June 1, 2017

Peter Sisseck in London: Psi, Chateau Rocheyron and Dominio de Pingus

By Will Hargrove

I am almost criminally late in writing this up. It is nice to think back almost a year, as I sit back in Wales on holiday, to having Peter in London for two whole days. How Peter juggles his three main projects – Dominio de Pingus, Psi & Chateau Rocheryon – I’ll never quite know but he certainly racks up the miles! On this trip we did a series of tastings and dinners which I will write brief notes of here:

Psi 2010 – 2015

I’ll not go into the detailed background to the project below as you can read about that HERE at your leisure. The essence is though that this is a project aimed at maintaining the old vine Tempranillo (and Garnacha) in Ribera rather than see it get planted over to younger root stocks. Peter works with close to 500 growers (474 at the time of this tasting) to help and encourage them and to make the wine, buying their fruit for a fair and proper price. The first Psi was made in 2007.

Psi 2010 – This was 100% Tempranillo. A slightly lighter edge to the rim, good fruit, nicely round now, red fruit more than black. Nice palate, fattening out a little now and in second gear, quite rich. 16(+)

Psi 2011 – Also 100% Tempranillo, a little fresher and more lifted, juicier too, a slightly darker fruit character here. On the plate the fruit is a little redder and there is a nice crunch. 16.5-17

Psi 2012 – Now the blend has 10% Garnacha (also old vine) and this adds a little more texture and flesh. More lifted, fresher, more nervous (a positive), there is more energy and a lovely completeness to the fruit. A gem. 17.5+

Psi 2013 – The same blend as the 2012. A vintage that Peter described as being “north atlantic”, cooler and a shade wetter in other words. This is crunchier and more on the red fruit – cranberry and rhubarb too. A more “feminine” expression. Earlier drinker. 16.5-17

Psi 2014 – This again has the same blend. We tasted this in June and the bottling was due to be in July so it is a task sample. A richer bolder wine, this is a very fine vintage, very long and succulent, a Psi to give a little age to. 17.5-18

Psi 2015 – Same blend, obviously a tank sample. Deeper, arterial colour, very primary and lively, very vibrant compote fruits, black but lifted. A more extrovert style than the 2014 but maybe not so serious, whilst bold I think this will drink before the 2014.

It was a cracking tasting and while we could have included the 2007, 2008 and 2009 it was probably right to really look at 6 vintages. Also the 2007 and 2008 were a slightly different, less fruited style.

Rocheyron Dinner – Corney and Barrow HQ in London

We started this dinner with Macon Verze 2014 from Domaines Leflaive – in many ways the Macon Verze wine (first vintage 2004) has been a similar venture for Domaine Leflaive to that of Psi for Peter. The 2014 is delicious combining a bit of both the seriousness of the 2014 vintage with the generosity of the Maconnais region. (I actually had a magnum of it (with friends!) two nights ago and it is just delicious). We put together a simple menu to accompany the Verze and then three vintages from Rocheyron.

Hot smoked salmon & tiger prawn ravioli, dill champagne cream
Pan Seared Beef Fillet, tender broccoli, watercress, carrots, jersey royals
Caerphilly served with celery, grapes, biscuits & bread

Some rough stats on Rocheyron – 8.45ha in surface area, on limestone, planted 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc at 6,000 vines/ha and an average age of about 45yrs. The maturation is circa 14 months in a mix of new (30-45%) and older oak. There is a second wine, La Fleur de Rocheyron made most years. No Rocheyron was made in 2013 – it was all classified as “La Fleur”. Peter and Silvio Denz took on the property from June 2010 so whilst Peter made the 2010 he is quite clear that he didn’t really “grow it”.

Rocheyron 2010 – This wine was made at Chateau Faugeres just down the road. The wine is rich, quite full and with a slightly animal side to it to my mind. It has some of the excess of the vintage. Will be interesting to follow this.

Rocheyron 2011 – There are very few estates in Bordeaux that made a 2011 that comes close to their 2010 let alone surpasses it as Peter has done here. This wine has more energy and more drive, the fruit is fresher too. The first full season gave the team a chance to embrace more and more of the principles and practices of Biodynamics.

Rocheyron 2012 – What Peter describes is his usual self-deprecating way as the “first good vintage of Rocheyron”. Merlot was king in 2012 and it shows, there is a lovely plumpness to this but not in anyway any flabbiness. It drinks well even now as it is balanced. The fruit being fresh and black with good acidity.

Lunch at The Ledbury

This was a lunch with Greg and James as well as a Danish customer of theirs who was very keen to meet Peter. We were well looked after, as ever, at the Ledbury.

Salon 1997 – This is never a bad way to start anything. The wine is, to me, now in a lovely phase, a little salinity to it but also a generous and, for Salon anyway, quite extrovert yellow, almost tropical, fruit.

Rocheyron 2012 – Showed well again, it was lovely to follow it over a few hours in a big glass.

Pingus 2013 – So primary and vibrant, lush even, cream and compote, a real energy and lift. Almost like a sample in its energy and vibrancy. Served blind I would have been very confused. Clearly a vintage where things had to be done in a tender way.

Pingus 2000 – Lovely mellow fruits, terrific but correct concentration, persistent and airy but at the same time intense, in third or fourth gear. If you had the foresight to buy this then you have done well. You should certainly have some soon as it is delicious and softening nicely.

We were lucky to get a look around the kitchen (which is minute!) – a delicious lunch.

Dinner at ’34’ Mayfair

As Peter spoke before this dinner I learnt something I never knew. Peter was due to go to work at Ridge in California under the tutorship of Paul Draper when the call came in with the opportunity to work at Haceinda Monasterio in Ribera…how different things might have been…

Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV kicked us off before we sat down to a well prepared menu of:

Braised Octopus, iberico croquette and padron peppers

Rack of cornish lamb, provencal vegetables, smoked aubergine and nicoise sauce

Berwick edge cheese

The wines were in served in a 2-2-1 formation with a pair of Psi’s first; Psi 2011 & Psi 2012. They drank really well, exactly as tasted the previous day. The 2011 a little more extreme and structured the 2012 more mellow but persistent and fleshy, I really love the 2012.

We then had a pair of Flor de Pingus’ – the 1996 and the 2006. The Flor de Pingus 1996 is a wine I have had a lot of enjoyment with and fun from down the years. The most recent instance being this dinner. I have always thought it was the first vintage of “Flor” then followed by the 1999 and made each year since (the 2002 in noteworthy as there is no Pingus) but actually there was a Flor made in 1995. It though lies at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay with the the U.S. allocation of Pingus…The 1996 is a tender and fully mature wine with a decaying sweetness and a lovely mellow maturity, I love it. Flor de Pingus 2006 is one of the very best Flors in my opinion, it is just starting to really strut it’s stuff, rich, quite opulent but with a lovely savouriness.

With the Cheese we finished the other wines as well as introducing people to Château Rocheyron 2012.

A whirlwind couple of days! With the wines and vintages (2015 & 2016) that follow those shown here all very encouraging (having tasted them recently) all Peter’s rushing around is looking like time rather well spent! Bravo!

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