Tasting Note #24 – artisan wine from Basilicata: Carbone Vini “Rosa” Aglianico 2013 & Fiano de Avellino 2013

Those two Italian specimen come from a tasting pack that I have recently ordered at www.vinonostrum.net. I wanted to try another tasting pack, using a 15% off voucher that was offered via their weekly newsletter. I decided for the Carbone Vini tasting pack, consiting of 3 different Aglianico reds (steeltank, big barrel & barrique), 2 Aglianico blanc de noir and 1 Fiano di Avellino white. I am a big fan of Aglianico! I was very curious so of course it did not take long until the first bottles were opened. It was very hot so I went for the Fiano and the blanc de noir. The facts are these…

Name: “Rosa” Aglianico / Fiano de Avellino
Producer: Carbone Vini
Region: Italy (Basilicata)
Type: blanc de noir (according to the website) / white
Vintage: 2013
Variety: 100% Aglianico / 100% Fiano de Avellino
Vinification: steeltank
ABV: 13.5% / 13%
Style: dry
Seal: composite cork
Source: www.vinonostrum.net
Price: 13€ / 14€

“Rosa” Aglianico
1st bottle of the Carbone tasting pack, an Aglianico blanc de noir, “from young vines on volcanic soil, this comes just from soft pressing, without any skin contact”.
Eye:
Pale orange-salmon colour, slow legs.
Nose: Nose of wild strawberry, rose petal & other floral notes, med intense. (11.5/15)
Palate: Fresh palate, spicy, subtle herbal notes, salty, saline/marine touch, light berry aromas, med+ acidity. (11.5/15)
Body/Balance: Med body, med concentration, good balance. (7/10)
Finish: Med-long salty finish with sublte berry notes. (7/10)
Overall: Overall very good, nice play between saltiness and subtle berry fruit.
11.5+11.5+7+7(+50) = 87/100p

Fiano de Avellino
Very interesting wine. At the beginning I wasnt sure about it, so strange in smell & taste. One day later things were clearer.
Eye:
Pale golden colour, oily rims.
Nose: Unique style, slightly oxidized smell, dried apricots & raisins, mineral freshness entering your nose, med intense. (11/15)
Palate: Intense palate, very concentrated, ripe, rum raisins, dried figs & yellow stone fruit. Dominating med+ acidity, very mineralic, salty. (11/15)
Body/Balance: Med body, good concentration & balance. (7/10)
Finish: Lasting dry finish, refreshing, some alcoholic heat. (7/10)
Overall: A bit heavy actually, a good wine though. Special.
11+11+7+7(+50) = 86/100p

Conclusion:
Both have that distinct salty touch which is surely an expression of the terroir. Entry level wines, not cheap nor expensive. But for sure you get a nice piece of artisan winemaking and a real tasting experience! I never had comparable wines so far.

Pairing:
The Aglianico It is said to be a super match with pizza. Lucky me my neighbours invited my for dinner, I brought this bottle and guess what they made. 😉
The Fiano would be better as food wine with some fatty/creamy pasta dishes or fish. Could imagine it to be a top partner for tagliatelle with salmon in cream-lemon sauce.

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Tasting Note #23 – family business: Balzhäuser Chardonnay Spätlese 2013 & Weisser Burgunder Auslese 2013

I found the Balzhäuser wines pretty good, so I decided to feature my two favourites. I liked the slightly barrel aged whites most, it is just my thing when it comes to whites.

Name: Alsheimer Frühmesse Chardonnay Spätlese Trocken / Alsheimer Goldberg Weisser Burgunder Auslese Trocken
Producer: Dr. H. Balzhäuser
Region: Germany (Rheinhessen)
Type: white wine
Vintage: 2013
Variety: 100% Chardonnay / 100% Pinot Blanc
Vinification: steel tank & 6 months in big barrel (both)
ABV: 12.5% / 13%
Style: dry with app. 6g r/s & acidity
Seal: glass cork
Source: http://www.dr-balzhaeuser.de/balzhaeuser/unsere-weine.php
Price: 9€

Chardonnay
Spätlese quality Chardonnay from the vineyard ‘Alsheimer Frühmesse’, Rheinhessen, loess and clay terroir, made in big barrels and steel tank. Pale straw yellow, med body. Intense nose, ripe yellow stone fruit, touch of vanilla, maybe pineapple and pear (11.5/15). The palate is a little creamy, dense, fruity, with a solid acid spine, good concentration (11.5/15). Med body, very well balanced, not heavy (7.5/10). Fresh, mineral driven finish (7.5/10). A very good cool climate Chardonnay, nice bouquet and convincing taste, one of the lighter Chardonnays.
Overall: 11.5+11.5+7.5+7.5(+50) = 88/100

