Sunday, October 16, 2016

Yamhill-Carlton "Emery" 2011, Willakenzie Estate

For those unfamiliar with Oregon and the Willamette Valley, there are a small number of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) within the Willamette Valley region and the 486 hectares of vines planted in Yamhill-Carlton make up such an AVA. This is similar to a village appellation in the larger Côte de Beaune appellation contrôlée. This 2011 pinot from the Willakenzie Estate which first planted its vines in 1992 and was recently sold to Jackson Family Wines has a mature-looking, fairly transparent plum purple colour. Floral nose of yarrow and roses. Raspberry. Fresh. Blueberry, cranberry and raspberry, slightly smoky and a touch of beetroot and licorice. Linear, fresh, lively, tangy. This pinot is expressive of the cooler Oregonian climate and could not be confused with a jammy Californian. Enjoyable and moving into interesting spicy territory. Lacks texture and depth (compared to a Gevrey!) yet the aromatic complexity is good, even very good. Scores 24/30 for a Willamette Valley. 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Finger Lakes 2013, Heart & Hands

The Heart and Hands winery is located on the banks of Lake Cayuga which results in some interesting micro-climates. I picked up this bottle at a tiny wine merchant's on 10th avenue during a diversion from the High Line in Manhattan. Good to see Finger Lakes wines getting shelf space in the city. Pale garnet red reminiscent of Alsace pinot. Bright and reflective suggestive of a partridge eye. Compelling nose of red currant jelly, strawberry, cinnamon and cedar. Baked orange. Aromas exhibit the 12-18 months barrel ageing. Tangy, elevated acidity, dry finish, orange pith, saddle leather, slightly bitter tannins, hints of tawny port. I don't quite know where to place this Finger Lakes pinot. I enjoy the savoury aspects, there is ripe fruit there but possibly the long barrel ageing makes the wine unbalanced resulting in the tawny port characteristics. Enjoyable but oddball. Scores 20/30 for a Finger Lakes pinot. Photo shows the east bank of Seneca Lake in June 2016.   

Santenay "Cuvée S" 2012, David Moreau

The Santenay-based domaine of David Moreau was previously run by David's grandparents under the name Domaine de la Buissière and consists of just over 5 hectares. He took over about 6 years ago. This is the first bottle I have tasted from the domaine and I was mightily impressed by this special cuvée which comes from a one hectare plot mostly in the "Cornières" lieu dit planted with old vines which produce uber-concentrated millerandés grapes. The quality and concentration of the fruit is obvious from the dense, dark cherry colour. Prominent aromas of ripe blueberry and blackberry. A touch of vanilla from one third new oak casks. Bramble flavours on the palate but with a tangy under current. Slightly rustic tannins, comme il faut à Santenay, medium plus acidity. Violet flower finish. Very good. Scores 27/30 for a Santenay. Excellent!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finger Lakes Pinot Noir 2013, Lamoreaux Landing

The Finger Lakes wine region is about four hours drive from the New York City metropolis but few Manhattanites make the pilgrimage and one has to search high and low for upstate wines. Lond Island wines are easier to find. But there are amazing things happening in the Finger Lakes! This pinot noir from the well-established Lamoreaux Landing winery on the east side of Seneca Lake has a pale, transparent garnet red colour with an orange fox tail rim. Initial aromas of caramel, red currant jelly, ginger biscuits, cloves and sweet aniseed. Second nose: iron, baked pheasant blood. Flavours of baked berries, fudge and cooked orange. Soft yet with good acidity uplift and a good dose of alcohol at 13.2%. This is a fun and fascinating wine with its own personality. The question is how much variance there is year on year. That is the thrill you can get from a marginal pinot noir region like the Finger Lakes and its also the hazard. Worth noting that other Finger Lakes wineries are generally only selling the riper 2012 vintage. A vertical tasting is required! Scores 24/30 for a Finger Lakes.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Champ Gain" 2007, Etienne Sauzet

