66 Search Results for: burgundy

What haunts me

The irritation and resistance melted from Elisa’s face. “Oh, those are chrysanthemums, giant whites and yellows. I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here. “Kind of a long-stemmed flower? Looks like a quick puff of colored smoke?” he asked. “That’s it. What a nice way to describe them.” “They smell kind of nasty till you get used to them,” he said. “It’s a good bitter smell,” she retorted, “not nasty at all.” He changed his tone quickly. “I like the smell myself.” – John Steinbeck, The Chrysanthemums It started before we even arrived in Burgundy. Way before that. On the road to Macon from Geneva. Like a shadow it kept showing up in the brightest of places. Our Sat-Nav must have been drunk, that’s the only way I can describe how it could possibly want to navigate us off the highway into the darkness. Into Jura. “I would love to take a quick detour to Jura,” I said, half-jesting as I knew all the great wines lay ahead of us in Burgundy. These …

The Truth About Mac Forbes

Let’s try to forget Mac Forbes is rather attractive. I don’t want this to influence my perception of the wine in any way. Of course. That’d be completely unprofessional. Hands up – I had written about his wine before I met him: “Supersonic”. But, for the sake of objectivity, let’s get this out of the way… and he is married. So, I said it. There. What about the wine? Mac was in London between visiting Austria and Portugal. In itself, this is a very Australian idea of Europe and her wine. The island of Australia covers from St Petersburg to Dublin. Yet this is the key to understanding it. Let me explain.

Tar and Roses

Last week I met with two giants in Barolo in the space of a few days: Elio Altare and Maria-Teresa Mascarello. Their espressione of Nebbiolo are as starkly different as tar and rose. Tar and rose are the signature aromas of Barolo. I like the dissonant images that come to mind of thick, black gooey tar joining with delicate, velvet, pastel roses. There’s something about this wine that resonates with me on a primitive olfactory level: perhaps, it’s the realization that the best is not always sweetness and light. This also holds true for the people making the great Barolos of today, or anyone who decides to go against the grain. Yet there could not be two more different producers of Barolo. Altare uses French barrique; Mascarello is dead against it – using traditional large botte – and famous for the label “No Barrique, No Berlusconi”. Altare makes single-vineyard Barolo; Mascarello makes Barolo the traditional Piedmontese way from three to four cru vineyards. Altare visits Burgundy twice a year since 1976; Mascarello insists on traditional Piemontese spelling …

Bespoke Craggy Range NZ

It has been said the finest tailors dress simply. It is all about the cut and the cloth. I was thinking about this as walked down Savile Row after tasting Craggy Range wines from New Zealand. The brightness of the sky and the clean rocks are the good basic materials for these wines. What marks Craggy Range as unique is the clean taste on the tongue after tasting. Like licking a pebble from a stream. I don’t mean “clean” as opposed to “dirty”; this is clean as in freshness and vitality. And I don’t mean “simple” as in “dull”; I mean simple as in expert tailoring.

Inferno Paradiso: Tasting Mount Langi Ghiran 2004 – 2009

Love that is not loved back, pardons the loving. Once a lovesick friend wrote me this on a napkin in a café, a quote from Dante’s second circle of hell (“Amor cha nullo amato amar perdona”). To be honest, it’s the only thing I can quote from Dante’s Inferno, the text studied by winemaker Dan Buckle for his thesis, long before he became the new winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran. What I do know about Dante’s Inferno is that it is about poetic justice, and there is certainly something poetic about a winemaker who has studied the descent into the flames of hell to be now working in the Grampians in Alpine Victoria, an area almost routinely devastated by bushfire and drought.   Inferno Whether there is justice is another matter – as Dan said at a vertical tasting of his wines from 2004 to 2009, what he has learned during these hard years: “it’s one thing to stress a vine, it’s another to kill it.”

Raving with Clos Ste Hune (Trimbach)

  The signature taste of Clos Ste Hune Riesling is pine needles but this is no tranquil afternoon in the Black Forest; more like non-stop “pine needle” green strobe light action at a rave. Trying to describe it is like waving your hand through laser light; the complex flavours meld and disappear in a green light of spicy lime and steely tang. Let the music lift you up. It would have been fortunate to have only one Clos Ste Hune, but at yesterday’s Enotria tasting with Jean Trimbach at Bistro du Vin Soho, we were treated to three vintages. Everybody raves about Clos Ste Hune Riesling from Trimbach; and happily, this wine lives up to the hype.

Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino to be sold? Rumours from Montalcino

Rumours from the hills of Montalcino today is Colle Massari is acquiring Piero Palmucci’s Poggio di Sotto. An elderly gentleman with no offspring interested in taking over the vineyard, it could soon be in the hands of Claudio Tipa, winemakers from Maremma, part of the family who are also patrons of Alinghi team in the America’s Cup. The tiny 8ha of vineyard (12 ha in total) produce some of the most mystical and benchmark expressions of Brunello in Montalcino. To say this a favourite wine of mine is an understatement. Not only is the flavour burned in my memory as perfect expression of Sangiovese in Montalcino, and I use it as a complete reference point, but it was also

The wine was Chambertin

I forget the name of the place; I forget the name of the girl; but the wine was Chambertin” – Hillaire Belloc Tasting Grand Cru Chambertin next to other wines is like seeing a film featuring Anouk Aimée after an all-day marathon of Friends. It has such a different affect on the senses it makes you wonder whether all winemakers are using the same key ingredients of grapes, soil, sky and cellar. The last time I tasted 2008 and 2009 Grand Cru Domaine Rossignol-Trapet they were in an embryonic En Primeur state in London; now the wines had formed a clear personality. Rossignol-Trapet’s Gevrey-Chambertin villages red was a go-to wine for me for a couple of years, so it was a thrill to meet Nicholas at the Domaine. 

Introducing Christophe Buisson

The RN74 road in Burgundy is like driving down a wine list. Great names, manicured vines; it is, to state the obvious, a place where vineyards have been have been held in loving trust for millennia. Generations of families and growers have worked the land; a place where growers are so well-known by winemakers business is done on a handshake (‘topler’). But it must be the perverse streak in me, despite having the privilege to taste many Grand Crus from great familes during my time there, one of my favourite wines was a red Saint-Romain from the relatively new winemaker, Christophe Buisson.

The World Upside Down

Victorian Allsorts Tasting, Wine Australia at 2011 London International Wine Fair hosted by Steve Webber and Kate McIntyre MW, 17 May 2011 The Victorian wines shown today want to break free from the notion that Australian wines are pristine and wholesome, with exciting discordant and dirty notes that urged one not to delay tasting (the forbidden). These wines had pulled a thread in the tightly-knit world of expectation of

Piedmont Report: Langhe Nebbiolo & Nebbiolo d’Alba

I had always learned Nebbiolo derived from the word, “Nebbia”, meaning “fog”, alluding to the fog that sets in on the hills in Piemonte during harvest. But no, I stand humbly corrected. The true meaning I am told, by every winemaker I met while I was there, is that Nebbiolo was named after the Piemontese word “Nebieu” meaning Noble. This may be the case, but these great wines made from Nebbiolo grape in Piemonte seem to be shrouded in fog – the fog of Italian classification laws. “We are very complicated in Piemonte,” said Pietro Ratti at the Symposium after the Nebbiolo Nobile tasting, almost as an apology. Does it have to be this way? Some may know Barolo and Barbaresco, some may even know they are made from Nebbiolo, but there are also other wines: Nebbiolo d’Alba, Nebbiolo from Roero and Nebbiolo Langhe. They are made from the same grape but are different classifications of Nebbiolo, some that cross over the same territories, even the same vineyards, as Barolo and Barbaresco (see map above).  They …

Outside the law: Burgundians Anne Gros and Jean-Paul Tollot’s “Table Wine” from Minervois

It’s as if these two winemakers from Burgundy have run away to the South of France and created something great for the village party. The name of the wine, La 50/50, refers to the winemakers partnership rather than the blend and Anne Gros asks on her website, “Is it love at first sight? Absolutely!” There’s a sunny joyousness about this wine from the Languedoc and a sort of recklessness

New Italian wines at The Wine Society: bella figura!

The concept of ‘bella figura’ or good image is important to Italians. Bella figura is more than dressing well. It extends to the aura you project too – i.e. confidence, style, demeanour, etc. (From Italy – Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette) The Wine Society UK has found its Members wines that not only speak of the place but also have an extra flourish of bella figura. You’ll find nearly all of The Wine Society’s Italian wines for Spring have personality and speak of its place and history; in particular, the white wines. At these prices, and in these quantities, that is quite an achievement. Here is the line up for Spring: 

Valentine’s Day: wine for the cynical and jaded

Saying pink champagne is romantic is as delusional as saying Paris is feminine when one look at a map shows the city is a continuous paean to military conquests. The best Rose Champagne is not hearts and fluffy toys, it usually has a strong Pinot Noir constitution that can withstand many different food assaults. So if you must buy into the most commercial of days etc etc… What do you do?

