WTNs: Hamtopia

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WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Michael Malinoski » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:07 pm

Mike bought a couple of whole country hams from a farm in Kentucky and a few of us pitched in to share in the wealth. We decided to get together and eat the bounty in all sorts of different preparations over at Greg’s house one Sunday afternoon and evening. Mike got a slicer and we had prosciutto galore (plus a ton to take home), along with a bunch of other dishes that were outrageously good. I didn’t know it until we got there, but a fairly extensive Moulin Touchais blind tasting was also planned as part of the festivities, which was really a fun capper to a wonderful day in Hamtopia.


1999 Yann Alexandre Champagne 'Louis Marie' Courmas Brut. This opens up a little shy before starting to show some more expressive notes of toasted bread, yeast, light ginger and citrus aromas over time. In the mouth, it’s focused and controlled, with medium weight, a nicely balanced feel and a toothsome grip on the finish. The flavors of biscuits, bread, ginger and baked apple grow with time and air and leave a nice even-keeled impression in the end.

N.V. Cédric Bouchard Champagne Inflorescence Blanc de Noirs Val Vilaine. From what I understand trying to decipher the label, this is from the 2009 vintage and was disgorged in April 2011. The color has a sort of brassy tone to it, and the bead here is very fine. On the nose it shows off aromas of smoke, flint, purple berries, corn silk and something akin to vanilla wafer cookies that I find interesting. In the mouth, it displays a lot of volume and density of flavor, with a rather vinous quality all around. It’s kind of unusual in its flavor profile of baked apples, purple berry fruit, bread dough and wood smoke, but it’s nonetheless quite long, lasting and full of character. I don’t find it to have quite as much cut or precision as the previous year’s version, but I confess I do like it a good deal.

N.V. Jérôme Prévost Champagne La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines. This Pinot Meunier-driven Champagne offers a direct and strident nose of dark pineapple, rich apple and mixed berry and plum fruit aromas that come across as bold and confident. It’s pushy and rather winey, and it presents interesting facets of its personality all along the way. For example, it’s creamy and almost sneaky-sweet down low, with gripping and full-powered flavors of baked apple, dark citrus, exotic honey and mixed blue and black berries, but then it kicks back to being rather dry and more typically extra brut on the more focused and flinty finish. It doesn’t always seem purely holistic to me, but it does make for interesting drinking in a rather vinous style. I wish I had caught the vintage and disgorgement dates on this.

Assorted whites and rose:

2009 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Clos Habert. This is still quite young, but it’s just lovely. The nose is layered and distinctive but effortlessly cohesive with almost oily-textured aromas of beeswax, yellow apple, rosewater, lemon oil and cool minerals rising out of the glass. In the mouth, it is more or less sec tendre in sweetness, with a dry finish but a very pleasing core of gently sweet fruit through the middle. Chalk, grapefruit, apple, mineral and toasted orange peel flavors all come together beautifully and make for a seamless and fine-flowing wine.

2002 Selbach-Oster Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Spätlese Mosel. My goodness, the nose on this wine is immediate, vibrant, intense and lively—presenting wonderful aromas of petrol, blue slate, lime zest, chalk, peach fuzz, white flowers and apple that just coat the senses right from the start, yet never seem ponderous or heavy. I find it to be delightful on the palate, as well, with more of the flowery apple, peach, chalk and slate thing going on, accompanied by a light frizzante feel you pick up now and again. I like how airy and lacy the wine can be, while at the same time delivering such a solid punch of fine flavor. This is simply a very good wine that offers a whole lot to like.

2010 Domaine du Gros' Noré Bandol Rosé. This is pale pink in color, with a light nose of strawberries, pink grapefruit, sweet chalk dust, graphite and pencil shavings. It’s light and fresh on the palate, with taut but perhaps a bit dilute flavors of strawberries, pink citrus, minerals and flowery bits. A little twist of funky earth finds its way into the mix now and again, as well. It has a decent crunch of acidity to it, and the overall feel is cleansing and moderately refreshing but not especially exciting.

Random reds:

1964 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo Riserva Antichi Vigneti Propri. This wine is faded garnet in color. Right away, the nose shows some age in the aromatic tones of dusty old library, hard cracked leather, caramel, decayed earth, spiced cranberries and gently oxidized red cherry fruit blending with a lot of ash and smoke notes. It’s fun, but getting pretty advanced at this stage of the game. In the mouth, the acidity is bright and tangy, but there’s definitely a caramelized quality to the otherwise pretty flavors of earth, dried cherries and cranberries. As time goes on, it gets a bit leathery in texture and the tannins seem to amp up, but it’s still a treat to try, for sure.

