Monthly Archives: September 2013

2006 Roagna Langhe Rosso

“Roagna does not change” is the slogan of the estate who with pride preserves the tradition in Langhe and they are known for their massive maceration of as much as 100 days for its best cru and long time in Slavonian and French medium-sized oak barrels as well before their bottles are released. Roagna is somewhat like the unusual cross-breed of a heavy metal attitude when it comes to conveying terroir and the refinement, uniqueness and complexity of a Wagner opera. In their youth, their wines doesn’t necessarily, explicitly flirt or seduce, but I think it is this diversity and contrast between fine, complex details and a somewhat bold flavours that makes it so special, unique and enjoyable as well as the ambition to make honest, high quality wines that are transparent to the very unique characteristics of Langhe. Yes, we like their wines a lot. Today the estate is run by Luca Roagna, the 5th generation of this estate that was established back in the mid 1800.

Naturally, this ultra-tradition requires a lot of patience from its followers that may have to wait one or often two decades for their wines to peek. This was one of the reasons that elevated the “modernista” movement in Barolo back in the 80’s, but there has been a renaissance of traditional wine making that is transparent to terroir in Piedmont in recent years where traditionalists have been somewhat rediscovered. Even so, several traditionalist has shortened their maceration period a little to make their wines more approachable and it is here that Roagna stand out today as an extreme protector of tradition. Nevertheless, Roagna has in recent years become somewhat like a cult, especially in Scandinavia, as many consumers have got tired of oaky fruit-bombs from the new world that in general taste the same everywhere and seek something interesting and original. While waiting for their single vineyard wines to develop for a very long time to be ready and drinkable, Roagna offers an approachable langhe rosso that easily can compete with barolos. Currently, the latest vintage is 2006.

2006 Roagna langhe rosso

This wine is from younger vines (about 30 yrs) from the vineyard Cascina Pira in Rocche di Castiglione Falletto (Barolo) and Roagna’s lower parts of the vineyard pajé (Barbaresco cru just outside their property). Grapes are hand-picked when tannins are ripe, de-stemmed and gently pressed. Maceration is very long in 30-50 days depending on vintage, but for a Roagna wine this extraction is short. Hence, the goal here is obviously to produce a more approachable wine for early drinking, but without sacrificing its typical genuine, honest characteristics from its sites, its terroir.

Sir Galahad:
The colour is dark ruby-red with transparent light orange edges.Some stable notes in the beginning and then after hours of decanting there are scents of leather jacket, solvent, distinct wood glue, decaying autumn leaves, coaling firewood, herbs, earthy minerals, some dried red flowers and plenty of tar/new asphalt. A broad-spanning nose, bold and complex and dominated by male characteristics and as always with this producer it is unique and very personal, but still with a very fresh nose.

A mid palate of blood pudding, broth, distinct orange peel, autumn forest floor, layers of dry and jammy dark fruit, dry licorice root, earthy minerals, very fresh balsamic notes and loads of tar. It is long and has an impressive building structure and it is full-bodied and powerful, but not heavy. Texture is sandy, but somewhat dirty, unclean and the tannins are really thick, soft and chewy. The saline, but as noted balsamic, acidity is very energetic and promises a long life for this wine to be fresh. This is more complex, more concentrated and absolutely has a bigger structure than the approachable 2005.

A great, very unique, complex, generous and even better langhe rosso than the already really good 2005 that has become our “house wine”. It is still a baby, but in a few years I am sure this will be even better. This vintage just makes me even more convinced how unique and incredibly price-worthy this wine really is. A little young, but very drinkable now but even better in 2-3 years if you can wait. Costs about €20.

92p/100

Domaine de Montille – Domaine profile and tasting of Les Taillepieds and Les Brouillards 2006

This is the first Domaine in our series on the Volnay vineyards and producers, so we start off with a Domaine that matches our preferences for wines which reflects origin and terroir. Our expectations were high. 


The estate

The de Montille family has a long history in the region and the Domaine has since 1863 had the name de Montille. The family had a fantastic treasure of vineyards, including lots in Musigny, Bonnes Mares and Amoureuses, but these were unfortunately sold off step by step. Fortunately, this negative trend was stopped and reversed during Hubert de Montilles leadership and later his son Étienne has continued the expansion of the Domaine which now also includes lots in vineyards e.g. Clos Vougeot (Dix Journaux) and Aux Malconsorts. The latter addition was made in 2005 in a joined purchase with domaine Dujac when Thomas Molliard sold out of all his parcels in the vineyard including a very special part close to La Tâche that the domaine acquired when the two domaines divided the vineyards among each other. This interesting wine is bottled under the name “Christiane”. In 2011 the Domaine had grown to 20 hectares, of which 75% are Premier or Grand Crus.
 
