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Five Bottles of Beaujolais: Chignard, Dutraive, and Pignard

It was Lou who first mentioned the wines of Jean-Louis Dutraive.  As soon as the bottles arrived in DC we planned to taste them along with a few other bottles. The 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie is excellent.  A unique nose followed by electric flavors of delicate fruit and minerals.  It is unique in my limited experience with Beaujolais.  Sadly, two bottles of 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie proved to be yeasty, undrinkable messes.  So avoid the Carolon but do buy Le Pied de la Rue.  There is a bit of a delicacy which makes me think it is best drunk within a few years.

The 2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon is my second favorite wine of our evening.  It is a balanced, elegant wine of beauty.  It even takes on a vintage perfume note that makes it stand apart.  The 2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie is bright and a touch herbaceous, evocative of a cooler site.  It is solid but I prefer a bit more fruit material in my wine.  We finished with a bottle of 2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay that had been opened three days prior.  It still tasted of firm, dense black fruit with some wood.  I imagine this wine will easily reach ten years of age at which point it might open up.

In the end, our five bottles spanned a range of qualities but I am happy.  I now know to look out for more wines from Dutraive and Pignard.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie – $40
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40-70 year old vines, fermented in concrete then aged seven months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Aromatic. Bright acidity, almost electric, with fine grained yet ripe structure on the gums supports mineral flavors that are almost blue and black in fruit. Beautiful, delicate fruit flavors from pure berries. With air the beauty remains but the berry notes take on density. The finish is lifted with just a touch of yeast followed by a long aftertaste. **** Now – 2021.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12.5%. A cloudy, pale cranberry color. At first ,spritz on the tongue with articulate flavors of berries and some roundness in the mouth. But within two hours an undrinkable yeasty, mess. A second bottle was clear in the glass but soon tasted of popcorn and Pilsner. Not Rated.

2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay that was aged in oak for one year. Alcohol 12.5%. Deeper fruit and olive aromas. In the mouth is a good balance between the fruit, structure, and acidity such that is comes across as an elegant, well-balanced wine. There is a beauty that I prefer over the Regnie. With air, vintage perfume develops on the nose. In the mouth it becomes chiseled with grapey flavor and some ripeness in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2024.

2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines.  Alcohol 12%. The brighter red fruit aromas are more herbaceous and a touch dusty. In the mouth this is a bright wine, almost tart, with juicy acidity and fine pithe tannins in the finish. It tastes of cooler site. Attractive in a way but should be drunk soon. *** Now.

2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel then raised for 13 months in old oak foudres.  Alcohol 12.5%. Firm in the mouth with focused black fruit and touch of juicy acidity. It comes across as a young wine, still structured, and does not offer up much until three days after opening. There is some dense, ripe fruit in there, and a firm wood note. I do not see it improving in flavor but imagine it will live a long time. **(*) 2021 – 2029.

A Blind Janasse Vertical: 1999-2016

December 30, 2018 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I tasted through twelve wines blind. That they turned out to be all largely excellent was of no surprise for Roland was the host. The first two wines clearly (and with great comfort) pointed to the Southern Rhone with a level of complexity that indicated Chateauneuf du Pape. While a couple of people narrowed it down to a Janasse vertical by the third wine, I could not achieve such specificity by the final wine. I did, however, achieve confusion for amongst the chronological ordering, waves of similar and dissimilar wines kept me guessing. That we tasted a vertical of three cuvees, Tradition, Chaupin, and Vieilles Vignes from 1999 through 2016 made perfect sense in the end.

The Tradition is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre fermented in tank then aged in foudre and a small proportion of new oak barrels.  The Chaupin is pure Grenache sourced from 100+ year old vines.  It is fermented in tank then aged in foudre and various sized barrels.  The Vieilles Vignes is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and other varieties sourced from 60-110+ year old vines.  It is fermented in tank then aged for 18 months in different sized barrels.

I thought the eldest vintages were 1998 and 2000 but to find them as 1999 and 2003 is a good experience. There has been a loose thread over these various tastings that 2003 produced successful wines in the Rhone which are developing in a satisfying manner. A new thread on the dissatisfaction of the 2007 vintage has appeared.

For current drinking, I recommend the three oldest vintages of Vieilles Vignes.  Of this trio I preferred the 2003 followed by the 2005 and 1999.  The 2010s and 2012s are very good in general but it is the 2012 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes I would lay down for the future.  Not only does it smell great but it has the essential components of fruit, garrigue, and minerals.  If you cannot find that vintage the 2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is right on its heels.  And if you cannot find that vintage then the 2015 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is probably a safe bet.  I think it has great potential so check on it in 2-3 years.

