NV Bollinger Special Cuvee and a Spanish Cava

Before going to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in a particular place, we joined our friends for a couple of bubbles and some assorting food. We had some Bellota Iberian Ham, some Spanish assortment of cheeses and a small jar of Russian Beluga Caviar. By far the Caviar and the Bellota were the best match for Bollinger.

Dom Potier Cava Gozalez Byass

Pale light yellow lemon color with small bubbles. Fresh nose of medium intensity, with plenty of citric fruit and marzipan, while on the palate is clean. The finish is medium with pleasant intensity. (83-84/100)

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee N.V.

The richness of this Champagne can be immediately guessed simply by the intensity of its color. Deeper yellow lemon color with smoother and richer bubbles. The nose is elegant, with plenty of fresh citric fruits, baked apple, spices, mixed with shades of salty and nutty aromas, while in the mouth the wine is creamy and rich on the palate, the bubbles just add more spark to his remarkable vinous character. A medium plus finish with great wet stone like minerality and mouth-watering acidity make this an extremely easy to drink Champagne. (89-90/100)

The Caviar’s saltiness and the Bellota’s nuttiness were greatly matched by the richness and the corresponding Bollinger flavors. One of the best N.V. Champagnes in my opinion.

2001 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial

It’s more than one year since I last had this wine. Here is my previous comment on the wine. I know that 2001 was an excellent vintage in Rioja and Ygay is one of the acclaimed wines in the region.

2001 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Rioja

Blend of 93% Tempranillo and 7% Mazuelo, aged for 31 months in small American oak barrels. 14% alc

The wine has a red garnet color. The nose is well developed and oaky, still showing primary aromas, with plenty of red and black fruit jams, dry plums, spices and a touch of tobacco. In the mouth this is a completely different wine from what I remember: it gained a lot in body since my last taste, it feels almost full body; there are plenty of tannins, but they are ripe and pleasant. The wine is rich, almost concentrated on the palate, with considerable amount of flavors, showing power rather than elegance. The finish is medium plus long, fruity and spicy. This is coming as a modernist, concentrated wine, lacking the charming old school Rioja character that makes those wines so food-friendly. (90/100)

There is  a good potential for aging and, frankly speaking, aging for another 3-5 years should be mandatory for this wine.

1999 CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva Rioja

Had this wine on SAT at a friend’s house. He bought it from Spain almost 1 year ago and finally uncorked it this weekend.

1999 CVNE Vina Real Gran Reserva Rioja

Deep dark red color. The nose is well developed, intense and maturing, filled with primary and secondary aromas and classic Rioja: orange peel, a touch of brett, red fruit and tobacco. Medium to full bodied, the wine seems a touch heavy and lacks the acidity of a Rioja Alta, but compensate with ripe and round tannins, and the richness of flavors on the palate: red cherry, gooseberry, cranberry, cocoa and tobacco. Quite forward, rich in fruit and oaky. The finish is medium with lingering fruity and oaky flavors in the aftertaste. While there is plenty of fruit and a certain lack of typical Rioja bright acidity, the wine is a pleasant drink with its secondary aromas. (89-90/100)

Aalto PS 2006 and Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel Riesling 2008

I firmly believe that drinking an impressive wine is a celebration in itself. Combined with a special occasion, like the anniversary of a dear friend, we have the x-ray of a perfect event. Last evening I had a lovely dinner with my good friend Dan, celebrating his birthday at a restaurant in Piata Operei – Trattoria Roma. Dan is a wine lover as well, so the meal was accompanied by two amazing wines: Aalto PS 2006 and Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel Riesling 2008. We had a very tasty three course meal together with the two wines we brought in.

I am an advocate of pairing wine with food and I also try to have at least two wines with my meal when time allows. Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying you should drink 2 entire bottles. Alcohol consumption should be treated responsibly, but having 2 glasses of wine, each from each bottle, is more than enough to have a memorable dinner.

Franz Hirtzberger Federspiel Riesling 2008

Franz Hirtzberger, top Wachau producer with 20ha, is one of the seminal figures in a new generation of Austrian winemakers. His winery, located above the village of Spitz, lies on the Danube at the western end of Wachau. 2008 was a nerve racking vintage that could produce outstanding results in the hands of the most careful producers. Protracted cool and rainy spells in Oct and Nov made harvesting very difficult in Lower Austria and in the Burgenland, but in the southern regions, the autumn was more clement.

I have mentioned in a previous review of another Riesling the wines classification in Austria and you can read them here. Federspiel (named after a falconry device) is allowed 11.5% to 12.5% alcohol, roughly equivalent to Kabinett.

The wine has a clear gold color and an oily appearance in the glass. The nose shows flavors of honey, minerals, already discreet petrol aromas, white flowers and pears. In the mouth the wine is medium to full body with pears, green apples, nice minerality, everything wrapped into a beautiful very high acidity. Loved it. The wine finishes with a medium mineral aftertaste. That high minerality makes this a very good wine.

We had this wine with mussels in a white wine sauce. Not ideally as the wine was heavier than the food but a very nice pairing.

