2012 vintage wines @hoddlescreek looking good….

Last week I had my good friend Vito who handles nearly all my freight from Italy in Melbourne for a few days and I thought whilst he was here, I would show him Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley, run by my brother Franco D’Anna.

If you haven’t been to Hoddles Creek Estate or the Upper Yarra, it is very different to the ‘valley floor’ with it’s picture perfect cellar door’s which is now almost custom built for wine tourism. The Upper Yarra on the other hand, is like the wild west of the Yarra Valley and still quite undeveloped in terms of tourism and population and this I think is a good thing.

Whilst the 2012 whites and reds are still some time away from being released, already at this young age, the quality across the board is excellent. These are wines with a high level of natural acidity, poise and complexity and with time in the cellar, they will age gracefully for many years to come.

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The two greats of Barbaresco: Gaia & Bruno Giacosa Dinner @scopri Thursday 20th of September

Last Thursday a group of Italian wine lovers headed to Scopri to indulge in the wines of Angelo Gaja and Bruno Giacosa. The aim was to present wines that illustrated the amazing heights both Angelo Gaja and Bruno Giacosa could hit at their peak with Nebbiolo, and mainly Nebbiolo grown in the Barbaresco region of the Langhe. Today both men have plots in both Barbaresco and Barolo so there was a couple of Barolo’s thrown in for good measure to show that both men are equally adept to both Barbaresco and Barolo.

Apart from three wines (two Giacosa’a and one Gaja) being corked on the night (more on that on my next post) the night was a big success and showed that these wines are truly world class and when on song, as good as any wine produced in the world today.

Below are notes from Antonio Galloni and Robert Parker from the Wine Advocate just to give you some background information plus my brief notes (in italic) on each wine as well.

Strikingly profound and built to live for decades, Gaja’s wines display opulence and elegance unmatched elsewhere in Italy. These wines, while harnessing modern technology, have a long-established track record, ensuring they will perform well both in the glass and on the auction block. For any collector considering Italian wines, Gaja should be the first name on the list.

Bruno Giacosa, a man of few words but eloquent talent, practices an extremely simple philosophy based on the respect of traditions both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Giacosa brings out a richness of flavor and an intensity of character to produce wines of meditation. In addition to Bartolo Mascarello, and Giacomo Conterno, the Giacosa estate is the most respected producer of traditional style Barolo.

Bruno Giacosa Santo Stefano Barbaresco Riserva 1988

The 1988 is the most advanced of these Santo Stefanos.  It is fully mature, with notes of leather, tobacco, beef bouillon, prunes and spices on a medium-bodied frame with soft tannins and excellent length.   There appears to be little upside in cellaring bottles any further and I would choose to drink my remaining bottles within the next few years.  Antonio Galloni In the Cellar Apr 2007

Rich and robust with fantastic length and breadth. It is slowly on the downhill slide and would have been a truly amazing wine six or seven years ago. 

Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco 1989

Bruno Giacosa’s wines are well represented in my personal cellar, which was the source for the vast majority of these bottles. I have had the good fortune to taste all of Giacosa’s 1989s and 1990s from multiple sources over the last year, and therefore can report that these notes are representative of what readers can expect from well-stored bottles. I consider 1989 and 1990 – along with 1978, 1982, 1996, 2001, 2004 and 2007 – to be among Giacosa’s finest vintages. Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #187 Feb 2010

Mildly corked and if this was a Friday night at home, I doubt the bottle would have gone down the sink. However, underneath the taint, there was some absolutely amazing fruit and tannins. If this bottle was sound, I would think it would have gone close to wine of the night.

Bruno Giacosa Gallina di Neive Barbaresco 1990

The 1990 Barbareso Gallina is simply awesome. The wine boasts a seamless core of rich red fruits in a soft, generous style. This opulent Barbaresco possesses impeccable balance and tons of class. Floral notes intermingled with bright red fruits provide lift on the finish, adding lovely balance to the dense fruit. This is the most approachable of Giacosa’s 1990s but has plenty of stuffing to last another twenty years. The 1978 is still going strong. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025. 94 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #187 Feb 2010

Corked. Again enough taint to mask the sheer quality of the wine.

Angelo Gaja Cerequio Conteisa Barolo 1990 (notes below courtesy of The Iron Chevsky Wine Blog)

In a recent Gaja and Burgers post, I talked about Gaja Gromis Barolo 2000, and raised a question about the connection of Gaja Gromis and Gaja Dagromis. For the wine geeks such as myself this connection needed to be explored. And since there was little-to-nothing on the internet regarding this topic, I emailed Gaia Gaja, the daughter of Angelo Gaja. She and I had recently met at a dinner at Donato Enoteca.

