Corked Brunello (and other stuff)

“Care for a glass of corked Brunello?”….the hell I do. Especially since I paid 400 SEK a bottle for it! When opening the bottle yesterday evening expectant for a glass of that heavenly all-Sangiovese-brew from Tuscany, an unmistakably funky and musty smell hit my nostrils. A cork-damaged 2000 Brunello di Montalcino from Casanova di Neri, a top wine from a top producer, rating 92p in Wine Spectator for this particular vintage. The 01 of the same wine was even rated Wine of the Year in Wine Spectator 2006.

I even had my wife double-check what I already knew, of course without first suggesting that the wine actually was corked. The first thing that crossed her lips was “Is it corked?” Without any hesitation. Yes dear. It is. She’s turning into a real connoisseur my beloved wife. Had another smell today. It’s still corked (of course). I won’t go away no matter how badly I want it to. And I cannot return it either. I bought two bottles at the Enoteca della Valpolicella when visiting Verona this year. Had it been the good old state monopoly, it wouldn’t have been a problem. They are generous in this matters. I don’t dare open the other one right now.

A corked wine is a wine that has been bottled with a cork that is contaminated with TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole). TCA contamination usually comes from corks but other factors such as storing, barreling and transportation can also be responsible. Allegedly around 5% of all wines are said to be corked. Could you imagine any other pre-packed grocery where every 20th product is spoiled, and people would still not heave off horse manure outside of the responsible store? Please give us screw caps now.

So what was I to do?! Have a glass of water accompany our filet of ox with a salad of honey melon, cucumber, feta cheese and garlic, and – of course – sauce Béarnaise? No, I just couldn’t do that to my dear wife. I just do not have that kind of sadistic disposition. So, I opened a bottle of 2007 Domaine les Pallières Terrasse du Diable instead. Nobody would be disappointed by this wine. A truly great wine from Gigondas, neighboring Châteauneuf du Pape. The Gigondas wines are typically dwarfed by the CndPs, but this stands up to most CndPs I’ve had.

I bought a case of this one and its sister wine “Les Racines” from My Man In Southern Rhone, Christer Ferm, for 215 SEK/bottle. I recommend you contact him at ferm@orange.fr. I don’t think that guy is primarily driven by profits, but by passion for wine. He has a great selection at very good prices. Highly recommended! Delivery to Stockholm is included in the price.

Terrasse du Diable has black cherries, licorice and meat/sausage on the nose. Long, round and mouth-filling. Large but balanced. Incredibly elegant. 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvédre and 5% Clairette from vines with an average age of 45 years. An amazing wine. Better than many CndPs. 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. I drank Les Racines a couple of months ago, and it is frankly an extraordinary wine. Cedar, white pepper and blackberries on the nose. The wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 7% Cinsaut and 5% Clairette. Syrah prominent though only 8%. The vines have an average age of 60 years.Very large yet still incredibly balanced and round. 92p. I aired it for two hours, and maybe that makes the small but still perceptible difference.

Finally, I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I’d prefer a Valpolicella Superiore before an Amarone. Well, here is one nice piece of VS! The 2007 Roccolo Grassi Valpolicella Superiore. I bought a case of this wine when visiting the producer during Vinitaly earlier this year.Though regulations state this should be barrel-aged for 12 months, winemaker Marco Sartori lets his VS rest on oak for 20 months before maturing the wine another 10 months in bottle. 60% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella och 5% Croatina. Cherries, tar and cacao. Powerful, long and round. Elegant. I’d hold this before the Villa Monteleone Amarone tested a couple of weeks, which is rather 88-89p than 90p as I thought earlier. But this one is 90p.


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