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, 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Gevrey-Chambertin "Clos du Meix des Ouches" Monopole 2010, Domaine des Varoilles

Originally tasted at the domaine in 2012 with a couple of dogs looking on, this bottle has been hauled from Puligny via Bucks to New York. Yet it shows no sign of travel sickness. Immediately open nose of cherry, strawberry, cinnamon, vanilla and almond flour. A ripe berry nose which is delectable. More plum on the palate. Berry dominated. Linear with good attack and proper Gevrey tannins. Has that freshness which encourages bottle emptying by the thirsty throng. Enjoyable and uncomplicated. Has another 5 years of evolution given the ripe fruit, acidity and good tannins. I bought a case but now wish I had bought two! Scores 25/30 for a Gevrey.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Meursault "Les Casses-Têtes" 2013, Domaine Jean & Gilles Lafouge


The Lafouge family have been producing wine since 1650 and I presume Jean and Gilles are brothers with their winery based in Auxey-Duresses. This Meursault has an appealing, reflective, bright silver yellow colour. The nose is a plump Meursault classic. Ripe oranges, honeydew melon, even touches of pineapple and banana. Feminine vanilla aromas. Despite being so forward on the nose, this Meursault has excellent balance, freshness, lovely melon and pear fruit and a surprisingly dry finish. This promises a good evolution for the next 3 to 4 years and some gouleyant drinking along the way. I believe Ammar Al-Gevrey would appreciate this unsung classic. Scores 21/30 for a Meursault.    

Willamette Valley 2014, Evesham Wood

The Evesham Wood winery is located a stone's throw from the town of Salem, Oregon. A little bit of blueberry, a touch of plum, a hint of smoke and a waft of tree bark. This is not an expensive wine ($21 from the winery, $30 in Manhattan) but nor is it particularly worth drinking. It is not undrinkable by any means but there is half a bottle which is likely to go into a coq au vin. There is just a lack of personality. It's medium to light weight. Nothing wrong with it though. It poses a Sartrian question: "Why should this wine exist?" Scores 15/30 for a Willamette Valley. I assume the single vineyard wines have more panache.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Willamette Valley "Mt Jefferson Cuvée" 2013, Cristom

At a recent wine-tasting event at The Clocktower in NYC I stimulated a mostly well-meaning discussion about Oregon vs California vs Burgundy. Obviously there is no competition but it is interesting to compare! This Cristom 2013 from the Willamette Valley (non-Oregonians must go there to learn how to pronounce the appellation) is a good example of what we discussed re Oregon. It seems to me the wine-maker is trying to make Burgundy-style pinot but in doing so has had to restrain the 'wilderness' characteristics of a good Willamette. Good berry nose, aniseed, some sous-bois, medium to low tannins, ripe and fresh berry fruit. Well-made yet inoffensive and therefore lacking in character. The moral of the story. Willamette should be itself, not a pale imitation of Gevrey-Chambertin. Scores 19/30 for a Willamette.  

Friday, January 08, 2016

Santenay 2013, Paul Pillot

Sombre purple coulour with a brighter, vivid fuschia rim. Ripe nose, amaretto, cherry, oak, strawberry, cedar. There is a lot going on. Ripe and powerful. Cherry/plum fruit, ripe, medium tannins on the finish, savoury despite the fruit which is a frequent trait in the Santenay terroir. Very good for a village quality Santenay. Scores 26/30.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Meursault-Charmes 1er Cru 2007, Guy Bocard

Another wine tasted blind and incorrectly identified as a 2009 Puligny. This 2007 has a medium-yellow, light straw colour. Shows very little sign of age or oxidation. Vanilla, sweet nose of yellow flowers such as buttercups. Ripe lemon and orange fruits. A bit indistinct on the nose. No obvious tertiary aromas. A lack of complexity. Medium weight, medium acidity, dry finish. This Meursault is still lively but there is a lack of concentration and fruit. Scores 20/30 for a Meursault 1er Cru. 

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "Morgeot" 2007, Vincent & Sophie Morey

Tasted at the now annual Bufties tasting between Christmas and New Year in Islington, this was the first of 10 wines tasted blind. A medium to light yellow colour, limpid, possibly a few green tints. Immediate nose of butter, oak, lemon and orange. Heavily toasted nose. Rich, evolved, flattening out, lemon dominated. Enjoyable and very fresh due to the bright 2007 vintage characteristics. Identified blind as a 2010 Meursault indicating the youthfulness that 2007 can bring. Overly toasty but good overall. Scores 20/30 for a Chassagne 1er Cru.         

