Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Back from Champagne
Would you believe it? This is my first visit to the Champagne region, but certainly not my last. If I had a Champagne bug inside me before this visit, I now have at least 2.
Over the coming weeks I will do a short story on each of the producers we visited;
Bérèche et fils
Plus I will make a short description on two of the dinners we had there; http://www.labriqueterie.fr/ and http://www.lescrayeres.com/ .
I wish I had a better range of pictures to present to you, but paying attention to a passionate wine producer and taking in depth pictures at the same time is pretty challenging. On top of that we had a rather tight schedule and there where no real opportunities to make stops on the way to shoot the beautiful landscape. Enough whining – there is a still a few goodies among the range, which I hopefully can present at the end of the week.
Overall I would say that coming back from a visit to wine producers, has always made a strong impression on me. The fascination of seeing nature, man and skilled wine making is vitality for most wine lowers. Most of the people I have met behind the labels have strong personalities and are in general very humble people. With Champagne, which on some levels holds a lot of paradoxes, as the massive commercialization and branding of Champagne in general creates a false interpretation of Champagne being a “thing” and not a wine. Luckily it was a real relief to see that this region is no different from others, if you pay attention and look the right places. Among many, but especially the visit to David Léclapart put a thick line under of Champagne being a subtle and majestic wine (when in the right hands) and not all that fluff of protein free air.
But more and that later - so stay tuned as they say.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
2006 Cédric Bouchard "Les Ursules" Champagne
A traditional wine tasting note often takes its form of describing the aromatic notes of - first the bouquet and - secondly the taste. Personally I don’t use it so schematic – even though I am aware of this formula. With 2006 Les Ursules in the glass - this form is not at all easy – because the Champagne is so unique.
I knew it would be a slow starter, so I was not surprised to stick my nose in a tightly packed and somewhat bombastic fruit core. The only notes escaping are raw - black – almost slate character minerals, which gives the wine a spicy touch. With time – we are talking +30 minutes here, red currant is coming out, black cherries – I think….you see…the fruit core here is so complex and this is not something you see everyday, so for the first time I am not so sure what I saw, but I tell you I liked it. I would even go as far as including a note of diamond dust – even though I don’t have a clue how that would smell – it’s just a metaphor for describing something incredible mineral intense, but at the same time very sleek. The taste has a lot red currant; minerals, spices, elegance, concentration and I could go on and on – the personality is so strong. I would seriously recommend you to cellar this, but if you want to try it now – do give it some time to open op and be prepared to spend 3-4 hours with it. What else – better than the 2005 Vintage, because the components has better “space” between them, which makes them more focused and overall it’s creates a more refined and balanced wine.
Overall – I think this Champagne is something else – spectacular different and highly intellectual to drink. I am eager and almost can’t wait to taste how it will evolve – I suspect it will be intriguing sophisticated and with even more mysterious complexity.
For more information about Cédric Bouchard / Roses de Jeanne – click here:
Saturday, April 11, 2009
All these wine notes, or should I call them reflections, are from memory (or lack of it).
Let's start with the Champagne, because this weather is making me seriously thirsty for the world's best beverage. My parents stopped by and I chose to serve them a rather nice bottle of Champagne. Before I go into details it's tasted under very relaxed circumstances and I didn't even have time to take a proper picture. Anyway - the Champagne in hand was the Cuvée Extra Brut Réserve from Raphaël Bérèche. A Champagne made in a classic blend of 50 percent pinot noir, 25 percent meunier and 25 percent chardonnay. Dosage is 2-3 g/L and all this information is available on the back label. The Champagne has good healthy surplus of juicy apples, citrus and smoke. The taste is fresh, elegant, friendly, giving, but also with a rather high acidity attack, making it very food friendly. My parents loved it and I was also rather pleased.
