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Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 3 Largely Unknown

In this third and last post about the Old Italian Wines tasting, I cover the group of largely unknown wines.

Mostly Unknown

The goal of this grouping was to taste wines from unknown producers or wines of known producers without published tasting notes.  I thought it was the most interesting set.  The 1971 Lungarotti, Torgiano Rubesco is my favorite of this group for it is aromatic, fruity, and crisp.  I should very much like to try a Riserva.  From the same excellent vintage, it is not surprising that the 1971 Giovanni Scanavino, Barolo Riserva drinks well.  What is surprising is that the 1961 Molinelli Giuseppe, Valtidone Gutturnio will outlive all of the wines we tasted.  This is a zippy, red fruited wine given life by the acidity.  It is bottled in heavy, substantial glass.  From the same vintage I also enjoyed the more linear 1961 Cantine di Venosa, Aglianico del Vulture, Riserva Enoselezone.  It is a dry wine with sappy acidity and a foxy note.  While it will not develop further it is very much alive.  By far the oldest Sangiovese I have tasted is the 1949 Fattorie del Piceno, Cantine di Montefano, Montefano Sangiovese “Dry”, Rosso Piceno Extra.  This is a label created just one year prior to the vintage.  I thought the wine had faded off but then it came back to life and hung around for a few days.  It is a gentle old wine with interest from the menthol and old leather.

In the end, the average quality of the wines tasted, as well as the peak quality did not match those we tried at An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954.  This is not surprising.  However, the oldest wines tasted, made from Raboso, Aglianico, Barbera, and Sangioviese (!) while simpler in flavor than Piemonte wines, certainly have longevity.  I can imagine these wines lending life-lengthening qualities to the Alto-Piemonte bottles we tasted before.

1979 Angelo Gaja, Nebbiolo del Piemonte
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Not attractive on the nose, actually it stinks.  Robust tart red and cherry fruit, some animale notes then it becomes undrinkable.  Not Rated.

1971 Giovanni Scanavino, Barolo Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 13%.  Concentrated aromas of sweaty, sweet old fruit on the nose.  In the mouth spearmint greats.  This wine still has grip and structure with sweet mint, slightly racy in the middle, bits of minerals and lipsticky finish.  Watering acidity throughout.  Holds up well.  ** Now but will last.

1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Not right compared to other bottles of this wine.  Not rated.

1971 Ricasoli, Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Tart, simple, and short with wood notes.  Not undrinkable, rather a survivor of very simple flavor. * Now.

1971 Lungarotti, Torgiano Rubesco
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A light to medium color.  Sweet, concentrated aromas on the nose of old wine then it freshens up with air.  Still fruity in the start with a fresh personality, old-school flavors in the middle, and a crispy finish.  Satisfying.  *** Now.

1967 Giacomo Conterno, Freisa
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A medium, brick color.  Roasted aromas on the nose.  In the mouth is tart, red fruit, strong acidity, then a finish of gentle red strawberry.  The roast returns indicating this is past prime.  *(*) Now.

1966 Cantina Sociale Ponte di Piave, Raboso Piave
Cantina Sociale Ponte di Piave was founded in 1948 by a small group of winemakers trying to survive during the tough postwar years.  A new facility was built in 1955 and by 1964, there were more than 360 members of the cooperative.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 13%.  Nuts on the nose.  Plenty of tart, red fruit in the mouth, acidity, still structured, and acidic end.  A blood note develops.  This wine drank the same for days, it appears to be true to the grape.  *(*) Now but will last.

1966 Cantina Centrale Cooperativa, Cacc’e Mmitte, Riserva Enoselezone
Cacc’e Mmitte, located in Puglia, is named after an ancient vinification technique where the farmhouses equipped with tanks for the crush rented them out.  Tenants had to be finished by the end of their term for the next person.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A very light, browning color.  Delicate, sweet old fruit in the mouth.  A gentle wine with low acidity, sweet red fruit in the finish.  Appealing in a way but soft, simple, short, and solid.  *(*) Now.

