Category Archives: Bordeaux

Celebrating the Year of the Horse

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Lobster

Every year, we get together with friends and celebrate Chinese New Year.  Since this is the year of the horse, we decided on a theme — wine vintages from past years of the horse. I was told that I was born in the year of the water horse but I could not find a wine from that year.

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

We chose the Oriental Gardens Restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown for the dinner. The service was excellent and so was the food. Our waiter was the best that I have ever had in a Chinese restaurant and could have qualified as a sommelier at a top restaurant.

The Wines

2002 Year of the Water Horses

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Chablis Domaine Billaud- Simone Cru “Les Preuses” 2002  100% Chardonnay. The exposure is south; southeast and the vines are 65 years old. Harvesting is by hand. Vinification is in stainless steel. Aging is for 8 to 10 years depending on the vintage. This is an elegant complex wine, with aromas of honey, toast and lemon with good minerality, a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. It was a great way to start the celebration.

1990 Year of the Metal Horse

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Regaleali Rosso Sicilia IGT 1990 made from 100% Nero d’Avola. Fermentation is in stainless steel for an average of 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel 50% and 50% in oak casks of 30HL and 60HL for 6 months. This was a real surprise. The wine was 24 years old and is the type of wine that one would think is to be drunk young. It was in vey good condition with no signs of oxidation and enough fruit to make it very enjoyable.

1966   Year of the Fire Horse

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Chateau Montrose 1966 – Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 30% and Cabernet Franc 5%.  Back then, the average age of the vines was 29 years. The wine was aged for 22 to 24 months in barrel. Robert Parker in his book Bordeaux (1985) writes that the anticipated maturity of the wine is between 1986 and 2010. The wine is classic St-Estephe and was drinking like a younger wine.

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Chianti Classico Fattoria Di Santa Christina 1966 Fattoria dei Marchesi Lodovico and Piero Antinori. I am not surprised anymore when I drink older Chianti Classico. This wine was made with white grapes, Trebbiano and Malvasia, and they most likely used the governo method (drying 10% of the grapes).   This was the wine of the evening for me.

1978 Year of the Earth Horse

Barolo “Vigneto Rocchette” 1978 Giovanni Accomasso & Figli. I do not believe that I have had any wine from this producer. The location of the winery is La Morra but as far as I know it is not imported into the USA.

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 Barbaresco Bricco Asili 1978 100% Nebbiolo Ceretto.  We had this wine at another New Year celebration a few days later and it was showing so well I just had to include it.

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Barolo 1978 Cogno- Marcarini  100% Nebbiolo–  This wine was made when Elvio Cogno was the winemaker. Cogno produced some of the best classic traditional wines that it has been my pleasure to drink. This one was no exception and it was the wine of the evening for a number of people. 1978 was a very good vintage for Barolo. Wasserman gave Cogno’s Barolo 4 stars, his highest rating.

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Filed under Antinori, Barbaresco, Barolo, Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti Classico, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Regaleali, Uncategorized

Three Bordeaux Producers at the Wine Media Guild

Ever year the Wine Media Guild does a Bordeaux tasting and lunch at Felidia restaurant in NYC. This year we had the wines from three top Chateaus along with a representative from each one. It was a very interesting tasting going back to 1978.

The speakesr were John Kolasa – Chateau Canon, Edouardo Moueix- Chateau La Fleur Petrus and Jean-Michel La Porte – Chateau La Conseillante. Chateau Canon St. Emilion

Mr. Kolasa began by saying that wine is a happy match between grape variety and soil type. The current blend is 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc.

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The different plots of vines total 54 acres of very uniform soil types, which is the first hint that Chateau Canon is unusual with respect to the rest of the Saint Emilion area. The soil is a combination of limestone containing fossilized starfish covered by a thin layer of clay left behind by a prehistoric lake which constitute an ideal environment for the grape varieties, The different steps in the vineyard management calendar are scrupulously respected throughout the year. Chateau Canon manages its plots sustainably, ensuring perfect ripeness and making it easier to identify the best batches of fruit, which are vinified separately. The policy is clearly to foster environmental preservation.

