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Old 06-09-2006, 11:01 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default TN: TTG#10 -- Summer Wines? (Champ, Rosé, Riesling, Chard, Loire)

TTG#10: SUMMER WINES? - Tokyo American Club (8/25/2006)

Eight of us gathered at TAC for an end of summer dinner. Theme was
summer wines, but we got a bit carried away in the chardonnay section
and may have reached into autumn. TAC did a very good job with the wine
service and a decent enough job with the food, though the portions were
a bit large. Still, good quality for club food.

Steve, sorry for shamelessly stealing a few of your flight names.

1. Bubbles to Start (as always)

*1996 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon - France,
Champagne*

Lightest salmon copper with a tiny bead moving in wispy puffs like
smoke signals saying "delicious". At first, noses is closed up
tight, tight, tight. Palate has a nice creaminess balanced with
crispness as the wispy bubbles move smoothly over the tongue, then pop.
There is a palpable sweetness adding to the creamy texture, but this is
still all in balance. When it is still fresh in the glass, this is all
about texture until an almost riesling-like cherry explodes on the
finish. With time in the glass, it opens up more and more to show some
light flaky-dough yeast on the nose, along with tart but ripe peach and
berry. Citrus joins the cherry on the palate along with a hint of
cinnamon. As much as it opens up, it is clear that this is very young.
One of those wines I would have loved to be able to seal up and taste
the next day. I managed to keep a bit in the glass for an hour and a
half or so and it was still just beginning to blossom. Damn good wine!

2. In the Pink

With spicy crab cocktail

*2004 Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Rosé La Dame Rousse - France,
Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel*

Rich reddish side of orange, very clear and bright. Raspberry and
cranberry on the nose, intriguingly herby and garrigue-accented on the
finish with a hint of refreshing quinine. But - in between - just a
little bit too much of a good thing, as the rich fruit trampled the
lightness and freshness I look for in a summer rosé. But a good and
serious wine, regardless. Does seem to get a bit hot as it warms in the
glass. Putting aside my preferences, this is a winner. It is definitely
of its place and that's a good thing. I just happen to prefer other
places for rosé, like Beaujo, the Loire, and Bandol.

*2005 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Rosé - USA, California, Sonoma County,
Russian River Valley*

A few days ago, I posted a pretty positive note on this wine. I was
eager to try it again to confirm my impressions. Not as bright and
limpid as the Tavel, though still clear enough. Strawberry and
sweetness on the nose - not quite cotton candy but a very textural
sense of sweetness. Whether from alcohol or sugar I don't know, but
this becomes cloying and doesn't really work with food. Radically
different than my impression the first time I tasted it and not for the
better. To be fair, this probably works better without food and serving
next to the Tavel worked to its detriment. Worth one more try, but
I'm not holding out a lot of hope as I'm afraid the answer is that
this only works without food.

3. No Cats Allowed

With goat cheese salad

*1998 Couhins-Lurton - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan*

Oxidised. There was a bit of discernable light grass and citrus
underneath, but hard to get to much more than that.

*2005 Domaine Maestracci Vin de Corse Calvi - France, Corsica, Vin de
Corse Calvi*

The theme was summer wines and this was the low-end and (possibly)
high-value example, or so I hoped. A blend of mostly vermentino with a
bit of ugni blanc. Very pale lemony color is a good indicator of the
pale lemon and herbal scents on the nose. Palate is fresh and a bit
tart with more lemon, some light grapefruit, and bit of grass. Simple
and fresh, but needed to be served a little cooler and needed some
equally fresh and simple shellfish to accompany. I like this wine and
will enjoy it exactly that way. However, in this environment and with a
rich goat cheese salad, it was clearly uncomfortable and behaved
accordingly. Horses for courses and such. When I first tasted this
blind in a shop that only carries French wines, I was stumped. I kept
wanting to say Italian, but logic said it couldn't be so. I wound up
guessing sauv blanc. Oh well, that's what I get for forgetting Corsica
exists!

