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  1. 2004 Domaine de la Louvetrie (Pierre Landron & Fils) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie - France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine (10/1/2006) With spinach-feta quesadillas. Very bright and clear light straw. Stone, shell, apple and citrus on the nose. With time a bit of salty sea tang comes out. Palate is just as bright and clear as the wine looks, with good acid and bright and ever-so-slightly-sweet lemon/apple/pear fruit. Finish brings out more seashell, sea air, and a little bitter herb. Too many words would ruin the wine. Just drink and enjoy. A screaming deal at ~$10 Tokyo retail! 2001 Sepp Moser Grüner Veltliner Gebling - Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal (9/25/2006) With bleu cheese enchiladas with a very light jalapeno sauce. Light straw yellow and clear. Nose of gravel, pepper, herb, and peachy apple, with a bit of high-toned tropical citrus. The citrus note is odd, as all other elements present as very low register. No displeasing, but a bit odd in a slightly disjointed way. Palate is rich and full, with substantial body and a little less acid than I had hoped for to match the dish and with much less complexity than the nose. Finishes a bit short. Not a bad match and not a bad wine (particularly given the price point), but there are better choices out there in GrüVe land. Posted from CellarTracker
  2. DAMN GOOD BURGS AND A TOAST TO HANKY J - Keyaki Grill at Capital Tkyu Hotel (10/2/2006) Cathryn and I got together with a few similarly Burg-obsessed friends for dinner last night. Other than one oxidysed '95, everything showed well. With an amuse of rice, tomato, cucumber, parsley 1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé - France, Champagne Bright copper orange, deeply colored, with a vigorous mousse that settles into spurts of bubbles after ten or fifteen minutes. Nose shows sweet apple, smoke, bass-register raspberry, a slight honeyed character. Palate is initially closed up tight, like perfectly structured water – great body and acid to balance. Eventually opens to show coppery mineral, some bright light stone fruit and a long, long finish of peach and herb. This has tremendous balance, great cutting strength combined with freshness. In fact, it has everything but powerful flavor on the palate. But that will come with time. Hands off! With a mousse of yuba with caviar and uni 1991 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses Rich yellow-gold. Touch of vanilla oak on the nose, along with citrus over crisp apple, brie rind, and warm stone. A tiny hint of volatility or heat, but that passes quickly and doesn’t reappear. On the palate, great mineral to open, turning smokey on a mid-palate that features rich ripe white fruit, cream and granite, and a whiff of anise, especially on the finish. Full, sweet but clean, great showing for an underrated vintage. After a long time in the glass, settles into a lovely lemony sweet slightly candied mode but never gets cloying or loses freshness. Beautiful now but with time in hand. 1995 Domaine Guy Amiot et Fils Puligny-Montrachet Les Demoiselles 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet Oxidysed. With veal tenderloin slices on a purée of mushroom, garnished with truffle slices 1972 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Chambolle-Musigny Surprisingly bright, aging red with orange tinge. Expressive and beautifully expansive nose screams mature burg with pine, earth, mushroom, a bit of washed rind cheese. Behind these tertiary elements is a nice remaining dose of deep but bright strawberry fruit. On the palate, the fruit is much stronger and not fading at all. Great fruit and acid balance. As it sits and develops, clay and iron and even a raisiny edge come out, but the raisin never tastes roasted or flat. Over the course of an hour, it begins to fade a little in the mid-palate, but the finish is still building. Nice long finish highlighted by iron, earth and textural muscley strength. After even more time, the tiny last bit in the glass gives a haunting aroma of dark-roasted coffee beans. Another underrated vintage that I love. Continuing with the mains 1990 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée Very young looking with beautifully deep red color. Redolent of clove and cinnamon spice, immediately recognizable as Vosne Romanée (but not as a simple village wine!). Vibrant red fruit – cherry, deep raspberry – and sweeter black fruit – blackberry. A sweetness underlying the nose that just screams of perfect ripeness, not a hint of the roasting that some ‘90s can show – incredibly fresh. On the palate, moves into lovely sour cherry, a note of framboise but without any heat, stunning depth and complexity with earth and more spice coming out on the finish. If I had tasted this blind, I never would have pegged it as a village wine. Matt Kramer describes Romanée Conti as a perfect sphere. That’s the image that sticks with me for this wine – all elements in perfect balance with not a pimple or bump. Fresh, long, complex, fruity, spicy, sauve – all in balance. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to a great man was to drink one of his more humble wines and have it steal the evening. Thanks Steve. 