Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23, 2006. Corkscrews that work.

Over the years, by trial and error one usually goes through quite a few corkscrews. Some are just horrible but others have worked quite well. If this saves you time, agony and undue trouble then it would have been worth it. This is what works for me and continues do to so.


This brand from france is probably the easiest corkscrew to use and works very well in 95% of the situations. The nice part is it requires very little training or "skill" to successfully open a bottle. Here are my two favorite versions.

The "deluxe" version. Guaranteed to wow your friends with the plunge action. Its also one which I find being used less and less because its just too darn big - overkill most of the time.

This particular portable version is my favorite portable screwpull - its a 2-piece with a "finger" lever. This provides more leverage than the usual single piece versions which have a smaller handle and effective leverage. The blade in this foil cutter is not exactly razor sharp but it works.


A must have whenever you have old crumbling corks. Priceless at salvaging corks which break halfway - corkscrews a pretty much useless at this point as further pressure with the corkscrew will just force the remaning cork into the bottle.

Laguiole - Sommelier series

The truth be told I don't use screwpulls much nowadays mainly because of this corkscrew. Its just a joy opening a bottle with one of these. This is not your normal corkscrew, the quality is very good and should last a lifetime. The downside is the serrated foil cutter - I would prefer a normal sharp blade as opposed to a serrated one. The cut is just not as clean. The current series of corkscrews come in various handle materials - my favorites is bullhorn tip as each corkscrew handle is just unique - like people.

Laguiole (pronounced "Layoll" ) is a village in south-central France. It was widely recognized for its knives beginning in the 19th century. Unfortunately by the late 20th century was in the doldrums. The name was resurrected in the late 80's and is currently seeing a revival throughout the world.

Bullhorn - Pale

Bullhorn - Dark

* In the center you will notice 6 metal rivets around a larger center rivet. The tradition was for shepards who were unable to attend Sunday service while tending sheep in the fields. The shepards would plant their Laguiole knives in the ground - cross upwards and pray in the fields.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Favorite Burgundies Part 2 - Domaine JF Coche-Dury

Domaine Jean Francois Coche Dury is a very small vigneron located in Mersault. While production levels are extremely limited, his reputation is anything but that.

The property holdings are about 26 acres. The yields are low with generally high vine age and plot density. The methods are about as traditional and "old-fashioned" as one can get. Careful selection of "Organic" fertilizers (i.e. manure) and avoidance of chemicals are practiced. First and foremost Coche-Dury pays attention in the vineyards whether its plowing, fertilizers, pruning, de-budding etc... The current portfolio includes Corton Charlemagne, Mersault Perrieres, Caillerets, Narvaux, Rougeots, Vireuilts, Chevalieres. There are some reds in Auxey-Duresse, Monthelie and even a 1er Cru Volnay ( ??!!) - the majority is Mersault however.

The Coche-Dury Portfolio (not necessarily comprehensive):

Corton Charlemagne - Grand Cru
Coche-Dury's plot sits in the center of Corton Charlemagne. The soild consists of limestone and clay. The production levels for this legendary bottling is under 2000 bottles annuallly; this stuff is supposed to be amazing. However this yours truly has not personally tasted it - partly due to the extraordinary prices paid for this one (>USD$1k per bottle). Having had some spectacular Corton Charlemagne from Leroy at 1/3 the price (not cheap already) - its hard to imagine this offers 3x as much stuffing - however, people are eager and willing to pay the price.

Mersault Perrieres - 1er Cru
Again miniscule production levels ( 3000 bottles annually). If there was a plot which deserves Grand Cru status in Mersault (there are none), it would be Perrieres and certainly Coche-Dury's bottlings. From 45 year old vines.

Mersault "Genvrieres" - 1er Cru
Started with the 2003 vintage. Thats about all the info on it - have not had it. Readers are welcome to send in their donations!!

Mersault "Chevalieres" - AOC
( No label image)

Mersault Le Rougeots- AOC

Puligny-Montrachet "Les Enseigneres"
Supposedly, this parcel is just below Batard-Montrachet. In some shops it defintely sells like a Batard Montrachet and perhaps even more!!

Bourgogne - Rouge

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April 9, 2006. Favorite Burgundies Part 1 - Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py

Whenever a bunch of Burg nuts get together. The inescapable question is "who are your favorite producers, domaines and negociants". Well here is my short list. It's a bit long but hope it helps.