I am slowly cleaning my cellar from these Super Tuscans - meaning that they are for sale (wanna buy some?....I didn't think so) and those who can't be sold (which is almost all of them) I drink. With a classic evening of Cibi e Vini finest antipasti selections I chose the 1997 "Sammarco" from Castello dei Rampolla. Now - I am actually a pretty big fan of CdR, as they make really classic and true Tuscan born wines despite the international blends (Sammarco is a 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese). Sammarco and particular its big brother "d'Alceo" are made to age and they are usually rather tannic when young. Some of this roughness also lured on the nose when I opened the 1997 Sammarco. I decided to decant for 2 hours. With the rather recent tasted 1997 Solaia I noticed an inner warm fruit core and it's also here in Sammarco. For me this is somewhat disturbing, but I guess it's also a sweet spot for some as it holds a lot of lush a charming fruit. However Sammarco has loads of structure with sneaks itself all the way to the nose and it also has these brilliant Tuscan herbs, which I seriously like. Otherwise I saw too much boring Cabernet scents of blackcurrant, cigar box and smoke. The taste has lots of structure and I can easily see it age at least for another decade - but I have to be concerned of the warm element of the nose.
I also tasted the 1999 Ornellaia. I have to say that the wine was seriously nice – despite it’s somewhat boring Bordeaux blend (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc). The intensity and nerve of this wine is something else. You find the usual blackcurrant notes with some toasted oak, but also lots of Italian touches like fresh herbs and warm Tuscan earth. The best part was however and rather linear note of menthol, which almost took form of mint later. This note just infected the other parts of the wine and gave it edge and class. The taste is firm, incredible fresh and precise – really nice I tell you. If you are lucky to hold this wine – you can slowly begin to drink it now + 7 years.
In a complete different red wine category I had a 2006 “La Plante Chassey” from Domaine Derain in Burgundy. Ballerina light and feminine red berry scented wine with: silky raspberry skin, rubber and in general a very ethereal wine. If you are looking for more refined red wine, for summer drinking, this might be it – I will certainly buy some more.
I had a really nice surprise when I opened the Spanish 2004 "Trio Infernal 2/3" from Priorat. Surprise, because the wine had changed so much since I first tasted it about 2 years ago. I can't help to reflect somewhat on this wine and how it came to be that I liked it so much. First of all its nose consists of crushed blackcurrant, blackberries, black cherries and even dark chocolate. Usually such notes will have me saying - "been there, done that"...."Now serve me a real wine". But there was something here and underlying nerve, linearity and a cool element - which was pronounced with an herbal expression. The taste confirmed this aspect as it's drinking really well. Brilliant wine – which can already be enjoyed now. A funny note about the glass I drank with this wine. I initially chose the "Tinto Riserva" from Riedel Sommeliers line, but there I got a much darker and concentrated wine. With Zalto Bordeaux I archived a lot more freshness and the herbal expression. I ended up drinking it from Zalto.
With the arrival of spring the thirst of a chilled wine brings out some of these German Rieslings I have. I chose the 2001 "Riesling Spätlese Bürgergarten 2134" from Müller-Catoir. The wine made exactly the same maneuver as last time I tasted it. It opened up with breathtaking, lush and incredible precise fruit - but the closed down in the glass. On day 3 it was still rather shy. The only transformation, since I last tasted it about a year ago, was the more dominant notes of petrol.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I definitely see a link between the passion of wine and photography. The old cliché of capturing a moment works both with good wine memories and the visualization affect of a picture. The two combined makes it not only a strong tool for communicating, but a passion of food and wine is also a mind game of sense and visualization awareness.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
2002 Jacques Lassaigne "Millésime"
There are several paths which lead to please the mind of a wine taster. Like a work of art – if it’s a movie, painting, photograph or a glass of Champagne the ability to reach a cheering audience, has endless recipes. The recipes I like the most, are the ones which uses the fewest means to reach its audience. This Champagne is in that category.
This 2002 Vintage has just been released – 1½ year later than the 2003 vintage. As I understand it, Jacques Lassaigne where particular satisfied with his ‘02 vintage and postponed the release in order to give it even more nuances. Who can blame him – the result is pure dynamite.
Really elegant nose, so much class here – with honey melon, sour dough, flowers and loads of underlying brushes of mineral linearity. Taste follows up – no fuss at all, incredible pure, strong and firm acidity which keeps everything rank and really graceful presented. Nothing is overstated here. There is simply no need to show off - all of the components are presented at the right subtle tone with exceptional balance. Brilliant Champagne - selling at a very fair price.
For more information on Jacques Lassaigne – click here