<Rain rain go away, come again ano…ah, bring me another glass>
Spring is here and the rain has been pouring down. Luckily that has not inhibited (more likely augmented) our wine consumption as we are sequestered to the inner belly of the Loke Yew building. We’re so happy some of you made it out through the storms to join us for our regular Wednesday and Saturday tastings. Merci!
Let’s begin with Cinco de Mayo. We popped the explosively delicious 2009 Tortochot Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru BH93/LM94. What structure and density of fruit- this was a first for us and surely a new favorite. We also tried a new Meursault from Paul Chapelle. 1985 and still going strong!
The following day we had a mind blowing, sock blowing, sold out Prieure Roch tasting. To date this is my favorite tasting we have done. We are now thoroughly a die hard Roch fan.
Full review here: http://blog.ginsbergchan.com/event/prieure-roch/
A couple of days later (yes, we know we have it tough here) Kavita Faiella joined us from Sydney to lead us in a tasting of some of her Aussie wines. Her Voyageur Selections featured the wines of Journey, Ocean Eight, Franklin Estate, & Rocky Gully, all wines that were new or fairly new to us and showed that elegance and restraint, but not too much restraint (“anorexic Chardonnay”) was possible in the land down under.
The Australia tasting was followed by a tasting of our newest arrival, 2014 Miraval. This is the wine from Brad, Angie, and the Perrin family and proved the perfect summer tipple. The round luscious texture of this wine sets it apart from other Provence roses.
That very same day we had some visitors from out of town who kindly shared some Burgundy classics: 2005 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epenoux monopole (concentrated, aromatic, awesome), 1998 Jean Boillot Volnay Les Caillerettes 1er Cru (absolutely brilliant!), & 1990 Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin Cazetieres (silky & perfect right now).
13 May SPIT, a monthly professional seminar as organized by Meiburg Wine Media. This month’s topic: To bunch or not to bunch with Gary Mills of Jamsheed in Australia. Through a super interesting and informative seminar we learned the pros and cons of whole brunch pressing (blog to follow) and tasted the difference through a series of Syrah/Shirazes from the Yarra Valley. Personally, I preferred the 50% whole cluster wine the best but like the idea of whole bunch pressing for its dependence on top quality clean fruit.
Later that evening we hosted out own tasting: A Whole (blind) Wide World of Pinot in which we served up 8 different Pinots in an effort to see which came out on top. On offer: Stoller, Aubert, Bernard Van Berg (overall winner), Kistler, Bass Phillip, Gantenbein, Marcassin, Vogue.
Full review can be found here: http://blog.ginsbergchan.com/event/blind-tasting-pinot-noir/
The following day we hosted a private Champagne event featuring some really, really superb bubbles. Favorites of the night include, 1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires– this will always be a favorite of mine! The first time I had a taste a couple of years back something clicked. This was the first time I “got” Champagne. And it’s total value! The 2004 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque was precise yet very tasty and is definitely one to watch in another 10+ years.
Friday the 15th we popped open a lively and aromatic 2007 Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 1er Cru. 2007 is known as a very acidic vintage, and though this did have big acidity, it worked with the depth and weight of the fruit.
People tend to visit on Fridays and this week saw some regulars from Taiwan who kindly shared a sip of the very pretty and elegant 2001 Comte Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milleu.
40 years on and 1975 makes a great birthday gift this year despite its less than spectacular reputation (it wasn’t a great year anywhere except for California). On the 19th Jay popped a bottle of the 1975 Chateau Beychevelle which showed us that there are great examples around. This is total value at ~$1k and did not exhibit the same dried out tannin that we have found from other ‘75 Bordeaux.
1975 is no way to end a Tuesday! Next up was a rich and complex 2008 Chateau de La Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru. Then we had a little side by side comparison of 2 very different 2012s: 2012 Chateau Lafite (my first! Restrained and elegant) versus 2012 Tim Mondavi Continuum (seductive and intense). It was interesting to go back and forth between the 2. Despite being much less bombastic than the Continuum, the Lafite held its own and showed what it really means to be a First Growth. Top quality juice, my friends.
