Worth a Thousand Words...

I've mentioned Christophe Gourdain more than a few times-- he's got no website for his restaurant as there's not much of an incentive or payoff for it in Puerto Rico.
He depends on reputation & word of mouth-- variations on a theme evidencing the priority of personal relationships in sustaining a business. He's in a neighborhood in Old San Juan where he competes with any number of flashy, Nuevo Latino-Fusion food-fashion lounges, but if any of my newfound wine-geek blogger buddies are by any chance in the neighboorhood-- say, on a cruising break from their hectic bread-earning juggler lives, looking for a current & regularly updated wine list of any depth, & serious, fine cuisine in an atmosphere that manages to be elegant & relaxed at the same time-- Trois-Cent Onze has no equal in the newly-burgeoning dining scene in Puerto Rico! A votre santé!
Oh, the picture-- !
Well, here's Christophe between his chère Maman & his Mother-in-Law, the latter with the family scion in her arms, at about four months of age. Christophe doesn't smile this broadly too often, & I was very happy to capture his obvious joy & pride with my cheap little camera.
A tout a l'heure, jeun'homme!


WBW 39: 'Silver Burgundy'-- Côte Chalonnaise and the Mâconnais

I was hoping to choose & taste an appropiate wine before leaving
for Argentina & subsequently compare at what price I could find the same bottle or an analogue in Buenos Aires after I arrived...but I've postponed travel yet again, & I'll still be running errands & preparing to pack on Wednesday the 14th-- so I shopped around the websites of Plaza Cellars, to find:

--Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages 2005 $16.38
--Georges Duboeuf Pouilly Fuissé 2006 $21.97
--Louis Latour Pouilly Fuissé 2005 $26.32

...& La Bodega de Méndez had these listings--

--Albert Bichot Pouilly Fuissé 2000 $22.78
--Albert Bichot Pouilly Fuissé 2002 $26.49
--Albert Bichot Saint Véran 2002 $13.49

In the end, I wound up strolling to V. Suárez's retail outlet, El Hórreo, mentioned in an earlier posting, after my friend Christophe Gourdain-- also mentioned earlier-- assured me their extensive catalog was my best bet, with a choice of Mâcon-Lugny, Mercurey & possibly Rully bottlings. Their website has very flashy Flash animation screens, but unfortunately no detailed updates on their mammoth account holdings.
Racks upon racks of Jadot-labeled bottles yielded no Mâcon-Lugny-- out of it, or part of a smaller négociant's closed-out & relinquished catalog. (No trace of Rully, either)
Chalk it up to indecisiveness, recklessness or thirst for knowledge-- finally, as in last month's Wine Blogging Wednesday participation, I ended up with a trinity of bottles:

--Château de Chamirey Mercurey Rouge 1998 $26.50
--Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc 1997 $20.75
--Louis Jadot St. Véran Chapelle aux Loups 1998 $17.75

