Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recent Adventures in wine...

We have been working on our new Agency List for 2011 (more to follow) over the past few weeks. To help us through the long hours – and the odd dinner along the way – we have managed to enjoy a surprising success rate with some great wines.

I was a little apprehensive about the Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape 2001. To be honest, I have found some Rhone wines are almost too over the top for me – high alcohol and no definition. This was a revelation: lovely precise fruit, underlying minerality (!) and very well balanced. It’s in a great place right now and really enjoyable.

I haven’t had much opportunity to try many Californian Pinot Noirs recently, so for some mad reason I decided to order a case of Mount Eden Pinot Noir 2007 from Germany! I think it was the info about the estate - high altitude, no irrigation, mad (yet passionate) owner etc. that intrigued me. I was very pleasantly surprised – it has a bit more strawberry fruit than a typical Burgundian example (more like a NZ Pinot) but it was also restrained, individualistic and very moreish.

The Baudry Chinon Croix Boissee 2003 is absolutely one of my favourite wines right now. Two bottles in the past few weeks have both been stunning. This wine delivers everything – a core of dark, black fruits with a hint of Cabernet Franc green pepper, minerality and amazing precision wrapped around a slightly chalky finish. When you consider what this costs (about €30) it’s one of the best quality/price wines around.

I have been following Fontanabianca wines for a good few years now. We originally purchased a case of the Barbaresco Sori Burdin 1996 over 10 years ago and we’re down to the last few bottles. In my opinion they were one of the first “modernist” Piedmont producers to get the use of barriques right – just the right balance between the perfumed elegance of the Nebbiolo and the sweet tannins of oak. This bottle was delicious, albeit in a slightly rustic way – almost like an old Burgundy, it was light in colour but yet persistent in complexity of fruit flavour.

At the other end of the “modernist” spectrum was the Domenico Clerico Barolo Percristina 1996 – much to our surprise this came across as fresher and more balanced. It had a wonderful core of dark Nebbiolo fruit and great density with an effortless length and wonderful clarify of fruit. It was excellent.

Finally for Italy, we had an outstanding bottle of 1997 Cepparello – again, fresh, forward and lovely ripe, almost with a hint of sweetness, fruit yet backed up by classic Sangiovese acidity. Again, this was elegant but full of supple, rich fruits and equally impressive.

One old Burgundy to finish off – not all in the same night! The few bottles of Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru “les Amoureuses” 1987 that I have tried have been variable. I haven’t been able to find any other notes or reviews and 1987 certainly wouldn’t be a standout year. But this was a good bottle! No-one guessed it as a 24 year old wine, with most putting it around 10 years. The acidity was doing a good job at preservation, but there was plenty of elegant Pinot fruit and great length in a restrained, yet persistent way.

With the kids back to school, it was back to samples and porridge…..

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