Here are some notes from wines drunk with the extended family over a week of vacation a little while back. They are mostly whites, and just about all of them were drunk over various seafood dinners. There were a whole bunch of other wines consumed, but I really just took notes on these ones.
N.V. Perrier-Jouët Champagne Grand Brut. This Champagne smells of chalk, flint, white peach and pear in a round and creamy sort of style. In the mouth, it is very frothy and foamy, with a pillowy mouthfeel and gently sweet pear and apple fruit flavors that make it soft and easy to drink. Don’t look for finesse or delineation here, but it’s friendly enough to enjoy a glass or two of with no problem.
N.V. J. Lassalle Champagne Brut 1er Cru. This is more serious all around but is still festive and delicious. Aromatically, it sports nicely-layered aromas of peaches, bruised apples, gentle smoke and graphite. In the mouth, it features more apple and pear fruit flavors riding on a really creamy mousse that flows easily to the fine finish. It’s fairly round and plush, with just enough acidity to keep it feeling zesty and finely-balanced.
N.V. H. Billiot Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve. This is a delightful bottle of Champagne, beginning with the appealing nose of chalk dust, toasted brioche, powdered lemon and toasted herbs. In the mouth, it is full of creamy flavors of apple, blueberry, old-fashioned ginger beer, lemon meringue, brown spices and something akin to white chocolate that are big and mouthfilling, yet airy and elegantly-styled.
N.V. Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial Rosé. This wine has a subtle, quiet bouquet of dried strawberries, raspberries and powdered minerals, but a more expressive palate that has a light framing but pretty flavors of light red berry fruit, chalk and mineral. I actually think it’s pretty food-friendly.
2010 Domaine de la Louvetrie (Landron & Fils) Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Le Fief du Breil. I find the nose of this wine to be very tight and almost painfully briny, with aromas of sea salt, oyster shells, limestone and sour citrus notes. In the mouth, it is extremely young and very, very drying—especially on the puckering finish. Although it is lighter-weighted, it seems very pushy and aggressively acidic. It is far from a wine of pleasure and at least in my book, needs significant time to unwind.
2010 Marisa Cuomo Costa d'Amalfi Furore. This wine, on the other hand, is really pleasant. It smells breezily of honeysuckle, verbena tea, pink grapefruit, blue slate, sea foam and a little nick of mica minerality. It tastes light, floral, citrusy and minerally, with beautiful tangy acidity and excellent tension that lead to a balanced and vibrant finishing flair. It is still a bit taut, but it is full of pretty flavors and shows nice intensity of character.
2010 Colle Dei Bardellini Pigato Riviera Ligure di Ponente La Torretta. There’s a fresh and herbal-scented nose to this wine, which also displays some light aromas of lemon-lime, crushed shells, white flowers and cantaloupe. It is fresh but smooth on the palate, where it shows flavors of cantaloupe, lemon and white peach to go with a bit of mineral undertones. It has good life, a pleasing mouthfeel and fun, light flavors that are nice.
2010 Damilano Langhe Arneis. This wine comes across as a bit crunchy and ungiving on the nose, with angular aromas of quinine, white pepper, blanched almonds, minerals and barely-ripe pear. It features flavors of almonds, smoked herbs, limestone and pear on the palate, which despite being rather tingly and ticklish with acidity is a bit more creamy-textured through the mid-palate than the nose might lead one to expect. The bitter qualities get to be a bit tough to take after a while, though, so one glass was enough for me.
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis. Here one finds an incredibly tight and narrowly-contained nose that hints at rather compacted aromatic notes of flint, smoke, herbs, lemon zest and green apple. In the mouth, it is a real palate-scrubber, ripping the enamel off of one’s teeth with its searing acidity and squeaky-clean flavors of lemon-lime and green apple. I guess it is “proper” in some ways, but there’s little pleasure to be had here for my tastes, at least not right now.
2011 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough. There’s definitely a lot of the classic aromas here of gooseberries, herbal tea, lemon and grapefruit that one often finds in New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, but I’m surprised at how well kept in check it all is with this wine, which I usually find to be more overt and in your face. Here, it is just nice and inviting. In the mouth, it is a bit more piquant, with the gooseberry qualities riding a bit higher and carrying along supporting flavors of lime zest, grapefruit and kiwi. It’s bright and fresh, but again not really overdone. I enjoyed this and found it to be a perfectly good pairing with the littleneck clams we were eating.
2009 François Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin. This seems to have opened up a fair amount since the last time I opened a bottle about 9 months earlier. This one presents a squeaky, waxen sort of bouquet that features aromas of lemon oil, herbal tea, grapefruit, pear and schist. On the palate, it’s not nearly so dry or tightly-wound as my last experience. Indeed, the palate shows solid heft of enveloping waxy citrus fruit riding atop vibrant acidity. This has solid body and depth of flavor, but really nice cut, as well. I think it should continue to develop nicely.
2009 Huët Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Haut-Lieu. A fantastic showing was put on by this wine, beginning with a delightful bouquet of apricot pit, peach flesh, white currants and blue slate. In the mouth, it has a lot of character to the profile of sweet peaches, nectarines, key lime pie and lemonball candy. The sticky, squeaky texture and outstanding acidic lift really help it all come together with the fish dish we paired it with. I need to own more of this.
2010 Roth Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. This wine has a sort of light and easy set of aromas, including some scents of orange blossom, soft spices and white peach. It is open-knit and seems to have a touch of residual sweetness on the palate, making it seem pretty obvious and banal. It is flowery and sort of pretty, but there’s not a whole lot of “there” there, and the wine just doesn’t seem “present”, if you know what I mean.
2010 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley. There’s a pretty big dose of oak, toasted bread and barrel spice aromas here to go along with some bits of chalk, peach, apple and citrus on a fairly large-framed bouquet. It is sort of similar on the palate. It isn’t a big buttery wine, but it is showing plenty of sweet oak and smoke tones to go with the sweet-toned apple and citrus fruit. It’s OK, but I just don’t find it all that interesting.
2006 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren Vineyard Sonoma Coast. This wine, on the other hand, is a real attention-grabber. It is intensely aromatic—with richly-layered scents of ripe pears, browned apples, tangerines, cedar chest, classy vanilla, baking spices and lemon sourball candies lifting out of the glass. It nearly explodes with flavor on the palate, too, showing tons of spices, cream, oak and vanilla notes atop a beautiful core of apple and pear fruit. It is really overt, expansive and layered all the way through and ends with a very long, spice-tinged tail showing great length and persistence. It is luscious now, but there’s little doubt in my mind that it’s still a few years away from peak.
2010 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Elatis Vino da Tavola Rosato. There’s a nice taut nose of pale strawberries, steely minerals, dried rose petals and salty sea breeze to this Nebbiolo-based rosato. In the mouth, it is a wake-up call of fresh, tangy red citrus fruit and salty minerality. It is light with the fruit and light with the body, but very clean, balanced and refreshing.
2009 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown Napa Valley. This wine presents strong aromas of plum, cedar, eucalyptus, cherry cream and a bit of dried sweat. There’s also a fair bit of oak to work through at this young age. The palate is full and plump, with round but fairly drying tannins that will need 4 or 5 years to integrate, I’d say. It tastes of plums, cherries, vanilla and oak, with a little sliver of bitter wood smoke on the finish that again ought to resolve decently with some more time in the cellar.