Category Archives: Chablis

Chinese Dinner Under the Fig Tree

When you are invited to someone’s home for dinner and they have prepared a  meal from the different provinces of China, this is something very special. When this meal is better then any you could have in the best Chinese restaurant in NYC, you are very lucky.3FD9736A-B00B-49E0-9469-F9A2CD96C392_1_105_c

The setting for the dinner was a back yard in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with a fig tree planted in 1940.

The dinner was prepared by Roger Chen and all the descriptions of the food are his.

490C41F7-E9F0-4636-B4A2-B329E8A67418_1_105_cAppetizer — We started with some small appetizers including taramasalata with pita bread and breadsticks.

E8898921-E93B-421E-A5CA-11E3A469290B_1_105_cWith the appetizer we had Champagne Mangin Et Fils Brut Natural made from 100% Pinot Meunier from vineyards in Leuvrigny and Moussy with limestone, clay and marl soil. During the harvest the grapes are quickly brought to the press room. After the first fermentation the wines are bottled and stored in the cellars so the second fermentation occurs. The wine is aged in the cellars for several years before being riddled by hand and disgorged. There is no dosage. They remain in the cellar for a few more months before release. It has intense effervescence and hints of quince, grapefruit, dried flowers, hazelnuts and a touch of honey.

The wines for our dinner were chosen  by Tony Di Dio.

First course

E10510A3-AE80-4D0C-91B2-878445A21059_1_105_cXiao Cong Ban Doufu (scallion & tofu salad), from Shandong Province — A cool and refreshing salad with fresh tofu marinated with scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil.

3CC2028B-DC84-4514-A7E3-F515CF4F43D8_1_105_cLiang Ban Lian-ou (lotus root salad), from Northwestern China. Fried tofu with lotus root, red onions and edamame.  Roger said that this is typically made with red chili peppers but he substituted red onions.

334D53E4-390C-439F-8E95-EB1F0DD91133_1_105_cDan Dan Mian (dan-dan noodles), street food from Sichuan Province.  Fresh wheat noodles with ground pork, preserved vegetables, scallions and peanuts.  I must have eaten 3 helpings of this.

IMG_5421Brittan Vineyards Sparkling Wine 2017 Brut Method Champenoise Willamette Valley, Oregon, made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The soil is a mixture of glacial deposits and volcanic material with a predominant presence of broken basalt. This is a full-bodied sparkling wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, white flowers and baking spice.

Main Course:

8CC50950-1A15-4ED6-B081-C861FF7289B5_1_105_cYou Mian Jin Sai Rou (fried gluten puff stuffed with minced pork), from Shanghai.  This was a sort of meat filled dumpling in a brown sauce.

IMG_5426Qiezi Dun Tudou (eggplant braised with potato), from Northeastern China.  The eggplant and potatoes came together beautifully with a garnish of green peas.

91771F1A-FF4E-47AC-88CC-5BA6E3CBE518_1_105_cXihongshi Chao Jidan (tomato & scrambled eggs).  Roger said that this simple dish of scrambled eggs and tomatoes is probably made in every household in China.  The sauce was slightly sweet.  Michele promised to make this for me at home soon.


With these we had Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos“ 2008 Joseph Drouhin Made from 100%  Chardonnay from vineyards located between Valmur on the left and Blanchot on the right. The soil is Kimmeridgian limestone with millions of embedded tiny marine fossils. The average age of the vines is 37 years. There are 8,000 vines per hectare and the training is double guyot. Biological cultivation. Harvesting is by hand. Aging is for 12 months in used barrels. The wine has hints of lemon and honey with a mineral character. This is a very impressive wine.

0C078A62-548F-4596-A684-9D4ECD3C84C2_1_105_cDessert was Figs from the tree in the garden with creme fraiche.

922D7223-00F6-4C71-AC71-2710819D8B37_1_105_cThe Fig Tree

7A01F43F-7B76-4264-B568-552AAEB29C56_1_105_cIce cream with chocolate covered orange rind was the final touch.

The rain held off and the evening was so perfect, none of us wanted it to end.  A big thank you to Chef Roger for this excellent dinner and sommelier Tony for the memorable wines.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Tony di Dio

A Chicken to Remember in Beaune

Le Bistro d’Hotel

Our first dinner in Beaune was just about perfect. As soon as we sat down at Le Bistro d’Hotel, we were served a little “amuse” of black olives, marinated

cubes of winter squash, and cheese sablees, savory wafers.

