Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Spätlese 2006 (from magnum)

Magnums are awesome. Large-format bottles, in all their shapes and sizes, hold the wine trade in child-like glee. Show me someone in the trade that doesn't get at least a small thrill at trying a wine (or whisky, or brandy, or beer) from a big bottle and I'll show you someone that never deserves to drink from one. I remember selling double magnums of Delamain XO, complete with their own decanting cradle, to a restaurant where it was not uncommon, after hours, to find myself, the owners and my colleagues lying on our backs, underneath the bar, waiting for the trebuchet (because cradle doesn't really do it justice) of cognac to pour that sweet nectar down our throats.

It hurt the next morning.

Anyway, magnums are awesome. Even when the wine isn't all that great.

Still quite a lot of green to that gold.

Rolled oats, honeysuckle and citrus flowers on the nose. Sandy.

Palate is big, rich and a touch sweaty. Fleshy and quite delicious but lacking a bit of grip. As it opens, that flabbiness asserts itself a bit more, sadly. There's a lack of vibrance, a lack of hum, a lack of acidity and structure that lets this down and makes me question its age-worthiness. Bummer.


Tasted at Shorehead 20/06/2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cos d'Estournel 2002 (from magnum)

St Estephe intrigues me. For all the chat about garagiste right-bank extraction and new oak and whatnot, for me the new world of Bordeaux can be found in this Northern Medoc appellation. I often find it to be the Coonawarra of Bordeaux - with great big bunches of exotic spice and expressive, juicy fruit. Arguably, this is the wrong way round. Surely Coonawarra is more reminiscent of St Estephe. Possibly. In fact, probably. But for some reason, in my head, new switches places with the old and it's St Estephe that seems derivative.

Incredibly dark in the glass; a hair's breadth to impenetrable.

Dark wet pipe tobacco, roasted black currants, cherry jam glazed ham and tons of winter spice.

Very dark and savoury. Grippy and meaty - pepper salami and pipe tobacco. Wild and exotic spices abound. Underneath all that, wrapped tight, is some bright, tar-coated cassis. It sucks the mouth back in on itself with a finish that goes on for a fair few minutes. Lots of life ahead, though whether that fruit will outlast the tannin is open for debate.


Tasted at Shorehead 20/6/2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Volnay Premier Cru 2002 d'Angerville

The more 2002 red Burgundy I try, the more it charms me. 2002 was a big deal at the time, though the hype of 2005 and 2009 have gleefully eclipsed it. This is a good thing. It leaves well-aged Burgundy at reasonable prices for me.

Ruby wrapped in black velvet.

Fleshy, wild strawberries on the nose, coated in fresh tarragon and sage. Touch of citrus.

Brilliantly pleasing. Piercing and pure bright red fruit, sexy but still with toothy tannins. Loving that brilliant silkiness. So good. Lovely integration. Rises up with the lamb as well, reaches a kind of superb harmony. Not too flabby. Delicious.


Tasted at Shorehead 20/6/2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune 1997

My very first month in the wine trade, I was shown a bottle of this wine and told, 'this is the greatest dry Riesling in the world'. It was the 1994 vintage. I didn't really understand what I had been told. Academically, I suppose, it made sense to me, but I had so little understanding of the context surrounding it that its place in the pantheon of wine never really sank in.

I have never had a mature Clos Ste Hune: a bottle at its peak. It remains a goal of mine.

My goodness that looks young. Nowhere near 14 years old. Still flecks of silver and pale gold - the light dances through it.

Nose of Flint and lime with oats. Whiff  of honey.

Palate is a little teenager-y, just on the cusp of shedding it's lean, crisp and crunch side and just beginning to show deep, rich roasted oats and limes with stone running through the seams. The structure is still precise, running from youth at the beginning of the palate to young adulthood and just the beginnings of maturity at the end of the palate.


Tasted at Shorehead 20/6/2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Corton Charlemagne 2000 Bonneau du Martray

I am fortunate enough to have tried this wine a few times. I even noted it once. Every time I try it, it seems young. I have a friend who's convinced that wines from this domain need a minimum of 3 hours decanting before they reveal just how much there is and I believe him. Sadly, I've never really had the luxury of time for such ritual.

Still very young, bright gold.

Toasted and nutty nose, with an almost sherry-like zip to it.

Still quite closed and young on the palate. Piercing, intense and incredibly tight knit. Almost knotted. Ripe and bone dry all at once, with the creaminess and richness all waiting while tightly wrapped with spiced pineapple in crushed seashells and chalk. Will come back to this.