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saint-Aubin 1er Cru "Les Frionnes" 2004, Hubert Lamy


This premier cru Saint-Aubin has a surprisingly light, hay colour showing very little sign of ageing. Starts on oak notes, white flowers, citrus, very fresh. Absolutely no sign of oxidation. On the palate this chardonnay is mineral, linear and youthful with bright yellow citrus and apple fruit. Medium to high acidity. Could certainly evolve for another 3 to 5 years the only question is what more it has to give. The style is almost too austere and mineral to become expansive. And the oak a touch too dominant given the 11 years in bottle. Scores 21/30 for a Saint-Aubin 1er Cru. 

Pouilly-Fuissé "Prestige" 2008, Nadine Ferrand


From time to time I make a raid over the border into the département of Saône-et-Loire where the lovely wines of the Maçonnais are found. This bottle was extracted from a mixed case of Pouilly-Fuissé 2008 bought at the excellent caveau in the village. The Domaine Nadine Ferrand seems rather well organized and offers three different cuvées. Naturally I plumped for the best. This Pouilly-Fuissé has a deep yellow colour with amber notes. There is butter, marzipan, apricot, vanilla and banana bread on the nose. Honeydew melon, thick orange and apricot fruit, good impact on the front of the palate, with a honeyed texture and a hay finish. We are clearly in the influence of the Mediterranean! This wine has aged gracefully and is now at the peak of its powers. Scores 25/30 for a Pouilly-Fuissé. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Volnay 1er Cru "Les Taillepieds" 2008, de Montille


I have always been a fan of this venerable Volnay estate since I first visited in the mid-1990s. Certainly it vies with Domaine Michel Lafarge for Volnays with great ageing potential. It was a sad moment for all Burgundy fans when Hubert de Montille died in November 2014. Perpetuating his legend, he passed away at dinner with a glass of Pommard "Les Rugiens" 1999 to hand. The only doubt in my mind about ordering this bottle was whether it would be too early. Better to drink hope than despair, so we took the plunge and were royally rewarded. A fine nose of Perthshire raspberries, blueberry ("bluets" in French), red plum. This then developed into a wonderful combination of sweet spices such as aniseed, clove and cinnamon. Excellent length, a velvety texture, orange sanguine freshness. Yet still good fruit concentration... quintessence of pinot noir! Yes, it will be more interesting in 3 years but enough patience has been shown to enjoy this delicious bottle with some virtue. Scores 26/30 for a Volnay 1er Cru.  

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru "Les Folatières" 2008, Bachelet-Monnot


Every year the Golden Slope Society (total three members) gets together for lunch at the Tate Britain restaurant in the room painted by Rex Whistler when he was just 22 years old. As you would expect for someone educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, despite being an artist he volunteered to join the army in the second world war and was killed in action in Normandy. Who knows what other wonderful murals he could have painted? This was the first Burgundian wine tasted on the recommendation of Hamish (pictured) the long-standing sommelier at Tate Britain. Impressively fresh given it is seven years old, lemon dominated, mineral, classic Puligny. Very much enjoyed but lacks the texture, concentration and complexity of  Pulignys from the likes of Francois Carillon, Jean-Louis Chavy, Sauzet and Leflaive. Since the domaine was only started by the Bachelet brothers in 2005 it may not be until we try the 2013 vintage that their vineyard work and wine-making skills fully show through. Scores 21/30 for a Puligny 1er Cru.       

Beaune 1er Cru "Les Sizies" 2009, Prunier-Bonheur


Either in 2011 or 2012 the team tasted at this domaine in Meursault and we ordered several cases due to the good quality, friendly prices and interesting range of village and premiers crus wines. I had wanted to visit after enjoying a very fine Beaune 1er Cru "Les Sizies" 2001 at Le Montrachet in my home village. This Beaune 1er Cru was an excellent example of the robust 2009 vintage. Full on cassis and blackberry fruit, slightly roasted and with a tinge of strawberry. This wall of fruit is backed up by rich tannins which are nevertheless softened by the fruit concentration and sweetness. So this is not a tannic wine. It's a wine with plenty of everything. The nose is foursquare and at this stage shows little evolution beyond an attractive combination of fruit and oak. Very enjoyable yet I fear not thrilling due to the predictability of the vintage. Scores 23/30 for a Beaune 1er Cru. 

