Monthly Archives: August 2013

Showdown: 2007 Cannubi, Barolo

The Cannubi vineyard is probably the oldest and most classic of all sites in Barolo. In general it is made up of bluish-gray marl made of Sant-Agata fossils that is rich in manganese/ magnesium carbonate, but also contains some iron and a special combo of lime, clay and sand. It is a blend site of the once existing lake in the barolo area, where the Tortonian- and Helvetian soils meet. This place is known for its balance between structure and elegance as well as complexity and mouth-filling aromas.

The contenders tonight are: Paolo Scavino, Michele Chiarlo, Marchesi di Barolo and Giacomo & Figli Brezza. For the record, an interesting 07 Chiara-boschis Cannubi was ordered at the Swedish Systembolaget, but an 09 was received and therefore refused. It is sad, since this is an interesting producer in this vineyard. Marchesi di Barolo replaced it, but we were certain this might be a mistake already before this tasting. As you can probably see below, all corks where looking fine to this tasting.

The vintage 2007 is a warm year with an unusually early blooming, a whole month earlier than usual, and it was saved by a late cooling period right before an early harvest. The wines are usually very forward, a little fleshy, opulent, intense, but not heavy and still with fresh acidity. There is a tendency for unbalance and it is not great vintage, but still a good one and it is approachable now and will not be long lived. The wines vary a lot in quality among different sites in Barolo and depends on when grapes were harvested. Especially, the Cannubi vineyard was a little troublesome with a lot of variations. Now let’s start off the tasting..

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2007 Marchesi di Barolo “Cannubi”

This estate is the oldest in Barolo and the majority of the grapes grow in a lesser part of the Cannubi sub zone bearing the local name of Cannubi-Muscatel, but since a court decision it too is considered Cannubi. This is bad, since the good parts of the traditional Cannubi site is a part of the hillside and Muscatel is not part of it. Recently it has surprisingly changed their tradition into a more modern one with the use of barriques and somewhat shorter maceration periods. The yield is 40 hl/ha and maceration is done by pumping the juice over the caps for ten days normally. After alcoholic fermentation, the juice is, surprisingly, moved into concrete tanks for malo for about two months. Then the wine is matured in both small barriques and large, neutral barrels (botte) for two years and then another year in bottle.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with white edges. An immediate scent of medicine cabinet, very dry rose petals, earthy cellar, leather, iodine, saline, intense minerals and very unexpectedly butter. Absolutely no fruit or flowers here. Strange nose.

A mid palate of saline, iodine, tobacco, bitter metals, sweet iron, a lot of earthy, burned minerals and almost no fruit. Tannins are heavy and it is flat and bitterly dry.

This is a very strange wine that seems to exclude fruit, an a warm fruit-driven vintage, freshness and balance over sheer masculine with heavy, dry tannins. It is hard to set a score here for such an old producer, when you tremble after reasons why this turned out as bad as it did.

82p/100

Andreas: 

Not very inspiring. Leather and some red berries, mainly raspberries. Slight sweetness and some fruit and a bit salty. Medium finish with some slight bitterness and quite dry tannins. This is not an impressive wine for the price level.

83p/100

2007 Michele Chiarlo “Cannubi”

This estate has a parcel high up in the vineyard and parts of the vines grow in the steep slope of over 50%, where they were the first producer to grow vines. The fermentation is done in big oak barrels of 55 hl and at a temperature of 27-30 degrees Celsius of which maceration goes on for 15 days with pumping over. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 700 liters for two years and the wine rests in bottle for another 15-16 months. We have read but not confirmed that they do not use new oak.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges.

Already after one hour, there is a scent of incredibly fresh and typically classic floral fragrances like fresh, very intense roses, lilies, very seductive perfumes, tar, pastry and some fine tuned lightly burned lime minerals. A very fruity, sexy and seductive nose!

A mid palate packed with ripe red fruits, tar, orange peel, fine tuned minerals and plenty of sweet iron. Sand paper tannins that blend well with the little over-energetic acidity. It is well balanced, generous and mouth-filling wine, but it lacks complexity and depth.The finish suffers just a little from a sweet-bitter iron note but this is a small remark. Open in 2016.

