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A Return to Australia

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

We have not drunk much Australian wine as of late.  I have become curious about the new wines John has been bringing to the store.  The Picardy is one such example from Pemberton in Southwest Australia.  This selection was both a new winery and region for me.  From the excellent 2005 vintages this was our favorite of the trio.  Perhaps this is not suprising as the winery is owned by the Panell’s who established Moss Wood.  This wine is starting to come into its own now so I recommend you give a bottle a try.  The Fireblock was a decent enough drink but not captivating.  First Drop Wines was also new to me.  John recommended I start with the Half & Half.  With a Spanish inspired label, this Monastrell blend is certainly different.  I think it needs more time.  The Picardy and First Drop were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Fire Block was purchased at Total Wine of Manassas.

2005 Picardy, Merlimont, Pemberton – $23
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 23% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a medium+ garnet.  The soft nose is a little closed with tobacco and licorice in a Bordeaux manner.  In the mouth the flavors are softer and darker with wood box along with expansive blue and black fruit.  After one to two hours things loosen up a bit as it becomes a little tangy.  There are ripe, drying tannins which coat the inside of the lips.  It becomes fresh with a little softening in the finish.  The fruit is initially ripe then dries up towards the aftertaste.  Drinkable now but give some air.  *** Now-2017.

2005 Fire Block, Old Vine Grenache, Clare Valley – $16
Imported by USA Wine West.   This wine is 100% Grenached sourced from a vineyard planted in 1926 as a fireblock next to the railway line to prevent bush fires.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose and mouth are similar with cherry fruit and maturing Australian grenache (for lack of a better description).  The red fruit is supported by ample acidity.  This is a brighter wine with subtle ripe weight.  The flavors drop off a bit by the aftertaste.  ** Now-2016.

2010 First Drop Wines, Half & Half – $20?
Imported by Vine St Imports.  This wine is 50% Shiraz and 50% Monastrell sourced from 16-year-old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in seasoned French barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over two nights this was better on the second night.  There is a pungent, deep fruit nose with aromas of orange.  In the mouth the flavors are tart and bright with red fruit.  There is some ripeness, cherry flavors, and wood note supports by lots of acidity.  There is a long aftertaste with some green tea.  This needs air if you drink it now perhaps best after a few more years.  ** 2014-2018.

Three Red Blends from Washington

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The three wines featured in today’s post were all purchased during my last trip to Seattle.  During my previous trips to Seattle I have focused on the international offerings.  But Jenn and I found ourselves craving the wines of Washington so I picked up some affordable red blends.  The wines of Rulo, Domaine Pouillon, and Syncline have all be featured in previous posts.  Of these three the Rulo, Syrca may be drunk now.  Gather your friends so you finish the bottle on the first night when it is forward and lush.  Pure pleasure.  Both the Domaine Pouillon and Syncline require cellar age.  I think the Syncline, Carignan-Grenache will eventually come around so please leave it in the cellar.  The Domaine Pouillon, Pierre is a beautiful, balanced wine.  With a few hours of air you get a good idea of its potential but it I would personally cellar it for several more years.  These wines were purchased at Whole Foods and Wine World & Spirits.

2009 Rulo, Syrca, Walla Walla – $16
This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain and 30% Syrah from Columbia Valley.  The wine was aged for 26 months in 50% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a medium purple-ruby.  Tasted over two nights the light notes offers up scented violets with a touch of vanilla.  In the mouth there is ripe fruit with a sweet touch of vanilla.  The wine is creamy in texture with new oak tannins, black fruit, graphite,  and spicy coarse tannins in the finish.  This was best on the first night when it was lush.  On the second night the fruit receded a bit with some tannins and heat poking through.  *** Now-2015.

2008 Domaine Pouillon, Pierre, Horse Heaven Hills – $22
This wine is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Syrah sourced from the McKinley Springs vineyard.  The wine was aged for 13 months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 14.7%.  Tasted over two nights the light nose remained tight with precise aromas of scented berries and tobacco.  In the mouth the flavors start off red then take on ripe, black fruit.  Again the wine is precise with controlled sweet spices which expand in the mouth as the flavors slowly build and take on drying, chewy tannins which coat the inside of the teeth and lips.  This is well made, finishing up with a little, racy cherry candy, very fine tannins, and fresh, subtle acidity.  *** 2016-2024.

