Category Archives: 2009

Another really good red from etna

A month ago another interesting etna rosso appeared at the Swedish monoploy and yesterday we tasted it. It is built upon 80% nerello mascalese and the rest is mainly nerello cappuccio but also Alicante from the northern slopes of the volcano and more precisely in the contrada (vineyard area) Moganazzi at 750 m above sea level. Amazingly, some vines here are as old as 150! Soil is sandy with lava and highly mineral. The producer I Custodi let 20% whole bunches go into the crusher and raises the grape juice in used barriques. We keep being fascinated by the wines from mount Etna and they way they mix Burgundy with Barolo, but more importantly their very own intriguing terroir of complex minerals.


2009 I Custodi, DOC Etna Rosso “Aetneus”

The core is dense and glowing of scarlet and cerise colour with light pink-cerise edge.

The nose first emerges with synthetic glue and some “Burgundish popcorn” of which the latter  is a notion of skilful use of wood with light toasting. After another two hours, these scents vanish totally and then it is full of prominent site-typical minerals and lavishly beautiful roses and violets as part of its lovely perfume. In addition, clove, wallpaper paste and spice cumin are noted too. It is pliant, soft and rich, but foremost it is a super crisp and generous wine full of very complex Etna minerals that appear to be wrapped in grape peels and oil paint in a way that partly reminds me of a young Bartolo Mascarello framed by ripe, fine tannins. In addition, spices, dry blood orange and really cool, clean red fruit; mainly notes of raspberry candy, wild strawberries and mull berries. It is very elegant, highly concentrated and quite persistent too. This underrated wine leans more to a very slender Barolo, but without the tar and cigars in terms of aromas and nose, but texture is a middle road. Even though it is approachable now, its tannins needs to settle even more so a guess is to wait with opening this until 2019.


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.


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)



A 2009 Amoureuses from a detail-focused fan of gravity in Volnay

Now, we are back after the x-mas holidays!

Mr Patrick Landanger, with a background of running a family business of developing surgical equipment with several inventions of his own, is the producer of the wine this time. If you pay him a visit, you’ll notice several inventions, e.g. the glass constuction on each barrel used when topping them.

Like many other vignerons in Burgundy, he employs cold soak for a few days, in his case, seven and then 21 days of maceration on the skins. The grape juice is raised in 30% new oak for 18 months on the lees without batonage and Mr Landanger is a big fan of gravity and thus avoids any side-effects from pumping. He pays attention to the moon calendar, but thinks biodynamics is too religious. The roots in his parcels in this great vineyard are quite young; replanted in 1976 and 1977 and they were acquired in 2008 when Daniel Moine was selling out. This bottle is the very first bottling of Amoureuses under the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or’s label. The vineyard was according to rumours in very bad shape when Patrick took over.

DSC046662009 Les Amoureuses 1er cru, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or

Colour is transparent, red orange with typical pink-orange edges. However. less pink than usual and very beautiful indeed. Hence, a little more blood orange than pink almost like a nebbiolo wine. 🙂

A nose of immediate popcorn, newly cut ginger and subtle notes of cardamom. The vineyards recognisable, seductive and hedonistic inner perfume emerges extremely slowly after two hours in waves. After another two hours, newly cut rose petals and white lilies appear as top notes as well as grape-peel and the sought-after morning-dew on gravel.

On the palate, the red fruit is clean, pure and dominated by wild strawberries, but also red currant and ginger as well in the anorectic building body with quite long and somewhat elegant finish. However, oak is a little dominating yet. Acidity is fresh, cool, but except from grape-peel, it wraps overly saline crystalline minerals; almost salty and a little bitter. Unfortunately, it is a little diluted too, but precision is here and elegancy. Texture is soft, but still spurs too much in the cheeks and needs much more time.

It certainly lacks concentration, is overly saline and a little bitter, but still it offers the elegancy and perfume from this sacred and wonderful vineyard with some precision. Since this is the first wine Patrick produced, most likely quality will improve and we need to try upcoming vintages. Open in 2019.



A forward Les Mitans from the roots of Volnay history

The domaine Lafarge uses very little new oak (< 10%), which is quite unusual in Burgundy nowadays and their practices are based on historical knowledge, sticking to selection massale grapes and never experimented with clones. We just met with Frédéric Lafarge and his father a week ago in Burgundy and we will put up a post shortly on this. The vineyard “Les Mitans” appears to mean mid-slope and has somewhat east exposition with early morning sun between 1er crus Les Brouillards and En L’Ormeau. The top soil is a mix of marl and limestone. The center is a layer of stone and deeper down there is clay. This diversity and soil composition renders wines with complexity.

