Showing posts from November, 2009

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

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…