Archive for February, 2012

Two Wines from Hecht & Bannier

February 29, 2012 1 comment

Hecht & Bannier are a negociant which has specialized in the red wines of Southern France since 2002.  They select only wine that has completed fermentation which they bring back to their facility for blending and aging.  Since they do not maintain contracts they may freely change their sources on an annual basis.  The cuvees are typically a blend of 5-10 sources.  For aging they prefer to use larger barrels blended with some tank aged wine to preserve the fruit.

The 2007 vintages of Hect & Bannier, Minervois and Cotes du Roussillon Villages were rock-star wines in two ways: the Minervois was flat-out incredible but the Cotes du Roussillon Villages combined the generosity of the vintage with the warmth of Roussillon to produce a wine turned up to 11.  These new selections are quite different.  The 2008 Minervois omits the Mourvedre that was in the 2007 which I sorely miss in this vintage.  It is a good wine with nice dried-herb notes but it failed to excite me.  The 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages adds some Lledoner Pelut in a style that showcases restraint and structure for aging.  I quite like it and recommend you cellar a few bottles.  These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois – $17
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is mainly Syrah followed by Grenache and “[s]ome drops of Carignan.”  It was aged 30% in tank, 30% in 225L barrels, 20% in demi-muids,  and 20% in 400L barrels.  The nose was bright with tart red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors start with red fruit mixed with dried herbs.  With air the flavors become moderately expansive before they mix with a fair amount of acidity and some tannins. This needs a year or two to come together.  ** 2014-2017.

2009 Hecht & Bannier, Cotes du Roussillon Villages – $22
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Lledoner Pelut.  It was aged 40% in demi-muids, 30% in tank, and 30% in stock vat.  There is a light nose of black fruit.  In the mouth the blacker fruit has a cool aspect, restrained ripeness yet shows good depth.  With air bit of minerals come out, some ink, and garrigue in the finish.  With air a tea note develops along with subtle spices and lipstick, with a touch of spiciness in the finish along with glimmer of heat.  Give this wine a few years to settle down.  *** 2014-2019.

An Older-Wine Dinner at Joan’s House

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Joan has been a lover of fine wine for quite some time. She has bought a variety of wines over the years both from local stores and also on national and international wine trips. She has held on to particular bottles which she likes to bring out once they are mature. Joan recently hosted a dinner so that she could open the 1992 and 1993 Beringer, Private Reserve. The wines this evening were lovely. With the exception of the completely faded fruit of the Veedercrest all of the bottles were in great shape and developed throughout the course of the evening. My thanks go out to Joan for hosting an evening of wonderful food and wine.

2010 Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, Les clapas Blanc, VdP de l’Herault
Imported by Elite Wines. This a blend of 40% Carignan Blanc, 30% Granache Blanc, and 30% Terret Bourret. Though a lighter color in the glass the nose was medium strength with focused aromas of white flowers and stones. This medium bodied wine offered lemon flavors with plenty of stone notes, tilting towards a tart profile with green apple flavors. This was a fresh wine that is young and will benefit from short-term cellaring. If you must drink it now then decant it for one to two hours. *** 2015-2019.

2009 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Les Caillerets, Chassagne Montracher 1er Cru
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. Two-thirds of the fruit is sourced from 60-year-old vines with the remaining third from 20-year-old vines. The nose was young with a subtle ripeness of fruit mixed with flint. The gentle texture bore apple-like tart fruit which developed lifted flavors of flint as the wine breathed. There were some toast notes in the finish. This tight wine slowly developed before the bottle was finished, this definitely requires cellaring before it will reveal its full personality. **(**) 2017-2022.

Opening the red wines

After the Bouillabaise we moved onto the red wines. Joan cooked braised short-ribs accompanied by roasted Brussel sprouts and root vegetables. The Veedercrest and Beringers had been stood up a day or two ahead and opened shortly before being poured. The Judd’s Hill had been double-decanted to remove sediment thus had four to five hours of air.

