Posts Tagged ‘Gavi’
The June meeting of the Overton-based blind tasting group was the usual mix of fine bottles, some disappointments and perhaps the least good wine we have ever had (is that sufficiently polite?). And it was a large tasting – 17 bottles. While it is difficult to concentrate for that long (even for those of us who are committed ‘spitters’), this was partly due to some members bringing interesting pairs of wines to taste side by side. As always, the food at the Red Lion was excellent. The photos this month are on my IPhone so there are no technical issues to discuss, you will be pleased to hear!
|Wines 1 & 2 we agreed were in the old world. The Gavi di Gavi (ie Gavi from the commune of Gavi not just the DOCG as a whole), Minala 2009, was mid yellow in colour with a gold tint, quite warm on the palate, pleasant apples/pears fruit, balanced. Once we knew we were in Italy, I guessed Gavi. ‘Never more than pleasant’ says Oz Clarke, which is a bit harsh of a wine which can be dull but has some fine examples.|
|Much more fashionable is the Albariño grape from NW Spain, the Rías Baixas region bordering the Atlantic. Most wines are unoaked, to maximise the Viognier peaches/apricots aromas. But this producer has one barrique for a wine from 100 year old vines right by the sea. Albariño Barrica, Goliardo A Telleira, Albariño Rías Baixas 2009: richness is the key quality, ‘tinned peaches’ someone offers as a tasting note. For me, by the standards of a premium white wine, I am not sure there is quite enough going on.|
|It was not difficult to spot that this was Riesling – green apples and petrol notes on the nose, high acidity, some residual sugar. Most tasters thought it was new world, perhaps because of its assertiveness. In fact it was Domaines Schlumberger, Kitterlé, 2005, Alsace Grand Cru. The Kitterlé vineyard has perfect exposition getting sun from morning to night, on a slope of 30-60°, with poor and sandy soil, giving concentrated wines from very low yields. The wine was mineral and developing those characteristic petrol notes, a good weight, characteristic-ally fatter than the same grape variety across the border on the Rhine.|
It was a great idea to bring two wines from the same Meursault-Genevrières vineyard in Meursault, Burgundy, separated by eight years and produced by two different branches of the Jobard family.
Unfortunately, the Francois Jobard 2000 was suffering badly from that Burgundian disease, premature oxidisation – caramel and cardboard is not an attractive combination. The young wine (Antoine Jobard, 2008) had attractive limy fruit with excellent vitality.
|A rare moment in this group – a rosé and an unusual one, Harbourne, England, 2001 – and yes that’s not a misprint, it is 10 years old. Slight strawberry nose and then … ‘appears to lack any form of palate’ … ‘made in Scotland?’ ‘grape juice and Irnbru?’. Probably the worst wine we have tasted in this group and brought in jest by one of us who has a limitless supply of unusual bottles. Quite instructive nonetheless – we take fruit on the palate for granted until it’s not there.|
|Those with eagle eyes will see that the label still tells us that this is Ch. d’Angludet, AC Margaux, 1974. We of course did not know this at the time. A mushroomy nose, a rather sour palate and still some tannins. After about ten minutes some sweet raspberry/ strawberry fruit began to emerge, so it was well worth the wait. Impressive for Bordeaux of this level at this age in a poor vintage – the judgement, ‘mediocre’, from Michael Broadbent is quite kind.|
|This started with pronounced bottle stink so we parked it for ten minutes. Bottle stink was the consensus, not faulty, just not showing. Eventually some fruit emerged but this wine did not shine. Definitely a disappointment from Mommessin, Santenay, Burgundy, 1993. But there was much better Pinot Noir to follow, not that we knew that.|
|After the struggles with the last three bottles, this was straightforward pleasure – pale and fragrant and pretty obviously Pinot Noir, but quite weighty and structured. Most went for New Zealand but it turned out to be ‘Knox Alexander’, Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley, California, 2007. Some of the vines are Burgundian apparently, but the wine is definitely from a warm and reliable climate. Time for some food and give the note taking a rest.|
|Two new offerings from Caviste: Ch. Puy Castéra, Haut-Médoc 2008 and Domaine Cheveau, Saint Amour, Les Champs Grillés, Beaujolais 2010. No notes on either of these – but both good examples of Bordeaux and Beaujolais respectively – I did say I was having a rest from note taking.|
|For me this was the wine of the evening, pale ruby with a brick red edge, fresh on the nose but with a bit of ageing, violets and red fruit, but then a real vitality on the palate, great elegant tannic structure and fine acidity. I was in Pinot Noir territory thought the ‘pale colour + tannins’ should have pointed me to Nebbiolo: Barolo DOCG, Castiglione Falletto Scarrone, Bava, 2000 To decoded the label: from the Scarrone vineyard of the commune of Castiglione Falletto, immediately east of the town itself. The producer is Bava.|
