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WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Otto » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:37 am

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On Saturday I had to go to Restaurant Carelia to eat some entrecôte and drink some 1980s Bordeaux. Life can be so hard at times. I have to say that the piece of fat with a bit of meat sticking to it was outstanding - I have rarely had a bad meal at Carelia. The wines weren't bad either.

2005 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang - France, Loire Valley, Upper Loire, Pouilly-Fumé
Pale gold. Nice grassy nose; tart in a pleasant way, pretty good acidity to counter the richness. This bottle seemed like more age would only have done it good.

2007 Doyard Champagne Collection de l’An I Oeil de Perdrix Brut - France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne
Pale pink. A really rather attractive nose: bread and flowers. Nicely balanced palate, but surprisingly ready to drink for such a young Champagne. Nice!

1982 Château Léoville Poyferré - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
From magnum. A really attractive scent: ripe and obviously warm year, but in no way over the top. It has all your typical Bordeaux aromatics and though is starting to show some mature elements, it still IMO could use a bit more age (I guess I like my claret more dead than alive). Rich, sweet fruit and enough structure to keep it moreish. A very nice wine. Drink and hold.

1985 Château Troplong Mondot - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
From magnum. This started out as the weaker wine when compared to Léoville Poyferré '82 and Haut-Bailly '89, but it just seemed to need a bit of time (and entrecôte) to shine. It had a lovely freshness and lift to the aroma and was in a pleasant state of maturity. A bit lighter than the two other wines and without the intensity of fruit the other two had, but it was fresh and refreshing and was very nice.

1989 Château Haut-Bailly - France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
From magnum. Very sweet, primary, dark fruit - but really lovely fruit it was, too: wet earth and blackcurrant leaves and such goodies. Rich, sweet, warm year style but with lovely tannins. Still seems a bit primary for my tastes, so though it was great fun to drink a couple glasses, I'd still say hold.

2010 Rousset-Peyraguey Cuvée Ducasse - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
12,5% abv. This was so lovely! I was told that this sees plenty of new oak, but apparently in the occasional wine it doesn't matter: this was exquisitely pure and elegant instead of oaky to my tastes. It has something like 200 g/l RS yet, unlike so many Sauternes, this had lovely levels of acidity so it was a refreshing sweet wine instead of a cloying one. Lovely.


And after the dinner we opened up several blind bottles:

2005 Tre Monti Thea Riserva Superiore - Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Sangiovese di Romagna
Five years since my previous taste, and it still smells like banana and oak. Sweet and rich and still not to my taste.

2001 Marie-Claude Lafoy et Vincent Gasse Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Sophia - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
12% abv. A producer I had never heard of, but when served blind my initial reaction was that this must be N. Rhône Syrah and from some producer who makes Texier-styled wines. In few non-Texier Syrahs have I smelled such exquisite purity and grace and tasted such lightness yet intensity. This is stunningly pretty wine.

2006 Vinarija Dingač Plavac Mali - Croatia, Dalmatian Coast, Pelješac, Dingač
14,4% abv. Served blind. A very Syrah-like aroma with slight wildness/animal quality to it, too. Sweeter than expected from such a N. Rhôneish aroma, but with lovely tannins and pretty decent acidity, too. The high alcohol is well hidden. A wine full of personality and if this is what Plavac mali can be like, I certainly want to try more. Lovely.

2003 Gigi Rosso Barbaresco Vigneto Viglino - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
Not raisiny or overly sweet, but certainly shows some detrimental effects of such a hot vintage. Still quite tannic and still shows some primary fruit so though this is a cheap Barbaresco, it would ideally see more time in the cellar.

2004 Van Volxem Kanzemer Altenberg Riesling Alte Reben - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
11,5% abv. An obvious Riesling aroma; dryish, fat, diffuse and lacking the precision and bite I hope for in MSRs. It's not unpleasant, but if this is what van Volxem usually does (it's the only one I've ever had) then it is over-hyped for my tastes.

2005 Schmitges Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
12,5% abv. Perfectly nice for a dry Mosel (not a style I usually care for). Nice, obvious Riesling aromas, rich and ripe enough that it doesn't seem harsh. But as always with dry MSRs I can't help feeling it would have been even better if it had been properly sweet.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:39 am

Thanks for the interesting notes Otto.

