When A Blogger Calls.

This past Tuesday night myself and a couple like-minded, wine-loving guys got together at my favorite BYO place in town to open a few bottles with everyone’s favorite Italocentric wine blogger Mr. DoBianchi. We got the word that Dr. J would be coming to town and plans for a bit of libational shenanigans were put into motion. Can’t say the shenanigans part of the plan came to fruition (it was a school night after all), but some bottles were definitely laid to waste; some ended up being quite memorable.

First up was the NV Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle. Let me cut to the chase and say, holy shit, this was awesome. I had never had anything from Vouette et Sorbée before, but I truly hope that this won’t be the last. It was full of life. It was full of body. It was full of flavor. It was soul destroying. I’m still thinking about it. I think I’m addicted, like a junkie. I want to sell all my things and buy more. Shit, I want to steal your things and get all I can. And this was just their base cuvée; a blanc de noir from 100% pinot noir. They also have a blanc de blancs and a rosé. My mind races at the thought of how good those must be.

If I were to write anything other than what I thought about the wine, I would just be watering down the information I gleaned from the awesome, detailed write up that Peter Liem did for Saignée’s blog a year and a half ago. Incredible first hand info on Bertrand Gautherot and Vouette et Sorbée. Needless to say the Fidèle knocked my socks off. It’s definitely not a shrinking violet type; fine bead, full mouth, earthy, yeasty nose, and dry. Shit, I’m just reaching for bullshit descriptors. This and the next wine were beyond words. The only thing that can come close is haunting.

I opened the 2000 Raveneau Chablis 1er Vaillons next after the Fidèle. Just a little pour to see if it was corked. I was a little suspect of the bottle. I think it had come via the grey market (as it had no importer sticker on the back and it also seemed like there could’ve been some seepage up top. I meant to open it at home and check it beforehand, but forgot. I wish’d I would have because it wasn’t corked or oxidized in the least, but it was young; it took almost an hour to open up. At first it really wasn’t much of anything; rain water was what I thought. Though, with the last sip I could tell that there was something hiding back behind those rain drops.

To tide us over until the Raveneau blossomed, we opened another gloriously gorgeous bottle of Costadilà Prosecco brought by Mr. Nathan. Man, that wine is simply a good time waiting to happen. All lightly lemony and utterly fresh, this could get any old Eeyore to crack a smile. With a tinge a sea spray and pithy bitterness it’s just as nice as can be. A great accompaniment to the variety of fried Cuban appetizers we had before us. I still think it’s best a bit shaken up to disturb the lees that have settled to the bottom.

 

Right then. I'm all set, what'll you be having?

While still waiting for the Raveneau, but after the Costadilà, Nathan opened up a bottle of 2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett. Now, I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to Riesling, well maybe heathen isn’t the right word, um, noob, might be the correct term. Whichever word you use, I just haven’t been bitten by the Riesling bug yet. But, this was really quite nice. The nose on this was the best part for me, the aromas just filled your brain with glycerin, citrus and chalk. Though what was definitely memorable was the way it just floated in your mouth. It was so feather-like compared to what you’d think it would be like by the nose. Float like a bee, sting like a butterfly.

Hey, it's a Riesling

At this point I went back to the Raveneau only to find it absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, not showing any of it’s ten years of age and in no way over-the-hill. Lithe and steel-y and brimming with crushed sea-shells it was eye-opening. It was my first Raveneau and the first ‘aged’ Chablis that I felt benefited from that time. Along with the Vouette, it was a one-two punch that I haven’t stopped thinking about.

The last bottle we had was also top notch (and no less worthy of attention than the others). The 1998 Illuminati Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Zanna that Phil brought was pure bottled sunshine with deep, earthy, dark fruit notes; but not heavy in anyway, just comfortable in it’s own skin I’d say. Again, this was the oldest bottle of Montepulciano I have ever had, but it was showing no signs of aging. DoBianchi has just written up a nice blog entry about the wine which goes into a little more detail than I can. It wasn’t one of those bottles that shatters your world (well, at least mine). It wasn’t one that made you sit and contemplate your existence in the world. But, what it was was the prefect bottle of wine to share with some great dudes who I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know over the course of the last year. Thanks for a great evening, gents.

The right bottle, for the right evening.

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Celebrating Celebration

Nice. Indeed.

A couple days before Christmas, I had a little impromptu get together with a friend who happens to have a similar taste in wines. We got together not only to celebrate the holidays but also to celebrate the fact that my kids were in Michigan with the grandparents and we could laugh, drink and listen to music with abandon. So, we opened a couple bottles because we could.

