Les Tastevins du Lac is dedicated to camaraderie in pursuit of joie de vino! This blog serves as an informal forum on wine, food and travel.... Cheers! Steve Adams


Sunday, July 26, 2015

'98 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Fiore and '08 Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino

At an impromptu gathering of friends headed to Italy soon, these two Brunello's from modest vintages showed very well. 

The '98 Vigna del Fiore is a single vineyard Brunello that clocks in at a glorious 13% abv. A big wine that belies the modest abv, it has matured perfectly with incredible savory character complementing the delicious fruit. Hints of sous bois on the palate and an earthy floral nose complete the picture. Threw off a lot of very fine grained sediment indicating no filtering... all the good stuff was left intact.  This was a pop and pour. Opened up beautifully over the course of several hours after decanting.  In fact, this is one of the more satisfyingly classic Brunello's I've had in a while. Who needs over-ripe high octane wines?  This is a beautifully balanced Sangiovese  :) 

The '08 Col d'Orcia was very good and actually quite a bit lighter in body than the '98 Vigna del Fiore. (Definitely passed the Soldera test). Slow-o'd for 4 hours.  Attractive cherry fruit with anise and hint of mint. Some preferred the lighter character of the Col d'Orcia, but I couldn't resist the mature allure of the '98 Vigna del Fiore.

Can't wait to get to Tuscany. ...

2007 Chateau de St. Cosme Gigondas Valbelle

At St. Cosme, Louis Barruol makes some of the best (and affordable) wines from both southern and northern Rhone. 

 I am particularly fond of his Cote-Rotie

With the recent debate on the 2007 vintage in southern Rhone, I wanted to revisit the '07 Valbelle.  This tasting echoed my experience last year with the wine. It is a fine wine, yet seems a bit ponderous. Mostly Grenache (80 year old vines) with a dollop of Syrah, but the weight of the wine on the palate indicates a higher percentage of Syrah (or is it just an overripe style with the Grenache...?).  14.5% abv for '07 Valbelle.  Note that the '03 Cote-Rotie is a well-balanced 13.5% abv.  Evidence of a trend towards riper harvests in general in the Rhone? - or - just the warmth of the '07 vintage? 

Dark raspberry with attractive accents of lilac on the nose.  Hints of creosote and olive on the palate. Notes from the St. Cosme website indicate whole cluster was used in later vintages.  Notes for the '07 Valbelle do not specifically state that whole clusters were used, but there is a spicy character to the palate that may suggest some percentage of whole cluster was used. St. Cosme website notes a high percentage of limestone terroir for vineyards that comprise the Valbelle cuvee.

I suppose the question is, with more time in the cellar, will this evolve into the lithe, delightful Gigondas of old?  I think not. 

Perhaps closer in style to the Saxum wine we had last week. Certainly a good thing if that is what you are looking for, however perhaps not what one seeks in more traditional southern Rhones. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

'01 Guigal Hermitage, '03 Standish, '05 Saxum Bone Rock

Interesting comparison of Syrah based wines from Rhone, Paso Robles and Barossa Valley.

First Flight:
2012 Robert - Denogent Pouilly Fuisse Les Carrons 
2006 Brewer - Clifton Chardonnay Sea Smoke Vineyard

The R-D Les Carrons is an amazing wine. Highly recommended.  Gorgeous floral nose explodes from the glass. Crisp, clean fruit accented by superb minerality. Almost Loire-ish in nature. 
B-C Sea Smoke is on the far side of its drinking window. I've lost my taste for these chardonnays.  High octane and oaky.

Second Flight:
2001 Guigal Hermitage 
2003 The Standish 
2005 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Bone Rock

Guigal was the lightest of the flight. Lovely 13% abv. Almost pinot noir-ish in color. Very deftly executed and food friendly. Tasty olive tapenade and sous bois accents. I actually prefer the 2003 vintage in general from the northern Rhone. 

