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WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

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WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:48 pm

Drank the Cantemerle last night. Had it in a decanter for several hours, during which time it hardly budged. Surprising bitter nose of raw artichoke, bitter melon and red fruit. It's like someone was trying to make a wine version of Campari. So weird: for all I've read about 03, I did not expect my first whiff of a wine from this vintage to have the severe nature of underripe cab franc. With time some merlotish cherry-violet sweetness appeared on the nose too, but at no time from the first drop to the last over six hours' time did I find any cabernet sauvignon character (this wine is 40/40 CS and merlot, and the remainder is mostly CF).

Otto spoke of the bitterness I refer to, and observed that it might not endear itself to some people. Well, I'm one: I often like herbaceousness but this wine's bitterness is different from that, and this wine doesn't seem to have enough fruit to carry it, and that's said knowing that Cantemerle is a restrained, acid-driven style wine. It's just that I judge all Cantemerles by the first vintage I came to know well, the 99, and I've drunk them and the 00's young and never encountered the bitter streak I found in this 03.

Not a fan.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Otto » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:35 pm

What a shame you didn't like it. I had a blind taste of it just a couple days back and my note is still valid: bitter, but true Bordeaux in its aromas. I guess I can handle bitterness well, because this time around, I didn't feel it was at all controversial though it was there! :oops:
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Sun Dec 17, 2006 6:18 pm

Were it not for the strange bitterness, I'd have liked the wine for I truly appreciate Cantemerle's usual austerity. Mind you, it was refreshing enough to finish the bottle, and it went well enough with our dinner of grilled steak and marinated tomato slices (to which I added tarragon to make the bitter note less glaring), but I kept hoping for the bitterness to fade and it didn't. Entirely drinkable. But is it what I want from Cantemerle like 99 and 00 (of which I like 99 the best)? No.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:59 pm

Jenise wrote:Drank the Cantemerle last night. Had it in a decanter for several hours, during which time it hardly budged.


Obviously you tasted it fresh out of the bottle, before leaving it in the decanter for a while. Did you get the chameleon act like I did: first acting like a fine left bank Bordeaux before suddenly turning red and nasty?

The more I drink the 2003s, the less I like them. First Bordeaux vintage I can say that about. I even sprung for a case of a 2003 cru bourgeois, because it won a gold seal at some tasting, just to find out I made a mistake. I'm giving them out for Christmas presents. I did like the last 2003 bottle of Lynch Moussas I drank, however. I er have a case of those, too. Maybe I won't try another bottle unitl I reach my mid 70s, when I can't taste so good.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:25 pm

Covert, to be honest I'm not sure when I decided I didn't like it. I know my thinking goes, "Is it drinkable now?" If the answer's no and likely to stay no for the next 30 minutes, I just move on to something else. And that's what I did the other night. I don't recall objecting to it as much earlier as later, though, so perhaps I followed the sequence you did. All I know is that it would have been great without that bitter streak, but as it is the bitterness is a deal breaker. Do you have any 99's?
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:03 am

Jenise wrote: Do you have any 99's?


I thought I turned you on to the '99s. I've been through a case working on a second. It's a mainstay for us when we can't decide what else to drink. Liked it from the start. At first it was very earthy, which alone can carry a wine for me, but it has lately been evolving away from the predominance into an interesting complexity.

The '98 Cantemerle was discounted by some critics as simple, but I really liked the last one I opened. I need to drink another bottle to get a better sense of it. I bought a case after sampling one of the three bottles I bought to test.

Re the '03, again, if you bought more than one bottle, you should try to get into the wine during the first ten or fifteen minutes after opening it. You can use the rest for cooking, or cough syrup. At first, for me, it had a wonderfully deep, dark nose and a very long, top-growth-like finish. But it quickly deteriorated into something totally different - something like a cheap Pinot Noir. I look forward to trying it again in a year or so; After all, I might be like Parker dissing a perfectly good wine because I don't have the genetic infrastructure to appreciate it as it was intended.

Case in point, you might have seen my post about the '99 Les Ormes de Pez. Like the '98 Cantemerle, it received faint-praise press. A real positive surprise for Lynn and me. I say it over and over because it becomes more and more evident to me that different folks have radically different taste/smell receptors. Even great tasters like Mr. P seem to miss some gems for lack of specific receptors. It's really sad that their failings can drive a wine into penury. Good for me, sometimes, I suppose; but I don't really take pleasure in getting something fine on the cheap. What good is discretionary money if not for sacrifices of appreciation? And I feel sorry for the producers.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by David M. Bueker » Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:38 am

I had both the '99 and the '00 a while back and enjoyed both of them. Since then I have tried the '01, '02 and '03 (1 bottle each) and they are nothing like the first two. I don't know what changed, but that bitterness you describe is not unlike the green astringency I found in the wine.

