Category Archives: Regions or vineyards

Articles about wine regions or vineyards.

Visit to Mount Eden Vineyards – An important part of history in Santa Cruz Mountains

Introduction to Mount Eden Vineyards

During my visit I met with the well spoken and thoughtful Jeffrey Patterson in the beautifully situated estate with an amazing view. Jeffrey talks about the history of Mount Eden Vineyards and his own philosophies about winemaking.

We talk a lot about the replanting of vineyards since all of the vineyards have been replanted during Jeffrey’s time at the Domaine. Being from Europe where old vines are worshipped I cannot resist asking him if he ever wish he would have kept at least a few of the older vines. Jeffrey is very firm in his belief that the replanting was the absolute best decision and his argument is that the old vineyards were not well structured, did not produce well and were very tough to manage. I ask Jeffrey when he thinks the vineyards will be replanted the next time and he laughs and says it will not be within his lifetime. He also points out that he expect it to be replanting of individual vines rather then a complete replanting in the future. 

If you are looking for a more detailed description of the history of Mount Eden Vineyards I will recommend a good source. It is well documented and I will not make a better job than what they already have done:)

Link to Article: http://www.princeofpinot.com/winery/757/

I still think it is worth mentioning a few important things, like that fact that Jeffrey has been the manager (and later majority owner) of the Mount Eden Vineyards since 1981 and he took over after a period where there had been many changes in management. This makes him one of few persons among California winemakers to have such a long history in the same place. I personally consider this extremely valuable since winemaking at the absolute top level requires detailed knowledge about the vineyards and their personalities. The most amazing wines I have tasted have been a result of long periods of small optimizations from the same group of people or family. Perfection cannot be rushed.

A few short notes about how Mount Eden Vineyards produce their wines

  • Jeffrey strives to create wines with long age ability. He points out that this can make the wines less accessible in their youth.
  • They do dry farming
  • The chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation
  • Natural yeast is used
  • 75% new oak is used for aging of the Estate Pinot Noir
  • Some American oak is used for the Cabernet Sauvignon. To avoid vanilla notes they only use oak that has been dried for 3 years.

Tasting notes for the wines from Mount Eden Vineyards

2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains

This is a rather round and generous Chardonnay with an abundance of yellow pears and apples but also some Asian spices. Very smooth an slightly oily on the palate with a soft but tingling acidity and some ripe tropical fruit also appear on the palate together with some slight notes of oak.

2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir

Approximately 30 percent whole clusters.

Intense nose with dense fruit from mainly dark cherries and raspberries but also some earthy undervegetation.  The palate is smooth with a soft but fresh acidity and layered fruit notes. I also get some herbal notes in the finish. This is a well balanced Pinot Noir that I would like to have spent more time with.

2014 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir Domaine Eden

Approximately 15 percent whole clusters.

An abundance of fresh red fruit, mainly from raspberries and strawberries. Rather light on the palate and with a cool acidity and some young fruit that is slightly sweet. Very fresh and energetic Pinot Noir with a light body.

Summary of impressions from the visit to Mount Eden Vineyards

Jeffrey Patterson is a good representative of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with his long experience from working the same vineyards and his ability to communicate the history of the region. His wines are extremely well made and all have a great balance and depth. My favorites were the Pinot Noirs where the cool acidity adds energy to these rather complex wines. These are definitely wines that will have a long life ahead, but I already find them surprisingly approachable.

You can also follow me on Instagram: @ultimatewinekick and Twitter on @uwk_andreas

German Riesling 2015 Grosses Gewächs – Initial impressions and recommendations

During July we had the pleasure of visiting some of the top producers in Nahe, Rheinhessen and Mosel. We mainly focused on Riesling wines and we had the opportunity to taste a rather large selection of Grosses Gewächs wines from 2015.

Since many of the producers are releasing their 2015 Grosses Gewächs shortly we will in this post give you our impressions of the vintage and list our top pics from the Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted.

Later we will also publish separate posts per producer.

The producers we visited were:

  • Weingut Wittmann – Rheinhessen
  • Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff – Nahe
  • Weingut Emrich-Schönleber – Nahe
  • Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich – Nahe

We also met with Heymann-Löwenstein and Clemens Busch in the Mosel region but we did not taste their 2015 Grosses Gewächs wines since they where not ready.

About the 2015 vintage for German Riesling

After a few demanding vintages for the producers, 2015 has been a great vintage for the region. The producers we met with gave rather consistent descriptions of the vintage. Their collective view is that the grapes reached good ripeness rendering a dense and generous wine, but not fat or heavy, and still with a precise and pure acidity.

Our impressions are in line with the descriptions provided by the producers. It seems like the vintage produces fantastic wines balancing generosity and precision well. We did not experience much over ripe fruit and petroleum notes but still the wines had good generous fruit on the palate. For me the acidity is extremely important in Riesling wines and the 2015 vintage is not a disappointment, showing good precision and energy.

I will definitely stock up on German Riesling wines from 2015.

Top 3 Grosses Gewächs Rieslings of 2015

For me two producers stood out in the 2015 vintage, both for Grosses Gewächs and Ortswein, and these are Wittmann and Emrich-Schönleber. The wines from Wittmann have amazing peaks, great energy and good transparency, while Emrich-Schönleber produces perfect “by the book” Riesling wines with amazing precision and complexity.

My top three pics of the vintage are:

  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Still it must be said that the vintage produced a very high average level and we tasted amazing wines from all producers.

