Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

Tasting Chianti Blind at Lou’s

November 21, 2018 Leave a comment

After an unbelievably youthful and glacially evolving 2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes it was time to tuck into some red wines.  Thus a handful of us stood in Lou’s tasting room to work our way through four brown-bagged wines.  The first, clearly past prime, had me guess 1970s.  I was a good decade off.  For the other three wines, I oscillated between mid-2000 petit Bordeaux or a northern Italian Bordeaux blend also of the same age.  I had the general age correct but not the grape nor the region!

Of the trio of Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva, the 2006 has the greatest potential.  It is crisp with a promising future.  The 2007 has good, deep flavors but it didn’t exhibit the same potential as the others.  The 2008 is the most forward and generous. It is the vintage to drink while the 2006 ages.

With dinner Lou opened the 2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes.  This generous wine drinks at its peak immediatley upon opening.  It does benefit from a touch of air as it took on bacon fat and smoke.  I like the Finger Lakes wines Lou opens.  Those with just a few years of age seem to be at peak.

2007 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablies Premier Cru Fourchaume Vieilles Vignes
Imported by KV Imports. Alcohol 13%.  A light, golden-tinged yellow-straw (phew!).  Fresh, surprisingly so, with moderate body and focused, clean flavors.  Round with hints of sweetness, nuts, and flint in the middle.  There is a touch of fat in the end.  Should continue to slowly develop.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #1 – 1962 Fattoria Grande di Montagnana Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Past prime, drinkable but just barely! Not Rated.

Blind Wine #2 – 2006 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Firm with sweet cherry flavors.  The wine is focused and tense with crisp, structure in the end.  Additional red fruits and polished wood come out.  More promising development to come.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Blind Wine #3 – 2007 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Lower lying, deep notes to the flavor. A polished edge remains a big closed and is still structured.  *** Now – 2023.

Blind Wine #4 – 2008 Felsina Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva
Alcohol 13.5%.  Imported by Bacchus Importers.  An articulate nose of cherries and other berries.  Deep, brambly red and black fruit is still youthful.  Round in the start with tense, citric acidity, ripe and sweet tannins.  A good drink that will come round faster than the 2006. Perhaps in the next year!  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2012 Red Newt Cellars, Viridescens, Finger Lakes
This wine is a blend of 67% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.8%.  First impressions of it are that its quite rounded and definitely new world.    Surprisingly ripe with generous flavors and some smoke around the good core of fruit.  It drinks as if its at its peak.  With air, the smoke morphs into bacon fat and smoke, as if from a Northern Rhone wine.  Great showing.  ***(*) Now.

The Post-Brunello Tasting Dinner Wines

November 15, 2018 Leave a comment

No tasting is complete without dinner and even more wine!  As I was dealing with dinner my notes are a bit thin.  I tried the 1990 Produttori di Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, en magnum both during and after the Brunello tasting.  The nose retained bits of roast but the flavors are fresh, balanced, and enjoyable. Strong provenance so who knows!?  The 1979 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo proved quite solid, surprisingly silky in body with old-school flavors.  Of the brace of pure Meunier Champagne (what a great idea), the 2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Champagne Extra Brut Les Barres is the most earthy and mushroomy bubbly I have tried.  I would have spent more time with it but the NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Rose stole the show.  Certainly my favorite of all the dinner wines and possibly those preceding it.  A great value too.

From the Sotheby’s Don Stott auction, the 1959 Hallgartener Schonhell Riesling Auslese, Rheingau gave a glimpse of the fantastic 1959 vintage.  Aromas of orange-peel and flowers on the nose followed by apple-skin and spice in the mouth.  Elegant and in fine state.  The Mignon is great but the 2002 Domaine des Lambrays, Clos des Lambrays en magnum was my favorite wine for pure drinkability that evening.  A perfect dinner wine!  Many thanks to the guests who shared their wines with dinner.

1990 Produttori di Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, en magnum
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 13%.  Magnum #1996/2000.  The roast on the nose never blows off but a cocoa aroma develops. A bit bipolar between the nose and mouth. Very fresh in the mouth, balanced acidity, fine wood, and very fine texture. Dry tannins in the end. Overall *** Now/Later?

1979 Francesco Rinaldi, Barolo
Imported by T. Elenteny. A little stinky on the nose. With air fine wood and good pungency develop. Rounder with surprising silky body, there is sweet, old-school fruit in the middle. *** Now but will last.

2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Champagne Extra Brut Les Barres
This wine is 100% Meunier sourced from a parcel planted in 1952.  Disgorged July 2012.  Alcohol 12%.  Quite complex, earthy, mushrooms, like no other Champagne I’ve tasted.  This drinks fully mature.  *** Now.

NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  Alcohol 12%. The berry core is first noticed then the strong bubbles. Immediately complex, very delicious, mixing with herbs, spices, and crisp apple acidity. Excellent flavors of ripe apple persist through the long aftertaste. Surprisingly good. ****(*) Now – 2023.

1959 Hallgartener Schonhell Riesling Auslese, Rheingau
Shipped by Walter S. Siegal.  A golden-amber color. The nose is scented with orange-peel, flowers, and tree fruit. A core of fruit remains in the mouth, apple skin with spices, and rounded body with sweet ripeness. There are hints of baking spice that mix with ripe apples through the long finish. In a perfect state. **** Now.

2002 Domaine des Lambrays, Clos des Lambrays en magnum
Alcohol 13.5%. Round, sweet fruit, some spice, and no hard edges. It is in a lovely state, to be drunk, with good fruit carried by subdued acidity.  ***(*) Now but mags will last.

2007 Biondi-Santi, Rosso di Montalcino
Corked!

2010 Agricola Punica, Barrua, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia
Rounded, modern as well, but the dark fruit sports attractive fat. Oak comes out in the end.  ** Now – 2028.

2009 Caiarossa, IGT Toscana
Dense, modern flavors of concentrated grapeyness, vanilla, and a spicy finish. Not my style of wine. *(*) 2020-2030.

1985 and 1988 Brunello di Montalcino tasting

November 12, 2018 Leave a comment

This past month I hosted a Brunello di Montalcino tasting focused on the great 1985 and 1988 vintages from five producers.  Though these vintages are only three years apart, they are at significantly different stages of life.  The 1988s are generally less evolved on the nose, with a core of fruit in the mouth and significant tannic structure.  The 1985s are more aromatic, mature, and softer in edge.  Such were the qualities of the fruit from the 1988s and the aroma of the 1985s that several guests blended their Ciacci’s to strong success.  I even joined in on the fun and rated my blend a check plus!

As for the unblended wines our pair of Biondi-Santi were outliers.  The 1988 was a bad bottle and the 1985 was uninspiring.  The other eight bottles spanned a range of drinking states and qualities.  The 1988 Livio Sassetti, Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and 1985 Livio Sassetti, Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva are my favorites from this evening.  Both vintages bear aromas that I love with the 1985 drinking at a sweet spot.  After several hours the 1985 La Chiesa di Santa Restituta, Brunello di Montalcino began to open up, revealing an inky core of fruit, both elegant and tense.  A determined wine that will continue to develop.  The 1988 La Chiesa di Santa Restituta, Brunello di Montalcino is even less evolved but worth following.  The 1988 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, Pianrosso is quite good too, showing floral notes on the nose and in the mouth.  The 1985 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino takes on perfume as well.  Though others surely disagree, I found the 1988 Poggio Antico, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva too young and clean for my liking and the 1985 Poggio Antico, Brunello di Montalcino too soft.

At 30+ years of age Brunello di Montalcino can remain clearly structured, tough to drink, and barely evolved in flavor.  Yet our best bottles are expressive, complex, and will drink in such a fine state for many years to come.

Please find my tasting notes below.  All of the wines were double-decanted one hour prior to tasting then followed over several hours.  I must once again thank Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., for opening up his inventory to me.

1988 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, Pianrosso
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. A finely articulated nose of mixed florals, incense, and wet wood. In the mouth it is finely veined with a core of deep fruit supported by strong and drying tannins. With air the wine remains tight with its floral, fruit vein. **** Now – 2028.

1985 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13%. Quite aromatic. A softer edge though there is power from the strong and drying tannins. There mature flavors with a soft edge becoming black fruited and perfumed in the nose. ***(*) Now – 2028.

1988 Livio Sassetti, Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13.5%. Good nose. In the mouth is fine grained flavor, focused around a core of red and black fruit. The profile is a little tart and certainly drying from the tannins. With air remains great focus and balance with complexity from Christmas baking spices and the inky finish. **** Now – 2033.

1985 Livio Sassetti, Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13.5%. A love nose that is meaty, bloody, wild and evocative of wood box. This remained the most aromatically interesting wine from the first pour to the end of the evening. In the mouth, tart red fruit mixes with citric tannins providing engaging grip. Mature flavors from bottle age, earth, and wood box effectively mix together. “Sauvage” as one guest commented. A lovely wine of medium body which expands in the mouth leaving very fine, drying tannins on the gums in the end. ****(*) Now – 2028.

