Saturday, 27 February 2016

A small Alpine tasting - Vins de Savoie in situ...

During the recent skiing holiday that I reported in the largely pictorial post - Paradiski is paradise a wonderful week! - we had an evening where we went through a range of the Savoie region's wines. The selection is pictured above and I am far from an expert on these wines, in fact I know embarrassingly little.

Jacquere 2015, Philippe & Sylvain Ravier - I have to assume that Jacquere is the variety (please tell me if you know). The alcohol was a cool 11.5% and the wine was clearly very primary and young, no oak. There was that note of peardrop, all in all it was crisp but a touch neutral. Good uncomplicated summer lunchtime drinking.

Chardonnay 2014, Philipe Ravier - 12.5% alcohol. This is richer with more texture and intensity, quite Chablis-like in its purity and tautness. Again no oak and very easy to drink. Nice.

Tout Est Bon Dans Le Cochon, Chef Lieu Billieme NV - however hard I looked I could not find any mention of a vintage on the bottle and also the internet seems little help in finding any info on this wine. It was very thin, crisp and light, summer picnic wine, almost a red rose in style. There is a lack of ripeness and a marked grapefruit note.

Le Mont Charvaz Savoie, Le Cellier du Mont Charvaz - I wanted this to be good for no more complicated reason than I love the label! It was Pinot like with a slightly green fruit, raspberry in good moments. Nice enough if not special. 

Mondeuse Saint Jean de Porte 2015, Philipe Ravier - This was unanimously the winner on the night; fuller, more fruit, more concentration a lovely little bit of Rhone-like spice but still managing to be fresh and true to the altitude. I'd happily drink a fair bit of this. Will keep an eye out for Mondeuse in future!

And that's that - they all got drunk (the bottles that is!) which is what matters.
Clear winner!
I just remembered I did one other slightly similar - Skiing related wine post. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Produttori del Barbaresco 2011's...a great tasting

I love these wines and buy them regularly. I also have a pretty good range of experience with them as the posts below show:

Vertical of Pora Cru
1971 Barbresco gets a mention here
A Cru comparison 2005 Asili & Montefico
Barbaresco 1970

This tasting was overseen, in charismatic form, by the commercial director of Produttori del Barbaresco, Aldo Vacca. Recently described by Ian D'Agata as a 'walking encyclopedia on Nebbiolo and Barbaresco', Aldo guided us through the 2011 Cru release.

There are two elements to the Riserva release which make it particularly intriguing. To start with the Crus are not released every year. When quality is not deemed high enough, only the Langhe Nebbiolo and 'regular' Barbaresco are produced, subsequently, this regular Barbaresco is of an even more outstanding in quality, as it includes the top fruit which normally would have gone into making the Crus. Secondly, it's an 'all or nothing' situation, either all the nine Crus are produced, or none. In any given year, if the high quality is not consistent throughout all nine single vineyards, then none will be made. It is this unwavering, quality-focused, approach which means that the Produttori del Barbaresco Riservas rank amongst the best wines in Italy.

As a bit of extra infoThe Produttori del Barbaresco co-operative now covers 110 hectares which is spread between 52 members. All members have to commit 100% to the Produttori and can not make wines that compete or sell grapes elsewhere. The nines Crus circle round the Barbaresco village starting from Ovello, Montefico and Montestefano on the North-eastern side, looping down to the South-eastern and southern areas with Muncagota, Pajè, Asili and Pora. Finally, Rabajà and Rio Sordo lie in the next band of vineyards, a little further south. The Produttori has been making the single vineyard wines since 1967 and is the largest producer of Barbaresco.

My notes in the order tasted. All scored out of 20...

Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 - "Baby Barbaresco" as it is often referred to. It spends 5 months in big barrels This wine has been made since 1975 (ironically "my" vintage), the appellation only came into existence in the 1970's. In 2014 Barbaresco was reportedly the best of the Piedmont areas, it was a wet spring and early summer before the late summer and September where dry and gave good ripening conditions. Full but transparent colour, cool cherry fruit, strawberry also, more sour cherry on the palate with a nice bit of grip. There is a creamy element as well as a little gentle spice - white pepper. Great value - 17

Barbaresco 2012 - The were no Crus made in 2012 so all the "juice" is in the straight Barbaresco which was bottled in March 2015. The weather in the vintage was arguably a little too warm and never really cooled down so the differentiation between sites did not quite warrant the Crus being released. This is lovely with a darker richer intensity. More black fruit than red, good weight, a mulled fruit quality. Juicy. 17.5-18

The 2011 vintage was a ripe, rich and intense vintage, full-bodied, as ripe as it gets without over ripeness, chilly nights and hot days that saw lovely differentiation of sites and splendid complexity. A case (12bts) of the Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 that I had at home didn't even last a month - delicious!