Continuing my efforts to consume good friends' most prized wines I visited the d'Arjuzon family in the French enclave known as Balham and without even needing to suggest anything this bottle of Puligny was promptly opened. In fact it was a bottle purchased after a tasting at the Domaine Etienne Sauzet in 2009. The Champ Gain vineyard is high up the slope, all the way above Les Folatières. The vineyard characteristics are not easy to spot given the consistent house style which reflects low yields more than terroir. Golden raisins, salted caramel, cedar, truffle, icing sugar and a hint of toasted pine on the nose. Great balance on the palate, dried apricot, cooked orange, a trace of oloroso sherry (good), cardamom on the finish laced with cointreau (orange liqueur). A rich, complex and enjoyable wine. Scores 24/30 for a Puligny 1er Cru. 

Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru 2007, Bitouzet-Prieur

I sometimes find that producers in Meursault only make good white wine and those in Volnay only make (or indeed only want to make) good red wine. Not so at this domaine, which consistently produces delicious pinots and chardonnays.This 2007, a fresh and vibrant vintage, has aged gracefully. The nose is soft, the aromas come to you as if carried by a warm summer breeze that lifts baking and lemon meringue odors from the kitchen and transports them to you in an orchard of peach trees and nectarines. The 2007 vintage gives this a mineral edge on the palate, with flavours of orange, nectarine and clementine. Lovely ripe fruit texture, fresh, thick, gouleyant. Scores 26/30 for a Meursault 1er Cru and demonstrates the ageing potential of Bitouzet whites in fresh vintages. 

Saint-Aubin 1er Cru "Les Frionnes" 2001, Hubert Lamy

Extracted from the nether regions of my cellar in Puligny, this turned out to be a gem of a bottle. An initial nose of glazed pastry, icing sugar, unsalted butter and warm cat fur. Evolves onto preserved orange. Impeccable balance on the palate, unctuous texture, still has fresh acidity, orange flavour and residual sugar. No sign of oxidation. Could not be better for a mature Saint-Aubin. Scores 29/30 for a Saint-Aubin 1er Cru.  

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Chenevottes" 2011, Jean-Marc Pillot

Jean-Marc Pillot has been running this domaine since 1991 and has instilled a real focus on quality in all stages of the wine-making process. This Chassagne blanc has a 10 hour débourbage (settling of the must before racking into barrels), the must ferments in barrels (30% new oak) for 12 months and is left to evolve in stainless steel tanks for 6 to 8 months before bottling. Tasted prior to a performance of Le Nozze di Figaro in the wonderful grounds of the Glyndebourne opera house this was a lively Chassagne from the fresh 2011 vintage. Initial nose of green apple, lime and dandelion. Evolved to hay and vanilla. A satisfyingly complex nose. Green gauge, green apple and lemon flavours. A bright mineral finish. Racy style. Promises another 2-3 years of interesting evolution. Scores 24/30 for a Chassagne 1er Cru. 

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "La Grande Montagne" Vieilles Vignes 2008, Bachelet-Ramonet

Green and yellow apple, lime zest, lemon meringue pie and fresh ground almond. Lovely balance, simple, white honey on mid palate and on the finish. Touch of minerality. Hay on the final nose. Very pleasant mid-week evening wine! Scores 22/30 since it is very enjoyable though not complex. Still plenty of fruit on the palate and has another year at the same level but will decline after that. Significant step up compared to the Chassagne 2008 and worth comparing with the Bâtard-Montrachet 2008

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Beaujolais Blanc 2015, Domaine Dupeuble

I love the name of this domaine, sounds like "people who live in the pub". Joking aside, this venerable Beaujolais domaine can trace its origins back to 1512. Admittedly this was an impulse buy from the reasonably priced white wines shelf at Flatiron Wines in Manhattan. (I believe the spirit of the eclectic wine-buying king Klaus Martin entered into my mind). What a prize! First I rediscovered (via the Guide Hachette) the fact that Beaujolais Blanc is produced from chardonnay. The first nose smells like a drawer of fresh laundry, matchsticks, celery, artichoke, dried mushroom, almonds and lemon. There is a lot going on in the glass. Good apple, celery, dandelion, lemon pith flavours on the palate. A waxy finish. For the price, this is very interesting, somewhat reminiscent of the white wines from Santenay or even Marsannay. Scores 27/30 for a Beaujolais blanc.    

