Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2009

Bordeaux 2009 – a backstage view

Bordoverview Blog invited Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen to share his insider's view with us on the Bordeaux 2009 vintage. Since 2003 Bache-Gabrielsen is technical director of Château Belle-Vue and Château de Gironville (both Haut-Médoc) and neighbouring Château Bolaire (Bordeaux Supérieur).

In addition, since the 2009 vintage Bache-Gabrielsen is also in charge at Pauillac classed growth Château Pédesclaux, and Château Lilian Ladouys in Saint-Estèphe. Both estates were acquired by Jacky Lorenzetti in 2008.

It will be worth following the developments at these two châteaux. Pédesclaux is known as a notorious underperformer since long, and with the change of ownership the future of this classed growth is shining.

With the malo ended, and in some cases still in progress, it is a good moment to take a closer, and detailed, look at the much talked about Bordeaux 2009 vintage. Bache-Gabrielsen's experience is focused on the Médoc, yet spans this area from south (Belle-Vue, De Gironville) to t…

On lunar golfing, Jefferson, Mozart and wine

Dwayne Perreault − It's one of those useless questions, sort of like asking "What is it like to play golf on the moon?" but sometimes when I'm drinking a great wine, like a Hermitage or a Bordeaux grand cru classé, I can't help but wonder, "What did this wine taste like hundreds of years ago?"


Well, guess what? During the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971, Alan Shephard strapped the head of a six iron to a sampling instrument and purportedly drove a golf ball several kilometers in the direction of a crater, the largest sand trap ever. So that's what it's like to play golf on the moon.

As for how wine tasted in the 1700's, that's a little more difficult to determine. Obviously we can't taste the wines today, so we have no point of reference to compare them to contemporary wines. If wine is to be considered an art, it is like an ice sculpture which melts in the sun: temporary, fleeting, to be enjoyed before it disappears.

There are ex…

What we've been drinking lately

Busy times for a wine merchant, December, but a blog needs to be fed. Perhaps my postings will be a little shorter these days. In this one I briefly mention some of the wines we've been drinking − some interesting, and some great.


These first two bottles both unquestionably belong to the category "great". I love Barnaut, but I hadn't tasted their Millésimé yet. Wow! This is a different world − another dimension added, an extra depth, call it complexity. You smell this champagne from a distance. The wine is ripe but there is - still - plenty of freshness in this 1999. Bread and some yeast in the nose, and a certain creamy touch. A very soft champagne, and simply delicious. Then the Dauvissat, another experience! Tight and intense, mineral. Ripe and somewhat spiced, plus a hint of honey. These are two wines I do not mind waking up for.


One evening we opened two Chassagne-Montrachets from Domaine Ramonet, one white, a Villages from 2004, and a red, the Premier Cru "C…

Taste Champagne and Sparkling 2009

Dwayne Perreault − There were plenty of corks popping, and that is always a happy sound. Proef Champagne en Sprankelend (Taste Champagne and Sparkling), Holland's largest sparkling wine trade show, took place at the Mövenpick Hotel in Amsterdam on November 22nd. This event used to be called "Champagne aan Zee" and indeed used to be held on the beach at Noordwijk. The reason for moving it indoors is unknown to me, but given that Dutch weather is unpredictable at best, plus a windy, sand-strewn beach is not the best venue to seriously taste wines, it seemed like a logical decision.

The event was held in two large rooms: one for champagnes and one for other sparkling wines. To say it was busy would be an understatement: at every table a large group was gathered, champagne glasses in hand, eagerly waiting to be served.

I managed to taste about 40 different wines; here are some of my impressions, starting with the sparkling non-champagnes: the Ferrari Spumante Maximum Brut, Ch…

Drinking Château Prieuré de Cantenac 1929

Yesterday was one of those rare extreme wine experiences. We stepped into a time machine by drinking the Château Prieuré de Cantenac (or Prieuré-Cantenac) 1929, the Médoc 4th classed growth today known as Château Prieuré-Lichine. This bottle was a miracle, superbly cellared, almost 80 years in the same pitch-dark spot.

The label of Château Prieuré de Cantenac 1929

This bottle, and a series of other bottles including Château Brane-Cantenac 1920 which we opened a few years ago, had been forgotten for many decades. Around 1940 these wines had been tucked away safely in a sort of secondary cellar, behind a second wall, preventing the German invaders to find and confiscate the wines. By having done so the historic fate of this bottle changed: instead of being downed by some German officer in 1941, we drank it. In Amsterdam, in 2009.

