2007 Marcel Deiss Gewurtztraminer

Established after World War II, Domaine Marcel Deiss currently consists of about 26 ha spread over numerous sites. After a number of years working organically, Deiss went bio-dynamic in 1998. Deiss believes strongly in terroir and, although varietal wines, are the rule in Alsace, he makes field blends of different varieties from the top vineyard sites in accordance with an older tradition. In the winery, the grapes are pressed slowly using whole bunches. Because no nitrogen is put on to the vines, fermentation can take anything between three weeks to a year to complete. At the end the wine is cooled and a little sulfur dioxide is added.

I actually met Mr Jean Michel Deiss, the person in charge of the domain now, and his son, also involved in the business, during my visit to Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux.

2007 Marcell Deiss Gewurtztraminer

Gold color. The nose is intense and very sweet, with plenty of aromas of lychee, rose petals, stone fruits, citric fruit and Asian spices. Full bodied, lush and almost unctuous on the palate, this combines sweetness, minerality and high acidity, feeling lively, balanced, fresh and profound. The finish is medium to long with mouth-watering acidity and lingering flavors. 14% alc. (89/100)

Certainly the most concentrated and the best Gewurtztraminer I had so far.

1999 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Domaine Tortochot

As the winter starts to make its move this evening, I felt a need to indulge myself in some special food and wine. It was a good time to cook some quails that I had in the freezer – bought them from Carrefour, and to pop up a Burgundian Grand Cru with some age.  The quails were stuffed with chicken liver, mushrooms and some herbs, and cooked in the oven for about 40 minutes, just enough time to have the meat pink inside.

I popped up a 1999 Charmes-Chambertin from Tortochot and left it to breathe for about 45 minutes in the bottle and used a Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Gran Cru stemware to do the rest. The wine breathes youthfulness from the first whiff after uncorking.

Charmes-Chambertin is one of the 8th Grand Cru vineyards of Gevery-Chambertin in the Cote de Nuits and also, at 31.6 ha, it is the largest Grand Cru of Gevrey. A good Charmes is one of Gevrey-Chambertin’s most seductive and fragrant wines when young.

1999 Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Domaine Tortochot

A youthful, medium dark red color and the color gets darker as the wine breathes. The nose is fully developed, but still youthful, with good complexity. There is a mix of red fruits: strawberry is the most dominant, earth, game, pleasant cinnamon that increases the light sweetness, and subtle forest floor and mushrooms. Really nice nose. Medium to full body, extremely youthful and vibrant, with bright acidity and an absolute silky mouth-feel. On the palate, it is elegant, subtle, but more than anything, this is a lively wine. The finish is long, with amazing freshness, great drink-ability and a charming mix of subtle red fruit and pronounced coffee bean bitterness that is just seducing. Loved it. (92-93/100)

If all days would be like this.

2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

It’s been a while since my last 2004 Pegau Cuvee Reservee almost one year ago. This is a blend of 80% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre and 5% other grapes, all coming from old vines.

2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

Deep, almost opaque dark red color. The nose is well developed, rich, complex and very intense. There are aromas of truffles, smoke, meat, ink, smoked plum, coffee bean, roasted herbs, red fruit jam, but very fresh as the fruity aromas are in the background. Full bodied and very rich on the palate, with silky tannins and very pleasant mouth-feel, this wine is the quintessence of balance and freshness that it is so rare to find in modern Chateauneuf du pape wines. The finish is long and intense, the lingering flavors and the beautiful freshness seduce you instantly and drive you to want more. (94/100)

It was a great companion to Indian food and due to its freshness it can be a great drink on its own. 14% alcohol.

2000 Chateau Soutard Saint Emilion

Dark red garnet color with minimal signs of evolution. The nose is well developed and intense, the dominating truffles aromas fill the room and can easily be felt without even approaching the nose to the glass. Full bodied but supple in the mouth, the wine has enough structure to ensure a good life ahead, while the tannins remain silky. The finish is medium plus long, with pleasant earthiness, graphite, subtle red and black fruit, remaining fresh and extremely drinkable. (89-90/100)

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee and a Spanish Cava

Before going to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in a particular place, we joined our friends for a couple of bubbles and some assorting food. We had some Bellota Iberian Ham, some Spanish assortment of cheeses and a small jar of Russian Beluga Caviar. By far the Caviar and the Bellota were the best match for Bollinger.

Dom Potier Cava Gozalez Byass

Pale light yellow lemon color with small bubbles. Fresh nose of medium intensity, with plenty of citric fruit and marzipan, while on the palate is clean. The finish is medium with pleasant intensity. (83-84/100)

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee N.V.

The richness of this Champagne can be immediately guessed simply by the intensity of its color. Deeper yellow lemon color with smoother and richer bubbles. The nose is elegant, with plenty of fresh citric fruits, baked apple, spices, mixed with shades of salty and nutty aromas, while in the mouth the wine is creamy and rich on the palate, the bubbles just add more spark to his remarkable vinous character. A medium plus finish with great wet stone like minerality and mouth-watering acidity make this an extremely easy to drink Champagne. (89-90/100)

The Caviar’s saltiness and the Bellota’s nuttiness were greatly matched by the richness and the corresponding Bollinger flavors. One of the best N.V. Champagnes in my opinion.

1989 Chateau Malescot Saint Exupery Margaux

I am no fan of decanting wines, especially older, delicate ones and I see this mandatory in seldom cases. However, this wine had to be given more air in order to completely open up. The cork is very long and there is really no problem for similar bottles to resist a generous amount of years further. So unless you are troubled about the fill level, the cork can safely preserve the content.

