TN: Blind tasting, mainly wines with some age

Yet another one of our blind tastings. Lots of fun, fine wines with some age. It was actually great to taste a Palmes d’Or and a Romano dal Forno Valpolicella with some age on them, as they’ve never been really up my alley. However, I found these older iterations of them quite enjoyable!

  • NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Rosé Extra Brut Première Cuvée - France, Champagne (6.5.2022)
    Mainly a blend of Pinot Noir blanc de noirs and Pinot Noir red wine with a little bit of Chardonnay to add freshness. A small amount of reserve wines (a blend of over 25 vintages going back to 1985) is added to the blend. Aged for three years sur lattes and for another five months after disgorgement. This bottle was disgorged in autumn 2021. 12% alcohol, dosage less than 6 g/l.

    Pale pinkish rose color. Ripe, youthful and quite fruit-forward nose with sweet-toned aromas of ripe pear, some raspberry, light fresh apple tones, a little bit of leesy autolysis, light lactic notes of strawberry yogurt, a nutty hint of almond, a touch of apple jam and a distinctive whiff of bitter almond oil. The wine is dry, balanced and very youthful on the palate with a medium body and crisp flavors of brambly raspberries and mealy apples, some lemony citrus fruit notes, a little bit of mineral water, light leesy notes of creaminess, a hint of chalky bitterness and a candied touch of primary fruit. The overall feel is somewhat simple and generic, thanks to the very youthful and even somewhat primary flavors. The mousse feels gentle and creamy and the acidity comes across as moderately high and zippy. The finish is juicy, dry and quite crisp with medium-long flavors of candied primary fruit notes, leesy yeasty tones, some fresh red apple, a little bit of ripe lemony citrus fruit, light crunchy notes of redcurrants, a hint of juicy white fruit and a touch of saline minerality.

    A balanced and reliable but also somewhat generic rosé Champagne with a noticeably youthful, almost candied streak of primary fruit, which makes the wine feel more like your run-of-the-mill rosé sparkling wine than a serious Champagne. I wasn't particularly impressed by this wine - even if the wine is bottle-aged with the lees for more than three years and it includes reserve wines going back to 1985, it lacks the complexity and depth associated with such qualities. While not a bad wine, I find it hard to get excited about this particular rosé Champ.
    (87 points)

  • NV Guy Charlemagne Champagne Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Bilderberg Group - France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru (6.5.2022)
    An old NV Champagne estimated to be from the late 1970's or early 1980's. The neck label says "Bilderberg Group", the front label has a logo that says "bbg".

    Pale, very slightly hazy amber color. Noticeably evolved and heavily toasty nose with aromas of developed nuttiness, some old dusty character, a little bit of browned butter, light tertiary notes of mushroomy funk and a hint of decomposing wood. The wine is very evolved and tertiary on the palate with flavors of roasted walnuts and bruised apple, some caramel, a little bit of lemony citrus fruit, light mushroomy nuances, a hint of something metallic and a touch of aged dusty character. The wine is noticeably high in acidity and it still retains a silky smooth yet still surprisingly lively mousse. The finish is long and very developed with tertiary flavors of roasted nuts, bruised apple, some bready autolytic tones, a little bit of old dusty character, light lemony nuances, a hint of something metallic and a touch of caramel.

    An otherwise wonderfully aged Blanc de Blancs with beautifully complex, toasty character, but the subtle off notes of mushroomy funk in the nose and vaguely metallic flavors in the taste take a small toll on the final score. Although not an exceptional old Champagne, this wine kept wonderfully well for being a (supposedly) entry-level NV Blanc de Blancs with no remarkable pedigree. Although the wine has introduced some nutty oxidative nuances to complement its autolytic toasty notes, the wine is yet to turn oxidized - which is quite obvious in how the wine retains a fine, small and soft yet surprisingly persistent mousse, even after all these years. Good stuff, although ultimately nothing truly mesmerizing.
    (89 points)

  • 1988 Baron Albert Champagne Millésimé Brut - France, Champagne (6.5.2022)
    12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Pale amber color. Somewhat restrained but also wonderfully complex nose with evolved aromas of caramel, some creamy custard tones, a little bit of steely minerality, light sharp notes of Granny Smith apple, an oxidative hint of roasted nuts, a touch of bruised apple and a whiff of smoke. The wine is very developed and quite tertiary yet remarkably lively and fresh on the palate with a medium body and complex flavors of steely minerality, toasty notes of brioche and chopped nuts, some leesy tones, a little bit of bruised apple, light mushroomy nuances, a tart hint of lemony citrus fruit and a sweeter touch of ripe white fruit - probably dosage speaking there. The overall feel is refreshing and mouth-cleansing with its high acidity and still surprisingly ample and persistent mousse. The lengthy finish is lively, evolved and acid-driven with bright flavors of steely minerality, some oxidative tones of chopped nuts and toast, a little bit of bruised apple, light mushroomy nuances, a hint of smoke and a sharp touch of lemony citrus fruits.

