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Mature Burgundy: Barolet, DRC, Giroud, Roumier, and more

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A group of us recently gathered to taste mature bottles of Burgundy.  Due to everyone’s generosity, several different flights were formed.  We began with a blind flight of three different Champagne from the 1996 vintage.  This was followed by the main focus on both the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche and Romanée-Conti.  A very old bottle of Burgundy was then served.  A pair of Champagne Brut Rose was served while dinner was prepared.  After a slew of dinner wines, both young and old, dessert wines were deployed.  Several of the wines were off but due to everyone’s generosity, there was plenty to drink at a generally high level of pleasure.

1996 Champagne

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We kicked off the evening with a trio of Champagne from 1996.  The guest who generously brought these bottles poured them so we could taste them blind.  Of course I had no chance of guessing correctly, I have far too little experience with Champagne.  But I suspect with that experience these wines could have been identified blind.  The Gosset is mature and vinous, a wine to drink now. The Billecart-Salmon is elegant and lively, delivering its tart and chalky flavors with verve.  The Philipponnat is intense, rich and ripe, yet balanced by green apples and lemons.  I particularly enjoyed the last two.

Blind #1 – 1996 Gosset, Grand Millésime, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12%. A touch of stink eventually blows off. In the mouth are mature flavors followed by ripe fruit in the middle. Age has given it a vinous quality. Additional air reveals this is a wine to drink now.  *** Now.

Blind #2 – 1996 Billecart-Salmon, Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart, Champagne Brut
Imported by Vieux Vins.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Elegant on the nose with a fine mousse and lively precise nature in the mouth. The flavors cut through the palate, supported by acidity. Quite enjoyable with attractive verve. It wraps up with tart citrus and a chalky finish. **** Now – 2029.

Blind #3 – 1996 Philipponnat, Clos des Goisses, Champagne Brut
Alcohol 13%.  A touch more aged yellow in the glass. The most intense nose with an intense offering in the mouth. The bubbles explode upon drinking, leaving a short-lived mousse which is replaced by a green apple note. It moves on to rich and ripe flavors with a lovely lemon finish. **** Now – 2029.

1965 and 1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

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I was fortunate to purchase a small parcel of old wines including the following quartet of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The wines were originally purchased by a couple in the Washington, DC area who bought their wines from MacArthur Beverages. For decades these bottles were stored in the basement.  I am not sure what happened during those years, perhaps a basement flood, for the labels and fills varied.

These were not the best looking bottles but given the scarcity and generally insane pricing of these wines  I had to organize a tasting around them.  For I doubt I could ever again taste the 1965 and 1966 vintages of Romanée-Conti and La Tâche in one sitting.  And what a pairing of vintages, the disastrous 1965 with the very good 1966.  But I had another reason for pairing the two vintages.

Neal Martin wrote in Fermented Grape Juice: Romanée-Conti 1953-2005 how Aubert de Villaine recently served the 1965 Romanée-Conti to a large group.  Michael Broadbent rates this soggy vintage zero stars yet the very late October picking resulted in a wine that Neal Martin found “mocks its vintage reputation and defies all expectations.”  One guest with deep Burgundy experience believes he had never before tasted any Burgundy from the 1965 vintage.

The wines were single-decanted then immediately poured.  With all four glasses in front of us it was obvious our bottle of 1965 Romanée-Conti was flawed as was the 1966 La Tâche.  The 1966 Romanée-Conti was suffering a bit but the 1965 La Tâche was in fine form.  Despite being less than ideal, the 1966 Romanée-Conti  initially offered a complex nose I had trouble describing.  The 1965 La Tâche was the star of this flight for me.  A lovely wine all around and complete shock given the vintage.  Compared to some of the other wines with similar age, this has quite a bit of substance.  I held on to my glass for a long time.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 01281
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Very clean on the nose, revealing incense and perfume. Elegant yet with depth. This is a mid-weight wine which still sports some supporting tannins. With air it reveals a silky nature, infused with fat, and a baking spiced finish. **** Now but will last.

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1965 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 00578
Imported by Frederick Wildman. The stink on the nose is hard to get around. Shame as it is round and dense in the mouth with a mineral cut. The flavors have power but the nose reveals it is a flawed bottle that eventually falls apart. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, S/N 03090
Imported by Frederick Wildman. Shame, the worst nose and gross in the mouth. Not Rated.

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1966 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, S/N 01221
Imported by Frederick Wildman. An exotic nose with perfumed aromas that I have difficulty describing. In the mouth it is supple and elegant with some spice. *** Now.

