In typical fashion we started off with a blind wine:
Quinta do Alqueve Fernão Pires 2005
Sea breeze on the nose with some flowers and melon - rather Albariño-like. The palate, however, is weightier than Albariño. Limpid fruit, quite high but ripe and juicy acidity with a long and slightly mineral aftertaste. Very good. But I did like the 2004 better for its extra touch of freshness.
Then we went on to the reds. They were served open, not blind. This was an impressive line up, with all wines having their distinct personalities, all showing the signs of the vintage very well, yet with all having the mark of the house. The house style seems to favour very pure Nebbiolo fruit, almost Burgundian in its red berry aromas (apart from some from the warmer years) - even more so than other Nebbiolos I've tried.
G. Conterno Barbera 2003
Very ripe nose of raspberry, with a slight savoury edge - decent scent. The palate was better: tangy though not quite as tangy as normal, but with almost over-ripe fruit. Long. Very fine, but I would prefer a cooler year.
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 2001
A nose of liquorice, earth and peaches. The palate is surprisingly approachable: fine fruit balanced by fine acids and though the tannins are big, it is so well balanced that nothing sticks out and makes this a difficult drink despite its obvious youth. Unfortunately shut down pretty hard after some time in the glass. Very good.
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 2000
A darker colour. More open and voluptious scent than the 2001 with a little port-like hint, more prominently dark fruit than red berry scented. Very sweet fruit, tannic (doh!), with lovely savoury notes, and though it was acidic, it wasn't obvious enough to make the fruit dance on the tounge. Good.
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 1999
Now here we have a real Barolo! A touch of raspberry on the nose, bitter cherry also, unbelievable depth to the savoury and peachy fruit, slight notes of tobacco developing, but these are not at all (yet?) pronounced. The palate is savoury, fruity certainly but that isn't the main idea here, perfectly balanced though very noticable tannins and the loveliest high acidity! Excellent.
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 1998
Some said corked. I'm gladly not very sensitive to cork, so I got quite a bit out of this wine, even though I did think it a touch muted. Under the muteness/corkiness there was fine red berry scented fruit, it was certainly ripe, but this is still more an elegant/lighter wine than others of the series. The palate was a bit stripped of fruit, but the acids and tannins were in lovely balance. I would love to get a proper bottle of this!
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 1997
Warm, peachy and exotically floral nose, with quite a bit of tobacco and herbs, like the 2000 this was more dark toned than red berry oriented. The palate was very sweet, low in tannins and acid compared to the others, but still balanced and savoury. But the mid-palate was a bit flat because the acids were so low, that they didn't make the fruit dance on the tounge. Long, but due probably more to the force of the fruit than carried by the acids. Good.
G. Conterno Cascina Francia 1996
A dark toned and brambly scent, with a touch of earth and tobacco, and tomato/rust. The palate was rather backward, but perhaps the most promising of all: tannic, acidic, but also with the loveliest fruit! I am sure that the fruit will not die before the structure. Excellent.
G. Conterno Monfortino 1998
Sweet and deep scent, salty and earthy, almost raisiny. The palate has the loveliest savoury fruit, sweet, nice acidity, very layered and long. A lighter and more elegant Monfortino than the following, but every bit as good.
G. Conterno Monfortino 1997
An exotically floral nose, with a little too much Portliness to it, dark toned, but also with an underlying hint of red berries. The palate is sweet, voluptious, not so tightly wrought as it sh/could be but it still has plentiful acidity giving the mid-palate the lift and gracefullness that I hope for. An outstanding wine, though not perhaps very Baroloy.
G. Conterno Monfortino 1996
This was totally Baroloy, however. A powerful nose, very fruity, but very savoury, a slight port-like whiff was also evident, earthy with hints of tobacco - awe inspiring. As was the palate. Savory yet sweet fruit was in abundance, but the tannins and the acids rather successfully covered it. Layered, and effortless in its grace despite its power and structure. Immensely long and intense. Superb.
G. Conterno Monfortino 1993
Savoury fruit, lovely somewhat developed notes of earth and cigar and roses and peach. The most developed of the day, but still I would say this has much in reserve (much disagreement from other tasters, LOL!!). The palate was still tannic and acidic, and the fruit was drier than in the other wines. Excellent anyway.
G. Conterno Monfortino 1990
Very full scent, rather Portly, raisiny, figgy, cigary, with even a touch of cola. The palate is also very sweet and full bodied. The fruit somewhat hides the acidity wherefore the aftertaste isn't as fresh as I would have hoped. Very good anyway.
Then we had a couple wines with dinner:
Quinta do Alqueve Nova Safra 2003
A nose of dry Port wine. The palate was juicy, savoury. Nice. I liked it.
Vinha do Alqueve 2003
A bit peppery nose, very sweet, more full than the Nova Safra. The palate had savoury fruit but was already quite big. Good.
Quinta do Alqueve 2 Worlds 2003
50% Touriga Nacional, 50% Cab S. Totally overoaked and spoofulated nose. The palate was better with juicy, brambly, savoury fruit, tannic and acidic and harmonious despite its immense weight. Possibly good nose in the future when/if the oak integrates, the palate was, I admit, very fine.
By this time I needed acidity:
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2004
A nose of jalopeño. The palate was rather low in acidity (???? in this grape????), a bit peppery, very very fruity. Ok, I suppose, but I really don't get the grape, sorry.
M. Grünhauser Herrenweg Riesling Trocken Kabinett 1999
Slightly sweet nose, soft savoury fruit - seemingly a very warm year Riesling. The palate is minerally, only a little fruity, a touch of sweetness despite the Trocken on the label and with surprisingly low acidity but still balanced. Very nice, but the low acidity was a bit strange. Warm year, I suppose.