1998 Les Cailloux CNdP

Stored Cailloux? That one works as well.

Les Cailloux remains one of my favorite wines; gentle, elegant and smooth. I have reviewed it several times on this blog. So you could imagine that I was happy when I managed to get my hands on some mature bottles. The year is 1998, which in the Wine Spectator scores a blazing 97 points, and according to the Mighty R. Parker gets 98 points with the passus that the vintage is an early drinker. So, dear readers, if the 1998 Les Cailloux is a fuck-up, it appears at least as if they had destiny in their own hands.

I aired it for about an hour, thinking that a relatively gentle wine as Cailloux ought to be a fragile genie that should not be exposed to anImage excessive amount of air after so many years in a bottle, but it was initially – surprisingly – in fact quite tight and closed on the nose. The first thing that strikes you is the scent of raspberries. This is followed by rose hip and minerals. Being Friday night, the staple goods at Casa Nordin is always filé of ox, bearnaise sauce and sallad from cantaloupe, cucumber and feta cheese (strongly recommended!). I am likely to eat just that until the day I die. So: the wine gets another half an hour in the glass from my first sip after decanting until the food is prepared and on the table.

And I really have to say that it improves. Being such an elegant wine from the get-go, I was not expecting it to show something special after the hour of airing (since it seemed slightly dull) and just figured that it had passed it peak. After all, this is not a tannic monster demanding hours of oxygen, not even in its youth.

To my surprise, it came out as a Pinot Noir, with a lovely nose of raspberries, strawberries and ginger. Really soft tannins- but not lacking structure. If it had been a blind tasting, I would have guessed it was a Pinot. The color would suggest the same with an orangey brim. However, possibly because I know this is a CNdP, I also spot a spicy sensation suggesting rosemary and pepper. This is nice, even though I would not wait for another bunch of years before consuming it. I still think Les Cailloux is best drunk young, or at least semi-young. As mentioned earlier, the 2007 is currently perfect, even though I will save a couple of bottles for another five years. Just for scientific purposes. 90p.

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2006 Les Cailloux CNdP

This remains one of my favorite domains. Les Cailloux always delivers the goods.

The 2006 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf-du-Pape is no exception to the rule. Soft, velvety, nicely balanced. DSC_0351Les Cailloux is smooth even as very young, but this is surely perfectly rounded off. It has none of the boisterous notes that oftentimes are found in infant CNdPs. I gave it an hour of aeration, which is recommended. Garrigue, blueberries, slightly peppery with a mineral sensation and a long finish. Again a great effort. It is hard to find a better wine at 300 SEK. Can be found at Franska Vinkompaniet92p.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the prestige cuvée of Les Cailloux – the Centenaire – which is only produced in exceptional vintages. The vines are about 100 years old. Being a 2010, it was still young, but already approachable. It is most certainly one of the best wines I have ever had, and I would rate it somewhere in the range of 96-98p. It does not come for free, but at 900 SEK is still good value as compared to equally rated wines from e.g. Bordeaux or Burgundy.


2011 Domaine Pégaü

Longtime favourite Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer Pégaü excels even in a lesser vintage.

The cool summer in Southern Rhône 2011 calls for a gentler vintage as compared to the previous, immediately preceding DSC_0287ones which have produced top-scoring and powerful CNdPs. To me, that is not a problem since the last years have seen CNdPs approaching 16 % ABV, which in my opinion is an unwelcome trend. The 2011 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée has an amazing nose of licorice, dark berries, bay leaves, cured meat and black tea. It was aired for a couple of hours, and its scent is so sophisticated and on pitch. Medium-to-full bodied with a velvety mouth feeling. It displays the toned-down intensity of a wine in great balance where the tannins are in perfect harmony. Every bit as good as 2010, 2009 and 2007. Cellar these three vintages and drink 2011 over the next coming years. Can temporarily be found at Franska Vinlistan at a very decent price of 359 SEK. 93p.

DSC_02902009 Château Faugères was tasted in a previous post. A couple of weeks ago, I drank it again, and it is starting to come together. This is an unusually powerful St. Emilion. A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense and chewy, where the tannins are starting to integrate, but need some more time to fully integrate. Dark cherries, chocolate, vanilla and mint. Full-bodied. Already accessible but could use another couple of years of calming down. Just a few bottles left at Systembolaget. 92p.

