Monday, November 30, 2009

Curiosity killed the cat.

2004 Domaine de la Tournelle "Ploussard de Monteiller"

100 % Ploussard sur marnes grises
Glass: Zalto Burgundy


After 16 years of tasting wine, I finally realized that Champagne was the Holy Grail for me. No need to buy German Rieslings, Barolo’s, Brunello’s or my ex-love; the Italian IGT wines anymore. It also put an ending to spontaneous purchases of high rated wines, whatever their geographic location. But finally, I seemed to have escaped the dark side of a wine collector – the shopaholic phenomenon of always having the obsession and fear of not of having the newly released vintage, which always (for some reason) is declared vintage of the decade/century or simply just a perfect year for one of your favorites wines.

So here I find myself, sitting with my first glass of red wine from Jura in France and the next week, I am at my local wine pusher and buying a case of this stuff.

I am back to ground zero, pathetic - Jesus Christ - what happened?

First of all, the wine speaks for itself. The 12.5% alcohol and its fragile brink red color is a first indication of a wine with very feminine features. The nose is an adorable twist between the red fruit from Burgundy Pinot Noir, but it’s also flirting with some Italian stuff here, I am thinking old School Sangiovese with red fruit and leather notes. Even some hints in the Barolo direction, with a rustic note of forest, mushrooms and dried fruits. It’s a slim, pure, chalky, light on its toes wine, with delightful great drinking pleasure. As I mentioned with David Léclapart’s Trépail Rouge, it’s unthinkable that I would have liked such a wine 2-3 years back. Great stuff and did I mention its great QPR around 15€.

Coming back to my intro. I might have believed that I was on safe ground with the new Champagne-tactic, but I guess I will always (like most other wine lowers) have a curiosity to try new things.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2002 Georges Laval "Les Chênes"

100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l
Glass: Spiegelau “Adina red wine”

The other Friday I had planned to have another bottle of Champagne, which was in the lineup in “29 Champagnes”. Even if I rarely declare winners and looser in tastings, I think this one stood out as the shining star of that day. So with Copenhagen’s finest Sushi (The Chef-Choice menu) I poured myself a glass of this elixir. The opening was somewhat disappointing, as it feels shy and not particular giving. However, I have learned to feel relaxed about this with these “new” Champagne things, as they most of the time will open up with air. In this case it’s not just a matter of air, but more pronounced; temperature. I served it @ maybe 9 degrees, but when it hit about 12 (my guess) and up to maybe 15 degrees things started to happen. When served cold, it feels fragile – for sure elegant, but also rather shy. From 12>15 degrees an overload of passion fruits emerges with pineapple, mango, and kiwi, making me think Bátard-Montrachet. Even though the flavors are to the exotic side and making it oilier, it has enormous calmness and harmony, with lots of backbone acidity. It’s spectacular how complex this Champagne is and it has a profile like no other. The bubbles in this Champagne are very gentle and it’s really more a wine than a glass of Champagne. As I mentioned in the “29 Champagne” post, there are 888 bottles produces in 2002 Vintage and in Vintage 2004, 1.776 bottles will be available.

Hunt like daemons, ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2006 Larmandier-Bernier "Terre de Vertus"

100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l
Glass; Spiegelau Adina, Red wine

On all levels, this is tasty Champagne. Highly youthful, chalky BdB expressions are infecting the wine from all possible angels. Whatever, small dozes of apple scents, flowers, and vanilla - which might escape from the glass, they have all been through the mineral/chalky/crossed wet stones machinery and it's simply brilliant. To a certain degree the wine is painful - hurting the palate, but its precision weapons is not to be ignored, as it ads to the linearity, scope of complexity and tallness of the Champagne. Even if its way too young, and theoretically you should cellar 3-4 years more, I would still recommend you to try a bottle now, just to get the rough/fresh mineral sensation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

29 Champagnes

On account of the release of a new book on Champagne written by Mia & Mads Rudolf: - "Champagnebibelen" - 29 grower Champagnes was tasted @ Restaurant Noma on 6th of November 2009.

