Sunday, March 28, 2010

BYOB Championship

(Our host preparing food)

Before my wine group and I started to do personal fancy wine tastings at some of Copenhagen’s finest Michelin restaurants, we used to do private BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) events. I remember when I was hosting these events – preparing a 7-course dinner and washing up porcelain and glasses 2 days in a row. I love having guest, but man it’s hard work for the host.

But this time, it was my city neighbour, Claus who hosted and Claus decided to put on a little game of fun: The BYOB Championship.

I wish I could say the rules was simple, but as some brought 3 wines and some only 2 and some of the challenges even ended up tied - I don’t know how we picked a winner ;-). But we did, and I must say, he was the right one.

Claus prepared a rather extensive menu, from seafood Ravioli, two different kinds of Risotto and lamp chops, which were grilled outside @ midnight while the rain was pouring down. If you are reading this, Claus – thank you for a fantastic menu…you are insane my friend ;-).

Let’s just start and you will see how the challenges worked (All wines tasted blind)

Challenge 1: Moderate priced Champagnes (Limit 67€)

2004 Agrapart “Avoizoise” (my Champagne)
NV Bollinger

I wasn’t allowed to vote in the Champagne categories and I was competing vs my friend Max.

The challenge ended tied: 2-2. Had I been allowed to express my opinion, I would have picked Agrapart as a clean winner. Bollinger is not bad, but it’s lacking in tallness and just expressing what I like about a Champagne. It’s fairly charming though – showing pockets of oxidation, smoke, vanilla and butter. “Avoizoise” is beautiful, a fresh breeze in comparison filled with luxuries fruits of preach and mango. It’s however also very mineral attached, making it stand far taller in the glass. Even if it were a clean winner to me, I would still say that Bollinger is the best big house NV out there and very fair prices when you can find it on sale.

Challenge 2: Expensive Champagnes (No limits)

(A tiny drop of 2004 Venus - in the Juhlin Champagne glass)

2004 Agrapart “Venus” (My Champagne)
1982 Krug

Again I couldn’t vote. Once again a draw / 2-2. Was this fair? Maybe the right question was; can you even compare these two Champagnes? It simply ended a draw, because those in favour of Venus didn’t like what they defined as the smell of “old” Champagne. They loved Venus for it’s vinous touch and it’s graceful style. If I could have voted, I would have picked Krug as the winner. But man I was “proud” of having brought such spectacular Champagne as Venus. It’s a mineral beast – with majestic tallness and floating chalky feeling on the palate. Breathtaking and remember how young it is – It will be fascinating to follow it.

Krug ’82 – wasn’t convincing from glass one. It’s farting a bit with that smell of “old” where these specific notes are overpowering the Champagnes ability to show layers of complexity. But it was about airing the monster and I ended up having as much as 3 glasses of it. Spectacular how it unfolds with air and it’s like a painting, coming to life. Some of the notes not necessarily a winner in my book; - burned acacia honey, sourdough, yeast and malt beer flavours. It’s simple the combination of them together and the strength of them, which makes this Champagne seriously scary. It’s miles better than the 1985 Krug Collection and almost head to head with the 1988, which is my favourite Krug Vintage. A Champagne with ridiculous concentration - incredible mouth-watering - majestic and yet so graceful – my god.

(1982 Krug and Claus making risotto in the background)

Challenge 3: Piemonte – Moderate priced (Limit 67€)

2001 P. Scavino Barolo “Bric del Fiasc”

A clear winner of this category – 6 first places if I remember correctly. Why? Well to me it was about red fruit and attitude. Still modern made as the cherry notes and sweet and lush, but the allure from violet and red fruit it just knockout beautiful. On the palate it’s almost even better, as it has so much grip and that classic dried Nebbiolo palate touch, which I just happen to adore. And yes – I have this one in my cellar. Will provide at least 10 years of drinking pleasure from now, but I would recommend a test-drive now.

2001 Aldo Conterno Barolo “Cicala”

A very seductive wine – but in fact the wine I preferred the least. It’s very intimidating with red fruit, but the cherry notes providing the "red touch" are almost overripe and it’s overpowered by a vanilla - almost powder sugar sweetness, which simply takes so much backbone out of the wine. It’s evident on the palate, where it falls apart in my book, with simple lack of vibrant acidity. The good thing is however, that there is loads of fruit here. Cellar at least 3-5 years more.

