Tasting Some Delicious Barolo

I recently had the chance to taste a variety of Barolo, with a particular focus on the 2007 vintage. Lots of great wines and food come from this famed area in Piedmont, Italy with Barolo often described as the wine of kings and the king of wines. While there’s various other regions that would dispute this title, there’s no doubt that these wines made from the notoriously difficult to grow Nebbiolo grape are some of the most compelling wines made anywhere. We tasted wines from 7 of the regions prominent producers but there’s so many others that I’ve still yet to try. It was hard to choose top wines but the clear favorite was definitely the 2007 Andrea Oberto Vignetto Albarella Barolo. The 2013 Bersano was perhaps the biggest surprise for me as I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite my initial concern that it might be a bit too young to drink. Check out my notes on all of the wines below to see how each of the wines were tasting.

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2011 Borgogno Barolo – This was a nice Barolo to drink now, it can age longer but after some short decanting was ready to drink. Primarily dark plum, blueberry and raspberry with some tar, violets, thyme and cedar. What you expect from a Barolo of this age in an alright earlier drinking year. Definitely worth drinking but I wouldn’t run out and buy a whole case of the stuff.

2007 Brovia Ca’ Mia Barolo – This could have been just a bad bottle but this wine was certainly nothing special. At 12 years of age I would expect some tertiary notes but this wine smelled and tasted of candied dark and red fruits with some indistinct herbal and oak notes. I had the highest hopes for this wine but I was left disappointed, particularly by the lack of structure and short finish.

2007 Andrea Oberto Vignetto Albarella Barolo – Hands down the wine of the night. Elegant but structured. With dark but also red fruits. With lots of secondary dried herb, violet, tar, cedar, vanilla and licorice but still plenty of fruit to carry it all. Great mouthfeel, great long finish and expectedly grippy tannins that could integrate a lit further but are by no means offensive to the taste of this truly delicious wine.

2013 Bersano Nirvasco Barolo – This was the youngest of the Barolo wines but it’s made in a distinctly modern style. It’s light-bodied, has grippy tannins and has both crunchy and ripe sour red fruits, fresh herbs, black tea, roses and baking spice. I really enjoyed this one a lot. It had a reasonably long finish and a definite delicious factor but I don’t think this one will last long term. Buy some of this and drink it over the next 7-8 years.

2007 Bricco Sarmassa Brezza Barolo – This was pretty similar to the Borgogno, definitely dark fruit dominant with some riper fruits but more distinct floral and tar notes coming through. Holds a really good balance with integrated tannins that balance with the elevated acidity so common in Barolo.

2007 Cordero Di Montezemolo – This was the first wine of the night and this was probably not the best spot for it. The wine was closed down but with definite potential, length and power. This seemed to made in a more traditional style and I would be inclined to revisit the wine again in 5-7 years or to give it at least several hours in a good decanter. Tasted it again towards the end of the evening, the nose was starting to become floral with licorice, tar, barnyard and cedar. The quality is definitely there and I really liked it on the second taste.

2015 Fontanabianca Barbaresco – This one started with red fruits, grippy tannins, some oak influence and basically no developing qualities. I didn’t think it was terrible but it lacked structure, was a little out of balance and the length or lack thereof was painfully apparent. I could see it as a good everyday weekday wine if it wasn’t about twice the price of what I’d expect to pay for a Tuesday night sipper.

All in all this was a great tasting. Lots of really delicious Barolo and a good opportunity to compare different styles of Barolos. While it wasn’t intended we definitely got a good sense of the 2007 Barolo vintage and had the chance to compare producers from the perspective of modern versus traditional and also to a lesser extent Barolo versus Barbaresco. A successful evening to say the least!

Do you have a favorite Barolo? Let me know in the comments!

Cheers,

Ben

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2015 Seguin-Manuel Bourgogne Hatues-Côtes de Beaune

It’s another one of those nights where I want to enjoy a nice glass of Pinot.. Actually that’s every night, but alas here we go.

This is the Seguin-Manuel Bourgogne Hatues-Côtes de Beaune. Not a wine that I would generally reach for from a wine rack but a pleasant wine nonetheless. It’s gotten to the point here in Newfoundland where the provincially controlled liquor corporation has basically stopped bringing in high-quality Pinot Noir despite the fact that there’s a demand for it. After many years of an upward turn in quality wines, particularly from Bordeaux, I’m seeing less and less quality on the shelves. This of course hits even harder when there’s a high demand for top quality Burgundy globally so less to go around. All things being equal I reached for this wine. I could have gotten similar quality from California, Oregon, Chile and Canada but sometimes the heart and palate want what they want. 1734652709832961869_IMG_9159

I narrowed in on this bottle because it was from the 2015 vintage. A vintage that I knew to be of high quality and just old enough for this wine to mellow out. The ripe and concentrated fruits from this vintage are apparent here, which I’m very happy about. I’ve had far to many watery off-vintage Bourgogne and I wanted to avoid this if at all possible.

Red sour cherries, wild strawberries, blueberries, liquorice, mint and a touch of violet coming through. Similar palate with sour cherry character prominent on the palate, mineral character coming through and definite liquorice and baking spice notes. Slightly grippy tannins along with an above average finish for the style and amply acidity.

