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Four great wines: Pierre Yves Colin Morey, Bruno Giacosa, Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc and Duhart Milon

January 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Had a lovely dinner on Monday evening at a friend’s house and four people managed to go quickly through 4 bottles of wines in just a couple of hours. It was not intended as a speed contest but when the wine is that good it just dries quickly from the glass.

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2012 Pierre Yves Colin-Morey Santenay 1er Cru “La Comme” was a stunning surprise for all of us. It’s the first time I’m buying and tasting this producer and for sure it won’t be the last time. In fact it just opened my appetite for discovering more of his wines. This Chardonnay from a less famous Burgundy appellation needs to spend some time in the decanter in order to reveal its exotic and exuberant aromatic profile. Rich and decadent, it exudes very intense aromas of ripe tropical fruits, yellow melon and mango, with complex shades of toast and vanilla. Again rich and highly textured in the mouth, it shows a perfect balance between sweet tropical fruit, stone minerality and vibrant acidity. Long finish, fresh with sweet fruit lingering in the aftertaste. I see lots of similarities with a great 1er Cru Puligny Montrachet. (95/100)

Second white was 2013 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc that shows good richness of citrus and tropical fruit, with vanilla and honeysuckle nose. It is more supple, with higher acidity typical for a Sauvignon Blanc, but overall a well balanced, rich and complete wine. (94/100)

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2007 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco spent about 1 h 30 min in the decanter before being poured. In the Burgundy Zalto glass this wine opens up very nice and quickly. It shows a rich aromatic profile where tar, fresh raspberries and rose petals take the center stage, and as it breathes more profound aromas of savory truffles jump from the glass. Supple and very smooth for such a young Barbaresco, it is full and supple on the palate, with silky smooth tannins, sweet and pure red cherry and raspberry fruit, spices and savory cured meat. Long finish, very elegant and feminine wine. (94-95/100)

2010 Chateau Duhart Milon spent only 20 minutes in the decanter before being poured in the glass, and it is surprisingly open already. It shows sweet cassis and pencil shavings, with refreshing cedar and brett. Full bodied, strong but polished tannins, good intensity of the fruit on the palate that balances the tannin structure. Long finish. (94/100)

Mondavi and Chapoutier

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

If it’s MON, chances are you might receive a call and get a new invitation to attend a new session with the very special Wine Club. I used to hate MON, but recently I discovered that I started to look forward to it. A call from this club is synonymous with a successful night out.

So here we are: I got invited once again. I did not know what’s going to be served but the surprises were at least very interesting and provided enough material for constructive discussions. We met at Casa di David and I have to say food was exquisite. Matching the wines with the food was smartly picked so the overall experience was flawless.

We had a seafood assortment containing Carpaccio of Dentex, sea-bass, shrimps, octopus and tuna served with a white from Languedoc, pasta with tomatoes and basil with an Australian Shiraz and a juicy magret de canard with a perfectly roasted crunchy skin on the outside with citrus fruit and sweet sauce pairing a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

2010 Chateau Capion Le Colombier Terrasses du Larzac Languedoc

Blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussanne. Yellow straw color. A well developed and sweet nose, reminding more of a sweet wine, showing lavish aromas of honey and linden mixed with dried stone fruits. Full, ample and unctuous on the palate, low acidity but still gaining credits by showing richness. Medium plus finish, a bit spicy. (88/100)

The salty flavors of the sea food dish paired extremely well with the sweet aromas of this white wine.

2008 M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Lady’s Lane Heathcote-Victoria Shiraz Australia

Decanted and left to breath for almost 2 hours and it still did not open up completely. This is far away from the unpleasant Australian fruit bombs. Deep red color. The nose is well developed and tempered, but showing good complexity and depth. It is ripe but there is more than just fruit behind it. Full bodied, rich and powerful, well balanced, the wine remains velvety on the palate, with sweet ripe tannins that feel completely integrated and flavors of dried figs, liquorice, black pepper, blackberry and bilberry jams. The finish is long with spicy, pure blackberry essence. The wine is big but it is elegant and well contained. 14.5% (90-91/100)

It paired pretty well with the pasta dish.

