CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY LES AMOUREUSES – STAR CANDIDATE FOR ELEVATION TO GRAND CRU

January 21st, 2019

Always have been a big fan of Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru in Burgundy. Fortunate a few times to celebrate appropriately with it on Valentine’s Day. In fact a couple of years ago in Boston your scribe took a devil’s advocate position against a knowledgeable wine friend who adamantly expressed the view that the only 1er cru that should get elevation was Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques (actually another worthy candidate). Les Amoureuses always seems to please me and don’t recall having had a poor bottle that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. The 2 Grand Crus covering 26 hectares of exquisite Le Musigny & more muscular Bonnes Mares prevail but there are 24 Premier Cru vineyards (largest Les Charmes at 9.53 hectares) totalling over 60 hectares producing about 2300 cases/year and 94 hectares of pretty worthy Village Chambolle-Musigny wine. Les Amoureuses has about 5.4 hectares (with Groffier the largest of 17 owners at 1 hectare with that infamous sign). There is a lot of limestone soil and less clay on this site which delivers wines of delicate intensity with amazing complex floral raspberry perfumes and a palate of pure smooth silk and lace with real finesse!

Therefore looked forward to a review of them at a dinner at Blue Water in Vancouver on January 15, 2019 and again was impressed with their quality. There were 10 wines presented including one village wine that showed forwardly well, four other 1er crus, and 5 Les Amoureuses served together in one flight. Four wines were from the younger already drinking nicely 2006 and singles of backward 2005, 2004, 1999, 1996, 1993, and 1989. Here is the lineup a shown on the menu with a few brief comments:

1. 2006 Meo-Camuzet Les Feusselotes
2. 2005 Louis Jadot Les Fuees
3. 2006 Alain Burguet Les Chardannes – This much lighter and only an AC Chambolle-Musigny but acquitted itself as delicious, elegant with floral styling. The other two similarly dark but 2005 deep right to the rim. Jadot 05 closed for the future but Meo open lovely developing enjoyable now but no rush.
4. 2006 Robert Groffier Les Amoureuses
5. 2004 Amiot-Servelle Les Amoureuses
6. 1993 Jacques Frederic Mugnier Les Amoureuses
7. 1999 Joseph Drouhin Les Amoureuses
8. 1989 Joseph Drouhin Les Amoureuses – This was an excellent flight only marred by the corked bottle of 04 Amiot-Servelle. Groffier was aromatic dense rich classic and impressive. An excellent 2006. Mugnier closed in and a bit tight but big solid colour presently lacking the desired elegance & finesse. The 2 Drouhin wines were the stars. Older but very fine indeed. They tend to be overlooked as so called negociant wines but believe me they always show as outstanding examples of the special terroir. 99 at 20 years so much potential and a wow wine that may prove ultimately best. On the night though was hard to beat the really beautiful classy so much finesse of the delicious underrated 30 year old 1989. Fine showing.
9. 2006 Meo-Camuzet Les Cras
10. 1996 Georges Mugnier Les Cras – Big colour difference with 1996 very dark. Both young but Meo much lighter. Both have that hidden depth and strength more towards Bonnes Mares.

Another quality showing by Les Amoureuses yet again. Have you tried this Premier Cru red Burgundy? What other vineyards do think should be considered for elevation from Premier Cru either red or white? What about Meursault Perrieres?


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Ask Sid: What is the Best Winery of a Celebrity?

January 16th, 2019
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best winery celebrity owned

Question: Which celebrity in your opinion has the best winery or endorsed wine?

Answer: Wow is that ever a tough subjective question! It certainly seems a popular thing to do these days with an ever expanding list. In Canada we have lots of them including famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky, actor-comedian Dan Aykroyd, and the latest one rapper Drake endorsing MOD Champagne. Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose by Brangelina often tops most lists you see on line. Actor Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks pinot noir from Central Otago would have to be up there together with singer Boz Scaggs Mount Veeder GSM. However my vote in a close contest would go to golfer Ernie Els with his classy cabernet based wines in Stellenbosch. In fact he has temporarily closed his South African winery for extensive renovations to focus on even a better smaller scale boutique-style operation. Looking forward to taste the new wines. What is your fav?


