Showing posts with label François Chidaine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label François Chidaine. Show all posts

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some Recent Wines, VLM Style

The Vulgar Little Monkey, or VLM as many like to call him, is back writing on the internet. I like his writing because it's completely honest, because he is clear about his particular point of view, and because he makes me laugh. I recently read through his blog posts since he picked it up again in October and it's satisfying stuff. Most of the posts list wines he's had, along with tasting notes. This sort of thing can be uninspiring at best, but the VLM makes it rewarding, in my opinion.

I've stayed away from this sort of writing, the list of wines and tasting notes, for quite some time because I don't feel that it would be of much value. And maybe it won't be when I try it now. But I'm doing it anyway. Here are some wines I drank in the last few months that might be of interest:

2009 Bernard Baudry Chinon Franc de Pied, $26. This is Baudry's ungrafted vines cuvée from the sandy base of the Clos Guillot vineyard. I've heard that ungrafted vines make wines that should be consumed young, and I've heard the opposite too. This wine showed very well, but showed young. Not all wound up and tight, but young - all fruit still. The dark fruit was lovely and the mineral complexity was there, although just barely articulating itself. This wine is clearly of very high quality and is very well balanced, especially in the context of the warm 2009 vintage. Enjoyable now but I think worth leaving in the cellar too.

2009 Domaine Ganevat Côtes de Jura Cuvée de L'Enfent Terrible, $34.This is Ganevat's Poulsard. Ganevat red wines are almost always reduced and terrifically funky when first opened, and need a good decant to show well. To my taste, this is the finest Poulsard after Houillon/Overnoy. This was a great showing. I decanted it 5 hours before drinking and it needed every moment. When we drank it, it was clear as a bell, completely pure and harmonious and not at all overripe, although the ripeness of the vintage shows. Great complexity and balance. But the thing that makes it special is the purity of the focused red fruit - the crystalline nature of the wine is like that of a white wine. Very lovely, but now the price is closer to $50. If you love Poulsard, probably this is one to buy.

Cédric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne Champagne Inflorescence Blanc de Noirs (2008), $55. No surprise here - this wine is all 2008 fruit, a great vintage in Champagne, and Bouchard makes great wines. This was simply excellent - the purity of fruit rather startling. Saline and chalky, and the texture is all silk. It was still growing and improving when we finished it. Beautiful now, but certainly one to leave in the cellar too.

2007 Muhr-van der Niepoort Blaufränkisch Carnuntum, $18.I loved this wine a year ago and saved one bottle, hoping to leave it alone for a few years. I made it through one year, so I was partially successful. The wine was gorgeous on day one with broad and vibrant aromatics - flowers, various fruit, clean and very lovely. The palate wasn't as expressive, although there was an intriguing mineral floor and this was the main impression on the finish. On day two the wine lost some of its explosiveness on the nose, but was more complete on the palate, with clean, cooling, mineral-infused fruit. Worth the wait, and I should have bought more.

2007 Hirsch Riesling Gaisberg, $34. Hirsch is one of the better regarded producers in Austria's Kamptal region. Heiligenstein is considered to be the vineyard with the best potential, but I like the Gaisberg wines very much also. This wine showed beautifully. I decanted it at 4:00 and we drank it at 7:00, and it needed the time. Some found a bit of petrol on the nose, but I wasn't one of them. For me it is still about perfectly ripe yellow fruits and rock. There is lovely balance and harmony at 12% alcohol and it feels savory on the very long finish. Just excellent wine.

2007 Prager Riesling Smaragd Achleiten, $50. Also took many hours to open up, which I guess shouldn't be surprising. I love the 2007 vintage in Austria - it's my favorite of the recent vintages, but the wines are definitely in a closed phase. I decanted this for a few hours before pouring it back in the bottle and taking it to dinner, and it was still shut down for hours. That said, it opened eventually and the wine is excellent. Balanced, richly fruited, mineral, complex, and with a strong presence on the palate. A real beauty.

