A comprehensive tasting of Hospice de Beaune wines with Jasper Morris MW and François Poher.Read More
I have been back in Hong Kong for a while now (something that you would have noticed if you follow me over on Instagram @thisyoungwino) but have busy adjusting to the new job and blowing off steam well...on Steam.
After coming back from gallivanting solo on Sicily for two weeks, I quickly set off to Taiwan on a trip that has actually been well planned in advance with my former colleagues. Originally we went in hope of being able to secure a reservation at RAW, André Chiang's new venture in his home country but ever since getting ranked on Asia Top 50, it has been impossible.
No matter! Actually Taiwan has always had great culinary traditions, from simple soy milk (豆漿) breakfast to street food plus more many more in between, so we weren't lacking in options. Last minute, a friend advised me to go to Ephernité - a tiny French menu-less restaurant (seriously don't even bother asking what kind of foods you will be eating), who had this unicorn of a wine available on their menu - Domaine de Trévallon 2010.
Domaine de Trévallon is not unknown per se but it flies under the radar because it is basically a ghost in even in a city like Hong Kong, where you can find almost anything anywhere. However I would venture that you can find more Henri Jayers and DRCs here than a single bottle of Domaine de Trévallon, simply because this wine rarely makes it out of France, let alone all the way far east. I first tried a Domaine de Trévallon 2005 during a blind tasting and was extremely and utterly MINDFUCKED by this wine. Obviously on the palate, it was from a warm ripe region but with finesse so I thought perhaps Northern Rhone. However the nose is unmistakably Bordeaux so where could this wine be from? Turns out neither was right, rather it was in Alpilles, Provence, located not far from Avignon. And the grape varietals? Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It was formerly an AOC wine but was downgraded in 1993 to a 'Vin de Pays' because the winemaker Eloi Durrbach refused to change the percentage blend – proof that one should always trust his/her gut. Ever since, I tried many an amazing bottles but none had quite the same mesmerizing effect as it had. I have been chasing after this bottle for months and I happened upon it in Taipei of all places. Serendipity, if you believe it.
Unfortunately when we did open it, it was corked. It's shite and we all know it happens now and then, particularly with such wines that don't have official distribution in Asia and probably made its way through via the secondary market. Nevertheless because it is such a unicorn of a wine, I was beyond disappointed and visibly sad. Thanks to the immense generosity of manager-sommelier Claude, co-owner and husband to chef Vanessa, shared his last bottle of 1!9!9!9!
Domaine de Trévallon 1999
Though softened by almost 20 years of ageing, it needed time to open fully. However once it did, it opened up like a Provence poppy in full boom. A blend of red and black fruits with solid mineral savoriness on the nose, it had immense structure yet complete elegance. It is punchy on the palate and delivers depth and richness, however with a soft and deft hand that is just right. Lush and gorgeous as a field of flowers in a midsummers dream.
Thanks again to Marco Gadea for the recommendation and Ephernité for their generosity.
Restaurant Ephernité No. 233, Anhe Road Sec. 2, Daan District, Taipei TAIWAN
T: +886 (0)2-2732-0732
E : firstname.lastname@example.org
I was chatting with a friend earlier on the rise of natural wines on IG – particularly those from smaller boutique estates from Loire and Beaujolais that provide great value for money. Thanks to fantastic marketing, cute labels and great efforts by different sommeliers/wine writers/importers, natural is HIP and COOL. So commonplace are these that you are staring to see them on even feeds of lifestyle influencers. Export data of Beaujolais published by The Drinks Business substantiates this theory.
At the same time, many has already talked about the Robert Parker-fication of wines and how everybody is moving away from it by creating more nuanced wines with more finesse and complexity.
One particular victim of this shift of tastes is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Less and less clients ask for it, rather honing in smaller special labels from Piedmonte, Loire, Beaujolais or even more obscure regions like Jura or Savoie. However when bringing it up to even existing clients who use to buy them, many comment saying somethings along with the line of "it's too much for me", "too chewy and can't wait that long" etc.
Older CdPs, such as the Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale 1998 I had recently, are fantastic. Rich, textured, complex and intense, personally they are like the more interesting cousins of Bordeaux. Newer younger CdPs is harder to drink young and are much less approachable, especially amongst novice casual drinkers.
While CdPs from top estates are still considered an essential part of many private wine collections, at least amongst trendier restaurants they have much weaker footholds. Burgundy, Bordeaux and Northern Rhone will continue to be strong mainstays however the rest of the wine list has to be shared by other regions new and old.
Will CdPs as a region evolve and follow the lead set by Château Rayas long ago and make elegant, anti-Robert Parker types of wines? With global warming on the rise and finesse harder to achieve with the excessive heat, it will prove to be a challenge.
*Oh and the Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2005 was bloody fantastic. Not that you didn't know already.
Nobody is more disappointed than myself, when I say I don't remember what I drank that night at a St Aubin White Blind Tasting last week. Super pumped for this event, I was ready to record meticulous tasting notes for you readers here, from top producers such as Bachelet, Ramonet, Lamy and more.
In end, I committed a huge mistake – that is I got shit faced. That is quite obvious in hindsight, however I had too much hubris and forgot many valuable lessons from US undergraduate collegiate life: eat before you drink and pace yourself. This tasting was done with friends so no professional faux pas was made.
