Oct 5, 2010

2004 Fratelli Revello Barolo Vigna Gattera (from Annunziata di La Morra)

Fratelli Revello's 2004 barolos have proven as some of the most consistent wines for the vintage, this one not disappointing either. Tasted in October 2010, I bought the wine from Cantina Communale di La Morra, the municipal wine cellar in the village of La Morra managed by an association of wine producers selling local wines (www.cantinalamorra.com ). The beauty of the Langhe region are the local municipal tasting cellars where local producers sell and offer their wines for tasting - there is one in each of the most siginificant villages producing barolo wines, in La Morra, Serralunga d'Alba, Castiglione Falletto, and in the village of Barolo itself (as well as in Barbaresco). Only Monforte d'Alba lacks one, however you will find a very good restaurant / wine shop in the center of the village which you should visit.

The 2004 barolos are from an exceptionally good vintage, thus I anticipated a big however still youtful wine worthy of cellaring. And the wine delivered just that.

The wine has a a medium purple / garnet color i.e. still youngish appereance for a wine of 6 years of age, i.e. a color not characteristic of the nebbiolo grape's usually more brownish appearance. However it did have an orange hue - now this is more characteristic for the grape. The nose has beautiful notes of ripe, as well as already dried, black fruits, perfume, musk, plum and tobacco, however no coffee here.

Tannins are rather big however offering good structure and not drying the mouth at all. The palate is full-bodied with ripe black fruit and excellent acidity. The high alcohol burns a little and continues to power itself through the palate. Although the nose did not reveal any coffee, there are cappuccino notes in the long aftertaste which turns into chocolate in the end.

Fratelli Ravello's 2004 barolo certainly introduces to try more wines from the Annunziata area within La Morra! The wine was already very pleasant at 6 years of age, it is a classy and quality example of barolo which will develop nicely for several years as it includes high alcohol, tannin, acidity and fruit content. It would be very pleasant to try this wine in another 6-10 years, however it is already very drinkable. Another prime example from barolo's 2004 vintage. I would rate this one very high, at 93 points out of 100.

Oct 3, 2010

Oddero tasting @ Oddero Estate

Oddero belongs to Barolo's traditional producers and produce a large range of wines. I visited the estate in La Morra with tasting organised in excellent english, with really friendly people welcoming to visit the estate. Thus I would recommend a visit, the estate is located in Fraz. S. Maria 28 - 12064 La Morra (Cn).

As a reflection  from tasting their wines and especially their excellent Barolo Vigna Rionda 2000, I would recommend searching for vintages which are at least 10 years old for barolo. This is due to the fact that the traditional winemaking method puts a lot of tannins into the wine which need to soften and integrate into the wine with time. However it takes patience. For me Barolo Vigna Rionda 2000 was one of the highlights of the trip - year 2000 produced a very good vintage in Barolo and plenty of ripe fruit thus helping the traditional winemakers' balance the wines with the big tannins.

1) Dolcetto d'Alba 2009
From a really good vintage for Dolcetto, a wine of medium ruby colour with light fruit, the acidity is more emphasised here.

2) Langhe Nebbiolo 2007 - Already almost brown with an orange hue, Langhe Nebbiolos are meant for earlier consumption than barolos even though they are made from the same grape variety. Barolo wines command the best grapes and are matured longer in oak while Langhe Nebbiolos are usually made from nebbiolo grapes not grown in the Barolo DOCG area, are declassified barolo cru grapes or grown in vineyards lower in "value"). Perfume of dried red fruit with dark nuances and tobacco. Large tannins so signature of the nebbiolo grape, however lacks the structure of barolos.

3) Barbera d'Asti 2007 "Vinchio" - The sandstone soil of barbera vineyards located on the Asti side have more chalk than those on the Alba side. The wine was matured 12 months in Slavonian oak + 12 months in stainless steel. This single vineyard barbera is from vines 60 years old. It has interesting nose of underbrush, rasperry tea and some leather as well as oak. Nuances of cherry dominate the palate, however fruit missing still.

4) Barolo Classico 2006 (grapes from La Morra & Castiglione Falletto) - The Barolo Classico is intended for combining La Morra's elegance and perfume with Castiglione's more masculine structure. And the nose reveals beautiful perfume of roses so belonging to La Morra as well as dark fruit turning to rasperry so evident of Castiglione. Medium intensive colour of garnet with orange hue.
The fruit is semi-ripe in this one with the tannins overpowering due to young age and traditional winemaking where the wine sees 30 months of oak maturation. The fruit is slightly overtaken by other components, however should develop nicely with age. Aftertaste is long. Good potential here.

5) Barolo "Villero" 2005 (Castiglione Falletto)- A single vineyard barolo from grapes grown in Castiglione Falletto, the wine was first produced in 2004 thus it was only the secod vintage for this particular wine. The same grapes were used in other bottlings of barolo prior to Oddero deciding to craft a single vineyard wine.
A medium colour with an orange hue and fast legs. There is some banana in the nose (like I found in many of Fontanafredda's wines). I think the wine could have more structure to it given that grapes come from Castiglione Falletto, area known for its combination of both structure and finesse, and comparing to other local wines. The nose gives oriental tea and animal notes. Palate is medium to full bodied however not totally in balance as fruit is not ripe here and big, chevy tannins dominate the palate. Following traditionalists, the wine was matured in oak casks which are used for 30-40 years. The large tannins should soften with age, however this one nees a lot of time - maybe the fruit will not measure up even at mature phase.

