Posts Tagged ‘Burgundy’

Anything But Chardonnay

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Yes, there is an “Anything But Chardonnay” club, dubbed “ABC”, that from what I gather is anti anything Chardonnay.  While I am not a club member, I have become mostly disenfranchised with Chardonnay.  Or at least Chardonnay NOT from Burgundy.  Chablis, the steely crisp Chardonnay from the Chablis region, or White Burgundy….YUM – Love it (or at least some of it)!  Yet much (but of course not all) of the other stuff – POSERS!

I’m no Francophile,  but I do believe that there is something magical about the wines of Burgundy.  Pinot Noir’s best expression seems to come from Burgundy.  Sure I’ve had some other charming Pinot Noir, but none has ever seemed as magical, complex, primal, balanced & long-lived as some of the Burgundy I’ve been fortunate to taste.

But I digress…

Getting back to Chardonnay, I attended a tasting of white wines last week.  We started the tasting with 5 Chardonnays – all made in Israel at different wineries.  The first two were “unoaked” Chardonnays.  I do enjoy a good crisp white, but these unoaked Chard’s underwhelmed.  The focus seemed more on the acidity (a vital component) than the fruit, and the resulting wines seemed bitter and unbalanced.  Two of the next 3 were oaked, but sadly the oak dominated and masked any fruit that may have been hiding underneath.  I did enjoy 1 of the 5 Chard’s.  It seemed to have the right balance between fruit, acid, oak & cream.

Now I mention cream, but no, there was no dairy product added.  In addition to the primary fermentation (that converts sugar into alcohol) in wine, there is a secondary fermentation known as “malolactic” fermentation that converts bitter “malic” acid into CREAMY “lactic” acid.  This is where the buttery or creamy flavors in Chardonnay come from.

I don’t want to get too carried away with the technical aspects here, but I do want to tie in to the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) club.  Chardonnay is made in cool climates (apples & peaches), moderate climates (honeydew & pears) and warm climates (pineapple & lichee).  It can be 100% oak aged, or it can be partially (33%, 50%, 66%, etc.) oak aged.  It can have a full malolactic, or a partial malolactic.  It can be bready as a result of “sur lie” – a process whereby the dead yeast cells are left in contact with the wine and stirred around to add complexity & yeast flavors.

There are so many ways Chardonnay can be made.  Personally I think the best examples originate in Burgundy.  Yet while I may not be a fan of lots of the Chardonnay out there, I am often surprised by a winemakers ability to make the right style Chardonnay for his fruit.

So if you have had a bad Chardonnay & have considered joining the ABC club, I implore you not to give up.  Keep an open mind, taste when you can, and when all else fails pick up a White Burgundy.

Happy Chardonnay Wine Tasting!


Burgundy club – Corton/Pernand-Vergelesses

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

I met with my Burgundy club this past week.  With the warmer weather we moved on to whites and we tried 7 wines from the Corton & Pernand-Vergelesses regions.

The first two wines were village wines from Pernand-Vergelesses; Domaine Rollin Pere et Fils (which I learned means “father & son”).  A 2004 & 2005.  The wines were completely different.  I found the ’05 to be a bit oaky while I thought the 2004 was a little oxidized.

We then tried a 2007 1er Cru from the same region; Chandon des Briailles that was sadly corked.

The next 4 wines were all Corton wines.

The 2004 Domaine Maillard Grand Cru had aromas of hay, pear & citrus.  It was tart & creamy with citrus and honey flavors.  It had a long, bright rising finish.  Quite pleasant.

We then tried the 2002 of the same wine and I found it to be quite oxidized – burnt sugar & almost sherry like.  Not my style.

We finished with the 2004 & then 2000 of the Domaine Chandon de Brailles Grand Crus.  The 2004 had citrus & honeydew aromas.  It was bright with Caramel, honey & red apple flavors and a crisp long finish.  While the 2000 seemed a bit reduced at first – it had a rubbery citrus nose.  It blew off and showed the most unique characteristic – artificial lemon ices.  I thought that was cool and was pleased that the palate was also interesting showing minerality & citrus, leading to a sea shell kind of profile.  It had a nice bracing acidity and a decent finish.

