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance also has a killer nose but it is dialed down tight in the mouth.  The drier 1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie is also young.  Perhaps it is the state of the 1989 vintage.  All three wines smell great so who knows!?

Thanks again to Bill for hosting.  Without his generosity I would still be the rare soul who had never tasted the Loire greats of Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard, and others.

Flight #1 – Sparkling

2010 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Petillant Brut
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. There is a fine bubble grip with slightly round flavors of light yellow fruit and chalk. It is minerally and a touch earthy.  *** Now – 2020.

NV Francois Chidaine, Montluis sur Loire Méthode Traditionelle Brut
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 12%. A little gamey on the nose. In the mouth are finer, more aggressive bubbles. The flavors are oxidative and the finish is sour.  Underperforming? * Drink up.

Flight #2 – White Wines

2000 Nicolas Joly, Clos de la Coulee de Serrant
Imported by Paterno Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. A darker gold-copper color. The heavier nose makes way to a focus start then short and weird flavors. Bad bottle.  Not Rated.

2007 Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume Silex
Imported by Connoisseur Wines. Alcohol 12.5%. There are fine, ripe chalky flavors, texture, and a weighty middle which builds towards the finish. It wraps up with a vintage perfume finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Frederick Wildman. Alcohol 12%. A flinty wine with tart yellow fruit and a vein of acidity which makes for attractive tension. My favorite.  **** Now – 2027.

2011 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Blanc Breze
An aromatic nose with a touch of apricot and cheese. Different. It is simpler in the mouth, tight with a vein of acidity. It remains tight when warm. Drinkable but not the best bottle.  ** Now.

Flight #3 – 2010 Reds

2010 Catherine & Pierre Breton, Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 12%. The color is a little purple. A finely scented nose of clean green pepper. In the mouth this is a fine, focused wine with dry and tight flavors. With air it remains a lighter weighted wine but becomes a touch creamy. Good citric grip.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2010 Chateau de Fosse-Seche, Saumur Eolithe
Alcohol 12.5%. There is a deeper core of color with hints of brick. Initial aromas are of old-school perfume but then nail polish comes out.  Not right.  Not Rated.

2010 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Les Croix Boisee
Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny Les Poyeux
Alcohol 12.5%. There are darker berries on the perfumed somewhat alcoholic nose. The mouth filling wine is luxurious with a creamy edge and zippy acidity. Certainly a big wine but ultimately simple compared to the basic Saumur Champigny.  *** Now – 2020.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny
Alcohol 12.5%. A good, mature nose. The flavors drape on the tongue with a cranberry-grape grip. The core of berry flavors remains focus but takes on a coating of fat. My favorite of the flight. **** Now – 2023.

2010 Domaine Guion, Bourgueil Cuvee des Deux Monts
Imported by Fruits of the Vines. Alcohol 12.5%. A grapey color. The nose is tight with berried perfume. In the mouth the wine keeps right focus with fine, tannic, and young flavors. There is a green pepper note and salivating acidity. Needs time.  *** 2020 – 2027.

2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied
Imported by Weygant-Metzler. Alcohol 13%. The nose tilts towards the richer side. There is good flavor, a bit citric, and electric acidity. It sports good weight, an attractive sweaty note, and will clearly age. **** Now – 2030.

Flight #4 – 1996 Bourdeaux versus Loire Guessing Game

1996 Joguet, Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Slightly stinky on the nose yet good. More engaging in the mouth but overall a bad bottle! Not Rated.

1996 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Much darker in color. An harmonious wine. It is brighter in the mouth than the nose indicates. With air, ripe hints of flavor come out yet the wine maintains focus. Clearly Bordeaux.  *** Now – 2023.

Flight #5 – Olga Raffault

1990 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. This is tart with red and black fruit flavors. It ultimately reveals less fruit intensity. It sports a touch of animale and a hint of earth which adds interest. Overall this is a tangy wine. ** Now – 2023.

1989 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. There is more dense fruit compared to the 1990. It is clean, dense, and slightly earthy with cinnamon spices in the aftertaste. Watering acidity. This will clearly go on for ages. **** Now – 2032.

1985 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Original release. Alcohol 12.5%. This is good and much different than the 1989 and 1990. There are impressions of more texture making the wine feel substantive. The wine is earthy with a wood stem note, and vintage perfume.  Drinking well. **** Now – 2025.

1979 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. In fine form. This is tangy, lighter than the others with a clean cut. There is a fair amount of acidity.  Elegant and autumnal.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

Flight #6 – Respect the Legend

1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux
Imported by Robert Chadderdon Selections. A dark, apricot amber. The nose smells of tart apples and the sea side, quite nice. In the mouth there is up front texture back the apple orchard flavors. The citric acidity is prominent but the wine is weighty. A fair amount of mouth feel.  **** Now – 2037.

