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Barolo from 1974 and Rioja from 1964

Much of my time spent with Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., involves work on projects related to the history of Madeira.  After one long day sorting through historic documents we discussed our findings over two bottles of wine.

Terre del Barolo is a cooperative winery that was founded in 1958.  Located in the heart of Barolo at Castiglion Faletto, there were nearly 400 members by the first harvest of 1959, a number virtually unchanged today.

The 1974 Terre del Barolo, Barolo Castiglione Faletto as a solid wine from a solid vintage.  It smells and tastes like a mature Barolo.  What it lacks in excitement it makes up for in low price, perhaps more of a wine to buy if you are dipping your toe into mature Barolo and are on a budget.

Founded in 1874, Bodegas Monticello is amongst the pioneering Rioja wineries based on Bordeaux winemaking techniques.  For nearly 100 years the winery remained in the Navajas family until, with the end of the family line, it was sold to the Osborne company in 1973.  Thus our bottle of 1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty Rioja bears the old-school label with the family name.  Iy was produced in the older winery before Osbone modernized everything in 1975.

The 1964 vintage in Rioja is highly acclaimed, which is reflected in this well-stored wine.  Though there is the delicacy of old Rioja, it also has the concentration of sweet flavors.  It is attractive and deserves another taste!

High-alcohol Verdelho, old Freisa, and older Napa Valley reds

The latest round of wines that Lou and I tasted presented a challenging start.  Perhaps only the Scholium Project would offer a high-alcohol Verdelho white wine and the 2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards certainly exists outside of my conventional experience.  I found an attractive blend of yeast, nuts, and lemon such that I am reminded a bit of a mature, flat Champagne.  Lovers of mature white wine will find it engaging on the first night.  Tasted blind, I would have guess the 1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa to be a late 1970s Italian Nebbiolo from a lesser region.  It threw a tremendous amount of sediment.  On the face of things, it is a decrepit wine for being from 1999.  However, if you like very old Italian wine then you’ll enjoy it after it breaths for several hours.  It becomes round and sweet with some delicate berries.

We soon moved on to a trio of Napa Valley red wines.  The 1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is from a very wet year which shows in a lack of quality fruit flavor and staying power.  In comparison, the 1977 vintage is still rocking.  The 1983 improves with air to be a modest wine which set us up for our next pair of wines from Burgess Cellars.

Burgess Cellars was founded in 1972 when Tom Burgess bought a 19th century winery that had been resurrected by Lee Stewart and known at the time as Souverain.  Burgess Cellars was one of only two dozen wineries in Napa and Sonoma at the time of founding.  The 1970s was a period when the house wine style was under development with the winemaker Bill Sorenson.  At the same time the vineyards were expanded and replanted.  In 1978 and 1979 the winery itself was significantly expanded.  Long-term contracts were secured to provide an increased volume of fruit.

Perhaps this transitory period explains why the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley is way past prime.  It looks and smells old but there is still an attractive mouthfeel.  Souverain and Burgess Cellars did have a legacy when it came to Cabernet Sauvignon which could explain the quality of the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  The bottle stink quickly blew off to reveal deep fruit on the nose which is confirmed on the palate.  This is a clean fruited wine with a bit of herbal greenhouse flavor wrapped in a seductive, textured mouth feel.  My one grip is that it could stand a bit more acidity.  Even Jenn enjoyed it and I enjoyed my last glass as I read my mystery book before bed.

 

2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards
This wine is 100% Verdelho that was fermented in both tank and barrel.  Alcohol 15.88%.  There is a bit of an apple orchard aroma but then it becomes primarily of yeast and white fruit.  In the mouth this is a weighty, nutty white fruited wine with a cutting vein of acidity in the finish.  There is an attractive yeast note, lemon peel, and tropical floral flavors delivered with a very fine, ripe grip.  **(*) Now.

1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa
Imported by T. Elenteny. 12%.  Between the brick color, nose, and initial flavors I would have guessed this wine to be decades older.  After several hours of air it improved markedly.  A bacon aroma moves on to very mature flavors in a wine that rounds out and becomes sweeter with air.  While the nose remains past prime the mouth shows delicate berries, a little spice, good acidity, and an almost chewy nature.  ** Now.

1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.9%.  This is a drier wine which improved with air.  It is fully mature with not the best fruit at this stage though there are attractive notes of wood box and a hint of tobacco. It sports powdery density and a fresh finish.  ** Drink Up.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.1%.  The bottle stink quickly blows off to reveal deep blue aromas.  In the mouth is clean fruit which is ripe and weighty before transitioning to dry flavors underpinned by black fruit.  There is a seductive mouthful but truth be told this could use a bit more zip from acidity.  It is very enjoyable though with fine wood notes, some fresh greenhouse, and a textured finish.  *** Now but will last.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.4%.  A light to medium-brown color spells doom which is confirmed on the nose.  Surprisingly round and weighty in the mouth with a sweet core.  Not Rated Past.