2003 Roagna Barbaresco “Paje”

Even if Cicala was overpowering sweet, the black sheep in this flight, was this wine. Shyer, slimmer, even with tar and pepper - and it feels so much younger. But the taste is so nice, classic, clean and feminine. Could be interesting to taste this in 5-6 years time.


Challenge 4: Tuscany (No price limits)

2004 Casanova di Neri, Brunello di Montalcino “Tenuta Nuova”

This wine won this flight 5-1. I was the only one not voting for it. It’s very pleasing and easy to like. The nose holds tons of fruit with medicine, roll bandages, vanilla, sweet overripe cherries, blackberries and a fair amount of alcohol. Taste is round big and pleasing, but again with the alcohol annoying my taste buds somewhat. It’s doesn’t posses any complexity whatsoever in my book, but having said that, I can see why such a wine would this challenge, as “lowest cleavage” tends to win. Just shows how tricky one-glass wine tastings can be.

2000 Ruffino Romitorio di Santedame IGT

I am not sure this bottle was in perfect condition. Presenting itself far more evolved with dull fruit, pepper and high-pitched alcohol. Not good.

2001 Soldera Brunello di Montalcino “Case Basse Riserva”

For sure I was happy to see that I had picked wine no.3 as this winner, when the bottles was revealed, as Case Basse is my favourite Italian red wine. As I believe wine no.2 was flawed, Case Basse was in direct battles with “Tenuta Nuova” – and what a clash in styles. Case Basse is not particular giving – in fact it’s very shy, but not entirely closed. On the nose there are traces of bright and clear red fruit, which is certainly not hurting my preferences. But the nose is really tight – it’s the taste, which takes the credit this time. It’s has such a wonderful pure and slim curl around the tongue with enormous sleekness and aftertaste. I had the chance to get a second fill of this beautiful wine, which was even better in glass two. The structure is really impressive and I guess we are talking 4-5 years before it enters a long drinking window. Not many wines offer what Case Basse does – where an endless numbers of wines offer the commercial style of “Tenuta Nuova”.


Challenge 5: Piemonte (No price limits)

Also in this flight I picked another winner than the official winner. I am not 100% sure, but I think wine no. 1 won it by 4-2.

2001 Monti Barolo “Bussia”

This wine won the challenge, but it wasn’t my no.1. It holds: smoke, dust, herbs and fairly classic Barolo-like. The taste is also nice with firm attitude and good balance between fruit and structure. However I missed some nerve if to vote is the winner of this flight. But still it was a really good wine.

1999 Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo “Corette” (Magnum)

Never ever heard of this wine before – and even if it ended as no.3 in my book, it was still a good wine. Opens up with classic dust, forest and mushroom notes – but also rather reserved. Taste is intense, but the alcohol is again teasing my taste buds and ruins some of the balance. Not much else to say.

1998 Bruno Giacosa, Barolo “Faletto”

My winner. The first note I wrote on my paper was; Red fruit – and that simply brought the wine one step ahead of its flight revivals. Cherries dominate the red fruit, but also a wonderful violet/rose note came to life. Secondary aromas of medicine did also appear and this actually made me guess; Giacosa out of the blue. As a normal donkey in blind guessing I was seriously proud when the bottle was revealed. But let’s not forget the taste, which is brings stunning palate warmth without burning alcohol, but also reveals a wine with solid structure and in need of further cellaring.

(Barbecue at midnight while the rain was pouring down)

Challenge 6: Red Burgundy (No price limits)

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques

The weakest wine in a divine flight. Red fruit is there, but it’s also a very rustic wine with notes of mushrooms and meatballs (for the Danes; Frikadeller og varm leverpostej). Taste is a little strained – dropping short and again leaves with a rustic impression.

2002 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques

A wine I have always loved. It has these amazing 2002 spices, which normally are so seductive sweet. This time – maybe because it’s served in a Bordeaux glass, it holds back a bit. The cherry notes are there for sure, but the spices takes a bit from the purity. However it holds enormous intensity and on the palate the spices works better as you end up chewing on these wonderful flavours (food friendly also) in a long genuine aftertaste. It ended no.2, but it was a close call.