2010 Syncline, Carignan – Grenache, Columbia Valley – $20
This wine is a blend of 64% Carignan and 36% Grenache sourced from McKinley Springs vineyard.  The hand-harvested fruit is destemmed, fermented with selected yeasts in open top fermenters then aged for 11 months in neutral French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.1%.  Tasted over two nights the light nose remained tight with grapey cherry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors of hard red and black fruit mix with a little juicy acidity.  There are firm notes of graphite (rather fitting) red fruit, integrated tannins, and a little perfume.  The tannins dry the tongue a bit.  This is young and should be cellared.  **(*) 2017-2025.

French Wines at the Winebow Portfolio Tasting

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Winebow Tasting at URBANA Restaurant, Hotel Palomar

This post covers the French wines I tasted at the Winebow Portfolio tasting last Thursday. In my experience it is hard to go wrong with a wine imported by Kermit Lynch. This tasting reinforced that opinion. I thought this tasting a success with plenty of interesting wines. The spittons were constantly emptied, the water pitchers always filled, and there was a table of enjoyable charcuterie for reinforcement. I am still a slow taster and equally slow note writer but I felt relaxed by everyone’s friendly nature and inquries as to what my notes were for. Though tired I rode the Metro home excited by all of the wines I tasted and craving a glass to actually drink. Please find my notes below.

Champalou

Catherine Champalou, Champalou

Catherine and Didier Champalou started their domaine in 1983. They farm 21 hectares of vineyards using sustainable farming and organic methods. I thought all three wines showed well with the La Grand Fondeaux particularly beautiful.

NV Champalou, Petillant Brut, Vouvray
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 20-year-old vines. The color is a very light straw. The light nose is yeasty and articulate. The flavors are of apple fruit delivered by a burst of bubbles followed by fine, lively acidity on the tongue. There is texture, dried spice, and ripe fruit, not to mention a yeast note.

2010 Champalou, Sec, Vouvray
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 35-year-old vines The fruit was fermented in stainless steel then aged on the fine lees for 11 months. The light nose has aromas of low-lying ripe white fruit. The white fruit flavors are mineraly with a little “sweet” lemon juice. The acidity is balanced. There are some tannins to the citrus flavored finish.

2010 Champalou, La Grand Fondreaux, Vouvray
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 45-year-old vines. The fruit is fermented in 450 liter wooden cuves where it is aged on the lees for 11 months. The light nose is more Pilsner-like. In the mouth there clearly is a fine wine with beautiful fruit and good gentle weight. The flavors become white and floral with a certain ripeness and long aftertaste. Nice.

Domaine de Fontsainte

Marie-Christine Polak, Domaine de Fontsainte

There have been vineyards on the site of Domaine de Fontsainte since the Romans. Today Bruno Laboucarie farms the land sustainably. I have already enjoyed several bottles of the Reserve la Demoiselle so was pleased that the Tradition Rouge is a strong offering as well.

2010 Domaine de Fontsainte, Tradition Rouge, Corbieres
This wine is a blend of 70% Carignan, 15% Grenache Noir, and 15% Syrah. The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration. The wine is aged for six months in French oak barrels. The nose is light with grapey blue fruit and perfume. In the mouth the fine, blue fruit show ripeness and is mouthfilling. The wine is balance, quite nice with a good racy note, moderate depth, and easy to drink.

2009 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserve la Demoiselle, Corbieres
This wine is a blend of 70% Carignan, 20% Grenache Noir, and 10% Mourvedre with the Carignan vines over 100 years old. The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration. The wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. The nose is light+ with dark red fruit and smells concentrated. In the mouth there is lovely ripe red and blue fruit, depth, balance, and an earthy note. There is some red fruit and a little spice to the long aftertaste. This will age a bit but is great fun now.

Charles Joguet

Anne-Charlotte Genet, Charles Joguet

Charles Joguet took control of the family domaine in 1957. Today Kevin Fontaine overseas the domaine and produces wine from some 36 hectares of vines. The land is sustainably farmed. There are several good choices here with the Cuvee Terroir a good introduction. I would drink the Clos de la Plante Martin and Les Petites Roches while the Cuve de la Cure ages.

2010 Charles Joguet, Clos de la Plante Martin, Touraine
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 13-18 year old vines. The nose is yeasty and delicate with fruit. In the mouth the yeasty, earthy flavors follow the nose. The flavors turn towards weighty white fruit with some citrus, balanced acidity, nice texture, and a sappy, long aftertaste.

2009 Charles Joguet, Cuvee Terroir, Chinon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 30-year-old vines. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation then ages in cuve. The light nose is fresh and grapey. In the mouth there are weighty, light blue flavors which mix with tart red notes. There is a little citrus hint and nice, tannins with a ripe texture.

