Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pichon Contesse de Lalande vertical

One of the best event of NYC Tasting guild is the semi-annual Bordeaux Vertical/Horizontal.

Pichon Longueville was on the menu tonight. We were tasting 97-96-95-94-89-88-86-85-83-82-78.
Charles Rubinstein was tutoring the tasting. He happens to personally know the owner, May de Lencquesaing (picture).

Baron and Lalande were originally the same chateau but the domain split after a family feud. They are now both second growth. Lalande qualifies as the castle using the most Merlot in Bordeaux, about 35% for 45% of Cab. Palmer gets about the same level. No wonder why I like them both.

My favorite were 89, 86 and 82.

The 82 had a tawny core and a brick rim. The nose was revealing some cassis, generous blackberry, some butterscotch and a light rose aromas. If the butterscotch and the cassis were prevalent in the other vintage, only the rose would differentiate this one. The palate showed a lot of finesse and a great balance. The medium tannins of the 96-95-94 on the mid palate were now perfectly integrated. The palate was articulating notes of meat juice and butterscotch.

The color of the 86 was more on the dark tawny with an orange rim. The nose was again on the butterscotch, exhibiting fine wood close to the cedar. Some red fruits were also there showing a good aromatic complexity. The palate was adding some spicy notes but the noticeable difference was a superb balance with some silky tannins.

The 82 was rated 100 by RP. This vintage was really hot and the grapes got picked really early. Because of the RP rating, Charles tried to turn us off from this vintage. But there was something to it not obvious on any other wine of the flight.
The color was brown and the rim dark orange. The nose was releasing a large palette of flavors; raspberries, red cherries, cedar and pepper. The attack was muted but the mid palate recouped the pepper and cedar flavor. The Finale of this bottle was, I thought the best of all the flight. The aromatic persistency was there and releasing this cherry and cedar aromas. And for this, it deserve to be ranked Best of the Flight.
Couldn't find an overwhelming body or a wine with an high alcohol degree. Never thought I would agree with a 100 RP but that was the case.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A world of Pinot Noir tasted blind

A fascinating tasting at Arturo's with my favorite BYOB wine club, Bacchanale.
20 bottles of Pinot tasted blind.

Burgundy was by far the favorite of the group.
First the podium. 18 tasters had 3 votes.
Chorey Les Beaunes 88 Maison Leroy wins against Clos de la Roche Dujac 1996. Silver Medal, Charles Krug Carneros 2003 is a tie.

Burgundy was recognized has the winning regions with number 1 and 2.
However, there were poorly made wines from this region (Vosne Romane Mugneret Gibourg 90, ) or tired bottles (Corton 88 Chandon de Brialles, Nuits Saint Georges Chicotet 96).

There weren't any age in the New World so the identification was easier. The acidity and the alcohol level is also always higher/lower in the New World. So with those three clues, we could at least tell which one was Burgundy. I got Corton 88 wrong. There was no tertiary flavor in the wine and the 13.5% fooled my palate.

The Burgundy 2002, Jacky Renarde and the Gevrey Chambertin from Lignier-Michellot were very promising. Indeed, I voted Lignier number 3. But I won't keep them 20 years. One bird in the hand... Should Burgundy producers put a shelf live on their bottles ?

The New World wasn't distinct. I isolated a persimmon, tomato peel flavors very identical to Rioja wine on our 2 Oregon (Benton Lane 02, Ken Wright Guadalupe 03). Some tasters mentioned the pine. Ken Wright is at 15.5% so it takes a while to find the pine !!!
Recommended for big, bold cab lovers.

The deception was not being able to differentiate California Pinot (Foxen Santa Maria 97, Sine Qua Non 01, Artesa 02, Mark West 03, Sea Smoke 03) from New Zealand (Dry River 02, Amisfield 03). Considering the NZ climate, the wine should have shown more acidity than across the Pacific Ocean. Is the winemakers of Otago too much New World ?

Last but not least, few surprises from the outsiders. Casa Larga released a good Pinot with a wonderful aged nose. Never tried good Pinot in the Finger Lake so that was really surprising. To add one layer of consternation, Millbrook Winery Pinot 2001 was also in the top 5 of the New World. The nose was new world, butterscotch, licorice but the palate old world. The acidity was there and the wine was light body. Pinot Noir from New York ? That's the COUP DE THEATRE.

And the number 3 of our tasting, Charles Krug Carneros 2003. It was without contest the best of the New World in the tasting. More on this bottle in a separate post.

In brief, Bourgogne wins but has a lot of misses.
Oregon is developing a specific flavor. Needs to be confirmed on a larger tasting. What about a Rioja/Oregon tasting ?
NZ was disappointing.
New York States showed off !!!


Michel BETTANE/ "VINS DE FRANCE" MAGAZINE / July - August 2000

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mon D(i)euse

Few words on this unknown grapes. Grown is Savoie, Mondeuse is an hidden gem.
In 1863, Dr Jules Guyot was stunned by "the intensity and the complexity of its nose and the full voluptuous flavors".

The best Mondeuse terroirs are Arbin & Saint Jean de la Porte. Those 2 areas located only 5 miles from Chambery are only producing 5% of the total production from Savoie.

I had my first bottle of Mondeuse 2004 from the appellation Chigny.

