Sep 29, 2012

Burgundy Harvest Blog 5 - September 28 - Finally sunshine after all that rain

Finally sunshine after all that rain. It has been a very rainy harvest season in Burgundy. Honestly you could say that we had not seen a cloud which did not rain on us for the last five days until yesterday.bIn Gevrey-Chambertin, it has rained in all of the last five days except today which is a remarkable difference to last years harvest where it rained in only one day.

Only light rain showers yesterday though when we harvested Chambertin-Clos de Beze grand cru. The grapes were good with only limited selection in the vineyards was needed. In each of the grand crus harvested thus far, the quality and health of the grapes is higher than in village appellations, which in addition to the terroir aspect speaks for the higher market price of the products. The raw material is just better. 

However the real story of the day is the quality of Drouhin-Laroze's grapes for the entry level Bourgogne red. The grapes used in the wine were in such good health that people in the winery were astounded with the quality, which rivaled that of grapes from grand cru vineyards. The domaine's 2012 Bourgogne red should be kept in mind when released.

Today it was beautiful sunshine the whole day. Also part of yesterday when Clos de Beze was harvested. Tomorrow we will harvest the last remaining grand cru, Latricieres-Chambertin and the premier cru of Lavaut St. Jacques which is among the coldest premier crus in Gevrey-Chambertin and thus usually harvested among the last vineyards harvested in the appellation, for allowing grapes to mature the longest. 

Tomorrow is the last day of harvest and the harvest-ending party with the team. This years harvest was 10 days. 

Sep 24, 2012

Burgundy Harvest Blog 4 - September 24

Another rainy morning in Gevrey-Chambertin turned into a sunny afternoon. Our work was done before lunch though as we decided to harvest white grapes for domaine's other, negotiant wines.

To recap the harvest thus far, we started with harvesting grand crus in Chambolle-Musigny (Le Musigny, Bonnes Mares) and part of village appellations during the first days. The original plan was to harvest all grand crus first as grapes had matured so well. However the plan was changed to harvest village as rain set in during the third day and forecasts seemed to deliver more rain in the next days. The fourth day was sunny and we harvested premier crus. The fifth, today, was again rainy in the morning so chardonnay was harvested and pressed. The pressing of white grapes cut the capacity of the winery and pickers were given rest if day off as no red grapes could have been processed in the afternoon. Pinot noir is again harvested tomorrow. Grand crus within the Gevrey-Chambertin village area, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Latricieres-Chambertin and Chapelle-Chambertin are still to harvest.

Burgundy Harvest Report 3 - September 23

Welcome to the best upper and lower back training session in the world, grape harvest in Burgundy. Not only do you get in great physical condition working here for 1.5 weeks, you do the exercise in the most outstanding of surroundings, in (or looking over) grand cru vineyards in Cote de Nuits.

On the vineyard you work either as cutter or a carrier. If you are a cutter, your job is to select only good grapes to your 6kg basket, i.e. cutting out the bad ones from the grape bunches to be sent to the winery. Basically you are constantly bending your lower back, kneeling down or sitting in a squat position for 8 hours each day. Needless to say, it is especially strenuous on your lower back.

If you would like to exercise your upper back, then be a carrier. As a carrier, you carry a basket holder on your back which is  specifically designed for this purpose, weighing some 5 kg empty. And your basket is filled every 4 minutes by 4 or 5 cutters, each throwing you 5-6 kilos of grapes (total 23 kg) which you then walk from the vineyard to the road where the tractor waits, i.e. on average 150m. So you either walk with 5 kg or 28 kg on your back for 8 hours a day. I can personally guarantee you this is a much better workout than your average gym workout.

Drouhin-Laroze places great emphasis on gentle handling of grapes at the harvest before destemming. Using only small 23 kg baskets, grapes are not kept under significant weight, i.e. they are not crushed already in the vineyard unlike in larger baskets used by certain other producers. If grapes are placed under too heavy weight and are crushed, there is a risk that yeasts and micribes on top of grape skin begin to react with grape juice, allowing fermentation to begin too early and not in a controlled environment. Intact grapes where grape juice is kept within the skins allows the wine maker to control the process and eliminate unwanted chemical reactions which might lead to unwanted off-flavours in the wine.

No rain after yesterday morning. Grapes were dry and the sun came out in the afternoon after a cloudy morning. We continued with Village wines in the morning while Premier crus were picked in the afternoon. Better quality in the premier crus. Drouhin-Laroze owns vines among Gevrey-Chanbertin's premier cru sites of the Craipillot, Au Closeau, Clos Prieur and Lavaut St. Jacques (most other domains write that Lavaux St, Jacques by the way).

Tomorrow we will collect white grapes for the Drouhin family's daughter Caroline's negotiant wines. It will only be a half day tomorrow, we will work only until lunch.

Sep 22, 2012

Burgundy 2012 harvest blog 2, September 22

Greetings from the very, very muddy Burgundy.

It rained almost whole night and the rain stopped just before start of harvesting in the morning. Thus the day was a very muddy one to say the least, earth getting stuck to the legs of the rain coat clad bunch of pickers today. The rain water on top of grape bunches had not had time to dry before picking, so we decided to continue with village appellations of Morey St. Denis and Gevrey-Chambertin. Part of Gevrey-Chambertin village apellation was harvested also on Thursday, the first harvest day. We will most probably continue harvesting Grand Cru vineyards tomorrow as it has not rained a drop since 7.45 this morning and grapes have enough time to dry before work continues early Sunday morning.

Again today's grapes were in such good condition, healthy bunches which were relatively easy to pick up, with less problems with mildew for pickers than in 2011.

Good early reports from Piemonte, Italy,  too as a friend of mine harvested his barbera grapes simultaneously near Barbaresco and was very happy with the quality of the grapes there.

Early morning yet again tomorrow as the domaine wants to collect as much as possible before the next rains are forecasted to reach the area, which is most likely on Monday. So Monday will be a shorter day for us with half a day off.

Sep 21, 2012

Burgundy harvest 2012 blog 1, September 21

It is a very special time of the year, start of wine harvest in Burgundy. And the Laidbacksommelier is reporting to you from Gevrey-Chambertin again this year.

Gevrey-Chambertin is the northernmost village in Cote d Or which has Grand Cru vineyards, and her wines are widely considered as more masculin, powerful yet elegant compared to most wines in Burgundy. While Chambolle-Musigny might be the queen, Gevrey could be the king.

In Gevrey-Chambertin, harvest started on September 20th in perfect conditions and early reports from the vintage are promising. The few weeks leading to the third week of September were favoutable for grape ripening and Grand Crus are picked at optimum ripeness. Further,  this vintage is characterised by lower yields however with higher grape quality. Last year Grand Crus were harvested the last howeverr this year it is first Granc Cru then the other appellations. In 2011 we had to leave Grand Crus in the vines last  as their grapes were allowed time to fully ripen. This year ripening is not an issue.  

In the morning of September 21st, the sun shined from a clear sky as we harvested Grand Crus of Clos de Vougeot and Bonnes Mares. Musigny was harvested already on September 20th. Grapes in Clos de Vougeot were, like in 2011, very healthy indeed and so easy to pick up, almost none selection of grapes had to be done in the vineyard. You are able to taste a round silkyness from the grapes themselves, it is very exciting to see what the actual wind will be like when released. Domaine Drouhin-Laroze owns 36 rows in the higher part of the Clos de Vougeot grand cru vineyard which is regarded as more prestigious than the lower part of the vineyard. 

