A zippy 2016 Envinate, Albahra

February 17, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2016 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa is a zippy, textured, and slightly earthy wine which proves there are interesting wines under $20 per bottle.  The fruit comes from 30 year old vines located at the high altitude of 800 meters which were fermented with indigenous yeast and raised in cement.  I find this vintage more structured than the 2015, so you may enjoy this wine over the next few years.  You can grab a bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa – $18
A Jose Pastor Selections imported by Llaurador Wines. This wine is 100% Grenache fermented and raised in cement. Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a zippy, tart and bright start of red fruit, polished wood, and hints of earth underneath.  The flavors become defined as cranberry red and black fruit.  There are fine, yet assertive tannins which add to a texture which persists on the gums into the aftertaste.  It even rounds out a bit with air.  *** Now 2021?

The Super Itata returns

February 16, 2018 Leave a comment

The latest release of 2014 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto, Itata Valley continues the series of interesting wines from Chile.  It bears some similarity to the 2015 Grand Itata in that it is fresh with good acidity, baking spices, and earth yet the 2014 Super Itata is savory with vintage perfume notes.  To me it reinforces the notion that some cool wines come from Itata Valley.  You may grab this bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto, Itata Valley – $25
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.   This wine is a blend of 33% Syrah, 33% Malbec, and 33% Carignan that was aged for 6 months in in old barriques.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The nose offers an interesting mix of red fruit, apples, and wet spices.  In the mouth is a slightly earthy start with notes of vintage perfume.  The wine is lighter in weight with fine, fresh tannic structure, and an almost lively profile.  With air it shows itself as perfectly integrated with a savory finish of cinnamon baking spices, licorice, and earth.  *** Now -2020.

Value Cabernet Franc from Languedoc

February 15, 2018 1 comment

The 2015 The Way of Wine, Puydeval, Pays d’Oc is a Cabernet Franc dominated blend from the Languedoc which makes it somewhat unique.  Winemaker Jeff Carrel made this negociant wine using fruit from Minervois and Limoux.  Priced at only $13 there is a lot to like: juicy fruit, minerals, a hint of earth, and structure for development.  A great daily wine right now, it will be even better once the oak integrates.  You may find this bargain at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 The Way of Wine, Puydeval, Pays d’Oc – $13
Imported by Hand Picked Selections.  This wine is a blend of 56% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, and 14% Merlot sourced from vines 15 – 20 years of age.  It was vinified in a mixture of cement and stainless steel then aged in a mixture of cement and oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  A focused start of black and red fruit moves on to a juicy middle and mineral finish supported by firm structure.  With air this dry wine reveals blue fruits, savory bits of oak, and a hint of earth in the expansive end.  It should develop over the next year.  **(*) Now – 2023.

Interesting Cahors from Château Combel-la-Serre

February 14, 2018 1 comment

The wines from Château Combel-la-Serre are like no other I have tried from Cahors.  These are bright and fresh versions of Malbec.  You should try both wines for they are quite different from each other.  The 2016 Château Combel-la-Serre, “Le Pur Fruit du Causse”, Cahors is youthful and grapey yet backed by density.  On the other hand the 2015 Château Combel-la-Serre, Cahors is floral and herbal in flavor rather than fruity.  The 2016 is the wine to drink this year whereas I suggest you cellar the 2015 until the next year.  This pair of wines offers good value for the money.  Pick them up at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Château Combel-la-Serre, “Le Pur Fruit du Causse”, Cahors – $15
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 35 year old vines aged one year in cement tanks.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The bright red flavors reveal density and minerality.  The wine is a touch citric with fresh acidity and youthful, grapey flavor.  This is a fun, almost quenching wine.  **(*) Now – 2019.

2015 Château Combel-la-Serre, Cahors – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 40 year old vines aged one year in stainless steel then a second year in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  This is more herbal that fruity with exotic tea, floral notes, and polished wood.  There is juicy acidity and a fine vein of structure throughout.  Fresh and approachable but with some potential to further open up with age. **(*) 2019 – 2023.

A pair of 2014 wines from Ribera del Duero

February 13, 2018 1 comment

The first time I had a wine from Bodegas Protos was back during my undergraduate days in the early 1990s.  I was a bit tickled then when I saw one of their wines in DC.  The 2014 Bodegas Protos, Protos ’27, Ribera del Duero has an interesting nose of dark fruit and tar yet in the mouth it is thoroughly modern.  The oak flavors come through at this point which I find a bit distracting.  However, nothing could distract me from the 2014 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero.  I have managed to drink previous vintages of this wine but appear to have not written about them.  This vintage offers a dark fruited wine, deep in flavor with the acidity making the flavors fresh.  It is a bit rugged from youth right now which only adds to the charm.  A must try worth the additional expense!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Bodegas Protos, Protos ’27, Ribera del Duero – $26
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 50+ year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 16 months in new French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose offers dark fruit and tar.  In the mouth this is a completely balanced wine with young oaky flavors and tannins.  This modern flavored wine reveals integrated structure and water acidity becoming sappy or almost chewy.  The fruit remains firm with fine+ extract, dark tar notes, and a very light, lifted aftertaste.  **(*) Now – 2025.

2014 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero – $37
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot.  Alcohol 15%.  There are dark red and dark blue flavors almost giving the impression of crispness overlaying mineral, soil undertones.  This is a deeply satisfying wine.  The flavors become blacker towards the end with very fine, integrated structure.  There is youthful attraction between the structure and ripe blueberry flavors. I imagine this will develop and improve over the next several years.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

William Coombe’s “The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” from 1821

February 2, 2018 Leave a comment

“The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” [1]

The image in this post is one of 27 from William Coombe’s book A history of Madeira (1821).  I selected the image because the pipe is branded “N G M” for Newton, Gordon, and Murdoch.  William Coombe (1741-1823) is a writer famous for his Dr. Syntax series of verse illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson.  This familiarity with satire perhaps explains the soft, somewhat jovial facial expressions common in the Madeira illustrations and certainly explains the accompanying verse.

Coombe first comments that the oxen pulling the sledges are “a very beautiful race of animals” with the additional  benefit that “the meat is excellent”.  Or from his own verse:

And now it is the oxen’s task,
To drag along the liquid cask,
Filled with the juice that aids the treat
When they’re cut up, and turned to meat.


[1] “The manner of drawing pipes on a sledge” from William Coombe’s A history of Madeira (1821). Bayerische Staatsbibliothek URL: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0010/bsb00103983/images/

A new wine: 2016 Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages

February 2, 2018 Leave a comment

The damaging hail of 2016 in Beaujolais had one interesting effect, the production of wines never before seen.  The 2016 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages is another example of this from the Kermit Lynch portfolio.  Tasted blind you will recognize this as Beaujolais but what I particularly like is the subtle earth note and round fruit weight.  This wine improves with a modest amount of air and should provide good drinking for the next few years.  You may find this new wine at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sources from granite soils.  It was fermented then aged in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 12.5%.  With air this wine shows more strength, quickly building from the start through the cinnamon and baking spiced finish.  True to Beaujolais flavors of cherry and raspberry, become slightly earthy with good, round fruit weight, and a slightly spicy, dry finish which leaves some tannins on the gums.  *** Now – 2022.