2009 Volnay 1er cru “Les Mitans”, Michel Lafarge

Translucently light red-purple and blood orange middle with light edges. Very fine colour.

The nose emerges with water-on-stone, earthy notes, newly wedged grass, deep minerals and fresh herbs; eucalyptus, thyme. After another three hours, an intriguing, deep inner perfume arrives and notes of dried violets. An honest, quite pretty nose from the soil.

On the palate, the wine is immediately just a little bitter, but there is ripe fruit in the background as well as tea, hints of coffee, gravel and loads of deep minerals. The vivid, cool acidity is wrapped with saline dry licorice and currently a little less pleasant sour-bleak grape juice that is just a little overly dominating. Texture is smooth and soft. Tannins are fine sandy in a manner that resembles a 10-year-old warmer short-cycled Barolo from La Morra.

This is a transparent wine with smooth, soft texture from thick, wide stroking tannins driven by a remarkably vivid, high quality acidity, but it is not a seductive charmer and now it hides the fruit. More of a transparent, honest and genuine, but fragile hero speaking the tales of its origin and brooding on something mystic. It certainly needs to time to develop.


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.



Raspberries and smiles from Beaujolais

It is not often we drink wines from Beaujolais, but at a blind tasting recently a bottle of Jean Foillards Morgon Cote du Py Cuvee 3.14 put a smile on our faces. Therefore we could not resist buying a few bottles of their latest vintage of Morgon Côte du Py when we got the chance. When reading the notes, keep in mind that the 2009 vintage is in general a safer bet than 2012.

Jean Foillard is a legend in natural wine making in Beaujolais and is often grouped together in the “Gang of Four” together with Marcel Lapierre, Guy Breton and Jean-Paul Thévenet. His wine making methods include late harvest, natural yeast, no filtering and minimal or no sulfur dioxide. This results in honest and transparent wines.

Notes from the tastings

2009 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py Cuvee 3.14

The nose is very direct with an abundance of fresh and quite sweet raspberries, crisp acidic notes, minerals and hints of stable in the background. This is an intriguing and generous nose. In the mouth we are washed over with juicy and very cool raspberries, but also hints of grape and a very fresh, energetic and direct acidity. The finish is not very long but very vibrant and leaving you wanting more of this wine.

We became very happy when having a sip of this wine. We are not talking about the most complex wine, but it is seductive, energetic and fresh. The most impressive here is the level of purity of the fruit. We could have finished several bottles of this wine and the best recommendation is to drink and enjoy, instead of taking notes.


2012 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py

The wine has a very flirtatious nose with fresh, sweet red fruit and quite good depth. There are minerals, some nail varnish, a hint of ripe banana and loads of raspberries and cherries. It is hard not to be seduced immediately but it is more a flirt than the beginning of a long lasting relationship.

In the mouth the fruit gets more ripe, the cherries take a more dominant position and there are hints of bitter almond. The acidity is more harsh than fresh and crisp.

When the sharpness has disappeared we are left with a quite sweet ending.

I was not expecting miracles from this wine, but I was hoping for something more. The main drawback is the lack of balance and crispness in the taste. The wine could develop with time, so I will save the other bottle a few years.



It is not a surprise that we have a difference in quality between these wines, but it was larger than expected. The Cuvee 3.14 is several steps up and has balance and energy which cannot be matched in the basic Morgon Côte du Py. And an important warning has to be made: If you do not like raspberries these wines should be avoided!!!

The Lovers Vineyard in Burgundy

The Les Amoureuses is a very special vineyard usually offering a very intensely fragrant, feminine, enchanting bouquet. It is classified as premier cru, but everybody considers it being Grand cru, but anyway it is the little sister princess residing at 250 m above sea level just below the great queen of Musigny.

The wines at this estate are a made in a collaboration by Robert, Robert Groffier’s son Serge and grandson Nicolas, so three generations are involved with the wine making business. They own the largest part of the Les Amoureuses vineyard (1.09 ha which is a 20%) and vines are about 30 years old and divided into three bigger parcels with slightly different exposition. They aquired these in 1933 from a négotiant at the time. They employ 5-6 days cold soak and maceration is carried out at remarkably high temperatures. Vinification parameters vary depending on vintage and they add ripe stalks when extra tannins for structure is needed. The wine is raised in barriques for one year of which 50% are new and then the wine rests and stabilises even further in neutral steel vats until bottling after 16 months.

