Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3 X German Riesling – short notes

(Yes sorry - the flowers again - I am running out of ideas ;-) )

I had the 2007 Riesling GG ”Halenberg” from Emrich-Schönleber on a beautiful July summer day. I found it very mouth coating and generous with honey fruit, but not particular complex, as the fruit core was too oily and elastic, which took some grip away. I didn’t decant it and I am sure this was a mistake. Have a few more – but might cellar now in order to bring out more layers.

I found the 2004 “Hermannshöhle GG” from Dönnhoff much better. This wine is sensational delicious – with notes of lush peach and mango. Some of my most geeky Riesling friends find Dönnhoff too polished and I can see what they mean, but with a wine like this, you just have to surrender yourself.

The last German Riesling I had was the 2005 Schlossberg from George Breuer. The wine was very disappointing with strong notes of honey, fennel, hay, ginger and gasoline. I consider Breuer to be an excellent producer and am particular fond of the “Nonnenberg” – but this wine was really awkward. I e-mailed my good friend Martin, who I trust as a true Riesling expert and he told me that Schlossberg is a wine to cellar and not drink now. So there you go – don’t listen to me.

Cheers…and all in Zalto Universal – the glass on the first image.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The last bottle of the 12-pack / Emmanuel Brochet

(Emmanuel Brochet - whom I visited in April-2010

As I have just finished my last bottle out of ‘12 of the; “Le Mont Benoit” (label) from Emmanuel Brochet, I thought it would be more than appropriate to give you an update and go back to the visit I never got the time to write about.

While I was in Champagne in April this year, I drove by the tiny town of Villers-aux-Noeuds, where Emmaniel Brochet is residing. He has 2.5 hectares of land and his vineyard is named - like the cuvee; “Le Mont Benoit”. The parcel is planted with 37% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 23% Pinot Noir. Some vines goes back to the early 1960’s, but even in 2003 Brochet had to replant a tiny portion due to devastating frost damages.

As Emmanuel Brochet just started making wine in 1997 he has a curious approach and seems very open minded in his way of going forward. He works organically in the vineyard, “as you have to have respect of nature and find a harmony in your work”.

Before my visit I only had knowledge about the “Le Mont Benoit” cuvée, but I was about to learn, that there is 2 new (maybe 3) projects in the making. Brochet will release a BdB 2005 Vintage, when it’s ready and we tasted the wine, which indeed was very tight, but deadly promising. Also a 100% Pinot Meunier, from 2008 vintage is in the making. Even a rosé is on the drawing board.

We also tasted the latest release from of “le Mont Benoit” – both with about 5 g/l of dosage and the non-dosage. The non-dosage was far superior in my humble opinion.

(Pufff - disgorging a Champagne)

But back to the Le Mont Benoit

Blend: 45% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier
Base: 2005 vintage (with 15% reserve wine from 2004)
Dosage: 0 g/l
Glass: Spiegelau Adina “Red wine” and Zalto Champagne

It hasn't really changed that much since I popped the first bottle in May-2009. Sure a bottle of two has been slightly more oxidized, with a broader profile and oilier fruit core. But this last bottle was still utterly refreshing, with notes of melon, flowers, citrus, lime, granny smith apples and peach. It has a divine touch of grassy notes – but more in the direction of wheat and straw. It’s not only a component on the nose, but also on the palate where it intensifies the structure and the overall grip. As I have pointed out before with this Champagne, it always present itself as simple, but as you slowly drink more of it – it has much more than “simple” to offer.

Luckily there is a cure from the tragic death of the last bottle, as there is a new release on the market now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2004 David Léclapart "L'Artiste", Champagne

100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l
Aged in half old barriques and half enamelled steel tanks
Vines roughly 37 years of age
Glass: Spiegelau Adina “Red wine"

This is just a small update

My birthday, 11th of August – my parents are over for dinner and we are drinking Champagne – but of course. After having served them a beautiful NV Rosé Zero from Tarlant (this Champagne works better in the Zalto glass), I poured 2004 L’Artiste from David Léclapart. I had my fingers crossed, that this bottle would be as nice as the one I had back in March 2010. I was not disappointed – in fact this bottle was even better.

This update is merely just to tell you how outrageous good this Champagne is. Big brother L’Apôtre might have more depth, but 2004 L’Artiste is candidate for being the most electrical Champagne I have ever tasted. It’s energy and tallness is something you don’t see everyday and imagine how it’s adding to its already incredible purity. Pure magic.

