MS White Burgundy 2012 Tasting


white burgundy 2

Some of the finest expressions of wine made from the Chardonnay grape emerge from the region of Burgundy in France. Once tried, they are wines that are hard to forget, if you are the type who refutes the idea of “A B C“, and fully embraces what I believe is the Queen of Wines.

When joining a fine wine society that maintains a cellar, you do it expecting to encounter the finest of the world’s wines from time to time. This was one of those occasions.

RE produced a wonderful set of notes to accompany this tasting:

Last year we tasted six White Burgundies from the 2011 vintage. It’s probably fair to say not all of these were to everyone’s taste – some tasters clearly had issues with reduction and acid, from a lean vintage that seems prone to those criticisms. Of course, others feel the 2011s are lovely, and anything with a pH greater than 3.2 is pretty flabby anyway…

The 2012s we are about to taste should be quite different. I expect them to show good ripeness, and more even acid. Of course, reduction is always part of White Burgundy and those sensitive to Sulphur compounds will no doubt find at least one of the wines “challenging”. It certainly promises to be interesting, yet again.

The region and vineyards

Burgundy sits pretty much a little to the East of central France. It’s quite a large geographic area, with Chablis sort of halfway between the Cote d’Or and Paris. One of our wines is from Chablis and we shall be unsurprised if it tastes a bit different from the others. The next “outlier” will be the Corton Charlemagne, being in the Cote de Beaune but 20 odd minutes by car from Puligny, the Southernmost of the villages we are tasting from. For me, the real magic of the region is right there – Puligny and its neighbours Meursault and Chassagne, where the world’s greatest Chardonnays are made. It’s fascinating how wines grown in such close proximity display quite distinct characteristics.

Pucelles is just north of the Grand Cru vineyards Batard Montrachet and Bienvenue Batard Montrachet. It’s generally considered one of the “best” 1er Crus, but then so are several other ones. Pucelles sits at the bottom of the Cote d’Or slope, where the incline is less pronounced than higher up the hill. Henri Boillot owns 57 ares of vines that are around 50 years old.

Champ Canet is on the northern border of Puligny, next to Meursault. It’s located mid-slope and just above Combettes and on the same sort of line as Perrieres. Geographically, one of the best sites, and Sauzet has some of the oldest vines here (going back to 1939 plantings).

Genevrieres in Meursault is right in the heart of the 1ers there, south of the village. The name of this appellation comes from the juniper trees that used to grow there a long time ago. It is sometimes said that the taste of the flowers of this tree used to be felt in the wine. It is also said, just sometimes, that this is complete nonsense. Latour-Giraud is definitely a strong performer in the village and with Genevrieres in particular. The Domaine’s own website description is too good to pass up:

“The history of Field LATOUR-GIRAUD extends over three centuries and goes up at the end of XVII. The known ancestor oldest is Jean Latour-Boillot born about 1680. At that time the vine was already the principal wages. The presence of the Latour family on the vineyard appears during the French revolution by the person of Jean Latour-Mouquin, born in 1748 and grandson of Jean Latour-Boillot”

Charmes is also in the south of Meursault, right next to Combettes and Referts in Puligny. Charmes is located on a gentle slope at the bottom of the Cote d’Or escarpment, and is not as steep as some of the vineyards on the hill above (e.g. Perrieres). Roulot is one of the “superstar” producers nowadays and wine-searcher provides you with plenty of opportunity to spend over $700 on this wine.

Corton Charlemagne, further north, is on the hill of Corton, a large outcrop of limestone set slightly apart from the main Côte d’Or escarpment. Emperor Charlemagne is said to have ordered the planting of the first white grape varieties on the Corton hillside. The red wines he loved so much stained his long white beard, and one of his several wives is said to have pressured him into drinking white wines instead… Whether true or not, we all appreciate having white Corton Charlemagne. The Henri Boillot wine is from their Maison business.

Preuses in Chablis lies at the northern end of the Grand Cru slope, where Kimmeridgian soils and a sunny aspect make for an excellent terroir. It crowns, or is sandwiched between, Bougros and Vaudesir. It’s actually yet another vineyard that – in a fit of originality – is pretty much called “Perrieres” (old French term for quarry) because apparently Preuses is simply what the original “Pierreuse” corrupted to in this instance. I couldn’t easily find how many vines and how old they are in this instance, but Billaud Simon has been around for 200 years odd.

How was 2012 as a vintage?

2012 was another miserable vintage, with quantities low due to hail damage. A cold wet winter and Wellington-esque weather across April to June. Yet again saved by much better conditions thereafter, except the storms and hail of course. While “professional” opinions were or are somewhat split, my view is that the wines are rather lovely. Good ripe fruit and enough structure to keep things interesting. Of course, as is always the case with Burgundy, producer matters an awful lot, and we are fortunate to be tasting wines from some of the best.

