Archive for the ‘Wines’ Category

2006 Jean Foillard, Morgon Cuvee 3.14

novembre 7, 2010

The wines of Jean Foillard hold a cult-status in France. Hardly known outside of the hexagon, they deserve an awful lot of attention, as they are unique and quite simply great. Produced naturally, thus without sulfur they are fresh, easy drinking marvels that are miles away from what usually comes out of the Beaujolais. Tasting his « cote du Py », coming from Morgon’s most renowned vineyards, on the slopes of the hill called Py, one finds a wine that just screams pleasure. It is easy to drink, cheap, incredibly enjoyable and oh so well made. Fantastic stuff. Anyone who tries this will love it. However, the real deal is the 3.14, with a more funky label, and a slightly higher price tag. But, mind you, whilst the Cote du Py is an easy-drinking wine, this is serious, very serious stuff. More concentrated, complex, richer and maybe even more balanced, it will win you over in just seconds. The wine has a richness, that is incredibly fresh at the same time. That might sound a bit strange but its the way it is, believe me! Having tasted it three times (always 06) over the last few months I must say that it is one of the most characteristic wines I’ve had during that time. A real treat, for a ridiculous £30 at the Sampler for instance. Run and get some, you’ll love it!

 

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2007 Sine Qua Non Pictures Grenache

octobre 27, 2010

Californian wines are overly fruity, too heavy, big, rich, jammy,… those are all adjectives Europeans like to use when describing the wines of the other side of the world (for us). Looking at restaurants or wine dealers in Europe (England excluded), finding a wine from the « new world » is nearly impossible. Finding a serious one even more so, if that is possible to imagine. However, a good thing about being in England is that one is not as prejudiced as the continentals (me being one of them). Therefore you can spot wines such as Harlan, Marcassin, Sine Qua Non, and others on a number of restaurant lists throughout London, and when going through some of the more interesting wine shops, you will be able to find some of these beauties too.

So, now to the wine itself. To put it frankly, it was simply an outer-worldly experience. Every single aspect of the wine was frighteningly close to perfection. But, one after the other. First of all, the labels that Krankl designs are superb. Provocative at times, but always catchy and more interesting than some gothic script spelling out the domaine’s name. Secondly, he changes name and label of every wine, every year. I don’t know many winemakers who do that. Makes it all the more interesting. Thirdly, and most importantly, the wines are truly outrageous. After having it decanted for about an hour or so, this very young wine opened up with a beautifully complex and intense nose. It was just as hard to describe the nose as it was to describe the flavours, therefore I won’t even attempt to do that. However, all I can say is that it was startling, and incredible. There were aromas that I have never had on red wines, especially not on such young ones. Another fascinating point was the texture, yes you read texture, as this had real texture. It was lush, juicy, very concentrated, without being too jammy or cloying, and quite simply a perfectly balanced, intense drop of wine. I have never come across anything like it, and I must say that I hope to be able to have a bit more, at least from time to time, as this was one of those crazy moments that one has very, very rarely when drinking wine.

P.S.: If you open a bottle of it, try to be reasonable and save some for the day after. You’d be surprised by how it changes its character. Dare I say, a grouse at the Ledbury would have trouble finding a better partner…

Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs

octobre 17, 2010

Sometimes you are taken by surprise. Drinking this wine proved to be one of these occasions. After I read lots about Olivier Collin’s wines, I had very high expectations, but when I tasted this bottle, I knew better… This was absolutely glorious juice! It was a powerful wine, one with tension, but which had a complexity and delicacy one rarely finds. It was rich with lots of fruit coming through, just the way I like it. However, there was more to it, a freshness, and clean-mineral note that one gets in very few Champagnes. Dare I say it made my day. Absolutely terrific stuff!

Sad to know that I have only one bottle left… Well not for long I hope.

