The Passover season now behind me, I’ve run out of excuses for my prolonged absence from the blogging sphere.
In recent weeks I’ve attended two meetings of my Burgundy wine club, and though in the midst of the Passover selling season, I broke away for an hour to visit a favorite portfolio tasting – the annual Polaner tasting on March 16th.
The Polaner tasting is one I’ve written about several times before. The folks at Polaner have amassed a very impressive portfolio of producers, and the annual tasting is an amazing showcase for those in the industry to speak with the producers and taste the new releases.
An hour is not nearly enough time to make anything more than a cursory dent in the wines offered. In between talking kosher-wine with several industry contacts, I managed to try at least 1 wine from 14 different producers. Being partial to the crispness of Burgundian whites I stopped by the tables of Chablis producer Domaine Gilbert Picq whose wines were fresh, bright, clean, crisp & really quite delicious – incredibly versatile wines that are perfect for the approaching warm weather. I tried some other Burgundian Chardonnay’s and once again re-discovered why so much of the world is trying (and IMO failing) to mimic the Chardonnay of Burgundy. These wines on the most basic level manage to integrate fruit, wood & acid better than the Chard’s from the rest of the world that are either over-oaky, over creamy (malolactic) or flabby and seriously lacking natural acidity. But I digress…
I tried some Loire wines & some Champagne and then ventured over to the Italian wines where I had a couple more whites before moving on to the few reds I tried. Di Barro made a “Mayolet” (not a varietal I was previously familiar with) that was nice, light & fruity. And I tried a Carricante Bianco from Calabretta that was subtle, spicy & interesting.
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli had 2 Barolo’s whose tannins, fruit, cola flavor & bright acidity I thoroughly enjoyed. But a producer whose wines have stood out in the past were once again being poured by the proprietor & winemaker – Luca Roagna of Roagna Winery. I’ve been WOWed by the wines of Roagna at previous Polaner tastings and I was not disappointed on this occasion. The white – the 2005 Langhe Bianco Solea made from 95% chardonnay & 5% nebbiolo was incredibly unique, showing bubblegum, nutmeg & floral characteristics. The 2000 Barbaresco Paje had black cherry, tar & earthy traits, showed a bit of (pleasant) oxidation, had huge gripping tannins and a LONG finish. The 2005 Barolo Vigna Rionda also showed red & black fruit, tar & earth, but this wine was fresh with a wild (and again PLEASANT) manure aroma. LOVED IT! Finally, Luca as is his custom, rinsed my glass with the next wine to be tasted and poured a Barolo Chinato (dessert wine) that had amazing dark spice characteristics ranging from nutmeg & cinnamon to basil & rosemary with appealing floral & perfume aromas. Nice!
As indicated above, I recently participated in two Burgundy club tastings. The first a few weeks ago and the second this past week. A few weeks ago we did Corton…
and this past week we did Volnay…
Without getting into too many details, I continue to find most of these wines to be rather remarkable. Lively & complex is how I would put it most succinctly. But overall, these wines are funky, long lived, and loaded with character.
My favorite of the Corton is tough to call as these Grand Cru Burgundy’s were all uniquely special. But if pushed into a corner I’d say the ’95 Corton Renardes (Gaunoux) Grand Cru was my favorite as this brick orange wine started with aromas of wet leaves & earthiness. It evolved to show mocha, red berries & some cola. On the palate it had great acidity, nice fruit & a minerally earthiness that was fresh & lively. The only disappointment was its finish which was long but maybe not as long as some others.
The Volnay tasting was a real treat – six 1er Cru wines, all but one from the 90′s. But here my favorite was indisputable – the Comte Armand Volnay Fremiet 1er Cru 1999. This deep clear ruby wine had cherry pie, earth, pine needle & mushrooms aromas. On the palate it showed cherry cola & tart berries. It was soft, plush, lite, fresh & lively with silky tannins and a finish that seemed to go on & on & on & on…. WOW! But there is more. After we tasted through the 6 wines once we re-visited. I thought all the wines showed better the second time around (maybe ’cause I was a bit buzzed at this point) and the ’99 Comte Armand opened up to show violets, roses & an overall perfume nose that was not there the first taste. A premier Cru Burgundy that can be had for about $75 and was IMO the star of the night.
I welcome you all back following my prolonged absence. Going forward I will probably continue to WRITE less, but I do intend to introduce a new dynamic to the blog…more details to follow…
Happy wine tasting!