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4 vintages of Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

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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:

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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

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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

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

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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, nicusor.cazan@gmail.com or to Cosmin +40 723 240 102, cosmin.grozea@gmail.com.

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

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment

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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 cosmin.grozea@gmail.com 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.

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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