New Year provided some royal entertainment at Elitistreview Towers. The Editor cooked a starter of garlic butter snails then a tremendous shoulder of lamb supplied by the always excellent Beechcroft Farm. We had some excellent wines too; would you like to hear about them? If so them read on!
Looked fresh as a daisy when we poured ourselves a slug to have with the snails – sorry, I do not know how many points for colour that equates to, nor do I care! It does not look oxidised after 16 years, that is the point I am trying to get across. Clear? Good, onward.
There is quite an exotic edge to the limey, zesty nose – this must have been distinctly opulent when it was released.
Why isn’t it opulent now? I fear The Editor and I have been too enthusiastic when it has come to cellaring this wine; there seems to be something hollow about the nose that, to me, suggests it has been kept too long and it is slowly shuffling off its mortal coil. Sixteen years is a pretty good innings!
That is not too say the nose is not enjoyable, there is that lime fruit and the mineral tang Maximin Grünhauser usually has, has developed into a delightfully creamy character.
The palate certainly has plenty of acidity (those of us on omeprazole, all together: “OUCH!”), but there is so much sugar here, even though the impression is of a reasonably dry wine, the acid is perfectly balanced, particularly when you consider the lovely fruity flavours that abound on the palate.
Alas, it does taste distinctly superannuated. Just as you hope the delicious flavours of the attack will grow into an involute, svelte midpalate, the flavours just die away. It is still nice, and the acidity and lime flavours linger slightly – but pleasingly – on the finish, but it is too old.
So once again my haul from my long term cellar shows I have been too enthusiastic when ageing wine. This is from a serious producer, and a screamingly brilliant vintage, but sixteen years has been about 6-8 years too long for it.
I cannot count the number of times I have said that modern wines do not have the cellaring potential as those from days of yore (remember Yore? Lovely girl!), and yet I have kept this too bleeding long. The lesson of this bottle, boys and girls, is do as I say, not as I do!
There is a little spot of Morey-Saint-Denis in Geelong, Australia. It is where Gary Farr and his son Nick craft awesome Pinot Noir in a very Morey-like style. Gary worked at Domaine Dujac during the vintages of 1983 to 1993 and a chunk of the terroir came back each year on his boots. Nick, who made this wine, has done six harvests with my chum Jeremy at Dujac, who says that Nick is a top bloke to have hanging around the winery.
What Jeremy does not seem to realise is that, based on this wine, on each of those six visits Nick must have been carrying back large chunks of Jeremy’s best vineyards back home in his suitcases in compressed molecule form! Either that or an awful large number of talented winemakers should be planting Pinot Noir in Geelong, having had experience of it in the Côte d’Or. They could then churn out delicious Pinot Noir for me to buy, now that Burgundy is too expensive! I consider Gary and Nick Farr (and my chum Mac Forbes) to easily be Australia’s greatest exponents of Pinot Noir – and I really mean great when I write it!
Bloody hell, this smells absolutely fantastic! If I were handed a glass of this blind and told I had five seconds to identify it, I would sniff it and say, “Domaine Dujac Gevrey Premier Cru Combottes. Easy!” and everyone near me would get irritated by the aura of smugness I generated because I thought I was so bloody good at blind tasting.
It does smell an awful lot like a Dujac wine. It has a strong earthy tang, dark, slightly floral fruit and a hint of an aroma, something edging toward green aromas of stunning complexity, that I associate with using a proportion of stems in the fermentation vat. It claims to be 14% of healthy alcohol, but I would never have thought it was that ripe.
The aromas are as polished as a Buckingham Palace guard’s toecaps and the array of aromas that immensely pleasure your nose are innumerable, thrillingly complex and all totally at ease and in perfect harmony with each other. It smells lubriciously engaging and delightfully stylish.
The only hint I could discern that would make me think of something other than a Dujac wine of admirable grandeur is that, as this is obviously a very young wine, I would expect a Dujac of this age to have a bit more of the character of their very classy oak as a little seasoning on the nose. Bugger me! That is not much to go on, is it?
The palate is just as skilfully sculpted into a svelte, charming entity of lascivious pleasure. It is pumping with ravishing energy; the acidity conjoined with the fresh, floral fruit and suggestions of an almost verdant character thrill with their come hither enthusiasm. The wine throbs with life, bursting in your mouth with a sophisticated knowledge of every trick it can use to bring you to the very limits of excitement and then draw you out over the edge.
