Thursday, May 29, 2008

Notes from a Sunday: Memorial Weekend Edition

In between the two sessions of grilling covered in my last post, I accepted an invite from friends for a slightly different vein of Memorial weekend dining. Bill was planning to roast a leg of lamb from the highly acclaimed Jamison Farm. I was only too happy to oblige in helping to put a dent in said leg. As it turned out, he also had his mind set on pulling corks from a few heavy hitters and some bottles with sentimental associations. We actually dove straight into a Grand Cru Chablis. After a cursory taste, however, we opted to retreat temporarily toward something simpler, certainly of interest but a touch less daunting as an aperitif – and no cork involved.

Pfalz Weißer Burgunder Kabinett trocken, Weingut Münzberg (Lothar Kessler & Söhne) 2006
Along with their full range of other specialties, the Kessler sons, Gunther and Rainer, turn out pure, vibrant examples of Pfalz Weißer Burgunder (aka, Pinot Blanc) from their family estate, Weingut Münzberg. There’s an aspect right up front in this wine that The VLM and, apparently, David Schildknecht, writing about Weißer Burgunder in general, both nailed: creamed corn. While I’ve cited that flavor in a negative context in a past tasting note (on Tocai, not Pinot Blanc), here it’s an integral part of the wine, forward at first but eventually fading and intertwining with the wine’s more elegant facets. Those facets of elegance are expressed by the white peach and yellow apple fruit and the fine mineral character that emerge with aeration. There’s an overall impression of medium acidity and clean, crisp framework. The integrated nuance of corn adds freshness as well as a sweet, starchy flavor snap, which is finished off by a tactile suggestion of white grape skins. A good quaffer and quite food friendly, it’s only a shame that it no longer sells for the $15 price tag of a couple of years ago. $20. 12% alcohol. Vinolok. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.

Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos,” Vincent Dauvissat 2005
Right out of the barrel, so to speak, this showed classic Dauvissat flavors of lemon rind dusted generously over white river stones that have yet to be polished to complete smoothness. Along with good persistence, there’s a very sapid wood element, already well integrated. In fact, as far as integration goes, I was surprised at how well this terribly young wine was showing already. Plenty of lime pith and mineral laced fruit on the palate. I got the sense as the wine warmed and aired a bit that, wrapped up by its currently gripping acidity, there’s a richer, more voluptuous wine waiting to emerge. At this point in its evolution though, I was surprised by its overall lack of concentration and muscle. Very good wine but not clearly elevated above or differentiated from Dauvissat’s Premier Cru offerings. Price unknown; currently sells online for $125-225. 13% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL.

What goes well with purple fingerlings? Truchot's Gevrey-Chambertin worked out quite nicely.

Gevrey-Chembertin Premier Cru “Aux Combottes” Vieilles Vignes, Jacky Truchot-Martin 2003
Even though I sold Truchot's Burgundies for a short period many years ago, I owe the majority of my more recent experiences with Jacky Truchot’s wines to Bill; he’s got to be one of the now retired producer’s biggest fans. This one was a showstopper. Say what you will about the ripe-fruited or even atypical aspects of 2003 Burgundy, here the quality of the vintage brought sheer loveliness into play. Immediate impressions were of pickled plums and Christmas spice cake, with signature Truchot aromas of wild cherries and clay lurking beneath. There was another element that took me a few moments to nail down: sarsaparilla (sasparilla, if you prefer). Really beautiful wine. Silky, fine tannins, balanced acidity, sweet, nuanced fruit; it had the whole package and then some. I hope, for Bill’s sake, not mine, that he has more of this stashed away for another day. Price unknown; most likely $70-100. 11-14% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Weygandt/Metzler, Unionville, PA.

Sancerre “Clos la Neore,” Edmond Vatan 2006
After the Gevrey-Chambertin and a wonderful plate of roast lamb, fingerling potatoes and sautéed chard, I’ll admit to having a hard time giving Vatan’s Sancerre the attention it was due. Good company and good food put it into perspective as something that was opened just for pure enjoyment – not that the other wines weren’t as well. What I can say is that Vatan’s Sancerre is like few others. It lacks the fresh, fruity attack of lemon and grapefruit tones of much other Upper Loire Sauvignon. However, it makes up for that with intense stoniness – more round than racy – a highly perfumed aspect of lime oil and muscular, fleshy acidity. The wine’s intense physiological extract suggests both very old vines and very low yields. Though I’ve never had a mature bottle, I expect that this could get very interesting with age. Regrettably, if my understanding is correct, 2006 was Vatan’s last vintage. It’s not cheap for Sancerre but, if your budget allows, it would be worth snagging a bottle or two while the possibility of doing so remains. $49. 13% alcohol. Natural cork. Importer: Wine Cellars Ltd., Briarcliff Manor, NY. “Acquired from a Private Collection.”

Loazzolo “Piasa Rischei” Vendemmia Tardive, Forteto della Luja 2003
Given that fresh berries are coming into season, it seemed to make sense to open something sticky as accompaniment. Mr. and Mrs. Bill visited Forteto della Luja on their honeymoon and haven’t stopped raving about the Scaglione family’s wines. Loazzolo is a small DOC zone situated in the Langhe hills near Asti, Alba and Acqui Terme. The single vineyard “Piasa Rischei” is a blend of 95% Moscato and 5% Passula, one of several wines produced at Forteto della Luja but the only one that falls under the Loazollo DOC. It’s not just a late harvest wine but also a long harvest wine; picking begins in late September and continues into November. At each tri, harvesters select only fruit that is showing early signs of being affected by botrytis. About 15% of the fruit goes through the passito process, being partially dried on canvas mats.

The end result is a still wine with surprising density and concentration. Given the relatively dark flavors and lower than typical frizz of their Moscato d’Asti, which I’d tried on an earlier occasion, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Ripe, musky melon and honeyed peach fruit intermingle with the golden aromas of autumn leaves in a dry forest. Sweet, loamy and spicy, this was as contemplative as it was easy to enjoy at the end of a lovely evening. Price unknown. 11.5% alcohol. Natural cork. Purchased in situ.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin