Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Maybe permanent, maybe not.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bourgueil and excellent rosé

Vin rouge with Centerba crew

2007 Alice et Olivier De Moor Bourgogne-Chitry
2008 Alice et Olivier De Moor Bourgogne-Chitry

This was surprising because I expected the 2007 to show more richness than the 2008 and it was the opposite. Calling either one big would be a mistake, but in comparison, the 2008 seemed fatter and plumper.

2007 Éric Texier Condrieu Janrode
Still showed well, but I would drink sooner rather than later. Eric is making the best expressions of viognier for my palate. This is not oily or glommy in the mouth and has beautiful floral notes on the nose instead of all that richness and lychee crap.

2002 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal
I’ve always loved the 2002 Breton wines for their dashing, rapier-like personalities. This comes in at something like 11.7% alcohol and has an unmistakeable mineral tang to the blue and red fruits. The finishing tannin have a chalky quality to them, but in a good way. This is starting to loosen and I think will be in a window for a while. I’ll probably drink my other 6 bottles in as many years.

1996 Pierre-Jacques Druet Bourgueil Vaumoreau
Druet’s best site and it shows. Still some fruit left at the core and still has enough structure that there is some grip, this has matured into a fine example of Bourgueil.

2009 Domaine Brana Irouléguy Harri Gorri
A pale salmon rose, the nose is somewhat brambly and jumps at me right away. I like the briskness with a hint of tannin. I take it that this is a blend of cabernet franc and tannat and it has a bark-like spiciness to it. This was the first time I’ve had this so far this year, but it won’t be the last. One of the best rosé wines I’ve had this year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad news for 2002 Beaujolais

In the past two weeks I have had both of the wines below and found them to be fading hard and losing their middle. I am surprised by this turn of events.

2002 Michel Tête Juliénas
Shot from the word go. Browning at the edges, dried out.

2002 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette
Upon first opening, the smell of the cork and the aroma right out of the bottle was promising. In the glass it was also hollowed out in the middle. Damn.

I’ve got a Desvignes Côte du Py on deck. If it’s toast, I’ll be pissed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Al fresco with saignée

These notes are very impressionistic and don’t include many wines that were sampled. This was from a really fun evening of dining al fresco with two guests from opposite coasts: Cory Cartwright of saignée and Sophie from Chambers St. It was a potluck of sorts and everyone chipped in with food and wine and general good spirits. The pork shoulder that Will braised was especially good. My braised short-ribs were subpar, like most of my exes, they needed more liquid and attention.

2009 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Riesling Senior Faß 6
Beautiful wine. Like rainwater with floral essence and stone pit fruits. Gentle, balanced, and composed. The Lauer wines jumped out at me the first time I ever tried the MWM portfolio and every bottle I’ve had since falls completely in line. Although I preferred the liveliness of the 2008 version, this wine is fantastic. Drink your own body weight fantastic.

2009 Reinhard & Beate Knebel Winninger Brückstück Riesling Feinherb
In comparison to the Lauer, this is a bit bigger and more fruit driven. I don’t want to give the impression that this was indelicate or imprecise in any way, it’s just in comparison to the ethereal Lauer. This showed more stone notes to balance the deeper fruit tones.

N.V. Equipo Navazos Jerez-Xérès-Sherry La Bota de Fino "Macharnudo Alto" Nº 18
So I’m working through some sherry these days in an attempt to get my head around it before heading to Spain in March. This is my second La Bota and it is an excellent Fino. Full of almond skin and minerals with the autolytic esters. I’m not sure that I like this more than the El Maestro Sierra Fino. It was hard to really concentrate on it with all the hubbub. I’ll try another bottle on a more quiet evening with a bottle of the Maestro Sierra for comparison.

1998 Mugneret-Gibourg Ruchottes-Chambertin
Whoa. This was totally outlandish. The nose stank of candied rhubarb. I’ve never smelled anything quite so singular. There were a lot fo other Gevrey type things going on including that sort of animal mineral quality that I associate with Gevrey wines. There was some leather, woodsmoke, spice, and cherry, but the rhubarb thing was so dominate it was crazy. This is texturally getting to a much better place than my last bottle in early 2009. Wow, I wonder where this is headed?

2001 Forey Echezeaux
This was a controversial bottle. There was a burnt rubber and gunpowder presence that overshadowed the nose that I associate with reduction, but that Cory and Will insisted was Brett. In any event, I was interested to see if the oak that Forey wines have when young would still show. It did. There were some brambly Echezeaux notes in there, but the reduction made it hard to get too. Oh well.

1998 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Now this has a diaper thing that I associate with Brett. On the downslope, I guess. Some faded grenachy fruit. Doesn’t peak much interest. Who cares, right?

2000 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Ghemme Collis Breclemae
Didn’t get much of a read on this. More delicate than the Pora. with a granitic note to the fruit. Some earthier elements coming out. Nice texture.

2001 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Riserva Pora
Leathery with dried cherries and earthy richness. There was a brothiness to the wine that had a distinct savory quality.

2003 Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux
Well, fuck me. In the midst of so many more important wines, leave it to a Baudry Grézeaux to come in and make you wonder why you bother with anything else. Pristine notes of black and red fruits buttressed by the inimitable stone and dark earth notes of Grézeaux. A mouth of fruit and gravel with a tangy snap. Showing really, really well. A different version than the 2002 from a week ago, but no less compelling.

2005 Edmond Vatan Sancerre Clos la Néore
Great showing. Rich, but not over the top. Nice to know Cory was suitably impressed by his run in wi9th this wine. I’ve said it many times, Vatan transcends grape and is a sui generis expression of Chavignol.

There were some other wines, but I cannot for the life of me remember them. More importantly, there was a lot of great food and conversation shared with great friends. Everyone should do this kind of thing more often. I mean, this is the whole point, right?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Late September through mid-October is a hopelessly busy time for my day job. Mix in a little health scare and, well, something has to give.

Fear not, I have a good amount of back notes, including Cory Cartwright's recent visit in which we battle to the death over Brett vs Reduction.

Keep the faith.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In which I drink Champagne

Ulysse Collin Champagne Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs
At the bar at Rue Cler having a salad frisée with a duck egg we were sort of tired from a long weekend of wine and food so wanted to keep it light. This was just the wine for that. Lots of folks compare Collin to Selosse and that’s not quite right. Vilmart is the much better comparison. I loved the hint of wood on the nose, it added a element of spice with a slight vanilla edge (but awesome Madagascar vanilla, not shitty extract) and was very reminiscent of mid 1990s Création from Vilmart. The mousse was mouthfilling and lively. Really a great bottle that went fantastically with food. Will need to check the vintage. Maybe Peter is right about this whole Champagne thing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Check it out

Even though you should subscribe to Champage Guide if you care about Champagne, Peter Liem will contribute to the World of Fine Wine blog. This is great news for those of us who value Peter's incredibly erudite thoughts about wine.

He also happens to have great taste in football.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brooklynguy made me think

In a very nice post, Brooklynguy (whose blog I’ve begun reading in earnest and I’ve linked to) brought up a point that I think many people miss about the purpose of cellaring wine. A wine cellar isn't just a trophy cabinet or a hoard of treasure. I've said before that it is an extension of your kitchen, a type of root cellar. There are many excellent wines that aren't true vin de garde, but are excellent accompaniments to food and really shine with a with a couple of years of cellaring. Once you start to think of wine in this way, I think it helps to develop a much more sophisticated appreciation for wine in general. If your wines for daily consumption are all of the buy-today-to-drink-tonight variety you'll be missing a whole spectrum of enjoyment.