2009 Charles Joguet, Les Petites Roches, Chinon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35-year-old vines which yield complexity. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation then ages in cuve. There is tart red fruit, minerals, with low-lying flavors which turn blacker in the finish. There are very fine tannins. Exhibits the gravelly soils well.

2009 Charles Joguet, Cuvee de la Cure, Chinon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35-year-old vines. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in used oak barrels where it is aged for 12 months. The light nose is more pungent with piercing red and blue fruit. In the mouth there is finely textured, weighty, red fruit and light, spicy tannins. The wine is slow to open but has good flavors and all around balance. Young, need some age.

2009 Charles Joguet, Les Varennes du Grand Clos, Chinon
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 36-50 year old vines. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in used barrels then is aged for 15-16 months in oak futes then after assembly in cuve it is aged a further two months. The light nose is interesting but still tight. The flavors are soft in a sense, coiled tight with notes of graphite and tart red fruit. The are fine tannins in the structure which is balanced. Wait 3-5 years before trying again.

Chateau de Lascaux

Meredith Hyslop, Chateau de Lascaux

Though the vineyards of Lascaux have been in the Cavalier family for generations Chateau de Lascaux did not exist until 1990. At this point Jean-Benoit consolidated the vineyards and renovated the cellars. The Rose was quite refreshing while the Rouge has opened up nicely since I lasted tasted it. I would drink these two while the Carra ages.

2010 Chateau de Lascaux, Blanc, Coteaux du Languedoc
This wine is a blend of 50% Vermentino, 20% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne, and 10% Viognier sourced from 15-20 year old vines. The light nose is floral with fruity-tooth aromas. In the mouth there is fresh Lychee, grapefruit, and yeast notes with a smooth feel. There are some fine tannins and texture. Decent.

2011 Chateau de Lascaux, Rose, Coteaux du Languedoc
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 5-10 year old vines. It was aged in cuves for 7 months. The flavors are very crisp and lively on the tongue, a step up from the Blanc. There are minerals, dry flavors, and dried floral notes.

2009 Chateau de Lascaux, Rouge, Cotes du Languedoc
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Grenache, and 5% Mourvedre sourced from 10-20 year old vines. It was aged in cuves for 14 months. The light nose is pungent. In the mouth there is a surprising amount of flavor. One finds ripe, earthy fruit, structure, minerals, and drying tannins. This has opened up nicely since I last tasted it one year ago.

2010 Chateau de Lascaux, Carra, Pic Saint Loup
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache sourced from 10-20 year old vines. It was aged in cuves for 14 months. There is brambly, concentrated fruit which is red and blue. The drying structured tannins frame fresh herbs in the finish. Nice, but needs several years of age.

Domaine La Tour Vieille

Christine Campadieu, Domaine La Tour Vieille

Domaine la Tour Vieille began when Vincent Cantie and Christine Campadieu joined their two small family domaines in Collioure and Banyuls. The estate is composed of 32 acres of vineyards located on steep terraced hills with stone walls for erosion control. The land and grapes are worked by hand. All wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts. I do not come across too many wines from Collioure so I made sure to taste Christine Campadieu’s wines. The nose of La Pinede is evocative of the sea with the flavors in the mouth of black fruit. This was my first time tasting Banyuls and I particularly liked the Blanc Doux and the Rimage.

2009 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Carignan sourced from 35-70 year old vines. The light+ nose is briney with a fine scent. In the mouth the lovely racy fruit has a cool aspect and is racy. The wine is quite approachable with a perfume throughout, sweet, ripe black fruit, and a fine structure.

2009 Domaine La Tour Vieille,Blanc Doux, Banyuls
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Grenache Gris sourced from 35-70 year old vines. This wine has a light nose of ripe apples and yeast. In the mouth the fine racy flavors are beautiful with the residual sugar and acidity in balance. The flavors of white floral fruit is lifted, with good fruit overall, showing a fruity, pastille note in the finish. Well done.

2009 Domaine La Tour Vieille, Rimage, Banyuls
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Carignan sourced from 45+ year old vines. The light+ nose is bright with tart, red fruit. In the mouth the red bramble fruit mixes with herbs and spices. It caresses the mouth with a soft, supple, sweet blanket of flavors. The wine is complex and possesses adroit balance. There are grainy, dried fruit flavors in the finish. Well done.