Again, it seems very polished with harmonious flavours. It is sapid, very fruity and enticingly luxurious. There is a real grandeur and an enormous degree of class about this wine. Again the only reason you might not think it was one of Dujac’s very, very best Crus in Morey or Gevrey is the lack of slight spice from some expensive oak.
This is not the cheapest bottle of wine you will ever buy, but considering its effulgent brilliance you could pay double and not think you were lacking any bangs per buck. Wines like this are not just the reason we adore Pinot Noir, they are the reason we buy wine – in the hope that it will transport us to dimensions of pulsing pleasure as bloody brilliantly as this one did. Fabulous, almost beyond the realm of opaque innuendo!
And that was not wine of the night…
Champagne Grand Cru Ambonnay Brut Nature 2010, Champagne Marguet
Two points in my preamble.
1: Champagne Marguet (Benoit Marguet and his two ploughing horses) have some incredibly fine vineyards in their portfolio, but charge very reasonable prices for vintage fizz made from these Crus. A chum I introduced to their wines, specifically this wine, asked me to keep quiet about it, lest it instantly gets famous and becomes unobtainable and/or priced beyond the reach of her, and thus way beyond the reach of my, wallet, depriving us of extreme quality Grand Cru vintage Champagnes for ever.
You may think my friend was ascribing too much influence to Elitistreview. Firstly, I bet you have no idea how many people enjoy my organ and if you did you would be really distinctly surprised by its penetration in the USA and UK.
Secondly, there have been an awful lot of incidents where I have raved about a wine on Elitistreview and the next morning a restaurateur/wine broker/wine merchant/rich person has rang up the agent of the particular wine and purchased all there was in the country. So I thought this was not such a bad idea. Then I tasted the wine!
By arse, it was fantastic! I would be letting down my readers if I did not spill the beans about one of the very, very, very best Champagnes I have been lucky enough to taste, and even more lucky enough to be able to afford.
Moreover, I am friends with Benoit Marguet on Facebook and he is a really nice fellow. If I can make him sell a few more bottles then jolly good!
Oh, and finally, I have written about Champagne Marguet on Elitistreview before.
2: M. Marguet and I have divergent views on how high quality vineyards transmit their character to vines growing on them – probably an awfully large amount of other things too. However, when it comes to wine I am a ‘results’-kind of chap; justify your viticulture using any theories in anyway you like. As long as they do not damage the vineyard and you end up producing good wine I am not overly bothered by your choice of philosophy.
This wine was better than any Champagne I have tried apart from a few vintages of Krug (M. Marguet sells 20% of his crop to Krug, by the way) and, as I said above, I like the fellow! Therefore, I thought I would write my tasting note in a style the M. Marguet might find diverting. This will reduce the length of my note, because I have never written in an other-type style before, but bugger that! I have already told you it is better than every other Champagne I have tried apart from a few vintages of Krug!
Whatever spirit nurtures the Grand Cru vineyards of Ambonnay, it gave special focus to M. Marguet’s vines in 2010. It lavished love and tenderness upon them, it protected them, it was kind to them. Indeed, it gave the vines so much love that it spent part of its very essence in filling the vines with the pure nature of the Grand Cru. The grapes became the perfect vessel for the spirit’s, and therefore the Grand Cru itself, complex constitution.
The Ambonnay Chardonnay was filled with the power of the Cru, and the power of the sun that had bathed the vineyard with its warmth that year. The rocks and soil of the Cru, that which gave the spirit power, their strong, energetic personality. This was sensational Chardonnay, Chardonnay of Ambonnay, incomparable to any other.
The warmth of the sun, the power of the cru that suffused the Ambonnay spirit and so charged the vines gave the Pinot Noir the power of fresh, ripe fruit, deep and complex, but soft and charming from all the love lavished onto those special vines.
Marguet’s gentle hand in the winery preserved the character of these uniquely charged grapes and let them grow in beauty as they became one wine. The pure, essential, powerful, beautiful wine of Ambonnay. All components vibrating in total harmony, speaking with a clear, strident voice of their beginning and how they became one wine, one wine that could only be Marguet Ambonnay 2010. One wine that was blessed with essential greatness from the start, and would lavish that greatness on anyone who would drink it- drink it and feel the greatness imbued upon those grapes, in that vineyard, in that year. Nothing else could be like that great wine of the terroir!
I assure you, this is Champagne with few peers in the whole history of that great region! I’d better go and buy some more!
Team Elitistreview (Dani The Editor, right, and me, left) wish you the happiest, most dissolute and generally louche of New Years – do have fun out there with the best of things, no matter what price bracket they may occupy!