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jrufusj

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Everything posted by jrufusj

  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. jrufusj

    TN: Gagnaire Tokyo

    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
  16. TN: A GREAT SUNDAY AFTERNOON (86 MEURSAULT, 2X76 BURG, 89/90 HERMITAGE, ETC.) - Tokyo (7/16/2006) Spent a Sunday afternoon at a friend's place with a couple of other wine-obsessed folks. Generous host, great spread of assorted hors d'oeuvre/light lunch kind of food, interesting wines. I could do this every Sunday. (More than) a token white 1986 Francois Jobard Meursault Les Poruzots 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault Rich gold that shows significant but not worrying age. Nose is initially mute, showing a bit of disconcertingly nutty and potentially sherried character. Palate also seems a bit flat, with ripe apple and some mineral. Give it some time and an old lesson is learned once again: older wines often need time to recover their legs and begin to move about. This one never quite dances with youthful vigor, but it picks up enough good acidic nervosity on the palate to keep one interested in the emerging mineral and apple/peach fruit. Originally worrying nose moves into nuts and honey and even a little citrus, with a pleasingly soft finish that perhaps displays a bit of that ’86 botrytis one sometimes finds. Just gets better and better with time. Fully mature but with plenty of life left if its in-the-glass evolution is any indication. Perhaps my favorite Meursault producer, even without regard to Jobard’s very reasonable pricing. And now for something different... 2005 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Rosé - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley Pinkish rosé with a bit of orange to it. Slightly sweet but fresh nose of strawberry and a touch of cinnamon, showing hints of other bright red fruit from time to time. To start, the palate seems neither hot nor sweet, despite the high alcohol levels. You know, I could add this to the summer rosé list. Only notice the alcohol on the finish and then only if I’m actively looking for it. Good effort and a shame it’s too high alcohol to quaff for an afternoon. Hot fun in the summertime or ... the spirit(y) of '76 1976 Louis Remy Clos de la Roche - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Morey St. Denis Advanced but not decayed red that is tending toward orange, almost like an older nebbiolo. Nose immediately shows the ripeness of the vintage in a still appealing ripe plum character with a bit of hot earth. Palate is a bit more tired, with no freshness and fruit that long ago lost its crunch. Rapidly moves more and more into a roasted character, with only the earth to hint at its origin. Wilting and slightly spirity finish confirms that – whatever it might once have been – it is now no more than a confirmation that 1976 was damn hot. 1976 Hubert de Montille Volnay Taillepieds 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay Color has lightened significantly from what I imagine the ‘76s originally looked like, but still carries a bit of cherry brightness. Nose is initially closed and palate seems a bit thin. But soon, lesson learned again (see Jobard above). Nose picks up a bit of warm but fresh earth, just ripe cherry and black fruit, and a good degree of decaying leaf. Palate begins to show a bit more of the vintage character, with a level of ripeness and warmth that is uncharacteristic of Montille. There’s even a little gently roasted plum in here, but there’s still that signature acid that makes even a vintage like this live forever. Never as fresh or bright or piercing as leaner vintages can be, but still gaining detail throughout the afternoon. This is the wine I keep coming back to. Not quite summer wines (but I'll drink them any day) 1989 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage Still deep and dark and looking pretty young. Nose immediately screams northern Rhone, with bacon fat and a dose of barnyard along with an undercurrent of dense dark fruit. Palate seems blocked somehow, with a little meatiness and some chocalatey dark fruit but not much more. Give it time… Even with time, this never really develops, though it is still pleasant to drink. Shows the hulking size and some of the deep rich elements one looks for from a Chapoutier Hermitage, but never really opens up and just seems blunted. No noticeable TCA and problems seem more barnyard oriented, but something is keeping this from showing its stuff. Awkward phase? Maybe, but I’m guessing somehow flawed. 1990 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage Lighter in color than the Chapoutier, with a dark red showing hints of lighter ruby. Nose is initially restrained in size but complex in character with bits of meat and leather and cherry and black fruit. Palate has that combination of elegance and hidden size that promises a lot, but it doesn’t initially deliver much. With time (a good bit of it), the volume on the nose gets higher and that same meatiness comes out amidst the darkish fruit on the palate, followed by a kick of spice on the finish. It’s opening ever so slowly but steadily. Despite considerable ripe tannin, it still shows a balance and purity that promises much to come. Opened ten years too early if my guess is any good; I’d love to have tasted this the next day. And a drop of claret to finish 1989 Château L'Evangile - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol Maturing, but not fading appearance. Nose shows a bit of rich cassis and blackberry fruit with an additional whiff of licorice for richness. Palate is round and smooth with a bit of residual tannin that stays nicely out of the way, but is never seductive or lush. A bit of the expected ripe plum comes out toward the back of the palate. Good, solid, balanced, but perhaps lacking a bit of concentration. Nose promises a little more than the palate delivers. A clear lesson that older wines often need to be given time. How much greatness do we miss when we blow through them quickly at an offline? Posted from CellarTracker
  17. AT THE BEACH HOUSE AND RELAXED - (6/30/2006) With the family and with nothing but fun and light fresh seafood in mind. N.V. Bottex Vin du Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille - France, Savoie, Vin du Bugey-Cerdon Pale but bright pink and happily frothing. Nose shows a bit of the sweetness but also a healthy dose of cranberry and quinine. Palate is sweeter than the nose and shows hints of the strawberry expected from Bugey, but shows more cherry and still a bit of the cranberry. Sweeter and a bit less fresh on the palate than the Renardet-Fachet (as others have also commented), but made quite intriguing by the cranberry and quinine on the nose. I enjoy these things in the proper context and am pleased to find some variety within the genre. 2002 Tamellini Soave Classico Superiore Anguane - Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico At the rich end of Soave straw yellow and appealingly bright. Fresh sweet nose of honeyed hay and spiced apple is immediately apparent, with undertones of sweet flowers and wet stone. Bright, incisive palate with tart white plum, apple, and citrus. Persistent finish is honeyed and refreshingly tart at the same time. Entirely bigger, deeper, and seemingly sweeter than the ordinary Soave without losing any tipicità or freshness. 2002 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Ruwer Light greenish gold with still the tiniest (and I mean tiniest) hint of spritz that never made its way to the palate except as a generally perceived sense of freshness. Nose of tart apple, very lightly petrolly earth, and a floral hint. Palate heads pleasantly and bracingly into lime territory, with some stone to boot. Strong finish is tart but not sharp with a saline citrus quality before apple flower sweetness smooths it out. Love this stuff. Only regret is that it’s still very young but was quaffed by the group too quickly to see any development. Good MSR riesling is one of those wines for which I have a very hard time calling one vintage better or worse than another, except for real duds. Not better or worse, just thrillingly different. From summery to serious, these are all winners in this context (and many others!). Posted from CellarTracker
  18. jrufusj

    TN:  TTG#8

    Thanks for the kind words about my notes. While I wouldn't choose to open those Bords so young for ordinary drinking, if one has a case or two laid away, it is educational to try them young. Drinking through a case or more of bottles through the life of a wine is, as far as I know, the only way to develop the ability to taste them young and determine where they're going. And, given that most of my buying is driven by tasting for myself (or relying on recommendations from a small group of trusted tasting friends), it's a skill I need. All that being said, while I enjoy it, I'm not a big buyer of Bordeaux. These were the contribution of someone else to the dinner. The Mascarellos were my contribution. I do agree, though, that other than assessing where the wine may be in the future, I don't get a lot out of drinking big '03 Bordeaux today. Thanks, Jim
  19. jrufusj

    Menu Help

