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.
Met my usual group of wine aficionados again last night for dinner and had some amazing wines. Started with this sublime vintage rose Champagne that I remember having last time about 1-2 years ago, but from a different vintage, 2000 if I remember correctly. We had all Champagne’s from the Zalto white wine glass that I find it complements a lot the way Champagne tastes like. Probably the only issue here would be that it does not stimulate enough the bubble persistence as the regular sparkling glass does. As aromas are concerned, I believe it focuses very well the full aromatic profile of the Champagne.
2002 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon Rose has a light coppery color with small and rich bubbles. This is a Champagne to keep in the glass and smell it over and over as it changes its aromas constantly. It starts fresh and classy with small red berries, dough and a salty seashell aroma, and, with air, it develops pomegranate and pink grapefruit. Gracious but powerful in the mouth, it has a strong backbone of acidity and discreet tannin, with layers of flavors that build like a skyscraper on the palate, creating a sense of immersion and depth. Long finish that goes on for good seconds. This is a very elegant and classy rose that I absolutely love. (96/100)
First red of the night was a high roller that got awarded a perfect 100 points by the Wine Spectator. The 2005 Chateau L’Evangile was decanted for about 2 hours before being consumed. The color is dark red garnet. Nose is already expressive and very complex, with a ripe but fresh profile. Lavish aromas of plums, sour cherry, dark chocolate and ink build a complex aromatic profile that just continues to develop new aromas in the glass. Silky smooth on the palate already in spite of its high velvety tannin structure, it is profound and rich, with lush flavors of chocolate and black cherry, gravel minerality and paprika. Long finish, combines fruit and bitter sweet chocolate in the lingering aftertaste. It disappeared from the glasses fairly quickly. (97/100)
A friend said that today it is at its peak and there is not more to develop from now on. I believe it will be on this plateau for many years to come and that it will develop into an even more interesting wine. Future will tell.
2010 seems to be THE vintage for Brunello di Montalcino. I believe most of the wines coming from reliable producers will develop and surprise wine drinkers in time. It should be a strong addition for the cellar.
Pieve Santa Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino 2010 from Gaja is a youthful and powerful wine today. It sports a deep red garnet color. Even after 3 h in a decanter the wine continues to be shy in revealing its full aromatic profile. There are of course fruity aromas of black cherry, sour cherry and blackberry, well complemented by spices and blue flowers, but you can feel that not everything is disclosed yet. On the palate it is powerful, with assertive velvety tannin well dressed into rich layers of red and black fruit and spices, with fresh aromatic herbs that give depth. Long finish, tannin is assertive again and indicates patience is required. (94/100)
Also decanted for about 3-4 h, the 2007 Vega-Sicilia Unico is a wine to keep on smelling and discovering in the glass. It has a deep red garnet color, and since my last encounter this bottle shows a slightly different aromatic profile. Yes the oak is still there but not that prominent, and there’s a new layer of dill and orange peel that did not feel it before. Rich and powerful on the palate. (94/100)
Two more Champagne’s were served. A 2003 Dom Perignon Rose that has a deep red onion peel color with abundant mousse, a rich and vinous mouth-feel. It feels denser and has a completely different personality compared to the previous Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon. If that was ethereal, the Dom Perignon Rose is robust and swings in full throttle. (95-96/100)
Last wine of the night and a first time for me was the 2004 Champagne Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. It has a light yellow lemon color, with tiny and rich bubbles. Fresh but complex on the nose, it has lots of citrus fruit, brioche and nuts, with a rich palate of pear and Granny smith apples, mouth watering acidity and appealing elegance. Long and refreshing citrus fruit finish. (94/100)
That was the end of a fun and engaging dinner with friends.
There are dinners and there are exceptional dinners. Sometimes life can play tricks on you. It happened to me this week when it seemed I was the victim of my own luck. I had two wine dinners that I attended in two consecutive days and that seemed to be a bit too much. First one was a Romanian wines themed dinner that ended too late in the night and as a result the next morning was very slow, during the day it was more of a gradual recovery and by the time dinner was getting ready to start it finally felt more normal, but not fully recovered.