Changes in Rosso di Montalcino DOC race ahead

The red colour of Italian cars is not just any red. It comes from a long history of rules, mostly developed between the World Wars, when car racing began. Different countries were assigned different colours: blue for French cars, white for German cars and, of course, British cars were racing green. Red was assigned for Italian race cars and now, the red colour of Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari is instantly recognisable as a “race red” (or Rosso Corsa). All these rules have a history, which gain sense from the time, but most people today know what is meant by Ferrari Red. Just as with Italian car colours, and a lot of things in Italy, Italian wines have many rules. So it is worth considering what the proposed changes in the rules mean, especially when on the 15th December, the 15 board members proposed to change Rosso di Montalcino from 100% to 85% guaranteed Sangiovese. Currently the law stands: Brunello di Montalcino must be 100% Sangiovese and aged for 4 years (Riserva for 5 years) …

Changes in Rosso di Montalcino DOC race ahead

The red colour of Italian cars is not just any red. It comes from a long history of rules, mostly developed between the World Wars, from when car racing began. Different countries were assigned different colours: blue for French cars, white for German cars and, of course, British cars were racing green. Red was assigned for Italian race cars and now, the red colour of Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari is instantly recognisable as a “race red” (or Rosso Corsa). All these rules have a history, which gain sense from the time, but most people today know what is meant by Ferrari Red. Just as with Italian car colours, and a lot of things in Italy, Italian wines have many rules. So it is worth considering what the proposed changes in the rules mean, especially when on the 15th December, the 15 board members proposed to change Rosso di Montalcino from 100% to 85% guaranteed Sangiovese.

The best food and wine of 2010 by @winewomansong on Bibendum Times

Ask anyone who has had their tongue pierced what it feels like and they always tend to shrug it off and say they didn’t feel a thing. I was thinking about this when asked what were my favourite wines of the year. What has marked my tongue so much this year that I can never forget it? Maybe not my actual tongue, but pierced my memory and overturned my senses. Some wines have seared my memory so much, they have changed the way I perceive wine permanently. Here’s just a small sample of my favourite wines – tongue jewellery – from 2010:

Primal Genius: Protero Adelaide Hils Merlot and S.C.Pannell

This is a story that starts 2.6 billion years ago. When oxygen first gathered in the atmosphere and single-cell mitochondria ruled the planet, the landscape of Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills was formed. When the volcanoes stopped spewing poisonous gases and the single-cell animals and algae could start to get on with the process of reproduction. Glaciers melted. Fish got legs. Dinosaurs died out. A mere 60 million years ago the Kimmedgian soils of Chablis formed. Humans started fires. It’s been a long way, baby. Until 2000, when the Baldarasso family called in two of Australia’s finest winemakers Paul Drogemuller and S.C.Pannell to see what they could do. The incredible S.C. Pannell What I wanted to taste here on my trip to Australia was a Nebbiolo from Adelaide Hills. If anyone could make a Nebbiolo outside of Piedmonte, which seems almost an impossible feat, then it would have to be S.C.Pannell: his training includes vintages at G.D. Vajra in Barolo, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy and Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. He is also …

supersonic: Mac Forbes Woori Yallock Pinot Noir

  A good friend from Australia told me a story. After the Hospice de Beaune Auction in Burgundy he had driven down to the Rhone Valley. While there, he managed to cajole the reluctant Rhone winemakers to take a quick drive with him to Piemonte as it was “only a few hours drive over the mountains”. At first, the idea shocked the Rhone winemakers. Italy?! For my Australian friend, it was nothing, not even the distance from one Australian capital city to the next. They did it; and to this day, the winemakers from Rhone, Piemonte and Australia laugh about it and are all still friends. Like many young Australians living abroad, the winemaker Mac Forbes has effortlessly worked in many countries and cultures: in his case, Burgundy, Gallic, Narbonne, Duoro and Sicily. Recently back in the Yarra Valley from consulting in Austria, he has successfully imported Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch to the cool Yarra Valley (after 3 years in quarantine). In Mac’s own words:   “It is important to keep the mind open especially …

En Primeur – five questions to ask before you buy

What is En Primeur? En Primeur is the art of buying wine when it is still in cask before it is bottled. There is usually a two year wait before it is finally delivered, which happens shortly after the wine is bottled and shipped. After vintage, wine merchants and writers visit the Estates, Domaines or Chateaux to assess the quality for their customers. This is when the campaign begins. In the United States, buying wine En Primeur is known as Wine Futures, which is slightly more demystifying; it clearly links the buying of unbottled wine in cask to the concept of buying futures on the stockmarket. It’s the same level of reward. And risk. For those who don’t know much about Bordeaux, En Primeur can be on the trickier end of wine buying. For those who do, it can be a way to buy wine at a relatively low price which returns decades of enjoyment. However, unlike other forms of investment, it’s a speculation you can eventually enjoy drinking. And if you do it right, …

