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2007 Domaine la Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure

June 30, 2011 1 comment

Domaine la Tour Vieille, Image from Dme. la Tour Vieille

Domaine la Tour Vieille began when Vincent Cantie and Christine Campadieu joined their two small family domaines in Collioure and Banyuls.  The estate is comprised of 32 acres of vineyards located on steep terraced hills with stone walls for erosion control.  The land and grapes are worked by hand.

La Pinede, Image from Dme. la Tour Vieille

The cuvee La Pinede is named after the vineyard where the grapes are sourced.  It is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Carignan. The Grenache vines are 30-40 years old and the Carignan vines are 40 years old.  Some vines from the La Tourette parcel are more than 50 years old. The vineyards consist of hard schist with a thin layer of ground. The harvest takes place during the first half of September with the Grenache picked first. The grapes are macerated for three weeks in stainless steel and the wine is aged for 12-18 months in large used oak barrels.  Approximately 1250 cases per year are produced.

2010 Harvest, note stone walls for water control, Image from Dme. la Tour Vieille

This wine is imported by Kermit Lynch. I bought this bottle during my recent trip to Soul Wine. Normally $22, I purchased it during the 15% off Happy Hour.  This is a very good value at $18.70.   I recommend this wine not only as something good to drink but as an excellent introduction to the red wines of Collioure.

2007 Domaine la Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure
This wine is more modern in style than Domaine du Mas Blanc but it is still rustic.  There are ripe, structured flavors of red and blue fruits.   These savory flavors take on an inky quality with a perfumed finish, and a spicy aftertaste.  This wine will appeal to many is a great value.  After one hour of air it is lovely to drink.  *** Now-2015.

Diamond Engraved Dutch Roemer Glasses of the 17th Century

June 29, 2011 5 comments

In my post The Dutch Wine Glasses of Pieter Claesz I analyzed the Roemer, Berkemeyer, and Venetian flutes painted by Pieter Claesz.  What these paintings do not illustrate is the sheer beauty of a diamond engraved Roemer glasses.  Diamond tip engraving flourished as an art form in the later 16th century thoughout Germany, Venice, and Austria. It was popular in the Netherlands during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was during this period that Anna Roemers Visscher (1584-1651) produced work that is considered some of the most exquisite.  I have selected a variety of glasses that illustrate poems, insects, flowers, portraits, a map, and coats of arms.  I encourage you to take your time by zooming into each image.  They are truly beautiful!

Note, I am not a Dutch wine glass scholar so I have simply reproduced the accompanying descriptions.

Roemer, Anna Roemers Visscher, 1619, Rijksmuseum

“Constantijn Huygens wrote an ode to Anna Roemers’s skill as an engraver titled: ‘To the diamond-tipped pen of Miss Anna Roemers’. Anna’s answer to Huygens was this römer, accompanied by a poem: Dry is my pen, Dull is my paper / Rusty are my senses, Spoiled is my lyre / Go blessed Poet, Go to the tops of Helicon, and fetch water, to drop / Onto my dry ink, So that I (as I am want to) / Can greet my friends with a normal pen.” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, Anna Roemers Visscher, 1621, Rijksmuseum

“Mysterious poem In addition to the illustrations Anna also inscribed an Italian text onto the glass: ‘Bella DORI gentil, Noi vaghi fiori, Da te prendiam gli honori’. It means, ‘Gentle, beautiful Doris, we, lovely flowers, derive from you the honour of our name.'” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, early 17th century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The engraving was based on a famous map of the Rhine by the mathematician and cartographer Caspar Vopel, which was published in Cologne in i Sg. On the Roemert,h e river’s course from Mainz to Utrecht is shown, with its many tributaries and branches and the adjacent lands, cities, and physical features.” Description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Roemer, M. Tesselschade Roesmers Visscher, 2nd quarter 17th C., Rijksmuseum

“The Latin text “Sic Soleo AmicosSic Soleo Amicos.” The 17th-century poet Jacob Westerbaen adopted the motto `Sic Soleo Amicos’ from the Roman author Terence (Publius Terentius Afer), and used it in 1624 as the title of a satirical poem., means, roughly translated, ‘this is how I treat my friends’.” Description from Rijksmuseum.

Roemer, c. 1650, Victoria and Albert Museum

“Engraved with vines and dancing peasants and a bagpipe player, seated on a barrel.” Description from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Roemer, c. 1650, The British Musem

“The inscription on this glass reads ‘Noch Leeft Orange’ (‘Still lives Orange’). The engraving almost certainly depicts William II, Prince of Orange (1626-50), who married Mary, Princess Royal of England.” Description from The British Museum.

