Speed date afternoon with some of @napavintners finest
We have all been thinking about California lately. As of September 15th a staggering 7,718 wildfires have burned 3,154,107 acres, damaged or destroyed 5,412 structures and killed 20 people. Devastating numbers and when you begin to read headlines like “Maps: Fires and Air Quality in California, Oregon and Washington,” “California wildfires leave behind trail of devastation and death” and “Smoke from the U.S. wildfires has reached six Canadian provinces,” well then you begin to worry about so many more people and places. Be thankful there is wine.
If intoxicating then well, wine is also nourishing, may even heal the ulcers through which we in the world are bleeding and the acreage where those on the west coast are burning. That is why yesterday’s communication from Napa Valley Vintners struck a chord. The press release began this way. “Wine has the power to bring people of all different backgrounds together. The vintners in Napa Valley believe our community and industry should be open and welcoming to people of colour, whether working in the industry, visiting Napa Valley or enjoying our wines anywhere. With that in mind, today we pledge over $1,000,000 in scholarship and mentorship programs to increase diversity, inclusivity and opportunity in all aspects of the wine industry.” Amazing. The world is burning all around and Napa Valley keeps working towards what’s better, planning for what’s essential and announcing the following:
We are proud to team up with the following organizations to achieve this goal:
Bâtonnage: Educating on the challenges and opportunities women and minorities face in the wine industry
UNCF (United Negro College Fund): Giving all Americans equal access to a college education
Wine Unify: Amplifying the diverse voices of wine professionals
This new support builds on NVV’s longtime commitment to youth mentorship programs in Napa County through Auction Napa Valley proceeds. This year alone, nearly $2 million was invested in nine local non-profits whose mission is to close the achievement gap and help at-risk youth succeed. We have asked our members and trade partners to join us in this effort. While there is still much work ahead, we look forward to welcoming an increasingly diverse chorus of voices to our valley and our industry. Learn more about the NVV efforts.
Invest $1 million in new scholarships
NVV will partner with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more. Each year over the next five years, NVV will invest $200,000 in scholarships and will encourage its members to bolster the scholarship program with donations to help even more students and to ensure the effort extends beyond five years. UNCF has been managing scholarships for minority students for 75+ years and is the largest and most successful minority organization of its kind.
Invest more than $100,000 in two new mentorship programs
Bâtonnagefosters solutions for a more positive, inclusive path forward for women and ethnic and racial minorities to achieve equal representation, equal opportunities and equal leadership positions within our industry. Over the next three years, NVV will help fund a mentorship program aimed at providing resources, guidance, recommendations, internships and training programs.
Wine Unify was founded by Napa locals Martin Reyes MW, DLynn Proctor, and Mary Margaret McCamic MW. Their mission is to welcome, elevate, and amplify the voices of underrepresented minorities through mentorship and education. NVV has committed to work with Wine Unify over the next three years to help fund their ongoing programs.
Which brings me back to an event in Toronto one year ago, hosted by Napa Valley Vintners and their Canadian partner Paula Oreskovich at Energy Plus Communications. Napa Valley “Celebration of Excellence” Speed Tasting and Trade Tasting was held on November 7th at the Royal Ontario Museum. More than 25 vintners from the Napa Valley were on hand. Trade were afforded three minutes with each producer/vintner to hear their story, taste their two wines per station and ask questions before moving on to the next vintner. It was a thrilling experience as a dating journey to Napa Valley from grape to glass. Wines from Napa, Spring Mountain, Oak Knoll, Oakville, Stags Leap, St. Helena, Yountville, Rutherford, Calistoga and other appellations were poured. Most impressive were the many varied back vintages shared by these producers and their Ontario agents.
So the question begs, why am I sharing my tasting notes with you now, almost one year later. First and foremost to remind us all that California needs to be front and centre in our minds and hearts. Second, many of these singular wines are still available in very limited quantities through VINTAGES. Third, because I feel like it. Here are my notes on 24 wines tasted.
From the Napa Valley side of Carneros but also with fruit grown up as far as the foothills of Mount Veeder. Very pure and clear pinot, red fruit juicy, candied in a terrifically stylish and delicious way. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted November 2019
From winemaker Aaron Pott, mainly Oak Knoll fruit off of 20-plus lots sourced in Napa Valley off mountain tops, from hillsides, on bench lands and off of valley floor vineyards. Nearly two years in half new, half seasoned French barrels. A blend of merlot (55 per cent), cabernet franc (25) and cabernet sauvignon 17) with a splash of petit verdot in a mere mortal’s affordable flagship red. Surely a nod to Pomerol with a wink at Napa Valley. Tart, intense tang and really good acidity but also woody and yes the name is Beatles related. “All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.” Drink 2021-2025. Tasted November 2019
From the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley and surely Black Stallion’s head of the stable, signature triple-crown wine. A top tier cabernet sauvignon made from the best grapes grown on mountain sites above the fog line. Not just one hilltop vineyard with a view but several; Veeder, Spring, Diamond and Howell, with two per cent Oakville tossed in for good grounding and balancing measure. A four-part essential, Mountain Napa a cappella performance that simply demonstrates, in complex music written for four voices, what a layered wine cane be and in doing so, expresses wow factor times four. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted November 2019
Bordeaux idea with fruit from Spring Mountain, five pronged and truth be told only Cain Five smells this. Earth and soil, elevation and intensity. Botanicals, tar, hillside tea, brush and weeds, natural yeasts and so bloody savoury. Sensorial experience in the fifth degree. Persistently doles out palate amercements with seamless consistency and the pain is all pleasure, each lashing accepted submissively like the one before. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted November 2019
Fruit sources are both Stags Leap District and Yountville AVAs with smaller portion support by petit verdot, merlot and cabernet franc. It’s predominately SLD with one quarter coming from Yountville in a most classically dark-berried and unctuous Napa Valley style. The aridity of the vintage and at this point the age have conspired to accentuate the concentration and the spice. Correct to the nth degree. Drink 2019-20212. Tasted November 2019
A reserve cabernet sauvignon at 77 per cent with petit verdot in Calistoga. Bloody unctuous, deliciously lush and luxe cabernet. Though set into a price range with parameters of equivocation, for those who seek the tête de cuvée of a professional Napa Valley estate’s cabernet range with a true microcosmic sense of place, this Hommage signature from Clos Pegase will rise to that fore. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted November 2019
The signature cabernet sauvignon from southern valley sites where cooler winds can prevail and off of estate vineyards in the Mount Veeder and Napa Valley AVA’s. This ’16 is possessive of it all with twang acidity tang surrounding the rich chalky liquidity of the southern valleys’ cabernet beauty. Highly composed wine, in total clarity, control and surprisingly fresh alacrity. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted November 2019
From winemaker Kirk Venge who practices the art of fashioning varietal wines “for more glasses”, and making a wish for all of us to stop everything you’re doing, to take stand and notice that “this is what we’ve made.” Not so much a contemplation, rumination or meditation as a recognition and an appreciation. In this case a 100 per cent estate Oak Knoll cabernet aged in 80 per cent new French Oak for silky smooth texture and dry as the desert styling. Quite finessed and harnessed for exemplary balance. Ready to rock. Drink 2 020-2024. Tasted November 2019
Hand-brushed vineyards, which is winemaker Jenny Wagner’s way of crop thinning. Good acidity lean and sharp, really impressive and in a vein quantifiable as the most appreciable of all the Caymus stylings. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
From the family property in St. Helena and cabernet sauvignon planted in 1990 on deep and low fertility Cortina soils. Mixes in one-quarter cabernet franc from Rosemary Cakebread’s vineyards in the Oakville range, 130m above the Silverado Trail. All organic, with the franc brining in components of florals and posit tugs of savour, sapidity and physicality. Not that the sauvignon needed any help because that fruit is rich, wise and complex as a stand alone but the franc surely elevates the entire collective into rareified air. Tasted with Gallica’s Sales Director Alex French. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted November 2019
Suzanne Groth’s 2015 is the first vintage with new Director of Winegrowing Cameron Parry, hired in 2014 as only the third winemaker in Groth’s history since the family’s first vintage in 1982. The estate cabernet’s fruit comes from right in Oak Knoll and may just be the dictionary entry for parochial red fruit with its distinct savoury edginess. That said you feel or at least intuit the 14 per cent inclusion of merlot what with a subtle doubling down of brushy autumnal dried fruit and verdant notes. Overall tart and beautiful, an honest and true expression of Groth and Oak Knoll. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted November 2019
Hall is based in St. Helena and in a Napa Valley tasting of 24 diverse options of great and elevated quality it is unequivocally the most forward and naturally understood wine in the room. If perhaps it presents as simple on the outside it is confidently complex on the inside. In this regard you can imagine the sentiment provided by 50 per cent new oak but you feel it bigger, better and more so on the palate. Provides the context for texture, of a seamless blending in chocolate and chalk. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted November 2019
From the 1983 planted 10 acre estate vineyard in Oakville, very much considered the flagship wine. Only To Kalon shares a volcanic element affinity with the quarter portion at Hoopes, an important if not profound geological inclusion in the Oakville sub-appellation. Lindsay Hoopes is justifiably high on this 2014 from Spencer Hoopes and fruit found at the base of Yountville Hill. In addition to being basaltic it’s also the most geologically diverse on the valley floor; contains sand and clay in packed density and as determined by the legend David Howell, ’tis is magical place, here confirmed in what is truly a cabernet of magic. Now having arrived in its window, have a go and then repeat for the next 10 years. Drink 2019-2029. Tasted November 2019
Plum dusty, chalky and verdant. Showing some dried fruit. Spring Mountain portion is quantifiably structured, though also agreeable in ageable fruit. Thirty five is Carneros fruit so a merge of two cool climates. Quite charming in the end. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
Ashley Heisey’s 2014 is more than just a child of a most arid vintage in Napa Valley’s recent history, it was also early and with no frost during bud break, the strong, early fruit set in the vineyard organized the season on a collision course with all things warmth. High temperatures and no rain meant an early August harvest of cabernet fruit already deep into black cherry and blackberry. By 2019 this LMR signature red is speaking in Mayacamas Mountains tones, resonant, baritone and profound. The drying of fruit, spices and tannins are combining at a vanishing point from which perspective optimizes in the here and now. Drink this in perfect window opportunity over the next two years. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
From two elevations, floor and foothills, mainly planted in 1999. Game Farm Vineyard on the Silverado Trail below Rector Creek Dam is the most important source, of shallow, rocky soils that stress the deprivation out of need to struggle sangiovese. The cooler Napa Valley sites bring the savour and ulterior form of tension to the mix. Elévage is warm fermentation, malolactic encouraged, 30 per cent new French and Hungarian oak barrels for 20 months. The result is in a Chianti Classico Riserva vein, fruit highly concentrated with some dried desiccated notes and no shortage of local savour. That’s really what separates it into a Napa Valley thing, far away from the Tuscan homeland. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
Fabulous retrospective look back at a wine produced by the then 32 year-old winery from a selection of grapes from all four estate vineyards located in the home lands of the winery. A highly specific gander into Napa Valley’s smallest AVA, very influenced by marine essence for a guarantee of freshness that persists even today. Rich but compressed and dried herb sumptuous. Beautiful wine, so textured and having been purposed for structure now resides in a realm dominated by sweet spice. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
Revana Family Vineyards is owned by Dr. Madaiah Revana who currently is a practicing Cardiologist in Houston, Texas. Thomas Rivers Brown is now employed as winemaker and Jim Barbour as Vineyard Manager. Taken from eight acres, planted in 1998 with the first vintage being 2001, originally in the hands of Heidi Barrett and this was her last vintage. A geological site in St. Helena of alluvial flow off of the Mayacamas range. Intense black olive and very Mediterranean in complex scenting with great acidity. All in Cassis fills the flavour profile. Ten year-old cabernet sauvignon still going strong. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted November 2019
“Vespera,” as in late-evening, gathering time. Estate grown and organically farmed red blend from Collinetta Vineyard in Coombsville and Grigsby Vineyard in Yountville. Varietal composition is 57 per cent cabernet sauvignon, (37) syrah and (6) merlot, aged 17 months in small French oak barrels, 65 per cent new. Floral and beautiful, silky, silken, lush and so elongated. Spiced and juicy peppery, warm to humid with generous alcohol though very fluid and forward. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted November 2019
A massively structured and concentrated wine with teeming and oozing fruit, heavy barrel accord in which texture and tannin weave a future likely to unwind over two decades time. Classic Signorello spice and red citrus. Very limited quantities (by mailing list only) and out of the hands of a new winemaking team. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
From Oak Knoll and fruit that used to be sold to Mondavi, very modern and with 22 per cent merlot. Verdant liqueur tones and real glycerin. Herbal and slick with a thinning in elasticity. “Mini” debauching here. As for the name, Tyros means apprentice, in reference to Silenus being mentor to charge or beginner Dionysus. Also an old Greek naval town in Arcadia, Peloponnese. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted November 2019
From proprietor Marc Taub who’s family is part of the Napa Valley wine fabric since prohibition and who in 2013 acquired Napa Valley producer Heritance, later evolving into Taub Family Vineyards. His winemaker is Tom Hinde, a Sonoma and Napa specialist who cut his teeth for seven years at Flowers, but also at Kendall-Jackson, Hartford, La Crema, Lakoya, Cardinale, Stonestreet and Verite. Add in a mere three acres within the historic 300-acre Beckstoffer Vineyard first purchased by Beaulieu founder Georges de Latour in 1928, called Beaulieu Vineyard Number 3 and made by winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff. The overall pedigree is at the top of the unparalleled game and so huge fruit expected, hedonistic result gained. So much fruit, spicy and massive structure with the future holding so much truffle and charcoal, figs so very Rutherford and could only be from the place. Massive chew of cabernet sauvignon fruit and also very seasoned into the Ribena. All that said there is something hidden, something potentially profound about the Chiaroscuro magic concealed within. Wouldn’t be in a such a hurry to find out what lurks inside this rare Napa Valley wine. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted November 2019
A tribute to Janet & John Trefethen, Cowgirl and Pilot respectively, from a vineyard planted in 2003. Merlot grows best on the clay-loam-silty soil valley floor and the site confirmed the potential from the very first vintage, so says Jon Ruel, CEO and viticulturalist. This truly is Napa merlot, from thinned clusters, trimmed of tips and shoulders like pinot, evenly ripened and it shows. Seamless merlot to be sure with a beautifully spicy finish. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted November 2019
Part of the third generation Heritage Collection line in the hands of Bob Torres nearly 70 years into the family’s work at Trinchero. Off of soils ranging from gravelly to loamy to alluvial, the BRV comes from the Atlas Peak AVA and my is it big and brawny. So much black olive, brood and badass attitude, inclusive of a 10 percent mix of malbec and petit verdot. They add structure in a wine of crazy high pH (3.95). Just wow. Still a bambino. Drink 20121-2031. Tasted November 2019
Good to go!
Speed date afternoon with some of @napavintners finest
The Albeisa bottle is the symbol of the Langhe territory
Preview of Barolo DOCG 2016
Nothing in the behaviour of these nebbiolo consents to their age. Too serious, too impenetrable and at the same time terribly sharp, focused and severe. Wines as stiff as justice. Somehow they intimidate us but also create an environment for sheer, prolonged and utter enjoyment. Or at least they will, eventually, with time. When they arrive at their intended destination they will surrender a Barolo impression that we are barely drinking them. A retrospective look at yesterday Barolo DOCG 2006 and Riserva DOCG 2004 confirms from then, through current considerations, what will happen tomorrow.
Nebbiolo seekers may still be reminiscing about the Barolo & Barbaresco world opening as the largest appellation tasting for Italian wine in the United States. The event took place in New York City back in February 2020, featured over 200 producers, hosted 800-plus trade attendees and 500-plus consumers. Big stuff. As for me, my most recent Langhe experience was in January 2020 when I travelled to Alba in Piemonte for Nebbiolo Prima 2020 and Grandi Langhe. I tasted more than 600 nebbiolo, dolcetto, barbera, arneis, freisa, chardonnay, pelaverga and even riesling during the eight day work staycation. Grande.
Vintage 2016 was the first from which Barolo DOCG exceeded 14 million bottles and that number accounted for 22.4 per cent of the total volume reported by the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani. That Barolo and Barbaresco are so prominent is due of course to their international stardom but from a real and factual standpoint the fact is that nebbiolo plantings make up 37 of the Langhe region’s total vineyard space. All appellations and varietals are important and need to be tasted at the combination of Nebbiolo Prima and Grandi Langhe Trade Fair. Yet the bottom line remains. Barolo is king and most attendees are puppies in love when it comes to chasing that regal nebbiolo dream.
Barolo’s cru system has elevated nebbiolo to the top of the Italian wine charts and few would argue against it residing at the head of the global wine buying and collecting chain. Mentioning the geographical location is Barolo’s calling card and no other Italian appellation has built such a veritable reputation on the pinpointing of locations. The mere preesence of a Menzione Geographica on a Barolo label tells a specific story. In 1879, Lorenzo Fantini in his “Monograph of Vine Growing and Enology in the Province of Cuneo,” offered an accurate description of the zone and defined Nebbiolo as “the prince of vines.” Again, Fantini in his “Monograph” wrote “if the vine has within itself excellent qualities it is also undoubtedly true that the elaboration of its heavenly juice requires favorable land and soil. Not all soils provide equal savor, so if we must doff our caps to this princely vine, we must revere with equal respect that earth which hosts and maintains it…the vine growth along the Langhe slopes, so rich and luxuriant, dominates all other cultivations. To the amenities and asperities of those hills, the hand of man and investment have cultivated the most splendid of vines which in turn have entirely altered the aspect of those localities. If from the high plateau of La Morra you cast a look at the vast surface of grape vines stretching out before you, upon beholding those magnificent vineyards, so won.” (Source: “Nebbiolo the Territorial Vine” by Pietro Ratti 2004)
Barolo by the numbers
By the numbers
Albeisa is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and promote the wine production of the Alba area. The Union of Alba Wine Producers manages the use of the bottle Albeisa, or Alba bottle, and represents approximately 230 members and 13 million bottles. Thanks, as always, must be afforded Albeisa’s guiding light and force, as in the organization’s President, Domaine Punset’s Marina Marcarino. This is what I have said (more than once) about the fearless leader and her charge. “Always the first to pioneer, lead, teach and share, Marcarino expressed the pride and the passion of the community of producers that worked tirelessly to create this formidable assembly. Albeisa’s goal is not singularly focused. This event is not simply a matter dedicated to the tasting of wine. Agricultural evolution and wine-producing innovation are a major focus, always with a socio-economic bearing kept in mind.” At the opening dinner in Alba at the week-long host Hotel I Castelli, it was pointed out that the number of declarations for labelling always exceeds what is bottled. That is because three of four years after harvest 25-30 per cent of producers decide to de-classify their Barolo (2013 numbers). In that vintage 147 declared and 128 bottled. In terms of menzione geographica 46 per cent declared and at harvest 23 actually bottled with the name of a Barolo cru. There has been a steady decline of the de-classification of grapes. Barolo’s loss is Nebbiolo DOC’s gain.
Journalists at Nebbiolo Prima 2020
The feelings and sensations gained in assessment of so many Barolo perforce was at the time, an unbearably lucid experience. The exercise is a test of will, staying power and endurance. Nebbiolo Prima is a sprint and a marathon wrapped into one. Who could not be made stronger, wiser and yet so humbled by having tasted through the experience. These notes reflect my experience, my connection to Piedmontese life, performing to others rhythms. The totality of these tasting notes cover Barolo DOCG 2016 (197), Riserva 2014 (6), 2006 (20) and Riserva 2004 (7), played to the tune of 230 reviews.
All the Nebbiolo. Nearly 400 over four days. Roero, Langhe, Barolo, Barbaresco.
