Posts Tagged ‘Lombardy’

Three old Italian wines from different vintages, producers, and regions

December 31, 2019 Leave a comment

Lou and I met up to try a trio of wines which, besides being old and Italian, had nothing in common.  Our first wine, 1967 Anton Lindner, Eppaner Justiner Auslese, Alto-Adige, was a dead-ringer on the nose for a Vintage or Tawny Port.  It is quite aromatic, suggesting strong potential but ultimately a let down in terms of flavor.  Our next two wines proved more interesting.

The 1968 Castello di Drugolo Lonato, Riviera del Garda Rosso Superiore, Lombardy is most likely a blend of Gropello and several other varieties including Barbera and Sangiovese.  I cannot find much specific to this wine other than the vineyards are located near Lake Garda.  It is an flavorful wine, from a vintage unknown to me.  It is attractively pungent on the nose with bloody, meaty, animale flavors.  Despite the tense start, it plumped up a bit becoming a bit short and soft by the finish.  I am curious to try better vintages (if they exist) of this wine.

How tickled I am to note the Cabernet Sauvignon like nature of the 1964 Azienda Agricola Ca Loredan-Gasparini, Montello e Colli Asolani Venegazzu Rosso, Veneto only to find it is one of the components.   I should also write that two years ago I enjoyed a more recent vintage from 2011.  Conte Loredan Gasparini planted his estate in Venegazzu with French varieties during the 1930s.  This bottling is not the Riserva dell Casa etichetta bianca, so the exact blend is not known to me but it is safe to write it has at least Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot with potential for Malbec and or Petit Verdot.  This is surely an early modern example of a successful Italian Bordeaux blend.  It could stand a bit more fruit at this age but that would not stop me from trying other vintages.

I remember commenting that my ideal wine, from this evening, would be a blend of the Drugolo with the Loredan-Gasparini.  I am kicking myself for not trying the actual blend!

1967 Anton Lindner, Eppaner Justiner Auslese, Alto-Adige
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A light, garnet-black color.  Sweet, vintage Port-like aromas with sweet fruit that become more like tawny Port with air.  Clean flavors in the mouth, still a fine texture of tannins and tart acidity.  The nose offers much more. * Drink up.

1968 Castello di Drugolo Lonato, Riviera del Garda Rosso Superiore, Lombardy
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12%.  A deep, good color of mahogany-garnet.  Slightly sweaty and pungent on the nose with dark soil.  A tense start with watering acidity carrying the wine through the drier, structured finish.  The tannins are attractive, lending texture.  With air the flavors turn bloody and meaty with an animale finish and chalky aftertaste.  It leaves fleeting notes of gentle, old wood.  **(*) Now but will last.

1964 Azienda Agricola Ca Loredan-Gasparini, Montello e Colli Asolani Venegazzu Rosso, Veneto
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 13%.  Aromas of earth with some sweet, wood box notes.  Structured with wood tannins yet fresh and juicy in the mouth.  The wine is in a framed style, like a structured Cabernet Sauvignon, but is still balanced by tart acidity and firm black cherry flavor.  With some air there is more lift to the red fruit.  **(*) Now but will last.

Thirst Quenching 2018 Le Sincette, Gropello

October 17, 2019 Leave a comment

If you are looking for a refreshing glass of wine to calm trembling arms from raking fall leaves then grab the 2018 Le Sincette, Gropello, Garda.  Even if you have not performed any physical activity and simply want some wine in the vein of a young Beaujolais, then grab a bottle as well.  The flavors are grapey, as if from young wines, but the wine is seriously made. Check it out!

2018 Le Sincette, Gropello, Garda – $19 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by La Storie Wines.  This wine is 100% Gropello Gentile fermented and aged for four months in small cement tanks and oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This is a juicy, young, thirst-quenching wine that is grapey yet serious.  The flavors are rounded with a grapey style throughout and a baking spiced finish.  An honest wine of good length.  **  Now.

Kicking Off Old Wine Week with Jenn, Lou, and Frank

It all started one fall morning when Lou texted me a picture of a pristine bottle of  1966 Parducci, Zinfandel.  I love to drink old wines and apparently to look at them as well.  There is that sense of curiosity and potential surprise from a good glass of old wine.   It certainly is a gamble but at an attractive price it is worth it.  Since I received Lou’s text we picked up a few various bottles but these were mostly Bordeaux and nothing prior to 1970.   Joe at MacArthur Beverages had recently bought a few wine cellars.  A number of these bottles ended up in the dump bin.  Through fortuitous timing I happened to be at the store when both the California and French bins were filled.  I knew a tasting was coming together when Andy pointed out the two bottles of 1960s Beaulieu Vineyards with their bottom neck fills.  To this I added other mature wines from California, Bordeaux, vintage Port, and Bordeaux.  The wines from California and the red Bordeaux did not come from the best storage conditions but they were priced right.  The Sauternes came from a different cellar with good storage condition.  With enough wines in hand for a tasting Jenn and I were recently joined by Lou and Frank (DrinkWhatYouLike) for a tasting of some of these old bottles.

