Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tasting and visit to the vineyard of Clos d'Opleeuw, Limburg, Belgium

Clos d'Opleeuw chardonnay almost ready for harvest
Today a group of members of the BWC/AIS Club of Brussels went for a day trip to the Limburg, a province of the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium. A sunny and balmy day, perfect for a day out!

Here we visited Clos d'Opleeuw, the vineyard of Peter Colemont, for a tour of the small (1 hectare) plot of chardonnay and pinot noir and a vertical tasting.

We went to the vineyard first, which is very well kept and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to expand this level of soil/ slope/ orientation/ protection from the weather.

Peter does not believe in "organic" farming but makes minimal use of chemicals in the vineyard. No added yeasts, only indigenous: more difficult to control but can do also thanks to his limited quantities. No fining with egg whites, only some casein.



The wall of the Clos, dating back to the middle ages, protects from the weather

But let Peter Colemont explain himself about his project.



We then had our tasting. First the chards, then the lone red. Following are the tasting notes that reflect our consensus during the tasting. The scores are mine. I did not indicate prices because the older wines are sold out and Peter Colemont exceptionally agreed to this vertical tasting. However the most recent vintage chardonnay retails for some 40 euro, while the Prestige goes for 60. Peter Colemont does not sell directly unless buyers also purchase some of his imported wines.

Peter Colemont leads our tasting (© Lifang Yan)

Chardonnay 2011, 12%
Straw yellow, moderately intense and consistent. Still quite fresh though round enough for drinking now.
Score 88

Chardonnay 2007, 12%
Golden yellow and very consistent. Notes of white truffle. Minerality and still plenty of freshness make for a perfect balance.
Score 92

Chardonnay 2005, 13%
This vintage is fresher than the 2007 we just tasted, it was a cooler year. Even a tad of effervescence, some excess carbon dioxide in the bottle.
Score 90

Chardonnay Cuvée Prestige Pleistoceen 2015, 13%
The prestige is produced, only in the best years, with the best grapes, from the best part of the small vineyard. Longer and more complex than the other Chards. Again truffle and some vanilla. Obviously still too young, it has a great potential but it is a ready wine for those who like it fresh, a bit Chablis style. A harmonious wine which could provide great surprises to its lucky owner for years to come.
Score 94

Pairing with food: these complex and structured chardonnays could go with structured white meats, maybe guinea fowl or turkey, and even caramelized pork chops.



Pinot Noir 2016, 12.5%
Surprising garnet color instead of the more usual ruby which characterizes pinot noir. Red fruit jam in the nose while mushrooms emerge in the palate. Very well balanced for a young PN, much smoother than expected. It's Achilles heel is perhaps its structure, not as well defined as it could be. Moderate length. Ready with limited aging potential.  As Peter himself noted, more work is necessary on the Pinot Noir, though I personally appreciated its pleasant smoothness and was intrigued by the garnet color.

The Pinot Noir will go well with duck liver spread on toasted bread, pasta with green and red peppers and, why not?, a delicate curry or Chinese Hainan-style steamed chicken with fried rice.
Score 84

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (© Lifang Yan)
Thank you and see you next time! (© Lifang Yan)

To complete an excellent oeno-gastronomic excursion members of the BWC/AIS Club went for an excellent lunch at the nearby Altermezzo restaurant, creative and colorful cuisine at reasonable prices.

And to finish the day we paid a visit to Tongeren, an ancient Roman city where wine was already made some two thousand years ago. Its central square and cathedral as well as the unique treasures of the Teseum before returning to Brussels.

We'll have to come back to Tongeren, to taste the next vintage of Opleeuw, to visit other wine producers in the region (stay tuned, write to us to be included in our mailing list...) and to admire the Beguinage, a UNESCO world heritage site in the center of town.