A cracked not-pepper, yes reductive if early corrective without reveal and aromas are all tar melt to fresh roses, though high in tone. This is Bricco delle Viole and will be very serious Barolo, tightly wound and equipped with some formidable structural unease. Look forward and further, far down the road. Drink 2023-2029. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Quality concentration, richness of fruit, wild-eyed acidity and mature tannins make for an across the board effective and pleasurable Novello Barolo. A fine sample that will drink well early and in the near term. take full advantage. Drink 2021-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Big-boned nebbiolo here in Ravera clothing, so rich and concentrated, clearly from a warm part of the cru (perhaps the warmest) and a winemaker who allows the heavy fullness to do its thing. Welling and oozing with sumptuousness, thick tannin and ultimately a matter here of great Novello density. A style born out of necessity. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Very handsome Novello nebbiolo, finely chiseled Ravera structural components with taut flesh and timeless disposition. The variegated hue tells so many stories through so many layers, as does the way the transitions move through space and time with finesse and effortless ease. It’s a highly tannic and fierce competitor but the race is a marathon in this case, not a sprint. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted January 2020
Welcome to Bussia. This is the prudent one, far from promiscuous and very promising. Hides everything and is not so fast to give anything away. The textural components are all together; chew, crunch, soft and crackling. Grooves slowly and changes tempo. Not sure which way it will go but its subtlety and its impression will not be denied. From Monforte d’Alba. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
High toned and octane Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo with acids ripe, ripping and all over the map. Makes the fruit look silly and small though tannin is negligible. Simple red lightning in Barolo. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Youthful Verduno but the sample exhibits tones quite up there with red citrus and wood-derived signs. Still a bit lean and verdant. In this adolescent state of grace it just seems woody, chewy and not even close to prime time. Drink 2022-2027. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Fresh and effacing, ripe and ready for all that’s coming. Very Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo, in a flat out juicy way and tannins stuffed in back pockets. Knowable and reasoned for what mind of expectation commits. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
So very ripe and extracted of very red berry Serralunga d’Alba fruit in a candied if savoury way. A nebbiolo of fruit, high acidity and simple structure. Nicely drinking and if it’s inexpensive I’ll gladly drink a few. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Quiet and in low light demure, not overly expressive for 2016 Barolo. Tart and dry, not must juice or even moisture. Can’t see this Monforte d’Alba developing much more complexity though when it settles there will be pleasure afforded. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
This is nebbiolo of largesse. prim, proper and so bloody commercial for all the correct reasons. Everyone can enjoy this as nebbiolo, Serralunga and Barolo. Clean and crisp with all the mild mannered and perfectly reasonable parts. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Quite smoky, so much so it seems that the smoke has only very recently been extinguished. So much barrel toast and smoulder. Juicy with tobacco resonating throughout. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo in the big time, ripe, rough tumbling and nearly rambunctious. The warmth and developing liqueur is nothing but comforting and enveloping. Carries through without staying away from the initial portent and plan. Big, Rocche di Castiglione boisterous and impressive. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
And now for something completely different. This nebbiolo from Monvigliero is all saucisson, or in this Piedmontese instance, Cottechino. Honestly, just like it, raw and hematic, but also liberally perfumed, with roses of course. Structurally there are few equals and so the diversity in expression leaves a long-lasting and highly consequential impression. Now we are beginning to see why some would consider this Verduno as one of the greatest vineyards in the world. Drink 2023-2036. Tasted January 2020
A wealth of collected features and possibility abounds in this Monforte d’Alba Barolo though the barrel is still very much a prominent aspect of the coverall condition. Really textured, chewy and tannic of push and thrush. Layers of Bussia structure need to peel, unfold and melt away. Drink 2022-2029. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
The Ascheri label is from La Morra. Seemingly the sort of Barolo that was, is and will always be this way. A bit rustic, surely made to act like itself vintage after vintage, coming across as fresh enough and equipped with all the dried fruit, savoury edging and portents that speak to the nebbioli of generations. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Quite extracted and concentrated Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo with so much orange on the nose. Blood, scraped and juiced but also hematic and layered. Huge wine of fruit, acids and tannin. Nothing left behind, in the Coste & Bricco fields, in the barrels or on the table here. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Some quietly acquiesced development already in this sultry and sumptuous La Morra Barolo. That nebbiolo can do this is youthful exuberance is the speciality of the place, especially in Rocche dell’Annunziata where the acumen amongst winemaking is off the charts. This may peak earlier than some others but full enjoyment can be had nonetheless. Drink 2021-2026. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Youthful and slightly lean Castellero, with a transparency and tisane to be very sure. Really classic Barolo commune tannins, not overt as say anxiety inducing, but more than properly present and accounted for. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted January 2020
The aromas here are dramatically 2016. Ripe and racy with a cured salumi note. Stay here for a few minutes and you are gifted tar and roses, For real. The way this Monforte d’Alba Barolo has been handled is so proper and gives it every opportunity to succeed. High quality Bussia for sure. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Quite the gregarious and expressive Briccolina aromatic sensation emits and gifts while in withstand against a formidable structural exchange. Plenty of fruit and just as much wood mean modernity and a whole lotta vanilla love. It’s a style to be sure, almost late 90s and early 2000s but there can be no avoiding what pleasure so many will derive from such an exercise. From Serralunga d’Alba. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
The full gamut of fruit play is in. Scarrone is orange in so many ways and also umeboshi plum, prune, berries and ultimately like a slow rendered Marbella demi-glacé. Very rich Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo, welcoming its wood and giving away without shyness nor restraint. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Oh my the tobacco on this Verduno nebbiolo from Monvigliero is uncanny. Like grandfather’s pipe snuffed out but lingering and so obvious when you enter the room. Then the scent turns sweet and comforting, a warm hug of a nebbiolo beneath a blanket of couverture by tannin. Throws the cru at you with everything it can and should. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted January 2020
Particular and singular aromas from Liste speak of and to a Barolo nebbiolo sense of wildness and freedom. Great acids, fruit slung across a pole draped with both fruity and earthy opportunity. Really compact and extended with great length. A touch peppery warm but when it settles the beauty will surely emerge. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
A forceful La Morra nebbiolo in hard-shell clothing there may seem to be morbido and amenable aromatic compounds but the palate hits you like a ton of mortar and brick. Crunchy, earthy and intense. This Brunate will soften and become a much more impressive wine in five plus years time. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
The high resonance distracts with both brightness and humour though it purports to tell a thin story. The insubstantial texture speaks to the fruit conecntration and the inability of structural parts to save. Drink 2021-2023. Tasted January 2020
A bit past prime aromatically speaking with a developed note of dried fruit and yet with some scarped skin energy that gives it a rightful tang. Quite orange in flavour, some tisane and mild finishing tannic twang. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Cannubi of Barolo spice cupboard is just thus, just like this. That and sweet dried fruit, desiccated floral petals and some mean verdancy in the tannins. Seems soft but it’s really not. Time will ease the edging and the tension. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
The third Villero style comes across through this more gregarious and less subtle Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo. Seeks quicker admiration and offers more immediate gratification. Texture is more liquid chalky and acids more integrated. Peppery in a non-reductive and French way with a really, really juicy finish. Fast admiration for such a specimen. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Taut Verduno nebbiolo, richly embossed, hungrily ambitious and dealing in parts long, purposed and fine. Quite a warm compliment of Neirane seasoning, salt, pepper and wooden piques over every bit of the fruit in and out of time. We’ll see about this barrel bruiser because the red fruit seems to handle it just fine. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
A gregarious La Morra this Gattera in aromas though more down to earth on the palate. Texture is lean and elastic while tannins sharpen their digits on the fruit. Some distraction and separation. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Deep inhalant of La Morra nebbiolo this one with as much Rocchettevino vineyard soil, climate and tradition instilled, installed and distilled. Quite tannic and tense, in fact the attention to nervous detail is commanding and invigorating. A high quality structural if old school example. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
Tough early, tart and intensely textured Cannubi, very cool in climate oriented and sweetly herbal. Relatively soft and amenable acids, but also, in a way, Barolo tannins. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Sarmassa for Barolo nebbiolo brings a cupboard full of spice, a brush past greenery in winter in the wood next to the vineyard and steeps a tisane from all the twigs, leaves and herbs. Then turns to face the roses, where sweet notes bloom and pleasure awakens. Will offer great pleasure in the five year range. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
As you might expect the uncanny scent of roses in so many incantations is the thing and everything, at least in the beginning. Fresh bouquet and dried petals circulate in stereo. Offers nebbiolo faith to go on and it’s only just begun. Though the absolute tightly gift-wrapped fruit needs little and asks for nothing at this early stage it will in turn return everything it received. A wonderful vintage of Coste di Rose Barolo. “This will be our year, took a long time to come.” Drink 2023-2034. Tasted January 2020
Still reductive and in this case the rubber and pepper are how it shows. Chewy and near massive in its acid-tannin missive continuum. Really dramatic and big-boned nebbiolo from Monforte d’Alba with a need to come about and into balance. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted January 2020
Broccardo’s is a three-pronged Barolo affair from vineyards in Monforte d’Alba, Barolo and Novello for a true house amalgamation by Fillipo, Laura and Federico. While firm enough to speak about proper and cumulative nebbiolo structure there is an estate feel to I Tres Pais, a Piedmontese dialectical three verse poem that speaks to land, people and wine. That’s what Barolo is all about. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January and April 2020
Quite closed with little aromatic give. Seems protective, not so much reductive but keeps its Serralunga d’Alba Brea secrets hidden. The palate reveals more and especially a solid architectural foundation on which fruit can climb. This is a finessed and impressionistic Barolo with a great future ahead. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Really quite herbal, almost Amaro nebbiolo, cool, verdant, forest floor and foliage throughout. Solid structure with a minor note of bitters and drying edginess in the end. Fine appreciation for translating the Roddi-Bricco Ambrogio sense of place. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Another simplified nebbiolo in La Morra Barolo dress albeit with a next level quality of concentration, chewiness and heft. Tannins are relatively mild and so it’s like Langhe Riserva, if there were such a thing. Lovely to drink, any night of the week. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
A bit of rose in the La Morra nose candy and a scrape of orange zest mark the entry before this Capalot nebbiolo gets down to serious tannic business. A clear message of ripe citrus melts into a fruity tisane with a few herbs and leaves stepped in for good measure. Fun little La Morra and neatly soothing. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Yet another completely different expression of Ravera and showing the great diversity of wines made from the cru. Tonality is higher but not so high as to shine so bright you need to wear shades. Builds and builds, first from ripe red fruit then through fine acids and elastic texture then to really fine tannins. A ver precise and accomplished Novello Barolo with so much life laying put on a red carpet ahead. Drink 2023-2034. Tasted January 2020
Very tisane in its aromatic beginnings, like Rooibos with a wedge of lemon. A bit lean and musty, like cool climate pinot noir from a less than ideal fruit vintage, here from Boiolo cru in La Morra. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
Perno of another Monforte d’Alba stripe and colour, a bit dank and reductive, left to its own devices within the imbalance of its unhinging. Gives you its heart but you want its soul. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Different sort of La Morra nebbiolo here, part tisane and part liqueur. Not sure it knows what it prefers to be. Hard to be both. The fruit seems concentrated on the nose but stretches leaner on the slightly dilute palate. Good enough. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Quite the firm Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo from Lazzarito cru right here, grippy in every respect, transparent, reeking of rose petals and old-school in many right ways. Does the singular thing it should and does it really well. Not so very multi-dimensional nor does it need to be. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Giuliana Drocco and Simone Ortale, Cascina Adelaide
From Serralunga d’Alba and because though this is just a baby doubled down by the forceful cru it is a highly precocious little one, with thanks to a vintage that opens earlier in this part of town. This may be a funny way to start the description of a very big wine but the intuition and clarity spoken by the 80 year-old vines is massive in missive, front loaded with fruit, acid and tannin. Back loaded too so expect a 20 year journey, give or take a few. Drink 2023-2034. Tasted January 2020
From Barolo’s grand vineyard and in the hands of Simone Ortale a most elegant representation. Lighter, transparent, more floral aromatica and only handled inside the cellar by grandi botti. The result is also a sharper, pointed, high acidity nebbiolo, with more energy and lift. While still just an infant you can’t escape from seeing and tasting Adelaide’s Cannubi this way. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted January 2020
A bit over to right side of extraction and concentration for Fossati driving forward with drying fruit mixed into the gregarious personality of the wine. The extra push of spice and herbal accents come with some Bretty quality along from La Morra as if like Rhône grenache in a warm vintage. Cool and frontal, fully unabashed in untamed beauty. Tannins need time though too much will go too far. Undeniable power. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
From Castiglione Falletto and one of eight cru produced by winemaker Simone Ortale. So apposite to what comes from Baudana, here more delicate, soft (even mores so than the Italian morbido) and an unseen nebbiolo to match with foods not necessarily associated with Barolo. When thinking pinot noir, think again. Think Pernanno. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Preda meaning “strong point,” a vineyard right in front of the winery and 25 years old. As a nebbiolo it is the rustic one, at the bottom of the Barolo hill and also planted to barbera. A rich marl and sandy soil so opposite to the marly silt of Cannubi. A touch hematic in a mixture of iodine and blood orange with clear herbal and red citrus running through its veins.Though maturity and wisdom may not be at the levels of the likes of Baudana and Pernanno the effect are purely Adelaide. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
A bright and effusive Bussia for Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo can be just like this. A Barolo happy in the moment, full of berries and red citrus, with acids up front and tannins unobtrusive. A Barolo to drink now and for five-plus years while the tough ones sit and stew. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Freshness of fruit comes clear and concise in this nebbiolo from Bricco Rocca in La Morra. Crunchy red fruit, of currants and candied roses with fine acidity and not so much easy as tannins that can’t be dealt with. A really pretty Barolo. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Lovely estate Barolo vineyard touch and gentle slide with rose petal and the mildest concrete meeting salumi cure. More than sneaky tannin but this slow creep and rise up to a yet unreachable crescendo. Star, painted Rothko swaths of rustic colour but so pure, so clean and so modern, yet not. Boschetti. Drink 2022-2031. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Light and airy, no real need for brooding and like a full moon rising this goes dancing in the light. Knows where the music’s playing, feels the night. Nebbiolo like a Neil Young tune strummed on a harvest moon. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Classic La Morra really, light and transparent, tart and comforting. Some bitters and tonic as well though more like drops in a rosewater cocktail. This really brings the roses, dried, distilled and then soft to drying tannins. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Peppery reductive, full fruit development ensured, ripe and regal Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo. Great palate presence, focused and highly tannic. Acids are the glue and the catalyst for fun. Will please so many, of any and all camps. Drink 2021-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Here the citrus in namely orange stylistic is mixed with cured salumi in a Bricco San Pietro nebbiolo of firm Monforte d’Alba form. Texture forms a step up and creates a new mood for older styled clothing. This is a classic in its particular and parochial way in how it talks the talk and walks the walk to complete a sense and for a place. Really proper and will live long. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Classic, old-school, rich and dusty nebbiolo from the Casa Nere cru in La Morra. Some mustiness but a cool savour that speaks to ancient soil and the adage that tells us nebbiolo needs time and the glass. This will come around. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Bigger, thicker, fuller packed Bricco Boschis nebbiolo is this, of greater concentration and without compromise. The consistency carries through, from the aromatic start, with an startling chromatic burst, through the waves of palate strength and energy. Then with tannic thrush so integrated and yet unyielding. That’s how structure ensures longevity. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted January 2020
Ginestra is a Monforte d’Alba animal altogether different. So rich, compact, rife with connective tissue and full on expressive. Big in every respect beginning with its berry and cherry fruit all the way down through the lines of structural adversity. So much gumption, attitude and power. Must be the sun, the exposition and the heights. The Sorì Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
An advancing nebbiolo is like this with fruit very developed and tannins keeping things from going soft or past prime. In its wheelhouse just about already, integrated, playing as one, ready to match the table. Make use of this Barolo while more formidable examples take their sweet time. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Up there in terms of tones played and light, in cherry and rose water. A hint of liquorice and fennochio so savoury in an aniseed way. Tart, chewy and from the La Morra earth. Solid commune-based nebbiolo. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
A quiet La Morra nose, a cool factor, a mint to evergreen line but oh so subtle as such. Good strength in acidity and command in tannin. This is a confident wine with Capalot bones and some fruit substance to cling on, hang around and be there when the integration takes place. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Dusty and rusty La Morra-Arborina nebbiolo, earth-crusted and fruit just a touch dried. Seems older than ’16 and were it a five to seven year-old Barolo it would seem perfectly suited and aged for what should and even must be. Lacks freshness for 2016 but truth be told it would come across as true and worthy without the stigmata of vintage attached. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Wild berries meet juicy acidity in one of those Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo that rushed to the secondary gate and should remain there for a few years. Knows itself before many do and that advanced personality will see it drink beyond its age while others wait to grow up. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Quickly the tone of Le Coste di Monforte is revealed, on the light and drying side of nebbiolo things with a wild berry note that’s subtle and rewarding. Tannins seem to exceed the fruit a touch though they care little for bitters. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Rich, ripe and developed at least as far as 2016 sugars are conceded and concerned. Goes at it wholeheartedly, without hesitation and includes a minor note of verdancy. The wood fills in the holes and you notice it. I promise you. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Spice notes on the nose take centre stage so wood is the immediate factor of record. Tannins follow suit and in between is acidity quite fine and very respectable. This is an architectural nebbilolo from the La Morra producer of perfectly reasonable ubiquity and top notch seasoning. Drink 2021-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Candied and earthy at the same time so feet in two worlds and not really quite connected at the twain. Crunchy tannin with a fruit lingering nicely in its youthful time of need. Solid La Morra if not truly remarkable Serradenari Barolo. Drink 2021-2025. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Via Nuova is the assemblage, the house wine, Vigna della Casa and a wine of all encompassing perfume. A mix of finesse and structure. Also textured with a charming glycerin and experiential moments in thyme. There is much pride and dreaming hope for 2016, with great aging potential. The tannins creep up, take hold and remain, secured and bonded. That’s nebbiolo grip and persistence incarnate. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted December 2019 and January 2020
Why is Mosconi so special. “Why is anyone more beautiful than the other?” Nature. A connection to Domenico Clerico and when Chiara had a chance to join this plot she jumped. The flowers come at you in waves. The fruit is everywhere and all is stored inside, kept safe, comforted and comfortable. South facing below the village and again it just must be the place that brings this level of joy, elegance and structure. There are 25-30 years of life ahead for this 2016. So glad Chiara became a part of la squadra Mosconi. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted December 2019 and January 2020
“I consider 2016…a perfect vintage,” says Valter Fissore, “fresh, elegant and complex.” This comes from the youngest vines, under 17 years old, made for those who don’t want to wait 20 years. A Barolo that you could not find 20 years ago, from a blue vintage, the best kind. Yes, a true blue vintage it is, not just a simple blue and so very different to barbera. Fine tannins but ones that are very present. They build but not too much. “My Barolo are neither traditional nor modern. They are post-modern.” Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
A 50 day maceration with a big amount of capello sumerso and 24 months of botti aging. From the blue vintage and fruit in the heart of La Morra that is the epitome of Ravera. Grippy and smooth, silken texture and tannins at their parochial finest. Savoury and sapid, wound tight and walking a straight line. No angles, no edges, niente spiggolo. Reminds Valter of Elvio’s Brunate ’78, at least in style; drinkability, sweetness and texture. Can bend without breaking, inveterate, elastic, long and eternal. Drink 2024-2036. Tasted January 2020
A slightly warm annd boozy nebbiolo this one, warm site(s) in Serralunga d’Alba derived and delivering a wealth of spiced red fruit. Again it is acidity that directs the motive and the plan. Just a touch overripe and overdone. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Ah Fossati and its flirtatious aromatics, cheery, cherry and floral. A candied pansy and rose, a red citrus and a lightning quick set of fruit reflexes. Terrific texture, presence and finesse. Does what needs, for La Morra, come what may. Proper, elaborate and fine. Drink 2022-2031. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
The most reductive Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo in the day’s tasting thus far is this cracked pepper one sprinkled over a hard savoury candied shell. What fierce and grippy structure this killer Cerretta exhibits with no prisoners taken, so none can be released. Well perhaps in five or so years there will be some sort of release and while fruit is pretty strong in its own right I’m not so certain it will keep up with the Joneses. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
Similar Villero transparency, effusive character and boundless possibility. Never needing to strike with force or command attention. The fruit concentration steps up with this example as does the acid-tannic lineage. The texture and drying, sear-sucking, moisture deprivation is noted so balance is just a bit teetering. Still Villero though, from Castiglione Falletto. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
All things being equal there is nebbiolo, Barolo and overall ubiquitous personality emanating from this wide-ranging one. Takes everything in stride, assembles the parts and creates the classic construct of local apparatus. Everyone can use this machine and use it well for a decade. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted January 2020
Lovely aromatic beginning, floral, near racy and if smells were juicy this would be how they were. The palate follows suit with plenty of flesh, also provided by buoyant acidity. Crisp, clear, clean and nothing short of drinkable. Stuffing is ample and to be honest a breath of fresh, not kill you with tannin air. Quality Bussia out of Monforte d’Alba. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Quite ripe and effusive at the same time, part fruit juicy and part bright red citrus light. A middle road taken Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo with prominent features and structurally sound constitution. Quite composed, grippy and ready to take on a ten year run. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted January 2020
Quite ripe, overly so, extracted, pressed and compressed. The concentration is clearly impressive though there’s not much substance behind the fruity veil. Will drink well for a few years and then fall asleep into an oxidative state. From Serralunga d’Alba. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Now into the Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo of Villero, so apposite, ulterior and offering the great change of pace. Firm, transparent, beautiful. Seemingly simple and just lovely there can be no hiding feelings that this from Castiglione Falletto is holding back layers lining the floor of the depths. The subtleties are boundless and the finesse too. Some may find this lacking but if you can’t see the forest for the flesh you not be paying close enough attention. Drink 2022-2031. Tasted January 2020
An apposite Castelletto from Monforte d’Alba, still transparent but with fruit and substance of a deeper heart. No real glycerin to the texture and though it shines through there too is a next level layer of concentration. Perhaps not in comparison to certain storied cru but in quality compassion nonetheless. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
A completely new Italian experience through a lens into the streets of curious Cherasco.
Somewhat closed nose though you can tell even without tasting that the palate will be rich. Deep cherry notes come across that transition and there is indeed this creamy texture leading down a path to lactic taste. Winemaking is on display here. From Cherasco. Drink 2022-2027. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Strength in protection and reduction makes this a Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo to look at in protractive ways. A touch of Brett is clearly in the fray so expect an earthy, grippy and woolly Margheria for the long haul and the stay. Not going anywhere for quite some time. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
There’s a next level set of circumstances presented and acquiescesd in this Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo from the prominent and formidable cru of Gabutti. Fruit is big time while structural components are bigger. There can be little reason to go at it all in while so youthful because better and more integrated lies ahead. Liquid chalky, fine acidity and textural identity define and get in the face of tension so that movement happens and will continue in this positive way. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Here is yet another stunning aromatic Verduno nebbiolo from Monvigliero albeit once again so stupidly youthful so as to get in the way of the knowing and the wanting. Lovely palate texture, silken and fine. All the structural attributes follow suit, in precision and long a perfectly reasonable line. Will be a great one. Drink 2023-2031. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Very structured, highly classic and fruit secondary though righteous and proper enough to hang aboard a solid framework of Barolo ubiquity. Classic Novello in so many understood and expected ways. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Richer and more extracted nebbiolo from Serralunga d’Alba and Baudarina is just this. That said the concentration from ripeness and pressing has has not brought along the negative aspects in tow. No astringency, verdancy or bitters so that’s a very good thing. Drink younger while more demanding commune crus bide their time. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
The thing of Bricco delle Viole that is beauty emits with gala fruit force into the canals of the layers. Bricco dell Viole the singular Barolo cru, from which fruit, texture and extension are consistently planned out, mapped and organized. So wound, so found and following a path that runs along a line along a circle. Slow unwind and unfolding coming, culminating in developed notes, to be far away, somewhere between then and then. Too soon to tell. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted January 2020
A highly specific nebbiolo from Torriglione, fruity but shy, tempered and distilled. A liqueur like nose but nothing too heavy, sweet, salty or sour. Ulterior and finessed, sharp and mineral, spiced and even spicy. A real La Morra Barolo with the ability to allow you to find joy in a half decade’s time. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Another fine exampe from Rocche dell’Annunziata where there just seems to be a collective intuition for righteous, classic and proper. Great structure and concentration right here, second to none. Prime La Morra Barolo, primal nebbiolo and primo execution. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
An ulterior version of Barolo from Serralunga is this, high in its tonality and buzzing with energy. The acidity is in full tang while the tannins too do the same. Not so much grippy as full of energy. Very good short term potential. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Quite solid of Serralunga d’Alba bones and equally capable in Gianetto flesh is this high acid dripping with red fruit nebbiolo. Pretty sharp and exceptional in tang from which that acid structure is everything and more. Will drink like this for a few seasons and then fade lightly away. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Somewhat thin and dishy Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo without much ado. Purely and clearly varietal in its locality though the drying tannins do not quite match the fruit. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Just smells like liqueur, hot and bothered, no delicacy for what nebbiolo wants and needs. Very extracted, concentrated and full of spicy glycerin, there’s just a lack of love and finesse. Impressive though for and from Serralunga d’Alba. Drink 2021-2023. Tasted January 2020
Very aromatic, highly prominent proboscis and spiced to the hilt. One of the very few nebbiolo that noses fennel in very fresh form. Also a tomato aspect but no leaf. Takes what the grand-sized Bussia cru gives and runs with the feeling. No shortage of Monforte d’Alba character or complexity. The winemaker must be pleased with this work from 2016. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted January 2020
A bit troublesome to nose, earthier than expected and a bit subdued. Perhaps just the block in Ravera that broods and sleeps a bit. Calm I suppose is what this Novello nebbiolo needs and chooses to exercise. Continues to flatline with not much tension in the mix. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Quite up front this Novello nebbiolo sits with great presence. The response will be one met with consideration for greatness and it should merit some of that adulation. That said it’s stretched and youth likely its best attribute. The stuffing is not fully insulating. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Quite right this Bricco Ambrogio. Old school perhaps but finessed, righteous and well executed. Sensical and proper handling translate the Cru to this wine. Tannins are firm and elongated with just the sort of nebbiolo fruit core you expect every time you taste. Really solid wine from Roddi. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Oh my the wealth of strawberry and cherry is exceptional in this juicy Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo with some dried fruit edging. Shows a converse effect by barrel infiltration that makes it quite the gregarious one. Drink this Cerretta early. Drink 2020-2023. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Decent fruit concentration though over-pressed and managed so that the latter half is astringent and tannins are concerning for their green streaks. Plausible in the short term, though will be troubling later on. Drink 2021-2024. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
When nebbiolo emits this wild berry lift it’s just like this. You can fully imagine lying in a patch of June strawberries and eating them one after one. There are a million ways to go with nebbiolo so here presents just one of those ways. More acidity than tannin and that’s just the way this needs to be. From Monforte d’Alba. Drink 2021-2023. Tasted January 2020
