Sunday, December 30, 2012

Laatste gedachten in 2012

We zijn er nog. Alle profetieën ten spijt, de wereld is er nog. En zo ook de klassiek-Franse terroirs, ze zijn voor ons behouden gebleven. De Bourgogne ligt er nog, en de Champagne. Fijn. En toch kunnen we ons zorgen maken.


nieuw in de selectie, de uiterst zeldzame Rosé Brut Nature van Georges Laval (biologisch sinds 1971)

Want als we de bewegingen van de continenten naar de toekomst doorvertalen, dan verdwijnt over zo'n 50 miljoen jaar de Middellandse Zee, als Afrika de oversteek naar Europa heeft voltooid. De zee zal plaatsmaken voor een enorm gebergte dat zich zal uitstrekken van het Iberisch schiereiland helemaal tot aan het Midden Oosten.

Of de mensheid dat allemaal nog meemaakt, ik denk het niet. En of de Bourgogne er dan nog is? En de Alpen, zullen die zijn verworden tot een nieuwe Jura (en is de Jura zelf weg-geërodeerd)? En is de Bordeaux misschien wel op ijzige hoogten komen te liggen?

Enfin, zo ver is het nog niet. Wel bereiken we in 2013 een andere mijlpaal: Bolomey Wijnimport bestaat 5 jaar. En dat vieren we met de toevoeging van een vijfde gebied aan de portfolio. Dus Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne en Loire wordt in het vervolg Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne, Loire, en dan nog iets.

Wat dat 'nog iets' dan is, is nog even een verrassing. Het ligt in ieder geval in Frankrijk. En Jan van Roekel en ik gaan er begin januari heen, dus u hoort er vast snel over.


10 december 2012: aankomst van de Champagnes

Het jaar 2012 hebben wij anti-cyclisch doorgebracht, we vonden het beter om ons niet te laten afleiden door de crisis. Zo hebben we ook dit jaar weer een sloot gave Champagne aangevoerd, en zie daar: het meeste is inmiddels op.

Dank aan u allen voor uw enthousiasme in 2012! Jan - inmiddels full-time aan Bolomey Wijnimport verbonden - en ikzelf zullen in 2013 weer hard ons best doen om u het komend jaar opnieuw van puur-authentiek-verrassend Frans te voorzien.

Afrika is nog niet in zicht vanaf de Côte d'Azur, dus het kan nog.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Slovakian wines!

Dwayne PERREAULT - Being Canadian, when I think of Slovakia I think of ice hockey players. The Šťastný brothers. Marián Hossa. Zdeno Chára. Miroslav Šatan. But the fact is, Slovakia also makes some pretty fine wines. The reason you haven’t tried any is because they are exported mainly to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, while the majority are consumed in Slovakia itself. So what’s a wine lover to do? Travel to Slovakia of course!

I was in Budapest this July, and my friend has a summer house just across the Slovakian border near Strekov (Kürt in Hungarian), which happens to be a major wine region in south-west Slovakia. This area is mainly Hungarian speaking and was in fact a part of Hungary up until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. You won’t find many tourists here, and if you do they’ll tend to be the Slavic speaking variety. It’s just the kind of place I like to visit: off the western map, where Gypsies push carts down the village streets.



We visited two wineries in Strekov; I was both intrigued and impressed. Let’s start with impressed. Strekov 1075 is an interesting name for a family winery, with 12 hectares of vines on principally sandstone soils containing copious amounts of calcium and iron. According to co-owner Tibor Melecsky, the first documents for grape growing here stem from the 16th century.

When considering east European wines, it helps to have a historical perspective. During the communist era, there were strict rules for wine producers, with the emphasis being on bulk wines for the proletariat. Now there is freedom, the emphasis is on producing quality wines, but nowhere have I seen such a passion for “doing it our own way.” It’s an almost stubborn approach, experimental to the point of being daring. Every single wine I tasted, for example, was produced using wild yeasts existing in the vineyard. There are few producers in the west who would risk using these unpredictable yeasts, which may or may not turn wine into vinegar.

But as for Strekov 1075: they seem to know what they’re doing. To start with, their Rizling Vlassky (Welsh Riesling) sur lie 2009 has a beautiful lustrous bright gold colour and a bouquet containing a sour component which makes me think of mead. The wine is thick, almost oily in the mouth yet has surprisingly good acidity for a wine vinified sur lie, almost steely with a mineral expression. There are dimensions here, honey with stone fruits and a hint of oak.

The Devin 2009 is a sublime wine which seriously could hold its own against Sauternes. Devin is a cross between Traminer and Red Veltliner and the wine has a gold colour and a very grapey nose with wooden spice notes. Deliciously sweet with layers of complexity, it even has a slight petrol. Aged 14 months in a 500 liter barrel, it has a truly beautiful noble sweetness which left me strangely silent and pensive after tasting.

Moving to the reds, the Corpus Modrý Portugal (Blauer Portugieser) 2011 has a very light purple colour, Burgundy-like with a bouquet of raspberry and chocolate. Tart red fruits in the mouth with medium high acidity, low in tannins with an almost buttery finish. A light and lively wine, perfect for a picnic.

The Svatovavřinecké (St. Laurent) 2009 has a dark purple colour and a bouquet of dark grapes with spicey oak and pepper. This incredibly fruity wine is very much concentrated on berries – dark berries and blueberries, high in acidity and low in tannins. This is a wine meant to be quaffed; indeed it should be, since practically no SO2 is added. I swear, after the wine sat in my glass for ten minutes I could already taste the oxidation. Drink it fast and fresh, preferably slightly chilled on a hot day.

Finally, the Alibernet 2011 is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet which was created in the Ukraine. Coming from young vines (approximately five years old), it is dark in colour with a funky purple fruit nose with a barnyard component. It has a thicker mouth feel with that animal/brett taste in the offset. Perhaps not a wine for everyone, but intriguing to say the least and not unpleasant.

After a delicious lunch of homemade goulash, we visited the next winery, Strekov – Kasynik. Owner/winemaker Gábor Kasynik owns 2.5 ha of land, with another 2 ha rented. The Veltlinske Zelené (Grüner Veltliner) 2011 Classic has a piercingly fragrant bouquet of green apple and honey. Barrel-fermented sur lie in 8-10 year old barriques, this a very expressive, not subtle wine with a fiery and spicey character. Lots of white pepper, it even made me sneeze!

The Sauvignon Blanc Selection 2011 has a floral nose of citrus fruits with pepper. The grapes are left one day on their skins, covered with CO2, before being pressed. I’ve never tasted Sauvignon like this before, heavier and somewhat oxidized but still containing some acidity. It’s a style which might not please many foreigners, but 600 bottles are produced annually and enjoyed by the local population.

