Archive for ‘France: Burgundy’

November 9, 2017

Mâcon-Lugny Bouchard Père et Fils Saint-Pierre, 2015

Quintessentially prix fixe lunch “table wine included” French white.  No home run, no strike out, more of a walk. Apple, quince, gun barrel dry, sharp, piquant, a most palatable foil to cheese sauce or rich vegetarian, although it held up less with chicken.

 

A pale (as in slight) Chardonnay, as Chards go, but an appetizing food friendly dry white.  I would give it no stars, as stars go, but recommend it still.

 

Price: $24.50 in BC before SUBSTANTIAL taxes and, get this, $18.50 in Toronto all in.  Go figure.

 

Market Liquidity: A drinkable workhorse white.

January 20, 2017

Olivier LeFlaive Volnay, 2011

olivier-leflaive-volnay-2011

Olivier LeFlaive can solve the Mideast peace process.  Can’t he?  I mean the balance, the delirious silky smoothness of this red, who couldn’t be won over?  Who couldn’t compromise?  And when I say compromise, I’m fully aware that no one is out searching for a 2011 Burgundy, certainly not a Pinot, no one is out scouring vintners to stock up the cellar; this was a bookend vintage, surrounded by stellar years that far outweigh its relevance.  And yet, here’s the rub: Let’s say you don’t give a fig for terroir, let’s say to you, terroir is the homeopathy of wine, the energetic nothingness that holds no scientific weight.  Why then, why is it that Pinot, Burgundy Pinot, even in lesser years, is so over the top exasperatingly elegant and appealing and ridiculously palatable?  I say put aside our differences and uncork a 2011.  I say we can all come together on Burgundy, even in the mediocre years.

 

Peppery, light, not abrasive, a twist or two of the pepper mill, a spritz of vanilla, the idea of cherry, the equanimity of it all, the absurd calmness of it, it’s like an assault on red wine: You pronounce yourself you Barolos and Brunellos and Bordeaux blends; this Pinot simply exists.  It’s a philosophical bottle of wine.  Open it, sip it, think about it.

 

I can’t afford wine in this tax bracket and even if I could I probably would buy twice as much of something lesser but by God was this my favorite red of the holiday season and then some.  Not particularly food friendly but I really couldn’t care.

 

Price: $60 (ka-ching, ka-ching) at a Vancouver independent, before taxes, and even then I balked, but I was goaded into it after winning $21 on a lottery ticket…

 

Market Liquidity: Like silk sheets, impractical but heavenly.

August 22, 2016

Roger Lassarat Terroir de Vergisson Pouilly-Fuissé, 2014

Roger Lassarat Terroir de Vergisson Pouilly-Fuissé, 2014A flawless Fuissé.  And not written to just play with alliteration.

 

There is a deep and sinful richness, think cream soda without the sweet, an exceptional balance, an astonishing balance, a mouth-watering and ethereal stone fruit on the palate, with a lingering butterscotch on the finish.  The oak is nigh undetectable.  Oh to find a wine like this at the local wine store.  Alas, no such luck.

 

Price: $19 USD in Seattle.

 

Market Liquidity: Not available in BC.  Methinks a conspiracy.

A wine that was 100% summer

A wine that was 100% summer

February 20, 2016

Les Faverelles Bourgogne Vezelay, 2014 & Tenuta di Castellaro Pomice de Bianco, 2013

Two sensational examples of terroir. Each so different it’s like two different languages. Wait, that’s exactly it.

Les Faverelles Bourgogne Vezelay, 2014

Yes, terroir as a vino descriptor is overused, but sometimes wine is so evocative of a place that it’s dumbfounding. The Vezelay is light as a feather, apple, crab-apple, pear, brimming with a fruity juicy freshness, it seems the absolute soul of a French country white, the only thing missing is a checkerboard tablecloth. At 12 per cent it was perhaps a tad too easy to drink, but no matter; blind I think even an expert could have mistaken it for something out of Alsace, the delicate delicacy of it as if floating on the palate. I kept thinking of the Roman ruins near St-Rémy-de-Provence, the views of olive trees from Les Baux, the market stalls in Aix. Charm, rapture, grace. Biodynamic to boot.

