Friday, December 02, 2005

2 December 2005 - Catching up again

November since the last post on the 10th was a blur, but looking back, a few things stand out.

1. Brown Estate, Napa Valley. I've tasted a total of two wines from this family owned and operated winery in Chiles Valley (east of the Silverado Trail on the other side of Howell Mountain); a 2003 Zinfandel and a 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both brilliant, but the Cabernet, wow. Think of those Fantasia hippos on pointe -- huge, but so graceful.

2. It's not Chardonnay's fault. I tasted several exceptional wines that happened to be made from Chardonnay. This can be such a good grape, but it's so abused in so many different places. Anyway, the wines that caused this revelation(?) were:
- Forman Chardonnay '04, Napa Valley, California
- Philippe Colin Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Combes '03, Bourgogne, France
- Domaine Lafage Chardonnay "Novellum" '04, Vin de Pays des Catalans, France
- Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco '02 "Benefizio", Tuscany, Italy
- Bernard Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay '04, Bourgogne, France
- Laurent Tribut '04, Chablis, France
- Matrot Bourgogne Chardonnay '04, Bourgogne, France
- dtour Chardonnay '04, Macon-Villages, France
...the last two bring up another point -- I can't wait for corks to go away! The Matrot is finished with a screw cap, and I don't consider it a coincidence that the wine is so fresh and juicy. Dtour is a bag-in-the-box brought to us by a cooperative effort of Dominique Lafon, Daniel Boulud and Daniel Johnnes -- impeccably fresh, classic little Macon-Villages that'll stay fresh for up to six weeks after opening. After all, some people can actually be satisfied with one glass of wine an evening -- in this package they're not penalized for not drinking more.

3. It must be Rhone season. A few special wines from the Rhone Valley:
- Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape '03 - see the last post...
- Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape '03 - as wonderful as V.T. is in '03, Beaucastel is even better. Given the new, higher price, it should be, but even at the higher price it's still a value for great wine.
- Philippe Faury Saint-Joseph '03 - Wow! This is the first wine I've ever tasted from this estate, and I want more! Sensational Syrah, and for the price, a bargain.
- Domaine des Hauts Chassis Crozes-Hermitage '03 - Frankly overshadowed by the Faury Saint-Joseph, this is still remarkably delicous Crozes-Hermitage for a song. Seriously, forget Graillot and Chapoutier.
- Domaine les Pallieres Gigondas '01 - You know there's a glut when a terrific wine like this is closed out by the local distributor. Classic, exceptionally delicious Gigondas from a terrific vintage.

4. Seven Hills Winery, Walla Walla, Washington. This marvelous little winery was out of the market for a few years here in Maryland, but they're back, and we're better for it. Gemlike Cabernet Sauvignon ('02 Klipsun Vineyard) and Syrah ('03 Walla Walla).

5. Jacquesson Champagne. Another one that's been out of the market for too long. I can't remember the last time Billecart-Salmon and Jacquesson were both available here at the same time, but they are now. Life is good.