Alion 2003

Alion 2003 The release of the latest vintage of Alion is always one of my highlights of the year, I have more Alion in the cellar than anything single other wine. It helps that it used to be a third of the price. For some reason, the 2003 is not labelled as Reserva, but the treatment is the same as always. Odd. i can’t keep up with Spanish wine law, it seems to change in odd ways every year.

I think that 2003 is a very good year in Ribera del Douro. This seems to be contrary to popular belief, but every wine I’ve had from this vintage has been top grade. The heat made the vintage in my book. This is an area that can deal with very hot days as at night the temperature plummets to single figures. I think those who put in the vineyard work, reaped the rewards and made great wines. The alcohol is up a little (14.5 in this case), but there is plenty of acid and intense fruit.

Deep purple in colour with a nose of mulberry and cherry with cola, espresso coffee, earth and chai tea that jumps out of the glass. Smooth, silky and dead sexy in mouth, with fine tannins that add texture as the wine builds with air. Perfect balance and concentration. On the palate there is some more mulberry with some currents and blackberry, cola, minerals and pepper. Very long finish with more minerals. Already very complex, I would put this away for at least two years then drink over the following 15. 95+ pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars Price: $105 Closure: Conventional Cork


Reduction that apears to be Brett?

I posted this on the Boccaccio forum last week, I though I'd post it here as well. Here is a quote from Vega Sicilia wine maker Xavier Ausás. He is talking about 1994 Alion at a vertical tasting of Alion 1991-2003:

"There are different phases for ageing of Ribera. After bottling it is depressed and then the wine starts to develop. After 8 months some reduction but not a problem because reduction protects the wine against ageing.After 7-10 years there will be light reduction. This is the 1994 stage currently. Some people will call this brett butit’s not because we have analysed all our wines. We have observed that the 1994 is leaving the reductive phase but the 1996 is approaching it. This is why these are the two wines from the whole set that are more difficult than most to understand."

So if I get this right, he is saying that all of those bretty wines from Ribera del Duero are not actually bretty but reductive. Can anyone explain this to me or have experience with it? I'm not say that he is wrong, as someone pointed out to me, Vega Sicilia are ver pedantic about wine faults and have recalled whole vintages due TCA issues. I have some 91, 94, 95 and 96 in the cellar. 91 is fine, drinking really well. 94 is all poo and metal, as is 95. 96 is a hardman, huge tannins and acid, drinks like a 2004. Actually the 94 appears to be the most brett affected wine I've ever seen… I'll keep a 94 and 95 for a couple of years and see how they go…

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2003

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2003If you are very observant you will notice that the thumbnail for this post is much better than normal.  That's mostly due to the iimage plug-in breaking with the upgrade to 2.3.  I did this one in Photoshop, I think I will keep it that way in the future.

Anyway on to the important stuff.  The 2001 vintage of this wine was a big hit, a kind of return to form for Marques de Riscal.  The 2003 is in the Marques de Riscal style, but not up to the 01 at this stage in the game.  I like it, it doesn't grab me at the moment.

Deep red in the glass, with a very good Rioja nose of varnishy mulberry and cherry, undergrowth and a touch of caramel and chocolate.  Quite young at the moment and showing a little bit too much acid at the moment.  There are some dusty tannins as well.  Tart blackberry and cherry on the palate with some sage leaves and pepper.  I have a feeling this will get better over the next couple of years, but for now it just doesn't have interest on the palate.  89+ Pts.

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $45  Closure: Conventional Cork 


R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado 1997

Vina Tondonia Rosado 1997Now its not every day that you drink a ten year old rose.  Many would ask why you would want to.  You may be aware that some of the great wines of Rioja spend a lot of time in oak, some times more than 10 years.  However most people would assume that this is only really for red wines, but both white and rosados get the big oak treatment too.  The purpose here is not add huge oak flavours, rather to produce a wine with great texture and flavour that is more tertiary than primary.  It is not a style that everyone will like, However it is said to be the wine of Spanish royalty.

The wine is made from Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Viura and is aged in old oak barrels for 4 years.  It is a very interesting experiment to open a bottle of this with a a couple of wine lovers and compare notes after a glass or so.  From what I've experienced, no two notes are remotely similar except for the colour!

Light tangerine in colour with a very complex nose of ripe tangerine and lemon with vanilla, nutty old wood, a bit of cherry, earth and clove.  The texture is to die for, light, think, oily and dry all at the same time, quite amazing actually.  Mouth watering acid with subtle lime, lemon and tangerine fruit, which are nice, but the attraction is the minerals.  Huge finish.  This is certainly in a world of its own, I'll rate it 91 Pts

Source: Toro/Woods Wines Price: $50 Closure: Conventional Cork


Luis Pato Tinto 2005

Luis Pato Tinto 2005I'm a bit flat out at the moment so, just a quick note today.  The Tinto is Luis Pato's basic baga wine, its made from 90% Baga and 10% Touriga Nacional.  I've been impressed by these wines, it is a great range and if you a interesting in Portuguese wine or maybe just something different, you should be tracking them down right now.  This is certainly a producer I want to visit next time I'm in Portugal (when ever that will be!).