First up was the 2008 De Moor Saint-Bris. A lovely wine of hay coloring and a nose of ripe citrus fruit. I’d never had this wine from them before and truthfully, I didn’t know that De Moor had made a Sauvignon Blanc. I liked it, though I thought it fluctuated between being balanced and being just a bit ‘ripe’. But, it definitely had a great minerality and acidic backbone and went especially well with the (aged) Acapella goat cheese from Andante we had with it. Actually a great pairing and erased any sort of shortcoming I may have felt the wine by itself had had. And because we were rocking the goat cheese, I thought it’d be a great thing to have the 2009 Baudry Chinon Blanc with. Well, I was wrong. The two didn’t really play well together. Which in this case was fine by me, because I loved the wine as it was. All green apple, acid and minerals it was wound up tighter than Natalie Portman’s character in Black Swan. It was the type of wine that would give you a hug then slap you in the face while laughing nervously then grab your ass as you walked away telling you to come back later. Yup. I liked it, but a bit of time may help (unless you like it like that).

As for the red wines of the evening, unfortunately they weren’t as exciting. I’ve had kind of a hard run lately with Puffeney’s Pinot Noirs. I had a bottle of the ’08 (mentioned previously) that was just not good; thin, overly acidic, no nose. I have it from someone that that was not an indicative bottle of what it should be. I guess I’ll get another one and give it some time. In the mean time, I figured I’d give the 2007 Puffeney Pinot Noir a chance to make up for the poor showing of it’s younger sibling. Well, it was definitely better than the ’08, but unfortunately something still just seemed off. There was a layer of funk and some VA that made the nose just not that lovely. The palate was alternating nice with some earthiness and spices but also weirdly swampy, disjointed and hot. It really didn’t go with the pork rillettes we were tucking into. To the wine’s credit, it was a bit better the next night and actually went well with some left over Cacio e Pepe pasta; the pepperiness of both playing well with one another. I even had some on day 3 and it still wasn’t saying the right things. The other red we opened was a 2007 Moric Blaufränkisch brought by my guest. It was a lovely enough wine, not enough to really make you sit up and pay attention but a nice companion to evening. And an even nicer companion to the pork rillettes. Which means it played it’s role perfectly. With a nose of dusty, red berry fruit and a similar palate it was similar to, but just a touch less than the ’04 Blaufränkisch from Paul Achs I had had earlier in the week. I’ve heard much about the single vineyard wines from Moric and would love to try those some time.

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Short On Info, Long On Flavor

About a month ago, I went to a tasting of the recent vintages for a few wines (like thirty) that Louis/Dressner (or LDM) import. This was held at one of the best wine bars in Chicago, Webster’s Wine Bar. And while Joe Dressner was to come in and show the wines, a week earlier his health had turned the wrong corner and he was unable to make it. Fortunately the show went on with Joe’s business partner (and the ‘M’ in LDM) Kevin McKenna flying in and hanging out with us. Needless to say, there were quite a few amazing wines that night, but the one that just blew me away, that was the stand-out, knock-me-on-my-ass wine was the 2009 Marcillac from Causse Marines.

Add another eleven and it's exactly what I'd love to find under the tree

That night at Websters I couldn’t stop smelling this; it was intoxicating. I kept coming back to it all night. I’d go taste a few other things, but the thought of the aromas on this was like a sirens call beckoning me back. It was deep and earthy, peppery and meaty. It also had notes of rosemary and blood; it was like liquified salumi. It was love at first smell. Thankfully the taste of it matched the nose. Mouth watering, snappy, spicy, soulful, dark berries, tannins, acid all there, all rolling around on the ground getting busy with each other. The only thing that I could possibly say was wrong, was that I wasn’t eating any meat (preferably grilled) at the time. Safe to say a mental note was made of the vintage, producer and wine and with that label, it’s a pretty easy bottle to remember.  But, wha? Causse Marines?? Marcillac??? No badgers allowed?!?

No badgers allowed but what about Zhu Zhu pets?

Imagine my extreme joy when my local pusher, er, wine seller extraordinaire told me that he had recently gotten some of this in and he was willing to take my money so I could take a bottle with me and partake of this beauty’s charms in the comfort of my home. Huzzah! Well, it wasn’t a fluke, this bottle was just as awesome as the one I’d had at the tasting. *Sniff* Ahhh, same nose. *Sip* Mmmm, same taste. Lovely jubbly. But, now, some questions had to be answered. What was the story behind the producer? Where was Marcillac? What grape was used for this? What was the vine age and what was the soil like that grew in? With so many questions, it was off to teh interwebz.

After a little digging, I really didn’t come up with much. Found an old blog post from Lyle about the ’08 version (he seems to have liked it, too), but it was predominately a tasting note. Though, in the comments section I noticed that Kevin McKenna wrote that the Marcillac was a relatively new wine for Causse Marines. As for Causse Marines itself, I did find a website for them, but my french isn’t the best, the English version isn’t working and it’s not the easiest to navigate. But, with the help of Google translate, I found out that it was started in 1993 by Patrice Lescarret in the town of Gaillac about an hour north of Toulouse in the Southwest bit of France.