Finally, the Dülö ‘Initium Red’ 2011 Classic is made from 90% Zweigelt and 10% Kékfrancos, or Blaufränkisch as it is called in Austria. According to Gábor, Zweigelt has a bad reputation in Slovakia due to the communist era, when it was overcropped to produce bulk wines. Not a lot of depth here, but a very lively and fruity wine with a youthful purple colour, low in tannins with good acidity and some residual sweetness.

It’s not wine, but a special mention must be made for pálinka, a fruit brandy most often made from plums. Hungarians and Slovaks alike eschew industrial pálinkas, insisting that the best stuff is distilled at home in the basement. A good pálinka burns while going down, I was told. I reckon it has about 45% alcohol, and this stuff would put hair even on Brad Pitt’s chest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Proeverij met producenten - fotoverslag!

Wat te zeggen over een proeverij die heel veel bezoekers trok? Ja, dat het een succes was. Maar foto's zeggen meer. Dus een fotoverslag.

Op 4 en 5 november organiseerden Bolomey Wijnimport (Franse wijnen) en Verkerk Wijnimport (Italiaanse wijnen) een proeverij met producenten in de bovenzaal van het hoofdstedelijke Restaurant As.



Dit is zo'n ruimte waar je de hele dag kunt zijn zonder je opgesloten te voelen, en dat zonder dat er één raam is. In het midden hadden we een eiland van stemmig steigerhout opgesteld, en daar stonden de producenten uit Frankrijk en Italië.



Gedurende deze twee dagen zijn er zo'n 400 liefhebbers van spannende, pure wijnen, komen proeven. En veel daarvan hebben daarvoor flinke oud-Hollandsche regenbuien getrotseerd. Echte liefhebbers dus die zich niet snel laten afschrikken.



Twee van de schenkers: op de achtergrond Jan van Roekel (Bolomey Wijnimport) die de Bourgognes inschonk, op de voorgrond Richard Dietz (Vindict) die een waaier van Champagnes aan de bezoekers liet proeven: Barnaut, Emmanuel Brochet, Ulysse Collin, Vouette & Sorbée, en Georges Laval. Alleen al een reden om erbij te willen zijn.



Uit Frankrijk over: 8 Loire-producenten en 2 Bordeaux-producenten. Op de voorgrond vertelt Mileine Oosterlinck over haar Domaine de Juchepie (Coteaux du Layon), daarachter staat Toby Bainbridge die pas dit jaar volledig met z'n eigen domein is begonnen - volgens Nicolaas Klei maakt hij holbewonershuiswijn, en dat is een compliment. Vin naturel Groslot van oude stokken!



Tania Carême met haar Vouvrays. Jonge producent, top Vouvray, nog niet geheel arrivé, super puur en energiek. Culinair zo veel meer mee te doen dan ik überhaupt zou kunnen bedenken. Lucky sommelier die dit ontdekt.



Ten slotte de Bordeaux-hoek. Didier Galhaud van Château Guiraud met een indrukwekkende line-up Château Guiraud: 2005, 2007, 2009 en 2011. En op de voorgrond Stéphanie Destruhaut met een flight Clos du Jaugueyron Haut-Médoc en Clos du Jaugueyron Margaux. Allemaal biologische Bordeaux. Het kan, en het is ongelofelijk gaaf.

Wie er verder nog waren uit de Loire: Coralie Delecheneau (Amboise), Agnès & René Mosse (Anjou), Hubert & Bénédicte Montigny-Piel (Orléans), Jean-François Mérieau (Touraine), Frédéric Sigonneau (Chinon) en Eddy Oosterlinck (Coteaux du Layon, staat op de foto de Guirauds te proeven).

Voor wie dit allemaal gemist heeft, en dus ook alle geweldige Italiaanse wijnen van Mattijs Koornneef van Verkerk Wijnimport: we gaan het nog een keer doen, volgend jaar.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bordoverview Blog becomes Bolomey Blog - en aankondiging proeverij en diner!

October 2007 marked the birth of a new wine blog: Bordoverview Blog, the sibling of Bordoverview.com, the site that only contains nerdy numbers. In five years we have written some 228 postings, stories about the Bordeaux primeurs, and stories about other fascinating wines.

Now, in October 2012, after a first long silence, we have decided that the blog will continue in a different way: it is being unhooked from the international Bordoverview website, and we cling it onto the Dutch Bolomey Wijnimport website.

We thank all our - non-Dutch - readers for following this blog the last 5 years! The upcoming postings will be... in Dutch, Sorry about that. From now on it will mostly be about the wines that are imported by Bolomey Wijnimport. But for sure also about the Bordeaux primeurs, so if you read Dutch, please stay with us!

The only exception in English will be the future postings by my Canadian but Amsterdam-based friend Dwayne Perreault. No problem, as everybody in the Netherlands perfectly understands English.

But as we want to be 'closer' to our Dutch customers, it makes sense that we continue this blog in Dutch. Besides myself, also Burgoholic Jan van Roekel will write for the new Bolomey Blog.

[end of Bordoverview Blog]

*** click ***

[begin van Bolomey Blog]

Het begin begint met een aankondiging! Namelijk die van de Grote Jaarlijkse Overzichtsproeverij met Producenten. Dit jaar voor het eerst in samenwerking met Mattijs Koornneef van Verkerk Wijnimport!

Deze proeverij is op zondag 4 november, en op maandag 5 voor de professionals (sommeliers, wijnschrijvers etc.). Plaats van handeling is Restaurant As, en er komen maar liefst 15 getalenteerde producenten naar Nederland!



Omdat de proeverij voor liefhebbers niet echt te missen is, zit ie inmiddels flink volgeboekt. Maar in de eerste shift is er nog wel wat plaats, zie de website voor details en aanmelden. If you snooze, you loose. Zo simpel is het.

Voor wie het proeven overdag nog niet genoeg is: 's avonds is er in Restaurant As een diner met de 15 wijnmakers. Drie gangen puur eten, veel heel lekkere wijnen, en dat alles voor €50 per persoon. Dat wordt dus een top-avond. Wilt u zich aanmelden voor dit diner wees dan snel, er zijn nu nog plaatsen beschikbaar.

Wellicht tot zondag 4 november in As!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bordeaux 2011 - all out (except for Yquem)

Bordeaux 2011 is clearly a low-interest vintage, that's no news. So why bother writing about it again? I don't know. Perhaps I think the vintage deserves more positive attention than it does, from a quality-perspective.

Regarding prices it is more difficult. I was told that producers have never thought so long about setting the 'right price'. And despite that most people will say they did it wrong. The market shows that these people are right, but time will tell if they still are in a few year's time. The 2011's might become bargains, or they might become Good Value after all.

