Archives de catégorie : vins et vignerons

31 years of Lynch Bages up to 1929 with Jean Michel Cazes in L.A. samedi, 6 mai 2006

After the dinner devoted to the wines of Trimbach, Bipin invited the same group for a lunch devoted to the wines of Lynch-Bages and some Ormes de Pez.

We meet by restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills, a place where it seems more common to come with a Rolls Royce than with a bicycle.

Jean-Michel Cazes came with his son who will take the responsibility of the familial group in a few weeks.

Jean Michel Cazes et Bipin Desai

By a nice symmetry, I sit next to Jean Trimbach, when yesterday I was sitting next to Jean-Michel Cazes. I will not talk a lot with Jean, as Jean Michel talks endlessly. And, as what he says is passionate, I listen to him.

I will have the same problem to taste the wines as I had yesterday : to taste the wines in a constant way, I drink when I am served. So the wine is not really opened. It becomes more and more charming when it opens in the glass. So my notations are more restrictive than the real value of these wines.

I have noticed that in each flight you can easily rank the wines just by looking at the glasses. The glasses which are rapidly empty were filled with the best wines.

glasses ready to be served

We were able to “learn” Lynch Bages as no other mean could give such a complete view of the wine making of this prestigious property.

The cook was very proper.

The service of the glasses (roughly 1,500) was efficient.

Here are my notes, rather simplified, but which give my rapid impressions.

Bollinger grande cuvée Non Vintage : very agreeable champagne, much more interesting than the Louis Roederer of yesterday.

Flight # 1

Lynch-Bages 1934 : cold nose, very fruity taste. A little tired. Very nice on the course. Ranked 3rd in the 1st Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1937 : more welcoming, more round, Nice adidity, but does not keep the distance as the 1934.

Lynch-Bages 1999 : the nose is rather dry. The taste is nice, very similar to the 1934, which I find very interesting.

Lynch-Bages 2002 : very young, rather more modern than the 99, with a more insisting wood. Goes very well with the risotto.

Lynch-Bages 1957 : the nose of red fruits pleases me a lot. Very nice in mouth, balanced and dense. All the table has loved this wine. It is an interesting surprise that everyone applauded a rather discrete year. Ranked 1st in the 1st Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1950 : the nose is a little acid, but positive. Nice taste, complex, exploring many directions. It is for me the purity of what should be Lynch-Bages. A very nice structure. Ranked 2nd in the 1st Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1952 : the nose is slightly animal. In mouth I appreciate and I like this very evolved taste, rather good. Ranked 4th in the 1st Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1998 : the nose is very fruity. It is a little tight in mouth, but the wine will nicely improve.

Lynch-Bages 1991 : the nose is rather disagreeable, watery. In mouth it is very strict, but all in all, its is a pleasant wine.

Flight # 2

Lynch-Bages 2003 : this wine is closed. And there is largely too much wood at its actual taste. Difficult to say what it will become.

Ormes de Pez 1989 : the nose is elegant. It is slightly bitter in mouth.

Ormes de Pez 1962 : very nice taste, round. It has limits, but it is nice. It has nicely developped in the glass. Ranked 3rd in the 2nd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1962 : the nose is not as frank as the Ormes de Pez. Agreeable in mouth even if a little closed an a little short. When it is opened, it is nice. Ranked 1st in the 2nd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1985 : has certainly suffered from the trip. Very great potential. Powerful, more open.

Lynch-Bages 1986 : very natural wine, a little bitter and a little short.

Lynch-Bages 1947 : The nose is animal. A little bitter. Becomes largely greater after some minutes.

Lynch-Bages 1945 : Slightly acidic (wines with only a few oxygen). The structure of this wine is nice. Ranked 4th in the 2nd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1929 : The nose is a little muddy, mushrooms. It is obvious that the wine has been great. Tired by the first sip, it grows enough to show that it has been great. Ranked 2nd in the 2nd Flight.

Flight # 3

Lynch-Bages 1955 : magnificent structure. The wines of 1955 are absolutely great right now.

Lynch-Bages 1959 : magnificent. What an elegance. It is even better than the 1961. Ranked 1st in the 3rd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1961 : Very typed 1961 with a slight coffee taste. What a charm ! Ranked 4th in the 3rd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1982 : A little tired in the nose. Very handsome in mouth. Very bright and flamboyant now, it will not age as the 1990.

Lynch-Bages 1989 : A little destructured. I was waiting for more. Bipin did not approve my judgement. The reason is that his glass (that I tasted too) was largely better. I am very sorry for that weak performance.

Lynch-Bages 1990 : came too cold. It has a great structure, and I see a very great future. Ranked 3rd in the 3rd Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1995 : slightly corked. Not agreeable.

Lynch-Bages 1996 : wine rather conventional. Not yet put in its future track.

Lynch-Bages 2000 : Great splendid nose. Very great wine. Not very long, but will get length. I believe a lot in this wine. Ranked 2nd in the 3rd Flight.

Flight # 4

Lynch-Bages 1970 : This wine is very agreeable. Not complicated at all.

Ormes de Pez 1970 : Better than the Lynch Bages. More structured.

Ormes de Pez 2000 : Not bad at all. Rather limited. But finally agreeable.

Ormes de Pez 1985 : Very agreeable. A nice surprise. Ranked 1st in the 4th Flight.

Lynch-Bages 1966 : A little blocked. Nice structure.

Lynch-Bages 2001 : elegant, agreeable, not much future for this wine which will have a short life. But with objectivity, it is really nice now.

Lynch-Bages 1975 : Limited, tight, I do not find anything inspired.

Lynch-Bages 1981 : rather agreeable.I find it a little limited. But it must be observed that at that moment, my palate has not an Olympic form.

