Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wines on the Fourth

Life on the Trail can run from feast to famine. Lately it’s been all feast, the side effect being that there’s so much to write about that I’m having a hard time keeping up with it. I suppose that’s a good problem to have. So, without further ado, here are some notes from the Fourth. No hamburgers and hot dogs, no horseshoes, no fireworks, just good friends, good food and a few bottles of vino.

Bourgogne Chitry Blanc, Alice & Olivier DeMoor 2006
Light to medium in color, this Chitry Blanc – that’s Chardonnay from the northern reaches of Burgundy in case you weren’t sure – smells much leaner and flintier, more Chablisienne, than it feels in the mouth. Fruit forward and refreshing. If it were a bit less pricy it would make for a very good every day white Burg. Quince and crisp d’Anjou pear fruit are carried on a medium-acid, medium-bodied frame. The DeMoor’s work roughly 15 acres in the Yonne Départment, producing AOC Chitry, Chablis, Aligoté and Sauvignon St. Bris. Farming is organic, fruit is hand harvested and the wines are bottled without fining or filtration. Check out Bert Celce’s blog, Wine Terroirs, for an excellent profile of the estate. $27. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Vintage ’59 Imports, Washington, DC.

Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc “Cuvée Prestige Le Prieuré,” Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret 2005
Decent wine, from an estate known much more for its reds than its whites. Smells like nougat and apple pie à la mode, though it also shows some disjointed alcohol and slightly acetyl character on the nose. Wood is well integrated, adding a bit of tannic astringency that complements the wine’s structure without dominating its flavor. There’s some complexity and interest here but not enough to offset the flaws or to justify the near $30 price. $28.50. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: J.A.O. Wine Imports, McLean, VA.

Rioja Crianza Blanco “Viña Gravonia,” R. Lopez de Heredia 1998
Now we’re talking. This was stupendously good, certainly the white of the night. Concentrated, firm, youthful and beneficially touched by its time in old wood. Spot on with simply grilled scallops, where the Rioja bumped up and focused the natural sweetness of the shellfish. This could easily pass for white Burgundy crossed with good Touraine Chenin. But it’s clearly all its own. Almonds, stones, golden apples and a touch of caramelization, all accented by a Scotch-like brininess. Fantastic wine with great QPR and a long life ahead of it. For another nifty producer profile, check out Deetrane’s guest post at Brooklynguy’s place. $28. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY.

Rioja Gran Reserva Tinto “Viña Tondonia,” R. Lopez de Heredia 1987
At twenty years of age, there’s bound to be a bad bottle once in a while, no matter how storied the producer. This was just barely alive, with only some dull, leathery notes and vaguely sweet red fruit emerging with air. It could have been heat damaged somewhere along the way, as there was a bit of run-up on the cork. Bummer. $94. 12% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, NY.

Langhe Nebbiolo “Il Favot,” Poderi Aldo Conterno 1998
You lose some and you win some. With more recent releases going for upwards of $60, the $20-ish price tag – I picked up the last bottle on the shelf at a PLCB specialty store a while back – seemed more than worth the old bottle/questionable retailer gamble. The gamble paid off this time. “Il Favot” is the only wine that Aldo Conterno ages in new barriques; while it has a reputation for early accessibility, this bottle was singing in its tenth year. The toasty oak is still there but has been incorporated. Licorice, dried raspberries, roofing tar, saddle leather and floral herbs all come out to play. Nervy acidity and gentle yet fully articulated tannins. The aromas and flavors just keep coming and developing with time in the glass. Rose petals, toasted almonds and sandalwood galore, along with sweet spice, natural perfume and animal intensity. Like lifting up a beautiful young woman’s hair and kissing the nape of her neck. I liked it. Could you tell? $23. 14% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Vias Imports, New York, NY.


Nancy Deprez said...

Nice notes - nice wines, thanks!

And as always I like the pics. :)

Nancy Deprez said...

The Langhe wine labels always remind me of surprised cartoon eyes. Maybe it's just me.

Joe said...

Hi David - had a great bottle of the Mongeard red a few months back, but the white is not available - sounds like I am not missing much. Can you say that "nape of the neck" thing on a family-oriented blog? I've had some great Conternos, but I have never seen the Il Favot - is that a small production wine?

Anonymous said...

That better be the nape of your young wife's neck you're talking about there, Buddy!

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Nancy. Agreed on the Conterno label. I actually sketched the "eyes" in my note pad while tasting the wine. They do make an impression.

Is this a family-oriented blog?

If Mongeard's blanc is considerably less expensive up north, it might be worth a try. But it definitely doesn't give good QPR at its price point here in PA.

As for Conterno's Il Favot, it's a young vine wine but I really don't know how much they produce. There are no production stats on Conterno's site and a quick search doesn't turn up much info. It's not a wine I see all over the shelves but it is available through a number of retailers across the States.

But of course!

bill l said...

the chitry was had for far less than $27.

bill l said...

the kid in the picture must have some great looking parents.
funny, last time i saw him he was eating michocana ice cream. he lives a good life.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for the price comment, Bill. Any recollection of what it did cost? I went with the average price on the web.

And the kid does seem to do alright. The love of good food thing must be in his genes too.

bill l said...

it netted out somewhere around $20.
the average on the web is $27, meaning it sells for more than that in some places? that's way overpriced.

Barry said...

David...nice to see good notes on the white Lopez de Heredia..back when there was only OLD style Riojas..both red and white were my regular drinks....I doubt Parker enjoys either...but this is where Rioja made it's name...

David McDuff said...

At further glance, you're right. $27 is the high end (State Line). The '06 is $24 at Chambers while the '05 is $22 at Astor Place. I try to quote regular retail rather than case discount amount when quoting prices.

Howdy Barry,
Whether or not Parker would enjoy the Heredia Blanco is beside the point, at least for me. The wine was fantastic. It's only too bad that so many Riojas have become sleek, overly polished bombs.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin