Sunday, March 29, 2009

What else in March 2009.....

We had some friends for dinner where I served a Rosé Champagne - 2006 "Oliver Horiot Sève Rosé". Stunning color - looked like extraction of strawberry jam juice with bubbles. Strawberry is also what came to my mind when I first smelled it - but it's currently also a bit rustic with an cool iron note. It showed rather fine bottle evolvement though.

A nice surprise to se0e that I had a bottle of the 1995 Ornellaia left in the cellar. The wine was drinking fair – good classic super Tuscan nose, with a solid good evolved notes of blackcurrant/blackberries, but overall haunted by this 1995 dryness on the palate.
To stay in Tuscany – I had a 2004 Il Carbonaione from Poggio Scalette. The wine is still young, but not inapproachable. It’s in the more muscular Sangiovese section with dark cherries and a good herbal expression. Taste had a good linear feeling with lots of structure for future cellaring and evolvement. Overall I have to say that the wine didn’t touch me that much on the emotional scale - but it should improve with cellaring.

I had a very romantic evening @ restaurant Noma with my wife in March. I have visited Noma at least 10 times and it’s my favorite restaurant in Copenhagen. I even held my wedding there, so every time I approach the restaurant there are certainly good memories coming back to me.

Since I have last visited – the wooden floors have been painted in a dark color which gives the dining room more luxurious touch. I also noted a lot more waiters there and even the kitchen where like a swarm of little chef bees. Now – on paper this is of course a plus, but for my eye it takes some calmness away. I guess it depends on where you sit in the restaurant. In addition at least 10 different waiters approached our table and we switched back from English, Swedish and Danish. Now I can speak and understand all of these languages, and I know over 50% of the guest are foreigners @ Noma, but I can’t say that I know all of the correct food terms in these languages. I see Noma trying to raise the service to achieve *** - it’s probably the right tactic, but since I have visited the place since the very first day they opened, I feel some of the personality is in risk of evaporating. I know it’s naive of little Thomas too feel this way, but I have to say that, if sommelier Pontus hadn’t been – I would have felt a bit lonely.

To top it up – the food was a big disappointment – lacked precision and freshness (not the Greenland shrimps, cream, chlorophyll and white currant granite….that was nice). Some of the combinations were simply not working for me – too weird and really not tasty. The dish Radishes from Lammefjorden Sea weed and egg yolk looked horrible and tasted weird. The Marrow and pickled vegetables Herbs and bouillon were a completely wrong set-up in my opinion.
I always go with the wine menu on such occasions and once again Sommelier Pontus had made very good choices – despite the disappointing food. I particular liked the NV (1999) Champage Brut Nature ’Entre Ciel et Terre’ from Francoise Bedel.

I hope this Noma experience was just a small bump on the road and I will be more satisfied next time I visit.

March has also included a very cozy BYO event @ Pierre André . Good solid French brasserie style with tasty and simple understandable food. We where 4 people sharing 6 wines. Two white Burgundies - a 1990 Chablis La Grenouille from Château de Grenouille. Chalky style with seawater, which is a style I like, but I found the skeleton a fraction too thin here. Overall I was impressed with it's freshness depsite it's age. The other white where a 2002 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet “Folatieres” – off course different in style vs the Chablis, but still a shy “PM”. Some oily elements and smoke on the nose, but not particular giving. I found it a bit dissapointing, when you know what Leflaive can normally achieve. Maybe in a closed phase?
The first red was also the best red – the 2002 “Clos du tart” – still a fairly concentrated wine and not exactly a feminine Burgundy expression, but seriously tasty. The brilliant sweet spices on the nose, which I find exceptional present with the 2002 Vintage. The taste is a loooong curvy palate ride – yummy.
We also had two Bordeaux wines: First up was the 1983 Leoville Las Cases. It opened with a funky and diluted nose of wet fur and cellar. With time it made a small comeback and showed some cedar wood notes, but it died again. I have to say drink up now. The other wine in that flight was better – the 1985 Pichon Comtesse. Showing more nerve with black fruits, cedar wood and tobacco perfumes. Good curl on the tongue, but still a bit rustic. Bordeaux is something that I don’t buy and taste that often these days, but from an objective perspective it’s wonderful wines, even if they don’t move me that much.
No tasting without Champagne – and my contribution this evening was a rather funny bottle. I had brought a Jacques Selosse Champagne – and on the front label, which was what I had paid for – it said “V.O. Version Originale" – on the back label it said “Contraste”. With a light bright golden color coming out of the bottle, if was easy to see, that it was “V.O.” – and what a beauty. Fresh Granny smith apples, baby banana, lime and autolysis yeast notes. On the palate it evolved mild chocolate flavors and drinking fantastic with the selection of French cheeses. Champagne is IT for me – this small get-together just confirmed it (again).