2000, Vosne Romanee 1er cru « Les Suchots », Domaine Prieure-Roch

avril 27, 2010

Prieure Roch’s 2000 Vosne Romanée 1er cru “Les Suchots” moved me, from the first sip to the very last drop. This small domaine, based close to the village of Nuits St. Georges is run by Henry-Frederic Roch, who is a descendent of the Leroy family, which makes the expectations are rather high. The fact, that he co-signs the bottles of the Domaine de la Romanee Conti doesn’t hurt neither. He should know how to make good wine with his partner and regisseur Yannick Champ.

The wines are not filtered, and biodynamic if I’m not mistaken. This explains the cloudy, quite bright and shiny colour of these beauties. The wine in question is somewhat pale, and intriguing. The smell of this nectar is intoxicating.  Such an incredible nose is just hard to describe, there is truffle, you find very ripe berries, the wood’s slightly sweet smokiness is also there, and some leathery, earthy smell rounds things off. A first sip confirms this nose directly. The balance is just right at the moment. There is a fresh acid note, the fruit is still there and very present, and the tannins are so smooth, you could think you are drinking silk. It took me two days to finish this bottle, something, that rarely happens to me. But this was so good, I simply wanted it to go on and on and on. Wow, wow, wow. I loved it.

Bereche & fils, Craon de Ludes, France

avril 6, 2010

I have become more and more fascinated with the wines of the Champagne over the last few years. From the rather boring, over-priced, mass-produced cuvees of the big houses, to the exciting wines from the best of the growers, this region has an enormous width and depth on offer. I was lucky enough to spend a day in the Champagne a little while ago, which started in Ludes, more precisely in Craon de Ludes. Here, the Bereche family is making wines since 5 generations. The face of this small, family-owned company, at least for me, is Raphael, who is young, dynamic and incredibly passionate about what he does. In addition he’s a lovely chap, who loves good food and cooking. That doesn’t seem like a bad starting point! When I arrived at the winery I was warmly greeted, and we went straight to one of his vineyards, where the taille was in full motion.

What fascinated me in Raphael’s approach was his desire to make wines that are close to the earth. He doesn’t speak of terroir, but of the earth on which his carefully tended vines grow. That’s also a part he considers vital in determining the wine’s character, and therefore puts great effort in looking after it in the best possible way. Furthermore, his perfectionism can be seen in all he does, up to the choice of his barrels: DRC barrels are used for the elaboration of red wines (they might produce a coteaux Champenois soon), and Pierre Yves Colin Morey’s for the white wines. Those are some of the finest domaines in Burgundy, and it’s interesting to see how the best growers in Champagne fall back on their southern confreres in the barrel choice: Selosse with his Leflaive oak, and Prevost using Coche-Dury’s old wood are but two examples. In addition, Raphael uses different ideas and techniques to elaborate his wines, and is playing with some highly interesting methods at the moment, the fruit of which we might be able to taste, if he is happy with it.

So, speaking of his wines, what do they taste like? What I found striking in them are a few characteristics, to be found in most of the wines. First of all, they are incredibly refreshing, precise and well made. If one tastes his Beaux Regards Chardonnay, it just feels like a fresh breeze in the summer. There is a very subtle oaky note in there, quite a bit of citrus fruits on the palate and a fine, creamy perlage. Drink this with some delicate sea food starter, and you’ll be in heaven. Raphael was speaking about a smoked scallop ceviche, and I couldn’t agree more with him.

At the same time, his wines are very pure. They have very little or no dosage at all. But, due to impeccable ripeness, and perfect vinicifation, one doesn’t miss any sugar. There is always a great balance between the fresh acidity, he so much likes and a intense fruitiness, coming from the lower yields (about a third less than average in the Champagne) and perfectly ripe grapes. This is best illustrated in his Brut Nature. Naturally, without added sugar, this wine is in the same line as the Chardonnay, but has a bit more punch to it. If one gives it sufficient time to open, this wine is simply exquisite. One can only fall in love with it immediately. It’s a wine that is incredibly enjoyable to drink.

