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

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...


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 intermingle with floral, mineral, spicy, and peppery notes with a touch of earth. The palate is gorgeous, with 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 2004 vintage, which was not as ripe as 2003 or even as complex as 2005.

Although some aspects of the vintage 2004 resemble more of 2001, it also seems to be a good compromise between 2002 and 2006, two vintages with great whites and some interesting reds for those 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.

Yet, it is still too young and green, in my opinion, and deserves a bit more time to get more integrated. Hoping that the green notes will somewhat diminish too, yet I'm not so sure about that as usually green notes, astringency, and bitterness never really disappear even with time, as if not ripe enough to start with, they will remain.

I can already hear people saying negative comments, but, at the end of the day, and despite what I said above, I still think that one should give more credit to this wine and to a certain extent 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, some producers succeed to make some good and/or interesting wines. And, this wine confirmed, once again, that exceptions can exist even in odd vintage. It is only a matter of being open-minded and adventurous enough to find them.


Ledomduvin (a.k.a. Dominique Noel)

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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.


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


LeDom du Vin

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

Pictures courtesy of 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!


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!


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.


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.


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.....


LeDom du Vin