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The 2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Tasting

January 18, 2013 4 comments


This week I was fortunate to be invited to a 2010 vintage tasting of the wines of Bouchard Pere et Fils. Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils states 2010 is “a very promising vintage.” The harvest started September 20th and finished October 1st. The grapes were small with very concentrated juice with yields ending up 15-20% lower than average for both red and white. The bottling dates were a little earlier than normal.

This is an annual event organized by Panos Kakaviatos with the help of Henriot who provided ten different wines. The tasting dinner was held at Lavandou who provided us with two long tables at the front of the restaurant where we could spread out. Present were Karl and Adelaide Keller, Howard and Nancy Cooper, Amy Ray, Darryl Priest, Ben Giliberti, Paul Marquardt, Tim O’Rourke, David Choi, Ken Brown, Kevin Shin, Maria Denton, Annette and Christian Schiller, and Panos Kakaviatos. There were ten different wines served all of which were finished bottles save for the barrel sample of Montrachet. There were two bottles of each wine so there was plenty of wine for each person to taste. Many of us brought our own glasses to taste from. In addition to the 2010 Bouchard wines provided by Henriot everyone contributed an extra bottle or two.


Champagne Starter.

We started off with a bit of Champagne as people gathered, said hello, and took their seats. I particularly liked the 2006 J. L Vergnon, Resonance.


NV Veuve Fourney & Fils, Brut Nature, Blanc de Blancs, Premier Cru, Champagne
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Alcohol 12%. The light nose was dry with yeasty aromas and a touch of sweet biscuit. In the mouth there were green apple flavors to start with firm bubbles which coarsely dissipated. Then there was slightly sweeter fruit and a tart finish. ** Now.


2006 J. L. Vergnon, Resonance Grand Cru Brut, Champagne
Imported by Wegandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel. Disgorged October 2011. Alcohol 12%. The light to medium strength nose was more interesting. There were finer bubbles in the mouth which had good strength before turning into a mousse. The very fine mousse mixed with acidity on the tip of the tongue. Nice aftertaste. A second bottle also showed well. *** Now.

The 2010 White Wines


The white wines were enjoyable with quality increasing from Village to Premier Cru to Grand Cru. With the Meursault Les Clous showing darker fruit the Beaune Clos Saint-Landry had a distinctive tropical note which set it apart. The Corton-Charlemagne was a strong step up with its lemon notes and balance for aging. This acted as a springboard for the Montrachet whose nose was immediately distinctive and attractive. At first the nose was more impressionable than in the mouth. But I was fortunate to find some remaining later in the tasting, there was only one bottle after all, and it had developed tremendously with air. It is amazing to think this is a barrel sample and not finished.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Meursault Les Clous, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of calcareous marls on a hard platform. It was aged for 8-10 months in up to 15% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There was a light nose of tighter, darker fruit. In the mouth there was similarly tight fruit with a creamy touch that was focused. There were some spices and a barrel note in the aftertaste. ** 2015-2019.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Clos Saint-Landry, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of limestone and clay with marls. It was aged for 8-12 months in up to 15% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose was a touch fruitier with more tropical aromas and some floral notes. In the mouth it was a bit structured with a hint of tropical fruit and young grip. There were apples and stones in the aftertaste. **(*) Now-2019.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Corton-Charlemagne, Grand Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from predominantly limestone soils and clay. It was aged for 12-14 months in up to 20% new oak. Alcohol 14%. The light to medium strength nose tilted towards lemons. In the mouth the white fruit slowly expanded in the mouth with good acidity. This balanced wine has structure for aging. There were lemon notes and minerality as the wine warmed and breathed. ***(*) Now-2028.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Montrachet, Grand Cru
Imported by Henriot. Barrel Sample. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from soils of gravelly limestone. It was aged for 12-14 months in up to 20% new oak. Alcohol 14%. The light to medium nose was aromatic and complex with flinty aromas and deep fruit. It opened up over the course of the glass. There was good depth in the mouth with spices and a broader, weighty nature. There finish was nice as well as the spiced aftertaste. Upon revisiting there was ripe lemons and spice in the beginning. An oily mouthfeel developed along with a fine, almost grainy texture. Clearly the best thus far, precise, focused, and determined. ****(*) Now-2033.


The 2010 Red Wines


The red wines were fun with the Beaune Teurons a good start. It was more forward and young, compared to the red-fruited Savigny-Les-Beaune which though tight, was more complete. The Volnay Cailleret was a great step forward and a wine I kept revisiting throughout the night. It was my favorite red along with the Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus. The Volnay Cailleret shows more purple and black notes as if born of stone and able to weather age. The Beaune Graves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus is more old-school in flavor with depth, lightness and perfume. Both were completely different and very attractive.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Teurons, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There was a light, good nose of finely delineated red and black fruit. In the mouth there was good, racy black cherry fruit. The flavors were simpler but worked with the juicy acidity and the blacker red racy vein. There were fine tannins which coated the tongue and lips. It has a young, attractive personality which was somewhat forward. **(*) 2016-2023.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Savigny-Les-Beaune, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. There was a light, tight nose with slightly deeper, dark red cherry fruit. In the mouth there was brighter red fruit, leaning towards cran-raspberry. The acidity and fruit were integrated with a little Pinot note in the aftertaste. *** Now-2023?


