Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

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Thomas De Waen
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Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#1 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 4th, 2019, 11:32 am

Following all the debates about natural wines' ability to age, I organised a tasting with friends (of which 3 MWs) the purpose of which was to show that great natural wines age beautifully.

I brought 9 bottles from my cellar to the Portland restaurant in London:

- Ganevat Vignes de Mon Pere 2002, biodynamic, no sulfites
- Richard Leroy Noels de Montbenault 2012, biodynamic, no sulfites
- Richard Leroy Noels de Montbenault 2013, biodynamic, no sulfites
- Anglore Tavel Vintage, 2012, bio, less than 1g/hl sulfites
- Claire Naudin, Hautes Cotes de Nuits Viola Odorata 2012, bio, 1g sulfites/hl at bottling
- Frederic Cossard, Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Argillieres 1999, bio, no sulfites
- Lapierre, Morgon 2005 (Cuvee Sans Souffre), bio, no sulfites
- Lapierre, MMV (that's the special Cuvee of 2005), bio, 3g sulfites/hl at bottling
- Chateau le Puy, Cotes de Francs, Cuvee Barthelemy 1998 (biodynamic, no sulfites)

All were very fresh and clean. Only faulty wine was the 2002 Ganevat (corked). Tasting notes should appear soon on Jancis' website.

The wine of the evening, for me, was the 2005 Morgon Sans Souffre. Ruby red, pinot like, very long and persistent yet so subtle. Very pure. It's not made to impress but capture the essence of what I look for in a wine. Magical juice. The l'Anglore was straight up delicious as was the Cossard and Naudin (whole bunches made it very fragrant).

Many of the wines actually took a while to open up: the Lapierre MMV needed a good 40 minutes to show its stuff, the Leroy 2013 was initially very reductive (to avoid oxidation) and took 30mins to open up.

Marcel Lapierre is arguably the most influential winemaker of the last 30 years and yet his wines can no longer be bought anywhere (try on wine-searcher... he died in 2010 so that vintage and beyond are made by his 2 children).

I get as annoyed as anyone at being told that a faulty wine is "what natural wine is meant to taste like" by snotty Brooklyn sommeliers: for them, the medium is the message. But the producers we tasted last night don't particularly care about being called natural, they want to make great wines that speak to them in a way that makes sense to them. The results are absolutely thrilling and built to last...

----
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#2 Post by Markus S » December 4th, 2019, 12:22 pm

Didn't the 02 Mon Pere just come out? These are released over 10 years from their vintage date.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#3 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 4th, 2019, 12:33 pm

Markus S wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 12:22 pm
Didn't the 02 Mon Pere just come out? These are released over 10 years from their vintage date.
No - the current vintage is 07, I think. Bought 06 a couple of years ago.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#4 Post by Nathan V. » December 4th, 2019, 1:10 pm

Thomas De Waen wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 11:32 am
I get as annoyed as anyone at being told that a faulty wine is "what natural wine is meant to taste like" by snotty Brooklyn sommeliers: for them, the medium is the message. But the producers we tasted last night don't particularly care about being called natural, they want to make great wines that speak to them in a way that makes sense to them. The results are absolutely thrilling and built to last...
I think we need to ease off the kids in Brooklyn. I also disagree that none of these producers care about being called natural. Eric Pfifferling of l'Anglore in particular is a vanguard natural wine producer.

That being said, I totally agree with you that apex producers make great wines, natural or not. One of the interesting things for me over the last few years has been re-discovering natural wines. Wines that I had written off a decade or more ago because of too many flaws were now gorgeous. "Natural" winemaking is hard and not everyone is up to the task. Your list is an excellent one if someone wants to see what natural wines are all about but has only seen the old men yelling at clouds here or the "think" pieces in the media. One note is that you need to be really careful who you buy these wines from and how you buy them. If you go to wine-searcher, find the lowest price and ship them all over the US you are much less likely to have a good experience.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#5 Post by Hank Victor » December 4th, 2019, 3:45 pm

Looking forward to the article on JR.com.

