Archive for January, 2012

A Pair of Cotes du Rhone Blanc

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

I do not recall the last time I drank a Cotes du Rhone blanc so I was game for trying these samplers at MacArthurs.  I would personally pass on the Cote Jardin.  I do recommend the Domaine la Cabotte for it was interesting and seemed to develop with air.  I would give it six months of age.

2009 Cote Jardin, Blanc, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Marsanne, and 20% Roussanne sourced from vines averaging 18 years of age.  Though light in color it is a bit yellower than la Cabotte.  There are light bits of ripe fruit on the nose.  In the mouth there is a linear delivery of fruit, apple flavors, some ripeness with a stoney/steely aftertaste.  This wine is fine, inoffensive but somewhat boring.  Now.  Sampled at MacArthurs.

2009 Domaine la Cabotte, Colline, Blanc, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by Elite Wines Imports. This wine is a blend of 90% Viognier and 10% Grenache.  The fruit is sourced from a 30 hectares of vineyards located in Massif Uchaux.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel and undergoes complete malolactic fermentation.  A rather light stoney straw color.  In the mouth the delicate fruit mixed with stones and subtle ripeness.  The acidity is mild and balanced on top of the tongue.  There is a creamy mouthfeel with floral (honeysuckle?) notes, slightly spiced, and salivating acidity in the finish.  The aftertaste is refreshing.  Now-2014.  Sampled at MacArthurs.


January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

These two recently tasted bottles were quite tasty.  The Torbreck came recommended by John at MacArthurs.  I must admit I had never tried a Cuvee Juveniles as we typically pick up the Woodcutter’s Shiraz.  Jenn found a bottle of the Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier hidden amongst some plates in the basement.  Last year we had purchased several bottles but they were always shut-down and not too pleasing.  This wine has come a long way since it was last tasted in June 2011.  If you are willing to take a gamble then cellar the Terlato & Chapoutier while you drink the Torbreck.  Otherwise you should try the Torbreck.

2009 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier, Shiraz-Viognier, Victoria
Imported by Terlato Wines International.  This wine is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier.  The fruit is fermented in cement or stainless steel and tank aged for up to 12 months.  This is starting to settle down with red fruit on the nose which continues into the mouth.  The tangy red fruit has underlying blue fruit notes, steely ink and generally presents itself with enjoyable flavors, texture, and a little ripeness.  I would cellar this another year or two at which point it should be a good drink.  2014-2017.

2009 Torbreck, Cuvee Juveniles, Barossa Valley – $19
Imported by Wine Creek.  This cuvee is made for Tim Johnston the owner of the Juveniles wine bar in Paris.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, and 20% Mataro sourced from 40-150 year old vines.  The vineyard batches are fermented separately before tank assembly and malolactic fermentation.  There is a nose of raspberry and strawberry.  In the mouth there are round, almost rich, flavors with some tartness.  The sweet fruit is round and soft but there is acidity throughout which keeps it lively.  The flavors turn dark red, a bit warm and spicy, as minerals come out in the steely finish.  Now-2015.

2009 Bodega Noemia, A Lisa

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I had a chance to sample this wine when I last stopped by MacArthurs.  This wine is well made and pleasing enough to drink.  At the $24 average price on Wine-Searcher I would rather drink something more exciting.

2009 Bodega Noemia, A Lisa, Rio Negro Valley, Patagonia
Imported by Vias Imports.  This wine is 90% Malbec, 9% Merlot, and 1% Petit Verdot.  One-third of the fruit is sourced from estate vineyards planted in 2004 with the rest sourced from the Agricultural Research Center and a contract grower.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts then the wine was aged for 9 months with 100% second-use oak barrels.  There is a nose of black fruit mixed with orange citrus.  In the mouth the clean fruit turns salty with hard Malbec flavors and black fruited acidity.  The tannins are present throughout the wine give a good texture and a nice fuzziness in the aftertaste.  There are sweet spices in the aftertaste.  Now-2017.  Sampled at MacArthurs.

Two Wines From Catalonia

January 30, 2012 1 comment

Bodegas La Cartuja, Image by Friederike Paetzold from Ole

These two wines are located within Catalonia in the northeastern portion of Spain.  Priorat is located in the south-west of Catalonia and is a Denominacion de Oreigen Calificada DOCa wine region, the highest level obtainable and only shared with Rioja.  Emporda is located in the extreme northeast of Catalonia and is a Denominacion de Origen (DO).  Emporda is split two zones the northern Alt Emporda and the southern Baix Emporda, both of which are located next to the French border where the wines are from Roussillon.

