Friday, February 26, 2016

Report from: Anteprima Vernaccia di San Gimignano – February 17, 2016

Gorgeous little town this San Gimignano, the streets, the walkways, the views from the hillsides, back alleys and cute little shops … sadly at the time of my writing this I can’t show you any of it – I lost my camera and as one Italian resident pointed out during my search, “If this were say Scotland, you’d get it back, but this is Italy” – turns out he had lost his camera in Scotland and days later it was returned to him in Italy … God bless the Scots.

What I didn't lose were my notes from the Anteprima of San Gimignano – their 50 Anniversary of being a recognized DOC (the first in all of Italy - 1966) and then upgraded to DOCG in 1993. 

Today 38 producers stepped up to their tables pouring the preview of the most recent vintage (2015) – most were about a month away from being bottled – though some will wait longer.  Below is a list of the wines I thought showed a lot of promise for the coming year (I do not rate them because a lot can happen between tank and bottle) but I do think these wines will be something special … plus I rate a few older vintages that are quite delicious.  Will we see them in Ontario? Probably not, but they are worth keeping an eye out for, if you are ever kicking around the world (or better yet in Italy visiting San Gimignano).

Promising Bottlings … Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015

Cantine Guidi 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Fattoria Abbazia di Mone Oliveto 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Fattoria di Pancole 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano “Selvabianca”
Lucil Libanio 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Mormoraia 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Palagetto 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Tenuta La Vigna 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano – my favourite of the Anteprima Vernaccia
Tenuta Le Calcinaie 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Honourable Mention Anteprima Wines …

Cesani 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano - he says it is bottled, but needs 2 months to come out of bottle shock … I thought it was pretty good and could only get better
Poderi del Paradiso 2015 Vernaccia di San Gimignano - again it is going through some bottle shock but should be worth it once it comes out

Previous Vintages and Current Offerings …

Cantine Guidi 2014  Vernaccia di San Gimignano …
Lively with good acidity, a mouthful of ripe and juicy Bosc pears.  (*** ½+)

Fattoria San Donato 2013 Vernaccia di San Gimignano …
Grapefruit rind, canteloup with a slight buckwheat honey note.  (*** ½+)

Panizzi 2014 Vernaccia di San Gimignano “Vigna Santa Margherita” …
Half of this wine spent 6 months on lees while the other half spent 6 months in neutral oak, then they were blended; the results are quite fruity with melon and pear notes, good acid backing and a hint of vanilla.  (****)

San Benedetto 2013 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva …
I was surprised to learn this was the winery’s first reserve wine ever made, it showed a real freshness, even after 18 months in “used wood”: floral, peach cobbler, a little vanilla and couple-hour-old apple core. Nice depth.  (****)

Tenuta La Vigna 2014 Vernaccia di San Gimignano …
An award winning wine and their 2015 was my favourite of the Anteprima wines – this 2014 still smells and tastes like fresh white fruits with a little bit of a honey note that is very inviting.  (*** ½+)

Tenuta La Calcinaie 2013 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva “Vigna ai Sassi” …
10% Chardonnay goes into this Riserva, all stainless steel fermented and aged with 3 years of lees contact: apple skin, vanilla and an almost spicy note – it feels like oak but has the freshness of steel, this one’s quite yummy.  (*** ½+)

Tollena 2011 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva “Signorina Vittoria” …
Nice weight in the mouth with notes of pineapple core, honey and melon rind.  (****)


Monday, February 22, 2016

Report from: Profile Portfolio Tasting – September 29, 2015

Top 25 wines that I tried (broken down into country – but in no particular order) … there were hundreds of wines in the room but these are the ones that “spoke” to me and my palate (louder and clearer than the rest).

