Sunday, November 30, 2008

BYO Champagne and Red wine

This Thursday I met with Mia & Mads Rudolf ( and my good friends, Holst and Anders @ Fischers.

Concept for this get-together was simple; bring 1 Champagne and 1 red wine. All wines where tasted blind.

We started with the bubbles and the first wine in the glass where a typical Mia & Mads wine – extremely pure and biodynamic driven. The nose of this wine was still young, but with adorable fresh apples, flowers and dried fruits (especially banana). The taste is quit dramatic; painful young and rather bombastic compared to the nose and it gives you this; “what happened here?”. But the taste is a bit unbalanced at this stage. The wine in the glass was 2004 David Leclapart “Apotre”. Even though I hate error 40 excuses and lectures about how to taste a wine – I would still say that Apotre is not a wine you have 1-2 glasses of and then make your judgement. Drink a whole bottle – then you will see. Anyway – 2004 Apotre will be released in March-2009 and I look forward to a real date.

Next wine, was Anders bubbly contribution – a 1989 Schramsberg “J. Schram” from Napa Valley and what a shift from Leclapart. The wine had an oozing nose of caramel, honey and cognac – 3 ingredients known to show up in the dosage and this non-Champagne was fun to taste to show diversity, but it didn’t taste good.

Next in line – Holst. “This is just a plain ordinary daily Champagne”, Holst warned us, he he big boys don’t cry, Holst ;-). The wine in hand – “1996 Bollinger R.D” and what a beauty. Very much apples, citrus, flowers and some darker fruits. Superb fresh and really a very seductive wine. Has splendid vibrant acidity, but can easily be drunk now. Bollinger seldom disappoints.

Next Champagne was Mia’s contribution – a very refined wine, with some darker fruits patterns and spices in comparison with Leclapart. It took us in the direction of guessing Blanc de Noirs, but no – once again a Blanc de Blanc. This refined wine was the 2002 'Les Chênes' extra brut, Cumières 1. cru, Domaine Georges Laval. We had it side by side to “R.D.” and it was certainly giving big boy Bollinger a competitive opponent. Bollinger winning with its seductive and creamy side, and Georges Laval taking the trophy in the mysterious category.

Finally my contribution – 1989 Deutz Blanc de Blanc Vinoteque. Next to the previous flight, the wine seemed awkward and of course rather evolved. It almost smelled of cheese and as we where a bit behind schedule, we rested it for later (cheese plate). It did well with the cheese, but in comparison with the Champagne line-up so far – it fell behind in my opinion.


First person on the scene – Mia; - with wine that took us all by storm. What a nose – incredible perfume with lavender, strawberry and an Eau de Toilette with roses. Taste was so smooth and delicate, and you simply had to smile. Guesses quickly took form of “Pinot” – “Burgundy” and I heard the name Leroy being mentioned. Mia played along and asked for appellations in Burgundy. But no – we where not in Burgundy, but in Alsace. I think the trick here was once again a biodynamic producer, and most importantly a brilliant wine. The wine; 2004 Heissenstein pinot noir vieilles vignes, sans souffre, Domaine Julien Meyer. Production on this wine is around 800 bottles.

Next in line – Anders - and what a comeback. 1990 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis – Mads said it perfectly “Mama” – when he smelled this glorious Barolo. It’s simply so Italian, so divine, so refined and with so many complex layers and personality. Majestic wine.

Hard to follow this wine – and Mads was next. Again a wine with this red fruit pattern, but this time more restrain and cooler tempered. Taste a bit short, but still fair. The wine is the glass; The red wine from David Leclapart; 1999 Cuvée l'Eden, Coteaux Champenois

My turn – 1997 Antinori Solaia. I tasted Solaia 3 weeks ago at my friend Claus Lysters big tasting and was stunned by its beauty. This night – still a seductive wine of high class with smooth and delicate fruit, but I missed the final edge from good to great. But overall, Solaia is a fantastic wine.

Holst – the next man on stage. A wine, where I found a dilemma between nose vs taste. The nose is infected with a lot of heat, which results in bacon, flesh and almost pain grille. Notes that I dislike a lot. Taste is on the other hand beautiful – lots of structure, good concentration and this brilliant curl around the tongue. The wine; 2005 Soldera “Pegasus”. Now when knowing this, one has to be aware of Soldera aging potential, especially when it comes to his BdM. So things might integrate better. But currently this wine is not a pleasure in my book (when it comes to the nose).