1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance
Imported by Envoyer Imports. A golden amber color. The nose offers up electric aromas. In the mouth there is clearly more residual sugar in this dense wine with flavors of dried fruit. It remains tight so cellar it.  **** 2023 – 2043.

1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie
Imported by Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 13%. A golden amber color. Apple orchard on the nose with acidity driven, drier flavors in the mouth. It is weighty, clean, and sports acidity.  A baby!  ***(*) 2023 – 2043.

Chapuis & Chapuis imported by Glou-Glou

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

I just tasted another round of wines imported by Jeffrey Snow of Glou-Glou Wines.  This pair of wines from Chapuis & Chapuis, produced by two brothers, are not made using the domain’s usual Burgundian fruit.  The 2016 weather laid waste to the plots the Chapuis brothers typically use so they looked further out.  In the case of what I tasted, to Cotes du Rhone for Grenache and Fronton for Negrette.

The brothers had never made wine from Grenache or Negrette before but that is not obvious.  For me the 2016 Chapuis & Chapuis, Grenat is all about texture.  This fresh wine takes several hours of air to open up but when it does you have a brighter example of ripe textured fruit with some luxurious fat.  It was bottled without sulphur so the extra CO2 adds a bit of spritz lending more to the texture.  The 2016 Chapuis & Chapuis, La Folle Noire drinks well the moment the cork is pulled.  This wine is all about a wet-earth aspect that pervades the aromas and flavors.   It adds good depth.  If it is unique flavor that you are after then the one wine you must certainly try is this bottle of Negrette.  You may pick up these wines are MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Chapuis & Chapuis, Grenat – $22
Imported by Glou-Glou Wines.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 40 year old vines of Domaine du Moulin de Descattes of Cotes du Rhone.  No added SO2.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose offers finely textured aromas of tart, red fruit.  There is tart, red fruit in the mouth underpinned by a citric note.  There is a ripe-textured edge to the fruit which lasts through the fresh finish.  It takes several hours of air before the fat coated core of fruit expands leaving tart flavors all over the mouth.  *** Now – 2019.

2016 Chapuis & Chapuis, La Folle Noire – $22
Imported by Glou-Glou Wines.  This wine is 100% Negrette sourced from the 30 year old vines of Chateau Bonnet in Fronton.  Only a smidge of SO2.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There are finely textured aromas of wet earth and perfume which take on white pepper and with extended air become higher-toned.  The soil-earth tone pervades through the wine into the finish which is followed by an expansive, ethereal aftertaste.  The tannins lend pleasing structure supporting the hints of fat and riper fruit at the end.  *** Now – 2018.

Cellar your 2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

I am a big fan of Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas so I’ll admit that the 2014 vintage is missing some of the depth of earlier vintages such as 2010 and 2009.  The 2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas is deceptively approachable but the roundness belies the fact that this wine is best left in the cellar for several more years.  You can grab your bottles at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Domaine Raspail-Ay, Gigondas – $30
Imported by Michael Corso Selections.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with a good portion of Syrah and a touch of Mourvedre.  It is aged for nearly two years in casks and vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over two days it remains dense and smooth yet slightly textured.  There are still very focused kirsch flavors and a mineral finish.  It sports an attractive chewiness.  Despite the round, approachability this really needs more time.  *** 2019-2029.

An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954

December 1, 2017 1 comment

A small group of us gathered to explore modestly priced old Nebbiolo of which little is known about the producers in general or the wines in specific.  This meant no Vallana and no Nervi, for example.  We selected 10 different red wines from 1975 back to 1954 but were sure to include flights from the excellent 1964 and 1958 vintages.  The wines hailed from Barolo, Carema, Gattinara, Ghemme, and simply Alto Piemonte.  Before we tasted the red wines we tucked into a bottle of NV Ruinart, Champagne Brut Rose and a trio of German wines from 1976.

Sticking with the theme of little known, the German trio included Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Optima.  As may be expected the 1976 Gebruder Schneider, Riesling Auslese, Martiner Schloss Ludwigshohe, Rheinpfalz is the best of the lot.  The deep nose perks interest and in the mouth it is mature yet rounded so as to provide good mouthfeel.  It falls a bit flat since it lacks the electric acidity I would like.   The 1976 Gebruder Schneider, Gewurztraminer Auslese, St. Martiner Zitadelle, Rheinpfalz smells and tastes like Gewurztraminer yet is a bit monolithic.  Finally the 1976 Gebruder Schneider, Optima Beerenauslese, St. Martiner Baron, Rheinpfalz is a strange combination of fruit and florals as if it could not decide what to be.  This grape is a Riesling and Silvaner cross that was crossed with Muller-Thurgau.  That fact is more interesting than the wine.