Lynch-Bages 1988 : The cheese blocks my appreciation on this wine. I am tired. So, I will declare only one wine as ranked.

Jean-Michel Cazes is a marvellous speaker. He has an historical vision; he is calm, seeing the future of the world of wine. One feels that a lot of work has been made to put this wine at the top of fame.

I had felt that the period 1920-1929 was the best for Montrose, when I attended the huge tasting of Montrose. Clearly today, the best period is 1950-1962. It is now the most accomplished, whatever are the promises of recent well made wines.

The 1959 is, for the moment, the true flag of this great wine.

I have noticed that for some years, Orme de Pez performed more that Lynch Bages which is a good thing.

I had a weak LB 1989. I was disappointed as I have largely bought this year.

I drink generally wines more oxygenated and a little warmer. In that case, this gives since the first sip what I got by the last drop of every glass.

I am happy to have got a very rare perspective on this property. This wine has a nice terroir, and does not need to look for too much wood as it is not necessary. I trust in the intelligence of the family to keep a leadership taking into account the lessons of history.

I wish good luck to Jean-Charles Cazes.

Bipin having asked me if I wanted to share a dinner with him, he mentioned the name of a restaurant : Mori Sushi that a friend of Jeff Leve had mentioned to me, saying : you cannot leave L.A. without going there. So, I said yes. We were four, A Japanese journalist (who will help us to understand some of the sushis), Jean Trimbach, Bipin and I.

We took « Omakaze », the menu by which the chef creates what he wants. It was remarkable.

We drank a Bollinger R.D. 1990 that I had bought for the occasion, a Dom Pérignon rosé 1995 brought by Bipin.

To thank Bipin of his generosity, I had brought from my cellar a dry white wine from Canary Islands 1828, so having 101 years more that the oldest Lynch Bages of today.

The taste was extremely expressive, strong as an old Jerez.

The Japanese journalist was extremely impressed, thinking of history. She asked me if she could keep the empty bottle. Normally I keep the empty bottles for my private museum. But I was so happy with my entire visit to California that I gave her the bottle, last and oldest wine of all a friendly and generous stay in California.

Lynch-Bages : une verticale unique de 2003 à 1929 samedi, 6 mai 2006

Le lendemain du dîner consacré à Trimbach, déjeuner au Spago, un des restaurants chics de Beverly Hills, où l’on a peu de chance de croiser des érémistes. Ici, c’est plutôt Rolls chauffeur que sac-à-dos tongs. Beverly Hills respire le rêve américain. Ça fait du bien. Dans une salle de belle taille, nous allons découvrir un nombre spectaculaire de millésimes de Lynch-Bages, présentés par Jean-Michel Cazes, venu avec son fils qui doit assurer la relève dans peu de mois. Par une heureuse symétrie, je suis assis aujourd’hui près de Jean Trimbach quand hier j’étais assis près de Jean-Michel Cazes. Mais je ne parlerai avec Jean que ce soir, car Jean-Michel est incroyablement bavard, voulant faire passer mille messages, et en plus il est passionnant. Alors, on l’écoute. Je serai confronté au même problème que pour la dégustation des vins de Trimbach. Pour avoir une approche homogène, il faut goûter les vins au même stade, c’est-à-dire dès qu’ils sont servis, alors qu’après plusieurs minutes, les vins s’épanouissent. Et leur plaisir est manifestement plus grand. Bipin a choisi d’ouvrir les vins très tard, plutôt frais, et de les décanter deux fois. Ce qui fait que les vins sont bons quand on a déjà fini son verre. Car une loi physique se vérifie à chaque fois : les premiers verres qui se vident sont ceux des vins les meilleurs. Nous avons pu néanmoins « apprendre » Lynch Bages, car aucun autre moyen ne sera plus efficace que cette magistrale verticale. La cuisine fut fort courtoise, adaptée à ce vin, et le service des vins fut une fois de plus exemplaire, Bipin ayant fait appel à la même équipe qu’hier. Voici les notes que j’ai prises à la volée, plutôt plus sévères que ce que les vins valent, puisque notés avant leur épanouissement.
Bollinger grande cuvée non millésimé : champagne très agréable, nettement plus intéressant que le Louis Roederer de la veille
Série n° 1
Lynch-Bages 1934 : nez trop froid. Très joli goût fruité. Un peu fatigué. Très beau sur le plat. Classé 3ème dans la 1ère série.
Lynch-Bages 1937 : plus chaleureux, rond. Belle acidité. Tient un peu moins.
Lynch-Bages 1999 : nez assez asséché, joli goût, très semblable à celui du 1934, ce qui est un signe très intéressant.
Lynch-Bages 2002 : très jeune, un peu plus moderne avec du bois plus insistant. Va bien avec le risotto.
Lynch-Bages 1957 : nez de framboise comme j’aime. Très joli en bouche, rond et plein. J’aime beaucoup comme toute la table. Surprise positive. Classé 1er dans la 1ère série. Il est à noter que toute la table a préféré ce millésime qui n’est pas légendaire, dans cette première série.
Lynch-Bages 1950 : nez un peu acide mais positif. Très joli, complexe, explorant beaucoup de directions. Il me semble dans la pure définition de Lynch-Bages, telle que je me l’imagine. Belle structure. Classé 2ème dans la 1ère série.
Lynch-Bages 1952 : nez légèrement animal. En bouche, j’aime ce goût assez évolué, assez bon. Classé 4ème dans la 1ère série.
Lynch-Bages 1998 : nez très fruité. En bouche, c’est encore un peu coincé, mais il va se former.
Lynch-Bages 1991 : nez désagréable aqueux. En bouche, c’est rêche mais finalement, ce n’est pas désagréable.
Série n° 2
Lynch-Bages 2003 : fermé. On ne peut pas dire comment il évoluera. Beaucoup trop de bois !!!
Ormes de Pez 1989 : nez élégant. Très amer en bouche.
Ormes de Pez 1962 : très beau goût, bien rond. Limité, mais joli. Il s’est développé dans le verre. Classé 3ème dans la 2ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1962 : le nez est plus ingrat que celui d’Ormes de Pez. Agréable en bouche, un peu fermé, un peu court. S’ouvre de très jolie façon. Classé 1er dans la 2ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1985 : a dû souffrir du voyage. Très grand potentiel. Puissant, plus épanoui.
Lynch-Bages 1986 : vin très naturel, mais un peu amer et un peu court.
Lynch-Bages 1947 : nez animal. Un peu amer. Devient nettement meilleur après quelques minutes.
Lynch-Bages 1945 : un peu d’acidité, mais on sent la structure très belle. Classé 4ème dans la 2ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1929 : le nez est un peu poussiéreux, de champignon. On sent qu’il a été très beau. Fatigué au début, il s’améliore suffisamment pour qu’on entrevoie sa grandeur. On y prend même du plaisir. Classé 2ème dans la 2ème série.
Série n° 3
Lynch-Bages 1955 : magnifique structure. Les vins de 1955 sont très grands en ce moment.
Lynch-Bages 1959 : magnifique. Quelle élégance. Il est même mieux que le 1961. Classé 1er dans la 3ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1961 : Très 1961 avec un côté un peu torréfié. Quel charme ! Classé 4ème dans la 3ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1982 : un peu fatigué au nez. Très joli en bouche. Flamboyant maintenant, mais ne vieillira pas comme le 1990.
Lynch-Bages 1989 : un peu déstructuré. Pas du tout ce que j’attendrais du fait de la réputation de l’année. Bipin s’est étonné de mon jugement. Cela se comprend, car son verre était nettement meilleur.
Lynch-Bages 1990 : arrivé trop froid. Il a une belle structure et va se développer fortement. Classé 3ème dans la 3ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1995 : une légère trace de bouchon. Pas très agréable.
Lynch-Bages 1996 : vin assez conventionnel. N’est pas encore affirmé.
Lynch-Bages 2000 : nez magnifique. Très beau vin. Pas très long, mais va se former. Je suis très positif sur ce vin. Classé 2ème dans la 3ème série.
Série n° 4
Lynch-Bages 1970 : ce vin est très agréable, pas compliqué du tout.
Ormes de Pez 1970 : meilleur que le Lynch Bages. Plus structuré.
Ormes de Pez 2000 : Pas mal du tout. Assez limité. Agréable.
Ormes de Pez 1985 : très agréable. Belle surprise. Classé 1er dans la 4ème série.
Lynch-Bages 1966 : un peu coincé. Belle structure.
Lynch-Bages 2001 : élégant, agréable, pas beaucoup de futur dans ce vin de courte vie, mais objectivement il est agréable.
Lynch-Bages 1975 : limité, coincé. Je ne trouve rien qui accroche.
Lynch-Bages 1981 : assez agréable. Je le trouve plutôt limité, mais mon palais n’est sans doute plus dans une forme olympique.
Lynch-Bages 1988 : mon palais n’est sans doute plus très réceptif. Le fromage bloque aussi l’appréciation. Je ne classerai qu’un vin dans cette série, du fait de la fatigue et de l’influence dérangeante du fromage.

