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Archive for August, 2011

Two 2009 Syrahs From Tensley Wines

We have drunk several different Tensley wines from the 2006 and 2007 vintages.  The most recent was the 2007 Colson Canyon Syrah which I rather enjoyed and thought showed strong promise for development after several more years of age.  These 2009 selections seem very ripe and concentrated.  The base Syrah is quite drinkable and well priced.  The Colson Canyon Syrah is so powerful, in terms of flavor and not alcohol level, that it was hard to drink more than one glass per day.  That bugs me because I want to desire a wine.  I liked the 2007 so I will revisit the 2009 vintage in a couple of years to see what shakes out.  These wines are distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd and are also available at MacArthur’s.  The base Santa Barbara County Syrah is available in the DC area for $18 and the Colson Canyon for $35. I would recommend buying the base Syrah as an introduction to Tensley Wines.  I am on the fence with the Colson Canyon.

2009 Tensley Wines, Syrah, Santa Barbara County
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced with 40% of the fruit sourced from Camp4, 40% Colson Canyon, and 20% Tierra Alta vineyards.  The nose is expressive with ample amounts of both sweet and ripe cherry and plum aromas.  In the mouth the full flavors also reveal some tart berries, barrel notes, and hints of perfume.  This is an assertive wine is attractively priced and if I were nitpicking, it is light on acidity.

2009 Tensley Wines, Syrah, Colson Canyon Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
This wine was aged in predominantly neutral oak.  This shows even more sweet and ripe fruit on the nose but with more complexity.  In the mouth the fruit has a powdery texture, shows interesting minerals, and gobs of concentrated flavors.  There are plum flavors and notes of sour red fruits not found in the base Syrah.  This is undeniably and unabashedly a modern Californian wine.  This barely budged after being open for two days and that is without using any Private Preserve.  I suspect this will develop at a glacial pace so I would stick this in the cellar for a number of years.

Two Budget Friendly Wines

These two wines are not only tasty but are affordably priced.  The Domaine de Cambis is $13 and the Bodega Luigi Bosca is only $10 at MacArthur’s!!!  I recommend both of these wines.  They fit the bill whether you need an affordable daily drinker or several cases for a summer party.

2010 Domaine de Cambis, La Vie en Rose, Saint-Chinian
This wine is a blend of 70-80% Cinsault and 20-30% Syrah from old vines.  This rose wine has a color of salmon.  This wine needs time to open up and should be served warmer than refrigerator temperature.  After an hour of air the red berries and minerality really develops leaving a lovely, sweet minerally flavor that coats the lips.  There is nice weight to the fruit, lots of enlivening acidity, and tart/sour red berries that makes you want to drink more.

2009 Bodega Luigi Bosca, Finca La Linda, Tempranillo, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Finca Don Leoncio vineyard at 780 meters.  The vines average 20 years of age.  The wine was aged for six months in American oak casks.  This wine has a nose of ripe black fruits and black plum. In the mouth the plum flavors continue with a powdery ripeness and some up-front grip.  The flavors turn softer in the finish as some roast earth notes mix with medium strength tannins on the tongue.  There is a lot of flavor in this modern wine!  While it could use a bit more acidity this is a pleasing wine and a strong value.

2008 Twelve Wine, Pinot Noir 144, Oregon

Twelve Wines is a family run business whose first production was the 2003 vintage.   The vineyards are located near Carlton, Oregon and contain 11 acres of Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Pinot Blanc.  The vines are 10 to 26 years old.  The wines are made at the ADEA Wine Company.  The grapes are fermented in small tanks with 30% aged in new French oak barrels and the rest in one to four-year old barrels.  The estate wine is aged for 11 months with the reserve selections, which includes the 144,  seeing up to 20 months of barrel aging.

Charlie Guarding Pommard 1 Block, Image from Twelve Wine

I purchased this selection from the Twelve Wine at Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle. I believe it was priced at $35.  Both Jenn and I enjoyed this young wine and feel it is well priced for the quality.  I wish I could take a time machine several years into the future to see how this one develops!