Here is a short list of wines that are very reasonable that I have found to gain character with a little age (2-3 years post release).

Baudry Cuvée Domaine Chinon
Roilette Fleurie
Dom. Ste. Anne St. Gervais
Clos Roche Blanche côt
Gamot and Cayrou Cahors
Brovia barbera
Montesecondo CC
Felsina CC Riserva

Guillemot Mâcon
Roally Mâcon
All Muscadet from Marc Olivier, Luneau-Papin, Bregeon, Landron (see David Lillie's excellent article in The Art of Eating).
Hüet pétillant
Pinon Vouvrays

What are some little wines that you cellar?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Subscribe to the Art of Eating

If you don't already, you should subscribe to Ed Behr's excellent little wine and food rag.

In the current issue, David Lille of Chambers St. Wines, authors a warm and lovely tribute to Muscadet and the handful of dedicating artisans that bring such excellent wine into being.

David is a hero to the VLM-TR, even if he is a commie, and we'd love to see him write more often.

Dressner at 3cups

At a wine dinner at 3 Cups with Shawn Mead of Louis/Dressner

2007 Jean Manciat Mâcon Charnay Franclieu
This was exotic and wildly floral. Lots of ripe melon type fruit with honeysuckle type flowers. Some richness but not sloppy. This had an almost carnal quality to it that I found really compelling.

2007 Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé Tradition
Showed as beautiful as ever. Juxtaposed with the Manciat, it was more mineral, linear and restrained. Lovel yellow pitted fruits with maybe some apples in there surrounded by white flowers and some herbs.

2009 Domaine des Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais Cuvée l'Ancien
Plump and volumptuous with pitted fruits and berries. There is the typical mineral spine, but buried pretty deep.

2008 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette
An interesting counterpoint to the vivacious Brun. This was more aromatically complex and had a tart cranberry type of fruit on the nose.

2007 George Descombes Brouilly
This was really gorgeous. Drinking superbly with tons of aromatic expression and seamless texture.

2007 Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin
This was another surprise showing as I expected it to be really tight. The palate was a little firm, but the nose was a very Gevrey, animal, mineral, wet earth, dark red fruited concoction. Really interesting and well delineated. I have completely ignored 2007 Burgundy, but I might pick up some Esmonin.

2004 Domaine de Briseau Coteaux du Loir Les Mortiers
This bottle seems a bit faded from the last one I had. Still has the white pepper and ash notes that I associate with pineau d’aunis. IIRC, this has some côt in it which explains the darkish color.

2009 Clos Roche Blanche pineau d’aunis rosé
I get to enjoy more of this than is probably fair. Another lovely bottle of this excellent rose. It just feels healthy to drink this.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Puzelat of summer

With a simple dinner of salad frisée and poulet roti at Rue Cler with Damon.

1989 François Pinon Vouvray 1er Trie
This is broader and sweeter than the 1996, but still not a full on moëlleux. Has matured to take on some brown sugar and spiced fruits but there is still a bit of freshness and honeysuckle in the nose. On the palate it is balanced and full if not quite as linear as the 1996. No reason to age it further, although SFJoe would probably argue with me. I like where it is now, although it should at least hold.

2005 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Cuvée Domaine
After going through most of my 2004 and 2006 of this wine, it is time to start in on the 2005. It is a different beast from either of those two vintages. This is as rich and full a wine as I’ve had from Baudry. Savory notes over top of rich fruit with a full palate presence. Manages to hold it all together without being too rich but I must admit I was a bit surprised by the wine. Not in the mold of other vintages I’ve had. Damon thought it was great, as did our waiter. I’m still not sure what to think. I have the better part of 2 cases to figure it out. I mean, it’s Baudry after all.

2008 Thierry Puzelat Touraine La Tesnière
I just can’t get enough of this wine right now. I’ve been drinking bottles of it as Rue for the last month and they are now pouring it by the glass. This is a cruchy, herby, tart, mineral mélange of green fruits on the nose and palate. Refreshing, bone dry but not aggressively acidic the way that menu pineau can sometimes be. This wine is intriguing and almost too easy to drink at the same time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My dinner with Andre

My dear friend Andre Tamers had his west coast representative in town and had me along for dinner. Holly was charming, affable, and full to the brim with knowledge and anecdotes. It just so happens that we know about 600 people in common and it is amazing we have never met (although I think we must have at some point). Bravo to Andre for bringing her on board. I was doing more socializing than real analyzing so keep that in mind; however, a couple of wines clearly shone or disappointed.

Dinner was at Vin Rouge in Durham and Matt provided excellent food as always and Michael was spot on with wine service, again, per usual.

2007 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis
Clearly past it’s drinking window. These need to be drunk fresh. The rosé is also much, much better. This is one of those pleasures that should probably stay in France.

2005 Domaine Ganevat Savagnin Côtes du Jura Sous la Roche La Combe de Rotalier
I liked the 2002 of this a great deal and was eager to try this version. Didn’t seem to have the same tension as the 2002, but had good weight and length and that intensity I like from good sous voile wines. For my personal tastes, Ganevat is clearly at the top of Savagnin producers. I still have no idea how this will age. I know it will hold, but how will it really change? Will it be glacial? I suspect. I’ve never cellared these wines, I tend to buy them and drink them. I’d love to hear from anyone who cellars these.

2008 Ganevat Côtes du Jura Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien
I don’t get the hype. I guess it’s a nice wine, but would be crushed by Barthod or Mugneret Bourgogne.

2005 Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Clos des Briords 1.5L
This was a great showing by this wine. Maybe it will come together. I was worried that the vintage was too fat and would never shed that baby fat to become what we recognize as Briords. Contrary to that fear, if this magnum was a leading indicator, it seems to be doing just that. Becoming more focused and mineral, it also seems to have absorbed some of the fat and turned it into some yellow fruits. This will always be on the bigger side and won’t be confused with 2002 or 1996, but it could end up being more interesting in the medium term than I suspected. I have a 750 at the house waiting to drink and will see if this is a one off phenomenon or a portent.

2005 Château du Cayrou Cahors
Even though this is young, I liked it a lot. I have a soft spot for both this and the Gamot and I don’t know why. There is a kind of regal quality to their rusticity, sort of like a country gentleman, and a real sense of density and place. I am not sure what the signature terroir of Cahors is, but tis is the type of wine I think of. Dark and almost black purple, sauvage aromas of black and blue fruits enveloped in leather, tree bark and 14 hour hung game (top that Schildy). There is also a nice minerality underneath everything else. I should own some of this. Was not wildly tannic, perhaps due to the merlot in the blend, but drank well the following day.

1996 Vietti Barolo Brunate
Astoundingly disappointing bottle. Decanted for several hours, this never really opened up. Seemed a bit dilute, which do0esn’t make any sense given how it showed as a young wine and where it should be. Maybe it’s in a dumb phase, I don’t really know.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dressner at Poole's

A Louis/Dressner wine dinner at Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. Ashley made a hell of a meal to go with the wines and the staff, and especially Matt Fern made it a very fun evening. The wines all showed remarkably well. Must have been a Thai Stripper day on the Biodynamic Calender.

(2008) François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non Dosé
Nice mousse and a fine structure. Lovely bread and pitted fruit notes. Unapologetically bubbly chenin. Maybe lacks the depth of Huet, but this was clean, vibrant and superb, overall. The Pinon wines are such remarkably rock solid values.

