Thursday, 17 May 2012

CUWS E12 - Beni di Batasiolo & Molino di Grace

Wednesday 16 May 2012.

A selection of wines from Beni di Batasiolo & Molino di Grace presented to Cambridge University Wine Society. The tasting note below follows the order in which the wines were presented, prices are retail (inc VAT) to London Wine Deliveries.

2007 Batasiolo Spumante Metodo Classico
£17.64 | B

A 75/25 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, methode Champenoise.
Touch of yeast and development, green appley, neutral white stone fruits. Very ripe and large, fat fruit dominates the palate, huge fruit hit at the beginning; doesn't feel fully dry, low acidity; feels diffuse and lacks precision. In all, good balance and of some interest.

2011 Batasiolo Gavi del Commune di Gavi Granee DOCG
£11.34 | B+

Bright stone fruit, peachy, with some floral touches; decent aromatics showing. On the palate its clean with relatively high acidity, very fresh and nervy; citrus dominated flavour, but its quite simple and one dimensional. High toned, cheerful wine.

2009 Batasiolo Barbera d'Alba Sovrana DOC
£12.06 | B+

Plums, bright fruit; quite jammy and sweet on the nose, sweet licorice and dried herbs; almost smells confected / commercial; quite hot and high alcohol? Bright acidity, sour red plums and cherries, quite light in fruit and body; its too fleeting for my liking. Light, cheerful, hardly any tannins, you could even chill this ...

2008 Molino di Grace Chianti Classico DOCG
£14.36 | B+

Dark fruit, some plummy character, smells ripe and sweet; black peppercorn with earthy touches, cherry liquer too. Palate shows high acidity, sour red cherries; decent extraction, some grainy grip towards the finish; nice presence. A more clean modern style, its fruit forward and not rustic; pretty but rather simple.

2006 Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
£19.28 | B+(+)

Less primary fruit and brightness in the nose, replaced by some dusty earthy notes, sweet spice, peppercorn and herbs; theres almost a floral touch too, beautiful aromatics. More developed flavours, theres roudned red fruits but it takes back seat; mouthfeel is less edgy, much more polished, integrated feel; perhaps due to the time spent in barrels. Some grip at end, this will develop and open up with time, drink now- 2020+.

2006 Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva il  Margone DOCG
£25.20 | B+(+)

Dark brooding nose, dark primary fruits with sweet vanilla and black pepper spice; quite stalky / woody, licorice. Lots of fruit on the palate, quite spicy and more obvious grippy tannins; feels bigger and more muscular; verging on being too extracted / trying too hard. I fear this is aiming for power and in the process losing some of its charm and elegance, perhaps time will temper it; drink 2016-2025+.

2006 Molino di Grace Gratius Super Tuscan IGT
£30.24 | B+(+)

Only Sangiovese, this is basically a Chianti Classico DOCG but for some reason (marketing perhaps?) is branded as a Super Tuscan IGT.
Dark fruit and brooding, quite jammy black berries; but there is some aromatic notes, its quite complex; warming sweet spice with blackpepper too. On the palate, dark fruit dominates with vibrant acidity; good concentration and integration of flavours, nice mid palate presence; quite rustic, isn't over extracted; charming style and distinctly showing more complexity. This needs to unfurl, drink 2016-2026. Really good wine, but why couldnt they just call it a Chainti Classico DOCG?

2007 Batasiolo Barolo Base Batasiolo DOCG
£21.17 | B

Red fruit, some aromatic high notes which almost piercing, red cherry liquer; dusted black pepper with woody overtones. Fresh, high acidity, sour red cherry, plenty of grainy grip, tannins very much alive and kicking; red primary fruit dominates, unfortunately quite simple and straight forward flavours; though still  representative of an entry level Barolo

2006 Batasiolo Barolo Cru la Corda della Briccolina DOCG
£37.93 | B+(+)

Slightly darker fruit, ripe and sweet; sweet fragrant oak coming through, vanilla and the slight charring of oak; then spice and woody aniseed notes; charming, beautiful nose. Fruit is good, more noticeable grainy grip, the oak again comes though lending a a fuller, sweeter feel; nice balance but hasnt reached its peak yet; needs time for the flavours to integrate and open up; drink 2015-2025+.

2006 Batasiolo Barolo Cru Cerequio DOCG
£34.91 | A-(+)

Sweet, red fruit, quite forward on the nose; touch of woody notes and slight coffee earthiness; attractive nose, exuding rustic charm. Sweet red fruit with high acidity, nice length on the mid palate; not exactly big but its very focused and long; lovely intensity, red cherries dominate with sweet spice. Elegant and very charming, good potential for mid term aging, drink 2015-2025+.

2001 Batasiolo Barolo Cru Bofani DOCG
£34.91 | B+(+)

Dark fruit, some earthy and woody notes. Good fruit, dark primary flavours; bit bigger and more muscular, deeper extraction with slightly less freshness and acidity; feels much firmer and dense. Not as pretty or expressive as its older brother, but still has some future ahead, drink now - 2015+.