2006 Domaine de l'Anglore Côtes du Rhône Comeyre (magnum), $64. I loved this wine at a trade tasting maybe 5 years ago and I bought a magnum, thinking I would bring it to Thanksgiving dinner in a few years. It wasn't Thanksgiving, but I brought it to some dinner party, and wow, have my tastes changed. It is high quality wine, aromatic and tasty, but it smells more like !--Natural Wine--! than it does like old vines Carignan, and there is no sense of place whatsoever. Not a style of wine that interests or truly satisfies me.

2005 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Choisilles, $28. I bought a few of these several years ago and first drank one only recently. This is one of Chidaine's dry wines and in the warm 2005 vintage it is 14% alcohol but seems lower because the wine is so well balanced, and the acidity keeps it bright and refreshing. Nose is just lovely, albeit a bit shy on day 1, and the aromas are perfectly delicate. Wool, beeswax, winter herbs like rosemary, yellow fruit, and all wispy and always moving. There is a lush feel to the palate but it is focused and essentially dry. Such lovely wine.

2005 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Clos des Briords, $13. I drank almost a case of this wine in 07 and 08, but saved a few bottles. Decided to check in on the wine, and time has clarified the aromas and flavors here. Especially on day two, there are lovely seashell aromas and citrus oils - grapefruit. The palate is balanced and has a bit of grain in the texture. A bit broad perhaps, not as focused I imagine as some other recent vintages will be as they age, but this is lovely wine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wine and Cheese - Hudson Red with Chidaine Montlouis

There are some great cheeses produced in New York and Vermont. Local cheeses have achieved, in my opinion, higher quality within the cheese world than local wines have within the wine world. One of my new favorites is a raw milk washed rind cheese called Hudson Red, made by Twin Maple Farms Creamery and distributed by the ersatz coop Pampered Cow Cheese.

Hudson Red is not the stinkiest of washed rind cheeses, but it's not tame. Fresh and grassy with a creamy texture, and a pungent finish, this cheese had character. And it's completely delicious.

I like highly aromatic wines with washed rind cheeses - Gewurz or Muscat perhaps, but Hudson Red is on the mellow side of the washed rind spectrum. We've had this cheese several times now and I have yet to find "the right wine." No calamities, but nothing inspiring either. When I thought about eating it this time, I imagined it pairing well with a demi-sec Chenin Blanc, and so we went with one of François Chidaine's wines.

2005 François Chidaine Montlouis sur Loire Les Tuffeaux, $23, Louis/Dressner Selections. In a great place right now, this seems to have shed most of its sweet and tender baby fat. Still decidedly an off-dry wine, but the residual sugar is less prominent than it was a few years ago. The wine has achieved a better balance now, and some how seems fresher than it did a while back. Numbers say the wine is still young, but the intensely woolly notes suggest something a bit more mature to me (wool in background of photo represents woolly tones - ed.) I think this wine has his a comfortable stride - it's drinking beautifully right now. I have only one bottle left, and I might try to hold it for a while, but if I had several of these I wouldn't hesitate to open one soon.

That said, the pairing with Hudson Red was merely good, not great. The woolly, green tea, roast nuts of the wine played alongside, not with the cheese. This wine might have done better with a young chalky goat cheese from the Loire Valley. And I'm still unsure of the perfect wine for the lovely Hudson Red.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

More from the Dressner Tasting

More thoughts and notes from the recent Dressner Portfolio Tasting:

The 2007 Domaine de la Pépière Granite de Clisson is here. I thought it was very tasty, although somewhat reserved in its expression. To be fair, this is not a wine that I can understand at a big tasting. It will be more expensive than the 2005 was, about $23, and I will happily buy it.

I loved the "entry-level" 2008 Muscadets by Luneau Papin, particularly the 2008 Luneau-Papin Clos des Allées, about $15. This typically racy and stony wine showed a bit more concentration and richness than I am used to, but in a good way. Lower yields perhaps?

All of the Larmandier-Bernier Champagnes showed very well. The 2004 Vieille Vigne de Cramant Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, about $100 was well balanced and delicious, but my favorite on this day was the Terre de Vertus Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru, about $80 (based on 2006, but not a vintage wine). I thought this wine was simply fantastic, with pretty floral aromas layered atop the salty rocks. I want it.

