Archive for April, 2010

Visiting Crama Stirbey

April 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Tomorrow, the 1st of May, I will attend a big celebration at Crama Stirbey as I received an invitation from their winemaker, Oliver Bauer. They are celebrating 6 years from the rebirth of Crama Stirbey .

(in the picture winemaker Oliver Bauer)

I am very excited about it and looking forward to re taste their wines. I have also received a promise to try again Feteasca Regala Genius Loci 2006 and 2007 as a comparative tasting. The Genius Loci 2007 is bottled but the winemaker chose to wait at least 6 months time before putting it for sell. He confessed that he did learn from his mistake in the past when he started selling Genius Loci 2006 too early. Now the 2006 has evolved into a complex and beautiful white wine. Last year when I tasted the 2007 while still in the barrel I found the wine more concentrated, richer and focused than the already excellent 2006. So I believe 2007 will be a big white wine.

If things will be similar to last year I will probably have the chance to participate to a vertical tasting as well.

Stay tuned as I will write a full review of the tomorrow’s event.

Thanks for reading…

Categories: Romania

Visiting a classic: Dom Perignon Vintage 2000

April 28, 2010 24 comments

As you probably know by now, if you read my blog and About me section, I am trading on the international stock markets. Greece was downgraded by Standard and Poor agency to junk – meaning that investment in this country is seen extremely risky. Portugal was also downgraded yesterday by the same agency. This affected the international markets as a high magnitude earthquake creating pressure on investors to sale and so markets dropped significantly. Yesterday was an awful day for some and an extraordinary day for others. I was in the second category.

So as I said, I had an amazing day at the office. Therefore I felt compelled to celebrate and what better moment could I find to open a big classic like Dom Perignon Vintage 2000 on a TUE evening. I started with a regular Moet&Chandon Brut Imperial just to warm up.

Moet&Chandon Brut Imperial

The color is clear pale yellow. The nose is subtle: floral with citrus notes, lime, hints of butter. Palate is delicate, well-balanced, a medium-bodied Champagne with nice fruit and toasted flavors. This wine is supple on the palate. Good sparkling but not great. Price level 30€. I cannot recommend you to buy it as you can find better entry level sparklings probably for less money. Plus it is my conviction that Moet Chandon is a little bit over rated.

Dom Perignon Vintage 2000

It’s a mug’s game to chart the maturing pattern and eventual ranking of any vintage of Dom Perignon too early in its life. DP shows its full splendor only after a period of 15 or 20 years, due to deliberately reductive wine making and the intricate blending from top-flight vineyards. Not as famous as 1998 vintage, the 2000 is nevertheless an impressive wine.

I am not a fan of sparkling wines but I fancy a good one from time to time. This was a treat.

The wine has a clear gold color. The bubbles are very smooth. The nose is initially closed but with aeration it evolves towards citrus notes, honey flavors, brioche, yellow apples, white flowers and walnut. The overall nose is fresh and vibrant showing great complexity. In the mouth the wine is clean and creamy on the palate with very nice mineral flavors, hints of apple, vanilla flavors, yellow fruit, a little bit buttery with very pleasant acidity. The finish is dry, long and as time passed the wine just got better. What impressed me at this wine is its perfect balance, how easy to drink and smooth it is. The best sparkling I had so far. Excellent wine.

As much as I loved it, due to its premium price, I wouldn’t recommend you to break your piggy bank and spend the money on it. This is more for special occasions than anything else.

Thanks for reading…

Categories: France

Nachbil Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Lorca Fantasia Torrontes 2008

April 26, 2010 4 comments

I love a quiet SUNDAY morning with hot coffee and without the rush of reaching the office by a fixed hour, usually very early. I like to spend quality time with my better half planning the new refurbishment of the house and trying to figure out how to find a good and reliable working team for that. I think that is as easy and possible as finding a free parking place in Piata Romana at noon: it is really about one’s luck. This SUN we invited over our friends Crina and Catalin for a group cooking session. The menu was very simple and easy to make: grilled chicken stuffed with orange, asparagus and mash potatoes. I am sharing the menu with you  not because is something fancy, but to give you an idea of why I chose the  wines we had: a white Torrontes from Argentina and a red Romanian Cabernet Sauvignon.

Torrontes became the emblematic white wine of Argentina. I believe Argentina is the only country to produce it and therefore it is considered a wholly Argentine variety. One variety that is inexpensive and delivers great pleasure.

