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Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Red Wines

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment

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Mid-afternoon we switched from the white wines to the red wines.  We decided to taste wines from Burgundy, Rhone, South Africa, and Spain.  The Burgundy table was crowded but we managed to get a spot.  I thought the #114 2011 Ecard a good, affordable Burgundy for the cellar.  But it was the #115 Thierry Mortet that captivated with good depth and attractive flavors, this will reward cellaring.

When it comes to the Rhone the 2011 vintage brings forth plenty of ripe fruit with fine, powerful tannins.  The #178 Colline St. Jean presented the vintage well and right now is grapey, modern, and tight.  The previous vintage #179 2010 Colline St. Jean seemed young as well but a bottle I drank a few days earlier showed some openness with a good Mourvedre component.  We tasted one Northern Rhone wine the #180 2011 Joel Champet which again proves to be very good, old-school Cote-Rotie.  We recently drank the 2010 vintage and if you like that, you will like the 2011.  If you are going to actually drink anything at Mondovino, drink the Joel Champet.  I would love to see more Northern Rhone wines like this at Mondovino 2014!  In moving to the huge lineup of Alaine Jaume/Grand Veneur wines Christophe Jaume commented that the 2011 vintage was ripe, less masculine, with more alcohol, and fresher flavors.  Perhaps this is best characterized by #173 the 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes which dials in at 16.5% alcohol!  It certainly was a mouthful but has interesting flavors and managed some control.  At the more affordable end the #171 Grand Veneur showed well with the #169 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte showing the best balance and approachfulness.  All of these wines will benefit from cellaring.

Leaving the French wines we moved over to South Africa.  I though the #265 2010 Mullineux, Syrah an interesting and tasty wine that I should like to revisit.  It is appropriately priced.  It was fun to taste #266 2010 Mullineux Granite and Schist.  Though the fruit for each wine is sourced from a different vineyard they are vinified exactly the same.  The Granite showed good freshness and perfume whereas the Schist was denser.  It would be fun to compare these wines after short-term cellaring.  The #269 Keermont is a savory, dense, masculine version of Syrah.

The #300 2009 Mas Sinen had an interesting nose with weight and roundness to the flavors but also lift.  The #304 2009 Pago de Carraovejas is seductive and as Lou put it, tastes expensive.  It certainly is.  Lastly the #241 2003 Romariz Vintage Port is approachable and rich for only ten years of age.

After four hours of tasting our palates were tired and teeth stained purple.  I think it took 24 hours for my tongue and teeth to feel normal.  My only bit advice for those attending next week is to taste the red Rhones last.  I should also comment that the pour sizes are generous.  There was always enough wine for two or three proper mouthfuls.  It only benefits everyone for you get a better sense of the wine.  It does produce a tremendous volume of wine.  This is handled not by spittoons but 40 gallon garbage cans.  I should like to thank Fran Kysela for his generosity with the wine and food,to Jeremy Sutton for all of his answers, and to both for being supportive of this blog.

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#113 – 2010 Ecard, Pinot Noir, Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged six months in used oak barrels.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The very light nose was tight with red fruit.  In the mouth there was firm black cherry fruit which became blacker towards the finish where there was citric acidity and a firm finish.

#114 – 2011 Ecard, Savigny le Beaune – $25
This was a rather light cherry grape color.  The light nose was tight but serious.  In the mouth there was firm red cherry and black fruit.  The wine had a stone-like core with fine ripe tannins.  Tight in flavor, young, and in need of cellaring.

#115 – 2010 Domaine Thierry Mortet, Vigne Belle, Gevrey Chambertin – $85
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines 20-40 years old which was fermented and aged in oak.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The light nose was good with aromas of red and black fruit which had depth.  The mouth followed the nose but was drier with rather fine, drying tannins, and black acidity.  Young.  Nice.

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#176 – 2011 Chateau de Segries, Cuvee Reservee, Lirac – $23
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan sourced from 40 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ grapey garnet.  The nose was light and tight with firm berry fruit.  The flavors were riper in the mouth with black and red fruit expanding throughout.  The flavors are young with fine, powerful, spicy tannins, and a grapey finish.  The ripeness was controlled by the structure.

