First Taste: Duval-Leroy & Giovanni Rosso
Barry Weinman: 27th March 2018
Depending on who you believe, there are somewhere between 6000 and 15,000 unique grape varieties grown globally. Of course, only a proportion of these are used for wine production, and even less are in common production.
In the seminal work Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, including their Origins and Flavours, Jancis Robinson et al gave detailed descriptions of 1368 varieties that are currently used in commercial production. It is safe to say that most of us have only tried a small fraction of the grapes regularly used in winemaking.
In their 2018 report, OIV estimated that there was 7.6 million hectares under vine, with Australia contributing 145 thousand hectares (2%).
So it is little wonder that almost weekly, I review wines from producers I have never heard of before, or grapes that I have little experience with.
This week, I was particularly taken with the wines of Giovanni Rosso, a long-term grower who started making wines in the 1990s. The family is proudly traditional in their approach to winemaking, seeking texture and savoury complexity over overt fruit/oak characters.
I was also very impressed with the Champagnes of Duval-Leroy. This is a family owned house based in Vertus, run by Carol Duval-Leroy since 1991. The family owns 200 hectares of vines (primarily Grand and Premier Cru) in Côtes des Blancs, which supplies 1/3 of their needs.
The Brut Reserve and Rosé are both fine wines, but the prestige Femme de Champagne was the highlight. The current release is an NV based on the 2004 vintage.
Duval-Leroy – Brut Reserve – Champagne – NV. (18.3/20pts – $90). There is more depth and power than I was expecting here. The palate is quite rich and textured, with good complexity and mouthfeel. Fresh enough to enjoy as an aperitif but has enough weight to accompany the start of a meal. Includes 40% reserve wines, 100% malolactic fermentation, 8g/l dosage.
Duval-Leroy – Brut – Femme de Champagne – Grand Cru – NV (18.6/20pts – $220). A most impressive wine. Very fine and subtle, this could almost be described as delicate. Yet this is supple, mouth filling and intense, with the power building on the finish. Refined acidity and near seamless palate transition to close. 87% Chardonnay. 10 years on lees. 5gm/l.
Giovanni Rosso – Barbera d’Alba – Donna Margherita – 2016 (17/20 – $50). Pretty and floral. Really quite perfumed. A food-focused wine, where the acid and structure take pride of place on the palate. Uncomplicated, and easy to drink.
Giovanni Rosso – Barolo – Del Comune Di Serralunga – 2015. (18/20pts – $110). The nose is fragrant and supple, with just a hint of spice adding depth. The palate is textured and firm, in a more traditional style, but the quality of fruit is palpable. Slightly grippy, drying tannins to close. Worthy of time in the cellar.
Giovanni Rosso – Barolo – Serra – 2015 (18.5/20 – $170). Similar profile to their standard Barolo, but with greater intensity and refinement. The palate is near seamless, with the texture building in layers. Very long, with intrinsic power, yet supple enough to be drunk now. Very impressive indeed. 30 days on skins, fermentation in large concrete vats, three years in older oak.