German Riesling 2015 Grosses Gewächs – Initial impressions and recommendations

During July we had the pleasure of visiting some of the top producers in Nahe, Rheinhessen and Mosel. We mainly focused on Riesling wines and we had the opportunity to taste a rather large selection of Grosses Gewächs wines from 2015.

Since many of the producers are releasing their 2015 Grosses Gewächs shortly we will in this post give you our impressions of the vintage and list our top pics from the Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted.

Later we will also publish separate posts per producer.

The producers we visited were:

  • Weingut Wittmann – Rheinhessen
  • Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff – Nahe
  • Weingut Emrich-Schönleber – Nahe
  • Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich – Nahe

We also met with Heymann-Löwenstein and Clemens Busch in the Mosel region but we did not taste their 2015 Grosses Gewächs wines since they where not ready.

About the 2015 vintage for German Riesling

After a few demanding vintages for the producers, 2015 has been a great vintage for the region. The producers we met with gave rather consistent descriptions of the vintage. Their collective view is that the grapes reached good ripeness rendering a dense and generous wine, but not fat or heavy, and still with a precise and pure acidity.

Our impressions are in line with the descriptions provided by the producers. It seems like the vintage produces fantastic wines balancing generosity and precision well. We did not experience much over ripe fruit and petroleum notes but still the wines had good generous fruit on the palate. For me the acidity is extremely important in Riesling wines and the 2015 vintage is not a disappointment, showing good precision and energy.

I will definitely stock up on German Riesling wines from 2015.

Top 3 Grosses Gewächs Rieslings of 2015

For me two producers stood out in the 2015 vintage, both for Grosses Gewächs and Ortswein, and these are Wittmann and Emrich-Schönleber. The wines from Wittmann have amazing peaks, great energy and good transparency, while Emrich-Schönleber produces perfect “by the book” Riesling wines with amazing precision and complexity.

My top three pics of the vintage are:

  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Still it must be said that the vintage produced a very high average level and we tasted amazing wines from all producers.

Tasting notes from the 2015 German Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Aulerde Riesling Großes Gewächs

The soil in Aulerde has less limestone than Kirchspiel and Morstein.
Rather broad and open nose showing tropical fruits like apricot and lychee. The acidity is juicy and stays for a long time in the finish.
This wine has a very generous expression but also a good structure.
91p/100

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs

Compared with Morstein the Kirchspiel wines are usually more open and ready to drink early and is often showing notes of grapefruit. The soil is similar to Morstein.

Very fresh nose with white stone fruit, lots of lychee and some young apricot and pears.
The acidity is amazing with a very energetic and firm expression and an abundance of minerals. Some fresh fruit notes balance the acidity well.
At the moment the wine is slightly dominated by the acidity but it should develop fantastically with time. A great wine with fantastic potential.
95p/100

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs

The wines from Morstein usually has a lot of citrus and acidity. The soil has clayish marl and limestone on the upper layer and more limestone in the subsoil.

There are multiple layers of fruit on this dense and concentrated nose, but it never gets overly dominant. We also find some very slight flint and yeast notes and white flowers.
Juicy and mouthwatering acidity with a grippy expression showing both lime fruit and lemon. Again the fruit is dense and complemented by some herbal notes.
The wine already has a good balance between the acidity and the fruit and it manages to combine generosity with elegance. A truly fantastic wine.
96p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

Red slate, gravel and red loam. Age of vines are between 15 and 60 years.

Beautiful nose with apricot and other stone fruits, some apples and a hint of herbs. A both elegant and complex nose with great freshness.
Same notes are found on the palate where we also have a pure and precise acidity with both lime fruit and lemon. The wine is energetic and mouthwatering and should age very well.
94-95p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Stony blue slate and quartzite soil, producing small and concentrated grapes.

Dense and complex nose with layers of fruit where pineapple, apricot, lime fruit and lemon are most apparent.
The acidity is rather racy and has lots of lime and lemon notes. This will probably calm down with time.
The wine is already well balanced but has a slightly more austere impression than the Frühlingsplätzchen GG at this time.
There is an amazing potential in this very complex wine, but you will have to be patient.
95-96p/100

 

2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Rather open and generous nose with a ripe tone to the fruit, mainly tropical, but also with clear notes of yeast and flint, that hopefully will reduce with time.
On the palate the wine is very juicy with an abundance of stone fruit, pineapple and floral notes. The acidity is precise, grippy and well needed for such an opulent wine.
92p/100

2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Slim and precise nose with white stone fruit, green apples and wet stone.
Precise and almost electric acidity adding energy to the wine. Careful on the fruit, but still with fresh stone fruit and green apples on the nose, but here combined with some herbal notes.
This wine has great precision and energy and will have a long life ahead.
94p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Volcanic soil and vines older than 50 years.

