Monthly Archives: May 2016

An Albino Rocca from Ronchi in 2012

The vineyard Ronchi is situated north of Montestefano and below Rabajà, but it shares its power and darker characteristics from the former. The warm vintage 2012 is much better in Barbaresco compared to Barolo regarding nebbiolo with generally well structured wines with good balance and fine tannins. The reason being a much the colder spring than usual and late warmth compared to Barolo.

DSC046732012 Barbaresco “Ronchi”, Albino Rocca

It emerges with dried rose petals, new cut ginger, crushed stone, dried herbs, dark cherries. A complex, but a little modern and pretty nose, but reticent.

On the palate, it is very dense, powerful and fleshy. At the same time it is pliant, but now texture is too fleshy and clumsy. The new oak addition is currently not doing it any favours (is it ever?), especially not in the quite persistent finish that now is a little bitter, too dry and packed with artificial powder. Flavours are typical dark cherries, black berry jam with stones. It is saved from being too one dimensional and awkward by a very fresh and vivid acidity. Balance is ok.

This wine certainly needs a lot of time to come around and is obviously saved by its approachable acidity, but still it is currently hard to see it turning into a wine with finesse. No, even though nose is pretty and its acidity is great, Albino Rocca is not tuning down its level of new oak so we cannot recommended it. Open in 2020 is our guess, but don’t buy.

86p/100

A wide-ranging blind tasting back in november 2015

We had a blind taste of a wide range of wines an evening in back in November and here is the result. Great tenderloin, chanterelles, risotto and pecorino accompanied these wines then. Two bottles form us each and a half bottle.

1993 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano riserva, Carpineto

The first wine is brought to the table by Frederik and it obviously has some age. Andreas has a hard time locating its origins and this is hard since the wine is from a region we haven’t payed any attention to and it contains 10% merlot, 20% canaiolo and the rest sangiovese grosso. It is a good wine that we hadn’t tested before with obvious age.

Sir Galahad:

Very fine matured nose of butter-fried chanterelles, some vanilla cain, some pencil led, vinaigrette, madeira, eucalyptus and a stylish, quite complex and fresh saline perfume. A complex and stylish nose.

Saline coated darker fruit; plums and black cherries, mush rooms, cedar oak, pepper and mush rooms are obvious on the palate. It is generous, rich and voluptuous. Very good, crisp and balsamic acidity. The texture is coarse and tannins are unfortunately harsh and edgy which is a true disappointment in an otherwise good vino nobile from Montepulciano with some age, the neighbour wine region to Montalcino in Tuscany.

87p/100

Andreas:

Some dense ripe fruit, hints of oak and saltiness opens the nose but there is also a pleasant creaminess.

Dark ripe fruit with blueberries and boysenberries but also under vegetation and mushrooms enter the scene on the palate where we also find a rather laid back but present acidity.

The finish is surprisingly short but has some nice dried fruit.

91p/100

2008 Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes”, Bertheau

The second wine is very fragrant and Andreas is the one bringing it to the table. Frederik is quickly and only based on the nose  in chambolle-musigny, but not sure what producer and is not nailing the vintage. After leaving the area for a few seconds after sipping a few more times, Andreas helps out just a little by saying that the first guess was not bad. It proves to be a 1er cru from our hero, Francois Bertheau in chambolle.

Sir Galahad:

Distinct ginger in here as well as fresh orange-peel, some curry and a lovely, seductive perfume of flowers with feminine characteristics that is enchanting and elegant. On the palate it is very generous, rich in ripe, red fruit; dominated by wild strawberries, ginger, blood orange and some anise. Very crisp and fresh acidity. Texture is velvety but with ripe and precise, but quite dense tannins. Its i very elegant, persistently generous and all about finess.

92+p/100

Andreas:

Mineral infused fresh nose with lots of red fruit and hints of floral notes. There are also orange peel, ginger, roses and hints of citric notes.

Fantastic acidity with razor sharp precision and some citric notes that are otherwise mainly found in white wine like Chenin Blanc. The red fruit is both fresh and slightly sweet.

