Archive for May, 2011

The International wine round table Bucharest Ep 2

May 18, 2011 2 comments

On May 14, 2011 a small group of wine enthusiasts met at Trattoria Roma in Bucharest for the second round of tasting old vintages of Bordeaux and this time also of wines from Spain. It is the 6th meeting of the International wine round table from its inception, the first four episodes taking places in other cities excluding Bucharest.

I arrived at the restaurant around 17:00, about 45 minutes earlier than the other participants, as the wines for the tasting were stored in my cellar for the last 3 weeks in order to minimize the stress of transportation as much as possible. It is a generally accepted theory that wine suffers a certain stress after being transported for long distances and it is advisable to have a buffer time of couple of weeks to rest before being consumed. The set was already in place: the tables were arranged in a manner that all participants could see each other very well and be able to discuss without having to move from one place to another or bother their neighbors.

Oliver and Raluca were already there and after greeting ourselves, together with Oliver, we started to uncork the bottles. Most of the corks were in a perfect shape this time, just a couple of the Spanish wines had the cork soaked in  wine. Most of the red wines were poured in the decanters, the exceptions being both the 1981 Bordeaux wines and other two red wines. The whites were uncorked and maintained in the fridge until all guests arrived and the wine tasting started.

Oliver uncorked a white Stirbey Feteasca Regala 2003 and a red Stirbey Novac 2007 that were consumed by the participants as they gradually arrived to calibrate the palates before the actual event. The 2003 Feteasca Regala has evolved into a very interesting wine, losing some of the acidity, but exhibiting aged Chardonnay like aromas. The 2007 Novac will be available only in two years from now, during this time it will be let to develop in the bottle. For now the wine resembles Pinot Noir meets old Rioja like flavors.

The main wine tasting started around 18:00 and the first flight was for the three dry white wines.

1991 Vina Tondonia Reserva white Lopez de Heredia

A deep gold color. The nose was a bit closed initially and slowly started to reveal mineral and herbal aromas mixed with vanilla, peach and dry apricots. A medium body wine with a surprising lively acidity, very mineral and herbal. A medium finish, very dry, with mineral flavors of chalk and a big wild green apple like acidity that was felt fully in the mouth. 12% alcohol. 87 points

1992 Meursault 1er cru Blagny Louis Jadot

A medium gold color. Intense aromas of honey, wax and smoke dominate the nose, mixed with roasted hazelnuts, quince and lemon on the background. A medium plus body, a bit fuller than the Tondonia, with flavors of honeyed stones, predominantly mineral and herbal tones and a low acidity. A medium mineral finish. The wine is oxidized and starting to go downhill. Drink up. 88 points

1999 Grand cru classé Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc

A deep gold-amber color with signs of aging. The nose has a good intensity, appears fresh, with aromas of apricots, orange peel, quince and wax. A medium bodied wine, lacking a proper acidity, has little fruit aromas left, mineral with a honeycomb flavor. A short to medium finish and little persistence in the aftertaste. 86 points

Next flight started the red wine series with the oldest vintages available.

1981 Grand cru classé Chateau Giscours

A medium ruby red color with a brownish rim and signs of maturity. The nose is fully developed and mature, earthy, saddle leather, black currant, strawberry and mushrooms aromas build on the complexity. There is a hint of dump cellar that suggests a slight corked fault, but the wine can still be enjoyed properly. A medium plus body wine, with lively acidity, resolved and complete integrated tannins, earthy with an interesting complexity. The finish is medium with red fruit and minty aromas in the aftertaste. A wine to be enjoyed now. 88 points

1981 Chateau Batailley Pauillac

A full ruby red color with less signs of aging. A well developed nose, more youthful than the Giscours, less intense in aromas, and as it opens up, it exhibits thyme, rosemary, cedar and subtle red currant aromas. There are both good red fruit and spices aromas, however the wine remains restraint and closed. A medium bodied wine,with integrated tannins and good acidity hinting a few more years of life ahead, with clearly defined flavors of cedar, graphite, red currant and a charming complexity. The wine has lingering aromas of coffee in the aftertaste and drying the mouth. 89 points

1989 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Marqués de Murietta

This was the wine I was the most curious to taste. I had the 2001 Ygay Gran Reserva Especial about 12-16 months ago and I remember liking it a lot. This was an opportunity to see how this wine can age.

