Guillaume Gilles’ Gamay from near Cornas

January 17, 2019 Leave a comment

I seem to be drinking a lot of Gamay lately.  I might be excused since this includes such wines as the 2016 Guillaume Gilles, Combeaux Massardieres.  Gilles may be known for his Syrah from Cornas but he should also be known for his Gamay.  I have been itching to try the 2016 wines of Gilles so I conveniently paired the 2016 Massardieres with the 2015.  The 2015 was quite ripe yet tense from the beginning, which made it immediately accessible.  The 2016 vintage reveals the need for a touch of time in the cellar.  There is still some ripeness and oily nature but it is somewhat closed with more noticeable structure.  I think you should cellar it until the summer.  In the meantime drink the 2015!  Phil imports these at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Guillaume Gilles, Combeaux Massardieres – $27
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 14%.  Bright and articulate with aromas of candied roses.  Bright in the mouth as well with a fresh edge from acidity that leads to textured, grapey extract.  Less ripe than the 2015 but more mouthfeel with a mineral, dry end.  With air the ripeness shows focus with oily fruit weight lurking under the structure.  The wine is not quite zippy, perhaps a touch juicy.  I believe it needs six months in the cellar.   ***(*) Now – 2022.

2015 Guillaume Gilles, Les Massardieres – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 13%.  Riper flavors with vintage perfume and hints of furniture polish.  It is now better on the second day having cleaned up and developed flavors of black cherries and other dark fruits.  Perhaps not the best analogy but the ripeness of the fruit has a cola-like tension from the acidity as it rolls into a ripe, chalky finish.  It appears to be in mid-age with a good low-note to its flavor.  **** Now – 2020.

A trio of 2017 Julien Sunier Beaujolais

January 16, 2019 Leave a comment

Back in October I expressed my excitement over the 2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie.  It was not until this snowy weekend that I tasted it in context with two other of Julien Sunier’s wines.  In short, I am even more excited and convinced that you must try this wine.  The balance is fantastic, yielding a crisp wine of unique floral, orange citrus flavors.  There was bad hail damage in Fleurie and Morgon during the summer of 2017 which shows up in the bottle.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie is still mineral and tannic but lighter in body with subtle fruit.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon is fresh but missing the usual depth and verve.  They are good wines all around with Sunier’s hand evident but the Regnie clearly stands out.  Grab a few bottles from Phil at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. Bright red flavors greet but the wine is actually quite mineral.  It is lighter in body with watering acidity.  There are both ripe tannin texture and ripe baking spices in the finish.  This is a light to medium bodied wine with ripeness that is definitely subtle compared to the overall dry finish.  Could use a bit of time. *** 2020-2026.

2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.   Alcohol 13%.  A grapey, purple cranberry color.  Scented ripe and bright, red berries on the nose.  In the mouth, fresh and cool red flavors immediately mix with fine to medium textured tannins.  There is watering acidity throughout with a lightly inky finish.  This has the most fruit of the three.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats then aged 9 months in neutral French barrels. Alcohol 13.5 %.    Medium fruit weight exists with crisp acidity and floral orange citrus fruit.  Lovely from the first pour.  With air, the fruit rounds out bringing on more florals, violets, and incense through the long, complex finish.  Minimal structure.  Cracking acidity.  **** Now – 2026.

Saperavi for a Snowy Day

January 13, 2019 Leave a comment

If you spent part of your day shoveling snow then you should recuperate by a fire.  A hearty meal and a glass or two of Georgian Saperavi will shake off any remaining coldness.  Of the trio featured in this post, the label of the 2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti leaves something to be desired but the wine does not.  Though the lightest colored and lightest bodied, it requires a full day in the decanter to open up.  You are then treated to a nose of berry fruit and more interestingly, black tea and floral flavors.  It is almost zippy which keeps it fresh.  It becomes a touch yeasty with extended air so my recommendation is to drink between 24-48 hours in the decanter.  It is my favorite of the three being a lighter wine,which makes it easier to experience the various flavors.  I have tried two bottles of 2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti.  Decanting is required as well.  This wine exhibits the inky intensity that I have only experienced with Saperavi raised in qvevri.  This is a more mineral wine with one bottle exhibiting floral notes.  Though it should be drunk after decanting, I believe it should be cellared for another year.  The 2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti represents the most amount of flavor for the cost.  If you want a fully immersive experience then grab a bottle.  Despite the packed in flavors of black fruit and minerals there is spot-on zippy acidity.  You may find these wines at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti – $22
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 13.%.  A medium, cranberry-cherry color.  Brighter berry fruit, almost delicate on the nose.  In the mouth the acidity is lively almost zippy on which the flavors of black tea are floral accented.  Actually quite attractive with extended air.  Unique with a long aftertaste.  *** Now – 2029.