All three have improved since opening, last Saturday the 10th for the red, Sunday 11th for the whites: the red Mercurey went from tart cherry acidity up front & a flash of spicy aftertaste with a light midpalate to a more balanced Bourgogne, if somewhat tame & simple for the price one must inevitably pay on this 100 x 35-square-mile island.
The whites certainly seem to have more depth: the 'Chapelle aux Loups' ('Wolves' Chapel'!) went from bright, acidic lime to still citric, but unctuous Meyer lemon preserve, with some underlying notes of cashew nut, rather than the hazlenut that is supposed to be more typical of this vineyard's product. The white Mercurey has blossomed into an amazing tightrope act of earth & oxidative notes, giving it a caramelized orange rind & apple throughline that matches a light, lingering citrus blossom nose-- with some mushroom underpinning that balances the midpalate at a near-impossible point between astringent & unctuous. I rave about this wine partly because it's a delicious payoff after taking many, many chances on older white vintages that are borderline oxidated--
a 2002 Argiolas 'Isola dei Nuraghi' white from Sardinia, for example, with an unspecified percentage of Malvasia blended in with the usual Vermentino, had a honeyed color with salmon glints; & while the nose was flat if dimly nutty, the palate was nicely poised on the edge of sherry-like character.
A more subtle & expensive example was a bottle of Jadot's Meursault-Genevrières from '98 I shared with Christophe at his restaurant, where he dismissed my fretting out loud whether I'd wasted my sixty-seven dollars after getting mostly olives & bay leaf in the nose & tight citrus with a subtle nutty undertone in the mouth. 'It's fine', he curtly declared.
I have a curmudgeonly, whiny streak & when Brooklynguy presented the theme for this month's blogging 'group taste' I wondered if I'd end up filling space by complaining about the hollow spaces & high prices of the wine market on this cultural crossroads of an island-- yet again.
I've still got a good, generous glass of each of both white wines waiting for this evening & a possible evaluation epilogue of their final evolution waiting in my blogosphere's literary wings. Not only that, I'm very tempted to risk the inevitable bottle variation to buy another helping of each-- so I have to humbly thank our host for the incentive nudge to pursue the 'Silver Burgundy' scheme of possibilities & a great experience!
Postscript, Wed.14, 11:53 AST:
(now that Eastern time is back on Standard, I get an hour's grace period for midnight deadlines!)
On their last legs, each wine flattened & died a most characterful death: the Saint-Véran's slightly-cooked Meyer lemon compote showing some salty highlights, as of oyster liquor. The Mercurey, darkening into Scotch-like malt!


Margaux Aha! Moment

This bottle was one of two from my Tio Yayo's cellar I took under custody, out of maybe five that rolled around from one cousin to another after he was diagnosed 'non compos mentis'. I coulda-mighta-shoulda taken the other three-- they may still be waiting in my aunt Vivi's bedroom fridge, where I was supposed to claim them to place in proper storage...
I'd had a disappointing taste of a 1961 Château Margaux out of my dad's stash-- terribly cooked in the tropical heat-- maybe fifteeen, if not a few more years ago by now-- and this bottle of 1977 Château Rausan-Ségla didn't look very promising: it had probably been stored upright for a long period, as the cork had dried & gotten pushed or sucked in. The old-fashioned lead capsule's tight seal kept the contents from leaking out this last year or two I'd set it on its side, however.
1977 worse vintage of the decade. Red Rivesaltes excellent is the only reference I've found after some cursory Googling...

(Found a picture! On e-bay, wouldn't you know:
Seems a Belgian gent name of Claudio Marius was the high bidder
on a bottle of the vintage-- 22.58 euros, check it out here.)

So I open it with my Dad, (--a week ago last Monday by now, Nov. 9) after finding a decanter faccsimile-- which didn't really do the job, not having the right 'shoulders' to collect the sediment-- not expecting much, but except for the slightly muddied color, the wine seemed OK in the glass. My Dad went into his now usual rant on how this is Tempranillo, which those damn French insist on calling Cabernet, & I did my resigned sigh & shutting-out bit-- but was really surprised & impressed: I got a nose of mostly tobacco & mocha, but not like a full-blown Napa Cab or a Chilean Carmenere, which can come on like Kahlua, more like a perfume, as if cocoa, tobacco & coffee blossoms were opening in the glass...subtle, variable, even a little muted, but very present in its quiet way. I couldn't not share this, so I held back, went for a run, tried to decant some more sediment as I carefully poured what ended up being about 60 cl into another bottle, & surprised my friend Christophe Gourdain, owner of Restaurant Trois-Cent Onze in Old San Juan, by bringing it in.
Being hungry but wanting to keep dinner simple & quick, I agreed to a salad of frisée with 'camembert en croûte', followed by some ravioli of pheasant with mushroom sauce as an appropiate pairing with the wine.
Christophe detected fruit, & aided by his power of suggestion & my hard-working sense-memory, I finally agreed there might be something like dark berry or cherry notes well-integrated into the sensory mix...the wine didn't have the greatest staying power in the glass, but seemed to fill out its fifteen minutes of elusive evolution before softening & flattening out. Yet, each new glass poured from the bottle showed just a little different while still alive...twilight presence, evanescence...I guess that's what Margaux-- or only this particular Margaux?-- would be about...