2000 Batasiolo Barolo Cru Bofani DOCG
£34.91 | A-(+)

Dark fruit, but nose is dominated by secondary aromas - earthy truffles, mushroom and leather, theres also savoury meaty / gamey nose, perhaps even sweaty; peppercorns still there, plenty of development. Red fruit on the palate, nice acidity still, red cherry still so bright and lively; concentrated flavours, long mid palate, theres a touch of grip at the end reminding you its got a future ahead of it. Expressive and complex, feels supremely integrated and together, such balance and poise; great stuff, drink now - 2017+.

2010 Batasiolo Moscato d'Asti DOCG
£9.83 | B

Lively effervescence; very grapey, sweet apples, floral and honeyed notes; primary characters showing. A desert wine, its basically alcoholic sweet grape juice; simple flavours, very cheerful; clean, not cloying and flows nicely.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

CWM - Joseph Perrier Vintage Champagne

A vertical tasting organised by Cambridge Wine Merchants of Joseph Perrier vintage Champagnes from their 'museum collection'. Hosted by Hal Wilson, Managing Director of Cambridge Wine and led by Martin Gamman MW of Joseph Perrier. All the Champagnes were served from magnums.

Cuvee Royale Non Vintage Brut

Fresh, rounded nose with only slight hints of biscuit and yeastiness. Feels rounded on the palate, with the autolytic characters of baked bread and brioche coming through; decent lemony acidity, keeping everything altogether very fresh and clean. Good balance, a classically styled Champagne.

Cuvee Royale Vintage 2002 (disgorged 2011)

Savoury, buttered toast, with baked bread, brioche and cheese notes too; still showing primary fruit aromas of green pears, apple peels and citrus; very appealing and complex nose. Rounded fruit, acidity is firm and structured, lending a slightly steely feel to this; not immediately expressive on the palate, but flavours are sustained, good length on the finish. Still showing the rough edges and nerve of youth, should open up with time; I wouldnt bet against this lasting as long as the 1982.

Cuvee Royale Vintage 1998 (disgorged 2008)

Quite closed on the nose, you've got to work quite hard - still primary fruit on the nose, green pears and apples again; some secondary notes also showing, but quite muted. Very gentle mousse; big acidity hit here, its large and expansive to start but doesnt last as long on the mid palate; slight oxidative / aged flavour profile beginning to show on the palate. Excellent balance but probably wont keep as long as the '02 or '96.

Cuvee Royale Vintage 1996 (disgorged 2009)

Beginning to take on more colour - all previous wines have been light straw coloured, this has some gold tinges to it. A developed nose - mushroom, brioche, baked cheese, some oxidative character as well; all underlain with hints of citrus. Such balance on the palate, no one thing dominates - acidity and fruit both expressive; feels opulent yet focused, properly structured; finessed and concentrated flavours. Still so fresh and lively, very 'together' - its drinking beautifully now but, undisgorged, will no doubt age another 10-20 years with ease.

Cuvee Royale Vintage 1989 (disgorged 2010)

Mid gold in colour; a very developed nose of baked brioche, mushroom and yeastiness, lots of secondary notes to go with the hints of citrus thats just about hanging on. Still fresh and lively but its beginning to show its age; the fruit is fading (but not gone), the secondary developed notes are beginning to dominate on the palate. Overall balance is still good but in comparison to its peers, this feels somewhat one dimensional and at this stage, a bit awkward - perhaps time to drink up?

Cuvee Royale Vintage 1982 (disgorged 2011)

Pale lemon gold in colour, distinctly paler than the younger '89. Bready and yeasty, hot buttered toast with marmite on the nose, very savoury and even nutty notes are showing; incredible secondary aromas coming through, in my mind more Burgundian than Champenoise; oh and theres still citrus fruit showing too. On the palate its fresh and lively, the savoury notes comes through but theres plenty of lemony acidity and primary fruit showing; you could almost call it powerful; yet theres still verve and vivacity; long, sustained finish.  Everything is so integrated; amazing freshness, quality and.longevity. Left me absolutely stunned; favourite wine of the evening.

Cuvee Royale Vintage 1979 (disgorged 2010)

Again pale lemon gold in colour, similar to the '82. Does smell more developed but slightly more madeirised nose, with a touch of aldehyde nuttiness coming through; the primary fruit is fading. Acidity is still lively; focused and perhaps even a bit lean; definitely more reserved than the '82, just isnt as opulent. The primary fruit is fading away, secondary notes dominate but isnt as expressive. Towards the end of its drinking window?

Some reflections

I dont often do this but I would like to add a few words about these old vintage Champagnes. The key here was that these wines had been stored their entire lives in magnums and most were recently disgorged (within a year or two or consumption) thereby minimising any bottle aging under cork. This is probably why all of them felt incredibly fresh and looked relatively pale in colour. If I were to buy the current 2002 vintage and cellar it properly, I doubt they will be anywhere near as fresh in ten or twenty years' time. With regards to the '82 and '79 - how they've managed to last so long (and still stay so damned good) is beyond me and it was indeed a great privilege to try these wines. In the words of a fellow (very experienced) taster 'Served blind, I would never have guessed in a million years that it was that old'. Bravo Joseph Perrier!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Left bank Bordeaux

An assortment of left bank Bordeaux, all bar the '76 Pichon Lalande were from the cellars of Downing College, Cambridge. Order below is the order in which I tasted the wines, which were grouped according to their regions. Very short notes and rather less technical than is the norm.

Chateau Haut Gardere 1996, Pessac Leognan - feels a bit hot but otherwise its rounded and giving, drink now.

Chateau Bernadotte 2000, Haut Medoc - Correct, but unremarkable on the palate, feels slightly hot for my liking as well.
Chateau Liversan 2000, Haut Medoc - Earthy, farmyard with burnt capsicum; pungent nose; rounded fruits, drink now - 2015+.
Chateau Cantemerle 1996, Haut Medoc - Earthy, woody also gamey edge, some primary fruit remaining; fleshy still, expressive and feels much younger than it actually is; impressive showing, will keep a while yet.

Chateau Lascombes 2000, Margaux - Seductive and fragrant on the nose; but lacks concentration and weight that you'd expect from a superb vintage, drink now - 2020+
Chateau Labergorce-Zede 2001, Margaux - Despite being from an overlooked year, this was expressive and keen to impress; mellowed out fruits, soft.
Chateau Malescot-St-Exupery, 1994 Margaux - Unfortunately beginning to fade away, drink up.

Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2004, St Julien - sweet woody, licorice and cassis; plenty of fruit, its dark, brooding and powerful, has yet to open up; still in its youth, this has a long and bright future ahead of it; drink 2017 - 2025+.
Chateau Langoa-Barton 2002, St Julien - cool nose, not very yielding, dark fruits showing; nicely integrated flavours, no one thing dominates, but feels rather one dimensional at the moment; in an awkward phase?
Chateau Langoa-Barton 1994, St Julien - has reached its plateau now, if anything probably towards the end of its drinking window.

Chateau Haut-Batailley 2003, Pauillac - perfumed and very lifted, sweet cassis and blueberries, expressive nose; good concentration, just beginning to open up; rather voluptuous, lively and delicious.
Chateau Haut-Batailley 2000, Pauillac - outshone by the 2003 in all departments, probably wont outlive it either ...
Chateau Pichon Lalande 1976, Pauillac - old, quite musty, capsicum and leather; very yielding on the palate, soft yet not faded; has held up surprisingly well ..

Chateau Beau-Site 2006, St Estephe - still rather closed and dense, texture feels quite dusty / sandy, has good potential.
Chateau Tronquoy-Lalande 1996, St Estephe - drinking nicely, feels evolved and settled; surprised at how well its held up, drink now - 2016+.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Champagne Louis Roederer

A tasting of Champagne Louis Roederer at Cambridge Wine Merchants, Cherry Hinton Road presented by the most entertaining and erudite Mark Bingley MW of Maisons Marques et Domaines Ltd, Roederer's sole UK importer / agent. Prices, where indicated are retail to Cambridge Wine Merchants, correct at time of writing.

NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier
£38.99 | A-

Classic nose: citrus overlain with yeasty and biscuity tones, theres some savouriness too, inviting. Palate is fat and persistent, trademark Louis Roederer richness and generosity on the palate; dosaged to 9 g/l lending it a fuller and filled in mid palate; acidity in check. Such balance and poise; you could drink this anytime and every time and wont be disappointed. If Champagne houses were to be judged by their NVs, then Louis Roederer has much to be proud of.

NV Louis Roederer 'Carte Blanche' Demi Sec
£38.99 | A-

Slightly more intensity on the nose, moving towards brioche and baked bread nose, I feel theres a little bit more development on the nose too. Off dry, dosaged to 24 g/l but if I were to judge it blind, I would have put it closer to 15 g/l; shows how integrated it is. Full, rich and generous; the acidity has been tempered but provides nice backbone; good concentration too. A beautifully finessed style, eminently drinkable.

2005 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage
£62 | A-(+)

Quite savoury on the nose; biscuity, brioche and baked cheesy flavours coming through; nice development going on. More concentration of fruit; flavours are more intense; everything just feels more structured (particularly its acidity) and taut without losing its generosity; persistent flavours. Still in its youth, I think this has many many years ahead of it.

2007 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage Rose

Very pale pink in colour; overtly fruity nose, ripe raspberries and strawberries showing, along with some citrus nose; theres also some of the classic Champagne yeastiness coming through - baked raspberry tart, anyone? Palate again is large and filling, but feels slightly creamier and more textured; still good precision, acidity keeping things fresh and flowing. Both the vintage Champagnes would pair well with substantial foods.

2004 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut
£175 | A-(+)

Nose leaps out of the glass: its developed with biscuity and yeasty notes, but followed by a savoury, nutty and creamy complexity that reminds me more of grand white Burgundies than Champagnes; hidden behind is good dose of citrus fruit; very expressive on the nose. Palate is intense, flavours concentrated; most textured on the palate, richness again but with persistent acidity; unlike the others, this still has hints of primary fruits showing, citrus and even white stone fruits; certainly the most complex, one which gives you something different in each sip, all while lingering on the finish. Beautifully integrated, bright and very long future ahead of it.