NV Domaine La Tour Vieille,Reserve, Banyuls
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Grenache Gris, and 30% Carignan sourced from 45+ year old vines. This wine is a late bottling seeing 3-6 years of age in oak barrels. The nose is fine with a wood note. In the mouth the flavors are slightly earthy with some pruned fruit. The more delicate dried fruit is floral with a sweetness. There is more residual sugar but still has good balanced before the dried fruit and dried herbs of the finish.

Kermit Extras

Kermit Extras

There was wine table with a selection of Kermit Lynch “Extras” pourd by Lyle Railsback. Lots of goodies here!

2011 Gros ‘Nore, Rose, Bandol
This wine is a blend of 40% Mourvedre, 40% Cinsault, and 20% Grenache sourced from 30 year old vines. This wine had a light pungent nose. In the mouth the ripe fruit is nutty with a smooth mouthfeel. There were herbs followed by a yeast note in the finish and sweet spice in the aftertaste. This was balanced all around.

2010 Yves Leccia, Blanc
This wine is 100% Biancu Gentile sourced from 5-year-old vines located on schist soils. The fruit is fermented in stainless steel then aged for six months. This wine had a very light, yeast nose of citrus and melons. In the mouth there was gentle citrus, florals, and herbs delivered with a good mouth feel. There is a Pilsner note as yeast and white fruit come out in the finish. Again, good mouth feel.

2009 Yves Leccia, Croce, Patrimonio
This wine is a blend of 90% Niellucciu and 10% Grenache sourced from 20-40 year old vines. The fruit is fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months. The nose is floral with blue and purple fruit. In the mouth there is light to medium structure with blue and black fruit. The flavors move on to ripe, earthy, ethereal quality with drying tannins meant for age. There is a certain lightness to the wine. Nice.

2009 Les Pallieres, Terrasse du Diable, Gigondas
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Clairette sourced from 45-year-old vines. The fruit is fermented in cement cuves and wooden vats then aged for 10 months in cuves followed by 12 months in foudre. This wine has a light nose of pure fruit with underlying bramble. In the mouth there are dried herbs, sage, and tart red fruit delivered by fine acidity. The power is lurking below as is very fine, drying tannins. There is a long aftertaste. Will age for some time.

2009 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape
This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault, Clairette, and others sourced from 20-60 year old vines. The fruit is fermented in cement cuves and wooden vats then aged for 10 months in cuves followed by 12 months in foudre. This wine has a tight nose. In the mouth it is complex and beautiful. The red and blue fruit has gentle bramble, long, fine flavors, and shows strong refinement. There is a little dried fruit and fine powerful tannins.

2008 Domaine de Durban, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
This wine is 100% Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc sourced from 35-year-old vines. Neutral spirit is used to arrest fermentation with aging in cement and stainless steel. The medium strength nose reveals depth to the fresh and dried apricots. In the mouth there are earthy apricots and perfume which is quite haunting. The flavors are a touch savory. There is a fresh herb note, caramelized residual sugar, and weight in the finish. Nice.

Italian Wines at the Winebow Portfolio Tasting

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

The Hotel Palomar, Washington, DC

Last Thursday I attended the Winebow French and Italian Portfolio Tasting at the Hotel Palomar.  This tasting featured Italian wines selected by Leonardo LoCascio and French wines imported by Kermit Lynch.  This was reason enough for me to take the afternoon off.  Together there were 22 wineries represented.  There were more wines than I could taste and take notes on so I intend no disrepect to those not covered. In this post you will find my notes on the Italian wines I tasted.  For those who follow my blog you will find a few wines which I have tasted before.

Argiolas

Beppe Pinna, Argiolas

Argiolas was founded in 1937. Located in Sardinia it produces wine primarily from native Sardinian varietals.  Argiolas produces more white wine than red.  This was my first experience with their whites and it was pleasing.  You could drink the S’elegas and Costamolino right now for pleasure while the IS Argiolas ages for a year or two.  Of the reds you cannot go wrong with the Costera or the Korem.  The Turriga is very well done.  Both the Korem and Turriga will age for some time.  Beppe Pinna explained that the 2006 Turriga is considered the most age worthy vintage produced.

2010 Argiolas, S’elegas, Nuragus di Cagliari
This wine is 100% Nuragus sourced from 32-42 year old vines. It was fermented then aged for 3-4 months in stainless steel tanks. The color is light yellow. The light to medium nose reveals lovely rich, yellow fruit and a little floral aspect. In the mouth the yellow fruit mixed with acidity at first then a good mouthfeel develops. Though smooth there is lots of grip. The finish is strong with minerals driving it.

