Sunday, February 24, 2013

The New Elvis

Mankind like to compare – even find suitable Benchmarks. It’s everywhere, from the financial markets, electronic-and music industry. Even wine. It’s the result of data analysis and an easy way to judge performance, strength and potential.  

In the financial markets, portfolio managers are being judged against leading benchmark indexes, maybe even competitors – specific designed to match their risk mandates and focus areas. Did you over or underperform?

The iPhone set new standards when it was launched. It’s nearest rivals have ever since been labelled as the new iPhone killer.

The music industry builds up their heroes and stars. Put them on pedestals and maybe burn their fame down again. Some survive, despite rough times and end up as legends. Some don’t even need much time to establish their status because their talent had enough uniqueness. Just think of Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and lately Amy Winehouse all died at an age of 27 years. These legends become benchmark icons – often ruling as kings & queens of a certain genre or time period. We like to compare new comers against these peers, despite it’s clings like a cliché to hear the new Beatles every second year.

For the critiques, whom are often behind such statements, it’s a logical equation as the simple comparison makes it easy for the public to understand the scope of the “new” and it’s potential.

Yet the benchmarking are often in risk of fading out, becoming that false and naïve cliché, because it’s somehow never the new Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis or Madonna. If new artists are constantly able to become equal clones to their Iconic Idols it underlines that our presumed King or Queens weren’t a reference point after all.  Those who survive and make it into the hall of fame possessed enough uniqueness, defining their own sound and storytelling. They eventually became a new reference point.

In wine we also know about Benchmarking. Some wineries or producers are legends. The thumb rule for possessing the legendary labelling seems to emerge from impressive historical track records. If you want to make it historical in wine you have to make sure your wines will age gracefully. That’s the ticket to legendary status. Worlds most sought after wines are often those who comes with a considerable costs – those who make it into Christie’s most extravagant wine auctions. Once you are there you are a potentially what we in the “Old world” would call a Benchmark wine.

The battlefield in wine are however not as even as even as one should think; because these legends comes with considerably costs and are not like music for everyone. Even some are not interested at all in these wines and don’t pay much attention to them or the fact that they are a reference point.

Right now we are seeing some of the most innovative restaurants around the globe slowly phasing out old conventional legends. In my own backyard, restaurant Noma (and several others following) are now only serving natural wines.  

Most wine lovers would acknowledge historical references, but somehow you are never better than your latest release and there is no guarantee that you even liked the style, “sound” or “genre” of a wine.

Personally benchmark legends don’t interest me much. Seeing wine from a zero angle scope is much easier. Not taking a quality measurement against myth and historical tales makes it much easier to level with wine. It doesn’t matter to me whether a wine can last 200 years or 4 hours. I care about the experience here and now - life in the wine and drinking pleasure….and so many other things.

Benchmarking in wine is however an interesting descriptor, as you can quickly draw attention to a known/style, which your audience can relate to. However if you really fall in love with a wine/producer I would bet it always had enough personality and didn’t needed to be compared against a reference point.

I am about to introduce a new producer to you and 4 debut wines. I found myself benchmarking and comparing him, to get a feel of both overall quality and potential.  My inspiration to this introduction came from hearing myself saying; is this the New Elvis, Sting or maybe Stevie Wonder? It’s obviously not and that’s good news because this is something I haven’t seen before. Potentially a new style and reference point – who knows? I can tell you this much, that I found myself almost lost for laudatory words. 

Yann Durieux is his name and he makes wine under the Domaine name of Recrue des Sens. I have limited information – only from various Internet sites, blogs and the Danish importer did I learn that he worked seven years for Julien Guillot - a name that rings very good bells in my ears. There is also a connection to Prieuré Roch as I understand it, where he still helps out and get some of the used barrels from. Some also comes from Alain Burguet. He works purely organic and natural wine ideology. He is located in the village of villers-la-faye in the Hautes-Côtes de Nuits region, which isn’t exactly known to foster the most pompous Cru-appellations. Yet it doesn’t really scare me off, because I have learned to pay more attention to the singularity skills of a grower and not appellation hysteria.

2010 is the debut release from Yann Durieux and he currently have 3ha of land, but will slowly obtain more land. Current production is about 6.000 bottles, where 50% goes into his Aligoté “Love and Pif”.

These are the wines I have tasted from Recrue des Sens and I haven’t written any notes, so this is from memory.

