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The Post-Brunello Tasting Dinner Wines

November 15, 2018 Leave a comment

No tasting is complete without dinner and even more wine!  As I was dealing with dinner my notes are a bit thin.  I tried the 1990 Produttori di Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, en magnum both during and after the Brunello tasting.  The nose retained bits of roast but the flavors are fresh, balanced, and enjoyable. Strong provenance so who knows!?  The 1979 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo proved quite solid, surprisingly silky in body with old-school flavors.  Of the brace of pure Meunier Champagne (what a great idea), the 2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Champagne Extra Brut Les Barres is the most earthy and mushroomy bubbly I have tried.  I would have spent more time with it but the NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Rose stole the show.  Certainly my favorite of all the dinner wines and possibly those preceding it.  A great value too.

From the Sotheby’s Don Stott auction, the 1959 Hallgartener Schonhell Riesling Auslese, Rheingau gave a glimpse of the fantastic 1959 vintage.  Aromas of orange-peel and flowers on the nose followed by apple-skin and spice in the mouth.  Elegant and in fine state.  The Mignon is great but the 2002 Domaine des Lambrays, Clos des Lambrays en magnum was my favorite wine for pure drinkability that evening.  A perfect dinner wine!  Many thanks to the guests who shared their wines with dinner.

1990 Produttori di Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, en magnum
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 13%.  Magnum #1996/2000.  The roast on the nose never blows off but a cocoa aroma develops. A bit bipolar between the nose and mouth. Very fresh in the mouth, balanced acidity, fine wood, and very fine texture. Dry tannins in the end. Overall *** Now/Later?

1979 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny. A little stinky on the nose. With air fine wood and good pungency develop. Rounder with surprising silky body, there is sweet, old-school fruit in the middle. *** Now but will last.

2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Champagne Extra Brut Les Barres
This wine is 100% Meunier sourced from a parcel planted in 1952.  Disgorged July 2012.  Alcohol 12%.  Quite complex, earthy, mushrooms, like no other Champagne I’ve tasted.  This drinks fully mature.  *** Now.

NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  Alcohol 12%. The berry core is first noticed then the strong bubbles. Immediately complex, very delicious, mixing with herbs, spices, and crisp apple acidity. Excellent flavors of ripe apple persist through the long aftertaste. Surprisingly good. ****(*) Now – 2023.

1959 Hallgartener Schonhell Riesling Auslese, Rheingau
Shipped by Walter S. Siegal.  A golden-amber color. The nose is scented with orange-peel, flowers, and tree fruit. A core of fruit remains in the mouth, apple skin with spices, and rounded body with sweet ripeness. There are hints of baking spice that mix with ripe apples through the long finish. In a perfect state. **** Now.

2002 Domaine des Lambrays, Clos des Lambrays en magnum
Alcohol 13.5%. Round, sweet fruit, some spice, and no hard edges. It is in a lovely state, to be drunk, with good fruit carried by subdued acidity.  ***(*) Now but mags will last.

2007 Biondi-Santi, Rosso di Montalcino
Corked!

2010 Agricola Punica, Barrua, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia
Rounded, modern as well, but the dark fruit sports attractive fat. Oak comes out in the end.  ** Now – 2028.

2009 Caiarossa, IGT Toscana
Dense, modern flavors of concentrated grapeyness, vanilla, and a spicy finish. Not my style of wine. *(*) 2020-2030.

A tasting of 2015 German Riesling with a few bottles of Champagne

A generous friend hosted a small group to taste through an even larger number of German Riesling bottles.  The focus was largely on 2015 German Riesling with an additional flight of 2008 Riesling Spätlese and several bottles of bubbles throughout.

The 2015 vintage is excellent allowing for the generally high quality of the wines we tasted from both new and established producers.  On the young side, the 2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen is in need of some age.  It is dry, matching the stone flavor with good tension from acidity.  The 2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau offers fruit and ripeness, making it a good wine right now but it will also benefit from age.  Real beauty is found in the 2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe.  I found it crisp yet with flesh and fruit.  I really liked the 2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel which is powerful and perfumed with great presence in the mouth.  Offering all of the desired components, the 2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel is the best choice for drinking now.  I was sure to revisit it a few times.

