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Old 16-09-2008, 02:24 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default 1998 St. Emilions

Notes from a Commanderie de Bordeaux dinner in Vancouver at the
Terminal City Club.

Interesting mix of hit and misses, both vinous and gustatory, in this
tasting of the 1998 vintage of St. Emilion Premier Crus Classe B
wines. We were fortunate to have Bill Blatch of Vintex over on his
annual tour and he agreed to speak on these wines dear to his heart.

He was able to relate from personal experience on the spot, the
conditions that developed in that year. He said that up to midsummer
it looked like being another excellent year and talk of another 1982
was bandied about, but July was cold and damp, followed by a very hot
August (record temperatures up to 39 C.) and the vines were stressed,
resulting in small thick skinned grapes, so talk turned to a possible
1986.

In September it rained a bit and they got the whites in, decent wines
but not the best, and a they came up to harvest time for the reds, on
September 16 they experienced anther heat wave that lasted through the
26th. They got all the merlot in during that period, at which point it
again rained and the cab franc was brought in under various degrees of
dilution from the rain. Definitely a right bank vintage that resulted
in a lot of slightly green Medocs from cabernet picked earlier than
they would have liked.

We started out with a glass of white with some amuses bouches:

2006 ‘G’ de Guiraud – quite a tropical fruit nose on this wine that
showed some colour development – mango, possibly? Hint of botrytis
also in the nose, and a smooth palate presence, but I thought it was a
tad low in acidity and suffered as bordering on the slightly dull as a
result.

Then we plunged into the wines in flights, with food, which I will
also describe.

Wild summer mushroom and morel sauté on candied cashew brioche – the
mushrooms were very good, simply done, but the fact that the plated
with jus on the bottom and had the brioche toasted and very crisp made
it seem too much like eating mush on hard toast. Either putting jus
on top of the brioche or forgetting about that ‘candied’ affectation
would have improved the dish. I give it a C+

Figeac – this wine had 40% cab, 20% cab franc and only 20% merlot,
but they did an excellent job with it. Very nice nose with currant
spice and good fruit levels on palate. The wine was still a bit tight
and tannic, and needs more time – Bill expected it to be more ready.

Beausejour Becot – the nose wasn’t quite as extroverted on this wine,
but it had some depth once you worked at it a bit, and the tannins
were softer. It is ready for drinking with nice balance, a good
showing.

Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse – berry nose, soft on palate, but showed
a green note I didn’t like and was a tad dilute, I thought.

Trottevielle – not much nose going on this one unless you rooted about
for it, and found the decent fruit down under. This still has
significant tannin, and drinks acceptably well, but certainly isn’t up
to the same standard as the rest of the flight.

The Figeac was the clear winner and certainly (despite cab-rich
encepagement ) the only typical St. Emilion in this flight. The Becot
would be runner up,

Duck consommé with roast hazelnut and duck leg confit in ravioli.
This course came off very well indeed, and the fact that had I been
cooking it would have been finished with a hint of sherry or Madeira
didn’t prevent me giving it an A rating.

Magdaleine – nice spice in this nose, alloyed with vanilla and dark
fruit and perhaps the barest hint of anise. Good stuffing but well
balanced and ready for pleasurable drinking now, a smooth enjoyable
wine and my best of flight, as well as the only one that showed any
typicity.

Belair – the bad news was that they only had one good bottle, so we
had to share two glasses at each table. The good news was that the
modest amount of wine we had was more than enough to eliminate this
one from serious consideration. It seemed like it was a decade older
than it was, and was thin, acidic and tannic all at once, with a nose
that started out fairly pleasantly but downhill all the way from
there.

La Gaffeliere – first bottle corked. We do our own decanting and
wine service at these events as experience has shown that we can’t
rely on the restaurants to be competent to handle wines like this.
Sadly, on this occasion, neither was our wine crew. One of their
primary jobs is to weed out any bad bottles so that the much
preferable course of everyone getting a smaller pour of good wine
occurs. Unfortunately I guess the Nose was tired, because this was the
first of two bottles that they failed to weed out that were very
obviously corked, which means that you need to go hat in hand, as it
were, begging for a taste from a good glass while you should be
enjoying a few monuments of uninterrupted introspection with the wine,
assessing and taking notes.

