Lou came over last week so we could catch up and taste some wines. He had recently been in San Francisco where he drank interesting wines from Huet, Donkey & Goat, Clos Saron, Ferret, and Broc Cellars at such places at Locals Corner and Terroir. As attractive as his experience was we ended up having a pretty good night. The 2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent was in fine shape. It was showing maturity but not much complexity and was best drunk up on the first night. The 2009 Weingut Arachon T. FX. T. Evolution was an interesting wine. Weingut Arachon T. FX. T. was started as a joint venture between Tibor Szemes, F.X. Pichler, and Manfred Tement. After the passing of Tibor Szemes his widow jointed the venture. A cooperative of twenty-five growers provide their best Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is then produced at the Arachon winery. From both the first sniff and taste it is evident this is a serious wine meant to be aged. I suspect the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot give it a bit of heft. I would try this again in a few years when it might be even better. I stared at the back of the 2010 Rosso Azzurro, A Crush on Mt. Eta, Nerello Mascalese label for sometime. The graphics of the moon and lady bug looked familiar, even the font did. It turns out this wine is the project of Jean-Marc of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. There was pretty high-altitude volcanic fruit but the structure makes itself present and could use some integration. Perhaps this will happen in a few years. The 2007 I Custodi, Aetneus was a good wine. I seemed to have drunk it more for enjoyment than for taking notes. It was more athletic than the Rosso Azzurro and would work out well with food. Lastly are the pair of wines from La Stoppa. I recently tasted the 2010 La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso with Charles Gendrot of Williams Corner Wine. I must agree with Phil that particular bottle was a bit bretty and took some work to get through. This bottle was completely different and all about fresh and ripe red fruit. Enjoyable and well priced. I believe La Stoppa is a low sulphur winery so perhaps there will be some bottle variation. The 2007 La Stoppa, Barbera Della Stoppa was the more serious of the two. It showed more concentration and was also more rugged, perhaps the pure Barbera nature coming through. I would stick this in the cellar and drink the Trebbiolo Rosso in the mean time. As always Lou and I split the leftover wine making sure to inject a good dose of Private Preserve. When I went to open a bottle of red wine for Jenn and I to actually drink she exclaimed, “Why? I really like these wines.”
2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent, Burgenland -
Imported by Vin Divino. This wine is 100% St. Laurent sourced from 5-35 year old parcels in on high slopes at 140 meters in Gols. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in both stainless steel and wooden vats, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for ten months in used oak barriques. Alcohol 13%. The nose was almost mature with a little wood aromas. In the mouth there was a slightly tart start with red fruit and acidity on the tongue. The wine rounded out a bit with black fruit. Best on the first night. ** Now-2015.
2009 Weingut Arachon T. FX. T., Evolution, Mittel Burgenland – $35-$40
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in French oak barriques. Alcohol 14%. There was a good, assertive nose with almost floral pepper aromas and fine old perfume. The mouth follows the nose with black fruit and old perfume. There was a firmness to the flavors which became racy towards the finish with a good aftertaste and watering acidity. Serious. *** Now-2020.
2010 Rosso Azzurro, A Crush on Mt. Eta, Nerello Mascalese, Sicily – $30
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from old-vines at 600 meters. The fruit was partially destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top barrels then aged for one year in two neutral 500 liter barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose bore powdery ripe red berry fruit and eventually minerally, black and red fruit developed. In the mouth there was a fine firm structure which builds up until the drying tannins stick to the lips. With air a very delicate, pepper and graphite flavor comes out. The flavors are attractive but the structure suggests it needs age to both resolve and integrate with the fruit. There was watering acidity in the end. **(*) Now-2018?
2007 I Custodi, Aetneus, Etna Rosso – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is a blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio sourced from 100+ year old vines at 750 meters. The fruit is 80% destemmed then fermented in stainless steel vat before malolactic fermentation and 20 months aging in used barriques. Alcohol 14%. There was a distinctly Sicilian nose of ripe aromas and perhaps mulberry. The mouth follows the nose with a good amount of fruit. The tannins were obvious early on but mix well with the dry flavors and minerals. Despite my short note I did like it. Drink with food. *** Now-2018.
