Monday, August 31, 2009

Benoît Tarlant

This Saturday I attended a Champagne tasting @ Skaal, where Champagne producer Tarlant was introduced. To present the house was Benoît Tarlant, which is the current winemaker and represents the newest generation of Tarlant. Benoît is constantly curious to make better wines and re-think the way there has been made wine on the 14ha of Land in the Tarlant belongings since 1687. His debut wine was the 1999 Vignes d’or – a wine made from 50-year old Pinot Meunier vines (more on that later) and the Tarlant family even has the rarity of ungrafted vines which has resulted in the release of Vignes d’Antan – which we also tasted this day. To spice up the excitement factor – there is even a bomb from World War II located in the vineyards.

The tasting was divided in two parts, where we taste concentrated during the first part and flocked like predators during the second half, as all the remaining drops was put back on the table with bread, ham and cheese.

Like always I would like to stress out, that I am not in favour of concluding from these types of tastings as you only get 1-2 glasses and jump back and forth between vintages, terroir, and grape varieties. You focus a lot on details and pay more attention to errors, where I normally focus on overall drinking pleasure, when I have a date with the entire bottle. These notes will always come out a bit more harsh and less nuanced - so please take them as small snapshots / observations.

Enjoy – here we go:

NV Brut Zero, Tarlant / This wine represents 75% of the total production of the house. The wine in hand is mainly based on 2005 (55%) and the rest is reserve wine from ’02, ’03 and 2004 vintage. It’s a blend of all 3 grapes (1/3 each) and is the title points out – it’s without dosage, which you don’t even notice. The Champagne in hand is easy going with its simple, but refreshing and juicy taste of mainly apples and spices. Like someone in the audience said: “a great aperitif”.

NV Rosé Zero, Tarlant / A rosé mainly based on Chardonnay and in the easy understandable category, where strawberry and apricot are the primary notes. You get really great rosé warmth here and there is a perfect sweet biscuit note, which takes up the juicy factor. Again – you don’t even think about it as being a non-dosage Champagne. A small remark – this might not be “serious” long lasting Saignée stuff, but you have to applaud it for it’s remarkable and delightful drinking pleasure. In it’s category of fruity and delicate, it ranks among one of the best Grower NV Rosé Champagnes I have tasted so far.

NV Efflorescence, Marie courtin / One hell of good wine, which I haven't tried before (big mistake). Tickly fresh, bio driven stuff (me like), peach, apples and this utterly adorable juicy taste. Pinot Noir stuff, based mainly on 2005 and once again a Non-dosage.

(2006) Papilles Insolites, Jacques Lassaigne / Rather spicy, almost smoked and with fragments of mild liquorices. Some of the peppery style could very well be the minerals warming up the fruit core, but I have to say that I found some overall disharmony present. With air it gained a fraction more sweetness, which could have been the balance factor. Unfortunately I didn't get to re-taste this afterwards

2006 Les Ursules, Roses de Jeanne (Cédric Bouchard) / This Champagne has so much class to offer and once again I have the feeling of drinking something that is cut with laser precision and this divine sleekness. Horrible young at this stage - with black cherry and minerals, giving character and warmth.

2006 Les Beguines, La Closerie (Jérôme Prévost) / Last time I tasted this Champagne I found it rather closed. This bottle however, was rather open. Slightly oxidation starting to appear and a lot of nutty aromas - almost burned almonds and a really deep and smooth fruit core. It still has these darker patterns of spices, and overall it's a serious deliciousness Champagne, which offers mysteriousness and concentration.

2004 Vignes d'Autrefois VV Meunier, Laherte et Fréres / Very perfumed on the nose, with aromas of lemon and lavender and I found it a bit out of balance. The taste is surprisingly different and in my opinion better, but a bit too smooth with lack of the final edge. I should be noted, that it improved in the glass and I didn't get to re-taste it later. Secondly, this was the first Champagne of the evening with dosage.

Blind/ Oxidized style, has some age to it, deep, rather complex, terrific sweetness, apples and really complex. That was my notes - and the wine in hand; 2003 Dis Vin Secret from Françoise Bedel. Really nice for a 2003.

