Champagne Dom Pérignon Masterclass

Hosted by our Fine Wine Manager Regan McCaffery. He is likely New Zealand’s foremost expert on the wine, having drunk every vintage  produced back to 1964.

On Wednesday evening I presented an wonderful tasting of Dom Pérignon, the world’s most famous Champagne, and one of my personal favorites. It is named after the Benedictine Monk Dom Pierre Pérignon, who produced his famous wines at the Abbey of Hautvillers from 1668 until 1715. Under him the wines of the Abbey flourished, reaching twice the price of any other and being drunk by Louis XIV himself. The Abby and it’s famed vineyards were purchased by Moet & Chandon in 1823 after the revolution and Dom Pérignon is still made from the same sites to this day.

It was the world’s first Prestige Cuvée, the 1921 vintage in its replica 18th Century bottle, was released to huge acclaim in 1936. Dom Pérignon is always a perfect blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in roughly equal proportions, the grapes coming from all 17 Grand Crus in the region, as well as the famed 1er Cru of Hautvillers. When young, it’s hallmarks are a soft citrus creaminess and exquisite balance, it’s almost too easy to drink.

For this Masterclass we looked at three different expressions of Dom Pérignon, starting with the new 2009 against the previous 2006 release. This is the first time ever that they have released a vintage out of order, deciding that the much anticipated 2008 still needed more time resting in the cellars under Epernay. The 2009 comes from quite a warm vintage and is already rich and expressive, a really showy flamboyant Dom. 2006 is a more classic year, despite being a little reticent now it will blossom and impress if you can manage to keep your hands off it for another ten years.

We then moved on to the stunning Dom Perignon Rosé, 2005 v 2004. A different blend entirely, this is around 60% Pinot Noir, with a full 27% of it being Red Pinot added to the blend in 2005!  Again the personality of the vintages showed clearly here; 2005 is beautiful now, incredibly elegant and delicate, the perfect Summer drinking. 2004 was much darker and more brooding, the sort of thing to drink with Lamb or Duck at a stunning dinner. Either way make sure you use a large Pinot Noir glass to see it’s full personality.

We finished with the  rare opportunity to taste two vintages of Dom Pérignon P2, from the 2000 and the 1998 vintages. P2 is a proportion of each vintage of Dom (around 10%) that is held back for extended aging in their cellars of 15-20 years before release. These were formerly known as Dom Pérignon Oenothèque (The library where the older wines are stored).

P2 refers to the second plénitude’ of the wine, a term Dom Pérignon uses to describe when in its lifespan the wine is showing best. The first plenitude would currently be the 2009. All the P2 wines are aged on cork and hand disgorged for a quality check. This provides an opportunity to try a perfectly aged bottle of Dom that is still fresh from being recently disgorged. P2 has much more power and intensity, it’s richer and more harmonious, complex and textured, a real pleasure to drink. Though for me, nothing beats a well stored original release bottle.

 

New Fine Wine Release – Ao Yun

Ao Yun is one of the most fascinating and exciting new wines in the world. It combines classical French winemaking and Tibetan farming, from one of the most incredible sites imaginable in the Northwest corner of China’s Yunnan province. It is produced by Moët Hennessy (Owners of Bordeaux Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem) in the foothills of the Himalayas near the legendary Shangri-La. This remote hidden paradise among the Mountains, is a world Unesco protected area in the three rivers region. It is grown on a patchwork of 314 tiny plots, on both sides of the Mekong, spread across four extremely high villages ranging from 2200m to 2600m. This breathtaking mountain terroir has no equivalent anywhere else on Earth, hence the name Ao Yun – ‘flying above the clouds’.

The local Tibetan people have worked this land for centuries, building millions of terraces that now play host to this unique expression of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Planted in 2002, no one has ever attempted to grow these varieties at this altitude before. The sunshine hours are quite short due to the shadows from the steep valleys, but UV levels and temperature variation from day to night are much higher. Combined with being situated at low latitude, but at such high altitude, means there is a significantly longer ripening period from flower to harvest than in Bordeaux or anywhere else in the World (140-160 days v 100-120). There is also very little rain fall here, which means no mildew or botrytis, allowing everything to be farmed organically.