Corks from the 1974 Veedercrest and 1993 Beringer

I did not start with the best luck in removing the corks. The Judd’s Hill cork crumbled in two using a waiter’s corkscrew and the 1992 Beringer cork got stuck. So I switched to my poor-man’s Durand corkscrew composed of the worm from a Screwpull and an Ah-So. This worked wonders with the Beringer corks. The Veedercrest cork did not want to come out so at Lou’s advice I put the bottle on the floor between my feet. After some concentrated tugging and twisting it finally came free!

1974 Veedercrest Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Cask YUG 77 Batch 2, Sonoma County
This was a vibrant medium garnet color. The musky nose was animale with dark fruit notes. Eventually the musk blew off to reveal a nose of old wood. The flavors were light in the mouth, still a little acidity to keep things going. The fruit had faded way leaving old sweet wood notes. * Now.

1992 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 57% Bancroft Ranch, 21% State Lane, 14% St. Helena Home, and 5% Chabot along with Cabernet Franc from Bancroft. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. This was a medium garnet color. The nose was medium strength with aromas of meat stew, a little roast, and Hoison sauce (or was it sweet soy sauce?). The complex flavors were very expansive at the start before a midpalate of tart red and black fruit flavors. With air the roast veggies and soy/Hoison sauce remained but the fruit became riper and balanced everything out. **** Now-2017.

1993 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 62% Bancroft Ranch, 24% St. Helena Home, and 11% Tre Colline along with 2% Cabernet Franc from Bancroft and 1% Cabernet Franc from Tre Colline. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. The nose was subtler than the 1992 with the fruit more primary and aromas of herbs. In the mouth the youthful flavors were subtler, a little chewy as they were mixed with grapey tannins. There was a lovely cedar box component in the tart and gritty finish. **** Now-2019.

1997 Judd’s Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Compared to the Beringers the nose was simpler with riper fruit and tobacco with the aromas becoming delineated with air. In the mouth the youthful and tight flavors were of tart red fruit, tobacco, and cedar. But over the evening it started to open up very well. This is a lovely wine just hinting at maturity and will undoubtedly develop for many years to come. ***(*) 2015-2025.

After the red wines we moved onto a trio of desserts made by Joan’s friend Patty. To accompany the fruit tart, rice pudding, and apple cobbler Joan offered a selection of dessert wines with Lou picking one from the Loire. Located within the Coteaux du Layon the village of Chaume sets its own requirements which include a significantly higher minimum level of sugar from grapes that must be affected by botrytis (noble rot) or passerillage (drying of the grapes by the sun). Joan used to drink quite a few wines from Chaume with this particular bottle purchased for $23 from MacArthur Beverages some years ago. After trying this bottle I am kicking myself for being content to read about these sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc instead of actually drinking them!

1997 Domaine Cady, Coteaux du Layon Chaume
Imported by Vintner Select. There was a woodsy amber color. This was fun to smell with aromas of maderized pear and apple that opened up rapidly. In the mouth the flavors were well-perfumed with lots of residual sugar but good acidity, plenty of sweet spices, flavors of apricot, and an unctuous caramelized apple-cinnamon and sugar vein. Incredibly tasty and enjoyed by all. **** Now-2025.

Lou, Joan, and the Author

A Pair of Riesling Quartzit from Hexamer

February 28, 2012 1 comment

It is always fun to try wines from Weingut Hexamer as they are both interesting and reasonably priced.  Last summer we tasted through the 2006, 2007, and 2009 Riesling Quarzit wines.  The Quarzit wines come from a parcel in the Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg vineyard rich in quarzite soils.  The 2010 Riesling Quarzit, which  is from the vintage remarkably high in both acidity and sugar, took several days to settle down and reveal itself.  Now that I am drinking a bit more Riesling I have noticed the use of “sponti” in the notes of both Terry Theise and Lyle Fass.  This is a term used to describe the wild or stinky aromas in a Riesling due to the fermentation with indigenous yeasts.  This bottle definitely exhibited sponti so if you want to experience this aroma then that is reason alone to buy this bottle!  In recommending this wine I strongly suggest that you cellar it for several years, otherwise you will be disappointed if you drink it all during the first day.