Slightly mephitic and full on tang dominate the aromas. Youth is a factor in most reductive ways while mouthfeel is quite special. A disjointed wine now and spirited, spiced, so protracted in a protected shell. Seems like the candied fruit and floral will turn into beauty someday. Much patience needed. From Monforte d’Alba. Drink 2023-2029. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Volatile and Bretty together for a true lesson in older-schooled, microbial Barolo. Earthy and wet forest, river’s edge fruit. Not a whole hell of a lot of pleasure to derive here. Drink 2021-2024. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Crunchy and candy-savoury fruit with an earthy twist and a seriousness that speaks to Ravera the place. Perfectly middle ground example with weight, transparent clarity and a very expressive nature. Truth be told you feel the wood at the end. so wait on this Novello until tomorrow. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Quite ripe and very strawberry, cool, minty, herbal and with top notch acidity. Tannins are chalky, fine and grainy. So youthful and great expectations lay ahead. From Grinzane Cavour. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Big time aromatic Novello front, storm of flowers, ripe fruit and compact forest floor humus. All in with the aromatic wavs and nicely delineated to allow for good quality palate feel. If a touch sappy, the structure follows suit with sweet acids and also tannins. Really good presence and precision in Barolo with a long life ahead. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Perno just seems to climb higher and higher, rising with all its parts in flight and unhinged. This Monforte d’Alba example carries a deeper sense of weight but still its temperature rises. All in for the sense of place. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
Strong mocker this Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo, fully reasoned, ripened and seasoned. Absolute clarity in vintage notability; rich, aggressive and tannic. Nothing held back and time is of the apposite essence. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Harkens back to the adage of Bricco San Pietro being a cru of orange scrape in a citric range. Simple here from Monforte d’Alba, syrupy with spice and tannic liquidity. Representative if coming across a bit juiced sweet. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
More gregarious to nose with plenty of citrus, namely red of pomegranate and currant. Also a tomato leafiness and/or water that brings the verdant savour. Wood spice all over the back end, beginning with a peppery pique in the trip of the tongue . From Bergera-Pezzole cru in Novello. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Simple, fruity, unadorned and not particularly structured there is some basic pleasure to find in this young Roddi nebbiolo. The Bricco Ambrogio tannins are late arriving and don’t stay particularly long. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Sugary aromatic waft of plum, peach, apricot and orange. Almost a saffron-like botrytis but its faux and curious. Texture is of the crusted and crunchy kind with a structure linear and polar when considering the nose of this La Morra nebbiolo. Curious Brunate for sure. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
Quietest of the Bricco delle Viole, set highest atop the Barolo hill’s tone, equipped with the chalkiest, finest tannic grain. This one sears within, into and inside, lined with the dried, crusted petal florals and a curative strip. Crunchy and crusted, white pepper and great purpose. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Good if very transparent fruit concentration, currants and pomegranate, tannins a bit tart, taut and drying. Herbal and an Amaro note. Flattens at the finish. Drink 2020-2021. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
A solid tannic example of nebbiolo with a penchant for firmness and drying notes to match the fruit content of a good vintage. Crunchy and crusted, herbal and cool climate factored. Should turn into something very proper. Drink 2021-2027. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
“Classic” Barolo from three Monforte d’Alba vineyards, including Béri and Conca L’Annunziata planted in 1982. Round, rife with ripe ’16 fruit. Neither pushy nor risky, meaning the sweet acids and gentle tannins simply round out the possibilities. So pleasant and that’s what this is all about. Ideal restaurant Barolo. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Gallinotto is 100 per cent from Béri, the oldest vineyard and meaning “a small chicken,” from Piedmontese dialect, now also Italian. There is as much earthy substance as substantial fruit from Béri though not as savoury as you might think. Very grounded with roundness and texture on the palate. All the parts coalesce into classic nebbiolo patterning and you intuit a further purpose yet to be revealed. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
As the name suggests, La Serra comes a single vineyard in la Morra. Fashioned with power in mind, this is a small lot, raised in small casks nebbiolo to fortify and strengthen for a fulsome wine. The vanilla and graphite are prominent early and the transference to integration will be low and slow. Highly concentrated though also woollen, silken and a very linear wine. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted January 2020
From Serralunga d’Alba, three years in tonneaux, a light and lifted nebbiolo from Cerretta cru. High-toned and also showing some rusticity across a range of dried floral and herbal potpourri. Roses for sure and a wood in space-time continuum. Classic really. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
From three parcels located quite proximate to Roncaglie in La Morra, inclusing 20 per cent of fruit from Cerretta. Three parcels on the highest parts of the hill gift fruit to spend three years in Grandi Botti. An easy, amenable and approachable Barolo for4 everyday use. Tons of sunshine, ripe fruit and ready, perforce to proceed. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Richness and concentration on the nose like few other La Morra with palate texture using the land and the barrel to full advantage. Some earthiness and beetroot with sharp acids and demanding tannins. Big wine from Gattera with potential for those who like things in such packages. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Cool, savoury, climatic old-school nebbiolo with all the classic moves and parts. Rose petal, tight acidity and dry your eyes, demanding tannins. Also peppery and pushy. Drink 2022-2025. Tasted January 2020
Intense aromas speak louder and tell a quicker if deeper Castiglione Falletto story about a place (Rocche di Castiglione) and the potential. Smell this and exclaim. “Wow.” there’s a depth and a power, albeit a restrained one that is so modern and purposeful. Full in every respect, more so acidity than tannin but the latter is not exactly slumped in slouch formation. The excessiveness will work to dramatic early effect though not for decades. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
A curious perfume, flowers desiccated and macerating in a simple syrup. A faux botrytis like saffron broth perhaps with plums and sangria like notes. Unusual and then raisining on the palate. Almost tropical. A style to be sure and worth watching the progression. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Taut, dusty, cinnamon-spiced and hard to get. So youthful, way too early to speculate and yet the aromatics speak to Monvigliero’s ability and to its charm. Gets inside the Verduno nose and never relents. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Getting down to the gritty La Morra earth and the nitty grip in nebbiolo from Rive cru that takes little heed in the need to keep prisoners. Crunchy and full barrel effect in place with fine-grains of tannin filling every nook and pore. Will ride out two decades of development through funghi umami and tartufo. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted January 2020
Harder and tougher than other Brunate in that all parts are tense, nervous and demanding in such expedient youth. There needs to be a low and slow unwind to get to the heart of the nebbiolo matter. Will turn and morph into something crucial for La Morra. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted January 2020
Very pressed, extracted and ropey without much energy or drive, There are some grains of tannin but the waning is already in. Drink up and use what Serralunga d’Alba pleasures are contained within the here and now. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Serious nose for this Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo with a grand tisane mixed into the gangly and gamey parts of the constituent plan. Tannic in so many ways, not the least of which is the steeping sachet of herbs, spices and all the parts of Meriame’s land. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
There’s something stirring in this formidably structured Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo, something about fruit but so much more about spice. All sorts of red citrus, seasoning, tar and roses abounds in a mess of Parafada fruit, Impressive, structured and long. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted January 2020
Ornato is at the higher ranges of Serralunga d’Alba, all clay and no sand. Same elévage as Parafada, meaning 24 montbs in Grandi Botti and French oak, pus a further 24 months in bottle. So much more charming than what we often consider as being Serralunga, Conversely grippy, big and intense. Soil’s tension passes and threads through the structure and it sticks because of the great concentration. Aggressive without astringency. Will live 20-25 years easy. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted January 2020
The salumi cure and high toned aromatics are a dead give away for style and for what sort of chalky-sandy-marly soils this must have come from. Also developed and full of fruit that has made its full phenolic journey through to a late harvest. Will offer up its best pleasure earlier rather than later. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Youthfully reductive in fact dramatically so and wound so very tight. Rich and and not yet gracefully textural but smooth and capable of turning supple. A minor aromatic distraction comes from a microbe undefined. We’ll see which way this Bussia from Monforte d’Alba decides to go. Drink 2021-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Quite the rich and substantial fruit component in this from Le Coste in Monforte d’Alba and no surprise from the exceptional cru. You would have to be a fool of a big and misguided scheme to mess up Le Coste. The glycerin and palate presence are nothing short of grand in the way of how fruit works with barrel pride. This is for you who want a mouthful of Barolo. Mosconi abides. Drink 2023-2031. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
Quite extracted, syrupy and almost jammy nebbiolo. Even a touch oxidative and moving quickly, especially across the oxalate palate. No notability in the tannic structure. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
A blend of communes for true estate blending business. Rich and developed dark fruit that goes for broke right from the word go. Also major tannins of mean business and some final bitters. No turning back from this one. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Oddly perfumed and quirky with big tannic thrush over delicate textured fruit. A bit disjointed though the singularity and offer to connect with a sense of place (Margheria in Serralunga d’Alba) makes this a nebbiolo to look forward to, somewhere four to five years down the road. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Light, effusive and mild tisane of orange peel, herbs and woodsies. Lots of wood here and time is needed though it’s far from a spicy affair. Soft in texture and potential possible. Remains to be seen if there is enough fruit. Gotta have fruit. Hopefully that La Morra fruit. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Curious aromas, almost bloody, candied, floral. Such red fruit is a delicacy, exotic, floral again and even a touch reductive. A liqueur d’expedition in a way or in so many ways. Some mustiness needs to dissipate and when it does will reveal nothing but flowers. Tannins will not be forgotten, mistaken or forsaken. They from La Serra in La Morra mean business. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted January 2020
More orange scrape in the many varied citrus scents in this Bricco San Pietro. The cru gives and continues to give this way. Nice delineation if a bit lean in terms of feel across the palate. Simpler and easy as it comes. Drink 2021-2023. Tasted January 2020
Cracker crusted Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo, firm, grippy and jumpy. Certainly still a minor amount of reduction keeps this fresh and intact. Not yet ready for prime time though the stuffing, bones and flesh are all there to make it happen. Remains to be seen if too firm and grippy Bussia get in the way. Drink 2023-20229. Tasted January 2020
As per the Cannubi prefect here Barolo commune presents the taut form, firm grip and tension filled youth. Località uncanny and far from entering a state of unraveling. Cool centre, savoury middle ground and firm as heck finale. Will always lay and be like this. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
Now we see that Perno can deliver so many different things. In here the tobacco is strong, lit and smouldering. Quite herbal as well, richly juiced and strong as tannic tea. Massive Monforte d’Alba wine with tannins of great demand. Needs the most amount of time but clearly the stuffing is there. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
On the earthier and swarthy side for Rocche dell’Annunziata with red plummy fruit crusted by clay and mineral salts. Still it can be nothing but La Morra Barolo from this storied cru what with its structural components seamlessly woven together. Another respectful nebbiolo with attention paid to local detail. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Pretty nebbiolo from La Morra, simplified, rose-candied and full of expressive fruit. Some will scoff at the lack of structure and seriousness but who could not want to seek the pleasure in its bright tones and lightness of being? Is it Barolo? Marcenasco? Of course it is. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted January 2020
Another highly seasoned nebbiolo of rather dark red fruit and barrel piques that create spikes and valleys in the wine. Hangs on with enough energy to see the acidity match the fruit stride for stride. There’s a sense of structure to see this ’16 last for a decade strong and long. Drinking window will open shortly so the temptation will be to imbibe often and early, thereby fertilizing the narcotic poppy of drinking pleasure. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
There is plenty to attract and be attracted to from this swarthy and regaling Cannubi. Big red fruit, dried wild strawberry, tart raspberry and very firm tannins. The pressing and subsequent astringency are temporary but will lead to an earthbound secondary stage. Tasted Blind, January 2020
Réva’s Cannubi is based or is the extension of an idea, initialized in 2012, to have three different expressions in Barolo. The search is for elegance of La Morra or Barolo and the structure of Serralunga or Monforte. The third is a combination and that is found in Ravera. The Cannubi plot was owned by Fratelli Barale, a Cannubi di Cannubi right next to the cemetery of Barolo. It’s still a rented property and will be owned at the end of a 10 year contract. Pure Barolo, close your eyes and this is recognizable as the dictionary entry. Hue as in deep depths of pure red with a streak of light. Palate of acidity and fine tannins with length. Rich without being too strong. Not closed, does not attack your mouth and yet there is grip to keep it moving forward. Really fine tannins and fruitful pleasure. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted January 2020
The single-vineyard cru Lazzarito is added in 2016 and it is Daniele Gaia’s first harvest at Réva. Drive the best car and drive it right away. “This is the best wine Réva has never made,“ says Gaia with great irony mixed into humility. Tasted from low temperatures (22-24 degrees) in tank there was fear of Lazzarito’s tannins. Here above Serralunga a long strip on the top of the eastern side of the hill gives a marl-calcaire meets sandy soil and so the best of both structural worlds; freshness (also from high pH) and grip. Yes it’s silly young and impressionable but already handsome, unadorned and fruit so crunchy, yet also sapid, a pinch salty and the impression of acidity is a freshness with thanks to that elevated pH. A sample but already in bottle and will be released in two years. Drink 2024-2036. Tasted January 2020
Solid Serralunga d’Alba juice in far right extraction without problematic grit. Cerretta Crunchy and tannic, fruit juicy and expressionist. Gives away all of itself and needs nothing in return. Will show well for three, maybe four years. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
A big barrel influence on a La Morra nebbiolo of concentration means this will turn into something smooth, chocolatey and secondary before too long. Somewhat one-dimensional for La Serra in that respect. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Light, airy and transparent Serralunga d’Alba Barolo here with a nice balance between grip and finesse. The fruit has been gently coaxed, receives and creates its structural Baudarina identity with relative ease. Top quality mid-weight example. So reminds of the Barolo from Scarpa. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
A slight oxidative note but still quite attractive with dried strawberry and a natural cure. Quite frankly smells and also tastes like a field blend of grapes picked at different times, stacked and fermented together. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
Wildly aromatic front, namely untamed strawberry and some verdancy tossed in. Very La Morra nebbiolo in a rich and concentrated way, nearly glycerin, certainly taken full advantage of vintage possibility. Not overly complex or tannic but very, very drinkable. Drink 2020-2024. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
The brighter and higher toned Rocche dell’Annunziata is this example where fruit is parochial fruit but a steeping and a warmth takes it to a different level. More palate presence and furthered tannic fineness. There’s so much to appreciate and understand here, namely La Morra finesse and beauty. Drink 2022-2031. Tasted January 2020
Wild berries and all the others in the market well up in this most fruity of Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo Barolo noses. It’s almost impossible how much red, blue and black berry fruit is in the mix. There are structural aspects but they pale in comparison. This one-dimensional wine is really something else. Modern is the understatement. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Slightly elevated in its lift and sour entry. Very much in the saffron, blood orange and scraped skin vein. Searing inwards and so bloody implosive Rocche di Castiglione. So much character and Castiglione Falletto personality in abound. Wait for this to come back down. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
A particulaly youthful and formidable nebbilloo from Bricco Boschis in Castiglione Falletto, no shrinking violet of a cru or in how it can confound the young and impressionable. There’s so much going on with respect to aromas; cured meat, fresh roses, rosewater, paved roads, fennel frond and spice. Then comes this brick of texture of inside like airy nougat. So real, so purposed, finessed and of the greatest intendment. How can you not see this but as a twenty year wine? Can’t you hear the organ croon out length, building to crescendo and classicism? Drink 2024-2036. Tasted January 2020
Here is a really taut, firm and yet forgiving Monforte d’Alba nebbiolo from Bussia. Unmistakeable as Barolo with its masculine missive, its unrelenting structure and how it just says wait. Emphatically so. Big bones and long aging probability for sure. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Quite high-toned and really tannic La Morra nebbiolo. Very little Capalot fruit joy early and perhaps may not really come. Can’t imagine the fleshing or the integration. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Lean and closed, very youthful, not giving very much away. Chewy fruit, ripe acids and even riper tannin so when it emerges from the shell there will be a big ropey nebbiolo to sink teeth deep into. Drink 2022-2027. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
From the very large cru comes this high-toned nebbiolo with a certain sort of 2016 aromatic waft in tow. The citrus one bending towards the oxidative. Stays put and in touch with its plum fruit and tart acids. Drink soon. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Very cured and curative nose personality, like meats hung in the cellar of a wet concrete floor. Smells like winter, damp and draughty but it’s somehow comforting and encouraging. Tart, full on tang and really solid extension. Singular Monforte d’Alba Barolo from the nook of Bricco San Pietro Chirlet. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Now welcome to Perno. Perno of Monforte d’Alba specificity. Perno to tell a cru story, of sweet, sour and salty fruit, if it can be thus simplified. Tang in fruit, tart in acid and crafty in tannin. This is no breeze but it does keep blowin’ down the blow. Wild and ripping, energy like few other. What drive from a cru that knows how to live. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
A touch of stable floor and a blue sky, late fall, fresh day’s ride along the trail. That and fresh red berry, plum and rose petal. So much aromatic Rocche di Castiglione beginning. Speaks to place (Castiglione Falletto) with palate feel and then a crunchy crusted finale. Yes this will morph into a fascinating wine in middle age. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Ripe and effusive, bright aromatics, quite floral and great potential ahead. Quite pure for nebbiolo with enough grip after extraction to send it further than many from Serralunga d’Alba down a crafty and well-designed road. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
The Cerrati tones are set to the top right here and there’s no stepping down any time soon. A plum liqueur dominates with tannins so strong, so firm and admittedly, so fine. Big and chewy, the kind of Serralunga d’Alba Barolo that will really develop some dried fruit meeting cured meet, nuts and even a bit of funghi character. there’s surely enough finesse to see that happen. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Fruity but in a juiced and reduced way, then swelled again with water. That sense is not so obvious but it describes the gains and losses of this La Morra Barolo’s swells. Texturally speaking it improves and impresses, as do the work of acids and tannin. Curious and potentially great. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Very pretty Castiglione Falletto nebbiolo here from Montanello. Most overtly aromatic, never achromatic, seemingly pushy and tannic. Older of mind, body and soul. Old soul. There’s always a place in our hearts for such a Barolo. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
A deeper down the Monforte d’Alba well, twist of fate, somewhat dank though clearly serious nebbiolo of Bussia fame. So much tannin and yet charming. No questioning the personality and the effort. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
Cool and floral, red fruit in the candied to naturally sweet spectrum. Some tisane, savour and fine acidity. Tannins are easy and supportive. High ranking on the La Morra amenability factor. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
The Grinzane Cavour cru is indeed Raviole, the singular shape filled with red cherry fruit at the centre lightly volatile and edgy. Earth crusted and a potential for funghi or tartufi is definitely in the saucy or flaky future for this grainy farina nebbiolo. So curious and with so much possibility. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
A reductive one, one part woollen, one part peppery (like Cornas syrah) and one part volatile. really, really interesting and curious nose. Stays true to Serralunga d’Alba course both on the palate and in the way the retexture mimics, then creates. Such potential and possibility excites, as does the length. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Really nothing else in this long flight of Barolo smells like this Serralunga d’Alba nebbiolo from Prapò. It’s a washed rind cheese meets berry clafouti with a yet undetermined set of bones and future. Confounding really and an absolute glaring example of Barolo in youth that resembles nothing of what it will one day become. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Più Comuni brings vineyards together in strange advance with high toned character mixing with an ooze of liquorice and really developed red plummy fruit. Also some Brettanomyces then true tang from acidity. Big wine that climbs all over the map. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Reductive and protected with little movement this early in its youth. Good core of red Serralunga d’Alba fruit albeit a bit gritty and then some bitters creeping in. If a bit hard-pressed and drying you simply must intuit the youth and what kind of eventuality it will transpose towards and to what end. Forget it Jake, it’s Lazzarito. Drink 2021-2023. Tasted January 2020
Here comes the seductive Ravera with everything beautiful up front at first scent. So liberally perfumed but a subtle fragrance, rose petal, jasmine, orange aerosol in thought only, of cherries and greenery. What follows nay not be as consequential but enough stuffing and grip to avoid any sort of Novello nebbiolo letdown. Still Ravera, still strong. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted January 2020
A lurker perhaps this Sarmassa, while the wood on this nebbiolo is very up front. The texture is all barrel derived (at this stage) and fruit seems a bit subdued. Cool factor for sure, lean (again, in the present) and not entirely allowing for the joys of ripeness or the representations in concentration to be set free. Dries out and peppers reductively in the end so please, don’t touch this for five years easy. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2020
Sumptuous nebbiolo of red berry and orange tinged fruit, quite impressive concentration and a modicum of structure. Love the acidity here and the liquid chalkiness in a La Morra that strikes as being a rendition created through master blending. Quality wine of solid proportioning. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Thick in many ways, concentration for La Morra and also texture for so many layers upon the palate. This is La Serra and its ability, not to mention potential. This time around the pace is slower and the need for admiration is tempered by a better pace. Should drink beautifully in five-plus years. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Buzzing nebbiolo of wild fruit and an almost co2 effervescence. Not quite but it sure makes you feel like the enzymes are still alive and working. Unusual to be sure. Drink 2020-2022. Barrel sample tasted January 2020
An aged Barolo here of big extraction, still raging tannin and more than a shake of Brettanomyces. A curiosity more than anything else. Drink 2020. Tasted January 2020.
Good ropey red fruit is met by some Bretty character and mildly earthy beetroot. Quite the earthy Barolo with old-world, old-school charm. Acids and tannins are expected, directed, offer a sense of place (Bussia) and in the end are quite fine. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Marrone’s 13.5 year old Pichemej Barolo is heady stuff, unspeakably high-toned and equipped with fierce if drying tannins. No missive here and wholly in charge of your senses. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Really quite youthful ’06 from Alesaandria in Verduno with a continuance of strong continence and firm grip still going and even growing. Really the strength is the calling card for all constituent parts through acidity and tannin are the clear winners. Drink soon though food matching is a necessity. Osso Busso and polenta. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Settimo’s Rocche ’06 from La Morra is ostensibly full-on tertiary and if surprising it matters little because the porcini and tartufo are quite stunning. That said the ‘98s in my cellar better be consumed ASAP. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
High-toned with the kind of violet purple fruit that makes for a Brezza-Sarmassa-2006 trilogy. More like a triptych because the seamlessness between fruit, acid and tannic parts is quite fortuitous. Precipitous nebbiolo for dinner matching right now. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Here a La Morra nebbiolo with all of its bones in tact and plenty of flesh hanging on the frame. The fruit persists albeit swathed in chocolatey barrel and the acids are sharp and pointed. Like most ‘06s the tannic structure is strong and supported by no holds barred extraction. This Riund example maintains balance within all these larger than life parameters. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted January 2020
Certainly showing age at this stage the ooze is in and the melting of all parts are welling up the glass. Still the acids and the tannins take charge. When don’t they from 2006? Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Massive aromas, over the top in many ways, nearly suffocating. The palate on the other hand is quite beautiful, high energy and chic. The finish is woody and full of café. A tale of many worlds in this middle-aged nebbiolo, La Morra, Monfalletto, Barolo. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Notable for the extraction happened 13-plus years ago with a forward notation that the fruit stands the test of pressing time. Really chalky and liquid stylish still so it really can handle the 2006 Monforte truth. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Age puts this ’06 from La Morra on the wane side of nebbiolo life though both acids and drying tannins remain fierce, grippy and in charge. This one packs some serious 13-14 year-old punch. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Something ulterior here from Ettore, mingling, alive, balanced and fine. For one of the first times the three main ideals are in synch, or nearly so. A bit heavy o the wood-induced character but everything knows and seems to fit into its right place. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted January 2020
Highly aromatic wine of a multitude of savoury elements. Spiced in many ways, east, west and everywhere in between. Sweet fruit persists but clearly submits to the wood, the acids and that masala of spice. Peppery and sharp, so interesting though not quite developed into present tense balance. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Wholly curious aromas emit preserved orange and baking spice from the Gattera in La Morra by Veglio Mauro. There’s almost no frame of reference here but for the heavy hit of acidity and tannin that take over. Tons of complexity and character. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Completely about face in aromas here from Castiglione Falletto, more evergreen and specifically pine. Very earthy and not forgiving to taste. Perhaps a minor note of TCA. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Quite heady and savoury Monforte nebbiolo with so much tannin from early extraction still safely secure in pocket. Quite woody but the dark Chirlet Bricco San Pietro fruit seems to handle the ever-going onslaught. Will do so for another year or two. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Quite high-toned but also earthy with sweet flavours mainly from oak on the palate. Acids are the driving force and all in all the balance is quite good. From Castiglione Falletto. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Nice little red fruit Monforte nebbiolo that seems to have avoided the ’06 tendency to overdress, extract and stress. And so it is not heavy pressed and while it may miss out on the structure of some big and badass ‘06s at this stage it is nothing but pleasant and joyous San Pietro. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Lovely are apparent Barolo from the section of the Sarmassa cru that brings the lovely. Elegant nebbiolo at 13.5 years old is just this. Red fruit, ripe acids, a touch of volatility and sweet chains of fine-grained tannin. Drink 2020-2023.Tasted January 2020
Quite advanced to no surprise or complaint with fruit compliant in age notable extension. More tannin than acidity in this ’04 and in fact the vintage was not nearly as demanding as referenced by the formidable ‘06s in this tasting. This is a lovely retrospective look at 2004 Riserva. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Nice drop at 15 years-old, red fruit intact, not having been asked to do too much. Quite tart and still so very tight but the winding is beginning to allow the winch to go the other way. The uncoiling means good drinking times over the next five years. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Age is showing with great transparency because the volatility and earthy character is really up front. Woolly and swarthy with high level 2004 acids and drying fruit. Juicy enough but up there in the tonal spectrum. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Just what the Barolo doctored ordered for 15 year-old Barolo with brightness matched by angst. A real posit tug is in effect between juiciness and structure. The force seems to be winning but the flesh is hanging on. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Aging to be sure but an exotica in aroma that is very special. A Bussia reality that delivers much fantasy 15 years on. Chewy and earthy with violets, roses, tar and fennel. Wild ride and happy to have hopped on. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
“Bourgogne vs. Burgundy: A critic’s take on the “plus” side of Bourgogne – the Best Places for Value”
Please join me on Tuesday, June 30th via Instagram for a Bourgogne video in which I talk about LesHautes, “the plus side of Bourgogne,” where vineyards and producers of quality can be found. Bourgogne du Haut, “The Upper Bourgogne.”
I will also make a case for “Bourgogne against Burgundy: A critic’s take on why language is so essential to messaging, for preserving identity and tradition. Finally I will pose the question, What is Climat?
Then, on Monday, July 13th, from 10:30 to 11:15 am I will be hosting a Bourgogne webinar on Regional Appellations. The 45 minute seminar will be directed at sommeliers and the trade industry.
Searching for Bourgogne-Plus
Bourgogne holds many secrets yet discovered and that is why in November of 2019 my colleague and friend John Szabo M.S. and I travelled to France’s most revered wine region. The Bourgogne Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) was authorized in 1937, for white wines extending to the three departments of Yonne, Côte-d’Or and Saône-et-Loire and for reds, to pinot noir from 299 communes throughout wine-growing Bourgogne. Designations have been immovable since the year dot for Bourgogne’s five wine-producing regions; Chablis and Grand Auxerrois, Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune, Côtes Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais. Opinion has come to expect a certain fixed and comprehensible understanding of the hierarchy of appellations; Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Village, Appellation Régionale Bourgogne. The latter to many simply translates as the ubiquitous Bourgogne AOC, though it is but one of six that fall within the category of La Région Bourgogne, the others being Coteaux Bourguignons, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains, Bourgogne Mousseux and Crémant de Bourgogne. The deeper delve is all about the multiplicity of LesAppellations Régionales in the study of what collects beneath the larger umbrella referred to as lesdénominations géographiques.
It’s 8:46 am, we’re at #latâche and that’s not our dog #canadiansinbourgogne #vindebourgogne #vosneeromanee #domainedelaromaneeconti
They the outliers have not been truly considered, at least not until recent times. At the head are LesHautes, the parts of Bourgogne thought to exist in the nether realms and so previously passed over. “The heights,” out of sight fringe locations, places unseeable, host to wines untenable and from vines unsubstantiated. Or with some investigation, perhaps something else? There too are the siblings, Côte Chalonnaise, Côtes d’Auxerre, Côtes du Couchois, Chitry, Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Epineuil, Vézelay, Tonnerre, Le Châpitre, La Chapelle Notre-Dame, Montrecul and Côte Saint-Jacques. In the latterly days of November 2019 the opportunity was presented to visit these shadowy appellative entities, perchance to uncover their truths, they by vineyards and producers of Bourgogne-plus quality. Bourgogne du Haut, “The Upper Bourgogne.” High times in Bourgogne indeed.