Tasted at Shorehead 20/6/2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 2000

Aged rosés are not my area of expertise. I'm familiar, thankfully, with quite a few aged rosé Champagnes, but still rosés with age are another story. Quite a strange story, at that. As wine-drinkers it seems almost like heresy. Rosés are meant to be youthful and fresh, drunk chilled and in great quantity during the summer. Age them? You may lay them down for a nap, but not for much longer. So this is very much uncharted territory for me. I have no point of reference, and as such can only really judge this wine on how it fits with the rest of the Tondonia wines, which tend to stand alone anyway. As such, it is the weakest of a strong range but still remarkable in its own right. Real wine geek stuff.

Salmon pink and pale copper with a hint of green. Really nice brightness.

Nose of Seville oranges and mulched strawberries. There's a touch of mushroom cap and earth as well. Raspberries and their pips.

Seeringly dry. Freeze dried strawberries with stems, ceps and turf. There's orange peel as well, with some notes of cured ham. It's precise, with good structure. Bracing, and certainly needing food.


Tasted 16/6/2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Burgundy 2009 tasting at The New Club with Justerini & Brooks

January saw me visiting the New Club in Edinburgh to taste Burgundy at the invitation of one of the world's most famous merchants. Now, six months later, I'm sharing my notes. Why did it take me so long? I'm not entirely sure. I could claim that I wanted to avoid the tedious hype that surrounds En Primeur, but that would be fibbing. I'll chalk it up to laziness, I suppose.

The tasting itself was straight-forward. There was no deep mulling on my part regarding the vintage: it's very good when it's good and very disappointing when it isn't. The whites are not, on the whole, for keeping.

My note format is a bit different here. I grade on a 3 point scale rather than 5. This is a system I use when tasting in an official 'buyer' capacity, and can be fairly flexible. Plenty of perfectly reasonable wines get no score just because I don't think they fit whatever list I may be buying for - in this situation it was for a merchant with an extensive Burgundy range in need of refresh. I also had a few private clients in mind. The stars represent how strongly I feel we should buy something, with one star being the 'it would be nice', three stars being 'we have to buy this' and two stars sitting somewhere in the middle. Three stars tend to be wines I'll fight for, and they are not necessarily the most expensive.

Table 1: Les Heritiers de Comtes Lafon

Mâcon-Milly **

Bright and juicy on the nose

The palate is a touch tropical, but avoids flabbiness. Great value.

Macon-Chardonnay, Clos de la Crochette

Bit more candied fruit on the nose, with a hint of anise.

Fatter in the mouth, though still kept in line by the acidity. That anise note comes through as well.

Vire-Clessé *

Sweeter on the nose than the other two, almost honeyed.

The palate comes in waves of lemon drops and honey with great mouthfeel and texture.

• A really impressive range that delivers Cote d'Or quality and yet remains true to the Macon.

Table 2: Bachelet Monnot

Santenay Blanc **

Butter and spearmint nose. Quite fresh.

Continues to the palate with fresh mint minerality wrapped in soft butter.

Puligny-Montrachet, Les Referts 1er Cru Les Referts *

Quite a fat nose of boiled sweets and cardamon.

Still lively, with a bit of bottle-shock perhaps? Nice finish though.

Puligny-Montrachet, Les Folatières 1er Cru ***

Candied with a mix of eastern spices.

Far more developed structure - gripping but balanced acidity that puts all that rich pineapple and citrus fruit in the right place. Makes the Referts look flabby.

Santenay, Les Charmes *

Powdered sugar and rhubarb with strawberries on the nose.

Really lovely mouthfeel - textured like strawberry pips.

Maranges, La Fussiere 1er Cru **

Dark, intense cranberries on the nose.

Great texture and depth, wrapping up that dark cranberry fruit rather beautifully.

• These were a happy surprise. I don't think any of these would be out of place on our list. That's not saying we should buy the range, but that maybe a red or a white here and there would be good.

Table 3: Jean Noel Gagnard

Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Chenevottes 1er Cru

Flinty nose with edges of pineapple.

Fleshy fruit texture of quince, orange and pineapple. The flint from the nose never appears.

Chassagne-Montrachet, Morgeot 1er Cru

Richer on the nose - white fruit and butter.

Disjointed on the palate with an aggressive, coarse finish. Not ready to write it off as it could just be a bad bottle.

