After the white wines, now on to the reds of our Paris blind tasting:
2009 Crozes-Hermitage Dard & Ribo – Blackish color with purple hue. Nose appears smoky with tar notes over black fruits and also shows beautiful violet aromas – there’s a certain refinement and this yells “Syrah” from the first second. On the palate, violets galore within a good structure of fine-grained, powdery tannins. On day 2 tannins picked up and signaled that the wine has a couple of years to go, but it’s still nice to drink now. Also, a strong acidity counters the structure and adds juiciness to the fruit. Finish is medium long, a solid Northern Rhône Syrah with the typical expression of the grape you’d expect from that region. Also, it is the lighter and the more refined one of the 3 Southern reds we were to drink that night.
2010 VdF Bottle Neck Léonine ( by Stéphane Morin) – The second Syrah-based bottle of the night, one could tell from the subtle violet beam contained in the nose. But this one’s blended with Grenache which maybe explains the intensity of black fruit aromas, more so than the Crozes. There’s also a tiny glue note but it would disappear after a while. On the palate the wine appears dense, yet soft and gouléyant and with powder-like tannins. A certain natural wine feel comes through with some funk-tones, in a positive way. Also a good freshness through the acidity pleases the palate and the finish is long. All in all a voluptuous and elegant wine from the Roussillon and at around 10 Euro a wonderful bargain.
2006 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard “Historic Collection”, Au Bon Climat– Dark red color with a lighter hue to the side of the glass. Intense nose of red berries, but also with other elements that I couldn’t define. Let’s say there’s a certain depth. There are also some barrel aromatics translating through slight coconut-like notes, in a good way. On the palate the wine shows berries and spice, it appears light and at the same time has a certain alcoholic strength. There’s a nice, juicy acidity, not necessarily in an elegant way but definitely fulfilling its role. I enjoyed this wine very much, and I also chose it as a nightcap. Its Juiciness is soothing and it doesn’t at all fit into the cliché of big bold New World Pinot: it has a quite unique personality mixing intensity, freshness and depth in a very new way. On the other hand, at nearly 40 Euro, it is not made for everyday pleasure, although it somehow tastes like the high-end every day pleasure you’d wanna have. I hope you get that last sentence the way I mean it….
2007 Maroc Syrah Tandem, Domaine des Ouled Thaleb, Alain Graillot – There’s definitely some Syrah in this one, as it is showing a floral character within black fruits, but I also sense some caramel in the nose. On the palate I am first struck by a lack of acidity which makes the wine appear somewhat flat. Also, there’s a clear yoghurt-aspect in it which doesn’t quite add elegance, rather “softness”, at best. On the positive side, some spice notes are to be perceived. It is the most disappointing wine on the actual blind-tasting day, but I must add that it showed much better on day 2 and 3, losing a little of that lactic character and appearing more round and balanced, with pleasant fruit. By the way, this is not my first odd experience with this Marocan Syrah by Northern Rhône producer Alain Graillot: in a Syrah blind tasting last year it showed some weird rubber notes.
2010 Pinot Noir Cuvée Julien, Côtes du Jura, Jean François Ganevat – Light ruby red in color. A captivating nose of bright and delicate red fruit with sour cherries and raspberries: intense, bright, yet refined. You’d directly think of these tiny forest raspberries instead of plump supermarket berries in a plastic basin. On the palate, there’s a slight tannic grip behind the same bright raspberries and sour cherries picture. Then, a beautifully intense acidity adds freshness and juice to the wine, inspires life to those delicate berries. What a fresh and fulfilling elixir. Didier is a Jura-patriot and wines such as this one prove his point. Actually I think anyone should try a Pinot from the Jura and experience its singular character, it’s like no other Pinot.
The red wine part of the blind tasting had a few bottles that I enjoyed much and thus it’s rather hard to pick a clear winner. I’d definitely point out the 2 Pinots, the ABC and the Ganevat, as my favorites. Then, I also very much enjoyed the 2 French Syrahs, with a slight preference for the Crozes and its “tannic lightness”. Thanks again Mizuki an Didier for having me in Paris, I hope for a next blind tasting soon.