2008 is a classic vintage with a very inconsistent growing season that reminded people at first a lot of the previous bad year of 2007. However, even though it too was wet and in general cool, it was saved by some weeks of well needed sun and warmth beginning in late June, but went cloudy in July. In the first part of August, the weather was really sunny followed by a very wet and cold September. Harvest was not easy with mildew and started in the last week of September, but the wines have developed better than anticipated. They are definitely better than 2007.

2008 1er cru Amoureuses, Robert Groffier

A really beautiful, translucent dark cerise-red colour with light-orange and transparent edges.

The scents at the base holds under vegetation, dusty gravel, distinct earthy minerals, wood glue and then you are suddenly transferred into a summer meadow with morning fresh dew. After two hours, it offers quite intense top notes of violets, fresh flowers, dried Mediterranean herbs and balsamic notes. In addition, very deep, fragrant and seductive scents with stylish inner perfumes emerges in waves at the glass. And finally, after three hours, the bouquet offers ripe fruit and the perfume is a little less intense at this stage, but more prominent than other scents in here. This vineyard is always something very beautiful and seductively captivating.

It is detailed with quite deep layers of red fruit; very ripe wild strawberries, sloes, cranberries and in addition some quite surprising passion-fruit. In addition, there is fresh herbs and spices e.g. clove, nutmeg, anise, cardamon, Sicilian blood orange, gravel and balsamic oil. Texture is velvety, almost silky and tannins are ripe and of really high quality. Acidity is incredibly fresh and wraps balsamic oils, delicate pears and orange-peel. Concentration is fine, but could be better and there is just enough structure.

This supreme princess just lacks some concentration, grip and backbone to reach all the way to the finish-line as well as suffering just a little from some excessive sweetness, but otherwise this sophisticated and lovely young woman, is a sensual personality, all dressed in velvet, is strikingly balanced, feather-lightly structured and certainly emerges with grace and elegance. Her scent is incredibly fragrant, captivating and intense from a lovely site that we certainly can never get enough of. It is enjoyable now, but I urge you to wait until 2018 to let the tannins integrate more and get everything into place.


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 very 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.


2009 1er cru Amoureuses, Robert Groffier

The colour is beautifully translucent blood orange with scarlet nuances and light-orange edges.The first hour, the base nose offers medicine cabin, earth cellar, cherries and distinct wet gravel. After another two hours, the expected flowers finally arrive. A blossoming summer meadow, earthy minerals and then waves of really intense flowers and seductive inner-perfumes leave the glass. The scent is intensively forward, complex and fragrant with its spellbinding qualities.

Texture is very soft and already silky with almost no spurs from the tannins at all. The fruit is forwardly super-fresh and dominated now by deep layers of red currant, sloes and cranberries, but there are notes of wild strawberries too in here. The mid palate offers typical terroir-characteristics; pleasant metallic and earthy minerals as well as anise seeds, distinct herbs, pastry, dusty gravel and cardamom. It is a persistent, very pure, concentrated, refined and very forward taste sensation with great balance. All these great flavours are coated in very fresh and balsamic acidity that wraps passion-fruit, pears and oils.

Yet again, a great effort by Groffier and the site has proved itself to be absolutely worthy of its grand cru nomination and all its feminine magic. This princess is full of self confidence, very generous and direct. It is more complete than the 2008 vintage, especially on the palate with better concentration, and simply lovely.



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.



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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.

A skillful modernist with a great nose of Cannubi

Luciano Sandrone is usually referred to as a modernist, but ever since he was acknowledged by International critics back in the 90’s for his 1989 barolo, he has always been very skilled and careful with oak making sure that expression of Barolo is always conveyed and not coated by excessive oak aromas. Even though, Luciano always aimed for more approachable barolos, his maceration periods was not as extremely short as the others in the gang initiated by Elio Altare in the late 70’s. He started out with eight days and throught the years he has ended up with about twelve days. In addition, he never employed rotor fermentors, but always used open-top vats. At Sandrone, they put most of their effort into the vineyards and keep low controlled yields at 35 hl/ha and employ meticulous care of the plants; they prune hard and employ green harvest. The malo and aging was done in 500L french barriques (Tonneaux) of which 25% are new. So I guess you could say he stayed somewhere in between tradition and modernism, a middle road that many producers have ended up today. Maybe a little ahead of his time.

