Tuesday, April 27, 2010

1999 Vilmart "Coeur de Cuvée", Champagne

80% Chardonnay
20% Pinot Noir

I haven’t touched this wine since Jan-2008, where I recommended 5 years of cellaring. But this is typical me – or maybe you suffer from the same curious fever, where you always end up drinking your wines too early, as you simply can’t keep your hands off?

Anyway, I was in for a surprise and a good one. From being a flowery and citrus shell back in early-2008, it has obtained a lot of oxidation signs and as always in the case of Couer de Cuvée some of this openness comes from delightful, appetizing and seductive oak perfumes. Hand in hand with notes of spice box, chocolate flavours and the sensual oak perfumes, it offers a spectacular mouth coating effect. Notes of honey, quince, vanilla and evening perfume is a part of the aromas escaping from the glass. On the palate it again has a lot of creaminess, but it’s fairly low in acidity. Where you can still fell the young side of this Champagne is the structure, which despite its creaminess offers dynamite concentration. You can discuss whether this Champagne is a bit too oak infected. You can also argue, whether the low acidity and the lack of mineral bite back is a minus. To some degree it’s problematic as the drinking experience can end up being a bit monotone, as barrel perfumes seldom holds enough complexity without an elegant partner – nor won’t the taste buds be “cleaned” properly by the lack of bright acidity. At least, that’s the standard answer – but I had the whole bottle to myself (home alone) and I was happy all the way. It’s one of these Champagnes where you simply just are in the mood of relaxing and this Champagne did it to perfection.

I believe the drinking window has started for this Champagne. The fruit and concentration is in solid condition and offers many layers. But, as the acidity is low and the oxidation has already occurred, I can’t see a reason why one shouldn’t just jump in now?

I tested it in 4 different glasses. The result was very different. This note is more or less based on Adina Red wine, which also takes the Champagne into a even more evolved stage, than in comparison with a glass like Zalto.

2004 David Léclapart "L'Artiste", Champagne

100% Chardonnay
Biodynamic made
Aged in half old barriques and half enameled steel tanks.
Vines roughly 37 years of age
Glass: Spiegelau Adina “Red wine”

I recently heard a whisper, from a very reliable source, that 2004 Artiste was not closed anymore. Such information is not to be ignored, as – after tasting the 1999 Vintage some years ago, I started to speculate whether I had to wait a decade before the extremely tight a mineral infected 2004 Artiste would ever come around.

Let me start by confirming that the Champagne has indeed changed and is now to be considered approachable. Whether it stays like this and brings Artiste further and further down its evolution path, I couldn’t say for sure? I would not be a surprised if the flower contracts a few times more, as it almost seems like the destiny, for the very authentic wines of David Léclapart.

When I say approachable – don’t think of Champagne with oxidations patterns, nutty and dark bread flavours starting to come forward – NO, it’s nothing like that. It’s more like a frozen snowball filled with sensational level of minerals, starting to melt. I have often described Artiste’s little brother; Amateur like frozen Evian – and if to stay on the same analogy frequency, Artiste is like a frozen iceberg. The purity is on scale of it’s own and it plays with so high level of energy that ever sniff is like being brought back to life. The fruit has always been filled with greenish apple notes, but here you see the transformation, as the apples are now juicier and even have started to have secondary nuances of peach and pear. On the palate it’s fascinating how the aftertaste is not something you chew on, but particles of crystallized minerals slowly breaking apart. In all essence it makes it incredible sleek and elegant.

If you are the owner of ’04 “L’Artiste” I suggest you open a bottle now, if it turns out to be just a window. You shouldn’t miss such an opportunity.

Beautiful, pure and artistic Champagne – simply just “Artiste”

Monday, April 26, 2010

NOMA Update - Worlds best restaurant

Noma has just been voted Number 1 (The World’s 50 Best Restaurant)

It’s insane.

You can argue whether such a list can have a valid say and I have never personally been in favour of top this and that. Sort of naming the world’s best wine.

But I can assure you, that for Denmark, Nordic food and especially the Noma crew it means the world. It’s a giant step in unfolding the Nordic food chest and telling a story which has just begun.

One thing is for certain – it will be impossible to get a table there now. I will visit again 19th of June – what about you?

Champagne is required now – CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I wish I could have presented you with photos of Noma fine cuisine – however it’s not possible for me to take images during a business dinner. Trines Very Good Food has some brilliant images of the food – otherwise go to the website. All the images here, are shot just before lunch service on a beautiful spring day in April.

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote my first ever concerned review about restaurant Noma. Since then I have given it a lot of thought - if it was just a bump on the road or was it maybe just me, not understanding that type of food anymore?? A visit to Noma is a full blown sense bombardment, but it's also storytelling and last time I seemed lost in understanding the story.

Noma is Nordic food. So dogmatic rules has been engaged since the opening and only Nordic ingredients are allowed. When Noma started, everyone thought such a concept was insane and a limitation, but as Noma gradually opened the treasure chest of the Nordic food landscape, gained knowledge - it turned out to be a gift. Noma slowly claimed one success after another and is currently considered No.3 Restaurant in the world, by the Restaurant Magazine (50 best).

