Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July Wines - a Laundry List

Here are some notes on great wines that I was lucky to drink in July, mostly because of the generosity of friends:

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Fino Nº 24, $60, Eric Solomon Selections/Imported by European Cellars. This is what we drank with the pasta and artichokes in the previous post, and it was a shockingly good pairing with the pungent dish. Deep golden in color and showing both flor character and the rich and slightly oxidative notes of a young Amontillado, the wine is beautifully harmonious and made me think of the best salted caramel. It is actually a Fino/Amontillado, a wine that is old en0ugh so that the flor has started to die and the wine is beginning to become an Amontillado. Fino/Amontillado is not allowed to be labeled as such, and so the wine is called Fino. It comes from an old solera at Bodega Perez Barquero in Montilla-Moriles, further inland than Jerez and a place where Pedro Ximenez is used to make Sherry, not Palomino. Fantastic wine and worth searching out.

Valdespino Palo Cortado Cardenal, price unknown, not imported. Valdespino makes several special Sherries from extremely old wines, and this very fine Palo Cortado is one of them. The wines are at least 80 years old, and began life in the Inocente solera. As they aged and moved toward Amontillado they were selected out of the solera, ironically because of something that indicated to the cellar master that they would not be typical and great Valdespino Amontillado. But they are still great wines and become one of the absolutely iconic Palo Cortados in all of Sherry. Peter Liem tells me that this wine is rare and highly regarded enough that if you were to open a bottle for a Sherry lover in Spain, their eyes would bulge in anticipation. Cardenal is a 375 ml bottle and it takes time to truly open up, perhaps several days. I can tell you that on the fourth day it was majestic, and it would be silly for me to try to describe the aromas and flavors. All I can say is that it was among the most complex and fascinating Sherries that I have ever had.

Bodegas Hidalgo Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana, $24, Imported by Classical Wines. Single vineyard Manzanilla Pasada from the house that produces La Gitana. This can be very lovely wine, and this bottle was excellent, with brisk fresh flavors and prominent minerality. It is complex and pairs very well with a variety of foods, and the saline finish is very refreshing. I have experienced some bottle variation, however, and it's probably a good idea to buy when your retailer has a fresh batch.

2006 Rudi Pichler Riesling Federspiel, price unknown ($59 on a restaurant wine list). Absolutely delicious and memorable to me because of the incredible clarity with which it tasted of fresh juicy yellow plums. Clean and very pure, a bit waxy, very mineral, very graceful and balanced, a true pleasure to drink. And perfect with weisswurst. Why don't I have wine like this in my cellar?

2003 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese, price unknown, Terry Theise Selections/Imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. This was simply delicious wine, and as my experienced Riesling friends who shared it with me explained, in the context of the very hot 2003 vintage, this wine is remarkable. I loved the tactile sensation I got on the palate, and the very pretty floral aromas, like violets or geraniums. Intense wine, and still gentle. I'd like to taste a version of this from a more "normal" vintage.

2009 Guy Bossard Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Expression de Granite, $18, Chartrand Imports. At this point, my favorite Muscadet of the 2009 vintage. This wine is just so good! A bit rich, but that's the vintage, and the wine handles it perfectly, with well defined aromas of anise seed, citrus, and stone. Great balance and already showing some complexity on the palate, the wine is very delicious and shows good acidity and a lovely lingering finish that comes back to anise seed. One of the under-appreciated wines of the world, I would say.

NV Dosnon & Lepage Champagne Brut Recolte Noire, about $55, JD Headrick Selections. I was shocked at how good this wine was. Not because I had low expectations, but because I thought it was pretty fantastic wine. This producer and this particular wine was recently lauded by Eric Asimov in an article about the wines of the Aube. Vibrantly aromatic red fruit with earthy bass notes, great balance, very long and vivid on the finish. Absolutely delicious and I would say a terrific value in the world of Blanc de Noirs Champagne. Honestly, if you like Champagne, try this wine.

NV Jacques Selosse Aÿ La Côte Faron, price unknown, not imported (I think). Very lucky to have the opportunity to drink this wine, a single vineyard wine based on 2003 but containing 60% of wines from vintages back to 1994 from something of a mini-solera. There are producers who make wine in the Selosse style, but the more experience I have with these wines, the more clearly I see that Selosse's wines cannot be imitated. A complete wine - rich and ample, brilliantly detailed, fresh and lively, oxidative and mature, deeply complex and very mineral. It feels both dry and sweetly fruited at the same time, if that makes any sense. Compelling and delicious wine.


Lindsay Ronga said...

Great list of wines. Will have to try some of these babies. We distribute the Dosnon & Lepage in NY & NJ. Truly a star. But will surely seek out the others to taste. Thanks for the post. Linds

Do Bianchi said...

dude, where are the Italians!!!??? I must come to see you in NYC soon!

SO freakin' envious of the Selosse...

We raised a glass to you the other night at Bahia. It was filled with 96 Fleury... the official beverage of Bahia (no kiddin', our friend John Rikkers brought it).

Peter said...

Did somebody say Italians? I have a few things here with your name on them...

Douglas said...

Guy Bossard is a rule breaker, one of those winemakers that make you question the utility of scoring wines. Personally, I think the Domaine de la Louvetrie "Hermine d'Or" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2009 and the Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sevre et Maine Le "L" D'Or 2009 are "better" wines from the 2009 vintage, in that they have more depth, better balance, etc. But are they more interesting? I'm not sure they are, and that is what makes the Expression de Granite special, and makes you wonder if all wine rating systems are fraudulent. Apparently, the Domaine de l'Ecu has been up for sale. Does anyone know if a sale has been completed?