After finishing Clos de Vougeot, we headed to Bonnes Mares, the legendary grand cru vineyard which lies on both sides of the border of villages Chambolle-Musigny and Morey St. Denis. The lower part of Bonnes Mares, representing majority of the vineyard,  has significantly smaller size of grspe bunch than usual in Burgundy vineyards, also offering a striking difference to average bunch size in Clos de Vougeot. The upper part of the vineyard includes unhealthy grapes and nearly half of grapes are cut down to preserve quality. 

The above phenomenon implies a meaningful commercial view point to making wine. When grapes are healthy, it is kids' play to perform the harvest. However when grapes are not in perfect condition, it takes considerably more time to do meticulous selection of only good grapes in the vineyard, thus taking more time, labour hours and more qualified grape pickers than on a good year, costing more money. So not only you are able to charge a premium.price from wines of a good vintage, your labour costs are likely to be lower too. 

Time to get a good rest before tomorrows challenges. Rain surprised us during the last half an hour of harvest today, and it has been raining the whole evening so tomorrow will be very wet conditions on the vineyard. 

Peace and out 

From Burgundy with love,

The Laidbacksommelier

Sep 20, 2012

Off to Burgundy for harvest 2012... Texts from Summer Tour of Valpolicella to come... and much more


August and September have been very busy for yours truly, and there is a large backlog of wine blog texts awaiting to be published. Tasting notes from the Valpolicella Tour in summer, Josko Gravner's and Miani's wines, vintage Brunellos, Comte de Vogue white Musigny, Dolcettos and Barolos from 1970-1980s, vintage Bordeaux from 1970s to 1980s, and many others.

And now it will get even busier, as I head to Gevrey Chambertin in Burgundy for 9 days of grape harvest at Domaine Drouhin-Laroze. Another great chance to learn wine making, how to operate a winery and vineyards first-hand. I will certainly try to post texts to my blog from the harvest work.

More to come!

Aug 8, 2012

Kendermanns Grauburgunder Trocken 2011 (Pfalz, Germany) - pretty value for small money

During my trip to Berlin this July I tasted a local wine worth a note when thinking of a reasonable everyday wine with multiple food pairing options.

Kendermanns Grauburgunder Trocken 2011, 12.5% abv, 7.9 g/l residual sugar.

The wine is from the Pfalz region in Germany which is the second largest wine producing area in Germany after Rheinhessen, predominantly a white wine area.

Winemaker Philip Maurer made this grauburgunder (i.e Pinot Gris) a good value wine which in particular could be combined with plenty of dishes. There are cinnamon and apple notes on the nose, mixed with earthy / dusty cellar like notes which however do not disturb at all.

Just enough residual sugar to give a round mouth feel, however balanced by enough acidity for the palate not to feel sweet. Medium bodied. Almost oily composure and nicely balanced albeit feeling of a higher than usual alcohol content. Apple, pear and white pepper on the palate.

Noticeable alcohol gives structure to the wine and is typical of pinot gris / grauburgunder grape which usually ripens fast, leading to higher sugar content and therefore higher potential alcohol content. However here the winemaker has left some residual sugar in the wine and limited alcohol content to increase only to 12.5%. Alcohol is still slightly overpowering when the wine warms up, so drink yours well chilled.

The wine can be used with multiple dishes due to the round feeling, and goes especially well with spicy dishes. Try it with thai food or similar dishes. A nice wine for the price (the bottle cost only some 5-6 euro in Berlin).

P.S.... The finish is, though, quite short initially and slightly flirting with bitterness with only short glass time. However it evolved into a more round wine with more glass time. Some citrus Hubba Bubba (chewing gum) notes emerging after the bottle had been opened for 2 hours.

Jul 10, 2012

2010 Clemensbusch Riesling (Mosel)

Summertime in Berlin. Riesling please! The mind flow of a wine lover captured in two sentences when visiting Germany, with their outstanding quality in Riesling production. I bought this 2010 Riesling from Karstadt at Kurfurstendamm. Another good wine store is the Galeria Kaufhof department store which has a massive wine department of local and foreign wines, a must-visit every time in Berlin.

Clemensbusch Riesling seems to be a one-off among 2010 Rieslings, as it offers subtle fruit with low acidity compared to most local Rieslings from the vintage. The style is more of a balanced ripe fruit style - Rieslings acidity is always there, however this wine lives on other merits than plain crispness - it has style to accompany the acidity. Ripe grapefruit, melon, flower notes and white pepper offered in a smoky style, as well as beautiful minerality on the nose.

Taste is beautifully balanced with ripe grapefruit and minerality which are in working in unison with Rieslings trademark high acidity. The wine is almost oily on the tongue, which is surprising of such a young Riesling and for an entry level product of a wine producer. The oiliness brings a nice component to the wine. Serious wine making here. Constructive criticism on the finish which is quite short.

This wine being only their entry level riesling, it would be interesting to try Clemensbusch's range of wines. Mental note on a to-do.

Jul 2, 2012

2008 Keo Heritage (100% Maratheftiko) from Cyprus - an interesting wine where Bordeaux meets Syrah

From a rare Cypriot indegineous grape Maratheftiko (100%), Keo's Heritage wine is part of a serious effort to re-establish quality wine making in Cyprus.

Keo has been in the forefront of the development to bring back indigenous grapes cultivated on the island since ancient times, of which Maratheftiko is a prime example. As the grape is found only from the areas of Pitsillia and Troodos the scarcity of the grapes leads to a production quantity of only 10,000 bottles.

I consider myself lucky that a friend of mine brought the bottle from Cyprus to show the capability of local wine making. The Heritage 2008 is an interesting wine which combines aromas of a bordeaux blend and a northern Rhone syrah. The 2008's palate is soft, round and almost silky and with nice acidity. Full-bodied with a grip on the mid-palate however with a slightly bitter and short finish. Aged for 3 years in French oak from Limousin, the wine's tannins are nicely integated at the age of 4 years (tasted in July 2012).

A world of aromas. Full of ripe plum as well as mint, tobacco, moccha, hint of blackcurrant leaf, chocolate, dark spices, ink and green pepper, all indications of a classical bordeaux blend of Cabernet franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (in that order, due to noteable green notes). However after longer decanting the aforementioned notes are mixed with pepper, blueberry and leather, all Syrah-like notes.

An impressive wine (albeit the short finish) from a relatively unknown grape. It would be highly interesting to see what other producers are able to do with this grape, as the grape itself shows potential. The wine was recommended to be enjoyed from cabernet / bordeaux glasses, which we experimented to be a good option.

Having previously tasted Vlassides' Cabernet Sauvignon (a surprisingly good wine), I come to think that Cyprus is a hidden gem in particular when considering price to quality ratio. And with only limited area for cultivation of wine, Cyprus might stay under the radar for a while. However based on tasting wines from limited amount of quality producers such as Keo and Vlassides, quality wine making looks promising on the island. I want more of these!

Jun 21, 2012

1960s - 1980s Barolo tasting + 1995 Ferrari Perle

Mature barolo

Having participated in several tastings of mature nebbiolos lately, below is a short description what to expect from nebbiolo turned adult, and the multitude of nuances one can get from wines which have aged beautifully.

Tasting notes are from an interesting line-up of 1960s to 1980s barolos collected from Italy. Mature barolos and other wines made from nebbiolo grape (like Spanna, Carema, Gattinara) offer excellent price to quality ratio. Luckily the price inflation experienced in top bordeaux and burgundy wines has not reached these Piemonte's jewels yet - and wine enthusiasts hope it won't for a while.

The tasting included really well aged wines and 1964 Giovanni Manzone, 1978 Montanello and 1982 Fenocchio stole the show being truly adoreable wines.

