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.