It is crazy to realise what all has happened since this bottle was put away. World War II, the invention of television, the landing on the moon exactly halfway in…

Labégorce Zédé flung away

Driving over the Afsluitdijk at night, this weekend, Jan van Roekel and I discussed a wine that we had recently tasted, the Labégorce-Zédé 2006. The name will disappear, Jan had read somewhere. It didn't surprise me, but I found the news a little bit sad.

Since 2005 neighbouring Labégorce and Labégorce-Zédé were in the same hands again, after the split in 1795. Hubert Perrodo brought the two domains together by buying Labégorce-Zédé from Luc Thienpont, but shortly thereafter he died in a skiing accident (2006). As Jane Anson now reports, his daugther Nathalie has taken over the property and will start carrying out 'the original plan' of uniting the two châteaux (see Decanter.com).

I said to Jan: and the second wine will then be called "La Zédé de Labégorce". It was nothing more than an obvious, and perhaps even somewhat silly remark. But today I read that this will indeed be the name of the second wine...

Thus: it will be the estate's second wine that will keep …

The downside of organoleptic development

Dwayne Perreault - Funny thing, the nose. We all have one and tend to take it for granted, but the nose is the most important organ used to judge wine and particularly to recognize wines. Furthermore, what we taste is directly related to what we smell, so the senses of smelling and tasting are connected.

So it is that Robert Parker insured his nose for $1 million, an outstanding feat at the time. Years later, Holland’s own Ilja Gort, maker of such fine supermarket wines as La Tulipe and French Rebel, insured his own facial protuberance for $8 million, a master publicity stunt in its own right. I wonder how much his premiums cost? In any case, Gort seems to be enjoying success.

The nose is like a hyper-sensitive muscle: it can be trained, made stronger. It just takes practice. When you start seriously nosing wines is around the same time you start smelling everything else: vegetables, flowers, cheeses, books, old socks. Not that you never did these things before, right? And this is how y…

Exploring fine wines at Christie's

Today Jane Anson twittered about Emma Thompson's wine cellar. So I read that in her dream cellar the Meursaults from Arnaud Ente would not be missing. Quite an unequivocal statement.

Yes, I import Ente's wines, since last summer, in The Netherlands. In England Ente is imported by Berry Bros. & Rudd and the wine is better known there; here I still have to do some missionary work, and a publication like this is... supportive.

Another interesting article I came across was retweeted by Amy Atwood: about the relativeness of wild yeasts. There's much to do about using wild yeasts or industrial yeasts, and this Los Angeles Times article at least puts things a bit in perspective.

Any personal adventures this week? Yes, I attended a lovely dinner organised by Christie's Amsterdam. This weekend a big private collection was brought under the hammer, and Friday some lucky dogs were invited to sample about 50 wines from this interesting collection.

In my previous posting I wrote ab…

Lovely Burgundy!

I still didn't tell you that my wine-web-shop bolomey.nl was chosen 4th best from more than 250 Dutch wine-web-shops. Of course I had preferred to be the number 1, but when I take into account that my company is small and young, and that the numbers 1-3 are big, I am satisfied after all. The only problem is that hardly anyone notices a number 4... but enough about this. In the end it is not the shop that counts, but the wines in the shop.

Meursault "Clos des Ambres" 2006 from Arnaud Ente [ buy ] and Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru Les Folatières "En La Richarde" 2006 from Benoit Ente.

One of these wines is the Meursault "Clos des Ambres" 2006 from Arnaud Ente which was my contribution to an interesting Burgundy tasting with Jan van Roekel (burgoholic.com), Karel de Graaf (Burgundy agent & Meursault winemaker), Frank Jacobs (wine journalist) and Job Verhaar (wine seller & Burgundy lover). We compared this Meursault with a 2006 from his brother Benoit …

Bordeaux 2009, and Bordeaux 2006 revisited

Hardly have I gotten over the fuss of the Bordeaux 2008 primeurs - high quality for interesting prices - and the next carnival procession arrives with infernal noise: we can look forward to another grand vintage. The reason: weather has been perfect this year. Dry and sunny, warm but not too hot, and at the right times some rain, just when it was needed for the vines. Sounds familiar? Yes, it does. Bordeaux 2005 was announced in the same way. One difference: Bordeaux 2009 is supposedly even bigger than Bordeaux 2005...

This might sound a little sceptical, and perhaps it is. Okay, weather data are factual, but so short after the harvest it just comes across a little frenzied to state that Bordeaux 2009 will outperform the legendary 2005 vintage. But don't get me wrong: I am not against a good vintage. And I will soon dive into the subject, perhaps when the vinification has been completed.

