This is still a work in progress as I upload tasting notes and wine labels from as far as 1999... Check back once in a while to get the updates.

October 31, 2011

Faiveley Mercurey and Colombo Condrieu

Lunch at Chez Flottes in Paris.

2006 Faiveley Mercurey Clos des Myglands - some fruit with a little mineral.  Chewy tannins.

Dinner at Le Violon d'Ingres in Paris.

Vranken Cuvée Diamant - honestly, nothing really special...

2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Condrieu Amour de Dieu - floral, fragrant and ripe.  Exactly what I wanted out of a Condrieu.

Full post on lunch and dinner is here.

October 30, 2011

Wine pairing in Paris

Lunch at Le Grande Café Capucines in Paris.

2006 Louis Latour Chassagne-Montrachet - nose was a little muted, with some minerals.

Dinner at Pur' in Paris.

Jacques Lassaigne Le Cotet - an extra brut blanc de blancs.  This was pretty yeasty and metallic.

2008 de Vénus L'Effrontée - a little mineral, almost no nose.  Definitely no palate except the alcohol...

2008 Georges Jayer Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits - strawberry, jammy, mineral.  Very surprisingly did not clash with the salmon at all... perhaps thanks to the sesame.  Made by Laurent Rouget.

2008 Catena Zapata Malbec - sweet, ripe, mint and forest.  Still very tannic, but thankfully the heavy sauce of the pigeon was able to stand up to it.

2007 Kracher Cuvée Beerenauslese - Alois Kracher died in 2007, so this would have been the first Kracher vintage without him.  Nose of honey, white flowers and orange blossom.  Delicious.  We were supposed to get a glass of Pedro Ximenez with dessert, but the waiter very kindly substituted this one...

Full post on dinner is here.

October 29, 2011

Mixed lot at Rochat

Lunch at Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier.

2009 Comtesse Eldegarde Sauvignon Gris - mineral, a little green apple, muscat.  Acidity a little high.  Guess it's kinda similar to Sauvignon Blanc...

2008 Marc Morey Puligny-Montrachet - toasty, sweet, buttery.  Lots of acidity here.

2008 Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes - very ripe and sweet, mint, forest. alcoholic.  Nice body with soft and chewy tannins.

2010 La Colombe La Grive - very sharp nose, with mineral, flint, forest and sous bois.  Ripe and sweet both on the nose and the palate.

Full post on lunch is here.

Dinner at Mr. and Mrs. B's.

1999 Léoville-Las Cases - this was smoky, a little chalky, dirty, wet cardboard on top of some sweet fruit.  I can't help but think the bottle was a little corked.

October 28, 2011

1998 Rayas

Dinner at La Mere Brazier in Lyon.

1998 Rayas - a little muted at first with some red fruits.  Long finish.  Mint, forest and ripeness really came out after 45 minutes, and body developed further.  After an hour the nose was sweet and like strawberry jam.  Good tannins here, and this wine will last for a long time.  Black plum notes. Two hours later the wine was big, ripe and sweet.  Clearly not hitting its peak yet.

Full post on dinner is here.

October 27, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 5: drinking Châteauneuf

Lunch at Restaurant L'Oustalet in Gigondas.

2009 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Côte - very ripe, sweet, honey, marmalade and straw.  Good acidity but I thought it was too ripe on the palate.

2009 Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes - beeswax notes.  Good balance between acidity and ripeness.  Sipping this wine after eating the deep-fried ravioles turned it into something that was really hot and ripe on the palate.

2009 Clos Saouma Châteauneuf-du-Pape - nose was a little sharp, minty, and very sweet.

2000 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins - black olives, black fruits, smoky, very salty and mineral.

1989 Beaucastel Rouge - rubber, leather, farmy and sharp.  Drank beautifully with some Reblochon, which turned the wine into a sweet, jammy nectar.

Dinner at Numéro 75 in Avignon.

2000 Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin - nose was pretty open, showy, with animal, leather, spices, mint and prunes. Later on there was lots of toast. So big and fragrant. Wow!

1995 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins - lovely nose with ripe fruit and mint.  Good acidity balance.

1998 Roger Sabon Le Secret des Sabon - nose was a little muted at first.  Very ripe and sweet on the palate.  Very alcoholic and burns the back of my throat going down.  Tannins still very big.  Obviously a Parker wine, which explains the very high scores given for this first vintage.  Three and a half hours later, nose was much more open, with ripe and a little cooked fruit, a little mineral and savory.  Really sharp and alcoholic now.

Drinks at La Mirande in Avignon.