    A beautiful, wonderfully evolved and still remarkably fresh Vintage Champagne that has retained its brisk mousse surprisingly well along with its still youthful nuances of crunchy apples and citrus fruits. The overall feel is pretty much at its peak at the moment - and probably has been there for some while - with its combination of tertiary complexity, still quite fresh fruit tones and persistent, zippy mousse. These older no-name Champagnes manage to surprise me quite constantly with their remarkable cellaring potential and wonderful, evolved complexity. A really positive surprise.
    (94 points)

  • 1983 Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Premier Cru Brut Cuvée Palmes d'Or - France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru (6.5.2022)
    Labeled as "Brut Premier Cru". Typically a blend of Chardonnay (50%) and Pinot Noir (50%). 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Palish-to-medium-deep coppery color. Sweet, aged nose with complex tertiary aromas of butterscotch, some browned butter, a little bit of bruised apple, light toasty notes of custard and apple pie and a hint of peanut butter. The wine feels dry, very evolved and complex on the palate with a medium body and layered flavors of ripe lemony citrus fruits, some oxidative notes of chopped nuts and bruised apple, a little bit of toffee and browned butter, light saline tones, a hint of earth and a touch of toasted bread. The racy acidity lends great zip and intensity to the wine and the mousse feels very fine, soft and mellow, but it's still very much there. The finish is dry, long and complex with evolved yet brisk flavors of toasty autolysis, lemony citrus notes, some bruised apple, a little bit of tangy salinity, light oxidative nuances of chopped nuts, a hint of toffee and a touch of apple peel bitterness.

    A wonderfully evolved, nuanced and complex Prestige Cuvée at the end of its life. I've never been particularly impressed by Palmes d'Or, but I guess the wine just needs +25 years to come together and actually show something interesting. I guess this wine might've been even better some years ago, as it feels very evolved, showing very little if any youthful qualities and also the mousse feels like it is starting to fade away. However, I doubt the wine will fall apart anytime soon - on the contrary, I suspect the wine will easily keep for a handful of years more. It just isn't going to benefit from any further aging, so it's definitely high time to drink up. Priced more or less according to its quality at 75€ - especially when a young vintage of Palmes d'Or is so boring yet at the same time more expensive!
    (93 points)

  • 2020 Tongue River Winery Frontenac Blanc Cold Front - USA, Montana (6.5.2022)
    100% Frontenac Blanc from Montana. Bottled in October 2021. "11-14% alcohol", according to the label. Tasted blind.

    Pale golden yellow color. Very rich, tropical and sweetly-fruited nose with distinctive aromas of exotic fruits, honey, some grapey tones, a little bit of apple jellies, light pear juice tones, a hint of canned peach and a touch of something odd, cassis-like. The wine is dry to slightly off-dry, subtly oily and still very crisp and racy on the palate with flavors of apple peel bitterness, some ripe pear tones, a little bit of sweet apricot, light grapey tones, a sappy hint of almost unripe white fruit and a touch of white currant. The bracing acidity feels very pronounced, incisive and almost raw - in a stark contrast to the tropical fruit character. The finish is crisp, racy and borderline unripe with a quite long and rather linear aftertaste of pear, some tart green apple, a little bit of ripe grapey fruit, light bitter notes of apple peel, a hint of apricot and a touch of apple jellies.

    At first the wine had me - and all the other attendees in the tasting - very confused; it was so unlike any other wine anybody could think of. At first I thought of a cool-vintage Viognier based on the tropical apricot notes and slightly viscous, subtly oily mouthfeel. However, I decided against it, as no Viognier I know could have such incisive, aggressive and raw acidity, no matter how early the grapes were picked. Then suddenly something clicked in my head and I recognized what that odd, subtly cassis-like note in the nose was! It was a slightest hint of sweet-yet vegetal foxy character, meaning that this wasn't a Vitis vinifera at all, this was a hybrid! Suddenly it all made sense - the odd, somewhat candied and rather grapey fruit flavors, the raw and incisive acidity and the general sense of unfamiliarity. Thus my first guess was an American Frontenac Blanc (as the wine didn't remind me of Niagara, Vidal Blanc of Delaware - and that's about as far as my knowledge on white hybrids extends) and I couldn't really give any sensible guess on how old the wine was or which state it came from as my knowledge in hybrid wines is so limited. Well, at least I was spot on with my American Frontenac Blanc guess. All in all, this was an interesting wine to taste, but I must admit it really didn't win me over nor do I think it's really worth the price at $16.
    (82 points)