Bernard Dugat-Py is a ‘small’ family operation located in Gevrey Chambertin. This operation’s first vintage was 1989 and produces outstanding examples of what Gevrey Chambertin is capable of. Prior to this, their wines were purchased by negociants for bottling under their own names. Total vineyards cover 8.06 hectares or ~20 acres. Much of these are old vines and therefore produce lower yielding smaller sized fruit berries. This reduces the need for a ‘green harvest’ – a common practice in Burgundy to restrain yields. The domaine essentially adheres to organic farming methods and eschews fertilizers and weed killers. All grapes are manually harvested with complete de-stemming. Wild yeasts are used and wines are neither fined nor filtered. The suggested bottle age by the Domaine are given below but frankly seems on the low end. Given these relatively new wines – only time will tell!


Harvested since 1997, the vineyard encompasses 0.06 hectares (0.15 acres). Vines were first planted around 1930 with extremely high vine density plantings. 200 liters of wine is made or roughly the equivalent of 260 normal sized bottles. 100% new oak barrels are used. 10-15 years bottle age is suggested.

Three plots in Mazis-bas amount to 0.22 hectares (0.54 acres). Average vine age is around 50 years old and the first vintage was in 1995. 100% new oak barrels are used. 8-10 years suggested.

Two plots of vineyards combine for 0.47 hectares (1.16 acres). One plot of 0.17 hectares is actually in Mazoyeres-Chambertin (French AOC law may allow this to be sold under its own climat name or Charmes-Chambertin). The two plots are combined to make one bottling of Charmes-Chambertin. Average vine age is around 30 years old. 100% new oak barrels are used. 8-10 years suggested.


Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru - Lavaux St. Jacques
Two parcels adding to 0.15 hectares (0.37 acres), one parcel averages vine age is 35 years old (can’t find information on the other). 100% new oak barrels are used. 8-10 years suggested.

Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru - Petite Chappelle
‘The small Chappelle’ is for its namesake situated right next to its Grand cru neighbor. Total vineyard size is 0.24 (thats about 1000 750ml bottles) hectares and was planted with extremely high density of vines. Supposedly this parcel was purchased in 1998 but I have seen bottlings from 1996 - perhaps it was leased at the time? 100% new oak barrels are used. 5-10 years suggested.

Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru
A mixture of several parcels. Fonteny (0.09 hectares), Corbeaux (0.17hectares) and Perrieres (0.09 hectares). Sometimes under special circumstances, these may be bottled individually. Most of the time, they are combined into a single wine. Average vine age is 50 years. 100% new oak barrels are used.


Gevrey-Chambertin - "Le Evocelles"
Plot amounts to 0.54 hectares. Some vines are over 70 years old with extremely low yields. 100% new oak barrels are used. The Domaine states that it can keep 8-10 years in cellar but drinkable after 2-3.

Gevrey-Chambertin - "Coeur De Roy"
A selection of best vineyards and oldest vines in G-C are used. Vine age is 50-90 years old. 60% new oak barrels are used. The wine needs 8-10 years of bottle age due to its tannic structure.

Pommard - "La Levriere"

A new addition to the portfolio, the first vintage was 2003 ( I think ). From a leased 0.8 ha parcel of 70+ year old vines.


Gevrey-Chambertin - Vielle Vignes
Selected from old vines in the appellation (vine age 30-50 years). 35% new oak. Needs 8-10 years.

Vosne Romanee - Vielle Vignes
Two parcels from Quartier de Nuits (0.22 hectares) and En Violette (0.11 hectares). First vintage was in 1999. 100% new oak.

Bourgogne - "Cuvee Halinard"
First vintage was 2000. From a parcel in Gevrey-Chambertin (0.4 hectares). 20% new oak. 3-6 years suggested.

From 1.13 hectares with average vine age of 25 years. 20% new oak.

Monday, April 03, 2006

April 3, 2006 - Recent Wine Books worth a read

Since this is a blog on wine, I thought it might be worth sharing a few good reads as of late.

