Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Wizard of Pinot Meunier


Gueux!. Doesn’t really ring a bell in relation to wine does it? But I’ll give you a clue. We are in Champagne country - 15km west of Reims. No? 

Anyway - Gueux is a small cosy town – to a degree of romantic with lovely houses, clean pavements and an almost obligatory magnolia tree in the front gardens. Even the café here is nicer and made in a more chick look. The town is quite, which is something I am use to, when I drive around in Champagne. Despite Champagnes exuberant and festive reputation, the regions and its towns are somewhat sleepy towns. On the outside that is, because as soon as you get inside – down to those dark cellars, a huge hospitality awaits - and damn good wine to.


We arrived from the south a day in April and had been driving through endless landscapes of vineyards. But as you cross the town sign of Gueux, the vineyard setting comes to an end.  You sense you are closer to Reims and a more common landscape of approaching roads and suburbs neighbourhood.
(The tractor - go home Ferrari) 
Yet in Gueux resides a Champagne producer. Jérôme Prévost is his name and I suspect that bell rang?

Yet upon arrival at his house, he is not home. A where is the cellar? Instead I can see a cedar wood looking barn. It’s a little bit open. I am even more curious now. We find out that he is in the vineyard, which should be located 6-700 meters up the road. After turning left we start to sense that there are in fact vineyards in Gueux. The vineyards here are not your romantic notion of sloping hills, where a sparkling sunlight warms up the soil from hilltop in the distance. No! – Here the land is flat as a pancake. It’s not exactly screaming for attention and Jérôme’s vineyard " Les Béguines” are here with 5-6 other parcels.  We see Jérôme in the distance – all alone and on a behemoth of a tractor.


He jumps of and greets a handful of passionate wine people from Denmark. “It’s a good day to plow – such an occasion should not be missed, he says”. It’s already the fourth time he plows this year and it doesn’t take you long to see his vineyard looks a bit more healthy that it’s neighbours. The “other” parcels here sadly look like a lot of other vineyards in Champagne. Depleted soils, sprayed with small blue plastic pieces and other metals parts ranging from nails, glass to batteries. The small blue plastic pieces are a shameful chapter in Champagne. In the 1970s the Parisians cleverly disposed of a composting of household waste. “When the soil is so poor of life, the roots seek upwards to find nutrition and this is really not good”.  


"Les Béguines” is the story about this very flat vineyard. 2ha of very sandy soils, planted with Pinot Meunier, which by now are about 50 years of age. Pinot Meunier is like most of you probably know Champagnes rustic cousin and often not so highly praised. It’s paradoxically the most planted in Champagne. Yet it’s actually because it’s seldom seen as a mono grape release, but often blended to give some growling baseline. Before I got introduce to these grower Champagnes, I often perceived Pinot Meunier as being pretty baroque and often a very clumsy grape. But for sure in blends –like Krug Vintage, it acts as a good trio partner, giving opposition to the refine tonality of Chardonnay and the aristocratic Pinot Noir.  

”Les Béguines” is for sure filled with sand – but also lots of fossils. It can be a little hard to imagine, when you stand here in present time – and with 350km to the nearest coastline - that about 45million years ago the seabed was here in Gueux. The seas erosion has created massive layers of calcareous sand formations and fossils with tiny crustaceans. It’s not exactly hurting the quality of the terroir.


At the end of the vineyard you see a small white house and this is Jérôme 's childhood home. So you would think that he was born to make wine and walk the footsteps of his parents? But it was not like that. His parents didn’t even make wine and the vineyards belonged to his grandmother. She even leased the land out. Jérôme 's interest in life, took a different path towards a more artistic angle, with painting, philosophy, and photography. When he got the offer to take over " Les Beguines " it was not something he just jumped into with open arms. But in 1987 he decide to give it a go and Domaine "La Closerie" is born. The first period is all about bringing the vineyard back to balance by working with respect for nature and no use of pesticides. The juice is initially sold to negociants, while Jérôme seeks inspiration and knowledge. But it ‘s as if he is constantly struggling with the prejudice that you can not make great wine in Gueux and certainly not on such a flat and sandy vineyard, planted with dull Pinot Meunier. Perhaps that why, he in 1995/96 takes a journey to Jura. Jura was about seeking inspiration, but he was also on the verge of obtaining a vineyard there. Today, he looks back and says:” It was a great adventure with Jura, but it was ultimately too difficult for me to leave my home ."



