Posts Tagged ‘Domaine du Closel’

Just a quick response and banter to the September 9th Wine Spectator article, “No Merlot di Montalcino : Brunello winemakers reject a plan to allow grapes other than Sangiovese in Rosso di Montalcino”. The gist of the article is that the local Consorzio rejected pressure from 30% of its growers to allow for a 15% non-Sangiovese blend in its Rosso di Montalcino. I posted a non-edited version of this article to the comments section of the Wine Spectator article …

I love history and terroir and maintaining a special niche for certain wines, but COME ON ! A debate over allowing just a 15% non-Sangio blend in the Rosso, the younger sibling to Brunello ? … Grow up Consorzio ! At the end of the day growers and vintners don’t JUST “do it” for passion and family. Winemaking is also a business and people need to maintain their livelihood. Giving producers more flexibility in vinification (and again, just a BIT more, not A LOT) would provide for more strategic maneuverability in the market and more options to stand out and separate their wines from the pack.

A lot of New World growing regions allow wines to be labelled Merlot, even with a 20% blend of other grapes, for example. Granted this might be a bad comparison and I’d air on transparency in this case and require that the “other” varietals be listed on the back label, which I believe is the case, although I could stand corrected.

In the end winemakers MAKE wine for it to be consumed right ? If there’s a drop in sales and a disinterested market, then let’s be progressive and creative and stir the pot a little (or vat and barrel rather), trying out some new recipes !

PS : Okay so this is just a very brief and rather generic counter to the Consorzio’s vote and the majority opinion of the local growers. What does the rest of the public have to say ? I’ll kick-start the counter to my arguments with a very interesting August 31st article on JancisRobinson.com, “Keep Rosso di Montalcino pure!”, including a letter to the Consorzio from Nicolas Belfrage MW, urging against allowing the 15% non-Sangiovese blend.

PPS : And just to admit that I’m a total hypocrite, I worked in business development (just a quick 6-month contract) for Domaine du Closel, a Savennières producer of the Clos du Papillon, Loire Valley Grand Cru and a representation of Chenin Blanc at its pure state of hedonistic perfection ! How’s that for objectivity ?! 😉 I can’t say that I’d support even an ounce of blending in these wines. It’d be sacrilegious ! So do I have any argument against my hypocrisy ? Not really although wait I think I do ! I guess the key difference is that Clos du Papillon (and Coulée de Serrant and Roches-aux-Moines) are designated Loire Valley Grand Crus. Savennières is essentially legislated and syndicated as the birthplace and essence of the beauty, expression and typicity of Chenin Blanc, whereas Rosso di Montalcino is the litter sister (or brother) to Brunello. Therefore, I’m sorry but little brothers and sisters get beat up on sometimes. So i say preserve the integrity of 100% Sangiovese in Brunello di Montalcino and loosen up the little sibling a bit. Although I do love the irony in the 2008 comments of Ezio Rivella, one of Italy’s most prominent oenologists and current President of the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino. Ezio referred to 100% Brunello blends (i.e. Sangiovese) as “undrinkable”.

In either case I digress, the vote already passed and no changes will be made anytime soon. So on that note, cheers to 100% Sangiovese ! 😉


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Our beloved Leslie Lovo takes the Gold, going 4 for 4 on the blind tasting, during the 2010/2011 inaugural MPA Wine Tasting, this past Saturday. Felicidades Leslie ! (the 5th round was a wash or maybe a slosh describes it better, because people were a little too happy by that point) And thanks to Keith and Kelsey for being such wonderful hosts !

In order of tasting …

2007 Domaine des Roches Neuves (Thierry Germain) “L’Insolite” Saumur
Tasting Notes : 100% chenin blanc, clay-limestone soil, fermentation in oak barrel, aged 12 months in oak, 13% vol. Quite raw, fleshy, fruity and complex on the nose, almost effervescent, with notes of fresh grass and flowers. Full-bodied, balanced, slightly off-dry and a little sour in the mouth. This wine is rich and slightly bitter with flavors of apples, peach and dried raisins.
Rating : 15/20 (13.3/20 MPA average)
Price : 18€00 @ La Grande Epicerie Paris

MPA winos …
Laura, “makes my inner thighs tingle” (14/20)
Jonathan, “dewey Spring morning” (11/20)
Christina, “pineapple, orange blossom” (13/20)
Rajul, “baba au rhum, pear with a hint of fresh paint thinner” (9.6/20)
Sayko, “onion rings with vinegar” (17/20)
Virginie, “swimming pool” (15/20) (more…)

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This past Friday and Saturday, on location at my new gig at Domain du Closel – Château des Vaults, I took the opportunity to visit three more neighboring Savennières producers. After visiting six Savennières producers in three days, I’m extremely pleased with the quality and diversity that we all have to offer. Domaine des Baumard, very well-known in the US, might be the first Savennières producer to experiment with screw caps. All of their wines are now bottled with screw caps, which is very much a “New World” approach, and can be considered quite provocative among the traditionalists of France. My second visit was with Claude Papin of Château Pierre Bise. Claude is an anti-communicator communicator. Boy can the man talk ! He is passionate about terroir, a “terroirist” if you will. He believes a good wine should sell itself through its terroir, not through marketing and promotions. Although this is a very admirable and inspiring approach, my personal and professional belief is that like a good wine, it should always be a balance of the two. After all, if we make a good wine, then we want people to drink it ! Unfortunately, this usually requires a little bit of business communications. In either case Claude is a great viticulturist and winemaker and should be respected as such. My final visit on Saturday was with Jo Pithon of Pithon-Paillé. Jo is what some refer to as a “peasant” winemaker. He is very friendly, approachable and casual and is knee deep in his winemaking. His Anjou Rouge is one of the best I’ve ever had.