We were really impressed with the 2001 Cannubi-boschis and even more so with the exceptionally balanced 2004 vintage that offered so much depth, complexity and elegance from the neighbour to the famous Cannubi. The estate is headed by Luciano Sandrone and his very much younger little brother Luca who is responsible for the vineyards. Luciano’s daughter, Barbara, is responsible for customer relations, marketing and sale.
The 2009 vintage is patchy in a very warm, short-cycled year that is not favourable for nebbiolo, but harvest was easy and some producers still managed to render really good wines by waiting until tannins were ripe and more importantly employed scruples selection. It appears that Sandrone did harvest quite late, so this is promising.
The colour is beautiful, translucent garnet red middle, transparent and light-orange edges.
The base of the nose frames tobacco, cigar box, notes of tar, dry licorice-root, distinct conserved raspberries, oil paint and wood glue. Lovely top notes of dried rose petals, dry mint and fragrant fresh inner perfumes. Typical scent of the famous Cannubi site, but remarkably fresh and elegant with lovely inner perfume. In addition, tiny notes of lavender soap from the oak, but nothing that disturbs. Honestly, an overall wonderfully detailed and lovely, transparent nose.
The taste is very forward and intense with loads of opulent, ripe and almost too sweet fruit and most prominent is sourish wild strawberries. The mid palate offers distinct anise, grape juice, herbs, delicate, complex lime stone minerals and gravel. The acidity is very energetic, fresh wrapping grape-peel, balsamic notes and bitter herbs. Texture is fine sand now, but will of course improve with time into a more velvet finish in a few years. However, we lack chewy tannins and these are maybe not unripe, but not of the expected high quality level and yet a little harsh. The wine has a medium body, it is round, very well balanced with a pleasant and harmonious crescendo in the quite persistent final.
They show, again, that they are very skillful and careful with oak and render a very round, balanced wine made with finesse and the nose is really great and transparent to this famous site. However, the taste lacks some complexity and depth that we expect from this wine, so even though we enjoy it, it is a little of a disappointment from yet a good but average vintage. Open 2016.


Vertical 2005, 2008, 2009 Altare, Barolo Arborina

I have visited Silvia Altare, the daughter of Elio Altare, several times in La Morra, Barolo. I have always been impressed by their Barolo Arborina, especially from the vintages 2000 and 2004.

Arborina is a very small vineyard in La Morra with a lot of calcareous clay mixed with sand, marl and rich in manganese/magnesium carbonate. Typical soil from the Tortonian geological era which makes up for fragrant and very elegant wines in this region. It is also, unfortunately, exposed to hail and heavy rains. In 2006, hails wiped out the whole harvest, so no bottles from Arborina were made this year. Arborina is not considered among the best crus in the region, but Altare has succeeded in making great wines from here and is a good example of what a really skilled producer can do.

Elio Altare was the leader of the “modernista” movement back in the 80’s inspired by a trip to Burgundy. The modernists aimed for more approachable barolos with the use of barriques to soften the tannins but also to make an elegant, international style barolo. In order to restrain the prominent tannins in the nebbiolo grape during extraction, an extremely short 4-day maceration is still employed and the use of rotary fermentor which is a stainless steel temperature-controlled cabin originally invented by Enrico Scavino with a mechanic rotor that is configured to automatically move around the skins from the surface a few times a day. In the case of Arborina, usually 20% new and 80% 2nd passage french barriques are used to make this very burgundish barolo. Thus a fairly low level of new oak is employed.

2009 Barolo “Arborina”, Elio Altare

2009 is an average-good vintage that was warm, very patchy, short-cycled and absolutely not a classic one. In general, it may offer less concentration and be a little volatile, but if harvested at the right time it usually renders fine balance and the quality of tannins in terms of ripeness are in general better than the forecast. Many skilled producers that employed careful selection of grapes still managed to do really good wines.

Sir Galahad:

Colour has a very dark ruby middle, very young white/transparent edges.

The nose emerges with immediate, distinct sweet fruity cream cake, but then the nose changes tremendously even after three hours of airing. Anyway, there are pleasant and subtle fragrances, scents of water-on-stone, some tar, tiny asian herbs, saline mushrooms, mint, violets, solvent and oil paint in here. This somewhat continuously changing broad spanning nose is really fresh and delightful.

The palate offers intense, pure and very forward fruit. Grape-peel, shale, anise, fresh menthol and fine tuned minerals. Very fresh, balsamic and energetic acidity. Alcohol is a little high now, but this is just a very minor remark. Fine, but now a little rough tannins, but still of good quality. Texture is sandy now and structure is fine with a medium body. There is complexity here but this wine needs to integrate a few years more, but it will be really fresh and pretty.

A fresh and approachable wine that still offers good concentration and complexity considering the short-cycled vintage that is not in favour for nebbiolo. Open 2015.



A somewhat carefully nose with red fruit, lots of wild berries, balsamic notes and menthol. Not so much depth but very fresh.

Taste: Again generous with wild berries. The acidity adds freshness and energy. Some sweetness, candy and hints of solvent.

Finish: There are some sandy tannins but also fresh acidity.

Summary: This wine needs a few years for the acidity and tannins to get integrated 100%, but it has great potential and is already very good. Compared with the 2004 it is much fresher in the finish. You feel like drinking more immediately. This is a quality wine.


2008 Altare Barolo Arborina

Sir Galahad:

2008 was a cool, somewhat patchy and difficult vintage with hails and a wet summer with mildew and parasite, but was saved by a stable weather with minor rains and cool nights in the beginning of September that lasted until a late harvest caused by an unusually late ripening. A vintage of timing the harvest it appears.

It is a good and classic vintage and generally appear, I think, very aromatic and with structure, but with more saline minerals than usual and now usually not approachable at all. The acidity level is very high and will most likely need significant time to integrate, so acidity and minerals has a tendency to cover everything else and certainly needs more airing than usual.

Colour is dark ruby middle, scarlet-red tone in the outer parts with transparent edge.

There is notes of sweet oak and some alcohol on the nose, glue, some tar, rosemary, vibrant earthy minerals and spices. After an hour, bunches of intense red flowers and the typical feminine, lovely style perfume emerges.

The mid palate has layers of blackberries, anise, peppers, pastry, black tea, notes of truffles, fresh herbs and a lot of earthy minerals. Instantly more meaty and fleshy than expected, very mouth-filling, generously full-bodied indeed with impressive concentration and it is long. The end currently has thick, chewy tannins (a little more than usual for this wine) that bites and the acidity is a little gnarly even after a lot of airing, but it is pleasantly balsamic and promises freshness for a long lifetime. This all very good. On the bad side here, is some unexpected excessive alcohol and a little sweetness and bitterness from new oak which disturbs the mid palate a little. The latter is a surprise, since the estate is usually very skillful with new oak. Even though it is too young now for evaluating its future destiny in terms of balance and elegance, it is clearly not in the same league as e.g. the great 2000 or 2004 vintages. Open 2018+. Costs about €70.


2005 Altare Barolo Arborina

Sir Galahad:

2005 is a very good and underrated vintage, but not a classic one. It is in general less heavy on tannins, less structured from a little cooler vintage that is for early drinking that will not gain that much from further bottling. Concentration is usually good and if harvested at the right time it is usually balanced and more complex than forecasted.

Colour is very dark ruby middle, scarlet-red tone in the outer parts with transparent edge.

A little sweet oak on the nose, tar, asian herbs, cinnamon, rosemary, vibrant earthy minerals, very fresh black fruit, forest floor, very balsamic, a bunch of intense red flowers and the typical feminine, stylish inner perfumes. Super-freshness and stylish perfume are the obvious key words here!

The mid palate has layers of fruit typically boysenberries, wild strawberries and dark cherries. Other aromas follow e.g. anise, fennel, menthol, notes of truffles, fresh herbs, black tea, balsamic notes, spices, pepper, a lot of fine tuned earthy minerals and tar. Tannins are surprisingly just a little heavy still and not as polished as I would expect in this vintage and site when drinking it now. A very balanced wine that only suffers from just a little excessive alcohol and some oak notes that is a little disturbing, but more importantly it doesn’t cover the complex aromas here at all. Concentration is great, complexity is impressive and it is long.

An incredibly fresh and complex nose. Yes, I’d like less alcohol here too, but in this case I think there is so much else to discover here so I am more forgiving in this case. It is elegant and the tannins are thicker than usual, they are pleasantly chewy and it is complex, long and very balanced and very, very Burgundish. Open in 2014 just to let the tannins settle a little more and get more polished. Costs €82.