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Posts Tagged ‘Barolo’

A bit too old, Monte Antico and Pio Cesare from 1979

November 9, 2016 3 comments

My friend Sudip is a gambling man who is all for trying any old vintage of wine.  A gamble and a bit of recklessness was all that was required to try the 1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany.  Neil and Maria Empson started Monte Antico in 1977, some five years after founding their wine importing company.  Monte Antico is a super-Tuscan wine, meaning it is a blend of Sangiovese with international varieties, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Super-Tuscans grew in popularity during 1970s.  This particular wine is one I drank with some occurrence during my university years in the 1990s because it was affordable.  I had no expectation it would be a decent drink or even palatable, being a budget wine, but the bottle looked good, the price was cheap, and it reminded me of times past.  The color was in the autumnal brown spectrum and the nose was advanced, as in roasted earth.  But in the mouth it was surprisingly round with hints of sweet fruit that developed into licorice.  But for the nose it would rate higher.

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Two wines from the same vintage makes for more fun.  I expected the 1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva to be better than the Monte Antico and it was.  This was another cheap purchase made years ago.  After an hour of air, I simply pulled the cork.  The wine gave all that it could.  The fruit has departed leaving leather and mushroom but the lively, tense acidity still remains.  It fades soon in the glass.  Neither bottle was finished but other young wines were.  Sudip had fun.

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1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany
Shipped by Neil Empson.  Imported by Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose initially smelled of roasted earth then celery.  It is much better in the mouth, round with hints of sweet fruit.  Certainly old but bits of fruit and licorice come out.  Two stars for flavor but overall  * Now.

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1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva
Imported by Paterno Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though an advanced color it had a lively tension.  It is simple at first and surprisingly closed.  After an hour of air it opened up.  All fruit gone having left just bottle aged flavors of leather, mushroom, and a very fine texture.  ** Now.

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Lost Friday Lunch

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

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For several years David Ehrlich has been organizing a series of weekday wine lunches.  Known as the Lost Lunch his idea is for a small group to enjoy a fine meal and an array of fine wines over the course of an entire afternoon.  Six of us recently gathered in the backroom of Black Salt where we kicked off the lunch with a bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon, Oenotheque Champagne.  This is an excellent Champagne which, with air and warmth, revealed an attractive amount of maturity.  It is simply a flat out treat to drink which was not only an outstanding way to start the afternoon but it was one of my top three favorites wines of the meal.  Rather than go through all of the wines I will jump straight to the 1971 Cav. L. Brero & C., Barolo Monvigliero Riserva.  The color of the wine is still deep with mouth filling flavors of vigorous fruit which take you by surprise.  The concentration builds with air, adding berries and baking spices, but never buries its great acidity.  The Monvigliero vineyard is located in Verduno which is on the northern edge of the Barolo region.  The vineyard itself is located on a high hill and is the only vineyard completely facing south.  It may be a romantic notion but you can taste that combination of ripe fruit from the sun and crispness from the altitude.  Regardless, it is an undeniably good wine.  For dessert we drank a lovely half-bottle of 1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes-Barsac.  This Climens not only feels luxurious in the mouth but the complex flavors make you want to take another sip.  I see no reason to hold back on drinking small formats.

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1996 Dom Perignon, Oenotheque Champagne
Imported by Moet Hennessy USA. Disgorged 2008. The light, toasted gold color leads you to a sweet, floral and fruity nose. The fine and robust bubbles first bring toast and yeast notes before a core of sweet fruit slowly expands in the mouth. Complexity is gained from old wood notes and a steely, chalk finish. With air and warmth this lovely Champagne shows more citrus, spices, and maturity. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1971 Domaine Gustave Gros, Richebourg Grand Cru
Shipped by Remoissenet Pere et Fils. Imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits Corp. Acquired from The Don Stott Cellar, Sotheby’s Wine. The color is relatively deep but the nose offers old leather and generally older aromas. In the mouth the wine is a little tired, though it is round and gentle, there is still some apparent structure in the finish. With moderate air it takes on a little fat and old spices but the finish becomes shorter. Overall it lacks some definition. *** Drink up.

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1991 Jean Gros, Richebourg Grand Cru
Imported by Chambers & Chambers. Alcohol 13%. The nose improved significantly with air eventually revealing some maturity. In the mouth are focused flavors of black cherry which never shook off firmness. The wine has a tangy grip that matched flavors of red fruit complemented by smoke. The flavors persist through the aftertaste. This wine will continue to develop. **** Now – 2026.

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2007 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux
Alcohol 13%. Acquired from Acker Merrall & Condit. Of the pair of Raveneau this has more acidity and tang which matches the white and chalky fruit. This is very precise, more citric, focused, and acidic. **** Now – 2021.

2008 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13%. The rounded start brings mango flavors. Despite the generous feeling this wine has grip and control. There is an attractive, weighty lemon flavor which is not tart. The finish brings chalk and a touch of tightness indicating a bit more aging potential. This was my favorite of the pair.  **** Now – 2021.

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2010 Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Meursault Clos de la Barre
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Wines Unlimited. Alcohol 13%. This is an electric wine from the berry fruit to the chalky, grippy tang which coats the bottom of the gums. The structure is still there too but this is drinking great right now. **** Now – 2018.

2011 Lucien Le Moine, Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres
The flavors are forward with good fruit but the oak is immediately noticeable. There is chalk and acidity in the finish but the fruit is reduced and the oak returns as butterscotch. Perhaps it will integrate with time. ***(*) Now – 2019.