2010 Azienda Agricola Morella Primitivo Mezzanotte is a pleasant experience. I DSC_0292have had my fair share of lousy Primitivos, in particular at the start of my career is a wine geek. This is, however, from a producer of top-notch Primitivo reviewed in a previous post, and a completely different animal from your ordinary sunburnt Puglian Primitivos. Licorice, dark cherries and spices. Nicely balanced and shows no top-heaviness despite its 15% ABV. Medium-bodied. 75% Primitivo and 25% Negroamaro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, I bought it a carlomerolli.dk for 108 SEK, but it now seems to be out of stock. Nice Sunday wine to accompany a pizza. 85p.


2010 Tardieu-Laurent CNdP Vielles Vignes

Maison Tardieu-Laurent, located in Lourmarin an hour Southwest of Avignon, is a négociant working with 60 to 70 growers throughout the Rhône valley.

DSC_02652010 Tardieu-Laurent Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vielles Vignes is made from 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah, where the grapes are culled from vines having an age of 80, 50 and 30 years, respectively. This is really a knock-out. A very dense and powerful wine, yet in great balance. I had this to barbecued rib-eye and asparagus this Saturday. Great combo. The smell is beautiful: blackberries, plum, garrigue, warm stones. No fining or filtration of the wine is performed. Intense, full-bodied and yet elegant. Loooongg finish. Just the right bitter twist brought on by Grenache in the finish to keep it on the ground. This should age well. But what the hell, with three hours of airing, it is instantly accessible. 93p.

A couple of weeks ago, I also had the sister wine 2009 Tardieu-Laurent Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale. 100% Grenache from vines being 80-100 years old! Unfortunately, I do not have any tasting notes, but I can reminisce a sensation of blueberry muffin; very fruit (or berry) driven. An extraordinary wine. Extremely soft and velvety. More elegant than the Vielles Vignes and even scoring higher. 94p.


2010 Ch Phélan Ségur

St.-Estèphe excels again – in flintstone masonry.

Saint-Estèphe, the northernmost of the classic Médoc appellations, is known for producing harsh and tough wines requiring years of cellar maturing.

2010 Château Phélan Ségur is no exception to the rule. Being rated as one out of nine Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels in the 2003 classification, it DSC_0264is regarded as one of the finest Châteaus outside of the original 1855 Médoc classification. At 424 SEK, it does not come cheap, and in my opinion, this wine is not worth that kind of money. On the nose, it is terrific: black currant confiture, cedar tree, peppermint, minerals. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. On the palate, however, it is rather harsh and has a metallic and acrid, grapefrutish feel, even after hours of airing. It gets slightly better, but the acrid sensation never really diminishes. Nice length and body, though. Certainly, it is not bad, and would be ok for a wine costing half as much. However, the acridity would still be an issue. 2010 should be a forgiving vintage (this one clocks in at 14 % ABV), and maybe it is just still very young, but I would still put my money elsewhere. 88p.

la turFortunately, my Swiss colleague Christian was nice enough to give me a cheese a couple of weeks ago called La Tur, completely unknown to me. It is a blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk from Piemonte. Friday two weeks ago it was still holding together, the week after it was getting sooooft and smeeelly. My wife is not overly happy with it. Today, it was not a cheese anymore but a living animal (albeit smelling like a dead one). Truly coming apart at the seems. Magnificent! Come home from work next Friday and it will have walked away with the refrigerator. Swiss people sure knows their way around cheese, even Italian ones.


2010 Ch du Tertre

Château du Tertre excels again- a lightweight champion.

Like most Bordeaux 2010s, du Tertre is a relatively sun-kissed wine with Bordelais standards. However, the du Tertre is a lightweight MargauxDSC_0250 in all vintages, so the preamble in the above is fortunately true even for the “warm” vintage of 2010. I am really fond of this wine, and apparently, it never compromises with its elegant characteristic. not even in a relatively plump vintage. The 2008 was rated in a previous post.

I recently attended a 2012 Bordeaux barrel tasting with 30-40 different producers, and from a general point of view, the barrel samples of 2012 are far from complete (indeed, they have another year of barrel maturing before being bottled), and frankly come across as ungenerous and slightly grumpy. Not many of them struck a chord in me. However, the Chateau du Tertre came out nice, even in a lesser vintage like 2012. It remains to be seen whether the end result still is good about a year from now.

