Lou brought a trio of bottles over to go with Thanksgiving leftovers. Coupled with a magnum of Bandol we tasted through some diverse wines. The 1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is from a moderate vintage and provides enough interest for a small glass. The wine tastes as if the fruit were not quite ripe when picked. Despite that criticism, the wine itself is chugging along and in no way decrepit. From a much better vintage the 2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico looks significantly younger than its age. It is full of color and dark red fruit delivered with some bright acidity. While it is not particularly complex, it is in fine shape and made for solid drinking. The magnum of 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol proved to be my favorite wine of the night. It is a touch soft at first then opens up to plenty of clean, maturing flavors with an attractive mineral streak. It even seemed racy for a bit. There is no mistaking the 2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes for any other grape. The aromas and flavors work in that lifted greenhouse or vegetal quality to good effect. Actually, the wine is surprisingly packed with flavor.
1997 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
Alcohol 13.5%. More stemmy flavors the fruit at this point but the lifted fruit is still there in the form of bright, dry red fruit. It tastes a bit short of ripe fruit. With enough interest for a small glass it is more remarkable for holding up this long. * Now.
2001 Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico
Imported by Paterno Wines International. Alcohol 13.5%. Surprisingly dark but on closer inspection there is a garnet hint on the edge. In the mouth are dark red fruit flavors, polished wood, and unfortunately a touch of heat in the end. The flavors are dry with a generally bright outlook. There is even some structure. Overall this is a very solid wine that is simply not too complex. ** Now – 2018.
2007 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol en magnum
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, and 5% Cinsault. Alcohol 14%. It is subtle for just a bit before the flavors accelerate through the mouth with a racy, mineral quality. *** Now – 2018.
2013 Damiani Wine Cellars, Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. Fairly attractive nose of red and blue fruit marked by lifted greenhouse aromas. The flavors bear the same vegetal hint but it works well with the fruit. There is quite a bit of stuffing and freshness to make this enjoyable. ** Now – 2017.
Just a quick note before the holiday weekend. With the warmer and more humid weather this week we have enjoyed several bottles of Chianti in an effort to turn towards lighter wines. The 2009 Il Brunone, Chianti Classico is actually quite structured. A structured, tannic wine can be the last thing I want to drink on a warm evening but this bottle bears rugged tannins. They impart a youthful character and help the wine stand up to grilled cheeseburgers. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 Il Brunone, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported bt Shaw-Ross International Importers. This wine is a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo that underwent alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, malolactic fermentation in cement vats, then was aged 12-18 months in large casks. Alcohol 13.5%. The dark fruited nose matched the slightly robust, dry flavors of dark fruit in the mouth. This is a textured wine from the rugged tannins which provide a dry structure throughout. The fruity component bears some weight before the dark, dry, and slightly bitter finish. With air the wine turns a touch tart while also offering dry, floral flavors. **(*) Now – 2019.
There is good value to be had in Tuscany and the 2009 Dievole, Chianti Classico is one such example. Hints of bottle age come out on the nose which is reflected in the moderately complex flavors which show best after an hour of air. Priced at $13 per bottle this is a solid weekday wine which you may drink over the next few years. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 Dievole, Chianti Classico – $13
Imported by Pasternak. Alcohol 14.1%. The nose smells mature with an attractive pencil lead aromas. The moderate complexity continues in the mouth with dark cherry then dry black fruit. There is a good balance between the tannins and juicy acidity. This is a solid wine, grippy, with a dry finish that is perhaps a touch short. **(*) Now – 2019.
Lou and I gathered in his kitchen last week to drink through a range of Sangiovese based wines primarily focused in on Ruffino, Riserva Ducale. We always start with a white wine but this time the bottle of 1999 Savary, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume was drinking too advanced. A few sips were fine for curiosity but I soon moved on. I did not miss a beat in tasting (and drinking) the 2010 Carpineto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva. After recently loving a bottle of 2010 Carpineto, Chianti Classico Riserva the Montepulciano did not disappoint. Let me just say that this is a great wine which is already complex and will clearly develop over the next several years. I would buy several to lay down. I then moved on to the 1998 La Sirena, Sangiovese, Juliana Vineyard, Napa Valley. This tasty wine will have broad appeal. It is a hypothetical mix up of Sangiovese made in a Rhone style in California. Perhaps this sounds bizarre but it will not after you knock back a glass or two.
1999 Savary, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 30 year old vines on Kimmeridgian Limestone that was fermented in stainless steel. Alcohol 12.5%. The attractive autumnal amber color looks quite mature which the nose confirms with fallen orchard fruit signaling the wine is past its peak. The wine is younger in the mouth with hints of apple cider, fresh acidity, and nice tannins making for attractive grip. There is even a citrus hint. But with additional air I just can no longer get past the nose. * Past.