Not promising.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:34 pm

Covert, I'd give credit for me finding the 99 Cantemerles equally to you and Walt, for it was both of you going on about it that convinced me to not just find a bottle, but order a whole case--I was that convinced. And it was that level of quality I was reccomending to Otto. And yes, I agree the 03 was promising in all the ways you say--note I said that I could tell that under that bitter streak was a very good wine. It's just the bitterness I found so disagreeable. Your comments about taste receptors are very apropos--there is probably no flavor that divides people into love or hate camps better than bitterness. Think grapefruit and quinine. Lots of people hate grapefruit. Lots of people love quinine--all those gin and tonic drinkers can't be wrong. Me? I love grapefruit and hate quinine. Quinine wouldn't have been a bad descriptor for the bitter streak in the Cantemerle, by the way.

David, your comments add great perspective. Sounds like something changed in 2001.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:39 pm

Jenise wrote:It's just the bitterness I found so disagreeable....Sounds like something changed in 2001.


I don't mind the bitterness; that's probably why I don't mind the herbaceous '97s, even like them. I object to too much red fruit in Bordeaux.

So, maybe I would like the 2001s okay. For some reason, I don't think I have any. Can't check right now, but if I don't, I will buy two or three bottles (not cases) to test.

It's not related, exactly; just important to me: my two bottles of 1978 and 1979 Talbot just arrived!
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:44 pm

Well, herbaceousness is one thing, and outright bitter is another. Herbaceous I don't consider a fault unless that's ALL there is. Like my illustration involving the grapefruit and quinine, a line that up to there is desirable and past there is nasty. The 03 Cantemerle isn't downright nasty, but it's unpleasant especially where I'm looking for something more similar to the 99 and 00.

Btw, I just decanted a 99 to go with a dirty mushroom rice and lamb chops. All this talk of it in comparison to the 03 made me thirsty for some confirmation. Well, I just tasted it: all is right with the world. Best bottle yet.

You mean, you don't have the 01 Cantemerle, not that you've not bought any 01 Bordeauxs, right? Btw, I'm up to 22 now.

Oh, and since we're veering off topic, I bought an 03 du Tertre to taste yesterday. Somehow I have the feeling that to the extent this vintage is going to appeal to me, it's going to be in earthy wines like du Tertre.

Congrats on the Talbots. Can't wait to hear about them. I just picked up an 86. Anniversary year, so cost etc doesn't count: simply must have them!
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Thu Dec 21, 2006 8:15 am

Jenise wrote:Well, herbaceousness is one thing, and outright bitter is another...You mean, you don't have the 01 Cantemerle, not that you've not bought any 01 Bordeauxs, right?...bought an 03 du Tertre to taste yesterday. Somehow I have the feeling that to the extent this vintage is going to appeal to me, it's going to be in earthy wines like du Tertre...I just picked up an 86 (Talbot)...


I hear you re the outright bitter pill.

Checked, and I do have 2001 Cantemerle. Put it on the back burner of my mind because Parker said it needed bottle time. I do use him for that advice; and I usually trust Cantemerle, so I don't seek early analysis. But in this case, maybe I'll open one for science.

Please let me know re the du Tertre. It will be interesting if you find an '03 or two that you like. Haven't tried an '03 Margaux, yet.

I'll also be ineterested in your impression of the '86 T, of course. And I can't wait until my pair of oldies settle down from traveling. Should probably let them rest at least a month, as hard as that will be.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:59 am

Covert wrote:
Jenise wrote:I object to too much red fruit in Bordeaux.


True story, I was driving through hideous traffic in downtown Vancouver yesterday on my way to consume scallops and Mumms with my friend Henry, and thinking back on this thread. And I read the above line to myself, and went "WHAT?" Like, since when? You love certain Bdx's that are nothing BUT red fruit: D'Armailhac and Lannessan, just to name a few. Defend this statement, please.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by David M. Bueker » Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:00 pm

Red fruit??? Black fruit maybe (sign of over ripeness perhaps), but red fruit???

I straddle the middle ground. My favorite fruit component in red Bordeaux (indeed all red wine) is black cherry! The reddest black fruit there is.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:13 pm

Precisely, David. Was a time when I thought I really only liked black fruit. Then I came to know Bordeaux better, and that all changed. Indeed, nowadays I find myself especially seduced by red fruits, black cherry most of all, which I think of in an inverse way to your description: the blackest of red fruits.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Thu Dec 21, 2006 4:25 pm

Hey, here's something from Jancis on the subject of bitterness detection:

I was unexpectedly given a proper PROP test at the Institute of Masters of Wine Sixth Symposium held in Napa Valley last summer. The opening session was moderated by Tim Hanni, MW, a Californian musician and sometime employee of Beringer who has always been interested in questions of taste. It was he who first introduced many of us to the concept of umami, the fifth, monosodium glutamate-like taste we are now supposed to add to sweetness, sourness, saltiness and bitterness -- although I have to say that I very rarely find it in wine.
Presumably with the full agreement of Bartoshuk's Yale colleagues, Hanni gave out little strips of paper that had apparently been impregnated with PROP (no second-best ring-binder reinforcers for us professionals). The 250-odd of us in the room were to put these on our tongues and record whether we tasted almost unbearable bitterness, mild bitterness or nothing at all. This supposedly indicates whether we are supertasters ("hypertaster" would be a more accurate and less emotive term), normal tasters or hypo (low) tasters. And duly, about a quarter fell into each of the extreme categories with about a half experiencing mild bitterness and therefore classified as normal tasters.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Thu Dec 21, 2006 9:51 pm

Jenise wrote: Defend this statement, please.