Lorca Fantasia Torrontes 2008

This bottle of wine was 8€. The bottle represents the entry level from Mauricio Lorca bodega. He is chief winemaker at Enrique Foster and formerly of Chilean-owned giant Finca La Celia, Catena, and Luigi Bosca. He creates his own wines using grapes from high-altitude vineyards in Vistaflores, Uco Valley.

This wine has a clear medium lemon color. The nose is clean, youthful, with medium intensity of peach, flowers and orange citrus fruit. It has a beautiful structure on the palate, a very pleasant acidity, lots of fruit and floral flavors, mangoes, rose petals, plenty of body for a wine with such delicate aromas and flavors. The wine is quite dry even if it leaves the impression of some sweetness on the finish. Good.

I read a very interesting article this morning published by Financial wrote by the famous Jancis Robinson on Hungarian wines. It seems that “Hungarians are so proud of their viticultural heritage that they are prepared to pay high prices for their best and/or most famous wines, which tends to make them seem overpriced outside Hungary. The same phenomenon curbs exports of the new generation of much-improved wines from countries such as Greece, Turkey, Israel and Mexico – and even makes the top wines of Spain difficult to sell abroad.”. Full article here.

I believe the same applies to Romanian producers and their wines. It is the case for the red wine we had from Nachbil as our second choice. I tasted several wines from this producer last year: Shiraz 2003, a nice complex wine, Chardonnay 2003 very similar to a good Chablis from Burgundy. Shiraz 2004 and 2005 were big disappointments with very light aromas and pretty much no aftertaste.

Nachbil Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

The wine has a pale clear red color. I decanted this wine for about 1 h. The nose reveals aromas of red cherries, smoke and tobacco. Unfortunately they are overpowered by alcohol. In the mouth the wine has a light to medium body, medium acidity, showing discreet notes of blackcurrant, violets and black cherry. The wine finishes with light aromas of blackcurrant and some slight bitterness in a short aftertaste.  I find this wine poor and overpriced,considering the 60 RON price. For the same price Hyperion 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is a serious competitor.

Dear reader,  I’ll finish my post leaving you with a question. If you can spare a few moments of your browsing time please write a comment, you don’t need to use professional words, and share your experience:

–          Have you had Torrontes so far and how did you like it ?

Thanks for reading…

Categories: Argentina, Romania

Vinarte: 2004 Soare, Aniversare 2006 and Prince Matei 2006

April 23, 2010 16 comments

I attended THU evening, April 22nd, a tasting of three wines from Vinarte organized by La Chambre . For those of you not familiar with this name, La Chambre is a wine store in the Dorobanti area with a great selection of wines from South of France – Languedoc and South of Rhone- and many other Romanian and New World wines.

The shop had a representative of Vinarte present for the event, but unfortunately he did not provide too much information about the products tasted. It’s true we came later than the starting hour of the tasting, my group of four persons, so we probably missed the presentation of the wines. I just had to read the back label myself for information about the wines or the producer.

Prince Matei 2006 Merlot – did not leave a strong impression. The wine has a ruby red color with some discreet dark notes. The nose shows some black fruits, mint with the oak nicely integrated. The wine spent 12 months in oak and another 12 months in bottle before being released on the market. In the mouth the wine is medium body, showing some fruit, different black berries and spices. The wine finishes with a certain astringency in a short aftertaste.

Aniversare Merlot 2006 – The wine has a very nice dark red with purple hues color. Among the wines I tasted so far, generally speaking, some had a tight nose and not revealing anything but then exploding in the mouth with a nice aftertaste, others having a big and complex nose and quickly disappearing in the mouth. Aniversare is just like the latter. The wine has a killer nose. After smelling this wine you are getting ready for a serious ride. The nose reveals notes of plums, chocolate, Indian spices, cocoa, blackberries and a balanced note of integrated oak (the wine spent 12 months in oak). In the mouth the wine is medium body, showing integrated oak, black fruits, blackberries, chocolate but disappears on the mid palate. The wine is hollow exactly when you are expecting it to balance that amazing nose. The aftertaste is short to medium. I was really disappointed that in the mouth the wine could not deliver the same complexity as in the nose. I believe it is already the third time I have this wine this year and each time I tasted I got exactly the same impression of the wine vanishing on the mid palate. Good but not great.