Instead he starts as an apprentice of Anselme Selosse. He tells us how he learned more about making wine the first day with Anselme, than he had ever learned before. Anselme gives Jérôme a task of pumping wine from a cask to another. Jérôme had never tried this before and Anselme begin to explain how to use the pump, but can see that Jerome is a little bit lost in all the technical information. Anselme stops and says to Jérôme "When you are dealing with wine making, both in the cellar and in the vineyard you are using your body and soul. You constantly need to ask yourself - why am I doing this? What is the meaning of this? Is it necessary?”

Personally I don’t know Jérôme very well, but hearing his story and spending some time with him, you begin to understand why this winemaker is so curious - why he constantly seeks inspiration (you will see later) and ask questions. When you combine it with a man of great intellect, humour and his artistic background, you begin to understand why the outcome is a pretty personal wine.

Jérôme spends 5 years with Anselme and it’s also him, who helps him to make the first vintages at his address in Avize. ‘1998 is the first official release with Jérôme Prévost on the label. In 2003 he leaves Anselme to make wine in Gueux. He starts of with one wine: "Les Beguines”. In 2000 and 2003 vintage he makes a wine called " d' Ailleurs “, which is limited cuvée, which have spent +one year more in barrel.  I remember tasting the ’03 in London some four years ago and it was truly an eye-opener. In 2007 a rosé sees the daylight, which goes by the name “Fac – Simile”. We are again at Pinot Menier frequency and this is a very juicy cousin. Yet I think many underestimate it’s potential due to its slightly polish candy like feel.  But as I see it “Fac – Simile” age very well and right now the ’07s fruit core are starting to feel a little dryer, saltier and obtaining that beautiful verbena note I adore in a rosé Champagne. 



With time Jérôme have obtained more land and planted these with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. The age of the vines are still very young and when he finally decided to release some cuvée(s) it will be a very limited number of bottles.

All of his Champagnes are non-vintage btw – despite they are never blended. So we deal with vintage juice, but officially non-vintage Champagne, as it falls short of the AOC-rules of 36 months on lees. This is quit common when it comes to the small growers. They simple don’t have economy of scale like the big houses, nor do they have the required space in their cellars. Jérôme’s Champagnes taste damn fine when released – especially his trademark of insanely sophisticated spices. Yet! – I have to say, I feel confident they will improve even more after 5-6 years after disgorgement. 

Back in the vineyard, Jérôme have really warmed up and a talking about sugar strings, enzymes, proteins, and how you must ensure oxygen in the soils to pump energy into the vines. It’s not your everyday talk for a number idiot like me and you really have to concentrate. But Jérôme explains it really well.  Basically he is trying to tell us what nature can do over modern winemaking. If you only leave the sugar addition  (Chaptalisation) and enzyme treatment for modern techniques in the cellar you are only extracting one chord to the wine's perfect symphony. But if you provide nature with the right growth conditions - to form sugar naturally, you get endless strings of DNA and it creates a much higher energy and complexity. It’s also one of the reasons why Jérôme never do Chaptalisation to his Champagnes. Instead he harvest with ripe maturity and about 10.5% natural alcohol. Only the natural indigenous yeast is used in the winemaking process.


One hour later we are back in the cellar…sorry barn…. Finally the Vikings can get something to drink.

We kick of wit 2012 Vins clairs. 2012 was on an extreme year. A rough winter, with temperatures hitting lows of -20 degrees Celsius in late February. Spring was wet as hell and even includes a devastating hailstorm. The summer was nothing to write about either, before a 10-day heat wave window opens in August and produces temperatures of 40 Celsius. The August window was sent from heaven and saves the harvest. Yet 2012 will still be marked by the rough winter condition and almost everyone reports of a very small harvest. This also goes for Jérôme Prévost, who normally produces 13.000 bottles, but in 2012-vintage he will only release about 6.000. The quality is however really promising.    

