Archive for May, 2018

15 Insights from Bordeaux after spending one week in May 2018

May 21st, 2018

15 Insights from Bordeaux after spending one week in May 2018

Always so much to see, taste, and learn on every visit to Bordeaux. My first one was way back in 1970. This latest educational update brought even more new revelations. Here are some brief highlights listing 15 insights that were definitely worth noting:

1. 2016 reds just now being bottled are truly a great vintage. 2017 are good or even better than that but more variable with some properties affected by the late April frosts.

2. La Fabrique Boulangerie on Pas St. Georges is worth the line-up for a freshly baked hot crunchy baquette.

3. Celebrated the 93rd of the incomparable amazing May de Lencquesaing of now Glenelly Estate in South Africa (ex-Pichon Lalande) on May 17 at Château d’Yquem with a special birthday cake and the mature delightful 1934 vintage.

4. Check out the diverse special buys wine list put together by Francois at Au Bistrot restaurant to match a simple value meal at 51 rue du Hamel near Marche des Capucins where delicious 2014 St. Aubin 1er cru en Remilly from Château du Puligny-Montrachet is 60 euros.

5. Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet Canet seeking ever smaller details with his latest 32 brand new amphoras locally designed and made of only 40 hectolitres in size. Now up to 10 horses (with potential for 20) to avoid compacting the soil with tractor use.

6. Philippe Bascaules back home as managing director of Chateau Margaux with key broadening experience obtained at Inglenook in California. Sauvignon Blanc at very strict selection from low yields (20hl/ha) for their Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux means grapes from one vine produces only one glass of top white wine. Saw oldest bottle in their cellar of the 1828 red.

7. Recommend Racines restaurant in Bordeaux with their excellent cuisine for a 3 course lunch Monday to Friday for only 19 euros. A steal.

8. Continuing improvement in quality at Château Du Tertre in Arsac with 2017 blend of 75 cab sauv, 10 cab franc, 10 merlot, and 5 petit verdot. 10% petit verdot flavour enhancer in 2015.

9. Sister property Château Giscours also on the improve though managing director Alexander van Beek really likes that old treasure of 1970 as does your scribe – with the high 80% cab sauv.

10. Remarkable Veronique Sanders has outstanding twin vintages of 2009 & 2010 at Château Haut Bailly though when tasted together the former is all ripe seductive fruit so delicious while the latter is more classic in style definitely needing more time to open.

11. Cheval Blanc is one of the few properties still using the old wooden bungs and burlap for a tighter fit in the barrels while it is more usual for everyone now to use the silicone ones.

12. Pierre Lurton of Château d’Yquem says quality requires “playing with the risk” of 6 or 7 passes picking only the perfect grapes. Still very bullish on that extraordinary 1967 vintage.

13. Olivier Bernard at Domaine de Chevalier is frustrated by all the bottle variation so now has put all his eggs into one Diam basket. Their beautiful 2015 white is the first one done with long quality Diam 30 cork closures and their 2016 red soon will follow suit. Diam 10 being used on the secondary labels.

14. Château Figeac in St. Emilion guided by proprietor Marie-France Manoncourt, knowledgeable manager Frederic Faye and consulting Michel Rolland usually use 1/3 each of merlot, cab franc, and cab sauv in the blend but the last 2 years saw cab sauv up to 40-42%. Just started there a two year big construction zone to build an amazing new vertical winery.

15. Since 2012 La Conseillante Pomerol has 22 concrete vats of different sizes (35-100) to accommodate 18 distinct plots kept separately. Thinking about planting some cab sauv in the future. Their 2016 composed of 70 merlot & 30 cab franc to be bottled May 22 & 23 is as usual elegant but also deep massively concentrated almost atypical in this vintage.

Encourage you all to visit Bordeaux! Check out the new La Cite du Vin wine museum.


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Ask Sid: Significant Vineyard Occurrence in 2017 Bordeaux Growing Season?

May 16th, 2018
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bordeaux vintage 2017

Question: What was the unique significant occurrence during the 2017 growing season in the Bordeaux vineyards?

The vintage will be remembered for those late frosts on April 27 & 28 which severely damaged some of the Bordeaux vineyards mainly on the cooler terroirs but often resulting in lower yields for 2017.

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More Morey Saint Denis The Hot Burgundy AC

May 14th, 2018

More Morey Saint Denis The Hot Burgundy AC

Your scribe wrote up a vertical tasting of Clos des Lambrays on this site on March 19, 2018. Continuing to study Morey Saint Denis (MSD) wines this most trendy of Burgundy appellations where two of the four Grand Cru were recently purchased: Clos de Lambrays in 2014 by LVMH & Clos de Tart from Mommessin by Francois Pinault (of Chateau Latour fame) in 2017. A dinner at Bauhaus Restaurant on May 8th served smoked duck breast, roasted broccolini, orange, and cauliflower veloute plus grilled beef hanger, onions in different textures, and roasted polenta both pairing well with two flights of 8 wines in total as follows:

1. 2002 MSD 1er cru Les Ruchots Frederic Magnien

2. 2000 MSD 1er cru La Riotte Hubert Lignier

3. 1999 MSD 1er cru La Riotte Hubert Lignier

4. 2002 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Les Baudes Frederic Magnien

