Piedmont at Siggy's

Tasted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 by Dave Dalluge with 489 views

Introduction

The Kitchen Tasting Group completed a magnificant series of Wednesday night tastings in January with a night of Piedmont wines at Steve’s house. This is a great venue for a tasting. We started in Steve’s massive kitchen while the food was being prepared, and then moved to the banquet room for dinner. The banquet room is a huge room set off from the main house with heated floors, white-washed walnut paneling (ceiling and all), plenty of windows and an excellent sound system. The music got louder and louder as the night wore on.

Flight 1 - Starters (2 Notes)

Steve had the Fevre open when I arrived to help with the cooking. Chris Palm supplied the magnum of Veuve Clicquot. These wines were served in the kitchen with a fine selection of cheeses (courtesy of Brad England), olives, and garlic and pancetta crostini (made by me).

  • 2004 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 92 Points

    France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru

    A beautiful way to kick off the evening. The nose is extremely expressive with the smell of limes playing a leading role and apple, citrus and mineral adding secondary nuance. In the mouth this feels somewhat heavy but has good intensity and very nice flavors (apple, lime, mineral and oak/butter). I have no guess as to how this will develop with age, but it is showing very well right now.

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  • NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted from Magnum. Chris Palm estimated that this particular bottle was at least ten years old. What a showing. The nose was elegant and extremely expressive, featuring a divine "woodsy" smell that was complimented by smoke, mushroom and citrus fruit. Awesome. In the mouth this was all business with very little mousse but great weight and expansive, palate-coating flavors. Perfect balance and a long, lingering finish. Unbelievably good, and I'm pretty sure the entire magnum disappeared.

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Flight 2 - Older Reds (2 Notes)

We started on the reds while still in the kitchen. Consensus was to start with the ’61 Monfortino for fear that it would fade in time. We then moved on to the ’90 Conteisa. Chris and Steve were working feverishly while the rest of us calmly sipped on these excellent wines.

  • 1961 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino Speciale

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    Double decanted about two hours before serving. The color is a pale orange/brown but crystal clear. My initial whiff of the nose was strongly maderized, but this seemed to integrate/fade with time leaving an aromatic potpourri -- onion skin, pepper, dried herbs/truffle, mineral, brown sugar and brandy among others. This seemed to be a new wine with each new whiff. The taste was excellent with a cherry base and plenty of secondary nuance. The flavor intensity starts strong, fades a bit at mid-palate, and then finishes strong. A bit on the acidic side but nice. The finish lingered and lingered. Thanks to Brad for sharing another gem from his cellar.

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  • 1990 Gromis (Gaja) Barolo Conteisa Cerequio 91 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    Decanted shortly before serving. Suffered by its placement after the '61 Monfortino. The color is a solid ruby red that fades to a light red/brown at the rim of the glass. The nose is an intriguing blend of cherry, tobacco, ash and mushroom but ultimately seems simple. In the mouth this comes across as rustic due to a rough texture. Flavors feature faded red fruit, mineral and coffee. Showing a bit acidic but has nice lenght on the finish. Fun but far outclassed by the other wines on this night.

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Flight 3 - First Course (2 Notes)

The first course was an excellent pasta put together by Chris and Steve. Steve has a great source for fresh fettucini and the sauce was comprised of onions, red peppers, mushrooms, cream and gorgonzola. This had tons of flavor and paired very well with this flight of wines.

  • 1997 Aldo e Riccardo Seghesio Barolo Vigneto la Villa 91 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    The nose offers sweet red cherry fruit mixed with tar and green coffee. Nice enough but relatively simple. In the mouth this gives a forward expression of dark fruit and oak without much other nuance. I thought the finish turned slightly hot, but otherwise finished well.

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  • 2000 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia 96 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    One whiff tells you that this wine features extremely ripe fruit. The smell is dominated by piercing and pure black fruit aromas that are just on the right side of the threshold for VA/nail polish. Secondary aromas of earth, tar, nuts and mineral fill in to make this complex and interesting. The taste is equally pure and delights with a fruit driven melange of liquor of black fruit, licorice, tar and earth. No oak discernable at all. The flavor intensity is really spectacular from the attack through mid-palate and finish. Just awesome intensity. Surprisingly well structured -- given the purity of the fruit. Great finish. I kept thinking '97 Harlan while I tasted this (but with the VA in check). This is a special wine.