The second part of the book is portraits of the 29 growers you will see listed here below, in alphabetic order. I am still reading the very interesting first part of the book, which is a deep and personal insight to Champagne from the author couple, touching upon all possible angels and raising questions on the many paradoxes the area of Champagne offers. I will write something on the book, when I have finished it.

(Mads Rudolf)

The following winemakers where present at the tasting; David Léclapart, Vincent Laval ,Amaury Beaufort, Bertrand Gautherot and Isabella & Jacques Diebolt.

Flight 1

2001 Pascal Agrapart "Cuvée Venus"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage : 0 g/l

A wine I have tasted before and one hell of an accomplishment in such a difficult vintage (and a debut release for this cuvée). It's flowery with some traces of yeast, autolysis, toast, corn and dark bread. It's not as full-bodied and lush in fruit as 2002, but fairly high clarity and linearity are adding to its profile and quality. On the palate it doesn't stretch itself completely, but still it's a wine which is very hard not to like and drink.

2002 Amaury Beaufort "Polisy Millésime"
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay
Dosage: 9 g/l

I almost have 2 TNs on this wine as it changed so much character in the glass. Unfortunately, version 2, ended up being the dominant outcome, as warmth in the glass adds to the sweetness and puts it's components out of balance in my view. Notes like; coconut, pickled cucumber and sweets is not something I favor and it's sort of a shame as the wine started fairly well with a spicy interesting fruit core. I guess the simple trick is to drink it chilled.

2003 Françoise Bedel & Vincent Desaubeau "Dis, vin secret"
86% Pinot Meunier, 8% Pinot Noir, 6% Chardonnay
Dosage : 0 g/l

Only tasted this Champagne once before (blind) and it's richer than I recall and almost exotic with emerging coconut flavors. However it's also very deep Champagne, which also plays with a flowery window and even some herbal notes. Taste has the same feeling, with a very mouth coating mousse feel. Even if it's infected by the warmth of the vintage its wide spectrum of flavors insures its balance and makes it interesting.

NV Raphaël Béréche "Reflets d'Antan"
Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay 1/3 each - Solera method since 1990
Dosage: 7 g/l

I still recall my first encounter with this wine and can't help to think how good a match it was with my Asian chicken dish and could easily see myself enjoying a glass with that type of food again. However, if to judge it here - in this lineup, it's too much of everything. The sweetness, despite a fairly medium dosage is overwhelming - not overly heavy, but sweet enough to take nerve away from the wine. Not only the rising sweetness, but I also find its structure too oily. Its purity is rather yummy though, bio driven with baby banana and mango, but again the sweeter notes of cookies, caramel and fudge are of such disturbing character. A shame really, as it has such an interesting profile.

2004 Jean-Louise Bonnaire "Millésime"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 10 g/l

Primary notes of citrus and flowers, but by far the weakest Champagne so far. It lacks concentration and focus. Pretty dull.

2006 Cédric Bouchard "Les Ursules"
100% Pinot Noir
Dosage: 0 g/l

I have always found it difficult to taste the wines from Cédric Bouchard in big tastings. There are incredible sleek and rarely represent the "lowest cleavage" in the line-up. This time was no exception, standing there in the glass, feeling shy and not really giving much. However, knowing what it is, I always find some resemblance to something I call diamond dust. It's a metaphor and yes, I have no clue how it taste like. But it's a reflection I use to describe a combination of black cherries, red currant, herbs, minerals and this incredible sleek feeling and yet seriously concentrated taste. The hard roughness of the uncut diamond, but also the sleekness and elegancy when it's cut....(I'm seriously mumbling now). Anyway it comes down to, what I have often touched upon, that Cédric Bouchard Champagnes have such a strong character, more a feeling to drink them and you seldom think of Champagne when you drink them, but man they are fantastic.