Compared to the previous two years demand was and is low. Some wines just don't get any attention. But there are positive exceptions. When looking at attention and sales these are the most successful wines of the 2011 vintage, in order of release date. In italic: the main reason for the wine's popularity.

1. April 19 - Capbern-Gasqueton (price –2%)
great value for money, from the Calon-Ségur team

2. April 25 - Doisy-Daëne (price unchanged)
affordable Sauternes with a striking 95-97 Parker rating

3. May 9 - Pontet-Canet (price –34%)
great wine, immensely popular, and released at a fair price

4. May 14 - Lacoste Borie (price –7%)
lovely 2nd wine of GPL (who itself deserves more attention)

5. May 15 - Calon-Ségur (price –31%)
classic value for money, and the wine can be hard to find

6. May 24 - l'Eglise-Clinet (price –64%)
massive price drop for a sought-after Pomerol

7. June 6 late morning - Ducru-Beaucaillou (price –50%)
releases late and 'surprises' with an attractive price

8. June 6 around noon - Vieux Château Certan (price –47%)
the talk of the vintage for the right bank, in top shape

I should add to this that there is also interest in the premier cru's, especially Latour, Margaux and Ausone.

Bordeaux 2011, most of all, seems to be a vintage where people wait to see which way the wind blows. So I will keep you posted.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bordeaux 2011, an update

In Dutch "De Malle" means "The Fool". Perhaps that explains why they, the people at Château de Malle, thought it was a good idea to raise the price of their wine this year—so far De Malle is the 'winner' with a markup of 14% on their 2010 price.

Of course I should take into account that De Malle is a Sauternes, and in fact it are the sweet wines of Sauternes who were most successful in 2011. Most Sauternes have more or less maintained the same price as they had last last year. Perhaps that 14% markup is not even that shocking after all.

No, the real fool is Quintus (perhaps I should write QVINTVS). This used to be Tertre-Daugay, until the château was acquired by Domaine Clarence Dillon (from Haut-Brion and Mission Haut-Brion) who obviously put some serious money into the domain.

But the same vine that produced a wine that was sold for approximately €25 en primeur last year (the Tertre-Daugay 2010), brought forth a wine of a shocking €133 one year later (Quintus 2011). I wonder if the wine sold at all. On Twitter there was much laughter about this release.

The only positive thing that I can say is that the wine is good. I wrote quite nice things about it in my notebook, and also used the word 'promising'. By then I had no idea about the price, and perhaps thought about a modest start in a difficult year, or something like that. For around €25-30 it would have ended up in my list of recommendations. Now it has ended up in the list of commercial miscarriages.


detail of one of the new fermentation vats at Cheval Blanc

There is one wine that clearly proves that this can be done differently. And that is La Tour du Pin, owned and made by Cheval Blanc. Also recently acquired, also owned by a premier grand cru classé, and also from a very good terroir. The important difference is that La Tour du Pin is sold at about 30 euro's. Needless to say, I highly recommend this wine! Made in the same spirit as Cheval Blanc, and really at a fraction of the price.

The last two weeks were crazy. I really hope one day the Bordelais will learn to spread the releases more evenly. Now pretty much all is released within about two weeks. That means that there's hardly any time to process all incoming offers, and that there's definitely no time to write! So I'm glad this Friday is quiet so I can finally publish an update.

The campaign is not completely finished, but most has been released by now. We are still waiting for wines like Duhart Milon, Vieux Château Certan, Léoville-las-Cases and Ducru Beaucaillou.

Let's look at the wines with the most serious price drops. The list is fairly complete and presents all wines up to a price drop of –30%. If you look at the wines from a price-quality ratio it contains some interesting recommendations.

An R means Recommended, RR means Highly Recommended, and RRR means Not To Miss (I foremost looked at the price-quality ratio). The prices shown are indicative consumer prices including VAT in euro's.

–64,0% - La Mission Haut-Brion (297)
–63,8% - l'Eglise-Clinet (139) R
–57,7% - Figeac (99)
–55,1% - La Mondotte (147)
–52,0% - La Conseillante (100) RR
–50,0% - Bellevue Mondotte (150)
–49,3% - Pavie (158)
–47,8% - Pichon Comtesse (100) R
–46,3% - Cheval Blanc (600)
–45,5% - Cos d'Estournel (150)
–45,5% - Haut-Brion (500)
–45,5% - Montrose (100) R
–45,5% - Pichon Baron (100)
–44,6% - Clos l'Eglise (84)
–44,4% - De Valandraud (173)
–44,0% - Malescot St-Exupéry (48) R
–42,3% - Latour (625)
–41,5% - Troplong-Mondot (81)
–41,2% - Clinet (70) RR
–40,9% - Smith-Haut-Lafitte (64) R
–40,3% - Lascombes (61)
–40,0% - Mouton-Rothschild (500)
–39,3% - Haut-Bailly (76) RR
–39,3% - Léoville-Poyferré (72)
–39,2% - Pape Clément (81)
–38,7% - Angélus (191)
–37,5% - Domaine de Chevalier (43) RR
–37,5% - Léoville-Barton (63) RR
–36,8% - La Gaffelière (51) R
–35,7% - Le Gay (76)
–35,0% - Branaire Ducru (45)
–34,9% - Saint-Pierre (48)
–34,0% - Pontet-Canet (92) RRR
–33,7% - Giscours (42) R
–33,3% - Grand-Puy-Lacoste (42) RRR
–33,3% - Clos Fourtet (68) R
–33,3% - d'Issan (46) RR
–33,3% - Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (100)
–33,3% - Le Petit Mouton (100)
–32,8% - Pavie-Decesse (117)
–32,6% - Faugères Cuvée Péby (86)
–32,5% - Croix de Labrie (46)
–32,2% - Clos de l'Oratoire (28)
–32,1% - Le Petit Cheval (155)
–31,4% - Rauzan-Ségla (81)
–31,3% - Calon-Ségur (56) RRR
–31,0% - Lynch Bages (96) RR
–30,6% - Canon (87) R
–30,3% - Lagrange (40)
–30,0% - Canon-la-Gaffelière (56) R
–30,0% - Lafite-Rothschild (650)
–30,0% - Les Gravières (13)
–29,9% - Langoa Barton (45) RRR
+471,4% - Quintus (133)

Note that these price changes are based on the actual Bordeaux release prices. On Bordoverview you find the complete list, sortable any way you want, but here the price changes are based on the average consumer prices.

Plenty of merchants offer Bordeaux 2011 primeurs at competitive prices, that is below the indicative prices above. If you are interested in buying Bordeaux 2011 you are kindly invited to have a look at the Bolomey Wijnimport Bordeaux 2011 offers. And remember: by buying your Bordeaux primeurs at Bolomey Wijnimport you support the free Bordoverview service.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Domaine Anne Gros / Jean-Paul Tollot: two Burgundians in the Languedoc

Dwayne Perreault — What better an endorsement can the Languedoc get than to have one of the top winemakers in Burgundy, a producer of such grand crus as Richebourg, Echezeaux and Clos Vougeot, come to the region, recognize a great terroir when they see it, and take the risk of making a major investment in an area which, let’s be honest, pales in comparison to the reputation of le Bourgogne?


Les Carretals

But that is what Anne Gros and her husband Jean Paul Tollot have done. Having established reputations in Burgundy, they were looking for a new adventure and were considering purchasing a vineyard in the south of France. They came to the tiny hamlet of Cazelles in the Minervois, bordering on St. Chinian, and it was love at first sight. A brand new winery was built in 2008, now sitting on 16 hectares of vines ranging from 5 years to more than 100 years old. Modern, high-tech equipment is used, including three different sized tractors, since the oldest vines are so narrowly planted that not even a quad can pass between them.

I spend part of spring/summer in Roquebrun, and Cazelles is only a half hour drive away, passing through several different landscapes and the beautiful medieval village of Minerve, perched on an enormous gorge. And this is what I love about the Languedoc, the variety of astonishingly different regions and terroirs within such a short distance. The soils of Roquebrun in the mountains are largely composed of shales, both red and black. Heading into St. Chinian on the plain, these shales are complemented by reddish clays. From Minerve, you begin the steady climb, zig-zagging your way along the small highway until you arrive on the plateau of the Minervois itself, just before St. Jean de Minervois, and suddenly you are blinded by the brilliant white limestones so typical of the region, with its millions and millions of jagged stones.


Les Fontenilles

Unfortunately, neither Anne nor Jean Paul were at the domain at the time of our visit, but no problem: we were greeted by the very knowledgeable and friendly chef de culture, Thibaut Bernabeu. We jumped into a jeep and for the next two hours, Thibaut gave us a very extensive tour of the variegated plots. There is an amazing variety of soils here. On the north side of the winery, they are composed largely of sandstone with mixed pebbles and stones. These are small plots surrounded by garrigues of scrubland bush and fragrant herbs, with occasional pine trees. The vines here are younger, roughly 20 year old Grenache and Syrah, 40 year old Cinsault and Carignan ranging from 30 to 45 years. These vines are used to produce the wines La 50/50 (which receives no wood ageing) and Les Fontanilles (only some wood ageing).

Upon crossing to the southern side of the winery, you might think you’ve arrived in a different country. Here the blinding white limestones on top of clay resembles a lunar landscape, and must indeed be brilliant under moonlight. Millions of rocks are strewn about with an occasional oak tree to provide shade. The stones absorb heat, which allows the clay to remain fresh, and this is important in this particularly hot region where drought can be a problem. Some of the vines here are over a hundred years old. The grapes grown here find their way into the top wines La Ciaude (Syrah, Carignan and Grenache) and Les Carrétals (principally old Carignan). All wines fall under the Minervois appellation.

What followed was an extremely interesting tasting, as they were all samples from barriques which are meant for blending. The 2011 Cinsault from the Fontenilles plot (an experiment, not normally put in barrel) had both power and elegance, rich dark fruits and woody tannins. I have never tasted Cinsault like this before.

The 2011 Carignan from different plots at Les Fontenilles was so Carignan, and I say this as a lover of the grape. Very dark berries, more coarse and with a barnyard component.

The 2011 Syrah from Fontenilles had blue and black berries, spicey with a lighter texture, very fruit driven. You taste here very pure fruit, this would make a wonderful cépage wine, no doubt the result of the producer, more Burgundian than Languedoc in nature.

Finally, a sample of the 2011 Carignan (100 year old vines) from Carrétal. A bit of gunsmoke in the nose, and an explosive fruit character. The 2011 is a refined Carignan, wonderful really. It was a pleasure to visit this domain and taste these yet to be blended wines, particularly fascinating because they are made by Burgundians, truly expressing their own vision in the Languedoc.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bordeaux 2011 recommendations

When discussing fine Bordeaux it is common to talk about vintages. Which vintage to buy, and which one to avoid. I don't like that approach.

The difference between vintages is one of the exciting aspects of wine. Isn't the most fascinating thing about wine - as opposed to most other products - that virtually every bottle is different? If you're not into that, why bother dealing with French wines? In hot climates you may find 'great' vintages that are lined up one after another. There the sun always shines, and the irrigation drips...

Boring.

In 2010 I already wrote something about an 'off-vintage', and what to do with it. See here if you're interested: Château Giscours 2007.

Instead of just focusing on vintages I rather focus on producers, as is more common in Burgundy. When I look at the list of Bordeaux 2011 wines that I recommend, it is apparent that there is overlap with my 2010 recommendations from last year. And that's no coincidence. I clearly like the style and approach of certain producers.


Château d'Yquem 2011 tasted at Château Cheval Blanc

For my ideas about the Bordeaux 2011 vintage in general I refer to my previous blog posting. Here I will present the wines that I recommend this year, and for list A & B I add to that the impression that I twittered directly after having tasted the wine, say straight from the heart.

List A. THE FAMOUS MONEY'S-NOT-AN-ISSUE LIST
five monumental wines, price tag neglected

1. Cheval Blanc 2011 "#bdx11 Cheval Blanc impresses: purity, minerality, balance. Same for Petit Cheval & La Tour du Pin(!), recommended! Less fwd fruit this year"
2. Pontet-Canet 2011 "#bdx11 [Vibrant vital Grand Puy Lacoste. Elegant power, precision.] But Pontet-Canet winner this morning. Has it all, seducing, pure, fresh..."
3. Vieux Château Certan 2011 "#bdx11 Vieux Ch Certan mineral, pure & juicy, as always in great shape, with high 29% Cab Franc this year + 1% "salt & pepper" Cab Sauvignon"
4. Margaux 2011 "#bdx11 Impressed by the velvet texture & delicacy of Château Margaux and Pavillon Rouge. Chalky tannins, one of the few drinkable primeurs!"
5. Pétrus 2011 "#bdx11 Pétrus tender & beautifully balanced. Same league as Margaux. Short 17 days maceration to keep out unripe tannins. Comparison: 1975"


Tasting at Vieux Château Certan with Guillaume Thienpont, son of Alexandre Thienpont

List B. SOME MORE IMPRESSIVE WINES
the ones I couldn't get into the previous list

1. Providence 2011 "#bdx11 Moueix wines: Providence young untamed horse, surprising, expressive. Trotanoy stony & attractive. Good also: Certan de May & Hosanna"
2. Ducru-Beaucaillou 2011 "#bdx11 Bruno Borie calls Ducru Beaucaillou 11 Nicole Kidman (10 Charlize Theron, 09 Beyoncé) Cellaring needed for Kidman & she will age well"
3. Latour 2011 "#bdx11 Latour impresses too: elegant power, seductive fruit & ripe tannins. Forts serious wine, precise & quite dense. Not really a 2nd wine"
4. Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2011 "#bdx11 Vibrant vital Grand Puy Lacoste. Elegant power, precision. [But Pontet-Canet winner this morning. Has it all, seducing, pure, fresh...]"
5. Lafite Rothschild 2011 "#bdx11 Lafite-Rothschild beautiful, vital & harmonious, great texture, fine acidity, mineral finish. Carruades great too, tender & elegant."
6. And Sauternes 2011: d'Yquem & De Fargues.

