Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Sorry that it has been slow lately. Work has been really intense and keeping me busy.

I will be in France in the Loire Valley next week and will have much to report, I'm sure. So bear with me and all will be rewarded.

Impromptu success

A great impromptu dinner when my folks were here with some great friends, great food and excellent wine. It is for nights like these that I have a wine cellar. A wonderful evening at Vin Rouge.

2006 Fonterenza Toscano IGT Sangiovese
Good wine, but lacked the nuance of the rosso, as one would expect, I guess. Still a very pleasant wine and would likely have been perceived differently on its own.

2006 Fonterenza Rosso di Montalcino
This was really, really appealing. If only all sangiovese tasted like this. Nothing black fruited or chocolate about it. Just full of pure red fruits, a good hit of earth and leather with incisive grip and punctuality. These vines will become the Brunello when mature and I look forward to following them.

2002 Pépière Clos des Briords
Ugh, corked. The thing is, despite being corked, which for me is not something I can even remotely drink through; I almost could with this wine. The underlying wine with its gorgeous structure and mineral thrust is right around the edge of the flaw. Oh well.

2002 Domaine de Montbourgeau L'Etoile Savagnin
We decanted this for about an hour or so. More rounded than the last bottle, especially towards the end of the night. Still a very good wine.

1997 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage
Wow. Sometimes I forget how great Chave Hermitage can be. This has never been a “great” vintage of Chave, but it is a remarkable wine. Complete is the best term for it. There is nothing you could wish were there. What more to say? To try to pick the wine apart is to do it a disservice.

1991 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
Decanted for about 2 hours, this was not a wall of tannin!!! Actually, it was more or less resolved. There is a ton of fruit that is sliding over towards secondary and tertiary nuance. It has a large herbal component, that I like in cabernet based wines. My only complaint, and this is going to sound weird talking about a Dunn wine, is that the fruit might be overwhelming the structure a bit. Crazy, I know, but true. My instinct is that this will come back in tune when the fruit goes fully tertiary.

1990 Giovanni Corino Barolo Vigna Giachini
Decanted for several hours. Finally a modernist Barolo from 1990 that does not disappoint. To be fair, I stacked the deck as this has always showed well for me. In fact, I still like this wine and it’s gentle, very feminine approach to Barolo. All the classic La Morra elements were in effect and the tannin had come to be a nice framing element rather. IMO, fully mature and ready to go, but will probably stay in this neighborhood for several years.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sunday Dinner #4

In keeping with the recent habit of having Sunday dinner with my brother and his family. This time we cooked a Piedmontese dish, pork braised in milk.

1993 Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra
A ruby red robe with only a hint of rust in it. This showed a really beautiful, heady, and pure nose of dried black cherry. There were hints of earth and leather as it went onto the palate. Not super expressive in the mouth, but well resolved and rounded. There was enough grip there for the dish, but nothing overwhelming. It could probably go a few more years, and maybe even improve. It seems like I’ve had my best luck with “modernists” in little years like 1993 and 1995. In comparison to my last bottle of 1993 Giacosa Falleto, the color was much less advanced and the fruit was more pure, but the overall wine less complex and seemed a bit hotter. I still don’t know what to make of Clerico. I sometimes think I should sell what I have, but I also think that the fruit quality he is producing is so good that maybe the wines deserve a chance to become what they will. I’m just not sure that I will love what they become.

Monday, January 12, 2009

An animal thought extinct.

I can't remember the last time I had a Brunello that I enjoyed so much.

2006 Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Lazio IGT
People like this wine a lot more than I do. It’s certainly pleasant, but always seems to me to be a bit round and diffuse. In a similar vein, I like the Cá de Noci Notte di Luna much, much more.

1997 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile
When first poured, it shows a disturbing musty quality. Not the first time I’ve experienced that with this cuvee. After it blows off however, the wine was lovely. I liked it a whole lot better than anyone at the table, which seemed really weird to me. It was a bit atypical in it’s round and obviously fruited richness, but still managed to hold it all together and not get glommy at all. I have a couple fo bottles left and will be drinking them in the next year or two. I think this would be great with a simple fish and buerre blanc.

1999 La Palazetta Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
This was awesome. The most I’ve enjoyed a Brunello in a good long while. It had that lovely, bright cranberry/cherry fruit of svelte sangiovese without heaviness or dark color. How lovely to see and actual ruby colored Brunello. Lots of complexity and nuance from herbs to scrub to animal notes, the whole gamut. This can be enjoyed now or aged for a decent bit, maybe 10 more years (or longer if you like that sort of thing). For myself, it is so good now, I’d start jumping in.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fortuitous evening

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Rue Cler with some very dear friends. It was one of those evenings where all the wines showed really well and the food was first rate.

1996 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis 1er Vaillons
This showed very well, especially given the soaked cork. That didn’t knock the structure out. The fruit had gone a little creamy, but it was still mostly lemon and stones with hints of secondary stuff sneaking in. It was the palate where it really had evolved. If you tried the 1996s when they were young, you remember the face crushing, eye searing intensity of the wines. Frankly, I was worried they wouldn’t evolve in a proper way. This certainly has. This was my last bottle, but I’m not that sad, I caught it at a wonderful time for me. If you have some, they can hold for 5+ easily.

2004 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot
Young and strapping, but not brooding and backwards, which is the beauty of Allemand. The wines can both drink well young and show their potential at the same time. A nice trick if you can pull it off. Still very primary, but if you have a good bit it is not uninteresting to try now. I won’t be getting into mine for at least 5 years.

1995 Thierry Allemand Cornas Reynard
This more than made up for the crappy 1995 Chaillot from Blackwood’s trip. You can taste the differences between the two wines, even through the difference in age. Really beautifully complex and seamless with dark fruit, earth and animal notes framed nicely by both acidity and balancing tannins. Superb with food. In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to like my wines when they have started to stretch out and show secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors, but haven’t gone all fruitless and still maintain some structure. For that reason, I think that 20 years might be the upper limit of Cornas aging for me, so these will be gone by 2015. You can start drinking any time you want.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dinner at Red Lotus #3

OK, working my way through the Chinese menu at Red Lotus, this time with my pal Jello4Prez. Experienced the first disappointments thus far: the 5-Layer Pork and an underwhelming, if fresh tasting soup. We finished about 2/3rds of each bottle and sneaked the rest into the movie theater to see the recent Bond. While I’m a bit ambivalent about the story line and the movie in general, I think that Daniel Craig makes a great 007, maybe the best yet.

2002 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese
The cork completely disintegrated on this bottle. Right down the middle, it was crazy. Anyway, once we got this sorted out we could get into the wine. Much snappier and prettier than the 2002 Kupfergrube that I had at the same restaurant recently. While the Kupfergrube had gone a little milky, this was still pristine, pure, sappy and joyous. I’ve been pretty clear recently about how my tastes I think do not really run towards aging these wines. Maybe it is just the old-school, low alcohol, high acid Spätlese from the Mosel that can really do it for me? Not sure, but I’m going to go ahead and drink mine where I like them.

1997 Jacques Puffeney Savagnin Arbois
Still had a very good color and the nose was more subtle and mature ff less penetrating. J4P seemed to think the wine was much more complete than when it was younger. It certainly showed pretty well, but I can’t help think it was missing some thrust and verve.