Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I'm still enjoying the copious amounts of fresh fish I can get and opening lots of Muscadet to go with it. Fish is the best part of living in Finland; the lack of Muscadet (and Loire in general) is the worst. But gladly Richard Shama of Wine Bear came to my rescue and I bought tons of Muscadet to tide me over this summer.

Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Domaine du Verger Sur Lie 2012
12%. Nicely citric style; electric yet pure fruit. A bit one-dimensional in comparison to other L-Ps but still fun. But does anyone know what D. du Verger actually is? I can't seem to find any info in a language I could read.

Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Terre de Pierre Butte de la Roche 2010
12% abv. Weird but good stuff. On the one hand it smells classically Melony with plenty of saline, citric, mineral and leesy character; yet on the other, it's almost like a late-harvest wine in its intensity and concentrated fruit. But despite its size and apparent fruit-sweetness it finishes dry, acidic and powerful. Big but awesome.

Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Vieilles Vignes Sur Lie Clos des Allées 2012
12% abv. I was expecting to like this the most of all these LPs but no. This is great, too, but needs age and isn't particularly attractive just now. It smells of some things that it should smell of like sweat and reduction and even cold fermentation aromas like pears. The palate has a combination of richness and electricity. I think this might be one of the Muscadets that not only can age but requires it. There are many exciting things going on here. And the balance between those many exciting things is impeccable. I guess I'll open my next one next summer. My hunch is that this will turn out great.

Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Le L d'Or 2004
One doesn't often get to try aged Muscadet. When I took this bottle to a blind tasting, it seemed very much like the Clos des Allées and frankly didn't seem much more aged. It was also a softer style; it also had that slight pear-like aroma that seems like a result of cold fermentation. But it was a wonderful wine. Another bottle I opened at home was astonishing in its staying power. One would imagine that a 10yo Muscadet would be fully mature and would deteriorate with air very quickly. Nonsense! This was perhaps best on day two open and even on day three I saw no serious signs of deterioration. These seem almost as immortal once opened as top Chenin and Mosel Riesling.

It seemed as if there were two distinct styles of L-P with these wines. One was a steely, leesy, classic Muscadet; the other was a less acidic, more round but equally pleasing style. I still find Domaine de la Pépière most to my taste but these L-Ps are also fantastic.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Those damned hops!

After a day of Händel, Bach, Corelli and Marcello it was nice to relax with a great beer. Or one.

The first was a Bink Hop Verdomme IPA brewed as a backlash to the US style of IPA with seven different Flemish hops (though I don't know the names of any). It's very good, though I do see a bit of a kinship with US styles of IPA this isn't so syrupy and the hop aromas are gladly a bit different. This smells of rust and copper kettles and all sorts of fun, unusual things. But it still has body and a fair bit of sweetness to the bite so it does still seem a bit like a mix of Belgian and US styles despite the foreign hops. But it is a very enjoyable beer though I can't see a clear style. I thought this was very moreish and it disappeared from my glass very fast - especially considering it is 7% abv. It doesn't taste that heavy.

The second beer I had was a bit of a disappointment. I used to drink lots of Keisari 66 American Pale Ale but for some reason haven't bought one in a while (too much wine to try?). I've heard some alarming reports of a change in style so I had to try it out. I don't see such a huge transition in style as the gossip says, but neither is this so wonderfully refreshing and bright as I remember. It still stands head and shoulders above all competition that I know of that can be bought in Finnish grocery stores (with the law that max 4,7% can be sold in shops here). I enjoyed it but not as much as I used to. But I must wonder if the psychology of everyone else saying that it's become less good has something to do with it. When I try to analyse the components and their relations to each other all seems ok. So my verdict: still better than pretty much anything we can buy without having to use our monopoly, but not as exciting as I remember it to have been.

Friday, July 18, 2014

This wasn't real pain, but was it Champagne?

Ridgeview Cavendish Brut 2011 - A classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinots Noir and Meunier in equalish amounts; c.30€

Salmon pink. It is a young, immature wine yet still there's a pretty strong toasty aroma. Lots of tart red berry aromas. Small enough bubbles that I'm happy. Wonderfully tart yet fleshy palate, highish acidity, less sugar than I remember tasting in past Ridgeviews. This is a steelier style than I recall. I wonder: are they making these with lower dosage these days?

