Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

4 vintages of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment


It’s been a while since I posted on this blog even though my drinking habits grew and expanded with some serious wines. Just could not find the drive to write. This time however I felt compelled to share my experience drinking this absolutely exceptional vintages from Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou.

This is a producer that sits on top of my short list of Bordeaux producers, a winery that I visited in 2011 and was impressed over the last years by the continuous quality of its wines every single vintage. Even in 2013 that seems a bleak vintage for red Bordeaux, Ducru-Beaucaillou managed to produce a wine that is deemed to be the wine of the vintage.

Met last night with 6 friends at La Brasserie Bistro&Lounge in Herastrau to drink these wines. Initially the plan was to have only the 2005 and 2009 that were bought from a store in Monaco, but I volunteered to bring bottles of 2006 and 2010. The two bottles of 2005 and 2009 were uncorked at noon together with 2006, while the 2010 I uncorked personally around 18:30 and left to breath in a decanter until about 9:00 pm.

Just a few things before the tasting notes:

  • quality for Ducru-Beaucaillou is at its highest and it has been like this since 2003 when the new management team came on board.
  • the 2009 vintage got a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker and at its launch was the most expensive Ducru ever released.
  • 2010 was awarded a 98 points by Parker and 100 points by James Suckling. When it was released Bruno Borie made a brilliant move by releasing the wine 10% cheaper in price compared to 2009, giving more confidence to its buyers that it is a well established and customer concerned producer. I know this because I was in Bordeaux when it was released.
  • 2005 is a vintage that will be spectacular even over the next 20-30 years from now.

And now the wines:


The bottle of 2006 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou had a more than usual development and the wine felt 10-15 years older than it should actually be. This is not a general case for the 2006 Ducru as this wine can age. I had unfortunately the bad luck to purchase this particular faulty bottle. The wine shows over mature flavors and there is no point rating it as it is just an isolated case. NR


The 2005 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou is a completely different story and from now on things start to get spectacular. This 11 years old wine combines freshness, complexity of aromas that came with aging and fresh fruit, developing nuances with every second and every sip in the glass. Still a bit shy on the nose compared to 2009 or even 2010, but very complete and balanced in every single way. Tannin is polished and velvety and bites the gums only in the long finish, rich fruit merrily gives flesh to its strong tannin structure that does not interfere at all on the palate. Very long. (96-97/100)


2009 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou comes with fireworks, like a carousel that takes your senses to new highs when you least expect it and believe this is it, what else can it be ? This wine evolves in so many nuances as it sits in the glass and breathes that everybody was keeping their nose in the glass continuously like hunting dogs following the paths of their prey. It has everything: rich and lavish fruit, freshness, purity of aromas, complexity and depth, incredible depth actually. Taste is a symphony that swings again between rich sweet fruit, mineral freshness and rich sweet velvety tannin that pinches your gums from time to time just as a reminder of its greatness. This is a King-Kong wine. (99/100)


2010 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou would have certainly benefited from extensive aeration but it did not last much in the glasses. This was the biggest surprise of the night as it changed completely from the first to the last pour in the glasses. Initially shy and not very convincing on the nose, it did benefit from being served from Zalto Bordeaux Grand Cru glasses. Last 2 glasses were spectacular. There is certainly more minerality and freshness, and least lavish fruit here compared to 2009, but there is more precision, focus and intensity on the palate. This has a more classic Bordeaux side, where pencil shavings and paprika step a bit more forward, however fruit seems to be fresher and very well represented. More supple, cleaner, more precision and more serious on the palate. Gravelly tannin, rich red fruit, cassis, graphite, coffee, there are so many things happening here. Another kaleidoscope and multi layered wine that I somehow feel closer to my heart. Very, very long finish as well. (99/100)

There was another bottle of 2000 Vega-Sicilia Unico opened after this wines but it showed a more developed character than normal. I am sure it was just an isolated bottle, as another Unico 2000 that I had in September was excellent.

For food we had fresh pasta ravioli with funghi porcini and osso bucco with fresh shaved white truffles, risotto with funghi porcini, and New Zealand lamb chops. The pairing between 2005 Ducru and lamb chops was perfect. For me lamb and well aged Bordeaux is a match made in heaven.



Dinner with Dom P Rose, Pavie, Troplong Mondot and Krug

March 25, 2016 Leave a comment

IMG_20160324_203336Had dinner last night with a small crew of friends and between the 4 of us we shared some excellent wines. Started the night with Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee NV (I did not take a note of the ID sadly as Olivier Krug pointed to me early in the morning on Instagram) that is fresh and intense, showcasing great craftsmanship. It sports smoky citrus fruit, Granny Smith apple and fine pastry on the nose, and cleanse the mouth with razor sharp acidity and great freshness. Weightless on the palate in spite of its good intensity, it fades quickly from the glass. (94/100)


First red wine, 2001 Chateau Pavie, was decanted and aerated for about 2 h before being poured and it just got better with time in the glass. Very dark red garnet color. Initially a bit heady but quickly recovered and showed a complex and maturing but youthful nose filled with clean aromas of ink, plums, mint and cedar, later shifting to truffles. Beautiful nose. On the palate it is full and supple, gravely tannin still assertive on the finish, with good richness of texture, layers of blue fruit and mineral freshness. Long finish that lingers. This is superb today. (94-95/100)


A big surprise for me was Contador 2011, a Spanish red wine from Rioja that sells at super premium prices. It might have been too young today but I do not see the hype for it. The color is purple opaque. Nose is intense but today is too much oak influence. Rich aromas of dolce de lecce and Christmas cake cover any other aromas. It is smooth on the palate, with plenty of rich black fruit, and there is more focus here. Fairly long finish with dark chocolate and blueberry fruit. (91-92/100)


Popped and decanted on site with very little time to breath was the spectacular 2010 Chateau Troplong Mondot, a 99 points wine according to Robert Parker. The wine deserves it. This has a deep dark red garnet color. Nose is complex, youthful and so rich and intense. The wine states 16% alcohol on the back label but this is so well hidden and balanced under its rich layers of black fruit, fresh minerality and a skyscraper structure of smooth tannin, and every sip is like a revelation. Rich, heady, lavish sweet fruit, chocolate and ink on the palate, this is really good. Long finish. This might very well become a 100 points wine on the 10 years tasting from the vintage. (98/100)


There was a 2006 Chateau d’Yquem served from a half bottle but somehow it did not manage to find my glass. So last wine was Champagne Dom Perignon Rose 2003, a wine that I am personally worried how often I tasted this year. The inconvenient side is that every time it usually ends a long line of great wines and I cannot get the full grip of it. However, its vinosity is unquestionable, this is a wine especially designed for fine gastronomy. And considering its high price, how could that be different ? (96/100)


Ended the night sooner than other times but the two red Bordeaux wines were stunning and I am still thinking about them the second day.