Merlot and Cab. Sauv. Vines at Pont De Molines, Image from Castillo Perelada

I highly recommend the Bodegas La Cartuja for it is both an enjoyable wine to drink over the short term and it is strongly priced.  As a project between the Osborne (as in Sherry) family and Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata (the founders of Ole Imports) the goal is to deliver the mineral character of Priorat at an attractive price.  They certainly succeeded!  The Castillo Perelada 5 Fincas is an attempt to make a complex wine bearing the traits of their five different vineyards in Emporda.  This is a solid wine but it shows cracks in the middle.  For that reason, instead of buying a bottle of each wine, you should buy two of the less expensive La Cartuja!

2010 Bodegas La Cartuja, Priorat – $15
Imported by Ole.  This is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah sourced from the 24 hectare vineyard La Solana.  This vineyard lies at 250 meters on slopes with soils of volcanic slate and sand.  The wine was aged for 8 months in French oak barrels.  There is a modestly ripe, fruity nose of tart raspberry.  In the mouth there are good flavors of red and blue fruit, brambly in nature,tannins, nice juiciness, and some herbs.  This medium bodied wine continues with stone flavors and juicy acidity.  After a few hours it opens up providing sweet, weightiness and medium tannins in the aftertaste.  This modern wine is a strong value.  Now-2017.

2006 Castillo Perelada, 5 Fincas, Reserva, Emporda – $20
Imported by Perelada Commercial.  This is a blend of 40% Merlot, 20% Garnatxa, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 5% Samso sourced from five different vineyard parcels.  The wine was aged for 17 months in 50% American and 50% French Bordelaise barrels.  Drunk over two nights this garnet color wine has a sappier, roasted fruit nose with Jenn picking up “balsam.”  In the mouth the dusty red fruit shows structure before turning a little coarse and vegetal in the middle.  There are fine+, sweet tannins in the finish along with stones and some licorice.  The empty glass leaves aromas of wood toast and whiskey.  Now-2015.

Three Tasty Wines For the Weekend

January 27, 2012 1 comment

Terre Blanches, Image from Borie La Vitarele

I do not normally post five tasting notes in one day but I felt compelled to publish a second post.  We greatly enjoyed these three selections and I strongly recommend you consider purchasing these wines during your weekend wine shopping.  It has been a couple of years since we drank many bottles of the 2007 Borie La Vitarele so I am glad to see that the 2009 is just as good.  The Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette provides a second excellent vintage of Les Petit Pas.  This 2010 vintage is more floral and peppery whereas the 2009 was inky and gritty.

Vineyard, Image from Quinta do Crasto

Of these three wines I am most excited about the Quinta do Crasto.  Like the 2009 Duorum, Colheita there is such a lovely mixture of floral and berry notes on the nose.  Combining a sense of the Douro, enjoyment, and strong price you should try this along with the Duorum.  I hope that MacArthurs searches for more of these lovely Portuguese wines.

2009 Borie La Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The wine was aged for 12 months in oak barrels and tanks.  There is a fruity, youthful nose.  In the mouth there are flavors of cool fruit, stones, fine+ tannins, and a little spicy finish.  With air the high-toned red fruit mixed with hard blue fruit, showing subtle ripeness and raspberry flavors in the finish.  Slow to unveil it ultimately reveals a somewhat juicy and inky personality.  I would cellar this for a few years before drink but if you try it now give it 2-3 hours of air.

2010 Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette, Les Petit Pas, Coteaux du Languedoc – $15
Imported by Elite Wines.  This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.  This wine has a light nose with pure floral and pepper notes.  In the mouth the delicate red berries are fresh, gentle and ride on a medium beam of acidity.  There is mild back-end sweetness.  On the second night the wine puts on some weight and the pepper component is stronger.  This could stand a year in the cellar before drinking over the short-term.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Douro – $15
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 35% Tinta Roriz, 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, and 15% Touriga Nacional source from 20-year-old vines.  The wine was aged in stainless steel.  There is a light to medium strength nose of an attractive mixture of flowers and fresh berries.  In the mouth flavors of black pencil lead and low-lying sweet fruit are medium in weight with a great salinity.  This chewy wine has salivating acidity.  With air the nose becomes firmly medium-strength with Jenn finding a clean aroma of “oranges.”  I would drink this now or over the next five years.  Quite lovely.

