Saturday, December 31, 2016

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- Part II: 2015 Whites Tasted from Bottle and Cask and Tank Samples

I described vintage conditions in the previous post on Bouchard’s red wines

This tasting was my first in-depth encounter with the whites of the vintage. In fall of 2015, most (but not all) white producers were not especially enthusiastic about the vintage. But the wines developed well in cask and did not display the heaviness and overripeness that had been feared. While it is not a vintage to match 2014 in white, the wines do show their terroirs well and do not have the heaviness that one sometimes encounters in 2012 and 2009. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, December 30, 2016

BOUCHARD Père & Fils (Beaune) -- Part I: 2015 Reds Tasted from Cask and Tank Samples

Cellarmaster Frédéric Weber’s recounting of the vintage was in line with what others told me. Just to repeat, he said that the winter was rainy and warm, permitting the soils to be worked. The flowering was quite rapid, but cold nights wound up reducing quantity by 30-35%. The summer was warm and dry, with rain coming every time it was really needed. The oïdium in July was plentiful, requiring prompt attention, and there was a lot of sunburn of the grapes, so no leaf-pulling. August was fairly normal, and the rain at the end of August, just when it was most needed to allow continued maturation, made the vintage. Harvesting began on 2 September in Volnay and lasted roughly a week. 

Wines marked with an asterisk (*) are Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, that is, from Bouchard’s own vineyards. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Domaine de la POUSSE D'OR (Volnay) -- 2015s from Tank Part II: Côte de Nuits

As with the Côte de Beaune wines, 2015 is a great vintage on the Nuits side for this outstanding estate. Also as on the Côte de Beaune, the frost in 2016 severely hit the Côte de Nuits vineyards here (Clos de la Roche is an exception). As I mentioned in the previous review, this is an estate that follows biodynamic practices. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Domaine de la POUSSE D'OR (Volnay) -- 2015s from Tank, Part I: Côte de Beaune

Hubert Rossignol, chef de culture, said that yields overall in 2015 were “average” — a fortunate rarity in the Côte d’Or in 2015. As usual, wines here are entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished between May and August. The alcohols for the Côte de Beaune wines “flirt" with 13º except fro the Cortons, which are at 13.5º. 

The estate is organic and biodynamic.

As you can see below the results are outstanding, and that will continue with my next report, on the Pousse d’Or 2015s from the Côte de Nuits. (Continue reading here.) 

Domaine ROLLIN Père & Fils (Pernand-Vergelesses): 2014s Tasted from Bottle

My review of Rollin’s 2014’s from bottle and tank based on tasting in November 2015 is here. 2014, as I’ve been saying all along, is a great vintage in white, but as you can see here, the reds, when from a good source such as Rollin, are also of excellent quality. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Domaine ROLLIN Père & Fils (Pernand-Vergelesses): 2015s from Bottle and Tank

Smart Burgundy buyers know this as an excellent, underrated source in white, but even more so in red. This is an outstanding source for the wines of Pernand-Vergelesses and one where the wines continue to improve for quite a while after bottling.

As usual here, the grapes are entirely destemmed. Malolactic fermentations finished in May and June. As you will see, some wines were already in bottle, the remaining ones were to be bottled in December and January.

We start here with the reds: (Continue reading here;)

Recently Tasted Reds from Provence and Southern Rhône: Chateau Bas/Blanquet, Chateau Barthes, Clos Cibonne, Domaine de l'Hermitage, Richaud, Tempier

I’m not a great fan of Grenache, the major grape in much of the south of France, but still, overripeness is a problem, regardless, in recent vintages. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Domaine Pierre GUILLEMOT (Savigny-les-Beaune): 2015s Tasted from Bottle and Cask

As readers may know, frosts and then oïdium greatly reduced crop yields in some — but not all — villages in 2016. No village was hit harder than Savigny-les-Beaune. Vincent Guillemot said his 2016 crop is about 20% of normal — this after very reduced yields for almost every vintage after 2009. As a result, the estate will be selling its wines more slowly than in the past in order to provide a more consistent cash flow. Consequently, you may not see 2015s offered at the usual time.

Although the quality of the grapes was excellent, quantity was only half of normal due to the small grapes. Malolactic fermentations were very slow, and as you will see, there were malos still underway when I tasted in October.  In 2015 (and in 2016), all the wines are with whole clusters. As usual, one can get some very good values for Burgundy here. (Continue reading here.)