2000 DRC, “Romanée St. Vivant”

I took me a while to pick this wine as the winner. It’s not an instant winner, as it’s not as intense as ’02 Clos St Jacques. But on the elegance barometer it’s the best wine and for my preferences, elegance always wins over power. The nose holds divine light red fruit – sprinkled with smoke and dust and it keeps the taster interested all the time and it takes on in weight all the time. Taste has silky energy, not a finish, which is as long as ’02 Clos St Jacques, but the balance is simply just better. A magnificent wine.

(A happy winner: Max)

That was the end of the official tasting. So who won? Well, if we counted most votes for 1stplaces, I think our host won. But I think we all agreed that Max was the winner, with NV Bollinger, 1982 Krug and 2000 DRC, “Romanée St. Vivant” as his wines. Congratulations Max, looking forward to a re-match in June.

2 bonus wines entered – I was full. One of them was a US-Syrah if I remember correctly 2007 Ethan I have written on my paper. It was a wine far from my preferences, but again – I think a cold beer was the only proper alcohol beverage suitable at this point. The other wine was the 1996 Philip Togni. I have always liked the wines from Togni – as they have a strong personality. This was a very nice bottle, with notes of red and green peppers, buttermilk and goat cheese. Sounds revolting, but it was actually very nice.

No more…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

London / Paris visit

(A Mime artist in front of Notre Dame)

All images are from Paris – it’s impossible for me to shoot photos at a business dinner.

My early visit's to London is like déjà vu: First business meetings and then dinner @ The Ledbury.

I'll spare you the details about the business meetings and although the dinners are also business related, I do get the chance to pay attention to food and wine as some of my guest's are also into the geeky side of wine.

But first I had a rather extensive lunch out at Canary Wharf - more specific at @ . Japanese food goes very well with my Champagne disease, and I am a big fan of the purity and elegance this food offers. Even the more spicy side, always make me think of a mouth-watering German Spätlese. Our lunch menu offered everything from sashimi, Sushi, lamb cutlets, soft-shell Crabs and a big juicy mackerel (plus some other stuff I can't remember) - it was just what I needed. We had the NV Billecart-Salmon rosé with all the courses. This Champagne used to be one of my favourite rosé Champagnes, but I found it really simply and playing too much on strawberry notes. However it delivered good freshness.

(Life in the metro of Paris)

Dinner @ The Ledbury. They have obtained their second ** Michelin star since I last visited, but to me nothing has really changed. It's still a brilliant spot. Due to my good friend Anders, which is a regular there (he lives just around the corner to the restaurant) they prepared a special tasting menu for us. The food might not be so intellectual challenging, but it's very rich in flavours without being heavy. The ambience has a calm lounge feel and service is warm and professional.

We kicked of with 3 bottles of Champagne (we where 4 people). First up; the 2005 La Bolorée from Cedric Bouchard. Now I have been doing the moon walking dance of ecstasy with this cuvée, but this night it seemed a bit shyer and leaning in the direction of some citrus nuances. I am usually not in favor of "Falut 40" explanations when it comes to wine, but it made a significant difference that this wine was pulled directly from an ice bucket. The Champagne needs a serving temperature of 12-14 degrees in order to make the flavours shine and a white wine glass - not a flute glass (ours was the Spiegelau Authentis). The next Champagne could have faced the same dilemma, as it also was served rather chilled. Still in Cédric Bouchard territory - but now the 2006 Les Ursules. It's rocking this night - darker fruit patterns with perfumes of cherry dust (don't ask me what that is), with magnificent currant flow on the palate - brilliant.

The third Champagne was problematic to me. It was the 1996 Dom Perignon Rosé. When having drunk so pure Champagnes so far (and what I usually drink), it comes across as being incredible impure. I can live with notes, which are young and unresolved, but this was like sticking your nose into an old dusty sofa. Now, from what I have read about the pinky DP, it's made for the long run, according to chef de cave of DP; Richard Geoffroy. So we rested half of the bottle for the cheese plate and went on with the red wine. When returning later the wine had lost some of this impurity and starting to show salty red fruits, but it's still not particular friendly. If you are into this posh pinky beverage I suggest you cellar at least another 5-7 years - maybe more?

The red wine was from New Zealand: 2004 La Collina, Bilancia, Hawke's Bay. It's a wine far from what I usually drink and even if it's a bold syrah with notes of blackberries and wet animal fur, it's pleasing to the palate and not in any way heavy. Went really well with the food.

