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Archive for August, 2012

A Trio of Inexpensive Greek Wines

When I vacation at the beach I tend to expand the range of what I drink to include daiquiri and beer.  However I still want to drink wine in the evening so I decided to bring along some inexpensive selections.  John recently added several new Greek wines including these three from Verity Wine Partners.  The Dio Fili has plenty of citric acidity to match up with food but may still be drunk alone if you do not mind some bracing acidity in the throat.  It also held up well in the bottle over many days.  The Antonopoulos is pleasing in its maturity with enjoyable wood box notes.  I would drink it now.  The Mitravelas Estate is quite fun and has enough personality to complement an evening meal outdoors.  These bottles were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Dio Fili, Siatista Winery, Rose, Siatista – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 85% Xinomavro and 15% Moschomavro sourced from 80 year old vines at 800 meters.  The color is a playful light to medium cherry with a hint of rose.  In the mouth there is first dark red fruit then white grapefruit flavors mixed with lots of citric acidity.  The dry floral flavors have a little weight before the noticeable acidity returns in the back of the throat during the aftertaste.  Over time the ample acidity persists with lively flavors on the tongue and a touch of tannic texture on the tongue.  There is enough ripeness to the fruit.  ** Now-2014.

2006 Antonopoulos Vineyards, Private Collection Red – $13
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 60% Mavrodaphne and 40% Merlot sourced from vineyards located at 150-300 meters on soils of clay and sand.  It was aged for 6-12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light to medium garnet rose.  The light nose reveals pleasing aromas of which I cannot describe.  In the mouth there are tight berry flavors, a touch of wood box, followed by soft and mature red berries.  It is a little tart with the acidity coming out in the finish along with some tannins.  There is a softer aftertaste where the flavors turn blacker along with some greenhouse notes.  ** Now.

2010 Mitravelas Estate, Red On Black, Agiorgitiko, Nemea – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is made from Agiorgitiko sourced from 20+ year old vines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is an almost medium ruby with grapey purple core.  The subtle nose reveals dark, ripe aromas.  In the mouth there are gently firm flavors of red and blue berries which are surprisingly ripe.  A wood note takes over along with some softness before a little structure and a touch of tannins come out in the finish.  There is a little bit of warmth and soft acidity.  ** Now-2015.

A Powerful Half-Bottle from Grand Veneur

I recently tasted the 2010 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape so it was fun to follow-up with the 2005 rouge. This wine is all about roast meats with Jenn happily exclaiming, “Pork!”  It is drinkable now after decanting but I think it will be better several years from now.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2005 Domaine Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape – (375mL) $20
Imported by Kysela Pere & Fils.  This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre which was aged in vat and oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  The are of roast meats such as pork and roasted earth.  The flavors are of dark red fruit.  This is still a robust wine but with air it integrates well.  With air the nose becomes bluer, the flavors flesh out to mix with fine+ ripe tannins.  Towards the end it softens and rounds out.  *** Now-2025.

Recent Bubbles

From time to time I splurge on Champagne and I recently did so before the inaugural MacArthur Beverages Wine Blogger Tasting.  Before the tasting I joined Frank Morgan and Christian Schiller for a drink and oysters.  This bottle of Vilmart & Cie opened up after one hour and drank very well on the second night.  I do not have much experience with Champagne but I suspect this will benefit from a few years of age.  Definitely at the high-end of three stars.  The Llopart Cava was recently tasted both with and without paella.  It proved enjoyable in both settings and is a Cava one could stock up on.  In my experience $18-$20 seems to be the low-end for good sparkling wine so this is well priced.  Both of these producers have 19th century origins and it is evident why they are still around.  The Pascal Doquet was drunk over a few quiet evenings at home.  On the stronger side of the line it did not have the depth of the Vilmart & Cie but nonetheless was enjoyable a glass at a time.  The first two wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Pascal Doquet was purchased at Wide World of Wines.