This is an incredibly difficult undertaking in this location, Moët Hennessy searched the world for four years before finding this special site. The project is led by CEO Jean-Guillaume Prats, who was lured away from his 15 year position as Director of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. He then convinced Cheval Blanc winemaker Maxence Dulou, to bring his wife and two Children to this remote corner of China. To reach there from Shanghai, requires a three hour flight to the Yunnan capital of Kunming, then another hours flight over the Mountain tops to Shangri-La. You then have to endure a five hour drive over a twisting 4500m Mountain pass, to reach the new winery in the tiny village of Adong. Every single part of the operation was painstakingly brought in from France to ensure the highest quality, all the winemaking equipment, Oak barrels, bottles, corks and labels travelling this arduous route. This is a true human adventure in winemaking. A collaboration between Maxence, his Chinese technical team, and 120 Tibetan farming families who practice the viticulture to an extraordinarily high standard. Everything is done by hand working plant by plant, it takes 4 times more man hours in the vineyard here than in Bordeaux.

We were privileged to drink the 2014 Ao Yun at the New Zealand release, exclusively for Glengarry. This is only the second vintage and production is just 34,000 bottles with very little available in China. The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, but tastes like no other region. Ao Yun is a sophisticated and graceful wine, with a freshness and purity unlike anything else. Despite being aged in 100% new oak, it is focused and elegant. There is a superb balance between the wild black fruit and Pauillac like graphite, minerality/acidity and the sweet polished tannin structure. Ao Yun offers something truly unique to the world of Fine Wine and we are very excited to have an allocation.

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old

Back in June this year I was in Sydney for the evening, just to attend a very special tasting. Veuve Cliquot cellar master Dominique Demarville, was in Australia to launch a very exciting new wine, Extra Brut Extra Old. This is a premium Non Vintage Champagne, made entirely from older Reserve Wines, and the first Extra Brut cuvée made by the house. Since Dominque started as the 10th Cellar master of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in 2009, he has been gradually improving the quality of the famous Yellow label by holding back a lot of top quality wine to increase their reserves. These add depth, complexity and richness. The idea behind this new cuvee, was to showcase the importance of those Reserve wines to the House. Extra Brut Extra Old is comprised entirely of Reserves spanning six vintages, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 1996 and 1988. The Reserve Wines are all stored on their lees in a mix of Stainless Steel and Concrete vats, with the 1988 being the oldest still in their stocks, with only 50hl of this precious liquid remaining.

We were privileged enough to be able to taste all of the actual reserve wines that make up extra Brut Extra Old, and see how time gives a real concentration and creamy silky nature to these. Being a Pinot dominant house, we see that in 47% of the blend. 2009 Grand Cru Ay, 2006 Grand Cru Verzy and 1996 Loche sur Ource from the Cotes de bar. Then we have 27% Chardonnay, 2008 1er Cru Villers Marmery and 1988 Grand Cru Cramant. We finish with 26% Pinot Meunier which is all 2010 1er Cru Ville Dommange from the Montagne de Reims. The proportion of the two oldest wines is fairly small, there is just 1% of the 1988 Cramant in this blend. Trying the base wines you can see why, it had such a saline intensity up front, a real butter cream mid palate, and a powerful finish that still has strong acid. Dominique explained these older wines are like spices in a dish, you need just a touch or they overwhelm the flavour. But most surprising was just how fresh they still were.