I think you hit the Van Volxem nail on the head - overhyped.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Rahsaan » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:32 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:2001 Marie-Claude Lafoy et Vincent Gasse Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Sophia - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
12% abv. A producer I had never heard of, but when served blind my initial reaction was that this must be N. Rhône Syrah and from some producer who makes Texier-styled wines..


Given the historical timeline, I think the comparison should be phrased the other way around.

Regardless, they are in a similar boat and funny you should mention it now, as there is currently a thread elsewhere making the same comparison.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Otto » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:57 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:2001 Marie-Claude Lafoy et Vincent Gasse Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Sophia - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie
12% abv. A producer I had never heard of, but when served blind my initial reaction was that this must be N. Rhône Syrah and from some producer who makes Texier-styled wines..


Given the historical timeline, I think the comparison should be phrased the other way around.

Regardless, they are in a similar boat and funny you should mention it now, as there is currently a thread elsewhere making the same comparison.


Yes, of course, but it's easy to say that with hindsight and knowledge of what is actually in the glass. Before it being revealed, I was thinking of a youngish Texier.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Eric Texier » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:57 pm

Hi Otto,

Glad you liked the Gasse Lafoy. The estate is now run by Stephane Otéguy, who does a great job but more "nature" oriented (some carbonic, no sulfur) than traditional old school like the one you had.

Cheers

Eric
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:51 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Thanks for the interesting notes Otto.

I think you hit the Van Volxem nail on the head - overhyped.


David: Van Volxem's 2011s impressed at the recent VDP tasting in Trier. I'd like to retaste some of the wines, though. Nonetheless, Roman's estate has produced some very good to excellent wines. Of course, there's been a lot of hype, but that shouldn't take away from the quality of the wines. In addition, the style has changed a little in recent years. Some of the Rieslings taste lighter now.

Eric: I know that it's just a typo, but you mean Stéphane Otheguy of Domaine Gasse Otheguy. I've really liked the low-alcohol, standard 2004 Côte Rôtie from Clusel-Roch, and I'm a fan of Gonon St. Joseph. By the way, I loved your 2006 Brézème that I drank several times on trips to Paris back in 2008.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Otto » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:32 pm

Thanks Eric and Lars! I thought I'd been following these fora for quite some time so I'm still amazed that such a producer Lafoy Gasse had gone past me.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Andrew Bair » Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:19 pm

Hi Otto -

Thank you for the very interesting notes. I'm not that familiar with van Volxem's wines, having only had one before (they are not currently distributed in my state). That said, I did enjoy the one that I drank last year (09 Wawerner Goldberg) - maybe I was fortunate with that one bottle, but it certainly lived up to the hype in that particular case. Schmitges is another producer that I haven't been able to try yet.
That Plavac Mali sounds very nice, and I've been hesitant to try anything from that variety out of fear that the alcohol would be blatant.

Lars - I'm hoping that you will have a chance to profile van Volxem on your site one of these days? Interesting to hear that there has been a stylistic change there - I'd be interested to hear if Roman Niewodniczanski has changed his philosophy somewhat.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:07 am

Andrew Bair wrote:Hi Otto -

Thank you for the very interesting notes. I'm not that familiar with van Volxem's wines, having only had one before (they are not currently distributed in my state). That said, I did enjoy the one that I drank last year (09 Wawerner Goldberg) - maybe I was fortunate with that one bottle, but it certainly lived up to the hype in that particular case. Schmitges is another producer that I haven't been able to try yet.
That Plavac Mali sounds very nice, and I've been hesitant to try anything from that variety out of fear that the alcohol would be blatant.

Lars - I'm hoping that you will have a chance to profile van Volxem on your site one of these days? Interesting to hear that there has been a stylistic change there - I'd be interested to hear if Roman Niewodniczanski has changed his philosophy somewhat.


Andrew, I hope to write a profile of Van Volxem too. A long time ago, I worked for a month in their vineyards. Roman has been making changes over the years. He purchased, remodeled, and replanted a large part of the Wawerner hillside. Goldberg is a top site, which, like Ayler Kupp, is in a side valley of the Saar River.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by David M. Bueker » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:04 pm

Lars,

I've had Van Volxem wines from 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. The style just does not do it for me. I stopped trying.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:28 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Lars,

I've had Van Volxem wines from 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. The style just does not do it for me. I stopped trying.