NV Vilmart & Cie, Grand Reserve, Brut 1er Cru, Champagne – $40
This is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay which saw some time in foudre.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light, sandy straw.  The light nose is yeast with aromas of ripe apples.  In the mouth there is lovely texture from the fine yet authoritative bubbles which last through the finish.  Ripe structured apple fruit develops with air along with spices.  There is a long gravelly aftertaste of white fruit.  It becomes dry with tannins on the inside of the lips and passing flavors of citrus.  *** Now-2017.

2008 Llopart, Rose Brut, Reserva, Cava – $20
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 60% Monastrell, 20% Garnacha, and 20% Pinot Noir produced using Methode Champenoise.  It was aged for at least 18 months.  Alcohol 11.5% vol, TA 6.2 g/L, 3.2 pH.  The color is a light to medium rose with copper tones.  The light is light to medium in strength with floral, red fruit aromas.  There are moderate bubbles followed by flavors of dried florals, red fruit, and moderate ripeness.  There are even some baking spices.  The moderate finish reveals darker red fruit.  This Cava is quite approachable, pleasing, and dry. Has some structure for aging.  ***  Now-2017.

NV Pascal Doquet, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne – $30
This wine is 100% Champagne from the 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 vintages which was disgorged 05 July 2011.  Alcohol 12.%5, RS 7 g/L.  The yeasty nose reveals light aromas of ripe apples.  In the mouth there are medium bubbles throughout with green apples and some minerals.  Good acidity, length, and robustness.  *** Now-2015.

Two Lively Red Wines

Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of yeast during fermentation.  It is heavier than air so that during fermentation a blanket of carbon dioxide protects the must from oxidation.  While external carbon dioxide may be used to protect the wine during winemaking it still exists within the wine as dissolved carbon dioxide.  Dissolved carbon dioxide may give a drink sparkle.  At low levels it is unnoticeable but as the concentration increases the wine becomes lively then prickly.  The highest concentrations are found in sparkling wines such as Champagne.  Carbon dioxide may not only make a wine taste lively but it may be protective, allowing for a reduction in sulphur dioxide.

Both of the wines featured in this post have noticeable levels of carbon dioxide.  I would characterize the Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup as more-than-lively with the Domaine Saint-Damien showing even higher concentration with its definite prickly feel. For both wines it works out well.  The Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup shows fresh texture which matches the red grapefruit flavors.  The Domaine Saint-Damien eventually fleshed out such that the generous, deep flavors are a match for the prickles.  Both of these wines drank well for several days after opening.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2007 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $15
Imported by Weygandt/Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 5% Mourvedre which was fermented then aged for eight months in concrete vats.  The wine is overtly prickly at first then as the flavors fill out over the days it becomes integrated.  The wine is finally softening up with some bottle flavors, dark red and blue fruits, along with incense in a gravelly package.  The acidity comes out on the sides of the tongue as the flavors continue to morph in the mouth.  With air there is a lot of flavors with depth as the wine shows good integration in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2019.

2010 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Coteaux Languedoc Pic St. Loup – $15
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault sourced from 30-40 year old vines.  Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts. It was aged for 12 months in foudres and barriques.  This wine is a light to medium color.  The light+ nose reveals fresh aromas and pepper.  In the mouth it is more than lively or lightly prickly with flavors of red grapefruit and grapey red fruit.  This light to medium bodied wine seems to be the lightest of the recent vintages.  An old perfume note haunts through the finish where young, citric tannins coat the lips, the acidity plays, and some spices come out.  *** Now-2015.

Three Strong Values from France

I continue to be amazed by quality of affordable French wines in Washington, DC. All three of the wines featured in this post offer good personality, are drinking well right now, and are attractively priced. Each of these wines is rather different so you are bound to find a favorite. It is almost crazy to think you can throw an impromptu wine tasting with these three bottles for approximately $40 with tax! Why not do it this weekend and find out? These wines drink well right out of the bottle but do improve after half-an hour of air.