  • 2010 Albert Gessinger Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Trocken Alte Reben - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (6.5.2022)
    13,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Luminous and quite intense lemon-yellow color. The nose feels sweet with rich aromas of lemon marmalade, some peachy stone fruit, a little bit of honey, light floral notes of fragrant orchard flowers and a hint of pineapple. Contrasting the sweet nose, the wine is very dry, concentrated and even somewhat extracted on the palate with a medium body and slightly oily mouthfeel. The taste is quite intense with a rather noticeable, extracted streak of phenolic bitterness followed by flavors of wildhoney, some lemon marmalade, light floral notes, a little bit of pineapple and a hint of spicy red apple. The rather high acidity lends good sense of structure and intensity to the wine. The finish is dry, concentrated and quite bitter with a long and acid-driven aftertaste of lemony citrus fruits, some apple peel bitterness, a little bit of honey, light stony mineral nuances and a hint of fresh pineapple.

    Right from the first sniff I was sure this was a Riesling and the taste confirmed it - although I was surprised how dry, extracted and bitter the wine was after the sweetly-fruited, fragrant nose. The wine felt rather ripe and even slightly oily, which is why my guesses ranged from Alsace to Wachau Smaragd - for some reason I never thought of Gessinger even though I've grown to associate that pronounced bitterness with the Gessinger style of wines. Maybe I just didn't think of Mosel as the wine seemed so ripe and concentrated, which is something I really don't associate with the region. It all made sense, though, when it was revealed that this wine was Auslese Trocken - a style rather rarely seen as the wines can get too ripe to handle the ripeness and alcohol. Well, not in the cool 2010 acid vintage! All in all, a good wine that is in a nice spot right now - although the wine will continue to evolve and improve for a good number of years more. Drink or keep - just be wary of the bitterness, which might need some extra thinking when pairing the wine with food!
    (90 points)

  • 2019 Azores Wine Company Terrantez do Pico - Portugal, Açores, Vinho Regional Açores (6.5.2022)
    The rare Terrantez do Pico grapes (unrelated to Madeira's Terrantez) were sourced from the island of São Miguel and transported to Pico. 70% of the wine is vinified from first press must, fermented and aged in stainless steel; 30% of the wine is from second press must, fermented and aged in 3rd use oak barrels. Annual production 2000 bottles. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Deep and somewhat evolved burnished golden color. Youthful, fruity and subtly tropical nose with slightly sweetly-fruited aromas of mango, some apricot, light primary notes of pear drops and pear jellies, a little bit of grapey fruit and a hint of pineapple. The wine is lively, tropical and youthful on the palate with a medium body and a slightly viscous mouthfeel. The overall taste if moderately ripe and quite primary with flavors of ripe peach, some salty mineral notes, a little bit of grapey fruit, light exotic notes of mango and pineapple and a hint of salty minerality. The moderately high acidity lends good sense of firmness and balance to the wine. The finish is lively, moderately long and quite acid-driven with flavors of ripe peach, some tropical notes of mango and pineapple, a little bit of salty minerality, light primary notes of pear drops and a hint of grapefruit juice.

    A nice, balanced and quite promising Açores white that feels a bit too youthful and primary at the moment - the candied notes of pear drops lend a somewhat anonymous and inexpensive feel to this otherwise wonderfully fresh and mineral wine. Judging by its appearance, I first thought the wine was much older as its relatively dark golden color suggested some age - however, the primary fruit flavors indicated the opposite and I guessed that the wine must be younger than it looks like. It didn't take us that long to guess the wine was Portuguese - based on its combination of bright acidity and exotic fruits - but nobody really thought of Açores. All in all, this was a good wine, but one that isn't showing its best yet; expect the score to go up as the wine ages and loses its candied primary notes.
    (88 points)

  • 2007 Varner Chardonnay Spring Ridge Vineyard Bee Block - USA, California, Santa Cruz Mountains (6.5.2022)
    100% Chardonnay from the dry-farmed 17-yo plot in Santa Cruz Mountains. Fermented spontaneously, aged in partially new French oak barrels. 14,6% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Quite deep, burnished golden yellow color with a pale amber core. Quite sweet, expressive and somewhat tropical nose with aromas of poached pear, vanilla pod, some lactic notes of apple yogurt, a little bit of very ripe pineapple, light apricot nuances, a hint of leesy character and a touch of nuttiness. The wine feels noticeably ripe, rich and full-bodied yet still surprisingly fresh and acid-driven at the same time. There are intense, sweet-toned flavors of ripe apricot, some vanilla, light tropical notes of passion fruit and sweet pineapple, a little bit of stony minerality, a lactic hint of apple yogurt and a touch of nutty oak. The high alcohol lends somewhat obvious warmth to the palate. The high acidity lends good zip and precision to this otherwise rather ripe, substantial and even slightly oily wine. The finish is ripe, sweet-toned and moderately warm with medium-long flavors of juicy peach, some vanilla oak, a little bit of pineapple, light lactic notes of apple yogurt, a hint of passion fruit and a leesy touch of creaminess.

