Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Champions League Finals with the Dead Arm 2002 (May 22, 2010)

Even though finalists Bayern Munchen and Inter are not my idea of excitement, Champions League Finals Night is still a good excuse to open a good wine. On the other hand, no use popping one that I can use to buy my way into a tasting, so opening this New World icon from a vintage that my friends disapprove of seemed like an apt choice.

I opened my bottle four and a half hours prior to kickoff then monitored its development as I prepared roast beef for what I hoped would be at least interesting entertainment. The wine's New World character was apparent throughout, with the oak obvious, even if finely integrated into the ripe fruit. Red fruit is always an advantage and initially there is little besides red in the mix, but in time, the nose picks up blacker notes. This is an interesting case of a wine whose palate is better than its nose, the last showing eucalyptus and black pepper. Meanwhile, the palate shows a glycerin aspect that is surprisingly balanced by dusty, savory tannins. Long and fine tuned, despite a certain obviousness.

Maybe I was caught up in the festivities, but all in all, this is an appealing wine despite my bias against its style and I like how it becomes more structured and intellectual as it opens up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Porterhouse (May 19, 2010)

I have been neglecting Porterhouse for a very long time. I just checked my notes and I haven't visited the place since last August, which is a shame, as it's my go-to place for meat.

I have also been neglecting my wine friends, for various reasons, none of which have anything to do with any lack of love. Work, family obligations and a somewhat constricted cash flow - all simply got in the way.

Time to dive right back in the pool of wine.

Jos. Christoffel, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Urziger Wurzgarten, Riesling Auslese Trocken, 1997

I would never have imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that Christoffel makes a trocken, let alone an Auslese Trocken. This takes getting used to, that's for sure. The nose is wonderful, with typical hints of petrol and cold slate and a not quite so typical fingerprint of guayavas. The palate is not quite my style: very bone dry, with only a trace of sweetness on the finish. On the plus side, there's a nice interplay of acidity and minerals that needs time to emerge.

Price unknown.

Rene Rostaing, Cote Rotie, Cote Blonde, 1996

DOA. Just like the La Landonne from the same vintage a couple of months ago. Someone up there really doesn't like 1996. Or me.

Purchased from McArthur for about 80 USD.

Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan, 1996

The Rostaing's back up wine. This is simply lovely, a text-book example of elegant Bordeaux that unwinds slowly and confidently with air. The nose caresses with cherries and ash while the palate offers a supple structure and savory tannins.

Purchased from McArthur for about 50 USD.

Banfi, Summus, 1999

This is a dependable work-horse, I suppose. I have fine memories of the 1997 from my nubile days but this seems a touch finer, if there is any point at all to comparing impressions formed by such widely different incarnations of the same wine lover. Anyway, the nose has a certain herbal tinge that made me consider South Rhone at first, while the palate balances sweet tannins with a good dose of acidity. Gets the job done.

Price unknown.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Meo-Camuzet Tasting (May 3, 2010)

Meo-Camuzet is a domain whose wines typically leave me salivating, so even though I'm undergoing something of a wine tasting hiatus (in other words, I'm broke), I hastened to pencil in this tasting at the Burgundy Wine Collection tasting room. Especially since the evening's special guest was owner and wine-maker Jean-Nicolas Meo.

The evening's special treat was tasting the 2008's, which are not even available yet (hence I've quoted 2007 prices). While I can't get a really good feel about how the wine world has received the 2008 vintage in Burgundy, my personal take based on the wines we tasted is that, beneath an intellectually pleasing structure, there lurks supple, soft, juicy, almost hedonistic fruit that comes as something of a surprise. And I love a good surprise. I find that one of my greatest thrills in food and wine is finding a nice Easter egg at the center of a bite or at the end of sip. So for me, 2008 at Meo-Camuzet is a very good vintage that thankfully seems to have avoided a lot of hype and the high prices that attend such hype. It's also a very good thing for me that Europe is in financial turmoil.

All the wines were opened eight hours before the start of the tasting.

Fixin, 2008

Typical Bourgogne aromatics - perfumed, if not especially opulent or compelling, with lovely spicy red fruit and hints of sweat. It's decently balanced on the palate, although not especially well tuned: the fresh acidity deftly highlights the fruit, but the raspy tannins leave a bitter aftertaste. This won't knock you out, but it's a very good introduction to the region and I'd enjoy having it around the house on occasion. 170 NIS.

Nuits-Saint-Georges, 2008

This wine is more my style, with swagger and virility and a touch of minerality. The fruit here is blacker and tougher than what the Fixin offers, but it's still soft and fruity. I am learning as I go along that Meo-Camuzet's Nuits really hit my sweet spot. Sourced from the Aux Bas de Combe vineyard neard the Vosne border. 280 NIS.

Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Chaumes, 2008

Apparently, this wine was born only 100 meters away from the previous wine; apparently, once again distance is revealed as deceiving in the Cote d'Or. A very impressive nose at an altogether higher level, one that is delineated by evocatively exotic spices. The palate really nails what I said earlier about the Meo's 2008's, as it boasts a lovely hidden treasure of gorgeous fruit beneath the lithe tannins and juicy acidity. Having said that, even with ten hours of airing, the palate is not yet as expressive as the nose. No price as the 2007 has sold out and I didn't get a quote from Tomer Gal.

Clos de Vogeout Grand Cru, 2008

Now this is an interesting duel: a Premier Cru from the greatest village in the Cote versus a mid-tier Grand Cru. For my money, the Vosne wins, although the Clos de Vogeout justifies its Grand Cru status. The aromatics are similar in makeup, although the CdV is more subdued and brooding. The palate is softer and rounded, growing spicier and longer in glass. In that sense it is more approachable now than the Chaumes, but also somewhat less interesting. 800 NIS.

Marsannay, 2007

The nose is very nice, even coming, as it does, after two much more profound wines, and has an appealing animalistic streak. But the palate is light fare, no doubt about it, and I had a hard time enjoying it. 160 NIS.

Fixin Premier Cru, Clos du Chapitre, 2007

It's odd how this one wine, out of the entire lineup, starts out as the most shut down aromatically. Thankfully, it manages to catch up with the Marsannay, at the very least, and show even more complexity. The palate is better as well, but there's an angularity there that is off-putting, and that's a lot coming from me, as I'm a great fan of angular wines. Maybe the leanness of these low-key 2007's is not an easy match for the 2008's; I suspect that in the right mood and with the right food, I'd enjoy them more but the 2008's simply spoiled me. 220 NIS.

Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru, Murgers, 2007

My first impression of this wine was this: how can it possible be related to the previous two wines of the same vintage? The exotic spices on the nose are cut from the same cloth as the Vosnees while the palate hints at the soft lushness of the 2008's, yet it also retains the angularity of the 2007's, so there's a nice contrast and balance here. A very complex wine with aromatics that simply grow wowier as it opens. 530 NIS.

Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Brulees, 2007

The nose is even finer than the Murgers. Let's just face it, the village does have a better terroir. The palate is softer, sweeter and arguably simpler, although not at at the cost of structure, and exudes opulent yet mellow self-confidence. I do prefer the Murgers and am not experienced enough to gleam whether time will change my opinion, with all due respect to terroir. 1000 NIS.

Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru, Chaumes, 1999 (Magnum)

A sullen and powerful wine, seemingly still lost in slumber, at the same time this and the Brulees both have a sweetness that make me wonder whether the Vosnes might not be too much of as good thing for me. Maybe the Nuits' have a rusty edge to them that grounds them and, depriving them of a certain gloss, makes them more appealing to me personally. No denying, though, that there are plenty of fine tannins here, as well as a lot of packed, dense fruit. And man, oh man, what a nose! 1350 NIS.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

White Wine, White Heat (May 1, 2010)

One of those night that somehow went logistically hay-wire. We were supposed to visit friends but we entered baby-sitter limbo and wound hosting at home and opening lots of wine, with our friends bringing fish and seafood and cooking in our kitchen. What the hell: expensive but fun. And I admit I wound up drunker than I'd anticipated.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Rully, Les St. Jacques, 2006

Text-book Bourgogne with its mineral and dry grass nose and savory palate. Yummy. The nose might have the edge over the palate but this is still very precocious wine.

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 130 NIS.

Koelhler-Ruprecht, Pfalz, Kalstadter Steinacker, Scheurebe Spatlese, 2005

Lots of guayavas as always, to my taste, although our friends said lychee. A bone-dry wine until both acidity and sweetness turn up on finish to chime in with a fruity coda. A great match to oysters with a semi-sweet butter and cream sauce.

Giaconda, 117 NIS.

Albert Mann, Hengst, Grand Cru Pinot Gris, 2005

Heady and impressive with a quince-derived personality. Although it shows more reined-in power than a complex personality per se, it is an excellent wine and lives up to the Grand Cru label.

Giaconda, about 180 NIS.

Quinta do Noval Silval, Vintage Port, 2000

Port. Vintage Port. While the tannins obscure any pretension to sweetness and dessert wine-ness, I loved it way more than I expected a priori, never having been any Port fan in the past.

About 50 USD.