Archive for December, 2011

Year end reflections – highlights of 2011

December 31, 2011 1 comment

Looking back at what 2011 meant for me, from a wine related perspective, I can only be grateful and cherish all those special moments I lived visiting exciting places, attending interesting wine tastings and meeting amazing people in Romania and abroad.

I visited 15 wineries in 4 wine regions from 2 different countries – France and Italy, plus the 7-8 visits to Romanian wineries(Lacerta’s new winery is the most exciting of all with its modern design). I am looking forward to visit Avincis in 2012, as they also built a state of the art winery.

The wine trips started in April with a visit and a dinner at Masi in Veneto, then immediately followed by a weekend spent in Champagne where I could only visit Moet Chandon’s cellars, but also the small Grand and Premier Cru producing villages; in June I managed to visit 9 prestigious producers in Bordeaux – with emphasize on Petrus and the stunning lunch at Cheval Blanc, the others were: Ducru Beaucaillou, Figeac, Leoville Poyferre, Gloria, St-Pierre, Pontet Canet and Cos d’Estournel; in September I was impressed by the gorgeous landscape of Barolo while visiting Luciano Sandrone, Cavallotto and G.D. Vajra, and Braida in Asti area.

I attended two International wine fairs: Vinitaly in Italy in April and Vinexpo in Bordeaux in June that completely changed my perspective of what a wine fair experience should be and, sadly, also made me realize how far away we are from having a similar situation in Romania at this moment.

I visited the impressive cellars of two negociants: one in Bordeaux with over 4 Million bottles that is just like a Bank dealing with a different currency, sometimes more valuable, and one in Belgium that works strictly with rare and old vintages of both Burgundy and Bordeaux. It is always exciting for a wine geek to see piles of cases of the most sought after wines – Petrus, Romanee Conti or 100+ years old Yquem in one single place.

I attended several Wine-dinners in Bucharest with older vintages of Bordeaux and Spanish wines and, in December, I actually organized such an event myself. Always nice to meet new people having the same passion and I am certainly looking forward to repeat this experience in 2012 as often as possible.

I had a few articles published in the Romanian wine magazine about my wine trips (here and here) and the investment in wine, the monthly wine recommendations, and also an interview structured as the portrait of a wine collector published by the Good Food magazine.

The number of wine events organized in Bucharest increased exponentially compared to 2010, ranging from launching of new local and imported wines, new wineries and verticals of several years organized by the very few producers that can do that. However, the most distinguished of all was the event organized by Le Manoir, where major International wineries had representatives showcasing their wines during dedicated seminars. It was a first to see La Spinetta, Ch Canon and Rauzan Segla, all Joseph Drouhin’s range of wines, Michel Rolland collection presented by his son in law, Michel Redde, Ch Laubade and some similar producers present in one single room in Bucharest. A similar event was organized later by the importer of Banfi wines, but at a much smaller scale.

While writing this article, I made an attempt to establish a top of the wines I had during this year, but it was impossible to do it. There were so many outstanding wines that it would take too much time to even try to make it. I started to enjoy more and more older vintages and I made a new year resolution to drink wines that are at least 4-5 years old. Ideally, starting from their 6-8th year from the vintage.

There is however one wine that I particularly enjoyed while having lunch at Cheval Blanc: the 1996 Chateau d’Yquem that, so far, is the best sweet wine I had. I am just glad that this year I had wines from 1966, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990 and a few more recent vintages. I can just hope that next year brings at least similar experiences.

To finish on the same note as the beginning of this article, I am grateful for all these experiences shared with special people and all those amazing wines I had.

Happy New Year and all the best to you dear Reader !

1999 Chateau Musar rouge

December 27, 2011 1 comment

Just had the 2003 Chateau Musar rouge a couple of weeks ago, so the memory of that wine is still fresh in my mind and I am able to compare the two vintages. Both wines maintain the same style, but what this 1999 brings to the table is a more pronounced old sock – brett like aroma that just gives more complexity to this extremely charming and easy to drink wine. Also, the 1999 seems more youthful, while the 2003 appears to be more evolved and probably will hit its maturity plateau sooner.

