Monthly Archives: March 2016

A deep etna rosso from high altitude with a lot of terroir

The wines of Etna keep being a little of a mystery to us and when really good, they, in our opinion, combine the traits, pliancy and finess of the Burgundy’s pinots with some of the structure, backbone and aromas of an Piedmont’s barolo as well as in itself adding very much freshness in a very interesting way.

Especially, as is the case with the producer Passopisciaro, when they use 100% of the tannic and complex grape nerello mascalese from five different crus or contrados as they call them these are 70-100 years old. And this at a very low price from a very good, cold and long-cycled vintage where they started harvesting at 500 m altitude during the last week of October and finishing at 1,000 m the first week of November. 15 days of extraction is normal and the juice goes through malo in large, neutral barrels.

DSC046812013 “Passorosso” Etna rosso Terre Siciliane (IGT), Passopisciaro

Colour is, like a barolo, very transparent and opaque blood orange but with scarlet red tints.

Currently, the nose emerges as a dense combo of oil paint, subtle Asian spices, nutmeg and raw meat. Thankfully, the raw meat totally disappears after another hour in the decanter and then suddenly a perfume of grace slowly takes its place with some lovely, cut rose petals and small red berries; prominently rowan berries and red currant.

On the palate, this truly shows even more why some compare Etna’s reds with those of Burgundy. Yes, maybe a tiny resemblance to Aux Malconsorts is justified. Its texture is very much so; definitely soft, almost velvety, with some masculine Burgundian structure and some slender precision. A racy, dense and generous wine of pleasantly ripe red currant, red cherries and cranberries, all coated in newly cut ginger, nutmeg and fresh, volcanic minerals. Acidity is vivid and clean wrapping orange-peel and is impressively fresh. It is quite persistent, but more focused on the delightful details with impressive depth. Good balanced too. It is even better the 2nd and 3rd day in the decanter.

We really like the development of this wine, its elegance, depth and details, while sitting with it and sipping. It is a really interesting etna rosso and we will certainly try more wines from this producer. We guess you should open it in 2019 to just let it come together even more, especially the tannins. It is frankly, so priceworthy that we recommend to Just buy before they are sold out.

93p/100

Andreas

Expressive nose with slightly sweet strawberries, red current, blueberries and boysenberries, combined with herbal notes, perfume and some oil paint. Dense and generous but still with elegance.

Truly amazing acidity that manages to stay in the background but still do all the important work and adds a mouthwatering freshness to the wine. Slight chalk notes appear on the palate, but in the finish the berries dominated again. There is a slight sweetness in the wine but it never gets dominant.

It is hard not to like this elegant wine and the only thing lacking for a higher score is more complexity and layers.

92-93p/100

Lamarche, a rising star in the holy grail with a woman’s touch

In late January 2015 we visited the domaine Francois Lamarche. The estate dates back to the 1740’s. To most people, the estate is known for its monopoly vineyard La Grand Rue and it is situated right in the holy grail of Burgundy and just next to the famous La Tâche in Vosne-Romanée. Actually, it was in possession of the Liger-Belair family that went bankrupt in 1933. Then it was purchased by Edouard Lamarche and given as a wedding present to his nephew Henri. We did some research prior to this visit and according to official publications, up until 1959, small parts of the former boundaries of Gaudichots were exchanged with DRC and La grand rue was adopted grand cru status in 1992. Oldest parts apparently predate 1970, but a lot was replanted in the 80’s, so roots are yet not really old. Except for La grand rue, they own several other premier- and grand crus, of which Clos Vougeot, Aux Malconsorts, Les Suchots, Grands Echezeaux can be mentioned and in addition the interesting La Croix Rameau, in the north-east corner of Romanée-Saint-Vivant.

After knocking on the door to Lamarche in a cold but sunny January for a few minutes, finally Nicole opens. She explains that she had to pick up the children somewhere and she says that she is sorry that she’s late, but we are just happy that they are here. After all, this is a family business. We are just very exited to visit this domaine,.. finally.

Nicole, the daughter of Francois Lamarche, who took charge in 2007 with her first vintage being the glorious 2010, is obviously a very energetic, determined and confident woman with a clear focus of what she wants to do with their wines and she explains that she told her father over and over again to move away for her. Lamarche’s reputation at the time when she took over was not the best to say the least. Publicly, it was perceived as overly austere and lacking freshness from several wine critics, but luckily we absolutely feel that Nicole is really improving the estate’s wine quickly year-by-year. The potential in this part of Vosne-Romanée appears unlimited. Nicole tells us that she enforced thorough cleaning of the cellars and a whole lot of improvements in the wine making after her trial-period was over and her father stepped down, finally, as she puts it.