#177 – 2011 Henri de Lanzac, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone – $31
This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre sourced from 40 year old vines. It was fermented in concrete vats then aged for nine months in 95% used French oak barrels.  The color was a dark grapey, inky color.  The nose was very light and tight with aromas of macerated berries.  The mouth was similar but very ripe with powerful tannins drying everything in sight.  The finish seemed overripe with alcohol poking through.

#178 – 2011 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry(?).  The light nose was tight with purple and grapey aromas.  There was good fruit in the mouth, again grapey, with a black graphite finish.  This modern styled wine had very fine, powerful tannins.

#179 – 2010 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  In the mouth this bottle showed tight with herbs and pencil lead.

#180 – 2011 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie – $50
The color was a medium dark garnet.  The light nose had good fruit, olives, and other interesting aromas.  There was a soft entry to the fruit which had levity and depth.  There were flavors of smoke and bacon, a good mouthfeel, and black acidity.  There were drying, grapey tannins.  Old-school and lovely.

Christophe Jaume

Christophe Jaume

#164 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is ablend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The color was a medium grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and young.  In the mouth there was a savory start with a good mouthfeel, ripe fruit, spices, and acidity.  Nice fruit, firm drying tannins, and needs age.

#165 – 2011 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqueyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was a darker grapey, garnet.  The flavors were very concentrated with savory pencil lead, some subtly, and fine tannins.

#167 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqeuyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was medium purple garnet.  There were black cherry and grapey flavors which were balanced but potent.  The structure kept it in control.

#168 – 2009 Alain Jaume, Terrasses de Montmirail, Gigondas – $33
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  The nose was light, tight, and earthy.  The flavors were more approachable but lacking a bit of depth.  It left a mouthful of tannins.  Cellar.

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2010 Grand Veneur, Roquedon, Lirac
This was a medium grapey garnet.  The flavors tasted a touch mature in this approachable wine.  There was a brambly nature to the purple, grapey fruit.  Decent wine.

#169 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $30
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  The nose revealed good purple, grapey fruit.  The flavors were savory then came grapey fruit, a savory middle, and slightly spicy tannins.  Good wine.

#170 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Vieux Terron, Chateauneuf du Pape – $45
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  The nose was light, tight, and somewhat haunting with more complexity.  In the mouth there was a tangy, citric element to the black fruit.  The flavors were expansive with very fine, powerful tannins, and a young black finish.

#171 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape – $53
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium to dark purple garnet.  The nose was light and grapey.  There was a seductive start, savory fruit, and low lying, good weight.  Vintage perfume came out in the in the finish.  Well done, nice wine.

#172 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ purple garnet.  The light nose was ripe and dense.  In the mouth there was very ripe, soft fruit, some heat, spicy tannins, and lots of power.

#173 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $121
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-100+ year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 16.5%.  the color was a medium+ dark garnet purple.  In the mouth the fine flavors were almost racy with vanilla, weight, a young aspect, minerals in the core.  It showed more control than Les Origines.   One to watch.

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

#265 – 2010 Mullineux, Syrah – $33
This wine is 100% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 15% new French oak barrels and foudres.  The color was a medium+ garnet.  In the mouth salty, savory, good fruit was dense with smokey notes.  The flavors became lighter and thinner in the middle but took up on glycerine.  The finish was fresh.  Interesting.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Granite, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 17 year old vineyard on soils of sandy granite with a thick layer of clay. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  Much better than the first bottle.  Though just opened the nose was lifted and perfume.  There was a lightness and savory character with a smoke note and lipstick/perfume.  Well done.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Schist, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 15 year old vineyard. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  A good nose with herbs.  Dense in the mouth, purple, and very balanced all around.

#269 – 2010 Keermont, Syrah, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is 100% Syrah.  The color was very dark.  The nose was tight with grapey fruit.  In the mouth this wine was savory and dense with controlled ripeness.  There was good fruit to this masculine wine.  Nice wine.

