Grosses Gewächs, or “GG” as it is widely abbreviated, is wine from a top (VDP-approved) vineyard, unchaptalised, and – critically – fermented dry. Only one GG per vineyard may be made. The Maximin Grünhaus estate (re-)joined the VDP in 2015, so these are the first two vintages for this particular label. 2015 was full and fruit-driven, while 2016 was a touch lighter, but perhaps more charming and precocious. How did they show tonight? Did you pinpoint Riesling, and perhaps the Ruwer (Mosel)?
There are no vineyards designated Grand Cru in Volnay – unforgivably – but if there were this monopole 1er Cru of d’Angerville’s (and perhaps Lafarge’s monopole Clos du Château des Ducs) would be a clear contender. The wine combines tensile strength and depth, with Volnay’s elegance. But it can be a game of patience. The 1978 for instance rivals – in my view – the best of the Côte de Nuits in that great year. So I am curious to see how this pair, at 9 and 10 years of age, is showing today. Are they still a bit closed, or are they beginning to blossom? How did the neighbouring yet contrasting (’09 hot; ’08 cool and wet) vintages show? Did the depth and class come through all the same? Did you like them?
I am a great admirer of this traditional Cornas specialist. For a long time it was an open secret that the wines were amongst the front ranks of all Northern Rhône Syrahs, yet the price was always guilt-inducingly low. Not so anymore, deservedly. I was in their cellar in 2011 tasting the various large wooden vats of different plots that would go on to be assembled into the 2010 vintage. I was blown away by the quality. It did not surprise me that the Wine Advocate went on to give the final wine 100/100, but I think that also marked a tipping point for the wine’s growing status. I still think the value is there, and in any case, I’m simply a fan. I’m curious to see where this pair goes. ’10 is quintessentially classic, perfectly balanced season, while ’09 was a little on the warm side – though that is less of an issue for Syrah than Pinot Noir.
Arguably the leader of the St.-Julien commune (though Ducru-Beaucaillou might clear its throat at that today), and certainly true back at the end of the 1980s when this pair was made. Las Cases sits on the same magnificent Gunzian gravels as its immediate neighbour (across a little stream) – Château Latour in Pauillac. So while it has something of St.-Julien’s elegance and restraint, it also has something of Pauillac’s depth and power. It’s as old school as a wool tie with check shirt and tweed jacket, but cut well and from good cloth. What I think is so great about Bordeaux like this today is that these are 30/29 years old, offered directly from the château’s cellar, represents the top of the second growths, and yet only costs what it does. Bordeaux today – unlike 7 or so years ago – is a relative value proposition. Here we have another pair of contrasts that might make them taste more than a year apart – did you prefer the hot-blooded ’89, or the cool as a cucumber ’88?
Goodness, did I entirely neglect to include a New World wine? That wasn’t very adventurous of me. And yet I couldn’t resist including these – I’ve been meaning to for ages. I just love Climens, and again Sauternes’ value is amazing… though of course we shouldn’t call this Sauternes, as its identity is closely tied to that sub-district – Barsac. Much like Volnay tells you something more specific than Côte d’Or, Barsac tells you this is relative elegance and grace. Climens is quite special too in that it is pure Semillon – no Sauvignon or Muscadelle to exoticise things up in the fragrance. The 1962 is the archetype because in addition to the longevity (I hope, tonight) of pure Semillon, ’62 is a relatively elegant-styled (not too rich, and with elevated acidity) vintage. On-form the ’62 Climens is an understated classic. The 2001 is something else, however. It was the relatively classic, yet rich and exuberant vintage that caused a fuss for Sauternes in general (best vintage in a generation, etc), and this estate in particular, the 2001 Climens garnering 100/100 in the Wine Advocate on release. For much of this century, this ’01 has been fairly shut down – is it still that way, or has it begun to open up?
|2016||Weingut Maximin Grünhaus Abtsberg Grosses Gewächs||750ml||-|
|2015||Weingut Maximin Grünhaus Abtsberg Grosses Gewächs||750ml||-|
|2009||Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru ‘Clos des Ducs’||750ml||BH95|
|2008||Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru ‘Clos des Ducs’||750ml||BH94|
|2010||Domaine Clape Cornas||750ml||WA100|
|2009||Domaine Clape Cornas||750ml||WA99|
|1989||Château Léoville Las-Cases||750ml||WA91|
|1988||Château Léoville Las-Cases||750ml||WA92|
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