Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Exciting News!!!

Peter Liem's new site, ChampagneGuide.net is up and running.

Peter and I might not agree about everything (terroir expression in Champagne, for example) but he is among the brightest and most astute people writing about wine anywhere in the world.

You should check out his blog and sign up for his site if you have any interest in Champagne.

Congrats to Peter, I know he has worked his ass off to get this started.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Duke sucks

Had these two bottles with some braised country style pork ribs braised with tomatillos while watching Duke get their asses handed to them by Villanova. What a great night. Duke sucks.

2006 Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé Tradition
This wine is really hitting it for me right now. It does all the sorts of things I want from Macon. There is a density and intensity to the wine, as there often is with Thévenet wines. However, this does not come at the sacrifice of a floral and mineral side to the wine to make way for more tropical notes. The wine stays fresh and delicious despite being obviously a bit heady. The mineral tang that underpins it never gets shunted. This particular bottle was opened for a glass and then finished 4 days later and it was really on song. I need to lock away some of this where I can’t get to it because it’ll be cool to see where it goes.

2002 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Spätlese
There is nothing obviously wrong with this wine, it is just a bit soft and boring. It had that creamy thing I don’t like right upon opening. After a bit of air, it seemed to tighten up for a minute, only to lapse again. This would have been better a couple of years ago when it was fresh and bright.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Texier is a Fat Head

So there is a little secret in Durham. It goes by the name Kurama. In what seems to be your average awful Japanese steak house, there is a sushi bar. At that bar, Tomo-san and Misagi-san put together some truly exemplary meals, not just for Durham, for anywhere. My close friend Ken is a regular there and I joined him and his wife for a 9 course dinner prepared by Tomo-san. It was a very cool mix of a couple of sushi courses but lots of traditional Japanese food.

1995 François Raveneau Chablis 1er Cru Forêt
Had a dank musty aroma that never quite went away. It seemed to for a moment, but would always come back. Not the first time I’ve had this issue with a Raveneau, a shame really.

2003 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
This was its usual weird, wooly self. It proved to be a bit too big and diffuse to really enjoy.

2006 Cá de Noci Vino di Tavola Notte di Luna
This was fantastic. Another orange wine, this time from Emilia-Romagna. I guess eventually I will get sick of this style of wine, but it fit the food so well and was just so plainly delicious that I couldn’t help but be charmed. I’ll be drinking a good deal of this. The only shame is that it is a bit expensive, all these orange wines are. They make such perfect foils for food, it is a shame that everyone can’t drink them whenever they want.

2007 Éric Texier Condrieu Janrode
Even in this difficult vintage, Eric has made a Condrieu that I can really enjoy. Hopefully, he won’t get too fat headed about making my two favorite white Rhône wines (this and the Châteauneuf Blanc). He manages to coax out of viognier its delicate and floral side with lots of cut and shine and leave the heavy, glommy side behind. Well done Eric. Fat head.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Well done Wells

Haven’t seen Andre in a while since he’s been out working his ass off in the marketplace (would you want to be in the wine business right now?). Tough times out there. Got together over at his place for some grilled steaks. Andre does them over the fireplace in his house where he was burning some hickory. It’s a pretty cool setup.

2006 Copain Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Monument Tree
I was really curious to try the “new” Copain wines. $54 full boat at a local retailer. Pricey, but what isn’t these days? 13.0% alcohol listed on the label. Admirably restrained, bright, and focused. I certainly don’t get anything that reeks of under-ripeness. In fact, everything seems to fit together in a nice package. There is a bit of spice, from wood I’m assuming, but it could be the site. The fruit is on the red and pitted side of the spectrum. All things considered a nice wine. I’m not sure about the cost, but I would drink this again if not necessarily buy it in quantity. The kind of thing you could probably find on a decent restaurant list that doesn’t have any Burgundy worth drinking or sufficiently aged to drink. Good for Wells Guthrie for fighting the power. You can make perfectly balanced wine at 13% just by good vineyard work and picking early. Brown seeds my fucking ass.

2003 Château Bourgneuf Pomerol
A minor property and I was a bit worried it would be a mess given my experience with other 2003 Bordeaux (even those that are usually on the restrained side like Chevalier). This was a pleasant wine with modest intentions. The predominant theme was of earthy, almost mushroomy notes surrounding plumy merlot. Well structured and enjoyable. Will probably be better in a few years, but interesting enough now in its idiom.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hommage Cappellano

A group of old wine hands got together to catch up and to toast the late Teobaldo Cappellano. If you haven’t read it, Kevin McKenna of Louis/Dressner has some words worth reading. Too much death this year.

