Friday, November 27, 2009

Pio Cesare Barolo 2004

I'm pretty sure we were on our way to or from the Schooner Wharf Bar. Probably from. I think we'd just had lunch - probably fish-of-the-day grilled sandwich, washed down with couple of Red Stripes. The fish of the day was probably snapper, or mahi-mahi (otherwise known as dolphin, but not the cute, squeaky kind). So we wandered home and, as happens in the Keys, there was a sudden downpour. The sun had been beating down beforehand and suddenly there was that peculiar aroma - that rain on hot asphalt whiff. Former wine-merchanting legend (and current wine-making legend) Andy turned to me and said, 'Now there's a tasting note: rain on hot asphalt.'

The problem is, not a lot of wines smell like that.

Young Barolos, however, do often smell a bit of tar, and from there you can possibly arrive at rain on hot asphalt. With a little imagination.

The colour pleases me. It's that dark and brooding Nebbiolo that kind of looks like rust, but isn't, with illuminating brilliance at the core.

Earthy, smoky, meaty, tar-like nose with a core of sweet cherries, a touch of cranberry and perhaps just a whiff of rain-on-hot-asphalt. Truffles and wet fresh soil come through a bit with some air. Broody, youthful and enticing.

Incredibly tight knit on the palate. Those cherries and cranberries are inseparable from the secondaries - tar and liquorice, big mouthfeel and mouth-filling. This is so young and there's so much to come - it hums with its structure and those blank spots, those markers that hint at what's to come - that tar will soften to leather and that liquorice will fade to tobacco. At the risk of sounding a bit new-age-y, there's brilliant energy to this.

Needs about 10-15 years and it will be glorious. Very fun now.
Tasted 27/11/09 at Luvians Bottleshop.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chave Selection Saint Joseph 'Offerus' 2002

I am in-between jobs at the moment. It's only been a few weeks. I'm not watching daytime television and I'm not panicking yet. To occupy my mind and keep my palate nimble I'm spending a few hours a week developing a staff-training curriculum for one of Scotland's finest independent wine merchants. One of the most important things about teaching is determining what needs to be taught. In that sense, I suppose I've got quite a curve to attend to myself.

Faded violets on the edge without the light, with it there's a glimmer of ruby, and the violets lose their purple. And what's a violet without it's purple?

The nose is green pepper, muted olive tapenade and a smattering of forest floor. The fruit has turned stoney and there are plums and perhaps a fig or two lingering there. A tingle of minerality.

The palate is very much as it should be. 2002 was a bit of a shambles in the Rhône, and as such this is not going to last much longer. That said, it's not fading. Chave doesn't release rubbish. It's just made that shift, that twist from berry fruit to stone fruit, where the line is blurred between secondaries and primaries and you're not sure where the fruit ends and the tannins and phenols begin. There's that green-ness from the nose, that tang of black olive and the plums and figs, all wrapped in those velvety, plum flesh tannins and an underlying stone-yness. It's a nice, charming Northern Rhône with a bit of age.

*** (Part of me wants to give it ****, just for being true to itself)
Tasted 23/11/09 at Luvians Bottleshop

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tedeschi Rosso La Fabriseria 2001

It was with deep sadness that I discovered Tedeschi are no longer producing this fantastic wine. A classic Veneto red blend with just a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon (about 5%) to give it a bit of backbone, this was one of my true favourites during my early years in the trade. When I started it was £11 or £12 a bottle and by its last vintage I think it was about £17. I always lamented the price rising, but never resented it.

The core is deep still, though the edges begin to wane.

Broody nose with Christmas spice, cocoa and candied cherries. Touches of woodspice, dust and more savoury fruit. Candied hams, figs and more cherries.

At once complex and deep - dark fruits with sandalwood, bright bunches of summer cherries just beginning to soften. Mouthfilling and layered. The mouthfeel is reminiscent of cocoa with a touch of that dryness you get with good cured meats. Good length and good memories. A shame it's gone.

****(and an extra * for some good years and good memories)
Tasted 20/11/09 at Shorehead among good friends

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fontodi Vinga del Sorbo Chianti Classico Riserva 2004

The first time I tried this was, I think, the 1998 vintage. I'm pretty sure of it. Andy popped it open on a quiet night at the shop, probably six or seven years ago. He'd tried it at VinItaly and loved it, proclaiming it to be the best Chianti he'd ever tried. We swirled and bantered and read up on the estate and decided, damn; that was fucking good Chianti.

I bought this particular bottle in the vain hope of laying it down for a wee while, or longer. 2004 is meant to be fantastic and I've always liked giving good Chianti a wee bit of age, to let some of that tar turn to leather. Sadly at a dinner party recently I had been remiss in purchasing appropriate wine. A raid of my fine wine shelf ensued and thus we were treated to this old friend.

Crimson to the core - held up to the light it showed spectacular brilliance, gem-like, ruby.

The nose is intense, dark chocolate cherries with the dust that collects at the bottom of an old wooden wine box. The secondaries are still more about the feel; prickling the nostrils and surrounding that intensity of fruit, underlining it and putting two massive exclamation points behind it.

That dark chocolate cherry intensity follows through to the palate - it pierces with laser-like focus, the fruit and cocoa dominating the beginning and middle of the palate with perfect, proper tannins, dry as a bone and not a hint of green, cleaning up afterwards, stripping every spare lipid up from the tongue as it goes down. Delicious with the bangers n' mash but suited to even more hedonistic, rich, rib-sticking meals. Roast leg of lamb with a nice bit of crispy fat and such, adorned by roast tomatoes. That's classic, proper, old-world dryness, none of your sweetened tannins, no velvet yet, but with time it will come.

Tasted 5/11/09 at Shorehead