2010 La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso, Emilia IGT – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. This wine is a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Bonarda macerated on the skins for 20 days then fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. There was a bright nose of berry fruit and toasted spices. The flavors were rich in the mouth with ripe cranberry and other youthful, ripe red, fresh fruit. Well done. With air there were gobs of fresh red young fruit to which the acidity played a supporting roll. There was almost a grapey pulp texture. *** Now-2015.
2007 La Stoppa, Barbera Della Stoppa, Emilia IGT – $32
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 25-45 year old vines macerated on the skins for 30 days then fermented with indigenous yeasts. It was aged for one year in used barriques. Alcohol 14.5%. The first whiff was of almost stewed fruit but then the nose became articulate. The articulated scent follows in the mouth with a very ethereal earthy flavor and brambly nature. With air the wine became more pebbly with earthy fruit, a hint of Pilsner, and a fine, drying structure of tannins left on the lips. This definitely needs age. A ripe red raspberry flavor came out but there is more to this wine. It was a little rugged and yeasty in the aftertaste. *** 2015-2023.
Last week I attended the Indigenous Varietals Tasting hosted by Vibrant Rioja at Ripple in Washington, DC. It was led by Aaron Gordon (Vibrant Rioja) and David Denton (Sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse). Also present was Ana Fabiano (US Trade Director of the Rioja DOC) whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to. It was through Pia Mara Finkell (CRT/tanaka), who represents Vibrant Rioja, that I was invited. The afternoon begin with a seminar tasting in the dinning side of the restaurant where each setting featured three glasses of white wine and four glasses of red wine. Aaron Gordon delivered an introduction to each wine as David Denton led us through the actual tasting of the wines. The wines we tasted represented both rare wines such as pure bottlings of Tempranillo Blanco and Graciano to traditional Tempranillo red blends.
Three of the wines I tasted were pure varietals I had never encountered before. I was not alone for this was the first time many people tasted a wine made of Tempranillo Blanco. In this case the 2011 Conde de Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco. Tempranillo Blanco was only discovered in 1988 by Juan Carlos Sancha when a branch of a Tempranillo vine produced albino fruit. Since then it has been propagated but there are less than 10 producers bottling this type of wine. Maturana Tinta represents less than 100 hectares of vines in Rioja. This represents less than 0.5% of production and as such only five producers bottle this varietal. The 2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta was my first experience. The fruit for this wine was sourced from younger vines providing a grapey nature. Though I have tasted many wines which include Graciano this was my first pure experience. The 2006 Contino, Graciano represents a movement from the early 1990s to save indigenous varietals such as Graciano and Mazuelo. The Contino vineyard was originally planted to provide Graciano for the Reserva wines. But it proved enjoyable on its own and was expanded.
2011 Conde de Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja – $39
Imported by The Country Vintner. The distinct nose stepped out of the glass. The tropical aromas were piercing and very finely textured. The flavors were round in the mouth with steely acidity underneath. The flavors dried with air becoming tangy with white fruit, lemon, and both grip and lift in the finish.
2008 Palacios Remondo, Placet, Virua – $
The fruit was sourced from vineyards planted in the 1980s. This was fermented and aged in oval French oak. The nose was subtler with richer aromas and some weight. In the mouth the flavors were weightier and rounder. It still showed fruit given the age with gentle citrus notes, some complexity, and herbs.
2012 Bodegas Ostatu, Rosado, Rioja – $16
Imported by De Maison Selections. This wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Virua. This was a salmon/dried-rose color. The nose was complex with perfume, fresh berries, and some fermentation aromas. The mouth followed the nose with good weight, creamy nature, and fresh red fruit. The acidity was integrated. There was a very fine, ripe texture left in the mouth. Good complexity, nice wine.
2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $56
Imported by Southern Wines. This was very aromatic expressing fresh aromas. In the mouth the flavors were fresh with an earthy component. There were herbal and greenhouse flavors mixing with red and black fruit before firmer black fruit came out. This grapey wine tastes of young fruit.