Red and “Manon” was tasted from Zalto Burgundy – “Love and Pif” were tasted from Zalto Unisersal


2010 Black Pinot

A very light and fragile red Burgundy wine, only possessing 11% of alcohol. There is initially a beautiful fragile raspberry scent coming forward, but eventually also notes of forest floor and herbs blends in. It creates a little bit more rustic feel, but also creates good baseline and character. Overall it’s still so fragile and drinks really well.

2010 Les Grands Ponts

 “Serve it on a good day” – that was the sort of only instruction I got, from the importer – other that he thought it would be something for my palate. Well – I first of all served it on a fruit day, but had no idea what waited. I have to say, pinned to the chair with a lie detector wrapped around my arm that this is one of the most emotional and intoxicating wines I have tasted in a while.  Despite I can dissect it for you – as I have written no notes – I still dream about it though it has been 14 days since I last tasted it. I remember is as extremely floral with roses and raspberry wrapped in an extremely intense – yet overly weightless feel. The structure of the wine is exceptional elastic; ballerina light on it toes, yet with enormous persistence and juiciness. I was blown away by it’s beauty and harmony and I felt like pouring the whole bottle down in one go – which was easy with it’s 12% alcohol. It’s not a cheap wine - but my God it’s worth every penny. 


2010 Manon (Chardonnay)

If a white Burgundy – especially when crafted from Chardonnay – are to win my heart it has to find a soil intensity or a really refined a elegant style. This wine does exactly that and its uncompromising mineral spine made me think of Alexandre Jouveaux and it’s raciness made me think of young Chablis. It’s also a wine, which feels really young with lots of potential. It’s still flavoured with lots of citrus fruits, yet if you raise it in temperature it   unrevealed some more creamy notes of fresh butter and yeast components. The taste is really clean and delicious. I would love to taste it again with a year or two more age.

2010 Love and Pif (Aligoté)

My experience with Aligoté is pretty limited – so when saying this has to be one of my absolute favourite versions it doesn’t really mean that much. It’s a very playful wine, which on one side has one hell of a tickly freshness with newly pressed apples, lime and lemon peel. On the other hand – and it actually flips back and forth - it has some pretty sensual sweet notes, emerging from Champagne yeast, vanilla and overly juicy pears and peaches. The drinking pleasure is in the category; “Finish me and open a bottle more”….brilliant wine. (tasted it two times btw – one time in a restaurant (simple Spiegelau Authentis) and one time at home from Zalto Universal. The experience in Zalto was so much better.    

Thursday, February 21, 2013


It’s a shame I don’t drink more Riesling. 

In some aspects Riesling appeals far more to me than Chardonnay does (without bubbles). If to rudely generalize; Riesling are an ultra clear non-oaky expression, strong terroir defined wines with the high acidity (which I am a sucker for). If to stay on the generalizing string, that is far more interesting than the somewhat monotone melon, oaky and oily expression of Chardonnay. That’s why I never found true love for white Burgundy, but my compromise eventually founds its way into Champagne. That said – during my journey into natural wine country, I have found lots of wines, which deviates from this generalizing description and made me happy.

My appetite for Riesling has dropped dramatically since this Champagne and natural wine bug started. The German Riesling are not exactly known for their low sulphur levels, yet I can’t say that I have had many experience where the wines actually stinks of SO2. So what's the fuzz? In most cases with German Riesling, they are simply too square and lifeless for my palate. Their structure are too polished/ “slippery”, taking energy down and headache up, which in most cases are sings of too high sulphur. And if you are a sucker for energy (like me) it’s not a relationship that will last.

Having said that and before this develops into a “polish-my-own-halo-post” - If you haven’t been exposed to a lot of natural wine, I am not sure you see it this way. My good friend Martin from Berlin, whom I consider be a very skilled taster and an expert in Riesling for sure doesn’t see it this way. It’s important for me to stress out that my taste is not the right one – it never is – but my starting point is very different, because I drink so many low dozed SO2 wines.

Anyway a German Riesling without SO2 – sounds like paradise to me. The paradox is that the wine is categorized as a “Landwein der Mosel” because the local authorities don’t approve wines of this low SO2. Who cares about appellations snobbism, let’s jump onboard.

2011 Rita & Rudolf Trossen, Riesling “Schieferstern Zero Zero”

Blend: 100% Riesling
Terroir: Slate
Winemaking: Biodynamic
Alcohol: 12,05%
pH: 3:15
Free SO2: 0 mg / l
Total SO2: 1 mg / l
Production: 400 bottles
Glass: Zalto Universal

Trossen have been experimenting with zero SO2 since 2009 but at first had doubt’s it could be successful. Tasting the zero sulphur wines from Jura & Burgundy finally convinced Rudolf Trossen and in 2010 he released his first non-SO2 wine with the 2010 "cuvée Pyramide PUR". Only 15L was made.

