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Posts Tagged ‘Sauternes’

Christmas Claret with Lou

December 23, 2013 2 comments

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This past weekend we gathered at Lou’s house for what is meant to be an annual Christmas tasting…with dinner.  We had decided on Bordeaux ahead of time but in the hours preceding we focused in on the 1983 and 1989 vintages.  The red wines were double-decanted such that they had two hours of air prior to tasting.  We began with charcuterie, an old family crab dish, and a bottle of NV Duval-Leroy, Brut.  Lou and I agreed that it nicely revealed bottle age which made it quite integrated and with subdued bubbles, very easy to drink.  I am not entirely sure what the 2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit is made out of. Apparently Pinot Blanc.  Regardless this self-professed “natural wine” was aromatic and very complex on the nose.  The balance of acidity and skin-contact flavors was quite attractive.

We moved down to the cellar to taste through the red wines.  The 1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien was purchased over 7 years ago from MacArthur Beverages.  This was opened as a curiosity and surprisingly, the nose was quite deep and earthy.  Most people liked this bottle.  The nose was its strong point for the flavors came up a bit short.  For me the 1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc had a nose strong in old-school perfume but the flavors remained firm.  It should continued to live for some time but I do not see it improving.  The 1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien was a perfect example of mature Bordeaux with a fill at the bottom of the neck.  From the beginning the nose was aromatic and deep.  In the mouth were fresh fruit, good acidity, and expansive flavors.  Completely mature but  in no way past its prime.  The 1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol was quite good by the end of the evening when it opened to show black fruit and minerals.  I wonder if it could develop further.  Unfortunately the 1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc was a somewhat flawed bottle.  If you got beyond the musty nose there were veiled flavors of good fruit.  Normal bottles must actually be quite good.

Right before leaving I had a quick glass of 2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes from half bottle.  Lou had picked this up during one of his trips to the UK.  The wine is produced by Chateau Suduiraut using estate fruit.  I thought it already showed an attractive maturity which made it a satisfying drink.

NV Duval-Leroy, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Duval-Leroy Importers.  This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose revealed biscuit, dark yellow fruit, and some toast.  There were good, frothy bubbles at first which quickly dissipated.  The flavors were fresh before the wine became still.  It tasted as if it had some bottle age.  There were dried herbs and toast in the finish.  There was acidity at first then it returned in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2016.

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2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine was slightly cloudy with a light golden yellow color.  The nose was very aromatic with Christmas spices, clove, orange peeling, mulling spices, and floral notes.  In the mouth the crisp acidity was immediately noticeable follow by weight from skin contact.  The wine then became light in flavor with laser acidity and focus to the flavors.  Really nice wine.  **** Now-2016.

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1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light was was quite inviting with earthy aromas of blue and red berries.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the black and red fruit then a slightly firm middle followed by a wood note.  The finish was shorter in flavor.  The acidity was present throughout.  The nose was the best part *** at first but overall ** Now-2018.

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1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-13%.  The nose consistently revealed old-school perfume, it did not give up much fruit.  In the mouth the wine was firmer in flavor with black fruit, prominent acidity, and the sense that this will be long-lived.  ** Now-2024.

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1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
Imported by N & T Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There was a good nose with light to medium strength aromas of deep berries and roasted meat.  In the mouth were tangy berry flavors at first then fresher fruit.  The flavors were gently mouth filling and balanced by good, lively acidity.  It became higher-toned with powdery fruit.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2018.

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1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a low-lying, serious nose.  In the mouth the black fruit tasted fresh and dense.  There was a tangy middle with a cedar note developing by the finish.  It had minerals, good complexity, and was developing well.  With air there was a gentle cedar note, soft finish, and both minerals and a fresh touch of earth in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2020.

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1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was affected by some TCA and was musty but there was fruit underneath.  In the mouth were muted but dense black and red fruit with good acidity and mouthfeel.  It tasted unevolved, muted, and unfortunately a little rough in the finish.  Completely drinkable.  ** Now-2023.

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2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes
This wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc which was aged for 16 months in 10% new and 90% used oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  No formal note but a nice wine, tasting mature already with thickness and spices.  Why wait?  *** Now-2018.

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The 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon

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This past week I attended the 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon held at the Hotel Sofitel Washington, DC.  The luncheon is just one part of the Heart’s Delight Wine Tastings and Auction which was spread over five days.  This event began in memory of Bruce Bassin of MacArthur Beverages in 1999 with the intent to raise money for the American Heart Association.

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The tasting and luncheon was held in Le Bar.  The space was arranged with the 13 wineries located across two sides of the room, the luncheon buffet on a third side with the bar itself holding water and plenty of wine glasses.  Within the center of the room were cocktail tables for tasting and eating.  A small number of us gathered for the event including Ben Giliberti (Calvert-Woodley), Dave McIntyre (The Washington Post and DMWineLine), David White (Terroirist),  Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Christian Schiller (Schillerwine), Dick Rosano (Weekly Wine Pick), Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and Rebecca Canan (Terroirist). For Christian Schiller’s thoughts on the event you may read Heart’s Delight 2013 – A Bordeaux and American Wine Feast in Washington DC for a Good Cause, USA.

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I decided to visit the tables in clockwise order.  Many others had the same idea so despite the small number of attendees there was a bit of a jam where Chateau Palmer met Chateau Clerc-Milon.  In the end I ran out of time and was unable to taste the wines of Chateau Clerc-Milon and Martinelli.  What I did taste was a highly pleasurable array of distinct wines with even the most structured and tannic wine was still enjoyable.  Besides the outstanding quality of the wines I thought the feel of the room was calm.  The number of wines being poured, the number of attendees, the size of the room, and food worked together.  The event became a social affair.  Attendees and winemakers freely chatted and towards the end of the luncheon, everyone started to mingle and small groups formed.

Château Malartic-Lagravière

Bruno and Veronique Bonnie Laplane

Bruno and Véronique Bonnie Laplane

The Blanc is produced from a smaller 6 hectare plot.  Due to its size there is no rush for harvest so they pick the fruit over three tries.  Véronique commented that the Blanc ages well, developing minerals as it does.  The oldest vintage of Blanc in the cellar is the 1945!  The red varietals encompass 43 hectares so it is harvested all at once, plot by plot.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon which was fermented in barrel then aged on the lees for 11 months in 50% new oak barrels.  The nose was floral with light raspberry and a little grassy aromas.  In the mouth there was acidity driven flavors which built weight to reveal ripe, spiced texture, tang, and increased intensity.  There was a very good, persistent aftertaste.  Nice wine.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel and oak vats then aged for 18 months in 75% new oak barrels.  The nose revealed a little ripe fruit, red aromas, vanilla, and bramble fruit.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit was youthful with vigor.  There were ripe tannins which coated the lips and teeth as part of the ripe structure.  The flavors became blacker and racy in the finish turning to tart black fruit in the aftertaste.  It sported fine acidity.  This was quite approachable.

Château Haut-Bailly

Diana Paulin

Diana Paulin

This wine is composed of 20% fruit sourced from a very old vineyard located by hind the left read of the Chateau.  These old vines are approximately 120 years old, being just post-phylloxera.  This vineyard includes plots where six varietals are coplanted.  In order to differentiate between the early and late ripening vines they are tagged with ribbons.

2010 Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
This wind is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc which was aged in 55% new barrels.  The nose revealed concentrated fruit, berry bramble, and an attractive funk.  In the mouth the black and grapey fruit flavors showed firm focus.  This wine has obvious structure with fine ripe citric/wood tannins mixing with black berries in the finish.  This needs age and will be quite comfortable in the cellar.

Château Léoville-Poyferré

Anne Cuvelier

Anne Cuvelier

The estate was acquired by the Cuvelier family in 1920.  Since then they have constructed a new winery, planted new vines, and just in time for the 2010 vintages was the installation of new stainless steel cuviers.

2010 Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien
This wine is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc which was fermented in stainless steel then underwent 50% malolactic fermentation in barrels followed aging in 75% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months.  There was a youthful nose of vintage perfume, grapey aromas, and a good greenhouse aroma.  In the mouth there was an underlying darkness with firm, spicy structure supporting the red and black fruit.  There were drying tannins and some integrated, salivating acidity.  This was a lip coating wine which will clearly benefit from age.

Château Palmer

Château Palmer is the classical wine with Alter Ego the contemporary.  Alter Ego features a larger percentage of Merlot along with shorter barrel aging which makes it more forward. Any fruit not deemed for the Grand Vin or Alter Ego is sold off.

2010 Château Palmer, Alter Ego, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot.  The nose bore good perfume.  The mouth followed the nose with dark perfumed flavors, good acidity, and a racy aspect towards the finish.  This was attractive and probably the most forward of the Bordeaux.

2010 Château Palmer, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot.  There was a dark, perfumed nose with pungent berries which stepped out of the glass.  In the mouth the seductive fruit mixed with dark perfume and some tart red flavors.  The structure was integrated with the flavors taking on a berry quality leaning towards blue and black fruit.  Already very nice in its youth.  Effortlessly flavorful.

Clos Dubreuil

Lisa Simon

Lisa Simon

This wine is produced from fruit sourced from a tiny 10 acre vineyard under the consultancy of Michel Rolland.

2010 Clos Dubreuil, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was tight  In the mouth there was focused blue and black fruit, structure, hint of vanilla, and some extract.  There were ripe, grapey tannins which stuck to the lips.

Château Troplong Mondot

Myriam Ruer

Myriam Ruer

With 33 hectares of vines Troplong-Mondot is one of the largest estates in St. Emilion.  The vines themselves average 65 years of age.

2010 Château Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  The nose stepped out with lipsticky aromas of bramble fruit.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, black, inky fruit which was mouthfilling and attractive.  The vein of flavor stood up to a fair amount of structure.  The tannins coated the lips and gums.  This was drinking well.

Château Pontet-Canet

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

The Tesseron family has slowly replanted the vineyards and improved the winery since they acquired it in 1975.  The fruit is fermented in both wooden vats, without temperature control, and modern concrete vats installed in 2005.

2010 Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot which was fermented in oak and cement vats then aged for 16 months in 60% new oak barrels.  The nose was of ripe, mixed fruits.  In the mouth the soft forward fruit had blue flavors with both integrated acidity and tannins.  It was approachable and soft in a sense with some low-lying flavors and a grapey finish.  A fair amount was going on with absolutely no hard edges.

Meteor Vineyards

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

Meteor Vineyards dates to 1998 when Barry and Tracy Schuler purchased a proper in Coombville.  The vineyard was planted in 1999 on a rocky knoll at 500 feet.  The soils are volcanic and might be part of a caldera.  The vineyard is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon and this particular wine is produced from three different clones.

2009 Meteor Vineyards, Perseid, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 22 months in 65% new French oak.  The nose preceded the mouth with dark, racy Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.  It has a sweet vanilla beam with a cool aspect and pervasive, dark perfume.  It was almost lush but the structure was inside to provide a framework.