    A rich, juicy and sweet-toned Cali Chardonnay that feels quite substantial and even a bit heavy, despite its surprisingly brisk and focused acidic spine. The combination of very ripe fruit, vanilla oak and at times even a bit obtrusive alcohol is just too much for me - the wine is definitely impactful and seems quite impressive with the first sip, but starts to come across as rather ponderous quite quickly. Although the wine is relatively youthful for its age and most likely it is going to evolve even further from here, I doubt any amount of aging will help with the problems related to super-ripe fruit flavors or too high alcohol. While a well-made wine and relatively balanced for the style, this wasn't really my cup of tea.
    (89 points)

  • 1970 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Ygay Etiqueta Blanca - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (6.5.2022)
    Labeled as Crianza. Tasted blind.

    Dark, very evolved and almost fully opaque reddish-brown color. Aged, dusty and slightly pungent nose with aromas of dusty attic, some mushroomy tones, a little bit of old wood, light earthy notes, a hint of beef jerky and a touch of chanterelle. The wine is dry, old and quite restrained on the palate with a medium body and somewhat tired and dusty flavors of beef jerky, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of wizened cranberry, light pruney notes, tertiary hints of earth and old leather and a ferrous touch of blood. The overall feel is rather firm and structured, thanks to the high acidity and still moderately grippy tannins. The finish is savory, grippy and quite acid-driven with a long, dry aftertaste of crunchy cranberries, some sweeter notes of dried strawberries, a little bit of earth, light rusty notes of blood and iron, a hint of beef jerky and a touch of dusty attic.

    A tired and perhaps also slightly off Rioja that feels like it is slowly gliding downhill. At first people thought the wine might've been corked based on the dusty notes, but when the wine was revealed to be +50 years old, this stance was reconsidered and it was thought it was just bottle funk and the wine would open up with air. However, it didn't really get any better over the course of many hours, coming across just as tired and dusty. So ultimately we didn't come to any conclusion whether the wine was off, past its peak or simply both. However, it was quite impossible to guess anything of the wine due to its rather nondescript, dusty and earthy overall character. Nothing special to write home about. Leaving the wine unrated.

  • 1970 Bruno Giacosa Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (6.5.2022)
    Bottled in a 0,72-liter bottle. 13,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Quite translucent and moderately evolved rusty-red color with a colorless rim. Savory, aged and subtly sweet nose with complex, subtly sweet aromas of wizened dark berries, some sour cherries, a little bit of smoke and tar, light gravelly mineral notes, a balsamic hint of VA and a touch of dried dates. The wine feels evolved, silky and quite tertiary yet not old with a full body and quite intense flavors of sour cherries and tar, some licorice, a little bit of earth and old leather, light sweeter notes of cherry marmalade, a hint of salty liquorice powder and a crunchy touch of fresh, tart cranberry. The overall feel is firm and rather structured, thanks to the high acidity and still moderately pronounced tannins that slowly pile up on the gums, turning the wine more grippy than it initially came across as. The finis his long, quite grippy and rather intense with savory flavors of licorice root and wizened sour cherries, some tarry notes, a little bit of salty liquorice powder, light meaty notes of umami, a hint of old leather and a touch of gravelly minerality.

    A beautiful, harmonious and classically built Barolo that has gained wonderful sense of finesse and depth of flavor over the years - without losing any of the varietal flavors or that firm tannic grip to the age. Most likely the wine has reached its plateau of maturity some years ago, but there are no signs of the wine falling apart anytime soon. An outstanding wine - basically everything you could ask for when having an aged Nebbiolo.
    (96 points)

  • 1984 Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California (6.5.2022)
    According to the label, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (92%) and Merlot (8%) from Alexander Valley. 12,8% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Quite evolved, maroon-hued rusty-red color. The nose feels savory and rather developed with aromas of old leather, some wizened blackcurrants, a little bit of leafy character, light herbaceous notes of cooked bell pepper, a hint of savory wood spice, a tertiary touch of meat stew and a whiff of licorice root. The overall impression is quite classically styled and showing quite a bit of age - but not too much. The wine is evolved, savory and textural on the palate with a full body and quite intense flavors of wizened blackcurrants and tertiary notes of salt-cured beef, some autumnal leafy tones, a little bit of licorice root, light meaty notes of umami, a savory hint of old oak spice and a touch of ripe red-toned fruit. The overall feel is very old-school and remarkably structure-driven with its high acidity and still quite assertive tannins. The finish is long, developed and grippy with a complex aftertaste of sour cherries, some meat stew, a little bit of wizened blackcurrants, light leathery notes, a hint of licorice root and a woody touch of old oak.

