A tasting of 2013-1999 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Blind tasting wine in a friendly group is great fun.  That is the ritual of the tasting group assembled this past weekend at Andy’s house.  I find the experience sharply exposes the limits of my experience, reaffirming thoughts on what I must taste next year.

Before any deduction could began I took repeated small pours of the satisfying 2006 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs.  If you have not tried this Champagne then you must.  The restrained level of bubbles, deep flavor, and racy body make this a wine you want to simply drink.  No thought required.

It was not easy to determine if we were presented with a vertical, horizontal, or even New World and Old World wines.  The first two wines, still with prominent unintegrated oak and fresh acidity, had me leaning towards an Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon based wine.  The bottles encountered in the middle were more integrated and had flavors that brought one’s mind back to Europe.  The last bottles were the most mature with a flavor unmistakably French.  Then, in circling back to the first two wines, which had changed dramatically, you could catch whiffs of the Viognier added to Syrah.  A few questions to Andy confirmed a vertical with a couple of people soon narrowing it down to Cote-Rotie.  Then the wines were revealed as Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis.

Etienne Guigal and his future wife Marcelle met just outside of Chateau d’Ampuis in 1934.  Some sixty years later their son Marcel purchased the then ruin and set out to restore the property.  The oldest parts date back to the 12th century with the core of the building to the 16th century.  The first vintage of Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis came in 1995, the same year it was purchased.

The fruit for these wines comes from Guigal’s lieux-dits in both Brune and Blonde with the Viognier all from the later.  The wine is typically a blend of 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier from vines averaging 40 to 60 years of age.  The fruit is vinified and raised separately for 38 months in new oak casks.

Based on our tasting the new oak is certainly evident in young vintages of 2011, 2012, and 2013 so these must clearly be cellared.  Beginning with the excellent 2009 and strong 2006 vintages there is noticeable integration allowing you to appreciate the wine as a whole.  While you may drink them for pleasure I would cellar them further.  The 2003, 2001, and 1999 vintages clearly reveal mature flavors with the 2003 and 1999 the most ready to drink.  This was a very consistent tasting with all of the vintages showing well and offering a lot of satisfaction.

2006 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
Alcohol 12.5%.  Ripe white fruit and spices are immediately appartment in this rich, racy wine.  There are moderate bubbles which make this very easy to drink.   The generous flavor is still focused and reveals just a touch of yeast in the end.  A great drink! ****(*) Now why wait?

2012 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  Plum and sweet aromas on the nose.  A round start with a young grapey core, mid-palate weight, and drying, fine tannins with a mocha flavor that come out in the finish.  It tastes modern at first with cool acidity but with air clean fruit and floral undertone come out.  The oak still needs to integrate.  ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

2013 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5 %.  An acidity driven start mixed with cinnamon flavors.  A dry middle of polished wood is followed by a simpler, sour fruited finish.  With air a fine nose of Christmas incense develops.  ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

2011 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Vintus. Alcohol 13%.  There is a deeper, good nose.  A mouth filling wine with red fruit, plums, and a dry black structure in the finish.  This is still in a youthful period with new oak notes and more assertive tannins.  But the flavor is lip-smacking revealing the start of a transformation.  ***(*) 2018 – 2030.

2009 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  Grapey aromas.  A quick taste reveals this is the first serious wine of the lineup.  There is good flavors of dark red fruit, a ripe ethereal middle and a finish of gum coating, chewy tannins.  Complexity from dried herbs and a perfumed middle entice.  The wine is carried by slightly watering acidity.  **** Now – 2027.

2006 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  The cherry flavors are acidity driven with the spine of acidity lasting through the end.  Sour cherry notes have good depth with the acidity providing tension.  It wraps up with citric grip. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2003 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  This wine shows more age with good, chewy fruit, herbs, spices, and supporting acidity.  The power of the vintage is revealed in the middle.  Very ripe, dried fruit pokes out. *** Now – 2022.

