Tag Archives: 2005

Two Fall Reds: 2010 Bartenura Rosso di Montalcino and 2005 Coume del Mas Collioure Quadratur

Just some tasting notes today. Work continues to be crazy, but I had these two quite different wines lately and wanted to share my impressions…with fall approaching, we’re all looking for soothing reds, right?

The first was the 2010 Bartenura Rosso di Montalcino DOC. Rosso di Montalcino, the little brother of Tuscany’s famed Brunello di Montalcino, can be an affordable and good choice if you are longing for some Italian earthiness in a younger wine. Made from 100% Sangiovese (like Brunello) and grown in the same area, the main difference is that a Rosso only needs to spend six months in oak (compared to two years for Brunello) and one year of total ageing before release.

Bartenura is a big, Italian-wide producer mostly known for its Moscato in a blue bottle (which I was not aware of when I picked up the bottle…) and its current website does not list the Rosso di Montalcino. We bought the bottle at Costco where it retailed for $12, which is definitely on the lower end for a Rosso di Montalcino.

In the glass, the wine showed a lighter red color. The nose was full of pecan pie, slightly burnt cookies, blackberry, cherry and unidentifiable vegetables. That left quite the impression! On the palate, the wine was weirdly bubbly (which was not noticeable when looking at the glass), with initially strong acidity. There were some earthy and cherry pie aromas, but in the middle it showed surprising bitter aromas. The finish was so, so. I don’t know. Something seemed off balance with the wine. The acidity was too strong for me. There were moments that were better, but overall I don’t think I will buy this again…

2005 Coume dell Mas Quadratur

2005 Coume dell Mas Collioure Quadratur

The second wine we had was a 2005 Coume del Mas Collioure Quadratur from Languedoc-Roussillon in France. I bought this wine during a blow out sale on Last Bottle Wines mostly because of its logo. I loved that! The price was right ($12). According to the wine guide Gault Millaut it retailed for 24 euros (over $30) when they reviewed it.

The winery is the opposite of Bartenura, owning a mere 8 hectares planted with red vines, 11 hectares in total. I was looking forward to trying this aged mix of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Carignan.

In the glass, I found a very dark red wine, with hints of rust on the sides. The nose was perfumy with raspberry and blackberry aromas. Nina noticed butter and cookie aromas as well. On the palate, I got jammy berry aromas to begin with which soon gave way to tobacco and wood, with vanilla interspersed. The wine had decent acidity and the tannins seemed nicely integrated. The finish was a bit short and thinnish for me. I think this wine might be on its way out. It is still good, especially the beginning and mid-palate with its earthiness and rounded aromas. But the finish just wasn’t up to par. If you have a bottle, you might want to start drinking it soon…

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2005 Melini Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva

2005 Melini La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva

2005 Melini La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva

Sometimes, you luck out in liquor stores. And sometimes you don’t. But I have learned that it is worth trying it out. And with this find, the 2005 Melini Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva, I definitely lucked out. According to Wine Searcher, the wine retails for $25 and up. I found this lone bottle on the sales shelf for $12. There is always a good chance that an older vintage wine sold in a liquor store (instead of a professional wine store) has gone bad because of poor storage conditions etc. But it is sometimes worth a try, and it all depends on what discount the store is giving you.

Some of you know that I have made Melini’s 2010 Chianti Borghi d’Elsa my go to, everyday Chianti. It is nicely affordable and delivers refreshing, light wines. When bought in the magnum bottle, which are available at Costco, it is hard to beat price wise for a good dinner companion.

Cantine Melini is a big Italian wine producer. The winery was established in 1705 and today covers over 550 hectares of land in Chianti and Chianti Classico. The vineyards reportedly cover 136 hectares divided in 5 farms. While the Borghi d’Elsa is an everyday wine, La Selvanella is on the other end of Melini’s spectrum: It is their top notch wine which has garnered attention by Italy’s leading wine guide, the Gambero Rosso (the 2006 La Selvanella got the coveted 3 glass rating). This vintage received 2 glasses in Gambero Rosso and 4 grapes in the Duemilavini guide. The 2005 vintage was rather difficult as far as the weather was concerned (lots of rain and low temperatures from June to August), but the grapes are said to have ripened enough. The wine is made with 100% Sangiovese grosso grapes which come from 49 hectares around Radda in Chianti, one of the top villages in Chianti. The grapes were harvested in October and after 20 days of maceration it ripened 30 months in French oak. It has 13.2% ABV and the winery gives it 10 to 12 years of ageing potential. (All this information can be found on the winery’s website)

We decanted the wine for about an hour. It poured as a darker red wine with very slight browning on the edges. In the nose, I got raisins, lots of plum and some sweetness as well as herbal aromas. The medium bodied wine showed mostly plums and prunes on the palate, with good acidity and medium tannins which were nicely round. There was some spice going on and it had a medium length finish. The wine was still very, very fresh, which surprised me. It is by far not nearing its end yet.