I will certainly buy the Domaine Fontsaint and La Bastide Saint Dominique again. The Michael Gassier was a touch too lush for me but Jenn really enjoyed it. That is enough reason to purchase it again. By the way, I am pleased to finally see some new Eric Solomon wines in DC. For those curious the Cercius is a joint project between Eric Solomon, Michael Gassier, and Philippe Cambie. These bottles were purchased from MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserve La Demoiselle, Corbieres – $13
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre with the Carignan sourced from 108 year old vines. The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration with the wine rested in cuve for six months followed by 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. There is a light nose of dark, low-lying aromas perhaps plum as well. In the mouth the soft, dark red fruit turns a little minerally followed by blue fruit in the midpalate. It has a touch of verve but keeps a soft, gently creamy nature with ample forward flavor. The finish is minerally with red and blue fruits along with a touch of earth. With air the blue fruit and mineral aspect expand and reveal some concentration. *** Now-2016.

2007 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cotes du Rhone – $12
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah sourced from 25-50 year old vines. It was aged for 12-18 months. Alcohol 14%. The color is a light to medium garnet. The nose reveals light, lifted red fruit and garrigue. There is a certain softness to this wine with its familial flavors of dark red fruit, dried herbs, and soft complexity. It is simpler at first then stands up a bit as it expands. *** Now-2017.

2011 Michael Gassier, Cercius, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone – $12
Imported by Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah sourced from 80-year old vines. It was aged for six months in concrete tanks. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose reveals Kirsch and red ripe fruit in a vinous and heady way. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit opens over time to show baking spices, cinnamon, and dry port-like flavors. The red fruit borders on the lush side and offers great amounts of flavor for the cost. *** Now-2014.

Two Different Wines from Valpolicella

The wines of Valpolicella are produced from vineyards in Veneto which is located in north-east Italy.  The climate is moderated by Lake Garda to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east.  With cooler temperatures many wines are lower in alcohol.  Indeed the tasty Monte Dall ‘Ora is light and fresh.  It is quite nice but a little too expensive to recommend as a daily drinker.  The Le Ragase is a Ripasso wine meaning it undergoes extended maceration using the must from a recioto or Amarone wine.  The fermentation with this second must increases the alcohol level and other components producing a longer-lived more complex wine.  In tasting the Le Ragase you will notice more dried fruit flavors and assertive structure.  Both of these wines are appropriately priced to allow an interesting comparison.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Monte Dall ‘Ora, Saseti, Valpolicella Classico – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara sourced from biodynamic vineyards which were fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light, grapey red.  The nose is fresh, reaching the nose like a fresh glass of soda.  In the mouth the flavors are tart red with a little graphite.  It is a lighter wine showing a little concentration.  With gentle fruit and some notes of stone this is a tasty wine which leaves the impression of purity.  ** Now-2013.

2007 Le Ragose, Ripasso, Valpolicella Classico Superiore – $16
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is a blend of 50% Corvina, 20% Molinara, 20% Rondinella, and 10% other varietals which were fermented with indigenous yeasts then fermented again on the lees of Amarone.  The wine was then aged for one year in stainless steel followed by two years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%, RS 6.5 g/L.  The flavors are a little prickly on the tongue with a touch of greenhouse flavors mixed with dried cherry fruit, dried florals, and tart red fruit.  There is  lots of acidity to drive this wine.  It is softening up a bit with almost figgy flavors, a little lipstick, and tart red fruit in the finish.  It could benefit from additional time for integration.  ** Now-2017.

A Quick Taste of an Excellent Vin Santo at MacArthur Beverages

August 11, 2012 3 comments

This is a short post about a wine which is worth trying. I tasted it out of a Dixie cup and did not take a formal note but that did not diminish the experience. I was so pleased by this wine that on a second taste I worked the wine so hard in my mouth that it shot back into my windpipe. As Tim and John can attest, I started to cough/choke and almost died on the spot. It is that lovely so be careful. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2005 Villa de Capezzana, Riserva, Vin Santo di Carmignano – (375 mL) $55
This wine is a blend of 90% Trebbiano and 10% San Colombano which were allowed to dry on cane mats from the harvest in September until the following February. It was fermented then aged for five years in small chestnut and cherry casks. RS 260 g/L, Alcohol 14% vol. Lovely, concentrated flavors of peach and perhaps some caramel, in this unctuous wine. The texture is honey smooth, look at the drop in the picture. There are spices and other low-lying flavors in this well-balanced wine. If you drink this now give it several hours of air or wait a few more years.