 

The Pomice, with a pronounced stony nose so forward you feel knee deep in brambles, positively oozes the Italian coast. In fact, there is something almost briny to the bouquet; grown in lava rock (yes, I kid you not) there is a stony component that is utterly stunning—our first review on the blog of a Carricante (Malvasia blend). Although I’ve never been to Sicily, let alone Lipari, this wine speaks of Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and the soft light of dusk in Puglia in August. It begs to accompany fresh seafood, crusty bread, and grilled asparagus at a village cantina, outdoors. It is meaty but not heavy, layers of minerality, crisp but not sour, and altogether unique. I am now on the hunt from anything grown on Lipari. This was mouth-wateringly good as well a profoundly satisfying.

Tenuta di Castellaro Pomice de Bianco

Price: Both wines were under $20 USD in Seattle and, even with the exchange rate, you couldn’t source a Burgundy under $50 CDN at BC Liquor that could touch the Vezelay. As for the Pomice, Sicilian wines have not been widely embraced in BC; god forbid we ever see wines from a local island off the coast of Sicily proper. Is that taste, affordability, import issues, or some combination?

 

Market Liquidity: Why wine drinkers drink wine.

 

Editorial aside: One day, in the future, British Columbians will be able to buy a bottle of, say, Jale Chardonnay. But that someday is not nowadays and while northern Italy crowds the BCL shelves, the south has yet to rise. Cross our fingers it will.

February 16, 2016

Blasons de Bourgogne Brut Réserve & Jansz Tasmania, Méthode Tasmanoise

Vancouver magazine publishes a list of the best wines in BC by a panel of experts. Or so the copy reads. It’s a give-away at liquor stores and the wines are all selected based on general availability so the weight, in my mind, is more advertorial and promo, a la the LCBO Food & Drink, than expertly chosen. (Download the great Food & Drink app here!) But whereas Food & Drink has some amazing recipes and great food pairing tips (it is in fact, arguably, the most in demand publication in Ontario, with higher editorial and readership scores than Chatelaine, Toronto Life, Canadian Living or Canadian House and Home. And it’s free too), the Van Mag reviews seem a little arbitrary.

 

Anyway, we thought we’d focus in February, on an off, with the Vancouver mag “expert” reviews.

Blasons de Bourgogne Brut Réserve

We started with the Blasons, a pretty sensational sparkling, given the price point. Lightly effervescent, much more accomplished than the many dreary Prosecco options at BCL. An honest to god brilliant bubbly for cocktails, with even a drop of Grande Marnier or Campari popping this out of the park. It lacks depth and sits a little one note on the palate but we vote it well worth the extra five dollars over bats piss.

Price: $22.80 (with tax $26.21) at BCL.

Market Liquidity: A fine faux.

The Jansz I had very high hopes for. Sparkling is a way of life in Australia. Even the hard core beer drinkers with their schooners and middys and pots will stop for a toast, be it Seaview or Wolf Blass. But how about something crispy, fruity, lively from the deep south? Unfortunately, this is a bit of a letdown. Hearty but heavy, with too much effervescence and a minerality that overpowers the fruit. It foams up on the palate the way hydrogen peroxide does, has a leaden finish and lacks both the feathery ephemeral fruit of a good prosecco or the luscious creaminess of a good méthode champagne.

Jansz Tasmania, Méthode Tasmanoise

Price: $27.99 (with tax $32.19) at BCL.

Market Liquidity: Very much a sparkling white as opposed to a sparkling.

December 24, 2015

Domaine Paul Croses Cotes de Nuits Villages, 2011

A colossal fruit bomb. I don’t know why we’ve been drinking Pinot lately like it’s going out of style, but we have, and this did certainly not disappoint. For less than $20 US the ruby red, light as a feather, fruit punch of this delectable Burgundy was a real wow. Even though it drinks delicate, it stood up to some red meat with aplomb. A pleasant licorice and fig on the finish.

Domaine Paul Croses Cotes de Nuits Villages, 2011

Price: $19.81 USD. Or $150 CDN in the New Trudeau era Canada.

 

Market Liquidity: A simple pleasure from Burgundy. How oxymoronic is that?

November 8, 2015

Sebastien Dampt Chablis “Côte de Léchet” Premier Cru, 2013

I couldn’t appreciate this wine.  And if the predilection, the swooning we do on this blog over 1er cru Chablis is anything to go by, it pains me to even write that.  But it’s true.

 

  • Hugh Johnson highly recommends the Léchet
  • Jancis Robinson lists Dampt as a recommended producer and the Léchet as a very good value
  • Tim Atkin calls Dampt a top value producer and gave this 93 points
  • Neil Martin over at Robert Parker wrote “it sported a primal but nicely defined and more terroir-driven bouquet than the Les Vaillons; reserved but focused” and gave it 90 points
  • “Over-achieving success story from a wunderkind artist and all-around brilliant winemaker that will leave everything else (quite frankly) in the dust.” Well… I might add that reviewer has never tasted LeFlaive.