2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. The lightest of the three Meursault. Compared to the others it had a berry fruit core but showed less concentration, less fruit, and watering acidity. That said it was cool in aspect with clean fruit and moderate minerality. I would drink this up. ***(*) Now.

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2001 Domaine A.-F. Gros, Richebourg
Imported by Pelton Imports. Alcohol 13%. This is a young, grapey wine with concentrated flavors of berries. It remained firm with primary, clean fruit yet shows strong promise. I would age this several more years before trying again. ***(*) 2020-2030.

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1952 Giacomo Borgogne, Barolo Riserva (red capsule original release)
Imported by T Elenteny. The pale amber color will be shocking to some. In the mouth the flavors are rounder than the color indicates. There is certainly vigor to this wine as the flavor fill the mouth, albeit they are simple in nature with watering acidity. The palate is more engaging than the nose. Very much alive and drinkable but this was never a strong wine. *** Now.

1971 Cav. L. Brero & C., Barolo Monvigliero Riserva
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This is quite deep in color. In the mouth are concentrated fruit flavors, berries, and cinnamon spices which persist on the tongue. This wine is full of vigor, still has weight to the fruit yet is crisp from the acidity. It builds concentration with air leaving baking spices in the aftertaste. An impressive wine. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes-Barsac
Imported by Pearson’s Wine Imp. Co. The golden amber color makes was to luscious and seductive flavors. This is an unctuous wine with noticeable residual sugar. It is not just the mouthfeel that is attractive but the flavors of apricot and ripe, Christmas spices. Drinking great right now. **** Now but will last.

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2001 Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Auslese *, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. A little asparagus stink on the nose. There is a zippy start with tart, white berry fruit, and rather dry body.  It remained acidic.  *** Now

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Pungo’d for Pleasure

David Bloch uses the Pungo so he can drink a wide variety of wines every day of the week. Here is one recent selection.

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2015 Domaine de Fonsainte, Gris de Gris, Corbieres
An annual purchase from the Kermit Lynch portfolio.  The wine performs so well every vintage.  This year’s bottling is as impressive as ever.  Apple, pear, minerals and melon.  Not a bruiser but flavor-packed and food friendly.

2012 Von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Great nose.  Almost a real Saar Kabinett.  Bitter almond.  Cream.  Lemon tart.  An extremely well-balanced wine – plenty of ripe fruit with a nice streak of acid and minerals.  Really long.  A baby with a long life ahead.

2000 Fratelli Revello, Barolo Vigna Giachini
Really nice wine. Mature. Floral and sweet even. On the red fruit spectrum.  Oddly, day two found a very tannic wine that wasn’t nearly as good as day one. Therein lies the unpredictable nature of Nebbiolo.

2010 Domaine les Grands Bois, Rasteau Cuvée Marc
On the large size, the tannins have integrated and the wine is a big mouthful of the Southern Rhone. Black fruited – I think the Mourvedre really pushes forward while it only accounts for a minority of the cepage.  Spices.   A tad overdone perhaps?  I suspect the wine may have needed more time to mellow.  Good with beef.

If you hate Altare read this post

May 11, 2016 1 comment

David Bloch is surprised by a bottle of Altare.

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2001 Elio Altare, Barolo (normale)
Let me say up front that my favorite Piedmonte producers include both Mascarellos, both Conternos, Vietti, Vajra, Rinaldi and Giacosa.  So it may come as a surprise to read that I thought this was a really good Barolo.  Yeah, open top roto-fermenters, micro oxygenation, etc. etc. etc.  The bottom line is that this is a complete Nebbiolo that smelled of roses and violets, tasted like dark berries and earth, and has some really, really fine grained tannins still left unresolved.  Bricking at the edge, the wine was delicate yet persistent all the way through.  The wine was paired with grilled 35-day dry aged ribeye and baked Cavatappi with Taleggio, Gruyère and Provolone Piccante, topped with bacon crumbles.  The Barolo was a perfect foil for this quiet Mother’s Day meal at home.

“Legendary Potions”: An old wine dinner back to 1929

December 16, 2015 5 comments

Mature vintages are a normal part of any discussion with Darryl and Nancy.   However, when it came to selecting our wines for a recent dinner, they led off deep with a double salvo of vintages from 1929 and 1931.  This soon led everyone else to offer up bottles from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

It was easy to be seduced by the final wine list.  The vintages from 1929, 1931, 1937, and 1942 were at one time not only difficult but impossible to secure in America.  The oldest wines were initially not imported due to Prohibition.  The others would have been held up for a few years due to transportation difficulties caused by World War 2.  In fact, Jane Nickerson wrote in The New York Times that the first tasting of imported wines since the war only took place in New York City during 1946.  For these reasons, in part, all of the oldest bottles bore modern import strips.

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It turned out that ullage as an indicator of condition reined king.  With one loose cork, two bottles low in the shoulder, and even one below shoulder wine, these bottles were doomed from the start.  Whether this was due to poor storage in Europe or America is not known.

However, you cannot find fault in trying a low fill 1929 Chateau Duhart-Milon, Pauillac or even a 1949 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves  for they are rather difficult to acquire.   The 1929 Duhart-Milon is largely regarded as an excellent wine.  This particular vintage represents the last great vintage of the estate before it succumbed to the economic depression of the 1930s and ravages of the war.  With no capital to spare, the old vines slowly died off with the overall acreage declining as weeds took over.  It was not until 1962 that the estate was turned around after the acquisition by Domaines Barons de Rothchild.

Such history was in the back of my mind when, with bottles in hand, eight of us gathered last week at The Grill Room in the Capella Hotel located in Georgetown.  Present were Darryl, Nancy, Tim, Scott, Lily, Josh, Morgan, and myself.  For our dinner Chef Frank Ruta created a six course menu around our wine flights.  The wines themselves were overseen by Master Sommelier Keith Goldston.  There was much discussion with about the service of the wines to let them show their best.  While there was no help for some bottles, the dead bottles of Bordeaux were tempered by other tenacious old red wines and an incredible opening flight of Champagne.

Tempura
cod and colossal squid from Denmark, sweet onions, dauphines
grilled soy braised daikon

I have drunk Salon only once before but given the situation I did not note the vintage nor how the wine tasted.  Our bottle of 2002 Salon, Cuvée ‘S’, Les Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Champagne  from the current release was deep in the aromatic nose, with cream and fat in the mouth, and a racy finish.  It was young in the mouth but when I returned to it I could not help but see what all was in store.  It was a very good but perhaps due to youth not as compelling as what was up next.  The first mature wines were perfectly fresh.  The 1973 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Champagne was a tremendous bottle, holding nothing back for the first hour or two.  I was beguiled by the fat and oil textured flavors.  As the 1973 began to fade the 1976 Moet & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Champagne finally opened up.  This was always more austere in nature with yeast notes, dry flavors, and vibrant acidity.  It finally showed good complexity and even suggested the need for several more years in the cellar.

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2002 Salon, Cuvée ‘S’, Les Mesnil, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Champagne
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose was very aromatic with remarkable depth, a hint of yeast, and underlying earthiness.  This lovely wine was rich in the mouth with very fine and strong bubbles that quickly dispersed to leave a dry texture and chalk infused finish.  With air it took on cream and fat, which never became heavy because it was racy.  Young!  **** 2020-2050.

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1973 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Champagne
Imported by Schieffelin & Co.  Alcohol 12.7%.  The darkest of the pair, this bottle revealed pure aromas of coffee and latte with bits of nut added in.  In the mouth the lively, firm bubbles made way to a drier, richer, and creamy wine.  It lost bubbles with time but it developed remarkable amount of fat and oil before the racy finish.  This tremendous wine delivered all it could before fading after an hour or two.  ****(*) Now – 2025.

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1976 Moet & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Champagne
Imported by Schieffelin & Co.  Alcohol 12.1%.  Though it bore familiar aromas, there were more yeast notes.  The flavors were youthful with pretty floral components and better defined acidity.  Nice flavors developed after a few hours of air making this a vibrant, mature wine. **** 2020-2035.

Shoat Belly
chestnut coulis, apple and turnip salad

Michael Broadbent noted the 1973 German vintage as the largest vintage on record with most wines set for early consumption.  I might have hedged once the nose opened up on the 1973 Egon Müller, Scharzhofberg Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer but the flavors were getting tired in the mouth.  While fine enough to drink I did not crave more.

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1973 Egon Müller, Scharzhofberg Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Shipped by Weinexport Hattenheim BMGH.  Imported by Kobrand Coporation.   The nose was first evocative of geraniums before developing complex aromas of herbs and old lady perfume.  In the mouth were apple-like flavors with some old and dusty notes.  ** Now.

Hand Cut Tagliatelle
with kabocha squash, truffle and shaved reggiano

The 1929 Duhart-Milon, Pauillac turned out to be a shell of its former self.  Perhaps speaking to its original potency, the nose was incredibly aromatic but of herbs and greenhouse plants.  This was followed by tart and strange flavors in the mouth.  No doubt old but refusing to let go was the 1931 Fontanafredda, Barolo.  This is a remarkable bottle because very little appears to have been written in English about this vintage let alone the wine.  The Wasserman’s described the vintage as “widely considered to be the greatest of the century” in their book Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1991).  Michael Broadbent wrote that “pre-war vintages are scarce” for Italian wine which remains true to this day for there are but a handful of tasting notes.  The  Wasserman’s made note of the 1931 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo, there is also Michael Broadbent’s note on the 1931 Giacomo Borgogne, Barolo Riserva Speciale, and finally Jamie Wolff (Chambers Street Wines) mentions a  good bottle of 1931 Marchesi di Barolo.

Fontanafredda has a royal history dating back to the mid-19th century.  Trying times began with World War I and reached a low mark with the economic depression of 1929.  After changing ownerships a few times, Fontanafredda went into bankruptcy in 1930 then was acquired by a bank in 1932.  Kerin O’Keefe writes in Barolo and Barbaresco (2014) how this bank turned the estate around.  You can imagine my delight when this bottle, produced during economic turmoil and bottled under new ownership, turned out to be fabulous.

Darryl had double-decanted the 1931 Fontanfredda, Barolo almost 24 hours prior to our tasting.  He reported that the wine had gained weight since he first pulled the cork.  It was in the mouth that this wine shined.  It had richness and weight but it was the tension which kept me returning to my glass all night long.

Also drinking very well, was the 1937 Camille Giroud, Hospices de Beaune, Cuvee Blondeau, Volnay.  The excellent 1937 vintage also happens to be the same year of the first Burgundy pavilion during the Paris Exposition.  Our bottle was fairly pigmented when first poured but the color shifted to include more browns which matched the old wine flavors that also came out.  The wine was sexy but unlike the rich body of the Barolo, our Volnay had structured black fruit and minerals.  If it was more firm the aftertaste was coating and long.

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1929 Chateau Duhart-Milon, Pauillac
Shipped by J. Calvet & Co.  Imported by Ginday Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Below shoulder fill.  The dark brown color let to aromatic herbal and greenhouse aromas that also took on notes of dill.  The flavors were similar in profile with a tart start, strange flavors, and an old wine finish.  Sadly not worth drinking.  Not Rated.

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1931 Fontanafredda, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose did not prepare one for the surprising richness of the flavors.  It showed a racy personality with inkiness and most importantly, tension.  This was an elegant, compelling wine.  **** Now – 2035.

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1937 Camille Giroud, Hospices de Beaune, Cuvee Blondeau, Volnay
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Old Vine Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  There was still red color in the glass but with air it took on browner and garnet tones.  This was a sexy, old wine which showed proper mature flavors with air.  It still sported some tannics with a touch of dusty, black fruit and minerals.  I particularly liked how the old fruit flavors clung to the mouth in the rather long aftertaste.  **** Now – 2025.

Bobo Farms Air Chilled Duck Breast
glazed beets, juniper sauce

This next flight featured two well regarded bottles from excellent vintages in Rioja.  In The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain (2011) the vintage comments point out that 1942 “Vina Albina from Bodegas Riojanas” is in “top form today.”  The Vina Tondonia “in gran reserva format, represent the peak of the vintage.” The 1942 Bodegas Riojanas, Vina Albina, Rioja was in top-form and really deserved even more air than it received.  This textured wine had citric red fruit flavors and a youthful personality that reminded me of a demi-john aged wine.  Sadly, our bottle of 1947 R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja was on the tired side.  With the fruit largely gone it was tart and acidic with less flavor.  Both bottles had metal capsules.  The Riojanas bore a more modern Consejo Regulador  Garantia de Origen label on the back with the de Heredia sporting the older Diploma de Garantia.  I feel these labels spoke to the relative release dates of the wines.

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1942 Bodegas Riojana, Vina Albina, Rioja
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Bottom neck fill. Quite clear and vibrant in the glass with a meaty nose of sweet berries.  In the mouth the citric red fruit flavors and tannins made it taste like a demi-john aged wine.  The flavors were dry and mouthfilling with watering acidity, a hint of old wood, and a cool, meaty note.  It left good texture on the tongue.  **** Now – 2035.

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1947 R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia, Rioja
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Top-shoulder fill.  The wine smelled old with notes of soy.  In the mouth the flavors were very tart and citric, leaving a first impression that the wine was older.  The fruit had largely faded leaving prominent acidity and some old wine flavors.  ** Now.

Dry Aged Shenandoah Rib Roast
locally foraged winter oyster mushrooms, glazed celeriac, red wine jus

This final flight of red wines turned out solid at best.  With the 1949 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves clearly evocative of bananas and the 1955 Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estephe even worse, the 1959 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe  once again exhibited reliability.  This bottle had better fill and a different shipper than the bottle I tasted this summer.  It proved different too with a robust, tannic, and textured personality.  It is what I drank with my rib roast.  The mallet-shaped bottle of 1964 M. Chapoutier, Cote-Rotie was aromatically described by one guest as “fog of ass”.  It was odd and certainly stinky so much so that I did not revisit the wine until after I finished my course.  Surprisingly, the nose cleaned up and developed a core of robust fruit.  Though a bit clunky, it was a decent glass.

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1949 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves
Though the bottle smelled of sweet fruit, in the glass the wine was strangely evocative of banana foster.  This sweetness quickly faded to reveal old vintage perfume.  In the mouth were highly astringent flavors of tart red fruit and perfume.  It was a bit salty too.  Not rated.

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1955 Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estephe
Shipped by Tarbes & Co.  Imported by Vintage Wines Inc.  The smelly nose made way to tired, old flavors of menthol.  Worse than the 1949.  Not Rated.

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1959 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Direct Import Wine Company.  Alcohol 11% – 14%.  The wine looked good with a garnet color of color infused with some redness.  This wine presented mature flavors in a youthful, robust, and tannic nature.  While not sporting a ton of fruit, this wine craved air, filling the mouth with textured flavors of maturity.  A good drink.  *** Now – 2025.

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1964 M. Chapoutier, Cote-Rotie
Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Imported by Schallery Wine Company.  Bottom shoulder fill.  This was a very dark cola color.  I initially thought it too old with its odd nose one person described as “fog of ass”.  Upon revisiting it had cleaned up tor reveal a core of red and black fruit with surprising robustness.  A solid wine which just needed to shake its stink off!  ** Now – 2020.

Tarte Tatin aux Coings
Honey buckwheat ice cream, vanilla quince sauce

The final wine of our evening was a fitting last glass.  The mature flavors fit in with all of the other wines but the sweet, tense flavors acted as a refresher.  As such I was satisfied and felt no need to taste anything else.

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1959 Moulin Touchais, Anjou Blanc
Imported by Rolar Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  With a color of vibrant, dark gold and a nose of membrillo this wine was attractive to all of the senses.  The rich flavors hinted at sweetness but this old wine had strong focus and good life from the acidity.  The acidity drove the wine through the end where it tasted like a mature white wine.  Good tension.  ****Now – 2045.

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Young, middle aged, and old: A peek at the lives of three Barolo

David Bloch returns with his latest experience drinking Barolo.  I should add that the 1971 Osvaldo Barisone is not only an older wine, but in being demijohn aged, is a reflection of how these wines were traditionally made nearly 100 years ago.

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1971 Osvaldo Barisone (Francesco Rinaldi), Barolo.
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%. This wine proved to be a real surprise.  Old Barolos tend to show a lot of bricking at the edge.  Not this one.  This wine was downright youthful.  Classic Barolo in every way – tar, roses, spices.  A treat to drink and likely to have another decade ahead.  My only nit would be that the wine does fade after about two hours after being decanted – hardly a problem though when consumed amongst fellow Barolo lovers.

2000 E. Pira & Figli, (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Cannubi
Alcohol 14%. The nose on this Cannubi was as floral as any Barolo I have ever had.  Very pronounced rose nose as well as other aromas of a flower shop. Wine was silky on the palate.  2000 may be a warmer year but Chiara Boschis has fashioned one of the finest wines of this vintage and shows neither signs of over ripeness nor heat.  The fruit was really sweet.  Crushed violets and vanilla.  The Cannubi provided that minty profile that sends a clear message of place. A regal wine with many, many fine years of drinking to come.

2010 Bartolo Mascarello, Barolo
The wine was real primary and even after almost a two hour decant struggled to give up much aromatically.  A very solid structure supports what will a decade from now be a magnificent Barolo.  A lot of tannins; a lot of acidity.  On the palate notes of raspberry and spices.   Roses.  Long and complicated.  It was really a challenge to drink at this stage but was educational nonetheless.

The Majesty of Malvasia Dinner: Tasting vintages from 1926 through 2002

June 29, 2015 1 comment

It took quite some time for the 20 bottles of Madeira to be equally poured into some 400 wine glasses.  With each pour the room became incrementally more aromatic until everyone was collectively talking about the beautiful aromas.  The doors to our private room were even shut at one point so as to infuse all of us.  During this waiting period I was able to meet the other attendees.  While there were mostly new introductions, there were a few people I had read about passionate Madeira lovers whose names are synonymous with old Madeira.

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The day’s festivities did not end with the Malvasia tasting.  Dinner was to be held after the tasting in the private room next to ours.  We were all asked to bring a bottle or two.  What had not already been shipped was being collected then staged in the dining room.  Several others took a peek at the other wines and returned excited.  Curious as to what could be exciting compared to 20 bottles of very old Madeira, I entered the dining room.  There on two spot lit tables stood bottles and magnums encompassing old vintages of European wine.

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It was a cache of vinous treasure.  I was rather stunned to see magnums of Burgundy such as 1970 Domaine Dujac, Aux Combottes.  The brace of 1950s Staatsweingut bottles brought pleasure but the bottles of 1929 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, 1928 Frederico Paternina, Gran Reserva Rioja, and 1926 Chateau Latour Haut Brion stopped me cold.  How incredible that there was a trio of red wine from the 1920s!  And I should also mention a 1933 Moulin Touchais Anjou Blanc.

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After spending approximately six hours tasting and discussing Madeira, I was both tired and hungry.  As we all moved to the dining room the mostly magnums of Champagne were broached to be accompanied by platter after platter of appetizers. There were such bottles as 1985 Lanson Brut, 1990 Pol Roger Brut, 1996 Philipponnat “Clos des Goisses” Brut, 1999 Tattinger Comtes de Champagne Blancs de Blanc, 2002 Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, and a vintage of Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs that escaped me.  It was not a time to take notes but rather to recharge, fortify, and chat with others that I did not sit next to during the tasting.

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Suitably recovered I sat down to dinner between Ricardo Freitas of Barbeito Madeira and Mannie Berk.  We were at one gigantic table which fortunately still allowed us to speak with those across the table.  After the sommeliers had performed any requested service, each bottle they were placed on the table in front of each owner for the first taste.  This was handled in the order of Champagne, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine.  The number of bottles opened must have been staggering for the next several hours a new wine came by every three to five minutes.  Indeed, at the end of the dinner there were nearly four dozen bottles and magnums arrayed out for the staff to finish.

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This quantity of top-notch wine might seem obscene but it worked for me.  Through everyone’s generosity I knew this would be another unique tasting so I did my best to capture it.  True, I had trouble keeping up with all of the wine, even with just writing the coarsest of notes, while eating dinner and talking away.  I managed to accumulate some five wine glasses which I used to triage what I was going to concentrate on.  For example, I tasted but did not note 1996 Louis Jadot Griots-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1990 Domaine Paul Pernot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, 1989 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles, 1973 Berberana Rioja Reserva, and 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.  No doubt there were other wines I could not even get to.

I must first state that the most revelatory bottle, though not the “best” per se, was the 1959 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Assmannshauser Hollenberg, Spatburgunder Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau.  It never even occurred to me that old German Spatburgunder or Pinot Noir could drink so well.  This bottle was still perfumed on the nose and though the residual sugar and short finish were indicating age, it was a pure pleasure to drink.  There must be a few others onto this wine for the 1935 vintage fetched over $2500 at the spring auction held at Kloster Eberbach.  As for young wines, the 1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny Grand Cru was stunningly complex with a killer nose and all the components for long aging.  I can see what all the fuss is about.  At the more mature side of Burgundy, the 1976 Georges Lignier, Clos de la Roche showed great from magnum.  Even Berry Bros & Rudd notes on their website that this wine “was superb, still remarkably youthful” when drunk in 2009.  If I had to pick one Italian wine it was, again in magnum, the 1985 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà.  The nose alone left one satisfied!  There were many other lovely bottles of wine so I encourage you to step through my brief notes.  Thanks again to Mannie and Roy for organizing the dinner as well as to everyone else who pulled from their cellars and excitedly shared their precious bottles.

