Sunday, July 08, 2018

Recent drinking round-up!

It's been a while since I did one of these and there's a large pile of notes needing to be decluttered before the long-awaited arrival of a certain VIP from the US in a couple of weeks... So without further ado!

G contributed this Volnay 1er cru Santenots du Milieu 2011 from Domaine des Comtes Lafon  one evening. It transported us right back to Caveau des Arches in Beaune where we have been fortunate enough to drink rather a lot of the Comte's offerings. It was polished, glossy, smooth, coherent and typique with a great finish, and there was a lot going on! We found black cherries, sloes (that was G not me - I'm not entirely sure what a sloe tastes like) and loganberries or possibly even poached damson fool. There were also woody things such as liquorice root, and a herbaceous note, which could have been mint leaf. It was remarkably ripe and intense considering it was from 2011, and there was no rush to drink it. This stuff isn't cheap but it was worth it, and we gave it a 9 on the premier cru project scale.

G also provided this Chablis 1er cru Beauroy 1995 from E.A.R.L. Hamelin as he had an urge to "try some weird old Chablis". This was a beautiful golden colour and our first impression was that it was surprisingly rich and oaky, with a touch of honey on both nose and palate. It was mature but not over the hill and went very well with our chicken salad. It also didn't cost a huge amount considering its age, confirming that Chablis remains the best value white burgundy. Unfortunately another 1995 Chablis, this time 1er cru Vaucoupin from Pascal Pica, turned out to be undrinkable, so there is a risk when you go back this far.

Instead, we drank this Rully 1er cru Raclot 2012 from Celine et Vincent Dureuil. This may have been served a little too cold. It had some mushrooms on the nose and was well-made, with good acidity, but perhaps a slightly short finish. It was enjoyable, and a solid 8.

G also contributed this Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru les Champonnets 1998 from Lucien Boillot. This looked like old, mature pinot with a faded rim. It had a very Cote de Nuits nose with forest fruits and dark chocolate and a hint of the farmyard, but also quite a lot of volatile alcohol. We decided it needed to spend more time in the fridge, which led to the discovery that a decanter I was given recently actually fits in the fridge door - thanks J! It was smooth, with a nice weight, and fully mature and powerful but quite short. It improved over time but we felt it was possibly on its way out and gave it an 8.

This sparkler from Damiani Wine Cellars 2011 is one which we picked up in the Finger Lakes last September. I remember that day being particularly hot and it was our last tasting of the trip. This had fine bubbles and we wondered if it was a blanc de blancs but having just checked, it was actually two thirds pinot noir! We drank this very cold and it was brisk up front, with a floral mid-palate. It didn't seem that old but then these Finger Lakes wines are built to last. It was approachable and not too serious (just as well, as we were eating fish fingers with it) and went down real easy. G thought it would make a good party wine and the price, currently $34, compares well with sparkling wines from certain autres regions.

A rummage in the wardrobe one evening produced this bottle of Auxey-Duresses 2011 from Jacques Bavard. I do adore red Auxey and was delighted to get this back in the day, particularly from this lovely vintage. It was a very pretty example of a Cote de Beaune red, with perfume, lots of red fruit, and a certain sweetness. G wondered if some white grapes had got in there to give it a lift. All in all, a very pleasurable wine to drink and it went down in no time.

I had a wine delivery last Friday and have tried two of the four delivered so far. This Pernand-Vergelesses Les Belles Filles 2010 from Ludovic Belin went AWOL in the storage facility for a long time but was finally located, so I got it out rather later than I normally would have done. I had also been under the impression it was a red, but actually given the heatwave, was quite pleased it turned out to be white. The label was certainly promisingly appalling, although the name always made me cringe slightly. Its extended term in storage had done it no harm at all and it was still very fresh and lemony, with a floral mid-palate. It was classic Pernand, relatively light and not terribly serious, but good summer drinking.