#268 – 2009 Keermont, Red Blend, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot. It was aged for 24 months in used oak.  Just opened.  The color was a very dark grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and Claret like.  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon came through with good expansion.  The fruit was light but powerful, perhaps a note of stems.  Young and should develop.

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#300 – 2009 Mas Sinen, Petit Mas Sinen, Piorat – $39
This wine underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel then was aged for six months in oak barrels.  This was a very dark grapey purple garnet.  The light nose was of lavendar and dark fruit.  The flavors were roundish in the mouth but not heavy.  It took on flavors of Sweet Tarts with weight and lift before the fine, drying tannins in the finish.  Young.

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#304 – 2009 Pago de Carraovejas, El Anejon de la Cuesta de las Liebres, Ribera del Duero – $136
This wine is a blend of 93% Tinto Fion, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Merlot.  This was very dark.  The nose was of dark grapes, roast, and other interesting aromas.  In the mouth there was silky fruit, density, and a savory note but the acidity keeps it alive.  There was a little toast in the spicy finish.  Seductive.

#303 – 2010 Pago de Carraovejas, Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $58
This wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in new and used American and French oak barrels.  This was very dark as well.  The nose was a touch fruitier.  This was a lighter version with a good lifted middle, good flavors but a touch hotter.

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#241 – 2003 Romariz, Vintage Port – $64
This was a very dark garnet cherry.  The nose was grapey with dried fruit and raisins.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, spices, good residual sugar, and a wood box finish.  Though young for a Vintage Port it is quite approachable.

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#250 – 2005 Riebeek, Cape Vintage – $48
This wine is a blend of Touriga National, Pontac, and Shiraz. Alcohol 18.5%.  The nose had a touch of overripe fruit.  There was a rather sweet start with raisins and ultimately too soft for the acidity.  Solid.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Sparkling Wine, Champagne, and White Wine

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

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After tasting through the sake selection Lou and I took a little break by eating some food. Like last year there was an impressive selection of constantly replenished food. There was plenty of game meat including partridge, pheasant, venison, ostrich, and squirrel. Though the meats were diverse the cheeses alone numbered in the dozens and merited a seven page descriptive handout. The oysters of last year were replaced by a sushi station. There were salads and other sides but I could not help but eat my weight in venison. Fortified, we cleaned up our glasses, drank some water, then set to work on the Champagne and white wines. In addition to the perimeter of tables heavily laden with wine bottles there were a few more tables in the middle of the floor. I think the additional tasting space and reduced number of people made it much easier to taste the wines. Last year there were so many people at the first session that we had to taste several wines in a row then retreat to jot down notes from memory. This year we were always able to get a spot in front of a table, though we did have to wait at times. This meant we were able to taste a single wine, spit, and write down notes without moving.

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Of the sparkling wines I thought #370 Charles Duret a good value but it was the #377 Chateau Gaudrelle from Vouvray which was really well done. A big surprise was the lovely #378 Colmant from South Africa. It tasted French and indeed the winemaker Joel Follet has a family winery in Champagne. Moving on to actual Champagne I thought the best of the available selections from Roland Champion was the #382 2007 Special Club. The biggest treat was the 1959 Brut. I was a bit skeptical when I first saw the bottle so I double-checked with both Carole Champion and Jeremy Sutton. This is the 1959 vintage and not a Cuvee 1959? Yes, it was the real thing. A few bottles from the cellar were recently disgorged and brought over as a treat. It was like drinking a fresh, mature white wine with a little bubbly lift. It was a fitting way to end the Champagne tasting and move on to the white wines.

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The selections from Grand Veneur/Alaine Jaume are so numerous as to require two tables. Therefore we only tasted a small portion. Of the whites I enjoyed the Chateauneuf du Pape Blancs namely #157 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc and the #158 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine….just like last year. The #118 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume was very good and a contrast to the #119 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin. Similarly priced I really liked #123 2011 Guillemont-Michel, Quintaine. Now a Vire-Cleese I also enjoyed last years offering of 2009 when it was a Macon-Villages. The #124 2010 Saumaize Michelin showed strongly being the first glass from a just opened bottle. It was good to taste #326 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay again. I should like to try it again in a year. We had meant to return for the Pearmund red wines but ran out of time. The #332 2011 Buty, Chardonnay was interesting with good grip.