In all I really enjoy these wine club gatherings.  Exploring the revered Burgundy region is a treat.  BUT, this tasting was a bit underwhelming for me.  As much as I enjoy whites – I really do, I think that generally they are less interesting.  There are a lot of great wines out there these days, but many of them are kind of generic.  Tasty, fruity and similar to lots of other wines.  What I enjoy most about the Burgundy tastings is how unique Burgundy wines often are.  And while I enjoyed the lemon ices & sea shell traits of the last wine we tasted, in all I was disappointed by having a corked wine, 2 oxidized wines and 3 others that were nice, citrussy with good acidity, but nothing special.

Happy Wine Tasting!


I’m ba’ack…with Burgundy +

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

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!


Burgundy continued; Chablis – William Fevre

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

My wine club’s Burgundy theme continued this past week, summer style, with the white wines of Chablis.  “Chablis is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France”.  The wines of Chablis are (generally) made from 100% Chardonnay.  We had a sort of vertical tasting, though not really.  Vertical implies tasting the same wine from various vintages.  Here the group ended up getting 7 wines from the highly regarded William Fevre winery of Chablis.  We tasted 5 grand cru wines and 2 premier cru wines, from the 2003, 2004 & 2006 vintages.

Before getting into the wines themselves, I must confess that I am at a point in my wine appreciation where I immensely ENJOY white wines, but have not come across too many I believe to be outstanding and that merit high price tags.  $20, OK.  $30 – sure, why not (if you can afford it).  But much more than that…well, I’ll pass.  That said, SOME of the wines of Chablis that I have been fortunate enough to taste are so UNIQUE, given their characteristic steely & flinty profiles, that this tasting was one I was prepared to splurge for and quite excited about.   Bottom line, while some of the wines showed that uniquely special flinty/steely quality, others were heavy on the oak, and though they had a nice crisp acidity, did not strike me as special.

The first wine we tasted was the 2004 “Mountmains” 1er cru.  This wine did NOT say “Domaine” on the label (though the Mountmains above DOES say domaine) and presumably was made from purchased fruit.  This wine had obvious oak and while it was a nice Chardonnay it was not (to my very amateur palate) a special Chablis wine.

The second wine was the 2004 “Fourchaume” 1er cru.  This clear lite gold wine had a green tint and a very evident steeliness.  Almost metallic and (to me) quite pleasant, this wine also showed a hint of nuttiness.  Bright, crisp & steely, it had great minerality and was a fine example of Chablis.

Next was our first Grand Cru and also the first produced “domaine”, (as were the remaining 4) what we presumed was an estate wine (grown, vinified & bottled on estate property).  The 2006 Bougros Grand Cru was a clear straw wine with green reflections (or so it appeared on the dimly lit patio in midtown Manhattan where we were tasting).  Aromas of stone fruit such as peach and apricot led to flavors of tart fruit, tangy (unripe) tropical fruit & a bracing acidity.  It finished toasty & long, and while it is not what I think of when I think of Chablis, it was quite nice.

Moving right along into the 2006 “Les Preuses” Grand Cru which had a clear straw color.  Typical oaked chardonnay aromas of melon, citrus & toast, this wine was quite elegant on the palate and had flavors of toast & flint.  It finished tart, crisp & long.

The 2004 “Les Preuses” Grand Cru had a wide range of aromas; from lechee and apricot to grilled peaches.  Fruity & creamy flavors were reminiscent of peach cobbler.  It finished long with sweet bready/yeasty flavors.

The 2004 “Vaudesir” Grand Cru had a bit of funk to it.  Limestone, sea shells & bready yeast aromas led to tart citrus flavors & a long bitter (nearly unpleasant) finish.

Our last wine was the 2003 “Valmur” Grand Cru.  Sadly this wine was oxidized.  I tried to smell/taste it but its funky oxidization was too much to overlook and this wine was not tastable.

Overall another fun & interesting tasting.  Not my favorite, but a pleasure nonetheless – one I feel privilledged to have been a part of.

