TNs: '61 Monfortino, '86 Lake's Folly, plus a few others

Last Saturday my mate Cosimo and I got together to look at some wines with our partners. We do these types of events a few times a year and they’ve really become a highlight of my tasting calendar annually so to speak. Cos and I both have very similar palate preferences so we always attempt to pour something special on the day. Cos was quite keen to crack his single 1961 Monfortino bottle, so we built around that. I decided to bring a 1986 Lake’s Folly Cabernet as it was the vintage before the first Lake’s Folly vintage Cos had ever had. We both independently came to the conclusion that looking at a couple '11 Baroli would make sense hence their inclusion. I felt we’d be remiss without a red burg in the mix so the Gouges got a guernsey, and Cos was keen on looking at an '08 Accomasso given his enthusiasm for that producer inspired by recent visit to the cantina. Finally, Cos decided to make a raw salmon dish and asked for a white to pair; I complied with a Garnacha Blanca that I had been wanting to show to him anyway (thanks again Kent).

I made my way to Cos’s house on Friday afternoon after work to open everything bar the white and Cabernet. We took a quick look at everything to ensure there were no flawed bottles and to build excitement. We were both lucky and incredibly enthused as everything we opened was looking incredibly well. I left after an hour or so after arrival anticipating an epic tasting the next day.

On Saturday we arrived a little after 4pm and hit the ground running. We left around 9:30pm. All considered it was an amazing evening which lived up to all the expectations we had and more. Cos handled all of the food preparation. I contributed the cheeses and prosciutto. The cheese picks were a truffle Pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano, and a Délice de Bourgogne.

The rest of the menu was as follows.
Peppers with tuna
Grilled eggplant
Caprese salad
Marinated salmon with fennel salad
Prosciutto and Melon
Roast Pork belly in milk

And here are a couple shots of the prepped food on arrival.

As per usual Cos did some excellent work in the kitchen.

Here’s a shot of the final lineup. Notes below.

2014 Capçanes ‘Mas Donis’ Garnacha Blanca
I wanted to pour this for Cos given the QPR. Nose opened quite taunt, clean, and with a touch of kero. Honestly if I was blinded on this on open I reckon I’d call this as Aussie Riesling. With a bit more time in glass though the melon and white stone fruits notes emerge.
The palate was singing much like the last bottle. Clean, good complexity and mouthfeel without feeling weighty or overbearing. Medium length and excellent balance. Lovely acidity and quite crisp on the finish.

2011 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato
Extremely elegant on the nose. High toned lift combined with perfectly ripe fruit, very impressive nose for the vintage.
The palate was both elegant and stunning. It shows with fresh red fruit notes, primarily fresh just ripe raspberry. This was a bit of a surprise to me when age and producer are taken into consideration. It still needs at least 5-10 years to build palate weight but was showing remarkably well on the night. Very impressive all considered. This is the best young Monprivato I’ve ever tasted.

2008 Lorenzo Accomasso Barolo Riserva Rocchette
Beautiful lifted nose. Showed VA as well, along with bright red fruits. Also displayed some tar. The second pour started to show an aromatic sourness which was as surprising as it was pleasing.
Lovely tannic palate attack on entry. Excellent in both weight and concentration whilst maintaining freshness and acidity. Lovely sweet fruit and that sour edge from the nose also shows on the palate. Long. Brilliant back palate tannic finish that fans out across the palate. IMO a textbook traditional Barolo. Truly stunning.

1986 Lake’s Folly Cabernet
Opened with cedar, cigar box, and leather. Also had a touch of fruit sweetness still on the nose.
Palate displayed a lovely fruit sweetness as well as surprisingly (at least to me) high acidity. On open the palate was relatively closed though.
With an hour or two in the decanter the nose was dominated by oak notes. Coffee, caramel, and toast all compete to dominate the nose.

After three hours though the oak had settled back in. Obviously it was still there but it was balanced by a lovely fruit sweetness.
The palate was truly gorgeous. Front palate was dominated by fruit sweetness. Mid palate was highlighted by the high acid I mentioned earlier which is borderline exceptional acidity for an Aussie cab. It still had a touch of tannic grip on the back palate.

Around four hours in a bitter chocolate note could be found on both the nose and palate. I must admit there was a hint of VA on the nose too which I found surprising. Given it was labelled at 12% I don’t think it could have been alcohol.

2011 Cappellano Barolo Piè Rupestris
Easily both the biggest and most brutish of the three Baroli. Tomato leaf. Overripe with plum and lightly stewed dark fruit notes. With a bit more air balsamico and black olive tapenade notes emerged.

The palate was serviceable but I must admit the over-ripeness came through there as well. This wine clocks in at 15% on the label and was every bit of that. I wouldn’t describe it as hot, especially when compared to some of the wines we have down here, but it’s definitely not what I would consider elegant or fresh.