Jean-Michel Cazes est un merveilleux conteur et un homme d’expérience. Il a une vision historique, calme, sur le monde du vin. On sent que beaucoup de travail a été fait pour amener ce vin au sommet des préférences de beaucoup de critiques. Alors que dans la dégustation des Montrose, c’était la décennie 20 à 29 qui apparaissait comme le firmament de ce Saint-Estèphe, ici, c’est objectivement la période 1950-1962 qui semble à mon palais la plus accomplie. Les années récentes vont s’améliorer, et le travail intelligent qui a été fait paiera en termes de goût. Mais le 1959 est aujourd’hui, à mon goût, la consécration de ce terroir.
Et on s’est aperçu que l’Orme de Pez tient bien sa place.
Ma déception est évidemment le 1989 dont mon verre était fade, alors que j’ai massivement acheté ce millésime.
J’ai l’habitude de boire les vins plus aérés et légèrement plus chauds, ce qui donne des saveurs plus sereines. Le réchauffement dans les verres change complètement l’appréciation entre la première et la dernière gorgée. Il n’empêche qu’approcher un domaine avec cette largeur de spectre est une chance unique. Nous avons vu que ce vin a un terroir. Que ce vin l’exploite bien. Que ce vin a du charme. Qu’il n’a aucun intérêt à surboiser, car cette tendance ne durera pas des siècles. J’ai grande confiance dans ce château. Bonne chance à Jean-Charles Cazes.

La journée n’allait pas s’arrêter là. Avec une journaliste japonaise, Jean Trimbach, Bipin et moi allons dîner au Mori Sushi restaurant, le lieu incontournable du sushi parfait. Nous prendrons « Omakaze », le menu où le chef laisse libre cours à sa création. Voyage ahurissant au pays des sushis, bien expliqués par notre charmante convive japonaise, avec un champagne Bollinger RD 1990 apporté par moi et un Dom Pérignon rosé 1995 apporté par Bipin. Pour remercier Bipin de sa gentillesse, j’ai fait goûter un de mes vins qui avait fait le voyage : vin des Canaries sec 1828, âgé de 101 ans de plus que le plus vieux Lynch Bages de ce midi. Ma voisine japonaise, émue de cette évocation historique, au-delà du goût irréellement envoûtant, m’a demandé de garder la bouteille vide. Je la lui ai donnée.