Castel Soare 2004 – Just like the other two wines, Soare spent 12 months in oak. The producer doesn’t mention what kind of oak they used for aging on none of the three bottles. The wine has a dull red color with some slight notes of oxidation. The nose reveals blackcurrant with hints of green vegetables, leather and a very nicely integrated oak. In the mouth the wine is light to medium body showing blackcurrant, cedar, violets and leather. The wine has a short to medium aftertaste finishing without any astringency which I really liked. It is a good but not great wine. One of the girls present at the tasting confessed that she usually expects more from a Cabernet Sauvignon of this level and frankly, I agree with her.

As a conclusion on the wines: I was surprised how different the two Merlot’s were. I don’t know if these two wines are produced from grapes harvested from the same area or different as both wines are aged for the same 12 months period in oak. The gentleman present for the event from Vinarte did not explain this.

The WOTN (wine of the night) for most of the people present at the tasting was Aniversare Merlot. For me, that would be the wine I would buy from Vinarte. The question that remains for VINARTE is where did the art for making wine go?

Thanks for reading…

Categories: Romania

Meeting the Man behind Enira wines

April 21, 2010 7 comments

I am an optimist. I believe that any apparent misfortune hides an opportunity or something that will be revealed to us at a later date even if for the moment the situation may appear bleak.

I am very sorry for all the people that got stuck in airports around the world, not knowing when they will return to their homes and see their loved ones and I do hope that things are coming back to normal as soon as possible. One of this people that suffered from the traffic jam was also the winemaker from Enira, Marc Dworkin.

I had some conversations with Marc via email and social networks but never had the chance to meet him in person. So TUE, on the 20th of April, as Marc got stuck initially in Timisoara for 3 days and returned to Bucharest by car, we finally managed to arrange a meeting for lunch. We met in a nice restaurant in the Dorobanti area and I had the chance to find out very interesting things about Enira wines, the people in the wine business, how small this world is and also a little bit about Marc Dworkin, the person.

First of all, it is important to know that Marc was mentored by Mr Michel Rolland, in my opinion, the most famous flying winemaker ever. They started to work together in 1989 and their collaboration lasted until 2003 when Marc started on his own. He is speaking with respect about his mentor and friend. I believe, even it wasn’t discussed at the table, that there is a competition in Bulgaria where the student is looking to surpass the mentor, as Mr Rolland is also consulting for a vineyard there. What surprised me was how Bulgaria has two world known and famous winemakers producing International wines and in Romania the awards for the best wines still go to sweet wines, as if we are caught in a Catch 22 story. There is also a funny story about the first arrival of Mr Rolland in Bulgaria. It seems that as soon as he landed at the airport for the very first time, even before he got the chance to pick up his baggage, he had an envelope waiting for him with a business proposal to consult for a Bulgarian vineyard. It seems that it was one of those offers you cannot refuse as he is now consulting for the vineyard there.

Marc spoke about his work at Enira and also about other ventures he consults for. At Enira the 2006 wines are already showing a great potential for what Bessa Valley can offer: both Enira and Enira Reserva 2006 are good wines. Because the vines are very young, in 2006 they produced wines with a very high level of alcohol.Initially over 15.3%, they lowered the alcohol levels so the wines can remain balanced. The wines still have 14.5% and 14.7% alc for Enira and Enira Reserva but this is very nicely balanced. In 2007 as the vines managed to go deeper into the soil they didn’t have the high alcohol problem anymore, the wines achieving 14.3-14.5% alcohol levels naturally. The Reserva 2007  is still kept in concrete vats after spending 15 months in 30% new oak and should be bottled in June. I asked Marc which vintage he considers to be the best produced so far at Enira and he replied that 2009 and especially the Syrah 2009 that has “an amazing color and concentration”. He is very confident about the new venture started in Romania at Aliman and considers that as long as you have a strict discipline in the vineyard, technology (using a server based system that enables him to monitor the temperature and density from the tanks via Internet; he is looking to install this system for all their wineries) and the terroir is good, you have the recipe for successful International wines. We, the consumers, can only wait and hope he is right.

Marc is currently involved in a project in China. Great River Hill winery has been established with Laixi city with initial plantings of 16 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon last spring and will be supplemented by a further 84 ha of other varieties while a winery is built. The main partner is Dr Karl-Heinz Hauptmann, co-owner of Bessa Valley in Bulgaria with Stephan von Niepperg of Chateau Canon la Gaffelière in St-Émilion, with practical expertise from Marc. Marc has also a participation in this joint venture. The first wines are expected in 2012. Marc is extremely bullish on the Chinese market as he confessed that this will assure his retirement. This should give us an idea about the potential of this new market.

During our lunch conversation he told me a little bit about his family and how he balances his private life. He travels over 200 days per year. His wife is working for Domaine Clarence Dillon and she is also a winemaker, blending some of the mid-priced wine Bordeaux brand Clarendelle, something similar to Mouton Cadet. Domaine Clarence Dillon owns Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion.

We tasted together two wines: Enira 2006 and Planeta Syrah 2005. I found Enira to be a better and more complex wine.

I am very glad I had the chance to meet Marc. I am sure we will meet again with other occasions as he confessed he likes to participate at tastings together with people from local media and wine lovers.

Marc left me explaining that he already missed four days of vacation with his family and after the 8th of May he will be traveling between Europe and China. I guess being an International winemaker is not only milk and honey.

Categories: People in wine bus

2006 Chateauneuf du pape Cuvee la Pointe

April 20, 2010 7 comments

I am a big fan of Chateauneuf du pape wines. I like these wines because they are not insanely priced and they offer tremendous quality. This area has a particular place in French wine history, because it was here that the very concept of Appellation Controlee was founded. There have been some exceptional vintages in Chateauneuf du Pape with many wines receiving 100 points from Robert Parker Jr, more wines in an appellation than many other regions in France. Parker was actually the biggest promoter of this area from the Rhone valley and many consider that both the man and the area grew famous together. I know that Mr Parker seems to be the roots of all evil today, but when it comes to Chateauneuf he was right the whole nine yards. Recently a gentleman from Netherlands has dedicated time and great effort, and produced the most comprehensive encyclopedia of the whole Chateauneuf du pape region describing the wines, the people and everything that is to know about it. The author’s name is Mr Harry Karis and the book is called “The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book”.

Coming back to the wines and quoting Mr Karis: 2004 produced wines that are drinking very well now, the closed 2005s need 6h prior decanting, the flamboyant 2007s are closing now and 2006s are very enjoyable with a couple of hours of decanting. Many say that Chateauneuf wines are to be drunk only after at least 5 years from their release, but these wines can last for decades.

The bottle I had, even though not coming from a famous producer from the area, delivered great pleasure on a quiet SUN lunch at home.

The 2006 Cuvee la Pointe Chateauneuf du Pape made by Domaine des Florets is a big and fat wine. I drank this wine over two days.

The 1st day the wine showed more fruit. The wine has an oily appearance, leaving a lot of legs on the side after swirling the wine in the glass. These normally suggest either high alcoholic content or residual sugar. In the glass the wine shows the first: 14.5% alcohol, very common for these Grenache based wines. The color is deep, almost opaque dark red. The nose is clean, with a medium plus intensity, developing red fruit aromas: sour cherries, almost jammy, raspberries, a discreet dairy note, meaty flavors, earth and a hint of tobacco. In the mouth this wine is BIG, showing red fruits: sour cherries syrup, raspberries and strawberries, dried fruits: fig, spices: black pepper and eau de vie, with high acidity that perfectly balances the high alcohol and the firm tannins.. The aftertaste is long, finishing with red fruits flavors.

The 2nd day the wine evolved nicely towards strong flavors of black olives, truffles and even game on the nose, no longer the fruits from yesterday. I love this nose. The wine maintains its long aftertaste finishing with black olives and dark chocolate with a very discreet sweet note. I was surprised how beautiful this amazing wine evolved over these 2 days.

This was an excellent bottle of red Chateauneuf du pape wine. Price was around 30-35 €.

Serve this wine with big food and make sure to decant at least 1-2h before serving.

Thanks for reading…

Categories: France

2003 Chateau Lange-Reglat Sauternes and 2007 Monte Velho Herdade do Esporao

April 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Sauternes AC lies on the west bank of the Garonne, upstream from Graves in Bordeaux. The appellation is only given for sweet white wines; if the wine is dry, it has the right to no higher appellation than Bordeaux AC.

2003 Château Lange-Reglat Sauternes

The wine has a clear deep amber color. The nose is clean, medium intensity, with mineral aromas and stone fruits. In the mouth the wine is creamy, lusciously sweet, has medium acidity, full body, with fruit notes: apricot and peach, vanilla, honey and caramel.  The aftertaste is medium plus. This wine needs more acidity to balance the sweetness. It is a decent wine that can be paired with foie gras and blue cheese.