1999 Chateau Musar rouge Bekaa Valley Lebanon

Ruby red with garnet hues and really youthful.  Well developed and intense nose, there are aromas of cinnamon, earth, sweet red cherry and strawberry, anise and Brett. Overall, a very sweet and spicy nose. Medium to full bodied, really silky, with a great mouth feel, lively and rich on the palate, extremely drinkable, with sweet  and ripe tannins. There are beautiful pure sweet red cherry and warm forest floor flavors, mixed with exotic spices in the mouth. Medium to long finish, with lingering sweet red fruits and spices in the aftertaste. What seduces me at this wine are the similarities it shares with an old Pinot Noir and the absolute purity of the sweet red fruit. Loved it.  I can drink this all day. (92/100)

Categories: Lebanon

2004 Enrique Foster Malbec Limited Edition

December 27, 2011 1 comment

This is the oldest Argentinian Malbec I had so far and it was a big curiosity for me to see how a New World wine evolves with age. The wine is dominated by primary aromas an there is no sign of evolution. My knowledge so far with these type of New World wines is that they cease any particular evolution after their 4th or 5th year from the vintage and what happens is that eventually, the wine dries out, losing the sweet, fruity aromas that usually dominate them, leaving very little that can excite the palate. Naturally, the exceptions can be interesting to sample.

2004 Enrique Foster Malbec Limited Edition

Dark red purple color and really thick legs on the glass. A very complex nose, complex, well developed and oaky, peppery, a mix of black fruits, coffee and floral. Full bodied, heady and super concentrated, with depth on the palate and rich flavors of black fruits jam, ripe blackberry, cranberry and gooseberry, with touches of coffee and pepper; very ripe and velvety tannins, but also a good grip just to give enough freshness and stop it from being a massive fruit bomb. Sumptuous palate. There is good balance and real complexity in this wine. A long finish with rich flavors of black fruits and spice with assertive tannins. (91/100)

Categories: Argentina

2006 Davino Domaine Ceptura Rouge

December 27, 2011 1 comment

Received this bottle from Mr Dan Balaban while visiting the winery in December and had it with some friends on the second day of Christmas at their home. Popped and poured in the glasses where the wine rested for 15-20 minutes before sipping. The 2006 is virtually out of stock at Davino and now can be the last chance for anyone interested to grab some bottles to act. A predominantly Feteasca Neagra blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged for up to 10 month in new Romanian oak.

2006 Davino Domaine Ceptura Rouge

Red garnet color. The nose is developed, youthful and has a medium intensity, with plenty of small red berries, spices: cinnamon, cloves and a touch of dried herbs; still very primary. Full bodied, with assertive tannins and pleasant flavors on the palate, with a medium minty finish. The wine does not have a particular high complexity, but it delivers. (87/100)

My favorite still remains the 2004 Domaine Ceptura Rouge that I had the chance to sample during a vertical tasting of six vintages organized in December by Mr Dan Balaban and Vinexpert.

Categories: Romania

2006 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese

December 27, 2011 1 comment

Wehlener Sonnenuhr is without doubt regarded as one of the best white vineyards in the world. And although many other well-known producers own land here as well, this site is intrinsically linked to the name Joh. Jos. Prum. This wine-grower dynasty can be traced back to the twelfth century.

2006 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese

Although an Auslese is recommended to be approached only after 8-10 years after the vintage, I just could not wait to check out how the wine is. Yellow lemon with green reflections, a very youthful color. There is incredible richness on the nose, with very strong aromas of petrol, warm rubber, pineapple, quince, yellow tropical fruits and Asian spices. Unctuous on the palate, with an oil like viscosity, with rich layers of flavors on the palate, delicate fruit and an outstanding balance between beguiling sweetness and intoxicating, mouth-watering acidity. The finish is long and goes on forever with lingering flavors of lemon confit and honey. With just feather-light alcohol- 8%, there is nothing else that one may claim from such an excellent white wine. Concentrated juice. (93-94/100)

This is a wine that can equally pair foie gras and very sweet desserts. It went extremely well with Christmas cake and other sweet home made cookies, being the highlight of a Christmas meal with family.

Categories: Germany

1998 Chateau Grand Mayne St-Emilion

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

1998 was a successful vintage on the Right Bank and some wines started to drink very well already.