We also discussed a concept that Jay had picked up from Allen Meadows on his visit: the triangle of what makes a wine- vintage, producer/winemaker, & terroir. In any given year one or another of these qualities takes precedent and it’s the combination and weight of each that really defines what’s so special & unique about a wine.
20 May: Wednesday Spanish wine tasting which featured: 1972 Marques di Riscal, 1973 La Rioja Alta Gran Resverva 904, 2004 LRAGR904, 2001 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva, 2010 Benjamin Romeo La Vina de Andreas Romeo, 2007 Flor de Pingus, and 2008 Rene Barbier Mogador.
On 21 May I attended a really interesting BIVB (http://www.bourgogne-wines.com/) seminar about the wines of Chassagne Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet, & St. Aubin. We tasted our way through a village and 1er cru from each and really got to taste the difference in richness and style.
On 28 May we held a private event with some super old Nebbiolo. Wow. 55 years were covered and boy did the 1952 Borgogno Barolo Riserva sing! All of the wines, in fact, were a great indication of how well Nebbiolo ages, and the 1983 Gaja showed us once again that wine is alive. It started off a bit shaky (read: muted and meh) when I opened in, but 4+ hours later and its true colors came out and it was absolutely rich and delicious.
Finally the month concluded with a fascinating look into California wines with Karen MacNeil (http://www.karenmacneil.com/). The California Wine Institute (https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaWinesHongKong?fref=ts) put on a tasting and master class, as led by Karen, that show cased wines from all over the state. If California were a country it would be the #4 wine producing country in the world (behind Italy, France, and Spain). We tasted 12 wines; 3 Chards, 3 Pinots, 3 Zinfandels, and 3 Cabernet Sauvignons. All of which were clear indications of their region through either density of fruit, vibrancy of acidity, or style as evidenced through oak and maturation choices. A great look into the different styles coming out of Cali today.
TASTED THIS MONTH
2009 Tortochot Mazis Chambertin Grand Cru BH93/LM94 Aromatic! Big and beautiful aromas flush with dried red currant, strawberry and plums, raspberry black tea, dried & pressed violets, mineral, and wild earthiness. The palate has equally explosive flavors of raspberry, black tea, and an intense floral finish. The tannins are fine and chalky and the acidity bright and fresh. This is stunning to drink now and will continue to improve for many years to come. A stunner.
1985 Paul Chapelle Meursault LM91 Classic Meursault nose of smoke, cream, oh the cream, dried apricots, honey, and hints of savoury pollen. The palate has intensely refreshing acidity and lighter body than expected from the palate. Green apple attack with cream on the back palate, at 30 years young this is still going.
Prieure Roch Tasting
2012 Prieure Roch Ladoix Le Clou Blanc ($480) LM93+ When first poured the nose was dominated by cider and apple core notes, but as it opened it revealed apricot jam, rich honey, and sweet ripe yellow apples and was more reminiscent of the Rhone than Burgundy. The intensity of fruit on the nose was just as intense on the palate with clean and fresh acidity, warm yet balanced alcohol (12.5%!) and a great bitter lemonade finish.
2011 Prieure Roch Ladoix Le Clou ($410) LM95 I challenge anyone to find a wine as intense and bright for this price. Cannot! Concentrated with brilliant intensity (you’re going to hear a lot of this word) and bright red flavors of currant, hints of black pepper, cream, and violets. Well integrated but very present tannins and a long finish. Jay said it best, “it punches above its weight.”
2010 Prieure Roch Vosne Romanee Les Hauts Maizieres ($1,900) LM98 Darker in color than the Le Clou, Les Haut Maizieres was full of chocolate, crushed black flowers, mushroom and sous bois aromas. It was like a big blanket of comfort to smell with is deep, rich aromas, and, if I could, I would have worn this like a sweater. The palate was similarly snug with dried plums, sweet forest fruit, chocolate, tea flavors. Big big acidity with a rich and complete mouth feel, and never ending finish. If you couldn’t tell, this was my WON (& WOY(ear)).
