Vallee D'Aosta and Piemonte
- 2007 Grosjean Petite Arvine Valle d'Aosta - Italy, Valle d'Aosta
Soft on the nose, with hints of honey, toffee, and basil, this was an acidic and "green" wine. Tasters noted some minerality along with lemon/lime rind, pear, pepper, and herbal flavor notes. Some thought the wine out of balance, hot (alcohol), and clumsy, others liked the finish, and it may need more time in the bottle.
- 2006 Ermes Pavese Morgex et de la Salle - Italy, Valle d'Aosta, Morgex et de la Salle
A favorite among the 42 bianchi tasted, this had a lot of citrus notes. Slightly effervescent with a floral, intense nose, its medium acidity was readily apparent. Soft, viscous, and nicely balanced, there were pronounced orange (blood orange for some), grapefruit, and peach flavors for most tasters, as well as canned apricot, mango, pineapple, tangerine, “early green hay” (hey, we’re in central Texas), and tropical flavors. Tasters thought this an excellent summer food wine.
- 2007 Gianni Gagliardo Favorita Fallegro - Italy, Piedmont
Madeira and some honey and nut on the nose, a caramel color, with slight oak and firm acidity, some stone and mineral characteristics, a clean finish. Had green pear, almond, citrus flavor s. Went from being a bright, refreshing, candied drink upon opening to an off-putting Madeira after an hour.
- 2007 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Langhe Nascetta Anas-Cetta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
A weighty wine, high in acid, this wine was slow to develop. Initially it was salty and "super-trocken," with slate and resin notes and interesting components but out of balance. It developed some tropical flower, lily, and candied papaya/mango notes, was fleshy with a long finish. Some detected an apple cider, juniper character to the wine. Food helps this wine a lot.
- 2006 Vigneti Massa Timorasso Colli Tortonesi Derthona - Italy, Piedmont, Colli Tortonesi
A bit controversial, some tasters didn’t like sulfur and rubber characteristics of the wine; to be fair, the wine had been open for more than an hour when they tasted it. But those who had the wine fresh out of the bottle found much to like. “A can of Shasta (soda pop) just opened” was a 1968 moment shared by a bianchi enthusiast. This because it is creamy and lemon-lime on the front end, then has almond, hazelnut, pineapple, orange pith, and much sweetness, with a long finish. “A mid-afternoon pick-me-up,“ said an inveterate reporter. “Better with food,” replied our host (reporters just drink?). “Nasty” they said an hour later……..
- 2007 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza - Italy, Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Erbaluce di Caluso
Another oxidation challenge, but this opened and improved with time. Initially with a nose of moss and slight oak, here was much acidity and hints of honeysuckle, almond, citrus, and petrol, and much tartness. After an hour it developed a rich nose, almost a Sancerre quality, with good balance, ripe fruit, and refreshing pear and citrus flavors. Grapefruit, lemon-lime, herb, and nuttiness were also observed.
Liguria and Lombardia
- 2006 Bisson Ciliegiolo Golfo del Tigullio - Italy, Liguria, Golfo del Tigullio
Fairly easy to drink with some sweetness, this drank a bit like a Vermentino, was mineral-driven and oily, and developed bitter orange, citrus rind, and honeysuckle notes. Some thought the wine too acidic and with a rubber character, others found it pleasing and easy to drink.
- 2006 Bisson Pigato Colline del Genovesato IGT - Italy, Liguria, Colline del Genovesato IGT
A light, low-acid wine which was enjoyable and interesting for tasters, with lots of peach and floral notes. Lightly oxidized and nutty in a good way, with a light copper color, tasters found peach jam, apricot, white peach, nectarine, green grape, light lemon, canteloupe, nectar, pear, and dried fruit flavors. Several commented on its low acidity among our many Italian bianchi. Did someone really write “gym toes,” then “under-ripe” crossed out into “over-ripe”? U betcha! Yum.