We started off at my brother’s restaurant, Rue Cler. He got in some fresh (as in still alive) Scottish langoustines. Probably the best dish I’ve had in a long time. It’s a shame my brother has to spend so much time running his businesses and can’t just be here to cook. When he has the chance, he does wonderful things.

2006 Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé Tradition
This wine has really come out of its shell in the past few months. When it first arrived on these shores, it was a bit out of sorts and clumsy and not very aromatic. Time cures all ills. Resolutely Roally and floral with that hint of botrytis that I love in this wine. I really love what Thevenet is doing with this and his own vines. Great now, should improve over the next couple of years.

2004 Baudry Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée
Corked. My second bad bottle of this in a row, which sucks because this wine can be excellent. Crazy bad luck. Oh well.

2004 Pernot Batard-Montrachet
So refined as to make the Roally seem positively boisterous. Linear and pristine, which is a good trick in Batard. A nice counterpoint to the almost exotic Roally. Instead of all the floral elements it seemed to want to stay with yellow fruits and a bit of mineral nuance. Very elegant. Worth having, but I’m not sure I favor it over the Puligny 1er crus from Pernot. But then again, I’m sort of a 1er cru kind of guy.

2002 Bellivière Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge-Gorge
This was fantastic and an indicator of what Eric Nicolas is capable of when the vintage treats him well. Started off with classic pineau d’aunis aromas of aggressive white pepper and horseradish and was very structured. As it had a chance to stretch out, it really popped. The aromas broadened in profile to include fruits and other notes as the pepper became part of the whole instead of domineering.

2000 Nervi Gattinara Vigneto Molsino
This wine got lost in the shuffle a bit, but the impression it left was as a good version if a bit afflicted by being from 2000. I kind of like my Nervi a little more nervy. That was awful, but true.

We had both the Capellano out of magnum. It seemed only fitting.

2000 Cappellano Barolo Piè Rupestris Otin Fiorin
Both of these 2000s were a little loose, but that has a lot to do with the vintage and it is more interesting to me for the wine to reflect the vintage than to strive for some archetype that doesn’t reflect that. More classic nose than the Piè Franco with the dark cherry notes and a stab more structure. This could probably stand a bit more time, but there is no reason to avoid opening one if you are interested.

2000 Cappellano Barolo Piè Franco Otin Fiorin
I would say that you can and maybe should, go ahead and drink this now. I always find this more approachable than the Rupestris. It has an almost Christmas fruitcake type of nose with the spice and fruits that entails. I don’t get the classic Barolo notes in this, but it is lively and enjoyable to drink. A wine to enjoy without fetishistic about it and that’s how we enjoyed it, with lively conversation among old friends.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Young Rougeard

2006 Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé Tradition
I had a glass of this and while not showing quite as gloriously as a recent bottle, this has really morphed into an interesting wine. I really have a soft spot for this chardonnay and the other wines of the vigneron Gautier Thévenet. He is doing superb work carrying on a noble tradition of excellence.

2004 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny
This is the “Clos” or basic bottling, whatever that means in the context of Clos Rougeard. I think this is from vineyards around the cave that are not Bourg. Of course this is way too young, but I don’t remember how the Clos tasted and wanted to give it a shot. I was surprised with how enjoyable it was. While it will certainly be more expressive and dramatic with some time, I was glad to have caught it in an exuberantly youthful stage. What was so striking about it was the incredible coolness of the flavors and the impeccable balance. I bought this off my brothers list at Rue Cler, where it is something like $59. A very fair price for a Rougeard wine, I think. It paired superbly with the brisket on the prix fixe.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I still drink German riesling

VLM at home with nothing better to do than order Chinese and watch Generation Kill.

2004 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #9
I bought at least a case of this on close-out for something like $16, which is surely a crime somewhere. I’ve been a big Schaefer fan for as long as I can remember buying German wine, and always find the Spätlese beautiful. I’ve been really happy with the fairly angular 2004s, although this has softened a bit since my last bottle. Plenty of fat still on the bones, so it should be better in a few years, keeping in mind that I probably like most of my Spätlese on the younger side than most.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And you thought you had me pegged

At a friends house for dinner with grilled things. Lots of conversation, no time wasted on note taking. All are impressions.

1995 Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau
Vary aromatic and precise in the very best way that 1995s can be. Maybe the last vintage that will produce Châteauneuf in this style. Not hard at all in the way that the 1995 Beaucastel can be.

1991 Viader
Maybe would have been better a few years before, it did seem a bit tired when first opened. It did sort of stretch out and reveal it self as the meal moved on so that by the end, it wasn’t tired seeming at all. Maybe the Howell Mountain structure is deep lying in cabernet franc. A bit confounding, but nonetheless interesting wine.