Tasting 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape at MacArthur Beverages

August 10, 2012 4 comments

Last night I attended the first Wine Blogger Tasting at MacArthur Beverages.  It was organized by Phil Bernstein and to kick things off he opened five 2010 Chateauneuf du Papes and two blind ringers.  In attendance were both local wine bloggers and wine lovers including Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like, Christian Schiller of Schiller-Wine, David White and Sarah Hexter of Terroirist, Isaac James Baker of Reading, Writing & Wine, and Paul DeRose of Wine Output.  For those I have missed I apologize.  Many thanks to MacArthur Beverages for hosting an evening of such tasty wines.

The 2010 Chateauneuf du Papes were opened two hours before the event with the two blind wines about one hour before.  My notes appear in the order the wines were poured.  The group did a rather good job of narrowing down the first blind wine, 2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme, to a recent vintage of Gigondas.  When it came time to guess the second blind wine, 2008 Clos des Papes, the guesses were more variable.  I had guessed 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape since I had mentally eliminated a decades worth of vintages, completely forgetting about 2008.  The Clos des Papes was quite tasty, though expensive, and probably the first bottle finished.

As a whole the 2010 Chateauneuf du Papes showed strong overall balance.   With the good fruit in play with tannins and acidity, these wines were remarkably accessible and very pleasurable at this youthful stage without being flamboyant. Even as the most overtly tannic wine the Grand Veneur was still a pleasure to drink.  In comparison the 2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme is flexing powerful tannins at this point and should really be cellared.  My favorite 2010s were the La Bastide Saint Dominique, Le Vieux Donjon, and Grand Veneur all of which should drink for some two decades.  At a lower price point the Pierre Usseglio is a rather forward wine which may be consumed now with strong pleasure and should appeal to many.  I suspect there will be many tastings organized around 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape with glowing reviews.

2010 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Gigondas – $35 (blind)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault.  The color was medium+ garnet with a cherry core.  The light+ nose had good texture with its pepper scent.  In the mouth the flavors were tight and racy with a bit of lovely texture.  This medium+ bodied wine was mouthfilling revealing some cinnamon and baking spices.  This is quite nice but with its powerful tannins this wine requires several years in the cellar.  ***(*) 2017-2032.

2010 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils, Cuvee Traditionnelle, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Cinsault, and 5% Mourvedre sourced from 35-75 year old vines.  It was aged for 12 months in oak.  The color was medium+ dark cherry.  The dark nose was tight with low-lying fruit and jammy berries.  In the mouth the medium+ bodied wine revealed dark cherry flavors, minerals, and darker fruits.  It was quite nice with completely integrated tannins and acidity.  The fruit turned redder in the finish.  Drinking well now I suspect it will have the shortest life-span of all those tasted.  *** Now-2022.

2010 Brotte, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Sryah, and Mourvedre sourced from 80-year-old vines.  It was aged for 12 months in French oak.  The color was medium+ grapey purple.  The fresh and lifted nose revealed a bit of a Syrah. In the mouth the flavors were lighter and delicate showing structure and some austerity at first.  The midpalate fleshed out a bit with air but still remained tight overall.  The flavors tightened up towards the finish with floral black and purple fruits.  There were fine, drying wood tannins in the aftertaste.  **(*) Now-2025.

2010 Domaine La Bastide Saint Dominique, Secretes de Pignan, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50
This wine is a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre sourced from 90+ year old vines.  It was aged for 18-24 months in tank.  The light+ nose revealed supple berries.  In the mouth the flavors were concentrated with jammy berries which were quite nice.  The fruit was really good with some weight, and an inky aspect which wrapped up in a beautiful, long finish.  There was a little bit of intensity as it warmed up.  **** Now-2027.

2010 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault sourced from vines 60-100+ years of age.  It was aged for 6 months in cement tank followed by 12 months in foudres.  The color was medium+ dark ruby.  In the mouth the flavors were of black fruit and graphite with lots of juicy concentration.  The tannins were integrated with flavors of spice.  This inky wine is drinkable now but has good balance and structure with its spicy tannins to stand up to aging.  Reveals good flavors when worked in the mouth.  ***(*) 2015-2032.

