Monday, 19 October 2009

Smith Haut Lafitte

Snuck away from work this afternoon to attend a tasting of Smith Haut Lafitte's wines over at the Bibendum head quarters. Both Florence and Daniel Cathiard, SHL's charming proprietors we're present though it was the effervescent Florence who did most of the chatting.
Smith Haut Lafitte is in Pessac Leognan, pretty much in the outskirts of Bordeaux, they've got excellent Gunzian gravel terroir and in the Cathiards, owners with the ambition to raise their estate into the top tier of Bordeaux wines.
Well, I ought to recant that, SHL blanc is already one of the top 3 white wines produced in the region, and up there with the best whites that France produces, age worthy and complex.
SHL blanc 06 (90% Sauv Blanc, 5% Semillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris).
Creamy delicate Peach/Apricot fruit, some white flowers and a touch of some sweet herbs. On the palette it demonstrates how to do power with sublime creamy elegance, minerally but not austere and in possession of a wonderfully long finish.
(I might be able to find my notes on other vintages, more later...)
The red wine is classic Graves, almost always showing the flintiness that supposedly marks out the wines, and almost always displaying an enviable elegance.
Earlier in the year the 08 was one of my favorites of the 08's showing lovely weight, some fragrant blackcurrant fruit and just a touch of gravelliness.
03 - from the heatwave vintage is flinty, toasty and shows lots of shaved graphite pencil aromas, dark fruit (though still a bit fresh, no raisiny notes here), and the beginnings of secondary characters, a bit of tobacco a bit of forest floor. Though quite tannic there is a muscular brooding quality to the wine, and an almost haemoglobin like ironiness. The finish then starts to exhibit the cream and licorice notes that I expect to develop as it ages.
02 - a restaurant vintage, this was lighter, and the freshest of the three we tasted. A spot of farmyardy, flinty and undergrowth infused red currant fruit opens the nose, then, a rather gravelly palette leads on. The lightest of the SHL vintages on show, but it rather grew on me as we tasted the others.
00 - wine of the day, complex medocienne red berried fruit notes, lots of flinty gravel, some cedar wood/tobacco, a woody forest undergrowth character. This was a wine hitting it's drinking peak. Still with ripe red fruits, the tannins taking on an almost silken quality, but still very much in evidence, and a perfumed haunting sort of finish.
Once again, I really like SHL, and a great little primer for the Union de Grand Cru de Bordeaux 2007 tasting tomorrow.

Friday, 16 October 2009

DEux Montile whites

All 06 whites from the De Montile negotiant stable, DEux Montile, which I believe is overseen by the daughter (though a quick google check would probably tell me).
Montagny 1ere cru Les Coeres
Smoky bacon, fennel leaf, citrus and some mineral notes. Lovely subtlety and complexity. On the palette a lovely acidity that's tending towards some apricot flavours and turns a touch creamy on the finish.

St Romain
A much cooler bit of Burgundy this, and it's reflected in the .5% lower alc. Tighter more citrus and herbal nose, overlaying some unripe stone fruits. A hint of some lactic characters lead onto a very minerally palette, again showing a touch of cream on the finish.

Auxey-Duresses (under duress)
Quite floral, peach and creamy apricot fruit notes, minerally and angular on the palette, but with a slight void or hole where the alcohol is just a little bit visible.

Meursault 'Casse Tete'
As well as having the best name for a Meursault I've ever come across, this was very feminine and attractive. Tight, floral and pear like on the nose, there was just a suggestion of hazelnuts, (Gergely suggested green hazelnuts, which neither Toby nor I had ever come across so...). Again on the palette some cream though in this case the minerality lasted longer before it arrived.

Lovely wines, though as usual one feels that at the prices they're maybe too subtle to pop on a restaurant list. Ideal for home purchase though. All available from Genesis wines..

Eileen Hardy tasting with Bill Hardy:

After spending several hours traversing London (Leyton to Earls Court is a long way) we were upstairs at the Atlas Pub for a mini tasting of Eileen Hardy Shiraz and Chardonnay.

