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Lacerta’s new wines

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Lacerta launched their new wines today at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bucharest. Mr Walter Friedl introduced the new wines and also made a brief review of last year’s activity and the forecast for this year. Overall the winery has 82 ha and they increased production from 50.000 to 150.000 bottles, estimating EUR 1 Million revenues for 2012. They will also start the export of their wines this year.

They launched many new wines, most of them are mono-varietals:

– 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva aged for 12 months in new French oak: fresh, interesting, lively, balanced and pure grapefruit aftertaste. 14.5% alc

2010 Chardonnay Reserva aged for 12 months in new French oak: fresh, aromas of banana, butter, nice nose. Lively palate, round and slight bitterness in the aftertaste. Nicely balanced. 14.8% alc

–  2011 Rheinriesling: better balance, not the fat wine it was in 2010. Alcohol above 14.5%.

2011 Rose Riviera shows delicate red fruit aromas and can be easily paired with Mediterranean food.

–  2010 Cuvee IX: it no longer contains Shiraz in the blend. The current blend is Cabernet Sauv, Merlot, Feteasca Neagra and Blaufränkisch. The most powerful wine of the reds, already developed on the nose, it shows sweet aromas of red fruits and plum while flavors stay in the mouth long after you sip.

– 2010 Pinot Noir aged for 12 months in oak. A very young wine, elegant, mouth-filling, with intense red fruit aromas and long aftertaste. This can evolve really well in time.

– 2010 Feteasca Neagra aged for 14 months in oak, already developed on the nose, elegant, delicate, balanced, lively and really nice. Everything seems to be well blended even at this stage. Another very interesting Feteasca Neagra I have lately. Again, flavors stay in the mouth long after you take a sip.

2010 Blaufränkisch aged as well for 12 months in oak. A developing sweet nose.

I believe that none of the wines has less than 13.8% alcohol, however they seem to have enough fruit and structure to blend well the alcohol. I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc Reserva as it manages to show both freshness and complexity, and the Feteasca Neagra which I believe it has a great drink-ability and intense aftertaste. A few months of bottle age can only make all these wines taste better.

last picture courtesy of Vinul.ro

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Categories: Romania

An epic Sunday

February 27, 2012 1 comment

Yesterday I was invited by a group of friends to meet for a cooking session at somebody’s home. As one of the guys is a passionate hunter and as he recently attended a hunting session, the plan was to prepare fresh sausages made of wild boar, wild rabbit and domestic pig meat. It did not take a lot of time to mince the meat, put all the necessary spices and in no time the sausages were ready to be fried. I have to give full credit for preparing these delicious sausages to Dani and Vlad. Not too fat as there was a high proportion of game used, yet not too dry. Just the way we like it.

There was a serious line up of wines that we enjoyed over a 6 hours lunch turned dinner session. We started with a 2010 Stirbey Cramposie Selectionata, vibrant, showing a good minerality, but somehow more restrained in aromas than I remember it. Good to prepare the palate for the next wine. (82-83/100)

We poured the 2005 Ravanes Le Renard Blanc in a decanter and left it in the fridge for about 45 minutes. It’s been almost two years since my last meeting with this wine. This is usually a blend of 70% Grenache gris and 30% Grenache blanc, aged for 8 months in French oak. Around 4500 bottles produced every year. The color is deep gold. The wine has a fully developed and intense nose, showing aromas of an aged wine and old cognac. The nose shows a really good complexity, as the Asian spices mix very well with vanilla, eau-de-vie, ripe yellow fruits, flowers, dry fruits and caramel. This is a massive, full bodied wine, that feels unctuous and rich on the palate. The flavors are ample in the mouth, however the wine seems slightly unbalanced, with the alcohol making its presence from time to time. The finish is medium plus long and very spicy with ginger-like spiciness and yellow ripe fruits. This is a wine that needs food to be paired with, as it will show nuances and better balance when matched correctly. One or two glasses of this fat wine are enough to put you in a contemplative mood. 14.5% alc (89/100)

We moved on to the next white, this time a Grosses Gewachs Riesling from Pfalz. The typical high acidity of the Riesling was welcoming.