NV Cuvée Pierre Henri, Charpentier / Soft pleasing style with caramel, black fruits and overall a rather bold wine. I missed the salt of the egg here - balance factor of freshness which could take the wine away from being a bit too clumsy in my opinion.

2002 "Belimnita" Phillipe Gonet / I have to point out that the shift from highly concentrated, darker fruits composition; Vignes d'Or to chalky BdB *Belimnita (*relates to a special type of chalk) was rather difficult. Belimnita is made from old vines (1929) in Mesnil. It's a debut Champagne from the house and the production is a low as 1.400 bottles. It's a really good Champagne - typical for 2002 (based on my few observations), where the fruit core is very delightful, clear and juicy. It really has a lot of chalky notes, plus lemon zest, grape fruit - maybe not as refined and linear as one could hope for - but they are certainly there and it's clear this Champagne has good potential to age. A bit chewy on the final drops, where I would have hoped for a real acidity smack - but it might come with time. Overall - a solid good Champagne.

Blind / clear, refined, elegant, linear, and light on its toes with high acidity. This is what my paper says - and the wine in hand; 2001 (the horror year of Champagne) "Venus" from Agrapart. A great achievement in such a tough Vintage. Certainly not as lush and giving as 2002 vintage, but really refined and drinking well now.

2000 Vignes d'Antan, Tarlant / I have tasted this Champagne before @ restaurant Les Crayéres in Champagne. It's very silky, subtle and rich Champagne, which is rather hard to describe. Holding back a bit on the nose, where you can almost sense the sandy soil and on the palate this rich and elastic feeling. A very unique Champagne, which has be to tasted. Benoìt told us, that the phylloxera can’t penetrate the sandy soil located here – but only 30 meters away it’s impossible to plant ungrafted vines.

2000 L'Apotre, David Léclapart / Flawed....bummer!!!!!

1996 Tarlant. This wine is made by Benoìt father and is being released from the estate now. It’s a very rustic Champagne in my opinion – not only is it being infected with the typical ’96 high profiled acidity, but it’s all the way very firm with raw edges. It’s just starting to show some oxidation, but still in a rather early stage, where it not exactly pleasing you with a juicy appeal. High quality stuff, bir raw maybe, which in my opinions requires some food.

1998 Jacques Selosse / I have tasted this Champagne once before and really liked it, even if it’s not close to vintages like 1990 and 1996. This evening however, I found myself conflicting a little bit about it’s profile. It’s smooth and very giving Champagne, which fills the entire palate and demonstrates an utterly sensual and creamy type of Champagne. Typical for Selosse – it’s has this glowing style, where you feel like being coated with the most exotic and expensive eau de Parfume. But the Champagne is on the verge of falling off the charts in bold flavours and particular the sweetness – as it infects all components. At the end of the day – I would say that it stays balanced, but only for possessing so much fruit. However you could raise the question if this Champagne has seen too high dosage – or let me put it this way….The raw material seems not in need of dosage and I would have loved a bit more edge, or that one thing (lemon zesty maybe), which could have made some magic to appear. Don’t misunderstand me – this is indeed a nice Champagne, which I could easily take a tango with any day – it’s just not more than that.

QV Discobith / Tarlant. My TN can be found here



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Coming up:

Coming up in:


Sum-up: The rest of the wines from summer 2009 (Will take a while) -DONE
Champagne tasting @ Skaal with Benoît Tarlant
(In the making) - DONE
Bent's tasting @ Søllerød Kro. Champagne, Burgundy and others - DONE


10 Years of Selosse - Vintage Vertical @ The Paul - Cancelled
Joe's 1999 Montrachet Horizontal @ Søllerød Kro 17 of October
BYO / Warm-up @ Formel B - Mixed theme 16 of October
A possible Aldo Conterno Tasting - doubt it will be this year

Plus the Weekly wines....I am short of time, help me!!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

NV, Jacques Selosse "Contraste", Champagne

(Disgorgement date 3 October 2007)