1961 Cantine di Venosa, Aglianico del Vulture, Riserva Enoselezone
Cantine di Venosa was founded in 1957 by 25 members and today has more than 400.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Good nose with dry, linear flavors in the mouth.  Sappy acidity, a polished wood note, and dry extract.  This is a good, sharp with with an attractive foxy presence. ** Now but will last.

1961 Molinelli Giuseppe, Valtidone Gutturnio
Most likely a blend of Barbera with Croatina (Bonardo).  Guttornio is located in Emilio-Romagna.  Imported by T. Elenteny.  Powdery flavor with noticeable, zippy acidity, and red cranberry flavors.  There is a firm wood note.  In amazing shape, the red flavors match the zippy, crisp nature.  Drank well for hours.  ** Now – 2028.

1949 Fattorie del Piceno, Cantine di Montefano, Montefano Sangiovese “Dry”, Rosso Piceno Extra
The “Cantine di Montefano” brand was registered in 1948.  Montefano is located in the Marche.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12-13%.  Dry and linear but dimension comes from dry extract.  Solid and initially appears to not hold up but then it breathes back to life.  Hints of menthol mix with finely textured red fruit and leather.  Modest body.  ** Now.

Patent for “Cantine di Montefano” business mark granted in 1948.

Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 1 Dolcetto

 

Half a year ago a small group of us gathered for An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954.  The wines from Alto Piemonte were largely good so we gathered again to try an even more diverse selection of Italian wines dating from 1996 back to 1949.  The selections were organized into three groups: Dolcetto, Barbera, and Largely Unknown.  The Italian wines were brought by a few and all but one of the bottles came from Chambers St Wines.  Given the expected low hit rate we went through a larger than normal set of wines.  In this post I cover the Champagne and Dolcetto wines.

Champagne

We started and finished the tasting with Champagne.  I brought the 1977 Moet & Chandon, Silver Jubilee Cuvee Champagne from Reid Wines of England.  Based on the 1971 vintage, this cuvee was released for the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  Despite the excellent fill, the cork came out readily, no doubt the cause for the dissipation of all bubbles.  It was still enjoyable as a still white wine and as one other person noted, there are some flavors reminiscent of Madeira!  Of the other three Champagnes I was particularly impressed by the NV Savart, Champagne Premier Cru Bulle de Rosé once it warmed up.

1977 Moet & Chandon, Silver Jubilee Cuvee Champagne
A honied amber color with sweet fruits on the nose. The cork came out readily so there are no bubbles at all, just a moderately silky body. Essentially a mature white wine but with chalk and hints of grip. The texture alone gives the faintest impression of a mousse. With air, quite attractive flavor develops which is evocative of Madeira in the finish. *** for flavor alone.

2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Chemin de Reims, Champagne Extra Brut
Imported by Envoyer. This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented and aged in old oak from Anne Gros.  Alcohol 12%. Disgorged August 2017. Pale yellow in the glass. Ripe yellow fruit at first, very balanced with a gently sweet aftertaste. Hints of wood.  *** Now.

2008 Moet & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut Chamapgne Brut
This wine is a blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay and 22% Meunier aged for seven years on the lees.  20% of the Pinot Noir is wine.  Alcohol 12.5%. A colorful wine of dried rose. Very fine in the mouth. Solid with plenty of ripe, red fruit and a tarter finish.  Flavorful but not that complex.  *** Now – 2023.

NV Savart, Champagne Premier Cru Bulle de Rosé
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, and 8% wine of Pinot Noir. Alcohol 12.5%. A fabulous nose is followed by a unique flavor. Becomes stellar with air and warmth, revealing ripe berry and floral fruit. It builds both chalk and pastille flavors. Overall a racy and grippy wine once it has opened up. **** Now – 2028.

Dolcetto

The Dolcetto flight proved moderately good at best.  The 1996 Falleto di Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto d’Alba is fully mature in flavor but still retains structure.  It lacked the verve to move up in quality.  I thought the 1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Gallo smelled good, it certainly engaged me but was tired in the mouth.  Sadly the 1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Ginestra was a bad bottle with its musty smell.  That left the 1968 Pio Cesare, Dolcetto d’Alba as the most interesting bottle.  Rather light in color with gentle flavors of strawberry and blood, this held up well and is evocative of the 1960s.

