Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino, Tuscany, Italy

So often in recent years  when a Chianti was presented (at a reasonable price ) the outcome was more of a disappointement then a jump for joy. I have been on the look for a Chianti classico for quite some time until this Fontalpino came along.

Please do not get me wrong Italy produces fantastic wines and world class, but as in all renowned wine producing countries there are the good  the bad and the very ugly. Let us have a look at the DOCG Chianti.

Chianti classico
Chianti classico is the oldest and most genuine area in the Chianti region, it holds 7 sub-zones, each one producing a Chianti with a specific name and label. The region stretches between Florence and Sienna including 14 municiplalities; Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Cascino in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Castelnuovo Berardenga and Poggibonsi as the most important. We all recognize a Chianti by its Black Rooster label. Legend has that in the 13th century Florence and Siena decided to use a horse race to end their land dispute over Chianti. The meting point of two knights, who had left respectively from Florence and Siena when the rooster sang at dawn, would mark the new borders of their territories.

The Florentines selected a black rooster and kept it for a few days in a box with no food. On the day of the race, when they took the roosters out of the box, he sang much earlier than dawn. Thus the Florentine knight left before the Sienese rider, meeting him only 20 km from Siena walls. Since then the black rooster has been the symbol of Chianti, first of the Chianti league in the 13th century and then of the Chianti Classico Consortium. A lovely story to a region that has been in the move for over 2000 years, as the fertile soil gave way to many different cultures and wine is one of them.

What makes it Chianti
Chianti Classico is a DOCG wine and shows unique peculiarities and characteristics. It is not enough to be produced within the Chianti region to be called a "Classico". There are specific rules, its blend must contain 80% of Sangiovese grape, this is the dominant grape of the region, and 20% of other grapes which are native grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino and since some time Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot.
The characteristics are limpid ruby red color, floral notes on the nose, on the palate harmonious dry and sapid flavor and a minimum of 12° degrees alcohol by volume. Of course there are the talents of the winemaker and how he works his wine which brings out the beauty in these wines.

Facts Chianti Classico

Region:  Tuscany

History:  Established as a subzone of the Chianti DOC in 1967, which became a DOCG in 1984, Chianti Classico became a separate DOCG in 1996

Vineyard surface: 7200 hectares / 17800 acres

Production: 278,000 hl / 3,090,000 cases (last count 2016)

Principal red grape varieties: Sangiovese

Styles and wine composition
  • Rosso  minimum 80% sangiovese 
  • Riserva minimum 80% sangiovese 
  • Gran Selezione minimum 80% sangiovese 
Significant production rules
  •  Maximum vineyard elevation 700m (2,300 ft) 
  • Grape for Gran Selezione can be harvested only from the winery's own vineyards
  • Minimum alcohol level: 12% for Rosso, 12.5% for Riserva, 13% for Gran Selzione
  • Residual sugar: Maximum 4g/l (0.4%)
  • Aging: For Rosso, minimum approx 1 year, for Riserva minimum 24 months, including 3 months in bottle, Gran Selezione, minimum 30 months, including 3 months in bottle. 
Fattoria Carpineta

The Carpineta Fontalpino vineyard has been owned by the Crest family since 1960 and there are traces of the wine producing traditions dating back to the beginning of the past century (1800).

The winery is located in the heart of Tuscany, very close to the splendid city of Siena and the historical municipality of Castelnuovo Berdadenga in Montaperti where  took place the famous battle between Siena and Florence in September 1260.

The property extends to about 80 hectares and present various cultivar. The area where the vines are planted is about 28 hectares of specialized vines, sub-divided into grape types of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other experimental vines (Petit Verdot, Alicante...)
The production areas are Chianti Classico and Colli Senesi.
The name which has never changed, comes from a historical area, where we fnd Carpineta (a spot where we find trees with silver backed leaves, typical for the area) and Fontalpino (the fount with the pine trees of Montaperti).
This domain lays in the hands of brother and sister Cresti (Gioia and Filippo). Gioia is oenologiste and responsible for all the production, from grape to bottle. Filippo is the commercial and development director .
The terroir is made out of mixed clay, sand, supported by a good rocky layer and are a an altitude ranging from 230 to 380 meters above sea level. The density of the vines is between 2600 plants per ha to 6600 plants per ha. The vines are grown in spurred cordon and simple Guyot style. The average age of the vines is about 25 years.

Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino 2015

Grape: 100% Sangiovese

Price: €21 $23 £18 average ex tbw

Alcohol: 13.5%

Visual: a medium red color appears when pouring, its color intensity is about 3.5 out of 5, its brilliance is luminus, its limpidity is transparent, the legs are medium heavy and running down fairly quick, this wines expressed masculinity, dressed in a dapper polished cut suit, ready to impress, very seductive.

Nose: the attack on the nose is well present, spices and black fruits are noticeble, cherries, blakberries thuya and pine in the wooden notes, a good complexity and a continuous present of the different aroma's.

Palate: The attack is well set, with a medium heavy body, healthy tannins, still young, balance between acidity and aroma's is good, the wine holds well and lingers on for  long time.

Conclusion: This is a Chiant Classico with structure and complexity, a Chianto Classico very well made and priced at very good value. A house that makes very good wine, and thrives to be among the best in the production of Chianto Classico.

Score: I rate this wine at 18.8/20 88/100 (rated as a very good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Herdade do Mouchao Dom Rafael Alentejo Portugal

The Portugal tendency is growing in many places, as if they have discovered new found wineland... although Portugal as a wine nation is very, very old. Wine is sacred for them and is first of all made because for their love for cooking, grapes were growing everywhere as clean healthy drinking water was not really around, wine was the perfect alternative. Of course as in all European wine producing countries at the time the wine was more of a sugar bomb them the dry, refined, elegant, characterful wines we know today.

This red wine from Herdade do Mouchao is another novelty in my discovery of Portuguese wines so first a refresh on the Alentejo region.


A region not so well known, (compared do Douro) but it is well in the up regarding wine making, well more in the spotlight should I say. The region lays to the south of the country, from Lisbon downwards towards Faro and the Algarve. The region covers about one third of the country, and according to the rumors the other two thirds often complain about the popularity of the Alentejo wines. I must be honest and although I am a fan of Portuguese wines and always open to discover, I haven't heard to much about this region in connection with wine. But as Portugal is open to explore I am all ears and lips to learn and taste.

The region has a long history as there are still sign of the Dolmens, Cromlech. Arab and Roman culture, remnants can be seen all over the region. Sign of live from the past, medieval castle to make a statement. To the northeast of the region (towards Spain) are beautiful towns and castles, making up the Rota dos Castelos or the castle route, Portalegre is a very well known town in the region. One of the most beautiful towns in the land finds itself towards the south of Alentejo "Evora" here the landscape is more open and flatter, but what about the vines?

Well first of all this region is mostly known for its red wines, climate does not really permit for whites to flourish beautifully only a handful apparently (haven't come across), with the right skills and the ideal location.

Alentejo has 8 sub regions; Portalegre, Borba, Evora, Redondo, Reguengos, Granja-Amareleja, Vidigueira, Moura. Here it gets really hot during the summer so it is a challenge to keep sugar under control and acidity alive. But thanks to evolution and trials and error from the past, there are some interesting wines emerging, still there is a lot that does not hold the road.
Besides their wines, this region is also known for its cork, it is here that the best corks are made and they have plenty of it as the population here isn't as dense as more up north around porto. Portugal has a population of about 10.4 million people, it almost 3 times bigger then Belgium and Belgium has 11.2 million people.

The grape varieties used here are predominately, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelao, Trincadeira and since late there has been the introduction of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In all Alentejo has been a key region in the renaissance of the Portuguese wine in the last few decades.

Herdade do Mouchao, Alentejo

The story began back in 1824, when Thomas Reynolds returns from Porto  and founds the company " Thomas Reynolds and Son", dedicated to the export of Port, Olive oil, wool and cork, before moving definitely to the Alentejo region to dedicate himself exclusively to the cork business.  

Mid nineteen century the Reynolds lease Herdade do Mouchao, the 900 hectares estate was initially to supply cork, a business stared by his grandfather. The family planted then several plots of vines and in 1901 a traditional winery was build. It is thought that John Reynolds was the first to have imported the Alicante Bouchet vine from France, of which Mouchao is now known for its red fleshy variety. The vineyards cover 38 hectares and are planted in different plots. 5 wines are made by this house, we will discover the Dom Rafael 2015.

Dom Rafael 2015 Herdade do Mouchao

The Dom Rafael Tinto is sourced from old Aragonez, Trincadeira, Castelao, and Alicante Bouchet vines from the estate. The grapes are handpicked and are foot trodden then fermented in open lagares, same winemaking method used for more than a century. The wines are aged in oak barrels (not new) for about 12 months. 

Grape: 40% aragonez, 29% alicante bouchet, 31% trincadeira

Price: €9 $12 £10 average ex tax 

Alcohol: 14% 

Visual: A medium dark ruby color appears when pouring, a color intensity of 3.75 out of 5, the legs are medium thick, its transparency is crystalline its brilliance bursting, the wine appears young and masculine, fresh and energetic,   

Nose: earthy dark fruits, currants, blackberries, black cherries, hints of oak, wet wood, little alcohol disturbance, hints of cardamon. 

Palate: The attack is fresh and lively, dry with a medium body, mid palate sits the balance between aromas and acidities fair, it lingers on respectfully, with black fruits tints. 

Conclusion: A very interesting discovery especially in its price category, very well set, a wine that is correctly made and a house bringing grapes to the table other  then the usual suspect gives a fresh breeze and a pleasant change. Surely in the better category, a good example of well made Portuguese wines. 