Will I be back @ The Ledbury in 2011? - I think so

(Our funky room)

After London - where other place to go than Paris, when the Eurostar train is just in the neighbourhood. Even if this blog is mainly about Champagne, wine and food (in that order), I would strongly recommend the small boutique Hotel we stayed at. I think the picture of our room says it all. Here is the web site

I wanted to find a restaurant in Paris, which had lots of Parisian ambience and was moderate priced. After reading Trines review and getting final confirmation from my own personal Paris guide, I booked a table @ La Chateaubriand (129, avenue Parmentier,11th arrondissement,Tel: +33 1 43 57 45 95).

I simply loved it. The food was understated, subtle, and yet so expressive and had a really nice authentic touch to it. Ambience was just like I had hoped for - packed, noisy and with lots of vibe. We had two glasses of the NV Les Vignes de Monteguex fra Jacques Lassaigne, which did exactly what it was supposed to do; tickle the taste buds and provide appetizing simple freshness. For red I picked the 2007 Aloxe-Corton from Fanny Sabre, which was filled with red cherry notes, spices, rubber and lots of sweet harmonic fruit. Loved it.

(A corridor at the Louvre)

I can't help to notice, especially when in France, the poor choice of wine glasses you are offered. The same goes for La Chateaubriand. However - on such a night, just sitting an enjoying life, food, wine, and ambience with my wife, it's fine - even for the no. 1 glass geek.

It's great to travel - it's even better to have to a break for parents like my wife and I, as the daily life offers many challenges. But I tell you, there is nothing greater in life, than seeing your kids again.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Champagne tasting @ Skål - 13th of March 2010

It’s always a pleasure when my local Champagne pusher put’s on a Champagne tasting. You get a lot of good insight and you get to compare. Comparing has its ups and downs. Of course when you are home and having a bottle of Champagne, you also do a comparing thing against your preference sheet. However on such a day, when it’s all in front of you and you can shift from one glass to another, it’s suddenly something else. You look for a winner and you look for a looser. This is not always right. It’s a much more hardcore way of judging, as you get into a mind game where you focus more on errors that you would normally do.

So please take these notes as snapshots, and you can be sure I will re-taste many of these wines in near future – home alone, with plenty of time to get “the right conclusion”. 6 out of the 19 wines where served blind. Almost all of the wines where picked directly from the shelves as the room temperature was 12 degrees.

About the photo’s. Yes sorry, they are not that great. I normally shoot around 125 pics during such an event, but I only took about 25 images this day. I tried to focus on the Champagnes. But I like the one with Mads – good atmosphere from the light which just touches half of his face.

Here we go:

NV Marie Courtin “Efflorescence”

Deep-layered fruit, with notes of dark bitter chocolate and a gentle spicy touch. But the wine is far from chocolate in profile. It’s indeed very focused and with air, a note of raspberry skin comes forward - bringing “brightness” and a solid fruity touch to the wine. It has exceptional balance and it’s a killer QPR. Very good start.

2006 Roses de Jeanne (Cédric Bouchard), Les Ursules

I love this Champagne and I simply just adore the style of this producer. Even without any dosage it has a very seductive approach with ripe vivid fruit impressions, but amazingly sleek in profile. It’s slowly starting to loose it’s shy layers from release and notes of almonds are coming forward. Almost candy like, without the sweetness at any point taking focus. The Pinot character is certainly also there, with smoke of black raspberry and a lot of currant in the aftertaste. Stunning stuff.

2005 Roses de Jeanne (Cédric Bouchard), Les Ursules
Served blind

Totally different. No way near as appealing to the 2006 vintage. It’s much more a wine of mystique, where you don’t get the same fruit kick and instant pleasure. Playing more on secondary nuances of brownish apples, dust and black cherry spices. Even though everyone around the table preferred 2006 – the 2005 has improved with cellaring. Give it another year or so.

(Our host; Mads Rudolf)

2006 Bérèche Instant Rosé No 1

Have really looked forward to taste this again and sort of getting confirmation on my first encounter with this cuvée, which I found absolutely wonderful. Once again staggering stuff. Again it's a simple rosé - meaning, easy understandable raspberry/strawberry flavors, but it's so understated, so linear, so fragile and it simple just hits my preferences on how I like a rosé Champagne to be. With air, notes of currant, apricot and smoke appears - all wrapped extremely gentle and classy. Loved it.