Château Guiraud

Laure Planty

Laure Planty

This is an 18th century estate which since 2006 has been run by Robert Peugeot, Olivier Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg, and Xavier Planty.  The fruit is sourced from some 85 hectares of vineyards.

2010 Château Guiraud, Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. RS 132 g/L.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The nose was fruit with fresh, mandarin oranges.  In the mouth the residual sugar was noticeable before the very attractive body coated the tongue.  There was a glycerin feel along with flavors of baking spices and some creme brulee.  The acidity was integrated.  An inviting young wine.

Château Coutet

Dominique Baly

Dominique Baly

The estate has been producing wine since the 17th century.  Today it is the largest Barsac property with 35 hectares of vines and is owned by the Baly family.

2010 Château Coutet, Barsac-Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle.  RS 154 g/L.  Alcohol 14%.  With warmth this showed more apricot flavors and that balance was such that the residual sugar was lessened by the acidity.  The finish wrapped up with peaches and stone fruits.  A lively young wine.

Kicking Off Old Wine Week with Jenn, Lou, and Frank

It all started one fall morning when Lou texted me a picture of a pristine bottle of  1966 Parducci, Zinfandel.  I love to drink old wines and apparently to look at them as well.  There is that sense of curiosity and potential surprise from a good glass of old wine.   It certainly is a gamble but at an attractive price it is worth it.  Since I received Lou’s text we picked up a few various bottles but these were mostly Bordeaux and nothing prior to 1970.   Joe at MacArthur Beverages had recently bought a few wine cellars.  A number of these bottles ended up in the dump bin.  Through fortuitous timing I happened to be at the store when both the California and French bins were filled.  I knew a tasting was coming together when Andy pointed out the two bottles of 1960s Beaulieu Vineyards with their bottom neck fills.  To this I added other mature wines from California, Bordeaux, vintage Port, and Bordeaux.  The wines from California and the red Bordeaux did not come from the best storage conditions but they were priced right.  The Sauternes came from a different cellar with good storage condition.  With enough wines in hand for a tasting Jenn and I were recently joined by Lou and Frank (DrinkWhatYouLike) for a tasting of some of these old bottles.

Traffic was horrendous that evening so we got off to a bit of a late start.  The weather was turning a bit sketchy but we managed to have a glass of Ca’del Bosco on the deck along with some cheese.  Frank has a particular affinity for this estate since he has actually visited it and disgorged some wine.  I was not taking notes at this point for I was, quite frankly, thirsty.  I found the wine refreshing and with my glass finished I was ready to taste the old red wines.

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NV Ca’del Bosco, Cuvee Prestige, Franciacorta  –
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero, and 10% Pinot Bianco blended with at least 20% reserve wine then aged for 28 months.  Disgorged Summer 2012.  Alcohol 12.5%.  From memory, fresh, approachable yellow fruit with citrus and some yeast.  Fine bubbles.  Very easy to drink.

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I had stored both of the bottles laying down in the Euro Cave.  The sediment in both bottles had settled down but knowing these weren’t the strongest vintages I was worried about decanting them.  I briefly conferred with Lou and having decided to ignore the sediment,  I stood the bottles on end and begin to cut the tops of the capsules.  The top of both corks were in great shape.  The 1962 cork looked a bit more like old wood with just a little cellar mold.  The top of the 1967 cork looked pristine.  I extracted both corks with an Ah-So.  The 1962 cork smelled like very old wood with hints of tobacco.  It was marked “Portugal 196[2?]”.  The 1967 cork was marked “Beaulieu Rutherford, Calif” and its business end was much darker, almost black.  It smelled of old cork and vintage perfume.  A sniff of each bottle revealed them sound.  I had expected the 1962 to have already cracked up but instead it had promise!  It managed to drink well for some 10-15 minutes before it cracked up for the worst.  The 1967 had more fruit and was more robust, lasting almost one hour.  The nose remained interesting for quite some time longer.

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1962 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium amber tawny.  The light nose immediately revealed cedar, roast earth, and dried leather.  Then a few minutes later it was scented with coffee and caramel.  In the mouth there was firm red fruit, acidity, and a fresh aftertaste.  It faded fast and after 10 minutes it begin to crack up and fall apart.  Past.

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1967 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was closer to medium tawny with a bit more red.  The nose did open up to reveal deeper aromas as if there were more fruit.  In the mouth this rustic, old-school wine had more fruit but it faded and softened with air.  There was an interesting note.  It was more robust than the 1962 but its slow decline begin by hours end.  * Past.

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Lou managed to remove the Parducci cork with a cork-screw.  The top of the cork was black and white with mold having protruded half a centimeter down the sides.  The cork itself was red and wrinkly looking.  It was faintly branded “Parducci” and was about the same length as the Beaulieu Vineyard corks.  It smelled of leather and the sea but fortunately the wine did not.  The 1966 vintage was stronger than 1962 and 1967 as evidenced by this bottle.  This wine was in great shape and even drank well the following night.  After getting over my initial surprise I knocked back a glass or two of this old quaffer.

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1966 Parducci Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Mendocino County –
Fill half-centimeter above vintage label.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium tawny, the darkest yet.  The nose revealed deep, red fruit with some scent and old perfume.  In the mouth the fruit was firm with acidity.  It was spiced and again a note about the acidity.  It was not overly complex nor too engaging but it was completely drinkable.  There were still a bit of ripe tannins.  With air it took on dried leather in the mouth and firmed up.  ** Now.