I penned that 2017 article in the last days of November, two years ahead of the trip that would rework my internal vision of a Bourgogne world order. At the time a choice was made to focus on the central theme that ties the Bourgogne room together. Climat. I asked the 50,000 euro question. What is Climat? Please read that post for the 10,000 word answer but the irony of my conclusion went like this. “The only true intrinsic reality gained through a discussion about Climat is accessed by the tasting and assessment of examples that represent a full cross-section of Bourgogne. The appellations of Chablis et du Grand Auxerrois, Côtes de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Côtes Chalonnaise and Couchois, the Macônnais and the Châtillonnais are best understood by comparative studies of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With more than 100 appellations (84 officially recognized) it would take a lifetime and then some to cover them all and several more to come to grips with the very specific meanings and interpretations of their personalized Climats. By that time the moving target would change so much that starting again would be the only option. Make the most of the time there is, which is the way of the Bourguignons.” Ironic because exactly two years later I returned to Bourgogne to begin my education anew in the light of a trip gone deep into the Hautes Côtes and satellite appellative explorations. The findings are remarkable, as I will elucidate in due course.
Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?
Bourgogne, now there’s the rub. In this case the party line and profound argument emphatically says no. Pause to consider the infallible cogency of the nuanced word. Then cringe at the platitude of an overused and confusingly perpetuated Brittanica translation that need not be named. Never could or should have but it must now be stressed that the imposter can no longer be considered a viable alternative for it changes meaning and even more importantly, emotion. If we must say it aloud then we may as well point the culprit out in matters point of fact. Burgundy takes its name from the Burgundians, an East Germanic people who moved westwards beyond the Rhine during the late Roman period and settled in Bourgogne. The seat of the Duc de Bourgogne was to be found west of the Saône along the narrow spit of land between Dijon to the north and the area just south of Mâcon. The reference “Duke of Burgundy” is but a translation. The first Google result that answers the query “Is Burgundy the same as Bourgogne” goes like this. “Burgundy is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France, in the valleys and slopes west of the Saône, a tributary of the Rhône.” The proper response to that would be to scream, to shout “answer the bloody $&**!!??&$@ question!” And to offer a strict reminder not to believe everything you read. The first recorded use of “burgundy” as a colour in English was in 1881. Making the argument that the word Burgundy dates back 300 years? Puh-lease. Who but the blind believer and the colonialist heeds this fallacy. These are the eyes of the old. They have seen things that you will never see. Leave it to memory. Dare the Bourguignons to breathe.
At Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche Vineyard, In the heart of Bourgogne
Plus grand est l’obstacle, et plus grande est la gloire de le surmonter
Just a little bit more than a year ago the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) made the plea, on behalf of and at the behest of le vraiment Bourguignon, for a firm and clear pronouncement to take back their name, as is their right to do. “To re-affirm its identity as one of the most iconic vineyards of France, the region and its producers are reverting back to the original French iteration of its name: Bourgogne. Historically Bourgogne is the only French appellation that adopted an alternate identity for export markets with the use of the ‘Burgundy’ designation for the English speaking markets, or Burgund for the German speaking and many other translations according to the country. Today, this traditional ‘Bourgogne’ designation has already been adopted by nearly all the wines produced here – either via appellation designation or wine region labeling. By maintaining this one true identity, Bourgogne returns to its historical roots as the consummate vineyard treasured by consumers the world over.”
The devil might advocate for inclusion, to allow for levity and to argue against a parochialist stance. The contrarian might say, “why exclude a greater population when it might be to the detriment of market share. Tell the people they have to speak the language and they may feel alienated or worse, choose not to participate because it’s harder work, or just too much to ask.” They will say that language is merely colloquial, a matter of repetitive utterance, developed slang and simply a matter of evolution. Why fight it? Would it not make most sense to worry about making good wine and concentrating on selling the product?
“Plus grand est l’obstacle, et plus grande est la gloire de le surmonter. “The greater the obstacle, the greater the glory of overcoming it.” Indeed were Molière here today he would abide in support of the usage. Besides, un savant imbécile est plus un imbécile qu’un imbécile ignorant, “a learned fool is more a fool than an ignorant fool.” Bourgogne, name of the territory and also the name gracing each and every bottle conjoining all its appellative wines. Practice your pronunciation and become comfortable with using it. Do so with unequivocal conviction, daily, written, typed and in the vernacular of spoken word. Glad we got that out of the way.
Things were going so well. Sales were up, wine importers and consumers the world over were beginning to embrace the affordable Bourgogne, these partisan orbiters in surround of their better established kin, these fine pinot noir, chardonnay, aligoté, sauvignon blanc and gamay blends of qualities and quality not seen before. No one ever really worries about the rising prices of the established and their place within the establishment. The new work concentrates on the new world and upwardly mobile millennial spending. Get the regional appellative wines of geographical designation to these new buyers, they of dollars aimlessly doling away to Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Australia, to the cheap and cheerful Italian and Spanish wines. Teleport these varietal outliers into their minds and the golden era will usher in. Then COVID-19 rears its ugly viral head.
Fear not for this will pass and while trade shows are an essential aspect of selling wine, they can be circumvented. Education is the key. There are educators around the world aching to tell a Bourgogne story and fill cups with the wines. The Bourgogne tome is a magnificent one, filled with centuries of great reality, overflowing with heartbreak, victory and desire. The viral hiccup is indeed dangerous, surely dramatic and as great a mortal nuisance as there is but it will leave as fiercely as it came. A trail of debris and sorrow will be left behind but the Bourguignons are a resilient people to get past and move on.
Dinner at Le Bistro des Cocottes in Beaune
Dovetailing and Denominations
In algorithm design, dovetailing is a technique that interweaves different computations, simultaneously performing essential tenets. Bourgogne moves in such rhythm, not only from Côtes de Nuits north to Maçonnais south but also in vortex web design that incorporates LesAppellations Régionales. In Bourgogne the greater territory is tied together by threading all its constituent appellative parts through a mortise, designed to receive corresponding appellations on another part so as to join or lock the parts together. The chardonnay and pinot noir of Les Hautes-Côtes are tenoned through Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits, just as the reds of Irancy and Bourgogne Epineuil are threaded through the whites of Chablis to define a northerly Yonne-Serein section of Bourgogne. The same applies to the Côtes de Couchois with the Côtes Chalonnaise.
The Grand Auxerrois covers a multitude of very old small plots which are today sorted into four terroirs:
• The Auxerrois covers around a dozen communes to the south and southeast of Auxerre
• Farther to the east, beyond Chablis, the vines of the Tonnerrois are found in the valley of the Armançon, the river that runs through the little town of Tonnerre.
• In the south of the Grand Auxerrois region is the Vézelien, which covers Vézelay, Asquins, Saint-Père and Tharoiseau
• The slopes of the Jovinien look down over the town of Joigny, to the north of Auxerre
On these limestone soils, the wines are mainly produced from the traditional Bourgogne varietals of chardonnay and aligoté for whites, and pinot noir and gamay for the reds. Smaller quantities of césar for reds, and sacy or melon for whites are used, while the very old Bourgogne varietal césar sometimes makes a minor appearance in certain Irancy wines. There is an exception in Saint-Bris, where the winemakers produce very aromatic whites from the sauvignon grape.
The Grand Auxerrois brings a wide palette of appellations to the Bourgogne winegrowing region, mainly specific appellations Régionales:
Appellations Régionales specific to Grand Auxerrois: Bourgogne Chitry, Bourgogne Côte Saint-Jacques, Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre, Bourgogne Coulanges-la-Vineuse, Bourgogne Epineuil, Bourgogne Tonnerre
The education begins in Bourgogne Coulanges-la-Vineuse, south of Auxerre in northwestern Bourgogne at the hamlet of the same name surrounded by five valleys; les vallées de Chanvan, de Douzotte, des Champs, de Chamoux, de Droit à Vente and de Magny. There are just over 135 total planted hectares, only 18 of which are chardonnay, with seven producers in the village and 15 overall in the appellation. Unlike virtually all other appellations in Bourgogne the wines produced here all come from the regional appellation, save for a small amount of Côteaux Bourguignons.
Exploring the @vinsdebourgogne of #coulangeslavineuse with great curiosity, emerging engaged, engrossed and charmed. Instructive tasting at Domaine du Clos du Roi.
Domaine du Clos du Roi
Red, White and Rosé are produced at Domaine du Clos du Roi from 16 hectares of chardonnay, pinot noit and césar. Founded in 1969 by Michel and Denise Bernard the domaine has been run by Magali Bernard and her husband Arnaud Hennoque since 2005. Magali is in charge of winemaking and sales while Arnaud the business and the vines. Chardonnay are gifted by generous bâtonnage and raised in demi-muid. The pinot noir purports to be the most typical from these lands, somewhat glycerin rich and clay-chalky with relatively soft and easy tannin. Raised in foudres de chènes (44 hL), the barrels introduced by Ludovin’s father and made in the traditional and historic way of the domain. César is the varietal wild card as noted by the 15 per cent whole cluster worked into pinot noir for the Clos du Roi “Coline” Nos Origines.
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From viticulturist Bernard Magali Nos Origines ia a wine of generous bâtonnage a much easier vintage required less stirring and more accounting from naturally fortifying lees. This exceptional child must have loved its comforting and nurturing stay in demi-muids so now the imagination runs wild with gently rolling spice and thoughts of well-deserved aperitíf moments, especially with a semi-soft, almost firm Epoisses. Has lost little energy at this point in fact it’s still fresh as can be. Tells us something about the future for the ’18 though ’16 and ’17 will outrun the latter. Drink 2019-2021.Tasted November 2019.
The only cuvée in the portfolio that contains some cézar, at 15 per cent mixed into the pinot noir. Coline, Magali’s daughter. Carries a foot-treading tradition, perhaps more Portuguese than Bourgignons but this is the playful wine, not necessarily the serious one. More floral and quite full of citrus, namely pomegranate and especially blood orange. Falls somewhere in the middle, not between red and white but within a red spectrum of its own. Can see this as the correct one to drink with charcuterie. That’s the sort of structure it considers, especially because of the whole bunch workings inside. Drink 2019-2022.Tasted November 2019
Saint-Bris and Côtes d’Auxerre
Bourgogne Côtes d’Auxerre, Saint-Bris and Irancy
The Auxerre vineyards (pronounced “Ausserre”), lying on either side of the river Yonne, boast ancient lineage, thanks to the abbey of Saint-Germain and a proximity to Paris. Today they are very much alive. In 1993, wines from the communes of Auxerre, Vaux, Champs-sur-Yonne, Augy, Quenne, Saint-Brisle- Vineux and Vincelottes were granted the right to add a local identifier to the appellation Régionale Bourgogne.
Lying alongside the river Yonne in the heart of the Auxerrois region, Saint-Bris-le-Vineux is an old stone-built village beneath which are extraordinary medieval cellars, running everywhere, the most astonishing examples of their kind in Bourgogne. They cover 3.5 ha, 60 metres underground. The quarries at nearby Bailly supplied the building stone for the Pantheon in Paris.
Irancy, in the Grand Auxerrois region, stands on the right bank of the Yonne river, some fifteen kilometres South of Auxerre and South-West of Chablis. It is typical of the wine-growing villages of the district. It boasts a majestic church, as well as the house where G. Soufflot, architect of the Paris Panthéon, was born. The handsome winemaker’s houses make a fitting setting for a red wine with such a long-established reputation. It was raised to the status of an appellation Village, which it shares with the neighboring villages of Cravant and Vincelottes, in 1999.
Goisot Guilhem et Jean-Hugues
The family tree of the Domaine Guilhem & Jean-Hughes Goisot traces roots back to the 14th century and today the estate raises vines biodynamically in the communes of Saint-Bris-Le-Vineux and Irancy. They are unique on a hill position that straddles both the Saint-Bris and Côtes d’Auxerre appellations enabling production of both sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Irancy is the source for pinot noir. Their cellar lays beneath the 11th-12th century village. Guilhem’s parents Ghislaine and Jean-Hughes took over production in 1979 while he and his wife Marie assumed the lead in 2005. Guilhem’s collection of calcareous rocks and especially ancient seabed shells and fossils is perhaps the most incredible in Bourgogne. His translation of three terroirs is concise and exacting. These are some of Bourgogne’s most focused wines that elevate the power, precision and status of these three furthermore there appellations.
The precise, focused and compact pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc of @guilhemgoisot from out of the @vinsdebourgogne proximate terroirs of #cotesdauxerre and #saintbris ~ Plus some of the great rocks anywhere.
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A Villages wine from and for Irancy from 100 per cent pinot noir. Aromatically quiet, not unusual for the appellation and especially without any of the allowable 15 per cent cézar in the mix. Quite pure and similarly structured to the Côtes d’Auxerre in that it’s not full-bodied but is in fact tightly compact. More implosive intensity and idiosyncrasy with a chalky underlay from white to grey soil high in calcaire and layered with arglieux. Yet another very refined wine. This man knows how to use his sulphur properly. Clean, focused and very precise. Benchmark for Irancy. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
The next Climat behooves the already pronounced adage that these wines increase upwards from one to the next in delicasse, precision and possibility. There is an earthy grounding in La Ronce that seems absent in Le Court Vit and here makes for a new structure, or rather a more complex one. Now taking another step into variegated terroir replete with all the fossils, shells and epochs of clay, limestone and multi-hued soils all filling up the elemental well. These vines draw from it all and it shows with precise sapidity, aridity, salinity and validity in the aromatic character and flavour profile. A conditioning that is sweet because the fruit is pure and savoury with thanks to the acid-tannin structure that makes this sing. Amazing purity, grace and possibility. Drink 2022-2031.Tasted November 2019
A soil of kimmeridgian and marl of white and blue, with great layering of fruit and that is in fact what you feel from Gondonne. There is something rich and overtly expressive here and while it’s anything but simple it could be imagined that so many consumers would understand this chardonnay, love it and want to drink it with abandon. That said the structure, gout de terroir and de vivre are just exceptional. The wood and the land just melt right in. Drink 2020-2029.Tasted November 2019
Usually this is a Climat reserved for holdings in Côtes d’Auxerre but in this case the northwest exposure is indeed within the appellation of Saint-Bris. In fact there’s more affinity with chardonnay here and also conversely more terpenes in the notes. Also pyrazines which is more than curious. Ripe too and ultimately a most curious expression of sauvignon blanc. It’s got everything in here, in hyperbole and more. Drink 2020-2028.Tasted November 2019
Bourgogne Epineuil, Chablis and Bourgogne Tonnere
The Tonnerrois region lies in the southern Yonne not far from Chablis. Épineuil the commune won the official right to identify its wines by name within the general appellation Bourgogne in 1993. The word Épineuil may only be appended to the word Bourgogne in the case of red or rosé wines produced within the defined area of the appellation. On the label, the word Épineuil must follow the word Bourgogne. The soils, full of white pebbles, resemble those of the nearby Chablis region (Kimmeridgian or associated limestones) and have definable qualities. Where the vineyard district is broken up into valleys, the vines are sheltered from the cold winds of the Langres plateau and reap the benefit of a favourable microclimate.
I’ve considered Chablis many times before. “There is little about Chablis that is not drawn up in contrasts. It begins with Left Bank versus Right Bank, the Serein River and the village of Chablis acting as the interface between. Petit Chablis giving way to the more important Chablis and then Premier Cru the varied and always impressive interloper separating the villages wines from the Grand Cru. Chablis as a varietal concept, as opposed to and unlike anywhere else in the world, seemingly unrelated to chardonnay.”
“The greatest paradox of all is written in stone along a few ridges and across the most important set of hills above the river. Deep-rooted, inveterate purlieu of geology in eight names; Les Preuses, Bougros, Vaudésir, Grenouille, Valmur, Les Clos, Blanchot and unofficially (depending on political affiliations), La Moutonne. Les Grand Crus of Chablis are singled out not only for their exceptional terroir and climat but also for the impossibility of what happens when fruit is pulled from their chardonnay vines. The Grand Cru are oracles in complex riddles, transcendent mysteries and the most enigmatic of all Chablis. I suppose it’s because the rich fruit versus exigent stone is the epitome of Chablis paradox.”
Domaine Jean-Claude Courtault, Lignorelles
Domaine Jean Claude Courtault and Stéphanie & Vincent Michelet
Stéphanie Courtault-Michelet is the daughter of Jean-Claude and Marie-Chantal Courtault. She and her husband Vincent Michelet farm 20 hectares in the appellations of Bourgogne Epineuil and the four that comprise Chablis. The business dates back to 1984 and today both Domaine Jean-Claude Courtault and Stéphanie & Vincent Michelet produce Chablis from vineyards in Beines and Lignorelles, at a windy and cool spot on the top of the hill above the Vau Ligneau. Their Bourgogne Epineuil Climat is the Côte de Grisey from a valley and off of vines that face west.
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From only one hectare of vineyards right on the line between Lignorelles and Villy and much of the vines are in and about 60 years of age. A very concentrated yet somehow delicate and quite precise Chablis that weighs in above it’s appellative status, if only because it’s not considered one of the more coveted terroirs. Here at the limits of Chablis there is a micro-climate that speaks a Premier Cru vernacular, categorized or not. Very much a calcareous child, fresh, darting, never tiring and innocent. That means it’s focused and pure. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
From young vines and certainly quality fruit that comes across as simple, sweet and charming. From a valley and vines that face west with a darkening cherry profile, mainly clay induced with just a little stoniness from the limestone. Finishes with just a touch of tannin in a notably dried herbs and arid way. Find your food match, like a little pot au feu of tête de veau. Drink 2020-2022.Tasted November 2019
Domaine Gruhier (Domaine de L’Abbaye du Petit Quincy)
More often than not it should be a conscionable imperative to trust a man with a great hat. Dominique Gruhier in Epineuil walks around the Abbey of Quincy in a characteristic, dashing calibre lid. The Abbey was founded in 1212 by Cistercian monks, sold in 1792 as a natinal asset ands was preserved in pastoral and viticultural terms through 1914. Though it fell to Phylloxera and disrepute there was activity through 1970. Twenty years later The Gruhier family began the resurrection and today create Bourgogne Epineuil and Tonnerre wines that lead for the appellations. Dominique’s Sparkling Wine program is at the head of Bourgogne’s new world order for classic method Crémant de Bourgogne AOC preparations.
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Named for Dominique Gruhier’s eldest daughter Juliette. A lighter, more delicate and refined Tonnerrois with floral cherry and cherry blossom aromatics, moving away from the darker ultra-violet notes of the following vintage and also two forward based on what’s in barrel. The tannins are fine like those 2019s but the wine has more tension than 2018. Righteous structure in a wine to last well past the namesake’s 21 birthday.Drink 2020-2024.Tasted November 2019
The eminent one or rather the grand eminent. His eminence is a zero dosage, 100 per cent Crémant of zero put on. From an accumulated amount of solare the make up is 85 per cent 2015 and the other 15 a sparkling wine with everything up front, on its sleeve and one that just screams “won’t you come and join the party, dressed to kill.” A second, just opened bottle reveals the great strike, right from the opening keyboard whirl to the final shout. Drink 2019-2024.Tasted November 2019
Côtes de Beaune
The Côte de Beaune vineyards lie on the upper slopes of the Montagne de Beaune just above the Premier Cru plots at heights of 300 to 370 metres and on brown limestone and calcium-rich soils, Oolitic and Rauracian (Jurassic) in origin. The special value of these vineyards is attested by the fact that one of the Climats belonging to this appellation, located on Mont Battois, is a dedicated part of Bourgogne’s vine-science research program. When Beaune’s twins AOCs were instituted in 1936, it was the higher altitude vineyards which became the Côte de Beaune appellation. Unlike the appellation Côte de Beaune-Village, with which it must not be confused, it refers to one commune only – Beaune. Within this relatively restricted area, the appellation Côte de Beaune produces one third white wines (chardonnay) to two-thirds red (pinot noir).
A night in Beaune. Thank you Nico. Je me souviendrai toujours.
Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Beaune
The Bourgogne Hautes Côtes De Beaune Régionale appellation covers still red, white, and rosé wines produced in an area covering 29 villages that was defined in 1961. The vines are located at the foot of the limestone cliff on the sunny slopes of a ribbon of valleys perpendicular to the Côte de Beaune, from Les Maranges to Ladoix-Serrigny heading west. Wine from the Hautes Côtes de Beaune was drunk at the coronation of Philippe Auguste in 1180. The vines underwent a period of expansion, linked to economic growth throughout the 19th century, until phylloxera struck. Between 1910 and 1936, almost half of the vineyard disappeared. Its renaissance stemmed from the reestablishment of the winegrowers union of the Hautes Côtes de Beaune in 1945, which was responsible for the creation of the appellation on 4 August 1961.
Domaine Alexandre Parigot
Marie et Régis Parigot have handed the reigns to Domaine Parigot to their son Alexandre who is clearly poised to become a star for pinot noir threaded from Hautes-Côtes de Beaune through Savigny, Volnay and Pommard. Today Domaine Alexandre Parigot cultivates 18 hectares in total, 15 of which are pinot noir. The Hautes-Côtes de Beaune vines are of south, southwest expositions on very fine argileux-calcaire, quite sandy and causing wines of elegance and finesse. Le Clos de la Perrière is a benchmark for the appellation. Two to three weeks of classic remontage from which the closing of the tanks and raising of temperature to 32 degrees post fermentation brings this and these pumped over Parigot pinot noir into their silky and seductive state.
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The Domaine cultivates 18 hectares in total. The Hautes-Côtes de Beaune vines are of south, southwest expositions on very fine argileux-calcaire, quite sandy and causing wines of elegance and finesse. A fresh and silky pinot noir with 2017’s great purity and transparency of fruit. Transparency but subtle glycerin texture which is truly an extension of the sweet aromatic profile. A perfectly enlivening nine o’clock in the morning Haut-Côtes. Drink 2020-2024.Tasted November 2019
From the plot just beneath the village at the height of Pommard. The particularity of 2017 grapes is their fineness of skins and perfectly phenolic gifts donated with great philanthropy by the perfectly ripened seeds. But in this case the laces are once again pulled tight, with great power in even greater finesse. There’s an elegance opposed by a controlled tension that puts this in a position of posit and positive tug, though always charged with something higher and opposing. Drink 2022-2032.Tasted November 2019
The 2010 is incredibly fresh, showing negligible evolution, with no advancement into mushroom or truffled territory. Certainly no blood orange and still welling with cherries. No desiccation, only fresh fruit and high acidity. Very impressive showing for a nine year-old Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. Drink 2019-2024.Tasted November 2019
And of course in Beaune we tasted 30 Bourgogne with Nico @johnszaboms @nicholaspearce_ @domaine_de_bellene
Beaune to be wild – Maison Roche de Bellene
There really is nothing Nicolas Potel can’t do, does not touch or lacks kinship with all things Beaune. Potel’s father Gérard was larger than life, local hero and legend, one of Bourgogne’s most cherished and beloved, the King of Volnay and who’s legacy can’t ever be forgotten. While at dinner in Beaune in November Nico suddenly disapparated to teleport 20 minutes home and back, to retrieve and then share his dad’s 1964 Domaine de la Pousse d’Or Pommard Premier Cru Les Jarollières. Why? It was suddenly the right time and it was sublime. In fact the city of Beaune was called Bellene back in the Middle Ages and this is the reason Potel chose the name for his brand/wine merchant/négoce domaine. Maison Roche de Bellene is a force to be reckoned with, a seer of all things and provider of a cross-section of many terroir to educate us all on the power of Bourgogne multitude and multiplicity. Nicolas does have a reputation for being the wild child of Beaune and yet he is also known for his generosity, mainly of spirit. One never forgets a night in Beaune with the infamous Nicolas Potel.
Tasting with Nicolas Potel at Maison Roche de Bellene
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Larger than life, at least by normal Brouilly standards, here from Stéphane Aviron’s hands transferred into Nicolas Potel’s arms. There’s a blowsy, boisterous and open-handed handle in this gamay, ready for anything. Was ready, remains ready and will always be ready. Rich, fatter and appealing. Drink 2019-2022.Tasted November 2019
Tastelune is a play on Tastevin in ode to how labels of Nuits-Saint-Georges Bourgogne were brought on an Apollo mission to the moon. Quite firm, grippy and near glycerin in texture, quite rich for 2017. Generally speaking the winemaker makes use of 30-40 per cent whole bunch, no punchdowns and just pump-overs. The result is a true sense of grip and grit. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
A high quality fruit year means one major thing in Nicolas Potel’s hands and that’s 100 per cent whole bunch in the fermentation. These lignified brown stems add the sort of complexity that great Bourgogne just has to have. Plenty of fine tannin, grip for the future and real swagger. Drink 2022-2030.Tasted November 2019
The old vines chardonnay, just as Nicolas Potel has managed to effect with the pinot noir is a matter of bringing Bourgogne to the market. The old vines carries a purpose and an intendment to speak as a by the glass matter with a classic regional styling, clean, crunchy and white cherry fruit designed. Made reductively and for freshness to consume with great immediacy. That’s exactly what it does. Buy into the program. Drink 2019-2021.Tasted November 2019
Why Trés? Because they are. They meaning the vines which are more than 80 years old. Wisdom, acumen and inbred understanding translated and transported into this Bourgogne of chic stature and the sort of class only Nicolas Potel can gift. Balance is spot on. Drink 2021-2031.Tasted November 2019
Ludovine Ambroise, Maison Ambroise
Maison Bertrand Ambroise
Maison Ambroise dates its origins to the 18th century and 1960 is about the time the family begins making a life around the vineyard after two and a half centuries of unsettled times. The location is Premeaux-Prissey, across the road and proximate to Nuits-Saint-Georges on a dividing line that separates the two Côtes, de Beaune and de Nuits. In 1987 Bertrand Ambroise takes over management of the 17 hectare domaine which he now runs with his family; Martine, Ludovine and Françoise. These are chardonnay and pinot noir in the space between, dualistic, generous and austere, bold and forgiving, demanding and generous. Truly Bourgogne.