Lovely lunch with 2 from Davino and a Vega-Sicilia Unico


Has a lovely lunch about 2 weeks ago with a couple of friends and tasted some top Romanian wines and an iconic Spanish wine from Vega-Sicilia. There is a huge gap price wise between these wines: Spanish vs Romanian, and one has to think thoroughly if it is worth it. I have a few friends that are Unico ambassadors by choice, but hey who wouldn’t like to drink Valbuena, Unico or Reserva Especial every day ?

Vega-Sicilia Unico 2007 was opened already for 24 h and 1 glass was taken out. So, properly aerated. Even at this stage the oak influence is quite assertive both on the nose and the palate. There is rich and elegant fruit here, it has depth on the nose, but it does not confirm yet the same sheer class on the palate. It is young but I do not see it at the same level as the 2000 or 2004. The oak flavors seem to upfront for now. (94/100)

Davino Flamboyant 2010 was decanted for about 45 minutes and drank over 1 h. Deep dark red color. Its aromatic profile resembles a Super Tuscan, with the sunny ripe and spicy black fruit. Rich on the palate, high tannin that needs big food to feel smooth, lots of black fruit and spicy. Medium to long finish. (92/100)

Davino Rezerva Red 2010 was also decanted for 45 minutes and drank over 2 h. This is closer to a Bordeaux. There is more freshness and red fruit here than in Flamboyant. It has a paprika, black currant and meat stock profile. A bit more flesh, refreshing tannin that seems to be smoother on the palate. Longer finish with lots of dark chocolate. Loved the freshness here. (93/100)


8 great wines

September 23, 2015 Leave a comment


Had dinner with friends last night at restaurant Joseph where I always return with great pleasure, especially with the same people from last evening. Our group of 10 had many persons from the West part of the country that were just visiting Bucharest. I was asked to make the wine selection for the night, which I did, and I proposed to serve them blind. My initiative was warmly welcomed so preparations had to be done: put foil on all bottles in a back room in the restaurant before all guests arrived.

What is nice about blind tastings is that it really gives a feeling of humbleness as you are put to test your knowledge and face your ego, but on the other hand it is good that is pushes one to pay attention to the wine, considerably more than if you would be just drinking the wine for dinner knowing what you taste. Unfortunately for me, I was the only one that knew what was in the glass. Each wine was revealed as it was served after discussions and last drops were poured. You would want to give everybody the chance to re-taste the wine as much as they wanted as long as it still was something left in the bottle. Then came the reckoning. And it came hard in a few cases.

IMG_20150923_141546There was a wine-food pairing made based on my vague inputs but very well mastered by one of the participants, Laci, and executed by chef Joseph Hadad.


First wine was Champagne Egly-Ouriet VP Grand Cru from a producer I adore. Some people said possibly Cava, some said definitely Champagne. Made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from Grand Cru parcels, this is kept for 78 months on the lees, and this bottle was disgorged January 2015. Medium yellow color it was served from white wine glasses that did not help the bubbles stay. Intense aromatics of citrus fruit, marzipan and yeast, it explodes in the mouth with youthfulness, tannin, citrus fruits and great acidity. Very tense, but well focused and robust. (94/100)

First white wine was a sudden addition and not put on the initial list. Some were mocking and said Liliac Sauv Blanc. It was not but we had fun. It means Liliac is doing a great marketing job if people talk about it.


2014 Gaia Thalassitis is a 100% Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece that exudes freshness. Very pale yellow color, the nose is a mix of lemons, smoke and schist. Sharp acidity and really bone dry, medium plus bodied, with chalky minerality finish. Very interesting wine and clear value for its price. (89/100)

Next white wine was on the menu and it was announced as a barrel aged wine. I informed that I was interested only for the region, country or grape variety. For each wine I informed if it was a single variety or a blend.


Just 2 barrels of Puligny-Montrached 1er Cru ‘La Garenne’ are produced by Henri Prudhon every year, which is usually aged 15 to 18 months in old wood. The 2010 Henri Prudhon Puligny-Montrached 1er Cru ‘La Garenne’ is a wine that needs to be served closer to 16 degrees than cold in order to open up and stir your senses. Medium yellow color it has a shy nose initially that does not really change much during the night. However the taste reveals its true essence and origin, through its vibrant stone fruit, tropical fruits and exotic oak flavors. Medium plus long, fresh and not entirely open yet. (91/100)


From all the wines I prepared for dinner, the first red of the night was the one I was eager to get reactions from. 2007 Stirbey Novac Art Deco was praised as an International wine. Great job Oliver Bauer !

Some people ventured to order 4 cases each of this wine if it was Romanian (mocking was part of the game this evening). Bottom line: it stood great next to the other red wines. Color was medium ruby color. Nose is quite intense with mature red fruit, spices and herbs, palate is supple, mellow tannin, bright acidity, and good lingering intensity. It is a wine of charm and elegance. A smart buy. (91/100)

Novac was served back to back with 2011 Robert Chevillon Nuits Saint Georges ‘Les Roncieres’, a Pinot Noir from 52 years old vines. Color is almost opaque ruby red. Nose has more intensity with fresh red cherry and red currant, stems and black tea. Fuller palate, smooth tannin, intense red cherry fruit, herbs and spices, medium finish. There was one lady that chose it as the Wine of the night and I can understand why: it is just flowing well in the mouth with its weightlessness. (92/100)

I have to point that pairing with beef tartar (with roasted pine seeds and lemon confit) is a brilliant match both for Novac and Pinot Noir. It leaves the refined aromas of these 2 delicate varietals to take center stage. One person said Novac in spite of others reluctance to that. More interesting some people said Merlot for Chevillon Nuits Saint Georges. Back to school !

Next wine is an absolute stunning discovery for me. If all Crianza ages like this, I am sucker for it. Many people said 7-8 years old Bordeaux. We had Spain nominated by the same person that confidently stated Merlot for Nuits Saint Georges, after I mentioned it is a single variety. So I have to give him some credit back. IMG_20150918_204953

2001 Pesquera Crianza from Alejandro Fernandez is a symphony in the glass. For me it is the epitome of a well maturing wine that has everything you would want and one would expect: fresh red fruit, smoke, spices and beginning to show complex tertiary aromas of saddle leather and tobacco. Supple but full palate, fresh, open and so expressive on the taste, with a medium plus finish that lingers well. A total pleasure to drink today, and no worries to keep it for another 5 years at least. (93/100)


2010 Domaine du Pegau ‘Cuvee Reservee’ Chateauneuf du pape was recognized as a Chateauneuf du pape, and even as a Pegau. Kudos to those people that identify it like that. I opened this wine 14 hours in advance at home and double decanted it early in the morning. It never felt harder to restrain myself from tasting a wine as it happen at 8:00 in the morning.