I have always admired Noma courage by embracing such a risky concept. Nordic and Denmark may sound as the easiest plan in the world, but as you can read in the Noma cookbook, Noma was facing financial disaster shortly after the opening, as the supply lines of the Nordic kitchen was not something that was just out there. It's easier to buy asparagus from Thailand than buying a pristine scallop from Norway. So everything was small steps on unfamiliar territory and a journey in understanding what the Nordic seasons has to offer and how they can be turned into a successful plate of food.

Chef René Redzepi has been there from the start and it seem like Noma is he brainchild where he has been able to, not only define the restaurants profile, but also be the leading voice of Nordic cuisine. Noma has been, and I believe still are, a strong inspirational source for many of the restaurants here in Denmark and around the world.


....On the 12th of March I sat down again, with some clients from Paris - almost tense about getting on with the dinner. First thing which caught my attention, was the calmed and personal service. Now, the last visit I noticed too many waiters and too many chef's presenting our food and then rushing away to the next table or back to the kitchen. This time it was calm, personal and even our guest from Paris noticed this informal service, which simply makes you feel welcome. For me it's vital that you immediately feel welcome and simply just relax. It's something which is natural for Noma as the atmosphere of the rustic room almost invites you in. I also have to make kudos to waiter/sommelier; Ulf, who served our table and handled the wine as it where small treasures. So far - so good.

But the best was yet to come.

We started with the appetizers. Maybe because it's been a while since I have been to Noma without my wife, I haven't noticed you now are sharing the appetizers. It's a good thing, it makes you talk about the food and pay attention, as you sometimes can get lost in conversation and sipping Champagne. All appetizers were tasty and well composed in their serving order and tickle the taste buds as appetizers should do. But also here my guest and I got the first laughs of picking up and eating food with our fingers and also being presented with wicked and creative presentations.

The dinner blew my mind. I would go as far as calling it artistic. Food which you have no idea how to create yourself and which are so exquisite and seamless combined, that you actually feels like you are witnessing something truly special. I was actually proud to be sort of a Danish Ambassador to my foreign guest. They had never tried anything like it.

I can't go into all the details about the food as I tried to relax as much as possible.

But here are some highlights.

The langoustine dish was out of this world good - Goosebumps all over me and it didn't make it any worse that we had the 1996 Jacques Selosse with that dish. The Champagne is still young, but slowly starting to show some glow of walnuts and quince. However the acidity snaps everything together and makes the focus unique and razor sharp. What a Champagne.

The pike dish was also brilliant - incredible flavours mixed together. Also remember the first dish, with variations of beetroot. Incredible, how such a dish is composed in rich flavours and yet so subtle at the same time. This is in general a red line for Noma and to me their strongest card.

The dish, which I hated the most, last time I visited Noma was pickled vegetables and bone marrow, herbs and bouillon. This dish was also served this night, but it had been altered slightly. The difference was the bouillon. Last time it was poured as a soup over the vegetables and taking complete control and ruining the dish, as the soup was so fat and sweet. This time it was sprinkle more gently and magic appeared. The bouillon holding a lot of sweet components and when touching the vegetables, their flavours exploded. On top of the dish (think it was also altered from last time), there was some herbs with an acidic touch (maybe it was wood sorrel). Magic - pure magic.

(Sommerlier Pontus Elofsson)

Ahhh...wine...I studied the wine list before we arrived (but of course) and I had an idea that we could do the wine menu and use a few stand-ins' - like the previously mentioned, 1996 Selosse Vintage. The other wine I had set my eyes on was the 2001 Comte de Vogue Chambolle Musigny "les Amoureuses". It was a beautiful wine, not as ballerina light and perfumed "red" like other Amoureuses, but with more rough intensity and devilish bite. Even if a bit rustic and young, it was killer nice and matched the food perfectly.

Planning is one thing - spontaneously joy is another thing - so we actually got a little thirstier. I saw the extremely rare 2004 Cedric Bouchard "Rosé de Saigness Creux D'Enfer" on the wine list and simply could resist. It didn't match the food though, but it still offered a unique rosé charm, with its sleek, spicy and bone dry style.

While I washed my hands at the men's room, I realized upon return to the table, that my guest thought we needed a new bottle of Champagne. Oh well - this late only Substance from Selosse (deg. 10/07) could work, so we went for it. Great stuff, even if it's not my favourite Champagne, it provided so much full throttle and hedonist pleasure and it was the perfect way to end this evening.

Well Noma - I think we can safely conclude that I was a very pleased costumer when I left the restaurant.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A great IGT

2001 Querciabella “Camartina”

Praise towards an Italian IGT wine – can it be? Oh yes.

So why is this wine great?

The blend is not usually my favourite – (70% Cabernet / 30% Sangiovese) – as I tend to find Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon a bit neutral – with very little complexity and mainly too much blackcurrant for my taste. Sangiovese – well…Sangiovese is just better alone, with that bright red fruit giving joy.

However – Tuscany is a place where generalization can prove to me a dangerous game.

This wine is sensational delicious. It’s utterly fresh and cool tempered and just so Italian – despite it’s grape mixture. The nose holds; leather, red fruit (yummy), lots of Tuscan herbs and so sleek and elegant. It's vibrant young and has a divine slim curl around the tongue. It can be drunk from now-2020. Brilliant stuff.