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St.-Emilion (Château Angelus) vs. Pomerol (Château La Conseillante)

January 14th, 2019

We often compare the differences between the Bordeaux wines of the Left Bank and Right Bank. Their terroir together with the grape mixes is usually substantially different with more cabernet sauvignon in the former and more merlot & cabernet franc used in the latter. However you see less tastings between wines of the leading two Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol which can be a more subtle comparison. In Michael Broadbent’s Wine Tasting an excellent publication by Wine & Spirit Publications Ltd in 1968 and further revised and enlarged by Christie Wine Publication in 1973 & 1975 these regional characteristics are well described as follows:

POMEROL: Two styles: one deep and firm and Medoc-like, but with full, silky merlot richness, slow developing; the other light in colour and weight, sweeter, more gentle and quick maturing. Each style has a noticeably velvety texture in the mouth. Lighter vintages develop quickly.

ST.-EMILION: Again has two styles: from the “cotes” around the town, deepish but quick-maturing wines, loose-knit, sweeter on bouquet and palate. Easy, flavoury. From the “Graves” plateau next to Pomerol, firm fine fruity wines with depth of colour and flavour, cabernet aroma with hint of iron/earth character detectable on nose and palate.”

Now around 50 years later this learned description above is no longer totally inclusive. Global warming, lower yields, expanded use of second labels, many more conscientious producers and other factors has resulted in perhaps more differences between chateaux and these regions but also more similarity too. IMHO it is now even more difficult to definitively define the two regions. Therefore it was exciting to attend a dinner on January 8, 2019 at Vancouver’s L’Abattoir restaurant to compare 4 same vintages of a top property from each region. Both regions have relatively small plantings compared to the Left Bank but St. Emilion is about 7 times the acreage of tiny Pomerol (around 2000 acres) with demand often exceeding supply of their top wines. The St.-Emilion chosen was Angelus & the Pomerol La Conseillante with vintages tasted being 1989, 1990, 1995, and 2001. Note that Angelus was completely under the radar 50 years ago on the far western part of the “cotes” with wonderful southern exposure for merlot on the clay hill and cab franc at the bottom on sandy clay-limestone. It was only when the brilliant Hubert de Bouard de Laforest took over in the mid eighties that improvements resulted in their elevation to a Grand Cru Classe B in 1996 & top A in 2012. The wines are sensational with a special concentration complexity. La Conseillante of the Nicolas family long history since 1871 on the plateau of Pomerol has only around 20 acres (12 hectares) with 60% on that special blue clay and 40% gravel & sand planted in 18 separate plots of 80% merlot & 20% cab franc (though outstanding 2016 has 30% cab franc in the blend). They use 22 concrete vats (epoxy lined) of differing size from 35-100 hectolitre to accommodate those plots with more cab franc being planted (to give more structure because of global warming) and maybe cab sauvignon in the future too. More vintage variable but killer treasures in 1982, 1985, and 2000. Brief comments on the wines served oldest to youngest in vintage pairs:

1989 ANGELUS vs. LA CONSEILLANTE: Angelus much darker red colour has big opulent impressive fruit of wonderful concentration with pure class complexity while La Conseillante lighter forwardly with a browning rim and quite herbaceous bouquet but quite delicious matched to veal cheek course though softer and simpler.

1990 ANGELUS vs. LA CONSEILLANTE: Expected 90A with more structure but has a more evolved look than 89 though still lovely with less depth of fruit than 89 on the palate. Excellent. The 90LC looks similar to their 89 is also herbal but rich elegant lower acidity drinking well presently in a quasi-Burgundian style.

1995 ANGELUS vs. LA CONSEILLANTE: 95A more closed but dark intensity of cherries and black olives. Full bodied yet again. No rush. 95LC not as deep as A but pleasing papery red fruits and herbs. Some charm for earlier drinking with this slow cooked lamb shoulder course.

2001 ANGELUS vs. LA CONSEILLANTE: 01A darkest of all 8 wines and shines brightly from that underrated Right Bank vintage. Amazing black fruits concentration again. Seems so young compared to the previous 3 older A vintages. 01LC has best dense colour of all 4 of their wines tasted. Amazing rich full wine with iron notes that surprised your scribe who is anxious to try it against the star 00LC in the near future.