1998 Chateau Grand Mayne Saint Emilion

Red garnet color, very youthful. A well developed nose with a pinch of old cellar and a mix between primary and secondary aromas, with nice aromas of dry plums, roasted coffee, dried herbs, cassis and tobacco. A supple wine, well structured, but still retained on the palate with mouth-watering acidity and a medium plus finish that breathes mocha, red fruits and tobacco. It has a great drink-ability and can easily go very well on its own. (89/100)

Categories: Bordeaux, France

1970 Chateau Soutard St-Emilion

December 27, 2011 3 comments

The cork went out fairly smooth, but was stubborn and did not want to come in one piece. Luckily no piece of the cork fell in the bottle. After uncorking I just left it to breath for 30 minutes in the bottle.

1970 Chateau Soutard Saint Emilion Bordeaux

Clear ruby red with an orange rim. Mature nose, there are light red currant and sour cherries, with plenty of tertiary aromas: saddle leather, green coffee bean, tobacco, mint and earth, but savoury overall. Fully mature wine with completely dissolved and integrated tannins, but very well balanced, with good flavors on the palate and a medium plus finish with plenty of espresso like flavors. Elegant, but on a descending slope; however it can hold on this plateau for a few good years more and still offer great drinking pleasure. Silky and charming mouth-feel. (88-89/100)

Not a wine for fruit-forward wine lovers, but recommended for people that love a wine that whispers rather than shouts. 1970 was a great vintage, more successful on the Right Bank than the Left Bank. Still impressive,fragrant wine.

Categories: Bordeaux, France

2009 Meursault Joseph Drouhin

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Yellow lemon color.

Developed and intense nose, really oaky and still in need of some years to rest, with distinctive aromas of butter on a fresh toast, sprinkled with lemon confit and discreet quince.

Full bodied, fat and almost unctuous on the palate, oaky, with bright acidity and a medium plus finish with honey, vanilla, hot rocks and lemon like flavors in the aftertaste. Very good match for foie gras as we had it tonight. (90-91/100)

Categories: Burgundy, France

2007 La Porte du Ciel Chateau de la Negly

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I got this wine during my trip to Bordeaux in June 2011. During that trip, I was able to schedule a meeting with one of the key figures in the International wine business: Mr Jeffrey Davies. Together with the winemaker of Chateau de la Negly (La Porte du Ciel is Negly’s top wine) – Claude Gross, Mr Davies makes a special cuvee called: Clos de Truffieres from extremely low yields of Syrah. Both La Porte du Ciel and Clos des Truffieres are 100% Syrah cuvee’s, but coming from totally different micro-climates.

Mr Davies is a complete encyclopedia about wines, new rising star wineries and more important he is actively looking to discover and develop new ventures in the most interesting wine regions in France. Together with Claude Gross, they are behind the new rising star of Languedoc in Terrasses du Larzac: La Peira.

I met Mr Davies at his residence in Bordeaux in June. I have to confess that even for a wine geek like myself it is difficult to grasp all the flux of information about what’s the scoop in Bordeaux that this gentleman kindly provided. After leaving his place I was somehow feeling that I read a whole book on wine in just a short period of time.

Coming back to the wine I had yesterday, the wine comes from yields of 10 to 12 hl/ha, under-goes a long 60 days maceration and it is aged for 24 months in new French oak barrels. The wine is bottled unfiltered.

2007 was an amazing vintage in the Southern part of France, producing wines with very ripe tannins and really approachable while still young, but also high alcohol levels. The 2007 La Porte du Ciel sports 15% alcohol.

2007 La Porte du Ciel Chateau de la Negly La Clape Languedoc

Opaque, purple, almost black color. The nose is well developed, with very intense aromas and springs an incredible depth. You can easily feel the aromas invading the room without even approaching the glass. There are strong aromas of smoked plum, bacon, meat, blackberry liquor and creme de cassis, cocoa, truffles and balsamic notes, while the nose continues to open up and develop more complexities. This full bodied wine starts with a sweet initial attack in the mouth, and has ripe and healthy tannins, just as we like them, a velvety mouth-feel, with very thick layers on the palate. The wine seems slightly off-balanced initially, with the alcohol marking its presence in the mouth on the first sip, but with aeration this sensation fades away and leaves space for the complex flavors to show off on the palate. As much as the wine is rich and super concentrated, it manages to stay well balanced after enough aeration. The finish is very long and surprisingly fresh, with assertive tannins and tones of roasted coffee,cocoa and balsamic reduction that simply linger in the mouth good seconds after you swallow the wine. (93/100)

This wine needs bottle aging and compared to the 2002 La Porte du Ciel I had one year ago, I have to say that I prefer the 2002 more at this stage. The flavors seems better integrated and more balanced in the 2002.