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With the 1962 Beaulieu having expired we needed something else to drink.  Lou thought the 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose to be a good choice.  I extracted the cork with an Ah-So without any issues.  It was a good centimeter longer than the previous three corks.  The cork and bottle smelled proper so I carefully double-decanted the wine to remove the sediment.  As I did so it gave off dark, earthy aromas.  The nose remained interesting but in the mouth the impression was of robustness and solidity.  I think it safe to write that this bottle suffered from its storage conditions but it must have been made of such stuffing to evolve to this point and probably could have continued as well.

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1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien –
Imported by Chateau & Estate Wine Company.  This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age.  It was fermented in cement tanks then aged 16-18 months in new and used oak.  Top should fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The light to medium nose was robust and good with dark fruit and a little fresh menthol.  The mouth followed the nose but was not as expressive.  There was black and red fruit with tartness and acidity which was integrated throughout.  The flavors faded and thinned with air.  It had some textured ripe tannins.  A solid experience which left the impression that it was not the best bottle.  ** Now-2018.

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Lastly it came time to open the Sauternes.  Lou brought the 1988 Raymond-Lafon from a parcel of 1988 Sauternes half-bottle he picked up for both of us.  He thought it a bit clunky upon first taste so I opened the 1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron.  These were very different types of wine.  The Raymond-Lafon was young with less residual sugar to the flavors of apples and berries.  The Haut-Bergeron was rich in flavor and feel with caramel and tobacco flavors.  I drank the remnants over a few nights.  The Raymond-Lafon remained a decent, enjoyable wine but never showed good depth.  At one point I forgot to recork the Haut-Bergeron.  I discovered the bottle with its remains several days later.  It still smelled fine so I tried it and it was fine!  It had taken on a little roughness from oxidation but otherwise it was still enjoyable.  I imagine well-corked examples will live for several decades.

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1988 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age.  The fruit was pressed in a hydraulic press then barrel fermented for 3-5 weeks.  No sulphur was added to stop fermentation thus relying on antibiotic botryticine.  It was racked every three months and aged three years in 60% new oak.  Top shoulder fill.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a vibrant, medium amber.  The nose was fine but not too complex.  In the mouth there were drier, firmer flavors of apple and then mixed apple and berries.  It was very much alive and tasting young.  It was not too sweet from residual sugar and still had plenty of acidity.  While not that complex it had an expansive finish.  ** Now-2033.

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1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium tawny.  The nose revealed more botrytis and cider aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were tawny with botrytis, good feel and texture, along with caramel and tobacco notes.  I think this richer wine has the residual sugar, acidity, and alcohol to last for many decades to come.  ** Now-2043.

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I opened the leftover 1966 Parducci and 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose three nights later for our schedule had conspired against me revisiting them earlier.  We sat on the couch watching the television where Jenn was enjoying the 2010 Kermit Lynch, Cotes du Rhone.  I drank the 1966 and 1983 that night tickled that they were my table wine for one evening.

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A Surprising Number of Wines at Shane’s House

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

This past weekend we attended a class fundraiser at our neighbor Shane’s house.  The goal was to raise funds for a French Immersion class trip to Montreal.  The event was hosted by Shane, Denise, Scott, and Jennifer.  Shane works for Bacchus Importers and Scott works for Monument Fine Wines so I knew it would be a fun evening.  Throughout the house were tables representing a particular region of French.  Each table had several wines and dishes from that region.  There was quite a diverse set of wine so I did my best to taste through a variety and jot down some simple notes.

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Providing enough sparkling wine for everybody is a tough job but the NV Charles de Fere, Reserve Rose Dry is always a great choice.  It is an interesting blend of Gamay, Cinsault, and Cabernet from the Loire and Sciacarellu from Corsica!  I thought this bottle showed an entry of ripe fruit and rather fine bubbles which softly dissipate into a short mousse.  There was citric acidity and drying flavors.  The 2010 Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rose Premium Millesime, Saumur is a blend of most Cabernet Franc and Grolleau.  I am not aware of drinking Grolleau before.  This bottle had firmer bubbles which made a nice mousse, drier fruit, then white citrus fruit, and a tangy finish.

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Next I skipped over to the white Burgundies by starting with the 2011 Bastion de L’Oratoire Chanson, Vire-Cleese. This wine imported by Terlato is 100% Chardonnay which is vinified in vat and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It had  a light nose of white and ripe floral fruit, honeysuckle like.  In the mouth the whiter fruit had some tropical ripeness and grip.

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The  2011 J. M. Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru, imported by Vineyard Brands, stepped things up.  There was a light nose of good fruit, nutmeg, with more depth.  The flavors followed the nose and were lithe, focused and young with lively acidity.

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Of the 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux I thought a La Grange de Clinet decent but the Tuscan 2006 Tenuta di Arceno, Prima Voce, Toscana IGT from magnum, the best Bordeaux blend.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah which was aged for 12 months in French oak.  There were maturing Merlot and Cabernet notes on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were structured but with good balance.  It took on black fruit, black minerally depth, and will certainly age.  Tasted blind I might not pick it out at Tuscan but it was certainly a good drink and reasonably priced.

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The Rhone wines were decent but I thought the Languedoc-Roussillon selection better.  For old-vine Carignan the 2007 Domaine de la Bouysse, Mazerac, Corbieres Boutenanc, made from 105 year old Carignan along with Grenache and Mourvedre, is pretty and approachable but will benefit from age.  I thought the 2011 Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, was lighter and simpler with its bright red fruit.  I am usually a fan of this wine.  The 2010 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres the best of the three.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan from 15-60 year old vines on soils of schiste.  It had rich flavors, depth, and was not overbearing.

