Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cool Videos from Wilson & Daniels

Found this surfing one day - thought it was kind of cool.
Brought to you by Wilson & Daniels (US importer for the Domains). You might have to click the play/pause button a few times to get it going.

Domaine Leflaive: A Path to Follow from Wilson Daniels on Vimeo.

Domaine Pierre Morey: Generations in Harmony from Wilson Daniels on Vimeo.

House of Champagne Salon: A Century of Singularity from Wilson Daniels on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Henri Jayer, Meo Camuzet & Emmanuel Rouget - what's the connection

These 3 producers often seem intertwined together and spoken in the same breath. What is the relationship here? Well, another walk down history is in order.

Henri Jayer was born in Vosne Romanee in 1922. In the late 1930's Henri helped his father Eugene tend the vineyards and in 1942 married Marcelle Rouget. Right at the end of WWII, Henri Jayer made a deal with the Camuzet family to tend their Premier Cru and Grand Cru parcels and produce wine for them. The catch was that Henri would keep 50%  under his own labels. Among these vineyards were Echezeaux, Richebourg and the famed Cros Parantoux 1er Cru.

 Cros Parantoux was born in 1978 solely due to the efforts of Henri Jayer and alot of dynamite!! Location-wise it is sandwiched in between "Le Barreaux" on top, Richebourg below and "Le Petite Mons" to the left of it.  Stylistically it has more than a passing resemblance to Richebourg.

Starting in the late '80s Jean-Nicolas Meo started working the Meo-Camuzet plots under Henri Jayer's tutelage. In the mid '90s due to the absurd French Pension laws, Henri Jayer ended up renting out most of his vineyards to his nephew - Emmanuel Rouget.  While Henri Jayer is said to have retired by the late '90s - he did produce bottles with his own label a little bit longer after that ( up until 2001). At the same time, it is rumored that he occasionally lent a helping hand to his newphew - uncle Henri just couldn't really retire. Having tried several of Rouget's wines over various vintages and vineyards. I am convinced there are some "special" Rouget bottles.... often in unexpected/challenging vintages.

So there you go - Jayer, Meo-Camuzet and Rouget - that's the connection.

Oh yeah and one last thing - The winehunter is back!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

神の雫 - The 12 disciples so far


For those who have been following the ongoing Japanese Manga Series you know what I'm talking about. Well, I was a bit frustrated trying to find a convenient place to keep track of the "12 disciples" appearing in the series ( 5 have shown themselves so far) - s0 hear it is. Will update this as they appear. In the meantime here you go!

1. 2001 - George Roumier Chambolle Musigny Amoureuses 
2. 1999 - Chateau Palmer 
3. 2000 - Domaine Pegau Cuvee de Capo
4. 1994 - Chateau Lafleur
5. 2000 - Michell Colin Deleger - Chevalier Montrachet

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 2, 2008. Burgundy tasting of the year (probably)

Sometimes, we just don't know how good we have it. May 28th was such a day. An incredible lineup of wines. If that wasn't enough Alan Meadows aka the Burghound was present to talk us through these wines. I will not bore you with individual tasting notes but just suffice to say that there were some great wines - it's just that side by side you begin to split hairs.
  • Chambertin and Musigny are definitely a cut above Grand Echezeaux. Just more complex. This statement is probably heresy to some and completely obvious to others. Can't win.
  • Comte de Vogue Musigny is variable and I'm not sure it's quite all there. Something to mull over given the high prices.
  • On the other hand the 1990 Musigny is a butterfly finally coming out of it's 18 year cocoon. This will need another 7-10 years? - but it's a knockout.
  • Armand Rosseau Chambertin. Amazing wine, year after year.
  • Best white of the night '99 CM. Some people liked the '90 but to me that shouldn't be what a CM is about - a little too much flabbiness not enough acidity and minerality. The '96 was a close second - perhaps an off bottle but tonight at least the '99 won on the nose.
  • Best red of the night was '90 Rosseau Chambertin. On the other hand I think in due time the '90 Musigny will be incredible and possibly better.
Here is the list:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30, 2008. Small New Zealand Wineries Part 5. Himmelsfeld Vineyard

In this final part of this series, I would like to introduce readers to an extremely small winery which pays serious attention to their vines. Himmelsfeld vineyard began in 1991 when owner Elizabeth(Beth) Eggars decided to try something else besides nursing. Nestled on a gentle hill in Upper Moutere, the 10.5ha property has about 1.5ha dedicated to growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (roughly equal split). The rest of the land is still home to an apple orchard and many sheep!