Hereafter awaits an interesting experiment. Two Champagnes are in play in our Zalto White Wine glasses. The first is lively, light and flowery. Elegant, delicate, yet also a bit short on the last meters. Such a Champagne would be perfect as an aperitif. The second one is more brutal, direct with higher energy and structure. Here you sense the trademark of Prévost, those sophisticated spices, which is really why this guy masters the Pinot Meunier like no other. This is a Champagne to drink with food.

Jérôme looks around and is curious to know our opinions’.

The verdict is the same – we all prefer Champagne no. 2.

But!!!

It’s the same wine – same vintage – both the challenging 2010 vintage.

What! – This can’t be, they are so different? But there is a reason. One of them is a “mistake”. An accident. The accidental wine is No.2. You see, Jérôme’s cellar employee by mistake forgot to add Bentonite. And what is Bentonite? It’s first of all a clay species, which is added to Champagne, securing the dead yeast residuals will petrify and slowly be transported to the neck of the bottle under remuage. If Bentonite is not added, the yeast residuals will not petrify and turn into a small blurry substance inside the bottle and make the juice unclear. “Think about it – Jérôme says, in Champagne we are obsessed with the clarity. Why do you think we call it Vins Clairs?”. Jérôme discovers the ”mistake” after 300 bottles – yet he doesn’t really look sad. Once again, this is a curious winemaker, not following a straight line and all the traditions. And maybe – Bentonite is not added to some bottles on purpose in the future. Who knows? 


From here a bombardment of vintage floats at a steady pace. Both rosé and ”Les Béguines”. Jérôme is eager to hear what he think and takes notice off everything being said. As you know I have tasted many of these wines before and if I should chose a favourite it would have to be the ’08. It’s simply magic. Jérôme nods – “I am pretty satisfied with my ’08s he says” with a warm twinkle in his eye.

We finish, outside. It’s crisp April weather. Jérôme has a tradition of serving wines from other producers, who inspires him. A myriad of ​​wines awaits us, with producers like Frederic Cossard, Ganevat, Philippe Pacalet etc. I am in heaven.


This is one those visits you just don’t forget. Thank you Jérôme and see you soon.

You can find another report on Jérôme Prévost here.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

“L’Apôtre” Vertical 1999 >>> 2009

In late November 2013 David Léclapart stopped by Lidkoeb in Copenhagen to celebrate (almost) 3 anniversaries.

His Danish Importer “Petillant” (Mia & Mads Rudolf) celebrated their 10-year anniversary of importing David Léclapart to Denmark. An event like this required something to drink, so they had lined up not only 10 – but all 11 existing vintages of L’Apôtre; 1999 >>> 2009. The third anniversary was restaurant Noma’s, who opened in Nov-2003 and where some of us (including me) continued with a tailor made David Léclapart dinner. It should be mentioned that their was an event on the Sunday as well @ restaurant Kadeau, where I sadly couldn’t’ participate.

I still remember the first time I tasted 2002 “L’Apôtre”. It was a Friday in April 2008. At that time I was searching for another route in Champagne, which didn’t led to another blind alley of bling bling, gift boxes and tax-free luxury goods. I knew about Selosse and Vilmart and enjoyed both, but there had to be others making real WINE in Champagne.

2002 “L’Apôtre” blew me away and it was the first time I tasted such uncompromising soil intensity in a bottle of Champagne. However the greatest gift about “L’Apôtre” was the man behind it; David Léclapart, whom I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time in April 2009, when I stopped by his place in Trépail.

