Archive for December, 2012
Last night was yet another wonderful opportunity to try some wines with a little bottle age to them. Here are some of the highlights.
On this night we had the opportunity to try THREE 2006 red Burgundies side by side. We started the trio with a Premier Cru from one of our all time favorite Burgundy masters, Robert Chevillon. While this house has quite a stable of Premier Cru holdings, we find Roncieres to be something unique. This roughly 1 hectare vineyard is contiguous to Pruliers in the southern part below the village. While it typically does not show the nobility or refinement of Les St Georges, Cailles or Vaucrain, it does display a musky, intriguingly rustic edge we like. On this night the 2006 was the most open & showy of the 3 with wonderful perfume, interesting-ness & class. It also was the most open palate wise too with a seamless-ness & completeness from beginning to end. The 2006 is a really pretty wine.
2006 Bouchard Pere & Fils Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvee Carnot”
The Bouchard family, under the Bouchard Pere & Fils label, have quite a portfolio of stellar vineyard holdings up & down Burgundy. I was surprised to see that they actually own roughly 7.7 acres in this prime Premier Cru vineyard of Volnay. The 2006 was quite understated & much more delicately nuanced than the previous Chevillon wine, but still had the pedigree of Premier Cru. I loved its enticing, more alluring perfume & how ethereal it seemed on the palate. I think this will be a very pretty wine with some more bottle age.
2006 Lucien Boillot Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cru “Cherbaudes”
Cherbaudes is a small Premier Cru vineyard, adjacent on one side to the Grand Cru, Chapelle Chambertin and across the road from 2 other Grand Crus–Mazis Chambertin & Charmes Chambertin. It typically is for me the most interesting from the Lucien Boillot stable of Premier Crus. As expected it is quite masculine with bravado (at least for a Pinot) with lots of musk, earth characteristics & a harder, firmer structure than the 2 previous wines. This one has a ways to go before really showing something.
2002 Frederic Magnien Morey St Denis Premier Cru “Clos Baulet”
I think this wine will win alot of friends because of how showy it is. The nose just jumps out of the glass with ripe fruit, humus, spice & sandalwood nuances & continued to open up with air time. On the palate the wine had surprisingly richness & loveliness. There is quite bit of oak here, but with the 10 years of bottle age, it seems to have gotten very well integrated & really frames the wine well.
Yes, this iconic Meursault master produces a little RED wine too, which he has since been grafted or replanted this parcel over to Chardonnay. As idiosyncratic as his white wines maybe, this RED Burgundy is too. I love its absolute delicious-ness & its sheer, juicy, vibrant red fruit with has all kinds of earthy, sandalwood, Asian spice undertones. It may not be Grand Cru, but it sure is a delicious drink!!!
1996 Anne Gros Chambolle Musigny “La Combe d’Orveau”
There were high hopes & anticipation for this wine. It, however, was completely shut down. Even the 45 or so minutes of decanting/glug glugging it did NOT help….at all. There is still alot of fruit to its core & all of the pieces seem to be in place. One just needs to be patient.
I have had some of Juillot’s Corton Charlemagnes in the past, but that’s about it from this producer. Like the 1996 Anne Gros before it, this 1996 was also shut down when the cork was popped. After much decanting, however, it turned out to be a very pretty, ethereal, light Pinot which was wonderfully delicious.
I have been quite pleasantly surprised with some of the 1997 Champy wines we have been fortunate to taste recently. They are light & pretty with a wonderful ethereal-ness, which I find captivating. I couln’t say these wines are Vin Garde….BUT I found this one quite stunning, pretty & me wanting to go back for more & more. It is definitely Grand Cru in breed, just done in a very feminine, lighter style.
Here is a yet another bunch of older wines we sampled in VINO.
2001 Arnaud Ente Meursault
Arnaud Ente is a relatively “new” star in Burgundy, where there are many stars, & lots of them coming from multi generational estates. He wasn’t one of the fortunate to inherit vineyards & has instead had to work hard, buy grapes & buy parcels as he goes along & when he can afford to. He is never the less, one heck’uv a winemaker with brilliance, passion & dedication & his wines show that. The 2001 Meursault AOC is very captivating–wonderfully& quite ethereal, minerally, majestically perfumed, so tasty & invigorating, all done with class, seamlessness, impeccable balance & brilliance. It really is drinking beautifully right now.