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Volnay Cailleret, Ancienne Cuvee Carnot, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from soils of thin limestone and clay on cracked rock. It was aged 10-18 months in 60-85% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose bore the fine scent of red and purple fruit. In the mouth there was a bit of a creamy start as the wine rounded out with a black and red mineral vein. There was controlled ripeness to the flavors which became blacker with air. There was a powdery sweetness in the finish. Nice. Youthful. **** Now-2033.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Gevrey-Chambertin, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. There was a very light and tight nose which was not that appealing, sort of blend of fruits and vegetables. In the mouth there was firm red fruit, athletic, and a core of ripe red fruit. There were fine, strong tannins which powered through the aftertaste. Upon revisiting a second bottle it showed a bit better but was still my least favorite of the reds. *(*) 2015-2019.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Vosne-Romanee, Village
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir made from estate and purchased fruit. It was aged 8-14 months in 20-40% new oak. Alcohol 13%. The nose was very light with exotic berries. In the mouth there was tart red fruit, more cranberry flavors, then very fine tannins. This is very young and the tannins are quite strong. ** 2018-2028.


2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune Greves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus, Premier Cru
Imported by Henriot. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from soils of limestone and clay. It was aged 10-18 months in 60-85% new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The very light nose bore fine, black and mulberry aromas. In the mouth there was old-school flavors of light, red fruit. It was finely articulated. The acidity, tannins, and fruit were all in balance as the flavors slowly expanded. There was a perfumed, lipstick finish with black, focused fruit. You can drink it now with extended air but best to cellar. **** Now-2033.

Other Wines

The appetizers started to arrive so we cleansed our palates somewhat before moving on to the other wines. Of these I thought the NV Jean Piere Bouchard, In Florescence well-done with a mixture of flavors and bubbles which persisted through the finish. The 2002 Domaine de Courcel, Pommard Grand Clos Des Epenots sported a refined, attractive nose but in the mouth it revealed it still needs to be cellared. I took a break during my entree to drink a little wine. I then resumed tasting the other wines and revisited some of the 2010 Bouchard wines. A pair of wines from Weingut Himmel appeared with the 1999 Weingut Himmel, Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Spatlese drinking well. It was an appropriate finish before the two bottles of Chateau Climens.


NV Andre Clouet, Un Jour de 1911, Champagne
Imported by Village Wine Imports. Alcohol 12%. There was a light autumnal color. There was a light to medium strength nose of oxidative, baked apples. In the mouth there were aggressive bubbles, plenty of acidity then bubbles and flavor just disappear. The flavors were older in the mouth, in an oxidative style with a long aftertaste. A bit disjointed in nature but still had some appealing aspects. Flawed.


2002 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Meursault Genevrieres, Premier Cru
Imported by Cliquot. Alcohol 12%? There was a nutty very mature nose with a touch of ripeness. In the mouth the flavors were short. The acidity was still present. There was a gently ripe aftertaste. Drank best with food. ** Past.


NV Jean Pierre Bouchard, In Florescence Blanc de Noirs Brut, Champagne
Imported by Potomac Selections. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from lieu-dit Cote de Val Vilaine. Alcohol 12.5%. There was a fine nose with a mixture of yeast, apples, and sweet biscuit. In the mouth there were very fine bubbles, sweet biscuit flavors, and bubbles which lasted through the finish. Well done. *** Now-2018.


2002 Domaine de Courcel, Pommard Grand Clos Des Epenots, Premier Cru
Imported by Chateau & Estate. There was a fine perfumed nose which was attractive with finely wooded aromas. In the mouth there were fine flavors, structured wood box notes, and a sense of its age but more is required. Young. ***(*) 2018-2028.


1981 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Chevalier-Montracher, Grand Cru
Imported by Vintage Wine Company. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light amber. There was a creamy-like texture but the flavors were over the hill. Nutty with plenty of acidity. There was a structure of fine, ripe tannins. * Past.


1996 Weingut Himmel, Hochheimer Kirchenstuck Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
Alcohol 8.5%. The color was a tawny amber which looked old. The very light nose was a bit nondescript. In the mouth the flavors were better and not as old. There was a little weight to the tooty fruity flavors in the middle, a little petrol, and some tartness. A bit of grip developed in the finish. ** Now-2018.


1999 Weingut Himmer, Hochheimer Hoelle Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau
This had a better color of light, golden straw. In the mouth there was racy fruit, good grip, a rather young personality, and good residual sugar which mixed with the acidity. ***(*) Now-2028.

The Dessert Wines


The last two wines were a treat. Not only was it my first time drinking Chateau Climens but I got to drink two different vintages. I wanted to bring a bottle of Sauternes to the tasting because I figured there would be a lot of Champagne and I am on a bit of a Sauternes kick. Many thanks to Phil for helping me select this bottle from 2004. I found the nose delightfully complex and really engaging in the mouth. It is one of those wines which I would be hard pressed to not drink it right now despite decades of life and development ahead. Lastly the 1975 Chateau Climens with 29 additional years of age was only slightly darker than the 2004. It was not as complex but had really good acidity and liveliness.


2004 Chateau Climens, Barsac, Premier Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Semillon sourced from 20-year-old vines. It was vinified in 35-45% new oak then aged for 20-24 months. Alcohol 13.5%. The medium strength nose was very complex with Christmas spices and exotic aromas. In the mouth the Christmas spices continued with mouthfilling, rich flavors of vanilla, and apricot. This is a seductive wine with viscosity and good acidity. A real treat to drink right now. ****(*) Now-2043.


