Friday, September 28, 2012

Calling all Caillou

The 2010 vintage in the Rhone is being lauded as a great one and the First-Aid Man put on a range from Le Clos du Caillou to taste.  It was a calling that couldn’t be turned down.    Sylvie Pouizin runs this domaine based at Courthezon at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and she does it well.  I had the chance to sit down with them and take my time, trying to identify the differences.  And they were all very different.

Four Cotes du Rhone wines were on the agenda first.  A very good warm-up to some more serious wines possibly?  The first wine up was a 2001 Clos du Caillou CDR, from a vintage that was affected by rain.  Good all the same, with ripe Grenache raspberries and plums and really quite accessible now.  Of course, a step up was the 2010 Clos du Caillou ‘Bouquet des Garrigues’ CDR.  Riper and sweeter, showing the vintage, darker fruit flavours, but a hint of horsey brett sneaking in an appearance.  A hot year, high sugars and all that jazz makes it more likely that it’ll rear its head.  Another step up, and considerably so was the 2010 Clos du Caillou ‘Les Quartz’ CDR.  Rich and juicy, bolder in exotic fruit sweetness, and loads of fine textures and grip.  The label is out there too, matching the wine.  This is from a Chateauneuf vineyard, I believe.  The top of the line for the estate is the 2010 Le Clos du Caillou ‘Reserve’ CDR.  Tight, refined and classy in structure and proportion, but with the extract to go the distance that any top Chateauneuf might go.  This called to me, and I came along for the ride.

With the brilliant showing by the top two Cotes du Rhone, what could the real thing, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, offer?  For starters, fuller fruit, ripe fruit, more layers of interest.  Then greater extract and structure.  Yes, a step up in providing the complete experience.  The 2010 Le Clos du Caillou ‘Les Safres’ CNP is a traditional number, with a robustness and savoury, earthy complexity, making it a complete wine in its own right.  Like the CDR, the 2010 Domaine du Caillou ‘Les Quartz’ CNP is exotic, fleshy, modern and a statement in bold, sweet, ripe fruit.  Over-ripe maybe, and a little too alcoholic, but sheer decadence needing no justification.  Then the 2010 Le Clos du Caillou ‘Reserve’ CNP, with great extraction allied to super refinement.  This has the style to go a couple of decades if necessary.  It’s only concession to the world would be noticeable oak spicing.  The New World influence creeping in?  I’d like to think it’ll dissipate with time. 

These are all worthy modern Rhones from a great year.  Better than the softer, broader 2009s, rather like the situation in Burgundy?  My take is that it’ll be great to compare 2009 and 2010 together.  It’s your call, but you can’t go wrong.  Thanks First Aid Man!    

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Italians on Steroids

With all the hassle that our Kiwi Gal Val had at the five ring circus, steroids are not a popular topic.  But some supercharged Italian wines that came my way can be deemed to be wines on steroids.  The venerable Soave-based firm of Bolla is better known for their easy-drinking, correct wines.  But they’ve been pioneers at pushing Valpolicella beyond the norm. 

The 2010 Bolla ‘La Poiane’ Valpolicella Ripasso is indeed a powerful, inky, black beast, packed with intense black fruits, black herbs and black vegetables.  It’s still table wine, even at over 15.0% alc., and an approachable, if gutsy number.  While it’s big, there's a fine-tannin feel about it, and it all works well.  Fermented on the skins of Amarone, it has picked up the character. 
Then a 2007 Bolla Amarone della Valpolicella.  Intriguingly quite elegant and ethereal, even.  Waves of spices and cedar, with red fruits, game and some volatility.  Most of the Amarone wines I’ve tasted are bigger in size and flavour, almost ‘out-there’, and often quite soupy from their concentration from drying the grapes.  This is more the classy and subtle style which is a valid expression, and far more friendly for the dinner table. 
They say these are meditation wines, and thinking about them, I’ve give them both gold medals, well deserved, just like Val.    

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


To celebrate Pop things, The Chairman opened a bottle of NV Veuve Clicquot ‘Cuvee Saint Petersbourg’ Champagne, he acquired Duty Free.  Sold from Australia, I understand this to be a private cuvee for  the Russian market, given an extra year of age.  Whether it’s on lees or on cork, I don’t know, but I suspect from the way it tasted it was the latter.  A little more toasty-earthiness to the bready autolysis and a little more breadth than usual.  The cork had compressed a tad, but out it went – Pop!

 It was my shout next and with The Young One and The Youngette One, it was Pop’s shout, a 2007 von Kesselstatt Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese.  Still young and floral with honeysuckle notes, this was carried a little by the sugar.  It had the sweetness of a spatlese for sure, and also the weight, and it too was a treat.

The P-Prince popped out a couple of interesting wines too.  Pinot Noir with a connection and a difference.  A 2009 Cristom ‘Mount Jefferson Cuvee’ Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon, in the red fruit spectrum with red floral fragrances developing a little secondary undergrowth touch, and not totally clean.  This has over 30% whole bunch, but you wouldn’t know it, as it was supple and aromatic rather than into the complexing layers of herb, stalk and structure.  The last one I had was more pure and fine.  

Its comparison stablemate was a 2010 Farrside by Gary Farr Geelong Pinot Noir.  At least 50% whole bunch and it was clear.  Plenty of grip and substance, but still with sweetness of fruit.  Better and more finesse than a 2009 I had a little while ago.  There’s some serious stuff going on here and it worked well, with primary fruit a joy.

These latter two ines are made by those who are regarded as the more serious Pinot Noir producers in their respective countries by many, the fathers or Pops of the style.