Cateva expresii aromatice din Piemont

December 21, 2011 1 comment

Acesta este titlul ultimului meu articol publicat in revista si relateaza cele cateva zile pe care le-am petrecut in regiunea Piemont din Italia in Septembrie. Sunt punctate succint vizita si pranzul cu Raffaella Bologna la Braida si vizitele la GD Vajra, Cavallotto si Luciano Sandrone.

Puteti citi intregul articol accesand acest link.

Davino Domaine Ceptura Rouge vertical of six vintages: 2004 – 2009

December 17, 2011 6 comments

Dan Balaban, Davino’s major shareholder, and Vinexpert organized on THU evening a unique vertical tasting of five vintages of Domaine Ceptura Rouge. I say unique because there are just very few wineries that made wines that lasted over the years or still have a stock of older vintages.  I know Serve did it with Cuvee Charlotte 2002 – 2008 and Vinarte with Merlot Matei 1998 – 2006/2007 if I am not wrong. The steepest leap in quality was made in Romania only after 2005 when there was quite a boom in new premium wines released and quality focused wineries launched. Therefore, it is very rare to see and actually be able to attend such events in Romania. I am sure that in 5-6 years from now such events will happen more often, or at least I hope so. For now, the Davino’s event had a limited attendance due to the scarcity of older vintages available.

Mr Balaban conducted the wine tasting and explained very well the story of the winery and the work they did every year in order to show progress. This progress was made not only because of maturing vines capable of providing better fruit with each new vegetative cycle, but also because they gained better understanding of each parcel of vines they own with every new harvest. For more information about the winery please visit my previous article about my visit at Davino.

The vertical tasting started from the oldest vintage to the newest. Unfortunately 2003 was not available anymore. At the winery there are only about 120 bottles left of 2004 that are reserved strictly for such events. There is the same situation for 2005 or 2006. This event brought also a premier as we had the chance to taste en-primeur the 2009 vintage that will be released in the second part of 2012 the earliest. Domaine Ceptura Rouge is usually released on the market only after two years of aging in the bottle and it is a blend of predominantly Feteasca Neagra with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot aged for 8 to 10 months in new Romanian oak barrels. The oak used is from from the South, around Valcea. How were the wines ?

2004 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

8.950 bottles made. Yields of 1440 l/ha for Feteasca Neagra(FN), 1780 l/ha for Merlot(M), 1210 l/ha for Cabernet Sauvignon(CS).  14.1% alc

Ruby red color with a brown tinge. Well developed and maturing nose, with seducing aromas of truffles, dried mushrooms, leather, dried leaves mixed with primary-red fruit aromas and mint. Velvety mouth feel with completely melted tannins and enticing purity of sweet red cherry, raspberry and strawberry, mixed with tobacco and spice. Not a long finish but a really nice wine. A mature wine at its peak. Can hold on this plateau for at least 1-2 years more and offers great drinking pleasure at this stage. (91+/100) for the purity of fruit.

2005 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

19.488 bottles made. Yields of 1240 l/ha FN, 1130 l/ha CS, 1580 l/ha M. 14.1% alc

Ruby red with light brick rim. A developed nose, with sweet red fruit, mint, earthy. A firmer tannins grip, but still very pleasant mouth-feel and elegant overall. Chewy tannins on the finish with flavors of smoky plum in the aftertaste. (86/100)

2006 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

26.950 bottles made. Yields: 1780 l/ha total production. 14.1% alc

Youthful ruby red-garnet color. Well developed nose, with more pronounced Cab like aromas, light green bell pepper, leather, spices and generous red and black fruit. Definitely more concentrated than the ’05, there is better intensity of flavors, but maintains a pleasant mouth-feel with round and integrating tannins. Medium plus finish with chewy tannins and very spicy. (89/100)

2007 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

29.743 bottles made. Yields: 1870 l/ha overall. 14% alc.