1975 Chateau Climens, Sauternes-Barsac, Premier Cru
Imported by Charles Lefranc Cellars. This wine is 100% Semillon which was fermented in casks then aged for two years in 25% new oak. Alcohol 12%. There was a light nose of petrol and wood box. In the mouth there was still up-front white fruit, apple flavors, and acidity. With air the fruit because a bit creamed. This was not as complex nor as long in the mouth. Nevertheless still a lovely drink. Quite elegant at almost forty years of age, still has levity, and should last for some time. **** Now-2035.


An epic Panos Bordeaux tasting: 16 vintages of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2016 – 1975

November 3, 2017 Leave a comment


On October 18, 2017, Panos Kakaviatos (wine-chronicles) hosted a tasting of 16 vintages of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande from 2016 to 1975.  This tasting is the latest in a series of definitive events that Panos arranges for Washington, DC wine lovers.  Not only were all of the bottles direct from the chateau but Nicolas Glumineau, the director of Ch. Pichon Lalande, was guest of honor for our dinner.

Nicolas Glumineau, Director of Chateau Pichon Lalande.

The tasting took place at Taberna del Alarbardero with the help of sommelier Maria Ortiz.  The bottles were flown in by Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages except for the 2002 pair which were graciously donated by Randy McFarlane.  The evening took place in the large red private dining room where we first mingled with many different bottles of Champagne from Prevost, Pierre Peters, Cedric Bouchard, Pol Roger, and others.

The main tasting and dinner were seated.  Of all the vintages, I was particularly excited by the 1996, 2010, and 2014.  To me these three vintages stood out for their precision, balance, and purity of expression.  Of the older vintages the 1980s and 1970s drank well with the 1982 as the most complete experience.  I would also point out the 1978 vintage as an attractive, older style of wine.

Now I spent quite a bit of time talking, so think of my notes as general impressions.  They are presented in the order they were served.

Lomo De Caballa Sobre Arroz Meloso De Pimientos Morrones
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2010-2009-2005-2003

2010 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
The scented nose soon offers floral and licorice-like aromas, eventually closing up. In the mouth is a tart start, close-grip at first with evident structure. There is a vein of black fruit and violets that moves through the wine. It is ultimately young and grapey at the core. Drier in the end with very fine structure and a good aftertaste. It has the balance to age. ****(*)

2009 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
It is assertive from the start with black fruit, structure and grip. There is less fruit compared to structure that emerges in the middle. I prefer the 2010. ***(*)

2005 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
It is similar to the 2010 with a young, lifted core of flavor. It is lighter in flavor yet mouth filling with grip and strength in the good, tart finish. ***(*)

2003 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
There is a rounded start of berry flavors, soon taking on powerful dark, red fruit. A fine, lifted aftertaste. **(*)

Magret De Pato Con Toques De Naranja Con Pastel De Butternut Squash
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2002-2000-1996-1995

2002 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
This is better than expected with surprising fine texture. The dry black flavors are even racy in the middle. Drinking well right now. ***

2000 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
The nose offers lifted, greenhouse aromas but with a more mature profile. The mouth follows the nose with maturing fruit, a pleasing level of green pepper, and very fine grip. Elegant. ****

1996 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Markedly different with fine, clean fruit aromas. Tangy red fruit greets the palate. It remains a core of focused fruit, very pure and controlled. The ripe, textured structure is still present for development yet it is resolving. Additional notes of greenhouse and pencil shavings add some complexity. ****

1995 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Greenness and lightness on the nose. Ample texture in the mouth with almost chewy, dense black fruit. This is broader throughout but a very fine, drying structure supports the flavor. A bit of a smoke hint in the end. ***

Kobe Beef Con Patatas, Zanahorias Y Chalotas Al Estilo Hasselback
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1989-1985-1982-1978-1975

1989 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
There is a fine focus and certain tang to the flavors which have a very fine texture. The wine is moved by watering acidity through a drier, lighter middle into a linear finish. Quite enjoyable. Less fruit weight than other vintages. ****

1985 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
A touch of plum combine with more advanced flavors that become tart towards the finish. An earthy aftertaste. A second bottle showed young with floral flavors and grip. So at best ****

1982 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Cooler in profile with red fruit, graphite, and a citric grip that lean towards elegant. The wine grows with air developing attractive earth and maturity. ****(*)

1978 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Greener, drier, and lighter with graphite and again that familiar texture. Has hints of being from an older period of winemaking. There is a green streak followed by cedar and old wood in the finish. It is chunkier than the 1975 yet still retains tension. ***(*)

1975 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
The wine still has grip. The watering acidity brings forward more red fruit and a citric structure that coats the gums. The core of fruit mixes with notes of old leather, greenhouse, and mature flavors. Drinking well. ***

Puig Pedros (Vaca), Retorta Pascuales (Oveja), Manchego (1 Ano)
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2014-2016-2016

2014 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
There is fine, grapey depth coupled with both weight and density. Clearly balanced. Pencil shavings and floral perfume already add to the complexity. ****(*)

2015 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Intense, grapey flavors are a bit rough with some heat. There are assert baking spices and some perfume.  Just bottled.

2016 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Grapey blueberry fruit with fine texture and lip smacking tannins. Baking spices and spicy tannins.  Strong potential.  Barrel Sample.

