Bordeaux Grand Cru

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Monday afternoon the Grands Crus de Bordeaux held their annual tasting of the current vintage of Grand Cru Bordeaux, in this case the 2010 vintage. These are the new releases. 2010 is reported to be an excellent vintage and the wine pundits have said that the wines are built for long-term aging which means to say that they have a lot of tannin. With that I was expecting the young wines to be tannin bombs.

In general I would say that the vintage produced wines with lots of concentration and structure, or at least with the better wines. Would definitely love to drink these wines five years down the road. The event was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

I started the night with a couple of Pomerals: The 2010 Chateau Clinet was black with dark berries on the nose, young and silky with green olives on the finish and moderate tannin. The 2010 Chateau Gauzin was dark red with a nose of ripe berries, tight and chunky with lip-smacking tannin on the long finish. The 2010 Chateau La Cabanne was black with toast and barnyard on the nose with good fruit and nicely balanced on the moderate-long finish.

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From Saint Emilion the 2010 Clos Fourtet was black with a pretty nose of berries and stewed prunes with a chewy fruit, good structure and mouth filling tannin on the finish. The 2010 Chateau Grand Mayne was black with a sweet perfume of red roses and cherry, silky fruit with firm tannin on the finish.

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From Margaux I had the 2010 Chateau Brane-Cantenac. It was dark with a very perfumed nose of red roses with dusty fruit and prunes on the long finish. The 2010 Chateau Pieure Lichine was black with dark stone fruits on the nose with concentrated dusty fruit and good structure with full tannins on the finish.

From Saint Julien I had the 2010 Chateau Beychevelle. Dark red with a nice perfumed toasty nose with silky dusty fruit, nice balance and moderate tannin. Drinkable now. The 2010 Chateau Gruaud LaRose was black with a perfumed nose of toasted nuts. The 2010 Chateau Leoville Poyferre was black with a nose of stone fruit, concentrated with big tannins on the long finish.

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From Paulliac the 2010 Chateau D’Armailhac was black with some smoke and dark berries on the nose with sweet chewy fruit with moderate tannin on the long finish. One of my favorites of the night. The 2010 Chateau Lynch-Bages was dark with a pretty perfumed nose of red cherry and earth with red cherry fruit that dropped a bit at the end. The 2010 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande was black with mint and dusty black berries on the nose that needs time for things to come together but with great structure and manageable tannins. Another favorite of the night.

Usually when it’s a good vintage in Bordeaux it’s so-so for the sweet wines. I tried a dozen Sauternes/Barzac wines and none thrilled me. I thought they were sweet and syrupy and lacked finesse.

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Some Nice Rhone

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Tuesday night I attended a sit-down tasting of seven Rhone wines. This was a MeetUp group of fellow wine drinkers. The group met at Sojourn restaurant on the Upper East Side. All of the wines were served blind and we were to vote on our favorite and least favorite wine.

It was a very nice tasting. All of the wines were from the Northern Rhone and six of the seven bottles were vintages from the 1990’s so it was an opportunity to try wines with some bottle age.

My favorite wine of the night and as it turns out, the all-around favorite at the table and the youngest wine at the tasting was the 2006 Franck Balthazar-Cornas Chaillot.  I had guessed it as the youngest wine on the table, it had a nose of plums and dirty black cherries with dusty lip smacking fruit and some barnyard on the finish.

My next favorite was the 1998 Domaine du Columbier Hermitage. I thought it had meaty and bacon notes on the fruit with a great grip on the long finish.

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Another favorite was the 1999 Auguste Clape Cornas. The brambly nose started out a little closed but began to open up in the glass, with tight dusty velvety fruit and herbs on the finish.

The 1997 Tardieu-Laurent Cornas Cuvee Coteaux had a toasty, dried leaf nose with some good fruit which dropped a bit at the end.

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The 1995 Guigal Hermitage had a slightly jammy closed nose with blackberry and plum notes on the finish.

The 1998 Lesec Hemitage Cuvee Emile was the contriversial wine of the night. I thought the wine corked if ever so slighty but I was getting that on the nose as well as on the finish. Some people in the group agreed and some did not. The finish was fairly harsh so I think the wine was on its way out.

The 1997 Rostaing Cote Rotie was another wine that I felt was on the back end of the drinking curve. Nothing enjoyable about this juice.

Spanish Wines On Long Island

When I go out to the wineries out East I have my favorites. But I go back to try all of the others as well. I know that vintages change, owners change, and wine makers change so I go back to see how the new wines are going, and besides, it would be boring to go to the same wineries all the time.

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I started my wine tour at Palmer Vineyards located at 108 Sound Avenue in Aquebogue. Palmer is one of the founding fathers of the industry established in the ’80s. He was one of the first guys to push Long Inland wines outside the region. He got American Airlines to carry his wine. I have to admit I’ve been a little disappointed in Palmer’s wines the last few years but I always go back to try the new vintages.

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Wine making duties have been taken over by Spanish-born winemaker Miguel Marting. Today I started with their Barrel fermented flight. Three white wines that see a good amount of oak. The 2010 Pinot Blanc was medium gold with a nose of pineapple and ripe peaches with creamy fruit and firm acids and oak on the finish. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc had a very dark gold color with a petrol, oily nose. It wasn’t as ripe as the color suggested and was dry with tight fruit. The 2009 Reserve Chardonnay was dark gold with a nose of butterscotch and was ripe and buttery with toasty fruit and tongue tighting tannin on the finish. These were all big, ripe wines.

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The last couple of wines were some of the most exciting wines I’ve tried on the Island for a while. The 2011 Albarino is very limited in production and is served in a 500ml bottle . I believe that Palmer is the only winery growing this Spanish varietal on Long Island. It was light gold with a clean citrus nose, moderate fruit with a clean and crisp finish. Nice wine that was completely different from the wines in the flight I had earlier. Another wine that has a small production and served in the 500ml bottle format was the 2011 Aromatico. A blend of Muscat Canelli and Malvasia, a couple of grape varietals that you don’t see often out East, the wine was light gold with a big perfume of ripe peaches and tasted much drier than the nose would lead you to believe. It had some nice orange peel notes on the crisp finish.  Very unique wines and well done and they used decent glasses too.

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I next stopped at Osprey’s Dominion located at 44075 Main Road. One of the off the radar wineries, I had some nice juice this afternoon. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was dark with warm dark plum and camphor on the nose, dusty fruit with some astringency on the finish. They opened one of their library wines to taste, the 2000 Cabernet Franc, it was medium red to dark in color with a nose of smoky dried herbs, tight silky fruit with a firm long finish.  Very nice, it was from a just opened bottle would have liked to air it out for a few minutes. I tried their award-winning 2009 Pinot Noir. Light red to dark, unfiltered so some cloudiness in the glass, it had a nose of cinnamon and black cherry with chewy fruit and a nice balanced finish, it was a nice glass of wine.