Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"To die for" Burgundy Tasting - 2001 Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Crus

Firstly, immense thanks to Henry aka "Burghead" and Andy aka "Jiu Shen" (Chinese "God of Wine"), for organizing this wonderful event. Andy, for his tireless sourcing and careful storage of the wines, and Henry for organizing all the "boyz", and for reproducing Allen Meadows's illuminating blurb on the Gevrey Grand Crus, and attendant tasting notes.

The juice flowed as follows:

>Chambertin, Armand Rousseau
>Chambertin, Phillipe Charlopin-Parizot
>Chambertin-Clos de Beze, Bruno Clair
>Chambertin-Clos de Beze, Frederic Magnien
>Ruchottes-Chambertin, Georges Roumier
>Mazis-Chambertin, Dugat-Py
>Chapelle-Chambertin, Loius Jadot
>Griotte-Chambertin, Claude Dugat
>Latricieres-Chambertin, Jean et Jean-Louis Trapet
>Charmes-Chambertin, Joseph Roty
>Mazoyeres-Chambertin, Perrot-Minot

Dinner was fine Cantonese cuisine at Jiang-Nan Chun Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore. Wines were served blind and randomized. Careful double decanting was undertaken for all but two of the wines poured.

To begin proceedings, 2 whites were poured - Chandon de Briailles Corton Blanc 2002 and Rapet Corton Charlemagne 1998. Apologies- I was late to the tasting because I had to walk my labradoodle pups, so I rushed through the whites without being startled or impressed.

Bottle 1 > The tasting began with a real bang! "Bah kua" (barbequed meat) on the nose, very giving, effusive. No let up on the palate either, bright red fruits, fresh cut flowers, minerals, finishing long. James and I concurred that it was like rose petals swirling in a glass. Finesse with a capital "F". Impressive and classy. Frederic Magnien Chambertin-Clos de Beze

Bottle 2 > Rather closed and restrained. Brooding, like a fruit bomb waiting to explode. Maybe a couple of years in bottle would allow it time to fill out? Bruno Clair Chambertin-Clos de Beze Personally, Bruno Clair's style is not my favourite. Find his wines to be a little austere. Much prefered the Magnien's expression of Clos de Beze on this night.

Bottle 3 > Caramel and floral notes. Firm with lots of structure on the palate, with a nice acid frame. Not an "in your face" kind of pinot. Lots to like. Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin

Bottle 4 > Grilled meats on the nose with stems thrown in. Quite green, bitter and dusty in the mouth for me. Christophe Roumier Ruchottes-Chambertin

Bottle 5 > In your face, new world nose. Overipe black fruit, big and bold. Very sweet, almost cloying. Reminds me of a Peter Michael Moulin-Rouge. Not meant to be a compliment. Don't think Henry would have liked this very much either. Dugat-Py Mazis Chambertin

Bottle 6 > Damp earth and the smell of rain. Lovely fruit infused with minerals and balanced by just the right amount of wood and acid. A thouroughbred. Loved it. Jean et Jean-Louis Trapet Latricieres Chambertin

Bottle 7 > Aromatically pungent. Tastes almost like medicinal cough syrup (Benadryl comes to mind). Presently, the wood is still a little overbearing for me. Strong elements are present, but very closed. We're probably drinking this a bit young. Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin. I have a great fondness for Roty's style as borne out in his village wines, so had high expectations for this bottle.

Bottle 8 > Liquorice. Very chewy and sweet. Not much elegance here and quite one dimensional at this tasting. Still think this is very fine though. Armand Rousseau Chambertin

Bottle 9 > Big nose of dark fruit and freshly brewed java. Lots of firm, yet fine tannins, sappy and well structured. Still young, but its fruit profile and depth, promises greatness. Claude Dugat Griotte-Chambertin

Bottle 10 > I know i liked this quite a bit, but at this point, had imbibed a substantial amount, and the neurons were a bit sluggish. Tasting notes simply say "beautiful". Charlopin Chambertin

Bottle 11 > Delicious red fruit lifted by an acid backbone. Needs a bit of time to shed its wood perhaps? Perrot-Minot Mazoyeres-Chambertin

My 3 favourites were as follows:

Magnien Clos de Beze
Trapet Latriceires
Claude Dugat Griotte

The wines were all great, but some were more equal than others on this night. It truly was a burg tasting "to die for"......