Happy Chablis wine tasting!

Burgundy tasting – Vosne Romanée

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Before reviewing the recent Burgundy tasting, I want to start off by encouraging anyone curious enough about wine to be reading this blog to JOIN A WINE CLUB.  I joined the club I’m in over 2 years ago and the core of the club is still intact.  We have a real nice group of people, and while pooling money, we are able to sample some of the great wines of the world.

Speaking of great wines of the world, Burgundy wines (the red made entirely of Pinot Noir) are said to be some of the finest in existence.  And of the various communes, Vosne Romanée, together with Chambolle-Musigny & Gevrey-Chambertin, are said to make up the finest Burgundy offerings.

Finishing our tour of the various communes, the group focused on some wines from Vosne Romanée.  We tasted 7 wines, 2 village level, four Premier Cru (1er Cru) and one Grand Cru wine.

(2 bottles are mysteriously missing)

The tasting was exciting & educational and a terrific ending to our series of RED Burgundy wines.  Up next – Chablis!!!

A quick and interesting (to me at least) note is that we tasted these bottles the first time around immediately after opening them.  In the past we have decanted, but we (primarily our host) decided not to decant and to taste right after opening.  I did not have a problem with this and found plenty going on in each of the wines during the first taste.  HOWEVER, I re-tasted all of the 7 wines and found that EACH AND EVERY ONE was showing different characteristics the second time around.  An assessment that was shared by other group members.  And while this is not exactly a shocking realization for wines reputed to be the most complex in the world, it was nonetheless quite an exciting revelation for me, and helped me to better grasp the allure of great Burgundy wines.

The first wine we tasted was a 2006 Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, village level wine.  This was the youngest wine we tasted, yet it had a unique aroma I really enjoyed.  I found cola syrup smells on the nose.  While cola is not an unusual aroma for wines, this was different – it seemed to be more concentrated and reminded me of frozen cola pops.   The flavor one gets when sucking the syrup from the pop, that strong syrupy taste – that is what I picked up on.  Otherwise, this light ruby wine had a stoney-mineral thing and subtle fruit, to compliment its round feel and medium long finish.

The 2004 Domaine Robert Arnoux, the second village wine, was clear pinkish-garnet-brick in color. A little more faded then what i would have expected from a 2004 at this point.  It had a lot going on.  Aromas ranging from red berries and wet leaves to cola and tobacco.  Some others picked up on what they considered to be undesirable attributes in this wine, but aside from a touch of heat, I thought the balance between berries, acid, minerality and finish made for a very nice wine.

The 2004 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat “Les Beumonts” was the first 1er Cru wine and the first of two from this Domaine.  This clear ruby to garnet wine black berry, earth and wet leave aromas.  On the palate was a touch of heat, with pleasant cherry cola and tart berry flavors.  It had a nice long finish.  This was the only wine where I wrote a note the second time I tasted it as I found the aroma to be unusual – PICKLES.  Others in the group picked up on the pickle smell, so in this particular case I knew I was not crazy.

The fourth wine was the Domaine Hudelot-Noellat “Les Suchot” 1er Cru.  Made by the same producer as the previous wine, the Les Suchot is made from 70 year old vines while the “Les Beamonts” is made from 35 year old vines.  The Les Suchot had a salmon/orange/garnet like color with a whole lot of funk on the nose.  Wet leaves, canned vegetables, earth and cooked berries were just some of the aromas.  On the palate this wine showed under-ripe fruit (very different from its cooked fruit aroma) with a lovely acidity and a very clean, soft mouth feel.  It had a medium long finish.

Stepping back a few years bring us to wine #5 – the 1996 Domaine Robert Arnoux “Aux Reignors” 1er Cru.  This orange/brick wine had begun to throw some sediment, and had a complex nose with cola, funky earthiness, and some subtle fresh berry.  The palate followed through with cola and tart berry flavors, a bracing acidity and a velvety mouth feel.  It had a pleasant medium to long finish that i thoroughly enjoyed (though if I remember correctly others were less enamored by).