2007 Monte Velho Herdade do Esporao

I tasted previously the Esporao Reserva 2006 which is the top cuvee from this producer and for 15 € it was a nice bottle of wine. The 2007 Monte Velho was a real disappointment. The wine has a medium red color and is watery like. The nose is dominated by alcohol. Even after 1h in the glass, alcohol was still dominating the nose. There are some red fruits far in the background. In the mouth the wine reveals some discreet red fruits aromas and again more alcohol. I don’t think this wine has any after taste; the only thing leaving behind is the alcohol. A real disappointment.

Thanks for reading…

Categories: Bordeaux, Portugal

2007 Trapiche Single Vineyard, 2006 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir and three Romanian whites

April 17, 2010 1 comment

After a busy week at work I had a lovely FRI dinner with our friends Calin, Anne, Razvan and my better half, Andreea. Food was very good, company amazing and the wines pretty decent. We had 2 red wines and 3 whites. Here they are:

2007 Trapiche Malbec Single Vineyard Vina Fausto Orellana de Escobar

As I wrote in an older post dedicated to another one of the three 2007 Single Vineyard bottles, each year Trapiche chooses the three best producers of Malbec of the vintage and releases them in a special wooden case with large and heavy bottle format. I already had the chance to taste Vina Adolfo Ahumada 2007 and I didn’t like it, as it had too much oak and had a very short aftertaste. The Fausto Orellana de Escobar is a totally different story. This Vina was included in 2005 Trapiche SV selection and I remember the wine having all the ingredients of an excellent bottle of Malbec. The 2007, even though is young, already impresses. The wine has a red purple color. The nose has strong mineral characters: graphite and ink., floral with violets and also black pepper. There is a very discreet hint of oak, but it just gives the wine more complexity. In the mouth the wine is concentrated with full body,  sour cherries, blackberries and blackcurrant, has a nice acidity to balance the 14.5% alc and again a very nice hint of oak that balances all these components in a harmonious way.  The aftertaste is medium plus. One thing that is disturbing about this wine is a hint of heat you can feel on the back end. I think that in 8-12 months the alcohol will integrate well creating an excellent bottle of Malbec.

2006 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the Noble red grape of Burgundy, capable of ripening in a cooler climate, which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot will not reliably do. It is unpredictable and difficult both to grow and to vinify, but results in some of the finest reds in the world. Pinot Noir has found its next best place to grow and provide excellent wines in Oregon, in USA.

Our 2006 Drouhin Pinot Noir was decanted for 1 h and drank over 1h. I have to confess the wine showed better after 2 h. The color was a medium ruby red. The nose was initially dominated by red fruits: black and red cherries,raspberries all covered by a nice lactic note and by alcohol. As the wine was breathing in the decanter more flavors emerged: mushrooms, spices, herbs; the sensation of alcohol vanished after 2 h. In the mouth the wine was medium plus body, nice acidity, good structure, flavors of raspberry, black cherry, a bit of earth. Finish is delicate, medium plus, with red fruit notes and a nice tannic structure. The aftertaste changed also with time towards spices and earth. Again some heat was present on the back end. I think this wine should be decanted for at least 2-3 h before poured in the glass or give it some years in the cellar to let it balance the 14.5% alcohol it has.

Poesie di Raffaello Cuvee Blanc

A blend of 4  grapes if I am not mistaking. The wine has a clear lemon green color. The nose is full of floral notes. In the mouth the wine is off dry, light body, has a high acidity with bright fruits and floral notes. The aftertaste is short. I liked the high acidity of the wine but I did not like the notes in the aftertaste.

2007 Origini Tamaioasa Romaneasca Budureasa semi sweet

Color was clear lemon. Nose full of peaches and white flowers(shock). In the mouth the wine has nice acidity that doesn’t make the wine flabby, nice body, peaches and more flowers. The aftertaste is short-medium.  Good wine for dessert.

Livia Sarba Cotesti

Color lemon green, watery-white intensity. Nose is floral with mineral notes. Good acidity, youthfull, floral, off dry, light body, short finish. Not a fan of this wine.

Thanks for reading...

Categories: Argentina, Romania, USA

2007 Laroche Chablis Premier Cru

April 15, 2010 1 comment

In Chablis the soil has an important effect on the wine. In the best sites it is limestone overlaid with a layer of Kimmeridgean clay, which is very rich in marine fossils. Originally, for a vineyard to qualify for the appellation Chablis it had to lie on this soil.  Recently, however, the appellation has been extended to vineyards on similar Portlandian clay. That’s why Chablis wines are best served together with sea fruits (especially oysters) or fish as the wines maintained some of the marine fossils character. Forty(40) vineyards have the right to Chablis Premier Cru AC. Among the best-known names are Montee de Tonnerre, Vaillons and Fourchaume.

