TN: Cornas, Piedmont, Central Italy, Loire


Wednesday we went to a new Greek place in Sleepy Hollow based on some Chowhound raves. Revithosalata, taramasolate, lamb shank, avgholemono were excellent, tzaziki,.hummus,souvlaki, gyro very good, salad average. Baklava was weak spot. Waiting on liquor license, so BYO for now , so we carried the 1999 Juge "Cuvee C" Cornas. Lovely Syrah, not a blockbuster by any means, pretty medium bodied wine with balanced blackberry fruit and a hint of gamey/meaty aromas. If you like your Syrah low-acid this won't be for you. Good length. Still developing as we left, hope the chef enjoyed the rest. A-/B+
Thursday I didn't have any wine, but enjoyed Agrippina at NYCO (the beautiful cellist doing the continuo was excellent, I might add) :) I decided to make up for that on Friday, which was a good thing as my local group was coming over. But before that, Betsy made osso buco for an early dinner. I went down for a Sangiovese, but stumbled across a 1998 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco and opened that. Not a ton of character- some tannins, high acids, a bit grapey. With some air more black cherry. Tasting group samples a couple of time, integrates a bit, shows a little interest, but never strikes me as very Nebbiolo- ish. Ok for $20, I guess. B-
So the guys gathered - though with a couple sick and one out of country, only 4 of us. We started each bottle blind, along with a good assortment of cheese (Lambchopper, Langres, Gouda, Keens Cheddar, Sottocenare) and soppresatta. . Theme was supposed to be "Comparatively Obscure Grapes", and I had sent out a list of about 12 banned (too popular, from Barbera to Zinfandel) red grapes. The wines:
Wine #1 isn't blind for me, as it was my contribution. Light color, light body, but with persistence and depth. Floral, bright strawberry fruit accented with mineral and roadtar. After I confirm Italy, Fred guesses Piedmont. Good guess- the 2004 La Casaccia "Casa Poggeto" Grignolino del Monferrato. B+
Wine #2 There's a (beautiful) herbal aspect to the nose that leads me immediately to Loire, but I know Cab Franc is on disallowed list. Fairly light color, yet deep fruit. I manage to guess Pineau d'Aunis, but that's as much social engineering as blind tasting. It's got excellent length, bright acidity, rich red fruit, a mineral/herb/ tobacco leaf finish. It's the 2006 Clos Roche Blanche L'Arpent Rouge Touraine, and I'll be ordering some. B+/A-
Wine #3 Very ripe black cherry fruit, a bit of oak. Someone guesses New World, Marc says no. I then go to Italy, but am guessing south. It's very very ripe, and my mind is on Sicily, Campania, etc. I'm wrong, it's the 2003 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Actually Sangiovese was on banned list, but Franco-Belgian Marc was relying on label, which called it Prugnolo. I was wrong about the oak, too- found something that said foudre. In any case, not bad, but I wouldn't look for it. B-
Wine #4 Jammy red fruit, a hint of VA, some oak. A bit tannic, ripe bordering on overripe, but with good length and depth. Again I'm guessing Southern Italy, again it's central. The Pardi Sagrantino (Montefalco) is probably biggest wine of the night, others like more than I. B-
We're having a good time on a rainy night., let's extend with a dessert wine. Something different- a half bottle of the 1991 Freemark Abbey Johannisberg Riesling Edelwein Gold. Dessert Riesling from Napa? I had loved a bottle of this from mid-70s. Cork is crumbly, I destroy and then filter into a carafe. Color is a deep gold, but immediately begins to darken. As I pass around, it has a deep orange tone and everyone thinks its a red. Within 15 minutes, it can only be described as brown. Yet this is actually tasty. Nutty, caramelly, it reminds me of a very good dessert sherry. Someone says "Toffee!" Quite nice, though a bit low acid. I think everyone likes, and it's still holding on when Betsy gets back from work. By morning it looks and tastes like mud, but this gets my vote for "tastes better than it looks" award. B/B +
Fun night, ok to very good wines, great group of guys.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency
Reply to
DaleW

