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Old Spanish wines and German Riesling

February 28, 2011 5 comments

fantastic inexpensive Riesling

Last weekend was really hectic in terms of wine related events. On FRI evening I had dinner with Raluca and Oliver Bauer and tasted some older wines they brought. We shared these wines with Mr Sorin Petrescu(the owner of Vinimondo), his wife and Vlad, another friend of the Bauer’s. We met at the same restaurant where there is going to be a special wine tasting event on the 12th of March, organized by Oliver with old vintages of Bordeaux from 1970, 1985 and 1996 and a 2000 Magnum of Sauternes. There will be a total of 12 different wines with two wines served from Magnums. I’ll post more details about this event later on.

Coming back to the FRI evening the wines we sampled were three Spanish wines, a South African Cabernet Sauvignon and two German Rieslings. None of the wines was decanted and, with one single exception, there was no need for that. The oldest wine, from 1987, would surely have benefited from decanting as it remained closed until the bottle was empty. It actually emptied the first one and very quickly. Never underestimate the thirst of a group of wine geeks.

1999 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera Crianza

The color is dark red with light signs of aging. The nose has medium intensity, is clean and developed, with sweet balanced oak, with red cherry, chocolate and tobacco aromas. The taste is medium body, a bit hallow on the mid palate, with good acidity and earthy red and black cherry. There is a medium finish with a minty bitter-sweet finish. It feels this wine has peaked already. 87 points

1998 was a better vintage in Spain than the 1999 and this showed very clear when tasted the following wine. The Dehesa La Granja, made by the same producer as Pesquera, showed better this evening.


1998 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Dehesa la Granja

Color is dark red and no sign of aging. The nose is youthful and developed, with a medium+ intensity(more intense than the 1999 Pesquera), sweet balanced American oak, with aromas of dark cherry, cranberry, licorice and cocoa. The taste shows a medium+ bodied wine, with sweet tannins, well balanced and good structure, youthful, with flavors of cocoa, cranberry liquor and menthol-eucalyptus. The finish is medium plus long with a bitter-sweet black cherry aftertaste. The wine shows elegance and balance. 88 points

1993 Stellenryck Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa)

For me, this was the surprise of the night. The Bauer’s spent their winter vacation this year in South Africa, visiting wineries and this was one of the wines they brought home. Based on their stories, the older vintages of South African wines are of no interest in that country. That is the reason why this wine didn’t cost more that just a few EUR. The style is so old French Bordeaux that you would easily take it for an old Pauillac.

The wine has a ruby red with dark tones color. The nose is intense and mature, with distinctive aromas of black currant, graphite, cedar wood, light green vegetables-asparagus and a touch of mushrooms; this is a very classic and elegant Bordeaux like nose. In the mouth this medium bodied wine shows a good and developed structure, with pencil shavings mixed with a pleasant greenness and earthy flavors. It finishes with a medium bitter mocha aftertaste. A bit more austere compared to the Spanish wines but, in my opinion, a more elegant and good structured wine with a silky mouth-feel. There is plenty of life left in this wine. 91 points

1987 Jesus y Felix Puelles Fernandez Puelles Rioja Reserva

This wine needed decanting and we didn’t grant it. The wine was poured directly in the glasses and after an initial sip, left there to breath for about 30-45 minutes: not enough.

The wine has a clear light red Pinot Noir like color, with a brownish rim. The nose appeared closed to me, showing dusty and old cellar aromas, with earthy mushrooms. This wine needs at least a couple of hours to breathe. In the mouth the wine explodes with flavors. A medium bodied wine showing a lively acidity, with a sweet mouth-feel sensation and distinctive aromas of orange peel, nuts, earth and pure red cherry. The finish is medium with a minty good coffee aftertaste. 89-90 points

Once the meal and the red wines were finished we uncorked the Rieslings.

2004 Weingut Eduard Hauth Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese

There is a deep yellow lemon color. The nose is intense, clean and youthful, with strong aromas of warm tire, apricot, lemon, green apple, wet rocks and pineapple. A fresh and balanced nose. In the mouth the wine feels off dry and elegant, medium bodied, with a lively high acidity and generous flavors of litchi, pineapple and lemon. The finish is medium plus with great freshness. Only 7% alcohol. 92 points

2007 Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Spatlese

The color is bright yellow lemon. The nose has a medium intensity, more mineral, with plenty of wet stones, apricot, lemon, green apple and crushed rock. The taste is medium body, more mineral with great ample lemon and green apple flavors, a lifting acidity and good freshness. The finish is medium, mineral and intense. A really nice fresh and mineral wine. About 10% alcohol. 91 points

We also tried two Romanian wines that will be released on the market soon: a Merlot with strong barnyard aromas from Mr Petrescu and a blend of Merlot-Feteasca Neagra(Black Maiden) that I received as a sample from the producer. There is a new 50 ha winery in Romania that employs the services of Mr Willi Opitz as winemaker. More details about this new winery in a future post.

The dinner finished late in the night, but the experience was very enjoyable. SAT and SUN I was at the wine fair organized by Vinul.ro in the Old center of Bucharest sampling wines. I will post my impressions about the wine fair,  the newly launched Romanian sparkling wine from Stirbey winery and some other wines I had together with the same Bauer’s on SUN evening over the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading!

Dinner with great wine

February 21, 2011 8 comments

10 and 45 years old wines

Last weekend I lived one of the most special moments regarding wine tasting. Just to briefly do a short review of the wines of the weekend, I started on FRI with an interesting wine from Cotes de Castillon made by the very same person that is behind the Enira and Alira venture: Comte Stephan von Neipperg and his Chateau d’Aiguilhe 2004. I bought this wine from a wine shop in Bucharest that had it on a big discount sale.

2004 Château D’Aiguilhe Cotes de Castillon

Deep dark red colored. The nose has a medium intensity with sweet aromas of black currant, graphite, a little bit leathery, there is even a salty soy sauce aroma with hints of green vegetables and eau de vie. A youthful nose in a fruit forward style. This concentrated medium bodied wine shows firm tannins with sweet black fruit, cranberry-black currant liquor mixed with some greenness but in a nice way, mocha and a touch of heat. The finish is medium and dry with chewy tannins and a bitter espresso aftertaste. The wine feels slightly unbalanced with the alcohol spiking on the finish. This wine shows great potential for aging and hopefully, with time, the heat will be balanced. 89-90 points

Last week I managed to buy a really special and old bottle of wine from a seller in Romania: a Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1966. I had some doubts about this bottle of wine not knowing its provenance, but the high fill level and the perfectly preserved label were very encouraging signs of a proper storage. Purchasing an old bottle of wine is always a risky business as you never know if the wine wasn’t corked from the get-go or the wine didn’t suffer from heat, cold or lack of humidity that dried the cork during its life. However, I bought it anyway together with my friend, Calin, and decided to drink it this weekend. Opening a special bottle of wine is a celebration in itself.

similar fill levels on the 10 and 45 years old wines

SAT evening, together with our better halves, we visited Escargot restaurant for dinner. I opened both red wines prior to arriving at the restaurant. I was a little bit nervous about opening the 1966 Ducru as, on the outside, the cork looked almost cemented to the bottle and I feared a regular corkscrew would prove to be inefficient.

So I tried to clean the top of the bottle as best as I could with some wet napkins and get all the dirt between the bottleneck and the cork before using the corkscrew. To my pleasant surprise I had no problem pulling out the cork in one piece. The cork was completely soaked in wine so the wet walls between the bottleneck and the cork made my life very easy allowing a perfect extraction without too much effort. I encountered more resistance uncorking the 2001 Tignanello which also came out in one piece but with harder effort. So having the wines uncorked, we went to the restaurant where both wines were put in separate decanters to allow them to breath and open.

We started the meal with appetizers and a white 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly Fume. While this wine has basic flavors without any particular complexity, it was a happy companion to the appetizers.

2009 jean Redde Pouilly-Fumé

The wine has a pale yellow lemon color. The nose is clean with medium(-) intensity and aromas of sweet lemon,green apple and passion fruit. The taste shows a medium bodied wine with medium acidity, good freshness and flavors of lime, green apple and a pleasant fresh medium finish. 83-84 points

Our host, Razvan Exarhu, explained us a little bit about his new TV show: Romania delicioasa (Delicious Romania) and the trips he had while shooting it, about the experiences meeting different interesting people and the difficulties to broadcast it with an improper advertising. A very funny thing was the surprise everyone appearing in the show had, that after recording for hours, their moment of fame was no longer than just a few minutes. It is understandable considering the TV show lasts only 30 minutes and Razvan’s intention is to build a dynamic story. A show to watch.

As we finished the appetizers and the second course was about to arrive we poured in our glasses the first red wine of the meal: the Tignanello 2001, a Super-Tuscan, made by Antinori in an International style that has charm and it is already hard to resist not liking it.