A Blind, Rather Old Bottle of Burgundy

After the DRC flight we were treated to a bottle of Burgundy served blind.  Two lines of inquiry developed as to the vintage and appellation.  Though one guest eventually narrowed in on Pommard, I do not possess that sort of experience so I focused in on vintage.  It was certainly older than 1964.  Based on a handful of bottles I have tasted from the 1940s and 1930s I decided it had to be older, perhaps 1920s or even 1910s.

The bottle was revealed to be 1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots.  I was excited to guess the general age but more so to finally have tasted a Dr. Barolet wine.  The excitement level rose even more when we next learned that it was acquired at the 2006 Acker auction of Rudy Kurniawan’s “THE Cellar”.  I will write more about this particular bottle in a subsequent post but whether it be a real or fake bottle, it was very good.  Michael Broadbent writes that the 1928 Epenots and Rugiens were among the best of original bottles at the 1969 Christie’s auction.  At our tasting, it was one of the best bottles as well.

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1928 Collection du Docteur Barolet (Henri de Villamont) Pommard-Epenots
Purchased at “THE Cellar”, Acker-Merrall & Condit, January 2006. The lightest and most mature brick color of all wines tasted this night. Clear in the glass. A fine, scented nose with ripe hints. It develops with air showing apple orchard and hints of red fruit. In the mouth it is red fruited, tart with some vein of very old wine flavor. There is a meaty note. Precision comes from the spine of acidity. It focuses with air.  **** Now but will last.

Champagne Refreshment

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A pair of Champagnes acted as a palate refresher while the preparation of the Coq au Vin was finished.  The Paul Bara, Special Club is on the sweet side for my preferences.  I can imagine serving it outside at a BBQ.  I prefer the Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne.

2012 Paul Bara, Special Club, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Envoyer Imports. Alcohol 12%.  A burst of sweet fruits comes with the initially firm bubbles.  A creamy mousse persists along with the sweet fruit.  *** Now – 2024.

2006 Tattinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Rose
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Aromatic.  Focused flavors and firm bubbles lead to dry, baking spices.  There is a vein of sharp acidity around which rounded, berry notes form until picking up a racy hint in the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

Dinner Wines

With dinner we moved on to several old and a few young Burgundies.  Some of the oldest Burgundies I have drunk comes from Maison Camille Giroud.  Founded in the 19th century, this negociant firm still believes in long barrel aging.  They hold back stock, releasing some wines decades after the vintage.  The 1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru and 1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes reflect perfect provenance.  Both wines sport some old-wine concentration but the 1949 is more tangy and elegant from age whereas the 1966 is completely different with its attractive baked cookie notes.  It was my second experience with the 1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux and I still like it very much.  It is a hedonistic wine for drinking now.  In moving forward nearly two decades, the 1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny is certainly younger but still full of character.  I particularly liked the scented nose and understated complexity.  In contrast, the 2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets  is very young and tonight, in need of more age.

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1949 Camille Giroud, Volnay Santenay Premier Cru
Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  Round with sweet and sweaty flavors with a beautiful, old-wine concentration.  The finish is initially a little short and there is some heat but there is plenty to engage with.  The wine does flesh out with air, taking on tangy citrus, spices, and stones in the long, lifted, ethereal finish. **** Now.

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1966 Camille Giroud, Volney 1er Cru Clos des Chenes
Imported by USa Wine Imports. Burgundy Wine Company Selection.  A deep mahogany color.  The array of spices on nose reminds me of Nurnberger Lebkuchen.  A round and sweet start brings on some old-school flavors carried by a structural vein.  Sandalwood. **** Now – 2024.

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1978 Mongeard-Mugneret, Grands-Echezeaux
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections. Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Exotic perfume on the nose.  The cherry fruit flavors persist with good acidity.  This is a weighty, expansive wine with fat in the finish.  Hedonistic and drinking well right now.  **** Now.

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1994 Domaine G. Roumier, Chambolle-Musigny
Alcohol 12.7%.  Nice with a strawberry scented nose.  An elegant wine with some gravelly density.  It balances youth with complexity leaving the impression of a lovely, characterful wine.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

2002 Domaine Annick Parent, Volnay Les Fremiets
Very youthful, pure, almost candied with flavors of red grapefruit.  In the end, I think this wine needs more time.  *** 2022-2032.