So know it’s starting to blur a bit on memory lane – but Mads served another wine. A very interesting Côte-Rotie: 2004 Coteaux de Tupin, Jean-Michel Stephan.
To end this cozy evening, Mia pulled the cork from another Champagne : Once again a refined thing with lots of personality. The Champagne in hand; NV Reflets d'Antan, Raphaël Bérèche – Champagne done under the Solera principal – as some might know it from Selosse’s Substance. Very nice indeed – I have to taste it again some day.

Thank you all for making this evening a great memory – I have the feeling we will meet again ;-).

Big hug from,


Saturday, November 22, 2008

2001 Elio Altare, Barolo Arborina, Piemonte, Italy

I actually tasted this wine about 2 weeks ago @ my good friend Claus Lysters big tasting event. Arborina didn’t do well at that tasting, but there where so many wines there and I have recently read some positive vibes about it – so why not take a test drive. The opening of the wine was horrible. The 4 hours of Decanting in the massive Riedel Ultra decanter didn’t help one bit and the wine was so alcoholic that I nearly couldn’t drink it. I have recently become overly allergic to alcohol wines – I simply can’t stand them anymore and registrar it as a fault every time I smell a “rat” ;-). I rested half of the wine for day 2. Ahhh – so much better, with forest, black fruits, black cherries, plum and dried spices. Now – plum is a note that I dislike – it reminds me of alcohol, and it kills the purity. The taste was a bit funny – smooth and warm on one side, and on the other side, with this Barolo overload of dry extract. I analyze it this way; way too young still – bottle evolvement constantly on the rise (positive), but I am so much missing purity, elegance and backbone acidity. I remain concerned if this wine will ever hit my preference, but time will tell.

Glasses: I shifted between Riedel Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru and Zalto Burgundy. One day one I chose Riedel – Zalto was simply making the wine seem even more alcohol and even stronger on the palate. Riedel – with the “acidity barriers” toned down the alcohol, but impossible to tone down the monster entirely. One day 2 – the plum and black fruits was smooth and delicate in the Riedel glass, but totally missing the lovely dried spices. In Zalto you got the spices and an overall better Barolo expression. In general you have to focus a lot more in Riedel on day 2 – where Zalto delivers immediately. The taste was however marginal better in Riedel.

2000 Vilmart, Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé, Champagne

(Glass; Zalto Champagne)

Strange opening – virtually closed, with a bizarre - almost sweet candy feeling and an elastic fruit core feeling, giving it a balance problem. Glass 2 - much better, but still holding back somewhat, but the fruit core is firming up and the sweetness starts to integrate, transforming and taking form of red berries and spices. From glass 3 and forward the Champagne starts to unfold its trademark – its link to red Burgundy. It’s literally like drinking a red Burgundy with bubbles, and can’t help smiling a little bit about this. But currently this 2000 is not giving that much – I found myself struggling a little bit with the taste – it’s incredible smooth and elegant and the bubbles rising in the glass are among the finest and the most microscopically I have ever seen. But the mineral snap is certainly missing here and combined with the spicy notes on the nose and taste, I feel it’s showing signs of a sleeping phase. I will cellar my remaining bottles 4-5 years more.
Tasted 21/11-2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2002 Leclerc-Briant "Divine", Champagne

(Glass, Zalto Champagne)

This Champagne is disappointing. The nose is rather opulent with an oozing nose of oak (lots of it), vanilla, banana, sour cream, smoke (grilled notes) and over mature apples. These notes combined gives a profile of which I haven't seen anything like it before. The level of sweetness here is one of a kind, and I simply don’t like it – it’s weird and out of balance. In addition – every time I poured a new glass, I hoped for this combo to be somewhat altered or at least showing signs of shifting in a opposite direction or putting on new layers – but no, it’s a monotonous overcoat infected the champagne from start to finish – so sad. Only hope, the taste is fair, apples and a fair creaminess. The advice from here – don’t drink now.