Weisser Burgunder
Auslese quality Pinot Blanc from the vineyard ‘Alsheimer Goldberg’, Rheinhessen, loess and clay terroir, made in big barrels and steel tank. Light golden-yellow, shiny, slow and oily.
Glass cork, pop&pour: a very fine & elegant nose, ripe pear & yellow stone fruit, herbal aromas, some spices (pepper), med intense (11.5/15). Subtle yellow stone fruit on the palate, hints of vanilla and pepper, fine & elegant, having great concentration at the same time (11.5/15). Med+ body, great balance between plenty of flavours and some refreshing acidity, not fat (7.5/10). Long, mineral driven finish, spicy and delicate (7.5/10). Very good!
Overall: 11.5+11.5+7.5+7.5(+50) = 88/100

Conclusion: I really liked both of them, in general their wines have a super qpr. Those two belong to the most ‘expensive” wines they have to offer.
Pairing: Salads with cheese, light poultry dishes, ‘Brotzeit’ (snack-time / sandwich-time)

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Visiting Wineries #1 – Weingut Dr. H. Balzhäuser in Alsheim (Rheinhessen)

I recently visited the winery of Dr. H. Balzhäuser in Alsheim (Rheinhessen). Their winemaking history dates back to 1732. The Balzhäusers own about 10ha of wineyards in the region around Alsheim and have about 14+ different grapes in their portfolio. The terroir is dominated by loam (loess) and clay and are mainly oriented to the South. The focus is surely on white wine and on steel tank vinification. I met Julia Balzhäuser in their beautiful historical garden. I had the chance to taste some wines and have a chat with her. Later I visited Johannes Balzhäuser, he showed me their cellars, which are located at the foot of the nearby hills.

The winery has an impressive selection of grapes and styles, from sparkling over sweet wines to partly barrel aged red wines, also including rare, local and underappreciated grapes. All wines are tasty and very affordable, a true bargain. I mainly tried their whites, such as…

2014 Grüner Silvaner Qualitätswein trocken (10.5% abv, 5€)
fresh as an ocean breeze, very delicious and light summer wine with green apple, citrus and floral notes, well balanced acidity, drinking extremely well – 85/100p
2014 Grauer Burgunder Alsheimer Goldberg Spätlese trocken (12.0% abv, 7€)
aromatic Grauburgunder with pear, herbal notes and some spice, decent yellow stone fruit, elegant, a menu wine or have it with cheese – 87/100p
2014 Blanc de Noirs (Spätburgunder) Alsheimer Goldberg Kabinett trocken (11.5% abv, 6€)
fresh and mineral driven BdN, fine raspberry & strawberry notes, light and elegant, a very good menu wine I think – 87/100p
2014 Chardonnay Alsheimer Goldberg Spätlese trocken (12.5% abv, 7€)
fine spices & yellow stone fruit, some pineapple & nuts, pear, rather a slim & elegant Chardonnay, but it has that creamy texture that I like so much – 88/100p
2013 Chardonnay Alsheimer Frühmesse Spätlese trocken (partly in barrel, 12.5% abv, 9€)
everything a bit more intense than in the non-barrel Chardonnay, creamy & silky texture, fresh & still rather lean, good concentration, elegant – 89/100p
2014 Spätburgunder Weissherbst Alsheimer Frühmesse Kabinett trocken (11.5% abv, 6€)
awesome colour! raspberry, strawberry and floral aromas, very aromatic and refreshing, perfect summer sipping – 86/100

All of their wines are really good and the prices are very fair. I took some of their premium line wines and some reds back home – none of them cost me more than 9€. Check out their website and wines – they do ship! They are also a concert/opera/event location, for which they use their big courtyard. Please refer to their event calendar. Cheers!

Below are some impressions from their beautiful winery.

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Tasting Note #22 – not Riesling! Thörle Réserve Chardonnay 2013 & Benzinger Kreuz Weisser Burgunder 2013

Germany and wine? I guess ‘Riesling’ and ‘Mosel’ or ‘Rheingau’ would be the standard answers. But Germany has more than Riesling, Mosel and Rheingau. ‘Rheinhessen’ still seems to be a little underappreciated, whereas ‘Pfalz’ is way more popular I think. Germany has great whites, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Here are two of them.