List C. MORE RECOMMENDATIONS PER APPELLATION
not just a 3rd list, these are top-buys and some are even affordable

Margaux: d'Issan, Brane-Cantenac, Giscours, Rauzan-Ségla, Clos du Jaugueyron
Saint-Julien: Léoville-las-Cases, Clos du Marquis, Léoville-Barton, Langoa-Barton
Pauillac: Lynch Bages, Pichon Comtesse, Haut-Batailley, Duhart-Milon, Petit Mouton
Saint-Estèphe: Montrose, Calon Ségur, Lafon-Rochet
Pessac-Léognan rouge: Domaine de Chevalier, Haut-Bailly, Smith Haut Lafitte
Pessac-Léognan blanc: Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte
Saint-Emilion: Tour du Pin, Larcis Ducasse, Canon, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Trottevieille, Le Carré, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Clos Fourtet, La Gaffelière
Pomerol: Nénin, Conseillante, Clinet, Hosanna, Petit Village, Beauregard
Sauternes: Rieussec, Suduiraut, Rayne-Vigneau, Tour Blanche, Doisy-Daëne


The brand new cellar of Château Cheval Blanc

List D. THE BEST VALUE WINES PER APPELLATION
great value for reasonable prices

Moulis: Poujeaux, Chasse-Spleen
Margaux: Du Tertre, Siran
Saint-Julien: Gloria, Lalande Borie, Petit Lion, Croix de Beaucaillou
Saint-Estèphe: Capbern Gasqueton, Ormes de Pez, Dame de Montrose
Pessac-Léognan rouge: Parde de Haut-Bailly, Carbonnieux, Louvière
Pessac-Léognan blanc: Carbonnieux, Couhins, Lespault-Martillac, Latour-Martillac, Olivier
Saint-Emilion: Teyssier, l’Arrosée, Fonroque, Tour Figeac, Grand Corbin-Despagne, Fleur Cardinale, Quintus, Villemaurine
Pomerol: Fugue de Nénin
Sauternes: Lafaurie-Peyraguey, d’Arche

To see what others recommend check out Bordoverview. And the Bolomey Wijnimport offers are and will be presented on the page bordeaux-2011.nl.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bordeaux 2011 - vintage character

In april 2011, when we were cruising the Bordeaux Rocade with temperatures hitting 30 degrees Celsius, we joked about the birth of yet another vintage of the century.

One year later it is clear: Bordeaux 2011 is not another stellar vintage. Thank God. Or better: thanks weather gods.

The result of the summery spring was that Bordeaux 2011 was an exceptionally early vintage: budding was exceptionally early, flowering was, and eventually harvest was early. So far so good.

The extreme drought. That was the main problem for Bordeaux 2011.


The 2011 samples of Cheval Blanc and Petit Cheval in the impressive new barrel room of Château Cheval Blanc

The winter had already been quite dry, so at the beginning of the growing season the water reserves were low. And after the warm and dry spring, a hot and dry June followed. By that time many vines got stressed, that is suffered from water stress: development and phenolic ripening of the grapes got blocked.

The main activity of the vine, of any plant, is photosynthesis:

6 CO2+ 6 H2O (plus warm sunlight) = C6H12O6 + 6 O2

Sugars are built up from carbon dioxide and… water! Without water no photosynthesis and no development. Drought is a prerequisite for a good vintage, but that’s certainly up to a limit. All over Bordeaux water stress was serious in 2011.

The vintage was saved, to a certain extent, in the second half of the summer. Thanks to rain in July, and more moderate temperatures, the vines could more or less recover (but rot arrived too, further diminishing the yields). Thanks to a good late summer the grapes continued to ripen again. But not in the way they did in 2009 and 2010.

Ripening in 2011 is more limited: sugar levels are lower, and full (phenolic) ripeness of tannins in skins and pips is not always there.

Not only the grapes were stressed halfway the growing season. Director Thomas Duroux from Château Palmer for example, had almost decided to skip the 2011 vintage altogether. In June many grapes got sunburnt during the excessively hot days of 26 and 27 June.

As said, the vintage was saved by friendlier weather afterwards, but the yields during harvest were low. In fact, for Palmer they hadn’t been so low since their monumental 1961 vintage (remember: the only wine that got 6 stars from Michael Broadbent).


The vineyard of Vieux Château Certan, Pomerol. "VCC" presented a great wine again this year.

Low yields combined with the effect of hot weather had resulted in small thick-skinned berries. Read: tannins! Yes, Bordeaux 2011 is a tannic vintage.

For the red wines we're looking at an average to above average vintage. We tasted a shipload of 2011s last week, and we found good wines, and wines that were not so good. For the whites, the general opinion is that 2011 is a good to very good year, but to my taste I found quite a few that are lacking freshness (acidity), so I’m going to be picky here as well.

Most winemakers were carefully enthusiastic about what they made this year. Some were jubilant, but that must have been an unfortunate commercial automatism playing up wrong time wrong place. Most surprising were the Bordelais who were explicitly reticent about the Bordeaux 2011 vintage.

Asked how I had found the wines at J-P Moueix, I politely answered that "I tasted some beautiful wines" - which was actually not just politeness, but the truth - but instead of agreement I saw a shooking head before me "No, this is not a great vintage."

An often heard characterization for Bordeaux 2011 is that it is a "classical vintage, in the positive sense of the word". This might ask for some explanation: usually the word "classic" is used as an euphemism for "bad". For Bordeaux 2011 it foremost means that the vintage does not have the sex and fat of the 2009s, and not the power of the 2010s.

So what classical features does it have? Christophe Jacquemin Sablon from Château Pétrus summarized 2011 as follows: tannins = high, acidity = high, sugars = low.


The vineyard of Château Petrus. Their 2011 is very attractive, I think mainly because the Petrus-team 'gently' followed the vintage characteristics

The low amount of sugars besides high tannins and high acidity don't make Bordeaux 2011 an easy vintage. And definitely not to taste en primeur. More than once I suffered from what I call tannins-poisoning: the mouth gets paved with harsh tannins that do not disappear with spitting. Every next wine will taste - more or less - tannic as it releases the tannins that are still present on tongue and palate.

