Thursday, May 29, 2008
Meanwhile, this is where Andre gets his mojo for finding great Spanish wines.
Since Lyle is over at Rockss and Fruit falsely comparing 2007 to 1996, I thought it was my duty to put some real information about German wine on the internet. Just to preface, I’m pretty sure that of the “Theise” guys, Schaefer is the man.
1999 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese
This wine was so beautiful when it was young that I couldn’t keep my hands off of it, which is why this was my last bottle. I think I caught this one just where I like it, before the kerosene starts, but with some flavor development. 1999 was never the strictest of vintages, but the framing structure has held up OK. There are still a few flowers although things are tending towards the honeysuckle end of the spectrum. Yellow plum compote is what comes to mind, I have no idea why. Reminds me of a Chistian Ferber confiture. After a couple of days in the fridge (I went out of town) it sort of became flimsy and a bit plodding. Still drinkable, but not nearly as good as that first evening. My advice would be to begin finishing these off, but it is a fact that other folks like their German wines with more tertiary aromas than I do. For me, when you start to lose the crystalline etched structure and flavor, you begin to lose what I love most about Riesling in the
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A little back story on this. Sometime around the turn of the century, I was motoring around
2004 Bellivière Jasnières Les Rosiers
If you are like me, you love Bellivière chenin, and the Jasnières in particular, for their nervy, lacey interpretation of chenin. The 2002 Rosiers and Calligramme were totally sublime and standouts in an excellent vintage for chenin all over the
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
My good friend André Tamers of De Maison Selections was in the LA area, so I went up to Santa Monica to meet him for dinner. We went to this new Basque-style Tapas place called Pintxo on
2007 Ameztoi Rubentis
You have to ask? Again, maybe the Spanish rosé of the vintage for me and will be in the fridge all summer. Ameztoi is really hitting all the right notes for me over the past few years. Txakoli in kegs is the next big thing. Remember, the vlm-tr is a taste maker!
2006 Do Ferreiro Rebisaca
A distinct step down from the Albariño for me. The wine is fine, I guess, just not something to drink when the Albariño is around. The comparison is probably unfair. Lots of reliable palates (like Josh Raynolds) like this more than I do.
2006 Do Ferreiro Albariño
Maybe the best vintage of this excellent wine to date. Really intense and driving with a saline drill through your jaw. Killer.
2006 Do Do Ferreiro Albariño Cepas Vellas
Profound. The minerals almost completely mask the fruit. I don’t always prefer the Cepas Vellas to the regular wine here, but this year, for some reason, there is a gulf in class, and given the high quality of the regular, that is saying something. I think I’ll throw a couple bottles in deep storage just to see what happens.
2006 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro
Here’s the thing about this wine, it isn’t the most powerful or the most intense, it has a feathery like beauty of taffeta layered nuance. One really interesting trait of this wine is that it reminds you of other wines, like Puligny Caillerets, Achleiten Riesling, and Savoie Altesse without being exactly like any of them, it is at once very much reminiscent of these wines, but its own thing entirely. I’m not really sure what more I have to say about this wine, I’ve posted several glowing notes and this one is no different. In case you can’t tell, this is the white wine that I am currently infatuated with. I could drink my body weight in this if there were enough of an allocation.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
A quiet Sunday evening at home with nothing to do but make myself dinner and watch Cracker, the next BBC show in line on my Netflix (tried MI-5, but was really put off by the slickness, the lameness, and all the jump-cutting…MAKE IT STOP).
2005 Louis Boillot
The saturated and sparkly ruby color winks at you from across the room. No surprises there as you would think that 2005 would produce healthy, frolicking wines. I have high expectations from someone married to Ghislaine Barthod, who I think makes one of the two or three best
Friday, May 23, 2008
After the success of John Downing of Hi-Times with the Benito Ferrara Greco I thought I would try another reasonably priced white that he was into. In my experience, Weissburgunder (aka pinot blanc) can produce wines of real creamy body and interest balanced upon an underlying structure, or they can become top-heavy shapeless mashes. It is a very fine line, I think. I wonder if it is a hard grape to know when to pick or whether there is actually more breathing space in terms of getting to the sweet spot. To date, my favorite expressions have always been from Austria.