I can’t say that I recall why we did things in this order, but the second to last wine of the night was the 1999 Domaine Meo-Camuzet “Aux Brulée” 1er Cru.  Apparently this wine carries a retail price somewhere near $500.  Thankfully we did not pay that.  And frankly, for comparison sake, i would say that for most of us any of these more affordable options (relatively speaking of course) would present fine alternatives.  This wine had a youthful dark ruby color with some small sediment.  Given its youthful color I expected more fruit, but found this wine (at least the first time around) to be more mineral driven.  Lots of chalky, stoney minerality going on.  There was a touch of funk and some interesting mintiness as well.  On the palate this wine showed its fruit.  The red berry flavors were ripe, different from some of the under-ripe or cooked berry flavors of others.  And it had a very nice and long finish.

Our 7th and final wine of the night was the Louis Jadot (negociant) 1999 Romanée-Saint-Vivant GRAND CRU.  Negociant Jadot makes a lot of wine all across the quality spectrum.  Some group members were not optimistic about this wine given the negociant’s checkered reputation, but I attempted to taste this wine with as open a mind as possible – if for no other reason than its status as a Grand Cru Vosne Romanée.  And while I was not blown away by the wine, it was quite lovely.

It had a light pinkish ruby color and a very subtle, possibly closed nose.  My notes from the taste read as follows: “mineral, nice lite red fruit, round, nice, but…”.  As you can see, I was expecting more.  Again, a lovely wine, but…no earth shattering WOW, this is amazing, I can now die and go to H…  The wine by the way had a medium to long finish.

Happy BURGUNDY wine tasting!


ignition interlock device

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

So much to blog, so little time to do the actual blogging.  I guess that is why Twitter has become so damn popular of late.  I attended the Rioja grand tasting on Tuesday and tasted some wonderful TRADITIONAL style Spanish wines.  And Wednesday night, after a prolonged break, our wine group resumed our tour of Burgundy.  It was the grand finale (for now) of reds – Vosne Romanee!  Next up, Chablis.  I will do my best to blog about them sooooon….

But I’m posting tonight simply to share an interesting tidbit I was just made aware of by Megan of Wine & Spirits Daily.  Apparently, an alliance of 11 car companies are asking congress to mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles within 5-10 years.

In case you, like me, had no idea what an ignition interlock device was, here it is as per good old Wikipedia…

An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID and BIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed to a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device, if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programed blood alcohol concentration — usually 0.02 or 0.04 per cent, the motor will not turn over.

I’m not sure whether to applaud this as it will seemingly prevent reckless selfish drunks from entering our roadways OR freak out that big brother is coming….

Happy stay at home or get a designated driver wine tasting!


Israeli…I mean Burgundy tasting report

Monday, March 16th, 2009

With Passover right around the corner (just over 3 weeks and counting) this is my busy season.  I have been attending, leading, writing about and  dreaming Israeli wine tastings.  I do LOVE the stuff, but I suspect that I may deviate just a tad from the typically exclusive Israeli wines at my seder this year.

I must admit however that I did take a very welcome break from Israeli wines last week to attend another in a series of Burgundy tastings with my wine tasting group.  Led by our fearless leader Jeremy, and his MUCH BETTER HALF (Thanks for the pics!), we tasted through some selections from the Vougeot & Echezeaux regions of Burgundy.  The quality of the vineyards in these regions are considered to be amongst the best with a great majority being classified as Grand Cru or Premier Cru.

Located in the Cote de Nuits, these wines are certainly world class and Jeremy put together a masterful selection of seven wines for this tasting.  This tasting also included brief overviews of each of the wines by individual club members who each researched a wine prior to the tasting.

I found the wines common trait to be their minerality/flintiness, but otherwise they were each unique, elegant and certainly thought provoking.

We started with the 2004 Domaine Bertagna VOUGEOT  “Clos de La Perriere” 1er Cru which was my least favorite.  Others loved this wine, yet I found it to be a bit generic.  Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, just not special (to me at least).  The clear light ruby wine with pink inflections at the rim had a subtle nose of slate/stone leading to mild red berries.  On the palate the fruit was subtle (I suppose some might say elegant) with nice minerality, a touch of heat and a medium length finish.