Two Rhones from 2005

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in August we drank a bottle of 2003 Charbonniere, Vacqueyras and in my post I promised to open a bottle of the 2005 within a few weeks.  Well, those few weeks turned into several months but I did not forget.  Having just bought the 2005 Reserve Saint Dominique, Rasteau from MacArthurs I thought it would be fun to try two wines from the same vintage.  The 2005 Charbonniere, Vacqueyras is a small step up from the 2003.  If you happen to have these vintages in your cellar they will both develop further with the 2003 becoming ready before the 2005.  If you do not have any then new vintages should be worth checking out.

I did not get much joy from the 2005 Saint Dominique, Rasteau.  There are other wines I would rather drink for the same price.  That said, there does appear to be potential in this wine.  I would certainly buy one bottle to try in three to five years.

2005 Reserve Saint Dominique, Rasteau – $20
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  There is a nose of dark red fruit, cherry, herbs, and a fresh hint from spearmint.  In the mouth it remained tight over two days with contemporary blue fruit, a bit of minerals, and a hint of spicy character.  There are a fair amount of coarse, drying tannins which coat the mouth.  There is a good aftertaste with incense ad tobacco notes.  In the end this did not give up much and clearly needs age.  I would cellar it another 3-5 years.

2005 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras – $20
Imported by MacArthurs.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that was aged for 6-8 months in big oak tanks.  There is a light nose of mixed fruit.  In the mouth the red and blue fruits are complements by stones.  The strong flavors have midpalate ripeness and an inky quality before they expand into a chewy texture with flavors of spices, a “salty” note according to Jenn, and a wood note.  This wine took over two hours to open up upon which the fruit became redder with cranberry flavors.  I would cellar this good wine for 3-5 more years.

Checking In On Carlisle

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

It has been many years since I have drunk a Carlisle wine.  When I did I also purchased a few bottles of these two selections.  The Two Acres may be drunk now but might expand with more age.  The  Pelkan Ranch Syrah clearly needs several more years of development during which it will hopefully absorb more of the new oak.  With time they will hopefully become more expressive.

2006 Carlisle, Two Acres, Russian River Valley – $38 original retail price
This is a blend of 75% Mourvedre, 10% Petit Sirah, 8% Carignane, 5% Syrah, and 2% Alicante Bouschet sourced from a vineyard planted in 1910.  The grapes were fermented using indigenous yeasts and aged in 28% new French oak.  The light nose has some roast notes, a hint of floral aromas, and some spirit.  In the mouth the concentrated fruit flavors have underlying depth.  The blue and red fruits are almost gritty with pleasing ripe tannins which coat the mouth.  The medium-length finish has high-toned stone note throughout and is a little spicy.  A good wine which I would drink over the next five years.

2006 Carlisle, Syrah, Pelkan Ranch, Knights Valley – $38 original retail price
This 100% Syrah wine was fermented with yeasts from the Cotes du Rhone with fermentation completed in 62% new French oak barrels.  The flavors of red and blue fruit, is clean, pebbly in texture, and slightly ripe.  There is an immediate impression of balance between the ripeness, weight, acidity, and tannins.  There is some good weight in the middle where there is a steely raciness.  The fruit has a grainy texture in the finish with a rush of acidity at the end.  This is still young and focused, modern, and well made.  A good wine as well but reveals a bit too many toast notes.  I would cellar this another three years to drink over the second half of the decade.

The Bartmann Jugs of Georg Flegel

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Detail from Still-Life with Stag Beetle, Georg Flegel, 1635, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne

I must admit I knew nothing about Bartmann jugs until yesterday.  The Bartmann jugs or “bearded man” jugs were produced primarily during the 16th and 17th centuries in the Rhineland.  Produced from salt-glazed earthenware they were often used to hold beer and wine.  Common amongst the various styles are the bearded face which adorns the neck.

Bartmann Jug, Frechen, Germany, 1600-1650, Victoria and Albert Museum, C904-1925

German potters perfected earthenware by the mid-14th century.  In the 15th century it was discovered that salt thrown into the kiln would produce a tight glaze with an orange peel character.  Cologne originally produced large numbers of jugs but city official became concerned about the fumes and fire risks.  With increased restrictions and taxes in the mid 16th century many potters left for the nearby town of Frechen.

Bartmann Jug, Koln, Germany, 1525-1550, Victoria & Albert Muse, 780-1868

These rugged jugs were used for both daily use, storage, and transportation.  The Dutch East India company bought these jugs both for transporting goods but also to sell.  These Bartmann jugs have been found all over the world including Jamestowne, Virginia.  This piece is unique in that it bears the arms of a Tuscan family.