Two stellar 2002 vintage from Frederic the son of Michel Magnien but both these by his son-in-law Patrice Ollivier after they acquired a new press in 2000 that produced a lovely less extracted style then previously made. The other 2 from Hubert Lignier (elder cousin of Georges) but wines made by his son Romain from 1991-2004. Les Ruchots one of twenty 1er cru over 33 hectares (out of 132 total for MSD) situated in a bit of a hollow but deep dark with impressive open nose that improved in the glass while the ringer Chambolle from adjoining south AC more delicate, fragrant and refined but slightly softer in texture as expected. Really like that Les Baudes vineyard and especially enjoying currently the 2009 from Drouhin. What an amazing difference between MSD La Riotte (tried more defined Perrot-Minot last year) Lignier of light peppery almost Rhone-like 2000 and solid young impressive fruit of 1999.

5. 2001 Clos de la Roche Domaine Ponsot

6. 2000 Clos Saint Denis Nicolas Potel

7. 1998 Clos des Lambrays Domaine des Lambrays

8. 2003 Bonnes Mares Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair

These second flight all Grand Cru over roughly 40 hectares with the largest Clos de la Roche just under 17 and other 3 between 6-8 ha naturally show much more impressively. Laurent Ponsot since 1982 a Burgundy legend with a delicious more big bodied balanced example. Potel from the old famous Pousse d’Or family delivers a Clos Saint Denis with textbook gentle delicacy and elegance. 1998 Lambrays picked early and situated in a narrower cool air valley is light forwardly drinking. The Bonnes Mares ringer from Chambolle is the majority of late Bernard Clair holdings leased to Fougeray de Beauclair. Remember this style of fruit from some of Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares over the years. 2003 vintage of much riper fruit with powerful concentration.

Tried yesterday a remarkable value purchase of 2015 MSD from Domaine Dujac that is highly recommended to seek out.

Good review of MSD. Definitely unique without the power & structure of the northern neighbour Gevrey and without the delicacy & fragrance of southern Chambolle but softer than G and more structured than C in a style between the two as expected. Try some.


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Ask Sid: What is an Ortega grape?

May 9th, 2018
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Ask Sid: What is an Ortega grape?

Question: What is the Ortega grape?

Answer: A variety used to make white wine with a German origin but grown successfully now elsewhere including Vancouver Island and some Gulf Islands in BC. It is a cross between Muller-Thurgau & Siegerrebe (itself a cross between Madeleine Angevin & Gewurztraminer).

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Australia’s Alternative Grape Varieties Show Promise

May 7th, 2018

australia wine trends

The annual trade wine tasting for Wine Australia “Up Close” on May 1, 2018 gave Vancouver a diverse showing of 165 wines from 17 regions. Impressed with some Riesling including certified organic limestone soil fresh Grosset “Springvale” Clare Valley 2017 and an older delicious textbook Pewsey Vale “The Contours” Eden Valley 2012. Also some Chardonnay like tangerine notes from BK Wines “One Ball” from Adelaide Hills 2017 and Voyager Estate “Broadvale Block 6” 2015 from moderate maritime Margaret River with that signature grapefruit combined with complexity exquisite balance.

The emphasis of a seminar brilliantly led by the entertaining knowledgeable Mark Davidson was focused on sustainability with 3 flights of wines divided into Organics & Biodynamics, Water Management, and Alternative Varieties. It was this latter category however that was a real eye opener. Mark prefers calling them Emerging Varieties but stats from a few years ago show still small but increasing fashionable plantings in hectares of: Tempranillo 750, Sangiovese 450, Vermentino 120, Fiano 110, Nebbiolo 110, Nero D’Avolo 80 among others. Six wines that were unique and quite “cool”:

1. Paxton Wines “Organic” GRACIANO McLaren Vale 2017: Lovely aromatics here with funky Morello cherries. Mark calls it a “smashable red” for refreshing drinking like a Beaujolais!

2. Alpha Box & Dice “Dead Winemakers Society” DOLCETTO Adelaide Hills 2015: Made from 15 year old vines uniquely different from Italy but so stylish.

3. Brash Higgins “NDV” NERO D’AVOLA McLaren Vale 2016: Made by an ex New York Sommelier in small clay amphora pots spending 180 days on the skins resulting in a soft aromatic style – very pure apple cider nose!

4. Massena “Dadd’s Block” PRIMITIVO Barossa Valley 2017: Different from the usual ripe prunes expected because so much fresher.

5. Lost Buoy “Sand and Pebble” FIANO McLaren Vale 2016: Grape from Italy’s Campania displays here from the sea breezes a dry fresh lemony acidity for the floral notes plus pears and spicy ginger apples.

6. Soumah “Hexham Savarro Single Vineyard” SAVAGNIN Yarra Valley 2017: All lemon & lime in a different take on the Sherry-like Vin Jaune from the Jura. Also check out their more expensive 2015 Wild barrel ferment plus use of full solids.

Have you tasted any of these new alternative grape varieties being grown in Australia? Well worth checking out their progress.

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Have you tasted any of these new alternative grape varieties being grown in Australia?

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