Great Varietals...and the Rest

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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby David Glasser » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:58 am

Rahsaan wrote:More seriously, how many stellar world-class 100% grenache wines do you find in CDP? Everyone agrees that Bordeaux wine can be excellent but nobody is nominating petit verdot for world class grape status. Same thing for Champagne and pinot meunier, Cote Rotie and viognier, etc. (Admittedly the percentages are a little different).


How many stellar world-class 100% cabernet wines do you find in Bordeaux? OK, maybe you find them in California. As I said, I wont argue with those who want to disqualify Grenache because it is blended in C-du-P, but it is the dominant grape in many stellar world-class wines.

Rahsaan wrote:Still, I think grenache is similar to gamay, sauvignon blanc, mourvedre, barbera, and many other grapes in that certain people will like certain wines from certain producers and certain terroirs but they are not going to display the same heights as the greats.


Here we just have to agree to disagree. I may be in the minority, but based on my personal preferences, plenty of C-du-P display the same heights as the greats. They ARE the greats.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:11 am

Rahsaan wrote:Still, I think grenache is similar to gamay, sauvignon blanc, mourvedre, barbera, and many other grapes in that certain people will like certain wines from certain producers and certain terroirs but they are not going to display the same heights as the greats.


I have to agree with that. Grenache is good solid second tier material, making tons of garbage, but a lot of very good wine in southern France, Iberia and Australia.

And someone already caught me out on Nebbiolo, David - of course that should have been inmy original list of the first class.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Oswaldo Costa » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:43 am

Hi, Bill, as this thread stands, you are getting a lot of opinions, but if I understood your objective correctly, it might be better served by a poll, like the one we had recently had about favorite first growths. If you asked "what grapes do you consider to be of the first rank?" and then listed all the varietals in the thread (plus others, like Malbec, Dolcetto, etc.), you can tally the votes and come up with reasonably objective picture of what grapes people on this board consider to be of primary (e.g., first quartile), secondary (e.g., second quartile) and even tertiary (e.g., third quartile) importance. If, of course, enough members participate (30 should be enough to make it statistically meaningful).
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:59 am

David Glasser wrote:How many stellar world-class 100% cabernet wines do you find in Bordeaux?


I never argued that cabernet sauvignon was a world class grape :wink:

Actually, I think it is important to remember that this poll is about great grapes and not great wines. Sure, great wines can be made from a variety of grapes and a variety of terroirs, but the grapes that can stand alone in mono-cepage wines are the true great grapes. That might be a bit too precise and it does betray my personal biases, but..

Still, even with my personal biases, I think you'd get a lot more support for the nobility of cabernet sauvignon than the nobility of grenache. Like CdP in general, it's just too sweet.

...based on my personal preferences, plenty of C-du-P display the same heights as the greats. They ARE the greats.


I don't know. These wines have their fans and they are certainly very fun for the right mood. But they just seem too rich and not sufficiently refined to be called 'great'. Might as well be port :wink:

But again, that is my bias and might lead to another thread..
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:06 pm

Oswaldo Costa wrote:Hi, Bill, as this thread stands, you are getting a lot of opinions, but if I understood your objective correctly, it might be better served by a poll, like the one we had recently had about favorite first growths. ).


That might have been interesting too, Oswaldo, but I posted this not to try and unilaterally set up rigid classes, but just as a means to get people's thoughts on various grapes when they had to examine whether a particular one really consitently made top grade wines or not, and I thought that a poll might receive some votes without any follow up discussion.

We will never get an agreement from all, because tastes vary so much and one taster's ideal may be white Rhone, while others will be white Burg.

Fun to kick around just what a grape shou;d show to be a first class nominee. And second class isn't shabby - lots of wonderful wines made from them as well, just not the very best.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby David Creighton » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:32 pm

also, merlot to second rank. there are way too many really mediocre things from the right bank and arguably the really good ones are more the result of the blend and the very specific terroir. i've had good CS and CF from a number of places; but very few good merlot from any place.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:56 pm

David Creighton wrote:also, merlot to second rank..


That was my instinct as well.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:04 pm

Sure, there's tons of plonk from Merlot, RB and everywhere. But there's tons of plonk made from Cabernet Sauvignon (even in Medoc), Pinot Noir (even in Burgundy), Riesling (even in Mosel), and Chardonnay (again, even in Burgundy).

Some Right Bankers (Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac, VCC) get a lot of their character from Cab (mostly Franc, but some CS). But that still leaves wines that are clearly (to me) among the greats- Petrus,Conseillante, Evangile, Magdeleine, Clos l'Eglise, Troplong-Mondot& L'Eglise-Clinet. Opinions might vary as to the most modern- things like Valandraud, Clusiere, La Gomerie, Peby Faugeres, La Mondotte, Le Pin, Tertre Roteboeuf -but many consider them great. In Italy you have wines like Redigaffi or Massetto. In California lots love Paloma, Pride, Pahlmeyer; some impressive Merlot from WA too. Personally I couldn't see calling 2nd tier the grape that primarily comprises the '75 and '82 L'Evangile, the '70 or '90 Trotanoy, or the '82, '89, and '90 Magdelaine.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:26 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Sure, there's tons of plonk from Merlot, RB and everywhere. But there's tons of plonk made from Cabernet Sauvignon (even in Medoc), Pinot Noir (even in Burgundy), Riesling (even in Mosel), and Chardonnay (again, even in Burgundy).



Yeah, I don't think that just because a grape is used to produce a whole lot of insipid wine is a reason to discount it. The measure should be whether it also is used to consistently produce top flight wine, and I think Dale's example indicates that it does, not just in a few very good Bordeaux, but in enough that it should get the nod for being among the greats.

If asked whether I have derived more pleasure over the years from cab based Bordeaux than merlot based, I'd have to say yes, but that is at least partly attributable to something I expect I share with many of you - I have drunk much more left bank than right bank.

Pinot noir is another grape that has produced a lot of crap over the years, partly as it is one of the most challenging grapes from which to create a really good wine, but it wouldn't be threatened with demotion because of all the failures.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Mark Lipton » Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:41 am

I'm surprised that, with all the suggestions made to date, no one has put forth Melon de Bourgogne as a candidate for first class. Especially in light of Ollivier's Granite du Clisson, I think that the case can be made for its world class status.

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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Aug 31, 2008 8:57 am

Mark Lipton wrote:I'm surprised that, with all the suggestions made to date, no one has put forth Melon de Bourgogne as a candidate for first class. Especially in light of Ollivier's Granite du Clisson, I think that the case can be made for its world class status.)


I'd personally find the Pepiere Granite du Clisson a funny argument for greatness of the grape- one vintage released, no one has tasted with age, and my two tastes were pretty closed/inexpressive wines. Due to my general love of Ollivier's wines I put some away with fairly high hopes, but it wouldn't be my argument for greatness yet. That would be better served by Luneau-Papin's L d'Or or Pepiere's Briords. I'd certainly call those two great wines, but as I stated it's not really clear how many great wines it takes to make "1st tier." So these classifications will always be fuzzy.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Dave Erickson » Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:08 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
David Glasser wrote:I'd put Grenache in the first tier. There are plenty of C-du-P that I consider outstanding, unless you disqualify them based on blending.


Grenache is definitely a second tier grape. Why? Because it's not my favorite.. :D

More seriously, how many stellar world-class 100% grenache wines do you find in CDP?


Image

100% grenache. Any more questions? :mrgreen:
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby David Creighton » Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:16 pm

i'll stick with demoting merlot. if 'consistently producing top flight wines' is the measure - ok, maybe - then a list of 16 wines max hardly seals the deal. compared to the list of CS or CF - nothing.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:20 pm

David Creighton wrote:i'll stick with demoting merlot. if 'consistently producing top flight wines' is the measure - ok, maybe - then a list of 16 wines max hardly seals the deal. compared to the list of CS or CF - nothing.


Well, those 19 were off the top of my head (and personally I wouldn't consider some of those garagistes "great"). And as far as the Bordeaux I was trying to stick to ones that were probably enough Merlot to qualify as "varietal" Merlot, there are plenty of others that are 50-70% Merlot. I love Cab Franc, but I don't think I could come up with 19 CF dominant wines that I'd consider regularly great. Cheval Blanc is the clearest example, usually about 60% CF. Ausone and Lafleur are about 50/50 merlot/CF. Le Dome and La Confession are about 75% CF, but not great to my tastes.

I tend to really like Loire CF, from producers like Clos Rougeard, O Raffault, Jouguet, Filliatreau. They are fantastic values, but I can't say for my tastes I've ever had one that quite hits the heights of the '70 Trot or 75 Evangile. I like the Havens Bourriquot, but wouldn't call great. The CA CF I most often hear cited as great is the Pride, I found horrid.

All that said, I'm not suggesting "demoting" CF, just disagreeing that it is "better" than Merlot. If I had to list my all time great 25 reds, probably at least 5 would be mostly Merlot. Only '83 CB would be mostly CF. PN and CS would vie for top, followed by Merlot, Nebbiolo, and Syrah.

Besides, I'm a huge Chenin fan and definitely consider it a 1st tier wine. But I couldn't come up with near as many producers that I'd say made "great" wine- let's see: Huet, Foreau, Baumard, I guess Joly, maybe Chidaine and Pinon? Maybe Moulin Touchais? Certainly none I've encountered from South Africa or US. I'd still consider great grape.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:46 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Huet, Foreau, Baumard, I guess Joly, maybe Chidaine and Pinon? Maybe Moulin Touchais?


