Last week I attended one of the most exciting wine events of 2013: a complete tasting of Angelo Gaja’s wines, organized by the Romanian importer – Vinimondo. The event took place at Radisson Hotel in Bucharest and was hosted by Mrs Michela Inghese – Gaja Wine Ambassador present in Romania for this special occasion.
Gaja is the most famous Piedmontese producer, an innovator who’s wines grew the reputation of this region to new heights. Five generations of Gaja’s have been producing wines in Langhe hills since 1859, the year Gaja Winery was founded in Barbaresco. Angelo Gaja joined the winery in 1961 and started to introduce the wines to foreign markets. Today Gaja Winery owns approximately 101 ha of vineyards in Barbaresco and Barolo.
In 1994 they acquired Pieve Santa Restituta in Montalcino, their first wine estate in Tuscany. From the 27 ha of vineyards here they produce 3 Brunello’s – two single vineyards Brunello’s: Renina and Sugarille, and starting in 2005 a generic Brunello di Montalcino.
In 1996 Gaja family bought a second propery in Tuscany: Ca’Marcanda located in Bolgheri. The name Ca’Marcanda comes from the Piedmontese dialect and means “house of endless negociations” and refers to the time spent by Angelo trying to convince the former owners to sell the property that was once an olive and fruit orchard with few vineyards. Over 110 ha they grow Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Sangiovese. The wines produced here are Promis, Magari and Ca’Marcanda, the first released vintage was 2000.
Rossj Bass 2009
100% Chardonnay aged for 6-7 months in used barriques. Pale light yellow color. Toasty, intense, apricots, citrus, honey, fresh and interesting nose. Toasty, vanilla, citrus and apricots palate, fresh and balanced. Medium finish, nutty. (91/100)
Ca’Marcanda Promis 2009
55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese, 12 months of aging in used barriques. Served too cold unfortunately, under 10 degrees Celsius so very closed and unappealing. Ruby red dark color. Youthful nose almost feeling undeveloped. (87/100)
Ca’Marcanda Magari 2009
50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% cabernet Franc, aged for 12 months in used barriques. Ruby red, dark. Roasted herbs but very peppery-spicy nose, almost like grilled pepperoni, complex and intense, showing red and black currant, with pronounced Cabernet Franc spiciness and herbal character. Supple, spicy-peppery with red fruit layers and yellow plums, assertive tannins, balanced, with cedar freshness. Medium plus finish, spicy and coffee bean flavors. (91/100)
Sito Moresco 2009
35% Nebbiolo, 35% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 months of aging. Ruby red color. Discreet nose that opens up, very peppery, red roasted paprika, black tea, red fruit: raspberry, strawberry, cedar, leather and tar. Supple, assertive tannins, mild fruitiness, spicy, firm structure with a certain austerity on the palate and signs of green vegetables. Medium finish and drying tannins. (88/100)
Barolo Dagromis 2006
100% Nebbiolo, 12 months aging in barriques followed by 18 months in large oak casks. Fruit harvested from Serralunga d’Alba and La Morra vineyards. Ruby red. Enticing nose, complex, intense and well developed, sweet floral and cherry fruit, dry rose petals, spices: cinnamon and cloves, with green tea leaves freshness. Smooth texture, tar, assertive, round and ripe tannins, with elegant cherry and black tea palate. Medium to long finish with chewy tannins. (91/100)
Gaja’s flagship wine and one of the Italy’s greatest wine. 100% Nebbiolo, 12 months aging in barriques followed by 12 months in large oak casks.
Ruby red, more intense color. Complex and constantly evolving on the nose. It shows warm forest floor, elegant cherry fruit, spicy, floral, dry rose petals, cigar ash, black tea leaves, coffee, but very fresh and intense on the nose. Smooth texture and fine grained tannins that show class, balanced, fresh acidity, with tar and floral palate. Full bodied, monumental structure but so weightless and feather like with a velvety mouth feel, beautiful balance between tannins, richness and acidity. Long finish, chewy tannins, spicy and fresh. Pure elegance. (93-94/100)
94% Nebbiolo and 6% Barbera, fruit comes from Serralunga d’Alba and Barolo, 12 months in barriques followed by 18 months in large oak casks. Labelled just a Langhe Nebbiolo DOC because of the small addition of Barbera.
