Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

As today is the last day of this year 2012, I just wanted to wish you all the best, health and success for the New Year 2013. 

Happy New Year 2013



And to bring you one last 2012 smile, 
I'd like to share a few intriguing signs found here and there around Hong Kong.


I'm confused? No Cigarettes, only Pipes allowed?.....

How can children play and have a good time outside with so much restrictions in most public parks around town? More especially, if they can't "No Drying of Linen and clothing" and "No hawking"....






Obviously kids who smoke when they play with their "Remote-Controlled Model Car" must be a big problem in Hong Kong, as it is very often the only sign covered by the "No Smoking sign" on the board (see both above pictures)...


Hey! How did that happen? The "No Smoking sign" is now incorporated with the other "No" signs.
What about a bit less restrictions for kids who wants to play in the parks as they are the only gardens and green playground they can have due to Hong Kong lack of space and activity areas? 


Traditional typo....

Hawking anyone?


Happy New Year 2013
Enjoy!
LeDom du Vin   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tasting Session with Bertrand Demontoux portfolio

This an old post that I totally forgot to publish, so here it is. Bertrand, I hope you are well and New York is treating you good.

Tasting Session with Bertrand Demontoux portfolio  

I have known Bertrand since I've worked in PJWine.com, let's say at least for 5 or 6 years, may be more. During that time, I saw him evolved from fresh French salesman and brand manager representing Jaillance to constituting his own portfolio and now having his own distribution company.

He is not even 30 and has already embraced the New York city mantra: "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere."

For the past two years, he put most of his efforts, time and more especially savings into that project. Traveling various regions of France during his spare time to find the right producers, and the most expressive, balanced, Terroir oriented wines with excellent quality / price ratio.

Tall, always put together and formally dress, Bertrand has a taste for quality, refinement and elegance, which is reflected in all of his wines and their labels that he even took pride to redesign himself, for better consistency, image and presentation. And it works pretty well, I must say. Even customer's comments and fee back regarding his wines and labels are full of praise.

Bertrand is now part of these small importers / distributors who have flourished over the last 4-5 years and enabled New York to become one of the greatest wine cities, or should I say "Vinocity, of the world, by offering more eclectic and esoteric wines from smaller, more artisanal, often Organic, Biodynamic, Lutte Raisonnee and / or sustainable producers and wineries, located in previously little known, poorly regarded or rarely mentioned as well as up-and-coming viticultural areas of both world.

He passed by the other day with 6 wines and I need to admit that I liked all of them. His portfolio is rather small for now, but the producers and their wines have been chosen very carefully for their balance, elegance, focus, complexity and Terroir characteristics. Moreover, they are all Natural wines (Bio or Organic or Lutte Raisonnée or Sustainable).

Here are a few of the wines that we tasted that day:



2010 Clos des Augustins Pic Saint-Loup Rosé Languedoc France 
Suggested retail price $14-$16
Imported / distributed by Bertrand De Montoux

60% Cinsault and 40% Grenache. Biodynamic and vinification in cement tank. Clean, soft, unctuous, creamy, mouth coating yet bright and crisp due to refreshing acidity; excellent balance, long, mineral, a touch spicy on the finish. Beautiful texture and acidity and focus. Great quality / ratio wine from an appellation lesser known to the US market. Very nice. (more info at www.closdesaugustins.com)





2010 Château d'Anglès La Clape Rosé Classique Languedoc France
Suggested retail price $14-$16
Imported / distributed by Bertrand De Montoux

80% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah & 10% Grenache. Lutte raisonnée, cuve beton (cement tank), from  La Clape, which one of the best appellation of Languedoc, located east of Narbonne, regrouping about 20 wineries sharing the "Montagne de La Clape" directly facing the Mediterranean sea. The wine is produced by Eric Fabre, ex-Technical Director of Château Lafite Rothschild, which says it all. Light melon color, fragrant nose, the palate is textured, oily, mineral, long, lot of depth and complexity. Lovely well crafted wine. (more info at www.chateaudangles.com)





2009 Domaine des Pierrettes "Element Terre" Sauvignon Blanc Rilly-sur-Loire France by Geffard et Guilbaud
Suggested retail price $12-$15
Imported / distributed by Bertrand De Montoux

100% Sauvignon Blanc. Lutte raisonnée, produced by Vicent Guilbaud et Cyril Geffard, who learn some of their skills at Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin. 18 hectares of vines. Very crisp, soft, light, good acidity, mouth coating, ample, excellent balance with a lot of character. limey, crispy finish.  Lovely. (more info at www.domainedespierrettes.fr).

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Thinking out loud.... Boozeday: a Mayan Calendar misinterpretation




(presumably) Acan - Mayan God of wine

Boozeday: a Mayan Calendar misinterpretation (a good occasion to unveil some of our stashed wine gems).


As we are coming closer to the fatidic date of December 21st and the misunderstood and misinterpreted message from the Mayan calendar supposedly announcing Doomsday or/and the end of the world, I think it is about time to think about opening some of these precious bottles stashed away for better occasions, and rename that day: Boozeday!

My view is the positive one:

Such occasion to celebrate may not happen again (or will it?). Wait a minute, the end of the world has already been predicted many times over since the middle ages and more especially over the last few centuries and so far we are still here. It was even supposed to happen last year in October, and some new source says that it won't happen this year but in 30 years from now.

Moreover, depending on certain calendar depending on tradition, culture, religion and belief, the year 2012 from the Gregorian Calendar (Western or Christian calendar), which is the most internationally accepted as the civil calendar, corresponds to another year. So how can we be so sure about the interpretation of ancient hieroglyphs pointing at the end of a Mayan calendar dating back from 1,300+ years earlier discovered about 40+ years ago?


Chichen Itza Mayan Temple (that my wife and I visited during our honeymoon)


Well, some interpretations talk about doomsday, the end of the world as we know it: planet crashing against the earth, giant meteorite encounter or even the lining up of all the planets in our solar system and all the consequences that may result from it. Some even push the theory of Aliens visiting earth (again? anyone wants to meet in Bugarach?). But other versions, more optimistic, favor the probability of a conscious awakening of mankind, an enlightenment, a considerable change for the better. And I tend toward the latter.

After all, what is the end of the world and how can we really interpret it? For some people that have been the victims of wars, genocides, famines, diseases, contagions and natural catastrophes, the end of the world already came. Think about it. They lose their family, friends, houses even their hopes and dreams. Despite some help from the local community and benevolent people, certain Governments and some ONG and other Foundations, they lost everything they knew and love.    

So, I'm hoping for a considerable change for the better. A better understanding of our world as a whole, not necessarily divided anymore by greed, envy, power, politic, money, religions and races. A needed step to move forward and end the non-sense that we can witness everywhere, everyday. A better comprehension of our different cultures and traditions and what we can learn from them to satisfy our needs and preserve our world.

And for that we need common sense, intelligent reflexion on solutions rather simply pointing at the problems and more especially a lot of people that are willing to change things, rather than just a minority as it is the case presently. But we also need the best friend of men for the past 4000+ years: wine.