Bright fresh stone fruit, soft tropical fruit and some mineralic elements. Beautiful and well balanced nose.
On the palate the wine gets a very fruity and juicy expression. The acidity is rather careful but manages to balance the juicy expression on the palate. In the finish we get more grape fruit in the acidity.
92p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

A vineyard that usually produces wines that are accessible early in their life and has a fruity and floral expression.

The nose is fresh and pure with both fruit, mainly tropical, and floral notes. Very generous and opulent.
The palate continues with the same style but the fruit is complemented by a lively acidity.
A forward and open wine.
91p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs

A nose that starts rather carefully but then develop an intensity with fresh tropical fruit, green apples, lime and some floral notes.
The palate has great balance with a fresh and grippy acidity combined with the intense fruit also found on the nose.
This is a wine that manages to combine a restrained expression with intensity. Should have a very long life.
94p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Grosses Gewächs Versteigerung

This is the first dry Grosses Gewächs wine produced in 30 years in Brücke.

The wine is very expressive with an abundance of dense and layered fruit notes. We mainly find apricot and apples.
Initially the palate is rather heavy but then an energetic acidity lifts the wine. Again there is an abundance of apricot but also some stone fruit and other tropical fruit.
This is a very generous wine with a strong personality.
92p/100

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2010 shines in Roagnas oldest vineyard

Roagna released their wines from the fabulous 2010 vintage in February including the langhe rosso. This wine is made of grapes selected from vines of which the youngest dates back to 1937! On Etna this is normal, in Burgundy uncommon, but in Barolo, it is truly rare. It is part of some of the oldest locations in Barolo and more precisely east of the Bricco Rocche di Castiglione-Falletto facing south-east in the blend zone and in the very heart of the Barolo area. The best grapes are extracted using the traditional submerged-cap method on the skins for three months.

DSC04702Roagna Barolo “Pira” vecchie viti

Andreas:

Pure and fresh red berries combined with some blueberries and boysenberries, but also orange peel, roses, fresh spices and slight herbal notes. The nose could have brought me to some of the top vineyards in burgundy.

On the palate the wine is all about balance and elegance. The acidity is amazing with mouth watering lime fruit, but still never dominant. The tannins are velvety but still have some grip. We find the same fresh multilayered fruit also on the palate.

Fresh finish leaving you thirsty for more.

The Roagna wines are often said to require long time for maturation. However, this wine is fantastic already now, but of course has a long life ahead.

96-97/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose emerges as truly special here and is refined and emerges very slowly in waves. Subtle beeswax, orange-peel, spices, ethereal and with an inner beautiful perfume that is quite intense and aristocratic but slow and incredibly complex.

On the palate, it is incredibly concentrated and very rich, but not heavy at all. Aromas of very deep minerals, anise seeds, tea and layers of pure, ripe black fruit; mainly blackberries and dark, peppery plums that dominates. The precision is stunning as is the harmony of core aromas that unites in a lovely finish with strikingly clean, fresh acidity and silky texture, framed by thick, chewy and super-ripe tannins. They steer the wine in a clear direction and elegant manner. Surprisingly, very approachable already now and the insane extraction just adds honest and true terroir. Just buy, if you still manage to find them. Already drinkable, but a guess is that it will be even better in some years.

96-97p/100

 

 

Roagna makes another really good rosso

We are true fans of the Roagna estate with the relieving motto “we don’t change”. This is the essence of tradition when it really adds value and at the same time is ahead of its time when talking terroir and high-quality grapes. Roagna bottles a langhe rosso that can easily compete with barolos. The vintage 2006 was tasted here. The 2010 vintage is by far the most balanced and most refined one in decades with potentially perfect tannins as most of us are fully aware of by now. Roagna is probably the last to bottle with the exception of Roberto Conterno’s ultimate barolo, the Monfortino. The rosso is made of fruit from young vines from the vineyards; Pira in Serralunga d’Alba in Barolo and Pajé in Barbaresco (just below their house) and is raised in barrel for five years.

IMG_20160528_0123512010 Roagna, langhe rosso

Sir Galahad:

The nose is refined and complex offering menthol, subtle, dried rose petals, purest beeswax, some oil paint and distinct Asian spices; spice cumin and cardamom. Some lilies are noted too. After some more swirls in the glass an aristocratic and intense inner perfume emerges. A really good nose.