2011 Argiolas, Costamolino, Vermentino di Sardegna
This wine is 95% Vermentino and 5% other Sardinian varietals sourced from 22-32 year old vines. It was fermented then aged for 3-4 months in stainless steel tanks. A light straw color. The light nose reveals bright fruit which is more floral. In the mouth the flavors are rather fresh, with plenty of lively acidity, and a long aftertaste. There is a touch more yellow citrus to the flavors, along with spices and texture in the aftertaste.

2011 Argiolas, IS Argiolas, Vermentino di Sardegna
This wine is 100% Vermentino sourced from 32-year-old vineyards. It was fermented then aged for 5-6 months in stainless steel tanks. The color is a light straw yellow. The light, low-lying nose has aromas of ripe white and yellow fruit. In the mouth the lightly concentrated wine has nice weight, white citrus, and minerals delivered in a taut body. Well-done. Could age.

2009 Argiolas, Perdera, Monica di Sardegna
This wine is 100% Monica, 5% Carignano, and 5% Bovale Sardo sourced from 30+ year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for six months in French oak casks. The color is a light to medium ruby. There is light, sweaty fruit with tastes simpler of younger vines. The flavors are grapey red and blue with the fruit balanced by acidity. There is some racy black fruit. A wine for the short-term.

2009 Argiolas, Costera, Cannonau di Sardegna
This wine is 90% Cannonau, 5% Carignano, and 5% Bovale Sardo sourced from 23-year-old vines. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for six months in French oak barriques. The color is a light+ intense ruby. The headier nose reveals red fruit. In the mouth the flavors are softer with more racy, red notes which stick around into the aftertaste. More serious than the Perdera there is a light amount of fine tannins which coat the teeth.

2008 Argiolas, Korem, Isola Dei Nuraghi
This wine is 55% Bovale Sardo, 35% Carignano, and 10% Cannonau sourced from 30-year-old vines. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel than aged for 12 months in cements tanks and barriques of which 50% were new. The color is light to medium ruby with some garnet. The light+ nose reveals more complexity with red and blue fruits, perfume, and a hint of wood box. In the mouth it is quite nice from the start, a little maturity showing through, wood box, spicy tannins, and racy black fruit. There are more drying tannins to the structure along with soft acidity. This should age over a decade.

2006 Argiolas, Turriga, Isola Dei Nuraghi
This wine is 85% Cannonau and 15% Malvasia Nera, Carignano, and Bovale Sardo sourced from 37-year-old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tank then aged for 24 months in concrete and new barriques. The color is light to medium ruby with some garnet. There are light aromas to the nose of dark and right red fruit. In the mouth the focused red and blue fruit is a little brambly and gently powerful. There are notes of wood box, spicy tannins which dry the lips and teeth followed by black minerality in the aftertaste. Will certainly age.

Bisceglia

Michele Bisceglia, Bisceglia

Bisceglia was founded by Mario Bisceglia in 2001 on the lower slopes of Mount Vulture. The modern winery produces wine from 40 hectares of vineyards.  I have liked earlier vintages of the Terra di Vulcano and Gudarra.  I must admit that the Gudarra was easily my favorite.

2010 Bisceglia, Terra di Vulcano, Aglianico del Vulture
This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from eight year old vines. It was fermented and aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks.. The light+ nose is perfumed with bluer fruit. In the mouth there is soft texture to the mixed berries. The fresh acidity supports some concentration to the flavors towards the finish. The flavors then tight up a little as light, grapey tannins come out.

2008 Bisceglia, Gudarra, Aglianico del Vulture
This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from 11-year-old vines fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in new French oak barriques. The more complex nose revealed mixed berries and piercing ripe fruit. In the mouth there is weighty black fruit, more structure, and an interesting mineral vein. There are sweet spices in the finish along with drying tannins. Nice.

2007 Bisceglia, Treje, Basilicata
This wine is a blend of 34% Aglianico, 33% Merlot, and 33% Syrah sourced from 10-year-old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks with the Aglianico aged for 12 months in new French oak barriques. The Merlot and Syrah were aged for six months.. The light+ aromatic nose reveals red and blue fruit with a Merlot lift. The flavors are sweeter in a sense, lighter in body with a bit more acidity and focus but with less depth. There is a little bit of concentration before the sappy, mixed fruit of the aftertaste.