|Another pair of wines, the first red, the second for comparison … white. Two young Australian classics just arrived in a very small consignment at Caviste. I don’t think anyone spotted the producer, Spinnifex with its Lola 2010 and Taureau 2008. The former is mainly a Rhône blend – Marsanne, Semillon, Roussanne, Viognier and Ugni Blanc – a really intense wine bursting with energy. The latter is Tempranillo, Graciano, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon – Rioja meets South and South West France in Australia? Buy now and do not drink yet!|
|With this final red, I knew what it wasn’t but not what it was. Ripe fruit, plums and damsons on the palate, deep in colour, rich with excellent acidity. After a few exclusions we agreed on Italy and some wanted to make this Sangiovese. Tuscany was a good guess but not that grape variety – too dark in colour at the very least. In fact it was a Super Tuscan Merlot: Girolami, Castello di Bossi, IGT Toscana, 2001. Late picked Merlot, 28 days of maceration, oak aged for two years – a powerful, forthright wine.|
|And finally … a sweet wine with a complex nose of apples, caramel, honey, not very acidic but balanced. No real clues here for Stefano Inama’s Vulcaia Aprés Veneto Bianco IGT, Vino Dolce 2001 – being late harvested Sauvignon Blanc (no less), part fermented in acacia barrels and then matured in barrels for 9 months. A suitable climax, and along with the Barolo, a favourite wine of the evening.|
After the Capezzana tasting, the riches of Decanter’s Italian day at the Landmark Hotel. This has to be the best one-day introduction to the Italian quality wine scene in the UK and maybe beyond. It’s big – with 86 listed producers – and pretty representative, 13 out of 20 regions present, with Sardinia a surprising absence. A third of producers are from Tuscany with 16 from Chianti alone, but then we all know about that English love affair.
Faced with these riches, you have to choose. Janet and I concentrated on filling in a few gaps from our recent Piemonte trip and of course some Tuscan friends. Here are some of the highlights.
This winery, between the communes of Barolo and La Morra, has a great range of wines and of single vineyard cru. It is particularly pleased to be expanding its holding in the important Cannubi vineyard from two to ten hectares, leasing the additional land from Marchesi di Barolo, which will give them 60% of the cru. The investment is eye-watering, with one hectare of Cannubi in the €2m range. And so is the responsibility of moving from 9,000 to 50,000 bottles of this wine per year.
Of the wines we particularly enjoyed Barolo Cannubi 2005, squeezed between two great vintages, now showing better than most expected, with a very rich, complex nose and dense fruit. But a good word has also to be put in for the Barbera d’Alba 2007 in a modern oaked style (40% new barriques), but a good depth of fruit and quite luxurious.
Michele Chiarlo, while being based in the Monferrato region, has important wines from many key areas of Piemonte – whites from the Roero and Gavi, Moscato, an interesting sparkling wine which we drank when we were in Alba, quality Barbera and of course Barolo and Barbaresco. The highlights included the premium Barbera, La Court, Barbera d’Asti Superiore ‘Nizza’ 2006. This wine, which from the 2008 vintage has acquired DOCG status, is treated like the top wine that it is – low yields of only 1 kg of grapes per plant, harvested late in the middle of October, half fermented and aged in larger 650 litre barrels, half aged for 12 months in barriques and then for a year in bottles. It shows brilliant dense fruit, complexity and typical great acidity, a powerful but balanced food wine. The wine received the Gambero Rosso’s top grade of ‘three glasses’ in this excellent vintage, as well as in 2000, 2001 and 2003. It’s great value too at €26 – just over half what you would expect to pay for a Nebbiolo based wine of similar quality. All the wines we tasted here were very good or excellent: Arneis Le Madri 2009 and Gavi di Gavi Rovereto 2009 were very good, Barbaresco 2006, Barolo Tortoniano 2005 and Barolo Cerequio 2005 were excellent.
So, so far on this football day, an early 2-0 lead to Piemonte.
Marchesi di Frescobaldi
In the Tuscany room, I noticed that Frescobaldi had bought a fine range of wines including top Brunello and Chianti. But there was also the chance to taste two Super Tuscans, which draw on the cultural and religious symbolism of the Mediterranean, Lucente and Luce. From these bottles beams the sun rays in embossed golden splendour – can the wines live up to this? Lucente 2007 – the affordable option – has very good medium weight fruit, good counterbalancing acidity, a decent second level Super Tuscan. Luce 2006, a 50/50 Sangiovese/Merlot divide, spends two years in barriques and emerges with deep, dense, colour and aroma (prunes and cherries, balsam), great fruit (the Merlot of course to the fore) and lively acidity (Sangiovese makes its mark). Perhaps a wine for tasting rather than drinking, but an excellent achievement nonetheless.
