When I arrived in Portland in March, first stop was food and Jason Lett, Lisa Donoughe and I went to Clyde Common for a fantastic (though) loud lunch. Jason pulled this wine out of his bag.
and asked if I was I up for an experiment.
This is the one Tissot wine that I really like. The poulsard is quite pure, rosy, and yet is extremely dancey on the palate with a great precise point of view. The others just seem to messed with to me, whether it's stirring the lees or whatever. But this one? Like lots.
Jason Lett, that's the Eyrie Vineyard Lett and if you haven't had his wines, you should correct that now, and I have been having this sulfur in wine conversation for a few years. It is an ideal to make wine without Sulfur but...but....ideally....but will the results be delicious? This poulsard is delicious. And ever curious, Jason wanted to find out if Tissot wasn't pulling that old hanky panky wool over our palates and slipped an SO2 pellet into the wine while no one was looking. A fellow cynic!
Alice gets a lab lesson
Flashing the Tannins and Black Teeth
Tissot Doesn't Lie, and the world is a happier place.
Eric Texier, master genius and all round great guy, is one of the best treats for me at the Dressner tasting--especially the conversations @ Ten Bells in the evening.
The night was getting late, two Italians super star winemakers, one north and one south were eagerly soul searching each other's mouths at the west side of the bar, ( Rene Barbier & Sara Perez, move over) while I wrenched my eyes so I could talk sulfur and carbonic maceration with Texier. Damn, I admit, it was almost as exciting. (It wasn't that I'm such a voyeur, but this could be the beginning of a new natural wine dynasty!)
There will be more coming on this (not Them but This) when I go to visit Eric in June. I'll tape him and talk and get to the botton of the 'sameness' of the carbonic effect has been something I've been chewing over for years now. The technique can make a nice vin de soif, but it seems so often to reduce expression of terroir.
According to Eric there is a connection between sulfur and the use of the carbonic (methode Chauvet) and it's effect on acidity, pH and stability and instability, and all I can say is watch this space for more. I'm no scientist but I just wonder about carbonic maceration's effect on natural occurring sulfur.
Big Sulfur Bomb Alert!
Eric leaned in closer across the narrow 10 Bells table and told me that he's been obsessively testing supposedly unsulfured wines. His finding? Many, including some of the noted 'hard core' actually are not unsulfured. The disclosure in our world is on the magnitude of Enron. This is a little unsettling because some of the names he dropped seemed so unstable, why else if not unsulfured. And that loose puppy-breath type of reduction?
According to Eric, which one was unsulfured? Truly?
"Maule," Eric said.
And I have another one! Domaine Andre et Mireille (Stephane Tissot) Sans Soufre.
(stay tuned for the S02 adventures)
Every chapter of The Battle was supposed to start with Parker review, this was back when Parker wrote all of those hormonal busting wine blips and the language was as fat and purple and alcoholic as a 2007 Parkerized Chateauneuf. My idea--while a fun and good-humored roast-- didn't make it past Harcourt legal. Sniff.
Then, yesterday, I was alerted to this review, snapped off the DeMaisonSelections website, from Dr. JM'S Spain 2010: Let the Good Times (Rock 'n) Roll. Wow! What fun! I figured, all was fair in love and war....it was just too good not to share.
2006 Hermanos Sastre [Vina Sastre] Pesus
Ribera Del Duero, Castilla Leon, Spain
$750 (not $17.50, no5 $7.50, not $75.00 but $750?)
The flagship 2006 Pesus comes from a small parcel of 82-year-old Tempranillo vines blended with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. After fermentation in a special stainless steel tank,
(HOW SPECIAL ARE THEY? LIKE ESPECIAL? YOU KNOW IN THE FRENCH WAY, WHEN THEY ARE REFERRING TO SOMEWHAT UNFORTUNATE? OR SPECIAL WITH MACRO OXYGENATION OR??)
the wine was transferred into new French oak. It was racked further into new oak three times
(WAIT! RACKED FOUR TIMES INTO FRESH AND NEW AND VANILLAED NEW OAK? TWICE A YEAR? FOR TWO YEARS?)
and aged for a total of 24 months in barrel. Purple/black in color,
(NOW THAT"S A NATURAL COLOR, HOW MUCH PV & CAB? PUMP IT UP BABY!)
(DR. JM SNAPPED UP THIS WORD, EMIT, FROM HIS BOSS) an aromatic array of sandalwood, pencil lead, (PENCIL LEAD AS AROMATIC? SEND THE BOY BACK TO 101)
Asian spices, incense, truffle, tar, licorice, black cherry, and blackberry.
