Archive for White

Oct
23

A Taste of German Wines 07-15-17

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We tasted quite a slew of German wines today.  Here are some of the highlights.

We started off with a flight of 3 DRY styled white wines.  The first was the 2014 Rudolf Fürst Weissburgunder “Pur Mineral” from Franconia, Germany.  Owner/winemaker Paul Fürst was selected as 2003 “Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year”.  We have been BIG fans of his Rieslings, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Noirs & now the Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).  While many of his wines come from his estate vineyard (sandstone soils) in Burgstädt, this pure, precise, ethereal, remarkably light & absolutely riveting white wine comes the Volkacher Karthäuser vineyard & its limestone soils…..3 hectares…harvested at 92 oechsle, fermented dry (50% wild yeast), sees NO malolactic & is then aged in 1500 liter big oak.  Definitely a wine worth searching out for.  The next wine tasted was the 2015 Hans Wirsching Silvaner Dry “Iphöfer Kalb” VDP.ERSTE LAGE.   Hans Wirsching is another standout Franconian winery & has been for a VERY long time.  Their 3 TOP vineyard sites are located in Iphöf–Julius Echter Berg, Kronsberg & Kalb.  “The Iphöfer Kalb is a steep slope that faces south with gypsum-keuper soils.  I realized a few years back, the grape variety Silvaner is innately & amazingly pliable (at least on the country” style of renditions) & can therefore work with a wide range of foods.  This bottling however is meant to be more sophisticated…..higher level.  The words Erste Lage, in fact, is Germany’s effort at a Cru system, highlighting dry wines of distinct quality levels.  It certainly delivers accordingly.  The final wine of the flight–2015 Wirsching Scheurebe Kabinett Dry “Iphöfer”–I am always so re-amazed every new vintage how delicately perfumed, remarkably light & pretty & wonderfully delicious this wine is.  I also think this is one of the finest white wines out there to consider with pairing with contemporary Asian fusion foods.

Theo Haart was “2007 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & is growing & crafting some of the finest white wines in the world.  His home turf is mainly Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, which many would equate to a Grand Cru level vineyard if there was ever such a thing.  Haart also owns small parcels in Piesport-Kreutzwingert (monopole), Domherr & Gräfenberg, as well as a small 1 hectare parcel in Wintricher Ohligsberg.  I often shake my head in wonderful when tasting his TOP echelon wines & how he deftly able to combine such power, profound, ageworthy structure & pedigree with such civility, sophistication & grace.  At our Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, we readily offer the Reinhold Haart Riesling “Piesporter” bottling, a medium dry to dry (12 degree alcohol), wonderfully minerally estate Riesling, which is sourced from a combination of their vineyards of Piesport.  It really is amazingly food friendly & over delivers for the dollar.  The 2014 Reinhold Haart Riesling Kabinett “Piesporter”, in comparison is slight sweet, & only 9 degrees in alcohol & therefore suited for dishes somewhat more spicy or salty in preparation.  The 2015 Reinhold Haart Riesling Kabinett “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen” is all Goldtröpfchen, deep clay soils with gray-blue slate & the minerality, vinosity & filigree is quite different than the previous 2 wines.  It is also seemingly slightly sweeter & only 8.5 alcohol, which makes it an ideal wine for spicy, salty Asian inspired foods.  The showstopper of the line-up is the 2007 Haart Riesling Kabinett “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”, which has much more mineral character, vinosity, profound depth, pedigree, intricacies & pizazz.  PLUS, with 10 years of bottle age, the once apparent sweetness had partially changed to a more creamy, tactile, viscosity on the palate AND allows the minerality to come more front & center.  What a wine!!!

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We decided to showcase FOUR real showpiece white wines on this night! Side by side….BLIND.  This was some kind of tasting!  After all, how often do opportunities like this come about?