David: Understood. You're not alone. It's a matter of taste. St. Urbans-Hof, however, is also marked by sponti aromas and has a number of opulent feinherb wines. In fact, Roman and Nik were roommates. The style at Van Volxem, however, has been changing a little since the 2008 vintage. They're more filigree. Roman and his cellar master, Dominik Volk, who took over with the 2004 vintage, are seeking more finesse. I need to retaste them.
Last edited by Lars Carlberg on Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by David M. Bueker » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:09 pm

Not many St. Urbans-Hof Feinherbs make it to the USA. I have owned exactly two bottles - ever.

There certainly are sponti aromas in the wines, but that's not the only element in them. My biggest attraction to Urbans-Hof is the Laurentiuslay, as I very much like the particular expression of that site, more so than I do say the Goldtropfchen, which has always been a bit too much for my taste. I like Nik's Saar wines as well, though again, not as much as the Laurentiuslay bottlings.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:47 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Not many St. Urbans-Hof Feinherbs make it to the USA. I have owned exactly two bottles - ever.

There certainly are sponti aromas in the wines, but that's not the only element in them. My biggest attraction to Urbans-Hof is the Laurentiuslay, as I very much like the particular expression of that site, more so than I do say the Goldtropfchen, which has always been a bit too much for my taste. I like Nik's Saar wines as well, though again, not as much as the Laurentiuslay bottlings.


St. Urbans-Hof, of course, has more than sponti aromas. My point is only that Nik and Roman share similar ideas about the style of their wines. Nik even makes several dry Rieslings, including GG. Laurentiuslay is a very good and underrated site, much like the adjacent Klüsserather Brüderschaft and other vineyards in this part of the Middle Mosel. St. Urbans-Hof also has Saarfeilser, where Peter Lauer and Loch/Weinhof Herrenberg have vines.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by David M. Bueker » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:17 am

Thankfully Nik and Roman do not share similar thoughts on pricing (or at least their importers do not).
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:03 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Thankfully Nik and Roman do not share similar thoughts on pricing (or at least their importers do not).


Both have relatively high-end pricing in Germany. I've never compared their US importers' prices. The problem is that most producers in the Mosel region charge too little for the expense of making the wines from steep slope vineyards.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by David M. Bueker » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:05 am

If their pricing in German is the same then there is something rotten in the distribution chain.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Bill Spohn » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:16 pm

Nice to see a tasting of mature Bordeaux.

I am a big fan of traditionally made clarets, but not as much a fan at all of the modernized versions, pumped up to mature early and to receive big critic's points when they go into the bottle.

I went to a friend's birthday party on the weekend and had someone raving about a 2009 cru bourgeois he had just picked up for around $50 (I forget which one). Decent forward wine that might last 5 years and could improve slightly as the already soft tannins age, but it will never get in the way of the conversation. He asked me what I thought of it and I told him that it was this sort of wine that had prompted me to resign membership in the Commanderie de Bordeaux, as it was more and more the sort of wine they were having to drink once they had run through their stash of old vintages.

He asked me why I didn't like it. I said that I did, it was just that it would never be anything but simple and pleasant, and I was used to so much more. When he asked what I meant, I pulled out a bottle I had previously decanted at home and gave him (and the birthday boy) a taste, blind. I said that his wine would never be anything like that and would probably be dead, or at least bland and uninteresting by the time it reached half the age of the wine I had poured them.

It was another cru bourgeois, Ch. Meyney, from a vintage 23 years earlier than his, 1986. It was just lovely. They didn't have much to say after that about the 'wonderful 2009s'.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Otto » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:04 pm

What are sponti aromas?

Bill, oddly enough I opened a 2001 Bordeaux that, while young, reminds me that there are a few producers that haven't gone over to the dark side. Vieux Pourret is the one I'm drinking. And it's lovely. Amazingly so. I haven't tasted anything more recent than 2005 from Vieux Pourret but at least up to that year they made old style Claret.

Perhaps it is time to list the producers that haven't gone over to the dark side? Does anyone have ideas who in the past couple years is still making old style Claret?
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Salil » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:20 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:What are sponti aromas?

That combination of slight funk and florality I find from German Riesling producers who use spontaneous yeast ferments. (Prum, Schafer-Frohlich, Schloss Lieser, among others in addition to those discussed.)