Of the trio of 2008 Spätlese, there was a fun pairing of 2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black and gold capsule.  My current preference is for the black capsule which has vibrant acidity and a chalky finish.  The gold capsule offers yellow, honied, complex fruit. but this richness is not matched by the acidity.  They are on different maturity curves and for now, the black capsule is more exciting.  The 2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese brings forth thoughts of gold, honey, and petrol.  Lovely stuff!

Of the other wines the pair of NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut and NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut deserve mention.  Both of these wines are fermented in used oak barrels with indigenous yeast then spend another year or so in oak.  The Les Roises vineyard contains 60 year old vines on soils rich in clay whereas Les Pierrieres contains 35 year old vines on chalky soils.  Our two bottles are Lot 10 being disgorged in 2014.  Les Roises offers more berries, complexity, and some earth.  It is the broader of the pair and is so perfectly drinkable right now.  Les Pierrieres is drier and firm.  While it did improve with air, it really needs further time in the cellar.

Many thanks to our host for sharing all of these excellent bottles of wine.

Starters

2013 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cuvee Brut, Seneca Lakes
Alcohol 12%.  Disgorged February 2017.  A very light straw color.  Slight robust white fruit on the nose.  A moderate mousse with chalk flavors and grip exist in this refreshing wine.  Solid with a creamy mousse in the end.  ** Now but will last.

NV Etienne Calsac, L’echappee Belle, Champagne Extra Brut
Imported by Paris Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir.  Bottled May 2012.  Disgorged October 2015.  More yellow with a light straw color.  Aromatic with a toast note.  Robust bubbles move towards a yeasty mousse.  Medium bodied in the middle with some fat in the racy finish.  Tastes Mature.  *** Now.

2015 German Riesling

2015 Rita & Rudolf Trossen, Lay Pur’us, Riesling, Mosel
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  This wine is 100% Riesling fermented in wooden tanks with indigenous yeasts over a period of 8 months.  Aged for 8 months.  No additions.  Alcohol 12%.  A honey tinged gold color.  Some sweetness on the nose.  Surprisingly sour in the mouth with apple orchard flavors before becoming quite dry with a streak of acidity.  Reminds me of a lambic. Weird. * Now.

2015 Eva Fricke, Kiedricher Riesling Trocken, Rheingau
Imported by Bonhomie Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  A pale straw with yellow color.  Some petrol on the nose.  In the mouth this is lively yet there is ripe fruit from the start.  Good texture and tannins on the gums.  Good wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Schäfer-Fröchlich, Vulkangestein Riesling trocken, Nahe
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from vines on volcanic soils in and around Schlossbockelheim.  Alcohol 12%.  A very light straw white color.  Grapefruit and peach fruit on the nose.  In the mouth this is a beautiful wine with crisp acidity and floral accented fruit.  It fleshes out with warmth showing a juicy fruit style and some fat.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Wagner Stempel, Siefersheim Riesling vom Porphyr, Rheinhessen
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A razor sharp wine with tense acidity.  There is a chalk undertone matching the citrus pithe left on the gums.  There is a lot of presence with this wine which finally shows more fruit in the end mixing with a petrol note and an interesting, garrigue-like flavor.  *** Now – 2033.

2015 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 11%.  An interesting wine.  Powerful in the start but in the middle, dried florals, lemon citrus fruit, and stones.  The finish is perfumed and the aftertaste leaves great presence.  Nice wine.  **** Now – 2028.

2015 Dr. Nägler, Rüdesheim Bischofsberg Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Rheingau
Imported by Winesellers.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Modest texture with a fruitier start, ripe middle, and simple finish.  A bit too simple.  ** Now.

2015 Weiser-Kunsteler, Trabener Gaispfad Riesling Kabinett trocken, Mosel
Imported by Vom Boden.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Almost piercing acidity with hints of sweet tea flavor.  The watering acidity lasts through the end where there is clearly defined flavor of black tea and lemon citrus.  ** Now but will last for ages.

2015 A. J. Adam, in der sängerei Riesling feinherb, Mosel
Imported by Skurnik Wines.  Alcohol 10.5%.  Aromatic.  Very ripe fruit in the mouth soon takes on acidity and flint.  This is hands down an attractive combination of fruit, stone, texture, and acidity.  Drink well right now.  **** Now – 2023.

2015 Keller, Riesling von der Fels, Rheinhessen
Imported by Petit Pois Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Close knit with fine texture and certainly tension from the acidity.  Stones and a drier nature come out by the middle with flavors of white and yellow, fruit then eventually baking spices.  Needs some time. *** 2020-2030.

A pair of Ulysse Collin Champagne

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Roises, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged March 2014.  Gentle fruit on the nose with some earth.  In the mouth are berries and already a good amount of complexity.  So drinkable.  **** Now why wait?

NV Ulysse Collin, Les Pierrieres, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Lot No. 10. Disgorged November 2014.  Berry like with a gentle yeast flavor and firm bubbles.  Drier with fine, ethereal and powdery fruit. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 German Riesling Spätlese

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe black capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  A green of green-yellow straw.  A fresh start with vibrant acidity throughout along with some residual sugar sweetness.  It becomes dry and chalky in the finish where it ends with good effect.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe gold capsule
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International.  Alcohol 7.5%.  Gold with a hint of green. Richer with flavors of yellow, honied fruit.  Not the same level of acidity but the fruit is more complex, the honied sweetness is attractive, and there is more density. *** Now – 2023.

2008 Müller-Catoir, Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spätlese
D. Sokolin Co. Imported by Wine Cellars.  Alcohol 9.5%.  The most golden of the trio.  Petrol on the nose with seductive flavors of honey and baking spices.  The aftertaste leaves a note of honey. **** Now.

One red wine

2005 Lillian, California Syrah
Alcohol 15.6%.  Inky and racy, a wine turned up to 110%. Hard to drink and not my style. * Now but will last.

Dessert

1988 von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 375 mL
Imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7.5%.  Long in the tooth. Not Rated.

Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 2 Barbera

This is the second post about the Old Italian Wine tasting.  This grouping focuses in on Barbera, in part due to an interesting tasting of Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013 held last summer.

Barbera

These wines proved to be of rather miserable performance with only two out of six Italians Barbera wines being of any interest.  Of these two, the nose of the 1978 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera d’Alba is deep and consistently attractive.  In fine shape it is a fresh bottle with more acidity than the aromas lead on to.  I only wish the flavors were as complex as the aromas.  Acidity is also present in the 1970 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti Superiore.  It is, by far, the lightest in color of the 1970, 1964, and 1961 Scarpa trio.  The color difference is so remarkable that either some issue with the 1964 and 1961 bottles, perhaps some VA, fixed the color or winemaking changed in the late 1960s.  In the end, the 1970 takes on some sweetness which balances out some of the acidity.

1978 Franco-Fiorina, Barbera d’Alba
Founded in 1925, this wine was made from purchased fruit as they owned no vineyard at the time.  They did not make any single-vineyard wines so this would have been a blend from multiple areas.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Strong aromas of volatile acidity. It is possible to find some core of fruit in the middle but the wine is undrinkable. Not Rated.

Mystery Wine – 1977 Sebastiani Vineyards, Prioprietor’s Reserve Barbera, Northern California
Alcohol 12.6%. A light to medium bricking color. Smells like redwood or some different wood with sweet fruit and just a touch of V.A. Similarly sweet flavors at the start, modest body, and modest acidity. Second time tasted and I believe it was never that complex to begin with. *(*) Now.

1978 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera d’Alba
Prunotto was founded in 1904 and purchasing all of their grapes at the time of this vintage.  It is possible this wine was aged in chestnut and Slavonian oak.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. A deep nose of sweet old aromas, and mature red fruit. Good structure with fresh acidity. Actually, more acidity than I expected. The best so far. **(*) Now.

1964 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera Riserva Cru Pian Romualdo
Prunotto only designated the cru of a wine when they felt the vintage warranted it.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Smells of must and menthol. Undrinkable.  Not Rated.

1970 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
Scarpa was founded in 1870.  Imported by T. Elenteny. The lightest of the Scarpa trio by far. A little stinky on the nose but it cleans up. In the mouth, there is initially red fruit followed by a short finish with acidic kick at the end. With a bit of air some sweetness develops with a touch too much citric acidity. Good persistence of flavor. **(*) Now.

1964 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Very dark, the darkest. Cheese aromas on the nose and some old-school flavors like the Sebastiani. But then it cracks up becoming undrinkable. Not Rated.

1961 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Almost as dark as the 1964. The nose is clearly of grass and V.A. A good acidic crunch at first then the wine becomes too high-toned with red flavors. * Now.