2001 There was an oaky vanilla component to this wine which seemed to overwhelm all the other aromas and flavors. I did not find this in any of the other Chateau Cannon wines that I tasted.

2005 This is a classic vintage and it will age.

2008 This was a mixed vintage some very good wines but no great ones. However you can but the better ones at a good price.

With Lunch

1998 This was a very successful vintage and I found it drinking very nicely now but it will last for a few more years.

1989 This was a true classic vintage. The wine is ready to drink and it had a soft, smooth feel on the palate

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1978 This was the wine of the afternoon for me and I had a lot of agreement. It is classic old Bordeaux with a background of leather, a touch of spice and lingering berry aromas and flavors.

Chateau La Fleur-Petrus Pomerol   the wine is made from 90% Merlot (30 years old vines) and Cabernet Franc (50 years old vines) There are 2,600 vines per acre.

Edouard Moueix

Edouard Moueix

There are 47 acres of vineyards and the soil is mainly gravelly with some clay. The hand- picked grapes are sorted using an optical system. Traditional fermentation takes place with 16 to 20 days maceration in concrete and stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in French oak barrels, 50 % new. Mr. Edouardo Moueix said that today the Chateau is composed of three major blocks, within 500 meters of one another. They are situated at an altitude between 35 and 38 meters, along side some of Pomerol’s top chateaux’s as its neighbors. The last parcel was purchased in 2012.This terroir is mainly gravelly soil. The plateau of Pomerol is between 30 and 40 meters.

2008 -This was a successful vintage

2009 – This is one of the great vintages of the last 60 years and already a bench -mark for its power and natural concentration

2010 This is a big well-structured tannic wine that needs another 15 or 20 years to develop

2012 This is a wine that is very up front with ripe fruit, It was drinking very well for such a young wine.

Wines with lunch

1998 Drinking very well and a wine you can drink now or hold for a few years

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2001 Classic vintage-underestimated after the fanfare of the 2000. It is a remarkably well -balanced wine and drinking very nicely now.

2006 This was big tannic wine that will age

Chateau La Conseillante Pomerol Mr. Jean-Michel Laporte said that 80% of the vines are Merlot and is grown in soil the is mostly clay,  the combination of soil and Merlot makes the wine round, deep and smooth. The remaining 20% is Cabernet Franc, which grows in gravel soil and contributes structure and freshness.

Jean-Michel Laporte

Jean-Michel Laporte

The soil composition is 60% grey clay and 40% sandy gravel, resting on red (iron) clay. There are 11.8 hectors of unbroken vineyards. There are 6,500 vines per hectare on average, the training system is double guyot and the age of the vines is 34 years. There is optimal phenolic ripeness and harvesting is by hand in low – capacity, open trays.

Sorting of the grapes is on 4 tables by hand and by machine. Pre-fermentation cold maceration takes place for 2 to 5 days. The wine is vatted for 3 to 4 weeks in 22 temperature controlled epoxy coated concrete tanks. A vertical wine press is used and the separate aging of the pressed wine takes place. The wine is aged 50 to 80% new oak barrels, from a number of carefully selected coopers for 18 months. There is racking using air pressure very 3 months and 2 to 3 fresh egg whites are used per barrel.

1998 unfortunately this wine was corked.IMG_4623

2001 This is a well- balanced wine that is ready to drink now

2005 This wine needs time to age.

All three speakers made the point of the importance of having the right terrior for the grapes that you are growing.

In answer to the question how do you know when the grapes are ready to be picked, one of speakers answered when I pick them. However they all agreed that they have the best modern equipment to tell  when the grapes are ready to be picked than they had 25 or so years ago. That is one of the reasons that today’s wines will not taste like the wines from 30 years ago!

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Filed under Bordeaux, Uncategorized

A Second New Year Celebration

 

The day before New Years Eve, Michele and I and a group of friends went to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa. We had a great time and drank some wonderful wines.

The New Year came again in February — the Chinese New Year–the year of the snake. This time we did not go very far to celebrate.  We went to Congee Village on Allen Street in NYC for their special Chinese New Year menu. The corkage fee is only $10 per bottle so we brought our own wines.  The food was very good and plentiful.