Unlike any other Champagne this is then double aged, first the base wines are blended, and then aged together on their lees in vats for 3 years, up to 5% oak is used. They then go into bottle for 3 years of secondary fermentation and lees aging. At this stage the wine is produced with a lower pressure than usual, just 4.5 bars compared to the usual 6. This is to produce a very light effervescence, smaller and finer bubbles to emphasise the creaminess on the palate.  The wine was then disgorged in June of 2016, and given an Extra Brut dosage of just 3g/l, the lowest in the history of the house. Dominique explained that Extra But is a direct consequence of Extra Old, thus the name. Because of the richness of the older reserve wines, it requires much less sugar to keep the balance. He tried a number of different possibilities, from 5g/l all the ways down to zero dosage. He found too much sugar tended to cover the purity of the wine, and no sugar at all was too extreme, you lost some of the creaminess and silkiness of the texture.

The result of all this is a gorgeous wine of purity and finesse with a lot of complexity. Despite the name, Extra Brut Extra Old starts out very light and fresh, soft and creamy in the mouth before it builds in concentration and intensity as the older wines start to show. Finishing with just a hint of that salinity from the 1998 Cramant Chardonnay. This interesting and exciting Champagne is beautiful drinking now, but I believe also has a long life ahead, ten to fifteen years should be no problem in a good cellar.

Words by Regan McCaffery – Glengarry Fine Wine Account Consultant, Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Bordeaux Blanc tasting review

Bordeaux Blanc at Glengarry Victoria Park review by Regan.
I recently hosted a tasting of the recently landed 2014 vintage from Bordeaux. The unusual aspect to this event, was that they were all white wines. Bordeaux is one of the finest red wine regions in the world, but it is often overlooked for the quality of its superb dry whites, which easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest white wines of the world. Around 10% of the total production in Bordeaux is white wine, including the great sweet wines of Barsac and Sauternes.

Until the mid 20th century though, most people would be surprised to learn that around 50% of all wine produced in Bordeaux was white. Most of the vineyards were replanted with red varieties that were better suited to the terroir, after the great frost of 1956 that devastated the region. At this tasting we were just looking at the upper echelon of the region, primarily from the clay limestone soils of Pessac-Leognan, an appellation in the northern part of Graves.

The 2014 vintage had an Indian summer of record highs and sunshine in September/October, producing dry whites with generous fruit like the exotically tropical Château Carbonnieux Blanc. The top estates harvested late, and managed to keep their precise acidity, with beautiful crisp freshness and minerality we found in Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc. This was a really outstanding flight of wines, right from the piercing Château Oliver Blanc ($50), through to the extremely rare Vin Blanc de Palmer ($400). I’ve already grabbed a number for my own cellar as these are wines with a very long life ahead. You can drink them now if you wish but they’ll continue to improve over the next two decades. We coincidentally drank the 1983 R de Rieussec at the Old Bottle Dinner the week earlier, and it was fantastic at 34 years of age.

Despite the presence of two dry whites from outstanding Sauternes estates Suduiraut and d’Yquem, the Palmer was a real showstopper. A miniscule 1200 bottles were made of this special wine, the first vintage it’s been available to anyone but the owners or guests of the Château. It’s produced from the same varieties that were found in two bottles of 1925 Blanc presented to Château Palmer by a French collector in the late 1990s. After analysis, they replanted and the wine is now made from approximately 50% Muscadelle, 35% Loset, and 15% Sauvignon Gris. With 17 months on lees in 20% new oak, this is a most unusual wine that would be extremely difficult to identify the region from. This is an outstanding and unique white, that only qualifies as Vin de France ( the absolute lowest level of French wine classification). This is due to the Loset being outside the appellation rules. A special wine to hunt out.

Glengarry Wines Westmere Wine Club | Grower Champagne Tasting

Wednesday night, Westmere.
A bunch of people turned up just before 7PM and swiftly walked the stairs that took them to our tasting room upstairs. Waiting for them, a long wooden table neatly set up with champagne flutes and plates already filled with entrees.
Liz, our Champagne Guru and General Manager, and Serena, Westmere’s store manager, were the two hosts for the event.

The night cracked on with a taste of J Lassalle Preference 1er Cru Brut and a quick introduction of the reality of Grower Champagnes.