German Riesling is also something I like to drink, as the weather changes to the more friendly side. In March I opened a super electrical 2005 Riesling Spätlese Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube from Dönnhoff. Still a very young wine with lots of adorable and juice baby fat fruit, with pear and peach juice as the main components. Made in a serious luxuries and friendly style, with a knock-out palate explosion. I was meant to keep it for a couple of days, but who can resist, but drinking such a thing with instant pleasure. My dear wife held a birthday party for her best friends (females only) and I was particular happy to see they hadn’t touched the 2003 Hermann Löwenstein “Röttgen GG”, which I had opened in advance for them. With 36 hours of air it did splendid with our Sunday night salmon dish. The wine had an oily style and you think more of Alsace than Mosel here. Spices, caramel, honey and apricot – it sounds more opulent and greasy that it is, but the wines from HL has a brilliant level of energy and somehow they always balance themselves out with a good deal of air. Lovely.

April and spring is next…..I am already smiling….


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Once again - "Initiale"

(Disgorgement date: 26/10-2006)

Yesterday, home alone - I decided to have something to drink. The early spring vibes are buzzing in the air and my appetite for Champagne is even more on the rise. I decided to have a small talk with an old relative; "Initiale" from Jacques Selosse. I find the bottle variations on Initiale rather high on the same disgorgement dates. I don't now how this is, but this was definitely one hell of a good bottle. To copy cat the man himself, Anselme Selosse - I decided to drink the whole bottle from a white wine glass and follow the Champagne over 4 hours. The glass proved to be excellent and I am particular happy with these Spiegelau"Adina" white wines glasses for Champagne. The opening is fresh and delicate with a smooth pear note, covered in a flowery spectrum with biscuits notes as the side orders. The taste is delicious - with an exceptional mouth coating and gentle mousse feeling. From glass 3-4 the Champagne starts to evolve with these biscuits notes taking a step forward - it's adding to the pleasurable side and given it a more luxurious feel. I then took a break (there is after all alchol in Champagne) and returned an hour later. Uhhh...interesting. The bubbles present for the eye has died down in the glass - but the Champagne is more than alive. Sweeter and more expressive, biscuit note is now vanilla and autolysis notes are appearing and in addition a fascinating mandarin note also came forward. On the palate, the mousse has rested itself somewhat, but it's still present and you now feel how high the acidity actually is. Indeed a very nice bottle.
(Tasted 19/3-2009)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Claus Holst's tasting @ Søllerød Kro

My good friend and colleague, Claus Holst, is a passionate wine lower. His preferences most certainly points in the Burgundy direction, and he calls himself a “Pinot man”. But recently he has also been infected with the Champagne virus. So where else to go – but north of Copenhagen to Søllerød Kro - in order to tango with these two classic regions of France.
I have written these lines before and will gladly write them again – restaurant manager of Søllerød Kro; Jan Restorff has, like no other I know of, a unique talent of nursing and hosting his guests. Jan is multitalented in all thinkable areas of food and wine and he will inspire and infect you with his sparkling personality as soon you sit down in the comfortable and cozy surroundings. For me, an evening at Søllerød Kro, is like coming home.
Jan and his staff, was once rocking and had in my opinion one of their best nights ever.

So….the theme of this tasting was more of less leaked by our host and the wines where not tasted blind. All wines are from memory.

First Champagne in the glass was the 1990 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne from Magnum. Now, magnum and Champagne are a combination like no other. In fact one should only buy Champagne from magnum as they are ALWAYS better. This is no exception. I tasted the regular bottle size of ’90 CDC in may-2008 and this magnum was far better. The nose has a delicate vanilla biscuit note, newly washed sheets, honey and Lilly flowers. The nose was definitely rocking, but I wasn’t blown away – the taste was however majestic; fresh as hell, with a tickly, chalky and vibrant mousse – yummy…good start.

Next wine – the 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil. It really hurts to write these lines, but the wine was corked – almost unbearable.

Oh well life goes on and plan B was set in motion. Replacement was found – the 1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil. The wine is young – really young. First nose impression is chalk and seawater. Our food was Potato with lumpsucker, roe, cucumber, and cress. Restaurant manager, Jan Restorff quickly improvised by drizzling finely chopped oyster over the dish to match the maritime notes. It worked really great, but the wine was still rather shy. When then decided to rest Champagne some time and continue with the white wines, so – to be continued……

White wines:

2002 Etienne Sauzet Chevalier Montrachet
2000 Jadot “Montrachet”
2000 D'Auvenay Mersault “Narvaux”
2004 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet

Now apparently, there is a saying among my wine group that I don’t like white Burgundy. That’s not true – I just like Champagne better, he he ;-).

The Sauzet was lovely – had a great delicate toasted note and a tickly personality. My WOTF.
I didn’t fancy the Jadot. Its oxidative style makes it exotic and clumsy, especially on the palate. Lacks freshness and acidity. The 2000 D'Auvenay Mersault “Narvaux” was a panel splitter. Some took notice of a note which reminded them of sulfur. I think we came to the conclusion that it was not sulfur as D'Auvenay is Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy winery, but a biodynamic oak phenomenon (big boys, big conclusions). Anyway, the note didn’t turn me off. The wine was rather tight and linear with a flowery touch which made it like a fresh breeze. The glass evolvement was constantly on the rise and just before I finished my 4 glasses it had almost caught up with Sauzet.
The 2004 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet seemed to be caught in an awkward phase and never really showed anything but greenish notes.

…..and the 1996 Clos du Mesnil was pulled back on stage. Still tightly packed but slowly toast, flowers and vanilla emerges. The depth is really something else here – deep complex layers with impressive majestic concentration. The acidity is seriously scary – cut with laser precision and it almost hurts when you sink it. You now realize that it’s made to cellar and claim its fame in 15-25 years from now.
Luckily the Champagne party wasn’t over yet. 1990 Dom Perignon Rosé enters – first time I taste the Pinky DP. What a beauty. Stunning perfumes of salty apricot, blood oranges and red berries held in a concentrated and highly complex fruit core. This is exactly the kind of Rosé I favor; where the red perfume is single floral element to the Champagne, but still, you can tell that it is Champagne – not red wine with bubbles - understand? The taste is incredible fresh with a solid structure and concentrating – but yet presented in such an elegant manner. It will certainly last for many years, but pretty hard to resist now.

Now it was time for some red Burgundy.

First two reds where:

2002 Mugnier Musigny “Amoureuses”
2002 Vogue Musigny “Amoureuses”

Both incredible wines, but certainly different. The Mugnier: light in color with the most awesome, fragile and sensible raspberry skin note. Vogue: Still these Amoureuses perfumes, but a meatier wine with a higher intensity. Our Host, which is a far more experienced Burgundy drinker than yours truly, favored the Mugnier for its true nature to the Appellation. Personally I was a little bit split – the sheer magnitude of depth favored the Vogue. But, the highly, almost weightless drinking pleasure of Mugnier certainly took its points. Let’s call it a tie and a luxury problem to choose among such beauties.

Now the next red flight was really interesting, as we had the same duelist in the glasses, but the vintage and appellation was changed. A great study in the art of terroir.

2001 Mugnier, Musigny
2001 Vogue, Musigny

Now I don’t have the exact feel on the vintages in Burgundy, but I think the panel, with the consultancy of Jan Restorff, came to the conclusion that 2001 is a highly underrated vintage. These two wines are still beautiful red berry perfumed, but simply bigger and more complex in style, compared to the Amoureuses. The sweetness is more pronounced with the fruit core being infected with sweet sticky cherry notes, where the Amoureuses has the red berry scents as “outer” perfumes. The 2001 vintage shows this brilliant minerality and the wines subtle concentrated (can you say that?) - Gorgeously fresh and very graceful. The Vogue is once again the most powerful and in this case it gains the trophy as the winner of this glorious flight. This is the essence of red Burgundy and I can certainly understand why so many wines lowers fall fainthearted to the soul of these wines.