Unfortunately I never tried the 2008 Riesling Quarzit for the 2008 Riesling Quarzit Reserve is an unusual blend.  It is an interesting wine whose flavors morph with air.  It is a wine you may drink as the 2010 Quarzit ages.  These are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg, Riesling Quarzit, Nahe – $19
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  There was a brighter start with ample acidity, a slight Pilsner note (sponti from the natural yeast) before the residual sugar came out midpalate, followed by tart fruit in the finish.   After two days the wine became integrated as it revealed tart white fruit which prickled the tip of the tongue then put on weight as freshly focused yellow fruit came out.  **(*) 2015-2019.

2008 Weingut Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg, Riesling Quarzit, Reserve, Nahe – $22
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This is a blend of 75% regular Quartzit and 25% from a 1200 liter cask that took an extra long time to finish fermenting, which was blended then aged for an additional 12 months on the lees.   This was a vibrant yellow color.  In the mouth the flavors initiated with a big wave of fruit, almost prickly, sweeter, with a saline and subdued ripeness to the honey texture.  Flavors of stone mixed with the acidity.  With air the wine became fresh with floral and honey flavors.  *** Now-2019.

The Empson Barolo, Brunello, and Barbaresco Offerings at MacArthur Beverages

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

For the first time ever I went to MacArthur Beverages and left without purchasing a single bottle of wine. I did not mind as I went there for the 2012 Empson USA Barolo, Brunello, and Barbaresco spring offering. There were over one dozen wines opened for tasting with the bottles spread across two tables. As these wines are not yet available in the States this was a great opportunity to taste a variety of Barolo from the highly acclaimed 2008 vintage. Across the board all of these wines will be long-lived and except for tasting them for the purpose of deciding what to buy, the best should not be tasted again for close on to a decade. My favorite wines had good, deep fruit, and enough acidity to balance the tannins while providing an interesting aftertaste whose flavors captivated me more than the substantial tannins that dried out my mouth.

My favorite wines, in alphabetical order:

  • 2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, Barolo
  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Rapet, Barolo
  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta, Barolo
  • 2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, Barolo
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi, Barolo

The following were very good as well, with very strong potential, but were quite tight, possibly requiring even greater age:

  • 2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco
  • 2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra, Barolo

Table 1

I started off at the table which initially had the least number of people standing around. Armed with a proper glass and my little plastic cup doubling as a spittoon, I carved out a tasting space on top of and in between two rows of Australian wines. This table was sampling nine different Barolos from the 2008 vintage. My favorites were the 2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, and the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi. I would follow these three with the 2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra.

2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Barolo DOCG – $51
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from 4.9 acre vineyard in Castiglione Falletto where the vines are 30 years old on clayey soils. It is aged for 24+ months in French barriques. There was a light nose of delicate red and blue fruit. In the mouth the flavors were of harder red fruit, a darker finish, and fine-grained tannins.

2008 Marcarini, La Serra, Barolo DOCG – $52
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a single vineyard. It is aged for two years in Slavonian oak. There was a light nose of redder fruit mixed with herbs. In the mouth the up-front red fruit was tight but still retained a bit of ripeness. There were fewer noticeable tannins than the Bongiovanni.

2008 Cascina Bongiovanni, Pernanno, Barolo DOCG – $63
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a plot within the 4.9 vineyard in Castiglione Falletto. The grapes are left on the vines for several days after the regular Barolo is harvest. It is aged in a mixture of new and used French barriques. The nose was a touch more aromatic with darker aromas of cherry and blue fruit. In the mouth flavors started with ripe fruit which dried out as the flavors became expansive with a good finish and aftertaste which left pervasive dark red notes. Very good.

2008 Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Terlo, Barolo DOCG – $58
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from vineyards at 984 feet with vine up to 50 years of age. It is aged for 30 months in French oak barriques and Slavonian oak barrels. There was a tight nose of red framed aromas. In the mouth the brighter red fruit showed barrel notes with very fine-grained citric tannins. This gave up the least.

2008 Poderi Luigi Einaudi, Nei Cannubi, Barolo DOCG – $75
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from plots planted in 1945, 1962, and 1991 at 722 feet. It is aged for 18-20 months in French barriques and 10-12 months in Allier oak barrels. The nose was higher-toned with delicate red fruit and herbs. In the mouth the controlled, ripe fruit dropped off in the finish as very fine, drying tannins came out.