Maculan

Angela Maculan, Maculan

The Maculan family has been producing wine since 1947. They produce wine from 37 acres of estate vineyards and a further 125 contracted acres.  I have enjoyed a few bottles of the Brentino so it was a treat to taste through this large selection of wines.  While the Brentino remains a strong value the Fratta was my favorite.  At the more affordable end the Palazzotto and Torcolato should not be missed.  Do check out the Maculan website for images of the Torcolato grapes drying on twisted ropes.

2011 Maculan, Pino & Toi, Veneto
This wine is a blend of 60% Tai, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio sourced from 17-year-old vines. It was fermented then aged for three months in stainless steel. The light nose is floral with yellow citrus. In the mouth the weighty, “nutty”, smooth yellow fruit is quite up front. Then there is a yeasty, drier aftertaste leaving some grip and refreshing, sweet spice.

2011 Maculan, Sauvignon, Veneto
This wine is 100% Sauvignon sourced from 22-year-old vines. It was fermented then aged for three months in stainless steel. There is a medium nose of cat pee on litter. In the mouth the flavors of pastilles is fresh, crisp, and lively on the tongue. There is earthy, white fruit with a touch of warmth.

2010 Maculan, Brentino, Veneto
This wine is a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged 12 months in stainless steel tanks and used French oak barriques. The light to medium nose reveals some sweet oak mixed with red and blue fruit. The flavors are of red fruit at first then a mixture of blue and black fruit towards the finish. The flavors puff out into the mouth with a soft feeling. There is a little, thin vein of grippy flavors and tannins.

2009 Maculna, Palazzotto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Breganze
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in new and used French oak barriques. The light+ nose is refined. In the mouth the soft and weighty blue fruit mixes with Cassis and slowly builds leaving drying, spicy tannins. There is more focus to the lithe flavors, nice structure with an approachable softness to the edges. There aftertaste is haunting.

2007 Maculan, Fratta, Veneto
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in new French oak barriques. The light nose reveals dark, complex aromas and wood box with spices. In the mouth the flavors are complex and interesting from the start. There is good depth but the wine remains light in the mouth, slowly filling it with flavors as the tannins built up into a dark and lovely aftertaste.  Nice

2005 Maculan, Crosara, Breganze
This wine is 100% Merlot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in new French oak barriques. The light+ nose is dense, grainy, and of red jam. In the mouth the red fruit is concentrated and texture but maintains a mouthfilling lightness. There are notes of dried fruit in the finish, very fine, ripe tannins which coat the lips as red fruit comes out in the aftertaste.

2011 Maculan, Dindarello, Moscato Veneto
This wine is 100% Moscato which was dried for month in temperature and moisture controlled rooms. It was fermented and aged for six months in stainless steel tanks. The light nose is floral with perfumed muscat aromas which show some ripeness. In the mouth the racy, concentrated fruit is more floral with dried apricot. The residual sugar mixes with some acidity, could use a bit more time for integration, becoming lifted and sweet in the aftertaste. The flavors drop off a bit in the finish.  Needs some age

2008 Maculan, Torcolato, Breganze
This wine is a blend of 85% Vespaiola, 10% Tocai, and 5% Garganega which was dried for four months 85% in trays and 15% suspended from the ceiling in twisted rope.  It was then fermented in stainless steel and aged for 12 months in 67% used French oak.  The light nose is a bit more piercing. In the mouth there is fine complexity, very racy flavors, good acidity and spices are balanced by the residual sugar. There is very good structure and balance for aging. There are darker flavors and a spice aspect to the finish where one almost does not notice the residual sugar at all. Nice.

2008 Maculan, Madoro
This wine is a blend of 80% Marzemina and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is light to medium in strength, evocative of the sea, hothouse flowers, quite different. In the mouth there are strange hot-house, green house notes with sweet red fruit, jammy dried fruit. The residual sugar is more overt as is the structure and licorice note in the finish.

Villa Remotti

Villa Remotti was founded in 2002 by Rafaella Rossi and Riccardo Garosci. The focus is on Barbera D’Asti.  I do not drink too much Barbera D’Asti but I like the chewy, youthful nature.

2011 Villa Remotti, Barbera D’Asti
This wine is 100% Barbera is both fermented and aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks. The color is a light to medium ruby. The light grapey aromas make way to chewy, youthful red fruit in the mouth. There is good acidity, grapey tannins which become citrus in the aftertaste where they mix with red and blue fruit.

Zenato

Nadia Zenato, Zenato

The Zenato winery was founded in 1960 by Sergio and Carla Zenato.  Of the whites I would opt for the Lugano but perhaps give it six months of age.  Of the reds the Cresasso is undeniably attractive with the Sargio Zenato Amarone Riserva a real treat.

