Saturday, July 14, 2012

Limitations and 2006 “L’Apôtre”

The tasting note has its limitations. It originates from a desire to give the audience a flavour profile of the wine and most often follow by a mouth feel (structure, density) and the overall valuation of the taste itself. There can be several associations’ descriptors in a tasting note – ranging from realistic >> creative >> ridiculous - adding more nuances and attempting to draw a more visual frame of the wine.  Yet there is risk of the tasting note falling into a grey area, blending in with several other wines and being completely useless. A white wine or Champagne being flowery, buttery and with notes of citrus fruits would fit an endless amount of wines. However the taster would claim the difference, despite the tasting note looks almost similar – like two women with long dark curly hair, brown eyes and the same height.

If we don’t have any information’s about the personality of the wine/person - we are not willing to engage in real thoughtfulness. But can a tasting note do that? Not always in my opinion.  The real mojo in wine aren’t about writing groovy tasting notes, it’s intercepting the impulses of wine, understanding their complexity and valuate the emotional impact. This mind game can’t always be explained and fitted into a tasting note and doesn’t’ need to be addressed to an audience and thank God for that.

With this introduction I present to you a tasting note of the 2006 “L’Apôtre” from David Léclapart.

Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Dosage: 0 g/l
Vines: Planted in 1946 
Vineyard: Lieu-dit La Pierre St-Martin
Fermentation: Oak-barrels from Leflaive. 
Other: Biodynamic stuff
Glass: Spiegelau Adina red wine/water goblet

I truly admire the style of David Léclapart and it’s not something I can explain to you in the simple schematic framework of a tasting note. His wines do something to me. I pick up energetic impulses, which are stronger than any producer I know of.  There is no fuss or special effects when it comes to his Champagnes, as they are so direct and filled with enormous soil intensity.

The 2006 “L’Apôtre” are incredible compact in its fruit core. Obviously in some kind of young/closed phase, yet it’s not like the 2004 vintage, which feels more like a flower, which has been frozen. The 2006 are more like big clump, trapped in a tiny square box with no way to go. Yet there are room for notes like peach, apples and flowers followed by bright breezes of citrus and raw soil intensity. With air the drumbeat turns deeper with notes of almonds and marzipan. The taste is unbelievable energetic with an enormous pressure on the tongue followed by lots of young and unresolved bitter minerality components. Despite it’s highly intense character and the most concentrated “L’Apôtre” I have tasted so far, it still has the edge to feel uncompromising elegant.

The 2006 might not have the complex depth of the 2002 (yet) and the bright energetic Bouquet of the ’04, but it’s seriously the most compact frame of them all and there will be more than awarding pleasure waiting for the patient consumer. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day & Night

(Images are clickable and will open a larger format)
Day & night
It has been almost two 2½ years ago since I tasted the 2002 Fleur de Passion from Diebolt-Vallois. I tasted it among 28 other Champagnes and found it on one side intense, but also marked by a troublesome aroma of sulphur.
Since then – as you might have noticed, I have been exposed to a decent amount of natural wine and there is no doubt that my threshold for sulphur has decreased dramatically.
Inspired by a new article by Peter Liem ( on Fleur de Passion I was intrigued and fascinated reading about the great terroir of Cremant and Côte des Blancs. No doubt the Fleur de Passion is raised from some of the finest parcels in all of Champagne.
I even remember how charming and friendly Jacques Diebolt and his daughter Isabella were when I met them in Copenhagen at the “29 Champagne-tasting”.
With all these variables lined up and well knowing that the ‘02s are in general quite closed (still) I decided to taste the 2002 Fleur de Passion.
The opening reveals a wine that is really young. Marked by a lot of citrus fruits, sharp edges and even some herbal character. Yet there is one thing that hangs like a big dark cloud over the wine  - preventing any kind of sunshine to come through. It’s sulphur – sadly, and it’s killing the wines energy, clarity and my personal appeal for it. We are not on the revolting level of Dom Perignon or Comtes de Champagne from Taittinger, but it’s still enough to lower my appetite considerably. On the palate it’s even worse, as flavours of matchsticks glues to the back palate, sealing the door for any complexity, life or clarity to come forward. I simply couldn’t drink it and rested it for the next day. No improvement. Did the same on day 3,4 and 5 and it was a fraction better @ day 5.

In order to sort of see if I was just sulphur hysterical or the note could be something different I decided to open a bottle from a producer, which I know hates sulphur; David Léclapart. 2008 “L’Amateur” was now in another glass and it was like day and night comparing the two. “L’Amateur” had everything I was looking for – crystal clear ripe fruit, sleek, tons of inner energy and divine drinking pleasure. “Fleur de Passion” felt like a potential headache in comparison.
There are no doubt the 2002 Fleur de Passion is way too young and could unveil a far more nuanced wine in a decade or two. Here and now it’s a huge disappointment and I am not holding on to my remaining bottles, as the level of sulphur are not acceptable.