1996 Falleto di Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto d’Alba
Founded in 1900, Bruno Giacosa purchased the 8.4 Ha Falletto vineyard in 1982.  At the time it was planted with just some Dolcetto.  Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 12%. At first a core of mature fruit that is astringent but interesting. There are just hints of very fine tannins. With air it is confirmed that this is fully mature yet still a bit firm by the middle. Notes of old leather add to the bitter flavors which extured over a textured and tannic finish. It wraps up with some eucalyptus freshness.  ** Now.

1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Gallo
Giuseppe Mascarello & Figlio was founded in 1881.  If am I correct, his great-grandson Mauro took over the winery in 1967.  According to the Wasserman’s he produced some 16,000 bottles of Dolcetto D’Alba annually.  They considered his approach to Barolo as traditional.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Quite dark in color with grapey and cherry highlights. After an attractive nose, there are flavors of sweet fruits and oak. The wine is certainly tired or rather firm with black fruit marked by a bitter finish. *(*) Now.

1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Ginestra
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Quite dark with grapey color as well. Smells like musty wood. Nope! Not Rated.

1968 Pio Cesare, Dolcetto d’Alba
Pio Cesare was founded in 1881.  At one point the wines of Dolcetto d’Alba represented around 10% of their production or 24,000 bottles per year.  At the time of this vintages, the Wasserman’s considered them a very traditional producer.  Their Barolo was fermented in wooden vats where it was in contact with skins for two and a half months then kept outdoors during the winter.  Imported by T. Elenteny.  A light to medium bricking color. Delicate flavors greet with strawberry, bloody, and iron. This wine sports gentle weight, modest acidity, and a cola-like refreshing finish. A solid wine that held up for hours. ** Now.

A tasting of Hermanos Peciña Rioja from 2016-2001

Bodegas Hermanos Pecina was founded in 1992 by Pedro Peciña who was the vineyard manager of La Rioja Alta.  The wines are fashioned using the traditional methods of Rioja first developed in the 19th century.   I particularly enjoy traditional Rioja so after first tasting a Peciña wine six years ago, I have shared bottles with others.  When it came time for us to host a dinner for a group of co-workers and friends I took the opportunity to serve as many different bottlings as I could.

The wines of Hermanos Peciña are imported by The Rare Wine Co. so I turned to Mannie Berk from whom I was able to purchase nine different wines.  For background information on the wines I recommend you check out the RWC Hermanos Peciña page where you may also purchase some of the selections we tasted.

Recommendations

For current drinking I recommend the 2016 Hermanos Peciña, Rioja Cosecha which is grapey, yet surprisingly deep for a young wine.  I strongly recommend you seek out the 2011 Hermanos Peciña, Rioja Reserva.  This was the first bottle finished and group favorite, of which I agree!  It is entering its first drinkable phase so you can follow it over the next decade.

Traditional Rioja is capable of slowly developing complexity over a long period of time.  This in part stems from long aging in used American oak.  This capability is clearly reflected in the Gran Reserva and Vendimia Seleccionada bottles.  The 2010 Hermanos Peciña, Finca Iscorta de Pecina, Rioja Gran Reserva is the tightest and in need of the most cellar age.  This single vineyard wine possesses power yet also balance.  Both the 2009 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva and 2003 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva are in development.  Hints of maturity come out on the nose or in the palate but these vintages are still clinging to youth.

The 2001 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada is another wine that you should seek out.  Widely regarded as an excellent vintage in Rioja, this bottle is just coming into its own which allows  you to experience this great year.  Pure in flavor with juicy acidity there is a luxurious mouthfeel with texture in the finish.

Tasting Notes

2016 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Cosecha
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 3% Garnacha from the youngest vines averaging 15-25 years of age. Aged in stainless steel and no oak. Grapey but deep in flavor with fresh fruit. Moderate weight, modest structure, and a little acidity. A good young wine. ** Now – 2020.