92p/100

Andreas:

Very classical Barolo with strawberries, tar, roses and some tobacco. Quite soft tannins. It is a bit sweet but it is well balanced by the acidity. Generous with red fruit and there are also some tar. Medium length but not very complex and a bit watery. This wine is easy to enjoy, but after a few glasses there is not much more to discover. Very classical Barolo.

92p/100

2007 Giacomo Brezza & Figli “Cannubi”

This estate is very traditional and is run by Enzo Brezza. Their vines in Cannubi are quite young (planted in 1994 and 2003). After harvest they do a first fermentation of 7-8 days in temperatures below 28, during which maceration is done with floating cap and pump-overs. After the primary fermentation the maceration can be extended for 10-15 days. The wine is matured in big, neutral Slovenian oak botti for a minimum of 2 years.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges. A typical barolo scent of fresh roses and other complex floral fragrances, delicate perfumes, iron, tar and fresh menthol. A delicate and complex nose!

A mid palate of sour wild strawberries, some boysenberry jam, plenty of sweet iron, fine minerals, ginger, fennel, very balsamic and tar. Concentration could be better. Texture is quite polished with sandy tannins. Quite long and medium-bodied and balance is fine, but it lacks complexity and concentration. Unfortunately, the finish suffers from the gnarly acidity now and some sharp metals.

Open in 2016.

91+p/100

2007 Paolo Scavino “Cannubi”

Enrico Scavino was one of the first modernist that immediately followed the ideas set up by Elio Altare back in the 80’s to achieve a more international and approachable barolo for the market. Today the daugthers Elisa and Enrica Scavino are taking over the wine making guided by their father Enrico. Vines were planted in 1946. Grapes are picked by hand and de-stemmed. The yield averages approximately 40 hl/ha and the fermentation and maceration is done in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged first in french oak barrels for ten months and after that another 14 months in large neutral casks (botti). Then the wine rests for one year in stainless steel and another ten months in bottle before released on the market.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges.
A scent of very delicately fresh and complex floral fragrances, elegant perfumes, a lot of tar, leather, peppery notes of oak, complex layers of conserved layers of black fruit, wedged grass and extremely fine tuned lightly burned lime minerals. A very delicate and slow nose!

A mid palate of paint, ginger, deep, pure layers of red fruit, blood orange, notes of orange-peel, some tar, fennel, a lot of burned but already fine tuned burned and delicate metallic minerals in the very long, slim and quite elegant finish. This is very pure and delicate and only suffers just a little from excessive alcohol. Texture is quite silky but now with some bite in the end.

95p/100

Andreas:

Deep, ripe red berries, roses, leather and some paint. The nose indicates a higher age.
Taste: Well balanced with the acidity and the tannins. In the beginning there where very slight hints of vanilla, but this disappeared later. There where also red fruit and some alcohol in the end. Quite long finish with depth. This is a high quality wine with great depth and some complexity.

94p/100

The winner this night is the great Cannubi from Paolo Scavino.

1964 Brezza – An old Barolo from a great vintage

I have met with Enzo Brezza in Barolo twice and I have always been impressed by his barolo Bricco Sarmassa. I acquired this old bottle when I visited him two years ago and this wine, as other old barolos, does not label a specific vineyard and I don’t know if it back in the 60’s was a blend of Sarmassa and some Castellero or just Sarmassa. All I know is that the estate owned parcels in the Sarmassa and Castellero at the time but not in Ravera, San Pietro and the Cannubi was acquired much later in the 90’s. As always corks may be an issue with old barolos and this one was a little loose so it had me worried, but as soon as I started to pour the wine in the decanter and had a sniff, it was obvious that the wine was fine. What a relief! 1964 is one of the greatest vintage in Barolo and is usually still fresh and not dry. I’m exited..

1964 Brezza Barolo

Colour is very transparent, orange-red middle and rusty-orange edges.

After about half an hour, there is a scent of fresh and complex roses and lilies, a lot of savoury notes, exotic spices, pastry, tiny notes of earth minerals, balsamic notes, leather, meat and dried oil paint. This really has a very delicate, versatile and complex nose!