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1953 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Rauenthaler Wulfen Riesling Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau
There was a great nose followed by flavors that were not too sweet but of ripe fruit.  The wine still had some richness with a spicy, soft finish.  In great shape.

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2002 Domaine Patrick Javillier, Meursault Les Tillets Cuvée Spéciale
This had apple-like flavors with a more austere finish.

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1996 Domaine Roulot, Meursault Les Luchets
This tasted young with great acidity that was lively on the tongue.  The flavors had controlled ripeness with both chalk and smoke notes and a citrus pithe finish.  Nice.

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1990 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
The nose was very aromatic with red fruit.  In the mouth were racy, black fruit flavors, the whole wine was à point.

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1982 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Barolo Bussia Soprana
This was young with dry, firm and linear flavors.  I noted it needs a few more decades of age.

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1985 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà
There was a beautiful nose followed by lovely, dry fruit, and a tart, linear finish.  With air the fruit became more prominent and the nose, stunning.

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1995 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco
There was a rather perfumed nose followed by concentrated flavors of bramble and dry, young fruit.  The wine turned black with drying, grippy tannins that left a very youthful impression.

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1958 Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva
After decanting this revealed a good Riscal nose.  There were mushroom flavors in this wine that was still very much alive.  It had dusty, black fruit, dry flavors, and still had structures.  If faulted it was a touch hollow.

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1964 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva
The nose was slightly medicinal but seemed to clean up.  Compared to the Riscal this bottle had riper, polished fruit that was still supported by structure.  There was more power in the finish with a better sense of completeness.

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1928 Frederico Paternina, Rioja Gran Reserva
There was tart, red structured fruit that was brighter and youthful in a sense.  But with air it started to fade.

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1979 Chateau Latour, Pauillac
This was classic with bell pepper notes, black fruit, grippy tannins, and a fresh personality.

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1976 Georges Lignier, Clos de la Roche
The nose bore mature aromas that mixed with campfire notes.  In the mouth the wine was straight up beautiful with youthful grip to the fruit and noticeable structure.

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1970 Domaine Dujac, Aux Combottes
The beautiful nose set up the wine with its structure that supported ethereal flavors, turkey stuffing notes…simply put, a lovely wine to drink.

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1979 Dupont-Tisserandot, Charmes-Chambertin
The nose was of roast earth and mushroom.  In the mouth earthy red fruit, acidity, grip, structure, that made for a lovely, overall experience.

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1995 Joseph Roty, Cuvee de “tres vieilles vignes”, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru
There were beautiful flavors of deep orange and red fruit that was clearly the youngest tasted thus far.  It took on some lovely cranberry red fruit and showed a lot of potential.

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1979 Mugneret-Gouachon, Echezaux
The nose was stink with tart fruit and eventually cleaned up a bit.  The flavors followed in the mouth but not so much.  Still had some body.

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1959 Staatsweingut, Domaine Kloster Eberbach, Assmannshauser Hollenberg, Spatburgunder Auslese, Cabinet, Rheingau
This wine was surprisingly lively with old perfume, some sweetness, and fruit.  The finish was a bit sharp and short with noticeable residual sugar.  Still, an old wine that was a treat to drink.

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1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue, Musigny Grand Cru
Wow, there was a killer, young nose of lipstick and perfume.  In the mouth there was incredible complexity despite this young wine having tart, cranberry, red, and black fruit that was structured.  This left an impression.

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1966 Graham, Vintage Port (bottled by Justerini & Brooks)
Beautiful.  This bottle left me wanting for more.

Traditional wines from Cavallotto, Produttori del Barbaresco, and Selbach-Oster

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment

This past Friday I found myself as Phil’s guest at his monthly wine-tasting group.  We sipped on the perfectly agreeable NV Jean Richecourt, Cuvee Speciale, Brut, Champagne as we waited for everyone to show up.  I found the citrus flavors and gentle effervescence whet my appetite for some serious wine.  The tasting of the red wines was conducted blind.  The nose alone of the 2011 Cavallotto, Nebbiolo, Langhe was a great start.  It was surprisingly serious for such a wine which, in retrospect, is explained by it being made from declassified Barolo Bricco Boschis fruit.  It was a good thing then that the remaining wines were all Cavallotto, Barolo Bricco Boschis.  Bricco Boschis is a cru solely owned by the Cavallotto family since 1929.  These wines are traditionally made with long aging in Slavonian oak.  Though they could exhibit a strong structure they all remained approachable.

Unfortunately the 2010 vintage was corked and the 2006 was believed heat damage, it was “old”, but still tasty in a way.  The 2008 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis was expectedly young but the minerally, racy black fruit was very attractive.  There is good potential here but I would wait several more years before opening another bottle.  The  2007 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis sported a good amount of concentrated fruit in a manner that came across as young.  It developed an interesting animale flavor in the finish.  I would try this again with the 2008.  The 2001 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis was easily in a place of its own.  The fruit was beautiful as well as the balance with the acidity and structure.  This was a serious yet enjoyable wine that was the first to be finished.  The 2005 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco proved a nice change at the end with its dark, dense fruit.  I did not spend much time with my glass but I should have.