Score: I rate this wine 17.5/20 75/100 (rated as a good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Chateau Larruau 2012 Margaux France

Ah Margaux, when only the name is mentioned pretty much every one thinks of the iconic legend and one of Bordeaux's most adored. Yes, sadly for many of us it has become more of a dream than actually a reality. But of course Margaux does not just comprise of one single wine, it is after all also an appellation in the Medoc on the right bank of the Bordeaux wine hierarchy.  Many great wines comes from this appellation, big names as Palmer, Giscours, D'Issan, Malescot St Exupery, Marquis de Terme, Lascombes, Rauzan - Gassies, Rauzan - Segla - Dufort Vivens - Kirwan.
The one I want to talk about today Chateau Larruau is a Crus Bourgeois. Yes, very much unknown I must admit as I haven't heard of this wine since very recent actually. But first a little fast course in Margaux

It is often said that Margaux is the most famous appellation of the Medoc some even say of the whole of Bordeaux. It is also the only appellation that has a Premier Grand Cru with the same name and female as well. Yes, very few have rarely be disappointed when drinking a Margaux. The appellation holds 21 cru classe properties from the 1855 classification (one of which has only be revised once in 1973 when Mouton Rothschild went from a second Grand cru classe to a First Grand cru Classe, I honestly think that it is high time this classification is re-classified but that might be a wish to far)

Located in the Gironde estuary, and sheltered from the ocean winds by the huge pine forest the vines benefit from an ideal climate, mild winters, plenty of sunshine and summers that are dry, a terroir that benefits of beautiful gravel, vestiges of alluvial terraces eroded over thousands of years with under layers of limestone, clay and silt. A meager soil that is paradoxically a wealth for wine growers. Interesting to this is that the gravel soil is not that deep which leaves the vines susceptible to drought and so hot summers are not ideal for the Margaux appellation, years such as 1982 and 1990 were not the best for them although these are exceptional vintages overall for Bordeaux.

Margaux has about 1,400 hectares of vines and produces about 63,000 hl of red wine, only exceptionally a tiny percentage of wine is produced in white, the pavillon blanc the Margaux
Margaux comprises of five communes; Arsac, Labarde, Cantenac, Margaux and Soussans

The dominant grape varieties in Margaux are; Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere

Medoc classification 1855 Margaux.


  • Chateau Margaux

  • Chateau Rauzan-Segla
  • Chateau Rauzan-Gassies
  • Chateau Dufort-Vivens
  • Chateau Lascombes
  • Chateau Brane-Cantenac


  • Chateau Kirwan
  • Chateau d'Issan
  • Chateau Giscours
  • Chateau Malescot St Exupery
  • Chateau Boyd-Cantenac
  • Chateau Cantenac Brown
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Desmirail
  • Chateau Ferriere
  • Chateau Marquis d'Alesme Becker 

  • Chateau Pouget
  • Chateau Prieure-Lichine
  • Chateau Marquis de Terme


  • Chateau Dauzac
  • Chateau du Tertre

Chateau Larruau

Chateau Larruau is a Crus Bougeois Medoc, the domain is situated in the commune of Margaux, and holds 12 hectares of vine today. In 1971 Bernard Chateau bought parcels of vines but it was only in 1980 that Chateau Larruau was properly introduced to the market. 
The parcels are planted with Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot in approximately from the famous Chateau Margaux itself. The Chateau produces a single wine, the Chateau is known in inner circles as a wine of great quality and right in its price bracket. The Chateau produces about 70,000 bottles, with a blend in general of 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 45% Merlot.

Chateau Larruau 2012 Crus Bourgeois.

Grape: 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon 45% Merlot

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price:  €29 $34 £26 average ex tax 

Visual: A deep ruby red color present itself when poured in the glass, a color intensity of 4 out of 5, its brilliance is luminous, and its limpidity is transparent, the legs are fairly thick, the wine has a definite masculine appearance, with elegance and warm intentions, seductive and neat.

Nose: when smelling you are immediately overwhelmed with beautiful fruits and layers of spice and oak, a harmonious balance, red and black fruits as blackberries, currants, dried raisins, many flurries of cedar wood, little cacao and coffee, aromas that are clear and neat.

Palate: the attack feels fresh with a medium body, soft, round, structured, mid palate well set together acidity and aromas complete each other, a smooth lingering and last fairly long, the dark fruits pop all along the journey.

Conclusion: although that this wine is just a crus bourgeois it is one of the best crus bourgeois I have tasted and deserves more credit, here is a wine that definitely affordable and will be immensely enjoyed with juice red meats even a glass on its own will certainly not disappoint you. For those who love their Margaux's but can not always slam huge amounts on the counter, this wine is a very good alternative, good value for money.

Score:  I rate this wine at 19/20 90/100 (rated as an excellent wine) 

rating system
19.6-20 exceptional
19-19.5 excellent
18-18.9 very good wine
17-17.9 good wine
16-16.9 fair wine
15-15.9 drinkable wine

14-14.9 acceptable wine

Until next tile please do drink responsibly.