Monthly Archives: November 2013

An impressive entry barolo from Ceretto

The vineyard Zonchetta on the border of the communes La Morra and Barolo is called Zonchera in old Piemontese language and that is what Ceretto puts on one of its bold labels. I am pretty sure that Ceretto still buys this fruit from producers in this interesting vineyard that is situated a bit down in the valley with east-north-east exposition between the great unofficial grand crus; Brunate and Cerrequio. It has more than 50% of calcareous clay, lower level of sand and no sandstone that has the potential of producing elegant, comparably less tannic wines with finesse.

Grapes undergoes maceration for a long time for a modernist, so this should extract more aromas from the terroir. Fermentation inclusive malo is carried out in steel. When malo is finished, the wine is moved into barriques of which 50% are new for 12 months and then the wine is put into neutral big barrels for another 12 months. I am pretty sure this is a change from keeping it in barriques for more than 24 months in previous years and even during malo at times, before 2005.


2007 Ceretto Barolo Zonchera

Colour: Dark ruby red, white edges.
Nose: Solvent, oil paint, tar, grass, truffle, balsamic-fresh minerals, autumn leaves. After an hour of airing, lovely violets and fragrant roses emerges from the glass. An elegant and terroir-complex nose.
Taste: Deep, ripe and caressing fruit; boysenberries, plum and cherries. A little on the sweet side. Tar, worn leather, anise, orange-peel, distinct dry licorice, some toffee and very fine tuned balsamic minerals. The wine is very approachable, round, texture is really fine sandy almost silky already and tannins are soft and of good quality. The structure is almost full-bodied and the tannins and the very fresh balsamic acidity converge beautifully in the persistent finish.

We have tasted other earlier vintages from Ceretto and had some issues with overuse of oak, but here Alessandro and Federico Ceretto’s team have obviously been cutting down on the time new oak is in contact with the juice and clearly show that they really got it right this vintage. We really enjoy its transparency for terroir, its richness, complexity and unexpected level of elegance at this price level. Open now-2020. Costs about €35.

93+p/100

French complex personality from Grave, Bordeaux

We are very in to the religion of having only one grape of the type that is so impressionable and delicately, affected by its origin – its terroir, that it sometime gets hard to convince us to to taste a blended one with multiple grapes building that wine. 🙂

Bordeaux, by tradition are skilled on the art of blending grapes; in this case they blend as much as 52% merlot and the rest is cabernet sauvignon for structure and backbone. Thus a lot of the charmy, fruity and sappy character is added from the merlot that grows in clayey soil in Pessac-Léognan, Graves. They de-stem absolutely 100%, i.e. removing each grape by hand which is very time-consuming. The wine ages for 18 months in french oak barrels. Bernard Magrez is the current owner of the Château Pape Clement that dates back to 1305.

The vintage 2006 was troublesome, with uneven weather that was quite hot in summer until harvest in September were it turned soggy and caused a lot of rot and grapes did not reach full ripeness in many places. The vintage in general is more tannic, a little off-balance and fruit may not be as ripe as a classic year like 2005, but Graves suffered less than many other areas.

2006 Château Pape-Clément

Colour: Very dark ruby red, crimson-red edges.
Nose: Smoke, dusty gravel, obvious stable, lead pencil, distinct shale, earth, forest floor and minerals. A complex nose, quite deep really that is driven by the unique terroir of Graves.
Taste: The mid palate offers very dark, fresh, sappy and distinct black- and blue mineral-fruit, hints of coffee, grape juice, broth, shale, new wedged grass, smoked wood and saline mushrooms. Acidity impresses with its very balsamic and fresh quality. Structure is full-bodied, it is powerful and persistence is good. Texture is coarse sandy and tannins are thick and offers chewy, not yet polished tannins but of good quality.

This wine needs plenty of airing, about 3-4 hours and until then it is peevish, quite flat and harsh. Then in a decanter, suddenly and surprisingly, everything changes and the wine emerges as complex and offers deep fruit and flavours from the terroir of Graves, it is rich and has some elegance. Open 2015-2030.