The two regions showed differently for sure. Angelus so impressive and certainly not “easy” or “quick-maturing” though already enjoyable. La Conseillante so elegant with “iron” notes of Pomerol mentioned by Broadbent for St.-Emilion and shows best where there is more riper luscious fruit to go with that structure. Not easy to capture their differing terroirs in just words. You have to experience it. Encourage you to do your own experimental comparisons of these two outstanding appellations. Enjoy!


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Ask Sid: What is meant by a wine being short?

January 9th, 2019
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short wine tasting

Question: At a wine tasting last week our group leader went on about two of the wines in the line-up being a bit short. What is that?

Answer: Yes wine nomenclature includes those words “short” and “long”. Not a height factor but a reference to the lingering  length (and often the amount of time) on the finish of the wine after you spit or swallow a mouthful. Don’t know what wines you were tasting but I wouldn’t get too hung up on those words – unless it refers to a short pour. A light delightful refreshing wine will always be shorter than a big dense more alcoholic one. So what? It depends on the style of the wine to a certain degree though lower grape yields with more concentration usually results in a wine with more length. An impressive lasting impression –short or long- is important no doubt. However, for me more important still in your assessment should be the balance of fruit, acid, tannins and alcohol. Does it all come together in an admirable way with elegance, texture and complexity inviting you to try another sip. Enjoy.


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Reflecting Back to 2018 on 3 Fascinating White Wines!

January 7th, 2019

January always calls for a nostalgic look back to some of the best wines tried during the previous year. Lots of Top Ten lists out there. Your scribe was most fortunate indeed to have enjoyed a plethora of so many outstanding wines during 2018. Thought it might be different and fun instead to pick out a random three whites with real special significance –


Alfred Tesseron

1. Bourgogne-Aligote Domaine D’Auvenay 2010: This was appropriately served by proprietor Alfred Tesseron (who decanted the wines himself) for a dinner at Chateau Pontet-Canet in Pauillac on May 14 with a first course of Bouquet d’Asperges du Jardin Gateau de Crabe Dormeur aux Legumes. It was a lovely inspired homage to Mme. Lalou Bize-Leroy who he respects and whose regime he has strictly followed himself. She is a strong believer in organic and biodynamic methods of production which she employed in her Burgundy vineyards from the beginning before it was fashionable. Remember when aligoté was so acidic that it could only be used as an appropriate white wine to be mixed with crème de cassis liqueur for an aperitif Kir. This special one of only about 60 cases from the intense 2010 vintage showed fresh, full, powerful concentration but with that inherent balance of lime acidity of this grape variety. Well done!


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2. Meursault-Perrieres Lucien Le Moine 2016: It is always a mentally stimulating visit with Mounir Saouma of Lucien Le Moine at 1 Ruelle Morlot in Beaune. October 4 was no different starting with his lecture study of 2 glasses of Batard Montrachet 2005 both from the same magnum but one light coloured and vibrant (decanted with lots of air) and the other showing a dark golden look (not decanted). An informal wine tasting with continuous provocative firm opinions by Mounir followed (with interruptive questions by your scribe) of 14+ unique wines (including his 2016 Magis from the Rhone with 80% Grenache Blanc plus 26 months in wood). Impressed most by his young 2016 Perrieres that he compares to the Douro region in Portugal high on the hill with limestone & stones providing freshness and structure. Like his comment that “God was in a good mood when he created this site!” So complete complex balanced and long. What a future potential for this beautiful young wine.


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3. Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2008 en Imperiale: Brought out from cold storage by Olivier Bernard on a May 16 visit by your scribe to his Domaine de Chevalier in Bordeaux. Great visit with him as owner since 1983 and his Director Technique Remi Edange since 1985. This Grand Format bottle was first opened by Olivier for a party on April 9 and still had over 1/3 of this wine left in it. Surprised by two things – (a) the amazing amount of big tartaric crystals which Olivier attributed to his very cold storage in the frig, and (b) how fresh and alive the wine remained after being open for over 5 weeks. Olivier had purchased with 4 friends this Sauternes property back in 2006 from the previous Canadian owners the Narby family. Recalled the slow start of the vintage in 2008 with April mildew and how it is now being overshadowed by those ultra rich botrytis full 2009s. However this did show lots of exotic ripe apricot-mango fruit with that distinctive spicy peppermint touch from this property plus the fresh acidity of the contributing Sauvignon Blanc mix with Semillon. Amazing how underrated these Sauternes still are and how well they age – even after being open for a while!


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