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Italy’s finest

I had the privilege to attend an exclusive lunch where the theme was as you will read below Italy’s grandest Grand Cru wines. It was more of a Gaja themed line-up of wines completed with some of the most famous and cult like Super Tuscan’s.

All Gaja’s reds from Piedmont region are high priced wines of considerable force and character. Out of their portfolio, 3 wines stand aside even more as they are produced only from 3 separate single vineyards, all being made of 94-95% Nebbiolo with a small touch of Barberba d’Alba that gives them a higher complexity, but on the same time forbids them to carry the Barolo DOCG appellation. These 3 single Cru wines are the highest expression of Gaja’s know how and Nebbiolo’s interpretation coming from this top producer. They also give life to 3 different expressions of terroir diversity that make wine such an interesting beverage.

The red wines line up started with an older mature wine that today at 25 years old is singing, while the rest were very young (2006), powerful and not overly expressive in comparison. As a conclusion these wines need at least 15 years of bottle age to start to open up.

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We started with a Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee no 737 made of 70% wines from the 2009 vintage the rest older wines, from Premier and Grand Cru vines from Grande Vallee de la Marne and Cotes des Blancs. It is maturated sur lies in big oak barrels. It is 43% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier, disgorged in November 2013. Color is medium gold with intense mousse. Initially very citrus like fruit, fresh dough and biscuit with a razor sharp palate, but after 30-45 minutes it gets softer with complex aromas of caramel, milk and pear, with a rounder and softer palate. Medium finish. (91/100)

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Gaja Sori Tildin 1990

Ruby red with brick light rim. Pure fresh cedar and mint nose. Extremely expressive. Also black currant buds.
Deep nose, ethereal, rich red fruit, cherries, smoke, game, dry rose petals, balsamic as it aerates. Mineral tones refresh the nose. Rich palate and such a silky smooth mouth feel, lots of red fruits and spices, tar. Very long finish with lingering aftertaste that comes back over and over . Plenty of life ahead, the amplitude of fruit is unbelievable. Very Burgundian like character. 96/100
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 Gaja Sori Tildin 2006
 Deep dark red color. This seems more closed both on the nose and the palate, very tight actually, red fruits, raspberry, cherry, roses, tar, Asian spices. A warm nose. Fresh cedar. Tight palate, assertive and high tannins, ‎youthful, rich legs on the glass, a fat and heady wine, aromas of red cherry, spices, very powerful, lots of structure. Very unforgiving in its youth. ‎Long finish, assertive tannins. 94/100
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Gaja Costa Russi 2006
Deep ruby red. Lots of strawberries and raspberries. Spices. Warm nose. Balsamic, a bit ripe. Warm palate. Kind of angular in the mouth and quite unsatisfying for the price. 91-92/100
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Gaja San Lorenzo 2006
Deep red almost opaque. Very deep nose, lost of fruit, more black fruit than red, blackcurrant, spices. Very concentrated, lush texture, lots of grainy tannins, plenty of sour cherries, plums, very youthful, toasty and tobacco. It is more international and comes along as a modern Barolo. Long finish. A very powerful wine with a mountain of tannins that needs plenty of time to get soft but it does have a certain weightless feeling in the mouth that makes it even more appealing. Real potential here. (95/100)
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There was also a 1974 Castello di Neive Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano that was cloudy in the glass and unfortunately completely dead.
There were not just any Super Tuscan’s that followed, we are talking about the most sought after investment wines from Italy: Masseto and Sassicaia.
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2009 was a warmer vintage so Sassicaia is a bit different than the regular style. There is a riper and more ample fruit both on the nose and palate, with softer tannins and richly textured. Plenty of black fruits, spices, charcoal and leather. Velvety tannins, lingering sweet black berry fruit, spices and a spicy paprika touch. Long finish. (93-94/100)
Today 2009 Sassicaia comes along more as the poor relative of the noble family consisting of this famous wines from Gaja.
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Masseto 2008
Leaving the crazy price aside, Masseto is a wine with its own category. 2008 Masseto has a very dark and opaque red garnet color. Deep and profound nose, very complex and constantly evolving in the glass. There is ripe and sweet black fruit, but there is freshness with cedar and pine needles. Very rich on the palate, dense and concentrated texture, but it has acidity and refreshing velvety tannins that create an amazing balance. Very long and complex wine. The 15.5% alc is just a number here. (97-98/100)
Crazy line up of wines for a regular weekday lunch.

2008 W Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses

10393152_10206456186989319_477043565601356494_nI had several times many bottles of Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru, but not as often as I would like did I encounter the Grand Cru Chablis. It is recommended to drink it 5-6 years after the vintage in order for the aromas and flavor profile to fully develop.