Chablis Premier Cru “Montée De Tonnerre 2007 Clotilde Davenne made from 100% Chardonnay. The wine was drinking very nicely with hints of dried fruit, almonds and a touch of honey.

A little “gift” from the kitchen was a tiny cup of porcini mushroom soup.

Premier cru Ile des Vergelesse “Pernand Vergelesse” 2014 Domaine Rollin Père et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir from a vineyard situated in the middle of the Vergelesse hileside slope and composed of very pebbly, shallow clay-limestone. Beneath is very brittle bed-rock. The exposure is east and it was planted in 1946(two-thirds and 1989(one third). Harvesting is by hand, and careful sorting at the vat house. After pre fermentation maceration for 5 to 6 days at 10C the alcoholic fermentation starts naturally at regulated temperature. There are daily tasting and pumping down. After two or three weeks in vats the wines go into oak barrels (30% new) for 12 to 14 months. Malolactic fermentation occurs in the barrel naturally in the spring. After racking, the wine is assembled in vat, until bottling the following winter. This is a rather floral, elegant and intense wines

For a first course we had foie gras terrine served with salad and onion confit,

while our friend ordered the snails in a green vegetable butter. He said he liked it but would have preferred the more traditional garlic butter.

The main course was a perfectly cooked poulard de Bresse. A poulard, our waitress explained is a female chicken that is allowed to fatten a month longer than a poulet.

She carved the bird beautifully and served it with the pan juices.

We enjoyed it with a heap of frites and a bouquet of colorful seasonal vegetables.

We decided to finish with a sweet, so we shared an order of crepes Suzette, flamed with Grand Marnier and plenty of good butter.

It may be an old fashioned dessert, but it sure was delicious. 

Then of course there was the coffee and the Marc


Filed under Beaune, Burgundy, Chablis, Le bistro d'hotel

Three Pre- Birthday Celebrations with Wine and Food

The first celebration took place at the Oriental Gardens restaurant in New York Cities China Town

Soft Shell Crabs and they were fantastic!

We started with the Champagne Krug 1990  from the Krug Collection.

Then a fried sole with scallions.

Chablis Grand Cru just great

Puligny- Montrachet needs more time

1979 Chinon excellent

There was more food and wine but I got caught up in the eating and drinking.


Next on to La Pizza Fresca

We started with Krug NV

Then Chianti Classico 1971 Riserva Ducale from Ruffino

Pizza Margarita

Chateaueuf-du-Papes 1990 right on the money

Amarone 1967 Bertani

Pizza with Prosciutto

A young man waiting for his pizza


Next was Gastronomia Siciliana Norma

Buratta with arugula

Spaghetti with sea urchin (ricci di Mare) was fantastic

Chianti Classico 1996

Pizza with porchetta

Barolo 1989 – barolo at its best 1989 was a great vintage!




Filed under Amarone, Barolo, Benanti, Chablis, Champagne, Chateaneuf du Pape, Chianti Classico, Krug, Krug Champagne, La Pizza Fresca, Olga Chinon, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Principe Corsini, Uncategorized

Celebrating the Year of the Horse



Every year, we get together with friends and celebrate Chinese New Year.  Since this is the year of the horse, we decided on a theme — wine vintages from past years of the horse. I was told that I was born in the year of the water horse but I could not find a wine from that year.

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

We chose the Oriental Gardens Restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown for the dinner. The service was excellent and so was the food. Our waiter was the best that I have ever had in a Chinese restaurant and could have qualified as a sommelier at a top restaurant.

The Wines

2002 Year of the Water Horses


Chablis Domaine Billaud- Simone Cru “Les Preuses” 2002  100% Chardonnay. The exposure is south; southeast and the vines are 65 years old. Harvesting is by hand. Vinification is in stainless steel. Aging is for 8 to 10 years depending on the vintage. This is an elegant complex wine, with aromas of honey, toast and lemon with good minerality, a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. It was a great way to start the celebration.

