2004 Serafino Rivella Barbaresco

April 27, 2015

Type:Red Wine
Producer:Serafino Rivella
Region:Italy / Piemonte / Langhe / Barbaresco / Montestefano

Teobaldo Rivella of the Cantina Rivella Serafino (Serafino was Teobaldo’s father) produces a meagre 12,000 bottles from his  ~50 y.o. vines in the 2ha of vineyards (mostly in Montestefano cru) split between only two bottlings: Dolcetto and Barbaresco.

Baldo is well set in his traditional and conscientious approach to both viticulture and winemaking, which are evident in the clean, vibrant and honest style of his wines.


2009 Millesime Grand Cru Champagne Marie-Noelle Ledru

April 25, 2015

Name:Champagne Grand Cru Millesime
Varietal:Chardonnay (85%), Pinot Noir (15%)
Producer:Champagne Marie-Noelle Ledru
Region:France / Champagne/ Ambonnay / Marne

It was a very pleasant, alas confusing encounter. I enjoyed the subtle whiff of salty sea breeze amidst the creamy apple & lemon tartness and mild yeastiness.


The Context of Wine: Winemaker

April 18, 2015

Is wine an independent entity?

Should it be considered separately from the person who transformed/helped it transform from grapes to wine?

This question once creeped into my head and never left.

I suspect that if your interest in wine goes beyond deciding which red pairs best with a steak – you’ve already had or will inevitably have the same questions tickle your curiosity. Well, here are a few my thoughts.


The Original Orange Wines aka The Kvevri Tales

April 17, 2015

The renaissance of Georgian kvevri wine is hardly a secret. Over the past 15 years it has picked up steam, confidence and recognition.



Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to spend an afternoon with a few very small-scale winemakers who are part of this revival and pick their brain about things ranging from cultivation and growing practices to cellar techniques and future experiments. Special thanks to the good folks at GoodWine for setting this up.


Of Barriques and Men

April 16, 2015


Barriques could be a touchy subject in the context of many wines, especially in Piemonte and Toscana.

Images of some of the most outspoken opposers like Beppe Rinaldi (and his “The only good use for barriques” chair) and Bartolo Mascarello (and his beautiful and self explanatory labels) pop up almost instinctively when the topic comes up.


Tutorial: How to export/save your Vivino wine database

April 15, 2015



Good news. Vivino made available an option to back up all your records (not the pictures) via their website.

All you need to do is log into your account on www.vivino.com, click on your name in the top right corner and select “Export” -> “Wines”.


We’ll leave our original instructions from 2014 (when back-up function was not available) in the text below just in case an alternative method may be needed at some point.

Vivino is a convenient tool for sharing your wine reviews.  But if you are anything like me, you want to be able to have a backup of your database in case Vivino, god forbid, ceases to exist or some glitch wipes it out.  On numerous occasions I have written to the Vivino’s customer service and pleaded with them to make available the feature, which would allow you to export your wines.  I was never offered a coherent response.  As a result, I decided to take the matters into my own hands.  The internet was no help, yielding an old Perl script, which no longer works.  However, finally the solution was found and is outlined below!


Step-by-step guide on how to export/save your Vivino wine database:


Note:  This guide focuses on an export to be performed from an iPhone.  I’m sure it would be very similar with the phones that run Android.


A fellow Vivino user Takkino Felduchi suggested another, easier step as an alternative to STEPS 2 and 3, which allows one to get the database straight from the app itself.  The directions are as follows:

a) Click on your Profile button at the upper left corner:

Vivino 1 - (Profile)



b) Click on Settings buttom at the upper right corner:

Vivino 2 - (Settings)

c) After that scroll down to the bottom and click on About:
Vivino 3 - (About)

d) At the bottom of the screen click on “Submit a debug report to Support

Vivino 4 - (Submit)

e) You will have the following email draft pop up.  Just change the “To” email to your own and inside the “log.zip” file you will find datav3.sqlite file.  After receiving an email and saving zip file, proceed to STEP 4.

Vivino 5 - (Email)


First, you will need to download two pieces of free software, which are available for both Mac and Windows.


Connect your iPhone to the computer.