2013 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Crianza
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from three vineyards with vines averaging 30-60 years of age. Aged for 2 years in American oak. Scented fruit on the nose. More weight in the mouth, creamy blue fruit, a bit robust but water acidity keeps things lively. The structure comes in at the end with very fine tannins and firm hints of wood. Might develop some more. ** Now – 2022.

2006 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Crianza magnum
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from three vineyards with vines averaging 30-60 years of age. Aged for 2 years in American oak. Quite mature on the nose; the aromas are good. In the mouth are sweet, red fruit flavors, sweat, and a bit of roast earth. It becomes a bit dirty with air such that I can’t help but think this is a sub par bottle. Not Rated.

2011 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 35-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. A brooding nose of licorice and tobacco. A tart, black fruited start then a creamy middle with tobacco and texture. A strong future with the most potential out of all wines. Really quite good, a group favorite. **** Now – 2028.

2009 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 60-70 year old vines. Aged for 4 years in American oak. Meaty with slightly sweet aromas make for a good nose. This is certainly young as evidenced by the grip yet there is a mature edge to the flavor. Watering acidity and hints of wood carry it on. ***(*) Now – 2035.

2003 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 60-70 year old vines. Aged for 4 years in American oak. Good nose, aromatic, and much more mature than the 2009. The wine is open in the mouth with gentle, yet focused fruit which does not taste mature until the finish. It is supported by citric acidity. A slow ager. ***(*) Now – 2030.

2010 Hermanos Peciña, Finca Iscorta de Pecina, Rioja Gran Reserva
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Garnacha, and 2% Graciano sourced from 50 year old vines at the Finca Isacorta Vineyard. Modern, tight and lean right now. Black fruited with a creamy edge. All components are perfectly balanced with a subtle hint of vanilla which will integrate. **** 2023-3035.

2006 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 30-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. Still young at first, meaty with roast notes then with air fully mature flavors come out. This is a round wine with a soft start. The structure slowly builds supporting sour fruits in the end. *** Now – 2023.

2001 Hermanos Peciña, Señorio de P. Peciña, Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada
A blend of 95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, and 2% Garnacha sourced from 30-60 year old vines. Aged for 3 years in American oak. A bit tight at first though rounder with a coffee note. With air, a touch more power and almost juicy acidity. Pure flavors of largely red fruit but pure blue fruits and minerals come out in the end. Oily mouthfeel and right at the end, extract lends texture to the finish. **** 2020-2040.

A diverse wine selection at The Locke Store in Millwood, VA

The wines of Agrina from Croatia, Burlotto from Italy, and Historic Series Madeira from Portugal may all be found at The Locke Store in Millwood, Virginia.  I found myself in the small community of Millwood as we returned with our daughter from sleepaway camp the other week.  After eating fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert, she was of course, in need of a snack.  The Locke Store was the closest store I could find so through the country road we drove.  What good luck for me as the wine selection is more akin to what I find in Washington, DC, some 60 miles away.

The Locke Store was built in 1836 but it is since 1844 that it has continuously operated as a store until this day.  In 2002, Juliet Mackay-Smith became proprietor, and under her eye a surprisingly diverse wine selection occupies a good portion of the store.  I grabbed several bottles from vintages I had yet to taste.  If you find yourself in the area, perhaps visiting the Burwell-Morgan Mill or Carter Hall, then be sure to store by the store to pick up some wine as well.

2016 Badenhorst Family Wines, Secateurs Vintage Red Wine – $19
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 56% Shiraz, 27% Cinsault, 21% Grenache, and 1% Tinta Barocca.  Alcohol 13%.  The tart berries in the rounded start soon take on flavors of black tea and black fruit.  This is a drier wine but with a good vein of flavor.  Medium bodied with some supportive structure in the middle, this is a solid wine for drinking now.  ** Now – 2019.

2015 Frederick Brouca, Champs Pentus, Faugeres – $20
Imported by Elite Wines.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Carignan.  Alcohol 13%.  Needs some air to come together and shake off a bit of yeast.  It is lively on the tongue, almost with spritz, which moves the wine into a vein of dry, mineral, black flavors.  There is a structure of very fine tannins, almost too powerful when first opened, which eventually balance out due to a developing core of round, cherry flavors upfront.  This should improve once the structure resolves. **(*) Now – 2023.

