I suppose it is an Eric Solomon day! The 2011 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine is a custom cuvee for Eric Solomon. The 2011 vintage sees a return to the inclusion of Mourvedre which I sorely missed in the 2010 vintage (you may read about here). With its red fruit and earth this is a more approachable wine than in previous vintages. While I suspect it will not be as long-lived as the 2005 or 2006 there is certainly no rush to drink them up. So buy a few bottles drink over the holidays and next several years. It is a return to form and a good value. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Domaine “La Garrigue”, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 60-90 year old vines located on pebbly soils at 450 feet. It was aged for 10-12 months in concrete tanks. Alcohol 14.5%. The color is a light to medium purple ruby. The light nose offers up pepper, red fruit, and some earthy aromas. In the mouth there is red fruit, raspberry, and pepper delivered with brightness and acidity. This is a very approachable wine with acidity on the sides of the tongue. The flavors are a little earthy and easily expands in the mouth with a slightly heady aftertaste. With air there are darker, ethereal flavors in the aftertaste along with some fine youthful tannins and sweet spice. Nice. *** Now-2017.
These two selections from Michel Gassier recently hit the shelves at MacArthur Beverages. Tasted over two nights they both are young wines which represent good value for the money. The Nostre Pais Blanc shows more complexity right now and though rugged from youth, it is still attractive. There is obviously a lot going on but it never hits you over the head, you realize it more as an afterthought. The Nostre Pais Rouge is a bit more primary and structured. It will really benefit from cellaring. I am interested in trying both bottles again, they certainly received a lot of favorable reviews in the press, but if I must only recommend one then seek out the Nostre Pais Blanc. The Rouge is currently available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Michel Gassier, Nostre Pais, Blanc, Costieres de Nimes – $17
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier sourced from old vines on soils of rolled pebbles and red clay. Half was fermented in barrels followed by six months of aging on the lees. Alcohol 14%. The color was a light to medium golden-yellow. The light to medium strength nose revealed a yellow citrus core with complex floral aromas and almost Riesling-like fruit. In the mouth the mouthfeel was not quite smooth. There was barrel-like youth to the white, floral fruit which mixed with lemon notes. It has a rough and tumble personality in the finish due to youth. The wine was certainly mouth-filling with a long aftertaste which leaves acidity in the throat. There is a lot of flavor but it is never heavy. *** 2015-2022.
2010 Michel Gassier, Nostre Pais, Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $17
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 30% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah sourced from old vines on soils of rolled pebbles and red clay. It underwent malolactic fermentation with 50% aged for six months on the lees in French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose is light with a little red candy. In the mouth there is bright red fruit which initially shows a lot of power with lots of flavor. The complexity slowly builds in the mouth. There is some heat in the finish where there are sweetish tannins on the lips, flavors of cinnamon, and barrel notes. On the second day this showed better integration with air. *** 2016-2022
Chateau Pesquie is located in Ventoux which is a large appellation at the south-east end of the Rhone region. The appellation is named after the 2000 meter Mount Ventoux. The vineyards at Chateau Pesquie experience plenty of dry sunshine, are buffeted by the Mistral, and have cool evenings and winters due to the mountain.
Vines have been cultivated at the estate since the Roman times. The chateau itself with its trees which line the driveway date back to the 1750s. The modern origins of the winery trace back to the 1970s when Odette and Rene Bastide bought Chateau Pesquie. They planted new vineyards but also kept some existing parcels. Today the estate is run by grandchildren Alexandre and Frederic along with their cousin Renaud. The use only organic, humus-based fertilizers. They mechanically plow between rows to maintain weeds though one out of two rows is enherbé or grassed. The majority of harvesting is performed mechanically with their own machine which has an integrated selector. This allows them to immediately process a mature parcel very early in the morning or late at night when it is cool and dark. Fermentation typically occurs in stainless steel with a good portion of the wines aged in cement. They use a combination of indigenous and inoculated yeasts.
The last vintage I have tasted from Chateau Pesquie is the 2007 Quintessence. That was one year ago (you may find my post here). It was a wine I enjoyed very much thus promptly purchased several more bottles. The 2011 Terrasses and the 2010 Quintessence showed up at MacArthur Beverages a few weeks ago. This week we tasted both of these wines over two nights without any Private Preserve. Frédéric states that both the 2010 and 2011 vintages were very good in the Ventoux area. While they have similar color and concentration the 2010 has a little more tannins. He finds the 2011 rounder and more enjoyable to drink young with the 2010 having a longer aging potential.
