Archive for June, 2008

Cotes du Rhone Villages under $18, 20 June 2008

Here are five Cotes du Rhone Village wines I’ve had recently. I recommend the first three wines. They are all different. If you haven’t drunk the 2006 Cros de la Mure, CdR at $17 you should probably try that before these wines.I enjoyed the flavors of the Janasse. The Garanciere is drinking well now and is in a more mature state than the Janasse. I did not like the Font du Vent at first but after a couple of hours its charms were revealed. The Buisserons had an interesting nose but didn’t deliver the goods. The Berthet-Rayne was boring.
2003 Domaine de la Janasse, Cuvee Terre D’Argile, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $18
This is 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre from an 80-year old vineyard. Lighter than the 2005 Grand Veneur, Les Chapauvins, CdRV, more garnet in color. A light nose of dark fruit. Dark fruit that immediately comes across as structured then expanding in the mid-palate. From the beginning there is mild acidity and light, gritty tannins. Not that fleshy of a wine but has a taste that I rather enjoy. Needs air and can age more.
2001 Domaine la Garanciere, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $18
This wine is 65% Grenache, and 35% Carignan, Mourvedre, and others. In the glass it shows medium-opacity and a garnet color with some bricking. A light to medium nose of perfumed, blue fruit. In the mouth there are blue/purple fruits, somewhat inky, then a simple mid-palate. The acidity expands from the middle to the finish where blue/dark fruits re-emerge. It is wrapped up by a lightly salivating aftertaste with grippy tannins. It is drinking well right now.

2005 Font du Vent, Confidentia, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $13
This wine is 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache from hand-harvested vines. Light to medium ruby with a tilt towards the browns. A light nose of red fruits with some blue fruit that is slightly peppery. In the mouth there is red/blue fruit framed by subtle tannins from start to finish. The fruit starts to fade after the initial burst when the acidity comes through. This required couple hours of breathing to open up but will be better with some age.

2005 Domaine de Buisserons, Cairanne, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $15
A young-looking wine that is medium in opacity and purple/ruby in color. A light nose of indian-spice and some pepper. There is savory, red/blue fruit which fades as the acidity develops. This is a light to medium-bodied wine with light, fine tannins. This wine smells good and has some initial flavors but just doesn’t deliver for me.

2006 Berthet-Rayne, Cairanne, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $14
I didn’t take a note on this wine. Not that there was anything wrong with it, Jenn and I just found it simple and uninteresting for the price. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Three From Gigondas

June 11, 2008 1 comment
Here are three young wines from Gigondas I’ve recently drunk. The Chapelle St. Arnoux is a diluted version of a Gigondas that can be drunk now. I’d rather spend my $15 to drink something else for it does not evoke Gigondas to me.The St-Damien and Font-Sane are very young and not for the feint of heart. I’d only open these wines to decide if you want to buy more to lay down. The St-Damien is currently drinking better than the Font-Sane and will probably come around sooner. The St-Damien has more creamy, sweet fruit compared to the Font-Sane. The Font-Sane has a lovely perfume and more elegant fruit to it but everything is locked down tight. I don’t have enough experience yet but my one reservation is if there is enough fruit to survive the immense tannins.
2005 St-Damien, Cuvee Les Sauteyrades, Gigondas – $25
This wine is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre from vines that are 60 to 70 years old. It is a medium opaque red/ruby with slight more brick color than the Font-Sane. A light nose of slightly sweet fruit and spice. In the mouth it has light round, tart blue-red fruit with some creaminess. There is blue fruit in the finish enlivened by acidity. This full-bodied wine wraps up with fine, mouth coating tannins. Try in five years.

2005 Domaine Font-Sane, Cuvee Terrasses des Dentelles, Gigondas – $28
This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. This wine is made from grapes grown on 4 Ha of man-made terraces. The higher altitude helps give more finesse. This medium-opaque wine is a tad more ruby and vibrant than the St-Damien. It has a tight nose that reveals perfumed fruit after much air.  In the mouth there are violet fruits. This wine is structured by significant tannins from the beginning. These tannins are fine and grapey. I’d give it five years before trying again but it may need ten. Quite different from the 2004 regular Gigondas cuvee.

2004 Chapelle St. Arnoux, Cuvee Non-Filtree, Gigondas – $15
This is light to medium ruby-garnet. There is a light nose of red fruit. In the mouth there is cool red fruit, light amounts of pepper, framed by syrah-like structure. The reserved fruit flavors fade in the mouth, replaced by a simple, short finish, and light tannin aftertaste.



Five Tasty Wines From the Rhone, All Below $21.