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Flight 4 - Dinner (4 Notes)

Dinner was served with the Gaja flight. Steve prepared an excellent Barolo braised beef (he used a 1999 Pio Cesare Barolo – “It’s the cheapest Barolo I own.”) This was served with bok choy and marinated mushrooms. I don’t know how much beef Steve made, but I do know it disappeared in a hurry. The pairing with the wine worked spectacularly well.

  • 1996 Gaja Barbaresco 95 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    For some reason this was controversial. The colo ris a beautiful ruby red. The nose is dark and brooding, but features an awesome collection of aromas -- dark fruit, prune/raisin, spice, tar, licorice, smoke, tobacco and a touch of barnyard. Obviously holding back compared to the more forward '97 paired with it. The taste is equally stern but delivers a satisfying blast of pure dark fruit with lovely secondary flavors. Showing more structure than fruit. Extremely tannic. Extremely satisfying finish. Showing well now, but should age gracefully forever.

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  • 1997 Gaja Barbaresco 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco

    Another excellent wine that many called WOTF. The nose is a big and forward -- dare I say simple -- melange of red cherry fruit, oak, and espresso. Much sluttier than the '96 in the next glass. In the mouth this is soft and balanced with a fruit forward demeanor. Flavors feature red fruit, coffee/espresso, licorice and oak. Extremely tannic. It may that choosing between the '96 and '97 comes down to mood -- as both are excellent wines. Last time I had this pair I preferred the '97, but on this night I preferred the '96. I'm looking forward to the tie-breaker!!

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  • 1997 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sperss 95 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC

    This proved to be another powerhouse built along the lines of the '96 Barbaresco. The nose is a broodding but expressive blend of dark cherry, black fruit, tar and licorice with some floral notes. On the palate this is massive/concentrated yet surprisingly structured. Flavors of extremely ripe dark fruit, licorice and coffee/espresso pound the taste buds with incredible intensity. Extremely tannic. Great length on the satisfying finish. This gem needs many more years in the cellar to show at peak, but was a great thrill last night.

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  • 2001 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Conteisa 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC

    It's really unfair to flight this against the '96 and '97 Gajas. Seemed like a barrel sample showing primary red fruit with a healthy dose of oak and not much in the way of secondary aromas. On the palate this rewards with a youthful dose of concentrated red fruit complimented by earth and tobacco flavors. Pure and sweet with a nice long finish and excellent balance. I'd say hands off for at least five more years. Rated 94 based on the raw materials and my optimism for consumption in the future.

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Flight 5 - Monfortino Redux (2 Notes)

As we finished dinner we moved on to the next flight of wines.

  • 1998 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga d'Alba 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    This showed surprisingly well. The nose features red fruit, rose petal/flower, white pepper, tar, earth and mineral. Good intensity and a delight to smell. In the mouth this delivers a balanced expression of red fruit, tobacco and tar. Balanced but showing a lovely lift via acidity that comes on at mid-palate and leads to a long, satisfying finish. Doesn't quite have the complexity of the other stars on this night, but I suppose this could develop with some additional bottle age.

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  • 1997 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    With the way this showed I'm glad I left the '98 Monfortino at home in the cellar. Brad double decanted this eight to ten hours before serving -- and claimed it whispered, "I'm in the running for WOTN." The color is an opaque dark red. On the nose this gives simple/clumsy aromas of red fruit and oak. With coaxing you can add cinnamon/spice, flowers, mineral and an off-putting aroma that reminded me of minnows (sorry). On the palate this is huge and intense but mainly dark fruit and oak. The finish is long but not particularly satisfying. This is my second time with this wine, and the first experience was far, far superior to this one. My vote would be to let these sleep quietly and ignore any whispering you may hear emanating from the bottles.

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Flight 6 - Dessert (2 Notes)

I prepared a Duchess of Parma Torte for dessert. Unfortunately, in my rush to get out of the house in the morning, I forgot this in the refrigerator. It is 45 minutes each way between Steve’s house and my house, so we had to go without. Fortunately, Steve had a tray of Italian cookies that worked very well for dessert.

  • 1997 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sorì Ginestra 93 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    Another awesome nose that soars with cherry, tar, rose petal and a subdued vanilla/oak. Awesome and expressive. The taste is equally good feature concentrated and ripe black fruit, tar, coffee and tobacco. Nice balance and a great finish. I think this is in a nice drinking spot, but is in no danger of fading any time soon.

