Earlier this summer there was again a fine wine-oriented BYO pulled together via a forum called finewines.se. As usual some truly high-class wines, but unlike some of the earlier editions, Champagne made up less than half the wines, and there was none less than four non-sparkling white wines included, a category that often has been somewhat neglected on these occasions. Among the wines there were three pairs of wines that seemed obviously coordinated, but it turned out that only one of the pairs actually was coordinated. That was the two 2008 Chassagne-Montrachet premier crus, brought by one person. The two Selosse Substance of two successive disgorgement years, and the two Chablis premier crus from the vineyard Forets, both were pure coincidences, since they were brought by different people who claimed not to have talked to each other beforehand. At least in the case of the two Selosse wines, I must believe them, because I’m fairly certain those two didn’t know each other before. Almost spooky. Or perhaps the Stockholm fine wine scene moves in very narrow wheel tracks? Well, who knows. As usual, the wines were served blind, and it must be admitted that we sidetracked in some of our guesses, also in some cases where we agreed what it must be.
David Léclapart l’Alchimiste 2006
Champagne, rosé, 100% Pinot Noir
Appearance: medium red, good mousse.
Nose: red wine nose with cherries and blackberries, spice and tar, some oak. Goes even more in the direction of oaked red wine with time in the glass.
Palate: fruity, somewhat sweet fruit-styled in the attack, noticeable spice, medium acidity. The mid-palate shows tannins and dryness, and the aftertaste is quite spicy.
Summary: powerful, odd style, 87 p?
The aromas here didn’t really indicate Pinot Noir to me, and I started to think about something like Grenache. I didn’t think it was a Champagne since the acidity was on the low side for this, and it was rather sweet in the attack. When I heard it actually was a Pinot Noir, I still didn’t guess Champagne but started to consider a German “Rotsekt” since it was more red than rosé-coloured. I hadn’t tried this wine before, but I did try the other whites from Léclapart. I was told that this wine hasn’t always garnered the most praise, and I don’t consider it very similar to the white Léclaparts, since they show much more elegance and minerality. The only other rosé Champagne I’ve tasted that have had a similar colour is Jacquesson’s Terres Rouges, which is also an odd wine, but it definitely shows more acidity and mineral than l’Alchimiste did.
Bollinger La Grande Année 1999
Champagne, approx 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay, disgorged July 2008
Appearance: bright yellow, the lightest in hue among the four white bubblies
Nose: citrus including zest, ripe yellow fruit, some notes of maturity, possibly some oak, mineral, slightly smoky, some perfume.
Palate: citrus, grapefruit, rather high acidity, some spice, good concentration (but not really “fat”), long aftertaste.
Summary: has not peaked yet, 92 p
This wine came across as younger and with higher acidity than I had expected once I knew what it was. It mostly lacked those tell-tale notes of old apples, “winter apples” and Pinot that Bollinger, and in particular Grande Année and R.D., almost always shows. We all believed this was an oaked blanc de blancs. Well, we were right about the oak, but Bollinger (unlike for example Krug) is usually not taken for a blanc the blancs, and 1999 is not really a vintage that should reinforce such an expression. A very good but slightly odd bottle.
Selosse Substance, disgorged 29 October 2008
Champagne, 100% Chardonnay, base wine from solera
Appearance: dark gold with amber hue, darkest among the four white Champagnes
Nose: red apples, old winter apples, oranges, some oak, deep fruit notes with spice, slightly oxidised notes, some perfume.
Palate: good concentration, apple, grapefruit, spice, some nuts, strong mineral notes, high acidity, fresh and long aftertaste with some green apple.
Summary: wonderfully developed, 94 p.
Here, we rather quickly homed in on Selosse in our guesses, with Substance as our main guess. Interesting enough, this one year younger version was darker in colour than the other one.
Selosse Substance, disgorged 2007
Champagne, 100% Chardonnay, base wine from solera
Appearance: gold with amber hue
Nose: winter apples, nuts, oranges, oxidation notes, clearly developed, some perfume.
Palate: yellow winter apples, spice, quite good acidity, long aftertaste.
Summary: wonderful development, but more slender than the previous wine, 92 p.