I think this a very nice wine that definitely met my expectations. I didn’t come in expecting the stars but it was definitely moving towards the higher end of quality for Bourgogne class wines and I’m good with that. It will hold me over for our Barolo tasting tomorrow night, which is something I’m sure stoked about.

Cheers,
Ben

2005 Mount Mary Vineyard Yarra Valley Chardonnay

I wasn’t going to blog about wine on a Friday night, I was just going to sit back and enjoy a glass of this Aussie Chardonnay. I had a sense the wine might be good but I was also a little worried about if it had past its peak. 1444094683390400014_IMG_8984

Upon pouring using Coravin I could tell that this wine was moving towards a golden hue. A definite sign of some age and potential oxidation. What I encountered when I stuck my nose in the glass was something I didn’t expect. The wine was rich, bold, ripe and smelling beautifully. If I was drinking this wine blind there’s no way that I wouldn’t have guessed Meursault or Montrachet. Not even village level either, this was tasting like some seriously good Premier Cru aged Burgundy. The nose was bold but definitely more restrained than the palate with white peach, lemon curd, golden apple, almond and honeysuckle. The palate had this but was also showing nectarine, bread and flinty notes. The acidity is just a touch above medium, medium alcohol, medium body and medium + finish. Loving the mouthfeel of this wine and pretty much everything else about it. Really Delicious!

I’ve had plenty of good wine from the Yarra Valley but we don’t generally get any of their exceptional wines here. I suspect that not that much of the stuff makes it out of the country. I was glad to see this one on last chance to buy with only one bottle left. It wasn’t inexpensive but I can tell you that it compared to lots of $100 plus White Burgundy that I’ve drank. Do yourself a favour and try the wines of the Yarra Valley if you haven’t already. The region is known for their cool-climate so as you might suspect their Pinot Noir is also on point.

What a great way to start the weekend!

Cheers,
Ben

2016 Maison Denuziere Les Galets Crozes-Hermitage

It has been some time since I’ve written a post. It has been a busy time, which included taking a family vacation to Florida, working lots, being sick and just a lack of desire to write about wine.
That being said I’m starting to feel in the mood to share the wines I’m drinking again and I couldn’t think of a better way to start than with this great value from the Northern Rhone. IMG_3632
The 2016 Maison Denuziere Les Galets Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Syrah from the vast region that is Crozes-Hermitage. Not that it’s that massive in the grand scheme of things but it does cover quite a large area and in a good year produce roughly the same amount of wine as the 7 other Northern Rhone regions combined. The name Les Galets on the wine would seem to elude to Galets roulés, which is a specific kind of stone found in the vineyards of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, another major wine growing area just south in the Southern Rhone valley. Maybe the same kind of stones can be found there but this is where the similarities between the two regions stop. 
The wine is aged partially in oak and partially in vats with the vintage impacting what percentage of which. This helps the wine maintain a nice freshness despite the fact the wine feels rounded and full-bodied on the palate.
Opened and left to sit in the glass for about 45 minutes just because it was seeming a little tight and closed off. Dark and red fruit aromas, namely blackberry, dark plum and raspberry. The wine is counterbalanced by distinct savoury aromas of white peppercorns, grilled and smoked meat, garrigue and liquorice. Rounded tannins, medium acidity and a pleasant and nice finish, although not an exceptionally long finish. This is fairly typical of a Crozes-Hermitage wine, although generally one that is at a bit of a higher price point.
This is a solid everyday wine sitting in that $25 and under price point. If you’re looking for affordable high-quality Northern Rhone wines Crozes-Hermitage is a great place to look. If I had my choice I’d be drinking a lot more Cote-Rotie but that’s not always possible so that’s why I keep wines like this one around for my everyday drinking needs. Nothing suits a steak better than a juicy, peppery and herbaceous full-bodied red and that’s exactly what I drank this wine with. A solid pairing if I do say so myself.
Cheers,
Ben

2005 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon

My first post ever on this blog highlighted a Wynns wine which I was drinking at the time. A Wynns Coonawarra Estate “The Gables” Cabernet Shiraz blend. I generally try not to post wines from the same winery more than once, especially ones that are well-known the world over, but what can I say, I have a soft spot for these wines it would seem. Today I want to share with you the 2005 Wynns Coonwarra Estate John Riddoch Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a little background on the region to help in understanding the wine, terroir and significance of this bottling.

Coonawarra was first planted with grapevines, by a Scottish settler of all people. His name was John Riddoch, yes the same John Riddoch that this wine is named after. According to the bottle the plantings began in 1891, with the wineries initial plantings finished by 1896. The infamous red “Terra Rossa” soils, which only stretch over an area of 1km wide by 15 km long, are some of the most well-known in the world. The soils, climate and magic here, along with the best sites in Bordeaux and Napa, produce some of the best wines in the world.

