2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

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2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#1 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 12:42 am

A group of us recently had a wine trip to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu. As time allows, I'll post notes and photos here ...

We began in Turin ...

GAJAS AT TRE GALLI, TORINO - Ristorante Tre Galli, Turin, Italy

I have previously dined at Tre Galli and was impressed by the deep wine list (one of the best in all of Italy). However, on this visit, I thought that the food was particularly good, a great accompaniment to the two Gajas, drunk side-by-side …
  • 1993 Gaja Barolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Popped and poured but it could have used an earlier decant. Impenetrable dark colour. Also black fruited and deep on bouquet, showing dark cherries, blackberries, tar, peaty black soil and liquorice aromas, with a little umami, soy development. In the mouth, deep, powerful and concentrated. It seemed to become more, not less, structured with time in the glass. At 26 years of age, drinking fairly young and primary. A meaty texture with those dark berries and tar and sandy tannins. Quite tannic with fierce acidity. Bone dry and savoury, with truffle, porcini and umami complexity. Detailed and layered. It was a sensational food match with both my Angolotti and Fasone Rump with Ash dishes. Clearly the better wine than the Barbaresco. Great now but this Sperss has years ahead of it.
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  • 1998 Gaja Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Popped and poured but it could have used an earlier decant. Lighter coloured with a rusty tinge at the rim. A prettier nose. More perfumed with roses and violets and more red fruit than black on bouquet. Also a little dry clay and a touch of creosote. On palate, the impression of being a ‘smaller’ wine than the Sperss, however it was still large scaled, dense and structured with serious concentration. Drinking darker fruited than the bouquet suggested, with tar, brushwood, rusty metal, espresso and balsamico notes. As Andrew said, when paired with the Angolotti, the Barbaresco had “lost a little fruit”, although it paired better with the Fasone Rump dish. There for drinking in the next 10 years.
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    Angolotti
  • 2006 Luigi Oddero Barolo Vigna Rionda - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    We felt like having another wine and hoped that the excellent vineyard here might put this wine in the same quality league as the Gajas … It did not but the Oddero is still a decent Barolo that probably needs 5+ years more to show its best … Bright red/purple colour. Lifted violets, dark cherries, minerals and dark spices on the bouquet. On entry to the palate, compared with the bone dry Gajas, the impression of some fruit sweetness. Serralunga structure and precision met 2006 austerity to provide quite a stern, linear, albeit correct Barolo. Blackberries and dark cherries, new leather, minerals and some tar. Not the balance or complexity of the Gajas, nonetheless a good, traditional Barolo.
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    Fasone Rump with Ash
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#2 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 12:59 am

LONG SUNDAY LUNCH ON THE LANGHE

Our good friend, Jeffrey Chilcott of Marchesi di Grésy, organised a long Sunday lunch for us at a traditional Piemontese restaurant. We were joined by the charming and very knowledgeable wine writer Michaela Morris and Luca of Giacomo Fenocchio. It was great to get the opportunity to try Luca’s couple of older Fenocchios, because I had not have much experience with the well regarded label.

Here are some highlights of the wines we drank (wines served blind unless indicated otherwise):
  • 2015 Tzora Vineyards Judean Hills - Israel, Judean Hills
    Luca served this wine from his homeland blind. Most picked the wine as a Chardonnay but it was difficult to place or categorise. Clean and pure with a little minerality. The Tzora was viscous and tactile with good weight and power. It was citric but more grapefruit than lemon with pears and peaches and a touch of more exotic fruits (perhaps guava?). It showed good acidity, particularly for a wine from such a warm climate. There was also a little toasty oak (Luca said it was 75% in barrel, but 45% large format). Luca noted the 10% Sauvignon Blanc, which adds a little complexity to the wine. Very good.
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  • 2015 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3 - New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago
    I am a big fan of this wine. For me, it competes with the 2012 Block 3 to be the best Central Otago Pinot Noir produced this decade. I served it blind. An exuberant bouquet of a pot-pourri of red and black cherries and berries with lifted florals and spices. A great nose. “Very Fourrier-like”, observed Michaela. On palate, Jeffrey noted “cherries and watermelon”, with someone saying it was “candied, but in a good way”. Jeffrey also mentioned the “good substance and length” and the “super balance” of this Felton Road. Delicious and impressive now, it’ll develop more nuance and complexity with another 5+ years.
  • 2015 Schubert Pinot Noir Marion's Vineyard - New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa
    I paired the Felton Road with the Schubert to show the difference between Bannockburn, Central Otago and Martinborough Pinot Noir terroir. 2015 was an excellent vintage in Martinborough, as it was in Central. Served blind. People noted the more restrained, earthy, brambly, less fruit forward aromatics of the Schubert, typical of Martinborough. On palate as well, the Schubert showed more evident stuffing and structure than the Felton Road with notes of black cherries and blackberries, soil, underbrush and crushed stones. More of a savoury edge than the Felton Road. Hold for 3+ years.
  • 2003 Neudorf Pinot Noir Moutere - New Zealand, South Island, Nelson, Moutere
    Served blind by Jeffrey. Under screwcap. Youthful colour. A young-seeming Pinot bouquet of dark plums, black spices, liquorice, brushwood and wet iron. On palate, it was a bit of a beast with huge structure and heavy extraction. It had decent freshness but seemed to have lower acidity. I picked it as an Oregon, rather than a New Zealand, Pinot Noir. Black plums, cherries and other fruits, quince paste and sous bois. A very good NZ Pinot Noir, drinking more like a five than a 15 year old.
  • 1994 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Cannubi - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Served blind by Luca. Pale red with ochre highlights. An attractive, mellow, fully mature bouquet of fresh and dried red cherries, spices and rusty iron. Almost Pinot-like but with Campari and orange rind. On palate, I was guessing this was a 1990s-era Barolo. A lovely, elegant wine. Fresh with fully resolved tannins. Red cherries, rusty metals, porcini, earth and a touch of citrus. Now at its peak for drinking. My wine of the lunch.
  • 1993 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Served blind by Luca. Lighter ruby with some bricking. The bouquet, despite touches of Campari and orange juice, seemed more youthful than for the other Fenocchio. There was actually some attractive, fresh red fruit, as well as dry brushwood, spices and traces of vanillin oak. On palate, as Jeffrey noted, it had “lots of power and concentration” and was “tannic, quite an edgy wine”. Certainly the Bussia was more powerful and structured than the other Fenocchio or the Cogno. Michaela noted that the wine was “tightening up with time in the glass” and clearly had “a ways to go”. A very impressive traditional Barolo.
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  • 1997 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    We brought the 1997 Ravera to compare with the 1997 Elena. Sadly it was badly corked. However, it seemed to have good underlying material.
  • 1997 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    We served this wine blind. Ruby with orange tinge. Aromatic, showing a lot of evolution with notes of dried herb, tobacco, mushroom, warm earth and tar. As someone said, the overall effect was something like lamb stew. “Round and soft on mid palate”, as Thierry observed. Evolved but elegant. Resolved tannins and integrated fruit and acids. After the reveal there was a discussion about whether the Cogno was too advanced for a 1997. It probably was but I found this a lovely, mellow Barolo to drink now, with a tannin structure I preferred over the 1993 Fenocchio.
  • 1978 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We served this wine blind. Rusty colour. A bouquet of citrus rind, tobacco, earth, old leather, dry underbrush and dried red fruits. Someone mentioned the nose reminding them of old chicory coffee. Similar on palate. Evolved and resolved but I thought drinking more like a 1980s than 1970s Nebbiolo. Savoury, earthy with dried fruit and tobacco leaf. Not hugely complex but an honest, satisfying older Nebbiolo.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#3 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 1:14 am

A COUPLE OF WINES IN BARBARESCO
  • 2015 La Ca' Nova Barbaresco Montestefano - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    After lunch we dropped into the excellent Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco. The Enoteca has the current release of virtually every Barbaresco produced on sale with several to taste. We tried the La Ca’ Nova as we planned to visit there tomorrow … Deep colour. A bouquet of black fruit, liquorice, minerals and black spices. As you would expect from a wine from perhaps the most Barolo-like of all Barbaresco vineyards, and a warm year, a big structured, serious, tannic wine. A lot of generous black fruit, but also mineral with an iron core. Quite taut and closed. I thought I detected a slight alcohol burn on the finish. However, I also thought the Montestefano showed great potential but needed another 5-7+ years in the cellar.
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    Barbaresco from the Tower
  • 2017 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero
    It was a warm day, so we got a bottle of this Arneis to share at the very good Nonsolovino wine shop in Barbaresco. I like good Arneis, including most recent vintages of Vietti and some previous Bruno Giacosa versions. Here, however, I wasn’t impressed … Pale colour. A typical Arneis bouquet: lemon zest, chalk, cut straw and a touch of lanolin. In the mouth, seemingly lower acid and quite fleshy. Viscous and oily. Pear, lemon, lime and straw. Lacking energy and precision. “The sweetness is not well balanced”, said Thierry. The wine is young, but I’m not sure that a year or two in the cellar will transform this Arneis into something better.
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    The Barbaresco Enoteca
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#4 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 1:29 am

VISIT TO FLETCHER WINES WITH DAVE FLETCHER - Cantina del Stazione, Barbaresco

Dave Fletcher is an Aussie from Adelaide whose day job is at Cerretto. After hours he runs Fletcher Wines out of the Barbaresco train station that he has renovated. His Cantina del Stazione – winery and cool wine bar - is a fun place to visit. He farms applying organic and bio-dynamic principles and uses older oak for most of his wines. He gave us a quick tasting of some of his recent releases.
  • 2017 Fletcher Langhe Chardonnay C17 - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Light colour. Stony and mineral on the nose with some mealy, peach and pear notes. Also, not very citric on the palate. Mineral, nutty and weighty. Bread and orchard fruit flavours. I would have liked a little more acidity and cut.
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  • 2017 Fletcher Arcato Vino da Tavola - Italy, Piedmont, Vino da Tavola
    A natural or amber wine. Made from 75% Arneis and 25% Moscato. Fermented with skins and whole bunches. I liked it. A bouquet of mandarin, blanched almonds, baking spices and toffee, with a suggestion of crème brûlée. In the mouth, a full, rich, yeasty, viscous wine with brioche, cashews and almonds, and some citric and orchard fruit. Also, a little savoury nuance. Lower acidity but complex and interesting. Give it two years or so to fully settle.
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    Dave Fletcher
  • 2017 Fletcher Barbera d'Asti - Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti
    Made with 30% whole bunch, and older barrels. An exuberant nose of milk chocolate, blackberries and red and black cherries, with a lift of kirsch. Fully, ripe, rich dark fruit. Good volume and flow. Lower acidity. Silky with round tannins good mouthfeel. A good Barbera. I’d give it 1-2 years before drinking.
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  • 2016 Fletcher Nebbiolo d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Nebbiolo d'Alba
    A bright, energetic bouquet of red cherries, raspberries, mixed spices and earth. Drinking it, good acidity and focus, weight and drive. Attractive mainly red fruit. Spherical, not rustic tannins. Ready to go now.
  • 2015 Fletcher Barbaresco Recta Pete - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Dave says that this is “the best wine I have ever made” and it was certainly the best wine of the tasting and a clear step up from the Nebbiolo d’Alba. Fruit 100% from Roncaglie. An attractive bouquet of cinnamon and other spices, red currants and red cherries and lifted rose and other floral aromas. In the mouth, seemingly quite accessible already, it’s elegant and fine. Clean and pure. Red cherries, earth and spices on the palate. Refreshing, bright acidity and succulent, fine tannins. Good volume and length. I’d give it 5+ years in the cellar.
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  • 2016 Fletcher 'X16' Langhe Rosso - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    The next two wines were Dave’s take on a local Super Tuscan-type cuvée. Thirds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Nebbiolo. About 25% new oak. A bouquet of cedar, new leather, earth and crème de cassis. On palate, full and broad shouldered. A lot of fruit volume here. Tight and coiled. Cellar for 4-5+ years.
  • 2013 Fletcher 'X13' Langhe Rosso - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Thirds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Nebbiolo. About 25% new oak. A more attractive and nuanced bouquet than the 2016. A touch of vanillin oak, followed by dark florals, spices and graphite. Similar on palate to the 2016, but better delineated with superior acidity and complexity. Ideally, hold for another 2+ years.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#5 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 1:45 am

2018 VISIT TO PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO WITH ALDO AND DAVID

We began Barbaresco Monday with a visit to Produttori del Barbaresco.

At the tasting we were joined by Wine Berserker D@vid Bu3ker who had come down from Turin for the morning tasting. It was great fun to meet, and taste with, David.

Aldo Vacca began the visit with a brief winery tour. Aldo allowed us a quick tank tasting of the 2017 Pora.

Aldo gave us a brief, potted history of the collective. Produttori del Barbaresco was founded in 1958, in the same year as Terre del Barolo. He said that the early years were difficult in Barbaresco. For example, he mentioned that Sori Tildin had been a wheat field when bought in the 1970s by Angelo Gaja’s father.

Aldo explained that there were three key decisions or design features that ultimately led to Produtorri’s modern day success:

- The decision to be Nebbiolo (Barbaresco) only. In the beginning, Dolcetto was actually the more valuable grape than Nebbiolo.

- The requirement that all member farmers must deliver 100% of their Nebbiolo grapes to the collective, to prevent farmers skimming off their best grapes or vintages.

- The decision to pay for grapes, in the parcels delivered, based on their quality, not just on their quantity.

There are now 54 growers in Produttori del Barbaresco. Today, even beyond wine, Produttori must be one of the most successful cooperatives of any type in the world.

Aldo talked about recent harvests and vintages:

2017: This was a very challenging vintage in Barbaresco. For example, Aldo noted that, two nights of frost killed 50% of the vines in Gaja’s Costa Russi right to their roots. After the frosts came the hail. Three Produttori growers lost 100% of their harvest to hail. The last hail in Ovello was in June and then it was pretty dry, across all Produttori vineyards, until November. Aldo thinks Riservas will “probably” be made for 2017. It is very early, obviously, to assess but he compared the results with 2011s or 2015s, expecting robust, full wines, “not elegant”, as he said.

2016: Riservas will be made. There are good volumes.

2015: Riservas will be made, again there are good volumes.

2014 (and 2013): Riservas were bottled in May, this year. The Riservas will be released in February 2019. There will be reduced quantities for most Cru. 2014, Aldo said, had been a wet season until 12 August, but then largely dry after that. He described the 2014 Cru as much more aromatic and elegant than the very structured, classic, spicy 2013s. He called the 2014s “Burgundian” or a “unique, Pinot-like vintage”. I have tasted a number of the 2013 Cru. Although they had similar (late) harvest dates (8 and 12 October, respectively), and on my previous visit in 2016 tasted fairly similar (as both were from classical, cooler vintages), they have now markedly diverged, each clearly expressing their vintage characters. This tasting cemented my overall preference for the more perfumed, refined 2014s over the earthier, more structured 2013s. Still, I rate the 2013s very highly, ahead of the 2011s or 2009s, and expect the 2013s to be a very long-lived vintage.

During the tasting, Aldo also talked about drinking windows for his Riservas. Generally, his personal drinking window for his Cru, most vintages, is eight to 12 years. For the 2011s, he mentioned, he would recommend finishing them within 15 years of vintage (ie around 2026) because, for this earlier drinking vintage, “20 years may be too much”. Of recent vintages, he specifically noted the 2008 and 2014 Cru as having “the chance to go longer” (than this 20 years period). Aldo rates his 2008 Riservas as his best vintage of the first decade this century.