2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti – $20
Imported by Terrell Wines. Alcohol 15%.  An almost black cherry color, bordering on completely opaque.  An intense fruit start mineral middle with focused fruit flavors textured by fruit extract. One bottle showed more floral tones. Lively acidity with a nutty undertone.   **(*) 2020 – 2029

2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti – $17
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 14%. This is surely, completely opaque in the glass.  An intense wine with black fruit and minerals.  The fruit is focused with a zippy personality then watering acidity by the finish.  The flavor is closely played right now but it is clearly packed in.  Incredible amounts of flavor but a bit much for me.  ** Now to whenever.

Young Syrah for Cold Weather – Darnaud and Durand

January 13, 2019 Leave a comment

The 2016 Emmanuel Darnaud, Les trois chenes, Crozes-Hermitage and 2016 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph  are two wines you might consider drinking for lunch on a snowy day such as we are having in Washington, D.C.  They are lower in alcohol with fresh flavors suitable for midday.  The Darnaud is a new wine for me.  It is the grapier of the two, juicy, with an ethereal finish.  Its quite good for a Crozes-Hermitage.  The Durand is darker in fruit flavor, sports more structure, and actually requires air to open up.  Both are wines to be drunk over the next five years or so.  The Darnaud is silky and the Durand is taut which make for an interesting contrast.  You may find them at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Emmanuel Darnaud, Les trois chenes, Crozes-Hermitage – $25
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 25-60 year old vines on glacial, pebbly soils raised in cement tanks and demi-muids. Alcohol 12%. A nose of grapey scents and smoke. Dense and grapey in the mouth, a modest structure and silky body lead to an ethereal ripe finish. Flavors of black fruit, juicy acidity, and grapiness are about youth. There is a mineral bit and slightly savory finish. Clean. ***(*) Now – 2025.

2016 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph – $25
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 13.5%. Fresh with sweet black fruit and some vanilla on the nose. Taut black fruit with minerals exist before the focused, sweet, and ripe middle. Rounded with fine tannins and good spiced flavors in the finish. It needs time to open up in the glass but will not be long-lived. ***(*) Now – 2026.

A pair of Envinate wines from the 2017 vintage

This pair of Envinate wines from the 2017 show good promise for development over the next several years despite being from very different terroirs.  The 2017 Envinate, Benje hails from Tenerife, Canary Islands whereas the 2017 Envinate, Albahra is from Almansa in continental Spain.  Both wines have a sense of lightness and lifted personality but they reflect their soils quite well.  The Benje is dry with long notes of stones and graphite whereas the Albahra offers ethereally ripe fruit flavors.  You may find them on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages priced in the ~$20 per bottle range.


2017 Envinate, Benje, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Tenerife, Canary Islands
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Llaurador Wines. This is a blend of high-altitude 70-120 year-old Listan Prieto with some Tintilla that was foot trodden, fermented in concrete and tubs with indigenous yeasts then aged 8 months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12%. Earthy, almost sour red fruit with gossamer ripeness. Light in body, the flavors are lifted and dry marked by stones and graphite. It is underpinned by salinity and dryness but a beautiful ripe elegance floats above. Best on the first night. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2017 Envinate, Albahra, Almansa
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Llaurador Wines. This wine is 100% Grenache fermented and raised in cement. Alcohol 13%. A nose of delicate berries and flowers. Fine texture with medium-bodied flavors of red fruit, bitters, and a cool finish. There is a touch of zip on the tongue, tart acidity, and modest structure. The wine is slow to open up, revealing an ethereal ripeness which coats the gums and fills the mouth by the aftertaste. ***(*) Now – 2024.

