Category Archives: France

1998 Les Cailloux CNdP

Stored Cailloux? That one works as well.

Les Cailloux remains one of my favorite wines; gentle, elegant and smooth. I have reviewed it several times on this blog. So you could imagine that I was happy when I managed to get my hands on some mature bottles. The year is 1998, which in the Wine Spectator scores a blazing 97 points, and according to the Mighty R. Parker gets 98 points with the passus that the vintage is an early drinker. So, dear readers, if the 1998 Les Cailloux is a fuck-up, it appears at least as if they had destiny in their own hands.

I aired it for about an hour, thinking that a relatively gentle wine as Cailloux ought to be a fragile genie that should not be exposed to anImage excessive amount of air after so many years in a bottle, but it was initially – surprisingly – in fact quite tight and closed on the nose. The first thing that strikes you is the scent of raspberries. This is followed by rose hip and minerals. Being Friday night, the staple goods at Casa Nordin is always filé of ox, bearnaise sauce and sallad from cantaloupe, cucumber and feta cheese (strongly recommended!). I am likely to eat just that until the day I die. So: the wine gets another half an hour in the glass from my first sip after decanting until the food is prepared and on the table.

And I really have to say that it improves. Being such an elegant wine from the get-go, I was not expecting it to show something special after the hour of airing (since it seemed slightly dull) and just figured that it had passed it peak. After all, this is not a tannic monster demanding hours of oxygen, not even in its youth.

To my surprise, it came out as a Pinot Noir, with a lovely nose of raspberries, strawberries and ginger. Really soft tannins- but not lacking structure. If it had been a blind tasting, I would have guessed it was a Pinot. The color would suggest the same with an orangey brim. However, possibly because I know this is a CNdP, I also spot a spicy sensation suggesting rosemary and pepper. This is nice, even though I would not wait for another bunch of years before consuming it. I still think Les Cailloux is best drunk young, or at least semi-young. As mentioned earlier, the 2007 is currently perfect, even though I will save a couple of bottles for another five years. Just for scientific purposes. 90p.

2006 Les Cailloux CNdP

This remains one of my favorite domains. Les Cailloux always delivers the goods.

The 2006 Les Cailloux Châteauneuf-du-Pape is no exception to the rule. Soft, velvety, nicely balanced. DSC_0351Les Cailloux is smooth even as very young, but this is surely perfectly rounded off. It has none of the boisterous notes that oftentimes are found in infant CNdPs. I gave it an hour of aeration, which is recommended. Garrigue, blueberries, slightly peppery with a mineral sensation and a long finish. Again a great effort. It is hard to find a better wine at 300 SEK. Can be found at Franska Vinkompaniet92p.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the prestige cuvée of Les Cailloux – the Centenaire – which is only produced in exceptional vintages. The vines are about 100 years old. Being a 2010, it was still young, but already approachable. It is most certainly one of the best wines I have ever had, and I would rate it somewhere in the range of 96-98p. It does not come for free, but at 900 SEK is still good value as compared to equally rated wines from e.g. Bordeaux or Burgundy.

2011 Domaine Pégaü

Longtime favourite Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer Pégaü excels even in a lesser vintage.

The cool summer in Southern Rhône 2011 calls for a gentler vintage as compared to the previous, immediately preceding DSC_0287ones which have produced top-scoring and powerful CNdPs. To me, that is not a problem since the last years have seen CNdPs approaching 16 % ABV, which in my opinion is an unwelcome trend. The 2011 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée has an amazing nose of licorice, dark berries, bay leaves, cured meat and black tea. It was aired for a couple of hours, and its scent is so sophisticated and on pitch. Medium-to-full bodied with a velvety mouth feeling. It displays the toned-down intensity of a wine in great balance where the tannins are in perfect harmony. Every bit as good as 2010, 2009 and 2007. Cellar these three vintages and drink 2011 over the next coming years. Can temporarily be found at Franska Vinlistan at a very decent price of 359 SEK. 93p.

DSC_02902009 Château Faugères was tasted in a previous post. A couple of weeks ago, I drank it again, and it is starting to come together. This is an unusually powerful St. Emilion. A blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense and chewy, where the tannins are starting to integrate, but need some more time to fully integrate. Dark cherries, chocolate, vanilla and mint. Full-bodied. Already accessible but could use another couple of years of calming down. Just a few bottles left at Systembolaget. 92p.

2010 Azienda Agricola Morella Primitivo Mezzanotte is a pleasant experience. I DSC_0292have had my fair share of lousy Primitivos, in particular at the start of my career is a wine geek. This is, however, from a producer of top-notch Primitivo reviewed in a previous post, and a completely different animal from your ordinary sunburnt Puglian Primitivos. Licorice, dark cherries and spices. Nicely balanced and shows no top-heaviness despite its 15% ABV. Medium-bodied. 75% Primitivo and 25% Negroamaro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, I bought it a for 108 SEK, but it now seems to be out of stock. Nice Sunday wine to accompany a pizza. 85p.