Sebastien, apparently, strives to have no oxidation, no wood, no aged colour, leaving the wine for months in stainless steel vats to obtain a purity in keeping with Chablis of 1950s (to which I say, a 50s Caddy had some nice fins, but I certainly wouldn’t want to run that engine with 2015 gas prices).

  • Decanter 94 points, Le Monde, bla bla bla, they all loved it.

Sebastien Dampt Chablis “Côte de Léchet” Premier Cru, 2013

For me, for us, steely, flat, no finish, not cold, not room temperature, very short on the fruit, and acidic to a fault. Inexpensive for Chablis, yes, but not inexpensive.

 

This wine seems to suffer from that form/function issue many growers struggle with. They focus so much on terroir and “form” they forget that consumers, not experts, are the drinkers. If you read between the lines in the reviews, they are actually all lauding Sebastian, his ethic, his style, his methods, his 50 year old vines, the soil, the location, and only in passing the wine.

 

Price: $24 USD before tax and duty.

 

Market Liquidity: Too much craft, not enough consumer.

May 11, 2015

Domaine EARL George Vieilles Vignes Chablis, 2011

George Vieilles Vignes Chablis 2011

More stone than stone fruit, very flinty, super-acidic, without much butter compensation even as it warms. A refreshing 12.5% alcohol with a light tart finish.

 

Price: Gifted.

 

Market Liquidity: An authentic and intriguing Chablis.  But not stellar.

November 10, 2014

Drinking Wine in Japan

20141106_113252A couple of weeks in Japan were eye opening for the “wine interested.”  We drank some interesting Sake, all cold, a few local craft beers, and the odd red and white at, I might add, quite inflated prices.  There was a tendency towards French wines at the cost of all others, which is neither here nor there, except it was mostly Burgundy and Bordeaux, and, again, I can deal with that, except in fact it was predominantly Bordeaux.  And this just made no sense to me; where were all the Alsace whites to pair with Asian foods or “villages” wines that wouldn’t break the bank?  Still, it was good all around.  Here are some highlights.

Organic salad with Sans Soufre

Organic salad with Sans Soufre

Sans Soufre, 2013.  This is a Japanese sparkling wine, grown and brewed in Japan, made from the Delaware grape.  The what grape?  Never tasted anything like it.  (There is a children’s rhyme used in music theory at piano lessons that references “Delaware punch” which is in fact an alcoholic beverage from this varietal.  So you can see my wine knowledge began at an early age.)  The SS was effervescent the way cider is, not the way champagne is.  Light and bubbly, the fruit raced through your mouth: Pear, clover honey, and cotton candy, midway at the fair cotton candy.sans soufre Is this a good wine? I’m not sure.  But it’s an interesting wine, a provocative wine.  We had it as part of a degustation menu at the rather fabulous La Bonne Table in Marunochi, where they serve food mostly from local sources.  Their salad comes from an organic farm; what arrives in the box becomes the salad.  What will become the wine?  Anyone who has ever tried to pair wine with salad knows the difficulty.  I will confess this was near perfect; it has very little finish.  In fact, after you swallow it, it’s like soda, gone.  So it acts on the salad the way a sorbet is a palate cleanser.  For that alone it’s worth seeking out.  And now we have a “Japan” category on BuyingBCWines.

Chinon is expensive in Vancouver but it seemed popular in Tokyo.  We drank a few white Chinon’s in our travels, the most intriguing a Philippe Tessier Cheverny.  Very food friendly.

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Sorry for the crap "real" photo; here is a dummy

Sorry for the crap “real” photo; here is a dummy

A most spectacular Nebbiolo came to the table as part of a tasting menu at L’As (a small, hard to find restaurant in Tokyo, two sittings, no menu, seven courses set menu, with a $50 wine degustation on offer including champagne—no regrets!).  Back in Canada, most drinkers are accustomed to Masi Campofiorin.  So, then, most Canadian drinkers are accustomed to Nebbiolo which does not have a lot of character, just being a drinkable red.  Vigin Langhe Moody Nebbiolo.  (Vigin, not a typo.)  I sourced it on Google for around $20 US.  Steal.  This was drop your pants delicious over the top.  Absolutely all the earthiness and depth you want in a “lesser” Italian red with none of the pastiness and coarse edges I associate with cheap Barbaresco and Chianti.  It probably wouldn’t give Mr Parker any wow factor but I would buy it by the case for friends; there would be nothing but great conversation all night long.  With a crispy roast chicken and root vegetables this was the icing on the cake to an exceptional meal.  Except two desserts followed.