David Léclapart is one of the most humble winemakers I have ever met. He is addition such a kind, funny and inspirational human being and I have to confess, that my appreciation for his wines under heavy influence of his personality. That said, I am confident that David belongs among some of the “greatest”, but sometimes I wonder if David actually knows that? His easygoing and bohemian approach to life and the way he speaks about his work are never a detailed technical presentation. David speaks more about the bigger lines, such as nature’s influence and how he as a winemaker interacts with the given premises. He is truly unique, hard working with a clear vision of how he wants’ to make wine.  
I have of course some notes on the 11 bottles for you, but I have to say that I am becoming less eager about writing technical tasting notes. For sure – I am like a robot when I sit down in a quite room and sniff to wine. My pen instantly start to dance on the paper and I can write tasting notes in my sleep. But tasting a glass or two of L’Apôtre is not really what this Champagne is about. It requires a lot of air and the real conclusion (if at all any) would be more appropriate after a whole bottle. So – take my judgements with a pinch of salt.

L’Apôtre is always a lieu-dit made from the vineyard “La Pierre St-Martin”. The vines are pretty old – planted in 1946 by David’s grandfather and L’Apôtre is vinified in oak, whereas “L’Amateur” (his entry level Champagne) is vinified in steel and “L’Artiste” is half oak / half steel.

Before we started, several of us would have liked to be sort of calibrated with a simple glass of some other bubbly stuff. You felt it was 1,2,3 GO!! And then one of the greatest Champagne just landed in front of you.
 2009 “L’Apôtre”


David explained how ’09 reminded him a little of ’03. Yet the burning of the sun was more intense in ’03, yet the warmth in the two vintages was similar. ´09 is officially not released yet and you can feel how the vanilla of the oak is too brutal at the moment, but I would assume it would be more integrated when it’s released in 2015. ’09 is overall a brutal beast at this stage, yet the minerality is fascinating intense, but when you taste it at this young stage there is too much fireworks in front of the mouth.  Time will tell.

2008 “L’Apôtre”

’08 is a hyped vintage in Champagne and from what I have tasted from other producers I can understand why. Let’s cut to the chase; 2008 “L’Apôtre” is magic and it’s probably one of the most harmonic young Champagnes I have ever tasted. The fruit in this Champagne are beyond delicious – crystal clear and super ripe material with enormous electrical intensity. The acidity is mind blowing intense, making it already irresistible at this stage. The 2008 “L’Apôtre” are the finest ever released IMHO and if you decided to buy it when it’s released later this year I would suggest you try it right away before moves into a shy phase. Hunt it like demons my fellow friends.

2007 “L’Apôtre”

’07 was a challenge in Champagne and it shows. David saw parallels to ’01, which is indeed also a difficult vintage. After the magic ’08 the ’07 stands out even more awkward. The nose is quite shy and filled with herbal character and peppermint associations. The taste is a touch better as it’s delicate drink, yet missing a lot of bite.

2006 “L’Apôtre”

I have always liked ’06 vintage in Champagne. It has a certain trademark, fuelled from a really devilish intensity. Yet some cuvées needs time and that also goes for the ’06 “L’Apôtre”, which I now taste for the third time. You have to analyze this Champagne more on what it’s actually hiding, as it still feels like the ’06 are trapped in a small box, making its fruit flavours feel like a compact hand grenade. Despite the taste takes the same compact shape, it’s has this devilish intensity, strong bite and a very vibrant acidity to go with it. Give it 3-5 years more in the cellar.


2005 “L’Apôtre”

David told us that the ’05 and ’03 had the same Ph-level. A hot vintage, but no burn on the grapes like it happened in the rather freaky ’03 vintage.

The ’05 vintage has always troubled me. In all of David’s Champagnes, there have been an element of rotten potatoes, which is not a coincident, as a lot of producers have been dealing with rot in the ’05 vintage. Yet I have to say this is the finest version of ’05 “L’Apôtre”
 I have ever tasted. No rotten notes, yet a fraction herbal character with fennel and coffee beans. The taste is also good, despite a vintage like ’06 have far more bite. Overall a nice surprise.

2004 “L’Apôtre”

Every time you talk with someone about the ’04 “L’Apôtre”, you always talk about whether it was closed or not? The ’04 shined like a diamond when it was released, with the most insane fresh laser precision and soil intensity. But shortly after it closed down – or did it? I have tasted it many times before and I have to say it feels like it’s constantly bouncing between opened or closed. If conclude anything I would say it’s more closed than open right now. This was also the case at this vertical – but more pronounced on the nose, where it reveals an intense, but somewhat angular character. The taste is however divine- creamy and clinic purity with out of this world focus. It will hold many years – but be patient.