2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley

This one was decanted and left to breath for about 2h and a half. Opaque, deep red-purple color. This is an absolutely amazing wine. It has 15.5% alcohol, but it is perfectly balanced and you wouldn’t guess the high level.

A well developed, intense, elegant and complex nose, it has depth and it shows layers as it opens up. The aromatic profile shows sweet cassis, liquorice, smoke, leather, prunes, bilberry, cedar and sandalwood. Remarkably well structured, balanced, rich and elegant, this full bodied wine displays intense flavors complexity, which makes it rather difficult to describe, but it is the reason why it is a success. It is rich in tannin and from the first sip you can feel it is a manly wine, supple, showing distinguished flavors of prunes, blackberry, cedar and dark chocolate. The finish is long and rich. A wine that is perfectly enjoyable as it is now, but also with tremendous aging potential; it can evolve further and develop even more complexities. 15.5% (93/100)

It matched very well the duck breast’s juiciness, while the sweet sauce brought freshness to this wine.

Have I mentioned I love some MONDAY’s ?

2003 Castello Banfi Excelsus

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Sant’ Antimo Rosso DOC. This is surprisingly fresh considering the hot 2003 vintage and the over ripeness flavors that characterized most of the wines.

2003 Castello Banfi Excelsus

Deep dark red garnet color. Developed nose, good intensity and mild complexity, showing aromas of plums, ripe currants, tobacco and spices. Full bodied, fills your mouth completely, structured and well balanced, lush flavors on the palate and a medium to long finish. Briefly: mouth-filling, lush and ripe wine. 13% alc (90/100)

DAVINO Domaine Ceptura Rouge 2009 vs 2010

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I received two bottles of Domaine Ceptura Rouge 2010 and 2009 last week from DAVINO to entertain an academic exercise and compare the two wines. It is important to mention that Domaine Ceptura Rouge 2010 will probably be released on the market not earlier than the spring of 2013. That means that the wine ages in the bottle anywhere between 8-12 months prior to its release.

Domanine Ceptura Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Feteasca Neagra aged for 8-10 months in new Romanian oak barrels.

Perhaps the title is a bit tricky as both wines maintain the continuity in style and quality that DAVINO managed to build over the years. Perhaps what puts 2009 on a higher scale is the advantage of benefiting from an almost perfect ripening season. As stated before, 2009 was the best vintage over more than 20-30 years in Dealu Mare, having the right conditions at right time. The wines have lush fruit and fully ripe and sweet tannins. The 2010 was a more capricious vintage than 2009. However, rigorous work in the vineyard and keeping the yields low produced good quality fruit. Both wines show good structure and balance, intense aromas and flavors and a medium to long aftertaste. Both wines have enough complexities to make them enticing.

There is however a slight difference between the two vintages, as 2009 seems to possess voluptuous fruit – without being tiring or too much, on the contrary, the lush flavors and the fully ripe tannins make it extremely approachable and pleasant to drink already. What never stops to surprise me is how well it evolves on the second day after uncorking it, showing a more complex nose and more interesting flavors (appealing truffles aromas), retaining its freshness in spite of all its extraction. There is a real potential for evolution for this wine and, as tempting as it is to drink it now, do try to save some bottles as in 3-4 years this will be even better. I always enjoy it more on the second day. This is usually the characteristic of a great wine, to be better as it gradually opens up on the following day.

2010 exhibits a higher acidity making it fresher, with a suppler body, but still retaining the intense flavors and the structure. It certainly feels younger, but still elegant. I am rather sure that these additional 6-8 months of aging in the bottle will make it rounder and more harmonious. We find the same extraction that marks DAVINO’s style and I believe that  2010 will probably take more time to be as accessible as the ripe 2009.