Friday, November 25, 2005

Awesome Williams-Selyem Tasting in "the OC"

One of the more interesting wine tastings I attended was a massive vertical tasting of Williams-Selyem Pinot Noirs hosted by Rusty Gaffney, M.D. aka "The Prince of Pinot" in The OC, Fall 2004. Williams-Selyem has an almost cult-like following amongst lovers of the pinot grape. The magical Sonoma region, the garage-style of wine making, and the old-world, dare I say burgundian style of pinot they make, have all lent themselves to the mystique that is Williams-Selyem.

Rusty's crew gathered in the PDR at Mr Stox Restaurant, Anaheim, for what was to be a memorable tasting. The 4 vintages presented were 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995 from both the Allen and Olivet Lane vineyards. In addition, there was a bottle of 1995 Rochioli vineyard, which is the most highly prized of the stable of pinots produced. These represented the best vintages for Williams-Selyem in the 90s. Sadly, many diehard fans feel the wines have never been quite the same since the winery was sold in 1997.

The aperetif for the night was Araujo Sauvignon Blanc Eisele Vineyard 2003, served with Chilled Lobster Sevruga Cavier Canapes. The pinots were served in 2 flights of 4. Allen and Olivet Lane vineyard's 1991s and 1992s were served with Porcini Dusted Salmon with Greens and Red Beet Emulsion. From a wine and food pairing standpoint, the beets in particular were lovely together with pinot. 1994s and 1995s, together with 1995 Rochioli Vineyard were served with Veal Tenderloin with Grain rice, Carrot Puree, and Thyme reduction. By the chef's own admission, he was nervous planning the menu because of the age of the pinots, which ranged 9-13 years. All bottles were from Rusty's personal cellar except for Olivet Lane 1994, which was from Joe Carpello, a good buddy of his.

Flight #1 - My favorite wine of this flight was the Allen 91. Lovely ruby red color. Fantastic complexity on the nose of waxy, red fruit, farm and shrooms. Given the promise of the nose, the palate was disappointing. The nose however, was amazing. Even after my glass was empty, lovely aromas continued to emanate from it for over an hour. The 92 Allen was slightly more subdued with the acid coming on a bit strong for me, but otherwise much to be admired stylistically. In general, the 91 and 92 Olivets had more structure, with brighter and fresher fruits. Overall however, lacked the complexity and finesse of the Allen bottlings.

Flight #2 - Again my favorites were the Allens. 94 was better on me than 95. The 94 being essentially softer, elegant, exuding more class. The 95, more brawny, with the alcohol searing through a little. As for the Olivets, 94 was unfortunately corked. Of all the Olivets, the 95 had the best nose, and the fruit/acid/wood balance was near perfect, with a super long finish. Next was the vividly colored Rochioli 95. On the palate, a " fruit bomb" as my buddy, Reggie, would say. Tannins were fine and it had lovely bones. Unfortunately, it began to collapse quickly, and the balance became disjointed within a half hour.

Things I think after attending the tasting:

1. California pinot from the finest producers do age and gain complexity, but should probably be drunk within a 7 - 10 year time frame, tops.

2. Williams-Selyem pinots of this era would satisfy even the most hardened of old world pinot-philes. Served blind (especially the Allens), one would be hard put to tell it apart from a burgundy.

3. The pursuit of drinking great pinot noir requires deep pockets, excellent storage, and an incredible amount of patience.

4. This tasting was a treat and would probably be difficult to replicate.

5. It sucks that these are Rusty's last bottles of Williams-Selyem pinots from these great vintages.

6. When pinot noir is on song, it is one of life's most pleasurable experiences.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

In the beginning....

For starters, the spiel on me is that of a medical guy who gets off on vino, architecture, food (yum), and more recently dogs, specifically - labradoodles. For the uninitiated, the best examples are a multigenerational cross between a labrador retriever and a poodle. More info about this amazing breed to follow. Plan on posting pics of my dogs as soon as I figure out how the heck to do that! Welcome, and if you are a dog owner, make sure to pet/hug your dog at least 5 times a day. Doctor's orders! Om, dudes.