Tim’s latest Italian recommendations are a must-try so I feel I should pass them on to you. First is the impeccable 2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio. It is lively with the right amount of fruit, weight, and grip. In other words it is both flavorful and pleasing in the mouth. Little did I know that the 2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli is important in the history of Italian wine. This vintage is the latest in the series of Bordeaux blends which began with the 1951 vintage. Thus Loredan Gasparini made the first Italian Bordeaux blend. This bottle is developing mature notes but the core of the fruit and structural components still exist. There is a sense of tightness and resolve so drink it after double-decanting or better yet in a few years from now. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio – $19
Imported by Vineyard Brands. This wine is 100% Friulano that was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Alcohol 13.5%. There is a lively start of white fruit and nuts which is delivered in a round character. There are stone notes through the middle, a dry finish with a touch of grip, and a fresh aftertaste. Well articulated. *** Now – 2018.
2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec that was aged 18 months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There are focused, round and dense flavors of blue and black fruit couple with initial bottled aged notes. This maturity is more ethereal adding complexity throughout. An herbaceous note at the start moves on to lively, dry spices in the middle, and a suggestion of powdery, ripeness in the finish. With air the wine becomes more incensed and takes on a polished wood note. ***(*) Now – 2027.
This bottle of 2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands flat out surprised me. On the first night it is certainly light bodied, a bit thin on flavor, and somewhat frail. Though there is enough earthiness and tightness that I recorked the bottle. Over the course of the second night the wine transformed. Jenn succinctly described it as a wine of pepper on the nose and potpourri in the mouth. There is more though, it is a gentle wine that develops a moderate amount of body, appropriate ripeness, and never loses a sense of its volcanic origins. It is actually quite good and I would not be surprised if it is drinking really well by the end of the year. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands – $20
A Jose Pastor Selections imported by Llaurador Wines. This is a blend of high-altitude 70-120 year-old Listan Prieto with some Tintilla that was foot trodden, fermented in concrete and tubs with indigenous yeasts then aged 8 months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose smells of black and white pepper with some dried floral notes. In the mouth this light bodied wine begins with red fruit flavors, a little cranberry, with some ethereal ripeness by the finish. With extended air it develops more weight by the middle with a rather substantial amount of tartness, minerality, and ripe texture. More importantly the old-school potpourri flavor weave its way from start to finish. ***(*) Now – 2022.
I do not think I have ever tasted a Rhone wine solely from Valreas. The 2015 Domaine du Seminaire, Cote du Rhone Villages Valreas is a new wine in our area so of course I grabbed a bottle. This is a traditionally made wine, fermented in concrete with no use of oak. It is strong and forward with a grapey, floral personality. The liveliness is attractive, causing you to return for another taste. I imagine it might open up over the next year but it is a fun drink right now. Go get some! This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Domaine du Seminaire, Cote du Rhone Villages Valreas – $18
Imported by Martine’s wines. This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah that was fermented concrete. Alcohol 14%. The higher-toned grapey, floral nose makes way to similarly grapey, black fruit in the mouth. The wine has quite the strength, building intensity through the middle. This is balanced by almost lively acidity and fine texture. Flavors of baking spices and a tangy finish add to the complexity. This is an impressive, grapey wine. *** Now – 2022.
As happy as I am to continue drinking the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino I thought it best to get Tim’s advice on other wines from the region. He first recommended the affordable 2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino. This is a firm wine of black fruit that mixes in pleasing herbal notes. It could stand a few years of development to open up perhaps becoming elegant and focused. The 2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino is a step up in quality and price. The deep nose will excite you and the lively flavors will only add to the positive impression. I highly recommend you drink a few bottles over the next several years. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then raised for six months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 13.5%. This is a firm wine that remains focused with air. There is black fruit with dry herbal notes, polished wood, and an ethereal ripe finish. It remains tight with watering acidity. **(*) 2019-2024.
2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino – $26
Imported by Vine Street Imports. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 14%. The nose is deep and a touch pungent. The red and blue fruit quickly takes on polished wood notes before the brighter, red middle. There is fine acidity and grip in the end. With air this becomes a lively wine with controlled ripe fruit, a dry and bright middle, stone accented finish, and wood tannin aftertaste. Delicate floral notes even come out. This has strong development potential over the short-term. *** Now – 2026.