2009 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre “Ortus”–Hippolyte Reverdy grows and produces some our favorite Sauvignon Blancs in the world from the French appellation of Sancerre. After all the years of following wines and getting distracted with newly discovered Sauvignon Blancs, I am now more than ever, convinced he is the master of this grape variety.   The wines are pure, minerally, intricate, masterfully textured and balanced year in and year out. Every now and then, when the vintage warrants, Reverdy produces an “Ortus” bottling—his best of the best—done with aging in large neutral oak barrels, 100% malolactic and twice a week lees stirring without being over done or with too much bravado. This is undoubtedly one of the real standouts from France’s Loire Valley. 

2015 Faury Condrieu–a rarely seen, nearly forgotten standout white wine appellation! Having said that, there really is no other wine like it, when it is grown and crafted at this level AND standard. The media hype those that, in my opinion, over do their wines. Thankfully, this family understands the importance of preserving such vines and craft their wines in honor of their history and heritage.  Such an intoxicating perfume combining exotic fruit/floral qualities, stony, base notes, a lush, visceral texture, bordering unctuous & surprising, sublime pedigree which separates it from other Viogniers I have encountered.  Nothing thankfully over done.  Definitely a benchmark! 

2013 Nigl Grüner Veltliner “Alte Reben”–A chance to taste the finest Austrian Grüner Veltliner standouts of the year. The vineyards are steep and mostly primary rock (gneiss) and mica slate, tucked deep in the Krems Valley on the edge of the Senftenberg mountain. Here is his Old Vine bottling–mega-intense, seemingly chiseled from the rock it is grown in, with lots of old vine intricacies, resounding, bordering hard structure with great length & grandeur. 

2012 Dönnhoff Riesling Hermannshöhle “GG”–There is no doubt Helmut Dönnhoff is one of the world’s TOP winemakers and his Hermannshöhle parcel is his crown jewel. GG is Germany’s attempt at a Grand Cru level of quality. Iconic winemaker + great vineyard + Grand Cru quality = whew, what a truly monumental wine!  The 2012 deftly combines power, mesmerizing minerality, old vine intricacy, structure with class & grandeur.  This is a REAL majestic thoroughbred.  OMG.

Categories : General, White, Wine
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Jul
31

2015 Nichon Semillon

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In all of these years of being in the wine industry, I cannot recall having a Semillon which really stood out.

Well that all changed when we tasted the 2015 Nichon Semillon a few weeks back.  This 100 case lot of 80% Semillon & 20% Sauvignon Blanc is yet another remarkable, totally ingenious wine project of superstar Master Sommelier Richard Betts.  The 60 plus, own rooted vines are planted in the deeply sandy soils of Vine Vale, within Australia’s Barossa Valley.  Betts writes to us–“way beyond organic or biodynamic to a style that we refer to as feral. Yup, it’s wild and full of wildlife (read: gigantic spiders, etc.) The vines are pruned, the grapes are picked and other than this, nothing else occurs – no plowing, no water, no pesticides, no herbicides, did we say no plowing?  whole cluster BASKET pressed…Barrel fermented in second use french barrique. (We get used chardonnay barrels and ferment and age in here.) then aged entirely in second use French oak for 12 months. There is NO malo, no fining, no filtration.  Did we say no plowing?

 

We continue the tasting with a gang of white wines.  White on, bro!

2016 Palmina Pinot Grigio “Santa Barbara”–Palmina is a project featuring Italian grape varieties grown & produced in the Santa Barbara appellation of California by winemaker Steve Clifton.  (Quite candidly, I am not quite sure who else is still involved with Steve).  The 2016 is markedly different from the previous Pinot Grigio bottlings.  It definitely has a more coppery hue to the naked eye, which reminds me of a more ramato (skin contact) style.  The wine is still tasty, refined, seamless–just with a little more flesh & a bitter almond to the finish.  I would also suggest that it is still greatly & thankfully still way underpriced.  Thank you to Warren for sharing this bottle.   2016 Chehalem Pinot Gris “12th Ave Grill”–Here is a wine “designed” for head wine star, Rick Lily, over at 12th Ave Grill.  As one taster noted–“I love it, because it is so pretty & delicious“.   Can’t argue with that kind of endorsement.  Kudos to you Mr. Lily!   2014 Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc “Santa Maria Valley”–This certainly was one of the standout white wines–very classy, elegant, seamless texture AND plenty of mojo in the core.  I also love the superb balance AND mostly what a SENSATIONAL VALUE this truly is considering the price. 