The 2008 Philip Kuhn Steinbuckel GG Riesling shows good freshness, balance, a lively palate,with an off-dry sensation on the initial attack. There is a good mix of minerals, wet stone, warm rubber and flavors of melon, pineapple, peach and pear. The finish is medium with mouth-watering acidity and fresh citric fruit. We are back on form with this steely acidity. (89/100)

As the sausages were fried and ready to be served, we made our move to the first red of the line-up. We started with a Saint Emilion from 1998, a great vintage for the Right Bank.

The 1998 Chateau Grand-Mayne Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is a really youthful wine. The color is dark red garnet, with no signs of aging. The nose is fully developed and shows complexity. This wine is open for business. There are seducing mineral aromas of shaved pencils and ink very well blended with smoke, ripe black currant, dark plums, dark cherry, cranberry, cedar and tobacco. Full bodied, yet supple on the palate, the wine is well balanced, with ripe and well blended tannins, a vivid texture that coats the palate like velvet. Medium plus finish, fresh and lingering. Great and youthful. (92/100)

We moved next to another older vintage, yet younger than the Bordeaux, but this time from the Southern Rhone. 2000 was no blockbuster vintage in Chateuneuf du pape, but produced classic wines, characterized by mineral and fresh palates, with good aging capabilities.

The 2000 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reserve is a beauty. There is more freshness and balance in this wine than in any of the wines we had tonight, including the 1998 Grand Mayne. Popped after the Saint Emilion, I was expecting a powerful wine, but I could not be more wrong. Dark red-cherry color, the nose is fully developed and still youthful. Full bodied, supple, with ripe tannins, vibrant acidity and feather light texture in the mouth, this wine is a monument of balance and elegance. There are rich aromas of licorice, roasted herbs, fresh red fruits, pine needles, rosemary and ink, and yet none of them spike out, they just build together a harmonious profile. Long finish. There is depth and freshness. 13.5% alc (94/100)

We aimed to stay on the same line of freshness and easy drink-ability and we moved to a classic, old style Rioja.

This is Rioja at its best. The 1997 was no special vintage in Rioja, but the 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 is a really special wine. Red cherry color. Fully developed nose with really nice aromas of fried red bell peppers, dried tomatoes, orange peel, fresh ripe red fruits, tobacco and forest floor. Supple on the palate, with bright acidity, smooth texture, very lively and elegant. Well defined flavors and a medium plus, fresh finish, lingering. Very nice. (92/100)

As we were approaching the end of the evening, we shifted again to a white German Riesling.

2008 Weingut Johannishof Ruedesheim Berg Rottland Erstes Gewachs continues the Grand Cru Riesling saga. Pale yellow gold color. Very fresh nose, with warm rubber, apricot, pear, lime, basil and spices, the wine feels lively, with a certain off-dry sensation initially, but the mouth-watering acidity kicks in easily and gives this wine a lift. Medium plus finish, with yellow apples, lime and basil bites in the aftertaste. (89/100)

It is fair to say that by the time the Johannishof was served, my palate and my senses were kind of lowering their accuracy, so I might have rated lower the wine.

This was an extremely enjoyable SUN afternoon spent with friends, with hearty food and epic wines. My preferences were: 1. 2000 Pegau Cuvee Reservee, 2. 1998 Chateau Grand Mayne St-Emilion Grand Cru, 3. 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904, 4. 2008 Johannishof Ruedesheim Berg Rottland Erstes Gewachs, 5. 2005 Ravanes Le Renard Blanc and 2008 Kuhn Steinbuckel GG on the same level.

Davino Flamboyant 2007

February 23, 2012 8 comments

I wrote previously about Davino when I visited their winery in December and also when I attended a vertical tasting of 6 vintages of Domaine Ceptura Rouge at Vinexpert. The Flamboyant is the winery’s flagship red wine, a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Feteasca Neagra and Merlot, aged for up to 8-10 months in new Romanian oak barrels. The best barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon end up in this blend and in the more expensive Rezerva. I received this bottle as a sample from Mr Dan Balaban, Davino’s majority shareholder.

