WINE OF THE WEEK #084
today I will be taste the last wine of my summer freestyle theme.
On the wine trip I did with my parents in the beginning of July, and after stopping at Lavinyeta (see Wine Of The Week #082), we continued our trip to the destination of our holidays : Priorat.
Since I knew we were going there, I launched a request on twitter to help me find good wineries to visit, hoping that a smart wine maker would reply. I say smart because I believe scanning social media for people who want to hear your story is essential nowadays. And yes! I got one reply, from the Sao del Coster winery in a small village called Gratallops.
Visiting the vineyards around the village makes you quite humble. The landscape is so rough, hot and difficult to cultivate that I can’t believe people are working the vines day after day following their passion. You have to be rather crazy to depend on the crops of these old vines, but that’s exactly what they did at Sao del Coster.
They went after vineyards in Priorat that were forgotten and as the wine maker Fredi Torres learned us, a vine that has been left alone for a long time is in a state of coma. So after 3 years of waking up the vineyard, and get nature back up to speed, they had enough fruit to fill up one, that’s right “ONE”, barrel. A normal person would feel discouraged, but 2 years later however, the old vines came back to live and now they produce amazing wines.
(Fredi explaining us how they work the vineyards)
The wine that I am going to taste today is by far the most expensive wine I have featured on my blog so far. You all know that I focus on wines between €8 - €14 , because I believe that’s the sweet spot for the wine industry. But if you see the hard work and dedication I am willing to go beyond the sweet spot, because I believe it will taste even sweeter.
This wine, Terram 2007, was €25 at the winery and is a blend of Cariñena, Garnatxa, Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Syrah.
I expected a very dark, almost black wine, given the grape varieties in the blend. But, the wine looks fresh, has a nice transparent cherry red and is very clean. Looking good!
First and foremost, there is a very big punch of dust. I can almost smell the hot schist pebbles of the vineyards again.
Next on the nose is a pack of herbs : aneth, laurel, rosemary and I can even smell tabasco. I don’t know the ingredients of tabasco, but it does smell a bit like it. (in a nice way)
Burnt cherries and plum are just small parts of the overall experience, so I would not describe the wine as fruity. There are even hints of hazelnut and licorice to be found. The nose has amazing energy and volume to it, and I could get lost in my glass right now. And that’s probably what I’m going to do tonight in the couch.
The wine coats your palate at first, but nothing really happens.
Until … wham! Acidity comes rolling in, the tannins grip and are super gentle, and everything is into place to start the flavor show. The wine is so packed with material that it becomes almost hard to swallow…but that’s me drinking the wine a bit too warm. 2 degrees cooler, the acidity is more present and the wines becomes a lot more drinkable. Oops.
What I find amazing about the mouthfeel is that the wine almost shows cold climate elegance combined with the robust power of the grapes and the terroir. A very interesting play.
The finish is just like the rest of the wine packed with material. The notes that keep coming back are hazelnut and burnt plums, but in the meantime the wine is so dynamic that your impressions are constantly on the move.
I have to say that this is a fantastic bottle of wine. In the beginning it was way too overpowering for my rather subtle palate. It is definitely not a wine to drink and empty the bottle in 30 minutes, but rather a wine that asks small portions and lots of sips. But I can tell you, once you get used to the power, you just keep on taking sips, filling your glass up again, and sip a bit more. And the key to this addictive aspect is, like I smelled on the nose, the combination of pure Priorat power with elegance.
Sao del Coster is a very nice discovery.
WINE OF THE WEEK #071
I’m back with another Nebbiolo wine and my box isn’t empty yet.
Today we are tasting from the NINO NEGRI winery, their cuvee LE TENSE (d.o.c.g. Valtellina Superiore Sassella) - 2007
As I told you in my previous post (wine #068) , the Valtellina region is located in Lombardy in Italy and the conditions are a bit like Douro, but the the frozen version of that Portugese region. The vineyards consist of slate and are located on slopes in a valley with an east-west orientation. It is optimal for the vines, but not for the winemakers. A lot of money is spent on equipement to work on the vineyards, all grapes are manually harvested and there are even winemakers who tried to work with helicopters to make the work on the vineyards less hard. Can you imagine?
This wine is aged in oak. After a short maceration of 4 days and a 2 months in stainless steel tanks, 80% of the wine is transferred in new and used oak barrels, and strangely enough, the other 20% is transferred in big Slovanian oak vats. I have no idea why they do it, but I am sure it will add some complexity and I am really curious about what I will find!!
I’m ready, are you?
The colour gets me all excited. This wine looks dense but is transparent at the same time. The same brown / brick shades as we found on the previous wines are combined with a nice viscosity. Yes!
First of all, I smell fresh red prunes all over my glass. The ones that are so juicy that when you bite, your hand and arms get all wet, and you feel little drops crawling up your sleeves.
It is clear this wine passed a part of his life in barrels. I’m not saying it has the typical oaky notes, but there is stuff and complexity going on you wouldn’t find in an unoaked wine.
Amazingly well integrated are notes of leather, coffee, musk, mushrooms (loving this one), rozes and a slight hint of caramel.
