Treat for petroleum lovers, Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland 2009

Such a beautiful Riesling from Weingut Leitz in Rheingau, Germany! Made of grapes from younger vines, grown at premium site Berg Rottland in Rüdesheim. In the hands of this renowned VDP grower and Riesling expert turned into a delicious wine.

Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland 2009

2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, Weingut Leitz
Lovely nose with petroleum,  citrus and minerality. On the palate, very good acidity lingered with the aromas found in the nose. Very good length with palate filling fresh fruitiness.
Great backbone and such a treat for us petroleum lovers. Delicious!

A family, a place, a passion. The Shafer Vineyard in Napa.

It’s not that often, surfing into a wine producers website, you find the registered trademark logo next to the names of the wines. You do at Shafer Vineyards’. And if you are lucky to have a bottle of one of their wines, for example the One Point Five, the Relentness or the iconic Hillside Select, you will find the ® on the label too. Reading Doug Shafer’s “A Vineyard in Napa” makes you understand why.

The book came into my hands some months ago, borrowed from an enthusiastic friend. “You get such a good feeling reading it,” he said. “The enthusiasm, the early years and all those interesting details. Did you know there were companies specialised on buying used bottles from the wineries, cleaning them and selling again?”

Doug Shafer, A Vineyard in Napa“Shafer had to use one of those back in the mid ’80s when a hydrogen-sulphide problem forced them to unscrew all bottles by hand to get the wine back into tanks, fixing and filtering before going back into bottle.”

Yes, I did get a good feeling. Reading it first before Christmas, and now, “thanks to” a week in the sickbed, once more. (Guess I have to return the book now. Thanks P for the loan!)

I love these kind of stories. That is why George Taber’s “The Paris Judgment” is one of my favourites, and now this book continues the California wine story. While Taber puts a big focus on the time up till the 1973 event and a bit past it, Shafer’s story overlaps as it really starts off in January 1973 when John Shafer, Doug’s father, puts his family in their car and drives from Chicago to the newly bought vineyard in what is now the Stags Leap District, California.

Doug was 17 then, and did not have a clue of what was waiting him. Did not know that his father’s obsessive search for a hillside vineyard, would lead the family to a place so suited for Cabernet Sauvignon that their Hillside Select now is considered to be one of the California iconic wines. Something of course not possible without a constant quest for quality from the Shafer family, their employees and not least winemaker Elias Fernandez, who has been on the Shafer ship since 1984. Passion.

The book takes us through the ups and downs of their enterprise as well as the valley’s, spiced with many anecdotes. For example how a film star funeral on the estate gave name to one of the plots and how the troubles establishing another, including exploding sprinkler heads on a completely unnecessary overhead sprinkler system, made Mom Bett call it “John’s Folly”.

We also learn how lack of picking crew contributed to the greatness of John Shafer’s very first Hillside Select, the 1978, which by the way became the long time benchmark as it was not until the 1991 that Doug and Elias thought they made a comparable vintage. Other stories tell about process to create the Stags Leap District AVA, the phylloxera return and its effect in the ’90s and how Amigo Bob advised them during the first steps into sustainable growing.

I like the stories, I like the personal voice, and, I do like to follow the Shafer’s and the development of their vineyards, winery and practices. Of course it is subjective, the story is from Doug Shafer’s perspective and gives a flavour of the Napa history from the ’70s up till now. However, I like this genre of the wine literature, and in this one especially the personal touch and the heartwarming enthusiasm. A warm reading recommendation for this winery and Napa chronicle.

Hey, I hear the attentive reader shout, “what about the registered trademark?” Well, this is how Doug describes the importance of the brand and I think this quote is a good example of the passion expressed throughout the book.

