Gianni Voerzios La Serra 2003

The 2003 vintage was difficult throughout Europe. Scorching hot weather meant at best early drinking wines without much distinction or elegance and at worst harsh tannic ones (or cooked – depending on the producer or district) that didn’t pack the fruit to back the tannins up.

Arguably some producers did make a better job than others and I therefore find it interesting to see how the 2003s are coming a long nine years on. I can’t say that I see many 2003s these days but I do got one or two bottles left in my possession. One of those is Gianni Voerzios lovely Barolo La Serra.

Gianni is the less famous of the two brothers Voerzio (the other one is Roberto who’s wines got a cult following and play in a completely different price-league). Gianni Voerzios Barolo La Serra must be one of the best bargains in whole of Piedmont. In Sweden his single vineyard wines usually sells for what you pay for generic Barolos from big companies like Fontanafredda (that is for less than €30).

I know that some wine tasters (at least here in Sweden) think that his wines are a bit heavy on the oak. I’m usually not a big fan of new wood but I must confess that I have never found La Serra to be particularly over oaked in any way.

So how is the Barolo La Serra 2003 coming along? Real fine if you ask me! This is still quite a tannic wine that needs some time in a decanter to soften up the hard edges. But the fruit is luckily still there. On the nose it got all the tell tale signs of nebbiolo with cherries, roses, cocoa powder, maybe a whiff of tar and tobacco. In the mouth it is medium bodied and mixes fresh and dried cherry flavors with chocolate/cocoa powder and tobacco. And, of course, it got that mouth drying aftertaste that is quintessential barolo.

I think I might leave my other 2003 nebbiolos to rest for a couple of more years!

(Last year I opened a La Serra 2000 – you can read about that wine here!)

Ginis La Frosca – modern Soave at it’s best

To be honest – not so long ago Soave did suffer from quite a bad reputation. The wines underperformed and as with many other white wines form Italy – they felt a bit uninspired. But thankfully a lot has happened in the last 10 years or so.

Lately I feel that the italien “great whites” (no pun intended! 😉 ) are getting better and better. The reliance on new oak (good for quick gains but bad for long time track record) has diminished and the knowledge both in the vineyard and in the cellar has increased and some of the estates in Soave is leading the way.

This wine from Gini is somewhat of a modern classic. The producer makes two top-tier dry Soaves, the Contrada Salvarenza and the La Frosca. The latter from the vineyard La Frosca (6ha) is made from 100 percent garganega grapes and the vines got an average age of 50 years. It was partly fermented in steel and old oak vats but it has not went through malo lactic fermentation. Before bottling it has spent at least 8 months in 228 liters oak casks (but hardly new).

This usually gives a wine with lovely concentration and freshness. And La Frosca 2009 is no exception.

The wine is bright yellow in colour and has already a developed nose with elements of mature apples, flowers, honey, lanolin and melon. On the palate it has a lot of flavor with again tastes of apples, honey, bees wax and melon. The acids feels fresh but also mature and mellow and the long and well balanced aftertaste got a good minerality to it. Drink now or keep for up to five years!

Christmas treats – Brunello and Chianti

The swedish christmas dinner on Christmas Eve is a staunchly traditional meal with meatballs, sill (pickled herring), gravad lax and a lot of other must haves. And the traditional beverage is christmas beer (winter ales and lagers) and snaps.

And to be honest – that is not my cup of tea. So when Christmas Day arrived with lamb and a creamy potato gratin – I was more than happy to uncork two fantastic wines from central Italy – a magnum of Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva 1998 (my own) and a La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2001 (courtesy of my sister-in-laws husband).

And what a relief it was to find them both in mint condition. Both wines similar and at the same time different.

The 1998 was the second vintage of Castello di Brolio after the Ricasoli-family restored this classic estate to it’s former glory. The wine was an effort to once again put Chianti Classico in focus after that the so called “super tuscans” had dominated the scene under most part of the 1980s and 1990s. But with the new legislation in place (1996) it was possible to do a Chianti Classico of the best local and interanational grapes (a minimum of 80 percent sangiovese and up to 20 percent of other red varieties like Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

The Castello di Brolio 1998 is made with 100 percent sangiovese (the 97 and 98 were both monovarietals – but that was replaced with 10 years of experimentation and the 2007 was a blend of 80 percent sangiovese and 10 percent each of cabernet sauvignon and merlot).

The colour is still deep bordeaux-red with an orange maturity rim. The nose wonderfully opulent with dried fruits, cherries, spices and a hint of leather, almonds and chocolate. Sligthly oxidized complexity. In the mouth it feels round and mellow with a lovely fruit intensity and elements of cherries, dried fruits and herbs. The finish long and well balanced. Probably at it’s peak with a some tannins giving it a delicious lift. 

The Fattoria La Fiorita-estate is a new acquaintance – at least for me. It’s run by a well known oenologist, Roberto Cipresso, in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The 2001 was of course a wonderful vintage that delivered classic wines. And the La Fiorita Riserva 2001 is no exception.

The colour lighter than the Castello di Brolio – more brick/orange red. The nose is quite similar but juicier and a bit more perfumed with cherries, dried fruits, leather and nuts (almonds). The taste is also quite mellow (although it is two years younger than the Brolio-wine) and fruit-driven with cherries, leather, herbs and chocolate. The finish long, lingering and wonderful with a sligthly oxidized tone that gives that extra compelxity.