2005 Ignaz Niedrist Weissburgunder Alto Adige - Südtirol
I consumed this wine over three days in the fridge and it didn’t seem to suffer at all over that period. It also seems to thrive at maybe 50-52° after being out of the fridge. This has that quality that David Schildknecht calls a “creamed corn”. It is a sort of sweet, but earthy yellow fruit quality, I think, married to a creaminess. I find it an apt descriptor for pinot blanc. I even enjoyed a glass of it by itself, which is unusual for me. Around $20 and worth owning a fair bit at that price. Not sure age will add anything to it, although it might uncoil it the wine a bit. I prefer it the way it is now.
No way Lyle Fass is recommending wines this good.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
It brought a whole bunch of new traffic to the VLM-TR which seems to have dies down now so I feel comfortable commenting on it, and there many points I'd like to make, but I'll limit myself to a couple.
First, the articles on preferences that caused the uproar shouldn't have. All they do is show that wine, like cars or anything else where people make choices, is subject to the same lack of rational thought that humans exhibit in all sort of other arenas. Logic and probabilistic reasoning are not natural to most people, they have to be learned, the fact that it also applies to choices about wine shouldn't surprise anyone. Dan Ariely*, a professor at MIT, makes that point, but I don't think people understood it judging from the comments on Eric's Blog.
Second, I've gotten a lot of shit for the La Tâche vs Beaujolais comment. The context was a little lacking. The point is that wine is not a cocktail to me, I don't sit around drinking wine, that's why god created scotch and gin. Wine is part of a meal. In that case, there are instances where a fine Cru Beaujolais might be a better choice than La Tâche. This is precisely why I have very little cabernet sauvignon in my cellar, it is just too limited at the table. To not appreciate this is to misunderstand something fundamental to the enjoyment of wine. In our bigger, better, faster, MORE! culture, this kind of thinking can get lost in the shuffle. If 2002 Coudert is good with a dish, then 2002 La Tâche is better and 1934 La Tâche better still. To me, this misses the point entirely, though I grant that La Tâche is a great wine and I never pass up the chance to drink it.
* An interesting anecdote, I overlapped with Dan in graduate school at UNC. I was even in an individual choice behavior seminar with him taught by Tom Wallsten. Dan was already a rising star then and has had an exceptional career since.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
These showed up in the local market, and although I have some in the cellar, I thought I would pick one up to try. The Clos Guillot is the Baudrys newest vineyard site (although there is another on the way) and it has a fine exposition near Chêne Vert. It is also where Baudrys small planting of Franc de Pied cabernet franc is located. These vines are afflicted with phyloxera, so the wine will eventually cease to exist. It is a full south-southwest exposition, IIRC, so the vines get plenty of sun and the grapes were very ripe in both 2004 and 2005. I found the 2004 a bit loose for my tastes, especially with the elevated alcohol.
2005 Baudry Chinon Clos Guillot
This was really dark and brooding looking, like a barrel sample. The opaque purple is a bit unusual as cabernet franc is generally not that dark, but it is 2005 after all, the vintage where everything was pushed to the extreme. The alcohol is more than 14.5%, which is very, very high for Chinon, in fact, the wines were the ripest that anyone could remember. Maybe this is the Chinon to introduce your Cult Cabernet or spoofy right bank Bordeaux loving friends to. It is dark, loading with deep fruit, large scaled finishing with tons of tanning and has a mouthfeel that is a completely new experience in Chinon. Complete mouthcoating tannins. There was a trace of heat for me, but it was intertwined with a licquer-like sappiness, so maybe it has the balance to stay in harmony. I’m not sure what kind of advice to give on this wine. It could age into something more balanced, but will always be outsized, IMO. I have half a case and check in 5 years from now. Worth buying at least a few if you plan on following the vineyard. Other folks are more into it than I am and they could be right.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
No wonder we're headed down the tubes.
Sort of like more bottles of 1947 Lafleur sold in the last 5 years than were ever produced.
And people jump in to say how it is possible.
A little math, if DRC produced 6000 btls of 1934 RC, then there had to be an average of less than 82 bottles consumed in the entire world per year since release for there to be a single bottle left. No one really does the math because they arbitrage the ignorance. Pretty much how big money is made in the US over the last 25 years, I guess.
Here is a Wine Spectator piece. Also check out eBob if you want. Be warned though, there is a lot of crazy going on.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Sorry I’ve been away for so long, I only barely made it back alive. How does one describe
This is maybe the last place you would expect to find a thriving, albeit small, wine culture. It isn’t wine-geeky the way it can be other places, but among the group of friends that I have fallen in with, there is at least a general appreciation of fine wine and plenty of geekiness around the edges.
