Part Two of my tasting at the MDVS event staged at Geneva’s newly restored Hôtel Beau-Rivage focuses on red wine. Once again I did not taste everything but can recommend these as being among the best wines of the day.
Cabernet and Blends
Domaine Grand’Cour (Satigny, Geneva): This ambitious winery draws a lot of inspiration from Bordeaux: the grapes, the regimen and the style. While Geneva is not St. Emilion by a longshot there is a lot to like about Jean-Pierre Pellegrin’s efforts with cabernet franc. He has proven that the variety does well here although wines from this AOC can be overwhelmed by new oak. Perhaps his oak regimen fits best with hot temperature years. I don’t think it’s an accident that the 2003 vintage did very well in this tasting. Perhaps we can look ahead and predict that the hot-vintage 2015 will also play to the house-style. The blend typically calls for 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grand’Cour Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon, Geneva
2012: Solid ruby/garnet color to the rim. Dark berry nose with new oak vanilla. Mulberry and oak flavor that is a touch lean with slightly too much fuzzy tannin. Time may heal the minor shortcomings on this day.
2009: Solid, healthy blue/black color. Attractively ripe, roasted blackberry nose with oak a bit too dominant. Marriage of roasted black fruit and oak remains intact on the palate. Finishes chamois textured and long. Very good.
2006: An opaque blue/black color once again. This shows a bit of oxidation and decay on the nose. Otherwise stewed black fruit and green vegetative (stems) aroma. Palate is fat and sweet with some crumbling at the edges. I doubt this will improve from here.
2003: My notes indicate “this is it”. In other words the perfect synthesis of what came before. The same blue/black color with a little brick highlight concession to age. Signature roasted mulberry nose with beautifully integrated oak. Everything is in balance. Palate is sweet and saturated with creamy black fruit flavors. Finishes a touch acidic but really a very nice wine.
Weinbau Ottiger (Kastanienbaum, Luzern): Hard by the shore of the Lac des Quatre-Cantons (Lake Lucerne) this property, also known as Weingut Rosenau, was purchased and renamed by Toni Ottiger in 1996.
Pinot Noir, “B” Rosenau, Luzern
2014: Solid ruby color to the rim. Complex nose of cherry, herbs, black tea and leather. Palate is sweet with cherry pit concentration and flavors of fresh green herbs and red fruit. The finish is medium length and finishes with slightly dusty tannins. Very nice and will develop.
2013: Ruby color with some brick at the edges. This is spicier with red fruit and just a touch of green vegetation (stems). Flavors include cherry, cola spice and some stem-like bitterness. Perhaps needs time to resolve the green issues but overall a nicely rendered pinot noir.
Weingut Pircher (Eglisau, Zürich): A small family winery located just north of Zurich. This pinot noir exhibits incredible consistency from vintage to vintage benefiting from 50 year-old vines planted on a steep hillside. This is aged in barrique for 18 months.
Pinot Noir, Stadtberg Eglisau, Zürich
2013: Solid ruby to the rim. A very pretty nose of red fruit, sweet spices and a hint of oak. The palate is a bit chunky at this point but exhibits stone fruit (cherry) concentration, dried herbs and well managed tannin. It will benefit from some age but is already delicious now.
2010: Ruby with auburn highlights. Fairly developed nose of cherry and berry bush with sweet spices. Nose is broad rather than focused. Palate is soft and sweet with cooked fruit and green herbs. There is a noticeable glycerin sheen. Finishes sweet and perfumed.
2007: Ruby with auburn highlights. This is à point and a nearly perfect Zürich pinot. Highly scented with spice, herbs, red fruit and oak in perfect balance. Medium-bodied with authoritative flavors of cherry liqueur, apricot skin and dried sage. Perfectly round and complete. No hard edges. Delicious.
2004: Ruby colored with brick highlights at the rim. No sign of decay on the nose but more of the same cherry fruit with sweet spices. Very round and complete palate with a lot of fruit saturation and sweetness. Very instructive to see the continuity from vintage to vintage and the pattern of development one can expect from current and future vintages. Drink this one now.
Baumann Weingut (Oberhallau, Schaffhausen): If Pircher is about pretty, delicately scented pinot, then Baumann is about the structured and assertive side of things. These wines show very little development from vintage to vintage and will require more extended aging. They are clean and well made if a bit stern.
Pinot Noir, “R”, Schaffhausen
2013: Solid ruby to the rim. Nose is vibrantly cherry with a “mentholated” new oak quality. The palate is distinctly herbal with black cherry fruit and stem induced tannins. The impression is of balance yet the bones are showing through which is no sin in a youthfully exuberant wine. This needs time.
2010: Transparent, youthful ruby in color. This is more structured along acid lines. The fruit is red but more of cranberry than cherry. The palate is sharp and linear with youthful, juicy acids and propped up red fruit flavors that are a touch on the thin side. More elegant than the 2013 but will it develop as nicely?
2007: Dark ruby in color. The nose still seems primary and undeveloped. Nose is of red fruit (cranberry) with a lot of verdant, green vegetation. Palate is bracing and youthfully acidic. This does not show much beyond its primary character yet, so maybe time will tell. Is there too much structure here?