Terrasses is a blend of various terroirs with soils of mostly limestone but also of clay and sand. The parcels are on the lower slopes of Mount Ventoux so they are on hillsides of at the foot with some shape. They lie at altitudes of 250-350 meters. The vines used for Terrasses are 25 years of age. The 2011 Terrasses changed a lot of the course of one evening and into the second. It started off bright, tart, and leaner with a particular enthusiasm but on the second night it had put on flesh and weight as if it had passed through its teenage years. There is a lot going on, particularly at this price. It is certainly worth a purchase. If you try it then double-decant it three hours ahead or better yet, wait a year or two.
The vines used for Quintessence are at similar altitudes as the Terrasses but are 40-50 years old. Most of the vines around 40 years of age were planted by Odette and Rene with the older vines already in existence. The lower yield of these vines result in great concentration. The 2010 Quintessence fools you by making you think you should drink it young. There are attractive dark, dense flavors with Christmas spices and a savory quality. But this wine barely budged over two night so I would personally recommend cellaring it for five years. Many thanks to Frédéric Chaudière for answering my questions and providing the images. These wines were purchased from MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Ventoux – $13
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selections. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah (with bits of Carignan and Cinsault) sourced hillside vines at 300 meters. Maceration lasts 15 days followed by aging for one year in 35% in 2-4 year old oak barrels and tanks. Alcohol 14.5%. The light nose is of red fruit mixed with herbs and yeasty red fruit. With air bright and powdery red fruit develops with a textured quality. In the mouth the wine starts off lighter with tart red fruit mixed with plenty of acidity. With air the wine puts on weight and fleshes out showing black fruit acidity and integrated tannins. The flavors are lively on the tongue and there is a little yeasty note. *** 2014-2019.
2010 Chateau Pesquie, Quintessence, Ventoux – $22
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache (40-50 years old) sourced from vines at 230-260 meters on soils of sand and pebbles on clay and limestone. Maceration lasts three weeks followed by aging for one year in 60% new and 40% one to two-year old oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color is a medium+ ruby garnet. The light to medium strength nose bears dense aromas which lurk, waiting for age. In the mouth this wine is savory with heavy flavors, Christmas spice custard, and soft, dark notes. This is a bigger wine which starts supple but a chassis-like supporting structure comes out. Towards the finish it becomes a little inky with some spicy red fruit, rather fine drying tannins, and some warmth in the aftertaste. ***(*) Now-2025.
There are several wines from the Balkan Wine Project featured at MacArthur Beverages. I was already familiar with Stobi Winery in the Republic of Macedonia so I grabbed the latest vintage of the indigenous Vranec. At $10 this is a well made wine which should appeal to many. This particular bottling of Vranec sports black fruit but is made in a modern style with tame tannins. I would give it a bit of air before drinking.
Winery Milijan Jelic was a new winery for me. Founded one decade ago the winery farms some 20 hectares of vines much of which are international varietals like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. However there are some indigenous varietals including Morava. This varietal was created by Dr. Petar Cindic and Dr. Vlada Kovac of Novi Sad University and is less susceptible to cold temperatures. The vineyards in the Valjevo experience low temperatures almost down to -30 C. With this new Morava varietals no treatments are required to protect it. To give you a sense of how new this is the first commercially released wine was from the 2005 vintage. Today Winery Milijan Jelic is unique in that is produces wine from some 10 hectares. Many thanks to Dragana Milosavljevic for answering my questions. This is the more interesting and expensive of the two bottles. It drank well over five nights (there are so many wines to taste these days) so I would buy two bottles: one to serve blind to your friends and another to try in a year or two. To find these wines check out the newly added Other Regions page at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Winery Milijan Jelic, Morava, Pocerina, Serbia – $24
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Morava which was matured in stainless steel tank. Alcohol 14.5%. The color is a very light copper straw. The light to medium strength nose steps out with Muscat, tea, floral, and ripe fruit aromas. It remains strong after several days. The mouth follows the nose but is a bit fuller. There is lively fruit on the tongue from the acidity then drier flavors in the finish where there are chalky minerals. The long aftertaste brings more dried herbs with air. There is a lot of presence. *** Now-2017.
2011 Stobi Winery, Vranec, Traditional, Tikves, Republic of Macedonia – $10
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Vranec which was aged for eight months in 1,000 and 2,500 L French oak casks. Alcohol 13.5%. The color is a medium purple cherry. The nose is light with a little vanilla cream and holiday-spiced berries. In the mouth the wine is a touch smooth with high-toned black fruit and some concentration towards the finish. There is acidity, focused flavors, and a delicate powdery flavor. With air some tartness develops. This well made wine tasted young and modern. ** Now-2017.