94p/100

A simple brunello from the master of elegance

I don’t think that Gaja really needs an introduction. The 5th generation Gaja; Angelo Gaja bought his first parcels in Montalcino in 1994. This wine is a blend of brunello grapes from the vineyards Sugarille, Santo Pietro, Castagno, and Pian dei Cerri. 2008 is an approachable, easy going good, but uneven vintage in Montalcino, Tuscany.

2008 Brunello di Montalcino, Pieve Santa Restituta

Colour: Dark garnet red, transparent, young edges.
Nose: Eucalyptus, white pepper, lavender, violets, rosemary, new leather, distinct dark cherries, medicinal cabin, fresh breeze, distinct balsamic fur-needles, black tea, intense lightly burned “Montalcino” minerals. An elegant, vibrant nose driven by terroir indeed.
Taste: Cool, sourish fruit, tobacco, bitter chocolate, leather, distinct grape-peel, smoke, black tea, notes of peppery oak and menthol. Balsamic acidity that needs plenty of airing, but full of energy so this can probably be stored for a long time. Texture is silky and tannins are firm, but a little rough now. Structure is medium-bodied.

A nice wine with potential, once the somewhat over-energetic and fuzzy acidity has calmed down and integrated further in a few years. The nose now is more impressive than the taste really. The taste may lack some depth and complexity, but it is elegant, dry and very balsamic.

91p/100

An old, still fresh 1961 Barolo..

At the very social restaurant Saracca in Monforte, we were offered an old barolo from 1961.

1961 Perin Maurizio, Barolo Riserva

Colour: Garnet red, orange edges.
Nose: Salami, medicin cabin, dried oil paint, dried herbs, notes of iron, delicate dried rose petals and earth.
Taste: Caribbean rum, cherry, clove, apricot, dried grape-peel, worn leather, balsamic fur-needle, caramelized rest sugars and herbs. A totally silky texture and tannins are chewy, but a little dry. Acidity is still quite fresh and it is alive considering its age. It is long, structured wine with earthy minerals and rustic aromas in the finish.

91p/100

A 2001 Barbaresco from 60 year old vines

This wine is from selected grapes from about 60 years old vines in the very steep, south-west facing parts of the Bricco di Neive vineyard in the Barbaresco area. Secondo Pasquero Elia and his sons Silvano and Giovanni with the help of Beppe Caviola uses rotor fermentors and french casks, but has lately started to move away somewhat from the distinct modern style. However, this wine is modern and underwent maceration for 8 days in rotor fermentors and 30 months in Slavonian oak of which 30% was new.

DSC03443

2001 Barbaresco Sorì Paitin, Paitin

Colour is dense garnet red with light-light orange edges.

The nose emerges with some immediate medicinal cabin and earth cellar that disappears after an hour. Then a complex wide-spanning nose takes the stage with lavender, dark cherries, delicate red flowers, stylish perfumes, clove, salami, herbs, white pepper, coriander, mint, saline mushrooms, incredibly fresh balsamic notes, super-fresh breezy notes. Incredibly fresh and interestingly complex nose indeed.

On the palate we are offered sourish blackberry, raspberry jam, tiny forgiving oaky notes, menthol, pastry, oranges, grape-peel, some smoke, tar, sweet exotic spices and delicate minerals. It is a building powerful, structured and ample wine. Texture is fine sandy, soft and tannins are ripe, but the balsamic acidity is still very gnarly and a little edgy even after 12 years and there is a little unpleasant metallic-austere finish, residual sugars that disturbs everything great in here unfortunately.

After an impressively fresh, complex nose (actually it has a typical scent of a much older wine), the taste is unfortunately a little disappointment. In contrast to the nose, the taste lacks some freshness, suffers from an austere-metallic finish and a just little too sweet, somewhat overripe fruit. This is truly sad, since there is so much lush, pliant fruit and really complex aromas in here. However, the wine is best when combined with saline, heavy food and cheese/salami. Could the sweetness be that they harvested a little too late this year?

There are rumours telling us that the estate has consulted the skilled enologist Dante Scaglione, known from his outrageous achievements in collaborations with Bruno Giacosa, and that the vinification is changed step by step to improve quality by e.g. softer pressing, employing traditional maceration with submerged caps and bigger barrels starting from the 2010 vintage. This vintage of this wine is claimed to be very good from cask, but will probably not be released until 2016, so a long wait here. However, I will try to get hold of one of their later vintages soon, because I think that this producer has great potential and the 2007 gets good scores.

