De-Escalating (May 2020)

Giuseppe Cortese, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2017
Cortese was one of my favorite wineries, even before I visited in October. Mostly on the basis of the Rabajà, a wine that turned me from a casual Nebbiolo drinker into a lover.  And this 'lowly' Langhe Nebbiolo is a Rabajà by origin even if not by the fine letter of the law. Every single grape of Nebbiolo that enters the winery comes from the Cortese family's plot of Rabajà directly below the balcony of their home. In this case, from the younger vines in the vineyard. It's aged for a year in Slovenian foudres, just enough time to draw out texture without putting on weight. Not that the Rabajà proper, or even the Riserva, are especially weighty - the secret of the Cortese wines are their fresh perfume and fruit. The bouquet here is a lovely mixture of truffles and cherries, while the fruit has tamed the tannins with a gentle hand without emasculating them. (May 17, 2020)

Cascina delle Rose, Barbera d'Alba, Donna Elena, 2016
Not one of my favorite grapes, but this Barbera is outstanding. The dust, worn leather and hints of herbs take me to places like the southern Rhone and southern France. The 15% ABV surprisingly doesn't wear down the palate. You sense the weight and the texture and you sip it slowly, but without a strain. But the alcohol is beyond the point. I just love it when a good wine breaks away from its initial impression and the expectations it created. The break point here is when the herbs and dust evolve to a truffly, earthy aroma that I find to be as true an expression of the great Barbaresco vineyards (where Cascina delle Rose hails from) as the Rabaja crus I tasted in Piedmont in October. It's plumper than a Nebbiolo based wine, otherwise it's a good ringer. (May 12, 2020)

Domaine Robert Chevillon, Nuits-St.-Georges, Vieilles Vignes, 2010
I used to have a good handful of these. The third of four was totally ready to go in November so I saw no reason to wait with the last one. The nose is wonderfully complex: red cherries, iron and forst floor. The palate is has lost vigor, a little oxidized, but still packs plenty of flavors in its rusty tannic finish. (May 16, 2020)

Domaine de Fa, Fleurie, Roche Guillon, 2016
I suppose I'll label it as Domaine de Fa, but it's really a side project of the Graillot family. I've been drinking Alain Graillot's Crozes-Hermitage since my Wine Year Zero. His sons, Maxime and Antoine have taken over and both the original estate and elsewhere have retained a style that relies on peppery, fresh, succulent fruit. Which is an apt style for Beaujolais Cru, Fleurie especially. (May 19, 2020)

Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve, Cahors, Les Laquets, 2014
The domaine is the lovechild of winemakers Matthieu Cosse and Catherine Maisonneuve, it's bio-dynamic and is purportedly "changing how we think about Cahors wines". Since, amazingly enough, this is my first Cahors, I have no preconceptions of Cahors so all I have to say is I love it for its classic, farmhouse charms. And it teaches me that when Malbec took a detour through Bordeaux on its way to Argentine, it took its homeland DNA with it. This is a cross between the clarets of Bordeaux and the warm rusticity of the South: iron, graphite, black fruit, very dark chocolate (where the peppery kick of the cocoa overshadows any sweetness), enough fresh acidity to swathe through the rusty tannins.  (May 21, 2020)

Produttori dei Barbaresco, Barbaresco, 2014
This is not only one of the most consistent normale Barbarescos, it's one of the best. Barbaresco coped well in 2014 and I've drunk plenty of lovely wines. This is very truffle-y and lithe, very soft at the center. The sour, tannic finish provides a very good introduction to the village and grape, although I admit it doesn't scratch the surface of what the village crus can provide, including those crafted by the Produttori co-op. (Mar. 23, 2020)

Olivier Guyot, Marsannay, Les Favières, 2014
One day, this too shall pass - my Guyot stocks are dwindling. That's a shame. It's a lovely house, with unassuming, yet utterly charming, wines. This, for example, a simple village lieu-dit from their hometown, Marsannay, thrives on juicy acidity, fresh strawberries and aromas that evoke wet ground and pine needles. It's not very complex, yet the deceptively simple facade conceals a wine of depth, with ample length. (Mar 24, 2020)

Suertes del Marqués, Valle de la Orotava, Cruz Santa, 2018
A funky red wine, it's not entirely pleasant, but very captivating, sort of like a great actor portraying an unpleasant man. It's lithe-bodied with very soft tannin, the fruit profile not quite like anything I've ever run into before, as though someone managed to saute black grapes over an outdoor grill. It's made of Vijariego Negro, a grape that's not even a household name in its own household in Orotava. (Mar. 25, 2020)

Château La Grave a Pomerol, Trigant de Boisset, 2009
A nice Right Banker, a nose of black plums, graphite and hints of vanilla (on paper, not a combination I'd expect to like, but it works). The palate is on the ripe side, and it's a bit foursquare, but it improves the next day. (May 26, 2020)

Joh. Jos. Prüm, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Auslese, 2007
Prüm is a venerable name in the Mosel, a name I was aware of even before I ever bought a Mosel wine. And this fine beauty proves the name's mettle. Surprisingly light for an Auslese, it takes more than an hour to unfold its complexity and richness. From the start, though, it is precise, focused and persistent, a lovely, typical portrait of apples, ice and slate, a sweet confection perfectly balanced by ethereal acidity. (May 29, 2020)