A dungeon natural wine tasting if ever there was one to be had…

On 29th of September each year we celebrate the day of our guardian Archangel, Michael.  Also know in some parts of the world as San Miguel, Michaèl, Saint Michael, Mikhaèl, Michahel, Mikha`il or Archangel Michael.

1998 Domaine Prieure RochWe usually mark the occasion here with a special wine, a Michaelmas dinner or with a wine tasting. This year, i went with the latter, and a group of us got together for an evening of ‘a natural wine dungeon tasting’.

The bigGea of the night was a much awaited, and well guarded bottle of 1998 Domaine Prieure Roch (DPR* that it can now be referred to, as not to be totally outdone by the other big hitter in the area, namely of course, DRC) so we kicked the ‘dungeon’ evening off with some super natural whites. Some produced Biodynamically and some made with the hands of the non interventionists. But, all very much come under the ‘natural’ wine label.

They were tasted in this order:

2003 Quincy Silice from Jacques Cousteau, sorry, I mean Jacques Sallé
A total SCUBA of a Sauvignon Blanc. This bottle showed an expressive, powerful and upright nose. With mineral, fruity and floral notes revealing a dense, balanced and very long finish in the mouth. Perfect acidity and texture offering us flavors of wild and generous Celery, with Fennel depth. Although still seeming quite young, this wine, showed us a harmony between complexity and finesse, and is still a very big and reserved Sauvignon Blanc. I would love more of this wine.

2004 En Barberon from Côtes du Jura is a 100% beautiful Chardonnay, made by, and for a bunch of Tissot Family. (what’s the time please?) A wonderful rich nose of toasted sesame, popcorn and barbecued white meats. Very very bone dry on the palate, and a must to go with oysters, for me that is.

2005 Domaine o Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, Savennières which is still, of course, produced by the non-dogmatic Nick Joly. Every time i open a bottle of vino Joly, I always kick myself a little for not having opened the bottle the day before. Brilliant, bright gold yellow. On the nose there is grapefruit minerality, oyster shells, mango and delicate floral notes. On the palate it is dense and complex without being intrusive. Relatively high but very well integrated acidity, some vineyard peach and elderberry. Long, powerful finish. Always needs more time. Wonderful!

Needless to say we are all very content with the start, and now onto the reds.

2003 La Stoppa, Macchiona from Emilia Romana is always going to tickle my one dimensional palate. It is very for me this wine, and always has been since I first went to the vineyard in 1992, to taste and buy rather too much of their 1990 vintage. It is a blend of Barbera and Bonarda harvested from 65 year old vines. Following a 30 day maceration on the skins, using only indigenous yeasts of course, the wine is aged for two years in large oak ‘botti’ and an additional two years in bottle before release. Always bottled unfiltered. Rich peasantry at it’s most noble.

2000 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Emidio Peppe. Wau! a real stinky pinky, this one, on the nose. Total Biodymanic madness on show here. The darkest of black cherries you can imagine, cigar ash, botanicals, a touch of red curry, and a bit of meatiness with a gentle topnote of autumn leaves.  And that is just the nose. In the mouth, deep bodied, complex and a bit too asphalty for me, and with soft tannins, good acidity and very good length and grip on the finish. I cannot say this an elegant wine but it does fit the bill for you BD purists out there.

2000 Château le Puy ‘Barthelemy’, is to be found in the lesser known Cotes de Francs hidden away somewhere in Bordeaux.
Garnet red. The nose is ripe and complex, developing fruity aromas of plum and raspberry with beautiful fresh, floral nuances. Fleshy and long plummy richness.

1998 Nuits St.Georges ‘Le Clos des Corvées’ , DPR. Enormous body and depth. Anything to come out of this stable is flagship, unfortunately at an ever increasing cost that makes we want to taste and drink all their wines whilst they are still just about in arms reach of being affordable. An endless feast of a Pinot Noir, that offers subtlety and complexity backed up with a firmness and length that makes one wish that there was always more of this wine available to drink, now!

And finally, and definitley not to be outdone by the rest of the reds. An all time favourate from the Bekaa valley.

1997 Château Musar (red of course) and as ever a wonderful, complex, blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan. Unfiltered, unexamined and untreated. It is still generous and warm and reminds me a bit of a dry, rich Christmas fruit cake.

I have tasted this wine many times and it never disappoints me. For the modern wine drinker maybe it is a little unusual, but the for the hardy quaffer, it is still a gem and will go on for many years to come. Let’s try it together again in 2027, if there is any left to be had.

“defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of our souls”, and see you at our next bugga bluddy wine tasting session, if you are still around that is!