Having tasted this company’s top Vernaccia di San Gimignano at Vinitaly, I was keen to catch up with at least the other whites in the range from this producer. Maria Elisabetta Fagiuoli introduced the wines herself and fully justified the company’s slogan Sono Montenidoli – ‘I am Montenidoli’, or rather less likely, ‘They (the wines) are Montenidoli’. This part of Tuscany is the product a great prehistoric salt-water sea, a land of fossil filled limestone which can produce whites of real character.
The Vernaccia tradizionale 2007 is the product of long maceration on the skins and has very good complexity on the nose though it is rather flatter on the palate. I love this style but if you prefer something cleaner, more fruit led, then there is Vernaccia Fiore 2007, with freshness and even delicacy, some fruit, pleasurable drinking. Il Templare 2007 is a real marmite wine (Gambero Rosso agrees: these wines don’t leave you indifferent …): 70% Vernaccia, 20% Trebbiano gentile, 10% Malvasia bianca, a distinctly cheesy opening, then herbaceous notes, nice texture, good lemon and melon fruit. We also enjoyed Canaiuolo 2007, the unusual rosé made from Canaiolo, a Tuscan grape usually relegated to being a blender with Sangiovese. Here it produces a nicely balanced, quite floral wine for summer drinking.
Dutch investment, French know-how and biodynamic agriculture is the package at this very contemporary venture, near Riparbella close to the Tuscan coast. Dominique Génot remembered us from our visit on a tempestuously rainy day in May 2007 and judging by the wines, since then things have gone from strength to strength. A fine sweet wine and a dry white have been added to the entry level if excellent Pergolaia (90% Sangiovese) and the top wine, Caiarossa. The grape mix for the latter sets new standards for a multi-grape wine in Tuscany – you could be in the southern Rhône: around 20% each of Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, plus 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, with small amounts of Alicante, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Mourvèdre. Or to put it another way, that’s 40% Bordeaux, 30% Rhône and 30% Tuscany. The show offered three vintages:
Caiarossa 2004: is now beautifully knit together, with a fabulous nose of ripe fruit and savoury wood, rich in texture, complex, satisfying.
Caiarossa 2005: squeezed between two great vintages, this shows more herbaceous notes but still very creditable.
Caiarossa 2006: do not drink this wine yet! Not that there is anything wrong with it but it is going to be outstanding with its great depths of fruit, zippy acidity, so much potential – currently very young.
Oro di Caiarossa 2006 and 2007: late harvested Petit Manseng, slow strong pressing of whole bunches, two days of cool maceration, then barrel fermented for eight months. A delicious sweet white with apple and nut flavours. The 2006 shows some oxidation (there are risks in that long slow fermentation), the 2007 is exactly what the maker intended: a sweet wine with freshness, notes of acacia honey, good fruit, very good.
We left the tasting early – me for football reasons, Janet heroically filled in the time shopping. The cup final, which looked like it could be a mismatch between the top and bottom teams of the Premier League, exceeded expectation with a match full of incident and interest: competitive, lots of goal mouth incident, bad tackles, two missed penalties. Chelsea ran out 1-0 winners but somebody ought to explain to them that the ball is supposed to go between the posts, you don’t get any points for hitting post or bar. To complete the perfect Italian weekend in England, the winning cup final manager was of course an Italian.
As Janet and I had been in Piemonte but not got to the Gavi area, we made bee-line for the home of the Cortese grape at Vinitaly 2010. This massive wine fair allows you taste some of the real specialities (and peculiarities) of Italy and that includes some little known sparkling wines. Here the focus will be on two little known sparklers, from the Gavi (South East Piemonte) and Franciacorta (Lombardia) areas.
Generally, Gavi has a reputation a bit like Soave – rather a basic, mass produced white wine, popular in the past with Italian restaurants, with a few good exceptions which only wine buffs know about. La Scolca, or Soldati La Scolca to give it its full name, have always held out for quality and especially for the steep rise in interest which bottle ageing brings to good Gavi. The company has just celebrated 90 years so it clearly has done some things right.
All of La Scolca’s whites are made exclusively from the native Cortese grape. The entry level Gavi 2009 is a fresh, moderately fruity wine, well made without being very attention seeking. Gavi di Gavi 2009 must come from the commune of Gavi is not itself a big jump up in quality but is much more persistent in its flavour. By contrast the selection Gavi di Gavi D’Antan 2000 is a revelation. First of all it is made from the best grapes in good years only, secondly it has the benefits of a decade of ageing. It has a pronounced nose of pears and melon fruit, then a strong lime streak. In the mouth it is a quite a big, structured wine, with great persistence. The company has these older bottles to sell, in this case at €35. You can suddenly taste what all the fuss is about.