This was a very intimate dinner for 4 people where I acted as an organizer and tasting and enjoying the wines was one of the perks of the job. Absolutely outstanding experience, where some of the biggest and most interesting wines from France were served.
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee NV has a golden color with rich and tiny bubbles. A very expressive nose with flint, citrus peel, saline sea shell, it opens up with sweet caramel and lactic notes. Very tight on the palate, focused, with citrus and white peach fruit, it is a Champagne that needs at least 45 minutes to breath to open. Long finish with rich citrus fruit freshness. (94/100)
There was a great match with the oysters as both shared the saline and sea shell aromas.
2011 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is one of the grandest dry whites from Bordeaux I tasted. Before this, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2009 was my favorite, but that is history now. Medium yellow color. This has an intense and impressive nose, but simply put is Wow. There is a rich yellow melon aroma that gradually leaves room to tropical fruits: tangerine, mango, papaya, very exotic and exuberant nose all sustained by very smart oak, some flint and smoke but always the exuberant sweet fresh tropical fruit holds the center stage. Lots of vibrant yellow fruit, tropical fruits, very fresh palate with almonds, still tight but very promising. Long, long finish. What strikes the most in this wine is that in spite of its rich extract and abundance of fruit, the wine has an almost weightless texture that I find it as a common denominator in some of the grandest wines. I could drink this everyday. (96/100)
It was a great match with Sea Bass and Tuna Tartar but again this wine is good with anything.
1993 Chateau d’Yquem comes from a difficult vintage for all of Bordeaux wines. However tasting this wine you can understand why this is a Premier Grand Cru Classe. It has a light amber color. Very expressive and sweet nose of orange marmalade, saffron, peach, ginger and honey comb. This is certainly not the richest or the most opulent Yquem, but it is a very elegant wine that delivers a lot of pleasure today. There is still some richness on the palate, with vibrant orange marmalade, ginger spice and honey, unctuous and lovely. Long finish. (93-94/100)
2005 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru ‘Les Suchots’ Bouchard P&F needs about 4 h to breath in order to start to open up. It has a medium ruby red color. The nose is all about fresh pine needles, sweet red berry fruit, coffee bean and sous bois, a nose of profound subtleties. Medium to full body, there is texture and layers of vibrant sweet fresh red fruits, aromatic tea leaves, sappy tannins. It still feels tight and points to a good development in the next few years. Medium to long finish, red currant and black tea flavors. (93/100)
2003 Chateau Leoville Poyferre is a wine I tasted several times in the last 4 years and it was always a great wine. The color is red garnet almost opaque. The aromatic profile feels to be the best of two worlds: the ripe and sunny fruit you can find in the finest Super Tuscan’s and the freshness and complexity from the best red Bordeaux. Complex and intense aromas of cassis, blackberry, red paprika, coffee bean, mineral pencil shavings, all make a very expressive nose today. Rich and opulent on the palate, it has ripe and velvety sweet tannins that give balance and freshness to all this dense texture and abundance of flavors. Long finish, sweet lingering fruit. An impressive wine for the vintage. (97/100)
An absolutely outstanding wine dinner experience.
There was another session of the Wine Club started a couple of months ago by Emil from La Brasserie and me. Our aim has and will be to sample some of the most interesting and exciting wines from all over the world. The thematic for this session was mainly red Bordeaux, but there was also an intruder served blind after the 1999 Margaux.
