Europe trip notes (Coche Perrieres, Soldera, Gaja, Sassicaia, Rougeard, Musar, Bea)

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  • 1994 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (5/8/2015)
    Very 1994. Others say “classic leafy cab,” I say “green and underripe.” Gnarly, tannic, dense. Not my kind of Bdx. (87 pts.)

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  • 2006 Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (5/8/2015)
    Small pour served from a dispenser at a store so possibly not representative, but this certainly tasted fresh and clean. Obviously no significant aeration which could be another “excuse.” Transparent ruby. Nose of strawberry bubblegum and juniper berry/gin spices. Lightweight and good acid. The pedigree would suggest this will grow into something great, but I’m not seeing it yet. (89 pts.)

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  • 2001 Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia Sassicaia - Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Sassicaia (5/8/2015)
    Possibly overshadowed by competition at the table; I didn’t get to focus on this as much as I would have liked. Curious. Not too ripe but fairly full-bodied and burly. Blueberryish fruit, tomato soup, rather green. Tannic and rough around the edges. Tastes like a rustic cooler-vintage Bordeaux. Not sure if this has the fruit concentration to outlive its structure. (89 pts.)

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  • 2008 Clos Rougeard (Foucault) Saumur-Champigny Les Poyeux - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Saumur-Champigny (5/8/2015)
    Nice wine, would never guess Loire. Dark, slightly bitter plum fruit, licorice, quite herbal. Middleweight, sharp acid, zesty texture, notable but not intrusive tannin. Could be a modern Barolo, or a structured Chateauneuf, or a St. Emilion, which is where the other Cab Francs I’ve had with this profile come from. Wants food. (90 pts.)

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  • 1990 Chateau Musar - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (5/8/2015)
    Fully transparent; somewhat bricked. Strong soy sauce, barbecued meat, slightly candied red fruit. Lightweight, nice acid, little tannin. Hollow on the back palate, but lingers on the sides of the tongue and mouth for a long finish. I think I like my Musar younger. (90 pts.)

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  • 2001 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco - Italy, Umbria, Montefalco, Sagrantino di Montefalco (5/8/2015)
    A clean bottle and yum. Ripe tropical/passionfruit, some chocolate, candied at times, charcoal, fierce grippy superfine skin tannin that needs to resolve for this to reach the back palate, perfect sweet/sour balance. So good, so distinctive, plenty of room to improve with age. (92 pts.)

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  • 2012 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Meursault 1er Cru (5/8/2015)
    Potent nose of butter, popcorn, lime, walnut, vanilla oak. Another taster said sea breeze and I couldn’t agree more. Wonderful palate-caressing oily viscosity in the mouth; it almost feels like it’s jiggling on your tongue. A touch of chalk to the texture. Super-long finish. Refreshing acid. Outstanding, but to my palate not nearly worth the enormous price premium over other delicious white Burgs. (93 pts.)

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  • 1997 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sperss - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (5/8/2015)
    Glorious. Translucent garnet. Killer nose, flitting between vanilla/chocolate swirl, tons of tar, licorice, bitter herbs, rich plum and dark berries, perfume, charcoal. Almost lightweight, bright acid, tannin to go for decades but not at all abrasive now. (94 pts.)

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Looks like you enjoyed yourself! :slight_smile: Thanks for the report.

this is why points are meaningless. I wouldn’t want your first two wines based on descriptors, yet 87 points represents a well made fine bottle of wine–3 points shy of outstanding. From the report, I would score them 77 or less.

Funny you should say that, since others have described me as a conservative scorer. In fact I just have a tight standard deviation, centered roughly around 90 for “fine wine”–85 means barely better than Yellow Tail, 87 means I was disappointed, 89 is an average $50ish bottle, 91 is a wine-of-the-month candidate, 93 is a wine-of-the-year candidate, 95 is a wine-of-the-year winner. I don’t think I can score with any more granularity than 11 grades, with the exception of ranking the absolute greatest wines ordinally (which is what I reserve the top 5 points of the scale for).

I guess one man’s 87 differs from another’s, hence the importance of reading the words. The Coche sounds great.

That’s why I don’t “score” and never read (or heed) others’ scores. Pointless.

Oh sure, Dan, you list my crappy wine (Chateau St Michelle), but not my excellent 1999 Follin-Arbelet backup. :slight_smile:

The two dinners we shared were both good fun, though I wish I was at whatever meal you had the Coche at.