While I have recommended the Vieilles Vignes wines in specific, the quality of all of the wines we tasted (except the 2007) was very high across the board.    It is one of the most satisfying tastings I have attended in recent memory.

1999 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
Medium garnet in color. Moderate mature aromas with more smoke than the 2003. In the mouth, this mature wine offers up leather, minerals, and structure. The wine is in good shape, showing more focus and structure. There is a sense of levity that matches the flavors which bear moderate ripe weight. Overall, an elegant wine of sweet, ripe fruit, wood block, leather, and structure. **** Now – 2025.

2003 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
Medium garnet. A touch of earthy cheese on the nose. Flavorful and rounder with noticeably more fruit. Clearly a riper vintage than the 1999 but still shows a similar level of maturity. The fruit comes through at the end where it grips the mouth. Tasty. **** Now – 2023.

2005 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
The younger color is matched by the youngest flavors of the first three wines. In the mouth it is dense with young blue fruit. It packs more in including an eventual mature note. It comes across as in mid-life. It is great now with weight and though a bit intense, I wonder how long it will last. **** Now – 2023.

2007 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin
Almost spritzy to start with blue fruit, plums, and lower acidity. Upon revisiting, clearly the weakest of all the wines tasted.  What’s going on here? * Drink up.

2009 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin
More berries on the nose and young in the mouth. There are berry flavors in the round start with ripe tannins and some fat soon coming out. It is a little tense with waves of mouthfilling ripe, spiced fruit and licorice. It has concentration for age. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin
A hint of meat on the nose. Coming into mid-life with pure blue fruit, it has all of the components for further development. Dense, though with less oomp than the 2009, it is a balanced, elegant wine with lovely, round sweet, weighted flavors. **** Now – 2025.

2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
A young ruby, black cherry color. A nose of berries and grapes. In the mouth it is rather youthful with ripe spices, fruit, and ripe tannins. In the first third of its life, it is lovely to revisit for the clear berry flavor. ****(*) Now – 2028.

2012 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape
An interesting nose of tobacco and red, berry fruit. Light and linear in the mouth, watering acidity and ripe tannins move into the drier finish. There is structure in the finish and the sense of dryness remains. *** Now – 2023.

2012 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin
An interesting nose of elegant red fruit. Excellent, with cooler flavors, fresh and floral. The redder fruit is pretty, balanced by grip and structure. It becomes younger with air. **** Now – 2030.

2012 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
A lovely nose. This wine packs it in with watering acidity, mineral, garrigue, and more black fruit. Youthful. ****(*) Now – 2033.

2015 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes
Grenache on the nose. In the mouth, this is young, ripe, and tense. Fresh acidity carries the primary and grapey flavors which are balanced. This has great potential, the weight of the black fruit and dry baking spices will carry it for some time. ***(**) 2021-2031.

2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape
Sweet, ripe fruit is cool and elegant. It oscillates in nature, clearly still primary. A lovely wine with power but it is not overdone. ***(*) 2021-2028.

An Array of German Wines

December 12, 2018 Leave a comment

My two plans for childcare did not materialize so I had less than the duration of a birthday party to taste through an untold number of German Rieslings. There was naturally Champagne and as we met up at Q by Peter Chang, a constantly refreshed supply of Sezchuan dishes. There were bags packed with bottles and even one guest brought an entire cooler of wine. I knew I would not taste through everything but I also knew I made the right decision to try.

Of the Riesling I managed to taste, there were many solid bottles with just a few duds.  Standouts include the 1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen which is the oldest wine of the evening.  It is in fine shape.  Lighter in weight, more floral and a fresher spectrum of flavors than the 1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen tasted a year ago.  An interesting comparison.  Both the 2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer and 2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel are spot on.  Both have energy from the acidity with the Adam richer and the Schaefer chalkier.  You might develop a preference but I love the difference.  Exciting wines to taste.  Finally, the 2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau is unctuous, mature, and racy.  I tasted this straight from the bottle right before I left and wished I could have drunk more.

Thanks to everyone for their generosity.  I know I missed several other wines but it was purely by accident.

Champagne

NV Bourgeois-Diaz, ‘RS, Champagne Rose de Saignee
Imported by Selection Massale. Batch RS14, Disgorged 21/11/17. A cranberry color. Fresh on the nose as if smelling from the vat. The cranberry juice aroma has hints of apple mulling spice. It eventually smells more like apple pie. In the mouth is piercing acidity, spiced flavors, and a very dry personality. Killer nose so the dryness is a bit of a surprise.  Of strong personality but not for everyone.  Drink now while the aromas are preserved.  ***(*) Now.

