The Bourgueil here is balanced and supple with a light sugary feel, a genuine pleasure drink. What is amazing is that 2009 was his first vintage. Christophe is well inspired, he has been selling his wines since a year and a half. On this Bourgueil, the filtration was either very light or was non-existent. Costs 15 € at the shop.
We tasted 3 wines, all red, and I liked particularly two of them :
__Pur Jus, Beaujolais Villages. a 11,5 ° Gamay which went through a 20-day carbonic maceration and was racked and bottled in december. We hear a small noise at the opening of the bottle probably because of gaz. The nose is peppery and fresh. made from 70-year old vines, he says. Nice fruit feel, morello cherries. Nice chewy substance in the mouth. Xavier vinifies without additives since 2003 and he doesn't play with the temperatures. This Pur Jus cuvée didn't get any SO2 even at bottling. Even after 30 minutes or more, the nose keeps fresh and alive. Costs about 7 € at the winery.
__Beaujolais Villages Vieilles Vignes 2001. The vines are very healthy and regular, he says, they make their 30 hectoliters/hectare in good and bad years alike. This is a 1,1 hectare of Gamay that he got from his parents. Very beautiful nose with an earthy side I would say. Hearty mouth, fresh too. The color here is more concentrated than for the previous wine. The substance is nice, there is minerality in there it seems to me. Christophe who discovers the wine like me says that this is very elegant. And it's a 2010, give it one or two years and it should be further up.
Christophe made an order for his wines right away.
I was particularly impressed by Ojai's Pinot Noir 2008, Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley. They have several cuvées of Pinot Noir (4 or 5 if I remember) and this vineyard was one of the first Pinot Noir vineyards planted in this Santa Barbara area, it was in 1973. The wine has a lovely pale color, an elegant and refined nose and is a beautiful drink in spite of the 14 ° on the label. Vinified & raised in casks during 1,5 to 2 years, 20 % new casks. Racked only once, with a non-interventionist style. Each cuvée at Ojai makes about 10 or 12 casks maximum. They take one cask (often a new cask) from all the Pinot-Noir cuvées to make a cheaper "generic" Santa Barbara cuvée so that people can begin with a more affordable wine, as this one costs for example 40 to 45 USD (it's priced 43 € in France, public price). The estate buys the grapes to growers, not by volume (which encourages disastrous yields) but by surface, and then the grower follows the farming rules set by the estate. The empty glass displayed such beautiful aromas. I came back later during the tasting event to have another pour of this nice Pinot.
Then, another red, les Terrasses Priorat 2008. The nose was outstanding here, the wine is made out old vines stretched between 70, 80 and 90 years. In the mouth, the wine is powerful, elegant and well structured. Goes down somptuously down the throat. Varieties are Carignan & Grenache. One critic could be that the extraction is a bit too high.
Then, Finca Dofi Priorat 2008. Young vines (35 years). Intensity on the nose with a rather concentated mouth and a saline feel. Twice the price for this one and I prefer the previous wine.
__ Föbor, Fürmint blend 2007. In small bottles. Golden color with green reflections. What a gorgeous mouth, and such a length. Honey candy notes.
Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Fürmint 2002. Similar golden color with some green. A honeyed milk in the mouth, a concentration of refineness and onctuosity, the whole thing being dressed in a coat of freshness... I come across such wines only in places like that, otherwise out of my reach.
I had stocked a 12-bottle case of his Pinot last year because we had experienced a very good one from him after a few years keep. One year after the purchase, I wanted to try and the result was quite good already. A bottle cost about 5 € at the winery if I remember.
I read recently a very thoughful and well-written article on the subject by a New-England expat whose blog I read regularly. Titled "On Getting Drunk with your Boss in Japan", it describes many facets of this tradition which may evade a non-initiate. Reading this prose made me travel by thought, imagining the parties and after-parties and all the quasi ritualized and institutionalized binge drinking which doesn't seem to leave bad aftertaste when these people are back together at work the following day. I am sure that you will enjoy the read.
The picture above was shot in a Tokyo izakaya in 2008.
If you want to feel the pulse of Tokyo and Japan, follow this other Japan-expat blog with great photos, and it has also posted some time ago incredible pictures shot in the region of Sendai after the tsunami.