Recent Southwest France Reds: Cosse et Maisonneuve, Château Gaudou, Château La Grave/Bernède, Plageoles

It’s not always easy to locate the best producers of wines from the Southwest of France (other than Bordeaux, of course), but they can present some of the keenest values around today. Here’s a selection of the best reds I’ve come across over the last few months. Obviously, for me, Plageoles is the leader, but there certainly are other estates worth seeking out, indeed, far more than I’ve done with my occasional samplings.

Earlier reviews of wines from the region are here and here. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2015 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Tasted from Barrel

Normally, I taste the wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in my last week of tasting, when I already have a very good idea of the vintage’s styles and possibilities. However, that was not the case this year; indeed, my very first visit of my four-week October-November visit in Burgundy was at the Domaine.

As explained elsewhere in my commentaries on the 2015 vintage in general, everything went about as well as possible in the vineyards. After the rapid and uniform flowering, Aubert de Villaine in his annual report on the vintage wrote that over the summer, the vines “liked the dry weather in 2015. The July heat waves stopped their evolution at least twice, but each time these were counterbalanced by stormy episodes that brought the needed humidity. As a result, the evolution of the vineyards was nearly ideal and thanks to these exceptional weather conditions, 2015 was a rather easy vintage for the vigneron. We could always intervene in the right place at the right moment, whatever the work to be done: compost supply, manual work, work for the oil or phytosanitary treatments.” 

He did note the challenge of oïdium, as the sulphur compound that the Domaine uses to combat the fungus loses its effectiveness above 30º C (86º F), a threshold frequently crossed in 2015, but in the end, the threat did not materialize. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Further Observations of 2015 Red Wines in Burgundy

Still trying to get everything together following recent events. There should be a lot more postings coming in the near future.

Looking back at my November 2 posting on 2015 Burgundies and supplementing it with observations from the remainder of my tastings in Burgundy, a few additional comments: (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2015 Burgundies: A Preliminary Report from the Cellars

I have been tasting 2015 Burgundies for more than a week (and shall continue to taste them through November 18). I have tasted wines from every commune from Santenay in the south to Marsannay in the north except Ladoix and also some wines from the Côte Chalonnaise. The estates I’ve visited range from some of the most famous names in Burgundy to smaller, less well-known estates of high quality. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2015 Nahe Riesling Grosses Gewächs Part II: Dönnhoff

2015 is yet another great year at Dönnhoff, but it is particularly notable for this collection of four great GGs (and there are other outstanding dry wines that I shall review later), making for one of the most stunning collections of dry Riesling I’ve ever encountered. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

2015 Nahe Riesling Grosses Gewächs Part I: Schäefer-Fröhlich

When I tasted the Nahe GG’s at the Wiesbaden tasting, the wines were too warm and I could not accurately judge them. Fortunately, I followed up the tasting with visits to a number of the producers: Schäfer-Fröhlich, Dönnhoff, Schlossgut Diel, and Gut Hermannsberg. I will present notes on their GG’s in the next few posts, and then in later posts will review all of their wines that I tasted on the visits. Unfortunately, I will not be able to review the GG’s of other Nahe producers that I did not have time to visit. (Continue reading here.) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2015 Rheinhessen Riesling Grosses Gewächs Part II -- Westhofen and Dalsheim: Groebe, Gutzler, Keller, and Wittmann

Here we are at the heart of some of the greatest vineyards in Germany with wines produced by some of the elite producers. As I’ve said many times, the Rheinhessen for some time now has been the most exciting region in Germany, and no producers are more thrilling than the trio of Groebe, Keller, and Wittmann — and Gutzler, too, has been coming on strong in recent vintages. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, September 30, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs Part VIII -- Grosskarlbach, Laumersheim, Dirmstein, Zell: Knipser and Kuhn

Here we leave the Haardt Mountains and move into a different terroir, one that really is the same as the southern Rheinhessen, where the border is immediate — the difference in region is an old political boundary. If one’s reference has been the vineyards up against the Haardt Mountains further south in the Pfalz, your immediate reaction to the flatter vineyards here is that this can’t be prime vineyard territory. But experiencing the wines, one immediately becomes convinced otherwise. (Continue reading here.) 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs Part VII -- Bad Dürkheim, Ungstein, and Kallstadt: Fitz-Ritter, Kuhn, Pfeffingen, Rings, Schaefer