The Saxum is very well balanced for 16% abv. Mostly Syrah with a dollop of Grenache. I am always impressed by the quality of the fruit in Saxum wines.  The James Berry Vineyard is the crown jewel. Slightly edging out the others as my favorite of the evening.

First time I've enjoyed The Standish in a while. Big wines that need time in the bottle. This 2003 tipped in at around 15% to 16% abv.  Definitely the heavyweight of the flight. Delicious raspberry component. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

99 Conterno Fantino Sori Ginestra and '05 Domenico Clerico Ciabot Mentin Ginestra

Fascinating comparison of different Producers  (albeit different vintages) from the Ginestra vineyard. Both wines served at a pre-show dinner for Stephen Stills' show. A true legend.

'05 Clerico was slow-o'd for 9 hours prior to dinner and then decanted at the restaurant. '99 Conterno Fantino was slow-o'd for 4 hours prior to dinner and served from bottle. 

The '99 Conterno Fantino was a showcase for a nicely matured Barolo. Black cherry with dusty tannins and tar. Nose took a while to open up. Paired in stelllar fashion with Ossobuco. One of the more enjoyable Barolo's I've had from the classic 1999 vintage. 

The '05 Clerico is still young. Exhibits very tasty fruit at this stage with balsamic accents and anise. The tannins come in heavy after the initial taste of fruit.  Could be in prime drinking window in another 5 years. As the dinner progressed, the Clerico seemed to shut down down slightly, possibly due to the decanting and increased exposure to air. 

We were drawn to the Clerico again & again early on with the voluptuous fruit and classic components  (that will eventually come together).  

The classicism of the Conterno Fantino took over as dinner progressed and it paired so well with the cuisine. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

2009 G. Canonica Barolo Paiagallo and 2000 Damilano Barolo Riserva

Interesting take on two vintages and two producers.  I am becoming more of a fan of some of the younger vintages that are approachable earlier.  

The '09 Canonica Paiagallo was showing brilliantly.  Ten hours of slow-o prior to dinner.  The most striking impression is the quality of the fruit in balance with supple tannins. An absolutely delicious Barolo. 

The '00 Damilano Riserva is a good wine on its own, however the fruit seemed a bit faded compared to the Canonica.  The Damilano greets you like an old friend. A very satisfying blend. The tar component is much more present than in the Canonica. 

Both wines paired well with the dishes:
- Sauteed gnocchi with prosciutto, green apple and blue cheese cream
- Ribeye steak with blackened green beans and sauteed mushrooms

Friday, July 10, 2015

2006 Le Calle Catocci Poggio d'Oro Sangiovese Riserva (Montecucco)

A delightful surprise. Montecucco region is new to me... just south of Montalcino.  Nicely balanced at 14% abv.  Seems to be entering its peak drinking window.  Lovely dark cherry with dusty tannins accented by well integrated Slovenian oak. Great QPR at around $30. Paired well with chicken parmigiana and mushrooms oreganata. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

1992 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa and 2005 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon

Two great wines showing beautifully.

'92 Dunn Napa is magnificent from the start.  Double-decanted back into clean bottle and slow-o for an hour. Threw off a fair amount of sediment.  13.0% alc. (Bravo!) This Napa bottling was actually showing a bit better than the '92 Howell Mountain from last month.  Stunning, luscious fruit with a nose to match.The trademark Dunn Cab tannins have melted into a deliciously sweet framework.  It's quite classic and Bordeaux - like at this stage of its life. At its peak IMO. Simply the best Dunn Cab I've ever had. 

First time I've had the Tor Beckstoffer To Kalon.  What could possibly begin to match the beauty of the '92 Dunn?  Well, the Tor does a great job of that.  The pedigree of the To Kalon vineyard is instantly recognizable. Extremely well balanced for 15.2 alc.  You wouldn't  know it without looking at the label.  Cassis, cigar box and hints of anise complement the amazing fruit. It's still a bit young, but approachable at this juncture. A "wow" Napa Cab.