Monthly Archives: October 2015

A fantastic Pommard from Nicolas Rossignol

Nicolas Rossignol is one of the most interesting producers when it comes to Volnay and Pommard. You can read more about our visit with him here.

During the years we have had our ups and downs with Nicolas but we love his energy and excitement and when at his best he produces fantastic wines, sometimes from vineyards traditionally overlooked or with less reputation.

Nicolas Rossignol Chaponnières
2010 Nicolas Rossignol, Pommard 1er cru “Chaponnières”

Generous, deep and quite creamy nose with succulent purple fruit, cherries, plums, ripe strawberries, stable, hints of oak and some ethereal aromas.

The taste is dominated by red fruit, but we also find black pepper, herbs and some raisin sweetness. There are clear “Pommard muscles” with its prominent tannic structure, but texture is pleasantly soft and fine grained. The acidity is a bit sharp, but it also adds some attitude to the wine.
This is not the most elegant wine, but it is has a fantastic generosity, a mouthwatering fruitiness and good complexity.

The second day the wine shows more personality and is even more approachable, generous, but still quite powerful and round.

94p/100

Clos du Tue-Boeuf – A natural wine legend from Loire

Thierry Puzelat and his brother Jean-Marie have for a long time been leading figures in the natural wine making scene in Loire. They have also received great acknowledgements for their wines that have been served in some of the top restaurants in the world, including Noma.

A discussion with Thierry is both entertaining and educational, since he is a very open and direct person with a fantastic knowledge and experience of wine making. He also has a great drive for trying new things and experimenting. A visit to the Domaine is also an excellent opportunity to try a huge variety of different grapes.

One of the wines we tried came from a quite recent experiment with Amfora vats where Thierry vinified Pinot Noir grapes. Just like wooden vats, the Amfora vats breathes and lets through some air which affects the maturation process. For the first batch vinified with this method he used extremely long maceration times, approximately 5 months, which has resulted in a quite harsh and very tannic wine. In the next vintage the maceration times will be reduced to find more balance and elegance.

Thierry Puzelat

Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat today control 16 hectars of which they own 10 hectars in Cheverny and rent another 6 hectars in Touraine. In these vineyards they grow a wide variety of grapes, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gamay, Côt (Malbec), Pinot Noir, but also more local and less famous grapes like Menu Pineau.

The vineyards are organically grown and they have tried biodynamic methods, but because of limited effects in the output, today the only use biodynamic methods selectively. Thierry also told us about an experiment where they harvested grapes at different days, following recommendations from the Lunar calendar, to see if there was a difference in the end results. When trying the wines they could not notice a clear difference, but Thierry also points out that this was a quite small experiment.

The wines we tasted

CLOS DU TUE-BOEUF

Le P’tit Blanc du Tue-Boeuf 2013

This is a Sauvignon blanc where they have added 25 mg of sulfur and filtered the wine.

A very flourish nose with some apple and other fruit in the background. Very fresh and pure expression. The taste follows a similar style and is complemented by a clear and precise acidity.

Not the most complex wine but it has precision and energy.

89p/100

Le Brin de Chevre 2013

Menu Pineau from 85 year old vines. The wine has aged one year in cask, on the lees, and no sulfur has been used.

Very generous nose with quite ripe fruit, mainly pears and some citric notes but also clear notes of flint and minerals. The same notes are also carried over into the taste where some hints of wood also can be found. The acidity is quite high.

This is a quite fleshy wine with a strong personality and lots of grip.

86p/100

Le Buisson Pouilleux 2013

Same process as the Le P’tit Blanc du Tue-Boeuf but using older vines.

Starts off with quite classical Sauvignon blanc notes but not overpowered with nettles. Nice juicy fruit, mainly apples but also quite a lot of lime and other citric fruit. The taste is very similar and is backed up with a precise acidity and some mineral notes. This is a rather fleshy wine for a Sauvignon blanc.

A fantastic Sauvignon blanc that feels typical for the region where we have tried several other Sauvignon blanc that are rather fleshy and citric.

91p/100

Rouillon 2013

Named after the vineyard Rouillon and contains a mix of grapes, which changes depending on vintage. This vintage is Pinot Noir and Gamay, approximately 50% each. The vineyard has chalky soil, which gives high acidity.