Usually, on the palate, the rosso is bold and throwing flavours at you, but here it is more laid back, very much like the vintage. So unlike e.g. the great 2006 and even 2008, there is much, much less fire wood, tar, blood pudding and broth in here. Packed with sweet, dark plum, earthy red fruit, cherry stone, tea, notes of dry honey, orange peel, anise seeds and even more so, lovely, vibrant minerals. A very balsamic, fresh and peppery acidity is in harmony with its pliant, silky texture. The backside is that It is a little volatile and fruit is somewhat dry and introvert, but still among the best rossos.

92p-/100

Another super-interesting etna rosso from the vintage of 2013

The wine this time is built upon a blend of handpicked grapes from two different contradas, the name of their vineyard areas around the Etna mountain here in Sicliy; more specifically from rampante (the oldest) and solicchiata with a mean of 80 year average age of vines. The vintage of 2013 is great, well balanced and absolutely classic. They keep a natural vineyard, conduct an 18-day extraction on the skins and raises the wine for 14 months in lightly toasted french barriques. A modern producer at Etna with obvious good reputation.

2013 “Archineri” Etna rosso, PietradolceDSC_0154

An opaque and beautiful blood orange colour with orange and cerise tints.

This wine was a disappointment at first and still so even after five hours, but after giving it much more time, it finally woke up from its slumbers and quietly started to let off, just tiny scents of oil paint and ethereal qualities at first. Reluctantly, it seems. Then, earthy red fruit, spice cumin, some deep minerals, subtle notes of licorice root and morning dew on crushed gravel arrives in small waves.

On the palate, it is super slender, tight, delineated and focused. Red, earthy and sourish wild strawberries coated in complex minerals and herbs impress. Acidity is energetic wrapping distinct citrus peel and that special,  etna metallish minerality, but now a just little gnarly. Texture is very soft and already velvety but not powdery from new oak. Actually, and thankfully this is skilfully handcrafted in Burgundish manner regarding new oak, since it was not noted at all.

It is not approachable or generous at all now, but rather analytic and hard to get wine that really is holding back its fortunes, but impresses with its focus and precision. It will need plenty of time to come around and It is hard to score at this time, but obviously it has great potential and broods on something special. A guess is to wait until 2022, but probably later is a safer bet. It is super-slender but with yet too juvenile tannins, too volatile and introvert.

91-92p/100

A very honest and uncompromising etna rosso

The owner of this estate is the Australian vintner Anna Martens with a long career in wine making who among others have been working at Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and previously with Andrea Franchetti at Passopisciaro for three years and then started her own business in 2008 with her husband. They focus on very little intervention in the wine making and ecological farming. This wine is from 80-year-old vines (alberello trained) on the nothern side of Etna. Grape varieties are nerello mascarello (90 %) and 10 % nerello cappuccio. Whole clusters were put into closed fermentors for six weeks without any intervention until tannins have been miraculously extracted. Very surprisingly, they don’t seem to be pressing the grapes during this time and conduct no customary punch downs or pumping over after pressing either.  Grapes are gently pressed using super low sulphur levels (almost none) and raising the grape juice in small neutral vats. A very interesting producer in deed and one with focus on true terroir and whose ambition we really fancy.

2014 vino rosso, Vino di Anna

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A very simple label on their etna rosso with alberello bushes on a steep hill

Colour is luminous, but not opaque; rather blurry (obviously not filtered or fined) with bright red orange and slightly brownish core with cerise somewhat bluish outer part and pink edges.

A very subtle and reticent, but complex nose currently dominated by vibrating, smokey minerals, dusty gravel, under vegetation, some dried herbs and oil paint. After several hours, a deep and vey careful scent of dried rose petals and complex blue flowers slips through. A very small and holding back nose now, but very personal and obviously hiding something special.

On the palate it is very closed, introvert and currently not a charmer, but impressively dense and concentrated. Less straw berries in this etna rosso where fruit is more black with prominent blackberries, dark cherries and unexpected notes of black currant. In addition, smokey, dusty minerals, savoury aromas now and under vegetation. Less sweet and alcohol is pleasingly low at 13.5 %. Acidity is clean and vivid adding lots of energy. It is quite persistent too and focused. All framed in soft, very thick, chewy and marking tannins that are ripe, but of course young. This long-cycled vintage of 2014 is all classic and I am surprised they release them this early.

A very honest, but currently a very analytic wine that will need a lot of time to settle and come around. There is a resemblance to a very young and classic barolo from Mascarello in terms of aromas, but different style. A very interesting and uncompromising wine focused on terroir that will be interesting to follow and one that is hard to score fairly at this point, but there is obvious potential in this great vintage. A guess is to wait until 2020 or later.

