The latest vintage of the Calder Wine Company Charbono sports a slightly different label but still offers unique flavors. Both the 2009 and 2011 vintages offered up earthy flavors. However, the 2009 vintage was meaty and the 2011 vintage showed more acidity and vintage perfume. These vintages clearly reveal how different Charbono tastes and in my mind that makes this an essential wine to try. This wine was purchased at The Wine Source in Baltimore.
2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Charbono sourced from 44 year old, dry farmed vines that were fermented in small, open-topped bins. It was aged for 18 months in 85% neutral oak and one new French puncheon. Alcohol 12.1% The nose revealed high-toned aromas of herbs. In the mouth were flavors of tart red fruit then dry black flavors came out simultaneously as the acidity built. There were consistent flavors of subtle earthy and vintage perfume. Though the wine was light in flavor it had some controlled ripe fruit as well. The flavors fell a bit short in the finish only to have the vintage perfume return in the aftertaste. Unusual. ** Now-2018.
Some of you may recall that I have an interest in wine related tables which is reflected in such posts as A Visual History of Wine Gauging Tables. This interest led me to Heinrich Wilhelm Dahlen’s book Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau (1885) that is full of viticultural statistics for the Rheingau and other areas. Though these statistics caught my eye, it was the colorful vintage chart for the former Duchy of Nassau that stood out in the otherwise stark and dry book. The chart is fascinating for several reasons. First, it covers the vintages of 1682 through 1884. I do not yet know of any vintage chart that describes both quantity and quality of wine-yield for 17th century vintages. If you are aware of one then please let me know. Second, to describe quantity and quality it employs a color-coded bar chart where the color indicates the quality and the width of the bar indicates the quantity.
The chart is assembled based on several sources of information. On inspection you will notice slight format changes but the overall idea is consistent. There are four quality levels indicated: vorzüglich (excellent), gut (good) , mittelmäßig (fair), and Gering und schlecht (poor and low). The quality levels are color coded: vorzüglich (red), gut (green), mittelmäßig (brown), and Gering und schlecht (gray). The quantity of the wine is indicated in two manners. For the years 1682-1829, specific quantities were not available so the bar widths are fixed. The quantities are verbally described using such terms as echt viel for a large quantity. For 1830 through 1884 specific quantities were available so the width of the bar directly correlated with the amount. Thus with a quick glance you can see that the vintages of 1834, 1846, and 1868 were both of the highest quality and produced in the largest quantity. After 1868 there was a string of poor vintages with that of 1875 surely flooding the market.
Dahlen, Heinrich Wilhelm. Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau. 1885. dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz. URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/94715
During a recent search through European archives I came across fascinating images in Joseph Goerge’s Der Rotweinbau an der Ahr (1928).  A portion of this book chronicles the creation of a new vineyard. This process involved clearing an oak forest, blasting out sections of hillside, building terraces, manuring the soil, and planting the vines. A phenomenal amount of labor was required! I have selected a subset of the images for this post. Please click on an image for higher resolution or visit the links I have provided for the best quality.
 Goerges, Joseph. Der Rotweinbau an der Ahr. 1928. dlibri Rheinland-Pfalz. URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/527793
These are several solid wines in this post that deliver regional character at an affordable price. Of those still available I would recommend the 2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone and the 2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant. Chances are you have seen this pair of wines before so I want to bring the 2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia to your attention. Tetramythos is a young winery having produced their first wine in 1999 and completed the winery in 2004. I had never tried a wine made from Mavro Kalavritino nor from the Achaia region so I was excited to find I enjoyed this wine. I was particularly attracted to evocations of wild scrubland herbs in the aromas and the flavors. I recommend you try this wine and there really is no excuse not to, it is afterall, only $11. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 Andre Brunel, Cuvee Sabrine, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $13
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvedre. Alcohol 14%. The nose bore some blackberry aromas. In the mouth were somewhat compact black fruit flavors, gentle spices, and fresh fruit acidity. It became more robust in the middle with fine tannins in the finish and a dry aftertaste. It opened up with air to show some roundness, a touch of earthy flavors complemented by garrigue, wood, and leather. **(*) 2015-2022.