2001 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. Alcohol 13%.  Another mature wine, this one savory with more structure, a tart black middle, and sappy sour cherry.  There is fine focus to the fruit which comes across as younger with air. ***(*) Now – 2025.

1999 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Boston Wine Company. Alcohol 13%.  This weighty wine has mixed spices and a savory middle of red fruit and grippy tannins.   Youthful as well and drinking so well.  **** Now – 2027.

2007 Dr. Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 7.5%.  An amber color with a honied nose.  A touch of a lively start before a round glycerin body of ripe, yellow fruit.  Honey and spices mix in the somewhat short finish.  *** Now.

A tasting of Rioja from the great 1964 Vintage

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment


The 1964 vintage in Rioja, considered the greatest of the 20th century, was not met with any fanfare in America nor in England.  It was not because the top wines, only bottled in the 1970s and released as late as 1980, were unavailable to taste.  Throughout the 1960s Rioja was still viewed as the best wine of Spain but it was the opinion, as expressed by Ronald Avery, that in the hierarchy of wines Rioja was equivalent to “a decent little claret”.  As such Rioja only received attention as an alternative inexpensive wine.

This was not always the case.  Between the World Wars the Bodegas Paternina Rioja Riserva cost as much as Chateau Lafite in America.  When Bordeaux prices soared in America during the early 1970s, attention turned back to Rioja.  Still viewed as the “less sophisticated cousin of Bordeaux” low prices meant the wines of Rioja became imported in increasingly larger quantities.  In 1976, nearly three dozen Rioja producers hired a public relations firm in America.  Success must have been achieved for the next year Frank J. Prial wrote in The New York Times that “Red Rioja Wine Is Excellent”.

There was widespread coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Rioja vintage.  Decanter magazine found it a vintage to drink soon with some wines tired but the best wines are “still fruity and intense”.  I decided to host my own tasting based on my positive experience with several different bottles shared by Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co.,  and my recent CVNE Viña Real and Imperial Rioja Gran Reserva from 1976-1964 tasting.  This past weekend I gathered a group to explore nine different wines from seven different producers.  This is no small feat for there were just over two dozen producers who bottled the 1964 vintage.

We departed from our usual Champagne start to one of very old German wines.  At the CVNE tasting, the Rieslingfeier event and scarcity of old vintages was of topic which prompted one very generous guest to share three 100+ year old wines as well as a bottle from the 1964 vintage.  This unprecedented vertical of the vintages 1964, 1915, 1905, and 1898 are all Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese from Weingut Franz Karl Schmitt.

These four bottles were purchased at the Sotheby’s auction of the Don Stott cellar.  Our generous guest has drunk wine with Don Stott so with knowledge of the cellar and the uniqueness of the opportunity, the wines were acquired.

Weingut Franz Karl Schmitt was founded in 1549 and has been in family possession ever since those days.  It was in 1900 that Franz-Karl Schmitt, grandfather of the current owner, produced the first trockenbeerenauslese in Rheinhessen from the Flaschenhahl vineyard in Hipping.  The four bottles we tasted bear variations in name: Franz Karl Schmitt, Hermann Franz Schmitt, and Hermannshof.  They are all from the same winery bearing new labels and corks.  The later marked with Herrmannshof Neuverkorkt 1998.

The label on the oldest bottle from 1898 does not indicate the grape.  Nierstein is home to Sylvaner and in 1910 only 15% of it was planted with Riesling.  It is possible this is a blend of Riesling and Sylvaner which echoes a comment Michael Broadbent made about the 1921 Niersteiner Hermannshof TBA.  I should also point out this bottle is a Cabinetwein indicating a special wine historically kept in a separate part of the cellar.

The wines were served one at a time out of purposefully procured small wine glasses.  This gave us the collective opportunity to taste the wines within minutes of the bottle being opened and individually decide if we wanted to keep the wine around any longer.