The nose in the 2010 du Tertre is fantastically herbaceous: cedar tree, black currants, chocolate, spices and underbrush. This is the vegetal kind I really appreciate with Bordeaux. Even though e.g, Tuscany makes fantastic Bordeaux blends, they often lack the grassy and vegetal feel of the origin. Soft, elegant and medium-bodied, still with terrific structure. Gentle but still noticable tannins. 92p.


Bord….olo!

Champagne as aperitif (albeit a simple one), soup of potato and parsnip with a semi-dry Riesling from Austrian Rainer Wess which turned out to be a perfect match to the slightly sweet soup. Thereafter, teeth  were sunk into a double marinated filé of beef with a Barolo as well as a Bordeaux to accompany. Finally, we had Gruyere, Parmigiano, Itchiban and an Amarone uniquely matured on Swedish oak (!). Ain’t life grand sometimes.

2010 Château Lalande-Borie was aired for three hours and (of course) turned out to be best of friends with the double-marinated beef.Lalande-Borie This was quite expected as Bordeaux always stands up nicely against mooing creatures. This one has all the attributes of a fab Bordeaux on the nose: fresh herbs, chocolate and that nice grassy sensation that always is present in a nice Bordeaux. It tastes sweet of black currants and is medium-bodied and well-structured with a nice grip and integrated tannins even though it still has a certain austerity to it. This should fare well from a couple of years (or more) in the cellar in which case it probably will earn another one or two points. You don’t get more bang for your bucks than this in Bordeaux; it is merely 238 SEK at Systembolaget. Highly recommended. 90p.

FaugèresIn this context, I should also mention a Bordeaux which puts the Lalande-Borie in the shade. Yesterday evening, after having picked up no less than 30 pre-ordered bottles of Bordeaux at the local SB, me and my wife had the Swedish seventies classic minute steak, fried onion, Béarnaise and French fries (how lovely it is). To accompany this fantastic and unsophisticated dish, I opened a bottle of 2009 Château Faugères, which is left bank St. Emilion and very different from the above mentioned St. Julien juice. Dense, powerful, silky and velvety; this is a power house which carries its ABV with grandeur. Dark cherries, vanilla and a slight tone of mint. The great share of Merlot is evident. This one is big, bold and full-bodied. 14.5 % ABV, but you really can’t tell. Smooth, elegant and with a long finish. Unfortunately, I only got to air it for an hour. Next time, I will go for three hours, but this is already highly accessible. The Lalande-Borie comes on as slightly thin in comparison. But as I said, this is generally a powerful vintage, and the minor downside to the Faugères is that it lacks the grassy Bordeaux feeling that I am so fond of and which is so present in the Lalande-Borie. But this is a more exquisite wine. 93p.

Schiavenza BroglioAs I previously mentioned, as a side-kick to the Lalande-Borie, we had a Barolo, namely 2005 Schiavenza Barolo Broglio. This can be bought from  Danish-Italian distributor Carlo Merolli, whom unfortunately no longer ships his wines to Sweden. The 2005 Broglio earned Tre Bicchieri in Vini d’Italia in 2010. It is a nice wine with typical Nebbiolo notes like tar, roses and minerals. Soft and round in the mouth, floral with a nice tannic structure. It is, however, slightly thin, which may be a general view on this particular vintage. I have previously aired this one, but it does not really benefit from extensive air contact. Nevertheless, it is a nice Barolo; sophisticated, elegant and by no means over the top (as may be the case with some of the 2007s). Drink now or over the next couple of years. 89p.

I should also mention another couple of Barolos which are sold by Carlo and which Cascina Cuccoare downright bargains: it doesn’t get cheaper than this. They however appear to be sold out at his web shop. First up is the generic Serralunga d’Alba Barolo 2007 Cascina Cucco Barolo di Serralunga, which set me back for 154 SEK (!). This made the finals in last year’s Vini d’Italia and could just as well have earned a Tre Bicchieri award as far as I’m concerned. This is a terrific wine with notes of tar, licorice, roses and minerals. Already perfectly approachable, even without airing. It has a nice grip and completely integrated tannins. The only thing negative that can be said is that, for being a Barolo – and this is really true for most Barolos of this vintage – it is unusually fruit-driven at the expensive of the more subtile Nebbiolo aromas. But this is a marginal note. This would still be worth its price even if you doubled it. Drink the 2007s while the 2004s and 2006s are maturing. It took me no time at all to drink the six bottles I bought a couple of months ago. Dammit! 90p.

The single-vineyard 2007 Cascina Cucco Cerrati Vigna Cucco has everything that the generic Serralunga Barolo has but in a higher concentration and with a more elegant mineral feeling. 91p.