However, the finest of his wines does not resemble any of the other wines in his portfolio: Reflet d’Antan is his top cuvee and deservedly so! Here, one has a wine of impressive vinosity, and intensity, which is a bit sweeter and richer than the rest of the wines. Raphael makes no more of 3000 bottle of this per year, and uses a reserve perpetuelle system, started in the late 1980’s to elaborate this cuvee. Although not everyone will love this wine, I believe that no one will regret giving it a go! It’s more than worth it, plus it can stand up to pretty much anything you can put on a plate (albeit a lievre or so might be pushing it). I adored it.

Raphael’s wines have fully convinced me, even if I wasn’t quite sure if his style (fresh, clean, fine) would be what I like (big wines). However, his cuvees are so well made, that they can hardly do anything but make you fall in love. They are among the best valued wines in the Champagne for the quality one gets,  so do give them a try.

Aby Duhr, Chateau Pauque, Grevenmacher

mars 22, 2010

Luxembourg produces a rather substantial amount of wine, at least given the country’s miniscule size. But, apart from one single producer the rest is easy drinking decent stuff at best, and quite horrible at worst. This wine maker I am talking of is Aby Duhr. In his Chateau Pauque in the Mosel village of Grevenmacher, he creates incredibly interesting wines. The man is among the founders of Domaines et Traditions, a group of serious winemakers from Luxembourg, which produce selected cuvees for this label, and is active in the grand jury europeen. All of this taken apart, what interested me since I first tasted his wines in December 2009, was what the rest of his production tastes like.

So, after returning from London for a few weeks, I drove down to the Mosel to taste a few wines. We started with a flight of ’08 Rieslings. Whilst this was a more or less difficult vintage on the Mosel, Duhr managed to create wines, which still show an incredible balance, and body. Among the finest examples was a old vines cuvee, coming from two different sites. This was an incredibly powerful wine, which had dramatically reduced yields (his rendement is about a quarter of what is usual in Luxembourg) and was harvested in mid to end November. So technically, he could market this as a late harvest, but he decided not to. At around 15euro or so, this is a steal, and will develop gracefully over the next few years. Among the other great Rieslings was a stunning Sous la roche, from a newly aquired vineyard (harvested on the 20. November!), and a Grevenmacher Fels.

Moving on, we stepped over to something I tasted at Christian Bau’s phenomenal restaurant: Les Fossiles, which if I recall correctly is a Pinot blanc. We compared the ’07 and ’08, which showed the ’08 as even more dry and mineral. Both of these are incredibly well made again, and show what potential this type of grape has, in the hands of a great winemaker.

His top end cuvees- Clos du Paradis, Chateau Pauque and Clos de la falaise– are all well worth the price of around 30euro per bottle. The first and last are Chardonnays, which rival the very best wines of Burgundy in terms of power, balance, and finesse. To be honest, one of the greatest wine memories of last year was his ’05 Chateau Pauque, which I drank on NYE, without knowing what to expect. Upon opening, it showed as something of incredible power and grace. It had bags of fruit, underlined by a very fine acidity, and a very subtle sweet smoky nose from the barrel ageing. This is without doubt among the finest wines at that price, at least I haven’t found much better wine for this price.

If you can, try the Clos du Paradis. You will not regret it! It’s a pure Auxerois. A grape common in Luxembourg, but disregarded as something trivial, without much of an interest. Durh however, manages to elevate it to the very highest level. With a production of no more than 500-600 bottles per year, he makes this wine as his top cuvee. It is absolutely stunning. We tasted ’99 and ’03, with the former being more marked by evolution, possibly close to it’s maturity, and the latter displaying quite a rich basket of fruit. I would have had no clue as to what we were drinking, had he not told me that it was a 100% Auxerois. Unbelievable.

After having gone through a fair bunch of his wines, it must have been around 20 or so, we moved on to Dagueneau’s ‘04s. Starting with Pur Sang, which was quite powerful and mineral, we then moved to Damnatus Mons, without doubt the greatest Sancerre I have tried. Finally, a glass of Silex was poured. I prefer the ’07, but this was brilliant without doubt.