The Emperor of Wine - The rise of Robert M. Parker, JR.
Whichever camp ( pro or anti Parker ) you belong in, this biography of RMP is a must read. While I am told some of the facts in this book are not quite correct - it still a thoroughly enjoying read. The reader gets sucked into the wine world with its myriad of colorful characters. 94pts

The Accidental Connoissuer - An Irreverant Journey through the wine world.
The title is exactly how it reads, an almost random romp through wine world. Charming & witty at times however be prepared for more than a few "boring patches". 88pts

Inspiring Thirst
The winehunter's favorite in this lot. Kermit is the GRANDADDY of all Winehunters. Names like Chave, Jayer, Clape, DRC... The man has been through them all except he did it 30 years ago! This book is a collection of 30 years worth of Kermit Lynch's newletters highlighting wines in his unmistakable style. Reading through the newsletters is like going through a time machine.
In one of them he talks about bottle shock and how things got much better after he started shipping wines by refrigeterated containers (aka reefers) this was years ago. What a pioneer - wine merchants take heed - you know who you are. Check out the price of some Henri Jayer's wines back then!! 96pts.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

April 1, 2006 - April Fools Dinner

The winehunter was lucky enough to tag along with a friend to a dinner with many wines. All the wines were served blind. Except for the people bringing their own, no one had any clue what was on the table - a complete "free for all".

For starters.

'95 Jacquesson Signature Rose - Champagne
Nice nose initially but shut down very soon after this only to come back about an hour later with apple and honeyed overtones. Nice mousse, nuts, tannins though the pinot character was a bit less than expected. Suspect this needs another 5 years. 93pts.

'99 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne Romanee
This took a while to open up ( ~1.5 hours). Considerable tannins though everything was well balanced. More than one would expect from this level of Burgundy. In need of another 5 years of bottle time. 90+ pts

'02 Joseph Phelps Insignia. Napa
Massive nose of sweet black fruits with buttery/avacado overtones. Good amount of tannins though kept in check by the fruit concentration. Nowhere near ready and suspect it is shutting down. 95-96 pts.

'02 Santa Rita Casa Real - Maipo Valley, Chile.
Nose initially reminds one of a Bordeaux perhaps some qualitites of a Puillac though not as complex multi-faceted. On the pallate again similiarities to a Bordeaux although it tended to taste a bit too "sweet", a bit shrill and tart as well as the tannin texture not being quite the same. 93pts.

'98 Chianti Classico ( Couldn't remember the winery)
On the nose I was confused for the longest time and thought the aromas were coming from the pinot I had in the same glass. Interesting nose and decent in the mouth. The acidity and roughness of the tannins had me thinking Spain.. perhaps Italy - oh well live and learn. 89pts.

'94 Domaine Leroy - Clos de Vougeot
I had a white wine glass to put this in initially and the nose picked out something which I would not assign automatically to a burg. Chinese would call it "ja choy" or pickled vegetables. After transferring it into a burgundy glass, characteristics of a mature burg. became more evident though the "ja choy" smell was still there but no longer the highlight. Nose again - I would say was "atypical", tannins were considerable given the vintage, a tremendous job. 91pts

'94 Domaine Leroy - Romanee St. Vivant
There is a set of aromas which are unmistakable "Burgundy"and this is one. Trying to nail this blind is difficult but finally settled on guessing on it being a burg from Vosne Romanee with 10+ years of age. Very nice nose (cherries/red fruits, faint floral, earthy/cocoa), palate and finish - tannins huge present but never a distraction. 93pts. This wine along with the Clos de Vougeot were decanted for around 3 hours before we started into it.

'03 Ferdinand Pieroth. Weisenheimer am berg. Beerenauslese AP#0704
On to the stickies. Looked at this light amber/gold liquid in the decanter and suspected a high possibility of a Sauterne among Frankophiles. On the nose and in the mouth it became immediately apparent it was not from France given the high acidity. We guessed Germany/Alsace with high probability being German and defintely Auslesse or higher due to the sugars. I did not detect very much in terms of the distinctive Reisling petrol nose but that usually comes with some bottle age. I really liked the sugar & acid balance on this wine. This wine has good upside and would probably outlast most of us. 95+ pts.

'85 Sandeman. Portugal.
At this point my mental facilities were quickly fading. I would say that this might have needed a bit more "air" time. There was a bit of fine grit/sediment in my glass leading to what I believe was a tiny bit of bitter aftertaste in the finish. Good port. 93 pts.