There is unquestionably a consistency in style for Domaine Ceptura Rouge and this was even better highlighted by a vertical tasting of 6 vintages of DCR organized by Vinexpert last year. These two recent vintages only confirm this style and success.

Chateau Giscours 2007 Margaux

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

2007 was not a generous vintage for red wines in Bordeaux, it was certainly much better for the whites. Usually, the 2007 reds had unripe fruit, with herbaceous aromas, are rather thin on the palate, but the good part is that many are ready to drink already. There are certainly exceptions, but generally speaking that is the mark of the vintage.

Chateau Giscours 2007 Margaux

Dark red garnet color. There is a good intensity of aromas, a very nice and developed nose, with great typicality. There are exuberant aromas of smoky oak, black cherry, graphite, coffee and plenty of green vegetables: green bell peppers, asparagus and cut hay. Medium to full body on the palate, medium acidity, with friendly tannins, rather mellow considering its age, but well structured. Similar flavors on the palate, however the wine shows some lack of substance on the mid palate. Medium finish, a bit bitter, showing a mild presence of tannins in the aftertaste. The wine shows a good openness already and it drinks very well. The greenness is quite pronounced so I would suspect that this is the mark of the 2007 vintage. It is pleasant to drink as it is but I am not sure how much it will improve in time. There is no problem holding it for at least another 5 possible 8 years, but this is after all a vintage for short time enjoyment. (89-90/100)

I guess the problem with 2007 is that the quality is lower than the 2006 but the prices were a bit higher. So in many cases 2001 and 2004 can be better value for money, as the prices were much lower before the 2005 vintage. Consider your options and choose wisely.

2000 Chateau Chauvin Saint Emilion Grand Cru

This is a very intriguing wine. Chateau Chauvin is located very close to Chateau Cheval Blanc and aside from the typical Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines associated to the St-Emilion terroir, it has a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Even the label resembles somehow the one of Cheval Blanc.

2000 Chateau Chauvin St Emilion

The wine was rather charmless in the first few hours upon opening. The color is dark red-garnet with no signs of evolution. The nose is well developed and initially shows aromas of light red fruit, but vey spicy, smoky, mixing hot stones with graphite and some green bell pepper. However, after 3-4 hours this is a totally changed wine and it becomes very interesting: it gets a deep, rich floral character, losing the fruity aromas: it is the first wine I taste that feels like someone stuffed a bouquet of fresh, blue Hyacinth and smokey charcoal (very intriguing) in the glass. Medium to full bodied on the palate, with assertive tannins and a firm grip, lively, and flavors of graphite, spices and cigars ash. Medium finish, mint tea freshness, slightly bitter aftertaste, with green coffee bean and again cigars ash. I loved the deep floral character of this wine, but if you are looking for a fruit driven wine this should not be your pick. It needs a good dose of breathing in a decanter. 13.5% alc (90-91/100)

2005 Chateau Beychevelle Saint-Julien

Had this wine on SUN with lunch, after leaving it in a decanter for about 30 minutes.  Robert Parker gave it only 90 points. 2005 was an excellent vintage in Bordeaux, especially for the Left Bank.

2005 Chateau Beychevelle Saint-Julien

Youthful dark red garnet color. A well developed nose, intense, complex, with great aromas of cassis, pencil shavings, smoky plum, green bell pepper but just in a small dose, enough to increase its complexity and black cherry; a really nice nose. Full bodied, ripe and polished tannins, very balanced, with depth, fairly rich flavors on the palate and good freshness given by the mineral character. Long finish, spicy, with a very good drink-ability and very pleasant freshness. This wine is open and as much as it has a good aging potential, it is drinking extremely well already. 13% alc (93/100)

It would be interesting to find out how other 2005’s taste today.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve range @ Hilton Bucharest

On May 31, 2012 I attended a tasting of 6 wines from Kendall-Jackson organized by Lerida, the Romanian importer of these wines, at Hilton Hotel in Bucharest. The event was organized as a small wine fair, where people could go from one table to another and taste each individual wine, and started with a short presentation of the producer and its wines given by Mr Sergiu Nedelea.