1978 Moscone Barolo

Color of a ruby jewel. Loads of sediment in this one, as in other wines in the tasting. Moscone's Barolo 1978 has an austere personality, however the grip from big tannins and acidity in the aftertaste bring you back on earth. A bit oxidized however could be expected from a barolo of this age. Nose has mature nebbiolo trademark burned rubber feeling with cherry tree / black cherry and cranberry notes in an almond liqueur / cherry liquour like package. Notes of black tea in nose which is personally really enticing to find in a wine. A peppery feeling in aftertaste too.

However the wine was not the winner in this tasting as the nicely dried fruit was left behind in intensity to other wines tasted during the evening.

1978 Montanello Barolo (Castiglione Falleto)

The color is amazingly still a youngish medium intensive ruby, however flirting with brownish with an orange hue. The wine is also in other respects youngish, not showing signs of being tired at all. This is a fresher version of mature barolo with really nice acidity. A broad range of aromas in the nose: cinnamon, tea, trademark burned rubber/burned sugar as well as fermented strawberry juice, coffee, licorice and ripe plum. Mouthfeel is fresh from high acidity, pure and balanced on mid-palate turning to cranberry / lingonberry notes in the aftertaste which is strong.

Acidity carries this wine really far in aftertaste. With air the wine develops in the glass where ripe fruit takes a larger role than after only short decanting. A beautiful mature wine!

1982 Fenocchio Barolo (Monforte d'Alba)

Another jewel in the glass. What a wine this turned out to be! Color of a ruby jewel, the wine looks terrific in the decanter. Orange color is taking over bit by bit this wine, obviously from long maturation. From a great vintage. Full-bodied even in nose. The slightly oxidized nose is really interesting with aspargus and dill notes mixed with burned sugar and tar, herb liqueur and licorice - a lot of green notes however in a nice package. On the palate the wine is full bodied with really ripe fruit and sweet alcohol, mocha, chocolate beautiful dried fruit supported by tannins which are integrated and the aftertaste continues and continues. An excellent wine.

1974 Enrico Serafino Barolo

A perverted nose of meat gone bad (like slightly rotten) and plaster, which arise consideration of brettanomyces in this wine. Also slightly oxidized, reminding of a sweet sherry wine as in the nose there were, along with mature nebbiolo's burned sugar, also syrapy sweet fruit and truffles. Full bodied taste which develops on mid-palate into a beautiful and concentrated dried strawberry feeling. Also some orange notes on palate. However the taste does not last long and the wine's acidity is not up to par in this peer group.

It was striking to find these qualities in the wine as according to other tasters a recently tasted Serafino's barolo from late 1960s was in excellent condition and delivered in a big way.

1964 Giovanni Manzone Barolo (Monforte d'Alba)

Giovanni Manzone's 1964 barolo is one of the more aromatic and multidimensional wines in respect of nuances developed from long aging we have had in barolo tastings. There are more barolo tasting notes to be updated in my blog, however this Manzone wine is a really good one, if not great and was a favorite among the tasting crew.

Brick red color with beautiful orange developing in the sides and a watery rim. Loads of sediment. The beautiful mature wine expresses itself in multitude of ways in the nose. The bouquet is like meshing together some oxidised wine (like madeira) with notes of violet, licorice, fried sugar, sweet cranberry, apricot and "toffee & caramel", even some leather. No burned rubber here. Also some tasters noted "plum dessert cream" and "sour orange". Plenty to adore in this one. Further on the palate the wine has a nicely oxidised feeling, like in madeira wines. Dried fig, black tea and cigarbox dominate in the mouth while tannins are big and give structure, however do not attack, not anymore due to the wine being evolved.

1995 Ferrari Perlé (Fratelli Lunelli, Talento Trento D.O.C.)  

Having never tasted Ferrari's sparking wines, the 1995 Perle offered a pleasant surprise as the sparkling wine was suberb. Some say that the wines from the region are closest to Champagne compared to other sparkling wines - Ferrari Perle stood in its own class on its own merits. Made metodo classsico, i.e. champagne method, this Italian jewel has small bubbles and the attack is velvety as acidity is mellow and almost caressing. Toasty, beautiful floral notes supported by fudge / caramel and light apple notes (the wine is 100% chardonnay). Acidity is medium minus at most, however the wine is in balance with the acidity level. "Pina colada".

Jun 8, 2012

1975 Chateau du Tertre (Margaux) - Past its peak however still offers plenty of enjoyment

The 1975 Chateau du Tertre's nose offers such great aromas and promise that it was a pity to find that on the palate the wine had already seen its peak. Most of the fruit of the wine had disappeared and the absence of fruit allowed maturation components (tannin, acidity and alcohol) to dominate the palate. However how much kicks and enjoyment can you get plainly from the bouquet of a wine? Plenty I say if you consider this wine!  Based on the promise of the nose only it would be really interesting to taste the chateau's wines from late 1970s to 1980s where fruit content should still remain. If any reader has a view on the vintages which are still alive, please comment below to this blog. 

How then to describe the beautiful nose? Try to think of espresso, plums, leather, chocolate, basil, herbs, meat and smoke in a slightly oxidized package, that's what you get in du Tertre at 37 years of age. It was extraordinary. Vintage 1975 is not considered a great one, at most average in Margaux. Thus wines from du Tertre older than 1975 could still survive today, however I would recommend enjoying them soon. The 1975 should have been drunk at least 5 years ago. 

The mature color was originally ruby however turned brick red/brown in this stage with lots of orange on the sides of the glass. On the palate the wine is medium bodied and there was still plenty of acidity. The taste is quite linear i.e. follows a direct path, not many layers here. While developing considerably in the glass this is a sensitive expression of mature bordeaux, although quite lean. The wine was surprisingly good with Morbier cheese. A friend of mine bought this bottle for €30 from the Netherlands. 

May 29, 2012

Chateau Musar 2001 - drinking beautifully right now

Ladies and gentlemen,

Image from
announcement on an opening of a drinking window: Chateau Musar 2001 is drinking beautifully right now. The wine has developed really well showing those developed maturation elements which entice you to open any bottles left right now - however the wine has a lot of promise for even longer maturation. And what a price - quality ratio.

What a nose. Rich and matured, full of cherry cola mixed with really ripe plum, in addition to leather and cigarbox (secondary notes from longer maturation), black pepper and some burned rubber -> giving a feeling of a mature 1970s nebbiolo. However Musar is a bordeaux blend from Bekaa Valley in Libanon and from early this millenium.

The wine is in very good balance where big tannins have almost entirely been integrated, the mouthfeel is initially silky however the strong acidity runs over the silky feeling on the mid-palate, leading to a long finish full of dark fruits and nicely mixed with the acidity of the wine. Fruit has not dried yet thus indicating potential for further, even long cellaring. The components are there - sweet alcohol, tannins and fruit content as well as the great acidity. It is a big wine, one I could enjoy almost for the rest of my life (save for some pinot noir and nebbiolo).

I am glad for the fact that I still have some left in my cellar.

May 17, 2012

1990 La Mission Haut Brion, 1998 Ornellaia, 2002 Tassanaia, 1993 Flaccianello della Pieve, 1989 Produttori del Barbaresco

A Wednesday and free from work tomorrow, so why not organize a tasting? Together with other wine enthusiasts, we gathered in a cellar in Helsinki for a treat. First, a mature bordeaux and a prized bordeaux blend from Tuscany, then off to other Italian treats.

1990 La Mission Haut Brion (Graves)

The bottle had been placed upwards and cork removed for some hours now, however the wine was still a bit murky initially. A beautiful medium intensive ruby color which was surprisingly young for a mature wine. And while the wine is already 22 years old, i.e. should be mature, the La Mission is so long-lived that the 1990 had not reached its peak yet, so think carefully if you want to open your bottle. 

