Archive for February, 2013

Old and New from le Clos du Caillou

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Both of these wines are produced by the le Clos du Caillou domaine owned by the Pouizin-Vacheron family. The name of the Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape wines differ not due to a naming hierarchy but rather history. Back in the 1930s the former estate Le Clos was a hunting lodge. The owner refused to allow court-appointed officials on to the estate who were setting out the boundaries of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. As a result much of the property is still classified as Cotes du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Villages and is in an actual clos or walled vineyard. In 1956 the Pouizin family acquired the lodge, cleared the woodlands, and planted vineyards. These vines are amazingly 500 meters from Chateau Rayas. Wine produced from the 44 hectares of Cotes du Rhone vineyards are thus named le Clos du Caillou whereas wine from the 9 hectares of Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards are named Domaine du Caillou. In 1995 Claude Pouizin’s daughter Sylvie and her husband Jean-Denis Vacheron took over the estate. Jean-Denis tragically died in 2001 so Sylvia continued to produce wine with the previously hired consulting oenologist Philippe Cambie. The Cuvee Reserve was first produced in 1998 and includes Grenache from Le Guigasse planted in 1930 and Syrah from Les Bedines planted in 1939. The Cuvee Unique refers to the fact it was barrel selected by North Berkeley Imports.

It might be a romantic suggestion to link the profiles of these two wines together for the aromas were scented, the flavors a bit firm, and though fuller bodied, they are not overbearing. They are both good wines for the money, just decide if you want a young wine or an old wine. The Bouquet des Garrigues is a new arrival whereas the Cuvee Unique was purchased from a private cellar. These bottles were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 le Clos du Caillou, Bouquet des Garrigues, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Carignan, Mourvedre, and Cinsault sourced from a majority of vines over 50 years of age. It was fermented in concrete vats followed by 16 months of aging in used oak casks. Alcohol 14.5%. The color was a light to medium grapey purple. The nose is lovely with fresh red berries and floral aromas. In the mouth the fresh berry fruit follows the nose but turns blacker and firmer with air. There was some watering acidity and fine drying tannins in the finish. Hard acidity came out in the aftertaste along with violets and a racy aspect. *** Now-2018.


1998 Domaine du Caillou, Vieilles Vignes, Cuvee Reserve, Cuvee Unique, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
Imported by North Berkeley Imports. This cuvee is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, and 20%Syrah which saw extensive time on the skins followed by aging in foudres. This selection was barrel selected by the importer. Alcohol 14%. The nose was blacker with scented aromas of roast earth and Kirsch. The mouth follows the nose with chiseled fruit. The flavors are stone-like ungiving but with air they become gently expansive in the mouth taking on some ripeness and a hard wood note. Jenn found coffee amongst the dark flavors. There acidity is good and there are some astringent tannins in the aftertaste. *** Now-2028.


We Try An Old Chateauneuf du Pape

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Phil recently put out several bottles of old Chateauneuf du Pape which have been lurking in the store since release.  I had never heard of Le Boucou but according to Livingstone-Learmonth Le Boucou was a member of Les Reflets.  This was an association of growers who bottled and stored their wine in the same facility.  Some of the other members included Les Cailloux, Domaine de la Solitude, Domaine Chante-Perdrix, and Clos du Mont-Olivet.  This wine was made from fruit sourced from a single 10 acre parcel named Le Boucou.  The wines were traditionally made with no destemming.  Robert Girard produced this Cuvee du Belvedere and his brother Andre Girard produced cuvee Lou Patacaiau.  Today the son of Andre, Jacque Girard produces wine under the name Domaine Les Girard du Boucou.

