Thursday, December 13, 2007

Notes from a Sunday

Sunday’s seem to be ideal for getting together with friends to relax, cook a good meal and sit back and taste. Our host for the most recent edition of Sunday Evening Tasting was eager to prepare various cuts of the half a lamb he’d procured from a local farm (already “processed,” mind you) and equally ready and willing to sample some bottles he’d recently ordered from Chambers Street Wines. I countered with a few things from my cellar, just to make sure it wouldn’t be a one-importer night. The proceedings:

Champagne “Les Vignes de Vrigny” Premier Cru Brut, Egly-Ouriet NV
“Issu de Vignes de Pinot Meunier situées sur le Terroir de Vrigny”
This one was calling my name from its place on the shelf during my last visit to Chambers Street. I’ve long dug the Champagnes of Egly-Ouriet but I’d never come across a bottle of this, a cuvée made from 100% Pinot Meunier – the decided underdog in the Champagne triptych. Aromas of peach and brioche were carried by a brisk, fine mousse. Fresh apricot, clover blossoms, hay and a hint of orange oil unfurled in the mouth. ‘Twas fruit forward and round, with perfect balance and a long finish. Though not the most elegant Champagne out there, this was damn tasty and represents a solid QPR.

Egly-Ouriet is to be saluted for noting the lees-time and disgorgement date (respectively 36 months and July 2006 for our bottle) on the back of every one of their wines. If only every house would follow suit, especially with their basic NV bottlings. But then everyone would know how much stale bubbly is floating around the market….
$42. 12.5% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Michael Skurnik Imports.

Cour-Cheverny “Cuvée Renaissance,” Le Petit Chambord (François Cazin) 2004
I had just read about the 2002 vintage of this wine on Brooklynguy’s blog, so I was pleasantly surprised when the 2004 showed up in our line-up for the evening. “Cuvée Renaissance” is Cazin’s demi-sec bottling, produced only in vintages which give adequate ripeness, helped along by either botrytis or passerillage. The wine’s sweetness is both forward and graceful, delivering guava, limestone and lemon curd, all cut through by bright acidity. A little whiff of lavender emerged as the wine’s aromas curled up through the sinuses. This is not terribly complex at the moment but is still showing very youthful structure. It should be interesting to revisit in another three to five years.
$18. 13% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections.

Cour-Cheverny, Le Petit Chambord (François Cazin) 2006
I’ll be more than happy to make due with Cazin’s regular Cour-Cheverny while waiting for the “Renaissance” to come into its own. The sec cuvée is nervier in feel and more subtly perfumed than its semi-sticky brother. Bananas, golden delicious apples, honeysuckle and acacia all emerged on the nose, supplemented by distinct and racy minerality on the palate.
$15. 14% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections.

Coteaux du Loir “Rouge Gorge,” Domaine de Bellivière 2005
Pinot what? That’s Pineau d’Aunis, baby! This is idiosyncratic juice; varietal Pinot d’Aunis from the northern Touraine AOC of Coteaux du Loir, where Eric Nicolas’ Domaine de Bellivière occupies nine hectares of the tiny CdL and Jasnières vignobles. Black pepper – unmistakably – jumps from the glass, along with what strikes me as the scent of fresh haricots verts. One of my companions also noted a certain air of the auto shop; I couldn’t argue. Rustic, oddball and absolutely delicious. I’m usually pretty tuned in to alcoholic strength, but the 15% this was packing snuck right by, a virtue perhaps of its slightly cool serving temperature.
$23. 15% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections.

Coteaux du Loir “Hommage à Louis Derré,” Domaine de Bellivière 2005
“Hommage à Louis Derré” is Bellivière’s more ambitious bottling of Coteaux du Loir, again a varietal expression of Pineau d’Aunis. It has a more tannic structure, bolstered by a bit of oak that lends aromas of baking spices. The black pepper and string beans still come out to play, joined by thyme and black cherries. There’s a bit more nuance, along with deeper concentration, but the alcohol, even though labeled as lower than the “Rouge Gorge,” displays some heat on the finish. Wide-knit tannins provide a seriously mouth wakening charge.
$33. 14.5% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Louis/Dressner Selections.

Graves, Château du Grand Bos 1997
I’ve noticed bottle variation with the ’97 Graves from Grand Bos in the past; this bottle fell on the down side of the curve, I’m afraid. I kept thinking there was a background whiff of cork taint but nope, it just wasn’t showing well. Red cassis and a leathery, herbaceous character were all wrapped up in a damp, clay-like sense. I’d hoped this would be a great match with our final course of pan-grilled lamb chops, as a bottle on the up side of the curve should have been. No such luck. But hey, it led us on to a good red Burg which might otherwise have gone unopened.
$23. 12.5% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Wine Traditions.

Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru “Les Macherelles” (Rouge), Jean-Marc Pillot 2000
I picked this up during a visit to Rosenthal Wine Merchants back in the spring. I was taken by surprise by this bottle, not because it didn’t show Chassagne typicity but because it wasn’t nearly as rich and forward in style as earlier vintages of the same wine from Pillot. The 2000 was lively and tight, with dried sour cherry and pronounced sous-bois aromas. Still very solid, even a bit shut down at the moment.
$40. 13.5% alcohol. Natural cork closure. Importer: Rosenthal Wine Merchant.


Brooklynguy said...

Is this some sort of sick joke? What a lineup - my mouth is watering and I'm feeling a mixture of envy (why don't I have friends who want to do things like this?) and general exhilaration (AWESOME lineup).

I've wanted to taste that 100% Meunier champs for so long now, but I've been having trouble pulling the trigger - it is at least $55 wherever I see it. your review might help me turn the corner. and the 04 cour-chev is really good - i'm glad you liked it. I happen right now to be sipping the leftovers of an 02 from yesterday. a serious step up from the 04, in my opinion. i wasn't as crazy about the 06 sec, but i need another try. and those Bellevieres - YUM. You are the second person today who reports that the $23 version might in fact be better than the Homage in 05. interesting.

thanks for the report - lots of fun to read.

David McDuff said...

No joke, my brother. I only wish I had more friends I could do this with! Or more friends who could join us; then we could taste even more good stuff. You're welcome to join us....

Out of curiosity, who was the first person reporting on the '05 Bellivieres?

Brooklynguy said...

a wine buyer at crush.

i want to join, or organize a group

David McDuff said...

I'm not sure I have a good answer for you, Neil. Are there any staff members at your favorite shops to whom you feel close enough to ask? That might be a good starting point. There are also plenty of NY-based wine and food bloggers, both established and new, who you could try reaching out to.

Edward said...

Neil and David,

It would seem there are like minded souls - just scattered far and wide accross the globe!

The Egly-Ouriet is a super wine. Like a rapier from my recollection.

David McDuff said...

Let's see now, Edward... Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Australia. That would make for quite the tasting group.

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