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Posts Tagged ‘Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews’

A Good Bottle of 1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port

January 25, 2020 Leave a comment

I opened a bottle of 1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port a few weeks ago, inspired by the then upcoming Dessert Wine Tasting of the Wine and Food Society of New York City. What a good treat this turned out to be!  I found this bottle particularly balanced with a surprisingly youthful berry component.  Of course all of the components from age were there as well: spices, wood, and leather.  This wine is at its peak of drinking.  Given how well it responded to air, I would imagine it will drink at the level across the decade.

1985 Warre’s, Vintage Port
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 20%.  A light to medium mahogany color on the rim with a cherry core.  Aromas of sweet custard with spice soon integrate with even more baking spices.  Sweet flavors of black and red fruit quickly become tactile by a fine texture.  It is firmer in the finish with notes of fine old wood and damp leather.  With air it develops rounded berry fruit, evocative of a youthful state, cool acidity, and a sweet, unctuous finish.  Good length with a touch of spirit eventually coming out.  ***(*) now – 2030.

1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes

January 24, 2020 Leave a comment

An advertisement for Chateau Rieussec placed in New Orleans during 1851.

Chateau Rieussec was purchased by Albert Vuillier in 1971. He replanted many of the vineyards, which he acquired in a decayed state, and began purchasing new wood for aging the wine. The vineyards were planted to 89% Semillon, 8% Sauvignon, and 3% Muscadelle. For the 1983 vintage, nearly 50% of the wine would have been aged in new oak for 18-20 months.

Lafite-Rothschild purchased the estate in 1984 which explains why my bottle features a capsule marked Domaines Barons de Rothschild.  With their arrival came a cryo-extractor in 1987 followed by a pneumatic press and air-conditioning for the chai in 1989.  I purchased this bottle of 1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes nearly ten years ago at MacArthur Beverages.  With a fill in the neck, it is in its prime of life.  It improved across the second night, offering rich yet tense flavors.  The strong 1983 vintage marks a bit of a re-birth for Sauternes and for Rieussec, a transition to a modern age.

1983 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
A little pungent on the nose with sweet aromas of dried fruits.  In the mouth are fresh flavors of tangerine with hints of lemon.  It is medium-bodied with a rounded nature that is not too sweet as the acidity makes it tense and tart on the sides of the tongue.  There are hints of gentle spices and caramel. With air it takes on a black tea note and spicy grip at the end.  **** Now – 2030.

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.

A Fine Surprise: 1974 Trefethen Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon

December 30, 2019 Leave a comment

The Trefethen family moved to Napa Valley in 1968 where they acquired several small farms to form a single wine estate.  After the inaugural vintage of 1973, Trefethen Vineyards soon became known as a small producer of fine wines.  Thanks to Carole Hicke’s interview of Janet and John Trefethen in 1997, we know just how remarkable it is that the 1974 Trefethen Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley I recently enjoyed remains a fine wine to this day.

Janet and John Trefethen planned their marriage around their very first crush in 1973.  John had made wine on a private scale in 1971 and 1972 but the 1973 vintage, produced at the 19th century Eschol Ranch winery, was their first commercial effort.  Built in 1886, the winery had last been used for storage in the 1940s and for producing wine even further back, perhaps the 1920s.  When the Trefethen’s purchased the property in 1968, the winery still had dirt floors and stood in the middle of 280 acres of mass producing grape vines.  For the first vintage, they cemented over part of the ground floor, brought in a press and had storage for some 2,000 gallons of wine.  Curious enough, Domaine Chandon was located on the second floor!

There were just 25 wineries in Napa Valley when the Trefethen’s arrived.  Between 1968 and 1973, they replanted the vineyard.  For the 1973 vintage, they produced 2,000 cases of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  In 1974, they added in Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  1974 turned out to be an excellent vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon and it  caught the eye of Harry Waugh.  He purchased a stock of it to be served on the Queen Elizabeth II.

This bottle had good fill and deep color.  In the glass it was in fresh condition, developing with air and proving to be an enjoyable drink.  It is rounded and balanced, confidently mature with bottle aged flavors yet still offering cherry fruit.  This is a remarkable achievement given that this is the first release of Cabernet Sauvignon.

1974 Trefethen Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  An aromatic wine, herbaceous with a touch of roast.  Fresh in the mouth with a rounded edge to the flavors which are carried by fresh, watering acidity.  It is saline with old wood notes mixing with cherry fruit and baking spices.  It is quite solid with air for it proves satisfying and does not crack up.  *** Now but will last.

A pair of 1960s Oleggio and Beccaro from Alto Piemonte

December 28, 2019 Leave a comment

On a dark December night, Sudip and I tried two old bottles of wine from the Novara-Vercelli hills of Alto Piemonte, home to such wines as Gattinara and Ghemme.  I can find little on the 1961 Cantina Sociale Cooperativa di Oleggio, Vino Vecchia Collina Riserva.  It probably has a base of Spanna with some amount of Bonarda and Vespolina, all three of which were certainly blended together for our second wine.  We know more about the 1964 Armando Beccaro, Vino Mesolone since this Mesolone was solely made by Armando Beccaro and son, of whom Mario Soldati recounted his visit in “Vino al Vino.”

The Oleggio has promise with its attractive and pervasive earthy note which matches its vinous nature.  Perhaps in a vintage like 1964, if it sports more fruit, then the acidity will be balanced out.  For now this is a solid table wine to consume with a meal.  The Beccaro opens up with air.  Regarded as a full-bodied wine in its youth, the dense, sweet flavors of fruit compote come out, anchoring the wine with pleasure as wood-box notes and spices add to the pleasure.  It is a successful blend, showing a profile different than that of pure Spanna, and definitely a wine I would be happy to drink again.