June 10, 2008 1 comment

Good afternoon,

I’m plowing through as many affordable Rhone wines that Jenn and I can. Even with the weak dollar there are many tasty, affordable new releases out there. Jenn and I liked all five wines listed below. We really liked the Roubine and are going to re-taste it against some other Vacqueyras this week. I’m always happy when I come across a syrah that is dark and earthy like the Bastide St. Dominique. I’d personally pony up the extra $2 to get the St. Damien CdR over the Montirius CdR. If you throw in the St. Cosme, Little James’ Basket Press you can get 4 qpr wines in the $10-$12 range. That’s great! The first four wines can certainly benefit from some aging.

2005 Domaine la Roubine, Vacqueyras – $20
The La Roubine vineyards have been around for decades but they first made and bottled their own vintage in 2000. They currently use half of their grapes for their wines. They were initially inspired by St Cosme and La Bouissiere. This wine is 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. The Grenache and Mourvedre vines are 50-80 years old and the Syrah vines are 10-15 years old. It is fermented in concrete tanks with wild yeasts. It is aged for 12 months, half of the wine is aged in small barrels (15% new and the rest 1-6 yeras old) and the other half in concrete tank. This wine is rather opaque, with a youthful ruby with purple color. There is a light nose of perfurmed blue fruits. In the mouth the perfumed blue fruits appear, almost violet in flavor, with a slight inkiness and minerality. The very fine tannins expand from the beginning coating the cheeks. The wine finishes with a coating of tannins, somewhat round fruit, and a good depth of flavor. This is a very good Vacqueyras that can be drunk now if you decant it for several hours but it is best to age it.

2005 La Bastide St-Dominique, Cuvee Jules Rochebonne, Cotes du Rhone – $21
This cuvee is 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache. Light to medium opaque in the glass. There is a light nose that Jenn described as, “everything-bagel toasted with butter.” It is a round wine, tilting towards cool, dark fruits, earthiness, and some minerals. There are fine tannins in the finish and a long, dark, inky aftertaste. It is in an old-school style that I love.

2006 Domaine St. Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone – $12
This wine is 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre and Carignan. These 50 year old vines are located on the Plan de Dieu. A light nose of more structured red fruit, with an almost peppery, spiced nose. The color is purple-garnet, more purple than the St. Cosme Little James’ Basket Press. In the mouth there is redder fruit in this structured wine then some mid-palate acidity. There are good, fine tannins throughout. Blue fruits and softness developed on the second day. I was a big fan of the 2004 and am a big fan of this one as well.

2006 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone – $12
This wine needs no introduction as it is always mentioned on the board. It is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah much of which is from Vacqueyras. This vintage has a light nose of red and dark fruit. There is dark red fruit in the mouth with darker fruit in the middle. The wine is close to medium bodied with very fine tannins throughout. There are young tannins at the finish. It drank great on the second day.

2006 Domaine Montirius, Cotes du Rhone – $10
The domaine has made Vacqueyras and Gigondas cuvees in the past but have recently introduced a Cotes du Rhone. This wine is a blend of 73% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. I didn’t jot down any notes but it is an affordable wine worth trying. It has a bit less complexity than the St. Damien and La Garrigue and won’t last as long. It is certainly worth the $10.



Cahors, Corbieres, and Minervois, Tasted 06 June 2008

I’m more of a Rhone and Roussillon fan but I’ll give anything a try. The Haut-Monplaisir and Fontsainte at $12 and $10 are good introductions. While I would probably buy other wines at that price, I would not hesitate to try the higher-end cuvees.

2005 Domaine La Berangeraie, Cuvee Maurin, Cahors – $15
This wine which is 100% Malbec is hand harvested, hand sorted, de-stemmed, and aged in concrete. I found slightly tart red fruits in this light-bodied wine. This more austere wine has thin fruit that gives way to medium tannins and a light finish. The wine is Ok but not my style. I’d rather drink Dona Paula Malbec at this price point.

2005 Chateau Haut-Monplaisir, Cahors – $12
This 100% Malbec wine is micro-oxygenated and made in cement vats. The grapes come from 44.5 acres located on the highest terrace. This wine is a dark purple/violet in the glass. There is a light nose of dark fruit. In the mouth I found blue/purple fruit, inkiness, that makes way to a brighter and tarter midpalate. It finishes with drying, lip-coating tannins. This is an easy to drink Cahors.

2005 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres – $10
This wine is made from 70% Carignan, 20% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. The grapes are hand-picked, placed whole in vats for temperature-controlled carbonic maceration and aged for 6 months in French oak barrels. The wine is light-ruby with a purple tinge. A light nose of earthy, fresh red berries. Tart raspberries in the mouth, that is structured and enlivened by acidity. This light to medium-bodied wine has a slightly mouth-watering finish, that gives way to structured light tannins in the aftertaste. This is an affordable, decent, modern Corbieres.