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The 2007 Domaine Maorou, Red Wine, VdP Hauterive is a blend of 36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, and 30% Grenache.  It showed more maturity than the previous three wines along with good fruit, dried herbs, and some ruggedness.  I did not get to revisit it.

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David McIntyre brought a selection of wines so of course I had to tuck into those as well.  The 2007 Potel-Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie did not show much.  The tight nose was followed by tight red black fruit in the mouth, just a touch of weight, and fine, dusty tannins.  Perhaps it needed some air.

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More interesting was the 2006 Domaine Billard Pere et Fils, La Combe Basin, Saint-Romain Blanc.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the lieu dit La Combe Bazin. The wine is barrel fermented in 25% new French oak and aged sur lie for 12 months.  It had a light nose of mature aromas and gravelly yellow fruit.  It was tight in the mouth with gravelly, controlled flavors, fresh acidity in the finish, some tannins, and an orange peel note.  Nice.

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Back to the reds was the 2006 Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent from Louis Jadot.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from granite soils and aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  What a lovely example of maturing Gamay.  It is still confident and has concentration for many more years of development.  A good surprise.

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Finally, a lovely treat was the 1988 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes that Shane found in his cabinet.  Maturing in a sense but not too complex yet with focus and acidity to last for a number of years to come.  Has drier flavors.

The 2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Tasting

January 18, 2013 4 comments

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The 2010 Red Wines

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Bit of Age

As I wrote in a previous post the wines of the Rhone invigorated my curiousity back in 2007.  I went on a bit of a Gigondas and Vacqueyras kick back then.  I still have a fair number of bottles laying about so it is an easy choice to open one up.  Jenn always appreciates a bottle of mature wine so I opened the Brusset, Domaine Le Grand Montirail.  I double-decanted the wine which eventually showed this bottle drinking at peak maturity.  Maturity brings a sense of confidence and intrigue.  It makes you want to revisit the wine to see what else is to be revealed.  The Rayne Vigneau was a bit of a bruiser at first, so much so that Jenn opted for a glass of 10-year-old Tawny Port instead.  I very rarely decant a wine I am tasting for the first time for I like to follow its progression.  This bottle clearly required time to breathe so that it could gather itself for consumption.  I suspect it will not come to show great finesse but it is right on the cusp of revealing what it will become.  I would cellar this several more years or give it an extended decant, it might become a Very Good wine.  These wines were purchased from MacArthur Beverages over the years.

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1998 Domaine Brusset, Domaine Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas –
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault sourced from 25-year-old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in foudres. Alcohol 13%.  I would like to think the color is a light pigeon blood with brick rim.  The light to medium nose is of ripe, red lifted fruit with a dusty character.  In the mouth there is similar red fruit with integrated acidity and plenty of dusty herbs.  There is good and moderate depth to the flavors. It still bears some ripeness.  This drank best during the first four hours of being open.  *** Now-2017.

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2001 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes – $33 (375mL)
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 74% Semillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle which was harvested in 4-8 tries.  It is aged for 12-18 months in 50% new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a medium strength nose of apricots at first then apples with air.  In the mouth there were apple cider flavors, a woodsy note, all delivered with richness and power on the first night.  Actually, almost overwhelming richness.  But on the second night the wine became more balanced.  There is plenty of residual sugar but the acidity keeps it fresh.  It developed brighter flavors, some caramel, a little spiced note, and a racy aspect.  ***(*) Now-2027.

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Drinking Wine at Tuxedo Park

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

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We continued our New York adventure by caravaning up to William’s home in Tuxedo Park. I was very excited. Not only would we get to see William’s recently renovated home but we would attend the Traditional Christmas Dinner at The Tuxedo Club. It was a particularly foggy day, so thick that we could only see a few dozen feet into the trees lining the highway. This lent an air of mystery all of the way to Tuxedo. The turn from Tuxedo into Tuxedo Park is initially unassuming until the gentle curve uphill is complete. There you are faced with the megalithic architecture of Tuxedo Park’s Gate Lodge and Keep. The gatekeeper grants admission only to owners and their guests. It is a fantastical entrance to a place the likes of which I have never seen before.

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You might not have heard of Tuxedo Park but if you know what a tuxedo is then you have some awareness of the park’s interesting history. You may read about the origins of the tuxedo in The Wall Street Journal here. Tuxedo Park’s history is a long and quiet. It is located about one hour north of New York City in Orange County. Some 13,000 acres of land was originally acquired in 1814 by Pierre Lorillard II. The land remained unused until the completion of the Erie Railroad in the mid 1880s. In 1885 Pierre Lorillard IV succeeded in obtaining control of 7,000 acres. He originally envisioned Tuxedo Park as an exclusive hunting and fishing preserve for his friends. He planned to stock the land with game, surrounded by a game fence to keep them in, and stock the lakes and pond with fish. His plan quickly expanded to include cottages, stores, schoolhouses, churches, a library, and a hospital. To help develop the property he brought in architect Bruce Price and landscape engineer Ernest Bowditch. In 1886 the Tuxedo Park Association was incorporated to oversee the park and screen applicants. Only the wealthiest families with the highest social standing were allowed access. The first phase of construction lasted from 1886 to the mid 1890s. It included thirteen cottages designed in the Shingle Style. These were meant to be temporary residences thus were small and neither insulated nor heated. A second phase of construction begin at the turn of the century and lasted through several decades into the 1930s. These houses were much larger and designed for year round occupation with heating, plumbing, and electricity. A wide range of architects designed these houses which richly featured such revival styles as Tudor, Jacobean, and Dutch Colonial. As with the lexicon of Bruce Price’s architecture, the new architects were encouraged to subordinate their designs to the natural surrounding of the land.