Good wines will age.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#6 Post by patrick c albright » December 4th, 2019, 4:20 pm

A 1991 Lapierre Morgon drank two weeks ago in Lyon was simply incredible and was a world class wine in every regard.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#7 Post by Nathan V. » December 5th, 2019, 12:07 pm

patrick c albright wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 4:20 pm
A 1991 Lapierre Morgon drank two weeks ago in Lyon was simply incredible and was a world class wine in every regard.
1991 was an exceptional vintage in the Beaujolais. I bet that wine was a real treat.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#8 Post by William Kelley » December 6th, 2019, 6:21 am

Thomas De Waen wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 12:33 pm
Markus S wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 12:22 pm
Didn't the 02 Mon Pere just come out? These are released over 10 years from their vintage date.
No - the current vintage is 07, I think. Bought 06 a couple of years ago.
You are right, 2007 is the current release.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#9 Post by Keith Levenberg » December 6th, 2019, 6:57 am

Natural wine jumped the shark when it became all about sulfur. It didn't used to be that way!

Some wines age fine without sulfur, some don't, and I'm not aware of any way of telling which is which on release just by tasting. I am getting a bit tired of pouring once-great wines down the sink, so I'm basically done gambling in that category. It's also true that there are some beautiful things that can be done sans sulfur that seemingly can't be done with it, which is great so long as it's something you can enjoy without taking chances on cellar time. The Claire Naudin wines are a good example. I adore the flower labels on release even more than her higher-end stuff, but for my palate the year or two after release is as good as they get, no point waiting.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#10 Post by Markus S » December 6th, 2019, 7:20 am

Thomas De Waen wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 12:33 pm
Markus S wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 12:22 pm
Didn't the 02 Mon Pere just come out? These are released over 10 years from their vintage date.
No - the current vintage is 07, I think. Bought 06 a couple of years ago.
Okay, so released 12 years after vintage. I wasn't wrong about the 10 years bit, just the current vintage release.
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#11 Post by Robert Dentice » December 6th, 2019, 7:32 am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 6:57 am
Natural wine jumped the shark when it became all about sulfur. It didn't used to be that way!

Some wines age fine without sulfur, some don't, and I'm not aware of any way of telling which is which on release just by tasting. I am getting a bit tired of pouring once-great wines down the sink, so I'm basically done gambling in that category. It's also true that there are some beautiful things that can be done sans sulfur that seemingly can't be done with it, which is great so long as it's something you can enjoy without taking chances on cellar time. The Claire Naudin wines are a good example. I adore the flower labels on release even more than her higher-end stuff, but for my palate the year or two after release is as good as they get, no point waiting.
Could not agree more!

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#12 Post by Nathan V. » December 6th, 2019, 7:42 am

Robert Dentice wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 7:32 am
Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 6:57 am
Natural wine jumped the shark when it became all about sulfur. It didn't used to be that way!

Some wines age fine without sulfur, some don't, and I'm not aware of any way of telling which is which on release just by tasting. I am getting a bit tired of pouring once-great wines down the sink, so I'm basically done gambling in that category. It's also true that there are some beautiful things that can be done sans sulfur that seemingly can't be done with it, which is great so long as it's something you can enjoy without taking chances on cellar time. The Claire Naudin wines are a good example. I adore the flower labels on release even more than her higher-end stuff, but for my palate the year or two after release is as good as they get, no point waiting.
Could not agree more!
I feel like we had all of these conversations 10-12 years ago.

https://saignee.wordpress.com/2010/07/1 ... n-frailty/
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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#13 Post by Nathan Smyth » December 6th, 2019, 8:01 am

Thomas De Waen wrote:
December 4th, 2019, 11:32 am
Natural Wines with age... 2012... 2013... 2012... 2012... 40 minutes to show its stuff... 30mins to open up...
?????

How about three or four DAYS to open up?

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#14 Post by Keith Levenberg » December 6th, 2019, 1:02 pm

Nathan V. wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 7:42 am
Robert Dentice wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 7:32 am
Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 6:57 am
Natural wine jumped the shark when it became all about sulfur. It didn't used to be that way!