Out of the maybe 8 times I have tasted Contraste @ a tasting event or @ a Restaurant, this is the first time I taste it at home, almost alone (my wife had 3-4 glasses). I always look upon it as the perfect Champagne for a plate of cheese. So - on this Friday I served it with some freshly baked break and cheeses; pecorino, Comte and Langres. On top of that I had some Pata Negra, quince marmalade and candied walnuts to pimp up the yummy factor. The Champagne starts of as I know it - pretty oxidized style and very rich and masculine Champagne. The nose consists of walnuts, caramel, honey, seductive evening perfume, quince and also the smell of corn on a hot summer day. However - after glass 2 the oxidized style takes a step back, allowing more subtleness to shine through. It also takes on a sweeter component of the finest Polynesian vanilla and all combined this is serious complex stuff. The taste is really rich and rewarding with an utterly mouth coating wow-factor where firm acidity, mousse explosion and long pleasing taste comes together. This maybe be the finest bottle of Contraste I have ever tasted and I stand by my saying that every Champagne loving person should always have a Contraste lying in his or hers cellar. Stunning.

Glass: Adina Red wine

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NV Jacques Selosse, Rosé, Champagne

(Glass: Adina White wine)

First a big D'OH!!!! As my wife threw the empty bottle out before I could get the disgorgement date (but I have 4 more left from the same case, so I will have it for you next time I pass my cellar).

Secondly - this is sort of a small update on this wine, as I have tasted it already 4 times since February 2009. I have mixed feelings towards this Champagne, as it simply tends to be too much of everything and in most cases have turned out to be a monotone tasting experience. But this bottle is by far the finest version I have had of this wine. I have a strong feeling it's caused by the lower dosage (from 7 >> 4g/l), which brings clarifying balance in place. Make no mistake, this is still Selosse and this is still the insinuating, soft pleasure type of Rosé with sunbeams of lush appealing vanilla fruit with a rhapsody of apricot and strawberry. But the biscuit notes have taken a step back and this is really firming up the wine. Should be noted, that the Champagne was enjoyed during my holiday, overlooking the sea a eating awesome Italian Antipasti from Zunino. So I was for sure susceptible and a very easy target.

Tasted July 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

2006 Vouette et-Sorbée, "Blanc d'Argile", Champagne

(Disgorgement date 28-10-08)

It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

2006 Blanc d’Argile is definitely different Champagne compared to 2004 and 2005 vintage. Painful young Champagne at this stage, showing pressed citrus, slate and crushed stony minerality and an extremely slow starter, with staggering high acidity. It’s not a pleaser thing that strokes you with mild touches. The absence of instant juiciness and sweet fruity sensations can at fist be disappointing factor, but there are other patterns that I find fascinating. The definition and tallness of the wine, has reached a much higher level, so it makes me think, that the wine can actually transform into something spectacular. It should be noted, as we drank this Champagne it got better and better – showing a more floral side at the end, but the high acidity and warm slate character on the back palate was constantly there. Cellaring is required – I am guessing 2-3 years.

Glass: Spiegelau Adina white wine.

2005 Heymann-Löwenstein, Riesling "Uhlen-Rotlay"

The worlds best this and that….something that I rarely defines and find interesting.


This has to be one of the finest Rieslings there is on Planet Earth and it’s really interesting that I have that feeling towards this wine, as my palate turns into the graceful and elegant side of wine. To understand this wine fully and what I am rambling about, you HAVE to decant it with a minimum of 7-8 hours (A year ago I gave it 12 hours). Before the colony of “No-no-decanting-so-long” comes rushing to whip me, I know there is a risk involved by such a provocation of air. “Rothlay” (it related to the soil, which is slate with a dark red color) is a spicy wine and it’s texture leans to the oily side (FAS: 2 I think). Decanting will take away the spicy tone a few notches down. But what I find interesting is that it brings out the ability to look beyond this sometimes overwhelming opulent spicy nose and see the linearity that this wine holds. It also takes the oiliness away, which for me it to be avoided if to see magic. The spices (white pepper, warm slate, salt and herbs) will always be there on the tongue and more importantly this nicely warmth of the back palate. But what I like most (and I have mentioned this before) is the incredible energy this wine has. It reminds me a lot of “Apôtre” from David Léclapart and in recent time, this life and energy headline has become an obsession to me. What a beauty, I enjoyed every drop with overwhelming pleasure.

Glass: Zalto Universal