Traffic was horrendous that evening so we got off to a bit of a late start.  The weather was turning a bit sketchy but we managed to have a glass of Ca’del Bosco on the deck along with some cheese.  Frank has a particular affinity for this estate since he has actually visited it and disgorged some wine.  I was not taking notes at this point for I was, quite frankly, thirsty.  I found the wine refreshing and with my glass finished I was ready to taste the old red wines.


NV Ca’del Bosco, Cuvee Prestige, Franciacorta  –
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero, and 10% Pinot Bianco blended with at least 20% reserve wine then aged for 28 months.  Disgorged Summer 2012.  Alcohol 12.5%.  From memory, fresh, approachable yellow fruit with citrus and some yeast.  Fine bubbles.  Very easy to drink.


I had stored both of the bottles laying down in the Euro Cave.  The sediment in both bottles had settled down but knowing these weren’t the strongest vintages I was worried about decanting them.  I briefly conferred with Lou and having decided to ignore the sediment,  I stood the bottles on end and begin to cut the tops of the capsules.  The top of both corks were in great shape.  The 1962 cork looked a bit more like old wood with just a little cellar mold.  The top of the 1967 cork looked pristine.  I extracted both corks with an Ah-So.  The 1962 cork smelled like very old wood with hints of tobacco.  It was marked “Portugal 196[2?]”.  The 1967 cork was marked “Beaulieu Rutherford, Calif” and its business end was much darker, almost black.  It smelled of old cork and vintage perfume.  A sniff of each bottle revealed them sound.  I had expected the 1962 to have already cracked up but instead it had promise!  It managed to drink well for some 10-15 minutes before it cracked up for the worst.  The 1967 had more fruit and was more robust, lasting almost one hour.  The nose remained interesting for quite some time longer.


1962 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium amber tawny.  The light nose immediately revealed cedar, roast earth, and dried leather.  Then a few minutes later it was scented with coffee and caramel.  In the mouth there was firm red fruit, acidity, and a fresh aftertaste.  It faded fast and after 10 minutes it begin to crack up and fall apart.  Past.


1967 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was closer to medium tawny with a bit more red.  The nose did open up to reveal deeper aromas as if there were more fruit.  In the mouth this rustic, old-school wine had more fruit but it faded and softened with air.  There was an interesting note.  It was more robust than the 1962 but its slow decline begin by hours end.  * Past.


Lou managed to remove the Parducci cork with a cork-screw.  The top of the cork was black and white with mold having protruded half a centimeter down the sides.  The cork itself was red and wrinkly looking.  It was faintly branded “Parducci” and was about the same length as the Beaulieu Vineyard corks.  It smelled of leather and the sea but fortunately the wine did not.  The 1966 vintage was stronger than 1962 and 1967 as evidenced by this bottle.  This wine was in great shape and even drank well the following night.  After getting over my initial surprise I knocked back a glass or two of this old quaffer.


1966 Parducci Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Mendocino County –
Fill half-centimeter above vintage label.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium tawny, the darkest yet.  The nose revealed deep, red fruit with some scent and old perfume.  In the mouth the fruit was firm with acidity.  It was spiced and again a note about the acidity.  It was not overly complex nor too engaging but it was completely drinkable.  There were still a bit of ripe tannins.  With air it took on dried leather in the mouth and firmed up.  ** Now.


With the 1962 Beaulieu having expired we needed something else to drink.  Lou thought the 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose to be a good choice.  I extracted the cork with an Ah-So without any issues.  It was a good centimeter longer than the previous three corks.  The cork and bottle smelled proper so I carefully double-decanted the wine to remove the sediment.  As I did so it gave off dark, earthy aromas.  The nose remained interesting but in the mouth the impression was of robustness and solidity.  I think it safe to write that this bottle suffered from its storage conditions but it must have been made of such stuffing to evolve to this point and probably could have continued as well.