2006 Vinedos del Contino, Graciano, Rioja – $175
Imported by Europvin. Alcohol 14%. The nose revealed herbs and butterscotch. In the mouth the tart red fruit mixed with pepper as a drying nature and acidity came out. There were tight, black fruit flavors. I tried a second bottle at the tasting session and it proved to be much more open and interesting.
The 1995 Otanon, Reserva includes a fair amount of Garnacha from Rioja Baja. Otanon has grown Garnacha for ages and still does today. They ignored the 1990s movement to increase Tempranillo planting at the expense of ripping up existing Garnacha vines.
1995 Ontanon, Reserva, Rioja – $
Imported by Cavatappi Distribuzione. There was a hint of tobacco and leather in the subtle nose. Also, perhaps, some spearmint. In the mouth the red fruit showed some tartness and ripeness followed by a fresh middle. There was a little wood hint and gentle ripeness.
2001 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja – $
There was a tight, subtle nose with floral aromas. In the mouth there was plenty of acidity with a raspberry flavored start then firm black and red fruit. The flavors were young with some salivating acidity. This was balanced all around and should age well.
After the seminar we all grabbed a glass then moved over to the bar side of Ripple. Arrayed along the entire length of the very long bar were dozens upon dozens of bottles of Rioja. Interspersed were various platters of food. There was space by the front portion of the bar which is where I stayed for the remainder of the event. By pure chance there was a bottle with an old lead capsule right in front of me. I took a close look to read the faded label and saw 1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva. Aaron Gordon selected the wines for the event and clearly he decided to have some fun. Most of the selections were locally sourced but there were also wines from New York City. Most of the bottles were priced between $10 and $20 but there were enough wines in the Reserva, Gran Reserva, and Library selections of which I was standing in front of. It was a casual pour-yourself tasting so I picked up the old green bottle and poured a taste of the 1969.
It was hard not to enjoy the 1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva for its age alone. There was still plenty of structure and acidity to last for the ages and while not the most complex wine, it maintained just enough ripe, black fruit to be a decent drink. The 1987 La Rioja Alta, Vina Arana was one of my favorites of the lineup. The maturity, balance, and texture suggest it is entering a period of fantastic drinking. The 2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904 was much more evolved than the 2001 and to me was a great old-school wine. I thought the 1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Vina Albina added an appealing mixture of forest aromas to its earthy nature. In a more modern fruit-forward manner was the 2001 Marques de Riscal, Gran Reserva which should have broad appeal. More expensive and more serious was the 2007 Artadi, Pago Viejos.
I saw many other friends and acquaintances such as Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like), Annette and Christian Schiller (Schillier Wine), Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Howard Friedman (South River Imports), and Warren Richard (Virginia Wine Time). Towards the end I gathered at a cocktail table with Frank and Warren to have a bit to drink. I found the 2008 Ad Libitum, Maturana Tinta and 2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta hit the spot.
1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva, Rioja – $N/A
Imported by Peninsula Wines. Alcohol 12.5%. There were roast flavors along with some fruit and leather in this solid wine. It smells of its age. The acidity and structure was still holding up and even the fruit took on some weight with air. There were rather focused ripe, black fruit flavors, and a drying nature. Holding on well and still of interest.
1981 Bodegas Beronia, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $N/A
Imported by The San Francisco Wine Exchange. Alcohol 13%. This bottle had a funky nose of stewed fruit. The mouth follows the nose with ripe, red fruit, acidity, and tartness. Not as good as the 1969 Riscal.
2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja – $44
Imported by The Country Vintner. This was immediately expressive with earthy, old-school aromas. The flavors were expansive in the mouth with some drying tannins. Much more open than the 2001. A nice wine.
2001 Marques de Riscal, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $49
Imported by Southern Wines. The nose was ripe with spices, wood box, and good fruit. The fruit continued in the mouth with wood box, mature notes, and good depth. In a sense the fruitiness and ability to age reminded me of a maturing Southern Rhone wine. This will age.
2001 Marques de Caceres, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $28
Imported by Bacchus Importers. There was lower-lying weight and concentration to this wine. It took on black fruit with air. Ripe tannins left texture in the mouth but the ultimately drying tannic structure shows this requires age.