- 2006 Bisson di Piero Lugano Cinque Terre Marea - Italy, Liguria, Cinque Terre
A blend of several traditional local grape varieties (Bosco, Vermentino, and Albarola). With a hint of petrol on the nose and front palate, some crisp acidity, and a short finish, this was rather non-descript. The wine had good structure and some melon, pear (pear-peel), and marzipan flavors but over-all was flat on the palate.
- 2006 Bruno Verdi Oltrepò Pavese Vigna Costa - Italy, Lombardia, Oltrepò Pavese
A "Riesling Renano," (an Italian sub-variety of riesling), this wine was quite enjoyable and a favorite among the 42 "under-the-radar" varietal wines in our salon. Like a warm weather riesling, which we like in Texas, it had a purple flower, vanilla, spicy nose, a medium body, and sweet and bitter orange fruit, as well as peach, flower, and nectar on the palate. It improved as it sat in the glass, though it retained a bit of the glycerin, kerosene character of a German riesling.
Veneto, Emila-Romagna, and Trentino-Alto Adige
- 2006 Fama Winery Breganze Fiororange - Italy, Veneto, Breganze
"Yes!" Well, that was one taster’s notes. “Taking the fifth,” was another’s. The Fama Fiororange (Maculan Dindarello) initially seemed a classic, simple moscato, with some light, lemon meringue, peach/pear/honey notes. But it gained complexity with air and might develop into quite an interesting wine with some age. After the wine had been open for more than an hour, it had a sauterne character, floral, lush, and round, and went great with the Gorgonzola—the flight favorite of the Yes group.
- 2008 Lini Lambrusco di Sorbara 910 Lambrusco Bianco Secco "Labrusca" - Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC
A light, effervescent aperitif wine, salty and lean with peach and green apple notes, no finish. It has some earth and citrus, maybe some lemon zest and nuttiness, but the lightness suggested it might be best for a brunch or light lunch.
- 2007 Branchini "1858" - Italy, Emilia-Romagna
With a buttery quality reminiscent of chardonnays, it had noticeable yeast and butterscotch, medium acid, and some tartness. With a woody sweetness and dustiness, the acid was a little off but it carried flavors of caramel, apple, crab apple, grapefruit, pineapple, sandalwood. It didn’t improve with food, probably because of the acidity problem.
Our largest salon to date, with forty attendees, we had a beautiful spring day to dine on some very fine cuisine and celebrate a grand cast of mostly Rhone wines. Cassie Williamson and Wolfgang Murber were our gracious hosts, giving us their one day off to open their restaurant to our passion and play. Wolfgang prepared a table featuring his charcuterie: a chicken liver pâté, a rabbit terrine wrapped in prosciutto, duck rillette with red onion marmalade and riesling gelee, wild boar sausage with dijon mustard and cornichons, pork pâté en croute, and a magnificent sülze (head cheese, a jellied loaf from the head of a pig....). Michael Vilim of Mirabelle Restaurant added eighteen braised lamb foreshanks with root vegetables and a large pot of Lyonnaise potatoes. And reliable James did us his fine salad. Spring had sprung.
(copied from Brian's Cellartracker post - http://www.cellartracker.com/event.asp?iEvent=10465)
Other Southern Rhone
"Not chateauneuf du pape," a look at some profound rhone (and a languedoc) regional appellations that compete for our attention.
- 1998 Domaine de Fontavin Gigondas Cuvée Combe Sauvage - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas
Tied as the favorite in a flight of very excellent "other southern Rhone," this is a rare Gigondas. The tasters were all over the place on this one: some thought it young, some past its prime, and some thought it just right....a bit like the three bears. We'll start with the fans of this wine, of which there were several. The restauranteur and former wine sommelier thought it was the most complete wine of the day, with gorgeous perfume and beautiful fruit, nice mid-palate and finish, and a bigger palate than the nose indicated. Red fruits with bacon grease/fat and quite spicy. I remember having a bottle of this wine two years ago at the Salt Lick barbecue joint and it was great with the brisket and short ribs. Others thought the wine round and easy, with strawberry and a mineral component, anise and licorice, cocoa, bitters, licorice, chocolate and light cherry notes. The wine was friendly, though a couple of people thought it finished short and even medicinal. This would be a fine wine for a "Guess when this wine should be drunk" session. Which is quite typical of many gigondas's (and good grenaches). (5 views) (92 pts.)
