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.
Earlier this week Lou and I attended the 2013 Robert Kacher Selections Spring Portfolio Tasting in Washington, DC. The tasting was held at the historic Patterson Mansion on Dupont Circle which is the clubhouse for the 19th century Washington Club. There was a large number of wines available to taste representing that of several dozen domains mostly from all over France. Between the two of us we tasted many wines and wrote down many notes. For the first post I have decided to concentrate on three domains whose winemakers were present at the tasting. I first met Diane de Puymorin of Château d’Or et de Gueules and Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart of Domaine Ehrhart at last year’s portfolio tasting. You may read about last year’s event in my series of posts The Robert Kacher Spring 2012 Portfolio Tasting. This year I met Jean-Hubert Lebreton of Domaine des Rochelles. I spent extra time with each of them learning more about the wines I was tasting and the domains they came from.
Château d’Or et de Gueules
Château d’Or et de Gueules is an older estate which was purchased by Diane de Puymorin in 1998. Originally named Domaine de la Petite Cassagne she carved out a new estate named after her family crest. She planted an additional 30 acres of vines made up of some Syrah and all of the white varietals. She kept the ten hectares of 80 year old Carignan and nine hectares of 90 year old Mourvedre. She has also planted some more Mourvedre. The vineyards are located in the far south-east of Costières de Nîmes so they are influenced by a maritime climate. Diane feels this gives her wines a certain freshness. The old-vines are goblet trained and all of the vines are on soils of round pebbles. She planted grass between the vines for competition but this was not really necessary for her vineyards. She is two years into the organic certification process so she does not use any chemicals. She uses fruit from her old-vine Mourvedre and Carignan in all of her wines. She employs carbonic maceration for the Carignan because it is naturally too tannic so she wants to make it more elegant and avoid over extraction.
2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Les Cimels, Costières de Nîmes -
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 30% old-vine Carignan, and 10% Grenache. The varietals were fermented separately, the Carignan underwent carbonic maceration. It was aged in tank. There was a light, expressive nose. In the mouth there was some initial vigor before citric, red fruit mixed with plenty of tannins. There was some gentle acidity.
2011 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Trassegum, Costières de Nîmes -
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 25% old-vine Carignan, and 25% old-vine Mourvedre. The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration. The wine was aged one year in barrel and some time in tank. The nose bore higher-toned aromas and berries. In the mouth there were old-school flavors of red fruit. The tannins eventually smoothed out as red raspberry flavors came out along with some textured, ripe tannins.
2011 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costières de Nîmes -
This wine is 100% Carignan of which 80% underwent Carbonic maceration and 20% by pigeage. It was then aged for six months in used oak barrels. The flavors were perfumed with grip and a little red candy. There was a graphite structure with drying tannins in the aftertaste.
2009 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Cuvee La Bolida, Costières de Nîmes -
This wine is a blend of 90% old-vine Mourvedre and 10% Grenache which was aged for 18 months in French oak. There was a subtle but interesting nose. In the mouth the flavors were dense, smooth and approachable. The structure slowly came out and mixed with somewhat juicy acidity. There was a little berry perfume in the finish along with good tannins. Clearly, my favorite of the quartet.
Domaine Ehrhart (Domaine Saint-Rémy in Europe)
Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart were present at the tasting. Domaine Ehrhart first started producing Chardonnay in 1981. It is not allowed in the other wines so all of the production is use in their Crément d’Alsace. The first white wine I tasted, the Pinot Auxerrois is sourced from a vineyard near the Chardonnay vineyard. Pinot Auxerrois produces smaller berries than Pinot Blanc. This fact combined with the granite soils provides a wine of good complexity. This wine spends 6-8 weeks on the lees. The 2011 vintages was completely sold out so to meet demand the 2012 vintage was bottled earlier, just two weeks ago. It is not possible to bottle the 2012 Rieslings because they started fermenting in October, shutdown in December due to the cold, and have only just started fermenting again. All of the fruit is picked by hand and slowly pressed in one of two pneumatic presses. Each cycle takes five to eight hours. The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeast and remains in stainless steel. Philippe likes to preserve freshness in his wine hence his use of stainless steel. He does, however, use oak with his Pinot Noir. Because they have vineyards in 11 different villages they employ some 47 or 48 different sized stainless steel tanks to keep everything separate The wines are filtered about three weeks before bottling.
Corinne is constantly replanting parcels in the vineyards. For example, she just replanted two in Herrenberg. The replanting is done in small groups because it takes four years before the parcel will produce suitable fruit again. They grow grass between the rows of vines. Typically they have plowed one side and let the grass on the other side grow. This year Philippe is going to try a new method. When it is rainy he is going to cut the grass to encourage it to grow and absorb the moisture. When it is dry he is going to let the grass flower. Then he will come out with his lawn roller and roll all of the grass down. There has been a lot of rain lately so the ground is saturated and soft. So soft that he cannot yet get into the vineyards with his tractor for fear of damage.
The tasting finished with the 2005, Gewurztraminer, Sélection de Grains Nobles. This is a wine produced from grapes affected by botrytis or noble rot. The conditions for this wine occur approximate once every ten years at Domaine Ehrhart. They are incredibly labor intensive wines because the fruit is harvested berry by berry. 2012 was not a vintage for any late harvesting because there were too many fall rains.
NV Domaine Ehrhart, Crément d’Alsace -
This wine is 100% Chardonnay produced by Methode Traditionnelle. There was an apple, yeasty nose. In the mouth there was a vibrant start with apple flavors making way to berries. The acidity was noticeable on the lips as the bubbles burst in to a very soft mousse.