I was able to get a taste of a good one and found a peasant medium
bodied elegant wine ready to drink.

The next course was chervil and brown butter roast quail with
“glorious organics celebration greens and smoked plum vinaigrette”. I
wish the cooks had spent more time on designing and cooking this dish
than creating effusive and totally unwarranted descriptive puffery, as
it was ultimately mundane – C rating. While they were at it they
might have given us the other half of the quail (or a magnifying glass
to locate what we were served.

Angelus – some excellent spicy fruit in this nose, fairly ripe, and a
dry tannic feel in the midpalate. The flavours had good concentration
with some cocoa/mocha showing through, and the wine had good length.
Good show!

Canon – this one was also fairly dark, and had a sweet if somewhat
simple nose and good fruit in the middle. Drinks well now. Not one to
turn somersaults over, but nonetheless a welcome addition to the
tasting.

Clos Fourtet – I have always enjoyed this wine, which used to be one
of the hardest St. Emilions that demanded the most patience in
cellaring. I got cherries and anise on the nose, lot of up front
tannin, but it was ripe tannin and while the wine drinks quite well
now, it has a long life ahead of it.

The final course (I don’t bother including dessert as I don’t eat them
and they neither go with nor complement wine) was a ‘duo of milk fed
veal – braised breast, baby turnips, summer truffle infused loin and
fava bean fricassee’. While some plates looked decidedly better than
mine, I received a truffle infused loin that was both overcooked and
all fat in the centre, allied with a couple of slices of breast that
was cold. I did not venture to assay the veg so can’t comment on
that. A ‘D’ rating on that course from me, I’m afraid, although it
could have been a C+ had they given me a good plate at the right
temperature. The kitchen was not on form unfortunately, except for
that lovely soup course.

Pavie – OK, I’ll start off by saying that while many will do nip-ups
over atypical wines with huge over ripe fruit, and while I have been
known to enjoy that style from time to time, I do not welcome it in a
St. Emilion. It is like being presented with a slab of smoking foi
gras on your breakfast cereal – a miscegenation in terms of the
expectations. In other words, this wine was in some ways more like a
Californian, or (obviously with a different set of organoleptic
qualities) an Australian wine than a St. Emilion. It is like hitting
some new age fruit monster in a Tuscan tasting, right in the middle of
a flight of traditional sangioveses, and you stop and give a hearty
WTF??

This dark wine was super ripe with plums and smoke in the nose, had a
sweet weighty presence on palate and finished with great length.
Having said all that, it reminded me more of a ripe Californian wine
than a Bordeaux. Imagine yourself standing in the car rental lot
thinking you’ve rented a classic XKE Jaguar and finding out they gave
you the keys to a Hummer with chrome bumpers the size of a small
barn. I can see how people would be impressed with this sort of wine,
but I find it too out of place to applaud it.

Pavie Macquin – I liked the nose on this better than I had the Pavie –
blackberries and anise, and I thought it also had better balance, or
was perhaps just less over ripe. It had exceptional length and if
given the choice between this and the Pavie, I’d opt for this. It
didn’t lack for concentration, but it didn’t throw it in your face
quite as defiantly either.

Troplong Mondot – another corked bottle and so an abbreviated note.
Nose more restrained, but that is not saying much in this flight! Some
decent fruit deep down, a much more elegant wine that was quite good
and more ready to drink.

An interesting and informative tasting. I am glad to say that I have
no personal stake in how these wines showed as I didn’t buy 98s, but
it is always fascinating to see what winemaking and weather can do in
a vintage. Off to taste the 2007 barrel samples with Bill today, if I
can find time. Again, not a vintage that interests me, but always
worth a look from an academic perspective.

  #2 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 16-09-2008, 02:31 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default 1998 St. Emilions

On Sep 16, 9:24*am, "Bill S." wrote:
Notes from a Commanderie de Bordeaux dinner in Vancouver at the
Terminal City Club.

Interesting mix of hit and misses, both vinous and gustatory, in this
tasting of the 1998 vintage of St. Emilion Premier Crus Classe B
wines. We were fortunate to have Bill Blatch of Vintex over on his
annual tour and he agreed to speak on these wines dear to his heart.

