Posted by: jmbwineblog | January 24, 2013

Forza Piemonte 3 Parte 2: A full day of drifting…

… through the foothills to a great selection of wines.

It has been a while since I posted last, but that is due to various other commitments, but that surely shouldn’t detract from what is about to come to the fore. We had a good sleep after a rich meal, and spent a good amount of time over a hearty breakfast, and taking our trusty mutt (Boris, you might have seen him around the blog) for a walk before we were off to our first appointment at the wonderful but staunchly modern, Luciano Sandrone!

Plenty of Silk

We arrived in good time in a slightly remote area on the outskirts of Barolo village where there seems to be… well… absolutely nothing, except for the modern and pristine winery of Azienda Agricola Luciano Sandrone. However, the winery is still to some extent a building site, but more to conduct the final manicures and pedicures on parts of the building so that people like us and other tourists don’t get sneezy from all the sawdust! By the time you read this, they will most definitely have finished and will be running on all cylinders. We were met by, Barbera Sandrone (Luciano’s daughter) who gave us a whistle-stop tour of the winery and cellars, before we tasted through all of the wines that Luciano and his younger brother Luca produce.

Waiting to get in and do some sampling!

Waiting to get in and do some sampling!

Sandrone produces roughly 95 thousand bottles, and uses mainly tonneau (500 litre barrels, of which some are new and some old), and there are a few barriques for the lesser wines such as Dolcetto and Barbera to soften in. We tasted just four wines here, but they were good and impressive.

2010 Barbera d’Alba; [this sees 50-55% new wood, and spends 14 months in barrel before bottling]: smoke, earth, cherry and plum, chocolate, ash, wood spice, leather, meaty and structured and perhaps a touch disjointed at this juncture. A wood finish, ink, iron and oak. This needs a bit of time to pull itself together but it has all the necessary components to mature. 58-60+?/100

2010 Nebbiolo d’Alba “Valmaggiore”; [this spends 14 months in old tonneau before resting in bottle for a year, grapes from the famous vineyard of Roero]; dense and powerful with plenty of woodspice, roses, tar and strawberry. Raspberry lingers as well. Poised and fresh with plenty of structure, however the wine has some lift and zip with delicate soft fruits , but at present the wine seems a touch dominated by wood and extract. Smoke, leather, ash and tobacco, with some dusty chocolate. Once fully integrated and pulled together, it should show well… 61-63+/100

2008 Barolo “Le Vigne”; [the traditional four vineyard blend]; perfume, nail varnish, flowers, roses, elegant and supremely soft tannins showing lovely freshness, again wood and tannin dominate the finish. Strawberry, herbs, elegant and long, this wine seems to constantly evolve showing dusty, meaty, ash and tobacco with time. The length is excellent, soft and balanced. 69-71+/100

2008 Barolo “Cannubi Boschis”; pure, elegant, creamy, silky, tar and roses, plum, strawberry, beguiling and haunting perfume with lovely herby length. Cherry, smoke and sandstone, more delicate than the other wines, but showing plenty of depth and concentrated fruit. Dusty, clay, minerals, with more precision and less imposing tannins and wonderful length. 74-77+/100

Getting involved with the wines...

Getting involved with the wines…

Other than the Cannubi Boschis, the wines left me slightly cold if I am completely honest. Whilst all the components were in place, and there was plenty of reason to be positive about the age-ability of the wines for my liking, they all seemed a touch dominated by tannins at this stage. However, the Cannubi Boschis had a wonderful balance and ethereal nature that hints at a long future ahead. That isn’t to say that the wines are bad; far from it… it is simply that they did not WOW me in the way that other wines have and I’m sure will do. As an early marker however, the fact that the disjointed components were in balance and simply needed to integrate to show more class, shows that both 2010 and 2008 are looking like very successful vintages in Piemonte for Barolo.

Next up we had a bit of a merry-go-round journey to find our appointment, simply to find that the producer had a sudden emergency to deal with… we thus headed down the road to conduct an impromptu tasting at what was a new producer for me, but a visit that would be enlightening in various different ways at Silvano Bomida.

Going around the Mulberry-bush.

We were meant to have an appointment with Giacomo Fennochio and we had some trouble finding the place on the outskirts of Monforte d’Alba nearby to Poderi Aldo Conterno, and we could only find one man washing his car on the roads. We must have asked him directions about 4 times, and eventually arrived only to find that Giacomo was nowhere to be seen. He had to go and see to his daughter at school suddenly, but did mention that we could visit at any other time. As such, Birger, seemed to have a funny feeling that he had met the man who gave us directions at a trade tasting in Denmark… it was indeed Silvano Bomida and we were whisked into the the winery to taste through a mini-vertical of various Nebbiolo’s and experiments, that made this one of the most exciting visits of the trip, and completely out of the blue for us, the wines were quite magical.

Silvano drawing samples from his barrels...

Silvano drawing samples from his barrels…

Silvano started his winery in 1999 and like many others is a trained oenologist who has special dispensation from the University in Alba to experiment beyond the bounds of what is known. Of course, the Barolo’s are kept within the guidelines of the DOCG, but with some of the other wines, we see some interesting, and given the terroir and Silvano’s attention to detail and understanding that the wines should be pleasurable to drink, quirks in the winemaking. The main areas of experimentation is with when to crush the grapes and the results are analysed for the University courses. For example, all the wines are fermented and go straight to malolactic fermentation whilst still in contact with the skins. So as an example, he has some Barbera that has seen over 60 days of maceration, and Nebbiolo/Barolo that has seen 95 days. The general analysis is that by about 30 days you see the most colour extract, and due to slight oxidation, from 70 days onwards the colour reduces, but the nose and tannins are much cleaner. The extract becomes less of an issue the longer one macerates (for Silvano) as one can see that the difference from 70 to 80 days, is much less than the difference between 10 and 20. To keep these differences constant in his experiments, battonage occurs once a week for the duration of the maceration. Of course, for further experimentation these may change over time, but Silvano knows which one he prefers for his Baroli (over 60 days). All the wines are aged in Tonneau or Barrique, but all are very old and made from reconstituted wood. To be fair, if the winery was bigger, he would probably only use botti, but given the issues of space, one can understand the use of these smaller but much older woods.

Some of the different rocks that make up the soil in Bussia and Fantini

Some of the different rocks that make up the soil in Bussia and Fantini

Thus it was onto the wines, which all showed purity and complexity married to vibrant freshness.

2011 Barbera d’Alba “Conca del Grillo”; [cask sample]; meaty, soft, red and black plum, cherry, wood spice, rounded, balanced and with lively freshness, good length and plenty of intensity and concentration. Clean and effervescent. 64+/100

2011 Nebbiolo [cask sample of grapes from Barolo Bussia; by this stage it had seen four months in wood]; pretty, perfumed, roses, clay and minerals with grippy dusty tannins, quite bold in terms of flavour, with a fruity and earthy finish. Plenty of herbsm elegant and very Pinot like, some wood and light concentration showing plenty of strawberry fruit. This is showing excellent potential. 63-67+/100

2010 Barolo “Bussia”; [cask sample, this wine had seen the minimum barrel ageing to be Barolo, but being a traditionalist at heart but due to constraints not by trade, it will remain in barrel for a further 12 months]; rose, rosebush, poised and precise, less obvious vibrant fruit but with good intensity, minerals, tar, raspberry, plum, herbs, mint, balanced with excellent freshness, small classically dusty tannins, sandstone, limestone, clay and a very long finish. This is really pure, elegant, dusty and structure with a slight ashy note. A real beauty in the making. 72-75+/100

2009 Barolo “Bussia” Riserva; [cask sample, as with the 2010, this has seen the minimum required time in barrel, but will remain for the final year in barrel rather than bottle]; herbs, mint with purity and elegance but also with obvious fruit on a darker spectrum with much more structure. Herbs, roses, tarry, richer and rounder with excellent length and a lot more power, perhaps a touch less mineral and less complex, it lacks the vitality of the 2010 but it will certainly be a crowd-pleaser. 69-73+/100

2008 Barolo “Vigne dei Fantini”; [from bottle], smelly, rustic, sandstone and a round structure, round pure fruit, red fruits, minerals, salt and salinity, rosebush, with soft tannins and loveable freshness, with pure and elegant length. A very long and precise/mineral style, truffles, plum, cherry, quite wonderful. 73+/100

2007 Barolo “Bussia”; [from bottle]; milky, lactic, dust and clay, minerals, rocks, tar, coffee, more dark fruits but still with a soft elegance, gritty berried structure, strawberry and tannins, perhaps a touch shut down, good freshness, lots of strawberry purity with some funk and earthy aromas and a very pleasant finish. 70-73+?/100

2006 Barolo “Bussia Riserva”; [from bottle]; smoke, clay, tea leaf, powerfully structured and with lots of weight. Classically styled, tar, roses, wild strawberry, gritty, earthy and mineral with a long black fruit, cocoa finish. Intense and complex but not showing all its character just yet. Should be super!! 76-79+/100 

The wine that shows both seriousness and fun...

The wine that shows both seriousness and fun…

The next wine is a real hotch-potch of winemaking experimentation. A blend of 60% Nebbiolo and 40% Barbera. All the grapes are harvested at the same time and blended pre-fermentation. The ferment is Carbonic and lasts for fifteen days. 15% is whole bunch, 15% is destemmed, and the rest is crushed and added as free run juice with skins. Of course, this may change as the needs of the experiment change, and the 40% new wood (i.e. old but recently reconstituted barrels) is used on this.

2010 Langhe Frales: fresh, elegant, roses, chocolate, floral, clay, lime and minerals, pure and long loveable length with hints of grit and ash, with plenty of tobacco as well. Roses, tar, black plum and really lovely. 66-68+/100

A new producer for all of us, and it really was a pleasure with plenty of class in the wines, and a distinct character to the style. Definitely something to look out for and to enjoy. Next it was to lunch before a tasting that we all looked forward to, but somehow, we were also left a touch dissappoined by… We have heard that with the new winemaking regime, things are on the up and back to the way they were. Visits in the future will show us if it is true and we shall see exactly but for now, a short snippet from Bruno Giacosa.

Walking into the Factory

In comparison to some of the producers we visit, the big boys, from whom I’ve tasted some absolutely fantastic wines in the past, are veritable factories. It is with these “big” producers where one sees the wine that spreads across the globe, and whilst we may have expectations that dampen the experience, I doubt that we can ever experience enlightenment of the new and the undiscovered, but you can always see the quality of the vines, and that the winemaking and production is sound… however, you always wander whether one can really gain true value unless that wines are transcendental! In the past you could say this would occur, but now, there are so many great producers, and where the grapes were bought in in the past (Casa Vinicola Bruno Giacosa), many of these key growers make their own wines now, and thus the big boys lose out, unless they have full control of the vines (Az. Agr. Falletto). Regardless, these are still excellent wines, but I wander whether they are really as good as their historical reputation demands.

There is no need to introduce the wines of Giacosa and for me I have tasted some fabulous examples with considerable bottle age. Many I know will say that the wines were too young, but many were just bottled and these should be pre-shut down, and thus show their spots… I hope I’m wrong in terms of their ageability as I’d hate for many who buys these wines to be dissappointed.

The stainless steel tanks.

The large botti…

We were given our tour by the current oenologist who started in 2010 called Francesco, and we hear that the wines he has overseen since his arrival are showing wonderfully from barrel. The wines we tasted were all from the post-2006 to 2009 (for me at least) limbo period where things didn’t hit the heights that one becomes accustomed to. What is interesting about the production here however, is that the majority of the wine they produce is their Roero Arneis, accounting for 25% of production.