Total production for all wines is roughly about 600+ cases so odds are you will not see this too often overseas. In fact, don't think we saw it in shops while in New Zealand either.

Of the many wineries visited - Beth struck me as one who puts emphasis on the Vineyard first and wine making second. She is adamant that "great wines are made in the vineyard", something which I hear echoed in the most zealous ( and coincidentally top notch) Burgundy producers. Her vineyard is the first one I have seen in New Zealand which does not "irrigate" - yes you heard it right - no irrigation. It was deemed that a deeper vine root system was preferable over "immediate results" and irrigation did not encourage this.

2002 Himmelsfeld Moutere Chardonnay

Hints of citrus fruits and what is the beginning of some secondary aromas coming from the oak. Defintely French oak and probably not new oak either. Not as tight in terms of acidity which I suspect means it should be consumed within 3-5 years. 90 points.

2002 Himmelsfeld Moutere Cabernet
Already achieving some secondary aromas, black and red fruits, not an inky black monster by any measures & soft smooth tannins. The core of the mid palate however shows some lightness in density indicating perhaps rain - grape bloat? Other than that a very nice wine but do not expect this to get much better and should be consumed within 3 perhaps 5 years. 90 points.

2003 Himmelsfeld Mouter Noble Chardonnay
Of the wines offered for tasting this is probably the got me excited the most. I am thinking this is comparable to top level Alsace SGN's but it also has that acidity which lifts the whole thing up. Defintely something I would be very curious to try again in 10-15 years - think this will be a knockout. 96+ points

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008. Small NZ Wineries Part 4. Ruby Bay Vineyard

Established in 2002 by Sam and Audrey Watt from what was an apple orchard, this small vineyard makes microscopic amounts of wine. We found this place mainly due to the attractive accommodations but the wines are something of a surprise bonus. The vineyard currently spans over 5 hectares with vine densities of 2600 vines per hectare. The soil here is predominantly clay from the Moutere area. What I would really like to highlight here is their 2007 SV Sauvignon Blanc which is one of the best expressions of New Zealand SB I have had this trip and perhaps the top handful I have had from New Zealand. Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm not going to mince words here - if what you want is a light, tart and aromatic quaffing wine then this is not it. Sometimes, I am convinced that the British wine trade wants to box in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc as aromatic, tart thin thirst quenchers to serve before the serious wines- bullocks. If that's what people think will sell then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This starts with an explosion of intense aromatic fruity & zesty fireworks. It is then followed in the mouth by intensity, density & concentrated nectar with a lingering finish. This has character, guts and strength. The fruit were late picked (by hand) and yielded 2.5 ton/acre (quite amazingly low yields for this grape and the region). 92+ Points

In a tasting of her wines, Audrey Watt put the Sauvignon Blanc last as she was afraid it would dominate if it was first. In most other shops the SB is invariably first to taste. She also told me that the wine judges didn't know what to make of her Sauvignon Blanc - I can see why it's totally out of their comfort zone and hit the ball way outside the park.

Production levels for 2007:

Chardonnay (168 cases).
Pinot Gris (44 cases)
Pinot Noir (100 cases)
Sauvignon Blanc ( 150 cases)
Riesling ( 150 cases)

Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008. New Zealand Wineries Part 3 - Woollaston

This one is not exactly a small winery and definitely a bit more flashy than many others. Woollaston Estates was formed in 2000 - with some creative passion. You can see that in the design of the winery building itself as well as the myriad pieces of art and sculptures around. This one is worth going to just to check out the architecture. While I cannot say that I was impressed with most of their offerings - one did stand out to me and that was their Pinot Noir. Vines are still young but there is a balance here which I find lacking in many others. This is one of the better Pinot if not the best I tried on this trip.