Initially, this wine was similar the previous one, but it diverged as it sat in the glass. It showed less oak in the nose and was more slender on the palate. We guessed Selosse here as well, but I guessed that it perhaps could be an Initial with some age (perhaps 10 years?), which had given it notes of oxidation. One reason for that was the Selosse tasting in December 2012, where the five years old wines were surprisingly Substance-like. Interesting enough, it must have been the same batch of Substance then as in this tasting so perhaps that impression was created by a slightly less full-bodied batch of Substance?
I’m surprised how different the two disgorgements of Selosse Substance was, considering that they only differed by one year. Some difference in developed could be caused by storage conditions, but here there seemed to be a considerable difference in the base wine, since the “2007” was more slender. When a solera is used, where vintages are mixed and not too much of the contents are withdrawn each year, I wouldn’t expect too much difference from one year to the next. If I speculate, perhaps the weak vintage 2001 could be the most recent in the “2007” and the excellent vintage 2002 the most recent in the “2008”? This could fit if the bottles rest some 5 years on the lees after the second fermentation, which sounds quite possible.
Krug Grande Cuvée, the old label (gold with red), disgorged 2002
Champagne, Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier. Cork code A221, so disgorged March/April 2002, base vintage should be approx. 1995.
Appearance: light golden colour
Nose: clearly toasted notes of hazelnuts, smoky with notes of gunsmoke, cocoa powder, under the smoke some yellow fruit; an impressive nose.
Palate: quite concentrated, yellow apple, citrus, enormous minerality and sets of a “mineral attack”, quite high acidity, fresh aftertaste..
Summary: an impressive wine with a quite developed nose and a relatively young palate, can take more cellaring. 94 p.
This was my contribution, but although modesty may dictate otherwise, I still think this may be the best Grand Cuvée of this label design that I have tasted, at least in a regular 75 cl bottle. To me, it was rather of “regular” Krug Vintage standard, just as Grande Cuvée with some age should be when it is good. A friend had praised this batch earlier, after having been disappointed by some younger Grande Cuvée, so it was nice that felt the same.
Whites – all turned out to be from Burgundy
Raveneau Chablis Premier Cru Forêt 2004
Appearance: light yellow
Nose: citrus, discrete perfume notes, mineral, spice. Changed rather much as it sat in the glass. Initially there were some candy aromas (in a positive sense) and after a while some smoke notes emerged.
Palate: dry, citrus and in particular grapefruit, yellow apple, some candy notes, rather good acidity, some spice, mineral, long and fresh aftertaste. Also the palate changed after a while, and it then tasted more oily and spicy, and showed more mineral.
Summary: 91 p
I didn’t think at all about Chablis here, partly because the acidity was too low for such a guess. Instead I guessed white Bordeaux or possibly a white Rhône wine. Someone else did however guess Chablis, as I remember it. The 2004 vintage is very variable in style and quality in Chablis, but surely it is supposed to be a high acid vintage? Knowing this is a Chablis, there is a lot of “grand cru feeling” to it due to its weight.
Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Premier Cru La Forest 2011
Appearance: light yellow
Nose: slightly herbal and green note, citrus, a hint of yellow fruit, rather fruity
Palate: very dry, powerful and stony mineral notes, rather high acidity, minerally aftertaste with grapefruit.
Summary: the green notes disturb me slightly, 89 p
Due to the green notes, I didn’t guess Chablis here either, but rather Pouilly-Fumé or possibly Sancerre (i.e., Sauvignon Blanc with good minerality) that had some years of age that had toned down the more explosive Sauvignon notes.
Also here, I find the style surprising for the vintage. Perhaps it could improve with cellaring, but it is weaker than many other premier cru 2011s that I tasted during my Chablis visit a few weeks after this tasting, which is surprising for such a highly regarded producer. Although 2011 is a bit variable in style, I haven’t found any green notes in the 2011s from other producers.
By the way, Forêt and La Forest is the same vineyard, but with different spelling and definite article added in the second case.
Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru La Romanée 2008
Appearance: light yellow
Nose: yellow apple, perfume, mineral, hints of oak that increase slightly with time in the glass, elegance.
Palate: dry, loads of mineral, citrus, some yellow fruit, high acidity. Firm and mineral-dominated style.
Summary: quite good, young, elegant, 93+ p.
Fabulously elegant, and not much doubt that this was a white Burgundy. The question was mostly form which village it originated, and I considered it clearly Puligny-styled, since it was so very mineral-dominated, but that turned out to be one village off the mark. I scored this wine the same as the following one, but if I absolutely have to choose which one I preferred, it is this one, although only by a whisker.
Lucien Le Moine Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Caillerets 2008
Appearance: light yellow
Nose: smoky, oak, yellow apple, some butter
Palate: dry, strong mineral notes, stony, spice, high acidity, some perfume, slightly oily, a long and stony aftertaste.
Summary: both minerally and spicy in style, young, 93+ p
Heavier and more spicy style than the Fontaine-Gagnard. Definitely a white Burgundy also here, and the minerality led me to guess Puiligny also here. Reminds me of a Bâtard-Montrachet, i.e., has the weight of a grand cru.
Château Bahans Haut-Brion 2005
Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux. Château Haut-Brion’s red second wine.
Nose: dark berries, some herbs, some barnyard notes, discretely aromatic, rather elegant
Palate: dark berries with quite dark notes, rather tough, spice, powerful tannins
Summary: young, 91+ p
Here I guessed Bordeaux and the left bank (but Médoc rather than Graves), and a rather young vintage, probably 2008. It is surprising that I second wine, usually produced to be a bit more accessible, still is so young at 8 years of age. This wine felt like it needed several more years. This makes me wonder how long the first wine of the 2005 vintage will require. At least one worry that won’t keep me awake at night, since I didn’t buy any premier cru classés in this expensive top vintage.
Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 2007
Nose: ripe dark berries, blackberries and blueberries, some liquorice and prunes, mint, aromatic
Palate: dark berries, plum, sweet fruit in the attack, supple tannins, just a hint of alcoholic fire.
Summary: 91 p
Here, my guess was a Bordeaux blend from Tuscany, but when I now retype my own tasting note it definitely looks just like I’ve described a Shiraz from the New World. My excuse was that this was wine number eleven.
Mas de Boislauzon Quet 2010
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvèdre
Nose: dark berries, blackcurrants and blueberries, tar, some smoke, mineral with stone dust, tougher in the nose than the two previous wines
Palate: dry (compared to Magill Estate) but with some sweet berries, quite concentrated, dark berries, tar, powerful tannins, some alcoholic feeling the aftertaste.
Summary: slightly alcohilic, but impressive concentration, 92 p?
Definitely an impressive wine, but on my palate it is nowhere near the 100 Parker points it has been scored by Parker himself. (It initially sold rather cheaply for a RP 100 wine, though.) This wine had been brought by someone who expected that it shouldn’t live up to that score, and I actually think I enjoyed it more than he did, although I had expected a slightly more fresh character in a 2010, since this Rhône vintage often shows good acidity.
Also the 2007 Quet 2007 was scored 100 by Parker, and that wine had shown up in a wine club tasting of 2007 Châteauneufs just a few weeks earlier. I didn’t write anything for the blog about that tasting, because I noticed that my sensory organs weren’t in top shape that evening and therefore I didn’t think it wise to document my detailed notes or scores for a www audience. I will however mention that my unpublished score for the 2007 Quet was lower than for the 2010 Quet above, and it ended up somewhere in the middle in our best-worst vote after we had tasted the wines blind. To me, the more classical Châteauneuf-du-Papes, such as Vieux Télégraphe and Beaucastel, preferably with some age, usually comes across as better than those special cuvées that receive very high Parker scores. I might add that this is not a universal phenomenon, in many regions (including northern Rhône) I tend to agree more with Parker than I do in southern Rhône.
Taylor’s Vintage Port 1985
Appearance: medium red, brick-coloured at the edge
Nose: dried red berries, tar, some perfume, a hint of mineral
Palate: sweet dried berries, good concentration of fruit, spice, softened tannins, slightly alcoholic.
Summary: rather typical for a mature Vintage Port, nice development, 92 p
This was also my contribution, because I think it is nice to finish with something sweeter.
A pleasant evening that made us all look forward to the next time! Thanks to L. for allowing us to invade your home!
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.