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Outstanding Bottles of Giacosa and Conterno

December 2, 2016 Leave a comment

At the end of October I was fortunate to attend an Italian tasting largely focused in on the wines of Bruno Giacosa and Giacomo Conterno.  No tasting of Barolo should be without a mature example and this one began with a very fine 1967 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo.  Double-decanted midday it continued to slowly develop in the glass.  I can only write that I love the aroma and flavor of this type of wine.  Also with attractive maturity, the 1978 Carlo Boffa & Figli, Barbaresco Riserva Vigna Vitalotti is meatier and earthier but leaves the impression of being tired.

The youthful white-labeled pair of 1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Gallina di Neive and 1997 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive did not prepare me for the outstanding red-labels.  At 20 years of age the 1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Asili is beginning to move past its youthful stage.  It is a powerful, intense wine which never takes away from the beautiful flavors.  Younger in age and profile, the 2001 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja promises a great future.  There are primary aromas and flavors right now but everything is in place for slow development.

Completely different in nature the 1997 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino, with moderate concentration and complexity, acted as a segway to the outstanding 2000 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino.  This is a highly refined, ethereally flavored wine which fills the mouth.  With air it fleshes out to provide seamless pleasure.  What a tasting!

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1980 Stony Hill, Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  Looks like a copper-orange wine.  There is a complex nose which is a touch maderized.  In the mouth is focused, driven flavors that are quite lively and even sport some body but the wine is clearly not correct.  Not Rated.

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2010 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes
Imported by Wilson Daniels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The flint aromas make the nose stand out.  In the mouth the precise, lemon fruit mixes with flint and smoke.  This is a persistent, tart wine with lime flavors and a long, finely textured finish. Impressive now.  **** Now – 2026.

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2005 Domaine des Croix, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
A Becky Wasserman selection imported by Wine Cellars LTD. Alcohol 13.5%.  The subtle nose is a touch earthy and lactic.  A significantly rounder body is backed by glycerin.  Flavors of lemon and lime take on subtle baking spices.  It improves with air, filling the mouth with flavors and the sensation of an oily, luxurious body. ***(*) Now – 2021.

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2010 Lucien Le Moine, Corton Blanc Grand Cru
Imported by Barrel One Selections.  This is aromatic with sweet fruit and floral spices.  The tart start is focused yet offers weight.  It is almost puckering with a wood hint, floral flavors throughout, and smoke in the finish.  It is almost spicy. **** Now – 2026.

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2005 Etienne Sauzet, Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  A slight darker color hints at the inevitable.  Shame!

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1967 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo
Imported by suitcase.  The nose is subtly smokey.  In the mouth are lively, fresh flavors that are initially linear and focused but expand by the finish.  There is bottle aged complexity as this wine is beyond fruit.  I like the blend of old leather and weighty, animale flavors that develop with air. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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1978 Carlo Boffa & Figli, Barbaresco Riserva Vigna Vitalotti
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  The meaty nose is good and opens up a bit with air.  In the mouth this is grippy with tart red fruit, and an animale nature.  It builds subtle ripeness but is ultimately leaner and not as flavorful.  *** Now.

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1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Gallina di Neive
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 14%.  The fruitier nose is attractive with complex bitters-like aroma.  This grippy wine starts with dry tannins and  young fruit but it has very attractive grip, long taste, and a haunting personality. ***(*) Now-2031.

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1997 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive
Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 13.5%.  The darker nose is more subtle.  This is a rounder wine with less acidity and tannins, despite its youthful flavor.  It shows more balance at this time.  The complex red and black fruit are supported by some firm, underlying structure. ***(*) Now – 2026.

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2001 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja
Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 14%.  The aromas step out of the glass, primarily exuding violets.  This is very young in the mouth, powerful with very fine tannins.  A core of blackberry fruit comes out.  This clearly has a strong future ahead. ****(*) Now – 2036

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1996 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Riserva Asili
Imported by Premier Cru. Alcohol 14%.  The nose is concentrated and strong with fruity aromas of licorice.  The rounded start is powerful with intense structure and fine, grippy tannins.  The flavor, though, is undeniably beautify with density, and some bacon fat.  The liquidity of the wine is bound with the acidity. ****(*) Now – 2031.

