More news on WBW, plus a failed theme of my own called "When chard turns to sherry": Laroche Les Pierres 2002 and Alvear Carlos VII Montilla Moriles

Lenn Thompson's Wine Blogging Wednesday legacy continues to inspire. This month in particular, I've found that I've been posting multiple WBW entries, even though WBW comes but once a month.

With the latest WBW news, I'm certainly not stopping the flow of WBW posts now -- so March continues to be a month full of interesting WBW developments and I'm on a roll posting about them.

Lenn, who runs LennDevours, should be very proud of an announcement made yesterday that Gary Vaynerchuk is the next host of WBW 44 on April 2 (AKA the 33rd of March).

The theme set by Gary for WBW 44 is French Cabernet Franc, which in itself is fantastic, but it's so much more than that. Gary's Wine Library TV makes WBW 44 the first edition to be hosted by a video blog (or so I believe). Plus Gary is a force, on a totally different level than any other blogger (a testament to this is how many non-wino, non-blogging friends of mine have tried to point me to Gary's site over the years). Gary has obviously had crossover success. He's penetrated the genre of online wine criticism, branded his own unique take on wine talk, and reached out and touched the great unwashed, for lack of a better term. And, by the way, it's worth noting the influence he has. WBW 44 participants are supposed to link their blog's entry by using the comments attached to Gary's announcement, which was officially made in Episode 426 -- well, in less than one day, Episode 426 has already received 315 comments and the blogging event is still weeks away. Now that's some reach!


Last Wednesday, I found myself reaching. Except unlike Gary, when I'm reaching, I'm usually over-reaching. Anyway, there I was, sitting around mid-month and bored. No sign of the next WBW, and WBW 43 was already over and successfully wrapped up.

I was desperate for some theme action.

So I walked into a wine shop and instantly created a theme for my purchase: Discounted wine. Yes, discounted wine. See the receipt pictured at right -- I not only saved $2.50 or 10% off a $25 bottle, I also saved 5 cents more as I brought my own reusable bag for my purchase. $2.55 in my pocket! Yay, discount wine theme!

Gentle reader, you do note the irony here.

Discounted wine is a dangerous topic and even more dangerous as a theme for a blogging event. How many of you have bought marked down bottles only to uncork them and find that there was good reason for their being priced to clear?

I was entirely optimistic at the time though.

Les Pierres means "the rocks" in French, plus since 2002 was such a great year for cold-climate French wine, I figured I was on solid ground with this find.

So I went ahead and rescued that last 2002 Chablis languishing on the shelf from among a bunch of 2004s. The 2002 had a stained label (see photo at left for its good side, photo below for its bad side).

More than that the 2002 sported a different cuvée name than the 04s (they were also marked down but christened "Saint-Martin," not "Les Pierres" as the 2002 was -- yet they all shared the same product code and that same alluring discounted price.)

In fact, I bought this wine before. I recall enjoying the 2002 Chablis from Domaine Laroche a couple of years ago. I even noted it here. It was not called "Les Pierres" at that time either, which now leads me to think that this discounted bottle was a mix-up. Perhaps a remainder from an old shipment destined for some other market where Laroche wanted a less saintly, more rock-solid image. Who knows whose hands touched it. Or didn't touch it as the case may be, leaving it to oxidize and taint in warm rooms hit by direct sunlight.

But to the consumer who sees the 10% promise attached around the neck of this bottle, only that stained label is apparent. And so the smart consumer buys it, thinking that it's what's inside that counts.

Well, here's what's inside...

Domaine Laroche "Les Pierres" Chablis 2002

Eyes: An intense amber colour.

Nose: Very oxidized, tragically so -- acrid, rotting vegetables.

Mouth: Piercing on the palate, beyond vinegary. This is fermented.

Stomach: Puke-inducing.

Michel Laroche, Chablis, France. 12.5%.

But all was not lost. The theme of my impromptu event was changing before my very eyes. Friends had a bottle of sherry to open, which was a serendipitous turn. It was a non-vintage Amontillado from the Montilla Moriles appellation from Andalusia region of Spain.

So we opened it to see whether our volatile Chablis was actually on its way to sherry glory. And maybe in that sense cut it some slack.

First, I should say that this Amontillado produced by Alvear is more on the Fino sherry side than Oloroso. Typically, Amontillados are in between the two -- darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso -- but I thought this bottle was quite reminiscent of some Finos I've had. Dry and deftly penetrating. An aperitif-type drink to enjoy before the food arrives.

Here now are the comparative notes...

Alvear Carlos VII Amontillado Montilla Moriles

Eyes: Slightly less opulent in colour but more viscous.

Nose: Oxidation but with great complexity -- nut purees, apricot confits, allspice and other stunning spicy notes.

Mouth: Wet bandages and almond shells, alcoholic but stylish and drying.

Stomach: Aperitif, ideal with dry-roasted nutmeats.

Córdoba, Andalucía, Espagne. 19%.

Conclusions! Old Chablis does not a sherry make; Caveat emptor, especially on older wines that are discounted.


Kelly said...

Your spirit of experimentation is inspiring, Marcus! What a fun post theme.

Marcus said...

Thanks for noticing Kelly (and congrats on your big news!!).

This post was crazy and a coincidence and I guess I love both those things.