Dutch Jenever Week – Day 7: Rutte Single Barrel Bordeaux Graanjenever 14yo 1999 (38%, Limousin Oak Cask #239, 490 bottles

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We already reached the end of our Dutch Jenever journey. It was a long journey for me, and writing the reviews and doing the research took me a whole lot longer than first expected. Lots of other things came in between, both already published and some not, like the next Master Quill week, which at this point in time is nearly finished as well. It’s a good thing I took my time, because in the mean time I somehow connected with Jenever and found out what it is and what its place is in the big scheme of things. I learned to appreciate it for the wonderful traditional liquor it is. I present to you the last review of the week and it is a 14yo Rutte, aged in a Bordeaux cask, in many ways similar to yesterdays 14yo Zuidam that was matured in two Oloroso Sherry casks. I expected both to be dominated by the Bordeaux Wine or Oloroso Sherry before setting off…

RUTTE_SINGLE_BARREL_BORDEAUX_14JR_lowresxxx300Color: Vibrant copper gold.

Nose: Very fruity. Berries, cherries and this definitely has some characteristics of wine, just not the wine itself. Very fresh and vibrant at first, but also a deep dull nutty undertone that evolves over time. Sweetish and grainy. The cask impaired a lot of aromas onto the Jenever. Waxy red apple skins. Vanilla, mocha and plywood. Small hint of licorice, some toasted cask and sometimes a light whiff of cigarette smoke. Still not a true red wine aroma, if you ask me. If someone would give me this Jenever blind and ask what kind of cask this came from, I would have been sure this was from a Calvados cask. The aroma is from apple, but also the typical acidity from Calvados. Very perfumy and fruity. Definitely floral as well. Cinnamon comes next and as we all know, cinnamon goes together well with the apple aroma this Jenever has. Nice stuff to smell. Soft.

Taste: Sweet, sweet, sweet. Apples in many (distilled) guises. First impression shows an enormous lack of complexity. Fruity, overpowering and warming, and yes, quite likeable as well. Liquid candy and although 38% ABV is not high, it seems way less than this. It drinks like a soft Sherry with corresponding ABV. Christmas pudding. More Calavados notes mixed together well with some soft and spicy notes from wood. I know this is from a cask that once held French Red Wine, but the spirit is Dutch. Having said that I can’t get rid of the French feeling this Jenever gives me. maybe this is because this hardly tastes like a Jenever at all? Am I biased by the statement on the label and the aroma’s of Calvados? I wish I had tasted this blind, not knowing what it was, would I call this a Calvados then? Even after 14 years we can safely say that the Bordeaux may have overpowered the Jenever a bit, but some nice synergy was achieved as well. It ís still recognizable as a Jenever. It has a great nose and tastes well. Big gulp now and damn, this has a lot to do with a semi-sweet Calvados (and nothing with Bordeaux or the other Rutte offerings I reviewed and tasted). Again a Jenever that has to breathe for a while, so don’t be hasty with it.

Whereas with Zuidam you get the feeling everything is intelligently planned and intended, with Rutte it sometimes is more random and spontaneous. Trial and error. Hit or miss.”Well lets not chuck out the cask, people. Rinse it out and put some spirit in it, I might like it in the end.” (And then forget about the cask altogether untill a cleaning-lady accidentally stumbles upon it…)

I hope Patrick van Zuidam doesn’t feel too comfortable now, to sit back on a beach somewhere, and just let things happen. Although the Rogge Genever was a bit sweet and simple, the rest of the offerings I reviewed here were top-notch. A clear winner. Rutte seems to be trying to find an identity for itself by concentrating on experimentation, marketing and far away markets. Everything was pretty decent though, especially this Dutch Calvados made from Jenever and Bordeaux casks. However, the bottle of the Rutte Twaalf Graanjenever started out as a disappointment by its lack of balance. Shockingly so, since I actually expected quite a lot of that one. When it got some extensive contact with air it got way better. I tasted some young expressions, maturing in American oak and they were pretty good. I should try another bottle of this 12yo, to see if the profile is just different. Knowing the Rutte 12yo, puts this Bordeaux Jenever more into perspective. The fruity acidity I expected to come from the Bordeaux cask is actually coming from the spirit itself, since it is also present in the 12yo.

In the end this Dutch Jenever Week only featured products from Rutte and Zuidam. Of course there are a lot more Dutch and other Jenevers around, as I mentioned yesterday, and I will absolutely source some more for future reviews., because Jenever is definitely worth your attention. Just let it be Jenever and don’t compare it to anything else. It’s not Whisky nor Gin and why should it? Proost!