I liked François Pinon's 2008's even more than I did the 2007's at this early stage. The 2008 Vouvray Cuvée Tradition, about $21, was sweet but well balanced and with good acidity, and the 2008 Vouvray Silex, about $26, was an awesome wine, very pure, with beautiful fruit, great structure and balance.

I think that I prefer François Chidaine's Montlouis wines to his Vouvrays. I'd love to test this little theory with many bottles, some friends, and dinner, but so far, I think I like the Montlouis wines better. They just seem more complete to me. The 2007 Chidaine Montlouis Clos du Breuil, about $30, a sec, or dry wine, is herbal and complex with woolly fruit. The 2007 Chidaine Montlouis Clos Habert, about $30, a demi-sec, or off-dry, and always a favorite of mine, was ripe and restrained and exuberant and about fruit and mineral and wool and soil. I loved it.

I really liked both of the Clos du Tue-Boeuf Pinot Noirs from Cheverny. Thierry Puzelat makes a load of different wines under his own label and also under this one, and it can be hard to keep track of what's what, but that's all part of the fun. The 2008 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Cheverny Gravotte, about $24, is 100% Pinot Noir from 30 year old wines on chalky soil. It smells of dried roses and is bright and elegant on the palate, with a definite chalky feel. The 2008 Clos du Tue-Boeuf Cheverny Caillère, about $28, is also 100% Pinot Noir from vines of about the same age, but from clay soils. The wine is darker and richer, very earthy and animale. Both are delicious wines, and very expressive of their place.

Many of you already know the late Baldo Cappellano's wines. I had never had one until this tasting. I appreciated all of them, but there are two that simply blew me away. The 2004 Cappellano Barolo Pie Franco (from un-grafted vines), about $165, is too absurdly brilliant of a wine to try to describe for you. A truly complete wine of incredible clarity, this left me speechless. And I also loved Cappellano's Barolo Chinato, about $100. The Cappellano family apparently was one of the first to produce this drink, a maceration of wine, quinine bark, and spices. There were five Chinatos poured, including a Roagna Barolo Chinato,and the Cappellano version was playing a whole different game. Floral and spicy, completely harmonious, and with a lingering sweet spicy quinine essence, this is an utterly delicious drink.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Loire Chenin Blanc Wine Dinner

I'm in a really great wine group now, and great ones are hard to find, trust me. This is a great one because the people are intelligent, easy going, and excellent company. And because our wine tastes are quite diverse. And also because we came up with a nice system for running the group. We rotate as hosts and the host provides everything. All the wine, all of the food, everything. The host picks a theme and decides how to explore that theme.

I like this system because it allows the host lots of freedom but also gives them lots of responsibility when it's their turn. It's also an egalitarian system - the host who feels flush can select 2002 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru wines as the theme. The host whose employer is requesting a 20 Billion dollar bailout from the Feds, and who is not feeling flush, can select Muscadets young and old as the theme. Although vastly different in necessary expenses, both themes are fantastic in the hands of our capable hosts.

We've had a great time so far but I haven't been writing about it because, frankly, who wants to invite someone for dinner knowing that the dinner and wine will be dissected in a forthcoming blog post? When I host, I'm allowed to write about it. Recently it was our turn to host wine group and I chose Loire Chenin Blancs as the theme. I looked through my "cellar" and decided to go with the following wines:

2004 François Pinon Vouvray Brut (Magnum)

2005 Huët Vouvray Sec Le Mont
2002 Domaine du Closel Savennières Clos du Papillon
2000 Clos Rougeard Saumur Brézé (by generous gift of Joe Dressner, just for this dinner)

2005 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos Habert
2002 François Pinon Vouvray Cuvée Tradition
1996 François Cazin Cour-Cheverny Cuvée Renaissance

1998 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume

I went with roast striped bass with oyster mushrooms for the dry wines and a pheasant pâté plate of sorts, including a dollop of home made quince paste, for the off-dry wines. Pear and honey cake for dessert. It pretty much turned out okay.
This night for me was further proof for me that the Loire Valley offers truly profound white wines at reasonable prices. Overall, the wines showed fantastically well. The exceptions for me were the Pinon wines - the Brut was fine but the 2002 Vouvray Tradition was just no good. Other people liked it, so it's just my opinion, but I found the seaweed/dried mushroom umami aromas to be extremely off-putting. And the 2005 Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos Habert, one of my favorite demi-secs of the vintage, was in an awkward and closed phase on this night.