Flan De Pistacho Sobre Flan De Caramelo Y Helado De Vanilla Beans

1997 Chateau Climens, Barsac
Very dark. Flawed.

2003 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes
A nose of grassy petrol then concentrated grapey flavors delivered in a grippy, textured manner.  A good combination of fruit, weight, and mouth feel.  ***(*)

2005 Chateau Climens, Barsac
There is lovely flavor, mouth filling, yet fresh and light with gentle ripeness.  ****


I enjoy a little oak in my South African whites

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

We tasted through three South African white wines from the 2012 vintage before the single-digit cold spell hit Washington, DC.  The 2012 Bouchard Finlayson, Chardonnay, Crocodile’s Lair/Kaaimansgat , Overberg was the most acidity oriented of them all.  For me I kept noticing the acidity more than the white fruit flavors.  While the profile of the wine might change with age, right now it is perfect for those acidity hounds out there.   The 2012 Rustenberg, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch was clearly raised in oak.  It is not overwhelming, rather a complement to the yellow, creamy, and spiced flavors.  We have enjoyed previous vintages of this wine and with this one, I would recommend holding it until the fall to let the oak integrate more.  The 2012 De Morgenzon, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch shifts in grape variety and in price.  Though young and in need of age it already exhibits dense, rich, tart fruit that has a beguiling petrol or honey flavored middle.   Like the Rustenberg, it too needs time in the cellar, but this will develop over a longer period.  Both the Rustenberg and De Morgenzon have a lot to offer at their price points.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Bouchard Finlayson, Chardonnay, Crocodile’s Lair/Kaaimansgat , Overberg – $22
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was aged for 8 months in 25% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was copper accented golden straw.  There was focused white fruit flavors with lively acidity.  The wine has some weight but presents itself as lighter with more lively, watering acidity.  In fact, the acidity is more noticeable than the fruit.  It also has a subtle texture.  ** Now-2018.


2012 Rustenberg, Chardonnay, Stellenbosch – $22
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines on soils of decomposed granite that was aged for 12 months in 40% new Burgundian hogsheads.  Alcohol 14%.  The wine was a bright straw color with toasty yellow and white fruit aromas.  In the mouth were somewhat weighty flavors that expanded quickly.  The acidity was lively from the start whereas the toast notes slowly built through the finish.  The wine takes on a creamy and spiced middle with creamy finish and a lighter aftertaste accented by some toast.  *** Now-2017.


2012 De Morgenzon, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch – $33
Imported by Cape Classic.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 41 year old vines that was fermented with indigenous yeast in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a golden straw.  The nose was floral with chalky yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth the flavors reflected the color with dense, rich, tart yellow fruit that had plenty of texture.  There was a petrol-like, perhaps honey, flavor in the middle, ripe lemon notes in the finish, and a persistent aftertaste. ***(*) Now-2020.


Tasting Grower Champagne at MacArthur Beverages

October 18, 2013 2 comments


There is a rich literary history about the wines of Champagne.  The early notes of Martin Lister in 1698 observe that the “Wines of Burgundy and Champagne are most valued; and indeed, not without reason; for they are light and easie upon the Stomach, and give little disturbance to the Brain, if drawn from the Hogshead”.  As for tasting the wines he details “another sort of Wine, called Vin de Rheims, this is also a pale or gray Wine; it is harsh, as all Champagne Wines are.”[1]  There were, perhaps imagined, literary debates about whether Burgundy or Champagne was the best wine.[2]  Michel de La Roche eventually found that “As for Champagne-wine, it is valuable by reason of certain acrimonious falts, very much unfolded, which qualify it to drive the urine and remove obstructions; but leaves a great quantity of tartar on the joints, and in the fibres of the muscles.  Were it not for this fault, that wine would be preferable to all others.”[3]

Map of Champagne. From Black, Charles Bertram. Guide to the North of France. 1876.

Last night I found myself at the Second Annual Blogger Tasting at MacArthur Beverages.  I did not attend to debate Burgundy against Champagne nor was I concerned with my joints.  Instead I was there to taste from an expanding selection of grower Champagne.  Many people are familiar with the big house names such as Moet & Chandon, Roederer, and Veuve Cliquot.  These producers source fruit from across Champagne which allows them to produce good, consistent wines year in and year out.  Grower Champagnes are made by smaller producers that source fruit from their own vineyards.  As such they should better represent the terroir of the vineyard and desires of individuals.


It was apt to have a Champagne tasting because it has been sold in Washington, D.C. since Congress first met.  Richard Forrest sold it by the dozen bottles at Mr. Johncherez’s store near the Little Hotel during August 1800.[4]  It was also available in 1802 by the dozen at the store of B.W. Morris & Co. on High Street in Georgetown.[5]  By September 1808, both red and white Champagne was available at the store of John Goulding in Georgetown.[6]  William Morris of Baltimore advertised to “the citizens of Washington” that he had “Sparkling, White and Red Champagne Wine in cases and hampers” on December 9, 1814.[7]  Sparkling Champagne was available locally at P. Mauro’s store on Pennsylvania Avenue by December 1817.[8]  Philip Laurenson of Baltimore locally advertised on October 1, 1824, some 35 cases of Ruinart & sons “celebrated sparkling Champagne Wine.”[9]  He had both the sweet and dry versions.  The local merchant William Cox on Pennsylvania Avenue eventually imported his Champagne directly.  On May 16, 1828, he offered 100 dozen cases of sparkling and sillery still Champagne from the house of J.C. Dinet, J. Mayer, and Rineart & Cox.[10]  From these producers he had white, red and partridge eye available in both quart and pint bottles.