Decanter is probably low-balling in its assessment – 3½ / 5 for Cote d’Or Whites and a more generous 4 / 5 for Chablis: “Drink soon. Hailstorms slashed quantities on the Côte de Beaune, and Chardonnay was badly affected. Yet after a turbulent summer, the grapes were picked in healthy condition, although quantities were, in some places, risible. But there is no stylistic signature to the vintage, and there are skinny whites and fat ones, making generalisations all but impossible.”

Vinous (Tanzer) goes into good detail with a dollar each way and avoiding generalisations while making generalisations: “In fact, 2012 has turned out to be a very good vintage for the white wines of the Cote de Beaune, yielding many flamboyantly rich, concentrated, sexy examples (I will taste the reds in depth later this fall). It’s also an uneven vintage because, as is often the case, weather conditions on the Cote de Beaune were even more extreme than those on the Cote de Nuits. So although there will be many outstanding wines in 2012, buying the vintage will require selectivity. And prices will be high, owing to the very short crop.

… My early look at hundreds of wines suggests that the 2012s are generally very rich, generous, full-bodied wines with a lot of dry extract, very much reflective of tiny yields and small grapes. While some growers consider their 2012s to be classic white Burgundies, others find the wines to be over-concentrated. As I have written in these pages through the years, some of Burgundy’s most intelligent white wine producers are convinced that chardonnays made from tiny yields will never be the most elegant style: they will always have some sort of imbalance reflecting the extremes of their growing season.

Indeed, I found a number of 2012s to be too powerful to be considered classic, often with a tendency toward heaviness. These wines are robust but not austere; with their major levels of baby fat, they still need to be refined during their last months in barrel or tank, and may well benefit from a fining before bottling. Some growers believe that the wines have good inherent minerality but that it’s currently blocked by the wines’ fat. They expect their wines to gain tension in the months leading up to the bottling.

Many 2012 white Burgundies are thick and rich in the way of some of the expensive boutique chardonnays from California. Finally, a white Burgundy vintage that will not be steamrolled by California wines in early blind tastings.

Happily, relative few wines show obvious signs of surmaturite, so the aromas of these wines can be quite fresh and complex. If anything the 2012s are weightier–more outsized–than the 2010s, but they rarely have the tactile, dusty minerality, the density of texture, or the bracing acidity and inner-mouth tension of the earlier vintage, which is looking more and more like a once-or-twice-a-generation vintage. But where the 2012s do have enough acidity, definition and grip, they are extremely impressive and should age very well. The combination of sheer richness of fruit and lively, harmonious acidity makes the best 2012s exceptional. These latter wines will probably outperform their older 2010 siblings for at least the next several years.”

Jancis Robinson appears positive on the vintage, saying: “Generalisations about burgundy are particularly dangerous but I’m prepared to go out on a limb and say that, while there are examples that are too soft, I found some of the whites extremely high in acidity and feel that the best may need a few years in bottle to round out while others may always be a bit skinny.”

My personal view is that the 2012s are yet another fine White Burgundy vintage. Since 1999, there have really only been a couple of weak vintages: 2003 and 2006, with many wines from the latter coming right. Modern approaches and technology have helped significantly – it’s quite possible that 20 years ago the weather conditions we saw in 2012 would have meant a flat out disaster.

What about premox?

Premature oxidation continues to be an issue for White Burgundies. At least, more producers now acknowledge the issue openly and are trying different things – e.g. closures. No doubt some of the wines tonight will show Sulphur compounds and it’s a shame we don’t have copper currency any more.

In Issue 73 of “A View from the Cellar”, John Gilman laments the issue at length, and says he has already seen “a fair bit of premox in 2012s”. His gut-feel is that it’s probably global warming and the horse has bolted – i.e. no matter what steps producers try to put in place, the good old days of White Burgundies peaking at 20 years old are gone. Of course, he then goes into contortions about why the drinking windows he provides in his tasting notes are framed as if premature oxidation didn’t exist.

So in essence, we don’t really know anything more about it than we did last year.

White Bugundy 2007 1

The wines we’re tasting tonight:

I have provided tasting notes and scores from a couple of critics for each of the wines tonight.