2010 Prieure Roch Nuits St Georges Clos des Corvees 1er Cru ($2,550) LM95+ Bright in color and aroma. Hugely perfumed & exploding with elegant berries, forest, and pressed flowers. Vibrant acidity with great length, warm & pleasing alcohol (12.5% for all of these- unheard of!), and a really unique and inviting texture filled with fine yet mildly grippy tannins. Intense pure berries, currants, plums, and tea with nice creaminess on the back palate. This wine is prime for enjoyment right now, proving more so than the 2005, and was indeed many tasters wine of the night.
2005 Prieure Roch Nuits St Georges Clos des Corvees 1er Cru ($2,640)LM93+ The first wine with some sediment present (it’s alive!). Brighter, sweeter, redder nose than the 2010 with some notes of caramel, burnt sugar, and wood. Quite tight and closed on the palate with darker flavors than the nose, this was quite a bit more aggressive than the 2010 and will most definitely benefit from more time in the cellar. Superb structure, so we’ll have to check back in a couple of years.
2010 Prieure Roch Nuits St Georges Clos des Argillieres 1er Cru ($1,980) LM95+ Bright! Super intense! Animal, sweet plum, cream, milk chocolate, dried strawberries, and horse saddle. Similar on the palate with some tea notes, brilliant acidity, and pronounced tannins. This had incredible structure, yet was still accessible, and will absolutely continue to improve. This is a great success and will continue to wow for many years to come (if there is any left).
2004 Prieure Roch Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru LM94 A 2004 for sure, this Grand Cru provided a great glimpse into the vintage. Smoke and mushroom on the nose with deep and intense herbs, sage specifically, and savour. The palate is also marked by savoury with tinned tomato notes and a hugely incredible length. Super super long. LM94
2014 Miraval Rose de Provence CT89/LM90 ($180!) Pretty pale pink with fresh aromas of flowers, strawberry, cotton candy, & mineral & saline hints. The palate is marked by its round sensuous texture, soft flavors, and bright acidity. Totally smashable and perfect for boats, beaches, & BBQs.
2005 Comte Armand Pommard Clos de Epenoux BH94/LM94 Concentrated and aromatic. Savoury with a lovely musky nose, rich and creamy palate, and great structure. Big tannins with dark berry flavors, and a long finish. This is awesome.
1998 Jean Boillot Volnay Les Caillerettes 1er Cru ST93/LM95 Wow. Smoke and chocolate aromas with an absolutely velvety texture, luscious tannins, deep oak and berry flavors, and a round berry cream finish. Drinking absolutely brilliantly right now!
1990 Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin Cazetieres WA90/LM90 Sous bois, aged, awesome. Silky tannins, minerality, and a long woody finish. Drink now.
2002 Stoller Pinot Noir Estate Grown, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA. WA91/LM90 Aromatic and full of red fruit, vanilla, and funky farm-y notes. Similar flavor profile with big acidity and pleasingly integrated tannins. This will not continue from further aging but is totally enjoyable right now. Great given it’s price ($550).
2006 Aubert UV Pinot Noir, North Coast, California, USA. WA92+ ($1,050) LM93 Pretty floral aromas with nice woody notes and hints of smoke. Great concentration of flavors (berry, cranberry, tea) and sublime oak integration, this is prime for drinking right now. A great New World example.
2010 Bernard Van Berg En Busigny Rouge, Meursault, Burgundy. ($1,030) LM96+ The crowd favorite and surprise of the night! We have loved Bernard Van Berg’s wines since we discovered them several years back and were happy to show off this totally under the radar producer. Huge concentration and gorgeous dark berry and pressed violet aromas and flavors, well integrated and forward tannins, with bright acidity and a long finish. A totally complete wine.