1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien –
Imported by Chateau & Estate Wine Company.  This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age.  It was fermented in cement tanks then aged 16-18 months in new and used oak.  Top should fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The light to medium nose was robust and good with dark fruit and a little fresh menthol.  The mouth followed the nose but was not as expressive.  There was black and red fruit with tartness and acidity which was integrated throughout.  The flavors faded and thinned with air.  It had some textured ripe tannins.  A solid experience which left the impression that it was not the best bottle.  ** Now-2018.


Lastly it came time to open the Sauternes.  Lou brought the 1988 Raymond-Lafon from a parcel of 1988 Sauternes half-bottle he picked up for both of us.  He thought it a bit clunky upon first taste so I opened the 1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron.  These were very different types of wine.  The Raymond-Lafon was young with less residual sugar to the flavors of apples and berries.  The Haut-Bergeron was rich in flavor and feel with caramel and tobacco flavors.  I drank the remnants over a few nights.  The Raymond-Lafon remained a decent, enjoyable wine but never showed good depth.  At one point I forgot to recork the Haut-Bergeron.  I discovered the bottle with its remains several days later.  It still smelled fine so I tried it and it was fine!  It had taken on a little roughness from oxidation but otherwise it was still enjoyable.  I imagine well-corked examples will live for several decades.


1988 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age.  The fruit was pressed in a hydraulic press then barrel fermented for 3-5 weeks.  No sulphur was added to stop fermentation thus relying on antibiotic botryticine.  It was racked every three months and aged three years in 60% new oak.  Top shoulder fill.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a vibrant, medium amber.  The nose was fine but not too complex.  In the mouth there were drier, firmer flavors of apple and then mixed apple and berries.  It was very much alive and tasting young.  It was not too sweet from residual sugar and still had plenty of acidity.  While not that complex it had an expansive finish.  ** Now-2033.


1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium tawny.  The nose revealed more botrytis and cider aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were tawny with botrytis, good feel and texture, along with caramel and tobacco notes.  I think this richer wine has the residual sugar, acidity, and alcohol to last for many decades to come.  ** Now-2043.


I opened the leftover 1966 Parducci and 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose three nights later for our schedule had conspired against me revisiting them earlier.  We sat on the couch watching the television where Jenn was enjoying the 2010 Kermit Lynch, Cotes du Rhone.  I drank the 1966 and 1983 that night tickled that they were my table wine for one evening.


Cruase from Tenuta Mazzolino

I feel like my life is returning to normal after having experienced 11 days with 95+F temperatures and sweated throught the massive power outage.  In an effort to catch up on my tasting notes here is a final post for today.  We recently drank another Pinot Noir based wine from Tenuta Mazzolino. This time it was a sparkling rose named Cruase.  According to the website Cruase is a combination of “cru” and “rose” with an “a” in the middle. This is not a creation of Tenuta Mazzolino rather that of a Consortium of wineries.  Cruase is a recognized branding name (with a website here) that is subject to the regulations for Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico Rose DOCG.  As the only “natural rose from red grapes” with a DOCG this wine was created with hotels, restaurants, and catering in mind.  The first bottles were only released in 2009 so production is expected to increase in the coming years.  This is an easily drinkable rose and worth drinking if this is what you are looking for.  Personally, if you are interested in Italian Pinot Noir or the wines of Mazzolino I would spend $7 more to get the 2005 Noir Folon or for $3 more two bottles of the 2011 Terrazze.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

NV Tenuta Mazzolino, Mazzolino Rose, Cruase Oltrepo Pavese- $23
Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for 18 months on the lees after which is was manually riddled.  The color is a light to medium orange with dried roses.  In the mouth there were very forward bubbles which were prickly before bursting to oblivion.  There was dry red fruit which had an initial ripe hint before becoming dry in the middle.  There were notes of tangy strawberry and yeast.  ** Now.

Lou and I Pull Some Corks

Lou and I gathered this past week to taste an uncoordinated selection of wines.  Surprisingly we both opened up 2005 Pinot Noirs and were separately convinced we knew which bottle was ours!  Except for our Alsatian wine, this was a satisfying group of wines to taste and drink.

The Chateau d’Orschwihr was interesting to taste from a tactile perspective but was otherwise not worth drinking. The Stepping Stone rose strikes the balance of being rich and refreshing at the same time.  I found myself drinking a few small pours before we sat down to our tasting.  Make sure your bottle is not too cold and that you consume it on the first night.  Many thanks to Craig Camp for providing the sample.  The Carlo Hauner has good components but is in a simpler, primary state right now.  I would cellar it for another year or two.  The Tenuta Mazzolino is entering maturity with the nose in a more advanced state than the mouth.  While it is easily drinkable now I suspect it will be even better after several years.  It is attractively priced.  My first ever Sea Smoke was a treat.  It needed an hour or so of air to take shape and deliver its lovely goods.  While it tastes young compared to the Mazzolino I would not hesitate to drink a bottle.