2007 Jerome Prévost "La Closerie Fac-Simile Rosé"

A macerated (8 hours) Champagne and a bit more rustic in its character compared to Bérèche. As explained in the intro, this is a situation where you search for errors, as it immediately is clear that you didn't like is as much as glass rival; Instant Rosé No 1 from Bérèche. It's hard for me to describe what exact note sticks out, but some element is disturbing. It has more salty red fruits (cherries and apricot) than Bérèche. The body is also larger - spicier and again rustic. When I first tasted this wine at home, the 2 last glasses was by far the best, where it started to evolved oxidized notes, but also quince and just obtained better balance. I am rather confident that within 1-2 years, this will be a very different bottle of Champagne. So cellar please.

2005 David Léclapart "Alchimiste Rosé"

I don't mind a challenge, but this rosé Champagne is too much for me. I can't help to always have in my mind the outcome of a tasting where we tasted it in vintage 2001 and how much cellaring benefitted this Champagne. But if to judge the Champagne in front of me, it's not good. The nose is bizarre - holding notes of cheese, cranberry, sherry and rusty iron. The style is aggressive and with an almost tannic profile, it's tough Champagne to drink and like. I wonder if in 10-15 years time, this Champagne is one of the finest rosé around and I will seriously regret that I don't have any of them in my cellar? (Alchimiste is macerated for 24 hours)

2004 Benoît Lahaye Millesime

Any Champagne served next in line to Alchimiste will be like a fresh breeze. This was no exception. Delicious and juicy, with sweet flowers and cookie scents. Maybe a bit sweet on the finish line and not holding that much complexity - but thumps up for it's immediate killer pleasing style. As my wife said “A good Champagne to drink if getting really drunk” – why even bother writing a tasting note – priceless.

2004 David Léclapart "L'Amateur"
Served blind

Talk about fresh - like your tongue is stuck on an iceberg, but at the same time with extremely energetic flow from the glass; seawater, cold iron and of course linked to the extremely high level of minerals. Still young, but drinking so well at this stage. Impressive stuff for the entry wine of David Léclapart - Bravo. 2004 is gone here in Denmark – I suggest buying the 2006 vintage, should be at the same level, if not better.

(My wife, Signe - also participated in the tasting)

2004 Larmandier-Bernier , VV de Cramant

There is nothing wrong with this wine - in fact it's good Champagne. I find myself on the same path of fixating too much on things you didn't like. So just keep that in mind. The nose is classic in a sense of flowery and apple scented spectrum. It's juicy with ripe and almost mature fruits. But maybe this easy understandable style is what prevents if from being razor sharp in tallness and attitude. I found the overall impression leaning too much towards a polished style. But I should praise for its sound and appealing drinking pleasure, despite the lack of magic dust.

2004 Agrapart, "Minéral"

Now, I have already heard whispers about Pascal Agrapart being very satisfied with his 2004's. Oh yes - I think the rumors are correct. Singing from the glass, with bright juicy fruit, apples, pears, flowery, mineral infected and just damned pleasing to the palate and mind. What an entry level of a wine.

2004 Agrapart , "Avizoise"

Even better than Minéral. "More of everything" as one taster remarked, but the fruit is even juicier, brighter and the energy is just better. But it also holds pockets of luxurious fruit, such as; peaches and pineapples - which didn't exactly hurt the mouth coating appeal. Impossible to resist at this stage and it’s a must for the all Champagne lovers.

2004 Agrapart "Venus"

When the warm-up to "Venus" had been like this, I much say I had pretty high expectations. I wasn't disappointed. Incredible Champagne - with edges of diamond cut precision and there is absolutely no fuss whatsoever here. Purity is on a scale of its own, handling high level of chalky flavors at a breathtaking focus. The scale of fruit is not as approachable as "Minéral" and "Avizoise" - but deeper founded and highly complex. When you taste it you get a sensational pure and chalky finish and as our host told us, it's like a small film of chalky dust on the tongue. What an accomplishment - the star of the tasting was found. There is 1.700 bottles available of this cuvée - I suggest you start the search now.

