Thwarted No More.

So, the other night I was able to do the side-by-side tasting with the 2009 I Masieri and 2009 Sassaia white wines from La Biancara di Angiolino Maule. Unlike the previous time I tried this little experiment, both bottles were sound and doing well. My wine geekiness shall not be denied! The main reason I wanted to taste these wines side-by-side was out of pure curiosity. No grading. No seeing which one was better; more important. Nope, just wanted to see how these two wines from the same producer in the same year differed from each other.

Ivory and ivory-er living together in perfect harmony.

Between the two, the main differences are that the Sassaia is made with 80% Garganega (check out this post from DoBianchi if you’re wondering how to pronounce this) and 20% Trebbiano grapes that have been fermented in wood as well as stainless steel and has had between a day or two of contact with the macerated skins of the grapes. Whereas the I Masieri bottling is all Garganega fermented completely in stainless steel with no skin contact. Speaking of Mr. DoBianchi, he wrote up an excellent post on the Maule winery and family and I highly recommend reading it along with the Maule website linked above to learn more about their wines, their history and wine making philosophy.

I Masieri on the left. Sassaia on the right.

As you can see above, the colors are pretty similar between the two. But, the Sassaia on the right is just a touch darker; a deeper golden color. It also pours a touch thicker and slightly viscous compared to the I Masieri. Both were a touch hazy. Essentially, most of the differences between the two wines follow the same path. The I Masieri is a lighter, easier more direct wine that is best matched for some simple seafood on a warm summer day. Bright with a citrusy twang and ample acidity, it’s easily thrown back with only 11.5% alcohol. By comparison, the Sassaia is deeper, heavier and thought provoking. It requires a bit more contemplation. Because of the prolonged skin contact, it behaves more in line with orange wines. While not having the maceration time of say a Gravner or Radikon, you feel the additional depth; not to mention the (slightly higher) 12.5% alc level. The nose is full of almonds and stone fruit pits and heavier citrus scents. Medium/full bodied, with lively acidity, the extra weight on the palate helps the wine go with heavier foods and cheeses. It went well with both roast turkey and a slightly stinky, washed rind cheese.

So what did I determine after drinking these two lovely bottles of wine? That I need to go buy replacements.

After re-reading the DoBianchi post on Maule, I noticed he mentioned that Francesco Maule was listening to and enjoyed heavy metal. What is it with these young Italian vignerons and metal? Luca Roagna is into it as well, even doing a wine with the singer from the Norwegian band Satyricon (which reminds me that I have to post the ‘mix cd’ I made for Luca of new US Black Metal bands). Anyway, I was wondering if Francesco was familiar with this amazing band (truthfully not metal, but tough as hell) from Trieste, Italy called The Secret. They put out one of my favorite albums last year, Solve et Coagula. Not for the feint of heart, just so you know.

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Mole Fete For SFJoe

Reprinted here from Wine Disorder by my own permission.

It was a grand meeting of Chicago wine geeks this past Saturday night as we all gathered at Josefa and Mark’s backyard under the pretense of toasting a one Mr. SFJoe, who happened to be in town for a conference, as well as tucking into some of the best mole you’re going to find north of the Rio Grande.

I had already been planning on getting together Saturday night to hang out and drink some wine with fellow my wine drinking buddies Phil and Nathan as we do every now and again. But, this time I thought it would be nice to open the invitation to another Chicago wine geek, Arno. As it would happen, just after hearing back from Arno that he’d be down for geeking out with us, Josefa posted on Facebook that she would be making mole and having a get together for SFJoe that Sat night. Somehow I had to get Josefa to agree to letting four dudes she barely knew converge our party with theirs and make it one super affengeil par-tay. Thankfully, she agreed and after letting my ‘crew’ in on the change we just had figure out which wines to bring. And bring wines we did.