They harvest by hand using a secondary selection table. A few days and customary cold-soak is conducted to enhance perfume and colour. 80-100% of only ripe stems goes into fermentation depending on vintage to enhance structure and add tannins. When I mention that DRC is doing biodynamics and ask her about her principles, she swiftly answers that she hates extremism, so they employ things that they see fit and really work. She is very focused on the vineyards and thinks that organic principles are really important to them. She says, she intercepts ideas from the biodynamic movement, but for her, ecological farming is most important and they employ hard pruning which she thinks is most important to her as well as constant attention to the vineyards. They also work with sexual confusion techniques to keep insects off the leaves. Grass is extremely shortly pruned within vineyard rows to provoke the roots to dig deeper and avoid dilution.

I ask her about what she strives for in her wines and she immediately answers that she aims for silkiness, aromatics and elegance. She explains that she thinks that she, through her wine making adds a woman touch to their wines compared to her father. The level of new oak, from very much adapted barriques to the vineyards, are about a third now and very lightly toasted. Extraction (maceration) is carried out for about 15-18 days and like many others, no filtration or fining is done.

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Andreas, Nicole and Frederik

2013 Bourgogne “Hautes côtes de Nuits”

Vosne spices. Very fine, young and crisp acidity. Fruits in the back ground now, but there is balance.

85p/100

2013 Bourgogne

Some finesse in this fresh nose of herbs.

Delightful and sourish, small red berries, blood orange, ginger, and some complex minerals. Medium bodied. Very crisp and fresh acidity.

87p/100

2013 Vosne-Romanée

Distinct Vosne spices here and fresh herbs dominates. Very small, sourish red berries and blood orange. Here is some finesse and pleasant pliancy.

90p/100

2013 V-R 1er cru “Les Chaumes”

They own two small sections this vineyard.

Some seductive perfume from this very clean and fresh nose. There is a vertical quality here with the perfume as top note and the Vosne spices in the base.

Very silky and soft texture in this pliant wine with fine tannin cut. Small, ripe and fresh red berries, blood orange, ginger, clove and herbs. The acidity is just a little sharp now, but this will be very fine. It is quite persistent too.

90-91p/100

2013 V-R 1er cru “Les Suchots”

Finally, the rose chips arrives in this super-fresh and seductive perfume with nice depth.

Almost perfect tannins in here. Very good concentration and less acidic bitterness compared to the Les Chaumes. Blood orange dominates with a trail of pure, red small berries in the persistent finish. In addition, notes of passion fruit, fennel wrapped in the very balsamic, crisp and mineral-driven acidity.

92-93p/100

2013 V-R 1er cru “La Croix Rameau”

A very interesting vineyard in the north-east corner of Romanée-Saint-Vivant of which they only made two barriques. 45 year-old vines.

Very different nose compared to Les Chaumes and Les Suchots. More intense and less fragrant with more herbs and pastry. It is a complex and intriguing nose.

Small, sourish red berries, a lot of herbs and pastry on the palate too. The very clean, energetic and crisp acidity wraps passion fruit and orange peel. Thicker tannins but still soft, but not as silky as the other two.

92-94p/100

2013 V-R 1er cru “Les Malconsorts”

Very complex nose with high precision and details, but reduced now so very analytic at this stage. Extremely slowly, the fragrant rose petals arrive and the Vosne spices that appears to hover on the surface only. It truly contains something special.

Sourish, super-small red layers of, ripe and pure red berries, anise, fresh herbs and spices. Acidity is a little overly energetic now, but very promising. Impressive balance without any edges or bitterness in the very persistent finish. Very smooth and silky texture with very ripe tannins. A very classic and elegant, but too young V-R wine with great potential.

93-94p/100

2013 grand cru “Echezeaux”

A very direct nose of darker minerals and pastry. Dried flowers in its persistent, but subtle inner perfume.

Very good concentration and very clean fruit and acidity. Good grip in the tannins.

91p/100

2013 grand cru “Grands-Echezeaux”

A very broad brush stroke of scents in this nose. Some earthy tones, crushed stone in the base and balsamic, dried herbs and deep perfumes at the top.

On the palate, the acidity is dominating now and it is currently a little edgy and whiny, but vivid which is promising. However, there seem to be red fruit in there, anise and some leather notes lurking. All this framed in thicker and firmer tannins.

92p/100

2013 grand cru “Clos de Vougeot”

Here they have three parcels in the south-east part, i.e. the lower parts.

The nose emerges as very deep with very much finesse. An incredibly seductive and feminine perfume as top note here with some crushed stone and dried herbs in the base.

On the palate, what struck us most is its impressive high quality acidity that is fantastically fresh. Moreover, the texture is super silky and totally seamless. A very fresh wine with almost perfect texture.