2012 Latour Giraud Meursault Genevrieres

“Bright, light yellow. Aromas of yellow peach, orange peel, acacia blossom and spices convey an impression of punch. Then dense and creamy but firm in the mouth, with ripe acidity and dusty extract leavening the wine’s ripeness and extending the ripe, sweet, refined finish. Very fresh and complete Genevrieres, and more complex than the Charmes.” (93, Stephen Tanzer)

“(from 40+ year old vines from a huge 2.5 ha parcel in Genevrières Dessus). Here too the nose is markedly reduced and tough to tease out the fruit composition though again it does seem ripe. The solidly dense middle weight flavours possess excellent intensity and plenty of minerality while retaining a lovely sense of refinement allied with a sophisticated mouth feel, all wrapped in a cool, linear and well-balanced finale. This restrained effort is an exercise in harmony and this too should amply reward 6 to 8 years of bottle age. Recommended. (90-93)/2019+. A Sweet Spot Wine!” (90-93 Burghound)

 

2012 Roulot Meursault Charmes

“From vines planted way back in 1942, the 2012 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes has a very harmonious, intense bouquet with citrus lemon, fennel, mint and orange zest that are all beautifully defined. The palate is vibrant and tense on the entry, a shard of orange peel that is really penetrating from start to finish. Extremely focused but quite flamboyant, this has everything you could ask for in a Meursault Charmes. This is simply fabulous even if it now does come with a hefty price tag. Drink 2016-2030” (95, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate)

“This isn’t quite as elegant but it is even more complex with its expressive nose of really lovely purity that features cool floral, pear and green apple aromas trimmed in just enough wood to notice. The super intense and restrained beautifully precise middle weight flavours brim with an underlying minerality that adds lift to the seductively textured finale that displays outstanding persistence. Despite all of the refinement this remains a powerful and concentrated wine that possesses almost painful intensity and this should age effortlessly for years to come.” (92-94, Burghound)

 

2012 Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet Pucelles

“White orchard fruit and the hallmark honeysuckle scents give way to punchy and impressively concentrated medium-bodied flavors that possess a highly refined mouth feel if not the sheer depth of the Clos de la Mouchère. To be sure this is a lovely wine that could aptly be described as notably bigger and more powerful than is typical for Pucelles. Tasted: Jun 15, 2014. Drink: 2018+” (91, Burghound)

“Green-tinged medium yellow. Ripe stone fruits, pear, honey and hazelnut on the inviting nose and palate. Fat, rich and chewy; this extract-rich wine boasts terrific solidity and depth of fruit. Finishes with outstanding force and length. Has the palate presence of a grand cru. (Incidentally, there’s no Folatieres in 2012; Boillot only made his domain bottlings from Puligny-Montrachet.)” (92, Stephen Tanzer)

2012 Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Champ Canet

“A sexy note of reduction to the peach, hazelnut and nutmeg aromas. Rich, dense and deep, showing youthfully subdued white peach and mineral flavors. Finishes very long, very dry and broad, in need of time in bottle to reveal more personality. From a crop level of just 21 hectoliters per hectare due to hail, according to Boudot, who noted that he declassified his tiny, hailed-on Hameau de Blagny production into his Puligny villages in 2012.” (92+, Stephen Tanzer)

“**Note: from a full 1 ha parcel of 40+ year old vines though some of them were planted in 1938 at the same time as the Bienvenues; aged in approximately 1/3 new oak with a slightly longer élevage than the prior wines**

Here the beautifully layered nose is openly exotic with spicy aromas of mango, apricot, peach and mandarin orange. The medium weight plus flavors are more concentrated still with a sleek muscularity that contributes to the unctuous but not heavy mouth feel, all wrapped in an extract-rich, suave and beautifully balanced finish. While not nearly as mineral-inflected as the prior two wines there is simply more underlying material and ultimately this should be the better wine and certainly its track record would lend credence to that prediction.” (92, Burghound)

2012 Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne

“*Don’t miss!* This is aromatically restrained to the point of being almost mute and only grudgingly displays notes of citrus peel, green apple, white flowers and wet stone. There is excellent verve and intensity to the detailed and mineral-inflected broad-shouldered flavors that culminate in a focused, complex and powerfully long finish that is markedly austere and saline. This superbly long effort will need plenty of time to unwind as it’s presently very, very tight but it should handsomely repay extended cellaring.” (94, Burghound)

“Pure aromas of lime, linden blossom, crushed stone and spearmint. Plush and fine-grained but also quite penetrating, offering lovely lift to the concentrated lemon, lime and stone flavors. Very young but already quite suave, this round, rich wine finishes very long, with a youthful metallic minerality. Boillot told me that this was his only Chardonnay parcel untouched by hail in 2012–and the only one affected by hail in 2013.” (94, Stephen Tanzer)