    Go see Lyle Fass at Crush in Manhattan and tell him what you like and what you're interested in. I have no affiliation, but think he is great for slightly off-the-beaten-path wines like good old world rosés, Muscadet, etc. Also, look for anything imported by Louis Dressner at Chambers Street. You can also take their advice. No affiliation here either. While you can choose to spend a lot of money at either place, both are stores where you can find great and slightly out of the ordinary drinking at very good prices. Alternatively, read Jim Cowan's posts and take a list of what appeals to you to Crush or Chambers Street and they'll direct you from there. Enjoy, Jim
  20. I'm currently waiting for the '91 André Beaufort demi sec to come in. '91 is my anniversary year and not generally a strong one for Champagne, but a merchant I trust is high on this wine. If you are exploring Beaufort wines, do be aware of the difference between André/Jacques Beaufort and the other maisons Beauforts. Jacques is from Ambonnay. Louis César and Herbert are from Bouzy. That means both are pinot/rosé specialists, but in my limited sampling, I've found the André/Jacques wines to be far superior to the Louis César. Don't have any experience with the Herbert and not sure what the relationship between Herbert and Louis César is. Like you, I've found the André/Jacques wines to be inconsistent but exciting, but that is part of what I enjoy about wine -- the large and small variations from terroir and vintage. Did you actually get a chance to taste the Polisy (Côte des Bars) wine? In Tokyo, I only see the Ambonnay grand cru and blended wines that include both Polisy and Ambonnay fruit. What was the Polisy wine like? Thanks in advance for your comments.
  21. jrufusj

    TN:  TTG#8

    TTG#8: OLD BAROLO AND YOUNG BORDEAUX - Shunju in Tokyo (6/2/2006) We gathered for an evening of testing whether the Utegawa "cuisine of subtraction" idea works as well with nebbiolo as it sometimes does with Burgundy. Short answer -- sort of. With richer fish dishes, older wines, more time in glass one could see the possibilities. But I'm not racing to drink young nebbiolo with sushi any time soon. Bubbles to Start (and good ones at that) 1996 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs - France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Deep straw/pale gold. Beautifully pointal mousse. Heavy ripe apple and slight horse urine (this is a scent I find in many young rich wines, though normally more pinot driven and is, surprisingly, a positive indication of good things to come) on the nose. With the shio-uni, a bit of a tinny taste, but the tin goes away with a beef gelée and potato and smoked bacon mousse. Young but not backward. Has a hidden elegance in finish and mousee but the ’96 size certainly shows. A great combination of elegance and size that just needs time. In the glass, a bit of welcome and refreshing lime comes out, along with the typical minerality. Toasted yeast bread and acid are great on the finish. Roulette (aka '96 White Burgs) 1996 Bernard Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet Bright fresh gold. Butterscotch on first whiff but good acid when it hits the palate. Broad apple and a tiny tropical element drive the palate, which also has slight bit of minerality. Revisiting the nose, it also shows a white fruit and mineral freshness. Good rich, dry sweetness and clay-spattered oak on the finish. Seems a bit muted, but I’m also suffering a bit from my cold. 1996 Michel Colin-Deléger et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vergers 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet Deeper gold. A bit of brown apple on the nose. With another whiff the nose just seems flattish. Drinkable and not awful, but clearly oxidized. Again, drinkable, but why bother when there’s other wine on the table. What a shame! NR (flawed) Main Event: Barolo! 1967 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo Slight muddiness to color, but younger looking than expected. At edges, not orange but almost there. Nose initially gives soy and old (but clean) botte. This one takes time to open up, but begins to show gentle wafts of flowers, tar, and ripe old plums. Somewhere deep inside one can sense a thousand other things, but never name them. Fleeting bits of leather and coffee and quinine and fruit. Great fun just to sit and sniff. The palate opens with a leesy edge that quickly fades, then moves on to classic tar and plums and maybe a suggestive hint of rose on the finish. Throughout is good deep plum and an everpresent meaty element. At times, there is also a whiff of VA that enhances or puts one off, depending on one’s disposition. To me, it gives that bit of lift that always brings a new element to the nose. Finish is soft and gentle and sweet with lingering traces of all that went before. 