Thursday, October 29, 2009

Barolo Testing - 1, 2, 3...

A small gathering of wine pro's gave a test drive to 2004 and 1996 Barolo last night...

2002 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Les Clavoillons 1er cru - What the heck?! This ain't Barolo. Hell, it ain't even red! What are we supposed to start off with Cortese or Favorita? Killer wine that unfortunately could have used an hour to unwind or better yet five more years.

2004 & 1996 Marcarini Barolo Brunate
2004 & 1996 Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Brunate
2004 & 1996 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
2004 & 1996 Guisepp Mascarello Barolo Monprivato
2004 & 1996 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia
2004 Roagna Barolo Vigna Rionda & 1996 Massolino Barolo Vigna Rionda
2004 Giacosa Barolo Falletto (White Label) & 1996 Giacosa Barolo Falletto (Red Label)

1995 Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes - Super yum!

Much discussion about which wine was best in the respective vintage and surprisingly there was not a clear consensus. Since this blog is my sandbox, I'll say the Bartolo Mascarello wins as the best 2004 and the Giacosa (Duh!) wins as the favorite 1996. The Giacomo Conterno wines were the best pair, although in serious need of further slumber, and were my second favorite wine in both vintages. As always, they were devastatingly good. Both wines from Rinaldi were superb, a classic producer doing the old-school strut to perfection. Finally, I've never had a wine by Masolino, but after this encounter, I desparately want to try more from them. Really lovely...

Thanks to Doug for organizing and everyone else for sharing such precious juice.

JCB the 4th

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dinner with a Vieux

Francois Thienpont is about as charming as they come. Just look at him...wouldn't you want to buy wine from this guy?

Born of Belgish (is that a word?) descent, his family has graced the Bordeaux landscape since the 1920's. Purchasing the hallowed Pomerol estate, Vieux Chateau Certan, the Thienpont clan has embarked upon a singular mission to create the best they possibly can from the top-notch "terroir" to which they have at their disposal. Seems simple, and at its very core, it naturally, don't use chemicals, avoid the pitfalls the vintage tosses your way, and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, when the vine whispers to you that the time is right, you pick the fruit by hand. You ferment the grapes with its natural yeasts, you allow malo-lactic fermentation, you rack to barrels and then you wait. Easy, right?

But there is talent involved and that talent lies in the hands of Francois' brother, Alexandre. His touch with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is feather-light, a bit of an oxymoron when referring to Bordeaux. But if Pomerol is the Burgundy of Bordeaux, then Vieux Chateau Certan is the Vosne Romanee. It's velvety and sleek, certainly the most sexy of the Right Bankers. In short, I adore the wines of VCC.

Francois came to a Grapes for Good wine dinner in his honor at Culinariane in Montclair this past week. He humbly told the tale of his family's estate, described in-depth the winemaking philosophy of his wines and showcased gorgeous examples of his wines ranging from $11 to $179 per bottle. Hell, he even helped me personally double decant all of the reds prior to service. Spilling a bit, it was refreshingly hilarious to hear a Frenchman curse in both French and English! But his wit, charm and moreover, his wares won over the group who sampled them along with the devastatingly delicious delights of Chef Ariane Duarte, my hometown culinary goddess. Many proclaimed the Yogurt Marinated Lamb Chops, Vadouvan Carrot Puree, Raita, Petit Seasons Mix and Maldon Sea Salt, the best lamb to every pass their lips. High praise from the experienced foodies in attendance...

Four wines really stood out to me that night:

2006 La Gravette de Certan Pomerol - arriving in a week or so
2006 Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol - arriving in a week or so

These wines are essential Bordeaux. Naked, honest and real...

JCB the 4th

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Throwback...

Like short-shorts, the afro pick and white socks over the calf, these wines are a throwback to the good ol' days. The times when wines we're as honest and hard-working as James Brown and smooth as Dr. J gliding through the lane.

2007 Domaine Haut Cances Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne "Tradition" - Hard to argue with the value of this wine as I defy you to put it in your mouth blind and not think old-school Chateauneuf du Pape from a strong vintage. I know nothing of this winery (but I'll learn more before we offer it this week) and have never tasted any of their wares before yesterday. But there is no doubt that there are many wines that can satisfy, but few can tell a story as vivid as this in just one taste without some serious terroir, history and deft skills. Flat out the best Cotes du Rhone I have tasted in years, truly stunning.

2007 Lamy Pillot Chassagne Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er cru - Shining like the true star it is at a recent tasting in NYC, this Chardonnay is all about pedigree. Caillerets is for my money, the best non-Grand Cru site in Chassagne, without question. And while no one wants to give credit or much attention to Sebastien Caillat, who not only married well into the Lamy family, but also is a gifted vigneron who has a lacy touch with his wines. This is so stunning a wine that it will, to quote a friend of mine from California, "Roll yer socks up and down three times!" How can that be beat?

Both of these wine are coming in the next week, so savvy Le Monstre readers get the inside skinny, like George Gervin with the patented finger roll.

JCB the 4th