Hubert is a colourful character with strong opinions and beliefs, which has created the foundation for the Domaine we see today. During his active years he combined his leadership of the Domain with a career in law, which is a family tradition. He started his work for the Domaine in 1947 and broke the tradition of selling wine to négociants (who in turn bottle and sell the wine) and instead bottled the wines under the name Domaine de Montille.
Huberts children Étienne and Alix have now taken over the Domaine, although they first followed the family tradition and studied law. Étienne started working part time for the Domaine already in 1983 and then full time after 2001. Alix returned to the Domaine in 2003 when she together with Étienne started up a négociant business under the name “Deux Montille Sœur-Frère”. Since 2006 Alix has also taken over the responsibility for the white wines of Domaine de Montille.

The wine making 

Here we focus on the red wines, which are produced by Étienne.

Domaine de Montille is known for authenticity, purity, elegance and balance. The wines should always reflect the terroir and develop well with age. These are values shared between Hubert and Étienne. 
However, there are some differences in the wine making between Étienne and Hubert. Hubert is a strong advocate for ageing wine and is frustrated with today’s hurry in drinking wine young. The wines he produced were very austere and rigid at young age, but developed fantastically over time. Hubert always stayed true to his goal of producing wine he himself would want to drink, not wines that were easy to sell.
 
Although Étienne has great respect for his fathers opinions he has challenged a few “old rules” and implemented some new ways of working in both the vineyard and in the winery. In the vineyard they have moved to first organic (1995) and then bio dynamic (2005) farming. He has also made some changes to the style of the wine. He states that: “I have added some fruit succulence and a velvet texture. The tannins are rounder and leave the charm of certain appellations to open up. I do this never forgetting to respect the terroir and our tradition”. These changes in style have been achieved by a more flexible and increased usage of whole clusters (starting with 2005 vintage) of grapes in the fermentation, changes to the harvesting and tuning of the extraction process.
The number of whole clusters was previously quite fixed from year to year, but today it is depending on the quality of the crop of the specific year. In general Étienne is using much more whole clusters than his father ever did, since this renders a more complex wine with more structure, but according to Étienne even more importantly this renders silkier texture and increase of aromatics. In addition, Étienne harvest later when fruit and tannins are really ripe, even though this may exceed perfect sugar levels. The riper the tannins in the stems, the less bitterness and silkier natural tannins in the grapes. Consequently, the late harvest leads to higher alcohol content because of more sugars, where their wines now can reach above 13% which is more than the 12% Hubert preferred. In addition, they have also split the lots into smaller parcels which can be picked at different times in order to optimise the quality. Étienne and Hubert have both been quite moderate with new wood in the ageing process, where the premier crus and grand crus usually are exposed to 20-30%. After for 2-3 days cold soak, maceration (cuivason) is traditional prolonging for 15-21 days in open vats in uncontrolled high temperatures with daily punch-downs (pigéage).

The wines

For more information about the vineyards, read our previous post on “Burgundy – A guide to Volnay and its vineyards”
Both wines tested are from the 2006 vintage which is considered good and known for being a very uneven one having quite large fluctuations in quality for red burgundy. In general the wines from 2006 have a very early drinking window and produce fruity and fresh wines, but in general lacks concentration and structure. Especially in Volnay. However, as usual, skilled producers can usually still produce good wines. So we are pushing it a little here..

2006 Volnay 1er Cru Les Brouillards

Their lot in Les Brouillards has a very good position in the southern part, quite close to Les Mitans, where you mainly find limestone and marl. If you are interested in an overview of the area and the vineyards I can recommend the Domaines website.

The Les Brouillards is usually fruit driven and has less structure than other wines from the region, so considering the vintage for this tasting, this can be a more light wine than usual. It should open up quite early and therefore we expect the 2006 to be ready for drinking now. Open now-2020. Costs €48.