1988 Giuseppe E Figlio Mascarello Barolo Monprivato - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo Very young solid color. Initially a bit sweaty and butyric, but that blows off with time. A big acid and tannin spine that still has a long working out period to go. This needs several hours to begin to show well, but picks up a great light, bright character, featuring some plum but more bright cherry fruit and a game/tar/leather complexity. Time also brings out a dark flower and tea nose. Finish is dense and challenging but promises a lot. It really was a crime to open this. I liked more than others, but I think at maturity it will be a star. 1989 Valentino Rocche dei Manzoni Barolo Riserva - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo Deep and dark color, with a bit of cloudiness. Nose of a bit of soy, plum, very bright flower, bright cherry growing as it sits. Palate shows a cloak of size and tannin, but behind is a plush roundness that just asks for much, much more time. One can sense the smoothing and sculpting underneath the structure and perhaps a bit of polish and sweetness, but the flavors are all Barolo. Finish is intense and expressive with more flowers and the earthy tar I missed on the nose. Still needs time. What, drink these now?!?! (Or, the slow training of the looking glass elements of my palate) 2003 Château Latour - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac Dark, dark, dark. Dense, dense, dense. The nose shows vanilla sweetness, bright black berry fruit, some of the classic cigar and pencil, but I’m having to close my eyes and imagine a bit as well. Palate is huge and pretty damn rough, but also has great depths of fruit and chocolate. I’m just not good enough to taste Bordeaux this young and comment on much more than depth and balance. By the way, it has both. Quite a feat when a wine this young and brawny can already make its balance known. 2003 Château Montrose - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe A bit more gentle than the Latour, but equally dark and also mighty damn dense. Perhaps a bit of herbal character and clay to go with the deep dense black fruit, licorice, and structure. Good intensity, very rich mouthfeel, and seems in balance, but – as I said above – Bordeaux this young is wasted on me. There was also an old Rayas, which I much enjoyed. But a deadly combination -- cold, cold medicine, overwork, a lack of sleep, and an excessively demonstrated affection for the Barolo -- had bent me out of note taking shape by then. My apologies to Steve for not taking notes on what was a generous and enjoyable contribution. Posted from CellarTracker
  22. COMPANY DINNER IN HK - A "Mandarin" Restaurant in HK (4/25/2006) When we went to dinner, I was handed the list. Always a challenge in a Chinese restaurant and this was no exception. There's no perfect match and the list was pretty thin, but these did okay and were quite reasonably priced. No need to break the bank when there's no really good match on the list. 2004 Leonildo Pieropan Soave Classico Superiore - Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico Bright and light yellow with lemon and grass hints. Fresh and clean nose of white fruit, a wee bit of lemon, a fresh whiff of sweet grass, and some flowers. Palate entry is as bright and light as the color, with a saline mineral spine, fresh cut herb, bright apple, and a beautifully refreshing finish. Not big, not bold in any blockbuster sense. Just solid, clean, and refreshing. As good a counterpoint as could be found to the lighter dishes. 2003 Château Fortia Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deep, but clean and transparent red. Much lighter than the other '03 CdP's I've tried so far. Nose has a whiff of tar, followed by ripe red fruits (cherry, berry) and some piney herbs. Palate is richer than many Fortia of late, showing more of the red fruit and a bit of blacker berry, a hint of leather and some dust. Perhaps lacking a bit of concentration on the finish, this is much more in balance and much more drinkable now than most of its '03 cousins. Did the job, but not something to seek out. However, if ever there was a case where a wine was made for a vintage and a vintage for a wine, Fortia and '03 seem to be that case. The Fortia was a huge hit. One other person and I basically had the Soave to ourselves. Okay by me! Posted from CellarTracker
