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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Richards Walford portfolio tasting@The Baltic

Noël Pinguet, Domaine Huet

Today there was one of those must attend tastings – Richards Walford at the Baltic Restaurant, London SE1. Although the Baltic is a good venue with excellent food, Richards W has to an extent become a victim of their success as the tasting area soon became quite cramped.

I concentrated on the smallish selection of Loires on show dominated by recent and some older vintages from Domaine Huet. Noël Pinguet was there as well as Anthony and Evelyn Hwang, who were also presenting wines from their Kiráyudvar estate in Tarcal, Tokaji.

First four other Loires with the crisp, lemony and quite austere 2007 Touraine Sauvignon from Jean-Christophe Manard of Mareuil–sur-Cher. Next another Sauvignon this time the 2007 Reuilly from Denis Jamain, this was again crisp and lemony but with more weight than the Mandard. Unfortunately Jamain's delicious 2007 Pinot Noir wasn't in the tasting. Then changing to Chenin Blanc with the 2007 Saumur Blanc from Frédéric Mabileau. Although this has some weight, it is considerably leaner and less expressive than it was before bottling. There is certainly potential there but it either needs time or out into a carafe for an hour or two before serving. Also on show was Frédéric’s vibrant 2007 Les Rouillères, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.

Then nine wines from Domaine that included several that I had tasted on 12th January. Confirmation that though the 2007 Le Mont sec is lovely, the powerful 2007 Clos de Bourg sec is even better with great mineral purity. The 2007 Le Mont demi-sec again showed well and was partnered with the golden hued 2000 Le Mont demi-sec showing greater complexity from its time in bottle gaining a long lasting, dry honey flavour that carries on into the quite austere finish.

Following Noël’s instruction I tasted the 1986 Le Clos du Bourg moelleux before the richer 2005. The 1986 has 32 gms of residual sugar – “a moelleux before global warming,” commented Noël. The 1986 has a typically pure and austere Huet finish preceded by a honeyed nose and a beeswax and mineral palate. Then the still very youthful, rich and honeyed 2005 Le Mont moelleux – only hinting at the complexity to come with age.

The 2002 Le Clos du Bourg moelleux 1er tri (58 gms rs) with its sweet honeyed fruit with hints of lychee, wonderful balance and length shows again what a marvelous vintage 2002 is. The hope, of course, is that 2008 will turn out equally well as September and October resembled 2002. The 1993 Le Haut Lieu moelleux 1er tri completed the line up. It was just as fascinating as it was when I tasted it with Jean-Bernard.“

Antony and Evelyn Hwang: Kiráyudvar estate and Domaine Huet

While Noël poured Vouvray, Anthony and Evelyn Hwang poured their Tokaji starting with the widely contrasting secs from 2005 and 2006. The 2005 slightly oxidative in style giving additional complexity, some beeswax and minerality, while the 2006 was more opulent, richer and less mineral. From the five other Tokajis on taste – a demi-sec and four sweet – the last two (2002 Aszù 6 Puttonyos and 2002 Aszù Lapis) really stood out. Here the richness in sugar (197 gms rs and 235 gms rs) is balanced by high acidity (9.5 and 9.2) giving the wines a thrilling tension. Perhaps inevitably this quality comes at a price – £56.49 and £84.49 a bottle respectively.

Richard Kelley MW

Also had time to catch up with Richard Kelley MW, who has nearly finished writing up his recent researches in Jasnières and the Coteaux du Vendômois. They should appear on his site soon. Richard has just become one of the world’s leading authorities on Châteaumeillant as well as exploring the Côte Roannaise.

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