1987 La Rioja Alta, Vina Arana, Rioja – $99
Imported by Michael Skurnik. The nose was interesting with fruit, wood box, and spices. In the mouth there were ripe raspberry flavors with both controlled ripeness and weight in the back sides of the mouth. There were ethereal mature notes and a stimulating texture from the pebbly structure. A nice wine.
1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Vina Albina, Rioja – $62
Imported by The Country Vintern. The nose was earthy and bore forest aromas. There was a core of red fruit in the mouth along with earthy flavors. It slowly built ripe raspberry notes along with youthful, grippy red fruit. Nice.
2005 Muga, Prado Enea, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $47
Imported by The Country Vintner. The expressive nose was floral. In the mouth there were focused ripe black fruit, black minerals, and a youthful nature. There was good, ripe and grippy tannins which coated the lips and tongue.
2008 Ad Libitum, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $38
Imported by Frontier Wine Imports. The nose revealed floral and herbal aromas, perhaps Indian. The moth follows the nose with far more spices. A rather interesting wine.
2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $56
Imported by Southern Wines. The nose mixes the herbal spiced with more ripe fruit. The herbal spices due develop in the mouth but this remains a more forward, fruity wine with pepper notes and fresh finish.
2005 CUNE, Vina Real, Rioja – $40
Imported by Bacchus Importers. The flavors were a bit more dense with ripe black fruit and grippy texture. The fruit was very much evident but still showed good balance. There were berry flavors in the aftertaste.
2004 OGGA, Reserva, Rioja – $60
Imported by T. Edwards. The flavors showed more bright red fruit mixing with black fruit. The tartness and acidity builds into the middle. Solid.
2004 Muga, Prado Enea, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $60
Imported by The Country Vintner. The nose revealed orange peel aromas. In the mouth there was good red fruit, raspberry, along with a firm structure and a finish of citric, drying structure. Young.
2007 Artadi, Paco Viejos, Rioja – $115
Imported by Folio Fine Wine. This was clearly a serious wine with more modern grip, density, and modern structure. Perfumed violets came out in the finish.
After the tasting Frank, Warren, and I went out for some wine. There was a small dinner in which Frank and I were to attend so there were a few hours to pass. Frank suggested a bottle of Champagne would recharge ourselves for the evening. The Nicolas Feuillatte certainly made the time fly by and I soon found myself walking into Bourbon Steak at The Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown.
There were nine people at the dinner including Ana Fabiano, Pia Mara Finkell, David White (Terroirist), Rebecca Canan (Terroirist), Tai-Ran Niew (tiarannew), and Lou Marmon (grapelines). Upon my first invitation to the event I emailed Pia about my interest in the history of Rioja and she in turn forwarded my email to Ana Fabiano who published The Wine Region of Rioja last year. A part of my evening was spent discussing Iñigo Manso de Zuñiga Ugartechea and his great grand uncle who planted a vineyard in the late 1860s then went on to become the second director of the Oenologic Research Station in Haro. This vineyard survived phylloxera and it now provides the fruit for Iñigo’s Conde de Hervias wines. Due to my interest Ana provided his only locally available wine the 2008 Mencos, Crianza. For tasting notes on Iñigo’s other wines please see my 2013 Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting: De Maison Selections.
Rebecca kindly brought bottles of 2000 Dom Perignon which made for a festive start. There was much talk about the extensive number of family owned vineyards and parcels in Rioja and how the valleys produce fruit of different character. Much of the wine produced is a blend from these various vineyards and produced in a manner to provide a consistent house style. There appears to be excitement in single-vineyard wines from Rioja as in Burgundy, so in that spirit Lou brought a bottle of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Though a casual and festive day there was such a range of wines available that with focus I had quite an experience.
2011 Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja
This was the fruitier of the two Tempranillo Blanco with focused berries and a finely scented nose of cotton candy. There was focus and weight to the flavors followed by salivating acidity in the finish.
2009 Ad Libitum, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja
Ad Libitum is the micro-winery of associated Professor Juan Carlos. The nose was more pungent and aromatic, easily standing out of the glass. The nose was almost sweaty before the vibrant flavors and acidity on the tongue. Perhaps a touch of the lees.