1990 Year of the Metal Horse


Regaleali Rosso Sicilia IGT 1990 made from 100% Nero d’Avola. Fermentation is in stainless steel for an average of 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel 50% and 50% in oak casks of 30HL and 60HL for 6 months. This was a real surprise. The wine was 24 years old and is the type of wine that one would think is to be drunk young. It was in vey good condition with no signs of oxidation and enough fruit to make it very enjoyable.

1966   Year of the Fire Horse


Chateau Montrose 1966 – Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 30% and Cabernet Franc 5%.  Back then, the average age of the vines was 29 years. The wine was aged for 22 to 24 months in barrel. Robert Parker in his book Bordeaux (1985) writes that the anticipated maturity of the wine is between 1986 and 2010. The wine is classic St-Estephe and was drinking like a younger wine.


Chianti Classico Fattoria Di Santa Christina 1966 Fattoria dei Marchesi Lodovico and Piero Antinori. I am not surprised anymore when I drink older Chianti Classico. This wine was made with white grapes, Trebbiano and Malvasia, and they most likely used the governo method (drying 10% of the grapes).   This was the wine of the evening for me.

1978 Year of the Earth Horse

Barolo “Vigneto Rocchette” 1978 Giovanni Accomasso & Figli. I do not believe that I have had any wine from this producer. The location of the winery is La Morra but as far as I know it is not imported into the USA.


 Barbaresco Bricco Asili 1978 100% Nebbiolo Ceretto.  We had this wine at another New Year celebration a few days later and it was showing so well I just had to include it.


Barolo 1978 Cogno- Marcarini  100% Nebbiolo–  This wine was made when Elvio Cogno was the winemaker. Cogno produced some of the best classic traditional wines that it has been my pleasure to drink. This one was no exception and it was the wine of the evening for a number of people. 1978 was a very good vintage for Barolo. Wasserman gave Cogno’s Barolo 4 stars, his highest rating.


Filed under Antinori, Barbaresco, Barolo, Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti Classico, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Regaleali, Uncategorized

The Return of the League of Gentlemen

I have not written about the League because it has been over two years since we last met. Then last week I received an e-mail for a “pop up” meeting of the group to be held at Barbounia Restaurant on Park Ave South in NYC. The message also suggested that we dig deep into our cellars and bring our best wines.  Six of us attended and the wines were fantastic.  The food at Barbounia was very good. I believe they may make the best thin pizza (Roman style) in NYC.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The WinesIMG_3415

Champagne Salon Brut “Le Mesnil 1997– vintage blanc de blanc, prestige cuvee in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay. The grapes come from 100% rated village (Grand Cru).  This is all they produce.  In his book “Champagne for Dummies,” Ed Mc Carthy says the following:  “this is a massive, complex champagne that uses almost no dosage, but tastes so rich that you do not miss the dosage. With age it takes on aromas of walnuts, honey, vanilla and coffee. It is a superb example of the grapes of the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the greatest Chardonnay village in Champagne. It can age for a very long time.” Ed is right on the money!IMG_3421

Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos” 1995 Dauvissat 100% Chardonnay. This is my favorite producer of Chablis and it was everything and more than one would expect from Chablis.IMG_3418

Corton Charlemagne 1994 Vincent Girardin 100%. Chardonnay The grapes are harvested by hand and are sorted twice-when picking the grapes and on the sorting table.There is a light pressing to get a slow extraction. After a gentle racking of the must, the wine is put in French oak casks (between 10 and 35% of new oak depending upon the appellation) The primary and malolactic fermentations can then begin with wild yeasts, which are on the grape berries. The aging is long on fine lees, between 14 and 20 months(depending on the “cuvees”).  They follow the lunar calendar for bottling.IMG_3414

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1970 St. Emilion 66% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 1% Malbec.IMG_3411

Chateau L’Angèus 1966 St. Emilion  60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot.