Today there is a large selection of Champagne in Washington, D.C.  For this tasting Phil organized a tasting of seven bottles of grower Champagne and one ringer.  All of the wines were served blind.  In attendance were local bloggers and wine lovers including Paul DeRose of Wine Outpost, Tod Godbout of Wine Compass, Sindhu of Four Courses, and David White of Terroirist.  As for the wines my favorites included the NV Pierre Peters, Brut Blanc de Blancs and the 2010 Cedric Bouchard, Inflorescence, Brut Blanc de Noirs.  The former showed good balance of fruit, mousse, acidity, spices, and grip throughout the evening.  The later was more forward both on the nose and in the mouth, certainly not subtle.  The more affordable NV Donson & Lepage, Brut developed well with air and represents a good introduction to grower Champagne.  Likewise the NV Dosnon & Lepage, Brut Rose was enjoyable being a bit more substantial and mature in flavor.  The 2007 Vilmart & Cie, Brut was certainly unique with interesting fruit and an attractive, racy aftertaste.  Please find my tasting notes in the order the wine were poured.  Many thanks to Phil and MacArthur Beverages for hosting a tasty evening.


NV Donson & Lepage, Brut, Avirey Ligney – $40
A Jon David Headrick Selection imported by European Cellars.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Dosage 8 g/l.  Disgorged January 15, 2013. Alcohol 12%. There was a subtle yeast and fruit nose.  In the mouth were firm bubbles which burst as crisp acidity hit the tongue tip.  There was ripe, apple fruit as the bubbles dissipated .  There some grip and green apple acidity.  This developed well with air revealing good fruit.  Nice, affordable wine.


NV Louis Roederer, Brut Premier, Reims – $40
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines USA.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a touch more biscuit on the nose along with an odd perfume.  The mouth follows the nose with very fine bubbles which turn into a mousse.  There were robust flavors.  I did not enjoy this bottle.


NV L. Aubry Fils, Brut Premier Cru, Jouy Les Reims – $40
A Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  Disgorged December 2012.  There was a subtle nose of ripe apple and yeast.  There was crisp acidity in the mouth with dry and chalky flavors.  The bubbles quickly become a nice mousse.  It maintained drier flavors with a little citrus hint in the finish.


NV Pierre Peters, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru Cuvee de Reserve, Mesnil Sur Oger – $50
A Terry Theise selection imported by Michael Skurnik.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Disgorged April 2013.  Alcohol 12%.  There were some ripe fruit aromas on the nose.  The mouth began with a burst of ripe fruit matched by expanding bubbles.  It took on a very fine, mouthfilling mousse.  There was acidity on the tongue which becomes apple-like.  There was good grip, spices, and a good drier finish.  Nice.


2007 Vilmart & Cie, Brut, Grand Cellier D’Or, Rilly La Montagne – $70
Alcohol 12.5%.  There was interesting yellow fruit making it the fruitiest wine thus far.  The finish mixed both acidity and spices.  With air it took on a lemon citrus note along with a racy aspect in the aftertaste.


2010 Cedric Bouchard, Inflorescence, Brut Blanc de Noirs, Val Vilaine, Celles Sur Ource – $60
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Disgorged April 2012.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This was the most aromatic with toast and articulate aromas which stood out of the glass. This wine burst into the mouth with white fruit and salivating acidity in the finish.  There was a lot of flavor in this wine, showing good depth, lots of fruit, and ripe spices.


NV Dosnon & Lepage, Brut Rose – $45
A Jon David Headrick Selection imported by European Cellars.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. Alcohol 12%.   The nose was a bit more subtle with fruit and perfume.  In the mouth were flavors of gently ripe red fruit.  The mousse was subtle and soft taking on a little chalk towards the creamy finish.  It had salivating acidity and a more mature personality.


NV Pascal Doquet, Brut Rose, Vertus – $50
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was different, meaty.  The flavors were up front with dry, grippy fruit, firm bubbles, and old wood notes. Probably an off bottle.

David Bloc and Phil Bernstein

David Bloc and Phil Bernstein

If you find these historical descriptions interesting then I recommend you look at Henry Vizetelly’s A History of Champagne.[11]  As it was published in 1882 it is available online.

Image from Vizetelly, Henry. A History of Champagne. 1882.

[1] Lister, Martin.  A Journey to Paris in the Year 1698. 1699. URL:
[2] De La Roche, Michel.  Memoirs of Literature, Volume 4. 1722.  UR:
[3] De La Roche, Michel. New Memoirs of Literature, Volume 1.  1725. URL:
[4]Date: August 5, 1800  Paper: Centinel of Liberty (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: V   Issue: 60   Page: 1
[5]Date: January 4, 1802  Paper: Washington Federalist (Georgetown, DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 209   Page: 1
[6] Date: September 16, 1808  Paper: National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 2
[7]Date: December 9, 1814  Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: II   Issue: 602   Page: 1
[8] Date: December 3, 1817 Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: V   Issue: 1530   Page: 1
[9] Date: October 1, 1824      Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XII   Issue: 3652   Page: 1
[10] Date: May 16, 1828          Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XVI   Issue: 4772   Page: 4
[11] Vizetelly, Henry. A History of Champagne.  1882. URL:

A Wine Dinner with Lilian Barton

January 25, 2013 1 comment


Last night I attended a tasting of wines from Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Langoa Barton. The tasting was organized by Panos Kakaviatos (connectionstowine) who brought together Lilian Barton, ex chateau vintages back to 1989, and a group of wine lovers. The tasting was held in a private room located in the garret at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Dupont Circle. All of the red wines were graciously donated by Lilian Barton. They were imported by MacArthur Beverages for the tasting.