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Tuxedo Park garnered renewed interest in the 1970s. For several years houses were demolished, lots split, and new houses built which were incongruous to the park. In 1978 Tuxedo Park was nominated as a historic development which was notable for its social and architectural experimentation. The application notes that of the 286 structures surveyed 42% were constructed in the nineteenth century and another 35% prior to World War II. At the time the buildings were still in “unusually good” condition and “beautifully maintained.” In 1979 Tuxedo Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is now a Board of Architectural Review which reviews all aspects of renovation and construction.

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We drove past the Lodge and Keep following several windy roads. These megalithic buildings were completed in 1886 to house the gatekeeper in the Lodge and trespassers in the Keep. Today Tuxedo Park is classified a village thus it maintains its own roads and police force. The gate is now home to the Tuxedo Park Police. Tuxedo Park is set between Cairn Mountain and Eagle Mountain. The land is heavily forested, rather hilly, and full of boulders. Nestled throughout are homes of every description and size. At one point we drove alongside Tuxedo Lake and could easily see beautiful houses dotting the hills and rocky outcroppings of the far shore. During a drive that weekend through the various roads meandering from and surrounding Lake Tuxedo I was primarily struck by the beauty of the rugged hills, the consistency of the forest all the way to the lake shore, and the frequent outcroppings of rock and boulder. Only after taking in the terrain did I notice that the roads simply follow the contours of the land and that the houses, regardless of their size, are placed within the landscape. Many older houses, and at least one notable new house, feature rustic stone walls and terraces on the lower levels binding them to the land as if they were simply the organized rearrangement of materials available at foot. We eventually turned past the Tuxedo Park Club and up a hill to park alongside the Cottswald Cottages.

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We unloaded our car as William promptly made a warming fire in the living room. Once settled in the first order of business was to make a plate of cheese, crackers, and caramel puffs then open some wine.

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Spending the weekend in a historic home certainly deserved a historic wine so we opened 1974 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from many different vineyards facing south, south-west, and south-east. The 1974 vintage resulted in a large yield with the wines initially highly regarded but then somewhat less so in retrospect. The Wassermans found several of the Produttori del Barbaresco crus to be drinking at or near prime in the mid to later 1980’s. Indeed the initial glass was marked by woodnotes and a thinness of flavor but the wine itself was in great shape. We set the bottle aside to revisit later in the evening. It eventually fleshed out to show a hint of ripeness and a pure bacon flavor. Even the next morning the remains of the uncorked bottle tasted exactly the same. I suspect this wine will continue to live for some time but now it is more a hint of its past.

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We managed a quick tour of the house, stable, and grounds. Charles H. Coster was a senior partner at J.P. Morgan and Company who owned a large English manor house in a Middle Ages style designed by William A. Bates in 1894. He subsequently built the Cottswald Cottages and Stables in the late 1890s on a road where stables and carriage houses were built for the larger houses of Tuxedo Park. The property, since divided in two, consists of two cottages flanking the bottom of a T-shaped stable and carriage house. The three buildings consist of rough-hewn blue stone, sandstone casements, leaded windows, and slate roofs. The cottages were originally occupied by the servants and stable help. At some point prior to the 1970s the cottages were converted into private residences. While both of the cottages have been recently renovated the stable and carriage house remains in what looks like its original 19th century condition.

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One enters the stable through a gateway in the front wall. Though the gate itself is removed the bolts are still evident. The drive itself consists of a yellow herringbone brickway that extends all the way into the back of the stable. The stable and carriage house is entered through a large sandstone archway flanked by large iron lanterns. The original sliding wood doors still exist inside the building but are resting on the ground off of their rollers. It looks like the carriages were stored in the front portion of the building with the horses stabled in the back.

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The majority of the interior consists of rough stone walls but the middle section consists of old plaster and lathe rooms with a stairwell to the hay loft (and amazingly more rooms). The back stable section was enclosed by two massive sliding doors with the top glass section protected by stout horizontal metal bars. The back wall of the building is covered with white subway tiles whereas the rest of the walls are plaster and lathe. Back here the floor switches to simple brick flooring with ring-bolts set into the tile and X-shaped drains in the floor demarcating the original stalls. Throughout the building virtually every single pane of the leaded windows survives intact. In fact the only hints of the 20th century are the occasional runs of armored electrical cables.

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With the Produttori del Barbaresco set aside I opened the Frank Cornelissen, Rosso del Contadino 9, Etna. A quick sniff of glass revealed we were in for a treat. Frank Cornilissen is a Belgian who makes wine on Mount Etna. He attempts to observe nature by avoiding all vineyard treatments be they chemical, organic, or biodynamic. He produces wine from some 8.5 hectares of vineyards which he harvested late in October to mid November. The Rosso del Contadino is a blend of local red and white grapes from various vineyards. The fruit is crushed by foot and machine, fermented in polycarbonate containers then aged in terracotta amphoras for roughly 10 months. It is bottled without any sulphur after the lees have been purposefully stirred up. This was a great wine with a confident, complex nose of red fruits, Christmas baking spices, and layers of other aromas. For some time the three of us sat there, noses buried in the glasses, trying to capture what we smelled. Eventually we moved on to pour glass after glass of the wine. In the mouth the delight continued with fresh, juicy, and sappy red fruit, persistent and engaging. The timing was impeccable, upon finishing the bottle it was time to dress for dinner.

