Thursday, September 16, 2010

What else summer 2010?

Most of these notes are from memory and they all have in common that I rarely have time to shoot a label or simply don’t have the camera with me. So you will have to settle with a mix of images related and not related to wine.

My good friend Claus – invited me over for a small get-together/dinner on one of the warmest July days. We kicked off with (2005) Les Papilles Insolites (Extra brut) from Jacques Lassaigne. A funky Champagne – but unfortunately with some odd earthy aromas with plum and potato. I would categorize it more in the mysterious section – but not really doing much good for me. Better was the 2006 Les Ursules from Cédric Bouchard, which I have had twice over summer. I will write a more detailed note later on this spectacular Champagne.

We then turned to red wines – everything was served blind. I had two wines to guess – I nailed them both to Italy, which was correct, but I headed towards Tuscany, which wasn’t exactly right. In the glass was a stunning cool tempered wine from Etna, Sicily. A wine I have tasted before – the 2004 Passopisciaro (100% Nerello Mascalese). This wine is so interesting – offering tons of dried red fruits and leather notes. It’s a light weighted wine, with precise tongue curl and explosive mineral expression.

Next glass offered some of the same – so clearly Italy again. But I wasn’t good enough to once again guess Etna. In the glass we had Passopisciaro big brother, called “Passopisciaro Franchetti” (80% Petit Verdot 80%, 20% Cesanese) – also in 2004 Vintage. This wine is on paper a more impressive wine, with bigger mass and international appeal. The fruit is deeper – sweeter with overripe plums and also these great leather notes. There is also bigger influence of new oak. However, I liked little brother Passopisciaro better – it’s fresher and a more genuine wine.

I served the 2006 Heissenstein from julien Meyer, Alsace – which performed great and was so delicate pure. You can find a more detailed note on this wine here.

Other stuff:


2001 Cepparello from Isole e Olena (100% Sangiovese), is a wine I loved just after its release. So you do the classic manoeuvre; cellar it with the intention for it to become even more multi faceted. And what happens? It looses all the young vibrant nerve and goes into a plum and velvet style (notes of cherries, blackcurrant and dark chocolate), which is just not my thing. It’s however too early to write Cepparello off as it could just be a phase. Fingers crossed – this bottle wasn’t good.

The 2001 Barolo Rocche from Andrea Oberto was an also a real disappointment. The wine radiates from the glass with too much camphor notes. This classic Nebbiolo note does usually not turn me off, but it has to be better balance than here. But in most cases, it’s the witness of a wine not ready for drinking and this could be the case for this wine. There is tons of fruit here, which makes the wine a bit crazy in general. The fruit should provide a secure path for the future potential - however – I am slightly concerned how polished this wine feels and how indifferent the notes of violet and vanilla feels. Let’s see – cellar 4 years more.

I had the 2004 Paleo from Le Macchiole here in September. The wine is still under heavy influence of its young age and I simply didn’t have time to decant it. I think it currently has too much happiness towards the use of new oak and it creates indifferent notes blackcurrant, dark chocolate and vanilla. Le Macchiole is a producer, which usually displays great notes of Tuscan herbs – but the 2004 are currently too much about cheerful fruit. However – there is tons of fruit and bitter tannins – so it should age well. Cellar 3-4 years more.

A French white:

I have been thrilled with the 2008 Le Mont from Alexandre Jouveaux and decided to taste some of his other wines. Unfortunately the title is not sexier than a 2007 vin de table, as Alexandre Jouveaux apparently doesn't want all the paper works with the A.O.C. But who cares? As the wine speak for itself with a remarkable vibrant appeal. Like "Le Mont" its resemblance to Champagne is obvious. I analyze this to emerge from the chalky touch, but also the presence of yeasty notes (there is some yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle). However the 2 wines are somewhat different. "Le Mont" is showing extremely high-pitched notes - from greenish apple, limestone to a very demanding acidity. This wine is more subtle (but only in comparison) and in general a wine with a broader spectrum of honey melon, soil expression and flowers. On paper a bigger wine, but for me "Le Mont" is a bit more insane and I find its challenging style even more appealing. The taste of this 2007 is crystal clear, fragile in character and with bright acidity. Very interesting.


Well I try to give you most of my notes, but occasionally I miss a few here and there.

I decided to buy a very fair priced rosé Champagne (18€) from a producer called Chaudron. The wine won a wine test in a Danish newspaper and I thought, why not. Okay…it was like sticking you tongue out of the window. The wine was so thin and so indifferent. How on earth could this wine have won such a challenge? The other Champagnes really had to be horrible. But then again…before I polish my own halo – I have also concluded weird things from guessing in darkness – that’s one of the fun things about blind tastings.

One of the best things about tasting wine, and now also having a blog, is meeting other wine lovers. It doesn’t take long before you connect and this is one of the absolutely best bonuses about wine.