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Below you you will find 34 notes split sparkling wines, Champagne, and white wines. I think the notes are best read in order and not individually. Or at the very least a note should be compared amongst its neighbors. I should note that Fran Kysela provides proper wine glasses and the wines were poured at good temperatures. I tried to note color this year. Again read individually the description will lead you astray as the industrial lighting appeared to add green to the lighter wines. Please find my notes in tasting order.

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#370 – NV Charles Duret, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The color was a very light yellow. The light nose was of ripe apple. In the mouth the flavors were firm with floral and pastille flavors mixing with the bubbles. There was bright acidity and a firm mousse. Good value.

#367 – NV Caveau du Mont July, Methode Ancestrale, Bugey Cerdon – $24
This wine is a blend of 95% Gamay and 5% Poulsard. The color was a very light salmon rose. The subtle nose had aromas of apple cider. In the mouth there were fine, firmly popping bubbles, sweet apple cider fruit, ripe flavors, and a spiced finish.

#368 – NV Charles Duret, Rose, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose was tight and subtle. There were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a big mousse in the mouth. There was some sweet spiced fruit and a sweeter finish.

#369 – NV Wolfberger, Brut Rose, Crement d’Alsace – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose bore very fine vintage perfume. In the mouth there was an acidity driven start, finely popping bubbles, and subtle vintage floral fruit.

#377 – NV Chateau Gaudrelle, Sparkling Brut, Vouvrey – $19
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow green. There was a light and tight nose. In the mouth there were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a nice mousse which ended by the middle. This was a balanced, easy to drink wine with integrated fruit.

#378 – NV Colmant, Brut Reserve, Cap Classique – $26
This wine is a blend of 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. 10% is of reserve wine and 12% is barrel fermented. The color was a very light yellow green. The very light nose bore floral apples. In the mouth the fine, firm bubbles persisted. There was a subtle yeast note to the fruit, mouthfilling mousse, and drying tannins. Tastes French.

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#381 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Cuvee d’Aramis, Chouilly, Champagne – $50
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose made way to gently firm bubbles which quietly popped in the mouth. The white fruit flavors were gentle in the mouth. There was a touch of yeast note.

#380 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $54
This wine is 100% Chardonnay aged for at least 30 months. The nose was tight. There was a firm start in the mouth with very fine bubbles, good acidity, and good presence.

#382 – 2007 Roland Champion, Special Club, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $80
This was a light golden yellow. There was good up-front power to the fruit which mixed with the bubbles. The good fruit was of spiced apple and white fruit. There were drying tannins which coated the inside of the lips. Nice. Young.

#379 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Rose, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $58
This wine is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay of which 70% is from 2007 and 30% 2006. The final wine is 15% red wine from Verneuil aged at least four years.  There was a light rose color.  The light nose showed some funk and lactic aromas.  In the mouth there were very fine, firm bubbles which quietly pop.  There was tart red fruit, apple acidity, and drying aspect towards the finish.

Nicola Champion with the 1959

Carole Champion with the 1959

1959 Roland Champion, Brut, Chouilly, Champagne –
This was disgorged at the end of 2012. There was a light yellow color. The light nose was of a mature white wine, complex with wood box aromas. In the mouth there were very subtle bubbles and mature flavors in this fresh and very complex wine. There was some toast and wood box notes in the finish. A real treat.

#155 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $15
This wine is a blend of 50% Roussanne, 40% Viognier, and 10% Clairette. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was floral with honeysuckle like aromas and good fruit. In the mouth the flavors were fruit driven, gentle, and a touch soft.

#156 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc de Viognier, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is 100% Viognier. The light nose had finer, floral aromas. In the mouth the fruit was initially soft but then honeysuckle and structure came out. It was still a bit soft compared to the acidity. There was a drying, citric finish.