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We piled in to the car all dressed for dinner then drove down the hill to The Tuxedo Club. The Tuxedo Club opened May 30, 1886 some eight months after Pierre Lorillard IV and Bruce Price picked the location. The club buildings have existed in various forms since then. Today there are facilities for golf, swimming, boating, and racquet sports. The racquet facilities are unique specializing in Court Tennis, Rackets, Lawn Tennis, Paddle Tennis, and Squash. Covered in heavy fog the holiday lights and giant wreaths of the club leant a romantic air. We joined the group in the back room where they were already cocktailing. A quick drink and a few nibbles later the dinner bell was rung and we were seated in the dinning room. Holiday music from a piano greeted us as we promptly sat down.

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The club hosts Formal Dinner Service on Friday and Saturday evenings. The dinner we attended was a fixed three course meal of Roulade of Dover Sole with Scallop Mousseline, Beef Wellington with Sweet Corn Puree, and a dessert of Port and Spice Poached Pear. Wine was not included so I took the opportunity to look through the wine list. The diverse wine list was spread over several pages and included such choices as 1998 Chateau Margaux, a 2008 Hecht & Bannier cuvee, and three vintages Vieux Donjon.

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Tempted as I was by the Vieux Donjon I opted for the 2009 Antica Terra, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. The bottle was served at the proper temperature which helped show it off. The nose was scented with black and red berries. In the mouth it showed finely textured fruit with just the right amount of acidity. It was thoroughly enjoyable and felt like the perfect choice. I imagine it will benefit from one to two more years in the cellar.

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After dinner we slowly drove home through the thickening fog and retired to the living room. The fire had died out but the house was cozy warm. We opted for one more glass of wine so I opened the 1988 Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Sauternes. This wine is mostly Semillon with some Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle sourced from 30 year old vines. The fruit was fermented and aged for 18 months in 60% new French oak barrels. The nose and flavors were primarily of complex apple supported by acidity but the body itself was rich and weighty. It left the impression of mature flavors with a youthful delivery. I went to bed that night happy to have spent so much time with William and relaxed by the intimate nature of Tuxedo Park. Visiting Manhattan followed by Tuxedo Park was a memorable experience I shall never forget.

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We Try an Older Sauternes: 1983 Chateau Filhot

September 5, 2012 1 comment

Chateau Filhot, Image from tourismegironde (flickr)

Chateau Filhot is an old and large estate.  When Henri de Vaucelles took control of the estate in 1974 he began the process of replanting the vineyards and renovating the winery.  It is during this transition that this half-bottle from 1983 was produced.  At the time the wines were both fermented and aged in fiberglass vats.  It was not until 1995 that the fiberglass fermentation vats were removed and replaced with stainless steel.  The fruit was then fermented in stainless steel followed by aging in wood.  This was an interesting Sauternes to taste.  The texture of the wine is young but the flavors are very mature, having become primarily that of spiced apple cider.  Drunk alone it was not compelling enough to finish the half-bottle in one night.  I would rather have this with a little bit of food, perhaps a tart, to best complement the wine.  I find the flavors on the down-slope of maturity but I imagine properly cellared bottles will last for many years to come.  I also suspect that many of my Sauternes age estimates are off by one or two decades!  Please read Chris Kissack’s producer profile for further background information and tasting notes on recent vintages.  This half-bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages where it was cellared since release.

1983 Chateau Filhot, Sauternes – (375mL)
Imported by Majestic Wine & Spirit Inc.  This wine is a blend sourced from vineyards planted with 60% Semillon, 37% Sauvignon, and 3% Muscadelle.  The 60 hectare vineyard averaged 20 years of age at the time.  This wine was fermented and aged entirely in fiberglass vats.  The color is a light+ amber brown.  The initial nose is light eventually revealing spiced apple cider.  One first notices the good but moderate mouthfeel which remained throughout as flavors of peach and apricot mix with apple-cider acidity.  There is not much botrytis, instead there are initial dried floral flavors which are a little racy.  The spices expand as tart apple flavors come out in the fresh middle.  There are sweet spices in the aftertaste.  On the second night the spiced apple cider flavor dominates a subtle apricot note. ** Now.

We Taste a Small Selection of 2005 Sauternes

September 1, 2012 Leave a comment

You may have thought we grew tired after our recent exploration of Sauternes but in truth we have been quietly tasting even more!  This time I concentrated on six different wines from the 2005 vintage.  I focused in on 2005 because the vintage is excellent, there is good availability, and the prices are still reasonable.  The selections featured in this post are priced on the more affordable side of the line ranging from $15 to $32 per half bottle.  According to Decanter Magazine this is a five-star vintage and summed up as, “Everything came together beautifully in 2005, and in terms of power and elegance, the vintage may well become one of Sauternes’ most classic.”

My favorite wines were the Chateau La Tour Blanche and Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey followed very closely by the Chateau Doisy Daene.  The Chateau La Tour Blanche is a beautiful wine to drink and perhaps a bit more arresting than the Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey.  Both of these offer fresh flavors enlivened by their acidity which lasted through the long finish.  The Chateau Doisy Daene is complete but could use a few more years to open up. These three are followed by the Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey and Chateau Raymond-Lafon.  The Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey is also a good wine but does not offer the same depth of flavors.  The Chateau Raymond-Lafon was the richest of the six but I found for my preferences there was not enough acidity.

My recommendation is to grab any or all of my top three selections.  Not only are they a great drink right now but should remain so for at least two decades.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.  Many thanks to Florence Dubourdieu (Chateau Doisy Daene), Jean-Pierre Meslier (Chateau Raymond-Lafon), and Eric Larramona (Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey) for providing technical details.

