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A modest López de Heredia tasting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

A Northern Rhone Tasting with Mosel too

Several months ago we gathered on my back deck to taste through some Northern Rhone wines.  The focus was to be on Cornas and Côte-Rôtie but these wines were soon joined by Champagne (required of course), Hermitage, Mosel, and Paarl. The killer 1998 Dom Perignon, P2 Champagne Brut with its equally impressive gift box was the best wine of the night.  It is drinking spot-on but as it is a different beast, it did not distract from the red wines.

From Cornas, my favorites include the brambly and strong 2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Reynard.  Nearly as good, yet quite different, is the animale, crisp 2001 Dumien-Serrette, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Cornas Patou.  Graphite and vintage perfume add complexity at a reasonable price.

From Côte-Rôtie, my favorite is the 1998 Gilles Barge, Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune.  Floral on the nose, this is an elegant wine with plenty of minerals and violets.  It also yields fat for weight. I kept returning to my glass for another sniff. Of the slew of 1998s, the 1998 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie proved to be mostly reticent but did improve with extended air.  It is meatier and smokier than the Barge.  The pair of 2007s proved excellent too.  The cleaner 2007 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline had my preference tilted towards it for the floral, lifted flavors over the deep base.  There is a lot of material here.  Whereas, the 2007 Bernard Levet, Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche is substantial, yet balanced, with a wild flavor personality.  What a fantastic range of styles from one small region.

We wrapped up the evening with a trio of excellent Mosel Rieslings and a dessert wine from Paarl.  I only took small tastes of these wines so my notes are short.  The two that stand out are the clean and vibrant 2006 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg, Riesling Auslese, Mosel with the lovely 2001 Joh. Jos. Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel.  Many thanks for everyone’s contributions.

Champagne

1998 Dom Perignon, P2 Champagne Brut
Alcohol 12.5%.  Fine bubbles explode, leaving a lovely texture backed by flavors of ripe spices.  The acidity cuts through the end, supporting wood box hints and the creamy, mousse finish. ****(*) Now

Hermitage

1997 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage Blanc le Chevalier de Sterimberg
Golden amber color.  An interesting nose, honied flavors but past prime.  Not Rated.

1997 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage La Chapelle
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.  Alcohol 13.4%.  Roast earth with fine wood scents.  Light in the mouth with watering acidity, polished wood, and effortless delivery of cherry flavor.  The wine takes on body, which is seductive, but the flavors are rather mature.  *** Now.

1983 E. Guigal, Hermitage
Imported by Classic Wine Imports.  Dead. Not Rated.

Cornas

2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Reynard
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  A brambly nose with interesting aromas including violets.  A sensation of weight greets in this young wine with youthful intensity and hints of yeast.  There is concentration, ripe tannins, and fruit extract with both acidity and tannins in the dry finish and aftertaste.  With air a sage, green herb component develops.  Strength.  **** Now – 2028.

2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Chaillot
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Pure in fruit with finely scents aromas of pepper and sweet baking spices.  Grapey fruit in the mouth, black pepper, and tons of texture.  With air it takes on a yeasty Pilsner quality that destroys everything.  Not Rated.

2001 Dumien-Serrette, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Cornas Patou
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Young with plenty of mouth feel from its citric grip and tannins.  There is graphite and an animale hint in this crisp wine with drier flavors and good presence in the mouth.  It has a lovely vintage perfume aspect that adds complexity to the good flavor.  ***(*) Now – 2033.

Côte-Rôtie

1998 Gilles Barge, Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The floral, perfumed nose smells great.  In the mouth are focused flavors that build minerality and becoming impressive at the end with good length.  With air elegant hints of fat lend weight and balance the wine.  By the middle, tannins and acidity come out which will see the wine through further development.  A beautiful wine all about minerals and violets.   **** Now – 2023.

1998 Bernard Burgaud, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Very aromatic, meaty, fresh, and notes of vintage perfume.  Yet in the mouth it is tart, grapey, with pervasive earthiness overpowering everything.  Not quite right which is a shame.  Not Rated.

