First impressions of Krug´s latest Grande Cuvée

Krug Grande Cuvée – 167ème Édition

Expressive and fresh aromas of ripe yellow fruits, citrus, floral layers, almonds, brioche, honey, chalky elements and delicate spiciness in a rich, but elegant and vital champagne. Fresh and long on the palate with finest bubbles, good acidity and round texture. A blend of 191 wines from 13 different years with the youngest coming from 2011 and the oldest wines from 1995. Immensely complex and, as always, in a way paradox by being focused and fine at the time as being ample and rich. Wonderful expression of champagne created of 47% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay & 17% Meunier.

After Krug x Fish last year, this year Pepper is the single ingredient in the focus of pairing possibilities with Krug Champagne.
See the entire video and discover the exciting new idea and concept of Krug x Pepper here.

 

Past, Present and Future – Tasting New and Old Vintages at Ruinart

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Ruinart´s style is about aromatic freshness, pure fruit flavors and immense drinkability. The wines are always on the gently reductive side, made with zero oak, but 100% malolactic fermentation. Still, Ruinart never shows any malolactic flavors. While the wines are of substance and juice, they are mostly of focus and decent phenolic grip – especially in their youth. A distinct style that shows in all wines from their cellars.

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We visited the Maison to taste the new vintages of Ruinart´s Blanc de Blancs as well as their Rosé Champagne last week. During our stay we also had the chance to taste all other wines of the Maison plus a range of matured vintages.

2006 was a hot and rather wet vintage that delivered plentiful crop of good ripeness with little botrytis. Therefore, strict selection was essential during harvest from 7th to 25th of September.
Dom Ruinart´s 2006 Blanc de Blancs fruit comes mostly from the villages of Chouilly, Le Mesnil and Avize (total of 63% from the Cote de Blancs) and  from Sillery and Puisieulx (total of 37% from Montagne de Reims).

It shows very fresh from the beginning with aromas of citrus, stone fruit, white florals, delicate spiciness, little toasty notes and chalky minerality. Showing the distinct Ruinart fingerprint on the palate with gentle green grip, immense freshness, elegance and, yet, lots of substance and presence. Flavors of yellow fruits, some brioche and fine spiciness stand out. Acidity (6,9gr/l) gives life and focus while balancing the sweetness. Thanks to the natural ripeness of the vintage dosage was low (4,5gr/l).
A beautiful Blanc de Blancs for medium-term enjoyment!

Dom Ruinart 2004 Rosé benefited from a rather hot and dry 2004 vintage. Lots of sunshine, little rain and warm temperatures led to an excellent and healthy crop. The 2004 Rosé champagne is very aromatic and inviting with a nose of guava, lychee, raspberry, rose pedal, some stone fruits and delicate minerality. It is very pure and crisp on the palate as citrus, orange zest and red fruits appear. Herbal freshness and little spiciness create, together with vibrant acidity (7,3gr/l), tension. Great length, complexity and drinking pleasure in a Rosé of 81% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Noir. Even though in its youth, it is already great to drink, but will provide even more fun and fascination over its long future.

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Amongst many beautifully matured champagnes we tasted during our visit the 1998 and 1990 Rosé stood out.
Dom Ruinart 1998 Rosé (MAGNUM) is still youthfully tight, fresh and dense. Tropical fruit, citrus and raspberry, fine spiciness and herbaceous notes create an almost ethereal weightlessness. The wine is focused, precise and vibrant on the palate. Structured for eternity with vital acidity, great length and complexity. An exceptional champagne!
Dom Ruinart 1990 Rosé (MAGNUM) started very dark and ripe, but gained focus and freshness with more aeration. Ripe stone fruit, berries, smoky layers, dried leaves, forest floor, mushrooms and orange peel create a multi-layered, intriguing aroma profile. Ripe and juicy on the palate with a solid backbone of fine acidity and lots of substance.
Everything you would expect from a great champagne from an brillant vintage.

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Tasting Pomerol and Saint Emilion again.