He was able to relate from personal experience on the spot, the
conditions that developed in that year. *He said that up to midsummer
it looked like being another excellent year and talk of another 1982
was bandied about, but July was cold and damp, followed by a very hot
August (record temperatures up to 39 C.) and the vines were stressed,
resulting in small thick skinned grapes, so talk turned to a possible
1986.

In September it rained a bit and they got the whites in, decent wines
but not the best, and a they came up to harvest time for the reds, on
September 16 they experienced anther heat wave that lasted through the
26th. They got all the merlot in during that period, at which point it
again rained and the cab franc was brought in under various degrees of
dilution from the rain. *Definitely a right bank vintage that resulted
in a lot of slightly green Medocs from cabernet picked earlier than
they would have liked.

We started out with a glass of white with some amuses bouches:

2006 ‘G’ de Guiraud – quite a tropical fruit nose on this wine that
showed some colour development – mango, possibly? *Hint of botrytis
also in the nose, and a smooth palate presence, but I thought it was a
tad low in acidity and suffered as bordering on the slightly dull as a
result.

Then we plunged into the wines in flights, with food, which I will
also describe.

Wild summer mushroom and morel sauté on candied cashew brioche – the
mushrooms were very good, simply done, but the fact that the plated
with jus on the bottom and had the brioche toasted and very crisp made
it seem too much like eating mush on hard toast. *Either putting jus
on top of the brioche or forgetting about that ‘candied’ affectation
would have improved the dish. *I give it a C+

Figeac – *this wine had 40% cab, 20% cab franc and only 20% merlot,
but they did an excellent job with it. *Very nice nose with currant
spice and good fruit levels on palate. The wine was still a bit tight
and tannic, and needs more time – Bill expected it to be more ready.

Beausejour Becot – the nose wasn’t quite as extroverted on this wine,
but it had some depth once you worked at it a bit, and the tannins
were softer. It is ready for drinking with nice balance, a good
showing.

Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse – berry nose, soft on palate, but showed
a green note I didn’t like and was a tad dilute, I thought.

Trottevielle – not much nose going on this one unless you rooted about
for it, and found the decent fruit down under. This still has
significant tannin, and drinks acceptably well, but certainly isn’t up
to the same standard as the rest of the flight.

The Figeac was the clear winner and certainly (despite cab-rich
encepagement ) the only typical St. Emilion in this flight. *The Becot
would be runner up,

Duck consommé with roast hazelnut and duck leg confit in ravioli.
This course came off very well indeed, and the fact that had I been
cooking it would have been finished with a hint of sherry or Madeira
didn’t prevent me giving it an A rating.

Magdaleine – nice spice in this nose, alloyed with vanilla and dark
fruit and perhaps the barest hint of anise. *Good stuffing but well
balanced and ready for pleasurable drinking now, a smooth enjoyable
wine and my best of flight, as well as the only one that showed any
typicity.

Belair – the bad news was that they only had one good bottle, so we
had to share two glasses at each table. The good news was that the
modest amount of wine we had was more than enough to eliminate this
one from serious consideration. It seemed like it was a decade older
than it was, and was thin, acidic and tannic all at once, with a nose
that started out fairly pleasantly but downhill all the way from
there.

La Gaffeliere – first bottle corked. * We do our own decanting and
wine service at these events as experience has shown that we can’t
rely on the restaurants to be competent to handle wines like this.
Sadly, on this occasion, neither was our wine crew. One of their
primary jobs is to weed out any bad bottles so that the much
preferable course of everyone getting a smaller pour of good wine
occurs. Unfortunately I guess the Nose was tired, because this was the
first of two bottles that they failed to weed out that were very
obviously corked, which means that you need to go hat in hand, as it
were, begging for a taste from a good glass while you should be
enjoying a few monuments of uninterrupted introspection with the wine,
assessing and taking notes.

I was able to get a taste of a good one and found a peasant medium
bodied elegant wine ready to drink.

The next course was chervil and brown butter roast quail with
“glorious organics celebration greens and smoked plum vinaigrette”. I
wish the cooks had spent more time on designing and cooking this dish
than creating effusive and totally unwarranted descriptive puffery, as
it was ultimately mundane – C rating. *While they were at it they
might have given us the other half of the quail (or a magnifying glass
to locate what we were served.

Angelus – some excellent spicy fruit in this nose, fairly ripe, and a
dry tannic feel in the midpalate. The flavours had good concentration
with some cocoa/mocha showing through, and the wine had good length.
Good show!