2008 W. Fevre Chablis Grand Cru ‘Les Preuses’ is a beautiful wine. Medium gold color. It takes about 20 minutes in the bottle before the wine really starts to reveal itself. Lush aromas of sweet honey sprinkled on top of ripe citrus and exotic fruits, mango and papaya, with a touch of mineral crushed stones that bring freshness and  complexity. Rich and intense on the palate, with vibrant acidity and a glacier water like purity that makes memorable the tasting experience. There are plenty of exotic fruits, honey and wet stones flavors in the mouth. Medium to long finish, very fresh and exuberant. W. Fevre is the biggest owner of Chablis Grand Cru vineyards so more power for having this quality. (93/100)

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Paired with sea bass cooked in a salt crust, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and cherry tomatoes reduction just 1 week before the Easter it was a truly amazing culinary experience. It’s always better to choose a bigger fish if possible (mine was 1.2 kg) when cooking in a salt crust as the taste and the flesh is considerably better than the small fish.

Not an average wine-dinner

October 29, 2013 1 comment

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I was recently invited to attend the anniversary dinner organized by a good friend celebrating his birthday. A wine geek himself and big fan of red Italian and prestige wines, it was no surprise that the red wines tasted were all from Italy. With one exception the rest of the wines were all a first encounter for me.

Tuna tartar, fresh oysters and lobster salad were served with 2004 Cristal Champagne. A pale yellow lemon color with smooth and rich mousse, that opened up in stages on the nose and palate. Fresh dough, citrus fruit and a hint of crushed stones form the medium(+) intense and well developed nose. Medium(+) body, very acidic on the first sip, it opens up with air and becomes rounder, mellower and more enjoyable. Medium(+) finish, with bright citrus fruit, Granny Smith apple acidity and lingering hints of minerals. (92/100)

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Served with fresh pasta with butter and white truffles it was 2009 Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc (Pessac-Leognan). It ranks in the first Top 3 white wines I had this year. The color is pale yellow lemon. The nose shows great Pessac-Leognan typicality with generic smoked vanilla and tropical fruits, but it starts up gradually in intensity. The first nose is shy and it takes about 2 hours to fully reveal its intensity. It’s a different story on the palate: the level of flavor concentration it’s outstanding, you can literally taste fresh vanilla, smoke, fresh tangerines, mango and papaya, pears, peaches and white apricots. Flawless mouth-feel, medium acidity (that’s a surprise and probably that’s why is so enjoyable now), balanced and intense. Long finish, fresh and flamboyant, with plenty of exotic and tropical fruits. I fell in love with it. (97-98/100)

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Shifting to reds, the menu moved towards red meat: medium-rare tuna steak with grilled vegetables. Served in parallel there were 2006 Trinoro from Tenuta di Trinoro and 2007 Masseto from Ornellaia. 2006 Trinoro has the nose and mouth-feel of an Amarone. The color is deep dark red garnet. The nose is medium(+) intense, well developed and rich, with unusual Amarone like aromas: chocolate, rum and over ripe black fruits: blackberry, black cherry, cranberry and leather. The taste is full bodied, rich and concentrated, with medium polished tannins, with juicy blackberry, rum and chocolate. Medium(+) finish, black fruit liquor and sweet feel. (89-90/100)

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2007 Masseto is a totally different ball game. Tasted blind this could go for a sunny Pomerol. The color is medium red garnet color. Pronounced, elegant, well developed and complex nose, it takes time to open up. A mix of black cherry, plums, chocolate, cedar and graphite are just a few aromas of the complex nose. Full bodied, yet supple and elegant, the wine is a  monument of balance and complexity. The high level of polished tannins, the richness and concentration are outstanding. The 15% alcohol is just a number in this case, because the wine has freshness, elegance and a weightless mouth-feel. Long and pronounced finish, with fresh red fruits and coffee. (98/100)

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A 2008 Trinoro was also served to see if it has a similar profile of an Amarone like 2006. The color is deep red garnet. The nose is well developed, pronounced, intense and sweet. The ripe black fruit profile is there but manages to preserve freshness and hints of coffee. Full body, high polished and sweet tannins, sweet and juicy blackberry and cranberry, dark chocolate, plums, but still fresh. Long finish, lingering juicy black fruits. (93/100)

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Dinner was finished with a NV Billecart-Salmon Rose to wash the palate. Pink salmon color, intense mousse. Biscuit, bright red fruits and grapefruit, fresh and citrus palate, medium finish. (90-91/100)

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O verticala de exceptie cu Dom Perignon

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Wine-dinner nr 5 – Italian wines (the story)

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

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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)

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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)

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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/

(Video) Wine-dinner Nr 5 – Vinuri italiene (Aprilie 3, 2013)

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

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.

Pentru cei interesati sa participe la urmatoarele editii, imi puteti trimite un mail pe adresa: cosmin.grozea@gmail.com

(Video) Degustare de Prince Matei 2000 si 2008 de la Vinarte

March 22, 2013 Leave a comment

In episodul de azi al seriei “Aventuri in lumea vinului” apare unul dintre vinurile importante din Romania intr-o mini verticala alcatuita din doi ani diferiti: 2000 si 2008.

Episod transmis in data de 20.03. 2013 pe http://www.gandul.info/gandul-live/

Vizionare placuta !

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