92+p/100.

A Rabaja from a traditionalist..

The Rabajà vinyard in Barbaresco is one of the true unofficial grand crus in this area has the potential like Asili to produce really silky, complex and really elegant wines.

Castello di Verduno is traditional and uses open vats for fermentation and only uses big, neutral casks for ageing. The young enologist Mario Andrion with guidance from Franco is the wine maker and they focus on intervening as little as possible in the wine making process and focus on high quality fruit in the vineyard.

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, with a lot of fruit and still with fresh acidity.


2007 Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva, Castello di Verduno


Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark garnet red with light-light orange edges.

Nose: A beautiful, seductive and intense scent of roses, lilies, feminine but stylish perfumes. Notes of wood glue, dry jammy raspberry and fine tuned chalky limestone.
Taste: Immediate very sweet layers of fruit, fennel, distinct anise, exotic spices, orange-peel, balsamic, shale and some tar. It offers a very energetic, fresh acidity that is great and very promising for a quite long life. Structure is as expected on the slim side and tannins are still just a little heavy, but of high quality and texture silky. On the sad and bad side, there is an austere, way too sweet cherry tone that takes over totally in this wine.

This is generous wine with a lot of pleasing broad palate, a very intense, beautiful nose and good concentration but suffers from too much candid residual sugars and some austere tone.

91+p/100

Showdown: 2007 Asili – Roagna V.V vs CA’ del Baio

The Asili vineyard is the most well-known and probably the best in Barbaresco. It was the legendary Bruno Giacosa that first proved its potential back in 1967. Unfortunately, we did not get hold of any of his bottles for this wine tasting. The contenders this time are CA’ del Baio and Roagna. This fight may not be truly fair, since the Asili from Roagna is from grapes selected from very old vines, but that is life..

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, aromatic, a little fleshy, opulent, intense, but not heavy and still with fresh acidity. Even though being an early vintage, it needs plenty of airing. Especially the Roagna.

2007 CA’ del Baio Asili

Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark ruby red and light-orange edges.
Nose: Leather, some rowan berries, medicinal cabin, distinct sweet licorice, some tar, delicate tiny fresh lilies, dry rose petals and fine tuned burned chalky minerals.
Taste: Sweet licorice, notes of coca cola, loads of very sweet but pure red fruit; sourish wild strawberries, red current. There is blood orange too and fine tuned but a little burned chalky minerals.

Incredibly full-bodied with loads of fruit. It lacks some concentration, structure and complexity, but it is very generous and texture is quite silky. It is long but the end suffers from some austere tone with some bleak metal that is unsatisfactory.

88-p/100

Andreas:

Nose: Lots of red fruit, tobacco, leather and some sweet tones. Quite fresh.
Taste: Again red fruit, raspberries and red current. Quite sharp but not unpleasant acidity.
Finish: The tannins are quite fine. Some slight bitterness appear at the end.
Summary: This wine is ok but not more. I did expect a lot more from an Asili.

88p/100

2007 Roagna Asili “vecchie viti”

Grapes were hand-picked quite late and de-stemmed. The grapes for this wine is from the oldest vines in this vineyard that are older than 50 years. As an ultra-traditional protector, Roagna is known for their extremely long maceration. In this case it is about 70-90 days. Fermentation takes place in wood. Ageing is done in 4-6 years in french- and Slovenian 20 hl barrels.

Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark ruby red and light-orange edges.
Nose: This took for ever to wake up in the decanter. The mid palate offers medicinal cabin, tar, dark subtle fruit, worn leather, savoury notes, under vegetation and burned earthy limestone minerals. Right now it really lacks the expected delicate seductive, elegant feminine traits like red flowers and inner perfume, but after seven hours of airing, suddenly at least there is some dry rose petals but absolutely no stylish perfume in this currently very closed and reduced wine, but there is complexity and detail.
Taste: Big spoons of anise, sourish wild strawberries, distinct orange-peel, some pastry, fir-needle and earthy minerals. It is not really fresh now, but there is a balsamic acidity in there and it clearly offers depth and complexity. Concentration is great and impressive building structure. The end is a little short and is directed by an already quite silky texture. Tannins are hard now but chewy and of high quality so this just needs some more time.