Its aromas are intoxicating. Very complex and profound nose where ripe red and black fruits meet Pegau funk, animal fur, olive tapenade and Asian spices. Full, intense and powerful on the palate, it has layers of flavors with a distinct savoury long and lingering finish, and a massive structure of polished tannin. (96/100)

Pairing with Osso Buco veal tajines with vegetables root, mashed potatoes and roasted garlic is a match made in haven.

2012 Aalto PS is a killer wine. It comes from 60-100 years old vines of Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero and it is aged in new French Allier oak for 24 months. An opaque dark red garnet color. Very intense and complex aromas of ripe and over ripe black fruit mixed with chocolate, spices and vanilla change with time into prunes, rum and sour cherries, a profile closer to an Amarone. Very dense and powerful mouth, high tannin that is well polished and smooth, animating these thick layers of ripe blackberries, cranberries and chocolate flakes. Long and intense finish. Massively structured wine that seems to posses all the attributes to become great. (95/100)


Black Angus rib steak was the perfect dish to accompany this thick and concentrated Tempranillo: bold flavors on both sides.


Dessert was the culminating dish of a lovely dinner. And what a dessert.


What did we learn: blind tastings can be very animated, stir interesting discussions and can move the focus of other conversations back to wines; it is also a great way to push one to think and analyze wine and become better at tasting it. After all, competitiveness is something we all have it in us, we just have to embrace it.


Sparkling only tasting – July 16th

Best of bubbly

There are several ways to fight the hot summer: fly to New Zealand or other cool areas, take several cold showers or brace the air conditioning unit like it’s your ultimate lover. But there is hope in a more enjoyable and easily reachable alternative: enjoy some glasses of a perfectly cold sparkling on a cool terrace. We propose the best solution: join us for an evening of sparks and discover the differences between different styles of bubbles: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and brilliant Methode Traditionnelle made Cremants. You could read about these differences here with excellent infographic, but practice is everything. Take our word on this. So, here is what you’ll have, 10 wines:

  • Prosecco Foss Marai Strada di Guia Brut
  • Prince Stirbey Spumant Cramposie 2010 (Methode Champenois)
  • Jane Ventura Reserva de la Musica Brut Nature Cava
  • Charles Wantz Cremant d’Alsace Carte Noire (Methode Traditionnelle)
  • Antech Cuvee Eugenie Brut 2013 Cremant de Limoux  (Methode Traditionnelle)
  • Jean-Louis Denois Tradition Extra-Brut NV (Methode Traditionnelle)
  • Jean-Louis Denois ‘Vins Rares’ Pinot Noir Brut 2006 (Methode Traditionnelle)
  • Champagne Delamotte NV
  • Champagne Laurent Gabriel Grand Reserve Premier Cru NV
  • Champagne Demiere-Ansiot Blanc de Blancs Brut Vintage 2008 Grand Cru

The wine tasting takes place on the lovely terrace of: Restaurant Dada, 94 bis Matei Voievod street,

When: THU July 16th, starting at 19:30.

There are 12 tickets available and each costs 175 lei and includes the wines, small tapas, water and our enjoyable presence. Advance payment is required.

Please confirm your reservation by phone to Nicusor: +40 722 141 879, or to Cosmin +40 723 240 102,

Vinuri de top de peste 90 puncte – Degustare 28 ianuarie 2015

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment


Viața este prea scurtă ca să bem vinuri proaste! Ghidându-ne după vorba asta de duh, ne-a venit idea unei degustări de vinuri foarte bune din toată lumea. Ca si criteriu am ales numai vinuri de peste 90 de puncte. Si iata ce a iesit:

  • 2012 Clos des Lunes “Lune d’Argent”  – Bordeaux Blanc sec produs in Sauternes, Franta – 91 puncte
  • 1998 Lopez de Heredia Reserva Tondonia Blanco – Rioja, Spania – 93 puncte
  • 2003 Guado al Tasso Antinori – Toscana, Italia – 92 puncte
  • 2004 Pasanau Finca La Planeta – Priorat, Spania – 95 puncte
  • 2003 Chateau Musar Rouge – Liban – 92 puncte
  • 2006 Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec Bibiana y Christina Coletto – Argentina – 95 puncte
  • 2007 Modus Ruffino – Toscana, Italia – 96 puncte #25 in Top 100 Wine Spectator 2010
  • 2004 Chateau La Tour Figeac (St-Emilion) – Bordeaux, Franța – 91 puncte

Ne gândim să facem degustarea “in blind” în pereche de câte două vinuri. Adică nu vă spunem ce turnăm în pahare decât după ce degustăm și ne facem o părere. Ce ziceți?

Degustarea va avea loc miercuri, 28 ianuarie 2015, de la ora 19:30, la Restaurant Dada (Str. Matei Voievod 94bis). Sunt 12 locuri disponibile și fiecare costă 235 lei, sumă care include vinurile, o sticlă de apă și prezența noastră agreabilă.

Pentru rezervari contactati-ma pe sau la telefon 0723 240 102 Cosmin sau prin completarea formularului de mai jos cu datele de contact si numarul de locuri dorite.

(Pentru cei nefamiliarizați cu sistemul de 100 de puncte pentru vinuri, vă spun doar că ce este peste 90 de puncte sunt vinuri deosebite, iar ce este peste 95, well, sunt considerate exceptionale, adică foarte puține, deosebit de bune și de obicei foarte scumpe)

Classy Spain

January 8, 2015 Leave a comment

Over the last few months I drank several wines from Spain, most of them worthy of being mentioned. It is always interesting to see how one single grape: Tempranillo, can show so many and different facets depending on the climate where it was grown, yields or wine-making style. Known more as providing the cheapest wines of Europe, Spain has its own jewels of the crown.


Termanthia is produced from a small parcel of 4.78 ha of very old Tempranillo from a high altitude – 120 years old pre-filloxera vines, from Toro. Currently this winery is owned by the LVMH group that also owns Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux.