93-94p/100

Two Barbaresci from the warm 2011 vintage

The vintage 2011 is a warm vintage that is better than expected in Serralunga and Monforte in Barolo, but in Barbaresco it is perceived as hotter and often with somewhat cooked fruit. Here we taste two of the riservas from the great cooperative – Produttori di Barbaresco. Two vineyards with totally different micro climates.

DSC04699

Two of the 2011 single-vineyard barbaresco from the great cooperative

2011 Barbaresco Muncagota, Produttori di Barbaresco

Andreas:

Elegant and fresh nose with an abundance of young and slightly sweet red fruit containing strawberries, wild strawberries and raspberries along with notes of menthol.

Slightly darker fruit on the rather thin and elegant palate. Acidity is amazing and very precise and complements the good tannic structure.

This Barbaresco is surprisingly energetic for a 2011 but still has the rather generous sweet expression often found in this vintage.

91-92p/100

Sir Galahad:

Incredibly seductive, juvenile and intensively forward perfume that is both quite sexy, pretty and fresh. It brings a very vast, lavishing combo of beautiful rose petals, ripe red fruit, beeswax, some oil paint, mint, clove and anise seeds. Even if comparison to other wine areas may be a bit simplifying and somewhat limiting, I cannot help finding it reminding me very much of a good premier cru Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy. Maybe a forward Les Cras? 🙂

On the palate, it is not equally as impressive but not disappointing either. It is racy, succulent and packed with ripe, highly concentrated red fruit; primarily raspberries, but also earthy wild strawberries. It is just a little smudgy and on the edge of getting too sweet, but fruit is without any alcohol in the persistent finish. It is thin bodied, weightless and considering the warm vintage, it impresses with fine balance and very crisp, balsamic acidity. All this framed in soft, rather sweet and thick tannins without any dryness what so ever but with a somewhat sandy and not directly silky .

91p/100

2011 Barbaresco Montefico, Produttori di Barbaresco

Sir Galahad:

The typical nose of smoke, layers of vibrating tar and natural rubber. In addition, notions of Mediterranean herbs and a subtle perfume. While the nose is characteristic and true to its origins, unfortunately the palate is a disappointment. It is rough, tannins are coarse and fruit is way too sweet, cooked and smudgy. On the up side, acidity is fine and generous, but it is not evening out its other misfortunes.

Reality is that It is clumsy, coarse and without any finesse. Did they harvest too late in this very warm vintage and couldn’t wait until tannins very ok in this vineyard? We cannot recommend this. Let’s hope the 2012 is much better which we have reason to expect from our last trip last year to Barbaresco.

84p/100

Giacomo Fenocchio – Respect for terroir and great balance

When we visited Piedmont in 2013 we had the pleasure of meeting up with Claudio Fenocchio, a humble and careful man who produces fantastic wine with great respect for tradition and terroir. We spent much of the time talking about different vineyards and how their characteristics affect the wines. Claudio knows his vineyards and their history extremely well and talks about them with great passion. Claudio emphasises that there are only two vineyards that are truly Bussia; Sottana and Soprana. From their home they have a truly amazing view of the area, with La Morra straight ahead, Barolo down to the right and further to the right we can see Castiglione-Falletto, starting with the Villero vineyard.

Claudio Fenocchio

Claudio Fenocchio

The estate was founded in 1864, has been in the family for 5 generations and is carrying the name of Giacomo Fenocchio, the father of Claudio, who headed the estate after the second world war and who acquired some of the vineyards that still are within the family. They have vineyards in Cannubi (approximately 40 year old vines), Bussia Sottana (25-40 year old) and Villero (appr. 65 year old).

As mentioned before the estate uses traditional methods, which includes long maceration, usage of indigenous yeast and maturation in large barrels (botti) to ensure no oak flavours make it into the wine.

Claudio Fenocchio

The wines we tasted

Bussia 2013 – from tank

This wine was of course way to young to be tested, but Claudio gave us the chance to taste the 2013 before malolactic fermentation. The acidity is very harsh at this point and it is more or less impossible to understand the potential of the wine. This was more in the department of education than a tasting 🙂

Bussia 2012 – from barrel

The vines are from the Sottana part of Bussia and of mixed ages, but on average approximately 30 years.

At the time of the tasting the wine was very closed and reduced, though there where signs of fresh red fruit, like raspberries and some orange peels.

The wine is quite harsh in the mouth and the acidity needs to stabilise before we get en proper impression of the wine. There are some balsamic notes, blood orange and ginger. Impressive concentration and a texture that already has fine and sandy tannins. Heavy, but of good quality.

More or less impossible, and not at all fair, to score at this time.