We were very fortunate to finish with another excellent wine from the 2001 vintage.  This time in the form of the German 2001 Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Auslese *, Mosel Saar Ruwer.  It was everything I love in a German Riesling with its incredible aromatic nose, weighty mature flavors, and vibrant acidity.  I would have drunk the whole bottle if it were not impolite.  Thanks again to Phil for inviting me and for preparing the satisfying dinner of lamb shanks.

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NV Jean Richecourt, Cuvee Speciale, Brut, Champagne
Imported by The Lexington Import Group.  Alcohol 12%.  There were light lemon flavors with spiced, yeast notes, and gentle effervescence.  This fresh wine made for an easy start.  ** Now.

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2011 Cavallotto, Nebbiolo, Langhe
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo that was aged for 15-24 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a light to medium garnet cherry.  The nose was aromatic with exotic potpourri.  In the mouth the black fruit developed a little heat but there was good flavor to the ripe fruit.  The acidity was there with drier flavors in the finish and persistent aftertaste with mineral notes.  Drinking well now but should continue to do so.  *** Now-2020.

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2010 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from calcareous and clay soils that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in 3.5 years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  Corked.

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2008 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from calcareous and clay soils that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in 3.5 years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  It had a light to medium color with more garnet.  The nose was less exotic than the introductory Nebbiolo but there were similar cherry scents.  The red fruit in the start had more focus before minerally, racy black fruit came out.  There were very fine, powerful tannins with integrated acidity.  This strong wine was bright with acidity, a leather hint, and citric tannins.  ***(*) Now-2030.

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2007 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from calcareous and clay soils that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in 3.5 years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  This was a garnet color that looked younger than the 2006.  The nose was subtle with dark aromas.  There was more fruit that was concentrated and tasted young.  There was an attractive animale note in the finish.  The wine tastes young and was matched by very fine, drying tannins.  It clearly needs more time.  ***(*) 2018-2028.

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2006 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis
Imported by deGrazia Imports.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from calcareous and clay soils that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in 3.5 years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was an older looking garnet wood.  The nose was piercing with older (not in the prime of maturity) aromas.  In the mouth there was still some fruit concentration, old wood notes, and other ethereal flavors.  It was interesting but rough and coarse with plenty of dry tannins.  (I agreed with Roland in that I thought it a mature Rioja.) *** Now.

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2001 Cavallotto, Barolo Brico Boschis
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from calcareous and clay soils that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in 3.5 years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was a medium+ dark garnet color.  The nose was great and eventually piercing.  In the mouth were ripe, concentrated fruit flavors that had power but were balanced against the tannic structure.  The tannins had a citric edge with good weight that continued to complement the cool tasting red and blue fruit.  **** Now-2030.

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2005 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  There were slight aromas of polished wood notes and I must agree, fennel.  This fruity wine was dense with strength to the very focused black flavors.  *** Now-2025.

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2001 Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Himmelreich, Riesling Auslese *, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by Michael Skurnik Wine.  Alcohol 8%.  This was a medium golden amber.  The nose was incredibly aromatic with a little honied note.  In the mouth were maturing flavors that were taking on a soft edge.  The wine had a weighty middle with ripeness and lovely, lively acidity.  The flavors were vibrant and clean.  **** Now-2030.

Italy!

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

From white to red this post features an array of Italian wines so there is bound to be a wine for you.  In focusing on two wines the 2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia is made to good effect from the second most widely planted grape in Italy.  The unique combination of acidity, creamy fruit, and chalk will last all week.  I have heard it from several merchants that the warm 2009 Barolo vintage combined with contemporary winemaking techniques yields early drinking wines.  One example of which is the 2009 Reverdito, Barolo.  I never would have thought this true until I tried this contemporary wine that blends Nebbiolo traits with bottle aged notes.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages and Weygandt Wines.

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2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia – $15
Imported by Grappoli Imports.  This wine is 100% Catarratto sourced from vines grown at 2240-2880 feet in altitude.  The wine was fermented and raised in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a light nose of white fruit.  The crisp, textured entry made way to creamy, yellow and white fruit flavors.  The acidity prickle on the tongue tip remained over night.  It had a hint of toast, chalk infused finish, and fresh aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.

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2011 Cantina Sant’Isidoro, Montolmo, Marche Rosso – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese raised in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%. There was an interesting combination of tuna roll and smoke to this round, inky wine.  It was robust with ripe flavors of black fruit, dark flavors, glycerin, and a smoky aftertaste.  **(*) Now-2018.

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2010 Cantina Sociale Dorgali, Viniola, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $19
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Cannonau that was aged for 12 months in barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a very subtle nose of raspberry.  In the mouth were focused flavors of black and red fruit.  The wine had some lift as well as ripe, textured spiced in the finish.  The long, ripe tannin remained on the gums.  There was a touch of roughness in the finish followed by fine, drying tannin the aftertaste.  **(*) Now-2020.

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2006 Falesco, Marciliano, Rosso Umbria – $22
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc .  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed some greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth were nice, tight black fruit flavors.  The wine had a close vein of fruit but was mouth filling with clean, greenhouse-free flavors.  The wine was appropriately young with good structure as well as leather hints, saltiness, and cinnamon.  *** Now-2024.

