Archive for Wines Revisted
The pursuit of superb red Burgundy is such a challenge. It really is hard to imagine a more elusive, fickle grape variety than Pinot Noir, even those from its home turf in Burgundy.
In a recent discussion with a wine friend & whose palate I greatly admire, I was amazed at how he diligently spends so much time looking for flaws & imperfections in wine. Well, one would have such a hard time looking for pure perfection in wines, especially in Burgundy.
I, on the other hand, now look whether I enjoyed the wine or not, a little brettanomyces, or a huge dollop of oak or not, especially in Burgundy.
Which brings us to the 2 red Burgundies we recently tasted, which we enjoyed, flaws & all.
I don’t think the Burgundies of Domaine Maume were or are on too many top 10 lists. There are many possible reasons for that, but the fact is, I tend to enjoy their idiosyncratic, more rustic, old style approach to their Gevrey Chambertin based Pinot Noirs. I was amazed watching their wine ferment in underground cement tanks, unlike those in so many other luxury domaines. The wines have a musky masculinity & a deep, resounding stoniness woven throughout the wine which sets it apart. Maume has 2 Grand Cru parcels–1 in Mazis Chanbertin & the other in Charmes Chambertin. 2000 certainly had its challenges for many producers & their resulting wines, but I don’t care about that in this case. I enjoyed this wine. It was like seeing an old friend again. I was saddened to hear that this domaine sold a little while back, which made tasting this wine even more memorable. I am sure what once was, may be only a memory shortly. Change is inevitable at this domaine.
1998 was yet another vintage with its challenges. I remember once hearing a winemaker say “anyone can make a really good wine in great vintages. It’s those challenging vintages which really shows the true skill of a master“. This wine had wonderful perfume & pedigree…..& definitely Grand Cru in character. There is a lot happening in this bottle & one can understand why Leroy has such a huge reputation for their wines. The biggest challenge for me is the price tag, so I am most thankful for having the opportunity to even try this superstar cuvee.
1989 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne Romanee “Cros Parantoux”
One of the true iconic collectibles from Burgundy today! I have tried in vain to write something logical, coherent about this wine & still express something that is not expressible to me. So….instead, here are some excerpts fromto the rescue–
Our first winetasting of 2015! We begin the year with a trio of slightly aged French classics, produced in a style reminiscent of the old days. It is a homage & a remembrance of the way wines used to tasted or aspired to be like……Yes, PRE-fruit bombs, PRE-Robert Parker.
Again, it is a friendly reminder of estate grown wines, where the owners are vested in their land & their wines from the ground to the bottle.
Where, they look for heritage/heirloom vines rather than scientifically propagated material. Where they farm sustainable & therefore have a living vineyard.
Where, the winemaking is the way it used to be, much less scientific & much more about the way their ancestors taught them.
PLUS, because each wine has some bottle age, one can better experience what the vineyard wants to say. Yes, this definitely a different kind of tasting……at least for these times.
Just, another opportunity to learn!
Their best parcel—1 hecatare, a limestone hilltop of 50+ year old vines, organically & biodynamically farmed. This is Bourgueil, NOT a Bordeaux or Californian wannabee & the Cabernet Franc therefore manifests itself very differently. NO bigness or showmanship. Wildly rustic character with refinement, etherealness & structure throughout. We tend to think wines of an appellation, like Bourgueil, to all be representative of the appellation. While that is a noble thought & while many producers certainly try, it just doesn’t end up that way. Bourgueil is located in France’s Loire Valley & over the centuries, I am sure it was greatly influenced by the ocean at one time or another, as well, as the powerful Loire river. These 2 factors had to affect the soils. Hence, the sandier soils from the flat parcels would certainly result in a different Bourgueil than those grown on the rockier hillsides & their strong limestone influences. This is a more masculine Bourgueil, with a wildly rustic, intriguing, provocative, dark nuances & lots of structure. The 17 years of bottle age has done wonders in harmonizing the components. AND, it has way more verve & vitality than the 1993, 94, 95 & 96 I have tasted recently.
Located on the Pomerol plateau of Right Bank Bordeaux. Mostly Merlot with a dash of Cabernet Franc, grown in gravel/flint/clay soils (rich in iron), organically & biodynamically farmed. The results—a classic reflection—rich, supple, yet with grace & finesse & a deep, gravelly minerality & structure. This is done in style reminiscent of Bordeaux in the 70’s & before.