2015 Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc “Santa Ynez Valley”–I have been a huge fan of this bottling for a few vintages, as it showcased the very best attributes of what Sauvignon Blanc can be in California–elegance, refinement, class with sublime, earth driven nuances.  Quite candidly, however, I was a little disappointed with this particular wine.  Although it still showed much of the characteristics I had previously admired, it was rather lackluster, disjointed & kind of a “plain Jane” on this night.   I think it was mainly due to following the previously tasted Au Bon Climat wine.  It still was quite good & undoubtedly dwarfed the New Zealander that followed–2015 Petit Clos Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough” (from Clos Henri) with much rounder edges, seamlessness & a much better finish.

2015 Cambiata Albariño “Monterey”–Such subtle & enticing perfume with seamlessness & wonderful flow on the palate.  We have really been working hard to find such fragrant, aromatic grape varieties, as they provide a very different compatibility when pairing with foods.  This one is from our wine friend Eric Laumann, using vines grown especially for him down in Monterey.  In addition, this wine really does over deliver for the dollar.  The sad news is, there was apparently only 205 cases produced.  I am not so sure what to say about the 2013 Matthiasson White Wine “Napa Valley”.  Winemaker Steve Matthiasson has developed a huge following, especially among the sommelier scene.  We therefore had big expectations for this wine, because the core is Ribolla Gialla, an Italian/Slovenian grape variety (vine cuttings from Josko Gravner) which Steve is especially high on.  It was unexpectedly & unfortunately quite underwhelming on this night (forward, hollow in the middle, no core to it, & oaky/alcoholic & bitter in the finish).  Maybe it was due to shipping or storage, which was undetermined, because no one said they brought it.   It was still a treat to try.  

2013 Melville Viognier “Verna’s Vineyard”–the first commercial Californian grown Viognier I tasted was a 1986 from Bill Smith of La Jota up on Howell Mountain.  The next, shortly thereafter was one from Calera.  Because of its wonderful perfume & aromatics, it seemed to really catch on & lots of people were planting it.  It was en vogue.  The challenge for me, however was finding “good” ones.  I remember trying one in the early 90’s which was organically grown in the Russian River appellation.  It was exotically perfumed, as expected, thick viscous, luscious, BUT flabby, quite hollow, noticeably alcoholic & bitter.  The following year the same winemaker contacted me again, with much eagerness over his new rendition.  The grapes came from the same vineyard, but he noted harvested at way lower brix to retain the acidity & freshness.  In both cases, I just felt, this quite fickle  grape variety really didn’t do too well in his spot.  I have found that this exotically scented grape variety seems to do especially well in the marine soils & cool growing confines of Santa Barbara county.  Here was a stellar example–enticing, uplifting perfume, the weight of a Chardonnay grown in the same vineyard, an interplay of exotic & minerality, seamlessness & lovely, captivating deliciousness.   Thank you Micah for sharing. 

2014 Folk Machine Chenin Blanc–Chenin Blanc did not have such a good reputation over the years in California.  There were far too many that would lacksidasically grown & made.  Along came former skateboarder Kenny Likitprakong who found some very interesting Chenin Blanc sources, the first from down south in the Santa Barbara appellation & more recently from the old vine Norgard Vineyard on the Talmage Bench in Mendocino in 2010.   I believe these vines are more like 36 years in age.  While this wine does not have too much resemblance to the Chenin Blancs of France’s Loire Valley (& so it should be, by the way.  This is California after all!), this particular bottling is a fairly good drink & certainly much better suited for the dinner table than most Californian Sauvignon Blanc bottlings I have tasted.  The 2015 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier–was kindly brought to share by one of Hawaii’s top sommeliers.  He routinely buys this at the wine store for under $13 a bottle & feels he really gets his bang for his buck.  Thank you for sharing!

