This spring I had the chance to taste a wine with a rather interesting history which arrived at MacArthur Beverages through the relationships of Tommy Shimokado. Tommy works at MacArthur Beverages and belongs to the youth program Escuela de Lidarzgo. Through this program he met Antonia Blanco who has ties with several Catholic institutions in Spain one of which produces wine. As Tommy works at a wine store a bottle was dispatched from the Cisterciense Orden Cardeña, Monasterio de San Pedro Cardeña. The Monastery was founded at the end of the 9th century and has been producing wine since the 10th century. This appears to make it the oldest commercial winery with residing religious monks. The wine production has not been consistent having recently started again in 1965. At the time the late Abbot Padre Sergio followed a Vatican ruling allowing the vow of silence to be broken so that the production of wine could resume.
The Monastery of San Pedro de Cardena is located some 125 miles north of Madrid in the village of Castillo de Val. The monastery and vineyard are not located within the closest Denominacion de Origen Controlada (DOC). As a result the bottles do not bear a vintage date nor a classification, though there was a lot number on our bottle with the vintage. The monastery does have a vineyard located at 1,000 meters but they had difficulty ripening the fruit. Thus the wine is mainly produced using purchased fruit and wine from Rioja. The wine is racked every six months. I tasted this wine right after the cork was pulled. It tastes like a traditional, old-school Tempranillo based wine. Once it is available I shall try it again to see how it develops with air. This wine is not yet available in the United States as it is typically sold from the wine shop at the monastery. Phil and Tommy are working with a local importer to bring the wine to MacArthur Beverages.
1998 Monasterio de San Pedro Cardeña, Valdevegon – 9 Euros in Spain
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha which was aged for two years in American oak. Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a medium garnet. The nose bore old-school aromas, black fruit, and a little earth. In the mouth there was drier fruit with a dry nature to the wine. The acidity was balanced. There were old wood notes, some tannins, and in the brief time I tasted the wine it started to put on weight.
William Allen’s first commercial release of Two Shepherds wine was with the 2010 vintage. I recently tasted through four of his wines from his second vintage, the challenging 2011. I was particularly impressed by the 2011 Pastoral Blanc and the 2011 Grenache. The 2011 Pastoral Blanc was best after the first night. It was a humble but confident wine which continued to reward until the end of the bottle. The 2011 Grenache was beautifully aromatic from the start and a unique example of the varietal. It was a bit tighter in the mouth so I suspect it will benefit from several months in the cellar. I am amazed at how William can produce such good wine right away. I suggest you order some of his wine to find out yourself. These wines were ordered directly from Two Shepherds.
2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in neutral French oak barrels, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged on the lees in a combination of oak and stainless steel. Alcohol 13.8%. The color was a very light straw. The nose was not-quite piercing with aromas of white fruit and citrus. There was a fresh start in the mouth with white fruit that rode the acidity. There was a little acidity on the tongue tip. The wine slowly built texture and flavors of stone. There was a long aftertaste of expansive flavors, rounding out as it warmed up. Youthful with many fine tartrates. *** Now-2015.
2011 Two Shepherds, Pastoral Blanc, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, and 10% Grenache Blanc which was fermented then aged on the lees in oak. Alcohol 13.8%. The color was a light, gold straw. The nose revealed tropical hints and weighty floral aromas. In the mouth there was crisp white and yellow fruit which quickly took on some weight. The tropical flavors turned towers white tropical flowers with minerals in the finish. There was a very fine texture and ripe spice flavors before the flavors built up in intensity during the aftertaste. This wine reacts well to air and develops good length. *** Now-2015.
2011 Two Shepherds, Syrah, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is mostly Syrah, with some Viognier lees and stems, which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose revealed ripe, scented lemon and fresh fruit. In the mouth there was a bright start with flavors that were tart on the tongue and somewhat lively. It remained tight and young with tart red fruit and a woodsy finish. Potential. **(*) 2015-2019.
2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is 100% Grenache which was 15% whole cluster fermented in small open top bins then aged for 10 months in neutral French oak. Alcohol 13.9%. The was a complex and expressive nose of lifted berry notes, cardamom, orange peel, and fresh, mixed “not mint” herbs. In the mouth there was a little tart red fruit which was kind of firm. The orange peel notes returned in this fresh wine which showed some midpalate weight. This showed best on the second night becoming tighter on the third night. *** 2014-2018.