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2009 Reverdito, Barolo – $35
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo raised in 1000L oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine was immediately approachable with floral red fruit, wood notes, and a focused ripe finish.  The wine is taking on secondary flavors.  The good, modern fruit became savory, taking on a hint of tea and sweet wood notes.  Nice. *** Now-2024.

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From 1971 Barisone, Barolo to a 2012 Italian Red Auslese: An Italian Themed Tasting with Lou

Lou and I recently got together in his tasting room to continue exploring older wines.  The theme was Italian wine so we naturally started with the 2008 Weingut Ratzenburger, Steeger St. Jost, Riesling Spatlese Trocken from Germany.  The fruit for this wine was sourced from the steep Steeger St. Jost vineyard which is located on soils of blue-black Devon slate.  This area called Bacharach famously takes its name from the Celtic Baccaracum or slate altar of Bacchus.  Sadly this was destroyed in the mid 19th century.  David Schildknecht reports that fermentation did not finish until mid-July.  Maybe this is why the wine had such a gentle nature.

The red wines began with the 2012 Ignaz Niedrist, Sudtirol, Kalterersee Auslese which I mistakenly (and understandably) mistook for an Austrian wine.  Regardless, I believe this is the first red Italian Auslese I have ever drunk.  Its actually quite good being a fresh and crisp wine with darker fruit.  We then moved back four decades to the 1971 Osvaldo Barisone (Francesco Rinaldi), Barolo.  There is absolutely no indication on the label that this wine was made by Francesco Rinaldi and if you search online everyone states as such but with no reference.  The ever thorough Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co. provided the reference.  The Osvaldo Barisone wine shop still exists in Turin.  After Mannie secured his parcel he interviewed Osvaldo Barisone with the help of an interpreter who stated himself that the wine came in demijohns from Francesco Rinaldi.  Note, this does not imply that other vintages of Barisone are from Francesco Rinaldi.  This name might sound familiar because Darryl and Nancy opened a bottle of 1967 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli, Barolo.  You may read about this wine and a little more background in my post Tasting Old Wines with Darryl and Nancy at Blue Grass Tavern. Our particular bottle of 1971 was incredibly aromatic and showed intriguing tension in flavor.  I have not drunk much older Barolo so to combine that experience with drinking a demi-john aged wine from a top-notch vintage is positively unique.  There are still bottles available so I recommend you snag one to try.

The 1988 Antonio Vallana, Spanna del Piemonte came from a large parcel of wines imported by Mannie Berk.  For background on this wine please check out the Vallana Retrospective at Del Posto and Ken Vastola’s tasting notes from that dinner Vallana Vertical: 2010 – 1954.  According to the Wassermans, Vallana used to produce six different Spannas until the inauguration of the DOC.  So its possible this is a blend from five vineyards.  Our bottle was decisively more barnyard in aroma than fruity.   Lou conjured up the straw descriptor which I could not shake from my mind.  We finished the evening with the very modern 2003 Oriel, Etereo, Barolo.  I found it decent the first evening, clearly very young, but on the second evening it showed strong potential as a very modern Barolo.

WithLou1

2008 Weingut Ratzenburger, Steeger St. Jost, Riesling Spatlese Trocken – $29
Imported by Fleet Street Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 11.5%.  There was a more floral nose with low-lying aromas of apple and pear.  In the mouth there was a touch of creaminess and some density.  The wine picked up some weight, stone notes, and a touch of acidity on the sides of the tongue.  There was some tang in the dry finish.  This wine had a gentle nature.  *** Now-2019.

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2012 Ignaz Niedrist, Sudtirol, Kalterersee Auslese – $25
Imported by Fleet Street Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Trollinger.  Alcohol 13%.  There were cooler aromas of red and black fruit.  The enjoyable nose eventually took on Kool-Aid aromas.  In the mouth were attractive flavors of darker red fruit.  There was good acidity in this fresh, crisp wine that had slightly grippy tannins.  The cherry fruit was lighter in body yielding a clean finish and good aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.

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1971 Osvaldo Barisone (Francesco Rinaldi), Barolo – $125
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was intensely aromatic with leather, dusty fruit, roasted meats, mushrooms, and eventually chocolate powder.  In the mouth it was very fresh with tart red cranberry flavors and an orange hint.  The mouthfilling flavors had a lot of verve leaving texture on the tongue and the throat.  There was a lot of acidity which gave tension to the flavors.    There was acidity and tart fruit on the tongue from the beginning morphing into a tangy finish and long aftertaste. This has a long life ahead.  **** Now-2029+.

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1988 Antonio Vallana, Spanna del Piemonte –
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a true barnyard nose with dark red fruit, straw, and an underlying mix of fruit.  In the mouth the tart red and black fruit turned more citric red with a wood note in the middle.  Then a burst of brighter fruit came out, subsided, only to return in the finish.  There was water acidity and a lengthy aftertaste of mellow, dark flavors.  *** Now-2026.

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2003 Oriel, Etereo, Barolo –
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the Monforte d’Alba region.  It was aged for 30 months in 100% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a Nebbiolo nose with sweet spice and just a little maturity.  In the mouth was a tight core of fruit that was powdery, dark, and primary.  The flavors were tightly wound but ripe with wood notes from tannins that built in texture.  With air this very modern wine revealed its dense and clean flavors with refined texture.  ***(*) Now-2034.