1996 Hubert Lignier Morey St. Denis 1er Cru La Riotte. This has been open about 4 hours. The nose at this point is quite heavenly--coming across as rich and sexy but also refined and regal. Aromas of lead pencil, leather, smoke, sweet cherries, fine earth and wood shavings combine beautifully, with no one thing really trying to overpower another. There’s a lot going on under the surface, but it seems effortless up top. I could smell this all day, really. In the mouth, though, it’s just not nearly as fully-realized at this juncture—coming across as tautly acidic, moderately tannic and a bit stand-offish at times. Still, there’s great stuffing here in the black cherry, smoke, spice, leather and cool, dark earth flavors if you want to try it now with something hearty to eat. In my view, though, it needs several more years to come together and integrate the acidity and tannin.

1996 C.V.N.E. Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva. This wine has a full-on sexy nose loaded with beautiful aromas of smoked cherries, mincemeat, incense, figs, black plums, creosote, vanilla bean and a nice little twist of sweat and funky earth. It’s lovely, classic stuff, but still youthfully energized. In the mouth, it’s still a bit stout and structured, with the wood and tannin underpinning the flavors of sweet blue and purple fruit, vanilla, mint and typical American oak edgings. It’s got a lot of life and all of that nice cool yet juicy fruit, but I’d give it another 2 or 3 years before trying it again.

Northern Rhones:

1983 Domaine de Vallouit Hermitage. This is one masculine-styled wine, starting with the aromas of rust, raw meat, iodine, peppercorn, charred earth, rawhide leather and black fruit that are muscled and firmly rooted to the ground. It’s much the same on the palate, where it’s cool and tense, with an iron grip around the dark fruit and the tertiary notes of dried blood, leather and smoke. Although the tannins are softened, this has a good deal of tension and there’s definitely a firm hand still on the tiller. You can’t really call it a wine of pleasure. You can definitely call it traditional, and I find it to have a certain stern formality that I find intriguing and well worth taking the time to explore.

1986 Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas. I think this wine was CORKED, though it took a while to become evident, at least to me. Sure, there are some faint musty notes in the background on the nose, but otherwise one finds some nice aromas of dried currants, black cherry, iron ore, pen ink, hung game and leather to consider there. On the palate, though, the texture is a bit rough right from the start and gets increasingly coarse the longer you sit with it. There’s some nice red fruit and a solid underbelly of savory tones, but the mustiness comes on more and more to the point where I’m happy to move on.

2001 Thierry Allemand Cornas Chaillot. First and foremost, this wine smells like the inside of a pepper mill. It’s just loaded with cracked peppercorn aromas, with some glimpses of smoke, black fruit and black leather in there, as well. In the mouth, it’s dark in tone, with a serious, savory, cool and minerally personality that feels intense and sinewed but somehow finely filigreed. The excellent sense of flow and chiseled balance are on full display, and one can’t help but be impressed with the presence and quality of the wine--even knowing that it needs like another 5 to 7 years in the cellar.

Blind tasting of Moulin Touchais in three flights:

Flight 1:

1979 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This and the next two wines were recent purchases from Woodland Hills, and had newer labels saying “Reserve de nos Vignobles” on the bottles. The other two were quite excellent, but this one showed a lot of strange medicinal notes on the nose to go along with mint leaves, apricots, multivitamins and musty old attic scents. It’s equally dodgy on the palate, with a lot of caramelized flavors at the core and some more interesting bits of nutmeg, apple and lanolin around the edges. I suppose it’s not terrible or anything, but it’s easily at the bottom of the heap for me in this line-up.

1975 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This was my wine of the night. The nose on it is rich, sweet, exotic and fun—with fine aromas of baked apricots, honey, beeswax, liquid caramel and fancy nuts. In the mouth, it’s luscious and perfectly sweet, with a wonderful sense of cohesion and focus to go along with the richness of flavor and viscosity of texture. It has great lift and a nice bright acidity to carry it all forward with ease. The flavor profile of apricot, nectarine, dried pineapple cube and grapefruit is truly delicious and delivers just the right amount of hedonistic sweet fruit for the wine’s frame. There’s not a single hair out of place with this wine and it’s a treat in every way.