Dear Gaia,

I need a clarification. From my research on the internet, it is not clear what is the relationship between the Gromis Barolo, the Gromis Conteisa Cerequio Barolo, Conteisa Langhe and the Dagromis Barolo, and when some of the labels changed.

Dutifully Gaia responded. Here is the fascinating Gaja trivia that I learned.

In 1995 Gaja bought a propriety in La Morra. The property is 10 hectares, almost all included in the Cerequio vineyard. The winery (an obsolete building which they do not use) had a stock of older vintages. It took them a bit of time to understand what they had.

The propriety was named Gromis. The stock that was in the cellar was inspected, some vintages have not been sold because they did not like the quality, but some other vintages were very good (1970, 1982, 1989, etc) so Gaja released them with the label Barolo Gromis.

CONTESIA CEREQUIO BAROLO was the label Gaja devoted for the best Cerequio parcells (some vintages were already in the barrels at the moment of the acquisition, for example 1991 or 1993). So for those wines they took care of the last part of the ageing.

In 1996 Gaja decided to devote 4 hectars in the heart of Cerequio cru for the production of Gaja Conteisa Langhe Nebbiolo DOC which (like all of Gaja’s single vineyards …Costa Russi, Sori San Lorenzo, Sori Tildin and Sperss) is a blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera, in this case 92% Nebbiolo and 8% Barbera.

Stunning, ripe fruit that is perfectly balanced and with at least another decade in front of it. Fantastic effort.

Angelo Gaja Barbaresco 1995

1995 tends to be a good rather than great vintage in Piedmont, but Gaja’s sensational 1995s are among the stars of the vintage. This wine possesses extremely saturated dark ruby/purple colors, almost atypical for Nebbiolo. The 1995 Barbaresco offers a superb nose of licorice, cherry fruit, strawberries, flowers, and toasty scents. Ripe, dense, and lush, with an alluring, sexy personality, it is one of the more forward, generic Barbarescos Gaja has produced. Anticipated maturity: now-2011. Importer: Vinifera Imports, Ronkonkoma, NY; tel. (516) 467-5907 90 points Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #124 Aug 1999

Would you believe it, corked!!

Angelo Gaja Barbaresco 1996

The 1996 Barbaresco exhibits a dense ruby color as well as a forward nose of cherry liqueur, earth, truffle, mineral, and spicy scents. Rich, full-bodied, and seductive, with its moderate tannin largely concealed by the wine’s wealth of fruit and extract, this gorgeously pure offering gets my nod as the finest Barbaresco produced by Gaja since 1990. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2016. As I reported in issue #124 (8-27-99), 1996 is a spectacular vintage for Angelo Gaja. 90 points Robert Parker Wine Advocate #130 Aug 2000

Looking amazing, great length and depth of fruit. This is Angelo Gaja on top of his game. Only criticism is that the oak still sticks out a touch on the front palate, but I expect this to disappear with another decade of age.

Angelo Gaja Barbaresco 1997

Gaja’s 1997 Barbaresco is undoubtedly the finest he has yet made. An exquisite effort, it boasts a dense ruby/purple color in addition to an extraordinary nose of black cherry liqueur, smoke, licorice, mineral, and floral aromas. The wine is full-bodied, opulent, and loaded with fruit. Despite its precocious nature, there is abundant tannin, and thus 3-4 years of cellaring is required. It should age effortlessly for 25 years.

A genius for sure, Angelo Gaja can not be faulted for what he puts in the bottle. This work of art is worth every cent it will fetch. Robert Parker 94 points, Wine Advocate #135 Jun 2001

Balanced, lovely wine: in the groove and looking good. More complete wine than the 96 Gaja but it will be interesting to see which is better in the long run.

Angelo Gaja Sori San Lorenzo 2004

The 2004 Sori San Lorenzo is a drop-dead gorgeous wine. It presents awesome balance, especially in the way it marries power with elegance. This is a remarkably refined and understated Sori San Lorenzo, with never-ending layers of dark raspberries, licorice, grilled herbs and tar that flow from its sumptuous frame. A dark, brooding beauty, it will require several additional years of bottle at a minimum, but those with the patience to wait will be amply rewarded. In most vintages I prefer the Sori Tildin, but in 2004 Sori San Lorenzo has a very slight edge over its sibling. It may very well be the finest Sori San Lorenzo since the legendary 1971. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029.  98 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #173 Oct 2007

The Barbera component is really sticking out in this wine. Darker in colour and more sweeter palate. An awesome wine and maybe an indication why Barbera has traditionally been added in Nebbiolo.