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For the second time we tasted some of the best from Saint Emilion and Pomerol with Munich Wine Club. We chose to check on some great vintages and classics as well as on some good, sort of under the radar, vintages.
In seven, vintage-specific flights we compared a total of 15 wines from the different appellations in a blind tasting setting.

1998 was, after 1990, probably the best vintage in the 90´s with wines of boldness, power as well as structure.
Chateau Le Gay
appeared dark and deep with aromas of blackberry, vanilla sweetness, some minty freshness and earthy characters. Beautiful and juicy on the palate with fine, yet present tannins and a long finish.
Ripeness, opulence and substance in a classic Pomerol. 1998 Chateau Gazin showed less substance and depth than the Chateau Le Gay with red fruits of raspberry and red currant, some plums, tobacco, present green notes and licorice spiciness. Still tight and a little edgy, while lacking density and juice. Honestly, I´m not sure what the future will bring for this wine.

Chateau L’ Evangile and Chateau La Conseillante represented the distinct styles of their Chateau´s perfectly with a dark, concentrated and rather robust 1994 Chateau L‘ Evangile on the one side and a fine, almost feminine and harmonious 1994 Chateau La Conseillante on the other. Both wines characterize the ripeness of the 1994 vintage that was challenged by rains before and during harvest. With aromas of dark, black fruits, florals (violets), dried herbs, leather and forest floor 1994 L´Evangile showed vital and robust on the nose, while it remained harmonious, present and a little dirty on the palate. Dark fruit, earthy layers and spiciness- especially on the long finish- create a delicious and exciting package. In this condition, the wine holds for 5+ years easily. 1994 Chateau La Conseillante has a bouquet of fine, red and dark fruits, perfume, florals, delicate green layers and some lactic notes. While the wine is very elegant on the nose, it´s immensely present and young on the palate. With brittle tannins, fine acidity and depth it has everything necessary to evolve for another decade. Beautiful, long finish with tons of dark fruits and peppery spiciness.

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1990 Chateau Lafleur presented itself elegant, almost quiet, but immensely complex with aromas of cherry, dried herbs, plum, green tea, tobacco, ethereal layers, hints of Port and fine sweetness. Pure power and substance in perfect balance on the palate. Very fruit-driven, even mineral and sweet with fine, but dense tannins and filigree acidity. Endless finish. Monumental and hedonistic while sophisticated and young. Is this one expression of a perfect wine? Absolutely.
1990 Chateau Certan de May took the hard challenge to compete with this legend. And, while being lengths behind, it still surprised us! A very complete wine showing all the ripeness and structure you would expect from a beautiful 1990 Pomerol. Expressive aromas of dark fruit, herbal spiciness, little oak and delicious sweetness. Harmonious and full of substance on the palate with dark fruit and more herbal spiciness. Delicious, compact and at its best now!

1988 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus was opulent, concentrated and a little rustic with black fruits, tobacco, leather and herbal spiciness. Great smoothness, even charm, and depth on the palate. Cool with character and a dark, punchy finish with drive. 1988 Chateau Certan Giraud was on a par with the La Fleur-Petrus and similar to the bottle we had last year with aromas of blackcurrant, tobacco, fresh, green herbs and distinct notes of iron. A little tighter and leaner than the La Fleur-Petrus, but of good balance, harmony and precision. Good stuff!

After having many outstanding 1985s over the last months, we had great expectations regarding tonight´s 1985 flight, but the wines couldn´t fully meet our expectations. 1985 Chateau Beausejour came with sweet fruit, hints of tobacco, dried fruits, fresh herbs and notes pastry. Unfortunately the palate was dominated by present acidity and lacking substance. Obviously past its prime, but still nice to drink with red fruits and herbal notes. Drink now!
1985 Chateau Troplong Mondot lost most of its charm and showed only very little sweetness, but lots of caramel, mushrooms, coffee ground and some herbal freshness. Lacking harmony and balance, it´s very dark, oxidative and bumpy on the palate with very little sweetness of remaining fruit. Certainly a weak bottle.