Chassagne-Montrachet, Les Caillerets 1er Cru

More harmony on the nose - balanced pineapple

The palate is bright and fleshy but no flabbiness - the acidity keeps it in line.

Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru **

Very tight nose - piercing lemon and pineapple fruit.

Already signs of good integration. Waves of citrus and rich, fleshy, textured secondaries cascade one after the other. Really fine, but it should be.

Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 'L'Estimee' *

Nose is floral, but a touch confected.

Quite exotic on the palate. More-ish. Better than Clavillon? More approachable, but not as structured.

Santenay Clos de Tavannes 1er Cru *

Quite simple, though pure, red fruit on the nose.

Good, classic, juicy, crunchy cranberries, raspberries and strawberries on the palate. Nice, fruit-forward stuff.

• As a range, it's solid, but not overwhelming. The Batard was lovely.

Table 4: Vincent Dancer

Bourgogne Blanc 2009

Fresh nose with toast and oyster shells.

Clean and crisp with mint, flint and green apples.

Meursault Corbins

Bit dumb on the nose. Perhaps a touch of cheese?

Surprisingly light & simple. Unimpressed.

Chassagne-Montrachet Tête du Clos 1er Cru

The nose and palate seem tainted by off ewe's milk. Poor.

Meursault Les Perrières 1er Cru

Better, but not great. Lemon and rocks. Little definition.

Pommard Perrières

Big nose, confected edges

Too light on fruit and heavy on tannin. Very disjointed.

Pommard Pezerolles 1er Cru

Sweaty nose

Agressive, stalky palate.

• Considering how universally awful the rest of the wines were, I'd like to retaste the basic Chardonnay, just to make sure it's not shit.

Table 5: Martelet de Cherisey

Puligny-Montrachet Hameau de Blagny 1er Cru

Seems to have refermented. Smells and tastes of scrumpy.

Puligny-Montrachet Chalumeaux 1er Cru

Less like scrumpy, but still very much apple-y.

The palate is nicely textured. Seems a touch expensive.

Meursault-Blagny La Genelotte 1er Cru *

More apples, but not fermenting. A touch of spice as well.

Nicely rounded on the palate and quite rich. Are their holdings all near apple orchards?

Blagny Rouge La Genelotte 1er Cru **

Red apple skins on the nose with loads of eastern spices.

Savoury, textured and backwards. Promising stuff.

• They're expensive and taste of apples. That makes no sense to me. The red was really good though.

Table 6: Follin Arbelet

Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru

Quite light on the nose, surprisingly.

Candied palate. Not showing well at all. All glycerol and boiled sweets. Shame.

Aloxe-Corton *

Red apple and cranberries on the nose.

Crisp and crunchy palate of red apple skins and ripe cranberries and red currants.

Aloxe-Corton Clos de Chapitre 1er Cru

Bit dumber on the nose - similar but perhaps a touch more floral.

Backwards but compelling red fruit and crushed rose petal.

Corton Bressandes Grand Cru **

Punchy soured cherry jumps into the mix now, riding the crest of bright red berry fruit on the nose.

Morello cherries, chantilly cream, cranberries all knitting together nicely and showing great length.

Romanée St Vivant **

Craisins (yes, I just used Craisin on a tasting note. Awaiting cease & desist order from Ocean Spray) with bright cherries.

Ripe, rich, sweet red fruit with flower petals and a solid, dark backbone.

• Very disappointed in the Corton Charlemagne, but the reds were strong. The village Aloxe Corton could very well fill a gap.

Table 7: Robert Chevillon

Bourgogne Rouge ***

A touch backwards and farmyardy on the nose.

Lovely, rounded, generous but not flabby palate. Soft and delicious.

Nuits St-Georges Vieilles Vignes **

Fantastic nose. Bright and perfumed.

Gorgeous palate of floral red fruit - feminine red Burgundy and damn fine at that.

Nuits St-Georges Les Bousselots 1er Cru ***

The bright red trio: cherries, cranberries & strawberries in boisterous abundance. Perfumed edges.

The palate is compelling; peppermint tea wrapped around those berries from the nose with a great, dark backbone.

• We should buy all of these. The most impressive range of the bunch.

Table 8: Bruno Clair

Marsannay Blanc **

Nose is bright, pithy lemon.

Great, zingy acidity with lemon and lime rind texture. Gripping, zingy and impressive.