2005 Chateau d’Orschwihr, Pinot Blanc, Bollenberg, Alsace – $12
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc sourced from 50 year old vines.  The color was light to medium auburn yellow.  The light to medium nose revealed ripe, fallen apples, and some oxidized notes.  In the mouth there was a good mouthfeel with noticeable residual sugar.  The flavors were simple with nuts and mushroom juice.  There was still good acidity, pebbly texture, and filling aftertaste.  * Past.

2011 Cornerstone, Stepping Stone, Corallina,  Syrah Rose, Napa Valley – $20
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Oak Knoll District.  The fruit was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel, then aged for five months in French oak.  This was a medium copper-rose color.  The light to medium ripe nose revealed strawberries and good red fruit.  In the mouth there was higher-toned red fruit followed by sweet spices.  It starts with some body at first then develops a good mouthfeel and borders on the richer side of roses.  The finish is dry and a little spicy.  This was satisfying and quenching to drink on the first night.  Sample provided by winery.  *** Now-2013.

2009 Carlo Hauner, Hiera, Sicily – $20
Imported by Bacchanal Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of Calabrese, Alicante, and Nocera sourced from volcanic soils.  The varietals are separately fermented in stainless steel then blended and aged for three months in oak barriques.  The nose revealed higher-toned, focused, and simpler aromas.  In the mouth the tart but good red fruit leaned towards an orange citrus sweetness.  There is some ripeness and with time flavors of dried cranberry and black cherry comes out.  There are sweet, lip-coating spices, finely grained, drying tannins, and a touch of candied flavors in the finish.  *** 2014-2017.

2005 Tenuta Mazzolino, Noir Folon, Oltrepo Pavese – $30
Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Piont Noir which was aged for 12 months in barrique.  There was a medium strength, aromatic nose of ripe fruit, minerals, and wood box which smelled of maturity.  With air there was sweet, dried craisins which were lovely to smell.  In the mouth the flavors were more concentrated than the nose with red fruit which was slow to expand but still a lovely follow on.  With time there were black fruit flavors which left a delicate, ethereal coating on the lips.  There was a low-lying aftertaste of black fruit, tang, and a touch of earth.  ***(*) Now-2020.

2005 Sea Smoke, Pinot Noir, Southing, Santa Rita Hills
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was destemmed then aged for 16 months in 65% new and 35% used French oak.  The color was a light+ ruby with a hint of garnet.  The nose revealed dried herbs along with cool blue and black fruit.  At first the wine almost let loose with ripe blue and black fruit.  Clearly a Pinot Noir this was the most mouthfilling wine of the evening.  There was lots of body and good pebbly texture.  With time it became focused with beautifully layered fruit underpinned by lively spices on the tongue.  There was a spicy note in the finish and an incensed aftertaste.  **** Now-2017.

“There is a Sort of Wine here…that is called Aromatick Wine”

May 23, 2012 1 comment

Vineyard In Valtellina, Image from Original Lou (flickr)

Conti Sertoli Salis is a young winery with an old history in an ancient wine growing area.  The winery is located in the Valtellina area found in Lombardy which is in the north central portion of Italy.  Located south of the Swiss Alps and just north of Lake Como, this region has been cultivated with vines beginning with the Romans.  Over the centuries the steep land has been terraced on both side of the Adda River valley.  The majority of the terracing took place during the 18th century when population increases led to increased demand for wine.  Today there are over 50 km of terraced vineyards.

Palazzo Salis, Image from giacomoraffo (flickr)

Conti Sertoli Salis was created in 1989 and located at Palazzo Salis, Tirano.  Today the 16th century wine cellars beneath the palazzo have been renovated and a modern winery has been built nearby.  The original winery consists of three parts: the tinera which is the room containing the vats for fermentation, the involt which are the vaulted cellars where the carats (small casks) are aged, and the nevera which is the cold storage room.  The nevera was used for the storage of food and wine.  Today it is used to store bottles of wine for there is a natural temperature of 46 Farenheit!

Bishop Burnet, Engraved by Robert Graves, 1837, Image from Andy Brii (flickr)

The wines of this region have been praised for ages including by Virgil and Pliny.  More recently this region and indeed the wines of Madam Salis were detailed by Bishop Gilbert Burnet.  In 1685 and 1686 Bishop Burnet traveled through France, Switzerland, and Germany.  Both a respected theologian and historian his detailed account provides not just an interesting perspective on the region but on the production and taste of its wines.  As we see in this passage, the nevera still in use at Palazzo Salis, were quite common in the 17th century.