- 2001 Patrick Lesec Vacqueyras V.V. Cuvée Jean de Lagneroux - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Vacqueyras
The least favorite of a very good line-up of other southern Rhone, this was quite drinkable and showed no flaws, but was rather dull. A leather and gamey red fruit nose, with some graphite, flavors found included green olive, leather, dried cherry, root vegetable, tomato leaf, and cranberry. Most thought this wine was towards its drinkability end, as the acid was low, it was light, and fell short at the end. A good value from a producer with an interesting portfolio of southern Rhone wines, including some very good chateauneufs. (90 pts.)
- 2003 Alain Jaume & Fils Lirac Clos de Sixte - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Lirac
The favorite of two tasting groups, and the least favorite of one group, among a flight of southern Rhone wines, this looks like an outstanding value as it was the least expensive wine of the night. Most tasters thought this wine needed more time. It had a soft, subtle candied cherry nose with big, sweet, ripe tannins. It had blackberry and dark cherry and chocolate flavors, high acid, good balance and alcohol. Some tasters thought it syrupy, with plum, honey, and licorice flavors. Floral and chalk notes were also detected. The wine was a pleasant surprise for most. (91 pts.)
- 2001 Domaine de l'Oratoire St Martin Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Réserve des Seigneurs - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne
Almost the favorite in a flight of other southern Rhone, this wine is "very interesting" and a great value, a chateauneuf wannabe. It had "a beautiful nose," a bit hot, and was quite exotic. Tasters noted that it had lots of acid, tasted of orange juice, citrus, pine cones, evergreen, peach, and herbs. Some thought it funky and sharp, from the high acidity--even described as "a love/hate wine." This sounds like it might be best with some sausage and charcuterie from the region. (91 pts.)
- 2000 Prieuré Saint-Jean de Bébian Coteaux du Languedoc - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc
With such a pedigree, with grapes from Hermitage, Trevallon, and Rayas, I thought this would capture the flight of other southern Rhone, but alas and a lack, it was near last. "Himalayan mountain goat blood," with good balance was one re:Mark. The three groups who tasted the wine were quite divided about it. The pros found it had an asphalt, tarry character, nice body and smoothness, with baked red fruit, earth, hint of chocolate, and some herbs--several noted it had very good balance. The cons, all two of them, thought it disjointed and funky. I think I'll hold the other bottle for several years, as the older gigondas and chateauneufs performed very well in this tasting. (89 pts.)
Other Northern Rhone
One of the best flights of this salon, we added a new Washington syrah to taste alongside a couple of noteworthy young syrahs from the northern Rhone. If this hadn't been a "definitive" Rhone salon, we'd have opted for an all Cornas flight here........
- 1985 Noël Verset Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
Not as interesting as an outstanding 1990 Clape cornas next to it (which might have lowered this score), the 1985 drank well now but may have been better a couple of years ago. It had a lean elegance, with a floral component complemented by a visit to the meat market. Spice flavors were noted: white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, marjoram, rose petal. For one veteran the 1985 was reminiscent of cherry lifesavers (with black raspberry undertones). Purple plums, kirsch, red currants, stewed cherries, and blueberry were also noted. In fact, this wine had a subtle smorgasbord of flavors: bacon fat, tree bark, animal fur, fat, smoked meat, horse hair, old leather, along with all the fruit and spice. With its fruit on the decline, you might drink up and taste the nuance. Or dry age your meat. Yes, old cornas delivers a very interesting and unique syrah. (90 pts.)