Tuesday, November 30, 2010

George Descombes

These are the fruits of my recent trip to Paris.

I'd been reading about Beaujolais and my previous experiences with the Lapierre Morgon gave a clear indication that they would prove a very enjoyable style of wine. So I decided to experiment.

George Descombes, Brouilly, 2008

The color is certainly no Pinot look-alike - it's semi transparent, for sure, but too purple in hue to be a Bourgogne - but other than that, the resemblance is striking. Bright, clear red fruit and a hint of minerals on the nose, that becomes more than a hint in time. Much more. A very savory, mid-weight frame, with a a good dose of acidity and a crunchy, saline finish. Picks up weight and aromatic presence as it goes along and actually seems to grow younger in the glass. Quite appealing, if not very complex, and fulfilled my expectations to a tee. (Nov. 18, 2010)

15 euros or so.

George Descombes, Brouilly, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

The nose is very red, and perfumed, almost intoxicatingly so, with strands of flowers and earth. The palate is fresh, crisp and lean, ending in my kind of saline finish. The first pours are very austere - although even then, I sense mildly spicy flavors aching to emerge - but after a couple of hours, like other wines of the school of light-middleweight Bourgogne, it gains weight and length and lives up to the promise of the nose. I mean, this saline finish that I liked even when this wine was dormant? It's even better when it finally peaks, really sexy and appetizing. And the flavors really start exploding as the structure gains focus and grip while loseing its austere trappings. Finally, the nose gains greater definition and pungent minerality a la Cote de Beaune. Wow, this wine deserves the time it needs to open up! (Nov. 25, 2010)

George Descombes, Morgon, Vieilles Vignes, 2007

Since Morgon should be the longest-living of the Beaujolais Crus, I decided to open this wine an hour earlier than I did the Brouilly V.V. and be patient. Good idea, as the contents of the glass I used to lower the shoulders proved flat and short. The aromatics kick in after three hours: red cherries with a touch of black ones as well, lifted by a spicy, pungent kick. Earthy and meaty in turns. The palate however, never soars the way the V.V. Brouilly did - it picks up length but never quite gains the same focus or sense of bravado. Thus, it's good, but a relative disappointment as the Brouilly had set a very high bar. (Nov. 27, 2010)

Both Vieilles Vignes cost 20 euros plus.

All, in all, a set of wines I enjoyed to various degrees. The Brouilly V.V. was really great but I enjoyed all three and they were great values. Here's hoping someone starts importing the stuff to Israel!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pommard Tasting - Burgundy Wine Collection (Nov. 21, 2010)

Honestly, sadly, I don't quite have the experience to pontificate on the virtues and characteristics of Pommard. I can say that I don't find the Pommards that Tomer Gal's Burgundy Wine Collection imports to be rustic, crude or over-masculine. I do find them to be very minerally, angular at times and not inexpensive. The quality was impressive on this night - but then, the producers tasted are arguably (or not) the cream of the crop.

All the bottles were opened on the morning of the tasting.

We started off with an aperitif.

Deux-Montilles, Pernard-Vergelesses Premier Cru, Sous Fretille, 2007

I do love Alix' whites, but this is too young for me to read (plus it was tasted during the 'cocktail' part of the event, to which I was late, as usual, and thus could not dwell on it for too long), but it shows Bourgogne classicism and elegance. Very nice and I need to re-visit. 200 NIS.

Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Pommard, 2007

I know why I don't like the Chateau's whites, since Etinner makes them, not Alix, and he just doesn't have a feel for whites, I guess. But it's odd that I never get excited by their reds, since I adore what he does at the family's domaine. It's almost as though the red grapes are embarrassed to be fermented and raised in Puligny... This villages does come close to catching my attention, but ultimately, I move on. It has sour cherries, herbs, iron, blood - good stuff. But, although the palate is long and tannic, the fruit is backwards enough right now to make the package seem imbalanced. It might improve in time but it doesn't captivate the way the wines that follow do, even in their youth. 190 NIS.

Dugat-Py, Pommard, Levriere, 2007

Expensive, old-vines villages - the concept that Madame Bize-Leroy perfected and which we'll meet in a couple of paragraphs. The nose is closed, yet dense, meaty and intoxicating despite its reserve, developing an intriguing overlay of flint and iron. The palate is sleek and long and I love the structure, which climaxes in a complex finish that is the personification of minerality. 570 NIS.

