Happy New Year!
Everyone is always looking to try something new and different in the new year. Last week at TasteVin, we did a taste-off: California vs. Burgundy, France comparing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s a great way to see how a grape can taste so different depending on region, climate and wine-making style. As you can imagine, everyone’s palate is unique, so the combination of favorites was distributed all across the board.
This week we are doing a cellar tasting focusing on Italian reds. We have a Barolo, a super Tuscan and a Brunello di Montalcino. Two of the wines in this selection are second labels, or the younger sibling so to speak of a bigger, more famous wine. The advantages of these second labels are:
- you still get great quality wine (sometimes these are the barrels that didn’t make it in to the higher end wine, however, the same amount of energy and care was given while tending the grapes in the field and during the fermentation process)
- the wine will typically be ready to drink earlier
- it’s a better price point!
2010 Seghesio, Barolo, Monforte d’Alba, Piemonte, Italy
Grape Variety: 100% Nebbiolo
2010 is a great vintage for Barolo. Monforte d’Alba is where some of the greatest expressions of Barolo are produced. Seghesio produces a few different Barolo and this is the younger sibling of their famous Barolo “La Villa”. It is drinkable right now and can age for a couple more years as well. The nose is intense with intense, complex, sweet spices, violets and balsamic notes. On the palate it is warm, supple, with good acidity and well-integrated tannins. It pairs well with braised meat dishes and seasoned Piedmontese cheese.
About Seghesio: A typical Langa estate: family-run, small/medium-sized, strongly-attached to its roots. It all began in 1988, when Aldo and Riccardo Seghesio released the first bottle of Barolo under the Seghesio label. Alongside Riccardo today are his niece Michela, and nephews Sandro and Marco. Together they take care of all the facets of the business: in the vineyard from the pruning to picking, in the cellar from the vinification to sales, in the office from the administration to promotion.
2010 Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia ‘Le Serre Nuove’, Bolgheri, Italy
Grape Varieties: 45% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia is one of the pioneers of super Tuscan wines. Super Tuscans are a blend of Tuscany’s Sangiovese grape along with international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, etc. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s flagship wine is known as Ornellaia, and ‘Le Serre Nuove’ is their second label. And as you can see by the critical acclaim below, this second label is outstanding. I’ve poured this wine for those who enjoy big California Cabs and they love this wine.
93 pts Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “The 2010 Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia shows off tons of concentration and sheer depth. Mocha, espresso, dark cherries and plums are some of the many notes that take shape in the glass. The 2010 is a decidedly powerful, virile wine endowed with considerable power. It will be interesting to see how the layers of flavor flesh out once the wine has been bottled. For now, the 2010 is a highly promising Serre Nuove. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027.”
Other critics’ scores: 92 points Vinous; 90 points James Suckling; 90 points Stephen Tanzer; 90 points Wine Spectator
2011 Gaja, Brunello di Montalcino, Pieve Santa Restituta, Tuscany, Italy
Grape Variety: 100% Sangiovese
I went to a tasting of Gaja wines where I met Giovanni Gaja, who is taking over the reins of the family owned winery. He was there to welcome everyone and talk a bit about his family and their traditions in wine-making. We tasted through their current releases and I fell in love with the Brunello di Montalcino. It was the very last wine of the entire line-up and was the epitome of saving the best for last! It has beautiful black and red fruit balanced with a touch of earthiness. There is a touch of tannins, as this is a developing wine, but the wine was drinkable even now. They served the wine with a wild boar sugo on crostini and the pairing was simply fantastic!
Winemaker’s Notes: Deep ruby red in color fading to a dark pink rim. An expressive nose with cherry notes, forest fruits, aromatic herbs, and juniper aromas. On the palate, this Brunello di Montalcino expresses ripe tannins, integrated acidity, rich structure and a lingering finish.
Critic Scores: 90 pts James Suckling