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.