From the shadows of Mont Blanc the 1975 Produttori di Carema, Carema Etichetta Rosso is the brightest, most acidic, and nearly most tannic of all the wines tasted.  You get hints of its maturity but you are left wondering when will it ever be ready to drink?

The 1964 flight was a mixed bag but the wines improved across the flight.  Our bottle of 1964 Agostino Brugo, Colline Novaresi Spanna Riserva is clearly way past good drinking.  The 1964 Agostino Brugo, Ghemme smells proper but there is a bit of roasted earth indicating it is over the hump of prime drinking.  I suspect it was always a modest wine.  Much better is the 1964 Cantine Curti, Spanna.  It is pungent and still has concentration from age.  Quite good if not the most exciting wine.

I found the wines from the 1950s of the most interest primarily from the successful flight of 1958 Vini Valsesia.  The 1958 Vini Valsesia, Gattinara still has incensed red fruit and tangy grip.  This bottle and the 1958 Vini Valsesia, Ghemme Riserva were the two most consumed.  The Ghemme is very good and a clear step up in quality.  It is ripe and mouth filling with sweaty, earthy notes.  If I had to guess, it is this wine which saw the addition of fruit from Southern Italy.  It took several hours for the 1958 Vini Valsesia, Spanna Riserva to clean up.  It has moved passed fruit to old leather and dried oregano notes.  Both the Gattinara and Spanna Riserva had similar weight and acidity.  A fun flight.

The final flight of wines sported two very powerful yet boring Barolo: 1959 Cavalier Felice Abbona & Figli, Barolo and 1958 Pistone Luigi, Barolo Riserva.  The former is clean with simple flavors of tart, red fruit and the later, a bit stinky with blood and iron flavors.  Neither wine changed over three nights.  The nose of our 1954 Avondo, Gattinara is volatile, but still with hints of perfume.  The flavors are completely clean and electric with fresh red fruit.  There is depth and character here such that this could have been the wine of the night.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions.  I had a lot of fun tasting through wines that I had no idea what they would be like.   There was also a slew of dessert wines but I will write those up in a separate post.

1976 Gebruder Schneider, Riesling Auslese, Martiner Schloss Ludwigshohe, Rheinpfalz
A honied, deep nose.  In the mouth are round flavors, black tea notes, and fresh acidity before the lighter flavored middle.  There is nice body, floral notes, and rounded finish with watering acidity.  ** Now.

1976 Gebruder Schneider, Gewurztraminer Auslese, St. Martiner Zitadelle, Rheinpfalz
Gewurz on the nose and in the mouth but with density and white nuts.  Full of flavor yet not that complex and in need of acidity.  *(*) Now.

1976 Gebruder Schneider, Optima Beerenauslese, St. Martiner Baron, Rheinpfalz
A strange combination of tropical fruit and floral notes.  Very rounded in mouth, could stand more acidity. Weird.

1975 Produttori di Carema, Carema Etichetta Rosso
Alcohol 12%.  It is a brick, tawny color.  Blood on the nose.  There is bright red fruit in the mouth, some leather and some age evident in the bit of roasted earth flavor.  There is strong, citric acidity and very fine structure in the finish.  Will this ever develop?  **  Now but will last.

1964 Agostino Brugo, Colline Novaresi Spanna Riserva
Founded in 1894 the wines are raised in oak and chestnut.  Brown in color with a nose of roast earth, must, and cheese.  Tastes old.  Past.

1964 Agostino Brugo, Ghemme
The tawny color has hints of cherry.  The subtle nose reveals deeper, sweaty notes.  In the mouth are red fruit flavors, cranberry, and that slightly sweaty complexity.  There is some roasted earth speaking of age but the bottle comes across as well stored with freshness and citric grip in the finish.  ** Now.

1964 Cantine Curti, Spanna
Alcohol 13%.  It is a light to medium tawny brick color.  The first proper smelling wine with pungency and old concentration.  There is a core of ripe red fruit with good flavor.  The bottle is in fine condition, tasting fresh with some density up front but becoming lighter towards the finish.  There is a modest amount of the sweaty funk in the end.  *** Now.