We find lots of raspberries and young red fruit and perfume in this beautiful and quite expressive nose. The same fruit is found on the palate but it gets a bit darker and there is also an earthiness to it. The acidity is quite powerful, and there are good tannins that provide backbone and structure.

The wine is not perfectly balanced at the moment since the acidity dominates to a great extent. Still it is a generous wine with good personality.

88p/100

La Gravotte 2013

Pinot noir from soils of clay and flint.

Quite fruity nose with lots of raspberries, strawberries and some hints of wood glue.
The wine is surprisingly tannic but otherwise has some burgundic notes with both elegance and complexity.

We find some sweetness in the relatively short finish.

91p/100

La Caillère 2013

Pinot noir from soil of clay, sand and gravel, three weeks of maceration and on lees until bottling.

Quite dark colour for a Pinot noir. The wine has a nose with earthy notes but also some red fruit. We find raspberries (almost a bit sour, but not unpleasant), game and iron. On the palate the fruit takes a step forward, and is complemented with some herbs and mint. Again rather earthy.

The finish is surprisingly short considering the quite expressive nose and palate. This is a generous Pinot noir with lots of character.

92p/100

Le Guerrerie 2013

2/3 Côt and 1/3 Gamay, all from the same vineyard.

This wine has a great nose with dense notes of dark and red fruit. On the palate blueberries and cherries dominate this very fruity palate, which also has a good and slightly sandy tannic structure.

This wine is more about generosity and is very easy to enjoy.

89p/100

Summary

The wines from Clos du Tue-Boeuf are in general rather expressive, fleshy and with strong personality. They contain quite a lot of fruit, which is complemented by both a good acidity and some earthy notes for the red. These are wines that pair well with food.

For someone who likes Burgundy wines it is also interesting to follow their development with the Pinot noir wines.

Piedmont-Trip 2015: A great visit to the legendary estate Bartolo Mascarello

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Maria-Teresa with her father Bartolo

On a Saturday morning in May this year we had the pleasure of meeting up with Alan Emil Manley and the charming  and somewhat ingenious Maria-Teresa Mascarello, who is the daughter of Bartolo Mascarello. Alan is an American Barolo lover from Colorado, who has been working at Bartolo Mascarello for quite some time now. At our last visit we met with enologist Alessandro Bovio, but due to our limitations in Italian, we had difficulties in learning more about the estate. Therefore we were certainly more lucky this time, when Alan was around. It is no secret that we are true fans of Bartolo Mascarello and their wines are always a safe and great buy due to their consistency and quality.

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Hand-painted barolo of Bartolo

The cantina Bartolo Mascarello was founded by Bartolo’s grand father, Guilio, when he returned from WWI. Bartolo Mascarello, who left us in 2005, was the tenacious guerrilla warfare rebel or as he used to call himself and his gang, “the last of the mohicans” (including his fellows Beppe Rinaldi and Teobaldo Cappellano), when it came to protect tradition and important principles to render honest  and artisan wines without making any compromises to any international markets. An iconic and stubborn man of old school barolos that opposed any unnatural addition to wine making or adaptations in tough vintages, but relying on traditional best-practice. Among these principles was Bartolo’s strong belief that the best expression for a Barolo was to always blend different vineyards, since in his opinion no vineyard was equally good in each vintage. The cuvée in his case is a blend of four vineyards; Rué, San Lorenzo, Cannubi and Rocche dell’Annunziata, and it is still the only barolo they do here. A truly honest estate that with pride celebrates the unique and great expression of Barolo.

Bartolo is most famous for having made the special designed label “No barrique, no Berlusconi” on his bottles making it absolutely clear that he hated french barriques and was not the least in favour of Berlusconi. Two great evils in his world. Actually, Bartolo used to hand-paint the wine labels that today are heavily sought-after bottles at auctions around the world.