I finished this on Sunday night as it was easily the least taxed wine on Saturday with 2/3rds remaining. I poured my fiancée a glass and she couldn’t even finish it given the overripe character. Given the CT notes on this wine I’m not sure what to say. IIRC I sourced this direct from Piemonte and other wines from the same shipment have showed very well. I’d like to look at another bottle but currently I’m confused about the disparity between my experience and the CT community.

2010 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges
Unlike the day before when it opened with a meaty/sauvage character, then bright red fruit, and then cola/oak notes today it was relatively closed on first pour. There was a touch of red fruit and high toast in the background. With time in glass though the nose really did open up though with red fruits as well as a flowery note that would make me think this wine saw some stems if I didn’t know better.

Nose aside the palate was consistently humming. Red and black fruits dominated and it was all still incredibly primary. Mid and back palate were dominated by acid and tannin respectively. Lovely in both length and freshness but it really does need heaps of time. Glad I’ve got a couple more bottles.

1961 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino Speciale
STUNNINGLY gorgeous nose. Caramel, high tone lift/VA, touch of sweet fruit. Touch of honey as well. Beautiful color too, it poured more like an orange wine than a red one.

Stupidly superb palate. Entry was dominated by a phenomenal red fruit sweetness. The mid palate was a textbook case of high acidity carrying a wine palate into its later years and the back palate still showed a touch of tannic grip. Superb balance and concentration whilst being wonderfully elegant. This was quite possibly the LONGEST wine I’ve ever had the good fortune to taste. The subtle tannic grip and the bright fruit sweetness lingered on the palate for at least a couple minutes.

Easily my WOTY currently and arguably the best wine I’ve ever had the good fortune to drink! It shows vintage typicity from my perspective as it’s comparable to the 1961 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo which I have had the fortune of looking at more than once. That said all of the heights the '61 F. Rinaldi showed are amplified even more in the Monfortino. A true WOW wine in my book.

I doubt you all would mind if I shared a few photos of the wine.

Looks promising!

In the decanter ready for pouring.

Somebody’s got to do it!

Have a look at that color!

Monfortino in the front and Cappellano in the rear for a color comparison.

And yes, there was a bit of sediment in the Monfortino bottle.

All considered I feel we were incredibly lucky with the wines we had on the weekend. The ’61 Monfortino was truly special and I’d love to drink more wines that are in that league. The ’86 Lake’s Folly showed incredibly well and much better than expected. This wine was purchased on release by my fiancée’s mother and was stored in a cupboard for decades until a couple months ago. Whilst not properly stored from an ageing wine properly perspective it was kept in a climate controlled bedroom since purchase. The good news is that it was part of a larger collection so I expect to be looking at more of these ‘80s and early ‘90s Aussie wines in the near future. Sadly I don’t believe any are quite as well respected as the Lake’s Folly but hopefully some of them are still alive and worth looking at.

Thanks for reading.

Great colour on the '61 Andrew. Sounds like a memorable experience.

Great notes! That Monfortino looks in excellent shape on the outside. Glad it was as good on the inside. A truly special wine when sound.

Thanks for documenting that experience so beautifully.

really nice report, looks like a great day

Thanks for the positive responses everyone!

Wow, that is really cool. Thanks for the write up and the pictures, terrific.

Fwiw and as a possible PSA the '61 is most likely a fake. I brought a similarly pristine bottle of the '71 that was purchased recently at auction to an event and was told by several people that my bottle was probably a fake. Apparently there is a lot of fake Monfortino making its way around Europe. It’s easy to fake the vintage by simply changing the vintage tag and the label is also easy to reproduce. Another issue is Monfortino corks have no branded vintage. I still have that bottle of '71. I was lucky to buy many bottles of '70 and '71 in the late 90’s before Monfortino escalated in value and those bottles certainly looked thier age. Sorry to be bearer of bad news.

Hi Paul,

Whilst I appreciate your viewpoint I don’t share it. And while the bottle wasn’t purchased on release from the Cantina it was purchased in Piemonte from a very reputable retailer. A retailer that has both the respect of the Cantina’s owner as well as a well known former poster here. We all take risks when we purchase aged wines on the retail and auction market, but to a certain extent many of us attempt to mitigate that risk by staying away from certain auction houses, buying from respected retailers we have a positive track record with, and being vigilant.

And when you say fake, you’re actually implying that it’s a real Monfortino, just not the '61 vintage, correct? Or are you implying it’s a real bottle that’s been refilled? Given the embossing on the bottle I think it would really be hard to replicate that bottle work. And I do agree that the label is incredibly clean but what’s most important is what’s in the bottle, which was everything expected and so much more. The color of the wine, amount of sediment, the obviousness of age on both the nose, palate, and appearance all lead me to believe it was real. I also think it’s worth mentioning that most old Monfortino ('50s-'60s) I’ve seen on the market are at roughly the same price point. Given that I find it hard to imagine someone took a different Monfortino from a lesser vintage (say a '59 or a '68) and rebadged it as a '61 as the profit margin wouldn’t really make the work worthwhile.