1998 Mathilde et Yves Gangloff, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by Vineyard Road.  The restrained nose remains tight and unyielding but a delicate, floral aroma does escape.  Smoked meats, along with pure, red and black fruits greet.  There is a restrained, tannic structure that smooths out as watering acidity moves the wine into the lipsticky finish.  Right now, this is a wine with ample presence and texture in the mouth.  *** Now – 2028+.

1998 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  Hints of sweet fruit on the nose backed by meat and smoke.  Dense and gentle in the mouth,the textured red fruit become coated with fat.  Beautiful and elegant with fine texture from extract.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

1998 Rene Rostaing, Côte-Rôtie La Landonne
Pure bloody, meat but not much else there on the nose.  Not quite right.  Silky in the mouth with flavors of meat and a short finish.  Not right.  Not Rated.

Mystery Wine – 2012 Halcon, Alturas, Yorkville Highlands Syrah
Alcohol 13.5%.  Purple, grapey nose with gobs of grapey flavors in the mouth.  Hard to transition to but a solid wine.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2007 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline
Imported by Vintus.  Alcohol 13%.  A beautiful, floral nose.  Grapey, purple fruit flavors surrounded by fat.  There is a floral lift to the deep, lifted flavors which I prefer over the Levett.  A modern take on Syrah with floral persistence in the finish and aftertaste.  ****(*) Now – 2033.

2007 Bernard Levet, Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A floral, substantive nose.  In the mouth are fat infused, dense and supple flavors of intertwined black fruit and minerals.  Impressive balance.  It takes on red grapefruit with both animale and sauvage complexity.  The flavors drape over the tongue with weight and seamless body.  There are very fine yet not dry tannins that peak out in the end. **** Now – 2033.

German Riesling

2006 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg, Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Alcohol 7%. The lightest color of the trio, almost white.  Clean, residual sugar in the start soon morphs into grapefruit with a tart, vibrantly acidic middle, and tangy finish.  Clean.

2006 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Alcohol 8%.  A golden color with petrol on the nose.  Some vibranrancy but surprisingly advanced.  Petrol and weight.

2001 Joh. Jos. Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel
A light yellow color.  Hints of petrol along with citrus fruit on the nose.  Very fine textured acidity, lovely.

Dessert

2000 Fairview Wine Estate, Le Beryl Blanc, Paarl
An amber color with flavors of apricots and dried fruit.  Good balance.

Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 1 Dolcetto

 

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

Champagne

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

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

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

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

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

Dolcetto

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

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

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

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

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

CVNE Older Vintage Tour with Carlos Delage, Deputy Export Director

It is a testament to winemaking with excellent parcels of fruit and aging in carefully maintained facilities, that I have consistently enjoyed several bottles of the 1964 CVNE, Vina Real Reserva Especial. I have drunk other vintages as well including the 1976 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva which was served by Carlos Delage, CVNE Deputy Export Director, at a luncheon in Washington, DC, during early April. What few seem to realize is that CVNE still produces complex, age-worthy traditional wines not only from legendary vintages but those which are overshadowed.

The glass of 2014 CVNE, Monopole Clasico which greeted us upon arrival is rooted in history. This wine was originally made in the 1960s and 1970s but then faded away to no longer be produced.  When Victor Urrita, CVNE CEO, tasted a mature bottle of the 1979, he was so impressed he took the only logical next step; he contacted the winemaker himself, Ezequiel Garcia.

So famed were the CVNE wines produced by Ezequiel Garcia during the 1960s and 1970s that he earned the nickname El Brujo or “The Wizard”. It is his vintages of Vina Real Reserva Especial and Imperial Gran Reserva that savvy wine drinkers covet today. However, his Monopole Clasico has remained obscure until it was resurrected with the 2014 vintage.

Not to be confused with the regular Monopole, the Monopole Clasico is unique in Rioja history as it features a good portion of Sherry. Unlike any other wine, this is a blend of Viura with 15% Manzanilla sourced from the Hidalgo family. The wine is then aged in a combination of American oak and Sherry bota. Incredibly, CVNE is still in possession of the 1970s letter granting permission to bottle this wine as Rioja. We all enjoyed a glass as we gathered for the luncheon. I found it light and fresh with an attractive, oily body throughout and Sherry background note.