2005 Chateau Coupe Roses, Cuvee Vignals, Minervois – ~$15
This wine is made from Syrah, Grenache, and a small amount of old-vine Carignan. Light to medium opaque in the glass. A light nose of blue fruits mixed with syrah scents. With air the blue fruits are mixed with pepper, followed by a lean body and a finish of mouth-coating fine tannins. This refreshing wine is light to medium-bodied with a light, persistent finish. The Syrah character develops with air.

Four Affordable French Wines, Tasted 04 June 2008

Good morning. I’ve grouped these four tasting notes together because they represent mature wines that are near the $15 price point. If you are on a budget it is possible to find inexpensive and diverse wines. The Ogier should be drunk soon. The Cazaux is chugging along but it is a simpler wine. The Ch. d’Or et de Gueules is drinking well and would probably appeal to more people than the Soumade. The Soumade has the most power and life but I found it a polarizing style, at least the bottle I drank. My personal opinion is that it is better to spend an extra $10 to buy a better bottle but there is a place for everything.

2001 Domaine la Soumade, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvee Prestige, Vin des Pays d’Orange – $15
I don’t have the details for this wine but the 1999 was a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. According to Parker’s notes, the 1999 was made from destemmed grapes that received the pigeage treatment of punching down the cap during fermentation. A dark garnet. A medium intensity nose of dark fruits and earthy stink. In the mouth there are dark fruits with red cherries and muddy chocolate that develop with air. This full-bodied wine has fruit is slightly salty with noticeable acidity and tannins. This really wasn’t my style of wine.

1999 Michel Ogier, Syrah, La Rosine, Vin des Pays – ~$15
A medium-opaque ruby-garnet color. Light nose. Initially there is sour cherry, lean fruit that makes way to acidity. This is a light to medium-bodied wine whose tannins have fully resolved. Drink up.

1999 Ch. d’Or et de Gueules, Cuvee Prestige, Costieres de Nimes – $15
This wine is 80% syrah and 20% Carignan and Mourvedre. A rather dark medium burgundy color. A light nose of cherry and raspberry. Red cherry flavors, herbs, and slight earthiness in the mouth disappears in the midpalate but comes back in the finish. The light to medium-bodied fruit blossoms then leaves fine lip-coating tannins in the finish where some acidity comes through.

2000 Clos de Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras – ~$15
This had a very light nose of blue and purple fruits. In the mouth there are blue fruits, some wood toast, that comes across as soft fruit with structure. There are bacon and toast flavors on the finish. This simpler wine is holding up well.


Three Modern Rhone Wines

June 4, 2008 1 comment
Hello,I have grouped three recent Rhones that I have tasted that are modern in style. All three wines could serious benefit from some aging. I enjoyed all three with the Lirac representing a good value buy.
2005 Alain Jaume, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $17
The Jaume family has been in the wine business since the 19th century. The 35-acre estate of Clos de Sixte was only acquired in 2003. This wine is made from 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre. It is made in stainless steel vats and pigeage is used. This medium+ opaque wine is a youthful purple-red in color. There is a light nose of spice and slightly volatile red fruits. In the mouth there are red fruits with blue fruits backing them up. The modern fruit quickly shifts to cool acidity and assertive tannins that are grippy and fine. Blue fruits dominate in the finish. This structured wine is medium to full-bodied. Jenn and I really liked this. My previous favorite bottle of Lirac is the 2005 Mordoree, Reine de Bois. This Jaume is excellent and at a great price. It is probably best to age it for several years.

2005 Alain Jaume, Terrasses de Montmirail, Gigondas – ($18 on sale) $22
This wine is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It is a medium opaque youthful, purple. There are somewhat rounded blue fruits, almost peppery. The flavors expand in the mouth, with upfront fine tannins that coat the mouth, and an inky blue finish. There is moderate acidity throughout. This wine comes across as a cooler example of Gigondas. This young and modern wine can be drunk now or better yet, held on to for several years. Elegant enough to be a summer wine.

2006 Domaine du Coulet, No Wine’s Land, Cotes du Rhone – $23
Matthieu Barret is a young winemaker, only in his early 30s, located in Cornas. Domaine du Coulet was founded in 1999 and this wine comes from an 1.85 ha plot. It is 100% Syrah from 40 year old vines. These vines are located in the limestone portion of the hill Les Arlettes. This portion of Les Arlettes is located between Cornas and St. Joseph and can only be used for Cotes du Rhone hence the name of the wine. In the glass this is a very young, medium-opaque, grapey purple. There is a light young nose. In the mouth there are lots of tart red berries presented in a clean manner. There are young, fine-grained, mouth-filling tannins that provide structure for the wine. The finish is slighty juicy, wrapping up with a tart/puckering aftertaste.