NV Emmanuel Brochet "Le Mont Benoìt"
23% Pinot Meunier, 32% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay
Dosage : 0 g/l

I was so pleased to see how well this wine did in this line-up as it has been a one of my favorite daily drinking Champagnes. It's simple, pure with Granny smith apples, citrus and immensely drinking pleasure. I love it for its NO FUSS agenda and I get thirsty every time I think of it.

2002 Laurent Champ / Vilmart "Grand Cellier d'or"
80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir
Dosage : 9g/l

It was discussed around my table if this wine was corked or just an off-bottle. I found absolutely no traces of TCA, but admitted it seemed somewhat mature for its age - so just maybe flawed. White Burgundy was my first paper notation, creamy, pleasing, butter and not that complex. In fact I was rather disappointed as it's too much of everything. But I'll mark as a suspicious bottle and perhaps I will get the chance to re-taste it.

2002 Alexandre Chartogne "Millésime" (Cuvée Mariage de Périne & Alexandre")
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Dosage : 7 g/l

Maybe it had a mid-palate hollowness, but there was still some allure about this Champagne. I think it was the delicacy and weightlessness, which I found interesting and it certainly didn't hurt either that it had clarifying acidity. Overall - Brilliant elegancy and to state it shortly a Champagne in good harmony and drinking well right now.

NV (2005) Olivier Collin
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l

A Champagne I have tasted 5-6 times now and it I have tried bottles which has seemed to mature somewhat faster and bottles which are as tight as a young Chablis. This comes somewhere in the middle and although you can sense the vanilla perfumes, slightly nutty flavors and some oxidation signs, its still seems young - especially on the palate with its Chablis resemblance. I liked it a lot and I think it did really well this day. I look very much forward to taste the 2006 vintage, which should arrive within 1-2 month here in Denmark.

(Isabella & Jacques Diebolt)

Flight 2

2002 Jacques Diebolt "Fleur de Passion"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage : 7 g/l

Perhaps the most intense Champagne so far. Its nerve and energy is something else and you know there is a true gem in the glass. A mixture of fragile chalky Chablis and a self-confident Montrachet. However - and I could be wrong, but a note of sulfur came forward in the glass as it warmed up. Could again (as with Dom Perignon) be the result of a reductive style, but it was certainly not making me happy.

2004 Pascal Doquet "Vertus 1. Cru"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 4,5 g/l

I found a funny note of white cola, which I sometimes compare to parsnip. However, it has a good "bio" purity with expressive and charming sweetness (not too much) and even if it didn't make me go backwards it was still a good Champagne.

(Mia Rudolf)
2004 Charles Dufour "Simplement Blanc"
100% Pinot Blanc
Dosage: 0 g/l

Very different Champagne. Bizarre, mysterious, but also some sort of intriguing affect as you simply had to pay attention. Easily the spiciest Champagne I have ever smelled. Hard to describe exactly what the notes are, but in the direction of herbs, thyme and blackberries. The taste is very rustic, but even if I doubt there will be wall to wall cases of this Champagne in my cellar, I couldn't help to smile a little bit about it. Think I will try it again someday, in order to have proper time to reflect.

NV Francis Egly "Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru"
100% Pinot Noir
Dosage : 4 g/l

An old relative and a Champagne I used to be very impressed by. To some extend I still are, even if my preferences have changed dramatically over the past year. This Champagne is the sort, which could probably go for the lowest cleavage and gain a lot of Parker points and win blind tastings - among the blind...hehe...just kidding. Anyway, it's impressive stuff and seriously tightly packed, like a bomb ready to go off. When its flavors are released it explodes with enormous concentration and a waxy, slightly oxidized fruit core of; walnuts, dark bread, flour and exotic evening perfume. It's big, bold and like hugging a big Teddy bear. But - there is a lemon note, which really saves it - you especially feel it on the palate as it's in rather good balance, even if it's very opulent Champagne. However it didn't like warmth in the glass, where its flavors and fairly low dosage took it more to a flabby ground. Overall - seriously impressive stuff, but I need it in small dozes (a glass or two, not a full bottle).