I really enjoyed this wine. At the price I bought it, it was a steal. It also paired great with the Pecorino Toscano (a young Pecorino with delicate flavors that has none of the ripened Pecorino’s saltiness which I don’t enjoy much) I was able to secure in San Antonio and awesome different, thinly sliced bacons from my favorite sausage maker in town, Biercamp (which is right around the corner). It transported me right back into Tuscany, on a warm fall day afternoon, sitting outside, munching on Pecorino Toscano, prosciutto and panini and having a glass of wine…there is no better compliment I can make a wine.

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2005 Studert-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett

A liquor store find

Do you know those moments when you are browsing through the lined up wines in a liquor store or wine store and you make a find that has you intrigued? Well, this was one of them. While I was browsing the rather random collection of wines displayed at the local liquor store a couple of weeks back, some of the wines quite overpriced, others weirdly underpriced, some of them stellar wines, others I was wondering, I saw this lonely bottle on their riesling shelf.

An aside: I understand that it is easier for liquor stores to group their wines by grape variety, but I still am not really happy with it. I would much prefer to have them grouped regionally…but that might just be me.

Studert-Prüm winery is part of Germany’s elite winemaker guild VDP (Verein deutscher Prädikatswinzer), an association which you can only join by being suggested and voted into by its members. They have certain, higher/stricter requirements for growing their wines (like less hectoliters per hectar etc.). The winery is located in  Wehlen, now a suburb of Bernkastel. According to their website, they produce about 40,000 bottles per year from their 5 hectares of land. It is an exclusively riesling producing winery in the 12th generation (producing wines since 1581), with holdings in the top vineyards Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Dompropst and Graacher Himmelreich, as well as Bernkasteler Graben. 80% of their vines are non-grafted.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a top vineyard on the Mosel. The name means “Sundial of Wehlen”, and it is named after a sun dial that was installed in the vineyard in the 1800s. You can find a couple of sun dial vineyards (Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, even the Ürziger Würzgarten has a sun dial in its core) along the Mosel, and most of them are pretty good. Unfortunatley, as all too many vineyards on the Mosel, later, what used to be about 5 hectares just around the sun dial, was expanded to a 45 hectare vineyard, because other winemakers wanted to profit from the name. The idea of terroir seems to have completely eluded folks back then. Similar things happened to the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, the Ürziger Würzgarten and many others. So, it is always good to know whether the grapes actually come from around the sun dial or further away…

My friend Man-Soo (who else?) introduced me to their wines and I have always liked them. So, when I saw this bottle, marked down from $22 to $13, I figured why not give it a try. There are some issues with liquor stores, mainly how they store their bottles (standing rather than lying, the temperature in the store…), but at that price it was worth a try…most newer riesling kabinetts are not necessarily made for ageing, so it was also unclear how this one was intended to be. On the other hand, 2005 is considered a spectacular vintage in Germany, so why not try it?

We decided to open it with a riesling loving friend of ours, whose husband has recently discovered that he finds older rieslings interesting. We classicly paired it with a cheese platter of gruyere, goat gouda, goat cheese and a brie type soft cheese.

Upon opening, the wine poured clear and lightly yellow. It had a somewhat dusty smell to it, overall a quite subdued nose. On the palate, it had contracted quite a bit, with initial petrol notes. As the wine opened up, it showed more citrus flavors and the dust settled down a bit. There were signs of ripe grapes. The wine was probably past its peak (which I would blame on the storing rather than the wine itself), but still it paired exceptionally well with the cheeses, especially the brie type, where the slight moldiness of the cheese met with the dust and citrus flavors. They greatly complimented each other, but it also worked well with the gruyere, the saltiness of the cheese pairing off with the citrus.

It was an interesting experience. I would love to try this wine when it was properly stored. It was the last bottle they had at the store, so I also am not tempted to go back and try another bottle.

Check out the vineyard here: http://www.weinlagen-info.de/#lage_id=1585.

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