My tasting notes of fine wines I have enjoyed.
As sublime a bottle of fine old claret as anyone has a right to taste. Aged to a perfect balance between intensity of taste and smoothness. A great colour, still a very full red with no hint of turning tawny. A hint of liquorice to the palate of one of my friends within an exceptionally full and rewarding quaff.
I enjoyed the bottle with friends here at home in London, right above my cellar where it has aged to such a graceful result. We shared a leg of lamb which I had roasted slowly with sprigs of rosemary from my garden, preceded by steamed globe artichokes fresh from France, with clarified butter and garden herbs.
We picked up a couple of bottles of this Grignolino di Piemonte DOC in Bardoneccia in Piemonte. It’s a light red wine from an estate to the south of Turin at Cisterna d’Asti. Uncorked, the aroma is light and fruity. Pouring in to the glass, the wine is strikingly light in colour, almost orange or even the colour of pomegranate juice.
We’ve been enjoying a variety of Rosso wines whilst touring Tuscany. This style of Italian red wine is capable of the finest, most smooth and most complex experience. Rosso is always 100% Sangiovese grape varietal. Variously cherry red or slightly tawny in the glass, Rosso wine ages relatively swiftly so the differences between a 2016 and 2013 are quite noticeable: the older wines being more rounded and less tannic with more complexity; left too long then the colour and aromas pale. Rosso wines also change rapidly, almost alarmingly, after being uncorked in the heat of a Tuscan evening; we have several times had the impression that the fantastic wine is deteriorating in front of us whilst the rural Italian kitchen struggles to supply its clientele.
Just now, May 2018, we found that Rosso 2016 is ready to drink, an “ordinary” 2015 is likely to be at its height whilst older bottles should be treated with suspicion except from a trusted cellar, in which case the bottle may be exceptionally fine, well in to the stratospheric class.
Gumpoldskirchen is small town to the south west of Vienna; the light soil at the foot of the limestone Anniger mountain (675 m.) of the Wiener Wald, but above the dark red soil of alluvial plain, has been yielding quality wines since Roman times. Production today is by a number of relatively small vineyards with varietals that are distinctive from the ubiquitous (in Austria) Grüner Veltliner. Austrian vine varietals are different and distinct from the French varietals largely because of the longstanding political separation of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire and the Burgundian kings, Napoleonic Empire and French Republic and, before that, the Papal Schism.
Walking around the vineyards, now in late April beginning to come in to leaf, it is striking how much other vegetation is tolerated. There are dandelions in flower and going to seed and small “weeds” with white flowers. I’m guessing these are tolerated for a combination of reasons including protecting the soil against erosion and maintaining the soil chemistry. The vines seem to be mostly quite young. Note the red tips of the vines in one photo and the gradient at the top of the vineyard near Schloss Gumpoldskirchen, now a hotel.
This was a great bottle. Classic Margaux. Old enough to be rounded and slightly tawny but not so old as to taste thin or musty. A fine nose, a forward taste in the mouth with a delicious after-taste that complemented roast goose for our Christmas Day lunch and followed on from Champagne Bollinger Spécial Cuvée that was a birthday present (thank you Jon).
This is a bottle I bought and selected myself - we’re moving on from drinking our way through my Father’s cellar. One more bottle of Château Rauzan-Ségla 1994 remaining in my cellar, it won’t be long before it too is uncorked.