2000 Jean-Pierre Fleury
Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay 1/3 each
Dosage: 6 g/l

Really disappointing. Maybe Egly-Ouriet killed it, but it had really nothing more than flowery scents and breadcrumbs to offer.

2006 Bertrand Gautherot / Vouette et Sorbée " Saignée et Sorbée
100% Pinot Noir
Dosage : 0 g/l

As you might have seen, I just tasted this. I did absolutely brilliant this day and everyone around my table loved it. Red Burgundy with bubbles; cherries, mandarin and flowers. Stunning.

2006 Olivier Horiot "Séve Rosé"
100% Pinot Noir
Dosage : 0 g/l

More direct and aggressive compared to Vouette et Sorbée. It's again this presence of cranberry, iron which makes it rustic and almost tannic on the palate. I am always a bit puzzled by such a wine, even if I find myself (also on this day) using a lot of time with it. It's the curiosity in me that really wants to learn about these macerated Champagnes, because they WILL change a lot, when cellared (I know that from David Léclapart's Alchimiste). Overall on this day - one glass only, I remained puzzled and never really smiling.

NV Benoìt Lahaye
90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l

A fresh breeze - but of course it might be related to the rustic neighbor Rosé glass from Olivier Horiot. Great sparkling energy rises from the glass, bio driven with baby banana, flowers and lemon peel. The taste drops a bit short though, but I end up liking it for its simplicity and freshness.

NV Aurélien Laherte "Les Clos"
18% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Meunier, 8% arbanne, 15% petit meslier,17% Pinot Blanc and 10% fromenteau
Dosage: 0 g/l

You can see a more detailed TN here. But I would still like so say a few words about it. Around my table it was discussed if its acidity was a bit immature. It might be valid for you to know that the 7 grapes are harvested at the same time, which certainly provides some aspects for different acidity profiles. I can confirm that it indeed has a very high pitched acidity. But seriously, I love it when it "hurts" like this. There are 3 factors that interest me here. 1) The 7 varietals of Les Clos are combined seriously interesting, 2) The wine is as fresh as crystallized limejuice and 3) The high-pitched acidity doesn't only posses "acidity", but also it's also a balance factor element of the vivid freshness from the nose and the high level of minerals, which also present themselves on the palate. Admitted, I'm an acidity Junkie, and maybe that's why I love it so much.

2005 Pierre Larmandier "Terre de Vertus"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage : 0 g/l

It's wrong of me to conclude, by just being a simple amateur and not having sufficient material of TNs to conclude on such a broad subject of a specific vintage. But, based on the 2005's I have tasted, they tend to have a distinctive roundness to them. I tend to favor the linearity from the Vintage 2004 better and also the very promising 2006 vintage. This Champagne is very likeable, but again I found this roundness, which by all means enhances richness and flavors, but I really missed this linearity and focus. I will shortly show you what I mean, as I have just tasted the 2006 Terre de Vertus, which seriously impressed me. Sorry...the notes on this was, chalk, lime, flowers, butter and roundness. I have written, "funny mid-palate feel (roundness again)" and even with warmth in the glass I wrote roundness again.

(Vicent Laval)

Flight 3

NV Emmanuel Lassaigne "Vignes de Montegueux"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage : 4 g/l

Again a Champagne of simplicity and great clarifying freshness. Not particular complex, but surely likeable notes of apples, vanilla and lime. Taste has a vibrant slim mineral feeling. Lovely stuff.

2000 Bernard "Special Club"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 5 g/l

I haven't written many things about this wine, simply because I didn't like it at all. It's surely made in a rich style, but way too warm a clumsy for my preference.