2012 Billaud Simon Chablis Preuses

“This is restrained to the point that aggressive swirling is required to coax even a glimpse of the otherwise very fresh aromas of floral, iodine, tidal pool and soft pear scents. There is superb intensity to the subtly layered medium weight flavors that exhibit an undercurrent of minerality before culminating in a dry and mouth coating but not really austere finish that goes on and on…” (93, Burghound)

“The 2012 Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses does not quite have the penetration or delineation of the Vaudesir on the nose and I would have preferred more spiciness to come through. The palate is clean and precise on the citric entry, laced with orange peel and saline notes, although again, it needs to develop more personality and spiciness on the conservative finish. Drink 2016-2025.” (89, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate)”

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And so we came, and poured, and here are my thoughts on the wines:

2012 Latour Giraud Meursault Genevrieres – Brilliant pale gold. This had me at hello. Upfront bold and rich hit. Sulphur/reduction, golden stonefruit, peach and mandarin aromas. Essence of Meursault. Sweet attack in mouth. Bold rich body of fruit, with freshness and balanced acid. A “joined-up”wine.  Apple-pip finish. Shows maturity. Gold. My third wine.

2012 Roulot Meursault Charmes – Brilliant pale gold. Wow. Fine and floral, lovely and elegant. Shows such good aromatic intensity. A hint of reduction (I like). Gorgeous fruit weight flavour and silky mouthfeel. Balanced with glorious ripeness and acid. Harmoniou s and long. Gold. My Wine of the Night (WOTN)

2012 Henri Boillot Puligny Montrachet Pucelles – Brilliant gold. Rich and golden, with gorgeous golden fruit aromas, and spice and oak, warmth, sweetness, and slightly reductive. Crisp ripe fruit on palate, balanced, effortless. It had rewarding body, crunchiness, oily-ness, balanced in weight and acid, but showed a thrillingly lively citrus character. Nutmeg. Power and reticence for some, overthinking it. Gold. My second wine.

2012 Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Champ Canet – Brilliant pale gold. Fine, bold, flinty – Seashells? Slight unripe peach character. Complex and layered (I can’t write that without thinking of Shrek and his “layers” J) melon, sweetness, lanolin. Light golden peach flavours, slightly unripe compared to others in this flight. Shows some honey, and gorgous weight with food. Who knows huh? Apple pip on the back, again. A ‘struck match’ character for some. Tension and power without artifice   Gold.

2012 Henri Boillot Corton Charlemagne– Brilliant pale gold.  Fresh crisp aromas, dewy apple, spicy and oaky, deepens on standing. Solid. To taste: fresh, with body. Sweetness and apples. Crunchy mouthfeel. Oaky and hot on the back palate. Simple?  But not.  Silver.

2012 Billaud Simon Chablis Preuses – Brilliant light pale gold. Refined and elegant white peach florals with a hint of honey on the nose. Lively attack, clean entry, crisp green flavours of apple, restrained, somewhat short, dry.  Delicious.  A nice wine. Gold

It was remarkable how the aromas differed across the flight, exhibiting true variations in winemaking approach, terroir and grape clonal variety. Bottle 2c showed Pre-Mox (lean fruit, dying, faulty) which we all sampled to fix in our sense memory what this condition shows as.

The tasting result reminded me of that old football gag, “Football is a simple game played for 90 minutes[ ] , and at the end, Germany wins”.

In this case, for Chardonnay, for me, Meursault wins again!

Thanks to MS and ER for the tasting and guidance.

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RW Worth Cellaring Tasting: Côtes Du Rhône And Related Reds, with Geoff Kelly


CDR worth cellaring 1

Once again, Geoff Kelly hosted another evening at Regional Wines and Spirits looking at a range of affordable Rhône reds. Three years back I had attended a similar event, which hooked me on wines from the Rhône valley, so I was very keen to come and have another review of these wines in Geoff’s erudite company.

His invitation set the scene: “Time to run another ‘Worth Cellaring’ tasting of the warm red grenache-based wines of the Southern Rhone Valley.  At best these can be the most food-friendly and best-value red wines on Earth.  They can have all the soft charm and appeal of pinot noir, yet just be that little bit more substantial.  In general, one has to pay quite a lot to achieve substantial pinot noirs.  This is where the Southern Rhone wines come into their own.

Selection is the key.  Because many of them are matured more in large vats, even concrete, than smaller barrels, we have to be on the lookout for heavy dull wines showing some reduction.  Most winewriters will never tell you about that aspect of wines, hence the appeal of having our own evaluation tasting, to decide for ourselves which are in truth worth buying.