The village of Blagny lies between Meursault & Puligny Montrachet, slightly offset & higher in the hills.The higher elevation & the high percentages of marl in the soils create very different wines than those of the lower vineyards. This Premier Cru parcel is only 1/3 of a hectare & was planted in 1934. Domaine de Cherisey is a stalwart of classic wines of intensity, structure & integrity rather than showiness & fashion statements. I am always amazed at how ethereal their Pinot is. It reminded me how pretty, intricate, sheer & haunting a Cotes de Beaune Pinot Noir can be. Wow!
In January of 1991, I had the good fortune to visit France’s northern Rhone for the first time & walked away with a real fascination for the Syrah grape variety, & its iconic home turfs–Hermitage, Cote Rotie & especially Cornas. Cornas is a small appellation, & the best parcels are on the steep, mostly granitic hillsides rising above the town. Cornas is 100% Syrah, very masculine in character, chunky, sultry, wildly rustic & so intriguingly provocative. The 3 finest maestros of this appellation, each of whom I visited, are–Noël Verset (now retired), Auguste Clape (now run by his son Pierre Marie & grandson Olivier) & at a later date, Thierry Allemand.
Inexplicably over the years, Cornas, especially Clape Cornas, has not garnered the prestige & clamour it deserves, which I never could understand. I guess I should be thankful that one can still get some & at prices a fraction of those of the top echelon Syrahs from Chapoutier & Guigal. The Clape Cornas wines are so personal, have such sincerity & soulfulness as these 2 wines (1996 & 2000) clearly reminded me of. In both instances, these wines are really vin de terroir oriented, meaning they showcase the Cornas hillside character, rather than the Syrah grape variety or the opulence of a sun rich vintage. While they both may never get HUGE scores & accolades, I found both wines to be so fascinating, soulful & full of old vine vinosity & the true character of a special piece of earth. (Tasters should not expect BIG, opulent fruit, eventhough both wines are quite masculine & vin garde).
I fell in love with Noël Verset Cornas on first taste. They were so masculine, rugged, hearty & sinfully rustic & sauvage in their youth, yet intricate, nuanced, provocative & UN-heavy. I always thought I was a minority for these wines, until I noticed the skyrocketing, meteoric rise in their prices recently. Although I am sure alot has to do with the scarcity of the wines (since 2006 was his last vintage), but at the same time, I believe there are wine lovers out there who appreciate good old fashion tradition, staunch, passion driven authenticity of a world-class wine & site which really is like no other. With Verset Cornas, I would always get green peppercorn, andouille sausage/raw meat, musk character, which I later discovered must have come from his old vine Sabarottes parcel. (Clape bought some of the parcel, which we tasted & found it to have a similar character). Cornas is a VERY different slant on what Syrah can be, AND Verset was a pillar of what it was traditionally like. I am sad to say that the number of his bottles are dwindling. I am also happy to say tasting this 2000, at this time of its life, is a memory I will cherish forever. Thank you for sharing.
We had a wonderful opportunity to sample some Bordeaux wines which had some bottle age recently. As always, we are thankful to all who brought them & shared.
This has been a property, which for me over the years, has been hard to predict what you will get in terms of true quality for the dollar. Being a Second Growth, when they hit the nail on the head, the resulting wine can be unforgettable (1959 & 1961 were like that). However, there are many other years, where the dollars warranted by its Second Growth status seems to be over priced. Still, there is a reason why this property garnered a Second Growth status. One can smell it in the wine, even in this fully matured 1981. Yes, it is very light, approachable AND VERY mature (perhaps pre-maturely aged), but the nose had the pedigree, intricacy & character, albeit a bit washed out & therefore vague. A pretty wine nonetheless.
This wine sure got a lot of hype upon its release & ending up with a 97 point score from 1 publication & 95 from the other. Today, this wine still shows a lot of stuffing, ripe fruit & structure, which has been surprisingly slow to evolve, considering it is now 15 years old. Some would say this is a vin de climat, as it certainly benefited from a generous amount of sunshine & it will have a lot to say once it really opens up again. I just hope that as opulent, lavish & intense the stuffing of this wine is, the terroir & Second Growth qualities are too.
