Sunday, 31 August 2014

Back from holiday with something of a bang...

Before I went away on holiday and enjoyed a wide array of wines I had organised a few lunches as catch ups with customers. It ended up being quite a run of wines, and food for that matter. Zucca features large as usual but the main reason is you can adapt a meal there for any pair of wines, to last any amount of time and it is great value. So things "kicked off" with a Tuesday dinner at Zucca and a pair of Grand Crus! 
Not my average Tuesday!
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2011, Bonneau du Martray is a wine I know well, it is superb now although balanced so will age well. There is a tiny kiss of oak that just frames things but is very understated. In general I feel there are quite a few over oaked Corton-Charlemagnes out there, often because a producer has very little and therefore limited control of the % of new oak. With conversation, and a certain amount of gossip flowing it was then time for red!
Musigny Grand Cru 1995, de Vogue not a vintage of this wine I have had before and an interest vintage in general for Burgundy. It gets very little mention as it is not quite in the "mature" category of say '91 and '93…nor is it in the "continue to wait" category like '96, '99, '02. This wine was stunning on the nose, youthful and pure but also serious with a close knit intensity…in honestly the plate is still a shade muted and restrained, good and balanced but just not that expressive. It is not too early to drink this wine but it is not yet at it's peak I would say and this was certainly a good bottle…a very generous opportunity to taste.
the starter will be... 

The following day I went with a buying team colleague to try the food for a Prum dinner we are doing for customers with Katharina Prum at Quilon restaurant in late September. I had never eaten there before and lots of work had gone into the menu. It was, frankly speaking, a revelation, great dishes (a few photos of which are below) that just deliver oodles of flavour in a clean way with a total lack of pretension, I had decided I'll go back even before I left. There a was another thing that made this interesting and that was a chance to have most of the wines we will have at the dinner at the preview, ordinarily we'd take a couple of bottles to a run through and see how we get on. I must say before the notes that I probably drink more Prum Kabinett in a year than any other wine so the levels of bias will be large, even for me!

Estate Kabinett 2011 - Ready, generous yet elegant, frankly speaking this would taste good through a straw. 
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Sp├Ątlese 2004 - Slight development but not yet petrol-like, very fine, very clean, a lean elegance, approaching middle age but in an effortless fashion, just my sort of thing.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2004 - youthful, some richness of texture but beyond that quite closed, will give this air before the dinner, serious.
Bernkasteler Badstube Auslese 2003 - In the zone, refinement is there but ultimately it is hedonistic, an extrovert, waxy, very clean nose, more to come but why wait.
Venison and coconut
Bernkasteler Badstube Auslese 2007 - Some spritz, if it were a sportsperson it'd still be in an age category but have people signing it up for the longterm, there is masses to come but it is poised, proper job! 
Graacher Himmelreich Auslese 1997 - A little flashy and flirty as you'd expect of 1997, some orange rind from development, a wine that tightened up and focussed in glass, too easy to start, getting better by the minute.   
Graacher Himmelreich Auslese Goldkapsel 2003 - The first thought was "old school Prum" a dash of reduction and some sulphur, some spritz also, there is no reason you would EVER think this is from 2003, pure, class and quality...
Then…Thursday came and back to Zucca with a couple of beauties...
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2004, Bonneau du Martray - This is a wine that does have some bad bottles mixed in (see summer Holidays post) but this was the opposite, linear, balanced and pretty dam special. A food white Burgundy with a saline edge and a very proper acidity. Monfortino 1996 was the main reason this luncheon happened and it was wonderful, this is a serious wine with plenty of structure but not hard structure, you need to know where you are with this wine. It loves air and it loves to be thought about and drunk slowly, in many ways it is the traditional persona of Monfortino, uncompromising, quality and long lived. A cracking lunch, Zucca's food did it serious justice.
Then friday, back at Zucca, a long overdue catch up with a mate in the trade who writes a great Blog that varies from mine in style but I can safely say we are from the same "a good bottle is one that seems to disappear quickly" school of thought. The starting point for this luncheon was a post he wrote about 2005 Bordeaux. Knowing that Roc de Cambes 2009 was a real favourite of his I said well let's both take a 2005 to Zucca! 
Roc de Cambes 2005 - this was my bottle which I bought the second it was released in the campaign, I tasted it from barrel and loved it immediately. On this showing I was not wrong, bright, fresh and with a focus that is quite un like most Bordeaux. I tasted very much "mono-varietal", I'll try to keep my hands off it for a few more years but basically it is delicious.
Pavillon Rouge du Chateau Margaux 2005 - May be not the very best bottle of this, it drank well but under close inspection/thought it seemed a little "blunt" or lacking in wow factor, a true decision deferred.
That was a week done but then just as I was about to write this post I had another luncheon in the diary with a customer who insisted on bringing the wines and with this individual that is always a good thing.
Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru 1996, Domaine Leflaive - Was class, the colour suggested good things as soon as it was poured…there was that trademark gunflint reduction and lots of fruit, the real class though was, as ever, in the finish and the way it showed such refinement as it warmed up, it was still evolving and sweetening up 2 hours later.
Barbaresco Riserva Santo Stefano 1990, Giacosa - was glorious, an open and expressive nose from the beginning, a lovely easy opulence but with a feminine focus. This was as much "1990" as the Monfortino above was "1996". The palate was fairly delicate and fine-boned with lovely red fruit and a dash of savouriness that never became too much…a really wonderful pairing.
It really is one of the great things about the wine trade that customers become friends and want to drink these great bottles…long may it continue that way, it is what wine is about.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Holiday bottles in France - 2014