2008 Henriot, Champagne Brut Millésimé Rosé
Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 12%. A fine vein of bubbles, yet strong acidity and toast, with watering acidity. This is pleasantly chalky with a clean finish. A youthful vintage but is building ripe, bottle-aged flavors with good body. ***(*) Now – 2023.

1996 Dom Perignon, Champagne P2
Finely scented. Strong acidity carries a mature, dry note. Very dry, clean, and light in fruit so opting more towards mineral.  Fresh, capable of long life, and for my taste, in need of further age. ***(*) 2023-2038.

1996 Philipponnat, Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses
Fine stuff! Biscuit on the nose with fresh, crisp mouthfeel, with bottle-age flavors.  In mid-life. **** Now – 2028.

Riesling

1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines. Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 13%. The Don Stott Cellar. A light golden straw. Rounded body with flavors of green floral and tea convey the freshness of the bottle. A light to mid-weight wine it is supple with an old-school flavor and not quite leather finish. There is a gentle edge from nearly eight decades of age but in no way is this a challenge to drink.  Holds up well in the glass. **** Now but will last.

1961 Langenbach & Co, Zeller Schwarze Katz, Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by Milton S. Kronheim. Toast! Not Rated.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile, Alsace
Imported by Atherton Wine Imports. Alcohol 13%. A light straw color. Floral, greenhouse notes with some maturity. Very dry, tart and light with white fruit flavors on a razor edge. Elegant. *** Now – Whenever?

1981 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Sang Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 8%. A maturing edge with sour white berries, focus, and a bit of lively acidity. Not too interesting.  * Drink Up.

2012 Willi Schaefer, Himmelreich GG, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12%. Zip in the start with textured, white fruit, lemons, and a tooty-fruity flavored finish.  Not my favorite style.  *** Now – 2028.

2012 Thomas Haag, Schloss Lieser, Jufer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7%. A medium straw color. Mid-weight with ripe yellow flavors that drape over the tongue. The lower acidity seemingly adds more weight to the yellow fruit.  Good intensity of flavor but not the most verve.  *** Now – 2028. 

2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Shipped by J & H Selbach. A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 7.5%. A medium yellow gold color. Lovely. Textured acidity exists with ripe fruit in energetic balance. There is supple, seductive weight. Richer than the subsequent bottle of Willi Schaefer.  **** Now – 2038.

2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel
Imported by Wine Cellars. Lovely with even finer texture to the zippy acidity driven flavor. An attractive start becomes drier through the finish. A lovely wine, beautiful acidity, with chalky finish .**** Now – 2038

2006 Dönnhoff, Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by Julienne Importing. Unctuous, not as lively as it is honied with hints of tea spice and suggestions of ripe tannins on the gum. It is flavorful with a developing tart, citrus note. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2001 Dönnhoff, Norheimer Kirschkeck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Turning amber. Rounder and drier in the mouth with herbs, minerals, and honey. A long finish. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2005 Weingut Max Ferd. Richeter, Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. Black tea mixes with weighty flavors and moderate acidity. There is a mineral vein.  *** Now – 2023.

2007 Fritz Haag, Braunenberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Finely articulated acidity, sweet and soft, with just enough texture. The ripe fruit even takes on some stones. A good sweet wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2004 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Braunberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. A similar flavor profile and density as the Fritz Haag. It is almost oily and racy which I like very much. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2017 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Lars Carlberg Selection. Imported by Williams Corner Wine. Alcohol 7%. Very pale in color. An elegant, floral nose, delicate and fine. In the mouth delicate floral flavors. This is a clean wine with a fine acidic edge though slightly short in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau
Imported by Premier Cru. Alcohol 8%. Unctuous and mature with a sweet tea note, racy vein, and quickly building complexity.  Lovely.  **** Now – 2038.

Red

2005 La Pousse d’Or, Pommard 1er Cru Les Jarollieres
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Decanted into a metal jug which seems to have afflicted the wine.  Not Rated.

“How long will our reds last? I don’t know.”: 1978 Parducci, Merlot Special Bottling plus some table wine

December 11, 2018 1 comment

The label of the 1978 Parducci, Merlot Special Bottling, Mendocino County magnum was only slightly soiled. The fill was excellent and underneath the plastic capsule, the firmly seated cork was pristine. After double-decanting, to remove the sediment, the wine bore deep aromas proper for a good Californian wine from the 1970s.

Grapes have been grown in Mendocino County since the 19th century when there were a few dozen growers. Located north of Sonoma, the slow arrival of rail lines meant this was a region of smaller enterprises rather than ones on a commercial scale. During Prohibition grapes were grown for home winemaking in San Francisco and bootlegging on the East Coast. By 1938, the number of bonded wines hit eight with Parducci the largest of them all. Most of the Parducci wine was sold off to other major wineries but eventually a new generation sought to bottle under their own label during the wine boom. It is in 1973 that Nathan Chroman, writing for the Los Angeles Times, found Parducci was just beginning to establish their identity.