Both of the Bordeaux wines were in excellent condition. There was a discussion as to which one was drinking better and it was a split decision.IMG_3413

Côte- Rôte 1994 “Côte- Brune” Gentaz- Dervieux Syrah with a tiny addition of Viognier. This is a wine I have only had once before. It is a traditional classic style Côte-Roti. The vines are 100 years old and there is fewer than 2 hectares of vines.  The wine is aged in old oak barrels. It is a complex wine with hints of cherry, a touch of apricot, a mineral and savory component and it needs more time to develop. I was very impressed with this wine.  IMG_3410

Barbaresco Riserva 1978 Borgogno 100% Nebbiolo. Borgogno is noted for their Barolo but they also make an excellent Barbaresco. 1978 was an outstanding vintage. This Barbaresco is drinking very well now and is at its peak.IMG_3427

Domaine de Trevallon 1994.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I have never had this wine before but really enjoyed it.  The winery is located in Saint-Etienne du Grès in the Bouches du Rhone. They use no pesticides or insecticides, only sheep manure. The use of close pruning methods reduces the yield and prolongs the life of the vine from 20 to 50 years. They believe that it is best to do as little as possible in the cellar, no use of exogenous yeasts and no corrections for acidity. The whole process is completely natural, either by punch over by foot, or pump over to aerate the wine. The wine is aged for two years in oak.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Corton Charlemagne, Cote Rote, Domaine de Trevallon, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gentaz-Derieux, Italian Red Wine, Salon, Vincent Girardin

Lunch/Dinner with Friends

When I am having friends over who enjoy eating and drinking, I like to start around 4:00 PM so that we can take our time over the course of the late afternoon and evening. This time was no exception; there were 5 of us and eight bottles of great wine.  We did not finish eating and drinking until after 10:30.  As customary, we started with champagne.

The ChampagneIMG_3396

Delamotte Brut  Blanc De Blancs 1999 Le Mesnil –sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay.  The wine was disgorged in 2007. It is elegant, complex medium bodied champagne with fresh citrus flavors and aromas, hints of ginger and a touch of almonds. Delamotte is the sister house of Salon.IMG_3397

Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Prestige Cuvèe1995 Remis 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. Grapes are from Roederer’s own vineyards almost all of which are Grand Cru.

It was showing no signs of age. It is a champagne that when you are drinking it you cannot help to be impresses by its complexity, body, aromas and flavors.

The White WineIMG_3398

Domaine LEFLAIVE Puligny- Montrachet  2000 100% Chardonnay from seven different parcels. There is a long gentle pneumatic pressing, decanting over 24 hours, then racking and running the must into casks. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in oak casks 18% new. The wine is aged 12 months in oak casks and the 6 months in tanks before release. Homeopathic fining takes place and very light filtering if necessary.

For a snack, Michele prepared a sour cream dip with smoked salmon and gougeres.IMG_3400

Domaine LEFLAIVE Puligny- Montrachet “Les Combettes”(1.8 acres) 2000, 100% Chardonnay. They do manual harvesting with grape selection.  There is a long gentle pneumatic pressing, decanting over 24 hours, then racking and the must goes into casks.  Alcoholic fermentation is in oak casks. 20% is new, 1/2 Vosges and 1/2 Alier for 12 months. The wine is aged 6 more months in tanks before it is bottled. It is interesting to compare the reguler wine with the cru. While they were both very good, in this case there was no mistaking which was the cru as it was a more complex wine intense aromas and flavors.IMG_3401

Chablis Premier Cru “Monts Mains” 2000 Domaine François Raveneau á Chablis 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are gently pressed by a pneumatic press and only indigenous yeasts are used. The juice is left to settle and then racked off its lees into cuvee to ferment. Alcoholic fermentation lasts two weeks and malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels. The wine is aged for 18 months in old barrels and feuillette, a type of barrel (most made by the barrel-maker Chassin, only a small percentage of new barrels are used. This is a classic Chablis with nice fruit flavors and aromas, a touch of lemon and a hint of flint.IMG_3408

Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo 1990 Azienda Agricola Valentini 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months. This wine is very complex and full with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste, with that extra something that is difficult to describe. It may be the best white wine made in Italy. It is a wine that can age for a very long time.

Our first course was spaghetti Puttanesca, made with plump salted anchovies from Cetara.

The Red Wine

The Duck

The Duck

With the red wine we had glazed duck breasts.IMG_3405

Barolo 1983 Vietti DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. 1983 was not a great year for Barolo but this particular bottle was showing very well. It was ready to drink but showing no signs of age. It had all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.IMG_3406

Barolo Brunate 1978 Azienda Agricola Bricco Rocche Ceretto. 1978 was a great year for Barolo but this particular bottle was showing some age. It was very drinkable but had some VA and a slight celery taste on the palate. The wine was helped by the duck.