La Scolca have also made a speciality of sparkling versions of Gavi. The great majority of Italian sparklers are tank fermented which is a cheaper process and preserves the freshness of the fruit for wines for drinking young. By contrast La Scolca’s wines are all metodo classico, ie second fermentation in the bottle, like Champagne, and all are from individual vintages. The Metodo Classico 2006 has a honeyed nose with good fruit and fairly modest yeast notes. It has a noticeable bitter finish – highly prized in Italian food and wine but not to everyone’s taste. The Metodo Classico riserva 2002 is a pale straw colour with a green tint and has really benefitted from its seven years on the yeast in the bottle – a much more complex nose, lovely yeasty, patisserie notes followed by plenty of delicious fruit. Better again is the D’Antan riserva 1998, which has spent a full eleven years on the yeasts of the secondary fermentation in its bottle. The nose is yet more sophisticated and the wine is beautifully smooth in the mouth – a real treat.
Brief aside – all wine bottles are difficult to photograph successfully because of the light reflecting off the bottle. But this bulbous shape takes the biscuit. Every single one of my general ‘whole bottle’ shots has my reflection in it – just to prove I was there! Low angle next time.
This starts out as a pale salmon pink and ages to this rather lovely apricot. D’Antan rosato 1998 shows the influence of even this tiny addition of Pinot Noir with some more (now very rounded out) raspberry fruit, altogether a class act.
Just over one hundred miles North East, the other side of Milan is the Franciacorta area. I was cheered to read in Tom Hyland’s Vinitaly blog that one of the reasons he gives for going to this wine fair is Franciacorta. Where else can you try these quality sparklers, so prized in knowledgeable Italian circles, so unknown elsewhere? Basically the wine comes from a zone in Lombardy, near Brescia, is made from the same grapes as Champagne, by the same method, and costs much the same price. But the style is rather different, no doubt because of the geology plus the warmer weather. There is a market out there for a Champagne style wine but with richer, more mature fruit, but cracking it will be a huge challenge. In the meantime it is one to search out.
This time we tasted wines from just two growers, the first of whom makes just one wine. Santus is a new venture between two agronomists who pay tribute to their vine/wine consultant, Alessio Dorigo, who they charmingly describe as rigoroso spumantista! With their ‘precision bubble maker’ the two of them have done a great job in producing something really rather distinctive, in comparison with the fresh, subtle but fruity, sparkling wines, typical of the zone. A key difference is their practice of keeping the grapes on the vines for 10 days or so after full maturity. 10% of the wine has been aged in old barriques and all the wine is kept in its bottles on the lees for 21 months. This produces a wine strawy yellow in colour with a rich, extracted palate and a dry finish. A very promising debut and we look forward to the rosé which will appear in the future.
We then enjoyed the wines of Bredasole, a more typical Franciacorta company with five sparkling wines. These are classic Franciacorta – around two years in the bottles during the second fermentation producing nice yeasty flavours above ripe fruit (Brut 2007). By contrast the Satèn (2007) style is made from white grapes only (in this case 100% Chardonnay) and has slightly less pressure. It has a delicate nose, and lovely subtle fruit. The most ‘serious’ of the five, is Nature 2006, which is a blend of Chardonnay (50%), Pinot Nero (30%) and Pinot Blanc (20%), spends an impressive three years in bottles in the second fermentation stage and has no balancing sugar/alcohol added at the end. The yeast notes are beautiful and pronounced as is the excellent fruit. Two party pieces follow – a rosé and a medium dry version. The former – Rosé 2007 - is the palest apricot pink, the product of the freshly pressed grape juice being held with the Pinot Noir skins for just 2-3 hours. Nice raspberry fruit, entirely dry finish. By contrast Demì starts out life as a rather more acidic base wine but with higher dosage, so more sugar added to offset the acidity. In the mouth the sweetness-acidity balance is good, definitely sweet but not at all sickly. Would be excellent with patisserie. This is a really good range at decent prices – but sadly not available in the UK.
And finally, a part of the Piemontese wine scene that is massively undervalued, the lovely, quite sweet, sparkling Moscato. It’s a classic which gets little attention because it’s not ‘important’, ie at least one of expensive, fashionable, or in need of long ageing. But it is straightforwardly delicious, full of flavour (it actually tastes of grapes, how strange is that) and low in alcohol. Perfect for tea time (how English!), for picnics, for celebrations, for desserts.