Archive for March 2008

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2007

March 25, 2008

img_4200.jpgRiesling is for the Eden Valley what Shiraz is for the Barossa. This variety has in fact become a synonym for this region where it performs on the central stage with great finesse and balance. The historical close relationship between the two is clearly shown by the establishment of the Pewsey Vale vineyard by Joseph Gilbert in 1847 as most famous and oldest example, while others as Leo Buring, Heggies, Henschke and Peter Lehmann followed more than a century later. Amongst those big names I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem from Karra Yerta, a winery with a tiny vineyard originally planted in the early 20th century by the same family that planted Chris Ringland’s Three Rivers vineyard. After an era of decline present owners James and Marie Linke decided to revive the old vineyard including 0.40 hectare of Muscat Blanc, 0.60 hectare of Semillon, 0.43 hectare of Shiraz and 0.49 hectare of Riesling. Saved for wineloving mankind this has turned out to be a wise decision as the 75 years-old Riesling vines produces wines that are truly outstanding. The 2007 Riesling shows a brilliantly intense nose of lime, citrus with apple, peach and hints of spice adding background and complexity. The warm and dry vintage conditions are absorbed remarkably well on a palate that is positively open and fleshed out without losing its wonderful linear acidity. A fantastic wine that already presents about everything you’ll like to see from this variety although it can be cellared for at least another 5 years with confidence. 92 points

Source: Winery Sample  Price: $20  Drink: Now-2013+

Web: www.karrayertawines.com.au

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Domaine Henry Pelle Clos des Blanchais Menetou-Salon 2006

March 13, 2008

img_4172.jpgAfter trying Pellé’s solid entry-level Menetou-Salon and Sancerre I was delighted to find this domaines top wine from one of the Loire’s most distinguished vineyards. Forty years-old vines, clay-limestone soils and a perfect southwest exposition give concentrated and ripe grapes that produce a rich and powerful wine. Light straw in the glass the intense nose reveals loads of white flowers, freshly cut grass, zesty lemon and a hint of ripe tropical fruit. The rather weighty palate clearly shows the juice has been aged on lees while fresh primary fruit, crisp minerality and pungent acid towards the finish retain the wines lively balance. This wine perfectly demonstrates how good and affordable Sauvignon Blanc from areas other than Sancerre can be. 91 points

Source: James Busby Fine Wines  Price: $35  Drink: Now-2010

Web: www.henry-pelle.com

Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 1999

March 12, 2008

img_4174.jpgOne of the spin-offs from great tastings is that I always long for more. So without the excuse of a special occasion I felt like drinking another great Barolo. This one is from the Monforte d’Alba based Aldo Conterno, a producer foremost famed for his Barolo Granbussia. Compared to this majestic wine the Barolo Bussia is a more ‘modest’ offering, although the quality-standard for this wine is equally high. Made from grapes grown in different parcels of Bussia Soprana it undergoes winemaking techniques that stand somewhere between modern and traditional with the use of temperature controlled roto-fermentation on one hand and the complete rejection of barriques at the other. Modern or traditional philosophies aside, this deep ruby coloured wine superbly expresses its terroir with a clean, attractive and open nose reflecting a complex amalgam of lovely red fruits, raspberries, plums, exotic spice, dried roses, liquorice and tar. On the equally stunning palate the seamingless merged tannins underline the fresh acidity that cuts through layers of fruit while tones of leather, liquorice and earth add background to this characterful and charming wine. In one word: brilliant. 95 points

Source: Negociants Australia  Price: $175  Drink: Now-2015+

Web: www.poderialdoconterno.com

Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole Part 2: The wines

March 10, 2008

img_4178.jpgFrom Arneis to peaches and back. That is the basic story about the 2006 Arneis Blangé. This grape can be so tricky that its name literally means ‘little devil’ in the local dialect. In its heartland Roero the variety was largely abandoned by growers who en masse planted more profitable peach trees on the fertile alluvial soils. Over the last 25 years the fortunes have reversed with plantings now exceeding 400 hectares in the DOC. However, for Ceretto this rascal has always been good, so good that it is the company’s bread and butter. Around 60 percent of the annual production consists of Blangé, as the wine is called in Ceretto’s dictionary. The appendix has in fact become so common in the region that it is widely used to coin dry white wine. Pale straw in colour it shows aromas of pear, citrus, herbs and flowers that all come back on the richly textured palate where a light fizz adds additional freshness and emphasizes the flavours. The striking packaging will impress at any table although for a crisp dry white it’s a costly affair. 87 points ($45)

img_4179.jpgThe second wine starts where this tasting is all about: Nebbiolo. When smelling and tasting the bright purple 2005 Nebbiolo d’Alba Bernardina there is no doubt about the variety at work. Little red fruits, violets, spice and a hint of earth give the wine a lovely fragrant nose while the acid on the palate presents itself straight-away, making the furry, mouthdrying and firm tannins in this medium-bodied wine even more noticable. Well balanced and approachable it’s the perfect introduction to this noble variety. 88 points ($50)

img_4183.jpgThe 2004 Barbaresco Asij is a wine which name confuses nearly everyone. The proprietary name ‘Asij’ is the dialect spelling of Asili, the famous vineyard that makes Ceretto’s top Barbaresco but also supplies grapes for this regional blend. The Barbaresco Asij always offers fantastic value and the ’04 proves to be no exception to this rule. Beautiful primary perfume reminiscent of plum, raspberry, rose and violet dominates the nose while the ageing of the wine in predominantly large oak casks for 24 months only gives a hint of spiciness. The front of the palate is dominated by rather sweet, concentrated and rich fruit with notes of cedar, leather and earth adding background and the tannins on the mid and the back of the palate seem less overt by the perfectly balanced acid. A lovely wine of classic structure that should drink well from 2010 to 2020+. 93 points ($80)