Dominated by red fruits, the nose is superb with nuances of ink, minerals, herbs and some leather. The mineral  notes seems to be a trademark for Graves comparing to other bordeaux appellations. With the ink in nose, it gave you a world of blue colors mixed with red fruit should you close your eyes and just feel it. 

However the palate was initially hard and steely, fortunately developing in the glass into a really smooth and velvety wine but not being able to shed all of the steely feeling. A slightly harsh aftertaste too. A problem with the bottle? You really need to decant this wine. Loads of syrapy fruit dominated by blueberries, sweet tannins, a great amount of fruit underlying there, and notes of chocolate and mocha developing after an hour. 

Overall feeling is that it is a beautiful and maybe the most velvety wine I have ever tasted, however the steely and harsh aftertaste was somewhat disappointing. Need to try another bottle of these at some point.

Blend in 1990: 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

1998 Ornellaia (Bolgheri DOC, Tuscany)

Next up, a bordeaux blend from Tuscany, i.e. Supertuscan by Tenuta dell Ornellaia. The 1998 Ornellaia was WineSpectator's Wine of the Year in 2001 (96p). However a mixed review from Wine Advocate which gave it only 91 points. Well, we had to try and taste it ourselves.

The ruby color was more intensive than in La Mission Haut Brion. Nose was intensive with balsamico, sweet black cherries, chocolate and herbs dominating. The mouthfeel was like velvet. So smooth, the sweet cherries linger in your mouth a long time, tannins are present however nicely integrated. Palate follows the nose with licorice in the taste in addition. I will lean more to WineSpectator in this one. So did other tasters.

The blend in 1998 was 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernt Franc.

1993 Flaccianello della Pieve, Fontodi (Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT) 

This is interesting. I have 2001, 2004 and 2006 Flaccianellos in my cellar, however now it is time to taste a mature Flaccianello, a 100% sangiovese IGT from the Chianti region in Tuscany. The result of the tasting: do not even think of opening the 2001-2006 vintages in long time. 
The 1993 Flaccianello was still youthful, altough had matured a bit. A medium intensive color, with some mature brownish mixed with ruby and an orange hue. 

You could really notice olives in nose, which is so prominently Tuscan - just like you are able to notice lavender in many wines coming from Provence, France. Also sangiovese's trademark cherries which had developed into an almost syrapy feeling (although the wine being totally dry red). Got to love that. 

Initially the mouthfeel was tight however opened up within over an hour. Both nose and taste got broader in the glass as time went by, the wine really needs air. 

Loads of ripe fruit underlying there. A lot of acidity too, this is like eating a cherry containing a lot of acidity. Combining these factors, the wine feels at the same time like sweet ripe fruit and totally dry at the same time, the acidity obviously taking away the sweet feeling. Acidity maintains in the mouth really long, actually longer than what fruit is left. 

Could be enjoyed now, however will absolutely get better with more cellaring (give it another 3 years). So enjoy this one at 22-25 years of age. So my 2001, 2004, 2006, see you in 20 years. 

2002 Tassanaia (Toscana IGT)

Due to a very challenging year in 2002, Castello del Terricio did not make its flagship wine, Lupicaia, while the grapes were used in this Tassanaia.

Thus the 2002 Tassanaia could be better than other vintages, albeit poorer growing conditions. The producer achieved 14% abv although the vintage was marred by poor weather. 

Already showing some age in the glass with slightly brownish and medium + intensive garnet color. The nose is full of blueberries, smoke, tobacco, spices and italian herbs. Really tannic too. Needs a lot of time for the abundant tannins to integrate, if they will ever. A really fruity tuscan, with blueberries taking the pole position in mouth accompanied by notes of plums, "cloves and pepper". 

However the aftertaste is short, indicating that fruit was not totally ripe when picking. Blame it on weather. This is a blend of 30% CabSav, 30% Merlot and 40% Sangiovese. 

1989 Produttori del Barbaresco (DOCG Barbaresco)

Medium garnet / almost brownish colour with orange hues, as in mature nebbiolo you would expect.
Some burned rubber in the nose, a trademark for mature nebbiolo too, along with tryffels, almonds, fried chestnuts and black fruit. Some slightly chemical notes there too, which however do not disturb at all.
Tannins are still big and tight in this one, and not nearly enough ripe fruit to balance it out. 13.5% abv. Some peppery feeling in mouth too.

Nose develops into licorice and burned sugar after spending over hour in the glass, increasing the enjoyment of sniffing this mature wine.

Mature Champagne: 1966 Albert Le Brun Cuvee Reserve, 1985 Bollinger Grande Annee

Mature champagnes cannot be missed if you find them. So when the opportunity presented itself yesterday, we came across two nice mature bottles: 1966 Albert Le Brun Reserve and 1985 Bollinger Grande Annee.

When champagne matures it is full of nuances of an extremely full-bodied white wine, as the case is when bubbles are gone. However the long maturation of the wine is very evident and as they are mostly made of grapes grown in very good crus, they offer really interesting experiences. Champagne from the 1980s seem to have evolved to a state now in which you have the mature elements present while still holding some bubbles - a very enticing combination.

1966 Albert Le Brun Cuvee Reserve 

This one had already seen its best times as a sparkling wine, i.e. how champagne is usually enjoyed. However what a beauty in the oxidized-madeira-driven-taste sort of way. 

Color is intensive golden with no bubbles left. Nose is really thick, nicely oxidized (not too much!), fruity and toasty, like fried chestnuts, other tasters commenting "chestnut honey", "damp woolen stocking" and madeira wine. The wine was thick, almost oily in the mouth while having still big acidity. Citron peels, "apricot and sour orange" notes dominating the palate. 

1985 Bollinger Grande Annee 

The Bollinger Grande Annee is the flagship wine of the house, ok R.D. is their most prestigious wine - however where to find a bottle? So let's stick to Grande Annee then. And 1985 Grande Annee was a success still today. 

The 1985 vintage is hailed as a "miracle after Siberian conditions" by Bollinger itself as winter temperatures reached -25 celsius, and although part of the vineyards had to be replanted the surviving crus gave really good fruit. 

Golden yellow color and with really, really small bubbles. Slightly toasted nose, characterized by being full of fruit & sour apple notes, as well as honey, small oxidation component and some "mushrooms" as commented by another taster.

How about the taste? The mouthfeel is that of Big Fruit while being tight, really condensed, with citrus and sour apple notes dominating further backed up by high acidity. When enjoyed straight from bottle without decanting it seems like the taste has like a tight perimeter - like doors waiting to be opened with some air. Acidity dominates the mouth feel while alcohol takes a back seat and does not present itself big here like in a new non-vintage (N.V.), not even when the wine warms in the glass. By the way, 12% abv in this one. When the wine warms up in the glass after some air contact, apple and dark spices come through first, followed by beautiful floral notes. 

The Grande Annee 1985 was like a combination of 1966 Le Brun and a freshly new Bollinger N.V. Beautiful mature champagne. However personally I have to say that 1982 Deutz has a lively edge on its side.

May 11, 2012

Errazuriz tasting with "Caliterra" range wines @ Wennerco

Wennerco organised an Errazuriz tasting in Ruoholahti, Helsinki with Rodrigo Plass from Errazuriz presenting the wines and giving insight into Chilean winemaking as well as the different climat and terroir in Chile. The tasting gave good insight into the Caliterra and Estate wine ranges, targeted for pleasant consumption on every meal or enjoyed in good company.

Caliterra is a new vineyard planted in 1997, and the name comes from blending "calidad", i.e. quality and "terra", i.e. soil into a single word, expression of a quality vineyard in the Colchagua Valley 60 kilometers from the coast and 150 meters above sea level, adjoining the Apalta Valley.