Name: Saulheimer Réserve Chardonnay Trocken / Kirchheimer Kreuz Weisser Burgunder Barrique Trocken
Producer: Thörle / Benzinger
Region: Germany (Rheinhessen) / Germany (Pfalz)
Type: white wine
Vintage: 2013
Variety: 100% Chardonnay / 100% Pinot Blanc
Vinification: some months in big wood barrel and/or barrique
ABV: 13.5% / 14%
Style: dry / dry
Seal: natural cork / stelvin screwcap
Source: http://www.riesling-und-co.de / http://shop.weingut-benzinger.de
Price: 18€ / 13€

Chardonnay
Ortswein Chardonnay Réserve from Saulheim, Rheinhessen, chalky shell limestone terroir, 6 months on the vineyard’s own yeast in 500l oak barrels, methode bâtonage. I used a big glass. Intense straw yellow, oily. Very intense nose, smoke, salt & ripe yellow stone fruit, touch of vanilla pear. (12.5/15) The palate is creamy, dense, fruity, with a solid acid spine, super concentrated. (12.5/15) Med+ body, very well balanced. (8.5/10) Fresh, salty, mineral driven finish, excellent! (8.5/10) Really one of the best Chardonnays I had!
Overall: 12.5+12.5+8.5+8.5(+50) = 92/100

Weisser Burgunder
One of my personal best Pinot Blanc so far. Benzinger’s top PB, only the best grapes, single vineyard Kirchheimer Kreuz, unfiltered, spent some months in barrique. Light golden-yellow, shiny, slow&oily. Screwcap, pop&pour: a very fine & elegant nose, vanilla pear, yellow stone fruit, herbal aromas, touch of buttertoast, med intense. (12.5/15) Yellow stone fruit, vanilla, creamy & silky, fine & elegant, having great concentration at the same time. (12.5/15) Med+ body, great balance between plenty of flavours and some refreshing acidity. (8.5/10) Long, creamy finish, soft and delicate. (8.5/10) Excellent!
Overall: 12.5+12.5+8.5+8.5(+50) = 92/100

Conclusion: I really enjoyed both wines, without food. They are different (palate) and comparable (nose, vinification) at the same time. Anyway, both are excellent wines. The Thörle Chardonnay was among the top 10 German Chardonnays in ‘Weinwelt 3/2015’, receiving 90/100p.
Pairing: poultry, veal or pork filet dishes with creamy sauces.
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Tasting Note #21 – artisan wine from Piedmont: Cascina Gilli “Sernú” Bonarda 2011 & “Le More” Barbera d’Asti 2012

Those two Italian specimen come from a tasting pack that I have recently ordered at www.vinonostrum.net. I wanted to test their shipping services and wines, so I blind-ordered one of the lower priced tasting packs, this Cascina Gilli tasting pack, using a 15€ off voucher which came in pretty handy. Just to spoil a little: I did not regret it so far!
Among the six wines I have received was one Bonarda and one Barbera d’Asti. I selected them for the first review. I have never before heard of a grape called Bonarda, but anyway. I now learned they plant it also in Argentinia, but it is an indigenous Italian grape variety, often made as a light sparkling or with residual sugar. This Bonarda is neither, it is a dry version.
I was very curious so of course it did not take long until the first bottle was openend. The facts are these:

Name: “Sernú” Bonarda / “Le More” Barbera d’Asti
Producer: Cascina Gilli
Region: Italy (Piedmont)
Type: red wine
Vintage: 2011 / 2012
Variety: 100% Bonarda / 100% Barbera
Vinification: oak & steel (both)
ABV: 13.5% / 13.5%
Style: dry / dry
Seal: composite cork / natural cork
Source: www.vinonostrum.net /www.vinonostrum.net
Price: 10€ / 10€

“Sernu”
Eye:
Bright ruby red, watery rims, med windows.
Nose: Herbal nose, spicy, potting soil, violet, forest berries, raspberry, touch of vanilla, essential, med intense. Softer and more distinct vanilla berry notes on day2.  (11.5/15)
Palate: Powerful palate, herbal, spicy & floral, dark berries, smooth tannins & med intense acidity. Very good concentration, fruity, earthy, dry, mineral driven, quite complex but approachable. (11.5/15)
Body/Balance: Med body, very well balanced, well integrated refreshing acidity. (7.5/10)
Finish: Med+ long finish, dry, fruity, herbal. (7.5/10)
Overall: A very good wine, very special, has that herbal twist. 11.5+11.5+7.5+7.5(+50) = 88/100