Dugat-Py, Pommard, Levriere, 2006

This wine was moved to a decanter two and a half hours prior to the tasting, which makes comparisons with the 2006 challenging. The nose is riper, almost liquorish, eventually showing minerals. The palate is riper as well, fatter too, the structure is more accessible, yet less interesting. Tomer thinks it's the better wine (yet charges less for it) - I find it more hedonistic, and if it has more tannins than the 2007, then they seem to interact in a looser, more chaotic manner with the fruit, which might be due to the decanting, I don't know. 530 NIS.

Domaine Leroy, Pommard, Vignots, 2005

It's Leroy, it's 2005, so naturally it's closed, albeit very deep. I could have phoned in the tasting note. Except that after eluding us all as it slowly and miserly released some red fruit, it suddenly oozed mint, of all things. Who'd have thunk? My friend Rani Osnat kept half a glassful for half an hour and found it shut down even more. That's 'cause it's Leroy and it's 2005! 1300 NIS - yeah, that's 'cause it's Leroy.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru, Clos des Epeneaux, 2007

This is the wine commonly viewed as the benchmark Pommard. And it quite deserves it. The nose is mineral-laden, the palate tannic and structured and both show lots of iron. It's like a blend of the Dugat-Py's and the Leroy, with an extra dimension of elegance - and yes, it is elegant, despite all that iron. 440 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Grands Epenots, 2007

From first pour and until almost the final sniff and sip, it totally looks, smells and tastes like strawberry juice, with just a strand of minerals. Very high grade juice, mind you. Even though it's soft and fruity, it is just as hard to approach as the previous wines, because it is so monolithic, in its soft fashion. Confoundingly morose and introverted, in a very feminine way. 380 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2007

Another fruity start - perhaps raspberry this time, then showing, once again, minerals and also, for a change, exotic spices that are reminiscent of the Cote de Nuits. Ripe and hedonistic, and although it explodes on the palate, it is one of the most elegant wines of the night, the yummiest for sure. 520 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2006

I loved this wine when I tasted it last year and I still do. The nose immediately attacks with flowers and red fruit. And, yeah, minerals. The palate is structured and finishes off with smooth tannins. 480 NIS.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2003

This was an odd experience. Tomer holds this wine in high regard and even though he spotted some TCA, he still served it, since he didn't have another bottle of the 2003. The logic behind his unconventional approach was that a good wine can sometimes makes some headway against TCA, enough to at least give a glimpse of the wine's potential. He served a backup as well, to be fair. I will say that the wine felt off, but didn't really smell of wet cardboard, as I'd expect from a corked wine, and did not show any over-ripeness, as I would have expected from a 2003. So I guess it really was a damn fine wine to begin with.

Comte Armand, Pommard Premier Cru, Clos des Epeneaux, 2002

Damn, what a terrific nose, cheesy and stinky, then returning to the night's theme of minerals and more minerals. The palate is ripe, not overdone, but enough to detract at this point of the wine's life cycle, even though it does not blur the sense of underlying balance and tannic bite. A really, really fine wine.

Montille, Pommard Premier Cru, Rugiens, 2005

Awesome potential. Vibrant fruit, a little blood, lots of minerals and animalistic nuances. A magical finish to a lovely night and a mini-Rugiens vertical.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great Cheeses And (Mostly) Flawed Wines (Nov. 13, 2010)

Served alongside cheeses bought on the 2GrandCru's tour of Paris.

Weingut Ihle, Baden, QBA Trocken, Weissburgunder, 2007

A nice, typically Pinot Blanc nose, but the palate is a disaster - although dry , it is laden with toffee. Some kind soul ought to tell the wine-maker to set his sights on something better than Cali Chardonnay.

Price unknown.

Domaine de la Vougeraie, Gevrey-Chambertin, Le Justice, 2002

220 NIS worth of TCA.

A. et P. De Villaine, Cote Chalonnaise Rouge, La Digoine, 2007

Satisfaction at last. Gorgeous red fruit, underbrush, hints of spices. Lithe body. Potentially better than the 2006 - even more suave, anyway, packing a lot of class unto its ethereal frame.

Burgundy Wine Collection, 120 NIS.

Wiengut Ihle, Baden, Gewurtzraminer, Eiswein, 2002

Typical Gewurtz spiciness and extract which is okay but overall, this doesn't really work as an icewine as it lacks acidity and class. I must say, the GHW Heightswine would beat it any day.

17 Euros.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cafe Italia Again (Nov. 3, 2010)

The wines and the settings change, the faces and the friends remain the same.

