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Tasting Chianti Blind at Lou’s

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

After an unbelievably youthful and glacially evolving 2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes it was time to tuck into some red wines.  Thus a handful of us stood in Lou’s tasting room to work our way through four brown-bagged wines.  The first, clearly past prime, had me guess 1970s.  I was a good decade off.  For the other three wines, I oscillated between mid-2000 petit Bordeaux or a northern Italian Bordeaux blend also of the same age.  I had the general age correct but not the grape nor the region!

Of the trio of Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva, the 2006 has the greatest potential.  It is crisp with a promising future.  The 2007 has good, deep flavors but it didn’t exhibit the same potential as the others.  The 2008 is the most forward and generous. It is the vintage to drink while the 2006 ages.

With dinner Lou opened the 2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes.  This generous wine drinks at its peak immediatley upon opening.  It does benefit from a touch of air as it took on bacon fat and smoke.  I like the Finger Lakes wines Lou opens.  Those with just a few years of age seem to be at peak.

2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes
Imported by KV Imports. Alcohol 13%.  A light, golden-tinged yellow-straw (phew!).  Fresh, surprisingly so, with moderate body and focused, clean flavors.  Round with hints of sweetness, nuts, and flint in the middle.  There is a touch of fat in the end.  Should continue to slowly develop.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #1 – 1962 Fattoria Grande di Montagnana Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Past prime, drinkable but just barely! Not Rated.

Blind Wine #2 – 2006 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Firm with sweet cherry flavors.  The wine is focused and tense with crisp, structure in the end.  Additional red fruits and polished wood come out.  More promising development to come.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #3 – 2007 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Lower lying, deep notes to the flavor. A polished edge remains a big closed and is still structured.  *** Now – 2023.

Blind Wine #4 – 2008 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  An articulate nose of cherries and other berries.  Deep, brambly red and black fruit is still youthful.  Round in the start with tense, citric acidity, ripe and sweet tannins.  A good drink that will come round faster than the 2006. Perhaps in the next year!  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes
This wine is a blend of 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.8%.  First impressions of it are that its quite rounded and definitely new world.    Surprisingly ripe with generous flavors and some smoke around the good core of fruit.  It drinks as if its at its peak.  With air, the smoke morphs into bacon fat and smoke, as if from a Northern Rhone wine.  Great showing.  ***(*) Now.

After Afternoon with Mature Wine – Part 1 Nebbiolo

November 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Sudip, Lou, and I recently spent an afternoon following several bottles of mature wine.  The quartet of “little” Nebbiolo from Chambers St Wines proved the most interesting that day.  All of the wines were double-decanted to seperate off the sediment and even the minor wines benefited from air.

The youngest wine, 1973 Crissante Alessandria, Barolo, is from a rather weak vintage in Barolo.  It is the biggest surprise for me, medium weight flavors, zippy acidity, rounded luxury, and some fruit.  It is also the most alcoholic wine tasted which, perhaps, contributes to the weight it imparted.  The 1967 Franco Fiorina, Barolo was simple at best, with its citric, tart & sweet cherry flavor.  The inexpensive, cooperative bottle of 1964 Cantina Sociale Vini Sizzano & Ghemme, Ghemme held on for hours worth of drinking.  It is a subtle, old-school flavored wine of moderate flesh which is a good foil for better wines to follow.  The 1952 Cantine Diver, Tipico Spanna, Gattinara is another surprise.  I like the red fruit, earth, and leather but it is the quality of the acidity which caught my attention.  This is clearly from an excellent vintage but also an older wine.  Whereas the 1964 chugged along the 1952 had a peak then declined.  Good fun while it lasted!

1973 Crissante Alessandria, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 13.8%.  Fruity and floral with a wood-polish note.  In the mouth it is tense with sharp acidity and moderately round body with an ethereal, oil quality for luxury.  A spiced edge is ripe with a zippy, baking spiced finish.  This medium weight wine is full of life!  ***(*) Now but will last.

1967 Franco Fiorina, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12%.  A touch of roast on the nose.  There is good mouth-feel with sweet baking spices and a fresher aspect.  Flavors of tart and sweet cherries have a citric presence in the mouth.  There is a round mouthfeel and some fat but overall a simple wine.  ** Now drink up.

