Feb 26, 2012

Mouton Rothschild vertical 1983,-85,-87,-88,-89,-90,-96 + Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990

A vertical tasting of seven vintages of Mouton Rothschild, one of the five First growths in Bordeaux. This Pauillac estate's wines are sought after and it was a priviledge to take part in tasting of the wines.

General reflections about the Mouton Rothschild wines and Mouton's style: 
- The acidity of the wines was surprisingly high while tannins are more robust than silky, however really well integrated. Both of these are indication of long life expectancy for the Chateaux's wines.
- Beautiful fruitiness with red berries and mocha dominating in the good vintages, barnyard and leather in mature vintages, however the trademark taste of cabernet sauvignon on the left bank of Bordeaux, blackcurrant, is usually replaced by notes of  blueberries, redcurrants, cranberries and even lingonberry.
- Big extraction and long aftertaste. However no notable change in viscosity even in the older vintages, i.e. the wines keep their freshness, however for wine enthusiasts who would like to see their wines "dry" into a liqueur like elixir, you have to go older than 1983 which was the oldest vintage here.
- The wines hold up really well when opened, i.e. do not fade in the glass and are not sensitive as such.

Mouton Rothschild 1983

The palest color of them all, which is not surprising since this was the oldest of the bottles. Like mahogany, a garnet color of medium(- ) intensity with some brownish in the mix, and an orange hue.
Really beautiful nose of tobaccco, leather and loads of fruit which has dried nicely, and with some ripe plum.
Red berries on the palate, both acidity and alcohol are on a medium+ level however not disturbing the balance of the wine as fruit is so ripe, all indications of a big wine with a fleshy and broad mouth feel. Interestingly, due to the excessive acidity cranberries (!) dominate the palate, with dark spices and licorice.

The fruit had to be very ripe in this vintage indicated by very ripe fruit in the nose and high alcohol in the mouth feel. I rated this better than 1985.

Mouton Rothschild 1985

The 1985 was a more straightforward wine than the 1983, being more fruity however also leaner. A medium-intensive ruby color. Mocha and dark chocolate on the nose with leather and barnyard notes, I wrote to my tasting notes "like having red berries crushed & fermented inside a leather saddlebag". The warm vintage is reflected in a more toasty feeling. Even more ripe red fruit than in the 1983, taste of red currants and cigar box, with lively acidity with bigger tannins than in 1983. However some green notes also, like stalks. Evolves in the glass by red berries turning gradually to black.

Mouton Rothschild 1987

Vintage 1987 was not a great year for Mouton. More orange in the color than in any of the wines. Nose is quite straightforward however with a liqueur like feeling. Nose gives you red fruit and blackcurrant leaves, licorice, herbs and green stalk notes, no mocha here. Nose improves in the glass to a more ripe red fruit and apricot with time.  However the wine is not a lush one compared to its siblings. On the palate it is closed, tight and one-dimensional, with the nuances of the nose not coming through in the taste, and compared to nose the fruit is more of a mix of red and black fruit.

Mouton Rothschild 1988

This is a big and bold however also refined wine, which is still slightly one-dimensional. The color is more intensive ruby than in 1983 or 1985, however medium to medium+ ruby. A lush nose of fruits and mocha, leather and dark spices and some green paprika notes. Fruit driven style full of blackcurrants and redcurrants, no leather here. Ripe cranberry and redcurrant in the taste with coffee, chocolate and smoky aromas, however the wine is like in a silo - can only go one way. Great acidity which is balanced, i.e. does not attack from the glass.

Mouton Rothschild 1989

The Darth Vader of the vertical as the wine is so full of dark spices and really ripe black fruit, mainly plums.

A medium ruby color shows slightly matured elements. The nose is full of really interesting aromas - in addition to strawberry and blueberry, also "amaretto" almond liqueur, lilac, and leather. Other tasters also noted some "oil painting" and "gasoline" notes. Seems like a really well balanced wine.
The taste is full of ripe plums mixed with pepper and other dark spices, however the finish is surprisingly acid and tannic. A really long aftertaste.

Mouton Rothschild 1990

It is remarkable how many Bordeaux wines from 1990 are so fleshy and meaty. The vintage was superb, and the meaty and toasted aromas developed as trademark for the vintage.

Similar color as in 1989. However the nose of Mouton 1990 is totally different to any of the other wines in the vertical tasting. The fleshy and toasty nose is full of smoked meat and dark chocolate while being interconnected with really ripe fruit.

The balance of the wine is best of the vertical. The style of the wine is of beautiful dried lingonberries, ripe strawberries and plum. The acidity is big however best balanced of them all. Overall the structure of the wine is beautiful. Alcohol comes through a bit, i.e. not being in perfect harmony with the other components of the wine (fruit, acidity, tannins). The overall perception of the wine was that the 1990 Mouton was really good however not aging as well as others, the wine would be at peak in about five years (2017).