Here are some quick notes on the wines:

The Pinon Vouvray Brut was fine and lots of fun out of magnum, but objectively it just wasn't special wine. Other than H
uët's, I have yet to be truly wowed by any Loire sparkling wine, I must say.

The dry wines were fantastic, each with its own distinct personality. The Huët ($26 in early 2007, decanted 3 hours ahead) was the most delicate of the three, and although it was lovely during the dinner, it was utterly gorgeous the next day. Makes sense - the dry wines need time to develop. The Closel wine ($24 a few years ago) was in my opinion at the peak of drinking. Perfectly mature at only 6 years old (odd for a Savennières, but whatever), it was full of waxy ripe fruit, herbal, honey, and mineral flavors. Beautiful stuff. And the Clos Rougeard (over $60), which I decanted almost 6 hours ahead of time, was incredibly deep, although even with the decant, painfully young and during the actual dinner, not all that approachable. It's funny because about a half hour after decanting it was pretty fantastic. It goes through phases I guess. I wish I had saved some for the next day.

The weakest flight was the off-dry wines, although the 1996 Cazin ($26) was, for me, the wine of the night. And this is an interloper, a wine made from the Romorantin grape, not a Chenin Blanc. So sue me. It was gorgeous and completely harmonious, really in a great place. Mature and regal nose of ripe fruit with some interesting petrol and earthy notes. The palate was perfectly balanced with great depth of fruit and a great vein of acidity, and there was real viscosity here - this is dense without being heavy, long without being ponderous, just elegant and deep wine. Although I am not a fan of the 2005, my commitment to cellaring my '02s and '04s is renewed.

The 1998 Baumard Quarts de Chaume ($39) showed very well too. Incredibly beautiful nose of ripe orchard fruit, dripping with mineral intensity, and so fresh and youthful. This wine has a long life ahead of it. On the palate it's a wash of apricot and herbal honey supported by crackling acidity, loads of minerals, and a finish that lingers and changes, becomes pleasingly bitter. This wine had a cleansing effect on the palate, so different from most of the dessert wines I come across.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dressner Portfolio Tasting Notes

So after the hard and wonderful work of the Terry Theise Portfolio tasting, we rushed over to the east side for Louis/Dressner tasting. There was simply no way to taste everything, even if this were the only tasting of the day. There were 250 wines, and I don't know about you, but I can't thoughtfully taste more than about 50 wines in one session.

I had to narrow the field, and so very sadly, I decided to taste mostly the new vintages of old and familiar wines. The Italian wines - I didn't taste 'em. Wines of the Savoie - didn't taste 'em. Burgundy, Jura, and Muscadet...nope.

Did I taste anything, you might be wondering, or did I just mingle with the wine stars? Oh, I tasted, buddy, and some great wine at that. I went for the Bubbles, the Beaujolais, the Cab Franc, and the Chenin Blanc. I had an hour - that's all I had time for.

First, I have to tell you about the 20 year table. In honor of their 20th anniversary, the Dressner folk dug into the cellar and set out a load of wines from their inaugural vintage. How thoughtful is that? And what a great opportunity for those of us (like me) who haven't tasted many of these wines with bottle age. I missed some of these wines, much to my dismay. Breton's Bourgueil Perrières, Chateau d'Oupia Cuvée les Barons, Pepière Clos des Briords...gone. And the Clos Rougeard Le Bourg - corked (but even so the fruit was young and lovely). The 1988 Closel Savennières Clos du Papillon was complex and beautiful, and the Chidaine Montlouis Clos Habert and the Pinon Vouvray Moelleux were great too. And as far as I know, 1988 wasn't a particularly great vintage - just a normal working class year in the Loire Valley. I'm more determined than ever to let my bottles sleep in peace...