Steamed Live Fish

Steamed Live Fish

To begin our celebration of the year of the snake we started with Champagne.IMG_2753

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2006 Trento DOC Method Classico made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari, estate vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level. The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond.  It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.  I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.
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Grande Réserve Brut Bouzy André Clouet 100% Grand Cru estate-bottled Bouzy pinot noir aged six years on yeast; with strawberry, wheat kernel, and stone flavors along with a pleasing touch of cream in the mid palate and finish.

The Clout family owns 8 hectares of vines in preferred mid-slope vineyards in Grand Crus Bouzy and Ambonnay, and has excelled as a pinot noir specialist even within Bouzy, an appellation specifically celebrated for the quality of its pinot noir. The wines are cellared under the family’s 17th century village house – built by an ancestor who acted as printer to Louis XV’s royal court at Versailles. Respect for terroir is evident in these traditionally crafted wines. The labels are attractively old-fashioned in design.IMG_2759

Champagne Dom Ruinart  Blanc de Blancs1993 in Magnum.  Made from Grand cru Chardonnay grapes exclusively from the Côte des Blancs (66%) and the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims (34%). This is an elegant and powerful Champagne with nice fruit, hints of peach and pear, good minerality and a touch of toast.

Pan Fried Baby Lamb Chops

Pan Fried Baby Lamb Chops

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Meursault-Charmes Premire Cru- Les Charmes Dessus 2007 Domaine Antonin Guyon 100% Chardonnay Meursault is one of the villages in the southern part of the Côte de Beaune. They have a 69-acre plot here. The soil is white marl and the vines are over 30 years old. In 2007 a sunny September allowed the grapes to ripen well and the harvest to take place under excellent conditions. Sorting of the grapes takes place at the winery. Fermentation is at low temperatures in oak barrels with stirring twice a week. The wine is aged in oak barrels 1/3 new and bottled after 15 months.

Chinese Vegetables E. Fu Noodles

Chinese Vegetables E. Fu Noodles

IMG_2750Meursault – Genevrieres Premier Cru 2000 Domaine Latour Giraurd A Premier Cru vineyard of the Meursault  appellation in the Côte de Beaune. It is a large vineyard located in the southern end of the commune. They have 10 hectares. The vineyard is divided into halves- Genevrieres above and Genevrieses below. The upper section has better drainage and more morning sunlight and therefore produces better fruit. Free run juice and wild natural yeast is used and the wine is kept on the lees for a long period of time with racking kept to a minimum. There is no fining or filtration. The wine is fermented and aged in barrels about 1/3, which are new between 14/16 months. I believe the wine is bottled by hand.

House Special Cold Dungeness Crabs-Chao Style

House Special Cold Dungeness Crabs-Chao Style

IMG_2762Chateau Beychevelle 1970 St. Julien 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Aged for 20 months in barriques, 1/2 new. This is what Robert Parker says about the 1970 in his book Bordeaux. “Fully mature with a spicy, plum-like bouquet, and some caramel aromas…round fruity, quiet silky and soft and nicely concentrated. It lacks the complexity and depth of the best 1970’s, but it is still quite attractive. Drink over the next 3-4 years”. He last tasted the wine in 9/84 and gives it an 84 rating.
I agree with Parker in his description of the wine except for the caramel aromas.  I do not agree with his rating.
Almost 30 years later the wine is showing extremely well. It is an elegant wine, complex, has depth and will last for a number of years.IMG_2760

Mas Daumas Gassac 1990 Vin de Pays l’Hèrault Languedoc. Aimé Guilbert.  Made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 different varieties. The winery is located in the Gassac Valley. A rare and still unexplained, red, fine glacial soil dominates the valley.  The grapes are hand harvested. Long fermentation and maceration, a minimum of 20 days, in stainless steel tanks and no filtration. The wine spends about 16 months in oak barrels, with a maximum of 10% new. This is a big, powerful wine that I first discovered with the 1983 vintage and have been drinking ever since.