Youthful red garnet color. Developed nose, well mastered oak, but retaining the mark of the hot ’07 vintage: aromas of very ripe fruits, figs, cloves, cinnamon and somehow still being able to preserve freshness. Firm chewy tannins on the finish, less generous on the palate compared with ’06, but finishing spicy and mineral. (88/100)

2008 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

29.412 bottles made. Yields: 1780 l/ha overall. 14.4% alc.

Red garnet-purple color. Youthful and developing nose, showing plenty of primary aromas of ripe red and black fruit, figs mixed with spices: cloves and cinnamon. More concentrated and rounder than the ’07, tight and a bit oaky, well balanced, with a medium plus finish. A very young wine that needs a few more years of bottle aging. (89+/100)

2009 Domaine Ceptura Rouge

Almost opaque red garnet-purple color. Already a well developed and gorgeous nose with brooding complexity. There is a mix of smoky plum, ripe fruit, spice and truffles that is really enticing. Well balanced, with a great tannins backbone that promises a long aging potential, the wine is tight as a rock on the palate. The finish is long with lingering spicy and fruity flavors. This will start to be more open in 3-4 years and has potential to last longer than any of the older vintages. (91/100)

According to Mr Balaban 2009 vintage was the best in the last 30 years for Dealu Mare. So naturally there are high expectations from this wine to prove itself in time.

As conclusions: one can notice the consistency of a style that aims for balance more than anything else. As much as the last vintages bring more intensity of flavors and appear to be fuller and rounder, all the wines tasted show a continuation of the same desired equilibrium. Nothing seems to be out of its place and the future wine seem to confirm this path.

Categories: Romania

Visit at Davino

December 12, 2011 4 comments

Davino is one the first Romanian wineries that made an important move a few years ago and started to sell their wines only through the HORECA network. Therefore, the end consumer is able to find its premium wines only in selected restaurants and specialized wine shops. Davino is like a closed fortress when it comes to visits: very few people – only the important clients and seldom wine press related persons –  manage to get the chance to visit the winery. The reason for this, as explained by Mr Dan Balaban – Davino’s main owner – is the fact that all visits are conducted either by Mr Bogdan Costachescu – the winemaker and also an associate, either by Mr Balaban himself, therefore the time reserved for visits is very limited. The acquisition of two old lordly houses in the area creates the premises for this situation to change in the near future, once the properties are renovated.

I managed to visit Davino’s winery at their present location on Dec 10 together with Nicusor Cazan. Initially scheduled to be hosted only by the winemaker Mr Costachescu, we were shortly joined by Mr Balaban during our visit.

The property was started in late ’90s, the first wine released as Davino was the 2000 vintage and now owns about 50 ha of vineyards in Dealu Mare. Mr Costachescu joyfully explained that he was about to permanently leave for Canada when he was approached by Mr Balaban with the plan to build the winery together. During the first couple of years since inception, they were buying grapes from different private growers in the area to make the wine, a situation that changed dramatically with their new acquisitions of land and plantations of selected clones over the last years. They still have contracts with a small number of growers from the area that have to follow their instructions during the year in order to maintain a quality level for the grapes they buy.

In the winery, they use strictly new Romanian oak barrels: for whites Romanian oak from the North, as it tends to give more pronounced oaky flavors, and for the reds oak from the South, as it tends to be more discreet. It’s only recently that they produced a barrel aged white wine (2009 Davino Reserva alb – blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Italian Riesling aged for 6 months in new Romanian oak barrels), most of their whites are fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The top whites produced by Davino are Domaine Ceptura Blanc(Sauv Blanc/Feteasca Alba/Italian Riesling), Sauvignon Blanc Edition Limitee, Alba Valahica(100% Feteasca Alba), Revelatio(Sauvignon Blanc/Feteasca Alba) and the barrel aged Davino Reserva alb.

The reds are aged for 6 to 8 months in new oak barrels and then aged for another 2 years in bottle prior to their release. The top reds produced are Domaine Ceptura Rouge – a predominantly Feteasca Neagra blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Purpura Valahica (100% Feteasca Neagra) and their flagship wine Flamboyant, a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Feteasca Neagra and Merlot. They also started recently to produce a red Davino Rezerva in a more concentrated style. There is a rose wine made under the Domaine Ceptura Rose label, usually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Feteasca Neagra and Merlot.

