Christmas at Alko: Villa Antinori 2008 by Antinori (Italia, Toscana)

Another wine featured by Alko for the Christmas celebrations is Antinori, Villa Antinori 2008. This is a pretty famous wine from Toscana (Tuscany). It is sold as IGT as there is many grapes blended with the traditional Sangiovese. We find here Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Quite a mix! One last fact is the good-very good quality of the 2008 vintage in the region, a vintage which is also very palatable right now (maybe not the one to keep ten years!).

The wine is dark ruby. The nose is intense on the fruit flavours, black berries, black cherries… The mouthfeel is smooth though powerful, displaying again intense aromas of ripe fruits. There is also a hint of oakiness. The overall balance is good and the finish is pretty long and pleasant. This is a very nice but very untypical wine. This profile could have been achieved in many places and it does not reflects its origins, which is a bit sad. It requires an opening in advance. 2 to 4 hours with one glass removed.

However, as pleasant as it is, this is not something I would recommend warmly with Christmas food. The wine is too powerful and too much on the fruit side when Christmas food requires spiciness and acidity. It will not be awful but it will neither be the pairing of the year. One positive aspect though is that it is sold in half-bottles too at Alko.

Wineops’ rating: 78/100 ; 0 0

A very drinkable and pleasant wine. Totally internationalised (not tasting Italian at all). To be paired with red meat served rare/medium rare like reindeer or beef. 

Link to Alko: here

Christmas at ALKO: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009 by Domaine du Vieux Lazaret (France, Rhône)

Well, to be honest, seeing a Châteauneuf-du-Pape at 25,90 in Alko… I had serious doubt. Price is not an absolute or objective value. Price depends not only on the quality but also on the fame. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the oldest and most famous appellation of France. And its wines are among the very best. Therefore, it is hard to find a good Châteauneuf in France below 30€. True, there are exceptions like Domaine Charvin, but this is not so common. Besides, in Finland, you must take into account the importation costs and the taxes… this explains why I would expect a good Châteauneuf to be around 35-45€ at Alko. Beaucastel being around 69€ (55€ in France).

This being said, it could have been one of these exceptions. But it was not really.

Surprisingly for this very ripe vintage, the color is not very deep. Ruby red with purple reflexions. The nose displays fruits and alcohol. This impression fades gradually to express only (but slightly less intense) black ripe fruit. The mouth is on the same side, with a jammy note and a bit of camphor aromas. Alcohol levels remain very noticeable and there is a little sweetness remaining in the palate. It is quite visible that the wine needs breathing as it gets better over night, at least 3-4 hours in a decanter (if you don’t have a decanter, open 24h before), but it remains somewhat unbalanced. It brings back to my mind some standard cuvées of Vaqueyras, which are in general much cheaper.

This is not a wine that I would warmly recommend. If you are not in a hurry, try to order at your local shop : there is much more to enjoy with Château La Nerthe 2006 (available in « tilattavat »  page of the internet site).

Wineops’ rating: 70/100 ; 5 +

Link to Alko: here

ALKO: Reina Ma Christina 2008 by Codorniu (Spain, Cataluña)

Reina Maria Christina 2008 by Cordoniu is what we call a « blanc de noir ». This is quite specific to Champagne and Cava, sparkling wines in general (though you can find it very rarely on still wine bottles). It means that the wine is made out of black grape (typically Pinot Noir) event if it is a white wine. This is achieved through a very gentle pressing and no maceration (no color extraction). It usually results in a more powerful taste and a wine with more body. That kind of sparking is usually recommended  to be tasted with meals, not as aperitif.

I must say that aside from the very nice bottle, this wine was a disappointment. The dosage is very strong, so the wine bears a clear soft finish, which makes it quite boring to taste. The aromas are not developed and do not seem to be able to develop a lot. In other word, this is a wine I would not recommend, especially at this price point.

Wineops’ rating: 63/100 ; 0 0

Link to Alko : HERE

ALKO: Some wines are just not worth it.

After a long silence due to a wonderful wine trip in Mosel, I come back with a brand new article. Today we will speak of some wines that are not worth trying on Alko’s selection. It is a short list of the most recent disappointments.


Nieto Don Nicanor Bonarda 2010 : (12€) One big deception on this bottle. For a Bonarda (a basic grape to produce wine) this is expensive and the wine doesn’t deliver. It is overwhelmingly oaky, far too ripe and not technically clean. Avoid.


Hardys Stamp of Australia : (8,5€) This could be said of most of the wine in this price range which I rarely taste. Jammy, dissociated… pointless.


Emiliana Adobe Syrah Grenache Mourvèdre 2011 : (10€) Emiliana does usually a pretty good work on wines. This wine has almost nothing to say. Not interesting.

Indomita Carignan Gran Reserva 2010 : (10€) Well, first it is not a Carignan, it is a blend of Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 15%, the extreme limit when you can still call it by its the main grape name). It is far too high in alcohol and dominated by oak. Very unpleasant to drink. Not recommended.

