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David Schildknecht
DAVID SCHILDKNECHT

Vintner Select trade tasting
The ever-amiable David Schildknecht, representing the importing firm Vintner Select of Cincinnati, rolled into our town yesterday afternoon with a couple of cases of French items - most of them newly arrived into the U.S. - and it was my great pleasure to be invited to join a few local wine-business types for a tasting at Louisville's huge Party Source store.

As always, David was enthusiastic about his wares and full of technical information and background lore about them. And as is almost invariably the case, his enthusiasm was based on reality, not hype. Without exception the 22 wines we tasted were good. In many cases, as noted below, they were exceptional, with a number of items that the usual-suspect critics are bound to rate at the high end of the scale ... if they can find them.

Although all the wines were good, I would single out as of particular interest the delicious new Loires from Foreau and a promising new maker, René Mosse and his wife Agnes. David says M. Mosse was a well-to-do businessman and serious wine enthusiast who decided in midlife to make a career move from suit-and-tie business to running his own winery. Based on yesterday's samples, I would say Domaine Mosse has a bright future in his second career. These wines are bound to be "discovered," and when they are, they'll go fast.

Other highlights of the tasting included Monardiere 1998 Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes, Tour Boisée 1999 "Marielle et Frederique" Minervois and the mightily impressive Jérôme Bressy 1999 Gourt de Mautens Rasteau, which in my opinion is back on the track of the excellent 1997 after the 1998's digression into tannic taciturnity.

But let's let the wines speak for themselves. Following are my tasting notes, with a label image or two. Prices are the importer's suggested retail; "street prices" in some regions may be less. Vintner Select is the sole importer of these wines except as noted below.

WHITE BURGUNDIES

A. & F. Boudin 1999 Chablis ($19) - Pale greenish-gold. Classic apples and mineral. Bright and fresh with a steely "grip." Really excellent basic Chablis. Also imported by several other small U.S. importers.

A. & F. Boudin 1999 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume ($28) - Clear brass. Fresh apple-pie aromas, fruit and yeast. Steel and fruit, clean and long. Also imported by several other small U.S. importers.

DRY LOIRE WHITES

Michel Gendrier 1999 Les Huards "Haut Pinglerie" Cheverny ($13) - Clear brass, spicy aromatics, apple and caraway. Full and crisp, minerally fruit.

Pascal Cotat 1998 "Chavignol - Monts Damnés" Sancerre ($25) - Clear straw color. Perfumed, delicately herbal. Ripe and full, tart acid and grassy notes plus a faint nutty quality on the palate. (BACKGROUND - In a recent change in practice, Pascal and Francois Cotat pere et fils are now being required to market their wines separately and to de-emphasize the local name Chavignol in favor of the appellation Sancerre. The familiar Cotat green wax closure is now offered to importers only as an option, and many sources, including Vintner Select, are now ordering it with a foil capsule.) Also imported by Dionysos, Virginia-DC and several others.

Foreau Philippe Foreau 1999 Vouvray Sec ($18) - Clear straw. Lovely mineral and white-fruit scents, truffle oil and wet stones. Full, minerally, acidic, a whiff of lanolin. Impressive, complex but needs time. Also imported for many states by Neal Rosenthal, New York.

Domaine Mosse 1999 "Marie Besnard" Anjou ($25) - Golden. Lime and apricots and oaky vanillins; big aromas blast from the glass. Flavors similar, aromatic and volatile and faintly oxidized. A bit "wacky" but interesting.

Domaine Mosse 1999 "La Joute" Anjou ($28) - Pale gold. Pineapple and spice, overripe and volatile. Full, almost unctuous, the aroma's "outrageous" qualities fall into place in a full, complex flavor framed by citric lemon peel.

Domaine Mosse 1999 "Bonnes Blanches " Anjou ($30) - Bright gold. Oaky aromatics more obvious than the others, but aromatic tropical fruit shows through.

RED BURGUNDIES

Xavier Besson 1999 Givry 1er Cru Petit Pretan Vieilles Vignes ($18) - Startling bright reddish-purple, looks like a New World Pinot. It's all Burgundy on the nose and palate, though ... gamey, meaty and smoky, vegetal and funky, but with a ripe core of plummy fruit and zippy acidity. Wonderful wine and an amazing bargain; sadly, the tiny production is sold out.

Jean-Luc Dubois 1999 Beaune Bressandes ($33) - Dark, slightly hazy ruby. Funky, a bit sulfury; vigorous shaking and a penny help, opening up to plushy red fruit. Better on the palate, tart red fruit and structural acidity.

RED BORDEAUX

Château Micalet 1998 Haut Medoc ($19) - Inky blackish-purple. Blackcurrant and fresh, pleasant earthy notes. Delicious black fruit, seems soft at first, but lemony acid and soft tannins appear in midpalate. Very good value by Bordeaux standards.

Château Moulin de Blanchon 1998 Haut Medoc ($23) - Very dark garnet. Fresh black fruit, simple but structured and balanced.

RHONE REDS

Gourt de Mautens Jérôme Bressy 1999 Gourt de Mautens Rasteau ($35) - Opaque blackish-purple. Big and plummy, a whiff of raisins. Huge - 15.7 percent alcohol despite what the label says - extracted fruit, meat and game and smoke, not as tannic as the '98. Includes a small amount of young vine Syrah and Mourvedre for the first time. Still on track as a cult-to-be. Also imported by Dionysos, Virginia-DC and several others.

Monardiere 1998 Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes ($22) - Dark garnet. Ripe and earthy, chocolate and cherries, ripe and delicious. Also imported by Stephen Grant, NC.

OTHER FRENCH REDS

Tour Boisee Tour Boisée 1999 "Marielle et Frederique" Minervois ($12) - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, unoaked. Inky blackish-purple. Plums and pepper, a hint of licorice and big, ripe black fruit. Excellent buy.

Mosse 1999 Anjou Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) - Dark garnet. Pleasant currant and spicy-herbal aromas suggest Cabernet Franc, but it's all Cabernet Sauvignon. Lean and tart but juicy fruit, softly tannic but accessible.

La Madone 1999 Beaujolais Le Perreon ($11) - Bright reddish-purple, with bright strawberry aromas. Juicy bowl-of-fruit flavors, delicious. Also imported by several other small U.S. importers.

Domaine Calot 1999 Cuvée Speciale Morgon ($17) - Dark ruby. Funky "reductive" aromas open up to earthy red fruit and white pepper. Juicy, gamey fruit, a lot of structure for a Beaujolais.

SWEET LOIRE WHITES

Le Rouchefer Domaine Mosse 1999 "Le Rouchefer" Coteaux du Layon ($32) - Bright gold. Honey and hazelnuts and fresh pineapple. Unctuous, sweet fruit and steely acid, rich and very long.

Domaine Mosse 1999 "Bonnes Blanches" Coteaux du Layon Saint Lambert ($49/500 ml) - Bright gold. Intense honey, apricots, figs and dates on the nose and palate. Syrup sweet, but knife-edge acidity holds it in balance.

Philippe Foreau 1999 Vouvray Moelleux ($29) - Bright gold with a greenish glint. Big white fruit, truffles and a marked, pleasantly "oily" mineral note. Flavors consistent, fruit and slate and steel. Also imported for many states by Neal Rosenthal, New York.

Régis Cruchet 1999 Vouvray Demi-Sec ($15) - White fruit, caramel and a hint of coconut. Sweetish and crisp, fresh and long.

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