Categories : White, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Loire Valley–this duo centered around the fact that I was able to get a bottle of the much heralded Guiberteau Saumur Blanc “Brézé” on my last trip to Seattle.  My point was, while I really respect & appreciate superstar cuvees like this, I wanted to compare it to another producer’s top echelon Loire Valley bottling, Bregeon “Gorges”, just to keep things in perspective.  The 2013 Bregeon “Gorges” hails from the western region of the valley, where the greatly under appreciated Muscadet grape variety calls home turf.  While many of the soils are marine influenced, mostly sand & fossilized sea critters, this particular producer & his vineyards are planted on “Gabbro soils–an old, blue-green, volcanic rock, rarely found in vineyard land. Formed by magma eruptions under the ocean floor, it is said to impart intense complexity to Michel’s wine“.  To add to this wine fulfilling its potential, Bregeon further ages this cuvee for at least 2 years (different vintage to vintage) in subterranean glass cuvees on its lees, all done with a very masterful touch.  The 2013 was just SOOOO breathtakingly pure, minerally & delicately nuanced with a distinct, salivating salinity.  Eventhough it is quite pricey at roughly $38 a bottle retail, I bought it just because of how good it really is..  In comparison, we poured the much heralded 2012 Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Blanc “Brézé”.   This family has owned vineyards in the Saumur appellation for well over 100 years & today headed by Romain Guiberteau, who along with his father reinvented the estate & wines in the 1990’s.  The single vineyard La Brézé is their crown jewel & is truly recognized as one of the most profound single terroirs in all of the Loire Valley.  Their 1.2ha parcel, is sand & clay on limestone & today organically farmed.  A little over 1/2 of the vineyard was planted to Chenin Blanc (the other half Cabernet Franc), planted in 1933 & 1952 (although I believe there are some younger vines scattered here & there).  The juice is whole cluster pressed & wild yeast fermented in 1 & 2 year barrels & then aged on it lees for 18 months.  This is an example of a SUPER wine.  It seems every wine sooner or later features a similar standout.  Yes, there is still Beaujolais–light, delicious, unpretentious & carefree….& now there are also SUPER Beaujolais, just as their is Loire Valley Chenin Blanc & now this SUPER version.  This is an undeniably “tour de force’ bottling–so mega intense & concentrated, almost to the point of being liquid rock, with a resounding, bordering puckering structure & a strong oak presence, especially on the palate.  I suggest those lucky enough to have this wine in their collection, put it away for at least 15 years before trying it.  And, while I think the Guiberteau wine is a real trophy & deservedly so, for VINO, we think the Bregeon “Gorges” is much more appropriate, especially with our foods (& targeted price points).

German wines–This duo was to be the final pairing of the night.  It wasn’t that long ago where Germany would ripen Riesling typically 2 to 3 vintages out of every 10.  This encouraged scientists to work on finding grape vine crossings, which would offer Riesling nobility, but would ripen earlier.  One of the most popular crossings developed was Scheurebe.  In the old days, I sometimes would pair the quite exotic, fruity styled Scheurebe Spätlese with lighter foie gras dishes as well as with Asian inspired meat/fowl dishes such as Chinese Peking Duck.  Not all Scheurebe, however, are equal & one therefore needs to be very selective when purchasing one.  Plus, now, because we can essentially get ripe Riesling Spätlese & Auslese more regularly, the demand for Scheurebe for me is far less.  Still I thought it would be fascinating to try 2 Spätlese–1 Scheurebe & 1 Riesling–both from the 2008 vintage.  The 2008 Pfeffingen Scheurebe Spätlese “Ungsteiner Herrenberg” proved to be quite tropical/exotic fruited in aroma with some gewurz-ish spice & floral nuances.  Eventhough it was a more classic vintage, this 2008 was filled with gorgeous, unctuous, ripe, tropical fruit (I suspect more Auslese than actually Spätlese) whose once obvious, apparent sweetness (despite the 10.5 alcohol level) had at least partially morphed into a more tactile, visceral mouthfeel/texture.  The 2008 Dönnhoff Riesling Spätlese “Niederhauser Hermannshöhle”, in comparison , was decidedly more about slate/rock character than any kind of fruit–seemingly chiseled out of rock & done with precision & masterful workmanship.  Dönnhoff produces wines of immense concentration, elegance & adulterated power with truly majestic pedigree (especially with this vineyard, revered as the finest in the Nahe region) & the innate ability to get better with age.  The soils of Hermannshöhle are “mostly black slate with some igneous rock & limestone“.   We really treasure vintages like 2008, especially in this day & age, as they can offer wines of such purity/transparency, elegance, refinement & filigree, as was the case here.