(Tasted 15/11-2008)

NV Selosse "Rosé", Champagne

(Glass Zalto)

Click on the picture….thirsty…?? Okay so I have adjusted the picture a bit in Photoshop to make the bottle seem even more mouth watering. And what was it that I once said about champagne?? ”When you learn to think of Champagne as a wine, not a thing – then you will realize how great a wine it is” ;-).

Anyway – this is Selosse somewhat controversial Rosé. Controversial because even the most Selosse addicted fans finds his Rosé the black sheep of his collection. So let’s take a deeper look of what inside this extremely sexy bottle. The nose is deep bound with notes of sweet biscuits, raspberries, currant (giving almost iron like warmth), strawberry, and exotic passion fruits. The taste is long and muscular. Sounds nice - right?...but not really. There is a problem – the oak. The oak is probably giving the ravishing sweet biscuit note, that I really adore smelling, but it’s simply kills the finesse as it spreads all over the Champagne and makes it too heavy. Having said that – and had this been a red wine, I would probably had a hard time finishing the bottle. But this is Champagne and the drinking pleasure is always at a high plateau – see that’s what makes it the world’s best drink (Yes yes…I have said it before ;-) ).

Bonus info – can’t really see when this bottle was disgorged, but I have a suspicion that it was not totally fresh (bought it from the same man who sold me the Extra Brut (see previous TN)). The critics of Selosse Rosé claim that the oak is more pronounced with age – so let’s see if there is a difference, should I stumble over a newly disgorged bottle someday.

Tasted 14/11-2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

NV Selosse Extra Brut, Champagne

(Disg. 2/4-2005 – Glass Zalto Champagne)

I have tasted Extra Brut from Selosse over 25 times. Bottle variations are enormous, and I found this bottle to be in the lower end.
Still it’s a nice offering, with smooth delicate fruits of; hay, walnuts, quince and exotic flowers. Problem here is the intensity, which is lacking somewhat and I found it to be struggling with enough concentration, which is rare when we talk about Selosse. Almost like the bottle was too old?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lysters Private Tasting

(All wines are from memory – I didn’t take any notes)

Claus’ personal tasting was held at his house with *Mikkel Maarbjerg spoiling us with exceptional food. (*Mikkel Maarbjerg is the former Co-owner of ** Michel star restaurant Ensemble).

As soon as I had set foot in Claus’ home a glass of Champagne was in my hand – the 1993 Vilmart Couer de Cuvée, from magnum. An electrical Champagne with supernatural powers, smoke, melted butter, flowers, sweet biscuits and anise – an incredible glass of Champagne, which is fully mature, but still has many years of life left. Champagne and magnum once again proved to be a magic combination.

The first flight was Riesling from Alsace – we all guessed it, as the glasses were oozing with petrol. The flight was also narrowed down to Trimbach as the style where classic and tight. The wines in hand were Cuvée Frederic Emilie 1990 and 2001. 1990 was bar far the better of the two and a very harmonic classic Riesling. The 2001 seemed to be in a sleeping phase – not an uncommon phenomenon with the wines from Trimbach, which have a long lifespan and frequently closes down. The food to this flight was phenomenal, mackerel with a high acidity oil on the plate.

Next flight lured us to believe that we had two Pinot Gris in the glasses with notable change in color and both wines where oilier in style. However, as the wines warmed up in the glasses the acidity came forward, so some started to guess Riesling from Alsace again – which was the right answer. The two wines where both from 2001 and both from Zind Humbrecht – “Brand” and “Rangen”. Brand was my favorite and I have tasted this 2001 once before and it’s seriously one of the best Zind Humbrecht wines I have tasted. So well define and nowhere near to be over the top as I usually find many of his wines from this producer. Rangen was also good – but a bit more opulent in style.

Then we moved into Red wine country.

This is one of the flights I will never forget, when it comes to food and wine combination. But let’s start with the wines first – which all where guessed to be Super Tuscan born – correct once again. 3 Solaia’s where in our glasses; 1997, 2001 and 2004. The 1997 was incredible sexy and the favorite among the panel – my personal darling where the 2001, which in my opinion offered better purity and acidity. The 2004 was still shy and no way near ready to drink. This flight was a reminder, that despite the commercial role of Antinori, Solaia is still one of Tuscany’s leading wines and it has so much class to offer. For me it’s by far a better wine compared Tignanello.
Food – monkfish, béarnaise sauce from a chiffon bottle and sweet onions with Solaia…disaster you would think, but NO – it was one of the most incredible matches I have ever had. The vinegar of the sauce went straight in and the tender and juicy fish matched the lush Solaia fruit – simply unbelievable.