Termanthia 2009 is an opaque, dark red colored wine. Highly complex and elegant nose, with very intense and pure aromas of ripe black forest fruits, dark chocolate, smoke, cured meats and licorice, that constantly evolves in the glass and impresses at every sip. The palate is dense, fleshy and concentrated, with refreshing, silky smooth but assertive tannins, vibrant acidity and a whole kaleidoscope of layers and flavors. The finish is very long, savory dark chocolate with blackberry essence lingering well in the aftertaste. There is a natural elegance in this wine that I found in many of the First Class French or Italian wines that is just astonishing. Nature’s own elegance. (96/100)


Two older wines from Rioja made by what are known to be classic Old School producers: Lopez de Heredia and Muga, the wines cannot be more different. These 2 wines were drunk over 2 weeks distance.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Cosecha de 1994 has a pale medium ruby red color with a brick rim. This is a highly sensual and elegant wine, with a complex and layered aromatic profile that combines pure dill and fresh orange peel, sweet ripe cherries and currants, with a light touch of oriental spices and tertiary notes of undergrowth, tobacco and old leather. Mature, very feminine and almost weightless on the palate, the fully resolved velvety tannins and its vibrant acidity make a supple wine with pronounced flavors of tobacco, spices and red fruits. Finish is medium to long, very refreshing. I can see this wine pairing very well with a more delicate game dish – partridge, and even with a red meat fish. (92/100)


Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991 came even as a bigger surprise. In spite of being 3 years older than Tondonia, Muga feels at least 7-8 years younger. The color is deep ruby red. It takes about 2-3 h for the wine to open up completely – the wine is good to drink even after 20 min, and when it does it is a whole concert. A youthful complex and intense nose with rich aromas of ripe red cherry and strawberry, orange peel, sweet spices, pipe tobacco and old leather, with very delicate shades of dill. Full bodied, smooth like silk, a lush palate and plenty of vibrant and spicy red fruits. Medium to long finish, fresh and compelling. This feels as an immortal wine that will stay on this plateau of drinking decades from now. (94/100)

The most interesting Spanish wine I had in 2014 was at a friend’s birthday in October when a Magnum of Vega Sicilia Unico 1996 was popped. This wine came after a bottle of Krug Rose and while the expectations were high, the wine never ceased to amaze.


1996 Vega Sicilia Unico has a dark red garnet color. After almost 4 h sitting in the decanter, the wine shows a youthful and maturing nose, highly complex and profound, with layers and layers of pure and intoxicating aromas of fresh blackberries and black cherries, refined oak and tobacco, a compelling freshness given by assertive orange rind and dill aromas, with savory cured meats and beef blood. Full and very dense palate, assertive smooth tannins and very detailed nuances of black fruits, spices and dark chocolate. Finish is very long, bitter espresso and sweet cranberry essence making a refreshing aftertaste that goes on and on. This is a monumental wine. (97/100)


Aalto PS 2011 is probably one of the best deals from Spain for wines under 100 Eur. I had this wine 2 or 3 times last year and I always enjoyed it more even when drank with more expensive wines like Artadi Pagos Viejos or Cirsion from Roda. It’s full and expansive on the palate, with classy ripe black fruits, smart oak and refreshing espresso and dark chocolate aromas, while the finish is long and layered. (93-94/100)

Degustare de vinuri spaniole – Vega Sicilia, La Rioja Alta, Lopez de Heredia

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment


Se face foarte multa valva in jurul vinurilor frantuzesti si al potentialului lor de invechire. Mai putini sunt insa cei care iau in considerare vinuri mature, cu acelasi potential mare de invechire si din alte parti ale lumii. Una dintre acestea este Spania care are o traditie comparabila cu Bordeaux sau Burgundia. Vinurile lor sunt cel putin la fel de pregatite sa infrunte anii, iar degustarea pe care o propunem va putea dovedi acest lucru. Vrem sa punem laolalta vinuri din doua decenii diferite, din regiuni diferite, pentru a putea observa diferentele in functie de timp si spatiu. Vom trece prin Rioja, Ribera del Duero si Priorat.

Vinurile degustarii:

1998 Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Crianza Blanco (W&S 92, WS 91, ST 91, CT 90)
1998 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Tinto (ST 93, AG 91)

2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Gran Reserva Especial (J Goode 94, ST 92, CT 91)
2004 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Gran Reserva (RP 93, Guia Penin 94)

1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 (JG 94, ST 92, CT 92)
2001 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 (RP 96, CT 92.2, Guia Penin 94)

2004 Passanau Finca La Planeta (WE 95, CT 92.3, ST 92)
2001 Passanau Finca La Planeta (WS 93, CT 91)

1995 Vega Sicilia Alion (WS 92, CT 91)
2006 Vega Sicilia Alion (WE 93, ST 92, CT 91)

Degustarea va avea loc marti, 28 ianuarie 2014, de la ora 19:30, la restaurantul Dada (Str. Matei Voievod nr. 94bis). Sunt 12 locuri disponibile și fiecare costă 285 lei, sumă care include vinurile, apa, aperitivele și prezența noastră agreabilă.
Rezervări la +40 722 141 879 (Nicușor) sau +40 723 240 102 (Cosmin)

*Legenda punctaje: AG – Antonio Galloni, JG – Jamie Goode, WS – Wine Spectator, W&S – Wine & Spirits Magazine, RP – Robert Parker, ST – Stephen Tanzer, WE – Wine Enthusiast, CT –

Categories: Spain, Wine-dinners

O verticala de exceptie cu Dom Perignon


Desi initiat de o scurta perioada de timp – aproximativ 3-4 luni, Clubul Vinului de la restaurantul La Brasserier Bistro&Lounge din Bucuresti incepe sa devina o miscare inchinata vinului care rivalizeaza cu cele mai selecte cluburi de vin internationale.

Deja in celelalte sesiuni desfasurate am putut degusta celebrele vinuri de la GAJA, vinuri de referinta din Franta – Bordeaux ani vechi si noi, Italia, Spania si Lumea Noua care se bucura in fiecare de an de aprecieri si punctaje foarte mari acordate de criticii importanti de vin.

Joi seara a fost dedicata in principal vinurilor vechi din Champagne. Cu siguranta unul dintre cele mai rare momente la care am participat si care aseaza cu usurinta Bucurestiul pe harta internationala a experientelor oenologice de exceptie: o degustare verticala de Dom Perignon cu varste de aproximativ 50 de ani. Lista vinurilor a fost: Dom Perignon 1962, 1964, 1966 si 1999, urmate de Dom Perignon Rose 2000.

Seara a fost deschisa cu o Champagne realizata 100% din Pinot Meunier, un strugure care in general se regaseste in procente minore in vinurile spumante ce provin din aceasta regiune. Producatorul este unul apreciat de cunoscatorii acestei regiuni: Egly-Ouriet. Vinul a fost o companie foarte buna pentru platoul de stridii proaspat aduse din Franta.