We tasted three of the 2014 Cru side-by-side. Then Aldo treated us to a deep dive into Ovello, the largest volume producer of the Produttori Cru, following the 2014 with all Riserva vintages back to 2004.
  • 2017 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pora - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Tank sample. Small pour. A dark nose of blackcurrants, black cherries and earth. Dense with good weight. Lots of power. Dark fruit. Reasonably elegant and fine however.
  • 2014 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pora - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    “Expressive aromatics” said David. I agreed, seeing notes of red and black cherries, violets and other dark florals. On palate, a gorgeous, attractive, elegant Nebbiolo I could drink with dinner tonight, I thought. “Big fruit” said Andrew. Vibrant and energetic. Svelte, spherical tannins. “Almost pinot-like”, said Aldo. Attractive minerality.
  • 2014 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Thierry noted that he “loved the aromatics” here. Earthy with brushwood, bramble, red cherries and raspberries. On palate, savoury and brambly and again clearly Burgundian. “Wow the depth”, said David. Not the normal overt earthiness of a Produttori Ovello. Slightly rustic finish that may settle down with time. My favourite of the three 2014s.
  • 2014 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    As is typical for this most Barolo-like of Barbaresco sites, a precise, mineral bouquet of black currants, black cherries and some lifted dark florals. In the mouth, quite tight and closed, with large scale, but fine grained, tannins. Austere with a steely core. Very mineral with a “slight saltiness” Thierry detected. This Cru will need 8-10 years to fully uncoil, I’d imagine.
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  • 2013 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    An attractive, Ovello-typical bouquet. “Earthy, spicy”, said Aldo. I detected underbrush and sottobosco elements with David noting a “cinnamon bark” quality. Seemingly relatively open on the nose. Anything but open on palate. Tight and very structured. Grippy tannins. Powerful. Aldo noted that the “finish is a little more aggressive here due to the clay”. It is more accessible than recent 2013 Asili and Rabajas I have opened. Still it needs 7-10 years cellar time, I think.
  • 2011 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Very different from the 2013. A lovely bouquet of red cherries, redcurrants, dry clay and rose florals. On palate, fairly accessible with attractive red fruit, soil and a touch of secondary, orange rind. Fully ripe, but not overripe, and rich. “Quite youthful with nice tannins”, said Aldo. Svelte and refined with fine grained tannins. Good volume and body. I liked this Ovello very much. Drinking well now, but ideally, hold for 3+ years.
  • 2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    “An early vintage and warm, but with some tannins”, said Aldo. The first Ovello where the colour suggests a little development. A forward wine, potentially for drinking right now. This was my second to favourite Ovello for drinking tonight (after the 2005). A beautiful bouquet, classic Produttori Ovello. Earth, brushwood, cinnamon and plums and other mainly red fruit. On palate, mellow, complex, earthy and spicy with cocoa and red and black cherries. I agreed with Aldo that the 2009 was “right in the zone” but I worried about how quickly it had got there. Aldo’s advice of drinking 2009s in the next 3-5 years seems good.
  • 2008 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Aldo introduced the 2008 Ovello as “the best Riserva vintage of the last decade, like 2001 a long cellaring vintage”. A bouquet of earth, spices, red cherries and other red and black fruit. “Dried flowers”, said David, which seemed right. On palate, clay, red currants, red cherries and other red fruit, but with a steely core. Very tight and closed. The best wine at the tasting but it needs at least 5-8 more years in the cellar.
  • 2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Aldo spoke glowingly of the 2007 vintage. “2007 was a perfect climactic vintage, maybe so perfect it was boring. It allowed a long harvest – 24 days – of homogenous fruit with the same pH, sugar etc every day. It produced refined, polished wines”, he said. A beautiful bouquet of fresh and dried red berries and cherries, cinnamon, smoke and highlights of red rose. In the mouth, much more available than the 2008, yet in a similar direction. Earthy with spices, autumn leaf and fully ripe red currants and red cherries and even some suggestions of strawberry. A lovely wine now that’ll be even better in 3-4 years I’d imagine, but not the long-term cellar proposition of the 2008.
  • 2005 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A lovely bouquet. Spicy, red fruited – fresh red currants, red cherries and plums - and floral perfumes. In the mouth, as Aldo said, “more fruit driven than the ‘04”. “Very fleshy”, said Andrew. Plump, generous, ripe and rich but bone dry. Nice acidity to balance the fruit and tannins. Classy, velvety tannins. Drink or hold. My wine of the tasting.
  • 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Ovello - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    An exquisite but very different, “cooler” nose than the 2005. Largely red berries and cherries, spices, citrus, tar and cut, fresh herbs on bouquet. On palate, a classical Barbaresco. “A lot of dry extract but slightly vegetal”, as Aldo noted. Well integrated tannins. Red cherries, red currants, earth and slightly salty minerals. Aldo suggested either drinking the 2004 now or holding for 4-5 years. Very good, not far behind the 2005 in quality, for me.
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  • 2015 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Aldo finished up with accessible 2015 Normale. An attractive nose of spices, cherries, soil, rose petals and underbrush, with a touch of tar. In the mouth, savoury and earthy with fresh and dried mainly red berry fruit, brushwood and a little tobacco. Well balanced with decent acidity and integrated, relatively fine tannins. Good ripeness, volume of fruit and concentration. A good vintage for the Normale.
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    Ristorante Antica Torre
  • 2016 Renato Ratti Dolcetto d'Alba Colombe - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
    Opposite Produttori, Trattoria Antica Torre Barbaresco is a favourite restaurant for lunch with the local rabbit the signature dish. To accompany the Coniglio we had the Ratti … Deep purple red colour. A bright nose of blackcurrants, black cherries, plums and a touch of balsamic. In the mouth, mainly black fruited with relatively fine grained, silky tannins. Good Dolcetto typicity but a relatively straightforward favour profile. A little below medium bodied. A good lunch wine.
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Overall, the tasting was a reflection of what I love so much about Produttori del Barbaresco’s Riservas. They are, of course, one of the great values of the fine wine world. But for me, Produttori’s consistent, traditional, non-interventionist winemaking over the years and its nine different sites means that you can get that Burgundian phenomenon where the imprints of terroir (in this case, Ovello) and vintage are what you can analyse in the glass …

Not everyone sees it that way … Aldo said one of his importers once said “Nine Riservas is interesting, just six too many. Make more Rabaja!”
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#6 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 2:10 am

LA CA’ NOVA WITH MARCO ROCCA - Barbaresco

When I told a Piemontese friend I was visiting La Ca’ Nova he joked “they are bio-dynamic but they don’t know they are”. Indeed La Ca’ Nova are a small, traditional, family run winery. They have four full-time employees including winemaker Marco Rocca who hosted us.

Marco showed us around his Botte-filled traditional winery.

He then took us out of the back of his winery to see his Montefico and Montestefano vineyard holdings. His Montestefano holding is very steep, up the top, at 270 metres above sea level. The soil is calcareous limestone and sand with the vines usually 40-50 years old. His Montefico vineyard is at similar altitude with south and south-east exposures and marl soil. Vines are typically 30-35 years of age. In total, they have about 14 ha under vines.

Typical times for maceration on skins for Barolos is 20-25 days.

Overall, I was impressed by La Ca’ Nova and their wines. They are an honest, down to earth operation committed to producing quality, classical Nebbiolo.

We tasted three Barbarescos.
  • 2015 La Ca' Nova Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Good ruby. Expressive florals with soil, leather and “nice spices”, as Andrew said, with a touch of creosote on bouquet. On palate, good intensity and power for this level. Clean, refined and fresh. Red fruited, earthy and leathery with some of those spices on the reasonably long finish. The tannins were fine and a little tactile, but not grippy. Good acidity. Quite a serious, almost a stern Barbaresco. I’d give it 2-3+ years in the cellar.
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    The winery
  • 2015 La Ca' Nova Barbaresco Vigna Bric Mentina Montefico - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A big step up on the Normale here. Montefico-typical ethereal perfumes of chalk, graphite minerality, cherries and lifted violets, with again a touch of spice. Surprisingly drinking quite accessibly this young. Intense and precise. Refreshing acidity and chalky tannins. Blackberries, black and red cherries, cedar, earth and graphite. Good volume, concentration and power. A long, mineral finish. Hold for 3-5+ years. An excellent Montefico.
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    Montefico
  • 2015 La Ca' Nova Barbaresco Montestefano - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Deeper, more intense purple colour than the Montefico. Also a dumber, more earth-bound, darker fruited nose. Aromas of black cherries, blackberries, cedar, wet granite and a touch of menthol. On palate, very structured, dense and closed. Tightly coiled and not giving much. Black cherry and dark plum with graphite, earth, cedar and iron. Huge grip and power. Good focus and precise acidity. It seemed to have all the material needed in the future to be a great Montestefano. I thought that this Cru would peak in 10+ years but Marco suggested it needs only “three or four years” in the cellar.
    DSC03517A.JPG
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#7 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 2:25 am

SOTTIMANO WITH ELENA SOTTIMANO - Neive, Cuneo, Italy

Thanks to Simon for this visit.

Like La Ca’ Nova, Sottimano is a small family business. We were hosted at this tasting by the vivacious Elena Sottimano. The operation is Elena, her father and brother and three employees.

Sottimano has 14 ha under vines. As with a visit to Produttori, tasting at Sottimano is an opportunity to think about terroir, comparing the Cottà, Currà, Fausoni, Pajoré and Basarin Crus from the Treiso and Neive townships. The fruit in each Cru is typically from 40-65 year old vines.

Elena described Sottimano as “fully organic” since 1975 although they are only now obtaining certification.

Elena said that “every year, every Cru has the same vinification”. We toured the winery and saw that the vinification was mainly in barriques. However, over the years Sottimano has been backing off on the use of new oak in the Cru. For example, Elena said, in 2008 the Cru saw 20-25% new oak. From 2010, the percentage has been reduced to about 10%.

Elena talked about recent harvests and vintages at Sottimano:

- 2017 was a very difficult vintage with both frost and hail.

- 2016 is a vintage she sees as a “fantastic vintage” but “needing 10+ years in the cellar” for the Cru. 2016 was a cooler year than 2015 so harvest was later, as it was in 2014.

- 2015 is “a vintage to drink”. The products of a warmer vintage, Elena compared Sottimano’s 2015 Cru with their 2006s or 2008s. The 2015s had longer macerations than typical. She described the 2015s as “young but approachable”, so we were pleased to be tasting them …
  • 2016 Sottimano Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Elena said that the wine was 100% from Basarin fruit from 20-25 year old vines. The vineyard is south facing and the vines on the top of a windy hill. In 2016 there were large diurnal shifts, which Elena sees as a positive for this wine. There was a 20-25 day’s maceration on the skins here. An attractive, spicy nose of red liquorice, red cherries, raspberries and soil with a touch of dark florals. On palate, a nice Langhe Nebbiolo. Largely red fruited with spices and earth. Good weight with a little grip. But elegant with nervous acidity that adds to the interest of the wine. A good entry level wine.
    DSC03550A.JPG
    Elena Sottimano
  • 2015 Sottimano Barbaresco Fausoni - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    From a Neive site on sand, soil and clay. Vines 45 years old. This Fausoni saw 30 days maceration on the skins and “old fashioned winemaking”, as Elena described it. A paler colour. Lovely, typical Fausoni herbal and floral aromatics. A fresh and breezy bouquet of mint, balsamico and earth. Also, as Andrew observed, a touch of orange peel. An elegant, crisp, fresh entry to the palate, with that slightly citric inflexion. Fine, clean and pure, but with some grip and chewy tannins on the finish. “Tight and a little closed”, said Elena. Excellent length. Very good.
  • 2015 Sottimano Barbaresco Pajoré - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    For me, a step up from the Fausoni. From a high site (350 metres above sea level) in Treiso on limestone and some clay. Older vines. A bouquet of red cherries, raspberries and other red fruit, spices, liquorice and a “fumé” note Elena referenced (that put me in mind of smoky barbequed game meats). Silky, fine grained tannins in the mouth, elegant and refined but a lot of fruit volume and structure across the mid palate. The serious tannic and acidic structure made me think it’ll improve over the next 6-8 years.
    DSC03536A.JPG
    The winery
  • 2015 Sottimano Barbaresco Cottá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    From vines as old as 50-60 years old on limestone with clay. A pot pourri of red and black fruit, including plums, cherries and raspberries, with a touch of blueberries. Also “lifted florals” (as Mark noted) which I saw more as a herbal lift. On palate, there is a lot of fruit volume and weight here, and tons of power. Thierry liked the “nervous quality” of the acids and Andrew pointed to the “sweet tannins”. It seemed like there was a lot of good components in this Cottá, and good potential, just that they’ll need quite a few years for this wine to come together. Hold for at least five years.
  • 2015 Sottimano Barbaresco Basarin - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A purchase of an additional Basarin vineyard has allowed Sottimano to produce this Barbaresco Cru for the first time in 2015. From a 1 ha vineyard of 40-45 year old vines. The vineyard is very high and steep and full south facing. A nose of red liquorice, spices, red cherries and other red fruit. Fresh but powerful. Good energy and focus. Very fine grained. My favourite of the 2015s.
  • 2008 Sottimano Barbaresco Currá - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Elena had no 2014 Currá to show us as it has been held back longer in bottle, she therefore opened a 2008 Currá. Elena mentioned that the 2008 was 20-25% new oak (as compared with 10% for more recent Cru). A lovely Barolo bouquet of red berries and cherries, soil and soy, a little minty. Pure and mineral on palate but with real power and weight. Red fruited with cocoa powder, warm earth and tartufo nero. Complex, deep and concentrated. A top wine of the day.
    DSC03551A.JPG
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#8 Post by Howard Davis » September 23rd, 2018, 2:41 am

CIGLIUTI WITH CLAUDIA CIGLIUTI - Neive, Cuneo, Italy

Next we visited traditional, high quality Barbaresco house Cigliuti F.lli Azenda Agricola.

Claudia Cigliuti is a fifth-generation Cigliuti family member, now running the house with her sister. Claudia’s father, in the 1960s, improved the quality of his Barbarescos, introducing green harvest and reducing yields. The family has never moved away from traditional winemaking.

Cigliuti has 7.5 ha under vine: 6 ha in Serraboella and 1.5 ha in Bricco di Nieve. These vineyards are on either side of the road outside winery and Claudia took us out for a look at them. Serraboella is south west facing at 350 metres above sea level with calcareous soil and 25-55 year old vines. Bricco di Nieve, that produces the Vie Erte Barbaresco, faces south east at similar height with calcareous and sandy soil and vines aged above 15 years. Élevage is in Slavonian and larger French casks. Typically the Barbarescos have 20 or more day’s maceration on skins.

