Monday, 24 December 2012

Great wines

Over the last couple of weeks I had the opportunity to taste some of the greats. If they would have been humans they would be knights, royalty even celebrities.

The likes of Lynch-Bages Pauillac 1996, Leoville Barton Magnum 2000, Leoville Barton 2001 St. Julien, Rene Engel Echezeaux 2005 Cote de Nuits, Burgundy, La Mission Haut Brion 1998 Pessac Leognan, Graves.

Yes, the love of my life calls me a chatterbox, but apparently something he likes, so thank you for listening.

Let us start with the sole Burgundy in the group but what a Burgundy.

Rene Engel Echezeaux Cote de Nuits 2005

Yes, 2005 is not really ready yet, same count for the Bordeaux's. But this Echezeaux the Rene Engel was just bliss and I can't wait to taste it again the day when it will let you know how truly ready it is. The nose was soo subtle and delicate,hitting you with fresh, just perfectly ripe red fruits all in a package of balance spice and oak. Truly wonderful on the nose which made me look in earnest to taste it, and by each sip it gave more and more pleasure and enjoyment. For all who love a great Burgundy Rene Engel is not cheap but actually still very affordable for a very special occasion, average price for a bottle is about £68 (wholesale). Now you will see that the 2005 will be very hard to find, i guess many bought it for their cellars as it will be sublime in about 6 years time.

The next wine was, Chateau Lynch-Bages, fifth growth 1996, Pauillac. Now for Pauillac, Saint Julien and Saint Estephe 1996 was an extraordinary vintage. Chateau Lynch-Bages is from the same region of the likes of Latour, Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild. For most, Pauillac is the king of reds in Bordeaux. That does not mean other regions in Bordeaux are not as good but Pauillac hold three out of the five first growths in the 1855 classification.

So Chateau Lynch-Bages 1996, actually started to get the brick brown color appearing  on the rim of the glass, which is always and indication of age but far from anything wrong with the wine. The intensity on the nose was still very well present and as with age the strength and perseverance soften. There was more spice/ peppers on the nose, delicate traces of oak and below at the base laid plenty of red fruits in berries and cherries. A wine that will live the life for another good ten years. A, Lynch-Bages average will start from £60 (wholesale)  

Now I had as well Leoville Barton second growth, 2001 and 2000 in magnums, this wine is from Saint Julien, just next to Pauillac and for me one if not my favorite region in Bordeaux. The soil has it all and produces amazing wines and still pretty much very affordable.

Now the Leoville Barton 2001, is a vintage that is totally ready as well 2001 is not a great vintage but very affordable £56 average wholesale. The nose is present and respectable, the spice is light and the oak subdued. On the palette it is soft and harmonious, thick layers of fruit and a descent finish. What is great here is that for an affordable price you can taste a great house not in its best vintage but it still will help you understand what a good house can do with an average vintage.

The Leoville Barton 2000, is a total different animal. Yes, an animal, a beast but a beast with style, class and distinction. Here I had it in a magnum and boy oh boy was there some fun and excitement in drinking this wine. It was still a bit young in three years time it will be be ready and blossoming. On the nose it hits you with freshness and ambition, seduction and power. The balance between fruits, acidity and aromas is extremely well balanced. On the palate it throws you with fruits and total seduction, layers upon layers lasting  for moments after drinking. 2000 is a great vintage and Barton hit it right on the head.

The last one I want to talk about is La Mission Haut Brion 1998, now this is a Graves wine and Graves is the closest wine region to Bordeaux, and as a matter of fact its almost part of Bordeaux itself, that's how close it is. La Mission is a bit the little brother of Haut Brion situated just on the other side of the road literary.
A production of average 87,000 bottles a year which is not much believe you me, so having the occasion to taste a vintage from this house is truly a remarkably treat.
For Graves vintage 1998 was the best in region by large.