1999 Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Le L D'Or
I tasted from 3 different bottles of this, two of which were brilliant. There was a mature depth to the fruit, a kind of bottle sweetness, and a real viscous sense of the earth. Probably the best experience I’ve ahd with this wine. The third bottle wasn’t corked or otherwise flawed. It seemed younger and also completely flat and innocuous. Almost like another vintage was mislabeled.

2008 Franck Peillot Roussette du Bugey Altesse de Montagnieu
The Alpine meadow strikes again. Frank makes such a lovely version of altesse. It is floral and yellow and gentle, but just when you think you have it figured out, it is something else. This wine is terribly easy to drink and graces the table rather well. The course here was an expertly fried chicken thigh over an okra hash. Everything was right with the world.

2008 Arianna Occhipinti Sicilia IGT SP68
This was the best showing for this in a while. It had everything I loved about this wine, from the startlingly pure and focused aromatics to the crisp and refreshing palate. I love the wines sharpness and cut, although I can see where it might be too acidic for some folks. This was served with some crazy ass carnitas dish over fresh butterbean and corn succotash style dish.

2005 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny Le Clos
This is great wine. For several years, I made the mistake of buying all the Poyeux and Bourg I could afford, but ignoring the Clos. In fact, the Clos (unsurprisingly) is much closer to the Bourg in comportment. While young, this was velvety and quite long. It needs five or so years and will probably drink beautifully for 20 or even more, but can be enjoyed with the right food by the impatient. With Piedmontese beef over a foraged mushroom risotto, one couldn’t ask for more.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gamay broth

Sunday chicken social with Will, Brad, Christine, and Vicky. Lively conversation mostly centered around music, but wide ranging.

2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon
On the first night, this had really rich fruit and an almost meat broth quality. Umami in wine, who knew? (As an aside, I always found it curious the was David Schildknecht would identify chicken broth in some Chablis, but it was sometimes there and a more beefy broth was definitely here.) There is pretty deep finishing fruit. On the next night it has calmed down a bit and there isn’t as much of the fruit sap and the broth quality has also become just a more general meatiness. There is some structure here, but not like one finds in Coudert or Desvignes.

2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon
This bottle never showed the umami side of the other bottle, but had plenty of fruit, although never as sappy. It did show a little bit of heat on the back end the longer it was open. The best of these two experiences was the first bottle on its first night.

2005 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette
It took a while for this to open, and it never did completely, but what it did show was a refined wine of some length. This has, not as brooding quality, but a steely one which brings to mind the iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove tropism. Very pure red fruits, some woods-y aromas and a strong mineral spine with firm but fine tannins. A good dose of them for gamay as well. Just starting to enter a good window

To go with cheese, we scrounged around Will’s fridge for some whites, we came up with some interesting wines.
2004 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese #14
This was fantastic. Really penetrating nose of green grape and slate and a bit of herbs. I love the refreshing briskness of the wine. I could drink tons of this. It was a very nice foil for the cheese.

1997 Gallo of Sonoma Chardonnay Late Harvest Style
Not bad at all. Not particularly good, but not cloying and with the cheese did fairly well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vin de Soif

Having dinner with my friend RJ who was packing things up before closing on his house and heading out to Seattle for good. Had a light dinner of apps and charcuterie at Vin Rouge. Excellent.

2002 Radikon Jakot
This is my favorite of the Radikon whites for reasons I cannot fully explain. I am of the belief that these, with exceptions, gain nothing from extended bottle aging I convinced RJ to bring out his last bottle. It showed OK, but a bit more loose than previous bottles. While still a very good drop, I’ve had better bottles.

2008 Foillard Morgon
When you are in the mood, nothing else will truly suffice. Again, this was not the best bottle of this I’ve had, a bit less overt fruityness (which was sort of what I was looking for) but still able to tickle all the right spots on my palate and even spine. If you don’t like this, you really need to ask yourself if wine truly is your beverage of choice.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carafe of joy

Every now and then I have a quiet dinner at my brother’s restaurant, Rue Cler, which allows me to relax and enjoy it as a simple pleasure. Dining with an old friend we were able to drink two fantastic wines by the carafe to accompany a perfect three course meal. Each was $17 for 500 ml. The whole meal was $94 before tax and tip. When my brother and his partner opened this place about 5 years ago, everyone doubted them, but look at what has happened since. There are 5 more restaurants downtown and more scheduled to open soon. Every now and then I get to sit back and be proud.

2009 Domaine de la Pépière La Pépiè Rosé
Of course Marc Ollivier has made a beautiful little rosé from cabernet franc. Maybe a bit more strawberry-ish than one would expect from this master of minerals, but a focused and delightful drop and perfect to accompany our first course. Does Marc ever make a misstep? I can’t remember one.

2009 Damien Coquelet Beaujolais-Villages
Holding a bit of CO2 which blows off after 10 minutes or so. This has a natural feel to it, but with a pretty wave of fruit with bones underneath. Delightfully unassuming with the meal which let us enjoy the food and conversation without intruding.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Assorted excellence

1999 Nikolaihof Riesling Steiner Hund
This was a couple of different wines during the evening. When it was first opened it was all rocks and seemed to lack density and had no fruit. I insisted to Michael that there was real density there, it just might take a little bit. It started to emerge about an hour or so later starting as floral notes and then becoming deeply pitched with fruit and hints of honeysuckle, all the while keeping it’s frame and mineral spine. A great wine.

1971 Huët Vouvray Moelleux 1ère Trie Clos du Bourg
This also did some neat tricks over the course of the evening. At first it tasted quite dry, which can happen with older Moelleux in my experience, and then started to sweeten up and take on more baked fruit and spices. It never got sweet, sweet, but certainly became richer and more interesting. A very fine wine.

1998 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays
I dropped this by the restaurant and had it opened 2 hours before dinner. That first nose upon opening was fantastic. Spice and earth around fruits in a heady perfume. Over the course of the evening it became diffuse and then hardened. Not really sure what to make of that development. I’m not sure that the future will make it better, but now is not a good time so I’d sit on it rather than open now.

1995 Gouges Nuits St. Georges 1er Les Saint Georges
This was a surprise bottle for me from Michael and was an incredibly generous gift on his part. If there is an argument for Les St. Georges to be classified as grand cru, then the wines from Gouges and Chevillon make the best case for that. Where one really gets the class of Les St. Georges is in the structure and mouthfeel. There is such a pristine quality to the tannins, they are fine and almost velvety but also completely frame the wine with a lattice structure. It’s a nice trick.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fantastic Mâcon

2007 Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé Tradition
I could have included this in the Beach Week Highlights, as it was one of those two, but I had another bottle with recent Durhamites Noel and Marie the other night over dinner. These wines continue to amaze me with their joyfulness and sheer charm. I think Macon chardonnay may be one of the most underrated beverages in the world. I can’t remember the last time I had a Roally or other Thévenet or Guillemot wine that I did not love. The 2007 version has beautiful sun kissed floral fruit with some weight on the palate cleared elegantly by the back end structure. I’ve had this with several different kinds of foods and unless beat over the head with spice, it has never failed to shine. I have an embarrassing admission to make: I haven’t been cellaring these wines. I buy them and drink them and then the vintage is gone and I have forgotten to put any away. That stops this year. I’ve had older vintages that have aged beautifully (although not as many as I would like) and will be putting a case of this up. You should do the same and enjoy it over a decade or more.