Good Cotes du Rhone will cellar for years, ageing very gracefully.  The layout for the tasting will therefore be:  to taste the Guigal wine first as a yardstick – any wine better than this will be worth buying;  then a 10-year-old wine to demonstrate that the good ones cellar well;  then a sampling of both Cotes du Rhone,  and some of the named villages formerly in the Cotes du Rhone-Villages appellation.  They cost a little more.  This approach should give us a good feel for the wines of the district, and what price level to buy.

By and large Cotes du Rhone is based on Grenache, with varying amounts of Syrah.  Cheaper ones have Carignan and Cinsault in them, and don’t keep so well,  whereas the best cellar wines have more Mourvedre.  Many are raised in concrete, some in stainless,  some better ones in big old wood,  and a few modern ones have a touch of new oak.  We have 12 wines, ranging from the simplest Cotes du Rhone around $20, to representatives of the elite villages formerly in Cotes du Rhone-Villages, but some now with their own AOC,  such as Vacqueyras and Rasteau,  now in the $40s.  The whole idea is to find more affordable Cotes du Rhone-related wines with some of the quality, flavour and weight of Gigondas or Chateauneuf-du-Pape,  but at maybe half the price.

The wines will be tasted blind, on this occasion 25 ml samples were used,  then a vote on which is best (still blind),  before discussion of each sample,  to sort out why it is good,  bad or indifferent.”

The wines for tasting:

2015  Domaine Alary Cotes du Rhone La Gerbaude

2015  Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rasteau 1921

2015  Domaine de la Charbonniere Vacqueyras

2016   Delas Freres Cotes du Rhône Saint-Esprit

2014  Domaine des Espiers Gigondas

2016  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone Les 3 Soeurs

2014  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvée Maximilien

2013  Maison Guigal Cotes du Rhône

2014  Jerome Quiot Vacqueyras

2016  Domaine Ogier Cotes du Rhône Heritages

2016  Famille Perrin La Vieille Ferme Ventoux

2008  Chateau de Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Les Deux Albion

The wines were, by and large, all enjoyable. As Geoff also wrote, “As the Australians used to say,  before they became more aware of of the wines of the world beyond their shores, in a warmer climate, vintage does not matter so much” so these wines were all drinkable and appreciated in their own way. The lighter, simpler offerings, like the 2014  Jerome Quiot Vacqueyras and the 2015  Domaine Alary Cotes du Rhone La Gerbaude I wasn’t that thrilled with myself, perhaps due to price point and related density of fruit, so I won’t be writing up the whole flight. I’ll concentrate on the wines I enjoyed most:

CDR worth cellaring 2

2013 Maison Guigal Cotes du Rhône – a reference Rhône rouge and a great ‘sighter’ for the flight. Very good flavour and fresh finish.  I have scored this at 90 points previously, and wouldn’t revisit that assessment.

2016 Domaine Ogier Cotes du Rhône Heritages Rhône – Good fruit weight and flavours, structure and body. Savoury  ‘garruige’ quality. Should hold well.

2016  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone Les 3 Soeurs – another good wine at great value which I liked enough to buy following the tasting to review in more detail. It showed boldness and character and length, with lovely pepper and shrubby herb notes.

2014  Domaine des Espiers Gigondas Soeurs – from a famous appellation, showing a reductive complex character, fragrant, with the fruit aromas fading slightly in the glass as it sits. On the palate there is great fruit intensity and freshness. This was one to buy for the cellar.

2014  Domaine Les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone-Villages Cairanne Cuvée Maximilien – from a new sub-regional appellation, with slight reduction, slight unripeness, but complex fruit flavours, fine grained tannins, herby finish with a celery note. Another one to buy for the cellar, and like three years ago, the importer had left none to sell!

2015  Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rasteau 1921 – fine aromatic quality, aromas of dark fruits. Lovely richness and body to this wine. Showed density and power and grace. Soft, long with a fresh finish. Delicious. Another one for the Pool Room!

What’s in the glass tonight March 26th – Côtes du Rhône


E Guigal CdR 2013

Off Topic: E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2013 – $

14% alc. Dark ruby.

This is the world’s foremost high-volume quality red wine. Here is this year’s vintage release, eagerly anticipated:

Earthy, spicy note. Dark red plums. Fresh.

Supple ripe dark red fruit flavours, medium tannins, grippy spicy finish. Zippy and spirited. Luscious mouthfeel. Strong, long. Quite striking.

This wine will last another 10+ years easy. Drinking so well now.

Highly Recommended 90 Points

What’s in the glass tonight Jan 4th– CdR Blanc


E Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Blanc 2015

Off Topic – E Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2015 – $$

Pale brilliant gold colour. 13.5% alc. 65% Viognier, 15% Rousanne, 8% Marsanne, balance of Bourboulenc and white Grenache

Floral nose of white peach and mandarin, with honey supporting.