I first drank the 1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block Shiraz at ten years of age (Please see my post Inaugural Aussie hammers and Abattoir). Around the same time I also drank the 1998 Maxwell, Grenache, McLaren Vale (Please see my post Six Aussies Including the Tasty 1998 Maxwell Grenache). These were much different from the rich, ripe, and alcoholic Australian wines I often tasted. I do remember taking the Rosabrook to Shane’s house for a blind tasting. It was particularly earthy and meaty, people thought it was an Old World wine with most not liking it. But we did. From my emails I see that we bought more of each. The common thread between these two wines is that they were imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Twelve years ago Peter Weygandt imported both French and Australian wine with the later represented by twenty different wineries. Today the portfolio is still heavy on the French wine but only one Australian winery is still on the list, that of The Gatekeeper. So if you see his older wines in a store it might be worth the gamble.
Rosabrook Estate was founded in 1980 with Simon Keall the winemaker for the wine featured in this post. The early wines were produced using fruit from a 7 hectare vineyard planted with nine different varietals. The cellar door was Margaret River’s first commercial abattoir built-in the 1930s. The James Halliday Australian Wine Companion books list “Slaughterhouse Block” so “Abattoir Block” might have been the American name. The winery relocated its vineyard in 2007 so this wine is no longer produced. Last week there were three bottles of this wine left. If you are at all curious then I would grab one right away. It is still drinking really well and is ultimately a satisfying, flavorful drink. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block Shiraz, Margaret River – $39
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Shiraz aged in both American and French oak. Alcohol. The color was a medium garnet-cherry which shows its age. The nose was a little scented with spices, roast, red, and blue fruits. In the mouth there was still a core of ripe red and blue fruit. It mixed with woodbox flavors which were perfectly balanced by the acidity. There were spices, a hint of tobacco, and a little smoke which nicely set off the blue/black fruit. It eventually revealed meaty flavors with air and a little, tangy orange citrus. It maintained its acidity throughout. *** Now-2018.
The Domaine de la Mordorée, Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape is a top cuvée which is normally priced beyond my budget. I recently bought the last bottle from the 1996 vintage at an attractive dump-bin price. This wine is listed on the domaine website as a vintage to drink now, specifically by 2009. I found that the wine itself has the robust stuffing to easily last another decade. The flavors are dominated by meat, smoke, and roast notes. Though the red fruit is still present and the wine ultimately satisfying, I do agree that this is a wine which should be drunk up. This wine was available at MacArthur Beverages.
1996 Domaine de la Mordorée, Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape -
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 2.5% Counoise, and 2.5% Vaccarese sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age. The fruit was destemmed then aged in a mixture of oak barrels and enameled steel tanks. Alcohol 14%. The nose was full of meat, smoke, and mushrooms. In the mouth there was moderate weight to the flavors of meat, smoke, and controlled, dense red fruit. There was some tartness on the sides of the mouth. With air the wine proved to be robust with roast notes and no great complexity. The aftertaste brought similar flavors along with ripe tannins. *** Now-2023.
The wines of Domaine et Selection are vinified, aged, and bottled at Domaine De Marcoux by Sophie Armenier. However, they are not Domaine Marcoux wines. They are produced using fruit from a 1 hectare vineyard of old-vine Grenache in the northwest corner of Chateauneuf du Pape. Jenn and I had drunk a bottle of the 1999 many years ago so I limited experience with the wines. I have lately heard from several people that the 2001 vintage was drinking really well and strongly priced. A trio of vintages are still available so over two nights we tried all three. The 1999 is the most mature and the most affordable. It is a wine for drinking now in one go. The 2000 was the most opulent and powerful, tasting like a wine from a warm vintage. The 2001 lived up to the hype. It is a beautiful and approachable wine which continued to develop as if slowly feeding off of some internal energy. I would buy several bottles of the 2001 while this it is still available. I would like to thank Sophie Armenier for answering my questions. I will update this post with any additional information. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
1999 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $24
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14%. The color was a light+ medium garnet. The nose is of higher-pitched red fruit and roast. The mouth follows with similar high-pitched red fruit which is still very much alive but shows maturity with the developing roast flavors. There were ripe spices, and almost coarse textured ripe tannins. It is a wine for now and rank best on the first night. ** Now.