I let the wine rest overnight before I opened it.  There was a decent amount of sediment so I decided to decant the wine then immediately tasted it.  We pronounced this bottle as sound and followed it over the course of one hour or two.  Half expecting it to crack up it actually developed over the first hour.  In 1992 Michael Dresser wrote about some of the best 1989 Chateauneuf du Pape gems in The Baltimore Sun. Of the Le Boucou he wrote, “A big, rich wine with a seductively supple and silky texture and intense pepper and earth flavors.  There’s enough backbone to last a decade, but it’s so delicious now you might as well just drink it.  A great value.”  Three years later Robert Parker’s tasting note comments, “As most of Girard’s Chateauneuf’s tend to be, the wine is gorgeously fruity and up front at the moment, giving the mistaken impression that it will not last.”   This is a pleasing, fully mature wine, which will certainly last a number of years.  While it does not provide a moving experience, it certainly is satisfying to drink such a great vintage at such a price.  I get excited by drinking an older vintage and love that such bottles keep popping up at the store.   I would suggest decanting the bottle then monitoring it over the first hour then start drinking once it has opened up.This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

I should also comment that I got to partake of some hospitality in the form of a dessert.  Phil’s wife baked lovely chocolate and salt cookies.  She managed to balance the crisp exterior, density of the interior, and a perfect salty balance such that one could taste a wine afterwards.  In no way did it influence my tasting note.


1989 Le Boucou, Cuvee du Belvedere, Chateauneuf du Pape – $25
Imported by Wines of France.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 155 Counoise, and 5% Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It was fermented then aged for 12-20 months in tank.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light garnet with a cherry core.  The light nose was mature with roast earth and eventually revealed tobacco and strawberry.  In the mouth there was focused red fruit, acidity, a touch of acidity, and a generally autumnal nature.  It was a little expansive in the finish where fine, ripe tannins came out.  The aftertaste was lifted.  ** Now.


A Surprising Number of Wines at Shane’s House

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

This past weekend we attended a class fundraiser at our neighbor Shane’s house.  The goal was to raise funds for a French Immersion class trip to Montreal.  The event was hosted by Shane, Denise, Scott, and Jennifer.  Shane works for Bacchus Importers and Scott works for Monument Fine Wines so I knew it would be a fun evening.  Throughout the house were tables representing a particular region of French.  Each table had several wines and dishes from that region.  There was quite a diverse set of wine so I did my best to taste through a variety and jot down some simple notes.


Providing enough sparkling wine for everybody is a tough job but the NV Charles de Fere, Reserve Rose Dry is always a great choice.  It is an interesting blend of Gamay, Cinsault, and Cabernet from the Loire and Sciacarellu from Corsica!  I thought this bottle showed an entry of ripe fruit and rather fine bubbles which softly dissipate into a short mousse.  There was citric acidity and drying flavors.  The 2010 Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rose Premium Millesime, Saumur is a blend of most Cabernet Franc and Grolleau.  I am not aware of drinking Grolleau before.  This bottle had firmer bubbles which made a nice mousse, drier fruit, then white citrus fruit, and a tangy finish.


Next I skipped over to the white Burgundies by starting with the 2011 Bastion de L’Oratoire Chanson, Vire-Cleese. This wine imported by Terlato is 100% Chardonnay which is vinified in vat and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It had  a light nose of white and ripe floral fruit, honeysuckle like.  In the mouth the whiter fruit had some tropical ripeness and grip.


The  2011 J. M. Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru, imported by Vineyard Brands, stepped things up.  There was a light nose of good fruit, nutmeg, with more depth.  The flavors followed the nose and were lithe, focused and young with lively acidity.


Of the 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux I thought a La Grange de Clinet decent but the Tuscan 2006 Tenuta di Arceno, Prima Voce, Toscana IGT from magnum, the best Bordeaux blend.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah which was aged for 12 months in French oak.  There were maturing Merlot and Cabernet notes on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were structured but with good balance.  It took on black fruit, black minerally depth, and will certainly age.  Tasted blind I might not pick it out at Tuscan but it was certainly a good drink and reasonably priced.


The Rhone wines were decent but I thought the Languedoc-Roussillon selection better.  For old-vine Carignan the 2007 Domaine de la Bouysse, Mazerac, Corbieres Boutenanc, made from 105 year old Carignan along with Grenache and Mourvedre, is pretty and approachable but will benefit from age.  I thought the 2011 Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, was lighter and simpler with its bright red fruit.  I am usually a fan of this wine.  The 2010 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres the best of the three.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan from 15-60 year old vines on soils of schiste.  It had rich flavors, depth, and was not overbearing.


The 2007 Domaine Maorou, Red Wine, VdP Hauterive is a blend of 36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, and 30% Grenache.  It showed more maturity than the previous three wines along with good fruit, dried herbs, and some ruggedness.  I did not get to revisit it.