Wine as always been present and fervent actor of some of the most historical decisions ever made in the history of mankind. Beer and other spirits like Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Bourbon, Pisco, Mescal, Tequila, Rhum, Sake and other Jiu, may have had an invaluable influence too on the greatest minds of our times.

It was customary for the Egyptian. Greek and even the Roman Empire to consume an insane amount of wine apparently, embedded in their culture, tradition and life style. As a proof, one can also come to realize that the Roman Empire boundaries stopped were they couldn't produce wine (due to the climate, geography, etc....). And I will pass on the chapter of Christianity and the knowledge of the monks perpetuating the planting of vines and thus the production of wine everywhere they went for the purpose of the church as the sacramental wine, their own and their landlords consumption and the undeniable impact on western world and overall modern civilization up to these days.

In any case, end of the world or not, let's take that opportunity as an excuse to invite and gather with friends and family to enjoy a great meal and open some great bottles of wine. Because, if the end of the world happens then you will have had a great time enjoying a gargantuan meal with some of the greatest wines that you stashed away for special occasions. And if we all happen to survive until the 22nd, then the only thing worth remembering will be that you had a great time (maybe a great hangover too) and life can continue.

Yet, it may have made you realize something else too (conscious awakening anyone?). And when I say you, I'm not talking about you only, but us all, to realize that we definitely need that change to happen, and from a simple theory transform it into a reality. Men finally coming to their senses to realize that something grandiose and meaningful needs to happen for the good of the human race: turn the page, forgive and forget the past and look toward the future by learning from our mistakes and go forward at  a more peaceful and creative pace, rectify our behaviors and open our minds.  

And the only thing that can really open our minds is wine. Wine makes you usually happier, more confident, gives you a spark of freedom of speech and invigorate your ideas and dreams. As it has been said for centuries, wine, more than any other alcoholic beverages, basically untangles your brain and tongue.

Doesn't he look thirsty with his tongue out?
He could use a good glass of wine  or some Mescal for sure ...

Whatever you may do on the 21st of December of this year, make sure a glass of wine is not too far to quench your thirst (whatever thirst that is). Some may think about having their greatest meal, watch their favorite movies or TV series; some will go to a concert or a party; some will think of the most intense sex endeavors, some will think about their past, the best moments and memories of their life; some will try to go to their favorite places; some will be surrounded and some will be alone; some will be sad, depressed and afraid; some will even think the worst as we can already witness all over in the news.

However, whatever you decide to do on that day and whatever may happen (that is if something really happen, but I don't think so), whatever will come after will and need to be better in any way, shape or form. It has to be a day of reflexion upon ourselves and our actions in our everyday life, with ourselves and with others.

A chance to gather with the ones we love and the things that have a sentimental meaning for us, and to understand what is important in our life. What do we want to do with our life? And what can we do to make it better?

And what better than a day spent talking freely, putting our cards on the table, opening up and discuss, confront each-other with the things that we always wanted to say or do, complemented by a nice glass of Jaja (French slang for wine).

Of course, you don't have to wait for the 21st to do that, but on that day, a least you will have a good excuse to do it. We all need an excuse for everything, isn't it right?

I could continue to bore you with my philosophical and spiritual way of thinking, or even develop on the great job that producers using sustainable, organic, biodynamic, Fairtrade and other Natural and "good for the people and the world" culture (and not only wine producers) achieve everyday all around the planet (as I did in many of my previous posts); or even talk to you about all the initiatives taken by millions of people everyday to make that world better, but I think that is enough for this post.

So, stay tune for more thoughts and notes on wine and life in general, and soon with the selection of wine that I may or could drink on Boozeday!

Live and drink responsibly with the respect of others and the environment. There are nothing more important than family and friends, and live a positive life the way you can with what you have.

Oh, by the way, before I forgot, there is a new French book that just came out about people that take good initiatives, it is called: Un Million de Revolutions Tranquilles by Bénédicte Manier.




I highly suggest it for those of you who can read French (no translated English version yet, I don't think). It is very informative, educational, interesting and eyes-opening in many ways.

Enjoy!

LeDom du Vin

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic, Biologique and Organic wines and spirits and food) from sustainable and natural culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe! Also follow projects and products from the Fair Trade, an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries to obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Also support 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. "Commerce Equitable" or "Fair Trade" is evidently and more than ever a needed movement connecting producers and customers, to be aware of others and their cultural and traditional products based on high quality, natural components and craftsmanship.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

2009 Cloudy Bay "Te Koko" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand




2009 Cloudy Bay "Te Koko" Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand

Who has had a taste for the extraordinarily complex and rich Pouilly-Fume wines that late Loire Valley wild boy and Sauvignon Blanc Icon Didier Dagueneau used to craft, will love Te Koko.

I had the pleasure to meet Didier at a few tastings back in the mid 90's and will never forget these brief yet memorable encounters. Wherever you are now, I'm sure you continue to craft wonders in your very unique style characteristic of your personality. Hommage a toi Didier, the wine world misses you and your gems.

"The grapes were harvested in the cool of night to preserve fruit flavor and loaded immediately into the presses. After settling the juice for a period of two to three days, the juice was racked directly to French oak barrel (less than 10% of which were new) and allowed to undergo a slow wild or “natural” fermentation. The primary fermentation, which took until December (8 months) to complete in some batches, was followed by a spontaneous malolactic fermentation. The wine was left in barrel on yeast lees until October 2010, when it was racked and lightly fined for clarity. The wine was bottled mid November." - Courtesy of http://www.cloudybay.co.nz

Behind its clear, clean pale yellow robe with greenish nuances, Te Koko 2009 presents a nice, clean and aromatic nose full of mineral, floral and slightly oaky notes mingling with zesty white and yellow fruit. Lovely and expressive despite the woody hints which are quite present yet well integrated to the other aromas. At first, in the palate, it almost feel like a white Burgundy somewhat similar to those of Domaine Leflaive, yet with a touch less mineral, but with ripper fruit. The rich texture is definitely reminiscent of a good and ample Pouilly Fume. The mineral and acidity balance well the voluminous mid-palate and gently extend towards the long finish.  Loved it. (Tasted 2.11.2012)

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More from the notes book





2006 Bouchard Pere et Fils Meursault-Genevrieres 1er Cru Burgundy France

Nice, rich, young, mineral, quite opulent and complex with some toasted oak nuances, present but not overwhelming, which add flavors and contribute to the overall structure of the wine. The viscous, mineral and textured mid-palate gently expands toward the long finish. A bit young still (kind of weird for me to say that while I normally like my whites to be younger and fresher, yet that is my opinion for this one) but already full of potential and promises. Liked it a lot.





2006 Denis Mortet Gevrey Chambertin Cote de Nuits Burgundy France 

Great cherry nose with lovely minerality, classic Gevrey Chambertin mouth-feel,  light to medium bodied yet rich and complex, enhanced by refreshing acidity, combining excellent texture and structure with a very long finish. I loved it. Here again, still very young and ardent, definitely a wine to revisit in a few years. Keep up the good job Mr. Mortet, I love your wines.