Mouton Rothschild 1996

The 1996 Mouton was opened too young being only 16 years old. The great bordeaux wines should be aged well beyond 16 years to be enjoyed at their prime, however it was interesting to see how the development from "young" (16 years old) to more mature (29 years old) happened in the vertical tasting.

The darkest color of vertical. Closed nose, blackberries and black fruit, mocha. The wine is nicely structured however still a bit one-dimensional and tight - this one needs time. Semi-ripe fruit fading on the mid-palate. Large acidity again. Really long aftertaste indicating that extraction was big in 1996.

Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 (St. Julien)

After the Mouton tasting we headed to Chez Dominique's wine bar for a Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 to reflect on the Mouton tasting. And what a great wine it was!

The 1990 Ducru-Beaucaillou had matured nicely and showed the same meaty and toasty aromas as in 1990 Mouton. Medium intensive ruby color with an orange hue. Maraschino cherries, toasty, meat, mocha, chocolate, espresso, cedar, cigar and spices, with a some barnyard note. Cedar was expected of a St.Julien, however the multidimensional feeling of the wine was really enticing.

Ahhh, the taste. A full-bodied yet feminine style, the wine was in perfect balance. Absolutely great ripe red and black fruit dominated by redcurrants, charred meat, ink and black cherries. A lot of fruit there to "dry up", however not quite yet i.e. most of fruit is still fresh. It would be really interesting to taste this one when the fruit dries more, a positive in mature wines.The wine has decades in front of it so hopefully I will find opportunities. On a critical note, tannins are not totally integrated and the finish is a bit short.

Feb 22, 2012

2001 Gerard Chavy & Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatiéres

The first time I tasted a Puligny-Montrachet from Gerard Chavy & Fils was in 2010 at Selfridges' wine bar in London. A great taste, really nice white which made me look at their bottles in local wineshops. Oddly, the Puligny-Montrachet they served at Selfridges did not have any vintage marking on it, and the sommelier there was as astounded as I was on how is it possible not to give a vintage on the label however still indicate it is a Puligny-Montrachet, given the strict French wine laws? The wine was already slightly developed, possibly a 2003-2005. Very smooth and gave the feeling of just vanishing from your tongue, a truly great feeling, one of the better chardonnays to come my way.

The 2001 is a developed wine however already seen its best. Beautiful medium intensive golden colour, the nose gives vanilla from oak maturation, slightly parfumed and dark spices which have been thrown to a basket made of fresh wood and full of very ripe citrus fruit and apricot. The palate is almost thick and oily, oak dominating, however thin on fruit. You should drink it now.

Feb 14, 2012

2000 & 2001 Solaia, 1978 Barbeto Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constance, Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (NV)

Another Mange Sud Wine Monday. Another great start to the week. Two vintages of Solaia, a 1978 Madeira, 1999 Vin de Constantia (the surprise of the tasting) and Taittinger champagne. How could this go wrong? It couldn't.

Mange Sud (Tehtaankatu 34, Helsinki) offers fine and mature wines by glass since opening for mondays a month ago. Anyone living in, or visiting, Helsinki should consider going to this restaurant if they love wines.

The main reason for this trip was to taste two vintages of Solaia side-by-side. Solaia is what some call the uncrowned king of the supertuscan wines, with 75% cabernet sauvignon, 5% cabernet franc and 20% sangiovese in both wines. They had opened the bottles 4,5 hours before, optimising the taste of wine for customers (they really know their stuff in this restaurant).

Ah, the wines:

2000 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Surprising purple colour, however this is slightly more mature looking than the 2001, 2000 having a slight orange hue while 2001 is more purple and slightly darker.  A beautiful nose of mature sweet black cherries and cherry liqueur with blackcurrant juice, dark berries, tobacco, musk, aristocratic oak. Also some greenish spices/paprika.

Remarkably well balanced. Beautiful, really well approachable at this age (11.5 years). The soft and sweet tannin structure of Solaia really sets it ahead of most wines claiming to be "super" coming from Tuscany, tannins being beautifully integrated, not drying the mouthfeel. Full bodied, love sangiovese's cherry notes mixed with cabernet's blackcurrant on the palate. Blackcurrant jam, mocha, with medium alcohol (13.5% abv). Pleasant, slightly toasted aftertaste is is long, however longer in 2001 than in 2000. The story of the wine is how everything is there, all the components, in nice balance. It is ready to drink, however can be kept - however should be drank earlier than 2001.

2001 Solaia, IGT Toscana (by Antinori)
Wow. Purple colour, much younger and slightly deeper than in 2000. Sign for being younger, however how about the characteristics? Intensive nose of ink, trademark sweet and ripe black cherries,  blackcurrant jam and mocha, in a bigger, darker package than the 2000. Definately a bigger wine than vintage 2000 - the difference in vintages really shows. And it shows really well on the palate.

Dark berries, sweet dark cherry, some leather, tannins really well integrated. Again really well balanced, and although already really well approachable, the 2001 is still developing and could be drank much later than the previous vintage. Both 2001 and 2000 were matured in new French oak (Alliers, Troncais). The long aftertaste is also a little toasted like in 2000.

