Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Though Gaja Barbaresco 2004 is now a couple of vintages old it didn't really give me the excuse I needed to drink it. So I'm going to blame it on the credit crunch. This may be a £100 bottle of vino but I already own it, so in real terms, that makes it free right? And free wine is the most delicious wine of all. OK, so it didn't have 10+ years of age on it and was no where near its drinking window, but it was still incredible wine and if the Italians refuse to wait for their Piedmont treasures to mature then neither will I.
So this is what a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco looks like. Elegant, refined, classic good looks, the hallmark of Italian craftsmanship. And this is what I look like. All the same adjectives can be applied.
I've written about Angelo Gaja's wines so many times on wine90 that you'd be mistaken for thinking Gaja is my favourite Italian producer, well in terms of continued quality, quest for excellence and willingness to experiment, then Gaja is but these wines lack something I love more and that is QPR.
Gajas entire range, from the Chardonnay to the Sperrs, from the vineyards of the Piedmont to those in Tuscany, produce wines of a good standard, though from prices ranging from £20-£250, not a one of them could be called a "value buy".
You can buy the Sito Moresco (nebbiolo), Cremes (dolcetto) and Promis (super tuscan) wines for a £20 note each but there are better wines from all 3 varietals selling cheaper. We know from experience, whether it's handbags or cars, when a luxury brand releases products for the masses, they are rarely of high quality. You're paying for the name, duck. That being said, the very best wines from Gaja, from the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards are among the best wines produced in the world.
It is pretty much agreed that, challenged only by Giacosa, Gaja is the king of Barbaresco and with 2004 being a superb vintage in the Piedmont this bottle of wine was never going to be anything less than excellent. My review of the 2005 effort was less favourable by just two points and I'm going against the grain of expert opinion here as 2005 is rated by Galloni as a better bottle than the 2004. In my humble, the 2004 is not only more complex than the 2005 but will age better too, in the end they are two different bottles of wine, which you prefer is up to you.
Gaja Barbaresco 2004 - BUY - €116
A mid ruby red in the glass. The nose is surprisingly open, obvious aromas of wood, tar and floral notes. A mid bodied wine. On the palate the wine is smooth, tannic but so well ingrained, this is all structure and balance, little light on the mid palate but the initial attack and finish are opulent. The alcohol makes itself known on the finish which is lengthy with good fruit, dark berries. 95 Points
Clearly too young, still very enjoyable, luckily for me it's not my only bottle.
Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - America's wine shop - $123 (deal!)
Europeans - Enoteca Piccolomini - €116
Brits - Speciality Wines - £98
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Monday, February 16, 2009
There's something about Ronco del Gnemiz's Schioppettino that makes it a real party wine. It may have been the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that went before it, but I'd like to think that it was the Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino that sent the Valentines day party (or my personal experience of it) into new realms of "I knew I liked you the minute I met you" and "We should set up in business" and all those other wonderful things you say when a great wine sends you over the line from acceptably merry into, well, rather tiddled. Of course it was the euphoria from the quality of the grape juice and NOT the alcohol that sent my head spinning even though, coincidentally, this comes in at a whopping 14.5%.
This wine is one of four wines I tried over this weekend from the Berry Bros and Rudd delivery mentioned last week. The Schioppettino was the best of the bunch, but there wasn't much to choose here with all these wines separated by just 3 points. Last week I blogged about Moschioni's Pignolo, well Moschioni also produce the best Schioppettino out there too.
Schioppettino is another (like Pignolo) native grape to the Friuli region of Italy. The Schioppetino grape is capable of creating great wines on its own but is sometimes included in blended Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC wines. On its own Schioppettino produces dark ruby red, dry wines of a good body with high acidity. Italian grape varieties 101 concluded, and on to the reviews!
Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino 2006 - PASS - €40
Deep brooding purple, on the nose this wine brought oodles of black pepper, herbs and dark fruits, a slight perfume note lingered too. The mouth feel was huge, a fat wine with plenty of fruit put me in mind of Syrah. Good length on the finish but not £33 for my palate. 90 Points
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - PASS - €25
Golden yellow in colour. A rich bouquet, fresh and tropical and quick to give it up too. Good acidity and freshness and continuing with a pineapple/zesty theme. A touch clipped on the end and a little watery too. Nice wine but again, not value. 88 Points
Ara Composite Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - BUY - €12
Striking golden yellow. Quickly aromatic with some grassy notes with plenty of fruit backing it up, pineapples and bananas. This wine is more honeyed than the Cloudy Bay but also suffers from a slightly watery finish, the acidity was a little off. A well put together if simple Sauvignon Blanc, a touch flabby but good QPR here. 87 Points
Pulenta Estate Malbec 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark puple in the glass. Lots of ripe dark fruit on the nose, blackberries but a hint of sweetness, a little raisined and for me, the wine screamed Black Forest Gateaux. On the palate the wine continues that raisined aspect, good amounts of fruit, held together well this is a big wine but not killing me with tannins. Tastes great and should take some ageing too. Good-O. 89 Points
See, I told you the BBR delivery would produce a lack of QPR. How thrilled I am to be right at the expensive of my pocket. The website is pretty thou!
All these wines can be purchased at Berry Bros and Rudd.
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What did you drink over Valentines? Ever tried any of these wines? What will the falling pound mean for your drinking habits? We shall see our wine prices go up 25% for US and European wines over the next few months, what will you do? Drink British!? If you're not British, which 75% of you are not, please leave us your condolences.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Of these eleven wines I believe the best value comes from the Pinot Nero (2 bottlings) the Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer) and the superb blend, perhaps the best value white blend of the region, the Manna.
High yields, high production and very popular. However, so many better whites here, if you're a PG fan there's probably little I can do to put you off. QPR Value 2/5
Pinot Nero Schweizer - €30 (red)
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
This is one of the Piedmont productions that can offer serious Nebbiolo value with even the top producers coming in around the £15 mark. Look out for Malvira, Angelo Negro & Figli, Matteo Correggia, Gallino, Cascina Chicco and Cascina Val del Prete.
A DOCG wine made mostly from the Nebbiolo grape there are few great producers of the wine with the most consistent and readily available globally being Cantalupo.
I've featured Gattinara on the blog a couple of times one of the most famous producers being Travaglini for their peculiar shaped bottle. However, the best producer without question is Antoniolo but both these producers retail closer to the £20 mark.
If you want bargain Nebbiolo the clear choice would be Roero wines, if you're experimenting in the wines of the Piedmont there is wonderful value in even the top producers of both Dolcetto and Barbera. Don't forget the white Gavi wines from the region or even the rapidly improving Langhe Chards. So there you have it, even in Italys most prestigious wine areas there are still 90+ point wines for £15 and under and with Bovio you can even have top class Barolo for a £20 note. Happy bargain hunting!
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Of course I've missed your favourite bargain wine from the Piedmont! Lets share our experiences of QPR Piedmont wines.