Six of us descended on China King in Boston’s Chinatown a little while back to down a whole bunch of Peking Duck and other delicious dishes, and of course to drink some good wines.
N.V. François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Methode Traditionnelle Brut. There aren’t a whole lot of bubbles with this sparkling wine that smells of crisp minerals, copper, lemon peel, lanolin and peach fuzz. It’s taut, tingly and quite mineral-driven on the palate, with nervous energy from crackling acidity and slightly bitter, burnished flavors of lemon pith, apple, chalk, limestone and graphite. It’s very clean, crunchy and refreshing.
2009 Királyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec. This wine presents a nice bouquet of mulling spices, lavender and herbs riding atop chalk, iron and yellow tropical fruit aromas. It’s gentle and friendly on the palate, with a dry finish but a sweet yellow fruit tonality through the round and giving mid-palate. It was a bit funkier about 18 months back, but has now settled into a nice pleasant drinking window.
2009 Domaine Ganevat Côtes du Jura Chardonnay Les Chalasses Vieilles Vignes. There’s a very deep pitch and dark golden tone to the nose of this fascinating wine—showing layers of distinctive aromas like cherries, nectarine skin, lime juice, candle wax, browned apples, pears and soft smoke that I find rather intriguing. In the mouth, it has a decidedly pithy, grippy, almost sticky feel, with a great overall presence to the flavors of bruised apple, pear, peach pit, smoke, limestone and cream. It’s drinking great and it comes across as a unique expression that can hold the taster’s interest and also provide fine drinking pleasure.
2010 The Red Hook Winery Vipolze Reserve North Fork of Long Island. Oh man, this is a fun ride--starting with the very pretty but also rather funky nose featuring aromas of orange blossoms, rose petals, nectarine, peach preserves, brown spices and all kinds of yeasty, malty undertones. On the palate, wild and unpredictable flavors seem to pop up from all corners when sipping it—including peaches, baked apricots, mint, smoke, nutmeg and malty notes. It turns sharply tingly and tangy on the slightly askew finish, and although you could debate just how purely “likeable” it is, you could never say it is dull or lacking in imagination. I very much enjoyed trying it, for sure.
2001 Domaine Les Roches (Alain et Jérome Lenoir) Chinon. This is a highly-dubious bottle, full of bretty aromas of horse’s ass, barnyard, dried sweat, tobacco sap, old leather, tomato leaf and green pepper. Several people were sure it was corked, as well, but I could never sense that. In the mouth, it’s light-weight and highly rustic, with more bretty character and an austere sour acidity that makes it feel quite linear and pinched at the back end. It doesn’t give much pleasure, needless to say.
2009 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py Vieilles Vignes. There’s a pleasantly appealing nose to this wine, with scents of leather, dirt roads, pine tree, dark cherry and berry fruit, and pencil shavings combining nicely. In the mouth, it feels medium-weighted, with good acidity and nice drive, with fine flavors of blue and black berries riding atop some sticky tannins. It’s nice stuff, but will probably be better in a few years.
1996 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi. The nose here is full of dried rose petal, dried cherry and suede leather aromas, but also a background mustiness that never seems to resolve itself and eventually becomes annoying. In the mouth, it features cherry and strawberry fruit flavors but also a fair bit of drying tannin and somewhat tough acidity. Although it starts out fairly rounded and creamy, it ends up dominated by puckering acidity. I have to believe this was a damaged bottle.
1999 Marcel Juge Cornas Cuvée C. Decanted about an hour, this wine exhibits a controlled, quietly noble, but yet savory bouquet that features aromas of black olives, iodine, dark earth and forest greenery to go along with some nice black and dark red fruit notes. It’s really nice, classically-made stuff. It’s also quite cool-fruited and savory on the palate, with medium weight and a reined-in and refined profile showing off savory flavors of blackberry and black raspberry fruit to go along with a lot of earthy bits. Most of the time, the tannins feel resolved and the acidity well-integrated, but to be honest I occasionally encounter some austerity and crunchier sips that make me curious to see what the future holds for this wine.
