Rhone lovers should drink the 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck

The 2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley is an enjoyable wine that is the result of is a project between Massaya, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, and Dominique Hébrard of Bordeaux who formerly made wine at Chateau Cheval Blanc. The results in the glass are quite enjoyable.  I find blue and black fruit flavors delivered in a fresh manner with attractive texture from the ripe tannins.  It is in a great spot right now so why wait?

2012 Massaya, Terrasses de Baalbeck, Bekaa Valley – $20
Imported by Winebow Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvedre, and 15% Syrah that was aged for 18 months in French oak vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The wine is minerally with ripe blue and black fruit flavors.  The grip and vigor is immediately noticeable.  The wine conveys a sense of freshness, not quite crisp, with ripe textured tannins balanced by acidity that adds to the mouth feel.  It is very much a wine to drink now.  *** Now – 2020.

Grenache Blanc from California

This past week we tried three bottles of California Grenache Blanc from three different regions.  The 2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley  is a good value.  You first notice salinity and stone dust which is soon followed by fruit and  a mouth-coating aftertaste.  This wine responds well to air and some warmth which will make you pleased with the wine and $20 price.

Two of the wines have an interesting connection in that the vineyard which sources the Three Clicks fruit is planted with cuttings that came from Tablas Creek.  The 2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles is locked down.  I kept an open bottle in my refrigerator for a week and the wine barely changed.  Right now it is evocative of lemons but it needs to shake off its firmness before it should be drunk.  On the other hand the 2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County is expressive.  I have enjoyed tasting the last several vintages of this wine at the annual MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting and the current released vintages is just as good.  You taste the white fruit and the stones but it is crispness that captures my attention.  If you can only afford one bottle then grab the Three Clicks.  Add in the Priest Ranch if you want to compare wines.

 

2015 Priest Ranch, Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley – $20
Alcohol 14.8%.  This saline and stone dust infused wine has a dense start followed by ripe, white fruit flavors in the middle, and a pervasive, mouth-coating aftertaste.  It is well structured and balanced for further life.  *** Now – 2020.

2015 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles – $30
Alcohol 14.4%. Tasted over several nights this wine remained largely unevolved.  The flavors of white fruit, lemon, and baking spices are supported by lemon-like acidity, fine texture, and some density.  It adds a lifted, floral note in the finish.  This will last! **(*) Now – 2032.

2015 Three Clicks, Grenache Blanc, Branham Vineyard, Sonoma County – $28
Alcohol 14.3%.  There is a slightly weighty yet crisp start with good white fruit that overlays chalk.  The liveliness makes you return for another glass. *** Now – 2020.

A 19th century advertisement for Blandy’s Madeira

My current correspondence and research inspired me to post this image from Blandy’s of Madeira.

Madères Blandy garantis d’origine. 1896. BnF Gallica [1]


[1]  Madères Blandy garantis d’origine. Blandy frères fondée en 1811. Funchal (Ile de Madère) : [affiche] / Maurice Realier-Dumas 96 ; Ducourtioux & Huillard. Bibliothèque nationale de France. URL: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb39840456j

A saline 1990 Longue-Toque, Gigondas

I cut my teeth on Gigondas when it first came to bottles of mature Rhone wine.  Though I have since been seduced by the complexities of Chateauneuf du Pape, I still get excited by old bottles of Gigondas.  At the time of the 1990 vintage, Domaine de Longue-Toque was run by Serge Chapalain the son of Roger Chapalain, who was once the Mayor of Gigondas. Roger Chapalain founded the estate in 1962 building a reputation for supple wines rather than rustic. Throughout the 1980s Serge Chapalain tried to bring back more weight into the wine than the vintages he produced under his father, making them more in line with the firmness of the region.  He blended mostly Grenache with some Syrah, Cinsault, and a bit of Mourvedre and Clairette.  Time in cask was limited to a year on average.  These efforts paid off for Robert Parker found the 1989 and 1990 vintages the best of the 1980s.