“Le More”
Eye:
Intense ruby red, watery rims, med windows.
Nose: A broad and complex spectrum of aromas, like sour cherry, a herbal & floral touch, woodground, vanilla, fresh mineral notes, med intense. (11.5/15)
Palate: Med intense, fresh but juicy & fruity acidity, polished tannins & a distinct mineral touch. No change on day2, keeping up pretty well. (12/15)
Body/Balance: Med body, great concentration & balance. (7.5/10)
Finish: Med long, dry and with cherry fruit. (7.5/10)
Overall: A very good Barbera, really tasty and kind of easy going without being simple. 11.5+11.5+7.5+7.5(+50) = 88/100

Conclusion:
Both wines are equally good but differ in detail. The Bonarda offers the the earthy and herbal notes while the Barbera focuses on cherry fruit and freshness. Both have that distinct mineral touch that is surely an expression of the terroir. Very nice qpr, only 10€ each. What you get for it is a nice piece of artisan winemaking.

Pairing:
The Barbera went very well with pizza (okay, no surprise I guess) and the Bonarda could match more herbal driven Italian dishes.

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Tasting Note #20 – dances with the fox: Friedrich Becker Spätburgunder 2009 & Spätburgunder “B” 2009

Friedrich Becker is a world famous winemaker from Pfalz (Germany) and the front label with the fox is well known. His Pinot Noirs have a big reputation and many fans.
I did not know him but when doing some wine shopping in a nearby store, the basic Pinot Noir was recommended to me. I took it and ordered some more other vintages and quality ranges to be able to compare. So for now I am going to take a closer look at the 2009 vintage, comparing Becker’s entry level “Gutswein” Spätburgunder and the one category higher “B” Spätburgunder.
The difference between those lies within the selection of grapes and the vinification style. The “B” benefits from strict hand selection and 14 months in German barrique, while the basic PN is made in big oak barrels and some time in German barrique, too.
Becker’s vineyards cross the German-French border and those two PNs are a blend of several of those different vineyards.

Name: Spätburgunder trocken / Spätburgunder “B” trocken
Producer: Friedrich Becker
Region: Germany (Pfalz)
Type: red wine
Vintage: 2009
Variety: 100% Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder)
Vinification: 12 months big barrel and barrique  / 14 months German barrique, unfiltered
ABV: 13% / 13%
Style: dry
Seal: natural cork
Source: www.delinero.de /www.kierdorfwein.de
Price: 8€ (for half bottle; 0.75 sold out for 2009), 11€ (2011) /15€

Basic PN
Eye:
Clear brick red with watery rims, oily, med windows. No sediments.
Nose: Upfront barnyard, sulphur and smoked leather on the nose, quite odd. Then subtle cherry and vanilla notes, medium intense. (10.5/15)
Palate: The palate is fresh, vivid, slim, with cherry notes. Medium(-) tannins and medium(+) acidity, hints of oak. Not very complex or intense, rather elegant. (11/15)
Body/Balance: Medium light body, balance on the acidity side, smooth but fresh mouthfeel. (7/10)
Finish: Medium long finish. (7/10)
Overall: 10.5+11+7+7(+50) = 85.5/100 – A (very) good German PN but not my style.

“B” PN
Eye:
Not very exciting look, typical ‘thin’ cool climate PN with watery rims, a brown touch & a light brick red. Med windows, noticable sediments (the wine is unfiltered).
Nose: Oooh, what beauty you are, you sexy fox! Intense, essential & fresh nose. Ripe red berries, licquorice, hints of vanilla, smoke, bacon, leather & thyme(?). Some alcoholic heat. On day2 more ripe berries, a mineral note, on day3 distinct vanilla raspberry. (12/15)
Palate: Palate starts with soft & round tannins, ripe berries & a spicy note, then juicy acidity kicks in. Super concentration! On day2 not much of a change: refreshing, cool, elegant. On day3 still vivid with a spicy note. (12/15)
Body/Balance: Medium-light body but not thin, expressive, some alcoholic heat. Well balanced fruit, acidity and oak (which is very subtle). (8/10)
Finish: Super finish, long, dry and fruity. (8/10)
Overall: 12+12+8+8(+50) = 90/100 – An excellent wine and a super example for an elegant and tasty German PN, I really liked it a lot. I think this one has a couple of more years to go.