How did they manage to produce such a wine - beautifully balanced and approachable at this stage, yet having massive potential for cellaring and improving (really good fruit and tannin structure, medium+ acidity, alcohol 13.5% abv)? This is serious winemaking. Either with nice a steak or for meditation only. With my grilled steak, the wine was almost overpowering, such a full-bodied taste.

1999 Vin de Constance, Klein Constantia Estate (South Africa)
The surprise of the tasting. Originally a wine of kings, consumed by Napoleon, the French court, the English court, Bismarck, and written about by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen in their novels, the Vin de Constance all but dissapeared between 19th and 20th century due to phylloxera, the dreaded disease which also wiped almost all of Europe's vineyards. I am glad they continued to produce this great dessert wine in the early 1980s.

This one is like a really good sauternes however with a darker feeling to it. Acidity is excellent here, like trademark from top sauternes, however this one was made of Muscat de Frontignan in South Africa. Like sauternes, the Vin de Constance should be kept 20-30+ years before opening.

A brownish red colour, almost resin red with orange, watery hue. Thick in the glass, slow legs.
Plenty of pineapple, resin, strawberry juice, mandarin notes with dark christmas spices and thick honey, almost reminiscent of a d'Yquem nose with a darker feeling to it.

Luscious sweet, great acidity which really makes this one stand out and be comparable to great dessert wines, taste follows the nose with the pineapple, strawberry, however has also a really nice dried&sugared citrus fruit taste, and slightly nutty and really long aftertaste. This 1999 will develop beautifully, however can be consumed right now.

Producer indicates 160g/l sugar content. Only some 12-13% alcohol. Maturation of 18 months in french oak. They tell this is the only wine from outside of France accepted to museum of wine in France.

Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie (Non-Vintage) - coming soon

1978 Barbeto Madeira  - coming soon

Feb 2, 2012

Tasting @ Villa Ruusuniemi

The first tasting I organised in 2012 was in Villa Ruusuniemi in Helsinki. The villa is an old Metso Plc. (share ticker MEO1V) corporate villa, now privately owned by investors and the restauranteur, and with impressive sauna, swimming pool, congress and restaurant facilities.

I organised a tasting for my fellow colleagues most of whom had never participated in an actual wine tasting. The aim was to have five different grapes for tasting, and mix old world vs. new world as well as include classical French based grapes grown in the new world. And it was a great pleasure to find that the venue had Riedel wine glasses for tastings - the owner / restauranteur told they organise very high class wine tastings at the Villa where dozens of thousands of euros could be consumed during one event. I am waiting for my invitation...

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (Malborough, New Zealand) 

A lot of passionfruit and exotic fruits in this one with nice acidity, the nose is full of aromas. It is great to find a wine with such crips acidity in the same package with a lot of fruit - however the alcohol content is somewhat over-the-top (at 14% abv) and thus a little less alcohol and this would have been in perfect balance. The wine was selected Wine of the Year 2010 in the most important wine fair in Finland obviously due to its fruitiness and structure. And the price €12,95 certainly does not hurt.

Bouchard Aine & Fills - Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 'Les Prieurés' 2009 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy) 

Citrus fruit with toasted oak and buttery mouthfeel, however the oak dominates here while acidity and fruit should both have been higher. Seems a bit overoaked in my opinion, the wine was matured 8 months in oak. Maybe holding the wine for a longer time in steel tanks could have helped the acidity to remain there. Vintage 2009 is great in Burgundy, however the fruit component is not great in this one.

Antonin Rodet - Château de Mercey Maranges 1er Cru Les Clos Roussots 2008 (Cote de Beaune, Burgundy)

 A premier cru pinot noir from an area not generally well-known, the vineyard is in the most southern-part of Cote de Beaune. This wine's fruit was not up to par with the oak, while acidity was pleasant. Seems like the challenging year 2008 did not produce ripe enough grapes for this one, or extraction in vinemaking was not enough. It had red berries and cherry notes in the palate, a medium bodied pinot. The wine spent 18 months in oak barriques, maybe less could have resulted in a more balanced wine?

Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Coonawarra, South Australia)

The Alcira Vinerard is located in Australia's prime cabernet country, Coonawarra, which soil type matches the soils found in some of Europe's premier cabernet vineyards. The full-bodied 2007 was already somewhat developed and ready-to-drink (although could still be stored), nice eucalyptus and mint mixed with cabernet's blackcurrant and chocolate. The nose is really intensive, and aftertaste lingers in the mouth for a long time. Great extraction from grapes to bottle and oak is present, however does not dominate which is good. This one was the favorite wine of the group. For €19.82 it is value for money.

Chateau de Malle 2005  (Sauternes 2eme Cru) 

The dessert wine had plenty of apricot and honey notes as well as nice acidity which really improves the taste - the wine was not perceived as "sweet" by tasters as other sweet wines in general. The trick with Sauternes wines is in general that their acidity gives them an edge as the more acidity there is the less sugar tastes in the wine. Round and thick, it was beautiful in the glass and tasted like sweet apricot jam. Nice.