Categories : White, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Dal Forno Romano & Quintarelli are the 2 iconic winemaking legends of Italy’s Veneto region, up in the northeast.  As I once read somewhere, they produce “monster” Amarone red wines, which are not only very hard to get, but they are also quite pricey.

Interestingly, both producers also produce small amounts of insanely unctuous dessert styled passito wines when the conditions are right, which are even harder to get!

1997 Dal Forno Romano Nettare  0402

While Dal Forno produces a RED passito wine, named Vigna Seré (produced from mainly Corvina with some Rondinella, Coatina & Oseleta blended in & then aged for 36 months in new barrique), which he refers to as his crowning jewel…every now & then he also produces a white passito from mainly Gargenega with smaller amounts of Turbiana & Trebbiano Toscano blended in & then aged in barrique for 30 to 40 months.  The 1997 is a decadently unctuous, thick elixir with all kinds of crazy, idiosyncratic nuances from white chocolate, vanilla bean creme brulee to marzipan, honey & beeswax.  It really is as decadent as can be, & still so amazingly youthful.  I cannot even begin to think what this wine will be like when it has a chance to resolve itself, not only in the residual sugar/sweetness front, but also what is preserved & hidden underneath, just waiting to emerge once the sweetness resolves.

2003 Quintarelli Amabile del Cerè  0401

The rarest of all the Quintarelli wines—the current vintage is 2003 and the previous vintage was the 1990. It is named after a lost barrel that was hidden under food stores and undiscovered during a Nazi raid of the property during WWII. The barrel was discovered years later and the wine had aged beautifully“.

Just as Dal Forno & Quintarelli go head to head with their Amarone & Valpolicella wines, the battle continues with their passito wines. Amabile del Cerè is also mainly Gargenega with some Trebbiano Toscano & a smidgeon of Sauvignon Bianco, Chardonnay & Saorin.  Typically, there is 30 to 40% noble rot & the wine spends 5 to 6 years in French oak.  Yes, this is another amazing, completely decadent, rich, unctuous white wine.

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Apr
22

Loire Valley–Part 1 (Sauvignon Blanc)

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Here is a tasting we put together recently for a group of young sommeliers.

As I have noted in previous writings, one of my jobs as a restaurant wine buyer is to provide expertise…….enough so that I can sift through the myriad of wine offerings & better & hopefully smartly determine what we will buy for the restaurant.

I therefore think to get better at this skill, it really helps to establish & grow a strong foundation.  In the case of sommelier-ing, this includes having a bank of really solid, “good” wine choices.  By doing so, you have a base to measure others by.

Several of our chefs are headed for Japan, mainly on a food inspiring trip.  When asked what restaurants they should look to eat at, my comment was to find smaller, unique “hole in the walls” who have garnered a niche & respect from true foodies for serving solid foods which come from passion, hands on dedication, culture, heritage & authenticity.  I think then one can taste & experience more traditional ingredients & techniques & therefore better understand a sense of purity & of where they came from culinarily.