The wine has an amazing precision and elegance but lacks some complexity and length.

93p/100

 

2014 Cheverny rouge “La Gravotte”, Clos du Tue-Boeuff

The 3rd wine is prepared by Andreas. Frederik can only pinpoint it to be from a natural wine producer and guesses on Loire and is sure it is very young, but has no clue of the producer. It turns out to be a producer that Andreas has visited and well known to the best restaurants in Copenhagen.

Sir Galahad:

The nose offers some crushed stone, but dominated by yeast boosting the aromas which is typical in trendy natural wines that is on the list at famous restaurant Noma. Fruit is a little sweet, but good balance, full-bodied and fresh with cool, fresh acidity. A little too much yiest for my taste, somewhat harsh tannins and it lacks complexity for a top wine.

88p/100

Andreas:

An abundance of rather sweet berries jump out of the glass together with notes of menthol. The palate is also dominated by fresh juicy red berries with a slightly sourish tone on the acidity. This is a very fruit driven, forward and generous wine but unfortunately it is too simplistic and lacks elegance for at top score.

88p/100

 

2012 Cornas “Renaissance”, Auguste Clape

Frederik brings this great wine of the best producer in Cornas to the tasting and Andreas is not familiar with Cornas before, but he is quite quickly in the Rhône dale ruling out Cote Rotie and the northern part based on the terroir.

Sir Galahad:

Distinct crushed, very forward and vibrating, typical granite stone followed by dried herbs, eucalyptus, earthy minerals, mush rooms, synthetic glue, and black tea. It appears to be holding back its authentic and mysterious traits at this point, but it is obvious that the complexity is lurking within if you spend some time with it like we did. On the palate, it is obviously too young yet, but very deep dark fruit, undervegetation, black tea and typical granite stone. Plenty of fresh, bitter and energetic acidity. Texture is a little fleshy, very thick and solid, but while tannins are not harsh at all, they are currently a little dry and grainy.

Obviously, this warm vintage rendered a very forward, dense and solid wine. It is very deep and quite powerful, but not heavy. It is a promising little brother wine in Auguste Clape’s cornas range. It obviously needs much more time, but a very forward and classic wine from Cornas of the defining master.

92-93p/100

Andreas:

Dense dark fruit with ripe boysenberries, blueberries and some fresh violet. There are also some wood glue, oil paint and some earthy notes.

The taste is also dense and deep but also has an amazingly energetic acidity which ensures that the wine never get heavy. There are crushed stone and dark minerals but also some slight pepper notes on the taste. Sometimes there is a slight bitterness that is pushed down by some slight sweetness.

A wine that combines dense and generous fruit with minerals and energy. Impressive effort.

93p/100

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Campogiovanni

Frederik adds this to the bunch and Andreas guesses correctly that it is a brunello and correct vintage but not the producer.

Andreas:

An abundance of rather sweet berries jump out of the glass together with notes of menthol.

The palate is also dominated by fresh juicy red berries with a slightly sourish tone on the acidity.

This is a very fruit driven, forward and generous wine but unfortunately it is too simplistic and lacks elegance for at top score.

88p/100

Sir Galahad:

Distinct notes of asphalt, rubber boots and balsamic herbs on the nose.

Quite fullbodied wine with very dark fruit, dry herbs, gravel. Fine acidity and persistent but a little dry finish, sandy texture and without finesse.

87p/100

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The certainly wide tasting line-up

A 2009 Aux Malconsorts from the expert

The 2009 vintage is not classic, it is sexy if you ask the french. The wines are usually forward, big and with baby fat.

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2009 Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Aux Malconsorts”, Sylwain Cathiard

Colour is translucent, dark red purple with light orange-pink edges.

As expected. A quite forward nose that initially emerges with a striking, stylish flirty perfume, loads of Vosne xmas-style spices, fresh cut ginger, some typical clove, cardamon.