Egly-Ouriet Les Vignes de Vrigny Premier Cru a stat 40 de luni pe drojdii inainte de a fi degorjat in 2011. Culoarea este galben intens, iar efervescenta buna. Aromele sunt intense si bine conturate, se regasesc citrice, condimente si note de caise verzi, iar in gura senzatia este de amplitudine, robustete si bogatie. Nu are senzualitatea unui Blanc de Blancs, dar compenseaza foarte bine prin celelalte atribute. Finalul este mediu, proaspat si citric. (90/100)


Dupa ce am pregatit papilele cu prima Champagne, a inceput seria vinurilor mult asteptate. Sticlele au fost deschise cu 45-60 minute inainte, dopurile au fost scoase intregi fara nici o problema. Aparenta tuturor celor 3 vinuri vechi  – 1962, 1964, 1966 – este foarte similara: un chihlimbar deschis ce bate inspre portocaliu, curat, cu limpiditate foarte buna, fara a mai avea insa efervescenta.


Dom Perignon Vintage 1962 provine dintr-un an cu iarna lunga, primavara a adus furtuni si piatra in regiune, vara a fost racoroasa, fapt ce a intarziat inflorirea vitelor de vie. Vremea frumoasa din Septembrie a ajutat, iar recolatarea a inceput in 4 Octombrie.


Vinul prezinta urme de oxidare la nas imediat dupa deschidere, inducand o anumita anxietate in randul participantilor la degustare ca avem o prima sticla defecta. Gustul in schimb readuce speranta. La nivelul nasului avem aromele unui vin alb vechi foarte similar cu vinul de Sherry: samburi amarui de fructe, fulgi de migdale, mar usor oxidat, dar si o nota usor dulceaga, iar lipsa fructului ii scade din prestanta. In gust vinul este sec, dar prezinta inca arome placute de citrice uscate si nuci, castigand chiar in profunzime cu aerarea. Finalul este mediu spre lung, cu note de migdale. (87-88/100)

Dom Perignon Vintage 1964 provine dintr-un an foarte bun, cu vara uscata si torida, recoltarea incepand pe 16 Septembrie. Vehiculat la inceput ca vinul seriei, sticla ne contrazice expectantele.

Vinul prezinta un caracter oxidativ – cel mai pronuntat intre cele trei – iar gustul nu salveaza din pacate situatia. Exista arome de migdale si sherry, iar gustul este monolitic si lipsit de focuri de artificii. Finalul este scurt spre mediu. (85/100)


Dom Perignon Vintage 1966 provine dintr-un an ce a produs struguri perfect copti si sanatosi, recoltarea incepad pe 22 Septembrie. Vinul este cel mai interesant dintre cele trei. La nivelul nasului este  intens si complex, iar aromele pregnante creaza senzatia ca in pahar avem cea mai gustoasa si mai rafinata crema de zahar ars cu vanilie de cea mai buna calitate si caramel. Mirosul este seducator si complet neasteptat. In gust vinul are amplitudine, este usor afumat, cu note de caise uscate si turta dulce, si o rotunjime care-l face usor de placut, si final lung. Cel mai reusit vin al seriei de Champagne foarte vechi. (89-90/100)


Dom Perignon Vintage 1999 vine in forta si ne readuce inapoi la realitate cu profilul sau puternic fructat. Vinul  are o culoare galben pai deschis, cu efervescenta intensa. La nivel olfactiv s-a conturat un profil ce aminteste de un Riesling sec vechi din Alsacia. Arome de petrol, piersici si caise verzi, citrice si o nota de afumat. In gust suntem inapoi pe taramul vinurilor spumante: aciditatea ii confera tensiune asemeni unui curent, iar notele citrice si usor minerale ii dau amplitudine pe palatin. Finalul este mediu spre lung, proaspat si revigorant. Mi se pare perfecta de baut acum desi are in continuare potential de pastrare. (92/100)


Dom Perignon Rose Vintage 2000 are culoarea roz somon ce bate inspre cupru si efervescenta intensa. Nasul este foarte bine conturat, complex si intens. Aromele de fructe rosii mici, alterneaza cu cele florale, cu cele de coaja de portocala confiata si arome minerale de fum. Un nas superb si complex. In gust structura este magistrala, are consistenta, rotunjime, fiind deopotriva ampla si precisa. Finalul este lung, proaspat, citric si fructat. O Champagne care poate oferi satisfactii si mai mari in timp. (94-95/100)

Dupa aceasta serie spectaculoasa de vinuri din Champagne am putut degusta 4 vinuri rosii din Rioja: Sela 2010, Roda Reserva 2008, Roda I Reserva 2007 si Cirsion 2009. Din pacate vinurile rosii nu au avut impactul pe care-l merita dupa seria de Champagne.


Cele care mi-au captat atentia in mod deosebit au fost Roda I Reserva 2007 si Cirsion 2009 – prin prospetimea data de aromele de ace de pin si robustetea simtita in gust. Despre vinurile rosii intr-un articol diferit.


Tasting some oldies: 1964 Haut Bailly, 1959 Branaire and some more

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment


I got together with some friends on SUN evening (Feb 24, 2013) to taste some older wines. We were discussing for a few months the possibility to try some older vintages (40+ years old) as none of my friends tried something similar in the past. We scheduled the session at Aquarium restaurant late in the afternoon.

I managed to uncork safely both old bottles and there was not a single piece of cork dropping in. Both corks were completely soaked but both became easy extractions after a bit of preparation. It helped a lot the fact that I cleaned up, with a wet towel, both tops of the bottles after removing the foil.

This is a very important step when you deal with old bottles.  Cleaning the accumulated mold that inevitably forms under the foil over the years, it helps the cork to slip out easily. The moisture that forms at the top of the bottle creates a sort of a gliding surface. Otherwise, you’ll just get broken pieces of cork and plenty of headaches. A longer corkscrew would have been better. The corks broke because they were completely wet and my corkscrew did not manage to get through the whole cork during the extraction.


Wines were served in the following order: 1964 Chateau Haut Bailly, 1959 Chateau Branaire, 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 and 2003 Ornellaia.


1964 Chateau Haut Bailly Pessac Leognan Bordeaux

I bought this bottle more than a year ago and got it at a better price because the external appearance was very bad. There is not much left from the label, the outside looks like it has been through hell and fire, but the fill level inside was great.

I planned to open the bottle 2-3 hours in advance, but considering that my other friends suggested that I should open the wines, I postponed the operation and did it at the restaurant. It proved to be a wise decision because the wine was ready to be enjoyed immediately after the cork was removed. Any further aeration would probably have just spoiled the wine.

The aromas of pure fruit started immediately to get out of the bottle. As bad as it looked on the outside, the wine was absolutely fantastic.


The color is a saturated ruby red, with some orange on the rim, but clean and perfect limpidity. The bouquet is drop dead gorgeous, as it preserves completely unaltered primary aromas of red fruits: fresh raspberries, strawberries and black currant, everything covered with cedar, smoke and mineral, Graves character, building a very complex nose as it breathes and opens up in the glass. With aeration, aromas of game and blood kick in. Overall a deep, profound and complex bouquet of considerable intensity. There is no way that served blind you could guess its age.


