Tasting of mixed new releases with a few heavy-duty Super Tuscans included

Earlier in December I tasted a selection of recent releases on the Swedish market. This type of “purchase a ticket and taste the wines at your own pace”-tasting is arranged a number of times per year by a Munskänkarna, a large wine tasting club, in Stockholm. This type of Munskänkarna tastings always feature wines that are currently available. The very varied selection of wines makes these tastings a bit of a supplementary to other tastings that I attend (or arrange). Almost always, there’s an extra ticket that buys some additional higher-priced wines, that often makes up some kind of theme. This time, it was four Super Tuscans: Sassicaia and Ornellaia and their second wines.

Champagne

Veuve Fourny & Fils Blanc des Blancs Brut Premier Cru
Champagne (non-vintage), 100% Chardonnay. No information about base vintage.

The nose is mostly fruity with ripe yellow and green apples, citrus, some mineral, a hint of vanilla (that indicates oak barrel treatment).
The palate is dry with ripe green apples, some citrus notes, good acidity, some mineral, a hint of grapefruit bitterness and a long aftertaste that is dominated by green apples with some tartness.
Quite decent but falls a bit in-between a firm blanc de blancs style (since the oak treatment is noticeable in the nose) and truly foody Champagne style (for which it doesn’t have the weight). 86-87 p.
I wouldn’t have minded if the small bitterness hadn’t been there, and I have been more impressed by other releases from Veuve Fourny, which is an excellent producer.

Picture linked from Systembolaget. The same goes for the other pictures.

2003 Beaumont des Crayères Fleur de Prestige Brut 
Champagne, grape varieties 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. (Yes, this 2003 is a recent release in these parts, and at a rather moderate price.)

More full yellow colour than the previous bubbly.
Nose of ripe yellow fruit with some vanilla, some nutty aromas, and some notes that reminds me both of mature wine notes and Chenin Blanc – I think there’s some arrack lurking in the back.
Palate with ripe yellow fruit, yellow apples with some winter apple character, some nuts, rather good acidity, a hint of spice, and an apply aftertaste. Rather good body and creamy character to the palate.
The extremely hot 2003 vintage here definitely shows its somewhat odd character, so there are some other notes here than those that are the most commonly encountered in Champagne. 85 p.

Probably not a buy for those who’re looking for a “middle of the road” Champagne, but perhaps for those with a special interest in 2003s, those that wish to serve something that many will believe is something else than a Champagne, or those that usually enjoy Chenin Blanc notes.

By the way, Beaumont de Crayères is a small cooperative with members in the area of Épernay and in the Vallée de la Marne, the Champagnes of which are usually high in Pinot Meunier (they are 60% Meunier in the members’ vineyards). In this case, the composition is quite different, though.

Red wines

2011 Château d’Arsac
Margaux, Bordeaux, grape varieties 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.

Nose with blackcurrants, some dark plums, tar, liquorice and powdered graphite. In the background there are hints of some green and dusty notes and a tiny bit of volatility that doesn’t disturb but that together indicate a cool style and possibly a bit of traditional style (which I don’t think this producer actually has).
The palate is medium-bodied with blackcurrants, noticeable acidity/sour berry character, rather pronounced tannins, and a tannic aftertaste. Young and cool-styled at present, without the “stuffing” that makes some other Bordeaux wines more easy to digest when young. 86 p.

Can be consumed now by the tannin enthusiast or cellared for a number of years to make the classical mature Bordeaux notes emerge. 2011 isn’t really a “run for it and buy everything you can find” vintage in Bordeaux (unlike 2010), although many quite good wines have of course been made in this vintage as well!

2010 Mandrone di Lohsa
Maremma Toscana, Italy, grape varieties 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and 10% Alicante.

Nose with cherries, blackcurrants, slightly flowery notes and some sweet liquorice. More aromatic and less “muted” notes than the previous wine.
The palate is medium-bodied(+) with good concentration of fruit, cherries and some blackcurrants, fine acidity and tart berry character with a cranberry or lingonberry bitterness to match, and somewhat prominent tannins. A juicy aftertaste with cherries and other tart berries, and some tannins. Rather young, but drinks reasonably well now, 89 p.

