Wednesday Wines – Episode 85 – Five new Frescobaldi Chiantis & Nicolas-Jay’s epic 2019 releases

Episode 85 – 10th November 2021

Five Beautiful Chiantis from Frescobaldi & Nicolas-Jay’s epic new 2019 releases

Five fantastic Frescobaldi Chiantis  

I have never really been fully sold on the Chiantis from Frescobaldi, but every wine was a winner when I opened this quintet the other day.  Perfect fruit purity, accuracy, and great value have changed my mind, and I love it when one wine does this, let alone five in a row.

2018 Chianti Classico, Tenuta Perano, Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy £22.38,; £23.05,; £20.80,; £23.12,

Super-smooth and with superb depth and more richness than you would expect at this price level, this is a delicious wine, and there is a fair slice of complexity here, too.  While it is drinking now there is certainly enough latent power here to age well for a good few years.  Consider me suitably impressed.  17.5+/20

2016 Chianti Classico Riserva, Tenuta Perano, Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy £33.59,; £32.22,; £29.80,; £33.83,

With a little more age and some added classiness and length, this is a superb wine with genuine distinction and depth.  Again, decent tension marks this as a wine that you can drink now with a hearty main course or leave it in the cellar for a good few years.  18+/20

2016 Chianti Classico, Gran Selezione, Tenuta Perano, Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy £47.83,; £45.12,

OK, so this is ten pounds more expensive than the Riserva, and so is this a wine worth trading up for given that its stablemate is spot on?  I really respect this wine because it is not bigger or oakier but more refined, more layered, and more composed than the Riserva.  This results in a highly sophisticated wine with amazing control and a beautiful finish.  18.5+/20

2018 Chianti Rúfina Riserva, Castello Nipozzano, Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy £17.00, Morrisons

The two Nipozzano wines are wonderfully accurate, parading the minerality and crispness of tannins associated with this region’s finest wines.  With superb power beneath the bonnet, a lovely, raw grip of tannins and some coolness balanced by classy fruit notes, this is a lovely and eminently affordable Rufina, and you can find it on the High Street, too.  17/20

2018 Chianti Rúfina Riserva, Vecchie Viti, Castello Nipozzano, Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Italy £20.80,; £27.00,; £24.36,

In terms of value for money, it is hard to see past this Old Vine Riserva with its alluring fruit sweetness and strident red cherry theme.  There is a lovely weightless feel here, and yet the intensity, spice and length are all surprising.  18/20


2019 Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Releases


It was great to see Jean-Nicolas Méo-Camuzet and Jay Boberg in London last week, and they took me through their wines ahead of the launch this week.  Berry Bros. & Rudd is releasing the 2019 wines via an allocated In Bond launch offer, and then they will be released for general sale to customers at the retail prices below on or before 10th December.

Please search for Wednesday Wines Episode 51, from 17th March 2021, for notes on the 2018s and some background on this superb Domaine.

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Affinités Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA £52.00,

Affinités is made from several small Chardonnay parcels taken from Willamette combined with fruit from Bishop Creek.  Only 359 cases were made in 2019, and while volumes are set to grow, and there is a chance that around 800 cases might be produced in 2021 when they bring two older vineyards into the mix, this will always be an extremely rare wine and one which is likely to remain on allocation.  If you are keen to secure stock, you must hurry.  Having said this, I could write this sentence for every wine in this review!  2019 Affinités Chardonnay is a more sensual wine than I expected, and it has finely-judged control and pristine acidity.  Beautiful, silky, balanced and forward, it is great that we have this wine in the UK because it will put the brakes on those people who are tempted to open a Bishop Creek Chardonnay too young.  It also performs like a stunning support act for Bishop Creek as there is enough of this vineyard in the core of Affinités to make it a genuinely authentic chip off the old block. 18/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Bishop Creek Chardonnay, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon, USA £102.00

While 2018 was a dry and warm vintage, 2019 was quite the reverse, with cooler and also wetter conditions.  This means that 2018 and 2019 Bishop Creek Chardonnays are polar opposites in terms of shape and size but they are almost identical in NDA and flavour triggers and this speaks volumes about the quality and integrity of this superb site.  With all of the hallmarks of a cooler vintage this wine has thrilling weightlessness and heroic length underpinned by crystalline acidity and this adds up to an ultra-refined creation with magical balance.  It will certainly need a few years to relax and mellow and when it does this will be a memorable vintage for this magnificent wine.  19+/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, L’Ensemble Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA £78.00,

2019 l’Ensemble is another tour de force from NJ and, in common with the 2018 (which you can read about in Episode 51), it is a cuvée made up of the best vineyards and their best barrels. In fact, 65% of L’Ensemble is taken from the Bishop Creek, Momtazi and Nysa Vineyards, which are all made as single-site wines (see below).  I am extremely taken with this vintage because the fruit is at once silky and alluring, and then the heartbeat of the wine, coming from the three tonally different but amazingly harmonious vineyards, underpins the succulence giving it drive, depth and determination. Floral on the nose, silky on the mid-palate and grand on the finish, much of the gravitas here is weighted towards the rear of the experience, indicating spectacularly well-drilled tannins resulting from the incredible quality of the Pinot skins.  18.5+/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Own-Rooted Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA £93.00,

Own-Rooted production is only a couple of hundred cases, and this is because finding Pinot vines on their own roots is needle in a haystack stuff.  There are fewer than 100 acres in Oregon alone, and there is nothing like this in Burgundy.  There is a darkness and coolness to this wine which, whether this is true or not, seems more elemental and soil-soaked than any of the other cuvées.  These 2019s are all a couple of notches less alcoholic than the 2018s, and this further enhances the depth and darkness at the centre of this particular wine.  Dryer, firmer, raspier and thought-provoking, this wine is drawn from relatively old vines, and while, on the face of it, it is certainly the least flamboyant of the collection, it is also the most intriguing.  18+/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Momtazi Pinot Noir, McMinnville, Oregon, USA £102.00,

Rich, dark and brooding, with profound depth and weight, there is a coolness and calmness to this wine which is completely captivating, and it almost possesses Vosne-like traits from its colour to its depth of black cherry fruit.  The silkiness is superb, and there is exoticism here in rose petal notes that add fleeting moments of glamour.  Biodynamically farmed, this site is almost always the last to be picked because of its cooler setting.  The cold air rushed up from the coast, augmenting the terrific quality of the fruit while adding tension and drama to the tannins.  18.5+/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Nysa Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon, USA £102.00,

In the Dundee Hills, Nysa is an early ripening, warmer site, and this is evident in the open, cherry-soaked nose and the slightly paler hue.  While this is very much a red and not a black style of Pinot, there is significant acidity here which snaps shut on the finish making this a Ninjalike creature that lures you in and reacts with lightning speed just when you allow yourself to relax.  It will develop beautifully if you have the patience reflecting a tender but opinionated side to the magnificent Pinot Noir grape.  18.5+/20

2019 Nicolas-Jay, Bishop Creek Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon, USA £102.00,

I am finishing with my favourite of the single-site wines, and this is certainly the most commanding and upright of the collection.  Profound, complex and structured, this is a seriously impressive wine with a deep core of imposing black fruit and a more obviously firm and closed finish.  There is so much to discover here, given time, and the class in this cuvée in 2019 is undisputed.  19+/20