Tasting notes from the 2015 German Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Aulerde Riesling Großes Gewächs

The soil in Aulerde has less limestone than Kirchspiel and Morstein.
Rather broad and open nose showing tropical fruits like apricot and lychee. The acidity is juicy and stays for a long time in the finish.
This wine has a very generous expression but also a good structure.
91p/100

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs

Compared with Morstein the Kirchspiel wines are usually more open and ready to drink early and is often showing notes of grapefruit. The soil is similar to Morstein.

Very fresh nose with white stone fruit, lots of lychee and some young apricot and pears.
The acidity is amazing with a very energetic and firm expression and an abundance of minerals. Some fresh fruit notes balance the acidity well.
At the moment the wine is slightly dominated by the acidity but it should develop fantastically with time. A great wine with fantastic potential.
95p/100

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs

The wines from Morstein usually has a lot of citrus and acidity. The soil has clayish marl and limestone on the upper layer and more limestone in the subsoil.

There are multiple layers of fruit on this dense and concentrated nose, but it never gets overly dominant. We also find some very slight flint and yeast notes and white flowers.
Juicy and mouthwatering acidity with a grippy expression showing both lime fruit and lemon. Again the fruit is dense and complemented by some herbal notes.
The wine already has a good balance between the acidity and the fruit and it manages to combine generosity with elegance. A truly fantastic wine.
96p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

Red slate, gravel and red loam. Age of vines are between 15 and 60 years.

Beautiful nose with apricot and other stone fruits, some apples and a hint of herbs. A both elegant and complex nose with great freshness.
Same notes are found on the palate where we also have a pure and precise acidity with both lime fruit and lemon. The wine is energetic and mouthwatering and should age very well.
94-95p/100

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Stony blue slate and quartzite soil, producing small and concentrated grapes.

Dense and complex nose with layers of fruit where pineapple, apricot, lime fruit and lemon are most apparent.
The acidity is rather racy and has lots of lime and lemon notes. This will probably calm down with time.
The wine is already well balanced but has a slightly more austere impression than the Frühlingsplätzchen GG at this time.
There is an amazing potential in this very complex wine, but you will have to be patient.
95-96p/100

 

2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Rather open and generous nose with a ripe tone to the fruit, mainly tropical, but also with clear notes of yeast and flint, that hopefully will reduce with time.
On the palate the wine is very juicy with an abundance of stone fruit, pineapple and floral notes. The acidity is precise, grippy and well needed for such an opulent wine.
92p/100

2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Slim and precise nose with white stone fruit, green apples and wet stone.
Precise and almost electric acidity adding energy to the wine. Careful on the fruit, but still with fresh stone fruit and green apples on the nose, but here combined with some herbal notes.
This wine has great precision and energy and will have a long life ahead.
94p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Volcanic soil and vines older than 50 years.

Bright fresh stone fruit, soft tropical fruit and some mineralic elements. Beautiful and well balanced nose.
On the palate the wine gets a very fruity and juicy expression. The acidity is rather careful but manages to balance the juicy expression on the palate. In the finish we get more grape fruit in the acidity.
92p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

A vineyard that usually produces wines that are accessible early in their life and has a fruity and floral expression.

The nose is fresh and pure with both fruit, mainly tropical, and floral notes. Very generous and opulent.
The palate continues with the same style but the fruit is complemented by a lively acidity.
A forward and open wine.
91p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs

A nose that starts rather carefully but then develop an intensity with fresh tropical fruit, green apples, lime and some floral notes.
The palate has great balance with a fresh and grippy acidity combined with the intense fruit also found on the nose.
This is a wine that manages to combine a restrained expression with intensity. Should have a very long life.
94p/100

2015 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Grosses Gewächs Versteigerung

This is the first dry Grosses Gewächs wine produced in 30 years in Brücke.

The wine is very expressive with an abundance of dense and layered fruit notes. We mainly find apricot and apples.
Initially the palate is rather heavy but then an energetic acidity lifts the wine. Again there is an abundance of apricot but also some stone fruit and other tropical fruit.
This is a very generous wine with a strong personality.
92p/100

Burgundy tasting 2013 vintage part 2 – The reds

This is part two of our notes from the tasting of 2013 Burgundy at Otto Suenson. We now move over to the reds, which are split into two sections. To read our previous post where we also make a short comment about the 2013 vintage, click here.

2013 Benjamin Leroux Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons

Fresh and almost sourish red berries with lots is cherries but also hints of marzipan. Very attractive and vibrant nose. The acidity is not very precise but has good energy. Some young red fruit is well integrated with the acidity.

Not very complex but definitely a fresh and intense wine.

87p

2013 Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Boudriotte Rouge

A rather simple but elegant nose dominated by young cherries. Very precise acidity, minerals and mouthwatering but almost too young red fruit resulting in a slim body.

Fresh but rather simple wine that could develop with time.

88p

2013 Domaine Joblot Givry 1er Cru Clos de la Servoisine

Generous, intense and forward nose with both dark and red fruit. The wine has a clear acidic bite and a rather tannic structure for a Pinot. Blueberries, young cranberries and under vegetation.

Lacks some depth on the palate to balance the acidity and tannins.

88p

2013 Domaine Tollot-Beaut Corton-Bressandes

Very fragrant nose with perfume, fresh berries and some almond. There is a great balance between the vibrant acidity, the brimming red fruit and the velvety tannic structure. Some oak notes appear in the finish.

93p

2013 Domaine Ponsot Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes

Initially a rather careful nose but then some bright red fruit appear together with notes of grape fruit. Juicy young acidity with lemon notes. Cranberries and some other red fruit in this rather tight palate.