The 1999 Domaine Francois Legros VOUGEOT “Les Crais” was clear ruby with signs of bricking at the rim.  HERE were those funky earthy/vegetal aromas that led to aromas of cherry pie.  This was a soft & velvety wine with red fruit, a touch of heat, and a medium to long finish.

The 2002 Vincent Girardin, Clos de Vougeot GRAND CRU was clear ruby with pink & orange inflections at the rim.  This wine was not shy and had a LOT going on.  A collection of aromas from earth & stone to mint & baked red fruit.  On the palate were big red fruit that danced in the back of my palate.  This very soft and clean wine finished smooth and long.

The 1988 Clos de Vougeot, Domaine Jean Grivot GRAND CRU was a clear garnet with bricking at the rim.  It had that distinct aged Burgundy “pukey” smell.  A hint of rubbery aroma led to muddy earth & mulchy aromas.  While this may turn some people off, I find it to be fascinating (Burgundy bias anyone?).  On the palate was an amazing bracing acidity & baked cherry pie flavors with a long finish.

Moving from Vougoet to Echezeaux, the 5th wine of the night was the 1999 Domaine Laurent (negociant) Echezeaux GRAND CRU.  This clear ruby colored wine faded to garnet towards the rim and appeared to be almost clear AT the rim.  Initial hits of char & smoke led to an array of aromas from vegetal earth, to ripe baked fruit as well as flinty minerality and a bit of burnt rubber (surprising since it is reported that the winemaker prefers CO2 to SO2 which is what usually gives off the rubbery smell).  This fresh and mouth coating wine had great acidity and a lovely minerality with a nice long finish.

The 1991 Camille Giroud Echezeaux GRAND VIN was clear garnet with bricking taking place at the rim.  While smelling this wine I had a bit of a wine aroma epiphany.  That familiar “pukey” smell I have mentioned on several occasions when referring to Burgundy is quite similar (to me) to canned tomatoes which I think is a much less offensive (to some) descriptor.  Look out for this modified aroma descriptor in the future.  SO, aromas of canned tomato and earth led to a wine that was soft and elegant with a bright acidity and pretty red fruit.  It was lively and round and had a long finish.

The last wine of the night was the 1988 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezeaux GRAND CRU.  This cloudy (lots of big & small sediment floating around) brown/brick-orange wine had aromas of canned tomato, minerality and cooked vegetables.  On the palate it had a bracing acidity, lovely minerality, and (unbelievably at this point considering its appearance) ripe cherry flavors.  It was lively yet soft and elegant and had a long finish.

Happy Pre-Passover BURGUNDY tasting!


Burgundy Tasting #3

Monday, February 16th, 2009

This was the third Burgundy tasting (right?) for my wine tasting group and it was great.  OK, so I am far from a Burgundy aficionado.  And yes, there are sure to be people out there who will cringe to learn that I did not feel as if I had died and gone to heaven while drinking these wines.  Furthermore, at times  I will admit that I MUCH prefer a big, bold Cab.  But Burgundy is said to be the holy grail of wine, the most terroir expressing of wines, the most exciting of wines and there are those that swear Burgundy are the most orgasmic inducing wines in the world.  In my never ending (I hope) quest to learn about, enjoy and appreciate wine, I could not pass up the opportunity to partake in an extensive tour around Burgundy’s regions and top wines.

Our third Burgundy tasting focused on “Chambolle-Musigny”.  Located in Eastern France in the Cote-d’Or, these wines, derived from vines planted in chalky soils, is said to produce wines that are light in color, low in tannins, and provide good concentration of fruit.

During this tasting we once again tried 7 wines.  3 were village, 3 were premier Cru, and 1 was a Grand Cru…

I really enjoyed 6 of the 7 wines.  I found the first, the 2006 David Duband Chambolle-Musigny, despite its very pretty nose, to be too new world in style for my tastes.  It was clean & pure – not what I think of when I think Burgundy.  And it possessed that ripe almost artificial cherry flavor I get out of California Pinot.  This is a style many people love, and there is nothing wrong with it, just not my bag baby!

The 2006 Philippe Jouan Chambolle-Musigny had a very appealing menthol, pine & eucalyptus thing going on that I enjoyed.  It also had a very long finish.

The 2001 Leroy “les Fremieres” Chambolle-Musigny, was beginning to brown (this could be due to poor storage) and was throwing lots of sediment, both large and small pieces.  It had an incredible (and very unique) orange peel aroma, with lots of great acidity and a long finish.

The 1999 Ghislaine BARTHOD “les Cras” Chambolle-Musigny (1er Cru) had a black licorice (or so others said REALLY LOUD) and cherry cola thing going on, complimented by soft tannins, cherry flavors and a medium to long finish.

My favorite of the night was a least favorite for others (amongst the things I love about wine).  The 2000 Robert Groffier “Les Hauts-Diox” Chambolle-Musigny (1er Cru) had thrown small bits of sediment and a nose that I LOVED.  Others felt it had aromas indicating a flaw (Brett) but I found it to be gamey, limey & minerally.  I thought the wine was bright, with a firm acidity, a velvety mouth feel and a fabulously long finish.

The 1995 Robert Groffier “Les Sentiers” Chambolle-Musigny (1er Cru) had lots of sediment and a now familiar “pukey” smell.  While this smell used to disturb me it has since grown on me.  I’m really not sure how else to explain this aroma, but I would compare my new found affinity to it to those who reluctantly admit to enjoying the smell of gas station gasoline.  Sort of a guilty pleasure.  The wine itself, at about 13-14 years old still displayed nice red fruit, distinct minerality and a bright acidity.  It was very light bodied and had a long finish.

The final wine, a wine we were all eagerly anticipating was the 1985 (it was older than some of the people in the group tasting it) Les Bonne Mares Chambolle-Musigny.  Bonne Mares is a legendary Burgundy producer (sounded familiar enough to me) and 1985 is said to have been the best vintage in Burgundy in the 80’s.  The wine was quite good, though my notes are a bit sparse.  Indicating on the label an alcohol level of “12% to 13%”, the wine was light clear red, almost nearing pink with tiny specs of sediment.  It showed nice red fruit and minerality and possessed a velvety mouth feel with a firm acidity.  It had a medium to long finish.

In all, another fun and productive palate training evening with friends new and old.    I am still not sold on the idea that Burgundy offers the worlds best or most complex wines.  But I am getting there…

Happy BURGUNDY wine Tasting!


Burgundy tasting #2 – corked wine

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I’ve written before about my wine tasting group.  It is a great group consisting of some core members and others who join in on occasion.  Within the wine group, our organizer Jeremy has created focused wine tasting sessions.   Last month we did our first of what I hope is many double blind wine tastings.  If you haven’t read about it you should.  But things got serious a few months ago when we started a “Burgundy Wine Group” within our wine club/group/clique.

So last night was Burgundy tasting number two.  There are those that say that Burgundy is the holy grail of wine.  Yes, Bordeaux is still Bordeaux and probably more popular, but there is apparently something mythical, magical and even elusive about Burgundy.  So to regularly participate in Burgundy tastings with friends in a comfortable environment is really a great thing.

Last night we focused on a specific region within Burgundy; Morey St. Denis.  If I was a real Burgundy geek (umm – Jeremy) I could tell you about MSD, but I am not (at least not yet), so I can’t.  Sorry.

