As I recall, I was going to pick up my wine club selections from the Fine Wine Source in Livonia and believe it or not, I got waylaid in a wine shop. Some times I can make stops anywhere longer if I get into a conversation about wines, or some of the other hobbies that I enjoy. After totally enjoying a glass of a Volnay Premier Cru Champans, I was kind of like putty in their hands or a fly in a web. I guess a great glass of wine will do that to me, but this was going to be an interesting respite from my other mundane duties that I was trying to accomplish that day.
I was escorted to the back of the shop where the wine tastings usually occur and I was poured some Chateau Lillian Ladouys Saint-Estephe 2011. I have not encountered many wines from the commune of Saint-Estephe in the Medoc, but every bottle that I have encountered, no matter the vintage was totally enjoyable and interesting and distinct from the two communes that I find much more often, that is Pauillac and Margaux. This winery was listed as a Cru Bourgeois Supereiur in 1932 and again in 2003, before this classification was annulled in 2007. Another one of those old Medoc estates that goes back to the middle of the 16’th Century and was originally known as LaDoys. The winery and its fame suffered during the two world wars and had some changes in ownership, and the last two owners were interested in returning the estate back to its glory. The winery is now owned by the same people that have Chateau Pedesclaux and Chateau D’Issan. There are fifty hectares planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine is aged for fifteen months in French Oak, of which thirty-five percent is always new. This wine had a great Medoc nose, a really chewy wine with terroir to spare and a very long aftertaste. After I finished this wine, the owner had me taste the wine a second time, after they attached an aerator spout to the Coravin system that they were using and the wine was even more memorable after this “decanting.” The one member of the staff that was doing the honors of pouring for me, was trying to sell me a Coravin and the owner of the shop was laughing and was joking with him, telling him that when I open a wine, it is not for tasting, but for drinking, so he negated the sales pitch for me.
Now after having two wonderful French wines under my belt, you can say they poured me an Italian wine. Almost from day one, when I started my tutelage of wines Italy was always right there, it also helped that back then it was much more affordable compared to the Medoc and that was important to a young student. The Poderi Aldo Conterno Langhe 2015 was a wonderful follow-up. Aldo Conterno was considered by many as the greatest of all Barolo makers, and he founded his own winery in 1969 after leaving as the manager of his brother’s estate. Since his relatively recent death, his three sons have taken over the reigns and they are the fifth generation of winemakers in the family. The Langhe DOC is very large and encompasses some famous other famous designations like Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti. The Langhe DOC was established in 1994 and allows for the experimentation by the winemakers to use different varietals, akin to what occurred in Tuscany and the “Super Tuscan” wines. This wine is a blend of Fresia, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. If you are like me, you may never have heard of Fresia, another reason that I may flunk the Century Club, but it is a long and respected, but seldom used, except for the most part in the Langhe. There are two almost twin versions of this grape, depending on the size of the fruit, and it is known for its big tannins and residual sugar content. It was more popular in the end of the 19’th Century and has bounced around a bit more, because it is naturally resistant to Phylloxera. In a land with very strict rules governing Barolo, Aldo Conterno was considered a “modernist” and I guess that covers even this wine as all I could find out was that this wine came from some of the different vineyards of his in the Bussia, then the wine spends “a few months in Stainless Steel and a few months in oak casks.” After a couple of wonderful French wines this Italian nose took me into another direction, and brought me another big chewy wine with plenty of terroir along with the tannin, and a very long count on the aftertaste. I was just a very happy camper with all of these wines just making my day so much better.