2008 Marcarini, Brunate, Barolo DOCG – $54
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from a single vineyard. It is aged for two years in Slavonian oak. The nose revealed subtle ripe red fruit then a little dark aroma. In the mouth the fruit mixed with light red acidity, herbs, a dry floral note, and a nice wood toned aspect. There were tight, fine, drying tannins.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Vigna del Gris, Barolo DOCG – $73
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the cru Ginestra at 984 feet. It was aged for 24 months in French oak. This sported a lovely finely textured, floral nose. In the mouth the beautiful red fruit mixed with floral flavors in an elegant manner. There were dried herbs and a drying finish with good acidity. Very good.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Mosconi, Barolo DOCG – $78
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced a vineyard at 1312 feet. Some vines date back to 1950 with others replanted in 1999-2000. The nose with riper with a blue notes. The fuller mouth revealed a dry wood note with almost a sweet spice in the finish. This was very pleasing from the start and finished with sweeter tannins. Very good as well.

2008 Conterno Fantino, Sori Ginestra, Barolo DOCG – $83
This is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from the cru Ginestra at 984 feet. It was aged for 24 months in French oak. There was a floral and licorice nose leaning towards black fruit. The mouth followed the nose but surprised with an assertive finish which was compact and tense. The flavors departed with ultra fine drying tannins. A rather interesting wine that will take longer to develop than the Vigna del Gris and Mosconi.

Table 2

Located in the back-left corner Gary Diamond from Empson USA was poured seven wines from Tuscany and Piedmont. I particularly liked the 2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino, the 2008 Ca’Rome, Rapet, Barolo, and the 2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta. I would follow-up these three with the 2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco.

2007 Conti Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – $61
This wine is 100% Sangiovese aged for 18 months in Slavonian oak barrels and 18 months in French tonneaux. This was a good start with a light, delicately fruity nose with some red-blue gritty aromas. In the mouth the flavors were tight yet had a creamy feel with flavors of red fruit, herbs, salivating acidity, and low-lying fine tannins. The flavors were darker in the aftertaste. Very good.

2007 Eredi Fuligni, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG – $67
This wine is 100% Sangiovese aged for more than 36 months in Slavonian oak barrels and French tonneaux. The nose was tight. In the mouth the structured black fruit showed some ripeness, an interesting array of flavors, with a shorter aftertaste of ripe black fruit.

2009 Ca’Rome’, Sori Rio Sordo, Barbaresco DOCG – $67
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet planted in 1969. It was aged for 12 months in oak barrels with a small portion in barrique. There was a nice nose of black fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tight with black fruit, a structured aspect, and very fine drying tannins. Good potential but this bottle was closed.

2008 Ca’Rome’, Maria di Brun, Barbaresco DOCG – $74
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet from late-ripening vines made only in the best years. It was aged for 24 months in Slavonian barrels with a small portion in barrique. The light nose revealed herbed red fruit. In the mouth there was ripe red acidity, structure, good weight, and slightly chewy flavors. There were fine+ drying tannins. Good in the mouth.

2008 Ca’Rome, Rapet, Barolo DOCG – $69
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo sourced from cru Serralunga which was planted in 1972. It was age for 24 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak with a small portion in barrique. The nose was of dark red and blue fruits. The flavors started with a saline touch, a nice density, well-balanced, and a dark aftertaste. Very good.

2008 Ca’Rome’, Vigna Ceretta, Barolo DOCG – $70
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo Michet and Lampia sourced from a single vineyard which was planted in 1961. It was age for 24 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak with a small portion in barrique. There was a familiar style to the previous wine but the flavors were stepped up with an incense note, dark red fruit, and good mouthfeel. There was a hint of ink and a notch more tannins than the Rapet.

2008 Orma, Bolgheri Rosso – $58
This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20$ Cabernet Franc aged for 14 months in French barriques. Obviously different with more roast on the nose. The riper and richer flavors were more assertive with a chunky, dark earth component. The drying tannins made way to an aftertaste with a wood note.