2011 Zenato, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie
This wine is 100% Pinot Grigio sourced from 16-year-old vines which were fermented in stainless steel. The light+ Pinot Grigio nose smells of white citric, acidic fruit. In the mouth the flavors are weightier with white and yellow fruit with shows a ripe nice. There is lots of acidity, spices, perhaps nuts, and a sweet spices aftertaste.

2011 Zenato, Lugana, Sant Benedetto
100% Trebbiano di Lugana which was fermented then aged for six months in stainless steel.. The light nose is tight. In the mouth the flavors are lively on the tongue with a little prickle. The acidity softens up as white and yellow fruit comes out with an apple note. The flavors are low-lying then expand in the back where some tannins and a yeast note come out.

2010 Zenato, Valpolicella Superiore
This wine is a blend of 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, and 10% Sangiovese sourced 25+ year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks 12 months in used French oak barrels. The light, tight nose reveals red fruit with a fleeting earthy aroma. The flavors are surprisingly ripe, compared to the nose, almost sweet with red and blue fruit. There are some herbs, a cool aspect, and a finish of earthy blue fruit and old perfume.

2008 Zenato,Cormi, Corvina Delle Venezie
This wine is a blend of 50% Corvina and 50% Merlot sourced from 25+ year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in used French oak casks. The light+ nose is of red fruit and wood notes. In the mouth the ripe, red fruit expands, takes on a little grit before picking up grippy concentration in the finish where there are spicy, drying tannins.

2009 Zenato, Ripassa, Valpolicella Superiore
This wine is a blend of 80% Corvina, 10% Sangiovese, and 10% Rondinella sourced from 25+ year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks with selected batches under going a second fermentation on Amarone lees. It was aged for 18 months in used French oak tonneaux. The light and tight nose shows some dried fruit aromas. In the mouth the red fruit is concentrated and supported by a grainy textured vein which turns a little blue in the finish. There are spicy tannins.

2006 Zenato, Cresasso, Corvina Veronese
This wine is a blend of 100% Corvina sourced from 14-year-old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 18 months in used French oak barriques. The nose is light+ with complex wood box and cedar notes. In the mouth the flavors are concentrated, racy, young with a little spicy, dried fruit aspect. This wine is medium to full-bodied showing balanced structure, nice, drying spicy tannins, and savory flavors. This pack in a lot! Young.

2007 Zenato, Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico
This wine is a blend of 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, and 10% Sangiovese sourced from 18-year-old vines. It was aged for 30 months in used French oak casks.. The light+ nose reveals dry Port at first. In the mouth there are dried berries, earthy flavors, wood notes, and fine, ripe tannins. The earthy note continues with a racy sweet fruit note.

2006 Zenato, Sergio Zenato, Amarone Classico Riserva
This wine is a blend of 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Sangiovese. It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 36 months in used French oak barriques and casks. There is a similar nose. In the mouth there is great concentration to the flavors but with refinement. There is very fine, textured, earthy, brambly fruit showing prime balance as weighty, drying tannins come out towards the aftertaste. Nice!

Sauvignon Blanc and Greywacke

September 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently drank an interesting pair of wines from Marlborough, New Zealand.  The Auntsfield Estate is old by many standards with the first vineyard and winery completed in 1873.  The original log and rammed earth cellar has been restored providing an historical glimpse at how the wines were originally made.  While the original vineyard consisted of one acre of brown Muscat today there are over 100 hectares of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards are located on the lower slopes of southern Wairau Valley.  The fruit for this Estate Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from vines located on old Greywacke rocks and Loess clay soils.

Old Vineyard, Image from Auntsfield

Greywacke is a much younger winery having been established by Kevin Judd in 2009.  Kevin Judd himself is an experienced hand having been the winemaker for the first 25 vintages at Cloudy Bay.  It was during these years that he envisioned having his own label and actually registered the Greywacke name in 1993.  The fruit for his wines are sourced from central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys.  The fruit for this Sauvignon blanc is sourced from vines  located on soils of greywacke river stones and older, clay-loams.   The wines themselves are made at Dog Point Winery.

Vineyard Wairau Valley, Image from murraybrock (flickr)

For those curious, such as myself, Greywacke (grey-wacky) is a grey stone found throughout New Zealand.  This type of rock consists of layers of hard, grey sandstone alternating with thinner, darker layers of mudstone.