1990 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Vosne-Romanée Less redolent of spice than the Jayer, but it is still there. Beautiful but simpler, with darker fruit on the nose and palate. A little more of the vintage character, with just a hint of roasting to the fruit. Great depth in the middle and bottom of the mouth – filling and expanding. Rich, ripe, beautiful dark cherry and plum sweetness, especially on the finish. With time in glass, this tires a bit faster than the Jayer. Enlightening, but a bit unfair to Rouget to flight these together. This is a damn good wine that was put in the shadows my its more humbley titled uncle. With assorted cheeses 1988 Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Aloxe-Corton Very young looking deep reddish purple. Olive and Christmas plum and pepper lead off on the nose, which settles down into a little earth and some cherry. Foursquare and solid on the palate with rich cherry, some more earth, and good solid fruit sweetness – still very young. Good body and intensity, solid depth throughout the palate, just enough acid brightness to keep it fresh. Tannin is noticeable but tame. A very pure and pleasing representation of Corton. 1983 Domaine Joseph Voillot Pommard Les Rugiens 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pommard Good depth of color in the maturing red range. Earthy but clean nose with dark berry and cherry fruit, some damp leaves and hardwood sap. On the palate, sweet ripe bulky cherry-berry fruit and a pleasing meatiness that is reminiscent of shiitake mushrooms. Lingering sweet finish that packs a little hidden muscle along with nice ripe grape savour. May be ready, but needs significant airtime to open up. Was just starting to show a little more earthy depth when we had to head home. Great night, great and very generous friends. Thanks. Posted from CellarTracker
  3. 1998 Château Naguet - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Montagne-St. Émilion (9/15/2006) With roast chicken, rice, and green pea/shallot salad. No idea where this came from as I didn’t buy it. But it has a Korean back label, so it must have been a gift when I lived in Korea (2002-2003). Color shows a bit plummy darkness amidst the red that is concerning. Nose is simple and straightforward with sweet roasted plum and little mulberry. Palate is all sweetish plum with a hint of dust. With no noticeable tannin or acidity, this has not lost its fruit, but has no structure to hold it together. A simple wine that probably should have been consumed three or four years ago and may also have been heat damaged at some point. Posted from CellarTracker
  4. DINNER WITH FRIENDS (HERM BL, LOIRE SPARKLER, NAPA SB, GIACOSA BARBERA) - Tokyo (9/9/2006) An apertif at home 2001 Ferraton Pere & Fils Hermitage Le Reverdy - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage Rich and deep yellow color, with a bit of a waxy hue. Nose is simple but rich with suggestions of lanolin and slightly candied tropical fruit. Palate is of medium weight and shows simple apple and apricot fruit. As it warms up, a bit of richer fig fruit comes out. A bit hot on the abrupt finish. An odd combination – never quite fat, but more because it lacked the weight to be fat (and was, in fact, a bit hollow in the middle), not because it had any tautness to it. Disappointing. Two days later from the fridge, this has evolved a ton. Nose has taken on a bit of herb and creamy lemon. Palate has that same lemon cream I love from (and look for in) Hermitage Blanc, along with a bit of stoniness. Still a bit hot and still a bit light in the middle, but much more interesting and with a little more verve. Nonetheless, not something I’d be looking to buy again. Some age will be kind to it, but won’t do enough. With slightly aged gouda 1995 Eclat de Cray Crémant de Loire Chapelle de Cray Brut - France, Loire Valley, Crémant de Loire Picked up as a curiosity and to have around for times that bubbles were desired, but not the fullness (or price) of a Champagne. Despite age, the color is on the lighter side of yellow and mousse is still lively, even though we drank this out of water goblets. Nose is simple but pleasant, showing a bit of bread, much ripe peach and apple, and perhaps a wee bit of freshly cut fieldgrass. Palate presents as a bit sweet and heavy initially, but picks up a little zip after a few sips. Flavors are again fairly simple like the nose – mostly peach and apple, but with a bit of honey. Not as zippy as I would like, particularly from the Loire. Chenin blanc flavors but without the evident acidity to make it work. Not bad, but I’m not racing back for more. Perhaps I’m jaded. Everyone else liked it more and would consider it for a value house sparkler. I just thought it lacked freshness. Perhaps it should have been consumed younger, though it showed no notes typical of an over the hill bubbly. With a lightly dressed heart of palm and field green salad 2005 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, Napa Valley Lightish grassy yellow. Nose is immediately redolent of grass, but quickly moves past that into white peach and grapefruit, with a wee bit of white pepper. Palate is similar in flavors, mostly peach and grapefruit, with