Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vintage II at UCLA Extension Summer 2010 part 2

2007 Roland Schmitt Pinot Gris

Clear with medium straw color, with weak to moderate youthful aromas of green apple, green pear, white flowers and mineral, ginger snap, apricot, fruity pebbles,

Dry in the mouth with low to medium acidity, weak flavor and short finish. Flavors of palate different than what is in the nose, mineral and not on the palate.

Conclusion is that it is 79 points that it is a poor and out of balance.

Many in the class disagreed with this review and I thought it was tasting great but as we know, de gustibus non est disputandem!

2008 Bott-Geyl Gew├╝rztraminer Les Elements

Deep golden color, exceptionally aromatic, reminded of late harvest sauternes with aromas aged. Aromas of orange blossom, roses, geranium, guava, lychee nut and cardamom and star anise, full flavor and intesnisty and a medium long finish and and slightly off dry, ginger snappy character and a long finish.

It was mentioned thought it would pair it with strong cheese.

2001 Domaine Roland Schmitt Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbeiten

Clear and bright with deep gold color, aromas of classic petrol, caramel, butterscotch, developed and aged and powerful aromas of straw or hay and a little coppery , fruity parmesan and peaches.

Sweet, low in acid or high in acid (depending upon who you asked) with medium alcohol with moderate to powerful medium finish.

Flavors of mineral green apple, citrus, lime and overall balance was good. Tasted like a classic delicious Riesling


So that is it for Champagne and Alsace and now we are on to Burgundy!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vintage II at UCLA Extension Summer 2010 part 1

So I teach this class at UCLA Extension and we taste a lot of wines from France, Italy and Spain.

Our first class was the other day and we talked about Champagne and Alsace.

Here are some pictures and notes (collectively taken by the students and by me) on the Champagnes:

Agrapart & Fils Les Sept Crus NV

Blanc de Blancs

Clear, light to medium, straw, with yeasty, apple, butter, slightly anise and petrol

Moderate intensity, and developing.

Persistent fine bubbles in the mouth, dry to medium dry, medium acidity, medium body, flavor intensity was moderate and the finish was long

On the palate, slightly off dry, lemon finish also on the finish a sweetness. Taste a little bit of creaminess, lemon, apple.

Really good balance and liked it a lot.

92 pts

Agrapart & Fils 1998 Mineral Grand Cru

Blanc de Blancs

Clear and medium straw color and tiny bubbles visually.

Rich and full aroma of moderate and powerful, developed and aged aromas of more floral aromas, honeysuckle and definitely yeasty and complex.

Dry with medium acidity, and medium bodied, no tannins, with moderate oak, amd powerful flavor intensity and a medium to long finish.

Flavors with more minerality, nutty, and yeasty and less acidity. A little of baked apple, a little mushroomy and fungoid, pretty smelly and slightly dried leaves and woodsy.

89 pts to 93 pts, slightly off aromas and flavors contribute to a less than ideal experience. Some loved it and some hated it.

R.H. Coutier NV Brut Grand Cru

1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Meunier

Clear, medium straw to gold and with aromas of mushroomy, loamy, wet earth, walnuts and green apple croissant, and a little straw, cherries, berries,

Dry, with medium high acidity, medium body, a little bit of grape tannin, flavor intensity is pronounced.

Clear, medium straw to gold and with aromas of mushroomy, loamy, wet earth, walnuts and green apple croissant, and a little straw, cherries, berries.

89 to 92 pts from the class.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1987 Chateau Musar Rouge from Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

This was the last wine of the evening and it was just lovely.

Karyn and I visited Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley more than 5 years ago now and it seems like yesterday. The earth there is bright red with iron. Kind of reminds me of the garance colored soil of the Southern Rhone but lots deeper topsoil.

Anyway, you can taste the soil in this wine, and a whole lot of other things.

First things first. We brought back this 1987 bottle from our trip after tasting 20 different vintages in the cellar with Serge Hochar and his son, Gaston. The 1987 stood out to me as one of the best Musar wines I had ever had so Serge kindly offered me a bottle to take home on the plane. (I also brought home a bottle of the mythical 1968, a rain-damaged vintage that he has kept, all 30,000 bottles of it or so as he won't tell me how many he actually has, in their vast cellars hoping that it would one day miraculously turn into something more. But in our tasting of it, there was no possible of a miracle happening. :-( But since it is my birth year wine, I had to have some . . .)

