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Showing posts from October, 2008

Bordeaux 2008 - overview of the new vintage

A first glance at the baby Bordeaux 2008 vintage
Harvest has ended, all grapes are safely in. Time to look back at the completed 2008 growing season.

April − June 2008
With a cold spring the 2008 vintage doesn't have an ideal start, with even some frost in the beginning of April, diminishing the crop in the Graves region. During flowering (mid-May) and fruit set (end of May) there is lots of rain: mildew threatens the grapes (possibly leading to rot, and demanding a lot of work in the vineyard) and there is millerandage (uneven berry set); especially merlot is affected. This grape variety is struck precisely during its flowering, which is a vulnerable stage. It implies − in the end − a lot of extra work during harvest when the selection is done − all the tiny green bullets (undeveloped grapes) need to be removed from the bunches. As a result there are only small quantities of merlot in 2008.

July − September 2008
Finally good weather arrives, it is hot and sunny, and this weather remai…

Château Filhot 1935

Yesterday evening was one of those evenings where you get a glance at wine heaven. My friend Job Verhaar from one of Amsterdam's best wine shops De Gouden Ton brought together five wine enthusiast, all of them submitting one or two grand bottles. Restaurant Spring took care of the matching food. Foie Gras bonbons, those kind of irresistible things. But my handicap is that I am too focussed on the wines to remember the exact culinary details. I realise I am not doing honour to the meal, but let's go to the wines.


The appetizer: Von Schubert's Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg Riesling Superior 2006 from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. A mouth full, this name, and such is the wine itself. What a start: this typical Riesling is a textbook example of an elegant yet intense and beautifully balanced white. Mineral an refreshing pink grapefruit. Lovely.

Then we tasted two Champagnes. First the blanc-de-blancsDiebolt-Vallois 1999 "Fleur de Passion" (Brut). A lively Champagne, a nos…

Ticino - Europe's best kept wine secret?

If you've never been to Switzerland, you've probably tasted few Swiss wines. Since foreign wines are heavily taxed in Switzerland, local wines remain the favourite and the vast majority are consumed by the Swiss in their own country.

It's the way it's always been in Switzerland, small production for a limited, receptive market and it's a pity for the rest of us because there are admirable Swiss wines.

Ticino, Switzerland's southernmost canton on the border with Italy, has produced wines since the 1500's, but things get interesting after the phylloxera plague from 1870-1900, when the first Merlot vines were planted. It was obvious immediately that Merlot was well suited to the sub-tropical climate of Ticino, but only in the last twenty years have certain producers gained a reputation for excellence, paying close attention to grape selection and the Merlot's expression in each of Ticino's many varied terroirs.


Valsangiacomo Vini 1831

One of these producer…

Ambitious Vincent Mulliez to Lilian Ladouys?

One of my favourite affordable top Bordeaux's is Château Belle-Vue, lead by Vincent Mulliez who acquired the Haut-Médoc property in 2004 − together with neighbouring-and-related Château de Gironville. The former banker is leaving nothing to chance, and with his very skilled team he is simply trying to make the Best Possible Wine from his near-Margaux terroir (Belle-Vue is located next to Château Giscours).

For a change I quote Robert Parker (talking about the Belle-Vue 2005): "A terrific over-achiever located just outside the Margaux appellation." Anyway, a very popular item within my selection (both 2004 and 2005).


Very recently I picked up the rumour that Mulliez will soon take up the management of Château Lilian Ladouys (Saint-Estèphe). Apparently appointed by the new owner, an undisclosed French business man.

The recent history of this estate is quite turbulent, at least since 1985 when Christian Thiéblot got in charge, and a/o upgraded the name of the Château to Lilian…

Mouton Rothschild 1994 Jeroboam signed by Karel Appel found in odd circumstances

People know I'm into wine, so you get to hear and see things. Stories about special wines, in a private cellar, or not anymore, − well some stories are better than other stories. Last week I got to see something. In an Amsterdam cellar-less house owned by an art-dealer who used to be friends with the Dutch painter Karel Appel (1921-2006).

JEROBOAM (5 LITERS) CHATEAU MOUTON ROTHSCHILD 1994 SIGNED BY THE DUTCH PAINTER KAREL APPEL

He first showed me a virgin wooden case with 12 bottles Château Mouton Rothschild 1994. Not perfectly stored, but not terribly either. I would say a case to crack now, my guess is that these so-so kept wines should be perfectly drinkable now. Then he presented a double magnum. Beautiful! But... he said there was yet another bottle in the house, an even bigger one, but where was it...?

We walked around and he looked in different places. He said he really wanted to show me that monster bottle, as it had Karel Appel's autograph − a true collector's item!

Preview: Bottle Shock

Today is the first day that the film Bottle Shock will be shown in Europe. Yesterday night was the preview in Tuschinski, Amsterdam's most beautiful movie theatre.

The movie: isn't shocking. But it's quite OK, provided that you are interested in wine. It isn't as vigorous as Sideways, not as surprising or funny, but it definitely entertains, and the photography is beautiful. The makers have been flying over the Napa vineyards a lot, and these decorative scenes are delicious. The true story (the famous Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, a.k.a. the Judgement of Paris) in itself is a small story (yes, with an enormous effect), and presented around that is a little family drama at eventual contest winner Chateau Montelena.

I like the fact that with this film the person Steven Spurrier gets the deserved attention. Instead of Robert Parker, who is always in the spotlights. But in 1976 the world hadn't heard of Parker yet (he entered the scene together with the Bordeaux 1982 vinta…