Andreas:

Nose: Ripe red berries, perfumed, some cherries, floral, menthol, oranges and strawberries. Very seductive and already quite mature on the nose.
Taste: Generous with lots of red berries and a bit sweet. Good balance with the acidity.
Finish: Not very long, but pleasant and fruit driven.
Summary: This is a very seductive wine, especially on the nose. What is lacking is structure and complexity.
Score: 91/100p


Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark middle, a little red-orange edge.
Nose: Distinct rowanberries, very ripe red fruit, dry orange peel, some water-on-stone and seductive perfumes.
Taste: Some subtle exotic herbs, plenty of warm red fruit, ginger, orange peel, fennel, caramelised sugars and fine tuned burned minerals. It is too light-weighted and unfortunately it practically has no structure, lacks concentration and elegance too, but acidity is energetic and it is a true seductive charmer.

90p/100

2006 Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds

Link in Wine-searcher

From the Taillepieds we expect a deep wine with tight tannic structure and clear minerality. This is one of the top Premier Crus vineyards, and one which the family de Montille considers to be close to or at Grand cru level. The Taillepieds also ages fantastically. Open now-2025. Costs €68.

Andreas:

Nose: Depth, hints of iron, quite dark berries and some raspberries, fragrant, chalk and cherries.
Taste: Already well balanced, with good structure. Some stony minerality, fine tannins, hints of sweetness and quite concentrated.
Finish: Quite long finish with a fine tannic structure.
Summary: This is a fantastic wine which has depth, structure and elegance. It will develop for many years but is already now approachable.
Score: 94/100p


Sir Galahad:

Colour: Very dark middle; almost black, a little red-orange edge.
Nose: Very fine tuned limestone minerals, conserved blackberries, deep black fruit, menthol, a scent of lilies, very delicate red flowers and stylish perfumes. A very deep, complex and elegant, subtle nose!
Taste: Some sourish, deep layers of ripe boysenberries, iron, orange peel, metals, pastry, notes of ginger and fennel. All aromas resting, beautifully on a backbone of incredibly fine tuned minerals. Distinct structure, great concentration and texture is velvety, silky in the quite long finish driven by an energetic acidity but all with impressive balance.

Considering the vintage, this wine offers great concentration, distinct structure and impresses with its balance. I am curious how a better vintage like 1999 or 2002 would be like.

93+p/100

Summary

We are very impressed with the wines we have tried from de Montille so far. Just as expected the wines from Étiennes regime are very approachable already, but of course this has to do a lot with the vintage too. Both wines are quite generous and seductive and we cannot help but wondering how the older wines from Hubert’s time would have performed compared to these newer wines from the Domaine. Often we have a preference for wines which follow traditional methods, even though they are tough to drink in their youth. We will therefore try to get our hands on an older bottle of de Montille for a comparison. If we succeed we will get back to you about that.

Showdown: The Bussia vineyard, Barolo 2006

The vineyard Bussia in the commune of Monforte d’Alba in Barolo is a very long stretched area from the town of Monforte d’Alba in the very south of the Barolo region up to somewhere in between the town of Barolo and the town of Castiglione-Falletto. The vineyard used to be divided up in about 14 separate vineyards known to the locals. Actually, it is ridiculously large for a vineyard to make any sense for anybody trying to understand its terroir and potential quality. Because of this, the soil varies a lot depending on if you are close to the other areas and of course your exposition. Some producers mark their lieu-dit on the bottle e.g. Aldo Conterno, Oddero to mention a few. However, the soil in general consist of marl, limestone, marine fossil sediments, plenty of iron and tufa and has the potential of producing very concentrated, structured and firm wines with a lot of deep, rich aromas and with great ageing potential. The latter trait also usually requires patience.

Contenders today are Giacomo Fenocchio and Silvano Bolmida in the vintage 2006. This vintage is old-school classic and certainly on the heavy side. In Monforte d’Alba this means a little more of everything and its wine may in some cases probably take two decades until they peek. So now it is absolutely just a baby and will require a lot of patience. Now let’s check in the contenders and taste the wines..




2006 Giacomo Fenocchio “bussia” Riserva wine-searcher-link

http://www.giacomofenocchio.com

This is a very traditional estate that is very true to its terroir and put all their effort into the vineyard. The kind we like. The estate was established in 1864 and is now managed by Claudio Fenocchio with the help of his brothers. As mentioned, Bussia is a too stretched area in order to understand its terroir and quality but this wine is from the lieu-dit “Bussia Sottana” as you probably can see in fine print on the label in the above picture. You can always trust traditionalists! You will find Bussia Sottana, if you draw a straight line between the Barolo town and the town of Castiglione-Falletto and put your finger in the middle of that line. Its immediate neighbour is the well known top lieu-dit Rocche di Castiglione on the right handside that cross boundaries among appelations here. In fact, it is a very interesting mixed zone, so it has some resemblance to the soil characteristics of Castiglione-Falletto area too. Basically this means that it adds clay and just a little less limestone that might render a little less power and more velvety texture.


