Friday, May 29, 2009

Excellence and surprise

Had dinner with my good friend RJ at the iconic Durham restaurant, Magnolia Grill

1998 Mugneret Ruchottes-Chambertin
After the calamity of a corked bottle the night before, this bottle was wonderful, if still a bit too young. Upon opening there was a quick rush of heady Gevrey aromatics, framed by a very sublime spice-box type note. After that it shut down for a while before slowly opening over the course of the evening. As it so often is with great wines opened before their prime, the last glass was the best and left me aching for more. It showed true breed and excellence. Not open for business yet, but something to enjoy over a long evening if you are in that sort of mood. I can imagine a 6 hour conversation with Blackwood over this wine. This is the last vintage before the section of the oldest vines were pulled up due to disease (the replanted section is now the villages Gevrey). I would hold another couple of years.

2004 Salvo Foti Etna Vinupetra
This was at least three different wines on the night. None of them were as dilute as a bottle a couple of months back. This wine was denser and more aromatically unexpressive at first, then it just popped and was wild and exotic without being overblown. Towards the end of the night, it became seeded fruity in an almost petit sirah way. A very unique wine that always gives something different. This bottle really sneaked up and surprised me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Too young again

Made a milk braised Boston butt from Brinkley farms. A delicious piece of pork from right down the road.

2002 Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode
I should probably keep my hands off of these, but I really like the way the lean, spice-box fruit shows right now. It is a bit tight and young and not as aromatically expressive as it will be, but I really like how the verve, snap, and tannin work with fatty food at this stage. I’ll try to keep my hands off for at least another 3 years, but this can certainly go for a long time. A great value in red Burgundy.

2005 Desvignes Morgon Côte du Py Javernières
OK, I’m pressing my luck with this one. I think it is finally starting to shut down. I bought a good bit, so I could afford to be profligate. No more. Hands off for 2 years and should hold for many more.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hands on, hands off

An old colleague from graduate school was in town, so a few of us who are still in the area met up at Rue Cler for dinner. I was boring and had Frisée and a steak. Worked out well though.

2006 Cá de Noci Vino di Tavola Notte di Luna
This was another wonderful showing for this wine. The non-geeks loved it as well which really puts paid to the idea that orange wines are only for geeks. I wish it were cheaper and more widely available for more people to enjoy. As it was, we did. No need to wait, drink up and enjoy.

2005 Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissée
Ordered off the list with the idea that it could show well, hell the Grézeaux does and I could check in without having to sacrifice a bottle of mine. Wrong. This bottle had no interest at all in being drunk. It was not expressive on the nose or the palate. It was well proportioned and structured and if you tried really hard you could coax out some complexity, but it is in no place to drink right now. Not at all. I won’t touch a bottle for at least 3-4 years.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Buying the back label

Back in yonder years, when I was a wee lad in wine retail, I used to tell people to "buy the back label" when in doubt.

Mike Steinberger of Slate has a nice article on the same notion, updated for the times.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In praise of the good

I was just over at Wine Disorder and was redirected to a blog post by my friend Eric Asimov. Although it contains that semi-infamous quote about La Tâche, I think the sentiment is one we discussed at length. The below captures the gist:

This business of favorites is tricky, anyway. People ask me all the time what my favorite wine is, or my favorite restaurant. I can never answer, because it all depends on the context. What am I eating? Where am I? Who am I with? What kind of mood am I in?
I think this is fairly similar to the post I made today about the good versus the great. Something that myself and like minded folks believe is that wine is like food, that is, it is an outgrowth of a place and time and should be part of the table, not a monument, not over fetishized (I mean, who can resist a little fetishism).

This isn't to say that I don't love Mugneret, Quintarelli, Giacosa or La Tâche it just means that there should be a sort of harmony on the table without anything having to try too hard.

I posted recently about a big, super-Chave dinner. I was happy to attend it but I would have rather enjoyed each bottle individually, or in pairs, over a long evening rather than the intensity of the super-tasting event.

Anyway, check out Eric's post he's making some sense.

Perfectly quiet Burgundy

Had a quiet and perfect roast chicken with my good friend Will at Rue Cler. I can always count on my brother to deliver the goods. I think sometimes we underestimate the value of very good wines, matched perfectly, with very good food over the GREAT. Sometimes the GREAT is the enemy of the pleasant evening. Everyone gets so worried about the great, they forget to enjoy where they are and who they are with.

1998 Chevillon Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges
Of the 1998s I’ve been working through, this is by far the most in the moment. It was surprisingly backward at first, but as it opened, you could feel the structure move towards the back of the palate. None of the off aroma issues that I’ve had with other Chevillon 1998s (particularly the Vaucrains). A focused, muscular, and darkly mineral spine held together the fruit and earth bound notes. By the end, this was spot on. Others might hold it for another 10 years. I say it could wait maybe another couple, but is good now.