#157 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $47
This wine is a blend of 60% Clairette and 40% Roussane. The color was a very light yellow. There was a light, refined nose with a touch of sweet florals. The mouth follows the nose but adds vintage perfume, some roundness, and good length.

#158 – 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is 100% Roussanne. There was good mouthfeel to this oily, easy to drink and almost brambly wine. The fruit was yellower with spices. Served cool but not cold.

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#117 – 2010 Perchaud, Chablis – $15
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 25 year old vines. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose had yellow fruit with some fat to it. There were flavors of toasty apple which became drier towards the finish where there were dry tannins.

#118 – 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The light nose was of fine, yellow fruit in a structure. In the mouth the acidity driven flavors were lively, almost masculine. The yellow and white fruit had good presence and mouth feel. Young with good potential.

#119 – 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The color was a very light yellow green. The nose was more austere. The fruit had tang with good acidity, stones, and plenty of focus. There were some tannins and more structure than the Fourchaume. There was an apple-like finish.

#120 – 2011 Courtault, Petit Chablis – $16
The nose was fresh with good, green veggies and white fruit. The flavors were simpler in the mouth with a yeasty, earthy note. Good acidity.

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#121 – 2010 Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, St. Veran – $23
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 parcels averaging 45 years of age. Vinified in stainless steel and underwent malolactic fermentation. The color was a light yellow. The light nose had low-lying, darker fruit. There was a soft and gentle introduction followed by shorter flavors.

#122 – 2010 Domaine Delorme et Fils, Sur la Roche, Puilly-Fuisse – $29
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 year old vines. This was acidity driven with brighter, fresh fruit that showed both weight and tang. The flavors were lighter.

#123 – 2011 Pierrette et Marc Guillemot-Michel, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse – $33
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 45 year old vines, vinified in stainless steel, and underwent malolactic fermentation. The very light nose was apple-like. In the mouth there was white and yellow fruit which was lively with good grip. Nice wine.

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#124 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vignes Blanches, Pouilly-Fuisse – $39
The color was a very light yellow green. The flavors were fat in the mouth with a wood note and old-school taste. There was a core of fruit. Good weight, apple grip, and tangy flavors in the finish. The first pour from a freshly opened bottle.

#125 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vieilles Vignes, St. Veran – $37
The color was a very light straw yellow. The nose was rather light and tight. The soft fruit made way to white fruit but there was not enough acidity. There were some spices in the finish.

#126 – 2009 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Pentacrine, Pouilly-Fuisse – $43
This The color was a very light yellow straw green (wow!). There was a very light but good nose. In the mouth the grippy yellow fruit had some soft edges but was certainly structured. There were dry, ripe tannins.

#331 – 2011 Buty, Semillon-Sauvignon, Columbia Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 60% Semillon, 21% Muscadelle, and 19% Sauvignon. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was of ripe, white fruit. There was good mouthfeel then the flavors dried up. This was a bigger wine with structure and tannins. Not quite sure what it was.

#332 – 2011 Buty, Chardonnay, Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley – $36
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was almost earthy with yellow fruit. There was fresh, grippy, driven yellow fruit which had some spices to it. The grip continued into the finish. Well done.

#327 – 2011 Pearmund, Viognier, Vinecroft Vineyards, Fauqier County – $23
This had a light nose of drier yellow fruit and hot dogs. The mouth followed the nose with sweeter fruit, acidity, and some spice.

#326 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay, Fauqier County – $20
The color was a light, to medium golden yellow. The nose was of yellow fruit and yeast. In the mouth there was tropical fruit, a creamy mouthfeel, and a subtle toast note. It took on a soft edge towards the finish where there were spices. Young.

#325 – 2011 Pearmund, Riesling, Fauqier County – $20
This was a very light yellow straw color. The light+ nose was of tropical fruit. The mouth followed the fruity nose with grip and spices. Off-dry.