A close cousin to the Morgon bottle, I got the same lead pencil flavor. But instead of staying on this mineral aroma, the wine develops on the mint and then exhibit some wild strawberries flavors, then we are back to the green pepper and finally to a long finish around the coffee notes.

Where the Cote de Py was showing opposite flavors, Mondeuse develops a nice sequence.
Where the Pineau d'Aunis was tannic and acidic, Mondeuse is soothing with soft tannins.

An overlooked complex wine. Thanks Kristin. Find us more...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

A merlot from Long Island that stands proud

Ternharvern Cellar is the "The Last Winery Before France" as you head east. When you visit the North Fork coming from SaHarborur, it's also the first winery you see in Greenport.
Harold Watts is a retired professor from Yale and Columbia and a small producer.
Cf good article from Lenndevours http://lennthompson.typepad.com/lenndevours/2005/07/the_greenport_g.html

I tasted their 2000 Merlot (Double Gold at the New York Wine & Food Classic). It's the definition of fleshy. The nose is close to a red fruit punch but the texture is soft and supple. The flesh taste like plum, dark cherry and hints of blackberry. There is no structure because Merlot is all about this highly yummy generous fruit punch.

Just perfect to be blended with Cab Sauvignon. Never crossed a good one from the region that would justify blending it with this perfect Merlot.
Obviously, I am not as enthusiastic on the Cab from Terharvern than Lenndevours.

If you have any idea, email me and we will marry them.

Another thought for Long Island producers out there... Please don't add Cab franc to youlabeleded Merlot bottles because after 4+ years it shows. The blackberry flavor from Cab Franc is tenuous and obstruct the restained aromas from the Merlot. Another choice is not to call it Merlot. What about "cheval noir" ?

Friday, September 09, 2005

I bought some Cab Franc from...Virginia

I know, I a am dumb but Michael Broadbent told me to do so.
After picking up wonderful Chardonnays in Phillie, I was reading "Wine tasting" by Michael Broadbent. The chapter on varietals started like a good boredom. Unit 1 of the WSET diploma was still fresh in my mind. Aligote, Auxerrois, Blanc Fume, Cabernet Franc. What ???
"Cabernet Franc...Somewhat underrated but particularely successfull in Chinon (Loire)" DA!!! "Villany (Hungary)" Sure Mickael when I stop by "and Virginia (USA)". NO KIDDING, that's where I am going.

The next day, I pick up two Cab Franc. Abingdon Vineyard non vintage and Autumn Hill Monticello 2001. The first bottle was developping discrete aged Cab franc aromas on the palate (blackberry and chocolate). The nose and the structure was " a red table wine'' as the bottle mentionned.
The second had nothing to write about.
Cab Franc from Virginia, not there yet.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Call me as soon as the grapes get there

"No I am not kidding. Call me the day they arrive and don't add too much sulfur Rich".

The grapes are coming and the boldest of NYC Wine Club are going upstate to destem and crush. One week later, we will press. Racking will happen this winter. You are all invited to the bottling of our half-barrel in July 2006. Thank to Rich and Myownwine.com, we are learning and making wine.

The two most interesting parts are understanding winemaking and more important and less obvious, setting up a standard of quality.
Imagine the pride of telling this LI winemaker; "well, we honestly did much better than that". Then you uncork and start pouring your treasure. The owner denies...Then you challenge him blind. Most wouldn't accept especially the one with a tasting room looking to impress (yes the one from Mondovino).
That's a good tasting idea, our wine vs any red retailing for less than $15 in a blind tasting.

Our blend is Cab/Merlot. (Cf previous posts on the importance of the flesh in a structured wine). We should try Sangio/Merlot next year to try to replicate the Palafreno.

I am delirious, I am making wine...

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chardonnay Dinner at City Lobster

First Chardonnay wine dinner with NYC Wine Club. My selection included :

William Fevre, Champs Royaux Chablis 2002 France,$12.8 at Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit
Louis Jadot, Pouilly Fuisse 2002 France $21 at Garnet Wines
Hartford Court Laura Sonoma Coast 2000, USA $46 at Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit
Ramey Chardonnay Russian River 2000, USA $39 at Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit
Yering Station Chardonnay Reserve 2000 Australiaa, $34 at Pennsylvania Wine and Spirit
Voyager Estate 2003 Australia, $20 at Columbuss Circle Wine & Liquor

I enjoyed the Chardonnay dinner very much. We got three excellent bottles. The Ramey, The Hartford Court and the Yering. The Ramey had a lot of structure with some light woody notes and Cinnamon but was not very precise. A fussy palate. Was the wine still too tight ?

The Harcourt had the same structure but developed into a creamy, buttery rich 'Meursault' type of wine. It was the perfect match with the lobster. My favorite of the flight. But I adore Meursault so I am biased.

The Yering was not as structured. However, the coffee/vanilla note was very pure and very exceptional in white wine. I don't think I ever experienced this before. A perfect light desert wine.

The Voyager Estate was disappointing as well as Consentino. The 2 French wines were good values. However, the Burgundy Leflaive 2002 is a better buy at $14. (I ran out and need to re-order). It's your last chance to stock up on White Burgundy 2002 (one of the best year of the decade) before your retailers switch to 2003.

Glad to have tasted some great American Chardonnays.