Below are the wines I tasted … (more…)

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On December 9th The Grand Crew invited wine celebrity Gary Vaynerchuk to host a tasting in Paris.  Phil of In Vino Veritas and Seb of Vinomaniac TV came along for the ride as co-organizers of this grande spectacle.  I must say the event received quite a fervor, selling out all 70 spots within 12 hours of sending the formal invite.  The tasting was organized as a 2-part episode of Wine Library TV’s “Thunder Show”, which is a video wine blog, viewed daily by roughly 100,000 subscribers.  The theme was “Women Vintners of France”.

Anyone who’s truly entrenched in the wine world certainly already knows about Gary.  He’s completely taken the wine world by storm, since launching his show in 2006.  However, if you’re a newbie, then lemme very briefly fill you in.  Gary was born in Belarus and moved with his family to New Jersey at a very young age.  In high school he began working in his dad’s wine and licquor store, Wine Library.  After launching the store’s online site, within a 5-year period Gary grew the business from $4 million to $60 million.  Today Gary also manages Vaynermedia along with a number of other business ventures.  He is an internationally respected wine expert and social networking guru.  In 2009 Gary was recognized by Decanter magazine, making their “Power List” of the 50 most influential people in the wine industry worldwide.  He also received the #18 ranking by Ask Men UK’s “2009 Top 49 Most Influential Men”.  He was sandwiched between Ryan Seacrest and Ashton Kutcher, LOL.

Below is the wine list and video podcast from Part 1 of the Thunder Show.  I’ll post part 2 on Tuesday or Wednesday.

2007 Château de Béru « Clos Béru Monopole » Chablis
Winemaker/Owner : Athénaïs et Laurence Béru
Price : 20€ ($25 dollars, New York)

2007 Domaine Pfister « Engelberg » Alsace Grand Cru
Winemaker/Owner : Mélanie Pfister
Price : 15€50 ($40 dollars, US)

2005 Domaine du Closel « Clos du Papillon » Savennières
Winemaker : Evelyne de Pontbriand
Price : 25€-32€ ($35 dollars, New York)

Note: Design work for the event was done by Ulrich Egouy

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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On Wednesday the 28th Phil, President of In Vino Veritas, invited over a few friends from IVV and their alumni group Millésimes, for a private blind tasting.  On the agenda the main objective was practice and preparation for the upcoming 2009 blind tasting competitions.  There are many student competitions throughout France I am sure, but In Vino Veritas at Sciences Po participated in two last year.  The first is organized by Pol Roger, which hosts the semi-finals in February in Paris and the finals in June, matching up the best teams from the French cities of Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Lille, alongside Oxford and Cambridge.  The second competition is Vin/20, which holds its semi-finals in April and the finals in June in Bordeaux.  This competition is organized by the Commanderie du Bon Temps du Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac and is hosted by the Baron himself (Éric de Rothschild) at Châtaeu Lafite Rothschild.  The competition is strictly focused on blind tasting Left Bank Bordeaux, with participants asked to identify the commune and the vintage.  Cambridge won the grand prize last year.  In fact both Cambridge and Oxford are known for having very strong teams and are given a free ride to the finals every year.  However, the schools in France must first to go through a preliminary qualifying round in order to be invited to the finals in Bordeaux.  Additionally, adding a third competition to the mix, this year In Vino Veritas is organizing it’s own Sciences Po International Tasting (SPIT).  Gotta love the name!  The details are pending but the competition will be hosted by Bollinger in Aÿ on April 25th and schools from around France and abroad will be invited.  Ya’ll might be interested to know that in addition to food, housing, and transportation being covered for all participants for all three competitions, the prizes given out are pretty remarkable, including wine trips, cases of Grand Cru old vintage wine, and rare double magnum bottles, including 1985 Lafite for example.

Let me make a quick call out to Phil for any corrections on the details behind these competitions, because this is the real deal and can get pretty intense, although a hell of a lot of fun as well.  And certainly In Vino Veritas is in it to win this year.  So the best of luck to Phil and the team at IVV!  Unfortunately I will be out of the country during this year’s first competition; however, I look forward to maybe having the opportunity to participate in 2010.

2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers”So back to our blind tasting practice round at Phil’s place.  There were about 7 of us and each person brought a specially selected bottle meant to be representative of a particular region.  There was no method to the madness, other than the general requisite that all bottles had to be from France.  Again our goal was to identify region, varietals, and vintage.  So we were off, tasting a flight of 9 bottles, 5 whites and 4 reds, tasting notes listed below.