This past weekend a small group of us gathered for a wine tasting and dinner at Lou’s house. There was no set theme this time but it did not take us long to figure out our contributions. Jenn particularly liked the 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser we recently tasted so she suggested we bring that and another Balkan wine. So I added in the 2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa and 2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar to round things out. With two wines from Serbia and one from Lebanon we were sure to shake things up.
We started with the Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut so I did not bother to take a note. The second wine, Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres was flawed. With the Domaine des Baumard flawed Lou quickly returned with a replacement. I was stumped and kept thinking it was some weird white wine from Pennsylvania. The wine was revealed to be Hard Cider from Maryland! Upon revisiting I could get the apple skins. With such a twist it was already a fun tasting!
We then moved downstairs into the tasting room to taste through the five red wines. The first wine was immediately obvious to me (having recently tasted it) as the Agrina, Portuguiser. It was a polarizing wine with half of us loving it and the other half not. The Paveil de Luze showed quite well at first with classic wood box aromas. It was less opulent than other 2009s and has a structure that will allow it to benefit from cellaring. The Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa is still young with a core of fruit that is still tight with tannins to match. The flavors are good but I would be inclined to cellar this as well. The Domaine Saint Damien was lovely, captivated everyone right away, and was the first to be finished. It continued to develop over the evening with intact bottles likely to do so for several years. It is a treat now but I would wait five years. The Chateau Musar, Hochar developed over the evening in fits and starts. I initially thought it quite soft and a bit disappointing so I rated it two stars. Upon revisiting it had fleshed out becoming enlivened by its acidity. On the second night, without any gas, it drank great. Who knows, this wacky wine might outlive all of the others. Jenn and I were getting ready to take off so I only briefly tasted the Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux. Lou continued the cider theme by producing a vintage bottle of Ice Cider from Quebec! Take my note and rating for what its worth and certainly do not expect to switch your Sauternes with Ice Cider. But if you like Cider and apples this is pretty cool stuff. I can almost imagine why fruit wines were so popular centuries ago. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions and to Lou for both hosting and pulling out interesting drinks.
Lou double-decanted the Domaine Saint Damien one and a half hours before the tasting. I double-decanted the Vino Budimir and Chateau Musar one hour prior with the Agrina just half an hour. Everything else was opened shortly before tasting. All beverages were served blind except for the Domaine Cordiere Pere et Fils and the Domaine Lafrance. Please find my notes below in the order tasted.
2005 Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light yellow straw. There was a stinky, foxy nose,….bad yuck. Flawed.
NV Distillery Lane Ciderworks, The Jefferson Hard Cider, Maryland
This cider is made from pressed Newtown Pippins which were aged in American oak. Alcohol 7.3%. The color was a light golden-yellow, a touch cloudy. The medium strength nose revealed dried apricot, sweeter aromas, and floral hints. In the mouth the flavors were much drier and lighter, with a hint of citrus. It started off lively then faded towards the finish. After the reveal I picked up apple skin on the nose. * Now.
2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Portuguiser. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium ruby. The light to medium nose was scented with berry-liscious aromas. In the mouth this wine offered up bright, concentrated flavors of berries, some tartness, and lifted perfume. Very fruit driven. *** Now-2014.
2009 Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was light to medium grapey ruby. The nose was Bordeaux like with black red fruit, wood box, and a little texture. In the mouth the flavors were savory, a little lighter than the nose indicated, and focused. There were tart black fruits, minerals, wood box, and acidity from the start. This was nice with integrated tannins and flavors that, with air, became drier. I would cellar it a few years. On the second night the nose was higher toned with tart black fruit in the mouth, a dry quality…basically shutdown, needs some age. *** 2015-2025.
2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa, Zupa, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 60% Prokupac and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. The Prokupac was aged for three years in 3000 L oak casks and the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was medium garnet. The light, tight nose bore interesting aromas which I could not describe. In the mouth there was ripe, focused fruit, a little spicy, and the impression of a young wine. The core of fruit was a bit wound up but still had a lifted quality before the flavors dried and faded a little bit. This was grapey with ripe tannins, and brighter, powdery red fruit in the finish and a racy, black aftertaste. On the second night the nose was very grapey. The mouth still had good ripe, concentrated fruit but the tannins structure stepped up. *** 2014-2022.