2005 Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes – (375mL) $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 80% Semillon, 17% Sauvignon, and 3% Muscadelle sourced from 37-year-old vines on soils of siliceous-gravel and clay-gravel.  The fruit is fermented and aged for 13-18 months in the same 15% new oak barrels.  TA 4.6 g/l, Alcohol 14%.  The nose reveals apple pie and apple crumble.  It is not super-sweet in the mouth rather it shows a tart balance which makes it more refreshing.  It is a little racy with moderate ripeness.  The flavors of apple cider mixed with apricot are enlivened by salivating and watery acidity.  There is moderate sweetness.  The overall impression is bright, fresh, and sharp without the depth.  This will not make old-bones.  ** Now-2022.

2005 Chateau Clos Haut-Peyraguey – (375mL) $26
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 92% Semillon and 8% Sauvignon sourced from vines on gravel-sandy soil over clay subsoil.  The fruit was fermented in 50-80% new oak barrels using indigenous yeasts.  Fermentation is arrested in large vats solely by temperature followed by aging of 22 months in 68% new oak.  RS 125 g/l, TA 3.55 g/l, Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light golden-straw.  The light to medium nose reveals fresh and ripe pineapple, dried fruit, and baking spices.  In the mouth the honeyed texture is alive with acidity.  The wine becomes a little spicy as ample dried spices come out along with a little cola note.  With air the flavors put on spicy, dark notes, and ripe apple fruit but remains fresh.  This is in a younger state than the Doisy-Daene.  *** Now-2032.

2005 Chateau Doisy Daene, Barsac – (375mL) $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 95% Semillon and 5% Sauvignon sourced from 40+ year old vines on soils of Barsac red sands on top of chalky subsoil.  The fruit is fermented in 33% new oak barrels followed by 10 months of aging in oak barrel.  There is a subsequent nine months of aging in stainless steel tank.  RS 126 g/l, TA 3.56 g/l, Alcohol 14%.  This is a lovely concentrated and confident wine.  There are flavors of apple orchard and baking spices that last through the long aftertaste.  This wine is refined and balanced with lots of cinnamon, baking and sweet spices.  Again, a very long aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2027?

2005 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes – (375mL) $26
Imported by Vignobles LVDH.  This wine is a blend of 90% Semillon, 8% Sauvigon, and 2% Muscadelle sourced from 35-year-old vines on soils of sandy-gravel and clay-gravel.  The fruit is fermented in 30% new French oak barrels using indigenous yeasts. Fermentation stops naturally for some lots and is arrested through a combination of cold and minimum sulphur for others. It is then aged for 18-20 months in barrel.  RS 125 g/l, TA 3.49 g/l, Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is light yellow and the nose is light as well.  In the mouth there are fresh, creme-caramel flavors and spice.  The wine is rich but has fresh, lively acidity, and a racy aspect.  There are some dried apricot and peach flavors.  The very long aftertaste contains good spices.  ***(*) Now-2032.

2005 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Satuernes – (375mL) $30
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of mostly Semillon and Sauvignon sourced from 35-year-old vines on soils of clay and gravel.    The fruit was harvested over three tries and fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts.  Fermentation is arrested through a combination of cold and sulphur.  It is aged for up to three years in oak.  TA 3.5 g/l, 3.9 pH, RS 132 g/l, Alcohol 13.9%.  The medium strength nose reveals lemons along with fresh yellow and white fruit.  In the mouth there are flavors of fresh apple cinnamon and peach, sweet with botrytis.  There is a lot of mouthfilling weight, sugar, rich creme caramel, and some acidity in the finish.  It manages to stay a bit light and fresh but certainly puts on weight as the flavors turn towards peach with a weighty and spicy aftertaste of pineapple and marshmallow.  This is a very rich wine with obvious residual sugar.  *** Now-2029.

2005 Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes – (375mL)$32
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon, and Muscadelle sourced from 24-year-old vines on soils of gravel over clay and sand and loess.  The fruit is fermented in 100% new oak using cultured yeasts until it is arrested with sulphur dioxide and refrigeration.  It is then aged up to 18 months in barrel.  RS 150 g/l, TA 3.1 g/l, Alcohol 14%.  The color is a light+ golden amber, evocative of fall leaves on the forest floor.  The nose is not as lush as the mouth but the flavors do follow.  This is very fresh, acidity driven with good weight to the white and yellow fruit.  There are notes of baking spice and florals.  The long aftertaste contains ripe white peaches and a hint of apple cider.  Quite nice, right now I prefer it over the 2007.  **** Now-2029.

The Solid 2005 Chateau Liot

Chateau Liot is a property located in Barsac near Chateau Climons. It has been in the David family for five generations and is currently run by Jean-Gerard David. The estate produces wine from 20 hectares of vineyards planted with 85% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon, and 5% Muscadelle. The vines are located on gravel, silt, alluvial soils on top of limestone bedrock. The fruit is fermented in vat then matured for 15-18 months in 15% new oak barrels. This was a solid enough Sauternes, pleasing but not exciting. At $19 per half-bottle I would recommend spending an extra $4 to update to the 2007 Chateau Sigalas Rabaud. This wine was purchased at Wide World of Wines.

2005 Chateau Liot, Sauternes – (375 mL) $19
Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 14%. The flavors start off with peach and yellow fruit followed by a touch of black tea. It opens up to reveal fresh apple notes with an autumnal mix of cinnamon. There is a light to moderate sweetness. The aftertaste brings dried fruit. ** Now-2019.