1988 Poggio Antico, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13%. The deeper aromas are closely played but reveal berries and are of more interest than the 1985 sibling. It is a slowly evolving wine with cherry, watering acidity, and a vein of structure. Still young, not yet in mid-age with clean and elegant fruit. *** Now – 2023-2033.

1985 Poggio Antico, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13%. Sour, clean fruit with watering acidity, and an incensed finish. There is a rounder start with more body and citric tannins on the sides of the gums. However, the flavors do not have the life giving energy. ** Now.

1988 La Chiesa di Santa Restituta, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13.5%. Some roast on the nose, balsamic. A core of sweet fruit develops and a pure, forward note of oregano. Needs time. **(**) 2023-2033.

1985 La Chiesa di Santa Restituta, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 13.5%. A fine nose develops after a few hours. With maturing fruit, and some sorry cherry this wine continued to evolve over the evening. The acidity creates tension between the inky, fine core of fruit, and supportive component. Red and black fruit mix convincingly, sporting elegant weight as textured tannins are left on the gums. ***(**) 2020-2035.

1988 Il Greppo, Biondi-Santi, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. A bad bottle! Not Rated.

1985 Il Greppo, Biondi-Santi, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Scented on the nose but a bit thin in flavor. Perhaps elegant, I only note tartness and acidity with an eventual leather note.  ** Now.

A mixture of wines young and old

I met up with Lou and another friend for a casual after-work tasting of wines.  We started with a pair of bottles from the Finger Lakes of New York.  I have now enjoyed the 2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes on three different occasions.  This bottle was particularly frothy with a core of fruit and vein of bubbles that make it delicious to drink right now.  Also made from Riesling, but smelling like there is Sauvignon Blanc as well, is the 2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes.  It is a solid wine of tart citrus and chalk flavor.

The pair of 2014 White Burgundy yielded a generous, rapidly maturing 2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse.  Of good value I would say.  In comparison, the 2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet is less fruity and the better wine.  With a core of lemon and ripe apple, there is an acidic spine, all of which lasts with good length.

Made from the youngest vines, 2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais is a well-made, enjoyable, grapey wine.  It is pure, fresh, and acted as our gateway to a trio of mystery wines.

I admit to being confused.  I had settled in on the wines being from the 1960s and 1970s, with origins in Italy or California, and at least one Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti was younger than I thought but not worth drinking.  Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino was also younger than I thought but sound, which gives you an ideal of its maturity curve.  With air it took on body and flavor to become rather enjoyable.  The final bottle is the modest Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 13%.  Very frothy at first but the body soon develops.  There is a focused fruit core with the fine bubble vein.  With air and warmth the Riesling origins come out.  Easy to drink.  *** Now – 2020.

2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 11.5%.  A very light straw color.  A good nose, aromatic with both grassy and petrol aromas.  A soft frame exists for the whole fruit Riesling flavor.  There is some chalk and a slightly, tart citrus flavor in the end.  The acidity is balanced by the sugar such that it does not come across as lively.  Some engaging grip develops.  ** Now.

2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse
Imported by Simon N Cellars. Alcohol 14%.  A very light yellow.  A rounded edge with with ripe lemon flavors, stones in the middle, and some fat in the finish.  It is easy to drink and will mature rapidly.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet
Alcohol 13%.  A very light green yellow color.  There is a focused fruit impression at first but this wine is not all about the fruit.  It is dense and focused with a good, acidic spine.  There are hints of yeast and wood.  With air the flavors settle on lemon with a ripe, apple core.  Good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 12.5%.  A purple, red cranberry color.  Grapey and bright on the nose.  The flavors are evocative of young, grape juicy being light, very pure, and fresh.  Tart berries and grip are closed by a round, verve finish.  ** Now.

Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Past prime on the nose with a banana aroma.  In the mouth it is falling apart with some leather, animale, and a hint of freshness.  There is a touch of fat-edged flavor and body but it soon turns acidic with green apple flavors.  Past prime.  Not Rated.

Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Palace Brands. Alcohol 13%. A garnet, brick color.  It tasted quite mature at first with bottle aged flavors, citric acidity, and citric pithe on the gums.  But magically, with air, it develops both body and flavor.  It even takes on a luxurious, marshmallow mouth feel.  *** Now.

Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Earthy fruit with red cranberry flavors, a grippy nature, and clearly the most acidic of all the wines tasted.  Vibrant but a bit thin in flavor with a slight green edge.  ** Now.