img_4185.jpgWhen Frederico Ceretto first tasted the 2003 Barolo Zonchera he was shocked. “I remember that despite its youthful age the wine was really evolved, all the primary aromas were allready gone, something you normally see when a wine is at least six to seven years old. But then I really started to see its generosity, something that made the ’03 a complete wine right from the start. You didn’t have to wait to get all these lovely secondary, even tertiary aromas and flavours, they were already there. That we didn’t have to worry became clear with all the positive reactions from customers who liked what they drank, this wine sold out faster than any previous vintages.” The purple-orange Barolo Zonchera is a very approachable wine indeed with loads of plums, prunes, raisins, liquorice, spice and coffee on a foreward, developed nose. The same themes are seen on a palate that is shaped by sweet and ripe fruit dominates with less overt acid and softer tannins. Expressing an abnormally hot vintage this wine is highly interesting although it’s not the kind of Barolo I admire so much. Drink this wine within 5 years from now while there’s still plenty of life left. 89 points ($90)

img_4186.jpgIn the second part of the tasting we leave the regional wines behind us to focus entirely on the contrasts between wines from different vintages, crus and even parcels within the same vineyard. A perfect illustration of the latter is the 2003 Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate, made from the best fruit that is always grown on the mid and upper parts of the vineyard. Its power, concentration and fragrance is many times bigger than in the 2003 Barolo Zonchera, predominantely made from grapes grown on the lower part of the same vineyard. The sheer quality of the fruit allows different winemaking techniques with longer macaration and ageing in small 300 litre barriques only. Purple with a brown-orange tinge it shows a fragrant and seductive bouquet of violet, rose, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, plum and exotic spices. The extremely balanced palate has all the intensity and richness to be expected from a cru, with Brunate’s fresh acidity adding swiftness to the still furry tannins. Despite a hint of prune and raisin shining through on the mid and back of the palate, an expression of the hot vintage conditions, the wine clearly shows a lot more can be expected over the next 15 to 20 years. 92 points ($160)  

img_4189.jpgHighly interesting is the comparison between the 2003 Barolo Bricco Rocche Brunate and the 2003 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapò. With vintage and winemaking exactly the same, terroir is allowed to express itself at its maximum. The relatively lightness and freshness typical for wines from the Barolo and La Morra subzones give way for the more seriously structured fruit from Serralanga d’Alba where clay subsoils produce fruit that reflect notes of tar, earth, balsamic, violets, little red fruits, undergrowth and spice. The sweet fruit, less overt acidity and smooth impression on the front of the palate gradually give way to rich and extracted flavours reminiscent of plum, prunes liquorice and a hint of raisins while mouthdrying tannins flex their muscles on the long and satisfying finish. Although the legacy of extreme vintage conditions is again clearly noticable, the sheer power of the fruit keeps balance, freshness and finesse. Although the wine seems accessible now it drinks best from 2010 to 2025+. 93 points ($160)

img_4191.jpgAccording to Frederico Ceretto Barolo’s from the Prapò vineyard are always progressive and full of surprises. “They go on themselves, you can’t really drink them young, they need a lot of time to show their real characters. If it was up to me I would release those wines only after 6 or 7 years, still full of attractive primary fruit but with evolved characters adding far more complexity and interest”. The 2000 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapò completely supports this statement. Purple with brown and orange shades in the glass it exudes a lovely combination of fragrant primary floral, cherry and berry fruit aromas with exotic spice, toffee, tar, cedar and liquorice adding dramatic depth to an intriguing bouquet. The same characters continue on the palate that shows a delicate balance between rich and powerful fruit, fresh acidity and firm yet integrated tannins. Despite all this I wouldn’t unleash this pup for another 3 to 4 years as it will futher improve for 15 years or more. 95 points ($160)

img_4193.jpgThat patience and an excellent vintage can result in something extraordinary is fully demonstrated in the 1998 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapò, a wine showing what great Barolo is all about. Don’t get tricked by the brown-purple colour of the wine as the combination of slow macaration and the low natural content of anthocyanins in Nebbiolo produces relatively light coloured wines at Ceretto. “The marketing department has repeatedly asked for darker, more intensely coloured wines as they are more popular on the modern markets, but with our winemaking philosophy it’s just not possible. At the end of the day they can all go asleep peacefully because there is no relation between the colour and the ageing potential of our wines, in fact it’s amazing how slowly the colour of the wines evolve over long periods of time, they just seem to stay like they are when young”. When tasting the wine this statement comes true with a near paradoxal difference between the mature colour and the aromas and flavours noticed. The nose is ethereal and complex with constantly changing notes of plums, tar, roses, liquorice, earth, spice and coffee while flavours of earth, tar, balsamic, truffles and loads of spices offer even more interest on an amazingly fresh and gracefully balanced palate. A long and hauntingly complex peacock finish show this is a wine of class, distinction and pedigree. Although it perfectly drinks now it is one of those collecters items that will go for another 20 years. 97 points ($245) 

Source: Enoteca Sileno/The Grocer

Web: www.ceretto.com