Bordeaux second wines

Are for douche-bags.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beach Week Highlights

Every year my family gathers from the far corners of the US to converge on the beach for a week, there is a lot of drinking involved. Some of the wine highlights.

2009 Clos Roche Blanche gamay
The first bottle was tight, more tannic and mineral but the second bottle was stunning. Stop you in your tracks gorgeous with layers of fruit buttressed by the structure and that whispy nose I get from CRB gamay that screams naturalness to me. This is a great wine.

2009 Damien Coquelet Beaujolais-Villages
Fresh, vibrant, and a great coif without any of the three bottles being particularly memorable.

2009 J-P Brun Beaujolais l’Ancien
The one bottle of this I tried was fairly tightly wound, much like the first bottle of CRB gamay. Given my experience with the synthetic closure I would drink this sooner rather than later and won’t be loading up.

2009 Pepière Muscadet & 2009 Clos Roche Blanche pineau d’aunis rosé
Yes & yes. Emphatically. Duh.

2009 Three Trees (Tom Lubbe) Côte Catalanes Blanc
This is a blend of rolle and macabeu, IIRC. I am a huge fan of this wine and I’m generally not a fan of white Rhônes and below. In fact, I’m pretty much a fan of all of Tom’s wines even if the labels make them look Australian.

2006 Sanguineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
A very interesting wine. Clearly sees a decent amount of time in casks of some kind as the color is a translucent ruby. Fragrant and elegant and almost willfully Victorian. A racous dinner with grilled steaks was probably not the best setting for such a wine, but I was so intrigued that I snagged the remaining bottle to take home and assess at a more leisurely pace.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A note on Sherry and freshness

My good friend André Tamers of De Maison Selections has been adamant about the issue of freshness and Sherry. He loves the joys of the beverage and is worried that many people are turned off to the joys of it because they get bottles that are simply too long in the tooth. He believes in this so strongly that he has had his producers of Manzanilla and Fino put the bottling date on their back label.

Manzanilla and Fino a wonderful accompaniment to all sorts of tapas and especially things like grilled sardines. It's dangerous for em to just drink it as a refresher because I'm likely to drink tons and get totally smashed.

Take some to the beach with you to have with shrimp. You'll thank me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Terrible (with a Sherry exception)


One of those nights where nothing tastes good. Well, nothing but sherry that is. Must have been a root out of your ass night on the Bio calendar.

2008 A Coroa Godello Valdeorras
I liked the nose. Seemed driving, yellow, and mineral. Palate was too flabby for me.

La Cigarrera Manzanilla
El Maestro Sierra Fino
Gutierrez Colosia Fino Elcano

These three were the highlight for me. The Cigarrera Manzanilla was its normal, briney, delicious self and was gone almost as fast as it appears. The Maestro Sierra is the more complicated and complex wine. There is a real vinous drive here. The Colosia Fino Elcano gets lost a bit in the middle of these two, but it is still a fine Fino. Sherry is delicious, especially with fresh NC shrimp.

2003 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Pignan
Disgusting. No redeeming qualities whatsoever.

1998 Eric & Joel Durand Cornas
Hollowed out and done. Poor.

2007 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico
This was fine, I guess. But I expected more from this producer. The merlot was really showing which took away from the enjoyment.

2005 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe
I had been really keen on trying this bargain Barolo and I have loved other Vajra wines in the past. Tonight it seemed blocky, and not in a Barolo way. Sort of all mushy whereas blocky Barolo will be stern and unyielding. Given how I feel about the producer, I’ll probably give this another try.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Excellent Fontalloro

1995 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Fontalloro

This showed really well. Coming together with nice secondary notes of leather, earth and a hint of underbrush. The fruit is desiccating but not completely gone. The tannins move from the front of the palate to the back and are very suave and almost unnoticeable with air. Went very well with barbeque. While this is ready to go now, it should hold and maybe improve in the medium term. I’m not sure that I’ve conveyed how much I liked this, if you have any you should try it soon. The interesting thing about this wine is how often I prefer it to the Rancia, not always, but quite often. Trying the 2006s side by side, the Fontalloro was head and shoulders above. I guess wood doesn’t really bother me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

LA Drinking

Dinner with old friends at a Cantonese place in Monterey Park. Huge spread of whole fish, lobster, prawns, suckling pig, duck, etc. etc. Amazing meal, great time.

2002 Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel 1.5L
Taking on a slightly golden color, it still maintains a sense of freshness even while taking on some weightier, more herbal notes. It still a sting of those yellow and green fruits, but a sort of softer mineral underpinning and notes of flowers and honey. It still has some structure, but only enough to hold it together, not so much as to hold anything back. I do not see anything to be gained by further aging, unless you just like old wine flavors, as it seems to be in a very pretty and balanced state for current drinking. My favorite wine on this occasion and I probably drained at least half the magnum.

2008 Melville Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir Carrie's
My friends had brought this back from a visit to Melville (which is a very pretty property with a nice tasting room and gracious folks). It is a bit high octane for me, but it wasn’t so far out of whack that I couldn’t enjoy it. There is a woodsy quality to the wine that makes me suspect whole-cluster fermentation, at least in part. The fruit was savory and not jammy, despite the high alcohol, but the texture was a bit thick for me. I’m happy to try these wines, but this would be tiring to drink and I’m not a buyer.

2005 Giuseppe Quintarelli Veneto IGT Primofiore 1.5L
While this was very good, it was a bit blockier than I would have liked. This had a real savory quality to the red and blue fruits. In fact, I think the fruits played second fiddle here. Maybe this will age into something a bit different because it seemed to close down towards the end of the night.

2008 Venica & Venica Collio Malvasia Bianca
I’ve missed the reliable presence of this producer in my market. I’ve always been a fan of the range, but have a soft spot for the seductive malvasia. Floral, spicy and almost raunchy it is a perfect fit for LA drinking. Seductive and a nice compliment to the food. I would drink this more often if I could.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


1996 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest
Pretty good. What I was worried might be oxidation, Eric clarified as something else, a bit of botrytis. That’s kind of interesting and I wonder if this is common in what people perceive as oxidized white Burgundy. Is all the later harvesting in the Côte d’Or contributing to rising levels of botrytis in the vineyards which the vignerons do not know how to handle? This led to a discussion of Thevenets wines and how they are able to manage the botrytis so elegantly. Always enlightening spending time with Eric.

2000 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest
A good bottle of this. Perhaps less bright and stone fruited than I would have wanted, but a good bottle nonetheless. I’d suggest going ahead and digging in. I think I liked this better a few years ago.

Is this what we’ve come to? I don’t mind drinking my chardonnay on the early side, I like the tension and the acids, but it seems to me that Chablis from top vintages from top producers need to be enjoyed for their youthful vigor rather than their tertiary qualities? If that is the case, maybe we’ll see prices drop to reflect this new reality.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Disappointing Truchot

These are some notes from last winter over dinner with my brother, my dad and André before the Carolina game.

2008 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro
Just landed recently and this most precious of Spanish whites is still a little clunky. Very one dimensional for a Rojo, but not surprising given it’s youth. There is some depth there and with some time, there will be complexity. Just not now. Try again in 6 months or so (I did and it is.)

2002 Domaine Truchot-Martin Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Blanchards
Started out showing pretty poorly so it was given a decanting. At the end of the evening it had started to open up, but was nowhere near the lacy, sappy wine that I had hoped to have. Bottles within a few years of release were lovely, so maybe this is just shut down a bit. I’m going to let the rest sleep for at least 4 or 5 years; although, given the recent run up in Truchot pricing, I might be forced to sell.