After that, the wine and food matching began.
The whole night swirled around extremely informative and captivating speeches from Liz quickly followed by notes on the flavours regarding both the wine and the food matched with it from Serena.

Lilbert-Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Andre Jacquart & Fils Blanc de Blancs Brut, Paul Bara Brut Reserve, Serge Mathieu Tradition Brut and, last but not least, Henri Giraud l’Esprit de Giraud Brut were the grower champagnes starring the tasting. Liz entertained everyone with interesting facts, bucket loads of knowledge, juicy details about her trip to Champagne and the discovery journey of these absolutely wonderful grower Houses.
Food wise, Serena went through a long research process and cross referenced tasting charts, wine tasting notes, food blog reviews and personal notes and came up with a unique menu that enhanced and completed the overall experience. Veggie sushi, coriander chicken and prawn skewers, Emmental du France cream vol-au-vent were some of the dishes served to those lucky customers who attended.

Words by  Serena Cappellini | Retail Manager, Glengarry Wines Westmere

Babich Irongate Vertical Tasting | Glengarry Hutt Road

If there was ever a living icon in the wine industry, the title would surely have to go to Joe Babich. Joe joined the family business in 1958 and has achieved much over his career – he was awarded Winemaker of the Year in1994 and in 2014 both Peter and Joe were awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal in recognition for services to the New Zealand wine industry. Babich is still a family-run company and are currently celebrating their 100th year anniversary. To celebrate this achievement Babich have been running a number of tastings with us, including the Irongate vertical tasting we had here at Hutt Road with Joe.

Irongate Chardonnay has been produced from the Gimblett Gravels since 1985 and for this tasting Joe decided to treat us to four vintages of this fabulous wine. It was extremely interesting to see the development of this wine over several vintages. The 2002, although still an elegant wine, was starting to show signs of attenuation; the 2008 was my favourite – this was pungent and rich and had a fabulous silken texture; the 2011 was more restrained but had beautiful balance and incredible length. The current vintage, 2014, was also elegant but a little more closed and tight; this is a wine to put away for a short time (3-5 years) and will reward handsomely.

Following on from the Chardonnay we did four Irongate Reds. These wines are composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – the Cabernet content stays pretty much the same but the Merlot and Franc varies slightly depending on vintage. For this tasting we went from the youngest wine to the oldest wine. The first off the starting block was the 2014 and what a little charmer this wine was – lifted florals and mulberry on the nose, the palate was voluptuous and rich, it had a lovely sweetness, and deserved some time to rest before consuming. Following the 2014 we had the 2013; another stunning vintage from the region. This was every bit as good as the 2014 but surprisingly different in character – it had deep rich black fruits and was a little more closed at this stage in its life. The 2008 was drinking well right now! It was dark and showed dried fruits and spices, and finely integrated tannins. The 1990 was a treat and was older than three of our staff members that attended the tasting! It had a very old nose and was the a bricky colour, but remarkably the wine was holding incredibly well and had excellent length. It was more on the savoury side now as most of the obvious fruit had fallen away but it still retained a freshness and its life was by no means over.

The tasting was an absolute treat and it was an honour to meet Joe Babich, a man that has contributed so much to the New Zealand wine industry. Here’s to the next 100 years!

Posted by Meredith Parkin | Fine Wine Account Manager, Glengarry Hutt Road, Wellington.

Trinity Hill | Homage 2014 – with John Hancock

Trinity Hill is an iconic New Zealand winery, the idea for which was formed in London in 1987. John Hancock was meeting in the restaurant Bleeding Heart, owned by Robert and Robyn Wilson. Over a bottle of John’s Morton Estate Chardonnay, the Wilson’s expressed their desire to produce their own world-class wines in the Hawkes Bay. John had already recognised the outstanding potential of the Gimblett Gravels district, and they began planting in 1993 on the barren former bed of the Ngaruroro River. Since those early days, this sub-region has become one of the most expensive and important wine growing areas in the country. We were lucky to have John himself here this week to talk us through that history, and taste their Black Label Gimblett Gravels wines from the 2014 vintage.