Mostly 1970s Californian red wines

The Memorial Day weekend kicked off with several wines from the 1970s tasted over at Lou’s house.  After a sweeter than expected start with the fully mature 1998 Domaines Schlumberger, Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Kitterle four of us ventured down to his tasting room.  The fills on 1970 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien and 1975 Chateau Branaire, Saint-Julien, both from less than ideal storage, had decreased since purchase so were quickly dispatched as bad bottles.  Our first red was a good intro, not too old, rather it was quite young.  The 1993 Glen Carlou, Grand Classique Reserve, Paarl is a modest wine which may be drunk for a few more years.  Think clean and tart flavors with just a hint of earth.

We then moved on to a quartet of old Californian wine.  Two of the bottles proved undrinkable or not worth drinking.  The 1974 Woodside Vineyards, La Questa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains had some stink and certainly plenty of power.  I actually thought it would blow off and improve but instead it fell apart.  Shame as this is an historic wine.  The 1976 The Firestone Vineyard, Red Wine, Santa Ynez Valley represents the second vintage of this winery.  The winery was still under construction at the time of harvest and it was not anticipated to be until 1980 that operations would normalize.  Sadly the 1976 vintage suffered from heavy rains and it is evident in the wine.  This bottle is drinkable but simple, soft, and monolithic.

The final two bottles provided plenty of satisfaction.  The 1974 Arroyo Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County is all about cranberry fruit, crisp acidity, and an animale note.  It is clearly of a different winemaking style and I enjoyed it for that.  The final bottle of 1974 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is a very good wine from, incredibly, an inaugural vintage.  The key is that Roy Raymond Sr worked for decades at Beringer, even marrying into the family.  Both his long experience in the industry and the practice of discarding substandard bottlings are evident in this wine.  There is plenty of good, deep fruit, and ample body.  It is also more alcoholic than the other wines tried.  In any event, a very fine end to the evening.

1998 Domaines Schlumberger, Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Kitterle
A rich and honied start morphs to stone flavors in the middle then lychee by the finish.  This wine has a good amount of residual sugar but also dense texture backed by acidity in the finish.  Gentle in the finish.  **(*) Now.

1993 Glen Carlou, Grand Classique Reserve, Paarl
This wine is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 16% Cabernet Franc matured in French oak barrels.  Imported by The Hess Collection. Alcohol 13.2%.  Tart and clean flavors of cranberry red fruit are followed by good tannic structure with a fresh finish.  A bit more complexity comes from an earthy undertone.  This should drink well for several more years.  **(*) Now – 2023.

1974 Woodside Vineyards, La Questa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains
Founded in 1963 by Bob Mullen, the fruit for this wine was sourced from La Questa vines first planted by Emmet Rixford in 1884 These old vines are purported to come from cuttings brought from Chateau Margaux.  In the 1940s Martin Ray propagated vines at Mt. Eden which were eventually planted by Ridge at Monte Bello.  Alcohol 12%.  Bright and volatile aromas of stinky feet.  There are powerful flavors backed by citric tannins but instead of improving it quickly falls apart then becomes weird. Past.

1976 The Firestone Vineyard, Red Wine, Santa Ynez Valley
The 2850 acre property was originally a beef-cattle ranch which was acquired by the Firestone family in 1972.  The winery was run by Brooks Firestone, son of the former Ambassador to Belgium, and grandson to the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.   Some 345 acres were aside for premium varieties and in 1973 they were planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer.  The first crush was with the 1975 vintage which was the first commercial level achievement in this area.  The fermentation tanks were in place for this inaugural vintage but the winery was still under construction in 1978.  This 1976 vintage was troubled by heavy rains. Could this be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot???  Alcohol 12.5%.  A soft, monolithic wine with simple flavors of cherry cola that show more advancement as coffee and caramel note mix in.  There is watering acidity but this is simple wine.  * Past.

1974 Arroyo Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County
Bandiera Winery was founded in 1937 by Emilio Bandiera.  This was largely a bulk winery until new owners sold wine under the Arroyo Sonoma label amongst others.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This builds ripe, tart fruit that has plenty of crisp flavor and crisp acidity.  Cranberry notes mix with the tannins and so does an animale note.  *** Now but will last.