Acidity is energetic and it is fresh, but where is the fruit? In a warmer than usual vintage there should be plenty of sweet fruit. Strange. However, the wine is full bodied and totally feather light-weighted as expected which is the hallmark of this skilled producer and texture may not be perfect in here, but fine grained and steers the wine gracefully to a slightly bitter end. It is super fresh, bolder than usual and pliant, but will the fruit get to the surface? Maybe it just needs much more time. (tasted 16/5-2016)

92-p/100

 

Tasting the wines of Benanti at Munskänkarna in Lund, Sweden

On the 11th of February this year I attended an interesting tasting of the wines of Cantina Benanti held by “Munskänkarna i Lund”, at the Grand Hotel in Lund, Sweden. It was a producer that I new about, but not in person and I had never visited them either.  However, back in 2011, I stayed two weeks on the east coast of Sicily up on the cliff in the town of Taormina with its fantastic view. After a day up at the Etna mountain just after an eruption, we found a very good restaurant, Le Naumachie, a little hidden from the tourist main street in Taormina. They served fantastic seafood and probably the best grilled fresh tuna I have ever had. Anyway, the owner insisted we try an etna bianco from Benanti, the Pietra Marina. It was perfect with that dish and I remember buying two bottles with me home thinking it was truly special.

And here we are in 2016 listening to one of the twins of the Benanti family; Salvino Benanti. Salvino explains that his father conducted several studies of the soil around the volcano back in 1988 and they were part of the renaissance of Etna that really made a showcase of the potential of the area. Their first vintage was 1990. They own 24 ha and production is about 145,000 bottles a year. Enzo Cali is the enologist since 2004. In 2013, the business was passed on to the next generation as the twins, Salvino and his brother Antonio, took over the business from their father.

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Salvino Benanti

Even though they use barriques, they consider themselves traditionalists focusing on the specific terroir of Etna. However, they are not as extreme as those terroir-fanatics who use terracotta vats or plastic containers to affect the wine’s origins to an absolute minimum like e.g. Frank Cornelissen. Anyway, four things are important in their wine making according to Salvino; they want to reflect authenticity, minimal intervention in the wine making, cautious use of wood and use their own selection of patented yeast.

Salvino continues with explaining the typicality of Etna’s terroir and its micro climates. Back in the late 80’s, they were a hand full producers, but today there are around 80 on Etna and growing. It is a very hot climate being so close to Africa, but the high altitude offers cold winds that renders fresh acidity during nights when temperatures decrease a lot compared to in the days. 300 days of sun a year is impressive and must be vintners wet dream. Silvano emphasises three things that makes Etna very special. Firstly, obviously the combination of many sun hours and cool nights. Salvino explains that the ventilation is good even though high levels of humidity exist due to the gradients and the proximity to the sea. Around the volcano, the gradients are steep, the sandy soil is very loose, there are no valleys, no irrigation and vineyards are situated in man-made terraces. Except for the somewhat difficult access of the terraces, it surely must be ideal conditions. Secondly, he says, is the volcanic soil that is very rich in deep minerals. Thirdly, the indigenous grape varieties that are only from Etna.

Three important grape varieties exist and all of them are grown as free standing bushes (alberello) that requires a lot of manual work in the vineyards, but in return limits mildew to a minimum and increases its exposure to cooling winds even further. The soil is loose and contains a high level of sand, so roots can easily dig deep down and find water and nutritions. The grape for the whites is Carricante (25% planted) is a green-yellow grape with low alcohol perception, thick skin and high acidity level that often needs to go through malo. It is very sensitive to heat and attacks, so it is planted at the very highest altitudes where it thrives. For the reds, there are two. Nerello cappuccio has soft tannins and is naturally approachable. Its related to sangiovese. The second red grape is nerello mascalese (3% but quickly increasing) is tannic, thick skinned and acidic. The latter is the interesting red one for sure and as is the case with nebbiolo, it is tannic and ripens late in mid October in classic years or later depending on altitude. It combines pinot noir and nebbiolo in a very good way. Now how interesting grape is that!

 

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All the wines; 3 whites and 7 reds

We are offered three whites and seven reds, so quite a lot of wines to taste really, but very interesting in deed.

