Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trade Tasting

So I woke up this morning with my make up still on, popcorn stuck in my teeth and a thick cloud around my head…… all pretty clear signs that I had gotten myself into trouble the night before. Not shocking I guess but I still grumbled while I was washing the crusty mascara from my puffy face, “Why? Why did we drink soooo much” the answer is easy, the wines are just that good.

Yesterday I hitched a ride with Chuck, (our Beaune Imports sales rep) to the Beaune Imports trade tasting in Los Angeles, Amy had class so she was going to meet me there later……better to have just one car, plus I was planning on tasting everything, (Amy was sticking to a few Burgundies and mostly just white wine) so my not driving was a good plan. Chuck and I got to the venue early and waited for Michael Sullivan, (owner of Beaune Imports) and Justin, (another sales rep) to show up with the wine.

Once they arrived we got busy getting the wines lined up, popping corks and getting the white wines on ice…..man I wish I was on ice too as it was freaking roasting in that room and while opening a bottle of wine is not really labor intensive, opening 145 bottles can be…..I was spritzing and the 20 minutes I spent on my hair that morning was a complete waste, my head was sweating profusely and looked like a wet cat. Everyone was working full speed and I was happy to help, I kind of like preparing for a tasting and while this was not my tasting I wanted to pitch in because I like these cats, love those wines and Michael Sullivan has helped me so much in this silly wine career of mine that providing a bit of slave labor was the very least I go do.

Once everything was up and running I stepped around to the other side of the table and got busy tasting. Michael prefers that you taste red before white, (which I agree with and do at my own tastings now) so I started with Beaujolais and moved on to Burgundy. I was thrilled with the 2006 wines from Camus-Bruchon, the wines were light, elegant and full of that smoky thing I love about the wines from Savigny-Les-Beaune. While I found them all tasty it was the Savigny-Les Narbantons 1er Cru, (deeply fruited, meaty tasting with a punch of sexy smoke) and the Beaune Clos du Roi 1er Cru, (Pretty floral, black cherry rich with a touch of spice and a grippy tannic finish) that really stood out for me. The Confuron-Cotetidot wines were really tight yesterday….a tad too tight for me to get much from them, they were mostly from the 2004 vintage and that may be why, as the vintage was not as showy or fruit forward. With some vigorous swirling I was able to shake some dark cherry notes and spice from them but they just need more time to show their stuff.

The Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet reds were elegant and very easy to taste with the 2006 Monthelie being my favorite once again. It was so good in fact that I used a few swear words in my tasting notes, the aromatics were stunning, flavor was bright and fresh and the finish was assertive without being aggressive….really delicious bottle of Burgundy.

I was lucky enough to taste the 2006 Domaine de Montille wines a couple of months back when Etienne de Montille was in town but I still tasted through them again yesterday, it was fun comparing my notes from the last time I had tasted them…..turns out they were pretty close! The Pommard Les Pezerolles knocked my socks off! So serious, with rich dark fruit, long layers of fruit, smoke, spice and earth….wow! My other favorite was the Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Thorey, Amy loved this one too. It was very pretty with an almost sappy richness and super fine tannins.

The other reds that blew my mind were the 2006 Cave de Chante Perdrix St. Joseph, (this may just end up being one of Wine of the Year picks…about as good a Syrah can get) 2005 Chateau Gigognan Chateauneuf-du-Pape, (we will be doing a tasting of these wines in November, keep an eye out because they are fantastic) 2006 Clos Marie Metairies du Clos, (sexy as all get out, it was hard to spit this one….okay I confess I didn’t, I let myself drink this one) 2004 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny, (a touch high on acid but very pure, gamey and with amazing structure) and both the Vacqueyras and Gigondas from Chateau Montmirail, (tremendous value…plump fruit, tons of spice and grippy tannins).

Now for the whites…..seriously, this importer has some mind boggling wines.

I skipped the Domaine Goisot and Herve Azo wines because we just did a tasting at The Wine Country a couple of weeks ago so I already knew the wines and there was so much more to taste! I am hoping that Amy gets back to blogging and posts on the White Burgundies we tasted, she was flipping out and she loves those wines more than anyone….but the wines that bowled me over were those from Domaine Deux Montille. The Pouilly-Fuisse was packed with Citrus, pears and little bits of herby flavors, so bright and fresh tasting. 2006 Meursault Casse Tete was a wicked blend of power and elegance, tons of salted caramel, baked apples and wet stones…full and rich but with a laser sharp acidity. 2006 Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes was packed with creamy flavors, butter, scalded milk, caramel…lovely weight in the mouth with a fresh almost lemony finish. I also loved the 2006 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots this was a massive mouthful of Chardonnay….nutty, stony, bready, ripe and lush with tremendous complexity and depth…so putting some of this away in my little wine fridge.

The Domaine Roland Schmitt wines were better than ever and tasting through the “special” bottling made me think I need to bring them in to the store. While I love the, “little wines”, (Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Gewurztraminer) that we have for their freshness, light textures and crispness these “bigger” wines are so complex, rich and deeply expressive. The 2007 Riesling Altenberg de Bergbieten Grand Cru was a show stopper, I didn’t want to stop smelling it.

The Loire wines, (Bailly, Vieux Pruniers, Henry Pelle and Francois Chidaine) were awesome and will have spots on our racks for as long as they are available….gotta tell you that 2006 Vieux Pruniers Sancerre is hands down my favorite Sancerre right now but the 2006 Bailly Sancerre Prestige is going to give it a run for its money. They are so different that I guess they can both be my favorite….the Pruniers being all minerals and grapefruit and the Bailly with its guava and tropical flavors, guess it will just depend on the food and my mood!

Sparkling wines were super fun and I never turn down a chance to drink Agrapart….but the NV Francois Chidaine Sparkling Montlouis was on fire yesterday, much toastier than I remembered it…it was so freaking tasty! I spent more time than I should at the bubble table, it was my happy place, could have spent the entire day right there at that table…..but there was one more table to taste, it was the most popular of the afternoon and the only reason one of the people attended, (really tacky move and even more tacky to tell everyone that by the way) and that was the Didier Dagueneau Retrospective…

Those of you that read this blog know that I was crushed when I heard about Didier’s passing, he wasn’t a friend per se but I had met him a few times and had many great memories of him and his wines. A very special man that made wines that were like him…..larger than life. So when I got the invitation to this tasting and saw what Michael Sullivan was doing I knew I was in for a remarkable afternoon.

Michael had pulled wine from his own cellar I assume and was sharing them with us, Dagueneau from 1994 to 2006….really amazing thing to do I have to tell you. We tasted:

1994 Silex

1995 Pur Sang

1996 Silex

1997 Buisson Menard

1998 En Chailloux

1999 Pur Sang

2000 Buisson Menard

2001 Silex

2002 Silex (a magnum)

2003 Buisson Menard

2003 Pur Sang

2004 Buisson Menard (a magnum)

2005 Silex (a magnum)

2006 Pur Sang (a magnum)

2006 Jurancon Jardin de Babylone

I mean come on…..I just stood there looking at the bottles, in awe of this….gift really, that Michael Sullivan was giving us. I kept my pours light so that everyone would get a chance to taste but I made sure to taste each wine….really taste them, unbelievable….the wines were still so full of life, tremendous weight and flavor……I will never forget them….or him. To Michael Sullivan I have to say, thank you so much for giving us such an amazing experience, once again I am stunned by your generosity and desire to teach us all a little something....I am grateful for both.

With about 40 minutes left of the tasting Amy and our friend Sonya were thinking about food and trying to think of place to go, when Chuck came up and said, “where you going?” so seemed like everyone was getting hungry and we were all craving Ramen. We mentioned it to Michael and he was down for getting his grub on as well…only problem was the tasting ended at 2:30 and most of the great noodle houses close between lunch and dinner so the timing was a little off. The girls decided to go ahead and scout out a place and I opted to stay and help break down the tasting….mostly because I knew those silly boys were going to stand around, talk and drink more wine if I wasn’t there to crack the ol’ whip on them! The second the big hand hit 6 I was pushing corks into bottles and shoving them into cases….there was like 9 cases of half drunk bottles of really amazing wines….heartbreaking to just shove them into boxes but what could we do….you know aside from grabbing a few to drink with our bowl of noodles.

Everything cleaned up and we were on our way to meet the girls at the spot they found. Sonya had managed to wrestle us up some glasses…..plastic tumblers but whatever, they worked and we slurped and sipped until we could slurp no more….sipping was still doable. Michael didn’t need to be at LAX until 7 so there was time…for a drink or two, you know because we hadn’t had enough to drink and all.

Next thing I know we are being dropped off at Amy’s car and we are on our way back to Long Beach, that’s when Amy said, “You know, I think I want one more drink”….does anyone ever have just one more drink? I think when you hear, “One more drink” it is a safe bet that the one that uttered the phrase has probably had one too many…..well if it is me you can count on it! Amy was being very good all day so it was her turn to get a bit wild and who am I to keep her from that? We ended up at Interlude, our favorite dive bar and I had to text the hubby, “at Interlude come get me” as there was not a chance in hell I was driving anywhere! I sipped my gin and tonic and ate handfuls of the house popped popcorn while Amy and I discussed the wines, politics, boys and who has it tougher, those with above average or below average cup size….we were dealing with some deep crap there at the Interlude. Before I knew it I woke up this morning with my make up still on and popcorn in my teeth…..

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