Saturated ruby red color, more opaque. Very complex and profound nose, well developed, multilayer-ed and constantly evolving with air, it feels like you are submersing in a different world of aromas. Elegant, rich and pure red fruit aromas, red and black cherry, raspberries, spices, rose petals, tar, and later on truffles, smoked red fruit jams, with pine needles freshness. Smooth and full on the palate, massive structure of ripe tannins, very intense flavors but so elegant and pure, velvety mouth-feel, with tar, roses and spicy cherry fruit palate. Long and intense finish, assertive and firm tannins only on the aftertaste but so smooth and classy, with lingering flavors. 14.5% alc (96-97/100)
Later on during the dinner organized at La Brasserie Bistro & Lounge with Michela Inghese we tasted:
92% Nebbiolo and 8% Barbera, 12 months in barriques followed by 18 months in large oak casks. Fruit comes from vineyards of La Morra and Barolo. That’s why a more feminine and floral wine compared to Sperss.
Produced in a very limited quantity. Saturated ruby red color. Another very complex wine with amazing depth and richness of aromas, very pure and elegant. When smelling this wine you just fell in love with its expressive nose that combines red fruity aromas with potpourri, forest floor, undergrowth and cigars box. Every time you smell it, it reveals a different aromatic profile. Very elegant and feminine, full bodied but supple and so well balanced, it has a monumental structure of tannins, rich, but so weightless and easy to be enjoyed. Long finish, fresh, assertive tannins only in the aftertaste, well balanced by rich layers of cherry and spicy red fruit. 14.5% alc (95/100)
There is virtually no chance that after such monumental wines there can be another one that can play on the same league. And yet the host from La Brasserie managed to do it with a 2008 Tenuta di Trinoro.
Dark reg garnet color, almost opaque. This has the Tuscan sun written all over it.
A very intense, profound, rich and well developed nose. Rich blackberry, plums, black currant, new leather, truffles and cinnamon reveal just a small part of this complex and sweet nose. Full bodied and very succulent compared to the last 2 wines, velvety tannins, concentrated and opulent on the palate, this has such depth that you can just try to imagine where this wine will be in 5 or 10 years. Powerful, but yet so elegant and layered wine. Long finish, velvety, lingering flavors of pure blackberry juice, spices and coffee. In spite of its 14% alc this wine feels a bit heavier than the harmonious and weightless textures of Sperss or Conteisa. 14% alc (94/100)
A one of a kind tasting and evening.
All 3 wines have been opened 1 day in advance and sealed back with a vacuum cork.
Luce Brunello din Montalcino 2005
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and expressive nose, sour-sweet on the nose, intense aromas of black cherry preserves, cloves and anise, plums, sweet tobacco, leather and a touch of earth, enough to make it interesting, layered and complex. Fresh and supple in the mouth, assertive tannins but yet smooth texture, tobacco and red cherry palate. Long finish with assertive and drying finish that give freshness and aromatic black tea aftertaste. Structured, layered, with enough flesh and ripe tannins to evolve well. Plenty of life ahead. 14.5% alc (92-93/100)
2006 Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Lamaione
100% Merlot and considered a small Masseto, this wine sells for almost less than half of both Luce and Sugarille and still manages to play in the same league.
Saturated ruby red color. Well developed, open and expressive nose, it grows deeper and layered with aromas of bright red cherry fruit and red cherry jams, mushrooms, sweet tobacco and dry plums. It has the smoothest and velvetiest texture of all 3 wines, ripe, sweet and almost fully integrated tannins compared to Luce, fleshy, round and yet balanced and fresh considering its 15% alc, this is a really impressive and complex expression of Merlot. Juicy blackberry fruit, coffee and dark chocolaty palate. Long finish, this is were tannins are assertive and show their ripeness the best, with black tea and dark chocolate lingering flavors. This has hidden potential to grow more interesting. 15% alc (93-94/100)
2004 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and very expressive now, fresh, minty and sweet nose, it is very floral driven, dominated on the front by fresh black currant buds, violets and hawthorn aromas. It gains depth with aeration and shows amazing purity and definition of red cherry and black cherry fruit, tobacco and earth. Complex and probably the most expressive of all 3 wines. Full body and yet supple and smoothly textured, fully ripe and perfectly rounded tannins, it shows juicy blackberry and macerated black cherry palate. It is in the long finish that tannins are assertive, with black tea leaves and dark chocolate aftertaste. Wine of the tasting without question. 14.5% (94/100)
This year I attended once again the biggest Italian wine fair from Verona – Vinitaly - and for 2 days I had the chance to taste over 180 wines. This time I made a better preparation and tried to visit some of the most reputable producers. I made appointments in advance and I was very glad to see people remembering me from my last visits at the same fair and also from the visits I paid to the some of the wineries 2 years ago.