Perhaps it is time to list the producers that haven't gone over to the dark side? Does anyone have ideas who in the past couple years is still making old style Claret?

Canon
Beychevelle
LMHB
Calon Segur
Cantemerle
Trotanoy (affordability is another matter, unfortunately)
Sociando Mallet
Figeac
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Dale Williams » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:28 pm

Salil wrote:
Perhaps it is time to list the producers that haven't gone over to the dark side? Does anyone have ideas who in the past couple years is still making old style Claret?

Canon
Beychevelle
LMHB
Calon Segur
Cantemerle
Trotanoy (affordability is another matter, unfortunately)
Sociando Mallet
Figeac


Pretty good list based on my tastings, but my problem is my tastings are all of vintages 2006 and older. And things change (I heard 2010 LMHB was 15%)
But here's my list, mostly based on tasting wines from vintages 2000-2006 (I think anything older doesn't really give any evidence, as so many adjusted in 90s), with a few moves based merely on what I've heard:

Traditionals (though none of these would be totally "old style")
Vieux Chateau Certan
L'Evangile
Lafleur
Figeac
Trotanoy
Haut-Bailly
Magdelaine (now integrated into Belair-Monage)
Belair Monage
Latour
Lafite-Rothschild
Cantemerle
Beaumont (Haut Medoc)

Somewhat tradtional
Lagrange (St J)
Certan de May
Leoville-Barton
Lanessan
La Louviere?
GPL
Talbot
LMHB
Palmer
Haut-Brion
L'Arrossee
Cheval Blanc
La Conseillante

Moderate moderns
Mouton-Rothschild
Angelus
Gazin
Pavie-Maquin
du Tertre
Ducru
Cos d'Estournel
LLC
Calon-Segur
Lynch-Bages
Pichon-Baron
Pontet-Canet
Gloria
Hosanna
Bourgneuf

Moderns
Leoville-Poyferre
Pavie
Pavie-Decesse
Monbousquet
Smith-Haut-Lafitte
Giscours
Troplong Mondot
Bon Pasteur
La Confession
Nenin
Roc de Cambes
Last edited by Dale Williams on Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:15 pm

Salil wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:What are sponti aromas?

That combination of slight funk and florality I find from German Riesling producers who use spontaneous yeast ferments. (Prum, Schafer-Frohlich, Schloss Lieser, among others in addition to those discussed.)

Perhaps it is time to list the producers that haven't gone over to the dark side? Does anyone have ideas who in the past couple years is still making old style Claret?

Canon
Beychevelle
LMHB
Calon Segur
Cantemerle
Trotanoy (affordability is another matter, unfortunately)
Sociando Mallet
Figeac


As Salil points out, sponti aromas can have a "slight funk." Besides a little bit of a stinky aroma, I often get smoky notes. Yet not all spontaneously fermented Mosel Rieslings stink. Likewise, a wine fermented in a reductive style with a cultured yeast can have funk. In the past, J.J. Prüm often had what was described as a special Prüm note. Several factors played a role here. Maximin Grünhaus often has a sponti smell. Schloss Lieser has classic sponti aromas, but does add for some of its dry Rieslings, like Stein and many other top producers, pure culture yeast. Schäfer-Fröhlich can be sponti, as well. Günther Steinmetz is another producer with sponti aromas, but less noticeable than in past vintages. Some winemakers, like Helmut Dönnhoff, find this to be a wine fault. It depends on the producer.

I stopped buying claret a long time ago, but I always liked Sociando-Mallet, Calon-Ségur, Poujeaux, Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Bailly, and Monbrison, among others. Cantemerle still seems classic. I liked older Haut-Marbuzet too, despite the oak. Figeac always interested me for its high percentage of Cabernet Franc and stony soil near Cheval Blanc, but I never tasted these except at auction or tasting events. Montrose use to be tops. Nonetheless, I drink bottles at a friend's place every now and then.
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Re: WTN: '80s Bordeaux and blinds

by Lars Carlberg » Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:33 pm

On my site, I've an article with some excellent comments from readers that tries to explain the Mosel sponti stink.

As for pricing on St. Urbans-Hof, I'm pretty sure that Nik Weis has some flat vineyards on the Saar and Mosel, which enables him to produce at lower costs. Otherwise, it'd be nearly impossible to charge under $15 retail for a wine that is produced from a steep slope site and goes via the three-tier system.

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