#254 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chenin Blanc – $14
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow. The very light nose revealed some fruit. There was light fruit in the mouth, old wood?, lively acidity, and some grip.

#252 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chardonnay-Viognier – $14
This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Viognier. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose was very pure with grassy and ripe fruit. In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with a powdery, chalky note, and a clean, drying finish.

#264 – 2011 Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland – $28
This wine is a blend of 65% Chenin Blanc, 26% Clairette Blanche, and 9% Viognier which was aged for 11 months in older French oak barrels and one foudre. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was very tight with a yeast note. In the mouth the wine was shutdown with yeast, old wood, vintage perfume, and fruit. There was very bright acidity and a chunky nature. I imagine this needs some age.

#261 – 2012 Kloof Street, Chenin Blanc, Swartland – $20
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc which was aged for 11 months in used French oak barrels. The color was a very light yellow. The very light nose was of yellow and tropical fruits. There were smokey, minerally white fruit then yellow fruit with a bacon note.

Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Delicious Sake

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

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Mondovino is the annual portfolio tasting for Kysela Pere et Fils.  It is located in the company warehouse in Winchester, VA.  It is held on two five-hour days which you would need to attend both in order to taste the almost four hundred wines in addition to the sake and beer.  For our second year in a row Lou and I attended the first day.  Last year we focused on a selection of Champagne and white wines followed by a selection of red wines.  This year we felt we could be more selective and by skipping the more value-oriented bottles we could make time to taste sake.

Thus we found ourselves walking into the warehouse at the very start of the tasting to meet Jeremy Sutton.  Jeremy is a National Sale Agent whom I first met almost two years ago.  We have always emailed about the wines we have drunk but starting this past summer he started writing about sake for Jeremy attended the Sake Professional’s course in Chicago.  This is a three-day immersive course held by John Gautner of Sake World.  There were some 100 sake tasted in six focused sessions and at the end Jeremy emerged a Certified Sake Professional.  With glasses in hand Jeremy led us through a tasting of the sake portfolio.

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Sake is produced from rice.  There are some 100 varieties of rice which are used but these are specific to sake production and not for consumption.  The rice is first milled such that the outer protective layers are removed.  All of the sake we tasted had a polishing ratio of no more than 70% meaning that at least 30% of the outer portion had been milled away.  The milling removes fats and proteins which impede fermentation and affect flavor.  Rice with the least amount of milling makes heavier and fuller sake whereas those with the most milling are more delicate and complex.  After milling the rice is washed, soaked, and steamed.  Once cool it is sprinkled with koji mold.  Rice does not contain any sugars so it cannot directly ferment with yeast.  The koji mold converts the starch into sugar.  Added yeast then converts the sugar in to alcohol.  Over several stages more rice, koji, and water are added to form the mash.  The mash ferments for up to one month and must then be pressed.  There are typically three pressings (arabishiri, naka-dori, and seme) with the second press producing what is considered the best juice.  The sake is then filtered after which the vast majority are pasteurized.  Every bit of the process including the rice variety, polishing ratio, yeast selection, and temperature affect the aroma and flavor of the sake produced.

Only 20% of the sake produced is considered premium sake.  This range of sake is known as special designation sake or tokutei meishoshu and is organized in to six classifications.  These classifications are split between sake with no added alcohol known as Junmai or sake with added alcohol known as Honjozo.  Honjozo indirectly translate to “the original brewing method”  where alcohol is properly added.  Some brewers believe that adding a small amount of distilled alcohol in the final stages of brewing releases more aromatic and flavor compounds which are soluble in alcohol.  Thus at the bottom of the classification are Junmai-shu (at least 70% polishing ratio with no added alcohol) and Honjozo-shu (at least 70% polishing ratio with added alcohol).  The next step up in classification involves longer fermentation at colder temperatures with Junmai Ginjo-shu (at least 60% polishing ratio with no added alcohol) and Ginjo-shu (at least 60% polishing ratio with added alcohol).  The highest classification requires even more precision with Junmai Daiginjo-shu (at least 50% polishing ratio with no added alcohol) and Daiginjo-shu(at least 50% polishing ratio with added alcohol).