Flight 2:

1986 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This wine presents a prettier and more floral sort of bouquet that features fine and pleasing aromas of baked apples, nectarines, wool, light caramel, wax, chalk and brown spices to accompany airy top notes of rose hips and orange blossoms. In the mouth, it’s the most sugary wine of the first four, but it’s also bright, juicy and showing plenty of energy to go with the viscous flavors of caramel and light brown sugar. It gets better and better as time goes on, and it seems like a good candidate for some additional cellar time.

1985 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. Of the first four wines here, this one seems to be showing the most advanced color—trending toward a sort of orange-gold. However, it’s just lovely on the nose, where one gets all kinds of spicy and exotic aromas of nutmeg, apple pie, whipped cream, caramel and chopped nuts pairing together nicely with rich scents of apricot marmalade. In the mouth, it has a darker complexion to the fruit profile—featuring beautiful flavors of blueberries, dark peaches, lemon cream and baking spices. It has a great sense of tension and a degree of lively intensity, but also a languid and creamy texture that has fine persistence. After the 1975, this was my 2nd favorite of all of these.

Flight 3:

1989 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This is a much younger-seeming wine on the nose, and it actually reminds me of a demi-sec Vouvray in its aromatic profile of lemon peel, wax, bergamot, yellow apple, blue slate, cool smoke and crisp mineral scents. It’s quite nice on the palate, too, but much younger in tone all around than anything that has come before. It’s tightly-woven and gripping in texture, but shows off delightful flavors of wax candy, sugar cube and sweet yellow citrus. It has a sort of oily-textured finish and leaves a very lasting and pleasing impression. It’s still developing, but it was my 3rd favorite wine in the line-up.

1996 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This is actually a bit darker in color than the 1989. It displays aromas of lemon peel, chopped nuts, yellow apple and nutmeg to go along with an interesting little touch of funk. In the mouth, it’s youthfully sweet and maybe showing just a bit of alcohol at times, but otherwise delivers a big mouthful of lemon cream, nutmeg and yellow fruit flavors. It’s quite tasty, but I’d say it will benefit from some additional cellar time, surely.

1990 Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon. This wine is showing wooly and earthy aromas of blue slate, lemon-pepper, limestone, smoke, wax and foresty greens on the nose. In the mouth, it’s got a yellow gummy bear sort of flavor and texture profile that I find interesting and fun, to go along with a solid dose of deep citrus. There’s a quiet sexiness to it, as well, and I imagine this will just keep improving over the years to come.

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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby MLawton » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:49 am

Hams were from newsomscountryhams.com, no notes? One was the "free range ham" and the other was the aged country ham. The country ham was the smokier and saltier one to my taste but I really enjoyed both, especially in Charles' preparation. The Moulin Touchais tasting left me a little cold, maybe because it was late and I had a belly full of ham and other wines - not sure.

Good bubbles. I think I was agreeing that the Clape was corked but that's a vague memory of a long time ago. The Vallouit was correct, as they all have been, and nice to drink. Very much at peak to my taste. I was interested to try the Lignier but maybe it wasn't as happy to see us.
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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Michael Malinoski » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:40 am

Sorry, Mike, no ham tasting notes. Thanks for doing all the work to bring the product to the table for us--it was greatly appreciated by all parties except my waistline.

I know Charles expressed similarly lukewarm feelings about the Moulin Touchais flights, and I could see how the '79, '90 and '86 might contribute to that. But for me the highlights of the '75, '85 and to some degree the '89 really carried the day. I'm a big fan of the '76 and some day I'd really like to put the '75 and '76 head-to-head...

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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Jenise » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:04 pm

Mike, great read as always. Love the theme/excuse for a tasting--neat way to go.

Love your note on the Prevost: I had one a year ago that I loved but which words failed me to describe. Glad they didn't fail you--you captured what I remember perfectly.
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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:41 pm

People keep pouring Moulin Touchais, and I continue to be unimpressed. Same goes for ham. :(
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Jenise » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:47 am

David M. Bueker wrote: Same goes for ham. :(

That's unAmerican!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Rahsaan » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:56 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:People keep pouring Moulin Touchais, and I continue to be unimpressed.

I liked them when I first started getting into wine, but then I realized that they don't really have the breed of the finer wines.

But, they seem to have lots of bottles and lots of older wines, which serves its purpose in the market I suppose.
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Re: WTNs: Hamtopia

Postby Charles Weiss » Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:13 am

David M. Bueker wrote:People keep pouring Moulin Touchais, and I continue to be unimpressed. Same goes for ham. :(

You might feel differently if you'd had these hams.
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