Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Dressner / Polaner Highlights - Reds

More notes from the great Polaner Spring Tasting, this time red wines from the Dressner producers.

Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny
- the 2005 Saumur-Champigny Grande-Vignolle was one of my favorite Loire Valley everyday reds, when it was around. I think there may be a few more bottles at Garnet in Manhattan, but I'm not sure. The 2006 isn't showing as well now, but then again, 06 was a much tougher year for growers. And it probably needs a bit more time in the bottle. The 2007 Saumur Chateau Foquet (separate estate, same wine maker) was quite nice, a wine made from certified organic vines just outside of the Saumur-Champigny appellation (thus the Saumur appellation) and it should be very reasonably priced. But the superstar in the portfolio on this day was the 2005 Saumur-Champigny Vieille Vignes. This wine was deep and complex on the nose with brilliant ripe fruit, and all sorts of earthy minerality lurking beneath the surface. This, to me, is a wine to go deep on, the first bottle to be enjoyed this year, and then spread them out over the next 8-10 years. And at what should be about $30 a bottle, it's a very fair price to pay for wine of this caliber.

Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon - if I could swap lives with another person for a year, it would be with Matthieu Baudry, son of Bernard. He is about my age with two kids and lives in a cute house in Chinon, and he makes wine at a celebrated estate in the gorgeous area of Cravant Les Coteaux near Chinon. Matthieu poured three wines, beginning with the 2006 Chinon les Granges, from 15 year old vines on gravel soils. This is the estate's easy drinking wine, always fruity and approachable when young. This version was very tasty. The bad dollar makes it no longer seem like such a bargain, but what can you do? Baudry's top wines, Les Grezeaux, Clos Guillot, and La Croix Boisée typically require a lot of time to unwind and display their pleasures, but 2006 seems to be different. The 2006 Clos Guillot was working right now, with plenty of dark fruit and earth. The 2006 La Croix Boisée was shockingly delicious too, completely drinkable right now and a wonderful wine. I've never found this cuvée so approachable at this young of an age. Matthieu agreed that it will not need as much time as in previous years, and offered the heavy rains before the harvest as a possible explanation. As always, Baudry's wines are worth exploring.

Domaine Catherine & Pierre Breton, Bourgueil - I will admit it, I've not spent so much time with these wines in the past couple of years, after feeling very ho-hum about wines like Trinch!, Les Galichets, and Beaumont in 02 and 03. I like the higher end wines, particularly the Chinon les Picasses, but I gravitate towards producers whose entire lineup excites me. I was quite pleased to find that although they didn't blow me away, I liked the entry level wines again. Particularly the Bourgueil 2007 Trinch!, with its lovely berry nose and raspy tannins. I cannot say, though, that Breton's wines excite me at the $20 and under price point the way other wines do, like Baudry or Hureau or Filliatreau, for example. The higher end wines though, these are very exciting. The 2005 Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal was captivating, with its translucent purple color and powerful deep dark nose. Although clearly this will improve with age, I would gladly drink it tonight with dinner. The 2004 Chinon les Picasses and the 2005 Bourgueil les Perrières were both dense wines, full of fruit and earth. The potential was evident, but they are both wines that I couldn't really experience at this tasting - they require more focus and time.

And now, onto some of the superstars of Beaujolais. I did a dumb thing - it was stupid of me to taste through the darker wines of Pierre Breton right before tasting all of the Beaujolais. How are you supposed to organize yourself at a tasting of this size, anyway?!? I need to spend more time with the program before tasting anything next time.

Jean-Paul Brun's wines were very good, as usual. Although some people loved his '05s for their complexity and ageability, I actually prefer his '06s on the whole. What I love about Beaujolais is its absolute drinkability - charming fresh fruit, nice acidity, a softness and lightness to the texture, with real interest in the flavor and aroma. The perfect food wine, when done well. Brun of Terres Dorées usually does this for me, although I'm not sure yet what I think about the '07s. I loved the 2007 Côte de Brouilly with its deeply pitched flavors and humming energy. But nothing else wowed me, although the 2007 Fleurie showed well too. Maybe 6 months in the bottle will do these wines some good. I didn't love the 2006 Beaujolais l'Ancien Vielle Vignes 6 months ago either, but when I drank it with dinner the other night we both LOVED it. I was also surprised to find a Pinot in this lineup, the 2006 Pinot Noir, and it was good!

Georges Descombes poured four of his wines, and all were quite good. The 2006 Régnié was just as I remembered, very lively and elegant fruit, and crackling with energy and acidity. The standout for me was the 2006 Brouilly Vieille Vignes, which had beautiful floral mouth aromas. Very long and intense. I still have trouble wrapping my head around $30 bottles of Beaujolais, but this is America, where the dollar is worthless and we eat $7 fast food meal combos with super-sized sodas.

Michel Tête's wines were both very good. The 2006 Juliénas had such a pretty nose, and the 2005 Juliénas Cuvée Préstige is just an excellent and beautiful wine, and you're crazy not to buy it if you see it. It was great last summer upon release, it was great at this tasting, and I bet it will be great for quite a long time. Domaine Desvignes Morgons were both exciting, buzzing with fruit and energy in a dark and brooding way. Although tasty, I would prefer to allow them to develop a bit in the bottle than to drink them now, particularly the 2006 Morgon Javernières, which Louis-Benoit Desvignes says is the wine to age. He says that the Côte du Py is usually better young, and I could see that in the 2006 Morgon Côte du Py, but it seemed like it could use 6 months too.

Wow - such a long post, again. I'll have to tell you about the red Burgundies next week.


David McDuff said...

Dude, you call that long?

You're quite right about the Tête Juliénas Cuvée Préstige. I really need to track down a few bottles.

Anonymous said...

I know two guys from SF who just attended the Chicago Dressner tasting and they were wowed also (often by the same wines that impressed you). Out here, Baudry and Breton are not Dressner imports, but rather Kermit Lynch. I guess winemakers prefer not to have all their eggs in one basket.

Brooklynguy said...

i haven't seen it on the shelves anywhere lately. maybe this is a second shipment or something. i'll see what i can find out.

that's somewhat normal, isn't it? sometimes they'll use different importers for different cuvees too, right? diversification, buddy. always a good thing.