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1997 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14%.  The flavors are of lighter berries and almost roast earth.  The wine remains firm with fine, strong tannins.  There is structure to last but the flavor concentration does not seem to be there. **** Now – 2026.

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2000 Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva Monfortino
Imported by Vieux Vins. Alcohol 14%.  The young grapey nose makes way to a smooth entry of mouth filling, black, ethereal flavors.  The power of this wine builds with time becoming fleshier too.  Lovely and very classy. ****(*) Now – 2026.

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2012 Donnhoff, Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Eiswein, Nahe
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports. Alcohol 7.5%.  This, bright, electric wine is noticeable for its residual sugar and almost effervescent sensation on the tongue.  The spices soon mix with sweet grapefruit and sugar.  Young and a bit hard to drink at this stage. **** 2026-2046.

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2002 Alois Kracher, Scheurebe Trockenbeeren Auslese #6 Zwischen den Seen, Neusiedlersee
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports. Alcohol 8.5%.  Like liquid amber, this aromatic wine is lovely with an apricot hint that is more fresh than dried.  It adds baking spices and cinnamon.  Weighty with good integration of sweetness.  **** Now – 2026.

Pleasing Red Wine from Germany and Austria

I started tasting this trio of wines with a glass of the 2008 Gernot Heinrich, Zweigelt.  Jenn had picked the first wine and in pouring my glass, commented that it was good.  It was and though maturing it was in a younger state than the 2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent we recently tasted with Lou.  You may read about that wine in Tasting Austrian and Italian Wines With Lou.  It drank best on the first night when the fruit, mature notes, and acidity had good tension.  It softened out on the second night, when I would give it **, so I recommend you remove the glass stopper then share the entire bottle with friends.  The 2010 Sepp Moser, Zweigelt Hedwighof is young with more pepper notes, tannins, and dryer flavors.  I would personally recommend waiting to drink this until the New Year but the perfumed fruit and potpourri flavors are compelling now.  Having run out of Austrian wines I opened the 2007 Weingut Knipser, Gaudenz.  Wow, what a surprise!  The maturity immediately reminded me of a hypothetical Bordeaux blend.  I see no reason to hold back on this wine, just decant it for an hour or two.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Weingut Knipser, Gaudenz, Pfalz – $20
Imported by Magellan Wine Imports.  This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Dornfelder mixed with other red varietals.  It was aged in older barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  The initially sharper nose rounded out with air to reveal small red berries and mature aromas.  In the mouth there was a mixture of red cherry fruit and underlying mature flavors.  There were wood box flavors, citric red fruit, and some apparent structure.  The wine was almost like a cool Pinot Noir and Bordeaux blend.  The wine develops over a couple of air with gentle ripe flavors on the tongue and lips, along with acidity in the back of the throat.  *** Now-2016.

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2008 Gernot Heinrich, Zweigelt, Burgenland – $16
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt sourced from vines planted in 1985 at the Heideboden vineyard at 430-500 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation, and was aged for 6-8 months in French and Slavonian oak vats and barriques.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The light nose was of mixed red and black fruit, eventually turn towards ripe cranberry and strawberry.  Good aromas.  In the mouth there were good, focused flavors, some density which was coupled with the acidity.  The flavors were a touch tart and juicy in the finish.  The tannins were mostly resolved but there was a touch of soft structure and maybe a mature hint. Best on first night. *** Now-2014.

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2010 Sepp Moser, Zweigelt Hedwighof, Neusiedlersee – $18
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Zweigelt sourced from the Hedwighof vineyard.  The fruit was destemmed then both fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%  The nose was subtle with perfumed pepper aromas gently surrounding blue fruit.  In the mouth there were peppery red and black fruit, a little ripeness towards the front before taking on a dry nature.  Then the ripe red became a touch perfumed, moving on to potpourri flavors in the finish.  There were fine, drying tannins and young flavors in the back of the mouth.  **(*) 2014-2016.

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