2001 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino
Biondi Santi is the most revered name in this appellation & deservedly so. In 1888, they released the first Brunello di Montalcino, after having aged in oak for 10 years. They have since certainly put Montalcino on the world map for top echelon red wines. This 2001 wow-ed me with its majestic-ness & surreal character, & even more so because it has done so in a style of its own. The wine has layers upon layers of complexities–dark character, quite masculine, with roasted chestnuts, refined leather, coffee, dried fruit, sandalwood….& the list goes on & on…..to the point I don’t recall ever smelling something like this before. It truly was mesmerizing, remarkably, effortlessly so….. and I therefore have been thinking about it for 2 whole days! Boy was this a wine.
2005 Guigal Cote Rotie “Chateau D’Ampuis”
I love Cote Rotie. It is one of my favorite wines of the world. It all started for me back in the 80’s with the wines from Marius Gentaz of Gentaz Dervieux, who sadly retired I believe with the 1992 vintage. This 2005 Guigal is a far cry from those wines….as it is VERY showy, flambuoyant & loud, bordering being a “fruit bomb”. It just explodes out of the glass with dark cacao, coffee, all kinds of roasted smells & not only fills the mouth, but actually coats the palate with amazing richness. I know there are alot of wine lovers out there who will go gaga over this contemporarily styled Syrah.
1997 Domaine Laurent Charmes Chambertin
I am not that familar with this domaine & its wines. The 1997 took 1 1/2 hours to really start to finally open up. It was oozing with fruit, so juicy & surprisingly ample, forward….AND certainly Grand Cru in quality….with a really long finish. As a nitpicking comment though, there was a gap between the mid palate & the finish where there was not enough fruit, & the acidity was therefore quite pronounced.
1999 Robert Chevillon Nuits St Georges 1er Cru “Les Perrieres”
I have been an avid fan of this domaine & its wines for quite some time. They produce VERY refined, sheer, elegant, intricate, classy Pinot from a number of the top crus of the Nuits St Georges appellation. I was surprised that the 1999 was so shut down when the bottle was first opened. All of the components, however, are there. One just needs to be patient.
2004 Berthau Chambolle Musigny “Premier Cru”
This small domaine produced very pretty, wonderfully pefumed, captivating, delicious wines once open a time. I love the profuse cherry nuances which comes out in all kinds of different shapes & sizes. I in fact feel like I can do a whole study on cherry nuances with this wine. The 2004 is drinking gorgeously & brings a smile almost immediately. I wouldn’t say it is classically Chambolle Musigny……more like deliciously Chambolle Musigny. CAUTION: FYI–the wines can be rather hit & miss, however, now that the son has taken over.
1985 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape
This domaine is my absolute favorite Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer, which has proven themselves over the years for pereninnaly producing terrific, intriguing, unique, soulful red wines with lots of character & breed. The 1985 has a distinct stoniness…like sun baked stones….with coffee grind nuances, leather, humus, white pepper/spice, musk, pan grille & a real roasted quality. I was really amazed at how youthful this 1985 tasted. & its remarkable youthful vigor & vitality still found in its core.
What a terrific wine!!!!….which clearly reminded me why I love Cote Rotie so much. Yes, it has all of the roasted character, stones, leather, pepper, bay leaf & multitude of nuances which just kept unveiling itself as the wine blossomed with air time. The piece de resistance for me, however was the true & majestic pedigree, savoriness & grandeur this wine effortlessly displays…..at 30 years old. This is certainly a wine I will remember forever….it was that good!
1983 Chateau D’ Yquem
I was first taken back somewhat because of the golden-ness this wine had in color….BUT then I remembered it is 30 years in age. AND, because of that age, the wine’s youthful apparent sweetness had radically changed to all kinds of textures & layering in the wine. The nose was honeyed, full of dried apricot, beeswax, stones, lanolin & complexities which just kept opening open seemingly with every swirl of the glass. I was also amazed at how long the finish was. Really…..what a treat!!!!!!!
Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s most prized red wines & can trace its roots back to the 14th Century. The small medieval village of Montalcino is set at roughly 1850 feet elevation in the Siena province of Tuscany. The many sites vary in soils & includes limestone, clay, volcanic & marl, which all can result in very different wines. By law the sole grape variety permitted is Brunello (Sangiovese Grosso).