As an example for the commitment for quality, Mr Costachescu mentioned that they use five different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon planted on different regions in Dealu Mare from which they select the best result for the top wines. The yields are usually fairly low for all of the wines in the Domaine Ceptura category: 10-15 hl/ha for the whites and 14-18 hl/ha for the reds.

Most of the wines have powerful visuals on their labels and can be easily distinguished from any lineup. Mr Balaban, an important art lover and collector, had numerous collaborations with prestigious Romanian painters for many of his limited released wines.

Sorin Ilfoveanu signed all these labels

During the visit in the winery, I got to taste several of their 2011 whites from tanks and barrels. I tasted two 2011 Sauvignon Blanc’s that will most likely be blended to make the Edition Limitee cuvee and the wines are already extremely promising – especially a SB from 25-30 years old vines that pleasantly surprised me with its intense aromas and concentration on the palate. I also tasted the wines that will make up the Davino Rezerva alb: a Sauvignon Blanc that was already in barrel for 1 month and an Italian Rielsing that was in barrel for a shorter time. Even the Sauvignon Blanc that comes from very young vines and makes the cheaper Ceptura category shows a good potential.

Something that was very clearly stated by Mr Balaban is the improvement that can and will be seen each vintage in all of their wines due to increased maturity of the vines capable of producing better fruit every new year. The consumer experiences better wines now than any of the last vintages. It is important to mention that in 2008 there was no Flamboyant produced, all the fruit went into the Domaine Ceptura rouge, therefore an even higher step in quality was made for this wine.

In the tasting room we sampled five wines:

2010 Davino Sauvignon Blanc Edition Limitee is my favorite of their un-oaked whites. There is a level of concentration on the palate rarely seen in any other Romanian Sauvignon Blanc based white wines. Pale yellow-green color, the smoky aroma is really pronounced and steals the show on the nose. Other aromas remind of grapefruit, citric fruit and green herbs. Crisp and lively palate with a medium fresh finish. Yields of 13 hl/ha.

2009 Rezerva Alb shows a racy oak flavor and, perhaps not that intense, but it certainly reminds of a white Pessac Leognan. The wine has good richness of citric and stone fruit, green leaves, spice and oak flavors. A more complex wine than the Edition Limitee.

Domaine Ceptura Rouge 2008 has a dark red-purple color. Youthful and developed on the nose, the wine shows a spicy Feteasca Neagra character mixed with aromas of green peppercorn, dark chocolate, fresh red and blue fruits and smoked plums that remind of bacon. Medium plus bodied, the wine is very drinkable already showing good freshness and assertive tannins on the finish. Yields of 17,8 hl/ha.

Domaine Ceptura Rouge 2007 has a red garnet color. The nose is more evolved and already showing secondary aromas. Leather, herbs and fresh fruits make a very interesting bouquet. I did like the nose more in this 2007 than the 2008. However the wine is less intense in the mouth, with more mellow tannins and a shorter finish than its younger brother.

Flamboyant 2007 has a dark red-purple color and a great typical Cabernet Sauvignon character. Rich and well developed on the nose, showing also a light fruity sweetness, and aromas of green peppercorn, coffee, black currant and spices. Fuller mouth-feel than any of the two Domaine Ceptura Rouge tasted, powerful while preserving good freshness,  round, it feels a bit closed on the palate at this stage. Medium plus finish with assertive tannins and it needs some more time. Decanting is advisable. Yields of 14,5 hl/ha.

Based on the conversations with Mr Balaban and Mr Costachescu, one cannot neglect the passion that breathes from these two men when it comes down to their work. As much as the terroir is a key important part of making wine, there is also continuous research and development at this winery using state of the art technology for getting the best from the fruit harvested every year.

2001 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s more than one year since I last had this wine. Here is my previous comment on the wine. I know that 2001 was an excellent vintage in Rioja and Ygay is one of the acclaimed wines in the region.