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pouilly-Fuissé 2013, Domaines Leflaive

Citrus bouquet more weighted to lemon than orange. Predominantly fruity not many floral aromas. No evidence of new oak but hints of vanilla point to some maturation in two year old barrels. Not an operatic nose. Full, punchy and demonstrative on the palate. Good mix of lemon, green apple and green gauge flavours - just ripe. Good length and finesses. Well made, balanced, needs 2 years to fully express its potential. 23/30 for a Pouilly-Fuissé.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Saint-Aubin "Les Pucelles" 2014, Lamy-Pillot

Back in 2009 I visited the Lamy-Pillot domaine and had a jolly good tasting. The wines seemed fruit driven and there was plenty of oak. A style suited to the American palate so good to see the message is getting through here in NYC. This 2014 Chardonnay has a radiant yellow colour, really most attractive. Pear, lime, vanilla, oak on the nose. A touch of honeydew melon. Good pear and apple fruit on the palate. Fresh and crystal. Mineral finish. For a village St Aubin this is very nice. Less fruity than prior wines from the domaine. Thoroughly recommend 25/30.

Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru "Les Ruchottes" 2004

My host in Toronto, the inimitable Dr Raj Maini, had read up on my negative tasting notes on the unripe 2004 vintage but nevertheless served this bottle. Very brave. Especially since I bought it for him. Yet... Yet... This turned out to be an inspired choice and bravo for keeping the bottle so long in three different continents. A genuinely foxy rim and brooding red brown colour. The nose is thrilling. Cranberry, huckleberry, Scottish raspberry and rhubarb which have somehow become sweet. No hint of the unpleasant moss, bark and capsicum aromas of earlier years. Lovely spice on the tertiary aromas of clove, aniseed and paprika. Decent on the palate too with good berry flavours which sustain the mature tannins. Scores 24/30 for a Morey 1er Cru. And a humbling experience. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Finger Lakes "Davis Vineyard - Upper Block" 2012, Damiani

First tasted at the domaine in June this year I was thrilled to find some pinot produced in the US which approximated the structure, texture and flavour profile of Burgundy. Of the Finger Lakes wineries I visited Damiani produced the best wines although the range of grape varieties is too broad. This 2012 Finger Lakes pinot has a thick brick red colour. Shows both cool climate lightness (not quite like Alsace) and maturity. The nose is centred on raspberry, fresh cherry, red stone fruit, cloves, sweet aniseed. Lovely texture on the palate of small red berries. Fresh without being overly tangy. Red plums, decent evolved tannins on the finish. Could do with a touch more fruit substance but this intriguing slender style is balanced and perfectly proportioned. Scores 27/30 for a Finger Lakes pinot noir. And this is better than the much higher priced pinot matured in new oak from the Damiani winery. If you excuse the language, this would be a real bastard in a blind tasting. Everyone would go with a Burgundy. For the record, it is a much better wine than any pinot from California. Much appreciated the very insightful tasting with Michael Cimino - a certified sommelier with the Sommelier Society of America.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pouilly-Loché "Les Mûres" 2012, Clos des Rocs d'Olivier Giroux

I often find there is great value in the Maconnais whites which benefit from the Mediterranean climate as well as some steep hillsides and higher altitude than the Côte d'Or. I hadn't previously tasted wine from the Clos des Rocs domaine owned by Olivier Giroux who it turns out is not Olivier Giroud the arsenal striker. This Pouilly-Loché has a touch of butter, its floral, makes me think of yellow roses, courgette flowers, apricot skin. The second nose evolves to leeks, cooked celery and white asparagus -- typical for Pouilly. On the palate this chardonnay is pleasantly fresh with red apples, a touch of candle wax, fresh apricot, orange, and orange pith, Dry finish and shows maturity but not over the hill. Has another year before the fruit will deteriorate. Scores 23/30 for a Pouilly. Enjoyable, typical, good fruit, well made, no flaws, yet no thrill factor. 

