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.

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)

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 !

2009 Meursault Joseph Drouhin

Yellow lemon color.

Developed and intense nose, really oaky and still in need of some years to rest, with distinctive aromas of butter on a fresh toast, sprinkled with lemon confit and discreet quince.

Full bodied, fat and almost unctuous on the palate, oaky, with bright acidity and a medium plus finish with honey, vanilla, hot rocks and lemon like flavors in the aftertaste. Very good match for foie gras as we had it tonight. (90-91/100)