The mid palate that is very savoury and offers broth, over-ripe but fresh sweet wild strawberries, blood orange, ginger, pastry, notes of caramelised sugars, metals, herbs and some tar. Very elegant polished, quite silky, and soft tannins. Concentration is great and structure is slim. It lacks some depth, but this is redeemed by its complexity and elegance. This is an elegant wine from a classic site, not a powerful one. It sure resembles a lot of the Sarmassa characteristics. It is quite persistent too and all is very integrated here in great balance. The finish is unfortunately a little austere which is sad in such a great wine that is so complex and still fresh, but overall it is aged barolo when it is enjoyable.


94+p/100


Burgundy – A guide to Volnay and its vineyards

On last year’s trip to Burgundy we only visited two producers in Volnay: Nicolas Rossignol and Domaine de la Pousse d’Or. During the coming months we are planning to dig deeper in Volnay, its producers and characteristics and therefore we start with an introduction to the area and some of the vineyards. In parts this will get at bit technical, but it is meant as an introduction which we will refer back to in later blog posts. So bare with us…

The plan, preliminary, is to taste the following four producers and wines:
– Domaine de Montille: Les Brouillards 2006 vs. Les Taillepieds 2006
– Domaine Marquis d’Angerville: Taillepieds 2003 vs. Champans 2003
– Domaine Nicolas Rossignol: Chevrets 2007 vs. Le Ronceret 2010
– Domaine Michel Lafarge: Clos des Chenes 2006 vs. Clos du Chateau des Ducs 2006

If you have any recommendations or input, please let us know.

You can also follow me on Instagram: @ultimatewinekick and Twitter on @uwk_andreas for more frequent updates.

Overview of Volnay

Volnay is an appellation in the Côte de Beaune district in Burgundy which got its controlled appellation status in 1937. The village Volnay is situated south of Beaune and the neighbouring appellations are Pommard and Meursault. On this link you find a map of the Burgundy region.

In Volnay you can find fantastic wines at reasonable prices compared to other famous appellations e.g. Vosne-Romanée or Chambolle-Musigny in the neighbour district Côte de Nuits, but you need good knowledge about vineyards, producers and of course your personal preferences. It has been said that Volnay is the Chambolle-Musigny of the Côte de Beaune, which may be true for some vineyards in the hands of the right domains. The wines can be very delicate and elegant rather than powerful with a fragrant bouquet and offer a high level of complexity and deep aromas. The top wines are usually described as feminine, having feather-light, slim structure and developing the most silky tannins of Burgundy. Comparisons are sometimes made with Pommard since it is a neighbouring area, but the differences are evident, even though the vineyards bordering the areas may have similarities. In 2008 the annual production was approximately one million bottles which was produced from 206.7 hectares. More than half of the production is Premier Cru wines. No grand cru wines exist in Volnay.

The terroir of Volnay contains a high proportion of limestone, often with a surface of marl. In general the hills are quite steep and compared to other appellations in the region, more faced towards south east instead of east. In a simplified overview the Premier Cru vineyards of Volnay can be sorted into three clusters, based on geography. For a map of the Volnay vineyards click here.

South of the village Volnay you find the first cluster with Clos des Chênes and Taillepieds furthest uphill and vineyards like Caillerets and Champans downhill from these. In general you find more limestone uphill and an increasing level of stony soil further downhill. You can also include Santenots, which is in Meursault, but the red wines produced in this vineyard are classified as Volnays.

The second cluster includes vineyards close to or in the village. These include, among others, Clos de la Bousse d’Or, Clos des Ducs, Le Village and Clos de la Chapelle. Here you find marl (calcareous clay) and a high proportion of white chalk. Previously these where gathered under the name Le Village, but after 1985 they are allowed to use the individual names, which has resulted in quite small vineyards of which a few are Monopole, i.e. the whole vineyard is owned by one Domaine.

The third cluster includes vineyards close to Pommard (Les Chanlins and Les Frémiets) and the ones further down the slope (e.g. Les Brouillards and Les Mitans). These are usually not regarded as the finest vineyards of Volnay, since the wines often lack some of the elegance and finesse of the wines produced in the other vineyards. Still there are exceptions to the rule. Wines produced from really old vines (vielles vignes) in the best positions and in the hands of the best Domaines.