Also, already quite a few articles about Bordeaux 2009 were published last week. From what I hav…

Visit to M. Chapoutier

Dwayne Perreault - The Rhône is strangely disparaged by some and venerated by others. While everyone seems to blindly agree that Bordeaux and Burgundy make excellent company, putting Rhône wines on the table is like inviting the in-laws to your house: you either like them or you don't. I do, and in fact southern Rhône wines like Gigondas and a good Chateauneuf du Pape (I happen to sell Château Fortia) are some of my favourite wines.

The bridge over the Rhône at Tain l'Hermitage

But it is the northern Rhône which gets the serious wine lover's attention, and this is largely due to its noble grape, Syrah, seen by most to be superior to its thin-skinned southern neighbour, Grenache Noir. In fact, I was told at WSET wine college by a Master of Wine that Grenache is almost to be despised: low in tannins, oxidative and one-dimensional, it is incapable of producing vins de garde. But for the French, opinions are like wines; everyone has some.

As for white grapes, Viognier has emerged…

May I have your votes please?

If you like my blog you now have the chance to "express" that. It doesn't cost a penny, just 2 minutes of your time: vote for my web shop www.bolomey.nl as this year's best Dutch Wine Web Shop. Of course you should only do this if you think the shop deserves this praise...

Well, if you do want to vote simply follow this link. The pink-and-yellow banner "Stem nu!" then brings you to the voting form. In the drop down list you find my shop "bolomey.nl", and there are some additional questions which are mainly about your own online wine shopping experience.

Anyhow, I hope you will take the time to cast your vote. Thanks!

Visit to Le Macchiole

It was Francesco Tonninelli (from Enoteca Castagnetana in Castagneta Carducci) who, over the last years, introduced me to the most interesting wines from Bolgheri (Tuscan west coast). As a result I visited Grattamacco in 2008, and this year Le Macchiole.

Le Macchiole: the vineyard behind the cellar, with the typical pine trees on the background (on a rare cloudy day).

Bolgheri is a modern Italian wine area: the development towards today’s typical Bolgheri wines has only begun in the second half of the last century. Grapes have been grown here since long, producing more or less anonymous, local wines. But today’s famous wineries are mostly the result of investments from newcomers, people from the classic Chianti and Piedmont regions (for more details also see the Grattamacco-story from last year).

In contrast, Le Macchiole emerges from the local winery from the Campolmi family, originally about 4 hectares producing Sangiovese and Trebbiano/Vermentino. The old winery was located in the low…

Italian intermezzo

This is what I should do: scale up Bolomey Wijnimport and add Italian wines to my portfolio. I love exploring wines from different countries, but only with Italian wine I repeatedly feel the inclination to do something with it, to start importing it. I love France and its wines, and in the same, but totally different manner I love Italy and its wines. The diversity, the classic originals such as Barolo and Brunello, side by side with original modernists such as those from the Bolgheri region. And all that in a country with unparalleled beauty – the Arcadian landscape, the ancient culture, the untouched villages, the climate, the elegantly dressed and good-looking people, the delicious food…

These days I am relaxing at the Tuscan west coast. Just around the corner from Bolgheri, the young wine region where, at its best, totally seducing deep velvet reds are being produced. These are the result of the Italian sun, soil and spirit at the one hand, and French grape varieties and winemaking…

A success story: Giovanni Negro

Dwayne Perreault - It can get very hot in Piedmont, and this is primarily red wine country, but fortunately white wines are also made to quench the thirst of locals and visitors on sweltering sunny summer days. The favourite house wine of most osterias is made from the Favorita, an uncomplicated grape which renders fruity, quaffable wines. More complex whites come from the Arneis variety, with its distinctive tones of apples and chalky minerals.

Amphitheater-like landscape of Roero

But in introducing the wines of Giovanni Negro, I want to begin with something more rare than a white Piemontese truffle, and just as delicious: his Roero Arneis Spumante Extra Brut 2005, a beautiful sparkling wine made in the traditional method, with two years bottle ageing with lees contact. Thank goodness someone had the common sense to do this, for as we all know, nothing refreshes better on a hot day than a bottle of bubbly. Negro is the only producer in the world to make a sparkling wine from 100% Arnei…

What to write about this evening?

It is time to give a sign of life. But what to write about this evening?

Should I mention the smell of lime blossom and honey in the just-not-dry (sugar 15 gr/ltr) Vouvray "Le Peu Morier" 2006 from Vincent Carême that I am drinking right now? Last weekend I presented Carême's dry Vouvray at a public tasting. Some people do not know what to say, and some people get very excited. A good sign, I like these extreme reactions. Especially from those people who DIG! the wine, and almost get emotional.

Or should I mention that La Revue du Vin de France writes: "Bordeaux 2006 très prometteur, 2007 trop cher"? I am still glad I didn't stock any 2007s. Not that the 2006s are easy sells, but... they are promising! And some are delicious already.