1995 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain
This showed great as well. Again, a lot of precision for a CA cabernet with plenty of mineral twinged earth to balance the fruit and herbs. Good structure with enough acid and tannin to clear the palate of the porterhouse. This and the above were decent advertisements for mountain cabernet from CA.

2004 Domaine la Soumade Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau Cuvée Prestige
I don’t have a strong impression of this wine other than I liked it more than I thought I would. Who said that monkeys don’t have open minds?

There were at least a couple more bottles, including some awful CA pinot noir.

Monday, March 16, 2009

God Wine

I enjoyed this with my friend Michael who had never had Knoll before. Man did he pick an imposing bottle to be his first. We had this before going to the Morrissey show at the Durham Performing Arts Center. If you live in the area, you need to check out DPAC, it is a sensational venue. If you are a Smiths fan or a Morrissey fan, he is still worth seeing and put on a great show. We had fantastic seats, 3rd row center and Michael even caught Morrissey’s shirt to take home for his wife (she asked him to bring her A shirt, he brought her THE shirt!) We had a great night.

1997 Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibenberg
This is one of the best wines I have had in a while. It is hard to put into words just how glorious and stunning it was. It is wines like this that make one say Knoll is god. Seemingly border less in both breadth and depth with luxurious fruit combined with a broad array of wax, white pepper, flowers, honey and more stuff than anyone should bother trying to identify. The texture is rich and silken without being overly heavy. Poised to the point of imperiousness without being smug or arrogant. This wine is so compelling that just writing about it has made me smile. Given its overall balance, this should be able to age for a good while. I don’t know how to predict its life-cycle and I’m not sure anyone does. David Schildknecht and Joe Dougherty have already demurred, so who really knows?

I had always thought that 1999 would be the superior vintage from the Wachau. When it comes to this wine, I may be wrong. This is one of the greatest wines I’ve ever had.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mediocre except for Marc

Ran into my friends, the Platts, at Vin Rouge for dinner.

2007 Pépière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine
Great accompaniment to oysters and another delightful wine from Marc Ollivier. The man is a genius and if you aren’t drinking his wines, you are a fool. If you live near New York and don't go to the dinner Sunday March 22 put on by Chambers St. you are a traitor.

1998 Domaine de l'Oratoire St Martin Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne Cuvée Prestige
Unfortunately, this was sliding down the other side of life. After a very promising 2000 that seemed too young, I thought that this would be just right. I am at a loss as to what to make of these wines. I’m going to start diving in to my 1999-2001 Haut Coustias and see what they are doing and hopefully get a better sense of things.

2001 Pascal Granger Juliénas Cuvée Spéciale
Showed very well. Had gone totally pinote. I’m not always the hugest fan of Granger, there are so many better producers out there, but when they are good, they can be very, very good. Easily the best of the reds, with a warm earthy embrace, some dried fruit, and great balance. Very nice accompaniment to the food. No reason to hold if you have them, enjoy.

2004 La Bastide Blanche Bandol
This was just OK. I realize it is young, but it showed sort of murky, which has long been my experience with Bastide-Blanche. The best Bandol, like Pradeaux and Pibarnon show good definition when young, even if they can be painful.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good Grouper

Made a simple dinner of broiled NC grouper with buerre blanc. The grouper was supposedly spear caught off the coast of NC. I have no idea if it is true, but I saw the whole fish at my brothers and it had a hole through the head. Anyway, very high quality fish.

2001 Pierre Peters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons
This was just OK. Frankly, I enjoyed a bottle of the Brut Reserve recently more than this. It could be the vintage, but it seems to lack drive.

1997 Prager Riesling Smaragd Achleiten
Cork was soaked, so this probably saw some heat at some point. Still in pretty good shape, although rounder than I expected from Prager and this site.

1997 Freie Weingärtner Wachau Riesling Smaragd Achleiten
There was something off in this bottle. Maybe it was premoxed! Seemed like it was OK at first, but gradually slid down hill.

2002 Huët Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Mont
This was the most horribly flawed bottle I can remember in a long time. Some sort of combination of sewage, bleach, and vomit. It was so aggressively and stunningly awful that I was bewildered.

1995 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile
Again, a bit of mustiness right when opened that blows off nicely. This was a really grippy version of Frédéric Emile, especially in comparison to a recent 1997. No sign of the mysterious premature oxidation here. This showed really well with lots of minerals and only a hint of kerosene. I kept this in the fridge and enjoyed the rest 4 nights later when it was even better. Without a doubt, the best bottle of 1995 I’ve had and one of the better Frédéric Emile in recent memory.

1990 Château Suduiraut Sauternes
Really pretty mediocre. It was dominated caramel and crème brulée notes. It seemed to lack structure and precision. Too bad, I haven’t had good Sauternes in a while.