‘The World’s Greatest Wines that aren’t…’
When I first started this blog, almost four years ago now, I did so with purpose – I wanted somewhere accessible (online) where I could store all my tasting notes to easily reference them. It seemed like the perfect idea at the time actually, the ideal way to stop me filling notebooks with my illegible scribblings and then forgetting the finer details about why I particularly liked one wine or another in the process. By having a centralised platform I thus had easy access as well as a place spout my opinions of course, even if no-one cared (blogs are good like that).
Fast forward four years and the nature of this site has changed from the original scope somewhat, broadening and evolving along the way. Yet I’m reminded that I still need to keep on top of the main purpose – to write down, largely for my own reference, which wines I liked and why. Just for me. Stuff you guys…
Anyway today I’m channeling my inner Halliday and documenting one of ‘those dinners’. The sort of dinners where you silently swear under your breath and remark ‘how do I get an invite to something like that’. The sort of dinners that anyone who has read Halliday’s columns in Gourmet Traveller WINE knows the score…
The theme of this dinner though was simple – ‘The World’s Greatest Wines that aren’t Grand Crus, First Growths, Grand Marques or RP 100 pointers’ – a concept which ultimately encouraged a wonderful proliferation of 5th growths, unknown estates and odd vintages. The results, however, were anything but odd…
In this piece I’m just going to run through a few highlights then, a few wines from this astonishing lineup that are worth highlighting, discussing or at least mentioning (and reminding myself). Once again a big thanks to David Fesq and family for organising this dinner. Good times indeed).
Trimbach Clos Ste Hune Riesling 1993 (Alsace, France)
|1993 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
From double magnum
Everything tastes better from a big bottle. Maybe. This tasted surprisingly good though, a tight, rich, yet contained wine showing orange rind, more than a hint of botrytis and a solid hit of acidity through the finish. If anything it was a bit too blocky, the acidity too firm and the fruit not rich enough to carry it all together, or in another way it is a wine of power but not quite congruency. Still that shape and that length suggest that – given another five years in the bottle – this should be singing. Still enjoyed a glass or two of this.
Chateau Gruaud Larose 1964 (St Julien, Bordeaux, France)
|2 big bottles.|
Another 3 litre bottle and another wine that looks better than expected. A ‘good’ year in Bordeaxu apparently and this bottle was in reasonable condition (though the label did fall off at the end of the night).
What made this particular wine enjoyable by just how much it still carried it’s terroir stamp – recognisably Left Bank, delightfully medium bodied and carries that stern cedar character of Bordeaux. It’s falling away a smidgen and probably past it’s best yet still that lightness and sappy refreshment of old Bordeaux remains. Really enjoyed this.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2000 (Northern Rhone, France)
From a 3 litre bottle too. Fair to say that this wine was a disappointment. Actually, given the general disappointment of the La Chapelle wines of that era it was probably an expected disappointment.
The problem with this is simple – it’s just lacking in definition. There’s that wonderful high toned black peppercorn meatiness of Hermitage yet it’s just full of holes, the nose really quite forward and chunky, the palate lacking persistance and length. Soft and pretty simple really.
Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Blanc de Blancs Fleur de Passion 2004 (Champagne, France)
|Diebolt-Vallais Fleur de Passion 2004
From magnum. Wow. Double wow. Sexy Champagne this one, built in a mould of opulence, richness and Krug like stylings (but lighter and prettier. More white flowers here). Think 65 year old vines, small oak maturation, the works. The full Champagne monty. I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this wine and it was perhaps the single I could drink the most of from this lineup. That push-pull between richness/power and acidity! That length and vitality! Buy some..
Mosse Les Bonnes Blanches 2009 (Anjou, Loire)
|Mosse + Ovarius. Suitable|
From magnum. The Ovarius decanter came out for this one, although we were all waiting to see if it could take the wine into the fourth dimension. Still waiting, but it certainly improved this white…
From the outset this carried some intrigue too, the Mosse name being synonymous with some intriguing natural Loire Chenin of serious depth and power. That intrigue was evident from the first whiff too, an oxidative nose of citrus Chenin fruit and dry honeysuckle extract.
The palate too was powerful and minerally and firm, if still super tight and closed. With air I was hoping this would become more expansive and rounded, but the oxidation just got more evident without the flesh of the palate to catch up, the alcohol also becoming even more evident with time in the glass (like many 09 Loire whites). Still smart but the more I looked the less I liked.
J.F. Coche-Dury Mersault ‘Les Rougeots’ Blanc 1987 (Mersault, Côte de Beaune, France)
|1987 Coche Mersault Les Rougeots
Tasted much better than it looked
I really didn’t expect much. Very little at all actually, especially given the bronzed colour, the only fair levels and the glad-wrapped label. Yet digging underneath all that age you find a classy wine, an obviously old and slightly madeirised wine yet one that still carries that finely whipped butter minerality of proper Mersault. It’s that caramel bottle age meets cream fruit which is ultimately really very addictive, although tempered by decay on the finish. Enjoyable and drinkable (in small doses) surprise.
Chateau De Pommard 1964 (Pommard, Côte de Beaune, France)
|1964 Chateau Pommard
Note the alcohol on the label (11-14%!)
Another 64! This looked like Rosé in fact, with a serious orange/bronze colour to it. It tasted like lovely earthen and ferrous old Pinot though, still holding on to the vestiges of some serious firm fruit (it would have been quite a structural beast in it’s youth), complete with a hint of strawberries. Again it’s a well aged wine, again it’s not for everyone with no shortage of earthen dirt and a fully resolved palate, but there was a certain beauty about this. Another highlight.
Clape Cornas 2000 (Cornas, Northern Rhone, France)
|Clape Cornas and meat = yes|
A mixed vintage for the Northern Rhone and a lesser wine in the Clape context. Fitting that this was served at about meat o’clock during the night as Clape Cornas always looks better with red meat. It still carries much of that richness and oak sweetness of a younger wine too, the first pooey edges of Cornas bottle age yet to really take hold. Again, like the same vintage La Chapelle, the flow wasn’t ideal here, the tannins hard and the fruit looking just a tad awkward and less than pure. I enjoyed a glass but couldn’t really drink much more of this – a lesser Clape (speaking of, here is a look at a few recent vintages of this wine).
Best’s Bin O Great Western Shiraz 1990 (Great Western, Vic)
|Bests Bin 0 1990
22 years young!
Sourced directly from the Best’s cellars and in absolutely tip-top shape because of it, there was no hiding the glory of this mature Australian red. It’s very much in the Grampians mould too, an unashamedly richer, sweeter, oakier wine than many of the more Euro/less polished wines of this drinkfest, but also enjoyable because of it. There is a sweetened plum essence Grampians character at this wines core too that is so wonderfully attractive. Nicely resolved, but still really quite youthful, win this wine with at least another 5-10 years pleasure left (based on this great bottle). Very nice.
Maison Leroy Mersault 1er Cru ‘Les Perrieres’ Blanc 2006 (Mersault, Côte de Beaune, France)
|Leroy Les Perrieres|
What a point of contention this wine was. A late-night argument starter if ever there was one. The bone of contention about this wine was whether it was unbalanced or just going through a bad phase.
What was particularly discussed was the ripe and slightly overbearing pineapple fruit which appeared to get weightier, heavier and more broad by the second, the oak a second intrusive layer over the top of the fat. Personally I just found this bulky and awkward, lacking the real structure to give long term love. But I can also see that it might come good in a few years, that oak might integrate more and the line may well improve. Definitely a disappointment given the wines around it though. if purely for the moment.