TNs: First Wines of 2017: Austrian Gruner, Corton, Brunello, CA Pinot and IT Late Harvest


This Tuesday fellow board member Mike Grammer graciously hosted the first dinner party on record for 2017 for some friends including yours truly where we cracked open the first wines of 2017:

NIKOLAIHOF 2014 WACHAU GRUNER VELTLINER TERRASSEN – A typical Gruner Veltliner with a mix of fruit and veggie aromas and flavors. Clear light straw gold in the glass, medium-bodied. Zesty Chardonnay-like green apple flavors and white grapefruit zest aromas mix with vegetal green pea soup flavors which are pretty much unique to Gruner Veltliner. Either you like that or you don’t. This was decent but nothing spectacular. Made for a good aperitif.
P. DUBREUIL-FONTAINE PERE & FILS 2012 CORTON-PERRIERES GRAND CRU – A virtually non-existent nose of sour cherries. So light-bodied it is actually a bit frothy as you can see in my glass. Pale crimson in color. Extremely fruit-driven for a Burgundy, a ton of sour cherry flavor which pleasantly surprised me. Heavy on tannins but the fruit is so strong it actually is drinkable in spite of that. Who says Burgundy has no flavor?
TENUTA CARLINA 2010 LA TOGATA DEI TOGATI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO – Dense ruby crimson in the glass, and a strong turpentine nose leads to somewhat weak black cherry flavors with a lot of dusty tannin on the finish. This was all over the place and unfortunately came off as almost watery next to the powerful Brunello that followed it.

LAZZERETTI 2008 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO – This Brunello was WAY more powerful than the previous and by far my favroite of the two. Deep crimson garnet color, much more so than the previous one though it doesn’t really show in the picture due to the lighting. Nice strong cherry and earthy mushroom flavors but balanced out by softer tannins. I was actually expecting the 10 Brunello above to taste like this. Much more enjoyable with the molé chicken and short ribs Michael served.
KACABA 2009 PINOT NOIR – I am no fan of Ontario Pinot Noir at all and find it absolutely pales in comparison to California, New Zealand, and Burgundy Pinot. So I was quite shocked to find myself enjoying this and finding some similarities to California and New Zealand Pinot, particularly with its Burgundy-like light ruby crimson color, light body, softened tannins and strong sweet-tart cherry and graphite flavors. Color me surprised. It’s not superior to the Pinot types I just mentioned but it’s pretty darn good for an Ontario Pinot Noir and a heck of a surprise at being so.
ANTINORI FATTORIA ALDOBRANDESCA 2008 ALEATICO – This wine is made with half late harvested and half appasimento dried Aleatico grapes. The cork was surprisingly dried out and crumbly despite being stored in very good conditions on its side. Mike labored to rip it out, filter and decant the wine. Light-bodied, light crimson in the glass only a touch darker than the two Pinots. Extremely perfumed and floral on the nose, almost more so than Muscat. In the mouth, tastes of sweet red cherries, lavender and vanilla. Most importantly, it isn’t too sweet and so comes off as lightly refreshing. It’s like a red version of a German Spatlese. Nicely done.

I didn’t have my preferred corkscrew, but I’m not sure even that would have saved the cork—it really was dried through and through. Happily, strainer and decanter made things work.

Tran’s prompted me out of laziness mode here, so I will comment on the wines. Only the 14 Nikolaihof Gruner was opened on the day of the dinner. The others were leftovers from New Year’s Eve, so impressions have to be tempered by 3 days’ air.

The Nikolaihof was the base bottling. Sure form and some bite on the front of the tongue with ginger, pepper and apple notes. Probably not as good a vintage as 13, but for $20, I’d be happy to have this to go to on occasion. It has proper typicity.

The rest of the notes will be from my impressions from when they were opened on NY Eve, with a couple other bottles tacked on

2012 Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton Perrieres

Some metal/iron and definite earth tones on the bouquet along with dark cherry fruit. I was surprised that this is already somewhat open and only gets more so as the night goes on. Very sure red and black cherry and berry fruit mixed in with good dollops of dark cocoa and some mineral, with the spine one hopes for in Corton. Really a very great bottle that does have a tinge of the joyous 12 fruit.

2010 La Togata dei Togati Brunello

This took a little bit to unwind, about 2 hours, but was quite pretty when it did. Florals are added to a currant and leather showing on the nose. Palate has solid fruit and the tannins are already lovely and luminous here. Another very nice example of a vintage I love to pieces. This really came out to play the next day at brunch, but was perhaps done by the time the 3rd rolled around, sorry Tran!

2008 Lazzeretti Brunello

Opened this after picking it up on the recommendation of friend and Vintages consultant Michael. He wasn’t wrong about this one. On opening, cedar and sandalwood notes mix with dark, dark plum and berry fruit in bouquet. And there’s plenty of grip and almost flashy power on the tongue. It does settle in over the course of the night and the next day, but by the 3rd had picked up even more verve and power. Quite a showing.

2008 Guy Amiot Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets

I am quite fond of the wines from this house and this is no exception. white and yellow fruit is equally balanced with a cut of stones and ginger added in the mouth. This has a very slight trace of sweetness, but it fits in very well with the flavour profile and adds to the feel and flow of the wine as it goes down the throat. A very complete example, this is probably the perfect window for drinking. A softer but still very present Chassagne.

2005 ZH Pinot Gris Clos Jesbal Vendages Tardives

There’s the poached apple and pear pie thing on nose and in mouth that is what I want, and the feel especially is not too sweet and almost translucent. It is just what I would pick as an exemplar of a VT and had superb length. A winner for sure.

I did enjoy the 09 Kacaba Pinot, much more than I expected. This is a vintage that was quite wet and yet there have been some rather good wines that have come out of hiding after some bottle age. This appears to be one of them. Not a world-beater, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed Tran’s sweet wine contribution, which played for me very much like a recioto although without the level of complexity or depth I often find there. Still, it had balance and an attractive lightness of being.



Nice report–much appreciated!