I was so looking forward to taste this wine and wow what a hit, kick in the butt i got. It started its introduction by pure neat and clean power in fruits, acidity, aromas and pure delight. Even so this is the little brother or considered as the little brother of Haut Brion, it felt like a big boy with style out right to me.
The attack on the nose was clean, pure, powerful, direct and impressive. The dark red fruits as a first attack, with wild vegetables mushroom like sensation as a second level attack with at the base spice and control seductive oak.
I could not wait to taste it on my palate and man that house knows how to make a wine, the strong control of  the balance between the fruits, acidity and aromas was very well pitched. Overall my best surprise and my favorite wine tasted these last weeks. If it is the best wine i tasted this year, well have to be honest hard to say but its definitely up there in my top 5. Average price of this wine will hit you about £209 wholesale.

So for now that's that, but a couple of days ago i had some big bottles tasted in size and status, so talk about them next time, there is definitely not enough poem to get my mind around these wines.

until next time please drink responsibly.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

One night with Dom Perignon

The last couple of weeks I had the immense opportunity and pleasure to taste some of the greatest wines the world has to offer.
First of all i like to start with some event in the sparkling wine sector. I have to be truthful and some might feel a bit of a stitch by me saying that but I attended a Dom Perignon event and was not surprised with the attitude of Moet Hennessy, as it was all about the brand not really and truly about the champagne.

The Dom Perignon 2003 was the first one on show. We had it as the reception champagne and also as the starter. First of all for me 2003 is not truly worthy of a vintage. Champagne is first and foremost a drink that stands its strongest and most truthful identity when its blended and only when the vintage is really worth of a vintage then it can be made into one.
Dom Perignon was the monk that perfected that and helped champagne very much to what it stands today. But nonetheless things have moved on and for those not knowing Dom Perignon is part of the biggest champagne producer Moet & Chandon (29 million bottles production), of which no one knows how many of the DP are produced every year even so rumors say around 5 to 6 million. Yes it has a steep and remarkable history with a lot of glizz and glamour and DP has set themselves right at the top of the Christmas tree. We all know now that Champagne has been branded predominately as a celebration drink and that was made clear during the dinner, we promote a brand not a champagne, which was rather odd to me. But then there are so many blunt, image conscious and pretenders out there that there is no worry to sell regardless of the quality of the product, which in some cases is truly amazing.

But back to the 2003, the two grape varieties in DP champagne are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. As the weather conditions were (for me) not ideal to produce a worthy vintage champagne as the components for a great vintage are most certainly not overheating and hardly any rain, so I did not like it, there was a lack of  substance and persistence, structure and ideology and in the last 12 years with 2001 and 2007 it were the worse vintages.

But then we were seduced by the Oenotheque 1996, here there was much to talk about, with still such freshness purity in the fruit and great balance between aromas and acidity it was perfectly positioned. Sadly the wine master was on about the romance and image, which was disappointed but then looking at the crowd attending, there was no need as you could tell them whatever you wanted they were looking at the association LVMH. (proof of that was very simple, as all night during the dinner pictures were slide showing and the champagne that was on display in the pictures wasn't DP but the other image conscious champagne Cristal which in all is a much better champagne for my palate)

We had as well the 1970 DP and surprisingly for a sparkling wine hitting forty, it held a good freshness and persistent aroma. But then that was an 1970 Oenotheque and you wouldn't expect anything else. There was a subtlety and delicacy truly remarkable.

We also has two rose DP's, the 1985 Oenotheque and the 2000, which was not an Oenotheque. The 2000 was not super impressive but then 2000 was not a great vintage either, why making a champagne when its not worthy of one? Most champagne house seem to have made one just to acquire the 000.
But the 1985 was something of a ride and truly honored to be part of the lips able to taste it. The fruits were still fresh and crunchy could almost taste the berries, almonds and toasted bread, truly a pleasure.

In all it was a privilege to have tasted the variety of vintages, but I would hope that Dom Perignon would stay to its true identity, instead of the LVMH and capitalism addiction. I know that the majority of people drinking champagne know actually very little, so for the champagne houses its a free run i but should that be the case?

After all is that not what we as a humans should do (educate) instead of brain washing them with hand bags and none importance?

till next time please do drink responsibly.