93-95p/100

2013 grand cru “Les Grand Rue” (monopoly)

A very light and transparent pink and raspberry red colour.

The nose is reduced now and emerges very slowly, but after a while there is a really elegant and aristocratic, but subtle, perfume that slips through. A deep and complex nose indeed.

On the palate, it offers cherries with layers of deep and very pure, red fruit. Totally seamless, incredibly pliant and super-silky texture. Acidity is crisp and fresh coating the fruit with deep, fresh minerals. It is persistent too. Yes, this has come very far in this vintage.

94-96p/100

Summary

It is obvious that the previously uneven impression of this estate some years back now is history and they are absolutely taking a distinct step in the direction of a much higher level of quality with Nicole in charge. Especially the pliancy, slenderness and elegancy impresses us a lot, but it is not all. In addition, the finesse and purity is impressive and the potential comes through in the Clos Vougeot, Les Malconsorts, La Croix Rameau and the stunning La Grand Rue. It will be very interesting to follow the development here and we will certainly be back soon.

Another approachable barolo from Verduno

Usually, the blend from Verduno and more precisely from the well-known producer here, Burlotto, is best in warm vintages. We really liked the 2009 version so since 2011 is in general a more even one and less sweet than 2007, this is interesting.

DSC046852011 Barolo “Aclivi”, Burlotto

The nose starts out with the recognisable natural rubber, saline cherry stone, and dry licorice-root. Then turns ethereal with deep, complex inner perfume with a delightful twist of green curry and cumin. A very complex nose to be explored with plenty of pedigree from Verduno.

On the palate, the balsamic, cool and crisp acidity dominates and impresses with its freshness and approachability. Fruit is in the background now and a little smudgy, but it is from ripe, sweet, concentrated and earthy wild strawberries and cherries. Aromas of mainly dark, saline cherries, nutmeg, cinnamon and dry licorice-root. Texture is grainy and fine sandy now, but even though biting your cheeks, there are absolutely no edges and most importantly it is soft. However, it could be more generous and persistent.

A complex, soft and dense wine that is foremost crisp and soft. Obviously, best in a few years more. Ensure it is served at 18 °C (64°F).

92-93p/100

Another interesting Serralunga d’Alba barolo producer

We know several Conternos’ in Barolo, but we had never heard of Diego Conterno before, but their 2011 barolo is actually very good and simply adds to the quite long line that stands out in the 2011 vintage of traditional baroli from Monforte d’Alba in this case and its neighbouring area, Serralunga d’Alba. After a quick search on the net, it turns out that this is one of the cousins that started up the estate Conterno Fantino, who still makes overly modern and pointlessly, market-pleasing and insanely, oaky baroli had us worried at first, but fortunately this wine was no such wine. Diego and his son Stefano appear to be worshipping their lands and work traditionally including long extraction and neutral barrels; which is fine music to our ears as long as you do everything right in the vineyard and conduct meticulous selection of grapes. We just had to compare it to the fabulous vintage 2010 that is still around.

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2011 Barolo, DIego Conterno

Typical rubber rain coat on the nose, obvious glycerine, beeswax, Asian spices, nutmeg and subtle tar hits the nose directly after opening the bottle, but much later, after several hours of decanting, a complex, compelling and fragrant nose of rose petals, white lilies, cardamon and green curry arrives to the scene.

A fresh, balsamic acidity wrapping dried honey and minerals is very good in here and lifts it all. Sweet, racy and ripe blue- and red fruit, notes of newly cut ginger, anise seeds, fennel, cinnamon, and chalky, dark minerals infused with delicate metals. In addition, some pleasant notes of chewing tobacco as well. Still this is slender bodied, but with high concentration, authority and some precision. However, its backsides are tannins, even though they are smooth and soft, that appear somewhat separated from and outside of the rest and the fruit is unfortunately a little cooked in the heat and smudgy.

The nose on this wine alone is great and considering its youth, It has an unexpected elegancy and focus, but fruit is a little cooked and tannins not integrated well. Open now or wait until 2018 to let the tannins polymerise even more, but please be very observant to temperature; like many other barolo 2011s’, it surely needs its 18 degrees to show off its freshness.

90p-/100

2010 Barolo, Diego Conterno

On the nose, again, as with the 2011, glycerine, beeswax as well as obvious details and precision from dominating wild strawberries in this one, but the palate here also contains plum, blueberries and notes of blackberries. Some deep fruit and chalky minerals too, but overall the nose is overly subtle, less enchanting and subdued.

Very unexpectadily, it is diluted and volatile in an easy and perfect vintage. It is ok and price-worthy though and persistent. As expected, texture is better here than in 2011.

89p/100