Mazoyeres-Chambertin Grand Cru 2008, Taupenot-Merme

The Bourgoblog team tasted at the domaine in July 2014 and we enjoyed the wines although they seemed more on the glossy side with a heavy house style and not so much defined by terroir. But it was warm and it had been a long day of tastings... This grand cru from Gevrey has a dark cherry colour with some age on the rim. A heavy blackberry nose, rye bread, aniseed balls, vanilla and a touch of seaweed. Lovely (glossy) texture followed up by crunchy fruit. Cloves, possibly a hint of cardamom. Good length, harmonious structure, dried orange peel on the finish, spicy finish. No more than 2 years of evolution left which is surprising for a 2008. Scores 24/30 for a Gevrey grand cru. Definitely good and enjoyable but lacks some substance and complexity. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune "Clos Marc" 2014, Sylvain Langoureau

The name Sylvain Langoureau is one which seems to pop up in a lot of places. Amazingly I had never tried a wine from this domaine and captured a tasting note. So I procured this bottle from my trusted Manhattan wine merchant Flatiron Wines. Sadly this is not an enjoyable wine and it gave me flashbacks to tastings in Fixin of the notoriously bad 2004 vintage (1994 wasn't good either). Poured into the glass, this HCdB has the aspect of an anemic pinot from Riquewihr. The nose is of tomato, varied stalks, aniseed root, dried orange and scrapings of chalk. No surprise on the palate: twigs, moss, tart, tight, a narrow fruit profile that is thinner than linear. This HCdB is not badly made. It just smacks of grapes which were not ripe when harvested. Any thoughts readers on the 2014 vintage? Scores 8/30 for a Hautes-Côtes,

Friday, March 11, 2016

Willamette Valley "Momtazi Vineyard" 2012, St Innocent

Deep dark cherry colour. Consistent blueberry, black cherry and plum aromas. Hints of French oak, vanilla and cinnamon. Medium plus acidity, medium tannins, good dark berry and black tree fruit. More tangy than jammy. This is a serious almost brooding wine. Could be compared with a 2009 Volnay. Def one of the better Willamette pinots I have tasted recently. Scores 24/30 for a Willamette. Solid. 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Willamette Valley "Eola-Amity Hills" 2013, Cherry Hill Winery

Appealing dark purple, plum colour. Black cherries, a touch of red apple. A little vanilla but not much. A fruit-driven, fairly elegant nose. Petite. Good ripe cherry and plum fruit on the palate. Medium tannins with a a bit of chewiness to them. But rounded and pleasant to drink. Texture is more impressive on the front palate than on the finish. Interesting clove and cinnamon flavours in the fin de bouche. Overall this is a better constructed Willamette pinot than many others I have tasted. There is ripe fruit without it being jammy, there is good balance and a consistent personality centred on surprise, surprise, cherries. Could be a nasty insertion in a flight of Savingy wines. Compared to a Cote d'Or red the mid-palate is too thin, like a woman with a couple of ribs missing who is wearing a corset. Nevertheless, I approve. Scores 22/30 for a Willamette Valley. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Bourgogne 2008, Leroy

This is a Maison Leroy production from the negociant business as opposed to Domaine Leroy, the wines produced from vineyards owned by the Leroy empire. A fair comment I feel if you imprint crowns on your labels and corks! Fairly slow to open, the primary aromas are of tangerine, pith, candle wax and Cox's Orange Pippin apple. Comes into its own on the palate, excellent structure, length, balance and personality. There is a concentration and seriousness on this Bourgogne blanc which impresses. Refreshingly saline and mineral on the finish, this wine is very drinkable and only now showing the first traces of sherry (manzanilla). Very impressive yet not as thrilling and luxurious as the Javillier Oligocene. Scores 27/30 for a Bourgogne blanc. Photo shows the domaine in Auxey with yours truly cycling past.