Category Archives: France/Italy

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.

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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.


Uncorked Brunello (and other stuff)

This time around, just right for the New Year’s Eve dinner, the 2000 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nouva was not corked. And what a wine!

Served together with file of ox, a dense red wine sauce, string beans and bacon, and puff pastry bundles filled with chevre, beet roots and rosemary, this was truly a smash hit. It comes on with a profile bordering on Bordelaise elegance. I do not consider myself an experienced Sangiovese drinker and to be honest, Sangiovese is Chianti to me, which is not the first wine I come to think of as “great”. But a Brunello di Montalcino should most likely not be compared to a Chianti at all, given that the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape is different from those used in Chianti (e.g. Prugnolo Gentile), in addition to obvious differences in terroir.

Completely integrated and silky tannins. Chocolate, tobacco and molten leaves. Very soft and long. It is so smooth. I didn’t think Sangiovese could take on this form. The ten-year cellaring has made miracles. An excellent wine. I wish I had more bottles. During VinItaly this year, I will certainly pay a visit to Enoteca della Valpolicella to see what they can do about it. 93p.

As a pre-dinner drink, we had a couple of bottles of N.V. Camille Savès Champagne Brut Grand Cru Rosé. A decent Champagne but nothing special. Rosé C is really not my thing. I prefer my Champ crisper and less fruit-driven. The blend is 60% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot noir and 12% Bouzy rouge. Maybe it’s that dreadful red wine they pour into it. Champagne is one of few wine-making districts in the world which allows pouring red wine into the white wine to produce a rosé. Typically, the so-called saigneé method is used, where clear juice of blue grapes is left to macerate on its skins until sufficient color has been extracted. Imagine the pitch of old-world wine producers bound to legislation advocating the saigneé method if the sloppy “blending-white-and-red-wine-to produce-pink”-procedure would have been allowed in the new world. Total mayhem. Nevertheless, the Camille Savès is quite alright and would probably do better with food, say a grilled tuna. 85p.

At midnight, we also had a 2004 Marguet Père et Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut. From Ambonnay. Very nice. Blends 70% Chardonnay with 30% Pinot noir. 88p.

As a first starter we had pilgrim scallop with a Chablis. As a second starter we had fois gras with Domaine des Bernardines’ 2009 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. An interesting sweet white wine at 15% ABV. Very floral and perfumed. Not completely dissimilar from some Gewürztraminers I’ve had, when it comes to the floral character. However, it is slightly too perfumed on the palate. Maybe this one would do better with some cellaring. Yet, it is not an unpleasant wine. 80p.

2007 Domaine Johann Michel Cornas was the second wine we had with the main. Very typical Northern Rhône style all-Syrah with white pepper, leather and cedar tree. I’ve written earlier that I’m not totally convinced with the haussed 2007 Southern Rhône vintage. However, the warm vintage reasonably should have been good for the grumpy and sometimes ungenerous cousins from the north. Still, this is a Cornas, so don’t expect a plump, generous and fruit-driven Aussie style Shiraz. 83p.

Happy New Year!


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.