David McIntyre brought a selection of wines so of course I had to tuck into those as well.  The 2007 Potel-Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie did not show much.  The tight nose was followed by tight red black fruit in the mouth, just a touch of weight, and fine, dusty tannins.  Perhaps it needed some air.


More interesting was the 2006 Domaine Billard Pere et Fils, La Combe Basin, Saint-Romain Blanc.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the lieu dit La Combe Bazin. The wine is barrel fermented in 25% new French oak and aged sur lie for 12 months.  It had a light nose of mature aromas and gravelly yellow fruit.  It was tight in the mouth with gravelly, controlled flavors, fresh acidity in the finish, some tannins, and an orange peel note.  Nice.


Back to the reds was the 2006 Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent from Louis Jadot.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from granite soils and aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  What a lovely example of maturing Gamay.  It is still confident and has concentration for many more years of development.  A good surprise.


Finally, a lovely treat was the 1988 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes that Shane found in his cabinet.  Maturing in a sense but not too complex yet with focus and acidity to last for a number of years to come.  Has drier flavors.

Trepat, Fer Servadou, and Pinotage

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Here are three more notes which have been languishing.  The most interesting wine was from Domaine Plageoles in Gaillac.  It is made from the South West varietal Fer Servadou which I also encountered in the 2008 Domaine du Cros, Marcillac.  My notes on these two wines show similarities so I suggest you try either bottle.  The Domaine Foraster is of interest because it is made from Trepat which is typically used in sparkling wine production.  Lastly, the Kanonkop  is a decant Bordeaux blend with a South African Pinotage twist.   Make sure you decant it ahead of time or you will be disappointed.  These wines were purchased at Chambers Street Wines and MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Domaine Plageoles, Braucol, Gaillac – around $22
Imported by Jenny & Francois.  This wine is 100% Fer Servadou sourced from vines planted in the 1990s.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose is of light pepper and red fruit.  In the mouth the red fruit and pepper have a gentle weight before the flavors become tart and end with some ripeness.  The acidity is watering.  There is, perhaps, a greenhouse note.  A good, complete wine.  *** Now.


2010 Mas Foraster, Josep Foraster, Trepat, Conca de Barbera – around $20
Imported by T. Edwards Wine.  This wine is 100% Trepat which is aged for five months in French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light cherry garnet.  The light nose was lifted with aromas of grapefruit and pepper.  In the mouth the bright red fruit was clean with peppery fruit, lots of acidity then a powdery perfumed aftertaste. This light bodied wine is for drinking now.  ** Now.


2010 Kanonkop, Kadette, Stellenbosch – $13
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is a blend of 44% Pinotage, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc sourced from 5-30 year old vines.  It fermented in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The light to medium nose reveals smoky meat.  In the mouth there is bright tart fruit which mixes with smoky red fruit.  The tart, young fruit puts on some weight with air and takes on blacker, red fruit in the finish.  There is a greenhouse note and a tiny bit of juicy acidity.  This South African claret blend needs an hour of air to show its forward side.  ** Now-2018.


Three, No Six, Wait…Nine wines from Spain

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

We have tasted these nine Spanish wines over the past two months.  Except for the 2007 Casta Castillo, Valtosca at $26 all of these wines cost between $10 and $18. At the inexpensive end the 2011 Zestos, Old Vine Garnacha for $10 and the 2011 Leceranas, Monte La Sarda for $12.50 offer good flavor for the price.  Both are high-altitude, old-vine Grenache.  The 2010 Breca, Garnacha offers up a lot of deep flavor but also alcohol as well.  I kept wanting to like it more but could not.  At the more intellectual end the 2009 Tampesta, Fina los Vientos is made from 100% Prieto Picudo.  This varietal appears to get some bad press but I thought this a decent wine.  I got the impression it should open up with a little bit of bottle age.  By the way, it is imported by Peninsula Wines which according to the website import wine “made from single-vineyard, unknown varieties and up-and-coming wine regions.”  This is another label of Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata of OLE Imports.  Next up the 2010 Joan d’Anguera, Garnatxa and 2007 Casa Castilla , Valtosca are nice wines.  The Joan d’Anguera is a pure, clean wine which sees no oak whereas the Casa Castilla wears its new oak well.  My favorite of the lot was the 2010 Monasterio de Corias, Seis Octavos.  It is Mencia with a twist since it also include Carrasquen and Verdejo Negro.  It is also from Asturias where there are only a handful of producers.   These wines were purchased at Despana Vinos y Mas and MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Joan d’Anguera, Garnatxa, Montsant – $15
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is 100% Garnatxa sourced from 15 year old vines on chalky soils at 250 meters.  It was fermented in stainless steel then bottled without aging.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of cranberry and cherry.  In the mouth the fresh fruit follows the nose but with a little weight.  There was integrated acidity, which was a little juicy in the finish.  The black and red fruit became a touch ripe with air.  A clean, pure wine.  *** Now-2016.