Chambolle-Musigny "Les Veroilles" 2008, Bruno Clair


What to drink with a traditional English Christmas lunch of roast turkey, a spiced chestnut, bacon and sage stuffing, giblet gravy, peppery roast parsnips, roast Maris Piper potatoes and red cabbage cooked in red wine and cloves? A mature, softer pinot noir with a spicy bouquet seemed to be the answer, much more so than a mature white Burgundy which might work with the turkey but not with the dominant flavours of the meal. And so it was, in celebration of the birth of Christ we enjoyed a couple of bottles of this petite merveille from Chambolle. The 2008 vintage continues to impress me with its length, freshness, balanced texture and complex aromas. Yes, 2009 had more sunshine and has more impact but do you admire a ballerina for the diameter of her thighs? This Chambolle was graceful, fine and intriguing. Cassis and bright early autumn bramble aromas joined with a little oak spice, cinnamon, aniseed and cedar. Consistent with how it tasted in the late spring. Scores 25/30 for a Chambolle... yes it is still improving!       

Meursault "Clos du Cromin" 2007, Patrick Javillier



The "Clos du Cromin" lieu-dit is on the north side of the village and abuts the Meursault vineyards which are permitted to produce red wine as well as white wine. This reflects the heavier clay soil in the valley floor and the increasing amounts of iron -- a dominant feature of Volnays from the lower parts of the golden slope. Leaving a non premier cru Meursault for eight years is not often recommended by wine makers but in the 2007 vintage I figure that the excellent underlying acidity would permit longer ageing. Was I right? Definitely with this bottle. Even though Javillier's wines are glorious after just 2 to 3 years this 2007 had matured gracefully. Dominant citrus nose, hints of marzipan, hawthorn flowers and possibly lavender. Still lively on the palate without being acerbic in any way as many 2007s were in their youth. All elements melded together perfectly and proved to be an excellent companion for a double salmon terrine. No wonder the British royal family imbibe these wines at their own festivities. Scores 25/30 for a Meursault villages. Worth checking back to the tasting notes for the 2007, 2009 and 2013.    

Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2008, François Lamarche


The François Lamarche domaine is located in Vosne-Romanée and owns the monopoly control over La Grande Rue, a tiny sliver of vineyards next to Romanée-Conti. The Bourgoblog team tasted here in the very warm spring of 2011 and enjoyed some wines from the tank and the bottle. I am uncertain of how the Bevan-Chua scale which provides a scientific analysis of the impact of vessel volume and material on a wine's evolution applies to large stainless steel vats. More research required. Onto the wine, this is a great example of the rustic spiciness and high-toned berries which can be found in typical HCdN wines. Orange rind and a touch of rhubarb. Medium weight, mature yet rustic tannins but thankfully no sign of twigs or capsicum which can mark 2008s from less well exposed or higher altitudes. Juste comme il faut. Scores 24/30 for a HCdN rouge.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Bourgogne 2013, Michel Noellat

One of those musty noses that isn't off or quite right. A touch too much petrichor aroma. Could be confused with a touch of powdery mildew. Unwashed knickers. Cedar blocks to keep the moths away. Balsa wood model aircraft. Much better on the palate than the nose. Good plum and cherry flavours. Best drunk with a clothes peg on the nose. Scores 12/30 for a Bourgogne rouge.  

Bourgogne "Les Grandes Terres" 2013, Jean-Marc Pillot

What to drink on a Tuesday night in this fair autumn? This is a gem of a bourgogne rouge from what promises to be a balanced, bright, fruity year. Morello cherry, ripe rhubarb and aniseed on the nose. A touch of orange juice. A mix of tangy berry fruit, orange pith and wheat texture on the palate. Good intensity for a regional appellation. Still rustic though. Scores 24/30 for a Bourgogne rouge. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Morey-Saint-Denis "Clos de la Bidaude" Monopole 2012, Robert Gibourg

This is a small domaine in Morey which flies under the radar. Clos de la Bidaude is a fascinating micro-climate. The vineyard is at 340 metres on a slope that faces East-North-East, its a 1 hectare monopoly lieu-dit and is positioned just above the Clos des Lambrays grands crus. In fact, the current vineyard had been left "en friche" (left fallow) until it was replanted until 1993. At the youngish vines and exposition are appropriately represented in the wine: high-toned, spicy, licorice root. Evolves to plum, white pepper, orange rind and loganberry. Lovely balance, fresh, taut. I imagine this wine is problematic in cool years and wonderfully graceful in riper years when the vines in the valley err on flabby. This is so fine it is tough to place as a Morey. Scores 22/40 for a Morey-Saint-Denis.