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Dinner with Bouchard, Pegau, Billecart-Salmon, Cristal and more

March 11, 2016 Leave a comment

A friend from abroad was in town this week so we ended up having dinner at a favorite for me now: La Brasserie Bistro&Lounge. As we both fancy wine, there was a good line-up prepared and as usual there were initially planned 3 bottles, but eventually we ended up having more between our small group of 4.

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Started the night with this 2003 Bouchard Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus that was popped and poured and barely had time to breath over the 1 h it lasted. This is a most unusual Pinot Noir in the sense that it has the mark of the hot 2003 vintage with ripe fruit and medium to low acidity. The color is deep ruby red. Nose is already expressive and developed well into a complex mix of sweet blue and red fruit, Asian spices and some discreet shades of undergrowth, keeping fresh. It has a denser than you might expect mouth feel, with a fleshy texture where velvety and smooth tannin mixes well with lavish layers of ripe red fruit and tea leaves, preserving balance and freshness. Long finish, aromatic tea leaves and red fruit jam. Really enjoyed it. (94/100)

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A bottle of 2010 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape was opened and left to breath since lunch time so it had about 8 h to aerate. Nose was interesting as usual but the mouth feel was bad. There was just too much VA in it to be able to enjoy it. Certainly not the wine that I had several months ago. (Not rated)

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Decided to shift palates to more tension and bubbles so a 1999 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart was served. This is a wine that I had several times already this year and I like it more and more. It feels the wine is in the right spot today and should be holding well for several more years, but why wait when it is so good. It’s got a rich mousse with plenty of tiny bubbles and a nose that sports intense aromas of smoky citrus fruit, caramel and biscuit. Very tense and razor sharp acidity after the reds, with smoky seashell and bright grapefruit palate. Long. (93-94/100)

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Decided to stay on a similar note with high acidity and citrus fruit so a 2013 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur was opened and decanted. Yes decanted. This has lots of chalky minerality, citrus fruit and Granny smith apple aromas. Mouth watering acidity, it combines very well ripe citrus fruit, wet stone minerals with riper flavors of grapefruit and chamomile. Medium plus long finish, lively citrus fruit. (92/100)

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When in doubt and want some tenser and riper refreshment go for a rose sparkling, preferably a Vintage. Champagne Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose 2004 is a Champagne for the long run and mostly a keeper. Some Champagne should be decanted. We did not do it, but I would recommend it. Light coppery color with small and rich bubble. Complex from the beginning it just got better in the glass in time. Intense and fresh nose filled with pink grapefruit skin, small red berries, citrus fruit and minerals. Very tense on the palate, it feels it has a Baroque type of structure of tannin and acidity that still hides its aromatic layers. Good potential here. (94/100)

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Last wine of the night was Champagne Cristal 2007. This punches the nose with smoky aromas of seashell, dried meat and citrus fruit. Razor sharp acidity at this stage, it needs time in the glass to get softer to reveal lively lemons, slate minerals and smoke, with a clean and sharp focus. Medium plus long finish, very fresh and a weightless mouth feel that makes it so easy to drink. (94/100)

Ended the evening quite late and had a hard time finding a cab to get home. That was a first and very unpleasant to stand up in the cold street waiting for a taxi to take my order.

Impressive vertical of Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape: 2004 – 2007

I attended a friend’s birthday party last night, also a passionate wine lover, and I was fortunate to taste an impressive line-up of wines from a producer  I absolutely love. Domaine du Pegau maintains a classic style of wine-making, the wines not only age superbly, but they have a certain freshness and very good ability to drink, unlike the more modern, fat and heady Chateauneuf’s.

I already tasted a couple of times the 2004 Cuvee Reservee of Domaine du Pegau and always found it just a fabulous wine. Last night’s vertical consisted of 4 different vintages: 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. All four vintages were different in Chateauneuf du pape and the wines perfectly reflect those characteristics.

– 2004 was a bit cooler and produced more mineral wines with great freshness;

– 2005 was superb – just as in the rest of France, the wines have structure and will age long;

– 2006 a good vintage, but shadowed by the quality of 2005;

– 2007 a superb vintage in Chateauneuf du pape and generally the Rhone valley – unlike the rest of France, producing wines with perfectly ripe tannins, hedonistic fruit and amazing accessibility already.

After tasting the four wines, I can make the following remarks:

– 2004 and 2005 have the most similarities: fine grained tannins, great freshness and a touch more mineral character.

– both 2006 and 2007 have assertive and more pronounced tannins, bigger and riper fruit, while the texture shows more concentration on the palate.

My absolute favorite was 2004 followed by 2007, 2005 and 2006 in this order.

2004 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

Saturated red ruby color. Superb nose, well developed, intense and very expressive, combining fresh red fruits with game, meat, graphite and spices. Full bodied, with a killer acidity, this wine has the minerality and the character of a Northern Rhone Syrah (reminded me of 2006 Thierry Allemand Reynard Cornas: odd but lovely !), savoury, long and really delicious. Long finish, with great freshness and some lovely thyme and sage flavors. This is fully accessible now and just a pleasure to drink. Will continue to age well also. 14% alc. (94+/100)

2005 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

This wine was uncorked early in the morning, then re-corked and placed in the fridge for a slow oxygenation until 18:30 when we drank it. Even in these conditions, the wine still seems to hide more secrets.

Same saturated ruby red color. Well developed and intense nose, but not having the same palette of aromatics as 2004. It shows great fresh red fruit, spices and probably less meaty, but still resembles the 2004. Full bodied, with fine grained tannins and more structured in the mouth, the wine combines red berry fruits, spices, thyme, a touch of graphite and licorice with a lively acidity and welcoming freshness. Long finish, but not as convincing as 2004. 14% alc. (92-93/100)

2006 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

Darker red color. It is the only wine that shows very ripe, almost prunes like aromas. This can be a bit tiring compared to the other wines. Rich, very ripe fruit, licorice, prunes and spicy aromas on the nose. Full bodied, it seems more concentrated and very spicy on the palate compared to ’04 and ’05, assertive and bigger tannins in the mouth, and a medium plus long spicy finish. A bigger wine, even though the alcohol stays at the same 14%. (91-92/100)

2007 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reservee Chateauneuf du pape

Dark red-ruby color. Well developed and expressive nose, it exhibits a beautiful definition of red fruit. Spices, chocolate, herbs and licorice gradually build on the nose . Full bodied, assertive, ripe and sweet tannins, balanced, combining freshness and concentration, this wine shows vibrant fruit, savoury spices and a lush palate. Long, racy and spicy finish. Up to an extent, this is 2004 packed with more fruit and more muscle. Still a baby but it will develop very well in time. 14% alc. (94-95/100)

It was certainly a compelling tasting experience from a producer that continues to make stunning, classical Chateauneuf du pape wines. Bring me more please.

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