From this base, we can look to add our touches.

Why would one want to morph already morphed foods?

One can apply a similar thought to wine.  I therefore look to establish a base of well made, pure, more traditional styled wines of any given category.  From there I can create different sub-categories such as “internationalized”; “superstar”; modern; “country/food friendly” or whatever.

Over the years, there are at least 8 Sauvignon Blancs from France’s Loire Valley, which really standout to me amongst the crowd.  Interestingly, I would have thought that at least a few would have been replaced by now.  Here are 5 of them–

1A1Domaine du Salvard Cheverny–Sauvignon Blanc (& some Sauvignon Gris with up to 16% Chardonnay permitted) grown in sand-chalk-limestone soils.  This cuvee typically showcases exotic fruit nuances, passion fruit & even guava in some vintages (perhaps from the Sauvignon Gris), with a rounder middle & a distinct minerality on the palate, much more so than in the nose.  I generally refer to this wine as being more “country”ish in style–meaning delicious, unpretentious, light, food friendly, gulpable & perennially over delivering for the dollar.  1A3

Trotereau Quincy “Vieilles Vignes”–sand, silex, pink limestone soils.  This vineyard also still has a surprising number of 100 year old vines I am told.  As a side note, Quincy was but the 2nd AOC granted back in 1936.  The old timers must have known there was something special or unique in the soils here.  I poured this wine next, because, it has a more flinty character in the nose & seems more nervier with more bracing acidity.

1A4Regis Minet Pouilly Fume “Vieilles Vignes”–clay, limestone, marl at 750 feet elevation.  We adore this wine’s purity & cleaner, fresher, minerally approach.  This was one of the first true artisan, “boutique” Loire Valley wines which caught my attention as a young professional.  I really find it so incredible that in all of these years I have yet to find another which has at least equally caught my fancy.   Deliciousness certainly has something to do with that.    1A11

Roger Neveu Sancerre “Clos des Bouffants”–a relatively new star on our radar screen.  I am always so amazed at how many diners easily recognize the word Sancerre on the winelist, yet it has been so challenging for me over the years to find really good Sancerre.  My “go to” rendition is by Hippolyte Reverdy, because of how ethereal & delicately refined it can be.  Now, of course, the Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre is quite allocated.  Leave it to wine importer, Kermit Lynch, to thankfully find yet another jewel.  The Bouffants parcel is roughly 700 to 850 feet in elevation, with a steep, southern exposure & a limestone bedrock (40% active limestone).  Here is one you can make lots of friends with.

1A2Denis Jamain Reuilly “Les Pierres Plates”–The village of Reuilly is also located in the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley.  I poured this sauvignon last because I typically find it the most ethereal of the five.  I am told the soils is Kimmeridgian limestone, very similar to what one can find in Chablis, complete with fossilized oyster shells & other sea critters.  My wife Cheryle, in fact, noted in this blind tasting how much it smelled of seashells in the nose.  Plus, on the palate, it is more refined & ethereal with a lime edge & definitely not flinty like those above who have more marl to their soils.

Quite an interesting learning opportunity AND on several different levels.  Thank you to all who came.

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Jan
21

A Trio of Sweet Wines 12-31-14

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In some parts of the world these would be classified as dessert wines…..in other parts “stickie’s”….for me, pure nectar.  AND, the amazing thing is that these 3 wines may have started out as sweet, but now because of the considerable bottle age of each, the once apparent sweetness has turned into more of a visceral creaminess/viscosity AND the wine’s minerality is thankfully once again clearly visible.  Really quite fascinating wines.  b21

1983 JJ Prum Spatlese “Wehlener Sonnenuhr” 

Here is the idiosyncratic genius of Manfred Prum & his iconic vineyard in one of his best vintages.  (Manfred also produced one of the best Eisweins I have ever had in 1983).  Such great purity, filigree & pinpoint balance, all in great harmony, after 32 years of bottle age.

b21983 Chateau d’Yquem

I still vividly remember all of the hoopla created, when this wine was released.  At 32 years of age, it is still an adolencent.  It still has much more to resolve & therefore a LONG way to go.  Save your bottles.

