Tag Archives: Piedmont

Very interesting unknown Piedmont wine

This wine is from a place about 40 km north-east of Barolo and just 8 from the town of Asti in an area called Castagnole Monferrato. The grape Ruché is grown at 250 m above sea level with perfect south exposition made from 25 years-old vines. The family-run estate Montalbera harvest the grapes passed fully ripeness. In addition, 5% of these grapes go through passimento (dry fermentation) for today’s wine. The risk here is of course to render to much alcohol and a sweet wine, but we guess that they know what they are doing. 🙂

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2014 Ruché di Castagnole-Monferrato “Laccento”, Montalbera

Beautiful colour with blood orange core and some red purple tints with orange-pink edges.

After opening, nutmeg, notes of leather, blue plums, but after some hours a delightful and complex scent of cardamom, ripe strawberries, beeswax, subtle peony rose petals, dry thyme, chewing tobacco and soot arrives. Surprisingly, it shares several flavours in a langhe nebbiolo in its impressive and complex nose.

Quite intense and direct taste packed with slightly sweet, very ripe and fresh combo of primarily wild strawberries and big plums wrapped in delicate minerals. A very generous, quite mellow, pliant and pure wine, but even more impressive it is remarkably rich, balanced and framed in velvety, thick really ripe, impressively soft and approachable tannins already, totally unlike a barolo. Its only backside is that it lacks elegance and finesse. In deed a steel for the money at €30.

90-92p

The 2006 pride of Paolo Scavino

We have met with the lovely Elisa Scavino a few times along the years and they have evolved in a fantastic direction by cutting down on new oak and keeping up their meticulous work set up by her great father, Enrico.

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2006 Barolo “Bric dël Fiasc”, Paolo Scavino

Colour is half-half transparent of red cerise core with glowingly blood orange outer parts.

Obvious oak notes still in here even after 10 years and I remember that they turned down this quite a bit back in 2008 which was a great decision. A very much boosted perfume of raspberry candy sweets, blossoming roses and minerals in here still. Be sure to let the wine stay in a decanter for about two hours to let its inner terroir slip through. As always, it is fresh and elegant with its personal deep minerals and clove-coated red fruit. However, tannins are not anywhere near finished. I guess that you have to wait as late as 2022 for this one to integrate fully.

90+p/100

The two 2010 Pajés from Roagna are a velvet glove

After having tasted the 2010 langhe rosso and the marvelous 2010 Pira vecchie viti we simply had to evaluate the two pajés; the normal and the vecchie viti. The latter is twice as expensive from vines on average 60 years old and minimum 50, whereas the normal’s vines are between 25-50 years old. As usual extraction using the traditional sub-merged caps method is hefty with 2 months for the normal and another half month for the vecchie viti. This tasting was half blind to make it more interesting.

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2010 Roagna Pajé

Andreas:

Intense but rather slim nose with pure red berries, lemon peel and some herbal notes. Cool and almost electric acidity combined with silky but still grippy tannins. Herbal notes, blueberries, raspberries, slight cherry notes, orange peel and some rather surprising hints of sherry in the background. Mouthwatering and precise finish.

At he moment the acidity is slightly dominant but this will definitely calm down with time. Energetic and intense wine.

94p/100

Sir Galahad:

Dense nose. Very slow scent of rose petals, beeswax and inner perfume. Concentrated, juicy, cool black- and red fruit in balance with crisp, vivid and balsamic acidity wrapping orange-peel and beeswax. Aromas of anise seeds, Asian spices and savoury notes. Velvety texture with chewy tannins with grip. Medium bodied and generous. The clean persistent finish lacks just some precision compared to its pricier counterpart, but compensates this well with freshness and approachable balance.

94p/100

2010 Roagna Pajé vecchie viti

Andreas:

Dense and compact nose with intense notes of oil paint, ripe (almost jammy) strawberries, blueberries and some roses. Soft but still fresh acidity with some citric notes in the finish. Ripe strawberries, leather, blueberries and orange peel on the palate. Tannins are grippy but fine grained.

This wine has a truly amazing nose but the palate needs more time to integrate. When it is ready we have a very complete and complex wine with great personality.

96p/100

Sir Galahad:

Dense nose here too but just a little more depth and much more intense. An amazing nose of grace that is vibrating and compelling. As expected, a little more precision here and depth, but currently more tight and things are not in place yet, but it broods on something special. More concentration and power in here and a little more jammy and currently somewhat smudgier fruit. Acidity is great and crisp with razor-sharp precision. First mostly dark fruit and cherries, but after some hours anise seeds, earthy strawberries, dark plums and notes of blueberries appear. This will need plenty of time to come around. An unpolished diamond. A guess is in 2025.

95-96p/100

Summary

For early drinking in the coming 5-6 years, the normal pajé is recommended as we both agree that it is more approachable and balanced now. For the long term, the vecchie viti is absolutely a notch up on the nose. On the palate, it is not so big a difference, but vecchie viti lurks on more precision, structure and concentration.

2010 shines in Roagnas oldest vineyard

Roagna released their wines from the fabulous 2010 vintage in February including the langhe rosso. This wine is made of grapes selected from vines of which the youngest dates back to 1937! On Etna this is normal, in Burgundy uncommon, but in Barolo, it is truly rare. It is part of some of the oldest locations in Barolo and more precisely east of the Bricco Rocche di Castiglione-Falletto facing south-east in the blend zone and in the very heart of the Barolo area. The best grapes are extracted using the traditional submerged-cap method on the skins for three months.

DSC04702Roagna Barolo “Pira” vecchie viti

Andreas:

Pure and fresh red berries combined with some blueberries and boysenberries, but also orange peel, roses, fresh spices and slight herbal notes. The nose could have brought me to some of the top vineyards in burgundy.

On the palate the wine is all about balance and elegance. The acidity is amazing with mouth watering lime fruit, but still never dominant. The tannins are velvety but still have some grip. We find the same fresh multilayered fruit also on the palate.

Fresh finish leaving you thirsty for more.

The Roagna wines are often said to require long time for maturation. However, this wine is fantastic already now, but of course has a long life ahead.

96-97/100

Sir Galahad:

The nose emerges as truly special here and is refined and emerges very slowly in waves. Subtle beeswax, orange-peel, spices, ethereal and with an inner beautiful perfume that is quite intense and aristocratic but slow and incredibly complex.

On the palate, it is incredibly concentrated and very rich, but not heavy at all. Aromas of very deep minerals, anise seeds, tea and layers of pure, ripe black fruit; mainly blackberries and dark, peppery plums that dominates. The precision is stunning as is the harmony of core aromas that unites in a lovely finish with strikingly clean, fresh acidity and silky texture, framed by thick, chewy and super-ripe tannins. They steer the wine in a clear direction and elegant manner. Surprisingly, very approachable already now and the insane extraction just adds honest and true terroir. Just buy, if you still manage to find them. Already drinkable, but a guess is that it will be even better in some years.

96-97p/100

 

 

Roagna makes another really good rosso

We are true fans of the Roagna estate with the relieving motto “we don’t change”. This is the essence of tradition when it really adds value and at the same time is ahead of its time when talking terroir and high-quality grapes. As most people know, Roagna bottles a langhe rosso that can easily compete with barolos. The vintage 2006 was tasted here. The 2010 vintage is by far the most balanced and most refined one in decades with potentially perfect tannins as most of us are fully aware of by now. Roagna is probably the last to bottle with the exception of Roberto Conterno’s ultimate barolo, the Monfortino. The rosso is made of fruit from young vines from the vineyards; Pira in Serralunga d’Alba in Barolo and Pajé in Barbaresco (just below their house) and is raised in neutral barrel for five years.

IMG_20160528_0123512010 Roagna, langhe rosso

Sir Galahad:

The nose is refined and complex offering menthol, subtle, dried rose petals, purest beeswax, some oil paint and distinct Asian spices; spice cumin and cardamom. Some lilies are noted too.

Usually, on the palate, the rosso is bold and throwing flavours at you, but here it is more laid back, very much like the vintage. So unlike e.g. the great 2006 and even 2008, there is much, much less fire wood, tar, blood pudding and broth in here. Packed with sweet, dark plum, earthy red fruit, cherry stone, tea, notes of dry honey, orange peel, anise seeds and even more so, lovely, vibrant minerals. Acidity is peppery and a little gnarly, but texture is pliant and velvety. The backside is that It is a little volatile and fruit is somewhat dry and introvert, but still among the best rossos.

91p-/100

Giacomo Fenocchio – Respect for terroir and great balance

When we visited Piedmont in 2013 we had the pleasure of meeting up with Claudio Fenocchio, a humble and careful man who produces fantastic wine with great respect for tradition and terroir. We spent much of the time talking about different vineyards and how their characteristics affect the wines. Claudio knows his vineyards and their history extremely well and talks about them with great passion. Claudio emphasises that there are only two vineyards that are truly Bussia; Sottana and Soprana. From their home they have a truly amazing view of the area, with La Morra straight ahead, Barolo down to the right and further to the right we can see Castiglione-Falletto, starting with the Villero vineyard.