A fistful of Grenache – 2016 Domaine Gramenon, Poignee de Raisins

A long-time favorite, the latest vintage of 2016 Domaine Gramenon, Poignee de Raisins, Cotes du Rhone is a wine to grab for sheer enjoyment.  It is not a Cotes du Rhone for aging, rather one full of grapey flavor and depth best enjoyed now.  I find that the juicy personality is a match for the textured mouth feel.  It is available on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.  Grab a few bottles and pull a cork as soon as you get home.

2016 Domaine Gramenon, Poignee de Raisins, Cotes du Rhone – ~$22
Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from young vines.  It was fermented in concrete then aged 12 months in used barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%. Round and grapey with extract textured fruit. There are flavors of strawberry but soon blue fruit and baking spices come out. This is a juicy wine with a bright tilt. There is presence in spades. The savory vein of fruit is youthful and the structure leaves ripe tannins on the gums. The long aftertaste is of ethereal ripe fruit and minerals. **** Now – 2020.

Five Bottles of Beaujolais: Chignard, Dutraive, and Pignard

It was Lou who first mentioned the wines of Jean-Louis Dutraive.  As soon as the bottles arrived in DC we planned to taste them along with a few other bottles. The 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie is excellent.  A unique nose followed by electric flavors of delicate fruit and minerals.  It is unique in my limited experience with Beaujolais.  Sadly, two bottles of 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie proved to be yeasty, undrinkable messes.  So avoid the Carolon but do buy Le Pied de la Rue.  There is a bit of a delicacy which makes me think it is best drunk within a few years.

The 2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon is my second favorite wine of our evening.  It is a balanced, elegant wine of beauty.  It even takes on a vintage perfume note that makes it stand apart.  The 2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie is bright and a touch herbaceous, evocative of a cooler site.  It is solid but I prefer a bit more fruit material in my wine.  We finished with a bottle of 2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay that had been opened three days prior.  It still tasted of firm, dense black fruit with some wood.  I imagine this wine will easily reach ten years of age at which point it might open up.

In the end, our five bottles spanned a range of qualities but I am happy.  I now know to look out for more wines from Dutraive and Pignard.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie – $40
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40-70 year old vines, fermented in concrete then aged seven months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Aromatic. Bright acidity, almost electric, with fine grained yet ripe structure on the gums supports mineral flavors that are almost blue and black in fruit. Beautiful, delicate fruit flavors from pure berries. With air the beauty remains but the berry notes take on density. The finish is lifted with just a touch of yeast followed by a long aftertaste. **** Now – 2021.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12.5%. A cloudy, pale cranberry color. At first ,spritz on the tongue with articulate flavors of berries and some roundness in the mouth. But within two hours an undrinkable yeasty, mess. A second bottle was clear in the glass but soon tasted of popcorn and Pilsner. Not Rated.

2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay that was aged in oak for one year. Alcohol 12.5%. Deeper fruit and olive aromas. In the mouth is a good balance between the fruit, structure, and acidity such that is comes across as an elegant, well-balanced wine. There is a beauty that I prefer over the Regnie. With air, vintage perfume develops on the nose. In the mouth it becomes chiseled with grapey flavor and some ripeness in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2024.

2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines.  Alcohol 12%. The brighter red fruit aromas are more herbaceous and a touch dusty. In the mouth this is a bright wine, almost tart, with juicy acidity and fine pithe tannins in the finish. It tastes of cooler site. Attractive in a way but should be drunk soon. *** Now.

2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel then raised for 13 months in old oak foudres.  Alcohol 12.5%. Firm in the mouth with focused black fruit and touch of juicy acidity. It comes across as a young wine, still structured, and does not offer up much until three days after opening. There is some dense, ripe fruit in there, and a firm wood note. I do not see it improving in flavor but imagine it will live a long time. **(*) 2021 – 2029.