Both wines were superb with the lamb!

Modernist or not – La Spinettas great wines

The battle between modernists and traditionalists in Piemonte was maybe at it’s peek some 10-15 years ago. It concerned things like shorter maceration-periods, new oak vs. old slavonian casks and no or total de-stemming.

Today we find wines that show the trademark of both modernists and traditionalists as well as all kind of mixes between the two of them – but most wines of the new millenium have one thing in common: they are made with riper fruit and in a more fruity approachable style that doesn’t need decades in bottle before you open them. And the best thing is that the longevity of the wines does not seem to have been compromised.

The Rivetti family of La Spinetta was one of those who was leading the revolution and showing that you can make approachable nebbiolo that still got an impressive (or almost awesome) backbone of tannins and acidity. They started back in the 1970s and they did it with Moscato d’Asti – Piemontes underappreciated sweet light sparkling wine – the closest you get to pure grapejuice when it comes to wine.

But already from the start the Rivettis had there sights set on making great red wine.  Braida and Giacomo Bologna had shown what could be done with the barbera grape with their now legendary Bricco dell’Ucellone (1982) and in 1985 the Barbera d’Alba Ca’ di Pian was created at La Spinettas winery in Castagnole Lanze 1985. It is now La Spinettas entry-level wine – but there is nothing simple about it and it offers great value for your money.

Pin was next – a groundbreaking blend of nebbiolo and barbera (1989). Six years later came the first Barbaresco Cru Vigneto Gallina (and also the first wine to get the now famous rhino on the label). Barbaresco Vigneto Starderi and Barbera d’Alba Gallina followed 1996. IN 1997 came Barbaresco Vigneto Valeriano, 1998 Barbera d’Asti Superiore Bionzo and 2000 La Spinetta bought their first vineyard in Barolo – Campè. And since then the producer has also acquired 65 hectar of land in Tuscany.

What makes La Spinetta modernists is the Rivettis firm belief in new french oak for all their prestige wines. They also use rather short maceration-periods (7-8 days) and so called rotofermenters – rotating vessels for the fermentation and color extraction of their wines. This may make the Spinetta wines a bit more juicy and fruity than those from many other great producers of Barbaresco, Barbera and Barolo. But as I said above – these are serious wines that you can cellar for decades if you like.

So what’s up next? Earlier this years La Spinetta bought the historic sparkling wine producer Contratto in Canelli – and the results so far is stunning. But more on Contratto later here in Uncorked.

In the top photo: The wonderful Manuela Rivetti of La Spinetta. You can see the vineyards for Ca’ di Pian on the hills in the background.

Bloggers democratizing the wine biz – the EWBC

The web and social media has transformed the way we think about writing and journalism. And this has had a profound effect on not only traditional news journalism but also the way we report and write about wine.

And it is not just about blogging or writing. It is not just about sharing and telling stories. The European Wine Bloggers Conference that was held for the fourth time in Brescia in Italy in mid october this year has developed into a gathering for journalists, bloggers, promotors, wine businesses and social media nerds alike. And one thing is for certain – these people are democratizing the way we are reporting, educating and sharing our opinions and views on wine.

Ericsson Uncorked visited the EWBC in Brescia to meet some of these people. With one foot in the old media and one in the new it was an opportunity for me to get some inspiration from the next wave of wine writers and wine educators. This is our short documentation of the event!

La Spinettas’s Barbaresco Bordini 2007

It’s been all work and no play since EricssonUncorked returned from our short trip to Italy. And I haven’t written nearly as much as I should have about the wonderful wines I’ve tasted at for example La Spinetta and Quintarelli.

I will return with a longer post from our visit at La Spinettas Winery in Castagnole Lanze but for now I will just focus on one of it’s latest wines – the Barbaresco Bordini. Made from nebbiolo grapes from a younger vineyard that the Rivettis bought in 2006 for the production of Langhe Nebbiolo. But the fruit was so good that the family decided to make an vinyeard Barbaresco instead, says Manuela Rivetti!

The Bordini vineyard lies in Neive 270 meters above the sea level with south exposure and comprises 4 hectars of vines on calcerous soil. The average age of the wines is between 20-25 years. Average yield was 3 tons/hectar and the total production was 13000 bottles in 2007.

The fermentation lasted for 7-8 days in modern rotofermenters and malolactic were made in oak (50 percent new and 50 percent one year old french medium toasted oak casks) followed by 20-22 months ageing in the barrels. Then followed 3 months on stainless steel before bottling with no filtration or clarifying and an additional 12 months in bottle before release.

All this has resulted in an orange-red wine with a big, sweet and juicy aroma. I found elements of herbs, leather and lots of red berries on the nose. The juicyness is carried all the way to the palate with a concentrated taste of red berries, dried fruits and herbs. The tannins are tough and tight and the wine really needs some additional bottletime. But the long finish is filled with luscious fruit and oak/fudge-notes and for those of us who loves a little bit of harshness in our wines it is already lovely to drink. But it will improve for 5-8 years! I can understand why the Rivettis wanted to something more than just a Langhe Nebbiolo with this vineyard/wine!