Monthly Archives: August 2015

An interesting Brunate from Francesco Rinaldi

DSC045512010 Barolo Brunate, Francesco Rinaldi

Totally transparent, glowingly blood orange with red purple nuances.

Very fine tuned, reticent nose that really take its time to show its overly complex perfume of dog rose, Asian spices and beautiful perfume, classic roses as well as some anise.

On the palate, the texture and softness of tannins impress and confirm this vintage. The acidity is very balsamically fresh and approachable wrapping green pears. Fruit is clean and we are offered balsamic herbs and some typical site-specific anise seeds. Good length and purity.

This is a good represent of the vintage and it is very balanced with fantastic acidity. As many 2010’s it is preparing for a sleep period and needs a lot of time to be woken up now. However, it is not really up to the same level as their Cannubi in this vintage we think. Wait until 2022 to open this.

93p/100

Vajra’s base-barolo excels in the 2010 vintage

Vajra keeps getting better and better and this barolo is a traditional blend of three vineyards; Fossati, Coste di Vergne and La Volta. Grapes are hand picked from very high altitude, above 400 m. A 40 days of maceration was conducted here and the grape juice was raised in neutral big barrels of both Slavonian and French origin.

DSC04553Vajra Albe, Barolo 2010

Totally transparent, glowingly blood orange colour  with red purple nuances.

The nose emerges immediately with animal notes, raw meat and distinct cherry stone. After just two more hours in the decanter, surprisingly, the dominating animal notes fade totally and give way for a much more balanced, refined and classic nose of anise seed, beeswax, some green curry, sage, leather, subtle raw rubber, distinct dried Mediterranean herbs, spices and notes of tobacco. Actually, the first might have been a unique bottle, because a second one was great directly. Some quite seductive violets, rose hip and cinnamon cookies arrive as part of a quite complex, dense and aristocratic perfume some hours later that usually is enjoyed in more expensive wines. An amazing change on the nose in just a few hours really, so follow this wine.

On the palate it is amazingly pliant, impressively balanced and tannins are still young, but soft, velvety; all in accordance with this fantastic vintage, but obviously not perfect yet though. Acidity is impressively clean and super-balsamically crisp wrapping deep minerals, beeswax, notes of dry liquorice and some menthol. Pure, chewy and very racy black cherries, sloe berries and cherry stone as well as notes of chewing tobacco. It is focused, persistent and offers some elegance that is impressive at this price-level.

A very complex, delightfully fresh, quite elegant and so far the most price-worthy Barolo in this great vintage. Open in 2019 to let the tannins polymerise to perfection, even though it is approachable now. Cost about €24.

94p/100

Domaine Michel Lafarge – Domaine profile and tasting of Clos des Chenes and Clos du Chateau des Ducs 2006

Back in 2013 we started what was supposed to be a short theme about Volnay. Unfortunately we have been very slow in our delivery of the posts but now we have done the third tasting. Our introduction to Volnay can be found here.

Domaine Michel Lafarge is another Volnay Domaine with a long history spanning several generations and today the Domaine is headed by Michel and his son Frédéric Lafarge. Michel has also been the mayor of Volnay and as such he has had a great influence on the development of the village. Domaine Michel Lafarge has approximately 12 ha of which more than half is based in Volnay.

Just like Domaine d’Angerville, Domaine Michel Lafarge were very early with Domaine bottling back in 1934, and since 1960 the whole production is sold under the Domaines name.

Domaine Michel Lafarge is often described as a producer who combines tradition with an openness to new methods. They avoid making too many fixed statements about their process for producing  wine. Instead they adapt themselves to each vintage’s specific condition. This is both applicable to the decisions in the vineyard and in the vinification process. When they adapt the process and try new ways of working they follow the results closely to learn from the results.

Still there are several areas in the process where Michel and Frédéric have very clear opinions and principles. They have a very high focus on control and quality along the whole process, starting from the selection of wine clones. This is one of the reasons they try to avoid too much automation since this can reduce the control of the process. One example is their usage of manual presses.