1959 Palmer - lots of sweet grass, a little smoky, a little mineral, plenty of toast.  Sweet fruit.  Lovely.

Full post on lunch and dinner is here.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 5: Henri Bonneau

For some of us who are lovers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, there is one name that stands out above all others: Henri Bonneau.  Wines from this legendary winemaker are highly sought after by wine lovers and collectors, and the boys of MNSC are certainly big fans.  We featured all 3 of his cuvées at our horizontal tasting of 1990 Châteauneuf-du-Pape last year.

He is also well-known to be somewhat reclusive, and appointments with the great man is hard to come by.  Therefore we were all the more fortunate and privileged to have been able to call on him today.  We are told that it is rare to find him descending into the cellars for tastings - as he suffers from arthritis and going up and down stairs is understandably painful and difficult - but he accompanied us today while son Marcel made sure that our glasses were never empty.

The one thing I had heard about - perhaps from reading Parker's book on Rhône or one of his newsletters - is that the conditions of the cellars are, shall we say, not exactly hospital grade.  Many people have often wondered in amazement at the profoundness of the wines that have come from such a cellar.  Therefore I was not in the least bit surprised to find truth in what I had heard.

The cellar conditions are the exact opposite of what we had just seen at Beaucastel.  The floor was wet so there's a little sludge going around after mixing with the dirt.  The air is dank and circulation seems non-existent.  Mold is everywhere, as are the cobwebs between the barrels and on the walls.  Henri doesn't believe in new oak, and his barrels certainly show it.  We are told that he takes second-hand barrels from friends that have been used for 4-5 years, which he will then use to age his vin de table...  After being used for the vin de table for a few more years, the same barrel is then used to age Cuvée Marie Beurrier.  Not sure how many more years it will take for the same barrel to graduate to Cuvée Célestins...

I don't know how old the fermentation tanks are, but it is possible that they were made just after WWII.  Having seen how each and single stainless steel, oak or cement tank at every single winery is religiously scrubbed clean, the five tanks in the room look like they've been neglected for the last few decades.

2010 Henri Bonneau Cuvée Marie Beurrier - sweet, jammy, a little stinky.  Good and chewy tannins, with acidity showing mid-palate.

2010 Henri Bonneau (Réserve des Célestins) -  the Grenache fruit from La Crau will go into Célestins.  Sweet and jammy, it's a lovely wine.  Tannins were bigger on the finish.

2009 Henri Bonneau "G" - my understanding is that "g" stands for "grand", and is the code for Marie Beurrier...  This was so rich and full of strawberry jam.  Amazing.  Light on the body but with long length.

2009 Henri Bonneau "P" - similarly, "p" stands for "petit" and represents Célestins.  Rich and sweet, this is a big wine with structure.

2008 Henri Bonneau "G" - bigger nose, smoky, animal and leather notes.

2008 Henri Bonneau "P" - loads of leather, game meat, smoke, stewed fruit.  Big tannins here.

2007 Henri Bonneau "G" - good acidity here.  Lovely nose with stewed prunes and lots of black fruits.  Alcohol was very obvious.

2007 Henri Bonneau "P" - very jammy, sweet and lovely on the palate.  Alcoholic with a long finish.

Henri Bonneau Les Rouliers - this vin de table is a blend of the 2005 and 2007 vintages.  Smoky, sweet fruit and animal notes.  Clearly a big step down from the other wines, but amazing quality for a VdT...

2006 Henri Bonneau Réserve des Célestins - forest, dried herbs, a little smoke.  Tannins are there but not overpowering.  Good acidity balance.

2005 Henri Bonneau "G" - savory, mineral, black olive, ripe and stewed fruit.  Tannic on the finish.

2005 Henri Bonneau "P" - more black olive and mineral, which were masking fruity notes like prunes.

Almost all the wines we tasted today were still in barrels or tanks.  Henri does not have a set timetable for bottling and releasing his wines.  The famous saying - which he repeated when asked today - is that he'll bottle and sell some wine when he feels he needs money.  This will free up some barrels, which will enable him to move some wine from the tanks into barrel.

We are told that these days Henri rarely drinks wine as he suffers from diabetes, but he tasted the 2007s today and was happy with them.

This was truly a very special visit, being able to meet the great winemaker and (indirectly) converse with him.  Yes, we all have the potential to be groupies, and I don't have any problem admitting that I'm a big Henri Bonneau fan.

We knew our time was up when the smell of lunch came from the kitchen, and we bid our farewells to Madame, Henri and Marcel.  I caught a glimpse of one of their beautiful tabby cats curled up on a table by the door, and hope to have the opportunity to see it again someday.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 5: Beaucastel

Visit to Château de Beaucastel in Courthézon.  Pierre Perrin is a friend of the gang, and we got a very warm welcome.

We were given a tour of the vast winery and cellar, including the new addition.  The cellars look like something one would see in Champagne... just vast, snaking corridors lined with endless bottles on either side.  The fermentation area is temperature controlled, with huge air-conditioning units to ensure proper air flow even between the fermentation tanks.  The entire place just looks brand spanking new, and squeaky clean.