Sur la photo : Bipin Desai et Jean Charles Cazes.
J’ouvre la bouteille de vin des Canaries 1828

Dégustation de vins de Trimbach au restaurant Chinois on Main Santa Monica Californie vendredi, 5 mai 2006

Je me rends au restaurant Chinois on Main de Santa Monica pour un des événements marathon de Bipin Desai, dont le thème est celui des vins de la maison Trimbach. Les vins seront présentés par Jean Trimbach à une quarantaine d’amateurs, du cercle proche de Bipin. Nous sommes répartis en tables de huit dans une salle exiguë, où les neuf vins de chaque service auront bien du mal à se loger sur table. Le service des vins fut impeccable. Près de 1500 verres ont été utilisés, tous étiquetés au pied avec le nom du vin à déguster. Le menu fut particulièrement délicat avec cette subtilité inhérente à la belle cuisine chinoise, qui sied bien aux vins d’ Alsace de ce calibre.

Le menu : trio of foie gras, mousse tart with Kumquat chutney, pastrami on Rye crisp, sautéed with rhubarb / sorbet break / toro tataki with micro peppercress abd Shiso Miso vinaigrette / Shangai loster with curry sauce and crispy spinach / duo of Korabuta pork, crisp belly and roasted loin with sweet and sour tamarind glaze / laquered carpenter ranch squab breast and leg with spicy shrimp poststickers / citrus pudding cake with vanilla ice cream and blackberry sauce. La profusion des goûts aurait pu indisposer mais en fait, cette cuisine légère a bien suivi la magie des vins.

Pour mes dîners, mon plaisir est de choisir les vins, leur pondération dans ce qui doit être un dîner unique. L’art de Bipin Desai est de déterminer les séquences de ce que nous buvons. Je vais indiquer les séries de vins et mes préférences. Les commentaires précis figurent à la suite.

CSH veut dire Clos Sainte Hune, le fabuleux Riesling de Trimbach, l’un des plus légendaires. La Cuvée Frédéric Emile (CFE) est son petit frère qui a montré ce soir de belles dispositions.

Première série : CSH vendanges tardives 1989 et CSH vendanges tardives 1989 « Hors choix ». Préférence pour le premier (Bipin préfère le second).

Deuxième série : CFE 1994, 1993, 1992, 1988 – CSH 1994, 1993, 1992, 1988. Mon choix : CFE 1988, CSH 1988, CSH 1993, CSH 1994.

Troisième série : CFE 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997 – CSH 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997. Mon choix : CSH 2000, CFE 1997, CSH 1997. Ces classements montrent que la Cuvée Frédéric Emile est loin de rester en retrait par rapport au prestigieux Sainte Hune.

Quatrième série : CFE 1996, 1995, 1985, 1979 – CSH 1996, 1995, 1985, 1979, 1975. Mon choix : CSH 1975, CSH 1985, CSH 1996, CSH 1995.

Cinquième série : CFE 1990, 1989, 1983, 1976, 1971 – CSH 1990, 1983, 1976, 1971. Mon choix : CSH 1976, CSH 1971, CSH 1983, CSH 1990.

Une soirée agréable où j’ai retrouvé des amateurs américains que je connaissais. J’étais assis près de Jean-Michel Cazes, propriétaire de Lynch-Bages dont je parlerai dans le compte-rendu de la dégustation de nombreux millésimes de ce vin allant jusqu’à 1929 et de James Suckling, journaliste du Wine Spectator, connu pour ses opinions tranchées sur le vin. En retrouvant ma chambre sur l’océan Pacifique, je savais que j’avais participé à la dégustation très rare d’un des plus grands vignobles alsaciens. Ce fut une grande soirée.

Les notes qui suivent sont de simples commentaires instantanés et pas des vraies notes de dégustation. Il faut dire que l’intérêt pour moi était beaucoup plus dans les discussions passionnantes avec ces personnages importants du monde du vin.

Une remarque importante. Je me suis astreint à boire les vins très vite après leur mise sur table. Il y a donc une homogénéité d’approche. Car j’ai constaté que lorsque le vin s’installe dans le verre, comme on le laisserait faire en un « vrai » dîner gastronomique, il devient beaucoup plus chaleureux et séduisant. Des vins discrets dans mes notes sont apparus peu après beaucoup plus chaleureux, aimables et civilisés. Mais l’exercice était plus à essayer de dégager des tendances par millésimes.

Première série :

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1989  VT : nez expressif joyeux, précis, magnifiquement fait. J’ai tendance à préférer le "normal".

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1989  VT "Hors Choix" : nez expressif. Le "hors choix" est beaucoup plus sucré. Le plus "sec" est plus long. Bipin préfère le "hors choix".

Deuxième série :

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1993   : forte acidité, très strict et fermé.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1994   : plus fruité, rond.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1992   : pétrole, rugueux mais très viril, magnifiquement fait.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1994   : plus de matière.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1992   : magnifique, beau, bien structuré, élégant. Classé 4ème de la 2ème série.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1988   : très beau, quelle générosité!  C’est rond. Classé 1er de la 2ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1993   : excellent, magnifique. Classé 3ème de la 2ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1988   : servi après les autres et ajouté. Vin très grand, très complexe. Classé 2ème de la 2ème série.

Troisième série :

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 2000   : un peu fermé, coloré, profond mais rêche.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1999   : très riche, très concentré, limité.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1998   : pas assez structuré.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1997   : nez de pétrole, ouvert, j’adore. Classé 2ème de la 3ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 2000   : magnifique de promesses. Classé 1er de la 3ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1999   : un peu fermé.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1998   : pas assez ouvert, puis il se découvre.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1997   : promet beaucoup. Quand il s’ouvre, il est magnifique. Classé 3ème de la 3ème série.