All of the wines are in much better shape than I expected.  The 1898 Franz Karl Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese Cabinetwein, Rheinhessen  with honied aromas and medium body, quickly recalibrated my expectations.  There is pure pleasure here.  Delicacy came in the form of the 1905 Hermann Franz Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen which did soon fade to reveal piercing acidity in the finish.  The 1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen is unequivocally great from the nose to the pure marmalade flavors, minerals, and unctuous, glycerin filled body.  At 102 years of age, the higher residual sugar and acidity will ensure many more years of pleasure.  In fact, the dregs of the bottle drank well at the end of the evening.

With respect to the three oldest bottles, vintage variation aside, there is a sense of continuity in flavor from herbs and apricots.  In returning to the wines I was left with the feeling that the 1898 and 1905 were made using similar methods whereas the 1915 was made by a different hand.  However, vintages do matter which accounts for the unctuous 1915 and round, racy 1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr Und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen.  These wines deserve a closer historical look so I will write a follow up post in the near future.

We cleansed our palates with the textured NV Grands Comptoirs Champenois, Champagne Brut Comte de Vic.  This is a late 1980s to early 1990s release with fully mature flavors, yeast, and never-ending texture.  I found it best on the second night, once again highlighting that a non-vintage Champagne may deserve careful aging.

Fate finally caught up with me for four of our 1964 Rioja bottles were affected by TCA leaving five to be enjoyed.  All of these wines were double-decanted before being served in flights of three.  The most surprising wine is the 1964 Campo Viejo, Rioja which is the basic wine made just one year after the founding of the winery.  In fact Campo Viejo switched facilities in 1965.  This wine still reveals ripe fruit mixed with spices made possible by the comparatively short time spent in oak.

My favorites include the 1964 Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Gran Reserva, the 1964 Gomez Cruzado, Honorable, Rioja Gran Reserva , and the 1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty, Rioja.  Incredibly, the Monte Real appears to still be developing due to youthful focus.  The Gomez Cruzado never lost all of its bottle stink but in the mouth it is crisp with wood notes and certainly a wine to try again.  I found the Montecillo, the only all Tempranillo wine we tasted, the roundest.

These particular wines show the success achieved with Tempranillo based blends based on old, dry-farmed, bush vines raised with the traditional method of long oak aging.  This method of winemaking developed in the 19th century based on Bordeaux techniques and adopted to what was best for Rioja.   They are not fragile when exposed to air and all have a good spine of acidity which allows them live on.  The tasting also reminds us that there are no guarantees with old bottles.

Please find my tasting notes below.  You will notice a larger than usual number of dinner wine notes at the end.  The Madeira collector Bob Stern, whom I first met several years ago, was in town and able to join.  He has taken his passion one step further and is now importing Madeira from H. M. Borges. Thus he could present an array of samples for us to taste.

I could not have organized this tasting without Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., offering me his precious bottles of Rioja.  I must also thank our generous guest who, in sharing his German wines, ensured a once in a lifetime experience to taste three German wines older than one century.


A German Start

1898 Franz Karl Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Auslese Cabinetwein, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.  Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  A very clear, tawny amber color.  The nose is touched by boytrtis with honied aromas, fresh herbs, and tea.  The flavors are drier than expected, of medium body, and of sharp yet focused acidity.  The body speaks of remarkable condition as tangy, lemon citrus flavors come out in the middle, all of it persisting through the long finish.  ***(*) Now.

1905 Hermann Franz Schmitt, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.  Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.   Recorked in 1998. New labels.  A very clear, lighter tawny amber with a touch more yellow.  There is a botrytis touch as well but this is the most delicate wine of the quartet of old Germans.  It too is dry with fresh and bright acidity, herbs, and a savory, short finish.  It dries out quicker revealing piercing acidity in the end. ** Now.

1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.   Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  The darkest being tawny in color.  This still smells great.  In the mouth it is unctuous and mineral infused with plenty of forward body.  Flavors of apricot and peach mix with orange marmalade.  This is a good wine with round, glycerin body.  **** Now – 2027.