The first meal was at El Gaucho in South Ken, with two others who have somewhat old-school British palates. I thought the perspectives were interesting. We all disliked the Chateau St Michelle, but everybody was too polite to say anything until I requested a bucket, which was then enthusiastically filled. The wine wasn’t flawed, just Parkerized and bloated. I liked the LB, as did the others, but it certainly was a little lean and green, and a proper claret that drank very well with the steak. I thought the 1976 Chateau de Ligre Chinon was terrific and well proved the agability of Loire wines. It was even leafier than the LB, which makes me ashamed of my initial blind Rioja guess. My backup 1999 Follin-Arbelet Corton Bressandes was quite ripe, and at least one person thought it rustic enough to guess CdP, but I thought it was clean, and an excellent burg. But my favorite wine of the night was my first example of Paolo Bea Sagrantino. I love wines that are distinctive. I suspect that given a few more bottles of that wine, I could start guessing it blind, with its wall of ultra fine tannins, and very ripe fruit, it was truly unique.

The second dinner was at Zucca, which is close to the best Italian restaurant in London, for which there is serious upside potential, especially with regards to regional cooking, a glaring lapse. First, we opened with another of my wines you failed to note, the 2008 Henri Boillot Coton Charlie, which you even claimed to like! :wink: Anyway, I thought it was very good, though I couldn’t get to great because of the sulphur/ reduction (sorry, I can’t always tell which) and I totally should have decanted this at home. Your Gaja was excellent, not at all dominated by puny new oak barrels, a true triumph of a 1997 Piedmont! I also enjoyed the Sassicaia far more than I expected to, thinking I’d get gloopy fruit, and instead finding elegance and, as you described, old-school Bordeaux, barely riper than the the LB the previous week.

A couple of good nights. You should move back to London, Dan!

El Gaucho, my first ever offline was there a dozen years ago.

I don’t really understand you comment about Zucca Brady, do they try and cover all of Italy?

Nice trip, mostly.

Apologies for not doing justice to the fine wines you brought, my friend. I did indeed like the '99 Follin-Arbelet, and came fairly close to nailing it blind (I said NSG, it was Corton), but by that point I was too tipsy and my palate too tired to take a proper note. And I very much liked the Corton-Charlemagne, but am still extremely shy about writing notes for white wines–I don’t have anything close to the palate or vocabulary to do justice to them yet. I think I’ve only written up two dry whites in my life: my epiphany white Burg (a PYCM Ancegnieres) and the Coche, which I dedicated an entire meal to studying and contemplating just in order to eke out that one paragraph.

The Chinon was indeed quite green, but a) I much prefer that characteristic in Loire Cab Franc where it belongs than in classed-growth Bdx b) it had much more elegance and complexity. The LB was brawny, rustic, rough around the edges, which I found a very weird texture given its lack of fruit. It’s the kind of wine Parker rightly trashed in the late 1970s.

I’ve now got a 5-vintage vertical running of Bea Sagrantino Secco, so if we can get a quorum we can open them all and then you’ll really get a sense of these unique, wonderful, and ageworthy wines.

I didn’t love the Sass, but that could easily have just been because I couldn’t take my eyes (and nose and tongue) off the Gaja. Remember I was barely able to pay any attention to that '78 La Chapelle because I was so giddy over the DC RRT from the same vintage.

If you leave London right when I move there I will f’ing kill you. By drowning in a pool of 2004 Chateau St. Michelle.

I am told that Zucca isn’t even authentic Italian, but more fine dining with strong Italian influence, but what do I know? I liked it a lot.

My comment was more amazement that London now has many good single region Chinese restaurants, but basically no notable regional Italian restaurants that I am aware of.

But rumor has it there are good regional Italian restaurants in NYC, so we might move there!?!

Brady, I think there are plenty, maybe not at the absolute highest end though. Alba and Caldesi are two corkage friendly options.

Hi Russel, I was trying to emphasize the word “regional”. I agree that London has plenty of decent Italian restaurants, but few that focus on the cuisine of one area. Despite its name, I don’t remember Alba focusing on one region. Caldesi is new to me and I look forward to visiting one of their locations. Thanks.

I am out of date on Alba, certainly used to be regional…

Donna Margarita in Lavender Hill for Neapolitan…

I think the main difference might be that whilst serving regional food, many also serve ‘the standards’…