Moving further north from Forst, we transition to different terroirs, but still highly successful wines. Around Dürkheim and Ungstein, the wines seem to have a Mosel-like element with a bit more lightness and finesse to them. The Saumagen in Kallstadt has long been known for the Koehler-Ruprecht wines, but with that estate having left the VDP, two other producers, one (Rings) new to the VDP, are producing very good Saumagen. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs and Equivalent Part VI -- Forst Freundstück, Jesuitengarten, and Kirchenstück: Acham-Magin, von Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, Mosbacher, Müller, and von Winning

The consensus view, mine included, is that Kirchenstück is the greatest vineyard in the Pfalz. And Jesuitengarten may well be the second greatest, although there is more room for debater there. And yet, except for Eugen Müller, these wines were good, but not dominating the way they normally would be. Tasted too early? That’s my guess, but we’ll have to wait and see. Several producers did not present their Kirchenstücks at the Wiesbaden tasting, notably, von Buhl, Mosbacher, and as with all their 2015s, Bürklin-Wolf. The Eugen Müller wines were not included in the GG tasting as the estate is not part of the VDP; I tasted them two days later at the estate in Forst. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs and Equivalent Part V -- Forst Pechstein: Acham-Magin, von Bassermann-Jordan, Müller, and von Winning

In this selection, it was Mosbacher and von Buhl that had wines that stumped me and seemed too early to be judged with any accuracy. As with all its GG's, Bürklin-Wolf did not submit its Pechstein, presumably holding them until next year. (Continue reading here.)

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs and Equivalent Part IV -- Forst Ungeheuer: Acham-Magin, von Buhl, Müller, and von Winning

In the previous post, I noted that Deidesheim is the Chambolle-Musigny of the Pfalz. With Forst, we are in the Vosne-Romanée of the Pfalz: wines that are a bit more powerful, round, and spicy, and at their top, often a bit more complete.

I found the Ungeheuers to be a mixed bag; those from von Bassermann-Jordan and Mosbacher, two of my preferred Pfalz producers, were so closed that I could not rate them. Bürklin-Wolf has (wisely) decided on extended aging an apparently will present its 2015s at next year’s GG tasting. As for the other Ungeheuer producers, what there was was excellent, but not necessarily better than the same wines from the previous few vintages.

I include the Spätlese trocken of Eugen Müller here — it corresponds to the GG, but Müller is not a VDP member (apparently the estate’s choice), so cannot show the wines at the GG tasting. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs Tasting Part III -- Deidesheim: von Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, Mosbacher, and von Winning

With Deidesheim, we are in what I call the Chambolle-Musigny of the Pfalz (with Forst being the Vosne-Romanée); the wines can have great finesse and tenderness. That said, I found the wines perhaps less prominent than in other vintages, perhaps due to the slow development of the 2015s, and there is one wine that I’m leaving out because I really did not know how to judge it at this stage. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

2015 Pfalz Riesling Grosses Gewächs Tasting Part II -- Gleisweiler to Ruppertsberg: Bergdolt-St Lamprecht, von Buhl, Christmann, Minges, and Müller-Catoir

No surprises here — these are all top notch producers. The one thing I would say, as I previously have mentioned, is that I expect the wines to improve and show still better next year than they are now. (Continue reading here.)

2015 Pfalz Grosses Gewächs Tasting Part I: South Pfalz -- Kranz, Münzberg, Rebholz, Siegrist, and Dr. Wehrheim

Many of my colleagues came away from the Wiesbaden Grosses Gewächs preview with a less favorable view than I of the Pfalz Rieslings; I think this may be due to the fact that I tasted the wines in the morning, when they were cold, and many of my colleagues tasted them in the afternoon when they were warmer. 

At any rate, here are the wines that stood out for me in the southern part of the Pfalz: (Continue reading here)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

2015 in Germany -- Preliminary Evaluation of the Vintage

At this point, I feel that I have tasted a enough wines that I can make a preliminary assessment of the 2015 vintage in Germany. This assessment is based on two full and two half days of tasting Grosses Gewächs (GG) wines, generally the top dry wines of many of the producers in the prestigious VDP wine organization (a group that includes many, but not all, of Germany’s top wine estates). Additionally, I supplemented those tastings by visits to producers in the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, and Nahe (Mosel, Ruwer, and Saar visits come in the next two days). On those visits, I retasted each producer’s GGs,  also tasted the producer’s other dry and non-dry wines, and discussed the wines with the producer. (Continue reading here.)