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A step up in height and tension for a reductive one that may not speak in the same fruit terms as the regional chardonnay of higher calling, but welcome to the new and exciting Hauts denomination. This is crackerjack Bourgogne, with real strength in tension. So much fun, joy, excitement and delight. Drink 2020-2024.Tasted November 2019
From near the village of Villers there’s a refinement about this pinot noir that speaks to the chic abilities of the Haut-Côtes de Nuits. Black cherry and high acidity all oozing, welling and pulsing out of concentration. If the whites are crunchy then the reds are chewy and this sits at the top of the spectrum. The top pinot noir for sure and equipped with the finest tannins. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
A Villages Nuits-St.-Georges (sans Climat) with a peppery reduction that will blow off with time, just not in these few minutes of dating. In fact some hand-covered agitation does the trick and releases the florals you’d imagine would be present. The firm grip is just outstanding, as is the liquid velvet mouthfeel with true argiluex underlay. From fruit just north of the village and clearly a spot that delivers some of the appellation’s great finesse. Terrific pace and compact structure while also rich for 2017 but not so unexpected from the place. Drink 2021-2031.Tasted November 2019
The appellation Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise dates from 1990 and recognizes the distinct personality of wines from the 44 communes in the northern part of the department of Saône-et-Loire, an area some 40 km long and between 5 and 8 km in width. Lying between the valleys of the Dheune and Grosne and open towards the South, the Côte Chalonnaise offers a less rugged landscape than those of the Côte de Nuits to the North. These gentle hills are outcrops of the Massif Central thrown up by the creation of the rift valley known as the Bresse Trench. In the North, limestone forms the East-facing slopes and there are outcrops of lias and trias formations (Saint-Denis, Jambles, Moroges). South of the granitic block formation at Bissey, the hillsides slope either to the East or the West until they reach the hills of the Mâconnais. The soils below the Bajocian limestone corniche are marly, with sands and shaly or flinty clays at the foot of the slopes where there are also some gravel outcrops. Altitudes vary from 250 to 350 metres.
Pruning in the Côte de Couchois
Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois
The Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois Régionale appellation covers still red wines produced in an area covering six villages that was defined in 2000. An application for AOC-status for the white wines is currently ongoing. The vines of Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois are located to the south of the Côte de Beaune and the Hautes Côtes de Beaune, on the left bank of the River Dheune, which separates it from the Côte Chalonnaise to the east. They grow on the best slopes in this rolling landscape, offering some remarkable viewpoints. The vines are divided up across south- and southeast-facing slopes at between 280-420m above sea level, with a climate marked by continental influences that leads to relatively late ripening. The soil is characterized by granite from the Primary period, clay sandstone and clay from the Trias, and limestone from the Lower Jurassic. Most of the vines in the Bourgogne Côtes du Couchois appellation sit atop versicoloured clay from the Trias.
Château de Couches, a.k.a Marguerite de Bourgogne, Chagny
Cave de Mazenay
Jean-Christophe Pascaud is the Directeur of the Cave de Mazenay, Union des Producteurs at Négociants de l’AOC Côtes du Couchois, located in Saint-Sernin-du-Plain in Saône-et-Loire. Their most particular wine is the Blason de Vair from the Château de Couches vineyards. Although located since its creation in the very heart of the Couchois appellation, the cellar’s approach is not limited to the work of a single PDO. But also to the production of a complete range of Bourgogne wines, mainly from Côtes de Nuits to Côtes Chalonaises, and of course also including Côtes de Beaune. Their range is extensive and includes the sale of bulk wines. Production includes Bourgogne Pinot Noir et Hautes-Côtes, Maranges et Santenay, Savigny les Beaune, Pommard et Meursault, Gevrey Chambertin, Vin des Hospices de Beaune, Bourgogne Aligoté, Viré-Clessé, Rully, Givry et Mercurey, Crémant de Bourgogne.
The Cave is intrinsically tied to one of Bourgogne’s most famous castles and medieval fortification, the Château de Couches, known as Marguerite de Bourgogne, near Chagny and classified as a historic monument. The château is a former fortress of the Dukes of Bourgogne dating back to the 11th century, with a dungeon, underground, garden and of architecture designed between the end of the 11th and the 19th century. Acting as a form of protection for the route between Paris and Chalon-sur-Saône, over the centuries, the château underwent many changes, but its defensive character remains intact. This fortress dominates the road and the surrounding countryside from the top of its crenellated towers and its keep.
Marguerite of Bourgogne was the granddaughter of King Saint Louis and daughter of the Duke of Bourgogne. She spent part of her youth in this place. Her marriage to the future Louis X le Hutin made her a queen of France but, convicted of adultery, she was locked away in the fortress of Château Gaillard in Normandy. Legend claims that after the death of her royal husband, secret negotiations between the crown and the powerful Duchy of Bourgogne would have enabled her to end her days in Château de Couches.
A wood at the forefront chardonnay for now with a greater reductive freshness than the ’17. A similar ripe, sun-worshiped quality though more structure and integration it would seem. The winemaking is better in this second incarnation of the company’s top chazrdonnay. This would impress the Bourgogne seeker of higher end chardonnay. Drink 2020-2024.Tasted November 2019
Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot, Domaine Theulot-Juillot
Few producers in Bourgogne will offer a more profound, deep, philosophical and über historical delve into the triumvirate of terroir, lieu-dit and Climat as Jean-Claude and Nathalie Theulot. Their Mercurey estate is one of the regions great sleepers, founded more than 100 years ago by Émile Juillot. Granddaughter Nathalie and her husband Jean-Claude run the 12 hectare farm of Mercurey Villages and sense of place pinot noir that can age 20-25 years.
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From Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot, their négoce part of the estate’s production, here a transparent and simple expression of chardonnay. Drawn from Mercurey vineyards though outside of the limit to name this Mercurey AOC, this is fruit grown specifically for basic consumption. The richesse and finesse take it further than many with traditional and classic touching great modernity. Just a bloody delicious and balanced chardonnay. That’s the proper stuff. Drink 2019-2022.Tasted November 2019
A red terroir planted to white now 35 years ago, then and now, without fear. Clearly a more mineral, saline and fine brine inducing plot of Mercurey for chardonnay. Truly rich and developed with ideal, precise and extract sidling phenolics. Ripeness is truly a virtue and exclamation exercised with confidence and also restraint. The wood is necessary and invited, always present while finding a balance between thermal amplitude and cooling comfort. Very young, in structure and at heart. Drink 2022-2029.Tasted November 2019
From two words, “Mi” and “Pont,” meaning a milestone or military marker at the bridge on the ancient Roman road from Chalon to Autun. The house or fort would have been a dwelling on the plot where the stone was set and now the lieu-dit carries the name. This is still Villages appellation and yet there’s a climb above in quality, from texture for sure but also calcareous excitement. It’s a complicated spot to define but there is more limestone because the soil washes away in a section due to the exposition and the “plunge” of that part. There’s a tension but not an anxious one, no rather the lift is simply of joy in a rapid heartbeat, from love, not consternation. Drink 2022-2028.Tasted November 2019
A blind pour without knowledge of Climat, lieu-dit or vintage. Certainly older than 2010, now with mushroom and truffle involved but still high in acidity. There is also the ferric quality that was noted in the Cailloute. The tannins are so limestone driven with a red earthiness that converts sugars to savouriness and fruit to umami, Life affirming, longevity defying and quality of all its constituent parts. This is why Jean-Claude and Nathalie do what they do and share it with people like us. Drink 2019-2024.Tasted November 2019
The Côte Chalonnaise from Domaine de L’Évêché Quentin & Vincent Viticulteurs
Domaine de L’Évêché Quentin & Vincent Viticulteurs
In the 17th century the Clos de L’Évêché was part of a larger property owned by the Bishop of Autun. Vincent Joussier purchased Domaine de L’Évêché in 1985 and runs the estate today with his wife Sylvie and son Quentin. The Côte Chalonnaise vineyards cover 14 hectares across several appellations: Mercurey, Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise, Crémant de Bourgogne, Coteaux Bourguignons and Bourgogne Aligoté. Most of the production comes from pinot noir (80 per cent) and chardonnay (15) but also small amounts of aligoté and gamay.
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Just the terroir makes the difference,” explains Vincent Joussier, “and the age of the vines.” They are in fact 10 years older and handle their wood compliment with greater acceptance and ease. Still quite a creamy chardonnay but this time with lemon curd, dreamy demure and finer spice. A much more refined and defined wine with much greater sense of place. Certainly the Premier Cru of Vincent’s blancs. Drink 2021-2025.Tasted November 2019
Now into a pinot noir with some tension as purposed by a calcaire Mercurey terroir, as opposed to the simpler argile in the Côte Chalonnaise. Not just grip, tension and tannin but a fineness in those chains to extend the future’s possibilities. Fruit is relatively dark but there is a persimmon flavour and texture mixed with something citrus undefined. Maybe pomegranate but also wooly-earthy, like red Sancerre. Quite a complex wine with a sour complexion. Needs time to integrate to be sure. Returns to earth and fineness at the finish. The length is outstanding. Drink 2021-2025.Tasted November 2019
Cave des Vignerons de Buxy
Bourgogne’s most impressive cooperative producer is none other than Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, established in 1931 and easily the largest in the Côte Chalonnaise. Located in the North of the Mâconnais, the “cave” groups together fifty or so family producers associated with the Cave des Vignerons de Buxy since 1976. The range of wines from the Mâconnais and the Côte Chalonnaise is nothing less than extensive. At least 20 white, red and rosé appellations are bottled and represented. At the forefront of it all is the passionate Rémi Marlin, he of knowledge encompassing all things Mâconnais and especially Côte Chalonnaise.
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A very different vintage but more backbone in 2017. Even fresher and even now than the 2018 with more than 90 per cent of the growers’ fruit the same. Less than 10 per cent fermented in barrel because the vintage served up the possibility and the chance taken was a prudent and ambitious one. Fresh and snappy, really and truly perfectly Côte Chalonnaise. Drink 2019-2021.Tasted November 2019
On the plateau up to the village of Culles (des Roches) only seven kilometres from the Cave. Champ Cardin makes use of its higher elevation at 300-plus metres above sea level. There is more fruit and acid attack along with a longer chain of extractgiving sharp mineral notes that also come through caused by less topsoil and more exposed rock in the upper reaches of the vineyards. Well-balanced chardonnay from a solid lieu-dit. Drink 2020-2023.Tasted November 2019
Located at the entrance of “the circus,” in front of the amphitheatre, oriented south and southeast. At 350m and with the aspect it’s an early maturing Climat, of 12.3 hectares on steep hillsides with the vines are planted at the top of the slopes. Quite “clayeux,” as in chalky with that great Montagny richesse. You feel like you’re chewing this chardonnay long after it has left your mouth. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
The vintage for pinot noir to deliver and express the best of both worlds it is the sense of piquing spice that separates this Côte Chalonnaise from the pack. There’s also an earthy volatility that grounds, elevates and keeps it real. Chalky finish as expected in a pinot of really solid architecture. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted November 2019
A high level of iron-oxide is contained withy the clay of Cur Clos Jus, just below the road from Givry to Mercurey. It’s a seven hectare plot re-planted in the late 70s early 80s and farmed by only five growers. Two years of age (more than the ’16) is finally showing some advancement and even a moment of relenting behaviour. A few portents for the future are hidden and then released in this bloody, meaty and piquillo-paprikas of a Givry. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
Côte de Nuits
The Côte de Nuits and Hautes Côtes is predominately cultivated with pinot noir and holds most of the region’s Grands Crus. Much of the small production of white wine is chardonnay though aligoté is also grown. The reputation of the appellations of the Côte de Nuits is firmly established. Some have even gone so far as to name this exceptional terroir the Champs-Elysées of the Bourgogne winegrowing region. This sophisticated pseudonym also explains the reality of the terrain. Between Dijon and Corgoloin, the wines grow along a narrow strip of hillside that is around 20km long and in parts, just 200 meters wide.
Bourgogne Côte d’Or
The vines of the Bourgogne Côte d’Or appellation extend across an area 65km long and between 1-2km wide, from Dijon to the Maranges. Geographically speaking, the Côte d’Or (golden slope) covers the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits. The reputation of the wines grown here is such that the department was named after the area during the Revolution. Vines have been grown here since antiquity, and were subsequently expanded by religious orders, the Dukes of Bourgogne, the wine merchants.
In the 19th century, new means of transportation facilitated and modernized the sale. The establishment of the AOC system led winegrowers to build a hierarchy of terroir on the Côte, thus marking out specific areas and protecting their Crus. In 2017, producers of the Régionale appellation Bourgogne from Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune were granted the extended name of “Bourgogne Côte d’Or”, their wines thus becoming Bourgogne Identifiés within the Régionale Bourgogne AOC, limited to specific geographical areas within the Bourgogne appellation.
If you ever find yourself in Bourgogne, Côte-d’Or, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Curtil-Vergy do not miss the cuisine and the playlist of Olivier Lebail. Grand jour! ~ #aupetitbonheur #aubergebourguignonne
Domaine Bart (Pierre)
Fifty years after André Bart was farming only six hectares of vines, sixth generation Pierre Bart is now the custodian in Marsannay-la-Côte, working 22 hectares of vines. After André’s children Martin and Odile arrived in 1982 they founded a farming association for combined operations in 1987, to continue operating as the GAEC. Pierre Bart is a community leader in the process to recognize the more important vineyards of the Marsannay appellation as Premier Cru. Approximately one in four identified blocks in separated bottlings of the appellation are up for Premier Cru status consideration and while his intention is to highlight these Climats, he is also pragmatic about which ones should remain in the Village appellation. The most likely to suceed are Champs Perdrix, Champ Salomon, Clos du Roi, Longeroies and Montagne.
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Bourgogne Côte d’Or AOC began in 2018 after years of incremental appellative movement. There was Bourgogne AOC in 1965, followed by Marsannay AOC in 1987. The entire cuvée comes from fruit grown in Marsannay, mostly on sandy soils created by washes coming down from the hills. In this case Combe Grand Vaux and Combe Semetot. If 2018 seemed open than ’17 is fully un-shuttered and doing great business. Interesting how on the calcareous soils you always get a chalky feel but here just smooth, silky and immensely amenable. What a great pour by the glass right here in so many ways to justify this from Marsannay in Bourgogne Côte d’Or AOC clothing. Fine and delicate.. Drink 2019-2021.Tasted November 2019
Marsannay Rosé AOC began in 1987 after years of incremental appellative movement. There was Bourgogne AOC in 1965, followed by Marsannay AOC in 1987. It can be drawn from both the Villages and the Bourgogne appellations, a particularity specific to labelling it Marsannay Rosé. The fruit is drawn from sandy soils and made from the Marsannay pinot noir. Two thirds direct press and one third (48 hour ) maceration. Not a huge quantity made in the appellation and here with plenty of fruit undercut by a current or streak of sweet salinity. Tons of flavour and unlimited drinkability. Drink 2019-2020.Tasted November 2019
From a very small, seven barrel cuvée and a tiny parcel near the northern limit closest to the hill. There is some primary calcaire mixed into the white oolite dominated soil. Twenty per cent whole bunch fermentation and 20 per cent new oak with the accumulation result being a notable raise and rise in this Marsannay Villages Climat’s fine acidity-tannin relationship. There’s a study in here in consideration of Premier Cru though one that sits on the fence. A little too amenable and subtle of appellative grip to be in the running. Drink 2020-2026.Tasted November 2019
From near the mountain and the place (Champ) where people were killed. Here is the Marsannay that I personaly have come to know and expect, laced pulled so tight but there is a quality to Bart’s fruit that is consistently woven through the Climats. Clearly a matter of hands off/hands on winemaking playful of whole bunch, new wood, temperature adjustment and easy movement work. These are wines of great pleasure and while the structure here moves the needle to a 10-15 year aging potential there is no question the pleasure is early and almost instant. There’s something very special about that. Drink 2021-2030.Tasted November 2019
Signs and portents. First an afternoon Chevannes rainbow and then more examples of on-a-want-to-know-basis #hautscotesdenuits @vinsdebourgogne ~ Oh, some pretty stylish Climat and Grand Cru as well from Domaine #DavidDuband
Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
At one time apparently doomed to disappear the vineyards of the Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits have since the 1950s undergone a patient, courageous, and ultimately successful restoration. They are situated overlooking the slopes of Gevrey-Chambertin and extending as far as the wood of Corton, the Hautes Côtes de Nuits. Little villages nested in the forest fringes lay waiting to be discovered. The vineyards located on a plateau behind the famous Côte de Nuits and village of Nuits-Saint-Georges at altitudes of 300 to 400 metres cover all these slopes which enjoy favourable exposures and proudly preserve their proof of nobility going back to Vergy and the abbey of Saint-Vivant.
High-level discussion at Domaine David Duband
Domaine David Duband
The domaine was created in 1991 in the footsteps of David’s father Pierre who first started in 1965. From 1995 on and after his father’s departure the estate made several purchases and extended to making wines off of 17 hectares of vineyards. No less then 23 prestigious appellations are employed, including important Côtes de Nuits Premier and Grand Cru. The wines cover the Grand Cru of Echezeaux, Chambertin, Charmes-Chambertin and Clos de la Roche; the Premier Cru of Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Procès, Aux Thorey and Les Pruliers, Morey-Saint-Denis Clos Sorbè; Villages from Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin; Hautes Côtes de Nuits. The farming is organic since 2004.
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Tasting with Laurent Berger. Located in the village of Chevannes, next to the Côte de Nuits with some vineyards in Nuits-Saint-Georges and some in Savigny. A négoce of most of the important Côte d’Or and Côtes de Nuits appellations. Here from the Hauts-Côtes at the top the south facing hill off of 35 year-old vines growing on full calcaire slopes. Mixes a wealth of fruit and tart acidity sent straight to the cerebral cortex, crux and cross of the heart. Well made, clean and ideally balanced. Drink 2020-2024.Tasted November 2019
Clos Sorbè the Climat is located right in heart of Morey’s interior, right next to the cemetery. Now the rose’s petals are macerating with the cherries in a pinot noir of classic Bourgogne depth and understanding. The structure is quite elegant in a focused and rich way while weight seems developed by vine age in the 50-55 year range. An impressive Premier Cru of true blue cause, personality and effect. Drink 2022-2028.Tasted November 2019
Taking a side step from Chames-Chambertin is the more transparent and seemingly lighter and more delicate Chambertin. Looks and first impressions are deceiving for the power lies in the aromatic complexity, garden and wild field floral plus a gastronomy that incites memories but also machinations of the great demi-glacés imaginable, The fruit pectin and sweet cerebral enhancements are at the top of this portfolio so if others were seductive and enticing this Chambertin is off the charts. Seamless, endless and utterly fine. Structure just at the precipice of pinot noir. Drink 2023-2036.Tasted November 2019
Wholly antithetical to the 2018 with much more Bourgogne, Duband and Charmes fruit in the delicate vein of great and sheer transparency. This takes an organza line along a finely threaded and woven seam. There can be no mistaking the understatement of the vintage and while it may not strike an arrow into the hearts of the deducted and seduced there can be no mistake found here. This is the pinnacle of this appellation in fine dress and perfectly classic vernacular. Drink 2022-2034.Tasted November 2019
Julien Cruchandeau and his Pinot Noir
The estate was established in 2003 by Julien Cruchandeau and his first vines were purchased in Bouzeron. In 2007 expansion saw to the buying of a house in the village of Chaux, located in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits, with large cellars and an extensive vat room. In 2009 and 2010 investment helped to establish an agricultural land group (GFA) “Aux Saint Jacques,” thus extending the estate from Nuit-Saint-Georges to Savigny-les-Beaune. Julien grows chardonnay, pinot noir and some pinot blanc in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits, with four and a half hectares in the appellation that includes two parcels in the Villa Fontaine, a.k.a the mini Corton. Red parcels are Les Cabottes and Les Valançons, the latter being one you can see straight from the tasting room window at the estate of David Duband. Whites are made from Bourgogne Aligoté, Bouzeron and Puligny-Montrachet. In addition to the Hautes Côtes de Nuits other reds produced are from Savigny-Les-Beaune, Ladoix and Nuits-Saint-Georges.
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From four and a half hectares in the appellation, including two parcels in the Villa Fontaine, a.k.a the mini Corton. Villa Fontaine plus if you will. It’s a top essence soliciting exposition that makes for a great floral chardonnay and one of pretty impressive finesse. Takes care of the vintage with great care and no ambition to overdue or over-exaggerate. Wood is in the background and at the finish, spices are very far eastern. Reminds of Indonesian sasak fruit as only a few chardonnay can and do. Different and exotic stuff. Drink 2019-2022.Tasted November 2019
Very close to Meursault in every way and the smoulder is so very Puligny, as it should be with Julien’s exotic twist and turn of the storied fruit. A parcel like this does not come along every day so the coup is in Julien’s hands and the wine celebrates the possibilities. Takes your breath away for a fleeting moment but stays with you for minutes. Just 900 bottles were made and there are notes of toasted kernel or nut plus a recently extinguished candle. The suggestion says that the future may hold out for the possibility of a touch of honey. Drink 2021-2027.Tasted November 2019
You can see Les Valançons straight from the tasting room window at the estate of David Duband. Here you find one of Bourgogne’s great terroirs deemed a satellite and not considered worthy of others fetching 10 times the price. Thirty to 40 year-old vines equate to exquisite south facing slope fruit to this glass and the mineral streak running through violets is just what you want and what you can drink for 10 plus years. Pay attention to the threefold relationship between Haut-Côtes de Nuits, Cruchandeau and Valançons. Superb. Drink 2021-2030.Tasted November 2019
Th Climat is next to Vosne-Romanée at the northern limit of Nuits-Saint-Georges and clearly raised on great promises. Julien has taken the exceptional ripenesses of the vintage and turned those promises into possibilities with pinot noir that effects juicy behaviour without maximum effort. And so probable is quickly becoming a reality. Very primary however and almost like it’s still in barrel. Just has that feel, like it’s not finished yet, still working, just a child. Speaks to the structure and what the future more than very likely holds. Just need the wood to begin a settling for the next phase to begin. Welcome to modern Bourgogne with one foot always entrenched in the past. Drink 2021-2029.Tasted November 2019
Nebbiolo Prima is a wine tasting and immersive concern of impossible equal. The twenty-fourth edition took place in Alba during the latter stages of January 2020, the last innocent period of Piemonte’s recent history and the memories ingrained will last a lifetime. How retrospectively insignificant were the stressors incurred through tasting 300 wines blind over three days plus hundreds more with producers at lunches, dinners and visits? How happy, carefree and miles from non-plussed were the journalists, sommeliers and their Albeisa hosts during a week of connectivity and shared motivations? Less than one month later everything had changed.
Marina Marcarino introduces Nebbiolo Prima 2020
Tutto arriva al momento stabilito, “everything comes at its appointed time.” War, peace, pandemic, recovery. Piemonte has been particularly compromised by COVID-19 and it just seems so unfair but the Piedmontese back down from nothing and move ahead no matter the obstacles. The work ethic never tires, nor do fruit and tannin. There are a thousand wine producers who raised estates out of post-war, mezzadrie ashes to put Barbaresco, Roero and Barolo at the forefront of Italian wine. This generation will do the same beginning in 2020. Piemonte does just about everything well and for so many tangible reasons, everything right. The clash of cultures, detailed attention to seductive and gratifying food particularities and impossible to resist, covetable wines from Langhe and Roero origins add up to one of Italy’s finest destinations. Eating and drinking in Piemonte is one of life’s greatest treats and I’ve not yet even mentioned the word nebbiolo. Life and winemaking are all about the pauses, where art resides in the elusive calm between Barbaresco fruit and tannin.
It had been a most incredible Nebbiolo Prima 2020 week with gratitude and love to the guidance and effort of the the Albeisa organization’s President, Domaine Punset’s Marina Marcarino. Always the first to pioneer, lead, teach and share, Marcarino expressed the pride and the passion of the community of producers that worked tirelessly to create this formidable assembly. Albeisa’s goal is not singularly focused. This event is not simply a matter dedicated to the tasting of wine. Agricultural evolution and wine-producing innovation are a major focus, always with a socio-economic bearing kept in mind. Albeisa’s deans pointed out that there has been a steady decline of the de-classification of grapes and for Barbaresco that has meant a drop from 46 to 23 per cent of bottlers at harvest moving from Barbaresco DOCG and into Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.
Most fascinating was a climate change talk titled I Cambiamenti Climatici NEI Media, given by Mauro Buonocore, head of the Communication and Media Office at CMCC Foundation – Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change. Buonocore began with a challenge to journalists, to report truths, based on science. “Why are journalists and the public interested in such complex scientific problems?’ he asks. This is Mauro’s question, his purpose for studying the subject. “Attention paid to climate change makes sense if we do so in relation to socio-economic systems.” He then wants to know “what is the cost for business in a world in which temperature is changing and extreme events like heavy rains and heat waves taking place?”