In the mouth the wine continues to deliver: it has depth, flesh, perfect balance and unaltered structure, fresh and silky, maturing but still vigorous and youthful, fully integrated tannins, showing generous red fruit, coffee bean and cedar flavors. The finish is medium to long and brings unbelievable freshness with some discreet signs of tannins that still bite your gums enough to mark their presence. The wine is liquid silk and pure joy. It can also hold further. (93-94/100)


1959 Chateau Branaire St-Julien Bordeaux

The fill level was a bit lower than the 1964 Haut Bailly, but the wine was perfectly good. The color is a saturated ruby red with a brick colored rim. Just like the previous wine, I uncorked it, felt its nice aromas from the bottle, put back a clean cork and left it for 20 minutes in a colder place to rest. When poured in the glass the wine is clean, again perfect limpidity, while the color suggests a healthy wine.

The bouquet is complex and intense, but suggests a more advanced maturity. The primary, fruity aromas are long gone. Instead, aromas of truffles and dried red bell pepper powder fill the glass and invade the nose. It does not have the complexity of Haut Bailly.

In the mouth the wine is more supple and stripped of its flesh. It feels like it had its peak and is now slowly and gradually moving downhill. There are assertive  tannins and very intense flavors of truffles and coffee bean on the palate. The finish is short to medium, fresh, with black tea and cedar flavors in the aftertaste. This wine should be consumed now. (88-89/100)


1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 Rioja

I am familiar with this wine and I tasted it at least 5-6 times over the last year. It developed an interesting and intense aroma of freshly chopped  dill. This is a rather unusual aroma especially when you find it for the first time in a wine, as some of my friends remarked. It is well structured and bears all the attributes of Old School Rioja that I like: balance, lively acidity, smoothness, supple and vivid spicy red fruit aromas and flavors. Long finish, with pure cinnamon, cloves and red fruit jams. (91-92/100)

2003 Ornellaia

This is initially very closed both on the nose and on the palate. It needs minimum 2-3 hours to open up. We did not decant it and it needs some. Up to this point we tasted elegant and supple wines. Ornellaia is from a totally different register.

It is not overly expressive on the nose and, at this point, it only suggests reserves of aromas and a hidden potential. On the palate is thick and concentrated. A friend points out this fact finding it pleasing but fatiguing compared to the previous wines. It is a wine you could certainly enjoy and like immediately, but it does not have the same easiness to drink as the Rioja or the old Bordeaux.

It is a modern wine, the new French oak still marks his presence on the nose and on the palate. It has serious flesh and rich layers of fruit. The tannins are ripe and smooth, the finish is long and the wine is still at the beginning of a long life. (93/100)

For me, this was a special moment.  The richness, vigor and purity of primary aromas found in the 1964 Haut Bailly provided immense pleasure. It also fueled even more my desire to continue to explore and discover other similar old wines. The universe of wine can offer unbelievable surprises and that’s why is so interesting.

Categories: Burgundy, France, Italy, Spain

A winey weekend: Puech Haut, La Rioja Alta and more

December 4, 2012 2 comments


I had a weekend full of wines. Started on FRI evening with this 2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge that shows extremely well and reminds of a Chateauneuf du pape.

2004 Chateau Puech-Haut Tete de Belier rouge

Deep dark, red garnet color. A well developed and youthful nose, intense, it has the aromatic profile of a quality Chateauneuf du pape. It shows a freshness that I found in a 2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape. The nose has Grenache profile written all over it and is filled with liquorice, garrigue, raspberry and red cherry jam, nutmeg and game. Full in the mouth, ripe, structured and balanced, it has serious consistency and flesh, with a long spicy red fruit jam aftertaste. A wine that stays very well on its feet, showing good freshness, flesh and spark. No hurry to drink it on the short term. 14.5% (91/100)


On SAT evening had dinner with a good friend at La Cantine de Nicolai and had a small bottle of Meursault by Drouhin and an old school 1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904. The 2006 Joseph Drouhin Meursault from a 0.375 bottle shows a developed nose, with plenty of butter, roasted almonds and richness.

It is the second time I visit La Cantine de Nicolai after almost 2 years. I remember the first time I was there I was eager to try one of their desserts that looked so good on photos. Unfortunately it was not available on that day. It took me 2 years, but I finally got it.


1997 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904

Uncorked, decanted and left it to breath for 30 mins, which was probably not enough but we were really thirsty. Saturated ruby red color with minor brick on the rim. A well developed nose, intense aromas of dill and orange are dominant on the aromatic profile, and, as the wine opens up, cinnamon, bright red fruits and tobacco come out. A wine with great freshness, fresh acidity, structured, balanced, elegant, and a long finish, spicy and fresh. Everything seems to be in the right place with this wine, and at 15 years old, the wine feels ageless, a plateau where it will probably stay for a very long time. I like the freshness and the complexity of a well aged Old School Rioja. (91/100)


We also had a Champagne Duval Leroy Brut Rose (89/100): clean, fresh, mineral, fine bubbles and so easy to drink at Le Manoir’s wine bar near Ateneu and finished the night with a Dessert Stirbey.


SUN was calm and quite, how else could you spend the first day of cold weather and rain of this winter. Cooked at home some fresh pasta with tomato sauce and shrimps that were highly appreciated by my companion. Also tried a 2011 Ceptura Rose by Davino, a deep rose colored wine that sits very well in its price category and delivers. Even if it shows 14.4% alcohol, the wine is balanced, with intense small red berries aromas and some residual sugar that provides body and consistency to its medium finish. This is a rose suitable for this cold weather.

704712_447158695345141_2098061620_olong awaited dessert at La Cantine de Nicolai

Goodwine Noiembrie 2012

November 26, 2012 4 comments

Desfasurat intr-o noua locatie mult mai spatioasa: Romexpo complex C1, editia din toamna a targului de vinuri Goodwine face pasii necesari pentru a se apropia gradual de standardele targurilor internationale de vinuri. Standuri mai mari si mai aerisite, iar efectul a fost imediat resimtit: desi sambata era lume multa te puteai misca in voie pe culoare. De asemenea avand standuri mai mari, am observat ca fiecare producator a crescut numarul personalului astfel incat nu trebuia sa stai prea mult la coada sa poti degusta ce doresti. Trebuie sa salutam initiativa organizotorilor Goodwine pentru schimbarea locatiei si sa speram ca vom vedea urmatoarele editii in format si mai extins.

Am apreciat de asemenea initiativa unor noi producatori care au decis sa participe la acest targ pentru prima oara: Cramele Halewood, dar si crame sau distribuitori din tara sau din afara tarii: Ecoreca, Vinitaly Deluxe si Smartdrinks din Romania, si Crama Borha importator de vinuri spaniole.