According to the history of the region it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows as “it wasn’t until 1951, when Melbourne-based winemaker and merchant Samuel Wynn and Co. purchased the property, that Coonawarra’s wine industry was revitalized.” In more recent times it’s the wineries long time winemaker Sue Hodder that has taken charge of the estates legacy. Now in her 27th year as winemaker, she has an intimate knowledge of the vast vineyards at her disposal and based on recent tastings of other Wynns wines I’ve had, it seems as if they’re only getting better. It’s also true that it’s not just the estates top wines, which are highly sought after, but also vine cuttings. Apparently there are “14 different clones, including heritage selections, with many still on their own rootstocks” that people seek to use in the planting of their own vineyards. img_3335

It wasn’t entirely by accident that I decided to open this bottle of wine this evening. I mean I was making homemade lamb burgers and grilling up sausages as part of a feast for a bunch of close friends, which I guess could be considered reason enough. But I was also doing so to honour the memory of a family friend named Sue. She was kind, compassionate and most definitely loved a good glass of Cabernet. She didn’t want flowers, she wanted us to remember the important things. To enjoy family, life and to do nice things for others. I could think of no better send-off then to drink an astounding bottle of wine in her memory. It wasn’t until after I had finished the bottle that I made the connection that this wine was made by a female winemaker, who’s also named Sue. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

This 2005 Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet starts off with prominent blackberry and cassis notes on the nose along with thyme, eucalyptus and earth coming through as well. On the palate more pronounced with leather, white pepper, coffee and liquorice all coming through in their own distinct way. The tannins have softened and the medium + acidity provides some freshness to this concentrated yet elegant wine. Once upon a time I imagine this may have been bolder and highly tannic but now it has mellowed and taken on ample secondary character. The wine is complex, delicious and surprisingly food friendly and I would recommend purchasing for near term drinking if you can find it.

Ever had this bottling? Like the wines of the region? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,
Ben

 

 

Champagne Bonnaire Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Who doesn’t love Champagne? Not anybody that I know. I think it’s fair to say that bubbles and Champagne in particular is one of those universal things that is enjoyed for celebrations the world over. It’s great that Champagne is able to put off that image but when the price and the quality is right it can also be a damn enjoyable splurge on the weekend or just to celebrate the simple joys of life. 7854190416_img_8905 (1)

I know when I’m buying Champagne that I’m going to be shelling out some cash but I think there’s some great values to be found. Whether these wines are coming from smaller Champagne houses or lesser known Grower-Champagne producers there’s deals to be found. In Canada as a whole, with the possible exception of Quebec, you would be lucky to find a Champagne in the sub $50 range. This particular wine the Champagne Bonnaire Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs was a dreamy $40 Canadian on purchase, believe it may have been slightly discounted, but drank like a wine almost twice the price. This price may still be a little steep for some people but the reality is you get what you pay for and if you care about wine the way I do, I don’t mind splurging an extra $10-15 to drink something nice on the weekend. It’s an article for another day to be sure but I do think it’s important to know how much you can or ought to spend on wine. For me this Champagne was just at the edge of my budget but well worth it.

Now to take a look at the wine. Upon putting the wine to my nose it was clear that this wine was made in a creamy style and that malolactic fermentation had indeed occurred. Ripe green apples, lemon, pear jelly, brioche and some mineral character. There’s still refreshing and sharp acidity to balance out the creaminess of this hedonistic and well crafted wine. A very pleasant wine indeed.

Who else enjoys their bubbles?

Cheers,
Ben

Why I Drink So Much New Zealand Pinot Noir

As a lover of Pinot Noir it’s no surprise that I love the wines of Burgundy. However, given the astronomical cost of good Burgundy and the lack of availability in my region I have had to seek out Pinot from other regions to satiate my thirst. With lots of New Zealand wines on the shelves at a reasonable cost it’s no wonder I’ve been drinking a lot of these wines.

The country’s cool climate and often rolling landscape help provide various styles of Pinot Noir. Many of the best are aromatic, lush and silky while maintaining freshness. While this particular wine is from Marlborough, several other regions produce compelling examples of Pinot Noir, namely: Central Otago Martinborough and Wairarapa. My favourites are usually from Central Otago but Marlborough seems to take precedence on our shelves as top notch Sauvignon Blanc’s from the region often get shipped with that brands respective Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris or Merlot offering.

7791197232_img_8897 This particular wine the 2015 Tinpot Hut Pinot Noir starts off with dark fruit – black cherry and plum – notes with further raspberry, vanilla, clove and forest floor. This is a touch ripe, in my opinion, the wines structure carries this ripeness well but it does have the tendency to make the wine a touch clunky. The wine also appears to be aged in oak with a fair bit of this character showing through on the wide. The oak is well integrated but perhaps just a little judiciously used. I find the wine to be surprisingly a little funky which I wouldn’t expect from a 4 year old wine. The soft tannins and medium acidity provide for a rounded and weighty wine with a good but not exceptional finish. This is a wine that I did quite enjoy despite my personal preference for a more firm, less ripened Pinot. I think this wine would be very much suited to a classic Pinot and duck pairing or perhaps with a mushroom heavy dish.

As I seem to be drinking a lot of the stuff does anyone have any recommendations for New Zealand reds, Pinot Noir particularly?

Cheers,
Ben