I had this 2007 Laroche Chablis 1er Cru with some fish cooked in aluminum foil. Take the fish, you can take any kind of fish as long as it is whole and not cut into pieces, stuff it with slices of carrots, some onion, garlic, some red or green bell-pepper, add salt and freshly crushed  pepper. Put the stuffed fish in an aluminum foil spray some olive oil, close the foil so the steam cannot get out while cooking and cook in the oven for about 40-45 min. You’ll have a nice and easy meal.

2007 Laroche Chablis 1er Cru

The wine has a clear, pale, lemon color. The nose is clean, youthful with lemon citrus and mineral aromas. In the mouth the wine is off dry, light-medium body, delicate, medium acidity, ripe apples, lemon but also some floral notes, well balanced with a fresh finish. The aftertaste is short to medium.

It is a decent Chablis 1er Cru but my impression was that the wine is uni-dimensional, lacking some complexity I found in other 1er Cru’s from Chablis. For 20 EUR I paid for it in a Duty free, this is an expensive bottle of average Chablis 1er Cru.

Categories: France

Weingut KNOLL – Loibner Riesling Smaragd 2008

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

I hate Mondays. It doesn’t matter how much we party and we don’t sleep or if we rest for the whole weekend. Every MON morning is tough to wake up at 7:30am. The rest of the day I usually act like a zombie. Yesterday was no difference. Perhaps with more work than usual.

So going home after 7:30pm was a relief. Just to feel better I decided to eat something light and easy to cook. So here it is: green salad with shrimp, goat cheese and olives. It is a very light dish and you don’t spend more than 10-15 mins cooking it. Wash the shrimps and keep only the tales. Mix black balsamic vinegar with honey and put the shrimps there for 1-2 mins. Put the shrimps on some sticks and BBQ them on any device you may have at home. Make sure to wash from time to time the shrimps with some of that sauce. Cook til they get a crust. The rest is simple: green salad, olives: I had some olives left from our last trip to Greece from 2009, but try to use the red ones you can find in the store as they have more flavors, some green or red onion, freshly crushed pepper, goat cheese(it can also be any other salty cheese you have) and salt if necessary.  Put the cooked shrimps on top of it, add olive oil and that’s it. You got yourself a very fresh and tasty salad. If you have followed the proper steps you should end up with something like this:

The wine that I had was a nice bottle of Riesling from Wachau, a region close to Wien, in Austria:  Weingut KNOLL – Loibner Riesling Smaragd 2008. Knoll is one the best producers of Riesling and Gruner Veltliner in the Wachau region. Austria is famous for its white wines made of Riesling and Gruner Veltliner grapes. This was a dry Riesling.

The “Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus” has three categories, all for dry wines: Steinfeder (‘Stone feather’) maximum 11.5% alcohol, mostly for local quaffing; Federspiel (named after a falconry device) – 11.5% to 12.5% alcohol, roughly equivalent to Kabinett; Smaragd (named after an ’emerald’ lizard that lives in the vineyards) – minimum 12.5% alcohol, with a maximum 9g/litre residual sugar, some of the best dry whites in Austria. My bottle, good homework before buying is mandatory, was a Smaragd. Some members of the wine community think that Riesling is not only the best white wine, but also the best wine, period. There is even an International Riesling Foundation, with worldwide membership.

The wine has a strong yellow color and from the get go you can see that the wine has a serious concentration as it slowly comes down from the walls after spinning the glass. The nose is not a bomb but shows discreet mineral notes, honey, herbs and a hint of spice. In the mouth the whine is nicely balanced with high acidity which I like, mineral, tropical fruits, some type of oil character, citrus and apples. The aftertaste was nice some 10-15 s. A wine that went very well with the salad and the honey-balsamic vinegar mix from the shrimps.

If only the rest of the week would go as smooth as my last night meal. We can at least hope, can’t we ?