Conclusion: It is really worth investing the couple of bucks more for the “B”. In my opinion the much better wine. The entry level PN was good but I did not really like the style. The “B” is more balanced, harmonic and concentrated.

Pairing:
Pork filet, veal, game and mild red curries
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Tasting Note #19 – Italian artisan wine: Benito Ferrara ‘Greco Di Tufo’ 2013 & ‘Taurasi Aglianico’ 2010

Coincidence creates occasion. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy… 😉
…and some time later those two Italian beauties found their way to my doorstep, freshly deliverd from Campania, Italy. A big thanks to www.vinonostrum.net !
The winery, Benito Ferrara, is a small artisan producer from Tufo with only 8 ha vineyards. They mainly produce wines from the region’s original grapes: Greco, Fiano and Aglianico. Their vineyards are at 450-600 meters above sea level and oriented to the south.

For more details and other Benito Ferrara wines, please check the above mentioned website. There you can also order a tasting package from Benito Ferrara. In case you want to place an order, you can use the following voucher code: weinlaie15off (15% discount)

Name: Greco Di Tufo / Taurasi Aglianico ‘Vigni Quattro Confini’
Producer: Benito Ferrara
Region: Italy, Campania
Type: white wine / red wine
Vintage: 2013 / 2010
Variety: 100% Greco Di Tufo Bianco  / 100% Aglianico
Vinification: steel tank / 30 months barrique
Abv: 13% / 13.5%
Style: dry
Seal: natural cork
Source: www.vinonostrum.net
Voucher: weinlaie15off
Price 17€ / 35€

Tasting notes:
Greco
Pale golden-yellow, light core & golden rims, med windows.
Elegant nose, initially closed. Floral, lemon peel, peach, melon. (11/15)
Crisp palate, fresh, subtle bitterness, lemon peel, floral, salty and mineral hints, spicy, med acidity, dry, med+ intense.
Day2: The salty citrus notes are more distinct, very refreshing and mouthwatering.
Day3: More peach on the nose, but the palate still shows that slightly bitter and salty citrus notes. Almost like a gin.
Day5: I did not touch it for 2 days, just left the bottle in the fridge. No change, still very present and fresh, not the smallest sign of tiredness. Great! (12/15)
Good concentration, med+ body, great balance between acidity, saltiness and citrus fruit. (7.5/10)
Long finish, dominated by salty and bitter citrus notes, very pleasant and refreshing. (7.5/10)
I never had this combination so far. This wine is like a fresh summer breeze in a lemon tree yard at the Italian coast.
Overall 11+12+7.5+7.5(+50) = 88/100p. – Very good!
Aglianico
From the single cru vineyard ‘Vigni Quattro Confini’ in Montemiletto at 600 meters above sea level.
Dark purple red colour, impenetrable core, slow and oily, still young-looking.
No decanting, just pop&pour (brave, I know ;-)).
The nose is instantly hit with essential notes of amarena cherry, prune, rosemary & subtle vanilla oak. Medium+ intense, deep, ripe and warm. (13/15)
Day1: Lush palate, super concentrated, med acidity & tannins, herbal spice, ripe cherry, multi layered, complex, powerful. Oh yes, this is the good stuff! Although still young I found the tannins very well integrated and refined, not harsh at all.
Day2: Everything was a tad more intense. Riper fruit aromas on both nose and palate. Almost a bit Amarone-style.
Day3: Consistent and still very strong. The palate has changed a little and provides some cool, elegant menthol & licquorice notes. A multiy layered and complex wine. (12.5/15)
Already well balanced, very fine and complex, strong but elegant, medium body. (8/10)
The finish is long and so versatile, a real joy. (8.5/10)
Overall 13+12.5+8+8.5(+50) = 92/100p. – Excellent!

Conclusion:
What I got here are two great wines. I really enjoyed both of them, it was a very nice experience.
Of course you cannot compare them, but both deliver super value and are very good advertisement for the producer. Something I must keep an eye on.

Pairing:
The Taurasio is made for hearty dishes like game, roast beef and matured cheese.
The Greco is a super partner for all types of (sea)food dishes or just a very nice aperitif.

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Front label pictures and vineyard picture are taken from http://www.vinonostrum.net