Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tales from the Dressner Portfolio Tasting

It was more like a festival - think Cannes, Burning Man, or Fashion Week, perhaps the G8 Summit. People came from all over the world to participate. Deals were struck, friends and enemies gained, and the powerful giant that is Louis/Dressner Selections showed the world that there is no such thing as a recession when it comes to the world of fine wine. At least two heads of state showed up - President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada enjoyed light conversation while tasting through the Clos Roche Blanche wines. P-Diddy made an appearance, as did Martha Stewart. Wine bloggers, writers, and wine bulletin-board junkies from as far away as San Francisco, North Carolina, and Wall Street made the pilgrimage to this, the Mecca of industry tastings.

Dressner did cut a few corners this year, for example by refusing to hire staff for the tables and thereby forcing wine makers from small villages scattered throughout the Loire Valley to travel all the way to NYC to pour the wines themselves. Speaking of the insatiable drive to maximize profits, I heard all sorts of juicy rumors, including this blockbuster, which I have not yet confirmed but is good enough to share anyway: Louis/Dressner, in what can only be described as a corporate attack, is attempting to buy controlling shares in Savio Soares Selections and Jenny & François Selections, thereby consolidating his control over the natural wine selecting industry. As a consumer, I hope this rumor proves false, as although I admire and respect Joe Dressner, even he cannot be trusted to wield such power generously.

I had a great time seeing everyone and being part of the spectacle. I tasted a load of wine, including new vintages from familiar producers and a few things that were brand new to me. I won't bore you with notes on everything I tasted, but here are some of the things that stood out for me:

I love the Saumur-Champignys from Domaine Filliatreau. The entry-level cuvée (I've seen it called Saumur-Champigny Cuvée Printemps, Chateau Fouquet, and simply, Fouquet) is an excellent wine that delivers the same quality as Bernard Baudry's entry level wine Les Granges, but in a different style. Filliatreau's is a lighter wine that emphasizes juicy freshness and fruit. The nose on the 2007 Fouquet, about $17, is very floral and the palate has an appetizing meatiness - it is delicious wine. If forced to choose, I would buy the 2008 Chateau Fouquet, with its bright nose of red fruit and a clean, energetic, and ripe palate. This is not complicated wine, nor does it seem to be a good candidate for the cellar, but it is perfect in its simplicity. And at about $17, it's money well spent. A few bucks more buys the 2008 La Grande Vignolle, price unknown but probably about $20, a wine made from old vines in the huge Grande Vignolle vineyard. This wine drinks well young but also does well with some bottle age. I loved the 2005, not as much the 2006, never saw the 2007, and now we have the 2008. I thought it was great, with a mineral imbued darkly fruited nose, very clean, and a deeply fruited palate with grainy texture and firm tannins that will support more than a few years in the cellar.

In other Saumur-Champigny news, the 2005 Clos Rougeard wines were very impressive. I was worried that they would be inky black and impenetrable, but they weren't. The 2005 Le Clos was wide open and ready to go, crystal clear and with beautiful fruit. I loved the dried roses I was getting on the back of the nose, and the wine had such good depth and length. I would have a hard time keeping my hands off of this, if I owned any. But that's the problem - these wines get tougher and tougher to own every year. This wine is now about $65 here on the east coast. I'm not saying that it isn't worth the money, but it has definitely crossed into a different zone, price-wise. The 2005 Les Poyeux was more dense, darker, very rich, much earthier, and clearly needs lots of time. But it was also very beautiful, and at about $85, is probably worth the extra $20 if you are forced to pick one. Le Bourg was not shown. How I wish I was buying these wines 8 years ago when they cost something like $30 a piece!

I've had the 2007's from Bernard Baudry before, and I still think they're fantastic. The 2007 Cuvée Domaine is maybe the finest red wine that I know of at $18. 2007 Clos Guillot at about $30 is so graceful and elegant, but with such deep fruit. The vines are young but the wine feels wise and centered, and it has the tannins and intensity to age well. This was my first time tasting the 2007 Croix Boissée, about $35, and I liked it very much. It is deeply perfumed, and the palate is rich and complex. It confused me, though, how much I noticed the oxidative style of the wine - it hasn't been so clear to me in the past. Perhaps the 2007 shows it more pronouncedly, or perhaps I am getting better at noticing it. But the wood influence shows itself here, not in an oaky aroma or flavor, but in the way the oxidization that happens in barrels makes the wine stands apart from the others in the lineup. It is excellent wine, but I think I need to open a bottle at home and see what's what. I might be some one who now prefers Les Grézeaux, we'll have to see.