2015 Chateau Puech-Haut, Le Prestige, Saint-Drezery – $23
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  A cuvee for Philipe Cambie and Eric Solomon.  Alcohol 15%.  A touch earthy with creamy blue fruit that drapes over the tongue due to the lower acidity start.  It transits to a mineral, black finish with a touch more acidity.  Notes of some sweet oak are at the end. This is satisfyingly flavorful wine with minimal tannins that is easy to drink now.  *** Now.

Tenerife and Ribeira Sacra from Envinate

July 2, 2018 1 comment

There are some rather interesting wines produced by Envinte and of the most recent vintage I particularly like the 2016 Envinate, Lousas, Vinas de aldea, Ribeira Sacra.  It needs air to come into balance but then there is a tension between the high-toned, acidic flavors and the oily, ripe citrus fruit.  Cool stuff.  I could not coax the same complexity out of the 2016 Envinate, Taganan, Parcela Margalagua, Tenerife.  I often feel these Tenerife wines need short-term aging and that is my impression of this wine.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Envinate, Taganan, Parcela Margalagua, Tenerife – $28
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  A field-blend of Listan Negro, Listan Prieto, Baboso, Negramoll, Malvasia Negra, and more from 100+ year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Brighter, lighter, tarter, with dry tangy middle and watering acidity.  Finishes with fresh tannic service.  Needs time.  ** 2020-2025.

2016 Envinate, Lousas, Vinas de aldea, Ribeira Sacra – $32
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 60 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  High-toned and yeasty flavors to start but by the middle a gentle ripeness spreads through the mouth with an old leather note by the finish.  The acidity is almost sharp but with air the oily, ripeness contains it, bringing balance to the orange citrus and dry floral flavors.  Needs some air to show best.  *** Now – 2020.

A diverse set of wines: Armenia, Macedonia, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and others

It was over the bottle of Ethiopian Chardonnay, brought by Jacques several weeks ago, that he proposed the idea of hosting a wine dinner to include bottles from Macedonia and Lebanon.  The origins of the wines we tried were nearly as diverse as the guests he hosted, who together represent nine different nationalities.  Jacques supplied a number of wines he had acquired over the years, bringing them from his home cellar to the Washington, DC, area.

A few other wines were added, including those I had purchased from MacArthur Beverages, from which we started with the 2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia.  A solid rose from Tunisia, how can you not try it?

My favorite red wines all came from Jacques.  It took me several minutes to realize I had drunk an earlier vintage of the 2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  The 2012 vintage is clearly much better than the 2009 I had drunk earlier with Taz, which was also supplied by Jacques.  The 2012 is a dark flavored wine with strong development potential.  I would try it again in a few years.  My favorite wine is the 2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  It is mouth filling with mature flavors that do not weigh you down and capable of further development.  Purchased pre-war, the 2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria struck me as the biggest surprise of the night.  The 2008 vintage is only the third for the domain.  It is very well-made and drinkable, perhaps a nod must be given to consulting oenologist Stephane Derenoncourt.  The family produces wine in both Syria and Lebanon but I believe Jacques prefers their Syrian wine.

Our final wine was sat for most of the evening in a decanter.  Complete with wooden presentation box and metal label, the 2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia is big both in bottle and in alcohol.  I notice power more than terroir but it is a good drink with the alcohol integrated.

Thanks again to Jacques and his wife.  Please find my tasting notes for these and the other wines I tasted below.

2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia
Imported by Travis Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache. Alcohol 13.5%.  A medium, dry rose color.  In the mouth is a moderate body, floral middle, watering acidity, and a lighter finish.  Light and bright in flavor, it takes on a creamy mouthfeel and notes of pastilles in the finish. ** Now.

2017 Minuty, Rose M, Cotes de Provence
Imported by Chateau & Estates. Alcohol 13%.  A rather light dry rose color.  This light, acidity driven wine bears just a touch of texture but plentiful stone notes.  ** Now.