2006 Domaine Saint Damien, Cuvee La Louisane, Gigondas
Imported by Premier Cru. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache (planted in 1942), 15% Mourvedre (planted in 1977), and 5% Cinsault (planted in 1951) and Syrah sourced from parcels on the mid-hills at La Louisiane. It was fermented for six weeks in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color was light to medium ruby garnet. The nose was light with black-red fruit, a touch of sweet vanilla, and with air it reminded me of Bordeaux. In the mouth there was ripe, concentrated fruit, lifted minerally flavors, tannins, and enjoyable texture. Simply a really nice wine to drink with great potential. ***(*) Now-2027.
2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar, Bekaa Valley
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak barrels for nine months. Alcohol 13.5% The color was light garnet. The medium strength nose revealed minerally black, sweet fruit; generally nice nose with older notes. In the mouth there was red fruit and maple, soft in feel with acidity towards the end. There was some complexity but softness prevailed before an aftertaste with a little firmness. Upon revisiting the wine had fleshed out with air to become quite lively and fuller. On the second night the nose was still smelling good with vintage cherry candy. In the mouth there was dark red fruit with a similar vintage perfume note, black and red fruit, acidity which mixed with black fruit followed by interesting tannins. *** Now-2017 (perhaps longer).
2010 Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux, Saint Veran
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light golden straw. The medium strength nose reminded me of masa. The mouth followed the nose with moderate mouthfeel, good weight, and a sense of richness. Uniquely enjoyable. Not Rated.
2007 Domaine Lafrance, Cuvee Speciale, Ice Cider Quebec – (200mL)
From apples harvested in January which are then fermented in vat. It takes 60 apples to produce 375mL. Alcohol 10.5%. The color was a very light golden amber. The medium strength nose revealed potpourri, old perfume, and some aromas not encountered before. In the mouth this medium bodied cider bore similar flavors with tart fruit, apple acidity, and plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. Showed better integration on the third night with almost syrupy body that made way to tart fruit and integrated acidity. ***?? Now-??.
This interesting Petillant Blanc is produced by Marie Thibault-Cabrit. After studying plant biology and oenology she worked a year in South Africa, a year in Switzerland then several with Francois Chidaine. She began leasing vines in Touraine at Azay-le-Rideau and Lignieres de Touraine in 2010. She produces wine from some 2.5 hectares of vines which average 50 years of age. These vineyards contain Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Grolleau, Cot, and Gamay. They were converted to organic in 2011. The soils are hilly with sandy loam soil and large flint limestone bedrock. She hand harvests her fruit and uses only indigenous yeasts. I rather enjoyed this bottle and if you are adventurous, I suggest you give it a try. There was a very strong grilled bread aroma which strangely, given Jenn’s love of bread and bubbles, did not appeal to her. You can tell this is produced from good fruit for the complexity comes with a sense of ease. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Domaine Marie Thibault-Cabrit, la roue qui tourne – $22
Imported by Williams Corner Wine. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from 30-50 year old vines at Azay-le-Rideau which was fermented in new oak barrels then drawn into bottles. At the end of alcoholic and malolactic fermentation it was bled to lower pressure. RS 11-14 g/L, Alcohol 12.5%. Tried over three nights the color is a light to medium golden-yellow. The initial nose is of grilled bread and yeast. In the mouth there is initial acidity on the sides of the tongue followed by fine, firmly popping bubbles then a fine mousse. Stone flavors come out as fine yellow, spiced fruit mixes with yeast and a touch of apple flavors. There wine is expansive with good complexity and long aftertaste. *** Now-2017.
We have been drinking this wine a lot lately which is cool being the first Cremant du Jura I have tried. I first brought a bottle to a birthday celebration which was promptly finished before I could take a note. A week later I brought more to our Thanksgiving dinner and managed to take a note from the last glass. Mostly recently Lou served this at his house. I have found that both beer and wine drinkers enjoy this. I believe this is a fairly new selection at Neal Rosenthal, I see nothing on the website, so I do not know much about it. Domaine Overnoy-Crinquad is a five hectare estate in Pupillin which has operated organically since 1970. Apparently there is no relationship with Maison Pierre Overnoy. I will update this post with any additional information, in the mean time I suggest you grab a bottle to try. I think it appropriate for large holiday gatherings or a quiet evening by the fire. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
NV Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut, Cremant du Jura – $25
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. Alcohol 11.5%. The color is a medium copper-rose. There is a lighter nose followed by a mouth with an initial burst of acidity then immediate hard bubbles which dissipate into a fine mousse. A textured wine is revealed with earthy red fruit, evocative of an aged Bordeaux, somewhat ripe, red floral fruit, then a yeasty hint. The flavors become sweeter towards the finish in this ultimately satisfying wine. *** Now-2017.