I managed to stay more or less inebriated for several days, so the following are just wines that stuck out in my mind.
2006 Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas and 2006 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro
The second time in four days that I’ve had these two monsters of Galician wine side by side. To say that I am spoiled rotten is an understatement. As tactile and impressive as the Cepas Vellas is (downright salty), the Rojo is a wine of such tremendous balance and cut that it can astonish. I know I sound like a broken record, but these are probably the two greatest white wines of
2005 Pépière Muscadet
Went through several bottles of this. Drinking really well right now. Marc Olivier is a fucking genius and he has a posse.
2006 Pépière Clos des Briords and 2005 Pépière Granite de Clisson
Had these two while watching the Imperial Lounge baseball team featuring the Gold brothers on a beautiful summer-ish day. The Granite de Clisson is, for many reasons, more deeply pitched, intense and serious. The Briords is like medicine, a natural anti-depressant. I’ve never drunk this wine and not had it bring a smile to my face. It should become a permanent part of the national pastime. Maybe the Mets would win if they served this at Shea.
1993 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée
This magnum was a gift from the sublime and imperious Ms. Lee Campbell. In a way, this wine reminds me of her. Peter Leim had an excellent description of this wine and Vilmart in general. Suffice it to say that it married a thrusting, implacable quartzish minerality to a certain bready broadness. It was a wine that made you sit up and take notice and stood out in a crowd of at least 25 open bottles. Even folks who didn’t know shit stopped and said, “Whoa!” So while I’m not entirely sold on this
2004 Clape Cornas and 2004 Allemand Cornas Reynard
A bit of controversy here as a couple of folks vociferously advocated for the superiority of the Clape. I didn’t see it. It was marked by lots of smoky, meaty flavors, but that could be more an expression of yeast strain than terroir, especially at this young age. I’m not saying it isn’t good wine, it was very well balanced and I’d be happy to drink it, but the Allemand is so vastly superior in terms of depth, cut, precision, and complexity that in a forced choice, there is no choice. Some people mistake the fruit in Allemand for modernism, but that isn’t the case. There should be an expression of fruit from this terroir, and it is here in spades with a surprising mix of floral and meaty notes underlined by a driving granite-type minerality (anyone know the composition of the site?). A surging young wine that will benefit from years and years of cellaring, but like many young Allemand, is interesting and enjoyable now. My guess is that it will shut down soon, so if you want to see it as a young wine, I would suggest in the next year.
2001 Barthod Chambolle 1er Beaux Bruns
Pristine and excellent. Shows the generous nature of Beaux Bruns, but with Barthods signature precision. 2001 has been an exceptional vintage at Barthod and this wine was another testament to that.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I'm off to spend the weekend with friends up in Reno. We like to drink, so there should be some good updates when I get back, if I survive...
I was invited to dinner by a very generous host whom I only met the night before. Say what you want, but folks in
1995 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston
Showed as well as the last bottle. Maybe a bit more structured. Very much in the house style, which is fine with me as I grew up with Pol Roger (dad was a big Churchill buff).
1996 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles
This wine had come up in conversation the previous evening. Notorious as a victim of the premature oxidation problem, this bottle showed very few signs that it was suffering. Has a real tactile grip and mineral presence. Very, very good.
2004 Jadot Chevalier Demoiselles
Lighter and prettier than the 1996, if less tactile. Bright and snappy and really shows the Puligny-ness of the vineyard. I’m not sure that 2004 has produced wines for the long haul (or that any white Burgundy is a long haul wine anymore) but the racy snap of the vintage is certainly appealing.
2005 Sauzet Chevalier
Not the equal of the two wines before it. Almost a bit too big, enough to make it a tad loose although not sloppy. Nice enough, but didn’t make near enough of an impression for me to pony up the dough for it. Seems to lack the clarity, incision, and presence of the best Chevalier I’ve had. In essence, a wine I’ll drink on someone else’s dime.
1989 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
We all wondered if the 1989 and 1990 had been switched. This is the prettiest I’ve ever had the 1989 show. It is usually a bit brett-y and brooding. Not tonight. Really lovely ruby color. Pretty nose of desiccating red berries, hints of mushroom, and leather. Enough acidity and remaining structure to pair very well with the food.
