Tim’s latest Italian recommendations are a must-try so I feel I should pass them on to you. First is the impeccable 2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio. It is lively with the right amount of fruit, weight, and grip. In other words it is both flavorful and pleasing in the mouth. Little did I know that the 2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli is important in the history of Italian wine. This vintage is the latest in the series of Bordeaux blends which began with the 1951 vintage. Thus Loredan Gasparini made the first Italian Bordeaux blend. This bottle is developing mature notes but the core of the fruit and structural components still exist. There is a sense of tightness and resolve so drink it after double-decanting or better yet in a few years from now. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio – $19
Imported by Vineyard Brands. This wine is 100% Friulano that was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Alcohol 13.5%. There is a lively start of white fruit and nuts which is delivered in a round character. There are stone notes through the middle, a dry finish with a touch of grip, and a fresh aftertaste. Well articulated. *** Now – 2018.
2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec that was aged 18 months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There are focused, round and dense flavors of blue and black fruit couple with initial bottled aged notes. This maturity is more ethereal adding complexity throughout. An herbaceous note at the start moves on to lively, dry spices in the middle, and a suggestion of powdery, ripeness in the finish. With air the wine becomes more incensed and takes on a polished wood note. ***(*) Now – 2027.
As happy as I am to continue drinking the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino I thought it best to get Tim’s advice on other wines from the region. He first recommended the affordable 2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino. This is a firm wine of black fruit that mixes in pleasing herbal notes. It could stand a few years of development to open up perhaps becoming elegant and focused. The 2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino is a step up in quality and price. The deep nose will excite you and the lively flavors will only add to the positive impression. I highly recommend you drink a few bottles over the next several years. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then raised for six months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 13.5%. This is a firm wine that remains focused with air. There is black fruit with dry herbal notes, polished wood, and an ethereal ripe finish. It remains tight with watering acidity. **(*) 2019-2024.
2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino – $26
Imported by Vine Street Imports. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 14%. The nose is deep and a touch pungent. The red and blue fruit quickly takes on polished wood notes before the brighter, red middle. There is fine acidity and grip in the end. With air this becomes a lively wine with controlled ripe fruit, a dry and bright middle, stone accented finish, and wood tannin aftertaste. Delicate floral notes even come out. This has strong development potential over the short-term. *** Now – 2026.
I was looking around for older bottles of Chianti wine when I was sidetracked by a few vintages of Castello Monsanto’s Super Tuscan wine Nemo. I randomly decided to open a bottle Friday night so I opted for the 2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany which is the youngest I have. There is a lovely nose of blue and black fruit which is matched by deep, balanced flavor in the mouth. It is more flavorful than complex with the sensation that bottle age has made it the wine accessible. As such, it is a very satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany.
2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany
Imported by MW Imports. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in oak. Alcohol 14%. This is a deep, earthy wine of blue and black fruit. At this age the wine is still has some fresh structure and grip which provides a pleasing amount of texture. More importantly the good, deep flavor is hard to resist. ***(*) Now – 2027.
I am pleased by one of the latest releases of Fornacina for the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino is a perfect follow up to the savory 2013 vintage. The 2014 vintage is particularly lively with plenty of juicy, almost rugged fruit supported by a very fine supportive structure. I enjoyed it youthful state but some might want the tannins to mellow for another year or two. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino – $18
This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then aged in Slavonian oak. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose is of moderately deep plums. In the mouth there is an almost prickly start making for a lively entry of tart red fruit then black fruit. The structure is obvious throughout leaving a layer of very fine tannins on the gums. With air the wine builds a ripe, juicy start followed by a mulberry middle and firm, stone accented finish. *** Now – 2023.
David Bloch returns from a hiatus in writing, though not tasting, to list his favorite Champagnes and both New and Old World white and red wines.
