Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Regular Versus Reserve: WBW #32

The folks over at the Wine Cask Blog are hosting this month's edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the online tasting event created by Lenn at Lenndevours. The theme this month is regular versus reserve, or is reserve worth the difference? An interesting theme, and one that provides us with a great excuse to open more than one bottle of wine at once on a regular old Tuesday night!

I hunted around a bit, trying to find the sister wine to one I already had, or instead looking for a pair of wines from the same vintage, one labeled reserve. In the end I settled on an experiment that interested me from the Loire Valley - Bernard Baudry's 2004 wines.

Bernard Baudry and his son Mattieu produce four red wines a year, sometimes a fifth and a sixth, depending on the vintage. Les Granges is the "entry level" wine, meant for drinking young. It comes from young vines and gravelly soil and costs about $14. I have enjoyed this wine very much in recent years, although the 2005, supposedly a great year in the Loire Valley, is not yet drinking well in my opinion.

Cuvee Domaine is a serious step up for only a few bucks, about $15. Made from 30-35 year old vines on gravel and clay soil, this wine has more depth, and the structure to improve for several years. The 2002 was just excellent, and the last time I tasted the 2003 I was really impressed. I have one bottle left and I'm trying to hold onto it for a little while.

Les Grezeaux is made from 40-60 year old vines, the oldest of the estate, in gravelly soil with clay and limestone. This wine is often aged in wood, supporting its ability to age for some time and adding tannic structure. This wine is a real step up in price at about $25.

La Croix Boissee is the top cuvee of the Domaine, made from 25-30 year old vines that are kept to low yields in chalk and clay soils. This wine can improve for many years in the cellar. I tasted a few older vintages when I visited the Domaine and a 10 year old wine tasted young and fresh. This wine costs about $30, sometimes more depending on the vintage.

It's too early to pop either the 04 Croix Boissee, so I decided to see how the 2004 Cuvee Domaine (CD) would fare against the 2004 Les Grezeaux (LG), although to be fair, it's probably too soon for this wine also. A 75% step up in price - what would that translate to?

CD is less extracted, a more transparent ruby color. It is immediately vegetal on the nose, unpleasantly so. Smells like a fresh green pepper covered in soil. LG is very mineral on the nose, lots of iron and pencil lead. Neither are expressing any fruit aromas, sadly. Both seem tightly wound and maybe a little green. Hopefully some time in the decanter will help.

So Deetrane and I bagged them and decanted for over an hour, trying for unbiased notes later on with dinner. Didn't matter in the end, as neither wine improved very much. What happened here? BrooklynLady and I usually love Baudry's wines, but these have little if any fruit character, the tannins are rustic and green, and the palate is dominated by vegetables and varying degrees of mineral.

CD is more vegetal, and has a thinner mouth feel. At 12.5%, it's lower in alcohol than the 13% LG, yet has a hotter nose. Almost three hours later LG is showing some faint plums, and is clearly the better wine. Is it 75% better? I don't know, but it's worth an extra $10 to me. That said, I cannot recommend either of these wines, in all honestly. They suffer from the vegetal under ripe issues that can plague the Loire Valley in some vintages. I have seen so much better from this Domaine, and so I instead recommend waiting for the 05s. Maybe I will chill the bottles and see if that helps...

Thanks again to the Wine Cask Blog folks for choosing this theme and for hosting WBW #32.

6 comments:

Joe said...

hmm - a double non-recommendation?! Thanks, will try to visit Chambers tomorrow. Cheers!

Andrew said...

I know very little about Loire wines. Looking back, what vintages is supposed to be good beside 05?

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Joe,
I know, and I didn't mean to be harsh, it's just that the wines were not at Baudry's usual level of quality. Bad weather at their estate in 04? who knows. I don't usually write about wine I don't like, but when the producer is some one I go back to year after year, there might not be a way to avoid it.

2002 is considered to be a very good vintage in the Loire Andrew, and before that there were a series of decent but not great vintages, some better for red, others better for white. The reds are possibly a bit more fragile, as they become vegetal when under-ripe. If you come across anything from 02 it's probably worth a taste. Whites in 04 are quite goo, in my opinion. 03 seems to be better than 04 for reds so far, but maybe the 04 reds just need more time...experiment and see wht you think.

Joe said...

Don't worry about being harsh - bad vintages happen. Missed the Chambers St. once again (short on time), but I did make the detour through the Burgundy Wine Co. again - 2x 2003 M. Magnien Gevrey Chambertin. Cheers!

Brooklynguy said...

Joe - you really need to restructure your NYC planning to include Chambers Street next time. Let me help you, for goodness sake! I will help you do your calendar or something next time. You in NYC missing Chambers Street is like going to a steakhouse and ordering fish. I want to help you man, let me intervene...

Joe said...

What's wrong with seafood? I have to watch the cholesterol, you know...:) I will absolutely, positively, 100%, not miss Chambers next time...