The family holiday this year was spent, with another family, down in the Dordogne near Beaulieu. One of the advantages to driving is that I can take a couple of cases of wine. We had a great house with a pool, very remote but most of the time was either spent cooking, talking about food and wine or drinking and eating!

I took various things and we hunted around the supermarkets, town markets and a few shops for the others. I was not making full tasting notes as this was a break but I have put a few comments below.
The local "drop"
Cahors is the nearest area of real production so we sampled plenty during out time. One of the favourite producers for me was Clos de Gamot which has old vines and seemed to have a nice and unobtrusive style. I think little or no new oak too which is always a good thing in my book. There did seems to be two styles from the small sample we drank. I am going to call them, "rustic tradition" and "Wannabe Argentinians". The former has no fear of funky aromas and a bit of dirty spice, medium weight, more interesting to my mind. The later is more viscous and technically more fruited and pure but seemed to lack a creation sense of place or uniqueness.
A few Bordeaux
Not being far from Bordeaux a few bottles were always going to creep into the range from that great Region. Grand Place 2009 was a little overstated as the name suggests. Baron de Lestac 2011 white was ok but overoaked which slightly spoilt what could have been a lovely good value bottle. Les Carmes Haut Brion 2004 which I bought a few of some years back has been disappointing me of late, some of the sweat charm has gone and it is a little too savoury now. A fine lesson in not ageing a wine you like as it is/was.
Some Burgs
From left to right; A very ordinary Bourgogne Blanc 2012, a delicious with food Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 from Vincent Dampt, an insipid and uninteresting Julienas 2013 (yes Beaujolais is not high on my list but this was just dull) and a bad bottle of Corton Charlemagne 2004 from Bonneau du Martray (see next post for a good bottle!).
Got to love the Germans
The German selection was probably the strongest in terms of the producers shown. The magnum of Prum was real highlight. I had never hidden my love of the Prum wines and this was just another great example (Wehlener Sonnenhur 2011 magnum), it'll age well but is so delicious now. The Spatlese Jubilee bottling from Schloss Schonborn is an absolute favourite of Mrs H and rightly so, very intense fruit. The two Mullers are the estate Rielsings from 2009 and 2010 and they are true to type, 2010 more linear and more focussed, 2009 easier and lovely if simpler.
As predicted!
Of course there was a showing from Italy! and I have to say they were on good form. From left to right:
Brunello di Montalcino 2006 - We had two bottles of this and my only real regret is that I did not buy more, it is youthful but stunning and just so enjoyable, I can't think if anytime when I wouldn't love to just open and enjoy this. 
Chianti Classico Reserva Le Baroncole 2010, San Giusto - I am a fan of San Giusto and think that Percarlo is great and the basic Chianti is a "no brainer" BUT this may be the weak link (well at this young age anyhow), it is just too oaked and that masks what is obviously good fruit…a good wine but not what it could be!
Avvoltore 2006 - Sturdy showing from this wine, very good with big meat dishes, the more recent vintages (2002 onwards) appear not to quite have the charm of old but this is a good wine.
Barolo Brunate 2007, Marcarini - As with most 2007 Barolos I believe in serving this cool and after a quick double decant, it is feminine for Barolo, a Volnayesque Barolo of sorts. Very good way to translate the vintage, enjoyable if not serious.
Barbera d'Alba 2012, Negri - A good richly fruited if not heavy Barbera, good all-rounder, best with another 12 months but good.
The rest!
The highlights here:
Crozes-Hermitage VV 2011, Tardieu-Laurent - This is too young by rights but is delicious in a mini-Hermitage sort of way…savoury bacon with dark fruit. 
Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc VV 2011 - I have had several bottles of this now and whilst it'll age well it is just so balanced and lovely now, not too much structure, not too much fruit just bliss.
Rebmann generally - Not a producer I know but they seem to be a big firm or a negoce who do all that alsace offers, the Pinot Gris got drunk in good quantity, nice simple and enjoyable wines.

There were a good few beers along the way but the sensible thing we did was never go to the fortifiers or spirits (well baring a bit of Pastis).