I can post more photos of the bottle, label, cork, or capsule if anyone is interested and actually across the what I can only assume are flaws in the counterfeit Monfortino bottles making their way around Europe. I’ve also got to find my little UV flashlight to put it across the label and see if anything pops.

Could I be wrong in all of this and was I duped by my enthusiasm? Possibly, but I don’t consider it likely. Sadly this wine was consumed within a 24 hour window but I suspect it would have gone on for at least a few more days. It barely budged in the 24 hours it was open.

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been told the '71 you purchased was a fake. That’s got to be a bitter pill to swallow. Out of curiosity did the several people who told you the bottle was fake give you any reasoning other than the label appearance? If so I’d appreciate it if you shared those details here.

great notes.

and great photography too!

Looks like a great days drinking.

Good to see the Lakes in such good nick. I guess the decanting advice doesn’t cater for the old ‘no great wines over 30 years old, only great bottles’.

That is some serious sediment on the Monfortino how did you decant/prepare that?

Andrew, brilliant writeup and photos.

Probably the greatest wine I’ve drunk in my life is the 1985 Monfortino. For a 30 year old wine it drank quite primary (it wasn’t yet at its peak!). From your note it sounds like you had the true Monfortino experience, so I don’t believe it could have been a fake. I still remember that as the '85 went around the table, tasters who had no idea what a Monfortino even was, falling silent as the profundity of the great wine hit.

That 2011 Monfortino is a great Barolo to drink young and I know those Lakes Follys can take some serious bottle age and still drink well (I’ve had them back to the mid '70s).

Sounds like a great night!

Cheers, Howard

Fabulous notes. Not sure why a poster would just assume that bottle is fake. Bottle looks ok and the wine looks right. 61 Monfortino is in my running for greatest wine of all time. I’ve had three times in the last two years with consistent notes and these notes sound representative. It’s truly one of the greatest wines out there. Glad you got a great bottle. Cheers.


The '61 looked spanking new like the rest of the recent releases in your lineup as did the cork so I thought it prudent to share my experience. A prominent retailer friend made me aware of the label and vintage tag concerns of older pristine Monfortino as he has apparently been burned more than once. Anyway I’m glad that you enjoyed your bottle and when you’re in NYC I’d be happy to share a pristine bottle of the '71 with you.

Hi Dave,

We opened the Lakes and immediately threw it into the decanter after taking small pours to taste. I did want to give it a bit more time to slow ox like you and Paul recommended but given how well it showed initially, especially for its age, we didn’t think it would hurt to go ahead and put it in the decanter. I don’t think it suffered for it.

As for the Monfortino, Cos stood it up two months before we opened it. We pulled the cork roughly 24 hours before service to test it and give it a dose of air. When we arrived at Cos’s house on Saturday afternoon we decanted it within 30 or so minutes upon arrival and looked at it over the course of the evening.

Thanks for the comments Howard. And you’re right about Monfortino, it pretty much demands attention regardless of prior knowledge of its existence! Every glass I’ve had has really sucked me in and hammered home just how truly magical they are.

I can see why you rate the 61 so highly Daniel. I kid you not, thinking about that wine literally has my mouth watering right now. I’m not joking when I say that I hope to drink other wines in that league as I don’t think there are many to be honest. I must say I’m quite envious that you’ve had it three times in the past two years! Thanks for the comments.

I appreciate that Paul. Thanks for chiming back in. For the record the cork actually looked much more “age appropriate” on the sides. It was quite short too to be honest. As for older pristine Monfortino on the one hand I definitely hear where you’re coming from. On the other hand I don’t think you can categorically dismiss a pristine labelled wine as a guaranteed fake on label cleanliness alone. Take these photos for instance.

Pretty good looking labels all considered. Pretty old wines too. That said these are the “display wines” at the Giacomo Conterno cantina. Could they be counterfeit? I doubt it. Roberto doesn’t strike me as that hard up for display bottles!

Funnily enough I’ll be in NYC next year and I’m more than keen on having a look at your '71! I’ll bring something along to either compliment or attempt to alleviate the pain of the '71 depending. [cheers.gif]

Magnificent collection! Which have been your favorites? Please rank.

'71 Monfortino is one of the greatest of all wines I’ve had the privilege to drink followed by the awesome '85. My '61 was not a stellar example and have yet to try the '78.

I could spend all day ranking Monfortino…I really truly think that 61 is the single best one right at this very moment. Not to say its the greatest of all time, but its the one I’d want to drink right now all day long. A pristine bottle of 58 is also really spectacular. 70 and 71 next among the incredible ones today. Believe it or not, 64 still feels like its got a ways to go. 78 is the same. 67 is pretty solid as well but not quite as good as the others. That’s about it for the really ready to drink ones! Then you get into 82 which has forever and a day to go…