Quatrième série

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1996   : nez fruité, belle bouche.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1995   : plus amer. Léger goût de bouchon.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1985   : joli, un peu serré mais expressif. Long en bouche.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1979   : moins coloré. C’est un vin de gastronomie qui appelle une viande.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1996   : exceptionnel, prometteur, une attaque et une puissance remarquable. Classé 3ème de la 4ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1995   : plus racé, plus acide, plus fort. Classé 4ème de la 4ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1985   : magie pure. Intégration remarquable. C’est un très grand vin. Classé 2ème de la 4ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1979   : Il est plus fatigué. Le côté fermé apparait.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1975   : Très joli. Un peu entre deux âges. Devient grand quand il s’ouvre. Classé 1er de la 4ème série.

Cinquième série :

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1990   : Bon vin, mais un peu serré.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1989   : Pas mal. Assez fruité, mais paradoxalement aussi assez sec.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1983   : un peu fatigué.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1976   : bouchonné. Quel dommage de ne pas le comparer au Clos Sainte Hune.

Cuvée Frédéric Emile Trimbach 1971   : très joli, bien arrondi.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1990   : vin magnifique. Très beau. Classé 4ème de la 5ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1983   : Très rond. Grand vin. Classé 3ème de la 5ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1976   : Magnifique. Absolument parfait. Conforme à ce que j’ai déjà bu. Classé 1er de la 5ème série.

Clos Sainte Hune Trimbach 1971   : Très beau. Agé sans doute, mais beau. Magnifique maintenant. Classé 2ème de la 5ème série.

Comme prévu, c’est le Clos Sante Hune Trimbach 1976 qui a été la star de la soirée, vin que j’ai bu plusieurs fois avec un immense plaisir, représentant la perfection du Riesling actuel. Ces soirées ont l’avantage de donner l’occasion de mieux connaître un domaine. J’ai eu la confirmation de la perfection du Clos Sainte Hune, qui gagne avec l’âge délicieusement. La Cuvée Frédéric Emile s’est montrée sous un jour très favorable. Jean Trimbach a parlé avec passion de son domaine dont il représente, je crois, la treizième génération. De telles expériences montrent, une fois de plus, à quel point les vins d’Alsace méritent une attention plus marquée de la part des amateurs de grands vins.

A delicious week-end with old champagnes Moët & Chandon dimanche, 9 avril 2006

All the week-end has been under the banner of Moët & Chandon.

I arrive in Chateau de Sarran, the castle of Moët & Chandon, whose function is to receive guests of this house of champagne. 11 rooms are offered to the friends of Jean Berchon for the night.

My Mercedes 600 is urged to leave the place in front of the door, which will be attributed to Ferrari, as Ferrari offered to Enrico Bernardo (best world sommelier) to come to this Chateau ( # 100 miles drive from Paris) with one of their cars.

Needless to say that jealous as I am, I would be able to say good words on Moët for less than that (joke).

The castle offers a view on the landscape on more than 30 miles. The vicinity was the way that armies took when invading France. In the dining room, a British table of mahogany for more than 30 persons is an appeal for the most elegant dinners.

My room is deliciously decorated, and from my window I see a cedar of certainly more than 300 years.

We take a bus to go in a big room where the ‘Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne’ will designate candidates to become chevalier, officier or grand officier. Many friends of Moët, big customers, foreign amateurs will be decorated with a medal and receive a diploma.

This is of course something commercial, but it is made with elegance. The president (Commandeur) of the “Ordre” is a representative of Taittinger. He will say very nice words to me when I am named Chevalier.

I am named at the same time as Richard Geoffroy, which pleases me as he is the man who creates Dom Pérignon, and has become chief oenologist of the whole group Moët.

We drink Moët 1999 delicious, and some of the champagnes of the members of the ‘Ordre’.

Then through the caves, we go to a very large cellar which will accept 300 people for a dinner, whose name is “cellar Napoleon”, as Napoleon was a school friend of Jean Remy Moët (it is why the champagne is named Brut Impérial).

The menu was absolutely delicious. Médaillons de homard, vinaigrette balsamique, crème légère de fenouil / Osso bucco de lotte, caviar d’Aquitaine, fondue de poireaux / Filet mignon de veau à la truffe noire et sa poêlée de champignons / dacquoise aux noix, sauce aux épices chinoises.

The Ruinart Blanc de Blancs served in magnums is absolutely delicious. Very easy to drink.

The Delamotte Blanc de Blancs is highly expressive. I love this champagne.

The Moët & Chandon rosé 1990 does not impress me as the Dom Pérignon rosé 1990 (remember that I did not get a Ferrari) (joke). With the rosé meat, it is delicious. But I have been impressed that it went so well with the mushrooms.

I was sitting next to the ‘Commandeur’ who explained to me the reason he had to create the Taittinger Nocturne Sec, a champagne dosed with 19 gram of cane sugar per litre. So, largely sweeter than normal champagne it is a champagne for the last part of the night. It was delicious, but the dessert, too sugared, did not help the champagne to shine as it should have done.

I had in front of me the president of Moët, Frédéric Cuménal, and next to me the former President, Yves Benard. So, we had passionate talks. I was asked to say a few words at the end of the dinner making comments on wine and food. I felt it as an honour as the only two who talked were Enrico Bernardo and me in front of such a great group of people. I congratulated the chef. I mentioned that a sugared dessert was a bad choice for the Taittinger.

So, after the dinner, everyone mocked me, saying that with that remark, I would be banned by the Commandeur !

We went back to the castle where Dom Pérignon 1998 in magnums was waiting for us. Passionate and relaxed talks up to 2:30 am, finishing with a Paradis Cognac Hennessy.