In 1888, Ferrucio Biondi Santi released the first modern version, after the wine spent 10 years in oak barrels. Since then, until very recently, the number of wineries grew slowly……in the 1960’s there was but 11 producers….1980–53…& in 2000–over 200.
In 1967, the Brunello di Montalcino consortium was founded by 17 producers, who were set on making standout wine. In 1998, the laws included at least 2 years in oak & 4 months in bottle prior to release.
In 1980, Brunello di Montalcino was designated as Italy’s first DOCG, a category created by the government as an attempt to regulate & ensure better quality wines. Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti & Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was soon to follow.
There are at least 2 distinct “sides” in Montalcino…the northern slopes, which is cooler (more acidity & aromatics) & the southern slopes which produces wines with much more power.
Tonight in VINO, we tasted THREE standout 2003 Brunello di Montalcino side by side.
2003 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino
Pacenti is one of the vanguard producers of more modern styled Brunello. Giancarlo Pacenti noted he felt Brunello made using more traditional methods did not have enough color or structure. He therefore lower the yields & changed the farming of his 50 acres, rethought the winemaking, plus decided to use French barrique for aging. The resulting wines, however, still thankfully smell & taste Italian. Furthermore, this 2003 was VERY refined, classy, elegant, very intricate & finely detailed. Most impressive.
2003 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino
The soil in this estate has much more marl to it…at 250 meters elevation. The wine is more masculine in style than the Pacenti…..with deeper, base notes…..but still very Italian & aristocratic. I was surprised to discover this 2003 spent 28 months in 600 liter French oak barrels, as it isn’t blatantly oaky….but after thinking about it, this totally makes sense because of the framing of the core & the rounder texture.
2003 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino
This estate has been around since the 1700’s, which is very old for Montalcino. Lisini was in fact one of the 17 wineries who founded the Brunello di Montalcino consortium in 1967. The property is 160 hectares in size of which only 49 acres in planted to vineyards at roughly 1000 feet elevation in tufaceous soils. Today star winemaking consultant Giulio Gambelli oversees the project. The 2003 spent 36 months in Slavonian oak (11 to 40 hectoliters in size). This was certainly the most showy/dramatic of the 3 Brunellos with a black shoe polish color. It was deeply flavored, very masculine with ripe, gorgeous fruit, a big, structured frame (with no apparent sharp edges, hardness or excessive alcohol evident) & a long finish. Nonetheless, nothing shy or demure here.
Last night was one of our friend’s 50th birthday & as one would imagine there was a bevy of older wines opened in the celebration. Here are some of the highlights.
1999 Francois Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Genevrieres”
We have been really fortunate to taste a whole slew of older Jobard wines in the past 18 months. They have, without a doubt, been quite the revelation as each have been a truly incredible experience …..that is if you like mature, old style white Burgundy. Eventhough this was a 1999, it seemed like a baby–still very youthful in its core, surprisingly tight fisted & unyielding. It really was a glorious, aged Chardonnay nonetheless, which just kept opening up with additional air time.
Michel Colin has been one of our favorite Chardonnay producers in the world for quite some time…..& this wine clearly reminded me why. It too was fabulous,….much more open & mature than the Jobard….still though showcasing incredible complexity, finesse, pedigree & a truly masterful winemaking touch
2004 Colin-Deleger Chevalier Montrachet
Michel is semi-retired now & is only producing 4 single vineyard wines with the crown jewel being this Chevalier Montrachet parcel. To me Chevalier Montrachet translates into wines of more finesse & refinement than most of the other white Grand Crus. AND, since Michel Colin’s style to me is much more about purity, transparency, finesse, class & style, this combination is a match made in heaven.
2002 Coche Dury Volnay Premier Cru
Coche Dury is world renown for producing some of the grandest white wines on the planet & because of that, their red wines often get overlooked or are under appreciated. While their whites are very profound, showy & seemingly chisled out of rock, their red wines tend to be more about elegance, ethereal-ness, stylish-ness, seamless-ness & suave-ability. I suggest you hold off on the 2002 right now, as it is closed down.
2001 Armand Rousseau Charmes Chambertin
One of the true masters of red Burgundy. Although the 2001 was also shut down & unyielding, there is NO doubt this wine is Grand Cru & deserved of its highly revered reputation. Oh my goodness!!!!! Total breed & pedigree with lots of intricacies & layering. I liken it to a treasured painting where the artist features timeless-ness, remarkably fine detail & intricate workmanship, yet making it his own without any clutter or overdone-ness. GREAT stuff!!!!!!! Just needs more time to resolve itself. The price tag for this wine is high & one could only dream to have a cellar well stocked with wines from this great Domaine.
1999 Domaine Maume Mazis Chambertin
Domaine Maume is a small domaine located in Gevrey Chambertin. Their style of wine is much more masculine, bolder, rustic & old style and full of character & pedigree. I find their Pinots to have a musk/pheromone quality along with an everchanging layering of earth, forest floor, raspberry/dark cherry, & sandalwood nuances. This 1999 was really strutting its stuff & was mesmerizing & so captivating in a very old style way. It’s certainly not for everyone, but sure rang my bell.
1982 Chateau Cos d’Estournel
The 1982 vintage was one of the most hyped vintages of all time for red Bordeaux, so there was much anticipation for the uncorking of this bottle. True to its St Estephe appellation origins, this wine was very earthy in character & quite masculine in style. I believe, however, this wine should have been decanted a few hours earlier so it had a chance to open up & better show its Second Growth pedigree rather than just the ripe, profound fruit & power of the 1982 vintage. Still, this is without a doubt, a true standout performance from this highly esteemed Chateau.
First of all, I must say, a Magnum of German Riesling is quite impressive to see. …..especially when it has the Fritz Haag name on it. This 11 year old Riesling was gorgeous & glorious. The apparent sweetness had begun to change to a more tactile creaminess on the palate. The minerality is again shining gloriously through with seamless-ness, surreal breed/pedigree & completeness from beginning to end & an utterly amazing long finish. I am always blown away at the wines from this iconic winemaking master & here is another example of why.
The world of Californian Pinot Noir is really changing. There is a whole, now generation of young winemaking phenoms which have stepped forward into the lime light & are being embraced by the wine media, sommeliers & wine professionals around the country. Here are few AND a few of the Old Timers, which you may not have heard of before.
This is a relatively new wine group, which is just now being discovered & highly lauded by the major wine press. Their current focus is on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & a smidgeon of Gamay Noir…..& their vineyard sources is quite comprehensive & includes sites in Oregon, Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara & Burgundy. Their star studded winemaking team includes Sashi Moorman for California & French winemakers Isabelle Meunier, Christophe Vial & Dominique Lafon for Oregon & Burgundy.
To simply their many wine labels, they have recently colored coded the labels…BLUE for “regional wines”…..Silver for “Village” wines…..Gold for what they think is equivalent to “Premier Cru”….& White for what they think is equivalent to Grand Cru…..whether the wine is from any of the 4 general areas where they source/grow grapes.
It may seem confusing to most at first, but as you get used to their labelling color scheme, you will see what’s in the bottle is worth checking out on all levels & price points.
Wind Gap is the wine project of winemaker Pax Mahle. Pax made quite the meteoric rise to stardom with his dramatic, hedonistic, monumental red Rhone varietal wines under his Pax Wine Cellars label. When he parted a few years back, he went on to found Wind Gap, a wine project seemingly more focused on Chardonnay & Pinot Noir (in addition to other grape varieties) which were done in a much more refined, elegant, LOWER alocohol/extract style. (Pax has since gotten the Pax Wine Cellars label back, but that’s a whole ‘nother chapter in his saga). This particular 2009 Pinot Noir is a blend of 2 Sonoma Coast vineyards–Gap’s Crown & Griffin’s Lair, which is roughly 12.5 alcohol.
Over the past few years, business enterpeneur, Peter Knez purchased 2 side by side hillside vineyards (Cerise & Demuth) on the eastern hills of Anderson Valley above Booneville. Where the Anderson Valley is getting quite alot of recent hype for its vast potential for producing top notch Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, Knez instantly became a real player with the acquisition of these 2 highly revered & proven vineyards, along with his hiring of winemaking phenom Anthony Filiberti (of Anthill Farms) to run his operation. It is a wine project to watch.
Brothers Jim & Bob Varner oversee the Spring Ridge Vineyard located in the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA (actually located high above Stanford University’s golf course). Starting in 1980, they have planted 3 parcels to Chardonnay (Home Block, Bee Block & Ampitheater Block)…& 3 parcels to Pinot Noir (Hidden Block, Picnic Block & Upper Picnic Block). Currently 4 wines are labeled Varner (3 Chardonnays & 1 Pinot Noir)….& 4 wines (3 Pinot Noirs & 1 Chardonnay) for the vineyard’s owner Neely. each of these wines are getting crazy kinds of ratings & accolades.
Samsara is the wine project for Chad Melville…….dedicated to small batches of Pinor Noir & Syrah grown in some very interesting vineyards down in Santa Barbara. Chad’s wines are masculine & remind me of a thoroughbred, though very provocative, seamless, sopshisticated & layered. Since Chad works the vineyard for his family’s Melville winery, I think this is his way of showcasing his vision of wine from vineyard to winemaking.
Winemaker/owner Thomas Brown is probably best known for his winemaking of Napa Valley top echelon Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Schrader, Maybach, Casa Piena & Outpost, just to name a few. Interestingly his own label, Rivers Marie, would be, at least intially, focused on Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It wasn’t that long ago, that Thomas & his wife purchased the iconic, much heralded Summa vineyard out of the true Sonoma Coast, which now forms the base for his Pinots. In a recent side by side tasting alongside some of the Pinots in this blog, the Rivers Marie Pinots have much more viscosity/thickness, which stood out among their peers, along with their rich, lovely, charming nose & mouthfeel.
There is no doubt, Jason Drew is crafting some of the most lovely, delicious, seductively textured Pinots out of California today. This particular bottling hails from Burt Williams’ (THE Williams of the original Williams & Selyem) Morning Dew vineyard up in the Anderson Valley. This is a really good place to start if you had not have had one of Jason’s wines!!!!!
We first met this trio of young winemaking bucks at a Russian River Pinot Forum several years ago. Their Pinots REALLY stood out amongst at this star studded gathering of Russian River/Sonoma Coast/Anderson Valley Pinot Noir makers. The wines are lovely & well textured with a real delicious-ness. We now look back & feel so fortunate to having found them before all of the high accolades & cult-like following which has since developed for their wines.
This is a small, relatively unknown wine project featuring the immense talents of highly revered vineyard-ist, James Ontiveros & former Alban assistant winemaker Paul Wilkins. While their Native9 Pinot Noir gets all of the accolades & high praise (& deservedly so), their Alta Maria wines offer sensational quality for the dollar. This 2009 Pinot Noir, for instance, has some 39 year old N Block (Bien Nacido vineyard) Martini clone in the blend. Besides wonderful vinosity, this wine has superb character, texture & balance.
Although this is not a “new face”, Costa de Oro is grossly underrated & relatively unknown & I would be remiss therefore if I did not include them in this blog, because their wines are that good! The estate vineyard is located on a mesa 5 minutes closer to the ocean from Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. The main Pinot clone here is Martini, with the early plantings having been in 1989 & thru the early 90’s. I love how elegant, suave, lovely & delicious the wines are, year in & year out. Nothing showy, nothing overstated. PLUS, the bonus? The wines really over-deliver for the dollar.
Fred Scherrer is essentially a one man show…….& makes small batches of terrific wines. His 1991 Zinfandel “Old & Mature Vines” first caught my attention. It is hard to find a winemaker who produces one grape variety well, much less 5. Here is one. Fred’s Pinots deftly showcase elegance, loveliness, class & superb balance & texture. Furthermore, his wines get better with bottle age. Last Summer, for instance, we had his 1999 & 2000 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noirs & each was some of the very Pinot I have had out of California. WOW!
One of the hottest, new faces for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir out of California. While winemaker/owner Justin Willett’s wines are more about purity, transparency & elegance, I also discovered, at a recent side by side tasting of many top echelon Californian Pinot Noirs, that his wines are much more lively, ethereal & soil driven than many of his counterparts’. Furthermore, this young turk has also been able to get fruit from some of the area’s TOP sites, including Old Vine Sanford & Benedict, Bien Nacido (N Block & Q Block), which is not only quite remarkable but also says alot about how talented he is preceived to be by regional insiders. The point being this is a definitely a winemaker & winery to keep an eye on.