Best chablis are exquisite food wines

January 9, 2012

Chablis comes in many shapes, sizes, flavors and aromas, but the best of them are exquisite food wines. The 2008 Domaine Moreau-Naudet Premier Cru La Forets was rated 92 by Burghound, Allen Meadows, a very reputable critic whose taste buds work for me. I just saw the wine on sale at $26, so I asked my local store to bring in a bottle. Fortunately they had some. Since all the 2008 Premier Cru Chablis were rated over 90, you will only need to search out your favorite producer to find quality. La Forets is a very pale, lovely yellow color with a slight green cast. It shows a chardonnay nose with peach and nectarine flavors, a chalky minerality that is so often found in the best Chablis, and a long finish.

An anomaly we often observe in this column is happening right under our California Cab-sniffing noses. Most will remember that the 2007 in Napa was off the scale. Those paying careful attention will note that 2008 is just slightly less. Wine Advocate rated the 2008 vintage for Napa 93 points. Wine Spectator rated the vintage 96 points!  As is often the case when this occurs, folks load up on the early vintage and eschew the latter or have no budget. Patience, in the case of Tapestry Reserve 2008 from BV, would have been a virtue indeed. Big-buck buckaroos would be well served to lay in a vertical from 2006-10 on release of 2010.

The 2008 Tapestry is a Bordeaux-style blend composed of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The nose is ripe plum and black cherry, which follow as flavors, riding balanced acidity and subtle tannins. Needs aeration to expose dusty effect, cedar and black licorice, a remarkable wine that you can drink now through 2020, but would greatly improve by next fall. Buy the 2008 under $38/bottle.

The Summers Cab 2009 from Calistoga, the Napa, just came on sale at $240/case. The 91 points by RP to the 2009 Summers Cab is the highest rating Parker has given a Napa Cab priced under $25 in quite a while. Inky purple-colored, 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it has  complex flavors of blueberry and  black currant accented  with cedar, damp earth and forest floor. Summers 2009 is rich and  intense with smooth tannins. Drink now through 2018.

Another 100 percent Cab at that tasting, Dunham Cellars 2005 IX, was a pleasing surprise. From inception, Dunham's Cabernets have been among the best in the AVA and have been numbered with Roman numerals. Eric Dunham's Cabernets were the first from Walla Walla to gain national attention for him as a brand-new producer, since the initial brouhaha generated by Leonetti and Woodward Canyon days. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon XI is deep crimson. A full bouquet of balsam,  graphite, violets, black currant,  blackberry and loam wafts to your olfactory center. On the palate, it is full-bodied, concentrated and layered with fine-grained tannin for balance. Approaching drinkability 2013-20-plus. Jay Miller gave it 91 points on release.  It can be found now on sale under $30. I say 92 plus two price points.

Last, but far from least, I had a chance to sample a group of Nicolas Potel Grand Cru and Premier Cru Red Burgundies from the 2006-07 vintages. My favorite of the 10 samples available was the Chambertin. Medium ruby. Very complex bouquet of raspberry, smoked meat, flowers, minerals, herbs and peat bog. I was struck by the effect of terroir, which provided flavors of iron, graphite, pepper, flowers and minerals. There were sufficient rich tannins and concentration to support this complexity. A huge wine, needs aging, and not for those who enjoy the delicate side of burgundy; 2015-30. Expensive wine, but worth it to those who search out the best.

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