Archive for September 2008

Francois Crochet Sancerre 2007

September 24, 2008

To make Sancerre that measures with the best of the appellation, Francois Crochet pays a great deal of attention to the quality of the grapes. This young talented winemaker handpicks fruit and conducts rigorous triage, resulting in expressive wines with the distinctively pungent, flinty characters that the terroir delivers. Pale straw in colour it offers piercing aromas of grapefruit, fresh cut grass, white flowers, gooseberry and minerals with notes reminiscent of the local Crotin de Chavignol in the background. Time on lees gives the wine a lovely textural mouthfeel while a straight line of crunchy acid gives structure and focus. This is what textbook Sauvignon Blanc is all about. 90 points

Source: Swanbourne Cellars/Must Winebar  Price: $50  Drink: Now-2009


Produttori del Barbaresco Asili 1999

September 19, 2008

img_5120When the wines from Barbaresco are discussed a lot of generalisations tend to be made: the grapes ripen earlier than in Barolo and the biggest part of the DOCG’s soil consists of the same calcareous marl that is found around the comunes of Barolo and La Morra, all resulting in lighter structured Nebbiolo performing as humble understudy for the more famous and ageworthy examples from Barolo. How inaccurate such generalisations can be is beautifully described in Edward Steinberg’s ‘The vines of San Lorenzo’, an in depth exploration on the superstar of Nebbiolo Angelo Gaja and the making of his famous cru Sorì San Lorenzo. Through conversations with viticulturist Frederico Curtaz aspects as for example exposition, the position of the vines on the slope and methods of planting are lined up in order to unravel the mysteries of terroir, a concept that stresses the uniqueness of a specific site opposed to common characters of a whole region.

When the qualities of certain vineyards in Barbaresco are considered it’s not surprising their wines are more baroleggiano than one might suspect. Montefico, Rabajà, Montestefano and Asili are notable examples, the latter known for its subtle wines, ultimately shown in the 1999 Produttori del Barbaresco. Deep ruby red in the glass, intense, highly aromatic aromas of cherries, red berries, violets, roses, exotic spices and a hint of tar are the prelude to a full-bodied palate where sheer power and great finesse are marvelously balanced with smooth tannins, ample acidity and a long, persistent finish. This is benchmark Barbaresco that rightly deserves a place in any serious cellar.

Source: Enoteca Sileno/The Grocer  Price: $145  Drink: Now-2020+

Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo 2001

September 16, 2008

The Produttori del Barbaresco is a phenomenon. The fact that it is a cooperation is nothing special, there are quite a few on the peninsula, what makes The Produttori really stand out is the consistently high quality of all its wines. When you add to this the fact that it crafts wines from no less than nine different crus, it is not hard to realize The Produttori is something truly unique, an excellent producer to be considered amongst the best of the Barbaresco DOCG.

The Produttori’s flagship wines are all released as Riserva, having spend 36 months in large Slavonian botti and an additional 18 months in the bottle. But before that, the grapes from the 4.6 hectares of Rio Sordo are slowly fermented on the skins for about 21 days at no less than 30°C in order to leach out plenty of colour and tannins. Despite the softening of the latter due to the mandatory ageing before release, the structure of the wine is of such a high standard that even at 7 years of age its life has just begun. Purple red with orange reflections the nose suggests a more developed complexity straight away with cherries, red berries, dried rose, leather, earth, mocha and spices following through to a rather austere palate with a tightly knit tannic structure, ample acidity and a long, elegant finish. This is absolute class that will last for at least another 15 years.

Source: Enoteca Sileno/ The Grocer  Price: $140  Drink: 2010-2020+


Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2004

September 4, 2008

This is Luca Currado’s and Mario Cordero’s entry-level Barolo, a wine mainly made from grapes from Bricco Fiasco vineyard in Castiglione Falletto, Bussia and La Coste in Monforte d’Alba, Fossati in Barolo and Ravera in Novello. Average yields are around 40 hl/ha – yields for the crus are typically 30 hl/ha – so the quality of the fruit is of what can be expected of Vietti. However, with growing conditions as exceptional as in 2004 the fruit has gained a concentration and richness not often seen at this level. Deep red in colour its nose reveals plums, blackberries, cherries, violets and exotic spices following through to a masculine and tightly knit palate where complexity is locked in sturdy fruit, fine yet powerful tannins and fresh acidity. It’s big, macho, shows class and should be left alone for at least 2-3 years before its more delicate and emotional side will be shown. 92 points  

Source: Red + White  Price: $125  Drink: 2010-2020


Cullen “Kevin John” Chardonnay 2006

September 3, 2008

Spring is in the air and clear blue skies quickly make me forget about winter. Although, somehow I had to think about the summer of 2005-2006 with its extremely cool temperatures. I’ll never forget the drizzle at Fernhook Falls on New Years Eve. Later in 2006 it turned out the weather had been so cool that Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grown in the most southern parts of WA had failed to ripen fully. But a difficult vintage for red wines turned out to be a great one for whites. Especially the Chardonnays show magnificent concentration of flavours and high natural acidity across the board, with the better ones from Margaret River being truly outstanding. Whether its the bio-dynamic approach, the pedigree of the fruit, restrained wine making or a combination of this all, the Chardonnays from Cullen always possess a certain naturalness making it one of the regions best. Light yellow in colour, intense aromas of citrusfruit and melon are underpinned by subtle oak and barrel derived characters. This is all repeated on a palate that is tight, elegant, focused and pure with ample acid and a superb creamy mouthfeel. Although I prefer to drink Chardonnays relatively young, I would cellar this wine for another year before looking at it again. 93 points.

Source: Red + White  Price: $79.99  Drink: Now-2011+


Bodegas Tabula “Damana” 2004

September 1, 2008

Nothing is better than a good independent liquor store but my local Vintage Cellars comes in admittedly handy for last minute purchases. Even more so now the range of imported wines has grown significantly over the last couple of months. For some good everyday drinking wines it’s alright to stay around the $20, for the real interesting stuff you’ve got to be prepared to spend at least $10 more. Most of the time, as you may expect at this price, the leap in quality is worth the money as demonstrated by this smart Crianza from the most western part of Ribera del Duero. Deep purple in the glass this wine offers a mix of cherries, little berry fruit, dried herbs, violets, vanilla and moccha on the nose following through to a tightly knit palate where fresh acidity and compact, grainy tannins lead to a very well balanced finish. This is seriously good, solid and modern style Tempranillo at an attractive price. 89 points

Source: Vintage Cellars  Price: $35  Drink: now-2015