Working originally with 8 hectares, but now bumped up to 12 ha, Lescarret is helped  by Virginie Maignien with the intention of honoring the indigenous grapes of Gaillac; such household brand names like Ondenc, Mauzac and Duras. Via my post on Disorder looking for more info, Joe Dressner wrote that “All their vines, from before World War II, have been “grafted in place” and the new plantations come from “sélection massale.” The domaine’s name is derived from the word for limestone plateau on which it is located, called a “Causse,” and the stream named “Marines” which runs at the bottom of the property. Grapes are harvested by hand, and raised and vinified without chemicals. Some wines are free of added sulphites.” He added that the grapes that go into the Marcillac are known as Braucol also called Fer Servadou.

Evidently, Lescarret is quite a character, evidenced at least by the anti-badger tag on the back label, but also by thumbing his nose at the  French AOC laws that state you can’t put the name of the grape on the label. For his varietal wines he skirts around this by calling them Dencon (for Ondenc), Zacmau (Mauzac) and Rasdu (Duras). Joe says they “rigorously follow the teachings of jocular biodynamie” and according to their website, they are Demeter certified. They have also made a Vin Jaune styled wine using the Mauzac grape, called Mysterre, allowing it to develop an oxidative quailty over the course of ten years without being topped up.

As for Marcillac itself (about two hours north of Gaillac), another poster on Disorder wrote what I believe is a quote from the South-West France: The Wines and Winemakers book by Paul Strang about Marcillac and in particular the Domaine du Mioula where Lescarret is/was the consulting winemaker. I’m quoting the following passage, though I don’t know if it’s taken directly from the book or edited. “While nearly all of Marcillac was devastated by phylloxera and had to be replanted and grafted to American rootstocks, Mioula’s owner Bernard Angles claims that a few of his vines are franc de pied. The oldest of the newer vines are 30+ years. Some of Mioula’s vines are planted in chalky soil high up on the causse, above the level of the iron-rich soils that characterize Marcillac.”

This about all the information I’ve been able to glean over the past couple days. If I can find any more, especially regarding the Causse Marines Marcillac, I’ll update this post.

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A Happy Accident

From the sometimes-things-just-work-out department. In mid-September this year I spent two weeks in Manhattan for work and one Saturday I ventured down to Chambers St. Wines to grab a couple things. Well, a couple things turn into six or so bottles (funny how easy that happens there), too much to try and carry back home, so I had them ship the wines. The excursion wasn’t the best timed as I squeezed it in before having to catch a train. Long story short, I got wrapped up in talking with people there, started running out of time to catch my train and thought I had grabbed a bottle of 2007 Trousseau from Domaine de la Tournelle (imported by Jenny&Francois) when in fact I grabbed a bottle of their 2007 Fleur de Savagnin (damn labels looks so similar). Needless to say I was a bit surprised when I opened the package and saw the-not-Trousseau looking back at me. Oh well, I thought, could’ve been worse.

Savagnin, not Trousseau

There is no way I can out-do the back story for Tournelle and their wines that Bert at Wine Terroirs has put together (if you’ve found my lowly blog, then I imagine you’re familiar with his highly informative one). Anyway, the other day at the best place on the interwebz to talk about talking about wine someone posted a note about the 2007 Fleur de Savagnin from Tournelle mentioning how nice it was (in almost as many words, yet much more poetic). What great news! The same bottle I accidentally bought was supposedly awesome. Nice. Well, curiosity got the better of me and it was only a matter of days before I was running over to my storage site to grab the bottle and see for myself.

I was so determined to get into the wine that I wasn’t even going to let a little thing like not having any Comté in the house hold me back (though I tried; you’d think no one in Chicago needs to buy good cheese past 7:30 pm). Throwing caution to the wind, I forged ahead and opened it anyway (‘I’ll just save half for tomorrow and pick up the cheese by then’ was my thinking). What greeted me was a lovely light yellow wine with a lovely nose of citrus and just a hint of walnuts and a lovely, mouth-filling taste of orange, nuttiness and minearality with a blast of acidity. Did I mention lovely? Because, yes, that is what is was. In all areas. Granted on the first night, it was wound maybe just a bit tight. On the second night though, it was showing it’s wares with abandon. Maybe that’s because I had brought Savagnin’s BFF Comté around to play. There’s is just something about the interplay of the nuttiness of the Savagnin (even the slight pronouncement of one that has been produced ouillé, or topped off) and that of the cheese that just go skipping hand-in-hand down the hill together.

Needless to say, I am quite happy with this little ‘accidental’ purchase. Actually, I now wish I would have bought more.

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Sing me a song, you’re a singer-songwriter-man, man.

