. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: October 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comte Liger Belair

In the ways of wine, it has been a good period lately - I guess the summer is over, so it is getting colder, and easier to open some cellar jewels. But before I get into that, I'd like to introduce Susan, a wonderful woman with whom I am glad to have shared some great time and obviously some of God's nectar with recently. Now, the wines - let's start with Comte Liger Belair Vosne Romanee. This micro-winery has a long history in Burgogne; the Liger-Belair family settled in Vosne when Louis Liger-Belair, a Napoleonic general, acquired the Chateau of Vosne in 1815. When the Comte Louis-Charles died, the family’s holdings covered more than sixty hectares principally in the Côte de Nuits, with ownership of some of France’s most prestigious appellations: the monopolies of La Romanée, La Tâche, La Grande Rue, a large portion of Malconsorts, parcels of Chaumes, Reignots, and Suchots in Vosne Romanée, Saint Georges and Vaucrains in Nuits St. Georges, Clos Vougeot and Cras in Vougeot, Chambolle, Morey, as well as Chambertin. In addition, they also held a domaine of fifteen hectares at Fleurie in Beaujolais. In 1933, because of the French inheritance laws and the will of most of Comte Liger's sons, the domaine was auction off entirely. In 2000, Louis Michel created his own ,buying back 1.5 hectares of vineyards in Vosne-Romanée La Colombière, Clos du Château, 1er Cru Les Chaumes. In 2002 he recovered another 1.6 hectares and today he mananages 8.7 hectares of vines in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits St. Georges, and Flagey Echezeaux. I first tried Liger wines at a Liz Willette tasting where I had the pleasure to meet Becky Wessman and her husband Russell. A small taste just gave an idea of what this wine can express, so after receiving few cases of both Vosnee Romanee and Nuits St. Georges 1er cru Les Cras, I shared the Vosnee Romanee 2006 with Piers. We open it at the store and drank it throughout the course of the evening (an hour and a half more or less) without food. These vines are 40 to 60 years old, planted in clay and limestone soil and merely 2600 bottles were labeled in 2006. I had the Nuits St. Georges a week later, this time at the store with Susan, and a decanter to help the wine along. The vines of this 1er cru are 70 years old, and they lay on fine clay soil that covers a limestone base. Fewer than 1600 bottles were produced in 2006.
Both wines were showing, although they were very young, a great complexity. Layers of flowers intersecting with mild wild strawberry scents were hitting the nose and the palate, firm and sweet tannins made for a long finish. The Les Cras was more focused and elegant, showing the age of the plants through a velvet texture with a touch of vanilla that disappeared after 20 minutes or so. Spicier and with great herbal complexity, this was probably the best 1er cru I have tried so far.

Buona Bevuta a Tutti

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Special Bottle

Every once in a while, an ordinary day can turn, just for a moment, into an extraordinary one. Picture this: a sunny and fresh Thursday afternoon during the Jewish holiday (a notoriously slow period for business), and the biggest economic crash in years - not many bottles were leaving the store, and I wasn't running around suggesting a white for sushi or a red for a gift. Although I can't be insensitive to what is happening in world right now, I actually like the fact that things are slowing down a bit, that I have time to think, and a reason (a very good one I will add) to read the signs and plan strategies for the future. Conclusively, I think New York, after the storm has passed, will be a better city. Sorry for the digression. - So this day, this slow and contemplative day, was dragging itself along aimlessly, when all of a sudden, a call from a blocked number on my cell started to flip things around. That call created an excuse to give a different meaning to an uneventful day. As it often happens, you don't create a special situation to open a special bottle, but it is the chance occurrence of that situation that will suggest what to open, and last night suggested that it was time to open a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon Rose` 1998.
A word or two about Billecart-Salmon: the maison was founded in 1818 by Francois and Elisabeth Billecart, and today the seventh generation of their family is working the estate that covers about 30 hectares of land and source grapes from 110 hectares of 35 single crus. The Cuvee Elisabeth was first bottled in 1988, is an even blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, vinified white. Some Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, vinified as red wine, is added to create the rose. I had never tried the '98, and my guest was the perfect fit for the task. We both put our noses in the glass and glanced at each other right after with a mixture of surprise and satisfied expressions on our faces then it was time for the palate to give an assessment. For a second the world disappeared around me and all I could see was the salmon color of the glass while I was about to ingest some of that nectar. A million bubbles started to gently tingle my mouth while several layers of fresh red berries, light violet and candied lemon skin were dancing between the top of throe and the back of the nose. Amazing!
The champagne was served at 9 Celsius degrees and I left the bottle in a bucket on top of the ice with just enough glass in contact with the ice to keep the temperature constant, drinking a Champagne like this one too cold is a sin. After I came back to earth, I felt like the first time you kiss somebody you care, I started to notice the firm acidity and other signs of youth, with time the flavors became more focused, it was incredible how powerful and yet elegant the wine was, like a beautiful, sexy and sophisticated lady...yes because a wine is not just about the flavors you fell but is mostly about the emotions you get from it, the little chill down the neck when the fine bubbles massages your palate, the time and space traveling while having it in your mouth, and the reminiscence of what it was in the finish tempting you for more until sadly you pick the bottle up and is empty. One thing tough if close my eyes now I can still taste it on my lips!!!
Buona Bevuta a Tutti