What a huge contrast in comparison to the 2000 Leoville Barton, we tasted just before it. Graphite, pencil lead, camphor, tobacco, cedar–lots of classic Pauillac character AND more masculine then the Leoville. This wine, too, has depth intensity & structure for much longer cellaring. It actually made me appreciate the 2000 Leoville Barton even more.
This was a very eye catching wine, probably because it was much more open & strutting its stuff. The fruit is ripe, dense, classy, provocative with lots of finesse, elegance & class. My wife added the words….absolutely delicious. VERY impressive, to say the least!
This wine brings back so many wonderful memories, as it was one of the first Grand wines I had ever experienced. I was absolutely floored by this wine on first taste. It was immense, incredibly intense, masculine, powerful & grand. This was a monument! & built to last. Black & murky. Although I adored the ’70 Lafite’s incredible perfume, ’70 Palmer’s class & the innate grandeur of the ’70 Petrus, the 1970 Latour was for me the wine of the vintage in Bordeaux. Furthermore, I have been fortunate to taste it, a surprisingly amount of times over the years since & therefore it really is one of those I have watched evolve through its various stages. I was very apprehensive to try the 1970 today. I had put this wine on a pedestal, so how could any wine live up to such high expectations. Yes….it did. I loved the maturity….still with grandeur, sophistication….a classic……timeless. Thank you,. thank you, thank you. Michael also graciously opened a 1982, which sadly was corked. The wine’s wonderful ripeness & amazing depth, however, clearly showed this wine has a VERY long way to go.
Chateau Cos d’Estournel
For Carl’s birthday, a bunch of friends showed up, armed with a whole slew of venerable wines from Champagne to solera Montilla to the evening’s piece de resistance–a vertical of Chateau Cos d’ Estournel.
……1973…1983…2 x 1985….1988…1989….1990….1995….1996….1997….1998….1999…2000.
What a golden opportunity! Thank you all for sharing. The highlights? The second bottle of 1985–much fresher with a solid core & great structure. 1990–really quite closed, but it certainly has all of the right stuff. 1995–again, another wine really quite closed, but one to watch out for. 1996–along with the 1985, probably showed the best on the night. But, who’s choosing? The overall experience was really amazing!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, we have been tasting quite a slew of aged wines lately. Thank you to all who come by to share!
Although quite modern in style, I find Elio Altare’s Barolo wines are much more elegant & refined than those from other contemporaries such as Paolo Scavino or Domenico Clerico & certainly Angelo Gaja & some tasters (even knowledgeable/experienced ones) may be underwhelmed at first because of Altare’s style. This 1998 was quite a stylish, classy, highly refined, majestic red with superb elegance & balance. Having said that, I would also say the pedigree of this bottling was surprisingly muted, even after considerable time of being open. Let it sit in your cellar. I really think with 25 or so more years, this will be a glorious, wonderfully perfumed aristocrat, which tasters will wish they had put away more bottles.
I remember being wow-ed when the 1998 was released, by its immensity, sun drenched depth & prolific structure & tannins. Yes, it was a monster. It’s really nice to see now, however, the breed & stoniness of the La Crau vineyard making its way back to the forefront, both in the nose & the taste & all of the parts are starting to resolve & harmonize. Make no mistake, this is an infant with quite a ways to go, but one can now get a better feel for where it is headed.
There is no doubt that Alvaro Palacios is one of Spain’s true game changers in the wine arena. His is a fascinating story, as he left his family’s domaine in Rioja to first study abroad, including an eye opening, imagination stirring stint with Christian Mouiex at Chateau Petrus, before founding his own winery in Priorat, Spain. Although his first major acquisition was Finca Dofi in 1990, it really was the later acquisition of L’Ermita, a higly revered, steep, northfacing 4 acre parcel of well drained schist soils, which would position him to shoot for the stars. L’Ermita (planted in 1900 to 1940) is not only one of Spain’s most iconic superstar wines, its meteoric rating, accolades & considerable pricing would create, along with Pingus, a whole new niche for wines in his country, similar to what Sassicaia & Angelo Gaja had done in Italy. And, like what Sassicaia has done for Bolgheri & the Tuscan coast, L’Ermita (& Pingus) has inspired a boom of vineyard & winery growth in the Priorat appellation. I must say, however, I think it is too early to make a true qualitative call on this phenomenon & specifically L’ Ermita, given that 1993, or so I was told, was the first vintage. My quandry? Although the winemaking is top notch, I wonder if that is what the hoopla is more about. Granted, L’Ermita is mainly old vine Grenache with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon & perhaps Carignane blended in, BUT I don’t seem to get the depth of character, vinosity or breed of other red wines in this upper echelon. Since I have such limited experience tasting L’Ermita, having had only the 1995, 1998, 2001 (3 times) & this 1999 (4 times), I guess only time will tell.