Marsannay Rouge Les Longeroies

Fleshy & forward. Lacking structure. Disappointing. Any chance of Vaudenelles?


Light, floral nose.

Soft and pleasant on the palate, with crushed red berries and a gentle finish.

Chambolle-Musigny Véroilles

Slight hints of mint and cedar on the nose.

Comes through on the palate - good integration with the fruit and nice length.

Gevrey-Chambertin Petite Chapelle 1er Cru

Good nose with soft fruit - simple but suggesting more to come.

Ripe strawberries with powdered sugar (is this an aspect of the vintage?) and great, vibrant acidity.

Gevrey-Chambertin Cazetiers 1er Cru ***

Very deep on the nose - dark and foreboding. Exciting in that.

Fruit a touch light at the moment, but there's an underlying power there. This will grow into greatness as there's a brightness and promise of things to come. Hard to explain, but this will be legendary stuff.

• Some great wines - I feel the Santenay Blanc is well worth buying in quantity, and the Cazetiers is far and away worth the premium.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Consolation 'Petit Gris' Carignan Gris/Blanc Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes 2010

I need to place my usual disclaimer here - I have helped make the wines here since the 2008 vintage and am intending to continue that tradition. With this particular cuvée, my involvement included monitoring its fermentation, taking its density readings and making sure it didn't get too hot. So, really, I had very little constructive to do with it. Still, these wines are close to my heart, and there is a certain amount of bias in my notes. Take everything I write with a pinch of salt. You should probably do that anyway.

Carignan Blanc is a mutation of Carignan Gris, which is a mutation of Carignan, which doesn't need a 'Noir' after it because that's just what it is.

Light silver with greenish gold highlights.

Melon and limes on the nose with notes of lemon rind. Perhaps a touch of hay and sea salt. Cool and fresh.

That melon and mixed citrus comes through richly on the palate but then draws back in, tightening with a nice, precise, acidity. Fleshy mouthfeel that treads that line between waxy and fibrous. I see this as kind of an exotic, Mediterranean 1er Cru Chablis. The length is superb.

Enjoyed this with homemade fajitas on homemade tortillas and it was a fantastic match, able to hold its own and shine with the spice of the food.


Tasted at Shorehead 24/7/2011

Chateau Haut-Brion 2001

I must confess, I'm in-between jobs at the moment. This has staggered my tasting somewhat. Fortunately, I have good friends who persist with tasting and against all odds continue to invite me to join in on some of them.

Should the wine world and my income continue along along their current courses, notes like this will get rarer for me. I can't afford First Growths anymore (to be honest, I never really could) and not many of my friends can either. Those that can have different priorities - mortgages and their children's education for instance - than I do. So I'm enjoying what I can, and grabbing every opportunity that comes up.

Touch of rust to the rim, but ruby rust, not amber. Still very deep at the core.

Graphite, charcoal and a touch of pipe tobacco wrapped around plum plum skin and brambles on the nose. Hints at juiciness.

Pure, bright plummy fruit filtered through granite, pencils and cedar. Bright, gripping acidity and integrated tannins provide firm, but never mean, structure. The fruit and secondaries cascade from the beginning to the end. Classic and poised with lovely lift. Still eons to go, but surprisingly lovely at the moment.


Tasted 11/6/2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eugenio Collavini Broy Bianco Collio 2003

Sometimes, through no fault of its own, a wine just sits there. It's not a comment on its quality or even the quality of the folks selling it. The wine slips out of sight and out of mind. There's a charm to it, and from experience the discovery of those bottles can lead to a wine merchant's fondest vinous recollections. Of course there are all sorts of stock-control systems in place to prevent this, but those are the stuff of mere mythology in certain small wine merchants in North-East Fife.

I didn't expect this to be one of those fond memories. A small glance through the archives of this blog will show my deep suspicion of the 2003 vintage in Europe. I feel I'm justified with this view. But dogma is a terrible thing in wine, and there are no absolutes. I'm happy to say that this was an exception.

Quite a rich gold and yellow - mature, but not over the hill looking.

Quite buttery, toasty and tropical nose. Mangoes & pineapples. Sweet lemon.

Intense butter soaked pineapple on the palate, with waxed candied lemon peel and mouth-filling, rich, toasted biscuits and brioche. I'm surprised at the balance, considering the year. Puts to shame a 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet '03 tried yesterday that had no life, only flab. Still too pricey, perhaps, but decadent, balanced and reflecting of its vintage without being rubbish.


Tasted 15/06/2011