1974 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Roy Raymond Sr. worked for Beringer beginning in 1933, eventually marrying Jacob Berginger’s granddaughter Martha Jane Beringer.  In the early 1970s the Raymond family bought 90 acres south of St Helena and in 1974 opened their new winery.  Early bottlings were discarded if they did not meet the family’s standards.  Alcohol 13.7%.  Good fruit and deep flavors abound in this wine.  It reveals focused and bright notes of blue fruit with some coffee.  Has body and staying power.  A treat to drink.  **** Now – 2028.

A few cheapies with Lou

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

With jam-packed work and personal calendars it is hard for Lou and I to meet up.  We carved out a few hours the other day to sit at the peninsula and drink several inexpensive wines.  The 2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza was expectedly my favorite of the red wines.  After drinking a bottle in Seattle I brought one back to share with Lou and Jenn.  This bottle was more youthful than the first with a good balance between texture, fruit, green pepper, and minerals.  It is a good, old-school drink.  The 1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany is an inexpensive wine from a great vintage.  The vintage expresses itself through the ripe black fruit with the age coming in through leather and wood notes.  It is fully mature with some roast earth marking it as on the down slope.  Finally, the bottle of 1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon was surprisingly marked on the back label as “Mevushal 89 °C” meaning it is a Kosher wine.  Unfortunately, it was exposed to 192 °F  in being made Kosher which meant it was doomed in the glass.

2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza – $26
Imported by SWG Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented then aged in concrete for 12 months then aged a further 12 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  A gentle ripeness of black fruit mixes with an appropriate amount of an herbal/green pepper component.  The texture is slightly grainy with mid palate weight and a round, mineral-like finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany
Imported by Olinger Distributing Co. This wine is 100% Sangiovese. Alcohol 12.5%.  A woodsy wine that is fresh and crisp, beginning with up-front ripeness but finishing dry.  There are hard cherry flavors, focused weight, wood, and dried leather in the finish.  It is fully developed with a little roast end in the end from age.  It does not fall apart in the glass.  *** Now.

1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon
Imported by the Royal Wine Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Mevushal 89 °C.  Brown, cooked, gross! Not Rated.

Bastardo & Moscatel: The Tasting 1927 – 1830

January 20, 2018 Leave a comment

On April 22, 2017, I attended my third amazing Madeira event Bastardo & Moscatel – The Tasting in New York City. This was the sixth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port).

Unlike the previous two events I have attended, I did not write an article for the tasting booklet.  Bastardo and Moscatel were produced in such small quantities that I have yet to come across references in the correspondence of our Founding Fathers, historic newspaper advertisements, and even 19th century auction catalogs. For this post I explore the history behind the Bastardo we tasted.

Noel Cossart writes that even before phylloxera the production of Bastardo was so small that it was not kept separate, instead it was pressed with other grapes.  Cossart Gordon typically pressed their Bastardo and some other varieties with Verdelho.  They did replenish their 1844 Camara de Lobos Solera with Bastardo according to Henry Vizetelly.  So scare are descriptions that the 1970 advertisement by Sherry-Lehmann for 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo is the earliest I know of in an American paper.

The rarity of Bastardo is evidenced by Mannie Berk’s determination that the only pre-World War II vintages are 1830, 1836, 1858, 1870, 1875, 1876, and 1927.  As far as post-War vintages, it became extinct until Ricardo Freitas convinced a farmer to plant a small vineyard in 2004.  Today there is just over 1 hectare of Bastardo planted on the island.  Bastardo has always been scarce and bottlings of it even more so.

It is incredible then that we sat down to 12 different bottles of Bastardo at the tasting.  It might even seem impossible that of these selections, nine bottles were organized into three single-vintage flights: 1927, 1875, and 1870.  These groupings become understandable if the wines originally came from the same source, i.e. single pipes of each vintage.  Thus the important task of the tasting was to ascertain if each flight originated from a mother wine.

There have been three commercial releases of 1927 Bastardo and we tasted all three: the D’Oliveira, Leacock, and Blandy.  There is a fourth known Bastardo, the two casks sitting at Henriques & Henriques but it has not been released for sale and Mannie Berk was unable to obtain a sample for our tasting.  We know that the D’Oliveira came from Adegas do Terreão which they purchased in 2002 including this Bastardo in barrel.  Of the five known wines from this vintage there are at most four different sources.