2003 Chateau Cap de Mourlin St-Emilion
Garnet, dark red color. Developed and evolved nose, really over ripe profile, intense aromas of stewed dark cherry, prunes, Mon Cherry candy – almost like an Amarone, dark chocolate, cocoa, leather and mildly minty. There is also a toasty aroma. Fully integrated tannins, supple Merlot based blend, balanced, stewed red fruit and cocoa on the palate. Medium finish and at its peak. An enjoyable wine that can go well with food. (87/100)
2005 Chateau Gruaud Larose St Julien
Very dark, red garnet color. A well developed and intense nose that shows clear class above the first St-Emilion tasted. Very different than the 2006 Gruaud Larose I had in December and over an year ago. I prefer more this 2005. Well developed and youthful nose, complex, showing freshness and beautifully alternating between gamey, blood beef, smoky and pencil shavings aromas to sweet and fresh red fruit, black tea and green coffee bean. Full bodied, it has a very healthy ripe tannins backbone that will ensure a long life ahead, but always staying on the elegant path. There is enough substance to please any fan of Bordeaux and to allow a good evolution, but this is not a powerful wine. It surprises how smooth it feels on the palate for a 2005. Generous flavors of black tea, mocha, black currant and graphite coat the palate. Long and fresh finish, with grippy tannins in the aftertaste. 13% alc (92/100)
2002 Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac
Coming from an average and rainy vintage, this is a real success story.
Red garnet color with no signs of aging. Expressive, complex and youthful nose, admirable balance between smoky, minerals, graphite aromas, intense primary aromas: black currant and cassis, and secondary: tobacco, green bean coffee, tea leaves, with an enjoyable flamboyance of fruit. Full bodied and well structured, refreshing, fully ripe and sweet tannins, with generous flavors of cassis and black tea leaves on the palate. This combines power and elegance, already showing a smooth character with rounded tannins. Long finish, fruity, with additional coffee and black tea mild bitterness. This shows extract and richness, and does not have anything of the diluted character seen in other 2002 Bordeaux. 13% alc (93/100)
1999 Chateau Margaux
The wine of the night for me and for most of the attendants.
Dark garnet color. Profound, well developed, youthful and maturing nose that smells and tastes differently with every sip. Complex and deeply aromatic profile, with aromas shifting from sweet ripe fruit, red and black currant, cassis, plums, to smoky minerals and even a hint of brett. The richness of its flavors and the depth on the palate is unmatched by any of the previous wines. Fully ripe and healthy tannins, smooth and velvety, but yet firm and assertive, always elegant and aristocratic, everything seems to be in the right place for this wine. Intense fruit, velvety texture, layered on the palate, with complex smoky and mineral flavors. Long finish, really fresh and very convincing. This seems to be in a perfect drinking period where it could stay for another few decades. 12.5% alc (95/100)
The blind tasted wine was a challenge launched by Emil to all of us. Initially presented as a 2007 Romanian Cabernet Sauvignon it did not convince anybody to be a Cabernet.
2007 GAJA Conteisa
After the 1999 Margaux any wine faces a great challenge to convince and impress. Yet this wine managed to do it.
Saturated ruby red color. Deep, complex and expressive already on the nose, it immediately seduces with its minty, pine needle freshness, dried rose petals, tar and additional layers of sweet red fruit, undergrowth and spice. Full bodied, perfectly ripe, round and sweet tannins, supple, intense and rich flavors on the palate mirroring the nose, with perhaps a deeper and fuller aromatic profile. Its amazing how balanced it feels. Elegant and feminine wine in spite of its mountain of tannins. Long finish, fresh and complex. 14.5% (94/100)
What a night.
All 3 wines have been opened 1 day in advance and sealed back with a vacuum cork.
Luce Brunello din Montalcino 2005
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and expressive nose, sour-sweet on the nose, intense aromas of black cherry preserves, cloves and anise, plums, sweet tobacco, leather and a touch of earth, enough to make it interesting, layered and complex. Fresh and supple in the mouth, assertive tannins but yet smooth texture, tobacco and red cherry palate. Long finish with assertive and drying finish that give freshness and aromatic black tea aftertaste. Structured, layered, with enough flesh and ripe tannins to evolve well. Plenty of life ahead. 14.5% alc (92-93/100)
2006 Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Lamaione
100% Merlot and considered a small Masseto, this wine sells for almost less than half of both Luce and Sugarille and still manages to play in the same league.