It is hard to set a score for this wine and make a guess when this will be ready, but it feels very closed, introvert now and my guess is that we have to wait a few years more here for it to integrate, open up and be ready. I guess opening it in 2016-2030.

93-95p/100

Andreas:

Nose: Dense and deep dark berries, black current, strawberries, leather, solvent, a hint of oranges, earthy and some hints of stable and iron. 8 hours after opening the bottle some floral tones appear 🙂
Taste: Dark berries, mainly blueberries. Very good structure and the acidity is pleasant. The tannins are of course there but they are softer than expected.
Finish: Surprisingly pleasant tannins already. Medium length.
Summary: I really appreciate the density of this wine but I was hoping for more elegance from an Asili wine.

94-95p/100

2007 Albino Rocca, Vingeto Brich Ronchi

This wine is from Albino Rocca. The estate is one of the most praised by critics world-wide from barbaresco and is run by Angelo Rocca and his daughters. This wine is made from grapes from the vineyard Ronchi, which is located in between the famous Montestefano in the north and the great Rabaja in the south. All just east of Barbaresco. This wine is made in a very modern international style with ageing in 70% barriques of which 80% are new. 30% is aged in 20hl Austrian and German neutral casks. Recently, they apparently been using much less barriques since the 2008 vintage and on the web page states that they use only 20%.

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 very good one and it is approachable now and will not be long lived.

2007 Albino Rocca, Barbaresco Vigneto Brich Ronchi

Sir Galahad:

Colour: Very dark ruby red with white edges.
Nose: A distinct scent of austere oak in the beginning that made me really worried due to my obvious preference for transparent wines, but very fortunately it changes a lot after an hour and then showing some gravel, solvent, tiny notes of worn leather, rosemary herbs, distinct and unexpected fresh scent of hand soap, lavender, blue-red flowers and fine tuned, quiet metallic minerals.
Taste: A mid palate of oak, anise, licorice, balsam, fir-needle, actually tiny soap, sourish ripe red fruits, cola, mint, orange peel, a little saline and fine tuned minerals. Texture is sandy, but tannins are still a little heavy and structure is quite slim medium-bodied. Sadly, all is covered in too much new oak. A very promising energetic acidity. Texture is sandy with very dense, fat tannins that build quite a powerful structure, completely weightless though. Alcohol is a little high but doesn’t disturb anything.

The clear impression is flowery bath soap nose, the unusual lavender twist, flower fragrances and new oak. Acidity really needs to calm down further, but unfortunately, they have covered everything in way too much new oak.

90-91p/100

2007 Mario Marengo Barolo Brunate

This wine is from the unofficial grand cru Brunate in the commune of La Morra in Barolo and Marengo owns two parcels with perfect exposition in the top parts of this fantastic vineyard. Producion is extremely small and there is a version of this wine from 70-80 old vines too, but this is the regular brunate. The 3rd generation Marco Marengo is running the estate today with help of the skillful enologist Beppe Carviola. This wine undergoes ten days maceration and then after malo it is aged in barriques for about 24 months of which 30% are new. Costs about €45, so very price worthy indeed.


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. It is not a great vintage, but still a very good one and it is approachable now and will not be long lived.


2007 Marengo Barolo “Brunate”

Sir Galahad:

Colour: dark ruby-red colour, transparent white edges.
Nose: Some distinct dry licorice root, tiny notes of dog rose, wonderful roses, toffee, lavender, dry boysenberry jam, balsamic notes, some saline mushrooms, wet autumn breeze, typically burned, delicate notes of limestone and truffle. Some peppery oak notes are here too but not disturbing in any way at all. Incredibly fresh and terroir-honest bouquet. It is so extremely fragile and delicate, but I love the nose!
Taste: Very fresh, very balsamic and with energetic acidity. Very carefully, delicate low tuned red fruit, fennel, promising acidity here. Super-slim body and this vintage is just a little volatile in Concentration. Texture is fine sandy and tannins are very soft.

It is not as deep on fruit as expected from this vineyard, but it is extremely elegant, fresh and even though it may lack some complexity too, this is a wine is an honest ambition and focus on conveying the special terroir of Brunate. We definitely need to find the “vecchie vigne” version soon..

93+p/100.