I was on SUN, on the first day of the fair, for half day and managed to spend the full day on MON tasting wines. My first meeting on MON morning was at Braida’s booth where the lovely Mrs Raffaella Bologna spent 30 minutes with me tasting together all their wines. This was a great way to start the day because Braida makes the best Barbera d’Asti and sparkling Moscato d’Asti. I was already impressed by their older vintages that I tasted in 2011 at their winery. The new wines continue on the same pace.
Just a little bit of information about how the last vintages were:
- 2012 was very hot, they lost 30% of the crop and experienced 45 Celsius degrees in the summer for several days. It was hot and difficult both for the whites and the reds.
- 2011 and 2009 were spectacular vintages, everything regarding the weather was in place at the right time. The reds have a long life ahead.
- 2010 saw a late vegetation in spring, it was a cold year with plenty of rain and considered a so and so vintage.
I tasted all their wines at the fair and could say they did a great job.
Il Fiore 2012 Langhe Bianco DOC Delicate aromas and flavors of citrus fruit with a grapefruit palate and bright acidity. (86/100)
Re di Fiori Riesling 2012 Langhe DOC Pale yellow lemon color. Delicate and elegant nose, bright acidity, clean and mouth watering with a feather like texture and citrus palate. Medium finish with lemon preserves, lemon jam and very good acidity. (87-88/100)
Regina di Fiori Nascetta Langhe DOC Pale yellow-green color, delicate and discreet nose, a bit watery, with citrus and lemon palate. (85/100)
Asso di Fiori Chardonnay 2012 Langhe DOC Medium gold color. A completely different white. Medium plus intense nose, elegant, rich, showing beautiful aromas of honey. Rich on the palate, outstanding medium acidity, lemon jam and apricot flavors, medium finish but so fresh and well balanced. (89-90/100)
Monte Bruna Barbera d’Asti 2011 comes from 12 years old vines. Garnet color, classy nose, medium intense, showing bright red and Morello cherries aromas, chocolate, dark cherry palate. Balanced and fruity. (87-88/100)
The three most famous red Barbera’s are outstanding.
Bricco della Bigotta Barbera d’Asti 2010 Maturated in large Slavonian oak barrels. Deep garnet color. Beautiful, complex and elegant nose, very intense and generous aromas of black cherry, spices, cedar and licorice. Full bodied but supple, with a velvety and weightless texture with ripe but assertive tannins, showing layers of coffee and cocoa under ripe red fruit. Long finish, really balanced and very satisfying. 15.5% alc (91/100)
Bricco dell’Uccelone Barbera d’Asti 2010 Maturated in small new French oak barrels. Deep garnet-purple color. Developed, complex and intense nose, rich aromas of dark cherry, violets, cinnamon, cloves and licorice. Full body, rich palate, initially tannins show a firm grip but getting very smooth as it aerates. This is a big wine but it is so well structured and balanced that manages to be fresh and appealing. Rich and layered flavors or ripe black cherry, licorice and spices on the palate. Long finish with drying tannins at the moment. 16% alc (92/100)
Ai Suma Barbera d’Asti 2010 A late harvest Barbera. Deep garnet-purple color. Deep and developed nose, elegant mix of different layers of truffles, bacon, smoke, huge black cherry, cinnamon, licorice and cedar. Rich and dark chocolatey palate, really balanced, rich and smooth texture, velvety tannins and outstanding acidity that makes the wine weightless in spite of all the richness and the high alcohol. Long and intense finish, fresh, fruity and clean chocolate flavors. This is very special. 16% alc (92-93/100)
It’s impossible not to love the two famous sweet sparkling wines made by Braida: Brachetto d’Acqui 2012 has pure and intense aromas of Bulgarian roses and fresh elder flowers, sweet and fresh palate with 5.5% alc (90/100), while Vigna Senza Nome 2012 plays on the same notes of fresh elder and linden tree flowers, with very pleasant sweetness and a refreshing acidity. 5.5% alc (90-91/100)
Grappa Bricco dell’Uccellone 2009 is surprisingly hiding its 44% alc under the rich layers of vanilla, toffee and dry yellow fruits. A first time for me but so good.
Great way to start the day at the fair.
Episod transmis pe gandul.info in data de 27/03/2013. In acest episod am degustat:
- un vin alb din Franta din Cotes de Provence: 2011 Domaines Ott – Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs.
