Thursday, January 29, 2009

27-29 January - Tasting Notes

This was an exceptional week of wine tasting. From Monday through Wednesday I tasted roughly 75 wines, including the twenty-some beauties noted below. It wasn't the quantity, it was the quality, and the number of truly surprising bottles - it's not every day I taste wines from three varietals I've never heard of before (Amigne, Cornalin, Humagne Rouge, all from Switzerland). The following notes cover just the wines I will most likely purchase for the store...

In the store on Tuesday, 27 January:

Albarino Tra de Vinas 2005 - Rias Baixas, Spain. 3 years on the lees in stainless steel; creamy texture, but pure mineral/intense fruit/lees smells and flavors...extraordinary. Biodynamic.

Venus La Universal Dido 2005 - Montsant, Spain.
Garnacha (primarily)/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend by Sara Perez; ripe berry/floral/mineral smells, incredibly juicy, silky-textured, luscious - delicious. Tender, especially for this region.

Nomade Torrontes 2007 - Cafayate, Argentina.
A different level for Torrontes - lees/intense floral/mineral fruit, great feel, balance. Great value. biodynamic.

Nomade Malbec 2005 - Mendoza, Argentina
Like the previous two vintages, plump, juicy, great texture, yummy - both Nomades have special nuance.

Catena Tahuan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Mendoza, Argentina
Classic Cabernet Sauvignon smells - herbs/cassis/mineral - with ripe, deep flavors. Much better than the '03, which seemed raw. This is plenty assertive, but better balanced. Great buy.

Casa Marin Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Cipresses - San Antonio Valley, Chile
Assertive Sauvignon Blanc smells - herbs/apricot/mineral/even a little cat piss; ripe but sizzling flavors that won't quit. Distinctive - this won't be for everyone, but SB lovers will probably flip. San Antonio Valley is on the west side of Chile's coastal range, just a few kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

Casa Marin Pinot Noir 2006 Litoral: - San Antonio Valley, Chile
Toast/smoky/black-bing cherry/cinamon smells and extravagant, but balanced, persistent flavors. Reminds me of high quality Cote de Nuits (Vosne-Romanee/Clos Vougeot perhaps). Lots of oak, but it works. Stunning.

The following wines were tasting in NYC at Trellis on Tenth (10th ave and 24th street), during a tasting/lunch with the proprietors and their importer, Neal Rosenthal. Vetroz is a small village in the Valais - the valley formed by the Rhone River just east of its origin from Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).
Roh Fendant (Chasselas) 2007 Les Ruinettes - Vetroz, Switzerland
Pear/blossom/mineral smells; silky texture over substantial acidity; long, fragrant, lovely.

Papilloud Petite Arvine 2007 Cave du Vieux Moulin - Vetroz, Switzerland
V. ripe fresh peach/mineral smells; vibrant, intense, rich, sizzling flavors - gorgeous.

Papilloud Amigne Grand Cru 2007 Cave de Vieux Moulin - Vetroz, Switzerland
Amigne is indigenous to the Valais, and 90% of its total of 26 hectares of vineyards are located in Vetroz. Yikes - intensely floral/fresh greens/honey/mineral smells and sizzling, crackling, penetrating flavors - fabulous. Amigne is classified by sweetness with a simple symbol - one to three bees, somewhere on the label. One bee = 1-9g/l sugar; two bees = 9-14g/l; three bees = 24+g/l. This example has one bee - virtually dry.

Cottagnoud Amigne Grand Cru Fletrie 2005 Cave de Tilleuls - Vetroz, Switzerland
Forget trying to describe this - coconut essence? psychedelic, electric, vivid, absurdly concentrated (200g residual sugar, 30% botrytis), unique. Fletrie = dessert wine.

Cottagnaud Pinot Noir 2007 Cave des Tilleuls - Vetroz, Switzerland
Mountain Pinot Noir (like Valle d'Aoste, over the Mont Blanc, in Italy) - intensely floral/cherry/cinamon/mineral (schist) smells and firm, focused, persistent flavors. yum.

Then off to Neal Rosenthal's store on the upper east side.
Foreau (Clos Naudin) 2005 Demi-Sec - Vouvray, France
Honey/lees/mineral/floral/dried pit fruit smells and slightly sweet, penetrating, sizzling flavors. Wow. A great Vouvray.

Cheveau 2007 En Rontey - Saint Amour (Beaujolais Cru), France
Wildly fragrant floral/cherry/white pepper smells and fresh, juicy, snappy flavors. No carbonic maceration.

Puffeney Poulsard 2005 - Arbois (Jura), France
Fascinating, after tasting Gamay and Pinot Noir, to taste a Poulsard - candied/dried fruit/spice smells and intensely ripe, beautifully balanced flavors. Delicious.

Chateau Saint Jean de Lavaud Rouge 2006 - Lalande de Pomerol, France
80% Merlot/Cabernet Franc - smoky/herb/cigar box/toasty/cherry smells and full, voluptuously textured, but still classic, flavors.

Cuilleron Rouge 2006 L'Amarybelle - Saint Joseph (Rhone), France
Roasted black fruit/floral/spice smells and ripe, succulent, sassy flavors. Delicious.

Back in the store (Thursday, 29 January), with the proprietor.
Canalicchio di Sopra, Montalcino (Toscana), Italy. Fifteen hectares in the Canalicchio zone - 100% Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello).
Rosso 2006 - so classic - firm, persistent, pure dark sour cherries. The Rosso is a barrel selection, made after one year of age.
Brunello di Montalcino 2001 - chocolate/mushroom/sour cherries - balanced, savory - wow.
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999 - plush (for Canalicchio), rich, ripe dark cherries/chocolate - scrumptious, though still young.
Brunello di Montalcino 1998 - seamless - mature, but not old - creamy, long, substantial and delicious...this was a bad vintage?
Brunello di Montalcino 1996 - Simply beautiful, though less concentrated than the '98 - ready to drink, but it should be fine for years more. Another remarkable wine from what was a less than remarkable vintage.


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