“Your brand is your promise to the consumer. It’s your reputation. It’s the encapsulation of your core values. At a winery of our size it’s not just a logo. It’s those long hours I spent in the early ’80s trying to make wine and learn the art of winemaking at the same time. It’s the weeks Dad spent in airports and rental cars to sell our wine. Our brand is the hundreds of times Dad, Elias, and I have gotten up in freezing, predawn hours to taste grapes in the vineyard. It’s the all-nighters. It’s the vintages that wouldn’t let us sleep. It’s the days I missed with my family because of a sales schedule that had me in New York or London or Hamburg or on a cruise ship in icy rain. When someone attempts to steal our brand it’s personal, as though some part of my family has been assaulted.” (p. 148)

Doug Shafer, A Vineyard in Napa

And Doug, if I ever got the opportunity to come to California and Napa, I would love to visit Shafer Vineyards. Even if this is one of those probably thousands of  wine blogs you’ve never hear of, I think I fall into the category you describe as the passionate and diligent who do this for the love of wine. I would gladly book me into one of the “max ten people visit tastings” and enjoy myself. And, when coming, guess I don’t have to go up and down Silverado Trail to find the entrance to the Shafer driveway as you did the very first night driving home from basketball practice in St. Helena back in 1973. Forty years later it is another Napa, an established spot of fine wine making on our globe.

“A Vineyard in Napa” by Doug Shafer with Andy Demsky;
Foreword by Danny Meyer. (2012) University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. ISBN 978-0-520-27236-1

Damned good Sancerre, kimmeridge and flint

Kimmeridge and stainless steel. Flint and oak. The mental picture of Sancerre is mostly made of black currant leaves aromas. It is so much more. Different soils, different vinification, different impressions on nose and palate. We have tasted two diametrically different Sancerres from our visit to  Henri Bourgeois. Two wines that melted our hearts (again).MontDamnePlockning

The damned slope in Chavignol, Les Monts Damnés, brings by the hands of Henri Bourgeois a damned good wine. We thought the 2007 was on top at our Kimmeridge  at Bourgeois' wineryvisit in October 2013, but apparently we were not quite right. When we now pull the cork from a bottle brought back home, it is probably even more delicious with its chalky minerality.

Les Monts Damnés is kimmeridge. A tremendously steep slope, known since medevial time to give beautiful wines. Bourgeois raises the wine, made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, on stainless steel tanks.

Henri Bourgeois, La Côte des Monts Damnés 2007 Sancerre

La Côte des Monts Damnés 2007
Deep golden yellow colour. Big developed to mature nose. First some tropical aromas and light floral notes, then the citrus, minerality and school chalk. Medium bodied, dry with fresh marked acidity and round palate filling rich feeling. The aftertaste is long and lovely: minerality, citrus, barely mature pineapple, complex with a light green vegetal touch.
Pure with beautiful structure. Exquisite!

Sancerre d’Antan provide us with a new set of notes. Sauvignon Blanc grapes from an old vineyard and smokey flint soil, silex in French.  d’Antan was fermented on old barrels (4-6 years), then a twelve month rest on the lees with battonage twice a week during October to March, thereafter just one. Only two rackings (at full moon!) during the year. Neither fined, nor filtered. d’Antan gave us back then the biggest wow factor. Now it is wow x 2.

Henri Bourgeois Sancerre-9461

Sancerre d’Antan 2008
Beautifully deep golden shimmering. Big and broad developed complex aromas with integrated creamy notes of oak combined with crispy gooseberries and discreet black current leaves together with a pinch of minerality. Medium bodied with razor sharp acidity, at the same time as the palate is filled by a round delectable feeling. The first attack gives citrus, apricot and mature fruit. In the middle crispy fresh green gooseberries and in the finish round elderberry lemonade and creamy oak. Long, long, long complex aftertaste with highlights of citrus, black current lemonade and creaminess.
Exquisite! Wow, wow!

This is something each wine lover should have a chance to experience. Explore Sancerre! There is so much more to find than just black currant and “cat’s pee on the gooseberry bush”!

Read more:
Link to Henri Bourgeois on the web.
In Swedish:
About our visit to Henri Bourgeois during harvest.

About Sancerre and the differents soils.
About the other pride of Chavignol, the most(?) delicious goat cheese, Crottin de Chavignol.