Top 10 Champagnes
1996 Moët & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon
1998 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz
2004 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil
2004 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
2006 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve
Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Brut Blanc de Blancs
Camille Savès Grand Cru Brut Carte Blanche Bouzy
Varnier-Fanniere Grand Cru Cuvée St-Denis
G. H. Mumm & Cie Crémant de Cramant
Top 10 Reds
Old World Reds:
1993 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
1994 Château Latour
1995 Château Troplong Mondot
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano
1997 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal
1998 Vieux Château Certan
1999 Jean Raphet et Fils Clos Vougeot Cuvée Unique
1999 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis
New World Red:
Top 10 Whites
2001 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese
2004 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg
2005 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck GK Riesling Spätlese
2006 Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette
2006 Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Hochrain
2007 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Trocken Großes Gewächs
2007 Vatan Sancerre Clos La Néore
2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs
2009 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
2010 Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin En Remilly
1990 Château Climens
1996 Château d’Yquem
2001 Château Rieussec
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume
2002 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Auslese Goldkapsel
As Aaron and I drink many wines together, it’s inevitable that we have some shared wines on our top lists. The 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill was obviously California with rich fruit and concentration but balanced by forest floor and a balanced acidity. What was especially interesting for me with this wine was that it was served with its brother, the 1978 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace. This wine shared many of the characteristics of its sibling, but with more cassis, less earth and somewhat brighter toned.
I shared Aaron’s enthusiasm for the 1964 Mommessin Clos de Tart. This is everything Burgundy should be—hugely complex as it balances a sense of fragility and depth. This oxymoronic nature of great, mature Burgundy was abounding in this wine. I too loved the 1964 Beaucastel. It’s too rare that I drink great, old Chateauneuf. In an evening with an amazing vertical of great Beaucastel, this wine stood above the rest. It was a beautiful mix of bright fruit, iodine and seaweed.
Moving on to two wines unique to my list are two more wines from 1964. Both Burgundies were drunk at Berns’ and served from 375’s. The first was a Senard Aloxe Corton Les Valozieres. The second was a lowly villages Morey St Denis from Valby. Both wines benefited from the cold conditions of the cellar there and were in pristine condition. Though neither showed the pedigree of the Clos de Tart, they both showed as fully mature, complex and exciting.
The 1989 Cos d’Estournel also was part of a vertical of exceptional wines. Though I greatly enjoyed many of vintages served that night, the 1989 stood out to me (and just edged out the 2005). It had concentrated fruit, some green notes and a fascinating smoky spice like incense. The finish went on and on.
The 1970 Souverain Zinfandel was also from a 375 at Berns’. This tasted still young and fresh and showed the heights that classic Zin can achieve.
My final two wines were probably more about the experience that the wines themselves. The first was a 2011 Fevre Montmains Chablis that I had at Han Ting restaurant in The Hague. This meal was probably my best of the year for exciting food and flawless service. The wine perfectly accompanied the Asian styled food. It had bright acidity, a delightful minerality and will doubtless just get better with time, as it was just a baby.
Finally was a carafe of the house red at O’Tinello Osteria in Lago Albano just outside of Rome. This fruity and fresh wine made locally had enough acidity to lighten the platters of cured meats, creamy pasta and the porchetta that the region is famous for. It was a great reminder of the time honored pairings of local food and wines. We were close to the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo and I could imagine the Pope having a similar lunch in the bright March sun……
Amy Ray has a well “honed” (to borrow a general quote from Barry Wiggins) passion for Burgundy. Though I have known of her for some time we only met this year. In hanging out with her I have discovered she also loves the wines of Champagne, Piedmont, and perhaps most importantly, old Madeira.
Amy’s love for Burgundy is clearly expressed in her list of memorable wines from 2016. Earlier this year she traveled to Burgundy where she drank the 1959 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules Domaine des Héritiers. She recently remarked how much she likes the 1959 vintage. At the Paulée at Château de Meursault she experienced the 1979 Domaine Francois Lamarche La Grande Rue which was not yet recognized as a Grand Cru.
If Amy is willing to attend the Paulée in Burgundy it is of no surprise that she was at La Paulée de San Francisco. At Quince in San Francisco, she was seated next to Etienne de Montille and Veronique Drouhin Boss.
It is here that she drank a beautiful bottle of 1985 Joseph Drouhin Musigny.
Amy’s love for Nebbiolo and Truffles took her to Piedmont. Here she took a break at Vinoteca Centro Storico with a bottle of NV Marie-Noelle Ledru Champagne Extra Brut. Marie-Noelle Ledru manages everything herself even riddling and disgorging.
She thought the Elio Grasso estate the most beautiful in all of Piedmont.
Gianluca Grasso ordered an excellent bottle of the 2006 Elio Grasso Barolo Riserva Runcot at the Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d’Alba.
Here are the other wines on Amy’s incredible list. Note, there is even Rayas!
- 1979 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut
- 1979 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee St. Vivant
- 2010 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Bèze
- 1998 Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny
- 2004 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières
- 1995 Christophe Roumier Ruchottes-Chambertin
- 1995 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve