Grappa Week – Day 4: Villa Isa Grappa Moscato (42%, Roberto Dellavalle, 700 ml)

Grappa Week LogoNext up another Grappa by Roberto Dellavalle, but this one is from his Villa Isa range of Grappa’s. The range consists of single-vine varieties from the Piedmont, obtained through the distillation of fresh Marcs. This Moscato is an oak aged version but there is also a clear version that wasn’t aged in oak. Barbera and Nebbiolo da Barolo also exist in an 18 month oak aged version within the Villa Isa range.

Villa Isa Grappa MoscatoMoscato is a sweet grape with a very recognizable aroma, both in smell and taste. It is one of the oldest and widely planted white grape varieties in Italy. A well-known Wine made with this grape variety for instance is Moscato d’Asti. Lots of variants of this grape are planted all over the world. Unlike many grape varieties used for Wines, the Moscato grape variety is very nice to eat too.

Color: Light gold

Nose: Toned down hay note, fatty grass and candy and Moscato sweetness and above all, Moscato aroma’s abundant. Old wooden storage house. Very likeable. Nice elegant and fruity nose with typical muscat grapes and peach. Very likeable indeed. Small hints of lavas, flowers and a tiny backbone of oak.

Taste: Fruity sweet with toffee, but also a little winey. Muscat or Gewürztraminer. Definitely not sweetened with heaps of sugar, although a little bit has probably been added. Here the Grappa is aided with a grape variety that by itself is sweet and this kind of sweetness comes across as more integrated and less sugary sweet which overpowers everything. Not very deep or complex, but very nice and easily drinkable.

If you want to introduce people to Grappa, don’t choose a Grappa that has been extra sweetened with (heaps) of sugar, although I do understand that information is hard to come by. Let them try a Grappa di Moscato. The first two Grappa’s I reviewed earlier in this Grappa Week were lesser known brands, and hardly any information can be found on the internet at all. Maybe only on Italian websites? Roberto Dellavalle though, is no stranger to the internet.

Points: 73

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Reisetbauer 12yo (48%, OB, Limited Edition)

Time to take a small trip and have a look around some European distilleries producing Single Malt Whisky. We’ll start our mini trip in Austria to have a look at Hans Reisetbauers flagship Whisky, the 12yo. Earlier I already reviewed the 1998 Reisetbauer 7yo. Hans matures his Whisky in casks that once held Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese, one, a dry and the second a sweet White Wine. Hans doesn’t import barley, but grows four hectares of summer brewing barley himself.

“The barley was crushed and malted at 65° C before being cooled and fermented in stainless-steel tanks for around 70 hours. The fermented mash is then twice distilled in copper pot stills. At this pointed the distillate, which has an alcohol content of around 70 per cent, is aged until fully mature in four casks that the top Austrian wine makers Alois Kracher and Heinz Velich previously used for aging Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese.”

Reisetbauer 12yoColor: Slightly copper gold.

Nose: Plastics and fruit. Orchard fruits. Hints of pear, apples. Ear wax. Extremely duty underneath and for a while the plastics dominate the nose. Some of the plastics are slightly burnt. The plastic note is very close to the waxy aroma, which probably comes from the wine casks used. Given some time to breathe, aroma’s of Grappa emerge. If I would venture a guess (and I can be completely wrong here), I would say the grappa note comes from the Chardonnay casks, and the waxy/plastics come from Trockenbeerenauslese (a sweet White Wine). Next up the woody notes, which are quite soft and slightly spicy. Mocha and Latte. The plastics give way, but the Grappa remains. Very interesting distillate. Nosed blind I wouldn’t have guessed this is a Whisky.

Taste: Plastics again and lots of wax. Polyester!That’s it! Have you ever repaired a polyester boat? WYSIWYG (What You Smell Is What You Get). The Polyester is there immediately, but luckily dissipates quite quickly, to give way to wax wood and a winey note. Coffee in the aftertaste. “Do-a-burp™” after drinking this and it’s all plastics again.

Just reading my note about the nose alone, its pretty obvious this is not a Scottish Malt, and reading it all it hardly seems to be a Whisky at all! In case of the 7yo Reisetbauer I reviewed earlier, I found that it already was dominated by the cask used. The 12yo we have at hand is so dominated by the casks, that it is difficult, if not impossible to detect that this is a Whisky at all! This is a Wine (and polyester) finished Single Malt Grappa. If you want a Whisky, you’re better off with the 7yo. Nevertheless, this distillate has a lot of good sides to it too, so maybe it is unfair to hammer it with its off-notes.

Points: 73

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)

Although maybe 90% of my reviews are about Whisky, essentially this is a drinks blog. I do prefer Whisky, but not all the time. There is more great stuff around, and mine is a constant journey in finding the best quality stuff to have around and enjoying my life with. I was on quite a roll of mostly nice Whiskies lately, but today I had a real craving for one step beyond the usual realm of Single Malt Whisky. Two days ago we had some guests over for an evening of Wines and Cheese, but already then I had an intermezzo of three Grappa’s. Today I’m getting off the road usually chosen and take a detour with a Rum. Long time since I reviewed Rum, which is also a fantastic and global distillate. This three stars Rum, blended by Cognac Ferrand, is made with Rums from three distinct places. Jamaica (partly an unaged Rum and a small portion of 12yo Rum), Barbados (unaged Rum) and Trinidad (a filtered 3yo Rum). So quite the blend. This may prove to be one of the best White rums around, at least on paper…

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)Color: Colorless, ever so slightly green.

Nose: A bit alcoholic and vegetal. Very green, with unripe banana, and ripe tangerine skin. It also shows a lot of potential. Initial smell is very appetizing. For a white rum it smells like something to sip and not let go to “waste” in a coke or cocktail. Mind you, I do enjoy them very much, and this Rum is designed for usage in cocktails. Tea and lots of spices and a tiny hint of wood. Sprite or 7-up, so citrus and brown sugar and cane juice, but in a very appealing way. Nosing it more deeply, even some cola seems to have found its way into the blend. Tiny hints of wood related mint. Wonderful stuff.

Taste: Sweet, green tea with too much sugar in it. Citrus again. Lemon and lime with refined sugar. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the rum too sweet. Very smooth and seems a lot lower in ABV than it actually is. Definitely good enough to sip, although it is obvious from the start this was meant to be used in another way. Very young and light, and without a real finish.

Nope, I wouldn’t sip this. It’s good, but there are so many golden and brown Rums around, that are way better and much more complex to sip than this three stars Rum. And that’s no shame. This was never meant to be sipped on the beach or around a fire-place. It was meant for cocktails and give you the chance to make the best cocktail you can make with this. Well made stuff and tasty too.

Points: 73

Spey Tenné (46%, OB, Selected Edition, Tawny Port Cask Finish, 18.000 bottles)

The Speyside distillery was officially founded in 1976 by George Christie. Distillation was in George’s blood since he used to be a… submarine captain, who probably missed the sound of trickling liquids. Building of the distillery commenced already in 1962 and was finished in 1987. Lots of the building was done by George himself, so it took him a while. We have to wait a further three years for the first distillation. (December 1990), The spirit has to age for at least three years to be called a Whisky, so in 1993 the first Whisky was released under the name “Drumguish”, from the name of the place the distillery was built. In 1999 the first Single Malt was released under the “Speyside” name, an 8yo. In 2012 the distillery which already changed hands a few times was sold to one of its clients. Harvey’s of Edinburgh. Harvey’s again changed the name of their Single Malt, calling it simply “Spey”. In 2014 the new range was released, starting with this Tenné, but also a 12yo and a 18yo were released.

Spey TennéColor: Salmon, like a modern rosé wine from the south of France.

Nose: Extremely malty. It’s like holding the grain in your hand. This smell makes up most of the beginning of the nose. Given some time the Port starts to “work”. Initially a more glue like sensation which turns into an overly fruity and acidic distilled Port that is used to fortify Port. With even some more breathing, a hint of sweetness and wine gums come to the fore, combined with some rural or farmy notes. After that it tones down and gets more powdery with even a tiny hint of gunpowder. Stale beer in the finish but also some vanilla. Wine finishes can be pretty funky.

Taste: Pretty sweet, bitter oak and again malty. It comes in layers and in that particular order. First a very friendly sweet candy like aroma, when that moves over, the roof of your mouth gets a bitter sap attack which evolves into a slightly toasted and oaky taste, mixed with sandalwood, (the Port probably did that), and licorice. Intertwined is the taste of malts. On top, a slightly acidic and fruity note, but that’s it actually, not a lot more is happening. The ABV of 46% gives it some strength and some hotness for the finish.