decent acidity but not quite the zip I like from Sauv Blanc. Much closer to an unoaked Graves than anything from the Loire or New Zealand. I used to like this wine a lot when I was first starting to take wine seriously in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Nothing wrong with it now, but nothing of real interest. Better than the normal random bottle brought by fellow guests, but not something I’d buy. With a hearty, reduced-tomato sauced pasta 2001 Bruno Giacosa Barbera d'Alba Falletto di Serralunga - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba Medium cherry hue, clear and bright – even radiant. Nose of deep sappy herbs and bright cherry, along with a nice bit of leathery funk. Palate is absolutely incisive with great acidity that might be tough alone but just sings with a stout vegetarian, reduced-tomato pasta sauce. Nice cherry fruit, much deeper than on the nose, some more herbs, even a hint of something deeper – coffee or spice? Tannin comes out on the finish, but in a cleansing and resolving way, rather than a harsh one. Brash and brawn with balance. Not sure how this would have done alone and didn’t get to see because it was too damn good with the food to save any. Posted from CellarTracker
  5. THAI DINNER AT HOME WITH BASIC RIESLINGS - Home in Tokyo (9/3/2006) Richard and Naoko and the kids came over and we prepared Thai -- som tam, bo bia sod, gai yang, pak bung fai daeng, khao niao mamuang. While we were finishing the cooking, we drank the rosé. With the food, we worked through the Germans, saving the Muller-Catoir to sip before and with dessert. 2005 Château Cambon Beaujolais Rosé - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais A fair bit darker and without the coppery hints of the 2004, this is a solid deep pink even tending into a little red. The nose shows a fundamental earthiness, along with strawberry and a bit of cherry fruit. Palate is fairly substantial for a rosé, but with none of the hints of sweetness that were in the ’04. A bit of gravel, the lightest hint of peach, but mostly just straightforward berry. Enjoyable, but lacking a bit of liveliness. I’ll buy more, but with a bit less excitement than previously. 2002 Egon Müller Riesling QbA Scharzhof - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Saar A light yellow that is deepening a bit from the last bottle I had a year or so ago, but still fresh looking. Nose is predominantly pear and lime, but with a bit of stone and spice. The spice seems to have come out considerably over the last year and the fruit on the nose seems a bit less sweet but no less rich. On the palate, has the same great raciness that makes this such a great accompaniment to Thai food. Good streak of stony mineral, along with peach, pear, and a great lemony acidity. On the finish, a bit of floral honey comes out, but only the very lightest honey. Light, dancing, and cutting beautifully through the spicy food – Saaring, not searing! 2004 Dönnhoff Riesling Estate QbA - Germany, Nahe Very, very light in color and crystal clear like springwater. The refreshing appearance carries through on the nose where a very primary cherry fruit (that I find trademark for Dönnhoff) is joined by apple, lemon, and a bit of a tropical hint. On the palate, fresh and tight, but still with a great fullness of flavor and body without ever getting heavy. Still primary, not a lot of complexity showing yet, but terrifically balanced juice that leaves that haunting cherry taste long after it is gone. I always seem to think of Dönnhoff QbA’s and Kab’s as being water with weight and flavor and cut because they’re so damn easy to drink but still pack a great refreshing flavor punch. A very enjoyable wine of which I’ll be happy to drink more, but with a flavor profile and fullness that does not work as well with Thai. 2003 Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Pfalz A pretty greenish yellow that seems even to hint at the lightest peach, but I must just be anticipating the nose here. On the nose, an immediate impression of a bouquet of assorted white and yellow flowers backed by peachy fruit with an undercurrent of lime. Initially seems a bit too sweet on the palate, but then a zing of mineral comes traipsing through, trailing fresh acidity that turns the sweetness to that of a very young and still firm peach. On the finish, more of the floral goes on forever, along with some greener fresh herb. Intermittent sips for two following days in the fridge see the floral element settle down, the sweetness become less pronounced, and much more gentle tropical fruit and grapefruit emerge. Eaten with mango and sticky rice, it was best to catch it on day one. With savory food or alone, it was been better on the third day. I love Thai food, I love simple German wines, and I love having family close at hand even though I live in Tokyo. Posted from CellarTracker