 The highlight of the evening was the two vintages of their flagship wine ‘Homage’. The 2014 has only just been bottled and will not be released until the end of the year. This was a real treat to be able to taste these two outstanding years side by side now. Homage was first produced in 2002, and is named as a tribute to the late Gerard Jaboulet of Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine in France’s Rhone Valley. They produced one of the world’s greatest Syrah in the form of the famous ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage. Gerard was also a great friend of Robert and Robyn Wilson and had hosted many legendary dinners at the Bleeding Heart. John Hancock also worked alongside Gerard at Jaboulet’s cellars during the 1996 harvest, and when he left was presented with cuttings of Syrah from the La Chapelle vineyard, and Viognier from Les Jumelles in Cote Rotie. It was these cuttings that formed the basis of the plantings that now make up Homage.

2013 and 2014 are arguably the finest back to back vintages Hawkes Bay has ever seen. I haven’t tried the 2013 since last year and it is now looking much more integrated, while the 2014 is still trying to find its feet. If you prefer rich opulence, then the 2014 is the wine for you; the 2013 is a little darker and harder in character, but both are outstanding wines. Unlike some of the other ‘super premium’ Hawkes Bay Syrah, I find Homage less polished and refined on release, it just takes a lot more time to settle down into itself. This is a wine that demands at least 10 years of cellaring to really show what’s it’s made of. It’s more brutish, edgier and has tons of character. A few years back John and I also hosted a tasting where we compared 4 vintages of ‘Homage’ directly with ‘La Chapelle’ and La Petite Chapelle and they really do have a very similar character. Time and vine age will only serve to improve what Trinity Hill is producing down there. I’ve got a number of bottles in my own cellar, and so should you.

The wines tasted were:

Gimblett Gravels Marsanne / Viognier 2014, Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2014, Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2014, Gimblett Gravels ‘The Gimblett’ 2014 (Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc), Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014, Homage 2014 (Pre Release), Homage 2013.

Posted by Regan McCaffery | Fine Wine Account Manager, Glengarry Wines Victoria Park, Auckland

Grant Burge of Barossa Valley – Glengarry Tasting Review by Regan McCaffery

Grant Burge is one of the Barossa Valley’s most respected producers. The Burge family’s winemaking history in the region can be traced back to 1855, when tailor John Burge, immigrated from England to the Barossa. John worked as a winemaker at Hillside Vineyards and his love of viticulture was passed onto his son Meshach, who continued the tradition making his first wine in 1865. This week we were privileged to have chief winemaker Craig Stansborough here with some of their premium range. He has just completed his 23rd vintage with the company, after Grant Burge himself offered him the job of cellar manager in 1993.

Grant Burge Cellar Door – Barossa Valley, South Australia

It’s been many years since Grant Burge had hosted an event in New Zealand, and it was extremely pleasing to see such high quality displayed across the entire range. These are also some of the best value wines I’ve tried in some time. Extremely affordable but with the capacity for good medium to long term cellaring. I was especially impressed with the pure expression of Cabernet displayed in the Cameron Vale 2013 for around $20. If you wanted something a little more mature then it was well worth stepping up to the 2010 Corryton Park, one of the highest and coolest sites in the entire Barossa. The Cabernets suit French Oak whereas the Filsell Old Vine Shiraz has a combination of French and American Oak. This wine is where Grant Burge originally made their mark in this country, and the 2013 vintage would make another great addition to a budding wine cellar. Craig commented that over time they have gradually been reducing the % of American Oak across the entire range, if you remember the wines from a decade or more ago.. these are very different.

Craig also hosted an event down at our Hutt Road store in Wellington and Meredith summed up the wines nicely.  “Looking back at my tasting notes, the words elegant and refined kept cropping up. They were also not overtly ‘Australian’ in the old sense which was very refreshing. The overwhelming impression in each of them was clearly one of great balance, and that’s what we are looking for in all of the great wines of the world. It’s a sense of harmony, where all the elements of fruit, tannin and acidity come together.”