The study by Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici presents as a focal point for Italy, to “get out of the green ghetto,” insists Buonocore. “Hugging trees is not the only answer.” The starting point is science because science is informative. “It’s a democratic community.” IDCC creates reports by 300 authors, in 20,000 studies, with 100,000 comments. It’s more than enough to satisfy the most skeptical journalist. It’s also a consistently framed initiative that resides at a global level.
Mauro Buonocore, CMCC
The foundation’s most recent investigations are heavily reporting about extreme weather, a.k.a the new global warming. Climate action is now responsive and mobilizing to act in response to the natural disasters but also losses in biodiversity. Human made environmental tragedies are the single largest crises faced today and more than ever there is a need for collaboration between journalists and scientists. Un”alleanza necessaria, driving scientific research into journalists’ hands, to report on forests, environment and climate change. Wine journalists. The road goes both ways, recoprocherisorese, not a one-man band. The intrigue of this study takes journalists and in turn the public away from the idea about what can be done to combat and make adjustments for climate change to a realm defined by placing trust in scientists and scientific thought. A blind trust perhaps but this is the request.
What to make of Barbaresco DOCG 2017
In subsequent articles I will get to what Barolo and Roero have reached in their recent contributions to nebbiolo but today we begin with Barbaresco. Nearly 60 examples of Barbaresco DOCG 2017 were presented, along with 15 Riserva 2015 and a further dozen or so retrospective 2007s. Communes of origin (Alba, Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso) were joined by Cru examples (Montersino, Rocche Massalupo, Asili, Ovello, Pora, Rabaja’, Rio Sordo, Roccalini, Roncaglie, Ronchi, Montaribaldi, Albesani, Basarin, Canova, Cotta’, Gaia-Principe, Gallina, San Cristoforo, San Guiliano, Bricco San Giuliano, Santo Stefano, Senadaive, Serraboella, Serragrilli, Sorì Paitin Serraboella, Starderi, Bricco di Treiso, Casot, Giacone, Marcarini, Meruzzano, Nervo, Nubiola, Pajore’, Rombone, Valeirano and Vallegrande).
Tasting at #nebbioloprima2020 with the Morris, side by each ~ Day one, 120 in
These odd, curious and at times inspiring 2017s are littered with examples that speak to great variability, lined with pockets of hot and bothered micro-climates but also cool spots in spite of the prevailing terms of the vintage. These Barbaresco are wines of patent freedom and some imbibers may think they want in but may not be equipped to handle the liberties they provide. Still others will unite over the untied and untucked nature of the lot. The highlights are nominally noted by nebbiolo quietude that act as breaths of fresh 2017 air. The Riserva of 2015 are at their best when the spice cupboard is wide open for nebbiolo to act aromatically gregarious, volatile and yet unsettled. The best of 2015 have yet to peek out of the open windows.
The task of tasting 360 nebbiolo blind or not in four days would be unthinkable without the guidance and assistance of a professional Sommelier. What is a Sommelier? A Sommelier is completely invisible, yet always in sight. A Sommelier remembers what wine tasters hate. A Sommelier anticipates the taster’s needs before the needs are needed. A Sommelier is, above all, discreet to a fault. In total here are 92 reviews for Barbaresco nebbiolo tasted in Alba, January 2020.
Sweet and saline Treiso nebbiolo, light and bright, lemon to orange. Quit and confident, the silent type that allows its actions to speak louder than its words. Good tang in its textural step and fine tannins will lead to mid-term aging exceptionality. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Plays hard to get from the outset though there’s a prettiness to the lightness of this nebbiolo’s being. Can be tough when it needs to be and so there is potential here. Will need to wait and see just what becomes of this light, underestimated and yet understood Barbaresco. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2020
Candied exterior in that the fruit scents are like flowers dipped into a sweetly perfumed liquid that permeates and infiltrated so that everything comes up roses. The palate then dries out a bit so that fruit succumbs to the tannins in the wine. Neive traditional and so plausible. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Tannic and intense. Decent fruit more or less speaks to varietal obviousness and basic understanding. There’s a comfort level in the rustic charm of the tradition found inherent and fomenting in this Montersino nebbiolo. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Once again a menthol note permeates but here from Ronchi in Barbaresco it is met with notable citrus, namely pomegranate, deep blood orange and also a real cherry-ness. Also very spiced, cinnamon and nutmeg, plus a variegation that comes across as much textural as it had aromatic. A serious wine of great integration and potential more than anything as a quotient of its fineness and deep-rooted complexity. Drink 2024-2037. Tasted January 2020
Ripe and syrupy nebbiolo, simpler than many or even most with fine-grained though negligible tannin. A bit of disconnect between the fruit and the finish, namely because the acidity is not a catalyst or a matchmaker in the Montersino equation. Drink 2021-2023. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
No cru designate mention (but referred to as Tettineive, “at the head of,” or above the village) and the Neive ubiquity is noted in the swarthy and swarming aromas that speak foremost about ripe fruit. It’s so very raspberry and not so very tannic though the acids are developed and encompassing. Not so complex but a great dinner date companion for the next few years. Drink 2021-2024. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Quite bright and very citrus, light blood orange meeting green tannins. Seems like a very cool spot in spite of the ’17 Neive vintage. A tonic injection and a botanical feel make for a unique take on nebbiolo from Gallina. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Very cherry, very glycerin and also light on its aromatic feet. The scents are spiced and varietally obvious as Neive nebbiolo with a sweetness that speaks to the land. Good structure, even sweeter tannins and very apparent that the barrel is a major part of the game. Needs time and also tells us that if you like sweetness from wood then you should clearly stick around. Drink 2022-2027. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Now we are onto and into something other, ulterior, extraordinary even. The berry and cherry scents are ripe, effusive and frank. The subtleties speak to the knowledge and the knowing. There’s a restraint and a consummate professionalism in such a Treiso Barbaresco but also an accumulation spurred by precision. The real deal, needing no swagger to solicit no adulation. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted January 2020
Gran Bollito alla Piemontese, Ristorante Luna, Sinio
If ever a Barbaresco nebbiolo carried an uncanny aroma that is purely reminiscent of liquorice than this would be the one. Fruit quality is impressive and structure supports with a proper frame,. Nothing overtly complex here but overall the game is played quite well. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Sweet meets savoury for fruit that needs little introduction. So bloody nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Treiso and seemingly, clearly, obviously Vallegrande. Ripe and grippy tannins take control so maybe try and avoid needing to spend too much time here over the next five years. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
A clear and concise look at Treiso nebbiolo from Barbaresco with tart currant, pomegranate and cherry fruit, tang in pocket and a lovely liquidity. This is the textural one of clarity and precision. Clearly textural, structured and fine. Not overtly tannic and so far from intrusive in terms of what the barrel wants to say. Drink this everyday and for no particular reason. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted January 2020
You can tell straight off the top that this Barbaresco-Asili nebbiolo is not begging for attention, nor does it care if you get it or not. The fruit wades and treads easily, comfortable, without any real tension. The acids are delicate and fine, real and necessary. The tannins repeat the yoga mantra. This is a sneaky one, seemingly light and uninterested but time will see flesh, bone and serious intention come to the surface and swim with strength deep into the distance. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted January 2020
A deep inhalant of hillside brush, red citrus and well-ripened fruit are the three-part harmony sung by this Barbaresco. Simplifies a bit once you realize the heavy bass played by the wood takes over and commands a sweetness but also a simplicity in the structural line. Still there is a quality that just aches with the singsong verse of Rabaja’. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Lovely and complex nebbiolo aromatic profile with crisp bites and red fruit drawn off the right kind of soils for all to take part. One part kind fruit, one part energy building and one part lengthening structure. Adds up to quality Barbaresco and accessibility. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Impressive from go with high-toned, pectin-developed and transparent, glycerin fruit. Really fine lines, bones and structurally sound encroachment into the tough areas only such Barbaresco nebbioli can go. Serious Ovello wine with a long life ahead. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted January 2020
Fruit is sweet and properly ripened, a touch herbal and tannins take quick stage to cover and draw the curtains. Chewy in a liquorice way and drying though tradition runs like blood through the structure. Solid Neive Barbaresco. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Wildly earthy and aromatic Neive nebbiolo from Serragrilli, a touch overdrawn but still sitting on that ledge. Smells like a scorch of sorts and a light char on wild game. Also brings the hematic aromas that only fresh meat, toasty wood and blood orange can gift. Complex specimen here if just a touch ripe into the beyond. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Sweet scented aromas and a chewy textural aspect make this Barbaresco nebbiolo one of the more impressively expressionistic examples. The substance in grain and disposition are clearly developed and designed to create a gregarious and exhibitionist example. So much Rabajà proposition, supposition and expectation await. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted January 2020
Unusually scented Treiso Barbaresco, almost like baking biscuits mingling with cured meats. Quite chalky tannic and earth crusted too. Very nebbiolo, high strung and extended perhaps beyond means but there will be a sweet spot somewhere out there in the mid ages. Drink 2022-2026. Tasted January 2020
Another about face for nebbiolo twists and turns within the variability and variegation found in the Neive Barbaresco from Gallina. Tartness, tang, tannin and even a moment’s tumult make this curious, foreboding and so very interesting. Watch to see where this one goes. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Darker, bloodier and richer than some but also as compared to brethren within the cru. Vallegrande is quite expressive Treiso Barbaresco though this example is clearly driven by the barrel. Vanilla in droves, chocolate not too far behind and tannins thick as thieves. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Intensely reductive and closed, even for Neive nebbiolo. There too is a pine resinous note and some charred meeting preserved citrus. Curious and yet to open up its charms. Drink 2022-2026. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
The mix of cured meats, wood smoke, spice and wet concrete make for a Treiso nebbiolo with so much bloody character that keeps changing with every nose put into the glass. Brings blood orange and bresaola to the mix. What a potpourri, what a design and what a complication. That all said the tannins are not so firm and not so demanding, More wood and texture than anything else. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
A touch past ripe and syrupy though with complex aromatic notes, namely preserved citrus and gingered chocolate. A gastronomic Treiso Barbaresco in a dessert course kind of vein with notable cask sweetness, spice and strength. Very modern and ambitious. Drink 2022-2026. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
A bit past the centre line for ’17 Treiso ripeness and evergreen amplitude. Also an earthy note, albeit a sweet one that mingles with fruit and tang. Lots of wood, texture and grip. Very chewy and will develop some fun funghi and umami secondary character. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Quite a mentholated sauce and scented nebbiolo, not unlike the Barbaresco of Pora though Roccalini also delivers a multitude of red fruit. It’s berry, plum and citrus all rolled into one. There too is a note that seems uncanny but you can’t quite put your aromatic sensors on it. Chalk it up to memory that will come back one day. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Extremely high-toned Montersino nebbiolo with a decidedly vinyl shower curtain note. Also some fennel, mountain tea and sweet herbal aspect. Funny wine with a hard candied shell. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted January 2020
Curious one this nebbiolo, at once a rich and ripe ’17 and on the other hand tight, taut and closed. Somewhat pine verdant and cool with a graphite note. Crunchy acids and plenty of texture make this one gregarious, full and ambitious. Tannins follow suit with grip and energy. Yes, the drive and the energy her are the thing. And the potential. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Extreme ripeness and developed cherry fruit that ultimately means simple and straightforward juice. A bit meaty and chewy in a cheaper cut, a bit too quick braised way. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Perfume is off the charts in a Barbaresco nebbiolo that clearly speaks for the land from whence it has come. Fruit quality is ripe, sweet and developed while acids are just as important as tannin for a cru Barbaresco of style and no real overt need to go decades for best pleasure. The results are now and for 10 years max. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted January 2020
Wow the mentholated and graphite noted aromatics are off the charts in this singular Barbaresco. Also tobacco and a fine liquidity that runs through like one substance suspended within another. Should be interesting to see when the two will emulsify and get together as one. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted January 2020
Ostensibly what you’d imagine Treiso Barbaresco to nose without a cru mention and in a wholly modern way. Sweet spice, cured meat and vanilla. Big wine with lots of texture. Drink 2022-2027. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Very right, credible and proper Treiso nebbiolo from Casot here with all the constituent parts in line, one following another and no gaps to speak of. There’s a salve texture that you already knew was coming because the aromas told you so. The texture carries forth with admirable consistency and the elasticity of this Barberesco is right there behind, in support and with en eye towards the eventual conclusion. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted January 2020
Deeper and more developed for Neive-Gallina and surely from a warm and sunny exposition to take full advantage of the vintage. A bit lean on the other hand and also a touch verdant. This one will travels to all four corners of nebbiolo earth. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
Earthy and reductive with the forest and the barn’s floor all over the Treiso aromatic room. Plenty of wood and where this excels is in its cool, silky and pleasurable texture. Needs time, of course it needs time. Success depends, well of course it depends. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
Almost negligible in so many ways in that it’s so very hard to get. That said the quietude is a breath of 2017 Neive air because no intrusions have been allowed to get through, neither red, green, overt or unwanted. A simply rendered nebbiolo can be your friend and here the structure is likely sneakier than first, second and third time around imagined. Charming wine from Serraboella. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Quite blood orange, hematic and even ferric nebbiolo form the odd, curious and at times inspiring Neive 2017s. Textural on the outside and linear and lean on the inside, even this example owes to its very own variability. Tannins are a bit grippy and energy comes back and forth, in and out of time and waves. Drink 2021-20327. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Developed in many ways, not the least of which is fruit in syrup and dried fruit character. Turns lean and uninteresting with a cool mint and graphite quality on the back end. Drink 2020-2022. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
A traditionally accumulated, developed and rendered Treiso nebbiolo to be frank with generous big barrel character and silken ripe 2017 fruit. Big bones and full texture make for a mouthful and one that will take years to find its classic stride. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted January 2020
Nervo is south facing on famous Treiso blue clay. Just a lovely nose here, sweet scenting, floral and savour-candied. Just a touch of so many things; herbs, creosote, pine, cedar and scorched earth. Vanilla, chocolate and spice. Gone for it all. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted January 2020
Light to developing in aromas and textures with variegations. Crunchy and chewy at the same time, with a taste profile that encompasses the liquorice, earth and wood spice profile. Lots going on here from San Cristoforo in Neive but in the present not overtly complex. Probably best to wait a year or two ands then drink young. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Wound tight, taut and far from ready to unravel there are layers upon layers of structure in this ’17 Roncaglie-Barbaresco. Crunchy and crusted you will have to exercise great patience before even thinking you can see the light or feel the gentle pull in the elasticity of this wine. Take it slow, take your time and let it flow. Drink 2024-2032. Tasted January 2020
Pretty and effusive Barbaresco nebbiolo with notable tannic structure. Quite a mouthful of barrel-influenced spice and tannin. The length is impressive so there is no doubt that this will go far. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Again this is Pajore’ in its basked light of delicacy, ripe and rising. Understated and yet so cumulative of fruit, acidity and fine tannin. In fact the tannins accumulate with great numbers and in even greater force. This will outlive many of us to die another day. Tour de force is what nebbiolo can be albeit with Treiso subtlety and drive. Drink 2023-2034. Tasted January 2020
There’s an almost appassimento note to this strange and unusual Neive nebbiolo and also an over-developed fruit feel. Like roll-up, very strawberry and quite overripe. So simple as a result and mired in a pectin-glycerin way. Drink 2020–2021. Tasted January 2020
Takes a walk along a wire that supports both a lightness of being as well as some high-tonality to the point of volatility. There is an old-school Barbaresco quality to be sure and a traditional waft that is both obvious and comforting. Clean enough to eat off of though you also knows where its been. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted January 2020
One of only two Cru Neive Barbaresco made by the family in 2017 because of hail that rained down on Basarin the 25th of April. Lower production on one hand, indelible mark of concentration and focus on the other. Elegant, lightly lifted and breezy with that density of fruit laying low, stowed safely and securely away to rise only as necessary, as the tannins melt, spread out and dissipate. Accented with chromatic prejudice as only a Sottimano nebbiolo will, xanthous, cinnabar, maroon, together imagined as spices that feed the flavours. Liquid berries, cool, fine and finessed. Does Barbaresco get more honest than this? A true window into a cru and snapshot of a vintage. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted January 2020
Very ripe and organized, developed and heading forward with great haste. Acids are brighter than some so there is light streaking through the Neive vintage darkness. Another example that speaks to the great variability in 2017. Drink 2020-2024. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Dark and developed nebbiolo fruit with some serious grip in its tannic step. The wood is a major factor early on and the stuffing is surely there. Needs a few years easy to let things settle and to allow full or even partial integration. Great potential from Rocche Massalupo. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted January 2020
Unusually restrained for a Neive nebbiolo of clear complexity and might. The substantial fruit texture and mineral-alloy impression cannot be ignored, nor can the exquisiteness of the elasticity be denied. So much acumen, passion and planning are clearly meant to make many requests, most notable the one that asks for patience before judgement and ultimately joy plus pleasure accumulated in the decades long exercise. Drink 2023-2035. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Basarin in the newest Cru for Sottimano, established in 2014 though the vines are already between 45-50 years old. Released just at the start of 2020 and already displaying a prominence in aromatics that speak to this exceptional nook just below Neive. From a vintage blessed for its place in history matched by a requiem for a dream. Crunchy for nebbiolo surely caused by the policy of classically long Piedmontese maceration, drawing fruit with gentle impunity and long-grained tannins in thrushes and intermingling chains. Pure dark fruit (almost raspberry) and a generous application of wood varnish. Architecture, length and character, all together. Drink 2022-2037. Tasted January 2020
Comes from one vineyard at the top part of the hill, Gaia Principe it’s called, one of four that make Barbaresco in the MGA (menzioni geografiche aggiuntive). Quick maceration, only seven days, not very Piedmontese and because the house tradition is to make wines to drink and drink now. A very fresh nebbiolo, sweetly perfumed, clear, pure and precise. Drink this most days. No good reason not to. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2020
All about aromatics for this Neive nebbiolo. Candied meets spiced, like a cinnamon lozenge, soothing and yet peppery. Not the most structured affair and thins out as the hard shell cracks, softens, melts and disappears. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
A bit linear and herbal though there’s some substance hiding in the Barbaresco reeds. Quite closed and yet to open for the world to know and perhaps understand. Seems to shed some light with time in the glass before structure creeps in and up. Definitely wait and return. Better times lay ahead. The transparent and confident fruit will emerge. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2020
Now here is a Barbaresco Riserva for an overall consumer platform with ubiquity and pleasure across all fronts. Mildly fruity and with acids meeting tannins that mimic a concept of the same, Unquestionably Neive nebbiolo and without making any demands. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Aromatically gregarious, volatile and yet unsettled in what is still an unfinished state. So much acidity and wood without respite. Can surely be imagined as the sort of Barbaresco nebbiolo that will suddenly transform and morph into something completely other, brilliant, ethereal even. Drink 2022-2028. Barrel Sample tasted January 2020
Here’s a taut, tightly wound and spice-filled aromatic nebbiolo with a soil’s firm intention in solicitation of a wine’s structural intuition. Serious Barbaresco here with bones and elastic flesh. Let it ride. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted January 2020
A cool and almost minty Neive nebbiolo that lies in the nether between transparent and glycerin. Far from reduced or reductive and yet not overly oxidative either, Very middle of the road. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Not merely ripe but nearly over the top, the edge and the precipice towards a falling down the other side. Tries hard and ultimately fattens, flattens into soft tones and sits out of balance. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
Clear and marked upscale notes give this Treiso nebbiolo a true blue Barbaresco feel that can only lead to sensation. Very cherry and great in its soul connection to the way the wine slides gracefully into its structural components. A bit over-heated on the back end with a plethora of wood spice and mild char but it finds its way back to the cool tempered wine it wants and needs to be. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
A ripe Nervo nebbiolo from Treiso on the darker, nearly black cherry spectrum with a clear directive from pressing through extraction and into barrel. Flavours are cough candy and tonic. Really quite botanical in the end. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted January 2020
Closed in aromatic terms though a sweet-scented baking spices resides in mild fade where the middle meets the background. Cool and taut, not yet ready to play or offer pleasure. Will do so when time gets under its belt. Not an overtly generous 2015 Barbaresco from Neive but clearly a serious one. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted January 2020
Quality through really earthy fruit that reflects a feeling of beetroot in a chalky tannic Barbaresco nebbiolo. Quite crusted, nearly crusty and some bitters mark the finish. Dry and tannic. Young but the fruit will need to work hard in order to stand the test and onslaught of time. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted January 2020
Wildly aromatic of wild strawberry and sweet bitters liqueur. Highly glycerin and textural with grippy and elastic stretched tannins. A huge Neive Barbaresco with time definitely secure on its side. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
This nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Riserva category goes for broke, pressed to find the fulsome glycerin that is entirely vintage possible. Extracted in tow are volatile and woolly characters with the present tense ability to infiltrate and distract. Time will act as catalyst to link the moving parts and give Neive life to what is at current a dry and tannic finish. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted January 2020
The sense of place is clearly in with a jig of fruit that whispers Martinenga in Barbaresco. Wears a fine-knitted woolly cap and wraps up red fruit in a fine tannic sweater. Well-delineated from a generous vintage with the sort of bone structure and taut flesh that will withstand and bask in comfort through many cold winters. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
Masseria’s Alessandro Giordano and Gurvinder Bhatia
From the brothers Giordano, Stefano and Alessandro in San Rocco frazione and only 8,000 bottles produced. Spent 12-18 months in (30 per cent new) barriques and grandi botti. Almost oily rich, certainly luxurious with the blood orange notation. Nicely balanced, thoughtfully pressed and a joy to drink. Proper tannins speak for the site which makes this nebbiolo a representative of place and the youthful presence of its then 10 year-old vines. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Vigneto Nervo is south facing on blue clay in Treiso and here 11 years on this is no longer tense and nervous as it surely once was. Still nervy to be sure and from a big vintage. Generous red fruit with more than many shakes of spice and an almost dried balsamic wooden note. Wholly unique aromatic profile. Must be the compact blue clay we’re smelling. The silky palate texture tells us we’re right in the window. Last tasted at Ristorante Luna in Sinio, January 2020
A tight, saliva-sucking, bone dry, ossified, ferric Nebbiolo. Just two sips and my tongue and gums feel like a lorry has run over them. That and the crimson smell of climbing roses. Classic really. Tasted September 2013
At 13 this Sendaive nebbiolo out of Alba has put in the work and the time, now quiet and rested. Must have been a raging one in its day because the residual volatility is present albeit rendered and flaccid now. Now all chocolate and vanilla so in other words, wood. Drink 2020. Tasted January 2020
Quite advanced Rabajà having taken all the steps necessary to travel through the portal into tertiary character. The secondary Barbaresco stage is but a faint glimmer in the rear-view mirror. It’s all milk chocolate wafers and milk now. The late bites are wood spice, not acidity. Drink 2020. Tasted January 2020
The fruit has vacated the Neive premises leaving wood, alcohol and mineral smells to keep the nebbiolo faith alive. Was and persists as an earthy soul with old-school and big barrel ideals in all its former glory. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
Advanced and chocolate-filled, red fruit still juicy and thriving, acidity too. Tannins mostly resolved but still holding the fort. Solid Rabajà 2007 from Barbaresco to be sure. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Amazingly characterful Neive-Sorì Paitin Serraboella nebbiolo, with a pronounced note of Brettanomyces mixing with the dried fruit and mineral salts. Would peg it for older than 2007 aromatically speaking but palate wise it still crackles and pulses with life. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Quite the quiet, soft and sultry nebbiolo with fruit very much intact. This is a warm 2007 that did not get under the covers and saw a Bricco San Giuliano stay away from overheating. Plenty of chocolate here and lots of life left to live and give. The Neive Pelissero heyday incarnate for Barbaresco and 2007. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Nubiola out of Treiso is showing some age here with acids still raging and a candied sweetness to the aromas. Not nearly as expressive on the palate but when you think about the vintage and the age it still shines with as much happiness as you’d hope it would. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted January 2020
Colla’s 2007 Roncaglie saw a great compliment of wood, that much can be true in a 12.5 year later assessment. The fruit and the thrill are gone with the barrel and the cool savour stringing it out. Quite easy, amenable and one of the better food Barbaresco nebbiolo in this 2007 retrospective. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice. Drink 2020-2021. Tasted January 2020
A wee hint of mephitic reduction is maintained in this earthy, salt of the land nebbiolo from the great Barbaresco cooperative. Still showing its tannic teeth and elevating fruit up along with the high-toned character. The finish is like a Piedmontese chocolate and hazelnut torte. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted January 2020
Wildly aromatic, in a terrific window to check out the progress and clearly a top cru for nebbioplo from Neive in 2007. Which tells us Basarin is always a top cru. All have come to play and join the serious fun; fruit, nuts, wild shrubs and herbs, but also things toasted, charred, roasted and seared. All the while keeping a coolness and a winter savoury character to match the natural and honest personality it just feels so comfortable in display. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted January 2020
Pajoré from Rizzi is youthful to bely the 12 and a half years it has spent in its vessels. The notes of cherry are joined by a pinot noir like cola in Treiso nebbiolo clothing. Acids are still string and in charge while tannins are the ones to have softened. Spectacular look back in retrospection that I would wish upon everyone to have and enjoy. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted January 2020
Pretty much what you might and want to expect from 2007 Barbaresco tasted in 2020. High-toned, fruit a mix of fresh and dry, acids in total control. Impressive Roncaglie that leaves a lasting impression. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Highly complex Neive Barbaresco from Marina Marcarino’s Campo Quadro with age fully engaged but also on its side. The tones, bones and fleshy substance all show off their balance and their agility. Wise? Sure. Fortuitous? Maybe. Proper? Exactly. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted January 2020
A bit of a demurred Barbaresco here from Camp Gros and yet the fruit has surely lasted without too much stress or effort. Crunchy and a touch earthy, quite floral and really elegant. Lovely at 14 years-old. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
The Barque Smokehouse Restaurant Relief Case is a mixed 12-pack of wines curated by Chef/Owner David Neinstein and Wine Director Michael Godel. The wines are representative of local and international producers that have been a part of the Barque family of wines during the restaurant’s nine years in existence. The choices for the mixed case are thanks to four outstanding Ontario wine agents who have consistently been some of the restaurant’s most loyal and supportive partners.