The wine has great precision but will need much more time to develop.

91p

2013 Hubert Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin

Generous nose with both red and dark fruit and some dark minerals. Acidity is energetic and precise and complemented with some fresh fruit notes also including darker fruit like black berries.

This is a precise but not very complex wine.

91p

Burgundy tasting 2013 vintage part 1 – The whites

In February we attended the yearly Burgundy wine tasting at the Danish importer, Otto Suenson, offering a great selection of Burgundy wines. The tasting was focused on the 2013 vintage.

2013 was the another tough year for the Burgundy estates requiring very active work in the vineyards and hard selection to render a successful result. Some areas, especially Savigny, Volnay and Pommard, was hit hard by hailstorms, resulting in very super-low yields and many vignerons were down on their knees with extremely low crop. In addition, the very important flowering was late too. In general the season was cold with august as the only exception, and as a result ripeness was an issue and several producers had to make the decision of harvesting slightly unripe berries or rot ones. As a consequence, most producers had to use chaptalisation. This has resulted in wines with a high level of acidity, a rather slim body and in some cases tougher and less ripened tannins. In one of the somewhat spared areas e.g. Chambolle, Francois Millet of domaine de Vogüé labled 2013 the ‘rebel’ vintage, but not the pretty one.

2013 Domaine Ramonet Bouzeron (Aligoté)

Slim nose with lemon, apples, tropical fruit, white flower and flint. Rather slim but with great acidity and minerals.
The wine lacks some depth but has great precision and elegance.

86p

2013 Olivier Merlin Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse Vieilles Vignes

Fruity nose with rather ripe apples, pears and plums. Rather soft palate with fruity flavors. The acidity stays in the background and is soft.

This is a gentle and fruit based wine that lacks some energy.

85p

2013 Benjamin Leroux Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Murgers des Dents de Chien

Initially we mainly get oak and smoke on the nose, but then some tropical fruit, lemon and minerals appear.Grippy and citric acidity that still remains rather careful. There are clear notes of oak that dominates over the fruit.

The wine lacks freshness and energy but has some depth and complexity.

88p

2013 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Caillerets

Fruit and minerals dominate this well balanced nose. There are apricot, oranges, plums, nuts and some toasted oak on both the nose and the palate. The acidity is juicy and rather soft.

I consider the nose better than the palate that lacks some elegance.

90p

2013 Domaine Jacques Prieur Meursault 1er Cru Santenots

An abundance of hazelnut, butter, apricot and plums on this round and generous nose. Dense palate with ripe fruit, plums and a juicy but too careful acidity.

Generous and likable wine that would work good with food.

90p

2013 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon

Amazingly elegant nose with lime, lychee, nectarines and white flower. The acidity is vibrant and precise. On the palate we get more exotic fruit with mainly pineapple and in the finish some careful oak notes appear.

Very pure and elegant wine with great balance and a rather long finish.

93p

A fresh, very deep and sturdy Nuits-St-George 1er cru from Arnoux-Lachaux

We made a very short stop at the estate Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy back in 2012 and met with Charles Lachaux in their cellar. The estate trails back to 1858 and was formerly known as Robert Arnoux, but in 2008 the estate´s name was changed into its current name by the married couple Pascal Lachaux and Florence (Arnoux). From the 2012 vintage, their oldest son Charles joined his father after finishing enology studies by taking over vinification and stopped de-stemmig and since then gently presses 30-100% ripe grape bunches depending on vintage and vineyard. Pascal has done a lot to increase the quality of the vineyard through the years by hard pruning, removing buds, thinning out and keeping about six bunches per vine. They are typically non-intervenists type of vintner that put all their efforts into the vineyard. The kind we really like.

This premier cru Clos des Corvées Pagets is located at Premeaux-Prissey in the southern part of Nuits-Saint-George. It is very rocky, with lots of sand and sand stone. It produces a wine with soft, but solid tannins and some structure. The yield is naturally low, but always very concentrated due to the 60 years old vines. However, the oldest vines here were planted in 1921.

The grapes for this wine was harvested on the 28th of September in this non-classic quite warm vintage that the french refers to as sexy since it in general is fleshy, packed with forward fruit and charm. Grape bunches were 100% de-stemmed for this wine and then went through cold soak for a few days and then after being very gently pressed, the grape juice went into fermentation with skins (cuvaison) for 14 days with punch-downs (pigeage) and pumping over. The juice was then raised in 30% new wood. 

2009 Nuits-St-George 1er cru “Clos des Corvées Pagets”, Arnoux-Lachaux

The colour is dark, translucent cerise-red middle with light-orange and pink edges.

After only two hours in the decanter, a quite deep and big nose with sturdy notes of saline mushroom, dry herbs, raspberry jam, candy, overly intense dried red flowers and prominent burnt, detailed lime stone.

This is a powerful wine, but weightless with deep layers of ripe, chalky fruit, but as can be the case with wines from Nuits-Saint-George, this is not rustic and flat. Palate offers dry distinct blood orange, very ripe strawberries, anise, clove, cinnamon, some savoury notes and chalky lime minerals. Texture is soft, velvety and tannins are ripe providing a very good backbone and grip in the just a little dry and austere, but persistent finish. Acidity is really great, fresh and filled with balsamic oils, deep minerals and distinct grape-peel.

