I don’t normally post on non-vintage Champagnes, but the quality of this Charles Heidsieck wine was quite compelling. Golden in colour, it has an overt and rather delicious aroma of biscuit and yeast. The palate is dry, fresh, has racy acidity, together with definitive lemon and cedar notes. This is a very attractive, special occasion style Champagne, that presents excellent value at around $95. Rating: Very Good. Abv: not recorded. Price: $95. Website: https://charlesheidsieck.com/en.
Here is a belated set of notes in relation to an excellent Barolo and Barbaresco tasting in May. My observations were, in no particular order: (i) the average quality of the wines was very high, (ii) the best wines had the firmest acidity and they were actually from both Barolo and Barbaresco (I had expected the Barolo wines would be a little firmer), (iii) the two 2013 vintage wines presented particularly well, (iv) the differences between Barolo and Barbaresco in blind tasting were very slight and (v) the future appears bright for the region, at least based on these wines. In terms of local comparisons, I am yet to taste an Australian nebbiolo that has a similar character, or is in close to the same league, in terms of quality. This differs from even pinot noir. Perhaps nebbiolo is a grape variety that does not travel well. This I think is worth some further thought.
And now the wines:
Tenimenti Fontanafredda La Rosa Barolo Serralunga 1999
First up, the oldest wine of the set. This 1999 vintage Barolo has aromas of cedar, luscious fruit even at 20 years of age, and florals. The oak is slightly obvious, but the palate has good length, and is earthy. Ready to drink now, this wine continued to evolve and improve in the glass. Rating: Very Good.
CA’ del Baio Asili Barberesco 2013
Considerably younger and from a classic year, this wine opens to aromas of cherry and redcurrant. The palate has very firm and pleasing acidity, great length and herbal undertones. This is a very good to outstanding wine, that can be approached now, but will benefit from a decade or longer in the cellar. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding.
Ceretto Barolo 2010
Aromas of earth, herbs and florals. The acidity is not quite as firm, but it has great length and complexity. This wine can be approached now. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%.
Benevelli Piero Ravera Barolo Monforte 2010
This wine has aromas of herbs, earth and florals. The palate has firm acidity and terrific fruit. Approachable now, but will suit extended ageing. Rating: Very Good.
Bruno Giacosa Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba Barolo 2007
In a very good group, the star of this wine shone brightest. It has a herbal and blackcurrant aroma. The palate has very firm acidity and is classical in style. In its drinking window, but this is still young at 12 years of age. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14%.
Gaja Barbaresco 2004
This wine provided the most sui generis expression of nebbiolo in this group. It has a herbal nose running into red currants, together with a soft liquorice character. On the palate, this is an approachable, lovely wine, with softer, but fine boned acidity. Rating; Very Good. Abv: 14%.
Roagna Pajè Barberesco 2013
This proved an outstanding wine. Intensely youthful, it is firmly coiled, but with evident fruit and a herbal overlay. The palate is tannic with long length and is particularly structured. This wine has a decade or more ahead of it and, for current drinking, ideally would benefit from a few more years of slumber. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding.
Barale Fratelli Serraboella Barbaresco 2010
Herbal, redcurrant, firm acidity. Well, not much to say then on this wine, but it left a favourable impression. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%.
This is a very typical expression of shiraz from McLaren Vale. The 2015 vintage of d’Arenberg’s “The Laughing Magpie” has aromatics of plums and spice. The palate has good density of fruit, fresh acidity and is brooding in bearing. This wine can be approached now, but will be best with aeration and short term (2-3 years) cellaring. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is an excellent pinot noir from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges and the 2017 vintage. It has a subtle and attractive aroma of rhubarb. The palate is restrained with racy acidity, but also has a plump cherry like viscosity. Burgundian in style, this is an excellent Villages level type pinot noir, that is ready to drink now. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $29. Website: https://www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.
2003 was a drought vintage in Bordeaux, and despite many of these wines being dismissed as a consequence, the vintage continues to provide very enjoyable drinking 16 years later. So some are wrong. Certainly, I would be a buyer of 2003s for current drinking. The 2003 Cos Labory has brooding aromatics of earth and cedar. The palate has reminders of licorice and earth, with good length and balance on the finish. Ready to drink now, this wine is in its best drinking window. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $70+. Website: http://www.cos-labory.com.
Coleraine Te Mata Estate from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand is regarded as a leading cabernet blend from this part of the world. The 2007 vintage here fell somewhat short of (high) expectations. Its aroma reminds of tomato bush and dried herbs and its palate is fully mature. It retains a quiet elegance and has a persistent if subtle length which is appealing. This vintage most closely resembles an aged Yarra Valley cabernet in style, which are generally available for far less. Ready to drink now, this bottle has entered a gentle decline. Rating: Good. Abv: Not recorded. Price: $90+. Website: https://www.temata.co.nz.
This is a bright pinot noir from Castle Rock Estate in the Porongurup region in Western Australia. It has a primary fruited aroma of cherries and spice. There is evident CO2 on the palate, which complements its chirpy acidity and gentle cedar influence. Ready to drink now, this is an approachable wine. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price $38. Website: https://castlerockestate.com.au. Source: Sample.
Fiano clearly works in the King Valley in Victoria. This is a correct varietal expression of fiano from De Bortoli with attractive lemon and almond aromatics. The palate is full bodied, savoury and has a subtle but firm acidity. Delicious and ready to drink now, this is a very good release. Rating: Good. Price: $20s. Abv: 12%. Website: https://www.debortoli.com.au.
I was not particularly taken by this wine, a grüner veltliner, from Weingut Bründlmayer in Kamptal, Austria. Its aroma is typical of the variety, reminding of spice and celery. The palate is somewhat “so so” with pleasant enough flavours of lemon, a medium body and a mineral impression. It however lacks the complexity and depth of fruit of the better examples of this variety. Ready to drink now, this wine provides sound but unexceptional drinking. Rating: Acceptable. Price: $20s. Abv: 12.5%. Website: https://www.bruendlmayer.at/en/.
This is a delicious pinot noir from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges and the 2017 vintage. It has an attractive aroma of black currant, cherry and bacon. The palate has great length, cedar, considerable balance and a savoury, enjoyable mid palate. It actually reminds of a Côte de Nuits villages wine from a warmer vintage such as 2015. In terms of comparative pricing, it presents as a bargain and will suit drinking over the next 5 years. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $52. Website: https://www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.