There were two dessert wines, a Madeira Barbeito Sercial 1978 and a 1923 Sauterne I could not read the name of the producer.  The Madeira was showing very well. 

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Filed under Andre Clouet, Bordeaux, Champagne, Chateau Beyechevelle, Ferrari, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Madeira, Mas Daumas Gassac, Meursault- Genevrieres, Meursault-Charmes, Spumante

A Night at Bern’s Steak House

During lunch at SD26, Ed said that they were thinking of flying to South Carolina because Mary needed to acquire more miles to qualify for a gold frequent flyer card from an airline. Their plan was to stay overnight and return the next day.

I suggested they go to Florida instead.  Ed said, “why Florida?”  Travis answered Bern’s Steak House.  We all knew about Bern’s but only Travis and Nicole had been there.  After a very brief discussion, Mary and Ed decided that they liked the idea.  Travis then said, “Why don’t we all go?”  So that is how a group of 8 of us flew to Tampa, had dinner at Bern’s on Sunday night, and returned to New York for dinner at my apartment on New Year’s Eve.  

One of the many wine rooms in Bern's

One of the many wine rooms in Bern’s

Bern’s Steak House may have the largest wine list in the world. They have over 1,250 wines on the list, 6,800 different wines, and a total of over half a million bottles.
Travis had contacted Brad Dixon, one of the sommeliers at Bern’s Steak House, so he was ready for us when we arrived. We discussed the wine list with him and he also made suggestions that were not on the list and told us all about them. He is very knowledgeable and was a great help when it came to Burgundy. IMG_2579
Since Ed always starts with Champagne, he ordered the Perrier-Jouet “Fleur de Champagne” 1996 in magnum to start.   Made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier, it comes in the popular and beautiful “Flower Bottle”. 1996 was a great year for Champagne. The wine was just starting to come around and will last for many more years.  It was a perfect start to a great wine evening.IMG_2567

Rully  Domaine Faiveley 1982 100% Chardonnay. The exposure is east and the soil is clay and limestone. Perfectly mature grapes are harvested and transported to the Faiveley winery in Mercurey. The must is extracted using a pneumatic press and settles in a vat overnight. Vinification lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in vats for 11 weeks and the lees are stirred regularly. The wine is racked in Mercurey and transported to Nuits-Saint Georges, the headquarters of Domaine Faiveley, where it is prepared for bottling. This is how the wine is made today though it may have been different 30 years ago. This wine was showing its age but was still drinking well. It will not last much longer and I attribute its lasting this long to the excellent storage facilities at Bern’s. This wine was under $50. Bern’s has a large selection of older wines from Italy and less known parts of France for under $50.IMG_2569
Echezaux 1959.  This is a negociant wine from T. Thorin
and the label indicates the location of his offices which were in the village of Pontanevoux. IMG_2570Domaine Romanee Saint-Vivant 1962.  100% Pinot Noir This is 9.54 hectare vineyard just above the village of Vosne.  At one time, over half was owned by Domaine Merey-Monge but the vineyard however was tended by and the wines made by Romanée Conti.  Domaine de la Romanée is now the principal owner with 5.29 hectares. There are 11 owners altogether.

IMG_2573Romanée St. Vivant 1970 Marey-Monge 100% Pinot Noir in magnum. (We ordered magnums when they were available.)
All I can say is that the Burgundies were exceptional and none were showing their age.

Bordeaux Haut Batailley 1959. I believe it is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Mary paid for this wine to thank us for supporting her quest for miles. It was wonderful. IMG_2577
Châteauneuf-du-Pape  1961 in Magnum Delas Freres This is a northern Rhône negociant that buys juice for their wines  in the southern Rhône.
1961 was an exceptional vintage and this was the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape that I have ever had. In fact a number of people said that it was too young! Today it is owned by the Champagne house Roederer.IMG_2583

Cossart Madeira Sercial 1905 – the oldest shipper of Madeira wine, established in 1745. Made from the Sercial grape. Sercial Maderia is the driest of the four classic varieties of Madeira. It is also the lightest and most acidic and delicate expression of Madeira and takes the longest to mature. Maderia Sercial is a white fortified wine made on the volcanic island of Madeira, which belongs to Portugal.  Of the two Madeira Sercials that we drank on two consecutive nights, the 1910 Leacock (New Years Eve) was showing slightly better.