In particular the sangiovese project, single vineyard syrah blend and sauvignon blanc look promising. We tasted young vintages, and although these wines are made for early drinking I would be interested to see how they develop in 5 years.

Caliterra Reserva Chardonnay 2010

Medium lime yellow color, the young wine has slightly toasted aromas while its nose is full of exotic fruits and white pepper. Like citrus mixed with green paprika as evident green and green leaf notes are there mixed with vanillin. Nice and crisp acidity keeps the wine fresh and clean all the while the palate is rather thick - a lot of things going on here, and in a positive sense. The rather long aftertaste has an acidic finish. A very nice companion with plate of seasoned chicken, asparagus and young pees on a plate should you require food with it. 13.5% abv.

Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard 2011

Blackcurrant leafs, vanillin and greasiness on the nose. From a rather cold vintage with low yields. Made predominantly in stainless steel tanks with 2-3% matured in used oak for 2-3 months. The oak maturation gives the wine creaminess and the slightly fatty and vanillin feeling. On the palate a somewhat thicker and almost oily mouth feel not typical for a sauvignon blanc. Alcohol comes a bit through on the mid palate, warming the mouth feel. The finish is long and quite full bodied. The partial oak maturation process brings new elements into the wine, setting apart from typical sauvignon blancs. 13.5%. Enjoy with delicate seafood, the winemaker's suggestion was not with fatty fish.

Errazuriz Estate Reserva Sangiovese 2010

The Estate Reserva is a new project for Errazuriz and the best sangiovese I have had outside of Italy. The cultivation of sangiovese is spreading more and more outside of Italy to cover parts of Australia, California, Romania, Argentina and France. And now to Chile. Worth a try then.
Young purple color. The wine's aromas shoot out of the glass as they are plenty with fleshy cherry, licorice and ink in a thick expression. They used 50% French and 50% American oak for maturation.  full-bodied wine's fruit is quite sweet. Ink mixed with cherry fruit and good acidity. Again, alcohol a bit higher than rest of the components. Big tannins however not drying the mouth as you would expect from a young and quite tannic wine. The finish is a little harsh too.
According to Rodrigo, the wine will not mature like a sangiovese in Tuscany, however it would be interesting to taste this wine in 5 years as I have no doubt that the wine will develop nicely within the time period. 14.5% abv.

Errazuriz Estate Reserva Syrah 2010

Mostly syrah (95%) however some cabernet sauvignon (5%) in the mix. Really, really dark purple color. Maturation for 7 months in used oak which was 50% French, 50% American. The aromas go darker in this one compared to earlier wines.  Quite sweet fruit and meaty / game feeling, the nose opens up beautifully. The wine is concentrated however not really full bodied with a quite lean mid-palate, with black cherry dominating. More southern Rhone than northern Rhone should you look for a benchmark, however in a new world package. The finish is long yet a little harsh.

Caliterra Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Cabernet sauvignon is the flagship grape of Chile. Given the above wines, it is really interesting to see what Errazuriz does with CabSav in this range, as their most well known and world renowned wines are predominantly cabernet wines.
Fresh blackcurrant leaf, cocoa, chocolate and even hints of leather, in such a young wine. All good indications! Medium+ intensive purple. Again, alcohol is a bit too evident, which makes it a pattern in this tasting. Cassis, eucalyptus and mint mixed with blackcurrants. It is evident that the best grapes go to the Icon wines as the taste is a bit dry and straightforward. However in my tasting notes I wrote that the wine will develop for sure for some years as the fruit will develop into a dry liqueur like feeling, very much anticipated by yours truly in mature wines.

Caliterra Tributo Single Vineyard Syrah 2010

We find ripe cherry and plum fruit with black pepper, truffles and leather. The single vineyard syrah blend shows promise at a young age and is suitable for medium long cellaring. Juicy dark fruit with multilayered expression, fresh basil developing in the aftertaste. Matured 14 months and made of 86% syrah, 8% malbec, 4% merlot and 2% cabernet sauvignon. The grape mix gives character to the wine. Again, I did note the alcohol coming through a bit too much.  

Mar 23, 2012

1982 Chateau Palmer (Margaux), 1986 Lynch-Bages (Pauillac), 1992 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 (Ribera del Duero), 1994 Mas la Plana (Penedes)

1982 Chateau Palmer
From the extraordinary vintage 1982, Palmer is riding a wave of hedonistic enjoyment at 30 years of age. It is a beautiful wine in all respects.

The wine has transformed to a beautiful garnet colour, medium intensive and slightly turning to brownish on the rim. Sweet plum, violets, toasty/honey and resin notes in the nose. It is full of ripe plum taste (from 42% merlot) and toastiness along with perfume and also showing the really nice developed notions of black tea and spices so evident in some of the well matured bordeaux wines. Really round and silky in the mouth, nice sweet developed tannins. Also some of the nutty / toasted nuts feeling in taste, which I also got from an 1988 Palmer earlier - a trademark of the Chateau it seems. Multidimensional, the initial palate is so full of ripe fruit, then turning to the black tea and liquer-like moutfheel, the aftertaste being unbelievably long. Although not really loved by Mr. Broadbent in his books, I really enjoyed this beautiful wine.

1986 Chateau Lynch-Bages
The '86 Lynch-Bages was seemingly more brownish than the 1982 Palmer, however the garnet colour was more (medium +) intensive. Led pencil, coffee and blackcurrant and slightly green notes in the initially somewhat lean nose. Round with nice acidity, the mouthfeel has ripe cherry (!) and plum fruit as well as vanillin, the mid-palate is though dry then the sweet fruit comes broad and long in the aftertaste. Tannins still dry your mouth somewhat. This is a lean yet somewhat ripe expression of Lynch Bages. Has aged really well.

1992 Vega Sicilia Valbuena No.5 Cosecha
Garnet colour, more brownish than 1982 Palmer or 1986 Lynch-Bages, with a watery rim. This is loaded with really sweet & ripe black fruit feeling (although naturally being a totally dry red wine), leather, barnyard and black tea notes, with a beautiful rasperry, spicy plum, black tea, vanillin. moccha and animalic notes on the tongue - this is like tons of ripe & spicy plums filled in a horse's leather saddle bag. Tannins fully integrated and really good acidity. Great lenght, developing to toasted nuts / raisins notes. A great wine!

1994 Mas la Plana
The Torres' cabernet sauvignon experiment in Penedes had aged well, showing a perfumed nose with herbal and green notes. The colour is still purple. Ripe fruit content has concentrated to a nice, sweet and slightly toasted blackcurrant elixir, with some animal sweat mixed with it. However tannins are still gripping and the wine seems like being oaked too much. Still an enjoyable wine though. Nice to see the potential in Mas la Plana, however little less oak and this would have been wonderful.

Mar 17, 2012

Loimer Grüner Veltliner Terrassen 2006


Loimer's Grüner Veltliner 2006 shows some nice oak maturation effects and already some age as the wine has developed to being multi-layered. The white wine has almost a sweet mouthfeel (although being a dry white) with a fruity touch in a perfumed and spicy package with citrus, dark spices and grass, like freshly mowed grass, included. The palate gives you the grassy feeling along with ripe, sugared orange and pineapple notes as well as some animal sweat. And really nice acidity.

According to importer, 1/3 of the grapes are aged in oak (from vineyards in Käferberg ja Spiegel) while 2/3 spends in steel tanks to keep the wine's natural freshness (from vineyards Loiserberg, Seeberg, Eichelber and Kogelberg). A very nice dry white, go get yours for 25 euros in the nearest Alko. This is not a paid commercial - none of my blog texts are - however the wine is worth trying.