"CLIMATS En Motrot Representing a tiny climate of 7,200 square metres, “En Motrot” meaning “little lump of earth” is situated between the church and Château de Gevrey-Chambertin, close to Clos Saint-Jacques and after La Combe Lavaux. Its soils are stony, deep and compact. Au Vellé Au Vellé or “Au village” is situated right next to the church and Château de Gevrey-Chambertin. This climate, previously a clay quarry, is situated on a sleep slope facing directly east. At the bottom the soils are deep with some gravel and clay. At the top they are less fertile and peppered with smaller stones. Sometimes there is a bit of sand. Without a doubt this is one of the great climates among the AOC Villages. STYLE En Motrot offers structure, matter and spicy perfume. En Vellé produces freshness and suppleness. The blend of the two climates produces a wine that is both solid and fruity alike." - courtesy of Denis Mortet website at http://www.domaine-denis-mortet.fr






2007 Cos d'Estournel white Bordeaux
Light, bright, lemony with a good balance and acidity with aromas and flavors of white and yellow fruit, predominantly zest lemon. Nice and easy, racy and pleasing. Lovely as an aperitif or with Hors d'Oeuvres.



2000 Cos d'Estournel 2eme Cru Classe Saint Estephe Bordeaux France 
More opened on the nose than the last one I tasted, but riper and oaky(er) in the palate. More expressive nose with notes of eucalyptus  menthol, combined to the dark fruit aromas and toasted oak, coffee and bitter chocolate. In my opinion, the wood notes are still too predominant for my taste and need to settle down. In any case, the wine is still very young. It needs to be decanted and will only integrates with a few more years down the road. The classic earthiness and austerity of Saint Estephe also explain the tightness of the tannins too. To be revisited.



To be continued with a few more wines from my notes book...

Enjoy!

LeDom du Vin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2004 Bouchard Pere et Fils Le Corton Grand Cru Cote de Beaune Burgundy France







2004 Bouchard Pere et Fils Le Corton Grand Cru Cote de Beaune Burgundy France

Clean, bright, clear cherry ruby color. Rich aromas of dark cherry and berries intermingling with floral, mineral, spicy and peppery notes with a touch of earth. The palate is gorgeous, rich flavors of ripe dark cherry and red berries framed by refreshing acidity. The finish is quite long, fresh and mineral with slight herbal nuances, and present, young and slightly astringent tannins. Yet, nothing major or unexpected for the vintage, which was not as ripe as 2003 or even as complex as 2005, but, although it resembles more of a 2001, it also seems to be a good compromise between 2002 and 2006 with great whites and some interesting reds for who will do the effort to search, taste then pick and choose the right producers and vineyards. Overall, I think that this wine was really well crafted as it has great texture and structure, and the finish still has plenty of fruit to overcome the tannins and green notes on the finish. It is still too young and green, and deserve a bit more time to get more integrated, hoping that the green notes will somewhat diminish, yet I'm not so sure about that as usually green notes, astringency and bitterness never really disappear even with time. I can already hear people saying negative comments, but at the end of the day, I still think that one should give more credit to this wine and to a certain extend to the vintage too. After all, compared to 2003 and 2005, 2004 remains a good bargain vintage even if it was not highly rated in quality, yet this wine confirmed once again that exceptions exist even in odd vintage. It is only a matter of being open-minded and adventurous enough to find them.

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

1990 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage "La Chapelle" Rhone Valley France




1990 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage "La Chapelle" Rhone Valley France 

Dark, medium intensity in color, “belle robe” of dark rubis with garnet nuances. At first, the nose was also a bit tight and closed with hints of dry dust, maybe a touch of cork. So I decanted It and after about 20 minutes, it started to really express itself: expressive, fresh and youthful with dark berries, earthy notes and hints of spice and oak. The palate is generous, full, attractive, balanced and rich, conveying a young and vigorous profile, exhibiting dark fruit, soil, spice and present yet well integrated tannins. Great texture and structure overall and a long, rich finish, even it is not the best example I tasted; yet, it still remain a pretty damn good bottle of wine.

Enjoy, 

LeDom du Vin

Friday, November 23, 2012

1985 Chateau Cos d' Estournel Saint Estephe Bordeaux France

You probably noticed lately that my notes describe more expensive and high quality wines, and not anymore or rarely the good value that I used to taste, buy and write about.

Well, don't get any idea that I may have won the lottery, far from it, I just changed my job a few months ago and my boss is a wine lover and collector who has a great palate and extremely good taste for fancy rare and refined wines.

As one of the directors for his company's wine division and personal Sommelier, I do not buy anymore wines or even taste as much as I used to before while buying for boutique retailers and restaurants and I'm less aware of the current market.

However, I now get to taste some truly rare gems that I have never and surely will never be able to afford. Hence, even if only with words, I like to share these delightful experiences with you on my blog. It reminds me when I was a young Sommelier / Wine Buyer in London 15 years ago working with award winning wine lists full of these rare jewels.

I feel privilege and lucky every time I open one of these bottles, because rare and few like me have the opportunity to taste some if these truly sought after and revered wines combining history and stories, conveying emotions and nostalgia, as well as being the pinnacle of drinking luxury and the collection's centerpieces of the most established auction houses around the world from New York to London, Geneva and Hong Kong.

Nevertheless, I continue to drink pleasant, enticing, more approachable and accessible wines at home. Therefore I will go down from the luxury cloud from time to time to come back to reality and elaborate about everyday wines for everybody, not only the rich and fortunate.

Moreover, only writing about expensive wines will be like denying my roots and culture, and as a countryside Frenchman and grandson of a local winemaker, I feel the need to remain faithful to the small, independent, lesser known producers and appellations, which also corresponds more to my personality and interests.

I have been lucky enough to have tasted quite a few bottles of the following wine in this classic vintage, and I can't get enough of it. Most bottles that I have opened, although quite similar in taste and profile, behaved differently each time and evolved through the last 15 years, but the quality of the wine has remained constant to this day despite going through time and various storage conditions and handling. An undeniable sign of quality and potential for a wine of such a pedigree.





1985 Chateau Cos d' Estournel 2eme Cru Classe Saint Estephe Bordeaux France

In the glass, it exhibited a bright garnet color with slight brownish-brick nuances. The nose was nice and expressive right after opening; but knowing already that this wine needed to breath to fully unloaded its aromatic palette, I decanted it and went back to it after 30 minutes. It was then a fresh explosion of secondary and tertiary aromas. A meli-melo of nuances and hints all at the same time, dark and red berry fruit mingling with figs and old prune, mixed with floral, underbrush and oaky notes as well as mild spice, tobacco, saddle wood and soil.What a lovely nose. The palate was even more exhilarating and unexceptionably youthful (not all bottles are like that by experience, but this one was showing particularly well that day). Complex, rich with great acidity and earthiness, lively red and dark fruit and similar flavors as the nose suggested, but with more earthy, terroir oriented notes. Very long, well balanced and enticing, I loved it. It even showed the potential, texture and structure, combining the needed amount of fruit, acidity and tannins to last for quite a few more years. Definitely a pleasurable wine to get back to and give it a few more years to see how long it will last.    

