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Posts Tagged ‘Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews’

Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013

The gray weather parted allowing a small group of us to taste through a range of Barbera on my back deck. Unspoken etiquette ensured we had bottles of Champagne and white wine to occupy ourselves as the bottles of Barbera were opened and I fussed with the grill. Both starter bottles were excellent. Having now tasted NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs I can state that I want to drink it again. This is surprisingly complex Champagne with frothy bubbles and balance such that it should be drunk up right now. If you like mature Champagne go buy several bottles. The 2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes is comparatively younger in profile with its dense flavors of nuts and tropical fruit. It is a lot of wine.

We began the Barbera tasting with a trio of four old wines, one of which was bagged. My favorite is the 1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco. Some did not like it which meant I was left with the lion’s share of old-school sweaty aromas and sweet, concentrated, silky fruit. From the same vintage I also liked the 1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva which with one “b” is one of Italy’s smallest DOCs from Monferrato and not to be confused with the estate from the south of Florence. The brighter fruit and blood are gently delivered making for a different expression of Barbera. This brightness could be attributed to the wine containing up to 10% Freisa and Grignolino.  Our oldest bottle of 1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera is a survivor for I drank a glass of leftovers the next night with only slightly diminished pleasure. It is bright, tart, and bit acidic making it more of a curiosity. The brown-bagged 1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera is a wine that is simply too old.

Our next two bottles were flawed. It is a shame because the 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba has the potential to be very good. There is not telling what the 1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba should be like.

In young territory the 2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti is young primary and attractively floral. In contrast the 2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti sports heft, brawn, and good flavor. It is one to age for many more years. Also promising is the elegant and impeccably balanced 2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba. The last bottle of 2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti proved to be the youngest and most modern wine. It is a good, articulated wine but not of my preferred style.  Based on these wines I would like to repeat the tasting but focus in on 1990s and older.

NV Demiere Ansiot, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs
Becky Wasserman selection imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The nose begins with a yeast hint then toast and apple orchard aromas which together make for a very satisfying nose. In the mouth are racy flavors of delicate berries, definitely fruity, and frothy bubbles. The fizz is not hard rather it is subtle. This is an excellent wine for drinking now, it is complex with baking spices and a clean finish.  **** Now.

2007 Red Newt, Gewurztraminer, Curry Creek Vineyard, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 14.7%. The color is bright and golden with a green hint. The flavors mix nuts with tropical fruit with a tilt towards sweet flavors. This fine, dense wine has a minerally middle.  Good stuff! **** Now – 2020.

1964 Poderi di Luigi Einaudi, Barbera
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose is musky at first morphing to old leather as it cleans up and with air adds in cinnamon. The wine itself is earthy with bright acidity and a clean flavor profile of tart cherry and cranberry red fruit. It is a little tired towards the finish but the tart fruit persists in the aftertaste. ** Now.

1974 Angelo Papagni, Barbera (brown bagged mystery wine)
Alcohol 12.5%. A garnet color but one sniff and taste tell that this wine is way past prime. Not Rated.

 

1967 Cattaneo Adorno Giustiniani, Castello di Gabiano Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. This wine is probably a blend of 90%-95% Barbera with the rest Freisa and Grignolino.  Alcohol 11%-14%. The nose smells of blood. In the mouth this is a bright, forward wine with nice bright acidity and up-front grip. It sports an old-school gentleness and softness. Notes of polished wood eventually come out. The blood returns in the aftertaste. *** Now but will last.

1967 Casa Vinicola Antonio Vallana, Barbera del Cantina di Bacco, Colline Novaresi
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose is old-school, sweaty and sweet. In the mouth the ripe fruit is sweet with concentration. This silky, smooth wine gains focus and length with air. There is fine texture and weight to the core of fruit which is surrounded by sweaty notes and wood. **** Now but will last.

1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno, Conca Tre Pile, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 11%-14%. Sadly cooked on the nose. In the mouth though are gobs of mouth filling fruit with a fine, ripe texture from the tannins. There are tart red fruit flavors in the finish. Correct bottles should be quite good. Not Rated.

