Tuesday, October 30, 2012

That bitch, Sandy

ruined my trip to NY and Joe Dressner memorial dinner for Partners in Health (a worthy cause if you are looking for one) as well as the Louis/Dressner sort-of portfolio tasting.

Instead, you'll get some notes on wine that are not LDM.

My brother has had a hell of a year, so he wanted a quiet birthday. A few friends got together for some simple food and some kick ass wines. We had one of those nights, which we have been due mind you, where all the wines showed really, really, well. This is my first really excellent experience with 1996 red Burgundy and gives me high expectations for what remains in my cellar.

2006 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese trocken
This was soil inflected, classic and pretty. It didn’t have a lot of diesel or lactic qualities that personally put me off. It was very svelte and stylish and easy to drink. The minerals were of the clear brook variety and there was a smattering of riverside herbs and flowers. The fruit was the faintest white peach pit. A very good wine that we found in the right spot. Personally, I don’t see much more interest in short to medium term development. Those into the truffle thing would probably put this away for 15 years and maybe get there.

2008 Gilbert Picq Chablis Dessus La Carriere
From magnum. Evidently, a hefty proportion of this was bottled in magnum due to the quality of the vintage for this wine. Our experience here doesn’t disagree. This is quintessential Chablis. Although Picq doesn’t have the best terroir, he does have old vines and a very clean approach to presenting the wines. This was saline and mineral with seashells and rocks galore. There were hints of green apple and maybe a kind of theoretical tart melon that doesn’t exist, but that I can imagine. While I suspect we should have treated this more seriously, it was just so good that we didn’t stop to have any big discussion about it other than, ”Fuck!! This is good!”. This is ready enough for me right now, but should age gracefully and interestingly for 10-12 years, if not more. I suspect that it will develop that savory, chicken broth umami thing with a decade in the cellar.

2009 Pavelot Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Dominode
I’ve heard some folks saying that 2009s are showing well so I decided to check in on this one. While young, it is certainly enjoyable. A bit of wood spice frames some distinctly cherry-ish fruit. The structure is full, but not imposing, most likely due to the baby fat hanging on it. This comes across as a very sauve and classy Savigny, which should come as no surprise. This went relatively quickly as the first red of the night, so I didn’t have a chance to see if it closed down with air. If you have a good bit, I think it’s educational and fun to check in with a wine like this at this point.

1996 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny 1er Charmes
Wow, this is remarkable and much, much improved over my last bottle from 2007. This has a beautiful ruby color with only the slightest hint of turning ruddy. The nose is explosive and beautiful with layers of fruit, sous bois, and an umami type mushroom quality. The fruit is deeply pitched red pitted fruit, bordering on blue. It is long, deep and seamless. The palate is caressing and inviting, with the fruit rolling over it and leaving an aftertaste while the other nose hover like ghosts above it. The structure is such that it is a whole. The acids prop it up, the tannins hold it together such that it stands up to food and each taste clears your palate with your mouth watering for another. Maybe the best wine I’ve yet had from Ghislaine and in a beautiful place for me right now. It’ll be hard to keep my hands off at this point, but those that want more tertiary should probably give it another 5-7 years after watching how this has evolved.

1996 Edmond Cornu Corton-Bressandes
Leaner and more restrained than the Barthod, but still gorgeous. Again, my last bottle of this a few years back really wasn’t that enjoyable, but this bottle is a different story. There is a slightly smoky mineral quality along with spice and a woodsy, though not quite sous bois, note over top of the light red fruit. The tannins are noticeable, but very refined and fine grained. Like other 1996s, the acidity clears the wine from your palate and immediately demands another sip. I think this is on the early side, even for someone like me who wants some fruit remaining in his wine.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Amazing Sherry

No real notes because I was too busy having fun and catching up with friends, but I had several incredible sherries last night with Andre Tamers at Mateo.

The El Maestro Sierra Palo Cortado is among the best sherries I've ever had. Concentrated and weightless at the same time. A Burgundian trick. Also, the Amontillado 1830 and the Oloroso 1/14 are archetypes of their species.

The César Florido Palo Cortado was richer and a bit less graceful, but stunning and long (but only 600 bottles). His Fino is my current go to. Really a great wine-type-beverage.

The La Cigarerra Manzanilla Pasada was tangy, saline, vibrant, and long. Very cool stuff, but hard to find (well, all of these are). And of course the Manzanilla is its normal, delightful self.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Clos Guillot comes good

2009 Baudry Clos Guillot

Over the last couple of vintages, I really think that this wine has come into its own. This is undoubtedly the best vintage of this wine that I’ve had and I think shows the potential that so excited Matthieu.  I drank this at Vin Rouge with some hachis parmentier and the combination of a cool autumn evening was superb. The nose was compact but with fresh fruit and herbal notes and only a hint of a floral edge. The palate had excellent concentration of fruit with a very strong stone and mineral component. It really reminded me of the vineyard, which contains lots of limestone in clay. While this was young and intense and concentrated, the balance is impeccable. In past vintages, one or the other component would stick out, but this wine is seamless. As much potential as it has, it was delicious as a young wine (if you like that sort of thing). If there is any of this running around in your market (there is some on the interwebs, including Cave Taureau, shameless self-promotion) you should snap some up. This will be the first vintage that I buy this cuvée in cellar quantity and people say that the 2010 is even better. I can’t wait to try it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New content! Now with more Clos Rougeard!

