Novel Organoleptic Joy

You would suppose that the frequency of finding a completely new taste in wine must lessen as one tastes more of the stuff. This ought to make me glum, but the wine which sent me off along this thoughtway is so very excellent that I'm not glum, in fact I'm verr verr happy.

Rijckaert Chassagne-Montrachet Premiere Cru "Saint Jean" 2006 is a huge wine. Ultra-concentrated, with a fair oxidative whiff about it, a little bit of white pepper, and some honied notes, the main, powerful scent for me was white chocolate, a completely new experience. I don't even like white chocolate, but this smelt just fab (I know, I know; what on earth was I thinking of, drinking Chassagne 1er when it's not even two years old. Look, it was there, it's Rijckaert, what can I say. It's just another fine wine débacle. Get over it).

The oxidative note is very interesting. Rijckaert, these days, is based in Jura, to the East of Burgundy where the most prestigious wine is Vin Jaune, which sits in barrels for 75 months without topping up. Crazy stuff, like sherry, but bracing, since the Savagnin grape is naturally very acidic. I suppose his Burgundian wines are feeling the Jura influence. The other comparison in my notes is to Bollinger Grand Année, it being rather oxidative in style too. If you like Bolly I guarantee you will love this wine.

So anyway, pay attention here folks. Actual factual "Outstanding" wines don't come along very often. In the 1300 or so tasting notes I have made and indexed over the last year-and-a-half, I have found a scant half-dozen worthy of the name, so I heartily advise you to track down this nectar and just splash the cash (a mere forty squid for a brand new organoleptic experience).


Great Wine Defined

The greatest bottles of wine are a kind of intersection or coming together of a good year, on a good vineyard site, in the hands of a skilled winemaker. And of course the best of the best are made from one of the handful of noble grape varieties.

Nebbiolo is one of these noble grapes, because it shares with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon the knack of being simultaneously powerful and graceful. In remembering some of the greatest wines I have tasted, their delicacy or textural subtlety is just as important as intensity of flavour.

Tonight's wine will be added to this mental list of mine. Luciano Sandrone's Nebbiolo d'Alba 03 isn't even his top wine (he makes Barolo in various spots, including Cannubi Boschis, if I remember right). It certainly has intense, and interesting, and surprising flavours - fresh cut flowers, solvents, shit, anchovies, leather, nivea hand cream - but just as important is the near perfect balance on the palate, a kind of tension between softness and tannin, where, in the end, the tannin wins by a nose, which is why the wine is only (only! Ha.) delicious, rather than, say, superb.