In July I met with one of my readers of the blog together with our families. Where else to met than Tivoli to combine kids and parents time. We ended up in NIMB, where we had a nice dinner – with some Champagnes (surprise). The first one up was the 2002 Venus from Agrapart. The Champagne is still deadly young, with loads of chalk and an overall very tight flowery fruit core. It has a very subtle toasted note with an equal subtle note of butter sensations. The taste is demanding dry (no dosage) and it’s obvious this Champagne is no way near it’s drinking window. It’s also a Champagne with remarkable clarity and precision – loved it. Cellar 4 years more.

We also had the 1991 Clos du Goisses from Philipponnat. Clearly an off vintage, but I have learned with some Champagne producers that you shouldn’t be scared to pick an off vintage as they can often surprise you. Besides, it was priced very moderate. Indeed a nice glass of Champagne, which had the Clos du Goisses spirit. This Pinot Noir dominated Champagne is known for its longevity and bold character. The ’91 here might not have the strength of a great vintage, but it had lots of charm with notes of: walnuts, marzipan, sour dough, honey, but also some fresh citrus appeal – making it stand taller in the glass. A solid good glass of mature Champagne.

(Noma: Raw shrimp with sea urchin snow)

More Champagne….

It’s been two years since I have tasted the 1999 Vilmart Grand Cellier Rubis Rosé, but in August I gave it another go. My expectations where low here, as this rosé has recently stroked me as being somewhat fruit crazy and too heavy for my palate.

However I was in for a nice surprise. The Champagne was bursting out of the glass with enormous fruit. Close your eyes and you think you have chilled red Burgundy in the glass. Even if so much red wine association is never my cup of tea, I like it when the fruit has dried out and this is exactly the case here. It gives the wine a salted and rustic feel and it makes it far more interesting in my book than a smooth “horny” red thing. However make no mistake here – this is indeed a concentrated rosé, which in the Adina glass was more than a rollercoaster than a divine fragile thing. However – I liked it, but it was also the reason why I had to drink it over 2 days. The notes were; salted apricot, black cherries, iron and currant.

I had the 2002 BdB from Jacques Lassaigne in June and once again it proved to be a nice offering. It has a fair amount of autolysis character on the nose, with notes of honey melon and apples. As the nose gives the impression of being classic and open (comes from the autolysis character) – the taste is bone dry, a bit demanding and holding back a lot. It creates a balance dilemma and I would recommend some further cellaring, but I have a theory that it could just be a “’02 phase” (most 2002 are currently closed) and like 2004 L’Artiste from Léclapart, a window of perfect drinking opportunity could suddenly appear.

I had the 2007 Infloscence from Cédric Bouchard. I really can't find anything negative to say about his wines. However I found the 2007 to be the least interesting in comparison with 2006 and 2008 vintage. Hard to say what it exactly made the difference - small details here and there. It didn't have the same focus, despite the flavours was pretty similar. 2008 is however hard to compare against, as it's so freshly pressed juice. 2007 was tasted on a root day - so maybe that was the reason?

More and more Champagne….

I am constantly complaining about the lack of time to dedicate myself to this blog. However – this is unfortunately the reality and I wish I could have shared this dinner in more details than just this small comment.

For the second year in a row, restaurant Noma dedicated the wine menu in June and July solely to Champagne. I went with my wife and had one of the most memorable meals in my life. I didn’t bring my camera, but at the table next to me sat my favourite Danish food blogger; Trine /Verygoodfood and she have provided me with some images. You can read hear brilliant detailed report here:

(Noma: “Oyster and the ocean”)

My highlights:

Raw shrimp with sea urchin snow

Incredible dish. The stones had been frozen to the plate and it made a thing with your senses and just took the purity of the dish to a magical stage. The urchin brought warmth and character and made the dish complete.

Another dish, which played with the sea association was; “Oyster and the ocean”. Served in a pot, which had a base of stones and seaweed, which had been cooked in seawater. On top were the oysters with popping tapioca seeds, pickled elderberry capers, herbs and flowers. I tell you when the lit was lifted from the pot it was like a child memory being brought to life. For me my vacations at my grandmother’s house when I was a child, which was located just by the sea. But!! I wasn’t there was I?...I were at Noma and in my hand there was great glass of Inflorescence from Cédric Bouchard. WOW!!!!

To prove how relax a restaurant Noma are (despite their No. 1 ranking in the world) – they even let you cook your own dish. You can see the image series at Trine’s site. A 250 degrees hot pan arrives, which is leaning slightly to the downside. On the side you have rapeseed oil and an egg - plus herbs butter, spinach, ramson, potato crisps and sorrel. So you break the egg and suddenly things start to fry up. A small clock is turned on by the waiter and after 2 minutes you are asked to add the butter on the free space on the pan (which are caused by the way it’s leaning) and add the ramson. You top it off with the potato chips and sorrel. Brilliant!!!.