The picture is from

Feb 26, 2012

Mouton Rothschild vertical 1983,-85,-87,-88,-89,-90,-96 + Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990

A vertical tasting of seven vintages of Mouton Rothschild, one of the five First growths in Bordeaux. This Pauillac estate's wines are sought after and it was a priviledge to take part in tasting of the wines.

General reflections about the Mouton Rothschild wines and Mouton's style: 
- The acidity of the wines was surprisingly high while tannins are more robust than silky, however really well integrated. Both of these are indication of long life expectancy for the Chateaux's wines.
- Beautiful fruitiness with red berries and mocha dominating in the good vintages, barnyard and leather in mature vintages, however the trademark taste of cabernet sauvignon on the left bank of Bordeaux, blackcurrant, is usually replaced by notes of  blueberries, redcurrants, cranberries and even lingonberry.
- Big extraction and long aftertaste. However no notable change in viscosity even in the older vintages, i.e. the wines keep their freshness, however for wine enthusiasts who would like to see their wines "dry" into a liqueur like elixir, you have to go older than 1983 which was the oldest vintage here.
- The wines hold up really well when opened, i.e. do not fade in the glass and are not sensitive as such.

Mouton Rothschild 1983

The palest color of them all, which is not surprising since this was the oldest of the bottles. Like mahogany, a garnet color of medium(- ) intensity with some brownish in the mix, and an orange hue.
Really beautiful nose of tobaccco, leather and loads of fruit which has dried nicely, and with some ripe plum.
Red berries on the palate, both acidity and alcohol are on a medium+ level however not disturbing the balance of the wine as fruit is so ripe, all indications of a big wine with a fleshy and broad mouth feel. Interestingly, due to the excessive acidity cranberries (!) dominate the palate, with dark spices and licorice.

The fruit had to be very ripe in this vintage indicated by very ripe fruit in the nose and high alcohol in the mouth feel. I rated this better than 1985.

Mouton Rothschild 1985

The 1985 was a more straightforward wine than the 1983, being more fruity however also leaner. A medium-intensive ruby color. Mocha and dark chocolate on the nose with leather and barnyard notes, I wrote to my tasting notes "like having red berries crushed & fermented inside a leather saddlebag". The warm vintage is reflected in a more toasty feeling. Even more ripe red fruit than in the 1983, taste of red currants and cigar box, with lively acidity with bigger tannins than in 1983. However some green notes also, like stalks. Evolves in the glass by red berries turning gradually to black.

Mouton Rothschild 1987

Vintage 1987 was not a great year for Mouton. More orange in the color than in any of the wines. Nose is quite straightforward however with a liqueur like feeling. Nose gives you red fruit and blackcurrant leaves, licorice, herbs and green stalk notes, no mocha here. Nose improves in the glass to a more ripe red fruit and apricot with time.  However the wine is not a lush one compared to its siblings. On the palate it is closed, tight and one-dimensional, with the nuances of the nose not coming through in the taste, and compared to nose the fruit is more of a mix of red and black fruit.

Mouton Rothschild 1988

This is a big and bold however also refined wine, which is still slightly one-dimensional. The color is more intensive ruby than in 1983 or 1985, however medium to medium+ ruby. A lush nose of fruits and mocha, leather and dark spices and some green paprika notes. Fruit driven style full of blackcurrants and redcurrants, no leather here. Ripe cranberry and redcurrant in the taste with coffee, chocolate and smoky aromas, however the wine is like in a silo - can only go one way. Great acidity which is balanced, i.e. does not attack from the glass.

Mouton Rothschild 1989

The Darth Vader of the vertical as the wine is so full of dark spices and really ripe black fruit, mainly plums.

A medium ruby color shows slightly matured elements. The nose is full of really interesting aromas - in addition to strawberry and blueberry, also "amaretto" almond liqueur, lilac, and leather. Other tasters also noted some "oil painting" and "gasoline" notes. Seems like a really well balanced wine.
The taste is full of ripe plums mixed with pepper and other dark spices, however the finish is surprisingly acid and tannic. A really long aftertaste.

Mouton Rothschild 1990

It is remarkable how many Bordeaux wines from 1990 are so fleshy and meaty. The vintage was superb, and the meaty and toasted aromas developed as trademark for the vintage.

Similar color as in 1989. However the nose of Mouton 1990 is totally different to any of the other wines in the vertical tasting. The fleshy and toasty nose is full of smoked meat and dark chocolate while being interconnected with really ripe fruit.

The balance of the wine is best of the vertical. The style of the wine is of beautiful dried lingonberries, ripe strawberries and plum. The acidity is big however best balanced of them all. Overall the structure of the wine is beautiful. Alcohol comes through a bit, i.e. not being in perfect harmony with the other components of the wine (fruit, acidity, tannins). The overall perception of the wine was that the 1990 Mouton was really good however not aging as well as others, the wine would be at peak in about five years (2017).

Mouton Rothschild 1996

The 1996 Mouton was opened too young being only 16 years old. The great bordeaux wines should be aged well beyond 16 years to be enjoyed at their prime, however it was interesting to see how the development from "young" (16 years old) to more mature (29 years old) happened in the vertical tasting.

The darkest color of vertical. Closed nose, blackberries and black fruit, mocha. The wine is nicely structured however still a bit one-dimensional and tight - this one needs time. Semi-ripe fruit fading on the mid-palate. Large acidity again. Really long aftertaste indicating that extraction was big in 1996.

Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 (St. Julien)

After the Mouton tasting we headed to Chez Dominique's wine bar for a Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 to reflect on the Mouton tasting. And what a great wine it was!

The 1990 Ducru-Beaucaillou had matured nicely and showed the same meaty and toasty aromas as in 1990 Mouton. Medium intensive ruby color with an orange hue. Maraschino cherries, toasty, meat, mocha, chocolate, espresso, cedar, cigar and spices, with a some barnyard note. Cedar was expected of a St.Julien, however the multidimensional feeling of the wine was really enticing.

Ahhh, the taste. A full-bodied yet feminine style, the wine was in perfect balance. Absolutely great ripe red and black fruit dominated by redcurrants, charred meat, ink and black cherries. A lot of fruit there to "dry up", however not quite yet i.e. most of fruit is still fresh. It would be really interesting to taste this one when the fruit dries more, a positive in mature wines.The wine has decades in front of it so hopefully I will find opportunities. On a critical note, tannins are not totally integrated and the finish is a bit short.

Feb 22, 2012

2001 Gerard Chavy & Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatiéres

The first time I tasted a Puligny-Montrachet from Gerard Chavy & Fils was in 2010 at Selfridges' wine bar in London. A great taste, really nice white which made me look at their bottles in local wineshops. Oddly, the Puligny-Montrachet they served at Selfridges did not have any vintage marking on it, and the sommelier there was as astounded as I was on how is it possible not to give a vintage on the label however still indicate it is a Puligny-Montrachet, given the strict French wine laws? The wine was already slightly developed, possibly a 2003-2005. Very smooth and gave the feeling of just vanishing from your tongue, a truly great feeling, one of the better chardonnays to come my way.

The 2001 is a developed wine however already seen its best. Beautiful medium intensive golden colour, the nose gives vanilla from oak maturation, slightly parfumed and dark spices which have been thrown to a basket made of fresh wood and full of very ripe citrus fruit and apricot. The palate is almost thick and oily, oak dominating, however thin on fruit. You should drink it now.

Feb 14, 2012

2000 & 2001 Solaia, 1978 Barbeto Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constance, Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (NV)

Another Mange Sud Wine Monday. Another great start to the week. Two vintages of Solaia, a 1978 Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constantia (the surprise of the tasting) and Taittinger champagne. How could this go wrong? It couldn't.

Mange Sud (Tehtaankatu 34, Helsinki) offers fine and mature wines by glass since opening for mondays a month ago. Anyone living in, or visiting, Helsinki should consider going to this restaurant if they love wines.

