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Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
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Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.
NEWLY RELEASED 2011 PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO WINES,  4 GROWER CHAMPAGNES …




4 GROWER CHAMPAGNES
These wines are imported by Chris Ayson and Richard Starr of the newly established (but implausibly named) wine firm Cave du Cochon,  Auckland.  A website is under development (www.caveducochon.com).

   nv  Champagne Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve
   nv  Champagne Clos de La Chapelle Instinct Brut Premier Cru
     nv  Champagne P. Lancelot Royer Cuvée de Reserve RR Blanc de Blancs Brut
   nv  Champagne R H Coutier Tradition Brut


nv  Champagne Clos de La Chapelle Instinct Brut Premier Cru   17 ½ +  ()
Villedommange,  Champagne,  France:   – %;  $59   [ supercritical Diam cork;  PM 60,  PN 25,  Ch 15;  tirage exceeds 15 months,  no detail available,  minimum 3 years en tirage only for the vintage wines;  MLF and reserve wines used;  made by a co-op of 23 village growers;  www.cldelachapelle.com ]
Straw.  A clean and fragrant bouquet clearly showing pleasant light autolysis and near-floral pinot meunier dominance in the cepage.  Palate has fair fruit and texture,  again with meunier dominant and some complexing autolysis baguette-crust flavours.  The whole wine style is remarkably reminiscent of the nv Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve,  but with less beautiful autolysis and fractionally greater dosage,  say 8 g/L. This is much the most pure / most regular of these four grower champagnes,  confuseable with a good grande marque non-vintage.  Best drunk in the first six years or so.  GK 05/16

nv  Champagne Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve   17 +  ()
Montagne de Reims,  Champagne,  France:   – %;  $74   [ traditional compound champagne cork;  PN,  PM,  Ch equal parts;  a minority house in that there is no MLF (like Lanson);  30% of the assemblage is reserve wine;  tirage detail not available,  hard to find facts on the website;  www.bereche.com ]
Straw with a salmon flush,  not as deep as nv Lindauer Special Reserve though.  Bouquet here is a notch 'wilder' than the Chapelle or Royer wines,  much more clearly grower champagne.  The aromatic pinot noir component seems dominant,  red fruits complexed by trace esters and the wild note more apparent than the quality of autolysis.  Palate shows good fruit,  and seems the driest of these four wines.  That is hard to assess though,  since if the proprietor does not put the wines through malo,  it will taste drier.  On close  inspection against the Billecart Brut Reserve,  maybe dosage is about 7 g/L,  fitting in with the others.   Autolysis flavours become more apparent on palate.  This wine would not fare quite so well in formal / more technical tastings,  but nonetheless works well with food,  savouries etc.  Cellar 3 – 12 years.  GK 05/16

nv  Champagne P. Lancelot Royer Cuvée de Reserve RR Blanc de Blancs Brut   16 ½ +  ()
Cramant,  Champagne,  France:   – %;  $64   [ traditional compound champagne cork;  Ch 100;  no detail available as to time on lees,  MLF understood to be employed;  some reserve wines held in old foudres;  details from a more expensive Royer label confused with this nv wine,  not certain this cheapest label is 100% grand cru vineyards;  no website found ]
Lemon,  some 'weight' to the colour.  Bouquet is both stronger than nv Lindauer Blanc de Blancs Reserve,  and more 'wild'.  But it is clearly a blanc de blancs,  complexed with good autolysis,  plus some unsubtly strong citrus zest. Palate is tending firm for a chardonnay,  perhaps from the reserve wines which may be held in big old wood, but you can't identify it as such.  Perhaps it adds a Vogels Multigrain note to bouquet and palate.  This is more clearly a grower champagne,  not quite the clinical purity of the grandes marques,  but attractive  throughout,  in a bold way.  Dosage around 7 g/L.  This should cellar 5 – 15 years.  GK 05/16

nv  Champagne R H Coutier Tradition Brut   16 ½  ()
Ambonnay,  Champagne,  France:   – %;  $67   [ traditional compound champagne cork;  PN 68%,  Ch 32;  apparently 50% only of the base wine goes through MLF;  tirage detail not available;  conflicting info on merchant websites ]
Straw.  On bouquet this is fractionally the 'wildest' of the four,  making it quite distinct from the average grande marque wine.  The high pinot noir is not particularly evident on bouquet,  which is a little strange (at least in this bottle),  but it is on palate,  where there is a suggestion of light tannin structure underpinning some autolysis and fruit flavours.  There is a hint of mushroom too,  in the red fruits. This is fractionally the sweetest of these four wines,  in contradistinction to info on-line,  but is still clearly less than Lindauer Special Reserve,  say 8 – 9 g/L.  Perhaps not a wine for long-term cellar,  say 3 – 8 years.  GK 05/16


10 PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO WINES
The annual tasting of the Produttori del Barbaresco Cooperative wines from the Barbaresco zone of Piedmont is always a treat.  This year it is the 2011s,  a highly-regarded vintage (Wine Spectator rating:  94).  The singular aromas of the nebbiolo grape,  redolent of very aromatic cherries with some savoury / floral aromatics hinting at lavender and rosemary yet more subtle,  are a delight. The wines tend to high alcohol,  firm acid and high natural tannin,  yet could not be less like wines  from Australia with similar (not always natural) attributes.  On bouquet there is almost a pinot noir-like delicacy to the best of them,  that impression changing abruptly on tasting,  with a remarkable concentration of wonderfully fine-grained grape tannins on palate.  In addition to red grading to black cherry fruit characters,  the wines vary from raspberry-like red fruits to dark berries hinting at boysenberry,  but never so unsubtle.

No doubt those who live and work with nebbiolo every day see in them just as much complexity,  subtlety  and differentiation as we in New Zealand see in pinot noir or syrah.  Thus approaching the wines from a New  Zealand standpoint,  the overwhelming impression is of the similarity of varietal style,  notwithstanding the  piquancy and aromatics on bouquet.  In mouth there is more variation,  from a concentration and prominence  of tannins viewpoint,  but the net impression is still how fragrant,  aromatic,  supple yet tannic,  and incredibly  food-friendly these wines are.

The notes below are therefore more introductory than usual.  They reward what I see as nebbiolo varietal  character,  described in all the old texts as smelling of raspberries and tar.  The favourite wine for the group was more in the middle for me.  I wondered if that wine might have found such favour simply because it was the most pinot noir-like wine in the set.

Barbaresco achieved its own DoC in 1966.  Standard Barbaresco wines spend 9 months or so in oak,  commonly large oak,  whereas the Riservas for the individual cru wines must be held 2 years in oak,  and 4 years all told in the winery before release.  These intervals are shorter than for Barolo,  meaning the wines are usually a little softer and more food-friendly.  At Produttori del Barbaresco the cru wines are made with long cuvaisons  varying from 27 – 40 days depending on the grapes and the season,  then in general spend 36 months or so in large oak,  and are then held in the winery until the prescribed 48 or 50 months from vintage has elapsed.  

Produttori del Barbaresco was established in 1958.  The cooperative itself now comprises 50 – 56 growers (no two reports are the same),  with membership tightly controlled.  It is very highly regarded amongst the cooperatives of Europe,  and operates by strict rules for members,  key among which is members cannot bottle under their own label.  This ensures the Co-op gets the best fruit.  Growers are paid for their grapes on the basis of measurable analysis,  plus an assessment of the ripeness in terms of phenolics and tannins.  This serves to ensure lowish cropping rates,  and hence higher quality.  They vinify c.17% of the wine designation Barbaresco.  They make a regional Barbaresco,  and in the better years,  nine individual village vineyard wines or crus.  The style of the wine seems to me to place emphasis on balance and charm ahead of size and cellar potential,  but nonetheless dry extracts seem pretty good and the saturation of fine-grained nebbiolo tannin in the wine should ensure good cellar life.  The winemaking style is modern,  the wines showing stunning purity,  a far cry from the prematurely-aged nebbiolos of yesteryear.  Yet even those wines cellared for a surprisingly long time.