For the 1927 and 1875 vintages I feel reasonably certain that two wines in each flight came from the same source.  The 1927 Leacock, Bastardo and 1927 Blandy’s, Bastardo Demijohn Selection I found similar.  The Blandy was recently bottled from demijohn and the Leacock was in bottle much longer given the dusty nose.  Despite differences in bottle age, both wines still share a pungent flavor that is remarkably similar as is the acidity.  This similarity narrows down the potential sources to three.  Without tasting the 1927 Henriques & Henriques I cannot specify further.

I found another strong commonality with the 1875 Cossart Gordon, Bastardo and 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo which both show a similar copper color and bear a citrus flavor.

The comparisons fall apart with the weaker 1870 vintage.  The bottle of 1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo is fully mature, the 1870 Unknown, Bastardo is round, sweet, old and the  1870 Favila, Bastardo fresh, floral, and elegant.

Phylloxera

Physical map of the Island of Madeira. London : E. Standford, [1856]. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich via Old Maps Online.

The answer as to why I could find commonality with the 1927 and 1875 vintages and not the 1870 might have to do with the spread of phylloxera during the 1870s.  Phylloxera arrived on the island in 1872.  It took over a decade for its spread to be largely contained.  Over the first three years it was devastating to a few particular areas, significantly impacting the diversity of vineyards on the south side of the island.  If Bastardo was grown in vineyards throughout this side, phylloxera would have the effect of reducing the number of separate Bastardo vineyards thus increasing the chance that later vintages came from the same source.

The scarcity of Bastardo even prior to the arrival of phylloxera means we do not have a clear picture on where it was grown.  However, contemporary sources reveal there are at least two areas where Bastardo was grown during the 1870s.  Those are Camara de Lobos and Sao Martinho.   According to Noel Cossart, the 1870 Avery’s Bastardo came from Henriques’s Camara de Lobos vineyard.  He also writes of Cossart Gordon having an 1875 and 1876 Bastardo as coming from the Doria family vineyard Quinta do Salao at Camara de Lobos.  According to Ricardo Freitas, the 1870 Favilia Bastardo came from Sao Martinho as the wine belonged to Manuel Jose Vieira who had substantial vineyards in that area.

There are no detailed maps or timelines regarding the spread of phylloxera on Madeira.  We can form a general understanding on the impact on these two regions by reviewing O Archivo Rural Jornal de Agricultura (1876), Victor Fatio’s Etat de la question phylloxérique en Europe en 1877, Henry Vizetelly’s Facts about Port and Madeira (1878), Francisco d’Almeida Brito’s Le phylloxera et autres epiphyties de la vigne en Portugal (1884),  Alfredo de Villanova de Vasconcellos Correia de Barros’ Relatorio ácerca dos serviços phylloxericos em 1887 (1887), and Dwight Morrow Jr.’s Phylloxera in Portugal (1973).

Phylloxera was first introduced to the island in 1872.  The importation of vines through the port of Funchal was regarded as the source.  Curiously enough, the phylloxera first bypassed nearby Sao Martinho, instead showing up in the revered vineyards of Camara de Lobos.  This was the first area affected and it was in serious state through 1875 and 1876.  At the time of Henry Vizetelly’s visit in 1877, phylloxera had destroyed nearly all of the vineyards in Camara de Lobos.  The production ranged from 8,000 pipes in 1871 to 300 pipes in 1877 with an estimated 100 pipes for 1878.  The region was considered completely destroyed by 1887.

The vineyards of Sao Martinho were only slightly affected in 1876 and 1877.  This could be due to the orientation or generally higher elevation.  Sao Martinho would see significant devastation by 1887 but for the period of our interest it was a viable source for fruit.

1875 Cossart Gordon and Shortridge-Lawton

Cossart Gordon produced an 1875 and 1876 Bastardo from Camara de Lobos during the most devastating period for the region.  It seems counterintuitive at first but then their vineyard was located at Quinta do Salao in Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  The phylloxera first affected vines at lower altitudes of Camara de Lobos.  The unaffected vines were located at several thousand feet in elevation in the Estreito parish.  Henry Vizetelly writes that this area was untouched as of 1877 which explains why Cossart Gordon could produce the 1875 Bastardo that we tasted.

As for the Shortridge-Lawton, we can infer its history due to the Madeira Wine Association (MWA).  The MWA was founded by Blandy’s and Leacock in 1925 with Cossart-Gordon joining in 1953.  Shortridge-Lawton joined as well eventually becoming just a brand.  Our bottle of 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo is labeled as being selected for Sherry-Lehman by the MWA during the 1970s.  The MWA pooled wine from its various members so it is reasonable that the Shortridge-Lawton is really the same as Cossart-Gordon’s Bastardo from Estreito de Camara de Lobos.

