Desvignes 2000 Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (Beaujolais) – Served blind, with guesses all over the map, and none of them close…save Panos Kakaviatos, who briefly mentioned Beaujolais on his way to the general consensus of “no idea.” There was agreement that it tasted nothing like pinot or Burgundy, but that’s as far as it went. As for the wine: meaty and dark, with smoke berries and herbal, cough-drop eucalyptus. Very structured and moody. This would appear to have some years left to go, though it’s a pretty interesting wine right now. (6/07)
Desvignes 2000 Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (Beaujolais) – Corked. My last bottle, too. (6/07)
JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2001 Beaujolais “L’Ancien Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Spiky, red cherry-dominated and acidic, with a seedy, brittle finish. I think this one has gone as long as it can. It’s tasty and vivid, but unquestionably thinning around the perimeter. (5/07)
Domaine Chassagne 2005 Morgon Côtes de Ruillères (Beaujolais) – The ghost of Beaujolais passed; spiky, juicy, somewhat hollow and semi-candied redfruit like that of the carbonic maceration Beaujolais I used to drink when I was first getting into wine. As befits a Morgon of this vintage, there’s some serious tannin, and all around is structure, but the core of fruit in its midst is exceedingly unserious. This is the first 2005 I’ve tasted that I believe I’ll avoid in the future. (5/07)
JM Burgaud 2005 Morgon Côte du Py “Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Very muscular and tough; not showing much, but grudgingly giving up some chewy, dark berry fruit and crushed violets. Mostly, though, it’s earthy and tannic, with firm acidity not helping to smooth matters. Leave it alone for a long while. (4/07)
JM Burgaud 2004 Morgon Côte du Py “Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Frowning black fruit, mixed wild mushrooms, crushed and soil-ridden flowers shudder under the steady drumbeat of deep-toned contrabass structure. It’s pretty, but masculine; approachable, but ageable. It’s quite a wine. (4/07)
JM Burgaud 2005 Morgon Côte du Py “Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Structure built upon structure, with only the blackest, night-shadowed hints of bitter chocolate cherries and blackberries peeking through the heavy metal bars in which they’re encaged. Throbbing but forbidding, and in no mood to be opened anytime soon. (4/07)
Guignier 2004 Morgon “Réserve Vieilles Vignes” (Beaujolais) – Clipped and trimmed about the edges, which is a shame. At the core there’s a slick, dark-earth/dark-berry juiciness and some light but firm tannin, but there’s just not much else going on here. I’m not sure I see a future…or a present. (4/07)
Desvignes 2000 Morgon Côte du Py Javernières (Beaujolais) – Structured blood and iron, with morels and dark fruit in the mix. The finish shatters into iron filings. Gorgeous wine that’s not turning into some sort of Burgundy analogue, but is instead following its own delicious path; a beautiful marriage of a stupendous terroir and a terrific producer. It’s most certainly ready to go, and the organoleptics are probably at their most appealing, but I don’t think there’s any danger of it falling apart anytime soon either, given the still-weighty structure. (2/07)
Notes from a few days in Montréal and Vermont:
Dard & Ribo 2004 St-Joseph (Rhône) – Exciting and complex, if fairly primary, showing grilled blackberry residue, pure essence of nighttime blueberry, and the essential Northern Rhône “meat liqueur” character, all layered over rich, dark black earth dusted with urfa pepper. The acidity is shockingly vivid. Outstanding. (8/06)
St-Joseph is becoming like Cornas: a appellation almost forgotten outside of the work of a very few committed producers. These 100% syrahs lack the masculinity of Hermitage and the Burgundian elegance of Côte-Rôtie, but replace them with more upfront fruit and a generous texture. Plus, they’re cheaper than both. This should be a recipe for export success, shouldn’t it? Closure: cork.
Foillard 2004 Morgon Côte du Py (Beaujolais) – Perfectly ripe berries bursting from their skins, showering fresh tarragon and light grey graphite with beautifully enticing juice. It’s light and flirty as an apéritif, more serious and substantial with food, and effortlessly moves between the two states. This is the kind of wine that makes you want to roll around in the grass and giggle. (8/06)
Gamay is not often an ageable grape, except over the very short term, but from a few select terroirs the story changes. Morgon Côte du Py is one such terroir. But unlike some other ageable Beaujolais terroirs, like Moulin-à-Vent, the solidity and structure is not immediately evident. Morgon Côte du Py bridges the gap between the pure aromatic delight of other Beaujolais and the deceptively firm construction necessary to support the wine’s future development. Closure: cork.
