Sunday, 25 April 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly - "Real Wines" at Les Caves de Pyrène (part 2)

Continuing my short series of write-ups from the recent "Real Wines" tasting, hosted by Les Caves de Pyrène in London, here are some notes on a few other French growers. Remember, the prices shown are the advertised trade prices (so add on a few quid - plus VAT - for possible retail prices);

Domaine Albert Mann, Alsace
Riesling Tradition 2008 (£10.10) - A nose of mandarin oranges, flowers and stony minerality. There's a lot of residual sugar and I'm not really sure about the lack of real acidity. It seems blowsy, but then again it is young, so perhaps it will all knit together eventually.
Pinot Gris Tradition 2008 (£12.05) - Rich, sweet, oaky. Nice weight and excellent balancing acidity. This is really good - and long. I liked it a lot.
Pinot Gris Cuvée Albert 2008 (£13.75) - Again, quite oaky. Lemon and marmalade aromas and flavours, but it is a touch rich and cloying for my palate. I much preferred the Tradition.
Gewurztraminer Tradition 2008 (£12.90) - Simple turkish delight aromas and flavours. A bit sickly for my taste. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of the variety - I'm still searching for the holy grail of a Gewurz with zingy acidity to counter all those flowery, sugary notes.

Domaine Pierre Frick, Pfaffenheim
I tried a couple of these wines, purely because somebody told me how oxidised they were. I say "tried", since I did not actually taste them - they all appeared to be rather dark in colour, and one sniff was enough to tell me I shouldn't taste them. This grower is obviously one of those making so-called "natural wines" - some of them even proudly describe themselves on the labels as "sans soufre". Which says everything about the perils of using zero sulphur. To be fair (I really am searching hard for something good to say) these particular bottles may well have been open since the day before, but I've rarely found any white wine that has gone truly "off" overnight. There is every possibility that these wines were very good on the day they were actually bottled. It's just a shame they (or at least the ones I sniffed) had such a short life.

Domaine Jean Foillard, Morgon
Morgon Classique 2008 (£11.45) - Light, fruity and elegant, though not serious.
Morgon Cote de Py 2008 (£15.70) - This is altogether bigger, more extracted, with grapeskins, beef and leather on the nose. The palate is more elegant than the nose, medium-to-full bodied, with lots of fruit, but also quite a lot of tannin. Needs time, but a very good wine for the medium term.
Morgon Cuvée 3.14 2007 (no price given - this was an extra addition to the tasting, but not listed) - Presumably, this is a play on numbers/words - 3.14 being Pye (as opposed to Py). It is rich, extracted and powerful, but nevertheless very elegant. A keeper - give it a few years and it could be quite special. I like these wines - serious Beaujolais.

Maison Philippe Pacalet, Gevrey
Gevrey-Chambertin 2008 (£36.95) - Is it me, or do I again detect "natural"? It smells strongly of candied fruit and sugar - or is it too heavily chaptalised?. I found it unforgiving and charmless.
Gevrey-Chambertin ier Cru Bel Air 2008 (£54.60) - More perfumed, but not in a recognisable Pinot way. Not for me.
Puligny-Montrachet 2008 (£45.55) - I didn't write anything for this wine. I guess I was similarly unimpressed.
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2008 (£55.15) - This is more like it. Spicy, rather than fruity. Good acidity and grip, although I found it flowery, with not a lot in the way of primary fruit. Interesting.....
Gevry-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques 2008 (£60.50) - This smells jammy and tastes jammy, with a streak of bitterness. Or perhaps I'm just having an off day. I have heard good (nay, great) things about this grower's wines, from a couple of friends whose palates I respect. Then again, they weren't tasting the 2008's. Was 2008 that bad a year, or was I having a bad day? Or do I just not like this grower's house style? As the saying goes, it's Burgundy, Jim, but not as we (or at least I) know it.
Tomorrow, I'll finish off my report with notes on some really brilliant (and a few awful) Italian wines.

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