2008 Twelve Wine, Pinot Noir 144, Yamhill-Carlton District, Oregon
This wine represents a barrel selection from the oldest vines in the vineyard which were picked on 29 October, 2008.  There were 100 cases produced.  This wine has good aromas of ripe raspberry fruit and spices.  In the mouth the red fruit is a bit clipped with noticeable barrel influenced flavors and tannins on the finish.  The red berries then mixes with inky blue fruit followed by an aftertaste that reminded us of whiskey barrels.  This is a tasty wine has a bit of grip and clearly needs a few more years of age to settle down.  Promising stuff.

Two Roussannes from France and California

August 20, 2011 1 comment

I was first introduced to Stolpman Vineyards last year when Lou opened a bottle of the 2008 L’Avion.  I enjoyed the bottle very much so Lou was kind enough to allow me to purchase a few bottles from his next mailing list offer.  When I asked for a bottle of Roussanne Phil recommended the Eric Texier for $22.  I rather enjoyed and recommend both of these wines.  I have no experience cellaring these wines but I certainly do so as both wines leave an impression of youth and Roussanne based wines have the ability to age.

2009 Erix Texier, Roussanne, Brezeme,  Cotes du Rhone
This wine is 100% Roussanne sourced from a vineyard in Brezeme which is located in the Northern Rhone.  This vineyard is surrounded by a clos, an ancient stone wall, and contains 25-30 year old vines.  The vineyard is planted with a mix of varietals on rock soils with galets.  This wine is a rich straw color.  The delicate nose has hints of lemon and according to Jenn, is a bit “watery” in a refreshing sense.  The fresh flavors are complemented by stones and delivered with a nice mouthfeel.  This wine is restrained compared to the Stolpman.  There is a hint of oily character as the aftertaste releases good mineral flavors.

2009 Stolpman Vineyards, L’Avion, Santa Ynez Valley
This wine is 100% Roussanne sourced from dry-farmed vineyards with a thin layer of clay-shale above limestone. The grapes were fermented in 500 liter new French oak barrels then aged for 15 months.  This wine has a golden color.  The nose contains aromas of flint and flowers.  In the mouth there are flavors of apricot and an ample amount of stones with just a bit of toast.  The body is viscous with an oily aftertaste.  Quite tasty but I would venture it is young.

Two Wines from Domaine Gallety

Domaine Gallety, Image by patrickessa

I have sampled a few vintages from Domaine Gallety over the years.  They have all been the cuvee Domaine Gallety which I have frankly found less interesting than similarly priced wines.  On the other hand, Jenn and I really enjoyed the Haute Vigne which comes across as complete.  The two selections reviewed in this post are affordable wines with the 2004 available for $16 at MacArthur’s and the Haute Vignes, a dump bin find, for even less.

2004 Domaine Gallety, Cotes du Vivarais
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache from 40 year old vines that was aged for 15 months in neutral oak barrels.  This wine has a nose of roast earth and cocoa with aromatic herbs on the second night.  In the mouth there is dark, red fruit with some softness.  This robust wine has somewhat coarse tannins and a gritty aspect mixed with flavors of stone.

2005 Domaine Gallety, Haute Vigne, Cotes du Vivarais
This wine is made from fruit that is not to the level required for the Domaine Gallety cuvee.  There is a dark nose of smooth berries.  In the mouth the dark berries are slightly juicy which pairs well with this smooth wine.  The supple flavors are spiced and a little salty.  Fine tannins quietly build and coat the lips through the finish and aftertaste.  This enjoyable wine is reaching a maturity that will not inolve much more complexity.

A Lirac and a Cotes du Roussillon From 2005

West of the Rhone, Freda White

We have drunk a variety of wines from both Clos des Fees and Domaine de la Mordoree.    The Clos des Fees was $14 and the Mordoree was $15 at MacArthur’s dump bin.  If you have current vintages of Clos de Fees Les Sorcieres I would not hesitate to cellar them for several years.  The 2005 is drinking well and far from decline.