1999 Elio Grasso, Vigna Martina, Barbera D’Alba
Alcohol 14.5%. Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2005 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The nose is still young and clean with finely scented aromas of violets. Still youthful in the most this primary wine is fresh with watering acidity. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa, La Bogliona, Barbera D’Asti
Alcohol 14%. The color is darker with a purple tinge. The nose sports more heft to the aromas. In the mouth the flavors are brawnie and matched by additional tannins. There is dark red fruit, rounded feel, and a good personality. This will age for a long time. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2007 G. D. Vajra, Barbera D’Alba Superiore
Imported by The Country Vintner. Alcohol 14.5%. It is hard to get past the over-ripe, full-bore fruit. The wine becomes tangy with serious weight.  ** Now.

 

2008 Bartolo Mascarello, Barbera D’Alba
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. An elegant nose moves on to bright red fruit over a black fruit foundation. This wine is balanced with grippy personality, texture and some ink. The structure is finely integrated with the fruit. ***(*) Now – 2027.

2013 Coppo, Pomorosso, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Folio Wine Partners. Alcohol 14.5%. This is an articulated, young, modern wine that is not without attraction. Not really my style but I can appreciate it.  *** Now – 2025.

2000 Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets

I recently ended a day of reading early 18th century Dutch and English manuscripts with a bottle of mature Cotes du Rhone Villages.  Decanting off the fine sediment of the 2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets, Cotes du Rhone Villages is all that is required to prepare the bottle for tasting.  It immediately offers up berry cobbler, old leather and spices.  I happen to be a big fan of berry cobbler so this wine has a flavor that I enjoy.  It would be a notch more satisfying but for the alcohol poking through in the end.

2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets, Cotes du Rhone Villages
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre which is both fermented and aged in concrete. Alcohol 14.5%.  Rounded maturing aromas are underpinned by blue fruit.  In the mouth are blue fruits and lipstick which tastes like a mature blend.  There is softness from age, old leather, cinnamon, and berry cobble with a mix of orange acidity.  It is mouth filling with a soft marshmallow density.  There is a slight distraction from some heat poking through.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

Mature white dinner wines in Seattle

On an increasingly sunny evening, over goat cheese, a dinner of ravioli with butter sauce, and a Cardamon infused cake, I enjoyed three bottles of wine white.  The wines were served by a new friend who inherited his interest in wine from his father.  It is for him that I opened the 1979 De Foreville Barbaresco at my house not too long ago.  Last week we met up in Seattle for a dinner with mature white wines.

The bottles we drank were purchased upon release.  All of the wines he selected are drinking at peak maturity right now, though the Sauternes will clearly last.  The 2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau is more expressive on the nose but when I revisited it at the end of the evening I was pleased by the evolution of its mouthfeel.  The 1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos is a nice surprise because I drink very little old white Burgundy.  I thought it interesting how this wine still has some fruit and weight.  We wrapped the dinner up with a bottle of 1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes.  We remarked on the darker color, perhaps more advanced than other Sauternes, but the wine in the mouth is good.  It is a good wine to progress too because it comes across as only moderately sweet which makes it easy to drink.  When I returned home I checked a bottle I have, from a completely different source, and it is similar in color.  Stay tuned for reports on future bottles drunk together!  Note, it was a casual evening so I only jotted down my impressions after the meal.

2001 Weingut Robert Weil, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau
Alcohol 10.5%.  A good maturing nose which remains expressive.  The flavors are front loaded becoming drier by the middle.  The wine is more about mouthfeel which continues to develop over the stones and minerals.  Drink up.

1986 Domaine Long Depaquit, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Imported by Asherton Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  It is a beautiful, golden straw color.  The aromas and flavors are in fine shape and any hints of maturity are only reflected in the color and a bit in flavor.  It remains focused with a touch of dense weight to the white and yellow fruit over some stone notes.

1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
A darker amber color but the wine is in good shape.  The nose is gentle, smelling of apricots.  In the mouth it comes across as moderately sweet due to the balancing acidity and glycerin infused body.  With air orange peel and baking spices come out and the length improves.  In a completely balanced state right now.

2015 Domaine Georges Vernay, Syrah De Mirbaudie

The 2015 Domaine Georges Vernay, Syrah De Mirbaudie,Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes is a strong effort by Christine Vernay.  What I like is that it is not overdone for this vintage, instead it is forward, and it retains a clear Northern Rhone personality.  I would drink this over the next several years.

2015 Domaine Georges Vernay, Syrah De Mirbaudie,Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes  – $22
Imported by Simon “N” Cellars.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 20 year old vines located adjacent to Condrieu. Alcohol 12.8%.  This floral, light black fruit flavors are supported by minerals underneath.  There is a controlled vein of fat and some fine tannins with grip.  With air a ripe, orange citrus note comes out in the finish.  *** Now – 2022.