    A beautiful, impressive and skillfully crafted Cab that shows proudly its age, yet doesn't come across as senescent, just developed. Virtually everybody guessed this was a 1990's or late 1980's Bordeaux. However, after some guesses we were told it isn't from Bordeaux, nor it is even French. Quite quickly our guesses turned to California, but everybody admitted the style here was very much on point with remarkably old-school leanings with the modest alcohol, firm tannins, high acidity and crunchy fruit that showed just the right amount of ripeness - ie. not that much. A lovely and immensely delicious wine that is at its peak now and will stay there for many more years. At just 25€ this was a steal if anything.
    (95 points)

  • 1986 Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Ribera del Duero Tinto Pesquera Reserva - Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero (6.5.2022)
    100% Tempranillo. Aged for 24 months in American oak barrels. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Evolved, almost fully opaque maroon color with a plummy purple hue. The nose feels ripe, evolved and rather sweet-toned with aromas of dried figs and balsamic VA, some cherry marmalade, a little bit of minty greenness, light sunny dark-fruited notes of very ripe plums, a hint of licorice and a touch of toasty oak spice. The wine is ripe, silky-textured and full-bodied on the palate with rich, evolved flavors of wizened dark plums, some old leather, a little bit of toasty oak spice, light raisiny tones, a balsamic hint of VA and even a touch of acetic tang. The medium-to-moderately high acidity doesn't lend much freshness to the wine, but it keeps in balance. The tannins feel quite resolved and soft at first, but the slowly grow in grip. The finish is ripe, evolved and quite sweet-toned with lengthy flavors of wizened blackcurrants and prunes, some cherry marmalade, light balsamic notes of VA, a little bit of old leather, a hint of toasty oak spice and a touch of minty lift. The ripe tannins make the wine end on a slightly grippy note.

    A nice, very evolved Pesquera Reserva that isn't fallen apart yet, but feels like it has taken its first steps downhill. The overall balance is pretty much on point, but the fruit department is starting to get a bit too pruney or raisiny for my taste and the level of VA is coming across as a bit elevated - I really don't mind the balsamic notes, but the sharp, slightly acetic streak that starts to appear towards the aftertaste takes a tiny toll on the enjoyment. While still a fully enjoyable and pleasantly complex Ribera del Duero, I think this might've been slightly better some 5-10 years ago.
    (88 points)

  • 1983 Fetzer Petite Sirah - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino (6.5.2022)
    Tasted blind.

    Dense, concentrated and fully opaque blackish-red color with a still relatively youthful garnet hue. The open and expressive nose is full of sweet aromas like juicy boysenberries and ripe forest fruits, blueberry juice, some inky tones, a little bit of crunchy blackcurrant, light evolved notes of raisiny dark fruit, oaky hints of vanilla and sweet wood spice, a hint of plummy dark fruit and a whiff of saddle leather. The wine feels evolved, savory and surprisingly tightly-knit on the palate with a rather full body and intense, evolved flavors of wizened dark forest fruits, some leathery tones, a little bit of savory wood spice, light evolved nuances of prunes and beef jerky, a hint of gravelly minerality and a sanguine touch of iron. The overall feel is quite firm and sinewy, thanks to the high acidity and assertive, noticeably grippy tannins. The rather tannic finish is dry, savory and rather tough with long, evolved flavors of dried figs, some tertiary notes of leather and beef jerky, a little bit of raisiny dark fruit, light crunchy nuances of crowberries, oaky hints of vanilla and wood spice and a ferrous touch of blood.