Bersano 2010 Barolo Nirvasco, Italy ($29.95)
Good fruit, herbal, sour cherry and a little bit smoky; well-structured.  (****)

Bersano 2007 Barolo Riserva, Italy ($76.95)
Rich, ripe and fruit driven with great spice and a dark fruit linger with pepper on the backend.   (****+)

Fantinel 2014 Spumanti Prosecco Brut “One & Only”, Italy ($23.95)
Only 48,000 bottles are produced from this single vineyard offering:  great minerality and freshness with citrus, mac apple and good acid balance – not your same old same old Prosecco here.  (****)

Fantinel 2011 La Roncaia Refosco, Italy ($41.95)
2 years in barrel, 100% new but with very low toast has created a wine with coffee/mocha, black cherry, pencil shavings, boysenberry … a great marriage of fruit / spice and acidity.  (**** ½)

Cesari 2011 Bosan Ripasso, Italy ($34.95)
Great aromatics of Ripasso lead to a palate of cocoa, mocha, spice and black cherry.  (****)

Poggio al Tesoro 2010 Dedicato A Walter, Italy ($104.95)
7th release if this 10 barrel selection, special offering which is dedicated to the owner’s brother: herbal and olive aromas (trees are planted every 9 rows in the vineyard) great spice, tobacco and mineral – lovely.  (****)

Castello di Querceto 2009 Romantic, Italy ($199.95)
A three grape blend of Petit Verdot (50%), Merlot (30%) and Syrah (20%) aged for 24 months (Merlot and Syrah) and 36 months (Petit Verdot) – meaty, gamey, cassis, white pepper with nice tannin grit and some anise seed on the mid-palate. Only 3000 Bottles produced.  (****)

Farnese 2012 Edizone 14, Italy ($40.95)
Deep, rich dark fruit, smoky-mocha, plum and vanilla with hints of coffee on the lengthy finish.   (****+)

Velenosi 2010 Roggio del Filare, Italy ($38.95)
Name of the wine means “Fire” and is made up of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese from 45 year old vines and aged 18 months separately in 1 year old barrels: deliciously red fruited with vanilla, cherry, plum and a touch of smoke, all with a licorice finish.  (**** ½)

Velenosi 2011 Ludi, Italy ($52.95)
Made with Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot from 38 year old vines, aged 24 months in oak: mocha, chocolate, spice, blackberry and cassis … quite delicious.  (****+)

La Gerla 2014 Poggio Degli Angeli, Italy ($23.95)
Sour cherry, raspberry, light and easy fruit with a touch of something herbal.  (*** ½+)

Juan Gil 2014 Bodegas Ateca Honoro Vera, Spain ($15.95)
A light and easy Grenache aged only 2 months in oak from 50+ year old vines: fresh, lively and truly delightful – red fruit, deep rich and gorgeous, what the real draw here is the boat-load of cherry fruit on the mid-palate to the finish.  (****)

Juan Gil 2014 Bodgeas Atalaya Laya Red, Spain ($14.95)
70% Garnacha and Tinto Rera with another 30% Monastrell aged 4 months in oak: mocha, cherry, strawberry, vanilla and a hint of white pepper.  (****)

Juan Gil Bodegas Tridente Entresuelos, Spain ($17.95)
100% Tempranillo with herbal, tobacco and a little raspberry and smoke on the finish.  (*** ½+)

Juan Gil 2013 Bodegas Ateca Atteca Old Vines Grenache, Spain ($24.95)
80+ year old Grenache aged 10 months, this is a true delight: rich dark fruit, plum, vanilla, and white smoke; the deep rich fruit caresses the tongue with flavour.  (**** ½)

Renwood 2012 Zinfandel, Fiddletown, California ($24.95)
Plum, cherry, mocha-chocolate, cola all with a little sweetness but quite nicely balanced by the acidity.  (****)

World’s End 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Crossfire, California ($166.95)
Rich cherry, plum, blackberry, black cherry and vanilla – very sweet fruited.  (****)

Chappellet 2013 Mountain Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, California ($54.95)
It says Cabernet blend on the label, but Merlot dominates at 43% with Cabernet Sauvignon being only 34% and even with the addition of Cab Franc (5%) it’s still only 39% in total … and don’t forget the Petit Verdot and Malbec in here as well – all aged 17 months in oak; smoky, cassis, hint of vanilla, plum, blackberry all with an elegant spiced finish.  (****)

Miner 2011 Chardonnay, Wild Yeast, California ($51.95)
I’m a sucker for wild yeast and here’s a Chardonnay with 12 months in oak (30% new) both barrel fermented and aged and has gone through 100% malolactic fermentation: peach pit, apricot, pear, vanilla, yellow plum with creamed pineapple and butterscotch on the finish.  (****)