The collective challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many hard choices and put great demands on both the physical and mental health and well-being of so many in the hospitality industry. The Barque team is not immune to such adversity and that is why there is great need plus the will to pitch in and help. Part of the proceeds from the sales of these cases will go towards helping The Restaurant Relief Fund as well as much needed financial support for Smokehouse staff currently isolating at home.
Three wines each from Noble Estates Wines and Spirits, Nicholas Pearce Wines, Brand New Day Wines and Spirits and Le Sommelier Wine Agency make up the case. You will receive one sparkling wine, one Rosé, three whites and seven reds, along with a complimentary signature Barque rub.
The final case price will be $275/case plus delivery. Delivery fees are estimated at $17 in Ontario (shipping locations, fees & COVID-19 update). Delivery is expected in late May 2020. The $275 price includes all taxes and our $20 procurement, admin, storage & handling fee.
Réva’s is a remarkable Monforte d’Alba property nestled within an ideally situated Langhe amphitheatre, “at the limit of Barolo,” abutting the ridge that separates the potentate appellation’s southern border from Dogliani. Vines of dolcetto, barbera and nebbiolo rest, roost and rule the south-facing hill and a nine-hole links style golf course lays out east to west through the valley. Wooded havens hide deer and wild boar, birds of many ilk fill the naked skies, playgrounds long for children’s playful squeals while Restaurant FRE and its first Michelin Star in 2020 await the return of guests. A Piedmontese farm holiday stay such as this is quietude incarnate, unique, secluded and serene. Wines were made here at one time but growth and ambition make requiem for expansion. A new facility takes shape. Moving north again, at the foot of and below the village of La Morra we come to the cellar in Gallinotto where the wines are now in production. From agriturismo to cantina, Réva the hand as if by magic.
Nebbiolo and Dolcetto at Réva
Réva is a fascinating study of collaboration between five erudite men: Miroslav, Gianluca, Gabriele, Francesco and Daniele. Miro Lekes, owner, native of the Czech Republic and who’s first commercial vintage was 2012. Gianluca Colombo, oenologist, joined in 2010 after working 10 years for the Cordero consultancy in and out of 10-20 estates. Daniele Gaia worked at Elvio Cogno for seven years, leaving in 2016 to join the Réva experience. “If you want to be a protagonist in this world you need to find some space,” insists Gaia and so when he met with Miro and saw the vision for a 10+ year plan he knew his space had been found. Gabriele Adriano is winemaker, Tecnico Presso, formerly with Vajra in Vergne, just up the hill from Barolo. Gabriele joined just ahead of the 2017 harvest. “He’s very precise,” notes Daniele, “Gianluca is the creative one.” Francesco Spadaro joined in September 2018, coming from Viberti and at Réva deals with private customers and orders. “He is the commercial guy.”
We’re on the road to Réva
Farming practices are organic and not just for the vineyards, but also including the golf course and the wine relais grounds. “You don’t drink the certification,” quips Daniele, “you drink the wine.” Growth is quick and to the point because “there are five men working on the same wine. That’s the secret.” Total production at Réva is 65,000 bottles, the current maximum goal. Up to and at times above 10,000 each of dolcetto, nebbiolo, barbera, whites and the classico Barolo are the workhorses for 85-90 per cent of production. The cru Baroli from Ravera, Cannubi and Lazzarito make up the remainder.
Daniele Gaia, on the phone, making deals
“For sure Réva is a unique place in the Barolo area” tells Daniele. I spent a glorious January day with hime at the two properties near Monforte d’Alba. You need to begin tasting the ’16s, ’17s and ’18s because the ’19s in barrel will blow the roof off of the Langhe. Our third stop was for lunch in Alba at ventuno.1 under the culinary auspices of Chefs Alfonso Russo and Francesco Ferrara.
Godello, Chef Francesco Ferrara and Daniele Gaia at ventuno.1 , Alba
Know this. Réva’s are modern, 21st century wines with tremendous new Piemonte drinker’s appeal. They are also seductive to informed and discerning sommeliers because of an innate connection to the past. The notions that arise and astonish us are not because they are new, but because they are the sort that have been so long neglected and overlooked. The nebbiolo in particular are rooted in time tested pragmatism, decades, if not centuries old. They will stand the test, of longevity and time. These are the six wines we tasted.
Taken from San Sebastiano area, vines 15-20 years old in Monforte d’Alba. “We have a special view of the nebbiolo,” tells Daniele Gaia. “In our point of view it has to show the character of the grape, flowers, drinkability and approachable, not a baby Barolo.” And so Réva attacks with a gentle touch, a short and cold maceration to secure nebbiolo kept in a “light” vein, with evident acidity. Carries the youthful “splendore” of beautiful red fruit. A precociousness unhindered, on hinges, in ultra comfortable balance. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Another highly seasoned nebbiolo of rather dark red fruit and barrel piques that create spikes and valleys in the wine. Hangs on with enough energy to see the acidity match the fruit stride for stride. There’s a sense of structure to see this ’16 last for a decade strong and long. Drinking window will open shortly so the temptation will be to imbibe often and early, thereby fertilizing the narcotic poppy of drinking pleasure. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted January 2020
So bright, so thoughtful and so generous. Ravera is the sneaky structured Réva Barolo, of a winemaker’s work that totes the freight of genius. Ravera is wanting nothing from you but gives you everything. A melting pot of Piedmontese nebbiolo, at ease and persistently resurgent. Drink 2021-2033. Tasted January 2020
Réva’s Cannubi is based or is the extension of an idea, initialized in 2012, to have three different expressions in Barolo. The search is for elegance of La Morra or Barolo and the structure of Serralunga or Monforte. The third is a combination and that is found in Ravera. The Cannubi plot was owned by Fratelli Barale, a Cannubi di Cannubi right next to the cemetery of Barolo. It’s still a rented property and will be owned at the end of a 10 year contract. Pure Barolo, close your eyes and this is recognizable as the dictionary entry. Hue as in deep depths of pure red with a streak of light. Palate of acidity and fine tannins with length. Rich without being too strong. Not closed, does not attack your mouth and yet there is grip to keep it moving forward. Really fine tannins and fruitful pleasure. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted January 2020
The single-vineyard cru Lazzarito is added in 2016 and it is Daniele Gaia’s first harvest at Réva. Drive the best car and drive it right away. “This is the best wine Réva has never made,“ says Gaia with great irony mixed into humility. Tasted from low temperatures (22-24 degrees) in tank there was fear of Lazzarito’s tannins. Here above Serralunga a long strip on the top of the eastern side of the hill gives a marl-calcaire meets sandy soil and so the best of both structural worlds; freshness (also from high pH) and grip. Yes it’s silly young and impressionable but already handsome, unadorned and fruit so crunchy, yet also sapid, a pinch salty and the impression of acidity is a freshness with thanks to that elevated pH. A sample but already in bottle and will be released in two years. Drink 2024-2036. Tasted January 2020
The only current Brachetto listing in Ontario’s LCBO is Viticoltori Acquesi Brachetto d’Acqui. A classic and ideal example to be sure but one listing? One choice? One wine from 1200 hectares of brachetto farmed for the sole purpose to make people happy, to encourage enjoyment of life, to fulfill wishes and dreams of seeking and redeeming simple pleasures? What an utter travesty. Time to fix this now.
Pink 75? Cocktails with Brachetto d’Acqui
Brachetto d’Acqui’s ancestry lies in Roman times with Vinum Aquense, as it was known dating back to the time of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. “Aromatics have always been connected to nobility,” explains Consorzio Tutela Brachetto d’Acqui President Paolo Ricagno. It was thought to have astonishing aphrodisiac powers. Legend has it that first Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony sent many wineskins of the Vinum Acquense to Egypt and to the court of the famously beautiful Cleopatra in advance of their arrival. The queen is said to have employed the sweet brachetto to rekindle the passion of her legendary lovers. Imbibing with impunity, something in a 21st century renaissance today’s producers and consorzio would love to see. The first official definition was in 1922 when it was considered a “luxury wine” and history notes that is has been produced since 1850. Fast forward 100 years later Arturo Bersano decided to present it “in a particular way.” With more bubbles and smelling like roses.
Consorzio Tutela Brachetto d’Acqui
I have had the privilege to listen to Paolo Ricagno speak twice, first in Acqui Terme in 2018 and most recently in December 2019. Ricagno (not the actor and director of the same name) has been at the helm since inception in 1992 and is joined by two vice presidents: Alberto Lazzarino, director of Banfi and Bruno Fortunato, president of the Tre Secoli cooperative in Mombaruzzo and Ricaldone. DOCG status was granted in 1996. The more than 1000 hectares from 850 growers in Alessandria and Asti is farmed for the express purpose of raising the only red aromatic DOCG in Italy. It can be still, sparkling or made in a dessert-Passito style, but in the simplest description (bubbles and roses) it is in the sweet iterations that most often appear.
The Piedmont tertiary basin is filled with fossils from what once was an ancient sea. The sea covered and pulled back twice, shallow, like a tide pool, warm, tropical and full of large sea animals. All of this you can imagine has left a wealth of minerals in the soils, including and especially calcium carbonate. The sandier soils in Acqui are apposite to the marl and limestone of Nizza Monferrato and the vineyards are strewn with marine fossils. There are dramatic climate effects by diurnal temperature swings, cold snowy winters and hot summers. All of this in the name of preserving aromatics.
Dense bunches, firm fleshed. That is brachetto. Aromatics are hidden in the skins, high in terpenes and sugars. Main aroma is geraniol, as in red roses. The chemical-aromatic continuum of brachetto runs through the three-pronged table occupied by terpene-geraniol-rose and the preservation of aromatics is established by cold fermentations. The push-pull, ying-yang posit tug is between varietal and fermentative aromas, from the liberty of free-run juice, careful avoidance of oxidation and the tried and true (Dr. Federico) Martinotti Charmat method employed in controlled pressure tanks. If you want to make a DOCG Rosé, you have to keep the maceration very short, to keep the anthocyanin factor down and obtain a wine similar in pale colour to the wines of Provençe. This to make a wine with less aromatic compounds and terpenes. When you ferment moscato dry, which is high in linalool, it can tend to leave a problem with bitterness, whereas brachetto is poor in that thiol and higher in geraniol so bitterness is not a problem. In fact when present can actually be pleasant.
Pretty in Pink, Isn’t she?
Pretty in Pink, Isn’t she?
At Enoteca Regionale Acqui “Terme e Vino” the Masterclass Brachetto Experience was led by Biologist and Sommelier Martina Doglio Cotto of Grape Stories. First a capriccioso, fantasioso or better yet, an estroso Consorzio presentation on place, grape and of course aromatics, followed by a Brachetto d’Acqui tasting with food pairings and inspired cocktail bar. If there is a more whimsical, capricious and fanciful wine than Brachetto d’Acqui it has not yet been found. These are eight examples tasted in Acqui Terme and Asti back in that first week of December.
More of a firm grip in this brachetto though perfectly fruity and well above average aromatic display. Certainly more zest, pique and pops than other gentler examples. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted December 2019
As fruity and fruit forward as it gets and that’s saying a lot for Brachetto d’Acqui. A bowl of ripe strawberries and the juice squeezed out of a bouquet of roses. Simple, sweet and definitive for the appellation. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted December 2019
Literally “Alice’s Houses,” and the most whimsical, musical and poetic of them all. A brachetto from “a story with the voice of a choir of 100 members” who collectively produce 600 tonnes of the fickle grape for the light ruby red, 5.5% by volume sparkling wine. A floral one of course smelling regally of roses and fruity by raspberry and strawberry. Fresh and self-professed as “harmoniously sweet, slightly tannic.” Truth that. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted December 2019
Pineto is the Strevi cru in the area around Acqui and oh how it brings and slings all the red fruit in waves, from cherry, strawberry and raspberry, even a peppery kick and blood juicy plum. Just a hint of tisane by tannin from a few day maceration at eight degrees with plenty of pumpovers. Then suspended for settling, cleaning and a finish at five point five degrees alcohol within the tenets of appellative law. Quite pure and exactly the sort of refreshing wine with all parts in balance, just like in the fairy tale. A glass or two won’t have you strung between self preservation and transgressive social rule breaking. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted December 2019
Passito di Brachetto is a one of the world’s most distinctive dessert wines, in Marenco’s Strevi world made from 100 per cent Brachetto grapes. The grapes are dried post harvest, gently pressed and selected skins are left to ferment with the must at controlled temperatures for up to eight months. The Passito is then aged in barrel for at least one year. The process brings a cherry concentrate and the oak an uncanny note of white chocolate with thanks to very old barriques. Linger over a sip and feel the seep of darker chocolate, liquorice, toffee, amaro and then a return to those cherries. Peppery in the Marenco brachetto way. Ultimo Passito. Meraviglioso. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted December 2019
Rusty hue in a lovely little rustic and authentic rosato seemingly curious in that it almost acts dry because of such a dried fruit, flower and herb accumulation. Each part is complimentary to the next for a ripe and charming example of Brachetto d’Acqui potpourri. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted December 2019
Impressively aromatic, classic rose petal and strawberries in and out of every inhalation. Proper presence, a good match to salty cured meats, especially a local kiss of filetta bacciata. Sweetness is really mitigated by high tonality, elevated acidity and overall balance. More pleasure in this case and isn’t that the point. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted December 2019
Writing about Canadian wines has been intrinsically inspired by music because quite frankly, one is always connected to the other. The wines of Ontario have always been at the head of this coupling and the relationship is borne more or less of its own accord. Music came first of course because before wine there was this gangly Toronto teenager every Saturday morning at 8:59 am sitting on the curb in front of Vortex Records at Dundas and Mutual Streets waiting for Bert Myers to open his shop so that kid could be the first in. The 1,600 vinyl record collection still gets plenty of spin time, as does Spotify and Google Music. The CDs? Not so much. Invariably a glass of wine is in hand, more often than not with an Ontario VQA designation in tow.
Canadian music has been great for as long as I have been listening. When did Ontario wine get here too, or the question begs, how? Not by virtue of any particular ethos through customs and traditions going back over many generations of wines. No, success and cumulative proficiency exists by dint of these wines without any forced supervision. They are governed by themselves and indeed across the entire industry. Done are the blanketing days of spare and powerful Ontario wines that were often too spare, so that the ribs of tannin showed through in painful obviousness. Today the contigious embracing of cool climate idiosyncrasy, fringe exceptionality and a unique Somewhereness makes Ontario the envy of the developing wine world.
My writing about wine an occupation whose reality is examined to points of madness, of long, run-on sentences, often at odds with grammatical winemaking realism. My tireless, tiring sentences and phrasing can at times offer a feeling that is potentially endless. Often I like my music to be the same in a Genesis-Frank Zappa-Pat Metheny like continuum but that too is changing. The young pop meeting hip-hop stars that my children listen to are growing on me. As are the unknown, the indie and the tireless players. And they need our help. The wineries too. Just ask Neko Case. “For every piece of music you stream/use for free today, please pay for one if you can. Music and art seem as effortless and breathable as air because an army of humans lovingly make it and propel it for the good of all.” Support local and order your next case of wine from an Ontario winery.
Compiling any wine list is never easy. Not when the subject matter is the most fleeting of consumables, a drink ever-changing, almost never tasting the same twice and destined for eventual failure. We know by instinct that wines cast the shadow of their own destruction before them and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins. Wine critics can only regard what is in the glass by what sensory enjoyment or displeasure is activated at that exact time. In most cases there are no second chances. Music is different, timeless, often repetitive and can always be given a second chance.
Music and wine can work magic when paired together. Sometimes it’s just a matter of breaking wine down to the base, choosing grapes from places where they are made in straightforward and simply powerful ways. Likewise, clicking an uncomplicated, three-chord arrangement on YouTube or Spotify can really change the outlook of a day. With a glass of wine in hand there’s a familiar internal silence when sublime music plays, is performed, gifted. The following wines combine lyricism with melody. They write the songs.
Ontario’s sparkling wine oeuvre has transformed into something unstoppable, immoveable and utterly impressive. Truly. Examples tend to be sharp, of lean and intense fruit, with more toast and edges than other Canadian counterparts. The climate is ideal for making bubbles of all ilk; traditional method, cuvée close, ancestral, charmat and pétillant naturel, a.k.a. pét-nat. For every occasion and at all times, especially with music blaring, or soothing softly, as you wish. There are no wrong pairings for Ontario sparkling wine.
Hinterland’s Lacus is gamay noir made in a fully accumulated yeasty style, re-fermented in bottle and yet wholly antithetical to the Jonas Newman’s sweeter Ancestral. Lacus could mean “lake” or “cistern,” perhaps in nod to all the meandering, surrounding and irregularly patterned water in the County, or perhaps it might mean “award,” as should be what we all get in tasting this delightful sparkling wine. Different and comforting, textural and exceptional in varietal, land and stylistic usage. Utterly versatile and electric as need be. Elevates pétillant naturel wine into the real world for many to enjoy. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted June 2019
Pairs with The Tragically Hip’s My Music at Work
Why? The opening lines say it all, for what’s happening today.
Everything is bleak It’s the middle of the night You’re all alone and The dummies might be right You feel like a jerk My music at work My music at work
The vintage tension is felt right from the aromatic get go and there can be no doubt that you are nosing Niagara’s most accomplished sparkling wine. Lime and wet concrete, fennel pollen and Baked Alaska. All tolled a terrific entry and no downturn into ginger and savoury crème brûlée followed by a moment of silence and contemplation. Use this for all, whenever and wherever. It will work for everyone, including those who will appreciate the faint sweetness to balance the year’s anxieties. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted November 2019
Pairs with Alessia Cara’s Scars to Your Beautiful
Why? H of P’s Cuvée Catharine is also a wine of hope, youth and beauty. A wine from our very own backyard, just like the the singer from Brampton. The first line helps.
But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
It seems that in Ontario riesling is perpetually on the rise and the reasons why are as varied as the artistry it’s equipped to display. It has been 40 years since the Pennachetti family of Cave Spring Vineyard and German vintner Herman Weis planted riesling in St. Urban Vineyard on what is now Vineland Estates. My how things have changed. The trending line ascends as the general public comes around and warms to the versatile grape so popularity is not just in the hands of geeks, oenophiles and connoisseurs. Ask your favourite sommelier, product consultant or wine writer. Riesling’s neighbourhood is beginning to gentrify in a big way but it’s also expanding experimental and ancestral horizons. Varietal power, finesse and omniscient existentialism for a signature and singular Ontario purpose is perpetual and unwavering. Versatility goes with eccentric, electric and eclectic tunes so get your funk, funky and funkadelic groove on.
Grower’s Series as in purchased fruit raised by serious Ontario grape farmers, in this case the Wismers and their expansive and generous Twenty Mile Bench-Foxcroft Vineyard. In Shauna White’s hands this Wismer fruit is ripe, developed and open-knit for skies the limit flavour potential. Cut your teeth on this juicy somnambulist riesling of citrus, peach, yellow plum and wide-eyed excitement. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted March 2020
Pairs with The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights
Why? The song is new but timeless, retro, thrown back to the mid 1980s with synth rhythms like Take on Me by A-Ha. Adamo’s riesling sleep walks, blinds us by its light and connects rieslings going back through time to today.
Oh, when I’m like this, you’re the one I trust Hey, hey, hey
Adam Steps is the riesling positioned up the middle lane, with more sugar than the Estate and near equal to CSV, with acidity higher than the former and similar to the latter. It’s the fatter, juicier, more generous one and in many ways much like the Feinherb’s of Germany. This is a very forward vintage with elevated levels of all its typical character, including tropical notes of guava and pineapple. May not be the longest age worthy AS but it is a most pleasing one. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted February 2019
Pairs with Drake’s Passion Fruit
Why? You might think this would pair better with sauvignon blanc but Adam’s Steps smells just as tropical and well, the first line.
Ayy, y’all get some more drinks goin’ on, I’ll sound a whole lot better
From the botrytis block and you can feel, sense, and taste it very much so in this vintage. This in spite of a 30 per cent number out of a year when humidity and brix did not quite jive in terms of penultimate timing. Tart, leesy and so bloody sensorial. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted September 2019
Pairs with DJ Shub’s Indomitable
Why? The indigenous electronic music of PowWowStep is so riesling, so Ravine and so Patricia. “I want Canadians to see that pow wow culture is beautiful in both imagery and spirit,” explains DJ Shub. “I also want young Native kids to know that they can find support and happiness in their lives, even if they can’t see it right in front of them.”
In Ontario, raising chardonnay is about growing grapes and making wines in places previously discounted. There is no secret that Ontario winemakers have worked tirelessly to develop the ability and the acumen to make world-class chardonnay. Always reinventing itself and potential fulfilled, chardonnay, the slow train coming. Few ideals or notions are hotter these days than those relating to cool climate viticulture and the selvage regions from where such wines are produced. As for music and chardonnay? The great singer-songwriters and bands of course; the classics, icons and archetypes.
This 2017 from Westcott is really just what you might imagine were you to close your eyes and draw a triangle in your mind from the Vinemount Ridge, to judiciously oaked chardonnay and through to Westcotts’s manifesto. Niagara chardonnay should be about farming and this most certainly is, but also a microcosm of place, again of truth, but like all good, great and ethereal chardonnay must be. The florals are high for the place and the texture like organza, filament and lace. The obtuse vintage be damned it is this team that has found the right path and the way to varietal understanding. This teaches us about the ridges and benches but also about cool climate chardonnay. Thanks for this. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted October 2019
Pairs with Bruce Cockburn’s Wondering Where the Lions Are
Why? Like the song everyone always wants to hear him play, timeless, so Canadian and one that teaches so much about being us. The dictionary and playlist wrapped into one with a chardonnay that speaks to all of us in a cool climate vernacular.
Sun’s up, mm-hmm, looks okay The world survives into another day And I’m thinking ’bout eternity Some kinda ecstasy got a hold on me
You may consider this 2017 (estate) chardonnay from Hidden Bench the transition, meaning it demarcates the passing of the varietal torch, from Marelize Beyers to Jay Johnston. And indeed there is a little bit of each winemaker’s finesse, grace and cumulative style. Perhaps a step away from richesse with a step forward in structure. That means the linearity and subtlety speaks ahead of the developed flavours and so a longer primary period will allow this to drink consistently for nearly five years. After that it will develop more flint and smoulder, if less golden sunshine richness. These are of course details in minutia and shadows to discover. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2020
Pairs with Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows
Why? Everything about Cohen’s music lives in shadows and everybody knows that a Hidden Bench chardonnay does the same. Even if the plague is coming fast, from one great to another, everybody knows.
Everybody knows, Everybody knows, That’s how it goes, Everybody knows
Welcome back, to that grand vineyard place that we’ve talked about. Down on the farm near the water where chardonnay was purposed grown and put in the hands of a young Thomas Bachelder. The results were dramatic and now that unparalleled fruit is back in the monk’s world, he wiser and more experienced than ever. The transition is spooky seamless and the awe in hand providing breathtaking posits in moments more than fleeting. Behold the presence of orchards and their just ripened glow of fruit with sheen so fine. Let your glass allow the ease of the aromas and flavours to fall in and emit with conscious movement, without conscience or effort. That’s the 2017 Grand Clos. Chardonnay that is. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted November 2019
Pairs with Rush’s Limelight
Why? Le Clos Jordanne is back in the limelight and on a literal level, the return of this iconic Ontario chardonnay by Thomas Bachelder is about living as a performer, on a stage, with all eyes upon them. A wine with a higher purpose.
Get on with the fascination The real relation The underlying theme
Who needs only light, southern French styled Rosé when you can also have full fruit, plenty of colour and a healthy dose of personality? In many cases the nearly pale and vin gris examples still persist and excite but there are those bled and rendered, heavily hued and teeming with fruit. Ontario made Rosé is more diverse, complex and multifarious than ever before. In terms of working for the consumer that means more choice and that’s a beautiful thing. Whether you are making yours to be a crowd pleaser with a heathy dose of residual sugar or dry as the desert, the unequivocal voice of necessary conscience will always whisper “balance in Rosé is key.” Like Canadian music which also pairs well with bottles of blush.