To help you, my dear readers, in hosting your own blind tastings, do make a note of the following lessons I learnt the hard way:
- Stay Organised (a.k.a. the hardest part).
- Ideally you have someone not involved in the blind tasting to help you organise the bottles so that you only know what you brought.
- Bring numbered bottle socks to keep the order straight.
- Record which number bottle is brought by whom before you start.
- Slow down. For some reason, many people like to breeze through the wines to get a quick "feel" for them before tasting begins. However you can honestly go at your own pace, if you stay organised and know which bottle is which. Then you can really go at without worrying about mixups, hence why staying relatively organised makes it so important!
- Bring spittoons. Sounds unnecessary when the tastings themselves are not professional and purely for fun but quickly after going through a few faulty bottles or an overly generous pour, you don't have to commit to drinking the whole thing or find the nearest sink to pour. This also is relevant to points 1-3.
- Optional: Additional glasses. This is optional because it's understandable not everybody has enough glassware around to do this. However it really helps to discern between two very similar wines and allows you to revisit.
Organising a blind tasting isn't as hard as it sounds. To be honest, it's the best kind of tasting in terms of pushing your experience, biases and palette, in a structured way. However when you have a lot of bottles and a lot eager drinkers, you can easily overwhelm yourself and get in over your head.
Any other tips? Let me know!
I have decided to release ratings for select domaines and producers, because why I am convinced there are people other than my mother reading this still. In this day and age, everybody regardless of their background and knowledge is handing out their own arbitrary ratings and I have decided the join the club accordingly. Method is completely random (zero bias)* and no comparative value to any existing systems out from Burghound to Vinous so you should completely take this on its own. TYW points are out of 100 because only Jancis Robinson MW can convey enough out of the limited 20pts range.
Chartogne-Taillet: Dynamic, individual and approachable. Honestly at the office, we are spoilt because we quaff so much of this stuff. However they are truly great champagne and deserve all the praise they got in NYTimes. TYW 97/100
Dhondt-Grellet: Precise and linear champagne that is full of nuances for the true connoisseur. Winemaker is cute but opens up slowly, like his champagnes. TYW 98/100
Louis Roederer: The brand ambassador for this champagne house, Michel Janneau, is one smooth lady killer. So smooth you thought he was a whisky man or Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World. And dare I say, more charming than the above two young grower champagne makers. I don't club or rap but Cristal is truly always excellent. TYW 99/100
Krug: Not bad but sadly no charming winemaker to visit you in HK. TYW 92/100
Pol Roger: The Winston Churchill cuvée is famous for good reason but winemaker himself is not so charming. TYW 89/100
Domaine Coche-Dury: A domaine that is synonymous with the best that Chardonnay can produce in Burgundy. This top flight domaine has since fallen from great heights with the new winemaker. TYW 89/100
Domaine de Montille: I have a huge soft spot for this domaine as I am completely over the top enamoured of their Malconsorts and Volnay 1er cru – easily also some of the best pinots I have ever tasted. Bonus points for their dealings (over their purchase of Malconsorts parcels) with my all time favourite winemaker Rudy Kurniawan. TYW 101/100
Domaine Fourrier: Quite a lot of hype for this domaine and I think it deserves it. Solid and reliable Gevrey Chambertin, everytime. TYW 92/100
Domaine Henri Jayer: This hard for me to rate because I never had a chance to try it. Bah humbug! TYW 0/100
Domaine Leflaive: Their older vintages with Anne are stunning and though I have mixed feelings on their newer releases, they will still be a white Burgundy staple for many. TYW 89/100
Domaine Meo-Camuzet: Comparatively to my favourites (Roumier, Rousseau) it's not as WOW but still a good staple making solid wines. TYW 94/100
Domaine Michelot: Refreshing, bright and criminally underrated by just about everyone. With just the right amount of coverage and recognition, they will be Meursault's next biggest star. Truly wonderful with no sarcasm. TYW 96/100
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: Only had drank non-Conti grand crus once I was already very drunk so I don't remember much. Usually when I don't remember a wine, it's because it's not very good regardless my state of soberness. I'll give it my birth vintage pts. TYW 93/100
Domaine Roumier: I have trouble deciding whether Roumier or Rousseau is my favourite domaine of all time. I don't think I have tasted something as good as his Musigny and I drank a non-block buster vintage (2001). TYW 100/100
Domaine Rouget: What's with the bowl hair cut? Christ. TYW 20/100
Domaine Rousseau: I've never had better Chambertin or Clos St. Jacques. Gorgeous wines that embody what makes bourgougne Bourgogne. TYW 100/100
Domaine Sylvie Esmonin: What is considered usually the most desirable plots of Clos St. Jacques are those closest to Rousseau's. Nevertheless I find Sylvie's wines to be more dynamic and interesting than Fourrier's. And at usually great prices too! TYW 97/100
Domaine Y. Clerget: Wines have some way to go but he is so PRETTY. TYW 100/100
No ratings for Bordeaux because who still drinks Bordeaux this days?!
Who is your favourite producer?
*Please note there may be considerable errors and resulting inappropriate conclusions. Author accepts no responsibilities for any of this amongst lots of other things in general.