Rhone lovers should drink the 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck

The 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley is an enjoyable wine that is the result of is a project between Massaya, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, and Dominique Hébrard of Bordeaux who formerly made wine at Chateau Cheval Blanc. The results in the glass are quite enjoyable.  I find blue and black fruit flavors delivered in a fresh manner with attractive texture from the ripe tannins.  It is in a great spot right now so why wait?

2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley – $20
Imported by Winebow Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah that was aged for 18 months in French oak vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine is minerally with ripe blue and black fruit flavors.  The grip and vigor is immediately noticeable.  The wine conveys a sense of freshness, not quite crisp, with ripe textured tannins balanced by acidity that adds to the mouth feel.  It is very much a wine to drink now.  *** Now – 2020.

Grenache Blanc from California

This past week we tried three bottles of California Grenache Blanc from three different regions.  The 2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley  is a good value.  You first notice salinity and stone dust which is soon followed by fruit and  a mouth-coating aftertaste.  This wine responds well to air and some warmth which will make you pleased with the wine and $20 price.

Two of the wines have an interesting connection in that the vineyard which sources the Three Clicks fruit is planted with cuttings that came from Tablas Creek.  The 2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles is locked down.  I kept an open bottle in my refrigerator for a week and the wine barely changed.  Right now it is evocative of lemons but it needs to shake off its firmness before it should be drunk.  On the other hand the 2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County is expressive.  I have enjoyed tasting the last several vintages of this wine at the annual MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting and the current released vintages is just as good.  You taste the white fruit and the stones but it is crispness that captures my attention.  If you can only afford one bottle then grab the Three Clicks.  Add in the Priest Ranch if you want to compare wines.

 

2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley – $20
Alcohol 14.8%.  This saline and stone dust infused wine has a dense start followed by ripe, white fruit flavors in the middle, and a pervasive, mouth-coating aftertaste.  It is well structured and balanced for further life.  *** Now – 2020.

2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles – $30
Alcohol 14.4%. Tasted over several nights this wine remained largely unevolved.  The flavors of white fruit, lemon, and baking spices are supported by lemon-like acidity, fine texture, and some density.  It adds a lifted, floral note in the finish.  This will last! **(*) Now – 2032.

2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County – $28
Alcohol 14.3%.  There is a slightly weighty yet crisp start with good white fruit that overlays chalk.  The liveliness makes you return for another glass. *** Now – 2020.

A saline 1990 Longue-Toque, Gigondas

I cut my teeth on Gigondas when it first came to bottles of mature Rhone wine.  Though I have since been seduced by the complexities of Chateauneuf du Pape, I still get excited by old bottles of Gigondas.  At the time of the 1990 vintage, Domaine de Longue-Toque was run by Serge Chapalain the son of Roger Chapalain, who was once the Mayor of Gigondas. Roger Chapalain founded the estate in 1962 building a reputation for supple wines rather than rustic. Throughout the 1980s Serge Chapalain tried to bring back more weight into the wine than the vintages he produced under his father, making them more in line with the firmness of the region.  He blended mostly Grenache with some Syrah, Cinsault, and a bit of Mourvedre and Clairette.  Time in cask was limited to a year on average.  These efforts paid off for Robert Parker found the 1989 and 1990 vintages the best of the 1980s.

I, of course, did not read about this wine ahead of time so I had my doubts.  Since I have recently drunk both robust and bland Gigondas from the 1998 vintage, I was suspicious about even older bottles.  I popped and poured the 1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas to find it in fine shape.  There is a particularly attractive saline component, garrigue, and good fruit.  Some of that trademark suppleness might remain as a round feeling.  I would say the wine is just beginning to decline.  The estate was sold off in 1995 after which three cuvees were produced.  If you see a bottle of 1989 or 1990 you might as well try them as they reflect the best efforts of Serge Chapalain.

1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light to medium cherry garnet.  There is a distinctly saline flavor to the rounded start.  Initial flavors of cedar box and garrigue are followed by building weight coupled with an inky note and an ethereal aftertaste.  This wine is in fine shape with ripe fruit throughout that with air oscillates with dry, firm, red fruit.  It is starting to show its age but the slightly tart red fruit and fresh plums bring back confident.  *** Now.