Stuart George

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Château Léoville-Poyferré 2007–1996

In Tastings on January 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm

At today’s Richards Walford annual portfolio tasting there were a few mini-verticals to investigate. The most impressive of these was a six-vintage vertical of Château Léoville-Poyferré 2007–1996.

It is difficult to concentrate and write extensively at such a busy tasting so my notes are by necessity pithy.

2007

Earthy fruit, some oak still there. Pleasant but underwhelming. Drink 2015–20+?

2006

Quite hard oak tannins. Rather charmless. 2015–20+?

2005

Quite closed on the nose. Sumptuous palate, far smoother and richer than 2007 or 2006. 2015–25?

2004

Earthy nose, some cigar – starting to mature. Quite a nice texture, fairly smooth but lacks the power of 2005.

2001

A bit closed, some cigar again. Not quite ready, with some tannin to lose, though these are good. Finishes a bit shorter than some of the other wines. 2012–18?

1996

Cigar nose. Palate just about ready, smooth and supple. Now to 2015?

The lunch at Baltic Restaurant was as delicious and the waitresses as pretty as ever, of course!

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Ma Cave Fleury

In Restaurants/wine and food on January 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

On Friday 15 January I had a painfully early departure from St Pancras to be in Paris for a 9.30am meeting. Happily there weren’t any snow-related problems with my Eurostar train and I arrived promptly.

After the meeting I was left with 11 hours to kill in Paris before returning home. I went for a walkabout, starting on Avenue George V, then to the Eiffel Tower. From there I walked right across the city to Père Lachaise Cemetery where I visited Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison and then headed back west for a more social meeting than the morning appointment.

I had arranged to rendezvous with Per and Britt Karlsson, an immensely likeable Swedish couple who have lived in Paris for 16 years. They run wine tours for Scandinavian clients and send out the useful BKWine Brief e-mail each month.

Britt suggested we meet at a wine bar that she had not yet visited. Ma Cave Fleury is a “cave éco-logique” run by Morgane Fleury of the eponymous Côte des Bar Champagne house. It opened in February 2009 and lists a full range of Fleury Champagnes as well as a nice selection of other Biodynamic wines.

We tried the soft and fruity Rosé de Saignée NV (actually 2006), which had generous Aubois fruit and a flattering dosage of about 9g/ltr according to Morgane. A bit too sweet for me, even after walking across Paris.

The Blanc de Blancs 2000 was yeasty and bready though utterly clean with it. I thought it was quite mineral. This had a lower dosage of about 5g/ltr and was better for it – more refined and grown-up!

Ma Cave Fleury is on the seedy Rue Saint-Denis. Morgane told us that she never had any trouble with the sex shops and prostituées but drug dealing was a significant problem and she closes relatively early as a safeguard against unwelcome visitors in the evening.

Not having been to Paris for some time I had forgotten how ubiquitous the greengrocers’ apostrophe is with shops trying to be chic and using English: mocha’s, latte’s and  coffee’s. On Rue Saint Denis the shops sell interesting video’s and film’s…

The Rebel Tours: Cricket’s Crisis of Conscience

In Cricket on January 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

My pithy review of Peter May’s recently published The Rebel Tours: Cricket’s Crisis of Conscience was published in last week’s Times Literary Supplement.

I have put a full-length review here of this fascinating book. Peter May has done a very good job in covering the events and issues of this still contentious subject.

2008 Burgundy

In Tastings on January 13, 2010 at 9:20 am

On 7 January, I went to what was my first – and probably last – Burgundy 2008 en primeur tasting of 2010. The offices of Goedhuis & Co are just up the road from my flat, though the extraordinary recent weather here in London meant that a ten minute walk took close to 20 minutes.

Johnny Goedhuis and his enthusiastic staff have as good a selection of Burgundy as anybody in the UK; if I were to attend only one tasting, then this was as useful as any. Although I got my initial wine education at Haynes Hanson & Clark and had the privilege of working with Anthony Hanson MW, author of the brilliant but now outdated Faber title Burgundy, I still find the region and its wines labyrinthine in their complexity. I simply don’t know enough about it to be a good judge of young, fûts de chênes samples of red and white Burgundy. You have to be dedicated to it, like Johnny Goedhuis or Jasper Morris are, to really understand it.