The main reason for this trip was to taste two vintages of Solaia side-by-side. Solaia is what some call the uncrowned king of the supertuscan wines, with 75% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc and 20% sangiovese in both wines. They had opened the bottles 4,5 hours before, optimising the taste of wine for customers (they really know their stuff in this restaurant).

Ah, the wines:

2000 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Surprising purple colour, however this is slightly more mature looking than the 2001, 2000 having a slight orange hue while 2001 is more purple and slightly darker.  A beautiful nose of mature sweet black cherries and cherry liqueur with blackcurrant juice, dark berries, tobacco, musk, aristocratic oak. Also some greenish spices/paprika.

Remarkably well balanced. Beautiful, really well approachable at this age (11.5 years). The soft and sweet tannin structure of Solaia really sets it ahead of most wines claiming to be "super" coming from Tuscany, tannins being beautifully integrated, not drying the mouthfeel. Full bodied, love sangiovese's cherry notes mixed with cabernet's blackcurrant on the palate. Blackcurrant jam, mocha, with medium alcohol (13.5% abv). Pleasant, slightly toasted aftertaste is is long, however longer in 2001 than in 2000. The story of the wine is how everything is there, all the components, in nice balance. It is ready to drink, however can be kept - however should be drank earlier than 2001.

2001 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Wow. Purple colour, much younger and slightly deeper than in 2000. Sign for being younger, however how about the characteristics? Intensive nose of ink, trademark sweet and ripe black cherries,  blackcurrant jam and mocha, in a bigger, darker package than the 2000. Definately a bigger wine than vintage 2000 - the difference in vintages really shows. And it shows really well on the palate.

Dark berries, sweet dark cherry, some leather, tannins really well integrated. Again really well balanced, and although already really well approachable, the 2001 is still developing and could be drank much later than the previous vintage. Both 2001 and 2000 were matured in new French oak (Alliers, Troncais). The long aftertaste is also a little toasted like in 2000.

How did they manage to produce such a wine - beautifully balanced and approachable at this stage, yet having massive potential for cellaring and improving (really good fruit and tannin structure, medium+ acidity, alcohol 13.5% abv)? This is serious winemaking. Either with nice a steak or for meditation only. With my grilled steak, the wine was almost overpowering, such a full-bodied taste.

1999 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia Estate (South Africa)
The surprise of the tasting. Originally a wine of kings, consumed by Napoleon, the French court, the English court, Bismarck, and written about by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen in their novels, the Vin de Constance all but dissapeared between 19th and 20th century due to phylloxera, the dreaded disease which also wiped almost all of Europe's vineyards. I am glad they continued to produce this great dessert wine in the early 1980s.

This one is like a really good sauternes however with a darker feeling to it. Acidity is excellent here, like trademark from top sauternes, however this one was made of Muscat de Frontignan in South Africa. Like sauternes, the Vin de Constance should be kept 20-30+ years before opening.

A brownish red colour, almost resin red with orange, watery hue. Thick in the glass, slow legs.
Plenty of pineapple, resin, strawberry juice, mandarin notes with dark christmas spices and thick honey, almost reminiscent of a d'Yquem nose with a darker feeling to it.

Luscious sweet, great acidity which really makes this one stand out and be comparable to great dessert wines, taste follows the nose with the pineapple, strawberry, however has also a really nice dried&sugared citrus fruit taste, and slightly nutty and really long aftertaste. This 1999 will develop beautifully, however can be consumed right now.

Producer indicates 160g/l sugar content. Only some 12-13% alcohol. Maturation of 18 months in french oak. They tell this is the only wine from outside of France accepted to museum of wine in France.

Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (Non-Vintage) - coming soon

1978 Barbeto Madeira  - coming soon

Feb 2, 2012

Tasting @ Villa Ruusuniemi

The first tasting I organised in 2012 was in Villa Ruusuniemi in Helsinki. The villa is an old Metso Plc. (share ticker MEO1V) corporate villa, now privately owned by investors and the restauranteur, and with impressive sauna, swimming pool, congress and restaurant facilities.

I organised a tasting for my fellow colleagues most of whom had never participated in an actual wine tasting. The aim was to have five different grapes for tasting, and mix old world vs. new world as well as include classical French based grapes grown in the new world. And it was a great pleasure to find that the venue had Riedel wine glasses for tastings - the owner / restauranteur told they organise very high class wine tastings at the Villa where dozens of thousands of euros could be consumed during one event. I am waiting for my invitation...

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Malborough, New Zealand) 

A lot of passionfruit and exotic fruits in this one with nice acidity, the nose is full of aromas. It is great to find a wine with such crips acidity in the same package with a lot of fruit - however the alcohol content is somewhat over-the-top (at 14% abv) and thus a little less alcohol and this would have been in perfect balance. The wine was selected Wine of the Year 2010 in the most important wine fair in Finland obviously due to its fruitiness and structure. And the price €12,95 certainly does not hurt.

Bouchard Aine & Fills - Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 'Les Prieurés' 2009 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy) 

Citrus fruit with toasted oak and buttery mouthfeel, however the oak dominates here while acidity and fruit should both have been higher. Seems a bit overoaked in my opinion, the wine was matured 8 months in oak. Maybe holding the wine for a longer time in steel tanks could have helped the acidity to remain there. Vintage 2009 is great in Burgundy, however the fruit component is not great in this one.

Antonin Rodet - Château de Mercey Maranges 1er Cru Les Clos Roussots 2008 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy)

 A premier cru pinot noir from an area not generally well-known, the vineyard is in the most southern-part of Cote de Beaune. This wine's fruit was not up to par with the oak, while acidity was pleasant. Seems like the challenging year 2008 did not produce ripe enough grapes for this one, or extraction in vinemaking was not enough. It had red berries and cherry notes in the palate, a medium bodied pinot. The wine spent 18 months in oak barriques, maybe less could have resulted in a more balanced wine?

Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Coonawarra, South Australia)

The Alcira Vinerard is located in Australia's prime cabernet country, Coonawarra, which soil type matches the soils found in some of Europe's premier cabernet vineyards. The full-bodied 2007 was already somewhat developed and ready-to-drink (although could still be stored), nice eucalyptus and mint mixed with cabernet's blackcurrant and chocolate. The nose is really intensive, and aftertaste lingers in the mouth for a long time. Great extraction from grapes to bottle and oak is present, however does not dominate which is good. This one was the favorite wine of the group. For €19.82 it is value for money.

Chateau de Malle 2005  (Sauternes 2eme Cru) 

The dessert wine had plenty of apricot and honey notes as well as nice acidity which really improves the taste - the wine was not perceived as "sweet" by tasters as other sweet wines in general. The trick with Sauternes wines is in general that their acidity gives them an edge as the more acidity there is the less sugar tastes in the wine. Round and thick, it was beautiful in the glass and tasted like sweet apricot jam. Nice.

Jan 31, 2012

2001 Baron de Ley Gran Reserva (Rioja)

Quickly - name how many mature wines can you find in your local Alko wine shop for 23 Eur or less? Indeed, not many, and they are mostly Spanish Grand Reservas. And here is a treat, a 2001 Baron de Ley Gran Reserva, made of grapes grown in a good vintage, however with surprising resemblance to a semi-mature wine from another, more famous wine area...

A friend of mine tipped that the wine gives you the impression of a a left bank bordeaux - what, say that again? Oh just try it. The nose gives you leather, cedar, ripe plum, strawberry, spices and barnyard notes, evolving to even coca-cola after long decanting. The cedar notes would place this one up in the north in Saint Estephe, however the plum is more of a merlot character (which also cultivated on the left bank, however cabernet sauvignon dominates there), and the barnyard is trademark of tempranillo. After all, it is a tempranillo-meets-bordeaux style of wine.