The last official red Burgundy flight:

2004 La Tâche, DRC
2001 Cros Parantoux, Meo Camuzet

Think the wines actually split the panel here. Which one was best? Again, change of style with the berry scents now taking form of black cherries and the La Tâche with its more smoky and meaty style. La Tâche had an unbalanced herbal/greenish note, which with time resolved somewhat, but never evaporated completely. Still it’s certainly a decent wine, but not selling at a decent price. Meo, better – but I think we all suffered from hangovers from the previous flight -which was breathtaking.
A blind passenger sneaked onto this flight. I believe it was the 2002 Domaine Serene “Evenstad Reserve” from Oregon, US. Certainly it was beaten, by such classic and complex wines and rather clumsy in comparison. But it should be noted that its cost price is 1/10 of La Tâche

I believe as much as 3 other wines spontaneously entered the program – all red Burgundy. Forgive for not being able to offer you detailed names and descriptions on these wines, but I seem to have reached to my limits. But like my two lovely daughters, which can always eat candy or ice cream when completely full – daddy here can always drink Champagne. And so – a Champagne hits the glasses; the NV "Origine" from Jacques Selosse.”Origine” has now changed its name to “Substance” but it’s basically the same wine. Anyway the disgorgement was from 1999 and the Champagne was beautiful. Surprisingly fresh and a surprise because Substances tends to be somewhat meatier and oxidative from release, so naturally I would have expected to see more of this with bottle age. The Champagne was seriously vinous and had this luxuries feel with seductive evening perfume, quince, honey and even a pure simple flowery note.


Surprice from Søllerød: Tartar – Caviar – pouched egg and herbs.
Potato with lumpsucker, roe, cucumber, and cress
Roasted brill with Jerusalem artichoke, apple, Macadamia nuts, and browned butter
Roasted langoustine with carrot and lemon
Monkfish - celery – mushrooms
Pasta – Parmesan – Truffles
Guinea fowl with roasted duck foie gras and pepper jus

A very memorable evening comes to an ending. We simply skipped Søllerød famous desserts –sometimes less is more – even if I feel some pain in my head today.

Claus, thank you for spoiling us with exceptional wines.

For more information on Søllerød Kro - click here

PS. There a more pictures here They are shot without flash and under very dimmed lightning and while yours truly busy talking with new/old faces and sniffing the wine goodies.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coming up....

12/3-2009: Holst's tasting @ Søllerød Kro (Champagne & Burgundy)
21/3-2009: Having dinner @ Noma
26/3-2009: BYO @ Pierre André
+ The weekly wines - mainly Champagne....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2005 Vouette et Sorbée, "Blanc d'Argile", Champagne

(Deg. 15/1-2008; Glasses Spiegelau Adina and Zalto Champagne)

I had high expectations before I popped the cork on this Champagne. The 2004 Blanc d'Argile, which I tasted Dec-2008 - was the simple reason for my eager thirstiness to taste this; 2005. The opening of the Champagne is like coming home, and I am slowly beginning to see a pattern emerging, when I encounter a pure and fragile Blanc de Blanc like this. The 2005 is a bit more expressive and rounder, compared to the more linear 2004. In style I would always favor the profile of the 2004. However, all components are in place for the 2005, and with time it will gain the same finesse like the 2004. The super pure and vibrant nose holds a big field of flowers, anise, and dried banana. There is also a brilliant creaminess,which takes its shape of freshly grinded butter and it basically holds all of the components together and takes them to higher ground. Taste is still on the young side, but still immensely appetite, with remarkable Chablis character and acidity. Given the high acidity, it should age really well and it's for sure a great food matching friend. It's simply impossible to say anything bad about this Champagne.

