Taking a look at the Lauded 2004 Barolo Vintage … A Wicked Retrospective

23 Jul

2004 Barolo 10 years on Retrospective photo by Paul Kaan

Barolo has undergone a revolution of the last few decades. One that we’ve seen occur across many of the great wine regions of the world. Think Burgundy, Tuscany and even Australia. It’s a cycle where tradition gets overtaken by technology and often ends up with those craftsmen who tend vines and make wine finding a balance between the two employing more restraint to let fruit shine and using artefacts like oak only to layer in complexity not dominate a wine.

Clearly there’s personal preference and market driven style decision to consider. Some people like a balls and all red loaded with tree branches. Personally I’ll stick to the former, the zone where wines of intrigue and personality rest!

Anthony D’Anna’s 2004 Barolo Retrospective demonstrated this perfectly with wines from both sides of the coin.

Beyond that it gave us a chance to see how the vintage was holding up. The consensus, blood well, with some ones entering the drinking window and others still a few years away. The more I drink Barolo the more I tend to think waiting 10 years is a minimum and drinking good ones between 15-20 years of age is a good rule of thumb. Scroll on to ready the wine list and reviews.

2004 Barolo 10 years on Retrospective photo by Paul Kaan

2004: CREAM RISES TO THE TOP – Notes below by Antonio GalloniThe

2004 Growing Season and Wines

One of the key attributes of 2004 is that both quality and yields are high, two characteristics that don’t always go hand in hand. After the torrid 2003, during which the vines ceased vegetative development in order to conserve energy, the more temperate conditions of 2004 led plants to unleash all of their stored energy, which in turn produced a large crop. Diligent growers reported making several passes in the vineyard in an attempt to restrict yields, but there is only a certain amount man can impose on nature. A few wines have put on additional weight in bottle, but those are largely Barolos that already hinted at considerable volume when they were younger. I was also deeply impressed with a handful of entry-level Barolos from top growers that showed far better than I would have ever expected. So much of the wine world revolves around the importance of vintages, yet I continue to believe consumers are often best served by focusing on producer first.

What Am I Looking For at Ten Years?

All things considered, though, the 2004s have aged spectacularly well. At the ten-year mark, I am looking closely at how wines are developing, specifically if the elements in a wine are aging at the same pace, which I consider absolutely essential. In other words, are the aromatics, fruit and overall structural profile in-line, or not? This is the eighth comprehensive Barolo retrospective I have done. Of the four vintages I have covered at the ten year mark, 2004 clearly surpasses 2000, 2001 and 2003 in both overall quality and consistency. That applies to 1999 as well, although I tasted those wines at ages seven and fourteen. The pure thrill in revisiting these wines is only equaled by the same level of excitement I felt when tasting through the 1989s and 1990s a few years back. In present day terms, 2004 is similar to 2008 in style, as the wines are perfumed and graceful, and also (with a few exceptions) much less imposing in tannin than either 2006 or 2010, the two powerhouse vintages of the decade. I expect the 2004s will age beautifully for years to come. In general, the wines will open up at a younger age than the 2006s and 2010s and are likely to fade a bit earlier too, although that is of course in relative terms, as Barolo is a long-term ager compared to most of the world’s red wines.

2004 Barolo Festa – The Good!

Make sure you turn up the volume … the tunes are a part of the wine review!

A video posted by Paul Kaan (@paolovino) on

Cavallotto Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe – Stunning perfume sappy herbs great mid palate. Stunning balance. Needs time to open. Closed nose. Core of fruit on palate. Big front mid palate oak.

Bartolo Mascarello*Wine of the Night* Made from fruit from Cannubi, San Lorenzo, Rué & Rocche. Beautiful secondary development, oppulence, great tannin balance, even long, incredibly rich, poised violets, yumminess. Stunnning. Second time I’ve had this in the last 12 months. Both bottles were superb!

Capellano – Closed looking an edge reduced and meaty. Good length most developed feeling a little hot. Opened and blossomed in the glass.

Massolino Barolo – VA lift. Lots of Secondaries. Tight angular hot alcohol. Beautiful core of fresh fruit.

Massolino Dieci Anni Vigna Rionda Riserva – Jumping out of the glass, vibrant fruit, secondary development. Beautifully layered. Great length of fruit wee hump of tannin mid palate. Lovely acid. Held back by the winery for 10 years before release.

2004 Barolo Festa – The Ugly! OTT Oakey Ones!

Make sure you turn up the volume … the tunes are a part of the wine review!

A video posted by Paul Kaan (@paolovino) on

2004 Baroli Festa! The UGLY! All of these wines tended toward the OTT modernist style with lashings of coarse oak masking what was often an incredible core of delicious fruit. Creating unnecessary angularity and harshness! Great learnings to see them side by side with a number of other wines that got it right.

Poderi Luigi Einaudi Cannubi – Resinous sappy pulling a little short. Again developing well. Sappiness comes through on the palate. Front palate new oak dissruptive.

Elio Grasso Runcot Riserva – Stunning perfume & lift layered with fresh fruit & flowers, unfortunately masked by coarse oak. Searing acidity, edgy mid palate tannin that’s a little too hard. Asking for a little fatty food to enhance it. Heap of oak. Tough wine. Why did they throw this many trees at it! It could have been superb had a little restraint been shown!

Sandrone Le Vigne – Cooked over ripe jammy. Hard oak tannin coarse. Unyielding. Barossa of Barolo. Tough wine.

Azelia San Rocco & Bricco Fiasco – were just that! Oaky sappy hot alcoholic. Unexpressive. OTT WTF? Potential tainted.

Rocche Castamagna, Rocche dell’Annunziata – Boring, cooked out of balance.

Clerico Pajana WTF pushing the boundaries. OTT too much oak.

A bit of Rhône on the bench over the last week!

19 Jul

Chateau Pegau & Mont Redon Chateau Neuf du Papes 2012 by Paul Kaan

Two whites to kick off…

2013 Guigal Côtes du Rhône – Viognier, Roussane, Marsanne blend. Fun every day drinker with plenty of personality. Bargain for under $20 a tube.

2013 La Font du Vent Côtes du Rhône Viognier. Some succulent acid & spice with an edge of that oily texture typical of Viognier and resting beautifully in this wine. Lots of intrigue. Again great value at less than $20 a tube.

Overall lots of yumminess and plenty of bang for your buck!

Next up 3 x sub $20 Côte du Rhône Reds!

2011 Guigal Blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Grenache & 5% Mouvèrdre. Year in year out this is a great value wine, particularly given the volume they make. Insane that they manage to age it for 18 months in foundres (massive old oak barrels) and have an average vine age of 35years!

Mont-Redon 2012 Grenache, Syrah fun booze intriguing, layered, yummy!

Château Pégau 2012 Grenache, Syrah, Mouvèrdre Stepped it up with greater depth & a real lift. Bags of personality and a refined texture! Wine of the bracket.

Overall great value, complexity, yumminess. Get one of each and go back for the one you like.

Last up 2 x 2012 Châteauneuf du Papes!

Mont-Redon Little hit of new oak. Almost only density. Solid booze. Needs some time to settle into it’s skin and reveal full potential $65.

Pégau had an edge of the pox (brettanomyces, a spoilage yeast) it was at a level that you could say added to complexity. The challenge being that it could dominate more over time. Some great fruit and texture behind it. $120.

Keep on the Rhône theme with a Rhône inspired red.

Yarra Yering Dry Red No2 a Shiraz Viognier Marsanne plus secret ingredients blend. A cheeky Dolcetto on the side.

YY Beautiful core of juicy fruit. A rawness that comes from not getting enough air time during oak ageing. May have been a result of the first time the winery has bottled under screw cap.

Benevelli Dolcetto an animal, well developed, a bit of animal. Serious structure that just asks for a bit of cow on your plate! Bargain at $25.

Making Wine is Just Like Raising Kids … You Gotta Put in the Time!

13 Jul

Racking the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernert 2015 by Paul Kaan

“Bon élévage”

The French use this term with reference to both wine and children! It translates to “A good upbringing” or “Being well raised”.

For kids this covers life before adult hood begins. For wine the period of time following the initial alcoholic fermentation right up until the point of bottling.

Every week I taste the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernet, just like every day I read my daughter, Genevieve, stories. I listen to the wine to see if it needs something from me. Sure I’ll look to see if there are problems, has it contracted Wine Flu AKA Brettanomyces or did the Flu Shot I gave it early in life help. Is it reduced, smelling of rotten egg gas? Is it oxidised, needing a sulphur addition?

More importantly I focus on the little things that I can do to help it grow up into a well rounded kid. After the last taste, I thought:

It needs to get out! It needed a little oxygen!

Why? To help the aromas and flavours develop, shift them away from primary fruity characters to more intriguing complex characters and allow the tannins to see a little air soften and lengthen.

So, it’s racking time …

Doing QC before racking the #FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Cabernet!

You can see a layer of pink lease at the bottom of the glass container at front.

Racking will take the clear wine from the top and we’ll get rid of tge sediment. It will introduce oxygen to help the wine develop & blend the new oak, old oak & glass stored components together.