Roemer, G.V. Nes, 1657, Victoria and Albert Museum

“Engraved with the Arms of William of Orange and the Seven Provinces of the Netherlands. Signed ‘G.V. Nes 1657’.” Description from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Roemer, 1689, Private Collection of Wilfred Buckley

“Roemer (two views), engraved with arms of William III and Mary on the occasion of their coronation as King and Queen of England, 1689.” Description from Wilfred Buckley, “A Series of Dutch Historical Glasses”, 1929.

Roemer, Willem Mooleyser, 1689, Victoria and Albert Museum

“A roemer an even larger Roemer with the arms of William III; the Dutch Republic; The Dutch Admiralty; Holland; Schiedam and the Van der Goes family and monogramme. Signed ‘W. M.’, dated ‘4m. 19dach 1689’ (19th April 1689) and inscribed ‘T’Welvaren Vant Lieve Vaderlandt 1689’ and ‘Concordia Res Parvae crescunt’ (Unity makes the weak powerful)” Description from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure

The 2007 Collioure vintage had an early Spring with an unremarkable crop.  The summer was marked by a June full of rain and humidity followed by a temperate, windy July.   The vineyards had to be sprayed to prevent mildew.  The wind caused the grape skins to thicken along with concentrating the juice, acids, and tannins.  Harvest started at the beginning of September.  The winds caused the crop yields to be 40% less than 2006.

The 2005 Collioure vintage was ultimately dry.  Winter started off with enough rain that the water table was supportive of the vines.  The summer was cooler and not too windy.  The grapes kept their acidity.  The cooler temperatures resulted in a harvest that was one week later.  It started mid-September and finished up before the end of the month.

The Les Junquets cuvee is a blend of 90% Syrah, 5% Marsanne, and 5% Roussanne. The Syrah vineyard is located on a steep terrace that faces west.  The grapes are macerated for 20 days. All of the grapes were vinified together and aged for one year in three-year old barrels.

These wines are imported by Vineyard Brands, distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd. and select vintages available at MacArthur’s.  They cost $30 per bottle.  These two selections were a step up from the Cosprons Levants.  I recommend both of these wines!  While you can drink the 2007 right now, it needs several hours of air, and undoubtedly will benefit from 2-3 years of aging.  The 2005 is easier to drink right now and I particularly like the meaty, wild nose.  These Mas Blanc wines are probably not for those who like modern styled wines.

2007 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure
This is a bigger wine with ripe fruit and a saline character.  There are waves of flavor, incense mixed with black fruits and some spice.  The flavors are mouthfilling with fine to medium tannins.  There is a pervasive aftertaste.  On the second night the wine puts on good weight with a salty, inky, glycerine aftertaste that coats the mouth.  *** 2015-2022.

2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure
The nose started off very meaty then eventually revealed raspberries.  In the mouth there are ample raspberry flavors that are thinner in richness than the 2007.  There is more prickly acidity and an iodine/saline character.  With air the red raspberries mixed with black fruits.  The coating tannins come out through the finish and with the wine softening out in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2019.

2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure
Tasted 26 Feb 2009
A medium+ opaque color of garnet with cherry. A light to medium nose of candied raspberry, white grapefruit freshness, with dark, wild, earthy undertones. With air a tobacco and smokey nose develops. In the mouth a beam of red raspberry fruit wrapped in a blanket of dark fruit. The flavors are delivered with a moderate mouthfeel. There are dark fruits in the aftertaste along with a moderate amount of tannins. This drinks well but certainly will age a number of years.

Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Cosprons Levants, Collioure

The Parce family has been living in Banyuls since the 17th century.  The grandfather Gaston Parce, the village doctor, married Pauline Villarem in 1910.  Her family first acquired vineyards in 1639.  They subsequently build the Mas Blanc winery and Pauline gave birth their son Andre.  Andre took great interest in wine and in promoting the appellations of Banyuls and Collioure.  Dr. Andre Parce passed away in 1998 leaving one of his sons, Jean Michel, to run the domaine.

Domaine du Mas Blanc makes three different red Collioure each of which are named after the various vineyards. According to Rosemary George the 1996 Cosprons Levants cuvee was a blend of  60% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Counoise.  The 2007 cuvee it is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, and Grenache.  The grapes come from the oldest vines on the estate that are planted on clay and schist.  This vineyard is only 900 meters from the sea so the climate is dominated by marine winds.  The Mourvedre is 40 years old.   The grapes are destalked then fermented together for 15 days of maceration.  The wine is then aged for 12 months in old barrels.

