Thursday, September 24, 2009

Miscellaneous Sips II

Notes from the past 2 Saturdays:

Saturday, 12 September 2009:

A casual family dinner at my dad's place, he keeps a few hundred bottles at home, but he is a very casual drinker - not semi-geeky into wine like I am. For him, wine is simply something to drink with meals - not a passion - his glasses are still all the old-style cut crystal sets of yore.

During meals at his place, he lets me open whatever I want. I don't abuse though, I leave the expensive ones alone unless it's a special occasion. Dinner that night was a simple one of fresh steamed crabs; shrimp and arugula pasta; and a meat dish that I simply don't recall.

For the crab and pasta, I chose and opened:

2005 Domaine Robert-Denogent Pouilly-Fuissé Vieilles Vignes "Les Reisses" Monopole - I first tasted this at an IWFS Blind Chardonnay Tasting (24th January 2008) where I personally ranked it 3rd Place. I've had it a few times since, but the last time was many months ago - at an IWFS informal lunch at La Chesa (13th December 2008; where the Doc told me he also liked this white) - so I was curious to see how it was coming along.

Les Reisses is a monopole (i.e., wholly-owned) vineyard of the domaine, on clay and chalky soils, the vines of which are old, averaging over 60 years (hence the designation "vieilles vignes"). Initially, the wine is a little tight, but, nonetheless, displays admirable purity and clean lines in its subtly concentrated ripe, sweetish lemon, pear and slight peach flavors with an alluring nuance of almond-nuttiness. Hint of orange blossoms in the nose. There is an underlay of oak that gracefully blends in. Very good structure and adequate acidity allow it to carry its richness well. Very good wine. My brother and dad who don't really favor whites much accepted 3rd pours of this - a good sign indeed.

For whatever it is worth, I just checked and Burghound gave this a rating of "90". Sommelier Selection is the local importer/distributor of this wine though, I believe that the 2005 was sold out a long time ago. What is sold now is the 2007 at P2425/bottle full retail.

2000 Château Lilian Ladouys (St-Estèphe) - A cru bourgeois with 48 hectares under vine (averaging 40 years of age), the château itself just off the route du vin (D2), a little over a kilometer north of Cos d'Estournel. I have no idea where my dad got these, I opened one out of sheer curiosity.There was good concentration in this round, fullish-bodied wine, its general character quite masculine, minerally and earthy. Those who prefer fruit-forward wines will likely not like this at all as the dark fruit, cassis with very minor black cherry ( + cedar, hint of ceps and violets) are almost totally submerged in asphalt, gravel and dark minerality. It comes off quite blocky and somewhat awkward. Decent, but nothing to write home about.

The bottle was left unfinished.

Saturday, 19 September 2009.

The day after our most memorable Una Noche Riojana, I wasn't intending on having dinner out, but my 2nd son asked to go to JSG and my youngest immediately seconded the motion. So off we went last night (Saturday the 19th September 2009), but I brought no wine as I didn't feel like drinking.

After ordering all the appetizers (2 Escargots à la Bourguignonne, 1 Escargots Miguel, 2 Os a Moëlle and 1 Terrine of Foie Gras) for the 5 of us, I ordered a glass of 2008 Château de Roquefort Côtes de Provence Corail Rosé. I've written about this rosé very recently, so I need not repeat.

With my main course of Trio of Lamb Loin, Lamb Chop & Megrez Sausage with Couscous, I figured I'd just get another glass (for those unfamiliar, rosé is the traditional Moroccan pairing for couscous and lamb stew). Eric and Cinthy Recto walked in with Mrs. Doc (Doc was still stuck in the hospital), though, and Eric graciously sent my wife and I glasses (the first one blind) of the following wines to go with our main courses:

Mystery Wine - Initially, there was quite a bit of heat on the nose, but it blew off in around 15 minutes, more or less, displaying intense, sweetly ripe, spicy dark fruit, wild blackberry, bit of cassis, black pepper, moderate (though obvious) oak and a whisper of dried thyme. These were mirrored warmly on the palate in a fullish body, the pepper and oak leading in lacing the dark fruit/berry/cassis. I figured this was slightly above 14% abv. Nice, subtler on the palate than in the nose, with a touch of rusticity.

nb: my two teenagers smelled it and could identify the oak and pepper - I felt so proud.

Because of the pepper, cassis and blackberry notes, I thought it was predominantly syrah from the northern Rhône. My wife just said it was a Rhône but couldn't say from where. Because of the intensity and rounded ripeness and drive, I knew it was young, surely from an early 2000 vintage.

Though I got the vintage range and general area (Rhône) right, I was wrong in that it was a southern Rhône and not northern Rhône and it was predominantly grenache (90%) and not syrah (10%). It turned out to be 2003 Château de St Cosme Gigondas Cuvée Hominis Fides.

Not too surprising I slipped up as I don't drink much Rhône at all. I don't buy any and, come to think of it, I only really get to drink Rhônes with/from Jojo, the Doc and Eric.

1999 Châtea de Beaucastel CdP - Not served blind. Initially dominated by cedar, pine (both topnotes) and bretty barnyard scents, specifically of the equine fecal persuasion, that wrapped spicy blackberry, black cherry and thorny, dried underbrush notes. After around 10-15 minutes, the barnyard notes eased down substantially and cassis and iodine stepped forward.

In the mouth, it showed more black berry fruit than black cherry, iodine, bit of dark spice, subtle dark minerality, just a hint of dried herbs (thyme and lavender) and a hint of dark violets. The fecal notes were absent on the palate, the wood very well integrated and totally unobtrusive. Readily less hefty, forward and over-all more refined than the St Cosme Gigondas Cuvée Hominis Fides, with cleaner lines and better focus. Nice and very interesting contrast in the 2 southern Rhônes - entertaining and perked me up from my drowsiness.

As noted by Eric later on, the '99 Beaucastel is maturing at a much faster rate than the '98. From my own experience with the '98 during dinner on the 17th February 2009, his assessment is dead on.

Muchas gracias, Eric.


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