Last Sunday we had this Santenay "Comme Dessus" 2009 from Domaine de la Choupette. Again this had a perfumed nose with summer fruits - raspberries, plums and G's new go-to description, loganberries. It had "lovely filigreed tannins" and was pleasantly croquant. I served it slightly chilled and it was very refreshing, with good acidity. It's that nice middle-weight style which is very versatile and had a sweet note which reminded G of those "hint of the sugar bag" Burgundies from the 1970s. I'm delighted with it, it's everything I love about Cote de Beaune reds. G thinks it needs to be drunk over the next year, and there's another six pack tucked away in storage. I don't think getting through a bottle every month or two is going to pose any problem whatsoever!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunday lunch at mine, 17th June

A couple of weeks ago, D and G came round for lunch at mine.

We started off with a bowl of gazpacho (I confess I didn't make it!) and a glass of manzanilla pasada en rama from Barbadillo which hit the spot. I haven't been drinking so much sherry lately as sometimes, but I really should knock off the negronis and get back to it.

G provided this Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru les Champgains 2012 from Michel Niellon. This was a lovely light gold colour and was very Chassagne, with elegance and a nice weight. It was smooth, with honey in the middle, citrus at the end, and a long finish. We thought it was impeccable premier cru Chassagne and gave it a 9. It made a fine accompaniment to our halibut steaks with salsa verde.

D had brought this Hermann J Wiemer Cabernet Franc 2007 over from the US, which we had with the cheese course. This was a very dark colour and had a fruity nose which reminded us of plums with star anise. There was also some mint, and crushed cherries were mentioned. It was complex and both impressive and enjoyable, with a very long finish. "This is a bloody pleasure to drink" said G.

We finished off with the second of G's recent Tokaji acquisitions, again a 4 puttonyos but this time from 1959. This was dark brown but clear rather than murky. I would describe it as sticky toffee pudding in a glass. There was some volatile acidity on the nose while on the palate it had dried fruit, raisins and a certain creaminess. Rum and raisin ice cream sprang to mind. The finish went on for minutes, and it almost reminded me of Madeira. Given than it would have been produced in exactly the same way as the 1967 which we'd had earlier in the week, this was a pure expression of the vintage. Good for Monimplex!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

SPNS, Wednesday 13th June

On Wednesday night, I made my way over to the Savile Club for the latest gathering of the Swiss Pinot Noir Society.

Arriving a tactful minute late, I walked into the bar which was deserted apart from three reprobates standing at the bar guzzling Veuve Cliquot 2008. Clearly I was in the right place. My glass was duly filled and while I'm not a great expert on Veuve, I found this relatively light and refreshing. I wouldn't have guessed it was ten years old. G, who has clearly drunk far more of the stuff than me, opined that it had finally come round. It certainly made an excellent aperitif.

We moved upstairs to the dining room where the only question was which white to drink first? My offering was this 2014 Chablis 1er cru Mont de Milieu from Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre. This was full-bodied and a little richer than some Chablis with a pleasingly weighty mouthfeel. It was drinking well now but we suspected it might not last in the long term.

Meanwhile, P had stashed away this Trittenheimer Laurenz Spatlese 1957 from the Friedrich Wilhem Gymnasium (thanks G for writing that all down in the book). This was a beautiful golden colour and had the classic old riesling nose but for me had lost most of its fruit although it did have some lychees going on and certainly had an unctuous texture. The assembled company found that it became sweeter as time went on. Fascinating stuff.

Once again, my picanha steak was excellent .

D had brought along this 2007 Cabernet Franc from Red Newt Cellars, which I reported on here. I see that when we visited, I wasn't unduly impressed with their cab franc, but this was an altogether different kettle of fish. G described it as "glorious rich cab franc in impeccable order tonight" and it was vibrant with a lot of fruit, pepper and spice. It went down very easily and we suspected that if it had been in magnum that wouldn't have presented any problem. I thought it was drinking perfectly now but D thought it had the potential to age further.

Finally, with our cheese course, we had this Tokaji 4 puttonyos from 1967 which G picked up at auction. He compared it unfavourably with higher-puttonyos Tokaji but actually I think we all rather enjoyed it. It was a murky brown colour and tasted of fruit cake, with notes of figs and prunes. It had a long finish but D noticed that it was low on acidity.

It also had quite a remarkable amount of sediment in the bottle. Ah, the good old days!

Thanks all for yet another very pleasurable and educational evening. Until next time...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lunch at mine, 13th May

Last Sunday, I was joined by G, D and ACC for lunch at A du V Towers.