1979 is a Right Bank vintage I like very much. There are still many fine, smoothly textured wines with vibrant acidity around- recent examples were an amazingly fascinating 1979 Chateau Magdelaine and a stunning 1979 Chateau L`Evangile. Today´s bottle of 1979 Chateau Magdelaine didn´t perform and slightly oxidative notes gave proof that this was not a perfect bottle. Very dark on the nose with little black fruit, olives, ground coffee, dark chocolate and raisins. Light-weight and fine on the palate with nice acidity and length. Lacking substance. Good thing we had three bottles in this flight- and the other two were really shining bright! 1979 Vieux Chateau Certan came in strong with fine, but fresh aromas of dark fruits (blackberry and cherries), mixed herbs, vegetable layers, hay and peppery spiciness. Precise, elegant and fresh on the palate. Great depth and drive! 1979 Clos Fourtet appears with tons of fresh fruit as well. Aromas of red and black currant, little citrus, delicate spiciness, earthy characteristics, little leather, iron and herbaceous notes. Balanced, focused and elegant on the palate where vibrant acidity gives live. Nice finish of red fruits, freshness and iron. Textbook 1979 Right Bank.

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As expected, or at least hoped, was the 1971 Chateau Cheval Blanc another highlight of the tasting.
From this vintage of richness and opulence with good acidity many of the top wines are still shining today- and so did the Cheval Blanc with ethereal freshness, fine, sweet red-berry fruit, delicate spiciness, tobacco, iron and little truffle. Very fine, elegant and intriguing! Cool and elegant with finest sweetness on the palate. Finished very long with a cool and spicy punch. Fantastic wine!
1971 Canon la Gaffeliere came in second in this flight, but showed great as well with dark sweetness, herbaceous notes, licorice, earth, pencil lead, caramel, little honey and traces of smoke. Very round and balanced on the palate with fully integrated tannins and fine sweetness. Decent length.

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Spätburgunder vs. Pinot Noir

pinotvsspaetÄ                                                                                                                                                                                                               Approach: We compared 12 Pinot Noirs in a blind tasting to evaluate quality, find differences and see whether we were able to distinguish between Spätburgunder (Germany) and Pinot Noir (Burgundy). Therefore, we poured flights of two and compared, by that, always one with the other:

Kesseler – Spätburgunder Höllenberg 1993
From the slate, quartzite soils of one of Germany´s oldest sites for reds comes this Spätburgunder. It approaches you with distinct aromatics of decent oak and light fruit of cherries and some strawberries. Elegant and smooth on the tongue. Nothing exciting, but harmonious, elegant and still of little freshness. Very drinkable, but lacking depth and complexity. Good length though (89 pts.).

Louis Trapet – Gevrey-Chambertin 2001
It was a wet, cool and cloudy year in Burgundy. This Gevrey-Chambertin started off quite funky with wine gum and burned rubber, but settled after a while with fine, light-red fruit, coolness and freshness of herbs and earthy notes. Darker on the palate, but of grippy tannins and little, austere greenness. After a recently tasted amazing 2006, this was certainly not a perfect bottle (90pts.)

 

Fürst – Spätburgunder Centgrafenberg 2003 Elegant, but relatively ripe wine with dark fruits, mixed herbs, toasty oak and citrus freshness. Lactic notes. Nevertheless, vibrant on the palate with dark drive. A little diluted esp. when considering the 2003 vintage characteristics (90pts.)

Bouchard Pere et Fils – Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1999
Deep, dark red in the glass and full of fresh, dark-red fruit (black cherries), prunes, earth, black tea and herbs. Approachable and medium complex, yet robust wine of concentration drive and extract (92pts.)

 

Huber – Spätburgunder Reserve 2001
The rocky shell-limestone soils of the Bienenberg vineyard created fresh, quite youthful and complex wine of sour cherry, red berries, tobacco sweetness, leather and little peppery spiciness. Present acidity and little green tannins.
Showing real potential, yet already drinking beautifully (92pts.)