1961 Cantina Sociale Cooperativa di Oleggio, Vino Vecchia Collina Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Earthy at first.  Fresh menthol flavors in the mouth with tart acidity driving earthy red fruit into a vinous, old bottled aged wine middle.  The fruit is sweeter in the finish, likewise the attractive earthy note is longish in the aftertaste.  A solid wine whose acidity is taking over the flavors.  ** Now.

1964 Armando Beccaro, Vino Mesolone
Imported by T. Elenteny. A blend of roughly 50% Spanna, 30% Bonarda, and 20% Vespolina exclusively from family vines.  It was fermented for three weeks then racked once a year until it was bottled in the third or fourth year. Alcohol 13%.  A fresh nose with menthol notes.  This builds sweetness with air forming a sweet, fruity middle with a wood box finish.  A mid-weight wine, it is mixed with spices which become slightly spicy by the finish.  It responds well with air becoming dense in the middle with a compote of sweet, textured fruit extract.  *** Now.

Holiday Time Wine: 1977 Dessert Wines from California

December 27, 2019 1 comment

I have become swamped with work and despite a lack of posting, I have still managed to drink some interesting wines this fall.  The 1977 Monterey Peninsula Winery, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Amador County is a fine find.  Founded in 1974, Monterey Peninsula Winery soon developed award winning Zinfandel from a county which became synonymous for the variety.  Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Nathan Chroman found the group of Zinfandels submitted at the 1976 Los Angeles Fair the finest in its history.  This included the 1974 vintage of the wine we tried.  Chroman found this “high-alcohol” or “late-harvest” style of wine a great success due to their balance with the alcohol.  Indeed, that is a quality which persists with the 1977 vintage to this day.

A lack of balance with alcohol is the affliction of the 1977 JW Morris Port Works, California Vintage Port.  Founded in 1975, JW  Morris Port Works soon ran into problems with capital and was sold off to the Toth family in 1983.  Morris bought Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel from 70 year old vines in Black Mountain as the basis for his ports.  In 1986, the Toth’s still had a stock of the 1977 Port which had been aged in wood for 6 1/2 years.  They planned on releasing it as the first of the Late Bottled Ports.  The goal was to produce a smoother drinking port without “the ‘hot’ alcoholic qualities” of the younger ports.  Perhaps the wine we tried had issues from the very beginning.

1977 Monterey Peninsula Winery, Late Harvest Zinfandel, Amador County
Alcohol 17.8%.  The nose is a dead-ringer for a classic, less-sweet tawny port.  Ample, fruity flavors with baking spices, and still with fine rugged texture.  A certain robustness yet balanced all around, fine wood flavors…simply a treat.  ***(*)  Now but will last.

1977 JW Morris Port Works, California Vintage Port – half-bottle
Alcohol 20%.  A lovely nose, quite fruity and deep, revealing plentiful leather aromas with air.  In the mouth a fruity start, still youthful and well preserved but out of balance with the spirit.  Becomes hot by the end which I find distracting and a shame given the nose. *(*) Now but will last a long time.

Mid-week with Lou: Falkenstein, Pesquera, Ponsot, Tribouley, and more

November 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Mid-week tastings with Lou tend to feature wines that do not normally fit into a tasting theme.  Darryl has turned my attention to  Falkenstein so I could not resist trying the young but very good 2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel.  We then changed gears with the mature 2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray.  The luxurious body of the wine surprised me.  The feral smelling 2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes has completely clean strawberry and cranberry flavors in the mouth.  It is actually still young and worth tracking over the next several years.

I had high hope for the 1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero.  This bottle came from a great DC cellar which offered up beautiful bottles of first growth Bordeaux back to the 1950s and a wide range of top-notch Burgundy.  This bottle of Pesquera was quite good, evocative of Ribera del Duero, but the finish is a little short. I formed the impression it might not be the best example.  I have a second bottle so I will report back this winter.

Not quite satisfied, I opened up 1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche which also came from the same DC cellar.  I was told it was acquired upon release.  Served out of a decanter, this was a great bottle in great shape which continued to develop until none was left.  Lou and I just sat at the peninsula, chatting and drinking, completely satisfied, thrilled at how great mature Burgundy can be.  This is my first experience with Ponsot and I cannot wait for another!

2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel – $27
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 10%.  A pretty, floral nose.  Good body with gentle, lifted acidity and racy flavor.  It is a lively wine integrating sweet lemon flavors, chalky texture, and acidity.  Good presence.  **** Now – 2029.

2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.2%.  A light yellow straw.  Chenin-like for sure, fresh and round with a woodsy/orchard note.  In good shape it develops both flesh and fat with a little tartness to keep it alive.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A little stinky but ultimately, ferale smelling.  Rounded and ripe in the mouth with a fine vein of black fruit.  It develops strawberry confit flavors in the glass with spicy structure and a red cranberry finish.  Quite youthful in the mouth with a good dose of structure.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
Imported by Classical Wines From Spain.  Alcohol 13%.  Advanced in color.  A deep nose which is robust with dark, lovely, maturing aromas.  It takes time to open up, eventually offering tart red fruit over an ethereal, dark soil foundation.  It fleshes out in the mouth but the finish stays shorter than I would hope for.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections and imported by Vineyard Brands.  Upon the first pour, this is a fresh, ripe, mouth-filling wine that is round and full of soil notes.  It is substantial in personality and flavor, offering sweet orange and red fruits, minerals, soil, and a long-lasting finish.  With air it shows chewy pungency and concentration.  The mature mixture of sous-bois adds to the balance of flavor, supported by good acidity and structure.  There is a tangy persistence to the aftertaste.  This will continue to develop for some time.  ****(*) Now – 2035.