April 30, 2012
Wine Advocate Issue #200
A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall: The Surprisingly Successful 2011 Red and White Bordeaux
2011 Batailley (89-91)
2011 Carbonnieux (86-88) (2008 In Stock)
2011 Ducru Beaucaillou (93-95) (2003 In Stock)
2011 Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (89-91)
2011 Hortevie (85-87) (2006 In Stock)
2011 Lagrange (85-87) (2006 In Stock)
2011 Pauillac (88-91) (2007 In Stock)
2011 Segla (87-89) (2006 In Stock)
Barolo 2008: The Incredible Lightness of Being
One of the great tastings in Piemonte is sitting down with Mauro Mascarello and his son Giuseppe, and going through all of their wines from barrel. Vintage 2008 is looking good so far. The wines have great transparency to site and plenty of personality. Mascarello planned to bottle the 2008 Baroli during the summer of 2012.
Mascarello 2008 Barolo Villero (90-92)
Mascarello 2008 Barolo Santo Stefano di Perno (92-94)
Mascarello 2008 Barolo Monprivato (93-95+) Please Inquire about 2007
Mascarello 2008 Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca' d'Morisso (94-96)
Mascarello 2004 Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca' d'Morisso 96+
Brunello di Montalcino 2007
It’s great to see Diego and Nora Molinari doing better after what was a very difficult period for them last year. This little stretch of land, just outside Montalcino, which Diego Molinari purchased from the Guerrini family in 1977, is one of the most blessed terroirs in the entire appellation. The Cerbaiona Brunelli are big, powerful wines that possess striking balance. Think of Cerbaiona as the Richebourg of Montalcino. Cerbaiona remains one of the benchmarks for great, traditionally made Brunello.
Cerbaiona 2007 Brunello di Montalcino 97 Coming Soon, Please Inquire
Cerbaiona 2009 Rosso di Montalcino 90
Mastrojanni is another estate that is in the midst of a major improvement in quality. This year Mastrojanni is introducing the Loreto, a new single-vineyard Brunello.
Mastrojanni 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Schiena d'Asino 94 On Order
Mastrojanni 2007 Brunello di Montalcino 93 On Order
Mastrojanni 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto 92+
It is hard to imagine how much Jan Erbach and Caroline Pobitzer have accomplished in just a few years. Erbach and Pobitzer embody the same adventurous, risk-taking ethos one rarely sees in Montalcino, but which is much more common among top-flight, artisan growers in Burgundy, Piedmont and Champagne. Pian dell’Orino is still a young estate, and the wines can sometimes be a bit inconsistent, especially the Riserva, which I don’t think is still fully formed from a conceptual standpoint. Still, I have little doubt the potential is there for Pian dell’Orino to be one of the top ten producers in Montalcino in a few years. The writing is on the wall. Hard work, passion and dedication always pay off. Jan Erbach describes 2007 as similar to 2003, with the exception of rain during July, which helped the vines recuperate a bit. The harvest was earlier than normal and took place from September 20 to October 1.
Pian dell'Orino 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 90
Pian dell'Orino 2010 Pian Dorino IGT (87-89)
Pian dell'Orino 2009 Rosso di Montalcino 91 (2008 In Stock)
Pian dell'Orino 2007 Brunello di Montalcino 97 (2006 In Stock)
Pian dell'Orino 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 94
Proprietor Francesco Monaci and consulting oenologist Fabrizio Moltard showed me a wide range of wines during my recent visit. Monaci describes 2007 as a year with no winter. Overall temperatures were warmer than normal, but without heat spikes. The harvest took place in the early part of September, about ten days earlier than normal. The estate is gradually moving to a greater use of cask for its Brunello, a change that is allowing much more nuance to come through in the wines. As always, fermentations are done with indigenous yeasts and the malos take place in oak. All of the estate’s vineyards are Brunello-designated, including those used for the Rosso.