Like Robert Mondavi, John Parducci advocated unfined and unfiltered wine. He did differ from Mondavi in these early years by avoiding any contact with oak. Parducci also felt strongly about growing the best grapes for the site rather than what was in demand. Articles from the 1970s share a common theme of Parducci’s unique style, affordable price, and drinkable red wines. If there was preference for fresh, fruit flavored red wines, there was also an economic side to it. The French and Yugoslavian oak barrels were too expensive for the family. That is not to say no wood was used, the Cabernet was aged in tall, thin redwood vats.

It must be remembered that 1976 and 1977 were drought years in California. The 1978 vintage yielded large numbers of healthy, sugar-filled grapes. Excitement was widespread with John Parducci commenting on the new wines, “Some of the most fantastic wines California has ever seen.” The principal vineyards of Parducci were Talmage, Largo, and Home Ranch. This is not where the fruit came from for the 1978 Merlot Special Bottling. The back label states the “grapes were grown by small growers on the slopes of Mendocino County”.

In 1974, the Special Bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon sold for $7.99 per bottle in Washington, DC. That put this Special Bottling in the range of Chappellet and Clos du Val pricing.  The nose is generous and in Parducci style, the wine offers up berries, freshness, and levity.  The alcohol level is noticeably low.  Together these traits make it a highly drinkable wine.  In fact, the magnum drank very well for several hours at which time it started to fade. To answer the title question, this magnum lasted 40 years with ease.

I wish I could write more about the 1974 Foppiano Vineyards, Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County.  Founded in the 19th century, very little was written about it save short mention of the periodically medal-winning Cabernet Sauvignon.  William Rice of The Washington Post found the 1972 Foppiano , Zinfandel as “very fruity” and though pleasantly aromatic, it lacked in tannin.  Ours, though, was from a better vintage but my gut-feeling is that the regular 1974s are fading away which did not help this wine.  The flavors are beginning to turn with no supporting structure left.

We tried two other wines that night from California. The magnums of 1984 and 1985 Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Red were found in the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages. Priced at $3 each I had to try them for the historic note. A closer look at the label reveals these were made at the Woodbridge Winery. Created in 1979, the Woodbridge Winery was destined to produce large volumes of affordable, oak aged wines. A basic non-vintage table wine had been made at Mondavi since 1976 but quality had slipped.  The Woodbridge Winery was one of multiple prongs designed to improve the table wine quality.

The new Mondavi Red was primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Gamay, Petite Sirah, and Merlot aged in small oak barrels. Carignan, Thomson Seedless (!!!), and Columbard were largely jettisoned as they were considered in the territory of jug wine.  Mondavi believed in long aging in oak but $300 French oak barres were to expensive for use at Woodbridge. Instead, he “retired” his older French oak barrels used in his premium wines to Woodbridge.  He then employed American coopers to use American oak to form new barrels using the French method of charing rather than steaming. Unlike other inexpensive table wines these were new table wines based at Woodbridge winery were regarded as more complex and capable of some aging.

As for the wines, the 1984 was green, herbaceous and way past prime.  Not really surprising.  I was hoping to pull a rabbit out of a hat and the 1985 almost obliged. The nose was good but the flavors too herbaceous.  I suspect it would have drunk fine a decade ago.

1978 Parducci, Merlot Special Bottling, Mendocino County
Alcohol 12.5%.  Definitely a brick-brown color.  Deep, comforting aromas are evocative of the period.  In the mouth fresh acidity bearing mixed flavors of wood box, deep berries, and maturity.  A lighter bodied wine of moderate length it is fresh and very drinkable.  It fleshes out a bit with air becoming more saline.  It has good staying power.  *** Now but will last

1974 Foppiano Vineyards, Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Alcohol 12%.  The cork smelled balsamic but none of that transferred to the wine.  A slight hint of roast indicates its past prime.  In the mouth this is a fully mature wine, aging fruit is a touch sour but it remains supple.  A lighter style of Zinfandel that was likely elegant to begin with the structure entirely integrated.  *(*) Drink Up.

1984 Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Red
Alcohol 12%.  Green veggies and other herbaceous aromas.  An herbaceous edge to the bright and tart red fruit.  Short, simple, and not of interest. Past Prime.

1985 Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Red
Alcohol 12%.  Some depth to the nose, dark fruit, wood box, and spices.  A certain hint of that carries into the mouth but herbaceousness comes out as well.  In much better poise than the 1984. * Now but drink up.

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.