Bubbles first, and what bubbles! Larmandier-Bernier wines are so different from the wide open style of much of the Theise portfolio. These wines are not generous, they are cautious and they'll hold back on you. There is nothing similar in style in the Theise portfolio except maybe Gimonnet, and those wines, if I may say so, do not have comparable depth or focus. These are piercing wines of great definition, and they can seem like turtles, just their head visible underneath all of that shell.

The Blanc de Blancs was opened as I was standing there and needed time to come together. But this bottle of Terre de Vertus showed better than any other I've tasted - richly fragrant with broad mineral flavors and ripe fruit. A memorable wine, and well worth the price (about $75). The 2004 Vieille Vignes de Cramant was focused and lovely with floral notes, although quite closed. There was no Rosé de Saignée left, which is tragic, as I have never tasted this legend of a wine.

Right near the Bubbly table sat two unattended bottles of Dard et Ribo white wine, both from 2006, a Crozes-Hermitage Blanc and a Saint-Joseph Blanc. I've never tasted a Dard et Ribo wine but I'd heard very good things, and these were better than very good. Fresh and pure with beautiful fruit and floral aromas, and great texture - voluptuous without that viscosity that find distracting in white Rhone wines.

Next was Beaujolais. This is such an impressive aspect of the Dressner portfolio. We're talking about many of the finest producers - Desvignes, Descombes, Brun, Tête, and Roilette, all at the same table. The wines that I liked the most on this day were the 2007 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie for its grace and purity of fruit, and the 2006 Desvignes Morgon Côte du Py for its depth and brambly intensity. There were many other excellent wines, but these are the two that I wanted to take those home with me.

The 2006's from Chidaine are quite good, although if you're used to the 2005's they will seem light. The 2006's are probably typical and the 2005's are probably extra rich and intense. My favorite was the 2006 Clos Habert, a demi-sec wine that I also love in 2005. The 2007 Pinon Vouvray Cuvee Silex Noir is just a great wine too, and a very good value at about $25. It was the temperamental 2006 Anjou Blanc from Agnès et René Mosse that I liked best of the current Chenin Blancs, with rich fruit on top of a pool of minerals, and a great underlying streak of acidity. At about $23, this is another excellent value. Rich enough to drink with a hangar steak, relaxed enough to enjoy with a bowl of vegetable soup.

I took a brief Burgundy excursion at this point and tasted through the Philippe Pacalet wines. Pacalet has a cellar in Beaune proper and buys grapes from various growers, often tending the plots himself. His wines are made in the classic style, focusing on purity, grace, and expression of terroir (read - not overly extracted and dark). Although these are not among my favorite red Burgundies, tasting Pacalet's 2006's was as fine a lesson in terroir of the Côte de Nuits as I've ever had. The Nuits-St-Georges was earthy and had wild game on the nose. The Pommard was muscular and dense, almost a bit clunky. The Gevrey-Chambertin was also muscular but with higher toned fruit. The Chambolle-Musigny was silky and more elegant. The Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Perrieres (about $125) was in my opinion the finest of the lineup with great depth and intensity to compliment the ripe fruit and the firm structure. The Chambolle-Musigny was, as advertised, silky and more elegant.

And last for me were the great Loire reds, and what a way to end the day. I'm talking about Breton, Baudry, Raffault, Filliatreau, Clos Roches Blanches, and Clos Rougeard. I think the 2007 Baudry Les Granges is the best Les Granges since 2004. My first time tasting the 2006 Croix Boisée and I'm not sure where I stand. It had nice fruit, but it was so tannic and muddled that I couldn't decide whether or not I would buy it for myself. I need to taste this again. I was super impressed with how well the Raffault wines showed - all of them. The 2005 Chinon Les Picasses was ripe and expressive, but restrained and elegant too, and complex with herbal and earthy flavors. And under $25. The 2002 was a bit more awkward at this stage, but also shows elegance and balance to go along with the silky fruit. The 1990 was gone, but the 1989 was smooth and well balanced, and seemed quite youthful, nothing secondary about it.