1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr Und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.   Tagged The Don Stott Cellar.  Recorked in 1998. New labels.  Of yellow straw the color is the lightest and the nose the most subtle.  One is not prepared for the much sweeter and rounded flavors in this unctuous wine.  There is still ripe fruit, fine tea notes, and a racy character. **** Now – 2027.


Palate Cleansing Champagne

NV Grands Comptoirs Champenois, Champagne Brut Comte de Vic
Imported by The RareWine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  A very clear amber color.  It is best on the second day. There are very fine, strong bubbles which quickly form a mousse that adds ripe texture to the start.  Flavors of ripe white then yellow fruit mix with yeast and mature notes.  With air ripe spices come out in the watering finish. ***(*) Now but will last.


1964 Rioja

1964 Bilbainas, Clarete Fino, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1901 by Santiago Ugarte, the son of a wine negociant, during the Rioja phylloxera epidemic.  The main winery was built at Barrio de la Estacion in Haro.  This wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo and 35% Garnacha that spent 9-10 years in American oak barrels.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Bilbainas, Vendimia Especial, Rioja Reserva 
One of the top wines this wine is a blend of70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha sourced from the Zaco vineyard.  It spent 18 months in large wooden vats then 6-8 (or 9-10) years in American oak barrels.  This is a bright wine with tart red fruit and a grippy nature.  The wine is still youthful but the leather notes speak of age.  *** Now but will last.

1964 Bilbainas, Vina Pomal, Rioja Reserva Especial 
This label has existed for over 100 years and always featured fruit from the Vina Pomal vineyard between the Ebro and Tiron rivers.  Apparently Winston Church drank it regularly.  It is a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and 5% Mazuelo, Graciano, and Viura.  It spent 1 year in tank followed by 6-7 years in American oak barriques.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Campo Viejo, Rioja 
Founded in 1963, Camp Viejo moved from Rioja Baja to an industrial part of Logrono in 1965.  The Crianza is typically a blend of mostly 80% Tempranillo followed by 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano.  It spent 18 months in large vats followed by 30 months in American oak barriques.  A fine nose makes way to a fruity start that is still ripe and flavored by spices in the finish.  The relatively short aging in wood results in this wine having the most fruit out of all tasted.  Perhaps not the most complex flavors the wine is, nevertheless, a fine drink with finely textured, ripe flavors.  *** Now – 2022.

1964 Franco-Espanolas, Excelsos, Rioja Gran Reserva 
Bodegas Franco-Espanolas history begins in 1890 when Frederick Anglade Saurat came to Logrono from Bordeaux.  Once his vineyards were in full production he founded the Bodegas, with Spanish capital, in 1901.  The Excelsos is the top gran reserve released only in the best vintages.  This rare wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo that spent 18 months in large wooden vats and 6-7 years in American oak barrels.  It was released in 1980.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Gomez Cruzado, Honorable, Rioja Gran Reserva 
Founded in 1886.  This is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo and Graciano.  This is fermented and raised in large wooden vats for 24 months followed by aging for 5 years in old American oak barrels.  It was bottled in 1972.  Quite stinky at first then a transition to an attractive funk.  However it is clean in the mouth where there are very lively flavors, crisp fruit, and wood shavings.  A delight in the mouth.  If I am picky, the finish is a little short.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty, Rioja 
Founded in 1870, Bodegas Montecillo is one of the oldest firms in Rioja. The Vina Monty is the top wine.  Produced solely from Tempranillo it spent 6 to 12 months in large wooden vats then 48 months in American oak barrels.  The 1964 vintage was produced at the old winery pre-dating the Osborne acquisition of 1973.  A good nose of fruit and mixed herbs.  There is round, red fruit, bright acidity, and a fine wood note. ***(*) Now – 2022.

1964 Frederico  Paternina, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1898, Frederico Paternina owns no vineyards. This is a blend of 70% Tempranillo with 30% Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano.   This Gran Reserva spent up to six years in American oak barrels and other volumes.  TCA.  Not Rated.