NV Krug Grande Cuveée
Served blind

This Champagne was deliberately served colder than all others - in order to hide the higher dosage. Unfortunately (or maybe not) our host forgot in the fridge, so I reckon it was served around 6 degrees cold, where he had planned it to be served somewhere around 9-10 degrees. Anyway it was ravishing delicious - fresh, toasted, vanilla, honey, citrus some nutty flavors and basically just classic. A big pleaser and I don't think anyone didn't like it. However with warmth, some concerns came forward. I - and others detected a note of sulfur. It's not on a level where it ruins the wine, but enough for it (with higher temperature) to loose a lot of life. Compared to Venus, which I tested it against after the tasting, it had no chance at all. And it's not at all complex - what you see is what you get. But again I would like to stress out this hardcore way of judging and concluding on such a day. Its' indeed a nice bottle of Champagne, but I found it to lack a lot, if going into magic section

1989/1990 Leclerc-Briant “Les Chévres Pierreuses”
Served blind

This Champagne was WACK!!!! I think the conclusion went in the direction of being over the hill. The nose consists of; burned honey, malt/beer flavors, fireworks and sawmill. Taste is simply just unpleasant. Water please.

2000 André Beaufort Millesime
Served blind

Ketchup (was it Heinz?). Have you ever been to a tasting where one (or maybe you) detects a note in the wine and suddenly that note is the only thing you can smell? This was such a situation. Ketchup – nothing else. My brain didn’t work beyond the ketchup barrier. However on the palate, it’s not ketchup, but a rather strained high level of sweetness. But for some odd reason – I agreed on this Champagne possessing rather good freshness - better than Krug and Leclerc Briant. However, still controversial stuff

2004 George Laval Hautes Chèvres

The next Champagne divided the table – or should I say, some didn’t agree with my observations. I see some fruit exoticness from this producer. The fruit is very velvety – creamy if you like. In this Champagne I found pineapple, which I later adjusted to mango. Also very flowery and notes of popcorn came to my mind. On the palate it’s firmer – with chalky expression on the finish line –still very young. I think the depth of these Champagnes sometimes stuns you and what actually causes me to think of them being velvety, creamy and exotic. Still brilliant Champagne, but maybe in this line-up, I missed some tallness.

2004 George Laval, Les Chênes

Feels too young, as it doesn’t stretch itself completely on the palate. The nose has promising features of these almost overripe fruit sensations, where notes of mango, flowers and honey are present.

2002 George Laval, Les Chênes

I didn’t write any notes on this, other than “nice nice nice”. Having just tasted it, I can only confirm my TN (you can see it here)

NV (2002 base) George Laval, Brut Nature Cumiéres (Magnum)
Served blind

The last wine of the tasting is usually the one you don’t bother writing any notes. Just relax. However, this Champagne was impossible to resist. Maybe it was the magnum format, but it seemed this Champagne has an energy-gear like no other, with a silky, tickly vibrant fruit core – loaded with spices, cherries and currant. Champagne and magnum is the perfect marriage….think I have said that before – but it’s true.

Then all the bottles were put on the table with bread, cheese and sausage.


Friday, March 5, 2010

2000 Tarlant "La Vigne d'Antan", Champagne

100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 2 g/l
Ungrafted vines
Age of vines: Approx. 55 years
Disgorged: 30/10-2007
Glasses: Zalto White wine and Spiegelau Adina Red wine

Before I popped the cork on this Champagne, I already had an idea how it would be like, as I had tasted it 3 times already. But when I had finished the bottle (all alone) I was actually rather surprised and to some extend my previous analysis was wrong. This is once again a reminder, that you need to care on conclusions - on some Champagnes - before you have had the pleasure of tasting, or at least sharing with someone else, an entire bottle.

In my mind I had the idea, that La Vigne d’Antan was a Champagne with a rich and soft Chardonnay nose. I thought of a dish of scallops, before I opened it, but I actually ended up drinking it with some beef Carpaccio with homemade *pesto and Parmesan cheese (*it’s important to use some lemon peel in the blend, when matching it with white wines or Champagne).