Hmmm…salty. Lovely lithe and spirited Rosé here from the LP boys, redolent of fresh-picked strawberry, Maldon sprinkled and just herbaceous enough to care for signature red grape varieties ideal for the quick, calm and easy blush bleed. The sour edge just adds to the mystique and the by the boatload charm. Just right. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted February 2019
Pairs with Shawn Mendes’ Stitches
Why? Don’t want to get too serious with Rosé so a little pop music with a slightly salty and bitter sound seems like just the plan.
And now that I’m without your kisses I’ll be needing stitches
Production is “as much as I can get from that site,” tells Shiraz Mottiar, so maximum 800 cases. As always the aridity and the salinity continue to rise, the acids, minerality, near brininess and ultimate stoic balance so secure at the top of the game. Such a high acid vintage for everything but certainly that includes Rosé, yet still the least amount of skin-contact of the three Malivoire blush. Acids just don’t correlate to hue and flesh. Thank pH for the needle’s movement in how this translates from vintage to vintage. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted January 2020
Pairs with Justin Bieber’s Intentions
Why? Moira just gets to me and a glass always leads to creativity. The Ontario Rosé muse unparalleled.
Shout out to your mom and dad for making you Standing ovation, they did a great job raising you When I create, you’re my muse The kind of smile that makes the news
Not that there is ever a bad time to partake in the wonders of gamay, but with the mercury rising, spring is the right time to be with the gamay you love. If you’ve never experienced the nuanced pleasure of great gamay, whether it be from Beaujolais in Bourgogne’s southern reaches or from Ontario’s cool-climate hinterlands, its prime time you did. The gamay produced in Ontario can run the gamut from light, fruity and joyful to dark, serious and structured. Winemakers are on their gamay game and the quality has never been better. The kind of songs to match gamay need to exhibit intrinsic purity and also variance so be picky and intentional here.
Quite a reductive and structured gamay with healthy extraction and great vintage fruit. Resides in the black raspberry realm with a balancing sheet of strawberry roll-up. Nothing shy about this, in a ripest of St. David’s Bench vein and so much could be taught about Ontario gamay through the work of this maker. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted October 2018 and March 2020
Pairs with Neil Young’s Homegrown
Why? Both Château Des Charmes and gamay strike me as the epitome of homegrown and the St. David’s Bench estate is simply the Neil Young of Ontario.
Homegrown’s All right with me Homegrown Is the way it should be Homegrown Is a good thing Plant that bell And let it ring
Gamay gets neither more ripe nor extracted in Ontario and yet there’s a step back dance grace about this singular ’17. If ever the word Cru might come to mind when nosing and tasting local gamay this would be one, specific to a time and a place. Wild cherry, black cherry and concentrated cherry syrup are the big, bigger and biggest attributes, all cut through by a knife’s edge acidity. Wild gamay of grip, with very good length. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted February 2019
Pairs with Robbie Robertson’s I Hear You Paint Houses
Why? To be honest lyrically this song has nothing to do with Stratus or gamay but it features Van Morrison and that’s pretty much the reason. Robbie and Van together is like Stratus and gamay.
I hear you paint houses Right down to the wire
Thoughts about pinot noir always articulate an opinion. Smells like cherries, shows earth and mineral notes of/from clay and limestone. Texture is specific to the village where it is grown. In Ontario there are pinot noir crus few would ague against the probability that in most vintages quality will be a guarantee. Crus like Lowrey Vineyard on the St. David’s Bench, top blocks in Prince Edward County, several vineyards up on the Beamsville Bench, Wismer-Foxcroft, much of the Twenty Mile Bench and Four Mile Creek. The naysayers who continue to doubt whether pinot noir is a viable signature grape in this province are not paying close enough attention to the signs, portents and in conclusion, the results. As for the songs it plays and sings? Gotta be both old and new, retro and still avant-garde, crooning while ambient, poppy yet just a bit unusual and always stuck in your head.
From a vintage both turned on and stood on its head with cool and wet summer conditions followed by unprecedented heat in September. The resulting look at pinot noir means strawberry like you’ve never noted before and Montague’s certainly jamming with concentration. Sweet fruit carries just enough varietal tension and depth to keep it grounded in the clay-earthy realities of Niagara. Not like Montague’s past perhaps but great fun nonetheless. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted November 2019
Pairs with City and Colour’s Hope for Now
Why? Dallas Green’s voice, of sweet tension, like Ontario pinot noir and Montague’s clay-earthy reality.
What will it take to live as if I would not another day? To live without despair, and to be without disdain How can I instill such hope, but be left with none of my own? What if I could sing just one song and it might save somebody’s life?
A bit high-toned, magically spirited and rebelliously volatile. Earthy and lithe in fruit though quite raspberry-pomegranate and exciting for those who like it not only lightning searing, but intensely meaningful. Hard not quiver with impatience at the thought of this treat before me and what such a singular pinot noir will become when it matures. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted blind at NWAC19, June 2019
Pairs with Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You
Why? PEC pinot noir, this vineyard and that winemaker. Musically structured like a song from Blue, chord and tempo changes, magically spirited and intensely meaningful. Thank you Dan Sullivan.
You taste so bitter And so sweet, oh I could drink a case of you darling, and I would Still be on my feet
Congrats to Cliff and Colin @stannerswines for their The Narrow Rows Pinot Noir 2017 Gold Medal performance @judgement.of.kingston 2019. We the judges deliberated long and with great care to come to this well-deserved conclusion.
A super-saturated, honed and zeroed in upon place in a vineyard ripeness with a touch foxiness. Reality from limestone bled into fruit wavering on a spectrum where berry fruit
sits on one end and earthy beetroot all the way over on the other. Touches both and then properly meets in the middle. Cherries are red, herbs are green and tension stretches a wire between two poles. Tomato water and tomato leaf with fresh basil. That’s just matter of fact and a good struck balance in combination. You almost feel it’s at once too ripe and then a bit green but those moments are fleeting and so the summation in accumulation is the thing; must, seeds, stems and the work of kind, nurturing and gentle hands add up to great delicacy. It’s local and it’s so bloody good. Delicious even. Unlike any pinot noir ever made previously in Ontario. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted blind at the Judgement of Kingston, November 2019
Pairs with Ron Sexsmith’s Gold in Them Hills
Why? Pinot is a song of hope, crooned by a Canadian treasure. Colin Stanners may as well be the Ron Sexsmith of Prince Edward County, shy and brilliant, reserved and funny.
But maybe it’s the perfect day Even though the bills are piling
There’s gold in them hills There’s gold in them hills So don’t lose heart Give the day a chance to start
At the brazen and confident right of Ontario’s most important varietal reds is cabernet franc, a Bordelais grape that paints a more palatable picture than those brushed by both merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Transparently honest and forthright by nature, brassy and highly energetic, righteously indignant like a young band with a big sound and no shortage of swagger. Frank Ontario red, frankly speaking.
There’s a symmetry in this cabernet franc and as it is the natural one in the Tawse stable, it’s actually the connection between vineyard and varietal that brings about the a ha moment. Redfoot has to date been the gamay block for natural executions and cabernet franc has been a Laundry Vineyard affair. The dots are connected through the Lincoln Lakeshore lexicon from one to the next, first in grape and then in winemaking, or lack thereof. This Vin Nature is both the least “natural” of all the Tawse tries while at the same time most like the Laundrys of past vintages, though it’s really somewhere in the circulative middle of a stylistic that includes the Grower’s Blend. In fact there’s no great departure from those cabernet francs so why not make them all this way? If the results are same dark fruit, same blushing acidity, same piquancy, same herbal undertones and nearly the same clarity of structure, why not risk it across the board? Could drink this with abandon. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted September 2019
Pairs with The Arkells Knocking at the Door
Why? “There’s a fearlessness to it that I think a lot of sports fans and teams want to feel,” said frontman Max Kerman. The song has been anthemic at hockey games and women’s marches. Paul Pender’s natural wines do something eerily similar and reach a very large audience.
That’s me, I’m knockin’ at the door I’m thirsty For more, for more, for more That’s me, I’m knockin’ at the door I’m knockin’ at the door I’m knockin’ at the door That’s me
Nothing if not classic Bench-raised cabernet franc with crunchy fruit, dark red and savoury plus that unmistakeable current of dark currant and capsicum. There’s no mistaking the origin or the execution, nor the varietal expressiveness. Transparent, honest, real and blessed of so much purposeful character. May not charm everyone from the word go but a couple of years will sort them out. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted December 2019
Pairs with Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs
Why? The bounce in this song reminds of cabernet franc’s varietal dance, crunchy, savoury and honest. That’s just how Ann Sperling interprets fruit from Saunders Vineyard, tripping over piano keys and a background of strings making ambient sounds, rising to a crescendo.
Sometimes I can’t believe it I’m moving past the feeling Sometimes I can’t believe it I’m moving past the feeling again
Luigi Coppo is grounded in tradition, family, heritage and by a contiguous connection through generational continuance. That much is clear. I’ve met with and tasted Coppo’s wines three times over the last three years; during Barolo’s Collisioni Festival, July 2017, at Relais San Maurizio in Santo Stefano Belbo, December 2018 and most recently at the family’s Canelli estate in December, 2019. Since 1892 Coppo has been nestled in the favourable company of fellow producers Gancia and Bosco, together forming a link between these three most historical wineries in Canelli. Coppo’s Barbera d’Asti and in particular their Pomorosso cru from Nizza Monferrato’s hills are intimately integral charges and while it may have long been established, the advancing Luigi Coppo led Sparkling wine program will push further than merely rivalling the best of Alta Langa. Lookout Franciacorta. Take heed Champagne. And though these estate masterpieces in constant progress will duly impress sommeliers and collectors worldwide, Luigi Coppo still pulls for the workhorses and insists that “Moscato d’Asti is definitely the heritage of our hills.” That amongst their 56 farmed hectares surely counts for something. This is the actuality and presence of Luigi Coppo in Piemonte: Determined, ambitious and yet always cognizant of his roots. All the Coppos in fact; Gianni, Paolo, Luigi, Roberto and Piero. Feet on Canelli ground since 1892.
Much has changed since Luigi’s great-grandfather Piero started the estate in 1892. Today production is 500,000 bottles annually. In another three-pronged producer connection Coppo can make Barolo here in Canelli, along with Scarpa and Bersano. And in 1977 it was Carlo Gancia who as the first in Italy to do so, returned from Champagne to employ moscato in traditional method bubbles. Luigi Coppo is also making use of the Canelli tufo azzuro soils, a mix of blue clay and limestone so ideal for growing grapes to turn them into many variations of sparkling wine. He too embraced the new Alta Langa appellation, beginning in 2010. A specific area was identified, chardonnay and pinot noir were planted and the 30 month lees aging methodology was put into place. Following the dreams of Grandfather Luigi who desired to produce a Bourgogne-style in Piemonte, chardonnay was planted 35 years ago. After nonno passed away in 1994 Luigi’s father Paolo decided to keep the dream alive. Monteriolo sees nine months on lees in barriques; big, buttery, modern and luscious.
The Nizza Classico barbera come from several Monferrato villages while the Pomorosso cru, first made in 1998 sees new French oak for 14-18 months. Moscato d’Asti gets stelvin closures, the wines that age for five to six months are sealed under Diam and real corks for anything longer. The natural barrel cellar was finished in 1970, 42m below ground level. As for the heritage one, says Luigi, “Moscato loves altitude compared to barbera. It’s now time to talk about Moscato d’Asti as a serious wine because it’s very difficult to make. We don’t add sugar or carbonize and it is a vintage wine. These are the three natural and honest things about moscato.”
What do Coppo’s wines do for us? How are they helpful and perhaps even life-affirming? The truth lies in Luigi Coppo’s humanity and dedication to the things that matter. Something has to save us from ourselves, especially in times such as these, from being inside our heads. Luigi’s wines are the sort to make our wisdom bearable, to rescue us, if nothing else from the ever-bearing fever of begotten biological and ecological destiny. These are the five wines tasted at Coppo.
Traditional method varietal pinot noir in sparkling form, 24 months on its lees and no wood aging. Gainfully fresh and joyous, just a pinch of dosage and regaled, mainly by strawberry but also a sweetly savoury push. Crushable bubbles in the parlance of our times. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted December 2019
A 60-40 split of pinot noir and chardonnay that was at a near to previous time a varietal wine of the first but with 90 months on the lees and more complex notions conceived it was necessary to bring the latter into the mix. This was disgorged in July 2017. The tartufo bianco in this wine is simply uncanny. That and a toasty precision as if by a Japanese chef’s hand, a toasted piece of perfect white bread to the edges in 100 per cent equality by golden caramelization. Sandwich a piece of reverse seared Kobe rib-eye in between two buttered slices with a side of potato chips and creamy cole slaw and Coppo’s your uncle. Mimic with foie gras if you must. Up to you. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted December 2019
A father and an uncle’s chardonnay dedication to their father with a Bourgignons style and philosophy. This just released ’17 saw nine months on lees in French barriques. Toasty in a “Batard” Italianate way, nearly gingered and a low-yield meets high concentration and alcohol (though maxing out at 13.0 per cent) and purposefully ripe. The hot year took away some control and thus the warm biscuit and accentuating spice notes. A little caramelization and while the joy will be a year or so away it will be a shorter lasting period, albeit a highly anticipated and relishing one. Verdant finish with a scape of citrus zests. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted December 2019
A blend of areas, Nizza Monferrato, Castelnuovo Calcea and Agliano Terme, first produced in 1984. “If you want to make Nizza all of your vineyards have to face south,“ explains Luigi Coppo. The exposures gather three levels of sunlight and with 15 days of fully extractive macerated practices the tannins are necessarily pulled to their limit. With varietal acidity set to a natural high there is a three-pronged effect that expresses three separate platitudes and layers for long-term effect. Add the warmth of ’17 and the degree of difficulty and margin for error is very stringent. Castelnuovo Calcea was the last to pick and still only at the end of the first week of September. There’s a phenolic-minor note from the vintage that’s ostensibly unavoidable in a composition like this and yet the richness and structure are non-compromised. Tough to follow the ideal 2016. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted December 2019
“Moscato loves altitude as compared to barbera,” tells Luigi Coppo, “and now is the time to think about Moscato d’Asti.” Luigi says it’s a serious wine because it’s difficult to make. No sugars are added or carbonization performed and it’s a vintage wine. These are the three tenets that matter most. From Canelli vineyards between 200-280m and the classicism of construct and effect is pure magic in proper and precise, sleight of hand ability. That’s what it needs to be, no more, no less. Naturally sweet, a pinch of salt and all the orchard fruit; apple, pear, lemon and orange. All together in balance and gift with tannin on a real dry finish. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted December 2019
For a wine region to succeed it must exercise sustainable principles and do so by meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Investment argues for three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social, a.k.a. people, planet and profits. In scientific terms sustainability refers to an ecosystem’s ability to exist constantly at a cost within a universe that evolves towards thermodynamic equilibrium within a state of maximum entropy. A modern vernacular would speak of the coexistence between humans and their host biosphere. A transfer of these ideological theories into wine-speak says that in Asti the growers, producers and their appointed Tutela dell’Asti DOCG chaperones have collectively agreed to set the appellative wines of Asti Secco DOCG, Asti Dolce DOCG and Moscato d’Asti DOCG as representative of their present and future. Three pillars of Asti.
“Born in 1932, the Consortium for the Promotion of Asti has a clear mission: to perform all the necessary actions to protect, promote and enhance the value of Asti and Moscato d’Asti, in Italy and the world.” The sustainable manifesto is clear and one day spent inside the offices of the Consortium will instruct and explain all you need to know about economic, social, environmental, export, security and what Italians refer to as disciplinare policies. Regulations regarding vineyard yields, levels of alcohol, sugar, extract and bars of pressure are so defined as to ensure current production and sales viability but also explicitly what the next generation will need to carry the work forward.
Guido Bezzo and the Asti lab crew
The Consortium’s Laboritorio Analisi for the Tutela dell’Asti DOCG is one of the most advanced and technologically impressive anywhere, with the mechanization capable of carrying out a diverse set of analyses. Under the guise of Guido Bezzo, who incidentally also happens to be a virtuoso trumpeter, the lab exerts its expertise far beyond pedestrian testing of alcohol, sugar and varietal purity. It delves deeper than mere organoleptic conclusions. The lab’s research works to investigate the impact analysis results for one 750 mL bottle of Asti wine covering categories that includes a mind-boggling set of parameters: Climate change; Reduction of the ozone layer; Toxicity and carcinogenic effects on humans; Particulate/smog caused by emissions of inorganic substances; Ionizing radiation effects on human inorganic health; Photochemical ozone formation; Acidification; Terrestrial, aquatic and marine eutrophication; Ecotoxicity in freshwater aquatic environments; Soil transformation; Resource depletion in water, minerals and fossils. Heady stuff indeed.
Dinner at Teatro Alfieri, Asti with President of the Consorzio Moscato d’Asti DOCG President Romano Dogliotti
La Caudrina’s Romano Dogliotti is President of the Consorzio dell’Asti DOCG and like so many Langhe winemakers, he is intrinsically tied to tradition but with a decisive openness to new technologies. In line withy many of his compatriots, Dogliotto’s Moscato d’Asti is made by putting yeast and moscato grape must in an autoclave. The must ferments at low temperature in this reinforced fermentation vessel until about half the natural sugar is consumed, then the wine is quickly passed through a micron filter to arrest the fermentation. The result is Moscato d’Asti at five and a half degrees of alcohol by volume and enough residual sweetness to conjure the feeling of eating ripe orchard fruit. In Asti the moscato comes out three ways: Secco, Dolce, Moscato d’Asti.
There are 10,000 hectares of vineyards for these lightly sparkling, off-dry to sweet Asti white wines and the Consorzio is entrusted to promote and protect the wines in the appellation. They are widely imitated and so undertaking legal action and registering trademarks in every country is a necessary side-hustle of the job. In terms of producer requests, all changes and modifications applied for must be approved by the consortium. An integral aspect of the work involves field, vineyard as well as laboratory research.
Teatro Alfieri, Asti
Asti covers parts of 52 communes, three provinces; Asti, Cuneo, Alessandria and three territories; Langhe, Roero and Monferrato. The vineyard landscape of these three famous Piedmontese areas were recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014, Un territorio Patrimonio dell’Umanità. Sedimentary soils that date back 10-15 million years predominate. One is the Pliocenic basin of Asti to the northeast. The to the west around Canelli there are Serravallian (Middle Miocene) soils, stratified layers of blue clay, sand and lime. Many believe this to be the best composition for Moscato d’Asti. To the east in the area of Strevi the ground is Tortonian (late Miocene), younger at five to 10 million years, with more clay and more lime in deeper layers and colour.
Laboritorio Analisi for the Tutela dell’Asti DOCG
The crux of the varietal situation is twofold, at once for vineyards subsisting at the foot of the Alps and also drawing energy being proximate to the sea. Seventy-five per cent of the vineyards are directly protected by the mountains. As seemingly everywhere, climate is changing here too. In the last 15 years average temperatures have increased by one degree. In the past 58 years the average increase has been by two. More important are temperature abnormalities. The centrepiece moscato bianco is a very sensitive grape and easily subjected to diseases. A study of 15 experimental vineyards continues to assess the vintages and the shifting climatic effect on the wines.
Guyot training is appropriate for poor quality soils and lower yields. Broken down by altitude, 44 per cent of the vineyards are at 250-300m and 30 per cent at 300-450m. In terms of slope, 2,770 of 9,700ha have a gradient higher than 30 per cent, 336 ha with a gradient of more than 50.“Heroic agriculture” is the moniker bestowed. “The Sorì vineyards.” No mechanization is employed and a certain crucial must is picking times, especially in terms of the preservation of moscato bianco’s aromatic compounds. Yields per hectare are set at 9.5 tonnes for Asti and Moscato d’Asti, the approximate price at 1.1 Euro.
With Andrea Costa, Vini Marenco
The 60,000 tonnes kept at negative four degrees in summer costs dearly in equipment and energy. It is widely believed that juice can stay in tank for up to two years without losing aromatic concentration. Fermentation takes place at 20 degrees in pressure tanks developed by Italian sparkling wine pioneer Dr. Federico Martinotti, director of the Research Institute for the Wine of Asti, who patented the method in 1895. Martinotti is credited with creating the method of developing the bubbles inside of tanks. The juice can stand pressures of more than 10 bars. Yeasts must be stopped abruptly (in a matter of a few hours) to avoid off odours and flavours, i.e rotten egg and cooked cabbage. Centrifuge and filters are used. In the past pasteurization at 50 degrees was the norm but now micro filtration screens out the yeast (at 0.2 microns) and stabilizes the wines. Agronomist/viticuilturalist Daniele Eberle also explains how Fratelli Gancia used the same techniques that the French used here in Piemonte in the late 1800s. The city of Canelli, cultural home of Asti holds the highest concentration of companies that make all the equipment necessary for bottling Spumante wines.
Étretat – Claude Monet, Palazzo Mazzetti
These are the disciplinare for the three appellation wines:
Asti Dolce DOCG: 6-7 per cent alcohol by volume, 90-100 g/L residual sugar and Sparkling at maximum 4-5 bars of pressure
Moscato d’Asti DOCG: Minimum 4.5 up to 6.5 per cent alcohol by volume, 120-130 g/L residual sugar and Sparkling at maximum 2.5 bars of pressure
Asti Secco DOCG: Minimum 11.0 per cent alcohol by volume, 17 g/L residual sugar and Sparkling at 3-3.5 maximum bars of pressure
Massive thanks to Mariana Nedic, Marina Nedic, Ana Murguia and the staff at IEEM Communications. Looking back at December travels and work assignments in Italy I now find myself focusing in on the new and forward thinking Moscato d’Asti stories in the heart of Piemonte. Tough wines to produce but these traditional producers have to do it. It Is their heritage, imperative and pleasure. At the Consorzio dell’Asti in Isola d’Asti the steps and stages of Asti’s gently sparkling wines gave way to a blind tasting of the following seven.
Lime and a soapy entry but on the drier side, likely Asti Secco. Feels like 15 g/L of sugar with gentle and supportive acidity. Somewhere between peach and pear, clean and perhaps too much so. Certainly a fine mousse and persistence. A new style from which the aromatics are diminished and yet the gain in versatility in this case indicates one done well. Does well to avoid the potential of bitters marking the finish. Alcohol is at 11.0 per cent and sugars could be as high as 17 g/L though this seems lower in the 10-12 range. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
Asti Dolce for sure, crazy sweet and reminiscent of a lime creamsicle. Aromatic but not overtly so, all controlled by the sugars and so very cloying. Exceptionally foamy, creamed and whipped in mousse. Perfectly suited to flavour a zabaglione to work alongside hazelnuts baked into a soft, crumbly cake. Alcohol at 7.0 per cent and sugars at 90-100 g/L. Drink 2019. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
A wine that owes to the experience of Carlo Gancia in Canelli. Wildly aromatic, a Langhe experiential moment straight away conceived and delivered. A Piedmontese traditional method bubble that is clearly more complex than kin simplicities. Bottle fermented and made from grapes harvested in 2012. Recently disgorged so at least six years on the lees technically Asti Dolce but really no affinity because the secondary and even tertiary aromas are in. Baking scents and oxidative meets caramelized notes are part of the mix, as is this ginger-orange créme brûlée with a healthy compliment of torched sugar flavours. A complex mess of aromatics, next level texture and most of all, multi-developed levels and layers of sweetness. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
Now into Moscato d’Asti with the most classic presentation, aromatically effusive, effective, generous and free. The sweetness in such a moscato is so very stone fruit based and subjected to a perfectly ripe squeeze of more than one citrus. Lemon, lime and orange without forgetting the smells of their blossoms. Quite correct and more so, leaving an impression that is not soon left for dust. From fruit grown in Meviglie at the limit of Neive. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
Waxy, aerosol citrus and perhaps a year older with prevalent if weighty acids that settle this Moscato d’Asti into a secondary period. Both aromatics and freshness are diminished though so seem the sugars so the balance is still well-afforded. Ultimately a perfect example of the ripe peach scents so expected from Moscato d’Asti. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
Quite toasty and though no wood was used it shows a remarkably semi-oxidative and lightly caramelized character that brings colour, cooked apple and creamy nectarine mousse. It has certainly come to a more interesting and charming place with just a moment’s liquorice and this white fig flavour. Worth some fun and giggles with persistent acids. Fruit from steep vineyards in Santo Stefano Belbo in the province of Cuneo at the border of Asti. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted blind at the Asti DOCG consortium, December 2019
Quite the advanced Moscato d’Asti here at the edge of tumbling down from the Sorì. Oxidative and fully caramelized notes, with preserved lemon, torched orange and candied ginger. The sugars are accentuated as a result of the diminishing acidity. Still a joyous showing for a 16 year-old moscato. Fruit from steep vineyards in Santo Stefano Belbo in the province of Cuneo at the border of Asti. Drink 2019. Tasted December 2019
Tasting next door to Monet
After the Masterclass and blind tasting we transferred to Asti and convened in Palazzo Mazzetti for a walk-around with the producers in the company of a small but exquisite exhibit, “Monet e gli Impressionisti.” These winemakers are finding new success by making use of advanced technologies, higher altitudes, specific soils and identifiable crus. These are the Moscato d’Asti I tasted and the world may know they are to be reckoned with.