(TEMPRANILLO DESCRIPTORS IF I EVER HEARD THEM)
Dense, rich, loaded,
(AIMED AND ARMED)
(ENOUGH FOR A MAGNUM XL?)
it will continue unwinding for a decade and offer a drinking window extending from 2017 to 2036, probably longer.
(I GUESS SO. ALONG WITH GIRTH.)
Vina Sastre is a benchmark estate in Ribera del Duero. It is committed to organic farming and biodynamic principles with the wines naturally made
(LET'S SEE, ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC, NATURAL, WHAT OTHER BUZZ WORDS COULD THEY GET IN THERE? I'M WAITING! BRING ON FUKUOKA!)
and bottled without fining or filtration.
( I SEE, FINALLY THE DEFINITION OF NATURAL WINE, NOT FINED OR FILTERED. REVELATION)
Score 98 -J.M. (WA #188, Apr 2010)
For some reason this post has created a bit of a stir, so much so that readership tripled last night, and mostly in from the WineBeserker site where I think there's some Alice bashing going on. I'm not sure people would do this if I were a guy, but that's besides the point. I've also received some off the record emails from folk in the industry. This one was particularly of interest to me, because the man, an importer who of course shows his wines to the WA staff absolutely understood the meaning.
I like to blog, throw my thoughts out but often because I do have work to do, things that pay the bills, I don't have the time to make sure my meaning in the blogs are iron clad. I like to leave room for the dialogue, to hear what you guys think. The downside of that is the rampant assault and twisting of my meaning. Unfortunate. Surprising. But there you go.
So, below is the cut & pasted email. And I thank him.
The point for me wasn't that there was a wine out there that actually is racked three times into new oak and is fermented in 'special' tanks. No. The point for me (and I think for you) is that there is an important wine critic out there who accepts anything that the winery or the importer tells him as the truth. This business about 'committed to organic farming and biodynamic principles with the wines naturally made' sounds suspiciously like someone who doesn't understand the differences in these things and for whom these concepts are buzz words. The 'special tanks' thing is a most egregious example of writing down something that the importer tells you without any follow-up or context.
Here is how this conversation would have gone if I trotted this out with one critic I greatly respectt:
Y: This Sancere is fermented in a special tank.
D: What kind of special tank?
Y: A stainless steel tank.
D: But what makes it special?
Y: Well, it's bigger than most. It's made in Austria. The guy who forged it lost one of his toes in a machinery accident.
D: So what does that add to the wine?
Y: There is less contact with the lees.
His tasting note: 'this wine is fermented in tank.'
What you said needed to have been said.
The Portlan Indie Festival is staged this coming weekend. The fest was by Lisa Donoughe (and a friend) who had the idea to give a little help to the little guy; wineries and winemakers too small to get into other exhibitions, and it's worked. Lisa's lemonade stand fesetival kick off plenty of new and exciting names in the Oregon wine world.
No! That's not Oregon, I'm just kidding you! Oregon mostly irrigates--so where is this? (Clue, most of this place irrigates as well, but just not this vineyard)
I was there in March to help judge the wines for presentation. These aren't scored, just judged to see which wines should be shown. As a judge, we did not taste all the wines, just those assigned to out panels. I'm sure I missed out on a wide assortment of goods. But here are some impressions from my modest sampling of sixty wines.
#1- 2007 was a hard year to mess up for pinot--at least that's what I thought for the first flight!
#2- Except for the exception (such as Eyrie Vineyards who can do no wrong) many just do not know what to do with pinot gris.
#3- By the second flight, I found plenty of folk who messed up in 2007, with lovely aromas of sauerkraut and the like.
#4--I think that malbec does well in the south! Here, here Rogue Valley!
I have not done my research so I don't know for sure how the wines that I liked were made or anything about them--ROified, acidified, enzymaticized or dustified. as I wanted to show them to you (and to me) without prejudice, merely based on the tasting.
Should you head to Portland and taste this weekend, visit my favorites and let me know what you think.
* Vitae Springs Vineyard: pinot noir
V. pretty nose. Some warmth and florality. Kinda yummy. Nice acidity. Rosy. Tarry. And a definite lack of concentration which seems right to me!
*Ribera Vineyards, Stormy Mtn. Vineyard: pinot noir
Quiet nose, which I appreciated. Honeysuckle. Cedar. A little flat on the finish, but big deal.
*Dukes Family Vineyard Alyssa: pinot noir
Ink. Water. Rose. Kltzy. Minty-menthol and someone underipe spice. But, it all picks up on the finish! It sneaks under the finish line!