    A complex, wonderfully evolved and still remarkably tightly-knit and tough Petite Sirah that shows some obvious ripeness, yet never comes across as particularly sweet, soft or weighty in character. Although there are some noticeably Californian qualities here, the firm, muscular structure doesn't really take your thoughts to the new world, which is why it took us many futile guesses on different European styles of wine before the wine was revealed to be a Californian Petite Sirah. Well, I guess the variety (known for making rather tough and tannic wines) explains why the wine was so savory and structure-driven for such a sunny wine. All in all, I loved the wine for its unapologetic, savory nature and combination of vibrant, juicy fruit flavors intertwining with more savory and evolved tertiary notes. It's hard to say whether the wine was at its peak or will it continue to evolve - or will its tannins ever resolve - but it is drinking magnificently right now. Just have something hearty to pair the wine with so you won't get overwhelmed by the tannins! At mere 18€, this was an absolute steal.
    (94 points)

  • 1999 Romano Dal Forno Valpolicella Superiore Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore (6.5.2022)
    Typically a blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%), Croatina (5%) and Oseleta (5%). Although the wine is labeled as "Valpolicella Superiore", it's vinified almost like an Amarone: the grapes are dried in a ventilated room for 1,5 months following the harvest. After the grapes have been raisinated, the wine is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for two weeks. Aged in new oak barriques for 24 months, after the wine is filtered and bottled. The wine is not released before aging in bottles for a minimum of three years. 14,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Rather deep and quite opaque cherry-red color with an evolved maroon hue. The nose feels dense, ripe and sweet-toned with fragrant aromas of boysenberries and cherry marmalade, some ripe plummy tones, a little bit of raisiny dark fruit, light oaky nuances of savory wood spice and cacao, a balsamic hint of VA and a touch of old leather. The wine is ripe, quite concentrated and textural on the palate with a full body and subtly sweetish flavors of cherry marmalade and bilberry, some boysenberry tones, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light woody notes of savory oak spice and cacao nibs, a hint of pruney dark fruit and a balsamic touch of VA. The overall feel is quite muscular and structured, thanks to the high acidity and quite ample tannins that contribute both to the dense texture and moderately grippy structure of the wine. The finish is rich, textural and moderately grippy with bold flavors of cherry marmalade, savory wood spice, some pruney tones, a little bit of sweet bilberry, light balsamic notes of VA, a hint of sour cherry bitterness and a touch of exotic spices.

    Other people guessed Californian Merlot, Australian Shiraz and other new world wines, whereas I immediately thought that this tasted like Amarone - probably 15-20 years old - and guessed accordingly. I was told it was close enough to be correct, but when prompted to guess the producer, I never thought of Dal Forno. This is because all the Dal Forno wines I've tasted (that have been noticeably younger) have been so heavily oaky that I never thought the oak influence would subside so quickly. I have been told the wines are completely different after 20-25 years of aging, and now that I've tasted one, I must say that it really seems to be the case: although the oak influence still lingers there, this doesn't taste like a concentrated milkshake of dark chocolate and toasted oak spice, but instead a surprisingly refined wine that has those balsamic and dried-fruit characteristics typical of Amarone, but enough sense of finesse and balance to come across as fine wine, not an over-oaked blockbuster. I'm positively surprised. Although I'm not fully convinced if the wine is actually worth the price (75€), this is nevertheless probably the best Dal Forno wine I've tasted.
    (92 points)

  • 2008 Lucia Syrah Garys' Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (6.5.2022)
    Made with purchased Syrah fruit from Garys' Vineyard, farmed by Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni. Partly destemmed. Fermented spontaneously. Aged for 15 months in partly new French oak puncheons. 14% alcohol.

    Strikingly dense, opaque and inky color with a rather youthful purplish-black hue. The nose feels powerful, dense and quite complex with a somewhat Chilean feel to it. Bold, concentrated aromas of cassis-and-blackcurrant juice concentrate-driven dark fruits, fragrant notes of marjoram, some spicy notes of crushed peppercorns, light herby notes of oregano, bay leaf and other vaguely leafy nuances, a little bit of ripe bilberry, a hint of toasty oak spice and a touch of roasted meat. The wine feels dense, chewy and somewhat hot on the palate with a very full body and concentrated flavors of blackcurrant juice and crème de cassis, some herby notes of oregano and bay leaf, light minty nuances, a little bit of ripe blueberry, an umami hint of game and a sweeter, developed touch of marmaladey dark fruit. The medium acidity feels rather soft, so the overall structure relies mostly on the rather tough and grippy tannins that lend quite a bit of firmness to the mouthfeel. The persistent finish is savory, quite tannic and somewhat hot with powerful flavors of blackcurrant juice concentrate, some licorice tones, a little bit of blueberry, light umami notes of gamey meat, herbaceous hints of chopped chili and something leafy and a chocolatey touch of toasty mocha oak.