The nose is indeed rich and it’s also elastic as I remember it – so at least I got that right. By elastic I mean the flavours are almost expanding when you stick your nose into the glass. It’s quit fascinating and it’s certainly not hurting the complex touch. If it’s related to the ungrafted vines thing or it’s grown in sandy soil – I couldn’t say for sure? But where I had gotten it wrong it’s in the spices and it’s soil expression. It’s unfolding after 2-3 glasses and taking more and more focus. Most spice notes are dark scented – I wrote Chinese tea on my paper, but also notes of hay and straw came to my mind. The acidity is also in the rise as the mousse slowly calms down and all together the sophistication factor are on the rise, combined with terrific purity, tallness and drinking pleasure.

All in all a fantastic Champagne and I hear the 2002 vintage is soon up for release – I can’t wait.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What else in January and February 2010

The two first months of 2010 has been a nightmare, when it comes to having the sufficient time to write about my wine experiences. Unfortunately I do also have a 08:00 – 17:00 day job and the financial markets have behaved like mad (once again) in the beginning of the year – who said Greece?

I try to offer you all my Champagne experiences, but this has also been impossible during the start of 2010 (yes yes…enough weeping for now)

It also means that I haven’t had time to take any images either, but I have added some atmosphere images – hope you like them.

Here is what I have tasted (Champagne)

The NV (2006) “Inflorescence” from Cédric Bouchard was the perfect appetizing drink, providing vivid freshness, sublime purity and a profound drinking pleasure. My guests immediately start asking where to get this stuff. Once again my impressing of this wine is similar to my previous experience, where pear/peach/apples and red currant are the dominant notes. My six-pack of this wine is soon gone – impossible to resist right now.

On a Thursday, a cloud of depression came over me, as I realized that I would miss my Friday Champagne, as I had to attend a weekend seminar with my employer. Fortunately there are cures for such diseases – and 5 minutes later I had a glass of Champagne in my hand - one of my absolutely favourites for everyday drinking; the NV Emmanuel Brochet "Le Mont Benoìt". Again offering juicy notes of Granny Smith apples, “bio dreams”, oak perfumes (mainly vanilla) and lemon peel. Completely bone dry on the finish with a pretty high acidity. When arriving home on following Sunday, I still had half of this bottles left and would you believe it?... – it was still alive and still possessing bubbles. Of course a different Champagne now and better on day one, but for sure drinkable on day 3.

I had promised you a note on the NV (2006) Ulysse Collin BdN – which I in fact have tasted. However there was a small problem. I brought the bottle to a small get-together with some friends at the newly opened restaurant Melee. However when I handed over the bottle it was freezing cold and just a few minutes later the sommelier poured it into our glasses. Impossible to judge at such low temperature and it was certainly not good. The alcohol felt dominant and it reminded me of a condrieu. It was also extremely tight and no way near what I recall in Champagne, when I tasted it with Olivier Collin in April-2009. Sure with air, some nutty flavours came forward, but never did it impress me. I had hoped to re-taste it later in January, but haven’t found the right occasion.

Also had the 1998 Vilmart Couer de Cuvée – which was a very odd bottle. I believe it was an off bottle.

I travelled to Stockholm in late February, to meet up with new and olds friends. The new friend(s) was likewise thirsty as me and at the very cosy wine cellar “Grappe” we shared some very nice bottles of Champagne. I didn’t take notes, but here is what I recall:

2005 Cédric Bouchard “La Bolorée”

Once again completely unique. Maybe not as sharp as the bottle I had at home, but very close. I simply loved it, although around the table one of the tasters showed concern of it’s very different profile and it’s for sure not a Champagne for everyone. But if you don’t like it – sell it to me ;-)

2005 Cédric Bouchard “La Haut Lamblee”

As with La Bolorée it’s Champagne without no fuss whatsoever. It’s crystal clear in profile, amazing sleek and energetic. The nose is filled with lime, mint, flowers and peach scents. It’s violent young, but still a bit rounder on the palate compared to the 2004, which I found a bit more precise. Constantly evolving in the glass. I will taste it again in near future.

2004 Vilmart Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé

Fruit orgy – or should I say fruit crazy. First nosedive was interesting, but then it get’s weird and falls out of balance. Enormous “happy dolphin” red fruit, with bicycle tubes, banana peel, apricot and yes…just MAD!!!. The taste is fairly similar, but holding fairly good freshness over the evening. Even if I didn’t like it at all, I can still see myself drinking something like this on a summer day - picnic overlooking a field of flowers and my kids playing. It brings you in a good mood; even it’s somewhat wacky Champagne for my palate.