After dinner at Bern’s Steak House you are taken to the dessert rooms, set in empty wine barrels!  They offer an array of interesting desserts and a full range of dessert wines to go with them.

We all had a great time and it was worth the trip!

We are back on I-Italy|TV:   This Saturday at 11:00 PM repeated Sunday at 1:00 PM.

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Filed under Bern's Steak House, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Madeira

The Perfect Lunch

Prior to our lunch at Gramercy Tavern in NYC, a friend, who dines there regularly, selected the menu.  He selected each of the courses to go with one of the wines we would be drinking. The seven diners were supposed to bring one wine each.  Somehow we wound up with nine. It was one of those rare occasions were everything worked out perfectly – – the wine, the food and the company.

We started as we always do with Champagne:  IMG_2440
Blanc de Blanc “Roses Jeanne” 2006
Cédric Bouchard. I have never tasted any Champagne from this producer and was very impressed by this one. I believe he only produces single vintage, single vineyard wines and that they are fermented and aged in stainless steel.  The winemaker interferes in the process as little as possible.  It was also different from other Champagnes. The bubbles were very small and it had a crisp, fresh taste with subtle citrus fruit flavors that would make it go very well with food.  He also makes a Champagne from 100% Pinot Blanc!IMG_2443
Sauternes 1997 Château d’ Yquem made from 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Harvesting is by hand.  Successive waves of pickers are sent into the vineyard and the grapes are picked one at a time. This is to ensure that only the grapes with the “noble rot” Botrytis are selected. The grapes are pressed three times and then aged in oak barrels for 3 years. 1997 is considered a great vintage. Château d’Yquem will not produce a 2012. We had this with the Foie Gras with Poached Quince, Walnuts and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Wonderful!IMG_2445
Montrachet “Côte de Beaune” 2005 Louis Jadot made from 100% Chardonnay. 2005 was a very good vintage with almost perfect conditions. The wine is fermented in wooden barrels and aged for 18 to 20 months in wooden barrels before it is bottled. This is a big rich wine and will last for a number of years.IMG_2447
Meursault 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils I00% Chardonnay
This is a wine that I have drunk a number of times and always enjoyed. I believe it is at its peak now but should hold for a few more years.  These two white wines were served with Striped Bass with Leeks Beacon and Brussels Sprouts.IMG_2448
Gevry Chambertin  Corbeaux 1985 Domaine Leroy 100% Pinot Noir This is a great Burgundy from one of the top producers and it was exceptional. IMG_2451
Barolo 1971 Serralunga d’Alba Pira 100 % Nebbiolo. Sheldon Wasserman in his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines says that “Luigi Pira was… the single finest producer in Barolo” Pira was a traditionalists and the crushing of the grapes was by feet. The grapes were brought into the cellar, the bunches were put into tini, large upright oak vats’ and the men crushed them with their bare feet and the wine was fermented. Luigi Pira died in 1980 and the tradition of pigiatura a peidi died with him. Wasserman gives the vintage and the wine four stars, his highest rating. Some 32 years after Wasserman tasted the wine I would have to agree with him. We had these two wines with Duck Breast with Lentils, Parsnips, Hazelnuts and Trumpet Mushrooms.IMG_2454
Bordeaux Château Montrose 1983 Saint-Estêphe made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This wine was at its peak and I think it will remain there for a few years. In my opinion 1983 was a very good vintage in Bordeaux but it was overshadowed by the 1982’s. The 1983’s are a good buy if you can find them. The wine was drinking very well, soft, with hints of dark fruit, spice and just a touch of leather.

Amarone 1964 Bertani 70% Corvina Veronese; 30% Rondinella- this is the present blend.IMG_2456

Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the “Guyot “ method with 5.000 vines/ha. Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.

Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster — those grapes richest in sugar and extracts — are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine is transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years (the 1964, I believe, spent a longer time in wood) during which it is racked twice annually prior to bottling.