1964 Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Gran Reserva
Founded in 1890.  A blend of mostly 70% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, 5% Garnacha, 2% Graciano, and 3% Viura and Malvasia.  It spent 12 to 18 months in large wooden tanks then aged for 4.5 to 6 years in American oak casks and other sizes.  Part of the fruit underwent carbonic maceration.  A touch musty at first but cleans up to reveal aromas of broth.  The bright flavors of cranberry are fresh and grippy.  The wine is driven by acidity.  This is the most youthful wine of them all, still focused and on the upslope of development. ***(*) Now – 2025.


Dinner Wines

1970 LAN, Lanciano Rioja
Founded in 1970. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo that spent 18 months in tank and 2 years in American oak casks.  Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Quite comforting with a combination of wood box notes, mature yet freshly delivered red fruit, and garrigue.  The flavors become meaty with air.  There is moderate weight and though the tannins are largely resolved a bit of structure comes out in the finish.  ***(*) Now but will last.

1978 Torres, Gran Coronas, Penedes Reserva
Imported by Chateau & Estates.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in American oak casks.  It was bottled in 1980. Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a tart, assertive start that is infused with some funk.  The wine soon becomes weightier with prominent acidity, green pepper notes, and tons of grip.  Quite fun to drink.  *** Now but will last.

2007 Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  Alcohol 15%. This lively red wine is bright in flavor and poised for many years of development.  I particularly like the fine mixture of Christmas spices which add complexity to the red fruit. A real treat, I wish I had tasted it some more. **** Now – 2027.

NV Rare Wine Co, Henriques & Henriques Imperial Reserve Malmsey
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This Madeira is a blend of old stocks of Malmsey from Henriques & Henriques. Mannie created the blend with John Cossart shortly before he passed away. It was released in honor of John Cossart in 2008.  Alcohol 20%.  There are pungent aromas of orange marmalade.  In the mouth is a rounded, dense start followed by powerful pungent flavors and racy residual sugar.  Supporting this is acidity to match.  The wine is incensed with Christmas spices. I imagine this will slowly develop for a few more decades.  ****.

1990 H. M. Borges, Sercial
Imported by Next Chapter Wines & Spirits.  Alcohol 20%.  An amber-tawny color.  Slightly pungent on the nose it is off to a round start that immediately unleashes piercing acidity.  There is lovely body weight which adds tension to this acidity driven wine.  Complexity comes from baking spices.  ****.

NV H. M. Borges, 15 year old Verdelho
Imported by Next Chapter Wines & Spirits.  Alcohol 19%.  There is a low-lying, deep nose.  In the mouth are taut orange citrus flavor and round body with piercing, laser sharp acidity.  Sweet and tense.  Good future potential.  ***.

2005 H. M. Borges, Tina Negra Colheita
Alcohol 20%.  Bottled in 2017. A very good, deep nose.  A racy, weighty start brings ripe flavors and sweetness in this round, tense wine.  A cherry middle makes way to a sweeter finish.  Good stuff. ***(*).

1998 H.M. Borges, Malmsey Colheita
This wine was aged in casks for over 8 years.  Bottled in 2006/7. Alcohol 19%.  A touch of satisfying pungency on the nose.  In this mouth this is a powerful wine with fruit, nuts, and piercing acidity. ***.

1995 H. M. Borges, Bual Colheita
This wine was aged in oak casks for at least 5 years.  Alcohol 19%.  A pungent, piercing nose.  In the mouth are spicy flavors delivered as a tense core.  Notes of evergreen and Christmas spices add complexity before the textured finish. ***(*).

The Old White from Lazio

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Three years ago Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., visited winemaker Antonio Pulcini at the 2,000 year old villa overlooking Rome where he makes wine.  Pulcini only sells his wine out of the cellar door so the journey was the only way Mannie could secure a parcel of the top wine from his Colle Gaio vineyard.  At this vineyard vines of the indigenous Malvasia del Lazio grow on volcanic tufa.