Ok, a tempranillo from a good vintage, thus opulent fruit was the expectation. And the wine delivers just that, the palate is full of sweet fruit (cherry) mixed with cedar as well as vanillin, obviously from the long barrel maturation. A long, pleasant aftertaste which turns to dried raisins and cherry after long decanting. With plenty of structure, this one is completely in balance and should age well for at least the next 10 years. Full bodied however with integrated tannins. Be patient with this one after opening the bottle, a long decanting will reward you.

Jan 30, 2012

2007 Fratelli Giacosa Barbaresco (Neive)

Alko's new product list has a very interesting entry this mid-January - a barbaresco for EUR 16.70 (!!!) which is the price you would pay locally in the Langhe Region for a bottle, not in Finland with high alcohol taxes. And it was significantly cheaper than Alko's other barbarescos -  thus a wine I could not wait to buy and test.

What to expect from a barbaresco with such a low price tag? Given that the local price has to be significantly cheaper than Alko's, which includes also shipping, taxes and profit margin attached to it. You would think that it is really cheap back at home. 

Well, the wine is just that, it is noticeable barbaresco with a youthful feeling (vintage 2007, thus drank too young), with really beautiful light ruby colour. The nose is aromatic with the initial black cherry evolving to sweet black cherry, perfume and chocolate after 2hrs of decanting. With the usual high tannins, notes of black cherry in palate which evolves to dried herbs mixed with semi-sweet plum after decanting. However the dominating effect is that of tannin and alcohol with a slightly bitter but long aftertaste.

You get what you see - no surprise here, a young barbaresco however for the price you get actually ok/good value if you like nebbiolo and are not intimidated by some harshness in the aftertaste and have time for long decanting. In terms of fruitiness, I was left for wanting more. You really need to be patient with this wine.

By the way, nice strawberry aromas after long decating. 

Jan 27, 2012

2000 Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs, 2001 Chateau Grillet, 2007 Tignanello, 1997 Chateau d'Yquem

Great way to start the week at restaurant Mange Sud which started Wine Mondays evening tonight.

2000 Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blanc (Champagne)
Pale yellow with very small nice bubbles, this is a surprisingly perfumed champagne, on the nose like a basket of fresh fruits and flowers mixed together, with notes of citrus (100% chardonnay), toasted bread, lavender, nuts and cantaloupe melon in there.

The mouthfeel is really soft however crisp at the same time, and a pleasant, mellow mousse. Citrus like straight from a fresh fruit. Nuts and grapefruit there too. The nose gives you much, however this is more full-bodied than what the nose indicates. Actually surprisingly full-bodied. A very good champagne.

2001 Chateau Grillet (Northern Rhone)
A pale citrus colour, the colour was more pale than that of the Taittinger champagne tasted before. The nose is strangely musty, like a detergent - could it be the glass? Also the nose is faint. When changing the glass, nice aromas of dried orange and pear. It has to be the glass.

This is thick and round, a full-bodied white with an oily taste so typical of the Viognier grape. Surprisingly lot of acidity. Not really a match with my smokes duck breast, apple, nuts, celery remouade. Notes of pear and ripe cantaloupe melon on the palate. It left a slightly sour taste in the mouth, not from a good vintage and alcohol comes through a bit. This one is dissapointing, however the glass could have an impact, since the last drops of the wine were significantly better after changing to another glass. They had opened the bottle 5 hours before I tasted it.

2007 Tignanello, Antinori (Toscana IGT)
A ruby/purple medium+ intensive colour, youthful appereance. Big and bold. Blackcurrant and black fruits, ink, vanilla, oak and charred meat, and leather. Decanted 1.5 hours before tasting.

It is big and raicy, with a dense, powerful and peppery mouthfeel. Layered and turning into spiciness in the end. Big cherry and black fruit, tannic however not overly, will develop very nicely albeit a little short in acidity compared to its peers. Looong aftertaste, a result of great extraction in winemaking and good grapes. A good one.

1997 Chateau d'Yquem (Sauternes)
Nice to able to taste the world's best know dessert wine from a good vintage by the glass. This one has an intensive golden colour however is youthful in other attributes. Nose of apricot, melon, dried grapefruit, like a beautiful vanilla tart with grapefruits in it. The taste is really thick, however its beautiful acidity in combination with the luscious sweetness makes it so pleasant and sets apart from most of rivals in Sauternes. It is like drinking liquid gold. Perfectly in balance while being young, thus could be drank now however should be kept until 20+ years to enjoy to the full. Like on the nose, grapefruit on the palate as well as crisp green young fruit.

1999 Chateau Phelan Segur (Saint Estephe)

Phelan Segur 1999 at 13 years old was nicely matured and intensive. When opening the bottle, the room was immediately filled with the sweet and spicy aromas of plum, rasperry, cigarbox, mint, leather spices and musk.

Intensive ruby colour. The mouthfeel does not have the same sweet & spicy feeling, it is in a sense much "drier" than what the nose indicated, starting as soft and round, however developing into a dense one with significant structure and backbone, leading to a very long aftertaste. This is dense, matured, with pencil, ink and pure black fruit dominating. Really full-bodied, there are plenty of tannins however they are integrated. Some green/vegetal notes on the palate in the aftertaste, from Cabernet Franc (which also gives body) and not-so-ripe Cabernet Sauvignon presumably. For the long storage, at 13 years old it could still be kept for 10+ years. The beautiful nose with plenty of aromas gave large promise however the mouthfeel was more one-dimensional.

It was made of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44.5% Merlot, 7.5% Cabernet Franc. The larger than usual Merlot content certainly attributes to the plum feeling - it seems that Merlot was more ripe than cabernet in 1999 and thus it's share in the Grand Vin is higher, while during other years 1997-2001 Cabernet Sauvignon dominated representing 55-62% share of the Grand Vin.

Jan 23, 2012

2000 Smith Woodhouse Late Vintage Port

Vintage 2000 was excellent for port wines, and it shows in this Smith Woodhouse LBV's big exctraction of black cherry, strawberry and blueberry jam, this one is round and thick - almost a jam-like port. Dense cherry, coffee, chocolate and oak in the nose. Alcohol comes through in the palate, which is remarkable because the sweet fruit appears so big - alcohol is almost too strong, i.e. it is not in harmony. Not a finesse port, more power than finesse here. This wine could be stored for a long time although LBVs are made for earlier drinking than vintage ports.

Jan 16, 2012

2000 Ceretto Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapo (Serralunga d'Alba)

Finally I opened a Bricco Rocche Prapo 2000 which I had purchased a couple of years ago to accompany some really nice 350gr entrecote steaks on a Saturday night at home.

 The "Prapo" vineyard is located on the southern slopes of Serralunga d'Alba area in Barolo where Ceretto has planted 2.4 hectares since 1972, thus promising a more masculine version of barolo wines. And the promise was delivered in a package with some nicely developed fruit. The wine's large tannins craved for red meat. After decanting for nearly 2 hours, the sweet fruit of plum, cherry and fig notes was beautifully accompanied by notes of coffee, chocolate and vanillin, the latter obviously from extensive oak aging.

And oak aging is the tale of this wine - the wine was matured for as long as 30 months in 300 litre barrels. Ceretto's winemaking style seems to put a lot of maturation elements into the wine (alchohol, tannins, acidity), thus placing a requirement for ripe fruit to level with the maturation elements. Fortunately, this wine's fruit was ripe and survived the requirements. Tannins were somewhat high initially and were not fully integrated at this stage of maturation, thus dried mouth straight after opening. However they improved with long decanting.