  6. GAGNAIRE -- CHAMPAGNE, BURGS, ALSACE - Pierre Gagnaire Tokyo (9/1/2006) Cathryn and I headed out with another food and wine-obsessed couple to try the Tokyo outpost of Pierre Gagnaire. Each plate has too many tastes and sub-dishes for me to do a food review, but I would make a few comments. First, there is always a risk that the cute tricks and jokes won't work. In this case, none of the playful bits failed; there were no off or jarring notes and it never got too cute. Second, there was a nice depth of flavor to each of the dishes and they were very well executed. Finally, though, this restaurant seems to suffer from the same problem as many outposts -- there seemed to be no soul in the food. Just as at Tokyo's Robuchon, it seemed as if a perfectly trained chef were executing with precision the instructions that are posted on the wall. There was simply no spark, and that spark is what often makes a restaurant like this worth the cost. Glad I went, enjoyed the food, but I'm still convinced the small local French restaurants are the best in Tokyo. Anyway, on to the wines... To Start -- with amuses 2000 Guy Charlemagne Champagne Mesnillésime Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut - France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Bright and rich yellow in the glass, a bit darker than I would have expected. Mousse is small, tight and vigorous. On the nose, a very primary shot of ripe apple. And I mean really, really ripe apple. This is not a good start. And then I hit the palate… Nice bit of slightly bracing acidity and a huge mineral and lemon character reins in the still ripe fruit. Absolutely primary and in need of significant time, but this is a 2000 that has a ton of stuffing and seems to have the structure to match. With time, the nose settles down as well and shows some chalky mineral to go with more subdued fruit. It’s got Mesnil bones, but they are really cloaked in baby fat. I think this is going the right direction and I’ll but some to put away, but only time will tell. Entrées -- for the fish eaters 2000 Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Gouttes d'Or 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault Another wine that is very rich in color and even seems a bit viscous in the glass. At first, the nose shows pure apple fruit with a little hint of green apple tartness, some citrus peel, and an undefined waxy richness. The palate is very full, even big, with slightly honeyed pear, apple, and more citrus. Only with time does any of the Gouttes d’Or minerality come out. Unfortunately, time also brings out some heat on the nose and in the finish. The longer this sits, the more it picks up a nice bit of mineral, but it never sheds its bit of heat. An enjoyable drink, ripe rich fruit with a mineral backbone, but not quite in balance. Entrées -- for the foei gras eaters 2000 Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Furstentum Vendanges Tardives - France, Alsace, Kientzheim & Sigolsheim, Alsace Grand Cru AOC From half bottle. Bright gold with a hint of orange, leaving a seductive trail as it swirls in the glass. Nose is driven much more by fruit that by floral elements. Yes, there is a bit of rose and white field flower if one looks for it, but there is much more in the way of rich, syrup-macerated tropical fruit – lychee and guava. On the palate, the wine is in balance for drinking alone, with enough acid to balance the sweetness. But this falls a little short with the foie, as it doesn’t quite cut the richness. Flavors of apricot and peach are added to the fruit from the nose and a bit of floral spice comes out on the lingering finish. I like this a lot and think it is unfair to judge it against the foie. By biggest takeway, though, is that this is a version of gewurz that I can really enjoy – rich, a bit exotic, but with the sometimes excessive spicy/floral element present in only a pleasingly restrained way. Mains -- for the pork/duck eaters 2000 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Flagey-Echezeaux I’ve found the M-M wines since the late ‘90s to be solid and dependable, but rarely exciting. Though I am not a huge new oak fan, I’ve not found the oak issues that others have. This one has a healthy deep red color and gives off a nose of darkish cherry fruit, a little dark berry, and a good degree of earth and coffee. Full and just a tad chunky in the mouth, it is not entirely rough or rustic, but has a pleasing foursquare solidity to it. More cherry, more earth, just enough acid, and a slowly developing depth of flavor that is very satisfying. One of the better M-M wines I’ve tried, but still very much in the normal vein. At the lower end, I enjoy their Fixin and seem to find a bit of that character in all of their wines. This was no exception. A good match with the basic solid flavors of an assortment of rich pork dishes. Mains -- for the lobster eater 1999 Marcel Deiss Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim - France, Alsace, Bergheim, Alsace Grand Cru AOC Lemon with a hint of green in the glass. Initial nose of peach and apricot, sweet hay, a bit of honey, maybe the slightest touch of petrol. With time, the expected lemon and lime come out. Rich and full on the palate, perhaps from a combination of alcohol and RS. Never quite fat or overblown, showing a good depth of stone fruit and mineral flavor, but never quite showing the delineation or food-defining capability I love from riesling. Sense of sweetness is more apparent on the finish, as are more hay and mineral. Good wine in its own way and perfectly enjoyable, but not the reason I love riesling. Great evening with good friends and a chance to drink a few things I generally don't buy for home. The Guy Charlemagne is something I will seek out. The Bouchard Gouttes d'Or was a bit out of balance but tasty. The Weinbach was one of the best renditions of gewurz I've had and I would buy it. The Ech VV was a solid performer that I would buy at the right price, but really just further solidifies my opinion of the producer. Jury is still out on Deiss. Posted from CellarTracker