This summer Mannie shared a bottle of the 1996 Casal Pilozzo Colli di Catone, Colle Gaio, The Old White, Lazio.  This is an interesting white wine with round flavors of fruit, Christmas spices, and lees.  This vintage is fully mature, though by no means tired, offering a combination of flavors I had never experienced before.  Curious wine drinkers should search out The Old White.

1996 Casal Pilozzo Colli di Catone, Colle Gaio, The Old White, Lazio
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Malvasia del Lazio.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This mouth filling wine yields an interesting combination of yellow and white fruit, Christmas spices, and notes of lees.  There are mineral notes and a round finish.  This mature wine is for drinking now.  *** Now.

You should try the 2016 Agrina, Portuguiser from Serbia

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2016 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is in fine form.  It reminds me of a traditionally made wine with its lifted strawberry flavors that are mouth filling yet not weighed down.  It has depth yet is not tiring to drink.  Now it is a bit prickly on the tongue, which distracted Jenn, but if that is acceptable then the flavors will transport you somewhere else. You may find this fun wine at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine is very lively on the tongue, just on the side of prickly which provides ample feeling on the tongue.  There is bright red fruit that is quite deep in flavor that resolves into lifted, ripe strawberry over black fruit notes.  It is mineral by the finish with an ethereal, sweet aftertaste.  Very satisfying.  *** Now – 2018.

All about the mouthfeel: 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

I continue my all Italian wine week with a mature bottle of 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco.  This basic bottling of Produttori is made from fruit sourced from top vineyards.  It was traditionally fashioned with long maceration (up to two months!) and long aging in large botti.  The winemaking has ensured that this is a long-lived wine despite stemming from an uneven vintage.  The unevenness is reflected in the roasted, disappearing fruit nature, but the mouthfeel is almost amazing.  This is a round, weighty wine that builds weight with air, eventually exposing an attractive ripe texture. In the end a modest experience that makes me suspect the single-vineyard bottlings from this vintage are quite good. This bottle was purchased a few years ago from Chambers Street Wines.

1979 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  A mature, tawny color with nose that never shook a roasted earth quality.  The wine built rounded body over the course of one hour in the decanter.  Ultimately, this is surprisingly round and weighty with cherry flavors, wood box notes, and a lovely ripe texture.  There is tangy citrus that morphs to ripe concentration still supported by structure.  The flavors are rather mature in this bottle with the roast note a distraction.  However, the body is entirely compelling.  Overall ** Now.

The all Cabernet Sauvigon 1990 Castello di Monsanto, Nemo

November 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I picked up the bottle of 1990 Castello di Monsanto, Nemo, Vino da Tavola di Toscana from WineBid as I was curious.  My interest lay in their Chianti but as I had never tasted a bottle of Nemo I gave it a go.  The 1990 Tuscan vintage is outstanding which is reflected in the fresh acidity and attractive grip of my bottle.  That said, the aging in wood is still noticeable and for my preference, the structure dominates the flavors in the finish so it might be best to drink this up.  Still, a solid experience.

1990 Castello di Monsanto, Nemo, Vino da Tavola di Toscana
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Il Mulino vineyard planted in 1976.  It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The fleshes out with air revealing generally dry flavors of dark fruit, leather, some roast, and polished wood.  There is fresh acidity and dry tannins leading towards a bitter black finish.  There is still attractive grip.  *** Now – 2020.

For drinking now: 2013 Planeta, Dorilli, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2013 Planeta, Dorilli, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico has benefited from a little bottle age for it is in an accessible state right now.  The wine was raised in oak so think of it as a more robust version of its namesake.  You may grab this good value at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Planeta, Dorilli, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico – $16
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is a blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol ?%.  Aromas of damp soil and smoke are inviting. In the mouth are tangy red and black fruit, juicy acidity, and gentle structure.  There is an ethereal strawberry and cranberry fruit finish with tar and a return touch of smoke.  *** Now – 2020.