First, though, the food. Josefa and her trusty sous-chef (husband) Mark made her famous chicken mole poblano. Good god this was so so good. I wish I could tell you everything that went into it, but what was incredible was the complex subtlety of it. Hints of spice, hints of sweet, hints of bitter… Throw along some amazing green (cilantro) rice, beans and corn tortillas. Forget about it. Oh, and the wine…

The wines. Well, there were a few. For the most part, everything showed pretty well. Out of all the wines only one was corked. Some resonated more with me than others, but they all had something to say. I did my best at trying to remember all the bottles there were. I couldn’t recall some of the specifics for a couple so hopefully someone will chime in to fill in the blanks. Also, since I wasn’t taking notes, I’m just going to mention what I can remember or general recollections/feelings on particular wines.

Vouette et Sorbée Blanc d’Argile ’07 fruit. Disgorged late 2009. Chardonnay. Joe suggested going with this one before the Fidele because of it’s leanness comparatively. And he was right. It was pure chalky minerality and acid. I believe Arno thought it could use some decanting. It did calm down later in the evening. The brasher of the two Vouettes.
Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle Pinot Noir. The particulars weren’t on the label for this one. Much more full and rounder (not saying much) compared to the Argile. Lovely stuff. Aromatically captivating.
2002 Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé This was the first wine I had. Don’t recall too much, other than it was nice. It was noted after the fact, that there was a touch of residual sugar that gave it a little, er, bump. Should’ve went back for another taste.
1998 Francois Jobard Meursault 1er Genevrières Screamed CHARDONNAY! But in a pretty good way. Decent acidity. Just don’t drink much white burgundies. The straight-laced dude in a tie at a dive bar.
2009 Luneau-Papin Muscadet Clos des Allees Only had a sip, but was nice. Seemed well put together if not a tad on the bigger side of muscadet. Still impressive. Could probably go a good long time.
2009 De Moor Chablis Bel Air et Clardy Again, just a sip. And again was big (relatively speaking). I wish I could say I’ve liked the ’09 De Moor Chablis’ I’ve had, but they haven’t done it for me; just not enough nervosité.
2009 Tue-Boeuf le P’tit Blanc Didn’t have this one.
1990 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay Cuvée LD The one thing that struck me was that the nose didn’t match the palate on this one. Nose belied the age whereas on the palate it was quite lively and full of stuffing.
NV Le Grand-Clere (Francois Blanchard) Blanc “Green Wax” This one was a bit of a head scratcher. Brought by Nathan and purchased from Garagiste. We had to go back to the profusely verbose offer to figure out what the fuck it was all about. Evidently its “100% Sauvignon Blanc [with a] majority blend of 2007 and 2008 with 2002 and 2006 added for a touch of oxidation”. It was fun reciting the ridiculous prose of the offer out loud. The wine itself definitely had an oxidized quality to it. I didn’t spend too long with it; just didn’t really care for it much this evening.
1999 Chateau Musar Blanc My first Musar blanc. It was pretty tasty. Unfortunately, it was later in the evening, so I wasn’t really paying too much attention to it. Tried it with the mole and worked ok, not the best paring in the world, but not the worst.
1988 Charles Joguet Chinon Clos de la Dioterie VV Brought by Arno. Was worried when the cork came out fully soaked and a bit moldy on top, but this didn’t miss a beat. Lovely, lovely aged Cabernet Franc. Earth and tobacco and dark red berries. Not going anywhere.
1989 Domaine les Roches Chinon Unfortunately, corked.
1999 Henri Gouges Nuits St. Georges Not bad. Started out nicely when I decanted it at home for sediment, but gradually became more and more closed down as the night progressed.
2008 Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Had a little glass of this early on. Nice. Not the best Crozes from them I’ve had, but still decently put together. Red fruit, some minerality, med/light body. Yeah. Later on Joe blows my mind by telling me that the bottle had been open for over a day (maybe even two). I couldn’t believe it. The other bottles I’ve done that to have all gone to oxidized shit by the morning. Interesting.
2009 Dard et Ribo Hermitage Brought by Nathan who’s boss from work went to Paris and brought this back for him from Caves Auge. One of my favorites of the evening. Full of life and depth. Dark red fruits, minerals, spice, full but not heavy. Obviously young. Unfortunately it’s under fake cork. But even under fake cork I believe it’ll be able to go at least five years if stored well.
1992 Edmunds St John Grand Heritage Syrah Was ok. First glass was nice, but by the end of the evening it seemed shrill and out of balance.
1996 Movia Veliko Rosso Hey, a Movia red that wasn’t completely whacked out on wood. Nice.
2008 Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape Not for me. Grenache and I aren’t exactly getting along these days.
2003 Huet Moelleux Le Haut Lieu Also not for me on this night. Just too sweet; too much.

