Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Roero wines at La Trompette

Our friend from Denmark, Birger Vejrum, organised a wine tasting lunch at La Trompette sand, inevitably, I couldn't resist. On arrival at midday, there were 14 wines to taste, all from Roero producers, ranging from white wines made from the indigenous Arneis grape, through Barberas and Nebbiolos to Roero reds (also from Nebbiolo). Five producers were represented including Fabrizio Battaglino and Filippo Gallino.

There were just two whites, both with the Roero designation: a 2011 from Ca'Rossa had immediate appeal whereas Fabrizio's 2010 showed more mineral complexity and potential to age and develop over four or five years.

The Barbera grape was represented by Ca'Rossa whose 2009 "Mulassa" is very fruity with quite a rich nose but was quickly put in the shade by Gallino's 2007 Superiore with its structure and depth of fruit which had more complexity (undergrowth etc). Maybe this will have to be added to my next shopping list.

A few Nebbiolo d'Alba wines next. Not quite a level playing field, perhaps, as Fabrizio's 2010 Colla coulld bear a Roero label but he has always marketed it as Nebbiolo d'Alba. Quite simply, this was my wine of the tasting with a lovely rounded nose, fleshier than the previous vintage (2008 - the vineyard was devastated in 2009) and lovely depth of fruit. I passed on my compliments to Fabrizio after the tasting and he said he thought this the best wine he has ever made. I agree.

One of the other Nebbiolo wines is rather more expensive: Sandrone's 2009 is certainly very good and could be placed alongside many Barolo wines without looking at all out of place. It just didn't have the flesh of the Colla.

The Roero reds completed the tasting. These tannic Nebbiolo wines revealed some of their magic but clearly there is more to come. The most complete was a 2007 Riserva "Roche d'Amsej" from Matteo Correggia aged for two years each in barrel and bottle. The most evolved of all the wines, it had a lovely, rich, rounded palate but costs over £30, I discovered. Needless to say I was very happy when Birger made a present to me of the spare bottle although he did recommend I hold it for a few years. Hmmm.

Lunch was excellent (thanks La Trompette!) and several other wines were enjoyed with the food. Most interesting was a 1999 Roero Superiore "Mombeltramo" from Azienda Malvira, not necessarily the best wine on the table but the one which showed the potential of Roero at full maturity. Now I just need to wait another decade for my stocks of Fabrizio's wines to mature.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Joblot from the bottle

At last the 2010 wines from Domaine Joblot, the greatest estate in Givry have been assembled, bottled, shipped and cracked open, this last effort completed by me. What a treat!

Before getting on with the whites, we sneaked a peak at two of the reds: the non-Premier Cru "Pied au Chaume" and the Premier Cru "Clos Marole", the only wine that had been assembled last August when I visited the estate. At that time, this had been the wine which had given me the most trouble but that is not unusual for a recently blended wine (often at Beaucastel tastings, I find the recently blended whole is not greater than the sum of its parts but after a couple of years...). I will come back to these later.

So, the whites. It seemed logical to try the Vieilles Vignes "En Veau" first although, this being Burgundy, logic is not always the best measure, of course. This wine has lovely rounded Chardonnay fruit well wrapped in sweet oak, not too much of course but enough to enhance the wine's slightly fat appearance. Enough acidity there though (to be expected from 2010). The Premier Cru "Clos de la Servoisine" Blanc is more structured and mineral so, perhaps, would have shown even better after the En Veau. With a little time, its refinement came through though but, as with any Premier Cru, a little patience will be rewarded.

Back to the reds, the obvious place to start is Pied au Chaume, a pretty wine which will drink well in its youth I think but will grow into itself if given a bit of time. The Premier Cru "Clos Marole" offers some lovely blackcurrant fruit and quite a big structure. It shows much better on day two so, again, give it time. Actually, that is (inevitably) true of all of these. I would like to see how they have settled down after another year or so then, probably, leave them a decade or so to work themselves out in the bottle.