Once seated, we started off with an tremendous glass of 2004 Contino, Rioja Reserva.  From an excellent vintage, this is a wine generous in flavor and capable of long age.  In my post Delicious and historic, the 1974 Contino, Rioja Reserva I describe the very first vintage as “age-defying”.  With the 2004 demonstrating potential for that same descriptor, an array of CVNE Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva illustrats the evolution of wine through the excellent 2010 and 2005 vintages along with the very good 1998 and good 1976 vintages.  The former are still in a development phase but while the 1998 is still structured, it is now gaining complexity from maturity.

The ability for a wine to age is of no importance unless it not only tastes good but also develops the unique flavors from bottle age.  The 1976 tasted at lunch was the best of the two examples I have tasted over the past year, no doubt because it came straight from CVNE.  While it reflects the modest vintage in its gentleness, it has taken on that slightly sweet, concentrated fruit flavor that I love in good wines over 40 years of age. If this is the peak of the 1976 vintage then I can only imagine the heights that the 2010 and 2005 vintages will achieve.

Many thanks to Carlos Delage (CVNE), Gloria Zapatero (CVNE), and Rob McFarlane (Elite Wines) for inviting to the luncheon.

2004 Contino, Rioja Reserva
Alcohol 14.5%. The youngest looking of the first three wines. Still has a grapey color and is highly aromatic on the nose. This is forward, promptly filling the mouth as floral and spiced flavors come out in the middle. It is showing beautifully with a fresh, almost menthol note, hints of sweet oak, and a finish of minerals and good funk. It wraps up with a kick of freshness. ****(*) Now – 2038.

1998 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
The nose is complex with red and black fruits with spices. In the mouth the red fruit is taking on maturity. The watering acidity carries the sweet and powdery red fruit. There is some chewy texture from structure and even a little tartness. Though entering maturity it will develop for some time. ***(*) Now – 2028.

1976 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
Alcohol 13%. A clear, light to medium garnet. The nose still offers modest depth and meat aromas. In the mouth is a start of focused red fruit then beautiful powdery, cherry fruit flavors. The wine is lithe and light through the middle, carried by watering acidity into a gentle finish. It develops notes of old wood, slightly sweet concentrated fruit, and meat. **** Now but will last.

2010 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
Very dark in color and still concentrated in the mouth. With youthful vigor, the flavors are held close but are not tight. There is ripe fruit and racy texture providing the stuffing for years of age. The oak still needs time to integrate. It has a long future over which it will improve. **** 2020-2038.

2005 CVNE, Imperial, Rioja Gran Reserva
The grapey dark color stains the glass. There is a cherry note at first then as the wine slowly opens up black licorice and fresh herbs. It has strength for development. ***(*) 2020-2030.

2012 CVNE, Graciano
This was vinified in oak then aged for 18 months in new French oak. This is very young with tight flavors. A menthol note mixes with the blue and black fruit which is almost bitter. Certainly unique.  *** 2023-2030.

Our host Carlos Delage, CVNE Deputy Export Director

A tasting of Hermanos Peciña Rioja from 2016-2001

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

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

Tasting Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A fine value for the cellar: 2016 Maison la Berthaude, Tradition, CdP

Since Domaine Roger Perrin was founded in 1969, three generations have been involved in fashioning wines to this day.  The 2016 Maison la Berthaude, Cuvee Tradition, Chateauneuf du Pape was produced under second-generation Veronique Perrin-Rolin with help from her son Xavier Rolin.  This particular wine is a custom cuvee made for importer Craig Baker of Misa Imports.  For now, it is best drunk after spending a few hours in a decanter for this is a wine which will develop over the next several years.  The flavors of black fruit, minerals, and graphite are tasty but it is the quality of the crunchy acidity that I particularly like.  The 2016 vintage was stellar in Chateauneuf du Pape, priced at $30 per bottle this is surely a great value for the region.  You can pick up your bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Maison la Berthaude, Cuvee Tradition, Chateauneuf du Pape – $30
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Black tinged and mineral fruit moves forward on crunchy acidity.  The flavors are bound with textured tannins that leave a pleasing presence on the gums.  This mid-weight wine is dry, becoming black fruited with graphite in the powerful finish.  It will reward cellaring.  **** Now – 2033.