Despite  80% Cabernet Sauvignon and not a single traditionally Italian grape in the bottle, this wine shows quite clear Italian character with cherries and more than a little “Sangiovese envy”, but it’s definitely a modern Italian!

2012 Château Lafon-Rochet
Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, 4th cru in the 1855 classification. Grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Powerful nose with blackcurrants, flowery notes with violets, some spice and a hint of herbaceous notes, chocolate as well as some leather and barnyard aromas that grow stronger with time in the glass. A young and elegant nose, definitely a modern style with a noticeable but well handled oak component, and unmistakably Bordeaux.
The palate is medium-bodied (+) with good concentration of fruit, fairly ripe blackcurrants, fine acidity, some spice notes, noticeable tannins and a berry-dominated aftertaste with blackcurrants and some tannins. Young, drinks reasonably well now, definitely has potential, 90+ p.

A quite pleasant Bordeaux in a modern style.

2011 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Tasted from magnum.

Nose with ripe dark plums together with blackcurrants and some blackberries, chocolate, hints of vanilla, and some barnyard aromas. A pleasant nose but rather prominent oak character – more than I usually find in Ridge wines.
The palate is medium-bodided (+) with good concentration of fruit and pronounced blackcurrant notes, spice, rather noticeable tannins, and an aftertaste with blackcurrants and some oak feeling. The palate is definitely more classically Ridge-styled than the nose! Rather young, drinks reasonably well now, but can develop and is likely to integrate the oak note better with some time in the cellar. 90(+) p.

2012 Domaine Garon Côte-Rôtie Les Triotes
Northern Rhône, grape variety Syrah.

The nose is lovely and very Northern Rhône/Côte-Rôte-classical with blackberries, cloves, freshly ground pepper and other spices, as well as violets and some mint.
The palate is medium bodied+ and berry-dominated with a good concentration of tart blackberries, pepper, cloves and other spices, rather prominent tannins that are balanced by the fresh  acidity, and a spicy aftertaste that also include the tart blackberries. Rather young, with a good balance and freshness, 91 p.

Could definitely be cellared, but I have a feeling that this wine shows itself from its best side already as young.

Around the time of this tasting, Domaine Garon had a large number of bottles stolen, as reported by Decanter.

2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cailloux
Southern Rhône, grape varieties 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 15% Syrah.

Berry-dominated nose with red currants, ripe strawberries, spices, slightly flowery and with just a faint touch of a volatile note (that surely is the beginning of a characteristic note that often can be felt in a Châteauneuf with some maturity).
The palate is medium bodied+ and berry-dominated with red currants, some ripe forest raspberries and cherries, good concentration of fruit, spices, a very light minty note and a touch of alcoholic fire, and somewhat noticeably tannins that remain in the aftertaste together with the spices. Although this wine shows its alcohol a bit more than the other reds in this lineup, the balance is definitely fine for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and I would put it on the well-polished side among its peers. Drinkable now but can be cellared. 90 p.

Red wines – Super Tuscans

2012 Guidalberto
Toscana, second wine of Sassicaia. Grape varieties 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot.

Ripe dark berry notes with blackcurrants, dark plums, some cherries, liquorice, slightly flowery notes with violets, and some chocolate and oak.
The palate is medium bodied+, berry-dominated notes with blackcurrants and dark cherries, noticeable acidity, spices with some pepper and liquorice, medium tannins of a polished character and rather well embedded. Well-polished, rather young, but with good approachability already, 90(+) p.

The nose reminded me rather much of a modern Saint-Émilion, but with less prominent oak than the Le Serre Nuove (below) and pleasantly enough without noticeable notes of alcoholic fire. The palate is more Italian, though, and includes tart cherry notes.

2012 Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia
Toscana, second wine of Ornellaia. Grape varieties 57% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, and 12% Cabernet Franc.