1875 and 1870 Blandy’s

While the number of existing vineyard sites reduced from the 1870 to the 1875 vintage, the Cossart Gordon vineyard in Estreito de Camara de Lobos and Vieira’s vineyard in Sao Martinho survived for the 1875 vintage.  I doubt these are the sources for our bottles of Blandy’s based on taste and history.  I found both wines savory and different from the other wines I tasted.

The origins of the 1875 and 1870 Blandy’s Bastardo at first appear somewhat of a mystery. Noel Cossart writes that the 1870 Avery’s Bastardo came from the Henriques Camara de Lobos vineyard.  The Henriques family owned vineyards at the lower elevation Pico da Torre in Camara de Lobos as well at the higher elevation of Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  If Noel Cossart is being specific then the 1870 Avery’s came from Pica da Torre which would have been destroyed by the 1875 vintage.

Alex Liddell writes in Madeira (1998) that the 1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo is originally from the cellars of Padre Henriques, vicar of Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  It is possible that Blandy’s grew Bastardo at both Estreito and Pico da Torre.  However, given its scarcity I suspect they would have grown Bastardo just at Estreito.  This leads me to believe that the 1870 Avery’s is from Henrique’s Estreito vineyard just like the 1870 Blandy’s.  If the 1875 Blandy’s Bastardo came from Henriques as well then it had to come from Estreito and not Pico da Torre because it was destroyed by phylloxera by the 1875 vintage.

Conclusion

That I found commonality between wines from the 1875 vintage and not the 1870 vintage is due to our sample size.  At first I thought Bastardo vineyards which existed in 1870 were destroyed by 1875.  However, Bastardo was grown at higher-elevations on the south-side of Madeira.  These areas remained untouched for both the 1870 and 1875 vintages.    The known Bastardo vineyards for these vintages are Cossart Gordon’s Doria family vineyard Quinta do Salao at Estreito de Camara de Lobos, Padre Henriques’ vineyard at Estreito de Camara de Lobos, and Manuel Jose Viera family vineyard at Sao Martinho.  This of course leaves one last wine, the 1870 Unknown, Bastardo.  While it tasted like no other wine, I doubt it is pure Bastardo so I cannot confirm a fourth source.  Please find my tasting notes below.

Bastardo Tasting Notes

1927 D’Oliveira, Bastardo
Bottled from cask in 2014. The lightest color of the trio of 1927s. A pungent nose that is balsamic then with air enjoyable aromas of sweet confection and brown sugar. This liquidy, puckering, and salivating wine had a drier finish. The most gentle of the three, there is a shorter finish followed by a gentle wave of flavor in the aftertaste. ***.

1927 Leacock, Bastardo
This is the darkest of the trio with more brown hints. The low-lying musk mixes with old dusty books then brown sugar. The nose likely affected by a long time in bottle. There is a sweeter and rounder entry with wood box flavors and a fine vein of acidity lurking. The pungency returns in the end as does some searing acidity. I enjoy the integration of wood flavors. ***(*).

1927 Blandy, Bastardo Demijohn Selection
Bottled from demijohn in 2013. Francisco Albuquerque states this came from the best 40-50 liters owned by the family. This is the most aromatic of the trio with pungent note, aromatic musk, and an attractive animale quality. The wine is sweet as well as immediately pungent with round flavors, a spicy middle, and compelling liveliness on the tongue. The flavors stand out on the tongue moving to a drier finish that is fresh and powerful with citric hints, and wraps up both savory and saline. With additional air this pungent wine retains its grip in the mouth and persistent aftertaste. ****.

1875 Cossart Gordon, Bastardo
A moderate level of aromas that are deep with supporting pungency. There is a savory start on the tongue tip before the wine builds both pungency and power that is soon joined by searing acidity. The body has weight up front, the finish is dry but some sweetness clings to the gums in the aftertaste. Additional complexity comes from lemon citrus and bitters. This is more powerful than the Shortridge & Lawton. ****.

1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo
One of 120 bottles reserved for Sherry-Lehman of New York. This nose is subtle and gentle. The watering start brings a bit of a separate sweet aspect. There is weight to the wine as well though more noticeable up front. At first it is less balanced in the finish with residual sugar in the aftertaste but upon revisiting, it comes together well. It mixes with orange and lemon citrus with bitters. ****.