Cazes 1991 Rivesaltes “Ambré” (Roussillon) – Old sugar, caramelized and spicy with moderate oxidative notes and a crisp, apple-skin bite sharpened by walnut oil. It’s not particularly complex, but it’s quite delicious. (8/06)
Rivesaltes of this form is a vin doux naturel, which means high-sugar grapes have their fermentation blocked by the addition of alcohol, thus fortifying the wine and leaving it with a good deal of residual sugar. This method is more familiar when used to make Port, but it’s done all over the winemaking world, and is very common around the Mediterranean. Fortified muscat is the best known form of this wine, but this particular bottling happens to be made from grenache blanc. And finally, these wines are typically consumed young…but as this wine shows, given the right conditions they can age quite well. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.cazes-rivesaltes.com/.
Serge Dagueneau 2004 Pouilly-Fumé “Les Pentes” (Loire) – Light, pale schist and dust through a gauzy filter, with faint grass and green apple notes. A very indistinct wine that tastes completely stripped. (8/06)
100% sauvignon blanc, with none of the allegedly-signature “gunflint” promised by the appellation, and every evidence that the wine has been excessively filtered. Pouilly-Fumé doesn’t have an excessive number of high-quality proponents, but I’ve had much better from this domaine in the past. Web: http://www.s-dagueneau-filles.fr/.
Cazes “Chateau Les Ormes de Pez” 1996 Saint-Estèphe (Bordeaux) – Almost as pure an expression of the classic Bordeaux descriptor “cigar box” as one will ever experience. And “almost” because the other major aromatic impression is of sticky waves of butterscotch-tinged oak. There’s a really beautiful wine lurking in here, but the wood – at least at this stage – is doing its best to bury it. A shame, really, but maybe time will heal this wound. (8/06)
A cabernet sauvignon-dominated blend (with merlot and cabernet franc playing supporting roles). As for the oak…unfortunately, that horse left the barn a long time ago, and it’s probably too late to coax it back in. How Bordeaux is improved by being made to taste more like anonymous New World cabernet I can’t imagine. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.ormesdepez.com/.
Everett Ridge 1999 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) – Massive blackberry and boysenberry fruit bordering on concentrate, with jammy inclinations only slightly mitigated by a nice dose of ground black pepper. A one-note wine…though it’s a tasty note. (8/06)
Zinfandel is capable of aging, certainly (though a significant number of the most ageable are not 100% zinfandel at all), but – especially these days – two destines are more likely. The first is excessive alcohol dominating all else, which is the fate of some of the more overdriven and overripe versions (though high alcohol at bottling is not a 100% reliable indicator). The second is where we find this wine: ever-more concentrated fruit, moving from on-the-vine, to jam, to syrup. (More coverage of Everett Ridge can be found here.) Closure: cork. Web: http://www.everettridge.com/.
Isabel 2004 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) – Slightly heat-damaged by the external evidence, and the wine bears this out: the intense aromatics and green-tinged edges are gone, replaced by a creamy, pear-dominated wine that’s primarily about its texture. Sourced from the New Hampshire state liquor system, which has a long and dedicated history of baking their product. (8/06)
The state of this wine is a shame, because Isabel – while it has gone through peaks and valleys – makes a sauvignon blanc that does not ape the popular tropical fruit salsa (complete with hot pepper) style, but rather exercises restraint in the pursuit of structure. Also, their sauvignon blancs are much drier than most of what’s commercially available these days. Alcohol: 12.5%. Closure: cork. Web: http://www.isabelestate.com/.
Aucœur 1999 Morgon “Cuvée Jean Claude Aucœur” (Beaujolais) – Fully mature, showing sun-dried strawberries and raspberries under a smooth, autumnal haze. Gorgeous, dried fruit-flower aromatics and a narrow core of black truffle complete a wine that, at maturity, has only a hint of pinot; the terroir and the gamay speak most clearly here. Very nice.
Not all terroirs in Beaujolais can be relied upon to age, but Morgon is one that tends to; in fact, it was an aged Morgon Côte-du-Py at Les Maritonnes in Romanèche-Thorins, way back in the days of my honeymoon, that opened my eyes to the beauty of these wines after some age. The problem is, of course, that they often taste so good young. Alcohol: 13%. Importer: Violette.