2003 Alain Voge Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes. I am probably the only one at the table to feel this way, but I really liked this wine a whole lot, really embracing its ripe character. Maybe it doesn’t express Cornas as much as one might like, but as a wine—on its own--I think it has its own character that is just delicious. It is quite overt and almost flamboyant on the nose, with heady and expansive aromas of eucalyptus, sweet creosote, dark-roasted coffee beans, suede leather and loads of black raspberry fruit that smell beautiful to me. And after 2 nights in the refrigerator, it maintains some of those qualities, but adds in more traditional aromatic notes of olive brine and iodine that I also really like. On the palate, it is round and warm and giving, with gentle tannins and a moderate richness to the black raspberry and black cherry fruit and the fine accenting notes of rosewater and garrigue inner mouth perfume. I love it through the mid-palate and I also like the finish that turns darker and cooler in tone, with a good finishing acidity. I actually wish I had a bunch more of this, both for current drinking and to see where it goes 5-10 years down the road.
2010 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot. Although this is obviously a wine just starting to unwind, I have to say that it delivers a good dose of aromatic complexity already—with fine aromas of suede leather, blackberry, black olive, tobacco leaf, sweaty horsehide, cigar ash and cracked black pepper in a generous yet coiled expression. It’s plush and grippy in the mouth, with direct and decidedly youthful tannins and some serious structure but also plenty of dark fruit, dried blood, tapenade and savory earth tones to it. Give this some time, but it’s quite good and ought to be accessible pretty young while also showing the stuffing to age.
2009 Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet (Hervé Souhaut) St. Joseph. This is very dark, very opaque in color, and it smells much the same—with aromas of cracked peppercorns, shoe polish and intense olive brine at the core, but with surprisingly airy bits of honeysuckle and musk melon in there, as well. In the mouth, it is again super dark, savory, peppery and briny, with blackberry fruit hidden behind the notes of pen ink, olive and cracked pepper. This is manly, rugged, old-fashioned, young and intense—typical of this producer in my admittedly limited experience. I have some trouble connecting with it but it certainly is true to itself and seems to make no apologies.
2008 Donelan Syrah Cobbler Family Vineyard Green Valley. I find the nose of this wine to be just a bit unfocused right now, with funky, peppery, almost skunky sorts of aromas swirling up out of the glass to go along with scents of rubber, limestone, tomato vine and oak dust. In the mouth, it’s warm, fleshy and perhaps a bit sticky. It’s fairly big-boned but I wouldn’t call it blowsy or anything like that. It delivers blueberry, blackberry and huckleberry fruit in spades, but also sports a whole lot of rather drying tannin right now. It just feels like it’s in an awkward spot right now, and needs some time to sort itself out.
2003 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée Théo. This has got the classic gewürztraminer nose featuring lychee, lime, guava, exotic brown spices, clover honey and lavender—with a little wild streak in there that pulls it together nicely. In the mouth, it’s a bit thick and oily in texture at times and the flavors can be a bit blunt, but otherwise it’s quite likeable—with a more moderate sweetness level than I recall from previous bottles. It is loaded with brown spice tones and displays a solid shot of bitter-tinged peach and nectarine pit flavors to go along with lychee, honeydew melon, mineral and flower elements. It finishes smoky, with an occasional astringent note, but I would have to say this is pretty enjoyable and probably the best of the 3 bottles of it I’ve had over the past few years.
1996 Domaine des Petits Quarts (Godineau Pere et Fils) Coteaux du Layon. This wine gives up aromas of candied grapefruit, baked apples, nectarine and lemon verbena tea. On the palate, it’s not what I would call a stand out, but it’s quite nice all the same—with pleasing flavors of caramel, toasted bread, baked apple and peach flavors over a gentle framework and soft-knit texture. It can be a bit overly-sugary at times, but otherwise it’s quietly pleasant and represents a nice end of evening drink.
2002 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Eiswein Mosel Saar Ruwer. Oh man, this hits me just right with its gorgeously deep, intense and fragrant aromas of white peach, lanolin, lavender oil, lemon peel, honey and blue slate. It’s sweet, languid and concentrated on the palate, but with a bright tangy quality and very nice levels of energy to it, as well. It delivers tons of pineapple, grapefruit and apple juice flavors that coat the palate and have solid cut at the same time. I really like this—having it in my top three wines of the night with the ’03 Voge and the ’09 Ganevat.