A vibrant red in colour, with really appealing aromas of dusty, but juicy red currents and cherries with a bit of wild game.  Tart and lean in the mouth, but with sweet cherry and red current fruit followed up with some pepper and spice.  The finish is a bit short, but another sip in never far away.  Its goes down very easily.  89 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $28 Closure: Conventional Cork


Back Pocket Wines Castanets 2007

Back Pocket Wines Castanets 2007The Granite Belt region in Queensland seems to have had quite a few acres of Tempranillo planted over the past 5 or so years.  This wine is made from 5 year old vines in the joven style, with partial carbonic maceration.  The vines are D8V12 clone, which is a UC Davis clone and seems to be the main clone in use in Australia at the moment.  I'd be interested to hear from anyone using a different clone in Australia, as there is surely more available (there are something like 200+ clones of Tempranillo in Spain).

Deep red in colour with purple to the rim.  The wine opened up with a bit of rubber and nuts on the nose, however this blew off in a few minutes to reveal some earthy blackberry and cherry pie.  In the mouth it shows a very correct expression of a joven Tempranillo: savoury red cherry and blackberry with dusty tannins.  Fairly good balance, the acid pokes out a little at this stage.  But all in all a very encouraging example.  86 Pts.

Source: Winery Sample Price: $19 Closure: Screwcap



Quinta do Ameal Escolha 2004

Quinta do Ameal Escolha 2004The folks at Quita do Ameal say that their aim in life is to do great things with the Loureiro grape variety, and I think they are well on the way.  This is a barrel fermented version, it has been highly acclaimed in the European wine press over the past year or so.  The aromatics on this are fantastic and the palate weight is compelling.  I'm really enjoying these Portuguese whites at the moment.

Its made from Loureiro that is fermented in new French oak barrels.  It is left in barrel for 6 months and gets a fair bit of bâtonnage in that time.  Its not stabilised at all, and only lightly filtered.  Interestingly they recommend an hour in the decanter before you drink it.  Also watch the temperature, not too cold please.

Pale in colour with a light straw colour.  The decanting certainly helps, aromas of vanilla and honeysuckle with a touch of kiwi fruit and smoky pear.  Super texture in the mouth, smooth and oily with a good crack of acid.  Slight nettles with lemon and fennel bulb in the mouth, the finish is long with tangy bitter lemon.  If you are looking for something different this spring, you would do well to have some of this in the fridge.  91 Pts

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $24 Closure: Conventional Cork


Bodegas Muga Blanco 2006

Bodegas Muga Blanco 2006

Here is another very appealing white Rioja. There seems to be a movement to fresh, easy drinking white wines in Rioja over the past 10 or so years. With the allowance of a couple of non-traditional white varieties in Rioja by the OIPVR (Organización Interprofesional del Vino de Rioja), perhaps Rioja Chardonnay/vuira blends will become a new cult classic?

So, this is made from mostly vuira with a splash of Malvasia (10%), a lot of sorting is used to get the best fruit, up 50% is discarded.  It is fermented in new French oak and given 3 months on lees prior to bottling.

Very pale in colour, with a very light gold/green tint.  On the nose there is some vanilla followed up by apples, slight peach and lemon.  Very fine in the mouth, leading in with some acid followed by flavours of lemon, minerals and apples.  Very drinkable, its the kind of thing you can pull from the ice on a hot day and really get stuck into it.  88 Pts.

Source: Toro/Woods Wines Price: $21 Closure: Conventional Cork


Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage Port 2001

Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage Port 2001So what is an Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) port I hear you ask?  Well basically, its a vintage port that is left in the barrel past the normal 2.5 years.  Historically, it was left if barrel because an order had been cancelled or there was a lack of demand for that vintage.  They usually stay in barrel for 4 to 6 years and can be filtered or unfiltered.  I know this one is unfiltered, but if there is no mention of filtration on the bottle usually the cork is the give away.  If it has a normal wine style cork, it is usually unfiltered.  If it comes with a stopper type cork, its filtered.

Dark red and purple in the glass with intense aromas of clove, mulberry, white pepper, raisins, plums and dates.  Well textured in the mouth with a sweet/savoury thing going on.  Just the right level of sweetness and very good length.  Bursting with Christmas cake, plum, and mulberry on the palate.  This is great value, I don't think you'll find better for the money.  90 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $26 (375ml) Closure: Conventional Cork