2010 Tardieu-Laurent CNdP Vielles Vignes

Maison Tardieu-Laurent, located in Lourmarin an hour Southwest of Avignon, is a négociant working with 60 to 70 growers throughout the Rhône valley.

DSC_02652010 Tardieu-Laurent Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vielles Vignes is made from 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah, where the grapes are culled from vines having an age of 80, 50 and 30 years, respectively. This is really a knock-out. A very dense and powerful wine, yet in great balance. I had this to barbecued rib-eye and asparagus this Saturday. Great combo. The smell is beautiful: blackberries, plum, garrigue, warm stones. No fining or filtration of the wine is performed. Intense, full-bodied and yet elegant. Loooongg finish. Just the right bitter twist brought on by Grenache in the finish to keep it on the ground. This should age well. But what the hell, with three hours of airing, it is instantly accessible. 93p.

A couple of weeks ago, I also had the sister wine 2009 Tardieu-Laurent Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale. 100% Grenache from vines being 80-100 years old! Unfortunately, I do not have any tasting notes, but I can reminisce a sensation of blueberry muffin; very fruit (or berry) driven. An extraordinary wine. Extremely soft and velvety. More elegant than the Vielles Vignes and even scoring higher. 94p.

2010 Ch Phélan Ségur

St.-Estèphe excels again – in flintstone masonry.

Saint-Estèphe, the northernmost of the classic Médoc appellations, is known for producing harsh and tough wines requiring years of cellar maturing.

2010 Château Phélan Ségur is no exception to the rule. Being rated as one out of nine Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels in the 2003 classification, it DSC_0264is regarded as one of the finest Châteaus outside of the original 1855 Médoc classification. At 424 SEK, it does not come cheap, and in my opinion, this wine is not worth that kind of money. On the nose, it is terrific: black currant confiture, cedar tree, peppermint, minerals. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. On the palate, however, it is rather harsh and has a metallic and acrid, grapefrutish feel, even after hours of airing. It gets slightly better, but the acrid sensation never really diminishes. Nice length and body, though. Certainly, it is not bad, and would be ok for a wine costing half as much. However, the acridity would still be an issue. 2010 should be a forgiving vintage (this one clocks in at 14 % ABV), and maybe it is just still very young, but I would still put my money elsewhere. 88p.

la turFortunately, my Swiss colleague Christian was nice enough to give me a cheese a couple of weeks ago called La Tur, completely unknown to me. It is a blend of pasteurized cow, goat and sheep milk from Piemonte. Friday two weeks ago it was still holding together, the week after it was getting sooooft and smeeelly. My wife is not overly happy with it. Today, it was not a cheese anymore but a living animal (albeit smelling like a dead one). Truly coming apart at the seems. Magnificent! Come home from work next Friday and it will have walked away with the refrigerator. Swiss people sure knows their way around cheese, even Italian ones.

2010 Ch du Tertre

Château du Tertre excels again- a lightweight champion.

Like most Bordeaux 2010s, du Tertre is a relatively sun-kissed wine with Bordelais standards. However, the du Tertre is a lightweight MargauxDSC_0250 in all vintages, so the preamble in the above is fortunately true even for the “warm” vintage of 2010. I am really fond of this wine, and apparently, it never compromises with its elegant characteristic. not even in a relatively plump vintage. The 2008 was rated in a previous post.

I recently attended a 2012 Bordeaux barrel tasting with 30-40 different producers, and from a general point of view, the barrel samples of 2012 are far from complete (indeed, they have another year of barrel maturing before being bottled), and frankly come across as ungenerous and slightly grumpy. Not many of them struck a chord in me. However, the Chateau du Tertre came out nice, even in a lesser vintage like 2012. It remains to be seen whether the end result still is good about a year from now.

The nose in the 2010 du Tertre is fantastically herbaceous: cedar tree, black currants, chocolate, spices and underbrush. This is the vegetal kind I really appreciate with Bordeaux. Even though e.g, Tuscany makes fantastic Bordeaux blends, they often lack the grassy and vegetal feel of the origin. Soft, elegant and medium-bodied, still with terrific structure. Gentle but still noticable tannins. 92p.

1996 Leclerc-Briant Cuvée Divine

Champagne and Bruschetta…what a lovely combination! The contrast between French luxury and Italian simplicity is striking, but it sure turns out to be a nice match.

Leclerc-Briant from Epernay, the “capitol” of Champagne, has vineyards in no less than six villages. The 1996 Leclerc-Briant Divine is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

A big body Champagne which in my opinion – in spite of its age – probably would last for another five years. The Cellartracker community recommends it is drunk this year at the latest, but if you sit on a couple of these bottles, you have no reason to worry; it will live to see its twentieth year!

Pleasant and expressive nose of green apples, minerals, brioche and almonds. Good acidity, nutty, round and powerful with a lovely taste of apples. Still fresh. Again, a 1996 Champagne displays all the alleged qualities of the vintage. 91p.

I also – again – have to give my thumbs-up to the arguably best Merlot I’ve had: the 2005 Mas Comtal Petrea from Penedés in Spain, not far from Barcelona.

I’ve written about the Petrea in a previous post, and this really is an extraordinary wine. Oddly enough, the price has been lowered from 297 down to 239 SEK at Systembolaget. And this already was great value at the old, higher price! You’ll certainly have to exert yourselves to find a wine at this quality for this kind of money.

Subtle and elegant; dark cherries, spices, licorice and chocolate. If I didn’t know it was a Spanish wine, I’d probably guess it was Italian. Powerful yet silky. Complex and intense with a bigger body than I remember from the last tasting. However, at 13.5% ABV, it is still well-balanced. Brilliant. Lucky me nobody is buying it. 92p.

Janasse Revisited

I had my last in-stock bottle of 2008 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition this evening. Dammit! Is this the best CNdP standard cuvée around?  

Sure, there are other “standard” cuvées that rival this one: Beaucastel, Morodorée, Clos de Papes, etc., but these are generally +500 SEK wines. Again, the 2008 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Tradition is fantastic. One more time, it comes to show that “off year” 2008 beats allegedly exceptional vintages 2007 and 2009; instead of an over-the-top, 16 % ABV jawbreaker, you get an elegant, silky and highly sophisticated wine (well, it’s still 14,5 % ABV…after all, this is Southern Rhône).

Fortunately, I have three bottles of the prestige bottling 2009 Chaupin being a 100% Grenache from the top-notch vineyard of the same name and another three of the even more prestigious bottling Vielles Vignes producing fruit from vines over 80 years old. I am not likely to open these bottles within the next 10 years. In addition to being cuvées worthy of bottle maturation, 2009 is one hell of a sturdy year. Even less ambitious brands are likely to improve with further maturation.

So how was the 2008 Janasse CNdP Tradition this time around? Very   consistent. On the nose, it has blackberries, dark cherries, cured meat, spices. Smooth, round and balanced with well-integrated tannins. It is rather unusual to come across a CNdP as well-balanced as Janasse. Les Cailloux is the closest comparison I come to think of. Silky and elegant. It’s like drinking velvet. Deep red, dense and complex. Black cherries, licorice and white pepper on the palate. Just perfect. 92p.


2009 Ch Fourcas-Hosten

The vintage of 2009 is regarded as an exceptional one in Bordeaux: perhaps even better than the near-perfect 2005. July and August were hot, generally producing big, ripe and full-bodied wines.

This is not evident in the 2009 Château Fourcas-Hosten from Listrac on the Médoc, which in my mind is a welcome characteristic. At 13 % ABV, it is not over the top, but balanced and moderate. I opened a bottle this Friday evening and aired in a decanter for an hour before pouring a glass. However, the wine was extremely closed and did not do itself justice. This is not all that surprising, since young Bordeauxs often have that particular characteristic. My wife agreed that it just wasn’t up to par at the moment, so I plugged the cork in the bottle and put in the fridge for another 24 hours. Then, I again poured it in a decanted for another 1-1.5 hours. Now it had opened up more, but it would certainly benefit from another five years in the cellar.

Closed and tight but with rather pleasant tannins. Elegantly vegetal on the nose with nice berry fruit, in particular black currants, and herbs. Medium-bodied, pleasant and not at all representative of the vintage (as I have understood judgements in the press). However, the finish is disappointing with a green and bitter sensation, almost grapefruitish. Leaving me with this green aftertaste, I am hesitant to give it a positive forecast, since the bitter finish is not likely to wear off with bottle maturing. It is unfortunate that it does not have a more generous end. This finish is somewhat surprising given the allegedly ripe and big vintage. 83p.

Mordorée Rosé

Could the Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Rosé Cuvée de la Reine des Bois be the best still rosé wine ever made? From the Tavel appellation just across the Rhône river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, sometimes regarded as the finest region for producing still rosé wines.

The first vintage I tried of the Mordorée premium rosé was 2009 a couple of years ago when visiting the Domaine just north of Avignon, and I was instantly hooked. The Domaine is in fact located in the region of Tavel, even though their claim to fame is based on the reputation of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape produced. The RdB rosé has been consistently good in the three vintages I’ve tasted it. The RdB is their top selection, but they also have another Tavel rosé cuvée; the La Dame Rousse. In fact, they also produce a Côtes-du-Rhône rosé and a Vin de France rosé. Both the LDR and the CdR score consistently good in the Cellartracker community.

The 2011 Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Rosé Cuvée de la Reine des Bois has a fantastic deep ruby colour, not significant to your ordinary rosé. The 2010 RdB was a blend of 60% Grenache, 15% Clairette, 10% Cinsault, 10% Syrah and 5% Bourboulenc. Strawberries, minerals and slight sensation of fresh herbs. Dry and unusually structured. Crisp, fresh and balanced. A full body rosé. There is nothing I would rather want to drink on a summer’s day. This is also a perfect food rosé due to its structure and dryness. 90p.

Note that the second-in-line rosé selection from Domaine de la Mordorée, the La Dame Rousse, is in stock at Systembolaget. I could imagine that the LDR is great too.