Domaine de L’Arlot – Nuit St. Georges 1er Cru les Forets 2003
Concentrated and muscular, but balanced wine of ripe black fruits, creamy sweetness, prune, little tobacco, autumn forest and some florals. Smoothly textured, even juicy with present alcohol, integrated tannins and fine acidity. Quite a powerhouse lacking refinement (90pts.)

 

Knipser – Spätburgunder Kirschgarten 2003
grows on soils of loam and chalk. The wine is dense, deep and complex full of ripe black cherries and blackberries, dried herbs, some road tar and oak. Smooth, but present on the palate with fine acidity and integrated tannins. Textbook 2003, elegant and relatively ripe, yet a real surprise (94pts.)!

Confuron-Cotetidot – Vosne Romanée 1er Cru, Les Suchots 2003
Nice fruit forward, burned rupper, licorice on the nose. Expressive, even wild aromatics. Weakly structured and bumpy on the palate. Something went wrong with this one. The weakest wine of the night (84pts.)

 

Rebholz  – Spätburgunder Im Sonnenschein R 2000
2000 was a very wet and difficult vintage and you were able to find the typical vintage characteristics in this wine: Mild as a dove with aromatics of ripe, dark fruit, violets, almonds, present oak and warm spices. Broad without substance and past its prime (86pts.).

Nicolas Potel  – Latricieres Chambertin Grand Cru 2004
Aromatics of dark berries and black cherries, earthy notes, mushrooms and herbal freshness in a precise, youthful and complex wine from infertile soils south of Chambertin. Youthfully structured with only very little ladybug greenness.
Great length and freshness. Maybe lacking some flesh (94pts.)

 

Keller  – Spätburgunder Bürgel 2002
The 2002 vintage provided high ripeness levels and fine acidity. Klaus-Peter Keller´s Bürgel shows clean with beautiful fruit of dark berries and black cherries with little sweetness, intriguing minerality and herbal spiciness and curry aromas. Among the best wines of the night with density, complexity and perfect balance (95pts.)      

Jean Jacques Confuron – Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 1996
J.J. Confuron owns 0,52 ha in the Clos de Vougeot vineyard in the area considered best (close to the Chateau).The 96 shines of red fruits, raspberry and even gooseberry, figs, forest floor and minerality. It´s beautifully precise and vibrant with present acidity, few remaining tannins and freshness on the palate. Finishes long and focused with darkest fruit, leather and anise spiciness. Still a little tight, but elegant, complex and fascinating wine. Wine of the night (96pts.)

 

Results: It is (often) very easy to pick out the German Spätburgunder due to its distinct aromatics of light, red fruit, present oak and less substance. Nevertheless, the overall quality in Germany is very good. Especially when considering that the making of serious Pinot Noir of finesse is a relatively new trend in many regions of Germany.
Even though some Spätburgunder were able to wine their duels, all tasters agreed that the Burgundian wines delivered more fascination, depth, excitement and character.
And don´t forget that the wines tasted from Germany represent the pinnacle of Spätburgunder at the moment while the wines from Burgundy in this tasting were about average.

It´s still comparing apples and oranges, but the uplift in quality of German Pinot Noir over the last years is promising. Wines of recent vintages underline this development. Therefore, I can only recommend keeping an open eye for these light reds from Germany.