Open iFunBox and in the left-hand tree expand User Applications and find Vivino.  Browse to Vivino’s Documents folder and find a database file called datav3.sqlite.  Right click on it and export it to the Desktop.

Vivino Database File (Screen)


Open database file you just downloaded in Database Browser for SQLite and click on Browse Data tab.  In the Table drop-down find Wine and voilà – this is a table, which contains all of your wine reviews and notes.

Vivino Database SQL (Screen)


To export individual tables click File > Export >Table as CSV file…

Vivino Exporting (CSV)

Thematic Tasting: Brunello Reunion

April 2, 2015

Thematic Tasting Brunello 1


A short while ago our friend flew into Kyiv from San Francisco for a short stay. He doesn’t visit very often so this was a special occasion and, thus, called for special tastings. We settled on Brunello and Barolo as the themes.


1995 Soldera

April 2, 2015

Type:Red Wine
Varietal:Sangiovese Grosso
Producer:Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Intistienti
Region:Italy / Toscana / Montalcino / Tavernelle

Again some questions to the provenance (at least a part of it) of this Soldera. Blindly it showed older than the 1995. And yet again the pedigree manages to compensate for compromised storage conditions.

Oldish and delightful. Quite evolved tertiary nose and flavor are balanced and in harmony. Underbrush and dried cherry dominate the nose and aftertaste. The other typical tertiary elements, like leather, cedar and herbs ebb and flow on the palate and in the nose, masking the underlying freshness of sour cherry. A pleasant warmth of freshly pressed linen frames everything nicely.

Forgetting the disconnect between the implied and real age of this wine, it offers a great aged, long and solid middle – probably indicative that the storage faults were not severe or prolonged. The aroma and flavor evolved too quickly, but the structure remained intact in terms of both, tannins and acidity. 

The bottom line: I liked this bottle a lot as an aged Brunello, but it underwhelmed as a 1995 Soldera Intistienti. 

2007 Livio Sassetti

April 2, 2015

Name:Livio Sassetti
Type:Red Wine
Varietal:Sangiovese Grosso
Producer:Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Region:Italy / Toscana / Montalcino / Montosoli hill

Sassetti family has been farming their vineyards in Colle for years, but were never fully happy with the result. Eventually, in the 1970s they sold that land and bought the Pertimali property on the prized Montosoli hill. From their Brunello zone estate they produce the typical Montalcino trio – Rosso, Brunello and Brunello Riserva, but also some. Rosso (~15k btls) sees no wood. Brunello normale and Riserva are aged for 36 months in large Savonian botti, a full year longer than required. The key differences between the normale and Riserva are: 1) Riserva is produced only in exceptional vintages and 2) Riserva receives extra bottle ageing, as per the legislation.

First thing you get on the nose is a great mix of proper, classy red fruit, biodynamic notes and a whiff of that good-old hearty country barnyard that Sangiovese can muster like no other. You either love it or hate it. I lllove it!

Funky as it is, the traditional style comes across strong. It’s not what you might call an ultra-classic Brunello, but definitely traditional. Focused, juicy, salty, trim and tight, nice rolling texture and lightness of character typical for Montosoli. It may not deliver the level of sophistication that a Poggio di Sotto, Le Chiuse or Paradiso di Manfredi, but it has a lovely personality and plenty of complexity to take you away from the “everyday” wines’ pleasant simplicity without breaking the “special occasion” wines budget.

In my book, Sassetti Livio has been offering a very good price/quality Brunello normale and Riserva option for a few years now and this instance just confirmed that it can punch above its weight (or at least above its price).

2006 Silvio Nardi

April 2, 2015

Name:Silvio Nardi
Type:Red Wine
Varietal:Sangiovese Grosso
Producer:Brunello di Montalcino
Region:Italy / Toscana/ Montalcino / Bosco

Unmistakably modern in style, but more conscious of the limits than some.

Starts off with cream and tobacco nose, but instead of going heavy into vulgarities of the oak use, it takes the savoury wood route.

I guess that’s where their restraint in usage of new and small barrels comes into play. The elevage is one year in a mix of new and old barriques is followed by a year in botti.

However, it is still quite big and brawny, oaked and weakish in the middle. Not my style.