2013 D.O.C. Bianco di Caselle, 100% carricante

This is a new d.o.c. wine since a year ago. This is a blend of grapes from the eastern side (Caselle) and southern (Cavaliere) of the volcano at 900-1000 meter altitude. Vines are normal age; 35-50 years. Harveted mid-late October. Handpressed.

Some beeswax, tiny notes of diesel and green apple on the nose. Very pleasant and tasty with an oily texture. Dry apricots. Generous medium bodied.

88p/100

2010 D.O.C. Etna Bianco, Pietra Marina superiore

It was a very difficult vintage, but balance is obvious. Grapes in this wine are 100% carricante from 80 year-old vines in Caselle, a single area on the eastern side of the volcano. Training is alberello at 850 meters above sea-level. It goes through malo because of the very high level of acidity. 21 days of maceration is really an eyebrow raising thing to do with whites.

Very subtle with a very deep nose of primarily white flowers. Dense, thick and pliant. Very elegant and with impressive balance. Very high quality acidity that stays in the background wrapping sea salt and balsamic oils. Aromatic with aromas of apricot, dried honey, sea grass and complex flavours. Persistent with a slender body.

94-95p/100

2008 D.O.C. Etna Bianco, Pietra Marina superiore

This is a perfect vintage vintage without issues on Etna.

Yellowish pale core colour with tiny green tints.

A little more mature than 2010 now, but the same notes of dried honey and green apple, but also a subtle inner perfume. More generous and even denser and more concentrated than the 2010 vintage, but less balanced. Dominated by apricot, but also some gooseberries, notes of dried honey, salt, green apple and maybe sea grass.

93+p/100

2012 I.G.T. Nerello Cappuccio

A hot vintage even on Etna that stressed the plants.

This is from a northern part of the volcano with only 10 to 30-year-old vines at 900 m altitude. Extraction is 21 days in steel.

Nice nose, but lacks complexity. Notes of barn, earth cellar. Very berry taste; red currant, sourish wild strawberries coated in earthy minerals. Soft and without edges. Yes, simple, but generous and with some finesse.

88-89p/100

2012 Nerello Mascalese

This is from the vineyard Guardiola on the northern-east side at 450-900 m altitude from 60 year-old vines. A difficult warm year with intense heat.

Ruby, opaque red core with pink tints. Incredibly subtle sensual perfume and complexity that captivate my attention.

Well balanced with marking and juvenile tannins at this point. Thin with a clear direction. Racy with tiny and dry red berries. Asian spices. Some anise. Persistent, young, slender and pretty. Pliant and without edges.

92p/100

2009 Nerello Mascalese

This is a blend with 10-20% nerello cappuccio from 15-60 years old vines raised with 30% of the grapes in new wood.

Ruby red half opaque colour.

A little bit more modern nose here with dried raisins, chess nut and flowers.

Textur is still a little lightly sandy and overall thicker compared to its younger counterpart. Clear red fruit fruit but also notes of black berry. Nice and generous.

90-91p/100

2013 D.O.C. Rosso di Verzella

Younger vines of max 40 years from the northern side of the volcano raised in barriques for about 8 months. A good vintage with low yields. Late ripening in mid October.

Colour is blood orange with orange edge and a ruby red core.

Scent starts off with white lilies, diesel and maybe chess nut.  Not the obvious red wine nose.

Medium-bodied and with good concentration as well as spine. Racy with red small berries coated by freshly cut ginger and aromatics. Generous but with the acidity in the very background, but still pleasant and dominated by fresh, ripe red fruit.

91p/100

2011 D.O.C. Rovitello Etna rosso

From the northern side at 750 m altitude and I think he said there was more sand and from what I’ve learned, that would give way for it to be affected with stress by hot temperatures. Vines are about 80 years old. This is a blend of 90% nerello mascalese and the rest nerello capuccio. 12-15 months in barrique. 13.5% in alcohol. A top vintage with very ripe fruit and balance. Late ripening in late October.