The winery typically produces 30,000 to 38,000 bottles per annum, Claudia said, noting the “big loss” of grapes in 2017. Claudia said that she really rates her 2016 Barbaresco vintage, preferring her ‘16s to either her ‘15s or ‘17s.
  • 2015 Cigliuti Barbera d'Alba Serraboella - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Claudia said that this Barbera is “from three parcels on the hill, two south-east facing on clay, one south-west on chalky soil”. A nose of blackberries, black cherries, plums and black spices. Rich, plush and chocolatey on palate, but with nice slatey minerality. A classical Barbera. “The fruit concentration matches the acidity well” noted Claudia. She said that the Barbera will age but that she prefers drinking this wine within 2-3 years of vintage.
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    Serraboella
  • 2015 Cigliuti Barbera d'Alba Campass - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    This is a selection from a vineyard with 35 year old vines on clay soil that sees more new oak (about 20% new French barriques Claudia said). A nose of blackcurrants, black plums, dark chocolate and liquorice. Bold, with a touch of lavender and some spicy oak. Drinking more velvety and fine than the Serraboella. Richer, more rounded and complex than the Serraboella. Dark fruited with minerals, cacao and black liquorice. There is a little spicy oak yet to integrate. A high quality Barbera. I’d cellar it for at least a couple of years.
    DSC03567A.JPG
    Bricco di Nieve
  • 2014 Cigliuti Barbaresco Vie Erte - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A spicy, light, attractive and elegant bouquet showing rose floral, cherry, tar and dried herb nuances. On palate, the Barbaresco, as would be expected from the vintage, is refined and pure. Red and black fruits, earth, minerals and a herbaceous element (meant as a positive) dominate the flavour profile. Only mid weight, with chalky yet round tannins. A lovely, precise Barbaresco. Give it 3+ years.
    DSC03570A.JPG
    Claudia Cigliuti
  • 2014 Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A Barbaresco from vines up to 60 years old on chalky soil. Claudia confidently said that this wine would cellar for 40 years. A superb wine with a fine, perfumed nose showing a spectrum of florals and herbs – roses, violets and lavender – spices and minerals. Quite intoxicating. In the mouth, fully ripe yet elegant and silky, it caresses the palate. On entry it seems medium weight – or less – yet it expands across the mid palate, leading to a peacock’s tail of flavour. “Truly an amazing wine”, said Thierry. Still, it’ll improve, I would think, with 5 years in the cellar.
    DSC03590A.JPG
  • 2001 Cigliuti Barbaresco Serraboella - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    From Magnum. Very generously, Claudia opened this beautiful wine saying “2001 is a classical vintage in Barbaresco too”. Ruby colour with a little ochre at the rim. A beautiful bouquet, multi-layered and complex including notes of dried rose petal, earth, spices, red berries and cherries, porcini and dry brushwood. A profound wine to drink. Power with lightness. Complex and detailed. Savoury, mineral, earthy, spicy, red fruited and floral. At a lovely stage of its development. One of the best wines of the trip.
    DSC03580A.JPG
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#9 Post by Marcus Dean » September 23rd, 2018, 2:44 am

Killer notes as usual Howard.

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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#10 Post by Jeremy Holmes » September 23rd, 2018, 4:16 am

Great stuff Howard.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#11 Post by J Dove » September 23rd, 2018, 6:09 am

Thanks for taking the time to post this.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#12 Post by Rama Roberts » September 23rd, 2018, 9:12 am

Enjoyable and educational reading. Thanks.

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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#13 Post by Jeff Vaughan » September 23rd, 2018, 9:45 am

Thanks Howard. I've been enjoying your notes on CT.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#14 Post by ky1em!ttskus » September 23rd, 2018, 9:51 am

[popcorn.gif]

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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#15 Post by Matt Mauldin » September 23rd, 2018, 1:01 pm

Top notch all the way around- love your tasting notes.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#16 Post by Sanjay Nandurkar » September 23rd, 2018, 2:22 pm

Amazing notes and lots of insight. Much appreciated. Keep going.

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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#17 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 1:17 am

Guys, you're welcome ...

We finished Barbaresco Monday in a new restaurant (to us) in Monforte d'Alba ...

DINNER AT RISTORANTE MODA, MONFORTE D’ALBA

With our first choice restaurant closed, we chanced upon Moda for dinner. It was an inspired choice. The location, in the centre of and high up in Monforte d’Alba, with expansive views, was spectacular and the cuisine excellent.
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My 30-egg yolk Tarajin with white Raju of Rabbit entrée and Guinea Fowl stuffed with vegetables and Bra sausage main were as good as any meal I had in Italy on the trip. The waiter said that the 30 egg yokes related to a kilogram of pasta, not my individual portion, although I would not have been at all surprised if he’d said the opposite!

Moda’s wine list was fairly ‘young’. We settled on a pair of traditionally made 2011s, a vintage that is often providing good, fairly early drinking:
  • 2011 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    An elegant, somewhat Pinot-like bouquet of red cherries, raspberries, spices and dry brushwood with a top note of rose perfume. Almost a sweet-seeming entry to the palate. Succulent, crunchy red cherry and berry fruit. The acids provided good focus and balance with the silky smooth tannins. Complexity was provided by just a touch of dried herb, tobacco, rusty development. “For me, this wine has just the secondary development I want, I don’t want more”, said Thierry. Certainly, it was lovely on the night … Finishing appropriately dry, long and mineral. Sensational with both my Tarajin and Guinea Fowl dishes. I preferred it over the very good Massolino. Notwithstanding its early accessibility, I’d imagine it’d cellar for 20+ years, easily.
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    30 egg yolk Rabbit Tarajin
  • 2011 Massolino Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A ‘darker’, more closed nose than the Cogno with notes of cherries, plums, minerals and violet florals. Relatively approachable on palate but very tannic. The tannic structure was serious and large scaled however the tannins were spherical, fat and a little softened. Rusty, ferrous metal, earth, barbequed meats, cherries and chalk. Long, finishing dry. A large volume of ripe, rich fruit in good balance with decent, integrated acidity, particularly for a 2011. Someone commented that the Massolino was “more raisiny on the second pour”. While I could see some of that very ripe 2011 character, I didn’t think this character was over-prominent. Give it a minimum of 3-5 more years. A class act.
    DSC03604A.JPG
    Stuffed Guinea Fowl
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#18 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 1:32 am

Tuesday morning we started our visits in Perno ...

VISIT TO CASCINA FONTANA - Perno, near Monforte d’Alba

In 2016 Alessio Cighetti of Vinoteca Centro Storico, Serralunga d’Alba recommended Cascina Fontana as a winery that flies under the radar and is doing great things. Hence our visit when we were next in Piemonte …

Mario Fontana is the winemaker. The winemaking is very traditional. Mario’s wife Luisa was related to Bartolo Mascarello.

They have five full time employees and produce 26-30,000 bottles of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo each year. Their 5 ha of vineyards are in Castiglione Falletto, La Morra and Sinio. Until 2008 the Barolo was only from Castiglione Falletto fruit. Since 2008 fruit from Luisa’s two sites was added. As with Bartolo Mascarello, Cascina Fontana’s Barolo is typically a blend of the best fruit from all of their sites however in 2013 (and possibly in 2015) they have made a special bottling from Castiglione Falletto.

Overall, I thought the wines were solid, honest, traditionally made wines.

Barrel tasting
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  • 2017 Cascina Fontana Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Cascina Fontana are very happy with how their 2017s are looking to date. Sample from a 50 year old chestnut barrel. Sinio and Castiglione Falletto grapes. A bouquet of strawberry bubblegum, red cherries and a little red plum. A sweetish entry to the palate. Bright, energetic red berries. Fine grained, polished tannins. Good at this level.
  • 2015 Cascina Fontana Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From tank. A blend of grapes from the three sites. A nose of HP sauce, plums, balsamico, earth and some gentle florals. Moderately complex. Light, pure and clean on the palate. I had the impression of 2015 sweetness but with good energy and acidity. Acceptable weight and concentration. 14% alc.
  • 2015 Cascina Fontana Barolo Castiglione Falletto - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From tank. This wine may not be bottled as a separate cuvée, it may be included in the 2015 Barolo. A bouquet of balsamico, raspberries, strawberry jam and chalky minerals. I preferred this Cru to the Normale. In the mouth, more powerful and also more elegant. Energetic red cherries, raspberries and other red fruit with earth and attractive minerality. Silky tannins. To be bottled in February and released in September 2019.
Bottle tasting
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  • 2017 Cascina Fontana Dolcetto d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
    Bottled only one month ago. From Sinio grapes. An attractive bouquet of wild raspberries and blackberries, cranberries and milk chocolate. Drinking unexpectedly powerfully and compressed. Very tight and closed. It seemed to have good fruit. I wouldn’t open a bottle of this Dolcetto for at least another 3 years.
  • 2016 Cascina Fontana Barbera d'Alba - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Again, bottled only one month ago. A pure bouquet of blackberries, dark cherries and other black fruit, graphite, earth and menthol. Like the Dolcetto, a little closed. More body and drive than the Dolcetto. Attractive, racy acidity, “Open, not cloying dark fruit”, said Andrew. A decent Barbera d’Alba. I’m sure it’d cellar 10+ years, easily, but I’d hold it 2+ years minimum.
  • 2016 Cascina Fontana Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Again, bottled only one month ago. A lovely nose of mixed dried spices, dried and fresh rose petals and red fruit. In the mouth, pinot-like, elegant, bright and clean. Fresh raspberries and red cherries. “I am struck by the minerality” said Thierry. A good wine at this level.
  • 2014 Cascina Fontana Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    2014 was a difficult vintage for Cascina Fontana but saved by several warmer months before harvest. An intriguing bouquet of spices, red cherries, red liquorice and rose florals, “balsamic and minty” added Andrew. Similar to the 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo, but scaled up and deeper. Fine and a little pinot-like. Red cherries and other red fruit with limestone and chalk below the surface. Fresh, breezy and clean. Bright acids. Thierry noted a herbaceousness he liked. The wine of the tasting.
  • 2013 Cascina Fontana Barolo Castiglione Falletto - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    This may have been a flawed bottle. After the tasting, we were given the rest of the bottle to take with us. It deteriorated and was worse the next day. On bouquet were raspberries, plums and other red fruit and soy notes, which, with time however became unpleasant and quite briny. On palate, from a positive perspective, it showed flavours of balsamic vinegar, red fruit, citrus zest and earth, with chalky tannins. Particularly on the second day though the palate moved blocky, disjointed and quite oxidative.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#19 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 1:45 am

VISIT TO GIUSEPPE RINALDI WITH CARLOTTA RINALDI - Barolo, Piemonte

And then to one of the world’s great, and one of my favourite, wineries.

When we visited, we already knew that Giuseppe Rinaldi was seriously ill, in hospital. However, Carlotta Rinaldi and everyone in this family-based winery was carrying on very professionally, hosting groups such as ours.
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Carlotta explained that Rinaldi has 6.5 ha under vines and has four Barolo Crus: Brunate (1.2 ha), Le Coste (0.5 ha), Cannubi San Lorenzo (very small, less than 0.5 ha) and Ravera (3 ha). She noted that the 3 ha in Ravera is largely east facing, so it adds some freshness to the blend. Its grapes are usually picked last.
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Rinaldi produces about 38,000 bottles a year, including about 16,000 bottles of Barolo, as well as Nebbiolo Langhe, Barbera and Freisa (about 2,000 bottles).
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It was also poignant when Carlotta explained that the 100 year old big (98 HL) chestnut Brunate tina is to be replaced. Next to the tina is a framed photo of Carlotta’s grandfather. The tina is so large, and the space so relatively small that it will be disassembled and its replacement built, entirely inside the winery.

Carlotta mentioned that Rinaldi is replacing vines using selection massale and generally doesn’t do green harvest.

Another quirky fact Carlotta mentioned was that several of the winery’s tine are secondhand, ex-Josko Gravner’s winery, presumably sold when he made the change to qvevri.
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  • 2016 Giuseppe Rinaldi Nebbiolo Langhe - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Carlotta described 2016 for Rinaldi as “a good balanced vintage, showing nice, slow ripening” and “fresher, brighter than 2013s, with less backbone but more energy”. There are 5-6,000 bottles of this wine in 2016. A perfumed nose of morello cherries in syrup, raspberries, strawberries and rose petals. Lovely mouthfeel. Below middle weight. Very red fruited: raspberries, cherries and some strawberries. Suave tannins. A very good Nebbiolo Langhe.
  • 2014 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Tre Tine - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Carlotta mentioned that July’s hail caused a 40% loss in production. This wine saw only 20-25 day’s maceration on the skins. A beautiful bouquet of floral perfumes, spices, dark fruit and minerals. On palate, elegance and fineness with huge power. Only medium bodied but serious structure beneath a sleek surface. Ultra-fine grained tannins and lovely sparkling acids. Real purity, energy and focus. One of the best wines of the trip.
  • 2014 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Again a maceration less than 25 days on skins. More spice on bouquet than the Tre Tine, also more earth. Notes of brushwood, tar, porcini, soy and forest floor. In the mouth, exhibiting more weight and power than the Tre Tine. A large volume of earthy fruit with chewy, grippy tannins on the very long, dry finish. Balsamic, black cherries, slate and dried herbs. A special wine but, this young, less immediately attractive than the Tre Tine.
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Absolutely world class wines, it is a privilege to be able to visit there and taste them.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#20 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 2:01 am

FRANCESCO RINALDI WITH PIERA RINALDI

Francesco Rinaldi & Figli was a good choice for a visit after Giuseppe Rinaldi. The two Rinaldi families are related and both have a Brunate as a flagship.
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Piera Rinaldi
In the room above the cellar, Piera showed us a joint Rinaldi family tree – of the "Famiglia Rinaldi". The house is historic, being established in 1870, with a plate in the ceiling of the winery recording the year.
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Rinaldi today has six fulltime employees and is run by Piera and her sister Paola, with their 93 year old father – Luciano, himself grandson of the founder – providing some input.
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The house is very traditional using large sized botte, macerations on skins of 25-30 days and a non-interventionist winemaking approach. The two top Barolo Cru planted at Rinaldi are Brunate and Cannubi. Brunate is a 2.0 ha vineyard with south-eastern exposure with the vines planted between 1969 and 1990. Cannubi is a 2.4 ha Cannubi Boschis vineyard with a south-east exposure. The vines were planted between 1969 and 1990.
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Overall, as with previous tastings from this label, I thought that these were good solid, well made, tradtional Barolos, if lacking that special, elusive x-factor of the more famous Giuseppe Rinaldi wines.
  • 2014 Francesco Rinaldi e Figli Barolo Le Brunate - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Piera described 2014 as a difficult vintage for Rinaldi saved by better weather in September and October. From vines on clay and limestone Tortonian soil. Bottled in March 2018. A fresh and clean nose of clayey soil, largely red berries and cherries, spices, bramble and dried herbs. Thierry noted that he “likes the elegance and aromatics of 2014s like these”. In the mouth, quite open textured and approachable. Savoury, brambly, a little pinot-like, with dried herbs. A solid, workman-like Brunate that will age 15-25 years, if you wish.
  • 2014 Francesco Rinaldi e Figli Barolo Cannubi - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Piera noted that the Cannubi has a “more complex soil” of clay, limestone and sand. More aromatic than the Brunate. Chalky, limestone infused minerality, with black cherries and blackberries, liquorice and gentle dark florals. On palate, more dark fruited and finer and more focussed than the Brunate, a wine I preferred. Fine grained tannins and good acidity. I’d expect this Barolo to improve over the next 10+ years.
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The view out of the window ...
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#21 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 2:20 am

CAVALLOTTO VISIT WITH GIUSEPPE CAVALLOTTO - Tenuta Bricco Boschis, Castiglione Falletto

I am a big fan of the ultra-traditional Barolos and Barberas produced by Cavallotto. I think that, for some reason I cannot identify, they are underrated and under-appreciated, given the quality of wine they typically produce.
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Giuseppe Cavallotto told us that typically Barolos receive maceration for around 30 days. We pointed to Cavallotto’s rotofermenters but Giuseppe noted that they are only “to gently turn the grapes, we don’t break the skins”.
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Giuseppe said that Cavallotto’s average vine age is 40-45 years, with some 60-65+ years old. They employ green harvest up to July or August. Cavallotto produces about 100,000 bottles per annum, 70% Nebbiolo.
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Bricco Boschis
Giuseppe said that the 2012 San Giuseppes and Vignolos were to be bottled in July or August 2018.
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More Bricco Boschis
Giuseppe apologised that he couldn’t show us any San Giuseppes, due to where they were in the winemaking process. He mentioned that the 2011 San Guiseppe was “drinking well now”. He, also, said that, in his view, the 2001 San Guiseppe is presently drinking the best of all the vintages of their top Riservas.