2011 Roero Arneis; wax, lanolin, lemon, limes, fresh and nicely balanced with lovely nutty notes and hints of butter, a hint of fur, nice poise and elegance, a touch of yeastiness, a bit of salinity, green apple, clay. Nice but perhaps a touch flacid. 54+/100

2006 Spumante Extra Brut; [this spends 4 months on the lees and is 100% Pinot Noir]; earth, soil, big fast bubbles, baby vomit, bread, yeast, slightly aggressive acidity, lots of strawberry and dark plum, nice freshness and burnt toast mousse, chalk, rotting apple, meat, bacon fat, leather, complex and appealing but somehow more intriguing that pleasurable. 60+/100

2011 Dolcetto d’Alba; bubblegum, elegant, cherry, poised, balanced but a touch cloyed despite the huge amounts of perfume; it lacks zip and acidity with black fruits, cocoa, earth and soil. The finish is pleasant and easy but the palate, and end doesn’t live up to the beguiling lifted nose. 58-61/100

2009 Barbaresco “Asili”; [Az. Agr. Falletto]; rich, sweet, roses, wild strawberry, dark cherry, deep, brooding, sweet, perfumed, soft, elegant and very easy to drink. Damsons, flowers, plum jam, sweet nose, but balanced and poised, a hint of dust and earth, truffle, minerals, herbs, loveable but it doesn’t feel vital and exciting, cassis, mure-liquer, wood polish and complexity. 63-65/100

2007 Barbaresco “Asili” Riserva; [Az. Agr. Falletto]; bonfire, smoke, flint, wild raspberry, orange peel, spice, cherry, poised and fairly ripe but with good freshness, silky, round, velvety, balanced and subtle with hints of mushroom and white truffle, again slightly sweet. Quite subdued on the finish but very very elegant. 66-69+/100

2007 Barolo “Falletto”; [Az. Agr. Falletto]; cocoa, dusty, dense and powerful, sous bois, herbs, rosemary, concentrated and complex, tobacco, tar, rosebush, wild plum, cherry, strawberry jam, delicate, subtle and submissive but remaining mouth-coating and complex, very long and in need of time to unfurl. Smoke, soil, minerals, iron and strangely Japanese pear. 72-75+/100

One of the Riservas showing its stuff.

One of the Riservas showing its stuff.

Whilst, one can not deny the quality of winemaking and the quality of the soils that Giacosa has access to, one could say that there was certainly dissappointment in the air after this tasting. I can only hope that with the new oenologist and with seamingly an end to the tensions post 2006, we will see a return to true form from this great estate, but for me, I’d be backfilling with pre-2006 wines, at least until the 2010 vintage comes online for the Barolos and Barbarescos. Next we would climb into the hills to visit a staunch modernist and pioneer of the modern winemaking movement in Piemonte, Azienda Agricola Fratelli Cigliuti.

Back into the Hills.

Cigliuti are based up on the steeper hills that surround the town of Neive where Bruno Giacosa is based. The estate dates back to the early part of the century when Renato’s father and brothers grew grapes and sold them in bulk. Upon taking over in the early 60s, Renato started bottling the wines himself and followed a more modernist path, that is to some extent (I’d say they are modern but verging towards the middle ground) followed by Renato’s daughters Claudia and Silvia today.

Looking at Bricco di Neive towards Fabrizio Ressia's winery.

Looking at Bricco di Neive towards Fabrizio Ressia’s winery.

The family own 1.5 hectares of vines in Bricco di Neive, and 5 hectares in Serraboella. They grow Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. Renato was a green harvest pioneer, and the estate barrel their wines in tonneau, barrique and botti, with the generic wines and Barbera tending to spend more time in barrique and the single vineyard wines seeing botti and tonneau. The maceration (in a rotary fermentor) and fermentation times are where the modernism really kicks in, with the Dolcetto seeing 5 days, Barbera seeing 8 to 12 days, and the Nebbiolo spending 12 to 18 days in contact with the skins. The estate produces roughly 30,000 bottles.

2009 Barbera d’Alba “Campass”; [50% of the wine sees new barrique, and the vines come from a subsection fo Serraboella called Campass]; perfume, purity, clay, limestone and minerals, cherry, chocolate, dark and red plum, fruit pastil, concentration, clean and elegant with just the slightest lick of wood spice on the palate but still balanced and very nearly fully integrated. Soft and long with a finish of herbs, mint, smoke and tobacco. Really super but obviously modern. 67-70+/100

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo; [10 months in oak, from young vines in Bricco di Neive]; perfumed, elegant, roses, raspberry, truffle, tar, flowers, strawberry, cherry, soft and elegant, delicate, balanced with hints of leather, pure, saline, pebbles, dusty tannins, bold but soft structure with nice freshness, and a herbs, mint, fire and chilli spice finish. A really serious wine. 68+/100

2008 Barbaresco “Vigna Erte”; [26 months in oak, from 11 year old vines in Bricco di Neive]; smoke, leather, tar, truffle, soft and round, elegant and poised with good freshness, roses, rosewater, herbs, raw tobacco leaf, nice length but a touch simple and overtly flamboyant, spice and elegance but a showy teeneager, dusty and poised but it has just a tad too much youthful exhuberance (for want of a better word). 65-67+/100

2008 Barbaresco “Serraboella”; [from 25 to 55 year old vines of chalky soils]; round, complex, perfumed and restrained, beguiling, plum, cherry, tar, rosebush, bramble and raspberry, herbs, mint and lots of freshness. Deep and complex, powerful and silky but with subtlety and restraint with hints of white truffle. This is really wonderful. 71-74+/100

The various barrels holding their wines

The various barrels holding their wines

The wines here are unashamedly modern and there is no way, from the rotary fermentor to the silky nature of the wines, that you could call them traditional, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t superb wines. The problem I have is; will they improve and become more complex and haunting with age? We tried a bottle of 1998 Barbaresco “Serraboella”; [opened on the Tuesday before our Friday visit to allow it to open]; smoke, bonfire, must, sous bois, stewed plum, roasted coffee, but with strawberry, roses, tea leaf, roasted herbs, still with some structure and poise, but perhaps a touch simple, flint, burnt matches… it will age further, but I doubt it will get better than this. 69-71/100 and it made me think that perhaps these are wines that will show most of their character when fairly young. That however, is not necessarily a bad thing, and although our next visit was laid back, we were to view another group of early drinkers, but made in a more traditional style at Fratelli Grasso.

Keeping it in the family

Fratelli Grasso are run by two bothers, with a laid back attitude and a general ease about what they do and how they do it. Luigi and Alfredo make wines using fairly long macerations and a mixture of old barrique and botti. The wines are delicate but have rich textured fruit and there is plenty of elegance and structure to these ethereally perfumed wines. They produce fifty thousand bottles on average every vintage.

Giving us a view of the lovely Chardonnay's.

Giving us a view of the lovely Barbera.

2011 Langhe Chardonnay; fur, animal and buttery, good balance and elegance, classic, rich and long. 62/100

2006 Langhe Chardonnay barrique; [the ferment and barrel ageing occur in barrique, from the Settembrino vineyard], smoke, wax and lanolin. Lifted and perfumed, bread, yeast, lemon, crisp, poised and complex. 71/100

2011 Dolcetto d’Alba; [this wine only sees stainless steel]; plum, chocolate, cocoa, with poise and precision and the mildest hint of complexity. Nice length, rich and with an impressive power underlying the whole wine. 69-71/100

2009 Barbera d’Alba “Matine”; plum, strawberry, very fruit driven, poised but whilst very soft and easy, there is decent complexity here. Herbs, dark plum, cherry and a very long finish of minerals and wet rocks. 66+/100

2008 Langhe Nebbiolo; tar, roses, smoke and a touch of banana, plum, rosebush, wild raspberry and plenty of structure. Fruit driven, classic but at the same time easy and long. 66+/100

2007 Barbaresco “San Stunet”; smoke, tar, roses, rosebush, truffle nose, the palate is slightly subdued, structured and classic, deep, showing lots of cassis, it is really mouthcoating, and very long with a hidden depth and complexity. 68+/100

2007 Barbaresco “Bricco Spessa”; truffle, mushroom and sandstone. Much more complex and more poise here, with plenty of flowers, and a perfume of roses, tar, truffles and density, however there is a lot of elegance as well. Herbs, plum, soft, balanced and depp with a long cocoa and mineral finish. 70+/100

2005 Barbaresco “Sori Valgrande”; sous bois, herbs, wild strawberry, roses, decaying leaves, herbs, spice, tobacco, mint and a good structure. Very very classic, perfumed and dusty. 69+/100

2000 Barbaresco “Sori Valgrande”; roses, tar, tarmac, raspberry and plum, fully resolved, elegant, perfumed and plenty of truffle, white mushroom and wild strawberry, nicely poised with good elegance and a light resolved texture, balance, meaty, leather, tobacco,leaves, dried herbs and a very long finish. 70/100

Sitting, enjoying the wines and the weather.

Sitting, enjoying the wines and the weather.

The wines here are elegant and perfumed, and there is plenty of beauty within them. They will never be the most complex wines, and they are not the most ageworthy; a magnum of 1996 Sori Valgrande drunk recently was fully mature, and has nowhere to go, (it was a brilliant bottle of wine). However, the wines show a charactar and have a laid back feel to them. Very much mirroring their makers attitude and laid back approach. The scores are vaguely similar to those wines that one has seen from me, but the quality isn’t as high. However, they are genuinely cheap wines, and gain points because they certainly punch well above their weight… for the quality, complexity and drinkability, I think it is hard to find a better producer in the whole of the Langhe. Next it was off to Trattoria Risorgimento for our escape to what is the official declaration of the new Barbaresco vintage, Barbaresco a Tavola.

A ripe old mix

Before I get into the wines that we tasted (all blind), I will say a few words about the 2009 vintage in Barbaresco. The vintage was a warm to hot one like 2007 and the wines show plenty of fresh fruit and richness, however unlike 2007 (where everything we tasted had been fruit forward but also contained a structure that means the wines were beautifully balanced) there was a distinct lack of real depth and structure in these 2009 creations. Very few were balanced and appealing in the way that many could have been. My gripe with 2008 to some extent still stands, although only with Barbaresco where the wines were variable and disjointed. Their saving grace is that the components are there in the best wines and need to pull themselves together, although that white peach/banana note is still present in a good many of the wines. With 2009 the lack of structure makes me think that the wines will (except the very best) become a touch flabby and dull. There isn’t enough zip to make me think that the differences in quality at this stage will even themselves out… once again, who is to say! The food here was good, and classically hearty. Never showy, it was very much homecooking in style.

A classy bit of Carne Crude!

A classy bit of Carne Cruda!

Carlo Giacosa; Barbaresco; earthy, round and delicate, very easy, earthy and mineral length, with some nice depth. 60/100

Francone, Neive;ripe, poised, delicate and subtle and shy, long but not jumping out at you, smoke and herbs. 59/100

La Ganghija; Treiso; dusty, deep, dark, woody and tannic, a bit of a monster despite pleasant length. 57/100

Fattoria San Giulano, Neive; soft, round, powerful, dusty, herby, plum, cassis and a touch disjointed. 58+?/100

Socre, Barbaresco; modern, vanilla, bold but delicate, subdued and quite sappy. 59/100

Giuseppe Negro, Neive; perfume, tar, rose, elegant and subtle but long with fruit and minerals. 68/100

Cantina del Pino, Barbaresco; earth, truffle, strawberry, rounded and delicate, herbs but unfortunately a touch short. 61/100

Fratelli Grasso, Treiso; smoke, minerals, perfume, elegant, pure, strawberries, structured and dusty, ashy length. 63/100

Luigi Giordano, Barbaresco; pure, fresh, elegant, subtle, restrained and appealing. Perhaps too reserved but a lovely wine with classic poise. 69+/100

Cascina Occellini, Treiso; rich, round, powerful, nice freshness, dusty tannins, herbs, elegance, complex, long and beguiling. 67+/100

Prunotto, Barbaresco; grilled meat, herbs, balanced with tar and roses palate, long, deep and complex. 70+/100

Michele Chiarlo, Barbaresco; smoke, ash, round, ripe fruit, herbs, leaves, wild strawberry and very impressive. 68+/100

Cascina Longoria, Neive; strawberry, leaves, herbs, dusty and soft structure. Decent but quite short. 60/100

Adriano, Neive; delicate, perfumed, strawberry, dust, ash, roses, spicey and persistant. 68+/100

Cascina Morassino, Barbaresco; round, ripe and a touch sappy and spicy. Decent but there is some volatile acidity here. 57/100

Mauro Bussi, Treiso; soft, tropical, strawberry, limestone, restrained, gritty and salty, quite disjointed. 58/100

Musso, Barbaresco; spicy, powerful, plum, wood and spice, disjointed and dominated by wood. 48/100

Piazzo, San Rocco; crisp, poised, a touch ashy and spicy, perfume, roses but very difficult to drink right now, it should age really well. 66-70+/100

La Berchialla, Barbaresco; round fruit, roses, cherry, strawberry, bold but somehow dull. Nice length but not exciting. 55/100

Giorgio Pelissero, Treiso; roasted herbs, strawberry, tar, roses, bold, sweet, dusty tannin, structured, bit and in need of a lot of time. 63++/100

Discussing the vintage style before the tasting.

Discussing the vintage style before the tasting.