  7. TTG#10: SUMMER WINES? - Tokyo American Club (8/25/2006) Eight of us gathered at TAC for an end of summer dinner. Theme was summer wines, but we got a bit carried away in the chardonnay section and may have reached into autumn. TAC did a very good job with the wine service and a decent enough job with the food, though the portions were a bit large. Still, good quality for club food. Steve, sorry for shamelessly stealing a few of your flight names. Bubbles to Start (as always) 1996 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon - France, Champagne Lightest salmon copper with a tiny bead moving in wispy puffs like smoke signals saying “delicious”. At first, noses is closed up tight, tight, tight. Palate has a nice creaminess balanced with crispness as the wispy bubbles move smoothly over the tongue, then pop. There is a palpable sweetness adding to the creamy texture, but this is still all in balance. When it is still fresh in the glass, this is all about texture until an almost riesling-like cherry explodes on the finish. With time in the glass, it opens up more and more to show some light flaky-dough yeast on the nose, along with tart but ripe peach and berry. Citrus joins the cherry on the palate along with a hint of cinnamon. As much as it opens up, it is clear that this is very young. One of those wines I would have loved to be able to seal up and taste the next day. I managed to keep a bit in the glass for an hour and a half or so and it was still just beginning to blossom. Damn good wine! In the Pink With spicy crab cocktail 2004 Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Rosé La Dame Rousse - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel Rich reddish side of orange, very clear and bright. Raspberry and cranberry on the nose, intriguingly herby and garrigue-accented on the finish with a hint of refreshing quinine. But – in between – just a little bit too much of a good thing, as the rich fruit trampled the lightness and freshness I look for in a summer rosé. But a good and serious wine, regardless. Does seem to get a bit hot as it warms in the glass. Putting aside my preferences, this is a winner. It is definitely of its place and that’s a good thing. I just happen to prefer other places for rosé, like Beaujo, the Loire, and Bandol. 2005 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Rosé - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley A few days ago, I posted a pretty positive note on this wine. I was eager to try it again to confirm my impressions. Not as bright and limpid as the Tavel, though still clear enough. Strawberry and sweetness on the nose – not quite cotton candy but a very textural sense of sweetness. Whether from alcohol or sugar I don’t know, but this becomes cloying and doesn’t really work with food. Radically different than my impression the first time I tasted it and not for the better. To be fair, this probably works better without food and serving next to the Tavel worked to its detriment. Worth one more try, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope as I’m afraid the answer is that this only works without food. No Cats Allowed With goat cheese salad 1998 Couhins-Lurton - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan Oxidised. There was a bit of discernable light grass and citrus underneath, but hard to get to much more than that. 2005 Domaine Maestracci Vin de Corse Calvi - France, Corsica, Vin de Corse Calvi The theme was summer wines and this was the low-end and (possibly) high-value example, or so I hoped. A blend of mostly vermentino with a bit of ugni blanc. Very pale lemony color is a good indicator of the pale lemon and herbal scents on the nose. Palate is fresh and a bit tart with more lemon, some light grapefruit, and bit of grass. Simple and fresh, but needed to be served a little cooler and needed some equally fresh and simple shellfish to accompany. I like this wine and will enjoy it exactly that way. However, in this environment and with a rich goat cheese salad, it was clearly uncomfortable and behaved accordingly. Horses for courses and such. When I first tasted this blind in a shop that only carries French wines, I was stumped. I kept wanting to say Italian, but logic said it couldn't be so. I wound up guessing sauv blanc. Oh well, that's what I get for forgetting Corsica exists! Ein, Zwei, Off-Drei With roasted pork 2001 Hermann J. Wiemer Johannisberg Riesling Semi-Dry - USA, New York, Finger Lakes Deepening pale straw color and a nose that moves about two feet ahead of the glass. At first, seems a bit like petrol, but turns out to be an extremely flinty-minerally smell – intriguing and pleasant. Under that is ripe apple and some peach. On the palate, a little bit of sweetness and good texture, though perhaps a bit course. The mineral is significantly toned down here to leave some more ripe apple and peach, with just a bit of limey citrus. Maintains its strength through the middle, but dies away quickly on the finish after a slight honeyish tickle. My first Finger Lakes riesling and – while I would have no way to peg it as Finger Lakes – it clearly came from somewhere different, somewhere I’d not tasted before. That’s reason enough for me to try more. 2003 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Nahe Clear and bright, limpid enough to be described as water with texture, except that it has good light yellow color. Very expressive nose dominated by that signature bright incisive cherry and stony dust, but supported by a strong degree of tropical fruit. On the palate, big texture that rolls around very smoothly but manages to have a bit of cut as well (though less than in other vintages). Still in a primary stage, the palate pretty much follows the nose except for some spice that begins on the mid-palate and builds on the finish to combine with a tiny touch of cool kirsch. Bigger and not quite so incisive as I would hope, but packed with flavor. Will be interested to see how this ages. Chardonnays (and a ringer) With roasted scallops and white bean cassoulet 1985 Robert Ampeau & Fils Puligny-Montrachet Combettes 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet Surprisingly light and unevolved color, even for an Ampeau. Nose initially shows a note of butterscotch oak that quickly fades to leave a healthy nuttiness over sweetish but bright lemon and crisp apple. Behind that is a nice smoky mineral character. Palate is full and round but not fat, with plenty of appley citrus and some cream. More nuts and smoke on the finish. Big enough, nicely typical with smoky Puligny mineral and a nod across the commune line with Meursault nuttiness, but somehow lacking the precision and exciting edge that I want from such a wine. Plenty good, but somehow a bit disappointing. Still my favorite of the chardonnays tonight, if only for reasons of style. 1999 Coche-Dury Bourgogne-Aligoté - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne-Aligoté Simple story here… Wake – sleep – wake – sleep. This wasn’t entirely gone by any means and, when it was awake it had a bit of the extremely crisp apple and sharp-salty savor I like from aligoté, but it was a shadow of itself. Nice to see that Coche reins in the oak for this bottling and that, when fresh, it would probably be a pretty nice (though pricy) drop. If anything, confirmation that I like my aligoté younger, so as to savor its brittle youthful cut. I still need to try an aged Lafarge or de Villaine, but I think I’ll generally stick with youthful versions of the grape. Thought it would be a cool ringer, but was not to be. Oh, well. 1996 Fontaine-Gagnard Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet Absolutely DOA. Oxidised. 1999 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River Nice rich yellow color and a rich nose to match. Obvious oak that is creamy rather than toasty and that does not get in the way of the tropical fruit – linchee and a bit of pineapple – or the ripe appley pear. On the palate, a rich and similarly creamy feel, with some vanilla, but more fruit. Through it all, though, was just enough mineral and just enough cut that I was reminded why this is one of my favorite new world chardonnays. Not something to drink everyday, but an absolute crowd pleaser that I can thoroughly enjoy. 2003 Ramey Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley Rich looking yellow gold that was indicative of the richness to come. Let me say up front that this wine had enough acid and mineral that, in a dispassionate sense, it was able to balance the oak and richly tropical fruit. However, it struck me as just too much of a good thing. A dose of butterscotch on the nose that never really receded, along with sweet vanillin and – somewhere behind it – some sweet buttery pineapple and roasting apple. Not a good start. The palate is where it started to come back together with the aforementioned mineral and enough acid to keep it from going fat. Under this was very good tropicalish fruit, ripe but not overly so. Big on the finish. If this note sounds ambivalent, then I’m getting the message across. Good materials, may integrate in time, but just a bit too much of everything without that amazing lift and precision that the best big wines have. I just hesitate to be too negative as it is so very young. Bubbles to Cleanse Getting ready for the Constance N.V. Couche Champagne Cuvée Perle de Nacre - France, Champagne, Côte des Bars (Aube), Champagne A blanc des blancs bottling with the bulk of the fruit from Montgueux and a little from Buxeuil. Base wines are from ’97 and ’98. Light gold in the glass with mousse that is a little fast and foamy, but still persistent after the initial rush. Nose shows very ripe chardonnay aromas of apple and pear, backed up by a hint of the tropical. Palate is big and round, perhaps a bit course, with straightforward fruit flavors that follow the nose. On the finish, there is a hint of an intriguing cheesy-leesy character. Nice direct ripe flavors, but not what I look for in a BdB. Have to respect the fact that this is clearly a wine