I managed to acquire a bottle each of the 1997 and 2001 San Guiseppe ex-winery, the 2001 the last bottle they had for sale. I have found that Cavallottos of this era often have cork problems. However, I was pleased to find no problems with these two bottles when, upon returning home, I served them blind to friends at dinners. A friend served me, again blind, a 2009 San Guiseppe at one of these dinners, so I include the notes here.

Bottle tasting
  • 2017 Cavallotto Piemonte Pinot Nero Pinner - Italy, Piedmont, Piemonte DOC
    100% Pinot Noir, made in a white wine style. Light red coloured. On bouquet, strawberries, raspberries, blood orange and grapefruit. A refreshing wine for a hot day. A good picnic wine. Red berry and citrus fruit. Totally dry.
  • 2017 Cavallotto Dolcetto d'Alba Vigna Scot - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
    “From a hill in front of Bricco Boschis with a different soil, clay and limestone and no sand, unlike Bricco Boschis”, Giuseppe said. Bottled in June 2018, and described as “too young” by Giuseppe. He said that, for Cavallotto, “all our wines are important” noting that they green harvest Dolcetto. The Dolcetto had one year in neutral, large format oak. Dark colour. A nose of spices, blood and fur with smoky barbequed meats. I liked this wine. It was silky smooth, plush and opulent, but, as Giuseppe warned, a bit tight. Giuseppe described the wine as “elegant” saying “don’t open it in the first year – normally it will keep 2-3 years, but here more like 2 years only”.
  • 2016 Cavallotto Langhe Freisa - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Cavallotto has 0.5 ha of Freisa vines. “Ten days’ maceration here”, said Giuseppe. Dark colour. “Oh, it’s a beautiful nose” said Thierry. Funky and a bit wild with wild blackberries and raspberries, bramble, barbequed venison and earth. I really enjoyed this wine. Very dark fruited and a bit feral (in a good way). Wild berries and dark plums, some metallic minerality. “Drink it with meat” said Giuseppe but “wait 2-3 years”. Giuseppe typically drinks his Freisas within about five years of release.
  • 2016 Cavallotto Barbera d'Alba Bricco Boschis Vigna del Cuculo - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    The “Cuculo” in the name refers to the cuckoo, which are sometimes found in the vineyard, Guiseppe told us. Eighteen months in neutral, large format wood. A nose of dark spices, blackcurrant and liquorice. On palate, the first impression is of the raging acidity, but this balances the wine and makes up for the lack of tannins. Milk chocolate, plums, cassis and liquorice. I normally like this Barbera but I found this version, this young, a bit difficult to assess. Give it at least 1-2 years before opening.
  • 2016 Cavallotto Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Bottled in May 2018 and again described by Giuseppe as “too young”. A serious black fruited nose of cherries, plums, liquorice and graphite. On palate, I was surprised by the quality here, thinking it Barolo-level. (Giuseppe said, “I agree. We could have labelled this wine as Barolo”.) A good volume of concentrated, plush, dark berried fruit packed around an austere, iron mineral core. Nice minerality and grip on the finish. Svelte tannins. Well balanced with precise acidity. An excellent buy.
  • 2013 Cavallotto Barolo Bricco Boschis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A little darker in colour than the 2016. An attractive bouquet of black spices, espresso, liquorice and rose and violet florals. On palate, really serious volume and concentration. Large scaled and powerful. Good freshness and precision. Seamless, silky tannins. Quite elegant. A strong porcini character, also blackberries and other dark fruit, liquorice and minerals. A very good Barolo to cellar long term. “It’s open and easy now – after one year in bottle – but I think it will soon close down hard”, said Giuseppe. He didn’t say, once closed, how long he’d cellar it, but I’d imagine at least 5+ years.
  • 2011 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Giuseppe noted that there is more clay in the soil at this site. A “very intense” nose said Mark. Fresh and breezy, with notes of soil, dry underbrush, black fruit and dark rose perfumes. On palate, huge concentration and power on entry. Also serious dry extract and density on mid palate. Tactile but silky tannins. A lot of ripe – but not over-ripe – mainly dark berry fruit. The 14.5% alcohol is not over-prominent. A brilliant Riserva. Cellar 3-5+ more years.
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Upon return home ...
  • 1997 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Bottle bought ex-winery and served blind. Opened and decanted three hours before serving, which, ideally, should have been earlier. Softly coloured, browning slightly at the rim. A strong, powerful bouquet of primary, fresh berry fruit, but perfumed showing both rose and violet florals. Also secondary, earthy, dry brushwood, creosote and porcini aromas. “The truffle is pronounced”, said Maciej. The next evening the bouquet had moved more secondary: smoky, more tarry, tobacco with a touch of citrus. On palate, on the first night, the 1997 had massive tannins and was quite austere at its core. It made the robust two 2005 red Burgundies served before it look quite petite. A superb Barolo, drinking comparatively young, even on the second evening. Sour cherries, showing both fresh and dried fruit, earth and iron, with a citric edge. The satiny texture, good acidity and fine grained tannins. Good length. In its drinking window now but no hurry needed.
  • 2001 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Bottle bought ex-winery and served blind. Opened and decanted four hours before drinking but it probably could have used more air. A superb Barolo, a little better than the 1997 San Giuseppe, I thought. A lovely bouquet of tar, black cherry, blackberry, violets and roses. Restrained, contained and a little austere on palate. Piercing minerality and beautiful sour cherry. “Very straight and direct”, said Nick. Very linear, driven and focused. Persistent and very long. Drink or hold.
  • 2009 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Served blind to me. A bouquet of dark cherries, black plums, smokey game meat, graphite and slatey minerals. In the mouth, precise, clean and very linear. Largely black fruited with liquorice, cloves and minerals. Fine tannins. Decent acidity. Good length. Good but not great, I’d doubt that this vintage of San Giuseppe will reach the heights of vintages like the 2001, 2004 or 2010.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#22 Post by Howard Davis » September 25th, 2018, 2:40 am

RISTORANTE BOVIO WITH LUCA - La Morra, Cuneo

Ristorante Bovio is a Piemontese institution, with its excellent, very traditional menu and deep Italian wine list. I had two excellent duck dishes: Cannelloni with duck, spinach and black truffle as entrée and Duck breast with griotte cherries, honey and caramalised onions as a main. Luca joined us and brought along a bottle of Fennochio. An excellent evening of food, wine and conversation, enjoyed in a great setting.
  • 1989 Cavallotto Barolo Riserva Vignolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Rusty red colour. A complex, poignant bouquet of dry clay, tobacco, preserved and dried red fruit, old leather, burnt toffee and lemon zest. On palate, I saw this Barolo as evolved, not tertiary, and appropriately oxidised, not oxidative. The tannins are now perfectly melded with the fruit and there is sufficient primary fruit, for me, to match the acids. Fresh and dried red berry fruit and plums. Earth, tar and tobacco leaf. Complex and layered and beautiful with both my duck dishes. However, mine was the minority view having the Vignolo as wine of the dinner, with others suggesting it was perhaps too advanced.
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  • 2013 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Luca said that this wine saw about 40 days maceration on skins and, of course, only neutral, large format oak. Bright ruby. Dark berry, liquorice, mixed spice, citrus, earth and dry brushwood aromas. Dense, powerful and rich to drink. Clean with relatively fine tannins. Dried and fresh red and black fruit, dried herbs, earth and that citric edge. Quite tannic but enjoyable on the night with the duck dishes. Luca thought the 2013 would close up tight in about a year and would need long term cellaring. He thought it would be like their 1996s saying “2014, not 2013, is the vintage for mortals”.
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  • 2000 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From Magnum. Young-looking bright purplish colour. On bouquet, blackberries, dark cherries with a hint of blue fruit. Some spice and musk emerging with a touch of secondary autumn leaf and old leather saddle. On entry to the palate, sweet-seeming tannins. Lovely mouthfeel, quite silky. Well balanced with tannins and acids nicely aligned, however with a little grip on the quite long finish. Fresh and preserved raspberries, cherries and plums, spices, earth and a little tobacco. “At its peak now”, said Luca. Very good.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#23 Post by Kent Comley » September 25th, 2018, 2:34 pm

Just loving this report. Tasting notes are super descriptive and easy to get a sense of the wines. Love all the detail. And yes agree that 01 Cavallottos are really special.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#24 Post by R. Frankel » September 25th, 2018, 7:28 pm

Thank you for all the reviews and details. A fantastic visit and report on many of my favorites ... and many I have been meaning to try.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#25 Post by Jeff Bloom » September 25th, 2018, 8:00 pm

This is a great read - thanks for posting. Not only do I have a number of the wines, I was there last year and visited some of the same wineries and ate at some of the same restaurants. It's like I'm there again and loving every minute.

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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#26 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » September 25th, 2018, 8:01 pm

What a trip you guys had! Our thoughts on the Ovellos are pretty similar.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#27 Post by Mark Y » September 25th, 2018, 8:50 pm

Piedmont. Burgundy and condrieu...? Dayammmm we aren’t even outta piedmont and it’s already an epic trip...
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#28 Post by Sh@n A » September 29th, 2018, 8:35 pm

I recently had the 2006 Oddero Barolo Vigna Rionda and agreed it was good, but better was to be had (the Roagna alongside was a bit better). I felt the Oddero was a bit disjointed and a bit oaked.

Enoteca del Barbaresco will ship to the states. I haven't purchased anything, but they will send you a price list if you ask. To quote,
"it's very easy to ship in the USA: our shipping company (IWS) works very well.
n. bottles USA CANADA
1 € 50,00 € 60,00
3 € 60,00 € 100,00
6 € 88,00 € 125,00
12 € 148,00 € 225,00
18 € 235,00 € 360,00
24 € 280,00 € 455,00
30 € 365,00 € 530,00
36 € 430,00 € 640,00
42 € 515,00
48 € 560,00
DAZI inclusi non inclusi"
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#29 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 1:33 am

All, thanks ...

David, I hope to taste with you again some day ...

Next day we began at Fenocchio:

VISIT TO GIACOMO FENOCCHIO WITH CLAUDIO AND LUCA - Bussia, Monforte d’Alba

Luca kindly arranged a tasting for us with Claudio Fenocchio at Giacomo Fenocchio.
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Five generations of Fenocchios have made wine in Bussia since 1894. Giacomo Fenocchio, Claudio’s father, took over the estate in the 1960s and built it into what it is today. Claudio assumed control of the family winery between 1989 and 1990. Since Giacomo’s time, the house style has been ultra-traditionalist. Claudio said that, in his time in charge, he had "improved the quality” and “aimed to produce cleaner wines”. At our visit, he said “70-80% of wine is the soil”. He only employs large botte for his élevage and typically undertaking 40 or more day macerations on skins for his Barolos. The exception is his limited Bussia Riserva which sees fully 90 day’s maceration.
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View from Fenocchio
Claudio manages about 7 hectares of vineyards in Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Bussia. The Villero vineyard holding is from Claudio’s wife’s family. Total average annual production is about 3,000 cases.
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Claudio talked about his recent Barolo vintages:

-2017 “was a hot year where I tried to retain some freshness in the wines”, but he expects it to be “an accessible, early drinking vintage”.

-2016 “is like a smaller version of 2013”.

-2015 was a cooler year than 2011 or 2012, producing relatively approachable wines.

-2014 is much more accessible than 2013. Luca calls 2014 “the year of the spice”.

-2013 is a “great year” but “very slow developing”.

-2007 and 2009 Fenocchio Barolos, he noted, will be "ready to drink soon".

Claudio gave us a barrel tasting of current vintages in botte and tank, followed by a bottle tasting – mainly 2014 Barolos – upstairs on his deck, overlooking his Bussia vines.