Somewhat darker ruby colour than previous wines.

Fine, subtle nose with stylish perfume. Chestnut and notes of wood.

On the palate it has an impressively clean, balsamic and fresh acidity. Fresh, pure and ripe red berries coated in orange-peel. Generous, rounder and fuller body. Super fresh, pretty and silky.

92-93p/100

2011 D.O.C. Serra della Contessa Etna rosso

Lower altitude about 500 m and from the eastern side and from 100-year-old vines. This is a blend of 80% nerello mascalese and the rest nerello capuccio. Long extraction on the skins. A top vintage with very ripe fruit and balance.

Dark ruby red colour.

Very fresh, slow and subtle perfume with peach.

Packed with fresh, pure and cool red fruit dominated by wild strawberries but notes of dark plum and red currant. All coated in fine minerals. Notes of newly cut ginger, Asian spices and anise seeds. Impressive balance and fine depth. It is persistent and elegant too.

93-94p/100

2004 D.O.C. Serra della Contessa Etna rosso

Dark ruby red colour with very dark core and brown-orange edges.

A more aristocratic, deeper but less seductive than its much younger counterpart. Pretty and mature Burgundian-like nose.

Cool, pure and impressively balanced wine. No edges and pliant. Super-silky texture and well integrated with high precision. Full of overripe and earthy strawberries coated in orange-peel.

94p/100

 

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Salvino Benanti and Frederik

Domaine François Chidaine 2014 – Mastering both Vouvray and Montlouis

François Chidaine has built an impressive estate from his modest start in 1989 when he bought his first vineyards and took over 3 hectares from his father. Today he controls approximately 37 hectares in the Loire region, where Montlouis is dominant with 20 hectares but they also have 10 hectares in Vouvray and 7 in Touraine. His position is quite unique since few winemakers are well established in both Montlouis and Vouvray. The expansion into Vouvray came when François got the chance to take over responsibility for Philippe Poniatowskis vineyards in Vouvray and later he took over ownership. This transition was not completely smooth, but have resulted in an impressive collection of vineyards in both villages. More recently they have also bought some vineyards in southern Spain.

Quite early in his career François has been moving over to organic winemaking and eventually biodynamic, and since 2003 the Domaine is certified biodynamic. The wine is aging in 600 liters barrels of which approximately 10 percent are replaced each year. They seek to avoid getting wood notes in their wines.

In general the wins from Vouvray have a bit higher levels of acidity than the wines from Montlouis.

2013 Sauvignon Touraine

Classical Sauvignon blanc but not over the top with nettles. Fresh and pure wine with a very precise acidity. Simple but very likable and easy drinking Sauvignon blanc.

84p

2013 Touraine Rosé

Another easy drinking wine which shows quality and freshness but not complexity. An abundance of red, almost sweet, berries. Some tannic structure to give backbone to the wine.

85p

2010 Vouvray Petillant

Quite closed on the nose but still some very fresh citric notes and some exotic fruit in the background.

The wine opens up a bit more on the palate where we find grape fruit, lime, some anise and mineral notes. The bubbles are fantastic, small and soft.

This wine is quite careful in the beginning but then shows more and more personality. A quality Petillant.

91p

2012 Montlouis Methode Traditionnelle Brut

The nose is quite expressive and fruity, showing several exotic fruits.

The taste is also quite fleshy with similar fruit and some notes of bread. This is a generous sparkling wine.

90p

2013 Montlouis Clos du Breuil Sec

From vines are 50-90 years old. Residual sugar less than 1 g/l.

Fantastic freshness on the nose with light citric notes, exotic fruit and some hints of ginger.

The wine is very acidic and there is less fruit on the pallet where we also find some hints of Chenin blanc wool and fresh minerals. In the finish the acidity takes over, and in general the acidity needs to calm down a bit before the wine gets balanced.

This is a precise and fresh wine that should be stored for a while before opening.

91-92p

2012 Vouvray Les Argiles Sec

This wine is a blend from different vineyards and the terroir has clay and sand.

