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Monday, May 25, 2009

Two terrific '00 CDPs in their prime

Janasse Chaupin '00
To me, this represents all that is intoxicating about the perfume of old vine Grenache. The sensual bouquet of allspice, cinammon stick, cassis, cherry liqueur and the black licorice essence rocket from the glass. The mouthfeel is pure and lush, expanding over the palate w/ fabulous breadth and depth. The intensity of the '00 Chaupin keeps its flavors alive, which never seeming heavy or dull. I've had this wine numerous times and this is by far the most impressive showing yet; just an outstanding vintage for Janasse, 95 points.

Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvee du Papet, 2000
This wine is cruising its way into maturity, displaying a savory nose of grilled rosemary, cedar, hearty plum, salted pork and pepper. The palate shows good concentration, w/ a chewy overlay sweet raspberry fruit pushing the mineral core through the fresh, juicy finish, 93 points.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The best rose I've had all year

At half the price of Tempier and a stylistic counterpoint to Mordoree, this exemplifies why my knees buckle from great Pinot Noir rose.

Lucien Crochet Pinot Noir Rose '08

It seems like there is something about Sancerre’s pedigree that bodes exceptionally well for Rose (or it could be simply due to the Pinot Noir influence) and Lucien Crochet’s ’08 is a case and point. The nose is redolent of the strawberry fields I used to traipse through as a kid, w/ flickers of green apple peel, rose petals, watermelon and chalk dust scents filling out the bouquet. The mouth-feel has a crystalline purity to it, akin to the juicy sensation of biting into freshly picked fruit. This is a seamless beauty, w/ uncanny finesse and a nervy mineral core that unfolds itself slowly on the long finish. It may seem crazy for me to say, but this rose seems crafted to age a la Cotat, 92 points.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Exciting News from your Tireless Staff at Unidentified Appellation

Drum roll please....
I'm excited to say that Unidentified Appellation has teamed w/ Ben Sherwin, author of the blog 'what belongs to the day,' to launch a new podcast series. Each episode will be about a half hour in length and we plan to make them available on itunes (and other various channels) very shortly. Ben and I will go back and forth; covering today's controversies in wine, hot topics, current events and, of course, do some serious drinking! We plan on tackling regions large and small through blind-tasting, verticals, horizontals and diagonals. In addition, Ben and I also plan to record a series of interviews w/ winemakers and vintners from all ends of the philosophical spectrum. We both champion diversity and thrive on debate....two things that we believe will make our series one to look out for.

The first 3 casts have already been taped and the editing team is hard at work, readying them for take-off. I will keep you all abreast of podcast updates here at the appellation. Cheers to the new wine horizon...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Barrage of '07 CDP Continues

Domaine St. Prefert, Auguste Favier ‘07

This took quite a bit more time and coaxing to come out of its shell than the entry level cuvee, but patience paid off, bringing out that alluring floral note I always seem to get from this cuvee (the 15% old vine Cinsault?). The entry is sleek, weaving in mouth-filling layers of violet, creamy raspberry and fruitcake into the fray. The texture couldn’t be any suppler if it tried, complete w/ the length and purity of fruit that calls to mind Usseglio’s Mon Aieul cuvee. This is a few years away from prime drinking, but I imagine it has a couple of decades of life ahead of it, 95 points.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Let the onslaught of 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape begin

Isabel Ferrando's '07s, while potentially fantastic in tank, have more than eclipsed what I thought they'd be in bottle. The base cuvee was like a ticking time bomb...rocketing old vine Grenache shrapnel through the air once the cork was popped.

Domaine St. Prefert CDP 07
A brief smell leaves me w/ one thought...WOW. Outrageously intense and exuberant, a la Clos St. Jean, the nose of plum cake, spice box, blackberry liqueur and cocoa dusted herbs is to die for. Expands rapidly over the palate, dousing the mouth from cheek to cheek w/ exhilarating, full-throttle flavors that speak of the vintage in volumes. In spite of its layers of flavor, you can still get a sense of how firm the backbone is. This is a surreal experience for an entry level wine, 94 points.

Cuvee Auguste Favier is next on tap...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

In case you're wondering...

I haven't taken a nose dive off the reservation, nor have I traded in the Chateauneuf bandwagon for the next big thing. I suppose there is a bit of Chenin fever in the spring air (which I'm going to breath out briefly on this next post), but never fear, CDP will soon be here. I picked up a couple bottles of top flight, early release '07s (that I've tasted in barrel previously) and will post on them a bit later this week. Until then...Vouvray is in the house:

Foreau Vouvray Sec, ‘05
This is a lightning rod of an ’05 Vouvray, w/ an effusive nose; complete with almond, fresh ginger, quince, chive and lemon peel notes. The flavors whirlwind their way through the palate, uncoiling over a flinty, chalk dusted spine. The finish keeps cackling away, firing away mineral notes left and right. In spite of its youth, this ’05 is already fantastic, delivering all the nervy, feather-weight goods I look for in dry Chenin, 92 points.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A contrast in style from two great winemakers

It doesn’t get much better for Chenin Blanc than Huet or Foreau, and juxtaposing a sec and demi-sec from these two masters of their craft is quite a jolt to the system to the Chenin uninitiated. The beauty of it all is that the price of admission for top Loire is hardly a luxury-based proposition. While the real virtues of Chenin lie in its longevity (Huet would probably bar me from buying his wines if he knew I killed any of his babies before the age of ten), I’m known to experiment w/ wines in their infancy from time to time ;)

A technical adjustment in labeling from Champagne to Chenin is that Sec and Demi-Sec indicate dry to off dry in the Loire as opposed to very sweet to semi-sweet for bubbles (the A.O.C. doesn’t exactly standardize for simplicity). The ’04 Foreau Vouvray Sec is a bone dry, bracing expression of Loire Chenin Blanc. The nose had a tinge of spring flowers and crushed almonds. The entry is electric, enveloping the mouth in a sandstone-like grip, drenched in minerality and spiced green fruits. The finish reminds me of a biting, Sauvignon Blanc-like flavor, cackling away on a herb-inflicted, citric note.

The ’02 Huet Demi-Sec Let Mont visually is a darker, more golden colored wine, with a frank sense of richness that jets through the wine's aromas. The scents of marmalade, marzipan and honeysuckle turn creamy and driven in the palate. The flavors are fascinating; while thick and intense, there's a spicy, pleasant bitterness that comes through in the form of persimmon and quince fruit, shading this demi-sec w/ a real edge. While texturally this is a stark contrast to Foreau’s sec, it shares the imbedded chalky spine and spicy, floral characteristics that always seem to come through in good Vouvray.

The Huet calls for richer fare (cream sauce-based dishes come to mind) and will really benefit from extended cellaring, while the Foreau is drinkable now, yet has the skeleton to last close to another decade. Each are excellent, yet distinct glimpses into the complexities of fine Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley. If you’ve never tasted one, there's no better place to start than from one of these stalwarts of the Vouvray appellation. Fine wine doesn’t get much more recession proof than this.

Foreau Vouvray Sec '04 89 points
Huet Demi-Sec Le Mont '02 92+ points