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Asili Riserva
2012  Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Montefico Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Muncagotta (formerly Moccagatta) Riserva
  2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Ovello Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Paje Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Pora Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva
2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva


2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Asili Riserva   18 ½ +  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  one of the deeper wines,  but still within the colour-span of pinot noir.  Bouquet sets the scene for the whole set,  being the most varietally fragrant,  dark aromatic cherry,  nearly floral but certainly savoury with a lift in a rosemary / thyme sense,  neither alcohol or oak obtrusive.  Palate shows rich darkish fruit,  cherry flavours darker than raspberry,  suggestions of nebbiolo tar,  and good dominance of berry over abundant fine-grained tannins.  Aftertaste is long and highly varietal.  This is marvellous Barbaresco,  and more accessible than some.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Montefico Riserva   18 ½  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  the second deepest wine.  Bouquet is just a little more fumey and aromatic than Asili,  fragrant red fruits,  and the oak showing slightly more than some.  Flavour includes nearly a hint of cassis in the dark cherry,  with lovely aromatics a little more zingy than the Asili,  all with slightly more tannin too.  This is lovely wine.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Ovello Riserva   18 ½  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  right in the middle for depth.  Though lighter in colour,  in this wine the bouquet comes across as showing a darker phase of the nebbiolo berry spectrum,  aromatic cherries again but a faint suggestion of bottled black doris plums too.  The garrigue-like savoury herbes are there as well.  Palate shows gorgeous fruit,  the same weight as Asili but a darker shade,  and those beautiful ripe grape tannins.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva   18 +  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  below midway in depth,  more the weight of traditional burgundy.  Bouquet combines the red cherry and raspberry suggestions of nebbiolo with herbes and oak,  and a suggestion of crushed almonds.  Palate is softish,  round,  yet the furry tannins are still all-pervasive.  In some ways this is the least demanding / most rewarding of these cru nebbiolos,  but it is by no means weak.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva   18  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  a little more age showing here,  the second to lightest wine.  Bouquet is almost sweetly floral,  nearly roses,  with red fruits dominant,  plus a gentle fumey lift.  Palate continues the bouquet,  softish red fruits,  and even though the tannin structure is so different from pinot noir,  there is a reminder of that grape all through.  Aftertaste is a little shorter,  on the lighter tannins.  Cellar 5 – 15 years.  This wine was the group favourite.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Pora Riserva   18  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  midway in depth.  Bouquet is a little quieter on this one,  but with the same stunning purity,  red fruits,   savoury aromatic herbes,  and alcohol lift.  Flavours are aromatic,  not quite as plump as the top wines,  but still highly varietal on both the berry aromatics and the lovely ripe tannin structure.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Muncagotta (formerly Moccagatta) Riserva   17 ½ +  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  one of the lighter colours.  Bouquet is leaner on this wine,  giving the impression of less berry so more oak is apparent,  though still totally in style with the group of wines.  Palate also seems leaner,  pleasant red fruits but the tannins intruding more than in the top-rated examples.  Perhaps it is not quite so concentrated,   yet when you go back and forth over the other wines it seems to improve in that respect.  The fact is,  any of these cru wines would be delicious with food.  In these notes one is striving to find points of difference.  Cellar 5 – 20  years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano Riserva   17 ½ +  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  fractionally the deepest wine.  Bouquet is fragrant but more with a vanillin oak quality than the red fruits and tar of the top wines.  Palate shows good fruit,  but the tannin level seems noticeably higher,  giving the wine a firmness and length that seems slightly hollow.  Perhaps all it needs is time to soften.  Cellar 5 – 20 years.  GK 05/16

2011  Produttori del Barbaresco Paje Riserva   17 ½  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14.5%;  $82   [ 50mm cork;  the cellar approach to the wines is consistent across all the crus,  but detail varies with the season.  In general cuvaisons are 3 - 4 weeks,  in lined concrete vats,  followed by at least 3 years in older large oak variously 2,500 - 7,500 litres;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Ruby,  midway in depth.  Bouquet here is a little firmer,  with a suggestion of stem tannin right up front,   backed by savoury and aromatic red fruits.  Palate however immediately redeems the wine,  showing better berry and flesh than the bouquet suggested,  though the tannins seem higher than some,  giving a long aftertaste in which the stemmy note returns.  Cellar 5 – 25 years.  GK 05/16

2012  Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco   16 ½ +  ()
Barbaresco DOCG,  Piedmont,  Northern Italy,  Italy:  14%;  $58   [ 50mm cork;  elevation more 20 days cuvaison,  then 24 months in large wood;  www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com ]
Rosy ruby,  clearly the lightest wine,  by far.  Bouquet is aromatic,  savoury,  lean in one sense with savoury dry herbes,  yet some red fruits too.  Palate is totally in style with the named crus,  just less concentrated,  and noticeably lower in depth of grape flavour and dry extract,  so the stems are showing more.  Again,  a good food wine,  but less likely to be taken seriously.  Cellar 3 – 10 years.  GK 05/16