Agostina Pieri 2007 Brunello di Montalcino 94+ (2006 In Stock)
Agostina Pieri 2009 Rosso di Montalcino 91 (2008 In Stock)
Agostina Pieri 2010 Rosso di Montalcino 91
Under My Skin: Priorat 2009 & 2010
Visiting Alvaro Palacios was a must during my trip to Priorat, the dynamo and tour de force that has propelled Priorat to the forefront of the Spanish wine scene. The modern architecture of his hilltop winery lies in stark contrast to the nearby village Gratallops, where houses huddle as if sheltering from a raincloud that will never come. Indeed, as we parked the car, the village’s P.A. system was announcing that there would be no running water for the next two hours, indicating how precious a commodity water is. People suffer as well as vines. Since his debut in 1989, Alvaro’s wines have built a formidable reputation with prices to match. Fortunately, he pays as much attention to quality at the lower end of his range: a bottle bearing his name must meet his exacting standards. I listened as Alavaro expounded the greatness of Garnacha, convinced that the identity of Priorat lies in this grape variety and Carinena, rather than Cabernet Sauvignon. A man of his word, he is therefore reducing the percentage of Cabernet in his flagship L’Ermita and it would not surprise me if it is phased out entirely in the future. Personally, I think an already great wine is greater for it. He also rhapsodized about his nascent 2010s, which he feels are not as “heavy” as his 2009s and constitute “very enchanting wines,” something I completely agree with. Most of these wines were tasted in Priorat, augmented by one or two tastings held in London.
Alvaro Palacios 2010 L'Ermita (96-98)
Alvaro Palacios 2010 Camins del Priorat 88 In Stock
Alvaro Palacios 2011 Finca Dofi (94-96)
Alvaro Palacios 2006 L'Ermita 91 In Stock
Alvaro Palacios 2009 L'Ermita 96 Please Inquire
Alvaro Palacios 2011 L'Ermita (94-96)
Alvaro Palacios 2009 Camins del Priorat 90
Alvaro Palacios 2010 Les Terrasses 89 (2009 In Stock)
Alvaro Palacios 2010 Gratallops 90
Alvaro Palacios 2011 Gratallops (92-94)
Alvaro Palacios 2010 Finca Dofi 93 Please Inquire about 2009
Give a Little Respect: Cava
Caves Naveran was established in 1985. The Cavas are made entirely from estate grown fruit.
Caves Naveran 2010 Cava Brut Vintage 90
Caves Naveran 2009 Cava Dama 88 (2008 In Stock)
Caves Naveran 2009 Perles Blanques 86 (2008 In Stock)
Caves Naveran 2009 Perles Roses 88
Raventos I Blanc produce a clutch of excellent Cavas and in the case of “De Nit,” one of the finest I encountered during my tastings. The estate has belonged to the Raventos family since 1497 and it was Josep Raventos Fatjo who is credited with making the first Cava way back in 1872. Nowadays, it is Manuel Raventos who is both president and oenologist.
Raventos i Blanc 2009 Reserva Brut 91 In Stock
Raventos i Blanc 2009 De Nit 93 (2008 In Stock)
Catalonia: Tasting Beyond Priorat
Vinos Pinol 2008 L'Avi Arrufi 90
Vinos Pinol 2008 Mather Teresina 89+
Vinos Pinol 2009 Finca Morenillo 90
Vinos Pinol 2010 Portal Roble 91
Vinos Pinol 2011 Ludovicus 87 (2010 In Stock)
Vinos Pinol 2010 Josefina Pinol White Dulce 89 (2008 In Stock)
Vinos Pinol 2011 Portal White 86 (2009 In Stock)
Vinos Pinol 2010 L'Aci Arrufi Blanco 92
Apart from their excellent cavas, Raventos I Blanc produces a commendable dry white.
Raventos i Blanc 2011 Silencis 89 (2010 In Stock)
Vinyes Domenech 2009 Teixar 95 (2008 In Stock)
Vinyes Domenech 2008 Furvus 92
Vinyes Domenech 2008 Teixar 93 (2007 In Stock)
Vinyes Domenech 2010 Bancal 91
Vinyes Domenech 2009 Furvus 89+
Vinyes Domenech 2010 Rita 92
Australia's New South Wales: The Road Less Traveled
Clonakilla 2011 Riesling 88
Clonakilla 2010 Hilltops Shiraz 89 (2008 In Stock)
Clonakilla 2010 Shiraz O'Riada 91
Clonakilla 2010 Shiraz/Viognier 93+ (2008 In Stock)
Exploring the Savoie
Jean-Yves Peron 2009 Champ Levat 89 In Stock
Jean-Yves Peron 2009 Les Barrieux 90
Piedmont Report: Checking in on the 2001 Baroli
Mauro Mascarello’s 2001s showed very well. I have had the privilege of attending more than my fair share of Monprivato verticals, but something tells me future tastings are going to be even more special, as the number of great examples of this wine has never been higher. Imagine tasting the 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 in another 10-15 years’ time!
