An experience I had a few weeks ago made me think about aging less expensive wines. We were on vacation in Montreal. On our last day we went out for brunch. We were both having fish dishes so we chose a half bottle of white to go with our meal. The wine was listed as Domaine de la Bongran, Vire Clesse, 2002. That’s right, 2002.
Vire Clesse is in the Macon region of Burgundy. Macon is known for making good solid, less expensive white Burgundy from the Chardonnay grape. While White Burgundy’s from the Cote Du Or are frequently aged, though no so commonly for eleven years, almost all wines from the Macon are consumed fairly young. Many sources say they should be drunk before they turn five. It is so unusual to see an eleven year old Macon that I asked our server if the wine list had a typo and if it was actually a 2012. She thought it was but checked. When she told us that no it was a 2002, we considered selecting something else but curiosity got the better of us.
Boy am I glad it did. It was fantastic, better than the very reputable (and expensive) Burgundy we had earlier that week when celebrating our anniversary. So kudus to the wine maker and I will keep an eye out for their wines in the future.
It’s always great to enjoy an unexpected treat. What prompted me to write about it was that there are probably a lot of good wines that can be even much better if they get a chance to age. They don’t have to be the top wines available. So, if you have the opportunity, and a way to properly store your wine, why not put down a couple of extra bottles that you enjoy. They may become something more. If they don’t, the investment was probably small and you will have learned something. If they turn great, for a small investment, you can enjoy a rare pleasure while congratulating yourself on how smart you are.
Due to internet problems with Time Warner, The Wine Populist may be offline until we get a more reliable service provider.
This weekend we had a fantastic cheese that I bought at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market in Vermont. It was a wash rind cow’s milk cheese called “Cuvette” made by Spoonwood Cabin of Jacksonville, Vermont. When I bought the cheese, I said that I thought it would go well with a red Burgundy. The cheese maker agreed but added that he loved it with Champagne. When I discussed the choice with my wife, she suggested we try both.
Since a red would go best with what we had for the rest of the meal (grilled pork chops with wild trumpet mushrooms and panzenella (an Italian bread salad) we started with a Beaune Cent Vignes, Premier Cru, 1995, from Chateau De Meursault. This wine is one of the few left from when we could afford really good Burgundies. It was magnificent with the pork chops and good, but not as good, with the cheese. The cheese was so big in flavor and frankly so rich that it accented the wines acidity and tannins more than its earthiness and fruit flavors. It wasn’t a bad match, just not what I had hoped for.
So on to the Champagne; here I was again surprised. I had thought the cheese would overwhelm the more delicate Champagne. We were drinking the Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, NV. It was a perfect match. For from overwhelming the wine, the cheese brought out the wines fruit flavors and a bit of its yeast. The wine’s acidity showed of the richness of the cheese while stopping it from being cloying. The cheese maker had suggested sprinkling a little Champagne on the cheese. We tried it and that brought out the sweetness of the milk used in the cheese.
So we had a fantastic meal and I learned a few things about food and wine pairings. That’s a nice way to learn.
Friends can be a great source for new wines. On Sunday I tasted two brought over by our friends Alex and Dania to have with dinner. The first was a very nice inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc from Rumania, Jidvei, Tarnave Region, Sauvignon Blan,c 2011. I find Sauvignon Blanc’s to be reliably good inexpensive white wines. Their crisp citrus flavors and acidic balance make them good summer wines. There aren’t many bad ones out there. This one when a bit further. It had a bit more body than most wines in its price range (under US $10). It also had a fairly long mineral after taste that I find appealing.
My experience with wines from Rumania is not very large and frankly has been a mixed bag. This one is on my list and look forward to trying other wines from the producer.
An interesting article on attempts to reduce wine counterfeiting. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/22/wine-producers-go-hi-tech-to-protect-against-fraud/
Can I be the Repo man?
This past weekend My wife and I enjoyed going on the Long island City Open Studio Tour. One painter’s work, Elinore Schnurr, caught our eye as she likes to paint bar scenes and we like bars. She graciously sent us this image to post. Many Thanks Elinore.
The artist’s contact information is below.
Last year I attended The New Zealand Wine Fair (see http://thewinepopulist.com/?p=143). When invited to go again this year I was happy to. Once again I was impressed with the high quality of all the wines offered. While I tasted wines from some of the same vineyards as last year, I made an effort to taste as many new ones as possible.
One vineyard, te Pa, really stood out. Their Marlboro Sauvignon, 2012 was one of the best at the tasting with a very nice balance of fruit and acidity but with the added pleasure an almost briny mineral finish. I wanted a dozen oysters to go with it. The Pinot Gris 2012 was also at the top of the flock. Pinot Gris is a grape from Alsace, in France. There it makes perfumed and fruity wines with a lot of acid to balance the fruit. Some are made with a touch of residual sugar. I usually like Alsatian Pinot Gris. The same grape under the name Pinot Grigio is a popular Italian white wine. There it is most often made in a much more restrained style that frequently is rather boring. te Pa’s Pinot Gris reminded me of the Alsatian ones but with a fresh tasting cleanness that is typical of New Zealand Whites.
Making characterful red wines is one place that New Zealand has a ways to go. Most that I have tasted are well made but not very exciting. The Marlboro Pinot Noir, 2011 from te Pa showed that this did not have to be the case. It had much of the complexity of a good Burgundy while keeping the freshness that the whites have. So here is the bad news, if you are in the US, te Pa does not yet have an importer. I do hope one picks them up so that I can enjoy these wines more than once a year.
Some of the other wines that I liked, and fortunately are available here were the Jules Taylor Pinot Gris, Marlboro, 2012 which had real character; The Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Clair Family Estate, and a bit of a surprise, Sleni Estate’s Cellar Selection Chardonnay, Hawkes Bay 2012 which at a suggested retail price of $12.99 US was one of the least expensive wines on offer.
Just a quick note: The importer for Jules Taylor wines reminded me that the wine I tasted was from 2010, not 2012, as it said in the catalog. They had some shipping problems and ended up with different wines. I look forward to tasting the 2012 as well.
I recently attended a tasting of Vintage Ports. See http://thewinepopulist.com/?p=219 for a discussion of the basics of fortified wines such as Port. Each of the seven producers had a vintage 2011, and six producers also had another vintage of their choice. It was interesting how similar the 2011’s were while how different the other wines were. Each of the 2011’s were big round tasting wines with definite raisin notes. Cockburn’s and Warre’s were the most distinctive of these wines. The wine from Cockburn’s had a defiantly spicy flavor. The Warre’s had more acidity and was to my taste a more balanced and elegant wine than the other 2011′s at the tasting.
The vintage Ports ranged from a young of 2007, provided by Smith and Woodhouse to the oldest being a 1980 from Grahm’s. I don’t know if it was due to the difference in vintages or that house styles show up more in time but these were a much more diverse group of wines then the 2011’s. One again the Warre’s was a bit more acidic and subtle and the Cockburn’s a bit more spicy. They both were more complex and interesting then the 2011’s. The oldest wine, a 1980 from Grahm’s was a beautiful wine that was complex and nuanced but still tasted very fresh and young. The Quinta do Vesuvio, 1994 was less impressive but still a very nice and fresh tasting wine. Dow’s 1985 was very rich and a bit overwhelming. It would go great however with strong blue cheese, which can be hard to match with a wine. The remaining producer, Quinta de Roriz was under new ownership and thus only provided the 2011 vintage.