2002 Vicent Laval "Les Chênes"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l

The winemaker at our table were Vicent Laval. Unfortunately my French is as good as my Swahili, but Mia Rudolf helped me as my interpreter. I have always found this Champagne to have a profile like no other and I was of course curious to know more about it. I don't know if I actually got the answers I was seeking, from the very friendly, smiling and humble Vicent Laval. I think I got the message that wine at this level takes; hard work and talent, but above all discovering the possibility of exploring terroir by old parcels and by releasing them as a single cuvée. 888 bottles were produced of this magic Champagne and I would strongly recommend you to start looking for some of them. At this day, this Champagne was out of this world delicious. Again, the nose are incredible deep scented - Bâtard-Montrachet with bubbles, but also this exotic fruit core of mango, kiwi and lavender. The taste is on one hand creamy, sensational rich - but with enormous scope and elegance. One of the most irresistible Champagnes I have tasted in a while.

(David Léclapart)

2004 David Léclapart "L'Apòtre"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l

I just put my pen down here and relaxed for a while as I have just tasted it. It didn't do particular good at the opening. It seems shy and I remain even more confident that it will soon go into a tunnel and close down for XX-time. However, after the tasting I went over and checked out some of the remaining heeltaps; and filled my glass with some 04'Apótre. Much better now - and again this uncompromising soil expression, with juicy apple/pear scents. David Léclapart stood next to me and we talked about how slow starters Apôtre are and also about decanting and its future potential.


"It's also a slow starter at home, Thomas,,smiling.. (I love this guy ;-) ). no - it's not something I would recommend for Champagne, because when you have done it, there is no way back. By just opening, you can slowly follow it. Put on some music and relax. Potential... Yesterday I tasted the 1999 and it's still so young, which makes me happy. My best guess is 25-35 years".

2003 Christophe Mignon 100%
Pinot Meunier
Dosage: 0 g/l

Tough to follow the 2 previous Champagnes and it might have tricked my judgment. This Champagne seems shy and distant in character with only fragments of citrus. Strange. Didn't get to taste it afterwards.

NV Franck Pascal "Brut Nature"
57% Pinot Meunier, 5% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir
Dosage: 0 g/l

Very perfumed nose and I am not sure it’s in balance. Notes of; flower water, soap and dried paper. Taste is of the same breed and making an awkward impression. Surely, in such a big line-up you will always conclude a bit faster and I would really like to taste it again, even if it didn’t do well at all.

2006 Jérôme Prévost "Les Béguines"
100% Pinot Meuiner
Dosage: 0 g/l

I love this Champagne. It's maturing a bit faster than I would have imagined, but still I see lots of potential for the patient drinker. The tickly, highly sophisticated nose still has the spicy fruit core, but emerging signs of oxidation are on the rise, with notes of walnuts, honey and liquorices. Taste is intense, spicy and with great precision. Brilliant.

NV Anselme Selosse "Initiale"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 4 g/l

On this day, Intiale seems friendly, giving, but far from great and compared to its glass-neighbors, it doesn't posses the same quality. It should be noted, that there are huge bottle variations when it comes to Initiale and I have had better version than this bottle...and yes...damn...I didn't write the disgorgement date down

2000 Benoît Tarlant "Vignes d'Antan Chardonnay Non greffé"
100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 2 g/l

Last wine of the day. It's incredible how rich and vivid this Champagne is, but at the same time it's also a very subtle drink. Knowing that the wine is made with ungrafted vines in sandy soil, you can't help to notice how elastic its fruit core is. It's not really about a chalcky Bdb, but more the feel of its style and expansion of the rich and giving fruit core, it has to offer. Did that give any meaning? Anyway - taste it and you will know what I am mumbling about ;-). Loved it, once again.



2006 Vouette et-Sorbée, "Saignée de Sorbée Rosé"

Glass (Spiegelau Adina…but yes it’s Zalto on the picture)

Thought it was time for a Rosé and why not one, which did more than okay the same day @ a Champagne tasting (yes yes...more on that one later).

I had already planned a mix of Italian Antipasti's, and some French cheeses I had in the Fridge (Comté and Langres) and even though I had a feeling about the match would not be perfect, I trusted Champagnes widely food matching abilities. I was wrong. Food & wine was a disaster, so I ended up drinking most of this stuff without food, which actually proved to have a benefit, as simple airing was the crucial for the Champagne.

