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Eric Genau
 
September 21, 2013 | Eric Genau

Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel

Matt Cole has been a fixture at City Wine Merchant for almost three years, and this Saturday marked his last day working with us. Matt's first day was a Saturday in 2011, and it was a memorable Saturday afternoon because, as Matt reminded me, we opened a bottle of 1942 Lopez Heredia Tondonia Reserva Rioja. Hopefully Matt got over the disappointment of realizing that we didn't do that every Saturday. We've had some pretty good Saturdays though. Matt has been "Mr. Everything" at City Wine Merchant (wine guy, carpenter, chef) and he proved to be a pretty decent bowler. We'll miss having him around every day.

Along with a good friend, Matt and I shared a casual lunch of Italian coppa, along with Tomme Chebris, Brillat-Savarin and crusty baguette from Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. We first popped open a bottle of La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. While the wine didn't have much life left in it, it was outstanding. The essence of great Chianti Classico was definitely present. I have always loved Chianti Classico because it is one of those wines that nearly always transports me to its place of origin. This comes from a 14-acre vineyard on the Nozzole estate. The vineyard has been producing Chianti since the 13th century and it is a reliable wine from vintage to vintage. This isn't as traditionally styled as some of my other favorite producers from the region (Ama, Castell'in Villa), but it is nonetheless a great wine. Matt liked it, so that's good. It was especially tasty with the Tomme Chebris (50% goat’s milk and 50% ewe’s milk).

What can I say about Cos? It is one of the world's greatest wine estates for good reason. Even in this "off" vintage, and even after so many critics leave a wine like this for dead, the 1967 Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe continues to deliver some joy. It still shows a lot red fruit, and just enough acidity to hold it all together. While it is somewhat dis-jointed, it is an interesting snapshot . With history dating to the 1700s, Cos continues to hold its own with the great first growths of Bordeaux (Cos literally "looks down" on it's neighbor Lafite). The '67 is a fun wine, but if you still have this one in your cellar, don't wait any longer to open it! 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
1967 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe 80-84 Good Drink Now
2001 Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 90-94 Outstanding Drink Now

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant only as a guide to help readers discover new wines. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. Eric generally only scores wines in ranges, with the following as a guide:

100 Flawless: a wine without any flaws that can be articulated
95-99 Classic: a great wine that displays the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
90-94 Outstanding: an outstanding wine displaying most of the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: drinkable and shows some positive characteristics
<80 Not recommended

Time Posted: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM Permalink to Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel Permalink
Eric Genau
 
October 7, 2012 | Eric Genau

Wine Record: 1985 Chateau Lafleur at Rue Franklin

I dined with a colleague at Rue Franklin in Buffalo, one of Buffalo's longest standing restaurants. After spending years in the kitchen with longtime Chef and owner, Joel Lippes, Chef Corey Kley recently purchased the restaurant and has continued a tradition of excellent traditional cooking. I've always felt that the Rue was in somewhat of a unique category -- it is clearly one of Buffalo's more formal and traditional dining experiences, but it has the soul of a great neighborhood bistro. One thing is for sure, and that is that the Rue's food hasn't missed a beat under Chef Kley's ownership. Over the next couple of years, I expect that he will put some of his own touches on the food and overall experience. The room, while still one of the most elegant in town, could use some small updates. I would also be pleased to see an expanded, more interesting wine list, and perhaps an expanded focus on smaller producers and appellations. An update to the stemware would also add the overall experience for wine lovers. It is worth noting here that the Rue has one of the most beautiful garden patios of any restaurant I've visited. Sadly, it wasn't in the cards for this September visit.

My colleague shares my love for Right Bank Bordeaux. In fact, we both rank multiple vintages of Chateau Cheval Blanc among our all-time favorite wines. Tonight though, Pomerol (not Saint-Emilion) would be in the spotlight. I had mentioned to him recently that I had not had much experience with Chateau Lafleur, and this dinner and wine was his reaction to that. I was thrilled when he invited me to dinner and said that he wanted to share his bottle of 1985 Chateau Lafleur, a vintage he enjoyed in the past. As soon as our Filet Mignon arrived, we filled our glasses and spent a little time with the wine. 

This was an absolutely beautiful, powerful wine, still showing a deep garnet color. It exhibited aromas of figs, blackberries, licorice and leather. At the start, it reminded me of great Merlot from Italy - almost more like Masseto than Pomerol. After a few minutes in the glass, a dark cherry and mineral character took over. On the palate, it showed tremendous lift for a wine with this much weight. Layers of black and red fruit, figs, licorice and plum all follow through to an extremely long finish. There is something intriguing about this wine that made me want to hold the glass up to my nose again and again. Outstanding.