Claudio Fenocchio botti
2010 Cannubi – from barrel

From 40 year old vines.

The typical seductive, fragrant perfumes and beautiful rose petals. There are raspberries, some tobacco and the nose shows quite a lot of depth.

The acidity is rather sharp and direct but has a balsamic freshness and is very energetic. We also find fresh red fruit, wild strawberries, raspberries, ginger and some gravel. It is quite persistent and has an impressive balance already.

Texture is already fine sandy and tannins are thick, chewy and of good quality. Enormous potential. This wine needs time to integrate fully but will surely develop in to a wine with good structure and complexity.

92+p/100

2010 Villero – from barrel

From 65 year old vines.

The wine is slow to open up and is a bit reductive but after a while it develops a complex, deep and fresh nose. Fragrant, very delicate with fantastic details, showing both balsamic and floral notes. There are also raspberries and limestone minerals.

The acidity is better integrated than in the Cannubi. Again lots of red berries, distinct blood orange, very ripe, fresh and deep wild strawberries, ginger, nutmeg, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals. Coarse sandy texture and tannins are chewy, thick of high quality.

This is a feminine wine with lots of elegance and fragrance. We are very impressed.

94p/100

2010 Bussia – from barrel

Quite seductive perfumes and fragrant flowers. Super-fresh, ripe red fruit and hints of solvent. Fantastic nose which shows depth and lots of fruit.

Deeper and a bit earthier than the Villero, but still with the characteristic “Fenocchio freshness”. Ripe fruit, boysenberries, blood orange, iron, crushed stone, balsamic notes and herbs. Very balanced already, quite slim structure and persistence. Texture is already polished and tannins are chewy and of great quality.

The wine is very generous with lots of fruit, but it also has complexity, energy and depth.

95p/100

Summary

As always the wines of Fenocchio show great transparency and honesty that celebrate its terroir without adding anything else. In addition, they deliver great freshness, deep aromas and complexity. This was also our first taste of the 2010 vintage and it immediately showed great potential.

An Albino Rocca from Ronchi in 2012

The vineyard Ronchi is situated north of Montestefano and below Rabajà, but it shares its power and darker characteristics from the former. The warm vintage 2012 is much better in Barbaresco compared to Barolo regarding nebbiolo with generally well structured wines with good balance and fine tannins. The reason being a much the colder spring than usual and late warmth compared to Barolo.

DSC046732012 Barbaresco “Ronchi”, Albino Rocca

It emerges with dried rose petals, new cut ginger, crushed stone, dried herbs, dark cherries. A complex, but a little modern and pretty nose, but reticent.

On the palate, it is very dense, powerful and fleshy. At the same time it is pliant, but now texture is too fleshy and clumsy. The new oak addition is currently not doing it any favours (is it ever?), especially not in the quite persistent finish that now is a little bitter, too dry and packed with artificial powder. Flavours are typical dark cherries, black berry jam with stones. It is saved from being too one dimensional and awkward by a very fresh and vivid acidity. Balance is ok.

This wine certainly needs a lot of time to come around and is obviously saved by its approachable acidity, but still it is currently hard to see it turning into a wine with finesse. No, even though nose is pretty and its acidity is great, Albino Rocca is not tuning down its level of new oak so we cannot recommended it. Open in 2020 is our guess, but don’t buy.

86p/100

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A wide-ranging blind tasting back in november 2015

We had a blind taste of a wide range of wines an evening in back in November and here is the result. Great tenderloin, chanterelles, risotto and pecorino accompanied these wines then. Two bottles form us each and a half bottle.

1993 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano riserva, Carpineto

The first wine is brought to the table by Frederik and it obviously has some age. Andreas has a hard time locating its origins and this is hard since the wine is from a region we haven’t payed any attention to and it contains 10% merlot, 20% canaiolo and the rest sangiovese grosso. It is a good wine that we hadn’t tested before with obvious age.

Sir Galahad:

Very fine matured nose of butter-fried chanterelles, some vanilla cain, some pencil led, vinaigrette, madeira, eucalyptus and a stylish, quite complex and fresh saline perfume. A complex and stylish nose.

Saline coated darker fruit; plums and black cherries, mush rooms, cedar oak, pepper and mush rooms are obvious on the palate. It is generous, rich and voluptuous. Very good, crisp and balsamic acidity. The texture is coarse and tannins are unfortunately harsh and edgy which is a true disappointment in an otherwise good vino nobile from Montepulciano with some age, the neighbour wine region to Montalcino in Tuscany.

87p/100

Andreas:

Some dense ripe fruit, hints of oak and saltiness opens the nose but there is also a pleasant creaminess.

