In classic Mount Nebbiolo style I picked some cellar beauties this year, but this season to celebrate a challenging year battling Covid and to give thanks to all making it through alive. All the wines were followed over the course of a few days and showed their magnificence on the latter part of the journey, i.e. day two and even day three! The highlight was clearly the Tale of Two Masterpieces: Gaja meets Giacosa. Yet, all were world class examples of the heights great winemaking can reach. Everything was paired with fabulous food, from charcuterie and cheese plates to grilled Montana Wagyu filets. Yummy as it should be during the holidays!
2004 Jean Milan, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Vielles Vignes, Terres de Noël (RT94) I bought a case of this beauty on release many years ago and this was far and above to most developed, enjoyable bottle to date. An elegant, pure expression of Chardonnay that has fleshed out beautifully since release and is now in early maturity. Notes of white peach, a touch of smoke, almond, lemon curd and pear. The mouthfeel is linear and focused, but still holding back a bit for future development. Impressive purity of fruit! Drink now-2034+
2006 Billecarte-Salmon, Brut, Cuvée Nicolas Francois (RT96+) Amazingly pure, precise, and focused, the 2006 Cuvée Nicolas Francois is a complete prize showing the structure this bottling can achieve. Crisp green apple, white stone fruit, vivid fresh straw, white flowers, and hints of crushed limestone fill the glass. The palate is almost weightless and incredibly captivating with brilliant acidity. This will develop for many years to come and is one for the cellar. Drink 2024-2040+
2006 Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Cicala (RT95+) Dark fresh ruby garnet with zero bricking. This was not surprisingly wound-up on day one, but really blossomed on day two showing its inner beauty in spades. Soaring mentholated notes of ripe and rich dark red cherry, hints of balsam and cedar and coated with steely minerality, this remains fresh and undeveloped. Decidedly on the young side at age 14. The mouthfeel is sumptuous, round, and delicious with layers of bright fruit, neatly integrated acidity, and beautifully ripe, sweet tannins. While this can be enjoyed now with ample air, it will deliver far more with an additional 5-6 years of cellaring. Drink 2026-2046+
1997 Gaja, Langhe, Sperss (RT100) A study in magnificence, Angelo Gaja’s 1997 Sperss has developed in a profound way revealing all the details that place this wine in the hierarchy of world class wines. On day one this showed a sous bois dominated bouquet, but on day two the forest floor had receded allowing the perfectly ripe fruit to shine through. Deeply nuanced notes of black cherry, dried raspberry compote, gently spiced plums, hints of balsam, Christmas spice and white Alba truffles play a symphonic rhapsody. The palate is extraordinarily balanced showing perfection in ripe fruit, magical soft acidity, and supple, sumptuous sweet ripe tannins. Utterly magnificent, hats off to everyone at Gaja who contributed to crafting this benchmark wine. Drink now-2030+
1999 Giacosa, Barolo, Le Rocche del Falletto (RT98) A perfect contrast to the 1997 Gaja Sperss, juxtaposed in style with its clear contrast of precise elegance, fresh fruit, and the utmost in winemaking focus. Those who are familiar with this wine will recall the rumors around the lack of producing a Red Label Riserva in this superb vintage not being a lack of quality fruit, but rather the need for Bruno Giacosa to generate cash quickly, as he was acquiring cash-draining vineyards at the time. Thus, this wine was produced as a White Label Classico rather than his longer aged Red Label Riserva. Yet the premier quality remains spellbinding with its bright notes of focused red raspberry, red cherry, soaring menthol and notes of dried lavender, cedar and penetrating minerality. The palate is gorgeous, packed with power-driven ripe fruit, bright fresh acidity, and sweet, structured tannins. I’ve followed this wine since it was released, and this is by far the best bottle yet. Yet I can’t help but wonder if there’s still a bit more to give with continued cellaring? Only time will tell. Drink now-2039+