A very rich, a little sturdy and full-bodied wine and for a Burgundy wine it is powerful. Except for the comparably less solid and not equally as chewy tannins, this resembles me of a really good, but much lighter version of a fresh Barolo from Serralunga d’Alba which is a great rating in my view. I am surprised by the building structure of the tannins here for being a pinot and from Burgundy.

92p/100

 

2006 Aux Malconsorts – The leader now has one competitor

Aux Malconsorts is the premier cru vineyard in one of the most holy of places in Burgundy for wine lovers; Vosne-Romanée. The vineyard borders La Tâche in the north and has seen a true rise in quality especially due to the exceptional handcraft by Sylvain Cathiard in more than a decade. However, since 2005 they are up for competition here as Domaine de Montille and Dujac bought and split the owning of Thomas-Molliard’s sellout. We have been very impressed with de Montille’s wines before, especially the Volnay Tallepieds.

This tasting may not be truly fair, since the Malconsorts from Domaine de Montille this time is their very special cuvée from a mystic part of this vineyard that appears to be cut straight out of La Tâche really. However, as Étienne de Montille clearly has stated, it has never been part of La Tâche, but he thinks it is special enough for making a special bottling named after his mother.

Cathiard is an obvious opponent or better put, our reference since up till this tasting, they have been our first choice in this vineyard period after tasting several of the other producers here. Sébastien Cathiard has taken over from the 2011 vintage after his father Sylvain and their section is more up hill in the middle. You can read more about the vineyard and inspect their different sections here in Steen Öhman’s article.

 
 

2006 1er cru Malconsorts, Sylvain Cathiard

This was reviewed about a year ago here, but primarily for providing a benchmark as well as supplying a fresh note now a second review is done here a year later.

Sir Galahad:

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

After more than three hours of decanting, the nose emerges with distinct wood glue, orange-peel, underbrush, some Asian spices and somewhat burnt herbs. And after hours of additional airing, finally the typical x-mas spices arrives to scene together with a very delicate and reticent, but fresh inner-perfume of fresh flowers.

The palate offers very small, pure and sweet mix of blue- and red berries, white pepper, clove, notes of dry fennel, pastry as well as distinct delicate and crystalline minerals. It has very silky texture from tannins that still spurs the tongue a little and its body is not as slim and light-weighted as the nose suggested as last time, rather somewhat meaty and generously mouth filling at least compared to its opponent this time.

Cathiard’s Malconsorts offers remarkably pure aromas and great balance and as a year ago, the only tiny remark is the somewhat lack of structure in this less favourable vintage for tannins, which is not improved by removing stems as they always do in accordance with the principles setup by Henri Jayer.

93+p/100

 

Andreas:

Initially the nose is quite soft, creamy and with concentrated red fruit. After some more time the nose shows herbal notes, wood glue, blueberries and other dark berries. The nose is quite deep and dense. After 2-3 hours the nose closed down and never returned to the initial levels.

On the palate the acidity takes initiative and is very present and direct, while the fruit is more careful but aligned with the nose. The wine is quite mineral and spicy in the taste. Tannins are soft but a bit sandy. The finish is long and has a slight hint of bitterness.

As expected with Cathiard this is a fantastic wine that is quite masculine and has a dense and complex nose.

93-94p/100

 

2006 1er cru Aux Malconsorts “Christiane”, Domaine de Montille

Sir Galahad:

Colour is translucent, almost transparently blood red but still red purple with light-orange edges. They add stems, so the colour is lighter than the Cathiard.

After some hours of decanting, the nose is still reticent and emerges with glue, exotic spices, new baked brioche, bright floral notes and then after a lot of swirling in the glass; a subtle very complex perfume as well as some deep, fresh minerals appears in all its fragrant grace.

On the palate there is orange-peel, delicate sea shell minerals, clove and deep fruit as well as hints of blood orange and cherries. Texture is silky and creamy with really good tannins. Acidity is crisp and vivid but pleasantly settled. Concentration is great and it has just enough structure to reach to a little bitter but persistent and pure finish.

Even though this wine is reticent and analytic, it is very deep and balanced with a remarkable precision but also generous, fresh and really elegant.

95p/100

Andreas:

The nose starts quite careful and with bright red fruit where raspberries dominate. There are also quite floral notes, soft and fresh spices and mineral tones. Very elegant and pleasant nose with layers of fruit. The nose evolved during the hours we had the wine in a decanter.

Mouthwatering fresh raspberries, clear notes of mineral and again some fresh spices. Very energetic palate. Tannins are extremely silky but definitely present.

This wine is well balanced with an energetic acidity, fresh fruit and nice tannins. Very elegant and with good potential.

95p/100

Summary

Clearly, in the 2006 vintage that lacks ripe and authoritative tannins for structure and grip, both wines are somewhat analytic still, but the Christiane wins today by offering just a little more depth and precision. You should most likely forget them both for another 15 years is my guess. It will be very interesting to follow these two champions from now on in the Malconsorts. As always, competition pushes quality further.

 

Contenders: 2009 Clos de Vougeot Grand cru

The grand cru Clos-de-Vougeot is an interesting vineyard for several reasons. It dates back to the 12th Century when Cistercian monks made wine here and borders the Grands Echezeaux in the west and the Petits-Musigny in the north-west. Already the monks knew that the great parts for making wine in this vineyard are in the upper part and down to the middle section where the slope flattens out. This better soil have a thin, poor top layer of calcareous clay and gravel on top of a bed of limestone that is very well-drained. The monks only used to do simple, house wines from the lower parts closer to the famous road RN74. However, a few producers e.g. Leroy, Jacques Prieur, Jadot and Grivot manages to do really good wines from these lesser parts of the vineyard.

It is the largest grand cru in Burgundy and its dilemma is its inconsistency in terms of expression and also certainly in quality. Today over 80 producers owns parcels in this 50 ha large vineyard and all of them do not produce good wines. Hence, it did not help customers at all, when the French Ministry of Agriculture (INAO) did not recognise the smaller sections (the French call them lieu-dit) inside this vineyard, but granting it all grand cru classé in 1937. Clearly a mistake. Anyway, these inner vineyards of the Clos-de-Vougeot are: Petit et Grand Maupertuis, Maret-Haut et Bas, Planté-l’Abbé, Garenne, Musigny-Chioures, Dix-Journaux, Quatorze-Journaux, Montiottes-Hautes et Basses and Baudes-Saint-Martin. Many producers refer to these anyway, but few print them on the label. There is a map here.

2009 may not be a classic vintage, but it is a really good one that is fat, fleshy, rich and forwardly packed with fruit. It may not have a long life ahead, but it is approachable with an relatively early drinking window and the French characterises it as sexy. Some says it is a lesser version of the great, big and high acidic 2005 and others mean it resembles the other vintages that end with a 9. It is probably going to shut down very soon, so therefore we decided to see how it is doing five years on.

The contenders this time in Clos-de-Vougeot

Now after this history lesson let’s enjoy the wines..

Domaine Jean Grivot

The owner, Etienne Grivot, is obviously inspired by the icon Henri Jayer (he is not lonely in this view) and employs a few days cold soak, organic ploughing and extremely low controlled yields in the vineyard as well as hard pruning in the winter and the nowadays very common green harvesting in late Spring/Summer. They own a quite large homogeneous parcel in the lieu-diet Quatorze Journaux which is situated in lower and almost flat part of the Clos-de-Vougeot, boarding the famous road RN74. Vines are about 40 years old here. Etienne uses 70% new, medium toasted oak for this grand crus. We followed this wine beyond seven hours of decanting, since it certainly needs time to really open up.

2009 Clos de Vougeot, Grivot

Sir Galahad:

The colour is dark, but translucently crimson-red purple middle with very light pink, red-purple and transparent edges.

A strange and quite unpleasant nose of solvent and sulfa lurks from the glass after decanting. After another two hours, suddenly there is a complex primary scent of wood glue, dried plum, black fruit jam, lingon berry, tiny notes of exotic spices and secondary notes of intense, lovely inner perfumes, some smoke, tobacco, ginger, clove, distinct nutmeg and somewhat burnt, vibrant minerals. After more than four hours later, the deep and very seductive perfumes are overly intensified and now includes peon roses, lilies as the dry plum/blackberry jam and the exotic spices are definitely more prominent as the tobacco, solvent notes as well as minerals all take big steps back. A very delicate, quite seductive and incredibly intense nose indeed with territorial characteristics, whose only backside is overly toasted oak.

The taste offers very pure, ripe and cool red fruit. The palate goes on with distinct anise, fennel, ginger, iron, gravel, minerals, pomegranate and dry blood orange. The acidity is energetic and fresh wrapping balsamic oils, lingonberry juice and nice bitter grape-peel. Texture is velvety already and overly polished. Tannins are relatively chewy, but now a little harsh, maybe underripe and covered by oak contributions and in this youth really rasps the tongue. Fine balance. Concentration is not more than ok, body is medium and it could be longer if it had more grip. Here adding some ripe stems would have done the trick I think, but again that is not the school of Henri Jayer that aims for purity.

It is very intensely perfumed and seductive wine with a very delicate nose. The fruit is pure and ripe, but a too polished wine for my taste. Moreover, I lack a consistent envelope and grip that would have carried it all the way to a more persistent finish. This in addition to the toasted oak notes puts the total score down a little. Open in 2018.

93-p/100

Andreas: 

The nose is quite expansive, but also a bit volatile and changes during the tasting. I find dark and dry fruit, notes of solvent, tobacco, plum, sand, perfume and also toasted oak in the background.

In the mouth the wine starts off quite deep and expressive but then finishes very slim and almost a bit diluted, which is unfortunate. There are quite ripe red berries, cherries, meat and iron. Tannins are very much present and sandy but not dominant.

I am a bit undecided about this wine. It is elegant and expressive, but unfortunately it lacks the stamina to reach all the way to the finish line.

93p/100

Stefano Z (Guest):

Dark colour for a pinot.

The typical Grivot-style on the nose that is revealed by the toasted barrels, lingonberry acid and sulphur.

Fine spices, red fruit, brioche, some lilies and super-intensive scent. Notes of burnt under vegetation. The red fruit is more plum and cherries than strawberry in here.

Very good tannin structure. Distinct but fine tannins. A well structured wine with expressive minerals, medium body and a fine balance between acidity and fruit. The alcohol stays in the background. Somewhat meaty behind the spicy fruit. Good length.

93p/100

Domaine Anne Gros

The owner Anne Gros that inherited her father Francois Gros’ vineyards have been a true rising star in Burgundy for a while now. She took over the estate in 1988 and put her own name on the labels in 1995. When we visited Anne two years ago, we learned that vinification is traditional and somewhat simple, straight forward. Note-worthy is that Anne employs cement vats for fermentation, uses 20% ripe stems and press wine for structure and raises her grand crus in as much as 80% new, lightly toasted Allier wood for 16 months, but she is remarkably skillful with integrating wood. Anne labels the lieu-dit, the Grand Maupertui, on her bottles and it is situated in the upper left part of the Clos-de-Vougeot. Her parcel is about 50 years old in average, but the oldest vines were planted in 1905. We followed this wine even after seven hours of decanting, since it too really needs its time to open up.

2009 Clos de Vougeot, Anne Gros

Sir Galahad:

The colour is dark, but translucent crimson-red purple middle with pink, red-purple and transparent edges.

After one hour, there is distinct nutmeg, cinnamon, Asian spices, jam, dense ginger and sulphur. After another two hours, the SO2 has disappeared and now red fruit emerges from the glass. After more than four hours, the fruit is clean, ripe and lean more to the dark side. In addition, distinct mint as well as some fresh red flowers lingers on the nose. Incredibly detailed, beautifully fresh nose with grace and complexity.

The taste offers fantastically fresh, dense and ripe fruit; prominent wild strawberry, but also plum and blueberry jam. Moreover, the palate offers ginger, cinnamon, eucalyptus, pastry notes and Asian spices. Concentration is great and there is obviously more structure in this wine compared to Grivot and with very nice grip from the stem and press wine addition and still it is very pure as well as offering a consistent and quite persistent finish. Acidity is energetic and wraps balsamic oils and herbs. Texture is velvety and the youthful tannins rips the tongue still, but even though a little dry still of good quality. The oak tannins here are a little dry, but remarkably well integrated at this stage. Great balance and precision.

This is a really pure, complex and elegant wine. In addition its, already a very balanced wine too, with a broad-spanning nose as well as offering a lot of depth. The only remarks are just a little excessive sweetness and somewhat dry tannins now, but overall a really great effort indeed. Open in 2019.

95p/100

Andreas:

The nose offers deep pinot noir notes and opens up surprisingly fast but then continues to evolve with time. We get pure red berries which are somewhat sweet, some under vegetation in the beginning, floral notes and as the wine gets more air we are met with more clove, eucalyptus and herbal notes.

The taste has medium to high acidity which is fresh and gives energy to the wine. For a pinot noir it is quite full bodied and is dominated by cherries, raspberries and other red fruit. Also here we get more herbal notes and eucalyptus as the wine evolved in the glass. There is a tannic structure to the wine which adds some backbone.

I would prefer less of the herbal notes and eucalyptus, but otherwise this is what I expect from a great Clos Vougeot. A wine which has complexity and structure but also elegance and energy.

95-96p/100

Stefano Z (Guest):

Colour is clean and clear. Light ruby red.

Pure fruit with elegant use of sulphur on the nose. Red fruit dominated by strawberries. In addition, roses, flowers, cinnamon stick, bark, tiny notes of mint and eucalyptus and some medicinal notes. Here too, somewhat burned undervegetation appears that leans towards curry powder.

Unusually elegant style and complexity for this site. Quite good acidity that offers backbone and freshness. Good balance and fine tannins. Good length. The aftertaste offers strawberries, cherries and raspberries as well as some spices that resembles Vosne-Romanée.

94p/100

Summary

We didn’t share the same opinion about the Grivot, but everybody agreed that the winner this time on technical knock-out is after just a few rounds, Anne Gros. It is the most balanced, purest and well integrated wine that celebrates its site when it is at its best and with really good grip too.

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

Showdown: The Bussia vineyard, Barolo 2006

The vineyard Bussia in the commune of Monforte d’Alba in Barolo is a very long stretched area from the town of Monforte d’Alba in the very south of the Barolo region up to somewhere in between the town of Barolo and the town of Castiglione-Falletto. The vineyard used to be divided up in about 14 separate vineyards known to the locals. Actually, it is ridiculously large for a vineyard to make any sense for anybody trying to understand its terroir and potential quality. Because of this, the soil varies a lot depending on if you are close to the other areas and of course your exposition. Some producers mark their lieu-dit on the bottle e.g. Aldo Conterno, Oddero to mention a few. However, the soil in general consist of marl, limestone, marine fossil sediments, plenty of iron and tufa and has the potential of producing very concentrated, structured and firm wines with a lot of deep, rich aromas and with great ageing potential. The latter trait also usually requires patience.

Contenders today are Giacomo Fenocchio and Silvano Bolmida in the vintage 2006. This vintage is old-school classic and certainly on the heavy side. In Monforte d’Alba this means a little more of everything and its wine may in some cases probably take two decades until they peek. So now it is absolutely just a baby and will require a lot of patience. Now let’s check in the contenders and taste the wines..




2006 Giacomo Fenocchio “bussia” Riserva wine-searcher-link

http://www.giacomofenocchio.com

This is a very traditional estate that is very true to its terroir and put all their effort into the vineyard. The kind we like. The estate was established in 1864 and is now managed by Claudio Fenocchio with the help of his brothers. As mentioned, Bussia is a too stretched area in order to understand its terroir and quality but this wine is from the lieu-dit “Bussia Sottana” as you probably can see in fine print on the label in the above picture. You can always trust traditionalists! You will find Bussia Sottana, if you draw a straight line between the Barolo town and the town of Castiglione-Falletto and put your finger in the middle of that line. Its immediate neighbour is the well known top lieu-dit Rocche di Castiglione on the right handside that cross boundaries among appelations here. In fact, it is a very interesting mixed zone, so it has some resemblance to the soil characteristics of Castiglione-Falletto area too. Basically this means that it adds clay and just a little less limestone that might render a little less power and more velvety texture.