2001 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT

The wine has a deep dark red-purple color. The nose is intense and developed, with some initial earthy aromas that shortly fade away and leave room for distinctive aromas of sweet black currant, licorice, asparagus, cedar wood, a rich layer of dark chocolate (our companion Calin suggested this aroma of dark chocolate reminds him of the chocolate made by Michel Cluizel) and plums. In the mouth the wine is velvety, full bodied, with intense flavors of black and red currant, blue berry, cedar, coffee bean and a firm backbone of ripe sweet tannins. Power and elegance comes to mind when drinking this wine.  The finish is medium plus with a mocha and sweet blue berry aftertaste. Firm tannins on the finish suggest there is plenty of life ahead – 15-20 years easily. Exquisite structure and balance in this wine. 93-94 points

While having the main dish: a rare beef steak with grilled vegetables, the last red wine is poured. The 45 years old Ducru-Beaucaillou surprises everybody with its youthfulness and purity of aromas. The dish is a perfect choice as it allows the wine to fully shine and enhances its flavors.

1966 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou St Julien

The color is ruby red with a brick rim. The nose is mature, intense and complex, with pure aromas of cedar wood, generous black currant fruit, cigar box, pencil shavings and coffee bean. It is a very elegant and fully developed classic Bordeaux nose. In the mouth this wine is characterized by perfect balance. An amazing acidity makes this wine youthful, perfectly hiding its age: you wouldn’t say is older than 15 years. Flavors of black currant, graphite, mocha and some light greenness – asparagus cover the palate. It is an elegant and supple wine with great structure, developed tannins and a silky mouth feel. The finish is medium plus with a beautiful red currant and a salty mocha aftertaste. Elegance at its best. 95+ points

This is a classic Bordeaux showing a really amazing good shape today. While the wine had its peak, the acidity still gives this wine plenty of years to last and to pleasure the palates of the fortunate ones that still have some bottles left in their cellars. At 45 years old the wine shows a great personality.

difference between a 10 and a 45 years old cork

We all felt that we lived a special moment when smelling and tasting this wine. We left the restaurant extremely satisfied and glad that we were able to share such an unique experience. Exceptional wine has the strange power to warm people’s hearts and bring the best in them.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Bordeaux, France, Italy

Wine auction of old Romanian wines at Artmark

February 18, 2011 15 comments

I received an invitation from Artmark – an art auction house established in Bucharest – to attend the sale of some old Romanian wines that will take place on Feb 24th, 2011. They also sent me a printed presentation catalog about the auction and the lots available.

auctioned 1946 Cab Sauv Murfatlar

The catalog contains general stories about what happened globally during those particular years matching the vintages of the wines and generic information about grape varieties. There are bottles of Pinot Noir, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay, Rosu de Minis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Merlot with vintages ranging from 1937 to 1960 produced by Murfatlar, Podgoria Minis and Podgoria Pietroasele. The majority of the bottles contain sweet or medium sweet wines with a couple of exceptions of dry ones. Most of the wines have estimated values between 400 EUR to 1500 EUR per bottle. Some wines have very low fill levels and the bottles are dusty and dirty, making impossible to see the fill level.

During my experiences with purchasing old wine from abroad, the vendors always tried to show the bottles as clean as possible with intact original labels and trying to zoom as much as possible on the fill level. A higher level wine will always be more expensive than a lower one as that is the proof of a better storage. They include also information about provenance. A dirty bottle doesn’t make the wine older. On the contrary: it is a sign of improper storage and the wine should be seriously discounted.

Most of the prestigious International auction houses (Sotheby’s, Christie) try to give as much information as possible about the lots about to be sold. Usually, collections of wines that come from reputable wine collectors fetch considerable higher prices than the ones without a storing and provenance history. The highest prices are paid for wines that come directly from the Chateau’s cellars as there is no doubt about the storage history since those wines never left the cellar. This was the case of a lot of wines that came directly from Château Lafite Rothschild’s cellars in a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.

Asian bidders paid stratospheric prices for prized bottles sent directly from Château Lafite Rothschild’s cellars in a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong

British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wine collection sold for more than expected at a Hong Kong auction Saturday, raking in $5.6 million

magnum of 1938 Leoville Las Cases from a merchant in Belgium

Just a few examples of some of the auctioned lots and the asking prices (no lot will be sold under the minimum asking price) from Artmark:

1938 Murfatlar – Cabernet Sauvignon 0.75 L estimated value per bottle 800-1500 EUR

1937 Murfatlar – Cabernet Sauvignon 0.75 L estimated value per bottle 800-1500 EUR

1946 Podgoria Miniș Muscat Ottonel 0.75 L estimated value per bottle 400-700 EUR

1958 Murfatlar Chardonnay 0.75 L estimated value per bottle 400-700 EUR

For anybody willing to try old vintages and believe me: it is an experience worth living, here are some interesting alternatives for world acclaimed and recognized wines:

1938 Leoville Las Cases St Julien Bordeaux 2eme Grand Cru Clasee Magnum (1.5 L) 454 EUR

1937 Chateau Margaux Bordeaux 1er Grand Cru Classe Margaux 0.75 L 418 EUR

1937 Beaune Vignes Franches Burgundy 1er Cru 0.75 L (Pinot Noir) 224 EUR

Any knowledgeable wine connoisseur pays attention to these important details when buying old wine: pedigree of the producer, provenance, storing history and price. The initiative of Artmark to organize an old wine auction in Romania is to be praised. However, attention needs to be paid to these important details known by any average wine connoisseur and most important of all: the pricing.

To check all the lots of wines for this auction go here.

Me, I just bought this week a Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1966 with impeccable original label and fill level for the impressive amount of just 73 EUR.

Your comments are welcomed.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Romania

2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese

February 14, 2011 1 comment

Riesling at its best

SUN was a day to rest and to take care of domestic stuff. I didn’t feel like going out, not even for lunch, and did not feel like cooking either, so my wife came with a good idea to order some Japanese food. We found a catering/restaurant preparing Japanese and doing home deliveries therefore our late lunch was sushi and sashimi.

We also ordered the “surprise dessert” which I am not sure what it was but tasted like chocolate and it wasn’t bad at all. The restaurant was already prepared for Valentine with this heart shaped dessert.

The wine I chose is a German Riesling from Nahe that I thought would go well with raw fish and soy sauce.

2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese

The color is bright yellow lemon. The nose is intense and clean, very rich, with sweet caramelized pineapple, perfectly mixed with mineral aromas of hot stone, petrol, discreet smoke, Asian spices, ripe apple and pear. The taste is full body, rich, quite unctuous but lifted by a high, almost sparkling, acidity. The acidity gives great balance to the sensation of sweetness. There are pure flavors of pineapple, lime, hot rocks, peach and plenty of tropical fruits. Unbelievable texture, concentration and balance in this wine. The finish is long and intense, off dry, with a mineral pineapple aftertaste. Incredible balance between the sweetness in the mouth and the off dryness in the aftertaste. 94+ points

It is useless to say that my wife fell absolutely in love with this wine. Delicious wine that has one major fault: after every sip you crave for more and the bottle finishes too quick. This stuff is addictive. At only 8.5% alcohol you can have a few bottles easily while still remaining sober but very satisfied.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Germany

Jerome Prevost – La Closerie Cuvee Les Beguines LC06

February 13, 2011 1 comment

100% Pinot Meunier made Champagne

In the anticipation of the American Valentine’s day, together with my wife, we opened a bottle of Champagne I had in the cellar for a couple of months bought from abroad. My wife was on a business trip in Switzerland the whole last week, so it was a great occasion to celebrate her return. After a walk in the park on a beautifully sunny SAT afternoon with an amazing 14 Celsius degrees and a long awaited warm weather that hopefully will not leave us anymore, we paid a visit to our friend Calin at Le Manoir to get some freshly cut Bellota Iberian ham to go with the Champagne. The mix Iberian ham – Champagne was perfect as the richness of the sparkling found the exact matching ingredients in the Spanish ham. Regarding the wine itself here is what I found about this producer:

“Jerome Prevost, a child of the late 1960s, took over his family’s 2.2 ha of vines at Gueux, on Montagne de Reims, at the age of twenty-one. After selling his grapes to others, he started making his own wine when celebrated fellow-grower Anselme Selosse made space for him in his winery from 1998 to 2001. Attempting to get the best out of his vines, planted in the 1960s, he plows and uses bio-dynamic preparations. He ferments in wood (mostly barriques) and, standing conventional wisdom on its head, prefers the wine to have extended contact with lees from indigenous yeast in barrel, rather than with lees from selected yeast in bottle. Because of their richness and ripeness, they have only a very light dosage, leaving them Extra Brut. He works by himself, makes only one wine, always from a single year, and always a single variety – Pinot Meunier. That may not sound so remarkable, but La Closerie Cuvee Les Beguines is an extremely interesting wine.

He labels the wines after each vintage as LC06 for 2006, LC07 for 2007 etc. So this vintage Champagne was served together with some really high quality Bellota Iberian ham from Carrasco, Guijuelo.