These wines are imported by Vineyard Brands, distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd. and select vintages available at MacArthur’s.  These wines are roughly $22-$23 per bottle.  We preferred the 2005 which is tasty and reasonably priced.  I would personally cellar it two to three more years but if you cannot wait, give it several hours of air before drinking.  If you buy the 2007 then cellar it instead of drinking it.

2007 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Cosprons Levants, Collioure
This wine had a nose of “muddy grass” according to Jenn.  This light to medium bodied wine has a slightly, old-school oxidative flavor, that reveals more herbs and stones than fruit.  It is a bit richer than the 2005 but less complex.  It shows good potential with its red fruits, some dust, and acidity that enlivens the throat.  It shows some bacon and toast flavors with air.  On the second night the fruit unfolded by developing a strong raspberry/Kirsch nose.  It shows less tannins and is softer than Les Junquets.  Note, Robert Parker makes mention of tasting a barrel that was dominated by new wood and that his tasting note is an approximation, as Vineyard Brands only selections old barrels.  Given the strength of the 2007 vintage perhaps this is shutdown.  **(*) 2017-2022.

2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Cosprons Levants, Collioure
This wine had a nose of red fruit.  In the mouth there were cleaner flavors of red fruit, dusty red berries, and lots of acidity.  With air black fruit and a distinctive set of herbs like black tea developed.  There were sweet spices in the finish and a nice inky coating of the lips.  A really nice bottle that is complete.  *** 2015-2022.

The Wines of Collioure

Collioure, Image by Eugene W. Nourminsky (flickr)

Collioure is a small village located in the extreme south-west corner of France.  Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees it is exceedingly close to the Spanish border.  Once part of the Kingdom of Aragon its cuisine is still Catalan in nature. 

Crop from The Pyrenees, Baedeker's Southern France, 1914

The vineyards of Collioure produce two types of wines the vin deux naturel Banyuls and the dry red wine Collioure.  Banyuls was first made by the Knights Templars in the middle ages and has long been the most famous wine of the region.  Banyuls was one of the first appellations granted back in 1936.  Collioure was granted appellation status in 1971.  Until then, it was known as Banyuls Sec.

Collioure Vineyards, Image by Lubin S (flickr)

Collioure and Banyuls comprise approximately 2000 hectares of vineyards of which only 330 hectares are in the Collioure appellation.  This area is practically limited by the Spanish border, the Mediterranean sea, and the mountains.  The vineyards lie up to 400 meters in altitude.  Depending upon location the microclimate tilts towards Mediterranean or mountainous influences.  The lower soils closer to the sea are alluvial in nature where those higher in altitude, near the mountains, are of limestone and schiste.  The vineyards tend to be terraced with stone walls to control occasional heavy rainfall.  This area is very dry with periods of six months between rain.  As a result cactus grows here.

Vineyards Near Collioure 1980s, Image by NickD2008 (flickr)

The red wines of Collioure are made from at least 60% Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre with up to 30% from Carignan and Cinsault.  Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre may not exceed 90% of the blend.  The vines are trained as gobolet (bush vine) except for the delicate Syrah which is trained on wires.  Because it is difficult to mechanically till the vineyards weedkillers may be used and are even sprayed from helicopters.

Collioure is also famous as an artistic community.  Many artists including Andre Derain, Henri Matisee, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh all painted here.  More recently, Patrick O’Brien, the author of the Aubrey-Maturin novels lived here.

Andre Derain, Mountains at Collioure, 1905 National Gallery of Art

Henri Matisse, La Mer Vue a Collioure, 1906

Charles Renee Mackintosh, The Fort, 1925-1926

Only a small portion of this low production wine is imported into the states.  Through MacArthur Beverages, Bacchus Importers Ltd., and Soul Wine I have been able to collect these wines.  Jenn and I have tasted through seven different wines and I will be posting my tasting notes throughout this week.

