The International wine round table Bucharest Ep 2
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!