November 13, 2009

2009 Altaya annual tasting

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It's my fourth wine tasting in 5 days...but I couldn't possibly miss out on Altaya's annual tasting at Grand Hyatt's Residence.  Paulo's a friend and naturally we all want to show our support, but it's also a chance to taste some really great wines and to meet the people behind the wines.

The space was set up pretty much like the way it was last year, and I quickly spotted a few familiar faces: Patrick Maroteaux, Président of Branaire-Ducru who hosted us on our Bordeaux trip this past April; and the ever-present Pierre Perrin from Château de Beaucastel.  Rob Fisher flew up to Beijing this morning, where he would stay for a tasting hosted by the Ãman at Summer Palace (rough life...), so his presence was missed.  Also noticeably absent was Nicolas Potel, who was present last year but is no longer at the negociant firm bearing his name - a shame because he is really nice guy.

I think I was pretty slow tonight, so I didn't get through to many wines I had wanted to try.  But here are the notes on the ones I tasted:

2006 Domaine des Lambrays Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières - a little ripe on the nose but with a certain metallic sharpness at the beginning, turning fragrant and sweet with notes of honey.

2006 Domaine des Lambrays Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos du Cailleret - nose was a bit closed at the beginning, with a bit citrus and white flowers, opening up to reveal honeyed notes.  Ripe on the palate and the finish was not too acidic.

2006 Domaine des Lambrays Morey-St-Denis - this was one of the surprises of the evening.  Wow! Lots and lots of sweet fruit here, very rich with tangerine, blood orange marmalade and muscat grape notes.  Very open and nice!  A surprisingly beautiful village wine.  I gotta get me some of this...

2006 Domaine des Lambrays Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru Les Loups - softer than the village, with nice sweet fruit, a bit of orange marmalade although not as strong as the village, and some smoky, grilled meats.

2006 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays - sweet and fruity, very ripe, with notes of game meat.

Thierry Brouin, the Domaine's Oenologist, was on hand to introduce the beautifully-crafted wines.

2007 Nicolas Potel Corton-Charlemagne - nose was very sweet and buttery, with plenty of oak and minerals.  Very nice.

2005 Araujo Altagracia - made from declassified lots, this was a classic Cali Cab.  Nose was very sweet, with caramel, chocolate and smoky notes.  Not too tannic, actually.

2005 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard - the flagship wine was in very good form, with nose of sweet fruit, marmalade, mint and eucalyptus.  Powerful with a long finish.

2009 Rolf Binder Selection Chardonnay - very heavy on the vanilla from the oak, with green apple and flinty notes.

2007 Rolf Binder Helios Semillon - Whew! Definitely some cat pee ("pipi de chat" to the French), green apple and flint.

2008 Rolf Binder Selection Shiraz - a typical Aussie Shiraz.  Very fruity and sweet with orange and a bit of mint.

2006 Rolf Binder Halcyon Cabernet Merlot - nose was pretty open and sweet, although less sweet as the Selection Shiraz.  Alcoholic.

2006 Rolf Binder Hales Shiraz - nose was almost a bit floral (or did the glass just gather some air freshener from the room?). OK but not great.

2006 Rolf Binder Heinrich GSM - fruit nose with marmalade, caramel, eucalyptus notes.  The wine was a bit acidic mid-palate, which was a bit surprising.  But I guess it's the Grenache...

2004 Rolf Binder Heysen Shiraz - nose of coffee, sweet caramel and eucalyptus.

2005 Rolf Binder Hubris - sweet, jammy nose with caramel.  A little smoother on the palate.

2004 Rolf Binder Hanisch Shiraz - what a welcome change from the rest of the range!  Nose was pretty smoky and much more like a Rhone.  Sweet fruit emerged a bit later.  Very smooth on the palate.  A very nice wine.

I took my time and tasted through all of Rolf's wines, and I told him that "I like everything" - which drew laughter from him.  While most wines were typically Aussie, it was interesting to see what a little ageing can do - which was evident in the Hanisch.  I did ask him why all the names began with "H", but he declined to elaborate...

2007 Burge Family Semillon - very strong pipi de chat, flint and lemon.

2008 Burge Family Shiraz Rosé - normally I pooh-pooh rosés because I have always found them to be neither here nor there, but this has got to be the first rosé that I really liked.  Nose was very floral...dare I say rose?  Red fruits, with a hint of pipi de chat but overall it's a very nice wine.  Maybe it's time I stocked some rosé in my cellar...

2006 Burge Family Clochmerle - 60% Shiraz / 40% Grenache with no new oak.  Nose was a bit alcoholic (15%), strangely violet with Asian spices.  Not too heavy on the tannins.

2006 Burge Family Olive Hill GSM - 68% Shiraz with 1/3 new oak for the Grenache and Mourvèdre.  This wine clearly had more concentration, a little more complexity with caramel notes.

2006 Burge Family Draycott Shiraz - almost 100% Shiraz now, with even more concentration and the alcohol was more noticeable (15%). Toffee nose.

I had a good time chatting with Rick Burge, who was gracious and patient with me despite having had a pretty long day.

2009 Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc - nose of muscat grape and green apple, vanilla oak and minerals.  A bit ripe on the palate.  A very straightforward NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

2008 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc - less like a classic NZ Sauvignon Blanc, with more flint and minerals in the nose.

2008 Wairau River Riesling - a classic Riesling with nose of petrol and minerals.

It was good to meet Phil Rose, who was the owner of the estate and was happy to share his wines with us.

As the tasting drew to a close I found myself with a few friends who, for reasons I cannot fathom, have been following my humble little blog.  We were thinking about heading to dinner when Paulo swung by and dropped a few bottles in front of me.  When Paulo gives me a few bottles to taste, who am I to doubt him?

2006 Malartic-Lagravière Blanc - a little pipi de chat, lots of minerals, green apple, muscat and a bit smoky.  Very open nose and a really nice wine.

2006 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Les Fremiets - very fruity nose with smoky game meat.

2004 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds - this is probably my favorite 1er Cru from the Côte de Beaune, and I wasn't disappointed.  Nose had lots of nice sweet fruit with rapsberries, but not overpowering.  Yummy yummy.

We moved on to Pala, an Italian restaurant occupying the space that was formerly Baci.  We had a couple of pizzas and a "sampler" of three pastas - squid ink spaghetti, ravioli with truffled (squash?), and duck pappardelle.  A simple and nice way to end the evening.

The rest of the gang moved on to Fevar Club to party, but I was just waaaay too drunk by this point.  A couple of sips of Moët and I knew it was time to go home...

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