At opening I found myself in conflict with this cranberry / Campari notes (and I hate Campari), which seem to be a common factor for some of these very young macerated Champagnes. It's not so much that I need to be swept in silky red Rosé strawberry perfumes (and like a Challenge), but it's more the secondary notes of iron, iodine and Sherry (which I also don't like). Combined these notes, even if they have some sort of intriguing affect of just being so different, are a very harmony disturbing element to me.

So, as already said - food & wine was on collision course, so I waited half and hour or so and then returned. Transformation!!!. It's still highly sophisticated Champagne and even if it might be Champagne, which will not be for everyone, you can't argue that it has a strong character and a wide spread spectrum of aromas to offer. These earlier notes of cranberry, iron....etc. feels more subtle, almost replace by herbs and a sweeter fruit component is on the rise; mostly raspberries - which is accompanied by the most delicate note of salty apricot. Salty is an important detail, which in general characterizes its profile a lot to me. On the palate the iron notes are luckily still there as they preserve the linearity and provide a divine sleekness to the Champagne. Evolvement are constantly on the rise and I ended up being pretty impressed and intellectual challenged, but I will definitely cellar my remaining bottles at least 3 years more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2006 David Léclapart "Trépail Rouge / l'Eden"

(Decanted 2½ hour - Glass; Zalto Burgundy)

(Okay, so once again a picture with fall leafs from my garden - but I'm running out of creative ideas how to take a picture of a wine label ;-) )

Inspired by the man himself, whom I met in Copenhagen the other week (much more on that later), I decided to taste his red wine.

Before I go into details about the wine, it's important for me just to mumble a little bit about the drinkability of a wine. A great wine memory is not always about a pompous wine tasting at a top class restaurant (which I have done a lot recently), nor sitting in silence and concentrating. The older I get, the more I praise the simplicity, honesty and drinkability of a wine. To be more specific it's simply the joy of pausing and looking forward to the next sip, while never feeling palate tiredness (it's okay to fell uplifted and have a little buzz ;-) ). Like this night, where I just had my feet up and reading a newly release Champagne book (also much more on that one later) and basically just feeling great.

So the wine....

Very subtle - incredible nuanced with fragile, pure and delicate red raspberry skin notes. A wine with an exceptional high mineral tone, to a degree of pure soil expression. Overall it provides the wine with a lot of dried elements, almost like the dust of a limestone quarry. The taste is almost a copy/paste of the nose, as it's of such fragile and feminine breed and provides a perfect harmony curl around the tongue, intense acidity and just leaving the palate mineral cleaned and ready for the next sip. I simply loved it, even if I am aware of having a thing for the Léclapart universe – but still; - it’s striking to me, that only 2-3 years back I would never have praised a wine of such fragile character.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What else in October

The day before the Montrachet tasting - some of us warmed up @ restaurant Formel B with a small BYO. Formel B is a * Michelin restaurant here in Copenhagen. The food is really good and almost flawless. However - there is something odd about the place. The food have in recent years become lighter, more "flowery" and romantic - but at the same time the place has had a very bombastic facelift, making it almost twice as big. The owners and staff are very young, but still the interior of the place is like a fortress of marble and the waiters (even if they are very friendly) are dressed seriously looking in suits. Even though it should come down to what's on the plate (and its really good) - I don't always feel that comfortable there.

Anyway we kicked off with a terrific 2005 Chablis - the one and only "Le Clos" from Raveneau. I would have expected an overly shy wine to enter and yes it's deadly young, but still has some roundness to it. The acidity is high, but again - a lot of lush new fruit and even some buttery and almonds notes with air. The complexity was spectacular and I found some Champagne resemblance also. Loved it.

The next wine was one of my contributions - the 1996 Pol Roger Winston Churchill. I liked it a lot. It's very powerful Champagne, Pinot dominated, with spices, dark bitter chocolate and walnuts. But it also holds a lot of 1996-vitality with youthful citrus notes and all the time with this vibrant nerve, which really makes it interesting. Taste is long and intense. It should have a long life ahead of it.

