Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Excellent Wines - Even Better Company (Jan. 24, 2013)

The tasting - a panoramic view
I don't think I've ever drank so many wines in one night. Fifteen wines, none corky, twelve friends. That's a good ratio. Our host was not only generous with the condiments, he was also patient with us rowdy lot, so thanks, man!

As will be made quite obvious as this post unfolds, the Northern Rhone had a very good showing.

Jerome Prevost, La Closerie, Champagne, Extra Brut Rose, Facsimile, n.v.

Strawberries and earth, not especially complex but fresh, tasty and idiosyncratic, due to the large proportion of Pinot Meunier.

Fiorenzo Nada , Barbaresco, Rombone, 1998

The nose is so typical, it loudly spells out n-e-b-b-i-o-l-o, and the Piedmont magic is going strong there, with that telltale dusty/spicy/tarry character. But that's where the magic ends, as the palate is on the down slope, and while it's fun to experience the mellowness a mature wine can bring, it's just not backed up with enough presence here. And, hey, anyone can age - the trick is to age well.

Domaine des Remizieres, Hermitage, Cuvée Emile, 1999

This has the mature mellowness of a Cote-Rotie, oddly enough, and is nowhere as extravagant and jejune as I'd feared it'd be, going by it's Parker score of 96. Instead, there's cedar and sweet currants on the nose upon opening, which soon enough turn into black pepper and roasted meats. The palate displays the mellowness I referred to above, with much depth and complexity and a savory backbone.

Roger Sabon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Prestige, 2004

Everything here is alcoholic and aggressive, even the nose is grumpy. At least it shows some garrigue after a long while, but it's just too ripe and sweet for comfort. The kindest thing I can say about is it offers a starting point for a spirited discussion about the woes of Chateauneuf and its super-cuvees.

Celler de Capacanes, Tarragona, Cabrida, 1998

Okay, this is an interesting wine that took me a while to come to grips with, mainly because it's a Grenache that just doesn't behave like most Grenaches. I get rubber at first, then animalistic notes and finally black pepper. It's sweet, yet structured, and really improves in glass.

Yves Cuilleron, Saint Joseph, l'Amarybelle, 2009

The nose seems on the stewed side, at first, until it resolves into black pepper and black fruit, with a hint of summer fruits. It's a tasty, balanced wine with room for growth, although its youthful, yet gentle, vigor is already captivating.

Matthew Cellars, Washington,  Colombia Valley, 2002

This is a Bordeaux look-alike, and tastes like it, too. It's got that mellow claret thing going, and it's a tasty drop.

Chateau Fonbadet, Pauillac, 2000

And back to the original Land Of Claret, although this wine serves as a reminder that even Bordeaux has its share of non-entities starring in WTF moments. The nose is as ripe and spicy as you'd expect from a warm vintage like 2000, and the palate still has plenty of fresh vigor; but it just feels so humdrum, and in a glorified vintage like 2000, the least you'd expect from a former Cru Bourgeois from Pauillac is to actually taste like a Puillac.

Alain Burguet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Place des Lois, 2007

This is the second time I've had this in recent weeks, and it's a fine Bourgogne in its own right, but five years post-vintage, I still don't read a lot of Gevrey character in it.

Clos Du Marquis, Saint Julien, 2000

Unlike the Fonbadet, this does smell and taste like its archetype, although I have some reservations: I do prefer my Saint Juliens a little more athletic and lean, and here the wine is more about 2000 than about Saint Julien. However, it's really, really good and anyone who had the foresight to stock up on this in 2003 when its price was still sane can start enjoying their cache.

Glaymond, Barossa Valley, Shiraz, 2005

This is so obvious and ripe that I can't write a decent note on it. Remember that last post-millenium Aussie blockbuster you had? You can regurgitate your own note, then.

Clos Marie, Languedoc, Pic St. Loup, Manon, 2011

This would be a great pairing for a Mediterranean sea food meal, that got lost in the context of such a wide tasting, especially coming in after the Behemoth from Down Under. It's a restrained, subtle, mineral-laced wine that deserves another chance.

Cloudy Bay, Chardonnay, 2006

This has all the funky, saline minerals of a good Burgundy white, without the leanness I'd like, but it never overdoes anything and is very far from the ridiculously bland mold of New World Chardonnay.

Rene Rostaing, Cote Rotie, Cote Blonde, 1998

This and the Jamet were opened as bonus wines and in retrospect, we rushed through them too quickly. Certainly in this case. I had the 1999 three years ago and it was simply a stunning wine. The 1998 shouldn't be too many steps behind it, yet it felt like it never got a chance to unwind.I will say that the nose is smoky with hints of funk and the palate is elegant and tasty. Damn, we really needed more time with it.

Jamet, Cote-Rotie, 2010

The Jamet, on the other hand, manages to spread its word within minutes.This will be a great wine one day, and it's actually already a great youngster. It's suitably ripe, with all the elements in place, and you can feel the sure, confident hand of its maker. Nothing was manipulated here, yet nothing is out of balance, and it's full of vibrant, vital energy. Kudos.

With this kind of setting, I think quoting prices is a bit impolite. 'Sides, with fifteen wines on the table, I'm not, just not, going to Google each and every one for the market prices.




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