Am descoperit si redescoperit vinuri noi si vinuri mai vechi care au evoluat surprinzator. Doresc sa le multumesc tuturor producatorilor si distribuitorilor pe care i-am vizitat pentru disponibilitatea si timpul acordat, dar si pentru explicatiile detaliate si prezentarile oferite.

Ca sa rezum ziua de sambata pe care am petrecut-o aproape in totalitate la Goodwine voi mentiona vinurile care m-au surprins si mi-au placut in mod deosebit.

– la Cramele Halewood dl Muntean (foto) a avut amabilitatea alaturi de enologul Lorena Deaconu de a-mi prezenta personal noile vinuri care vor fi lansate in viitorul apropiat. As putea spune ca urmatoarele trei vinuri au fost pentru mine cateva dintre revelatiile targului: 2008 Rheea Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon (un vin “uitat” imbuteliat in crama pentru o perioada mai lunga la maturare care aminteste de un cupaj din Bordeaux de pe Malul Drept – Saint-Emilion), o noua Feteasca Neagra 2009 care va intra in gama Hyperion dar cu o noua eticheta care provine dintr-un lot situat la o altitudine mai ridicata (500 m) fata de viile care produc Hyperion FN, mult mai densa si mai interesanta, dar si noul Cantus Primus Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 care are toate calitatile unui an de exceptie (2009). Cramele Halewood pregatesc noi lansari interesante in ciuda numarului mare de etichete deja existente in portofoliul lor.

– la Crama Oprisor am degustat alaturi de o doamna, Veronica Gheorghiu, despre care am aflat ca este enologul de serviciu alaturi de Liviu Grigorica toata gama superioara: Eticheta Rosie Cab Sauv, Smerenie, Nenumita 2008 si Cutia Paleologu 2007. Pentru mine Cutia Paleologu 2007 ramane vinul de top al Cramei Oprisor.

Crama Borha este importatorul unor vinuri de exceptie din Spania: La Rioja Alta, unul dintre cei mai consacrati producatori din Rioja, care pastreaza inca stilul Old School care a consacrat vinurile de Rioja. Preturile sunt comparabile cu cele din Spania. Am re-degustat un vin pe care il apreciez mult: 2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial (4 ani in baricuri americane si inca 3-5 ani maturare in sticla). Mai spectaculoase sunt 1998 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 si 1995 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 890.

– vis-a-vis de ei un alt importator de vinuri spaniole, crama Arzuaga, cu vinuri placute dar din pacate cu marketing ieftin. Sustineau hotarat ca vinul La Planta din Ribera del Duero (un vin tanar si fructat, un Tempranillo modern) cu pretul de 45 Ron ar fi vandut ca si vinul casei la Burj al Arab in Dubai la 300 Eur sticla. Permiteti-mi sa am anumite rezerve.

– la Crama Basilescu am gasit o Feteasca Neagra 2009 interesanta, desi destul de neimblanzita si agresiva pentru moment. Sa-i dam inca 1-2 ani si ar trebui sa observam o metamorfoza frumoasa.

– la Cramele Recas o mini verticala de Cuvee Uberland de 3 ani : 2006, 2009 si 2011, a dezvaluit un 2006 care ar trebui consumat acum si care a virat catre un profil de fruct foarte copt. Regret profund ca nu am mai ajuns duminica la degustarea unor vinuri de import de top din portofoliul Cramelor Recas care se pare ca si-au imbogatit numarul etichetelor de import: Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne, Louis Latour Chassagne Montrachet rosu si inca 1-2 etichete de prestigiu care au fost incluse in aceasta degustare. Ii invidiez pe cei care au fost prezenti acolo duminica.

– poate cel mai surprinzator si, in opinia mea, poate cel mai bun vin dulce romanesc: Dessert Stirbey vandut in sticla de 375 ml cu un nivel scazut al alcoolului: 9.5% si o aciditate de Riesling din Mosel. Probabil nici cei mai carcotasi nu au ce sa-i reproseze ca si calitate.

Petro Vaselo surprinde din nou cu politica de preturi. Am degustat un Chardonnay maturat 6 luni in baricuri lansat recent si oferit la 78-80 Ron sticla. E bine ca industria continua sa ne surprinda.

– la SERVE am incercat noul Terra Romana Rose 2012 (nu inteleg cursa acestui producator de a scoate primul, vinul rose al noii recolte) si Cuvee Amaury 2011 (colegii mei au dreptate sa-l pozitioneze peste cel din 2010). Ca si simplu amator cred ca graba de a fi primul si a grabi lucrurile in acest domeniu nu este neaparat strategia cea mai buna.

– la standul Avincis am reintalnit-o pe Angela Prado care, intr-o romana superba, as putea zice ca a oferit cea mai buna prezentare a unor vinuri de la acest targ. Sincer, ar putea convinge pe oricine sa inceapa sa aprecieze vinul. Desigur prezentarea a fost sustinuta si de calitatea vinurilor.

Am degustat mai mult decat am scris si, ca si concluzie, as zice ca editiile viitoare ale targului Goodwine nu trebuiesc ratate. Imi pare rau ca l-am ratat pe Marc Dworkin si nu am avut ocazia sa-l salut.

Rolland’s Collection with David Lesage

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I was invited to attend a very interesting tasting organized by Le Manoir, the Romanian importer and distributor of Michel Rolland’s wines. I believe, or would like to believe, that any person that likes and consumes wine, or at least is interested in wine, heard about Michel Rolland. As debatable as his wines are perceived for being too extracted or too oaky, most of the prestigious Chateaux in Bordeaux employ his consulting services. He is definitely a great blender.

Last night Mr Rolland’s son-in-law, David Lesage, presented some of the wines included in the so-called Rolland’s Collection. I actually met Mr Lesage one year ago when he conducted another wine session presenting the same Collection but some from different vintages, session organized also by Le Manoir. His presentations are interesting and engaging, filled with technical details but also spiced up with “behind the curtain” information.

I found out last night that in Bordeaux it became mandatory to mention the alcohol level on the labels starting with the ’70s. If the alcohol level is above the appellation’s rules a producer might not be able to use the AOC for that particular vintage. Mr. Lesage mentioned how Michel Rolland had the initiative to measure the alcohol level in a legendary wine: 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc and the result is just staggering: 14.8%. Should the 1970s regulations have been in place in 1947, Cheval Blanc would have not carried the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru appelation. Interesting information for a wine geek. So the blamed high alcohol levels we see often today on Bordeaux wines are not a first.