Vines in Fenocchio’s parcel are about 30 years old, has perfect south-west exposition and the size of their parcel is 0.5 ha. Yield is about 45 hl/ha and grapes are 100% de-stemmed and gently crushed. Maceration is carried out for ten days or more depending on vintage with daily “pumping over”. The juice is fermented for 30 days and then a little unusually it is aged in stainless steel for six months and then put to rest in big, neutral barrels (botte) for three years. Then refinement for several months in bottle before release. Open 2020-2040+. Costs about €40.
 
Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark ruby middle and just a little orange, transparent edges.
Nose: After about four hours, there is a very careful and slow scent of fresh, seductive and complex floral fragrances of grace in the glass; typically top notes of rose petals, lilies. Other notes follow like fresh red fruit, tar, oil paint, leather, metals, dog rose and very fine tuned limestone minerals. A very delicate, slow and fragrant nose!
Taste: A mid palate of cool, fresh boysenberries, sourish wild strawberries, menthol, fennel, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals, plenty of iron, shale stone, some spice and tar. Tannins are already somewhat polished with soft, sandy texture and they are chewy, but absolutely neither heavy nor harsh. On the contrary, it is less tannic and powerful than you might expect from Bussia and maybe it confirms its special location. Even though concentration is really good and it is mouth-filling, structure is quite slim and beautifully light-weighted. Its balance is impressive. The acidity is energetic, fresh and just a little whining now but the wine is just a baby, so obviously this will improve and is very promising, so if you can resist opening it, you should most likely forget it for another 7-8 years.

A very well balanced, quite complex and very persistent wine with classic elegance. It is surprisingly quite approachable already, but I think it really has a lot of potential to be even better if you manage to be patient.

94+p/100

Andreas:

Nose: It took a few hours but when it opened up it was fantastic. Fresh red berries, roses, oil paint, balsamic and some tar. After even more hours in the decanter it had a hint of whisky.
Taste: Good balance between acidity, fruit and tannins, but it will improve a lot when it gets more integrated. The tannins are quite soft but can get a bit dry. There are also minerals and a hint of alcohol.
Finish: Quite long acidic finish.
Summary: This is a fantastic wine but right now it is very young.

94p/100

2006 Silvano Bolmida “bussia” wine-searcher-link

http://www.silvanobolmida.com

Vines in Bolmida’s vineyard are 50 years old. Unfortunately, I cannot find out where his parcels are located in Bussia. Grapes are not de-stemmed, but bunches are crushed. Maceration is carried out for four weeks, so this long extraction is interesting. Vinification and ageing is done in a combo of small french barriques, some new, and bigger neutral barrels (botte). Another 14 months refining in bottle before release.


Colour: Dark ruby middle with somewhat transparent edges.
Nose: After about two hours, there is a scent of glue, solvent, truffle, fresh roses, tar, medicinal notes, earth, savoury, sulphur, shale stone and fir-needle. Fine nose and unusual.
Taste: A mid palate of a somewhat rustic tone, dark but not too much fruit here, saline, iodine, a lot of earthy, austere minerals and fennel. Tannins are not harsh, rather quite soft with sandy texture, but unfortunately very dry. Furthermore, there is an unpleasant, sharp metals, austere iodine and sulphur in the end on the tongue of the medium-long finish. Some excessive alcohol doesn’t help either. Unfortunately, it is a little flat too and the acidity is saline.

Even though the wine has a fine, interesting nose and it offers a vast palate and tannins are quite soft already, it is unbalanced, lacks fruit, has an unpleasant austere tone, it is a little flat and the tannins are dry. My guess to opening it in 2018 and hope for the best. Costs about €40.


86p/100

Andreas:

Nose: Earthy, iron, leather, lots of red berries and some cherries. Reminds me of Clos de Vougeot wines from burgundy. Very pleasant. 
Taste: The taste is quite fresh and the acidity is good. Not as much fruit as expected from the nose. The alcohol comes forward a bit too much. 
Finish: Ok finish with soft and quite dry tannins. 
Summary: A pleasant wine but nothing special. The nose is very appealing, but from there the impression goes down a bit. Still an ok buy if you like modern Barolos.
 

 

88p/100