2003 Lopez de Heredia, Gravonia, Blanco, Rioja
This was much different with an expansive middle of nutty and oily flavors. It was serious and persistent.
2012 Bodegas Ostatu, Rosado, Rioja
This revealed good fruit on the nose. In the mouth it was vibrant, grippy with ripe, gravelly fruit that dances on the tongue. Cooler than what was tasted at the seminar and satisfying at that.
2008 Conde de Hervias, Mencos, Crianza, Rioja
There was a low-lying nose. In the mouth the fruit was determined to play it close. With air it begin to expandin the mouth with red and black fruit. Tasty.
1995 Otanon, Reserva, Rioja
This remained fruit driven on the nose. In the mouth it was ripe and grippy with up-front acidity and a fine gravelly texture. The flavors were of blue and black fruit.
2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja
The nose was a little earthy. In the mouth there were tart red flavors, acidity, and a little spicy hint. It still had concentration and had old-school flavors in the finish.
2009 Artadi, Vinas de Gain, Rioja
There were youth fruit and fermentation aromas on the nose. In the mouth there were ripe spices and fruit in this young, forward wine. It took on potpourri and a little cinnamon. Young but attractive.
2005 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, Nuits-Saint-Georges
There were black fruit flavors which opened up nicely in the black. Young and firm it shows good future potential.
Today’s post features four French wines which I recently tasted. Both the 2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie and the 2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau are youthful wines which I highly recommend. They both remind me of clean, fresh fruit. Take a close look at the Rimbert label for the “2011″ vintage year is hand stamped over the old “2010.” When I met Elisabeth Saladin of Domaine Saladin just over one year ago I got to taste the 2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune. You may read my impressions of that and other wines in my post Tasting the Wines of Elisabeth Saladin at MacArthur Beverages. Since then the wine has developed a pebbly texture and dried herbal flavors. The 2007 Domaine de Alary, La Font d’Estevenas reveals riper fruit and more overall drive. It has developed some maturity and should continue to do so over the next several years but will last longer. I enjoyed all four wines but if I had to pick only two then I would go with the Domaine des Braves and the Domaine Rimbert. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is 100% Gamay. The whole-cluster fruit was fermented in cement. Alcohol 13%. The scented nose revealed good aromas of red currant and raspberry. In the mouth there were fresh red berries and a tiny pepper note which mixed with the tart acidity and bit of structure. The wine developed strawberry flavors and learn red fruit with black minerals. There were very fine, grapey tannins. *** Now-2016.
2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan. Alcohol 12.5%. The enjoyable nose revealed macerated raspberries and perfumed aromas. In the mouth there were tart red flavors that were round. The mouth then followed the nose with a very fine berry purple texture and grapey personality. A nice wine! *** Now-2016.
2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $20
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is mostly Mourvedre with some Grenache and Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines. The vineyards are high in minerals with galets roules. Vinification depends upon the varietal with aging for nine months in foudres. Alcohol 11-14%. In the mouth there was almost pebbly fruit which mixed with dried herbs. The dry flavors mixed with the tannins. It showed some weight with air along with flavors of dried herbs, a hint of citrus, and ripeish-wood box tannins. ** Now-2017.
2007 Domaine Alary, La Font d’Estevenas, Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from a vineyard planted in 1961. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose was robust with mulberry and black grapey aromas. The wine starts with ripe flavors of red and blue fruit, a hint of maturity, and a little tang. There was some weight and drive to the fruit. With air the flavors become drier with the mature notes developing in the middle. The flavors expand in the mouth but the wine maintains a sense of lightness in the finish. *** Now-2020.
Through happenstance I recently met Howard Friedman of South River Imports. He was at MacArthur Beverages with a sample of wine from Cellers Costers del Ros. The lands of Cellers Costers del Ros have been owned by the Ros and Juanpere family since the 18th century. Even the original wine cellar from this period still exists in the Casa Pairal of Cal Ros in Gratallops. The wines were previously bottled but were not sold in the United States. Just over one decade ago Antoni Gracia and his brother took over the winery from their father. In 2002 the brothers rebuilt the winery to have a fermentation room, aging hall, bottling area, laboratory, and tasting room all of which feature up to date technology. They started commercially producing wine in 2004. Today there are 30 hectares of vines located across three different estates. The fruit from these estates are used to produced three wines: L’Aubagues, L’Albada, and L’Obila.