A deeper dive into some of the Volnay vineyards

The selection of vineyards below is based on either quality or the fact that we are going to taste wines from these vineyards in the close future. Most of the vineyards are from cluster one, since this is a large cluster with high quality vineyards, but we will also test wines from the other clusters, therefore I also included Clos du Chateau des Ducs from cluster two and Les Brouillards from cluster three.

Clos des Chênes, which produces some of the best wines of the region, is situated south of Volnay and high up on the hillside. It contains a mix of limestone marl and clay-limestone. At the bottom of the vineyard there is more red soil with a higher level of iron and the further up you move the limestone takes over. The vineyard faces southeast and gets steeper further up. Two of the top producers from this vineyard are Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Domaine Michel Lafarge.

Les Caillerets is situated next to Meursault, just downhill from Clos des Chênes, and is regarded to be among the top vineyards of Volnay. The name (The Small Pebbles) comes from the stones in the soil, which is made up of limestone and calcium rich clay. The vineyard is facing east and south east. Usually the wines have mineral tones and a clear structure. Domaine Michel Lafarge and Nicolas Rossignol are two of the more famous producers of Les Caillerets.

Les Taillepieds, with its 7.17 ha, is said to have been given its name because the sharp stones that damaged the feet of the people working at the vineyard. Just as with Clos des Chênes we find a lot of limestone here, but also marl. It also has a more southerly exposure than Clos des Chênes. Les Taillepieds is another top vineyard of the region and it produces wine that age very well. Examples of top producers are Domaine de Montille and Marquis d’Angerville.

En Chevret is surrounded by some of the top Premier Cru sites in Volnay, including Clos des Chênes and Caillerets. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone and has quite high levels of iron. The wines are quite concentrated and structured. Nicolas Rossignol is one of the more known producers from this vineyard.

Santenots-du-Milieu is a section of the Santenots vineyard in Meursault, on the border to Volnay. The 22.36 hectare vineyard faces southeast and has clay soil above a base of limestone. Although the vineyard is based in Meursault, the wines can be classified as Volnay wines partly because the vineyard is better suited for Pinot Noir while the Meursault name is famous for white wines. The wines lack the elegance of the top vineyards of Volnay, but are usually quite rich, and have a higher level of tannins. The wines can have similarities with wines from Pommard or Gevrey-Chambertin. Domaine des Comtes Lafon and Domaine Faiveley are two of the more famous producers in Santenots-du-Milieu.

En Champans is one of the larger vineyards in Volnay and situated in the heart of the Volnay region, south east of the village. There are high levels of limestone at the top of the vineyard but further down the soil contains more clay. Both the size and the differences within the vineyard result in large differences between En Champans wines. Examples of top producers are Domaine de Montille and Marquis d’Angerville.

The Clos du Chateau des Ducs is a Lafarge Monopole of 0.57 ha and has vines which are between 16-55 years old. The vineyard has been owned by the family for a century. There are approximately 40 cm of soil on top of a layer of gravel and underneath is bedrock.

Les Brouillards is a small vineyard located between Les Mitans and Pommard and on the lower part of the hillside. The upper part of the vineyard is stony with limestone and marl, and further downhill there is more soil. The wines produced from Les Brouillards are usually more generous and fruity than structured.

Showdown: 2010 grand cru Les Clos, Chablis

The vineyard Les Clos is the most long-lived, complex, luscious and in my opinion the most elegant of the seven grand crus in Chablis. A much less high maintenance, charming and seductive princess compared to the elegant and graceful queen of Montrâchet, when it comes to wines based on chardonnay. It is also the largest vineyard spanning 27 ha and it is known for its Kimmeridgian soil that contains tremendous amount of white-grey lime stone and calcareous clay. Same type found in most parts of Sancerre (Loire) and Champagne.

The vintage 2010 is classic and very highly regarded in Chablis, even though frost and uneven, poor flowering rendered a very low yield, 30-50% lower than normal. Malo was slower to complete than usual but without issues and the vintage is even better than the great 2008 and offers very high concentration, high levels of acidity and perfect balance provided that you harvested at the right time. It will have a longer life than normal, maybe even 20 years! Hence, it is now just a baby, but we are interested in the vintage and some producers that people have been talking about lately.

The contenders for the title of best Les Clos wine are Christian Moreau Pére e fils and Domaine William Fevre.