Angelo Gaja Barbaresco 2006

 The 2006 Barbaresco reveals terrific concentration, depth and purity. This is a remarkably soft, harmonious Barbaresco from Angelo Gaja with pretty notes of raspberries, crushed flowers and spices. The wine turns more powerful in the glass, as it gains additional richness, volume and depth, all of which carry through to the polished finish. The wine’s balance is impeccable, and this is easily is one the more harmonious, complete wines of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026. 93 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate # 185 Oct 2009

 Awesome. So traditional almost the most pure expression of Nebbiolo on the night. Fragrant, savoury, perfumed and in the groove. This is going to live for a very long time.

Bruno Giacosa Falleto Barbaresco 1997

Giacosa’s 1997 Barolo Falletto de Serralunga is an exquisite Barolo offering superb notes of tar, earth, truffles, licorice, minerals, and cherry/raspberry fruit. There is plenty of acidity as well as high tannin, but concentrated, chewy flavors. The wine is tight, dense, impressive, and surprisingly structured for a 1997. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2025. 93 points Robert Parker Wine Advocate #135 Jun 2001

In it’s prime and a lovely wine. Still looking pristine and highlights just what an amazing man Bruno Giacosa is, whether it is Barolo or Barbaresco. 

Sicily: an amazing array of food, wine and culture….

Amazing fruit and vegetables grown on the fertile soils of Mount Etna.

This week I have working on a newsletter on the wines of Sicily. Looking back at my photo’s made me remember just how much I loved Sicily. What an amazing place. Next year I will return their in June with my family and I cannot wait.

For those who have been to Italy but not to Sicily, one tip: go. It is an experience that you will never forget. The island is such a vibrant mix of culture and architecture and it is an obvious reminder that not that long ago, Italy was a mix of different cultures with Sicily being the most different.

The photo above was taken on my trip to Sicily in 2011 and the quality of the fruit and vegetables grown on volcanic soils beneath Mount Etna was the best I have ever eaten. When matched with the amazing quality and array of wines produced from this amazing island, it is easy to see why so many people fall in love with Sicily.

You cannot go to Sicily and not eat Pasta all Norma…

Like these mix of cultures, the wines that they grow on Sicily are all quite different. From the rich and full flavours of Nero d’Avola, to the almost Burgundian Nerello Mascalese grown on Mount Etna, their wines showcase just how different soils, alititudes and of course grape varities can be on this amazing Island.

Every year I head back to Italy and on each visit, I either spend my time solely in the north or south of Italy. This year I visited Italy in March (where I spent three weeks in the north of Italy) and June (where I spent two weeks in the south of Italy) and for me personally, I do not have a preference and find both the north and south captivating.


When I think of the wines of Sicily my mind always heads straight to Nero d’Avola which has been for centuries been seen as the workhouse of the region. this rich, robust red is full bodied yet light on it’s feet. Due to the volcanic soil that it is grown on, it has amazing minerality and complexity that makes it fantastic drinking for under $20 a bottle. If you want to get serious about Sicilian wine, then I you need to head to Mount Etna and the amazing old vine Nerello Mascalese grown at high altitude and on differing lava flows.

 

The eagle has landed… 2008 Piero Benevelli Monforte Barolo now in Oz.

Back in July, I wrote a blog post about how I thought 2008 Barolo was better than I first thought. Click on the link to read the post ‘2008 Barolo: better than I first thought’ but my general thoughts have been that these wines have really grown in the bottle. It is going to be an under rated vintage and the wines will have fantastic longevity like 2005.

The township of Monforte, Italy

When I tried the 2008 Piero Benevelli Monforte Barolo back in 2010 it was still in it’s infancy and not giving much away. It was closed, with buck loads of tannin and no real indication on how good the fruit was. However, a visit early this year was a different story. The wine was looking so well balanced with every in place for a long future ahead of it.

Like the just arrived, Traversa from Barbaresco, we will let these wines sit for a couple of weeks before showing them in the trade.

 

Traversa (Barbaresco): well worth the effort….

This year before Vinitaly, I spent a week in the Langhe visiting some of the producers we import via Mondo Imports. You can have samples sent over to Australia or try the wines at Vinitaly but there is no substitute for the real thing: being in the Staderi vineyard trying past and future releases of Traversa Staderi Barbaresco.

Doing business with Traversa is not easy: it is all done the old way, by fax and phone. Organising back labels via fax is no easy achievement. Getting the wines picked up and an invoice sent was another achievement. Finally the order that I gave Flavio when I was at the winery in March has now arrived.

Massimo Benevelli (left) and Flavio Traversa (right)

Arriving is the 2010 ‘Il Ciabot’ Langhe Nebbiolo, 2009 ‘La Burdinota del Ciabot’ Barbera, 2008 ‘Staderi’ Barbaresco and the 2007 ‘Sori Ciabot’ Barbaresco. These wines looked fantastic in March and I can’t wait to see how they look with another six months in bottle.

We will let them sit for a couple of weeks before releasing these wines to the trade.