The 2005 vintage was considered to produce some very profound wines in Italy. We have tasted some pretty, sundrenched, resoundingly structured trophy end RED wines which are seemingly built for long term aging. We thought it would be fun & enlightening to taste three 2005 Italians–2 Reds….& 1 iconic white….….now 9, (almost 10) years old, just to see where they are in the development curve. Rest assured, I decanted these 5 or 6 hours before the tasting. Just another really good opportunity to learn!
an indigenous Italian grape variety made in the old ways (wild yeast in clay amphora & buried in the ground just as the Romans did)…by true iconic winemaker Josko Gravner. This “orange” wine featured wonderful minerality, with all kinds of idiosyncratic, crazy nuances, which just seem to unveil as the wine opened up. Seamless & remarkably UN-heavy though masculine & resoundingly structured in style. It really was an interesting glass of wine.
70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella & 5% Molinara—dried out on straw mats for 3 months & aged in ovals for 30 months. I am not a huge fan of Amarone, as I find them to really be about ripeness & over ripeness rather than terroir. I could definitely say the same about alot of dessert wines. Yet, after 30 or 40 years of bottle age, I interestingly find that the terroir can once again emerge after the wine has had a chance to resolve itself. I wonder if that also happens with Amarone? Although I have tasted some older Bertani bottlings, I am still not convinced.
one of the showiest, most flambuoyant, upper tier single vineyard Barolo. Definitely ultra-modern & way over the top for me. In my early years, I always thought youthful Gaja Barbaresco was too oaky & over the top too. Then, one time, I experienced a glorious 20 year old 1978 Costa Russi & that completely changed my view. I am wondering if that too can happen with the Paolo Scavino wines?
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–
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.
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.
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.
2001 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.
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.
1983 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, this 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!!!!
Again, one of our goals for 2014 is feature more & more good wines……those which others can be compared to. This will help, tasters create a solid base to work from as their tasting adventures continue. It is not as easy as one would think. Here are 4 standouts from the superb 2007 vintage! Yes, just another really good opportunity to learn! Wines like this just don’t happen along!
Back in the late 80’s, 9 artisan producers from Beaujolais caught my eye. Please keep in mind, this was still a time when Beaujolais wine was not taken seriously. I find it truly remarkable that despite the fact that many years have passed, & I have tasted & found so many new wines, from all parts of the world, my list of tasty, interesting, artisan Beaujolais has NOT changed! This is one of those standouts…….from the Cru village of Fleurie. Now 7 years old, the wine has evolved in the bottle & offers us new dimension, which has emerged with age. A must to try!!!!
Albino Rocca has been one of our all time favorite Barbaresco producers. We, in fact, visited him in 2007, walked his vineyard with him & tasted some of his “library” wines to get a better idea of how special his vineyard, Brich Ronchi is & how truly talented Angelo was as a winemaker. It was one real eye opening visit, believe me. We were subsequently very saddened to hear of his untimely passing. We taste his benchmark 2007 on this night as a tribute to his incredible winemaking gift & his fierce passion for his craft.
There is no doubt, Meo Camuzet is one of the iconic, contemporary producers of Burgundy’s modern era. Here is your chance to taste one of his Premier Cru wines from the 2007 vintage. One really needs to be patient with this wine. It really does need some time.
When you see this panoramic, truly breathtaking vineyard you will be awe struck. There are very few majestic, magnificent sites like this in the wine world. Thankfully, the resulting wines are equally majestic & breathtaking. There is a reason why Theo Haart was selected as “2007 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & here is your chance to see why.