Points: 79

Short Stories: Chateau de Mendis Premiéres Côtes de Bordeaux 2003

Hey another short story. So no introduction, no research (or nothing to research), just a short (tasting) note about something (in most cases, a wine I had with dinner), so without further ado…

Chateau de Mendis 2003Color: Extremely dark ruby-red

Nose: Nicely spicy and warming. Oozes hot earth. Spicy and somewhat woody. Nose is nicely balanced. Again lots of earth, dusty, meaty and with deep red fruits, mainly cherries. Very pleasant nose. I don’t know why, but smelling this, I have a craving for Pizza.

Taste: The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected from the nose. It still is warming and has quite the body. Fruity again with some added acidity (but not much). This most definitely is a wine that needs to breathe. It was aged for quite a bit and has developed well. I imagine this wine wasn’t made for keeping. The soft tannins are there, on the tongue, but not as much in the taste. Again a bit meaty, but in no way unforgiving. Will do well with most foods. Meat and cheese and anything in between.

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, but blended with a little bit of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. 12.5% ABV.

Points: 84

Château Les Tresquots Médoc 2003

Very typical Bordeaux blend. This one comprises of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The ABV is 13.5%. The grapes were harvested by hand and the wine was put on oak casks for one year.  The grapes that grow on vines are 30 to 40 years old. grow in the heart of the Médoc region near Bégadan, where the D3 crosses the D103 (for those who were there). Saint Estèphe is just up river.

For what I read, people weren’t too happy about this one when is was younger, so it was no problem to let this lie for a couple of years. I left it for almost 10 years, but now it was time to have a look how it is doing.

2003 was a very special year for the region. The 2002 harvest was very dry and the winter that followed was cool and wet. In march it was already warm (and dry) so growth started early. The following period stayed dry which means low yields. The summer, well, heat wave! So in June, July and August, the grapes got roasted.

Color: Very dark, with deep sparkling red. Almost doesn’t let light through.

Nose: It might be heavy, according to the text above, but for me this is quite lively. Grape skin, hot earth, dry but with a lot of depth. Elderberries with some acidity. Yeast and a little hint of sterile wood. Altogether very balanced. I might be biased by now, but this oozes hot weather.

Taste: Deep, this has some tannins. Thick grape skins and plums. Lots of ripe cherries. Not the red ones but the sweetish black ones. It’s not bitter nor woody, but it does dry the mouth quite a bit. The fun is to be had taking big gulps and the effect this has on the palate. Finish is quite short and a bit anonymous. This is very much recommended with food (meat).

In the end not very complex, but with a lovely nose. And I like the shift toward the black cherries. Especially the taste is ‘simple’ but it doesn’t overpower you, nor does it have any other flaws, apart from the tannins that dry your mouth extensively. Considering early report about this wine, I can say that ageing this is a good idea.

Points: 81

Chateau Saint-Paul 2005 Haut-Médoc

I used to drink a lot of reds and for the last six years or so I love to drink a lot of whites. Alsace was probably what set that off. But as you might have guessed, being the frequent reader you are, I drink foremost Scottish Single Malts nowadays. But it’s not all Scotch that lights our world, so I’ll definitely have to try some different things here too. This time the first red wine on Master Quill.

Haut-Médoc is the large southern part of the Médoc district of Bordeaux in the south-west of France. The famous wines from this region are Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien. You might have heard of those.

The wine of choice for today is Chateau Saint-Paul of the 2005 vintage. Saint-Paul is a Cru Bourgeois from the Haut-Médoc (St. Seurin de Cadourne). 2005 was a good year for Haut-Médoc, as it was for the whole of the Bordeaux region. The soil is mostly gravel, chalk and clay. The wine is made of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. ABV is 13%.

Color: Ruby red.

Nose: Meaty and sour. Red and dark fruits, berries, black currants and blackberries. Plums maybe? Dust and moist dirt. Floral. In fact it tasted quite thick and sweet (raisins), which it probably is not, still it reminds me a bit of sniffing a ruby port.

Taste: It has depth and is a little sour and powdery. Definitely some wood in here too. Wet leaves, but not earthy. Elderberries, but not bitter. Good tannins which do not take over the wine, still you’ll know from your tongue. It isn’t overly complex, but is has good balance and is a very nice wine to drink. Medium body and medium to long finish.

This one is at it’s best decanted for an hour or so, maybe two. When I tasted this from the just opened bottle, it was quite closed, but a few hours later it showed a lot more. So age this maybe a little longer, decant it properly, then this will be at it’s best.

Points: 85