Taking my breakfast in my room with porcelains designed by Bernardaud, named “Eugenie de Montijo” with a lovely pink romantism, this helps to see life positively.

By a sign of fate, a Ferrari was proposed to me to go back to the head office of Moët.

A nice film on Moët, very artistic, a trip underground with a lovely guide, Karine, and then I amoenotheque of Moët. In large cases of concrete, many bottles standing head down, of one year per case. I was nearly collapsing with pleasure to see such a dream : 25 bottles of 1892 or 28 bottles of 1915, and so on. I was largely less impressed by this special assembling of the best years of the last century, which produced “only” 323 bottles.

my dream

 asked to push the metallic doors which close the

In a tasting cellar room, we tasted :

Moët 1999 : very precise and lovely champagne (I have driven the Ferrari) with the typical signature of Moët made of smoked and caramel taste. A really elegant champagne.

Moët 1983 : many signs are absolutely lovely. I was a little annoyed by a trace of metallic tastes.

As Richard Geoffroy talked only of years and not name, I asked if we were tasting Dom Pérignon and Richard answered to me that I should grow up to be allowed to taste the Dom (this is a joke as he intends that we make a private tasting as this one was organised for many people).

The Moët & Chandon 1962 was disgorged in front of us. It took three tries to succeed. When I proposed to take the two unopened away to help them to keep the room clean I did not receive any approval. So I knew that these bottles were not lost for everyone.

The 1962 is something fantastic. The smell was immediately of rose and of jam of rose. The taste was very floral and fruity. But what struck me, as a characteristic of this age, is the perfect integration of every component, which allows the champagne to be very long.

The Moët & Chandon 1952 disgorged in the same instant is magnificent, and completely opposite to the 1962. The younger is a flower, the older is a pure wine. It is the exact definition of champagne. And this is incredible that such a difference can exist.

But when sipping the two, I could see distinctly the signature of Moët, with obvious characteristics of smoke, caramel, sugared spiced bread.

A lovely tasting.

Then we had a lunch by the “orangerie” of the chateau, in a lovely “à la française” garden designed by Isabey, a French painter. We drank Moët Brut Imperial which I found lovely, a Phélan Ségur 1993 which was charming and tasty.

Jean Berchon, with a great sense of hospitality offered me a glass of Richard of Hennessy a magnificent cognac made with some alcohols of 150 years. One of the greatest cognacs.

When the noise of some 12 cylinders covered our farewell words, we knew that we had spent a lovely week-end, due to the generosity of a wonderful house of champagne.

Enrico Bernardo first world sommelier

a 1962 is ready to be disgorged

a dinner of the « academie du vin de France » mercredi, 5 avril 2006

The French « Académie du vin de France » was founded in 1933 by Edmond Sailland called Curnonski (just a short note on this name. Edmond was in a period when it was popular to be either Russian or from Poland: Nijinski was a famous dancer. Wanting to find a pseudonym, he decided that it should finish by “ski” to be as the mode required, and found that in Latin language it would be : “why not ski?”, which is “cur non ski,” so Curnonski). The idea of the Academy was to have representatives of the best wines in France to talk to the government or to the press. This club was sort of a lobby. They have working sessions and an annual dinner, and they made me the pleasure to invite me for the last four annual dinners. Some people being not wine producers are there like Alain Senderens or Alain Dutournier, two famous chefs, and some people are considered as friends of the Academy like the journalist Bernard Pivot, a man who helped a lot the French literature and language. We are very few to have this honour.

It begins by one and a half hour of wine tasting of their latest production, so 2003 or 2004, and then, there is a great dinner by restaurant Laurent.

Aubert de Villaine, owner of Romanée Conti came very early to make a very serious analysis of every wine, wanting to be before the crowd which will not allow exploring all the wines. His wife Pamela prefers to talk with friends. Some nice wine makers comment their wines. I meet Beatrice Cointreau, represented by her champagne Gosset. She told me that she would attend my dinner in June, and would bring a very old alcohol.

I did not notice precisely the years of the wines or the precise appellation, but here are some remarks :

The Meursault Clos de la Barre Comtes Lafon 2003 is of an extreme subtlety, very elegant

The Puligny Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive 2003  has a power to explode in the mouth, which is very different from:

Hermitage white Chave 2003 which is a powerful but pushing on one line like in the sport play rugby, when the Puligny explodes

The Corton Charlemagne Bonneau du Martray 2003 seems to be not completely formed. It promises a lot.

In one room for reds at the first floor of restaurant Laurent, the samples are not to be ignored:

The Richebourg Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2004 is very highly emotional. The smell evokes highness. And in mouth the sensuality is extreme.

The Hermitage Chave red 2003 is a bomb. The smell is of a black berry very green, combined with a huge pepper. It is amazing how it invades the mouth.

On the contrary, the Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu Comtes Lafon 2003 is an angel. It is a poem. All in it is delicious, like a noble discussion between people of the 18th century in Versailles.

So, three expressions of completely different red wines, all of them expressing something very intelligent.

I drink a Pol Roger 1998 in magnum, a Gosset of a special cuvee 1999 and I go to try Chateau Haut-Brion 2004. The nose is very noble, very exciting. In mouth it is more a promise than a great wine.

In the room for sweet wines, I drink a Vouvray Huet Mont du Milieu 2004, very generous and natural, a Riesling VT Zind-Humbrecht probably 2004 which is elegant and a little more linear. The wine of Cauhapé 2003 is expressive, but invaded by sugar, and the Chateau de Fargues 2001 wins easily as Alexandre de Lur Saluces had chosen to show a very great year, a success for Fargues as it is for Yquem.

