Saturday, 18 August 2012

Barbaresco: a (very) mini vertical

When I first tasted the 2007 Barbaresco from Nada Giuseppe it was alongside the 2008. The younger vintage was tighter and harder with more overt acidity - fair enough, it was the younger wine but this year I visited the family and tasted the 2008 against the 2009 which was ripe and forward.  Incredibly drinkable already, in fact.The 2008 remains more classic (I hope that's not just a euphemism) with a harder edge although this is a little more approachable than this time last year.

Last night provided an opportunity to taste the 2007 and 2009 to see how they stack up. The 2009 was true to recent form. The tannins are very soft and the fruit forward and rich. It's hard to see where this is going or, to be more precise, why you would want to take it on a long journey when it is so good now. I really can't fault it. The 2007 is still more approachable than the 2008 but has more obvious guts than the 2009 with some zingy acidity and dancing tannins. The fruit it quite similar - possibly there is a little more to the 2007 which seems to be in need of a few years to finish its evolution. By which time, of course, the 2009 will be long gone.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The evolution of a (Rhone) wine

Having been alerted to a new phase in the life of Raymond Usseglio's 2001 Cuvee Imperiale (Chateauneuf-du-Pape) I checked out my own stock to find I had enough of this to give it a try. Previous bottles have all shown good promise but they have all stopped short of actually delivering. Not so this one. The wine has put on a good deal weight since last time (when it seemed almost Beaujolais-like) and now has a rich but pure texture with full mouthfeel and tannins that wrap the wine perfectly. Now it is more Burgundian (and I am talking Grand Cru). The fruit has turned a corner or two too with richness and depth where there was once a question mark. This wine is now eleven years old and it has taken over ten of those years to get to this point. That's old school and, certainly, Stef Usseglio is making wines that show their promise much more obviously at an early stage so it is great to rediscover a classical wine - they don't make 'em like they used to!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Ventoux Viognier


Ciaran left Domaine des Anges last October after 13 years but not before he had vinified the 2011 vintage. Most of the wines are not ready for proper assessment yet (I did taste the white and rose back at Easter) but yesterday popped up to see his old boss, Gay McGuinness, and the new estate manager, Florent Chave, formerly of Domaine Brusset, to have a chat and taste any new wines. The one most interesting to me was the 2011 Viognier "Cherubin".

I have had an on-off relationship with this variety over the years, sometimes finding it exotic and frustrating at others. I used to abhor the oaked versions then find un-oaked wines too acidic. When Ciaran told me he was making Viognier starting with the 2010 vintage, I wondered how I would find the wine. That first vintage was aged 50% in third year barrels and 50% in stainless steel but I never got to taste it from the bottle as it sold out quickly (there wasn't a lot of it) so the 2011 is the first bottled Viognier from DDA I have tasted.

This vintage is aged 100% in old oak so much depends on whether you like the subtle flavour this imparts (it is subtle) and, more important, the texture it gives the wine. I do. The barrel means the acidity I have sometimes had a problem with is rounded out with a light creaminess but, because it is old oak, the lovely, exotic Viognier fruit is not overwhelmed. A decent drop indeed. That said, when I tasted it again later that day with Ciaran, he exclaimed he didn't like it at all. Oh well, there's no pleasing some people.