Saturday, April 28, 2012

Elegant Burgundies of Maison Lou Dumont

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Maison Lou Dumont. Curious name for a Burgundy negoce based in Gevrey. Headed by Koji Nakada, a former Tokyo somm, and his Korean wife, Jae Hwa Park. Both studied at CFPPA in Beaune. They established Lou Dumont—Lou is their goddaughter, charming and with much character, and Dumont or “from the mountains” refers to where Koji and Jae Hwa grew up—in 2000.

Maison Lou Dumont’s range of 2009 Burgundies are some of the most elegant and firmest wines that I’ve tasted from this vintage. Closer to 2008 or 2010 in character. The style of the wines speaks of Koji’s natural and minimal winemaking approach. He doesn’t overwork the wines, doing little pump overs and punch downs and only vinifies with native yeasts. The wines are expressive and terroir-driven.

Lou Dumont first attracted attention several years ago when their 2003 Meursault was highlighted in the popular wine anime Kami no Shizuku or “Drops of God”. Since then their Burgundies have become a sensation among Burgundy fans in Japan and the UK but have never reached the US until now. Vineyard Gate is one of the first to sell these wines in the US.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Profundity From A Bottle

Over a hundred years ago in 1911 the RMS Titanic was completed and launched. Pancho Villa led the successful uprising during the Mexican Revolution. Sun Yat-sen was elected president of the newly founded Republic of China. The Encyclopaedia Britannica became an American publication. The first non-stop flight between London and Paris was made. While under US colonial rule, the University of the Philippines established the College of Law, the first English language law school in Asia.

And so amidst these interesting world events the 1911 Château Capbern-Gasqueton was born. Capbern is an ancient château like many in St. Estephe, which was apparently a haven for aristocrats. It has been with the Gasqueton family even before the French Revolution, well before they acquired their more famous classed growth estate, Calon-Segur, in 1894, as well as du Tertre in Margaux. I'm sure this makes Capbern one of the longest owned estates by the same ownership in Bordeaux, spanning over ten generations of Gasquetons.

Capbern's vineyards adjoin Calon-Segur on one portion and Château Meyney on another. The cepages back in 1911 consisted mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, most likely at least 65% (as in neighboring Calon and Meyney) and the rest 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. In more modern times the Merlot increased to about 35%. At any rate, Capbern is obviously situated on an illustrious site.

Two days ago I helped polish off  a pristine bottle of 1911 Château Capbern-Gasqueton from an impeccable cellar.  The experience was monumental, very pleasurable, and humbling. The bottle's fill was up to the neck and the label clean and fully intact. For something as old as the Titanic it looked remarkably fresh.

Whether it's despite or because of being subjected to Ben's unmerciful decanting method (back and forth between two vessels 8 or 9 times) the liquid that came out of the bottle was so perfectly relaxed and cool. After being waken up from a hundred years of sleep it was ready to rock, and it knocked our socks off!

The nose was pure and clean, there was no old bottle earthy or medicinal funk. A youthful oak caramel is immediately discernible amidst the cassis, mineral, blood, and spice. The color has held well, a deep ruby in the center with a slight fading towards the edge. I found its rich, soft, fleshy very Cabernet flavors irresistible--loaded with acidity, and with fine tannins noticeable on the finish. It has the Cabernet elegance of Lafite.

 I love that it was not a complicated wine to drink. It was juicy, smooth, and deliciously balanced. I was almost chugging the wine unconsciously while sharing notes with the group. Soon I helped myself to another precious pour, as if it's everyday wine--and this is perhaps the best I can say about a wine that's beyond words to describe. I very much enjoyed the moment. The Dalai Lama would approve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Loud and Fast Wins... Oh Yeah?!

Last night watching the reality faux singing competiton "The Voice" I can't help noticing the parallels with wine scoring. Loud, fast rocker Juliet Simms singing a shrieking "Roxanne" got a huge thumbs up from the judges. While relaxed, mellower acts performed by Tony Lucca ("Your Eyes") and Mathai ("Ordinary People") were passed over.

As in wine scoring--another competitive sport--explosive, melisma-heavy diva shrieking is lauded by the expert judges. But loungy, restrained, natural renditions get the ho-hum.

However, in the end we get to vote what we like, no one needs to follow what judges say.