1989 Chateau Malescot Saint Exupery – Margaux

Deep dark red garnet color, extremely youthful for its age. The nose is initially shy and gives very little, the only thing dominating is a strong pickled cabbage like aroma, but after about 1 h in a decanter kept outside, in winter cold, the nose changes considerably, still maintaining a whiff of cabbage, but opening up and exhibiting typical Margaux aromatics. The wine seems that has lost all its primary fruity aromas initially, but with aeration, subtle red fruit emerges: red currant and sour red cherry, mixed with a lot of smoke, graphite, earth and tobacco, building a charming nose. The wine still posses a firm and healthy tannins structure, that suggests further aging potential, however, the complexity is medium and the wine seems to be somehow closed on the palate. The finish is medium plus long, with good freshness and flavors of graphite and cigar ash in the aftertaste. (89/100)

2008 Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc

Decanted the wine for about 45 minutes and it was a smart move to do as it increased its aromatics considerably. Served the wine next to a dish I enjoyed a lot during my lunch with Mrs Raffaella Bologna while visiting Braida in Rochetta Tanaro in Asti: grilled bell peppers with anchovies, a simple but absolutely delicious dish.

2008 Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc

Deep yellow lemon color. The nose gained in intensity with decanting and the initial tropical fruits and Asian spices aromas only showed themselves better. Full bodied and rich on the palate, the wine maintains freshness while the strong flavors remind of apricot, tropical fruit and spices. There is a medium plus finish with subtle citric fruit in the aftertaste. (90/100)

Year end reflections – highlights of 2011

Looking back at what 2011 meant for me, from a wine related perspective, I can only be grateful and cherish all those special moments I lived visiting exciting places, attending interesting wine tastings and meeting amazing people in Romania and abroad.

I visited 15 wineries in 4 wine regions from 2 different countries – France and Italy, plus the 7-8 visits to Romanian wineries(Lacerta’s new winery is the most exciting of all with its modern design). I am looking forward to visit Avincis in 2012, as they also built a state of the art winery.

The wine trips started in April with a visit and a dinner at Masi in Veneto, then immediately followed by a weekend spent in Champagne where I could only visit Moet Chandon’s cellars, but also the small Grand and Premier Cru producing villages; in June I managed to visit 9 prestigious producers in Bordeaux – with emphasize on Petrus and the stunning lunch at Cheval Blanc, the others were: Ducru Beaucaillou, Figeac, Leoville Poyferre, Gloria, St-Pierre, Pontet Canet and Cos d’Estournel; in September I was impressed by the gorgeous landscape of Barolo while visiting Luciano Sandrone, Cavallotto and G.D. Vajra, and Braida in Asti area.

I attended two International wine fairs: Vinitaly in Italy in April and Vinexpo in Bordeaux in June that completely changed my perspective of what a wine fair experience should be and, sadly, also made me realize how far away we are from having a similar situation in Romania at this moment.

I visited the impressive cellars of two negociants: one in Bordeaux with over 4 Million bottles that is just like a Bank dealing with a different currency, sometimes more valuable, and one in Belgium that works strictly with rare and old vintages of both Burgundy and Bordeaux. It is always exciting for a wine geek to see piles of cases of the most sought after wines – Petrus, Romanee Conti or 100+ years old Yquem in one single place.

I attended several Wine-dinners in Bucharest with older vintages of Bordeaux and Spanish wines and, in December, I actually organized such an event myself. Always nice to meet new people having the same passion and I am certainly looking forward to repeat this experience in 2012 as often as possible.

I had a few articles published in the Romanian wine magazine Vinul.ro about my wine trips (here and here) and the investment in wine, the monthly wine recommendations, and also an interview structured as the portrait of a wine collector published by the Good Food magazine.

The number of wine events organized in Bucharest increased exponentially compared to 2010, ranging from launching of new local and imported wines, new wineries and verticals of several years organized by the very few producers that can do that. However, the most distinguished of all was the event organized by Le Manoir, where major International wineries had representatives showcasing their wines during dedicated seminars. It was a first to see La Spinetta, Ch Canon and Rauzan Segla, all Joseph Drouhin’s range of wines, Michel Rolland collection presented by his son in law, Michel Redde, Ch Laubade and some similar producers present in one single room in Bucharest. A similar event was organized later by the importer of Banfi wines, but at a much smaller scale.

While writing this article, I made an attempt to establish a top of the wines I had during this year, but it was impossible to do it. There were so many outstanding wines that it would take too much time to even try to make it. I started to enjoy more and more older vintages and I made a new year resolution to drink wines that are at least 4-5 years old. Ideally, starting from their 6-8th year from the vintage.

There is however one wine that I particularly enjoyed while having lunch at Cheval Blanc: the 1996 Chateau d’Yquem that, so far, is the best sweet wine I had. I am just glad that this year I had wines from 1966, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990 and a few more recent vintages. I can just hope that next year brings at least similar experiences.

To finish on the same note as the beginning of this article, I am grateful for all these experiences shared with special people and all those amazing wines I had.

Happy New Year and all the best to you dear Reader !

1998 Chateau Grand Mayne St-Emilion

1998 was a successful vintage on the Right Bank and some wines started to drink very well already.

1998 Chateau Grand Mayne Saint Emilion

Red garnet color, very youthful. A well developed nose with a pinch of old cellar and a mix between primary and secondary aromas, with nice aromas of dry plums, roasted coffee, dried herbs, cassis and tobacco. A supple wine, well structured, but still retained on the palate with mouth-watering acidity and a medium plus finish that breathes mocha, red fruits and tobacco. It has a great drink-ability and can easily go very well on its own. (89/100)