Since 2000 the vineyards are managed biodynamically, which is an example of the Domaine’s openness for new ways of working.

The wines we tasted

 

2006 Domaine Michel Lafarge Clos des Chenes

Unfortunately this bottle does not seem ok. On the nose we find some hints of sherry and the wine feels a bit oxidized. The dominating notes are from dark minerals, a bit burned chalk, roses, iron, under vegetation and some medicine cabinet. This is not a classical Pinot Noir nose and it would be extremely hard to guess in a blind tasting.

The palate is a bit more “friendly” with ripe red fruit, cherries, and some freshness comes forward in the acidity when the wine is quite cold. In the finish it gets a bit harsh on the acidity and there is also a saltiness. Tannins are quite sandy and a bit dry.

Not possible to score since the wine might have been a bit oxidised.

2006 Domaine Michel Lafarge Clos du Chateau des Ducs

The nose is a bit slimmer and more fruit driven compared with the Chene. We find red fruit, cherries, wet grass, herbs, floral notes and a hint of rubber.

Fresh red fruit dominates the palate but also a quite strong acidity which is a bit harsh. There is also some chalky tones, violet and eucalyptus. The wine has a clear tannic structure which is softer than in the Chene.

I would wait before drinking more of this wine. The acidity needs to calm down and then it can develop into a very interesting wine.

92p/100

Summary

The tasting was a bit of a disappointment. With a producer like Lafarge we expected some harshness on acidity and strong tannins, but we were also expecting more complexity and energy. The Clos du Chateau des Ducs was the clear winner of the evening. As mentioned earlier we do have some doubts about the quality of the bottle of Chene since it felt a bit oxidized.

Meeting with the energetic Nicolas Rossignol

It is hard not to like Nicolas Rossignol with his energetic personality and constant curiosity. We are sure he will leave a lasting mark on the wine business and he will produce fantastic wines for us all. Our visit to the estate offered some interesting discussions about the Volnay and Pommard respective areas and and about his thoughts about wine making.

Nicolas Rossignol

The domaine is quite young, founded in 1997, but Nicolas comes from a long line of winemakers and he has previously worked for his father on the Domaine Rossignol-Jeanniard and before that on a couple of other top Domaines in France. In 1995 he also went to South Africa and worked at domaine Boschendal where he learned a lot about vinification before starting up his own business.

Our visit to the estate was back in 2012 so we are late publishing this post. We talked about a few of the more recent vintages and Nicolas told us that two of his favourite vintages from his own production where 2008 and 2010. We also talked about Nicolas opinions about the usage of stems in the wine making process, something he uses quite actively as a way of adding structure and grip for vintages lacking just that. Actually, he uses a varying portion of whole bunches depending on vineyard and vintage, but, as he points out, they really need to be ripe, since he hates the greenness and bitterness they may cause otherwise.

He uses different wood and level of new oak (max about 50%) to each vineyard bottling and his focus is on conveying terroir. He is not fond of noticing oak in his wines. In the vineyard cultivation is very much ecologic and he follows the Lunar calendar, so obviously he employs some biodynamic techniques as well. He prunes short with high canopy training focusing on low yields.

Nicolas has an impressive collection of vineyards, mainly in Volnay and Pommard, in addition plenty of 1er crus, and he chooses to produce a large number of single vineyard wines, since as he says, this gives him a good opportunity to try new things and learn more about the differences in the area.

Volnay and Pommard are two areas are often described as very different in their expressions, with Volnay representing the feminine style while Pommard has a more powerful and mostly more masculine style. Nicolas argues that this is a too generalised assumption and his wines also show that there are more nuances to the difference. We have previously made an overview of the Volnay vineyards which can be read here.

Rossignol

Frederik, Nicolas and Andreas at his new cellar

The wines we tasted

2011 Nicolas Rossignol Volnay

We are met with cherry, forest floor and herbal notes on this rather generous and direct nose where fruit still the dominant role.