My overall impression of the wines tasted chez Goedhuis was that the whites were on the whole a bit better than the reds, though that could be to do with the varying difficulty of judging such young wines. I found that the whites became crisper as they moved up the scale (or hillside!) – the best premiers and grands crus for me had a snake-like acidity that was forceful but utterly clean. “Purity” is essential to fine Burgundy. The best wines here were, in the words of Sylvia Plath, “as pure and clean as the cry of a baby.” But they are very expensive.

The lesser village and regional wines were for me fatter but that is not a problem – you just drink them sooner! No wine or producer stood out but I found the Jobard wines particularly challenging to my early morning and part-frozen palate.

Some of the red grands crus were very impressive for their richness and structure – Drouhin-Laroze’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze was a biggie, massively structured and very rich. Others were more difficult, such as Clos des Lambrays, which is often inscrutable when young.

The Goedhuis printed offer for its 2008 Burgundies was as informative as always. I noted with interest that Laurent Ponsot has initiated a “complex authentication system for all of his 1er and Grand (sic) Crus… Following issues with counterfeiting.” Readers of my reports on fine wine auctions and the secondary market – there must be at least one of you! – will recall that some Ponsot lots consigned to Acker Merrall & Condit by Rudy Kurniawan at its April 2008 auction were withdrawn at the last moment due to Ponsot’s objections. Bravo Laurent for being so stringent; not so bravo for most fine wine producers who give a Gallic shrug when confronted with the issue of forgeries. This issue is like an oil slick on the oh so smug pond that is the world of fine wine. With growing Chinese interest in wine, the problem will only become worse.

The Goedhuis gang is such a nice bunch of people that they can be forgiven for the solecistic “wonderous” on the back cover of the offer. Perhaps it is a US spelling.

The Berry Bros & Rudd 2008 Burgundy catalogue was also entertaining. What other merchant would have a “Fine Wine Sales Advisor” with the surname “Gossip”; a “Cellar Plan Manager” called “Cave”; and have its “Fine Wine Director” Simon Staples describe – apparently with a straight face – Jean-Noël Gagnard’s Bâtard-Montrachet as having a “majestic girth”? I suspect that the delightful Simon Berry would have approved the copy with a knowing smile.

Miscellaneous tasting notes

In Tastings on January 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Some wines that I have tried recently in London.

FRANCE

2008 Luc & Jérôme Choblet Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes

Mâconnais in style, though actually from the Loire. Good wine.

2007 Maison Champy Pernand-Vergelesses Clos de Bully

Some youthful oak still apparent. Sweet and juicy fruit. Drink now to 2012.

2002 Champagne Pierre Vaudon Brut

Noticeably richer and more elegant than the Pierre Vaudon NV. One of the best vintages of this wine that I have tried.

2005 Les Allées de Cantemerle

Supple and soft. Yum. Perhaps a bit too ripe?

AUSTRALIA

2007 Heggies Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay Eden Valley

A bit of coconut on the nose. More butter on the palate – well-judged oak. Good.

2008 Jim Barry The Florita Riesling Eden Valley

A punch of rich fruit on the finish. Good.

2005 Yalumba The Signature  Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Barossa

Slightly fecal nose, some tobacco. Full and warming, with a nice structure. Age to 2015 for more smoothness.

1987 Seppeltsfield Para

Madeira-like nose. Very rich, with a long finish. Very good.

Seppeltsfield Rutherglen Grand Muscat NV

Lighter nose – Muscat! Thick, unctuous texture. Very rich and sweet but fresh. Yum. Really good.

2006 Icely Road Chardonnay Mayfield Vineyards Orange

White peach aromas. Subtle and very well-made. Good.

PORTUGAL

2007 Prats & Symington Chryseia

Velvety and luscious. Good length. Age to 2015+?

2008 Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal Branco

Gold colour. Not as oxidised as expected on the nose… A hint of acetate. Soft, dry and rich. Very esoteric.

2007 CV Curriculum Vitae Douro Red

Lots of fruit, not over-oaked, full and firm. Good.

2004 Quinta da Fonte do Ouro Reserva Dão

Mature. Still some rustic tannin but smooth and balanced. No excessive oak. Highly drinkable. Considering that the cork was only 37mm long, it has aged well.

ARGENTINA

2006 Finca Sophenia Synthesis The Blend Mendoza

Rolland in excelsis – fleshy, ripe, plummy fruit. Yum.