All these wines were tasted blind, and looking back at notes from 2007 (my 20 point scores ranged from 14 to 20; i.e. everything was good to great), 2008 (11 to 18; some excellent but some not so, but with potential to improve), 2009 (with a range of 11 to 18.5) had more good wines in total than 2008 at this stage, which is probably due to the fruitier style and the fact that those with structure where quite complete, whereas in 2008 they were more disjointed but could pull together. This is not to say that some wines may not pull around, but given that everyone was discussing a similar style of vintage to 2007, and the best are very much comparable, it was decidedly underwhelming, but then Barbaresco does generally seem to be more variable than either Barolo and Roero (where the 08s are superb), and so there is certainly a quality and style to the vintage. Once again, time will tell if these wines will outlive my opinions or not. 😉

Also please note, that these scores are for wines that are either just bottled or were still in barrel, so the scores are in context of comparison rather than a sense of overall quality.

It was then off to bed, as we had three visits on Saturday and then a long drive back to Beaune the next day!

One of the amazing views of the rolling foothills!

One of the amazing views of the rolling foothills!

Until next time.

Happy Drinking!

Posted by: jmbwineblog | November 6, 2012

Forza Piemonte 3 Parte 1; Returning to the Foothills!

It is has been a little while since I last posted on this blog, but that is mainly due to the fact that I have been very busy with various different projects, and whilst I did promise you a book review and some other bits and pieces, it has been too long since our annual trip to Piemonte, and I just felt that I have to get the trip written down…

it was too much of a joy, and contained too many gems in terms of visits to wait any longer.

One Long Road Trip.

This year, rather than flying in, we took a fairly leisurely drive down to Piemonte, and annoyingly this created a few problems. Namely that there was an enormous queue at the Tunnel de Frejus that connects France and Italy near Modane in the Savoie. As such we missed the first appointment at Az. Agr. Giacomo Conterno , but luckily our friend were there and were able to tell me all about how the 2005 Monfortino is absolutely stunning. 😦 , this didn’t dampen our appetites and our trusty mutt was happy to be in new surroundings, so we had a quick snack and moved swiftly on to our next appointment at a new name for me, Poderi Elia.

The Vines of Poderi Elia!

The Wrong Appointment

As it so happens, Poderi Elia wasn’t the producer where we had intended to undertake our appointment, but it wasn’t until many months later that this was discovered. This year we will most certainly visit the correct Cantine, not that the visit wasn’t enjoyable and the winery isn’t wrong, they just are not Az. Agr. Elia… more that the organisers had become confused!! 😉

The wines at Poderi Elia are certainly are most certainly made in a modern style, which was described to us after visiting the vineyards that sit just behind the Cantine in Neive. In general, the Barbera and Nebbiolo see an average of 14 to 15 months in oak, although some botti is used in the Barbera. All other grapes only spend their days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, which maintains the freshness and acidity that these wines so often require. Poderi Elia produce roughly 40-50 thousand bottles per vintage and the wines are certainly well made and of high quality. In fact, they quite often lift themselves above their oak content.

The Wines

2010 Dolcetto d’Alba; rich, plum and chocolate, with plenty of zip and a pleasant freshness, lots of fruit with poise and depth. Perhaps even a touch subdued and brooding. Some herbs, sap, extraction and power, with a nice restrained finish showing sandstone, minerals and graphite. 60+/100

2010 Barbera d’Alba; [spending 14-15 months in botti, this wine comes from 40 year old vines, and could be called a “Superiore” due to its oaking]; perfumed, lifted, elegant red and black fruits, gritty, herby and with a subtle elegant finish, dusty, linear, rich and powerful backbone of structure with a smoke and tobacco infused finish that starts to beguile with time in the glass. 63+/100

2009 Piemonte Barbera; [this is a Barbera that comes from vineyards outside of the Langhe area]; sandstone, minerals and restraint, with an almost Nebbiolo-like feel to it, herbs, grit and really easy to drink, balanced, simple, round and appealing, red plum and tobacco on the finish that is simply, but elegantly attractive showing some hidden smoke and meat complexity. 63/100 

2011 3UVE; Vino Rosso; [a blend of 75% Barbera, 15% Nebbiolo & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon]; easy, round and earthy with notes of soil, roses, sandstone, grit and cassis. Slightly lactic and milky, with decent complexity. A long dark fruit finish keeps one intrigued by this well made and predominantly red fruited wine. 61/100

2010 Barbera d’Asti “Superiore”; [this spends half its life in botti and half in barrique]; elegant, fruit driven and perfumed, slightly dusty and mineral. Round, soft strawberry fruit, smoke, tobacco and ash intermingle in the fruity finish. 64/100 

2008 Barbaresco; smoke, herbs, banana, tar, roses, elegant and perfumed with rich strawberry fruit and powerful tannins, raspberry, milk, lots of freshness, wax, ash and graphite, poised and mineral, very nice, very impressive but that lingering white fruit that I don’t like is there again! Vanillin. 67+?/100 

2007 Barbaresco; bold, perfumed, expressive, dense and concentrated. Poised, mineral, strawberry, tar, fairly classically styled, round and mouthfilling, long with plenty of woodspice, cedar, and a haunting perfume. The tannins are very soft but this remains structured with herbs and salinity on the finish. Fabulous wine but being modern it won’t be to everyone’s taste. 75+/100 

2011 Moscato d’Asti; lemon, lime, spritz, elegant and long, with hints of grass and limestone, fresh and with good concentration. 66+/100 

Les Vins!!

The wines at Poderi Elia are clearly modern and their top wines show plenty of density, dark fruit, vanilla and a lactic note that speaks of barrique, which to be honest isn’t really my ideal in the wines of Piemonte, but if I am completely honest, there is plenty of good dusty, gritty substance underneath the oak in abundance. In the better wines, it is so abundant, that it clearly breaks through the walls and shows you all that is good about the region.

No one home! 

Our next stop before dinner was meant to be with Luca Roagna, but Luca being Luca (according to hearsay) he had seemingly forgotten we were arriving, despite the fact that we were sure that someone was in the winery, so we made a quick dash down the road to another Barbaresco producer in the village, Az. Agr. Giuseppe Cortese. I’ll stick my neck out here and say that these are truly the sort of wines that I come to Piemonte to find, and many who know the region well call his “Rabaja” the Monfortino of Barbareco. High praise and in my opinion, fully deserved.

If only I had a truck!!

All the wines here see only large oak barrels (botti) that range in capacity from 15 to 26 hectolitres. They produce 50 thousand bottles on average per vintage.

The Wines

2011 Langhe Chardonnay; lemon, lime, butter, fire and chili spice, banana and a really lovely fiery length, lacking in obvious fruit (a good thing), with subtle hints of nuts and bread. Very good. 64+/100 

2011 Barbera d’Alba; chocolate and dark plum with freshness and elegance. Nice length, showing hints of herbs, earth, minerals, red plum and cherry. Dusty and spicy. 62-64+/100 

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo; [coming from young Rabaja vines, this spends 12 months in botti]; clay, roses, rosewater, wet stones, brewed Chinese tea leaf, tar, smoke, delicate and perfumed with lots of freshness and zip, wild raspberry, herbs, and salinity. Pure, lovely, appealing and with good structure and balance. 65+/100 

2007 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; rich, herbs, soil, decaying leaves, tar, roses and rosepetal, clean, fresh and with herby fruit, dried herbs, tobacco, ash, soil, hints of cocoa, smoky, Pu-Ehr tea leaves, silky, elegant, sexy, poised, precise, and with a long finish showing roses and wild strawberry. Beguiling, effortless and light on its feet. 72++/100 

2006 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; herbs, structure and restraint but very big or imposing, always remaining elegant and poised, precise, tightly knit, roses, tar, less fruit driven, raspberry, cherry, more subdued but with huge amounts of depth, beautifully elegant. 70-73++/100 

2003 Barbaresco “Rabaja”; decaying fruit, raisins, roses, rosebush, rich, tobacco, tea leaf, herbs, grippy tannins, slightly short but still nice. 67-69/100 

2004 Barbaresco “Rabaja” Riserva; [the Riservas receive a minimum of 7 years ageing before release]; elegant, smoky, tea leaf, Pu-ehr, tar, roses, perfume, elegant, pure and lifted, meat, smoke, structure, balance and wonderful freshness, herbs, strawberry, cherry, sandstone and an endless finish that creeps up from nowhere, violets, roses and mountain flowers. 73-76+/100 

2001 Barbaresco “Rabaja” Riserva; richer, smokier but still elegant with notes of herbs, riper fruit, sous bois, poised, long, balanced with nice structure, showing more roses and bramble. Lovely freshness, restrained, raisins, sunflower oil, elegant and very pure, dried fruits, iron, rust and sandstone. 76/100 

Some of the most beautiful wines you will ever encounter.

The wines at Giuseppe Cortese are absolute stunners, showing elegance, restraint and a beguiling perfume. The 2003s perhaps suffer from 2003ness, but are still lovely wines. All in all, one has to be dissappointed that Roagna was not an option, but if we had gone there, we would have missed what was arguably one of my favourite visits of the whole three day trip.

Food, Wine and Bed.

As, unlike other trips where there were 16 of us, there were only 4 of us(and over three days instead of four), we were able to stay in a small Agriturismo where they also own vines and produce their own wines called Il Bricco , and it was a great place to be, overlooking the vines in Treiso. We had a home-cooked meal of traditional foods from the region, and by golly gosh the meal was tasty. Add to that some lovely wines, and we were happy as larry!

Hard to find a better view!

Before dinner, we sat on the Balcony of one of the rooms looking out at the setting sun with the following wine in Magnum: 2001 Barbaresco; Poderi Elia; rich, woody and powerful, round, black fruits, smoke, rosebush, strawberry, raisins, decaying roses, a bit of smoke and funk, simple but loveable , and good quality for the money 63+/100 (somehow looking back at my notes, whilst this was a lovely wine, one has to hope that the shutting down fruit, outlives the wood that has been used on it.)

With dinner we drank the following:

2011 “Flores” Langhe Favorita, Az. Agr. Il Bricco; lemon, lime, herbs and a fruit pastel, sherbet nose, grass, herbs, marble, minerals and a lovely fruity length. Mineral, crisp but also rounded and easy to drink already. 64-66+/100 

2010 “San Luigi” Dolcetto di Dogliani d’Alba; Marziano Abbona; smoky, perfumed, chocolate, dark plum, some herbs, lots of concentration, tarmac, earthy, structured and impressive, plum, cherry, dusted chocolate, cocoa and some minerals. Rich, powerful and imposing. 65++/100 

2008 Barbera d’Alba “TreVigne”; Domenico Clerico; rich, powerful, woodspice, tobacco leaf, vanilla, herbs and nice length, cocoa and coffee, dark cherry, chocolate coated strawberry, silky and smooth, unashamedly modern but it knows what it is and what it is doing, so you have to decide whether you like the style or not. Smoke, earth, and loveable. 61-63/100 

2010 Langhe Nebbiolo “Ca Real”, Il Bricco; smooth, perfumed, roses, herbs, rosebush and strawberry, fresh and minty, cherry, red and black plum, nice depth and hints of cocoa, deep, brooding, almost verging on closed and unforgiving. Simple, and in need of time. 58-64+?/100 

2006 Barbaresco “Marcarini”; Az. Agr. Ca del Baio; roses, strawberry, tar, minerals, earth, raspberry, plum, fruit driven, but with a dusty, ashy, herby note, gritty tannins and a touch of depth, perhaps a little top heavy and it feels like it is slowly shutting down in the glass! Based on what has come and gone, I’d give this the benefit of the doubt in terms of whether it will come round. 59-62+/100 

2011 Moscato d’Asti “Siva”; Il Bricco; lemons, limes, balanced and elegant, a touch sweet but still well made and pleasant enough. 59+/100 

Well you can’t leave a Piemonte report without the obligatory photo of some Tajarin with veal Ragu!!

And so to Bed after another long day in the foothills of the Alps. The second day of our shorter than normal trip, would be a long one with plenty of excellent wines from both the famous and the unheard of…

Until Next Time

Happy Drinking.

Posted by: jmbwineblog | June 6, 2012

Wine, Investment and the future of assets.

Wine & Investment are the new buzzwords within the trade as prices of fine wine rise. Many of these rises are simply due to a pass-the-parcel attitute amongst UK wine investment funds who sell based on the idea that the world will drink wine tomorrow.

I find this idea hard to believe, but luckily there is some sanity in the world, which can be found on my latest page, here: most notably in the views on the future of investment by a good friend and economic analyst, Joe Roseman.

More information about Joe and his work can be found at and the book can be purchased through Amazon.

Once I have finished it, I will be delighting you all with a further book review and my own further comments in relation to it.

Until then,

Happy Drinking!!!

Posted by: jmbwineblog | May 8, 2012

Wine in the News, including snippets from myself.

The following post, could be seen as some unglorified self-promotion of who I am and what I do, and if you feel aggrieved then look away now. 😉

Last year, I was able to take part in a few wine related news pieces, both of which were interviews regarding my thoughts on various different wines. The first was an article that appeared in the China Economic Review and was related to Australian wine exports into mainland China and forecasted growth. Whilst my interview didn’t have a large number of quotes in the main piece, it was used for the Q&A section of the piece.