A dark red ruby-purple wine, very youthful in color and no clear signs of aging. The nose is intense, still youthful and oaky, there is a minty dominating aroma, mixed with subtle pine wood, ripe red fruits, red cherry, strawberry, raspberry and caramel. The wine is surprisingly light to medium body, showing a lively acidity and a light mouth-feel, with very little flavors in the mouth. The finish drys the mouth with firm tannins and a light to medium mix of red and black fruits in the aftertaste. 85-86 points

It was a disappointing experience.

1989 Reserva “Vina Ardanza” La Rioja Alta

Ruby red with clear traces of aging and a brick colored rim. The nose is fully developed and mature, showing aromas of earth, black currant buds, a touch more greener than the Ygay, leaning towards graphite, red currant, orange peel and green pepper. A medium plus bodied wine, with dissolved and integrated tannins, with touches of green pepper, earth and subtle red fruit flavors. A medium finish with an earthy red fruit aftertaste. 88 points

Old school Rioja showing clearly in a better shape than the oaky Ygay.

2001 Septentrion Bodegas Orvalaiz

A dark red young color. A medium intense nose, developed and oaky, spicy, with ripe red fruit, caramel, sandal wood and mint. A medium plus bodied wine, with alcohol being very present in the mouth; the wine comes uni dimensional with primary aromas of fruit. The finish is light to medium and fruity. 82 points

A wine made in an International style with plenty of fruit and very little complexity, slightly unbalanced with the heat present in the mouth. The least exciting of the tasting.

1999 Merlot “Privat Cellar” Veenwouden

A dark red ruby color. A medium intense and developed nose, very spicy with cinnamon, prunes, black tea aromas. A medium bodied wine with round and integrated tannins, with flavors of black fruit, prunes, dark chocolate and minerals, dominated from now and then by figs and caramel. A medium finish and simple complexity. 86-87 points

1996 Grand cru classé Chateau La Tour Figeac

A dark ruby red and youthful color. The nose is classic Bordeaux: well developed and balanced, greener than the fruity African Merlot, with subtle plums, graphite, boxwood, green bell pepper, asparagus, smoked bacon and leather. It is important to mention that when uncorking this wine, the most dominating aroma that came out of the bottle was the  smoked bacon. A medium to full body wine, voluptuous, with a firm tannins structure and very nicely mixed flavors of red and black fruit, plums, leather and lively minerality. The firm tannins are present also in the finish giving a lift to all the other aromas, with a medium plus long aftertaste and lively mineral aromas. The most interesting wine for me this evening. 90 points

Just like in the 1970 La Tour Figeac from Magnum that I had at the last reunion in March, this Chateau is stealing again the first place of this wine tasting and shows consistence in making good wines in acclaimed vintages. I will seek other vintages made by this producer. 

1998 Alion Reserva Tinto Bodegas y Vinedos Alion

A dark ruby red and youthful color. The nose is well developed, sweet and intense, oaky, with aromas of smoke, black fruit: black berry and hints of vegetables. A medium to full body wine with firm tannins, with primary flavors of red and black fruit dominating, completed by a certain pleasant minerality. Firm grip tannins on the finish as well, with black tea and blackberry aromas. 88-89 points

The last wine was a sweet Sauternes.

1995 Château La Tour Blanche 1er cru classé Sauternes

A medium amber evolved color. The nose is well developed and intense, with rich aromas of saffron, orange peel, sweet caramelized pineapple lifted by a refreshing minerality. Full bodied, unctuous without being sticky, with good acidity and very well defined flavors of tropical fruits and a refreshing minerality in the medium aftertaste. A lighter style and easier to drink. 89 points

My top wines for this tasting:

1) 1996 Chateau La Tour Figeac St Emilion Grand Cru

2) 1981 Chateau Batailley Paulliac

3) 1989 Reserva “Vina Ardanza” La Rioja Alta and 1981 Chateau Giscours Margaux

4) 1992 Meursault 1er cru Blagny Louis Jadot

5) 1995 Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes

As a conclusion: Bordeaux shows well again its aging potential and the ability to develop subtle and complex flavors in time, while, with the exceptions of Ardanza La Rioja Alta and the white Tondonia which is released after several years of aging anyway, the Spanish wines should have probably been consumed younger. It is probably debatable whether the Spanish wines should be consumed within 10 years of release as Mr Hugh Johnson states in his Pocket Wine book, however this tasting, I lean towards his statement. There are however exceptions from the rule.

Thanks for reading!

A sunny SUN afternoon with friends

On SUN I had a lovely lunch with people from the wine business, we cooked at home and had some interesting wines. We started lunch at 15:00 with Oliver and Raluca with quail eggs, Jamon Serano, olive oil with truffles on a fresh ciabbatta with onion bed as appetizers, to go with Champagne, and continued with domestic rabbit and turkey with herbs and prunes cooked slowly in the oven for about 2h30′ enough to have the meat falling from the bones. We had a Greek 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and a big 2001 Chateauneuf du pape.

Late afternoon our second round of guests, Calin and Anne, came and brought a bottle of Deutz Brut 2002 and a whole bunch of King prawns that we cooked in a buttered sauce and flamed with Calvados. For the flamed buttered King Prawns we had a fresh and crispy Solo Quinta 2010. Retrospectively looking we had a 7 hours lunch turned into dinner, in great company, good food and wines and plenty of fun. The summer is just showing the first signs in Romania, but it certainly started on a good spirit for us.

Here are some tasting notes for the wines we had.

Robert Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Cru NV

Medium lemon yellow color with smooth and rich bubbles. The nose  is crispy and medium intense, with lemons and green apple freshness mixed with a seductive minerality and roasted hazelnuts. The taste is medium body, clean cut and focused minerality mixed with citric fruit flavors. A medium fresh mineral finish and a vibrant acidity perfect for a warm sunny day of summer. 89-90 points

Deutz Brut 2002

Full yellow lemon color and rich smooth bubbles. The nose is medium intense, more citric, with sweeter aromas of red and green apple, lemon and a touch of caramel. A higher dosage  means a fuller body wine, with a bodybuilder like structure compared to Moncuit, a light touch of minerals with richer citric flavors of lemon and grapefruit. Finish is med with freshly cut red grapefruit in the aftertaste. 88-89 points

2004 Chateau Porto Carras

100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc

Dark red purple color. The nose is developed and intense, with great Cabernet Sauvignon typicality, aromas of green bell pepper, cedar mixed with sweet black fruit and red currant. The taste is med+ body, with a clearly defined tannins structure, firm mouthfeel with good balance between rich flavors and tannins. Corresponding flavors in the mouth as on the nose. The finish is med+ with a good tannic grip and sweet mineral black cherry. 89-90 points

Chateauneuf du pape Charbonniere Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2001

Deep dark red opaque color, youthful with no signs of aging. The nose is well developed, intense and rich, very chocolaty, mixed with garrigue, thyme, sweet dark cherry and blackberry liqueur, with a touch of minerality. Full body wine, with integrated and mellow tannins, big, concentrated, rich dark chocolate flavors, black fruits liqueur, a Mon Cherry candied like flavor with spices and mint. Long finish, lingering aromas of sweet black fruit liqueur and spices. Well balanced wine standing very well on its feet at 15.5% alc, especially on a very warm day. 91-92 points

2010 Solo Quinta

Medium lemon yellow clear color. The nose is intense and clean, with amazingly rich candied like aromas of peach, muscat, apricot and linden refreshed by citric and green apple aromas. A medium bodied wine with lively acidity, good freshness and well defined tropical and citric flavors. The finish is medium long, breathing freshness and sweet fruity flavors: peach and red grapefruit in the aftertaste. 89-90 points

I can see how one can be seduced by this wine for its sweet fruity aromas and good freshness.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: France, Greece, Romania

A Champagne and a red Rhone wine from a rainy weekend

As last weekend was rainy and colder than usual for Romania, it seemed like a good idea to spend it quietly at home watching movies, doing a bit of easy cooking and sipping Champagne. Therefore SUN I opened one of the bottles purchased from our recent trip to Champagne in France in order to match a jar of Salmon eggs purchased from a Russian shop from Piata Norilor with freshly made bread and butter. Incredible combo that gave both products the chance to shine. The saltiness of the Salmon eggs brought up the concentrated fresh citric aromas of the Champagne.