Weingut Wolfer (Weinfelden, Thurgau): These pinots exhibit a nice saturation of fruit from vintage to vintage without surmaturité or over extraction. For me they are the most complete of the four Alémanique pinots I tasted. These each offer pretty aromas, current drinkability and the promise of future development. After 12 months in wood the wine is assembled in stainless steel tanks to rest before bottling.
Pinot Noir, “Grand Vin”, Thurgau:
2014: Solid ruby color to the rim. Lovely red fruit quality with sweet spices and an odd (unidentifiable) note from the wood (or perhaps stems). Palate is saturated with cherry fruit and a bit of mocha. Strange green flavor follows through from the nose. Not bad, just unusual. Overall, nice wine.
2013: Ruby color with some fading at the rim. Beautiful nose of red berries, coffee and vanilla. Palate is saturated and sweet with cherry/raspberry fruit, fresh herbs and sweet spice. There is a touch of weediness as well. I’m beginning to think there may be some stems in the fermentation. Can improve from here with age. Very nice.
2011: Ruby color and pale at the rim. The nose is all cherry and cola spice. Very lovely. The palate is again saturated and sweet with more herbs and less weeds. Stone-fruit concentration with flavors of cherry and apricot skin. Some grippy tannins promise continued evolution.
Anne-Catherine & Denis Mercier (Sierre, Valais): The genius of Mercier and Swiss winemakers in general is the acceptance that terroir trumps ambition. Over-extracted wines are virtually non-existent and the combination of fruit concentration and finesse makes for a happy marriage. Madeleine Mercier-Mottet is skilled at this balancing act. These syrahs display a glacial evolutionary trajectory and to me are very reminiscent of California winemaker Sean Thackrey’s Orion cuvée (a syrah-based wine) which likewise evolves methodically. There is great consistency here from vintage to vintage and in a fresher style than others from the region.
2013: Deep crimson with black notes. No reduction. On the nose lovely black fruit/red fruit balance and violets, violets, violets. Creamy figs, plums and mulberry with some new leather and gibiers. Seamless palate with all of the above and new oak creaminess (one third new oak used). 2013 was a very low-yielding harvest due to poor flowering in April. Great concentration within a modest frame.
2010: Solid garnet with black notes. Opaque. Very youthful and slightly closed-down nose. Again, no reduction which can be common with this variety. Mulberry and violet aroma that is a bit one-dimensional right now. No secondary characteristics showing as of yet. Palate is medium-bodied and brooding with a nicely worked extraction. Flavors are pure with a slightly gritty, creamy texture. Ripe black fruit flavors with oaky vanilla and black pepper. Just a baby.
2007: Solid crimson to the rim with a bit of transparency. Nose is of smoke, black fruit, violets and a feral character. Just beginning secondary phase. Palate is a bit loosened up with some mulberry, gamey and charcoal flavors. Finishes with some lingering violet perfume and soft oak. Some tannin but not too much. Really lovely.
2004: No visible sign of age. Solid garnet color. Fresh black fruit aroma with some gibiers and black pepper. Still not as developed as I expected. The palate is a touch stern but there is no denying the wealth of fruit and the structure to carry it forward. This is perhaps a touch more berry in flavor than the others. There is a lingering, perfumed finish to savor. Very good.
Simon Maye & Fils (St. Pierre-de-Clages, Valais): This highly regarded winery is a syrah specialist that emphasizes the savory and meaty notes of the variety. Syrah is their calling card but they also make a trio of fendants that are exemplary Valais interpretations.
Syrah, Chamoson “Vieilles Vignes”, Valais:
2013: Ruby color with a slightly watery rim. Pronounced herbal nose with hints of smoke and red berry freshness. Briary. Palate is medium-weight with crisp, bright red berry fruit. Finishes slightly meaty but still undeveloped and primary.
2010: Dark garnet color is nearly opaque. Excellent fruit crème aroma with candied violets. Palate is rich, sweet and stuffed with racy red fruit. There are some savory herbal notes to lend complexity. This wine is structured without obvious tannin. This has a lot of development ahead but is delicious now.
2007: Garnet in color and still youthful looking. Piercingly weedy, herbal nose with red candy beneath. Palate is medium-weight with a medicinal, herbal flavor profile. Finishes short with astringent acids. Not my favorite.
Benoît Dorsaz (Fully, Valais): The Syrah “Quintessence” is new to the MDVS portfolio. The house-style is somewhere between Mercier’s and Maye’s. The wines display a hint of green herbaceousness (stem contact during fermentation?) and more restrained visceral notes. Reduction seems to be less obvious. All in all a nice group of wines and a producer to watch.
Syrah, Fully “Quintessence”, Valais:
2013: Flat garnet in color. Clean berry (blackberry/raspberry) nose with no reduction. Berry patch notes. Palate is slightly green and weedy with a hint of bitterness. Berry fruit is palpable: sweet and cascading. Restrained ripeness is the keyword. Very nice.
2011: Opaque blue/black in color. Slightly herbaceous, leafy nose with lots of ripe berry lift. Palate is ripe and sweet with the ever present green streak that lends a bitter complexity. Berry and balsamic notes on the palate. Sweet and savory. Very nice.
2009: Garnet in color. Slightly less ripe nose than above with a pronounced walnut skin aroma. Simple aromas of cooked red fruit. Palate is rich, ripe and juicy with torrefied berry fruit. No tension. This is completely resolved and ready to go. Nice.