2012 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Auxerrois, Val St Gregoire -
This There was a light, focused nose. In the mouth there was richer fruit with nice weight. The flavors took on ripe tea and herbs as it became creamy with integrated acidity.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes -
This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from 28 year old vines sourced from different parcels, most in Rosenberg. There was a tight, yellow nose. In the mouth were concentrated berry, fruity flavors before drying out with stone notes. There was acidity from the start along with good texture. This should develop well.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Herrenweg -
This is 100% Riesling sourced from 35 year old vines sourced from two parcels located on alluvial soils mixed with stones. There was a pretty, floral, berry nose. It had a richness but showed good vigor to the berry fruit. This was highly textured and almost chewy. There were long, ripe tannins in the aftertaste.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Grand Cru Schlossberg -
This is 100% Riesling sourced from soils with more granite. There was a light nose of articulate white and yellow aromas. The mouth bore weight to the yellow, flora, and dried herb fruit flavors. The acidity was more noticeable at first then the flavors expanded in the mouth with ripe texture and lots of mouthfeel.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Gris, Im Berg -
This is 100% Pinot Gris sourced from parcels on soils of granite west of Val St. Gregoire, though it is more of a hill than a mountain. There was weighty with rich white and yellow fruit, the biggest wine yet. The was texture and underlying acidity.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Noir -
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from Rosenberg raised in 90% stainless steel and 10% oak barrels. The nose bore Pinot Noir aromas with black, red, and mineral notes. The flavors had some density and were very focused. It was a touch saline with an interesting mineral finish.
2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Gewurztraminer, Herrenweg -
This was full-bore Gewurztraminer being the weightiest and richest yet. The flavors followed the nose with the addition of residual sugar and fresh, black tea.
2005 Domaine Ehrhart, Gewurztraminer, Sélection de Grains Nobles -
This wine had some lovely, botrytis fragrance and remained articulate In the mouth the flavors were racy and honied with baking spices, glycerin to the mouthfeel, and a fresh, long aftertaste. There was a little cider flavor. It was certainly special.
Domaine des Rochelles
Domaine des Rochelles was founded in the 1890s. Today it is run by 4th generation Jean-Hubert Lebreton who is named after both of his grandfathers. The domaine is located near the town of St Jean des Mauvrets and is comprised of 60 hectares of vines. It was Jean-Hubert’s great-grandfather who started the estate and specialized as a negocient for rosé wine. Anjou use to export a large volume of rosé so this was a traditional focus at the time. It was his grandfather who first started selling wine directly. Cabernet Sauvignon was often used for rosé production. Around 1960 Jean-Hubert’s father tried Cabernet Sauvignon from a small producer and liked what he tasted. In 1962 his grandfather brought back Cabernet Sauvignon massal selections from Bordeaux and planted a vineyard. In Anjou Cabernet Sauvignon was typically planted at the bottom of the hills below the Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc would bud while there were still morning frosts on the bottom of the hill. Since Cabernet Sauvignon buds later than Cabernet Franc it was not affected by the frost. However, these lower sites had deep soils which produced low-quality fruit which was destined for rosé production.
The domaine has several types of soils so Jean-Hubert’s grandfather and father were careful where they planted the vines. They also opened the Caveau at the same time. This is a small tasting room, lined with bottles on the wall, where people may come to taste the wines for free. In the 1970s they brought a consulting oenologist form the Libournne, Didier Coutenceau. By 1975 they received their first medal for a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine. To this day Didier Coutenceau still works with the domaine. There are now 28 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 hectares of Cabernet Franc, 6 hectares of Grolleau, and 6 hectares of white varietals. They are working towards an organic conversion. The vineyards have been expanded and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon since then. All of these vines are massal selections from the original 1962 vineyard. Since they have some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Anjou many research scientists have come to take massal selections. The vine rows are spaced two meters apart with one meter of grass in between.
The domaine ferments in epoxy lined concrete vats. They do not use pump-overs instead they have been employing submerged cap fermentation since the 1970s. Basically, a perforated layer is placed half-way down the vat which keeps the cap in constant contact. This slow process prevents too many tannins from being extracted. The La Croix de Mission is a cuvee which was started by Jean-Hubert’s grandfather and father. Jean-Hubert started the cuvée Les Mellerits. The fruit from this parcel is a brute so Jean-Hubert employs barriques to tame the wine.
2012 Domaine des Rochelles, L’Ardoise, Anjou -
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from slate soils. The wine was aged There was a very fresh nose of purple fruit. The flavors were sappy in the mouth with tannins in the structure. The wine takes on tart red flavors, a little weight came out followed by young and attractive tannins. This was easy to drink. Jean-Hubert recommends drinking this within five years.
2011 Domaine des Rochelles, La Croix de Mission, Anjou Villages Brissac -
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from an average of 25 year old vines on white quartz and decomposed schist soils. The wine was aged for one year in stainless steel tanks. The expressive nose smells like rocks. There were youthful flavors, a floral midpalate, and structure for age. Jean-Hubert recommends decanting now for four hours and drinking within ten years.
2009 Domaine des Rochelles, Les Mellerits, Anjou Villages Brissac -
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from an average of 30 year old vines on soils of decomposed yellow schist with less water. This was aged for one year in 33% new, 33% one year old, and 33% two year old oak barrels. The fruit was different than before with licorice notes. The flavors were purple and black with confidence and a serious, core of fruit. I would cellar this a few years before drinking. Jean-Hubert recommends decanting now for four hours and drinking within ten years.