Miner 2012 Pinot Noir, Garys’ Vineyard, California ($59.95)
Light and delicate in colour with raspberry and strawberry, hints of tart cranberry and a white pepper on the finish – it’s clean and delicate with refreshing acidity.  (****+)

Peter Franus 2013 Zinfandel, Brandlin Vineyard, California ($59.95)
Vineyard was planted in 1920:  90% Zinfandel with Mourvedre, Carignan and Charbono rounding out the rest of the grapes; it’s also dry farmed which (amongst other things) helps to concentrates the aromas and flavours in the finished wine.  Layers of flavour including plum, black cherry, vanilla-cola, mocha and a mid-palate minerality that’s just “wow”-good, it closes off with a luxurious finish.  (****+)

J. Lohr 2013 Petite Sirah, Tower Road, California ($37.95)
There’s also 3% Syrah in this wine, it’s bold and fruity: blueberry, black cherry, vanilla, all with a nice red fruit middle and a dry black fruit finish.  (****)

J. Lohr 2013 Pinot Noir, Falcon’s Perch, California ($28.95)
Fruit for this wine comes from the cooler region of Monterey and 17% of the wine sees 3rd fill barrels to keep things fresh and fruit forward:  lots of cherry yet really very delicate – it’s one of those by-itself Pinots you would happily just sit and sip on.  (*** ½+)

Young Inglewood 2012 Right Bank Blend, California ($123.95)
Winery was bought in 2007 and the first vintage was 2009 … 61% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot spent 2 months in new French oak:  smoky tobacco, blueberry skin, cassis and plenty of black pepper on the finish.  (****)

Long Meadow Ranch 2013 Pinot Noir, Farmstead, California ($52.95)
The first thing that grabs you is the great acid and pepper note, then there’s the cran-cherry tartness and the mineral / floral backing – good fruit and great length.  (****)

The Wine Review - Ep. 41: Wines of Substance 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Report from: Anteprima Del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Feb. 18, 2016

79 wines in total tasted all broken down into 4 categories: 

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013 “selezione”
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – annate precedent (previous vintages ranging from 2012 to 2007)

The first three categories were also split between barrel and bottled samples (though on second glance there was also one in the last category - strange) …

The following were my star-rated scores for the bottled wines followed by list of the barrel samples that show potential for the future (all wines were tasted blind – knowing just the vintage and category):

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013 - (43 wines in this category)…

Three-and-a-Half Stars (*** ½)
Antico Colle 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Bocarelli 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Casale Daviddi 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Dei 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Le Bertille 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Lunadoro “Pagliareto” 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tenuta Trerose “Santa Caterina” 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tenuta Valdipiatta 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Three-and-a-Half Plus Stars (*** ½+)
Avignonesi 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Nottola 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Romeo 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Four Stars (****)
La Ciarliana 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Poliziano 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Potential for the Future (barrel samples) …
Fassati 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Fattoria della Talosa 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Casa Vinicola Triacca 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Santavenere”
Godiolo 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Il Macchione 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Icario 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Lombardo 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013 “Selezione” - (5 wines in this category)

Bindella 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “I Quadri” (*** ½+)
Tenuta Valdipiatta 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Vigna d’Alfiero” (showing potential)

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012 “Riserva” – (13 wines in this category)

Casale Daviddi 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (*** ½)
Le Berne 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (*** ½+)
Lunadoro 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva “Quercione” (****)
Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (****)

Potential for the Future (barrel samples) …
Carpineto 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
Fattoria della Talosa 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
Icario 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva “Vitaroccia”

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Annate Precedenti – (17 wines in this category)

Fassati 2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Selezione “Gersemi” – (****+)
Salcheto 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Selezione “Salco” – (****)
Palazzo Vecchio 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Selezione “Terrarossa” – (*** ½+)
Romeo 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Riserva dei Mandorli” – (****+)
Boscarelli 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva “Bianca” – (****)
Il Macchione 2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva – (****)

Behind the scenes sommeliers gather the wines

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Wine Review - Ep. 40: Pasquale 2012 Pinot Gris

Report from: Ravenswood Tasting with Joel Peterson - Nov 16, 2015


As founder of Ravenswood Joel has some pretty interesting stories to share. He started the winery at 40 years of age (1976) and while many of his contemporaries are eyeing up retirement he says: "It's hard for me to ever consider [it]".