2010 Carpineto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
Imported by Opici Wines. This wine is 90% Sangiovese and Canaiolo Nero that was aged for over 2 years in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose is quite pretty and complex with leather and floral aromas. This youthful wine has flavors of black fruit supported by structure and acidity. There is a hint of minerality and an inky quality with a layer of red, floral flavors on top. It is even savory with a touch of fat in the aftertaste. This is well balance for aging. ***(*) Now – 2026.
1998 La Sirena, Sangiovese, Juliana Vineyard, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.6%. The robust nose offers up some roasty, toasty aromas in a style evocative of California. The wine is drinking surprisingly well with a fruity, dense and rounded start. The watering acidity moves the wine along as it takes on some glycerin for body and offers tart black fruit on the sides of the tongue. It becomes softer with air with some dark cocoa flavors but it remains tasty. A hypothetical Rhone-styled Sangiovese. *** Now.
Our main flight of three wines was focused in on Ruffino in Chianti. Founded in 1877, this estate did not produce their first Ducale Riserva until 1927. The Ducale Riserva with the beige label is produced only in good vintages with the gold label only produced in the very best vintages. The best grapes from estate vineyards are used for Ducale Riserva. The gold label is a selection of the best lots of the beige label from the very best vintage and was first released in 1947. The Riserva Ducale has appeared in American newspaper advertisements since at least 1960. Over the subsequent decades, Ruffino was considered one of the best known names in Chianti with the Riserva Ducale Oro expensive but considered an age-worthy wine. In this vein, A&A Wine & Spirits of Washington, DC, listed 11 vintages of Riserva Ducale Oro for sale in 1987. From the 1977 at $23.99, their selection went back to the 1949 vintage at $199.99 per bottle. Only the 1964 Biondi Santi, Riserva Il Greppo was more expensive at $399.99 per bottle.
The beige label spends three years in various vats and oak casks with the gold label spending at least four years in oak. There was no gold label produced in 1961. The 1961 and 1971 vintages are a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 10% Malvasia and Trebbiano, 5% Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1993 is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 7-8% Canaiolo, and 2-3% white grapes.
The gold label is interesting in that it is made with 6-10% governo. Governo is a second fermentation caused by the addition of dried grapes, dried must, or concentrate. The governo used for the gold label is based on grapes dried on mats for two months. Ruffino feels it helps encourage malolactic fermentation. The Wasserman’s are of the opinion that wines made with governo can actually age quite a long time, particularly the gold label. Another example is the Chianti Classico of Monsanto which used governo until 1967.
Given our small sample set, it is impossible to draw any conclusions about the use of governo. The Wasserman’s rated the 1961 vintage in Chianti a zero out of four stars with Michael Broadbent three stars out of five for Tuscany. The Wasserman’s rated the 1971 vintage two out of four stars (commenting that the 1971 Ducale Oro was fading when tasted in 1989) and Michael Broadbent rated the vintage five out of five stars.
A general opinion appears to exist that Chianti, outside of the spaghetti joint flasks, does not age to extremes due to the large percentage of white grapes. Our bottle of 1961 Ruffino, Ducale Beige, Chianti Riserva was certainly past prime. I managed a few satisfactory swallows but there was nothing that could improve its state. Perhaps the governo and the strong 1971 vintage worked together for the bottle of 1971 Ruffino, Ducale Oro, Chianti Classico Riserva kept supplying great glasses of wine all night long. It smelled and tasted like old-school Italian wine with lively acidity and good weight to the flavors. This bottle was clearly well-stored and I suggest that fans of old Barolo try out this Ducale Oro if you can find one. Our final bottle of 1993 Ruffino, Ducale Oro, Chianti Classico Riserva was clearly a wine of a different era. It did have attractive leather, vintage perfume, and a sweaty note but it did not have vibrant acidity, making it softer and more advanced than I would expect. A solid bottle. Based on my experience with the 1971 I will continue to carefully look for other old bottles of Chianti.
1993 Ruffino, Ducale Oro, Chianti Classico Riserva
Imported by Schieffelin & Somerset. Alcohol 13%. The nose has some VA to it, mixing with hard cherry aromas that become grainier with air. The wine is immediately softer in the mouth and more advanced than I would expect. This mature bottle sports tart cherry, leather, and vintage perfume flavors. It has weight and an attractive sweaty component. I keep thinking it is softer than it should be. ** Now.
1971 Ruffino, Ducale Oro, Chianti Classico Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12.5%. The good nose remains aromatic with mature, old-school aromas reminiscent of Italy. The vibrant, acidity driven start shows good weight to the red fruit with good presence in the mouth. There are ripe, dusty tannins in the aftertaste where a citric grip returns. The wine responds well to air taking on a persistent flavor of old-school perfume. The fruit is dry but there are no hints of raisins (from the governo). *** Now but will last.
1961 Ruffino, Ducale Beige, Chianti Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 12.8%. The nose is full of roast earth indicating the wine is past its prime. In the mouth is good, edgy acidity with a core of dense, old fruit. It is more of a core of tired fruit that tastes old by the end. There is some menthol. Drinkable as a relic. * Past.