But I can brag about the lineup.  We tasted 7 wines last night.  Two were village wines, 2 were premier Cru wines and 3 were Grand Cru wines.  These labels are classifications given to specific vineyard sites with village being any vineyard located within Burgundy, Premier (or 1er) Cru being sites within Burgundy with a special status, and “Grand Cru” being the best of Burgundy.  The wines we tasted were as follows:

  1. Domaine Arlaud 2006 Burgundy
  2. Henri (or was it Philippe) Jouan 2006 Burgundy
  3. Domaine Francois Legros “Clos Sorbe” 1999 Premier Cru
  4. Domaine Magniene – Les Millandes “Recolte” 1999 Premier Cru
  5. Clos de la Roche “Virgile Lignier” 2001 Grand Cru
  6. Clos des Lambrays – domaine des Lambrays 1998 Grand Cru
  7. Clos des Lambrays – domaine des Lambrays 1993 Grand Cru

The wines were great.  A lot of what I express as “pukey” smell.  Probably not the most desirable aroma, but something I have come to expect and actually find quite interesting in Burgundys.  But rather than get into tasting notes I want to bring up something I eluded to in the title.  Corked wine.  Yes, one of our wines was corked.  It was one of the Grand Crus (not important which) and the group was pretty disappointed.  I had remembered once before reading that TCA (the abbreviation for the infection “trichloroanisole” in corks that affects the wine and makes it a corked wine) can be removed from a wine with plastic wrap.  Sure enough, as soon as I brought it up two other members chimed in that they had just read the same thing in the NY Times THAT DAY (what a coincidence!!!).  Eager to further enrich my wine related knowledge I went with a fellow member downstairs to a convenience store across the street (a NYC benefit – they are everywhere and open virtually 24 hrs.)  where we picked up a roll of plastic wrap.  The mention of it in the NY Times instructed that the “dank flavor of a “corked” wine, which usually renders it unusable even in cooking, can be removed by pouring the wine into a bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap”.  But I had remembered reading that you could simply crumble up some plastic wrap and throw it into the wine in a decanter – which is exactly what we did…

(thanks to Susan for the pic)

(thanks to Susan for the pic)

And sure enough – IT WORKED!!!  Well, mostly.  We were a bunch of skeptics and while most of us agreed that the cardboardy, dank smell was mostly gone, the wine’s integrity seemed to go with it.  Kind of like the fountain of youth – just a little something unnatural about it.  But pretty DANK cool nonetheless…

Happy TCA-free Burgundy wine tasting!


Palate training with 1990 Grand Cru Burgundy

Friday, November 14th, 2008

As many of you already know, I got my start in wine when I went to Israel during the 2006 harvest and worked at a winery & in this winery’s vineyards.  From there I went to Napa and worked at a large custom crush facility.  Before returning to NYC I asked the winemaker whom I most respected and admired how I could speed up the training of my palate.  Feeling a well rounded and critical palate was essential for me to succeed in the wine industry, yet recognizing that I was an inexperienced taster, I was seeking the secret to palate training.  What I learned was that sadly there is no shortcut to palate training.  With a shrug of the shoulder this world class winemaker told me “I’m sorry, there are no shortcuts, you must taste, taste, taste”.  And with that, I embarked on a mission to taste as much wine as humanly (and financially) possible.

Which led me to “Meetup”.  Meetup is a website that “makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face”.  And through Meetup I became a member of a wine tasting group. It has now been a year and a half, and the core of the group is going strong.  We have all learned A LOT together, and several of us have since transitioned into the wine industry.

I bring this all up as I recently attended the first of a series of Burgundy tastings.  These tastings are with several of the original members of the wine tasting “meetup” club, and have become good friends.

On this night, we tasted Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin, a classified Burgundy region.  We tasted 7 wines, although 1 of the 7 seemed to have been “off”.  They ranged in price from about $50-$350 (although given our industry connections we did not pay full price).  The $350 wine was a 1990 Domaine Jean-Claude Fourrier Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru.

1990 Burgundy

Amazingly, this 18 year old wine had a firm acidity, indicating many more years of life.  It was a clear lite orange color, becoming almost peachy-pink at the rim.  It had aromas of tart raspberry and mint and tasted of earth, mineral and berry. This gem had a nice long finish.

But my favorite of the night was the 1999 Dominique Laurent Mazis-Chambertin.  This clear garnet wine with a slightly brick colored rim was fabulous.  A very pretty nose of berries, perfume, flowers and limestoney minerals led to elegant berry and earth flavors on a beautifully round and subtle palate with a very long finish.

Happy Burgundy tasting palate training!