Saturated ruby red color. Well developed, open and expressive nose, it grows deeper and layered with aromas of bright red cherry fruit and red cherry jams, mushrooms, sweet tobacco and dry plums. It has the smoothest and velvetiest texture of all 3 wines, ripe, sweet and almost fully integrated tannins compared to Luce, fleshy, round and yet balanced and fresh considering its 15% alc, this is a really impressive and complex expression of Merlot. Juicy blackberry fruit, coffee and dark chocolaty palate. Long finish, this is were tannins are assertive and show their ripeness the best, with black tea and dark chocolate lingering flavors. This has hidden potential to grow more interesting. 15% alc (93-94/100)
2004 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino
Dark red garnet color. Well developed and very expressive now, fresh, minty and sweet nose, it is very floral driven, dominated on the front by fresh black currant buds, violets and hawthorn aromas. It gains depth with aeration and shows amazing purity and definition of red cherry and black cherry fruit, tobacco and earth. Complex and probably the most expressive of all 3 wines. Full body and yet supple and smoothly textured, fully ripe and perfectly rounded tannins, it shows juicy blackberry and macerated black cherry palate. It is in the long finish that tannins are assertive, with black tea leaves and dark chocolate aftertaste. Wine of the tasting without question. 14.5% (94/100)
On April 3rd, 2013 I organized the “Tignanello & Friends” wine dinner with Nicusor. This was quite a line-up as we aimed at including 2 mini verticals of famous wines: Antinori’s Tignanello and Masi’s Serego Alighieri. I uncorked the wines around 18:00 and, luckily, there were no unpleasant surprises with the bottles.
We had two whites, both from Antinori: 2010 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Conte della Vipera and 2009 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala ‘Cervaro della Sala’ both from Umbria.
2010 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Conte della Vipera is 90-95% Sauv Blanc and 5-10% Semillon, fermented and vinified in stainless steel tanks. It started to be produced in 1997 for the first time. The wine has delicate herbal and mineral aromas, but lacks substance on the palate. (86/100)
It took almost 2-3 hours for 2009 Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala ‘Cervaro della Sala’ to open up and show its complete aromatic profile. A blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Grechetto, fermented and vinified in oak barrels, then aged for about 8-10 months in the same small oak barrels. Initially it boasts intense aromas of truffles, but after a few hours (and even the next day) the nose shows elegant aromas of toast, butter, walnuts and honey. It is full, round and unctuous on the palate, while the medium(+) finish leaves notes of tropical fruits and walnuts. This was actually better on the second day. (88-89/100)
The purpose of this tasting was to see wines from the most renowned Italian regions and to observe the subtle differences between different vintages for well renowned wines: Tignanello in three vintages – 2004, 2005 and 2008 – and Masi Serego Alligheri 2003 and 2005.
From Piedmont we had wines from Luciano Sandrone and Antinori’s winery – Prunotto. Luciano Sandrone started to make wine in 1978 in his parents garage. His 1978 Barolo produced in a tiny quantity – just 1500 bottles – was purchased entirely by an American wine merchant during 1982 Vinitaly’s fair. Since then the property grew and now consists of 27 ha of vines (75% owned) located in the famous Cannubi Cru and other parts of Barolo. His reputation saw an exponential ascension when his 1989 and 1990 minute quantities Barolo’s received 97/100 and 100/100 points from Robert Parker. He produces Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo d’Alba, and two Barolo’s, employing traditional vinification methods and modern technology.
