In my experience, vins clairs tastings are a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the wine before the bubbles, and to imagine their development over time; they are a unique foray into the magical kingdom of champagne.
In the world of marketing and sales, it is always good when you can keep things simple. Of course, this can be quite a challenge for an industry like the wine industry, where realities of place, grapes, vintages, styles, and terroir add up as so many variables to take into account—enough to confuse everyone but the aficionados.
Cognac, the village and the AOC, is a quiet pastoral place. The village bustles at times, but primarily as a business hub and central marketplace for a largely rural community and only secondarily, it seems, as the world center for a unique iconic style of spirit.
A true low-alcohol Bourgogne for half the price of a tooth-staining California pinot, this shows true balance and minerality. Strawberries, some raspberries, and damp black earth shoveled over hot coals show on the nose. On the palate the fruit is more muted, hinting at a dumb phase calling for a couple of years in the cellar. Raspberries and strawberries, in that order, still show, but they have equal billing with smoky earth and leafy spices, sage and marjoram. The taste of fresh-licked river stone comes out with bright acids and cranberry on the finish. There is a lot of complexity here, particularly for the price, and it should reward patience in the cellar. Drink with pork loin. Recommended. DH
A very moderately priced Bordeaux, particularly for one from the “Vintage of the Century.” It is also still rather young, evidenced by how much better it showed on the second night. The nose shows blackcurrant, cedar, and tobacco leaf. The taste on the palate is far richer than the aromas on the nose. It leads with blackcurrant, cedar, and mocha, with tart cherries, even a touch of cranberry, and dark chocolate, all showing on the mid-palate. Clearly an old-world wine, high acids and dusty tannins to match offer a food-paring wine, rather than a snack in a glass. Drink with a rib-eye or a great burger. Recommended. DH