We go to our table, and at my table are, on my right Jean Hugel the young dynamic man being 81 years old and who talks endlessly, on my left, Alexandre de Lur Saluces, and on the left of Alexandre, François Peyraud, the owner of Domaine Tempier in Bandol. I talked mainly with these three gentlemen as the form of the table did not allow to talk with people being farer, as the general noise was great.

The dinner prepared by Philippe Bourguignon and Alain Pégouret was :

asperges vertes de Provence en feuilleté et homard juste saisi, sauce coraillée

filets de rougets relevés au safran, moelle, sauce matelote

morilles étuvées et délicate « royale », cappuccino

abbaye de Cîteaux, Saint-nectaire fermier, roquefort Carles

Litchis et faises des bois en arlettes croustillantes, glace au lait d’amandes

mignardises et chocolats.

As I know very well Philippe, I knew immediately which intentions of combinations were behind every choice. All the wines were from 1997.

The Riesling « Clos Winssbuhl » Zind-Humbrecht 1997 was for me a little limited, but Jean Hugel made compliments about its genuineness, so, he is the expert on such wines. I will trust in him.

The Puligny-Montrachet « les Combettes » Domaine Leflaive 1997 was absolutely bluffing by its power and its interest. Such a broad spectrum of flavours is rare. The Riesling was proper on the asparagus, and the Puligny went admirably with the lobster.

On the red fish, how would react the Bandol « Cabassaou » Domaine Tempier red 1997, as it was associated to the Château Haut-Brion 1997 red. The Bandol behaved well. The Haut-Brion as a magnificent nose, and has been the only wine of this dinner to express the specific limits of the year 1997. Every other 1997 performed, but the HB did not. There is a reason for that : I know quite well HB in good years. So the difference of 1997 with other years was more obvious to me.

The Bandol has not a structure as precise as the HB but was warm enough in its heart to shine on the fish. The sauce was a little too aggressive for me. I would have preferred that the meat of the fish would have been left more free to show itself. It would have enlarged the two wines.

Alexandre and Jean know me, and they know that I can be enthusiast. When they saw me being tetanised by the incredible beauty of the next course, they were anxious on my health.

I was enjoying one of the greatest possible combinations which exist.

The vin jaune, Château d’Arlay, Côtes du Jura 1997 formed with the cappuccino of morels an unforgettable match. It was heaven, pure heaven. I was on a white cloud. Immense.

On the three cheeses, three wines.

The Corton de Bonneau du Martray red 1997 is an extraordinary wine. All in it is pure grace. So light, so romantic, so refined, it has every possible weapon of soft seduction. A great wine;

The Corbin-Michotte Saint-Emilion 1997 comes from a castle where wine is always well made. But I was not surprised.

The Château de Fargues 1997 is purely delicious. It was provoked by a Roquefort which is creamy but very powerful. It was a fight – delicious – but not a real combination of pleasures.

The dessert, very exact, went well with a very high class wine : the Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN) Hugel 1997. This is elegant, powerful, but is airy. This is the secret of these perfect Alsatian wines.

At the beginning of the dinner, the president of the Academy, Jean Pierre Perrin of Beaucastel, had made a very fighting speech talking about international taste versus French cultural tradition for wine. At the end of the dinner, Jacques Puisais, a true gastronome, made a very poetic speech commenting all the wines and combinations. I agreed on almost every points except one : I am not in favour of the bread with cheese when wine is concerned. I prefer the weddings for two, to the weddings for three.

What would be my ranking for tonight?

1 – the Arlay yellow wine, as it jumped to the sky due to the match with the food

2 – the Corton Bonneau du Martray for its elegance made of finesse

3 – the gewürztraminer Hugel as it combined power and lightness

4 – the Puligny Leflaive, as its palette of tastes was extremely shining.

And the wine of the night, for me, but I pretend to no objectivity, has been the Richebourg DRC 2004. A dream.

I noticed during this meeting that many people read the bulletin that I send every week on my adventures. They made nice comments.

I am very proud to be accepted in a group where are people making wines like Romanée Conti, Haut-Brion, Leflaive, Chave, and so many others.

I have spent a magnificent moment.

vins de Bouchard au Plaza Athénée mercredi, 15 mars 2006

Je quitte cette

Je quitte cette assemblée de solides débatteurs pour rejoindre Bouchard Père & Fils qui tient séance au Plaza Athénée, halte incontournable du monde du vin. En un circuit accéléré Stéphane Follin-Arbelet me fait goûter : Chevalier-Montrachet 2004, Montrachet 2004, Montrachet 1990 éblouissant que je connais sur le bout des doigts, Beaune Clos de la Mousse 2001 un peu fermé, le Corton 2000 et un magnifique Volnay Caillerets ancienne cuvée Carnot 1976 en magnum. La galaxie Bouchard Père & Fils a vraiment de grands vins. Le nom de Bernard Hervet est évidemment souvent prononcé. Je ne peux pas ignorer que c’est lui qui m’a initié aux vins du prestigieux domaine de Joseph Henriot.

Visit to Chateau Margaux samedi, 11 mars 2006

After the dinner by Yquem, I went to meet Paul Pontallier in Chateau Margaux.
We tasted the Margaux 2004 : the nose is of spice, leather and the powder for make-up. In mouth, I find it in a closed phase.
The Margaux 2003 is a contrary. It has the greatest possible feminin charm. Absolutely sexy.
Having read the book "the Perfume" by Patrick Süskind on the impossible search for the perfect perfume, what I think immediately is that the nose of this Margaux 2003 is the one of the skin of a beloved woman. In mouth, the sensuality of Margaux explodes. I am not able to predict what it will be in 20 years. But for me, today, it is a pure devil buying your soul.

To drink a Pavillon blanc de Chateau Margaux 2005 looks like trying to discover the beauty of a Muslim woman wearing a burka. Lots of aromas, which is classical for well made white wines. But what to say ? More fruity than the Smith Haut Lafitte white 2005. Not more to say.