    A huge powerhouse of a Syrah made in a very new world style - although the wine doesn't really remind of the stereotypical Australian Shiraz, this ain't no Hermitage either. The wine does show some classic varietal qualities like peppery spice and gamey meat, but compared to classic Northern Rhône Syrah wines, this is noticeably bigger, heavier and lower in acidity. Furthermore, compared to the drier, more red-toned fruit typical of Northern Rhône Syrah, the fruit here was quite sweet and very dark-toned in character - truth be told, the rather cassis-driven fruit notes and pronounced oak nuances made me think of Chile first. Furthermore, the subtly herbaceous leafy tones felt a bit out of place for a Syrah, which is why I thought this was a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. As the guess was incorrect, I went on with other new world country Cabs. It took quite a bit of guesswork to end up with Californian Syrah - I guess the wine might show sense of place, but to us, it really didn't show much varietal character. Nevertheless, it's an impressive blockbuster that is still a baby at 13 years of age - expect the wine to age and improve for many, many years more. I guess the wine is worth the price at 45€, if you like monolithic fruit bombs, but this wasn't really my cup of tea.
    (89 points)

  • 2013 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Suerte Solomon Hills Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (6.5.2022)
    100% Pinot Noir from Solomon Hills Vineyard, planted to Dijon clones 115, 667, 777. Bottled unfiltered. 14,2% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Dark and somewhat translucent cherry-red color with a slightly evolved brick-red hue. The fragrant nose feels quite ripe and somewhat sweet-toned with aromas of strawberries and juicy red plums, some peppery spice, a little bit of ripe black raspberry, light cherry marmalade tones, a floral hint of violets and a touch of blueberry juice. The wine is rich, ripe and silky on the palate with medium-to-moderately full body and succulent flavors of cherry marmalade and ripe strawberry, some evolved notes of prunes and meaty umami, a little bit of black raspberry, light woody notes of savory oak and a hint of exotic spices. The texture is silky and the overall feel is quite round, yet the wine doesn't come across as soft, thanks to its moderately high acidity and ripe yet firm medium tannins. The finish is ripe, gently grippy and quite warm with long and rather complex flavors of sweet black cherries, some meaty umami, a little bit of peppery Pinosity, light woody notes of savory oak spice, a hint of strawberry and an evolved touch of wizened red plums.

    A rich and noticeably ripe yet still surprisingly balanced Cali Pinot. It was pretty obvious from the get-go that this was a Pinot Noir and based on its quite ripe and sunny overall character, pinpointing it to California didn't take much effort. As I prefer a lighter, more red-toned Pinot Noirs from the drier end of the taste spectrum, this wine wasn't really up my wheelhouse, but it was nevertheless pretty good for what it was. Probably my biggest beef was with the rather high alcohol that made the wine feel quite warm most of the time - I wouldn't say the wine carried its high ABV gracefully. All in all, a nice, juicy and vibrant Pinot Noir, but this ain't no challenger of Burgundy in my books. At approx. $75 this feels heavily overpriced for the quality.
    (90 points)

  • NV José Maria da Fonseca Moscatel Setúbal Trilogia - Portugal, Península de Setúbal, Setúbal (6.5.2022)
    A blend of Moscatel from vintages 1900 (15%), 1934 (15%) and 1965 (70%) - supposedly the best three vintages from a library tasting of old Moscatels kept at JM Fonseca. The base wines are made in a classic Moscatel de Setúbal style, ie. after the crush the grape skins are macerated in the must and even after fortification the grape skins are kept in the must to boost the aromatic intensity. The skins have been macerated for approximately 5 months before the wine is pressed and moved to age in oak barrels. The wine was blended and bottled in October 1999. Total production 13926 half-liter bottles. 18,2% alcohol, 185 g/l residual sugar, 6 g/l acidity and pH 3,43.

    Quite deep and moderately opaque syrupy brown color with a light golden yellow rim. Evolved, very complex and quite volatile nose with sweet yet savory aromas of ethery VA, nutty notes reminiscent of Tawny Port, some syrupy tones, a little bit of dried dates and raisiny Sultana notes, light caramel nuances, a hint of molasses and a touch of sun-baked earth. The wine feels rich, sweet and rather hot on the palate with a full body and very concentrated flavors of syrupy molasses and caramel, peanut butter, some apple sauce, a little bit of roasted walnut, light volatile notes of medicinal ether, a floral hint of honeysuckle and a touch of dried dates. The overall feel is remarkably complex with tremendous intensity and slightly viscous with an oily and subtly sticky mouthfeel. The rather high acidity keeps the wine in balance and cuts down the sweetness a little bit. The sweet finish is powerful, complex and very lengthy with intense flavors of caramel and brown syrup, some nutty notes of roasted walnuts, a little bit of tangy rancio, light rich notes of apple sauce, a hint of dried dates and a floral touch of potpourri.