2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant – $12
Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars. Alcohol 14%. There were dense fruit aromas on the nose. In the mouth were dense flavors that leaned towards the red spectrum before becoming black and dry. With air the earthiness reduced but it did show some complexity with a little cherry note in the finish. There was some extract, a little salivating acidity. A solid wine. ** Now-2018.
2008 Mercer Estates, Merlot, Columbia Valley – $18
The nose was a modern blend of fruit and chocolate. In the mouth were flavors of controlled ripe fruit, chocolate powder, and hints of both greenhouse and spiciness. There were fine, ripe, powdery tannins and some acidity. This wine had decent flavors for the profile and should remain at this plateau for years. ** Now-2018.
2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Potomac Selections. Alcohol 13%. The dark red aromas and macerated berries made way to mixed flavors of red and blue fruit. The fruit tastes young. The wine had some minerals, good acidity, and moderate structure which was left on the gums. It had a bit of everything but remained a little tight over two nights. I would wait a few more months before drinking. ** Now-2018.
2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia – $11
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 13%. The attractive nose smelled of scrubland and became a little sweaty. In the mouth were dark red fruit flavors. This was a lighter wine with a dry flavors before a gentle, textured ripeness. There were flavors of wild herbs that mixed with a sense of maturity and watering acidity before the dry finish. This solid wine took up plum and cocoa flavors in the persistent aftertaste. ** Now-2015.
2011 Valley Vintners, Trianguli, Bouquet, Danubian Plain – $19
Imported by Parallel 43 Selection. This is made from 100% Bouquet which is a crossing between Mavrud and Pinot Noir. Alcohol 13%. The nose bore dark fruit and tightened up with air. In the mouth were modern, black fruit flavors, a hint of black tea, and a citric note in the finish. This is a solid wine that should be aged for several months before trying. *(*) 2014-2018.
The 2013 Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz, Spatburgunder Rosé, Trocken, Pfalz is a rather different wine from the 2013 Weingut Meyer-Näkel, Spatburgunder Rose, Ahr. Instead of substantive fruit, it has dry, cherry fruit with a citrus hint. This ties in well with the beautifully tense acidity which is for me, a hallmark of German wine. At this price you could consider it a rosé to drink over the week or a special wine for the weekend. Either way, add this to your list of wines to try. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz, Spatburgunder Rosé, Trocken, Pfalz – $27
Imported by Rudi Wiest. This wine is 100% organic Spatburgunder sourced from limestone soils. The free-run juice fermented in stainless steel. Alcohol 11.5%. The color was a light to medium intensity of copper and dried rose petals. There were delicate aromas of ripe florals. In the mouth were dry, cherry flavors, a lemon hint, and tense acidity. The acidity continued on the front sides of the tongue before the wine eventually rounded out. There was a pleasing chalky note perhaps influenced by the limestone soils, before the attractive, lip-smacking finish. *** Now-2016.
I am always on the look out for a wine from the Canary Islands but I rarely spot a bottle for they have not caught on in the Washington, DC market. This might be due to the slight premium in price, no doubt aided by the extra shipping logistics. I am willing to pay this premium because I find the flavors unique. Jancis Robinson wrote about these wines in her February article The Canaries – where vines, and wines, creep up on you. She even noted that Canary Island wines were “hugely popular in Britain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries” as evidenced by their inclusion in Twelfth Night. But what was it that made those wines so popular?
During the 17th century the most popular wine from the Canary Islands was the sweet, white Malmsey. John Paige was a London merchant who developed a trade during the 1640s and 1650s importing “luxury wine from Tenerife”. Amazingly, his business letters with his trading associate William Clerke survived from the years 1648 to 1658. These letters provide fascinating details about the Canary wine trade. John Paige wrote on May 28, 1649, that of the 11 pipes he received the “Rambla wines proved white and green, but the Orotava wines proved the richest Canaries that ever came to England”. In a previous letter he noted the Orotava vintage was “extraordinary rich but high colour.” Unfortunately the vintners were afraid to purchase them because they believed they had “put molasses in them and that they were not natural from the grape.” John Paige continued to his agent that “now our vintners are grown so curious in their tastes that none but rare wines will serve their terms.” He noted the price difference “betwixt ordinary and very good wines ” exceeded “£4 or £5 per pipe.” That is a significant difference given that he had sold the 11 pipes at £20 5s ready money. One well received parcel was later described as containing “gallant rich wines”. Two years later John Paige wrote that the wines of Mr. Rouse and Mr. Audley respectively sold for £27 and £29 per pipe. This was a suitable price given that “they were the best wines” he had ever tasted.