A few years ago Howard was contacted by Antoni Gracia then subsequently visited the winery in 2011. Last week Howard brought a bottle of the 2009 L’Aubagues to MacArthur Beverages to taste. This wine is produced using fruit sourced from the youngest estate. This vineyard is 35-50 years old and located at 900 feet. The vineyards are quite steep so the slate soils are tilled by mule. The Grenache and Carignan vines are trained en vaso and the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are trained espaldera. The fruit goes through two stages of selection before destemming. It is then fermented using indigenous yeasts in 3,000 liter stainless steel tanks followed by aging in small oak barrels. Priorat can produce a big wine but the 2009 L’Aubagues is certainly not. There was a ripeness to the nose but the mouth was gentle with pleasing expansion and youthful structure. Please find my brief impression of what I tasted from a tiny wine glass below. I will certainly purchase a bottle so I can find out what exactly is in the bottle.
2009 Cellers Costers del Ros, L’Aubagues, Priorat -
Imported by South River Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was destemmed then fermented in stainless steel tanks. It was then aged in used oak barrels which were 70% French, 20% American, and 10% Yugoslav. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose revealed interesting aromas of focused, ripe fruit. The wine was lighter in the mouth with the interesting flavors following the nose. The flavors were expansive with a drying structure that slowly build in the mouth. With a brief bit of air it took on a gentle concentration. Young, but will surely develop over the next several years.
Thomas Pinney writes that the first two colonies in what is now North Carolina, known as the Province of Carolina until 1712, did not appear to produce any wine. In what is now South Carolina there was hope for the production of wine in the 1670s but again no documentation that anything was produced. In 1680 the first organized group of Huguenots landed in South Carolina with one of their goals to produce wine. In 1682 both Thomas Ashe and Samuel Wilson give accounts of wine being made in the Carolinas. Pinney goes on to write that in 1683 the Huguenot Frances de Rousserie was awarded a grant of 800 acres due to his attempts at propagating wine in Carolina. Early attempts at further winemaking appear to end with Sir Nathaniel Johnson who arrived in 1690 and went on to plant a considerable vineyard.
William Salmon (1644-1713) was a medical empiric self-published author who is famous, in part, for having written the first description of the tomato in the British colonies. William Salmon left England in 1687 for the colonies where he traveled throughout New England, Virginia, Carolina, and the Caribbean. He returned to England in 1690. In 1710 he published the first of two folios of his major work Botanologia: The English Herbal, or History of Plants. There are many references to plants he observed throughout his travels but most interesting is his description of Carolina wine in Chapter DCCXXIV Of the VINE. This wine would have been tasted in 1687-1690 or five to eight years after the first two descriptions.
“22. The Carolina, or Virginian Red Grape, which is a small Grape, and yields a very deep Blood red Wine. I remember that when I was on Carolina, one Garrat a French-Man, made in one Year about two Hogshead of it, (from Vines which grew Wild in the Woods) which was not so lusciously Sweet as Tent, but when I drank of it at his House, I then thought it to be the pleasantest Wine I ever drank in my whole Life: It was very fine, not of so thick a Body as Tent, but of a profound Red, staining everything of so perfect a Crimson color, as not easily to be obliterated, tho’ upon the spot.”
As for this description of the wine we find similarity one decade later. In the letter written by Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, the Governor of New York, to the Council of Trade and Plantations on 28 November 1700. In a section discussing the cultivation of vineyards for the production of wine for the Dominions of the Crown he writes of the Boston merchant Mr. Bourn. Mr. Bourn had come from Carolina in February 1700 and “assur’d me he drank very good wine there of their own growth, that was as strong as any Lisbon or Port-wine he ever tasted.” Richard Coote continues, “Without doubt SouthCarolina would produce wine that would equal any we have from Spain or Portugal, and these more Northern Plantations, as far as the Naraganset country, would produce a lighter sort of wine, such as Burgundy and Bordeaux claret.”