2013 Yacoubian-Hobbs, Aghavnadzor, Vayots Dzor, Armenia
Imported by Paul Hobbs Selections. This wine is a blend of Voskehat, Khatuni, Qrdi, and Garan Demak. Alcohol 12.8%.  Both a light color and a light nose.  Improves with warmth to reveal white nuts, hints of wood but is overall modest in flavor.  Interesting but left me wanted for more.  *(*) Now – 2019.

2003 Chateau Musar, Blanc, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Merwah.  Alcohol 12%.  A copper-yellow color.  Mature in the mouth with an oxidative note then Sherry flavors with some toast.  At first moderate in body with watering acidity it eventually develops an enjoyable lanolin roundness through the long aftertaste.  Certainly an acquired taste.  **(*) Now but will last.

2010 Tsantali, Xinomavro Reserva, Naoussa, Greece
Imported by Fantis Imports. Alcohol 13%.  Quite nice actually with initially dry flavors of black cherry then an engaging racy bit.  *** Now – 2020.

2004 Domaine Ferrando, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% old-vine Grenache.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Fully mature with wood box, black cherry, and Kirsch all delivered in a rounded style.  Very good finish.  *** Now.

2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in the glass with dark flavors of incense.  There is extract and tannins structured for a requisite few more years of development.  I like the dark fruit profile and mouthfeel.  The new oak needs to integrate but strong potential.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan aged in cement vats, French oak barrels, and finally vats.  Alcohol 14%.  Mature with mouth filling flavors of cherry, good acidity, and animale bits adding complexity.  The citric tannins and acidity will see further development.  Unique!  **** Now – 2028.

2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria
This wine is a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in color.  Some roast on the nose but mature overall.  In the mouth are good flavors and fine extract.  A successful blend that opens up to a modern profile with good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2013 Stobi, Vranec, Veritas, Tikves, Macdeonia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Vranec aged 24 months in 80% new Slavonian oak casks and 20% Slavonian oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  Modern flavors of cherry with some brightness, certainly clean and balanced with no hard edges.  Could use a year or two to open up.  ** Now – 2023.

2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 17 year old vines aged 28 months in French and American oak barrels. Alcohol 16.3%.  An intense, yet flavorful wine with powerful ripe dark fruits and a long, powerful finish.  One notices power and not alcohol.  A bit unevolved at this point so come back in a few years.  *** 2020-2028.

Highly aromatic 1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja

Bodegas Alavesas was founded in 1972 by the wealthy industrialist Miguel Angel Alonso Samaniego. A new winery was completed in 1973 in which wines were made from some several hundred hectares of owned vineyards and locally purchased fruit.  In the early 1980s, the 1968 and 1970 vintages were considered amongst the best.  Given these dates, it is clear that the winery jump-started production by bringing in purchased wine for maturation.

The two wood-aged red wines are named after 18th century Spanish poets.  The top wine, Solar de Samaniego, was produced both as a Rioja Reserva and Rioja Gran Reserva.  The 1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja featured in this post represents the Reserva.  As such it is a blend of approximately 90% Tempranillo with 10% Viura sourced from the Alavesas.  The fruit for this wine was destemmed, fermented in concrete tank then spent 30 months in tank followed by 18 months in cask.  The terroir, blend, and production  contribute to the historic view that Bodegas Alavesas produced elegant wines.

This particular bottle offers up some of the most engaging aromas I have come across recently.  Whereas I found campfire, red meat, and tangerines a friend succinctly stated “mesquite”.  Upon drinking this elegant wine I was left wanting for more length but I did not mind as much for I kept returning to the nose.  That is until we finished the bottle.

1970 Bodegas Alavesas, Solar de Samaniego, Rioja
Imported by The Rioja Wine Co.  The nose smells of campfire and red meat then reveals aromas of red fruit, ripe oranges, and tangerines.  The nose is the strong part of this wine, almost capable of capturing your full attention.  In the mouth the flavors are elegant and very short, leaving me to wish for more length.  Revisiting the nose time after time yields sweet, concentrated fruit aromas.  **** for the nose alone but overall ** Now.