All three Clos Rougeard wines were excellent - 2004 was an under appreciated year for red wine in the Loire, I think. Le Clos, the "entry level" wine, was ripe and delicious, and all elbows and knees right now. And by the way, this wine now costs about $60. Les Poyeux used to cost $50. These wines have become too expensive for most of us, sadly, as they represent some of the finest red Cabernet Franc wine from anywhere. Les Poyeux was delicious and oddly more accessible than Le Clos, and Le Bourg was your high school friend's huge but gentle older brother, more into math than football.

An amazing tasting that showcased the work that Louis/Dressner has done over the past 20 years to bring natural wines to the US. Next year if I am invited, I don't care if Barack Obama's white house tasting is the same day, I'm spending the day with Dressner.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Listen - I don't always have time to write something grand for this blog. Very busy times lately, as you know. So for today, a few tidbits:

Deetrane Beats the Market

For all of the fun I like to poke at my good buddy Deetrane for his wine buying habits (Wine Commune, Bin-Ends, all sorts of "deals" on "strange" wine), maybe he was onto something. Over the past few years he bought approximately $800 worth of Brunello, mostly modern style wines in the $30-$60 range, mostly on the secondary market. Way too many bottles, he says. Especially since he recently realized that he is not interested in drinking any of them.

So wasn't Deetrane lucky that one of the head honchos at Acker Merrall, where he cellars all of his wine, contacted him say that another client was looking to buy Brunello with a few years of age under $100 a bottle. Would he accept $2,000 for the whole lot of Brunello? Why yes, yes he would. Let's see...had Deetrane done the "smart" thing and invested his $800 in a group of stocks, he would have about $560 today. Who could predict something like this? Now, who would like to try to guess what Deetrane will do with his $1,200 in profits?

Wine Tasting News

I had the 2005 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Clos des Briords the other night, and it was awesome. I bought a case of this wine, the only wine I bought an entire case of in the past three years, and I now have 7 bottles remaining. The bottle I drank the other night was the best one yet. The nose was just piercing with bright citrus and seashells. Then it shut down. This wine will live to be 50, and at that age I imagine that it will beat many a younger wine on the tennis court. Is there anything better in wine for $15 than Muscadet?

I had the 2005 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Tuffeaux the other night and it was honestly just amazing. This is a cuvée blended from a few vineyards that I guess all feature a certain type of stone in the soils called Tuffeau. Les Tuffeaux is one of the richest wines in Chidaine's Montlouis lineup, and in 2005 this richness is even more pronounced. The residual sugar is much better integrated than it was only a year ago, and there is so much more to offer. As good as it was, it was that much better on day two, when it was woolly, honeyed, waxy, mineral, herbal, harmonious perfection. I think this is a keeper - hold it for five plus more years, more if you're tough enough. I have only two more of these, and I swear to you, they will not see the light of day until my daughter is going on 10 years old.

I had the 2007 Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges the other night and it's my favorite Granges of the past several vintages. This is the young drinking wine from gravel soils, the "entry level" red in the Baudry lineup. This year it is beautifully perfumed with ripe fruit, graphite (pencil lead, for all of you non-chemists), and gravel. That's right, I can smell the gravel soils in this wine. That's why I like it so much - it's more transparent than in recent vintages, from what I can remember. And it is juicy and well balanced with good acidity, just delicious. Too bad that it now costs about $20. $20 is the new $15, and I'm angry about this. I remember when the 2004 version of this wine sat in the impulse-buy bins near the registers at Chambers Street Wines for $14...BEFORE the mixed case discount. At least we can take solace in the fact that this is outstanding wine, worth every penny. This is a definite buy 4-bottles and drink over the next 18 months wine. If you want to know why the cool kids all seem to love Loire Cab Franc, drink this wine.