2005 Domaine de la Pinte, Arbois-Pupillin “Viandries”
Appellation: Arbois, Jura
Varietal: chardonnay
Tasting Notes: Aromas of almond and banana.  A balanced acidity in the mouth with flavors of nuts, almonds, orange and hazlenut.
Rating: 16/20

2007 René Carroi Sancerre2007 René Carroi
Appellation: Sancerre, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Minerality, floral notes and apple on the nose.  A nice acidity in the mouth with flavors of lemon, orange and general citrus throughout.
Rating: 14/20

2005 Eurl Thierry Puzelat
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Mild oxidation on the nose with aromas of almond, pineapple and fleshy white tropical fruit, followed by subtle fig and dates.  A light wine with flavors of orange, apple, white peach and dates.
Rating: 15/20

2005 Domaine du Closel “Clos du Papillon” Savennières2005 Domaine du Closel, Château des Vaults “Clos du Papillon”
Appellation: Savennières, Loire
Varietal: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Citrus and very subtle creaminess on the nose.  A blanced wine with flavors of peach, apple, orange and orange zest and very faint cream.
Rating: 14/20

WS 94 (vintage 2004): Big wine, but with excellent definition and purity, this sports ginger powder, unsalted butter, white peach, honeysuckle and persimmon notes. Nice bracing finish has a hint of bitter 2004 Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg Pinot Gris Grand Crualmond. Drink now through 2012. 300 cases imported. –JM

2004 Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg
Appellation: Alsace Grand Cru
Varietal: pinot gris
Tasting Notes: Pineapple and floral aromas.  Light and citric in the mouth with an orange finish.
Rating: 15/20

2001 Chateau Cap de Mourlin Saint-Emilion Grand Cru2001 Château Cap de Mourlin Grand Cru
Appellation: Saint-Emlion, Bordeaux
Blend: 65% merlot, 25% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Aromas of vegetable, rocks, earth, blackberries and plums.  Strong tannins but with a balanced acidity and flavors of blackberries and blueberries.
Rating: 17/20

2006 P. Corbineau “La Croiy Foucher”
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Green pepper, olive, and pronounced cherry aromas.  Well balanced with flavors of cherry, and blueberry.
Rating: 16/20

2004 Chateau des Tours Reserve Côtes-du-Rhone2004 Château des Tours Reserve
Appellation: Côtes-du-Rhone, Rhone
Blend: 65%, 20% syrah, 15% cinsault
Tasting Notes: Floral, blueberry and Coca-Cola aromas.  Flavors of blueberry, plums and milk chocolate, followed by meaty flavors and texture.
Rating: 17/20

WS 86: A spicy style, with coffee and mocha notes leading the way for fig and blackberry fruit, followed by a soft, fleshy finish. Drink now. 4,165 cases made. –JM

2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers” Bourgueil2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers”
Appellation: Bourgueil, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Aromas of violets, olives and cloves.  In the mouth there is dark chocolate, cherry, blueberry and leather.
Rating: 15/20

WS 92: A dark, grippy red from France’s Loire Valley, with charcoal, mesquite, roasted fig, dark olive and mineral notes coursing through while a backdrop of plum sauce and toast waits in reserve. The structured, mouthfilling finish drips with fruit and mouthwatering olive notes. Best from 2009 through 2017. 821 cases made. –JM

NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez “1927 Solera”NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez “1927 solera”
Appellation: Jerez, Spain
Varietal: pedro ximenez
Tasting Notes: A nutty nose with intensely syrupy sweet flavors and almonds on the palate.
Rating: 15/20
Pairing: Pour this over vanilla ice cream and you won’t regret it!
Note: This glass wasn’t part of the blind tasting practice but rather was just a nice casual closure to the night, while talking with Phil about education and healthcare in Canada (he’s from Quebec).

WS 92: Menthol and prune aromas and flavors highlight this intense, sweet dessert wine. It exhibits plenty of brightness and complexity, ending with butterscotch and bitter chocolate notes. Nicely put together. Drink now. 300 cases imported. –BS


Well after 2 months of what has been the most organizationally and emotionally crazy roller coaster that I can remember, FINALLY the end objective has been met.  So what the hell am I talking about?  I’m going to South Korea and Japan for 10 days!  Miki San will be hosting me and a few friends in Tokyo and Gom will be hosting us in Seoul.  I won’t go into all of the drama and what would have made for an amazingly successful reality TV show, but let’s just say we’ve been through absolute ecstacy and jubliation and absolute devastation and tears from one moment to the next, throughout the whole trip planning process, which was made so difficult since we were presented with the challenge of planning such a trip in tandem with a 2-week study trip to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an) that will immediately follow.  Wow that was a long sentence!  Unfortunately we had to deal with one of the worst travel agencies I’ve come across in my life as well as many last second straight-out-of-left field decisions and changes from our program’s administration.

Anyways, the point is, we’re going!  Departing on Finnair tomorrow the 30th.  And although this will be a whirlwind tour, I certainly plan to post about regional wine while I’m adventuring through East Asia.  I’ll be back in Paris on the 22nd of February.

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