It's the heart of the fall trade tasting season right now. Problem is, I live in Philly and 98% of the portfolio tastings are staged in New York. To make them all, I'd need to rent a place in the city for at least a couple of weeks if not an entire month. Add that to the fact that I'd also have to arrange for mid-term palate replacement surgery and it becomes a complicated prospect. I at least try to make it up for a few, though, particularly those held by importers whose portfolios I really dig, and/or for those where the importer may have gone out of his or her way to extend a personal invitation. Can't do 'em all but I do what I can.
First among those that I was able to attend during this week's voyage north was the Jenny & François Selections fall portfolio tasting, held downstairs at The Smith in the East Village. J&F co-proprietor Jenny Lefcourt, like me, leads classes occasionally at Philly's Tria Fermentation School. Nonetheless, it remains tough at best to find wines from her portfolio on the PA market, making the trip to NYC a necessity in order to experience the full breadth of wines that she and her business partner François Ecot are bringing into the US.
In relatively random order and without further ado, here are some of the highlights from Monday's tasting.
Most compelling bubbly:
The Champagnes of Jacques Lassaigne were delicious across the board but it was his Rosé de Montgueux, a rosé d'assemblage of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, that really stood out. Not for any greater complexity than the two Blanc de Blancs — quite the opposite if anything — but for the fact that it was just in a great place, bursting with bright red forest fruits and drinking really nicely.
Burgundy, red and white all over:
The first white Burgs I tasted, two Chablis from Jean-Claude and Christiane Oudin, weren't to be surpassed. Their 2006 Chablis "Les Serres" was intensely smoky and iodine, full of the pungent minerality that makes Chablis so, well, Chablis. Oudin's 2007 Chablis 1er Cru Vaugiraut, produced from 70-year-old vines, took a significant step up from there, just as lovely to drink but displaying much greater breed and focus.
On the red side, there was one clear standout among a healthy handful of interesting wines: the 2007 Mercurey "La Plante Chassey" of Catherine and Dominique Derain. When last I tasted this (at Terroir SF) it was enjoyable enough, even showed some promise, but six months later it's simply singing. Fantastic acid/fruit balance, with sappy, smoky red fruits leading to a ripe red cherry mid-palate and a finish full of minerals and sous-bois character. Very good wine indeed.
La La La Loire:
Okay, you all know by now how much I love Loire wine. Keeping this concise is tough, as Jenny & François are lucky to work with a very fine range of Loire producers. One stood out for me, though: Domaine des Sablonnettes. I liked their wines across the board, from the 2008 Anjou "P'tit Blanc," which showed structured, intense fruit with waves of minerality, to their 2009 Vin de Table "Les Copines Aussi," a juicy, fresh and easy drinking example of Loire Gamay. The 2008 Vin de Table "Les Copains d'Abord," made purely from the indigenous variety Grolleau, was tougher to love — herbal and intensely wound-up — but in a way that made me want to try. "Buy this for further investigation," read my notes.
There's plenty more on deck but this is getting long and I'm getting tired. Stay tuned for J&F Part Deux, coming soon to a blog near you.