My first Super Tuscan experience: 2008 Tenuta San Guido ‘Sassicaia’ – Italy

Alright after reading an article about the history of Super Tuscan on Vino in Love I got curious about Sassicaia. I could be wrong, but I believe that the Sassicaia (2006 vintage) from Tenuta San Guido was my very first Super Tuscan.

Sassicaia is one of the most prestigious wines in the world. According to wine-searcher, Sassicaia is the #14th most popular wine in the world. I was looking for a good vintage and according to many sources 2008 is supposed to be the best vintage since the legendary 1988.  The wine is a blend of Bordeaux-style grapes (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc) and it aged for 24 months in French oak.

Average price for 2008 Sassicaia in the US: $198. I was able to buy the wine online at Sokolin.com for $169
Ratings: 97 JS 97 WE 96 WS 96 WA
Further more: 3/3 ‘biccheri’ by the 2012 Gambero Rosso (Italian wine book)

sassicaia 2008

I invited a few friends over and we all were very excited. We decanted the wine for 2 or 3 hours or so.

Since I wanted all of the wine to be at its best I decided to not try the wine before decanting it. That turned out to be a major mistake.

After taking a sip, I noticed that “something” was wrong. The wine was aweful. It tasted bitter. I should have concluded by the brick-red color that the win oxidized. You can’t imagine how sad I was. I just found out that I spent almost $170 on an undrinkable, alcoholic beverage. I called the Sokolin customer support and they said there was nothing they could do – no return – nothing. They said there is no insurance for corked/oxidized wine. A big warning: Don’t buy wine from Sokolin. I had good experiences in the past with them but after having wasted $170 on this oxidized wine. I cannot believe that they do this. Actually I’m shocked.

I will stop my rant now but I thought I will share my sad experience with you. That said I want to tell you that the evening still ended with a good wine. In my cellar I found a Rioja which turned out fine. I will write about that wine in the next days.

Have you had similar experiences? If so please share them with me. Nevertheless, I want to thank Julian from Vino in Love for his Super Tuscan post. Without it I would have never even considered trying one. I hope my next Super Tuscan will be better – certainly it won’t be another Sassicaia . . .

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Wine Readings #2

I have a few interesting readings for you that I stumbled over this week.

Interesting read of the week

  1. Robert Parker on the Past, Present and Future of Wine – Food & Wine
    Very good article about the life of Robert Parker
  2. Why Chardonnay is back in Fashion – Telegraph
    If you want to know why Chardonnay is booming again then this article is for you.

Blind tasting of the week

  1. Perfect Winter Fare – Shiraz and Cassoulet – Talk A Vino
    You like blind tasttings? So does Talk A Vino. Read about his Shiraz blind tasting experience.

Food matching of te week

  1. 5 Tips to Perfect Food and Wine Pairings – Wine Folly. 

There wasn’t that much going on this week and I also spent a few days out of town were I was unable to look fur interesting readings therefore all I have for you today are these four articles. If you haven’t red them already then make sure to check them out.

Cheers!

Montepulciano di Abruzzo – Wine Tasting Dinner

Does that title sound familiar to you? As a regular reader of this blog it should. Before leaving for my last business trip my wife and I were invited to a wine tasting dinner over at a friend’s house. Last time we were having a Brunello di Montalcino tasting at my place – this time the topic was Montepulciano di Abruzzo. Everybody was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and a decanter but for me that didn’t work out very well. You ask why? I got confused with Montepulciano di Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!! So shame on me for bringing a Tuscan wine over to the dinner. I don’t know why Italians had to give two different wines very similar names! Fortunatly, the host has a huge wine cellar which includes some of the best Montepulciano di Abruzzo so it was no problem at all.

Last time we did this, we tasted the wines blind but this time we decided not to since it didn’t work out too well last time. All wines were decanted for more than two hours. For me all of these wines were new. I had never tasted any of them before.

Evening started with a 2007 Illuminati ‘Pieluni’ – Montepulciano di Abruzzo di Colline Teramene DOCG Riserva. One thing I dislike about Italian (and German!) wines are the unpronounceable, long wine names.
Intense ruby red color. Fruity nose with plums, raspberry, cinnamon, tobacco and vanilla. On the palate rather tannic. Rich wine with a good structure. Elegant, long finish.
Retail price: $55

We moved on to a  2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva. Dark purple color. Aromas of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry blackcurrant, and licorice. Dry on the palate with a slight oak touch. Extremely well-balanced. Full bodied and long aftertaste.
Retail price: $85

The next two wines were provided by the host and both were produced by Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia (these long names are starting to frustrate me). Both wines were labeled Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The first of the two was called ‘Feuduccio’ (2006 vintage). Since fellow blogger Vino in Love reviewed this wine, too and allowed me to use his tasting notes I’ll just skip this wine. Of course, if  would disagree with his notes (which I don’t) I wouldn’t use them.
Retail price: $35

The wine had a deep, ruby red color. ‘Feuduccio had a bouquet of dark ripe cherries, rasins, caramel, tobacco, licorice, and raspberry. On the palate, the wine was smooth, dry and a little bit fruity. Ver harmonic and complex. The wine had a big body and I tastec herry again. ‘Feuduccio had some mineralic notes, too. The finish was persistently long.”