1990 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
And this showed like an 89. Darker color, more tense and full of earthy animal character. In the end, I’m not sure that the decanters weren’t mistakenly switched. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but the wines showed so much like the other, that a rational mind tends towards the logical answer. Either the 1990 has become a brute or the 1989 has become the belle of the ball. Neither seems terribly likely, but I can’t say for sure.
2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe
After the 1989 and 1990, this was like a barrel sample. Not much to say, although it did seem a little fluffy for young Beaucastel.
1958 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo
Graceful, expansive, inviting, warm, and silky. Easily the wine of the evening for me. Beautiful aged Barolo in every way in a feminine srtyle. Probably near the end of its drinking window, and maybe at the beginning of decline, but a reminder of why we cellar wine in the first place. It’s amazing how charming and lovely these old Barolo can be.
1967 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo
1961 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
Very, very strange. Completely overwhelmed by VA and some bacterial flaws. Very dark in color. Bizarrely so. I have no idea what this portends to other bottles.
1989 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
A controversial bottle. I thought it was corked, others thought it was just strange and young. It didn’t have an obnoxious corkiness, but something more akin to a bleach smell. Whatever the problem, a shameful showing for a wine of immense pedigree.
1997 Dal Forno Recioto di Valpolicella
Big bold and delicious. While I found this wine to be excellent, if a bit large scaled, I’m not sure it is worth the hype. Not something I would seek out, but a glass at the end of the night was a treat.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Jean-Paul is a copain of mine who makes excellent wine. The L'Ancien is an especially excellent and even important wine.
See what Joe has to say:
Fight the Power!!!!
Got together with a group of folks to taste some Bourgueil. The leader of this pack was introduced to me by Mr. Rockss and Fruit himself.
2006 Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Being its normal temperamental self. Good bottles are fantastic, but it has to be in the mood, not you. This did get better after a few hours in the decanter, but was still underwhelming because you know how good it can be. A wine I really don’t buy anymore, but will drink at restaurants from time to time.
2005 Yannick Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye
I guesss the best way to describe this wine is “correct”. All the right stuff in all the right places. Balanced and bright. I’d be perfectly happy with this off a restaurant list, but not something I’d seek out.
2005 Breton Breton Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal
Not surprisingly, this was the best wine of the night, and clearly so. What was surprising was how approachable it was. Almost feathery in its delineation as rocky in its detail as Sénéchal often is. I love the blue-ishness of the fruit with the dark grey stoniness of the wine. There is a hard to describe textural feel to the wine, maybe it’s the striations of slate, or some such. You’ll know it when you taste it. In many ways, this is my favorite wine that the Bretons make, even if it isn’t the most important one (that distinction goes to the sublime Perrières). A wine to seek out and buy in as much quantity as affordable.
2005 Chanteleuserie Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes
Just like I remember them. A meatier, brawnier, earthier interpretation of the idiom. This was the first Bourgueil I remember having and I don’t think the style has changed in all that time. Certainly more rustic, but if you’re in the mood, it would do nicely. Should age well in the medium term. It is still pretty cheap and could be one of those wines you cellar for a couple of years and then use as a house red. Certainly worth thinking about.
2005 Yannick Amirault Bourgueil Les Quartiers
This was the biggest, and maybe most 2005, wine of the evening. Really deep, ripe, and rich fruit. Very large and broad with tons of fruit over the structure. This is one of those wines to serve to people who don’t think they like Loire reds. Or maybe not, fuck those people. Anyway, I might try to hunt down a few bottles of this as it could make interesting old bones if the underlying structure I sense develops in the right way. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this.
2004 Domaine Jo Pithon Anjou Les Bergères
I brought this because we never seem to have a white for the end of the night and my recent experience with an excellent Pithon Savennières had me curious. While this wasn’t at the same level as that wine, it was a very good expression of chenin from 2004. By that I mean, generous, a bit honeyed and ready to go tonight. Glad I brought it or we wouldn’t have had anything to drink with the cheese…
Monday, May 5, 2008
Just like everyone else, I watched Rome on HBO. It was good fun, like a well made popcorn movie such as the Bourne Identity. I, Claudius is something different entirely. It has very much a theatre feel to it. Very stagey. The actors are all veteran theater actors. Whereas only Ciarán Hinds as Julius and especially James Purefoy as Marc Antony really put on command performances in the HBO series, there are many in I, Claudius. I do understand that they are not exactly comparable. The historical arc of Claudius is broader and longer than Rome, but they are still of a kind and I need a contemporary comparison to put into perspective how spectacular I, Claudius really was.