Demiere Ansiot Blanc de Blancs NV Grand Cru Oger-Marne

A medium gold color with intense and smooth bubbles. There is good intensity of aromas on the nose, with notes of brioche, ripe yellow apples, roasted hazelnuts and huge citric fruits. A good acidity in this full bodied sparkling wine that shows a great mix between minerality and citric fruits: the grapefruit takes the front stage. The finish is medium and refreshing with flavors of grapefruit peel and wet rocks. 88 points

Next dish was a mixed grill of rare Argentinian beef steak and chicken breast with spring green salad and vegetables. The dish was paired by a red Rhone wine from an acclaimed vintage in France from Vacqueyras.

2005 Tardieu-Laurent Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes

Deep dark red-purple color. The nose is very intense and well developed, extremelly peppery,with a freshly crushed black peppercorns dominating aroma, beefy, chocolaty, all spread over a bed of small dark fruits. The taste is medium to full body, fat, with ripe and firm tannins that give balance and freshness, with thick flavors of crushed black peppercorn, anise and dark cherry liquor. A round mouth feel characterizes this fleshy and concentrated wine. The finish is medium plus long with a chocolaty spicy aftertaste. Powerful wine. 91 points

Thanks for reading!

Solaia 2000

The wine for Easter this year was a classic Italian Super Tuscan made by Antinori: Solaia 2000. It was a great match for all the rich lamb dishes we had.

Antinori Solaia 2000

Dark red ruby color with early hints  of orange at the rim. A well developed nose with signs of maturity, a bit stinky revealing subtle notes of red and black currant, mixed with green vegetables, menthol, cedar wood, graphite and coffee. A  full bodied wine, well balanced, with silky tannins and flavors of mocha, red currant, exposing a great balance between minerals, greenness and fruit. The finish is long and intense. Drinking well now and plenty of further aging potential. An elegant and old school Bordeaux like wine. 93 points

A great wine to mark an important religious event celebrated with family.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Italy

The International wine round table reloads

May 9, 2011 1 comment

On May 14th, this coming SAT, the The International wine round table will meet again for a new session of tasting old wines. This session’s wines will be the following:

1st Flight

1991 Vina Tondonia Reserva white Lopez de Heredia
1992 Meursault 1er cru Blagny Louis Jadot
1999 Grand cru classé (white) Chateau Carbonnieux

2nd Flight

1981 Grand cru classé Chateau Giscours
1981 5er cru classé Chateau Batailley

1989 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Marqués de Murietta
1989 Reserva “Vina Ardanza” La Rioja Alta

3rd Flight

2001 Septentrion Bodegas Orvalaiz

1999 Merlot “Privat Cellar” Veenwouden
1996 Grand cru classé Chateau La Tour Figeac
1998 Alion Reserva Tinto Bodegas y Vinedos Alion
4th Flight

1995 1er cru classé Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes

The ticket to attend the wine tasting is 200 RON and includes a dish with various types of cheese and charcuterie products and a bottle of water. The event will take place at Tratoria Roma and will start around 18:00. There will be a fixed number of 14 participants. People interested to attend can mail me at or Payment will be made the latest on WED, May 11.

There are about 3 more places available for the moment.

Categories: People in wine bus

Two wines from Pic Saint Loup

My friend Dan invited me to celebrate his birthday by having a wine dinner together on THU. He is a big fan of wines from Languedoc, so it was only natural for him to bring these wines, from one of the most acclaimed Grand Cru of the region: Pic Saint Loup, to the restaurant to enjoy with the meal.

2007 Clos Marie Metairies du Clos Vieilles Vignes

The wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault from 50 years old vines and a small part of Syrah from 20 years old vines. 13.5% alc

There is an opaque purple color similar to an Argentinian Malbec. The nose is youthful and developing, surprisingly beefy, with intense aromas of spices, dark fruits jam and cocoa. There is an unusual pleasant earthy-leathery aroma that probably comes from the Cinsault. It is medium to full body in the mouth, a round and silky mouth-feel, great balance showing mineral and earthy flavors mixed with floral and black fruits aromas. The finish is medium plus long with a leathery-mineral aftertaste. The wine has a great drink-ability and goes perfectly with food. 90 points