  23. TTG#7: HAMINA COMES TO TOWN (AND WE ALL DRINK GOOD WINE) - Keyaki Grill at Capital Tokyu; La Fève Wine Bar (Tokyo) (4/21/2006) Apologies for my long absence (or for my return, depending on your perspective). This is the first set of a big batch of long overdue notes. I've managed to lose many of my various scraps of paper over the summer, but there are enough left for me to begin to burden all of you again. I've hardly even looked in all summer. It's nice to return. Todd Hamina was coming to town to show his wines commercially and he was kind enough to reach out for a tasting night. A bunch of us gathered and brought along our normal semi-random batch of wines. Bubbles to Start (as always!) 1996 Egly-Ouriet Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne Deepish color with a fine mousse of less than expected volume. Nose first shows rich and deep white plum and apple with a serious dose of the sweet (almost cloying) autolyzed character that shows up in so many younger large-scaled pinot-driven Champagnes. Finally, a little bit of light honey comes out on what is a big but pretty closed nose. Palate tells a similar story with big pinot body and hints of cherry fruit. A bit of toasted nut comes out on the sweetish finish. Give it time! Alsatian? 2005 Maysara Winery Pinot Gris - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley Bottled 3/10/06. Straw yellow and clear. Comes out perfumey, floral and a bit high-toned. Is there sassafrass there? With time, there is a bit of granite stoniness on the nose and some aromatic lemon zest as well. On the palate, nice acid and sweetish tropical fruit. Needs to settle, but has good stuffing and tightens up (in a good way) with time. On the finish the wine has a big nasal impact. It’s not VA, but the aromas strike me as “volatile”. Needs fairly big food and puts me in mind of ZH style. 2000 Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain - France, Alsace, Thann, Alsace Grand Cru AOC Deep gold upon pouring makes one worry a bit. Initially pretty petrolly, then a mix of sweet lime over brown apple. Palate features big doses of mineral and petrol along with very ripe peach and brown apple. Early oxidative notes fade and wine freshens up into a nice minerally finish, though it still lacks a bit of acid. Lingering nasal component to finish of woody apple. Overall rich character, not quite VT but close like many ZH wines. This wine was clearly not at its best, but interesting nonetheless. The Main Event: Pinot! 2004 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Jamsheed - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, McMinnville Medium deep color and very clear. Nose screams with cola and cinnamon and a little cherry fruit. In a lot of ways, initial nose reminds me of modern Barolo. On the palate, there is some oak sweetness, good acid, and tiny bits of already supple tannin toward the front of the mouth. Juicy cherry dominates mid-palate, now seeming a bit like lightly oak-aged sangiovese. Finish is a little sweet. Still very young. Clearly well made and probably typical of its origin (a good thing), but the modern Barolo notes do bother me. 2002 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Estate - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley Very slightly deeper in color than the Jamsheed. A wee bit of barnyard on the nose along with initially bright red fruit. Appealing. Palate has some oak but more acid and a nice spiciness (not wood spice, but fruit spice). Has a sort of Vosne character to it, but with lighter fruit. Lacks a wee bit of concentration, but very pleasing nonetheless. Becomes a bit tired aromatically, though the spice holds up on the finish. I liked the profile a lot and would be raving if it were a bit more concentrated and persistent on the nose. However, I’ll definitely buy it if I ever see it, as I suspect it had suffered a bit from its travels. 2004 Maysara Winery Pinot Noir Estate Delara - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley Spicy cola and oak on nose, but best acid of the three on the palate. The cola and oak blows off quickly to reveal cherryish and berryish fruit on the nose. Palate is straight down the middle with similar flavors and is still extremely primary. A bit of sweetish oak residue on the finish. Though clearly of the new world (but hey, that's where the fruit is from!), I like all of the Maysara wines and I’d enjoy trying this one with a little maturity on it. 2002 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir The Upper Terrace - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley Deepish color. Very closed on the nose. With time, shows plenty of oak and some plummy Brunello-like okay fruit. Palate is absolutely full on from beginning. There is a nice lingering sweetness to the appealing berry and ripe plum fruit. Alcohol shows up hard on the finish. A bit unfair to opine now as this needs time, but there is nothing shy or timid about this. Concentrated with nice berry fruit, but a bit much in terms of plum and oak and alcohol. Well made, but not why I drink pinot. 