The wines with aggressive, unripe tannins are the ones to cause tannins-poisoning (the remedy is to eat a piece of bread, or to avoid these wines). Over-extraction during winemaking is the most common reason for wines to be unpleasantly tannic.

In years with great ripeness, i.e. phenolic ripeness also of tannins in grape skins and pips, extracting is in fact less dangerous. But in a year like 2011 the best winemakers follow the vintage characteristics and are cautious not to over-extract.

In general the more attractive wines this year aren't the heaviest ones. Here Pétrus is a good example. Pétrus 2010 and 2011 are quite different wines. The 2010 is "high on everything" with lots of fruit, the 2011 is more modest, elegant, and in comparison to 2010 much less dominated by fruit.

The low level of sugar led to wines with less alcohol, and the 13 - 13,5% for this vintage is also more "classical".

Note that for a wine to be tannic is not necessarily bad, as long as the tannins are ripe. Powerful wines with good ripe tannins are for example (from North to South) Montrose, Lynch-Bages, Léoville-Barton, Rauzan-Ségla and Haut-Bailly. These are serious wines for the long, and perhaps very long run.

Unripe tannins make the mouth dry and bitter, it is an unpleasant experience. Ripe tannins especially differ in the finish: they sort of tingle on the tongue. And they tingle off, or should I say tingle away.

Jacquemin Sablon compared the 2011 vintage to the 1975 vintage. That was also a tannic and seriously structured year. The sad story for many of the 1975 Bordeaux’s is that they never really got mature: the hard texture never really softened out, and when it finally did, the rest of what the wine constituted had already died.

It is probable that the 2011s with the toughest (and partially unripe) structure will be facing a comparable unfortunate future. It is for that reason that I would not advise a wine like Pavie 2011. And I would advise a very refined wine like Château Margaux, for me one of the "wines of the vintage".


The 2011 samples of Château Margaux and Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux. Hard to spit!

To summarize: Bordeaux 2011 is a difficult vintage, and only the winemakers who made the right choices (and had some luck) made interesting and sometimes beautiful wines. Of course it depends on pricing too whether these wines are interesting to buy.

The next posting will contain my personal Bordeaux 2011 recommendations. Thus: to be continued!


Update 18 April: as from now on you can follow the Bordeaux 2011 offers on our bordeaux-2011.nl page.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bordeaux 2011 - about to discover

Tomorrow we drive off to Bordeaux to taste the 2011 vintage. Many people have already written and speculated about this new vintage, so I won't. Instead I will give you the link to Chris Kissack's write-up, which is interesting and covers most things that can or should be said. And, across the board, I agree with what he is saying.

You can also check out what early-bird James Suckling writes on his blog, clear and to the point. Suckling publishes earlier than any other wine critic, for what it's worth. Some critics don't need to be fast, which is a more preferable position I suppose.

Sad Bordeaux 2011, the vintage that will always be in the shade of its two monumental predecessors. But it seems everybody is glad that there's not this ecstatic atmosphere again. That couldn't have been there anyway.

So if the quality is fairly good, and if the prices will be quite reasonable, things might become interesting in the end... but let's not start speculating now.

For now I'm just very curious to taste all the wines. Monday morning we start at Château Cheval Blanc and Château Ausone, and the last visit is Friday to Château Pétrus.

And on Saturday we will clean our teeth in Champagne, we'll be visiting Georges Laval (remember, the dry ultra-pure and lively organic-since-1971 Champagne which you can find at Noma, and at Bolomey Wijnimport).

If you want to follow our Bordeaux 2011 impressions from day to day follow Bordoverview on Twitter.

In the course of April primeur offers will appear on bordeaux-2011.nl.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twenty-something Chenins

The more people start drinking the wines that I import, the less time I have to maintain my blog. It's great to see the business grow, but it hurts to see my almost five year old baby (i.e. the blog) suffer from a lack of attention.

It's not that there's nothing to write about, it's finding the time to actually write it down. It's about time to hire someone for the business.

Normally I would have written about the surprisingly pleasant wines from Graubünden and Sankt Gallen that we tasted when we were in Switzerland earlier this month. Wines that are too expensive for the export markets (plus the amounts are small) so you will hardly ever find them abroad. For example the Sinfonie Helig Chrüz from Rathauskeller Mels (AOC St. Gallen). A lovely blend from Pinot Noir, Gamaret and Regent. The Gamaret grape was new for me.

Yesterday we had a blind tasting of 21 Chenin Blancs (plus 1 pirate) from both the Loire region and South Africa. The easiest way to distinguish between the two regions, it appeared, is to look at the amount of acidity, which is, not surprisingly, higher in the Loire. Not that it is easy to tell whether it is the one or the other, I made enough mistakes.

In general you can say that Chenin has many fascinating faces. The organizers brought together a series of very interesting Chenins, we only tasted quality stuff from smaller production. So no supermarket wines in this tasting.

It wasn't so much a tasting with good and bad, it was much more a tasting about styles and preferences. I was able to reconfirm my own preference for lively natural French stuff, but I tasted some beautiful South Africans as well. Most notably the Swartland Mullineux White Blend 2009 and the Teddy Hall Auction Reserve 2010.

To my relief I identified my own three Chenins that I brought in. Carême's Vouvray Sec 2009 was received with much enthusiasm, Delecheneau's Montlouis Clef de Sol 2010 was a faulty bottle unfortunately. It was just awkward and nothing compared to the spirited and linear freshness that I had tasted just 2 days earlier. That happens in tastings, unfortunate bottles being judged, also when you're not there.

The tasting of the third wine caused excitement: Mosse's Anjou blanc 2010. It started with the remark of yet another vin naturel with that apparent yeasty smell. Someone else called it a difficult wine. I disagreed, fiercely, but I tried not to misbehave. The richness and honey, the energy, the thrilling acidity that carries on dancing on the tongue. Nothing difficult about it. It only makes me happy.

Other French beauties: the Clos du Breuil from François Chidaine, a very vital wine, and the Domaine du Collier 2006, an exciting rich and complex Saumur that is well worth discovering.

And I should mention a surprisingly good pirate: there was a lovely Hungarian wine between the Chenins: the Béres Tokaji Furmint Löcse 2008.

So I would have written about that tasting. And I'm afraid I just did. This is clearly the way to proceed: just write. A modest thank you to myself for that simple lesson.

And a thank you to Tom Spronk and Elly de Goede for organizing this wonderful tasting!


- Mullineux & Teddy Hall: Winematters
- Chidaine & Domaine du Collier: Wijnhandel Koninginneweg
- Béres: Miranda Beems Wine Import
- Carême, Delecheneau & Mosse: Bolomey Wijnimport


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Burgundy vs Bordeaux vs Languedoc?