Filed under Barolo, Chablis, Champagne, Valentini, Vietti

Pure Chablis- Only From France

A piece of stone had been placed in the middle of the table at the Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City where I was attending a Chablis tasting.  It looked like a piece of limestone with tiny pieces of white shells imbedded.  I guessed that it was a chunk of the famous soil of Chablis, which gives the wine its unique minerality.IMG_2895

The two speakers at the tasting were introduced as “Chablis Ambassadors” Jean-Francois Bordet, President of the Chablis Wine Board.  He is the 13th generation of his family to run the Séguinot-Bordet Winery, and Christian Moreau, a leading producer of Chablis and a man that I have heard speak over the years.  I have great respect for his knowledge of Chablis.  There were only 4 journalists at the lunch so we were able to really get to understand Chablis.

Christian Moreau

Christian Moreau

I asked Jean-Francois what was their attitude toward the rest of Burgundy and he said that they were the Corsica of Burgundy–meaning that they had a certain independent attitude.  As Rosemary George in her book The Wines of Chablis states, “Chablis is Chardonnay but not every Chardonnay is Chablis”

Jean-Francois Bordet

Jean-Francois Bordet

Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2010 The soil is rich Kimmeridgian, clay of the upper Jurassic geological period. The average age of the vines is 35 years and they are on a gentle slope at an altitude of 150 to 250 meters. Harvesting takes place by machine. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged 6 to 8 months in stainless steel tanks. Cold stabilization is at -5 degrees C for one week. The wine is bottled every month from April 2012 to March 15, 2013 . This is a wine with fresh fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of peaches and good minerality.  $20IMG_2902

Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis Premier Cru “Fourchaume” 2011. The soil is Kimmeridgian limestone and the age of the vines is 30 to 45 years old with a south/ southwest exposure. The harvest is both manual and mechanical. Vinification is according to the domain’s own special quality charter. The wine spends 2 to 4 months on the lees. Aging takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. $29IMG_2900

Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru “Vau de Vay” 2010. The soil is clay and limestone of the type and the vines are 35 years old. The harvest is manual due to the steep hillside pitch. Pneumatic pressing of the grapes and fermentation with indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. 100% of the wine undergoes malolatic fermentation. The wine is aged on the lees in stainless steel vats. The winery is in the process of becoming organic. $30

Both Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru are a very good value for the money.IMG_2909

Domaine Christian Moreau Pére et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, Clos des Hospices 2010. The soil is Kimmeridgian marl-calcium carbonate (upper Jurassic) and is rocky with white dense clay. The vines are 29 years old.  Harvesting is by hand, carried by small trailers which unload the grapes by vibration to avoid crushing. A sorting table is used to eliminate unripe or damaged grapes. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks and fermentation is with indigenous yeast. Aging is for 12 months in barrel–90% that are 1, 2, and 3 years of age- 10% in new and 1-year-old barrels. There is natural tartaric stabilization after 8 months of ageing. 100% of the wine goes under malolactic fermentation. $105

Chablis Grand Cru is a bigger, richer, rounder wine with more depth but even at $100 a bottle it is worth the money.IMG_2910

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru 2009. The soil is chalky clay, marl and Marley limestone from the Kimmeridgan era. The vines are 40 years old. Harvesting is manual and the grapes are put into small cases, holding up to a maximum of 13kg to avoid compressing the grapes and bursting the berries. There is a systematic use of a sorting table.  They use the principle of gravity to avoid all pumping. There is a brief 1-½ to 2 hour pneumatic pressing to obtain a gentle separation of the solids and liquids of the grape. Very light static settling of the juice to preserve enough fine lees so that the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation can occur naturally. The must is then run into French oak barrels. Ageing takes place for 12-15 months, on fine lees, in French oak barrels. The stirring of the lees depends on the vintage. $99  See”More Chablis Please” for more information on Chablis

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Filed under Chablis, Domaine Christian Moreau, Domaine des Malandes, French White Wine, Jean-Marc Brocard, Kimmeridgian soil, Seguinot-Bordet winery


There are many wines that I would like to write about but unfortunately, it is not possible to get to all of them.  So I decided to write a brief post called “Tastes” from time to time highlighting some of the wines and food I have enjoyed.

And I can introduce my new wine group.  The League of Gentlemen, a wine group, I used to belong to and often wrote about no longer exists.  In its place is another group with no name, which meets once a month at restaurant SD 26 in NYC. There are a few members from the old group plus some new ones.  This is also a very low-key group, which happens to enjoy great wines.


Here are four French Wines that I enjoyed with lunch last Monday at SD26:

Chablis Premier Cru “La Forest” 2010 Vincent Dauvissat
This is one of my favorite Chablis’ and it can age.

Burgundy Volnay “ Les Premiets” 1985 Joseph Voillot This is a classic Burgundy at its peak but it will last for a number of years.Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998  Domaine Peagu Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah 4% Mourvèdre and 6% of other approved varieties.  This is a big wine drinking very well right now, with black fruit aromas and flavors and an undertone of spice.Hermitage 1985 Jean-Louis Chave Everyone agreed that this was the wine of the afternoon. This is a complex wine almost at its peak with aromas and flavors of deep red fruit with hints of cherry and strawberry and a touch of smoke.



Filed under Burgundy, Chablis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, French Red, French Wine, Hermitage, SD26

Celebrating Thanksgiving All Weekend Long

  We like to have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (Linner) at 4:00PM. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed too late. Our linner usually lasts for 5 or 6 hours. This year was no exception. Michele made gougeres to start, followed by a mushroom soup and of course turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes, followed by a cheese course and pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving every year for several years together with Tom Maresca  and his wife Diane Darrow Diane is a very good baker and brought baked bread and a pear tart.  Travis and Nicole, who were also there, brought wine.

Thanksgiving Wines

 Champagne Extra Brute NV “Les Boguines” La Closerie 100% Pinot Meunier. This is the first time I had Champagne that was 100% Pinot Meunier. Jerome Prevost, the winemaker, believes in intervening as little as possible. Therefore, the wine was not fined, filtered, or cold stabilized. This was one of the driest Champagnes that I have ever tasted with nice fruit and very good acidity. It had a long finish and a lingering aftertaste.

 Chablis Grand Cru “Les Preuses” 2000 Réne & Vincent Dauvissat. It has been my pleasure to have had the 1993 and 2007 “Les Clos” from the same producer. This was the first time I tasted the “Les Preuses”. The Les Preuses was not as big and round as the Les Clos. It had a more mineral, earthy and steely character to it which made it an excellent food wine. They are both great examples of Chablis grand cru.

 Barbaresco 1979 Podere del Pajoré Giovanni Moresco 100% Nebbiolo (rose sub -variety). This has always been one of my favorite Barbarescos and to my regret it was my last bottle. There was severe pruning that limited the size of the yields and the grapes were harvested late when they were totally ripe. The rose sub-variety is one that is reputed to produce the lightest Nebbiolo wines, but you could not tell it from this wine or the others I have had over the years from this producer. This is a big Barbaresco with all of the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors and it will age for a few more years. In 1979 Angelo Gaja become involved with the winery and took over the management of the vineyards. I believe Gaja brought the vineyards because he now makes a wine called “Sito Maresco”.

 Morey-Saint-Denis 1989 Domaine Dujac 100%  Pinot Noir. I have not had much experience with this producer but this was classic Burgundy at its best. A wise man once said there is Pinot Noir and then there is Burgundy.

 Just before Thanksgiving Michele showed me a very interesting article in the The New Yorker, November 28 2011, Letter From Rome entitled “The Renovation.” It was about an American Rita Jenrette that married Prince Nicoló and is now the Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. They are now living in a villa just outside Rome. They did not mention Fiorano in the article but I am sure there is a relationship somewhere. After reading the article I had to serve a bottle of Fiorano for Thanksgiving.

 Fiorano 1992 Vino da Tavola Boncompagni Ludovisi  Alberigo Boncompagni Ludovisi, Principe di Venosa made with merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.  Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Roman’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome.

 The 1970 Chianti Classic Badia Coltibuono was not good and I replaced it with the Grato Grati declassified Rufina Vino Rosso Toscano da Tavola 1982 Grato Grati 100% Sangiovese.  It is a wine that I really like and you can tell by the number of times that I serve it, it is my favorite Chianti. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels. It is declassified Chianti Rufina. I have been drinking this wine for a number of years now. The vintages I have had over the last few years have been the 1979, 1982, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 1997 (the last three are labeled Chianti Rufina) and have never found them wanting. To my great regret they are no longer available in NYC.