Aftermath picture taken/borrowed from Mark's Facebook page.

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Marcillac Post Script.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for over two months now, but life, death and work all got in the way. And now oddly what I’ve wanted to write about, I’ve recently come to learn, is fast approaching it’s end. Much like finding a band who’s recent album you absolutely love and you become a fan of, anticipating their next one only to find out that that next album will be their last. Well, kind of like this, but not exactly.

I’ve written of my love for the Marcillac from Causse Marines here before. As much as it seems I sing it’s praises, I never get tired of doing so. I first tasted it back in November and it blew my socks off. Late to the Southwestern France game? Perhaps, but better late than never I say. A month or so later it came onto the retail market here in the middle of the west. I picked up a few bottles and was just as head over heels for it as I had been at the tasting. I made it a point to learn as much as I could about this new and exciting area/wine. It wasn’t easy trying find information about this tiny, little appellation (which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Andrew Jefford’s The New France had like a paragraph on it. What turned out to have a nice section about Marcillac was French Country Wines by Rosemary George (which I happened to find at a used bookstore in Detroit). Interestingly, one the producers she detailed was just starting out and happened to be Philippe Teulier who makes what is probably the best known Marcillac wine under the Domaine du Cros. Additionally another resource about the area I found (or was clued into by the author) was an in-depth post on David McDuff’s great blog that he had written about Cros.

Just after I wrote that previous post about Causse Marines, I emailed Kevin McKenna (Joe Dressner’s partner) asking him a few (quite geeky) questions about the wine. He wrote back saying he didn’t know some of the answers himself so he would forward them on to Virginie at the winery. A few weeks later I got an email back from Kevin which had the answers to my extraordinarily geekular questions copy and pasted from Virginie’s response. First, and what will be apparently important in a moment, is that it is Domaine du Mioula who own the vines in Marcillac that Causse Marines get their grapes from and is where Patrice Lescarret (Virginie’s partner) is the consulting winemaker. And what is interesting is that the soil there is “more limestone and not [the] red ground which is very specific to Marcillac”. It’s all Fer Servadou that goes into the bottle, though the people there call it Mansois (and down in Gaillac it’s called Braucol).

As for the age of the vines, she says that the ones that go into the bottle that LDM bring in are between 10 and 30 years old. The ones that are 30+ (and up to 100+) years old go into a special cuvée that I believe only Mioula sells. In answer to the question if they are organically farmed, Virginie says that “The vines haven’t the organic certification but there is a hard work in the vines to be on the organic way (we hope it will be the next step)”. And being very, very honest she says that “there is still one treatment for insects (against “cicadelle”) and until 2010 they used some grasskillers just under the plant. We are trying to impulse an organic way of working but it is still difficult to understand in this region”. From my understanding, this information only relates to their Marcillac bottling and their Gaillac and other wines (like the delicious Préambulles) is actually demeter certified.