2006 Azienda Agricola Cos Nero di Lupo Sicilia IGT
This is a lovely wine. Fresh and lively with crushed berries and herby floral notes all over. This was sappy and vibrant and just delicious. You could drain an entire bottle and not even know it. Every bottle of Cos red I’ve had recently has been fantastic. Perfect foil for food as well.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Superior Valpolicella

With a friend at the bar at Pop's. Johnnie rolled out a nice thin pizza with all sorts of craziness on it.

2004 Monte Dall'Ora Valpolicella Classico Superiore La Stropa
I had a delicious, uncomplicated bottle of the 2006 Valpolicella recently and wanted to try the La Stropa, which is the more “serious” bottle. I didn’t pay tons of attention to it since I was dining with a colleague from out of town and we had a lot of business to attend to. Most definitely richer in terms of fruit and depth than the “regular” Valpolicella, but I’m not sure that it is more complex although it isn’t less complex. There doesn’t seem to be a structural reason to age it. I guess if you want to get rid of the fruit then do so. For me, it is spot on right now and seems like it has the balance to drink well for the next few years, at least.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ding dong the bitch is dead

Dinner out with my friend to celebrate the finalizing of his divorce from his whore ex-wife.

2007 François Pinon Vouvray Silex Noir
Very nice, correct and gentle for young Vouvray, but expected given the vintage. Interesting the difference between this wine and the Tradition. I wouldn’t cellar this for the long term, but drink it up over the next few years. Francois makes such lovely wines consistently every vintage, despute what weather is thrown his way. They are always marked by the vintage and he rolls with that and massages it rather than fighting it. Knowing the man, it fits perfectly with his personality.

1996 Hubert Lignier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Baudes
Like the Mugneret the other night, in an in-between phase, but still delicious after a couple of hours. I wish I had been able to open it much sooner, like 3 or 4 hours. It is notable different from recent 1996s from Mugneret and Barthod in that it is richer with more torrification notes, which is to be expected from Lignier I suppose. No overt wood, per se, but wood definitely played a part in the élévage. Some sappy dark red fruit on the nose with some smoke, cocoa, and espresso notes (the torrification) that don't dominate or overpower, but are still there. There is a jangliness on the palate where the acidity doesn't know exactly where to sit and shuffles about for a bit. This leads me to believe it either needs more air or better yet more time in the cellar. 3-5 years should do the trick and it ought to drink well for a while after that. Very good wine and my only remaining bottle.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Back in the saddle

Consumed with friends noshing on some stuff late into the evening.

1998 Müller-Catoir Haardter Bürgergarten Riesling Spätlese
My last bottle of this and I probably did it a disservice by not having it with food (I had brought it out of storage to take to J. Betski’s). That being said, it was delicious and although had started to have some brown sugar type bass notes to the normal riesling fruit compote. Has absorbed a bunch of structure and I like where it is now, even if I did like it better with more zip and other would like it better with more age. No sin to drink now, just be sure to do it with food, the wine deserves it.

2006 François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non Dosé
A bit looser this vintage than I remember from the previous (2004), which indicates lower atmospheres which is not a surprise given the warmth of the vintage. I quite liked this although not everyone liked it as much as I did. I rarely buy Champagne anymore due to the price and because there are producers such as Huet and Pinon that take such care in producing excellent sparkling chenin. I don’t see any good reason to age this as it doesn’t have the structure I normally associate with Vouvray Brut which improves with age. This would do very well at the table but we drank it without food.

2008 François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée Tradition
A delicious example of this wine from Pinon. In this vintage the total acidity was not off the charts, but the malic ratio was higher than normal, thus the perceived acidity is strong. You can barely sense the residual sugar, it is more of a background note than a demi-sec wine. Very good and should do well for several years or many, depending on what you like.

2006 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Cuvée Domaine
Quite simply fantastic. I can’t decide whether this or the 2004 is my favorite vintage of this wine. Unfortunately, I forgot to grab my case as I have been drinking bottles here and there and only have 3 or 4 left. This should be a case purchase every year for everyone. Really an astoundingly versatile wine that ages gracefully and grows in interesting ways over the medium term. I’ve been saying this for several years, but it bears repeating, Matthieu and Bernard Baudry are putting together as fine a line of wines as any vignerons anywhere. At the prices they sell for, they are a great bargain.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

32 Days

My post is up over at saignée.

Take a look and comment there.

There are several other fine pieces.

Will have new content tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hiatus almost over

If anyone is still out there this is an announcement that stating Thursday July 15 this blog will actually be up and running again.

Work and life got to stressful for a while back in February and as I am fairly ambivalent about blogging, I sort of let it pass. I've been planning on re-starting, but just couldn't find the little push that I needed.

Well, on Thursday I'll be participating in Cory's 32 days of Natural Wine and I figure if I'm going to give that SF hipster some content, I may as well start writing here again.

I'm going to try to commit to 2-3 posts a week. I think that is possible.

cheers, y'all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Donati Malvasia 2007

Very well could be Orange wine. As a poster on Wine Disorder said, it does have a beer-ish quality to it, but maybe more towards a dry Bordelet Cider that is on the older side. At first, I was just OK with it, but it got better for being in the glass. I really enjoyed my two glasses with a salad and grilled bone in pork chop. Worth checking out not just for the curiosity but for the pleasure. I really like all the wines I've had from Donati and they all seem to do well with food.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Even good wines can let you down

Saddled up to the bar with my friend Susannah to have a bit of wine and some food. We started with escargots and and finished with Cassoulet and hachette parmentier. None of the wines went with any of the foods. None of the wines showed particularly well either. Strange night.

2007 Cá de Noci Vino di Tavola Notte di Luna
Started out a bit cheesy, but once it blew off, became really pretty and floral. Lacked a bit fo structure. Decanted half into a small 500mL container. There did seem to be a divergence with the decanted half showing a bit more structure. Doesn’t have the breathtaking beauty that made me fall in love, but nice.

2000 Domaine de l'Oratoire St Martin Cairanne Haut-Coustias
I decanted this off the sediment for about 45 minutes then recanted it into the rinsed bottle. It showed very strangely at dinner. The structural proportions of the wine were very desirable. Still some acidity and tannins that were fine grained and noble. As far as flavor profile though, it was muted and didn’t show much of anything on the nose or palate. Maybe a bit of fruit here and there and a hint of licorice but nothing of real interest and did not really improve with or the experience of the food.

2006 Domaine Berthoumieu Madiran Cuvée Charles de Batz
Inky in that way that tannat can be. Not super aggressively tannic. I found it slick and somewhat flat with no real complexity. Even after decanting for a while, it still never got particularly interesting.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wines of the Year (2009)

In honor of Cory Cartwright, Wines of the year 2009.

And why not? The list is missing great bottles I had at friends’ houses or restaurants of which I don’t have a true record.

The very best:

1997 Weingut Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibenberg
Knoll has made some of the greatest wines I’ve ever had. This bottle was one of the highlights of my year. I’ve commented on this before, but strangely, I don’t own nearly as much of wines I love this much as I should.

1990 Chave Hermitage
Will turn out to be one of the great wines of my lifetime. Hell, it already is. Reconfirmed at a Chave dinner this year.

Best value:

2006 Montesecondo Chianti Classico
Silvio is getting better and better. I had more of this than any other single wine this year. The best value this year.

Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet
Marc is a god and a genius in my book. Tasting at his cave is always one of the highlights of my year. The 1996 and 2002 Briords deserve special mention, but it’s ALL great.

In no particular order except reds then whites, bottles for which I have a record that struck me as meaningful:

2001 Roagna Langhe Rosso
I’ve been through a case and a half of this over the last couple of years. Fantastic wine.

2004 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Cuvée Domaine
I’m smart enough to buy at least a case of this most years. This is the vintage I’m currently enjoying.

2004 I Vigneri di Salvo Foti Etna Vinupetra
The bottle I had this year was spectacular. Isn’t always the case.

1982 Fratelli Brovia Barolo Rocche dei Brovia
In many other years, this would be the wine of the year. Out of magnum it was sublime.

1989 and 1995 Chave Hermitage
Both pretty damn close to the 1990 in quality, but each different in style. Beautiful. A reminder of what Chave used to be.

2004 Domaine de Briseau Coteaux du Loir Les Mortiers
Good bottles are among the best pineau d’Aunis based wines I’ve ever had. Some variability.

1993 Ridge Monte Bello
A great cabernet and speaks volumes about the potential of these wines. Too bad no one is listening.

2002 Domaine de Bellivière Coteaux du Loir Le Rouge-Gorge
Still the best Bellivière I’ve had. Unfortunately, my last bottle.

1999 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Charmes
An excellent wine in a beautiful place. Probably my favorite Charmes I’ve ever had.

2006 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée
This wine did a complete turn-around after sitting for a bit. I was blindsided by it’s epic beauty and grace, despite the ripeness of the vintage.

2006 Cá de Noci Vino di Tavola Notte di Luna
A wine that I could, and did, drink at every opportunity. At least half the NC allocation. Not profound, but amazingly fun and flexible.

1999 Nigl Sauvignon Blanc Ernte
I went through the rest of my case years ago and this last bottle was a science experiment. It didn’t just hold, it turned into a precise cut diamond.

2002 Edmond Vatan Sancerre Clos la Néore
While the 2005 may become a great wine, this already is. Profound.

1996 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Häuserer
Linear and laser like and still fresh. I kinda wish I hadn’t stopped buying this wine. Better than any Trimbach I had this year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Excellent Napa Cabernet

Had dinner with my friend Susannah at Vin Rouge.

2005 Edmond Vatan Chavignol Clos la Néore
No longer painful to drink it has started to uncoil a bit, but there is still a sense that there is a ton of babyfat sitting on the structure of this wine. While this doesn’t have the linearity and precision of past great vintages like 1996 and 2002, it has an amazing depth. I’m not sure it will ever surpass those two examples (and really, who cares about splitting hairs among greats… oh wait, I do) but it has the potential to be a monument to Chavignol. Drink now to check in, otherwise this should age slowly.

1990 Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain cabernet sauvignon
This was a quite formidable and lovely example of Dunn Howell Mountain. Avoids all the roasted flavors that some 1990 Napa cabernet can display. This had more of the dusty tannin that I associate with Dunn Howell Mountain, as opposed to the 1991 which has seemed unexpectedly lush. This still has good fruit, some secondary cabernet aromas of forest floor, leather, and tobacco. I like the way this wine is showing, but it will certainly age gracefully for the foreseeable future. In terms of drinking window, I’d say it depends on your preferences in flavor profiles and structure. This is in a good place for me right now, if you wait you might miss the show.

2003 Ferrando Carema
This was showing really surprisingly well. I’ve heard about successes in nebbiolo from 2003, Levi Dalton is a proponent, but have yet to find any charm myself. Certainly a looser interpretation of the standard Ferrando Carema, a wine that is generally fine-tuned and crystalline. This was fruity in the way that Chignard Fleurie is fruity, almost lavishly so. It does have a bit of stoniness and structure, but it is mostly a happy delicious mouthful of fruit. No reason not to drink these now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Peace & quiet Grézeaux

Quiet Tuesday dinner at the bar at Vin Rouge. Started with rabbit rillets and then moved to rabbit loin with mushroom duxelles topped with seared foie gras.

2003 Baudry Chinon Grézeaux
The fruit has faded towards the background in this bottle, but the Grézeaux stoniness has become very prominent. Earthy and mineral on the palate with a bit of tobacco and maybe some dry, bitter cocoa (I hesitate to say that, but just a smidge, you know). Had a glass of 2002 Leoville Las Cases alongside this and the difference between spoofed wine and unspoofed wine is pretty clear. It proved an interesting juxtaposition of type. As for this wine, it seems as though it is starting to get into a period of change. I’ll probably not drink another bottle for a couple of years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Birthday blues

I was supposed to be in France this week. Sunday I would have been at Marc Ollivier’s and today at Clos Rougeard for my birthday. Instead, I’m at work. As it happens, I had these wines on New Year’s Eve with lots of oysters and an amazing veal chop. So I’m there in spirit if anyone is checking on my blog during the trip.

2008 Pépière Muscadet
Is there a better wine to wash down oysters (and clams for that matter)? I can’t remember Marc ever making a wine that wasn’t at least very good. The man really is a hero of the world of wine.

1997 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux
The regular Clos has been drinking well for a few years now, so I figured the Poyeux might be beginning to open up. To cut to the chase, no it isn’t. The nose begins to open up and it is very mineral and sort of Chambolle like, to put it in context, although with distinctly different scent profile. Lean red fruit with stones with a bit of wood influence still there. I tend to think that the Clos and the Bourg, because they are flat and on richer soil, tend to come around earlier, whereas Poyeux is on a calcaire slope, so it may stay leaner for a longer time. This certainly does not show at all like a hot vintage wine. I only have one more bottle and won’t be touching it for another 5 years, at least.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

City mouse, country mouse

My old friend and mentée Sophie was in town from her job at Chambers St. in the big city to visit family and us country folks. We put together some wines and I asked Matt, the chef at Vin Rouge, to put together a meal for us. Had I had this meal in 2009, it may have been my meal of the decade. It was the match or better of any meal I’ve had anywhere. The thought that went into the dishes to match them with the wines showed a real depth of understanding and intelligence.

2007 Pépière Granite de Clisson
Marc Ollivier is a fucking genius. Out of magnum and it still disappeared way too quickly.

2002 Domaine Ganevat Savagnin Côtes du Jura Sous la Roche La Combe de Rotalier
An interesting comparison between these two wines. This had much more aggression and “sherry” type character and was more what I was looking for. I guess I value austerity in these wines.

2002 Domaine de Montbourgeau Savagnin L'Etoile
Much rounder and less expressive. This is a slightly confounding wine as the 2000 was a much more intense and deeper experience. Not bad, just not terribly interesting.

1996 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées
Corked as hell. There is no god.

1995 Dugat-Py Gevrey Coeur de Roy
Clunky with that beet thing I’ve been getting from Dugat-Py recently. There was an intriguing mineral quality to the wine, but it was unbalanced and disjoint with drying tannins and no real purity or persistence. A great disappointment. I really think these are only impressive as young wines.

1999 Fourrier Gevrey 1er Cru Combes aux Moines
Showed the most concentration of any wine perhaps save the Ganevat, but without deep color or “extraction”. I think the best way to describe this is as sinewy. Tight cords of wine strapped together. The wine wasn’t particularly backward and did the best job of changing around as it opened. Had a profile I’ve come to expect from Combes aux Moines, with plumier fruit and a kind of earth/mushroomy aspect. I’m going to wait a few more years before opening another one.

