Winehog reader: “… just a few names of your personal favourites for casual drinking. It does not always need to be so formal with your tasting notes, etc.”
Belive it or not, I do enjoy wines casually, and mainly for hedonistic purposes – the pure pleasure of it. I try to assemble the notes from time to time, but sometimes they are forgotten in the breeze of a hot Burgundy night.
Some are modest or casual, but this episode was mindbending.
So what have I been drinking recently?
A Dijon experience – Chapeau Rouge, Restaurant William Frachot
In early September I had the pleasure of visiting the two-star Michelin restaurant Hostellerie du Chapeau Rouge, Restaurant William Frachot in Dijon. It was an excellent experience, with very precise and delightful food and wines to match including, to say the least, some surprises.
We started out with a 2014 Chablis Le Clos, a rather youthful wine not currently revealing itself fully. A big Chablis? Yes. Sexy now? Not really …
Next up, a rare Coche-Dury – the Meursault Les Caillerets 2012, the “unknown” 1er cru of the Mersault appellation located on the border with Volnay and Monthelie. Not very Coche-like in the beginning, with relatively rich and generous notes and none of the classic aromas of popcorn and gunpowder. However, it gets more focused in the glass and is, in the end, offering the classic Coche virtues (93 – 94p). Very fine indeed, a very enjoyable wine for drinking within the next 5-10 years.
Next up is the 2012 Domaine Duroché Chambertin Clos de Beze, a big and still youthful wine. While I feel that Pierre Duroché has improved over the last 5 years – the 2012 Beze is showing very fine form – this wine will need 5-10 more years to unfold completely. It is elegant and very controlled, offering a long and deeply mineral palate. The Beze is the top wine of the Duroché lineup (93 – 94p).
Hola Commando G – adios Rayas
And now to something completely different: Commando G
Commando G was founded by Daniel Gómez Landi and Fernando Garcia in 2008. They make terroir-driven wines at high altitude in central Spain from extremely old Garnacha (Grenache) vineyards. The “role model” they chose was Chateau Rayas, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape considered to be the best 100% Grenache wine in the world. That was then. Now we have Commando G!
The vineyards of this 15-ha domaine are situated in some of the least accessible villages of the Sierra de Gredos mountain area. The vineyards are classified according to the Burgundy system of Village, 1er Cru and Grand Cru terroirs.
This mountainous area is divided among three valleys, and the majority of the plots are located around the village of Rozas de Puerto Real, where they make a village-level wine, La Bruja de Rozas. They also produce a wine from a selection of parcels with a special character, Rozas 1er Cru, and a single-vineyard “Grand Cru” wine, Las Umbrías. These vines are grown in the valley of the river Tiétar.
In the valley of Alto Alberche they have some very old plots in the villages of Navarrevisca, Villanueva del Ávila and Navatalgordo. From these plots they make the single vineyard “Grand Cru” wines Rumbo al Norte, Tumba del Rey Moro and El Tamboril – and this is were the magic starts.
First we tasted the Commando G Rumbo al Norte 2013 from a 0.30-ha vineyard located at an altitude of 1150 metres on granitic soil. This parcel produced 741 bottles and 30 magnums. The viticulture and vinifcation is biodynamic.
The wine was served blind – and to be honest I had no clue about its origin. Served after the Duroché Clos de Beze, this tasted more intense and my first thought was Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanee Les Beaux Monts 2013 for its concentrated flavours and low-yield structure. Still, it was difficult to place it in Burgundy. It’s intense, but very airy, fruity and elegant with a mineral lift normally not seen in Grenache. The mineral balance is unique, coming from the granite soil; a tremendous wine putting quality pressure on the Beze from Duroché. Rose petals on the nose, which clearly recall the Côte de Nuits. While it was not exactly a Burgundian wine, the intensity and airyness did suggest a close Burgundian relation (95 – 96p) Outstanding: A magnificent wine clearly outperforming Rayas and even the 2012 Duroché Chambertin Clos de Béze.
Next Commando G Tumba del Rey Moro 2013; stylewise the same animal, with its airy effortlessness and elegance. Silkier and more generous than the Rumbo al Norte, although lacking a bit of the former’s definition and complexity. That being said, this is seductive and very generous , from an 1100-metre-high vineyard. No new oak; used French barrels. An intense and gorgeous wine with a refined, velvety texture. The vines’ northern exposure ensures a cool character – like the Rumbo al Norte. (94 – 95p) Very Fine+ A great glass.
I must say that I was quite flabbergasted by these two Spanish wines. In my view, they moved the goalposts for old-world wines. They were clearly more interesting than Rayas, and challenged the Burgundian wines – perhaps not the top tier of Grands Crus, but quite easily the next level down.