We commenced with some pork scratchings and this bottle of Meursault 1er cru Sous le Dos D'Ane 2002 from Domaine Leflaive, provided by G who is trying to breathe new life into the Premier Cru Project. It was a beautiful pale gold colour and had good legs. I'd like to think I would have identified it as Domaine Leflaive from 20 paces. I'd probably have thought it was Puligny though. It was restrained and elegant with a hint of mushrooms, and was drinking perfectly now. G explained at length that the Sous le Dos D'Ane vineyard is in Blagny, but it's only called Blagny if it's a red wine. We gave it 9 points.

Next up, with our starter of smoked mackerel pate on toast, was this Vougeot 1er cru Le Clos Blanc de Vougeot Monopole 2011 from Domaine de la Vougeraie. We suspected it might not be 100% chardonnay and that there might be some pinot blanc in there. It had a lovely weight and G referred to it having "nice shoulders" while ACC described it as racy. I noticed that it strangely seemed to have evaporated in my glass - not sure how that happened. We gave it a 10, which means Vougeot keeps its top spot with the highest average score for a village. 

ACC had brought along this 2014 Beaune Vieilles Vignes from Domaine de la Roseraie, which although very young was starting to drink. As usual with this domaine, it was a serious wine demanding concentration! It was pretty yet had substance and was very smooth, classic red Beaune. Personally I would come back to it in five years.

I was fairly happy with the roast beef which is just as well as I've been eating it all week!

D had brought along a Adelsheim Oregon Pinot Noir Calkins Lane Vineyard ‎2004 which sadly turned out to be corked. I think this is the first corked bottle we've ever had from D, which is a remarkable record, and what an irony that it was this one and not one of his much older vintages.

Fortunately I had a wardrobe full of alternatives so I wheeled out this Pommard la Croix Blanche 2009 from Domaine Parent. I got this out of storage a few months ago and the verdict was that it wasn't quite ready back then, but this time I think it was. It was tres Pommard, powerful and rich, with good length. G described it as impeccable, and ACC told us that the lieu-dit is next to premier cru vineyards, which explains a lot.

This Epoisses wasn't quite ripe enough for my liking. Never mind. The Picos de Europa was pretty stunning, a new discovery made by G. It's going to be hard to go back to Roquefort now...

A brace of digestifs was consumed with abandon. The fine is made from aligote from Pierre Fenal's parcel (i.e. Maison en Belles Lies) and in my opinion these are up there with the Roulot equivalents.

And then just in case we hadn't had enough to drink, G supplied this Exshaw 1973 cognac to round things off. All in all, a very fine luncheon!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Dinner at the Savile, 9th May

On Wednesday, it was over to the Savile Club yet again - oh, the suffering! This was a gathering arranged at short notice with the excuse that D was over in Blighty yet again, and the usual SPNS rules had been relaxed. Our instructions were to "bring a bottle of something interesting, ideally something that has been sitting on the rack looking at you mournfully for a while, waiting for an occasion that has never yet quite arisen."

Formal tasting notes weren't taken, so this will be a mostly photographic blog post...

I arrived to find everyone else guzzling fizz provided by G - this 2006 Champagne Corbon which was a blanc de blancs. I found it a little on the sharp side, one might almost say bracing. Apparently this is a characteristic of the vintage. Lively debate ensued as to whether it would improve with time. Personally I'm not convinced.

ACC had brought this intriguing Anjou Blanc which didn't have a vintage on it but was clearly very old. As usual, the Inverse Law of Wine Labels came into play - what a monstrosity! - and the wine itself was very interesting and aromatic.

Sadly P's red turned out to be massively corked and I can practically still smell the whiff of mouldy socks that circulated round the room when it was opened. But fortunately ACC had brought a reserve white which was wheeled out instead. This was a white from Domaine Manzone, not to be confused with Boyzone (sorry), made from the clairette grape. It was rich and one of those southern French whites which I think would be great served really cold on a really hot day, or might go well with fish and chips. One did wonder if one glass might be enough though.