For more information about this brilliant small producer:

Tasted 9/3-2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2004 David Léclapart, L’Alchimiste Rosé, Champagne

(Glasses; Spiegelau Adina White wine and Zalto Champagne)

This is not your everyday tutti frutti Rosé style Champagne. In some aspects this Rosé Champagne is off the charts, and not all of it is good. Let’s take a closer look. The colour is really deep red with a fascinating glowing appearance. Already here you begin suspect that we have left the normal boring bonanza category. The nose is seriously intense with raspberry skin, iron, dried apricot, white pepper and it’s completely bone dry. Now on paper this sound really nice, and it is – but there is a slightly oxidation giving it an almost sherry character, which I am not particular fond of. Take one step further and then you get the next dilemma – the taste. The Champagne has tannins, seriously. I was warned about this, by a very skilled Danish sommelier and I have to confess that I didn’t take my precautions when matching it with proper food. Ah well, I made a seafood pasta dish, with mainly crayfish tails and flavour wise it did well, but the taste was simply too strong (my mistake). So I rested it for a while and had 1/3 of the bottle without food. Hmmmm, for sure fascinating stuff with immensely concentrating, but I prefer when a Rosé shows fragile red perfumes and I really missed the Leclapart elegance here.

It’s really hard to come to a conclusion here. I love to taste it with proper food. The importer suggested a poultry dish with a mustard and estragon sauce (make perfect sense). But again – how will this oxidation/sherry note evolve? Can finesse come out?
Tasted 7/3-2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back from London

(Picture from

I visit London at least once a year on business. I’ll spare you with details from my business meetings and stick to the wine stuff, as I do get something to eat and drink while I am away from home.

I tasted and “old relative” the first evening there; the 1986 Cos d'Estournel. Even though I rarely taste Bordeaux and have stopped buying it since 1995 – I still recognize the quality of the wines. The 1986 Cos d’Estournel was dead handsome and perfectly mature for my palate.

London is packed with fine restaurants, but apparently I always end up at The Ledbury in Notting Hill The food is spot on and very tasteful. It’s not in the same league as my two favourites here in Copenhagen; Noma Geranium – but it’s definitely nice. The service is dedicated, professional and the sort you never really notice, but it’s there. The restaurant is located in a very cosy neighbourhood, with good shopping opportunities. Even the Diane von Fustenberg shop is just few meters away – if we have any females in the audience. Also, a brilliant bar there; Beach Blanket Babylon which makes the best Apple martini in town.
But, as yours truly is a wine nerd, the best thing about The Ledbury is their fair priced Wine list – and especially the Champagne selection. I had set my eyes on the Vouette et Sorbée “Blanc d’Argile” on magnum, but unfortunately it was sold out. We then tried the Selosse Rosé – which is not a favourite of mine, but I really wanted to try it again. Definitely better than my previous bottle, but I still think it’s missing out of the purity and fragile account and it’s a bit too sweet with warmth in the glass. I understand that Selosse is seeking to lower the dosage in future on his Rosé and from my view it’s a good choice. We also had the Contraste from Selosse – a Champagne I have tasted many times. For me it never fails and it’s certainly among my favourite of the Selosse portfolio and it did exceptional well with the cheese. But we had a third Champagne, and a real knock out one for me. The very limited D’ailleurs from Jerome Prevost. A wine, according to Peter Liem, only made two times – in 2000 and 2003. Basically it’s the same wine as "La Closerie", but it spends another year on oak. The interesting thing about this wine was that it had some bottle age and it’s the first time I get the chance to see how bottle ages infects the wines from Prevost. The wine was mysterious, vinous and had an uncompromising energy of loaded deep fruit with brilliant freshness – simply stunning stuff.

We had no white wines that evening, but once again we had an interesting wine from SQN – the 1998 Sine Qua Non “Veiled”, Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard. You have to have a lexicon to keep track of the SQN wines – but the wine was really delicious. It had a sweet seducing Pinot Noir nose – really cool tempered and easy to drink. I sometimes find these overseas Pinot Noir wines to hold too much alcohol and have an almost plastic sweetness – which is the result of a smooth and sweet fruit core, blended with alcohol. In this case, everything was beautiful integrated with age and it was the best red of the evening.
Other reds; 2002 Clos Vougeot, Robert Arnoux – seemed somewhat closed on the nose, but showed potential on the palate.
Also another US wine; 2006 Saxum Broken Stones (63% Syrah, 24% Grenache, and 13% Mourvedre). When having drunk such elegant wines over the evening, this wine seemed a bit clumsy in my opinion – it didn’t fancy it – but it could easily benefit from a lot more decanting and cellaring.