Canon – this one was also fairly dark, and had a sweet if somewhat
simple nose and good fruit in the middle. Drinks well now. Not one to
turn somersaults over, but nonetheless a welcome addition to the
tasting.

Clos Fourtet – I have always enjoyed this wine, which used to be one
of the hardest St. Emilions that demanded the most patience in
cellaring. *I got cherries and anise on the nose, lot of up front
tannin, but it was ripe tannin and while the wine drinks quite well
now, it has a long life ahead of it.

The final course (I don’t bother including dessert as I don’t eat them
and they neither go with nor complement wine) was a ‘duo of milk fed
veal – braised breast, baby turnips, summer truffle infused loin and
fava bean fricassee’. *While some plates looked decidedly better than
mine, I received a truffle infused loin that was both overcooked and
all fat in the centre, allied with a couple of slices of breast that
was cold. *I did not venture to assay the veg so can’t comment on
that. A ‘D’ rating on that course from me, I’m afraid, although it
could have been a C+ had they given me a good plate at the right
temperature. *The kitchen was not on form unfortunately, except for
that lovely soup course.

Pavie – OK, I’ll start off by saying that while many will do nip-ups
over atypical wines with huge over ripe fruit, and while I have been
known to enjoy that style from time to time, I do not welcome it in a
St. Emilion. It is like being presented with a slab of smoking foi
gras on your breakfast cereal – a miscegenation in terms of the
expectations. *In other words, this wine was in some ways more like a
Californian, or (obviously with a different set of organoleptic
qualities) an Australian wine than a St. Emilion. * It is like hitting
some new age fruit monster in a Tuscan tasting, right in the middle of
a flight of traditional sangioveses, and you stop and give a hearty
WTF??

This dark wine was super ripe with plums and smoke in the nose, had a
sweet weighty presence on palate and finished with great length.
Having said all that, it reminded me more of a ripe Californian wine
than a Bordeaux. *Imagine yourself standing in the car rental lot
thinking you’ve rented a classic XKE Jaguar and finding out they gave
you the keys to a Hummer with chrome bumpers the size of a small
barn. *I can see how people would be impressed with this sort of wine,
but I find it too out of place to applaud it.

Pavie Macquin – I liked the nose on this better than I had the Pavie –
blackberries and anise, and I thought it also had better balance, or
was perhaps just less over ripe. It had exceptional length and if
given the choice between this and the Pavie, I’d opt for this. *It
didn’t lack for concentration, but it didn’t throw it in your face
quite as defiantly either.

Troplong Mondot – another corked bottle and so an abbreviated note.
Nose more restrained, but that is not saying much in this flight! Some
decent fruit deep down, a much more elegant wine that was quite good
and more ready to drink.

An interesting and informative tasting. I am glad to say that I have
no personal stake in how these wines showed as I didn’t buy 98s, but
it is always fascinating to see what winemaking and weather can do in
a vintage. *Off to taste the 2007 barrel samples with Bill today, if I
can find time. *Again, not a vintage that interests me, but always
worth a look from an academic perspective.


Thanks for the notes. I loved you assessment of the Pavie...my
thoughts entirely. Too bad about the meal. It sounded like more
misses than hits.
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Old 16-09-2008, 09:12 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default 1998 St. Emilions

Were these blind?

On Sep 16, 9:24*am, "Bill S." wrote:
Figeac – *this wine had 40% cab, 20% cab franc and only 20% merlot,



I really like the '98 Figeac. Any idea what the other20% is?
Typically Figeac is about 35/35/30 CS/CF/Merlot.

Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse


I liked a bit better than you a few months ago at a 98 horizontal

Magdaleine


Another I like a lot
Angelus


I've generally liked, but didn't show too well at our blind horizontal

Clos Fourtet


Didn't like this much
Pavie Macquin – given the choice between this and the Pavie, I’d opt for this.


Me too

thanks for notes
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Old 17-09-2008, 03:53 PM posted to alt.food.wine
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Default 1998 St. Emilions

Dale, it was blind and my mistake on the Figeac - it is also 40%, not
20% merlot.

BTW, the usual figures you see published are the harvest figures for
the chateau. They are normally different, sometimes very significantly
so, that the figures for the grand vin itself as fruit also goes into
second labels.


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