Some wines age fine without sulfur, some don't, and I'm not aware of any way of telling which is which on release just by tasting. I am getting a bit tired of pouring once-great wines down the sink, so I'm basically done gambling in that category. It's also true that there are some beautiful things that can be done sans sulfur that seemingly can't be done with it, which is great so long as it's something you can enjoy without taking chances on cellar time. The Claire Naudin wines are a good example. I adore the flower labels on release even more than her higher-end stuff, but for my palate the year or two after release is as good as they get, no point waiting.
Could not agree more!
I feel like we had all of these conversations 10-12 years ago.

https://saignee.wordpress.com/2010/07/1 ... n-frailty/
But note that it was possible to have a whole conversation about natural wine 10-12 years ago with zero hits on a Ctrl-F for "sulfur"

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#15 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 7th, 2019, 5:37 am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 1:02 pm
Nathan V. wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 7:42 am
Robert Dentice wrote:
December 6th, 2019, 7:32 am


Could not agree more!
I feel like we had all of these conversations 10-12 years ago.

https://saignee.wordpress.com/2010/07/1 ... n-frailty/
But note that it was possible to have a whole conversation about natural wine 10-12 years ago with zero hits on a Ctrl-F for "sulfur"
Is that really so? Who were the champions of natural wine 10 years ago that systematically used sulfur?

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#16 Post by Keith Levenberg » December 9th, 2019, 7:58 am

Pretty much all of them! It just wasn't the thing people were fixated on. I think the main issue is that the people who first developed and championed these wines were trying to distinguish themselves from overly processed/treated wines - they weren't trying to out-natural each other. So the focus was on eliminating things like pesticides from the vineyard and designer yeasts, enzymes, and (later) concentrating machines and other high-tech thingamajigs from the winery. Now that all of that stuff is taken as a given, it sort of prompted the question, "How much further can we go?"

The answer was, "Too far."

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#17 Post by MitchTallan » December 9th, 2019, 9:03 am

There is a half-way decent article on NattyWine in the last or next to last issue of New Yorker.
It starts off with Gideon Beinstock, amusingly mentions Tony Coturri a couple of times, and then bounces around from there, so I am being critical when I say it is only half-way decent.
To my mind, only the top four wines on the list are Natties, but as already mentioned, everyone has a different definition or idea as to what a natural wine even is.
To mine, just because a wine gets elevage without sulfur does not a natty make. To mine, just because it meets biodynamic standards (who's? of course) does not make it a natural wine.
To my admittedly muddled brain, "natural" wine is defined as much by style as by the manner in which it is produced.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#18 Post by Mike Evans » December 9th, 2019, 12:52 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
December 9th, 2019, 9:03 am
There is a half-way decent article on NattyWine in the last or next to last issue of New Yorker.
It starts off with Gideon Beinstock, amusingly mentions Tony Coturri a couple of times, and then bounces around from there, so I am being critical when I say it is only half-way decent.
To my mind, only the top four wines on the list are Natties, but as already mentioned, everyone has a different definition or idea as to what a natural wine even is.
To mine, just because a wine gets elevage without sulfur does not a natty make. To mine, just because it meets biodynamic standards (who's? of course) does not make it a natural wine.
To my admittedly muddled brain, "natural" wine is defined as much by style as by the manner in which it is produced.
I’m not sure how any legitimate classification of natural wine producers could exclude Lapierre. It seems similar to arguing that Black Sabbath doesn’t belong on a list of heavy metal bands.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#19 Post by larry schaffer » December 9th, 2019, 1:09 pm

This is a fantastic discussion - thanks for the tasting notes. And yep, it's too bad that these wines get put into the same discussion as wines that do not live up to the 'hype' at all.

Just as with any 'category' of wine, buyers need to be wary. You can't paint a wide swath over any category - even (egads) Burgundy - and hit the bullseye each and every time.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#20 Post by MitchTallan » December 9th, 2019, 1:24 pm

Mike Evans wrote:
December 9th, 2019, 12:52 pm
MitchTallan wrote:
December 9th, 2019, 9:03 am
There is a half-way decent article on NattyWine in the last or next to last issue of New Yorker.
It starts off with Gideon Beinstock, amusingly mentions Tony Coturri a couple of times, and then bounces around from there, so I am being critical when I say it is only half-way decent.
To my mind, only the top four wines on the list are Natties, but as already mentioned, everyone has a different definition or idea as to what a natural wine even is.
To mine, just because a wine gets elevage without sulfur does not a natty make. To mine, just because it meets biodynamic standards (who's? of course) does not make it a natural wine.
To my admittedly muddled brain, "natural" wine is defined as much by style as by the manner in which it is produced.
I’m not sure how any legitimate classification of natural wine producers could exclude Lapierre. It seems similar to arguing that Black Sabbath doesn’t belong on a list of heavy metal bands.
Now there is a concept to ponder. Ironic too. That is the nature of the discussion: that there is no legitimate classification and never will be. Nor is one possible.
I bent over backwards to emphasize that what I said was my own opinion and nothing more.
If you will take my magic carpet ride for just a moment, as a style, Lapierre is structured much like a conventional Morgon. If no one told you, you would not likely suddenly say, "ya know, I bet this is one of them done dair natural wines everyone in tarnation is jabbering on about".