Bartmann Jug, Frechen, Germany, c1600, Historic Jamestowne

With English potters unable to produce earthenware of the same quality these jugs were imported large numbers for many centuries.  The Cologne merchants established a trading post in London called the Steelyard.  Between the 14th and 16th centuries most of the stoneware was sold through this post.  By 1600 some 100,000 pieces a year were imported into London!  By the end of trhe 17th century earthenware production had matured in England.

Detail from Still-Life, Georg Flegel, Met Museum, New York City

The Bartmann jugs painted by Georg Flegel contain oak leaves and acorns which are typical of pieces from Cologne.  Professor David Gaimster, Director Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, has dated this piece to 1520-1545.  This is before the Cologne potters left for Frechen.  For additional information on these pieces please refer to the Victoria and Albert Museum along with the Rhenish Ceramics Project.

Two Mature Wines for a Cold Winter’s Weekend

January 25, 2012 1 comment

In searching my tasting notes for Domaine Les Pallieres I realized that I have not tasted the 2000 since December 1997.  The light amount of snow and ice this past weekend (and new episode of Downton Abbey) provided the perfect excuse to pull corks on the Pallieres and Harveys. The Harveys Vintage Port was bought almost four years ago for roughly $35 per bottle.  A John Harvey & Son selection, this was specifically imported into the USA by Heublein.  Many of the established British wine merchants with their extensive connections and experience bottling their own wines, carry their own house selections.  They generally represent good value.  Having shopped at Harveys during my Bristol days I readily snatched up 5 or 6 bottles of this port.

The Pallieres was a solid drink with its strength lying in the earthy nose.  At its peak this is an enjoyable but not thrilling wine which was easily upstaged by the 2003 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas.  The Harveys was thoroughly enjoyable.  It has been a few years since we last opened a bottle, when the alcoholic spirits were already poking out.  While that is a bit distracting, the nose and initial flavors have an enjoyable complexity; a glass of Dow’s 10-year-old tawny tasted ripe and young in comparison.  While this will chug along for some time I would recommend drinking it over the next five years before the fruit fades too much and the spirits take over.

2000 Domaine Les Pallieres, Gigondas – $33
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  True to my old note the nose is very earthy and rustic with lean fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit mixes with notes of minestrone soup, hints of ripeness and a healthy dose of fine+ drying tannins which cover the lips.  The higher-toned red fruit becomes lifted towards the finish leaving impressions of some minerals.  A solid drink that may be drunk without thought or a good precursor to better quality Gigondas.  Now-2017.

1983 Harvey’s Vintage Port – $103 (available in Switzerland!)
Imported by Heublein.  This is a Martinez Vintage Port.  There is a nose of cedar, tobacco, and hints of sweetness similar to BBQ bark.  In the mouth the black cherry are sweet at first with spices developing as the flavors expand in the mouth.  The first half is subtly complex.  The finish starts off spicy before the spirit reveals itself.  The flavors thin a bit in the finish with evidence of heat but the aftertaste is pleasing.  This bottle is comfortably within its mature plateau.  Now-2017.

2006 Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling, Spatlese

January 24, 2012 1 comment

Vineyards, Image from Weingut Leitz

After recently trying a 2006 Hexamer Riesling I just had to unscrew a 2006 bottle from Weingut Leitz!  Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz is a vineyard site located on the eastern side of Rudesheim named after the shrine showing Mary Magdalene.  At the top of the hill is the Abbey of Saint Hildegard which originally controlled this vineyard.  The vineyard is located at elevations from 100 to 165 meters with a grade of 13 degrees.  The vines grow on sandy loess soils mixed with gravel and quartzite.  I highly recommend you check out the interactively informative Leitz website.  This wine was purchased from MacArthurs several years ago.  If you have bottles in your cellar than I recommend holding on to them for several more years.  Otherwise I recommend that you try a recent, available vintage.

2006 Weingut Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling, Spatlese, Rheingau – $20
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This is a rich yellow color in the glass.  On the first night there was a light spritz with a beam of acidity that immediately made way to rich, creamy fruit with long-lasting ripe flavors, and a little sweet spice with a gravelly texture in the finish.  On the second day, the nose reveals subtle, dark yellow fruits.  This wine was well-balanced, the richness carried throughout by acidiy, almost chewy in texture, it makes you want to drink another glass.  I suspect this will develop for several more years and last quite a while.