The second wine from Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia was called ‘Margae’ (2001 vintage). It’s supposed to be better than the ‘Feuduccio’. Dark purple color. Strong tobacco aromas followed by blackcurrant, caramelized fruit, and vanilla. For my personal taste, the palate was, too dry and mixed with rather strong tannins this didn’t work out very well for me. I don’t find this wine to be well-balanced at all. The only highlight was an elegant, medium-long aftertaste.
Retail price: $45

The last wine was a 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. Dark purple color, almost black in the glass. Intense nose with aromas of licorice, raspberry, ripe cherry, blackcurrant, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, blueberry, and chocolate. Silky tannins, full-bodied, well-structured. Fruity but short finish. I think the wine was passed its peek. Retail price: $120.

Now the question arises which wine was my favorite? The 2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva came in first place, followed by 2006 Il Feuduccio di Santarmia di Onoria ‘Feuduccio’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The ‘Feuduccio’ had an excellent price-quality ratio but the ‘Villa Gemma’ was just overwhelmingly good!

The ‘Margae’ disappointed me a little bit. The others were not bad either. Don’t get me wrong, every wine we tried was good but some were just a little bit better than others.

Also please note that I used bottle labels from wine-searcher for the first and second wine and the vintages on the labels are a bit off. Now if I’ll start writing about all the food we ate then this post will never finish – so I won’t. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will post the 2nd edition of my “wine readings” feature. If you missed #1 then follow this link. Also thanks again to Vino in Love for allowing me to use his tasting notes.

2004 Grupo La Rioja Alta S.A. Vina Ardanza Reserva – Spain

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in the last few days. Once again I was out of town for work. One of the good things about these business trips is that we always eat well in fantastic restaurants. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t write a restaurant review blog! We tried a few great wines in the last days and my favorite was a Rioja DOC from Spanish winery Grupo La Rioja Alta S.A. – a very large cooperative that consists of five wineries.

The 2004 Vina Ardanza Reserva is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Granacha. The wine aged 36 months in small oak barrels (barriques). Cherry red color; 13.6% ABV. Very intense nose with tobacco, blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, and coconut. On the palate medium to full-bodied. Well-balanced with strong tannins (maybe a bit too strong). Long finish with elegant aftertaste.

Almost a perfect Rioja. Only the tannins were too strong for my personal taste. Some of my colleagues said the tannins were just fine while others agreed with me. I guess you have to find out yourself! Let me know your thoughts on Vina Ardanza.

Wine Readings #1

Today I want to start something new here at Winetalks. Each week (probably every Thursday or so) I want to share with you a few posts, articles or wine reviews that I find worth reading. It simply would take way too much posts (and space) to reblog all of them so I plan to only reblog posts on rare occasions from now on. Since this blog is called Winetalks I want to talk with you about these topics. So feel free to comment on any or all of them. The categories won’t be the same every week. Depends on what I’ve red.

Wine recommendations of the week

wine fo the week

  1. VinItaly International/Slow Wine NYC 2013: The Full Story – Flora’s Table 

    Stefano has over 15 high-quality Italian wine recommendations for you. And that in just one article! Which one is your favorite?

  2. Three good-value wine recommendations – The Winegetter
    Oliver always impresses me with his good-value wine recommendations  All available for under $15. If you are looking for good and affordable wine then this is for you.

Event of the week

  1. Italian Wine Tales in Houston, TX.  – Gambero Rosso
    If you live in the Houston area then this event might be something for you. The Gambero Rosso is coming to Houston for the first time ever where they will offer two seminars. One about Italian sparkling wine and one about red wines from Tuscany.

Interesting read

  1. Wine in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kawa & Vino
    I know this post is not from this week but I just found it recently. If you want to read about wines from Bosnia and Herzegovina then you will enjoy this read. I’ve never had wine from Bosnia. Have you?

Disappointment of the week

Disappointment

  1. E. & J. Gallo Winery and Constellation Brands named wineries of the year 2012 – Wine Searcher
    In my opinion this is a poor choice but it probably shows how poor the American wine market is. There are so many wineries that deserve the award much more than E. & J. Gallo. What do you think? Does E. & J. Gallo deserve this award?