Finally this evening we had two types of Gruyere: a riserva and a “cave-matured” (!), a Parmigiano and an Itchiban along with aRaimondi completely unique wine: an Amarone stored on Swedish oak. This is an initiative of two friends of mine who run the Club Amarone. The 2008 Amarone Raimondi is really a Villa Monteleone Amarone matured on Swedish oak. That should be a one-of-a-kind-setup. I have myself had the  fortune of labeling the bottles during Vinitaly last year. I will refrain from grading this Amarone, since I’m really an amateur at this particular type of wine. However, needless to say, it was a nice match to the cheeses. It is an Amarone which is light in style at 15 % ABV, so it should go well with for example game or other meats that are rich in flavour.


1996 Leclerc-Briant Cuvée Divine

Champagne and Bruschetta…what a lovely combination! The contrast between French luxury and Italian simplicity is striking, but it sure turns out to be a nice match.

Leclerc-Briant from Epernay, the “capitol” of Champagne, has vineyards in no less than six villages. The 1996 Leclerc-Briant Divine is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

A big body Champagne which in my opinion – in spite of its age – probably would last for another five years. The Cellartracker community recommends it is drunk this year at the latest, but if you sit on a couple of these bottles, you have no reason to worry; it will live to see its twentieth year!

Pleasant and expressive nose of green apples, minerals, brioche and almonds. Good acidity, nutty, round and powerful with a lovely taste of apples. Still fresh. Again, a 1996 Champagne displays all the alleged qualities of the vintage. 91p.

I also – again – have to give my thumbs-up to the arguably best Merlot I’ve had: the 2005 Mas Comtal Petrea from Penedés in Spain, not far from Barcelona.

I’ve written about the Petrea in a previous post, and this really is an extraordinary wine. Oddly enough, the price has been lowered from 297 down to 239 SEK at Systembolaget. And this already was great value at the old, higher price! You’ll certainly have to exert yourselves to find a wine at this quality for this kind of money.

Subtle and elegant; dark cherries, spices, licorice and chocolate. If I didn’t know it was a Spanish wine, I’d probably guess it was Italian. Powerful yet silky. Complex and intense with a bigger body than I remember from the last tasting. However, at 13.5% ABV, it is still well-balanced. Brilliant. Lucky me nobody is buying it. 92p.


2005 Mamete Prevostini Sforzato di Valtellina Albareda

I was very excited about trying out a Mamete Prevostini wine with a handful of years of bottle maturation under its belt. This evening with my wife and a couple of friends, fillet of pork, risotto, a red wine sauce (using Montiano from Falesco as a base…viva Italia) and a salad of leaf spinach and tomato turned out to be a great combo with the wine. And as regards the wine itself? Of course I was not disappointed!

After all, Mr. Prevostini is a top-notch producer who is still to fail my expectations. The winery is located in the valley of Valtellina not far from Lago di Como in Lombardy bordering on Switzerland. Most of Prevostini’s wines are tasted in a previous post on this blog. I have had the opportunity to try out the wines the last couple of years at the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona held annually in March/April. Apart from the 2005 Albareda, I will touch upon another couple of their wines who really impressed me this year at Vinitaly, both of which in my opinion are better than the Albareda. Nevertheless, the Albareda is without any doubt the producer’s most famous and respected wine. It practically subscribes to Tre Bicchieri in the Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia guide.

Doubtlessly, it is a unique wine. As described in the previous blog post, the red wines are exclusively made from Nebbiolo, which inevitably will result in comparisons with Barolo and Barbaresco. Further, Sforzato is a wine made with the appassimento technique; the grapes have been picked and put in small wooden boxes for drying, until the end of January in the case of the Albareda. It is subsequently macerated for 20 days before being put on oak maturation for 18 months and in bottle for another 10 months. Needless to say, a comparison with Amarone della Valpolicella is unavoidable. In my opinion, the Sforzato comes out at the end of the tunnel as the winner. Even more so in the case of the 2005. The 2005 Sforzato di Valtellina Albareda is certainly superior to the 2009 I had this spring. The 2009 had typical Amarone notes of dried fruit, raisins and chocolate, whereas in the case of the 2005, these notes have faded. Now, its shows spices such as pomerans and orange. It smells of cranberry, roses and almond with a very pleasant tone of cream toffee. The wines is coherent, round and full-bodied without being over the top. 15 % ABV. It reeks of red berries and has pleasantly integrated oak. 91p.