I, of course, did not read about this wine ahead of time so I had my doubts.  Since I have recently drunk both robust and bland Gigondas from the 1998 vintage, I was suspicious about even older bottles.  I popped and poured the 1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas to find it in fine shape.  There is a particularly attractive saline component, garrigue, and good fruit.  Some of that trademark suppleness might remain as a round feeling.  I would say the wine is just beginning to decline.  The estate was sold off in 1995 after which three cuvees were produced.  If you see a bottle of 1989 or 1990 you might as well try them as they reflect the best efforts of Serge Chapalain.

1990 Domaine de Longue-Toque, Gigondas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light to medium cherry garnet.  There is a distinctly saline flavor to the rounded start.  Initial flavors of cedar box and garrigue are followed by building weight coupled with an inky note and an ethereal aftertaste.  This wine is in fine shape with ripe fruit throughout that with air oscillates with dry, firm, red fruit.  It is starting to show its age but the slightly tart red fruit and fresh plums bring back confident.  *** Now.

An interesting trio of reds from Garage Wine Co

Upon returning from MacArthur Beverages with the latest selections brought in by Phil, I diligently packed my bottles into the wine fridge.  That same evening I pulled out the 2013 Garage Wine Co., Lot #45, Sauzal Vineyard, Maule Valley and 2013 Garage Wine Co., Lot #47, Truquilemu Vineyard, Maule Valley.  Unlike the 2011 vintage, this pair from 2013 is decidedly locked down.  I recorked the bottles for the next night.

Had I not tried these bottles a second time I never would have determined why my hands became covered with dark yellow marks as if attacked by a giant Crayon.  I had completely ignored the yellow waxes capsules as I was solely focused on coaxing flavors out of my glasses.  Of the two Lot wines #45 never gave up much, even after three nights.  Lot #47 reveals good potential.  It is a higher-toned, red fruited wine with almost puckering acidity.  Coupled with good body and weight this wine will certainly develop over the next several years.  It truly requires this time so you should bury these bottles.

It is the least expensive offering that I am most excited about.  The 2016 Garage Wine Co., Pais, Second Salvo Ferment, Secano Interior exudes grapey, young, mouth filling flavors.  Additional personality comes from the pastille and mineral notes.   These flavors are in contrast to Luyt’s extremely old-vine Pais which is a bit too spritzy and yeasty for my preferences.  The Second Salvo Ferment Pais is meant to be drunk right now with your friends.  It provides instantaneous satisfaction and if you can only purchase one of these wines then this is the one to get.

2016 Garage Wine Co., Pais, Second Salvo Ferment, Secano Interior – $20
Imported by Elixir Wine Group.  Alcohol 13%.  This is a young, fruity wine with very fine, grapey extract for texture.  It becomes more focused with air mixing pastilles and minerals with the black fruited finish.  It slides down the throat leaving lingering sensation of texture. ***(*) Now – 2018.

 

2013 Garage Wine Co., Lot #45, Sauzal Vineyard, Maule Valley – $34
Imported by Elixir Wine Group.  This wine is a field-blend of Carignan, Garnacha, and Mataro.  Alcohol 13.2%.  There is a good, Carignan driven nose.  In the mouth this is an impressively structured wine with watering acidity, dry fruit, and a certain amount of powdery dry tannins.  It is somewhat expansive yet ultimately tight such that the flavors come across shorter due to the structure.  *** 2020-2030.

 

2013 Garage Wine Co., Lot #47, Truquilemu Vineyard, Maule Valley – $34
Imported by Elixir Wine Group.  This wine is a field-blend of Carignan and Mataro.  Alcohol 14%.  The scented nose moves on to higher-toned flavors coming from a core of dense, powdery tart red fruit over black fruit.  There is just a hint of wood box already with almost puckering acidity.  It is clear that the good weight, good body, and perfumed fruit with bear out and benefit from a few years of age.  ***(*) 2019-2028.