 On Friday Michele and I went with friends to Legend an excellent Chinese restaurant in NYC and had great food. I was in the mood for a Martini and gave the waitress exact instructions on how to make it for me. The bartender, a woman in a man’s hat, followed them to the letter and it was a perfect Martini. It fact it was so good I had another.

Saturday we stayed home and a friend gave us a bottle of Barbaresco 1997 Cantina Vignaioli  Elvio Pertinance.(cooperative) 100% Nebbiolo, to try. The grapes for the Barbaresco come from the hills of Treiso. It is a blend of Nebbiolo grapes grown on the vineyards belonging to each of the cooperative members. The selected grapes are crushed immediately on their arrival at the winery. The must ferments on the skins at a controlled temperature for at least 15 days. Following malolatic fermentation and a brief stay in stainless steel the wine is aged in casks of Slovenian oak for over one year prior to bottling. This Barbaresco is a very approachable wine with good fruit and soft tannins but will last for a few more years.

On Sunday we had friends over for lunch and we drank Barolo Riserva “Monprivato” 1993 Giuseppe Mascarella. The vineyard is in the village of Castiglione Falletto. There is traditional style floating of the cap fermentation for 20 to 25 days. The wine is matured in Slavonian oak barrels of medium size for about 38 months. The wine is bottles four years following the vintage.

 Barolo 1983 Cantine di Marchesi di Barolo 100% Nebbiolo the grapes came from different vineyards. The soil is of medium consistency with a substantial amount of quartze sand. Soft pressing of the hand harvested grapes and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.  Skin maceration is for 8 days and the wine is racked when the fermentation has been completed. This is for the current release. For the 1983 the skin contact would have been between 25 and 30 days. The wine is aged for the most part in Slavonian oak casks of 30-120 hectoliters for about two years. It is kept in bottle for another 12 months before it is released.

 Both 1983 and 1993 were not considered to be great vintages. These two wines however were showing very well and even the1983 had a few years left.  They both had classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.


Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Chablis, Champagne, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Piedmont

Put A Cork In It !

Sometimes I think that wine producers do not make the best wine they can but make the wine which is easiest to make and easiest to sell. It is easier to make Chianti if you add international grapes and put it in barriques.  In California, it is easier to make a wine with 15% alcohol.  Just before writing this article I read a very interesting post by Alice Feiring entitled Death of French Wine (as we know it)   The French are also a part of this and  Alice calls it a struggle between “real wine vs. fake wine.”

 Which brings me to the subject of this article, Cork versus Alternate Closures, in particular screw caps. Are screw caps used because they make the wine better or are they used because they are easier, less expensive, and do not allow the wine develop in the bottle so that it always tastes as if it has been just bottled?

  The Wine Media Guild did a Cork vs. Alternate Closures tasting last month. A few years ago they did a similar tasting and one of our members, Jonathan Levine, had the foresight to take and save the unopened bottles so that we could do the tasting again. I missed it the first time as I was in Italy so I was looking forward to this one.

Michel Laroche

 The tasting sheet for the event had the wine with the cork first followed by the wine with the screw cap. The speaker, Michel Laroche of Domaine Laroche, said it should be the other way around so we changed the order; I will get back to the reason for this later.

 Domaine Laroche is a name very well known in Chablis. They are both a négociant house and an estate. Michel runs the family business and has been responsible for its development. He introduced the screw cap into Chablis and for a while in the US you could get his Chablis with a cork or a screw cap. Now I believe all of his Chablis that comes to the US has a screw cap. In France there is more resistance to the screw cap but he believes that they will come around, especially the restaurants.

 The big advantage to the screw cap is that the wine in the bottle will “never” be “corked” and have that wet newspaper and cardboard smell and taste that does not go away. This is caused by 2, 4, 6, Trichloroanisole, better known simply as TCA. Wine can be infected with TCA that is in the barrels and in the cellar including the walls and ceiling, but TCA in the cork seems to get all the blame.  It is a big problem and at least 10-15% of all wines are corked. The other advantages are that the screw cap is easier to open and the wine will not become oxidized.