Henri Bourgeois Sancerre



A beverage for fairies, Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

Fairies dancing. White, light, as flowing veils in early summer morning. The image is developed on the retina directly. Trigger? The first sniff with our noses dipped into long, narrow champagne glasses. It is promising, this first acquaintance with Sophie Cossy.

Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

We have not met Sophie. Neither tasted any of Champagne Francis Cossy’s champagnes before. However, we have met Sophies fiancé, Cédric Moussé. He was a bit late to our appointment, an early October morning in 2013. We understand that the reason was to be found in the young, beautiful winemaker behind the Cossy label, Sophie.

The reason why we now, on Valentin’s day, hold a glass of Cossy Eclat in the hand is to be found in the purchase of a box from Swedish ChampagneHuset: Collection “Coup de foudre”.  Three bottles Moussé and three bottles Cossy. Primarily purchased for Moussé, which we already know is a delicious treat from the Pinot Meunier dominated vineyards of Vallée de la Marnes. Cossy became as a spice, which we were curious to explore. Coup de foudre is said to mean “love at first sight” or “as a bolt from the blue”. It is not a bolt from the blue that Cossy should be good, but we did not expect it to become love at first sip.

Sophie Cossy. Foto: Champagne F Cossy.
Sophie Cossy. Foto: Champagne F Cossy.

Champagne Francis Cossy is run by Sophie and her mother. The Cossy family has been growers in Champagne since 1764 and produced under their own label since the 50ies. Home to Cossy is the little village Jouy Les Reims in Montagne de Reims. It is just a bit south-west from Reims, where the grapes come from Premier Cru classified, organically managed vineyards. Sustainability and permanent improvement are on top of the agenda.

Champagne Cossy Cuvée Eclat Brut, Premier Cru
A blend of wines from vineyards in Jouy-les-Reims and Pargny-les-Reims. A third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Two years on the lees in bottle.

Champagne Cossy Eclat BrutLight yellow with small, fine bubbles. Fine, multifaceted elegant nose. Some toasty breadiness, white flowers, citrus, green apples and a touch of minerality. Mediumbodied with the fresh acidity peering out behind a palate filling, round impression. The aftertaste so very long, gripping the palate and filling it with flavours previously experienced in the nose. The minerality reminds of chalk and a tiny pinch of English butterscotch finds it way among fruit and floral notes. 

Delicious, fine, elegant. The French éclat means brilliance and yes, this is shimmering, and at the same time so multifaceted and full of charming character. A champagne for fairies!

Read more:
Link to Champagne F. Cossys webpage.

About our visit to Cédric Moussé and his impressing work to create a sustainable production and Blanc de noirs of top quality: Champagne Moussé Fils, Blanc de noirs expert in Cuisles.

Champagne Cossy Eclat Brut

Sherry charm by Gonzalez Byass

Just can’t get these beautiful Sherries out of my mind. What I think of is the study objects at the Sherry Master Class by Anders Öhman during the Sommeliers’ Days in Gothenburg.

All by Gonzalez Byass and a charming overview of different Sherry styles:

  • Tio Pepe Fino, light superdry, acetaldehyde.
  • Viña AB Amontillado, dry, tight, almonds and dried apricots.
  • Alfonso Oloroso Seco, dry, nutty, flamed almonds, marzipan, raisins, dried dates and butterscotch.
  • Leonor Palo Cortado, dry, with nuts, marzipan, raisins, mouthfilling glycerol.
  • Apostoles Palo Cortado Muy Viejo VORS, Palomino blended with 13% Pedro Ximenez for a little sweetness. Complex with dried Christmas fruits, orange chocolate, nougat. Superb!
  • Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy ViejoVORS. Palomino blended with 25% Pedro Ximenez. Sweet, thick, chops, dark chocolate, dried fruits, complex.
  • Nóe Pedro Ximenez VORS. Rich, concentrated, very sweet with dried fruits, figs, coffee and chocolate.

The last three are all Very Old Rare Special, which means they have been matured in barrel for at least 30 years. Additionally, approval from sensoric tasting is required before putting VORS on the label.

Master Class Sherry, Gonzalez Byass

A beautiful line up. Sherry charm.