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
After two excellent days on the left bank, day three saw me head to the right bank. My first stop Château Pétrus, always a pleasure; the team there are so delighted we come all that distance to taste. Pétrus is 100% Merlot and has been since 2010 when they pulled out the Cabernet vines. The Cabernet were planted in clay, proving too cool to ripen Cabernet – also in the way of the construction at the winery. Flowering was difficult at Pétrus, with 20% loss in yield – though more than in 2013 when they lost 50% due to flowering. Pétrus 2014 is all about generosity, charm and persistence, a great wine.
After Pétrus I caught up with Javier from Aalto (yes, Spanish) in St Émilion, more on that later, back to the Bordeaux for the moment. The UGC tasting of St Émilion was an excellent overview of the area and showed the consistency of the left bank in 2014 did not apply to the right bank. There were some excellent wines, including Château La Dominique, Château Clos Fourtet and Château Pavie Macquin. Next stop the offices of JP Moueix, where I tasted a large range of their owned properties and those they follow. As is the case with the Moueix properties, there were many great wines here: Château Certan de May is brilliant, amazing length and concentration; Château Trotanoy is, as you would expect, very smart, firm, structured with incredible power on the finish; Château Lafleur is Cabernet Franc dominant and simply stunning, slightly restrained on the nose, the acidity and precision with the firm bold structure is perfectly in balance. The visit at JP Moueix concluded with a very encouraging discussion re price – more on that later. One more visit for the day, Château Clinet; 2014 Clinet is 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, a gorgeous wine, perfumed, fragrant with excellent concentration, energy and freshness.
Following a mornings tasting of the 2012 wines of the region, we headed to Akarua in Bannockburn for lunch. A marque nestled in the vines greeted us, as did a glass of Akarua’s excellent rose bubbly, delicate, just the right color pink, gentle yet rich. The menu was superb, starting with whitebait fritters matched with the Akarua Vintage brut. The main course was really well done, a set of platters of venison, merino lamb racks, boiled potatoes, plenty of vegetables and an excellent Israeli couscous salad. The reds, a Pinot and Syrah – not a typo here, the Syrah was from Lowburn Ferry, a spicy little number it went very well with the curried eggplant that accompanied the venison. For dessert, Malcom Rees Francis’s Tigermoth Riesling – brilliant wine on its own, it sang magically with the lemon dessert. A brilliant lunch and what a view. We then stopped (all 45 of us) at Matt Connell and Matt Dicey’s local, the Cromwell pub. The poor girl behind the bar was slightly over whelmed, a glass of Emerson’s Pilsner and then it was back to Queenstown for a rest before an evening at Jacks Point. The wines for the evening were varied as the wineries showed some of their whites, older reds, larger formats, in fact you name it and it was definitely there. Highlights for me; Peregrine Chardonnay, Mount Edward Pinot Blanc, Terra Sancta Rose, Quartz Reef Pinot 2004 from magnum and Chard Farm Viper Pinot 2002.
Last night was the first tasting for the year of the New Zealand Chapter if the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, an excellent tasting presented as three flights of three wines.
The first three wines were all White Burgundy, 2004 vintage, from different producers and parts of the region. First up La Chablisiennne Chablis 1er cru Les Preuses, then Pierre Matrot Meursault 1er cru Les Perrieres and lastly Blain-Gagnard Batard Montrachet Grand Cru. 2004 was a much underrated vintage, it was excellent to see the wines with nine years of age. Generally they were drinking very well and I loved the Batard. The second flight were all Vosne Romanee Les Suchots, all from 2006 and from differing producers. Les Suchots is a 1er cru, positioned in centre of the Vosne Romanee slope neatly nestled between many of the great Grand Cru of Burgundy. This was an interesting comparison, taking away the influence of site and year and looking at the hand of the winemaker. My standout in this line up was Domaine de l’Arlot, I love the higher percentage use of whole bunch and the texture. The final line up was another take on the same theme, this time, the same producer – Domaine de la Vougeraie, the same vintage -2004, and from different Grand Cru. An excellent comparison of site taking out the impact of vintage and producer. So back to the title of this post – Vintage Matters. In tasting the wines and discussing them last night, there was much discussion on the two vintages in the tasting, 2004 and 2006 being poorer vintages and whether they were good examples. Would we have been better to be tasting vintages like 2005 or 2009? I love vintage variation and the fact there’s a place for each of these vintages, lesser or super stars. These so good lesser or poorer vintage wines were incredible and approachable much earlier than they would be from vintages like 2005, 2009 and the like. I also find in vintages like 2004 that you see an even greater expression of the site. In fact, worth considering that if the 2005 need 30 years to be ready – is that the right timing for you? So that’s my rant on vintage, a great night last night – looking forward to the next.