Article of the week

Star

  1. The History of the Super Tuscan Vino in Love
    Julian wrote an interesting article about the history of Super Tuscans. Straight to the point. Definitely worthreading, especially if you want to know more about Tuscan wines. His knowledge about Italian wine impresses me over and over again. What’s your opinion on Super Tuscans?  I personally never had one but yesterday I ordered a bottle of Tignanello! So exciting!

2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Premiere Trie’ – France

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in the last few days. I was out of town for a meeting. One night we went with a few business partners to a restaurant in San Francisco. We ate very well and of course we drank wine.

Since I didn’t pick the restaurant it was not up to me to pick the wine. My collegeue decided to go with a white wine from Domaine Huet Vouvray. The winery produces high end wines in the Loire region of France. He selected a 2009 vintage of the ‘Premiere Trie’ Appellation Vouvray Controle.

It is made with 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. ABV: 12.5%. Ginger, lime, white peach, orange and kiwi on the nose. I tasted melon, lemon and honeysuckle. Long finish. Flavorful aftertaste. One of the best white wines from the Loire that I drank in recent years.
Wine Ratings: WE 97 WS 96. I would give the wine at least a 97. Maybe even more. The wine completely impressed me. Average retail price according to wine searcher: $68.

I’m very happy that my colleague picked this wine. This was my first wine from Domaine Huet Vouvray and it was world changing. I can’t imagine that I will enjoy any other white wine in the near future after this!

What is your opinion on this wine?.

Brunello di Montalcino Blind Tasting

Last week I invited a bunch of friends over and since we all love wine I decided to open a few bottles. I uncorked four wines. Three of them were Brunello di Montalcino and one was a Sangiovese from California. Since Brunello is produced with Sangiovese, too, I hoped that the Calfironian wine would blend in quite well, too.

All wines were decanted for two hours.

First wine was a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino docg from Merchesi Antinori. Antinori has been producing wine for 26 generations. Antinori is also the winery behind the world famous Tignanello. Their Brunello di Montalcino is named Pain delle Vigne.  The wine aged two years in oak casks. Ruby red color with garnet reflexes. On the nose, raspberry, ripe cherry, black pepper and hints of smoke. There is a little bit of alcohol, too which I did not expect considering the wine retails for $60. The palate is well-balanced. Tannins are rather aggressive. Medium-bodied and decent after taste.
If anybody cares about wine ratings: WA 91 WS 91 WE 90.
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The second wine was from Californian winery Altamura. Just like the Brunello di Montalcino, the wine was produced with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Therefore it fit quite well in. We uncorked a 2008 vintage. The wine aged 24 months in French oak. Sadly, the wine was filtered before bottling. Intense ruby red color. Red cherries, caramel and tobacco on the nose. Softening tannins, very dry. Long finish. Retail price: $45
Ratings: WA 91
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The third wine was a

Brunello di Montalcino docg from Tenute Loacker (also known as Corte Pavone). We

went with a 2006 vintage here.
I red about this wine first at the blog Vino in Love.
The wine aged three years in French oak. Dark ruby red color with purple reflexes.  Incredible nose with dark ripe cherry, tobacco, black pepper, raspberry and vanilla. Full-bodied with smooth, mellow tannins. Blueberry notes on the palate. Persistently long finish. Retails for $55.
If you care for a second opinion about this wine then go here. Ratings: JS 96 WS 93 WE 93
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The last wine the evening was magnum bottle of Brunello di Montalcino docg from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona (2007 vintage). The wine aged two years in Slavonian oak. Light ruby red color with garnet reflexes. Intense nose. Aromas of tobacco, ripe cherry, spices and hints of smoke. Palate was a little bit disappointing. Not very well-balanced at all. Strong oak, silky tannins. Retail price: $55 (for a regular 0.75 liters bottle).
Ratings: WS 94 (#9 in WS Top 100 2012) WA 90
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

Out out of the four wines two really convinced me. My personal favorite was the Brunello from Tenute Loacker. The best Brunello that I’ve drank in my life. I very much liked the Altamura Sangiovese, too. It’s a perfect wine and shows how stunning Sangiovese can be outside of Italy. If you never had Sangiovese from California then go to the store and pick up a (good!) bottle.
The Brunello from Antinori was alright but not worth the $60. I wouldn’t buy the wine from Antinori again but it was a “good experience” to try it.. Ciacci Piccolomini’s Brunello was a bit of a disapointment. Almonost nobody of my friends liked the wine. I don’t think we had a bad bottle because there was no cork or signs of oxidations. I have a hard time understanding why this wine was selected for the WS top 100. For $55 I just expected more.

I’m looking forward to read your opinion on these four wines.