Claudio Fenocchio

Claudio Fenocchio

The estate was founded in 1864, has been in the family for 5 generations and is carrying the name of Giacomo Fenocchio, the father of Claudio, who headed the estate after the second world war and who acquired some of the vineyards that still are within the family. They have vineyards in Cannubi (approximately 40 year old vines), Bussia Sottana (25-40 year old) and Villero (appr. 65 year old).

As mentioned before the estate uses traditional methods, which includes long maceration, usage of indigenous yeast and maturation in large barrels (botti) to ensure no oak flavours make it into the wine.

Claudio Fenocchio

The wines we tasted

Bussia 2013 – from tank

This wine was of course way to young to be tested, but Claudio gave us the chance to taste the 2013 before malolactic fermentation. The acidity is very harsh at this point and it is more or less impossible to understand the potential of the wine. This was more in the department of education than a tasting 🙂

Bussia 2012 – from barrel

The vines are from the Sottana part of Bussia and of mixed ages, but on average approximately 30 years.

At the time of the tasting the wine was very closed and reduced, though there where signs of fresh red fruit, like raspberries and some orange peels.

The wine is quite harsh in the mouth and the acidity needs to stabilise before we get en proper impression of the wine. There are some balsamic notes, blood orange and ginger. Impressive concentration and a texture that already has fine and sandy tannins. Heavy, but of good quality.

More or less impossible, and not at all fair, to score at this time.

Claudio Fenocchio botti
2010 Cannubi – from barrel

From 40 year old vines.

The typical seductive, fragrant perfumes and beautiful rose petals. There are raspberries, some tobacco and the nose shows quite a lot of depth.

The acidity is rather sharp and direct but has a balsamic freshness and is very energetic. We also find fresh red fruit, wild strawberries, raspberries, ginger and some gravel. It is quite persistent and has an impressive balance already.

Texture is already fine sandy and tannins are thick, chewy and of good quality. Enormous potential. This wine needs time to integrate fully but will surely develop in to a wine with good structure and complexity.

92+p/100

2010 Villero – from barrel

From 65 year old vines.

The wine is slow to open up and is a bit reductive but after a while it develops a complex, deep and fresh nose. Fragrant, very delicate with fantastic details, showing both balsamic and floral notes. There are also raspberries and limestone minerals.

The acidity is better integrated than in the Cannubi. Again lots of red berries, distinct blood orange, very ripe, fresh and deep wild strawberries, ginger, nutmeg, loads of fine tuned limestone minerals. Coarse sandy texture and tannins are chewy, thick of high quality.

This is a feminine wine with lots of elegance and fragrance. We are very impressed.

94p/100

2010 Bussia – from barrel

Quite seductive perfumes and fragrant flowers. Super-fresh, ripe red fruit and hints of solvent. Fantastic nose which shows depth and lots of fruit.

Deeper and a bit earthier than the Villero, but still with the characteristic “Fenocchio freshness”. Ripe fruit, boysenberries, blood orange, iron, crushed stone, balsamic notes and herbs. Very balanced already, quite slim structure and persistence. Texture is already polished and tannins are chewy and of great quality.

The wine is very generous with lots of fruit, but it also has complexity, energy and depth.

95p/100

Summary

As always the wines of Fenocchio show great transparency and honesty that celebrate its terroir without adding anything else. In addition, they deliver great freshness, deep aromas and complexity. This was also our first taste of the 2010 vintage and it immediately showed great potential.

An Albino Rocca from Ronchi in 2012

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

DSC046732012 Barbaresco “Ronchi”, Albino Rocca

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

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

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

86p/100

Another approachable barolo from Verduno

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

DSC046852011 Barolo “Aclivi”, Burlotto

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

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

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

92-93p/100

Paitin estate in Barbaresco 2015: Impressive Barbaresco from an estate with a long history

In May 2015 we spent a beautiful afternoon at the Paitin Estate in Barbaresco, Piedmont, where we met up with the humble and very friendly Silvano Pasquero-Elia as well as tasting a large selection of their wines. Frederik had been here once before and we tasted their pride barbaresco riserva 2001 here. The estate has a very long history dating back to 1798 and is today run by Secondo Pasquero-Elia together with his two sons; Giovanni and Silvano. Actually, Silvano explains, part of the cellar is from the 15th Century. The family exported their first barbaresco in 1893.

Paitin

Silvano Pasquera-Elia showing what high grass and pea plants they grow in every 2nd aisle

During our visit we went into the west-side of the Bricco di Neive vineyard which is situated just below their winery. On the south-west facing side of this vineyard it is very steep at the top and has more or less a constant wind which keeps it rather dry and the grapes fresh. Actually, this helps to keep possible mildew away after heavy rains. However, at the top it is too windy for nebbiolo. They use natural fertilisation which means that they let the aisle between the vines grow wildly with high growing pea plants that also forces the roots of the vines to dig deeper that renders more complexity.