I opened the bottle and waited two hours before pouring it. It did not dare air it in a decanter because – given the lack of tasting notes and statistics published for this wine – I was not  sure about its longevity and did not want to stress the wine. However, this could most likely endure another 10 years of bottle maturation. I am not sure whether they have older vintages that actually can be tasted, but I will certainly ask Federico Scaramellini, who moderates the Mamete Prevostini tastings at Vinitaly, whether he has the possibility to pour some mature wines in 2013. Let’s hope for the best. I’d be very excited to see what their wines are like with some bottle maturation.

At Vinitaly 2012, one of the two Mamete Prevostini wines that impressed me the most was the 2009 Sommarovina Valtellina Superiore, which was beautiful; raspberries, tobacco, minerals, fresh herbs and asphalt/tar. Round, balanced and with already well-integrated tannins. In my Mamete Prevostini tasting of 2011, this was my favorite wine. 91p.

And it still would have been in 2012 if it wasn’t for the majestic 2009 San Lorenzo Valtellina Superiore. Going through my personal tasting notes, I don’t think they have ever been close to producing a wine like this (of the wines I have tasted). This is a wine of Burgundian magnitude, and in a blind tasting, I would certainly have guessed this was a Pinot Noir…so fragile, so elegant, so sophisticated, yet with such a grip, structure and stature. It just comes to show how similar Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir are in many senses, these two notoriously difficult-to-cultivate grapes. This smells of cured meat, with gamey and earthy notes…very Pinot-like. However, this is balanced by a very fresh tone of strawberry. Incredible nose. On the palate, it shows tobacco and red berries. Medium-bodied, complex and intense. Well-balanced with perfectly mature and integrated tannins. I wonder what this will be like in, say, five years. I sure look forward to tasting this again. 94p.


A Whole Lotta Wines Revisited

This post revisits five old acquaintances, all of them extremely good wines. Tasting just as good as the last time they were poured.

Last summer, I visited Philippe Chavy in Puligny-Montrachet. All of his wines have been tasted in a previous post. In that particular tasting, the 2004 Meursault-Blagny 1er Cru Sous le Dos d’Âne, originating from a vineyard located in the village of Blagny, came out best. There is no reason to reappraise that judgment. Golden yellow from years of bottle maturation. Beautiful nose; butter, almonds, fresh herbs, red apples, honey and loads of minerals. Almost like newly-mown hay. Mouth-filling, round and fat…this is a powerful wine. Just enough oak used. Philippe uses about 30 percent new oak. Toast, tropical fruit, nuts and minerals on the palette. Balanced, complex and long. Magnificent. 93p. 

Sign up for Christer Ferm’s wine letter at ferm@orange.fr. He also distributes the next one.

Which is 2007 Domaine les Pallières Terrasse du Diable from Gigondas, neighboring Châteauneuf du Pape. The Gigondas wines are typically dwarfed by the CndPs, but this beats most CNdPs. Licorice, blackberries, white pepper, cured meat, tobacco and black tea on the nose. Big but balanced and very elegant. Similar in style to Domaine de la Janasse. 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvédre and 5% Clairette from vines with an average age of 45 years. Highly recommended. The 2010 is only 216 SEK from Christer Ferm. Extremely good value. Like finding a good CNdP for the same money. 91p.

It would have been the best Gigondas I’ve ever had if it had not been for its sister wine 2007 Domaine les Pallières Les Racines. Black cherries, cedar and white pepper on the nose. The wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 7% Cinsault and 5% Clairette. The vines have an average age of 60 years. Slightly more fruit-driven than the Terrasse du Diable, which is clearly spicier. It is really a matter of taste which one you prefer. 92p.

The 1996 Mailly Grand Cru Champagne La Terre is in good form. From the cooperative located in the village with the same name. The village is grand cru for Pinot Noir. I had this to foie gras and it was nice. The wine smells of apples, minerals, citrus and bread. Not really as good as 1,5 years ago. Nice acidity in spite of its age. 90p.

Finally, we have the mighty 1998 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso, which is a monster of a wine. A blend of 85% Cabernet sauvignon, 10% Cabernet franc and 5% Sangiovese (back then, now it is 100% Cabernet franc!). Black currant, grass, tobacco, leather. Very herbaceous and elegant at 13% ABV. Perfectly balanced and showing enormous complexity. 95p.