Not every wine that John Paige imported was well received. On January 8, 1652, he noted that other merchants were selling at £29 and £30 per pipe. He struggled to sell his wine at £18 per pipe for “no man’s prove [so bad as] mine, insomuch that no man will taste them.” We may guess what these unfavorable wines tasted like based on other comment by John Paige. These bad wines were “generally green”, “small, hungry wines”, and even “mean wines, green and thin bodies and flashy”  Even “better bodied wines…were bad enough both, being very green”. When John Paige could not sell merchandise he wrote of the “goods here are drugs, no vent at all for them”. He received bad wine from William Clerke on a number of occasions writing him that “You are not fully sensible” for the good wines were “a precious commodity” and “bad wines as great a drug.”
Today, it is the dry, red wines that I look for. In Jancis Robinson’s article she comments that “most interesting was a visit to the painstakingly assembled” vineyards of Suertes del Marqués. Just a few days ago Jenn and I tasted the introductory blend from this estate, the 2012 Suertes del Marqués, 7 Fuentes, Valle de La Orotava, Tenerife. I was immediately drawn in by the exotically spiced nose that echoed through in the flavors. It really was curious. This wine was purchased at the Wine Source in Baltimore.
2012 Suertes del Marqués, 7 Fuentes, Valle de La Orotava, Tenerife – $20
Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars Selections. This wine is a blend of 98% Listan Negra and 2% Tintilla sourced from 10-100 year old vines from three parcels located at 400-650 meters. The fruit was separately fermented in stainless steel then aged for eight months in concrete and French oak casks. Alcohol 13%. The nose bore exotic aromas of scented red berries. In the mouth the red fruit had mineral undertones and was enlivened by a lot of acidity that made way to a spicy finish. There were tightly-ripe raspberry flavors, minerals, and a dry finish. The persistent aftertaste carried finely ripe flavors. *** Now-2017.
 ‘Introduction’, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. IX-XXXIX. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63981&strquery=canary wine Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
‘Letters: 1649′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 1-8. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63983&strquery=taste Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
 ‘Letters: 1650′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 8-31. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63984&strquery=rich Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
 ‘Letters: 1652′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 57-82. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63986&strquery=taste Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
 ‘Letters: 1653′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 82-99. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63987&strquery=mean Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
 ‘Letters: 1651′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 31-57. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63985&strquery=very green Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
 ‘Letters: 1651′, The letters of John Paige, London merchant, 1648-58: London Record Society 21 (1984), pp. 31-57. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63985&strquery=drug Date accessed: 18 July 2014.
A number of weeks ago Andy pointed out several more unique Californian blends. The 2009 JL Giguiere, Matchbook, Tinto Rey, Dunnigan Hills was one of them. This Tempranillo and Syrah blend is a little different with its inclusion of Tannat but it was the Graciano that caught my eye. You may recall that last summer I enjoyed a bottle of 2010 Indilico, Graciano, Snipes Mountain, Yakima Valley . I rarely see Graciano in American wines so I always look forward to trying them. We drank a bottle of the Tinto Rey right away and I was reminded of a darker Spanish-American hybrid. This seems like an appropriate reaction given Californian history. I kept buying more bottles with the intent of writing down a tasting note but we just kept drinking them. I finally managed to write down a note this weekend. This most recent bottle remained a bit tight but the dark, meaty nature was still attractive. And so is the price. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 JL Giguiere, Matchbook, Tinto Rey, Dunnigan Hills - $17
This wine is a blend of 40% Tempranillo, 33% Syrah, 19% Graciano, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Tannat. Alcohol 13.9%. The nose revealed compact aromas of meaty, black fruit. In the mouth the black fruit mixed with ripe red fruit and was seamlessly integrated with the acidity. There were ripe tannins in the finish and some woodbox notes followed by length in the aftertaste. This young wine has attractive flavors and should continue to unwind over the next year. *** Now-2018.