We tasted through 3 separate cépages with the cellar master as they were checking the progress of the 2011s.  I believe each came from a separate parcel of land.

2011 Syrah - still a little pungent, minty with some fruit.  The wine isn't finished since malolactic hasn't taken place.  Tannins are soft and chewy.

2011 Grenache - soooo sweet like blueberry jam and Medjool dates.  Long length.

2011 Mourvèdre - more like forest pine, minty.  Soft tannins with good structure.

2010 Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes - very ripe with beeswax, honey, sweet but not over ripe.  Lively.  A little on the lean side.

1992 Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes - what a treat to drink something like this!  Huge nose with honey, glycerin, marmalade, mineral, apricot.  An awesome wine.  Dry on the palate, and would be perfect with some foie gras...

2001 Beaucastel Hommage á Jacques Perrin - a little stinky, which is so typical of this wine.  Farmy, ripe and rich, mint, forest.  Nose was just so amazingly lovely and elegant.  Perfect acidity balance at 10 years old.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 5: Clos Saouma

Visit to newly-established Clos Saouma, and I was surprised to find that Rotem had come down from Beaune along with husband Mounir Saouma. They are the proprietors behind Burgundy's Lucien Le Moine.  I also didn’t realize that they had bought land in this part of France, and had been making wine for the last couple of years.

Mounir’s philosophy here is to do as little as possible. He uses cold maceration for the grapes, and the wines are aged with ALL the lees in the barrel, with no racking whatsoever until the wines are actually bottled.

2011 Clos Saouma Omnia Rouge – planted on sandy soil. Minty and a little chalky.

2011 Clos Saouma (unnamed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from Pignan) – bigger nose with more tannins. Sweet fruit and mineral.

2010 Clos Saouma Omnia Rouge - much bigger wine, with leather, toast, oak, exotic spices.  Nice acidity  balance and tannins.

2010 Clos Saouma (unnamed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from Pignan) - toasty, lively and cold (not overripe) fruit.  Pretty high acidity and less tannins here.

2009 Clos Saouma (unnamed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, from Pignan) - once again, cold (not hot and ripe) fruit, sweet.  Acidity is there and the tannins are good.

2010 Clos Saouma (Omnia) Blanc - made with 70% Grenache Blanc.  Huge and heavy nose of toast, corn, like Chardonnay from Burgundy.  Sweet on the attack with a slightly acidic finish and very long length.

2011 Clos Saouma (Omnia) Blanc - flinty, sweeter nose, toasty and mineral.  Still going through alcoholic fermentation.

October 26, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 4: 1929 La Chapelle and more

Dinner at Restaurant La Beaugravière in Mondragon.

1990 Clos des Papes – ripe, a little stewed, smoky, savory minerals, black olive, and a little dusty on the nose. 93 points.

1990 Guigal La Mouline – sweet nose with coconut butter, animal, bacon fat, a little mineral and savory, a little smoky with grilled meats. What a beautiful wine! 98 points.

1929 Jaboulet La Chapelle – Wow! What a treat and privilege to be able to drink this! Savory, mineral, dusty, chalky at first. Gradually opened up to reveal a beautiful sweet and fruity nose. Amazing!

Full post on dinner is here.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 4: Beaucastel VV + du Caillou Quartz

Lunch at La Mirande in Avignon.

2008 Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes – really big and rich, with intense ripeness, glycerin, beeswax.  Really ripe and alcoholic on the palate.

2009 du Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Quartz – good sweet fruit, intense, with forest and pine notes.

Full post on lunch is here.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 4: de la Mordorée

Visit to Domaine de la Mordorée in Tavel, where we were received by Fabrice Delorme.

2010 la Mordorée Lirac Blanc La Reine des Bois – floral, fresh, tropical fruits like musk melon, pear and minerals.

(2011?) la Mordorée Lirac Blanc – really fruity, Anjou pear, flint, a little sharp but not from the alcohol.

2010 la Mordorée Tavel Rosé – ripe on the palate, a little alcoholic. Mineral notes. Pretty good.

2009 la Mordorée Lirac Rouge – forest, potpourri, some fruit, mint. Some chewy tannins.

2009 la Mordorée Lirac Rouge La Reine des Bois – a bigger wine, with some fruit and still a lot of tannins.

2009 la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge La Reine des Bois – lots of mint, forest, very sweet mid-palate but loads of tannins.

2010 la Mordorée Lirac Rouge La Reine des Bois, trial blend – leaner with forest notes.

2010 la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge La Reine des Bois – minty, forest. Nice. Sweet on the palate, with very big tannins.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 4: Roger Sabon

Visit to Domaine Roger Sabon in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where we were received by Didier Négron, the winemaker who is also Jean-Jacques Sabon's son-in-law.