Giuseppe Mascarello 2001 Barolo Santo Stefano di Perno 92
Giuseppe Mascarello 2001 Barolo Monprivato 95
Giuseppe Mascarello 2001 Barolo Riserva Monprivato Ca' d'Morisso 97
April 16, 2012
Sticking to White in Argentina
So what does this have to do with white wine? Well Argentine red wines are not the best to pair with fish. The wine list at Oviedo has about 50 whites to choose. What did Tim Atkin choose?
"I chose a delicious rarity: the herbal, textured, lightly oaked, refreshing 2010 Mendel Semillon from Mendoza. It worked brilliantly with both my ceviche and hake dishes."
April 05, 2012
Chablis Leaps Forward Into the Past By NYTimes
Article written by Eric PFanner on 3/30/2012
Courgis, France — This hamlet in the hills of northern Burgundy hardly looks like the wellspring of a winemaking revival.
On a damp Monday morning in March, only the distant rattle of a tractor breaks the silence. A suspicious pair of eyes monitors a visiting car's progress down the Grande Rue Nicolas Droin; in these parts, even the dogs can pick out Paris license plates.
But Courgis (population 260) is home to two of the most forward-thinking producers of Chablis, whose vineyards surround Courgis and several neighboring villages. Thomas Pico, of Domaine Pattes Loup, and Alice and Olivier de Moor, of their eponymous winery, are making Chablis of startling quality, using natural, ecologically friendly methods that many of their peers long ago abandoned.
Innovation is not always good for wine, especially when vineyard work is replaced with laboratory science. This is what happened during an earlier leap forward in Chablis, in the second half of the previous century.
From 1945, when there were less than 500 hectares of Chablis vines, the vineyard area expanded tenfold by the end of the century. Growth was fueled by demand in export markets, where the name Chablis, like that of its near neighbor Champagne, became a catch-all term — in this case for dry white wine of any origin.
Trade agreements and legal action have mostly ended these practices, though it is still possible to stumble across absurdities like "California Blush Chablis." Talk about fake wine.
Yet some of the damage to the image and the terroir of Chablis was self-inflicted. In order to meet international demand, the growers embraced the use of herbicides, pesticides and grape-picking machines with a fervor rarely seen in other French wine regions. Production soared but quality often suffered.
"In my grandparents' time everyone harvested by hand," Mr. Pico said. "Now every finishes at five and is in front of the television by eight. A way of life has disappeared."
Not entirely. Chablis is home to another pair of producers, Jean-Marie Raveneau and Vincent Dauvissat, who have long been critics' favorites. Their wines are old-school icons, but unless you have considerable patience you might struggle to understand what the fuss is about, or even to find them.
Chablis can do the classics. What it seemed to lack until recently, however, was a certain type of hip new producer, like those who have reinvigorated other French wine regions, among them the Loire Valley The Rhone Valley and the heartland of Burgundy - The Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune, about an hour's drive south of Chablis. In these areas, upstarts or outsiders have been making wine that sometimes challenges the powers that be and prompts everyone to question long-held assumptions.
Enter Mr. Pico and the de Moors. Along with a few other up-and-coming producers based elsewhere in the region, including Patrick Piuze, a French-Canadian, and several outfits with local roots, including Domaines Oudin, Domaine Dervin and Gilbert Picq, they have brought a fresh spirit to Chablis.
Mr. Pico is not exactly an outsider; his father, too, is a vigneron. After studying oenology and working with producers in the Cote de Beaune, he decided to set up a separate winemaking operation, using some of the vineyards from the family estate. His first vintage was 2006.
Mr. Pico switched to organic cultivation, then went a step further with the application of biodynamic principles, under which growers try to create a healthy ecosystem for the vines —helping them to help themselves. He harvest by hand, which is still an anomaly in Chablis.
"I could earn a lot more money if I did mechanical harvesting, if I used pesticides and herbicides," Mr. Pico said. "I could eve take a vacation. But I like my work."
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