Dark ripe fruit with blueberries and boysenberries but also under vegetation and mushrooms enter the scene on the palate where we also find a rather laid back but present acidity.

The finish is surprisingly short but has some nice dried fruit.

91p/100

2008 Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes”, Bertheau

The second wine is very fragrant and Andreas is the one bringing it to the table. Frederik is quickly and only based on the nose  in chambolle-musigny, but not sure what producer and is not nailing the vintage. After leaving the area for a few seconds after sipping a few more times, Andreas helps out just a little by saying that the first guess was not bad. It proves to be a 1er cru from our hero, Francois Bertheau in chambolle.

Sir Galahad:

Distinct ginger in here as well as fresh orange-peel, some curry and a lovely, seductive perfume of flowers with feminine characteristics that is enchanting and elegant. On the palate it is very generous, rich in ripe, red fruit; dominated by wild strawberries, ginger, blood orange and some anise. Very crisp and fresh acidity. Texture is velvety but with ripe and precise, but quite dense tannins. Its i very elegant, persistently generous and all about finess.

92+p/100

Andreas:

Mineral infused fresh nose with lots of red fruit and hints of floral notes. There are also orange peel, ginger, roses and hints of citric notes.

Fantastic acidity with razor sharp precision and some citric notes that are otherwise mainly found in white wine like Chenin Blanc. The red fruit is both fresh and slightly sweet.

The wine has an amazing precision and elegance but lacks some complexity and length.

93p/100

 

2014 Cheverny rouge “La Gravotte”, Clos du Tue-Boeuff

The 3rd wine is prepared by Andreas. Frederik can only pinpoint it to be from a natural wine producer and guesses on Loire and is sure it is very young, but has no clue of the producer. It turns out to be a producer that Andreas has visited and well known to the best restaurants in Copenhagen.

Sir Galahad:

The nose offers some crushed stone, but dominated by yeast boosting the aromas which is typical in trendy natural wines that is on the list at famous restaurant Noma. Fruit is a little sweet, but good balance, full-bodied and fresh with cool, fresh acidity. A little too much yiest for my taste, somewhat harsh tannins and it lacks complexity for a top wine.

88p/100

Andreas:

An abundance of rather sweet berries jump out of the glass together with notes of menthol. The palate is also dominated by fresh juicy red berries with a slightly sourish tone on the acidity. This is a very fruit driven, forward and generous wine but unfortunately it is too simplistic and lacks elegance for at top score.

88p/100

 

2012 Cornas “Renaissance”, Auguste Clape

Frederik brings this great wine of the best producer in Cornas to the tasting and Andreas is not familiar with Cornas before, but he is quite quickly in the Rhône dale ruling out Cote Rotie and the northern part based on the terroir.

Sir Galahad:

Distinct crushed, very forward and vibrating, typical granite stone followed by dried herbs, eucalyptus, earthy minerals, mush rooms, synthetic glue, and black tea. It appears to be holding back its authentic and mysterious traits at this point, but it is obvious that the complexity is lurking within if you spend some time with it like we did. On the palate, it is obviously too young yet, but very deep dark fruit, undervegetation, black tea and typical granite stone. Plenty of fresh, bitter and energetic acidity. Texture is a little fleshy, very thick and solid, but while tannins are not harsh at all, they are currently a little dry and grainy.

Obviously, this warm vintage rendered a very forward, dense and solid wine. It is very deep and quite powerful, but not heavy. It is a promising little brother wine in Auguste Clape’s cornas range. It obviously needs much more time, but a very forward and classic wine from Cornas of the defining master.

92-93p/100

Andreas:

Dense dark fruit with ripe boysenberries, blueberries and some fresh violet. There are also some wood glue, oil paint and some earthy notes.

The taste is also dense and deep but also has an amazingly energetic acidity which ensures that the wine never get heavy. There are crushed stone and dark minerals but also some slight pepper notes on the taste. Sometimes there is a slight bitterness that is pushed down by some slight sweetness.

A wine that combines dense and generous fruit with minerals and energy. Impressive effort.

93p/100

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Campogiovanni

Frederik adds this to the bunch and Andreas guesses correctly that it is a brunello and correct vintage but not the producer.

Andreas:

An abundance of rather sweet berries jump out of the glass together with notes of menthol.

The palate is also dominated by fresh juicy red berries with a slightly sourish tone on the acidity.

This is a very fruit driven, forward and generous wine but unfortunately it is too simplistic and lacks elegance for at top score.

88p/100

Sir Galahad:

Distinct notes of asphalt, rubber boots and balsamic herbs on the nose.