- un vin rosu din Australia: 2002 Penfold’s St Henri Shiraz.
Duminica am participat ca si guest speaker la Forumul Vinul.ro ce s-a desfasurat la hotel Marshal Garden in perioada 13-14 Aprilie 2013. Alaturi de colegul meu Nicusor Cazan am avut cele 30 de minute de glorie in care am vorbit despre “Cine sunt Bloggerii de vin si vor ei”.
Desi audienta se mai rarise, la sfarsitul prezentarii au fost multe intrebari din partea audientei care a dorit sa afle urmatoarele:
- de ce nu ne tragem de maneca intre noi cand unii sar calul si exagereaza cu comentariile rau intentionate?
- exista un cod de etica care ar trebui respectat de aceasta comunitate ? Aparent audienta nu crede ca exista un astfel de cod urmat de toti bloggerii de vin din Romania.
- eu am semnalat dificultatile pe care le-am intampinat din dorinta de a urma un curs specializat de degustare si faptul ca desi am trimis faxuri de inscriere si am incercat sa contactez membrii din ADAR, de 6-7 luni nu am primit nici un raspuns.
Dl Grigorica a promis ca daca strangem un grup de 10 persoane se va ocupa personal de organizarea acestui curs. Aceasta initiativa vine dupa incidentul neplacut pe care l-am intampinat anul trecut cand am fost invitat alaturi de alti colegi bloggeri de vin de catre Vinul.ro sa fac parte din juriul concursului de vinuri organizat impreuna cu Asociatia Producatorilor de Vin din Dragasani, cand anumiti membrii din aceasta Asociatie s-au impotrivit vehement unei astfel de participari.
De asemenea dl Catalin Paduraru a lansat invitatia de a forma o comisie separata din bloggeri de vin care sa participe la concursul International Wine Contest Bucharest din 23-26 Mai 2013.
Au fost multe intrebari si eu sper ca vor iesi multe lucruri bune de acum din punct de vedere educational si de implicare a acestei comunitati mici de pasionati.
Mai jos este prezentarea noastra.
On April 3rd, 2013 I organized the “Tignanello & Friends” wine dinner with Nicusor. This was quite a line-up as we aimed at including 2 mini verticals of famous wines: Antinori’s Tignanello and Masi’s Serego Alighieri. I uncorked the wines around 18:00 and, luckily, there were no unpleasant surprises with the bottles.
We had two whites, both from Antinori: 2010 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Conte della Vipera and 2009 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala ‘Cervaro della Sala’ both from Umbria.
2010 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Conte della Vipera is 90-95% Sauv Blanc and 5-10% Semillon, fermented and vinified in stainless steel tanks. It started to be produced in 1997 for the first time. The wine has delicate herbal and mineral aromas, but lacks substance on the palate. (86/100)
It took almost 2-3 hours for 2009 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala ‘Cervaro della Sala’ to open up and show its complete aromatic profile. A blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Grechetto, fermented and vinified in oak barrels, then aged for about 8-10 months in the same small oak barrels. Initially it boasts intense aromas of truffles, but after a few hours (and even the next day) the nose shows elegant aromas of toast, butter, walnuts and honey. It is full, round and unctuous on the palate, while the medium(+) finish leaves notes of tropical fruits and walnuts. This was actually better on the second day. (88-89/100)
The purpose of this tasting was to see wines from the most renowned Italian regions and to observe the subtle differences between different vintages for well renowned wines: Tignanello in three vintages – 2004, 2005 and 2008 – and Masi Serego Alligheri 2003 and 2005.
From Piedmont we had wines from Luciano Sandrone and Antinori’s winery – Prunotto. Luciano Sandrone started to make wine in 1978 in his parents garage. His 1978 Barolo produced in a tiny quantity – just 1500 bottles – was purchased entirely by an American wine merchant during 1982 Vinitaly’s fair. Since then the property grew and now consists of 27 ha of vines (75% owned) located in the famous Cannubi Cru and other parts of Barolo. His reputation saw an exponential ascension when his 1989 and 1990 minute quantities Barolo’s received 97/100 and 100/100 points from Robert Parker. He produces Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo d’Alba, and two Barolo’s, employing traditional vinification methods and modern technology.