Here is the link to this article and the Q&A section: (for the main article). (for the Q&A section).

These were published on the 1st August 2011 and as such the answers in our fast moving global economy may already seem a touch dated. Especially with a correction in the price of Bordeaux wines and a growing number of independant wine shops that have subsequently  sprung up in Hong Kong and also on the mainland itself.

The next interview was an on-screen slot for Reuters, talking about the new Indian wines that Waitrose have begun to import into the UK. The Link is below:

These wines were perfectly decent and worked nicely with the food that we tasted, as I have mentioned in the video (from October 2011). At present, I haven’t been able to look into how these wines have performed since their release, but when the video was made Waitrose had already released press statements saying that the wines had sold very well.

Questions about future market trends.

Both these news stories bring to light some potentially important questions and issues surrounding the world of wine consumption and production in emerging markets.

As I mentioned in the China Economic Review interview, a challenge for producers to sell their wine is persuading the local populations that their wines are greatly superior to local equivalents and charge higher prices. On top of this the tax regimes in these nations (excluding Hong Kong) are defensive and designed to make local produce seem cheaper. This makes the job of foreign wine-makers even more difficult in this regard. Who then is to say that with a small increase in the quality of local wines in these emerging markets, where wine is becoming popular, that the local population won’t simply purchase their own and shun the wine from outside. This would have a drastic effect on many a business model, whether it be the struggling wineries of the traditional producing nations, or whether it be those wine investment funds who have proclaimed that everyone in China will “drink wine tomorrow”. Well, Yes, but who can tell WHICH wine they will drink.

In India, the growing legion of wine drinkers are pretty much forced to drink their own local produce like Sula Vineyards because of restrictive tax regimes, even if they would prefer to pay more for a foreign example of higher quality. They would pay triple, but perhaps not six or seven times. Then think about the improvements they are making… the locals even at the top end are more likely to drink their own produce if the quality improves as quickly as their economic growth. We have already seen a Chinese wine (Winery He Lan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan 2009 Cabernet blend) won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £10 International Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2011. Ominous signs for those wishing to break into these emerging markets.

We should also look out for these wines in our own markets. We may soon be inundated, and if they are cheap and also good, they may be fighting for the market share of the tried and tested wines that we have loved for so long. Food for thought, on all fronts.

The Decanter World Wine Awards winning 2009 Jiabeilan.

Posted by: jmbwineblog | March 16, 2012

The Wines of Katsunuma, Japan (Koshu)

Some of you may have been expected more Burgundy reviews… Don’t be alarmed, they will arrive. However, I have been busy of late with other wine regions and felt that Burgundy being Burgundy it won’t be going anywhere, and well, with 2010 being the type of vintage that it is, most of the people who read this will find it hard to purchase on release and more likely to buy on the secondary market. So, I thought I would look at another under the radar wine region that I believe needs some serious attention.

Koshu (Japan’s noble white grape). 

The majority of wine lovers, will never have heard of the Koshu grape, and that isn’t really surprising in the least. In fact, I’d be rather taken aback if you weren’t often visiting Japan, from Japan, called Jancis Robinson or working in Japan and you had ever heard or tasted anything made from the grape (unless of course you come drinking with me on the odd occasion). As a bit of background, you can find a lot of useful information and insight into this grape and many other wines that are produced in Katsunuma, Japan at the following place:;f=1;t=022860;p=1 and before you wander why I am not going into details, it is all there, and with a bit of history and debate about the wines. I have been following Japanese wines for the last three years or so, so do give it a go.

Why now?

Well, in the UK, there is an organisation called Koshu of Japan ( ) that was originally set up by the Katsunuma Wineries Club (the quasi-AOC run by the local producers) to promote the wines outside of JApan, and generally in the UK. For the last two years or so, they have been running tastings yearly to showcase the wines made from Koshu. Last year, I was actually in Japan, and so unable to attend, but this year, I was in the UK and biting my fingers in anticipation. Before I start, I would like to state that I think that one must understand what Koshu is and should taste like, before making judgements about the wines. Whislt it is vitis vinifera in the majority and the remaining 10% is possibly also a different vitis grape (probably extinct) or a different family (fanta grapes), it doesn’t give off much obvious fruit. The flavours tend to be more smoky, mineral and flinty, with a Burgundian lack of fruit. I have heard some call it light, and it is a light white wine, but there is in the best wines a vibrancy and intensity. Branding it on its weight is doing the grape a disservice. For me, it is different and deserves its place on its own. Granted, it isn’t the most amazing grape one can find, but quality is improving year on year, and there is certainly a typicity and sense of place.

The Wines at the Koshu of Japan tasting. 

Please note that I am moving to a new scoring system. As a rough example, anything above 30/100 is drinkable, above 50/100 shows typicity and I would seek out, above 60/100 is very very good, above 70/100 is mind-boggling (almost like the UK university scored, you got a first, above 60 is 2:2, above 65 is 2:1, above 55 is 3rd, above 50 is a pass, below… go back and re-do your A-Levels…

ALPS WINE (Fuefuki City, Yamanashi Japan)

Alps Wine is a name that I had heard of but had never tasted prior to this event. Started in 1962, this small winery tries to make high quality wines, and from 2004 onwards has been experimenting with European grape varieties to explore their potential in Japan. They currently have no UK representation. They have 5 ha of grapes under contract, comprising, Koshu, Chardonnay, Muscat B-A, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

2010 Koshu [11.5% alc, 1.1g/l of residual sugar, 6.5g/l of acidity (tartaric acid), a pH of 3.2, spending 11 months in bottle before release] ;classic, smoky nose, lemon, burnt match, sea breeze, salt, clay, flint and hints of minerality. 56/100

GRACE WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

Grace are arguably, the creme de la creme of winemaking in this part of the world (although some of the producers would beg to differ). Started in 1923, the fifth generation (Ayana Misawa) currently makes the wine, with her father (Shigekazu) having taken over in 1982, and made great strides in looking at the individual terroirs of the region. Whilst, I always wander why they market certain wines more than others, they are all wonderfully specific.

2011 Kayagatake Vineyard Koshu; [11.6% alc, 7.7g/l of Tartaric Acid, pH 3.1, tank sample]; round, slightly fat, clay, butter, nice freshness, but lacking in zip, sweet, powerful, with hints of sherbet. 62+/100

2010 Kayagatake Vineyard Koshu; [no fiche technique available]; lemon, poise, smoke, flint, limes, minerals, slate, perfumed with classic chalk/clay notes, sherbet and a good length: 66/100

2011 Hishiyama Vineyard, Koshu Private Reserve; [11.7% alc, 8.0g/l of tartaric acid, pH3.1, tank sample]; closed nose, smoke, rich but still restrained, with good balancing freshness, bonfire, smoke, clay, minerals, lime. 67+/100

2010 Hishiyama Vineayrd, Koshu Private Reserve; [11.9% alc, 6.3g/l tartaric acid, pH3.1, spending 5 months on the less]; smoky, classic, poised, yeasty, restrained with hints of fur, complex and zippy, mineral but smooth, very classy, wonderful length and hints of raw fish. 71/100

HARUMO WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

Another winery that I knew of, but hadn’t tried up to now. Started in 1924 as a cooperative, they hold 1.5hectares themselves, but have 25 hectares under contract. They are thus veritably large…

2010 Koshu; [11.5% alc, 1.1g/l residual sugar, 6.5g/l of tartaric acid, pH3.3]; smoke, fresh, lifted, lime zest, clay, slate, flint, nice poise with hints of cream, well made with decent length, hints of butter, but a touch subdued. 59/100

2011 Koshu; [11% alc, 0.9g/l residual sugar, 8.6g/l of tartaric acid, pH3.2]; fresh, mineral, clay, limes, lemons, more fruit but with less classic smoky-ness, more interest, length and depth to this wine. 61+/100

L’ORIENT WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

An old staple here, albeit with a new label design, founded in 1938, Takao Uchida is the third generation winemaker who studied oenology and viticulture in the South of France, thus changing the winery’s name to L’Orient to state that the wines are in no way inferior to those of the West! They own 2hectares of vines, and sub-contract a further 5.

2011 Koshu; [11.2% alcohol, 6.4g/l of tartaric acid, pH3.2, tank sample]; sound, mineral, clay, smoky, unbelievaly classic, clasy, lime, beautifully balanced with a nice length and persistance. 67/100

LUMIERE (Fuefuki City, Yamanashi)

An old and highly regarded winery, who produce modern wines that speak of high production and being good at being themselves. They have in recent times been producing some good sparkling wines made from the Koshu grape as well. Founded in 1885, they own 2.5 hectares of vines and sub-contract 16.

2010 Koshu Hikari; [11.1% alc, 1.1g/l residual sugar, 6.6g/l tartaric acid, pH3.7, 6 months on the lees]; sweet smelling, lemon, strawberry, nice poise and with a smoky mineral charactar, classic, simple, drinkable but somehow unexciting. 52/100

2011 Koshu Hikari; [10.9% alc, 7.7g/l tartaric acid, pH3.4, tank sample]; pink, lees, strawberry, sherbet, nice freshness, with a touch more oomph and intrigue and better length. 55/100

2010 Petillant; [10.6% alc, 1g/l residual sugar, 4.7g/l tartaric acid, pH3.7, sparkling pressure, 5.0]; crisp, fresh, lemon, lime, easy, well made and caressing. 58/100

2009 Petillant; [no fiche technique available]; more concentration, berried, nutty, smoky, soft and with a nice persistant length. 62/100

MARQUIS WINERY (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Japan)

MArquis is Japan’s oldest functioning winery. In 1877, the JApanese sent two men to France to study oenology, and on of them set up this winery (as oppose to company like the others) in 1891. They hold in their cellars, some wonderfully old and mature bottlings, of which they are hoping to market as well. They produce some excellent aged sweet wines as well.

2011 Koshu Jien Blanc; [11.3% alc, 2.5g/l residual sugar, 7.5g/l tartaric acid, pH3.1, tank sample which will spend four months on the lees]; smoke, rocks, pebble stones, lime, lemon, clay, wonderfully mineral, nice freshness and lift, flint, smoke, bonfire, nice weight and zip with superb length, subtle and complex. 63+/100

CHATEAU MERCIAN (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

At the forefront of winemaking technology, this winery is perhaps more reknowned for their international varieties made from single vineyards, and where I cut my teeth on Japanese wine. The company was set up in 1877, but didn’t produce wine until the two young men returned. The present incarnation was set up in 1970, and it wasn’t long before they became more terroir orientated. They make some interesting whites, not least one with deliberate skin contact to produce a Rose type wine. They own 22 hectares of vines.

2011 Koshu; [11.2% alc, 2.1g/l residual sugar, 9g/l tartaric acid, pH3.3, tank sample]; very crisp and restrained but with soft acidity, lemon, gooseberry, fruit driven and appealing, much better than in the past. Modern (far from classic) but very well made and an accomplished wine. 65/100

RUBAIYAT WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Japan)

Another one of the old guard, and terroir driven wineries. Whilst Grace make site specific wines, here they blend, but only from the best and most complimentary sites to produce a wine that they feel best expressed the essence of Koshu. Begun in 1890, they own 2.2hectares and contract 3.5.

2011 Koshu; [12% alc, 1.2 g/l residual sugar, 5.3g/l tartaric acid, pH 3.4, this wine spends 8 months on the lees before release]; lifted, mineral nose, smoke, purity, hints of clay, subtle, expressive, balanced, warm, lemons, lime, raw fish. Quintessential. 63+/100

SADOYA (Kofu city, Yamanashi)

The Sadoya family were Edo period (pre-modern era) oil merchants and started wine production in 1917, their staple is a brand called Chateau Brillant, where the red is Cabernet Sauvignon and the white Semillon. Although they produced Koshu until 1960, nothing was produced until 2010 to mark the start of Koshu of Japan. From experience, even their entry level wines are very nice for what you pay.

Zenkouji Kitahara Koshu; [single vineayrd site, 11.5% alc, 2.1 g/l residual sugar, 7.2g/l tartaric acid, tank sample]; clay, rocks, minerals, rich, bold and smoky on the nose, grassy, poised, round but classic, wet clay, earthen-ware pottery, a very different mineral charactar to Fuefuki city and KAtusnuma, lemon, limes, nice length and a fishy, liquorice, sherbet, mineral finish, which opens further in the glass. Give this one some age. 61+/100

SORYU WINERY (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

Arguably my wine of the day! From Soryu!