Tasted on 18.7.2012

Enjoy!

LeDom du Vin


1985 Hospice de Beaune Meursault-Genevrieres Cuvee Philippe-Le-Bon Burgundy France by Remoissenet Pere et Fils


Pictures courtesy of Vinfolio.com until I put the one in my cellphone. Sorry, I know wrong producer on top of that.

1985 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Genevrieres "Cuvee Philippe-Le-Bon" Burgundy France by Remoissenet Pere et Fils 

Golden yellow color with bright reflects and clean, clear aspect in the glass. The nose at first was a bit tight and oxidative but remained fresh and pleasant. After a few minutes in the glass, it started to developed nutty-mineral character with oak nuances. The palate also expressed lot of the mineral and nutty flavors expected in such a wine. “Confit” and dried golden and yellow fruit as well as mineral, typical to Meursault rich limestone soil, mingled nicely with the refreshing acidity in the rich and voluptuous palate; a sign that this wine could probably last a little longer despite the oxidative nutty notes on the nose and palate. I personally really enjoyed it and found it very attractive, pleasing, well balanced overall and integrated. It shows some age and may have already reached its peak for some palates, but I give it more credit than that. An enlightening experience!

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A few more wines tasted at "Le Magasin" in Stanley (Hong Kong)

A few more organic and biodynamic wines tasted at "Le Magasin" in Stanley (Hong Kong)






2010 Chateau des Bachelards Moulin a Vent Beaujolais Burgundy France
Lot of Terroir and earthy, funky notes mingling with dark berries on the nose. Dark ripe cherry and more earth showed in the delineated, harmonious, fresh and very nice overall palate. Quite smooth with good acidity in the long finish. Classic Beaujolais from one of the benchmarks of the appellation, loved it.




2010 Didier Montchovet Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune
Here again, very earthy, funky and Terroir oriented. The palate offers bright flavors of red fruits and berries mingling with smoky nuances, enhanced by juicy acidity. A touch of green bitterness seem to appear in the mid-palate to fade and integrate with the other components of the wine toward the nice slightly rustic finish (a bit raw). Overall, a very interesting wine with earthy nuances, which gradually got much better and seemed more harmonious after about 10-15 minutes. No decanting needed, but it needs to breath a little to fully express itself.




2007 Didier Montchovet Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches
Like the previous one, earthiness dominated the overall profile, the palate is quite complex with great acidity, tannins and spices. Terroir oriented and a bit tight at first, but this is also due to the vintage, which was ok but not great in Burgundy.  It also needed air and a few minutes to deliver its full extend. The texture was somewhat chewier than the previous one, which was juicier and fresher. Not to sip on its own, and mainly due to the vintage this wine needs food. Much better after about 20 minutes.





2010 Clos I9 Bis Graves by Vincent Quirac Bordeaux France 

Clos 19 Bis is crafted by Vincent Quirac, who produce both Graves and Sauternes wines from small vineyards all under organic methods in the village of Pujols-sur-Ciron, about 6 km north of Sauternes. Harvested from 1.5 hectares of 40 year old vines planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this wine possesses all the classic nuances of the Graves soil and Terroir. The nose is fruity, earthy and smoky, quite typical of the Graves (which brings back a lot of memory as the wines from Graves are the ones that I started to taste, buy and sell at the beginning of my carreer 21 years ago, and I always get back to them with immense pleasure as they are usually very reliable and often good value for money). The palate is also fruity and earthy with that same smokiness inherent of the Graves soil. Lovely texture and structure overall, with present and young tannins toward the end but somehow well integrated. Vincent Quirac who was partly trained at Domaine Causse-Marines, one of my favorite Gaillac wineries, is definitely a producer to keep an eye on. This 2010 was only is 2nd vintages (I believe).  






Mouthes Le Bihan "Les Apprentis" Cotes de Duras Southwest of France

As the label could suggest it, Catherine et Jean-Mary Le Bihan are no apprentice at all. They craft their organic wines in the Cotes de Duras, a small appellation located around the eponymous village, about 100 km southwest of Bordeaux, in the northern point of the "Lot-et Garonne" department.

Cotes de Duras has too often been assimilated to Bordeaux in the past and thus suffered from being in its shadow;  which is completely understandable as the appellation location is immediately adjacent to the Bordeaux wine region, in the neighboring Gironde department, and can be seen as an extension of Bordeaux immediately to the east of the departmental border.

The similarity of these wines goes even further as the blend usually encompasses the same grapes, and this wine from Le Bihan is no exception to the rule: 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, from vines ranging between 10 and 60 year old planted on clay resting on calcareous limestone soil with presence of silex stones. Harvests are done by hand and grape bunches are carefully selected and sorted on the vines, then placed in small basket to avoid being crushed. The grapes are once again sorted and desteemed on table before going in the vat. They undergo a cold maceration before fermentation with no addition of yeasts or enzymes. Extraction is soft and long without any "remontage" (pump over) or "delestage", only a few manual "batonnage" (pushing down the cap) at the beginning of the fermentation. The resulting wine is then aged for 18 months in French oak barrel with no racking.

Unfortunately and strangely I did not write down the vintage, but it is fairly recent 2009 or 2010 maybe. However, the wine was great with a very expressive nose of black fruit and berries mingling with earthy notes and hints of cidder wood, menthol and gravely soil, somewhat similar to a Medoc. Quite explosive in the palate with lot of angles and edges, but not in an unbalanced or inharmonious way. On the contrary, with the Graves and the Hautes Cotes de Beaune (see wines above), it was my favorite of the bunch we tasted that day (for my wife too). Beautifully crafted overall with refreshing acidity that enhanced the fruit and earthiness. Loved it. Definitely not a wine to sip on his own, it deserves something to share it with, charcuterie, red meat and classic regional French recipes immediately come to mind, especially the ones from the southwest like Cassoulet de Canard de Castelnaudary, Saucisse Lentilles de Toulouse, Garbure comme en Béarn (reputed stew in Aquitaine and Midi Pyrénnées); and more locally Agneau aux pruneaux d'Agen.

Bon Appetit!

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

Step into the Green! Drink more Biodynamic, Biologique and Organic wines and spirits and food) from sustainable culture and respect the environment! Support the right causes for the Planet and all the people suffering all around the globe! Also follow projects and products from the Fair Trade, an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. Also support 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. "Commerce Equitable" or "Fair Trade" is evidently and more than ever a needed movement connecting producers and customers, to be aware of others and their cultural and traditional products based on high quality, natural components and craftsmanship.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open topic on weird organic or biodynamic wines

Open topic on weird organic or biodynamic wines

I love wines produced from organic, biodynamic, lutte raisonnee and other natural methods; more especially if they are from small, independent, fairly unknown wineries or producers.

I fully embrace the concept of respecting the environment and let mother Nature does what she does best. It is a good way to go back to the know-how of our ancestors, when we still knew how to make and take the time to craft things properly with passion and savoir faire, without really interfering but just making sure that everything was done right.