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#21 Post by Keith Levenberg » December 9th, 2019, 2:13 pm

MitchTallan wrote:
December 9th, 2019, 1:24 pm

If you will take my magic carpet ride for just a moment, as a style, Lapierre is structured much like a conventional Morgon. If no one told you, you would not likely suddenly say, "ya know, I bet this is one of them done dair natural wines everyone in tarnation is jabbering on about".
Yeah, but mostly because so much Morgon purposely reflects the influence of Lapierre. Don't think you'd have much trouble pinning the tail on the natural wine as between Lapierre and, say, DuBoeuf.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#22 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 10th, 2019, 1:34 am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 9th, 2019, 7:58 am
Pretty much all of them! It just wasn't the thing people were fixated on. I think the main issue is that the people who first developed and championed these wines were trying to distinguish themselves from overly processed/treated wines - they weren't trying to out-natural each other. So the focus was on eliminating things like pesticides from the vineyard and designer yeasts, enzymes, and (later) concentrating machines and other high-tech thingamajigs from the winery. Now that all of that stuff is taken as a given, it sort of prompted the question, "How much further can we go?"

The answer was, "Too far."
Which ones are you thinking of? The ones I really like have been trying hard to eliminate sulfites for a very long period of time. Lapierre, Ganevat, l'anglore, Overnoy, Richard Leroy, Le Puy,... all following the same lineage to Jules Chauvet who started experimenting with sulfites-free wines in the 1970s and 1980s. If you read the foundational books on those growers (good one would be "Chez Marcel Lapierre", published 2004 or "les ignorants", published 2011,...) the issue of sulfites was already front and center of the conversation. Maybe it was more of a French thing than American thing at the time?

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#23 Post by Keith Levenberg » December 10th, 2019, 7:08 am

No doubt many unsulfured wines were sold mainly at home because importers were afraid of dealing with them, and yes Overnoy has been unsulfured forever. Lapierre of course made both the S and N cuvees - it's only recently the latter goes into the supply chain here in any quantity; it used to be the only way to get it was to pick it up by hand at Kermit Lynch's shop. But the Dressner portfolio was the gold standard for natural wine before other importers got in the game in a big way and most of the signature producers there (CRB, Rougeard, Baudry, Pepiere) were sulfured (Overnoy an exception, naturally, for which Joe D received some infamous grief). There are others I have no idea whether they were sulfured or not which is a good indication that even the ones playing around with going unsulfured weren't wearing it on their sleeves the way so many are doing now.

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Re: Natural Wines with age - a tasting (Leroy, Anglore, Ganevat, Lapierre,...)

#24 Post by Thomas De Waen » December 11th, 2019, 1:37 am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
December 10th, 2019, 7:08 am
No doubt many unsulfured wines were sold mainly at home because importers were afraid of dealing with them, and yes Overnoy has been unsulfured forever. Lapierre of course made both the S and N cuvees - it's only recently the latter goes into the supply chain here in any quantity; it used to be the only way to get it was to pick it up by hand at Kermit Lynch's shop. But the Dressner portfolio was the gold standard for natural wine before other importers got in the game in a big way and most of the signature producers there (CRB, Rougeard, Baudry, Pepiere) were sulfured (Overnoy an exception, naturally, for which Joe D received some infamous grief). There are others I have no idea whether they were sulfured or not which is a good indication that even the ones playing around with going unsulfured weren't wearing it on their sleeves the way so many are doing now.
Interesting. Shows how perspectives and definitions are country dependent. Don't think anyone in France would view Rougeard, Baudry or Pepiere as part of the natural wine movement in any meaningful way. Also shows that winemaker intent and the reality of distribution are different things: Lapierre wanted to make sulfur free wines but was often pushed by distributors against it (UK importer refused to bring in the N version of the Morgon, for example).

To be clear, I am not saying you're wrong: just that natural wine means different things to different people and that, ultimately, distributors tend to set the narrative (not the winemakers themselves).

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