The only problem with this BYO, was that it's wasn't coordinated beforehand and didn't went that well with the food. We actually had run out of whites/Champagne and from here it was only reds.

The next wine was the 1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, "Grands Echezeaux". The nose was ridiculous good, with sweet cherry, orange blossom and just an orgy of perfumes. I could just sit and smell such a wine for hours - don't need to taste it at all. But okay - let's just do so. Ahhhhhrrrr...not perfect - a little (and I mean little) too austere - just making it fail to enter the hall of fame - but my my...that nose.. I won't forget it that easily.

Very difficult to follow such a wine and I had brought the 1997 Masseto from Ornellaia (100% Merlot). I wasn't at all expecting this as I have tasted the wine 3 times. First - it's seriously dark in colour but also filled with blackberries and chocolate flavours. The surprise was high levels of spices to a degree were it almost took form of peppery notes. Now I would never praise such a wine and on top of this its fruit core hold very little soul seeking information to me. However the taste saves it as it's despite its bold character - it has a divine slim curl around the tongue, but still with an enormous finish. This wine is no way near a drinking window as I see it - so cellar at least 5 years more. Overall I have to say, that I have more and more difficulties to find magic in these Italian IGT wines, which I used to love 7-6 years back.

From there it was Bordeaux territory.

The 1961 Lynch Bages was first. It kicked off nicely with classic notes of sweet cedar wood, herbs and tobacco. But to me it died in the glass shortly after - I am not sure the other around the table was of the same opinion.

However I found its neighbour glass far more interesting - the 1971 Cheval blanc. I think it was because it wasn't typical Bordeaux (and forgive me - boring), but had a sensational note of potato chips and again this expressive sweetness. The taste is far from perfect, but the linearity is brilliant. Also it constantly evolved in the glass, where the 1961 Lynch Bages died in my opinion.

The last two wines of the evening was the 1990 and 1975 L'Evangile. The 1990 was nice - but also quickly forgotten to me. Have no notes on it. The 1975 was an off bottle.

What else in October...

Champagne...have written about most of them, but the NV "Efflorescence" from Marie Courtin was a good memory. It's a rather sleek Pinot Noir dominated Champagne - very intellectual with notes of black cherries and mild spices. Very focused and refreshing - and again this slim (no fuss) and sleek style.

Italian reds:

The 1999 Fidenzio (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc) from Podere San Luigi is a wine I have been interested in since I first tasted it in the vintage in 1998 (I believe the first vintage was 1996 - but I am not sure). Fidenzio comes from Piombino, located on the southern Tuscan coast, which also is the home town of one of Europe's biggest steel manufactures; Arcelor. It's said that the terroir here is infected by this raw minerality and I have to say that I also find a lot of iron notes in the wine. Fidenzio always feels young and 1999 is no exception. In fact I suspect that it could very well be one of the most long lasting Italian IGT's out there. With these iron notes constantly there you can imagine how it adds to the wines linearity. It might have somewhat boring blackcurrant fruit, vanilla and chocolate, but it's the presence of these cooler tones which brings the magic and makes you listen. The taste is always (until now...let's see with further age) a pretty rough ride of tannins. You should think that endless hours of decanting might do the trick, but I actually just poured it from the bottle and discovered it to close more and more down in the glass with a lot of tar notes in the final glass. Overall - I would still recommend cellaring, but its fore sure is an interesting wine.

Also from Tuscany I had the 2004 Giusto di Notri (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot) from Tua Rita. The wine is so much better than my first bottle and went down pretty fast. It's a real pleaser with blackberries, chocolate, glycerine, graphite and sweet vanilla flavours. Way too much use of new oak here and not particular complex, if you where on the analytic path, but I was in a mood where I just needed to relax - and for that, it did well.