On the palate we find more red fruit, blood orange and again some herbs. The acidity is rather energetic and gives some direction to the winen. There is also a tannic structure which provides a backbone but it is quite soft.

This is a rather generous and voluptuous wine for a village Volnay but there is also some complexity and character.

90p/100

2011 Nicolas Rossignol Pommard

The Village Pommard shows many similarities with the Volnay wine in the expression. The main differences are that the Pommard has more earthiness on both nose and taste and the acidity and tannins are a bit harsher, but still of good quality.

This wine has a lot of personality and challenges the consumer.

90p/100

Both of the Village wines start at a very good level and provides both good quality and personality. We where surprised by the similarities between the wines.

2011 Nicolas Rossignol Beaune 1er Cru Clos du Roy

The Clos du Roy wine is definitely a clear step up and it offers more depth and complexity.

On both the palate and on the nose we find a dense fruit of both red and dark berries where some ripe cherries dominate the impression. The palate is also complemented with a good tannic structure and a rather broad acidity.

In the rather long finish the dark berries dominate together with the tannins.

92p/100

2011 Nicolas Rossignol Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches

The wine offers a fragrant nose with lots of deep dark fruit, but also some raspberries, earth notes and a hint of iron.

In the mouth it is medium bodied, again with an abundance of cherries but also some menthol and spices.

This is not the most elegant wine but it has nice complexity, structure and personality and the finish is long and fruit driven.

92p/100

The “grape-by-grape” Arborina from Altare in an approchable vintage

The very experimentally minded and Burgundy-inspired father of Silvia Altare, Elio Altare, initiated the project of doing a true 100% de-stemming of grapes from the 2011 vintage. In Burgundy, originally this was one of the legendary Henry Jayer‘s principles for pureness of wine making back in the 70-80’s in Burgundy that was a very important aspect of quality improvement in those days when numerous vintners in Burgundy were using pesticides and the area was on a declining path.

While the noble grape in Burgundy for reds; pinot noir, naturally consists of comparably little natural tannins, nebbiolo has plenty. Hence, in Burgundy it is brave to rely only on tannins in the grape skin, so many vintners in Burgundy adds stems to their wines, especially in years low on tannins or to vineyards normally rendering less structure and grip. Accordingly, they then render more backbone and persistence, but they run a risk of rendering more bitterness from the stems as well. So if you aim for purity, as Silvia and her father do here, this undertake has great potential.  This is all good and very interesting indeed. However, there is a backside to this and that is that with nebbiolo the chalks holding the grapes are really close to the small berries and they are fragile, so this is a very tedious and absurdly time-consuming work really. According to Silvia, it took 11 days for 10 people for the total production of five barriques from the oldest part of the Arborina vineyard planted mostly in 1948, so clearly a very expensive project that needs to fullfil its expectations in order to be worthwhile. This is about 1,500 bottles only. The name for this bottling has been changed a few times along the way, but they have now settled on “unoperuno” which translates into one-by-one and quantity is insanely low too. However, you must admire the effort.

Interestingly, Silvia has decided to use another label for this bottling comared to the normal Arborina.

This tasting was done at the estate when visiting Silvia and we had the opportunity to taste the normal Arborina side-by-side to the special Arborina version “uno-per-uno”.

2011 Altare Barolo “unoperuno” Arborina

The nose emerges with a light and quit reticent carefulness. However, I notice Bee wax, wallpaper adhesive, lilies and fresh rose petals.

On the palate, the fruit is more clean and supple compared to the normal Arborina, even though more sweet in this vintage. Primarily very clean, pure, blue fruit, dark cherries and notes of Asian spices. A quite aromatic wine in this approachable vintage with generous body but still a light-weighter. However, texture is soft, velvety and tannins are ripe, but not really approachable yet. So it needs more time to settle and integrate. Its persistent and offers an elegantly tip-toeing envelope with delicate and crystalline minerals.

There is a lot of finesse in this warm barolo, but it is the purity and precision that really stand out in this special Arborina. Open in 2017 to let the tannins settle even more.

94-95p/100