I chose to serve first the 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore and not his Barbera d’Alba because I felt there is more concentration in Barbera than in the Burgundian character of his Nebbiolo. 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore is a well developed and maturing wine that develops gradually in the glass, showing discreet notes of violets, tobacco, herbs and dry red cherry. Integrated tannins that discreetly mark their presence underneath the wild cherry and spice layers. Medium(+) finish, with hints of drying tannins and sweet red cherry jams. The producer recommended drinking it between 2007-2012, but this is an understatement as the wine has plenty of life left. (91/100)
2005 Luciano Sandrone Barbera d’Alba has a deeper garnet color, a fully developed and intense nose, that was found to be more appealing by the participants. This is probably because 2005 was a cooler year and the wines were recommended for an earlier consumption. There are beautiful aromas of truffles, black cherry and coconut, while the palate is rich and expressive. It feels the wine is more concentrated and modern, while the tannins are fully integrated. The finish is medium long, and leaves juicy red cherry fruit flavors. Another wine that exceeded its life span and can last many more years. This was a big surprise for most participants to see how well this 8 years old Barbera showed. (90/100)
Prunotto is Antinori’s adventure in Barolo. Antinori started to distribute Prunotto’s wines in 1989, and in 1994 they got involved in the vinification process. In 1990 Albiera Antinori bought vines in Agliano (Barbera), Bussia (Barolo) and Calliano (for the study of Albarossa and Syrah). In 1996 they extended the property with 5 ha in Barbaresco (Bric Turot) and 5 ha in Treviso (Muscat). 2008 Prunotto Barolo Antinori is a fairly young Barolo and restrained in aromas. Tar, roses and dried red cherry fruit can be discreetly felt on the nose, while the tannins are smooth considering its age. (88-89/100)
The big moment expected by all the participants finally arrived. All three bottles of Tignanello were uncorked and left to breathe (just like the rest of the wines) in the bottle. We tasted simultaneously all three vintages: 2004, 2005 and 2008, looking to observe their subtle differences.
Tignanello was produced in 1970 for the first time, being the first Sangiovese wine in Tuscany blended with Cabernet. Since 1982 the blend remained unchanged: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.
2005 was from the beginning the most expressive and open wine of the three. 2005 Antinori Tignanello is fully developed and intense, surprising the nose with complex and subtle aromas of cedar, peppercorn, leather, dark chocolate and sweet cassis. This is today a beautiful wine, with integrated and soft tannins, rich and well defined flavors of juicy dark cherry and chocolate on the palate, savoury and finishing long and intense. Wine of the night for many. This had the closest profile of the three to a Bordeaux. (93/100)
2004 Antinori Tignanello was closed in the first 2-3 hours. It only started to open up and become expressive after 4 hours and what a fantastic wine it turned out to be. It has a warm and sunny aromatic profile that you meet in all great Tuscan wines. Well developed, complex and youthful on the nose, it combines intense primary aromas of black cherry, cassis and plums, with secondary and tertiary aromas of toast, leather and game. Still tight on the palate, but very ripe and silky tannins, smooth and soft texture, complex layers of flavors and very elegant. Long finish, showing juicy black cherry and chocolate flavors. This at the beginning of a long life, just starting to open up, but already offering great pleasure. It was the wine of the night for me. (94/100)
Compared to its younger brothers, 2008 Antinori Tignanello is an extremely youthful, intense and modern wine. For me this wine lacks the pleasure offered by 2004 and 2005 at the moment however, there are plenty of details that point to the bright future this wine will have in a few years. It does posses the structure, the smoothness and the rich layers of flavors typical to a successful Tignanello, but it feels totally closed today. (92/100)
After such great wines, the two Amarone’s faced a great challenge in front of the participants. I was pleasantly surprised by the balance that both 2003 and 2005 Masi Amarone Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron showed. The differences between the two are so subtle and yet so distinctive. 2003 seems to have more nerve and a richer texture, while 2005 seems to march more on freshness and balance. Both wines show sweet and soft tannins, smooth and velvety structure, while the palate is washed with a mix of dry black berry, black cherry and figs, licorice and hints of minerals. Long finish, elegant wines that really please. 2003 (91-92/100) and 2005 (91/100).
My top in a descending order: 2004 Tignanello, 2005 Tignanello, 2003 Masi Amarone Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron, 2004 Luciano Sandrone Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggiore.
You can watch the video presentation of this tasting in Romanian here: https://fromgrapestowine.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/video-wine-dinner-nr-5-vinuri-italiene-martie-28-2013/
Editia cu nr 5 a seriei de Wine-dinner a acoperit vinurile din Italia. Impreuna cu Matei Garici de la http://www.unvinpezi.ro am facut o prezentare a vinurilor si a modului cum se desfasoara un astfel de eveniment.
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