Emitt Rhodes pic taken from the internets

Ok, so I’ve just put together another mix (the previous one is a few posts back). This one is a bit different than the first, maybe a bit more ‘accessible’. Whatever. I found myself listening to a few of these tracks recently, and like the first mix, found some more and some more and the next thing you know I’ve got a playlist of 20 or so songs. Into Soundtrack they go… fade this, truncate that and there you have it. A nice little mix for you to gaze your ears upon. No particular story to go with this one (unlike the Alles mix), if there’s a common thread, most of the musicians here would fall into the Singer/Songwriter category. But who cares for categories. Hope you enjoy.

http://www.mediafire.com/?voor813gyri6w5z

Tracklist (again, if you must):

Sixto Rodriguez “Sugar Man”

Scott Walker “The Old Man Is Back Again”

Jacques Dutronc “Hippie Hippie Hourah”

Elliott Smith “Amity”

Jon Brion “Ruin My Day”

Dungen “Lipsill”

Emitt Rhodes “Somebody Made For Me”

Brendan Benson “Tiny Spark”

Sloan “Everything You’ve Done Wrong”

Big Star “September Gurls”

Cheap Trick “He’s A Whore”

The Animals “A Girl Named Sandoz”

Harry Nilsson “Jump Into The Fire”

The Velvet Underground “Head Held High”

The Kinks “Lola”

Emitt Rhodes “Long Time No See”

Albert Hammond “It Never Rains In California”

Captain Beefheart “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”

Michael Nesmith “Until It’s Time For You To Go”

Dennis Wilson “Lady (Falling In Love)”

Roxy Music “Pyjamerama”

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Public Service Announcement

Just a warning. Do not open your bottle of 2008 Jacques Puffeney Arbois Pinot Noir. I thought I’d treat myself to a bottle last Friday night. Yeah, not a treat. It was not good. Thin, overly acidic (I can’t believe I’m saying that), very tart (underripe?), not much on the nose. And unfortunately, it didn’t get any better over the course of three days. Maybe a little more expressive on the nose. I’m not going to say ‘do not buy this’  because, well, do what you want. I’ll most likely get one more bottle and hold onto it for a little bit in hopes that it’ll come together or that it was perhaps an off bottle. Truthfully, it’s probably just way, way too early to be opening this in any event. Just don’t do it. Or do it and let me know how it was for you.

 

***[Edited to add] I just was emailing with a fellow Disorderly/Wine Geek and they mentioned that they had had the ’08 Pinot from Puff and it was solid. Looks like mine was an off bottle. Will have to try again.***

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What, oh what, to blog about.

This goat.

Well, not really. I mean, it’s a nice looking goat, but that’s not what I’m thinking about. I stole this picture off the website of Costadilá. They happen to make an incredible Prosecco that is so alive and vibrant that sooner than you can say ‘Hey, that’s a good looking goat’ the bottle will be empty. Hell, you might not even be able to get past ‘hey’ if your drinking partner enjoys it as much as my wife did.

Visual memory can account for a lot. Truthfully, the main reason I even gave thought to picking a bottle of this up (well, other than the fact that it’s one of the few Italian wines imported by LDM that make it to my windswept town in the middle of the west) is that that gentlemanly blogger extraordinaire dobianchi wrote a post about it a little bit ago. He also had a picture of it (which I hope he won’t mind me stealing) that etched itself in my brain along with something like ‘this is fucking good’ (though probably worded a bit more adult-like).

It’s true, this is what it looks like. It’s beautifully simple. So, when I saw it arrive at my favorite local wine shop, something in the back of my brain said ‘This is fucking good’ (or something to that effect) and I knew I just had to have it. Like I said, that and the fact that Dressner/McKenna imports it was enough for me.

Thankfully, the wine didn’t taste of goat. Though it did take me a bit to wrap my head around it, which I think is a good thing. I didn’t just take a sip, sit back and say ‘I proclaim this bottle to be awesome’. It took me a glass or two to really note how lovely it was; how special indeed it was. I think the second thing you notice after the beautifully minimal bottle design is the fact that there is a lot of sediment/lees at the bottom. Very much unfined and unfiltered. It has a wonderfully yeasty/lees-y taste that goes along with the fresh, lemon and green apple-ness that initially was quite bitter, but dissipated after I agitated the bottle to move the sediment around a bit. I actually quite preferred the wine after it had been shaken a touch. It lost the bitterness and gained some complexity from the yeast.

It’s the kind of wine that makes you happy to be drinking it. It’s not a direct route to happiness, but because you have to follow it there it heightens the sensation; the means justify the end. It’s so full of life that you just feel alive drinking it, especially if you can share it with someone who happens to feel the same way. I can only hope that the goat in the picture above feels as happy hanging out on the Trevisian fields.

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