6) Barolo 2005 Bussia Soprana "Vigna Mondoca" (Monforte d'Alba) - The Bussia vineyard in Monforte d'Alba is where widely know traditionalists such as Aldo Conterno, Prunotto, Fenocchio, and Colla grow some of their most important wines. Compared to the 2005 Villero, the colour of Bussia Soprana had more brownish look mixed with ruby, with an orange hue likewise. Again, the banana is in the nose, however mixed with nice dried fruit, raisins, oriental spices and flower aromas. The palate is again overpowered by tannins, and the 2005s are too young to be drank at this stage (only 5 years old in 2010). Again, the extraction is slighlty less than what some other producers are able to do, however I would anticipate that this develops better than the 2005 Villero.

Finally, I have to say that Oddero's 2000 Barolo Vigna Rionda was very good, and it really is a testimony to the aging potential, as well as need, for this producers' barolos.

Sep 27, 2010

2004 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe

BAROLO_ALBE_2007_4f6102bd5ee9d.pngG.D. Vajra's barolos have a reputation of being good value for money. While staying in Alba, I purchased a bottle from Enoteca Carosso (www.carosso.it) which has an extensive collection of fine Langhe wines as well as some Tuscan wines and lots of grappa to choose from. Vajra's Barolo Albe 2004 was only 29 eur which is cheap for a barolo of a great vintage.

Although being a blend and cheaper than their flagship wine, the single vineyard "Barolo Bricco delle Viole", the Albe is not an entry level barolo. Albe is blended from grapes sourced from three different vineyards near from the town of Barolo. While being a traditional producer using large "bottes" made of Slavonian oak, the purpose of winemaker Giuseppe Vajra was to create a wine which is approachable young, thus he controls the use of oak per hectolitre of wine, thus keeping the wine's freshness and decreasing needed cellar time.

The color of the wine was non-barolo like, with only hints of brownish mixed with ruby, however with an orange hue. The wine developed nose of a typical barolo only after extensive time in glass. Initially it was redcurrants and spices, later turning to coffee and underbrush mixed with the redcurrants.

Extensive acidity, sweet alcohol and tannins nicely integrated giving structure but not drying the mouth. When developing with air, fruitiness increases, so this one needs time to open up. The overall perception is a warm wine which is approachable at 6 years of age and ok value for money. Some ripeness of fruit would be welcome, however decanting will help.

Image from www.carosso.it

Sep 25, 2010

Barolo 2010 harvest blog 1

Now off to Barolo, Piemonte, for wine harvest. 

I was able to land a place for harvest at Azienda Agricola Sukula, owned by a famous Finnish chef couple Jyrki & Riikka Sukula. They own 2 ha of land in Meriame, which is located 2km from Serralunga d'Alba in the Barolo DOCG production area. Their nebbiolo vineyards are old, between 40-65 years, which is very promising for wine production. There is some barbera too which is sold to other producers as the estate concentrates solely for production of barolo. 

The Sukulas have access to excellent wine making facilities as they are good friends of Giorgio Rivetti, owner of La Spinetta, and use La Spinetta's production equipment for their barolo. 

The 2ha's of land owned by the couple is near the average in the Barolo production region, however too small to justify owning the production equipment. Thus the average producers either rent production facilities from larger estates or sell grapes to other producers. In Barbaresco there are also co-operatives (like Produttori del Barbaresco) who pool grapes from large amount of producers. 

Can't wait for the harvest to begin. Nebbiolo is a grape which is harvested usually in very late September or early October, and this year follows the rule. I will be a tourist here in Alba and the nearby villages for a couple of days while waiting for the grapes to reach optimal ripeness. Most of my time I will be circling the wine estates, so more blogs to come from tastings in Piemonte. 

1947 Bourgogno Barbaresco & 1985 Chateau d'Yquem

Helsinki Airport's wine bar should receive a medal of some sorts for the wines they offer for travellers. This time around I had the opportunity to taste the oldest wine I have ever tasted, 1947 Barbaresco from traditional producer Bourgogno, as well as the Chateau d'Yquem's 1985. What a treat.

The Yquem was beginning to reach its drink window at 25 years of age, still being some 5 years shy. These wines are for the very long aging. The wine looked in the glass like liquid golden, intensive colour. Nose was beautiful with exotic fruits and truffle honey, pineapple, with some "green" or herbaceous notes.

The taste was quite astounding, the mouthfeel of a young wine with high acidity, however more mature feeling in the aftertaste. Sweet aromas of pineapple, grapes, roasted almonds in the finish as well as some oxidation feeling. The aftertaste could have been longer, separating this vintage from the better ones. However excellent quality from a challenging year. The 1985 Yquem can be kept for a long time, supported by its really nice acidity.

The 1985 vintage in Sauternes is not listed among the better ones while this vintage is the only Yquem ever made of grapes picked as late as in December - it took very long for noble rot to develop that year. Some of the herbaceous feeling in the nose, which was much less evident in the taste, could be the result of a challenging vintage. Sauternes' 1985 vintage scored 79/100 points in WineSpectator, however they gave 94 points for this vintage of Yquem in 1999. A good effort.

The 1947 Bourgogno Barbaresco was really interesting in finding out how well a 1940s nebbiolo of a famous producer ages and what elements of the wine is still present today. Barbaresco has in some instances been considered the "little brother" to the king of wines and wine of kings, Barolo. However the little brother showed that it can, too, age beautifully, however naturally having a small issue with fruit which was already somewhat dissapeared:

The wine's colour was totally brown with medium intensity. Wonderful nose of coffee liquer, black tea, sweet fruit and cappuccino. Taste was in union with the nose in respect to the coffee liquer and black tea however also introduced Asian exotic spices. It still had brilliant acidity, together with mature wine's liquer-like characteristics. However fruit was already passed away, showing that the wine was well in decline in its life cycle. Tannins could still be felt in the mouth.