A selection of February launches at Systembolaget

Tuesday 1 February is launch day at Systembolaget, and it really is a good bunch of new bottles! I attended a tasting Tuesday evening where 12 wines were offered.

First up were two white wines. 2009 Quinta do Ameal smells of pears and apples. Good acidity but a bit thin. Dry wines at 11% ABV is not that common, and my regards to the wine maker for keeping the levels down. However, I don’t think this is a particularly good wine.

1989 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese from the Rheingau reeks of petrol, peaches and mineral. It’s like sticking your nose into a rubber boot. Semi-dry but after 21 years in the cellar almost bordering on dry. Comes across as small sensation. And then I haven’t even told you about the price. 139 SEK. Yes, 139 SEK. Somebody puts an already high-quality wine in the cellar for us and stores it for 21 years. And then sells it for AHUNDREDANDTHIRTNINE CROWNS. Do yourself a favor and go rob the SB on this one. It sold out quick but I notice that Passagen has made a top-up. 125 bottles in store as we speak.

Second round is two Spanish wines starting with 2008 Petalos from Descendientes de J Palacios. Very herbaceous with blackberries and licorice. Way to bitter for me. You really have to enjoy a chunk of grape fruit to appreciate this. Barely ok. Number two were 2008 Triton. 100% Tempranillo and this comes on as a good old Rioja in style, but it is actually from Castilla y León. Very fruity; strawberries and plum. Lacks in tannins. To jammy for me, and they certainly have made an all-in move on the oak. I imagine it is a pleasant wine to get drunk on. Have a cheeseburger while you’re at it.

Then came two South African wines, both Bordeaux blends. First off we have 2006 Max which blends 54% Cabernet sauvignon with equal parts (23%) Merlot and Petit verdot. Smoke, black currants, chocolate, grass.  Balanced with good length and nice tannins. A very good wine. The next one was a killer: 2007 Kanonkop Paul Sauer. 68% Cabernet sauvignon, 17% Cabernet franc and 15% Merlot. You’d have to go through all kinds of hardships to find a Bordeaux like this in Bordeaux for the same price. Black currants, cedar, coffee, slightly smoky (after all it’s from SA). Good fruit, well-integrated tannins, nice length. Incredibly balanced. I strongly recommend this wine.

The fourth flight contained two wines from the south of France, one Coteaux du Languedoc and one Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 2008 Château de la Negly La Falaise is nice. Fruity notes showing plum and cherries. Good wine. Like a less expensive CNdP. However, the 2008 Domaine de la Janasse is incredibly good. Blackberries, spices, meat, pepper. Way more complex than the CdL. Janasse did not bottle their prestige cuvée Chaupin this year so all the grapes from that vineyard went into the standard CNdP. Nice body, texture and length. Still quite young. I’d guess you have to air this one for a couple of hours unless you put it in the cellar for a couple of years. 319 SEK at SB, but I have bought it from Franskabolaget SARL for 276 SEK. Sign up for their news letter. They have really nice wines at good prices. They also arrange regular tastings at cost price. Prices include delivery to anyone out of a number of places in Stockholm City.

Fifth pair out is Italian: 2001 Bricco Manzoni Langhe and 2007 Asinone from Poliziano. The Piedmontese shows sloe, tar, roses, chocolate. Very good Nebbiolo character. Allegedly, it is a Nebbiolo/Barbera blend, but I can’t tell. It’s quite rare that you get your hands on a Nebbiolo which is ten years old for this kind of money. Unfortunately, the SB is almost out of it. I don’t know whether they will get a refill or not.Very nice and smooth tannins, great length, medium body. Strongly recommended. I won’t even refer to it as a Barolo Light. It’s that good.

Poliziano is one of the finest producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the Asinone is a landmark wine. It literally subscribes to the Three Glass-award in Vini d´Italia. I’d told you that I more often than not have problems with Chianti. But this is a different animal albeit comprising 100% Sangiovese. Cherries, chocolate, herbs. Pure and beautiful. Recommended.

Finally, we have two more Italian wines, one of them being one of the finest wines Italy has to offer; the first Super Tuscan to have its own DOC…2007 Sassicaia. In fact, Sassicaia is the only wine from a single estate in Italy to enjoy this privilege. Bordeaux blend with 85% Cabernet sauvignon and 15% Cabernet franc. Needless to say, this is good. Black currants, leather, herbs. Medium bodied, austere, pure. Still a baby.

I actually prefer 2005 Dagromis Barolo from Gaja. This shows the best of Piemonte in my opinion. As in the simpler Langhe, there are notes of sloe, tar, roses, chocolate, cherries, but much more intense. Complex, concentrated, balanced with still not fully integrated tannins (of course). If Sassicaia is a baby, this is still in its embryonic stage. So good. The SB has filled their shelves this evening with 120 fresh botellas. I’d rather buy two of this than one Sassicaia. But I guess it’s a matter of taste.

So go get your bottles now.

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