2008 Von Hovel, Riesling Spatlese, Scharzhofberg, Mosel

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Cellar, Image from von Hovel

The first wine I drank from Weingut von Hovel is the 2007 Riesling Spatlese, Oberemmeler Hutte.  While the estate is particularly known for their wines from Oberemmeler Hutte they also have a 7.5 hectare holding in Scharzhofberg.  Earlier this month the 2010 Egon Muller, Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett was my wine of the night at the 2010 Vintage Tasting of the German Wine Society. The Scharzhofberg vineyard lies west of the Hutte vineyard located between the town of Oberemmel and Wiltingen.  It is a 27 hectare vineyard with an east-west orientation.  The pure soils are of well-drained slate and experience cool temperatures with large temperature swings.

This is a wine for a sunny spring day with its bright nature and lemon-honey flavors.  With the sunny, warm weather in the Washington, DC area the timing is fortuitous.  It may be drunk alone or with delicate foods. I personally would drink this now or over the short-term for the acidity softens a bit in the finish so the wine may show best over the next five years.  The wine is currently available at MacArthur Beverages who provided the sample.

2008 Weingut von Hovel, Riesling Spatlese, Scharzhofberg, Mosel- $20
Imported by Rudi Wiest Selections.  The color is a very light yellow with a hint of green.  The light nose is of yellow fruit, herbs, and a touch of sweetness  The flavors of yellow fruit have a citrus start with ripe fruit that dances on the tongue before settling down.  There are smooth lemon-honey fruit flavors with a low-lying honey notes in the middle.  The generally citric acidity morphs into a gentle lemony aftertaste.  With air notes of stone develop on the nose and in the mouth.  This bright, clean wine starts with a touch of residual sugar sweetness but in general tastes rather dry.  *** Now-2017.

The 2007 Fatalone, Primitivo Reserva

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Earlier this month we drank the unique 2008 Fatalone, Primitivo Teres. Excited by the wine I recently purchased the Reserva for only $2 more. The Reserva has a fruitier nature with an interesting array of flavors. It does pack a bit of a punch from the higher alcohol and for the reason I find myself tilting towards the Teres. Still, these wines from Fatalone are great fun! I recommend you try both, they are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2007 Fatalone, Primitivo Reserva, Gioia del Colle DOC, Puglia – $16
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This is 100% Primitivo sourced from a vineyard planted in 1990 at 365 meters. The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts, undergoes malolactic fermentation before aging 12 months in stainless steel tanks and 12 months in Slavonian oak casks. There are riper cherry notes similar to the Teres but no salami aroma. In the mouth the tart red cherry fruit mixes with a touch of balsam and ripe tannins. This medium-weight wine has a mouthfilling nature with delicate wood notes, tangy finish which cause juicy salivation. With air this wine develops a touch of sweetness, dried orange peel and Christmas spices. *** Now-2015.

Sampling the Wines of Velenosi at MacArthur Beverages

February 24, 2012 1 comment

I was recently at MacArthur Beverages when Anne Hay of Domaine Select Wine Estates and Andrea Bianco of Azienda Vitivinicola Velenosi were sampling five wines from Velenosi. Tim called me over and as this was a new producer for me I had great fun trying the wines because I rarely drink wines from the Marche region of Italy. I started with the strongest value of the bunch. The 2010 Querci Antica which was a stand out for its intense floral qualites, perhaps polarizing to some, it is one I enjoyed and a bottle I will certainly purchase. Stepping up in price the 2007 Rossio del Filare had an edge with its depth of fruit over 2007 Ludi. My quick impressions are below along with the suggested retail prices.

2010 Velenosi, Pecorino Villa Angela, Offida DOC – $19
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. This wine is 100% Pecorino sourced from vines grown on mixed soils with sand at 200-300 meters. It is fermented then aged for five months in stainless steel. This revealed subtle sweet fruit that was a blend of tropical and citrus. After the initially rich mouth the flavors turned structured.

2010 Velenosi, Querci Antica, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba – $19
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. This wine is 100% Lacrima di Morro d’Alba sourced from 25-year-old vines grown on mostly clay soils at 100-150 meters. The medium strength, pure nose revealed floral aromas of roses. In the mouth the youthful, bluer berry flavors met with a floral vein which carried through to the good finish leaving a remarkably fresh and floral aftertaste. I would drink this over the near term.