Founded as a co-operative by relatives of the two young men who went to France in 1899, the business was taken over by one family in 1943 and took its present structure in 2000. They own 1.8 hectares and contract 8.

2010 Koshu; [10.8% alc, 5.3g/l tartaric acid, pH3.3]; spritzy nose, lemons, limes, hints of minerality, subtle length that really sneaks up on you, smoky, long, linear, subtle, sherbet, flint, burnt matches, linear, balanced. 68+/100 and potentially better than my favourite GRACE.

2011 Koshu; [10.5% alc, 8.1g/l tartaric acid, pH3.1]; more lifted, perfumed, zippy nose, more obviously rich as well, forward, subtle, lime, less mineral and classic, flint, but air opens this up nicely, lime, lemons, apples, mouth-puckeringly fresh. 66+/100

These wines need air or some bottle age, they are subtle, complex and very expressive when given the time to shine.

SUNTORY/TOMI NO OKA (Kai City, Yamanashi)

This is the Suntory hill that was bought and planted by Suntory in 1909. Here is where they were in 1975 the first Japanese winery to harvest grapes with Noble Rot, and where the fabled Tomi was first released from the 1986 vineyard. Their top reds have a similar style to Chateau Lagrange in St. Julien, Bordeaux (an estate that Suntory own).

2010 Tomi no Oka Koshu; [12% alc, 5.3g/l tartaric acid, pH3.3, malolactic fermentation occurs in barrel, and the wine is aged for 5 months afterwards in both tank and barrel]; smoke, butter, limes, grass, gooseberry, modern and with nice balance, some minerality but oak dominates, some nuts and almonds, nice length and poise, but it lacks a touch of excitement. 57+/100

YAMANASHI WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

Started in 1913 as a co-operative that grew to its largest in 1932, it became a family run business in 1962, and become a joint-stock (LLC) company in 2006. They own 2 hectares, and source a further 6.5.

2011 Sol Lucet Koshu; [12% alc, pH3.2]; spice, lemons, limes, very lifted and perfumed, clay, smoke, white pepper, fire, butter, sherbet, bold and fruit-driven, modern, a pleasant finish that somehow just lacks really good length to match the complexity. 56+/100

YAMATO WINE (Katsunuma, Koshu City, Yamanashi)

Yamato started in 1913, and have a winery in Nagano where they mainly produce Merlot. They have some of the oldest grape producing vines in the region, with some of their Koryu vines aged at 130 years old. They source a lot of grapes from high quality terroir driven sites, and continuously study how vines develop a “mineral” charactar.

2011 Mineral Koshu; [10.9% alc, 2.1g/l residual sugar, 7.6g/l tartaric acid, pH3.4, tank sample]; smoke, classic, clay, lack of fruit, lime, sherbet, subtle, mineral, subtle and long, flint, slate, broad, with hints of lemon and apple, showing good complexity, an impressive wine. 65+/100

2011 Mineral Koshu Sparkling; [10.9% alc, 2.1g/l residual sugar, 7.6g/l tartaric acid, pH3.6, tank sample]; creamy, flint, poised and mineral, mouth-puckering, lemons, green apples, hints of clay. Nice. 62/100

Whislt, these wines are different and idiosyncratic, I do think they have a place in the world of fine wine, and they who charactars that other wines do not. They are certainly wines that one should look out for and a highly reccommend. If you are in London, in February, it is well worth signing up to go to the Wines of Koshu event as the wines are certainly of a higher overall quality than when I wrote my report that you can find on Wine-Pages Forum. If you want to see further tasting notes, they can be found with a quick search of Japan on the search facility on that forum.

If you wish to know more information about purchasing these wines, would like to get in contact with any of the wineries or would like ideas for visiting either Yamanashi, or Japan in General, then please do not hesitate to email me on

Until next time,

Happy Drinking.

Posted by: jmbwineblog | January 20, 2012

2010 Burgundy: Maison et Domaines Louis Jadot (Beaune).

Louis Jadot is a great producer from which to buy Burgundy. Firstly, they make exceptionally high quality wine, whether it be from their own vines or from those that they buy in. They not only make high quality wines, but they are also generally cheaper and in greater quantities for the top vineyards, thus making them a great value for money purchase at various different price points. OK, so they may not be the very cheapest example of certain vineyards, BUT, they are most certainly of a higher quality and where they are not, the other producer is so hugely under the radar that it would be almost impossible to purchase their wines without visiting the domaine.

The classic insignia of the domaine.

The Style

It is very hard to speak of a particular style in terms of Louis Jadots wines for two reasons. Firstly, they have a number of different sources for the grapes. Firstly, the wines of their own domaines, Domaine Louis Jadot and Domaines des Heretiers du Louis Jadot, which I tend to find have a slightly richer texture to the fruit than the grapes they receive from their grape contracts into Maison Louis Jadot. You then have the much fresher, zippier fruit profile of the grapes coming from those vines owned by Domaine Gagey, the vines of their managing director, Andre Gagey. To complicate matters further, they also produce the wines on behalf of Domaine Duc du Magenta which I find tend to show a firmer lashing of oak flavours to the wines. They have since 1996 a domaine in Beaujolais as well called Chateau des Jacques; and since 2008 have owned a Domaine in Fuisse in the Maconnais called Domaine Ferret.

Putting a specific style to the wines is thus difficult as vineyard management and philosophies of the domaines, (not a problem so much for the grapes bought in as there is consultation between the growers and Jadot) is thus problematic, and on top of this Jadot will alter their winemaking style depending on the specific wines, to which there is much debate. Does this bring out the terroir more by allowing the wine to taste as the grapes intended, or does it mask the grapes or make it more difficult to spot the terroir because all the wines are made in a different way? I am unsure, but what I do know is that the wines of Louis Jadot are excellent and they have again excelled in 2010.

The gate to some of Jadot's Clos Vougeot.

All of the wines here, were sampled from barrel samples that were bottled and sent to London for the Hatch Mansfield tasting on the 16th January 2012. Some bottles thus may or may not have been showing as intended by the producer.

The White Wines

2010 Cote de Nuits Villages Blanc “Le Vaucrain”; [Domaine Louis Jadot, oak barrel ferment, aged for 13-14 months]; toasty, lemon, restrained, butter, grassy, herby, nice length, perhaps a touch flabby but really good for the money. 15+/20

2010 Santenay Blanc “Clos de Malte Monopole”; [Domaine Louis Jadot: 7hectares, 1.5 hectares of Chardonnay]; a touch gritty but with purity, minerality, length and poise, rich, herbs, greenery, decent complexity, length and elegance, an intriguing wine. 16+/20

2010 Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc “Clos de la Croix de Pierre; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; mineral, pure, balanced, perhaps less complex and less freshness, but with herbs, grass and some nice subtle length. 15.5/20

2010 Savigny-les-Beaune Blanc 1er Cru “Clos des Guettes”; [Domaine Gagey, 14 hectares on clay soils]; nice sap, classic with good length, not at all oaky, fairly fresh, plenty of lemon and nutty concentration, a very pleasing wine and good value. 16+/20

2010 Beaune Blanc 1er Cru “Bressandes”; [Domaine Gagey]; poise, zip, minerality, breathe, depth, lemons, grapefruit, subtle length. Very impressive and beguiling. 16.5+/20

2010 Beaune Blanc 1er Cru “Greves; Le Clos Blanc”; [Domaine Gagey];rich, powerful, good sappy-toasty-buttery fruit, well integrated with nice length, herbs, complexity, freshness, chalky. Very fine. 16.5++?/20

2010 Meursault 1er Cru “Blagny”; [vinified and aged for 15 months in oak]; nutty, rich, restrained and with nice zip, classically styled, sappy, round, elegant but needs time to unfurl. 16+/20

2010 Meursault 1er Cru “Charmes”; [tank fermented for 3-4 weeks, aged for 12-15 months in oak]; more zip, cleaner, fresher, mineral, less sap, elegant, pure, restrained, nice subtle length and a feeling that this could turn out to be beautiful. 17/20

2010 Meursault 1er Cru “Genevrieres“; [Domaine Louis Jadot; traditional vinification in oak casks]; nice poise and purite, but with more sap and richness, nice minerality and rocky charactar and lovely restrained length. 16.5+/20

2010 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle Monopole“; [Domaine Duc de Magenta]; smoky, perfume, bacon fat, pure, zippy, elegant, lemons, limes, herbs, greenery. Good length. 16.5+/20

2010 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Cailleret“; [barrel fermentation prior to spending 12-15 months in oak]; pure, mineral, poised, lemons, limes, nice roundness and butter length. 16/20

2010 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Champ-Gain“; [Domaine Gagey; traditional oak vinification in tanks]; pure but with richness, elegance, butter, delicacy, nice length but the wood needs a bit more time to integrate. 16+/20

2010 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Referts“; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; more zip and rocky minerality, good length and poise but again somewhat subdued by wood, however it should be gorgeous once integrated. 16+/20

2010 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Clos de la Garenne“; [Domaine Duc de Magenta]; nice zip and freshness, pure, again the wood subdues what is underneath but the long, elegant beauty will shine through in time. 16+/20

2010 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Les Folatieres“; [Domaine des Heritiers de Louis Jadot]; poised, precise, lemons, minerals, lovely purity, good length, rocky, classic, superb… Simply WOW! 17+/20

2010 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru; [Domaine des Heritiers de Louis Jadot: from the lieu-dit “Le Charlemagne“]; structured, pure, round, nutty, smooth subtle length which is really lovely, poised but round and ageworthy. 17+?/20

2010 Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru; pure, mineral, poised, classic with huge concentration, round, elegant, backward and will need some serious bottle age. 17++/20

2010 Chevalier-Montrachet “Les Demoiselles” Grand Cru; [Domaine des Heritiers de Louis Jadot]; pure, poised, mineral, classy, lemons, huge concentration, more zip and freshness, but very long. So young it needs a lot of bottle age. 17++/20

2010 Montrachet Grand Cru; [from the Chassagne side of the vineyard, 70% new oak]; smoky, deep, complex, full, sappy, subtle, long, layered, marrying the power of Batard-Montrachet and the zip and minerals of Chevalier-Montrachet. Subtle length, elegant, restrained, structured, haunting, long, nutty, utterly beguiling in its complexity but perhaps an acquired taste. Will be superb… 17.5-18++/20 

The Louis Jadot Cuve.

The Red Wines

2010 Moulin-a-Vent “Clos de Rochegres”; [Chateau des Jacques]; nice zippy fruit, elegant, nice length, wooded concentration. 15+/20

2010 Moulin-a-Vent “Clos du Grand Carquelin”; [Chateau des Jacques]; zippy, mineral, poised, gritty, funky and intriguing. 16.5+/20

2010 Moulin-a-Vent “La Roche”; [Chateau des Jacques]; pure, fresh, zippy, elegant and long, quite complex. 16/20

2010 Morgon-Cote du Puy; [Chateau des Jacques]; bubblegum, purity, elegance and poise, gritty and with decent depth. 16/20

2010 Cote de Nuits Villages “Le Vaucrain”; [Domaine Louis Jadot, fermented in tanks before spending 10 months in barrel]; pure, pretty, mineral, poised, nice elegance and an earthy note, simple drinking wine with nice length. 16+/20

2010 Santenay “Clos des Gatsulards”; [Domaine Gagey, destemmed, fermented in wooden tanks and aged for 10 months in barrel]; pure, herby, poised, elegant and mineral, classically styled, quite classy, soft and subtle length, could be really interesting when mature. Floral. 16.5+/20

2010 Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “Clos des Guettes”; [Domaine Gagey]; smoky, meaty, pure but complex, nice length and complexity, subtle, roses and flowers. 16+/20

2010 SAvigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “La Dominode”; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; pure, poised, elegant, mineral, rocky, nice complexity, very subtle, effortless. 16+/20

2010 Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru En Caradeux “Clos de la Croix de Pierre”; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; rocky, mineral, elegant and pure, poised with subtle precision and nice length. 16/20

2010 Beaune 1er Cru “Boucherottes”; [Domaine des Heritiers de Louis Jadot]; smoke, purity, pretty, earthy, elegant, saline but with a very rocky minerality, lovely length. 16+/20

2010 Beaune 1er Cru “Clos des Couchereaux”; [Domaine des Herities de Louis Jadot]; mineral, rocky, nice balance and structure, pure, meaty, nice linear finish. 16+/20

2010 Beaune 1er Cru “Greves”; [Domaine Gagey, fermented in tank before spending 12-15 months in barrel]; very crisp, pure, mineral,  zippy, saline but with a softer structure and floral notes, lovely. 16++/20

2010 Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franche “Clos des Ursules”[sole proprieter; Domaine des Herities de Louis Jadot]; rich, poised, complex, deep, lovely length, effortless, subtle, linear, wonderfully beautiful and beguiling. 17+/20

