Monday, April 11, 2005

Dinner with a Friend

Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2001, Pur Sang, Didier Dagueneau ($80 importation)
An extraordinary Sauvignon Blanc, and at 4 years old it tastes as though it was put in the bottle last year. With an incredible harmony between acidity and richness, an elegant and thoughtful use of oak, it was very, very classy. If the company at the table wasn’t so good, I might have remembered more details about it, but it was perfect with the cheese fondue. It was intense and stood out on it’s own, as most great wines often do, but was a solid compliment to both the food and the conversation.

Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru 1999, La Riotte, Domaine Taupenot-Merme ($79..saq)
It is amazing how a great Pinot Noir can be so many different things to so many different plates. This is my third time drinking this bottle, and each time both it’s texture and flavors have varied depending on the food being served. Great Pinot becomes this haunting backdrop to the most subtle and exotic of spicings, and always drinks effortlessly. This time with filet mignon- fondue style, it was a texture game. Both the meat and wine melted into a rich and buttery mouthful, with the wine adding hints of dark fruit and cloves.

Some Californian Pinot Doesn’t Suck
A fellow blogger Christian trashed Californian Pinot Noir pretty well, and while I generally agree, I am still on the lookout, hoping to find people in Cali who have figured out how to blend Cali coyness with Burgundian elegance. I recently tasted a couple of Pinots from Saintsbury ($37..saq) and they were great. Equally good and perhaps a touch better is the Pinot Noir-Mondeuse from Au Bon Climat ($32.... importation). It’s a classic Savoie Blend done with enough character to place it somewhere other than France. Great.

11 comments:

john bossy said...

Some of these bloggers have a pretty hot temper. First you've got Huge Johnson raging against the French, and now Christian Depken detesting California. Nobody seems to know how to make wine anywhere.

They have some good arguments, and I agree that in general Californian Pinot Noir is not Burgundian. But a Saintsbury 2000 I drank with coq au vin was delicious. It was rich, layered and brooding. Maybe that doesn't sound like a premier cru from the Côte de Beaune. I avoided the comparison.

Maybe the French should stay away from varietal designations for that very reason. If in Burgundy they hold that the grape is a medium through which to express place, let them name their sites and vineyards as they always have, and leave it to the Californians to agonize over what makes good pinot noir.

caveman said...

Thanks for the comments John.

I have sparred myself with Huge on a couple of occasions though never on the quality of Californian wine. I must admit to siding with Christian's rather blunt critique as I find myself drinking a lot less Cali wine (and most New World wine for that matter). I can't handle the alchohol and the lack of acidity. The Saintsbury guy laughed when I asked him about what Burgundy was going to do about 2003.. he said, 'Now they can see what we have to deal with year in, year out.' But if Saintsbury can do a good Pinot, logic says that others can follow the model .. and that model is Burgundy. So we will always faced with the comparison.

I think the french should just label the wine different for export markets.

Easy,
Bill

john bossy said...

Yes, Cali pinot can be pretty heavy handed stuff. Interesting comment coming from Saintsbury. So they concede that heat is a problem.

I know comparisons are inevitable, I just can't resist the impulse to defend French tradition. Even when it's not under attack. The most beguiling and mystifying wines I have ever tasted were Burgundies.

caveman said...

Beguiling is a great description John. I agree that Pinot done well is the best that red wine has to offer (I'm a white drinker). And the Saintsbury fellow studied and worked in Burgundy for a long time so he knew why his product was right for the Quebec market... and you are where?
Bill

john bossy said...

I’m a Torontonian from Quebec. I have the distinction of having been a vendengeur during two of the worst vintages in recent Bordeaux history – 1980 & 1983. Tough times, but that is how I came to like wine.

It got serious in 2001. I had purchased two bottles on a trip to Niagara. I thought it would be nice to hold them for a while. My wife pointed out that every bottle I’d ever bought was consumed soon after its arrival in our home. This was unlikely to change. She had a point, so I decided to buy a wall of wine, bottles for immediate consumption that would serve as a kind of buffer zone protecting the two bottles to be saved. It worked.

But a funny thing happened. The buffer zone started getting too good. More walls of wine were required to protect the buffer zone. Soon a small collection began to form as my appreciation increased. Now I own about 100 bottles of mostly French wines, but I am sure at least ten other countries are also well represented.

My main preoccupation now is to learn to cook well enough to do justice to these wines. Like you, Bill, I prefer wines that pair well with food and therefore lean towards the old world. I also enjoy the earthy secondary flavours that come through with an aged wine. That is one reason for having a cellar. The other is to have available at all times the right compliment to any conceivable cuisine.

I still own one of the two original bottles, a Cave Spring CSV Estate Bottled Riesling 2000 ($25).

You mentioned that your preference is for white wine, Bill. I’m guessing that has something to do with the food you enjoy. What are your thoughts on the ageability of white wines? I realize that most are best enjoyed young and that is what I practice. But there are some interesting exceptions aren’t there? What are some of your favourite pairings?

caveman said...

Morning John,

Aren't cellars great? I guess I have around 300 bottles (around half of them white).

Obviously, most sweet whites can be kept for ever, but I like most of my whites with a little age as well. For the dry and demi sec mountain whites(Alsace, German, Austrian), I have bottles that date back to 97 and I am not in a rush to drink them. Chenin Blanc is also a fantastic keeper.

I had a bunch of Jolivet Sancerre 2001, cuvée Les Caillotes, that I was hoping to keep but with the feeble state of 03 Loire, I am running thru them at quite a clip so I won't get to see how far they can go. But as a rule, I like Sauvignon younger then older, but at 4 or 5 years of age, the good ones are still impeccable and can gain complexity.

As far as pairings go, I like Jura Chardonnay with Guinea Hen or any wild bird, Oaky Sauvignon with sushi, and German Riesling all the time. Rousanne and the oxidized whites of the south west with garlic and very intense foods...

And go leafs!

Bill

john bossy said...

What do you drink with dry chenin blanc? I once had a ten year old Soucherie. It was pretty steely stuff.

Oh no, Bill. Not the leafs. I grew up in Montreal. 1967 is painful memory for me.

john bossy said...

Correction. I meant, of course, eat with chenin blanc, esp. Savennières.

caveman said...

Hey John,
Actually, as teh son of a rabid leaf fan, I grew up as the only Leaf fan in Montreal...Builds character getting laughed at for 3 decades.
Dry Chenin is tough, and Savinieres is even tougher.. It has to be at least 5-7 years old and then through it at a fish.. maybe with some mushroomy, lemony thing as accompaniment... I am more of a demi-sec Vouvray guy but am not prejudiced against the dry stuff. Never tried it with shrimps but that could be interesting...
Bill

john said...

Thanks, Bill.

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