As you can see from the image there is a capsule on the bottle and still some carbon dioxide left. Give it some air and it’s gone after 30 minutes or so.

I was struck by the crystalline clarity of this wine. Ultra refined fresh water appeal, like drinking directly from the mouth of a water well. Notes like tulips, citrus, greenish apples and freshly washed linens in cool spring air emerged and all together shapes an extraordinary elegant and pure wine. The taste is utterly sensational, despite being really young  - mineral extravaganza with a vibrant, frisky and agile acidity. Nothing sticks out – everything is so beautiful toned creating blissful harmony. What a wine – what a Riesling. Absolutely stunning wine.

Ps. My wife who knows absolutely nothing about wine (I have given up), but in general hates oaky white wines (she calls them unnatural) – thought this wine was one of the best white wines she had ever tasted.

Thank you Ine & Ries for this bottle – you are too kind.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I can never get tired of Champagne. Not only is it a divine drink, but also something, which constantly are able to challenge my own palate. Whenever asked about “what’s your favourite Champagne producer?” I can’t give a name or a clear answer. Fact is, that I have several favourites and it’s not always about “best” in terms of big and complex, but also occasion, food, weather and my own mood. If you have read some of the previous post on this blog, you should know what I am talking about.

However if I should pin point a recent preference it would be that I am more and more drawn to Champagne, which reflects ultra clear flavours, soil tension and energy. I like nature’s brutality more than a wine making style. But already here I find myself in a grey area, because I can find endless days, where a wine making styled Champagne with velvet coated oak sweetness can make me smile and fulfil my needs.

When I first tasted the 2006 Blanc de Noir from barrel with Olivier Collin I was overly ecstatic about it. Since then – this previous soil preference has set it and I have found this Champagne a bit extreme. Recently some friends have chimed in with positive reports on this Champagne so I thought it was time to revisit.

2006 Ulysse Collin “BdN”

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Terroir: Chalk mixed with heavy clay
Vineyard: Les Maillons in the village of Barbonne-Fayel
Vines: Planted in 1971
Dosage: 2,4 g/l
Alcohol: Picked @ 12,2% finished @ 13,6% after the second fermentation
Other: The ’06 are the debut release for this Champagne
Glass: Spiegelau Adina red wine/water goblet + Adina Burgundy

Source for details are:

I have to mention the colour, which is truly amazing (I will have an image next time I taste it). It’s nearly a rosé, but with a dimmed saturation. Olivier kept some the natural colour, which was a result after the pressing and it just tells you that the Champagne is picked from really ripe grapes.

Well it’s certainly better than it were just upon it’s release. Back then a really troublesome note of ginger and bitter alcoholic notes spread like a disease all over the Champagne. It brought flashbacks to the Viognier grape and especially some of these very alcoholic driven Condrieu cuvées.

The first pour (besides that colour) wasn’t a treat either – or was it? Well…it’s certainly a Champagne which will pull down your pants, knocks you backwards invite you to a tongue kiss, if you’re in such mood. If you fancy some foreplay you have to sit it down and serve some food. I had a good friend stopping by – so I served a simple selection of duck pâté, salted almonds, pata negra and comté cheese. It made a huge difference and turned down the volume of notes dominated by; caramelized honey, apple pie, burned butter, vanilla, quince and plums. It’s extremely concentrated, both on the nose and palate, but the food prevents it from this slight alcoholic burn on the last meters. It’s also pretty complex  - a real “sniffer and you can actually find a lot of layers. Yet very few of these are coming from a natural soil element, as I see it. This is more about wine making than a strong terroir orinated Champagne. I rested one third of the bottle, which I had two days later, where it had transformed almost into a dessert wine, with a fair amount of brown sugar and cinnamon notes

Overall it’s not something I am hugely in love with, but I can easily see myself serving this Champagne as the last Champagne of the night with a selection of cheeses. If to serve it like it did - with snacks, it will not be that successful if you intend to continue with more Champagne…if so they have to be equal in density and I can think of only Selosse or Krug to match such concentration. 

Note: The subsequent releases of the BdN (it’s now labelled as “Les Maillons”) are made in a more conservative style. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

2013 Terres et vins de Champagne

The 5th edition of Terres et vins de Champagne will take place on April 22nd 2013.

A must for real Champagne lovers.