Good friends Noel and Marie, with out of town guests Ben and Brian, joined me and a couple of others for an al fresco bacchanal at Vin Rouge. We supplemented bottles we brought with selections off of the excellent list.

We started with a plateau d’huitres. The perfect foil?
2010 Domaine de la Pépière Clos des Briords
From magnum. Piquant, vibrant and lithe, just as we’ve all come to love and expect from Marc Ollivier. I hope that we all appreciate the excellence that Marc provides at such a reasonable price. You could drink your bodyweight in this and still want more.

With assorted salads and appetizers.

2010 Jean Manciat Mâcon Charnay Franclieu
I have been drinking a ton of Manciat lately. It’s an interesting producer that often gets lost in the LDM portfolio behind Roally and Thevenet. The wines are different in style and from a different area than those wines, so liking one isn’t at the expense of the other. The Manciat wines rarely seem to be botrytis marked. They are balanced, refined and utterly delicious expressions of chardonnay. This magnum was a perfect complement to a warm, but not hot, southern evening. Yellow and pitted fruits with some notes of honeysuckle and flowers. Nice sense of grip from acidity. If you have the willpower, and I don’t, you could certainly cellar this for a few years and be rewarded.

Ben had never had a Rougeard Le Bourg outside of a trade tasting; that is, with some bottle age. 

1997 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg
This is more than an ordinary bottle for me. This wine, I purchased from David Lillie when he was still at Garnet. David had introduced me to the excellence of Baudry, Breton and others and also Rougeard. I was a graduate student at the time so it was hard to buy wines like this. David would always hold me a bottle or two of Bourg and Poyeaux for me to purchase when I could. Obviously, he didn’t have to do that, but it shows the kind of guy that we all know and respect. This was my last bottle of 1997 and it was a pleasure to drink. The palate is resolved, more or less. There are a bit of tannins that add grit and bite, but the tactile experience is mostly silky. There are tertiary aromas of tobacco, cocoa, earth interwoven with spice, cocoa and dried red fruits. I think it is a bit of a tweener at 15 years old. It isn’t quite a mature wine with nothing but savory aromas and bottle sweetness, but it isn’t in that first great peak of a wine where it still has fruit but its structure has basically found its adult form. Still, this is picking nits from a great wine from a great terroir.

2003 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny Le Bourg
To keep going with the #RougeardMania, we ordered this off of the list and had it decanted. I’ve had great experiences with the 2003 Le Bourg, but this was the best yet. Almost terrifying in its magnificence. 

1998 Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard
Fantastic bottle. Aromatically complex, fleshy, grippy and seamless on the palate. Fruit, earth, and minerals dancing with cohesion. Really triumphant syrah. If it doesn't have the wildness of Verset, it reeks of class and breed. I think this still has some development to go, but it is in a lovely spot now.

2004 Baudry Chinon La Croix Boissée
This was really hard to get my head around as it seemed shut down and a bit reduced. I get hints of the pure sour cherry mashed with herbs, tobacco and rocks, but it really is not expressive. The structure is still dominant with the tannin squaring off like the Maginot line, impressively engineered, but bound to give at some point. Croix Boissée can be such a tricky wine to catch in the right place and I haven't yet mastered that art, despite all my efforts. Since we've had enough wine and I am not really able to understand it, I returned the wine to its bottle and re-corked to try later.

Here goes nothing...

After years on the sidelines, I’ve re-entered the wine profession, albeit as a minority investor in a wine shop called Cave Taureau located in Durham, NC. The majority owner and managing partner may already be known to many of you. Noel Sherr was the manager of Chambers St. Wines in the early part of the last decade moving to Heights Chateau, Slope Cellars, David Bowler Wines, and finally Polaner Wines as a last NY stop before moving down here to NC. The other minority partner and I feel lucky to work with someone of such a fine pedigree who can bring a "real wine" sensibility to our area.

While we are focused on our local market, we welcome e-commerce and other inquiries. We will do the whole schnook thing of sending out emails, etc.

So like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, and check out the e-commerce site (not live yet).

If you'd like to be placed on our mailing list to receive offers, send an email to noel@cavetaureauwines.com . You can also send any inquiries to that address.

If you are local, we will have Eric Texier in the store Saturday October 27th for a sampling of his delicious wines.

What kind of idiot am I?