I, Claudius was besotted with great performances beginning with the great classical actor Derek Jacobi as Claudius. My favorite, and a scene stealer extraordinaire, was Siân Phillips as Livia. Astonishingly brutal, perfectly poised and impossible to take your eyes off of, she is more than just a villan, she may be the savior of Rome, it is hard to tell. She is certainly convinced of it, but like the Clintons, she thinks that only she has the answers, and so eliminates everyone in her way. A sort of sociopathology that is fascinating and terrifying all at once. Then there are the young lions of the stage, John Rhys-Davies, Patrick Stewart, and a poisonous John Hurt as Caligula.
Almost every performance is pitch-perfect and true acting in the sense that doesn’t exist very much anymore. I can imagine that some folks might be initially put off by the stagey-ness, but if you give it a chance you will become completely engrossed. This will be the first time I see the show/movie and then read the book.
The only gripe is that the DVD transfer wasn’t great (Criterion Collection, please) for sound.
A piece of dramatic art presented as television. I already feel like I need to watch it again, I’m going through withdrawal. This is Fucking-A awesome and vlm approved.
Friday, May 2, 2008
I don’t often indulge in mid-week Barolo, but I had an urge to cook a Piedmontese pasta based upon one in Matt Kramer’s excellent Passion for Piedmont. I’m not the type to own a lot of cookbooks. What I have are Larosse Gastronomique, McGhee On Food and Cooking, Peterson Sauces, Oxford Companion to Food and then Classic Julia, Marcella, and Claiborne. That’s it, except for this. I must say, it is one of my favorite cookbooks ever. It is full of interesting anecdotes and useful recipes, almost all of which work (GASP!) and are really good with wine. Anyway, highly recommended for those that are looking for food to make with their Piedmontese wines.
The sugo di carne is a great dish where you , essentially, evaporate a meat based sauce whose only herb is rosemary. You then place the sauce on the pasta and top generously with olive oil, which becomes the sauce. It is simple (6 ingrediants) and if you use good stuff, is fabulous. It is a great use for top-notch oil. I’ve been using Gulfi and Tenuta delle Terre Nere, both from Sicily. The pasta I prefer is Latini, which I find as good or better than almost any fresh pasta I’ve had.
2001 Germano Ettore Barolo Prapò
Beautiful ruby color. I decanted this while I cooked the sugo di carne, which takes a bit over an hour. Really great Serralunga nose. Very classic, if maybe bordering on a bit, well, not roasted exactly, but warmish confiture-ish. On the palate, it really performed with fine grained, long, mouth coating tannin, that were very present, but in no way hard. In fact, given the food, I felt like the wine worked quite well at this age. The snappy bright cherry/cranberry flavors were persistent and mixed with some darker fruit and earthy tar flavors. All were washed from the palate with mineral tinged acidity. I don’t want to go overboard. Pretty for a Serralunga Barolo, but it is still Serralunga Barolo, if you know what I mean. This was very good rather than profound Barolo, but it was so delicious that I finished almost the whole bottle myself (well I guess that isn’t exactly astonishing).This is not a producer that I have tons of experience with, but everything seems to be in order and no apparent spoofilation. Should age well in the medium term and be in a perfect place in 5-7 years, but you can drink a bottle now with the proper food. I think it was around $45, but could have been a little more. Well worth that price.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Since I have depleted my local retailers supply of Chidaine Bournais, I was searching for a nice white wine to have around that was a decent value. Didn’t think it would be greco, but that’s why I like to cultivate wine retailers I think have a clue, that way, I get to be surprised every now and then. BTW, I bought this at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa (link on right), not sure that it is widely distributed.
2006 Benito Ferrara Greco di Tufo
This is the big winner among wines I’ve had lately. Bizarrely, it was somewhat reminiscent of Austrian pinot blanc, if you can believe it, but leaning more tropical. There is a sort of creamy yellow fruit that I associate with pinot blanc that this shared. Most Greco leaves me a bit underwhelmed because I find they can be heavy and a bit flaccid, this was not. Driving with good mineral bite, but not particularly acidic like a Briords, but with enough to keep it very refreshing. Really made me want to sit by the sea and eat fresh octopus salad, and it says a lot that a wine can take you to a place. Lovely with food and worth every bit of the $18. Something to seek out even if you need to drink it in the near term. They also make a fancier cuvee that I haven’t tried, but will.