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.