Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bordeaux 2009 here we come!

Tomorrow morning we (Jan van Roekel and I) will step into the car and drive up to Bordeaux. Full schedule ahead with lots of exciting visits! I won't be updating this blog until after we're back, I think.

But you can follow us via Twitter. If there's something interesting to say I will tweet it.

Can't wait to taste this promising vintage!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Léoville-Las-Cases introduces Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases

Today Château Léoville-Las-Cases announced the birth of a second wine, Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, the 2007 vintage being the first year for this new wine. A smart, yet logical step.

Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases
Until today the Clos du Marquis was regarded as the estate's second wine, but other than with most second wines the Clos du Marquis is in the first place a different wine. It was created long before the vast parade of Bordeaux second wines arrived, the first vintage of the Clos du Marquis being 1902!

With the arrival of the Petit Lion the two old wines are now explicitly presented as "first wines", the Léoville-Las-Cases of course remaining the estate's Grand Vin (there can only be one Grand Vin).

The most important part of the former Léoville domain (before Léoville-Barton and later Léoville-Poyferré were split off) was, and is, the walled "Grand Clos" which lies directly South of Latour. Today this famous vineyard produces the fruit for the Léoville-Las-Cases. The Clos du Marquis vineyards are situated more to the West, further away from the Gironde.

If you want to read about this in more detail, check out Chris Kissack's website, he's also a nice little map showing the two separate vineyards.

The new second wine will be more like most second wines: made from fruit that for quality-reasons is not (yet) fit for the first wine. In this specific case: some parts of the Grand Clos have been replanted recently, and the berries from the young vines are now harvested for the Petit Lion.

Whereas Léoville-Las-Cases is a marked vin de garde, the Petit Lion is meant to be uncorked earlier. What helps: the high proportion of merlot (85%) in the blend - the remainder being cabernet sauvignon. The wine matures for 12 months in French oak, of which 10% new barrels. Yields are around 40 hectolitres per hectare. It seems the consumer price for this wine will be around 30 to 35 euro's.

I will be at the château on March 30 and perhaps - besides the primeurs - the Petit Lion will be presented as well. I'm curious, and I will keep you up to date.

Note: it is possible to pre-order this wine via Bolomey Wijnimport.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Light red wines from the Loire

In my last post I wrote about basic Burgundies that I really like. Today I will broaden the subject of... dangerously delicious wines, i.e. light, fresh, pure and highly digestible red wines.

Damien Delecheneau Touraine Amboise Bécarre
I confess: the more wines I have tasted, the more that I love (good) light red wines; and also, the better I know what it is that I wish to find in these wines: besides the aspects mentioned above that is: energy and life. These wines are dangerous because they are so easy to drink.

Besides Burgundy great light reds can be found in the Loire valley. I have tasted many reds from this region and there are - at least - two wines that I fell in love with: the Orléans rouge from Hubert Piel's Clos Saint-Fiacre and the Touraine Amboise "Bécarre" from Damien Delecheneau. Both wines definitely will not please everyone. People who search for fat, oak and velvet will not understand why one would drink these wines.

Fat, oak and velvet can be lovely to smell and taste, say as lovely as a Belgian chocolate can be. I will never say No to a delicious Neuhaus bonbon. And I will even eat two or three of these bonbons, but more... that's getting kind of difficult. It's the same with wine. I love the taste and the mouth-feel of - say - a Californian Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards (Healdsburg) which was recently offered to me. As impressive and beautiful as a Neuhaus, balanced power, acidity as well... very convincing and grand. But at the same time: two glasses is enough.

The subject of light red wines is definitely a pet topic at the tastings that I organise, at least most of the time. It can be difficult to accept that some people simply have a totally different opinion about it and do not like the supple youthfulness that I'm introducing. At the same time it's great when people freak out when they taste the pure cabernet franc from the mentioned Bécarre, or the Champagne-blend pinot meunier plus pinot noir from the northerly Orléans rouge.

If you are curious, check out my offers or contact me. I think you won't be disappointed. Perhaps you will be surprised. By the way, the inspiration for this posting comes from another refreshing drink: a Kir Royal. Tonight I felt the decadent urge to mix my Champagne Barnaut Grande Réserve Brut with a shot Crème de Cassis de Dijon from Edmond Briottet. Let me conclude: highly recommended.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Enjoying simple red Burgundy

Burgundy is expensive. Even simple Burgundy - AC Bourgogne - can still be quite expensive, at least when compared to other regional French appellations. And it is easy to be disappointed: there's plenty of meagre and spineless stuff out there. So what do we have to look at when choosing a Burgundy? The answer is as simple as difficult. What we need to look at: who's the producer?

Bourgogne rouge 2007 by Domaine Arlaud, Anne Gros, David Clark and Henri Gouges
The minority of growers who produce top Burgundy are capable of rendering something unbelievable and irresistible. That's great, but my budget does not allow me to drink a Grand Cru every day. Wines that I like looking for (and drinking) are simple Burgundies that give a lot of pleasure for a friendly price.

As said, there's enough lifeless juice out there at that level. Also, there are enough growers who produce a dull generic wine, and once the pedigree gets more valuable, more energy is put in the final product. Say the Bourgogne rouge is flat, the communal appellation is okay (but at 30 euros or so already too expensive for what it offers), and only the premier and grand cru's are interesting. I don't like that. What I like: if a grower puts the same amount of dedication in his simple wine as in his grand vin.

To me that says something about the grower's philosophy. In short: he or she is aiming for quality, for the best that every terroir is capable of bringing forth.

Tonight I am enjoying - slightly chilled - a Bourgogne Rouge 2007 from Henri Gouges. Lovely, fresh pinot, lean and energetic. Perhaps a tiny little bit too oaky but really this is a detail. Other simple Burgundies that I love are the Bourgogne Rouge from Anne Gros (is this the best simple Burgundy I have ever tasted?) and - very affordable - the Roncevie (Bourgogne Rouge) from Domaine Arlaud. Finally there are the special and rare David Clarks that I import myself. But with Clark a simple Burgundy almost becomes a serious grown-up, say a wine of respectable village or even premier cru level - his wines also need more time to present themselves.

Enough talking, I am going to pour myself my last glass of Gouges' Bourgogne rouge.