Richness and body in the mouth. Flavours of apricots, the unctuousness of honey. A pure elegant and balanced wine. The weight of the Viognier is nicely moderated by the Rousanne and Marsanne.

Like a good Condrieu.

Highly Recommended 91 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 1st – Sancerre


Sancerre 2015

Off Topic: Dom. du Vieux Prêche Sancerre Blanc ASC 2016 – $$

Greenish pale straw colour. 13.5% alc.

My first ever Sancerre Blanc. A wine from one of the two spiritual homes of New Zealand’s most famous wine export, the other being Pouilly-Fumé on the other side of the Loire.

Flat aromatically, open steely and minerally. Curry spice and celery. Lightly fruited – apples, apple pip, exotic pip fruit, balanced acidity expressed on the nose.

Lean and flat in the mouth. Minerals. Funk. None of the ‘dash and splash’ I am used to with an NZ Sauvignon Blanc. No energy or verve in this wine, seems old before it’s time, too cautious. I don’t know enough about this wine to know whether this taste impression is authentic. It can be only confirmed by other bottles. And while I am interested to learn, life is short, and I may stick with what I know and love.

Looking at this wine in isolation, it is pleasant and moreish and drinkable. Like typical old world wines it improves on standing in the glass and with food, and opens up somewhat to show more fruit flavour, but it’s still thin. Emperors clothes, I feel, for this one.

Recommended 84 points

What’s in the glass tonight September 14th – Marsanne


Cave de Tain Premiere Note Marsanne 2015

Off Topic: Cave de Tain Premiére Note Marsanne Collines Rhodaniennes 2015 – $$

An offering from Michael at Wineseeker to offset the Marsanne I bought a wee while back that I found oxidised and unappetising. This is made in a fruitier and more approachable style, and should be a good reflection of the grape.

13% alc. Pale greenish gold colour.

Clean and clear aromas of golden stonefruit and clover honey. Bready. No oak.

Lean fruit up front. Fresh. A bitter note on the middle palate, and finishes with a strong apple flavour. Not a juicy wine – somewhat flat, leafy and short.

Commended 85 points

 

What’s in the glass tonight August 17th – Crozes Hermitage Blanc


Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Marsanne 2013

Off Topic: Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Grand Classique Marsanne 2013 – $$$

13% alc. Golden colour.

What a shame. This wine was oxidised, and betrayed the light and aromatic fruit flavours the Marsanne grape should show. And a real shame for a special-occasion bottle costing over $30.

L called this one of my “stinky French whites”. Ugh.

Looking past the aroma, I saw thin fruit (natch), light nutty and biscuit flavours, less white peach than overripe/rotten apple. Slightly cooked. I emailed the wineseller and got a considered reply, and an offer of replacement,  so all good there.

Not Rated

What’s in the glass tonight July 22nd – Chardonnay


sigu ros 2

Off Topic: Domaine Faiveley Rully Les Villeranges Cote Chalonnaise 2013 – $$$+

L and I went up to Auckland to see Sigur Ros, one of my favourite bands. The light show was amazing and made up a little for the their lack of emotion and engagement with the audience.  They didn’t play my two favourite tunes either – Samskeyti and Von – but what they did play was layered and dense and crafted…a tick for the bucket list…

Dom Faiveley Rully 2013

On the Saturday night we went to eat at White & Wongs, an Asian fusion restaurant at the edge of Viaduct Basin. The food was abso delicious. We started with a glass of Moet, then shared a bottle of Dom. Faiveley Rully Les Villeranges 2013. It was flinty and austere and restrained and lean.

Recommended 88 points

MS Tasting –Bordeaux 2008


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There does not arise many opportunities where I can taste a first growth.

This Magnum tasting traversed six Bordeaux’s from the ’08 vintage, and included a Mouton Rothschild. Its rarity in the Society’s cellar will only increase as the en primeur price climbs for it and its like.

JC led the tasting, and produced the following notes to accompany the flight:

 “This was a challenging year for Bordeaux. The world economic crisis was imminent. China had become the principal buyer of premium Bordeaux following disenchantment in USA and Europe with the quality and price escalation of the 2006 and 2007 vintages. The overall weather pattern was cool and damp throughout the growing cycles. Early expectations for the wines were reserved. Robert Parker elected not to participate in the scheduled en primeur tastings. Without his endorsement the Chateaux offered the wines at lower prices but sales still languished despite being the “last affordable vintage”. (Robinson)

Climatically the winter was mild, spring was wet and early summer was cool and damp, only to be miraculously saved by a late Indian summer. Budburst was late, setting a pattern for the season. Protracted and uneven flowering followed leading to poor fruit set while the cool temperatures and rain produced mould and mildew infestations. Fortunately July was warm and dry, curtailing vegetative growth and allowing the vines to ripen tannins. More rain ensued during August and early September until a radical change in the high pressure systems brought cool, dry air into Bordeaux with warm days and cool nights extending through to late October.