Once home, after my trip, I opened an ex-auction 1982 Bussia and served it blind to friends at a wine dinner, so I add my note here.
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Claudio and Luca
Barrel tasting
  • 2017 Giacomo Fenocchio Barbera d'Alba Superiore - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba Superiore
    Tank sample. A bouquet of milk chocolate, blackcurrants and a little spice. Silky and smooth in the mouth. Blackberries, blackcurrant and chocolate. I quite liked this Barbera, finding it approachable and a little soft. “It’s a warm year so it’s low acidity”, said Claudio.
  • 2017 Giacomo Fenocchio Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Tank sample. A perfumed, ripe and clean bouquet of black cherries and other dark fruit and gentle dark florals. On palate, pure, clean, ripe – mainly black – fruit. Attractive and plush. Svelte and silky mouthfeel, tannins relatively fine. However, again, lesser acidity and definition. “I tried to retain freshness in a hot year”, said Claudio. Decent length.
  • 2017 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Barrel sample. From a 1 ha vineyard, south-west facing at 300 metres above sea level. A soil of clay, calcareous sediments and iron, vines up to 65 years old. Maceration of 40 days. Spices, bright dark fruit, rose perfumes and tar on the nose. Again, for a 2017, rich and ripe fruit on palate, although possessing greater volume and concentration than the Langhe Nebbiolo. Quite plush black berry, plum and cherry fruit, with a little rocky minerality. The tannins a little soft but some tannic grip on the finish.
  • 2016 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Cannubi - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Barrel sample. From a 0.5 ha vineyard, south-east facing at 280 metres above sea level. A Tortonian soil with marl and sand, vines around 30 years old. I preferred this Cannubi over the Villero. A very spicy bouquet with red cherries, redcurrants and rose perfume. Again, opulent, ripe fruit but, as Andrew said, “more phenolic punch here”. Still greater volume of fruit than with the Villero. Attractive “chalky tannins”, as Thierry observed, that led Claudio to note “a little limestone in the soil”.
  • 2015 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Castellero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Barrel sample from a 45 year old cask. From a 0.8 ha vineyard, west facing at 280 metres above sea level. A Tortonian soil with marl and sand, vines around 30 years old. Like the other 2015 Barolos, to be bottled at the end of 2018. A succulent, sweet-seeming bouquet of red cherries, raspberries and other largely red fruit. And “olives” noted Luca. On palate fleshy, rich and ripe red berries. Surprisingly approachable, straight from the barrel. Very good, I thought.
  • 2015 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Barrel sample. Another ripe seeming nose of darker fruit, minerals, earth and herbs. I much preferred this Villero to the – admittedly young – 2017 Villero. “Layered, elegant fruit, silky tannins”, as Thierry noted. However, serious structure and concentration with real grip on the finish.
  • 2015 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Barrel sample. Five hectares here at the home vineyard, south-west facing at 300 metres above sea level. A soil of clay, calcareous sediments and iron, vines averaging around 35 years old. On bouquet, dark, very plush, opulent fruit with liquorice, graphite and some faint florals. In the mouth, a large volume of succulent, juicy fruit. Palate staining. Very full. Sweet-seeming, but large scaled tannins. Still, it’s very approachable for a barrel sample.
  • 2015 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo 90 di Riserva Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Claudio has made this special Riserva since 2008. It receives a massive 90 days maceration on the skins. This Bussia will see five years in botte and will be released in 2021. Between 2,000 and 4,000 bottles of this Riserva are released each year. The lightest colour of the wines sampled so far. A dark fruited, intense nose of minerals and spices. So silky and seamless on palate that the structure and volume of the fruit is disguised. Iron fist in a velvet glove. Very long. The wine of the barrel tasting and potentially even better than the 2012 Bussia Riserva.
Bottle tasting
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  • 2016 Giacomo Fenocchio Langhe Freisa - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    A nose of wild raspberries and blackberries, bramble, dried herbs and hints of pepper. In the mouth, juicy, full and ripe, if a little soft around the edges. “To drink with duck”, Luca said. “It’s 2016 elegance”, said Thierry. “No”, said Claudio “it’s more classic than that”. It has punch but seems to evolve slowly across the palate. Nice savouriness and acidity, I liked it. “This Freisa can age" said Claudio.
  • 2014 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Castellero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    There was 30% less of this wine in 2014. On bouquet, tons of spice, putting me in mind of the spices on a traditional Christmas cake, with raspberries and red cherries and a hint of cranberries. “Minty, glazed ginger”, said Mark. Approachable, lesser weight Barolo with good acidity. Not my top Barolo of the bottle tasting.
  • 2014 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A step up, I thought. More black cherries than red, menthol and earth, with hints of orange peel and cinnamon, thyme and cumin spices. On palate, not a huge, dense Barolo but with very good drive, power and persistence. Dark fruited, savoury and earthy, with a little of that orange peel. A mineral, gravelly core. Fine grained tannins. Racy, refreshing acidity. Elegant and quite long, with a savoury, dry finish. Relatively approachable now but still a Barolo for 8-10+ year’s cellaring, I’d think.
  • 2014 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Better again. The bouquet suggests succulent, primary, juicy fruit. Blackberries, dark cherries and dark plums with minerals. The Bussia follows through on palate with plenty of ripe, rich dark berry fruit, and earth with minerals. Quite structured with grippy tannins. It seems to have greater volume than the Villero yet has 2014 refinement and elegance. It has persistent, precise acidity but needs a minimum of five more years to uncoil more fully. Very good.
  • 2014 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    As Claudio said, the Barolo Normale is basically a Bussia, mainly from younger vines (around 20 years of age). In 2014, production was down from the normal 9,000 bottles to around 6,000. Maceration of around 40 days on skins, then in large format, neutral oak for three years. “Good aromatics”, said Thierry. Bright red fruit, ginger, spices, earth and dried herbs on the nose. Accessible on palate. A good entry level Barolo. Lighter bodied with red fruit and a herbal edge. Some might find the Barolo a little too herbaceous but I thought it was in good balance.
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    From Bussia ...
  • 2012 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo 90 di Riserva Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A noticeably paler ruby colour (due to the longer maceration). A lovely, complex bouquet of citrus, spices, florals, red fruits, tobacco and earth. A beautiful, traditional Barolo to drink. Very detailed. Preserved and fresh red fruit. Rusty, spicy, earthy, savoury and citric. Something about those last two flavour elements took me back to last night’s excellent, traditionally made 1989 Vignolo. It needs some years cellar time, I’d guess 8-10+ more. One of the wines of the trip.
Once I was home I opened ...
  • 1982 Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Bussia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    An ex-auction bottle with good provenance from a NZ restaurant. A good cork but a murky colour, which worried me. But I need not have worried … A poignant, ethereal bouquet of dried red cherries and plums, raisins, redcurrants, clay and dry brushwood with faint red rose perfume. On palate, evolved and slipping from secondary to tertiary, the tannins falling away. Dried and preserved red fruit and tobacco with Campari. A little raisiny and oxidised. A lovely Barolo.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#30 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 1:44 am

VISIT TO MASSOLINO
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We last visited Massolino when renovations to the winery in 2015 were in full swing. They are now fully realised and this is one very modern, impressive, stylish-looking winery. Alessandro gave us a quick tour where he explained the traditional winemaking that takes place in this very clean and orderly, state of the art facility. Massolino only uses large format, neutral oak and, for Barolos, typically macerates on the skins for periods between 35 and 45 days. They do not use a rotofermenter.
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Alessandro also showed us an experiment Massolino are doing with 2017 Riesling and 2017 Nebbiolo in terracotta amphorae.
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Alessandro mentioned that two hail storms in 2014 meant that there was no 2014 Parussi.
  • 2016 Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    From 12-15 year old vines. “It’s a little 2016 Barolo”, said Alessandro. An attractive nose of spices and polished black fruit with some minerals. In the mouth, good freshness and purity. Lighter bodied and elegant. Sleek with smooth, refined tannins. Steely minerality. Good at this level.
  • 2014 Massolino Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Alessandro said that the base Barolo was made with grapes from five Serralunga vineyards – three warmer and two cooler sites – and, this year, from Parussi, where some grapes could be saved. “With this wine we try for a balanced expression – Massolino’s calling card”, noted Alessandro. A breezy, chalky, mineral black fruited bouquet. Linear, precise and driven. Light bodied and elegant. Dark fruit and minerals. Silky and somewhat Pinot-like, not at all grippy. Again, a good wine at this level.
  • 2014 Massolino Barolo Margheria - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    On bouquet, more bright, red fruit than the base Barolo, with notes of fresh raspberries, red cherries as well as cherries under spirit, minerals and red liquorice. Less concentration in the mouth than is suggested by the nose. However, there is plenty of power and persistence here. Seriously structured. Energetic. Fine grained, firm tannins. Alessandro’s advice was not to open either the Margheria or Parafada for 5-6 years. That seemed to me like an underestimate.
  • 2014 Massolino Barolo Parafada - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    For release in September 2018. Alessandro described the Parafada as “typical Serralunga, marl and full south exposure with 65-70 year old vines”. Much darker colour than the Margheria. More powerful aromas than with the Margheria. “A soil inflection” noted Thierry, with slatey minerals, black liquorice, cherries and dark plums. Drinking it, the Parafada was tighter and more backward than the Margheria. Linear. Structured with serious dry extract. Red and black fruit and minerals with iron at its core. It needs 8+ years, I would guess.
  • 2012 Massolino Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A Barolo with four years in (relatively neutral) oak, followed by two years in bottle. “2012 is an interesting, classical vintage”, Alessandro opined. The best wine at the tasting. A beautiful bouquet. Complex, a compote of red and black berries and cherries, cinnamon and other baking spices and rose petals. Closed on palate. Huge fruit volume, structure and power but very well balanced. A complex flavour profile but with slate and iron at its centre. It needs 8-10 more years in the cellar.
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    Franco Massolino in 2015
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#31 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 1:52 am

LUNCH WITH LORENZO AT OSTERIA VEGLIO - La Morra, Piemonte

Our friend, Lorenzo from Vietti, joined us for lunch.
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I have heard good things about Osteria Veglio, having not dined there before. I was not disappointed. The goat dish I had was excellent. Again the wine list was good and deep but was mainly recent vintages. We enjoyed:
  • 2013 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Popped and poured. Cherry red colour with amber highlights. A beautiful bouquet of bright red cherries, raspberries and red plums, a compote of red berries. Also, a touch dried herbs and nascent rose florals. On palate, slowing opening in the glass. Ripe and rich but elegant and very well balanced. Morello cherries and other red fruit with some herbs and some austere minerality. It paired beautifully with my goat dish. Sweet seeming tannins. Racy acidity and great precision. Mid weight at most and still tightly coiled. Very long. A brilliant wine. Delicious now but it'll need 5-10+ more years before it's at anything like its best, I would think.
    DSC03886A.JPG
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#32 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 2:01 am

VISIT TO GIACOMO CONTERNO WITH ROBERTO CONTERNO - Monforte d'Alba

Next we visited - what I consider to be - Italy's best winemaker and winery: Roberto Conterno at Giacomo Conterno. We were greeted by Roberto Conterno's assistant and translator Stephanie.
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Stephanie described the Conterno portfolio, giving us some numbers on Monfortino production:

- typically 7,000 to 10,000 bottles per annum.

- 2013: 28,000 bottles.

- 2014: 17,000 bottles.

Stephanie said "you can ask Roberto if he's doing 2015 Monfortino but he won't tell you". So I did but he wouldn't. However, later in the tasting, Roberto surprised me by saying that he thought it was "possible" for some of his Arione, to go into Monfortinos, even from as early as 2015.
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Arione
Roberto noted that his Barolos typically see maceration on skins for three or four weeks and of course he only uses large botti with neutral oak.
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We got a quick tour of his immaculately clean and orderly winery on our way to a barrel tasting of six wines currently in botte.
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  • 2017 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Cerretta - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    I was very impressed by this Barbera, more so than by the Francia. Roberto commented that "2015 to 2017 favour Barbera. It likes warm vintages". Vivid indigo red colour. An attractive, elegant bouquet of bright red fruit - red cherries, raspberries and red currants - chalk and gentle rose perfumes. "A very straight wine", said Roberto. Vertical, precise, focussed and direct with that chalky minerality very evident. (I thought back years earlier to seeing the white limestone soil of Cerretta from the Germano Ettore balcony above Prapò, and mentioned this to Roberto. He however corrected me and said that Conterno's plot is, in fact, on the edge between limestone and clay soil, and is actually more on clay). A lovely Barbera in the making. Roberto said that his Barberas are for drinking within 8-10 years of release. He said that "you can drink them afterwards but, after that, the fruit slowly disappears".
  • 2017 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Another lovely bouquet, but with gravelly minerals, rather than chalk. Also some dark fruit with the red fruit and hints of dark florals. Very different on palate than the Cerretta. Broader with wild berry and smoky game meat elements. More black fruited with blackberries, cherries and plums and even a suggestion of blue fruit. "More acidity?", I asked. "No", said Roberto, "not when you look at the numbers but you get that impression because the Francia does not have the apparent fruit sweetness of the Cerretta". "Very different", said Thierry, "a more classical Barbera". "Two valid expressions of Barbera", agreed Roberto. Again, a top quality Barbera.
  • 2015 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cerretta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Roberto noted for his 2015 Barolos, a similarity with his 2011 Barolos, in terms of their "structure and approachability". A very appealing Barolo, I could see the familial similarity with the 2017 Barbera. An expressive bouquet of dark cherry fruit, blackberries and other mainly dark fruit, dried herbs and wet limestone. A precise, focussed, mineral infused entry to the palate. It spreads out across the mid palate and finishes very long and dry. A core of lovely black and red berry fruit. Attractive, quite racy acidity. Silky but with some tannic grip and bite on the back palate.
  • 2015 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Arione - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    For me, even better than the Cerretta Barolo, with more elegance and finesse. To be bottled as a single vineyard bottling in June 2019. The vines planted in the mid 1960s to the 1990s, Roberto said. He also noted that he has halved the yield from Arione from Gigi Rosso's time. A beautiful bouquet of opulent, bright cherries, redcurrants and other, mainly red, fruit. Perfumed with rose and violet florals. On palate, a fuller bodied, more detailed expression than the Cerretta. Savoury nuances - straw, hay and spices - with red fruit and rocky minerality. I said to Roberto that it seemed intense, but not as acid driven as the Cerretta. Roberto said that this is "true, on the numbers". "The Arione is very elegant, the most approachable of the three ... I like how it expands in the mid palate", said Thierry. An exciting new Cru for Conterno. I can now see how the quality here means it could contribute to the Monfortino Riserva.
  • 2015 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Francia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From 1974 planted vines, said Roberto. Again, to be bottled in June 2019. Another classy Barolo Cru expression. Redolent on the nose with spices - I thought cinnamon, cumin and a pinch of black pepper - dark florals, red cherries and some kirsch. On palate, very rich and powerful. Mainly red fruit - cherries, currants and a touch of cranberries - with spices, earth, brushwood and slatey minerals. Satiny tannins. Well balanced and quite long.
  • 2014 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Roberto introduced the Monfortino by saying that "colder conditions are always in favour of the Barolo. We picked late between 25-27 October but by then had had two months of beautiful weather". Roberto pointed out his three Botti of his 2014 Riserva. A stunning bouquet, complex and layered, showing cassis, cherries, gentle spices, floral notes, earth, smokey meats and dry brushwood. Similarly multi-layered and detailed on palate with many levels of fruit, floral, spice and savoury nuances. Seamless and precise with lovely acidity. Not massive scale and structure but beautifully balanced and proportioned. Very long, I was still tasting the wine as I walked out of the winery. As good as any wine I tasted on the trip. A great wine in the making.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#33 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 2:17 am

VISIT TO VIETTI - Castiglione Falletto

At lunch Lorenzo had mentioned how good he thought Vietti's 2016 Barolos would be, describing 2016 as "a wonderful vintage - powerful and balanced". We however did not get to do any barrel tasting at Vietti … He also mentioned that he had recently drunk a 1996 Vietti Villero that needed more time.
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The winery
At the winery we got to taste through the full set of 2014 and 2015 Barolos in bottle. To me, Vietti is all class, clearly one of the best producers in all of Barolo, and these wines all ranged from good upwards in terms of quality. Even though the 2015 Cru were only bottled the week before our tasting, as a set, I rated them as superior to the very good 2014s.

Adverse weather prevented a 2014 Brunate being produced, with all the salvaged fruit, and some Ravera fruit, going into the Castiglione.