Quite fullbodied wine with very dark fruit, dry herbs, gravel. Fine acidity and persistent but a little dry finish, sandy texture and without finesse.

87p/100

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The certainly wide tasting line-up

Tasting the wines of Benanti at Munskänkarna in Lund, Sweden

On the 11th of February this year I attended an interesting tasting of the wines of Cantina Benanti held by “Munskänkarna i Lund”, at the Grand Hotel in Lund, Sweden. It was a producer that I new about, but not in person and I had never visited them either.  However, back in 2011, I stayed two weeks on the east coast of Sicily up on the cliff in the town of Taormina with its fantastic view. After a day up at the Etna mountain just after an eruption, we found a very good restaurant, Le Naumachie, a little hidden from the tourist main street in Taormina. They served fantastic seafood and probably the best grilled fresh tuna I have ever had. Anyway, the owner insisted we try an etna bianco from Benanti, the Pietra Marina. It was perfect with that dish and I remember buying two bottles with me home thinking it was truly special.

And here we are in 2016 listening to one of the twins of the Benanti family; Salvino Benanti. Salvino explains that his father conducted several studies of the soil around the volcano back in 1988 and they were part of the renaissance of Etna that really made a showcase of the potential of the area. Their first vintage was 1990. They own 24 ha and production is about 145,000 bottles a year. Enzo Cali is the enologist since 2004. In 2013, the business was passed on to the next generation as the twins, Salvino and his brother Antonio, took over the business from their father.

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Salvino Benanti

Even though they use barriques, they consider themselves traditionalists focusing on the specific terroir of Etna. However, they are not as extreme as those terroir-fanatics who use terracotta vats or plastic containers to affect the wine’s origins to an absolute minimum like e.g. Frank Cornelissen. Anyway, four things are important in their wine making according to Salvino; they want to reflect authenticity, minimal intervention in the wine making, cautious use of wood and use their own selection of patented yeast.

Salvino continues with explaining the typicality of Etna’s terroir and its micro climates. Back in the late 80’s, they were a hand full producers, but today there are around 80 on Etna and growing. It is a very hot climate being so close to Africa, but the high altitude offers cold winds that renders fresh acidity during nights when temperatures decrease a lot compared to in the days. 300 days of sun a year is impressive and must be vintners wet dream. Silvano emphasises three things that makes Etna very special. Firstly, obviously the combination of many sun hours and cool nights. Salvino explains that the ventilation is good even though high levels of humidity exist due to the gradients and the proximity to the sea. Around the volcano, the gradients are steep, the sandy soil is very loose, there are no valleys, no irrigation and vineyards are situated in man-made terraces. Except for the somewhat difficult access of the terraces, it surely must be ideal conditions. Secondly, he says, is the volcanic soil that is very rich in deep minerals. Thirdly, the indigenous grape varieties that are only from Etna.

Three important grape varieties exist and all of them are grown as free standing bushes (alberello) that requires a lot of manual work in the vineyards, but in return limits mildew to a minimum and increases its exposure to cooling winds even further. The soil is loose and contains a high level of sand, so roots can easily dig deep down and find water and nutritions. The grape for the whites is Carricante (25% planted) is a green-yellow grape with low alcohol perception, thick skin and high acidity level that often needs to go through malo. It is very sensitive to heat and attacks, so it is planted at the very highest altitudes where it thrives. For the reds, there are two. Nerello cappuccio has soft tannins and is naturally approachable. Its related to sangiovese. The second red grape is nerello mascalese (3% but quickly increasing) is tannic, thick skinned and acidic. The latter is the interesting red one for sure and as is the case with nebbiolo, it is tannic and ripens late in mid October in classic years or later depending on altitude. It combines pinot noir and nebbiolo in a very good way. Now how interesting grape is that!

 

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All the wines; 3 whites and 7 reds

We are offered three whites and seven reds, so quite a lot of wines to taste really, but very interesting in deed.

2013 D.O.C. Bianco di Caselle, 100% carricante

This is a new d.o.c. wine since a year ago. This is a blend of grapes from the eastern side (Caselle) and southern (Cavaliere) of the volcano at 900-1000 meter altitude. Vines are normal age; 35-50 years. Harveted mid-late October. Handpressed.

Some beeswax, tiny notes of diesel and green apple on the nose. Very pleasant and tasty with an oily texture. Dry apricots. Generous medium bodied.

88p/100

2010 D.O.C. Etna Bianco, Pietra Marina superiore

It was a very difficult vintage, but balance is obvious. Grapes in this wine are 100% carricante from 80 year-old vines in Caselle, a single area on the eastern side of the volcano. Training is alberello at 850 meters above sea-level. It goes through malo because of the very high level of acidity. 21 days of maceration is really an eyebrow raising thing to do with whites.