Dwayne Perreault — Comparing Burgundy to Bordeaux to Languedoc wines is like comparing apples to oranges to bananas I suppose, yet it seemed like a novel idea for a tasting, so David Bolomey, Jan van Roekel and myself met recently to open some beautiful bottles. The idea was mine. Being the rather estranged Rhône/Languedoc lover in our little group, I wanted to see how some top Languedoc wines would stack up against similarly priced Burgundy and Bordeaux. We chose €35-50 per bottle as our budget to try to keep it competitive, and the results in my opinion were predictable: you cannot compare apples and oranges and bananas. There was perhaps only one exception. But first, the wines. We decided to start with Burgundy, then move to the Languedoc and then Bordeaux.



Jan fittingly brought a Chambolle-Musigny, "La Combe d'Orveau" 2009 from Anne Gros. I say fittingly, because Jan has worked several seasons picking grapes for Anne Gros and knows her and her wines well. But not only that, Anne Gros is one of the few Burgundian producers who has also expanded to the Languedoc, to Cazelles in the Minervois.

The Chambolle is a beautiful, seductive and elegant Pinot, a feminine wine I would say, with a hint of licorice behind the red fruit, and sublimely integrated oak with a light pepper in the aftertaste. A classic and beautiful red Burgundy, with 13% alcohol.

I provided the next two bottles. First, the Côteaux du Languedoc, Mas des Dames "L'Unique" is indeed unique, as only 666 bottles are made after aging three years in a 500 liter barrique. Only the best Syrah and Grenache grapes are used, at yields of 25 hl/ha. What a change of gears here, very deeply concentrated dark fruits and also an intriguing barnyard note. Silky texture in the mouth with powerful tannins, a well balanced, powerful and truly Languedoc wine, with 13.5% alcohol.

Next, the most atypical wine, the VDP de l'Herault, Mas de Daumas Gassac 2007. In retrospect, I should have served this before l'Unique, as this is a leaner, less robust wine made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% "Variétés rares," whatever that may be. According to winemaker Samuel Guibert, "We belong more to the Bordeaux 1961 attitude—wine with 12.5% alcohol and good acidity. Only 15% new oak is used to get finesse. The wine is no more typical of Bordeaux than it is Languedoc." This is a very expressive wine which may yet in some ways be compared with Bordeaux, with darker notes of coffee and toast with different tannins than the Syrah, well balanced with good acidity.

Finally, it was time to try David's bottle, the Pomerol, La Gravette de Certan 2009. This is the second wine from Vieux Château Certan, still a young vintage with 14% alcohol, though you wouldn’t notice it in the very user-friendly taste. Super elegant, fruit driven (both red and dark berries) with softer, melted tannins held up by upright acidity. There is a beautifully integrated use of wood, not overdone but showing notes of tobacco and spice. The wine remains elegant yet gripping in a quite long, fresh and fruity aftertaste. A truly beautiful right-bank specimen which will only gain more complexity with some bottle ageing.

After tasting, we start drinking. Some cheeses and dry sausages are brought out, and I notice that the Pomerol is the first to disappear. But all of these wines are beautiful representatives of their genres; it gives us more pleasure to enjoy them instead of compare them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loire trip through a handful of tweets

I like Twitter. Twitter forces me to summarize whatever special or noteworthy I experience, in 140 characters. I don't tweet about dull daily stuff, only about things I like. And those likeable things then need to be summarized to its essence. It makes Twitter a sort of diary also. I can look back for example at the few remarks I made when visiting Angers and Champagne last week.

Tweet #1 on 6 Feb 2012 « Tasting with @chris_kissack & @burgoholic at Carême #salonvinsloire True discovery y'day in Chez Rémi - details later http://pic.twitter.com/ijxD7iL1 »



Jan and I tasted some exciting young wines again at the Salon des Vins de Loire. But this is the last time we will be going. The organization decided to thwart the organizers of small 'bio' fairs like Dive Bouteille and Greniers St-Jean and choose a different weekend for their Salon. Great to see my contacts, but it's not the place for the most exciting new discoveries. So next year we will make a short tour along the alternative fairs.

But of course it was good to taste the new vintages of the producers that I work with. Next year I will taste these somewhere else. Perhaps at a smaller fair, perhaps at the domain, perhaps in Amsterdam, we'll see.

At the stand of Vincent Carême (who wasn't there because he was so unfortunate to break his foot) we ran into Chris Kissack (again), whose Winedoctor is one of my favourite resources on the web. I have always wondered how somebody can have such a complete website with so much information and tasting notes. But now I understand: Chris and his laptop are virtually glued together.

The Chinon producer that I've been working with for a few years presented a good new vintage but decided to raise his price by 40%. Perhaps something the Bordelais can get away with, but we felt it was time so look for an alternative. Some time. To our own surprise we ran into something great the same day. More about that later.

I mentioned another discovery that we made in Restaurant Chez Remi. Will also get back to that later. You have to be careful these days. Just heard that one of my 'colleagues' is hunting my Orléans...

Tweet #2 on 6 Feb 2012 « À Chartres Bistrot à Vins: Andouillette "AAAA" sauce moutarde http://pic.twitter.com/Y2lxyv9H »



Yes another event, that evening, in Chartres! A lovely smelly sausage to make followers back in Holland jealous (or not at all). It was an okay andouillette by the way, I have tasted better stuff.

The organic Cheverny that accompanied the food was just okay, actually a bit disappointing. Jan and I did not finish the bottle, and that's quite a bad sign.

Tweet #3 on 7 Feb 2012 « Dégorgement manuel par Emmanuel Brochet. Millésime '06. Exciting organic Champagne. Very refined and ongoing finish... http://pic.twitter.com/Ry84BKmK »



Perhaps the best part of this short trip was our (second) visit to Emmanuel Brochet. We tasted his 2009 Extra Brut plus the millésime 2006. I love his approach. Brochet releases (dégorges) purely based on what he tastes. So after the 2007 now follows the quite accessible 2009. The 2008 isn't ready yet.

And the early batches usually receive a modest dosage, like this 2009 that we tasted (Extra Brut). For later batches of the same vintage the dosage gets smaller and smaller, and might eventually be omitted at all. I'm currently selling the 2007 Non Dosé. A pure beauty!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Ça sent bon!!"

A while ago I stumbled upon a Canadian website that clearly deserves attention. It would have made sense if not me, but Dwayne, the Canadian, would have come up with it, but he hasn't.

This is what I have seen on the web: Bu sur le web. Aurélia Filion tells about wine, in a contagious manner, mostly about natural wines from France. She does that in very intelligible, articulated French (because it is Québécois I guess), and in a few cases also in English.