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Every second row with grass and pea plants

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Silvano showing which shoots that they keep

Only every second aisle is treated this way and the next year they switch. They also fertilise with cow manure. The riserva sorì Paitin is made from older vines planted in 1965 from the middle part on the south side of their house. The soil is blue and white containing high levels of calcareous  marls with harder tufa 30 cm below from the Tortonian period, Silvano adds. Silvano explains that all preparations are done before flowering and it is their belief that they render healthier grapes this way and that green harvest afterwards is not the right way and unnatural. They leave a few of the best bunches per plant and during the growth season, the plants suck on the nutrition already in the vineyard. This is what we hear several growers say nowadays that manage to improve quality. It all happens after careful hard work in the vineyards long before the growing season.

On the east side of the house, the soil is quite different. It contains a lot of clay, sand, is loose and is more red-brown-yellow in colour from iron and sulphur when compared to the south-west side of the house rendering a totally different expression with its different micro climate. Here they grow barbera for the Serra bottling and nebbiolo for the Nebbiolo d’Alba labelled Ca Veja.

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The rotor fermentor

Silvano explains their canopy management and that the ratio leaves/bunches is really important too.

In the winery several different methods have been used through the years and the process is adapted to the vintage and grapes. Today they do not use any new oak for the Nebbiolo grapes, but only 1-3 year-old. However, for the Barbera both french- and Slavonian new wood is used except for the Campolive. Modern rotor fermenters for fermentation are still used, but to a lesser extent. The change came as they started consulting Dante Scaglione, the famous enologist from the legendary Bruno Giacosa, in 2008. DSC04232Dante also convinced them to start conducting the traditional submerged caps during fermentation. Silvano says that they now use steel, but he and his brother are considering start using cement for its gentle extraction and slow temperature fluctuations.

The wines we tasted

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The tasting line-up

2014 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Langhe Arneis “Vigna Elisa”

Arneis is a challenging grape to grow and the name actually means little rascal in the Piemontese language. Much of the taste is in the skin of the grape and the wines can be rather sweet, but using the skins adds a lot of aromas as they conduct a secondary maceration. Silvano says that the grape has a relation to nebbiolo michet variety.

Both on the nose and in the taste we find lots of yellow pears, goose berries, ginger and hints of rather sweet exotic fruit. This gives a generous and pleasant impression and it is a wine which is easy to enjoy. The level of acidity is rather low and quite broad with some lemon notes.

83p/100

2014 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia ‘Sori Paitin’ Dolcetto d’Alba

This wine is aged stainless steel but for more complex vintages they use wood.

The wine has very clear cherry notes but also some sweeter notes of candy.

On the palate, the fruit is dominant and fresh but has a slightly sharp notes from red current, but also lingon berries and underbrush.
There are some hints of tannins in the finish but in the end we are left with a fresh acidic impression.

85p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Serra”

The soil on the east side of their house has a lot of clay, sand and is more red-brown-yellow compared to the south-west side, so the soil changes and the exposure is east here too. The grape juice are fermented in rotor fermentors and nowadays aged in second passage barriques for a year.

We are greeted with intense red fruit notes on the nose but also some hints of wood glue and some delicate floral notes.

The palate follow in the same style but more dominated by the fruit notes, dry licorice-root, minerals and dry blood orange. The acidity is really good and rather soft for a barbera. Texture is very smooth with any edges at all and it has precision. Delightful.

89-90p/100

2011 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Campolive”

This wine has been fermented in rotor fermentor and aged for three years in neutral wood.

Very dense, deep, quite intense nose of pure fruit from both black and red berries complemented by some clear oil paint notes, earthy notes and underbrush. Despite the denseness the nose is still very controlled and almost a bit reserved. After a while some ethereal notes and hints of flowers appear along with an aristocratic, delicate perfume lingering.

On the palate there are complex layers of fruit, with everything from blueberries to raspberries, figs, raisins, all clean and ripe. In the background there are hints of barnyard, but it does not get unpleasant. It is persistent, generous and quite elegant too.

The acidity is great, with just enough energy, precision but also a smooth finish.
This is a fantastic wine that shows how good barbera can become in the right hands.

92-93p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbera d’Alba “Campolive”

On the nose, this wine comes off as quite direct and with almost sharp red fruit. Probably because of a young age.

When moving to the palate the balance is great with fantastic pure fruit and a fresh acidity, which stays surprisingly restrained.