  • 2007 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Cosprons Levants, Collioure
  • 2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Cosprons Levants, Collioure
  • 2007 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure
  • 2005 Domaine du Mas Blanc (Dr. Parce), Les Junquets, Collioure
  • 2007 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure
  • 2004 Coume del Mas, Schistes, Collioure
  • 2003 Coume del Mas, Quadratur, Collioure

    Collioure Vineyards Near the Sea, Image by nitot (flickr)

2010 diatom Chardonnays

Diatom is a project of Greg Brewer who also works at Brewer-Clifton and Melville.  Named after the diatomite soils found in the Santa Rita Hills this project was started in 2005.  The philosophy is to remove all external influences so as to produce a wine that is true to the specific grapes harvested.  Fermentation takes place in very cold neutral vessels and malolactic fermentation is inhibited.  The wine is aged on its lees.

When it comes to red wines, I shy away from the big, rich, oaky wines.  But with white wines, I rather enjoy the big, buttery California Chardonnays.  I typically drink just one glass of white wine at a time so I never get a chance to be fatigued by the wine.  It was with great curiosity that I tried these two wines which are at the extreme opposite of big and buttery.  I did not like them.  I tried them over three days and at both cold and warm temperatures.  They both barely budged in development.  I preferred the Hana Shinobu over the Miya but certainly not at these prices.  Perhaps I would enjoy the Clos Pepe or Huber.  Trying these wines left me wanting to drink a 2009 German Riesling such as the Schafer Frohlich, Bockenauer Felseneck Spatlese for $30.

I purchased these wines from MacArthur’s.  The Miya cost roughly $46 and the Hana Shinobu was $34.

2010 diatom, Miya, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
There were 2,760 bottles of this 13.5% Abv wine produced. This wine is a rather light, straw color.  There light nose reveals grapey, floral aromas.  In the mouth this steely wine has some mineral, tart fruit and piercing citrus-like acidity.  There is some mid-palate complexity. * Now.

2010 diatom, Hana Shinobu, Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills
There were 900 bottles of this 12.7% Abv wine produced.  The vineyards are younger.  This wine has a light, fresh nose of stones and flowers.  Again there is piercing acidity, tart flavors before it puts on midpalate weight.  Flint flavors develop with the longish finish.  ** Now-2015.

2005-2007 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages

June 24, 2011 1 comment

Seguret, Image by Gilles (flickr)

Jenn and I have been drinking the wines of Domaine de Mourchon for a while. We typically drink the tasty and well-priced Tradition throughout the year. In the warmer months we drink the Loubie rose.  We have not drunk a Grande Reserve in some time so I thought it would be fun to try three vintages side by side.  The wines of this estate are imported by and available at MacArthur’s.  The 2005 and 2006 vintages are $20 and the 2007 is $25.

Domaine de Mourchon, Image by Karen Apricot (flickr)

All three wines were opened at the same time and tasted over two nights.  While the Tradition can benefit from short term aging it is more approachable in youth than the Grande Reserve.  All three of the wines tasted need a few more years of age before they will hit their stride.  You cannot go wrong with any of the vintages.  While the 2007 has more of everything, including complexity, it may not be your preference.  If you prefer richer styles then go for the 2007 or the 2006.  If you prefer a structured style then grab the 2005.

Domaine de Mourchon Vines in the Winter, Image by Guy Butters (flickr)

Domaine de Mourchon is a relatively young estate that was established in 1998 by the Scottish McKinlay family.  They purchased 17 hectares of 55-year-old vines and in 2003 they purchased seven additional hectares.  The vineyards lie on a terraced hill at 300 meters.  The vines are 60 years old and located on soil that is a mixture of clay, limestone and grey sandstone.  The Grande Reserve is a blend of 55-65% Grenache and 35-45% Syrah.  For aging, 40% rests in oak barrels and 60% in concrete vats.

2005 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This wine has a grittier, structured nose. There are hard flavors of cherry mixed in with some minerals and blue fruits. It has the lightest body. The finish reveals perfume essence before the aftertaste brings out fine+ grapey tannins and a little sweet spice.  *** 2015-2019.

2006 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This wine has a lighter, fruity nose. It was shutdown on the first night. On the second night it had the most approachable flavors. They were rounder black fruit flavors and a fuller body marked by sweet spiced mixed with tannins. The tannins are finer and more aggressive. This wine also shows more alcohol, maybe it is the extra 0.5%.  *** 2015-2022.

2007Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This wine has a nose of raspberries, Kirsch, and spices. The flavors are mouthfilling though this medium-bodied wine has less body than the 2006. On the first night there are some hard, blue fruits and nice minerals. On the second night the soft flavors are supported by acidity. These flavors developed into perfumed, inky fruits, with ethereal blue fruits and perfume that coats the mouth. There is a long, minerally finish.  *** 2015-2022.