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The contenders in Les Clos

2010 Christian Moreau Pére & Fils “Les Clos”

Vines are 40-65 years old. Christian Moreau and his son Fabien are running the estate. Moreau works ecologically and is moving into biological cultivation without weed-killers or pesticides of any kind. Grapes are handpicked and a second selection is done at arrival in the winery. Yields are not kept at a certain level at this estate it seems, but rather natural, so no idea what the outtake was in this vintage. A gentle and careful pressing of the grapes is done by a pneumatic wine press. The grape must is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel with natural yeast. They started using natural yeast in 2008. Then 35% is aged for six months on fine lees in barriques, of which 10% are new. Cool racking is applied. After six months, the grapes in barriques are blended back with the rest in stainless steel and aged for another half year. Open 2016-2025. Costs €52.
Sir Galahad:

Colour is pale, transparent light yellow.
After 1.5 hour a very pleasant fragrance of white flowers, fresh apricot, notes of toffee, balsamic notes, nettle, some buttercup, beeswax and burned lime stone minerals. Very nice nose!
A mid palate of citrus, apricot, grape fruit, pine apple, a little saline and some burned chalky minerals. It is aromatic, generous, medium-bodied, quite rich and has medium length. However, very surprisingly it is a little low on acidity, from vintage plenty of it, causing some flatness and it is less fresh as well as carrying some residual sugars that disturbs the palate. Did they harvest too late or needed to chapitalise and made a mistake?..

After a really good nose, the taste was a surprising disappointment. Even though the wine is generous and aromatic, it certainly is a little flat, lacks energy as well as complexity and elegance.

91+p/100

Andreas: 

Nose: Honey, apricot and some floral notes. Very fresh and pleasant nose.
Taste: Quite soft acidity and not very integrated. Again the honey is clear but also some exotic fruits.
Finish: Quite short and sweet.
Summary: This is a generous wine, but when compared with the Fevre it lacks complexity. The nose promises more than the wine can deliver.

92p/100

2010  William Fevre “Les Clos”

Didier Séguier is in control of the wine making since 1998 when the champagne house Joseph Henriot bought the estate from William Fevre. Didier was very successful with Bouchard in Beaune before arriving to this estate and is obviously a perfectionist with an extreme focus on preserving terroir and quality in terms of purity, freshness and elegance. Three of Fevre’s four parcels are in the highest parts of the vineyard whereas one is further down, so this way they can make their final blend by vinifying the parcels separately. Fevre works ecologically and vines are 28-60+ years old here of which 50% are planted in the 1940s. During harvest grapes are handpicked and yields are kept as low as 29 hl/ha and a second selection/sorting is done when arriving at the winery. A very gentle and careful pressing of grape bunches (no de-stemming) is done by pneumatic pressure and the grape juice is not pumped around in the process, but force of gravity is used to affect the grape juice as little as possible. After pressing, the grape juice is resting for a day in stainless steel vats. The wine is clarified only by letting the sediments and lees fall to the bottom in stainless steel. After some rest, about 70% of the grapes are fermented in six years old barriques with natural yeast and on its lees, no new oak is used and no batonage is carried out, until about 6-8 months it is blended with the rest on steel tanks. Matures another six months, or until it is ready, in steel to retain its flavors and to stabilise before bottling. This vintage was harvested early before the rain on the 25th of September. Costs €71. Open now or even better in 2016-2025+.

Sir Galahad:

Colour is transparent, clear light yellow.
After almost two hours of air in a decanter, the wine is slowly waking up and emerges with a scent of incredibly fresh and complex floral fragrances, imposingly pure citrus fruits and extremely fine tuned burned, vibrating lime minerals. An impressive delicate and complex nose indeed!
The mid palate offers extremely pure aromas of lime, impressive deep layers of fresh citrus fruits, passion fruit, apricot, dried honey, roasted almond, shale stone, fresh balsamic notes and elegant fine tuned burned minerals. A very fresh and crispy acidity is building the structure to the intense, extraordinary long lingering finish. The wine literally takes a hold of you with a firm grip and lead you into a wonderful dance to beautiful music. It is surprisingly powerful for a Chablis in a very good way and it is with less weight and more energy it is build. And above all this its balance is sensational.