Last of the bunch, after 4 hours of tasting was a ’07 Chambolle Musigny from Meo Camuzet and a number of their white Hautes Cotes de Nuits “Clos St. Philibert”. The best was the ’97, whilst ’06 was quite rich, in contrast to the very mineral ’07. These were all much better than a ’07 Pernot Pulingy Montrachet, which served as contrast.

This was a beautiful afternoon. Aby Duhr should get much more attention, as he is a pioneer in Luxembourg, someone who is obsessed with what he does and does it brilliantly well. Throughout the tasting he stressed the point that he makes wines, that should be enjoyable to drink: “I want to drink my wines”. A point, many seem to forget. If you are in the area, do take the time to stop by and buy a few cases. It doesn’t get much better on the Mosel.

Quelques Champagnes: Blanc de Noirs

février 13, 2010

During the last few months I drank a number of highly interesting Champagnes, thoughts on which I’d like to share here. First up are a few remarks, by no means professional, on blanc de noirs Champagnes, drunken over the last weeks.

Amongst the most impressive wines I’ve had in my short life was without doubt a bottle of Anselme Selosse’s Contraste. This blanc de noirs, from the finest grand cru sites of the Champagne, is a wine that is so powerful and intriguing that one can hardly forget it. From the moment the first drops land in your glass, you are surrounded by the smell of red fruits, and just want to dive in. When you taste the wine for the first time, it’s close to an earthquake. After having let it rest for a few minutes, it has lost the agressivity of the bubbles and one has the fine mousse, the incredibly powerful, vinous wine and the unbelievable finish. WOW! If the thing weren’t so bloody expensive, I’d drink it every single day. DIVINE.

Contraste- Jacques Selosse

Another very lovely wine was Bertrand Gautherot’s cuvee Fidele. Here, one had a wine that was a little less concentrated and powerful than the Contraste, but that also had a very singular, and by all means charming character. There was maybe a slightly more present acidity in this wine, which made it seem a little fresher or less mature. This is a bargain, as the wine costs around £35, and is definitely worth trying, if you have the opportunity. Excellent.

Fidele-Vouette & Sorbee

Another highly intriguing wine, one that kept me busy for a whole evening was Jerome Prevost’s La Closerie Les Beguines. This was a bizarre wine (100% Pinot Meunier). After about 15mins I smelled it for the first time, and thought I about to drink a cidre. The palate nearly confirmed that impression, although the bulles were much finer than those of (very good) cider. I had one glass and put it back in the cold for half an hour. After those 45mins, the wine changed it’s character completely: The sweet woody character of the oak (Prevost uses Coche-Dury’s barrels it seems) became apparent on the nose, and the wine suddenly began to taste a bit more like a wine, lost some of that cider-character. I can’t really describe the taste, but I started to like it more and more as the evening progressed. About 2 hours after I had opened the bottle, it seemed at it’s best, and at the end of it, I was able to safely say, that a wine had never ever puzzled me more than this. A unique wine, that won’t please everyone, but can be fantastic if you’re open-minded.

La Closerie, Les Beguines- Jerome Prevost

Another great wine was the R.H. Coutier 2002 Grand Cru Ambonnay. I drank this at the Sportsman, and fell in love with it straight away. With lots of depth, and highly concentrated, this wine was absolutely lovely. I don’t know much about the grower, and can’t find much about him, not even his address, but I certainly hope to find some more of his bottles. They’re very well made, easy-drinking powerful wines that are very reasonably priced (I paid £40 for the bottle). Excellent.

Coutier 2002

The last of the bunch will be Benoit Lahaye’s Brut Nature. Now this has 10% Chardonnay in it, but I can let it pass in this post. Without dosage, the wine remains very fresh, very vivid (the bottle was disgorged in June ’09) and had a quite youthful acidity. However, the 45% reserve wines give this wine a sufficiently complex and powerful backbone, which makes it another great easy-drinking Champagne. What is great here is the power of the Pinot gets a little freshened up with the addition of the Chardonnay. This gives it a unique, but great note. Very good.

Brut Nature- Benoit Lahaye