We arrive by ‘le lion d’or’, a restaurant that I did not know but that I recommand : the meat has a quality which is incredible. The chef is a nice man, easy, talkative. A pleasure.

I had brought for Paul to share with him a Riesling Zind Humbrecht 1983. We had it on "charcuterie", and it was absolutely impressive. Citrus fruit, artichoke, prunes, and a way of filling the mouth which has a lot of charm. A truly great wine.
On the lamb of Pauillac, we drank Margaux 1989 and Margaux 1990 from halves bottled originally in due time. So, no samples, original filling.
Paul wanted to check with me how we judge the two wines.
For me, it was not necessary to analyse or to describe why : the 1989 is enjoyable, full of joy, showing its best aspects, and the 1990 is reserved, discrete. So, no possible hesitation, the 1989 is clearly the best.
And, more than that, it is a great wine.

Then, if one wants to analyse, one can think.
It is possible to say that the 1990 has a great future. It is possible to say, as Paul said, that this half of 1990 was not at its best.
But one thing is true, and the only important thing is that we were there at this specific moment, without hesitation the 1989 is a glorious wine, and the 1990 will be an immense wine in 20 years.

We left half of the bottle of the Riesling to the chef who will enjoy it tonight.

I have drunk Mouton 2005 ! jeudi, 9 mars 2006

I am probably the first in the world, outside the staff of Mouton, to have drunk Mouton 2005.

If I am not the first, I am the second, but who cares.

And it is a paradox that I, someone who loves old wines, drink such a baby.

I tasted la Fleur Milon 2005 : smell of blackberry and pepper. Very stiff in mouth.

d’Armaillac 2005 has a softer nose and is largely more round in mouth. Very fruity of course.

Clerc Milon 2005 has an incredible elegance. I loved this wine.

The Petit Mouton de Mouton Rohschild is more powerful but has not the elegance of Clerc Milon.

Then I put my lips on Mouton 2005, tasted on March 8, 2006.

What strikes me is that there is no default. Everything appears very balanced.

And then I thought : let me just imagine that I drink this wine, not knowing it is Mouton : would I love it as I love it, knowing it is Mouton ?

And the evidence came when I went back to Clerc Milon.

This wine that I had loved did not shine any more when compared to the Mouton.

This Mouton is certainly a great juice.


Now, how to judge ?

Show me a baby of six months, and ask me : what will be this baby when he will be 18 years old, and what will he be when he will be 35 years old.


On that question, probably experts have the answer. I have not. I can only say that this wine is made with modern techniques : the grapes are very mature. The juice is elegant, balanced and could be drunk in a dinner.


For the future : see experts.


Note : during the dinner that I had by Cordeilhan Bages with Philippe Dhalluin we talked about history. According to the notes kept in their files, the Mouton 1928 was undrinkable for many years. So, it was undrinkable on March 8, 1929.

What would you say on a Mouton 2005 which is drinkable on March 8, 2006 ???????


Experts will tell.

L’Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux présente ses 2003 vendredi, 24 février 2006

Le président de l’automobile club de France déclare ouvert le dîner annuel de l’Union des Grands Crus. Il rappelle que Noé fut le premier à faire rougir l’alcootest, et avec un langage fleuri, il nous compte l’histoire de la vigne. Quand au bout de cinq minutes on en est encore à Horus et Osiris, on se dit que la soirée sera longue, mais son discours fait pschent, ce qui est assez abracadabrantesque, et c’est au tour du président de l’Union des Grands Crus de s’exprimer.

Le discours d’un chef d’entreprise donne assez exactement l’indication sur le taux de profit. Si le chef d’entreprise dit qu’il faut donner un nouvel élan à une participation des salariés à la bonne marche de l’entreprise, on se dit que celle-ci fait des pertes. Si le patron passe un temps infini à remercier ses collaborateurs, sans qui rien n’eût été possible, on sait que le niveau de profit est quasi indécent. A chaque situation son discours convenu. Là, quand l’Union des grands crus de Bordeaux présente ses 2003 superbes au moment où l’on s’attend à des prix ahurissants pour les primeurs 2005, à des niveaux jamais atteints, il est urgent de ne rien dire. Jamais discours ne fut plus vide, et cela en dit long. Les grands vins français vont devenir intouchables. Amateurs de vins tremblez. Ce vide discursif (présenté par un président fort efficace et courtois) annonce des prix redoutables.

Avant le dîner, je butine de stand en stand mais il est très dur de juger les 2003. Ceux que j’aime sont évidemment aimés : La Conseillante, Haut-Bailly, Phelan Ségur, Malartic-Lagravière, sont conformes à ce que j’en attends. Une belle surprise vient de Petit Village que je trouve très bon, de La Lagune et de Lagrange. Pichon Comtesse est fidèle à lui-même.

Quand la pièce et les vins se réchauffent, le jugement se perd. On a quand même un joli Coutet, un Fargues serein et un très beau Sigalas-Rabaud qui concluent cette dégustation debout.

A table, c’est un florilège. Clos Fourtet 1990 en dit moins que ce que j’espérais, Fourcas-Hosteins 1995 est bien joli, Maucaillou 1996 est timide, Batailley 1998 est indéniablement plaisant. Les papilles sont assez chamboulées, mais c’est à Fargues qu’ira mon amour avec ce Fargues 1990 de réelle maturité qui rappelle à s’y méprendre un bel Yquem. J’ai eu la joie de rencontrer des vignerons amis et d’être à la table d’Alexandre de Lur Saluces. Le baromètre de l’Union des Grands Crus est au beau fixe. Attendons-nous à des prix sévères.