My fun today began with a mid-afternoon lunch with the one and only Stuart “Beaunehead” Niemtzow. I haven’t seen Stuart in about 8 years, and that was in a group setting. This time, I had him to myself for what turned into a fascinating, engaging and utterly pleasurable 2.5 hours. Around the king of hoagies (from Mama’s in the Bala Cynwyd area), we talked about everything from politics, music, books, the legal profession, art, family and education for kids, and, of course, wine.
Stuart gave me something to try blind. With some perfume to the bouquet and a cool feel to the gently distinguished small berry fruit, I hesitantly guessed a Vosne from 1983 or 81. I was right about the Vosne, but this was a 1995 Daniel Rion Vosne Villages . It is certainly very accessible and showed very well today.
1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Blanco
I did manage to get the cork popped in the morning and Audouzed it a little, but no other decanting. I was worried this wouldn’t be ready, but instead it showed perhaps the best of any of this line that I’ve tasted. The oxidative note that is so distinctive in these is pianissimo here. Lots of lanolin/waxy feel and butter—like the buttered sauce you’d do with lobster—is the prominent and primary. With some florals mixing in later and possible slight vanilla, I am much more reminded of a Beaucastel VV—a good one. Simply outstanding.
2011 Pearl Morissette Cuvee Persephone Cabernet Franc
I wanted Stuart to try this Ontario product. I only took the smallest taste for myself to assure myself that it continues to impress. I will let Stuart provide a more comprehensive response
2001 Barmes Buechler Hengst Riesling
He in turn offered me some of this. One of my primary regrets in my wine buying life, along with not buying even more 01 Sauternes is not buying 01 Alsatians when I had the chance. This, simply put, is terrific. Sweet lemon-filled donut, almost, you know, that combination with the icing sugar? Mixes with touches of vanilla bean and citrus. Palate is all lovely, clean lines and a wine dangerously consumable without even noticing.
I’m honoured and pleased that BeauneHead had some time for me and am deeply content to see him again.
DINNER AT WILL
My thanks to Ted Erfer for organizing this. He and his wife JoAnn were able to come and we also had Kevin Foley out. I had the chance to meet Jeff Vaughan for the first time. We all had a lot of fun and enjoyed the meal…the Poulard done 4 ways was very good indeed.
2007 Paul Clouet Millesime Brut Champagne
Classic apple, yeast, some lilac. To taste, some balance, tangy apple, a bit cider-like. OK
2010 William Fevre Chablis Les Vaillons
Almost spearmint hit to very fresh lime and limestone. Less authoritative than a Clos, and just that swatch of sweetness, but it works here–to make a smooth and polished presentation. Very good.
1991 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Blanco
I had some left over from lunch and it showed consistently with the lunch showing, a great result in and of itself.
1976 Couly-Dutheuil Baronne Madeline Chinon
I was very excited to try this, but most of us felt it did not, unfortunately, quite deliver. We waver about whether it was corked or not. It wasn’t, but it doesn’t stay stable in the nose. Which is kind of too bad, because the first whiff is total olive tapenade and has the green and black pepper, all of which would scream Chinon Cab Franc to me. That fades very quickly and it doesn’t settle on any other aromatic profile. Dans la bouche, it’s old wine, has life with front and back acidity and a nutty middle, but don’t really fancy it.
2007 La Vinya del Vuit Le “8” Priorat
This one is 90% Carignane and 10% Grenache. Glints of raisin and molasses around the black plum aroma. Dans la bouche, there’s still enough Grenache to identify it, slightly grapey, sexy plum pie and marked sweetness. But this is smooth, not overly alcoholic and goes well with the food. Decent.
2010 Roumier Bourgogne
I was going to be bringing too much back with me, so I chose to open this. Unfortunately, all it got was a 2 hour decant. That leaves a nose of iron, mineral, baking spices and a marmalade note Jeff gets which I can see, as well as tart red berry. Even this humble Bourgogne needs 15 years. But bold, distinctive, definitive structure with earth and red fruit and very classic, i.e. 2010. All this is only accentuated on the 2nd day, where it still gives little but adds a good deal of freshness and some fresh strawberry and blueberry.
2011 Vala Prima Donna
My chance to try a choice Pennsylvania producer. Whether I like it is debatable, but it is surely idiosyncratic. Snow peas, straight mint leaves and musty-musky combo to sniff. Gives you the shivers–and not in the best way to taste. But after that first frisson, settles in with a sense of cured seaweed, sharp peach and lemon balm. A quixotic Viognier? There are, I believe, 6 different varieties used.
2003 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino
Quite pure cherry with Christmascake here. Then smoked meat secondary. In the mouth, a big, big wine. Mouthpuckering, but also with a hue anise component, some molasses, plum and saddle leather. Needs a long time to be bridled.
2006 Royal Demaria Vidal Icewine
Ted was so thoughtful to source this and bring it! He remembers that I had been the one to introduce him to it. I haven’t had an 06 in a long, long time. The others haven’t had it at all, and both Jeff and Kevin declare their undying love For me, this is one that has started to evince some of those roasted nut notes that sometimes creep into the older vintages. However, the racy acidity combined with the just-right sweetness of apricot and peach are very good in this example. Enjoyed it a lot.
Another really good day. Sad that the tour ends tomorrow