This expression is said to be a minimum of 8 years old. It is an extremely malty and pretty simple Whisky. For me, the Port finish didn’t bring a lot of complexity to the mix. Just giving it a shift in profile. Malty and simple, not bad, but also nothing to get overly exited about. Anonymous at best, except for the bottle itself. Looks very luxurious with its beautiful tartan ribbon.

Having said all that, it’s a lovely distillery and I hope they will get better with every release.

Points: 73

Santa Cristina Cipresseto 2007 Rosato Toscana

Summer has arrived here finally and lasts for almost two weeks now.  That is a first! Probably a record has been broken for the last 5 years, since summers lately were less interesting than spring. That gives me lots of chances to try some summery wines in their natural habitat, meaning outside in the garden to be drunk in nice weather. Well I won’t let the sun cloud my palate, so I’ll stay critical. This is already the second wine of Santa Cristina to grace these pages. Earlier I reviewed the Santa Cristina Toscana IGT 2009.

Santa Cristina Cipresseto 2007 Rosato ToscanaColor: Beautiful red salmon.

Nose: Grounded coffee, dust and wet earth. It has a nice depth to it. Next up is the fruit. Some sweet apple juice. Classy stuff. Some floral hints. Meaty, not sweet and not acidic. Well balanced nose, that has a lot to offer.

Taste: Licorice, and a very thin acidity. Some bitterness and some wood. Taken in big gulps, a little bit of meaty body and a hint sweetness come through. The body is even less interesting than the finish, but still as nice as the nose was, the palate is rather disappointing. Totally unbalanced and a bit weak. Tastes a bit as a watered down red wine…

The landscape of Tuscany is utterly stunning, and the nose of this Rosato promises a lot. I’m almost in tears that the palate is…rather weak. It’s almost a dream gone bad! Having said that, the wine is not thát bad. It just could have been better. I have another bottle of this (from the same year). If that one turns out to be different from this one, I’ll rewrite this review. For the moment this one stands. In defence of this Rosato I have to say I probably let this lie around the cellar for to long, but I can’t image that’s it.

Points: 73

Juan López Selection No. 1

Yeah!, I got a bonus day! Somehow the weather gods decided that we have here, deep in autumn, one nice day. Nice temperatures and sometimes some sunshine. And dry! Why not try, what will probably be, the last cigar of the year.

Juan López was founded in 1876 by Juan López Diaz, today a local brand with a minor market share. The cigars are considered to be medium to strong. Today there are only three standard cigars in production. A Petit Corona, and Selection No. 1 (a Grand Corona) and No.2 (a Robusto). As far as I know, there never was an Edición Limitada, but there have been 11 (eleven) Edición Regionales, almost three every year. Here we’ll have a look at the Selection No. 1. First release of this Grand Corona, was in 1990. The band was placed on the cigar since 2005. I believe the one I’m smoking, has aged for about 4 years.

Juan López Selection No. 1 (46 x 143 mm, Corona Gorda, Grand Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado. Bulgy. Wrapper looks OK, but through it you can see that the binder has a large vein. Let’s hope this doesn’t disturb the draw. Tightly packed. So it looks somewhat smooth, yet it’s nicely cut without any frails.

A cru: Lots of aroma to boot. Fresh, almost a kind of lemon juice freshness. Old books and leather. Milk chocolate mousse. Gentile. After the cut the smell stays the same. And it really looks tightly packed.

Taste: Surprisingly good burn. Taste is quite woody, and a little bit sharp and dry. Right from the start a lot of smoke. Woody and a bit sour. When taken with coffee it enhances the acidity of both. Water suits the cigar better, but it really needs a Cognac or a Whisky.  The wrapper has a nice white ash, but the binder and the filler are really dark. Mostly black with a little gray in it.

It’s really not the taste bomb I expected, and it is medium to strong. The second-hand smoke is really beautiful. After 3 centimetres the taste mellows out a bit and the second-hand smoke becomes even better. At last its warming up a bit. It’s a little creamier now. The white ash from the wrapper looks stunning. Not a lot of development and the taste is half strong. During the half way point the smoke got less thick, but picks up again quickly. Draw was good throughout the whole cigar.

The finish comes quickly. When It turned ‘bad’ I still had a considerable amount of cigar left.

Buy this cigar for a friend and go and sit beside him/her to really enjoy the cigar, since I thought it to be better from the second-hand smoke than to smoke it yourself. The cigar doesn’t develop at all and stays the whole time on dry wood. I think this will do great when accompanied by Cognac or a whisky.

Points: 73