Glad to hear Marcel Juge is on form. I've always felt his wines deserved more recognition, although I wonder if he's modified the style to be a little more approachable...
Thanks for the notes!
On the pinot d'aunis, this cepage often reveals itself to me with a characteristic (and not unpleasant) ripe tomato note.
-E
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Emery Davis
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Emery Davis

How come they make the beautiful cellist play continuolly? Doesn't Local 802 have rules in the contract anymore? When I worked there, we always got a 15 minute (or more) intermission when we played an opera. ;-)
Godzilla
Reply to
Godzilla

Ouch. Hey, some clubs have go-go dancers, right?
The closest I got to the fat opera contracts was doing the Opera Ball for many years, but as ex-802 I can say that at least for club dates "continual music" meant 10 minutes off per hour, and the music really was continual. You used your 10 minutes to try and scab a whiskey somewhere, and you needed at least someone who could pretend to play drums during the drummer's breaks. The money was better than straight scale but not good enough. I can remember finishing gigs like the Quadrille positively aching...
-E
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Emery Davis
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Reply to
Emery Davis

Hey, no one ever said those gigs were going to be no strings attached! :P
Mark Lipton
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Reply to
Mark Lipton

The key is just to fiddle around, while keeping a sharp eye for the brass trying to drum up business. Note that you shouldn't be a wind bag when you take a rest, or your number will be up.
But if that happens, don't wine about it.
Jose
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Reply to
Jose

characteristic
I've not generally found the Cuvee C to be structured for the real long term. But a nice Cornas for midterm. I believe there is another cuvee that might be more long lived.
Reply to
DaleW

I'm holding you and Emery responsible for Mark's and Jose's descent into dreadful punnery. :)
802 certainly has its rules. I personally appreciate all that they have done for orchestral musicians. Of course, rigid adherence can be a bit irritating - like when a conductor wants to do 5 more minutes of a rehearsal, and a few old-timers (remembering bad old days) insist on the required break.
And of course the intermission is as important for the musicians as the audience's bladders (a big thing with the average age of most opera goers). Betsy had well-wishing friends visit as intermission, they didn't seem to quite get she wanted to get the hell out of the pit.
Reply to
DaleW

Watch it, Dale, or I'll let Betsy know that you were eying that beautiful cellist! :P
Mark Lipton
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Reply to
Mark Lipton

I am totally irresponsible! But yes, dreadful is a good word. :)
-E
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Emery Davis
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Reply to
Emery Davis

If I remember rightly -- and worth mentioning I haven't visited for many years -- the 'C' in 'Cuvee C' refers to 'coteaux.' Basically, it's the top cuvee, coming from up the slope which gets more sun. I think there are (or were) 3, the basic AOC coming from mostly on the plain, the middle from halfway. Can't think offhand what the middle is called.
Not sure why 'cuvee C' would be less structured, but maybe Juge has decided to aim this one at the export market. Certainly the mode of making more approachable Cornas (despicable to my view!) began in the mid-90s.
-E
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Emery Davis
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Reply to
Emery Davis

A pun is the lowest form of wit, but only when you didn't think of it yourself first. :)
Jose
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Jose

little
Actually I think the one that is top cuvee is called Cuvee SC?
I think that this is less tannic/rustic than Cornas of old, but I don't think it has suffered from it. Not a modern/international wine - no apparent new oak, fruit nowhere near overripe, bright acidity, etc. So maybe this might be mistaken for a Cote-Rotie, I'm not THAT locked into typicity. I'm happy it would never be mistaken for Aussie shiraz.
Good solid typical Syrah that is approachable at 8 but still developing isn't my idea of something to despise!
Reply to
DaleW

little
Yes, that was the other one. The top, eh? I guess I remember wrongly but glad to know it. I wonder what SC stands for, schist coteaux?
No indeed. Actually even in days of yore "they" used to say that Cornas should be approachable after 7 years.
-E
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Emery Davis
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Emery Davis

characteristic
I keep being disappointed with Central Italian wines. Best stuff coming out of Italy the last few years is from the north and from Puglia, Campania, Sicily, and Sardegna.
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UC

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