TN: High expectations: ESJ, Thomas-Labaille, Vissoux

3 reasonably priced wines, all much anticipated, with one slight
disappointment, one happily fulfilling expectations, and one home run.
So my Champagne dinner Saturday had started at 5:30, even with a long
dinner I was home by ten. Waiting for Betsy to call after concert, I
decided a glass of red would do. So I opened the 2002 Wayward Pilgrims
of the Vine "the Shadow" Syrah (California). This is an Edmund St John
wine, but that's only visible in the small print. I believe story was
that Steve Edmunds wasn't happy with 2002 Syrah fruit, so blended
various parcels and released when he felt more ready (but at $12, I
guess he rebranded to not undercut normal releases). This got good
buzz, but I was pretty disappointed at first. Rather generic Syrah -
straightforward blackberry-blueberry fruit with a firm tannin level and
decent acidic structure. Perfectly acceptable for the price, but not
exciting. But retasted Sunday evening, a much more complex wine had
emerged. Smoke and leather over meaty Syrah fruit, a sense of earth. I
think I'll put my remainder away for a couple of years to see what
happens. Very nice for price. B+
Sunday was a long day (I spoke at 4 consecutive masses at a church in
Crestwood). Little energy for dinner, I took some defrosted chicken
breast and rummaged through fridge, came up with celery and leeks to
bake it with. Used a little white wine for moisture, then the same wine
with dinner- the 2005 Thomas-Labaille "Les Monts Damnes" Chavignol
Sancerre (I always struggle with how to list non-appelation places like
Chavignol!). This was a bit of a disappointment- very typical, citrus
(grapefruit) on the palate with an accent of flint, but without
anything that stood up and grabbed my interest. A perfectably correct
and acceptable Sancerre, but maybe a couple shades below what I
expected from a favorite producer in a very good year. Still a solid B
Monday I picked up Betsy at LGA, came home to where I had dinner
prepped. Did a very simple pork tenderloin with Calvados cream sauce
(recent Bittman article in NYT- you brown the tenderloins, then slice
and brown cut sides- very easy, very good), steamed broccoli, and new
potatoes. I gave Betsy choice of big white or light red, she felt like
red. I opened the much anticipated 2005 Pierre-Marie Chermette (Domaine
du Vissoux) "Poncie" Fleurie. Big ripe Beaujolais, really lovely,
excellent depth of fruit. Fruit is darker than I'm used to with
Fleurie, but so tasty I don't care. Maybe doesn't have quite the
sprightly grace of Fleuries like the '02 Coudert regular bottling, but
makes up for it in depth, richness, and class. This is a wine that can
please Beaujolais fans yet also appeal to those who sometimes find
Beauolais too thin. A-
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
So a correction- a knowledgable poster on another board said that Steve Edmunds wasn't unhappy with grapes, but in the middle of a winery move combined all the fruit-Durell and Parmelee-Hill Vineyards (Sonoma Valley), Wylie and Fenaughty Vineyards (El Dorado County), Bassetti, (Central Coast) & Rozet (Paso Robles).
2002 Wayward Pilgrims
Reply to
The full story is available here for the interested:
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Basically, he always had great faith in the fruit, but never felt the time was right to bottle. It's an interesting story.
Mark Lipton p.s. Bill Paumen (who you might know) managed to bring this and several other ESJ wines into IN... for that alone I owe him many thanks.
Reply to
Mark Lipton

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