Dessert Wine

With a chocolate tart we had a small grouping of dessert wines.  In order of age, the 1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles is perhaps the most concentrated wine I have drunk.  With notes of dried figs and baking spices, this unctuous wine has enough acidity to keep it balanced.  There is so much flavor packed in that you only need the tiniest of pours.  The 1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen continues to deliver unctuous flavors with tea notes but this bottle showed a touch less acidity than before.  It is always a treat to taste these old bottles of Riesling.  Finally, the 1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva offered a good surprise.  The nose was pungent, evocative of Madeira, with dried fruit and spices, along with a touch of red fruit.  I had no idea what to expect so I was pleased.

1946 Bodegas Albala, Don P.X. Convento, Montilla-Moriles
Imported by Classical Wines.  Alcohol 17%.  Bottled in 2011.  Surely, the most concentrated wine I have tasted.  Incredibly dark and viscous enough to stain the glass brown.  Lifted aromas of dried figs and baking spices.  An acidity driven start followed by a knife-edge of acidity pierces through the unctuous and sweet flavors.  Fresh, wet baking spiced flavors coat and persist in the mouth for a long time.  One of the most concentrated wines I have ever dried, you only need a tiny pour.  **** Now until whenever!

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1964 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Kehr und Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars. From the Don Stott Cellar.  A youthful yet aged golden yellow color.  Baking spices on the nose.  A sweet core with weighty flavors of apricot and tea.  A bit soft, plumped up with fat and perfume.  There is less obvious acidity but the tea and tannins keep the wine fresh.  *** Now.

1968 Lodovico e Piero Antinori, Vino Santo Rosso Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 16%.  Wow, of course I like this wine for the pungent aromatics remind me a bit of Madeira.  There are flavors of sweet, spiced, dried fruit and plenty of texture around the fuller bodied wine.  There is enough acidity to be supportive.  The wine tastes of mature flavors with old leather and old-school notes in the finish.  Towards the end this viscous wine becomes more red-fruited.  ***(*) Now – 2039.

Wines That Were DOA

The following three bottles were bad!

  • NV (1970s) Simi, Burgundy, Sonoma
  • 1978 E. Guigal, Hermitage
  • 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux

Deep and mature Kalecik Karasi from Turkey

This 2014 Vinkara Winery, Kalecik Karasi, Kalecik is a fine follow-on to the 2013 vintage which I reviewed here.  In fact, I like it even better for it is deep and mineral without the prickle.  I imagine that if you like a maturing, dark Cotes du Rhone then you will enjoy this wine very much.  I find it drinking well right now but will last a few more years.  It is a steal at $15.  Thanks to John for pointing this out at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Vinkara Winery, Kalecik Karasi, Kalecik, Ankara – $15
Imported by Fine Terroir Selections. This wine is 100% Kalecik Karasi that was aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol 14%.  Deep aromas on the nose followed by deep fruit in the mouth with fresh acidity and some tang to keep it lively.  This is a well-balanced wine with a mineral cut in the middle followed by good, robust fruit.  Dark and different, it even takes on some licorice.  *** Now – 2023.

Jimenez-Landi’s old-vine, high-altitude Spanish Garnacha

The 2015 Jimenez-Landi, Las Uvas de la Ira, Mentrida is made from Garnacha located on granite soils west of Madrid.  This area is a mountain range known as Sierra de Gredos.  I have previously enjoyed a few of the wines Jimenez-Landi made for the Commando G label which also come from this area.  This particular wine is very fresh, with lovely strawberry flavor and plenty of presence in the mouth.  This is a fresh wine to drink over the next year.

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2015 Jimenez-Landi, Las Uva de la Ira, Mentrida – $24
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age on Granite soils.  It was fermented in vat then aged in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%. Very fresh in the mouth reinforced a hint of spritz on the tongue.  Open flavors of ripe, textured strawberry fruit tastes of a natural wine with fleeting hints of yeast.  Good presence with mid-weight and mid-density.  It finishes with complex flavors of a Manhattan with a cherry.  *** Now – 2020.

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To drink now, 2012 Domaine de Verquiere, Vacqueyras

I see from my posts that I first drank the 2012 Domaine de Verquiere, Vacqueyras nearly five years ago.  It has now shed its baby fat taking on complex bitters and wood box flavors.  I find it a solid choice for a mature Vacqueyras.  A few bottles resurfaced on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine de Verquiere, Vacqueyras – $27
Imported by Esprit du Vin.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20$ Syrah, and 10% Cinsault fermented in concrete vats then aged in a mix of tanks and foudre.  Alcohol 14%.  Cherry fruit propelled by clear watering acidity moves through this focused wine.  It is an inky, lipsticky wine with complex flavors of bitters and spiced tannins.  It is entering maturing with some wood box, though still retains a bit of structure.  Of modest weight.  *** Now – 2022.