God! I'm not sure I can. Of course you know first of all that the mind has an experience of something. There really isn't red or black or any actual fruit touching the mind; it is an interpretation that can come from electrical prods, psychosis and all sorts of stimuli besides fruit or wine.

Sometimes a Bordeaux reminds me of a cheap Pinot noir, and I think cherry. And I admit that, since I don't eat cherries, I probably blur the distinction between red and black cherries. What I am calling red cherry fruit at times might very well taste more like black cherry fruit to people who know cherries.

To me, that '03 Cantemerle tasted a lot more like cherries than either
D'Armailhac or Lanessan has. And the Lanessan vintage that I like a lot, '96, has a lot or earth in it, which, like you mentioned, can apparently mitigate the negative aspect of red fruit. I say this because I Haven't focused on cherry-type fruit in either of these wines (as I remember at this moment, anyway); however, I don't doubt the existence, if you say it is there. The next time I drink either one, I will think about this thread and maybe have a Waaaat??? reaction of some sort, myself. :)

I'm struggling because I am brain dead at this hour. Maybe I can think of a better answer in the morning.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:21 pm

Don't worry about the better answer. I was just trying to prod you into realizing that you speak of a prejudice that you don't actually practice. The D'Armailhac was pure red fruit, red cherry and raspberry. What you don't appear to like so much is cherry cough drop flavors and jammy light red fruits like strawberry and red currant. But you otherwise seem to like cherry and raspberry just fine.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:13 am

Jenise wrote: What you don't appear to like so much is cherry cough drop flavors and jammy light red fruits like strawberry and red currant. But you otherwise seem to like cherry and raspberry just fine.


I think I mentioned my impoverished childhood, health wise, deprived of almost all healthy nutrition, such as fruit. I ate mostly hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries. That's probably why everybody in my age bracket in my family, or older, sans moi, is dead. And that's probably why I don't think about fruit identification much when tasting wine. The comparators are lacking from my memory. (Lynn saved my life, and today I consume tons of fruits and vegetables; but I don't share the memory bank of folks who grew up with these flavors.)

And wine appreciation is not cut and dried, as you well know. It is so mercurial and organic. Why a person likes a particular wine is not that much different from any other aesthetic question, thus unanswerable. The fact is I found that I loved strawberry and raspberry flavors in Champagne. Actually paying attention to great Champagnes for the first time, for some reason, at this year's Equinox Champagne Reception opened my eyes to the great complexity, depth and pleasure of that magestic genre. But, I don't like these red fruits, to date, in red wine.

Speaking of aesthetics, I stopped at a frame shop last night trying to find picture lights for my camp - to illuminate rooms with ambience - and happened upon a good quality, full-sized print of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I have seen the image a thousand times, like everybody else; but I never saw the actual painting or a good likeness in print. It was breathtaking, and well worth however many millions the original would cost.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Jenise » Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:54 pm

But to date I don't like these red fruits in red wine.


Well, back we go to D'Armailhac. It's pure raspberry. But no matter, you don't think you relate to those flavors so you don't, and for the reasons you mentioned. It's something else about the wine you like, and that's entirely fair. :wink:

About The Girl--did you ever read the book or see the movie in which a back story about who/how the painting might have come about? Great invention, and also a very realistic look at the harsh realities of life in old Holland.
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Re: WTN: 2003 Cantemerle

by Covert » Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:33 am

Jenise wrote:
But to date I don't like these red fruits in red wine.


Well, back we go to D'Armailhac. It's pure raspberry. But no matter, you don't think you relate to those flavors so you don't, and for the reasons you mentioned. It's something else about the wine you like, and that's entirely fair.

About The Girl--did you ever read the book or see the movie in which a back story about who/how the painting might have come about? Great invention, and also a very realistic look at the harsh realities of life in old Holland.


Okay, now, I also drank a 2001 Cantemerle last night (had a half of a case). I'll bet that many people would say it showed red currants. It's not what I call red fruit. Chock-a-block nose showed subtle redwood, prune, herbs, chocolate and smoke along with what some people might call red fruit, which created a lovely combination of a magical "something else." It lacked a little in finish, but the soaring nose and elegant taste and texture qualified it as a very pleasurable wine for Lynn and me. Now I am anxious to get your reaction to this wine, with regard to redness and quality.

Lynn has the book and I saw the movie. I liked the mood of it very much. I feel really stupid that I can't remember for sure, but now I am thinking I might have seen the original at the Louvre. If I did, I didn't look at it intensely. Speaking of chock-a-block, the museum overloads me, as wonderful as it is. Now where did I see Seargent's White Girl? That one also captivated me. It's huge.

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