1985 Diebolt-Vallois

Didn’t care much for this at the beginning, as it seemed to be over the hill. But it gains strength and opens up during the evening, presenting an evolved nose of coffee, mushrooms flavours and with fairly good complexity. However it falls a bit short of the palate, where it lacks structure and concentration. Overall it was still a nice glass of Champagne.

1996 Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvée

It’s funny because I don’t drink or own that much Billecart-Salom – and I am slowly beginning to realize it’s a big mistake. This bottle simply blew my mind. It’s so razor sharp with apple and flower scents, which has an uncompromising energy. It’s scope and layers, are both spectacular concentrated - yet I am reminded how refined and elegant a Champagne producer Billecart-Salmon are. This is one of those Champagnes that make you realize than the when the 1996 vintage presents itself like this, it’s like no other vintage I have tasted.

1989 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchantele

Not my cup of tea. My fellow tasters however loved it. When a Champagne get’s so toasted like this, I for once, see the Dom Perignon monster (I also guessed DP) and it’s overpowering all other flavours. On top of that it’s a purity killer in my book. However my fellow tasters talked a lot about this Champagne suitable for a hedonist drinking experience – sort of the last Champagne of the night, sitting in front of the fire place and I can easily see where they are going with it. I would always salute the concept of a wine to each moment in order to preserve the diversity. So even if I didn’t like it, this night, I will promise to report if I have in front of a fireplace with a naked woman (my wife of course).

1964 Veuve Clicquot

I haven’t been that fortunate with old Champagne and this is not exactly perfect either. But the nose still had a lot of allure and it’s fascinating what aromas old Champagne can deliver. First of all the colour was close to our 2004 Vilmart Rosé – almost red. The nose is very sweet, but still rather fresh with all sort of wild stuff going on. However it falls short on the palate, as the fruit has died out. Still great fun to taste.

PS: While in Stockholm I had lunch at F12 and dinner @ Matbaren – the latter is highly recommendable.


Once again opened a 2004 Giusto di Notri (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot) from Tua Rita. It’s a pleaser wine, with blackberries, blackcurrant and a warm-blooded soul, which my guest and I enjoyed with great pleasure. For some reason, Italian red always seems to be the perfect type of reds I can serve my guest – they provide a lot of true natural warmth and flavours which is easy to understand. Should I say anything critical, I would repeat that it still have way too much use of new oak.

On the same night I had one of my last bottles of the 2001 Montevetrano (you can see a detailed TN here). I loved it (again), but my guest liked the Giusto di Notri much better – oh well, more Montevetrano for me.

When I visited Luigi Pira in Piemonte in late 2007 in bough the 1999 Marenca, which has never disappointed me. On a day in January I had it again and yes it’s great – starting to show deeper evolved notes of overripe cherries, forest and mushrooms flavours, but still preserving those dried elements of a great Barolo. However, I have to say the level of alcohol is teasing me and taking away some drinking pleasure...yes yes I am turning in to a saved puritan Champagne-soul.

2001 Paleo from Le Macchiole (100% Cabernet Franc) was also on the menu in January. From an objective view the wine is seriously impressive. Holding incredible vivid level of sweet fruit aromas, with blackberry and vanilla. However – I can’t say that I dislike ripe fruit, but in this case it seems almost untamed and from a subjective point of wine I was happy, but not ecstatic about it. Fortunately it also possessed the classic Le Macchiole Tuscan herbs scents and I see big cellar potential for it.


Even if German Riesling is some of my favourite summer siblings, I do try some also at winter. It’s not always a success.

I opened the 2003 Heymann-Löwenstein “Röttgen”, which was so so. I am still overly impressed with this producer, which delivers a very authentic and energetic feeling. However the 2003 vintage causes it to fall a little bit out of balance, as the fruit core looses grip and it had a bit too much burned honey notes on both nose and palate.

Another German Riesling was the 2005 Morstein GG from Wittmann, which I had over 2 days. It’s a healthy and high quality wine, but it’s not doing much to me. On day one it has a bit of fennel notes, gooseberries, lemon peel and apple/pear notes, but I think it’s missing some magic. Day 2 it becomes subtler and the nose is better, but again – it’s too average for my taste. Maybe….it was not the right tactic to open it during a day with snow and minus 10 degrees outside.

I think that was it.