2006 Ezio Voyat Chambave Rosso Le Muraglie
I had high hopes for this wine, but was disappointed. It isn’t that it was a terrible wine, it was just really bubblegum and obvious. Not what I expected at all. That didn’t change over the three hours we had it open.

1996 Pierre-Jacques Druet Bourgueil Fiefs de Louys
At one point, the nose was really intriguing, but I think this wine is past it’s best for my tastes, although others who like really old wines might like it in 10 more years. I liked it a lot more several years ago.

1994 Ridge Monte Bello
Surprisingly, this might have been the most complete wine at the table. Still, it didn’t show as well as a bottle of 1993 enjoyed in the last few months, it was richer but lacked the style and finesse of that wine. However, this is still a good bottle of cabernet that doesn’t stomp all over the food it’s served with. Luscious fruit with some hints fo American oak herbiness and a hint of vanilla that are integrated rather than sitting on top. I don’t’ think there is any point to further long term cellaring of this. It should drink well for a good 7-10 years. I’ll drink my last bottle in the next couple of years.

2004 Conde de Hervias Rioja
It was late and this was a bit woody, but not too much so. Still had some structure. Did really well with the venison. I might actually grab some of this to lay down, just fro shits and grins. I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t have any tempornillo in my cellar so what the hell.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Modernism doesn't always work

In architecture, design, and a bunch of other areas, I'm a staunch modernist. With Barolo, it's been more of a mixed bag for me.

2004 Domaine de la Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Muscadet
This bottle still has some nice driving minerals left. This is my last bottle due to the plastic corks and it didn’t let me down. A very nice accompaniment to a plateau fruits de mer. Really good cut and verve while noticeable mellower than as a young wine.

1995 Azelia Barolo Bricco Fiasco
I was hoping that this would prove to be ready to go. The combination of modernist and ho-hum vintage has worked very well for me with the 1993s. Maybe I shouldn’t have decanted. In any event, it started out with an attractive nose of deep cherries, flowers, smoke, cedar and a bit of spice. The palate seemed to have some voluptuousness to it. Well, we didn’t drink it for another hour and a half and during that time the structure really came out. Even the venison sausage could barely dent the structure. The nose remained pretty, but the tannin started to dry out the palate and the acids became disjoint. I told the guys to put the rest back in a bottle and try it the next day. It was my last bottle and I definitely missed the spot on it. I’ll let that be a lesson with respect to the rest of my 1995s. Hold for 5 more years or so.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Well, against my better judgment and advice from the boards, I went ahead and opened a 2005 Desvignes Morgon Javernieres. I thought that if I gave it a decanting for an hour or two and then had the bottle with a hanger steak at Vin Rouge, all would be well. Not exactly. Totally shut down. Hard. Do not touch for 3-5 years, I think.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wines showing terribly

Sorry I haven't been posting with regularity. Early January is a very busy time for me.

Sometimes wines are terrible, and sometimes otherwise decent wines show terribly.

2005 Brewer-Clifton chardonnay Seasmoke
Wow, chardonnay flavored vodka. Ken ordered this off the list just to see. We drank maybe half the bottle and that’s only because it cost so much and we were trying really hard. If people think these wines are balanced, they really don’t know shit about wine. If someone offers you a glass of this, it is an insult.

2005 Bruno Clair Marsannay les Grasses Têtes
I’d heard rumor that 2005s were still open and lush. This was neither open nor lush. Just kinda meh.

1995 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie
Lean and linear. Developed some OK aromatics, but more on the smoky and meaty end and less of the flowers and fruit. It never really seemed to open up from a textural standpoint. I think another 5-7 years would help it. Certainly couldn’t hurt because this shouldn’t have been opened.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Briords and Chaumes

With a bunch of oysters and then dinner with my friends Andre and Damon, once again at Vin Rouge.

2004 Pépière (Marc Ollivier) Clos des Briords
This was a magnum. Softer than this wine has shown from 750 in the recent past, which is a bit curious, but consistent with the other magnum I’ve drank. Had this with Bluepoint and Lockwood Folly oysters. The latter are from North Carolina and the comparison was interesting, if damning to the Blupoints. The Lockwoods were much firmer and briny than the Bluepoints. While this wasn’t the best showing for 2004 Briords, it was still very nice with the oysters and went down very easily. I’d say drink over the next year or two but the 750s have shown younger. Maybe it was the first try at bottling mags and they are more developed. I don't have an explanation.

1996 Domaine Robert Arnoux Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Chaumes
This showed much more Vosne qualities than the Reignots from the other night. More blue and black fruits with hints of spice and earth. There were still some mineral underpinnings and a decent hit of acid which helped with the freshness. I enjoyed how it showed but it could probably benefit from at least a few more years in bottle for the aromatics to completely unfold. I liked this better than that recent bottle of Reignots and it was a very good, though not great wine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Special report: 2005 Beaujolais

A special treat to make up for not posting last Friday. These notes are from Spring 2007 that I found while doing some housecleaning of old files.. Of particular interest is that the 2000 Brun l’Ancien was corked and the 2005s have become an undrinkable mess under fake cork. Puts the difficulty of dealing with this issue in sharp relief.

My tasting group gathered for our (more or less) annual Beaujolais dinner. This year the focus was on the 2005 vintage, a vintage thought to be the best since the legendary 1991. I'm in no position to dispute that as the tasting showed many wines with excellent density, structure and balance and a couple of surprises. We had a fantastic meal of hearty French fare put together by my brother and the staff at Rue Cler (if you are ever in the triangle, make sure to stop in for dinner). The thing that really struck me tonight was that some surprising wines like the Savoye, Chignard, and Diochon showed so spectacularly. The Savoye and Diochon look likely candidates for the cellar as well. Another smaller lesson is that it is time to start finishing off your 2000s. This was never likely to be a long lived vintage, so I'd get what's left in them now rather than waiting. This brings up an interesting issue about how much 2005 Beaujolais to buy. It is certainly a stupendous vintage that should drink well for 20 years (at least if the 1991 Coudert I tried in February is indicative of the future behavior of the best 2005s). I didn't put any 2003 or 2004s in the cellar and will probably be loading up, maybe not in blackwoodian quantities, but more than I've ever bought before.

2005 Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais Cuvée l'Ancien
Nice dark but translucent robe. Bright fruit and that crunchiness I associate with l'Ancien. An excellent showing tonight with plenty of stuffing, structure, and length. Clearly punching above it's weight class and as good a young l'Ancien as I can remember. At least one person thought this was the best wine of the night.

2005 Michaud Brouilly Prestige de Vieilles Vignes
Kind of a letdown after the rave reviews this has been receiving. Nothing wrong with it, but rather mute on the nose and out of it's depth in the company of many of these wines tonight. Best in terms of it's mouthfeel, but I expected to have more on the nose and a greater sense of style.

2005 Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Côte de Brouilly
This is really dominated by its structure today. Tastes of chalk and tannin and really doesn't show the seamless texture and fruit. Not sure what to make of it. I mean, I like the structure and the ascetic qualities, but I would like the promise of fruit coming into balance.

2005 Chanrion Côte-de-Brouilly
Tastes almost artificial in this company. Kool-Aid-ish and not terribly interesting.

2005 Clos de Roilette (Coudert) Fleurie
I've already had this several times, so I spent less time with it than maybe I should have. While it is no surprise that 2005 is an excellent vintage for this wine, what did surprise me was that I preferred the Tardive to this bottling. That almost never happens.