of its location, with broad and ripe Côte des Bars flavors. I just can’t help but think that it would have been improved by a little pinot-provided structure. Heaven With assorted cheeses 1989 Huët Vouvray Cuvée Constance - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray Deep and rich gold with a dense texture that moves languorously around the glass. First blush on the nose is major botrytis with a panoply of rich sweet fruits – apricot, ripe fig, orange and more exotic citrus. With a little time open, this develops spice notes and even shows a bit of deeply underlying stoniness. On the palate, extraordinarily concentrated, but absolutely in balance. If you can imagine the most agile dancer somehow moving unfettered through a big pot of honey, then you’ve got the measure of how beautifully the acid balances the sweetness and texture. Palate is equally complex to the nose and the finish just won’t end. A truly stupendous wine. I’m often wary lux cuvées, as they tend to be a bit too much of everything, but occasionally it is possible to put 10 lbs. of potatoes in a 5-lb. sack and have it all hold together. This one does hold together – and magically. I can only imagine how amazing this will be in time. Perfect bookends to the evening -- Elisabeth and Constance. Next to the K-B, the Mordorée showed fairly restrained, but when I put the K-B aside for a while, the expected size and the touch of heat came out. Glad to have tasted the Wiemer; I'm eager to sample a little more from the region. Leeuwin was probably most on form of the chards, but I enjoyed the Ampeau the most. Others may differ here. Couche was a bit clumsy, but I'd be interested to try a bottling with pinot for structure. Great to see everyone again, can't wait for the next one. Posted from CellarTracker
  8. 1999 Clos Sainte-Pauline Clairette du Languedoc Sus Castel - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Clairette du Languedoc (8/15/2006) Presented to me blind as something to sip on while I browsed one of my favorite wine shops. The proprietor is good about showing me interesting things and trying to trick me. This is a deep yellow, heading to gold color with a bit of visible richness. One whiff of the nose and I’m immediately thinking mature Loire chenin blanc (slight but pleasant oxidation, sweet baking apples, some lanolin). I could not have been more wrong, and that was evident as soon as I took the first sip. Rich and round in the mouth, balanced but without the vibrant acidity I would have expected from Loire chenin. Fruit on the palate is more ripe apple, macerated white grapes, a little melon. Persistent finish shows peach and almond. Made predominantly from grenache blanc in an intentionally oxidative style, it was enjoyable as a novelty but I’m having a hard time imagining how I would match it with food. Also having a hard time imagining how they were allowed to use the "Clairette" appellation, given composition. Posted from CellarTracker
  9. A SUNDAY BARBECUE WITH FRIENDS - Tokyo (8/13/2006) We gathered with old friends/neighbors at their house to welcome some new neighbors. Bryan and Amy grilled and provided a spread of salads and sides. Wines were random, several of them being things I pulled because I'd been itching to try them. 1998 Le Brun Servenay Special Club - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne Nice medium size and volume mousse. A bright and expressive nose of ripe clean pear and apple, plus a hint of yeastiness. Drunk pretty quickly by the group, so the nose never had a chance to develop much. Still young and needing time to show complexity there. On the palate, this was bright and incisive with great definition. Good acid balance, just enough roundness and apparent sweetness to be lovely alone as an aperitif. Terry Theise always refers to a pencil lead character in Avize Champagnes. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten it so clearly, as it leapt out on the finish. Superb balance of roundess/size with freshness and cut. At this age, all about texture and balance (and that burst of Avize signature), it is convincing me that I need to be buying ‘98s in general. My first encounter with the grower, it will lead me to buy more. 2001 La Fleur Jonquet, Château Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves Pale yellow straw with a few remaining hints of green. Clean nose of light grass and grapefruit, refreshing. The kind of nose that leads one to expect spritz that isn’t there. On the palate simple and clean with more grapefruit and a little bit of melon. Decent acid, lacking a bit of concentration but nicely fresh for a simple summer quaff. Second time I’ve had this, I’d consider buying at the right price. Alas, they don’t want the right price here in Tokyo. A decent value at the $8 to $10 that wine-searcher indicates in the US. 2004 Bonnefond Condrieu Côte Chatillon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu Clear and pretty in the glass with a typically bursting perfume of orange flower, sweet peach, and honey. Palate followed with lightly sweetish lemon on apple, more flowers and peach, hints of more tropical fruit, and a bit of unexpected mineral. The profile was just what one would expect, but it was perhaps a bit dilute. Finish showed yet more of the floral character. Reminds me that, while I enjoy one occasionally, viognier is really not my favorite grape. Not a bad example by any means and a good buy for fans of the appellation at around $30.00. Clean and uncluttered by excessive oak or sweetness. I guess my biggest complaint is that I can’t ever figure out how to drink these. Perhaps I should just close my eyes and enjoy. Would have done best as the first wine of the afternoon. 