2003 “L’Apôtre”

I have always thought that David has managed to balance this freaky vintage. For sure the vintage will never be elegant and when you have just had a vintage like the ’04, which is sleek elegance, then the ’03 feels a little vulgar in comparison. But wine is also about finding the right occasion and this exotic, deep nutty and caramel breed is more about letting go and being seduced. I actually liked it and still think David has made a fantastic result.
(David - image from Terres et vins de Champagne 2013)

2002 “L’Apôtre”

Basically the ’02 have everything you look for in a great bottle of wine. Every component is harmonic and it stands out as a perfect Champagne with 110% balance. What you might find interesting (but not new to me) is that “L’Apôtre” will actually become rather classic “Champagne” with age, where the autolysis notes start to shape and all those secondary notes comes forward. The difference is however a far cleaner, crisp and real wine without any fuss or make-up. The 2002 are still young and will probably last 20-25 years more. Be happy if you own it.

2001 “L’Apôtre”

Very difficult vintage and David had to capitalize in ’01, which he is far from his philosophy.
Despite there is only one year between the ’02 and ’01, the latter feels 10 -15 years older in the glass. Pretty developed with a lot of nutty autolysis notes and again it feels like very classic aged Champagne. If I have had this alone I would have enjoyed it, but when you know how much soil bite “L’Apôtre” are capable of producing, you can’t help think of a rather amputated specimen.

2000 “L’Apôtre”

The two available bottles at the tasting was apparently very different. I think I got the “wrong” version as mine was rather blurry in the glass and the mousses were almost absent. I have however tasted the ’00 before, which I remember as seductive, buttery, exotic, pineapple creamy and like aged white Burgundy. But this one was impossible to judge as was pretty strange.

1999 “L’Apôtre”

The ’99 are really nice glass of Champagne. Again “classic” and despite it has the same oxidized character like the ’01 is has much more to offer. There is better intensity and the aged flavours have lots of nerve. The acidity is it’s only problem, so I would guess it has its peak now and +5-7 years from now.
(The first “L’Apôtre” - the 1999 and the old label)

So we continued at restaurant Noma, where I sat just beside David and had a dinner I will never forget. No camera, pen or paper – just pleasure, life, wine, food and good friends.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Alcohol – how low can you go?

One of the most fascinating things about wine is not only discovering how complex the subject are, but also how you interact with wine and how your taste evolves over time. One of the things I have discovered is how I relate to high and low alcohol wines. My personal taste has for a long time shifted towards wines with less alcohol. But my appreciation for lower % and wines with more finesse seems to be in line with a permanent shift in taste. Even Eric Asimov from The New York Times reports: “of a slight shift in taste in the United States, the proverbial pendulum swing, from heavy wines of power to lighter wines of greater finesse”.


It has always been tricky to navigate around the subject of alcohol level. The risk of just another trench warfare discussion about numbers has always been present. Such a debate will always try to set a threshold number what’s acceptable and take it from there. The discussion is in addition a one-way thread – focussing only on high numbers or have you ever heard anyone wanting more alcohol is their Moscato d’Asti or German Spätlese?

Picking wines from a %-level is like label checking a piece of clothes and not buying it because it wasn’t the right brand. Snobbery at worst – maybe even prejudices, dogmatic and sacred will often be the first reaction towards those who didn’t focus what was actually “inside”.

Mostly the discussion finds its compromise by concluding that the numbers in itself has little meaning, if the wine were in “balance”. 


But what does balance actually mean?

It means that high alcohol wines can work and you will see taster’s saying that no burning or heat was felt. So end of discussion – or? In my opinion the balance argument is flawed because it’s just another individual opinion and not a very complex parameter.

“The wine worked for you – but it didn’t work for me”.  