Roast chicken, egg and root vegetables at L'As

Roast chicken, egg and root vegetables at L’As

Red meat at Salt

Red meat at Salt

In 2002 we ate at a great restaurant in Sydney called Salt.  Still remember the space and the dinner.  We noticed that as is the trend with star chefs, Luc Mangan has opened a Tokyo Salt.  The space, on the sixth floor of a modern mall, is nothing to write home about, the decor weirdly out of synch with the food.  But the food is quite good and hearkens back to Oz with just a little less punch than a western diner might expect.  We found the Japanese are particularly sensitive to spice.  At any rate, the wine list at Salt is gorgeously Australian.  FINALLY a restaurant not top heavy in Bordeaux.  They served Leeuwin Brut by the glass–how wonderful is that? Wish Leeuwin sparkling was available in BC–and a few bottles from Elderton.  The first place I ever tasted Elderton was in the Blue Mountains at a high end lodge.  I have found since an uneven character to their reds, but their Barossa Estate Shiraz is a thing to behold.  At a super reasonable price. Everything Wine in Vancouver often has some kicking around.

 

 

The last intriguing wine we had (well, we had a lot more, and some were great, but most were predictable) was a biodynamic Grenache from Sarnin-Berrux, Les Muriers 2.  Ah Burgundy, let me bask in your arms… Again, this was part of a degustation menu and it expertly paired with lamb, juicy, round, full, luscious.  There was a trend amongst the younger chefs to have wines reflecting their cuisine.  This was non-filtered, hand-harvested, indigenous yeast fermentation.  Often with Grenache you get that leather-forward aggressive palate which can be perfect, it has its place, but this was softer and gentler and lovable like a favorite shirt. Not a chance in hell you’ll find this in Canada.  Our loss.

What the label actually looks like

What the label actually looks like

The winemakers are interesting and worth checking out.  Here’s an interesting blog link.  Jean-Pascal Sarnin and Jean-Marie Berrux.

Medium rare Hida beef on a jalapeno sauce with roast vegetables on a cumin carrot puree

Medium rare Hida beef on a jalapeno sauce with roast vegetables on a cumin carrot puree

Oh, lest I forget, we took lunch at the eponymous Jean-Georges in Tokyo.  The prix fixe at lunch is absolutely worth your time and liver.  The wines by the glass are good, not stellar, but good.  However a wonderful California red really paired magically with Hida beef.  The 2010 Migration from the Russian River, a deeply flavoured Pinot that had none of the fragility you’d expect.  ZZ Top would give it legs.  Same place that gives us Duckhorn back home.  Now to source the Migration…

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March 21, 2014

Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, 2009

Glorious.  I could sing a hymn: Be thou o God exalted high, and as thy glory fills the sky…  I heard Brahms.  I heard Bach.

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So, OK, enough with the hyperbole.  This is just a very, very satisfying bottle of wine.  It has that striking balance that hits you with alacrity because most wine, most wine that gets high scores, is pronounced.  It proclaims itself “New American Oak” or “Potent Potable.”  This is subtle, with balance, with nuance, some oak, some stone fruit, a little straw, a bit of honeydew, but all combined, opening gently like a symphony, building on the palate and ending with a lingering, savoury finish.

 

I wonder if in fact it is too subtle for the modern drinker?  A stroke of genius but no cymbals?  For those who have never listened to the full version of Also Sprach Zarathustra, you’d be surprised how it mellows and gently peters out without the brash fanfare we all equate with 2001.

 

On a simpler note, I dreamed of winning the Lotto Max and buying oodles of white Burgundy.  Anyone surfing through the posts here knows we have a soft spot for Olivier Leflaive.  This bottle came to me from my sister, who stayed at his hotel in Puligny-Montrachet, then brought a bottle all the way back to Canada for her brother.  O lucky day!  I do hear a hymn.

 

One of my favorite character actors, George Sanders, could lean against a brick wall and bring more to a scene with a raised eyebrow than his much more famous contemporaries flailing about with spot lighting and myriad props.  If you know what I mean, that is this wine.

 

It takes a certain type of person to carry off a cravat

It takes a certain type of person to carry off a cravat

Price: Gifted, but the 2010 was available at Marquis for $110.

 

Market Liquidity: Ethereal.  I can’t even remember drinking it.