TNs--Mike on Tour--Lunch with BeauneHead, Dinner at Will, Philly Nov 14

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 :slight_smile:

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.


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 :slight_smile: 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 :wink:


Youd better reserve your spot in the liver transplant list brother :slight_smile: nice drinking.


Glad your event in Philadelphia seems to have turned out well, even if no one attending bothered to chime in.

It was terrific to see you again and to spend time talking about so many non-wine subjects, too. Look forward to a repeat performance sooner than the last wait.

I thank you for bringing both the Tondonia (a real treat that I haven’t had since the ‘80s,but remember the waxy, some-what oxidized beauty), and the Morisette Cab Franc from Toronto. The latter was a revelation. The key, in my view, to great wines is a match between the grape variety and the terroir/region. That’s why so many regions’ wines, to me, fail: they try to grow grapes that really don’t match well with their climates/soil, etc. (CA, is for me, almost an entire disappointment in that regard, as the grapes they’ve grown there, for the most part seem out of place/contrived. pileon) But, when a wine jumps out as in perfect harmony with its setting/origin…even if not the most “prestigious” of grapes, that creates a very special experience. And, the Toronto wine did that, for me, in droves. Better than any cabernet franc I’ve experienced (and avoiding the bell pepper/vegetal examples I’ve had from the Loire examples, along with some really good ones over the years)…this wine was captivating. Though young and showing obvious oak (I assume French, but…?) a la a very young Burgundy, everything was in harmony…and it is all there for a wine of great class in a decade or so. Complexity that is already peaking out…and a structure that survives the classy finish…all make it a good investment. (I will look for it, though I’ve pretty much stopped buying wine since 2007.) Bravo to the tutelage of Freddy Mugnier in Chambolle…not a copycat wine, but a good hommage.

FWIW, the other wines we had really showed well on the next two days, too. (I like to follow the evolution of such wines.) The Barmes grand cru Hengst was, for me honeyed, viscous delicious stones and honey aromas. Biggish…long finish where the fruit and alchohol fight, but the fruit is long and wins out. Kept going for a long time…and got better and better the next day…and drier, too…I will save my others for 2016-2026. It deserves it. The Daniel Rion Vosne villages (you limited me by eliminating Nuits from the candidates [whistle.gif] ) was , for me, as the wine opened up in the half-full bottle…as good as villages red Burgundy gets. A little tight but showing nicely on the pop and pour…but really rounded the corned the next day when left in half-full bottle. Beautiful ,classic Vosne aromatics of little red fruits. Cotton ball lightness/finesse of red fruits that pounced on the palate and wouldn’t leave for a very very long time. This, to me, is as good as villages wine, from any town, gets…and it has nothing to apologize for. Given that it showed best the next day and the day after…it probably still is 3-5 years from peak, but…it is the first '95 that wowed me in a any approaching-maturity way.

Good memories…and your rendition of “Summertime” on the unused Steinway…left a lasting, great impression, too…who knew!!

Thanks so much, Stuart. As mentioned, it was a great afternoon for me as well.

My recollection is that it is all French Oak, but there may be a small amount of Hungarian used. When I first tasted it, I said to the assistant winemaker that it reminded me–just a little–of Cheval Blanc, which was quite a statement for me to make.

The good news for you, if you’re willing to make the trip, is that Astor Wines in NYC has Pearl Morissette in stock—I think maybe even the Cuvee Persephone 2011. I have had the chance to speak with Francois and he does absolutely believe in terroir, non-intervention and making great wine. For now, along with Hidden Bench’s La Brunante and Terroir Cache, they are the benchmark for reds in Niagara/Ontario.

Glad the Barmes and the Rion continued to show. Based on that taste of the Rion, I am going to purchase some 2011 Nuits Les Grands Vignes from him that is showing up on our shelves this weekend.

Glad you enjoyed the bit of piano playing as well. Hope to see you again soon.


As to the dinner warriors—give 'em time, it’s only been a couple days :slight_smile:

Stuart — we haven’t had a chance to chime in yet here! Kevin did post some notes on his Facebook page that evening.

It was a great evening. Always a pleasure sharing food and drink with Mikey – to riff on that famous commercial: “Give it to Mikey, he eats anything.” He also drinks everything!

Next Grammer meet up will be in February at Falltacular. That really taxes his TN acumen in that there are about 150 wines to try.

Will BYOB provides an exceptional food and wine evening. They are great with the wine service and really appreciate when we shared.

Well, anything that isn’t shellfish (except scallops), mushrooms, corn, indigestible nuts, gassy veggies, egg (except mixed in desserts, etc.) or tripe (haggis is fine), but otherwise [grin.gif]

Look forward to seeing you both at FT, Ted. Thanks again for organizing. The sweater has already been selected for FT. There will be no preview pics this time [diablo.gif]

So, Ted ordered his favorites for the group…? [stirthepothal.gif]

Gassy veggies…are an acquired talent, I think.

Guys, here are my notes from the dinner. Will was fabulous and it was great meeting up with you guys.

DINNER WITH A FEW BERSERKERS - Will, Philadephia, PA (11/17/2014)

This was my first time at Will and meeting fellow Berserkers Mike Grammar and Kevin Foley. Also, in attendance was Ted Erfer and his wife Joann. The food and service were excellent and there were many interesting wines shared. It is always fun meeting new people that share the passion of wine and food. I look forward to getting together again.

  • 2007 Paul Clouet Champagne Millésimé - France, Champagne, Bouzy, Champagne
    Tart apple, yeasty, bread dough. There is a little weight and richness to this. Enjoyed it.
  • 2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
    On the nose, earthy flinty mineral. Salinity, apple and pear fruit, with shadings of citrus on the palate. Fairly rich with a little cream/nutty note on the finish, but also crisp and salty. On day two the fruit showed more citrusy, mostly grapefruit, and the wine retains its acid and minerals. Very good.
  • 1991 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja
    Just a hint of alcohol on the nose. Waxy, oily, with orange citrus, slight petrol, nutty notes. Complex and soft. Reminded me of a Rhone white. Interesting and enjoyable.
  • 1976 Couly-Dutheil Chinon Baronnie Madeline - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon
    There was some discussion and disagreement as to whether this was slightly corked. I don’t think it was. Lots of earthy, leathery, mushroom notes with hints of anise. Slight leafy, herbaceous, green pepper notes. Olive as well. Soft and very dry on the finish. Lean and needs food. I thought this was fun and interesting but probably not something I would want more than a glass of.
  • 2010 Domaine G. Roumier / Christophe Roumier Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
    Smells nice. Dark fruits, spice, tart, good acid. Cinnamon and fall baking spices. An orange rind/marmalade note. Dry finish. I have very limited experience with Burgundy but this somehow struck me differently than other Bourgogne level wines I have had - in a good way. Complex already but seems very young and wound up tight.
  • 2007 La Vinya del Vuit Priorat El “8” - Spain, Catalunya, Priorat
    More dense and fruity than the previous wines of the night. Silky, fine tannin, dry, slight licorice, spice and leather notes. Darker fruited with a slight raisined edge. I enjoyed this.
  • 2003 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    On the nose, mint and black licorice notes. Loads of dark fruit, mint shadings, fine tannins and a dry finish. Quite a bit of fruit and structure here still. This seemed pretty big, ripe and young compared to the other wines. No need to hurry with these.
  • 2006 Royal DeMaria Vidal Icewine - Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula VQA
    This was very nice. Marmalade, apricot, coffee? Sweet but with great acid. Wow.

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