1964 Cantina Sociale Vini Sizzano & Ghemme, Ghemme
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Old leather with old-school flavors immediately greet.  With a modest amount of air the body fleshes out and takes on nut flavors.  There is even some structure.  The entire wine remains in balance.  A subtle wine which provides a solid experience for hours.  **(*) Now.

1952 Cantine Diver, Tipico Spanna, Gattinara
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Hints of leather on the nose.  In the mouth crisp, red fruit, and a touch both of earth and leather.  There is a spine of acidity and an herbal-oil hint throughout.  The ripe, citric acidity mixes with compelling baking spices.  Quite good, clearly an excellent vintage, but of a shorter life-span once opened.  ***(*) Now but will last.

Mature, affordable Syrah

September 20, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2012 Jean-Michel Gerin, La Champine, IGP Colline Rhodaniennes is a bit of a steal for maturing Rhone Syrah.  It comes across as drinking at its peak which means this gentle wine offers a bit of everything as soon as the cork is pulled.  You might grab a bottle or two so you can shake up your mid-week rotation.  Find it at MacArthur Beverages.

2012 Jean-Michel Gerin, La Champine, IGP Colline Rhodaniennes – $12
Imported by Espirit du Vin. This wine is 100% Syrah aged 12 months in used oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Hints of maturity and wood box with a subtle undertone of fat. Of moderate body, there are firm cherry flavors, a little earthy, and fine tannic structure. At the beginning of a gentle, mature state. **(*) Now – 2020.

Buy the case: 2017 Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois

September 18, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2017 Chateau Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois is a fine wine to include amongst your weekly rotation.  Like the previous vintage, the 2017 is a bright, honest wine. It is the type of wine we like to drink when we return home late after our daughter’s soccer practice.  Grab a case at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Chateau Coupe Roses, Bastide, Minervois – $13
Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports. This wine is a blend of 48% Carignan, 46% Grenache, and 6% Syrah. Alcohol 13.5%. Carignan on the nose. In the mouth black fruit and pastilles are immediately evident as is the powdery texture. The flavors become brighter through the finish where tannins and juicy acidity is evident. This medium bodied wine becomes lifted with air, showing deep, red raspberry fruit and citrus over its structure. There is even a touch of blue fruit and fat.  It might open up over the winter. **(*) Now – 2023.

A pair of Montefalco Sagrantino

September 13, 2018 Leave a comment

I love the dark flavors and intensity of Montefalco Sagrantino.  They are not for the faint of heart when young but the substantial structure is a bit thrilling.  Of the two featured in this post the 2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino is the better balanced with a touch more depth.  The 2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino is certainly the more intense of the pair.  This wine is living on the edge such that it requires a few more years in the cellar.  Both are of good value but if you must pick one then grab the Colpetrone at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino – $21
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%. Some age to the color. Dark fruit but there is brightness from the acidity which is actually quite good. Fine grained, firm and bitter tannins exist throughout. This is a flavorful wine with strong structure best left to age for several more years. *** 2019 – 2030.

2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino – $18
Imported by Siema Wines.  Alcohol 15.5%.  Ripe dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth black and dark blue flavors get surpassed by some intense tannic structure.  It wraps up with minerals that have a hint of bitterness.  There is good flavor but the wine is young.  The good acidity supports the ultra fine and drying structure which requires a few years of age but could be tamed by a fatty steak.  A bit salty in the aftertaste.  **(*) 2020 – 2030.

A pair of 2017 Beaujolais

September 11, 2018 Leave a comment

I grabbed a pair of 2017 Beaujolais off the shelves at MacArthur Beverages this past weekend.  These two wines are more in line with the 2016 vintage than the 2015 but even then, are ultimately more grapey and brighter in flavor.  In this light, the 2017 Kermit Lynch (Domaine Dupeuble), Beaujolais will offer plenty of flavor to be drunk over the next year or two.  Hail hit Beaujolais for another year in a row during the 2017 vintage.  The 2017 Marcel Lapierre, Beaujolais contains no fruit from the Côte du Puy which I cannot help but believe shaped this wine.  The 2016 vintage was crisp and energetic from the start, making a good drink upon release.  This 2017 vintage is firm, with good material, leaving the impression that it will drink better next year.  I will try it again this winter.