1970 Moulin Touchais Anjou  b22

Talk about obscure!  This is 45 year old Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley!  And, unlike Vouvray & its limestone soils, this estate’s vineyard has more rock & schist (& some clay & limestone) to its soil composition, which results in a VERY different character, which is plain to see now that the high residual sugar levels have had a chance to resolve itself after 45 years.  There are all kinds of smells, layering, nuances & intricacies, beyond just fruit & spice qualities.  I suggest you serve such a wine in a big 22 ounce glass, so you can swirl & sniff for a long time so it has a chance to open up.  Wines like this don’t come around too often.  Yes, in a previous blog, I noted that this winery had been controversial at one time on the authenticity of its winemaking claims & ageworthy prowess, but I suggest you smell & taste this wine & judge for yourself.

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Jan
11

White Burgundies recently tasted

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Boy, it is hard to keep this blog current, with all of the wines we fortunately taste.  Our VINO restaurant seems to draw in a wine crazy group of friends, who are so bent on sharing.  We are sooooo grateful to say the least.  Here are some of the highlights–

2005 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”  b8b12

2008 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”

As avid wine collectors well know, Coche Dury produces TWO of the most celebrated collectible white wines–the Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne & the Meursault Premier Cru–Perrieres.  Over the years, I have heard so many insiders say how Perrieres should be a Grand Cru vineyard & these 2 wines certainly support that thought.   I am often a skeptic with such clamour but these 2 wines are majestic, glorious wines of remarkable intensity, power, intellect, grandeur & pedigree.   The 2005 is a monster, so virile, masculine & with surreal intensity & immensity.   What a real shame it was to drink at a mere 9 years of age.  The 2008, on the other hand, has a riveting, mesmerizing, clearer purity/transparency, eventhough it too was mega-intense & well structured.  I often scratch my head in wonderment of what could be, when I see adjacent parcels of Yves Boyer Martenot on one side & on the other side a parcel sourced to Maison Latour.

2003 Raveneau Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur”   bb01

Talk about having a wine at an ideal time of its life!!!!  Pure mineral, with lots of pedigree, precision, refinement & ethereal-ness.  Brilliant!   Wow!  I know some discount the 2003 vintage in France some, but I must say that this wine really showed me otherwise.  Furthermore, where Raveneau’s Les Clos & Blanchots bottlings seem riper & more showy, I typically find his Valmur to be much more ethereal, as was the case here.   I prefer to believe producers of this echelon really can show different perspectives on a vineyard because of vintage growing conditions……rather than me choosing a specific vintage I like.  Here is a case in point!

2001 Francois Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes”

I am & have been an avid fan of the Meursault wines from Francois Jobard.  I am finding more & more, that the numbers of believers like me are dwindling.  This style of old fashion winemaking is just not en vogue.  I am sorry for Francois & his son Antoine, for the undeserved under appreciation, but selfishly, it means more for me & at far better pricing.  I guess I am shooting myself in the foot for even writing about this calamity, but I cannot help myself.  Every time I am fortunate to have an older bottle, & after 2 1/2 hours of breathing, I am just completely taken by wines like this.  The Jobard Charmes & especially his Genevrieres bottling, in my humble opinion, deserve Grand Cru status, just as the Coche Dury Meursault Perrieres does.  Charmes seems finer, more delicate & the Genevrieres more stately with more grandeur.  I suggest you use a big glass, so you can swirl & swirl to coax out the magnificance.  It really is worth it.