In this post, David Bloch suggests an affordable and age-worthy Chianti Classico from the great 2010 vintage.
2010 Castello dei Rampolla, Chianti Classico
I have been drinking Sammarco (and the occasional bottle of d’Alceo) from Castello dei Rampolla for close to twenty years but never had the Chianti Classico. I came across some bottles and given the producer and strength of the vintage, I figured this was a no brainer. This a very dark and brooding Chianti. Dark, almost bitter berry and overripe cherry notes. Earth. Terribly young and undeveloped. The wine needs another three or four years to blossom but there can be little doubt it will be worth the wait. I paid around $20. If I come across the wine again, I would buy a few more bottles and look forward to 2020.
David Bloch returns with a trio of enticing wines.
2008 Rocca di Castagnoli, Chianti Classico Riserva Poggio A’Frati
One sip of this wine and you know it is from Tuscany. Very young and tight. Decanted for two hours and the wine blossomed. This is a deep and dark Chianti. Classic Sangiovese notes of tobacco. On the black fruit spectrum for sure. Some dirt and soil too, adding complexity. Licorice and some floral elements. I liked the acidity that is hidden behind all the fruit and tannins. This wine will reward another 3-5 years of cellaring and drink well for a long, long time.
2013 Château Guiraud, Le G, Bordeaux
I drink a fair amount of this wine vintage after vintage. The 2013 seems to be at the point of needing to be consumed. Not that this wine can’t age a bit, but I like the pungent aspects of the cepage and the freshness that this wine demonstrates now. Plenty of Sauvignon character. Indeed, cut grass and an herbal nose and palate masks the Semillon initially. Blind I would have said Sancerre. Then the wine becomes more round in the mouth and midpalate where the Semillon provides some citrus and tropical fruit notes that makes you want to take another sip. A half bottle was put back in the fridge after lunch on Saturday and finished before dinner on Sunday. The wine showed great the next day and should not be consumed too cold.
2001 Domaine de la Charbonnière, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Mourre des Perdrix
Decanted off some sediment for about two hours. Classic traditional CdP. The nose was great. Flowers and spice and dark fruits. The wine had great texture and again, plenty of spice, raspberry, dark cherry and some peppery notes in the mouth. Really long finish. This 2001 has performed beautifully and is quite mature. I was a little concerned when I encountered a spongy cork but the wine was a real beauty. I also have had the Vieilles Vignes several times from this vintage. I think the blend (70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre and 15% Syrah) yielded a more interesting and complex wine than the primarily old vine Grenache cuvee. This wine will keep in a cool cellar for many more years but if you own a few enjoy one now.
By all accounts the 2010 vintage in Chianti Classico was uneven but it did produce some stunning wines. For this post I asked Tim to recommend several of these wines priced at or below $20. After trying all three wines I am quite excited. The 2010 Carpineto, Chianti Classico Riserva tilts towards the red fruit spectrum. The weighty flavors are pleasing now but there is a depth and structure which will allow even more flavor with age. The 2010 Podere il Palazzino, Argenina, Chianti Classico is attractively dark fruited and flavorful but also the tightest. While the flavors are there it really needs a year or two for the structure to integrate more. Finally, the 2010 Fattoria Rodano, Chianti Classico is the most forward of the three. It combines dark cherry flavors, minerals, and an earthy note. The last bottle I tried was singing so it took all of my self-control to leave some for the second night. I recommend you stock up on all three of these wines! These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2010 Carpineto, Chianti Classico Riserva – $20
Imported by Opici Wines. This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was aged in oak for over one year. Alcohol 13.5%. The red fruit aromas mix with some meat. In the mouth it is primarily red fruit that comes through. The wine has a certain thickness which matches the bright acidity. The wine has weight on the tongue, leaving ripe and textured tannins on the gums. It already has more depth but really calls for further development. With air the cool fruit takes on earth, orange-red hints, and even a suggestion of maturity. ***(*) Now – 2026.
2010 Podere il Palazzino, Argenina, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported by de Grazia Imports. This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was fermented in stainless steel then aged in small oak casks. Alcohol 14.5%. The low-lying, dark nose is outmatched by the ample flavors in the mouth. The dark fruit begins with rounded edges and watering acidity before it firms up through a dose of drying tannins. There are hints of sweet fruit at the beginning followed by tart, black fruit in the finish. Though flavorful, this wine could really use a year or two of age. *** Now – 2021.
2010 Fattoria Rodano, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported by Enotec Imports. This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was aged for over two years in large Slavonian casks. Alcohol 14.5%. Meaty aromas make way to deep flavor in this young but accessible wine. The dark cherry, mineral flavors mix with ripe, textured, and drying tannins. The flavors turn blacker and more mineral towards the finish which is a little aggressive. This attractive, mouthfilling wine even takens on an earthy hint. *** Now – 2021.