Pinon's problem is supposedly lack of access to the great terroir that those first 4 producers have. Chidaine now has some good sites so we'll see what he can do. But, IMHO Moulin Touchais is several levels below those other producers.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:48 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Image

100% grenache. Any more questions?


Yes. Aside from the Rayas exception, what else is going for grenache? Seems to me to fall neatly into the melon de bourgogne category along with Ollivier's Clisson. Both make excellent wines that generate devoted fans but in many respects those specific wines are more about the specific terroir and the specific producer than the grand elegance of the grape. Of course we don't drink categories, so in the end it may not matter very much..
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:03 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Dale Williams wrote:Huet, Foreau, Baumard, I guess Joly, maybe Chidaine and Pinon? Maybe Moulin Touchais?


Pinon's problem is supposedly lack of access to the great terroir that those first 4 producers have. Chidaine now has some good sites so we'll see what he can do. But, IMHO Moulin Touchais is several levels below those other producers.


I knew Pinon and Moulin Touchais were stretches, but was trying hard to come up with producers. I did forget Angelli, who has lots of fans. I've never had a Coulee de Serrant that really wowwed me, but will grant that many people think are great. So for great wines we have Huet and Foreau that virtually no one would argue with, Baumard and Joly that most people would agree are great, and maybe some people might call some Chidaine and Angelli great (I've had a couple older MTs that bordered on great imho, but accept that might be minority opinion).
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:55 am

Dale Williams wrote:some people might call some Chidaine and Angelli great (I've had a couple older MTs that bordered on great imho, but accept that might be minority opinion).


I'm no expert but I wouldn't necessarily put Angeli in the same category as Foreau, Huet, and Joly, which to me are the 3 grand chenin estates of the Loire. Baumard is different because they have some good sites and make some good wines but it's such a huge operation that I mostly prefer to ignore them and would rather drink Pinon or Angeli which may come from 'lesser' sites but seem to have more authenticity, character, and interest, for me. As far as winemaking, I really have no idea whether Marc Angeli is an inspired genius or not, but Joly (or more accurately Coulee de Serrant), Huet, and Foreau have owned the top vineyards and made world class wine for generations, so they seem to merit a class of their own if we're going to get down to 'rankings'.

But, as I said earlier, one doesn't drink rankings and there is all sorts of exciting stuff ahead, so who knows maybe we will discover some new vineyards and new winemakers that deserve to be elevated to that level over the next few decades. But, from what I know now, I don't think we would make that call yet.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby David Glasser » Mon Sep 01, 2008 10:21 am

Rahsaan wrote:Aside from the Rayas exception, what else is going for grenache? Seems to me to fall neatly into the melon de bourgogne category...


Rahsaan, I was willing to accept the "blending grapes excluded" argument, but with the above you have lost all credibility with me regarding your comments on Grenache. Guess I'll just have to chalk it up to your admitted dislike for the grape.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Rahsaan » Mon Sep 01, 2008 10:31 am

David Glasser wrote:you have lost all credibility with me regarding your comments on Grenache. Guess I'll just have to chalk it up to your admitted dislike for the grape.


I don't know that I 'dislike' grenache as I can definitely enjoy CdP or various other Rhone wines. But, they're not my favorites and they are not something I purchase regularly. I feel the same way about cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux but I am still capable of acknowledging that they achieve a 'greatness' that one is hard pressed to find in grenache or gamay (this despite the fact that I purchase and enjoy MUCH more gamay than Bordeaux).

That said, why such a harsh tone towards melon de bourgogne? It makes some pretty serious wines. Do you not admit the glory of the Granite de Clisson, Clos de Briords, or other wines mentioned in this thread?
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:14 am

I am quite a carignan buff and had the chance the other day to taste one from Santadi, the `03 Shardana. Very nice wine, needs 3 years. Probably in the 2nd tier?
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Bill Spohn » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:32 am

I like a few Grenache based wines quite a lot, but I wouldn't say that the grape should be first class based on those few.

Bob, one could argue that Carignane should be 3rd tier because it makes no top rank wines in which it is the major component. It certainly finds it's way into many excellent southern Rhones so an argument for 2nd class status could be advanced I suppose. Grapes like these ra sometimes hard to get a fix on.
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Thomas » Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:01 pm

Good grief! These discussions run close to political ;)

Having read through the thread, I'm reminded once again of that saying about no great wines only great bottles of wine (and for you Rahsaan, I'll add) despite the grapes used to make the wine.

Next thing you know, you guys will be giving points to grape varieties, and then start a newsletter, and then a Web site, and then... :shock:
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Re: Great Varietals...and the Rest

Postby Oswaldo Costa » Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:02 pm

OK, I give up, here are my candidates:

First rank
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc

Second rank
Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvedre, Gamay, Malbec, Tannat, Aglianico, Corvina, Teroldego, Lagrein, Muscat, Furmint, Barbera, Dolcetto, Semillon, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, Savagnin, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtztraminer

Third rank
Everything else
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