The others Champagne on the wine menu were:

“Les Clos” from Laherte “Bdb” from Pascal Doquet
“Bdb Les Vignes de Montgueux” from Jacques Lassaigne
“Abonnay Blanc” from André Beaufort
2006 “Les vignes d’Autrefois” from Laherte
2006 Trépail Rouge from David Léclapart
“NV Bulles de Miel” Demi-Sec from Vincent Couche”
“NV Demi-Sec” from André Beaufort

Think that was it.

What did you have this summer – what were your favourites?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A renewed love maybe?

When summer hits, I always stock up some wines, which I can taste with my feet up and hopefully enjoy some nice Danish weather. This was certainly the case this year. So I was looking for some nice offerings at my favourite wine shop and the owner pointed at this wine. “What about Syrah – Rhone?” What about that one;

2009 Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, “C'est le Printemps ”.

No way, dude, I thought. Finally did I get rid of all my Rhone wines and I am not touching that area anymore, my friend. I felt all the prejudices working inside me and a wave of alcoholic, dense, over extracted, horse stinking wines (brett / brettanomyces) with absolutely no drinking pleasure whatsoever coming towards me. No chance in hell that I would go back to that Parkerized crap again.

But I did – for 4 reasons.

1) I trust my wine pushers taste. 2) The wine was 17,-€ 3) the label said 12.2% Alc – so a chance of a wine, which I can actually drink, without falling asleep. Finally 4) it’s of course idiotic to discard Rhone completely and generalize so rudely. It’s fine to be critic, but I have to say, that I have lost touch on Rhône since the 2003 vintage and haven’t really tasted much. So I stay humble and why not always be curious?

So how was it?

The wine was beautiful and it’s once again one of those wines which bring you back to your roots. I have said this over and over again – the drinking pleasure (how odd it may sound) is one of the most underrated values we have in modern wine judgment. This wine has tons of drinking pleasure. It’s also a wine, which is very primary – even the colour is purple and the fruit feels like a freshly picked bowl of cherries, blue and blackberries. I have tasted it three times now and the last time I decanted, as the red cherry note takes on a little more refined tone. There is also a typical trademark of the Syrah grape – the note of liquorice. But that note is actually delicious as it’s not toned in a usual bombastic way – NO! Its cool tempered, even the wines spicy touch is not peppery, it’s refined – and the wine is in general shining with remarkable simple freshness and the desire to smell and taste is constantly on the rise. Taste has divine simple and juicy curl around the tongue.

Less is more – I wish all Rhone wines would be like this. Well done.

Glass: Zalto Burgundy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

2006 Cédric Bouchard "La Bolorée",Champagne

100% Pinot Blanc
Dosage: 0 g/l
Production: 800-1.000 bottles
Time on it's lees: 38 months
Disgorged: 12th of April 2010
Other data: 40-year old vines - 0,2107 ha
Glass: Spiegelau Adina “Red Wine”

Tasting a Champagne made from 100% Pinot Blanc is of course rare – but it’s really the style of Cédric Bouchard, which always makes me re-think Champagne.

Cédric Bouchard is one not only redefining Champagne, but he is bending the wheel in such a way - that it’s not just about being different - but making something spectacular and something which will twist you own mind and palate. Even if his Champagnes aren’t new to me anymore, I always know, that things like the traditional aroma wheel is not valid on this planet and you always have too feel the Champagne more like a character – than a liquid which you can just dissect into small aromatic notes. I have to say, that the rising familiarity with his Champagnes – is not only a comfortable zone – it’s also a style, which I feel myself much more drawn to.

I had very high expectation towards 2006 La Bolorée as the 2005 vintage simply blew my mind. ’06 is much more reserved and it was really nice at first – but nothing more. The spices or should I say herbal character were dominating too much and simply ruining the balance as it overpowered the other notes. I took a small break for 20 minutes and just rested it in an ice bucket (not so much ice…you have to keep the serving temperature around 10-13 degrees). The wine had transformed into a small miracle. The purity is now able to shine, together with an enormous energetic fruit core. The herbs are now transformed into extremely refined spices, which goes into a pot of notes, which is not something you see everyday. I had to focus really hard and found small portions of; ginger, wet rocks, slate, hay, citrus, lime and mandarin peel. Even though I have listed 7 notes – I am not even sure they are “correct” – because it’s not how this works. The note “wet rocks” and “slate” is a way of me to describe a raw side of this Champagne and it’s a reminder how young this Champagne is – but also how much terroir character it has.

But we are not finished yet. You see – one of the other miracles of resting this Champagne was bringing out the vinous side. The bar pressure is already low (4.5 vs 6.0), but as the mousse settles down you sense the sleek and silky style even more, and this is a trademark of all the Champagnes of Cédric Bouchard. The taste is magnificent, but also very demanding. The spices and the bone-dry style are making a significant and raw impact and it’s not for those who seek their palate to be tickled with a velvet brush.

This is one of the most unique Champagnes there is and I adore it. However – I have to recommend cellaring for the 2006 vintage. 4-5 years seems like a good guess.