We were a sizeable group many of whom were coming from the UGC 2010 Bordeaux tasting. As we waited for people to arrive and claim seats at the three tables we chatted over a few bottles of NV Krug, Grande Cuvee Brut, Champagne (ID 211024). These were donated by Mark Wessels of MacArthur Beverages. The Champagne was aromatic, rich in complexity, gently effervescent, and a strong start to the evening. It must have been a hit because everyone, including myself, kept returning for more. It took a bit of time for everyone to get settled. This gave me an opportunity to finally chat with David White (Terroirist). We have said hello at tastings over the year but never could stop to talk. There were many familiar faces Tim O’Rourke (Weygandt Wines), Dave McIntyre (Washington Post and DM WineLine), Mark Wessels (MacArthur Beverages), Ben Giliberti (Calvert Woodley), Christian Schiller (Schiller Wine), and Chris Bublitz. There were others I had met last week at the Bouchard tasting Ken, Paul, and Craig. It was a diverse crowd of people in the business, writers, bloggers, and serious drinkers. It seems that Panos’ reputation precedes him on two continents. We all knew of his vinous interest before ever meeting him in person. It may help explain how he is able to host such a wine dinner.

Lillian Barton and Panos Kakaviatos

Lilian Barton and Panos Kakaviatos

We started off with a barrel sample from the family’s newest estate Chateau Mauvesin Barton. This is the first vintage produced by the Barton family. The vineyards are on clay soils and contain quite a bit of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. There are even two rows of Carmenere which make it into the blend. They have set about elevating the wines by implementing a grape selection for the first time. The wines were previously made in 380 HL vats so the family installed more decent sized vats. There was a bit of a timing issue with regards to the harvest and new vats. They kept the old vats lurking around as insurance for their first vintage. The 2011 harvest was early but the new vats did arrive just in time. However, their cooling systems were connected as the fruit was brought in.


2011 Chateau Mauvesin Barton, Moulis en Medoc
Barrel Sample. There was a light nose, delicately scented. In the mouth there was red and black fruit which stood up more. The profile is simple and a bit hard at this stage. There is a firmness to the structure. The flavors are in a cooler spectrum with salivating acidity.

We tasted the rest of the wines blind in flights of three. There were three bottles of each vintage save the 1989 of which there were two magnums. Except for the 2004 all of the wines were double-decanted giving them at least two hours of air. Panos felt the 2004 was already expressive right from the bottle.

Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Langoa Barton have a long well chronicled history. Both estates are owned by the Barton family whose introduction to Bordeaux took place with the arrival of Thomas Barton in 1722. A few years later in 1725 he established Barton & Guestier with his business partner. The name might sound familiar as it is still in existence today. In 1821 Hugh Barton purchased Chateau Pontet-Langlois which he named Langoa Barton. A few years later a big portion of the Leoville estate was purchased but then ultimately returned to the family. Hugh Barton was able to purchased a third of the estate at auction thus creating Leoville Barton. This portion consisted of only a vineyard so the wines had to be produced at Langoa Barton. The wines were well regarded as evidenced by Charles Cocks and Edouard Feret, Bordeaux and Its Wines, 1883, “Commendation upon the Langoa wines would be as useless as upon those of Leoville; their celebrity is universal.”

Image from Cocks & Feret, Bordeaux and Its Wines, 1883. Google Books.

Image from Cocks & Feret, Bordeaux and Its Wines, 1883. Google Books.

Today the estates are planted essentially the same 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. They are vinified the same with fermentation in wooden vats then aging for 20 months in 50% new oak. They both feature a mixture of several terroirs. It was commented that it is hard to characterize the wines of Saint-Julien. Lilian agreed saying they have the charm and elegance of Margaux and the character and strength of Saint-Estephe. At the estate level the vineyards of Langoa Barton are on north-facing slopes at a slightly lower elevation than the south-facing slopes of Leoville Barton. Lilian attributes the generally increased complexity of Leoville Barton to the higher elevation of the vineyards. With the water table at the same depth the vines of Leoville Barton must go deeper, through more layers, gaining complexity.


For both estates 2006 was a hot year with a bit of rain but nothing to worry about. They had already harvested most of their fruit by the time the rains came in. Lilian finds it a fine vintage following the great 2005 vintage. The 2004 vintage is stuck, so to speak, between 2005 and 2006. It was a huge crop forcing them to ask for a special allowance. They asked for 58 Hl/Ha but were allowed 56 Hl/Ha. The solution was permission to send the excess to be distilled but it had already been sold. So a fine was paid instead. In deducing which bottle of 2005 we were tasting, Mark felt it was Langoa Barton for the fruit was more forward that what he would expect of Leoville Barton.


2006 Chateau Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien
This was a little darker than the 2005. There was a light nose, tight with violets, and a bit of stem. In the mouth the flavors were simpler, firm, and generally followed the mouth. There were wood tannins.

2005 Chateau Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien
The light nose was earthier with berries. In the mouth the black fruit had firmness and a bit of focused weight. There was a shorter aftertaste. This was actually a nice wine with a decent future.

2004 Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint-Julien
The nose was the most interesting of the flight with old-lady perfume and a hint of wood. In the mouth it was a bit more relaxed with earthy, soft fruit, and a blacker aspect. It was clearly the most mature with a low-lying aftertaste.


Lilian Barton is the 7th generation to work at the Chateau and the 9th in Bordeaux. Despite the centuries old establishment she still has an Irish passport. Lilian has a warm personality and approachable manner when discussing her wines. Her comments were never directed at what is in the glass, rather they set a context. Her earliest memory of the Chateau is of sitting on top of a barrel, removing the bung, then sticking her fingers in so she could taste the wine. As to the rumor of Uncle Ronald maintaining a special barrel of wine to serve his guests at the Chateau she has no recollection. The wines of 1998 suffered from being typical Medoc wines, mean when young and in need of time. It was an economic vintage as 1997 had been expensive. The 1999s went past unnoticed but are charming and drinkable. The wines of 2000 were bound to be good regardless of what actually happened. Ben Giliberti recalled the 1953 vintage where he prefers the Langoa Barton over the Leoville Barton. There was some conversation about if Langoa Barton was made to be the lesser of the two. This indeed is not the case. Ben concluded that in vintages which requires a lighter wine, he prefers Langoa Barton.

2000 Chateau Langoa Barton, Saint-Julien
This had a light to medium nose of stalky red fruit, tobacco, and the beginning of mature aromas. In the mouth the red fruit reminded me of Langoa-Barton with lights flavors, acidity, and a firmness in the finish. The tannins were integrated.

1999 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien
This had a light, tight nose of dark red fruit and good scents. The flavors were concentrated in the mouth, a little more purple, and showed some weight. Good future here.

1998 Chateau Langoa Barton, Saint-Julien
This was tight with dark red fruit, firm in the core, a note of earth but generally the most backwards of all the wines tasted. Potential.


The vintage of 1990 was atypical being so very hot and very dry. This can cause quite a problem when vegetation stops. Fortunately there were rains in mid-September after which the vines did something for a few weeks and all was fine. Mark felt that the fruit showed well with good depth but it shows more ripeness with age. It might have been best at ten years of age. In time the 1989 vintage might prove to be the better of the two. The estate lost money with the 1991 and 1992 vintages. They broke even in 1993, did better in 1994 then returned to a good footing in 1995 and 1996. Lilian felt the wines of 1995 are lovely nice wines, always have been and still are. Those of 1996 show more power and need time to age.

1996 Chateau Langoa Barton, Saint-Julien
There were cool blue and red fruit flavors with a generally redder aspect. There was firm wood towards the finish followed by a rather interesting aftertaste.

1995 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien
There was a subdued fine scent with a little wood box. In the mouth there were blacker fruit flavors, dense fruit, and still fine, strong tannins. A nice with enjoyable austerity.

1990 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien
This had a light to medium nose of earthy aromas, some stink, and all around attractiveness. The wine was resolved in the mouth with firm black fruit, dried herbs, and bluer black fruit in the finish. This powerful wine has lots of life left and is youthful in a sense. Beautiful.


We circled back to the youngest wines. Lilian felt the 2008 a lovely, supple vintage of which there is not much to talk about. It was a particularly great value for those who purchased en primeur. The 2009 will drink earlier whereas the 2010 will need longer. It has big tannins, big alcohol and is quite charming but she is afraid it might close up soon.

2008 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien
The nose with light with bright red fruit and a touch tart. In the mouth the red fruit mixed with acidity as gentle tannins came out. There were wood box notes. Well done.

2009 Chateau Leoville Barton, Saint-Julien
This had a scent nose of young, nice fruit. In the mouth the flavors were fine with focused fruit, more structure, and a touch darker. There were spicy tannins.

2010 Chateau Langoa Barton, Saint-Julien
The nose had good powdery sweet fruit. In the mouth the fruit was young with a cinnamon, spicy structure. Good nose.


It was rather late at this point. Some people left with the rest stepping away from the tables to mingle. I needed a break from tasting so Lou and I introduced ourselves to Rutger de Vink, proprietor of RdV Vineyards. We had an interesting conversation about his Exsurgo wine for Wounded Warriors. The details of which I shall write about in a few weeks. Two foil wrapped magnums begin to circulate. They turned out to be 1989 Chateau Langoa Barton. There was a brief resurgence as glasses were charged but even the lovely wine could not delay the impending closure of the Metro system. We were down to a small group now Lilian, Panos, Rutger, Dave, Maria, Chris, and myself. Chris generously brought a bottle of 1986 Chateau Leoville Barton. With his bottle mostly full and at least half of a magnum about I left my notebook, took up my glass, and drank. The 1989 was mature with wood box, soft spices, but fresh with a good core of fruit. The 1986 was in great shape as well with a similar maturity but with a blacker, mineral heart. Both were markedly different from the 1990 Leoville Barton. They were what I would hope for from a mature Bordeaux.

Lillian Barton and Chris Bublitz

Lilian Barton and Chris Bublitz

Dave and I split a taxi back to Silver Spring. It was after midnight and the prospect of waking up in five hours was not attractive. As Dave noted, Panos puts together a Bordeaux dinner only once per year in DC. It is a time to enjoy oneself and not to worry about anything else.