2000 Domaine Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin Lighter in color, but not at all weak or watery. Great elegance on the nose with very fresh cherry. Somehow meaty and thin on the palate at the same time. While it has that meaty-soy note that often comes with age but is already showing up in a fair number of ‘00 wines, it is lacking in concentration the way Ponsot sometimes can. Absolutely delicious but small. A reasonable effort for the vintage and not an off year in the way Ponsot can have, shows the laciness and cherry one hopes for but just needs a bit more oomph throughout. 1998 Claude Dugat Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St. Jacques 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin Clean clear color between the Ponsot and the Beaux Frères. Oak on the nose in the form of spice and cola. In fact, more spice than fruit on nose. With time, settles down enough to show some Gevrey strawberry on the nose. In time the oak components fade from the nose almost entirely. Palate is balanced and clean and earth and fruit driven and completely happy. Tannin is still evident, but not obtrusive at all. The only issue is some remaining oak that shows up only on the finish. I didn’t really want to like this, but I couldn’t help it. Nicely typical after the oak faded. And on to the Rhone (or at least its grapes) 1998 Rockford Shiraz Basket Press - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley Deepish purple color. Strong chocolate character from the first splash hitting the glass. Rich, round, and sweet. Complex and with just about perfect texture for a shiraz. Great berry-cherry fruit on the palate. Super persistence on the finish, even for a palate that is starting to tire. Same concentration as other Barossa shiraz, but not at all over-the-top. I’ve not traditionally been a Barossa shiraz fan but this is one I’d buy. Beats a lot of its much more expensive brethren hands down. 2003 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Has a hugely viscous appearance. Smaller and perhaps a bit simpler than the last time I had it (nine months or so before). I criticized it then for size and overripeness, but it still showed Châteauneuf character then. Again, despite the bit of brown sugar and some surprising green leafiness, this is still very much CdP, just at a high-decibel level. 2000 Domaine Pierre Usseglio Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Deux Freres - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Strong cheese and game on the nose. Don't know how much is in the cuvée, but Mourvèdre seems to be very much present on the nose and the palate. Great balance. Terrific black fruit depth on palate and in back of throat, but the real charm and character is on the nose. Big finish without ever tipping into heaviness or heat. This is what I like from the southern Rhone. With a brief (corked) detour to Spain 1995 Bodegas Vega-Sicilia Ribera del Duero Valbuena 5° - Spain, Castilla y León, Ribera del Duero Corked, damnit! Liked the palate that came through despite the TCA – lots of leather, cassis, cherry. Great structure and balance. Now I’ve got to go buy one so I can see what it should have been. NR (flawed) A rare treat stands alone 1967 Château d'Yquem - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes Deep, deep viscous old gold. Nose was slightly reticent but opened up nicely with air to show honey, pollen, botrytis, dried peaches and a shifting array of sweet citrus. On the palate, just an amazing degree of perfectly integrated acid that balanced the dried and candied fruit richness and the sweet botrytis syrup. Imagine putting a 10lb dumbbell inside a small helium balloon and then actually seeing it float up into the air. That’s how incongruous it was to feel the acid lift the sweetness up and make it dance. Needless to say, the finish was intense and long. A rare pleasure this was. Too much is not enough A number of us just couldn't do without a little more and headed to La Fève, a wine bar in teh Azabu (Mita?, what is the address) area. Always offers great food and an interesting list. 1988 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage Attractive rust color. Nose shows forest floor, a wee bit of game, dried cherry fruit and little leather. Palate is largely gentle and resolved with more cherry, some lean plum, and just a touch of spice. Finish is of decent length and reintroduces the leather and forest. Blind, a large group of us all guessed Burg. I attribute this partially to the fact that we’d been drinking a lot of pinot that night and partially to the way the nose played out. Told it was Rhone, I guessed Jaboulet Thalabert. Close, but