2005 Chateau de Cazeneuve Sang du calvaire

I tasted this wine in January this year last and I remember liking it more back then. Compared to the previous younger wine, the Sang du calvaire seems heavy and hard to drink. Predominantly Mourvedre based wine and aged for 18 months in French oak. 13.5% alc

The color is dark ruby red. The nose is developed and very sweet, spicy, dominated by candied mint, red fruits and licorice. The oak is still on the front side. A medium bodied wine, with sweet but firm tannins – more apparent compared to the first wine, with dominating mint mixed with red fruits, spices and oak. The finish is medium plus long leaving a slightly bitter dark chocolaty aftertaste. 89 points  

I did enjoy the 2007 Metairies du clos more for being more easy going to drink. What is even more interesting is that the 2005 Cazeneuve is almost two times more expensive than the younger wine.

Happy birthday Dan and all the best !

Thanks for reading!

A list of wines drank in April 2011

May 5, 2011 1 comment

In April I traveled a lot. I was in Italy on the 7th, 8th and 9th attending Vinitaly 2011 and a dinner at Serego Alighieri estate, came back to Romania and left after two days to Belgium for almost two weeks. Since I was so close to France, together with my wife, we spent a lovely weekend in Champagne on 15th and 16th(more about this weekend in a special post). Belgium is a country were you can easily find wine merchants almost everywhere, therefore the offer is exhaustive. I visited many wine merchants and bought a lot of wine, most of it extremely low priced compared to what is available in Romania. I know: Belgium is very close to France and the shipping cost is lower. But on the same token, their mark up is also lower and more common sensed.

There were plenty of wines tasted in Italy, Belgium and France. I wrote tasting notes on some of them – not for the ones at Vinitaly as they were over 300, but very few have full tasting notes taken. Partly because many were tasted on the run, partly because I just wanted to enjoy my time without having to pay too much attention dissecting each wine during our meals. So here is a list with some of the wines I had in April and took pictures and tasting notes.

2007 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc

Color is yellow lemon with shades of green. The nose is clean and youthful with aromas of tropical fruits, lemon grass, quince and oak. The taste is medium body with nice structure and good intensity, rich, with similar flavors as on the nose, finishing with a fresh medium+ long aftertaste. Very nice complexity and aromatics on this young white Pessac-Leognan wine. 90 points

The wine was great with a home cooked lobster in a sauce made of aromatic herbs and melted butter.

1997 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett

I bought 4 bottles of this wine for 13.28 eur per bottle. Unfortunately the merchant did not have more, as these were his last. I had huge problems pulling the corks out in one piece on all bottles . As a matter of fact the cork was so soaked in wine that it only came out in very small pieces. Decanting was not just an option, it was mandatory in order to filter all the remaining small pieces of cork that fell into the wine.

The color is deep amber. The nose is amazingly youthful and intense showing a great complexity with pure aromas of tropical fruits, caramelized pineapple, petrol, orange and peach peel, ginger . The taste is full body, the wine is absolutely gorgeous in the mouth – even though there are signs of oxidation – with a refreshing high acidity, great intensity of flavors, mixed tropical fruits and mineral flavors. The finish is medium+ and off dry with a pineapple and mandarin aftertaste. 92 points

notice the distinctive difference in color between the 1997 and the 2007

2003 Chateau Fonlegade Saint Emilion Grand Cru

This was a really nice wine that we had with spicy Asian chicken, mushrooms and roasted potatoes.

The wine has a dark ruby red color. The nose is well developed with good intensity, aromas of dark chocolate, plums, small black and red forest fruits and a touch of pleasant greenness that brings freshness. The taste is medium body, well balanced, with intense flavors of cocoa powder, cedar wood, mint and plums, with ripe sweet tannins and a velvety mouth-fell. The finish is medium+ long showing again the good tannins structure and a lingering aftertaste. Classic wine that drinks marvelously now. The wine has an amazing drink-ability and it was greatly appreciated by the other 4 persons at the table.  91 points

2004 Chateau Fombrauge Saint Emilion Gd Cru (Bernard Magrez)

This is a totally different style of wine.  The wine comes in a New World style: a heavy extracted fruit bomb dominated by oak. If the 2003 Fonplegade is like a graceful dancer, the 2004 Fombrauge is a big muscular guy on steroids. I hope my metaphor is plastic enough and able to deliver the picture of the two wines.

The color is almost black: opaque dark red with purple hues. The nose is rich and sweet, oaky, a real fruit bomb – for a Bordeaux (or at least the style I know) – with big aromas of plums, blackberry and cranberry, saved by some minerality. The taste is full body, a massive mouth-feel with flavors of toasted oak, ripe dark fruits and round tannins. The finish is medium+ long with sweet tannins and ripe dark fruits in the aftertaste. 88 points

The wine feels heavy in the mouth and more than 2 glasses per meal is a real challenge for me.

2001 Wijnkasteel Genoels Elderen Chardonnay Wit

I received this wine as a gift from one of the Belgium wine merchants I visited while there. I have to confess I did not know what to expect before opening it as I have little knowledge about the quality of the Belgium wine.

The wine has a deep yellow lemon color with a youthful appearance. The nose is developed with good intensity and rich aromas of butter, ripe apples and yellow fruits. In the mouth the wine is youthful with a dense structure, well balanced and focused mineral flavors mixed with fresh stone fruits. The finish is medium and very pleasant. 88 points

The wine was a very pleasant surprise as it was in a great shape at 10 years of age. Thanks a lot JP for the gift.

Champagne Robert Moncuit Brut NV Le Mesnil sur Oger

This is the first sparkling I had while visiting Champagne . We bought this wine from a shop in Epernay together with 2 glasses and they gave us the bottle in a plastic bag filled with ice. Now that’s what we may call a full service. We drove the car from Epernay and drank this wine straight in the vineyards of Le Mesnil sur Oger(about 20-30 km from Epernay if I am not wrong). The overall experience was just amazing, therefore the only thing I remember about the wine is that it was very focused, showing a beautiful minerality with the right acidity. The overall experience cannot be quantified by a score.

Champagne Michel Genet Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Esprit

We had this sparkling back in Belgium together with other 2 friends and did not take any particular tasting notes. The wine is focused, refreshing, characterized by a great minerality with flavors of brioche and citric fruits and a medium finish. 88 points

While in Champagne we also visited the Moet Chandon cellars and at the end of the tour we were served a glass of Moet Chandon Brut Imperial. The wine is made in a very commercial style with too much dosage and very little personality.

Chateau L’Euziere 2000 Pic Saint Loup Coteaux du Languedoc

Tasted this wine in the company of the same JP that offered me the Belgium Chardonnay and sold me some bottles of old Bordeaux. No particular tasting notes taken, just from memory.

The wine had a deep dark red color with no trace of evolution. The nose was developed but the oak is still not completely balanced. On the nose and in the mouth the wine has rich aromas of small black and red forest fruits balanced by spices and finishes with a medium spicy fruit aftertaste. 88 points

Back in Romania, we were invited to visit some friends that just returned from Spain and brought some tasty Jamon Iberico. To compliment the hosts I pulled out a Spanish wine from my cellar in order to pair it with the ham. Probably a sparkling would have been a better match, but the sweet aromas of the 23 months French oak barrel aged 100% Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero did his job well.

2006 Aalto Ribera del Duero

There is an opaque purple dark red color – no trace of light goes through this wine. The nose is youthful, clean, marked by vanilla and yoghurt from the oak, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, rich black fruit aromas: blackberry, cranberry, mulberry, spice, but overall a beautiful classic sweet nose of a young Tempranillo. The taste is full body, with massive structure, a firm sweet tannins backbone, good acidity to balance this richness, thick layers of sweet fresh black fruits and dark chocolate, cocoa, gripy in the mouth but balanced. There is plummy fruit, big tannins, liqourice and oak. The finish is medium+ and intense, leaving a dry mouth with a sweet blackberry-minty aftertaste.  (14.5% alc) 90-91 points

Thanks for reading!

Vinitaly 2011

I was in Verona at the beginning of April for a couple of days to attend a dinner organized by Masi at Serego Alighieri estate and visit Vinitaly – the biggest Italian wine fair. It is my first visit to a wine fair outside Romania. There were about 11 huge hangars with hundreds of booths, each representing one or more wine regions in Italy. There were a few producers from other countries too but very poorly represented. At the end of the day Vinitaly is only about the Italian wine.

Our group, the same that attended the dinner organized by Masi, arrived at the fair’s entrance early in the morning just when the wine fair was about to open and there was already a huge queue of people waiting to get in. As there was only one day reserved for visiting the fair I tried to see and taste as many wines as possible. Even though I was at the fair from 9:30 and left at 19:00 running on those corridors from one booth to another, and from one hangar to another, tasting over 300 wines, I would say that I probably visited about 20-25% of the fair. I tried to focus on the big and known producers and unfortunately some of them were very restrictive about tasting their wines and accepting your visit unless you were their partner. But on the big ocean of producers that was just a small percentage. The rest of them were gladly presenting their wines.

Masi’s recetion at their booth

I attended the presentations and the tastings of all the wines of Masi, Piccini, Planeta and some producers of Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont. There was very little time to write tasting notes for most of the wines as I was literally running from one hall to another, however I did manage to get notes for some top Masi wines while I spent more time there resting a bit and enjoying some good wines.

Masi Campolongo di Torbe 2004

Deep dark ruby red color. The nose is rich, complex and developed, with rich layers of cocoa powder, black and red cherry liquor, caramel and prunes. The taste is full body showing a velvety structure, concentrated, with flavors of black and red cherry jam and mint. The finish is long and intense with mint and cocoa flavors in the aftertaste. Young wine that already offers a great drinking pleasure. 91-92 points

Masi’s representative on the left

Masi Mazzano 2004

Deeper ruby red color. A balanced nose, round and developed with earthier aromas, mushrooms, dark and red cherry liquor and mintier aromas, sandal wood and cocoa. A full body wine, with a much sweeter sensation in the mouth than the Campolongo, very minty, with more aggressive tannins, flavors of red cherry liquor, mocha and earthy tones. The finish is long, the powerful tannins drying the mouth. A closed wine that comes a bit more rustic at this stage but having plenty of potential. 91 points

Masi Amarone Costasera Riserva 2006

Dark red velvet color. A sweet, round and developed nose. Taste is full body with plenty of ripe red fruits, black cherry liquor, mint, firm tannins and a long minty finish. A better value now that the 2004 Mazzano and a real favorite for most of the people tasting it. 91 points

At Planeta’s booth, the Sicilian wine producer, we tasted all their wines and the olive oil. I enjoyed the white Chardonnay and the red Bordeaux blend – Burdeos. The olive oil is spectacular as well.

places in Sicily where Planeta makes wine

At Piccini we tasted many Brunello’s and IGT wines from different vintages, including a new wine made in an commercial International style from grapes coming from several geographical regions in Italy and blended as a table wine, that was just launched at the fair. The 2004 Brunello Riserva stood out in the group.

Other wines that impressed me were from Querciabella – most aged for 12-18 month in French oak,

wines from Tenuta di Trinoro – they also sell their wines en-primeur,

Castello dei Rampolla – stunning 2003 d’Alceo,

the producer Castello del Terriccio making the amazing Lupicaia and Tassinaia wines – young but really intense and powerful wines from 2006 and 2007,

Bricco dell Uccellone – all their wines are really good and the owner was priding herself with the Romanian skilful workers she employs both in the basic labor, as in the management and wine making process. I felt really good hearing such kind words coming from an important Italian producer about Romania and Romanians.

The most inspiring wines for me were the Barolo’s I tasted in the Piedmont section. Overall there is great quality and homogeneity in most of the wines tasted from the vintage 2004. This is an area I would surely love to visit and explore during a vacation.

There are a few important things to say after this experience. Any wine lover should seriously consider visiting any of the big International wine fairs that take place every year in Europe: Prowein in Germany, Vinitaly in Italy, Vinexpo in Bordeaux or the one in London. It is a great experience that is worth living. However, more than just a day should be allocated in order to properly and peacefully taste most of the wines and visit all the producers. For me spending only one day was a real marathon but I am still grateful I managed to taste, as mentioned before, over 300 wines.

Italy is a country with hundreds of years of history in wine making and that is a fact. The size of this fair, the big number of producers and visitors that attend this fair each year are a clear proof of how important the wine is, in this country. Hopefully, Romania will manage to emulate the same culture for wine widespread among its citizens as the Italians have at a certain point in the future. Let’s hope that future is close enough.

For more pictures from my Vinitaly 2011 experience please go here.

Thanks for reading!

Categories: People in wine bus
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