Barbaresco Riserva Pajè 2011 - Nice nose, a little coffee, sweet with good depth, some spice. The fruit has purity and might just be strawberry more than anything but it is hard to define one fruit type. Good acidity - a good start. 17

Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota 2011 - More lifted with redder fruit than Paje. Lovely finish to this. Overall this shows that rare trait of richness and coolness. 18

Barbaresco Riserva Pora 2011 - Aldo commented here that Pora tended to be more approachable, more herbal than many Crus as it is closer to the river. I found this to have a sage and herbal nose as well as good lush fruit. Lovely almost menthol fruit freshness, some bold tannins but not too much, ripe. 17.5-18

Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo 2011 - Vibrant red cherry fruit and also a little spice, lovely cool fruited palate, not aggressive. This is not overly complex but is nicely complete. 17-17.5

Barbaresco Riserva Asili 2011 - Darker but at the same time more muted and more serious, more saline also (I do love salinity). The palate is then lovely with big ripe tannins, mouth coating but not drying, long, bold and serious. The pick possibly. 18.5

Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà 2011 - A little muted but good mid-red fruit with some black elements. Not heavy in tannin but developed on the palate, not quite so fresh. This is a little more bruised or degraded and a little less precise, a little tough, time needed? 16.5

Barbaresco Riserva Ovello 2011 - Placed at the northern tip of Barbaresco and with a multiple exposure but common soil type. Lighter and a little brighter, fresher, I really liked this. Has a poised red fruit and a good, if less obtrusive structure. Good, more feminine, stands apart stylistically. 18-18.25

Barbaresco Riserva Montefico 2011 - With a full south exposure. Lifted menthol freshness and then this combines with very bright red fruits. Bold rich tannins follow on the palate, cracking nose, the tannin may need to resolve into the wine, when it does this could be rather special. 17.75-18.25

Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano 2011 - A little muted and harder to define, less red fruits, bold yet somehow more insular, savoury and a little saline, this may just be a more brooding example. Despite the mixed note I gave it a rather definite 18

A very fine tasting indeed...

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Paradiski is paradise…a wonderful week...

When I started this blog it was going to be about wine and may be the odd cigar, that is what it has largely remained but there are exceptions which are nothing more than a selfish chance to capture fun times - this is one of those - no apologies made. Just back from a fun packed week with friends and family in Les Coches - between Les Arcs and La Plagne - part of the Paradiski area. I can't recommend it enough. Any of Les Coches, Montchavin or Vallandry in particular as they are central small and prettier than the larger parts of the area. It was a great week. I hope some of the pics may amuse - they make me smile and might just get me through the summer!! Actually wait a minute those are fun too - Holidays, bottles and travels.
The Gang!
In Beaune en route, nice if unspectacular.. 
Unpacking!! Les Arcs side in the background.
A few magnum sized toys for the week, didn't last long!
My ski buddy through thick and thin... 
No idea what this was really but delicious? Yes!
Mrs H happy with a mid morning Chocolate Chaud!!
Laura, Charlie and I escaping for a fun packed afternoon while lessons started for the others!
Loved skiing these all week - good work Whitedot!
If this is a true indicator of 2014 Rhone then I'm in - nice!
Putting some carbs back in - potatoes on Pizza!! Oh yes.
Full and well "watered" a slippery stroll home.
Me and my boy! We only lost each other twice.
The Robot - on the way from Les Coches to La Plagne - love this sculpture - old lift parts! 
Looking back towards Les Coche from the Robot!
Charlie dressed as a Robot!
Food envy kicked in here... 
Up at Roche de Mio - on top of the world!
Alpine weather Part 1 - a foggy bread run
Part 2 - sun working hard..
Part 3 - half way down the first run - magic!
The kind of commuting I don't mind - getting the Vanoise express over to Les Arcs...
Too busy to shop but this is a pretty big "pop-up" on the Transarc ridge above Les Arc 2000.
Not too much queuing for us in Les Arcs and the sun in abundance.
"Lunch" on a lift - no time for stopping!
Tree skiing above Vallandry - superb snow, light and space! 
The only nearly successful "pano" I have done!
This worked - very citrussy - good!
En magnum! Love me a bit of Charvin!
Day 5 ski team - Mrs H crossing to Les Arcs
Could that be a newspaper under the arm...
Mrs H and Jo read for group "selfie" (see top pic) then a "run" down to Les Coches.
This signage wasn't there a day earlier when Charlie skied of that roof - hence the smug look!
An impromptu wine tasting courtesy of Laura…interesting.
For aesthetic reasons we wanted this to "win" but it (definitely) didn't...     
This did! Good Rhone-like spicy richness!
Day 6 - last day - we woke to this and it never really lifted, some good skiing but bad vis!
Ready for the elements!
What did I say about vis!!
Gotta love a bobble hat! Mrs H in ravishing form!
Last night bottles - The Carquelin 2011 was every bit as good as I remembered.  
It is a little sad that the last two pics appear less fun…BUT every cloud and all that - Fran's knee if not that serious and there was jealousy at having achieved a proper sporting injury. The car, well all I will say is that the team rallied round to help. BMW (who where exceptional)  had us on flights that evening and the car had been picked up by 10am (we called a 7.15am). the only drama was getting to Geneva on a very busy change over day but "legendary Leney" came to the rescue and got us there - for which we remain forever thankful.
Cheers whoever you were, didn't stop and no note... 
The sports injury!! 3 weeks and as good as new! We hope!
The week just worked to prove a few points one should never forget:

Friends whether you've known them 2 minutes or 20 years are what matters
You can't laugh too much
Food and drink are fun
Skiing is the perfect holiday

Amen to that and sincere thanks to all those who made this such a special week - you know who you are...

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2013's...

I try each year to document my notes of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wines. I did this with the DRC 2012's actually at the Domaine last year which was a real treat. Last Tuesday saw the annual press tasting of the 2013's - a vintage (the only vintage) I have been lucky enough to taste from barrel (see end of this POST). The wines are "finished" wines, served from bottle.
The wines in order of tasting are covered below (there is no Cuvee Duvault-Blochet in 2013), I am normally quite anal about putting Grand Cru, 1er Cru etc but as they are all Grand Cru...

Corton* - Markedly redder than it has been for the last few vintages, the first being 2009. Crisp and almost crunchy. This was the wine that I found most different at lunch with more volume of wine, it became more juicy with a bit more grip and grit. This is what 2013 Corton should be like, to my mind anyhow.

Echezeaux* - To me this is the wine that showed a whole bunch character the most. Pencil shavings and a little grit, fine-grained pepper too. It was driven and fresh with lively acidity and red fruits at the core...a serious Echezeaux, uncompromising.

Grands Echezeaux - A deeper and more substantial nose. More stuffing, darker fruit, good structure and a nicely sappy edge also, this is balanced and in common with the Echezeaux is a serious rendition.

Romanee-Saint-Vivant* - I am totally biased here having seen this wine come to full blossom over the last 15 years. This is floral and red fruited and with sincere focus. Intense, poised and quite linear. There is a little spice but it stays firmly in the background. I think 2013 exaggerates the strengths of RSV. Superb.

Richebourg - A lot of people mentioned this as a real favourite, I love how different it is from RSV. I'd almost always have the RSV if I was on a desert island and had to choose but hopefully that won't happen. The fruit is deeper and darker, blacker and more sturdy, as it should be. There is a little graphite and a very slight edge of orange rind. It's slightly like a combination of Corton, Clos Vougeot and Richebourg.

La Tache - The word that springs to mind, especially after such significant differences in the other wines, is "completeness". Elements of all the others and a seamless texture as well. There is that dash of spice and it is almost impossible to define the fruit as red or black as it is both. Refined and flamboyant in equal measure.

Romanee-Conti - Superb nose but somehow a little more one dimensional than La Tache. The palate is alive and very red-fruited and fresh a little like the RSV but with the texture of Tache. I am never worried by this wine not being head and shoulders above La Tache at this early stage. Romanee Conti always ages on its grace and harmony as this tasting taught me.

*the notes for these wines are an amalgam of the tasting and lunch.

The Montrachet is never shown at the tasting but I was lucky enough to try it over lunch afterwards.

Montrachet - Reduced nose (I love reduction), rich but not heavy. The palate has a balancing driven saline element that has a lot of energy to it. This is a cooler vintage Montrachet with great acidity, may be slightly less opulence. The nose over time lost the reductive covering with citrus, especially lemon, coming to the fore. This is in-line with the Montrachets from vintages like 2004 and 2007. Superb, cellar worthy and serious.

This is one of those days in the year that really makes me wish I had started my blog much earlier...