Monday, February 29, 2016

Prime Time for Jura Wine

Jura wines boast their region in raised glass on the bottle.
I’m a huge fan of wines from France’s Jura region. They’ve been “hip” for quite a few years now – making appearances on natural wine lists at all sorts of wine bars and restaurants. My wine nerd friends and I love them, but the obscure varieties, small levels of production and old school labels and bottles might strike novices as strange. 

Sure some of these wines can be funky and earthy with intense acidity, and sometimes the whites show nutty and oxidized elements (depending on the producer and style). But I’m convinced Jura wines (sparkling, white and red) offer the wine newcomer an intellectually-fascinating and palate-expanding experience, but also a damn pleasurable one. When it comes to unique wines with quirky personalities and complex flavors, Jura wines are quintessential. 

The prices are right, that’s for sure. There are so many Jura wines that you can find in the $20-$25 range. As with any wine region, sure, you can spend more. But entry-level Jura wines are so much fun, and even the age-worthy wines frequently show well upon release. 

I recently tasted through a bunch of Jura wines at my favorite wine shop, Weygandt Wines in DC's Cleveland Park neighborhood. They've been importing a range of Jura wines for a while, and they're always on the lookout for new and exciting producers.

If you're looking for a unique and interesting wine, you can't do much better with $20-$30.

My notes:

N.V. Domaine Désiré Petit Crémant du Jura - France, Jura, Crémant du Jura
Lots of spice and nutty elements on the nose. Creamy, spiced apple on the palate but so zesty. Flavors of toasted bread crumbs over oyster shells. Lots of fun, unique flavors. 100% Chardonnay. (88 points)

N.V. Domaine Désiré Petit Crémant du Jura - France, Jura, Crémant du Jura
Zesty aromas of roses, baby’s breath and strawberries. Crisp and spicy on the palate, full of strawberries and white peach, accented by notes of white tea and spice. Very good for under $20. 100% Pinot Noir. (87 points)

2011 Les Granges Paquenesses Côtes du Jura La Mamette - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura
This is getting better and better with age. Lots of minerals and stones with some salted almond accents to the melon and orange fruit. I’m impressed by the depth and complexity this is gaining but it’s still so fresh and vibrant. (89 points)

2014 Domaine Didier Grappe Chardonnay Côtes du Jura Novelin - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura
So bright and clean, with flowers, sea spray and clean laundry on the nose. Creamy palate but so tangy and salty with a brightness that tingles onto the finish. (87 points)

2014 Les Granges Paquenesses Côtes du Jura La Pierre - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura
Non-oxidized style, this is a fresh, bright and salty wine with a lovely creaminess as well. Zesty but nervy, tons of mineral complexity, along with notes of honeycomb and white tea. Lovely stuff. (90 points)

2013 Caveau de Bacchus Melon à Queue Rouge Aviet - France, Jura, Arbois
Smells peachy and clean with orange rind and lime juice. Rich but crunchy and salty on the palate. Lime and orange peels mixed with crunchy sea salt and hints of white pepper. Bright, long finish. Really interesting stuff – I’d love to cellar some for a few years and see what comes out. (90 points)

2014 Domaine Désiré Petit Arbois - France, Jura, Arbois
I love the fresh aromatics of Trousseau, and this one is so perfumed: black tea, roses, spiced red berry compote. Crisp and juicy on the palate with red cherries and red apple peel. Clean and soft tannins with fresh acid. Salty and spicy on the finish. So good for the money. (89 points)

2011 Domaine de la Pinte Pinot Noir Arbois - France, Jura, Arbois
Fresh, vibrant and floral aromatics, fresh raspberries and cherries. Silky but structured with fine, dusty tannins and, of course, bright, refreshing acid. Tart cherries and wild strawberries mix with black tea, bay leaf and pepper. Vibrant and open now but I’m interested to see what develops in the next two to four years. (90 points)

2014 Domaine Didier Grappe Côtes du Jura Insouciantes - France, Jura, Côtes du Jura
Very interesting aromatics here: wild cherries, red apple, grapefruit, and a host of spice and nut elements. Great acid, fine tannins, the crunchy red berries are laced with spices and herbs. That acidity is rocking and this wine is pure and vibrant. Trousseau, Ploussard and Pinot blend. (90 points)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Barbeito Madeira: Tradition Done Differently

This article was first published on the daily wine blog Terroirist. 

During a trip to Madeira earlier this month, I visited six of the eight producers on this volcanic Portuguese island. During each visit, I tried to conceptualize each producer’s individual aesthetic within the context of the larger Madeira puzzle.

D’Oliveiras was the classic, wise elder of the group. H.H. Borges was the precise, focused practitioner.
Barbeito was the skillful contender, full of potential and excitement.

Barbeito has been around since 1946, but in a land so rich with winemaking history, that actually makes it the youngest producer on the island of Madeira. (A new producer is in the works, but hasn't yet brought any wines to market.) Barbeito is also the most innovative producer on the island, and the firm is offering up a host of options that should entice the next generation of wine-drinkers. Their wines (which total about a quarter-million liters per year) have a common racy appeal and attractive freshness. These are fortified wines that scream "I'm food friendly!" The colors are lighter, ranging from lemon rind to medium orange, and the labels are playful and bright.  

Leandro shows me the estufa, large steel vats, which are
heated with pipes to speed up the traditional process of
exposing the wines to heat and oxygen in barrel rooms.
The process is only used for the most basic, 3-year wines.
The winery is located way up in the precarious hills above Funchal, a stark contrast from downtown street headquarters of Blandy’s, D’Oliveiras and Borges. This facility, opened in 2008, is steely and modern, boasting top-notch equipment like a robotic lugar (a machine that replicates the old tradition of stomping grapes by foot).

“Here we try to combine tradition with innovation,” Leandro Gouveia, Barbeito's wine shop manager, told me during my visit. 

Barbeito was the first Madeira house to use the grape variety Tinta Negra on the label. Tinta Negra, a red grape variety, is the most common grape on the island, but until recently the name was not permitted to be listed on the label. This stems from an old (but odd) perception that Tinta Negra is not a noble grape, like the heralded white varieties Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvasia and Terrantez. Tinta Negra is handled just like a white grape, and despite its humble stature, the grape is behind some absolutely stunning wines, as Barbeito demonstrates.

Speaking of red grapes, Barbeito is also reintroducing Bastardo to the market. Yes, this awesomely named grape is a historical treasure in Madeira, but unless it’s a bottle from decades (or even centuries) past, you’re not likely to come across the name on a label. Barbeito plans to release small amounts of Bastardo to see
if it gains traction.

While I applaud Barbeito for trying some different things, the producer's innovation and experimentation is completely relative. Barbetio’s efforts must been seen within the context of a tightly regulated wine industry. This ain't California. You can't plant any grape anywhere, make a quirky wine and see if people will buy it. To bottle Madeira, one must follow a series of very specific rules. Every bottle of Madeira that goes to market has jumped through lots of hoops.

The Madeira Wine Institute, which regulates Madeira wine's denomination of origin, certifies seemingly every aspect of the grape-growing, winemaking and aging processes. Finished wines are analyzed in a lab to ensure their sugar and acidity levels fall within the approved framework, and a tasting panel approves every wine before it is sold. Sercial is dry and Malvasia is richly sweet, period. You can't bottle a dry Malvasia or a sweet Sercial. This sounds heavy-handed, but Madeira is a uniquely historic wine that is made with unique methods. And the MWI aims to keep it that way.

Rubina Viera, who heads up the Madeira Wine Institute's tasting panel, told me that respecting the special heritage and history of Madeira is crucial to the survival of this wine. "If we sacrifice our history," she said, "we will die."

Barbeito isn't sacrificing anything, but their efforts add a bit more texture to the overall canvas of Madeira wine.

Unfortunately, winemaker Ricardo Freitas wasn't around when I visited. (Levi Dalton recently interviewed
Barbeito winemaker Ricardo Freitas on his podcast, I’ll Drink to That. If you’re interested in Madeira and want a ton of in-depth information on Barbeito, this is an awesome resource.) Leandro Gouveia was an excellent host, however, and he poured me a long lineup of Madeira wine to taste.

First, we tasted some young wines, with the goal of analyzing the primary aromas and flavors. These wines had already been fortified to around 17% alcohol, two degrees below the usual bottling point of 19%.

2015 Sercial (sample)
This is a skin-fermented wine in an “extra dry” style already fortified to about 17% alcohol. Smells salty and steely with bright citrus juice and pith. So bright and insanely salty on the palate (I love it!) along with flavors of green apple, orange peel, raw almond and sea salt. Tart, lively, this gets the whole palate firing.

2015 Tinta Negra (sample)

Left: 2015 Tinta Negra. Right: 2010 Tinta Negra. The Madeira aging process of
oxidation, fortification and extended barrel aging does amazing things to the color.
Very interesting to taste a young example of Tinta Negra, before it fully develops into classic Madeira. It’s a ruby color in the glass. Smells of ruby red grapefruit, juicy raspberries, dusty earth and violets. Tastes strong, powerful, with tart red fruits and sweet floral notes. Reminds me of a sample from a fermenting vat, but stronger. This wine was fortified to 17% once it reached 10% alcohol from natural fermentation.  

2010 Tinta Negra (sample)
Interesting contrast to the 2015 Tinta Negra with its golden orange color. After five years of oxidation, this smells of honey, wildflowers, orange peels and almonds. Tart, almost searing, acidity, this is a powerful and demanding wine. All sorts of nuts and dried floral components along with some dried apricot and pineapple elements. Really interesting.

2015 Malvasia (sample)
Awesome to taste a young Malvasia. Smells of so many apples and green flowers. Juicy fruit on the palate, so much tropical and floral elements. A vibrant, juicy wine with lots of sweet complexities. I can see why this is made into a dessert wine. 

Below are my notes on the finished wines I tasted with Leandro.

2004 Barbeito Madeira Tinta Negra Single Harvest Colheita - Portugal, Madeira
Light gold color. Smells of orange peel, sea spray and honey. Rushing acidity on the palate, this tangy wine shows lots of richness as well. Interesting flavor profile of yellow and green apples, oranges, bright lemon, along with notes of pecans and sea salt. A vibrant, punchy style but it’s also quite elegant. (92 points)

2001 Barbeito Madeira Malvasia Single Cask - Portugal, Madeira
Lovely gold color. Smells of tropical fruits, honey and sweet flowers. Rich and sweet but more tropical (less of the brown sugar and caramel). I get apricot jam, honey, date and lingering salted almond flavors. (88 points)

1998 Barbeito Madeira Ribeiro Real Tinta Negra Colheita - Portugal, Madeira
Orange colored. Smells of honey, orange marmalade and almonds. Bright acid on a richly-textured wine. Honey, almond, zesty orange, a distinctive note of red apple peel. So polished and fresh with a long finish. Complex and very enjoyable. (91 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Mr. Madison's Malmsey - Portugal, Madeira
Sweet and floral on the nose with brown sugar and orange marmalade. Full, juicy and sweet but stays restrained and vibrant. Oranges, quince paste, honeys and almond amount to a moderately complex wine. (87 points)

Clearly targeted to the American market, the Historic Series is a  savvy
homage to the historic connection between Madeira and America
N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Thomas Jefferson Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of orange peels, clovers and a crazily complex blend of nuts. High on the acid, this is a kicking wine, but it’s also really rich and nutty. The complexity of the mixed nut flavors is really impressive. Awesome stuff. A blend of different varieties in a medium-dry style. (91 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Charleston Sercial Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira 
Smells of dried nuts, honey and sea salt. Fresh, clean, nutty, well done with a spicy tangerine kick. (89 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Baltimore Rainwater - Portugal, Madeira
Fresh, lively aromas with spiced tea and flowers. Full but a fresher approach (18% alcohol). Smooth and easy to drink, but this is also surprisingly complex for this style. (88 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Savannah Verdelho Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira
Orange and golden brown colored. Smooth honey and apricot jam aromas. Full and smooth on the palate, a lovely rich style but fresh acid keeps it together. Apricot, quince paste, honey, mixed nuts, this is seriously good stuff. (90 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series Boston Bual Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira
Rich aromatics of sweet brown sugar and pumpkin pie. Full, rich, yet lively and complex. This is one of the zestiest Bual’s I’ve tasted. Flavors of clove, brown sugar, figs and dates mix with bright citrus peel and salty notes. My favorite non-vintage Bual of the trip. (92 points)

1992 Barbeito Madeira Sercial Frasqueira - Portugal, Madeira 
Salty aromas with dried orange and lemon pith. Tart and salty on the palate but smooth as well. Full of rocky, mineral notes along with dried nuts and caramel. Dry, tart, complex, very long finish. (93 points)

1992 Barbeito Madeira Boal Frasqueira - Portugal, Madeira
Whoa, holy volatile acidity! Smells of some crazy varnished wood, white tea, and orange marmalade. Spicy and tangy, this wine holds the VA well. Very fresh, almost tastes dry for a Bual. I get nutty and coffee notes followed by polished wood, baked pear, cinnamon spice. The finish is long and complex. Amazing how Madeira can turn make volatile acidity seem so damn attractive. (92 points)

N.V. Rare Wine Co. (Vinhos Barbeito) Madeira Historic Series New York Malmsey Special Reserve - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of polished wood and tart orange, some baked pear and sweet squash with cinnamon. Full of brown sugar and sweetness on the palate but this is still very balanced and maintains a salty tang on the finish. (90 points)

Note: The Ribeiro Reals are blended with 15% Tinta Negra from the 19th Century.

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Sercial Ribeiro Real 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Light orange color. Smells like sea spray, cut floral stems and raw almonds. Tart, crunchy and crusty on the palate, yet so complex. Tingling mineral notes mix with sliced orange, sweet tea, oyster shell and sea salt. A gorgeous Sercial. (94 points)

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Verdelho Ribeiro Real 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
So floral and spicy on the nose, with clove, potpourri and sea spray. Sweet floral palate with rocking acidity, so pure and elegant but gorgeous richness. This is such a balanced wine with a pure beam of oceanic goodness that crashes over the yellow plum and mixed nut flavors. (94 points)

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Boal Ribeiro Real 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Smells like wood varnish and tart oranges. Rich and full but stays quite bright, too. I get yellow plums, baked apples and sweet floral tea. This doesn’t strike my palate as much as the Sercial and Verdelho Ribeiro Reals, but it’s still an impressive effort. (90 points)

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Malvasia Ribeiro Real 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Interesting golden color for a Malvasia (this golden color is a theme with Barbeito, it seems). I get cigar smoke, baked apple and wood varnish on the nose. Tastes like sweet candied tropical fruits but it’s refreshing. I also get cognac-like elements and some polished wood. Lovely freshness for a Malvasia. (91 points)

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Malvazia 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Sweet aromas but pleasantly bitter as well with complex spice and orange rind. Stays fresh despite the richness. Dried apricot, candied orange, pine sap, layered spice and anise cookie flavors. Complex and layered with lots of intrigue. Whoa. (94 points)

N.V. Barbeito Madeira Malvazia "Mãe Manuela" - Portugal, Madeira
What an absolutely gorgeous wine. Props to Ricardo Freitas for putting this wine together to honor his mother – it’s an amazing tribute. Smells of sweet clove, complex almond and pecan, baked squash, dried apricot, polished wood and anise. On the palate this is waxy and sweet but the balance is pristine. The complexity of flavors nears the absurd: nuts, dried fruits, minerals, sea salt, rooibos tea. Smooth, sweet, tangy, precise. This is phenomenal stuff. Includes wine dating back to 1880. (97 points)

So, yeah, it was a good tasting. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Time to Explore American Tempranillo

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

I recently tasted through a half-case of American Tempranillo, and found myself thinking: I wish I saw more of this stuff. The wines came from TAPAS (the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society — clever, huh?), a group of winemakers spreading the word about American interpretations of the classic grape of Rioja.

Four of the wines hail from California, two from Oregon. In 2014, Oregon growers reported more than 340 acres of Tempranillo. Umpqua Valley seems to be leading the pack, and I’ve been floored by Abacecla’s Tempranillo in the past. I agree with Nancy Rodriguez, who pointed out in Oregon Wine Press that Umpqua Valley Tempranillo wines stand out and demand attention. In California, Tempranillo is peppered (generally in small amounts) all over the state, totaling a little less than 1,000 acres as of 2014, according to a USDA report.

So, while there aren’t massive amounts of American Tempranillo, some producers have found a nice niche for these wines. They’re worth checking out.

These wines were tasted single-blind.

2011 Coquerel Tempranillo - California, Napa Valley, Calistoga
SRP: $42
Light purple color. Smoky and earthy on the nose, like loam and campfire, along with black pepper and sweet pipe tobacco, on top of tart red and black currants and juicy dark plums. Full-bodied with moderate structure to the tannins, some fresh acid keeps it moving forward. The black currant and blueberry fruit is rich but pure and tart around the edges. Complex notes of mint, tobacco, pepper and dusty soil, along with some coffee and vanilla accents. Bold but pieced together well, this is quite nice now but will improve with a few years in the cellar. Aged 20 months in used French oak. (90 points)

2013 Castoro Cellars Tempranillo Reserve Whale Rock Vineyard
- California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $30
Bright purple color. Smells of raspberry jam, juicy summer plums, some blackberries as well, backed up by cola, violets and pepper glaze. Full-bodied, a juicy texture with velvety tannins, medium-low acid. Jammy black and red fruit, I also get flavors of loamy soil, tobacco and sweet coffee. Not as deep or complex as some of the others in this tasting, but well done, especially if you like a jammier style. Aged 13 months in French and American oak. (86 points)

2013 Lee Family Farm (Morgan Winery) Tempranillo - California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
SRP: $20
Light purple color. Smells of black and red currants and tart red berries, sweet cocoa powder, vanilla, along with notes of eucalyptus and tobacco. The palate shows a full-bodied approach with velvety tannins and a refreshing tartness. Black cherries, red and black currants, the fruit is rich but crunchy. Leafy, earthy, dusty elements mix with vanilla and cedar. Open, juicy, ready for business but showing a lot of complexity. Aged in ¼ new French oak. What a solid value. (88 points)

2013 St. Amant Winery Tempranillo The Road Less Traveled - California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County
SRP: $18
Light purple color. Aromas of juicy raspberries and black cherries, along with a hefty dose of pepper, tobacco and clove. Full-bodied, mouth-filling, chewy tannins and low acid. The black cherry and dark plum fruit is jammy and topped in fig cookies, coffee, chocolate, cedar and toasted oak. A more bombastic style for sure, but plenty of fun. (85 points)

2012 Abacela Tempranillo Barrel Select Estate - Oregon, Southern Oregon, Umpqua ValleySRP: $32
Dark ruby color. Smooth and enticing on the nose, with juicy blackberries and black cherries, notes of sweet coffee, rich soil, eucalyptus and tobacco. Full-bodied with a chewy presence, velvety tannins and medium-low acid. The black cherries, blueberries and black currant fruit is really rich and jammy, but it tastes pure, not candied. The fruit is topped with notes of sweet tobacco, eucalyptus, black olive and black pepper. A sense of loamy minerality lingers on the long finish. Rich, bold, chewy but maintains lots of intrigue and complexity. I’d love to retaste in three or four years. (92 points)

2012 Domaine Trouvére Tempranillo Riserva - Oregon, Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley
SRP: $40
Deep ruby colored. Smells of red and black currants, along with coffee, vanilla and a spicy, earthy, peppery streak. Medium to full-bodied with velvety tannins and medium acid. Rich black currant and blackberries, the fruit is bold but shows a tart edge. Dark and saucy with flavors of mocha, vanilla, black pepper, bay leaf and tobacco. This could use a few years of aging, but an impressive wine for sure. (88 points)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Over the past few months, I've tasted through a range of sample wines from all over the world. Sometimes I receive a bottle from here, a bottle from there, and they don't amount to enough to conduct a proper regional tasting. So, under the largest umbrella possible, here's a grab bag of wines from all over the world. The Capensis Chardonnay, specifically, was one of the most exciting Chards I've tasted in a long time, and reflective of some of the amazing Chardonnay coming from all over South Africa. 

2013 Capensis Chardonnay - South Africa, Western Cape
SRP: $80
Golden colored. Smells amazing, just what I look for in premium Chardonnay: lovely mix of sea salt, chalk, ocean spray along with green apple, lime, nectarine with some nougat and almond. Creamy body but the acid is so refreshing and the combination of richness and brightness is wonderfully balanced. Buttery but so sleek. Rich but so elegant. Flavors of lemon meringue and nectarine mix with chalk, sea shells, minerals, almond shell and whipped butter. Beautiful Chardonnay that is worth cellaring. Sourced from three vineyards (Stellenbosch, Overberg and Robertson), half the wine is aged in new French oak for 12 months. (93 points)

2014 Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben-Thanisch) Riesling Feinherb - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
SRP: $14
Pale lemon-lime color. Nose of white peac, limes, some chalky soil and honeysuckle. Moderately crisp acid, medium-light bodied, white peaches and guava dashed with lime juice and topped with honeycomb, white flowers and crushed chalk. Crisp, clean, quite dry, a great easy-sipping Riesling if you’re not a fan of residual sugar. I could see this turning on a lot of the “Riesling’s too sweet” crowd. (86 points)

2013 Criterion Collection Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
SRP: $17
Medium purple color. Tart red currants and black cherries on the nose, some tanginess to the fruit with notes of menthol, violets and toast. Medium-bodied, soft tannins, fresh acid, this is not your typical Aussie fruit bomb. A fresher, leaner approach at 13.3% alcohol, I get tart red currants and plums along with notes of tar, toast, menthol and red licorice. Fruity for sure but fresh and lively, this presents itself well for the price. (87 points)

2010 Criterion Collection Rioja Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $17
Medium ruby colored. Nose of dusty red currants, tart plum skins, warm vanilla chai, coffee grounds, chewing tobacco. Medium-bodied, some nice grip to the tannins, moderate acid. The red currant and plum fruit is tart and crunchy but juicy enough. Lots of wood and vanilla, with leather, chewing tobacco and black tea rounding out the profile. Well-made, solid structure, good value. (86 points)

2014 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages
SRP: $15
Light, vibrant ruby colored. Tart, smoky red fruit on the nose, juicy raspberries and red currants, topped with campfire smoke, leather and some brighter notes of rose hips and violets. Medium-full-bodied, smooth tannic structure, medium acid, pleasantly easy-drinking. Lots of red berry fruit topped with a significant amount of smoke, leather, roasted chestnut and grilled herbs. Quite complex considering its easy-drinking appeal. Always a good by, these Bila-Haut wines. Syrah, Grenache and Carignan. (87+ points)

2014 Trivento Cabernet/Malbec Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Vibrant violet color. Smells like blackberries, plum sauce, mixed in with some loam, sweet coffee, cedar and cola. Full and saucy with east-drinking tannins and some juicy acid. Chewy black cherries and blueberry fruit, topped with smoke, graphite, coffee and dusty earth. Not too complicated or serious, but fun stuff. (83 points)

2014 Trivento Malbec Reserve - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
Rich violet color. Aromas of raspberry jam, juicy red plums, sweet red flowers. Light tannins, medium-to-bright acid, medium-bodied. Juicy black cherries, dark plums, the fruit is laced with cocoa, cherry wood, dark chocolate, along with hints of charcoal pit and earth. Fun, juicy, crowd-pleasing stuff. (84 points)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Unfortified: The Still Wines of Madeira

Vines cling to steep hillsides on the north side of Madeira.
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Like few other wines in the world, the wines from the island of Madeira are synonymous with their distinctive method of production. For centuries, producers here have fortified their wines with neutral spirits, then aged the wines in cask for long periods of time, oxidizing them and exposing them to heat. The result is one of the world’s winemaking gems — a seemingly indestructible wine that can age for centuries and retain its exotic characteristics for long after the bottle is opened.

After a week-long trip to this Portuguese island, I have a whole lot to write about these magnificent wines and the island and people responsible for them. But, first, I wanted to explore the state of the island’s still wines. Yes, they make unfortified, dry, white and red table wines on Madeira. The wines ranged from the eccentric and odd to the refreshing and impressive.

The entire island is home to less than 500 hectares of vines, which cling to unreasonably steep hillsides in tiny, terraced vineyards. And still wine production counts for a mere 4-5% of the island’s total production. So there are not a lot of bottles to go around. The still Madeira wines (which fall under the appellation “DOP Madeirense”) are made in very small quantities, and the majority of the wine stays on the island. But the evolution of the still wine movement in Madeira signifies a desire to adapt and innovate. And that’s notable for a tremendously regulated wine industry on an island typified by a stick-to-your-guns respect for tradition and history.

As a collective group, DOP Madeirense white wines are fresh, vibrant, low in alcohol, high in acidity, and laced with citrus peel and floral flavors. Like seemingly everything produced on the island, the wines exude a sense of sea salt and oceanic goodness. As a surfer and lover of all things of the sea, these wines excite me. And they’re perfectly matched to local cuisine like lapas and scabbard fish. The red wines (frequently blends of two to five varieties) tend to have lighter tannic structure, high acidity, crunchy red fruit and plenty of earth and spice elements to go around.

While these wine are quirky, tasty and fit well on the table, it makes little sense for producers of still Madeira wine to export them. Portugal (which everyone here calls the Mainland) produces plenty of Verdelho, for example. And the Mainland has plenty of not-so-treacherous places to grow grapes. Like any major wine category, Mainland Verdelho can be excellent, but there are many serviceable wines with large production and moderate price tags, something Madeira producers simply cannot match. A wine competition between the Mainland and Madeira is like pitting a heavyweight against a bantamweight. Madeira winemakers aren’t eager to step into that ring.

On the other hand, it makes little sense to import brisk, fresh white wines that pair wonderfully with local seafood when producers have access to at least some amount of quality white grapes on the island. More than one million people visit Madeira every year, and those people want to eat and drink everything the island has to offer. Madeira already imports a large amount of the food that appears on the restaurant table. Some producers figure they can make still wines for consumption right here on the island. And I’m glad these wines exist.

Sweet potatoes are a winter-time cover crop in Madeira.
Before coming to the island, I had only heard vague rumors about Madeira’s still wine (mostly dismissive comments from people who had not tasted them). But the roots of the still wine movement date back to the late 1970s. The Madeira Wine Institute (the governing body that regulates and certifies nearly every aspect of grape growing and wine production on the island) began experimenting with more than 50 different varieties to see which would be best suited for the production of unfortified Madeira. The answer, says the Institute’s President, Paula Cabaço, was clear: “Verdelho was the best.”

That certainly seems to be the case. Verdelho shows real promise as a still wine on Madeira. Several producers have bottled crisp, dry, bright examples of this grape, while others have blended it with an interesting mix of grapes (like Arnsburger) not used for the production of Madeira.

No one makes a commercially available still Malvasia, although I’m intrigued about the concept. However, there’s not a ton of the grape planted on the island, and the juice goes on to produce one of the most and long-lived wines on the world as a fortified sweet wine, Malvasia or Malmsey. So producers aren’t rushing to bottle, crisp, still wines for pounding on the patio. Same goes for Sercial and Boal (the other white grapes used for fortified wines).

Considering the strict rules for Madeira production, it’s exciting to see producers experimenting with still wines: blending traditional white grapes with less traditional ones; using grapes like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; trying out blends of traditional Portuguese red grapes like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. The total production is small, but the passion is evident.

While Madeira producers are obviously well equipped with the casks and space needed for the canteiro process (cask aging with exposure to heat and oxygen), many do not have the equipment needed to produce still wine. That’s where the MWI comes in. In 2002, the MWI set up their own winery with all the presses, tanks, etc., capable of producing still wine. And they allow producers to use that equipment to make their own still wine. However, producers have to cover the cost by paying the Institute for this service. Considering producers already have what they need to make fortified wine, this added cost is yet another barrier to the large-scale production of still Madeira wine.

Despite these hurdles, Barbara Spinola of the Institute’s Promotion Department, said there is strong support for the still wine project among Madeira producers. Today, she said, there are now more than 10 different still wine brands.

While the production of still white and red DOP Madeirense wines may has grown, there doesn’t seem to be much long-term prospect for significant growth in this area. To fully invest in making still wines on the island, growers and producers would have to make a sharp turn away from their deeply-held tradition of producing of the world’s best fortified wines. And there’s simply no impetus for making such a dramatic shift.

But a large fortified wine industry and a small still wine industry can both exist in the same place and time. And I hope there continues to be at least some demand for these still Madeira wines. When eating a piping hot plate of lapas, or some steamed scabbard fish, sipping on a brisk local wine is a tremendous experience. And for those looking to expand their palates and try new things, don’t hesitate if you see a rare bottle of DOP Madeirense. It won’t be the best still wine you’ve had all year, but it will certainly offer up a unique island experience. And if you visit Madeira and sit down at a restaurant, don’t think twice: order a DOP Madeirense.

Below are my tasting notes on a few of the still Madeira wines I tasted on a recent trip. All the wines were tasted sighted.

2014 Barbusano Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense 

Bright orange and lemon aromas mixed with salt and white flowers. Tart acid on the palate, this is a brisk and salty wine, verging on intense, with flavors of orange and lemon peels, cheese rind and crusty sea salt. This is going to have a lot of haters, but when served with some sautéed lapas, this was an absolutely stellar pairing, and the unique and, honestly a bit strange, elements of the wine really hit it for my palate. (87 points)

2013 Justino’s “Colombo” - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
A peachy and floral nose with lemon curd and saline notes as well. Bright and zesty on the palate with a streak of salty, briny flavors throughout. Lime and peaches topped with chalk and honeysuckle. Paired very nicely with a traditional Madeira lunch of lapas (limpets). A blend of Verdelho and Arnsburger. (86 points)

2014 Justino’s Arnsburger “Colombo” - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
Bright and floral on the nose with crisp lemon and lime peel. Bright acid, a rocking verve of minerality makes this wine exciting. Flavors of green apple peel, lime, green pears, topped with chalk dust and quinine. Really fun stuff that fits perfectly on the lunch patio table. Exciting to see what some growers and producers are doing with this rare grape, Arnsburger (a cross between two clones of Riesling). (88 points)

2014 Madeira Wine Company Rosé “Atlantis” - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
Really unique aromas of salt, cheese rind and white tea, some funky-peppery elements as well. Creamy texture with tart acid. Flavors of white cherries and lemon peel mix blended with sea salt and brine. It paired well with a rich scabbard fish soup, which brought out the acid even more. A Blandy’s still wine project made from Tinta Negra. (85 points)

2014 Terras do Avô Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
Light gold color. White peach, limes and airy notes of sea spray on the nose. Crisp, crunchy and briny on the palate, this tastes like straight-up salted lemons, crushed shells and big waves crashing on rocks. An absurdly oceanic wine, which makes sense because the grapes were grown 100 meters from the ocean. Considering my love for all things oceanic, yes, I enjoy this wine. But it’s a unique style for sure. (87 points)

2012 Terras do Avô Tinto - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
Bright ruby color (no purple here). Smells spicy and peppery with notes of tobacco accenting the bright red currant fruit. Zippy acid, light tannic structure, a great wine to serve slightly chilled. Juicy red fruits but they are tart throughout, topped with notes of dusty earth and spices. A very refreshing red wine that paired nicely with pretty much everything on the table. A mid-Atlantic kitchen sink blend of Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. (87 points)

2013 Beijo Madeirense - Portugal, Madeira, Madeirense
Juicy ruby color. Smells of smoky plums and currant compote, along with some roasted red pepper and cracked black pepper. Fleshy with dusty tannins but so tart and fresh. Vibrant, crunchy red berries mixed with anise, pepper and earthy tones. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca. (87 points)

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Historic Madeira Wines of D'Oliveiras

During a recent epic trip to the island of Madeira earlier this month, I tasted a whole lot of wines. This small island (falling under Portuguese authority but located closer to Morocco) is home to just eight producers, and I visited six.

And the best was saved for last: Pereira D'Olveiras.

Formed in 1850, D'Oliveiras was a family firm that bought out six producers and exporters of Madeira and placed them under one umbrella. With 170 years as a company, D'Oliveiras has a large stock of very old and very rare wines (Bastardo from the 1920s, Verdelho and Moscatel from the 1800s). These wines are loved by collectors and respected by Madeira cognoscenti. But while the ancient wines deservedly cost a lot of money, D’Oliveiras produces stellar wines at all price points. They have a complex, nuanced approach to each classic style of Madeira.  

Unlike a lot of other producers on the island that bottle several different brands under labels for specific markets, D’Oliveiras is just D’Oliveiras. They stand by their name alone (with classic, old-school labels), producing some of the most profound fortified wines on the island, nay, the world.  

After a week of tasting Madeira, to be honest, I had to gather up my palate strength for this tasting. But once I set foot in this old warehouse in downtown Funchal, any fatigue dissipated. An aura of important history swept over me, and I felt energized, even honored, to be tasting such a stellar lineup of wines.

The tasting was absurd in the amount of phenomenal wines tasted in one sitting, which included a few of the best wines I've ever tasted in my life. My only problem was with the stemware. The glasses provided were those tiny tasting glasses with tapered rims, which makes it really hard to get your nose in there, and it accentuates the alcohol on fortified wines. I would've loved to taste these wines in proper stemware so I could really swirl and get the full tasting experience. Still - what a treat to taste these beauties.

Here are my notes from an epic tasting…

Light gold/orange color. Floral aromas with yellow apples. Fresh and vibrant, pleasantly salty, lovely dried fruits. A sense of honeyed and nutty richness but stays pure. Not the most complex wine but very nice stuff. (88 points)

1989 D'Oliveiras Madeira Sercial - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of cognac, caramel and orange peel. Silky but so bright and alive. Wow, this has insane acidity but it's also plush and smooth. Full of zesty citrus fruit and salty complexity. (93 points)

1977 D'Oliveiras Madeira Sercial - Portugal, Madeira
Light brown color. Gorgeous aromas of sea spray, almond, bitter lemon, orange peel, slight cheese rind. So bright and ripping, the acidity goes to 11 on this one. Flavors of orange peel, preserved lemon, dried honey, salted nuts, honeyed and spiced tea. Wow, this is gorgeous in its complexity. Very tart but balanced a bit by the weight and richness of the wine. Classic stuff. (95 points)

Casks of Madeira age and tower over the tasting room at D'Oliveiras.
1937 D'Oliveiras Madeira Sercial - Portugal, Madeira
Deep orange/tawny color. Smells of dried flowers, orange peels and honeycomb, along with grapefruit and tobacco — unique aromas. Such penetrating acidity on the palate, it's extreme. A total freak of a wine, perhaps the most crazily acidic wine I've ever tasted. The flavors are so cool and strange: old cigar, crusty sea salt, jetty rocks. I can't call this balanced, and I don't know what arbitrary number to throw at it. It was definitely a unique experience, although I could not drink a full glass of this.

2000 D'Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of yellow apples and floral perfume. On the palate this is pretty and elegant with complex fruit flavors (peach nectar, juicy yellow apples, apricot jam), along with a host of non fruit elements: tropical flowers, almonds, sea salt and white tea. Complex, beautiful stuff. at 30 Euros, I had to buy a bottle for the cellar. (93 points)

1988 D'Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira
Aromas of floral perfume, Cognac, dried pineapples and apricots. Creamy palate, well-rounded and integrated with tartness from the acid. Yellow apples and apricot jam with notes of spice and sea spray. (91 points)

1971 D'Oliveiras Madeira Terrantez Colheita - Portugal, Madeira
Rocking aromas here: yellow apples, dried apricots, peach nectar, Cognac, salted almond and sea spray. Tart and bright on the palate, so tangy yet chewy, with rich orange peel and apricot. I also get cigar smoke, clover and wildflowers. A beautiful wine. (94 points)

Ridiculously good stuff. Holy shit.
1927 D'Oliveiras Madeira Bastardo - Portugal, Madeira
I am so blown away by this wine. It's not just intellectually and historically fascinating, it has amazing and haunting aromas and flavors, and the complexity is ridiculous. On the nose, I get dried fruits, nuts, surprisingly fresh flowers, salt air, white pepper, all of it nuanced and gorgeous. The palate is silky but tart, and I can't believe the liveliness, purity and vibrancy on this wine. The fruit is not just kicking, it comes out swinging with oranges, sliced pears and dried mango. The complex elements of smoke, nuts, spice and earth are profound. So balanced and elegant, so long and pure. Unbelievable stuff. (98

1912 D'Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira
There aromas are so cool: cigar smoke, old leather, savory spices, musk. Round and full but really zesty. Still vibrant, although not much fruit. This wine is all about the dried flower, nuts, leather jacket, cigar lounge and musk elements. The acid is keeps it lively. Wow. (95 points)

1890 D'Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira
A real treat to taste. I get some orange peel, honeycomb, caramel and green coffee aromas. So pure and smooth on the palate, I can't believe how balanced and precise this wine is. Filled with tobacco, peppper, floral spice, roasted chestnut and coffee bean. No real fruit here, but the other flavors are rocking and the wine stays bright and tangy. Long finish with notes of mineral and quinine. Wow. (97 points)

N.V. D'Oliveiras Madeira 15 Years Medium Sweet - Portugal, Madeira
Aromas of sweet caramel, apricot jam, pineapple cake and brown sugar. Juicy apple mixed with dried apricot. Spicy, floral notes with brown sugar and a medium-length, nutty finish. Really tasty stuff. (88 points)

1993 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of dates, figs and caramel. Hmm, on the palate, this is a bit off. It's not corked, but it's strange, funky and dusty. Acerbic , acrid, just strange. Not rated.

1982 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal - Portugal, Madeira
OK, this one's on point. Rich aromas of trail mix, honey and dried apricots. Bold style but still bright and well-integrated. Dates, figs, caramel, nuts and honey, all of it balanced and smooth. (92 points)

1968 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal - Portugal, Madeira
Aromas of orange marmalade, dried apricots, sweet caramel, clove and floral potpourri. Tart and zesty on the palate, this is a bold but sharp wine. Flavors of apricot jam, almond, coffee, spiced tea, floral perfume, and a mix of candied and salted nuts. (93 points)

1908 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal - Portugal, Madeira
I really wanted to freak out about this wine. I mean, I like it a lot, but it's quite austere. Very sharp aromas, some caramel and nuts rise above the volatile acidity. Rich and dense on the palate, it tastes very roasted and baked, like coffee cake, baked figs and hot caramel. The volatile acidity is quite sharp. Interesting stuff, but (for my palate) this isn't a sip-a-whole-glass kind of Madeira. (88 points)

N.V. D'Oliveiras Madeira 15 year old Sweet - Portugal, Madeira
Aromas of brown sugar, apricot jam and caramel. Sweet and plump on the palate, juicy and sugary with sweet dates, fig paste and caramel. A bit simple, but tasty and fun. (87 points)

2002 D'Oliveiras Madeira Malvazia Colheita - Portugal, Madeira
Nose of bright flowers (quite fresh for a Malvasia). Juicy and sweet but not too brown sugary or baked. More nuanced floral and honey flavors. (90 points)

1991 D'Oliveiras Madeira Malvazia - Portugal, Madeira
Gorgeous aromas of dried flowers, spiced tea and clover honey. Sweet, plush, smooth and sexy on the palate. Rich but put together so well. Yeah, this is popping. Finishes with delicious flavors of brown sugar and sticky buns. (93 points)

1901 D'Oliveiras Madeira Malvazia - Portugal, Madeira
Deep gold/light orange color. Smells of sweet caramel, spiced tea, clove and cinnamon. Full and rich but the acidity is precise. Flavors of dates and figs are still going strong. Complex elements of salted almond, wax, wood polish. Long finish. Still going strong but the focus is on point. (94 points)

The 1850 was the best wine I've ever tasted.
1875 D'Oliveiras Madeira Moscatel Reserva (Portugal, Madeira)
 God, what a cool wine. Smells of dried pineapple, sweet clove, cherry wood, menthol, eucalyptus and leather, all of the aromas of complex, nuanced and exciting. Sweet but balanced on the palate, this is wacky good. Leather, coffee, cherry wood, dusty library, herbal bitters, eucalyptus, vapor rub, these flavors are uniquely and complex. The wine is seamless on the with its richness and acidity. Crazy-long finish. (97 points)

1850 D'Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho - Portugal, Madeira
It's so difficult to wrap my head around an historic wine like this. First of all, it's an intellectually fascinating experience, which evokes dreams of centuries past. I won't claim to be able to separate the historical significance of the wine from the sensory experience of tasting the wine. But, tasting the wine itself is one of the most amazing experiences in my wine lifetime. I'll attempt to describe this thing. First off, it still has fruit on the nose, kind of like quince paste and preserved lemon, but I get complex elements of clove, old furniture shop, cigar smoke and wood varnish. On the palate, this wine shows a pleasant bitterness, while the sweetness balances perfectly with the high acidity. One flavor evolves into another, and into another, and then back again, like a blissful circle. I'll throw some words at a few of these flavors: caramel, varnished wood, cigar box, candle wax, leather, sea salt, yellow raisins, candied lemon peel, old library books, sweet floral potpourri, spiced tea. The complexity is ridiculous. So, this is an incredible intellectual experience in and of itself, but the aromas and flavors of this wine are ethereal. Perhaps the best thing to ever grace my palate. (99 points)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Galerie Wines: Portraits of Place in Sonoma & Napa

Laura Diaz Munoz. Credit: Galerie Wines
This post first appeared in the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Through her solo project, Galerie Wines, Laura Díaz Muñoz offers up a series of varietal wines, two Sauvignon Blancs and two Cabernets, one apiece from Knights Valley and Napa Valley. The grapes are treated the same way, with the same amount of skin contact, same winemaking methods, same barrel regimen, which allows the wines to speak to their different origins. The Knights Valley wines come from Kellogg Vineyard, while the Napa Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet come from a variety of sites around Napa.

Both Sauvignon Blancs were handled the same way in the cellar. Half whole-cluster pressed, the juice was then racked into a mix of concrete eggs, stainless steel and new and used French oak. The wine was then aged on the lees for six months, with lees stirring done twice a week. Both Cabernets are 100% Cab are aged 19 months in 55% new French oak.

Laura is no newb to these grape varieties. After studying food science as an undergraduate and receiving a graduate degree in enology from Polytechnic University in Madrid, she worked in Sauvignon Blanc hotbeds of New Zealand and Chile. Laura then joined up with Chris Carpenter, (who produces some incredible Napa Cabernets under the Cardinale, La Jota and Mt. Brave labels) and became the assistant winemaker.

At a dinner with Laura last year, she told me she’d never been to California before accepting the gig with Chris. But she fell in love with Napa, and stuck around, though she travels back to Spain frequently to visit her family.

After working with Chris, Laura said she wanted a project that was fully her own, a wine label that would bare her unique signature. Laura says she and Chris share a similar winemaking philosophy. They both use wild fermentation and Galerie uses the same coopers as Chris, but Laura says she prefers a bit less oak and brighter red fruits in her wines (a preference that rings true in Laura’s Cabernet).

While Galerie’s focus is on Cab Sauv and Sauv Blanc, in 2014 Laura crafted one heck of a Riesling. The Spring Mountain Riesling was the first time she’s worked with this grape, but said she was thrilled about the prospect. Spring Mountain seems to produce some really high quality Riesling, and this one stunned me. (Smith-Madrone comes to mind as another example). The fruit comes from a very small plot (less than two acres), so there’s not much to go around. The wine is slightly off-dry, but the intense acid needs a slight bit of sweetness to tame it (and Laura maintains it helps lift the aromatics as well).

Taken together, these five wines comprise quite a portfolio. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2014 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc Equitem - California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
SRP: $30
A bright, crisp appeal on the nose, with complex floral perfume and white pepper on top of sliced green apples and tangerines. Crisp and crunchy palate but some creaminess adds texture and depth to the wine. Orange peel, green apples, green pears, the fruit is crisp but ripe, and matched with hints of chalk, crushed rocks, sea spray, raw almond and a hint of white pepper. Long, lingering finish with a sense of pure minerality, this is a vibrant and exciting Sauvignon Blanc. (91 points)

2014 Galerie Sauvignon Blanc Naissance - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $30
Lovely floral, green apple, lime and sea salt notes on the nose. On the palate, this has a creamy presence but precision comes from pure, clean acidity. Fresh green apples and limes mix with papaya, and the fruit is laced with notes of sea salt, river rocks, minerals, dried white flowers. Hints of waxy, honeyed notes, but this is a bright and refreshing wine with a lot of complexity. Lots of seemingly contradictory elements to ponder, but the whole is so balanced and integrated. (90 points)

2014 Galerie Riesling Terracea - California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
SRP: $30
Aromatically firing, this is bold but elegant with bright honeysuckle, lilies, salty air and cucumber water on top of sliced limes and nectarines. Crisp and edgy on the palate but some very moderate sweetness to balance out the bright acid. This is a precise but exuberant Riesling with complex flavors of crunchy green apples, nectarine, pears and peaches. I also get crusty sea salt, honeysuckle, sliced cucumber and minerals, there is a whole lot going on with this Riesling. I'm very interested to see how this wine will age, but this is beautiful right out of the bottle. (91 points)

2012 Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon Latro - California, Sonoma County, Knights Valley
SRP: $50
Deep purple color. Nose of tart blueberries and rich currants, the fruit is smooth and ripe but bright at the same time, and laced with sweet spice, pepper, loamy soil, coffee and cola. This is a young, bold wine with sturdy but velvety tannins, some moderate acid keeps if refreshing, though. Blackberries, blueberries, black currants, a rich wine but it maintains a slice of tartness. Mixed in with complex elements of graphite, mocha, loam, roasted chestnut, black licorice and charcoal. Complex, young, needs time but this is gorgeous even at this young age. All Cabernet, aged 19 months in 55% new French oak. Great stuff. One of the best Cali Cabs I can remember in this price range. (92+ points)

2012 Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon Pleinair - California, Napa Valley
SRP: $50
Rich purple color. Dark and saucy on the nose, the blackberry and currant fruit is rich but suave, and I get complex elements of violets, sarsaparilla, birch bark and rocky soil. A whole lot to unwrap on the nose. Bold presence on the palate but also quite silky; the tannins are smooth and fine and the medium acid keeps it all moving forward. Fresh currant, black cherry and plum skin mixes with violets, loamy soil, fallen leaves, eucalyptus, cedar, hints of peppery spice. A lot going on here, but the wine stays open and inviting in spite of its richness and youthful complexity. I’d love to lay this down for five to eight years, but it’s a beauty. (92 points)