As we became aware of the need to go back to more natural methods to preserve our world and resources over the last few decades, it is, in my opinion, even more important to return to these days and ways as the world is changing and evolving so rapidly. Pushing further the limits of what we can do everyday,  medical researches, advanced technology and scientific progress are now also directed towards more natural and environmental concerned results, which do wonder when allied with natural methods in the vineyards and in the cellars.

Yet, some of us don't want technology and prefer the complete natural way, going back to ploughing the soil with a horse, doing everything by hands as well as letting all sort of wild herbs and weeds invade their vineyards; thus creating a better environment for the vines by reintroducing needed insects and other plants to fight the diseases and pests, without the use of herbicides, pesticides, chemicals or any unnatural compost. Growing up in the countryside with my grandfather, I think it is great and I'm glad some people continue to think that way.

However, like anything else, the natural way has pros and cons. In terms of wine production, not much cons as pretty much everything occures naturally without much human intervention (except maybe the following of the calendar for the Biodynamic Methods), and the pros are the respect of nature and the environment, learning how to retrieve this lost human instinct to rely on Nature itself without the needs of machine or chemicals.

In terms of wine tasting, depending on the consumer the pros can turn into cons, as they are often related to the rawness of the wine mostly due to minimal interventions in the vineyards as well as in the cellar, more especially during fermentation process with natural yeasts and ageing period in used barrels or vats or tanks, usually bottled with no racking, no filtration and no fining.

The resulting wines may be too rough, angular or rustic for the novice palates. Sometimes inharmonious or unbalanced, too many of them taste like raw and are definitely not as polished or clean as they should be, showing funkier, stronger Terroir oriented and earthier aromas and flavors (than regular wines), not always to the taste of the average consumer and difficult to sell without an explanation to warn about certain edges. 

Some winemakers even decided not to mention it on their label as it was affecting their sales, or to abandon these methods to favor the "Lutte Raisonee", which is also quite natural, but allows for more flexibility and the use of chemicals and pesticides when needed.

Fortunately lots of organic and biodynamic wines taste great, but they still only represent a minority amongst the ocean of organic and biodinamic wines that have flooded the market over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, natural wines, although much better and tastier than they were only even 5-6 years ago, still suffer from a controversial image in the consumer eyes.

Less than a decade ago, when the trend of natural methods made wines surge from western Europe to the London and New York markets, people were intrigued and excited but in the end not really satisfied. Some played the game saying, "it is a new style", "we are not just yet acquainted with them", "it is only a matter of time" or "it is about itme that we come back to more natural wines"; and the trend developed slowly, yet too many consumers have yet to be convinced.

And this surely due to the fact that some organic, biodynamic and other natrural methods crafted wines are too often difficult to approach and not accessible to everybody's palate. Some are great, even extraordinary at first taste and one can not get enough of them; but most are still too different to be fully understood at first sip. You know what I'm trying to say, you surely encountered at least one or two.   

Did you ever taste one of these weird organic or biodynamic wines? You know the types of wine that are too out there, supposedly too intellectual or too complex for anybody to really grab their essence, or in fact, for some of them, just plainly bad and tasteless.

I personally tasted quite a bunch of them, and even if I'm a defender of the organic, biodynamic and other  natural methods produced wines, I need to admit that some are just plainly disgusting and difficult to digest. Especially when you paid such a hefty price for something that your favorite local wine boutique pretends to be the next big thing in terms of taste, while it is barely drinkable.

Quite identical to regular wines, there are multiple reasons why some organic or biodynamic wines sometimes taste the way they do; and here are a few coming to mind.

Sometimes, I guess, it is just because the vines are too young and the resulting wine reveals fresh fruit but also green notes, bitterness and lack of depth and complexity (that is depending also on the richness and quality of the soil and overall Terroir).

It could also happen because of indigenous bad bacterias or yeasts present in the vineyards and / or more especially in the cellar, which affect the wine and its environment (cellar wall, roof, barrels, tanks, vats, etc...), due to lack of cleaning and disinfecting certain areas and tools.  

It might also be the result of a lack of experience from a winemaker not too acquainted yet with organic and / or biodynamic culture (bad decision, bad timing, etc...). Or on the contrary, a winemaker pushing things to the extreme, in both cases resulting in an angular wine with rough edges, lack of harmony, balance and integrity, often showing strange funkyness and strong earthiness on nose and palate.

Or sometimes it is just simple bad winemaking and that is it. Resulting in a disgusting wine that is not good when you open the bottle, and that will not evolve or never really get better in your glass or even with more time in the bottle (examples that I tasted showed weird smell - oxidized, volatile acidity, full of sulfur, excessive animal funk, or even strong cheesy, mushroom, moisture smell etc... and don't even get me started on the palate).

For the latter, some people who still think that selling wine is a lucrative business driven by money and not by passion, will always try to convince you that these wines that taste awfully wrong are "great". That it is a certain style or even that it is the producer pedigree, that it is out there, difficult to understand but that it is because you are novice about that particular taste, maybe needs decanting, etc... Do not believe them, those are bad excuses.

If the wine is shit (and god knows that as the grand son of a winemaker I hate to say that, as I tremendously respect the work of all people working in a winery), the wine is shit! (Organic, Biodinamic or not).

However, there are plenty of good examples of natural wines out there that are fantastic and worth tasting, even if sometimes, I need to admit, not always for everybody's palate.

I already described quite a few in many of my previous posts, but here is another one that I tasted not long ago. 




2009 Nicolas Testard Brouilly Beaujolais Burgundy France

Slightly off earthy nose with very ripe dark berry aromas, like grape jelly, and slight remains of carbonic maceration nuances, like if the wine recently came out of the vat, raw, unfined, unfiltred with barely perceptible bubbles. So far no problem, 2009 was a hot and ripe vintage; it is a young Beaujolais from a cru and it was crafted organically, which may also explain that slightly off-putting smell (those that are not acquainted with certain type of organic wines like this one may not like the smell). The palate is quite contrasted with the same dark very ripe fruit yet mingling with weird acidity and green edges bringing sour (acidity) and bitter (green), unripe edges probably from the stems if not remove, but more especially from unripe grape seeds; which is quite unusual for such warm vintage as 2009 which produced overall superb, soft, integrated and complex Beaujolais wines. The finish continues to offer the dark red fruit, but also and unfortunately the weird acidity and green touches too, with a subtle salty note.

Two bottles were opened, both showing the same things, too much to be coincidence, therefore it can only be the house style, or the winemaker style or the results of the decisions in the vineyard (early harvest due too much rain or the fear of over-ripeness if the weather was too hot) prior or during the harvest, that the winemaker took for this particular vintages (or all the above perhaps).

Yet, in conclusion, I will say that this wine is too funky and earthy and too inharmonious to be fully understood by most consumers; which is sometimes the case with certain producers who are producing their wines at one of the further extreme corners of the organic sphere (which is already a paradox in itself).

