Marco hosted a few of us at his place in Milford Saturday with the theme being 'mature' wines. We drank incredibly well - had a couple of misfiring bottles (as is the case with aged bottles), but many of the old wines were amazing, and the old Madeiras... well, just wow.
- NV Jean Bourdy Crémant du Jura - France, Jura, Crémant du Jura
Not particularly interesting, but nicely balanced - tart pear and citrus fruit accented by chalky and yeasty notes, pleasant and refreshing.
- 2002 Huët Vouvray Pétillant Réserve Brut - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray Pétillant
Superb balance, vividly stony and minerally with fresh citrus and quince fruit and gentle wooly and honeyed touches over the mineral base. There's just a touch of sweetness here, bright acidity and fine length.
- 1990 Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Federspiel Hochrain - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Tastes as if this was carved from stone. Each sip starts out with fresh, slightly lean citrus and stone fruit flavours, but turns more savoury, smoky and vividly stony on the back end, finishing long with fantastic balance. Lovely.
- 1989 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Very complex, layered and superbly balanced; layers of fruit ranging from tarter pear to riper melon and stone fruit flavours coming together seamlessly with beeswax, lemon cream and saline/briny notes. There's a touch of oxidation to the flavours, but at the same time it feels very fresh and lively. Excellent.
- 1989 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Absolutely stunning bottle of Chinon. Layers of rich, pure Cabernet Franc fruit, forestal greenery, earth and developed leathery notes on a polished, medium weight frame. There's fantastic depth and purity to the flavours, great balance and wonderful length. A real wow wine.
- 1990 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
Outclassed by the '89; this comes across riper and richer with more intensity and sweetness to the fruit, but it doesn't show the same depth or have the same finesse and balance. This is a little clumsy and heavy handed in comparison, but also coming across surprisingly youthful (despite being just one year younger).
- 1975 Château Giscours - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
A pleasant surprise, a '75 left banker that's not really tannic and austere! This is drinking really well right now with a core of sappy red and dark fruited flavours framed by mature cedar, leather, tobacco and dried floral notes. There's a nice richness to the fruit, the tannins are surprisingly finessed and fine grained and it's drinking very nicely with an hour or two in the decanter.
- 1995 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Aromas of smoke and fusel lead into a palate full of incredibly pure Mosel fruit and slatey minerality. The definition and focus here are stunning; there's such vibrancy and balance here, amazing purity to the fruit and a sense of real power and intensity even though it feels incredibly light on its feet. Outstanding.
- 1985 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Drinking superbly now. The fruit's still quite rich and lively, ripe red fruits seasoned with developed earthy, meaty and leathery accents, seamless and very polished on the palate with the tannins fully integrated and so enjoyable.
- 1992 Adega Regional de Colares Colares - Portugal, Estremadura, Colares
Still comes across rather young, with the fruit remarkably intense and fresh, and a powerful acid and tannin spine beneath. There's some savoury developed earthiness and leathery funk that emerges with air, but this still feels very young.
- 1974 Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery Pinot Noir Proprietor's Reserve - USA, California, Sonoma County
Nothing here that I would recognize as Pinot Noir, but it's remarkably well balanced, still quite fresh and quite fascinating to drink. Brambly red berried fruit, higher toned spicy notes, developed earthiness and just a faint touch of VA make this quite appealing to smell and taste, and while it's not the most complex wine, it's both interesting and pleasurable at this age.
- 1961 Travaglini Gattinara - Italy, Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Gattinara
Others liked this more than I did. First impressions are of a wine on its last legs with the barest hints of red fruit peeking out beneath maderized/oxidized aromas, but with air it actually freshens up quite a bit as the oxidation fades and the fruit gains some depth. It's still not particularly enjoyable though and still feels rather tired and faded. Interesting, but not much more.
- 2002 F.X. Pichler Riesling Unendlich - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Here's a Riesling that goes to eleven. Flamboyant, incredibly ripe, powerful and weighty with a spectrum of fruit ranging from fresh citrus and stone fruits to riper tropical flavours, and layers of mineral, creamy, spicy and smoky accents that keep emerging with more air. This is all about palate staining intensity and flavours that resonate for minutes after each sip, but the balance is also quite remarkable here.
- 1976 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
One of the best aged Riojas I've had in some time; so elegant, refined and polished with a lovely mature sappiness and sweetness to the red fruit flavours, and layers of leather, cedar wood and higher toned herbal and floral notes accenting the core of fruit here. This seems to be at peak now and it's absolutely compelling to drink.
- 1966 C.V.N.E. (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) Rioja Viña Real Reserva Especial - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
Very good, but completely overshadowed by the Tondonia. There's a strong coffee and butterscotch element here atop the core of red and dark fruited flavours, but it seems relatively one note and lacking in finesse when poured alongside the LdH.
- 1863 Barbeito Madeira Boal Reserva Velha - Portugal, Madeira
Bottled in 2003, and decanted three days in advance. There's a wonderful fragrance here, sweet caramel, figgy, molasses, and marzipan notes along with more savoury old wood, smoky and spicy elements, and remarkable intensity and power on the palate. The sweetness is rather intense though and at times I'm left wishing for just a touch more acidity, but that's nitpicking - this is an amazing wine and a real treat, thanks Marco.
- 1845 Lomelino Madeira Quinta da Paz - Portugal, Madeira
Wow! Such amazing freshness, vibrancy and energy here; layers of caramel, figs, butterscotch, baking spices and higher toned citrus zest flavours in a package that manages to show tremendous sweetness, freshness and elegance at the same time. There's a powerful acid spine beneath that cuts through everything, and a finish that just keeps lingering. Monumental.