Domaine Palon is a small estate located in Gigondas. From 17 acres in Gigondas and 12 acres in Vacqueyras the family has produced wine for four generations. However, it was not until 2003 that the wine was first bottled under the family name. The 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras is a strong value. It is one of those wines enjoyable in its vigorous, powerful youth yet should develop and open up over the next few years. With the cold weather in our forecast I would stock up on a few bottles this weekend. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras – $20
Imported by Misa Imports. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%. This is a black fruited, floral and mineral wine with a very focused core of ripe fruit. It ripples with power and though it evolves with air to become a tasty wine of youthful vigor the balanced acidity and textured tannins will see it develop over the next couple of years. ***(*) Now – 2027.
Bodegas Beronia was founded in 1973. My particular bottle of 1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva was vintaged the same year González Byass bought the winery. The estate is famous for their barrels made from American oak staves and French oak heads. The fruit for this wine was sourced entirely from Rioja Alta, a higher altitude region that produces brighter and lighter wines. The nose on this wine reflects its age with mature notes that remains aromatic for hours. In the mouth you get a sense or origin for this is a fully mature, bright wine with texture from the remaining structure. I recommend drinking it now but it should hold its current state for years to come. Given the release price for the current vintage, this vintage only costs an extra $1 per year of age. It is available at The Rare Wine Co.
1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva – $50
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. It is a clear, light garnet color. There are good aromas of modestly sweet fruit, vanilla, and a sweaty note. In the mouth this is fully mature with a very fine texture from the structure. It is a gentle wine with moderate body, watering acidity, and a generally bright and slightly tart profile. It remains aromatic. *** Now but will last.
A few weeks back I was lucky to be a guest when Sotiris hosted his tasting group. We tasted seven wines blind of which one was a ringer. Now I could not peg that we were tasting 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux but the 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley did stick out for it is certainly different. Though the flavor is good, the structure is rather intense at this point so I suggest cellaring it for years to come.
The 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien is a particularly fine wine which you may drink now and over the coming years. From the nose to the flavor and mouth feel I could not help but to enjoy it. I thought the 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe showed well too. The nose demonstrates how it is entering a mature phase but the power and acidity will see this through for some time. As for the other bottles, the 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion is a wine to drink now whereas the 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien needs time to come into its own. Our bottle of 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves was sadly musty but the 2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage was spot on. This group loves Rhone wines so what a treat to finish up with Chave. This is a fine, impeccably balanced wine that is still very young in flavor but the saline and fat notes hint at future complexity.
1) 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion
Imported by Wine Markets Intl. Alcohol 13%. A garnet hint in the glass. There are hints of maturity on the nose, ripe fruit, minerals, and Kirsch. The mature ripe start soon brings minerals but is not as expansive as I expected. There is a prominent vein of acidity, some herbaceous flavors, floral middle then less apparent acidity and spices in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2022.
2) 2000 Chateau Magdelaine, St-Emilion
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines. Alcohol 13%. The nose is more subtle. This is a redder wine with fuzzy cranberry and red berry flavors. It has a core of sweet fruit in the middle then takes on more body, grip, and an herbaceous bit. *** Now – 2022.
3) 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators. Alcohol 13%. This is a dark violet garnet color with an elegant nose. There is power in the mouth which builds until the very finely textured flavors fill the mouth. It also coats the mouth with structure. Despite the strength this is an elegant wine with red fruit, minerals, and quite the aftertaste. **** Now – 2027.
4) 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%. There is a eucalyptus start followed by a red fruit burst with acidity. The flavor is interesting and different than the others. This is a powerful wine with very, finely coating flavor. With air flavors of blue fruit develop, warmth, and fresh grip. The very fine structure is intense and there is a bit of a rough patch with heat right before the finish. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.
5) 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is fine and mature with a eucalyptus component. The wine is bright with focused flavors of red fruit that takes on a citric hint in the middle. With good power, the vein of acidity will see this wine develop for some time. A lovely wine. **** Now – 2027.
6) 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. Alcohol 13%. There is a tough of cream to the nose. The tangy and ripe, powdery blue fruit builds grip as it leaves flavor on the gums. Powerful structure. With air the wine develops attractiveness as the components balance out. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.
7) 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%. The musty nose makes with to a mature, mouth filling wine. The flavor is lighter, the structure is there, as is mineral and cedar box but no denying this is flawed. Too bad. Not Rated.
2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by Langdon Shiverick. This is a tense wine with a saline note that adds complexity to the red fruit. The structure is perfectly integrated, the balanced impeccable. With air a very fine perfumed finish makes way to an aftertaste of gently coating fat. **** 2022-2032.