4. Ein, Zwei, Off-Drei

With roasted pork

*2001 Hermann J. Wiemer Johannisberg Riesling Semi-Dry - USA, New York,
Finger Lakes*

Deepening pale straw color and a nose that moves about two feet ahead
of the glass. At first, seems a bit like petrol, but turns out to be an
extremely flinty-minerally smell - intriguing and pleasant. Under
that is ripe apple and some peach. On the palate, a little bit of
sweetness and good texture, though perhaps a bit course. The mineral is
significantly toned down here to leave some more ripe apple and peach,
with just a bit of limey citrus. Maintains its strength through the
middle, but dies away quickly on the finish after a slight honeyish
tickle. My first Finger Lakes riesling and - while I would have no
way to peg it as Finger Lakes - it clearly came from somewhere
different, somewhere I'd not tasted before. That's reason enough
for me to try more.

*2003 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Nahe*

Clear and bright, limpid enough to be described as water with texture,
except that it has good light yellow color. Very expressive nose
dominated by that signature bright incisive cherry and stony dust, but
supported by a strong degree of tropical fruit. On the palate, big
texture that rolls around very smoothly but manages to have a bit of
cut as well (though less than in other vintages). Still in a primary
stage, the palate pretty much follows the nose except for some spice
that begins on the mid-palate and builds on the finish to combine with
a tiny touch of cool kirsch. Bigger and not quite so incisive as I
would hope, but packed with flavor. Will be interested to see how this
ages.

5. Chardonnays (and a ringer)

With roasted scallops and white bean cassoulet

*1985 Robert Ampeau & Fils Puligny-Montrachet Combettes 1er Cru -
France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet*

Surprisingly light and unevolved color, even for an Ampeau. Nose
initially shows a note of butterscotch oak that quickly fades to leave
a healthy nuttiness over sweetish but bright lemon and crisp apple.
Behind that is a nice smoky mineral character. Palate is full and round
but not fat, with plenty of appley citrus and some cream. More nuts and
smoke on the finish. Big enough, nicely typical with smoky Puligny
mineral and a nod across the commune line with Meursault nuttiness, but
somehow lacking the precision and exciting edge that I want from such a
wine. Plenty good, but somehow a bit disappointing. Still my favorite
of the chardonnays tonight, if only for reasons of style.

*1999 Coche-Dury Bourgogne-Aligoté - France, Burgundy,
Bourgogne-Aligoté*

Simple story here... Wake - sleep - wake - sleep. This wasn't
entirely gone by any means and, when it was awake it had a bit of the
extremely crisp apple and sharp-salty savor I like from aligoté, but
it was a shadow of itself. Nice to see that Coche reins in the oak for
this bottling and that, when fresh, it would probably be a pretty nice
(though pricy) drop. If anything, confirmation that I like my aligoté
younger, so as to savor its brittle youthful cut. I still need to try
an aged Lafarge or de Villaine, but I think I'll generally stick with
youthful versions of the grape. Thought it would be a cool ringer, but
was not to be. Oh, well.

*1996 Fontaine-Gagnard Criots-Btard-Montrachet - France, Burgundy,
Côte de Beaune, Chassagne-Montrachet*

Absolutely DOA. Oxidised.

*1999 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series - Australia, Western
Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River*

Nice rich yellow color and a rich nose to match. Obvious oak that is
creamy rather than toasty and that does not get in the way of the
tropical fruit - linchee and a bit of pineapple - or the ripe
appley pear. On the palate, a rich and similarly creamy feel, with some
vanilla, but more fruit. Through it all, though, was just enough
mineral and just enough cut that I was reminded why this is one of my
favorite new world chardonnays. Not something to drink everyday, but an
absolute crowd pleaser that I can thoroughly enjoy.

*2003 Ramey Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma
County, Russian River Valley*

Rich looking yellow gold that was indicative of the richness to come.
Let me say up front that this wine had enough acid and mineral that, in
a dispassionate sense, it was able to balance the oak and richly
tropical fruit. However, it struck me as just too much of a good thing.
A dose of butterscotch on the nose that never really receded, along
with sweet vanillin and - somewhere behind it - some sweet buttery
pineapple and roasting apple. Not a good start. The palate is where it
started to come back together with the aforementioned mineral and
enough acid to keep it from going fat. Under this was very good
tropicalish fruit, ripe but not overly so. Big on the finish. If this
note sounds ambivalent, then I'm getting the message across. Good
materials, may integrate in time, but just a bit too much of everything
without that amazing lift and precision that the best big wines have. I
just hesitate to be too negative as it is so very young.