2001 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Rioja

Blend of 93% Tempranillo and 7% Mazuelo, aged for 31 months in small American oak barrels. 14% alc

The wine has a red garnet color. The nose is well developed and oaky, still showing primary aromas, with plenty of red and black fruit jams, dry plums, spices and a touch of tobacco. In the mouth this is a completely different wine from what I remember: it gained a lot in body since my last taste, it feels almost full body; there are plenty of tannins, but they are ripe and pleasant. The wine is rich, almost concentrated on the palate, with considerable amount of flavors, showing power rather than elegance. The finish is medium plus long, fruity and spicy. This is coming as a modernist, concentrated wine, lacking the charming old school Rioja character that makes those wines so food-friendly. (90/100)

There is  a good potential for aging and, frankly speaking, aging for another 3-5 years should be mandatory for this wine.

Categories: Spain

Le Web Journal du Champagne No 3

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

For all fans of Champagne: 3rd number of the interesting French magazine Le Web Journal de Champagne is available for reading online. This number contains numerous articles about the bio dynamic viticulture in Champagne, a lot of tasting notes about exciting sparkling wines and a lot more interesting stuff.

Access the web magazine here.

Enjoy reading it !

Categories: France

Carbonnieux Blanc ’08, Musar ’03 and Cati ’09

December 3, 2011 2 comments

We haven’t seen our Greek friends for a long time and I was very excited to learn that we’ll meet them and have dinner together on FRI evening. We dinned at Crowne Plaza’s La Veranda, a place I start to enjoy more and more. The food was pretty good and it seems that pleased all of us. Our friends are really savvy when it comes to what are the best places to eat in town, so I was very content to learn that they did not visit this place lately and to see them enjoying the dishes.

I had my favorite appetizer from La Veranda: Ahi tuna tartar with sesame seeds and avocado that went pretty well with the 2008 Carbonnieux blanc – Champagne remains the ultimate best companion for this dish.  The second course was beef steak with king prawns, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and waxed green beans – I liked the combination of Shitaki-Champignon mushrooms, but the beef was a bit too cooked(I usually like my beef as bloody as possible). The beef was paired by Chateau Musar 2003. For dessert another all time favorite from La Veranda: crumble with quince and plum pulp served next to a Spatlese Riesling from Mosel with 9% alcohol, some residual sugar and plenty of acidity to balance it and give a sense of freshness. The other persons at the table had some sushi rolls made with some type of creamy cheese that was unusual and surprising, but very tasty.

2008 Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc Pessac Leognan

Blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, aged for about 12 months in French oak. I previously tasted the 2007 version of the same wine and enjoyed it a lot, so naturally I was very curious to see if the ’08 is as successful. It certainly is.

Medium yellow color with green reflections. Well developed and intense nose, exuberant, with aromas of smoke, honeysuckle, Indian spices, apricots and tropical fruits: pineapple, tangerine and very smart oak.  Medium body, bright acidity, lively palate, with very good freshness and intensity of flavors, the same exuberance as on the nose in a more condensed manner. The finish is medium to long, fresh and spicy. A beauty. (91-92/100)

2003 Chateau Musar Gaston Hochar red Bekka Valley

A legendary producer from Lebanon that I was eager to taste. 14% alc

Ruby red color with garnet reflections and very youthful. Well developed nose with very good intensity, a bit of rust before swirling the wine in the glass, but after that the wine gains completely new dimensions, with aromas of sweet red fruits: bright red and black cherry, red currant, raspberry, lots of spices, earth, licorice and tobacco. Medium plus bodied, with an extremely smooth texture and absolutely no hard edges. The tannins are ripe and well integrated, lively, showing good depth. On the palate: very minty, with flavors of bright red fruits, earth, spices and just a touch of Brett enough to make it interesting and show the Musar barnyard typical signature. Medium plus finish, with lingering flavors and spicy. This has an almost Pinot Noir purity of red fruit aromas and carries a Burgundian character that I find very seducing. I could drink this all day. (92-93/100)

2009 Cati Riesling Spatlese

Yellow lemon color with green reflections. The wine preserves the typical Mosel characteristics, with petrol, apricots and citric fruits. Full bodied, great acidity keeping the residual sugar in good balance, rich on the palate, with a medium finish and good freshness. Always a good choice to pair with a lighter sweet dessert. (88-89/100)

Our friends were delighted with the whites and fancied the red Lebanese wine as well. The red Musar has an extremely good drink-ability.

Categories: Bordeaux, France, Germany, Lebanon
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