Anyway, the result is that of a very attractive bubbly wine. Quite a Champagne-like character here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I wish I could make a Karriere from drinking this stuff

Dard & Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Blanc Karrière 2011
This is a single-vineyard(?), 100% Marsanne made in a rather extreme natural style with minimal sulphur and just the local yeast species. I think this is pretty superb stuff, but as hopefully can be seen from the picture despite my crappy camera and even crappier camera skills, the wine is hazy and milky in appearance. It does not look appetizing. The smell is pleasantly sharp (I'd like to write that there is an ever so slight hint of vinegar here, but then that would put people off ... oh, oops!) with lovely honey, cinnamon and apple flavours. Crisp and citric but full and honeyed on the palate with again that lovely sharpness that I shouldn't call the tiniest touch of vinegar on the palate.

Just as the dose makes the poison - there can be a safe amount of cyanide one can ingest and a dangerous amount of water - so there is a level of vinegar that I think is perfectly acceptable in wine. Just that you see the word here does not mean that this is a faulty wine. Far from it. I think this was hugely exciting and quite frankly at such a low level I would argue that it actually made the wine as a whole more interesting than it would have been without it: it didn't detract from anything, but it did bring a pleasant touch of brightness and a bracing quality to what is otherwise a pretty heavy, ponderous grape.

But I do wonder if I understand these two Rhône grapes at all. Are there really great differences between Marsanne and Roussanne? I haven't had much of either, but I do find it quite difficult to smell and taste them apart. Marsanne, says Mr. Töövi, a lover of these grapes, is a fatter wine whereas Roussanne can be more floral and bright. Tasting these Dard & Ribos and I can kind of agree with that; yet the differences seem really, really small to me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Léoube Rosé 2013

© Sari Wines
Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube 2013
Côtes de Provence; 13% abv; Grenache 40%, Cinsault 40%, Syrah 10% & Mourvèdre 10%

Beautiful, pale rosé. It's a bit stinky and reductive just after opening so despite the summer heat I decide to pour it into a decanter. And 15 mins with a bit more surface area in contact with air seems to do marvels for the wine.

This is a very pretty wine. There's proper substance to the aromas and the sensations on the palate. It is fleshy; yet it isn't heavy. It's more in the lean but muscular style. Just when you think that the fruit and weight are coming to the fore there's an undercurrent of structure that suddenly makes it seem as light as a feather. Every sip I take goes through this microcosmic battle between weight and lightness and always the result is that freshness wins. This is the kind of rosé I like. It isn't an inconsequential thirst-quenching wine but something truly worth spending a bit of time with. This is where rosé transcends its limitations and becomes something serious in addition to being fun

It's available in Alko's sale-to-order selection at c.24€ so it's not cheap for rosé. But then again, it's Alko we're talking about and it is far from the cheaper end of rosés in France, too. So my recommendation is that despite Alko's prices go and empty the shelves. This is seriously good stuff. And is seriously good and fun.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chateau Musar Rosé 1995

Ch. Musar Rosé 1995 - 12% abv; Bekaa valley, Lebanon.

This is made mostly from the white grapes Merwah and Obaideh and c.5% Cinsault. The Obaideh vineyards are old, planted between 1920 and 1947. Coupled with the high altitude vineyards (c.1400m) there's a combination of concentration from old vines, wonderful acidity presumably because of the high altitude in a region that is generally very hot, and a lovely, pure, ripe but not at all over-done fruit.

IIRC this is made pretty much in the same way as the white (apart from that slight percentage of red grapes) and the whites are pretty much immortal, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a 19yo rosé is still vibrant. Except it isn't just vibrant. It's in its perfect point of drinking: this is one of the few Musars of which I'll say that you don't need to open it hours or days in advance in order to enjoy it. Literally from the first sniff it was perfect. But the best thing is that this is still vibrant, too, so it was just as brilliant on day two open!

Were I served this blind, I would have difficulty differentiating it from the white Musar. And served open, I still have difficulty: this is a pale rosé and the white can be a quite a dark gold. The colour is similar, the smell is similar and the taste is similar. This is a wonderful wine. And I won't be surprised if it were just as brilliant in a decade. Drink and hold.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Treloar Motus 2011

Domaine Treloar Motus 2011 - 14% abv; Côtes de Roussillon; mostly Mourvèdre

I love Mourvèdre. It has much more interesting aromas than the other southern French grapes and it seems to retain good structure even in the scorching hot years. I don't actually know if 2011 was a particularly hot year in Roussillon, but this does come across as a bigger, chewier wine than I remember from the previous vintages. But that's perfectly ok even though usually my preference is for the cooler years because the structure is still there. And it still smells more of pomegranates than raisins so it hasn't become over-ripe. And despite all the sunny fruit, it's tannic and pleasantly astringent and refreshing on the finish. Once the oak goes more into hiding this should become something quite brilliant. It drinks ok on days two and three open but is quite tough on day one. Hold.