We started with a white wine made from a 1 ha plot from Lussac-Saint-Émilion, normally a red wine appellation, labelled as a Bordeaux Blanc and produced in a relative short supply. The wine is aged for up to 12 months in new French oak barrels. The use of new French oak barrels is a common thing to all wines in the Rolland’s Collection. Chateau La Grande Clotte 2009 is a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gris, Semillon and up to 50% Muscadelle. The wine is opulent, both on the nose, as on the palate, oaky and elegant is the last word that comes to my mind when describing this wine. A wine that grabs your attention immediately but a bit too much for me.

Next two wines were 2002 and 2005 Chateau Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol served in parallel from two separate glasses to better compare them. The 2002 is completely open and ready to drink, showing pronounced aromas of green vegetables, green bell pepper and grass, (2002 was a rainy and hard to ripe vintage in Bordeaux) mixed with smoke, red fruits and a touch of minerals. Full bodied and filling the palate, fresh, structured, with assertive tannins. The wine is a pleasure to drink right now and has no problem holding further years. (90-91/100)

2005 Le Bon Pasteur is at a different stage. The wine feels tempered and restraint compared to 2002, but it has a depth and a complexity not matched by its older brother. Well structured, grippy tannins, fresh, ripe, full and hiding a lot of potential. Long and best to be left alone for now. (92/100)

Next wine was Le Defi de Fontenil, a 100% Merlot made only 5 or 6 times since 1999: 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 (if I understood correctly). Even though the property sits in Fronsac, the wine is labelled as a simple Vin de Table because INAO  did not approve the experiment started  in 2000 by Dany and Michel Rolland to place plastic sheeting on the soil between the rows of vines on some plots in Château Fontenil to prevent rain penetration during the month preceding the harvest. It is probably one of the most, if not the most expensive Vin de Table produced in France. The berries are fermented in open oak barrels custom made for the Chateau, while the temperature is controlled by the use of dry ice. Aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels, this is an opulent, super concentrated and hedonistic expression of Merlot. We had the 2005 vintage which is extremely youthful, oaky, concentrated, structured, with fine sweet and fully ripe tannins. Long finish with opulent aromas and flavors of plums, cassis and prunes. Too young to be fully enjoyed at the moment. Probably a guy on steroids would mirror the image of this wine. A style that has its own fans.

Being a Vin de Table the producer is not allowed to mentioned the vintage on the label, however on the back label it is specified differently this information: 2005 appears as 05 and similarly for other vintages.

The 2003 Remhoogte Bonne Nouvelle made in South Africa, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage shows a more classic line, in complete antitheses with Le Defi de Fontenil. It is a style that I like more and it is hard to stay away from its pleasant smoky profile. Really balanced and perfectly enjoyable. At almost 10 years of age it is youthful and capable to hold many more years.

Last two wines were both Malbec’s made in Argentina: Val de Flores 2004 from vineyards sitting at 1000 m altitude, and Yacochuya 2004 from vines sitting at over 2000 m altitude. The climates are completely different as the properties are separated by over 1000 km. Both wines show an incredible high alcohol level: 15% for Val de Flores and a staggering 16.5% for Yacochuya, both are powerful wines but show amazing balance, ripe sweet tannins, structure and concentration to hide the heat.  Yacochuya is massive and super-concentrated, probably one the most concentrated wines I tasted so far and yet silky on the palate. (91-92/100) for Val de Flores 2004 and (93-94/100) for Yacochuya 2004.

There was also a Spanish Tempranillo made in Toro: 2003 Campo Eliseo (Champs Elysées in French), a wine made together with Jacques Lurton. A modern expression of Tempranillo.

The tasting was fun and interesting and after so much alcohol I left home a happy man. Before this event I actually had the chance to taste 3 other great wines: 2001 Masi Mazzano (92-93/100), 2006 Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco showing already a good approachability (91/100) and a very young and woody 2009 Tignanello (91/100).

2006 Clos Galena Priorat

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Had dinner last night with my friend Calin at the Spanish restaurant Nada Mas that replaced the old Byblos on Nicolae Golescu street, just behind Ateneul Roman and enjoyed again a very nice chicken paella. I have not tried yet the paella made by La Tienda on Tunari street but, so far, Nad Mas paella seems to be the best in town. Will go and try the one at La Tienda and come back with final conclusions later on.

I also found out that the guys from the Bonne Bouche restaurant from the Old Center bought the old Bistro Ateneu location and they will open both a wine shop and a wine bar at the beginning of December. So there will be two wine shops and two wine bars on Episcopiei street where, for the time being, there is only a Le Manoir shop. This is a welcoming initiative as both the consumers and the wine shops will benefit from being in the same area.

As we had dinner at a Spanish restaurant, I brought a Spanish wine from Priorat that was bought about 3-4 years ago from a wine shop in Austria, and was stored in my cellar ever since. Looking back at the price I paid back then (approx 40 Eur) I have the regret of over paying for it. The wine was paired both with Spanish charcuterie –  that was not a happy match as it brought the alcohol on the surface, and also with a chicken paella which was a better combo.

2006 Clos Galena Priorat

This wine suffers from the disease that affected most of the Priorat wines at a certain point: excessive oak treatment. The oaky aromas were pretty strong during the first 1 h. It has a dark red, garnet color. The nose is developed, with good intensity, but the dominating aromas on the first hour are the ones given by the oak blended with ripe blue and black fruit, spices and a warmness that sometimes can be felt in Grenache based blends. After 1 h the oak steps on the background and leaves room for fresher aromas with hints of fennel, roasted herbs and anise seeds. Full bodied, to the border of having too much extraction but still managing to remain on the floating level, with smooth texture, ripe, balanced, showing sweet fruity flavors on the palate and a medium finish with a firm tannic grip. The wine feels nice in the mouth, but there is a certain dryness on the finish that spoils the overall harmony. This is a ripe, forward wine, made in a modern style, but unfortunately lacking any particular personality. 14.5% (87-88/100)

Clos Galena is usually a blend of Grenache (40%), Carignan (20%), Syrah (20%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) aged between 12 and 15 months in French and American oak barrels.

2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial

September 21, 2012 2 comments

This is always a great wine from a reliable and Old School Rioja producer. As the front label says Vina Ardanza was named a Reserva Especial only 3 times so far when the vintage conditions were perfect: 1964, 1973 and 2001. It costs about 21 Eur in any hypermarket in Spain.

2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial

Color is a saturated ruby red with a brick rim. The bouquet is well developed, really intense, with good complexity and seduces your senses from the get go. There is an interesting balsamic touch, ethereal, with more aromas of orange peel, tobacco, fresh red fruits, cinnamon and cloves, and undergrowth. Really lively on the palate, this wine drinks beautiful already. It has structure, freshness, a great mouth-feel and it shines even brighter with food. A medium plus long finish, with cinnamon and red fruits that linger in the aftertaste. This is a style that I love more and more. There is also a serious aging potential for this wine but it already seems to be on a plateau of optimum drinking. (90/100)

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