6. Bubbles to Cleanse

Getting ready for the Constance

*N.V. Couche Champagne Cuvée Perle de Nacre - France, Champagne, Côte
des Bars (Aube), Champagne*

A blanc des blancs bottling with the bulk of the fruit from Montgueux
and a little from Buxeuil. Base wines are from '97 and '98. Light
gold in the glass with mousse that is a little fast and foamy, but
still persistent after the initial rush. Nose shows very ripe
chardonnay aromas of apple and pear, backed up by a hint of the
tropical. Palate is big and round, perhaps a bit course, with
straightforward fruit flavors that follow the nose. On the finish,
there is a hint of an intriguing cheesy-leesy character. Nice direct
ripe flavors, but not what I look for in a BdB. Have to respect the
fact that this is clearly a wine of its location, with broad and ripe
Côte des Bars flavors. I just can't help but think that it would
have been improved by a little pinot-provided structure.

7. Heaven

With assorted cheeses

*1989 Huët Vouvray Cuvée Constance - France, Loire Valley, Touraine,
Vouvray*

Deep and rich gold with a dense texture that moves languorously around
the glass. First blush on the nose is major botrytis with a panoply of
rich sweet fruits - apricot, ripe fig, orange and more exotic citrus.
With a little time open, this develops spice notes and even shows a bit
of deeply underlying stoniness. On the palate, extraordinarily
concentrated, but absolutely in balance. If you can imagine the most
agile dancer somehow moving unfettered through a big pot of honey, then
you've got the measure of how beautifully the acid balances the
sweetness and texture. Palate is equally complex to the nose and the
finish just won't end. A truly stupendous wine. I'm often wary lux
cuvées, as they tend to be a bit too much of everything, but
occasionally it is possible to put 10 lbs. of potatoes in a 5-lb. sack
and have it all hold together. This one does hold together - and
magically. I can only imagine how amazing this will be in time.



Perfect bookends to the evening -- Elisabeth and Constance. Next to the
K-B, the Mordorée showed fairly restrained, but when I put the K-B
aside for a while, the expected size and the touch of heat came out.
Glad to have tasted the Wiemer; I'm eager to sample a little more from
the region. Leeuwin was probably most on form of the chards, but I
enjoyed the Ampeau the most. Others may differ here. Couche was a bit
clumsy, but I'd be interested to try a bottling with pinot for
structure.

Great to see everyone again, can't wait for the next one.

Posted from CellarTracker


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Old 07-09-2006, 12:20 AM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default TN: TTG#10 -- Summer Wines? (Champ, Rosé, Riesling, Chard, Loire)


Jim wrote:

*1989 Huët Vouvray Cuvée Constance - France, Loire Valley, Touraine,
Vouvray*

Deep and rich gold with a dense texture that moves languorously around
the glass. First blush on the nose is major botrytis with a panoply of
rich sweet fruits - apricot, ripe fig, orange and more exotic citrus.
With a little time open, this develops spice notes and even shows a bit
of deeply underlying stoniness. On the palate, extraordinarily
concentrated, but absolutely in balance. If you can imagine the most
agile dancer somehow moving unfettered through a big pot of honey, then
you've got the measure of how beautifully the acid balances the
sweetness and texture. Palate is equally complex to the nose and the
finish just won't end. A truly stupendous wine. I'm often wary lux
cuvées, as they tend to be a bit too much of everything, but
occasionally it is possible to put 10 lbs. of potatoes in a 5-lb. sack
and have it all hold together. This one does hold together - and
magically. I can only imagine how amazing this will be in time.


You likely had one of the most outstanding Vouvrays made in relatively
recent modern times. I bought a few bottles upon release, but I have no
intention of opening any for several more years. From everything I have
read, this is about as rich as Vouvray gets, but yet is perfectly
balanced and is built to age. Given proper storage, it is very likely
it will still be in good form after everyone who reads this group is
long gone. Vouvray of this quality, richness, and balance can sometimes
hold up with age better than even outstanding vintages of Yquem. What a
pity it is that wine of this quality can only be produced rarely in
Vouvray - it requires extraordinary climate conditions for this to be
possible.

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Old 07-09-2006, 04:41 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default TN: TTG#10 -- Summer Wines? (Champ, Rosé, Riesling, Chard, Loire)

I've never had the (legendary) 1989 Constance. One small sip of the
1995 was stunning.



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