Flight two---was awful---a flight of 2007s...so much for not being able to mess up a vintage!
*Cubanisimo Vineyards 2008: pinot noir
Money! It smells like money! Felt well made, but to me somewhat uninspired, calibrated and schooled. Not my thing, but on the other hand, not bad. Outside of my palate, but know quite a few people who would like it.
*Gresser Vineyard 2008: pinot noir
Might have been my second favorite. Quiet. Great acidity. Long length and salty! This needs some time to balance itself.
*Luminous Hills: 200 pinot noir
This got my highest marks for queen ann cherry that starts on the nose and carries through on the palate with an inkwell finish.
*Seven Bridges --08 red blend: merlot & malbec
Licorice, balance, earth, fruit, hot, hot finish but has interest.
What did I love @ the LDM, Louis/Dressner tasting?
Well, the wines! Mr. Dressner, while looking fine, was not in the best of moods. He hung in there but I bet he was disappointed many of his vignerons were stuck behind the wall of volcanic ash and not on Lafayette Street. Then Obama was in town. Mr. O promised to show, but never did. He has no idea what he's missing. We could have set the White House right. Then because of the traffic, the food was stuck on the Brooklyn Bridge. But that was okay. We were more than well taken care of!
Jean-Paul Brun always has something surprising to show. And If you're looking for a great Cremant, he's got one.
Cremant de Bourgogne, NV--fizz and mineral. Totally refreshing. House sparkling stuff.
VDP Roussane '08! Charming. Charming. Charming.
for the '09 Beaujo?
Brouilly-- had lots of ground ivy and you know how I love that.
Chiroubles '09--velvet and easy on the eyes.
'07 Bouilly VV--this held my interest.
'07 Morgon VV--depth, the fruit is deep inside the texture.
'09 Rose alert! This is one for you. Sorry, anti-flavorites, there's plenty of it here.
Domaine de la Pepiere
I liked the '07 Granite de Clisson so much I went out and bought a magnum.
the '09 Clos des Briords was so ripe, it reminded me of Luneau-Papin
'08 Gras Moutons---now, that one was tart & angular. Like a feisty friend.
(what a great surprise. I had no idea he dodged the volcano)
It was a Puzelat day. Everything was shining. His '09's are brilliant.
'09 Touraine Blanc le P'tit Blanc--cheap and extremely cheerful. Yum.
'08 Bouisson Pouilleux-- If you're looking for a sauvignon blanc to shock--go for this. VA on the nose but plenty of thrill.
'09 Touraine Gamay La Butte--Atypical but terrific.Flesh, kirsch, brooding and a great and long finish.
'09 Cheverny Rouge--velvet, acid, pure delish.
From Bugey, such a nice gu.
'08 Rousette de Bugey Altesse---dusty lemons in campania
Can't wait to visit him in June
'09 Fukuoka--he uses 27 grapes in this one, kind of like the Hearty Burgundy of old. Anti-flavor alert.
'07 Chateauneuf blanc--the world's only refreshing CnP Blanc. melon and lemon
'07 Brezeme Rouge VV domaine de pergault
Best overheard statement after a guest tasted the '07 Chateauneuf -du-pape
"That is spectacular' the guest said after he spit.
The wine was big, it was '07. As the man walked away and Eric said, "It may be spectacular, but I don't like it."
Bera Vittorio& Figli
I love these wines, the Moscato d'asti is so damned delicate
'06 Dolcetto--needs time.
'07 Barbera d;Asti Ronco Malo, like a red lemon sauce with spark.
Maule, La Biancara
'09 Veneto Bianco Masierie---damn those notes, garganega and plenty of stars.
But the CRAZIEST wine for me for the day was the '08 Rosso Masieri --merlot. Cigarette ash and plum? Crazy.
In one of those silly moments, I passed up the Roagna, I barely tasted at Radikon. You see, I see others taking intense notes on all of the wines, and with a little more Virgo in my chart, I would too. But I did finish up with some of Francesca Padovani's pretty, pretty wines from Tuscany. Go for the
;04 Brunello --with it's rustic, spicy, grippiness.
Arianni Occhipintii? Everyone's darling! New vintages step up to the plate. Like the '09 SP 68--this has got a month maceration and it is a very lush and meaty wine. Then the '07 Frappato--getting better every minute ,edge, cherry, tar---and two months of maceration.
The food finally arrived, Obama didn't. I left. And promised to return that night to Ten Bells.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.
And, if you'd like a signed copy, feel free to contact me directly.