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Jim Jones in Tokyo

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TN: Sunday Afternoon with Friends (Champ, Graves Bl, Condrieu, Kracher Red)

by Jim Jones in Tokyo » Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:50 am

A SUNDAY BARBECUE WITH FRIENDS - Tokyo (8/13/2006)

We gathered with old friends/neighbors at their house to welcome some new neighbors. Bryan and Amy grilled and provided a spread of salads and sides. Wines were random, several of them being things I pulled because I'd been itching to try them.
  • 1998 Le Brun Servenay Special Club - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    Nice medium size and volume mousse. A bright and expressive nose of ripe clean pear and apple, plus a hint of yeastiness. Drunk pretty quickly by the group, so the nose never had a chance to develop much. Still young and needing time to show complexity there. On the palate, this was bright and incisive with great definition. Good acid balance, just enough roundness and apparent sweetness to be lovely alone as an aperitif. Terry Theise always refers to a pencil lead character in Avize Champagnes. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten it so clearly, as it leapt out on the finish. Superb balance of roundess/size with freshness and cut. At this age, all about texture and balance (and that burst of Avize signature), it is convincing me that I need to be buying ‘98s in general. My first encounter with the grower, it will lead me to buy more.
  • 2001 La Fleur Jonquet, Château Blanc - France, Bordeaux, Graves
    Pale yellow straw with a few remaining hints of green. Clean nose of light grass and grapefruit, refreshing. The kind of nose that leads one to expect spritz that isn’t there. On the palate simple and clean with more grapefruit and a little bit of melon. Decent acid, lacking a bit of concentration but nicely fresh for a simple summer quaff. Second time I’ve had this, I’d consider buying at the right price. Alas, they don’t want the right price here in Tokyo. A decent value at the $8 to $10 that wine-searcher indicates in the US.
  • 2004 Bonnefond Condrieu Côte Chatillon - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Condrieu
    Clear and pretty in the glass with a typically bursting perfume of orange flower, sweet peach, and honey. Palate followed with lightly sweetish lemon on apple, more flowers and peach, hints of more tropical fruit, and a bit of unexpected mineral. The profile was just what one would expect, but it was perhaps a bit dilute. Finish showed yet more of the floral character. Reminds me that, while I enjoy one occasionally, viognier is really not my favorite grape. Not a bad example by any means and a good buy for fans of the appellation at around $30.00. Clean and uncluttered by excessive oak or sweetness. I guess my biggest complaint is that I can’t ever figure out how to drink these. Perhaps I should just close my eyes and enjoy. Would have done best as the first wine of the afternoon.
  • 1999 Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher Blaufränkisch Blend 1 - Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
    Deep and rich red in the glass. I had been told this was already drinking well, but still had a lot of time left to evolve. Appearance would indicate this was true. Nose has an interesting earthy spiciness, along with a heavy (but not obscuring) dose of oaky vanilla sweetness. Palate has a neat textural duality – somehow this seems both rough (tannin and tactile earth) and smooth (fruit roundness and a bit of silky oak) at the same time. Rich and sweet dark fruit combined with chocolate and earthy spice (especially on the finish). My first experience with the wine and with the grapes. This style is a real departure for me, but it was just the trick with barbecued ribs. I’m not quite sure how to describe it – perhaps a combination of an Arnoux-styled and accented Burg with a ripe vintage Southern Rhone. Interesting…doesn’t fit with what I normally eat and drink, but has earned a place in the “wines with rustic grilling” lineup. For those who want to accuse me of being one-dimensional (i.e., exclusively acid-headed), please file and refer to this note on a thoroughly modern wine I liked.


As noted above, I'd have done better to have the Condrieu first, without food. I always have a hard time pairing them with food. While I don't drink a lot of Condrieu, I do love Côte-Rôtie. Does anyone have views on the Bonnefond C-R? The prices seem to be very reasonable and the style on the Condrieu was very clean and precise. If the C-R is similar, I need to get some.

The Kracher was extremely atypical of what I normally drink and like, but this was a very well made modern wine that went well with the food. I'd buy more for similar circumstances, but can't see drinking it with lighter or more detailed fare.

Standout was the Champagne. I need more '98s and I need more Le Brun Servenay!

And the new neighbors are great -- and have kids near my daughter's age, which is always a bonus.

Thanks Bryan and Amy.

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Jim Jones
Tokyo, Japan

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