I chose to serve first the 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore and not his Barbera d’Alba because I felt there is more concentration in Barbera than in the Burgundian character of his Nebbiolo. 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore is a well developed and maturing wine that develops gradually in the glass, showing discreet notes of violets, tobacco, herbs and dry red cherry. Integrated tannins that discreetly mark their presence underneath the wild cherry and spice layers. Medium(+) finish, with hints of drying tannins and sweet red cherry jams. The producer recommended drinking it between 2007-2012, but this is an understatement as the wine has plenty of life left. (91/100)
2005 Luciano Sandrone Barbera d’Alba has a deeper garnet color, a fully developed and intense nose, that was found to be more appealing by the participants. This is probably because 2005 was a cooler year and the wines were recommended for an earlier consumption. There are beautiful aromas of truffles, black cherry and coconut, while the palate is rich and expressive. It feels the wine is more concentrated and modern, while the tannins are fully integrated. The finish is medium long, and leaves juicy red cherry fruit flavors. Another wine that exceeded its life span and can last many more years. This was a big surprise for most participants to see how well this 8 years old Barbera showed. (90/100)
Prunotto is Antinori’s adventure in Barolo. Antinori started to distribute Prunotto’s wines in 1989, and in 1994 they got involved in the vinification process. In 1990 Albiera Antinori bought vines in Agliano (Barbera), Bussia (Barolo) and Calliano (for the study of Albarossa and Syrah). In 1996 they extended the property with 5 ha in Barbaresco (Bric Turot) and 5 ha in Treviso (Muscat). 2008 Prunotto Barolo Antinori is a fairly young Barolo and restrained in aromas. Tar, roses and dried red cherry fruit can be discreetly felt on the nose, while the tannins are smooth considering its age. (88-89/100)
The big moment expected by all the participants finally arrived. All three bottles of Tignanello were uncorked and left to breathe (just like the rest of the wines) in the bottle. We tasted simultaneously all three vintages: 2004, 2005 and 2008, looking to observe their subtle differences.
Tignanello was produced in 1970 for the first time, being the first Sangiovese wine in Tuscany blended with Cabernet. Since 1982 the blend remained unchanged: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
2005 was from the beginning the most expressive and open wine of the three. 2005 Antinori Tignanello is fully developed and intense, surprising the nose with complex and subtle aromas of cedar, peppercorn, leather, dark chocolate and sweet cassis. This is today a beautiful wine, with integrated and soft tannins, rich and well defined flavors of juicy dark cherry and chocolate on the palate, savoury and finishing long and intense. Wine of the night for many. This had the closest profile of the three to a Bordeaux. (93/100)
2004 Antinori Tignanello was closed in the first 2-3 hours. It only started to open up and become expressive after 4 hours and what a fantastic wine it turned out to be. It has a warm and sunny aromatic profile that you meet in all great Tuscan wines. Well developed, complex and youthful on the nose, it combines intense primary aromas of black cherry, cassis and plums, with secondary and tertiary aromas of toast, leather and game. Still tight on the palate, but very ripe and silky tannins, smooth and soft texture, complex layers of flavors and very elegant. Long finish, showing juicy black cherry and chocolate flavors. This at the beginning of a long life, just starting to open up, but already offering great pleasure. It was the wine of the night for me. (94/100)
Compared to its younger brothers, 2008 Antinori Tignanello is an extremely youthful, intense and modern wine. For me this wine lacks the pleasure offered by 2004 and 2005 at the moment however, there are plenty of details that point to the bright future this wine will have in a few years. It does posses the structure, the smoothness and the rich layers of flavors typical to a successful Tignanello, but it feels totally closed today. (92/100)
After such great wines, the two Amarone’s faced a great challenge in front of the participants. I was pleasantly surprised by the balance that both 2003 and 2005 Masi Amarone Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron showed. The differences between the two are so subtle and yet so distinctive. 2003 seems to have more nerve and a richer texture, while 2005 seems to march more on freshness and balance. Both wines show sweet and soft tannins, smooth and velvety structure, while the palate is washed with a mix of dry black berry, black cherry and figs, licorice and hints of minerals. Long finish, elegant wines that really please. 2003 (91-92/100) and 2005 (91/100).
My top in a descending order: 2004 Tignanello, 2005 Tignanello, 2003 Masi Amarone Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron, 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore.
You can watch the video presentation of this tasting in Romanian here: https://fromgrapestowine.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/video-wine-dinner-nr-5-vinuri-italiene-martie-28-2013/
Editia cu nr 5 a seriei de Wine-dinner a acoperit vinurile din Italia. Impreuna cu Matei Garici de la http://www.unvinpezi.ro am facut o prezentare a vinurilor si a modului cum se desfasoara un astfel de eveniment.
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