Very subtle with a very deep nose of primarily white flowers. Dense, thick and pliant. Very elegant and with impressive balance. Very high quality acidity that stays in the background wrapping sea salt and balsamic oils. Aromatic with aromas of apricot, dried honey, sea grass and complex flavours. Persistent with a slender body.

94-95p/100

2008 D.O.C. Etna Bianco, Pietra Marina superiore

This is a perfect vintage vintage without issues on Etna.

Yellowish pale core colour with tiny green tints.

A little more mature than 2010 now, but the same notes of dried honey and green apple, but also a subtle inner perfume. More generous and even denser and more concentrated than the 2010 vintage, but less balanced. Dominated by apricot, but also some gooseberries, notes of dried honey, salt, green apple and maybe sea grass.

93+p/100

2012 I.G.T. Nerello Cappuccio

A hot vintage even on Etna that stressed the plants.

This is from a northern part of the volcano with only 10 to 30-year-old vines at 900 m altitude. Extraction is 21 days in steel.

Nice nose, but lacks complexity. Notes of barn, earth cellar. Very berry taste; red currant, sourish wild strawberries coated in earthy minerals. Soft and without edges. Yes, simple, but generous and with some finesse.

88-89p/100

2012 Nerello Mascalese

This is from the vineyard Guardiola on the northern-east side at 450-900 m altitude from 60 year-old vines. A difficult warm year with intense heat.

Ruby, opaque red core with pink tints. Incredibly subtle sensual perfume and complexity that captivate my attention.

Well balanced with marking and juvenile tannins at this point. Thin with a clear direction. Racy with tiny and dry red berries. Asian spices. Some anise. Persistent, young, slender and pretty. Pliant and without edges.

92p/100

2009 Nerello Mascalese

This is a blend with 10-20% nerello cappuccio from 15-60 years old vines raised with 30% of the grapes in new wood.

Ruby red half opaque colour.

A little bit more modern nose here with dried raisins, chess nut and flowers.

Textur is still a little lightly sandy and overall thicker compared to its younger counterpart. Clear red fruit fruit but also notes of black berry. Nice and generous.

90-91p/100

2013 D.O.C. Rosso di Verzella

Younger vines of max 40 years from the northern side of the volcano raised in barriques for about 8 months. A good vintage with low yields. Late ripening in mid October.

Colour is blood orange with orange edge and a ruby red core.

Scent starts off with white lilies, diesel and maybe chess nut.  Not the obvious red wine nose.

Medium-bodied and with good concentration as well as spine. Racy with red small berries coated by freshly cut ginger and aromatics. Generous but with the acidity in the very background, but still pleasant and dominated by fresh, ripe red fruit.

91p/100

2011 D.O.C. Rovitello Etna rosso

From the northern side at 750 m altitude and I think he said there was more sand and from what I’ve learned, that would give way for it to be affected with stress by hot temperatures. Vines are about 80 years old. This is a blend of 90% nerello mascalese and the rest nerello capuccio. 12-15 months in barrique. 13.5% in alcohol. A top vintage with very ripe fruit and balance. Late ripening in late October.

Somewhat darker ruby colour than previous wines.

Fine, subtle nose with stylish perfume. Chestnut and notes of wood.

On the palate it has an impressively clean, balsamic and fresh acidity. Fresh, pure and ripe red berries coated in orange-peel. Generous, rounder and fuller body. Super fresh, pretty and silky.

92-93p/100

2011 D.O.C. Serra della Contessa Etna rosso

Lower altitude about 500 m and from the eastern side and from 100-year-old vines. This is a blend of 80% nerello mascalese and the rest nerello capuccio. Long extraction on the skins. A top vintage with very ripe fruit and balance.

Dark ruby red colour.

Very fresh, slow and subtle perfume with peach.

Packed with fresh, pure and cool red fruit dominated by wild strawberries but notes of dark plum and red currant. All coated in fine minerals. Notes of newly cut ginger, Asian spices and anise seeds. Impressive balance and fine depth. It is persistent and elegant too.

93-94p/100

2004 D.O.C. Serra della Contessa Etna rosso

Dark ruby red colour with very dark core and brown-orange edges.

A more aristocratic, deeper but less seductive than its much younger counterpart. Pretty and mature Burgundian-like nose.

Cool, pure and impressively balanced wine. No edges and pliant. Super-silky texture and well integrated with high precision. Full of overripe and earthy strawberries coated in orange-peel.

94p/100

 

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Salvino Benanti and Frederik