Photo by @weinfurore

Comprehensive Bordeaux – Surprises and Usual Suspects

IMG_2709Last week we hosted a ‘Comprehensive Bordeaux’ Tasting for MunichWineClub to show all facets of the region,
from dry whites, over dry reds, of course, to the sweet whites of Sauternes.
Here are the tasting notes:

We kicked-off with a fresh, steely and precise 2012 L´Abeille de Fieuzal blanc from Pessac-Leognan.
Inviting aromatics of citrus, florals and grapefruit. Smooth and ripe, yet fresh and focused.
Good length of minty freshness and spiciness.
2011 Chateau de Sales and Chateau Le Boscq followed.
Chateau Le Boscq with 55% CS, 40% M and 5% Petit Verdot showed typically dark and rustic with earth, black fruits and spices. Thanks to the 2011 vintage characteristics, this wine was already quite approachable. Medium-bodied, while lacking juice and density.
2011 Chateau de Sales came with red fruit, oaky aromatics, plums and autumn leaf. Rather lean on the palate with fine, but harsh tannins and present acidity. Otherwise driven by fruit and decent length. Give it another 3- 5 years.
From then on, starting with 2009, we looked at supposedly strong vintages only.
2009 Clos René is surprisingly light, even powerless. Red fruit, plums and dried herbs on the nose. On the palate with grippy tannins plums and dark spiciness. Simple, yet nice wine with about 10% of Malbec in the blend.
Now to the first real highlight: 2009 Chateau Batailley showed beautifully at this early drinking stage. Notes of ripe, black fruit and pure, fine sweetness. Earth, leather, black olives and tobacco. Intriguing and exciting. Soft and round in the mouth, but still healthy structured and full of potential. Finishes long with black fruit and peppery spiciness. Distinct Pauillac and very attractive!
2000 Domaine de Chevalier was the wine of the evening. It´s really incredible how beautiful 2000 Bordeaux is already showing after 15 years. Elegant, fine and multi-faceted on the nose with light, yet ripe, red fruit, delicate earthiness, florals, herbal spiciness, iron, some smoked bacon and cedar. Really sophisticated with subtle sweetness.
Medium-bodied, elegant and present. Flavor-intense, but quiet. Long finish full of fruit and herbal spiciness.
Fantastic and in line with the other 2000s we have tasted recently as Pontet Canet, Beychevelle, Lynch-Bages and La Fleur-Petrus. The vintage is really opening up and reaching its (first level) of maturity without getting tired.

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Both following 1989s were good, but not great. 1989 Chateau Haut-Bages had a fine, ripe nose of red fruits, vanilla, graphite, road tar, tobacco and herbal freshness, but was a little weak on the palate. Present acidity without sufficient flesh and concentration. Had this wine twice over the last year and it showed much better each time.
1989 Chateau Cantemerle was a little stronger. Inviting nose of complexity and elegance with black berries, florals, some green tea and oak. More harmonious and alive on the palate than the Haut-Bages Liberal, but still past its prime. Good finish with little smokiness and herbal spiciness. Still a very charming wine.
1988 Chateau Certan-Giraud showed what great terroir is able to do. Black, ripe fruits, green tea, tons of (fresh) herbs and some traces of iron in a silky textured wine of great depth and precision. Fantastic wine driven by tertiary characteristics but still full of impact, presence and great finesse.
Cassis, smoky notes, tobacco, earth and forest floor describe the nose of our 1986 Chateau Haut-Marbuzet. Hardly any fruit left, but still alive. Solid structured, rather robust and edgy on the palate.
1982 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal was next and poured blind. This wasn´t a perfect bottle and, due to that, this wine had hardly anything to do with the perfect 1982 Haut-Bages-Liberal I had in November 2014. Today´s bottle showed very matured, not unpleasant, but lacking complexity, concentration and length. However, aromatically nice with sweet, red fruits, some dried herbs, earth and pencil lead.
1995 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey was the perfect refresher at the end of the tasting.
Well, it was more than that by showing everything what great Sauternes can do:
Freshness, sweetness, spiciness, structure and immense complexity.
Aromatics of tropical fruits and citrus freshness. Little honey, orange zest and petrol plus tons of herbal spiciness (ginger and saffron!). Very alive on the palate. Fresh, vibrant and weightless. Sweetness, Acidity and alcohol in perfect balance.
With only hints of botrytis, this wine finishes very long with a lot fruit and spiciness. An exceptional wine and great value for money. Drink or keep.