1999 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Blaufränkisch Blend 1 - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee Deep and rich red in the glass. I had been told this was already drinking well, but still had a lot of time left to evolve. Appearance would indicate this was true. Nose has an interesting earthy spiciness, along with a heavy (but not obscuring) dose of oaky vanilla sweetness. Palate has a neat textural duality – somehow this seems both rough (tannin and tactile earth) and smooth (fruit roundness and a bit of silky oak) at the same time. Rich and sweet dark fruit combined with chocolate and earthy spice (especially on the finish). My first experience with the wine and with the grapes. This style is a real departure for me, but it was just the trick with barbecued ribs. I’m not quite sure how to describe it – perhaps a combination of an Arnoux-styled and accented Burg with a ripe vintage Southern Rhone. Interesting…doesn’t fit with what I normally eat and drink, but has earned a place in the “wines with rustic grilling” lineup. For those who want to accuse me of being one-dimensional (i.e., exclusively acid-headed), please file and refer to this note on a thoroughly modern wine I liked. As noted above, I'd have done better to have the Condrieu first, without food. I always have a hard time pairing them with food. While I don't drink a lot of Condrieu, I do love Côte-Rôtie. Does anyone have views on the Bonnefond C-R? The prices seem to be very reasonable and the style on the Condrieu was very clean and precise. If the C-R is similar, I need to get some. The Kracher was extremely atypical of what I normally drink and like, but this was a very well made modern wine that went well with the food. I'd buy more for similar circumstances, but can't see drinking it with lighter or more detailed fare. Standout was the Champagne. I need more '98s and I need more Le Brun Servenay! And the new neighbors are great -- and have kids near my daughter's age, which is always a bonus. Thanks Bryan and Amy. Posted from CellarTracker
  10. Thanks. I was afraid of that.
  11. Jim (Cowan): With a little quick searching, I've found a bit of the '03 Foscarino in my market. Nothing else. Is the '03 outsized? Or is it still a good example? Any thoughts? Also found a little '02 Anguane out here. Definitely going to put a little of this away to see how it slims down. Thanks, Jim
  12. Have not seen them in my market or tried them. If you like them, please let us know and I'll look out for them here. Thanks, Jim
  13. Jim: Thanks for the tip on the Anselmi. I've not seen any of the Anselmi wines in my market, but that doesn't mean they're not here. It's a big city! I've also not seen the Tamellini wines in Tokyo. This was a bottle from the States. My usual suspects out here are Inama, Prà, and Pieropan. I'll definitely be adding Tamellini to the usual list if I find a source here. Will look out for the Anselmi wines. Thanks, Jim
  14. Jim: Thanks for the tip. This is my first experience with Tamellini. I was impressed with the way the wine could carry the weight and yet remain fresh and typical. Given that ability, I'd be very interested to see what remains when it has shed its baby fat. It must be something! Jim
  15. jrufusj

    Wine Tag

    Katie/Mary: Great idea! Actually, I think this would be a terrific idea for a fundraiser for eGullet Society or for some worthy eGullet-sponsored charity. If we could get consent/legal/copyright issues lined up and find an editor, the various responses (tasting note plus educational background) could be edited and compiled into a gazetteer of wine. With good participation, we could get eight to ten or more entries per letter. Nicely edited into a book, this is a product that I would buy even if it weren't for a good cause. If each letter were scheduled for two weeks, we'd have the alphabet done in a year. I would think we'd need two weeks to ensure good participation. I can't promise they'll be up by Sunday, but I'll do notes and background writeups for: 2002 Tamellini Soave Classico "Anguane" 2002 Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Kabinett 2001 Giacosa Barbera D'Alba 2000 ZH Clos Ste. Urbain Riesling (Alsace) 1999 Kracher Blend I (Blaufrankisch/Zweigelt) (Austria) 1999 Coche-Dury Bourgogne Aligoté 1999 Leeuwin Estate Artists Series Chardonnay 1998 LeBrun-Servenay Brut "Special Club" (Avize) 1985 Ampeau Puligny Combettes I've been through the notes that I have posted in the last week or that are in the queue to be transcribed and posted later this week/early next week and these are all of them for which I can find a reasonable connection to "A". Okay, am I going overboard with enthusiasm? Or is there a worthwhile project here? Jim
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