Vines in Fenocchio’s parcel are about 30 years old, has perfect south-west exposition and the size of their parcel is 0.5 ha. Yield is about 45 hl/ha and grapes are 100% de-stemmed and gently crushed. Maceration is carried out for ten days or more depending on vintage with daily “pumping over”. The juice is fermented for 30 days and then a little unusually it is aged in stainless steel for six months and then put to rest in big, neutral barrels (botte) for three years. Then refinement for several months in bottle before release. Open 2020-2040+. Costs about €40.
 
Sir Galahad:

Colour: Dark ruby middle and just a little orange, transparent edges.
Nose: After about four hours, there is a very careful and slow scent of fresh, seductive and complex floral fragrances of grace in the glass; typically top notes of rose petals, lilies. Other notes follow like fresh red fruit, tar, oil paint, leather, metals, dog rose and very fine tuned limestone minerals. A very delicate, slow and fragrant nose!
Taste: A mid palate of cool, fresh boysenberries, sourish wild strawberries, menthol, fennel, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals, plenty of iron, shale stone, some spice and tar. Tannins are already somewhat polished with soft, sandy texture and they are chewy, but absolutely neither heavy nor harsh. On the contrary, it is less tannic and powerful than you might expect from Bussia and maybe it confirms its special location. Even though concentration is really good and it is mouth-filling, structure is quite slim and beautifully light-weighted. Its balance is impressive. The acidity is energetic, fresh and just a little whining now but the wine is just a baby, so obviously this will improve and is very promising, so if you can resist opening it, you should most likely forget it for another 7-8 years.

A very well balanced, quite complex and very persistent wine with classic elegance. It is surprisingly quite approachable already, but I think it really has a lot of potential to be even better if you manage to be patient.

94+p/100

Andreas:

Nose: It took a few hours but when it opened up it was fantastic. Fresh red berries, roses, oil paint, balsamic and some tar. After even more hours in the decanter it had a hint of whisky.
Taste: Good balance between acidity, fruit and tannins, but it will improve a lot when it gets more integrated. The tannins are quite soft but can get a bit dry. There are also minerals and a hint of alcohol.
Finish: Quite long acidic finish.
Summary: This is a fantastic wine but right now it is very young.

94p/100

2006 Silvano Bolmida “bussia” wine-searcher-link

http://www.silvanobolmida.com

Vines in Bolmida’s vineyard are 50 years old. Unfortunately, I cannot find out where his parcels are located in Bussia. Grapes are not de-stemmed, but bunches are crushed. Maceration is carried out for four weeks, so this long extraction is interesting. Vinification and ageing is done in a combo of small french barriques, some new, and bigger neutral barrels (botte). Another 14 months refining in bottle before release.


Colour: Dark ruby middle with somewhat transparent edges.
Nose: After about two hours, there is a scent of glue, solvent, truffle, fresh roses, tar, medicinal notes, earth, savoury, sulphur, shale stone and fir-needle. Fine nose and unusual.
Taste: A mid palate of a somewhat rustic tone, dark but not too much fruit here, saline, iodine, a lot of earthy, austere minerals and fennel. Tannins are not harsh, rather quite soft with sandy texture, but unfortunately very dry. Furthermore, there is an unpleasant, sharp metals, austere iodine and sulphur in the end on the tongue of the medium-long finish. Some excessive alcohol doesn’t help either. Unfortunately, it is a little flat too and the acidity is saline.

Even though the wine has a fine, interesting nose and it offers a vast palate and tannins are quite soft already, it is unbalanced, lacks fruit, has an unpleasant austere tone, it is a little flat and the tannins are dry. My guess to opening it in 2018 and hope for the best. Costs about €40.


86p/100

Andreas:

Nose: Earthy, iron, leather, lots of red berries and some cherries. Reminds me of Clos de Vougeot wines from burgundy. Very pleasant. 
Taste: The taste is quite fresh and the acidity is good. Not as much fruit as expected from the nose. The alcohol comes forward a bit too much. 
Finish: Ok finish with soft and quite dry tannins. 
Summary: A pleasant wine but nothing special. The nose is very appealing, but from there the impression goes down a bit. Still an ok buy if you like modern Barolos.
 

 

88p/100
 

Showdown: 2007 Cannubi, Barolo

The Cannubi vineyard is probably the oldest and most classic of all sites in Barolo. In general it is made up of bluish-gray marl made of Sant-Agata fossils that is rich in manganese/ magnesium carbonate, but also contains some iron and a special combo of lime, clay and sand. It is a blend site of the once existing lake in the barolo area, where the Tortonian- and Helvetian soils meet. This place is known for its balance between structure and elegance as well as complexity and mouth-filling aromas.

The contenders tonight are: Paolo Scavino, Michele Chiarlo, Marchesi di Barolo and Giacomo & Figli Brezza. For the record, an interesting 07 Chiara-boschis Cannubi was ordered at the Swedish Systembolaget, but an 09 was received and therefore refused. It is sad, since this is an interesting producer in this vineyard. Marchesi di Barolo replaced it, but we were certain this might be a mistake already before this tasting. As you can probably see below, all corks where looking fine to this tasting.

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 good one and it is approachable now and will not be long lived. The wines vary a lot in quality among different sites in Barolo and depends on when grapes were harvested. Especially, the Cannubi vineyard was a little troublesome with a lot of variations. Now let’s start off the tasting..