My contribution was this 2004 Heitz Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, which I bought from the booze shop in Pennsylvania on my first trip there in November last year. It had been sitting on the rack waiting for the right occasion so this seemed like a good chance to drink it. I was very happy with it - it was very smooth and polished with that classic hint of mint, or even eucalyptus according to D. It's going to be tempting to buy some more in due course now that trips to Pennsylvania are a happy fixture in my life...

This was my main course, a picanha steak. It was fantastic!

D had brought along this Coteaux de L'Aubance 1996 from Bablut, which was from the Loire. I've never heard of this appellation before but it was a very impressive dessert wine with great balance and an amazing finish - we're talking minutes.

Finally, a bottle of Chateau Musar 2006 was provided by P to go with the savoury, which was very enjoyable as usual. All in all, it was a really fun evening and it was nice to try some unusual wines. Thanks everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Weekend in the country

A couple of weeks ago, D and I caught the train from Kings Cross to an undisclosed location in middle England where G's parents' house is located. We arrived in the early afternoon feeling quite ravenous but things looked up when G presented us with a glass of excellent, very dry pre-war sherry.

I was then called upon to assist with the double magnum of Rully 1959 which G bought at auction in a moment of madness some time ago.

There was some debate as to whether it was red or white. I believe the auctioneers had described it as red, but looking at the colour, that seemed unlikely. We all tasted it and agreed it was very interesting and then the rest may or may not have been used for cooking.

Fortunately G had put a reserve white aside to accompany our wild smoked salmon for lunch. This in fact belonged to me, as I have a stash in the cellar which is out of sight, out of mind, thereby providing me with the pleasure of rediscovering it from time to time. The white wine in question was a Puligny Montrachet 1er cru Les Perrieres 2011 from Domaine Bzikot, which was bought from the wine shop in Puligny back in the day. This was rich and full and went very well with the food. Pity it was only a bottle and not a double magnum.

After lunch, we went for a walk into the nearby village and then returned to the house where the local felines were circling ready for their evening meal.

It was the first beautiful day of the year, and we sat outside and drank this bottle of Dom Perignon 2002, which was drinking perfectly now and went very nicely with a cheese straw.

With our dinner, an admirable cassoulet made by G's father, we had this bottle of Chapelle-Chambertin 2005 from Bouchard, which apparently I got in a mystery mixed bag from the Wine Society some time ago. Before tasting it, I had my doubts, as I have yet to drink a 2005 red Burgundy which I considered to be ready, but this proved to be the exception. It was muscular and rich and it was actually drinking. Our favourite wine merchant subsequently told us that Bouchard's style is more forward than others, so we shouldn't extrapolate from this.

Alongside the Chapelle-Chambertin, we had this 1934 Mazis-Chambertin Maison Jules Regnier, which G got at auction. This was quite remarkable, really lovely old burgundy, with a glorious nose, lovely texture and long finish. We drank it over about 45 minutes and it showed no sign of fading. Then we drank the dregs too, it was that good.

We rounded off the evening with a glass of  Dow 1963 which was in impeccable condition unlike some G has recently had. It was middleweight and not too sweet. "An old lady, but an attractive one" said G, sounding like a dreadful gold-digger.

On Sunday morning, after a breakfast of bacon sandwiches and coffee, we walked to Hambleton bakery which passed a pleasant hour, although I was gutted that the woman in front of us in the queue snaffled the last sausage roll. If only we'd walked a little faster... One could not however argue with the pricing of the coconut macaroons - 30p each - and they made a very fine accompaniment to a mid-morning glass of madeira.

On our return it was time for an inspection of the cellar...

G still hasn't worked out what to do with this magnum of Kummel! I suggested serving it like aquavit with some smoked salmon. Other suggestions welcome.

For lunch, we had an amazing roast capon which I imagine will feed G's father for the rest of the year, along with this bottle of 1983 Chateau Latour. It was the second bottle of the pair which I bought in December, and this one seemed weightier than the first, although that could be because it was drunk by itself rather than alongside a vibrant young Californian cabernet sauvignon.

The final line-up - spot the odd one out!

All in all, this was a fascinating weekend and we ate and drank very well indeed. Thanks to G's father for hosting, to to D for his congenial company and above all to G for organising everything and sharing these extraordinary wines with us.