no cigar. So much for my street cred as a Burg guy. Good wine, but I wouldn’t necessarily chase it hard. 1985 Château La Mission Haut-Brion - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan Still a fair bit of violet but moving well toward mature at the rim. Nose showed cassis and plum fruit, a small degree of gaminess and leather, the tiniest touch of green tobacco. On the palate, rich on entry with a clay-like texture and savour that (combined with a slightly drying character to the finish) led me to guess St. Estephe. With development in the glass (and the benefit of seeing the label), a great warm stony mineral character came out. Rich and full – and pretty fully developed – the main negative is that the finish remained a bit rough and drying. I liked this more than most of our crowd. The bottle may have been a bit too developed, given the finish, but I’d be very happy to drink it again. 1989 Château Trotanoy - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol Kudos to the owner of the wine bar, La Fève. I thought the first bottle was ever so slightly corked. One person agreed with me and several disagreed. Without prompting, the owner came from across the room (where she couldn’t have overheard our conversation) and commented that she thought it was a bit bouchonée and insisted that she replace the bottle. Second bottle was not flawed, but wasn’t great either. But that’s not her fault. In the manly vein of Pomerol, the nose showed plum and cassis fruit but without the sumptuousness for which I would hope. There was a bit of sun-dusty clay and some vanilla sweetness as well. Palate moderately full and showed more of the same fruit, but without the velvet that marks the best Pomerol. Decent but not exciting finish. Good wine, but a bit ho-hum for the price and the expectations. Really nice food. Great company. A new winery for which I'll look out. I really liked Todd's wines. He's only been there for a while and you can see the progress in the few wines we tasted. Great company, as always. Posted from CellarTracker
  24. jrufusj

    TN: Catching up Pt. 2

    Thanks Jim. That's high praise coming from you. I've still not run into the Anselmi or the Tamellini out here. You've recommended both in the past and I'm eager to give them a try. Guess I can't complain. I drink pretty well in Tokyo. And that's only a tiny bit of a very blessed existence. Enjoy, Jim
  25. CATHCING UP: TASTES FROM THE MERCHANT - Bottom of Ebisu Garden Place (4/13/2006-4/15/2006) A few recent lunchtime "Here, try this" tastes. 2003 Méo-Camuzet Frère et Sœurs Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne (4/13/2006) Do you care where wine comes from and what it is made from? If not, this wine is for you. Nice ripe “grapes and sun” fruit reminds one of grenache while a hint of pepper and meat makes one wonder how much syrah was blended in. Tasted blind, that’s what my response is. And, if you’re looking for a nice Côtes-du-Rhone, this will fit the bill. It even has enough tannic structure and heft to make it a wee bit “serious” as C-d-R go. Too bad it’s a Burg. Victim of the vintage, I suspect. Not for me. 2003 Emmanuel Giboulot Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bourgogne Blanc (4/15/2006) (Tasted in store, then more in a more leisurely way from a full bottle at home.) A lighter straw yellow than the Chatelaine, this looks younger and fresher. Nose shows ripe apple fruit with a nice undercurrent of citrus and just a hint of something tropical. The palate follows suit with surprisingly good acid and a lean definition that is quite pleasing. Not a lot of complexity or size, but a nicely defined effort for the vintage. My wife is sending me out for more. According to the merchant this is chardonnay blended with pinot gris and pinot blanc. The lighter gris/blanc in the mix definitely shows up in the form of a quenchable fresh element that was missing from the Chatelaine. 2003 Emmanuel Giboulot Le Grande Chatelaine - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune (4/14/2006) A bit of gold depth sneaking into the expected younger straw yellow and a surprising hint of viscosity as one swirls the wine around. Nose is sweet and opulent, but with ripe fruit sweetness, not oak sweetness. There’s also a bit of mineral to go with the tropical fruit. On the palate, more tropical fruit with pineapple and passion fruit. Again, there’s a bit of attractive mineral underneath, but it is all overwhelmed by the ripe, ripe opulence of the fruit. There’s just no acid or any angled edges to put the fruit in relief or bring any freshness. Another victim of the vintage, I suppose. Posted from CellarTracker
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