2010 Volnay 1er Cru “Clos de la Barre Monopole”; pure, smoky. elegant, savoury, saline, rocky and mineral with lovely length. 16.5+/20

2010 Volnay 1er Cru “Clos des Chenes”; pure, structured, roses, rocks, elegant, grippy, tannic finish, needs time. 16++/20

2010 Pommard 1er Cru “Clos de la Commaraine”; reduced but with elegance and purity underneath and with nice length. 16+/20

2010 Pommard 1er Cru “Rugiens”; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; pure, elegant, mineral, round, effortless, lovely linear length, classy and well rounded. 17+/20

2010 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Boudots”; [Domaine Gagey]; structured, tannic but with lovely grippy purity, elegance, dark fruits and length. 16.5+/20

2010 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Suchots”; [fermented in wooden vats for 3-4 weeks, before spending 15 months in barrel]; dark fruited, pure, structured, elegant and perfumed, nice length and good complexity. 16.5+/20

2010 Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Beaux Monts”; [vinification is identical to the above wine]; dark fruits, linear, long and appealing, subtle, pure, mineral. this wine really charges out of the blocks. 17/20

2010 Chambolle-Musigny “Les Drazeys”; [Domaine Gagey]; round, softly spoken, pure, excellent length, complex, really lovely restrained and subtle. 16.5+/20

2010 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru “Les Fuees”; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; smoky, elegant, pure, complex, poised, restrained and wonderful breathe, lovely subtle beguiling length. 17+/20

2010 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru “Les Baudes”; [Domaine Gagey]; pure, zippy, rocky, mineral, poised and with lovely length, fresh, herbs, and roses. 16.5+/20

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Poissenots”; [Domaine Louis Jadot, 3-4 week ferment in vat before spending 12-15 months in oak]; structured, pure, classic, mineral with nice length, rocky, roses but lacks real complexity. 16++/20

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Estournelles-Saint-Jacques”; [Domaine Louis Jadot, 3-4 week vat fermentation, 15 months in oak barrels]; pure, fresh, mineral, hints of VA but this is just about balanced, metals, rocks, elegant, herbs, earth. 16.5+/20

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Clos-Saint-Jacques”; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; smoke, depth, complexity, purity, more weight and power but still very subtle, sappy, elegant, very long. 17+/20

2010 Corton-Pougets Grand Cru; [Domaine des Heritiers de Louis Jadot]; pure, mineral, complex and powerfully structured, rigid. Nice length but this needs a lot of time to unfurl. 17+?/20

2010 Corton-Greves Grand Cru [Domaine Louis Jadot; 3-4 week vat ferment, 18-20 months in oak barrels]; softer, more elegant, pure but with plenty of structure underneath, subtle length, different but equally loveable whilst being perhaps a touch less complex. 17/20

2010 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru ; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; power, poise, depth and complexity, saline, soft structure, good length, a brooding charactar. Lovely. 17++/20

2010 Echezeaux Grand Cru; [Domaine Andre Gagey]; perfumed, acid, sap, pure, nice length and elegance, dark, long, complex, subtle and effortless. Superb. 17.5++/20

2010 Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru; [3-4 weeks in vats fermenting before 18-20 months in oak barrels]; perfumed, pure, rocks, poise, subtle, elegant, complex, again effortless, linear, complete with nice length and sappy fruit flavours. Lovely structure, whilst remaining light on its feet, it still needs time to grow into something really beautiful. 17.5+/20

2010 Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru; [Domaine Louis Jadot]; pure, poised, deep and complex with restrained power, wonderful length, soft structure, rocks, salinity, dense, dark and will need time but equally awesome in a brooding, dark way. 17.5++/20

2010 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru; [3-4 weeks in wooden vats during fermentation before lying in oak for 18-20 months]; smoke, meat, oak, poise, purity, roundness and power, complex, rich, super length, a subtle finish, despite a rigid bold structure, this is purely bred and beautiful. 17++/20

2010 Clos Saint Denis Grand Cru; [Domaine Gagey]; rigid, spicy, pure, structured, effortless length, complex, subtle, hardly tries but this builds and builds, stunningly complex, meat, fruit, flowers, it smells like a country market in summer, perfume, beautiful. 17.5-18+/20

the famous bottle…

2010 has clearly been a superb vintage for the Maison and Domaines of Louis Jadot. The wines show their purity, minerality and terroir. The samples that I tried were wonderfully transparent and whilst some were suffering from the weight of oak due to their nature (Chassagne and Puligny) on the whole from the lower levels and right up to the top Crus, there is pleasure and enjoyment to be had. On top of this, the wines are superb value. I do feel however that some of the wines are better suited to the oak treatment that they receive, but once the oak integrates, there is beauty underneath for those that at present feel a bit subdued. These are lovely wines that will age beautifully and it is hard to find better value to be had from these particular appelation. The sheer number of cuvees, and not all of them are represented at these tastings, shows how wonderfully terroir driven the vintage is and would be a great way to learn about the wines of Burgundy without a huge expense.

Next time, I will be taking you to look at the wines of two producers who come from a similar style of winemaking and making, pure, perfumed, expressive wines that ooze class and minerality, and can certainly be enjoyed young as well. They are Francois Berthau and Henri Jouan.

Until next time,

Happy Drinking

Posted by: jmbwineblog | January 20, 2012

2010 Burgundy: Maison Lou Dumont (Tenchijin: Gevrey-Chambertin).

Maison Lou Dumont is a relatively new negociant business, that was set up originally in Nuits Saint Georges, and has since moved to Gevrey-Chambertin in 2000 by Koji Nakada and his Korean wife Jae Hwa Park. Koji Nakada was formerly a sommelier in Japan and did plenty of apprentice work with a number of famous domaines in the Cote d’Or whilst studying at the CFPPA in Beaune where is wife also studied.

The barrel room with not a huge amount of wine.

The Style

Koji Nakada likes to use traditional methods and keep them the same across vintages. This means that one may argue that the Grand Crus receive too much oak, but grading the oak according to the AOC level is common practice throughout Burgundy and the more I taste, the more I realise that the amount of toast the barrels receive is more important. Koji likes a very mild toast.

Using only natural yeasts, the ferment is allowed to occur natural, with minimal remontage (pumping over) if any, and very little piguage (punch downs). The ferments take place in steel tanks today, but there are a few wooden tanks for experimental purposes. The wines then spend 12 to 24 months depending on the cuvee in oak, of which 15% is new for regional wines, 30% for village wines, 50% for 1er Crus and 70% for the Grand Crus.

Koji is a terroirist if that is the correct word, and is very particular about finding the right plots for what he intends to produce. As an example, his Morey-Saint-Denis is a blend of two climats, one from by the Route National between Beaune and Dijon, and one from up by the forest. I tasted these wines seperately, but ultimately they will be blended in order to make a more rounded elegant wine. He also refuses to blend his Mazoyeres into his Charmes-Chambertin, and is proud that his Bonnes-Mares comes from the less highly regarded Morey section. In all a fascinating person to talk to about wine.

Due to time constraints and other appointments, we were not able to taste through the entire selection of wines that Koji had produced in 2010, but we tried some of his 09s from bottle, and whilst in Hong Kong, I found a 2007 of one of his wines, and will post a note on that here as well.

Koji digging into the barrels to find some Morey-Saint-Denis.

The Barrel Samples

2010 Marsannay: mineral, meaty, fresh, very delicate, poised and elegant. 16/20

2010 Chambolle-Musigny: round, richer, elegant, mineral, rocks, complex, but with soft structure and crisp tannins. 16.5+/20

2010 Morey-Saint-Denis [from by the RN];smoke, flint, complex, black fruits, mineral, matches, tar, crisp and bold. 16.5+/20

2010 Morey-Saint-Denis [from by the forest]; crisp, mineral, rocks, floral, subtle and appealing, very long finish. 17/20

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin “La Plattiers”; [this comes from 70 year old vines and as an experiment half was vinified in wood, and half was vinified in steel. The barrels are seperate and they will be blended together] the wood section shows more meat and bacon, the steel section more freshness, structure, minerality, strawberry and raspberry. Blended together: 16.5+/20

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaut-Saint-Jacques”; meat, power, structure, mineral, lovely precision, subtle, herby, effervescent length. 17+/20

2010 Corton “Renardes”; deep, tannic, concentrated, intense fruits and rocks, good length, impressive, mouth-filling and will need plenty of time. 16+++/20

2010 Mazoyeres-Chambertin; [from right by the Route Nationale]; meaty nose, mineral, crisp, smoky bacon, a touch dilute, but elegant, long and delicate, with some nice complexity. Excellent considering where it came from. 17/20

2010 Charmes-Chambertin; [from the lieu-dit Aux Charmes Haute]; big, structured, minerals, intense, rocks, earth, spice, herbs, complex, powerful, but with soft tannins, a shy, elegant, long and intense finish. Delicate, but age will allow this to grow. 17.5+/20

2010 Bonnes-Mares; [from the Morey-Saint-Denis section of this Grand Cru]; powerful and crisp, but earthy, soil, mineral, intense but with a crisp elegance, some clay roundness, complex, unbelievably long and persistant. Excellent. Broad and mouthfilling, but with subtlety. 17.5++/20

The Bottle Samples from 2009

Tasted at Maison Lou Dumont.

2009 Bourgogne Rouge [mainly from vineyards in Nuits Saint Georges with a fair amount of lees wine]; crisp, round, bold, a touch hot, deep, powerful, red and black fruits, nice and simple, easy fruity drinking. 15.5/20

2009 Fixin; crisp, elegant, mineral but with intense fruit flavours and good length. 17/20

2009 Vosne-Romanee; structured, elegant, black fruits, power, ripe, mineral, graphite, nice length. 17+/20

2009 Meursault; round, toasty, lemon, lime, delicate, nutty, butter, long, mineral and saline, with a nice pleasant finish. 16+/20

In conclusion, one has to say that these wines are elegant and mineral in 2010, and perhaps more fruit driven in 2009. However, what is good about the 2009s, is that they are not overworked and overblown. In fact they are simply more terroir-driven and elegant than most 2009s, however, whilst the 2010s have lower scores, this has to reflect the fact that they are unfinished barrel samples and will certainly improve in bottle. The 2010s are terroir driven, poised and taste exactly as one may expect with a few subtle differences. The real key again however is the transparency and good acid levels that give the wines a perfume and lift. However, the style of these wines reflects the laid back nature and down to earth warmth of the man who makes them.

I will leave you with the tasting note of one bottle I found in Hong Kong. You will notice some charactars on the label that say “tenchijin”; which mean “heaven, earth and man”, to portray the belief in terroir being a pure combination of the weather, soil and hard labour!!

2007 Morey-Saint-Denis; roses, tree sap, strawberry, raspberry, herbs, nicely poised and elegant. Soft, spicy structure. Intriguing, inviting but deep and contemplative… Not the most complex wine but with enough interest and a haunting nature that keeps you coming back for another sip. Classic herby Burgundian fruit, a really long finish that mirrors the complexities of the palate beautifully. Herbs, grass. A wine that gives you a big hug, but if you ever met the winemaker, you would understand why. Wonderfully loveable. 18/20

2007 MSD "Tenchijin"

Next up, I will be taking you through the wonderful wines and labyrinth of cuvees that in general offer great value for money and high quality in 2010 from Maison Louis Jadot.

Until then,

Happy Drinking


Posted by: jmbwineblog | January 19, 2012

2010 Burgundy: Domaine Anne Gros (Vosne-Romanee)

So as a follow up to my intial briefing of my thoughts on the wines of 2010 in Burgundy I will be going into more detail as to my thoughts and some tasting notes of the wines that I have tasted either in barrel with the domaine or from bottled barrel samples in London, and I will start with Domaine Anne Gros.

Domaine Anne Gros

Daughter of Francois Gros, this estate was originally in his name, with her starting in the winery the name changed to Domaine Anne & Francois Gros, before she took over in 1995 upon which the Domaine was named solely after Anne. Francois was the son of Louis Gros. Francois’ brother Jean had two children which give the domaines Michel Gros and Anne-Francois Gros today. The Domaine Gros Frere et Soeurs was set up by Gustave and Collete (brother and sister to Francois and Jean) they had no children and these wines are made by Bernard Gros who is another brother of Michel and Anne-Francois…


That’s Burgundy for you, but in essence, Anne is a cousin of all the other families that make wines under the Gros family name. Due to the fact that the domaines are so divided, each domaine has small sections of various different holdings that their Grandfather held, and for various reasons many plots were leased to other members of the family.

Just in case you missed it!