I found out that Kendall-Jackson controls approximately 6,000 ha of vines in Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara County and is producing wines for nearly three decades. The Romanian importer offered two whites and four reds from the Vintner’s Reserve range for the tasting.

As an overall impression, these cannot be characterized as subtle wines – especially the whites that march rather heavily on toasty oak flavors, while the reds are intended for relatively short to medium term drinking. All wines are pleasantly balanced and have good, relatively low alcohol levels (13-13.8%), with minty aromas (the reds) that make them easier to drink and enjoy.

2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc can benefit from a little aeration in the glass. It starts with a pronounced smoky nose initially, but, as it settles down, it gives some nice floral aromas underneath the ripe white fruit. Round and mouth-filling with a honeysuckle finish.

2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is deeply gold colored and has intense aromas of toasty oak and butter, full bodied and creamy on the palate, with intense tropical flavors and a medium finish. This is a bit too oaky for me.

I also tasted:

2008 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir, highly extracted, but balanced overall;

2008 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot that shows a good structure, probably the best of the 4 reds tasted, and feels supple on the palate;

2008 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Shiraz with pronounced spicy aromas, a dense and rich nose, but also showing some unusual metallic flavors (other people I discussed with sampled the same wine from a different bottle that showed a cooked character, so it seems there are some bottle variations for Shiraz). Balanced and enjoyable overall.

2007 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was rather closed both on the nose as on the palate, and only after a few good tens of minutes in the glass showed a more expressive, fruit driven profile.

2007 SERVE Cuvee Alexandru

May 17, 2012 3 comments

This wine is not available on the market yet. We (I) all hope that one day (this year) it will be. I appreciate the company’s strategy to hold on to this wine until it gives the maximum pleasure. The same strategy is, sadly, used by only a handful of producers for some selected wines; in my opinion this shows that these producers value their clients as the winery takes some risks by sitting on a stock of wines for a few years without cashing out immediately.

I attended a few weeks ago a tasting of a couple of Corsican wines that will be introduced to the Romanian market by SERVE and during this tasting Mr Aurel Rotarescu, Serve’s winemaker, shared his thoughts with me (I actually pushed the question and he kindly answered it) about Cuvee Alexandru: in his opinion this wine is ready to be enjoyed. After tasting the wine this week, I can only agree with him. It seems that their guys in Marketing and Sales are not yet convinced about that.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon coming from low yields of only 25 hl/ha from 30 years old vines from a special parcel that unfortunately does not exist anymore. The 30 years old vines gave their fruit in 2007 and then the parcel was replanted with new vines.

Last time I tasted this wine was at the end of 2010. Back then, the wine had a charming nose, already developed, but it felt a bit thin on the palate. The aromatics on the nose were more complex than the 2007 Cuvee Charlotte, but Charlotte was more extractive and felt more compelling in the mouth.

2007 SERVE Cuvee Alexandru

Dark red garnet color. The nose is well developed, complex and already very expressive. It start initially with rich, primary aromas of sweet dark cherry, black currant and dry plums, but as it aerates, the wine gains more depth with aromas of roasted red bell pepper, leather, cedar, cinnamon and cloves, with a touch of cocoa powder. It shows more density than it did in 2010, it gained more muscle and rounded, becoming a really intense, extractive and interesting wine. Fully ripe and sweet tannins, well structured and balanced in spite of its 14.5% alc, the wine is fleshy, lush and coats the palate like a velvet glove. Intense aromas in the mouth and a compelling long finish. This is a very nice wine that can age well. (92+/100)

*Disclosure: just like the rest of my wine blogging colleagues, I received this bottle as a Christmas gift from SERVE.

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