Three wines walk into a bar, an Italian, a Swiss and a Frenchman…
Okay, something like that. It’s always more fun when there’s a bit of variety, right? Well, today’s tutored tasting ticks that box for sure! Here’s a brief run down on the three domaines we will be tasting – one from Italy, one from Switzerland and one from France, with the full tasting list below. I hope you can join us.
Ticket price is HKD 200; fully redeemable upon purchases of HKD 2,000 or more on event wines.
Domaine Jean Fournier – Marsannay
Marsannay? If you haven't caught up with what has been happening in this northern Côte de Nuits appellation, you have been missing out. Taking in Marsannay-la-Côte, Couchey, and Chenove, it sits between Gevrey-Chambertin and Dijon. It became its own AOC in 1987, but has often been regarded as a bit of a range filler. But here we have a young, energetic domaine run by Laurent Fournier (since 2003) who is a real specialist of Marsannay, and he makes several cuvées. The rise in quality in Marsannay is known by the slow moving INAO (the body that grants AOC status), and a number of vineyards here – including some worked by Fournier – are slated for potential upgrade to 1er Cru status.
2015 & 2014 Marsannay Rouge 'Cuvée Saint Urbain'
This is Fournier's signature blend from three different vineyard sites – Clos du Roy, Echezots and Longerois, 25% whole bunches and aged in 500~600 litre barrels, 10~15% new. This cuvée emphasizes juicy raspberry fruit and softer tannins. It is fleshy, sleek and mineral, and ready to enjoy for its fruitiness.
2015 & 2014 Marsannay Rouge 'Clos du Roy'
One of the grandest sites in Marsannay and a tipped favourite for 1er Cru status (it was owned by dukes historically, and of high status in the 19th century rankings). The fruit is a little depper, more plummy, layered, with more pronounced tannins (much more limestone here). You could still drink this on its fruit, but better to age it a little more.
2015 Marsannay Rouge 'Trois Terres Vieilles Vignes'
From three sites, this time from selections of the oldest vines the domaine owns (and this is not marketing embellishment, they were planted in 1943 and 1947). There is a step up in intensity here and an almost blackcurrant-like fruit profile. Fine, very serious Marsannay. Ageworthy.
2015 & 2014 Orto di Venezia
The only wine from Venice, grown on the island of Sant'Erasmo in the Venetian lagoon. Vines thrived here 500 years ago, but it wasn't until Michel Thoulouze* and his family decided to plant vines here a few years ago that this was revived. Producer Alain Graillot of Crozes-Hermitage fame, and agronomist Claude Bourgignon of DRC fame consult. The Istrien Malvoisie-based wine is a serious effort. We love its saline tanginess and hints of spice. It's a great seafood wine. The 2015 has just landed, so it will be great to try them side by side.
*yes, he's actually French. We ll have to check the rule book
Domaine Jean-René Germanier
If you thought Marsannay was off-piste, how about the Swiss Alps themelves? This estate is run by Germanier's nephew, Genevan jazz saxophonist Gilles Besse. Here in the Valais we really are in alpine territory – low rain, high diurnal temperature range, lots of sunshine = long ripening, juicy fresh wines with good complexity. The hills are alive.
2015 Petite Arvine
Petite Arvine is the grape variety (100%), grown around the villages of Conthey, Vétroz and Chamoson on argillaceous shale and moraines – on the left-behind deposits of retreating glaciers in other words. Lemony with a hint of rhubarb, and goes well with fish, soft cheeses and yodeling. You must try this!
2014 CAYAS Syrah
This is one of those great blind tasting choices (you have been warned!) as this Syrah has consistently been winning medals and accolades from critics now for a decade, and happily goes toe to toe with its wine peers in the Northern Rhône. Indeed, Germanier writes this is grown on shale from slopes on the right side of the Rhône Valley. ;-)
So, there's the line up. Hardly boring. Let's play!