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Austrian Pet-Nat for the Summer

The 2018 Meinklang, Frizzante Rose, Austria is a perfect selection for the summer.  It is floral, fruity, and creamy with bubbles.  It is quite flavorful yet low in alcohol so you can drink a few glasses without effect.  The price point is reasonable allowing you to grab a few bottles for the upcoming hot weekend in DC.  I see that I am behind in my notes.  John first recommended this wine to me back in the Spring so I have gone through a few bottles since.  Fortunately, it is still on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.

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2018 Meinklang, Frizzante Rose, Austria – $18
A Zev Rovine Selection imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This is a blend of Blaufrankish, Zweigelt, and St Laurent.  Alcohol 10.5%.  A medium, rose petal color.  Hints of ripeness then a very lively burst of floral fruit before sweeter bubbles dissipate in a creamy, gentle finish.  *** Now.

One Liter of Slovenian Deliciousness

The 2018 Ptuj Winery, Pullus, Halozan, White Wine, Slovenia must be one of the best white-wine buys in the entire store.  John at MacArthur Beverages recommended it as a crazy blend and I now recommend it as a wine to drink over the course of an entire work week.  While it is intended to be drunk as a spritzer with mineral water, I find it quite good all on its own.  There are plenty of ripe, white fruit flavors, a chalky middle, and crisp acidity.  Incredibly, it lasts for days in the fridge.  Give it a try!

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2018 Ptuj Winery, Pullus, Halozan, White Wine, Slovenia – $13 for 1L
Imported by Vinum USA.  This wine is a varying blend of at least Welschriesling and Rhine Riesling, White Pinot,  Chardonnay, Furmint, Sauvignon and Muscat. Alcohol 11.5%.  A light green, straw color.  In the mouth are ripe flavors of white tree round which are lively with crisp acidity.  There is a chalky, honeysuckle flavored middle and touch of lees in the finish.  It finishes clean.  *** Now – 2022.

Three Wild Wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat

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John recently brought in a selection of wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat.  I picked up three of the red wines which I have opened up over the past week.  These wines are made without any sulphur using grapes from Beaujolais and Jura. The 2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge is pure Muscat rouge which is the greatest outlier of the group being of cloudy color and grapefruit aroma.  It is clearly not for everyone but the flavors have a lovely earthy note and sense of ripeness.  While it does not fall apart into the Pilsner/popcorn spectrum, it is best drunk up on the first day.  The 2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge mixes Gamay with a slew of indigenous Jura varieties.  There is some brett which contributes earth and matches the potpourri flavors with dry tannins.  It is also lively in the mouth and largely stable.  It too will not be for everyone.  My strongest recommendation goes out to the 2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge.  This is the most stable of the three wines, deep in flavor with attractive animale qualities.  I find it compelling to drink.  This is a must-try for those with interest in the Jura.  You may find these wines on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.

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2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge – $24
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is pure Muscat rouge.  Alcohol 13%.  Cloudy with a pale, garnet-rose color.  Smells like a lambic beer with grapefruit and berry aromas.  Lively acidity first greets the tongue with a slight prickle followed by high-toned fruit and a mineral middle.  There is ethereal ripeness and a lovely, earthy note before the Big Red spiced finish.  Of moderate weight, there is an acidity sharp finish, and long aftertaste.  **(*) Now.

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2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge – $29
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of Gamay from Beaujolais with old Jura varieties such as Petit Béclan, Gros Béclan, Geusche, Argant, Peurion, Portugais Bleu, Isabelle, and Enfarine. Alcohol 13%.  A tickle on the tongue, some brett for earthy, and drying, astringent tannins.  With air potpourri flavors develop, surrounded by some fat, citric acidity, and grip in the end.  *** Now.

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2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge – $33
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of mostly Gamay from Morgon and Brouilly with Enfarine from Jura.  Alcohol 13%.  A cranberry red color.  Some earth and wood mix with dry, red fruit, and leather.  This remains the most stable of the wines, developing an animale note.  The lively flavors are somewhat tingling from acidity with red fruit leaning towards deeper, supportive black fruit flavors.  The middle brings dry, citric pithe tannins and an earthy note.  This is a fresh wine with good depth and chalky ripeness.  Compelling.  **** Now – 2022.