If you’re interested in being a part of the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project let me know. We’ll be locking in fruit for next year shortly.

Here’s the lees from racking a glass storage vessel.

It’s mostly dead yeast & bacteria coloured by the wine. Depending on what wine you’re making you can choose to keep the lees with the wine to get flavour and texture fromthe autolysis, break down of the cells. Lees is “reductive” it chews up oxygen too and can help keep the wine fresh. One the best examples of the potential impact of lees is in the production of Champagne. After the second fermentation in bottle the wine is left in contact with the yeast lees. Over time as they break down the impart patisserie characteristics & a creamy mouthfeel. Same principles apply to white wines in barrel.

The #FilthyGoodVino Bathtub Cabernet is looking good and I perceive that it won’t benefit from further lees contact. Admittedly the wine has already been racked so most of the lees have already been removed.

Interestingly Gaia Gaja mentioned that they keep their lees and use them to top their barrels.

Syphoning off lees from our Demijon – Clear hose makes it easy to see if you’re sucking up the lees!

Racking the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernert 2015 by Paul Kaan

Squishing Time! Firing Up the Basket Press for the FGV Bathtub Cabernet

3 May

The Press Cake from the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project Makes a Great Birthday Cake by Paul Kaan

The first and only press for Vintage 2015 is done and dusted! The Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Cabernet was squished a few weeks ago, after 24 days on skins. The perfume and earthiness I was looking for have arrived. The texture has lengthened, developed beautifully and is looking good.

It’s been 10 years between Vintages. Winemaking again has brought delight and pleasure, not just for me, for everyone involved in the project. The garage has been lit up with smiles, laughter, shared magnums of Filth, just a whole lot of fun!

By the time this post is published the wine will be resting safely in barrel, to begin it’s long journey to the bottle.

The Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project will return in 2016!

We’ve had so much fun playing with grapes and friends that we could resist doing it all again. If you’re interested in joining us, hit me up via the Contact Page and I’ll get in touch when we start preparing for more action in the garage!

Check out the smiles, laughs and all the action from our day pressing! Read on to find out more about pressing.

Pressing is another chance to guide a wine.

How fast do you press?

How much pressure to you apply?

What machine do you use?

All of these factors can impact the extraction of particularly tannins from the skins and dramatically impact the texture of the final wine. Press too fast, too hard and you risk extracting bitter, hard tannins.

Taste is critical!

Wines separated into two basic components:

Free Run: The liquid you can drain out of the vat full of skins and seeds without doing any squashing.

Pressings: The liquid extracted by applying pressure to the grape skins using a press. Sometimes these are separated further into first and second pressings.

Throughout the pressing process we constantly taste the wine coming from the press. In the Yarra Valley the tannins tend to be pretty supple, particularly using a basket press. In general the pressings are mixed straight back into the free run. Ours went straight back in adding to the structure and texture of the wine & it’s overall yumminess!

In some regions tannins from pressings can be hard, sappy and bitter and need to be kept separate from the free run. Think McLaren Vale.

Vintage Lunch Went Back to Basics!

Fuel for the pressing of the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Cabernet. 
Fish, chips, a dimmi & bottle of Chardonnay. Good Friday lunch break.

Fish, Chips, a dimmi and a bottle of Yarra Yering Chardonnay for Vintage 2015 Pressing Day

Another Ghetto Winemaking solution! Cable ties & duct tape are a winemaker’s best friends!

When G heard us saying the Cake looked amazing she assumed we meant birthday cake, not, cake from pressing the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Projects Cabernet. So we put a candle in it & sang happy birthday …. 4 times!

The Press Cake from the Filthy Good Vino Bathtub Winemaking Project Makes a Great Birthday Cake by Paul Kaan

Wanna know how to save a 49 year old wine … READ THIS!

24 Apr

Wanna know how to save a 49 year old wine ... READ THIS! by Paul Kaan

At 49 years old this baby, 1966 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Claret, was looking tired! So I decanted it onto 30ppm of Sulphur & left it 2 days. Result was impressive!

1966 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Claret

The samples I tried on the day, both sulphured & un-sulphured were dramatically different. The unsulphured sample was hard with an aldehyde finish. The sulphured sample fresher, but, closed. Aldehyde had been mopped up by the sulphur.

2 days later the sulphured sample has freshened and opened up beautifully. For around $20 you can get the equipment & sulphur needed to treat more tired old bottles than you’ll drink in a life time. If you have a lot of old wine in the cellar & want to know how to do, this hit me up via the Contact Page or leave your email address in a comment below.