Olivier Leflaive, Meursault Premier Cru, Charmes 1996

The nose here has mushrooms, nuts, attractive hints of oxidation, while the poise, the balanced acidity and the mineral cut fooled me and some others into mistaking this for a Puligny. Everything works here and finally I get to drink a truly mature white Burgundy that hasn't slipped past its peak.

Price unknown.

Oddero, Barolo, 1982

Another Barolo that pre-dates single-vineyard bottlings. The nose starts out spicy and dusty, gaining nuances. The palate is shy first, tannic, spicy and long but with the fruit muted. However, once sleeping beauty here wakes up, the fruit fills out enough to balance the old school tannins.

Prince unknown.

Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne, 2004

Another declassified blend of high-ranking vineyards from the year Madame Bize-Leroy buried her husband. Terrific nose, Bourgogne with a capital B: pepper, exotic spices, underbush, strawberries and finally hints of lemon drops for idiosyncracy's sake. The palate not as good, as it is slightly watery and its structure a little wacky but I do like it despite its faults. A fetish, I guess - I do prefer wacky Leroy to extracted Leroy.

Imported by Burgundy Wine Collection, sold for about 400-450 NIS, if my memory serves.

Bahans-Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2000

The Haut-Brion second wine proves very massive after the previous wine, with concentrated black fruit on nose and palate. Concentrated yet balanced, with a studied, gentle hand on the oak. Develops nicely showing tobacco leaves and hints of minerals. Still tannic and primary but great acidity.

Price unknown.

Canon-La-Gafflierre, Saint-Emillon, 2000

Another great nose, with tobacco leaves, minerals and hints of mildew framing mellow red fruit with a modicum of black ones as well. Though the palate still possesses some bitterness, the wine as a whole is friendlier and readier than the Bahans but less interesting to describe. I think I expected a little more, despite its youth.

The first of three bottles purchased for an average price of 100 USD.

Anselmann, Pflaz, Ortega Trockenbeerenauslese, 2005

This is a surprise, as the last Ortega dessert wine I had lacked in acidity (you can read the note as well as a short description of the Ortega grape here). A luscious nose to kill for and a subtly spicy finish of some length, as well as a measure of a finesse on the palate that belies its extravagance.

Prince unknown.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The 2GrandCrus Do Paris!

Here are some wines my wife and I drank or tasted on a long overdue, romantic getaway to the City Of Lights. The first three are the most memorable wines that we drunk at bistros and cost 4-6 euros a glass. These were tasty and interesting rather than fancy or profound. The last four are from the vending machine at Lavinia.

Domaine Chanzy, Clos de la Fortune, Bouzeron 2009

A nice wine, light on its feet, that enlightened me on Bouzeron typicty.

Chateau des Tours, Brouilly, 2009

Spicy black fruit with a touch of minerals, soft tannins and a spicy finish. Starts out short but gains length. Nice but not memorable except for being a very useful backdrop to the meal.

Chateau de Beauvau, Muscadet (?), 2008

Uh, I'm not sure exactly which of the Muscadet AOC's this was, but it had very nice aromatics for what I assume was an unpretentious wine, and they kept pulling in for one sniff after another: lime at first then green apples and light hints of chalk that turn into flint. Surprising length and a refreshing mineral cut. Picks up body. Too bad even entry level Muscadets are so rarely imported to Israel.

Domaine Pavelot, Pernard-Venglasses, 2008

Cherries, cranberries, old oak, Bourgogne spices. A light to medium bodied, rather acidic food wine that I like despite being rather harsh on its own. At the end of the day, a wine I suspect that I'd take to in a riper vintage. 17 e

Marquis D'angerville, Volnay Premier Cru, Champans 2006

A wonderful nose with all the lovely Bourgogne spices in full bloom and a touch of mellow earthiness. The palate, despite obvious potential, is not ready at all: it's balanced but still tannic, brooding, disconsolate. It's a very tempting wine due to its depth but prices in Paris make it too high for a wine readily available for lower prices in other markets. 79 e

Finca Villacrecres, Ribera Del Duero, Crianza, Pruno, 2008

Initially, the nose is very fruit forward and overripe before it calms down to show a minerally facet with hints of olives. The palate is grainy, modern yet balanced. A successful wine, especially given its price. 15.20 e

Cycles Gladiator, California, Central Coast, Zinfandel, 2006

Sniffing this wine is like is like reading a Manga after growing up on Superman comics from the sixties - damn hard to abstract. I finally came up with "fruit cake coated with olive tapenade", which received a nod from my wife, despite her misgivings about my pretentiousness. The palate is very tasty and spicy and not overdone, a Zin that finally makes sense. A lovely, lovely surprise! 13 e