Friday, October 23, 2009

Five for Friday, Including Passing References to QPR and the Tyranny of the Tasting Note

For today, just a few notes and pics from a recent Friday get together. It had been too long, so I hope you’ll pardon my indulgences.

Rioja Gran Reserva “Viña Tondonia” Rosado, R. Lopez de Heredia 1998
$25. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: USA Wine Imports, New York, NY.
Drinking like your most comfortable pair of shoes feels, that pair you just can’t bring yourself to part with – soft, supportive, something you’d be happy to wear (or drink as the case may be) all day and just about every day. Showing medium, fully matured acidity, penetrating yet not at all forceful. Say what you will about the subjectivity of tasting notes (see the comments), this wine inspires them. A nose full of maple, orange confit and potpourri leads into a candied pecan driven flavor profile that persists and envelops the palate for minutes. Vanilla, pear, clove, peach, rose petals, winter melon… they’re all there. And the extraordinary QPR for a wine of this provenance and quality continues to astound me. Lovely stuff.

Côtes du Jura, Jean Bourdy 2005
$26. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: A Thomas Calder Selection, Potomac Selections, Landover, MD.
Jean Bourdy’s Côtes du Jura Blanc is varietal Chardonnay, which is aged in old oak tonneaux for 3-4 years prior to bottling, yielding a slightly oxidative style. Bourdy recommends decanting the wine 3-4 hours prior to consumption but we weren’t nearly so patient. In spite of our quick pour and even following a very tough act, the wine was quite subtly delicious, showing an intensely mineral nose laced with apple and pastry nuances. Drinking it, I couldn’t help but ponder whether there are Chardonnay based wines produced anywhere else that show such nervy, crackling, tight wire acidity. Certainly not in Chablis. Maybe, just maybe, in the tautest examples of Côtes des Blancs Champagne. But even then, I’m not so sure. The wine continued to improve as it warmed toward cellar temperature (which is the recommended serving temp, by the way), letting the wine’s inherent core of sweet concentration unfurl.

Sancerre “Clos la Néore,” Edmond Vatan 2007
$55. 13% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Wine Cellars Ltd., Briarcliff Manor, NY.
On this night, Vatan’s Sancerre – only a few ounces remained in a bottle opened the previous day – served as a quick segue before shifting into red gear. Very floral, bursting with aromas of lavender, Queen Anne’s lace and gooseberry pie. Maybe Sharon knows something I don’t (see her comments here), but this is really freaking delicious wine. Worth the splurge and, though I’ve never had what might be considered a fully mature example, reputedly quite worthy of cellaring.

Vallée d’Aoste Torrette “Vigne les Toules,” Les Crêtes 2006
$28. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Domaine Select, New York, NY.
Les Crêtes’ Torrette is a blend of 70% Petit Rouge – an heirloom vine, if you’ll forgive the term, native to the Valle d’Aosta – and 30% “other varieties.” Fermented in steel for a little over a week, the wine is then finished in older casks for about eight months before bottling. The wine reminds me very much of Freisa from the Langhe, barky in its aromas and texture and full of cinnamon, cocoa and huckleberry nuances, finished off with a slightly bitter edge. Very loamy, think of moldering forest floor. Raspy tannins and the slightest suggestion of a frizzante prickle make for a solid, rustic pleasure at the table. The QPR trend falls apart here, though; in the teens this would be a great value but in the high $20s I’m afraid it’s destined to be more of an occasional curiosity than a regular quaff.

Morey-Saint-Denis “Vieilles Vignes,” Jacky Truchot 2005
$45-ish. 12.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA.
My friend Bill seems to have an unending knack for uncovering caches of Jacky Truchot’s Burgundies. This was a glorious bottle, more concentrated than the usual Truchot but that’s no doubt a natural outcome of the ’05 vintage. Loaded with savory, sweetly earthy umami characteristics yet equally bursting with black cherry fruit. Built to last, entirely in the vineyard rather than through any technique; immaculately balanced and, no matter how ripe and forward, entirely old school. Now if only I can convince him to part with a couple of bottles….


Vinogirl said...

I would love to get my hands on that Sancerre!!!!

David McDuff said...

It's available, vg, not widely but it's out there. Try or Chambers Street Wines to start.

Marcus said...

Too bad about Les Cretes. It is definitively "regular quaff" up here for $18 CDN, after tax. I thoroughly enjoyed it for all that you enumerate (wonderfully refreshing raspberry-flavoured mineral water thing is something I am partial to). Stocks dwindling as it is part of a bin-end sale at the Ontario Liqueur Control Board. Would be frisked and carded by the state agency for more of this stuff!

David McDuff said...

That pricing is definitely more like it, Marcus. And I like your "mineral water" analogy -- a great way to describe the wine's texture. And it's always comforting to hear someone hate on their local LCB as much as I despise Pennsylvania's.

Marcus said...

Hmmm... I guess somebody at the LCBO really wants to frisk me. Prices are down to $14.75 for Vignes Les Toules. Cannot refuse that kind of offer.

That's US$80 for a half-case.

David McDuff said...

@Marcus -- That's quite the deal, assuming the bottles are still in good shape. Here in PA, heat damaged wine is always an issue, with the risk increasing in direct proportion to the depth of the discount.

Marcus said...

David - I know what you mean. But I think these are regularized bin ends discounts (for wine releases that linger too long and take up retail space when new releases need to come out). It's reassuring because it means the discounts are applied across the network, not by case or by specific retail outlet.

Anonymous said...

Where does it say "Gran Reserva" on this wine?

David McDuff said...

@Anon -- The "Gran Reserva" designation for the Lopez de Heredia Rioja appears only on the back label, which I did not photograph.

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