David Bloch returns from a hiatus in writing, though not tasting, to list his favorite Champagnes and both New and Old World white and red wines.
Top 10 Champagnes
1996 Moët & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon
1998 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz
2004 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil
2004 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
2006 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve
Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Brut Blanc de Blancs
Camille Savès Grand Cru Brut Carte Blanche Bouzy
Varnier-Fanniere Grand Cru Cuvée St-Denis
G. H. Mumm & Cie Crémant de Cramant
Top 10 Reds
Old World Reds:
1993 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
1994 Château Latour
1995 Château Troplong Mondot
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano
1997 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal
1998 Vieux Château Certan
1999 Jean Raphet et Fils Clos Vougeot Cuvée Unique
1999 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis
New World Red:
Top 10 Whites
2001 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese
2004 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg
2005 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck GK Riesling Spätlese
2006 Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette
2006 Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Hochrain
2007 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Trocken Großes Gewächs
2007 Vatan Sancerre Clos La Néore
2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs
2009 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
2010 Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin En Remilly
1990 Château Climens
1996 Château d’Yquem
2001 Château Rieussec
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume
2002 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Auslese Goldkapsel
The 2010 Chateau Mangot, Saint Emilion Grand Cru is a largely forward wine with an outright display of its oak aging. It is a solid, flavorful wine that requires more time for the oak to integrate. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2010 Chateau Mangot, Saint Emilion Grand Cru – $23
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot with the remaining Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon aged 14 months in 40% new oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. The oak shows through the fruit with chocolate flavors, polished wood, and powdery, sweet cocoa tannins. The fruit is of an attractive blue and black nature, existing in a wee bit of structure that will allow a bit of aging. Some heat breaks through with air. ** Now – 2020.
When I asked Mark for a recommendation on an affordable bottle of red Bordeaux which I could drink now he kept returning to the 2006 Chateau Daugay, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Indeed for me it was also a return for I last drank this vintage four years ago to this month. Over this period of time the wine has moved from needing a few hours of air and being youthfully fresh to one that quickly reveals its dense and rounded dark flavors. I like this wine for it is flavorful, subtly complex, and restrained in alcohol. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2006 Chateau Daugay, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – $30
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This is a blend of approximately equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 35-year-old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in a mixture of stainless steel and oak. Alcohol 13.5%. There are black, mineral fruit flavors that are initially a bit dense and rounded. The moderate structure brings a polished wood note and some drying tannins on the gums. This wine eventually adds some complexity by developing a touch of ink and orange-spices in the middle. *** Now – 2021+.
2005 Chateau Bellisle Mondotte, Saint-Emilion
Yes, it is quite early. Yes, the wine is young. But after all the (failed?) semi-hype around the 2015s I felt like checking in on a 2005. Located near Troplong Mondot, La Mondotte and Tertre Roteboeuf, the vineyards sit amongst highly regarded properties. A very deep color. Quite meaty and still tannic (as expected). Notes of black fruit at first sip. Then earth with a mineral bite. Wine is long in the mouth. For a moment the wine showed more like a Left Banker (maybe St.-Estephe), but then the longer the bottle aired, it reverted back to the Right. I like this wine and think it just needs more bottle age to simmer down a bit. It remains a fine value in quality Bordeaux. DB.
2004 Chateau Quinault, l’Enclos, Saint-Emilion
This was $25 when offered on futures. A total steal. A nose of dark berries and herbs. Undeniably a Right Banker. Mocha and some dark cherry on entry. Some pencil and smoking embers. Wine is really mature and maybe beginning to dry out a bit. Drink up and enjoy. DB.
No one could remember where the bottle of 1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart came from. It had been in the store for at least several years. The label was in perfect shape but the ullage was 5cm down and the color was wearily light in the bottle. I bought it anyways. The 1964 vintage is still quite strong and I do not see Burgundy from the 1960s that often. I am glad that I bought the bottle for it turned out to be my favorite wine over seven other old selections.
David and I gathered at Lou’s house last week. Having acquired a number of bottles from the moving remnants cellar, I thought it would be fun to serve six of the bottles blind. After secretly cutting capsules, extracting corks, and brown bagging the wines we gathered everything up to taste outside by Lou’s pool.
The air was fresh, there were minimal clouds, and we were partially shaded by a maple tree. I had sniffed the bottle of Mommessin and did not detect anything wrong. The cork was very long, exceeding the length of my Durand. Perhaps it was impossibly long for the top of the cork had mushroomed over the lip of the bottle as if it refused to be shoved in all of the way. It was a little alarming to see but the bottle smelled proper.
I took a quick sniff and taste. I was completely excited to find that not only was the wine sound, it was very good. The color was very light but the wine was flavorful. It reminded David of old Barolo, light in color yet mouthfilling in flavor. Mommessin acquired the Clos de Tart vineyard in 1932 keeping on M. Cyrot as regisseur who was only succeeded by Alfred Seguin in 1965. Thus our bottle was produced under Cyrot’s tenure during which excellent wines were made in the 1940s and 1950s. According to Clive Coates, the wine was produced using the chapeau immerge technique. In this technique a grill is placed two-thirds of the way up the vat to prevent the cap from rising. Thus there are no punch-downs only pumping over. This apparently produces a wine of more elegance with less color and tannin extraction. It could also explain why our wine was so light in color.
I kept pouring additional wine in my glass so that I could continue to taste it. It was a lovely bottle of old Burgundy with a sense of lightness, sweet fruit flavors, and no fragility.
1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart
Imported by Capitol City Liquors Co. Alcohol 13%. It is a very pale color in the glass. The nose remained bloody and meaty through the end. In the mouth were plenty of ripe cherry and strawberry fruit that had a sweetness to it. This lively wine had a good mouthfeel, some texture, and some spice. It did not fade over three to four hours. **** Now.
After drinking a good share of the Mommessin, we not only moved on to the six blind wines but to a completely different style of red Burgundy. The bottle of 1979 Domaines Jaboulet-Vercherre, Beaune Clos de l’Ecu threw everyone into a state of confusion as to what it was. The Jaboulet-Vercherre firm has early 19th century origins in the Rhone with their expansion to Burgundy occurring a century later in the 1920s. I agree with Robert Parker agreeing with Hubrecht Duijker that the Rhone origins of the estate resulted in colorful and full bodied wines. Our bottle was certainly dark in color, dark in flavor, and remarkably well preserved. It is not a wine of finesse like the Mommessin, rather a hypothetical blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah. It is a sturdy wine that will easily make age 50.
1979 Domaines Jaboulet-Vercherre, Beaune Clos de l’Ecu
Imported by Beitzell & Co. This color is quite dark with some garnet hints. The nose initially smelled of barnyard but cleaned up. In the mouth this salty wine offered full flavors of darker fruit bound seamlessly with acidity. The finish is simple and a bit short. This solid wine is age-defying. ** Now.
The first pair of Bordeaux were quite different. The 1980 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves is an attractive greenhouse infused wine both on the nose and in the mouth. It is quite lively with acidity driven flavors making it a solid wine from a very poor vintage. In contrast, the 1979 Chateau Beychevelle, Saint-Julien is from a slightly better vintage. The wine needed some air to blow of its stink. It has an attractively taut, burst of flavor at the beginning with no hint of greenness. There is no reason to cellar the La Mission Haut Brion any further but I suspect it will not change much in case you do. The Beychevelle should be drunk up. Perhaps double-decant off the sediment then drink with your friends.
1980 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Graves
Shipped by Vignobles Internationaux. Imported by Julius Wile Sons & Co. Alcohol 12%. The initial greenhouse aromas are followed by finely scented aromas and even an animale note. The acidity driven red fruit takes on green pepper then red grapefruit flavors. There are minimal tannins at this point but the wine is still very lively. ** Now.
1979 Chateau Beychevelle, Saint-Julien
Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. Alcohol 12.2%. The nose is a bit subtle with initial dirty aromas blowing off to reveal deep aromas of Old Bay seasoning and wood box. There is a taut burst of flavor in this savory wine. It is initially a touch thin in flavor with some fine, bitter tannins. But with air the wine subtly expands through the moderate finish and old-school flavored aftertaste. ** Now.
The pair of 1978s offered a marked improvement in quality. The 1978 Chateau Trotte Vieille, Saint-Emilion has many attractive qualities from coffee aromas, racy, savory flavors, and a good reaction with air. It is a good, mature wine. The estate had changed hands in 1949 and David Peppercorn writes that the wines of the 1950s and 1960s were quite good but then they became largely disappointing. So it appears we were fortunate. There is clearly more vigor and strength in the 1978 Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion, Graves. This is a second wine of Chateau Haut-Brion. Originally a non-vintage wine, Bahans Haut-Brion was sold exclusively to the Bordeaux market. In 1976 a vintage version was released as well. The non-vintage production was discontinued in 1982. So this wine was produced during a brief period when there were two second wines! I liked this bottle too. Both of these wines held up well to extended air.
1978 Chateau Trotte Vieille, Saint-Emilion
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons. Alcohol 12%. The older smelling nose cleans up to reveal coffee and caramel aromas. The wine starts with an animale hint. This racy, savory wine is quite tasty and fully mature. It responds well to air with a little ink, firmness, and good acidity. Nice wine. *** Now.
1978 Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion, Graves
Shipped by Nathaniel Johnston & Fils. Imported by Forman Brothers. Alcohol 11.5%. This is an interesting old-school wine that is clearly quite vigorous with earthy flavors. The blend of fruit, acidity, and tannins makes for a lively, good wine that coats the gums with bits of sweet fruit in the aftertaste. *** Now.
I knew the 1974 Chateau Haut Brion, Graves. was doomed when I cut of the top of the perfect capsule to find a depressed cork covered by gobs of fluffy white mold. As I pulled the cork out the sides appeared muddy, which is a sign of cork failure. The final quarter-inch looked fine but was not enough of a bastion. I was looking forward to this wine because 1974 is a miserable vintage. However, Haut Brion harvested the grapes before the rains started and reportedly made an excellent wine. Lou brought out a bottle of 1970 Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere, Saint-Emilion which coincided with the grilling of some lamb. The bottle had some melted crayon or rubber on it but the insides turned out fine. The wine was a touch smelly at first but started to clean up and become more expressive. I meant to give it enough air before taking a note but alas I forgot to take a note! I did not forget to have another glass of the 1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart which was still just as good as when opened.
1974 Chateau Haut Brion, Graves.
Shipped by Barton & Gustier. Imported by Chateau & Estate Wines Co. Alcohol 12%. Bad bottle. Not Rated.
1970 Chateau Canon la Gaffeliere, Saint-Emilion
Shipped by Solter, Schneider & Co. Imported by Consolidated Distilled Products. Alcohol 11% to 14%. Oops, no note!
We continue the 2009 vintage theme with this pair of notes from David Bloch.
2009 Domaine des Terres Dorées (Jean-Paul Brun), Moulin-à-Vent
Extremely clean style of winemaking. On the nose, very sweet red fruited notes appear without much coaxing. The mouthfeel is silky, with penetrating notes of strawberries, raspberries and some cherry. This a wine to serve to Burgundy drinkers who recoil at the thought of drinking Gamay. The wine doesn’t lack for complexity – a little bit of game and leather peak through as well. Good finish. Some would say wait longer. If you’ve got a few stashed away I’d drink one now. You just may find it is in a place that you like. What a terrific Cru Beaujolais and one of my favorites from the vintage.
2009 Château La Fleur Morange, Mathilde, Saint-Emilion
This is a screaming deal modern-styled Right Banker produced in fairly small quantities from 100% Merlot and is the second wine of La Fleur Morange in St.-Emilion. This is a big and juicy wine that really delivers. A complex nose emerged after only a brief decant. Dark fruits, earth and some minerality are immediate on the palate. Then some chocolate that is typical for Merlot. Now some plum. Maybe a touch jammy. This wine has improved over the last year or two. The tannins are soft and the acidity is balanced which will carry this wine for another 5+ years.