Again a fanstastic barbera. Compared with the 2011 this wine has more precision but on the other hand the 2011 had more personality and a more dense expression.

91-92p/100

2012 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Paitin Langhe Nebbiolo “Ca Veja”

Very pure red fruit notes that are rather thin but with very precise fragrance. Raspberries and fragrant flowers dominate, but there are also some hints of almond, crushed stones, wood glue and eucalyptus in the background.

Similar impression on the palate but here it is complemented by some quite sandy, harsh tannins that unfortunately gets slightly dry in the finish. Acidity is fresh wrapping orange peel and grape juice.

The wine has great precision and is fresh with nice fruit, but gets a bit harsh with the tannins.

87-88p/100

2011 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Sori Paitin”

Quite light, but elegant and showing personality with pure, deep vibrant red fruit with a sweet touch, some ethereal notes and lovely rose petals. There are also clear herbal notes; mainly eucalyptus, nutmeg and some white flowers.

Tannins are great with grip but still soft and they complement a rather citric acidity with some balsamic grape notes. Nutmeg, blood orange, sweet blood grape, gravel and exotic flavours.

For perfect balance we would need more fruit notes to balance the acidity and the tannins.
This is an elegant wine with very good potential.

91-92p/100

2010 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Vecchie Vigne Sori Paitin”

Produced from the oldest vines in the middle of the Bricco di Neive vineyard planted in 1965. This vintage had a 45-days extraction (maceration) and is the first vintage without new oak, but second passage.

The nose is very balsamic and offers some great fruit with amazing purity as well as a really elegant, super-fresh perfume of rose petals and grace. There are both strawberries and raspberries to be found on the nose and the palate.

Tannins are rather grippy and sweet and of great quality, never showing any signs of dryness. In the finish the intense fruit and precise acidity dominate. The balance is impressive and texture is velvety.

This wine has a very restrained power to it and therefore manages to be both elegant and generous.

94-95p/100

2004 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco “Vecchie Vigne Sori Paitin”

This vintage had a maceration of 15 days and 20 percent of the wine was aged on barriques.

Very deep nose with notes of oil paint combined with dense fruit. Despite the expressive and generous impression the wine is never over the top.

The palate has much of everything but the different entities stay in good balance. The fruit is complemented with some earthy notes and under vegetation. Acidity is cool and precise and ensures that the wine never gets heavy.

The wine is all about complexity and a well controlled power.

95p/100

 

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Silvano and Andreas

A very good representative of the warm 2011 vintage in Monforte, Barolo

The traditional producer Fratelli Alessandro is a great and honest one from Verduno in the most north-western part of Barolo and a little in the shadow of the better known Burlotto estate. The estate has been in the possession of the Alessandra family since 1870, but the winery dates back to the 1840’s. Here we taste their 2011 Gramolere which is not from Verduno, but Monforte d’Alba close by the more famous Santo Stefano di Perno vineyard. 2001 was the first time they started producing this single-vineyard bottling which is a Burgundy inspired change. However, this wine is from a very high, open and windy place at 425 m above sea-level, but still quite warm micro climate. Actually, Alessandro owns the best middle part with south-west exposition so a very interesting wine indeed. 2011 is a warm vintage so any wind is appreciated.

DSC045942011 Fratelli Alessandro, Barolo Gramolere

Totally transparent, glowingly blood orange with red purple nuances. Beautifully clean colour.

After some hours, the nose, still quite subtle, emerges with balsamically fresh Mediterranean herbs, glycerin, thyme, notes of leather, tar and after an hour there is a lovely perfume with rose petals and lilies. Great complex nose, but not immediately seductive in a good way.

The palate offers a high quality, balsamic acidity and it is generously succulent with overly, jammy sweet, but cool and ripe red fruits coated in fine crystalline minerals. It is pleasantly dominated by small, concentrated wild strawberries, but we also also find mulberries. Other aromas are blood orange, sweet liquorice, cinnamon and fennel. All these goodies are all framed in very smooth, soft and ripe tannins with fine sandy texture, almost velvety without any excessive dryness at all and the wine is very generously rich, pliant without any hardness or edges. Impressive tannin cut, polish and texture.

It is not as dense as expected and rather normal bodied in this warm vintage. Yes, its backside is its much overly sweetness, but not at the expense of a crispy, cool acidity and even though the label says 15% alcohol, this is not disturbing either. Actually, they rendered very ripe tannins by waiting some days here, obviously. A very price-worthy example of barolos representing this vintage well. It is very sensitive to temperature, so make sure to serve it no warmer than 18 ºC (64ºF). Drink now. It will not benefit from more ageing.

93p/100