Now that we have cleared up the family tree and you are all more confused, let us look at the winemaking style.

Anne’s Style

There is much controversy that surrounds the winemaking style of Anne Gros, and some will say that she likes to stamp her authority on the wines, which her cousins tend to do less of. In many ways, you can see why people think this to be the case. They are certainly richer, rounder, fuller wines but they retain a softness and mineral charactar that I quite like.

Anne likes to get full phenolic maturity into her grapes, and is certainly a stickler for quality both in the winery and the vineyard. Whilst she likes ripe and healthy grapes, and uses new wood in a slightly lavish sense for some people, she claims to vinify traditionally. For example, the reds are vinified in cement tanks prior to barreling, and the whites in stainless steel for 12 to 15 days. The fermentation is temperature controlled based on how they feel the style of the vintage should evolve. So from vintage to vintage they may use slightly different temperatures and may also alter the amount of new wood that is used.

The barrel room...

The website, , will provide further information to those who are interested but states that the regional wines receive 30% new oak, the village 50% new oak and the Grand Crus 80%. In 2010, the figures are 10% lower for the village and Grand Cru wines. The wines spend a minimum of 16 months in wood before they are blended in tank, let to rest and then bottled. We were able to taste through all of the wines from 2010 at the Domaine, and what a treat it was…

The Barrel Samples.

These wines are thus not racked or fined yet.

2010 Bourgogne-Hautes Cotes de Nuits Rouge [30% new oak, 20 year old vines]; oak, toast, meat, fruit, plum, cassis, minerals, rocks, lovely balance and freshness, poised, easy drinking, elegant, appealing and round, with nice length. 15.5+/20

2010 Chambolle-Musigny “La Combe d’Orveau” [40% new oak]; deeper, rounder, fresh, delicate, slate, salt, crushed rock, slick and long, subtle, plum, herbs, grass, oyster sauce, with a fair amount of grip. 16.5+/20

2010 Richebourg Grand Cru [70% new oak, 80-90 year old vines, 7 barrels produced]; concentrated, mineral, fresh, rocks, smooth, persistant, crushed rocks, elegant and delicate, rounded spicy Richebourg charactar, soft structure, herbs, focused, mineral, sandy, very very long and really superb. 17.5++/20

2010 Bourgogne Rouge; crisp, fresh, mineral, focused, herbs, elegant and appealing, smoky, classic, meaty, red and black fruits, warmth. Nice. 16/20

The Tank Samples

These wines were racked and fined a little bit (not particularly popular in Burgundy) and were resting in tank prior to bottling.

2010 Vosne-Romanee “Les Barreaux” [80-90 year old vines]; rock, minerals, crisp, sandy, black fruits, structured, spice, with depth, round and slick, nice persistance, with elegance, complexity, smooth tannins, nice balance of fruit and acid and lovely length. 17+/20

2010 Echezeaux “Les Loachausses” [19 year old vines, leased to Gros F&S by Francois for 25 years, returned for 2007 vintage]; classic, mineral nose, sandstone, complex, but lifted, meaty but fresh, round, supple, reserved, shy, delicate but with wonderful length. 17.5+/20

2010 Clos Vougeot “Les Grands Maupertui”; [a plot planted in 1907, the current average age of the vines are 65 years old]; soy, rich, powerful, crisp, mineral, delicate subtle length, spice, lifted, fresh and complex, intense finish that is long, soft, spicy, warm and with red and black fruits. Super. 17.5+/20

2010 Bourgogne-Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc “Cuvee Marine”; lemon, lime, passionfruit, minerals, chalk, fresh and crisp, difficult now but with a bit of butter and richness that builds with the more air the wine takes on. Fairly rich finish already but this should improve with age. 16+?/20

2010 Bourgogne Blanc; crisp, round, buttery, shorter but showing a more rounded complexity and minerality. Nutty, syrup, good length, sesame seed oil, pepper and spice. 16.5/20

Spot Anne's Richebourg!!!

In conclusion, it is clear to see that there is certainly a smoky, soft, rounded style that Anne wishes to achieve, but at the same time she wants to stick as closely as possible to tradition but whilst incorporating techniques that she sees as being hugely important to the development of high quality Burgundy. Whilst one may not agree with this philosophy or her style, or may not mind but find the wines too forced, that is fair enough. All well and good, but I enjoyed these wines, and I enjoyed them for the same reason that I enjoyed 2010 as a whole. These wines are all so utterly different in terms of their base material and mineral charactars, but they are clearly wines that Anne Gros made. Perhaps you just want the terroir and nothing else? Well there are plenty who will give you this, but Anne does make captivating wines. Whether she is the best Gros around, well only time and a blind-tasting will tell.

Regardless I like these wines, I think they are excellent and at the lower levels they represent excellent Value for Money. If you have lots of money, I wouldn’t shy away from the grander wines either. They are captivating, complex, but soft, round and giving at the same time. They speak of where they come from and they are intriguing. They are certainly wines that I look forward to see evolve in the near to long term depending on the wine.

I didn't try this one; apparantly it is all sold... 😦

Next time, I will be taking you through the wines I tasted at Maison Lou Dumont in Gevrey-Chambertin, a relatively new negociant business that is all the rage in Asia for reasons that I will go into later on!

Until next time,

Happy Drinking

Posted by: jmbwineblog | January 19, 2012

2010 Burgundy: An Overview!

The last week has seen myself frequenting numerous different tastings of the new vintage of wines from Burgundy. Like last year I have tasted a huge number of samples. This vintage however, I have also been able to taste a wide number direct from barrel at the wineries. In fact, I visited four wineries where I have tasted wines from 2010. Two of which I have already mentioned in previous posts, namely Maison Ilan and Mark Haisma. This past week in London has seen the bulk of my sampling conducted, again with up to 1000 different samples passing my lips. One thing I will say right here and now, is that I really LOVE this vintage at present and think it to be up there with some of the best…

Only time will tell whether this remains to be the case, but I look forward to seeing whether my predictions come true or not.

First however, let me take you through some details with regards to why the vintage has turned out in the way it did. After that, I will explain why I like the wines and finally I will list some of my favourites from the vintage. I will due to the nature of my liking of 2010 be conducting some more in depth reviews of specific producers that I feel are important or need more attention, whether they be new or old in terms of people’s knowledge.

2010’s Weather in a Nutshell.

Post-Harvest Ploughing in Vosne-Romanee

To put the terms gently, this was in no way a good vintage weather-wise, and in fact when the wines were in Cuve (Tank) in late 2010 after the harvest, there wasn’t a lot of love being bandied around by the vignerons. Of course it is never doom and gloom, but after the near perfect weather for 2009, it must have seemed like it. The wines however, have trounced their weather conditions and the gods have transpired to give us some wonderful specimens. The question is, WHY?

The pre-vintage winter was no all intents and purposes a disaster. After a warm autumn post harvest in 2009, the weather became colder and wetter as one wishes to allow the vines to create sap to protect the wood, and go to sleep until the spring. However, on the night of the 22nd of December, temperatures suddenly dropped to -21degrees celcius and large scale frosts damaged buds and even killed vines that had not created enough sap to protect themselves. The worst hit areas were Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanee, but not quite as severely Nuits-Saint-Georges. Those vines that did survive were less plentiful and they won’t have recovered until now. They are considered to have been the worst frosts since 1985 or 1962. 5% of vines have had to be replanted and roughly 650,000 cases worth of wine were lost to this weather. The weather was cool right up until the end of June, with May being wet as well, flowering was late and due to frost damage uneven. This led to coulure (green shot-berries amongst the good berries) and millerandage (uneven bunch sizes, and smaller average berry sizes).

Due to the cool wet weather, there was a lot of disease pressure throughout the growing season, and with the typical hailstorms which continued to destroy fruit locally adding to the challenges, there was a fair amount of rot on the vines. Those with excellent vineyard management, had a lot of hard-work on their hands. In September the cool North winds reappeared, and brought cool but bright sunny days. Other than a hailstorm that damaged Santenay and Chassagne-Montrachet further destroying bunches on the 12th September, harvest began under clear skies on the 21st September.

In conclusion, the grapes being small, and affected by coulure and millerandage, and with so few bunches in comparison to normal plentiful vintages, it seems that those who were able to prevent or cut out rot in their vineyards, didn’t require a large amount of sunlight for the grapes to ripen. When you add the coulure berries and the cool weather that preserves acidity, this leads to nicely balanced, fresh wines that maintain riper fruit charactars. Where as 2009 was warm, 2010 was cool. The wines are thus completely different in terms of style. 2009 was characterised by more black fruit and less acidity, the 2010s whilst with ripe flavours, are more red fruited and with more acidity. In other words, the low yields and difficulties have led to some superb wines being made. Some may argue that the vintage was saved; I would argue that the vintage is a product of itself, difficulties leading to hard-work, leading to success from those who are conscientious.

Why do I like them?

Enjoying at Maison Lou Dumont (tenchijin)

As you will probably have noticed if you read this blog, I like crisp, fresh, mineral or terroir driven wines from any region. I have an aversion to ripeness unless it is married with searing acidity, and whilst I can understand why some people are attracted to the flavours that oak provides a wine, these are not the wines that I enjoy, although I can get to grips with them in an academic sense of the word.

These 2010 Burgundies have these features in spades… they are fresh, elegant and minerally, whether they be white or red. In fact they are so mineral that one could describe them as transparent and terroir driven. What do I mean by this? Well, to put it bluntly, think of what you have come to expect of Meursault in comparison to Puligny-Montrachet! If you have a deeper knowledge of the climats, you could even think what do I expect of a Montrachet as oppose to a Puligny-Montrachet “Les Folatieres”. These wines do exactly what you expect them to do… in fact they are so transparent that if you were one of those rare people who can pick out the climats or vineyards blind, you would probably not find an easier vintage than 2010 in which to do it. Now I’m not saying that I fully understand terroir, or can tell you what the taste differences are between La Tache and Romanee-Conti because you can only see this by tasting them side by side, and other than perhaps mouth-feel, tasting notes would probably look identical. What I am saying is that if you want to get slightly closer to understanding whilst gaining pleasure, you can find that in 2010, and without drinking the wines blind, you could get a pretty good idea of the similarities and differences of different wines and producers and their climats in this vintage by tasting a number side by side. That is the essence of why I like these wines. They are not crowd-pleasers like the 2009s, but exciting, mineral, terroir-driven wines of the sort that I really love.

Who stood out from the crowd.

Looking into La Grande Rue (Francois Lamarche Monopole).

To be completely fair, it is hard at this stage to really garner much more than the terroir, producer style and the general qualities of the vintage as the wines will undoubtedly change between the time of writing and further evaluation of these wines in bottle at the end of the year and beyond. However, at this early stage, I can point out some producers and specific wines that have seemingly performed well so far and consistently across all the tastings to which I attended.

Francois Berthau has made some lovely classy Chambolle-Musigny at all levels, with the blended 1er Cru and the lieu-dits being particularly impressive. Henri Jouan has done similar wonders with his wines, with Morey-Saint-Denis arguably producing his finest in 1er Cru “Clos Sorbe” and Grand Cru, “Clos Saint Denis”. Across the board at cousins Confuron-Gindre and Confuron-Cotetidot have shown very well, pure, bright and deep. The 1er Cru Vosne-Romanees from top plots have been wonderful. Jean-Marie Fourrier has again excelled with a wonderful selection of wines, and in a similar vein it is hard to go further than Clos des Lambrays from Domaine des Lambrays. Domaine Rossignol-Trapet are again on fire across their range with the Clos Prieur being a particular value for money sweet spot. New name Domaine des Clos have produced exciting and enthralling wines that are superb value for money. Domaine de Montille have again excelled in all of their respective guises (Domaine de Puligny-Montrachet & deEX Montille included). Domaine de Courcel are elegant and pure, and Simon Bize is back on form after what was for me a variable 2009. Frederic Esmonin continues to provide superb value for money across the board as does the Clos de Vougeot from Domaine de la Vougerie. In a funky style, Bruno Clavelier has done well, and in a lighter style the wines of Hudelot-Noellat are enthralling with Les Suchots being a particular high point. Patrick JAvillier continues to excel across the board, and Domaine Roulot has made some sexy wines. Fontaine-Gagnard has done well again, and the Pillot (Paul & Jean-MArc) family have made exciting Chassagne. For Chablis, Billaud-Simon, much like Bize, have produced compelling wines after a lack-lustre 2009, with the Montee de Tonnerre being a particular high.

There are plenty of other wines that have excited and enthralled, and there are many that I was unable to taste that most certainly will as well. I have tasted a few Rousseau’s and they are super, but given their price it is hard to advocate buying them. However, over the next few posts, I will go into much greater depth with regards to specific producers and their wines (including a few older vintages to show how they may or may not progress). Starting with a brief look at the wines of Anne Gros that I tasted from barrel in her cellars in Vosne-Romanee in October 2011.