I usually like what Nicolas Testard does and previously enjoyed some of his wines, but this one was maybe to inharmonious for me to fully appreciate it. I will have to give it another chance in a few months to see if the wine has evolved or if it is just taste the same.

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A few more from the back pocket book


A few more from the back pocket book...


1986 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2eme Cru Classe Pauillac  Bordeaux France

Nice garnet color with brick nuances. Beautiful nose with secondary and tertiary aromas expressed by intermingled notes of forest floor, mushroom, underbrush, kirsch  cedar wood, tobacco, old prune, liquorice and hints of toasted oak. The palate is more youthful than the nose with dark and red fruits flavors inspired with spicy, smoky, earthy, slightly peppery notes coming along, especially on the finish. Somehow so young and refreshingly juicy, enhanced by great acidity and framed by a seamless tannin structure. What a lovely wine. And that attractive  smokiness, I loved it. Could last for another 10-15 years in my opinion, at least that bottle could have... 

It is funny to notice that usually the wine press and critics in general are very elogious and optimistic about the sunnier and thus riper vintages in terms of complexity  and ageing potential. Yet, in most case scenarios and especially with Bordeaux wines, it is very often the brighter vintages that show the most vibrancy and ageing potential: more particularly after 2 decades in the bottle: i.e. 1983 and 1986 compared to 1982 and 1985.

Same for Burgundy, which brings me to agree once more with all the brave and wise who said that fruit and ripeness give you flavors, strength  and texture, while acidity and integrated fruit tannins confer freshness, structure and longevity.


2 Chinese words to celebrate that last fact:

Mainland China in Mandarin or Putonghua: Gan Bei (Sante, Cheers and/or Drink it all!)

Hong Kong in Cantonese: Yam Sing (Sante, Cheers and/or Let's drink to success!)

Of course, this concept can be deceiving as riper vintages show more fruit and fuller texture and can trick you by their complexity and intensity, yet it does not mean that they will last longer compared to vintages that possess more acidity and fruit tannins; (in my opinion) on the contrary they may fade away quicker with time and gradually yet sooner lose their freshness, vivacity and fullness. The statement is a bit bold as there are many exceptions, but overall and in my experience, I think that it is the case.    




1990 Chateau d'Yquem Premier Cru Superieur Sauternes Bordeaux France 

Golden color with a slight pinkish hue. Barely noticeable oxidized notes on the nose at first. After a few minutes scents of orange fruits, mango and apricot, predominated the bouquet. Rich structure and really sweet orange and mango accents mainly composed the round and lightly spicy palate. The finish is quite unctuous and sweet yet not as long as long as expected. It showed much better after half an hour. (Tasted 18.07.2012)




1986 Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2eme Grand Cru Classe Saint Estephe Bordeaux France

Fantastic, with lovely acidity and texture, very integrated and harmonious and still full of potential. Show a youthful profile for its age in this particular bottle and seem to show better now than even a few years ago. I love it. In my opinion much better and vibrant and alive than some of the 1982 and 1985 that I recently tasted, which, once again and despite the disbelief of many in the wine press and critics, brings me back to what I was saying above regarding the acidity, structure, longevity and vibrancy of the wines from cooler vintages.

After 30 minutes decanting the wonderful nose offered attractive aromas of red and dark fruits mingling with nuanced secondary notes of mushroom, truffle, tobacco, cedar wood, pencil shave and cigar box. Well balanced, the palate was still fresh, harmonious and integrated and very healthy. This particular bottle could have definitely be kept for another 10 years no problem. (Tasted 18.07.2012)






1966 Taylor Port (Colheita ?) Portugal 

(No indication on the label but surly a Tawny judging by the brownish color of medium intensity in the glass, past experiences proved the regular vintage ports are usually darker even for old vintages). Charming overall with medium intensity yet still quite vibrant and flavorful with a spicy, peppery finish. Enjoyable but I would have loved more define fruit expression and more refine structure. Not bad but I tasted better bottles than this particular one.

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More wines from my back pocket notebooks....

More wines from my back pocket notebooks....


Everybody knows my penchant for Champagne. I even possess an extensive collection of Champagne capsules that I have been gathering for the past 20 years. My father bought me my first books to put them into and I still go from time to time to Reims, in the 2 shops the closest to the cathedral, to buy some limited edition and old and rare caps. Champagne is festive, bubbly, delicious and refreshing and usually should put a smile back on your face. Here is a few that are sure to please you, followed by a few wines from my current back pocket notebook. 




NV Billecart Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne France

Founded in 1818, Billecart-Salmon is a champagne house located in Mareuil-sur-Ay, France. The house was born from the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon. It is one of the few remaining family owned house. 

Frankly, Billecart-Salmon has always been one of my favorite Champagne houses and I love their Rosé, which is also one of my top 3 Rosés with Laurent-Perrier Rosé and Marc Hebrart Rosé (a great small producer also located in Mareuil-sur-Ay).

Although it does not have, in my opinion, the appeal of their Rosé, Brut Réserve is still a sure value. Light, bright, a touch yeasty and toasted, nothing overwhelming but always very decent, enjoyable, balanced, quite long and lovely overall. (But I still think their Rosé is way above in quality). (Tasted last on 18.7.2012)


NV Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne France

Founded in 1584, Gosset is one of the oldest Champagne houses of the Champagne region in north-eastern France, located in Ay. No need to say that I love Gosset Brut Excellence, which is definitely my Champagne Brut of choice, hands down, for any occasion. 

Light, crisp, fragrant, very feminine and elegant, Gosset Excellence Brut is like a ballerina dancing on your palate, stimulating your taste buds and whetting your appetite. Balanced and refreshing, every sip is so enjoyable, the first glass is never enough. Far from the fat and the rich, vinous Brut out-there, Gosset Excellence is simply too good to be missed, especially for the price, which remains somewhat of a bargain compared to a lot more expensive and commercial champagnes on the market. (Tasted last in February 2012)      




1990 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Champagne France 

No need to introduce Louis Roederer Champagne house that has been the Champagne of the Queens and Kings of Europe and Tsars of Russia since its the late 19th century. Or even Cristal, their prestige cuvee, available commercially since 1945, which, along with Dom Perignon and Krug, has been considered as the standard of high quality and luxurious Champagne.

Founded in 1776 under the name of Dubois Pere et Fils, it was renamed Louis Roederer in 1883 by its new eponymous owner, who inherirated the Champagne House from his uncle.

The 1990 Cristal possesses a lovely texture and a long finish, enhanced by yeasty, bready toasted notes, which mingle with aromas of yellow fruits, hay and elderflower. The balance and acidity don't fell to impress as well. Really  nice experience in the glass. I love it. (Tasted last on 18.7.2012)





2000 Chateau Cos d'Estournel 2eme Grand Cru Classe Saint Estephe Bordeaux France

Flagship of the Saint-Estephe appellation, the most northern fief of classified growth in the Haut-Medoc region, Cos d'Estournel has had an essential role on keeping the public interest on the appellation; which somewhat always seems in the shadows of other appellations.  

