More notes from the last few weeks on some pretty great wines.
2011 Franck Balthazar Côtes du Rhône
Decided to try this on the very strong recommendation of Zachary Ross, who as usual is right on the mark. Incredibly vibrant, pure red and dark fruit with a seasoning of freshly cracked black pepper, floral notes and more low toned meaty elements. Very pure and so easy to drink right now, with barely any perceptible tannin and a bright acid spine keeping it very refreshing.
1985 R. López de Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia
Totally seamless. So fragrant, polished and elegant with gentle red fruits, earth, leather and higher toned floral notes all coming together harmoniously on the nose and palate. Stunningly balanced with a silken texture, bright acids keeping it very fresh and impressive length. A real treat, thanks Gene.
1981 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Classic PLL aromatics; green herbal and forestal notes, pure red and dark fruits, graphite and dusty earthy and cedary notes all coming together into a fantastic scent. This is drinking superbly now with tannins completely integrated and a lovely polished texture; I can't imagine it getting any better.
1982 Gonzalez-Byass Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Apóstoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo 30 Años
One of the highlights from a sherry dinner that (the good) Jay Miller organized some time ago at PDH. Bottle #106. This has one of the most vividly smoky fragrances I've ever come across, to the point that it almost smells (and looks) like an Islay single malt. Remarkably complex with layers of burnished, honeyed, nutty, saline and citrus fruit flavours coming together harmoniously on the palate, and really stunning length. Wow! Thanks Jay!
1988 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Another great bottle of the '88. Perfumed, polished, so elegant and layered with dark fruits, graphite, cedar and that distinctive PLL green herbal/forestal seasoning all coming together seamlessly. Just a tremendous wine.
2010 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet
Incredibly primary now with such potential, but already quite a stunning wine with layers of ripe pear and orchard fruits, higher toned citrus zest flavours and a vivid stony mineral character that slowly emerges with air. The texture here is quite remarkable, glossy and polished with a sense of real breadth in the mouth and there's remarkable persistence to the flavours. A shame wines like this have to be opened so young with the premox risk, as the balance and depth here suggest this could be something quite special with time.
2008 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays
A fantastic wine to sit down with over a few hours and follow. Initially it's a bit stemmy and the fruit's rather restrained, but with time and air it really opens out as layers of red berried fruit and plums emerge along with a savoury earthiness, with the greener/stemmy flavours integrating nicely into the background. The finesse and sense of elegance here are quite remarkable, and I'm very glad to have a couple more bottles to visit several years from now.
2011 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Drank this as a replacement for two corked Dauvissat Chablis I was moaning about elsewhere. Solid, but never spectacular - this just feels a bit too broad and ripe, some of the fruit flavours here are in the tropical end of the spectrum and it doesn't have that focus or clarity that I look for in great Riesling. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into something much more impressive with time once the fruit and baby fat recedes some, but right now it's not particularly impressive and even a couple of hours of air don't help much.
1966 Château Gruaud Larose
Drinking so well now - this seems to be in that plateau of maturity with layers of red and dark fruit, cedar, leather, tobacco and pencil lead all coming together seamlessly on the nose and palate. The structure's fully integrated here and there's a sense of real polish and grace to the flavours. An absolutely stunning bottle.
1991 Noël Verset Cornas
Funky, sweaty, leathery and showing a bit of VA, but still very enjoyable. Beneath all the funk and leather there's a core of rich black olive and red fruited flavours and a savoury, saline finish. Very nice.
1993 Gentaz-Dervieux Côte-Rôtie Cuvée Réservée Côte Brune
Glorious aromatics, a spectrum of meaty, bloody, leathery, earthy and higher toned herbal notes all coming together into a beautiful scent. There's a wonderful sense of purity to the red fruit and olive notes beneath, such elegance on the palate with the flavours and structure coming together harmoniously into a whole, and amazing balance. This seems at peak now, I can't imagine it getting better but what a fantastic bottle.
1924 Huët Vouvray Moelleux Le Haut-Lieu
There's a gentle but persistent spritz in this that suggests this bottle may have been refermenting slightly (this was a bottle recently reconditioned/topped up at the estate). Even though the spritz is a bit distracting on the palate, it's remarkable to smell - wonderful complex aromatics of honeycomb, green tea, mature wooly and caramel notes around rich Chenin fruit, and it still feels quite rich and polished. Fantastic, though I can barely imagine what a pristine, non-refermenting bottle may be like.