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2007 Marchesi di Barolo “Cannubi”

This estate is the oldest in Barolo and the majority of the grapes grow in a lesser part of the Cannubi sub zone bearing the local name of Cannubi-Muscatel, but since a court decision it too is considered Cannubi. This is bad, since the good parts of the traditional Cannubi site is a part of the hillside and Muscatel is not part of it. Recently it has surprisingly changed their tradition into a more modern one with the use of barriques and somewhat shorter maceration periods. The yield is 40 hl/ha and maceration is done by pumping the juice over the caps for ten days normally. After alcoholic fermentation, the juice is, surprisingly, moved into concrete tanks for malo for about two months. Then the wine is matured in both small barriques and large, neutral barrels (botte) for two years and then another year in bottle.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with white edges. An immediate scent of medicine cabinet, very dry rose petals, earthy cellar, leather, iodine, saline, intense minerals and very unexpectedly butter. Absolutely no fruit or flowers here. Strange nose.

A mid palate of saline, iodine, tobacco, bitter metals, sweet iron, a lot of earthy, burned minerals and almost no fruit. Tannins are heavy and it is flat and bitterly dry.

This is a very strange wine that seems to exclude fruit, an a warm fruit-driven vintage, freshness and balance over sheer masculine with heavy, dry tannins. It is hard to set a score here for such an old producer, when you tremble after reasons why this turned out as bad as it did.

82p/100

Andreas: 

Not very inspiring. Leather and some red berries, mainly raspberries. Slight sweetness and some fruit and a bit salty. Medium finish with some slight bitterness and quite dry tannins. This is not an impressive wine for the price level.

83p/100

2007 Michele Chiarlo “Cannubi”

This estate has a parcel high up in the vineyard and parts of the vines grow in the steep slope of over 50%, where they were the first producer to grow vines. The fermentation is done in big oak barrels of 55 hl and at a temperature of 27-30 degrees Celsius of which maceration goes on for 15 days with pumping over. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 700 liters for two years and the wine rests in bottle for another 15-16 months. We have read but not confirmed that they do not use new oak.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges.

Already after one hour, there is a scent of incredibly fresh and typically classic floral fragrances like fresh, very intense roses, lilies, very seductive perfumes, tar, pastry and some fine tuned lightly burned lime minerals. A very fruity, sexy and seductive nose!

A mid palate packed with ripe red fruits, tar, orange peel, fine tuned minerals and plenty of sweet iron. Sand paper tannins that blend well with the little over-energetic acidity. It is well balanced, generous and mouth-filling wine, but it lacks complexity and depth.The finish suffers just a little from a sweet-bitter iron note but this is a small remark. Open in 2016.

92p/100

Andreas:

Very classical Barolo with strawberries, tar, roses and some tobacco. Quite soft tannins. It is a bit sweet but it is well balanced by the acidity. Generous with red fruit and there are also some tar. Medium length but not very complex and a bit watery. This wine is easy to enjoy, but after a few glasses there is not much more to discover. Very classical Barolo.

92p/100

2007 Giacomo Brezza & Figli “Cannubi”

This estate is very traditional and is run by Enzo Brezza. Their vines in Cannubi are quite young (planted in 1994 and 2003). After harvest they do a first fermentation of 7-8 days in temperatures below 28, during which maceration is done with floating cap and pump-overs. After the primary fermentation the maceration can be extended for 10-15 days. The wine is matured in big, neutral Slovenian oak botti for a minimum of 2 years.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges. A typical barolo scent of fresh roses and other complex floral fragrances, delicate perfumes, iron, tar and fresh menthol. A delicate and complex nose!

A mid palate of sour wild strawberries, some boysenberry jam, plenty of sweet iron, fine minerals, ginger, fennel, very balsamic and tar. Concentration could be better. Texture is quite polished with sandy tannins. Quite long and medium-bodied and balance is fine, but it lacks complexity and concentration. Unfortunately, the finish suffers from the gnarly acidity now and some sharp metals.

Open in 2016.

91+p/100

2007 Paolo Scavino “Cannubi”

Enrico Scavino was one of the first modernist that immediately followed the ideas set up by Elio Altare back in the 80’s to achieve a more international and approachable barolo for the market. Today the daugthers Elisa and Enrica Scavino are taking over the wine making guided by their father Enrico. Vines were planted in 1946. Grapes are picked by hand and de-stemmed. The yield averages approximately 40 hl/ha and the fermentation and maceration is done in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged first in french oak barrels for ten months and after that another 14 months in large neutral casks (botti). Then the wine rests for one year in stainless steel and another ten months in bottle before released on the market.

Sir Galahad:

Dark ruby red with transparent edges.
A scent of very delicately fresh and complex floral fragrances, elegant perfumes, a lot of tar, leather, peppery notes of oak, complex layers of conserved layers of black fruit, wedged grass and extremely fine tuned lightly burned lime minerals. A very delicate and slow nose!

A mid palate of paint, ginger, deep, pure layers of red fruit, blood orange, notes of orange-peel, some tar, fennel, a lot of burned but already fine tuned burned and delicate metallic minerals in the very long, slim and quite elegant finish. This is very pure and delicate and only suffers just a little from excessive alcohol. Texture is quite silky but now with some bite in the end.

95p/100

Andreas:

Deep, ripe red berries, roses, leather and some paint. The nose indicates a higher age.
Taste: Well balanced with the acidity and the tannins. In the beginning there where very slight hints of vanilla, but this disappeared later. There where also red fruit and some alcohol in the end. Quite long finish with depth. This is a high quality wine with great depth and some complexity.

94p/100

The winner this night is the great Cannubi from Paolo Scavino.