In this wine the fruit takes a quite dominant position on the nose, showing pineapple and other exotic fruits, but also notes of flint.

The pallet contains the same fruit but also has ha high level of acidity, especially in the finish.

A wine, which is quite fleshy and generous.

91p

2012 Vouvray Clos Baudoin

Soil of clay and limestone with vines which are approximately 70 years old.

Fresh and cool nose with lime and pineapples in a nice balance but also some flint and minerals.

The exotic fruit takes a further step forward on the palate and we also find some surprising hints of oak.

This wine shows a good balance between fresh coolness and fruit.

92p

2011 Montlouis Les Choisilles

Flint in the soil. Gives minerals and acidity.

The nose is quite dense, both from fruit but also from honey in the background. Lots of pineapple and peach but also some hints of smokiness.

Generous wine where the acidity takes a back seat to the fruit. The character is probably mainly an effect of the vintage, which produces fruity wines.

88p

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2011 Montlouis Les Bournais

Quite young vines planted around 1995, in a very attractive terroir of limestone.

The nose is fruity and expressive with lots of tropical fruit and some minerals in the backgrounds.

Very pleasant and precise acidity that combines well with the pineapple and other tropical fruits we find together with lime. The crisp acidity stays in rather long finish.

The Les Bournais is a vibrant wine where the fruit and acidity both competes and complements each other.

92p

2011 Franc de Pied Les BournaisFrançois Chidaine

Same vineyard as the last wine but from ungrafted vines, i.e. not grown on American root stocks. These vines have a very low yield. They still have phylloxera in the ground so this is quite risky.

The wine is very concentrated, not only with fruit. We find yellow apples, tropical fruit and minerals on this complex nose.

The palate is very much in sync with the nose, but has slightly less fruit. The alcohol feels rather present in the wine but with this level of density the wine does not get unbalanced. Very long long finish with fruit and minerals.

This is a fantastic wine with high level of complexity and it will be exiting to follow the future vintages.

93p

2011 Montlouis Clos Habert

Seductive nose with honey, lime, grape fruit, pineapple, and fresh minerals.

Even though the level of sugar is quite low for a Tendre, it comes trough clearly on the palate, together with the fantastic fruit and minerals. There is a slight grape bitterness in the finish.

This is a complex wine with lots of personality, especially on the nose.

91p

2010 Montlouis Les Tuffeaux (Demi-Sec)

This wine is a blend of different vineyards.

Rather careful in the beginning and the nose almost has a wateriness to it. After a while some flint, minerals and exotic fruit appear.

Fresh young pineapple, an abundance of lime and minerals and a fantastic citric acidity to back up the sweetness in the wine

This is a slim and very precise wine that need some time before it opens up completely.

91p

2007 Vouvray Le Bouchet

A quite heavy nose with honey, flint and some exotic fruit in the background.

The acidity is a bit harsh and not as precise as we would hope for. We also find honey and some citric notes.

The Les Bouchet has a strong and generous personality, but lacks some precision and elegance.

89p

François Chidaine

2010 Montlouis-sur-Loire Moelleux

Residual sugar at 40 g/l.

Very aromatic nose with an abundance of honey that transfer over to the palate where we also find high levels of acidity. These are the dominant expressions of the wine and they compete for dominance but fortunately it ends in a tie and the wine is rather well balanced.

This is a generous wine with great personality. It would work well together with food.

92p

2010 Vouvray Moelleux

Residual sugar at 70 g/l.

Dense nose with lots of honey and some ripe exotic fruit.

The acidity is amazingly precise and saves the wine from being too heavy which could have been a problem considering the density. There is much of everything in this wine.

92p

François Chidaine

2009 Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Lys

This wine is only produced when they have botrytis.

Here we find lots of apricot and some quite fresh honey on both the nose and later on the palate. There is a tingling acidity which complements the quite dense taste of honey. A complex and generous wine.

94p

Summary

François Chidaine has an amazing range of vineyards with great terroir making a tasting of their range good introduction to the region. His wines show great precision and often with strong personality. This is definitely a producer worth following closely.