As an example I show you the French and English version of Mme Filion sharing with us the biodynamic Anjou blanc 2009 from René and Agnès Mosse. As the Dutch importer I am inclined to say that it is good wine (which is an understatement), but I rather have Aurélia say it. Because she says it very clear, and besides that she's nice to look at.

My favourite part is in the French clip, when Aurélia smells the Anjou and shouts out: "ET ÇA SENT BON!!" (while doing a sort of disco thing with her arm). It totally makes you want to smell the wine yourself. The bad news: the 2009 is sold out (a/o bought by Holland's famous wine writer Nicolaas Klei). But the good news: the 2010 has just arrived!

This is the French video. For those who are time-pressured: the ça-sent-bon exclamation happens at 45 seconds:



And here's the English video:



There's more good news: with Mosse's Anjou's (blanc and rouge) and their Savennières a new wine traveled along with this shipment: the Bois-Rouge 2010, a Vin de Table made from 75% cabernet franc plus cabernet sauvignon, both from young vines. This pure vin de plaisir et de soif can only become a hit, there's no doubt. I will keep you posted on that.

Perhaps one day we will see the Bois-Rouge on Bu sur le web...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winemaking Apprenticeship, Mas des Dames 2011, part 2

Dwayne Perreault – To continue from my last posting, which had more to do with the viticulturalist aspect of winemaking, I will now turn to the actual making of wine, which begins with the process of adding yeast to the grape juice, the basis for the wine. Mas des Dames, being an organic estate, wishes to avoid using yeasts which impart flavours, so "levures naturelles," or natural yeasts are used. These actually come from Syrah vines from Guigal in the Rhône.



The question might be asked: why not just use natural yeasts which exist in the vineyard, but oenologist Xavier Billet explains that this at all costs is to be avoided. Some of these yeasts may be from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae family, but others (Brettanomyces, etc.) not. These are unpredictable yeasts which can rapidly turn wine into vinegar, or not. But one chooses for certainty.

The adding of yeast is a delicate process. One kg of dried yeast (for 50 hl, or 20 gm/hl) is added to a 10 litre bucket of water at 35° Celsius and left for an hour. Before adding the yeast solution to the vat of grape juice, special care must be taken that the temperature of the yeast solution and that of the grape juice do not differ by more than 10° Celsius, otherwise thermal shock could ensue, which can hinder or even stop fermentation. Since the yeast is alive and writhing and foaming in the bucket, it does not lose its temperature quickly. To help matters, after an hour we add gradual portions of the cooler grape juice to the bucket, to bring down the temperature. Once the yeast solution has been added to the vat, fermentation begins.



Before long, the vat of grape juice begins to change, with a fine mousse growing on top and becoming thicker by the day. After 48 hours of fermenting we perform our first débourbage, or removal of the lees, the dead yeast cells which collect at the bottom of the vat as sediment. This is done by climbing up a ladder to the top of the vat and inserting a large hose into the tank, thus pumping the clear juice into another vat which has been sealed with CO2.

One could of course choose to vinify sur lie, or with the lees, possibly even pumping over twice a day, the macération sur bourbes, which provides thicker wines, but Lidewij chooses for pure fruit expression and freshness.

Samples are regularly taken from the fermenting vat to measure the density and temperature of the must, the now fermenting grape juice. The sweet pure grape juice contained a lot of natural sugars, which have a higher density than water, precisely 1100 at the beginning of fermentation. These sugars are the food for the yeast required to make alcohol, and as the sugars are converted into alcohol the density of the must will decrease, while its temperature will increase.

Samples of the fermenting must are also taken by Xavier Billet to a laboratory in Béziers to receive a total analysis. Xavier is one of six oenologists for the entire Départment de l’Hérault and all indications point to the Mas des Dames Blanc being a healthy, fermenting wine. But the wine is not only fermented in the vat, it is also fermented en barrique, so after several days it is pumped over into oak barrels, after which it is fined with bentonite. The use of new oak is eschewed, which leads to a more subtle oak influence in the wine, round but with freshness.

Our work in the vineyard was in the meantime interrupted twice by heavy rains, on August 31st and September 4th. This inopportune rain puts harvesting behind schedule, as the grapes become gorged with water (and predisposed to rot). A delay in work means the pickers don’t get payed, and this can become troublesome in trying to keep a team together. Many pickers are itinerant workers, and they know that by driving to the Médoc they could work for two weeks without stopping. But on September 7th we harvested some choice plots of Syrah to make the rosé. In total we had 21 hl of delicious juice, 19 hl after débourbage. Once again, with the rosé we are only vinifying the dark pink juice, which has had only a short maceration with the grape skins. In other regards, vinification is the same as the white wine, although only 10% of the rosé receives oak ageing.

And at this point, on September 12th, my apprenticeship at Mas des Dames came to an abrupt end, as I had to leave. The work was not yet done, as the vinification of the reds was about to begin. I hope to return another time to finish what I had started. My thanks to Lidewij van Wilgen for giving me this opportunity, for her instruction and answering my many questions. Special thanks to Xavier Billet for the same and for giving me a guided tour of his laboratory. It has been a great experience and I look forward to coming back. I also look forward to tasting the 2011 Mas des Dames when they are released! In the meantime, the 2010 white and rosé are still available at Wijnhuis Zuid, as well as the 2009 La Dame and the 2007 La Diva.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two tastings in weekend 27-29 January

Friday afternoon 27 January there will be a wine and oyster tasting in downtown Amsterdam, in the red light district. Famous Oesterman Marcus van den Noord will present his oysters, while you can taste the wines from laVieleVin and Bolomey Wijnimport. French wines only!

This tasting will start around 17h so you could consider having dinner afterwards in one of the many restaurants in this part of town (for example Lastage, Blauw aan de Wal or good old Nam Kee).

Location: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 59 Amsterdam
Date and time: Friday 27 January from 17h00 - 20h00
Admission: presumably around € 20 per person


Grotere kaart weergeven

This last weekend of January not only has a good start, it also has a good finish! Because: Sunday 29/1 the second Amsterdamse Wijnmarkt will take place. Seven specialized and Amsterdam-based importers will then present their wines. Specialized means that these importers do not cover a wide range of wines, instead they all focus on one specific country:

France: Vleck, Pomme d'Or and Bolomey Wijnimport
Germany: Markvandewijn
Hungary: Miranda Beems Wine Import
Italy: Monega
South Africa: Coza Wijnimport

In addition, Chocolaterie Atelier Alexandre will present its traditional, handmade chocolates.

Location: Café Schiller, Rembrandtplein 24 Amsterdam
Date/time: Sunday 29 January from 14h00 - 17h30 (press from 13h)
Admission: € 10 per person


Grotere kaart weergeven

It would be great to see you at one of these tastings!