Okay, this post is too long already, so more Tales from the Dressner Portfolio Tasting will come soon.


Weston said...

PM Harper! Playing the Piano at a Event and now going to wine tastings!

Sounds like a good event

Cabfrancophile said...

The Clos Rougeard wines cost about $20 less on the West Coast. But they sold quickly, so it's probably smart (for the importer) to start at $65 on Le Clos.

I haven't seen any Filliatreau in CA. Is Dressner the only importer of this producer? I suppose there are similar scenarios involving Kermit Lynch imports that are exclusive to the west coast.

Do you find the 07s a bit leaner and greener than the 06s? I'm rather curious since you often blog on Loire reds. Despite my obsession with Cab Franc, I haven't tasted a ton of Loire vintages. The entry level cuvees from some good producers have been more acidic and green than the '06s I've had. ('05 doesn't count.) I do have a bit of a Cali palate, though usually my sensitivity to peppers and tobacco means I pick up these nuances and become enamored by them.

Joe Manekin said...

Kanye West was at The Ten Bells when we were there earlier in the day. He skateboarded right into the place, pronounced Thierry Puzelat's Meunier 'dope' and was talking about how he was going to crush P. Diddy's marathon time on Sunday! All this happened in about 2 minutes before he was whisked away by his handlers, off to Chambers Street, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

The rumors about Dressner buying out Jenny & François and Savio Soares are true.

Mr. Dressner has been having health problems since developing brain cancer and this buy-out is seen as a move to strengthen all three companies.

That means more great wines available for everyone!

Eddie Wrinkerman
LDM Wines, Inc.

Brooklynguy said...

Weston - what are you talking about?

CabFrancoPhile - I don't know whether or not some one else brings in Filliatreau's wines, sorry. In general i find that 07 Loire reds are in a style that i prefer to 06. There are great wines from 06 of course, and this is a matter of taste, but i like the restrained elegance and energy of the 07s. i wouldn't call them lean or green, but that's my take.

hey old skool - funny, i didn't see that. i believe you though.

Mr. Wrinkerman - what is your position within LDM?


Jason A said...

Brooklyn Guy,

What is the basis of this LDM hostile takeover move. I think Eddie Winkerman is one of Joe's pen names - judging by what has appeared on the internet.


Brooklynguy said...

Hey Jason - what has appeared on the internet - you mean here, or is there something about this elsewhere. I hope not, because this was a joke, and it was Joe's idea, and he promised to clear it up in the comment section, but i think he appeared as Eddie Winkerman instead. Funny, but time to clear the air. This was in fact a hoax. Sorry if it wasn't funny.

Jason A said...


I figured that Eddie Winkerman was one of Joe's creations. The only reason I paid any attention to this is that I ran into Denyse at 10 Bells and she mentioned Savio Soares. It was funny but you know how stuff on the internet quickly gets out of hand.


Brooklynguy said...

Who is Denyse?

Jason A said...

Denyse Louis. Joe's wife, the Louis in Louis Dressner. Brooklynguy, I'm surprised at you.

Jason A said...

Wait a minute, this part of the joke....haha.

Brooklynguy said...

Jason - sorry, I wasn't making a joke - i'm not snarky like that. It's obvious now that you meant Joe's wife, but for some reason I didn't put it together when you said it.

Cabfrancophile said...

I think I'm getting the '07s better now. The Baudry '07 Grezeaux was the epiphany. I think I maybe started off with some lesser cuvees and off bottles ('07 Les Granges wasn't corked, but was somehow not 100% right). Anyway, Grezeaux was transparent, pure and clean, with lovely fruit and earth. Lighter, yes, but delicious and expressive.

So perhaps '07 is uneven, but can be incredible, elegant in the right hands. I tend to like the mid-range wines much more than the basic sand/gravel cuvees anyhow, so perhaps this isn't surprising.

I'm definitely on the Baudry bandwagon now. Good to see I'm more or less calibrated with the other Loire Red Heads.