Until then…

Happy Drinking.

Les Hospices de Beaune...

Posted by: jmbwineblog | October 9, 2011

Under the Radar (Les Vins des Hautes-Alpes du Mollard).

When I first made my way to revisit the family residences in France, you may remember that I found an unknown and unloved wine/grape variety called Mollard and may even remember that I recommended trying the wines or searching out for them if you ever make it down to the French Alps, and in particular Gap and the surrounding areas. You may also remember that I said that I would visit arguably the best producer in the region and let you know what it was like to visit them.

Well, that is exactly what I did…

The Winery with a mountaindrop background.


Mollard, is the native grape from the Hautes-Alpes Department in France, and evidence of its long heritage in the region, can be found in the writings of Guyot in his magnum opus with relation to viticulture and vinification. At the time he speaks highly of Mollard, which at the time took up roughly 140 hectares in the environs of Gap, Tallard, Theus, Espinasses, Embrun and a few other areas. The grape is a variety that likes sunlight (of which this area being part of the PACA region has plenty), altitude (we are in the mountains) and it ripens much later than your normal vitis vinifera varieties. This combination is perhaps a reason why the grape variety is on the verge of dissappearing but for the efforts of two men (to whom I will come to shortly). The vines are grown in the Goblet style which is prevalent in the Southern Rhone which isn’t too far away. Today there are probably only 40 hectares of Mollard still planted, and half of these are abandoned being tended to when found by local co-ops, or slowly being purchased by the two main growers of the grape in the region. Other than small new plantings on a low scale, there is not a single vine that is used in wine currently on the market that is less than 40 years old. With some vines well over 100 years old. This is old vine country in extremis.

Le Mollard (one month from full maturity).

Domaine Allemand & Domaine Petit Aout

The two main partners in crime when it comes to wine made from 100% Mollard are in effect the same operation. Marc Allemand is the proprietor of Domaine Allemand, and Yann de Agostini is the wine-maker here. Yann also has his own vines and makes wines from these under his own label. All the wines are made at Domaine Allemand in Theus, although their vines are spread out in various different areas throughout the region. Being mountainess, there are distinct terroir distinctions, but for me the biggest difference between the two is a combination of vine age, and terroir. Yann’s vines are younger than Marc’s, but they are made in identical ways. These two men believe strongly in the potential of these wines (which have a bad reputation because the old winemakers picked grapes based on general thoughts of harvest times, rather than on full phenolic ripeness). Good winemakers, even those who don’t grow Mollard in the region understand this, and the wines are coming on in leaps and bounds. They are going back to how these wines were made hundreds of years ago. These two are also fighting with the authorities to have wines made from 100% Mollard given their own AOC (at present all wines are Vin de Pays des Hautes-Alpes or Indication Geographique Protege Hautes-Alpes). Most Mollard is used in blends, and thus these are the only two domaines who have wines that would thus be allowed.

Yann with some of the Muscat a Petit Grains Vines

Wine-Making Style

Yann likes to be as hands off as possible, in an attempt to allow the grapes and the terroir to shine, whether the wine be a blend, a single variety or a sparkling wine that they are experimenting with. Everything is harvested by hand from mainly Calcium and Limestone soils of which 4 to 5 hectares are Yann’s and 12 hectares are Marc’s. They have recently replanted some plots that historically grew grapes, with the Muscats now at 5 years of age, and the Merlot, Mollard and Chardonnay just in their third year. Everything else is a minimum of 40 years of age, with some vines over 100 years going into the Vieilles Vignes Cuvees.

The Fermentation tanks, with moveable lids.

The fermentations are temperature controlled to 10 or 12 degrees, with natural yeasts used, no pumping over or punch downs for the reds, with the hat, Carbon dioxide, alcohol and fruit levels used to protect against oxidisation. The wines are matured in the tanks, except for a little bit of old wood from Meursault used on some of the prestige Merlot and Mollards. They do not like the taste of oak, and try to avoid it. Everything is done by gravity when things need to be moved, and only a tiny amount of sulphur is used post fermentation. Malolactics take place at their own rate in the vessals being used for maturation.

The extent of the wood, all old... 6 barrels!!

The estate makes one sparkling wine, but another will soon come on to the production line as well. Domaine Marc Allemand have a blanc made from juice taken out of Chardonnay and Muscat, and is made using the traditional method or champagne method and everything is done by hand.

Yann with his Sparkling blanc resting on its lees! All hand spun!

The sparkling wine that will be released soon is some early run-off from the Domaine Petit Aout Rose. It is to some extent and experiment, but one that will produce some interesting results. The wine is still eggy at present having tried a mid-secondary fermentation bottle but there is lovely fruit charactar and purity to the wine. Although it is a wine that technically is a traditional method wine, Yann is following the Provencal method, where the wine is fermented to a higher degree primarily than in Champagne, and gaining less spritz with more ripeness to the sparkler. Perhaps this means that there is less need for dosage when the wine is finished, but the wine already has more body that the whites! The grape is 100% Mollard.

Discussing the bottle before opening it up for a taste!

The Domaine also makes eau de vie from various fruits, and they are also available from the shop attached to the winery, where we would taste through a number of the wines. These are also of a high quality, as many top quality fruits are planted in the area as well.

Fruits fermenting away to be distilled into Eau de Vie.

The Wines

I have tasted a number of bottles from both these producers prior to the visit and as such, I will add these to the tasting note section, and will also add some notes from tastings held after the visit from bottles that Yann gave to me to taste.

At home…

2010 Vieilles Vignes Cepage Mollard, Domaine Marc Allemand, IGP Hautes-Alpes: perfumed, red plum, strawberry, rose, rosewater. Soil, earth, rocks, poised and fresh, some tannic structure, and vibrant acidity. Well balanced, restrained and slightly herby. Pebble stones and sand, a bit of escargot and basil. Rosemary, herbs, nice black plum and earth coming through with more time in the glass. The finish is long, subtle and restrained. Focused, delineated, but with structure and balance. You could see this ageing for at least 5 years. Bramble, forest fruits, clearly not as rich as 2009s, but with more refinement, balance, delicate and elegant, with more old vine charactar. This is high quality, but needs a lot of time for one to sit and contemplate, what this is all about. It grows and slowly reveals more of its subtle charactar. Hints of chocolate and blueberries. A slight touch of wood spice but it will integrate well in time. This is all about the minerality. The soil, the earth, where this wine comes from and the unknown grape that produces it. Mint, eucalyptus, and even a tiny hint of bell pepper giving a vegetal lift to the finish and keeps it all from being fruit driven. Kernal. A touch of expresso pops in here and there, but is very subtle and hidden as you start to wander whether the flavour is actually present. Sandstone, truffle, and a hint of meat appear with further aeration, braised pork and leather, but the palate shows more fruit both red and black. A bit of pain grille gives a kind of blueberry muffin sensation as well. This really shows what this region nearly lost but hasn’t because of two visionaries. If you like fresh fruit, herbs and minerals, you will like this. [4+4+4+4.5=16.5/20]

2009 La Memoire Neuve Cepage Mollard; Domaine Petit Aout; IGP Hautes-Alpes: cherries,black forest fruits, earth, chocolate, dark plum, some nice rocky, slightly iron ore minerality. A fresh, balanced, supple wine, with soft tannins, cherry, plum, minerals, liquorice. Nicely poised with some depth, in many ways it reminds me of unoaked Dolcetto showing lots of red fruits. A bit of bubblegum in the background which dissipates with air. I can see this developing as it is balanced, has good depth, but is already lovely to drink, and goes well with food. I could see this being really loveable in a few years time. [4+4+4+4=16/20]

At the winery:

2010 Orcanette Blanc; Domaine Marc Allemand [a blend of Chardonnay, Muscat a Petits Grains and Ugni Blanc]: grape, olive, balanced, round, nice freshness, lemon, very good length, soil, earth, chalk, limestone and minerals. [4+4+4+4=16/20]

2009 Le Globe-Trotteur; Domaine Marc Allemand [100% Chardonnay]; crisp, fresh, olives, richness, balanced, lemon curd, lemon butter. [4+4+4.5+4.5=17/20]

2010 New Rose; Domaine Petit Aout [100% Mollard]; plum, roses, round, ripe, mineral, soft and appealing, nice length, elegance. Strawberry. [4+4+3.5+4=15.5/20]

2010 Rivieres d’Ete Rose; Domaine Marc Allemand [Cinsault and Muscat blend]; crisp, mineral, delicate, provencale style, earth, soil, strawberry, raspberry, grassy, herby finish. Classic. [4+4+4+4.5=16.5/20]

2010 Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Cepage Mollard; Domaine Marc Allemand: crisp, round, clean, soft, dolcetto-like, earth, lime, deep, poised, tobacco, smoke, leafy, herbs, basil, rosemary. Good length. Dark. [4+4+4.5+4.5=17+/20]

2010 Les Amis Imaginaires; Domaine Petit Aout [50% Mollard, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon with Malolactic fermentation taking place in barrique] herbs, dark plum, cedar, tobacco, pepper, soil, coffee, spice, smoke, needs time but has good balance and length. Clean, crisp, bramble, plum, cassis. [4+4.5+4.5+4.5=17.5/20]

2010 Rayon du Soleil; Domaine Marc Allemand [late harvest Muscat a Petit Grains]; crisp, round, fruity nose, grapey and balanced, elegant, grass, herbs, orange peel, lime zest. [4.5+4+4+4.5=17/20]

Eau de Vie de Plum Mirabelle; Domaine Marc Allemand; crisp, clean, smooth, plummy, round, delicate, subtle but with power. Earthy and herby. [4+4+5+4=17/20]

The Boozy Bottle...

Back at home post visit…

NV Brut Methode Traditionelle; Domaine Marc Allemand: oyster shell, herbs, grass, chalk, lemon, olive, poised, balanced, round and subtle. Lime, lemon zest. Good length, a touch of yeasty breadiness. [4+4.5+4.5+4=17/20]

2010 Sur Le Fil; Domaine Petit Aout [Chardonnay and Muscat a Petit Grains with a hint of residual sugar left behind]; oyster shell, olive, grapey, poised, deep and intriguing. Nicely balanced, real depth and je ne sais quoi. Sea air, salty, subtle, restrained, and not willing to show everything, with a long slightly chili spice finish. Grass, herbs, lemon, lime, precise, round, slightly closed but this will age; nuts and wax with time to aerate. [3.5+4.5+4.5+4=16.5++/20]

2010 Les Amis Imaginaires; Domaine Petit Aout: crisp, structured, plum, cherry and some greenish cassis, earth, tobacco, cedar, smoke, minerals more serious but the Cabernet seems to be more for structure as oppose to vinious charactar. Soft tannins, and good length to the finish, balanced, fresh, elegant. Herbs, a bit of mint, soil, flint and a linear red and black plum finish. This will improve; the question is, How will it taste being the first vintage. [4.5+4+4.5+4=17+?/20]

a day later… plum, strawberry, raspberry jam, cassis, herbs and a savoury note, earth and truffle, again the tannins are soft but perhaps a touch more prominent and the Cabernet shows more. More depth and focus. Lovely freshness, with lots of mineral charactar, fresh blood and roses. Working well with a well made steak. Still young and clearly needs more time to pull together. Mint, earth, and a touch of chocolate dusted truffles and plums. I have more faith in this wine now. [4+4.5+4.5+4.5=17.5/20]

Mollard Vines

The wines of the Alps are most certainly idiosyncratic, and show a strong mineral charactar, due to the age of the vines, and the high altitudes at which the grapes grow. The altitude and low nighttime temperatures means that acidity is well maintained despite the very hot summer day-time temperatures. If the grapes are allowed to gain full phenolic ripeness you can ripe fruit flavours, but they are always balanced. Of course, rain and sunlight will have some affect on the type of flavours, but you can guarantee freshness which means that the wines will age. To be fair it is too early to tell how the wines will develop as there are few old examples of any quality as the wines are more than drinkable young. What one can say, is that Yann de Agostini is making excellent wines whether it be from his own wines or from the vines that Marc Allemand owns.

They plan to expand their holdings further and really put Mollard on the map, both in France and also globally. The firmly believe it to be a variety that will work well in South America in the Andes due to its liking of altitude and late ripening. Once they find the best clones, they will aim to try to export the vines around the world, but for the meantime they are doing a great job of trying to improve quality in the region and an upgrade to AOC based on the quality of the wines is not out of the question. I for one will be following their development closely.

Keep an eye out for these! There are more good producers.

Until next time, Happy Drinking.

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