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  • 2001 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sperss 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC

    Built along the lines of the '97, but seemed like a barrel sample showing primary red fruit with some tar and not much else in the way of secondary aromas. On the palate this delivers concentrated red fruit with tobacco notes. Plenty of structure to balance out the fruit. Pure and sweet (like the '01 Conteisa). Great finish. Far too young to be serving now -- hands off for at least ten more years. Rated 94 based on the raw materials but could ultimately prove to be even better.

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Flight 7 - Mystery Wine (1 Note)

Next up was the mystery wine. Steve appeared with the wine in a decanter and proceeded to badger us into guessing the wine. As I’ve never had any vintage of this wine I had no shot of nailing this one. I don’t think anyone else got close either.

  • 1995 Chateau Musar 92 Points

    Lebanon, Bekaa Valley

    Popped and poured at cellar temp. Served blind by Steve. The nose gives very ripe dark fruit with earth, forrest floor "funk," mint, leather, pepper and tobacco. Pretty in an understated way. In the mouth this gives concentrated black fruit with some brown sugar. Well balanced but smaller scaled than the Barolos. Nice finish. I guess California Syrah and would have never guessed Musar -- a wine I had never had -- even if given 1000 guesses. Thanks Steve.

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Flight 8 - Having Too Much Fun To Call It A Night (4 Notes)

With the tasting winding down the group turned ugly – demanding d’Yquem. We were calling for a 2001, but Steve graciously supplied the excellent 1990. This seemed to revive our palates and gear us up for some more wine. The 1990 Tig was on the table and was quickly opened. Steve tried to keep the music in check for his family, but Brad and I kept turning it louder and louder, and eventually Steve gave up. Brad was really getting into the music. Talk turned to Richebourg, and eventually the crowd demanded more wine – preferably a Richebourg. Steve again acquiesced to the will of the group (actually, he seemed like a willing conspirator) – returning from his cellar with a stunning pair of Burgundies. Steve had prepared the guest room for me, and I’d had enough so I stumbled up the stairs and collapsed into bed. In the morning I discovered that the party had continued for quite some time.

  • 1990 Château d'Yquem 96 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Popped and poured to satisfy the menacing crowd (we were calling for the 2001). The color is an opaque golden yellow. This is thick and honeyed but has just enough acidity to keep this well balanced and light on its feet. Rated 96 for now, but I suspect it could approach perfection if given enough time in the cellar. An awesome way to finish the tasting until three more bottles were popped.

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  • 1990 Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT

    Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT

    I had been looking forward to drinking this bottle for over a year. What a disappointment. Popped and poured. The nose was so stinky (diapers, barnyard, worse) that I could barely force myself to taste it. The taste was better (dark fruit, balanced, good length on the finish), but ulitimately I found this undrinkable.

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  • 2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 96 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Richebourg Grand Cru

    Popped and poured at cellar temperature. For some reason the crowd was now chanting Richebourg. I don't recall what precipitated this, but we were not to be denied. Steve graciously delivered this to the table to pacify his now adoring fans. Wow, did this wake up the palate. My notes are sketchy as I was in savoring mode. The nose was classic DRC with both red fruit and spice playing dominant role, but with a constantly evolving and complex character. Awesome. The taste was equally profound with perfect balance and no hint of oak to be found. Pure but with some secondary nuance already appearing. Great finish. I had the foresight to take my glass up to the bedroom when my energy gave out and discovered that this was equally profound in the morning. Awesome stuff.

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  • 2004 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée 95 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée

    Popped and poured to pair with the '01 DRC Richebourg. What looked like a potential drubbing actually proved to be a pretty fair fight. The nose is an exhuberant blend of dark cherry, asian spice, sour cherry, coffee, and floral notes. The taste is awesome with sappy dark fruit and plenty of personality. Great concentration. Perfect balance with excellent acidity appearing by mid-palate. Great length on the finish. This is drinking great now. Amazing. I wonder if the 04 Richebourg ended up in this blend?

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Closing

Hard to call a WOTN with this collection of wines. For the Piedmont wines I would narrow it down to the '97 Sperss and the '00 Conterno Gran Bussia. While I'm still a bit conflicted about it, I would say the Conterno was the better wine on this night. However, when taking into consideration all of the wine served the DRC Richebourg was my favorite. Thanks to Steve for throwing such an awesome event to close out our January tastings. Next up is planning for our February tastings.

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