Both of these wines are quite enjoyable and I recommend both.  If I had to pick a single bottle then I would recommend the Greywacke.  I felt it had a bit more density to its character which combined with more integrated acidity, proved a superb glass of wine all by itself.  These wines area available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – $19
Imported by Old Bridge Cellars.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc which was mostly machine harvested.  The majority was fermented in stainless steel tanks with cultured yeast and the remainder in old French oak barriques using indigenous yeasts.  The batches were kept on the lees until blending.  TA 7.2 g/l, pH 3.08, Alcohol 13.6%.  The color is a light straw-green.  The light nose is fresh with textured aromas of grapefruit.  In the mouth the fruit ripens with air providing flavors of white fruit, green apple, and minerals.  There is lively acidity followed by a grassy aftertaste where dry flavors of minerals leave a textured finish.  There is also a hint of sweet spiced tannins.  *** Now-2016.

2010 Auntsfield Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, Southern Valleys, Marlborough – $20
Imported by Vine Street Imports.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from estate vineyards.  85% of the fruit was machine harvested then fermented in stainless steel tanks using cultured yeast and 15% was hand harvested then fermented in seasoned oak barrels using indigenous yeasts.  TA 7.24 g/l, 3.25 pH, Alcohol 13.5%.  The medium strength nose is grassy with pink grapefruit, stones, and white fruit.  In the mouth there is tangy, textured fruit, lots of citric acidity which causes the front of the tongue to pucker before the flavors broaden and show some ripeness.  There are minerals notes towards the finish followed by a long aftertaste.  Quite a mouthful.  *** Now-2015.

An Energetic Riesling From Selbach-Oster

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The Selbach family has cultivated the vine since the 17th century.  The Oster family ran a cooperage.  Today they run the Weingut Selbach-Oster winery, a negocient firm, and a brokerage agency.  The family owns 20 hectares of vineyards in the middle Mosel.  The fruit is harvested by hand, fermented with indigenous yeasts mainly in old 1,000 liter fuders though some stainless steel tanks are used.  The wines are left on the lees for a month or two following fermentation.  The vineyard at Wehlener Sonnenuhr is located on steep to very steep slopes on soils of blue Devonian slate with a shallow subsoils of decomposed slates and loam.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Image by epeigne37 under Creative Commons License (flickr)

I poured my first glass right after opening the bottle and was immediately compelled to drink the wine.  This is a beautiful wine which shows some maturity from the bottle age.  But what captures my attention is the interplay of the acidity and texture which only German wines possess.  I would buy this by the case.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $16
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  Alcohol 8.5%.  The color is a light straw with a hint of green.  There is a light to medium nose which precedes the mouth.  In the mouth there is immediate energetic acidity which touches the tongue then enlivens the tip with floral white fruit.  There is some weight at first as the wine takes on a smooth, honied texture, along with some mature flavors which plump up in the mouth.  The mature flavors are replaced by tart fruit in the finish as the wine trims up leaving a long aftertaste of spices, a touch of minerals, and weight.  *** Now-2022.

Two Grenache Based Wines From 2009

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Both of these wines are predominantly Grenache with a small amount of Syrah.  The Domaine de la Grand Ribe is quite generous in its profile with a bit of heat showing through.  Just make sure you serve it cool and you can delight in all of the flavors for only $12.  The Chateau Coupe Roses is more of my style, albeit at almost twice the price.  I really like the earthy fruit and the effortless integration of the structure which will allow it to develop for several years.  Give them both a go!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Domaine de la Grand Ribe, Cuvee Centenaire, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $12
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache and Syrah from 75+ year old vines.  It underwent malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 15%.  The light nose reveals dark, red fruit. In the mouth there is ample citrus-like red fruit which is both strangely fresh and a bit heady.  The texture is nice with some grain.  There are notes of pencil graphite and wood with good acidity, spices in the finish followed by powdery red and blue fruit with spice in the aftertaste.  This drinks best at a cool temperature.  *** Now-2019.

2009 Chateau Coupe Roses, Granaxa, Minervois – $22
Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports.  This wine is 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for one year in second and third year oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a medium ruby with dark-cherry.  The nose reveals candied-strawberry aromas.  In the mouth there is beautiful red, earthy fruit, gentle concentration, and powdery, textured flavors.  The wine is weighty with acidity coming out on the sides of the tongue towards the middle.  There are berry flavors in the finish followed by juicy-fruit in the aftertaste.  Drinkable now but should really be cellared.  *** 2014-2022.