A wine to buy this weekend

The 2014 Rogue Vine, El Insolente, Itate Valley  figuratively hits it out of the park.  This is an easily drinkable fruity wine yet it is quickly apparent that the flavors are serious and deep.  If the names Luyt and Garage Wine Co sound familiar then run to the store to purchase this latest offering from Rogue Vine.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Rogue Vine, El Insolente, Itate Valley – $27
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from 60+ year old vines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This fruity wine rapidly becomes series and deep with ripe black fruit and minerals.  There is a vintage perfumed flavor and with air, meaty, animale notes.  This is very drinkable right now.  ***(*) Now – 2020.

A pair of 1977 wines from the historic Winery Lake Vineyard

I brought backup wines just in case my selections for our latest dinner with Sudip and Melanie were not drinkable.  Though my two old bottles had high fills, I had no idea what to expect of the 1977 Merlot and 1977 Pinot Noir from the Winery Lake Vineyard.

Founded around 1960 by Rene di Rosa, Winery Lake Vineyard is important in the history of Carneros.  The site dates back to the 1880s when it was known as the Talcoa Vineyard.  Like much of California, the vinous ties were broken as a result of Prohibition.  Replanting in Carneros only began in the late 1950s and Rene di Rosa’s efforts helped re-launch the region.  He planted primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with a few other varieties,  selling the fruit off to other wineries in Napa and Sonoma.  Some of these wines were highly regarded, causing new interest in the area.  Carneros Creek arrived in 1971, Buena Vista moved here in 1974, Ravenswood was soon to arrive in 1976, and Acacia was founded in 1979 just to name a few.

By the 1980s, such was the fame of Di Rosa’s fruit that Charles L. Sullivan writes they were the most expensive grapes in the state.  The two bottles I opened were made using Di Rosa’s fruit but the two wineries could not be more different.  Martin Ray needs no introduction. However, this vintage was not made by him as he had passed away the previous year.  Wine and the People was founded by Peter Brehm in an old warehouse in Berkeley in 1970.  This was a home winemaking and homebrew store.  He not only sold equipment but apparently scouted out fruit and even made wine at his warehouse.

The 1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard has a lead capsule.  Our bottle had a perfect cork with very dark staining and weinstein only at the business end.  The 1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard cork was a touch softer, dark throughout, and smelled appropriately of old wood.  The Martin Ray is a bit stinky at first and while it does clean up, the nose remains the most mature aspect of the wine.  In the mouth it is flavorful, luxurious feeling, and full of life.  There is a certain sweetness to the flavors which I felt was initially distinct.  With air the parts come together and this 40 year old wine is nothing but fun to drink.  If tasted blind, I would guess The Wine and the People is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  There is darker fruit, balanced acidity, and a classic wood box aspect to the aromas and flavors.  It does not have the staying power of the Martin Ray but for an hour or two you will have trouble faulting this bottle of Pinot Noir.  I should add that both of these wines have fair amount of body.  Whether that is due to the vintage and/or the vineyard I do not know.

1977 Martin Ray, Merlot, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 13%.  The initial bottle stink eventually blows off revealing mature flavors, coffee, and some old notes.  Despite the mature nose the wine is flavorful and full of life in the mouth.  There are sweet, baking spiced fruit flavors, glycerin, and cinnamon towards the finish.  The sweetness of the fruit is a bit separate at first but with air this wine really shapes up to become balanced.  In the end this is a fuller bodied, berrylicious wine with a luscious mouthfeel.  **** Now – 2027.

1977 Wine and the People, Pinot Noir, Winery Lake Vineyard
Alcohol 12.5%.  Smoke and leather aromas develop into a good nose made more complex by wood and spice scents.  In the mouth is a rounded start of blue and black fruit.  The wine is weighty and a little soft in the middle but with air it becomes correct with the acidity supporting throughout.  It only last for one to two hours before turning sour. **(*) Now.