1958 Vini Valsesia, Gattinara
The Valsesia family have produced wine since the 1920s when Alessandro Valsesia purchased the Perucca family of wine and grain licenses. In the 1950s, Anselmo Valsesia takes control of the winery and begins to bottle Novaresi wines. It is not until 1960 that new land and a new cellar is built.  Alcohol 13%.  The lightest color yet being a brown tawny.  The nose is gentle with bloody hints.  In the mouth is delicate, incensed flavors of bright red fruit.  There is fine texture, electricity acidity, and a lifted finish.  I like the tangy grip.  ***  Now.

1958 Vini Valsesia, Ghemme Riserva
Alcohol 12.5%.  A medium+ tawny brick.  Clearly a good nose with sweet and sweaty concentration.  This is a ripe, mouth filling wine with fruit, earth, and even some vigor.  There is gentle spice, sweet leather, and more weight in the finish.  I like the ethereal nature of the ripeness.  It picked up a menthol note in the finish.  **** Now but well stored bottles will last.

1958 Vini Valsesia, Spanna Riserva
Alcohol 13%.  Not up to the other wines and in need of much air to clean up.  This is less about fruit than old wood, dried oregano, and blood.  The acidity is fresh and the wine is grippy.  ** Now.

1959 Cavalier Felice Abbona & Figli, Barolo
The Abbona family has produced wine for this firm located in the center of Barolo since at least 1873. In 1929 the Abbona family acquired the Marchesi di Barolo winery and vineyard.  Alcohol 13%.  A dark tawny color.  The subtle nose is meaty.  In the mouth this remains a focused and decidedly tart red fruited wine with lively acidity and power.  To match the power is the structure and puckering finish.  No real complexity.  * Now but will last.

1958 Pistone Luigi, Barolo Riserva
Around since at least 1890.  Alcohol 13%.  A light brown color.  A stinky nose of meat. In the mouth is a tight core of grippy red fruit, bloody, and iron that fill the mouth with flavor.  There is plenty of fresh drying structure that coats the gums.  * Now.

1954 Avondo, Gattinara
Caesar Avondo of Lozzolo exhibited his 1874 Spanna at the Paris Exposition of 1878.  There is some volatility on the nose but also perfume.  The wine is clean in the mouth with plenty of lively fruit delivered with an electric, vibrant mouthfeel.  I agree with Lou’s comment of, “fresh crushed berries”.  It would have been wine of the night but for the nose.  *** Now.

A trio of Cinsault from Itata in Chile

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

If you are looking for interesting and tasty wines then I suggest you grab the three bottles of Cinsault featured in this post.  All three wines are made from old vines grown in the Itata Valley of Chile yet they are radically different wines.

The most exciting wine is the 2015 Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Tinto, Itata Valley.  There is a deep, earthy note which immediately confers complexity to the bright, lifted red fruit.  I find it downright tasty but the wine requires a few more months of age to reach maximum flavor.  The 2014 Viñateros Bravos, Canto a lo Divino Cinsault, Itata Valley is the lightest of the trio.  It smells like the pine trees of New Mexico and is clearly a lighter wine yet has roundness in the mouth.  You will find a mouthful of berries with the 2015 Pedro Parra y Familia, Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley.  The fruit is very forward making this a wine to drink now yet there is a supporting spine of lively acidity.  My only gripe is that there is a bit too much fruit for my preference.

Each one of these wines is full of character which is a treat given the reasonable prices.  You may find all three selections at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Tinto, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 95% Cinsault and 5% Pais from vines planted in 1960.  Alcohol 13%. There is a touch of deep earth to the bright red fruit aromas.  In the mouth this is an acidity driven, dry wine with watering acidity.  There is a core of ripe cranberry fruit, some black fruit, and baking spices.  There is good flavor and even a luxurious element of fat.  The with is focused  yet ethereal with lifted earth notes in the finish where it wraps up dry.  ***(*) 2018 – 2022.

2014 Viñateros Bravos, Canto a lo Divino Cinsault, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Ripe Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from 60 year old vines on basalt soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 12.8%.  A light cranberry color.  The wine smells like fresh pine trees.  It is finely textured in the mouth with dry, red fruit.  The body is quite round with a touch of fat though it remains lithe through the mouth.  *** Now – 2019.

2015 Pedro Parra y Familia, Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Ripe Wine Imports.  This wine is a field blend of 80% Cinsault with some Muscat, Semillon, and Pais and 20% Carignan  sourced from 71-110 year old vines on red quartzic granite soils.  It was raised on both cement and stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  A medium purple ruby.  This is a ripe, fruity wine with a lively underpinning.  It is for up-front drinking, packed with mouth filling flavors, spices, and a weighty, puckering finish.  It becomes drier with gum coating tannins in the aftertaste.  **(*) Now – 2018.