Aromas of freshly picked cherries mingled with notes of sour cherries, and an agreeable trace of spicinessDry, full-bodied, amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice with a finish that recalls walnuts and hazelnuts. 1964 was a legendary vintage for Amarone and this wine lived up to it. We enjoyed these two wines withIMG_2453

Roasted & Braised Lamb with Broccoli and Ruby Crescent Potatoes.

Vintage Port Fonseca 1970IMG_2457
Here is the vintage report:  Winter rainfall from October to March was 40cm, which was slightly above average. A very dry spring followed by rain in May and June. From July to October almost no rain fell and the vintage was made under ideal conditions.
Picking started on the 21st September and bunches were in perfect condition and completely free from disease. Sunny days and cool nights resulted in musts with tremendous depth of color. Yields were high. 1970 was an excellent vintage.
This is a 42-year-old port that will still last for a number of years. It has aromas of red fruit, ripe raisins, caramel and a hint of spice among others. The wine has great depth but also very subtle, balanced with a long full finish and after taste. We had the port with a selection of farmstead cheeses.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Filed under Amaro, Barolo, Bertani, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cedric Bouchard, Champagne, Fonseca, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Pira, Port, Vintage Port

A Wine Weekend

Last weekend began on Thursday night with a bottle of Champagne on a Manhattan terrace and ended with a bottle of 1990 Bordeaux in Sag Harbor on Sunday night. And there were some very nice wines in between.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV (Epernay)
Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, this was the perfect champagne to serve at a cocktail party: light, elegant, soft and crisp with a floral aroma.
Bandol Rosè 2010
Chateau de Pibarnon made from 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Cinsault. The location of the vineyards is on Telegraph Hill where the terraced vineyards form a sort of amphitheater to protect it from the  Mistral.  The soil has large quantities of blue marl, and limestone, stones and rocks as well as fossil material, which make it unlike any other soil in the appellation.  Traditional goblet (bush vines) training for the vines. After 30%/50% destemming, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is salmon in color with floral and white peach aromas and tastes of white peaches. This is one of the best rose´ wines that I have had in along time.

Brunello di Montalcino “Pian della Vigna”DOCG 1999
Antinori. Made from 100% Sangiovese. The Pian della Vigna estate is located 3.5 miles to the south of the town of Montalcino. The soil is mostly clay and calcareous with many small stones. The grapes are softly pressed and the must has 15 to 21 days of skin contact in 125-hectoliter temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in large oak casks for a period of more ten two years. Complete malolactic fermentation takes place in oak. This is a big complex Brunello with red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, tobacco and a touch of spice. This wine will age for a number of years.

Barolo “Le Gramolere” DOCG 1993 G. Manzone made from 100% Nebbiolo. I visited the winery in November 2010 and met with the owner and wine maker Giovanni Manzone and his son Mauro. The winery is on the top of a hill called Le Gramolere overlooking the town of Monforte D’Alba. Giovanni said that they harvest the second week of October but in the past it was the first or second week of November. This is a very traditional winery.
Maceration on the skins is for 15 days and the wine is aged in 25HL oak casks for 24 months and bottled 36 months after the harvest. This wine was drinking very nicely with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and raspberry and a touch of spice and balsamic in the finish.

Barolo Riserva “Monprivato Ca’D’ Morissio” 1993 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giuseppe Mascarello The harvest takes place toward the middle of October but in 1993 it most likely took place in the beginning of November. Estate grown bunches are thinned during the summer. The wine undergoes traditional floating cap fermentation for 20/25 days. The wine is aged in medium size oak barrels for about 38 months. The wine is bottled four years after the vintage. This is a big classic Barolo with good rich red fruit and hints of leather, tobacco and spice. It will age for a number of years.

The label indicates the number of bottles produced according to size. The 750 ml bottle is called an Albeisa* bottle.  The label says Albeisa, Magnum and Double Magnum followed by the number of bottles produced for each.  