This Champagne has many years left – but if you have this wine in your cellar – I suggest you try a bottle right now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2008 Cédric Bouchard "Inflorescence"

100% Pinot Noir
Disgorgement date: 12 April 2010
Dosage: 0 g/l
Glass: Spiegelau Adina Red wine

The day after 2000 Dom Pérignon, I needed to have something completely different – something anti-Dom Pérignon style. I could come up with a decent amount of possibilities, but I chose the youngest Champagne I had in the wine cabinet – the 2008 Inflorescence from Cédric Bouchard.

I bought a sample of this wine, together with the 2007 vintage (will taste it soon) and I was told the 2008 might present itself a bit too young with some baby fat appearance. Well – this is certainly the case, as the Champagne is almost like drinking directly from the pressing. The fruit is so juicy, refreshing and almost fat in character. It’s like the wine hasn’t transformed itself into a wine yet – but my God it’s so utterly delicious and I would never ever recommend hands off – even if it will certainly benefit from just having 1 year more in the bottle. The notes are these lush apple juices, even some pear flavour, plus: Melon, citrus, black cherries and currant perfumes. The cherries and currant – are not yet fully integrated, as the fruity components have so much control – but they are in the background, providing edge and character. The taste is lush, incredible juicy and you just have to give in to a wine, which is just so pure, pleasing and pleasurable.

2008 is already called a legendary vintage – it’s still early days, but this is a divine specimen.

Suddenly I forgot all about Dom Pérignon – and was once again reminded why I love Champagne so much.

2000 Dom Pérignon

49% Pinot Noir
51% Chardonnay
Production: Secret (a good guess is 5 million bottles)
Dosage: 6 g/l
Glasses: Several

Good old Dom Pérignon.

Pierre Pérignon and me aren’t particular good friends after some catastrophic dates with vintage 1999 and 1996. I simply don’t get the fuss about this product, which to me is more about branding than a great glass of Champagne. Sure – it’s the easiest statement you can come up with, when you like me, are biased towards small producers which are exploring the great terroir of the Champagne region. It would also be a bit crazy just to throw DP in the garbage can – when it’s a Champagne with an impressive track record and a Champagne which over several decades have moved many wine lowing hearts. But does it have what it takes to impress a nerd like me and not only be a status symbol and one of the world’s strongest brands?

I have been especially keen on finding out more about the notes I analyze as being sulphur in DP and in general I find it to be a very impure product. I found some interesting things from Peter Liem, where he interviewed Chef de Cave of Dom Pérignon; Richard Geoffroy. He speaks about “grey” and “brown” notes. Grey is a reductive note, such as “smoke, peat and coffee”, where Brown is an oxidized note, such as - raisin, spice and dried fruits. It’s important to remember, that Dom Pérignon are always made in a very reductive manner, which in this early stage can provoke grey notes. But Richard Geoffroy seeks to avoid “Brown” as the “Grey” will maintain better freshness as DP ages. For both that DP and the Dom Pérignon Rosé it’s essential that the product will age well. This information is worth having and I can accept that some wines have phases and early stages where their profile are shield or not exactly friendly. But to me, all great wines do have to shine or give a hint of their greatness at some stage, even if you have to analyze them a bit more thoroughly.

But let’s take a closer look at the 2000 Vintage.

Served rather chilled – directly from the fridge.

I already had my sulphur gasmask ready, when I poured my first glass. But no – luckily sulphur was actually not something I thought about. In fact it had a rather appealing flowery tone, with delicate lime zest. So far, so god – but trouble was ahead. As it rises in temperature – above 10-11 depress it completely falls apart. The always-toasted profile of Dom P, with smoke, nuts and melted butter – takes a gigantic step forward and becomes like a constant monotone repeating tone in your ear and it’s nothing but annoying. The vanilla tone is tacky – I can appreciate oaky perfumes in general, but here it’s simply not in balance (DP sees no wood . these tones are the result of cultured yeasts). The worst tone is however, what some might describe as spices – but to me its dark impure funky aromas of old thyme, coffee and goat cheese. Taste is horrible – the mousse is like a big foaming soap in the mouth – for some maybe creamy and delicious, but to me it’s like a big burp of aromas. It’s not enough that the mousse cleans the mouth in itself; it has to be done with clarifying tones, backbone structure, minerality and acidity. This is not a task DP can deliver – if fails big time and once again – it’s completely lifeless on the palate. Where the hell are the nerve, vibe and acidity? It’s not undrinkable - just so utterly indifferent in my opinion. I feel like claiming this is amateur stuff – something you could drink in a nightclub, and a product completely stripped of terroir and soul. Such a statement will always come out wrong and arrogant – but that’s how I feel about it.