2010 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape – $53
This wine is a blend of 50% Greanche, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah sourced from 65+ year old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in new oak casks.  This was a very dark color.  The flavors were immediately saline with dark, dense fruit and noticeable spicy, drying tannins.  The flavors are concentrated but this needs age for the structure shows through the fruit.  The brambly berries have a soft suppleness which is attractive.  With air the aftertaste reveals tobacco and spicy notes.  I like the saline aspect.  ***(*) 2017-2035.

2008 Clos des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80 (blind)
This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 5% Vaccarese, Counoise, & Muscardin sourced from 50+ year old vines.  It was aged for 15 months in old foudres.  The color was a light to medium garnet which shows a little age.   The more mature nose shows blacker fruit and earth.  In the mouth the flavors were gently saline with mouthfilling dry fruit, minerals which linger around, and cherry liquor.  It gives the impression of mid-life.  *** Now-2017.

Wine Blogger Discount For All!

A Glass Before Leaving Albuquerque

After watching a Guy Fieri video for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives we decided to stop by the Standard Diner on Central for our last meal. Of course we had the Country Fried Tuna amongst others dishes. Having just finished spitting some dozen wines at Gruet Winery (more on that later) I was in the mood for a glass of wine. I did not drink much New Mexican wine this trip so I decided to give a glass from Milagro Vineyards a go. I ordered a glass of Zinfandel from the 2007 vintage but ended up with the 2009. Perhaps a bit too raisined for my preference, it would none the less be perfect with one of the hamburgers. I have not rated the wine since I do not know when it was opened.

2009 Milagro Vineyards, Zinfandel – ~$9 per glass
The color was light to medium garnet-ruby. The light+ nose was of dark, pruned fruit. In the mouth there were darker fruit flavors in this medium bodied wine. There was some concentration and acidity to carry things along. The raisin-like flavors expanded in the finish where things tightened up a bit. There was enough acidity in the end to prick things up a bit. There were medium, ripe-ish tannins. I would drink this now or over the short-term.

Some Wines Tasted in Albuquerque

Here is a short post featuring some wines we have tasted in Albuquerque.  My favorite of the bunch is Cuatro Pasos which is also the most affordable.  It is a custom cuvee for Eric Solomon.  Showing a bit more substance it should provide good drinking for the short-term and cooler weather.  The Atalaya has a rather interesting nose but its current state makes it a bit hard to drink more than a glass right now.  I would try a bottle again in a few years.  The Sol ‘Alcatalys is a lighter Cotes du Rhone that would show well slightly cool on a hot summers night.  These bottles were purchased at Jubilation Wine & Spirits in Albuquerque.

2009 Bodegas Martin Sarmiento, Cuatro Pasos, Mencia, Bierzo – $14
Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars Selection.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 80-year-old vines grown on slate.  Alcohol 14%.  The light nose is grapey with red fruit and a touch of red candy.  The flavors are fresh with stone dust, red fruit and orange note followed by fine+ stoney tannins.  There are minerals and some spices in the aftertaste.  With air this wine shows moderate concentration with citrus-like acidity which causes ones mouth to water.  The fruit is tasty right now but the structure is such that it can age a bit.  *** Now-2015.

2009 Bodegas Atalaya, Atalaya, Almansa – $18
Imported by [illegible].  This wine is a blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Monastrell aged four months in French oak.  Alcohol 15%.  The interesting light + nose is floral with violets and purple fruits.  In the mouth there are slightly puckering flavors to this medium bodied wine.  There are minerals, black fruit, and smoke.  In the finish there are drying fine+ tannins which are spicy followed by some heat.  Enjoyable to smell but the body is nervous right now and needs time to settle down.  ** 2014-2016.

2009 Vignerons de Tavel, Sol ‘Alcantalys, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by European Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 63% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 14% Carignan, and 6% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a light ruby garnet.  The light nose reveals cherry liquor.  In the mouth the flavors are rather light with grapey fruit and pepper in this light to medium bodied wine.  It is light in tannins with acidity inside.  Overall an inoffensive wine for early drinking.  ** Now-2015.