This wine has knocked around our garage for the past few years and although that couldn't have been good for it, there was no discernible flaws from heat or light.

The color was deeper than you would have thought for a 23 year old wine. I would say a ruby core out to a more ruby/orange rim.

The nose was the first thing that jumped out at me. And it literally jumped out of the glass after being decanted by Jon of Jaynes. It is a mix that is hard to describe. On one hand, there is the almost balsamic vinegar of a little volatile acidity wafting into your nose but at the same time, the crushed violets, smell of creosote and other herbs of Provence balance this out. Cranberries, cigar box (cedar and tobacco together) and almost a menthol like eucalyptus were all there.

In the mouth, the wine was surprisingly vibrant with lots of acidity and tannins that were soft and plush but a little gritty, too. The balsamic note and maybe a little soy sauce could be tasted as well as cranberry jelly and warm blood, like that of when you bite your lip. Every sip of the wine tasted different and with food, it was even better.

With every mouthful, I was transported back to Lebanon for another sense memory moment of our trip. The smell of the land and of the ocean which can be smelled from almost everywhere.

The beauty of the people and the unforgettable hospitality, unlike any other.

If you can still find some, I highly recommend you go seek this wine out.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 7, 2010

1997 Goisot Corps de Garde Gourmand Sauvignon de Saint Bris "Fie` Gris"

This was the mystery wine of the night as even I thought it was Sauvignon Blanc instead of the Fie` Gris that it actually turned out to be (see the fine print below everything else.

Turns out that Fie` Gris or Sauvignon Rose` as it is also called is an ancestor of Sauvignon Blanc. An ancestor that was of a slightly different color. Almost all grapes the have Gris or "Gray" in their name are slightly red colored when they are ripe, think Pinot Gris/Grigio et al., and thus seem to have a little more body and texture in the resulting wines than the wines that have Blanc in them. Don't know why this is, but it seems to hold true.

This particular Fie` Gris is from the Cotes d'Auxerre region of France that used to be part of Chablis, and shares much of the same soil and climate as Chablis, but somehow after phylloxera was determined to be on its own. Probably not a good idea from a monetary standpoint but certainly good for us as Fie` Gris is allowed to be planted (as well as Pinot Noir) in the Cotes d'Auxerre whereas they are not allowed in Chablis (or at least to be called Chablis proper).

The 1997 was definitely one for the weird wine file. Deep gold core out to a water-white rim, the wine certainly had the aroma of an older wine, all lanolin and honey in the nose with a touch of backed pears and surprisingly a little bit of fresh heirloom tomato stem, just off the vine.

In the mouth was where the wine really came alive with also sorts of flavors dancing on my tongue from baked pears to wildflower honey with a little pine resin as well (in a good way). The acidity must have been overwhelming in its youth but has now calmed down with time although it was still pretty racy. The mouthfeel was round and juicy.

Overall, for a 13 year old white from an obscure grape variety, pretty damn good.

We have the new vintage, the 2007, but I haven't tasted it yet. Maybe I should to make a comparison?

2006 Heretiers Lafon Macon Villages

From a vintage that could be considered middle of the road, this was a nice surprise. Not a surprise in the sense that Dominique Lafon ever makes bad wine, but that it was head and shoulders above any other Macon-Villages you will ever find.

Sure, the price is more than most Macon-Villages by a few dollars but even with that handicap, this wine was great.

Crystal clear with a pale yellow gold color this wine in the nose was all lime flower and toasted yeast, baked apples and lemon zest.

In the mouth the wine was rich but definitely not fat, lots of acidity but balanced out by just the right amount of alcohol and body. Flavors of baked apples, lemon bars with graham cracker crust (trust me on this one). The finish was long as that acidity kept it going and going.

It was the perfect compliment to the white bean puree and grilled levain bread (French sourdough) with Peppadew sweet peppers from South Africa.

This was just the beginning.

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...