When I got home Nick opened a superb 2001 Villero, so I include the note here.
  • 2017 Vietti Roero Arneis - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero
    We were told that this 2017 was the product of a challenging, hot year. A nose of yellow spices, pear, citrus and hay. On palate, fresh with ripe orchard and some citric fruit. Also a dash of pineapple juice. However, lacking the precision and more straightforward than the very good 2016 version of this wine from Vietti. Also better, in all of our opinions, than the recent 2017 Bruno Giacosa Arneis.
  • 2015 Vietti Barbera d'Alba Scarrone - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Served beside the La Crena. The non-old vines version of this wine (vines around 30 years old). I preferred the Scarrone over the La Crena. A more lifted, attractive bouquet of blackberries and other dark fruit, chalky minerals and a whisper of dark florals. Brighter fruit on palate than the La Crena. More ethereal and elegant but with a slightly wild berry element and more prominent acidity.
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  • 2015 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza La Crena - Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza
    Served beside the Scarrone. From 80-85 year old vines. A deeper, more vibrant purplish red colour than the Scarrone. A more weighty, earth-bound black-fruited bouquet also showing more oak than the Scarrone. More substance and espresso, bramble and bracken elements. On palate as well the oak was more evident, but not to an off-putting degree, for me.
  • 2015 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    An ochre red colour. Nice red fruited aromatics. A relatively light bodied wine to drink soon with salumi e formaggi. Red currants and raspberries, earth and red liquorice. Straightforward and enjoyable.
  • 2014 Vietti Barbaresco Masseria - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    This Barbaresco has been made by Vietti since 1964 and receives the same oak treatment as is typical for the Barolos. A largely red fruited bouquet – cherries and currants – with dry clay, brush and dried herbs. Quite approachable on the day. Succulent and fruit forward. Dark red fruit. Spicy, savoury and earthy with some dried leaf. Seeming higher acidity and lesser bodied. As is often the case, I liked this Barbaresco very much. However, it may soon close and needs 5-10 years in the cellar.
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  • 2014 Vietti Barolo Castiglione - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Vietti made no Brunate in 2014, so the salvageable grapes from there, and some from Ravera, are in this wine. Attractive red fruited aromatics, raspberries, red cherries and even some strawberries, spices and rose florals. Only medium bodied. Very accessible, seemingly ready to go now (but I’d probably give it another 2+ years in bottle). Very elegant and refined. Sleek, fine tannins and good fresh acidity. At normal pricing it would be good value for money.
  • 2014 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A huge step up in quality here. The best of the 2014s. An aromatic but serious nose of cherries and other largely red fruit and rocky and steely minerals. Also very serious on palate. Real substance, structure and intensity. Presently, actually, a bit of a beast. Our host said: “It’s not like a 2014 Barolo, it’s like a normal Rocche”. Superb. Not far behind the 2015 Rocche in quality. The 2014 will need 8-10+ years in the cellar.
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  • 2014 Vietti Barolo Ravera - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    As always with the Vietti Ravera, this Cru is the most traditionally made, seeing the least non-neutral oak. Compared with the Rocche a ‘lighter’, more immediately aromatic nose red cherries, red currants and other red fruit, cinnamon and other spices and touches of rose petal. Although it lacks the stature and volume of the Rocche, this is another special Barolo. Fresh, red fruited and seamless, with sleek, spherical tannins on entry. It has some additional intensity and tannic grip across the mid palate and on the long finish.
  • 2014 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A more closed bouquet than the last two Cru. Iron, granite and some black fruit with minty notes and touches of violets. On palate, the most tight and unyielding of the 2014s. Serious ferric minerality and impenetrable dark fruit, with suggestions of menthol and mint. This wine definitely needs 10+ years in the cellar to begin to uncoil.
  • 2015 Vietti Barolo Brunate - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Like the other 2015 Cru only bottled last week but not showing any bottle shock. A nose of dark spices, new leather, wet dark soil, balsamico and black and red cherries. In the mouth, similar flavours, particularly earthy and spicy, with graphite minerality. Immediately on this first 2015, more fruit intensity and structure than for the 2014s. Very long.
  • 2015 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A beautiful Barolo. Wine of the tasting. A gorgeous bouquet. A red fruit compote – red cherries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries – with cinnamon and other baking spices and a top note of delicate rosebud perfumes. On the palate, a soft, sweet entry of red berries. Then spices and minerals. Rounded, plump but chalky tannins. Serious mid and back palate intensity and weight. Excellent length, finishing on those spices and minerals.
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  • 2015 Vietti Barolo Ravera - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Another beautiful nose. More red fruit but not quite as pungent as with the Rocche, more ethereal. Then touches of lemon juice, minerals, spices and rose florals. In the mouth, are red berries, cherries and plums with baked earth, spices and hints of mint. Refreshing, precise acidity. After the entry, serious architecture and power. A long dry finish. My second favourite wine of the tasting.
  • 2015 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A much more restrained, diffident bouquet, but one suggesting serious latent power. Notes of red cherries, plums, crushed rocks, earth and wet iron. On palate, huge structure and intensity. Palate staining. It gives the impression of kirsch or red-skinned plums under spirit around a core of earth and iron. Impressive, quite racy acidity. A wine to bury at the back of your cellar for 20 years.
  • 2001 Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    After I got back home from my trip, Nick served this wine non-blind after my excellent 2001 Cavallotto San Giussepe. The Vietti was even better than the Cavallotto and is one of my wines of the year. A lovely bouquet of tar, black spices, earth and lifted dark florals. On palate, serious depth and volume, intensity and power, even more than for the Cavallotto. Also, more detail and nuance of flavour. A full peacock’s tail of flavours. Multi-layered. Well balanced. Tannins and acids well integrated. The Villero had a four hour full decant and airing, which was about right. On the evidence of this bottle, it is at the start of a long drinking plateau.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#34 Post by Howard Davis » October 14th, 2018, 2:33 am

DINNER AT VINOTECA CENTRO STORICO IN SERRALUNGA D’ALBA
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Centro Storico in 2016
If you said to me that on my next trip to Piemonte I was only allowed to have one restaurant meal, I’d have that meal at Centro Storico. The food is good, honest, typical Piemontese fare, the wine list is long, the atmosphere is great but it is the proprietor, Alessio Cighetti, who makes the experience, for me, quintessential Piemonte. If he's not too busy on a night, Alessio is a great guy to talk about Barolo with.
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We asked Alessio to choose a couple of wines for us to drink that he rated but that we would not have heard of. He chose:
  • 2013 Grasso Tiziano Barolo Briccolina - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Alesso said that this wine is from “a great site among the Grand Crus of Serralunga”. The vines were planted in 1967 and 3,000 bottles of this wine were made. Popped and poured. I found an off-putting level of spicy oak on the bouquet (and then on the palate). Alessio explained that this was the first vintage for the wine so a brand new large format botte was used for the élevage. Beyond the oak were perfumes of cherries, cassis, Serralunga iron, cranberries and nascent dark florals. In the mouth, there were nice rounded tannins. Also, blackberries, dark plums, espresso and dark soil, around an iron core. I agreed with Alessio that the wine showed “real Serralunga power”. Initially the finish was very tannic but later on in the evening more fruit was beginning to show through. Hold for 8-10 years. Excellent potential here.
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  • 2011 Elio Sandri Barolo Riserva Perno - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Lifted, bright, luscious 2011-typical aromatics. Notes of blackberries, black spices, dark cherries, liquorice, dark florals and lots of menthol. I preferred this Barolo. At only seven years of age, it was quite approachable. Muscular with pure, ripe fruit showing that 2011 richness. Thierry said, “I really like this – it has sweet 2011 fruit but under control”. It was a surprise to be told that the alcohol was 15%, it hid it well. I would still be inclined to cellar this wine 3-4 more years.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#35 Post by John Morris » October 14th, 2018, 10:16 am

A great report, Howard, and great fun to read. Don't know how I missed your first postings a few weeks ago.
Howard Davis wrote:
September 23rd, 2018, 12:59 am
[*]1997 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
We served this wine blind. Ruby with orange tinge. Aromatic, showing a lot of evolution with notes of dried herb, tobacco, mushroom, warm earth and tar. As someone said, the overall effect was something like lamb stew. “Round and soft on mid palate”, as Thierry observed. Evolved but elegant. Resolved tannins and integrated fruit and acids. After the reveal there was a discussion about whether the Cogno was too advanced for a 1997. It probably was but I found this a lovely, mellow Barolo to drink now, with a tannin structure I preferred over the 1993 Fenocchio.
FYI, the Vigna Elena is unique in being planted entirely to nebbiolo rosé, which is genetically distinct from (though closely related to) nebbiolo and is generally shunned by other producers for being too light in color and having less tannin and acid. In Barbaresco, the Marchese di Gresy Martinenga is 20-30% rosé, and some other producers blend a little because it quite aromatic, but Cogno is the only winery to make a 100% nebbiolo rosé wine.

That might well be why it seemed quite advanced. Of course, after 21 years, it could be a less than perfect cork, too. And '97 was a warm year with less structure, generally.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#36 Post by Thierry Jutel » October 14th, 2018, 8:57 pm

John Morris wrote:
October 14th, 2018, 10:16 am
A great report, Howard, and great fun to read. Don't know how I missed your first postings a few weeks ago.
Howard Davis wrote:
September 23rd, 2018, 12:59 am
[*]1997 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
We served this wine blind. Ruby with orange tinge. Aromatic, showing a lot of evolution with notes of dried herb, tobacco, mushroom, warm earth and tar. As someone said, the overall effect was something like lamb stew. “Round and soft on mid palate”, as Thierry observed. Evolved but elegant. Resolved tannins and integrated fruit and acids. After the reveal there was a discussion about whether the Cogno was too advanced for a 1997. It probably was but I found this a lovely, mellow Barolo to drink now, with a tannin structure I preferred over the 1993 Fenocchio.
FYI, the Vigna Elena is unique in being planted entirely to nebbiolo rosé, which is genetically distinct from (though closely related to) nebbiolo and is generally shunned by other producers for being too light in color and having less tannin and acid. In Barbaresco, the Marchese di Gresy Martinenga is 20-30% rosé, and some other producers blend a little because it quite aromatic, but Cogno is the only winery to make a 100% nebbiolo rosé wine.

That might well be why it seemed quite advanced. Of course, after 21 years, it could be a less than perfect cork, too. And '97 was a warm year with less structure, generally.
When we visited Cogno later in the week, Walter told us 1997 was the first vintage of this wine. This makes this showing even more impressive considering how young the vines were at the time. Howard will correct me if I'm wrong; you might have noticed that the man takes a lot of notes...!
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#37 Post by Howard Davis » October 15th, 2018, 3:44 am

Thanks John. Thierry is right. Walter did say that 1997 was the first vintage of Vigna Elena. I understand that the nebbiolo rosé vines that are used for Vigna Elena were planted in 1991, so the vines would have been quite young when the 1997 was made ... I do not believe that the issue with this 1997 we tasted was the grape type. I have no problem with the fact that Cogno's top wine uses nebbiolo rosé. When I compare Cogno wines of the same vintage I almost always prefer the Vigna Elena over the Bricco Pernice or the straight Ravera ...

Notes of our Cogno visit are coming soon ...
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#38 Post by John Morris » October 15th, 2018, 9:19 am

Interesting that Cogno planted the nebbiolo rosé. I assumed it was there before.

In his treatise, Ian D'Amata extolls nebbiolo rosé for its aromatics, but he does say that it tends to produce less long-lived wines because it is lower in acid and tannin than nebbiolo.

Sadly, I was not offered the Elena when I visited two years ago. Don't know why I didn't think to ask for it!
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#39 Post by Mikko R » December 11th, 2018, 11:02 pm

Howard Davis wrote:
October 14th, 2018, 2:33 am
to come in a few days ...
This thread has been great and I have enjoyed reading it but I'm getting a bit worried that are we ever going to get to Burgundy or even Condrieu..
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#40 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 9:49 pm

Mikko, sorry for the delay ... the Christmas break at least gave me the time to finish Piemonte notes ...

2018 VISIT TO BROVIA WITH ALEX SANCHEZ - Castiglione Falletto

Azenda Agricola Brovia was founded in 1863. It remains in the hands of the same family.
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Alex Sanchez (2015)
Under winemaker and co-owner Alex Sanchez, Brovia adopts a traditional, non-interventionist winemaking approach. Alex said that in his work, “The main thing I do is I try to preserve the terroir of the wines”. Brovia is 100% organic and certified. Typical maceration periods for Barolos are four weeks and Sanchez mainly uses neutral, large Slovenian casks.
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Brovia winery
Typically Brovia produces 60,000 to 70,000 bottles of wine per annum. About half of this is from younger vines – Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Freisa and Arneis – and the rest from Brovia’s four Barolo sites.
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Brovia has three Barolo vineyards in Castiglione Falletto and one in Serralunga d’Alba:

- Rocche dei Brovia: The Brovia parcel (1.5 hectares) of this vineyard faces south-east and sits at 350 metres altitude. The soil here is largely sandy, often lending the Cru a certain elegance. The vines were planted in 1966.

- Villero: This 1.5 hectare vineyard faces south-west at an altitude of 340 metres. The vines were planted in 1961.

- Garblèt Sué (also referred to as the “Fiasco” vineyard) is 0.7 ha on south/south-east slopes at an altitude of 250 metres with soil that is predominantly limestone. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1979.

- Brea Vigna Ca'mia in Serralunga. This is a one hectare vineyard planted in Nebbiolo in 1955. The exposure is south-east and the altitude is 350 metres.

Alex talked about his recent vintages and harvests:

- 2010: “For our 2010 Barolos, wait five years from now”.

- 2011: “Now is the perfect time to drink our 2011s”.

- 2013: “Give my 2013s 3-5+ more years” but they are not “impossible wines” and they “will not remain closed for as long as 2010s. They will however go 10-15 years, easily”.

- 2014: Due to weather conditions being bad, particularly in Castiglione Falletto, in the year, only one, blended, unique Barolo was made, the Unio. Normally, in a vintage, Brovia will produce 40,000 bottles of Barolo, being approximately half the Normale and half the Cru. In 2014 they produced only 20,000 bottles of Unico and no Normale. The grapes came from a selected part of Brea and two of the Castiglione sites (Alex did not specify which).

- 2015: “2015-2017 were nice vintages, all on the warm side”.

- 2016: “2016 was a late harvest after a cool spring and warm summer. It seems like a classic vintage with nice structure and freshness”. Of the three vintages, for his Barolos, Alex rates 2016 as the best (“a little more classical”). He said that his “2016s will be somewhere between my 2012s and 2013s in style”.

- 2017: “2017 was warm and dry. The vines were well behaved”. Alex is impressed by his 2017s. They have turned out “fresher than I had expected”.
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  • 2017 Fratelli Brovia Roero Arneis - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero
    From bottle. A pale, watery colour. An attractive nose of cinnamon and other spices, pears, lemons and rocky minerals. Crisp with fresh acidity. Also, pleasing texture and oily viscosity. Good mid palate weight and volume. For me, a better Arneis than either the 2017 Giacosa or the 2017 Vietti I recently tried.
  • 2016 Fratelli Brovia Barbera d'Alba Sorì del Drago - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Vivid crimson colour. A nice nose suggesting milk chocolate, dark plums, liquorice, blackberries and charred game meats. On palate, serious weight and power. Dark fruit, cassis and high cacao chocolate. Decent acidity. The 14.5% alcohol relatively seamless. Good Barbera. "A classic, easy drinking Barbera", said Alex.
  • 2014 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Unio - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Alex said that “Unio” was Latin for “unite”. The sole Barolo made from fruit that could be salvaged from the Barolo sites in a difficult weather year. A breezy, lifted ethereal bouquet of spices, rose buds, red cherries and citrus. “Nice, complex aromatics”, said Alex. On palate, a lighter weight Barolo than is typical from Brovia. “Very different from our Normale and our typical Cru”, said Alex. “Very interesting. A nice quality vintage. Soft tannins and good freshness …”. I noted higher than normal, but not exaggerated, acidity. Alex continued, “… in pinot noir style. It will evolve well in the next 5-10 years, because of that good acidity”. Alex suggested it may have a 15 year life, but that the longevity “could surprise on the upside”. I liked the wine but, at least based on this pour, wondered whether it was of the very high standard of Brovia’s typical Cru.
  • 2015 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Brea Vigna Ca'mia - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From tank. Deep ruby colour. Very red fruited bouquet: red cherries, red currants, spices and a little red liquorice. Mouth filling. A palate staining, large volume of crunchy red berry fruit. “This is the most powerful of the Cru. You feel the power here. The 2015 is fresher and bigger than the 2011”. On the evidence of this small pour, this seemed a very promising Serralunga Barolo indeed.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#41 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 10:07 pm

A FRATELLI ALESSANDRIA AT LA TERAZZA DA RENZA - Castiglione Falletto
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View over Serralunga d'Alba
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Five courses for the table to share ...
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  • 2016 Fratelli Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo Prinsiot - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    La Terazza da Renza is a great spot, with sweeping views over Serralunga d’Alba vineyards, to enjoy lunch on a sunny day. The food is excellent: simple, honest, typical Piemontese fare. To accompany lunch we chose well with the Fratelli Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo from the decent wine list … Pale ruby colour. A fruity nose of strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and a little spice. Sweet seeming entry to the palate. Sweetish, gentle tannins but it is bone dry. Refreshing acidity. Delicate, below medium bodied. Flavour profile in the red fruit spectrum with strawberries and tart red cherries prominent. Good at this level. Drink over the next few years.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#42 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 10:25 pm

VISIT TO ELVIO COGNO WITH VALTER FISSORE - Ravera, Novello

Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno is one of my favourite Piemontese producers and I rate their top Barolo – the Vigna Elena – one of the best in all Piemonte.
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Cogno is moving towards being fully organic.