What I especially like is that all the notes are in harmony and very fresh and natural. You feel a great expression of nature, and nothing was forced or added in the lab.
Oh wow, this is so delicious.
I did not get an attack of acidity right away, but when I started to add oxygen in my mouth, it felt like I was sucking the juice out first, and flavour would follow next. And that is how it should be.
I cannot tell you one bad thing about this mouthfeel. Acidity is always there, the tannins are megasoft, no alcohol that spikes in the back of my mouth. It is one hell of a ride to taste this and I wouldn’t doubt one sec to score this 100%.
Caramel coffee, herbal syrup, leather. The finish is as amazing as the nose and the mouth.
This wine really has it all. Muscles, elegance, finesse, balance and complexity. Just a classic, authentic, well trained gentleman.
What a blast!
WINE OF THE WEEK #069
Hi Tumblrz, how are you all doing?
It’s been a small week since I’m back from my short trip to Turin in Italy. I really needed a break and I decided to go to the birthplace of Nebbiolo. I tried to taste as many Nebbiolo wines as possible, but mostly I ended up enjoying the sparkling wines from northern Italy, while Nebbiolo was more a struggle to enjoy. But, I must say, with the local food, the grape was awesome.
However, when I got back in Belgium, it was freezing cold here and I got a bit sick. I am still recovering, but since I was so curious about this next bottle, I decided to open it and just give it a go.
NINO NEGRI - Sassorosso - DOCG Valtellina Superiore Grumello 2007
When we talk about Nebbiolo, you would expect all wines I am going to taste here are from Piedmont in Italy. However, if you have a limited budget like me (and 99% of winelovers out there I guess), you have to search for treasures. In Lombardy, the wineregion right next to Piedmont, they also make wines from the Nebbiolo grape and because of the fact that they are a bit “under the radar”, you can find some great value wines here.
Today, we are tasting a wine from the Valtellina Superiore region, green n°5 on this map, and very close to the alps and the border between Italy, Switzerland and Austria.
To get an idea about the winemaking conditions, this is what you should keep in the back of your mind. It looks like Douro in the freezer :)
The wine I am tasting right now is made from 95% Nebbiolo and 5% Rossola. The first time I hear about this grape.
The wine stays, after fermentation, for 2 months in stainless steel. After this short period, 50% of the wine is transferred into 80 hl Slavonian oak vats and the remaining 50% is put into small oak barrels. This should give body and structure on the one hand, and finesse on the other.
Every year, only 30000 bottles are made from the Sassorosso vineyard.
I am curious to dive in, and I hope a first treasure shall be found!
This wine actually reminds me of one of the older Pinot Noirs I had recently.
Slightly transparent, but a deeper red in colour. The same brick / terracotta edges. All is still very red (not orange/brown yet), but definitely no purple edges anymore.
As I discovered in Italy last week, the nose of a Nebbiolo wine is really hard to describe. An expressive fruit bomb is not what you will find. A Nebbiolo nose is really subtle, and all the flavours seem to be extracted from the earth: soil, stems, leafs, plants…
What I find on the nose here is something that reminds me of a rosebottle / rooibos tea.
I cannot call this wine fruity, but there is an earthy fruityness to it, with again the feeling of smelling dried leafs.
After a while, and maybe because this bottle has been opened for more then a day now, I am starting to get some amaretto notes (similar to marzipan, or a mushroom note developed in a funky way).
The whole comes across slightly underextracted : could be the winemaking process, could be the vintage…
I am curious what this will give me in the mouth.
At first, I had absolutely no clue what to write here.
Nothing happened, I drank something that was nice in my mouth, felt like juice and came across a little fruity.
I wanted the wine to grip my teeth, to show some tannins and to develop flavour in my mouth, but that did not happen.
However, when I do some effort and I treat this wine like mouthwash - I get another story. :)
The wine does show some tannins, soft but present (just how I like it) and the overall balance between power and acidity is very good.
The overall feeling I get from the mouthfeel is fresh, elegant and delicate.
Towards the end, I get notes that are very typical for Nebbiolo :
tea and tobacco.
I guess this wine would pair very well with some foods, but overall I am feeling a bit disappointed. This wine is not expressive at all, and I have the feeling it does not like to be drunk. I feel absolutely no connection with the wine, although there where some interesting discoveries.
It’s a pitty to have another bronze medal, but it’s just how it is.
WINE OF THE WEEK #004
1884 RESERVADO, Mendoza - Argentina, SYRAH, 2007
This wine was made by Gustavo Marin, with grapes from Agrelo, a small village south of Mendoza at the bottom of the Andes. Check it out on the WINEMAP
Here are my tasting notes
Deep inky, almost black colour, with a purple-red & slightly transparent contour
Oak, pastry, vanilla and black fruit with secondary herbaceous & licorice notes
Firm tannin structure, pleasant acidity but not enough as the alcohol (13,8%) kicks in a bit too hard. Vanilla and blackberry jam are present as you breath out through your nose.
The finish is very watery at first, keeping the blackberry note but continues to develop towards a licorice note as an accent around the blackberry-pastry-vanilla.
An entertaining wine with a really good start but lacks some development throughout the tasting ritual.