Bellota Iberian ham

More details about this ham producer you can read on an older post of this blog.

simple and elegant label

Jerome Prevost – La Closerie Cuvee Les Beguines LC06

There is a deep gold-amber color with really smooth bubbles. The nose is elegant and intense with brioche, yeast, lemon, toast and interesting exotic spices, with hints of old cognac, hazelnut and even some discreet caramel. The taste is creamy, full body, round, well balanced, elegant mouth-feel with intense and pure flavors of lime, lemon, Asian spices, nuts and toast. Fullness, power and elegance characterize the thick creamy texture that covers the palate completely. The finish is long with freshness, elegance and a long dry creamy hazelnut aftertaste.  93+ points

beautiful deep color

This Champagne is way above any Dom Perignon I had so far and it comes at a much lower price than the prestige cuvee of Moet Chandon. A Champagne to look for and try without any hesitation.

she is my Valentine

Have yourself a Happy Valentine’s day next to your beloved one.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France

2004 Chateau Puech Haut Tete de Belier rouge

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I am a big fan of this producer and I always enjoy having any of their wines. I love their white – Tete de Belier blanc (you can read my comments on the 2008 here) and the reds are also consistently very good: the 2005 Tete de Belier rouge and the 2007 Clos du Pic. Last time I had the 2004 Tete de Belier rouge was more than 1 year ago. The wine has evolved very well during this last year and became a delicious wine.

I had a beef tongue in my freezer that I was eager to eat so last evening I did a little bit of home cooking preparing a dish to match this wine. As this is a wine from the South of France – Languedoc – I thought a Provencal sauce for the beef tongue would go well and it did. The olives, capers and the thyme from the dish found similar flavors in the wine.

tasty beef tongue

2004 Château Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc Tête de Bélier rouge

The wine has an opaque dark red violet color.  The nose is intense, balanced and developed with fresh ripe cranberry, black and red cherry liquor, licorice, bacon fat, black pepper and distinctive cocoa and dark chocolate aromas. A really nice mix of aromas. In the mouth this full bodied wine is round, rich, fat, with good balance and pleasant mouth feel, concentrated, lots of glycerin, with flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry, olives, a good tannins structure without being aggressive at all and even it has 14.5% alcohol it doesn’t feel heavy on the palate. The finish is medium plus long with a refreshing bitter-sweet dark chocolaty cranberry aftertaste. A delicious wine. 92-93 points

The wine is a blend of 75 % Syrah, 15 % Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and aged for 18 months in large French oak barrels. Their yields are around 2 tonnes per ha for each grape variety.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Coteaux du Languedoc

Solo Quinta 2010, Cono Sur Carmenere Reserva 2009 and L’Oustal Blanc Naick 7 rouge

February 10, 2011 1 comment

Yesterday I had dinner with my buddies Dan and Alex at a friend’s restaurant so I was able to bring my own wines. I was looking forward for this dinner as I wanted to taste two of the wines I received as samples from Recas wineries (Cramele Recas): Solo Quinta 2010 and 2009 Cono Sur Carmenere Reserva plus a Vin de table rouge from Minervois brought by a friend. So here are my impressions about the wines.

Solo Quinta 2010

Blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Feteasca Regala (Royal Maiden grape), Muscat and Feteasca Neagra (Black Maiden made in white).

The color is pale straw. The nose is clean and fresh with a medium intensity and sweet aromas of tropical fruits, peach, apricot, muscat and rose petals. In the mouth the wine is medium bodied, round, balanced, lively and fresh with a sensation of sweetness and honeyed yellow flowers flavors. The finish is medium with floral and honeyed flavors. A dry wine with great freshness from the beginning to end and much better than the 2009 version. Will be great this summer. (88 points)

The wine was bottled recently so a couple of months more in the bottle will most likely make it even better. I remember tasting this wine in November during the Good Wine fair at Recas booth as they had some tank samples and I can say now this is a completely changed and much improved wine compared to November.

A purple colored wine. The nose is tight with a certain heat and petrol dark fruits. A medium bodied wine with drying tannins, light red fruit and a short finish. (79-80 points)

2007 L’Oustal Blanc (Isabel et Claude Fonquerle) Minervois Naïck 7

An opaque dark red color. The nose is youthful but closed with a light intensity of ripe dark fruits and plenty of heat. In the mouth the wine is medium bodied with firm and dry tannins, red fruit flavors and a short finish with sweet fruity flavors but dominated by alcohol. The wine is unbalanced and the 15% alcohol is dominating this wine. (78 points)

The white wine was by far the star of the dinner and appreciated by all the participants around the table. Most likely the Solo Quinta will develop and be scored higher in a couple of months. Let’s see.

Thanks for reading!

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