I try Italian wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Negroamaro, Susumaniello, Refosco, and more

Just a quick post on several Italian wines I tried over the last week.  Nothing particularly moving at this point.  I do not think I’ve drunk a Taurino wine since my Michigan days.  I can report that the 2010 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento is still low priced and a solid value.   The 2011 Carpineto, Farnito, Tuscany and 2014 Antonutti, Ros di Muri, Venezie  have the best potential for development.  I suspect the Carpineto will have broad appeal next winter.  I found the 2015 Cantine Menhir Pietra, Salento so ripe I could only tolerate a small glass.

2010 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento – $18
This wine is 100% Negroamaro. Alcohol 14.5%.  An interesting nose of tar and spruce while note piercing is certainly aromatic.  The controlled, rounded flavors are primarily of red fruit yet there is a sweet floral and herbal infusion evocative of Northwest evergreen forests.  This gentle wine wraps up with almost puckering acidity.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2011 Carpineto, Farnito, Tuscany – $22
Imported by Opici Wines. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a firm, dry middle followed by a steely structure near the end.  The flavors of licorice and menthol have a slight wrapping of fat.  With air the wine fleshes out and develops more blue fruit.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2014 Antonutti, Ros di Muri, Venezie – $16
Imported by Casa Vinicola. This wine is a blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Refosco fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in barrique. Alcohol 14%.  A solid blend with flavors of red and black fruits, noticeable leather, and a spine of structure.  This could open up by the end of the year.  **(*) Now-2023.

2015 Cantine Menhir Pietra, Salento – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is a blend of Primitivo and Susumaniello. Alcohol 14%.  There are ripe, almost sweet flavors of blue fruits that mix with some attractive wet tobacco smoke.  Dark flavored and ultimately too ripe for my preference. * Now.

A few cheapies with Lou

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

With jam-packed work and personal calendars it is hard for Lou and I to meet up.  We carved out a few hours the other day to sit at the peninsula and drink several inexpensive wines.  The 2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza was expectedly my favorite of the red wines.  After drinking a bottle in Seattle I brought one back to share with Lou and Jenn.  This bottle was more youthful than the first with a good balance between texture, fruit, green pepper, and minerals.  It is a good, old-school drink.  The 1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany is an inexpensive wine from a great vintage.  The vintage expresses itself through the ripe black fruit with the age coming in through leather and wood notes.  It is fully mature with some roast earth marking it as on the down slope.  Finally, the bottle of 1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon was surprisingly marked on the back label as “Mevushal 89 °C” meaning it is a Kosher wine.  Unfortunately, it was exposed to 192 °F  in being made Kosher which meant it was doomed in the glass.

2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza – $26
Imported by SWG Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented then aged in concrete for 12 months then aged a further 12 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  A gentle ripeness of black fruit mixes with an appropriate amount of an herbal/green pepper component.  The texture is slightly grainy with mid palate weight and a round, mineral-like finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany
Imported by Olinger Distributing Co. This wine is 100% Sangiovese. Alcohol 12.5%.  A woodsy wine that is fresh and crisp, beginning with up-front ripeness but finishing dry.  There are hard cherry flavors, focused weight, wood, and dried leather in the finish.  It is fully developed with a little roast end in the end from age.  It does not fall apart in the glass.  *** Now.

1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon
Imported by the Royal Wine Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Mevushal 89 °C.  Brown, cooked, gross! Not Rated.

A pair of youthful Italians

February 26, 2018 1 comment

This pair of Italian wines has helped see me through the evenings of this particularly busy period at work.  Both wines are from the 2015.  The 2015 Fattoria dei Barbi, Rosso di Montalcino is young and in need of short-term aging.  It is attractive in flavor profile but not the most complex.  The 2015 Tua Rita, Rosso dei Notri  is good fun being an effective blend which comes across as both youthful and expressive.  This wine is placed on the front rack at MacArthur Beverages with good reason.  I recommend you grab a few bottles as soon as you enter the store!

2015 Fattoria dei Barbi, Rosso di Montalcino – $23
Imported by Frederick Wildman.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The flavors of cherry and leather show some focus rather than be framed by structure.  This is dark in flavor with menthol hints, tangy acidity, and very fine tannins in the end.  In need of air and ultimately a solid wine.  **(*) Now -2023.

2015 Tua Rita, Rosso dei Notri – $18
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The finely textured fruit becomes mineral and black in the middle with a youthful mix of fruit and cocoa by the end.  It is rounded with structure and acidity integrated together, yielding a mouth filling and tasty wine.  *** Now – 2023.