 But what is given up in return is that every bottle tastes exactly the same as when it left the winery. Christian Moreau, a well known producer of Chablis, said at a recent Chablis seminar that I attended “… Chablis will taste different from vintage to vintage and even bottle to bottle”. This is true for vintage to vintage and for wines with a cork, but not those with a screw cap. With a screw cap, the bottles will all taste the same–too young and too fresh–just the way they left the winery.

  Is this what Mr. Laroche intended for his wines?  Wines that will not develop in the bottle and not have those nuances and character that give a wine its personality.

Does older wine with a cork become oxidized?  If you drink older wine that has a cork in it does it mean you must like oxidized wine? I do not think so.  All of the Chablis at the tasting were from the 2002 vintage and not one of them had even a hint of oxidation.  At a dinner some months ago I had the Rene & Vincent Dauvissat 1993 Chablis Les Clos and it was showing no signs of oxidation.

The wines of Domaine Laroche

 As I tasted through the wines in every case I liked the wine with the cork better- I even tried them blind and still liked the wines with the cork better. The difference was slight with the regular Chablis but became more pronounced in the premier cru and grand cru wines. There was a very big difference in the grand cru Les Blanchots screw cap and cork and the biggest difference in the grand cru Les Clos screw cap and cork. These two wines had developed into classic Chablis thanks to the cork.  One bottle of the les Blanchots was corked – I do not know if Mr. Laroche put it in to prove a point? (At the WMG we always have two bottles of each wine.)

  In fact when we voted for which wines we liked better screw cap or cork, even Mr. Laroche voted for the Les Clos with the cork. Mr. Laroche rightly changed the order of the wines because the screw cap would be lighter and fresher and less developed than the one with the cork. If the wine with the cork was tasted first, being more developed, it would overwhelm the screw cap bottle.

 I have tasted a number of wines with screw caps, synthetic corks, and with glass stoppers in the last few years. Mr. Laroche believes that a wine with the synthetic cork will pick up the odors from it if the wine is kept for a period of time. With a screw cap, you can have s similar problem, the wine coming into contact with a “metallic substance.”   Mr. Laroche said that if a “natural substance” is used between the cap and the wine, this problem will not occur.  As for a glass stopper I once asked an Italian winemaker why he stopped using them and he said that he was afraid the glass might crack and some might fall in the bottle. If TCA can be present in the barrels and in the cellar walls and ceiling, is it then possible to get a corked wine with a screw cap?

 My conclusion is that if a wine is meant to taste fresh and youthful just as it did when it was bottled then it might be alright to use another type of closure, the best of which I believe is a screw cap. This would leave the best cork for those wines that are meant to age and develop their character and personality in the bottle. Wine is a living thing and needs to develop in the bottle. Does anyone really what to drink a wine right off the bottling line?

Members of the WMG tasting the wines

 Here is how the WMG members voted on the wines.

 Wine Media Guild of NY                                                    October 5, 2011

Corkvs. Alternate Closures Part II

Speaker: Michel Laroche, Domaine Laroche



Number = number of preference votes in 2011

BOLD indicates the wine was the preferred bottle in 2007.

** indicates “strongly preferred” In 2007




14 Chandon Prestige Etoile Brut, MV Cork

5 Chandon Prestige Etoile Brut, MV   Crown Cap 

1 No preference

 I voted for the cork on all three of the Chardon sparkling wines.

9 Chandon Prestige Etoile Rose, MV  Cork

5 Chandon Prestige Etoile Rose, MV Crown Cap

2 No preference

 10 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2002  Cork  

12 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2002  Screw Cap ** 

1 No preference

 4 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru les Vaudevey 2002  Cork  

17 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru les Vaudevey 2002  Screw Cap **

1 No preference

 16 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Blanchots 2002 Cork   8 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Blanchots 2002 Screw Cap 

1 No preference

 16 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Clos 2002  Cork

5 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Clos 2002  Screw Cap 

1 No preference

 On the wines listed below I found only a very slight difference

4 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005  Cork 

9 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005  Screw Cap 

4 No preference

 4 Jean-Claude Boisset Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2005  Cork 

7 Jean-Claude Boisset Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2005  Screw Cap

4 No preference



9 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005  Cork **

2 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005  Screw Cap

3 No preference

 7 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Tri County 2002  Cork

7 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Tri County 2002 Diam Cork **

1 No preference


Filed under Chablis, Cork, French Wine, Screw Caps, White wine