2005 Clos de Roilette (Coudert) Fleurie Cuvée Tardive
As alluded to above, this may be the first time I've preferred the Tardive to the regular cuvee from Coudert. I think because of the massive amount of baby fat they both have, it was the sheer expressiveness on the nose of this wine. Bought a case of magnums (cool!) and will fill my cellar with this spherical wine. Tons of fruit, as one would expect, but it was the clarity and poise of the nose that made this wine so dramatic. If I had a complaint, it would have been the absence of structure, but my guess is that it was just covered in baby-fat.

2005 Chignard Fleurie Les Moriers
This wine showed brilliantly and was another wine that exceeded expectations. Really sparkeled with fresh flowers, fruit, and rocks. It was mouthfilling, but not heavy and washed off the palate with fresh acidity, bright flavors, and nice structure. Not sure this will be a long ager, but should be a delight for the next 3-5 years.

2004 Vissoux (Pierre-Marie Chermette) Fleurie Poncié
This turned out to be a 2004 as well. Pretty much undistinguished, but I didn't put much effort into it either.

2005 Clos de Fief (Tête) Juliénas
A great vintage for this wine which a couple of folks thought was the best of the night. I seem to have a real weakness for Tête's wines. They have a really brash, deeply cherry quality that is tangy and deep without being too flirty to be taken seriously. There is always a dark mineral underpinning to the fruit and a purple flower quality tot the nose. No doubt at least a couple cases will make it into the cellar.

2004 Clos de Fief (Tête) Juliénas Cuvée Prestige
Turned out to be the 2004. To my palate, not a great year for this cuvée, but polished and graceful if a bit herby. Amazing how old this looks next to the electric 2005.

2005 Lapierre Morgon
This showed the most aromatic complexity of the low-sulfur Morgons without any of the unbalanced qualities that can sometimes plague this wine. Lots of ripe berries and herbs here and less structured than I would have thought. Again, covered in baby-fat I presume. I'm definitely a buyer, but maybe in small-ish quantities.

2005 Savoye Morgon Côte de Py
For me this was one of the big surpises of the tasting. Lighter in color than many of the other wines and more mineral and structured. Has a vinous quality that surpasses many of the other wines. While stern and serious, it still tastes like Morgon. It reminds me quite a bit of the wines of Desvignes. I do not know very much about this producer, but to my palate this was one of the 2-3 best wines at the table. I will certainly put some of this in the cellar.

2005 Foillard Morgon Côte du Py
This has an herb and seeded berry jam quality that I associate with this wine. A distinctive profile and the 2005 is no different. Lots of fruit and baby fat make it appear a bit simple, but delicious. A slight wiff of VA (this wine usually has some) makes me a bit wary of cellaring, but the potential is definitely there.

2005 Thévenet Morgon Vieilles Vignes
This wine was mildly corked. It seemed off at first, but it took a while for the TCA to become apparent. Too bad as the 2002 was the star of the dinner for that vintage.

2005 Vissoux (Pierre-Marie Chermette) Moulin à Vent Les Deux Roches
One of the most deeply colored and fruited wines. I've always found the Vissoux Cru to be stylistically quite different from the Cuvée Tradition. However, you have to give it it's due. It shows waves and waves of deep fruit over a bright granite slab. A delicious wine if not especially complex.

2005 Diochon Moulin-A-Vent Vieilles Vignes
This was the other big surprise. Really an excellent wine with herb and mineral infused fresh crushed berries, excellent length, and precise structure. I have developed a theory on Diochon, that the wine is ho-hum but in excellent years, it will be truly excellent (see the 1991 and 1995). Really, this was shockingly good.

2000 Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun) Beaujolais Cuvée l'Ancien
Corked. Damn.

2000 Clos de Roilette (Coudert) Fleurie
It was tough having these together with the newer wines. I had a bottle of this in September with my folks and it showed great. It looked tired (a bit of browning, but that could be the lighting as well) and showed it a bit. I'm planning on finishing off my remaining bottles over the next 6 months.

2000 Clos de Fief (Tête) Juliénas
See above. Also tired, although maybe a bit more spine left than the Coudert.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Atypical in a good way

Over dinner with my friend John at Rue Cler. Most of the time, I want wine to have typicity, an admittedly elusive idea. Both of these wines weren't typical but were still interesting and enjoyable.

2007 Conti Sertoli Salis Chiavennasca, Raccolta Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT
This is 100% nebbiolo pressed off the skins and made as a white wine. If I had to drink it blind I would be hard pressed to figure out the grape. Sort of rolle like but with a bit of pinot gris thrown in and a distinct musky spiciness. I don’t want to make it sound too low toned, because it was upbeat and fruity in a kind of lemon drop way. Interesting wine that I could make a habit of drinking.

1996 Domaine Robert Arnoux Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Reignots
Atypical for Vosne, this has a very tangy and driving mineral nose. Something I might expect from a Chabolle like Fuées. It’s also fairly lean on the palate with the fruit veering towards the red, a cranberry type of thing best describes it. Never really becomes silky and sauve, but is still interesting and enjoyable. A rather severe wine for Vosne. Time might sort some of this out. I guess give it a few more years.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wines that are a bit crazy

From another fine dinner at Vin Rouge with old friends.

2002 Foreau Vouvray Sec Clos Naudin
Not quite into focus as of yet, but rounding into something interesting. I like these wines when they reach a stage where they still have some useful vigor, but aren’t downright painful. This still has nice fruit notes of apple with a dollop of honey, as I’ve found common with Foreau sec at this stage. What I love about the Foreau Vouvray, and the sec especially, is the rusticity of chenin, the wild aggression, and the sense of abandon. In general, I tend to prefer the sec from Foreau and the demi-sec from Huët if I were to compare which is totally unnecessary, but a fun exercise. Fun to check in on now, but will sure age well for my lifetime.

2002 Radikon Venezia Giulia Oslavje
While there were evidently rains in 2002, I’ve found this to be even more successful than 2001 and 2003 for the most part, although it really depends on the bottle and the circumstances. I have a friend who prefers this blend to the other single variety flavors from Radikon. I like this very much as well. I always enjoy introducing these wines to friends who haven’t had them. I’ve generally found that folks really like Radikon in particular. This was another case of that. Served with rillets, this was a perfect compliment. Sometimes folks serve these wines with fish course which Ii think is a terrible idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if it contains the same chemical compounds, due to the skin contact, that makes red wine taste odd or metallic with fish. In any even, another excellent Radikon. I simply can’t drink enough of these wines. I’d drink a couple a week if I could afford to.

2001 Conti Sertoli Salis Valtellina Sforzato Canua
I’ve always been a fan of this wine, but often don’t know what to do with it. Should it be a wine for contemplation to enjoy after a meal with some salty, hard cheese, or should it go with a rich stew of some sort? Actually, either of those would do, but I think the food choice needs to be particular as I don’t find this wine to be very flexible. That said, it was wild, rich, heady, and delicious. On the young side, I’d wait a few more years before opening one.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Unheralded excellence

Over dinner with my friend Ryan at Vin Rouge.

1999 Mugneret-Gibourg Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots
This was a spectacular bottle. Of the 3 I’ve tried from my stash, all have shown amazingly well even tasted years apart. Seems to be a very Vosne expression of Nuits. Elegant, silky, with very seductive fruit and spice elements. Finishes very polished and long with non-obvious structure. I think this wine often gets underestimated in the Mugneret line-up. Should age gracefully for 15 years or more, but is balanced and fun to drink now.