Categories: Austria

Two Romanian Cab’s: Hyperion 2006 and Crama Oprisor 2008

April 12, 2010 2 comments

The weekend started already on a good note after the Tignanello ’05 on FRI evening so SAT it continued with a nice BBQ in the courtyard with our close friends Crina and Catalin. We cooked a very interesting Greek improved Romanian dish that I highly recommend you to try it yourself. We learnt this recipe from some good friends,  a Greek-Romanian couple. Get any kind of “mici” meat, shape them, squizz the juice of a few lemons just to have all of them covered by lemon juice, add some oregano spice in the juice as well and for a greater flavor squizz 1 or 2 more limes. Keep this mix of meat and lemon juice in the fridge for 1h30 to 2 h and then BBQ. Add some tzatziki salad when you serve the “mici” on top of it. You’ll love it.

We had three wines with the meal: a 2008 Alsace Pinot Noir Gustave Lorentz Reserve, a 2006 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2008 Crama Oprisor Cabernet Sauvignon.

2008 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Noir Reserve: color is very light red, the nose was very mute just a little hint of red cherries. Taste was very unbalanced: on one side you could feel some light red cherries, on the other side the heat of the alcohol. The wine finished quickly with no aftertaste. This was a very poor bottle of Pinot. Avoid.

2006 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon: color is dark red with purple hues. Nose: very similar to a good Chilian Cabernet(it reminded me of Errazuriz), strong cassis flavors from the get go, a hint of oak, dry plums and spices. Taste: again strong cassis flavors balanced nicely by the American oak (the wine spent 7 months in American oak),nice acidity, spices and mint. This medium body wine finishes with dark chocolate notes in a medium aftertaste.

2008 Crama Oprisor Cabernet Sauvignon: Color almost the same as Hyperion, dark red with purple hues. Nose: strong vanilla flavor is dominanting the nose, some dark fruits but very much in the back at this stage; it feels like someone stuffed a vanilla cake in your glass. If you like that, you’ll love this wine.  In the mouth the wine continues with more sweet vanilla flavors, spices, some red and black fruits. The aftertaste is similar in lenghts to ’06 Hyperion. Perhaps it is too early to open this bottle but at this stage I am not a fan of this wine. I am however curious to see how well the vanilla flavors will integrate with the fruit 6-12 months down the row.

For me the Wine of the meal was the 2006 Hyperion Cabernet Sauvignon that I believe is already drinking well right now with nice fruit and enough complexity. Considering that both wines have similar prices: in the range of 50-60 RON, I would go with the ’06 Hyperion if I had to choose between them.

Categories: Romania

Tignanello 2005

April 10, 2010 3 comments

I had a very nice FRI evening with some friends and we had the chance to taste a well known wine from Italy.

Antinori is one of the most known wine producers in Italy and recently started a joint venture with Cramele Halewood in  Romania at Dealu Mare producing Cantus Primus – a Cabernet based wine.

One of the original Super-Tuscan wines, Tignanello is produced exclusively from the famous vineyard, a 47 ha southwest facing, calcareous rocky marl and limestone plot, planted between 350-400 m above sea level at Antionori’s Santa Cristina estate.

Tignanello was originally a Chianti Classico Riserva called Vigneto Tignanello, but was first vinified as a single-vineyard wine in 1970, when it still contained the traditional Tuscan white grapes Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia. From the 1975 vintage, white grapes were totally eliminated. Tignanello is a blend of 20% Cabernet and  80% Sangiovese as opposed to Solaia which is a mirror image 80% Cabernet and 20% Sangiovese.

The wine was decanted for about 2 hours and drank over 2 hours. The 2005’s color is dark red with purple hues, still the color of a young wine. The nose is Bordeaux like with red and black berries, cassis, black pepper, cigar box, a hint of oak, some dry plums, chocolate evolving during the 2 hours more towards dark ripe fruits. The nose is sweet. The taste is lovely: a medium to full body, more full body, big and round tannins, big mouth feel with dark cherries, black pepper, spices, a great balance of acidity with a nice smooth and pleasing finish.  The aftertaste is medium to long finishing spicy with dark chocolate. Very well structured and balanced, drinking nicely today.

It is a lovely wine but the price is pretty high. If you can spend around 60-70 EUR for a bottle of wine this is a very nice and approachable bottle already.

Categories: Italy

2001 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial

April 9, 2010 8 comments

After so much lamb from Easter i wanted to eat something softer and decided to cook some turkey with garlic and chilly stuffed into the meat and roasted in olive oil for dinner. As a matter of fact first was the wine selection and then the food, but don’t tell anyone. The wine is something special.