Or should I mention that more and more of my customers get hooked on the - original - wines from Orléans that I import? Dutch wine writer Harold Hamersma just wrote an article about both the red (pinot meunier 80%, pinot noir 20%)…

King Barolo and his friends

Dwayne Perreault - Ah, Barolo. As they like to say here, "the King of wines, and the wine of Kings." If you want to appreciate it, you need to have patience, and let's face it, few people possess this trait nowadays. Really, a good Barolo should not be drunk until it's 10 years old, but if you want to purchase one of these finer old specimens in a shop here, count on spending between 50 to 100 Euros for a bottle. You can buy them for about a third or a quarter of the price when they're young, but you need to have a cellar and you need to have patience.

The rolling hillside vineyards of Barolo

Barolo the place is eye-candy: rolling land stretches out from the foothills (Piedmont literally translated) of the Alps where medieval castle towns sit perched on the tops of escarpments, looking over geometrically aligned terraces where virtually every square meter is planted with a Nebbiolo vine. I came here in a used VW Polo and on a budget, but what I found was winemakers…

Bordeaux 2009: Jane Anson's video update

Wine journalist Jane Anson, based in Bordeaux, is one of my favourite information sources for the wines from Bordeaux. These days she is talking to producers to hear about the development of the new vintage, Bordeaux 2009.

Only after the harvest something more or less definite can be said about the potential of the new vintage, in this stage it is just... an update on the development so far.

Recently Jane interviewed Lafite's director Charles Chevallier, in a sunny Lafite vineyard. Let me summarise the main points on the development of the Bordeaux 2009 vintage (most points taken from the video):

- The start of the growing season in April was in good conditions; there was no frost. To compare: in 2008, there was the Graves region was hit by spring frost, which - more or less - diminished the crop.
- Pauillac was not affected by the hailstorms that hit large parts of Bordeaux in early May. Damage, sometimes severe, was recorded in Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves and the…

Back to Ticino: Werner Stucky

Dwayne Perreault - As I noted in the first posting I made for this blog, few Swiss wines will ever find a public outside of Switzerland, because they are practically all consumed in their home country. There are two major reasons for this, and they are both economical in nature. Swiss wines are expensive to export, given that land is costly in this tiny mountainous country and production costs are high. Secondly, foreign wines are heavily taxed in Switzerland, which gives local wines an advantage for the Swiss consumer.

But the Swiss know a good wine when they drink it, and there is little doubt that Ticino is the country’s rising star. When Hugh Johnson compiled his Wine Companion in 1983, he listed no more than five producers. But there has been a renaissance happening here in the last 20 years, and the region is now producing some outstanding Merlots, some of which can rival St. Emilion and Pomerol, both in quality and price.

Werner Stucky in his "garage" in Rivera, Ticino

O…

Bolomey Wijnimport new Dutch importer for Domaine Arnaud Ente

In my blog posting of 29 June I briefly mentioned our visit to Domaine Arnaud Ente in Meursault. We tasted all Ente's whites, and our undivided conclusion was that these wines are of extraordinary quality. Jan van Roekel wrote a summary of this tasting on his website Burgoholic.

The current state of affairs: Bolomey Wijnimport has just become Ente's exclusive importer for The Netherlands. Certainly worth mentioning I would say. But what makes Ente's wines so special?

Arnaud Ente Meursault Clos des Ambres 2006

First: a ruthlessly ambitious winemaker is working at one of the finest terroirs for white wines on the face of earth - the appellation Meursault. Ente is uncompromisingly dedicated (all year round there are four people for just over four hectares!) to make the very best wine, according to his own ideas. Ente produces a harmonious, natural style of wine, which can in fact be found between the thick-oaky-style on the one side, and the lean-mineral-approach on the other si…

WSET Trip to Austria

Dwayne Perreault - Up until a couple weeks ago, I didn't know much about Austrian wines, but my impressions from what I had tasted were generally positive. So I jumped at the chance to take part in a trip organized for Dutch WSET diploma course students by Holland's only Master of Wine, Frank Smulders. This was a four-day trip where we visited some of Austria's top wineries. It would take too long to cover them all or to delve into every wine, but here are my favourites:

Weingut Bernhard Ott, Wagrum

"Mr. Veltliner," as he is called, as 95% of his 30 ha are planted with this variety. Ott is a giant of a man in stature physically, but also in terms of his international reputation, exporting to 15 different countries. Biodiversity and biodynamism are what he preaches, but as a means to an end, which is to produce the best wines possible. It doesn't hurt to have a great terroir, and Wagram is particularly blessed with mineral-rich loess soils which can be 20 meters…