Turning towards Piemonte I had the 2004 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Cascina Francia. To me Barbera is a great Pasta companion, but they are sometimes way too many one-dimensional wines with heavy use of oak and too much cheerful blackberry fruit. Even if such a statement is rude generalizing, I have to say that the Barbera from G. Conterno is made in an entirely different style and quality. To me this is the best Barbera there is and it's simply because it's the one showing the best level of red fruit. However this wine has never been better when it was released and even if this bottle was rather nice, I still miss that utterly new pressed fruit which did it all for me 2 years ago. Today it's a bit more reserved and the baby fat has unfortunately evaporated. However, you can still sense the style of the wine and it has a great lightness to it. I think I only have a few bottles left, which I will cellar a bit more - just to see what will happen.

At the rather awkward Italian restaurant Il Grappolo Blu here in Copenhagen, I had (among many wines) the 1997 Brunello Riserva from Talenti from magnum. A wine starting to show notes of new saddle leather and this classic dried Sangiovese fruit. Such a wine immediately hit's my preferences and it's once again a reminder how much I love Sangiovese when presenting itself in this manner. The wine also displays a good portion of red fruit and is basically just classic Brunello as it should be. Maybe not overly complex, but still a beautiful wine.

As fall and winter starts I rest my German Riesling, but sometimes it's hard to keep hands off. Spontaneously I opened the 2005 Riesling Spätlese "Oberhäuserer Brücke" from Hermann Dönnhoff in Nahe. What a disappointment it was...well at least just right after I had opened it. Way too opulent, with a dull sweet and fat waxy honey fruit core. Sure the taste was lush, but just an oily thing with no class. BUT WAIT...if there is one lesson I will have to learn about German Rieslings and especially these Spätlese - they need air and a lot of it. Day 2 (just resting in the fridge with the cork 2/3 half way in) - I didn't feel well, but on day 3 I tried it again. Mama mia....what a transformation and what a wine. Ballerina light now, with focus, clarity, brilliance and the fruit core is just like small light weighted exotic and flowery crystallized particles dancing on the tongue. The acidity is exceptional high and it's really an awesome wine. But, wait again...on day 4 it returned to somewhat flabby sweet there you go.

No real tastings planned in November....ahhh almost - tasted 29 Champagnes the other day ;-)...more on that later.

Monday, November 2, 2009

2004 David Léclapart "L'Apôtre" (Again)

(Glass: Spiegelau Adina - the one on the picture)

Do you know the feeling of tasting a sublime young wine and then fearing when it will close down? That's how my first bottle of 2004 L'Apótre made me feel.

So I believe I found myself a proper excuse for tasting it again, don’t you?

I would be speculating, beyond my humble abilities as a wine taster, if I were to say that 2004 is on the verge of closing down. But that's probably how I feel - but I also have too much respect for the capricious nature of wine, Champagne and especially the authentic wines of David Léclapart.

So why do I feel like that? Well, the nose is a bit more muted, compared to last time. In addition the warmth and overload of bitter minerals is really biting back here, making it not entirely charming - if you were seeking sweet and adorable lush new fruit. But that's not even David léclapart, so what the hell I am talking about?

It just feels a bit more insulted of having been opened now. However the drinking pleasure is constantly on the rise, but where the magic explosion kicked in by glass 3 the last time - I had to wait until the last 2 glasses this time. The magic of the last glass made me seriously regret that I didn't decant it or opened 30 minutes beforehand. The notes are pear, apples, slate; mint leafs and everything is extremely tightly packed. What I also found fascinating with the last glass; is how vinous it is. Even if I am a mousse-loving person I would say with Apótre; give a decent spin in the glass and don't take too much notice of doing some damage to the mousse as you will provoke out this vinous style and actually see how pure it is. You will also take notice of a seriously high and clarifying acidity. There was even a tiny drop in one of my glasses, which I tasted the day after - were it had no signs of oxidation and actually smelled pretty damn good.

Overall – I still feel this Champagne is beyond good and it hit’s all my sweet spots – but I will probably cellar my remaining bottles for some time now.