2010 Kistler Cuvee Catherine Pinot Noir, North Coast, California, USA. WA94 ($1,200) LM93 Bright and full of red currants, berries, vanilla, and caramel aromas. Great density of flavor and a silky texture. A great showing from an iconic California producer with the promise to age for years to come.
2003 Gantenbein Pinot Noir, Switzerland. ($1,450) LM89 Smoky caramelized bacon. Smoky and salty palate. This was the most unique and polarizing of our Pinots showing that Switzerland is capable of rich, densely concentrated, and serious Pinot Noir. Drink now as this is in its decline.
2005 Bass Phillip Premium, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia LM97 Funky! This very a-typical example was cloudy and full of milk chocolate, dried prunes, cider, olive, and lactic aromas. The palate was quite sour and almost like a lambic beer- very strange, very nature, and very funky.
2010 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, California, USA. WA98 ($2,650) LM96 Many of our taster’s wine of the night, this was drinking great! Raspberry smoked iced tea aromas melded with smoked meat and blueberry for a really unique and perfumed nose. The palate was totally in balance with dried blueberry flavors, super luscious texture, and an incredibly long finish. Really enjoyable now and has the structure to keep improving for years.
2009 Vogue Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru, Burgundy, France. BH93 ($1,780) LM90+ Pretty and perfumed with sweet currant and plum aromas. The palate was marked by big acidity, alcohol, and tannin, a balance that sure will continue to age! Earthy with great dried herb flavors on top of the red fruit profile, a great expression from young Chambolle Musigny vines. LM90+
2007 Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 1er Cru BH92/LM91 Lively aromatics of cream, honey, honeysuckle, dried lemon peel, orange blossom, hay, and pollen. Brilliantly high acidity with an oaky and slightly bitter finish. Lean, austere, with flecks of minerality, this is an ideal dining companion. A great showing for a high acidity vintage.
2001 Comte Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milleu BH89/LM90 Pretty aromatics of dried flowers and red fruits with spice. Fine grained tannins, this elegant wine is prime for enjoyment now.
1975 Chateau Beychevelle CT89/LM92 Brick red with some sediment. Superb nose of sweet leather, medicinal Chinese plum, and hints of animal. The palate was marked by super smooth tannins (not common for a 1975!), big acidity, and a slightly bitter finish. The flavors were dominated by tertiary, as expected, such as ginsing, sous bois, and leather. A great example of 1975 and total value!
2008 Chateau de La Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru BH93/LM92 Absolutely intoxicating aromas of butter and fresh cream, citrus, yeast & spice (think aged Champagne), roasted nuts, and a hint of smoke. Nice balance of big acidity and density of fruit; marmalade, peach, apricot. Full of flavor but not heavy with a great finish. Perfect right now.
2012 Chateau Lafite WA91/LM92+ (My first Lafite, my first Lafite!) Classic (according to Jay) Lafite nose of violets, graphite, vanilla and a touch of creamy berries. The palate was marked by its pristine balance and seeming effortlessness. Subtle smoky flavors with fine grained and well integrated tannins, this is a Lafite that you can drink now! Regal, velvety, charming.
2012 Tim Mondavi Continuum ST93-96/LM92 Napa nose! Vanilla, dark fruits, rich with a touch of a chlorine liftedness. Seductive and luscious with grippy backward tannins, bit fruit and vanilla flavors, and a density oh so New World. This is a stunning example of California Cab with a really interesting smoked popcorn, dried violets and cream, finish.
1972 Marques De Riscal ($350)– producer in Rioja since 1858! LM85 Teetering on tawny, this is clearly a wine with some considerable age. Layered nose of mushroom marsala sauce, dusty dried mushroom, soy, & balsamic with a matching flavor profile. All tertiary and just barely hanging on.
