Screw This: The Corkage Fee Debate

February 25, 2015


Cork Fee

I had one of those evenings recently. Again.

Our hotel’s “friendly” restaurant refused (quite rudely, actually) my girlfriend and I the option (paid or unpaid) of bringing two bottles from our personal stash to dinner.

The city was Frankfurt.

The time – Sunday evening.

The restaurant – empty.

The bottles – Giorgio Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo 1997 (read the tasting note here) and Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric del Fiasc 1988.


1997 Giorgio Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo

February 19, 2015

Name:Langhe Nebbiolo
Type:Red Wine
Producer:Giorgio Scarzello
Region:Italy / Piemonte / Barolo / Barolo

A very different animal from the 1990 Scarzello Barolo Vigna Merenda. Confidently its own, this Langhe is a shining example of how a well-made Nebbiolo can be great without having to measure up to a Barolo or Barbaresco.


N.V. Savart L’Accomplie Premier Cru

February 11, 2015

Name:L'Accomplie Premier Cru
Varietal:80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay
Region:France / Champagne / Ecueil and Villers-aux-Noeuds

Savart Champagne was born in 1947 when Rene Savart bough his first vineyards. The winery is now run by the Rene’s son and grandson – Daniel and Frederic Savart and it remains a small Récoltant Manipulant (i.e. grower), amounting to about 4ha in two villages of Ecueil and Villiers-aux-Noeuds. These 4ha are comprised of around 50 separate plots, in some of which Savart family owns only a few rows. However, all the plots are Premier Cru level and Pinot Noir takes up all but the 0.5ha, which are allotted to Chardonnay.


1993 Guido Porro Barolo

February 10, 2015

Type:Red Wine
Producer:Guido Porro
Region:Italy / Piemonte / Barolo / Serralunga

Guido Porro, of Serralunga, is one of my favourite Barolo producers. A modest farmer, growing only about 5ha of Barolo-dedicated grapes, most of which come from the two monopole vineyards Santa Caterina and Lazzariasco.   Often overlooked and offering a fantastic price/quality option, his wines are very typical to the terroir, honest and non-flashy. Somewhat rustic, perhaps, but, once again, this is what I would expect from Serralunga – dusty, earthy, savory, deep and wonderfully structured.


2005 Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Boscareto

February 7, 2015

Name:Barolo Boscareto
Type:Red Wine
Producer:Ferdinando Principiano
Region:Italy / Piemonte / Barolo / Serralunga / Boscareto

Ferdinando Principiano is  a medium-sized Monforte-based producer who struck me as a student of the vine and wine in the best sense of the word. Through trial and error he gradually evolved his philosophy from the ubiquitous modernist way when he first started in the 1990’s to a very traditional one. Transition to organic viticulture and minimum intervention in the cellar came as a logical and conscious search for better, live wine which was created in harmony and not in struggle.


2012 Erbaluna Langhe Nebbiolo

February 6, 2015

Name:Langhe Nebbiolo
Type:Red Wine
Producer:Azienda Agricola Erbaluna
Region:Italy / Piemonte/ Barolo / La Morra

As “going organic” is all the rage these days, sometimes it no longer is a very helpful bit of information for determining the true philosophy of any particular winemaker. That’s why it is nice to see Andrea Oberto of a small La Morra cantina Erbaluna giving off that laid-back vibe of a farmer who eschews chemicals and listens to the nature because it feels right to him, not because it is trendy.

We’re not talking about being a purist here – Erbaluna’s operation doesn’t strike me as fanatical. Andrea uses some biodynamic principles here and there, and works with large wood, but maceration times are moderate, and they also meddle in the cellar slightly more (with fining and clarification) than I would prefer.


2009 Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia

February 5, 2015

Name:2009 Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia
Type:Red Wine
Producer:Poderi Aldo Conterno
Region:Italy / Piemonte/ Barolo / Monforte d'Alba

Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia effectively replaced the winery’s  Barolo normale which was released from 2004 to 2008 as a blend from their plots in Monforte (Bussia) and in Barolo. After losing his vineyards in Barolo to a landslide, Giacomo Conerno decided to “retire” the non-cru Barolo and, starting from 2009, to release the Barolo Bussia instead.

I quite liked the “basic” Barolo from Aldo Conterno in the past for what it was. A very solid workhorse, approachable at a relatively young age, a bit buttoned up and formulated, but not sterile or soul-less.


2001 Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano’

February 4, 2015

Name:Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano
Type:Red Wine
Producer:Produttori del Barbaresco
Region:Italy / Piemonte / Barbaresco / Barbaresco

Produttori del Barbaresco has always been a unique wine animal for me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it is a relatively large scale production (100ha & 400k btl/yr = ~10% of total vineyard area and production volume in Barbaresco) and large size often implies a decisive sway towards standardized and formula-driven wines.

Secondly, it is a cooperative, which normally implies that the wines should be a mass-produced plonk.

Well, Produttori del Barbaresco has never matched any of these two implied notions.Instead it produces some of the most reliable quality wines for the price in Barbaresco.