2005 Domaine du Clos des Fees, Les Sorcieres, Cotes du Roussillon
This is a blend of 35% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 30% Syrah.  The Grenache and Carignan are sourced from 40-80 year old vines where as the Syrah stems from young vines.  The wine is aged for eight months in concrete tanks.  This wine has a light nose of red fruit with a distinct note.  The soft flavors of red fruit mix with dusty minerals and roasted earth.  There is a low-level of fine tannins throughout with the entire wine enlivened by good acidity.  The flavors take on a light amount of sweet spices and stones.  This wine has a coarse warmth to it that makes it enjoyable to drink now.  While it will last for several more years I would not hesitate to drink it now.

2005 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Dame Rousse, Lirac
This cuvee is an even blend of Grenache and Syrah source from vines that are 40 years old.  This wine has a minimal, nondescript nose.  In the mouth the simple purple and blue fruits make way to hard, dusty stones.  There are plenty of tannins that overshadow the fruit.  With air the fruit is complemented by a little spice and some herbs.  There are ample lip-coating tannins in the aftertaste along with red fruit and notes of cedar.  This vintage of La Dame Rousse has never been a personal favorite.

Two Cotes du Rhones from 2001 and 2005

August 17, 2011 1 comment

The Rhone Glacier and The Source of the Rhone, William Pars, 1770-1, British Museum

These were recent selections that I bought from MacArthur’s.  The Tardieu-Laurent was on the order of $15-$17 and the Domaine La Garrigue was $15.  I love drinking Cotes du Rhone wines because they are quite affordable even with some age to them.  For my money I would pass on the Tardieu-Laurent and grab the Domaine La Garrigue.  The later has more personality right now.

2001 Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone
This wine had a light nose of earth and cedar with a touch of herbs.  In the mouth the soft flavors follow the nose with a core of red fruit and cedar.  The slightly gritty texture has light tannins.  The fruit lightens up through the course of the wine and are starting to fade.  The wine stopped developing after 30 minutes.  I would recommend drinking up this wine but there is no rush because it will just slowly decline for years to come.

2005 Domaine de la Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone
This cuvee is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah from 60-90 year old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in 80% tank and 20% oak. It was made by Philippe Cambie.  This wine sports a nose of strapping blue fruits and herbs.  In the mouth the flavors start off soft but firm up after two hours.  The are dark blue fruits and minerals delivered in a lively vein but there is a hard profile to the wine.  There are fine to medium tannins.  This brambly wine has athletic power, I would give it another year or drink it during cold weather when you need bracing.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas

Excerpt from France Revised, John Speed, London 1676

We always enjoy trying a wine from Gigondas.  If you look closely at this map you can find the town of Gigondas.  The image is bisected by the Rhone river with the mouth between the words “The” and “Parts”.  As you follow the river north, one-third of the way you will find Avignon.  A little further up is Orange with Gigondas lying to the east.  It bumps into the rose colored border of Provence.

Gigondas and Vineyards, Image from Ch St Cosme

Louis Barruol took over Chateau du Saint Cosme in 1992, relieving his father Henri from 30+ years of dedication.  Much of the production had been sold to negociants but Louis decided to increase the amount of wine bottled from the estate’s old vines.  This selection represents a taste of Louis’ initial efforts to improve the quality of the estate.  This selection is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault from vines that averaged 40-5o years of age.  The wine was aged for 18 months with 75% in stainless steel vats and 25% in 4-year-old barrels.

Louis Barroul, Image from Ch St Cosme

I bought, along with some other vintages, from MacArthur’s.  My familiarity with Gigondas starts with the 1998 vintage so I was particularly excited to try this wine.  While 1995 was a particularly strong vintage, this wine has already reached maturity and is in slow decline.  For lovers of fully mature wine there is plenty of life left but those who prefer fruit will find this too old.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas
This nose reveals fully mature aromas of beef, blood, and other roast meats.  In the mouth the mature flavors are earthy and soft with blue fruits that mix with minerals.  The finish left impressions of roast earth.  On the second night the wine was a lighter version of itself.  It became more coarse with the addition of sour red berries in the finish.  There are tea leaves in the long, gentle aftertaste.

Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”, Nahe

August 15, 2011 2 comments

I am now opening bottles of German Riesling that I have bought over the last several years.  It normally takes me several days to finish a bottle by myself so in the past I would end up dumping leftover wine.  I dislike dumping good wine so I all but ceased opening up my German wines.  Several weeks ago I started injecting Private Preserve into all of our opened bottles of wine and I feel that it remarkably maintains the wine.  With my fears cast aside I eagerly opened these three vintages from Weingut Hexamer.