Why then is the vintage rated very good, or (Parker) “excellent with a number of superb wines that are close to, if not equal to, the prodigious 2005 or 2000 vintages”? The benign harvest was a critical factor. More significant were the long, slow growth cycles and the low production. Seasons usually average 100 days between flowering and harvest in Bordeaux; in 2008 the hangtime extended from 120 to 160 days. “The slow vegetative cycles allowed the grapes to ripen effectively, gradually and inconspicuously” (Blatch) providing “far more nuance of flavour intensity than anyone expected” (Parker). This was also a low yielding vintage due to an imperfect flowering and mildew (and consequent necessity to green harvest over summer) and the dehydration leading up to harvest, enabling the vines to fully ripen the residual fruit.

The wines are typically dark and opaque in colour with fragrant red fruit aromatics, fresh acidity, pristine, nuanced fruit and sweet, supple tannins. The extended hangtime favoured the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Northern Medoc producing dense and vibrant wines combining both flesh and firmness. On the Right Bank the low yields have endowed the wines with intense aromas and opulent flavours. “The best are beautifully balanced, effortless, mid-weight clarets, ripe in core fruit with a splendid aromatic complexity that fills the mouth and then coats the throat on the finish. Their individuality and quality stem from an aromatic intensity and tenacity of flavour rather than a fruit concentration”. (Schuster).

The vintage was particularly successful in Pauillac, St Julien and Pomerol and it is from these communes that our cellar master has selected the wines for this tasting:

  1. Chateau Mouton Rothschild (83% cs 17% m) (Parker score: 94)
  2. Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande (63% cs, 29% m, 5% pv, 3% cf) (Parker 96)
  3. Chateau Pontet Canet (65% cs, 30% m, 4% cf, 1% pv) (Parker 96-98)
  4. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (85% cs, 15% m) (Parker 96-98)
  5. Chateau Hosanna (80% m, 20% cf) (Parker 95)
  6. Chateau La Fleur Petrus (90% m, 10% cf) (Parker 92-94)

Pauillac

Pauillac is the most prestigious commune of Bordeaux with three first growths. It comprises two distinct plateaus of deep gravels over sand, marl and limestone with a greater concentration of clay in the southern plateau. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wines are quintessential claret in style; dry, intensely aromatic and flavoured, and renowned for their vigour and longevity. Flavours include blackcurrant and berry, earth, spice, lead pencil and the oak derived cedar and cigarbox.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Owned by generations of the Rothschild family since 1853. Baron Phillippe Rothschild’s enterprise elevated the Chateau to first growth classification in 1973. The 75 hectares vineyard is located on the higher plateau consisting of deep (up to 5 metres) gravels over sand and limestone and is planted 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, vines averaging 45 years. The grapes are fermented in oak (predominantly) and stainless steel vats and then matured in 100% new French oak for 19 to 22 months.

Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande

Now owned by the Rouzard family (Roderer champagne) following the sale by the formidable ambassadress of Bordeaux, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing in 2007. The Chateau has since undergone a complete renovation. The vineyard comprises 89 hectares of which 74 hectares are in production and is planted 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot with an average vine age of 45 years. Soils are deep gravels over clay and limestone. Vinification takes place in concrete and wood vats and the wine is then matured for between 16 and 20 months in 60% new French oak.

Chateau Pontet Canet

Owned by Cognac merchant Guy Tresseron since the wine scandal forced the sale of the chateau by the Cruse family in 1975. Michel Rolland was appointed consultant in 1999. Viticulture is organic/biodynamic. The vineyard comprises 81 hectares of deep gravels over clay and limestone and is planted 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot averaging 45 years in vine age. The grapes are fermented in wood vats followed by 16 to 20 months maturation in 60% new French oak.

St Julien

Smallest commune of the Medoc but with the highest ratio of classified terroir of any region in Bordeaux. Soils are a mixture of gravel, (but with less depth than in Pauillac), sand, limestone and clay. Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant variety followed by Merlot and lesser plantings of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The wines exemplify subtlety and balance. Aromas and flavours are similar to Pauillac, perhaps more floral, and not as intense nor as concentrated.

Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou

This Chateau has been owned by the Brest-Borie family since 1941. The family also owns Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste in Pauillac. The vineyard comprises 75 hectares of well drained gravels covered with substantial stones. The vineyards are planted 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot with an average vine age of 50 years. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats with malolactic fermentation transferred to concrete vats. The wine is then aged in 75% to 90% new French oak for between 18 and 20 months.

Pomerol

This is the smallest region of Bordeaux situated west of St Emilion. The prime estates are located on the plateau which consists of a complex amalgam of clay, gravel, sand and iron ore deposits. Merlot is the predominant variety followed by Cabernet Franc and the occasional Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Wine style is determined by site and producer but in general tends to be rich and sensual with aromas and flavours of plum, chocolate and exotic spices.

Chateau Hosanna

This Chateau was originally part of the Certan property (then Chateaux Certan-Giraud), acquired by the Giraud family in 1956 (renamed Chateaux Grand) and then sold to Jean-Pierre Moueix in 1999. Renamed Chateau Hosanna, the vineyard is a mere 4.5 hectares and is planted 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard, located at the top of the plateau, has gravel and red clay soils. The grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks and then aged for 12 to 14 months in 50% new French oak.

Chateau La Fleur Petrus

This Chateau is also owned by the Moueix family. The vineyard is situated on the northern edge of the plateau adjacent to La Fleur and Petrus. The vineyard comprises 18.7 hectares and is planted with 91% Merlot, 6% Cabernet France and 3% Petit Verdot on gravelly, clay soils. Stainless steel vats are used for fermentation/maceration. The wine is aged for 16 to 18 months in 50% new French oak.”

Other points to note from the opening discussion – Mouton used 100% new oak; the Pontet was Parker’s wine of the vintage on the Left bank; while Hosanna was the superstar from the Right Bank.

And then on to the tasting itself, with all the wines customarily served blind in 60ml pours:

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2008 Chateau La Fleur Petrus  – Deep dark carmine. There was some bottle variation across the group, but I saw a lightly scented, somewhat reticent wine. Aromas of purple fruit, cedar shavings, spice and vanilla. The longer it sat, the more of a late bloomer it was. In the mouth, a sweet and crisp attack, mouthcoating, with a fresh finish. Bright fruit flavours through the mid-palate, densely-packed. Vibrant and primary.  I scored this Gold. I liked this wine. Who could not?

2008 Chateau Hosanna – Deep dark carmine. A beguiling scent on this wine. Rich, layered and complx. Dark fruit, ripe smoky and opulent, dense. Savouryness and spice. Touch of sous bois. Sweet attack in the mouth, smokey, spicy and long. Heat on the back palate. Meaty. Some cocoa and tobacco. The sweetest wine of the flight.  I scored this Gold.

2008 Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Lalande – Deep dark carmine. A lean and metallic note on the nose. Bright red fruit. Pink roses, sweet floral. Shows prominent oak and quite lifted. Lean on the palate too. Red fruits, quite short. Floral. Leafy. Some cassis, and pencil-lead. Others saw green olives, which was interesting, if somewhat unappealing.  I scored this Silver. I kinda disliked this.

2008 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou – Deep dark carmine. I saw cardboard box, elegenat spice and warming characters, then some fellow tasters declared the bottle faulty so we swapped to another. The wine I had a second look at was sweet, perfumed, with vanilla and sweet red fruits and lanoline. Quite delightful and fine. Youthful and exuberant to taste, with crisp red fruits. An crisp finish, quite long. Violets.  I scored this Gold, and it was my second wine of the night.

2008 Chateau Mouton Rothschild – Deep dark carmine. Forward, rich and developed on the nose. Unique. Complex, with oak, pencil lead and dark fruit. Structured, dense and brooding. Some forest floor characters, cassis and cocoa. To taste the wine was lean and long, with a fresh acid profile, quite developed, with the softest texture of the flight. Additional flavours of charred oak, sous bois, olives, plums and smoke. Twenty two tasters rated this as their favourite wine. But not me, to my embarrassment.  I just scored it Gold.

2008 Chateau Pontet Canet – Deep dark carmine. This was why I came, it seemed. Rich dense fruit on nose. Quite tight. I smelled currants. There was oak. Very powerful. Some blood and road dust, as you do, and firm. On drinking, there was richness and density up front, and well structured fruit throughout.  Fantastically integrated tannins with the fruit. Primary still. Poised and absolutely delicious. I scored this wine Gold and it was my Wine Of The Night (WOTN)

On review, there was so much elegance across the lineup. More impressive that the ‘05’s tasted last year.

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I took the wines home to have another look at the kitchen table, along with some of the empty bottles. Some faded on the trip across town, but the La Fleur, Pontet and Mouton stayed the course for deliciousness and engagement.

A fantastic education in fine wine!