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?


Thys said...

First of all: congradulations on your blog and your fantastic pictures!! What objective do you use?

Secondly I would like to thank you for giving me some extra inspiration for trip to Champagne last week. Visited Agrapart who really produces some quality products but as you mentioned, they really deserve some time in the cellar. The one that really took my interest was the Mineral 2004. Took a case of that and looking forward to see how those develop of the next 5 years.

Besides that, Laherte is a producer I've known for a while and he really is someone who knows his stuff. Les Clos is a great example of that!

So what have I been enjoying over the summer. For lovely summer aperitif wines it's hard to beat Benoit Tarlant's Brut Zéro.

I've also very much enjoyed his Brut Prestige 1996 with some pheasant, stunning!

Then I definitely have a recommendation for you: Roger Brun Cuvée des Sires "La Pelle" (2004 is the vintage I have in my cellar and haven't yet tried any others). Extremely powerfull boom champagne yet maintaining its finesse. If you can find it in Denmark, you should absolutely give it a trie at only about €30.- (@ caveau).

Greetings from Belgium!

Thomas said...

Hi Thys,

Great to hear from Belgium and glad you like the blog.

The camera is Canon EOS 5D mark II. The images you see here from the beaches of Sardinia are shot with Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. Most of the images of wine bottles, glasses or portraits with a blurred background are shot with: Canon 85mm f/1.2 L.

Agrapart has made a brilliant line-up in 2004. I am very impressed. Good purchase you have done.

I like Les Clos – I will soon do a little test with Les clos in a Dosaged and Non-dosaged version.

I agree. Tarlant’s Brut Zero (and the Rosé) also – is a hard to beat for everyday drinking.

“La Pelle” is new to me – I will look for it. Thanks for the tip.

Greetings from Denmark


Anonymous said...

Hi there..
This wednesday I had a small blindtasting with some friends. Among the wines we drank were Agraparts Avizoise 04. The first glass we had was very nice and pure but it also seemed a bit sweet. But after the bottle had been open for about 30min we had the second glas and the champagne was now bursting out of the glass. I was amazed by the change and the champagne was just the perfect balance of nice fruit and a supreme minerality that gave it such a nice length and dry finish. The wine had lost the sweetness that we found in the first glass and was now even more pure and concentrated. Such a complex nose with great depth and topped with some oaky notes. What confused us a lot was the fact that the mousse was far more present in the second glass - any ideas why? I have always liked Agrapart but this was really and eyeopener to me - loved it!
With regards to what I've been drinking this summer the simple answer is too much!

Best regards - Jes

Thomas said...

Hi Jes,

Just back from Berlin.

As mention before – Agrapart has made brilliant Champagnes in 2004. I have tasted 2004 Avizoise 4 times and it’s great. For me the sweetness comes from a tropical fruit load – not dosage.

Although the mousse, as the Champagne is exposed to air, is constantly decreasing - you can easily have different levels of mousse in the first 3-4 glasses. It all comes down to the glass and how you pour the Champagne into the glass. Maybe the first glass had some dust particles in it – and after the first glass it was sort of cleaner. Or it could have been you poured to fast in glass number one. You see its better just to pour a small portion first and let that mousse settle down and then pour it to what level you like in the glass. Or even if you are really fixated in getting bubbles, you could lean the glass slightly when you start and gradually tilt it upwards as you pour.

And remember – ultra clean glasses and never clean your Champagne glasses just before serving. When you clean glasses with a tea towel (I use linen towels) you create friction between the towel and the glass, which ignites small electrical partials to go off the glass. They can kill the mousse and have to settle down first – it takes about 6-8 hours before they settle down.

Not matter what you do – good luck and cheers!!!.