Weingut Hexamer, Image from Weingut Hexamer

Weingut Hexamer is an 18 hectare estate run by Harald and Petra Hexamer.  They have several different vineyard with these selections coming from the 7 hectare Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg vineyard.  This is a rocky and very steep vineyard with slopes up to 55 degrees.  The soils are a mixture of sandy loam, slate, and sandstone.  This “Quarzit” wine is source from a parcel with quartzite soils and not the other mixture of conglomerates.

The Cellar, Image from Weingut Hexamer

These are Terry Theise Selections that I bought at MacArthur’s.  The 2006 and 2007 I have had for some time with the 2009 a recent purchase.  The 2007 was recently available for $20 and the 2009 is available at $18.  Phil has always recommended these wines to me as I love Schiste in my French reds and Quartzite in my German Riesling.  These are well priced wines.  Though all three are enjoyable I absolutely loved the 2007 and would highly recommend spending the extra $2 to obtain it.  It is a great drink right now but will easily age for many years.  A quick check on wine-searcher reveals that it is available on both coasts.

2006 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”, Nahe
This wine has a very crisp, golden, straw color.  There is a classic nose that reveals mature notes with a lovely aroma of stones.  After a short amount of air the soft fruit mixes with good stone flavors.  There is a little spritz at first but that dissipates as creamy, tropical fruits come out.  There is a disjointed feeling to this wine because the fruit and mineral flavors distinctly stand apart and do not feel integrated.

2007 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”, Nahe
This wine has a vibrant straw color.  The aromas immediately jump out of the glass with a freshness that makes you sink your nose into the glass then take a big draught.  This has more weight in the mouth than the nose reveals.  There is a little spritz with fruit which is initially sweet, creamy, and tropical.  The fruit mixes with acidity that dances on the side of the tongue as the midpalate flavors switch to honeysuckle and sweet white peach with good mineraliness.  The finish is a mixture of peaches and stones but the presentation is simpler than the start.  Really good stuff!

2009 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”, Nahe
This wine is the lightest color of all three with a very, very light hint of stony yellow color.  The nose is of wet stones and light fruit.  In the mouth there are big flavors and a heavier feel.  The flavors trend towards tart, green apples and simple wet stones with a bit of petrol.  There is much less acidity in this vintage.

2008’s from Domaine Leon Barral and Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup

August 13, 2011 1 comment

In two earlier posts I reviewed 2007 vintage selections from Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup and Domaine Leon Barral.  When the 2008 selections became available at MacArthur’s I eagerly grabbed some bottles to try out.  I bought the current vintage of Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup for $15  (previous post here) and the Domaine Leon Barral for $25 (previous post about Valiniere here). 

Vineyard In Faugeres, Image by Christian363 (Flickr)

My impression of the 2008 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup is that it is a less complex version of the 2007.  It is worth the price but grab the 2007 if you see it.  Anyone else agree?  The 2008 Domaine Leon Barral represents the base cuvee.  This was an enjoyable, interesting wine that contains that wild character I wish the 2008 Ermitage had.  I cannot wait to try Barral’s 2008 Jadis and Valiniere!  I would love to receive comments from anyone who has drunk older vintages.  I continue to enjoy both of these producers and recommend that you try their wines as well.

2008 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Pic Saint Loup
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre from 30-40 year old vines.  The wine was aged for 12 months.  This wine has a clean nose of Kirsch and pink grapefruit.  In the mouth there are fresh flavors of raspberry and tart red fruit. There are notes of pepper. The very fine tannins that cause your mouth to pucker in the aftertaste.

2008 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault from whole clusters that were vinified and matured in tank.  This wine started off with a “grassy” nose according to Jenn.  With air the nose became aromatic with raspberries mixed with concentrated rustic berry notes.  There were ample flavors of red fruits to start followed by pure blue fruits that added to the mix.  This was quite interesting in the mouth with its wild character and pure, grapey tannins.  I would give this a year to settle down.