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We tasted through 17 sake representing a variety of brewers and classifications.  In Japan the annual hatsu-nomikiri is the event in which the condition of each tank of brewed sake is tasted.  Sake was originally brewed in cedar tanks with bamboo bindings so there was a greater chance they could be off.  Today glass or ceramic lined stainless steel tanks are typically used.  The tasting is used to decide which tanks to blend, whether or not to pasteurize, and also how long the sake needs to be aged.  The sake at Mondovino were presented with official tasting cups or kikizake-joko which are 180cc ceramic white cups with blue concentric circles inside.  The cup helps judge clarity which can be an issue with unpasteurized sake gone bad.  It turns cloudy and yeasty.  In this setting all of the sake looked clear and crisp with perhaps some showing some particulates.  For home enjoyment Jeremy recommends a wine glass.

It was somewhat a shock at first to encounter new aromas and flavors and never being quite sure how to note them.  There was quite a range of styles from the rustic, good fun of #410 Hoyo, Shinning Prince to the truly funky #412 Kamoizumi, Autumnal Elixer.  Some sake such as #411 Hoyo, Fair Maiden were perfumed with delicate mouthfeel but others such as Kysela’s own #420 Eikum, Water Lord had an amazing mouthfeel which was fat, viscous, and weighty.  The #406 Akitabare, Heaven of Tipsy Delight showed lovely floral fruit whereas #415 Kokuryo, Crystal Dragon show amazing amounts of sweet, berrylicious fruit.  Two of the selections were unpasteurized or nama.  These might be equated with the no-sulphur natural wine movement in that they are less stable and must always be stored at cool temperatures.  The #405 Akitabare, Spring Snow had a darker nose with a touch of earth and the #416 Masumi, First Run had a yeast and woodsy note which I thought was well done and interesting.

I highly recommend that you taste through the sake during the second day of Mondovino 2013.  Definitely take a look at Sake World for background information, which is where much of this information is sourced, and if Jeremy has a free moment, have him taste with you.  Most of these selections are imported by World Sake Imports but the #420 Eikun and #421 Gassan are imported directly by Fran Kysela.

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404 – Akitabare, Koshiki Junzukuri Northern Skies, Akita Prefecture – $27 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Gin no Sei, Polishing Ratio: 60%, Alcohol: 14.5%, Yeast Type: Association No.9.  The nose reveals good fruit, fat, and some heat.  The flavors are soft and round in the mouth, chalky, a little heat in the finish, and a long aftertaste.

405 – Akitabare, Shunsetu, Spring Snow, Akita Prefecture – $25.50 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Gin no Sei, Polishing Ratio: 60-64%, Alcohol: 14-15%, Yeast Type: Association No.9.  The nose is a little darker, perhaps a touch of earth, with the aromas standing out more.  In the mouth there is cool fruit at first, quite racy in the middle, and a shorter aftertaste.

406 – Akitabare, Suirakuten, Heaven of Tipsy Delight, Akita Prefecture – $69 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Yamadanis, Polishing Ratio: 60-64%, Alcohol: 14-15%, Yeast Type: Association No.9.  Aged two years in bottle.  There is good floral fruit on the nose without any heat.  It was very pretty in the mouth with flavors that follow the nose.  Some nuts.  There is a good aftertaste with some sweetness.

407 – Dewasansan, Green Ridge, Yamagata Prefecture – $36 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Dewasansan, Polishing Ratio: 50%, Alcohol: 15.8%, Yeast Type: Yamagata KA.  Some grass on the nose and a touch of heat.  In the mouth this big wine has lots of powdery flavors.

408 – Dewazakura, Izumi Judan, Tenth Degree, Yamagata Prefecture – $34 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Dewasansan, Polishing Ratio: 50%, Alcohol: 17.5%, Yeast Type: Yamagata YK-0107.  The nose reveals, juicy floral fruit.  In the mouth the flavors are more focused with a spicy finish and a little heat.  Neat stuff.

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409 – Dewazakura, Oka, Cherry Bouquet, Yamagata Prefecture – $34 (300 mL)
Rice Variety: Miyamanishiki and Yukigesho, Polishing Ratio: 50%, Alcohol: 15.5%, Yeast Type: Ogawa.  The nose reveals fruit and berries.  In the mouth there is big berry fruit at first then it rounds out with sweeter fruit and a fresh aftertaste.

410 – Hoyo, Genji, Tokubetsu Junmai, Shining Prince, Miyagi Prefecture – $28 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Kura no Hana, Polishing Ratio: 55%, Alcohol: 15.5%, Yeast Type: Association 901.  This was rustic, a touch woodsy, with good strength in the middle.  Good fun.

411 – Hoyo, Kura No Hana, Fair Maiden, Miyagi Prefecture – $33 (500 mL)
Rice Variety: Kura no Hana, Polishing Ratio: 45%, Alcohol: 15.5%, Yeast Type: Association 1601.  The more delicate nose is almost perfumed.  It was very pretty in the mouth with a good, delicate mouthfeel, and a little sweetness.

412 – Kamoizumi, Junmai Daiginjo, Autumnal Elixer, Hiroshima Prefecture – $31 (500 mL)
Rice Variety: Yamadanishiki, Polishing Ratio: 50%, Alcohol: 16%, Yeast Type: Setouchi 21.  Wow, the funky nose was complex with mushrooms.  In the mouth it was funky too with berry fruit, round flavors, a touch of heat, and a good aftertaste.

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413 – Kamoizumi, Junmai, Three Dots, Hiroshima Prefecture – $33 (900 mL)
Rice Variety: Hiroshima Hattan and Nakate Shinsenbon, Polishing Ratio: 58%, Alcohol: 16%, Yeast Type: Setouchi 21.  The nose was more subtle and darker.  There were sweet, ripe fruit flavors in the mouth, yeasty, good flavor, and a sake finish.

415 – Kokuryo, Tokusen Ginjo, Crystal Dragon, Fukui Prefecture – $42.55 (720 mL)

Rice Variety: 500 Mangozu, Polishing Ratio: 50%, Alcohol: 15.5%, Yeast Type: Kokuryu Yeast.  The nose was berry-licious.  In the mouth there were very sweet, berrylicious fruit, a restrained mouthfeel, then soft sweet fruit in the aftertaste.

416 – Masumi, Arabashiri, First Run, Nagano – $62 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Hitogokochi and Miyamanishiki, Polishing Ratio: 55%, Alcohol: 17-18%, Yeast Type: Alps.  This is unpasteurized and produced from first run juice.  The nose was yeast with rice.  There was a lot of character in the mouth with woodsy notes and a filling, good finish.  Well done and interesting.

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417 – Masumi, Nanago, Seventh Heaven, Nagano – $62 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Miyamanishiki, Polishing Ratio: 49%, Alcohol: 16%, Yeast Type: Association No. 7.  The nose was delicate.  The flavors were fat in the middle before focused berry fruit picks up some heat in the finish.

418 – Masumi, Okuden Kantsukuri, Mirror of Truth, Nagano – $30 (720 mL)
Rice Variety: Miyamanishiki, Polishing Ratio: 60%, Alcohol: 15%, Yeast Type: Association No. 9.  This gave up less with some cheese and woodsy notes.  OK.

419 – Tedorigawa, Iki Na Onna, Lady Luck, Ishikawa Precture – $48 (720 mL)
Polishing Ratio: 60%.  There was a subtle nose followed by a touch bright fruit in, what I would imagine, a modern style.

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421 – Gassan, Shimane Sake, Junmai Ginjo, Mountain-Moon, Shimane Prefecture – $36 (720 mL)
This had a subtle nose. In the mouth there was forward driving fruit and a rice note.  Not as complex.

420 – Eikum, Junmai-Shu, Water Lord – $36 (720 mL)
The nose revealed nuts and chocolate.  The chocolate returned in the mouth with a fat, weighty, thick mouthfeel.  It was smooth all around.  Lots of mouthfeel.