In total, Cogno has 15 ha under vine, 13 ha clustered around the winery in Ravera.

Cogno typically produces four distinct expressions of Ravera Barolo each year:

- Cascina Nuova: from 2.5 ha of young vines at 380 metres above sea level. It sees 24 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and six months in bottle.

- Ravera: from 4.88 ha of Lampia and Michet Nebbiolo sub-varieties at 380 metres. Vines planted in 1961 and 1970 on limestone, clay and sand. The Ravera has 24 months in 25-30 hl Slavonian oak barrels and six months in bottle.
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Bricco Pernice
- Bricco Pernice: from 2 ha of older Lampia vines at 320 metres. Two of the three land parcels that make up Bricco Pernice are planted with twenty five year old vines, while the third has an average age of fifty years. There is a limestone, calcareous soil, with less sand than in the other hill of the Ravera cru. It sees 30 months in 25-30 hl Slavonian oak barrels and 18 months in bottle.
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Ravera, Vigna Elena, towards Novello
- Vigna Elena: from 1 ha of Rosé clone vines at 380 metres. Vines an average of around 30 years of age. Limestone, clay and sandy soil. It receives 36 months in 40 hl Slavonian oak barrels and two years in bottle. The first year of this Cru was 1997. Only made in what Cogno considers to be a great vintage.

The Bricco Pernice vineyard is off on its own to the north of the winery (or the left of the winery entrance), while the other three vineyards are scattered to the south (or right), generally toward the village of Novello.

Cogno also produces a very interesting – and very good – Pre-Phylloxera Barbera d’Alba. The vines – at 520 metres above sea level – are over 100 years old. Unfortunately, we were not able to taste this wine on our visit.
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For the Barolos, Cogno uses both pumping over and submerged cap for post-fermentation macerations. For the Vigna Elena this is typically 30 days and can be up to 40 days.

There was no 2014 Cascina Nuova made.

After we had tasted through the current Cogno line-up in bottle there was a discussion in our group about the merits of the Vigna Elena vis-à-vis the Bricco Pernice as Barolos. To give us a fair comparison, Valter headed down to the cellar and returned with pitchers of those two wines from the 2014 vintage to compare with our 2014 Ravera. That put the issue beyond any dispute …

We began with a bottle tasting:
  • 2017 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Langhe Nascetta Anas-Cetta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    100% Nascetta di Novello from vineyards located on the top of the hill near the Novello village. A native grape of the area. The wine sees no oak, only stainless steel, but it has long lees contact, Valter noted. Golden coloured. Aromatic: baking spices, pears, apricots, honeysuckle, sage and rosemary. Refreshing, although, as Valter said, it is the product of a lower acid vintage. Viscous and tactile. Grapefruit and lemon. A little honeyed. I liked the bitter herbs element. A moderately long, saline finish. An interesting wine.
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  • 2017 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Dolcetto d'Alba Vigna del Mandorlo - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Dolcetto d'Alba
    Bright violet colour. On bouquet, lively blackberry, blackcurrant and blueberry nuances, suggesting fruit sweetness. A sweet, powerful entry. Sleek, suave tannins. Blackberry, dark cherry, liquorice, cassis and dried lavendar. A nice wine for early drinking, in the next year or three.
  • 2017 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Langhe Montegrilli - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    All stainless steel for this wine, no oak. Light ruby colour. Perfumes of strawberries, raspberries and spices with soil undertones. Again, a sweet-seeming entry to the palate, followed by lively acidity. Generally refined tannins but with some grip on the back palate. Pure red fruit – particularly sour cherry and raspberry – at its core. The wine could be seen as a little rustic but no more than is acceptable at this level, I thought. It calls for food. A nice little wine that reminded me, for some reason, of the Vajra equivalent.
  • 2016 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barbera d'Alba Bricco dei Merli - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Deep, opaque colour. On bouquet, kirsch, new leather, cherries under spirit and milk chocolate with a lick of vanillin oak. In the mouth, bright and vibrant fruit. Good acidity. Packed with ripe fruit. Blackberries and dark cherries but also with notes of mushroom and truffle. Juicy with hints of blood orange. Seamless, well integrated tannins. Another wine sample I enjoyed.
  • 2015 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barbaresco Bordini - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A Cru from Neive. Vines around 30 years of age on calcareous soil. Maceration 30 days here. Ruby with a little ochre colour. A contrast between the exuberance of the bouquet and the austerity of the palate. A complex, perfumed nose, leaping out of the glass. Red cherries, soil, clove, a little plum, black pepper, spices and dried flowers. In the mouth, quite strict and precise. Elegant, not large scaled. Good refreshing acidity. A good food wine.
  • 2014 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravera - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Now the tasting got more serious … After a little reduction on opening, a lovely nose of morello cherries, red currants, minerals and spices, with dried leaves and a touch of menthol (“a typical Ravera note”, said Valter). On palate, a very vertical wine. Precise, linear and mineral. Darker berried than the nose suggested. Intense fruit. Flavours well layered. Thierry worried about the compression and earthiness of the Ravera but I did not see a major issue. Underneath its silky exterior, it is not lacking in dry extract or power. It is approachable enough to drink now but you should give it at least 3+ years. Valter is confident it will cellar 10-20 years, easily. Returning to it again later in the tasting, with the other two 2014 Barolos beside it, Valter called his 2014 Ravera “my Chambolle-Musigny”, which seemed an apt analogy. Very good.
  • 2013 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Bricco Pernice - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A big step up from the 2014 Ravera. Complex aromatics of juicy red berries, red cherries, espresso, dark chocolate and tobacco, with a gentle top note of violets. A more classical Barolo after the more Pinot-like Ravera. Bright, ripe, juicy berry fruit. Serious mid palate fruit weight and power. The Bricco Pernice coats the palate. It was pretty closed with an austere, iron-like core. There are chewy tannins on the long finish. Very 2013. Excellent! It needs 7-10+ more years in the cellar, I’d think.
  • 2012 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Made from 100% 27 year old Nebbiolo Rosé clone (Valter noted that it ripens about 10 days later than his two other clones). “The clone difference is major”, said Valter, “as well as the vintage”. A much lighter colour than the Bricco Pernice. Also, a more pungent bouquet. Perfumes, spices, red liquorice, and red berries, with a touch of citrus. On palate, clean, fresh or very intense. Also, very elegant and but it expands across the palate, growing in power. Very long. Very good but I expect I will ultimately prefer the 2014 and 2013 Vigna Elenas.
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  • 2014 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Bricco Pernice - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From tank. Bright ruby colour. A real contrast with the 2013 Bricco Pernice. In very different style but of similar quality, in my opinion. A much lighter, more lifted nose of red and black cherries, minerals and rose perfumes. Noticeably less spice. Also more elegant on palate than the 2013. I thought of Chambolle-Musigny Pinot Noir. Complex with rich red fruit – particularly red cherries and red plums – minerals and soil. Much finer, more spherical tannins than the 2013. Because it is so seamless and sleek you might miss the structure and serious fruit volume here. Very good length. “A Bonnes Mares character”, stated Valter, which seemed appropriate.
  • 2014 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Barolo Riserva Vigna Elena - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    From tank. “This is the best wine in the cellar”, said Valter proudly. Pale ruby colour with orange tinges. Complex, subtle, ethereal, beautiful aromatics. Spicy and very floral. Also, detailed and layered on palate. Elegance, purity and power. Ultra-fine grained tannins. Silky smooth mouthfeel. Not lacking in depth, volume or power. Excellent length. “My Gevrey-Chambertin”, said Valter. My wine of the tasting and one of the best wines of the trip. Valter said that he was bottling his 2014 Elena at present. For release in 2020.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#43 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 10:31 pm

VISIT TO MARCHESI DI GRÉSY WITH JEFFREY CHILCOTT - Martinenga, Barbaresco

We returned to Barbaresco for a quick tasting before dinner with Jeffrey Chilcott at Marchesi di Grésy.

Jeffrey is a Kiwi who has lived for more than 30 years in Piemonte. He's also a great guy and an excellent host for a tasting or a dinner.

Marchesi di Grésy has a monopole vineyard - Martinenga - on the 'Grand Cru' hill in Barbaresco, at 280 metres above sea level. Vigna Camp Gros (the "s" is pronounced) is on the right of the winery (below Rabajà) and has a southwest exposure. Vigna Gaiun is on the left, below Asili, and is direct south. The Camp Gros is aged largely in Slavonian 12.5HL oak casks, while the Gauin is aged in French barriques (around one-third new).
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Marchesi di Grésy's winery in Martinenga
  • 2015 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Bottled in May 2018. New oak barrels 30%. Nice aromatics, perfumed. Lots of spicy red fruit. Sweet seeming tannins. Juicy fruit. “Fresher than the 2011s”, Thierry observed. “Just a Bambina”, said Jeffrey. A difficult wine to evaluate, this early.
  • 2014 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    An attractive 2014 Pinot-like bouquet of red cherries and other red fruit and florals. Vibrant, rich fruit on the palate. Medium bodied. “Putting on a bit of weight now”, said Jeffrey, “it’s self-confident”. Precise and focused. Crunchy cherry and raspberry fruit, with gravelly minerals. Presently, looking much better than the 2015.
  • 2013 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A ‘deeper’ seeming nose of dark fruit and menthol, with lifted floral and spicy aromas. A very attractive bouquet suggesting both dark rose and violet perfumes. On palate, the best of the three Martinengas. Succulent, ripe and opulent fruit. More volume and power than the other two Barbarescos. Nice fresh acidity. Nonetheless, a young, tightly coiled wine, needing another 3-5 years, I’d say.
  • 2013 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga Gaiun - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    A classy wine and a step up from the previous Martinengas. On bouquet, first melted road tar, then soil, spices, black cherry and menthol, finishing on a hint of orange zest. In the mouth, fresh and bright. Deep and concentrated, showing good, ripe fruit. Plenty of volume and power. It finishes on slightly bitter tannins, this Barolo will need a few years cellar time (5+ years?).
  • 2012 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Riserva Martinenga Camp Gros - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Since 2010, the Camp Gros has been made as Marchesi di Grésy’s only Riserva. Made traditionally in large, neutral botti. A vibrant ruby colour. An attractive bouquet of black cherries and dark plums, earth and wet brushwood. Also, on palate, earth tones with blackberries and dark cherries. Bright fruit with serious weight and power. Very good. Wine of the tasting. Ideally, it needs 3-4 more years.
  • 2009 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Served blind by Jeffrey. An interesting, developed, complex nose of Campari, liquorice, aniseed and dark fruit. Somewhat medicinal (as a positive descriptor). That evolved character carried through to the palate, expressed as dried leaf, tobacco and game meat nuances. Fleshy, generous fruit and seamless. Very good. “The Martinenga presently drinking the best”, noted Jeffrey.
  • 2005 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga Gaiun - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Elevated fresh dark cherry and blackcurrant notes on bouquet with a hint of volatile acidity. Also creosote and dark spices. Compared to the primary-seeming bouquet, more development evident on palate. Tarry, leathery and earthy with some porcini and fresh and dried black fruit. Refreshing acidity well aligned with the fruit. Some oak yet to fully integrate though.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#44 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 11:02 pm

DINNER AT OSTERIA TASTÈ, BARBARESCO
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Osteria taStè is a cool new place in Barbaresco with a great menu. Their pannacotta with sorbet dessert is superb and one of the best in all of Piemonte, I am reliably informed. The Osteria is an old school house that the owners have tastefully renovated as a chic, modern restaurant. We brought to dinner some wines including three older Barbarescos we had picked up around Piemonte …
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The view of Barbaresco
  • 2011 Rizzi Pas Dosé Metodo Classico - Italy
    A favourite local sparkling Chardonnay blend of Jeffrey’s. Zero dosage, I understand. Fresh lemon, vanilla and lemon custard with banana on the nose. Dry, minerally, citric and light to drink, with a flavour profile reminding me of a lemon meringue pie (not as sweet though, obviously). Frothy with vibrant acidity.
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    Starter
  • 2000 Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Sauvignon Blanc - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Served blind by Jeffrey. An unusual bouquet I could not place. Herbal infusion or camomile, I thought. “Glazed Christmas leg of lamb”, said Thierry. On palate, dried herbs with limes and oranges and also candied citrus fruit. It put me in mind of cold herbal tea and reminded Andrew of Asian sweet and sour cooking. Clearly an evolved wine, I guessed a vintage of 1998. We were all surprised by the grape variety and how this wine had developed. Marchesi di Grésy's oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in 1988. It paired well with my excellent Porcini Tajarin.
  • 1998 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Browning colour. A bouquet of orange peel and lemon, mushrooms, peaty earth, lots of old leather and dried redcurrants and plums. On palate, the fruit had slipped a little, over-exposing the acidity. This bottle beginning its downward slide from its drinking plateau, but nonetheless enjoyable as a mature, savoury Barbaresco. No longer showing the vivid red fruit of a typical younger Rabajà, here it was fig, old leather, black truffle, porcini, dried herbs, earth and dried red fruit. “More Barolo than Barbaresco”, said Jeffrey. Again, it showed at its best with my Tajarin. Drink soon.
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    Tajarin with Porcini
  • 1982 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We bought this bottle on the basis of its good colour. It proved pretty sound. The bouquet dominated by citrus, I thought grapefruit. Also, damp soil, porcini, cigar, sweet smoke and dried red fruit. On palate, an evolved, honest and humble wine. The flavour profile was mushroom, earth, balsamico, preserved red fruit and tobacco. It paired very well with my rabbit main course. I agreed with Thierry in preferring this Produttori over the Cortese and in his saying “this is not better than the 1974 Produttori Normale we had on our last trip”. I did however prefer this 1982 over the 1978 Produttori Normale we drank earlier on this trip. Excellent!
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    The Rabbit
  • 1968 Boffa Carlo Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    We were given this bottle by a friend and, to be honest, I did not hold out great hopes for it. But I was surprised by the pleasure that was still to be found in this modest, 50 year old bottling. Bronze colour with (surprisingly) no sediment. An endearing, fragile bouquet. “A fragrant red fruit character”, said Thierry. Or “strawberries in the forest”, as someone said. Also, lots of citrus (“blood orange” was Jeffrey’s descriptor). In the mouth, to be honest, the fruit had slipped quite a way, making the acids over-prominent. However, it was, I thought, an amazing wine. Fresh, the wine was still very much alive. Like the Produttori, it was a simple, honest and humble wine (I didn’t see the evidence of any overt ‘winemaking’ here). Very evolved. Earthy with tobacco, fallen autumn leaves, dried porcini and dried red fruit.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#45 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 11:16 pm

VERDUNO VENERDI: FRATELLI ALESSANDRIA WITH VITTORE

For our last day in Piemonte, we headed to the hilltop village of Verduno, on the edge of the Barolo zone. It was a village we were keen for a deep dive into, to get to know the wines better.
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The day also proved to be a bit of a lesson in local grape variety Pelaverga, as we got to try five examples of the local variety.