On both Sides of the River, the Town, and the Gardens belonging to it, cover the whole Bottom, that lies between the Hills; and at the Roots of the Mountains they dig create Cellars, and Grottoes, and strike a Hole about a Foot Square, ten or twelve Foot into the Hill, which all Summer long blows a fresh Air into the Cellar; so that the Wine of those Cellars drinks almost as cold as if it were in Ice;

Bishop Burnet’s travel through Switzerland, Italy, some parts of Germany, &c. By Gilbert Burnet (bp. of Salisbury), Published by J. Watts, Dublin, 1725.

The Salis family have a long history producing and bottling wine.  In addition to the physical wine cellar there are 17th century documents on the provision of wine for the Court of Leopoldo I of Hapsburg.  More recently, there are certificates indicating the wines were bottled as early as 1861 with existing bottles in the family cellar bearing the Salis name, dated 1890 and 1891.  Today the winery uses a mixture of modern and traditional methods.  The wine featured in today’s post is produced in a similar manner employed by the Salis family centuries earlier.  Again, Bishop Burnet provides a detailed description.

There is a Sort of Wine here and in the Valteline, which I never heard named any where else, that is called Aromatick Wine, and as the Taste makes one think it must be a Composition (for it tastes like a Strong-water drawn of Spices) so its Strength being equal to a weak Brandy, disposes one to believe that it cannot be a natural Wine, and yet it is the pure Juice of the Grape, without any Mixture.  The Liquor being singular, I informed myself particularly of the Way of preparing it:  The Grapes are red, tho’ the Wine is white; they let the Grapes hang on the Vines till November, that they are extream ripe, then they carry them to their Garrets, and set them upright on their Ends by one another for two or three Months; then they pick all the Grapes, and throw away those in which there is the least Appearance of Rottenness, so that they press none but found Grapes.  After they are pressed, they put the Liquor into an open Vessel, in which it throws up a Scum, which they take off twice a Day, and when no more Scum comes up, which according to the Difference of the Season is sooner or later (for sometimes the Scum comes no more after eight Days, and at other times it continues a Fortnight,) then they put it into a close Vessel.  For the first Year it is extream sweet and luscious; but at the End of the Year, they pierce it a little higher than the Middle of the Vessel, almost two Thirds from the Bottom, and drink it off tillit cometh so low, and then every Year they fill it up anew;  Once a Year in the Month of March it ferments, and cannot be drunk till that is over, which continues a Month, but their other Wine ferments not at that time.  Madam Salis, a Lady of that Country, who entertained us three Days with a Magnificence equal to what can be done in London or Paris, had Wine of this Compoisition, that was forty Years old and was so very strong, that one could hardly drink above a Spoonful, and it tasted high of Spicery, tho’ she assured me there was not one Grain of Spice in it, nor of any other Mixture whatsoever.  Thus the Heat that is in this Wine, becomes a Fire, and distills iit self, throwing up the more spirituous Parts of it to the Top of the Hogshead.

Bishop Burnet’s travel through Switzerland, Italy, some parts of Germany, By Gilbert Burnet (bp. of Salisbury), Published by J. Watts, Dublin, 1725.

Within Valtellina there are eight districts.  This fruit for this wine is sourced from the Sassella and Grumello districts.  Sassella produces the fullest bodied wines which are slow to mature and develop aromas of hazelnuts and spice.  Grumello is known to produce wines with aromas of strawberries and faded roses.  The label for this wine bears Con Rinforzo Di Uve Appassite.  Some of the harvested grapes are left to dry on mantavola (planks of reeds) in lofts for three weeks.  The dried grapes are then added to the fresh must in a process called Rinforzo.  The reinforced wine is then aged for 2 years in small oak casks.  This wine is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2004 Conti Sertoli Salis, Corte della Meridiana, Riserva, Valtellina Superiore – $26
Imported by Grappoli Imports.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo.  It is a light garnet color.  The subtle nose revealed tart red fruit and wood notes.  In the mouth there are hard cherry flavors, some ripeness at the front, along with minerals.  There is a straight-through delivery with black and red fruits.  The ripe-ish tannins integrate well with the acidity.  The aftertaste has delicately lifted, sweet spices and lingering acidity.  This is drinking well now for there is a fading quality to the fruit which suggests this will not gain in complexity.  ** Now-2017.