1875 Blandy’s, Bastardo
Bottled 7 of 180. There is, perhaps, a hint of citrus on the nose. The savory, dense powerful start moves on to a mature, red-wine like middle with old wood flavors. There is body with plenty of grip in the savory, citrus coating finish. **.

1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo
The nose is low-lying with sweet musk aromas. The round entry is not assertive, rather savory with fine complex flavors that become gentler as the wine progresses ultimately fading away in the aftertaste. There is a tobacco note as well. This is certainly less vigorous than the 1875s. ***.

1870 Unknown, Bastardo
This is the darkest of the trio of 1870s, in fact, almost cola like. The nose is stinky. In the mouth this taste of sweet, old, poor pruned clunky fruit which lacks acidity to support it. The round, sweet, and savory wine tastes past prime which is ultimately too distracting. What is this? Poor.

1870 Favila, Bastardo
The reddest and brownest of the trio. There is a minty, fresh hint to the nose with a delicacy that marks it completely different than all other wines. The flavors are sweeter and rounded with fresh, floral tea flavors woven throughout. There is fine balance to this elegant wine. ***.

1858 Leacock, Lomelino, Bastardo
Rebottled 1900. The nose offers subtle tobacco and subtle fruit. The flavors are tobacco infused with low-lying custard sweetness and eventually some bitterness. There is a thick, mature wine like middle before the bitter finish of licorice and tobacco. Perhaps musty in the aftertaste. **.

1836 Leacock, Lomelino, Bastardo
Rebottled 1926. The nose offers fine wood notes and perhaps licorice. In the mouth this is a fine and elegant wine with a zip of acidity supporting the rounded body. This is ultimately a bit sweeter in flavor than acidic. It is certainly an older wine but it still sports a bit of racy character. ***.

1830 Welsh Bros, Bastardo
There is a pungency to the nose that the other wines do not have. The nose is strong and decent but on revisiting it is smelly. This is a salty wine with less body and drier than the nose suggests. All of the power is up front, the wine is not balanced. It is dry, bitter, and the alcohol is noticeable. **.

Moscatel Tasting Notes

1900 D’Oliveira, Moscatel
This wine is very dark and the nose is sweaty and pungent. It is round, sweet, and racy in the mouth. The residual sugar is certainly present up front and in the aftertaste. A wood note adds complexity. There is power throughout with the wine sharpening up in the finish as more acidity is brought forth. ***.

1900 Leacock, Moscatel
Rather dark. The nose is subtle compared to the D’Oliveira but the pungency does come out. There is plenty of sweet such that you can practically feel it. The start is higher-toned with some lift from acidity. A bit of tea and pungency add complexity. ***.

1900 Avery’s, Moscatel
This is an oak color with a touch fruitier nose. This is lively from the start with flavors of black, sweet tea and ripe texture. It does not have the level of sweetness that the D’Oliveira and Leacock posses. It is an interesting old-school type of wine. **.

1890 Barrous e Sousa, Moscatel
In bottle for 60 years. A little stinky. This is thick with integrated sweetness and texture. There is an interesting, odd flavor in this weighty wine that drapes over the tongue. Dried fruit develops in the soft middle with textured sugar in the finish. There is both less sweetness and acidity but the wine is balanced. ***.

1875 D’Oliveira, Moscatel
Bottled in the 1970s. This is the darkest along with the 1870 Blandys. There is less sugar up front but the balanced start conveys sweetness and pungency. There is an attractive mineral, racy vein as the wine reveals density and tea flavors. It is concentrated but not too much. ***(*).

1870 Manuel Jose Vieira, Moscatel, Camara de Lobos
This is the lightest color. Wow, this is an acidity driven with minimal sugar, old perfume, and thin body. It is old-school but volatile. *.

1870 Blandy’s, Moscatel
The sweetness comes from textured brown sugar. The wine has power and some searing acidity near the finish but the residual sugar drapes over the acidity. In the end this is satisfying with good flavor from the baking spices. **.

1856 Barbeito, Moscatel
A medium color compared to the others. This is pungent and acidity driven like a non-Moscatel Madeira. The acidity builds and is persistent but not offending like the 1870 Vieira. The body has glycerin. The driest wine of the flight. Is it pure Moscatel? ***(*).

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.