Friday, July 23, 2010

Shotgun Jacques!

We are sat outside for our evening meal...and my wife mentions...purely by chance...about our many visits to France.
'Remember that pile of bottles?' she asked.
Yes...I did...my wife and I and her brother were stopping over at the Hostellerie Chateau des Fines Roches in Chateauneuf-du-Pape..this is the early 80's
We had visited a couple of properties...but my big wish was to visit Chateau Rayas. Louis Reynaud, an extrovert character, had died in 1978..and the owner at the time of our visit was his son Jacques...no less extrovert I had been told. 'You'll never get in...he'll probably produce a shotgun'...was the general information from the wine trade.
We proceeded to the main square and started to ask directions. Shakes of heads...blank looks...told it all. This was a property that didn't exactly have a PR department.
Next idea...local policeman directing traffic...again...blank look. I thought policeman knew everything! We eventually found someone who 'thought' they knew the direction. We set off...along dusty roads...the heat beating down on the stony vineyards. Suddenly...round a corner...a hand-written sign...arrowing us to turn left. Finally we arrived at a 'derilict' building.
The photo I supply here was not what we saw back then.. My wife and her brother waited in the car...knowing this may have been in vain. I knocked on the battered door. After a short time...I heard footsteps. I waited for the buckshot! The door opened...and there stood Jacques Reynaud...peering at me over his glasses. He inquired what I wanted...and...being prepared...I said I knew a Wine Merchant in England. The name rang a bell with him...they were his agent there...and I quickly followed this with my enthusiasm for his wines. I waited...he turned...and beckoned me in. I turned to the car...gave the thumbs-up..and followed Jacques. The place where he took me was where it all happened...and was a minor chaos. Bottles and equipment all over the place. He said he didn't have any wine open...so I asked if I could buy some bottles of Chateau Rayas. He only had 1978 he said...and he could only let me have 3 bottles. Only!!...I agreed...no point in pushing your luck. He had softened by now...and we did the deal and I said my goodbyes. As I left the house...my brother-in-law had been round the side of the house....and he beckoned me to take a look. Outside of the window to the room where I had been...was a gigantic pile of old used bottles. It was obvious what Jacques did. Whenever a bottle was empty...he threw it out of the window. My brother-in-law helped himself to a couple of really old one and we left...and me still intact. I bragged about my success to anyone who would listen. I got in to Chateau Rayas! The Vintage 1978 was the last for Louis and the first for Jacques. Jacques passed away in 1997.

Which all leads me to the wine...a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape...which was merely a coincidence and was opened before our trip down Memory Lane.
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret 2007
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
The origin of the name Vieux Lazaret dates back to the 18th century, when a hospice (or Lazaret) existed in the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This hospice, provided by the Lazarists, offered comfort and shelter for the poor and infirm. The Lazarists were a silent order of monks, which were founded in 1625 by St Vincent de Paul to look after the sick and the needy in the French countryside. No doubt they drank wine...but females were banned of course. Not sure which is the most dangerous for your health. None..I reply quickly....
1. I like Wine...and
2. My Wife occasionally reads my Blog Notes!

Lightish style...delightfully so with the warm evening...trace of honey and soft burnt almond..even a touch of tar. More weight on the palate..and nicely layered.. Good acidity and a good lively finish. Enjoyable.
Points 16.25

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Riesling & A Pinot

Summer is finally here..on a permanent basis. People are already complaining about the heat..I glare...smile..and ask them were they the ones complaining about the long cold winter! That usually shuts them up. Sitting outside with friend Volker...we opened a couple of really nice bottles.
Bassermann Jordan Auf Der Mauer 2007
Pfalz, Germany
This was voted Riesling of the Year for the 2007 Vintage by a German Wine Magazine. I purchased 3 bottles...the first opened soon afterwards..and drank over 2 days. The 2nd day showed it's class.
This time it was opened and aired for a few hours....citrus and lemon...intense minerality...pineapple..a real bowl of fruit here....very nicely layered palate....and a Riesling for me...with reserved acidity. There is cream and delicacy...and on a hot summer's evening...perfect with the Gnocchis.
Point 16.75
PS..as I opened this I was reading the new edition of the magazine...Weinwelt...they have just voted the 2009 as...yes...you guessed it...Riesling of the Year.

Oh man...am I on a roll. Talking about Ebay. Here is another goodie.
Josef Pöckl Pinot Noir 1997
Burgenland, Austria
Served slightly cool from the fridge...it slowly warmed as the evening cooled. Why would anyone want to get rid of a delicious aged wine like this?
The first thing that hits you is the refeshing lively juicy aroma. You know you have a bargain at € 23,--! Any thick backward tendecies are all gone. A slighty earthy feel...reminded me of an aged St. Emilion. The roast beef thanked me for this...and as the sun went down..I thanked Ebay.
Points 17

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Golden Rules

Golden Rules:
1. Make sure you don't leave a white wine too long in the cellar
2. When you buy from Ebay...make sure you WANT the wine and you are not paying MORE than it is worth.

Rule one is when you drink a white...then decide to leave it to mature...you sometimes forget the 'colour'..and a few years later you have some Retsina!
Luckily...the first bottle of the Chablis was 30 months ago...and I said to leave it for 6 months. Time flies...and the other 5 bottles have been lying in wait since then....
I was off to our little Bistro with friend Volker and wanted a 'different' white than the usual Riesling or Grüner Veltliner. The initial bottle had shown some fine points...and so out it came...and was opened a few hours in advance. No chance of decanting it...it was a very hot evening....and we sat outside at the Bistro...I was happy it kept it's cool temperature.
Domaine des Malandes
Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey 2005

Burgundy, France
Some wines are just best left to the French. I doubt anywhere else in the world produces this balance...delicate Chardonnay...laid-back nose...but with interest all the time...dry but never austere...some white peach...acidity just enough to matter...all-in-all...very good balance. A creamy steeliness...are you getting the gist? Drinking very well now...and I won't tempt fate with the other 4...maybe one a year..
Points 17.5



Point two...and I do try to keep to it. Someone...a crazy man...a desperate person...a Cabernet Sauvignon freak?....had offered two bottles on Ebay of one of my favourite properties...certainly in the U.S. of A. I bought them both with postage for € 70,--. Yes..that's € 35,-- a bottle. Depending on your limits for wine...it is not cheap maybe...but this sells for € 50-60 nowadays..if still available! So I WANTED it...and I got it for a GOOD price. How was it?....mind-boggling good!
Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir
Isabelle Morgan 2004

California, U.S.A.
Opened 3 hours in advance...and we had put it in the Bistro fridge...so it arrived at the table just a little cool. Hot Pinot is not recommended! The nose was...yummy...the taste was yummy..the bottle is a LARGE yummy...weighs more than twice normal ones. The question arose...could Jim Clendenen save money by using a cheaper version. No matter...it was not really important when you held the glass in your hand. A spicy, even Cassis nose...dark smoke...some tobacco. As far away from some styles as you can imagine. A real man's Pinot here...so I am sticking around....the palate threw up some vanilla and a rounded earthiness...just a touch of sweetness...but the depth of flavour was just jaw-dropping.
This is just about getting to it's high point...but no hurry. I doubt I can resist too long with the second bottle...and as I have the 2005 vintage as well...maybe side-by-side in a couple of years.
Points 18.25

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