Jeffrey and Luca each took the day off work to join us on the visits.
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We began in Fratelli Alessandria with a tasting with Vittore Alessandria. Fratelli Alessandria is a historic winery in an 18th century house. The Fratelli Alessandria house was established in 1870 and has been in the Alessandria family ever since.
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They produce about 90,000 bottles each year and have around 13 ha of vineyards in Verduno and another 2 ha in Monforte d’Alba. Vittore said that the house “respects terroir – we look for elegance, grace and spiciness”.

Their barrels are mainly Slavonian and French large format (20-40 HL) casks. The botti are replaced after 20-25 years to give an average age at all times of around 10-12 years.
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Unfortunately, Vittore had sold out of his Monvigliero and Gramolere and we were not able to taste these Cru. Still, the visit cemented in my mind Fratelli Alessandria as a winery to continue to follow.
  • 2017 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga Speziale - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Verduno Pelaverga
    Made from the Pelaverga Piccolo grape. Some of the Pelaverga vines here are 35 years old but the average vine age is more like 14-18 years, said Vittore. Made only in stainless steel. A bright but pale strawberry colour. An attractive bouquet of spicy strawberries and raspberries, with some gentle florals. In the mouth, silky, soft and gentle but with persistent, refreshing acidity. It seems to drink lighter than it really is (if that makes sense!). The alcohol – at 14% - also surprised on the upside. Well balanced. The second best Pelaverga we had on the day (after the GB Burlotto version). A great wine for a summer’s picnic or barbeque. “Drink young, in 2-3 years”, advised Vittore. However, I thought – with this tannic and acid structure – that it might be possible to age this wine.
  • 2016 Fratelli Alessandria Langhe Nebbiolo Prinsiot - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    This is the same wine we had at lunch yesterday and my impressions were similar. It had 10 month’s élevage in big botti. A bright, light coloured red. Raspberries and red cherries, with a touch of strawberry and some spice on the bouquet. A light bodied red wine crammed full of red cherry and red berry flavours. Not tannic. A refreshing wine to accompany a lunch of salami and prosciutto. 10,000 bottles made.
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  • 2013 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    In the Normale, the grapes come from vines with an average age of 25 years. Twenty five days maceration here with three years in cask and two years in bottle. A lovely bouquet of rose perfumes, incense, raspberries and red cherries, spices and a little cranberry juice. On palate, surprisingly approachable. Elegant. Well proportioned and refined. Quite delicate. Mineral. A little Pinot-like. However, it did, with time, fill out in the glass, which I’d expect more of if it is given cellar time. Typically, the longevity of the Normale is expected at the winery to be 7-14 years. Vittore said, for him personally, with this Barolo that he “likes some fruit with my wines, and I like to drink this Barolo on release”. A very good entry level Barolo.
  • 2013 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo San Lorenzo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    An impressive Cru Barolo. Made since 1997, from an 0.8 ha south facing vineyard at 250 metres above sea level. Vines with an average age of about 30 years on a calcareous and limestone soil. Typically about 4,000 bottles made per vintage. Again, it had 25 days on skins. After the Normale, a more powerful bouquet of red currants, red cherries, cassis and kirsch, cumin and cardamom. “Vosne-Romanee spice”, said Andrew. Sweet, polished tannins. Drinking silkily and relatively accessibly but, compared with the Normale, having much more volume and stuffing. Pure, clean and precise with plenty of minerality. A much more complex, multi-layered wine than the Normale. Typically, at the winery, the longevity of the San Lorenzo is expected to be 15-25 years. I’d guess it needs 5-8+ years more cellar time before you’d want to think about opening a bottle. However, I would not put the San Lorenzo in the category of some of the ‘immortal’ 2013s that we have had on this trip, that will need materially longer in the cellar.
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    Vittore and Luca
  • 2014 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A breezy, Pinot-like bouquet of spicy red berries and cherries with orange peel, dried herbs and cinnamon. On palate, lighter, more ethereal and finer than the 2013 Normale. Lively acidity. Very 2014 Barolo. Silky, refined tannins. Very approachable now but I’m sure it’d improve with cellar time. I slightly preferred the 2013.
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#46 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 11:32 pm

PELAVERGAS AT TRATTORIA DAI BERCAU - Verduno
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We had time between tastings for a leisurely lunch. We had a delicious lunch at Trattoria dai Bercau where we were also able to sample a couple more of the local Pelavergas. I had an excellent antipasto followed by a decent tajarin with black truffle. We all finished with the Trattoria’s brilliant pannacotta. This was followed by a lively debate of where Bercau’s version fits into the pantheon of the best Piemontese panacottas (the consensus: pretty high up).
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  • 2017 Bel Colle Favorita - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    We started with a bianco. This wine is a local version of Vermentino. I doubted it had seen any oak. After some reduction on opening, there were aromas of pears, minerals and citrus fruit, with suggestions of tide pool. On palate, the light bodied wine showed lively acidity. Lemons, limes and grapefruit finishing on some minerality and salinity. A nice, basic thirst quencher.
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    Antipasto
  • 2017 Bel Colle Verduno Pelaverga - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Verduno Pelaverga
    Served slightly chilled as was appropriate for a warm day. Bright, relatively dark red. Raspberries and cranberries on the nose with a hint of citrus. On palate, obviously a step below the Alessandria. Seeming to me a little confected. One of our group summarised it well, I thought, saying “it’s cleaner and tighter but a bit more boring” than the Alessandria. Still, an adequate, inexpensive lunch wine.
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    Truffle Tajarin
  • 2017 Andrea Burlotto & Figli Langhe Pelaverga Cascina Massara - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Labelled as Cascina Massara – Giancarlo Burlotto. I preferred the Burlotto over the Bel Colle. It seemed a very traditionally made – not messed around with - Pelaverga. It was also closer in quality to the Alessandria, I thought. Also served chilled. Darker, richer fruit on the bouquet: blackcurrants and plums, with spices and herbs. On entry to the palate, racy acidity. Good minerality. Smooth, silky tannins. A lighter bodied wine. The 14.5% alcohol on the label came as a real surprise (I would have guessed much lower).
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#47 Post by Howard Davis » January 8th, 2019, 11:44 pm

VISIT TO CASTELLO DI VERDUNO - Verduno
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Next we walked to the historic castle at the top of Verduno. The Castello di Verduno, owned by Gabriella Burlotto and Franco Bianco, is a beautiful old building (we got a tour of the genteel, slightly faded hotel next door).
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The Castello di Verduno wine operates through two cellars, one under the castle and the other near Rabajà, in Barbaresco. Wines are produced in Barbaresco and bottled and stored in Verduno. The vineyards owned by Castello di Verduno are the Barbaresco Crus of Faset and Rabajà and the Barolo Crus of Monvigliero and Massara.

All wines are vinified traditionally.
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In the historic cellar ...
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We toured the historic wine cellar below the castle (the oldest bottle is from 1913) before a bottle tasting …
  • 2016 Castello di Verduno Verduno Pelaverga Basadone - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Verduno Pelaverga
    Pelaverga Piccolo grape. Bright ruby. Perfumed with notes of raspberry, red cherry and red plum. Elegant and light, showing Pelaverga typicity. Polished red and black cherry. Good precise acidity. Easy, fresh and ripe with a little balsamic and coffee complexity. I rated it just a little below the Fratelli Alessandria Pelaverga.
  • 2013 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Grapes from Faset, Rabajà-bas and Rabajà. Élevage was one year in large botti and one year in bottle. An attractive bouquet of cardamom, peppercorn, dry bush, red berries and florals. Clean and refined. Intense. Not lacking in power and back palate grip. Good.
  • 2015 Castello di Verduno Barbaresco Rabajà-bas - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    The 2015 is the house’s first release of a Rabajà-bas. Again, one year in large botti and one year in bottle. A step up on the 2013 Normale. An ethereal, intense, fine nose. Dark fruited, showing balsamico and smoky barbequed meats. On palate, very fruit forward. Dark cherries and blackberries. However, it pulls up a little short. One of our group noted that “the fruit is bigger than the tannin structure”. Perhaps it'll improve with more time in the cellar. Still, presently decent Cru.
  • 2014 Castello di Verduno Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Grapes from all of Castello di Verduno’s Barolo sites. Two years in large botti and one year in bottle. A perfumed, aromatic nose with dark berries, minerals and chalk. In the mouth, silky with fine grained tannins. Black fruited and mineral. Better length than the Rabajà-bas. A good, regular bottling.
  • 2012 Castello di Verduno Barolo Riserva Monvigliero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    A big step up to the star of the tasting. To be released in early 2019. Maceration for 30-40 days, three years in botti and three years in bottle. A complex, detailed bouquet of blackberries, balsamico, dark spices, earth, espresso and wet granite. On palate, sleek and sexy. Fine and finessed. Dark fruited and powerful. Serious structure lurking beneath the surface. Spherical tannins. It expands on the back palate. Major grip on the long finish.
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  • NV Castello di Verduno Grappa - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Verduno Pelaverga
    A palate cleansing, powerful Grappa made from Pelaverga grapes. Alcohol 42%.
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Howard Davis
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#48 Post by Howard Davis » January 9th, 2019, 12:02 am

VISIT TO GB BURLOTTO WITH FABIO - Verduno
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It is appropriate that our last winery visit in Piemonte on this trip was to GB Burlotto. GB Burlotto is a favourite producer, and was a “must visit”, for all in our group.
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We began our visit with a quick tour of the historic, old winery. First, winemaker Fabio Alessandria showed us his open top fermenters. We got onto the topic of weather and recent vintages. He said, Verduno being a higher, more marginal Barolo area, “recent global warming has been great for GB Burlotto”. He noted the “wet spring this year [2018]”, where he had to spray for mildew.
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Open top fermenters
Fabio said that his Monvigliero and Dolcetto grapes are the only ones where he does 100% whole bunch. Other grapes are 100% destemmed. Typical times for macerations in the winery are usually between 14 and 22 days. The exception is the Monvigliero, where maceration is “much longer”, up to two months.
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Luca and Fabio
Fabio pumps over and punches down for all of his wines except for the Monvigliero where the handling is “very gentle”, being submerged cap only, after the famous foot-treading.

Fabio next showed us his cellar from the 1700s and talked about his famous great-great-grandfather GB Burlotto (1850-1927). Fabio continues to use traditional, large format casks.
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The estate is also effectively organic but is not certified. Fabio is a non-interventionist, trying to make his wines as naturally as possible.

Fabio talked about some of his recent Barolo vintages:

- 2013 and 2014: “Both vintages are in the same family. They are both cooler vintages. They have similar alcohol levels. However, 2013 is more complete”, said Fabio. In 2014, there was no Barolo Acclivi.

- “2015 is a very different vintage to 2013 or 2014, bigger and riper”.

- 2016 and 2017: there will be Acclivi in both vintages. In the cellar, Fabio pointed at two of his botti and said that the 2017 Monvigliero was a low yield and that those botti are the full 2017 vintage.

We tasted in bottle:
  • 2017 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Langhe Sauvignon Blanc Viridis - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    The sauvignon blanc is made in stainless steel only. Fabio mentioned that GB Burlotto’s sauvignon blanc vines were planted in 1986 (Jeff noted that Marchesi’s were planted in 1988). A generous nose of gooseberry, passionfruit and pineapple but also herbs, wet river boulder and a little cut hay. On palate, fresh, bright passionfruit. “This wine can age” said Fabio because it is “alive and sapido [having a strong, pleasant taste], due to the chalky soil”. Showing more acidity and rocky minerality, and less herbaceousness, than a classic Marlborough NZ sauvignon blanc. Fabio agreed with this comment, pointing to the dryness of his sauvignon. A sauvignon I liked very much.
  • 2017 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Verduno Pelaverga
    Recently bottled. 20,000 bottles. Vivid ruby colour. A fresh, breezy nose. Perfumed with notes of blackcurrant, wild blackberry and even some blueberry, with florals. “Carnations”, said Thierry. On palate, pure and clean, with that intense wild berry element. Persistent acidity. “Wild strawberries and herbs”, said Fabio. Head and shoulders the best Pelaverga tasted today.
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  • 2016 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barbera d'Alba Aves - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
    Deep, dark colour. A serious bouquet of blackcurrants, black liquorice, dark plum, crème de cassis, chalky minerals and a little musk. On palate, very rich and ripe, yet quite precise. Good fruit volume on the mid and back palate. “Super generous”, said Luca. Fruit well balanced by acidity. Lovely, satiny mouthfeel.
  • 2016 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Langhe Freisa - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Ten days on skins for the 2016. Vivid maroon colour. An exuberant, slightly feral bouquet of wild berries, fresh and dried herbs, bloody, smoky barbequed venison, dark chocolate and black fruit. Very intense and powerful in the mouth. Seamless, not all rustic, I thought. In proportion and balance. Fresh acidity. An excellent Freisa. “This Freisa will age”, said Fabio. Referring to the common genealogy with Nebbiolo, Fabio stated: “Freisa is the country cousin, Nebbiolo is the city cousin”, which I thought was a little tough given the quality of his Freisa! Jeff and Fabio then proceeded to try to list all the Piemontese Freisa producers (concluding there were something like 9-11 such producers).
  • 2014 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Just Verduno fruit. Intense ruby colour. Classic 2014 Barolo aromatics with red and black cherries, lifted floral notes and touches of orange peel and spice. A Pinot-like flavour profile but with a different fruit weight and tannin structure. Suave, smooth tannins. Focussed, driven acidity. Mainly dark cherry and black plums on palate with flecks of chalky minerality. “A great expression of Verduno”, said Luca. Normally some surplus Monvigliero fruit goes into the Acclivi. In 2014 no Acclivi was made, so that fruit is here. Very good, at this level.
  • 2014 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Vines averaging 45 years of age. Fabio noted that the Monvigliero soil (“white soil”) was similar to the Brunate and Cerequio soils in La Morra. This is different to Cannubi, where there is more sand. A beautiful bouquet: berry compote, rosehip and violet perfumes, dried herbs, earth and slightly charred, smoky venison. On the palate, pure and beautifully balanced. Virtually the complete package in terms of fruit, acids, structure and tannins. “Lightness and power, a great first entry”, said Thierry while Andrew described it as “Monfortino level” (however, I’d put it slightly behind the 2014 Monfortino we tasted). Very 2014, a lighter expression. Yet surgically precise, polished and powerful. Very long. To me, not far behind the brilliant 2013 Monvigliero in quality. One of the best wines tasted on the trip. Accessible at the time of tasting but ideally hold for 5-8+ years.
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  • 2014 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Cannubi - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    As earlier, Fabio noted the higher proportion of sand in the soil here, as compared with the “white soil” of Monvigliero. From a 0.7 ha vineyard. Less aromatically thrilling than the Monvigliero, more closed. Black fruit, dark florals, earth and black spices. On palate, more separate component parts yet to come together. Quite fresh but a little clunky. Someone described the Cannubi as a “light expression of heavy Barolo fruit”, which seemed to capture it. Presently hard to assess at the time of tasting. It needs time. Hold for 8-10+ years.
An excellent tasting with Fabio and a great day in Verduno!
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... and that's the Piemonte part of the trip done ...
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#49 Post by Tom Taylor » January 9th, 2019, 3:01 am

Great notes Howard! Regarding Brovia, I thought Alex’s wife was the winemaker?
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Re: 2018 Visit to Piemonte, Burgundy and Condrieu

#50 Post by Scott Brunson » January 9th, 2019, 3:21 am

Thanks Howard.
Great read and great pics.
Tous les chemins mènent à la Bourgogne!
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