These two descriptions are part of the earliest tasting notes of wine produced in the British Colony of Carolina. I must admit they do sound tasty.
‘America and West Indies: November 1700, 26-30′, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 18: 1700 (1910), pp. 664-706. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=71379&strquery=carolina wine Date accessed: 10 June 2013.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. URL: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24559 Date accessed: 10 June 2013.
Pinney, Thomas. A History of Wine in American: from beginnings to prohibition. Volume 1. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1989.
Salmon, William. Botanologia: The English Herbal or, History of Plants. I. Dawks, London, 1710.
Smith, Andrew F. The Tomato in America. University of South Carolina Press, 1994.
References I wished to consult but could not:
Moore, Norman. Life of William Salmon, 1897.
S. J. Childs, ‘The ubiquitous Dr Salmon’, Canadian Medical Association Journal. Journal de l’Association Médicale Canadienne, 66 (1970)
Yesterday I took some time off from work to meet Charles Gendrot of Williams Corner Wine at MacArthur Beverages. He had arranged with Phil to pour a number of samples. I knew we would taste the 2010 Domaine du Banneret, Chateauneuf du Pape but I did not realize he had almost a case of wine stashed in his black bag. Williams Corner Wine not only distributes a subset from Louis/Dressner Selections but they also import an interesting variety of wines from France, Italy, and Spain. A quick search of this blog gives an insight into this diversity (results of search for “Williams Corner”). The four white wines were fun to taste with the Chateau du Coing de Saint-Fiacre showing good texture, the Eric Texier very bright and fresh, the Tami showing well with persistent flavors, and the Zidarich unique. If you want an introduction to a different type of white wine than try the Tami and Zidarich. Of the red wines the recently bottled Fatalone is a great choice when served chilled on a humid Washington, DC evening. The recently arrived 2011 Bernard Baudry was showing quite well but the 2010 Domaine des Banneret stole the show. It is a young wine which will develop. Right now it has finesse and invites you to keep returning to the glass. Once the 2010 hits the shelves I shall taste it alongside the 2009. Please find my brief notes below.
2007 Chateau du Coing de Saint-Fiacre, L’Ancestrale, Muscadet Sevre et Maine -
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This fruit for this wine is sourced from 60-80 year old vines, is fermented in concrete without temperature control then spends four to five years on the lees without stirring. Alcohol 12.5%. There was a fruity, textured nose. The flavors were a little ripe in the mouth showing more focus. The flavors became drier with some tannins coming out and integrating with the acidity. There were apple-like tart white fruit flavors, a hint of lees in the finish, and good texture.
2012 Eric Texier, Blanc, Cotes du Rhone -
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. This wine is mostly Grenache Blanc. Alcohol 12%. The nose was aromatic with berries then tropical and floral fruit. In the mouth there was bright, focused floral white fruit, drier flavors, and a fresh personality. It was stone-like in nature.
2011 Tami, Grillo, Sicily -
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Alcohol 12.5%. There was a waxy, almost nutty note which was clearly different. In the mouth there was fresh, bright, waxy white fruit which followed the nose. There was some density to the flavors, acidity, and a good persistent aftertaste. Enjoyable.
2010 Zidarich, Vitovska, Venezia Giulia -
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is 100% Vitovska sourced from vines 6-30 years of age. The fruit was destemmed then fermented in open vats without temperature control using indigenous yeasts. It was then aged for two years in medium and large Slavonian oak barrels. Alcohol 12%. This orange wine had a different aromatic nose of potpourri. The mouth followed the nose with clean and dry fruit, dried floral flavors, stones, perfume, and lots of texture. Not extreme in any manner.
2012 Fatalone, Teres, Primitivo, Puglia -
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. Alcohol 13%. The color was a very light cranberry. The nose bore bright berries. In the mouth the wine was much light with crisp flavors of cranberry and raspberry with an earthy touch. It maintained crispness leaving a very fine, grapey impression on the lips and in the mouth. Quite young in nature. Works well when cool.