Temperature is also critical for high alcoholic wines and the overall drinking pleasure. I don’t know about you, but some years ago every wine concluding argument in my own backyard was always related to some pompous tasting event. The event was a race with points, notes, ridiculous amount of bottles and blue teeth. Nowadays I see a far more diverse landscape, where we have shifted from tasting wine at these tastings events, to drinking wine at home. This has changed the concept of “balance” for me. A good wine has to provide drinking pleasure – not matter what. The criteria for success are quite simple; the next sip just has to be better and better. Often such wines are characterized by you wish there was more left in the bottle when you have finished it.



So how did this start?

Well it all started quite innocent by falling in love with cool tempered wines. It was a desire for finesse and not power. Red Burgundy was one of the first discoveries for me, but financial wines I felt myself a bit distant from these expensive offerings. So I discovered German Spätlese, but despite providing great finesse I found it difficult to use these wines with everyday food. Next on my route was Champagne and today my greatest love affair. Champagne is a phenomenal drink. Incredible with food, great finesse and always ranged between 12% <> 13% alcohol. From there I have taken a big journey into natural wine. Natural wine have learned me a great deal about my perception of wine and really rocked my boat.  One of the many things I can take out of this journey, have been how low alcohol wines have proved to be a key element to drinking pleasure. It’s interesting to see how your taste buds starts to reform when you have so many low alcohol wines and I can’t help to compare it with how I saw the same pattern some 6-7 years ago when I started to drink Non dosage Champagne. When first addicted – some “Brut” Champagnes was suddenly appalling sweet. The same side affect has happened again, as I am now far more sensitive against high alcohol wines.

And I am not alone. Everyone of those I has shared wine with over the past 10-15 years are moving in the same direction.

So today – when I buy wines – yes admitted, I “label check”. What’s the alcohol level?  Above 14,5% and it’s 95% a no go. I can make a few exceptions when especially referring to a Barolo. They are often in this high end, but somehow they can balance at this point. But I need food with Barolo – I can’t just drink them alone…and it doesn’t really hurt when I think of a beautiful risotto and Barolo  

But overall I prefer wines in the range of 11% <> 13% and 90% of the wines I drink are in this range.

I think low alcohol wines are “the new black”. It will be more than a trend, because when you have first learned to appreciate the light weighted finesse of these wines, you want more and you will never ever go back to heavy dull and clumsy blockbuster wine. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Memories from a lunch


Attendees:

Emmanuel Lassaigne (Champagne Jacques Lassaigne)
Dominique Moreau (Champagne Marie Courtin)
Nicholas Vauthier (ViniVitiVinci)
Grégoire Perron (La Combe aux Rêve)


Narrated in images - enjoy.

 Emmanuel Lassaigne (Champagne Jacques Lassaigne)



 Dominique Moreau (Champagne Marie Courtin)
 Grégoire Perron (La Combe aux Rêve)
 Nicholas Vauthier (ViniVitiVinci)


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Brief tweets from my Facebook page…

Here what’s going on my FB page…in no specific order….join in.

Not many people know Yann Durieux – believe me that will change. I have posted about him before in “The new Elvis” but as I have just had the 2010 ”Les Grands Ponts” (again... two times in fact.... within the last two weeks) I thought it was okay to post again (I couldn’t really resist anyway)…blew my mind once again…ouch!!!...be warned – addictive wine!!!.



Had the 2006 Instant No.1 rosé from Bérèche yesterday. It's so unbelievable good. It’s the kind of rosé Champagne, which doesn’t make that much noise, but really plays a very understated role with fragile and delicate dried red berries. The best Champagne Raphaël Bérèche has ever made IMHO.

Pretty interesting wine. From La Vigne du Perron - 2011"La Serène Blanche" - 100% Roussette (altesse)...production is extremely low

I had the 2006 “L’Amateur” from David Léclapart this evening. Now this might be old news, but it’s just perfect right now. It’s kind of ridiculous to talk about an entry-level wine, because it’s so much more than an average Champagne.
I’ve noticed something….David’s Champagnes become quite classic with cellaring. “L’Amateur” ’06 have started to embrace some autolysis character, providing some complex underlying drum and bass to the rhythm. Yet it’s still young in terms of tallness and energy. Sure it can cellar – but why wait? I will finish my case within the next year or so and will imagine every bottle to be as good as this one.