2000 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $34
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15%. The color was a light to medium cherry in the core surrounded by garnet. There was a nose of firmer fruit, lipstick and subtle bramble berry aromas. In the mouth there was weighty ripe fruit, minerally red and black flavors, and a little vibrant acidity. It was mouthfilling with power and a strong core of fruit. The flavors mixed with cinnamon baking spices as well as integrated acidity and structure. All of the components are there with nice fruit and perhaps a hint of warmth. *** Now-2017.
1999 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15%. The color was a light to medium consistent garnet. The nose was earthy and of mulberries. In the mouth there was more of a berry quality to the fruit, some roundness with a youthful manner. It had more vigor and showed seriousness as it fleshed out with air. It clearly gained depth with air showing expansive flavors and persistence. ***(*) Now-2023.
Ryme Cellars was founded by Ryan and Megan Glaab in 2007 followed by the introduction of Verse Wine in 2011. The Ryme wines tend to feature Italian varietals whereas the Verse wines have featured the more popular varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In exploring these new wines I decided to pick one from each line. I first opened the 2011 Verse, Pinot Noir. At first it was flirting along a style of wine which is, quite honestly, not my favorite. But then on the second night it relaxed and expressed that it should develop into something interesting. My favorite of the pair is the 2011 Ryme, His Vermentino. I had no clue what to expect from a skin-contact Vermentino from California so it was with complete curiosity that I poured my first glass. The skin-contact is certainly exhibited but it is nothing extreme, instead it adds complexity and character. I drank the bottle over a week, one glass at a time. It showed best on the second and third nights with one glass at a time proving to be quite engaging. I am still curious to try more. These wines were purchased directly from Ryme Cellars.
2011 Ryme Cellars, His, Vermentino, Las Brisas Vineyard, Carneros – $32
This wine is 100% Vermentino which was crushed by foot, whole cluster fermented with the skins for two weeks, pressed to barrel then aged for ten months. Alcohol 11.9%. The color was a light+ nutty yellow which was slightly cloudy. The light nose was of rich, honied aromas which took on orange and tropical notes followed by fragrant flowers. In the mouth there was ripe fruit with vibrant acidity before the wine became so smooth and seamless. It left powdery, ripe flavors in the aftertaste. With air it maintained a gentle texture and fine aftertaste but developed hints of stones. Lovely to smell. *** Now – 2015.
2011 Verse Wines, Pinot Noir, Las Brisas Vineyards, Carneros – $28
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was mostly destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 12.9%. The nose stood out with grapey aromas of red fruit and a little Pilsner. In the mouth the flavors were vibrant art first with tart red fruit on the tongue tip. It was youthful with primary, grapey fruit, yellow citrus notes, crunchy acidity, and some baking spices. It tasted more like a “natural wine” on the first night but that dissipated a bit on the second night as it fleshed out and took on more spices. **(*) 2014-2018.
I have long been a fan of Domaine La Garrigue. Last month Jenn and I tasted these two new Vacqueyras from the 2010 vintage. These are both wines which should readily drink over the next decade. My bottle of the base Vacqueyras was showing very young so I would just stick it in your cellar instead of trying a bottle. The La Cantarelle was a little more approachable and more complex. I would certainly pick up at least one bottle but be sure to give it at least three hours in a decanter if you must try it now. With the 2010 vintage the yields of the old-vine Grenache were down 50% so there was an increase in Syrah for La Cantarelle. Many thanks to Philippe Cambie , the consulting oenologist, for his answers. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2010 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras – $22
Imported by Eric Solomon Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault sourced from 70-year-old vines which was aged in concrete tanks. Alcohol 14.5%. The Light nose revealed raspberry candy. In the mouth this wine is definitely young with immediate structure that coats the lips with very fine tannins. There were raspberry candy flavors, good acidity and some blue and black fruit as well. There is significant structure but the flavor has counterbalancing weight. The flavors turn towards Kirsch in the finish with some very fine tannins in the aftertaste. Over two nights this remained compact and serious so it is best left in the cellar for now. **(*) 2016-2026.
2010 Domaine La Garrigue, La Cantarelle, Vacqueyras – $27
Imported by Eric Solomon Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah sourced from 100+ year old vines. It was aged for 24 months in concrete tanks. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium dark, ruby garnet. The nose was rather subtle with red fruit, Kirsch, and some berries. In the mouth there were focused, old-school flavors which had some ripeness and appropriate weight. There were very fine, citric tannins. After several hours of air this started to opened up to reveal some savory fruit and spices. ***(*) 2015-2025.