Categories : White, Wine, Wines Revisted
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Dec
23

Sweet Wines 08-30-14

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This was yet another BYOB dinner in our VINO restaurant, where our guests brought in some eye popping wines!  We are so lucky to have so many regulars who come to the BYOB dinner with an attitude to share something special & to enjoy with the group.  The night’s foray of wines, therefore, included a 1993 Tempier Bandol “La Tourtine”; 2001 Ogier Cote Rotie; 1993 Ceretto Barbaresco “Faset”;  1990 Shafer “Hillside Select”; 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia; 1995 Chateau Calon Segor; 1983 Chateau Lynch Bages; 1996 Chateau Pichon Lalande; 1995 Noel Verset Cornas & 2000 Chave Hermitage, just to name a few red wines, AND 2009 Blanc de Lynch Bages; 2001 Kunstler Riesling Spatlese “Hochheimer Holle” Trocken & Chateau d’Epire Savennieres just to name 3 white wines.  Yes, it was quite the night.

To end the evening, 4 bottles of sweet wines were opened & shared.

00d32001 Gunderloch Riesling Spatlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–The town of Nackenheim is located in Germany’s Rheinhessen region, right on the Rhein river.  Rothenberg, a steep hillside of red slate soils, is considered the finest site of the town & shares the hillside with other Crus, such as the Pettenthal & Hipping vineyards of the adjacent Niersteiner appellation.  I believe Gunderloch owns the biggest parcel & I say, thank goodness for that.  Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach have steadily brought their domaine & vineyards to high acclaim through their tireless efforts in the vineyards, winemaking & personal, grass roots marketing.  I am always so thrilled to see this really special couple (& now their son/winemaker, Johannes) receive all of the acclaim & accolades for their truly superb wines.  I vividly remember, when this wine was released, thinking “oh my goodness, too much extract, too showy & over the top”, after all the grapes were harvested somewhere between 95 & 100 degrees Oechsle with a total acidity at around 8 grams per liter.  I felt the ripeness took away from the minerality & transparency of the wine.  That may have been true then, but having this wine 13 years later was a true revelation.  It really was now all about red slate & profound minerality.  I also loved how seamless, complete, well textured & especially how long it was on the palate.  I thought it was a standout & certainly one of my favorite wines of the night!!!!  That is saying alot, when one stops to think about all of the other star studded wines opened during the night.  00d1

1983 Chateau Suduiraut–this is an estate with 92 hectares of vineyards located in the Pregnac commune of Sauternes, adjacent to the iconic Chateau d’ Yquem.  The sandy-gravelly soils & the atumnal mists from the convergence of the Ciron & Garonne rivers help to encouage the growth of botrytis cinerea, a beneficial “noble rot” to produce a standout Sauternes (designated as Premier Cru in the 1855 official classification).  While 1983 was a a very well received vintage by the media, I believe this wine should be put away in the cellar for considerable more time, so it has a chance to resolve itself more.  It really was a waste to open it.

00d21983 Chateau Rieussec–This highly revered Premier Cru was purchased by the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (also the owners of Chateau Lafite) in 1984.  The 93 hectares, located in the Fargues commune of Sauternes, borders Chateau d”Yquem to the west.  Like the Suduiraut listed above, I felt it was a real waste to open & drink this wine at such an early age.  It really does need much more time to resolve itself–quite closed, with too many rough edges, bitterness & alcohol poking out.

1994 Gunderloch Beerenauslese Gold Kapsule “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–I am sure Mike brought this wine, because Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach, owners of Gunderloch, were in attendance.  I also thank you, because I was fortunate enough to also be in attendance to enjoy this monumental wine!  In speaking with Fritz, they produced TWO BA’s in 1994, 00dthis being designated as Gold Kapsule, because it was harvested at well over 200 oechsle (3 separate passes through the vineyard), with 10 to 11 grams  of total acidity & finished at 8 degrees alcohol.  This wine was certainly unctuous, BUT NOT over the top so.  The wine’s once apparent sweetness has really evolved with the 20 years of bottle age, & there is so much more tactile elements developing rather then pure sweetness.  Plus, I love how, because of this evolvement, the stoniness & terroir is once again resurfacing to the forefront.  This was truly a magnificent wine.  Thank you Mike for sharing!!!!

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