The other two wines are more structured now. Both Premier Cru wines, the "Clos des Bois Chevaux" and "Cellier aux Moines" are forces to be reckoned with. How often do you come across a Cote de Nuits wine with this much to offer at anything like these prices? Both are subtle but ethereal, structured but generous. The fruit is classic Burgundian Pinot and, frankly, I can't see any reason to trade up. Indeed, a couple of weeks ago, I negotiated a mixed case of semi-mature Burgundies which included some Ghislaine Barthod, Denis Mortet and others and I would be happy to stick with the Joblot wines and not just on financial grounds.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

PFV tasting

For some inexplicable reason, I was invited to a tasting put together by the Primum Familiae Vinum group of twelve of Europe's leading wine families which took place in one of the ballrooms at the Park Lane Hilton yesterday. I am not complaining!

This was a rare opportunity to taste wines from Joseph Drouhin, Egon Muller, Sassicaia, Vega Sicilia and Mouton Rothschild, amongst others. I did.

I began with a couple of Egon Muller wines: the Scharzhofberger Spatlese 2010 followed by the Auslese. Where the Spatlese had a delicious tropical grapefruit nose and full palate with sweet fruit and tangy acidity, the Auslese was more so. Astonishing really. I am a convert!

I confess to being a little underwhelmed by one or two of the wines I tasted from Tenuta San Guido until, that is, I got to Sassicaia itself. A 2008, this was inevitably too young: restrained and tight but with a promise of things to come.

Chateau de Beaucastel was next door so I jumped in with the 2009 Gigondas "La Gille" from Perrin et Fils which had a lovely Grenache nose, a little lighter on the palate than I had imagined it would be though. A very modern style wine: extremely good with a beautifully rounded texture but it didn't scream out "Gigondas" to me and I rather thought I would be able to enjoy it already (maybe give it a year or two but even this would be a young wine by Gigondas standards). I had tasted the Vinsobres and one or two other wines from this stable quite recently so moved straight on to Beaucastel 2009 with its gorgeous Mourvedre/Grenache nose (and I love the whiff of old-vine Counoise it offers). Surprisingly soft on the palate where some oak shows through - more than usual, I thought - so needs to integrate fully. A lovely wine by any standards.

I moved next to the Vega Sicilia table. Pintia 2007 has a good black-fruited nose but, for now, the oak dominates the palate. It will be good in time, of course although I didn't find it terribly long. Alion 2007 leans more towards Bordeaux with some pencil shaving character etc although there is no doubting its Spanish roots. Valbuena 2006 has an excellent structure, superb fruit and a nice tang: I could certainly drink this with pleasure (its not likely to happen though) but, of course, the star of the show (at this table, anyway) was Unico 2000 with a glorious nose and wonderful softness that made me feel very much (too much?) at home.  Quite exceptional.

As someone who is rarely as impressed with even the great wines of Bordeaux as others tell me I should be, the Mouton Rothschild range had an uphill task. It managed fairly well with the Armailhac 2000 offering a good, mature nose including cedar and some black fruit, everything subtly meshed together. The palate was lighter than the nose supposed but this would certainly be a pleasant wine over the next ten years if you want to enjoy a decent Bordeaux. The Clerc Milon 1998 offered more of the same with, perhaps, a little more concentration. At the end of the table was the 2004 Mouton itself which did offer rather more. Still very tight but lots of potential here. Worth the money? Not to me.

I just had time to taste the 2009 reds offered on the Joseph Drouhin table: no waiting around for the Savigny Premier Cru Clos des Godeaux; this is approachable already. Extremely good for Savigny whose wines rarely achieve this level of richness and are usually a little more rustic in my experience. The Chambolle Premier Cru was excellent with the texture and balance making me wish I wasn't driving. The Beaune Clos des Mouches is more animal and needs time to establish where it will be on the pecking order. If I was buying any of these to drink soon it would be the Chambolle but in ten years time I would probably want the Beaune.

Running out of time, I spied a couple of aged tawny ports on the Symington table: Graham's 20-year-old was classic, the 40-year-old fuller, spicier, extremely long and just glorious. Quite a kick too.

In conclusion, yes, I enjoyed myself.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Perrin Vinsobres 2009

I hadn't tasted this since the en primeur tastings back in 2010 so, the wine having arrived at last, I wanted to see how the 2009 Vinsobres "Les Cornuds" has turned out. Rather good, actually, although this was never really in doubt. Lovely black fruit (with a hint of red) and the inevitable tar/garrigue/herb characters too. Most important, you can drink this now although it will soften and round out over the next year or so and drink well for at least five years.