2008 Velenosi, Il Brecciarolo, Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC – $20
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. This wine is a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese sourced from vines grown on mostly clay soils at 200-300 meters. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel before aging 12-18 months in 2nd and 3rd use barriques. The wine is named after the broken stones typical of the region. There was a darker, subtler nose with darker fruit in the mouth, dried spices, and barrel notes. Drinkable now or over the short-term.

2007 Velenosi, Rossio del Filare, Rosso Piceno Superiore DOC – $50
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. This wine is a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese sourced from a special selection of vines grown on mostly clay soils at 200-300 meters. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel before aging 18 months in new French barriques. There were concentrated aromas of mixed berries on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were rich and inky with fine grapey tannins whose chewy nature coated the mouth. This needs several years of age. A good step up from the Il Brecciarolo.

2007 Velenosi, Ludi, Offida DOC – $70
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. This wine is a blend of Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot sourced from vines grown on clay with limestone soils at 200-300 meters. Harvested mid-October the fruit is fermented in stainless steel before aging for two years in new wooden barrels of various sizes. This wine reveals redder fruit and herbs with even finer grapey tannins than the Rossio del Filare. There is a hint of incense as youthful acidity coats the back of the tongue before the drying finish.

Tasting Notes Now Include Wine Ratings

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Readers of this blog may have noticed that posts with formal tasting notes now include a starred rating and aging estimate. When I started the Hogshead Wine Blog I had no idea it would continue to grow in readership nor come to include so many different tasting notes. I often repurchase a wine or try it after it has aged a bit and find that I do forget just how much I liked a wine or if I really should resist pulling the cork. I am now in the habit of referring to my blog, both at home and at stores, so having this information in my posts has become quite useful. Hopefully you will find the added information helpful as well.

Over the past month I have updated all posts from 2011 with this information sourced from my notes. I am still in the process of updating posts from January 2012 but should complete the task next week. As much as I enjoy tasting wine and posting on the blog, I remind myself that I do have a day job which takes precedence over the timely updating of my posts. You may pull up posts by rating using the “Wines By Rating” widget located in the right-hand column.

I have chosen a five-star rating system. Though this is undoubtedly influenced by my early reading of Decanter Magazine and the books of Michael Broadbent, I find it is the system to which I naturally fall back on. For further information please read below. This information also appears in the About page.

Tasting Notes

We write down tasting notes for the vast majority of all wines which are encountered. Most of these encounters occur at home where we typically have two to four bottles open. With this constant rotating selection, notes for a particular wine are typically taken over a two to three-day period. We also frequently taste at one of our houses where we open six to eight bottles centered on a theme. At the end of the tasting we split up the leftover wines then retaste them the following night. All leftover wine is enclosed with a liberal dose of Private Preserve. It is from these evenings that the majority of the formal tasting notes are generated.

We also write notes when we taste wine at a restaurant, casually at a friend’s house, a wine store, or a trade tasting. We record these shorter, less formal notes because we find the impressions are still useful. These tasting notes are always accompanied by the event at which they were tasted.

The vast majority of the wines reviewed are privately purchased by the authors or their friends. A small portion of the wines are tasted at public events held by wineries, importers, and wine stores. Any published reviews that stem from public events or free samples will be clearly noted.


All formally tasted wines will be rated similar to Michael Broadbent’s scoring system where a wine may receive zero to five stars. We would drink wines receiving two stars at parties, bars, and restaurants if they are value priced. We would not hesitate to drink any wine receiving three or more stars. Most informally tasted wines will be marked by Not Rated. Wines tasted at store or trade events typically fall into this category because we do not feel comfortable rating a wine based on one or two small pours or from inadequate stemware.

*****    Outstanding     Arresting, the best, truly memorable.
****     Very Good       Makes one smile, worthy of the effort to find.
***      Good            Gives strong pleasure, good character, our daily drinkers.
**       Moderately Good An enjoyable wine appropriate for parties and meals.
*        Fair            Drinkable but no character or too many negative traits.
No Stars Poor            Flawed or undrinkable.