2009 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Renaissance – fresh, floral, a little ripe, mineral, a little sweet, kinda alcoholic. Medium length on the palate.

2010 Roger Sabon Le Sabounet - animal, herbs and spices. Flat on palate.

2010 Rhône by Roger Sabon – more intense, spicy, animal, a little rubber, pungent.

2010 Roger Sabon Lirac Chapelle de Maillac – fruity, smoked meat, mint. Light on the palate.

2010 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Olivets – sulfur, rubber, dried herbs. Fairly smooth with a long finish.

2010 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réserve – no Cinsault in this blend. Sweeter, riper fruit, mint and forest. Bigger tannins.

2010 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige, from foudre – bigger, more structure with tannins. Minty.

2010 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige, from oak tank – fresher fruit, riper and sweeter.

2010 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape, potentially Le Secret des Sabon – From vines that are 80-90 years old. Bigger nose, more sulfur, minty, sweeter fruit with forest notes.

2001 Roger Sabon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige – ripe and a little stewed fruit, some leather, alcoholic. Big body with plenty of tannins still. Opened up nicely in glass after a few minutes.

October 25, 2011

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 3: RC, Montrachet, Cathelin

Dinner at Pic in Valence.

2000 Leflaive Montrachet – big, explosive nose, toasty, minerals, lemon, ripe and sweet on nose without being over ripe. A long finish, with acidity slightly on the high side.

1996 DRC Romanée-Conti – my first experience in drinking an RC, even though I first bought some over 10 years ago.  Floral, elegant, feminine, a bit smoky and a little sharp on the nose. Then it turned a bit animal, meaty, a little soy sauce and savory, which was more masculine…

1990 Chave Hermitage Cuvée Cathelin – very lovely and beautiful, very ripe fruit, leather, grilled meats, still a little alcoholic, slightly cooked prunes. An amazing wine!

Full post on dinner is here.

MNSC Rhone Trip Day 3: Ogier

Visited Ogier and we were received by Stephane Ogier. Very obviously different from the other two proprietors we visited earlier in the day… just by feeling the very rough texture of his palms.

2010 Ogier Le Temps Est Venu – fresh, fruity, herbs, straight forward.

2010 Ogier La Rosine – more open, opulent, with bacon fat, leather, floral, exotic spices like nutmeg. Planted on granite and de-stemmed.

2010 Ogier L’Âme Sœur – a bit more pungent, smoky.

2010 Ogier Côte-Rôtie, pre-blend – floral and beautiful, with mint and spices.

2010 Ogier Côte-Rôtie, from Champin - mineral, flint, peppery. Nice acidity with good tannin structure.

2010 Ogier Côte-Rôtie, from Rozier - this is fruit that goes into La Belle Hélène, with 50% stems. Floral, minty, potpourri, and more open than Champans.

2009 Ogier La Rosine – grilled meat, dried herbs, sweet fruit and good acidity.

2009 Ogier Saint-Joseph – minty with potpourri. Nice acidity and tannin balance.

2009 Ogier L’Âme Sœur – there was purity of fruit, with mint and minerals.

2009 Ogier Côte-Rôtie – fragrant, a little floral, minty and fruity. Very elegant.

2009 Ogier Côte-Rôtie Lancement – minty, perfumed and flamboyant, with a bit of herbs and potpourri.

2007 Ogier L’Âme Sœur – nice and open, with leather and animal notes. Good acidity.

2007 Ogier Côte-Rôtie – floral and lovely, smoky with grilled meats.

2007 Ogier Côte-Rôtie Lancement – nice and rich with dried herb notes. Sweet on the palate.

2007 Ogier Côte-Rôtie La Belle Hélène – perfumed and elegant with mint and herbs. Lovely. There is enough tannins here for structure.

2009 Ogier Côte-Rôtie La Belle Hélène – opulent and more jammy. Good acidity.

2010 Ogier Viognier de Rosine – floral, mineral with ripe fruits.

2010 Ogier Condrieu La Combe de Malleval – more floral and mineral.

2010 Ogier Condrieu Les Vieilles Vignes de Jacques Vernay - mineral, very floral and fragrant.

2011 Ogier “Bâtard-Montrachet” – we saw a very small barrel tucked between bigger siblings, with the words “BATARD MONTRACHET” scribbled on the front. Being a curious bunch, we asked Stephane what it was… Apparently it’s made from Chardonnay planted near La Rosine. It was still bubbling in our mouths, and the nose was very toasty.

2010 Ogier experimental sweet wine – made from 100% Roussanne, this experiment started in 2004 but the wine was never commercially released. Lots of noble rot, acetone, honey, ripe and oxidized, with straw and beeswax. Very rich.

Very nice to taste through all these wines, as I previously didn't have any exposure to Ogier.
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