2007 Davino Flamboyant

Clean dark red garnet color. An intense and developing nose, with real complexity, the first thing that comes to mind is how youthful this nose feels like. The aromas of ripe red fruits that are very well represented: red currant, red cherry and raspberry, mix very well with additional aromas of sandalwood, mint, cinnamon, cloves and coffee bean. Full bodied yet supple on the palate, the wine shows a really velvety mouth-feel, a good structure, with incredible freshness and balance considering the 14.7% alcohol. The wine feels lively in the mouth with an elevated drink-ability. The finish is medium plus long, maintaining the same freshness, with lingering flavors of ripe red fruits and spices. The wine has a great potential for aging and, as much as right now the only thought that sticks to my mind is how youthful it is and that I should not have opened it, I’m glad I did and I can’t wait to try it in a few years again as the wine will evolve gracefully and gain more points. (91/100)

I find this style very similar to an Old School Left Bank Bordeaux. The balance and the freshness are really outstanding in this wine, with no signs of greenness and just ripe fruit at this stage.

Categories: Romania

Barolo, Barbaresco and two more wines

February 21, 2012 1 comment

These are some of the wines I had a few weeks ago, but somehow did not manage to put my tasting notes on the blog earlier.

2006 Serralunga d’Alba Barolo Fontanafredda

Dark ruby red color. Modest nose, developing, showing red fruits, spices and no Barolo rose petals or tar aromas. Full bodied and very tight on the palate, there is structure but not very enjoyable at the moment. Medium spicy finish and plenty of tannins. (86-87/100)

2005 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

Dark red garnet color. I enjoyed this wine on several occasions over the last 1 year, but it is the first time that I find it in such a closing stage, with dusty and firmer tannins. The fruit is still there, so is the mild stinky Brett and spices, but the wine does not seem to deliver the same drinking pleasure. Tighter palate, with biting tannins on the finish. (87/100)

2007 Beronia Reserva Rioja

Dark red-purple color. Sweet nose, oaky, with ripe cranberry, red cherry and plenty of vanilla, a fruit forward, very New World and “in your face” nose. Oaky on the palate and very little Rioja character. For me a disappointing wine, seems too extracted and oaky. Other people may find it more appealing. I remember liking more the 2006 version of this wine. (82/100)

2006 Barbaresco Costerubin Fontanafredda

Dark ruby red color. Also  a developing and discreet nose, with sweet red fruits, licorice, tar and spices. Firm and drying tannins, full bodied, tight, with a medium finish and more drying tannins. Difficult to enjoy now. (87/100)

Categories: Italy, Spain

1974 and 1996 red Burgundies

February 19, 2012 1 comment

I had dinner on SAT with a good friend, a big fan of old wines as well. We spoke about our meeting a few days in advance and knowing what the wines and the vintages will be, my expectations grew by the hour. I was eager to get to my friend’s house as early as possible to uncork the wines and prepare them for drinking using a slow oxygenation in the bottle for a few hours.

I arrived around 7 pm, a bit later than initial planned, uncorked the wines and while we prepared the meal, left the wines to slowly breathe and open up. The meal was not a Pinot Noir classic dish, but it paired fairly well with the wines. We prepared foie-gras poele as my friend had an entire foie-gras ready to be fried, with medium rare veal steak, Basmati rice mixed with French butter with Piment d’Espelette (a variety of chili pepper that is cultivated in the French commune of Espelette, Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and a mix of green salads. Comfort food for still a cold day in Bucharest.

We had two Burgundies: a 1974 Clos de Vougeot and a 1996 Corton.

It was a bit of a challenge to uncork this wine. I cleaned very well the head of the bottle as there was plenty of dirt under the capsule, tried to use the corkscrew, but the cork was easily pushing down the bottle when I attempted to stick the corkscrew in the cork. As I was afraid the cork would go in the bottle, some different approach had to be taken. So the solution we found handy, was to use a regular screw to somehow mobilize the cork and then use the corkscrew. The solution was efficient and as much as the cork was completely soaked with wine and it actually broke in two, I managed to pull out all the remaining pieces without any drops in the bottle. A successful extraction that took about 15 min.        

1974 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Jean Grivot

This bottle had an absolute perfect fill level, a bit unbelievable I would dare to say. There was no sign of being corked either.