    Holy jebus what kind of intensity, complexity and length this wine packs. Old Moscatels de Setúbal can be very remarkable wines indeed, but this wine takes all that into the next level altogether. It's quite hard to put all the vibrancy, intensity and depth of flavor one can find here into words, but nevertheless, this is a remarkable wine by any standards. Even if the wine is quite big, oily and slightly sticky, it never comes across as ponderous or heavy, thanks to the relatively high acidity that offsets some of that residual sugar nicely. Due to its oxidative winemaking, I doubt this wine will evolve anywhere from here - and I doubt it has developed one bit since its release in late 1999 - but in all likelihood this wine will keep indefinitely if kept in a proper wine cellar. An astounding wine, and even if the wine is pretty pricey at approx. 200€ for a half-liter bottle, it arguably can deliver for the price. Highly recommended.
    (97 points)

Posted from CellarTracker


Well done Otto. Super fun to read your notes, as always. My favorite part is always looking for that random wine that you spot blind. I mean, gather 10 MWs in a room and blind them on a Frontenac blanc, and I’d be impressed if one got the grape correctly! Sometimes I wonder if you’re embellishing a bit, but there have been enough Berserker witnesses of your blind tasting prowess that I’m inclined not to doubt. :sweat_smile:


I do have to add that this was also the first time I ever tasted a Frontenac Blanc! :sweat_smile:

And I admit that use all the possible cues there - for example listening to what other people guess and if they are told what it isn’t, or who brought the wine and what do I know about them and their wine tastes.

However, this time this was a wild guess, just based on the fact that a) the wine felt like a hybrid (so what the other people guessed before me didn’t really help), and b) the person who brought the wine had been to the USA a month or two earlier, so it was possible he had brought a hybrid wine with him (which really was the case this time!). It was sheer luck I guessed Frontenac, since I couldn’t think of any other white hybrids than Frontenac, Delaware, Vidal and Niagara - and this wine didn’t remind me any of the three other wines, so I had to go for the one I hadn’t tasted before. It would’ve been entirely possible for the wine to be made from some other white hybrid and I would’ve never guessed it correctly, so this time I managed to get lucky. :slight_smile:

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$16.00 to have you lot scratching your heads at this level seems like a bargain

Double-blind guessing Frontenac Blanc? This has to be a joke.

I assure you, it isn’t!

Although the people who I was tasting with thought pretty much the same. Well, up until they realized how dumbstruck the person who brought the wine suddenly was. :sweat_smile:

And this wasn’t even the first time I managed to pull off a trick like this! At least the first Poulsard I’ve ever tasted (many years ago) was in a blind tasting and I guessed it with my first guess! The same thing with the first Californian Mission I’ve had - kudos to @Mikko_Tuomi for this one.

I believe it as I’ve seen it happen. You can give @Otto_Forsberg a glass of milk and he will tell you the name of the cow it was from.

Old Moscatel de Setubal can be revelatory. But I think their old Bastardo may better.


I would love to blind taste you on an old bottle of Horton Vineyards Norton…though now I can’t because you would remember this post.

Man, another freaking awesome tasting! Your TNs are some of the best around (seriously), but what i dig the most is how you can enjoy/appreciate a wide spectrum of wines. To me, wine-variety is the spice of life and you clearly feel the same. So hard for me to imagine how some peeps only (mostly) drink a single variety. Gotta be so boring!

That said, I’m 1000% with you on those older Fetzer Petite Sirah’s. Lots of PS haters out there but i feel like they would change their tune if they tried one of these from the 70’s/80’s. The 79 Special Reserve i had last year was incredible. Rated it 96 points.

Cheers man!


Couldn’t put it better myself!

And thanks, man!

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I always thought that the reason you find hardly any Auslese Trocken anymore is that they are now labeled Großes Gewächs… :innocent:

Although your comment might’ve been in jest, I’ve understood that this is actually the case. The wine ripeness usually corresponds to that of Auslesen.

Although IIRC only members of VDP or Bernkasteler Ring can label their wines as GG - and even then only from certain vineyards. The others have to label their wines as Auslese Trocken, if they want to. They can always drop the “Auslese” part altogether.

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…or label them as a Kabinett, Spätlese, Ortswein, Gutswein if they wish, with or without Trocken, maybe even give them some fancy name for marketing purposes. So many options to choose from under German wine law and VPD.regulations…

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Nice notes. Like you, I have never ben a Palmes d’Or fan, but I don’t think I have had one with more than 20 years of age on it. Some have told me the 1985 and 1990 were pretty good young, but I can’t speak to that. Baron Albert is one I have never heard of. Assuming it comes from around the Charly-sur-Marne area that is on the label, this is about as west in Champagne as you can get. Always nice to get a surprise from a wine like this.

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I used to be a judge at the International Cold Climate Wine Competition when we lived in MN. All the varieties of Frontenac (and other cold hardy hybrids) are pretty distinct and easy to call once you’ve tried a handful.