The finest wine of the night was their icon Meschach Shiraz 2009, a great demonstrating of beautiful balanced power. Most of the fruit for this comes from small parcels around 100 years old that bring great intensity, but Craig explained that when they are tasting the lots, it is balance not concentration that is their primary concern. We double decanted this about 5 hours prior to the tasting and it really is showing well right now with beautiful complexity and great length. 2 days later it hasn’t skipped a beat, which match Craig assertion that it easily has 20 years ahead of it. For a wine that is acknowledged as one of Australia’s greatest Shiraz, it’s also great value at under $150.

The wines tasted in the night were: PinotNoir/Chardonnay Methode NV, Filsell Shiraz 2013, Distinction Balthasar Shiraz 2013, Cameron Cale Cabernet 2013 Distinction Corryton Cabernet 2013, Holy Trinity GSM 2012, Meshach Shiraz 2009, 10yr Tawny, 20yr tawny.

 

Vincent Girardin White Wines 2010

I’m so excited I can barely contain myself! I am finally able to start tasting some of the 2010 Burgundy’s that have arrived. As we are still basking in sunshine I am going to kick off this round of tastings with Vincent Girardin white wines on Wednesday March 13th – details on the Glengarry web site

I did a tasting of Vincent Girardin white wines just over a year ago and they were stunning every sip was a delight. Vincent’s origins date back 11 generations so his roots are buried deep in the hallowed soils of Burgundy and he knows every vine and parcel of land. The white wines that Vincent produces find their essence in their finesse and extreme purity. He manages to find the perfect balance between acidity and richness and while the wines are a delight to drink early they will benefit enormously from some time just laying about in a cellar.

I am going to open nine wines in total starting with a generic Meursault and finishing on a high with a Corton Charlemagne and his Quintessence Corton Charlemagne.

 Watch this space for the summary of these wines I am certain that they will not disappoint!

Anne Gros

To say that Anne Gros makes good wine is like saying Valerie Adams can throw things.

Domaine Anne Gros

Every time I have the very great privilege of tasting Anne’s wine I am surprised and delighted all over again. One of the great things of course about the last tasting that I did was that all of the wines were from the great 2009 vintage. This vintage has proved itself again and again and while Anne Gros has established herself in the challenging vintages the rewards in a stunning vintage are undeniable.
We went through and tasted all of the 2009 Anne Gros wines that we have in stock here and they were all spectacular from bottom to top and even though they were approachable now the group thought that most would benefit further from a bit of age.

We started with the Bourgogne Chardonnay as a little palate cleanser it showed some lovely white floral notes and hint of toasty oak. We followed with the Bourgogne and Bourgogne Hautes Cote de Nuit both showed well and offered extremely good value although most thought that the Hautes Cote de Nuit could do with another year or so bottle age the Bourgogne was on the whole pleasurable now. We then moved in to the Chambolle Musigny La Combe D’Orveaux and Vosne Romanee Les Barreaux and both of these are a step up from most village wines and her skill in getting the most out of her grapes shines here. Anne gets a wonderful depth of flavour in her wines but without massive extraction just sublime.

Domaine Anne Gros CellarBut wait there’s more! (This by the way is the part of my job that doesn’t feel like working at all!) We did the Clos Vougeot, Echezeaux and Richebourg. Just for fun one of the group suggested that we did them blind this was great as it took away any preconceptions that we may have had. I am happy to say that I did guess them correctly when it came to the reveal –phew reputation intact! They were as expected all remarkable and a delight to taste the Richebourg stood out from just the sheer power of the wine, this is a massive wine and would be a worthy addition to the cellar of a serious Burgundy collector. With that said the star of the night was without a doubt the Clos Vougeot it was elegance personified and enjoyed by all.  The Echezeaux was a star in its own right it had lovely spice notes and fantastic structure it was another five star wine but just slightly overshadowed on the night by the Clos Vougeot