I think this was the first time I’d come across the Eileen Hardy wines, the flagship Shiraz and Chardonnay from the Hardy portfolios.

Released originally to celebrate Eileen Hardy’s 80th birthday in 1973 the wine proved so popular that it was made a yearly release, initially just being the best red wine the company could produce, before being pegged to the best Shiraz (Thomas Hardy is soon to be released as the best red wine of the year). A Chardonnay joined the fold in 87 as a Chardonnay.

Chatting with Bill was great fun, as he is a great conversationalist and took some time explaining the evolution of the styles of the wines, taking in the move to increasingly cool climate vineyards for the Chardonnay, from the Padthaway home of much of the early fruit through the Adelaide Hills, Thumbarumba, and currently Tasmania. Along with this the wine making has become less clean and technical, with fermentation and malo in the barrel, and less new oak.

This was all very evident in the difference between the 02, which was fully mature and showing loads of creamy, earthy overripe fruit and very obvious barrel notes, yet was starting to come apart.

Then jumping to the 04 which was the first vintage to have a majority of Tasmanian fruit, and consequently was much lither, showing a beautiful balance between ripe fruits, citrus, and mature barrique and batonnage characteristics.

The 05 and 06 both bade very well for the future with the 06 in particular showing a beautiful creaminess as it opened up on the palette.

As for the reds there was a rather odd truculence of character about the two middle wines with both the 98 (best vintage of the decade), and the 01 seeming very muted and closed, especially when contrasted with the exuberance of the 95 and 04.

The 04 was a joy to drink, being awash with a fabulous purity of ripe dark fruits, plums, violets, some menthol and eucalypt, but more of the herbaceous characters of youth. Then as a total contrast, and quite interesting lesson – we all need reminding as often as possible how wonderful Australian reds can be at over 10 years of age – the wonderfully complex 95, a slightly medicinal edge to the eucalypt, dark fruits, a slight leatheriness and a lovely sweet berry fruit palette that segues into a meaty savoury finish.

All that was left was for be to rant about the lack of appreciation for aged new world wines, before shooting off to Planet of the Grapes to get tipsy and set myself up for being late the next day…..

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Very Best

Quite excited about hearing the new album from The Very Best, Warm heart of Africa. Loved the mix tape released last year. Esau Mwamawaya and Radioclit.
Also new Vivian Girls album, much (legally purchased!) new music...

Round up of the today and yesterdays tweetnotes

Ch d'Angludet 95 - still bold, cederwood and dark berries, quite structured

Pichon Baron 97 - slightly earthy sweet berries, elegant with a redcurrant and sousbois medoc palette and pencil shaving finish. yum

Tignanello 01 meaty black tea scented sweet red berries, seemingly just relaxing into early mid age with big tannins swaddled in soft fruit

Catena Zapata Nicolas 05 - powerful liqorice and creamy dark fruits touch of raisins. Big big stuff (also just ordered some 01,02,03&04)

Dobogo tokaji aszu 6 puttonyas 04 still v v young all apricot peach bitter tangerine but with a slight salty mineral finish - fab

Jacques Prieur Musigny 01 - unfortunate infanticide..... But a nice leathery edge to the powerful fruit

en suite Pichon Comtesse 86 - sweet redcurrant and griotte jam, ripe and assertive

Gruaud Larose 85 - inredible nose of tobacco and sweet red berries, still v youthful and very long finish

Grand Village - Petit Bordeaux

Right, for the end of the night tasting we have a couple of entry level Bdxs from Armit, Grand Village blanc 07 and rouge 08.
Blanc first (5.48) - unappealing nose, lacking freshness with a sort of dirty edge. Good acidity and some citrus fruit. Come to think about it it might just be a bit sulphur retarded aromatically so trying the copper coin thingamybob. 12.5
Rouge (5.98) - simplistic dark fruit but noticeably Bordeaux (if you're thinking Bordeaux whilst tasting it as I am, possibly undermining the objectivity of the tasting here). Refreshing, a touch of balanced tannins and a pleasant finish. Not bad at the price.
Might take a few bottle of the red, it'd be £25 on the wine list, and would probably sit ok at that price.