2011 Klein, Pinot Noir, St-Hippolyte, Alsace -
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. The nose was finely textured with red fruit. In the mouth there were firm flavors of red and earthy fruit presented in a more austere manner. Might need a little time to open up.
2012 Jean-Paul Brun, Domaine des Terres Dorees, L’Ancien, Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais -
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Alcohol 12%. The light nose bore pepper aromas along with firm red and blue fruit. In the mouth there was almost tart flavors of grapey red fruit followed by some firm black fruit. It was a little juicy, tart, and had acidity. The finish was puckering with a citric personality which matched the emerging structure. Give it a few months in the cellar.
2011 Domaine Bernard Baudry, “Domaine”, Chinon -
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. There was a good nose of old perfume. The flavors were both fruity and ethereal with old perfume mixing with red and black fruit. It had a lighter personality but maintained a chewy concentration. Showing quite well even compared to 2010.
2010 Domaine du Banneret, Chateauneuf du Pape -
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre with some vines 80+ years old. It fermented in small tanks then aged for 16 months in barrels and oak ovals. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose was interesting, expressive, light but engaging. In the mouth there was finesse with slowly building flavors, black fruit, fresh acidity, and mild ripeness. I agree with the old-school comment. This is a young, different wine which I will clearly taste again once it is at the store.
2010 La Stoppa, Trebbiolo Rosso, Emilia Rosso -
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Alcohol 13%. There was a bretty nose of red and black fruit. In the mouth there was a ripe hit of flavors then spritz on the tongue. The ripe, grippy flavors creep up.
A few weeks ago I happened to be at MacArthur Beverages when Josefa Concannon of Louis/Dressner Selections was visiting the store. She was pouring six different samples which I was fortunate to taste. The Louis/Dressner portfolio is quite interesting and certainly has a strong following. I am pleased to see an increased selection of their wines in Washington, DC so was more than happy to taste through Josefa’s samples. Though it was fun to taste Francois Cazin’s Cour-Cheverny made from the Romorantin grape I preferred the 2011 Domaine du Closel, Jalouise, Savennieres and 2011 Chateau D’Oupia, Heretiques Rouge, Pays d’Herault. The former has an average Wine-Searcher price of $20 and the later $11. That makes for two very attractive wines at strong prices. Please find my brief notes below.
2009 Francois Cazin, Cour-Cheverny
This wine is 100% Romorantin sourced from 40-year-old vines and an 80-year-old parcel. It was fermented in concrete tanks then aged on the lees for four months in barrel followed by 12 months in concrete tanks. Alcohol 13.5%. In the mouth there was white fruit which was slightly weighty, dry, and mildly ripe. It had good texture.
2011 Domaine du Closel, Jalouise, Savennieres
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 15-20 year old vines which were aged 12 months on the lees. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose had aromas of mildly ripe berries. In the mouth there was a softer start followed by grippy flavors of white fruit and stones supported by good acidity. The flavors build in the mouth showing nice weight. I enjoyed this.
2011 Chateau D’Oupia, Heretiques Rouge, Pays d’Herault
This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from 40+ year old vines with 50% barrel fermented and 50% carbonic maceration. Alcohol 13%. There was a good nose of expressive berries. In the mouth the flavors were cooler and grapey before becoming racy. The acidity and fruit were integrated providing a well-rounded wine with good energy. I enjoyed this too.
2010 Chateau D’Oupia, Tradition Rouge, Minervois
This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, and 10% Grenache sourced from 50+ year old vines. The nose was a little more serious. In the mouth it was a touch more vibrant and assertive. The the flavors were light the middle was expansive. It showed a touch more tart acidity and presence of structure.
2011 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie
This wine is 100% Gamay. The nose was grapey with greenhouse aromas. In the mouth there were red and black fruit which were grapey on the tongue tip. The grapey tannins mixed with pepper and graphite.
2011 G. Descombes, Morgon
This wine is 100% Gamay which was fermented in cement tanks with underwent semi-carbonic maceration with indigenous yeasts. There was a good nose of black berries. In the mouth the flavors were a little tart with grapey fine tannins, Gamay like, and weight which lay on the tongue. There was pepper and a dry structure.