Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reversing Roles

An evening with The Prince and A-Prentice meant a lovely dinner in the works.  SWMBO gathered some high quality cheeses and nibbles and we saw the evening in with bubbles and in fine style.  Some local seafood patties with classy, modern Chardonnay, and then onto the main reason for the night, some lovely pan-seared lamb backstraps, new potatoes and fresh salad from the garden.  Two reasonably serious reds were lined up to match the lamb.  What else could one ask for?

First up the 2004 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello being the top expression of Sangiovese.  Fuligni is just a few kilometres out of Montalcino, in the highly prized northern district, and makes supremely elegant, floral and supple expressions.  2004 was a great year, but this bottling, not the Riserva should have been approaching some semblance of accessibility.  The finesse of tannins made it so, but as one sipped on it, the structure grew in prominence.  This has a concentrated, dense and intense core.  Gorgeously succulent fruit with dusty, savoury, leathery cherry fruit.  No bitterness, but great extract.  With the lamb, a stunner, as the protein absorbed the tannins.  A wow wine that unopened bottles could see another two decades easily.

Then the 2009 E. Pira di Chiara Boschis ‘Via Nuova’ Barolo.  The famous Pira firm run by dynamic Chiara Boschis.  Based in Cannubi, she’s expanded the estate and the ‘Via Nuova’ is a 6-vineyard blend rather than single vineyard.  Modern Nebbiolo for sure, but this should have been all about structure encasing the fruit.  But no, this was sweet-fruited and bold with it.  Sure, there are enough tannins to demonstrate its provenance, but it is delicious now.  The sweetness making the lamb even juicier, and the tannins melting away.  This behaved the way I thought the Brunello would, and vice versa.  The roles were reversed.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sabrage Sabotage

Sabrage, or chopping the top off a Champagne bottle was a neat trick I learned years ago, and it can make a party come to life.  Of course there are many stories about the origins and showmanship around, and it never fails to capture the imagination.  It’s something I have done many times, but in the last decade, I’ve refrained.  It can be dangerous – I’ve had a bottle explode in my hand.  Glass splinters can fly everywhere, but never into the bottle, so you can pour the remaining contents to drink without worry.  The waste is my problem nowadays, as I’d rather drink the contents rather than see it splashed out into the air.

The Young One and Jo-Lo presented a birthday bottle to SWMBO, NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin ‘Yellow Label’ Champagne.  In a fit of enthusiasm, sabrage was suggested.  Out came the sabre – well actually a heavy kitchen knife - off came the foil and wire cage.  Hmm, unusually, the seam on the bottle where to run the knife was very indistinct…but nevertheless, we gave it a go – with devastating results – the whole bottle shattered mid-point, rather than at the top.

Was the poor quality of the bottle the reason?  One of the thoughts that came up was ‘sur latte’, purchased wine to fulfil the growing needs for VCP.  The wine (that was remaining) tasted fine, but not as characterful as what we expected.  Could this have been a sur latte bottle?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ages and Ages

A housewarming is a good reason to open a bottle of Champers.  The Prince had moved into new digs, and mighty fine they are too.  A birthday is another time to hear the cork go ‘pop’.  And we had two, with The Prince and SWMBO celebrating another year starting.  And a new job makes a bottle of bubbles mandatory, with the A-Prentice doing new and better things.  A get-together also provides a reason for Champagne.  And we hadn’t got together properly for ages and ages – well a couple of months anyway.

The bottle of 1989 Veuve Clicquot ‘Trilennium Reserved’ Champagne made its appearance.  This had been kept in the depths of The Prince’s cellar for – ages and ages – since at least 1999.  It was a special cuvee to mark three centuries for Veuve Clicquot, and released to celebrate the clock ticking over to a new millennium.  About two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay with a very low dosage.  Plenty of time on lees to make it complex, no doubt.

The Prince had his concerns about the condition it could be in.  And sure enough, the deep golden colour and tightly compressed cork added to the worry.  On bouquet, quite tight and dense, brooding and unforthcoming, but gradually unveiling complex secondary and tertiary detail of nuts, toast, caramel and degraded yeast.  A heavy heart, showing Pinot Noir.  The palate the same, and very dry, almost firm, but no decrepit characters.  The more time it had in the glass, the more the acidity showed freshness to the mouthfeel and the greater the aged complexity.  This had a taste of cognac too, something I see rarely nowadays in Champagne, but certainly in days gone by.  And the flavours lingered, for ages and ages.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Gentle Sophistication

A lovely way to start the year off and also the celebrate a special day for SWMBO.  The new bottling of NV Charles Heidsieck Champagne 'Rosé Reserve' is a true delight, with its pale salmon pink colour and wonderful blend of aromas and flavours of red berry fruits, red florals and bready yeast.  The dosage is perfect, suggesting some sweetness, but the wine carries through dry on the palate.  Lovely harmony and just a sheer pleasure to sip on.

One harkens back to the even more serious renditions before the new, narrower neck, dumpier bottle shape that was introduced last year.  Daniel Thibault was given the directive to bring Charles Heidsieck back to prominence, and it’s something he did, his work carried on by Regis Camus.  There was a higher number of components, and indeed greater and more aggressive complexity and intricate detail.  The wine was simply a cut above its station and deserved near deluxe status.  I get the feel that what’s made now is a little gentler in its sophistication.  No complaints, just an observation…