June 6, 2008

I Feel Fine : Joly, Day 5

Day 5: 4:34PM. Wet concrete and toffee. And still some volatile alcohol smells. On the palate, sweeter than before, with dried apricot and diluted pear. Less disjointed. And again that long, mineral, slightly metallic finish. Still fresh, building in power even. Bigger, rounder mouthfeel today.

Conclusions: I don't think there's any question that this wine changed expression over the course of 5 days. And it certainly held up against oxygenation. I would also make the subjective argument that Les Clos Sacrés improved over the period. And while it requires a level of discipline that I generally lack, I'm convinced enough by the results that I will make every effort to vigorously decant and give ample air time to my small, vertical collection of Clos de la Coulee de Serrant (pictured above) when I open them.

But there remains one, perhaps singular, problem to consider. Sure, this Les Clos
Sacrés improved. But it wasn't very good to begin with. It was interesting. But not great. And, I suspect, flawed. To people who don't like them, Joly is often defended as making "Old World" wines. But I love Old World wines. And when they're good, I Iove Joly's wines; they can be sublime. But far too often Joly's wines are flawed. Not massively (though I have had a few that were undrinkable, perhaps even "imbuvable") and not always irredeemably, but flawed enough that the character of the fruit is compromised. And therefore, it seems to me, the expression of terroir that Joly and his fans prize (myself among them) is also compromised.

I had a look at the tasting notes for Les Clos
Sacrés on CellarTracker. There were seven notes, commencing in September of 2005 and the most recent coming from April of this year. If you read with a predisposition to find flaws, you could imagine that 3 of the 7 bottles were off. They are variously described as, "tainted by the strong smell of petroleum," "coppery/slight chemical elements" and less ambiguously, "a losing number in the Joly lottery."

As a thought experiment, I think we could try to imagine that Rudolf Steiner might possibly accept the use of a small amount of sulfur dioxide to keep wine free of bacterial taint. It might keep me from looking elsewhere for sublime expression of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.

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