For almost seven years now, I have almost exclusively been tasting in just one kind of glass. The One For All Magnum, designed byPeter Steger and distributed by Schott Zwiesel. I first tested this glass at the Mondavi stand (don’t quote me) at the ProWein fair in Germany, and was immediately hooked. Later I had the chance of comparing it with 30 other models in a blind (in fact, literally blind-folded) tasting for the Polish WINO Magazine. It came out my 1st choice for red wine and 2nd for white. Since then, I tasted thousands of wines from this glass, white, red, rosé, sparkling, sweet, fortified, and even used it on the rare occasions I taste spirits. It was the only glass I used at home, and I carried it on all my wine travels from Lisbon to Georgia. (There was the notable exception of Gianfranco Soldera in Montalcino who forbade me entering his cellar with this glass).
But this glass has a serious shortage. There is one type of wine it doesn’t really work well with: lighter-coloured, high-acidity, aromatic reds. Basically this is not a good Pinot Noir glass. And while I drink almost no Burgundy at home and wouldn’t really bother, it also does no favour to a grape I cherish: Nebbiolo. Since well around 50% of my ‘festive’ drinking is Barolo or Barbaresco, I finally decided it was time to get a box of dedicated Nebbiolo glasses.
So I phoned the local distributor of Schott-Zwiesel (I decided to stick to this glassmaker because of the extra resistance of their patented glass, and the affordable price), and asked to try several of their Pinot Noir models with a glass of Barbaresco (in this case, I opened a Giuseppe Cortese Rabajà 2001, a wine I know well). Here is a short summary of my impressions:
Nose dominated by mint and vegetality, a bit of pepper. Some sweetness but also alcohol due to the huge bowl. Palate is again simple, reasonably fresh, tannic, a little fruitless. Acidity clearly dominating. Decent length. Simple and underwhelming wine. While I like the looks of this, it is clearly giving an inferior result.
Top Ten #125
Fruity and mineral, overall this is showing vastly more Nebbiolo-typical than the Cru 140. Less alcohol, although wine seeming perhaps more mature / integrated. Palate along the lines of the nose with some evolution, a rounder, peppery expression, less inert than the Cru Classic above. Really changing in time (even though the airing surface doesn’t seem so huge). A nice compromise between the two below glasses but I can’t resist an impression of alcohol and bake.
Lovely nose, remarkable elegance. A little greenness. Rather integrated but less advanced than the Top Ten above. On the palate this glass tends to simplify a bit, no rough edges here but a little short? Very good freshness, the cleanest taste of all 4 glasses. Later picks up more length and the wine becomes more complete.
One For All Magnum
I brought this one to compare the new glasses with one I know well. On the nose this gives the wine good freshness and directness of expression, but diminishes the complexity. Seems a little coarse (alcohol is a bit emphasised). A good choice when this is your standard, although clearly a little at odds with this wine style. Tasting simplest and least typical of the 4 glasses, this makes the rather traditional Cortese taste like a modern barrique-aged Nebbiolo! While on the nose this glass makes a statement, the palate is quite underwhelming: an impression of lower acidity brings a duller, as if suffocated expression.
I ended up ordering 6 pcs. of the Enoteca 150. Several bottles of Barolo opened since Christmas have confirmed this was an excellent choice. This glass is particularly adapted to the more complex bouquets of older (10+ years) traditional-aged Nebbiolo.
On the same occasion, I also experimented with some glasses for Champagne and spirits. For those interested, my tastings notes appear below:Champagne glass comparison with Deutz Brut Classic :
Top Ten #77
Apple and yeastiness on nose, with good emphasis on minerality. Best nose together with One For All below. Palate is a little dressed up but well assembled between elements. Nuttier, more complete than the Fine 77. Interesting how well this integrates (at the same time slightly emphasising) residual sugar. Longer lived bubbles here. Best of 4.
Sweeter, headier, plus the narrow rim is a little fastidious. Wine becomes less aromatic, analytic, chalky. Impression on palate is better, with more softness and elegance, less hard and dry than above. Surely fuller than the Fine 155 below. Not too long.
Unexciting, this is closing the wine instead of allowing it to open. A chewy palate is not bad but simple. Wine stays dry but fruity. Medium+ length. Worst of 4.
Cool, mineral, appley, showing a nice autolytic character, this is not bad. Fruitier and more open than Top Ten above. Attack on palate somewhat broad, cool and mineral with little sweetness, good length.
Spirits comparison with:
Marolo Grappa Dedicata al Padre (60% no less)
Bowmore 15 y.o. Single Malt Whisky ‘Mariner’
Grappa: Sweet, noble, grapey, really fruity, only end of nose is a little vegetal. Alcohol seems really attenuated. Compared to the similarly shaped Top Ten this smells a little more chemical.
Whisky: Mostly peaty, saline, really unalcoholic, soft, elegant, very good. This is giving this whisky’s lightest and whitest expression, also on palate. Very interesting.
Top Ten #155
Grappa: Less fruity than Enoteca, and alcohol is felt. But let rest and sum of elements seems more than Enoteca which is a little too grapey. Always a certain appley sweetness here. Despite a certain sweaty warmth this is the best impression. Tastewise this is also making a big impression with an explosion of flavour.
Whisky: More opaque than the Enoteca. Far less intense and precise. Taste is not bad with some more oaky honey and decent length but I think worst of 4 with this whisky.
Grappa: Looking at the organ pipe shape, no wonder alcohol is emphasised, together with generic grappa character. Unswirled this shows a nice sweet appliness. Main effect is simplification. But I like the outcome nevertheless: sweet, round, almost sugary.
Whisky: Quite direct, unalcoholic, fruity, sweet, good. Overall a little chewy and green however. Palate is good if a little simple.
Grappa: Fruit is good, similar to Fine but with such high alcohol this chimney bowl is really a major problem. On the positive side you really get a very direct and complex smell. Palate impression is not bad really.
Whisky: Clearly this is giving the most complex nose with even the lightest, most volatile aormas shown crystal-clear (e.g. a minor peach note), and alcohol far less of a problem than the 60% grappa.
Comments: the One For All is hardly a typical spirit glass, yet is has some obvious advantages over the smaller models: bouquets are far more intense and complex. A tricky glass with cask strength spirits, it is really a discovery with the whisky. As for the latter, normally with wood-aged spirits you are supposed to use a different, more open shape than with white spirits, but my consumption of both being marginal, it only makes sense for me to have one glass for both styles, hence my decision to taste whisky in these.