A very tasty wine from Umbria

Simply put if you need a red wine for daily drinking or a large party then look no further than the 2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso.  This is a Sangiovese based Bordeaux blend with a bit of bitterness and cocoa but it is very tasty.  It delivers a lot of satisfaction at only $13 per bottle.  I must thank Tim for pointing it out to me.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso – $13
Imported by Vini Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Sangiovese, 22% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc which is fermented in stainless steel then aged in a mixture of stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is really tasty.  For those in search of more information this a  moderately ripe wine with ripe texture, a black bitter element, and cocoa aftertaste.  It has watery acidity and a billowy structure which should support development for a year.  But why wait?  **(*) Now – 2019.

2015 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  Villa, Umbria – $10
Imported by Vini Inc.  This is 100% Sangiovese made from the youngest vines and raised entirely in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14 %.  This is a firm wine with slightly bitter black fruit, acidity, and fine texture.  *(*) Now.

Old-school 1979 De Forville Barbaresco

I opened the 1979 De Forville, Barbaresco on a whim when I found out a dinner guest at our house is another wine lover.  I picked up this bottle from Chambers Street Wine a year or two ago on the recommendation of Jamie.  De Forville is a 19th century estate which, according to the Wasserman’s, produced this wine using the traditional methods of long skin contact and long cask aging.  The 1979 vintage was uneven but I suspect the traditional winemaking and careful storage ensured that it arrived at my table in fine shape.  This bottle fleshed out then peaked after 15 to 30 minutes.  It is more complex in the mouth and when opened up, reveals mouth filling old-school flavors.  I happily savored the last glass while I read a mystery book.

1979 De Forville, Barbaresco
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The cranberry with mixed red fruit nose reveals that the wine is very much alive.  In the mouth the flavors of leather and red fruit soon flesh out a bit.  This is an old-school wine with plenty of grip and acidity.  It becomes more complex in the mouth adding black fruit, wood notes, and an inky bit.  It wraps up with ethereal ripeness in the aftertaste.  **** Now but will last.

There are deep flavors in the 2013 Bosco, Dainero

Castiglion del Bosco produces several wines from Montalcino but also the flavorful Dainero from their vineyards in Riparbella.  Located near Bolgheri, Riparbella is also an area conducive to the Bordeaux varieties.  The 2013 Castiglion del Bosco, Dainero, Tuscany shows off as a successful blend of mostly Merlot with a touch of Sangiovese. It is ultimately quite tasty with the additional benefits of texture, almost lively acidity, and surprising depth.  It is a well-priced wine worth checking out.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Castiglion del Bosco, Dainero, Tuscany – $18
Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines.  This wine is a blend of  90% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then aged for 6 months in a combination of new and used oak.  Alcohol 13%.  Deep red flavors overlay minerals and bright black fruit.  There is a good amount of acidity, almost bordering on lively, with texture and tang hitting the back of the mouth.  The wine plays it close with structure and brightness to support further development.  Development is no doubt possible because the wine has surprising depth to the pervasive, blue and black fruit flavors. *** Now – 2022.

The lively 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba

Fratelli Alessandria has produced a Barbera d’Alba from “slimy limestone” soils since 1968, though the family has owned the winery since the 19th century.  The current 2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba is a lively, tangy wine that provides good fun.  After a small period of breathing it comes into its own offering flavors from tangy red fruit to blue and black by the finish.  There is structure for short-term development but the acidity will make you want to drink it this year.  This is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Fratelli Alessandria, Barbera d’Alba – $16
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 20 year old vines.  It was fermented stainless steel tanks then aged in a combination of stainless steel and cement.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is lively, tangy fruit, spices and mineral.  The acidity is immediately attractive.  The wine quickly opens up with air.  The bright entry brings tannins, red fruit, and a minerally tang then the wine morphs to a blue and black fruited middle.  *** Now – 2019.

Good Barbera from Vigne Marina Coppi

An interesting bottle of 2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, Marine, Colli Tortonesi has remained on my mind since tasted one year ago.  I finally tried the Barbera from the same producer.  The 2010 Vigne Marina Coppi, Castellania, Colli Tortonesi is from a very good vintage and despite several years of bottle age, it is only beginning to open up. While I recommend you cellar this for at least another year you may drink it on the second day.  It is still controlled but the flavors are deep and the addition of floral herbs with a hint of fat is enticing.  It is a fine wine at a good price and is still available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Vigne Marina Coppi, Castellania, Colli Tortonesi – $23
Imported by The Sorting Table.  This wine is 95% Barbera and 5% Freisa which was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The polish berry nose is followed by similar flavors in the mouth.  This wine of tart red and blue fruit has controlled weight and cedar towards the finish.  There is good flavor, floral herbs, a hint of fat, and plenty of balanced structure for development.  ***(*) 2018- 2025.