Despite the tremendous efforts from such classic as Montrose, Calon Segur and Cos, which, over the last decade worked hard to change that reputation and restore the public image of the appellation, producing fleshier, more opulent wines with riper fruit and richer texture, the wines from Saint Estephe still don't seem to have the appeal of those coming from the neighboring appellations to the south.

For this 2000, that I tasted many times, and specifically for this particular bottle: Nose is discreet and slightly woody. The palate is unfortunately to young and a bit tight at present. The tannins and the oak predominate overall, challenging the balance and harmony of the palate and masking the fruit. Otherwise the texture is fairly complex and rich, and the wine presents very good potential, yet for now it is too tight, tannic and closed. Not ready in my opinion, the tannins need to settle down and integrate. We will have to get to this one in a few more years. (Tasted last on 29.10.2012)

The finish is also quite dry; yet it is not surprising though as Saint Estephe wines are usually drier and more austere than most of their counterparts from the Haut-Medoc region, which may explains why consumers favor other appellations. Saint Julien, which offers the best compromise in terms of overall balance, fruit and structure, are usually fruitier; Margaux are more feminine and subtle; and Pauillac are the richest in texture and strongest in structure; while Moulis Listrac can be rustic and earthy.





1990 Chateau L'Evangile Pomerol Bordeaux France

The nose is rich of wild aromas mingling with underbrush, mushrooms, venison, game, very autumnal. The palate is rich, complex, with nice weight and length, well framed by integrated yet present tannins. Although still a bit young, it showed nice potential and decanting was needed. Let it rest for at least 45 minutes before serving. Very nice overall but still a touch too tight and chewy for my taste. The tannins may not please everybody at this time, yet the wine showed very good potential, texture and structure. We will definitely have to go back to this one within the next few years to observe the evolution. (Tasted last on 29.10.2012)






1982 Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2eme Grand Cru Classe Saint Julien Bordeaux France

As it is one of the usual suspect wines on my boss table, I had the chance to open and taste quite a few bottles and I must say that this wine is a bit temperamental. The cork is quite fragile and happens to break often. An Ah-So opener is indispensable, yet careful of not to push the cork in the bottle (Ah-So opener is normally called a twin prong cork puller). 

For this particular bottle, I didn't have my usual tools and evidently, even with the utmost care and years of experience, the cork happened to break at the very bottom. The remain part in the neck was immediately sucked in, splashing some drops all around, including my shirt, tie and my suit (fortunately dark as usual, to be used as a shied, very efficient when opening and tasting wines. Trust my experience, darker cloths are highly suggested in trade tasting and long gourmet dinners). 

Also, at first, just after opening the bottle, although the cork smell usually really good, some bottles may be slightly closed or tight on delivering their full palette aromatic, or I should say their Bouquet at this age. So the first thing that comes to mind is decanting, it needs to breath to fully express itself (what will you do after nearly 30 years stock in a bottle?). It usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes for this wine to wake up and bit more to start settling down and open up. "Patience is mother of virtue" becomes an unavoidable reality with this wine. Yet, waiting for this late bloomer is often rewarding. The drops were just a way to protest against the unjustified way to open such a bottle with a lame bottle opener. (Tasted last on 29.10.2012)






1982 Chateau Palmer 3eme Grand Cru Classe Margaux Bordeaux France 

No need to say that Palmer has always been one of Margaux most recognized offsprings. I never really tasted a bad bottle of Palmer in more than 20 years, even with older vintages going back to the 40's. They were not all great, don't get me wrong and that can be said for all Chateaux depending on the vintage; yet they were very consistent and in most case offering a really pleasant experience. 

But I'm a bit buyist as Palmer brings back to my mind very good memories of all the countless occasions I had the opportunity the be at the Chateaux or tasting the wines. Bernard  de Laage de Meux,  Palmer's marketing and communication director, has seen me under most of the roles and positions I had in the last 12 years, meeting him at the Chateau and many other places around the world: Sommelier, Maitre d'Hotel for private dinners and events working with a caterer friend of mine; Sommelier, Wine Buyer and Wine Director for established Wine & Spirits retail stores in New York; occasionally also as a guests and buyer during the 10+ years of En Primeur campaign before I stopped going because prices became way too high; Sommelier, wine buyer for restaurant while working in London and more recently Hong Kong.

Palmer is an excellent wine, and I know some people who do not like it but I do, and I can not understand what is not to like about this wine.

This 1982 was bright and light, with lovely red fruit enhanced by crisp acidity. Youthful, very gentle, smooth and refreshing, the palate is also quite versatile as it could even be nicely paired with fish. I just loved the acidity of this well balanced, very integrated and so easy to drink wine. While for most people Bordeaux is the expression of full bodied and tannic wines, this wine is the complete opposite of this image, which is one more reason for me to love it.  Highly recommended. (Tasted last on 29.10.2012)





2004 Jacques Frederic Mugnier Chambolle Musigny Burgundy 

Light, bright red showing unripe cherry aromas mingling with earthy, smoky, mineral notes on the nose. Slightly tight, it needs to open up. The palate is also light with green notes, sign of lack of ripress. Yet nothing major or even unusual for the vintage, as 2004 was not a very good vintage in Burgundy, more like a do-your-home-work-then-pick-and-choose type of vintage.

However, this 2004 nice, subtle refreshing and juicy red cherry flavors occupying the mid-palate somewhat help to forget the first impression. And the spicy, peppery nuances mixed with the mineral touch in the finish, allowed me to conclude that in the end, it is a fine example of a good wine for an ok vintage. (Tasted last on 18.07.2012)




1992 Chateau Cheval Blanc 1er Grand Cru Classe A Saint Emilion Bordeaux France

Nice surprise overall for a wine from such an odd and bad vintage as 1992 in Bordeaux. But, as they say, it is during the odd and bad vintages that one can recognize the value and quality of great producers, and more especially gifted winemakers: as it is more difficult to make good wines on bad vintages, than bad wines in good vintages. That said Cheval Blanc is never really bad, even the worst vintages always seem to deliver something more than average or mediocre.

Not everybody can pretend to be a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe A. And despite what some people may think about Bordeaux classification and especially the controversial right bank, most Chateaux were classified depending on their respective qualities, the price they fetched at that time, but also their reputation and the consumer's demand (i.e. the more demands, the higher the price and the value, hence a confirmation of the quality).

And that fact still hold strong even today. Some producers, Chateaux owners and wine trade professionals as well as wine critics may want to see certain things changing. And it is true that the tremendous efforts and quality achieved by some estates should be rewarded. Yet, the Bordelais hate changes and love the comforting idea that things will never change and things will continue routinely as they have been for the past 30 years.

In short, as long as interested buyers will be able to speculate on quality and prices before the release of the wines and continue to source and buy wines as a lucrative investment instead of for their own consumption and as long as there will be people rich enough to pay for them, then everything will be fine. 15 years ago London was strong, then New York became stronger for a while, and a few emerging countries like Brazil showed great potential and now Hong Kong and Beijing are the place to sell for Bordelais negociants who litterally turned their back or even abandoned their previous clients to concentrate on the Asian world where most of the world money has been for the past 4 years (although, it is now slightly decreasing and slowing down, but this is an entirely other subject....).