Tabali Salala Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 : (20€) Not an ugly wine but it does not deliver. Far less interesting than a Las Brisas which cost 14€. This is the perfect example that warmer is not better. The wine does not display any signs of being a Pinot Noir, it is completely cooked by the sun. Alcohol is dominant. Not interesting.

Cartagena Tres Viñedos Pinot Noir 2010 : (25€) This is not really a « do not buy » but rather a « not worth the price ». This is a decent Pinot Noir, very technical (lots of manipulation in the cellar are visible). It is ok but from a Pinot at 25€, this is absurd. It taste a bit like the basic Cono Sur Pinot Noir (9€) with a bit more structure. This wine is artifical, showing an unreal fruitiness and no elegance at all. It is tiring to drink. No point to buy, for that kind of top end Pinot Noir aim rather at the to-be-ordered Cono Sur Pinot Noir 20 Barrels which is a real powerful wine.


JP Chenet : In general JP Chenet wines are to be avoided. The main reason is that they are extremely variable. From one bottle to another, you never have the same wine. I tasted three bottles last year : one was correct, one was tasteless and one was ugly. This is not acceptable from a wine that is design to always taste the same. Even at 7€, this is overpriced and it does not have any character. Go for South-Africa, Argentina, Italy or Portugal in that price range.

Mouton Cadet 2010 : (12€) In such a perfect vintage as 2010 in Bordeaux, how is it possible to source such an awful wine? A brand that I do not recommend.


Gancia Prosecco : (11€) No taste, no structure and unpleasant to drink. Hopefully soon out of the selection.


Freixenet : apart from the Vintage, none of the wine in Alko (Cordon Nero and Carta Nevada) are worth buying. Aim rather at Anna de Cordoniu.

Señorios des los Llanos : Pointless oak juice. Both wines available (Crianza and Gran Reserva) are utterly disgusting. There is nothing but oak. Sure, it is cheap…

ALKO, Jouluviinit 2011: Punaviinit

Here are a few comments on the different red wines from ALKO’s normal selection. I will comment them the same way each time and will pick a couple of them as « WINEOPS PICK« . I hope it will be a useful reading.

On the list, you will find first the number that is linked to the comment afterwards, then the name of the producer, then the name of the wine, then the price and finally ALKO’s reference number.

1: Medium strength, fruity, not very complex. This is a very juicy wine though a bit simple in term of aromas. Alcohol is slightly too high.

2: Powerful, fruity and concentrated, medium complexity. Very interesting wine made from grapes that grow in northern Italy. Might be slightly too powerful but will please people who look for something stronger than a Pinot Noir.

3: Medium strength, very fruity, spicy and oaky at the same time, high complexity. This is a modern style fruit-bomb Pinot Noir. Very enjoyable and easy to understand. I liked it a lot. WINEOPS PICK.

4: Medium minus, spicy and a bit fruity, good complexity. Less modern, it will need a bit of breathing. It is an interesting solution if you wish something cheaper than K1.

5: Medium, spicy, fruity and earthy, high complexity. This is a classic solid Pinot Noir that require a minimum of one hour decanting. A beautiful effort for a very reasonable price! WINEOPS PICK.

6: Medium plus, fruity, high complexity. Very nice Pinot Noir, slightly too young.

7: Medium minus, fresh fruits like red currant (punaviinimarja), average. A bargain and a very pleasant wine.

8: Medium, fruity and earthy, medium complexity. Antè is a very good example of wine from northern Italy. Balanced, elegant and yet powerful enough. More body than a Pinot Noir but still fits pork.

9: Medium minus, mix of fruits, humus, average. Not very powerful but a good value for money.

10: Medium minus, cherry and earthy, average. An interesting but basic Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Maybe more difficult to enjoy.

11: Medium, fresh fruits, good complexity. From Sancerre, this is more on the fruit side but still classical. A good wine with a very good acidity, that often lack in New World wines.

12: Medium plus, spicy, good complexity. Classical style. Very versatile and enjoyable wine. A good pick.

13: Medium plus, fruity, spicy, high complexity. More modern, a bit more of everything compared to the previous one.

14: Powerful, fruity and oaky, high complexity. Very modern, this is an extracted, oaked aged Pinot Noir. This requires most of the time a bit of opening. Self evident but it is a bit too much in my opinion.

That’s for the reds, all of them should deliver during your Christmas meals. These red should fit well with joulukinkku and the various laatikkot. However they will not match the possible fish (like savulohi) and the salads.

Hello Finland!

Today is a special day. Today is another English speaking day. Today is the day I introduce features dedicated to my Finnish readers.

As some noticed, many wines reviewed here are actually avaiable at the Finnish monopoly, best known under the sweet name of Alko. However, most reviews are writen in French and these wines were not specifically identified as part of Alko selection. This is now fixed! In the « Catégories » on the right of the blog, you can find a new category: ALKO. Under the later, you will find all the wines available at Alko. I will even link the distribution list in the future when I review one of its wines (starting tomorrow). I hope that you will soon find these informations and enjoy them. Don’t hesitate to send a comment, even in Finnish, if you have any question about this post or any wine I reviewed.

Until then, have a nice day.