Next flight – well Claus plan to tease had failed so far, as we had been pretty good to guess the wines, but with the next flight, he won. Guesses was flying all around in the wrong directions, but once again 3 Solaia’s where served; 1988, 1985 and 1990. I have tasted the 1985 before and this bottle was not in perfect shape, same problem with the 1988 – but the 1990 was singing. Once again Solaia showed gracefulness and proved its status of a beautiful wine.

We then moved into Barolo madness and even if Claus’ here again tried to trick us, we did manage to stay on the path and guessed Piemonte over and over again. I can’t go into all of the wines, simply because I can’t remember them all.

Here is the list of the Barolo’s:

Sandrone Le Vigne 2004
Sandrone Cannubi Boschis 2004
Conterno Romaresco 2004
Altare Arborina 2001
Aldo Conterno Cicala 2001
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto 2001
Paolo Scavino Rocche Dell' Annunziata Riserva 2001
Aldo Conterno Gran Bussia 2001
Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 2001
Clerico Percristina 1996
Paolo Scavino Rocche Dell' Annunziata Riserva 1996
Aldo Conterno Gran Bussia 1996
Aldo Conterno Cicala 1989

Clearly the 2004’s where way too young, but still some of them gave some hints. I especially liked the 2004 Cannibi Boschis from Sandrone, which is still incredible shy – but you already sense the style, which is extremely elegant. Its sister – Le Vigne was on the other hand a bit clumsy in comparison. The wines from Aldo Conterno where the easiest to pick out. They have a higher level of sweetness and for some, that sweetness was a killer, but for others a plus. I like the wines from Aldo Conterno a lot, even if I agree that they are less intellectual. If you like 2001 Cicala, you will like 2004 Romirasco which is an extremely charming wine, but more elegant than Cicala.

The 2001 Granbussia was also fantastic – it had been decanted probably and was really performing well.

2001 Cascina Francia had an incredible intensity and was also among my favorites. The 2001 Giacosa has a disturbing note of medicine, which I didn’t like, but the taste was good.
2001 Altare "Arborina" was a disappointment (see recent TN)

The 1996 flight had many fans. I found Granbussia far best. The opponents; Clerico and Scavino had way too much oak for my palate.

In between the Barolo madness – we had NV Selosse “V.O.” – think the disgorgement date was from 2006 – simply delicious and classic Selosse. Version Originale is certainly better if you give it 2-3 years of bottle age.

The last bottles of the evening was 1989 A. Conterno “Cicala” and 1989 Pegau -, but I have to admit, that my ability to drink and judge more was over.
I can’t even remember the dessert wine a 1995 Brand Riesling Vendage Tardive.

Our tastings normally have between 16-20 wines, but 28 bottles Lyster – ARE YOU NUTS???!!!!!

Anyway thank you for spoiling us rotten, my friend – it only took me 2 days to recover ;-)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

2001 Querciabella, "Camartina", Tuscany, Italy

(Glass; Riedel Sommeliers Bordeaux Grand Cru)

For the second day in a row I went down the Tuscan IGT-road – this time the highly praised Camartina from Querciabella. Camartina is a 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Sangiovese wine and since 2000 Querciabella is certified biodynamic wine producer. Why do I give you this information – well, there is something extraordinary pure and refined about this wine. Its starts off with a shy and sealed nose of Tuscan herbal overload – for me this is simply stunning even it’s not so fruit rewarding. But with air, the wine opens up and transforms. Some of this transformation is on paper not my cup of the, as the aromas kicks off in the direction of black cherries and plum. The plum aroma is under normal circumstances a total turn off to me, as it reminds me of alcohol infected wines and it simply kills the purity. However here – it’s alright, as the wine is really refined and you especially fell it when you taste - dead elegant and very pleasurable. I can’t help to compare this wine with Paleo from Le Macchiole, not that they are alike, far from it – but I can’t help to ask myself, why this boring blend?...what if Camartina where perhaps a 100% Cabernet Franc wine?….I think it would suit the style of this winemaker, the elegance and fresh Tuscan expression is there…just a thought – great wine BTW.