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Tasting Note: 1959 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal

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1. Introduction:
The 30 hectares (74 acres) of Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal are divided in two halfs, with one half directly neighboring Chateau Latour and the other half of the vineyard on the plateau of Bages, south of the town of Pauillac.
With an annual production of ~138.000 bottles, today´s plantation contains about 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot growing on deep gravel, clay-limestone and limestone chalk soils that generate wines of power and distinct mineral character. Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal´s wines are stylistically typical Pauillac with generosity, elegance and power, while maybe less tannic and more juicy than most other wines from the appellation.

Hot temperatures in 1959 created grapes of full ripeness and, thereby, wines of rich tannins, high alcohol and low acidity. Overall a great vintage that- and this might be a little surprising, due to the low acidity levels- created wines of amazing future potential!
Our 1959 Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal is flawless with a perfect cork and high fill level.
(No decanting).

2. Appearance:
Deep Dark-Red, Garnet. A little lighter edge, but vital and brilliant!

3. Nose:
Elegant and integrated fragrances of Dark Fruit (Cassis and Cedar!) and Fruit in Rum.
Broad range of secondary and tertiary facets with a lot of (Dried) Herbs, Tobacco, Leather, Pencil Lead and some Iron (!). Spices, Fine Florals and (sweet) Vanilla.
Beautiful and delicate freshness of Mint and Eucalypt plus traces of Pinewood.
Pure, multi-layered fascination! Fine, but vital and intriguing.

4. Taste:
Black and Red Fruits packed in a deep, Velvet structure with finest, remaining tannins and subtle acidity.
Very elegant, but with an exciting play of Sweet- and Tartness.
Core of Earthy and Leathery Characteristics and some Truffles (!).
Great finish of good length, herbal spiciness and a decent punch of Dark, Ripe Fruit (mostly Cassis).

5. Opinion:
Polished by time, elegant and velvety, but of great depth, complexity and fascination.
Constantly evolving of the four hours of drinking and showing all beautiful faces of old Pauillac.
Simply off the charts and the best wine for months. A true revelation!

Tasting Note: 2001 Chateau L´Evangile

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1. Introduction:
After being the majority stockholder since 1990, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) took over Chateau L´Evangile in 2000. During this process DBR (Lafite) already made investments to improve quality by a more refined selection in the vineyard, a restoration and renovation of winery and vineyard and by establishing a second wine “Blason de L’Évangile” not only to maintain, but to emphasize L´Evangile´s distinct quality and character.
Chateau L´ Evangile´s 22 hectares (54 acres) under vine are located in the southeastern part of the Pomerol plateau where surface gravel mixes with sandy clay soil over a sub-soil rich of embedded iron. The typical varietals grown are 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
After a longer than usual growing season with late, uneven ripening in Pomerol in 2001, the wines were generally full-bodied and very concentrated.
Our 2001 Chateau L´ Evangile consists of 79% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc and is in perfect shape w. high fill & healthy cork. 13,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep, dark red/ crimson. Dense and vital.

3. Nose:
Aromatics of Ripe, Black and Red Fruit. Fruit in Rum. Notes of Plum, Dark Chocolate and Licorice. Traces of Vanilla and a lot of Dried and Fresh Herbs with a Freshness of Mint and delicate Peppery Spiciness. Fine traces of Wood.
Deep, ripe and powerful nose!

4. Taste:
Powerful and concentrated structure on the palate with intense flavors of Ripe, Dark Fruit. Herbal and Green notes with Exotic Spices.
Some Leather, Forest Floor and Mushroom.
Fine, smooth and little chalky tannins and approachable acidity.
Long and comforting finish with more Ripe, Dark Fruit, little acidity and Herbal Spiciness.
Intense and concentrated, but multi-layered and sophisticated!

5. Opinion:
A great and harmonious wine from a challenging vintage.
Superb fruit of enormous intensity and concentration packed in a solid structure of great future potential. While elegant, deep and complex, it might be lacking some finesse at the moment, but time will tell…
Yet, this is certainly among the best from Pomerol in 2001!