Looking at a design of their winery it seems to be designed around letting gravity lead the flow through the winemaking process . This can only mean it was designed around the careful handling of Pinot Noir. To me, you can taste a big difference in quality between the Pinot and their other wines. It was as if the other wines were intended for bulk sale in order to finance the winery and perfecting the Pinot.

2007 Nelson Pinot Noir. Black cherries, some depth might be due to clay soil with "good/smooth" tannins and a decent finish. 89 points

Winery schematic : http://www.woollaston.co.nz/winery/interactive-map

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Small New Zealand Wineries Part 2

Clos Henri is a relatively new entrant to the Wairau valley of the Marlborough wine growing region. This property is also located close to Renwick and is actually opened by the Bourgeois family from the Sancerre region in France. The first vines were planted in 2001 with emphasis on bringing out the terroir. There are a multitudes of soils here but they essentially are either clay based or rocky riverbed. Their "Bel Echo" offerings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir show definite minerality and bely the rocky riverbed soil which it was planted on. The "Clos Henri" series on the other hand definitely is more earthy, rich and deep being planted on predominantly clay. Of all the wines tasted in this region - these wines strike me as the most "terroir transparent" I have tried so far.

Their vine planting densities are some of the highest around here of around 5000 vines per hectare. I have high hopes for this property in the future as their vines begin to acquire age and more experience is gained each year on the boundaries of each specific "terroir".

There is definite potential here for these wines - give the vines some age, more experience with the soil and LOWER YIELDS. If there is one sticking point it's the yields which tend to be on the higher end. At ~50 Hl/Ha, this is just too high to produce anythng worthy of the "ultra-premium" status and certainly world class. To get there, we are going to have to drop fruit yields by 30% or more so let's watch this space - it's a great start.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Small New Zealand Wineries Part 1

Te Whare Ra ( "Tee Faree Ra" is supposed to mean house in the Sun in Maori) is based in Marlborough New Zealand. This is on the south Island in the town of Renwick which is host to quite a few wineries including Cloudy Bay, Montana etc...

Established in 1979, this small boutique winery probably has some of the oldest vines in the area. In 2003, the husband and wife team of Jason & Anna Flowerday took the helm and have significantly upgraded various aspects of the winery. Although offering a Pinot Noir, IMHO they are a white wine producer with offerings mainly from Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, Gerwurztraminer and Chardonnay. It's their aromatic wines which to me show their stuff here. Current size of the vineyards ~9 hectares with many coming from the older vines planted in 1979 ( almost 30 years ago) - I was told the Gerwurztraminer. Fruit is basically hand sorted and picked - now we are talking.

Cutting to the chase, my favorite wines from their lineup would be the "Toru" bottling and their Gerwurztraminer.

The "Toru" is a blend of several aromatic grape varietals consiting of Riesling, Gerwurztraminer and Pinot Gris. While tasting this wine, images of a picnic & grilled seafood keep popping up - probably my mind telling me that's where I should be with this. 89 points

The 2007 Gerwurztraminer to me is a standout here. The concentration and flavor in here just screams of old vines and low yields. The typical Lychee notes were present although not overpowering, minerals, hints of sweetness from the fruit with 22g/l of residual sugar - nice finish ( the wine was still going strong after being opened more than 24 hours). The best thing to compare this to would be an Alsatian Gewurtz VT. 92+ points

These guys deserve some room in your cellar.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 17, 2008. Chateauneuf Du Pape followup.

A bit more than 1/2 year ago, we were in Chateauneuf du Pape. Anyway long story short. The sommelier at Beaucastel came up with a short video clip to explain the varietals and the philosophy going into CdP and Beaucastel in particular. Enjoy


P.S. Just got back from the South Island of NZ so expect something here on wines from Malborough and Nelson areas.