Coming back to that 1992 Cheval Blanc, I was quite impressed and it was a nice surprise as I said earlier. It lacked a bit of concentration and felt slightly diluted but it is normal for a bad vintage compared to a regular or even a good one. However, it was still focus and balanced and pretty expressive, with interesting fruit flavors, good acidity and tannic structure. Spicy, earthy, underbrush, smoky finish. Lovely and interesting overall. (Could it be a fake??? I do not think so, as we inspect the wines that we buy for the company about 3 times before buying, especially when we buy from Auction houses like Chistie's, Sotheby's, Zachy's, Acker Merrall & Condit, Spectrum, amongst others).


That's all for today, I have plenty more short tasting notes in my tasting books, so it is not good bye but to be continued with the next post.....

Enjoy,

LeDom du Vin

  


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Some old wine tasting notes starting with Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Charmes-Dessus Blanc 2009

Some old wine tasting notes starting with 
Vincent Girardin Meursault Les Charmes-Dessus Blanc 2009

Although my new job is an interesting turn in my wine career, (I changed my position 3 months ago), I'm not a Wine Buyer anymore (after more than 20 years of buying wines for retails and restaurants), and therefore do not get to taste as much as I used to. 

I need to admit that sometimes I miss the rapport that I used to have with my customers, but also the suppliers and more especially wineries and producers. Moreover, I felt more up-to-date with the wine market as I used to taste and average of 28-32 wines a day from all around the world, and that 6 days a week for at least the past 15 years.... that is a lot of wine. It seems a lot when you calculate it, but it is a regular thing for most dedicated wine buyers and frankly nothing compared to other wine professionals like famous wine critics that are surely tasting twice as much.

However, I'm still and always will be a Sommelier and part of my current job, that has to do with wine obviously (as I wouldn't leave the wine bubble for anything else in the world), allows me to occasionally taste some extraordinaire old vintages of hugely coveted classic producers, wineries and Chateaux from various French appellations, more specifically Burgundy and Bordeaux (Hong Kong oblige).

In short, I swapped quantity for quality, which is not bad I must say, especially when it comes to very rare wines and vintages that I will never been able to afford or even hope to taste.

Between my new job and my family life with my wife and kids, I have been slacking off on my writings and did not update this blog or even my website as often as I should. Shame because I love writing in both French and English, especially about wine.

So, searching in my back pockets where I always keep a pen and a little note book (a bit old fashion, I know, but it always comes handy and I prefer it to a voice recorder), I found a few old notes about some wines, including some tasted and drank in the last few events and dinners I participated to since I started in this new company.

Here is the first one of a long overdue list of wines that I should have posted on my blog over the past year and a half, since I came in Hong Kong.



Located in Santenay until recently, now based in Meursault, Vincent Girardin produces wines from Santenay, Maranges, Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault, Pommard, Beaune, and Savigny-les-Beaunes.

Vincent Girardin crafts refine structured wines characterized by their distinct crisp acidity, texture and minerality. Some people may found them lean or not ripe enough, I will say that they are refreshing, vibrant, concentrated and well balanced rather than too opulent. The rich fruit and fragrant toasted notes harmoniously complement each other, creating elegant and complex Burgundies with long ageing potential.

While some Meursault can be fat, almost oily with a lot of oak influence, the ones from Girardin (Vieilles Vignes, Les Tillets, Les Narvaux Blanc, Le Poruzots Dessus, Les Genevrieres Blanc, Les Perrieres Blanc and Les Charmes Dessus) are usually more refreshing and rather discreet (or well integrated) on the wood scents and flavors.

Production represents roughly 80% white wine, with approximately 300,000 bottles produced per year from the Côte d’Or. They also produce about 200,000 bottles per year in their Beaujolais estate.

After gradually diminishing their use of herbicides and pesticides, from 1997 onwards, they implemented more natural methods, tending towards Organic, and, as a result of their continuous efforts, were certified Biodynamic in 2007. Yet, in 2010 they gave up their certification and adopted the "Lutte Raisonnée"method, a more flexible approach of vineyard management enabling them, for example, the use of systemic treatment when really needed and giving them the choice to treat each parcel or/and vineyard individually depending on the situation.

Often compared to 1999, 2009 is a great vintage in Burgundy. Maybe my "Law of the Decacdes in Wine Vintages", once again works (see my previous post at http://www.ledomduvin.com/2012/10/is-there-reliable-law-of-decades-for.html). Resulting from the ideal warm weather and overall climate during the ripening period, the grapes presented such good degrees of ripeness and complexity bringing rapidly the alcohol level between 12.5 and 13.5%, that Girardin's team decided to harvest earlier than expected to preserve the freshness and zestyness, rather than waiting to obtain sweeter, riper wines with less vibrancy. Moreover, atop of new methods, they decreased their use of new oak to favor the quality and expression of the fruit and Terroir, thus avoiding masking the true personality and character of the wines.

The fact that they become more attentive to the vineyard management, employing more natural methods and using less oak treatment, does not mean that they fell to get an interest on the technical part. On the contrary, starting with the 2009 vintage, the team used for the first time their ‘Vistalys’ optical grape-sorting machine. State of the art machinery in the cellar and natural methods in the vineyards have proven an excellent combination to elaborate stunning gems.

Since February this year, following to an official press release, it seems that the Domaine daily operation and management of the company has passed from the hands of Veronique and Vincent Girardin to those of Jean-Pierre Nié, a well-known professional in Burgundy who is also Chairman of "Compagnie des Vins d’Autrefois" in Beaune as well as being a commercial partner of Vincent Girardin for several years now. Eric Germain, Vincent Girardin’s right-hand man and house oenologist for the past ten years will keep his position to perpetuate the high quality of the company's wines.






2009 Vincent Girardin Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes-Dessus Blanc Cote d'Or Burgundy

Very light, pale yellow color with bright reflects. Rather discreet (the wine was a bit cold even just after decantation), the charming nose exhibited beautiful, delicate, floral, mineral, almost fragile notes of white zesty fruits and more mineral on a concentrated way, but rather feminine, elegant and once again discreet not restraint (still a bit cold but it was more distinct after a few minutes in the glass). Although rich and complex with very subtile oak nuances, the palate presented the same profile (as the nose) and feminine silhouette, very discreet, elegant and very mineral. Light and refreshing, with flavors of white peach, citrus, touches of apple, lychee and green almond mingling with mineral and gently toasted, buttery notes. Endowed with really good balance and overall harmony, the structured and vibrant mid-palate developed nicely in power and complexity to reach the slightly spicy-peppery mineral finish. I loved it and couldn't get enough of it. This classic Meursault is still a bit young and deserves to be decanted, yet it is already delightful and was so easy to drink. 


Enjoy, 


LeDom du Vin 


PS: to be continued soon with more wines from my back pocket note book (books should I say as I have more than one and always take notes of everything I taste....just not enough time to write them all on this blog... ).