Now, here comes the latest news fresh off the Twitter feed (and confirmed by Kevin). And it’s quite sad (at least to me). The 2010 bottling of the Marcillac from Causse Marines will be their last. There will be no more, so stock up.  Evidently, they were unable to reach an agreement with the owner of Domaine du Mioula regarding the progression to organic grape growing and have decided to stop purchasing grapes from Mioula. Sad, no? Though at least it’s assuaged by the fact that Causse Marines are making some other amazingly tasty wines (the Gaillac Les Greilles blanc, I’m looking at you).

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Break In Silence

There will be more to come, but for now, after tasting the wines from Louis/Dressner/McKenna over the last two days, all I have to say is buy as much 2010 Baudry Rosé that you can get your hands on. When you can get your hands on it, that is.

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Thwarted; or Maybe I Should Sue Zuckerberg, Too.

I was hoping to do a side-by-side comparison of two whites from La Biancara di Angiolino Maule this evening, the 2009 versions of the ‘I Masieri’ and ‘Sassaia’ bottlings. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way as the Sassaia was corked. Damn. Hate when that happens. Luckily, the I Masieri was fine and darn tasty at that (especially for a roughly $15 bottle of wine). The LDM site has a breakdown on the differences between these two and their other wines’ differences. According to the Maule website, the Masieri bianco is made from Garganega grapes that are fermented in stainless steel without any prolonged skin contact with a little bit of SO2 added. It’s meant to be no-frills and rough around the edges; a little country wine for the table.

What I found in the Masieri was a light straw yellow color, just a touch hazy. It didn’t taste like a ‘little’ wine to me. It was fairly complex in a way that belied any sense of a ‘lesser’ wine. It had that twang of almonds and citrus peel on the nose that I get from some orange wines. Along with a fairly heavy mouth feel, I could have sworn this had seen some prolonged skin contact. The palate was full of citrus and apricots and minerals all punctuated by a racy zip of acidity. It was fine with my dinner of a baked potato, but I imagine this would really shine with some salumi or a cheese course.

In a way, I’m kind of glad that the other wine was corked (hopefully I can get an exchange on it). As much as I’d like to have geeked out examining the two, looking for commonalities and differences, thinking about how one is ‘more’ or ‘lesser’ or how one ‘speaks to me’ more (and I’m not saying it’d not going to happen once I get a new Sassaia bottle). It was great to have a glass with dinner and then finish the rest of the bottle with Ms. Dérive while watching The Social Network on DVD (pretty good movie [thanks SAG member co-worker!]) and not have to think that hard on the wine.

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Recent Drinks.

Well, to go along with the Recent Tracks post, I figured I should do one on some of the wines I’ve had recently that were of note. Which isn’t to say that I actually took notes on them, I didn’t, so here are some fading memories.

The wife and I killed a bottle of Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée last night (the code etched in the bottle was Lr06 09/08 [which I believe means that it is from the '06 vintage and disgorged on September 8]). While it started off well enough, it was a bit nowhere at the end. It did have a killer nose though, quite similar to the Terre de Vertus bottling; that certain crushed rock, dirty chalkiness.  And the color was darker than some Poulsards I’ve had. I’ve learned that they are no long being brought in by LDM, but I’ve tasted some of the wines from their new Champagne producer, Francis Boulard, and I think they’ll be alright.

Tonight I had the 2008 Gaillac “Peyrouzelles” from Causse Marines. I’ve already wrote of my absolute love for their Marcillac, and I wish I could proclaim that same level of longing for this, but I can’t. It’s nice enough with deep dark fruit and some dirt, but is much flatter than the other. I felt this way at the tasting back in November and still feel this way now. A vintage thing? A grape blend thing? Dunno. I will say this for it though, it would definitely find a place at my table if I were having some roasted meat, a bunch of people were coming over and I didn’t want anyone to have to think too hard about the wine.