Located near the legendary Chateau Petrus, and across the road from Chateau Le Gay, this small estate clearly deserves to be mentioned as one of the world’s greatest wines. The vineyard (4 hectares) is planted with 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, and annual production is around 1,000 cases of the Grand Vin. Pomerol has no official wine ranking or classification, but it is clear who the stars are here: Petrus, Le Pin…and yes, Lafleur, all rank with the world’s best.

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
1985 Chateau Lafleur Pomerol 95-99 2012-2030

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 

Time Posted: Oct 7, 2012 at 9:43 PM Permalink to Wine Record: 1985 Chateau Lafleur at Rue Franklin Permalink
Eric Genau
 
February 12, 2012 | Eric Genau

Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports

Vias is one of the most renowned Italian wine importers in the US, and on Friday we were joined by our old friend, Maurizio Clemente to taste and talk about some great wines and producers from the Vias portfolio. I was particularly excited about this tasting because it gave me a chance to revisit and share some of the most memorable wines I tasted during my trip to Montalcino and Montepulciano in September. It also gave us an intimate setting to check-in on a couple great wines from the 2004 vintage - Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino and Damilano Barolo Cannubi. I was especially impressed with these wines and am even more convinced that wines from 2004 (both from Piedmont and Tuscany) will provide great pleasure over the next 5 to 10 years.

If you weren't able to join us, here are my tasting notes and a bit of information about the wines that we opened.

Damilano Arneis Langhe 2010
We have carried a few vintages of this wine, and it was the perfect wine to kick-off a great evening. Winemaking by the Damilano family dates back to 1890 when Joseph Borgogno, great grandfather of current owners, began to cultivate grapes and make wine on their beautiful beautiful countryside property in the town of Piedmont Vezza Alba. This wine is 100% Arneis grape, which is often referred to as the "white Barolo" because of its richness and growing area around some of the most famous areas of Barolo. This was fresh and vibrant with tons of peach and passionfruit, balanced acidity and a really interesting almond hint on the finish. I've always liked how this wine manages to be both crisp and rich at the same time, and it definitely showed that way on this night. This is such a great value.

Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2009
I only recently discovered this wine and immediately found it to be one of the most enjoyable seafood matches I've had in a long time. The Feudo di Santa Tresa estate lies along the Mediterranean Sea, where the vineyards benefit from cool sea breezes and the fruit is perfectly ripened under the Sicilian sun. Rina Ianca is a unique blend of Viognier and Grillo and the name translates to "white sand" in the local language. This refreshing wine has a bouquet of pineapple and mango, and a beautiful straw yellow color. This is a great match for seafood, salads and pastas because of its perfect balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright acidity. Following the Arneis, this showed slightly more richness and texture, but the two wines complemented each other nicely.

Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009
This was the best value red I tasted during my time in Montepulciano in September. Cerro is one of the most beautiful properties in this region, and Manero is the estate's first wine from revered oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, it has very concentrated and intense aromas of wild berries, spices and a hint of truffle. The flavors here are well-rounded and decisive, and this delivers a big punch for this price point. What I like most about this wine is that you can really pull out the varietal characteristics of both the Sangiovese and Merlot, and this wine tastes Tuscan. Manero pairs well with roasted red meats and stews and aged cheeses, especially the many varieties of Pecorino produced in this area. This wine impresses me every time.

Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2006
I love this wine! This is one of Cerro's flagship wines, and one of my top 10 favorite wines tasted during my recent trip to Tuscany. The estate boasts 93 hectares of beautiful Vino Nobile vineyards, and the Riserva uses fruit from the best plots. This shows intense and concentrated wild black cherry, violet and spice aromas. Its flavor is full and persistent, with powerful, yet elegant and integrated tannins. This has really great structure, and should drink extremely well for the next 5-8 years. I had a chance to also taste the 2007 Riserva in Italy, and that is a similar, outstanding wine.

Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007
This is very well-priced blockbuster Sagrantino. Colpetrone is one of the most important wine producers in the Montefalco DOCG area and the tannin-rich Sagrantino grape is one of the most ancient varieties in Italy. This is strong and concentrated with an almost impenetrable ruby color, and an intense, ample perfume of wild berries and espresso. Red and black fruit, spices and vanilla really explode on the palate here, but it is the big, broad tannins that stand out most; this wine begs to be paired with food. It's a steak wine. This is just so big and structured, it should drink well for the next decade or more if the fruit can hold on. Even if it doesn't, this will be a treat over the next few years. It has both a rustic charm and a big modern forward character.

Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fossacolle is a little family run estate owned by Sergio Marchetti. Along with this family, they take care of all the viticultural tasks throughout the tiny five acre vineyards and Marchetti's son-in-law, Adriano Bambagioni, is the winemaker. They literally consider the vineyard just an extension of their family garden! The small estate sits in a little Village called Tavernelle, in the south of Montalcino, where the vines are influenced by the sun and breezes from the Maremma coast to the west. This was the first real experiment of the night, because I hadn't tasted too much 2004 Brunello over the past year, opting to let this vintage evolve a bit more in bottle, and instead enjoy the more pretty and approachable wines from 2005 and 2006 After about two hours in a decanter, this wine started singing. Fine tannins were present but starting to give way to flavors of cherry and cranberry fruit and wild mushroom. This is a very focused and polished wine, especially considering its young age, and is both powerful and elegant. This wine was aged for a year each in large oak casks, smaller barrique and concrete tank, and I think the balanced method has created a wine that is very well integrated and put together. This seems to be entering a sweet spot, and it should stay in it and continue to get better over the next 5 to 10 years. The tannins are already very fine and polished. It may turn out to be one of the best surprises of the vintage.

Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2004
It has often been said that if Piedmont had a Grand Cru classification similar to Burgundy, the Cannubi vineyard – which covers a total of 15 hectares in the municipality of Barolo – would surely be considered one of the few true Grand Cru vineyards in Barolo. The Cannubi cru is one of the oldest in Italy, and the oldest known bottle in existence with Cannubi on the label is dated 1752. This 2004 edition continues a long line of delicious wines I've tasted from the vineyard. Damilano now makes more than 60% of the Barolo from this vineyard, so it makes sense to use this wine as the real measuring stick for all wines from Cannubi. We had this in the decanter for an hour and then back into the bottle for another hour before tasting. It had a really pretty medium red color, and pretty aromas of blackberry, mineral and licorice. The licorice turned more menthol as I swirled this in the glass. It is a beautiful wine to smell! On the palate, the tannins were fine grained and a bit dominating, but not so much that the fruit couldn't leap out of the glass. This has some great cherry pit and plum flavors. It is long and polished, and it should fully come together over the next year or two. Overall, this is a Barolo of medium body and good structure. There is a lot to like here, and it should remain a beautiful wine for the next 7-10 years. 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
2010 Damilano Arneis Langhe 89 2012-2014
2009 Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 90 2012-2014
2009 Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 90 2012-2014
2006 Fattoria Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 93 2012-2020
2007 Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 92 2012-2016
2004 Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 92 2012-2020
2004 Damilano Barolo Cannubi 91 2012-2020

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 

Time Posted: Feb 12, 2012 at 4:44 PM Permalink to Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports Permalink Comments for Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
May 27, 2011 | Eric Genau

Wine Record: 1961 Borgogno Barolo Riserva

Thanks to the generosity of a good friend who always shares his best wine, I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a stunning bottle of Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1961.  I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share some thoughts about the wine, and about old wine in general, and hopefully this will be the first of many posts around the idea of tasting history

There is something about tasting an old wine - the way it often develops in the glass, revealing new layers with the almost magical addition of air, can be stunning.  In my view, experiencing the alchemy of aged wine is the ultimate sensory experience for a wine lover. 

It is also like tasting history. Opening an old bottle is like waking something up from the dead and transporting it from another era into a new existence.  Likewise, it can take us back to another time.  I always like to think about a place in history when I drink an old wine, and suggest doing a bit of homework before you pop the cork, to get a sense of what was going on in the world when the grapes were actually harvested (probably by hand).  You don't need to dust off your 10th grade history book though.  Go to Wikipedia, type a year into the box, and you'll be amazed at what you can learn in just a few minutes.

Before opening the '61 Barolo, I learned that this was the year that Roger Maris hit 61 home runs for the Yankees, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record set in 1927.  I was reminded that JFK was inaugurated, and shortly thereafter took responsibilty for a failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.  Judy Garland performed a legendary concert at Carnegie Hall, and West Side Story was released on the silver screen.  In Italy, 15 people were killed at the F1 Italian Grand Prix after a Ferrari driver crashed into the stands.  JFK said we'd put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, and Princess Diana and Wayne Gretzky were born.

Having some reference points before opening a bottle like this helps to put the wine in perspective, and regardless of what it tastes like, commands an appreciation for drinking something that has been corked up for that long.  On this occasion, the wine just happened to be incredible. 

1961 was an outstanding vintage in Italy, and is generally considered the vintage of that decade (with due respect to 1967).  It produced typically full-bodied and rich reds from both Piedmont and Tuscany, and the Barolo in particular can be very long-lived.  This Borgogno possessed all the hallmarks of the great vintage, showing a deep red and brown color, layers of dried red fruit and firm tannins.  It showed incredible balance, and had the fruit and acidity to last another couple of decades.  This was the best old Barolo I've ever had.  But regardless of the wine's character, it was a unique experience to taste and talk about a place in history as if we could connect with it in some way.  The next time you have an opportunity to open something from a different time, slow yourself down and try to take yourself there! 

Wine Score Maturity
Borgogno Barolo Riserva 1961 97 2011-2020

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 

Time Posted: May 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Wine Record: 1961 Borgogno Barolo Riserva Permalink Comments for Wine Record: 1961 Borgogno Barolo Riserva Comments (3)