*The Albeisa bottle goes back to the beginning of the 18th century. Wine makers in the Alba district proud of their wine wanted a different shaped bottle to distinguish them from other wines in Piedmont. During the Napoleonic invasion the Albeisa was replaced by two typical French bottles — Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Both were more uniform and cheaper to make. In 1973, 16 producers joined together and started using the Albeisa bottle again. The aim of the Albeisa association is to characterize and qualify oenology products of the Langhe and the Roero hills. Only wines with denominations within this area can be bottled in the Albesia bottle.  
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) made from 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 Merlot. Aged in 80% new barriques and 20% in barriques that are one year old.
This wine was just starting to come around and can age for a few more years.
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1990 (Pauillac) The1990 is a big wine that is not ready to drink. Both wines were served with grilled lamb and at this point in time the 1988 was the better wine with the lamb. For a wine to drink now I would buy the 1988 and for a wine to age, the 1990.

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Filed under Albeisa bottle, Bordeaux, Brunello, Champagne, French Red, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Rose, Sangiovese

Good Friends, Champagne and Old Wine


My friend Albert and I were planning to have lunch at restaurant SD26 in NYC recently. He told me he wanted to bring a bottle of 1966 Chateau Ausone and said that he also had another ‘66 and a ‘62. When I mentioned this to Irwin, a member of my wine group, he said that Ausone is his favorite wine. Then he said that if I would organize a dinner with Albert and the Ausone, he would bring a 1996 Champagne Krug and a 1931 Chateau Latour. Two other members of the wine group, Travis and Nicole, said they would come and bring some older wines, too. I could not wait to arrange this dinner. SD 26 was closed for an event on the night that we could all get together. However Tony May the owner said we could have one of the small private rooms and it was perfect.

The Wines

Champagne Krug 1996  Made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, the percentage of each variety depends on the vintage. The wine is aged in used barriques. Full bodied, complex and dry with a hint of toast. This wine will last for many years. This is a great wine in an excellent vintage. Is there any better way to begin the evening than with Krug Champagne.

Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1931 Pauillac, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdpt.  Made from old vines in the 47 ha of the original Enclos. Today there are 10,000 vines per hectare but I do not know if it was the same 80 years ago. I believe 1931 was not a great year in Bordeaux but Latour is known for making great wines even in off years.  The wine is 81 years old and it was in great condition, good color, no signs of oxidation, elegant and balanced — a classic Pauillac.

My first experience drinking Latour was with the 1963 vintage, a very poor vintage. The year was 1969 and I paid $3.99 a bottle for the wine in a store in Brooklyn. The wine was wonderful and Chateau Latour became my favorite Bordeaux.

Barolo 1931 100% Nebbiolo. Borgogno This was the only disappointment. The wine was starting to come apart with celery aromas and high VA. We could not drink it.

Chianti Vecchio Della Fattoria Santa Christina 1943 Cantine del Marchese Ludovico e Piero Antinori
The wine was mostly Sangiovese with some Canaiolo and Colorino, and two white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano.  Most likely the governo method was used. The wine was in perfect condition.  There were hints of fruit and the aroma of sunshine on the Tuscan pines.
On the neck label it reads: “Consortium for the defense of the typical wine of Chianti”.

Ask any producer of Chianti today and they will tell you that Chianti made with white grapes and using the governo method will not age. In order to make “great Chianti” they must use international grapes and concentrators and put the wine in barriques. Chianti has lost its identity. I guess the present Consortium does not defend the typical wine of Chianti.
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Chateau Ausone Premier Grand Cru, St. Emilion 1962 Made from 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard is only 7 hectares and there are 6,500 vines per hectare. This is a wine with great color and body with hints of leather and cherry and a great finish and aftertaste. It was one of the best St. Emilion’s I have ever tasted.  Then I tasted the Ausone 1966 and it was even better.

Fixin Clos Napoleon 1959 Domaine A.Ligeret 100% Pinot Noir.  The label indicated that it was a special bottling for the Chevaliers du Tastevin. The wine was showing very few signs of age and it was a elegant and classic Burgundy.

This was a very special dinner with good friends and great wine.  I cannot wait to do it again. Albert still has some more Ausone and Travis said that he had another Borgogno Barolo 1931.

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