2017 Kermit Lynch (Domaine Dupeuble), Beaujolais – $14
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Good floral and firm, grapey fruit.  There is some texture, crisp and watering acidity, with some baking spice flavor in the end.  Grapey, young, not too deep, but with a good amount of flavor. **(*) Now – 2019.

2017 Marcel Lapierre, Beaujolais – $30
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Tart red fruit defines itself as cranberry and raspberry with supportive acidity and some firmness with fine structure.  It should develop over the rather short-term.  This is a fruity wine to start, pure in flavor, becoming more firm and dry with air.  It tastes like Beaujolais and not the Rhone.  It becomes almost grapey with powdery flavor.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

A modest López de Heredia tasting

I recently met up with Sudip to taste seven wines from López de Heredia; three Viña Gravonia, three Viña Bosconia, and one Viña Tondonia as a reference.  López de Heredia dates back to the 19th century in Rioja but for our purposes we concentrated on relatively young vintages back to 1998.  I was most curious to see how much vintage variation there is.

Of the trio of 2004, 2002, and 1998 Viña Gravonia I much preferred the oldest vintage.  All of the wines bear oxidized, apple orchard aromas and flavors but the 1998 sports the least being the most vinous.  It has zippy acidity with some ripeness to the flavors.  The 2000 was pungent, evocative of mushrooms and the simplest.  The 2004 is clearly the youngest.  It is crisp with tart lemon and clean flavors.  I found it a bit tight and think it will drink better several years down the road.  Once these wines develop they should hold well for years.  For those who have yet to taste Gravonia it is unique.

All of the red wines were double-decanted.  The 1999 Viña Bosconia quickly became and remained my favorite Bosconia for current drinking, in fact it is still young!  It combines both fruit, damp earth, and bottle age, all delivered with tension.  I expect further cellaring to be beneficial.  The 2000 is muted and mature.  The 2005 is young but already sports some earthy funk like the 1999.  The structure and acidity is there for development, which is certainly will do, but our bottle of 1999 reveals greater potential.

Finally, the 2005 Viña Tondonia shows great potential.  It is savory, young and dense in a way that there is stuffing for decades of aging supported by the structure.  It is drinkable now but remains closely played.  It is worth the extra $5 over the 2005 Viña Bosconia.

2004 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12.5%.  The most aromatic with yeasty, apple orchard aromas.  A touch more acidity in the mouth, tart lemon, clean, good body, and wood-like texture.  Crisp.  **(*) Now – 2023 then will last.

2002 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12.5%.  A pungent nose of orchard fruit.  A soft entry of mushroom-like flavor, then acidity and apple-orchard in the finish.  The simplest of the trio.  ** Now.

1998 López de Heredia, Viña Gravonia, Rioja Blanco
Imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Viura  Alcohol 12%.  A golden honey color.  Good nose.  An oxidized hint though the wine is more vinous with apple-like, zippy acidity.  There is modest body to the ethereal ripe flavors which cover the mouth but leave the middle slightly hollow. There less noticeable acidity in the end.  *** Now but will last.

2005 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva – $35
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Good fruit, cherry flavors, and a little earth have grapey density into the tart, cranberry middle. A young natured wine but already some attractive funk is present.  With air a supporting, fine dry structure becomes evident with dry, black and red flavors in the finish.  *** Now – 2028.

2000 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva
Imported by Polarn Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  The most muted nose of the four reds with a bit of stink.  A bit more mature in the mouth, red fruit, watering acidity, a touch of ink then sharper in the finish.  With air it is dusty in the mouth with a similar profile but more pronounced sour cherry flavor.  Not the best of the trio.  *(*) Now.

1999 López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia, Rioja Riserva
Imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 3% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  Aromatic with attractive damp earth notes.  Fruiter in the mouth, cedar, bottle age flavors, and fine textured tannins add presence.  There is citric tension and grip to add life.  With air there remains a core of flavor which carries through the end with an aftertaste of sour cherries and acidity.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 López de Heredia, Viña Tondonia, Rioja Riserva – $40
Imported by Think Global Wine Selections. This wine is a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacho, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo.  Alcohol 13%.  Young, fruity, and dense.  With air this savory wine shows body but also has the acidity and structure for it to age.  Strong future potential.  **** Now – 2038.