Wow, I am in love with this wine! 🙂 This is the kind of wine that makes you fumble after expressive words, but I was blown away by its purity, freshness, complexity and balance. The wine is simply so enchanting that you just want to spend hours with it without worrying about time or anything else less important as it continues to firing off long, pure, super-fresh, rich, elusive, but lovely, flavours and all this at a sensational balance. And it is just a baby! A truly complete wine and monumental achievement of Didier and his crew! I definitely need to buy more bottles before they run out, especially from this vintage. Make sure to serve it at correct temperature i.e. about 11-12 °C! After decanting it for at least two hours, put it back into the wine cooler or refrigerator for a while, but in the latter case don’t forget to cover it from everything else in there.

97p/100

Andreas:

Nose: Pineapple, minerals, some citrus, floral and after a few hours peaches enters the palate.
Taste: Minerals, some soft honey taste in the background, very crisp acidity but still surprisingly full bodied.
Finish: A very nice finish driven by the acidity.
Summary: This is a complex wine which needs several years to develop before the full potential is reached. You want to spend several hours exploring this fantastic wine.

95-97p/100

Summary

The Fevre wins by first round knockout and totally outclasses the Moreau in the Les Clos.

2005 Renato Ratti “Rocche”

The vineyard Rocche dell’Annunziata is one of the obvious unofficial “grand crus” in the Barolo area of La Morra alongside Brunate and Cerequio. The La Morra site, in general, has a lot in common with the feminine style elegance of the barbaresco area with typically more softer tannins, slimmer structure and fine tuned character than other areas in Barolo. You find the vineyard just below the town La Morra downwards in the valley with a south-facing exposition. Soil here has a top layer with very much bluish marl (calcareous clay and slit) and streaks of white sand and further down you find a combo of slit-sand and tufa. A composition that in collaboration with sun and cool nights produces elegant and fragrant, floral classy burgundy-style barolos.

Ratti’s parcel were planted in 1955 and has very good south-west exposition at 280 meters above sea-level. Yield is respectably low at 35 hl/ha, grapes are 100% de-stemmed and crushed. A modern shorter maceration is carried out for seven days in steel rotor fermentor vats at 30 °C to produce a more approachable wine. Alcoholic fermentation continues in steel and the malo is done in wood. And aging for the first year is done in 100% new french barriques and then in bigger 25 hl neutral barrels (botte). Currently the son of Renato Ratti, Pietro is running the estate.

The vintage 2005 has an early drink window, is a very good one too that just may lack concentration and backbone and the producer aims at approachable wines, so now I am exited.

Color: dark ruby-red color and a little rusty orange edge.
Nose: Menthol, roses, lilies, very complex subtle perfumes, notes of metals (Magnesium?), mature ripe wild strawberries, some tar, fresh herbs, balsamic notes and fine tunes earthy minerals. Very complex, fresh and pleasant nose indeed!
Taste: The very pleasant mid palate offers fresh mature wild strawberries, boysenberries, fennel, anise, truffles, white pepper, notes of blood orange and fine tuned earthy minerals. Tannins are not yet polished and a little heavy now, but very promising and appears ripe. Medium-bodied and very slim structure as expected and quite long too. Concentration is good, contains very subtle interesting complex aromas and there is some deep layers of fruit too, but on the bad side here is a little austere finish with a little sharp metals and not too pleasant burned chalky minerals that totally covers all the great layers of fruit here. I first wondered if I just had a bad bottle, but I didn’t notice any defects on the cork. The acidity is currently gnarly and obviously does not help the rest now, but it will of course integrate much more with the tannins in a few years. A minor excessive alcohol disturbs the palate a little and on the bottle it says 14.5%.

To sum it up, a lovely, super-fresh and elegant nose without any oak vanilla covering or disturbing the aromas, except for some white pepper from the toasting, and this just shows how skilled Pietro Ratti is with new oak. A very good wine, but currently a little unbalanced and a disappointing austere-metallic finish with just some excessive alcohol. I am not worried about integration of the tannins and acidity in say 5-6 years from now, even though I expected a more approachable wine at this stage, but will the finish improve too?.. Hopefully it does with time, but now it is hard to set a score. Cost about €73. My guess is that it should be opened in 2017-2035.

92-93p/100.