Definitely a dark and compact colour, darker than the previous wine. Nose with dark plums, some blackcurrants, fruitcake, some liquorice, some leather, spices, rather noticeable oak with coffee and chocoloate.
The palate is medium bodied+ with dark plums, dark cherries, some alcoholic feeling, spice notes with pepper, some tannins that are reasonably well embedded, and some oak. Rather young, drinks rather well now, but a highly modern wine that definitely is not for those that are sensitive to oak barrel notes in wines. 89 p.

2011 Sassicaia
Bolgheri Sassicaia, Toscana. Grape varieties 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.

Somewhat lighter edge than its little brother Guidalberto.
A big, warm nose with dark plums and blackcurrants, spices, rather prominent oak notes with chocolate and coffee.
Rather full-bodied palate with tart blackcurrants, some blackberries, liquorice, some pepper, noticeable tannins that however are freshened up by tart berries, and an aftertaste with tart blackcurrants and some tannins. Definitely a polished palate, young, has potential, 93+ p.

The nose shows a clear Bordeaux blend character, but rather than a “Cab nose” it’s a bit more right bank-style, i.e. indicates Merlot (which I know is not part of the Sassicaia blend). On the palate, the Cabernet dominance is more obvious. As is always the case with Sassicaia, it is a bit of a crime to drink it already on release, since this is a wine that really should be cellared.

2011 Ornellaia
Bolgheri Superiore, Toscana. Grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

Noticeably darker in colour than Sassicaia and a bit more compact.
A big, powerful and berry-dominated nose with dark plums, blackcurrants, salty liquorice, tar, and noticeable oak with chocolate and coffee.
Definitely full-bodied with a massive concentration of berries, mixed dark berries including blackcurrants and blackberries, good acidity, liquorice, noticeable pepper notes, powerful tannins that are made somewhat fresher mid-palate by the acidity, but that really linger on. Other than the tannins, the aftertaste is dominated by dark berries, liquorice and pepper. This wine is young, very modern, and distinctly massive, 94(+) p.

Very similar to a high-end, modern Saint-Émilion in both nose and palate. Although this wine is also highly modern, in my opinion it absorbs its oak treatment better than its little brother Le Serre Nuove. It is at least half a size bigger than Sassicaia (if not a full size), and actually has a tougher aftertaste.

Fortified wines

Williams & Humbert Dos Cortados Palo Cortado 20 Years
Sherry

Rather light amber colour.
Sweetish nose with orange zest, dried yellow fruit (fruit candy-style), walnuts, nut candy, some wax/honeycomb, and some flowery notes. Noticeably developed and oxidative notes, but with fine fruitiness and balance.
Dry palate, good concentration with orange zest, dried yellow fruit, some walnuts, some chalky mineral notes, good acidity, some spice, viscous palate, and a slightly fiery note. 90 p? (A bit difficult to score after the reds.)

Alas, it seems that too few today appreciate dry sherry of the oxidative styles.

2002 Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port
Douro

Dark red, rather compact colour.
Somewhat developed nose with cherries and mixed ripe red and dark berries, some liquorice, prunes and some raisins, and a light flowery note with violets. A typical Port nose.
Sweet palate, medium+ concentration with dark cherries, prunes, some blackberries, some raisins, rather noticeable spice notes with some pepper, and some tannins. Rather ready in development but with some tannic bite left, 89 p.

This is a quite pleasant Port in a reasonably mature phase, but it hasn’t quite the polish of “real vintage Port” from the best vintages. This is quite understandable since this is a so-called “Quinta Port”. In the vintages where the major Port houses doesn’t produce a “regular” Vintage Port (the one that simply carries the name of the house), they release a smaller amount of Vintage Port from their best vineyards, and often indicate which quinta (“farm”) that is the origin. Several of the houses also have the habit of releasing their Quinta Ports older than their regular Vintage Ports, i.e., they are more or less ready to drink when they are released.

Swedish version of this post

This entry was posted in Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Champagne, Chardonnay, Grenache, Merlot, Munskänkarna, Port, Sherry, Syrah, Tuscany. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tasting of mixed new releases with a few heavy-duty Super Tuscans included

  1. Great round-up. The Ornellaia 2004 was one of wines of the year

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