Joel got into wine at an early age and mostly because of his parents' love of it: his mother's first wine was a 1945 Chateauneuf-du-Pape (that's why mom loved the fermented juice) and he helped his dad simplify wine describing terminology at age 10 (as an official sniffer).

Joel Peterson (Nov. 16, 2015)
To keep his winery dream afloat Joel held down a second job till 1992. He saw his first profitable year (on paper) in 1987 and until 1982 when he open his own winery he was a "nomadic" winemaker - making his wines wherever he could.

He started with Zinfandel for two reasons: it had a past (arrived in California 1852) and by 1888 was the most planted variety, and it definitely had a future. He has a theory about Zinfandel that I have never heard before, but does make an awful lot of sense: "What ever you make you're always going to be compared to Bordeaux and Burgundy, except when it comes to Zinfandel." 

The 8 wines we tried - all Zin (no pink)

He calls Zinfandel a "chameleon" because it really takes on the character of the site it is planted on - and Joel should know because he makes quite a few single vineyard offerings. Today he makes 800,000 cases from 1000 acres of grapes.

Today's wines were both a look ahead and a look behind at the work of Joel Peterson and his icon Ravenswood (you will notice no wimpy or pink wines in these reviews) :

2014 Besieged
Known as a blend of "Mixed Blacks" - sounds racial but actually means: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Alicante and a few others ... traditional California field blend: Dark purple/red in colour with sweet black cherry and plum on the nose; ripe round chocolate-cherry, plum and vanilla on the palate. (*** 1/2+)

2013  Lodi County Series
20% new French, Joel is a fan of oak but only as a perfume on the wine. Aromas of black cherry, white pepper and hints of spice; good acidity on the palate with black cherry, plum and a blueberry-earthy type finish. Primarily made from 80 year old vines with a little Petite Sirah and Carignan added for depth.  (*** 1/2)

2012 Dickerson Vineyard
The Dickerson Vineyard is located in Napa on Zinfandel Lane and was planted in the 1920's ... the 2012 has aromas of strawberry, violets and mint (not surprising says Joel because there's a eucalyptus tree on the property); palate is strawberry, raspberry, cherry with hints of plum and violets on the finish - this is a very pretty Zin.  (****)

2006 Dickerson Vineyard ... mint, strawberry and raspberry lead things off; there's a little oak on this one and it's apparent along with earth, strawberry, pepper and raspberry that also show up - it's still quite powerful and intense.

1999 Dickerson Vineyard (from Magnum - 1500ml) ... a mint and tarry character start it off but gradually dried raspberry and herbal notes materialize ... palate is smoky with plenty of dried red fruit, herbal and pepper - very Barolo-esque.

2012 Old Hill Vineyard
Joel started making this wine in 1982 - the vineyard itself was planted in 1861 with some different different varieties, 75% Zinfandel and 25% mixed blacks (some of the grapes in this vineyard haven't even been DNA tested yet, so who really knows what's in here): Chocolate, cherry plum and white pepper followed by a rich plummy note with spices, cherries and great acidity making the whole thing a treat to drink - exceptionally pretty and pure; bright and flavourful ... simply put this wine was stunning.  (*****)

2006 Old Hill Vineyard ... aromas have a touch of plum and wood  but come across very Port-like; the palate has a sweetness of fruit with vanilla and dried cherry backing it up on the long finish.

1999 Old Hill Vineyard ... incredibly youthful wine with aromas and flavours that seemed much younger than the previously tasted 2006: chocolate, plum, black cherry all lightly smoked with a touch of vanilla added to season along with a dollop of sandalwood ... gorgeous for a 15 year old Zin, must another reason why I love this grape.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ontario Wine Review Video #161: Sanson 2012 Baco Noir Reserve

Ontario Wine Review Video #160: Thirty Bench 2013 Rieslings

Ontario Wine Review Video #159: Muscedere 2011 Meritage

Ontario Wine Review Video #158: Peller 2012 Cabernet Franc, Private Reserve

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