Back before Christmas (the eve of Christmas Eve, to be exact), I found myself wanting some wine. But knowing I wouldn’t be back in our place for almost a week I didn’t want to open a full bottle (I had a 7:30am train to catch) only to have it go bad on the counter, yet I wanted something to drink. I knew it would be too early in it’s evolution, but the 2004 Radikon Ribolla Gialla called out to me. And, well, it was too early to be hitting it. Nowhere near the highs the 2002 version had brought earlier in May, it was I believe pretty closed. There wasn’t much on the nose and the palate only hinted at the depth that laid in the way back. My advice, put your bottles away for a while and revisit in a few years, just make sure to keep a few random (cheaper) .375s or .500s around in case of emergency.

While I’m thinking about it, I’ve kind of had a rough run of encounters with orange wines of the meh kind. The most meh of them all was the 2002 Gravner Ribolla Anfora. Man, was this a let down. My first Gravner and it was just… nothing. It was a nothing wine. A bad bottle? I don’t know. I don’t give a shit. There was absolutely nothing on the nose, the barest of bare hints of almond/apricot pits. On the palate there was just about as much; very light and thin with the slightest citrus-y minerality. The finish might as well have been running a marathon it disappeared so quickly. Part of me thinks that the reason behind the lackluster-ness of this is the anfora. I’m still out jury-wise on whether or not anfora aging helps or hinders. More research (read: drinking) is needed. The saving grace for me is that I picked up this bottle for a song (about half normal price) at CSW. You win some, you lose some.

The other meh orange wine I had recently (well, it wasn’t exactly meh, but it wasn’t that great either), was the 2007 Movia Lunar. This was the second bottle I’ve had and I’m still unimpressed by it. In the land of the orange, it just doesn’t have the depth or character of some of the better ones (Paolo Bea Santa Chiara I’m looking at you). The where’s and why’s of this wine have been discussed by plenty of others, this write up by McDuff is a great place to get caught up (he even links to Asimov’s nice piece). I know it’s going to sound ridiculous, but the Lunar always just seems too nice, too light, too lovely to me; it just doesn’t say anything. Sorry. Something most people mention with this wine is the lack of tannins as compared to some of the other orange wines. Maybe that’s it, I do generally like some of the more assertive orange wines better.

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Recent Tracks.

There have been a few bands/songs that I’ve either stumbled on recently that I didn’t know existed or I hadn’t heard these particular tracks from before. Maybe you’re totally on top of them and I’m hipping you to something you already know. Maybe they’ll be new to you and you’ll like them as much as I have.

First up The Scientists from Perth, Australia.

I had heard some of their more ‘punk-y’, earlier tracks like “Frantic Romantic”, but this later stuff was new to me until about two months ago, when I started gathering tracks for a new mix I’ve been working on. Love, love, love the bass tone one this. Dirty.

Another band I found out about at the same time was Section 25. A Manchester UK band that put out records for Factory and were mates with Joy Division (whom they share a similarity to).

And I just heard this track today from Jorge Ben (who I was familiar with, but not  this song) and I can’t stop listening to it; the groove is super infectious. And when the backing vocals kick in? You can just feel the sunshine pouring in.

Also from Brazil is Tim Maia. Not terribly inventive for album titles (over ten of his records are self-titled), he marries soul and funk with samba and baião, especially on this track (which even has a great psych fuzz guitar tone).

(sorry for the crappy quality of this one, it’s the only one I could find on YouTube)

This next one may alienate some, but I also like heavier, noisier music. The Body from Providence, RI put out an amazing record last year and it was/is one of my favorites. Loud, sludgy, pulverizing. They sound like an artier version of the slowed down parts from power violence bands like Neanderthal or Man Is The Bastard (with better production).

And one more from the heavy department. The band Black Breath also put an album out this past year that is pretty abrasive. From the first note of the first track it just rips your ears apart. To me they sound like Black Flag-era Rollins singing for an ’80s trash band I listened to as a teen. Unfortunately, the videos of tracks off the record have been taken down, but here’s a live version of that first track (song kicks in at :35).

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