Curiosity in wine is very important to me. Even better is when you discover wines where you can actually say; “I have never tasted anything like this before”. It’s rare that it happens – and when it does it’s not necessarily positive. Right now I am drinking a wine, where I can actually say those lines and in addition it’s fuc***** crazy wine. The nose is filled with ripe late harvest apple juice, pineapple, mango, wild yeast, touch of vanilla and orange blossom. It’s one hell of a lively thing and the taste is very elastic and exotic too with some spices on the finish line. Completely nuts man!!!!... As you can see the label looks like something Spock from Star Trek designed…and from what I know it’s a local grape called  ZibibboProducer is Grabrio Bini and we are on the Island of Pantelleria located 100 km south west of Sicily. Soil is of course volcanic. Vines are +50 years old, biodynamic grown, picked and destemmed by hand. It’s *orange wine (*skin contact or macerated if you wish) – long and slow (don’t know how long) but vinified in clay amphora’s dating back to the 17th century. Unfiltered – no additions – no So2. WOW!!!

I think I’ve found my summer white. The talented Arianna Occhipinti continues to win my heart. Her red “Il Frappato” is easily my favourite Italian daily drinking wine and this wine might not be the most complex breed, but it drinks so well. The 2012 SP68 Bianco is made from Albanello & Zibibbo ((moscato d'alessandria). Vinyard is located in 280m above Sea level and terroir is red sand with chalk from sub- Apennine limestone. The wine sees 15 days of skin contact and you would think it’s sensual tropical fruit aromas derives from barriques, but it only spends 6 months in steel tanks and one year in bottle. The wine is summer and sun - happy moments with elderflower, mango and pineapple. Taste is very elastic, free and utterly juicy. Irresistible stuff.

Tonights wine - I have tasted it two times already. 2011 "Les Damodes" from Frederic Cossard. It's absolutely gorgeous. I hope to write something on the blog on Cossard...if I have the time.


While I process all the images from Terres et vins de Champagne – I can share some brief impression of some of the other wines I remember having tasted. The wine in the glass are: 2006 Voeutte et Sorbée “Saignée de Sorbée”

Champagnes:

2006 Voeutte et Sorbée “Saignée de Sorbée”

Not good on opening with an almost aggressive iron, spicy, Campari attack and evn a tannic finish. After half an hour it calms down and the notes sort of dries out, becomes far more interesting – especially the spice section, revealing a more salty expression. One on side, I find it to be an impressive Champagne with quite a character and soil bite, but on my emotional frequency there is a bit of a conflict.

2006 David Léclapart “L’Amateur”

Absolutely beautiful. Maybe not as divine fruit driven as the ’08, but so well build and structured. Drinking perfectly now.

2006 David Léclapart “L’Apôtre”

Somewhat bombastic, but with enormous potential – wait.

2007 Jérôme Prévost “Fac-Simile rosé”

Really surpriced me as I was expecting a far more aged and oxidized Champagne by now. But it’s almost like it has firmed up. The ’07 are really elegant and light and has this dried out herbal line, like verbena – which I really like. Really nice.

NV Selosse “VO”.

Three times From three different disgorgements (2010, ’11 and one from ’08). I preferred the ’10 disgorgement, which felt more focused. There are several TN on this site on this
Champagne and I always like it.

NV Selosse “Rosé” (Disgorged in 2011)

Great that Selosse have taken the dosage down to only 4 grams now. Takes away some of the fatness, sweet pastry notes and makes this Rosé far more salty and firm. Don’t get me wrong it’s still Selosse style, but carries the boldness far better.

NV Selosse “Aÿ La Côte Faron” – (’03 base)

Super concentrated style and easy to guess “Selosse” (I guessed Contraste) with late harvested honeyl, overripe peach, quince and burned caramel. Maybe a fraction more spinal firmness was needed, but I would guess that’s the result of ’03 base.

Whites

2001 Domaine Belluard “Les Alpes” )from Savoie made from 100 % Gringet)

Third time I try this really interesting white wine, which could easily be a candidate for my preferred spring/summer drink. I could best describe it as a mixture of Rieslings fruitiness and high acidity, but it also takes onboard the Traminer grape notes with ginger and licorice. There is an underlying base of cool straw freshness and it’s a very linear wine.

2005 Didier Dagueneau “Silex”

Spectacular racy wine and served with a Asian inspired raw tuna dish made by my good friend Claus...miraculous match and seriously focused wine. Love it.

2011 Domaine des Miroirs (Jura) “Berceau 2011 / Chardonnay)

Really clean and racy and mineral wise reminding me slightly of Alexandre Jouveaux – just in a slimmer version. I will have to taste it again.

Reds

2009 Jean Foillard “Cote du Py”

I have some issues with the ’09 in Beaujolais – it’s too hot, out of balance and this bottle was really dissapointing.

2006 San Giusto a Rentennano “Percarlo”

Coming on a bit too clumsy at first, with way too much burned oak, but with a couple of hours of decanting it started to shine. It’s still what I would call a modern Sangiovese, but so smooth, well balanced and still Italian with lovely notes of leather. Tasted without food, but I’ll bet it would have been even better with food.

2011 Domaine des Miroirs (Jura) “Ja-Nai 2011 / Poulsard”

The color is just outrageous on this one – so light red, almost transparent. The visual treat are in synch with a beautiful and weightless wine (very low alc), combining red fruits, rhubarb and notes of wet autumn leaves. Loved it. 

2010 Ganevat “Cuvée Julien”

I love this wine – so brilliant.

1989 Pichon-Baron

Tasted with good friends. Really fun to have a journey back in “wine-time”…and I can only say read my “Varible no. 32B” on the blog….the wine in itself, analyzes solely from a hard core point of view was really not that great. Dry, square and lifeless.

2006 SQN “Raven”

You can smell and do a few “ooohhhss and ahhhsss” and find it simply fascinating that wine can also be like this. You can even conclude that SQN is not only high-octane wine…some around the table called it “cool tempered” and although that’s taking it a bit far for my palate, I know what they mean. But! – you can’t drink it…or I couldn’t. There is nothing here making me come back for more – the density is still too violent.

Have recently tasted both ’05 and ’06 Blanc d’Argile – two very different Champagnes.

The ’05 have begun to develop traditional autolysis notes with deeper walnut and nutty flavours. Yet this troublesome (typical ’05) rotten potato note is also present. The oak profile is also quit dominant.

The ’06 are a different story. Quite bombastic opening – really intense with raw structure. Evolved beautiful in the glass and the last third revealed a ravishing soil intensity and purity. From ’06 is seems like the oak is far better balanced and only a secondary chord and not the whole orchestra.


Weekend wines…

2009 Demarne-Frison “Lalore” Brut Nature

A Champagne filled with citrus and flowery components. Feels too young at this stage, but has a very fresh and pure profile. The last glass was by far the best.

2008 Bérèche “Rive Gauche” Extra Brut (3 g/l dosage)

Incredible refined Pinot Meunier with enormous acidity bite. Really sophisticated freshness, yet with a deeper and darker fruit baseline. Can easily be enjoyed now, but a couple of years in the bottle should bring these darker phrasings into an even more refined level.

2004 David Léclapart “L’Apotre”

Scary intensity and incredible raw Champagne without any fuzz whatsoever. Doesn’t feel closed, nor does it feel really open – but somewhere in-between. I would give it some more time, simply to balance its bombastic footprint. It has everything it takes to age another 15-20 years.

2010 Domaine Dublére “Volnay Les Pitures”

Incredible sexy and smooth Pinot Noir. Ripe and juicy with an almost sweet liquorices appeal. You can argue whether it’s a fraction too polished and oak dominant, but selling at this reasonable price and drinking really well in good friends company, I didn’t found much reason to complain.

2008 Philippe Pacalet “Chambolle Musigny”

Also incredible charming wine, with classic Pinot tonality. It leans toward a more polished style with a fair amount of oak influence. However I found additional deeper layers and it’s simply so juicy and easy to drink.