Another Chardonnay With Age

January 23, 2013 1 comment

I have been fortunate this winter to not only receive the bottle of 2004 Chateau St Jean Chardonnay from Julia but this bottle of 2005 Sans Permis from Lou.  From what I gather the Sans Permis winery was the work of George Van Duzer who brought on Thomas Rivers Brown as the consulting winemaker.  The two met when they worked at Turley.  The goal was to produce wine from the greatest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards without any obvious influence from the winemaker.   They released their first wines in 2004 then closed just several years later in 2008.  A number of these wines have been offered at close-out prices and I was fortunate to taste a bottle thanks to Lou.  This bottle was fully mature and best on its first night when it showed all around balance.  In a way it reminds me of the 2002 Bouchard, Meursault Genevrieres I got to taste last week.  It has been an interesting week of Chardonnay experience.


2005 Sans Permis, Chardonnay, La Chanson, Santa Barbara County –
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from  Bien Nacido Vineyard and Solomon Hills Vineyard.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a light amber gold.  The light nose reveals ripe apple with a hint of nuts.  In the mouth this medium bodied wine is younger in profile.  It has a round mouth, almost creamy, with baking spiced yellow fruit, a little nutty, acidity, and some weight.  By the third night the nose became overwhelmingly nutty so I suspect this is fully mature.   *** Now.


The 8th Premiere National Auction of Rare Wines

The Eighth Premiere National Auction of Rare Wines
Thursday, May 27, 1976
Grand Ballroom, Royal Sonesta Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
Presented by The Wine Companies of Heublein Inc.

Heublein Inc. has a long history.  It was founded as a restaurant and hotel business in 1862.  In 1895 they started making A1 Steak Sauce.  Throughout the 20th century there is a long history of acquiring and distributing wine and spirits.  In 1962 Alexander C. McNally joined the company where he organized their first wine auction held in 1969.  Michael Broadbent was the wine auctioneer until 1982 when the demands of travel and possible conflicts of interest between Christie’s and Heublein’s arose.

This auction has a range of 19th century Bordeaux, Madeira, and Port.  Most of the vintages are more contemporary such as 27 lots of 1971 Chateau Elysee du Pape, Puisseguin Saint-Emilion totalling almost 900 cases worth.  The only Rhone offering listed is 1970 Cuvee du Vatican, Chateauneuf-du-Pape again totalling almost 900 cases worth.  The handful of German wines are all from 1971 and 1973 vintages. 

A series of older wines came from a “spectacular and extensive” collection in Paris.  For the eldest wine, 1806 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, it is noted “is believed to have been appreciated by Thomas Jefferson.” 

From the Bouchard Pere & Fils family cellar comes 1864 Beaune Clos de la Mousse.  One bottle was sampled in Beaune.  Here is the tasting note, “The precious potion is poured, tawny red like the blood of a long-sleeping giant awakened as a Brigadoon to breathe an instant in another age.  The pulse quickens and nostrils flare as the fragrant bouquet of a hundred years ago, captured as Lincoln lived, returns to life.”

Wines that were originally sold at a Heublein auction still make appearances today.  For example, this bottle of 1800’s Madeira found off of Savannah, Georgia coast by professional diver Bill Kinsey in the late 1970s.  It was originally sold at the 7th Auction and was just resold at the Spectrum Wine Auction in September 2010 for $4200.

In the back of the catalog is a per-case pricing list from previous auctions.  Particularly expensive wines are:

  • 1887 Inglenook Vineyards, Caberent Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $5000
  • 1866 New Jersey Currant Wine – $700
  • 1846 Cheateau Lafite, Paullac – $5000
  • 1929 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild – $12,000
  • 1893 Chateau d’Yquem – $2880
  • 1864 Beaune Clos de la Mousse – $6240
  • 1885 Chambertin, Cotes de Nuits. Tete de Cuvee – $2500
  • 1865 Clos Vougeot – $6240
  • 1921 Rauenthaler Huhnerberg, Riesling Auslese, Rheinegau: Estate Bottled – $1300
  • 1921 Steinberger, Riesling Spatlese – $1000
  • 1922 Tokaji Eszencia – $1400
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Two French Wines, 02 April 2009

Here are two $13 wines tasted 02 April 2009.

Go out and buy the Abbaye Sylva Plana, it is a great value. The Roger Perrin is a good simple wine that I would recommend if it were, say, $8. At the $13 price point there are many other wines I’d rather drink.

2007 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Cuvee Novices, Faugeres – $13
Nicolas and Henry Bouchard purchased this estate in 1998. This is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 20% Cinsault from young vines. The Carignan and Cinsault see carbonic maceration. There is a light+ nose of floral, riesling-like petrol. In the mouth there is weighty, supple, blue/purple fruit that is a little creamy and lovely to work around the mouth. With air more floral qualities, herbs, and violets develop. There are minimal tannins and lifted, dark purple fruits in the aftertaste along with some glycerine. This great value needs two hours of decanting before hitting its stride.

2007 Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone – $13
This is a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah. The varietals are fermented together. There is a rather light nose of light fruit that is syrah dominated. In the mouth there is simple, bright red/blue fruit, some minerals, and minimal tannins. This is a good quaffer for drinking now or after working in the yard. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else.