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The inner glass-lined concrete vats

After knocking on the easy to mis front door at Via Roma, 15, in heart of Barolo, we are welcomed by Alan and suddenly, Maria-Teresa arrives as well and she summarises their philosophy by saying, as Alan swiftly translates into English, that “they do not strive to create the perfect wine, instead their goal is to produce honest wines that reflect the expression of each specific vintage”. Therefore they make very few adaptations for any vintage. E.g. they use the same mix of grapes from the different vineyards for their Barolo. Actually, they don’t vinify them separately either like most vintners do and they always use all the press wine. No secondary pressing is conducted here. No fining or filtering either. They always age their wine for 32-34 months in old and neutral Slavonian oak barrels and they always bottle in August. They always use glass-lined concrete vats with a tiny top opening and Alan emphasises the importance of gentle fermentation that they achieve with concrete. They always use 5 ml of sulphur to protect the grapes, but no pesticides or chemicals is ever used in the vineyards except for copper sulphate to protect the leaves from attacks. In the vineyard, 11-12 shoot-outs are winter-pruned on each 110 cm cain from each root. They wave the tops during growing season to avoid cutting, since they believe it stresses the plants. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit any vineyards.

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Alan shows some of the collection in the cellar

Still they do make a few adaptions and one example of these is the extraction (maceration) period that varies depending mostly on tannin quality to extract more colour and terroir-specific characteristics from the grapes. However, Alan says that in general it is between 30-35 days. While the warm, approachable and short-cycled vintage of 2011 vintage only endured for 32 days. the alike 2009 got 35, but the cold, classic and very long-cycled 2010 vintage went on for 56 days which is the longest in their history. Pump over is done twice a day, but after fermentation is final, they continue extraction on the skins using the traditional method with submerged caps. At this stage, they fill up the tank and leave half of the top opening space to let carbon dioxide go out, but avoid oxygen to get in. Alan points out that he can judge how much air is needed by inspecting the colour. As he puts it, if it is beaujolais, then I add more air, but I need to be careful since it is by then in a very reactive state. Malo is carried out in wood and they rack just a few times.

As we leave the concrete tanks and head for the ageing part of the cellar, Alan show us some really old bottles. Some from the 30’s, 40’s as well as obvious great vintages like 1947, 1955, 1958, etc. With a grin, he says that unfortunately they are not for sale. He says that he has put some work into organising the cellar a lot some years back.

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The cellar with traditional and neutral Slavonian oak barrels

The 2015 vintage is the first vintage when Alan has been granted the opportunity to lead the work in the cellar. Even though he is very excited about this, he admits that it is a little stressful too. He wants to make them proud and not do any mistakes.

During the visit we also learned that their Langhe Nebbiolo, which is made from their younger vines, from the 2013 vintage in addition, includes grapes bought from a grower in Treiso, Barbaresco. It is a vineyard called San Roccá Suo d’Elvia. This should increase the volumes of today’s about 30,000 bottles a year some more. This incredibly low production is the reason why bottles have been so hard to find in the market.

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Frederik, Maria-Teresa and Andreas

The wines we tasted

2013 Bartolo Mascarello Dolcetto d’Alba

Their Dolcetto is mainly on the northern parts of the vineyards Rue and Monrobiolo della Bussia since it will ripen almost anywhere, but here it gets right amount of sun. Alan comments that while it, in contrast to nebbiolo, grows easy, it is hard to vinify.

This is a Dolcetto that is not only about cherries and sharp red fruit. The wine also combines some earthy notes and a slightly tannic structure.

On the palate, the fruit is rather juicy and almost has a chewiness to it. A little classic bitterness, but fresh. The fruit is also well complemented by a fresh acidity.

This is a high quality Dolcetto with a great personality and balance.

88-89p/100

2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo

Alan explains that 2011 had a burst of heat in April through easter and a very quick bud break. Then it got cooler until August, but from there much like the very hot 2003. However, in total it was not extreme, but certainly not classic.

The nose is mainly fruit-driven where red fruit dominates more than usual for a Mascarello where I usually find large amounts of dark fruit. There are fresh wild strawberries, raspberries, Asian spices and balsamic notes in this very seductive wine.

On the palate, the wine has juicy and mouthwatering fruit combined with a energetic and rather precise acidity. The tannins are present but not dominant and has a sweetness to them.

A very approachable Mascarello which is very generous and fresh but still with elegance.

93+p/100

Summary

The tasting this time was a little limited, but still a great visit and we learned several about their principles and vinification by the very engaged Alan. We will certainly be back again to check how they are doing in the very near future.

Earlier tastings of Barolos of Bartolo Mascarello can be found here.