On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Biondi-Santi Tasting ... Feb 2020

27 Apr 2020


Talk about a place in history – Biondi Santi is the original Brunello producer; they have records dating back to 1888 – which proves they were the first makers of what is now called Brunello. Biondi Drive

Today they are a 32 hectares property, having added a few extra hectares with the recent acquisition of a neighbouring property. They currently produce about 90,000 bottles annually and take the “Riserva” in their line-up exceptionally seriously: where many will put out a reserve wine every year, Bondi Santi has released a Riserva only 39 times in their long history (2012 being their latest offering).

Biondi InviteesThey also take their mainstay grape (Sangiovese) very seriously, breaking their vineyard down into 12 sub plots and tasting and watching how the wines from these different aspects of terroir react to their winemaking practices. The oldest planting on the property goes back to 1936 and they use clone BBS11 – you can probably figure out what the “BS” stands for (seems like a double-entendre, but it is not meant to be) … Brunello Biondi Santi 11 – and is a clone of Sangiovese Grosso.  The whole property is 150 hectares with olive trees dotting the landscape.

It is interesting to note that while the first official wine called “Brunello” was in 1888, the first mention of the word / wine was some 19 years earlier in 1869.


The Wines …

Biondi Table in Barrel Cellar2016 Rosso di Montalcino
From the powerhouse 2016 vintage this wine is a deliciously juicy and fruit forward version of Montalcino Rosso: sour cherry, tobacco and slightly herbaceous on the nose, while the palate has driving acidity, delicious red fruit and a good tannin backbone with subtle cigar box and tobacco on the finish – elegant and fruity.  (****+)

2011 Brunello di Montalcino
Riserva’s are sacred at Biondi and 2011 was considered a Riserva year … but this is not that – therefore only the usual grapes go into it. Plenty of intrigue in the bottle with dried cherry, herbal-tobacco notes on the nose with subtle oxidative notes; but when the palate kicks in there is earthy and sour cherry while the acidity and tannins keep everything in balance. The finish lingers with smoke, sour cherry and red currants.  (****)

2009 Brunello di Montalcino
This was a year when no Riserva wines were made so even the oldest of their vines appear in this wine. This one has a real earthiness about it with a pronounced oxidative note, but also sour and black cherry, anise and tobacco on the nose. Palate is a little chalky with earthy and cherry flavour – the tannins come across quite aggressive while the finish does not push fruit forward but instead it hangs out in the background.  (*** ½)

2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Biondi Riserva 2012
This is Franco Biondi Santi’s 24th and final Riserva under his winemaking reign, therefore it is dedicated in his honour … still just a baby but with a nose of tobacco and dark fruit – the aromatics are deep and will need time to release … palate is layered with tobacco, balsamic, earthy, black currant and spice, the acid / tannin backbone proves powerful with notes of sour red fruits on the finish … it’s definitely a ballsy wine with age-ability – be nice to see it at both the 10 and 20 year mark.  (****+)

1998 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva “La Storica”
The grapes come from the oldest vines on the property (at that time 25 years of age) … The “Storica” label means it has been in the Biondi-Santi historical cellar and this wine is receiving a re-release sometime in 2020. The aromas are violets, sour cherry, cranberry and currants while the flavours are dried and dense with dark fruit, tobacco, cigar-box, balsamic and a long mouth-drying finish.  (****)


Vignobles De Larose Tasting

21 Apr 2020

(March 2020) ... Turns out Vignobles de Larose is the parent company of four estates: Chateau Larose Trintaudue, Chateau Larose Perganson, Chateau Arnauld and Chateau Tour de Pez … all located on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, Haut Medoc, and part of the Cru Bourgeois.

As a company they produce 1.3 million bottles per year, export 30% and have 255 hectares under vine. All the estates fall under the Cru Bourgeois classification (which unlike Grand Cru Classe is renewed every 5 years – the latest was done in early 2020). 249 estates were classified under the following 3 levels: Cru Bourgeois – Cru Superieur – Cru Exceptionnel

Chateau Larose Trintaudon (est. 1819) … Trintaudon

current level: Cru Bourgeois Superieur
output: 1 million bottles per year

Two wines tasted:

2009 – Tobacco, smoky, mineral and cigar box

2011 – Shows nice development of dark fruit along with smoky-black cherry, cassis with great acidity and tannins.  (***+)

PergansonChateau Larose Perganson (est. 1719) …

current level: Cru Bourgeois Superieur
output: 120,000 bottles per year
average vine age: 32-33 years

Two wines tasted:

2008 – Leathery, smoky with cooked fruit notes

2010 – Opened slowly but worth the wait; dark and red fruit emerge with mocha, blackberry, floral, leather backed by good acidity and the right amount of supporting tannins.  (****+)

Chateau Arnauld (est. 14th century) Chateau Arnauld

Estate purchased by Larose in 2007 and is their most southerly property

current ranking: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel
output: 55,000 bottles per year
average vine age: 45 years

Two wines tasted:

2012 – Muted aromas with notes of cigar box, herbal and tobacco

2014 – First time Petit Verdot (10%) has appeared in this primarily Cabernet Sauvignon blend (63%) – all new French oak but this Bordeaux is aged in Burgundy barrels … blackberry, cassis, sour cherry, coffee bean and smoke; supple with good tannin structure and rich mouthfeel.  (****+)

Chateau Tour de Pez

Property most recently acquired by Larose

current ranking: Cru Bourgeois
output: 95,000 bottles per year

no wines tried from this estate


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