Ruby red with an orange-brick rim color and cloudy. Completely developed and mature nose, there are only tertiary aromas left, the fruit is completely gone and smelling this wine you cannot think that you are already too late. There are aromas of coffee, old leather, tobacco, sometimes dried figs, but quickly vanishing and tar. Medium to full body, the wine confirms again that is completely mature and on a downhill slope for several years, with completely integrated and dissolved tannins, it is only the acidity that still keeps this wine together. The finish is short to medium, with pronounced flavors of tobacco, black tea and Ristretto bitterness, and a drying mouth sensation. This wine passed its peak many years ago and it is now just a modest shadow of a potentially good wine that it might have been once. (83/100)

There was absolutely no problem uncorking the 1996 Corton.

1996 Corton Grand Cru Louis Latour

The fill level was flawless.  Clean, ruby red, cherry color.  Well developed and mature nose, with aromas of sour red cherry, new leather, green coffee bean and mint, adding earth and tobacco as it aerates. The nose has a decent complexity and is rather ethereal. Full bodied, the wine has a high acidity that provides structure and makes it very easy to drink, completely dissolved tannins, a lively palate and a medium finish with flavors of light sour red cherry, coffee bean and earth. This wine is now almost completely losing the fruit and evolves towards more pronounced tertiary aromas. The mint takes on the front stage on the aromas profile. It can still last 5-7 years easily but probably with no more fruit. (86/100)

We also had some appetizers that were served with a small 0.375 cl bottle of 2007 Joseph Drouhin Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons that, when too cold, seemed a bit monolithic but, as it got warmer, it started to develop very nice chalky minerality mixed with chamomile, lemon and a bit of honey aromas. A pleasant acidity and a fresh, lifting finish. (87/100)

the main dish

As much as the wines did not put an unforgettable show, it was a great evening spent with friends and we will always remember the trouble of how we opened the 1974 Clos de Vougeot. It’s all in the details.

We finished the evening with a glass of 1998 Chateau de Laubade Armagnac to clean all the grease of the foie-gras poele.

Categories: Burgundy, France

2011 Solo Quinta Recas

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Solo Quinta is Recas winery’s flagship white wine and since its first edition it prove to be a blockbuster wine when it comes to sales, the stock being depleted many months before the new vintage is released. Usually a blend of four white grapes: Chardonnay, Muscat, Feteasca Regala and Sauvignon Blanc, blended with the juice of a fifth red grape that is vinified in white. The red grape varies every year. For the 2011 edition Recas chose the Syrah/Shiraz grape. Also the 2011 has a big portion of Chardonnay: as far as I understood almost 80% of the blend. Nor the final blend, nor the juice from the separate grape varieties see oak treatment. The aim is freshness and purity of the fruit.

2011 Solo Quinta Recas

Pale yellow lemon color. As much as this version has a dominant Chardonnay component, the wine preserves its very sweet, candied like aromas similar to its previous versions. Yellow flowers, Muscat aromas, peach, melon and plenty of other sweet yellow fruits make the nose. Full bodied, the wine compensates all those ultra-sweet aromas with a bright acidity, a lively palate and very good freshness. Medium and fresh finish. As much as I find the nose ultra-sweet and going too much on the candy like profile, it is hard not to enjoy this wine. (88-89/100)

*the picture is courtesy of Fabiola Cazan and Cazan cu vin

Categories: Romania

Champagne Veuve Fourny Cuvee R L’Opulence Extra-Brut Vertus

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

This is the second Champagne I have from Veuve Fourny and it is as impressive as the Rose I had. The Cuvee R is one of their two wines that see oak treatment. Mainly Chardonnay with topping of Pinot Noir, this wine is aged in oak barrels during the making process.

Champagne Veuve Fourny Cuvee R L’Opulence Extra-Brut Vertus

Bright yellow lemon color with perfectly formed foam and rich smooth bubbles. A really fresh and complex nose, it is surprising how well the oak is blended and how it just creates the right stage for the fruit to act. There are aromas of fresh grapefruit, lemon, green apple, brioche, baked apples and wet chalk. Almost opulent in the mouth, but yet somehow manages to be weightless, with a steely backbone of acidity, very pleasant mouth-feel, really focused on the palate, with a fresh finish combining flavors of minerals, spices and citrus fruit. Just as the Rose did, but perhaps at a more demanding level, this Cuvee R needs food and it actually shows even more depth and richness in the company of a bird with white sauce. There is little to no dosage in this Champagne, but the wine is in no way aggressive or too extreme. Just a really good Champagne. (92/100)

Categories: Champagne, France
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