Aalto PS 2006

Bodega Aalto was founded in 1999 by Javier Zaccagnini, formerly director of the Consejo Regulador de Ribera del Duero for 6 years, and Mariano Garcia, who was head winemaker at Vega Sicilia from 1968 to 1998. Aalto wines are the product of 100 ha of vines, comprising more than 250 parcels spread out over the various terroir’s of DO Ribera del Duero. No parcel is more than 3 ha, and no vine is less than 40 years old. The standard cuvee is named simply Aalto, with the bodega’s top wine called Aalto PS- Pagos Seleccionados (selected parcels). Tinto fino(Tempranillo) is the only grape used for the wines. Until 2005, wines were made at a rented winery facility in Roa, but Aalto is now based in a winery at Quintanilla de Arriba. The basic wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in steel vats, but for Aalto PS barrels are used.

Aalto PS 2006 spent 30 months in new French oak and is made from vineyards planted in the 1920s or earlier. The wine has an opaque dark/purple color. I just love the smell of a Spanish beast locked in a bottle. The smell of the wine simply fills up the entire room with its aromas. The wine is thick, leaving many lazy legs coming down after swirling the glass. It has a very sweet lactic nose with pretty much all the specter of the wine aromas: ripe dark fruits, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, ripe dark cherries, floral flavors: violets, spices, thyme, rosemary, cigar box, earth, mushrooms. It is the most complex nose I smelled so far. In the mouth the wine is full body, almost Port like, it creates a creamy mouth-feel. The wine is impressive, showing real finesse with over ripe, but not jammy, dark berries: blackcurrant, blackberry, tobacco, violets, chocolate, cocoa, mocha, even meaty everything wrapped in a sweet vanilla flavor from the oak. The wine shows immense balance and depth with layers and layers of flavors. When you have this nose and the mouth-feel you would expect the wine to finish with a sweet sensation. But that’s where this wine gains in complexity and surprises: the wine finishes in a very, very long aftertaste with a beautiful pure dark chocolate bitterness that stays with you forever.

If I may turn a negative into a positive and use the words of some of my readers, this wine is decadent, pure obscenity, that good it is. The best wine I had this year. Excellent+

This wine has a price level of 65-70 EUR in Spain, so next time you visit Spain make sure to break the piggy bank and buy one of this bottles.

You can serve this wine with any big food. We drank this wine with our next two courses: penne with beef, sour cream and tomato sauce and the last course: rare grilled beef with mushrooms and grilled vegetables. Perfect match.

I wish my good friend Dan Happy Birthday and best of luck and thank him for sharing this amazing Spanish red.

Even 4 h later, the wine was still fresh on my memory and I could really feel that amazing smell while watching the markets in the US falling sharply. Strange how the memory works when you are on the right side of the trade.

Thanks for reading…

2001 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial

After so much lamb from Easter i wanted to eat something softer and decided to cook some turkey with garlic and chilly stuffed into the meat and roasted in olive oil for dinner. As a matter of fact first was the wine selection and then the food, but don’t tell anyone. The wine is something special.

First of all very brief about Marques de Murrieta. Marques de Murrieta is unquestionably one of the leading bodegas in Rioja. Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial is a traditional Tempranillo dominated blend, which following on from six months in vat will often see in excess of 36 months in American oak before bottling. There is also a Reserva Especial, a similar blend also subject to prolonged wood ageing; both wines are only made in the best vintages, otherwise Marqués de Murrieta will produce a range of standard Gran Reservas and Reservas. Castillo Ygay has the same label for over 100 years. Just to get even  a better idea about the quality and potential of such a cuvee, in 1986 the Bodega started to bottle the 1942 vintage, that was kept in barrels for 44 years. It seems that the barrels had so much tar crystals on the inside that the wine was practically kept in a glass like container. Starting with the 90′ due to financing issues they shortened the barrel aging.

2001 was an exceptional vintage in Rioja that produced extremely complex wines with huge aging potential. The 2001 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial was kept in American oak barrels for 36 months. This wine has an aging potential of 50+years.

This was one of the top 10 wines included in the Top 100 wines of 2009 of Wine and Spirits magazine.

Color: red with purple color with some brick color at the rim.

Nose: very complex, red and dark fruits, cigar box, vanilla, spices, mint, some meaty tones as well.

Taste: this is real finesse, pure silk; intense flavors of red fruits and American oak(not over-oaked, just perfectly balanced), fine tannins, chocolate, red peppercorn,dry plums, medium acidity. Palate very Bordeaux with great complexity.

The aftertaste is holding over and over finishing with spicy flavors.

This wine is exceptional. If you ever get the chance to find this wine BUY IT. I paid 34 EUR for this bottle. I bought this wine in one of my trips in Barcelona, but the good news is that there is a store in Sibiu and they do have the wine.

This wine gave far more flavor and was more satisfying than the Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001 that i had for Easter for drastically less money.

Numanthia 2006

Numanthia 2006

100% Tempranillo from 50+ years old vines from Toro,Spain, 18 months in French oak. Deep red to purple colour, thick. Nose – Sweet vanilla nose, spice, dark fruits, dark red cherries, cassis. Mouth is massive with rich flavors of black and red fruits, good balance,dark chocolate, leather, nice acidity, full body wine, tannins are silky. Aftertaste lasts 30-40s. The 15% alc is perfectly contained. Very complex wine,very elegant, young but still very pleasant to drink now. At least 1 h decant. Ideally should be put in a decanter for 1h 30 min at least.