Top 5 Favourite Wines of 2009

For me, 2009 was my Grand Tour of Italian wine. Amarone, Brunello di Montalino, Barolo and the white wines of Friuli and Sardinia. It was also a year where the 2007 vintage from Burgundy and Bordeaux did not produce a predictable line-up of star wines. A challenging vintage, perhaps, but also a good challenge. For isn’t the process of sorting the wheat from the chaff half the fun? Without further delay, here are my top 5 favourite wines from the year: 1. 2004 Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino Even when it is woven in the palest of colours, the most expensive cashmere has an unusual depth of colour to its fibre. What is amazing about the Poggio di Sotto is its exquisite pale rose colour belies a depth of knitted-together, intense flavours. Like a favourite cashmere jumper, it may appear delicate at first but it soon tells its own story over time. I don’t think this is a social wine. Not that I mean it’s anti-social and offensive. What I mean is that it …

Were Dreams (now it is just wine!)

Here is an Italian white wine from Friuli-Venezia that captures my heart: Jermann’s Were Dreams, or the full title – Were Dreams (now it is just wine!).  I can hear the tut-tutting already. What a silly name for a wine! And yet, and yet… it’s precisely the playful silliness that makes me love it even more. What does he mean? All those grapes were dreams and now it just wine… I once had high ideals and now it’s all mundane reality? Or even… philosophize as much you like about the stuff, but it’s meant to be drunk and enjoyed. Whatever the name means, Jermann can afford to have the last laugh: he is one of the masters of the N-E Italian region. And it is his light-touch that give his white wines a depth of minerality and subtle sophistication to make a bottle the most entertaining dinner guest. His Were Dreams is no exception. However, don’t expect much small talk here. It’s definitely for those who love big oak in their Chardonnay (and you know who you are!). After a few hours …

waiting for Brunello di Montalcino 2004

I’ve been in the lush waiting room for what seems like forever. The agony and the ecstasy! I’m talking about the forthcoming release of the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. If you love Brunelli, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The 2004 vintage. And maybe you’ll even agree with me when I say Riserva Brunello di Montalcino has a strong semblance to a premier cru Burgundy from the Cote d’Or (even though of course, Brunello is made from Sangiovese and Burgundy is made from Pinot). At nearly half to two-thirds the price. The best of both wines from these regions have an ethereal quality, sometimes a lighter rose colour, layers of complexity and elegance. Although, to my mind, Brunello has a “savoury” character rather than the classic Burgundy “barnyard”. To give you an idea of what to expect, here is my tasting notes for the 2003 Poggio di Sotto (£69 per bottle), which is a ‘lesser vintage’ than 2004 (!) – Infinite jest. Light in colour, light-bodied but also complex like a gymnast with an intricate …

the taste of others

SG & Jane Birkin Not everyone has the same taste. I like slightly dirty wines. So what has happened to French white wines recently? Things seem lighter, fruitier, cleaner. I champion the screw cap, but it’s not so much because I want more fruit taste, but because I don’t like spending money on a corked wine. But corked wine is not what I mean when I say dirty. What I mean is, in a Chardonnay, when the secondary malo-lactic characters taste closer to an aged Roquefort cheese, rather than Kraft slices. Good old-fashioned French white burgundy smells like tangy sex, often has a dismissive gesture of fruit, and can be difficult and demanding. How refreshing: wine that is not f**king refreshing. French wines, even Italian wines, are becoming fresher and fruitier to compete in the crowded UK market. Pause…sip ice water…continue. This afternoon I had a Chardonnay tasting, and even the most opulent French wine could only be described as “Opulent Lite” – especially compared to burgundies I tasted 5 years ago. Is it the …

La Tâche, a modern love poem

Love poems of oldUsed to be descriptions of fleshThey described this and thatFor instance eyelashes And yet rednessShould be describedBy greyness the sun by rainThe poppies in NovemberThe lips at night A modern love poem, by Tadeusz Różewicz “What wine would you be?” I was asked at a party on Saturday night. What the hell. “I’d be La Tâche 1990 from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.” Why not? But I won’t lie to you. I have circled this wine for years and years, read about it, heard it mentioned in whispered, reverential tones, yet – I have never tasted it. The 1990 La Tâche sold at auction for $US9000. Only 1200 cases are made a year. All I can tell you is what other people say once they’ve tasted it, there are even photos of people anticipating, sniffing it, drinking it. I can only imagine it is what I’m missing in every other wine… This is fantasy stuff, and all I know is, if I was a wine, I’d love to be drunk in the same …