1973 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 LM91+ Only one year apart but what a world of difference! The nose exhibited tertiary character through nutty & yeasty aromas, but also had a lot of flowers, raspberry tea, and spice. Super soft on the palate with an acid & rose petal laden finish. Well done for 42 years old!
2001 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Bodegas WA95 (Rioja) LM93 Maraschino cherries, pressed flowers, sweet yeast, and dark fresh fruit. The palate was lifted, pungent, and alive with chocolate and dried fruit flavors. Long with great intensity and grippy backward tannins, and a great finish. Very traditional and Old World in style (large oak, not overly extracted fruit) this clearly has the guts to keep aging. This was our crowd favorite of the old school style and a sheer pleasure to drink.
2004 La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva WA96/LM92 Chocolate covered pretzels (“how American” commented one taster), red fruit and berries, and dried violet aromas. This was super soft with fine grained tannins and so intriguing with its creamy pepper flecked flavors. This is in its sweet spot and is drinking absolutely spot on right now! We love old school Rioja.
2007 Flor de Pingus Dominio de Pingus ST92 (Ribera Del Duero) LM93 Oh so elegant and many’s WOTN. Deep dark fruit, sun dried tomato, dried sage, and a hint of animal. Balanced with chocolate and dried fruit flavors, rich creamy body, lifted acidity, huge alcohol (15%!), with grippy backward tannins. A lovely effort that suggests we should be drinking more from the Ribera Del Duero. Well done.
2010 Benjamin Romeo La Vina de Andres Romeo ST95 (Rioja) LM94 Perhaps my favorite of the evening for its insane structure- what a striking contrast to all of the previous Riojas. Sweet stewed blueberries, Christmas cake spice, sage, tea, and hints of animal on the nose. Full bodied with chalky pleasing tannins, fresh acidity, and powerful New World-esq flavors. Big fruit. Bit vanilla. Big spice. Perfect balance and a surprise to learn that this too is 15%!
2008 Rene Barbier Clos Mogador WA93 (Priorat) LM92+ Another massive wine showcasing modern Spain. Densely concentrated and deep aromatics of black and red fruit, floral, stewed plums, & spicy popcorn-y oak aromas. So velvety and soft on the palate with luscious red fruit and warm alcohol (only 14.5% here), this wine is totally pleasing and was several of our tasters WOTN.
1952 Borgogno Barolo Riserva LM 95 Still going strong at 63! This showed better than the 1971 with its caramel and sweet fruits nose, mushroom and ashy finish. This was many of our tasters favorite wine of the night and surely proves the durability of a great Barolo!
1967 Scarpa Barbaresco Riserva Speciale LM 89 Perhaps a little less successful, this Barbaresco was quite woody and harsh on the palate. There were interesting aromas of mushroom and earth, and it was by no means gone. 5 or so years past its best but not dead.
1971 Borgogno Barolo Riserva LM90+ Still going! Berry hints with leather & mushroom. When first opened the sweet fruit jumped on your palate, but after several hours it began to fade. Mushroom with some dustiness, intense with bright acidity and a tomatoey tinny end.
1983 Gaja Barbaresco LM95 Proof that wine is alive. When first opened I was worried that this was way past gone. When we served it 3+ hours later it had improved and by glass two it was possibly my wine of the night. Caramel aromas and near honey like flavors this has great acidity and vibrancy.
1999 La Spinetta Barbaresco Vursu Vigneto Starderi ST93/LM95 Wine of the night! Deep crimson color with rich chocolate, dried fruit, & pressed violets aromas and flavors. After 3 hours of decanting this was perfect. Fresh minerality with chewy tannins, fresh acidity, and lingering floral notes mean this is great now and will continue to improve. A wonderful example of the age worthiness of mordern Barbaresco.
2007 Cascina Ghercina Barbaresco Riserva DOCG LM93 In its perfect window- this was many of our lady tasters favorite bottle for its softness and approachability. Classic aromas of tar and roses with big acidity, tea, drying woody tannins, and a caramel popcorn finish. Simply lovely.