Parenthesis and Aging Estimates

Parenthesis signifies that a wine which is currently drinking at one level should improve to a higher level with age. For example, ***(*) signifies that a wine is currently drinking Good but with age will become Very Good. Wines that may be drunk now with pleasure will have an age estimate starting with Now. If the wine requires age then the start date signifies when it should be tried again. The stop date signifies when the plateau of drinking might end, it is an estimate of when the wine starts declining from prime drinking. These estimates should be taken lightly so you may judge if a wine may be drunk now or should be cellared and its relative longevity.

The Beautifully Colored Domaine de la Bergerie, Preambule

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The La Bergerie estate was purchased in 1964 so that the Guegniard family could extend their vineyard holdings. Since 1979 Yves and his wife Marie-Agnes have managed the estate and increased it to the present size of 36 hectares.  The estate produces a large variety of wines including white, rose, red, sparkling, and sweet.  Yves has recently been joined by his daughter Anne and her husband David.  David has converted an old chai into a restaurant that features dishes which highlight the domaine’s wines.  If you are looking for a dry rose this wine is an excellent choice for a pre-dinner glass.  Jenn finds that it refreshes the palate and is not tiring to drink.  It is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

NV Domaine de la Bergerie, Preambule, Cremant de Loire Rose – $18
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  The gorgeous color is a vibrant ruby rose.  The nose is of fresh strawberry.  In the mouth the flavors start with delicate red fruit, dried herbs, and acidity on the tip of the tongue.  There are very fine bubbles that froth into creaminess midpalate as subtle flavors of dried floral potpourri develop.  There is dry acidity in the finish before the chalky aftertaste.  Nice.  *** Now.

Three New Wines from Mourchon

February 23, 2012 1 comment

I must admit this past week has been quite exciting. Between recommending ten 2009 Petit Bordeaux for MacArthur Beverages, attending the 2010 Vintage tasting of the German Wine Society, the De Maison Selections Mini-Portfolio tasting, and Fran Kysela’s Mondovino I have been able to spend a lot of time posting about these great experiences. Without the kindness and encouragement from several people in the business this all would not have been possible. Lou and I constantly taste through a wide variety of wines but there is only so much we can afford. These larger tastings are great for our experience and for meeting other people. There are many portfolio tastings this spring so I will maintain a list of confirmed events in the right-hand column.

Domaine de Mourchon is a house favorite. Throughout the year we frequently drink the Tradition and Grande Reserve. During the warmer months we are consistently pulling corks of the Loubie Rose. In reviewing my Mourchon tasting notes you will find several notes for the Grande Reserve and only one for the Tradition. The truth is that we have drunk barrels full of Tradition and Loubie over the years for they are satisfying wines which I just want to drink instead of taking the time to write notes. The three selections featured in this post recently arrived at MacArthur Beverages. The Cotes du Rhone is a solid, serious wine at a price point which may be drunk without guilt over the next several years. The Tradition and Grande Reserve are more interesting but these cuvees require several years of age.

2010 Domaine de Mourchon, Cotes du Rhone – $10
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. This entry-level wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines. It was aged in concrete vats. The light nose has youthful aromas and a buttery component. In the mouth the red, buttery fruit develops a bit of lift in the finish. There is plenty of acidity mixed with grapey tannins to provide balance in this moderate weight wine. Drink now after a few hours of air or over the short-term. ** Now-2015.

2009 Domaine de Mourchon, Tradition, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Seguret – $15
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. This is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 10% Carignan sourced from 40-year-old vines. It was aged in concrete vats. The light nose starts off with red fruit and pepper before developing aromas of light herbs and blue fruits. In the mouth the fruit exists in a dense package with acidity and drying grapey tannins, structured for development. With air, black fruits and pencil notes develop midpalate with good dusty, dark flavors in the finish. This is showing more restraint than the 2007. **(*) 2015-2019.

2010 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Seguret – $25
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. This is a blend of 65% Grenache and 35% Syrah sourced from 60-year-old vines. For aging 60% spent time in concrete vats and 40% in oak barrels. The red fruit is more complex in the mouth with tart and subtle citrus note. The red grapefruit highlights quickly move to fine, coating and drying tannins. The tasty red fruit is balanced by plenty of acidity which offsets the fine, drying tannins. While this is a tasty wine it is still playing it tight. *** 2017-2022.