First of all very brief about Marques de Murrieta. Marques de Murrieta is unquestionably one of the leading bodegas in Rioja. Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial is a traditional Tempranillo dominated blend, which following on from six months in vat will often see in excess of 36 months in American oak before bottling. There is also a Reserva Especial, a similar blend also subject to prolonged wood ageing; both wines are only made in the best vintages, otherwise Marqués de Murrieta will produce a range of standard Gran Reservas and Reservas. Castillo Ygay has the same label for over 100 years. Just to get even  a better idea about the quality and potential of such a cuvee, in 1986 the Bodega started to bottle the 1942 vintage, that was kept in barrels for 44 years. It seems that the barrels had so much tar crystals on the inside that the wine was practically kept in a glass like container. Starting with the 90′ due to financing issues they shortened the barrel aging.

2001 was an exceptional vintage in Rioja that produced extremely complex wines with huge aging potential. The 2001 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial was kept in American oak barrels for 36 months. This wine has an aging potential of 50+years.

This was one of the top 10 wines included in the Top 100 wines of 2009 of Wine and Spirits magazine.

Color: red with purple color with some brick color at the rim.

Nose: very complex, red and dark fruits, cigar box, vanilla, spices, mint, some meaty tones as well.

Taste: this is real finesse, pure silk; intense flavors of red fruits and American oak(not over-oaked, just perfectly balanced), fine tannins, chocolate, red peppercorn,dry plums, medium acidity. Palate very Bordeaux with great complexity.

The aftertaste is holding over and over finishing with spicy flavors.

This wine is exceptional. If you ever get the chance to find this wine BUY IT. I paid 34 EUR for this bottle. I bought this wine in one of my trips in Barcelona, but the good news is that there is a store in Sibiu and they do have the wine.

This wine gave far more flavor and was more satisfying than the Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001 that i had for Easter for drastically less money.

Categories: Spain

Mas Belles Eaux – Sainte Helene 2005

April 6, 2010 2 comments

I had this bottle in my cellar for some months now and I decided to open it with to have it with some remaining lamb from Easter . Mas Belles Eaux is owned by Axa Millesime, the same owner of Pichon Baron in Paulliac, Bordeaux and it is an acquisition made in 2002 when Axa discovered the 90 ha of vines situated Nord-East of Pezenas, in Languedoc.  New equipment has been installed and the chais renovated so that wines can be properly stored and aged for long time.

The cuvee Sainte Helene is the top wine of this estate.  Very carefully selected grapes for this cuvee are coming from the plots situated on the highest point of this property.

It is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan fermented in steel and concrete tanks. The maceration is long: 30 to 40 days. The wine is aged in French oak barrels, 1 or 2 years old, for 15 months.

The color of the wine is deep purple.  Nose: initially closed it gradually opens with notes of dark black fruits, spices and cocoa. As the wine is decanted the cocoa is the main component that comes massively and elegantly out of the glass. Oak is only giving this nose more class, balancing the cocoa component.  In the mouth the wine is magic: balance between finesse and power; cocoa with crushed white and black pepper. A full body wine with a long aftertaste, nice freshness and acidity, round and polished tannins, that stay in the mouth for over 30 s. There is no sign of heat even though the wine has 14.5% alc.

I will be looking for more of this wine to keep and see how it develops in time.

Categories: Coteaux du Languedoc

Easter 2010

April 4, 2010 1 comment

2001 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Color: ruby red with dark tones, no sign of aging. Nose: very little red cherry, a little bit of leather, little bit of smoke, tobacco, espresso, earth, asparagus. Taste: a nice medium to full body wine, bitter tannins on the back end but not a pungent wine in the mouth, black tea, earth, sour cherry. Very old school Bordeaux. Certainly no fruit bomb in here but a pleasant wine that goes well with lamb.  Aftertaste is medium: 15-20 s. A Bordeaux with enough tannins to last another 10 years easily, but not an example of a remarkable Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, not for my palate or my taste. I would probably not buy it any time soon and that’s not because of the quality but for what you get for the money you pay. For me I can think of far better wines for less money I paid for this bottle. But hey that’s me. Everybody has his own palate. What attracted me on this 2001 Pichon Lalande was the 14% Petit Verdot added in the blend.

2002 Hugel et Fils Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive

Hugel Vendange tardive Gewurztraminer 2002 – Color: nice bright yellow color. Nose:  this wine is screaming lychees crème and a floral nose.  Taste: more lychees flavours and some mineral notes. Mid palate is a little watery but the wine finishes in a long aftertaste with a mineral character.A sweet wine that goes well with foie gras.

Categories: Bordeaux, France
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