2010 Bodegas Breca, Garnacha, Calatayud – $13
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines planted between 1925 and 1945.  It was aged for 21 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The nose revealed smoky fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were smooth at first with cool blue fruit then they burst in the mouth with blue and black flavors.  There were some minerals and quite frankly, a lot going on.  There were powerful tannins in the finish which coat the inside of the lips.  You can feel the heat in the back of the throat as cinnamon spice came out in the aftertaste.  Make sure to drink this cool.  ** Now-2014.


2007 Casa Castillo, Valtosca, Jumilla – $26
Imported by Eric Solomon.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 22-year-old vines at the Valtosca vineyard. The soils are sandy and at 750 meters.  It was aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.  The color was a medium+ black cherry.  The light nose revealed sweet spiced vanilla, blue fruit, along with low-lying darker aromas.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with darker black fruit and minerals followed by textured tannins in the finish.  The aftertaste had good acidity.  *** Now-2020.


2010 Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, Seis Octavos, Calidad de Cangas, Asturias – $18
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Vinos & Gourmet.  This wine is a blend of Carrasquen, Verdejo Negro, and Mencia.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light and delicate with spiced, fresh berries.  In the mouth the somewhat tart red fruit was integrated with the acidity and tickles the tip of the tongue.  There were black and red fruit in the middle becoming juicy towards the finish.  There were minimal spiced tannins which became grapey and a touch citric.  There was red fruit and some pepper notes in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.


2011 Bodegas Leceranas, Monte La Sarda, Vieilles Vignes, Tierra del Baja Aragon – $12.50
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 50+ year old vines located at 500-600 meters.  It was fermented then underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  The light+ nose revealed plummy red fruit and ripeness.  In the mouth there were raspberry fruits, spices, minimal tannins, and a focused finish.  ** Now-2014.


2009 Soligamar, Crianza, Rioja – $17
Imported by C+P Wines.  This wine is 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light to medium grapey garnet.  The light nose revealed plummy, balsamic aromas of dark red fruit.  In the mouth there were medium weight red fruit which followed the nose.  Then black red fruit, a clean modern aspect, soft expansiveness, and a drying finish with textured tannins.  ** Now-2015.


2009 Tampesta, Finca los Vientos, Tierra de Leon – $15
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Prieto Picudo sourced from vines on soils of clay at 730 meters.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium ruby garnet.  The nose revealed fresh blue black fruit and was almost yeasty.  In the mouth the flavors were tighter with lighter body and blacker fruit.  There was a dry structure and lighter weight flavors towards the finish.  There was a red tingle.  Almost tastes like it was co-fermented with white fruit but it isn’t.  Black minerals come out with air.  **(*) 2014-2018.


2010 Traslascuestas, Roble, Ribera Del Duero – $15
Imported by Moonlight Wine.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for six months in American and French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium purple ruby.  The light nose bore vanilla and blue fruit then it became a little pungent or perhaps assertive with aromas of spice.  In the mouth there was dry, blacker fruit, dry tannins, a wood note, and almost tastes like it should be hot.  But the flavors were clean with some density, and good acidity.  The finish revealed more black fruit and a little, powdery tannins.  ** Now-2017.


2011 Zestos, Old Vine Garnacha, Vinos de Madrid – $10
Imported by OLE.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 40-50 year old vines at 870 meters.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was fresh with berries and fresh herbs, along with tart, black fruit.  In the mouth it was a little powdery, showing some young tartness, tang, and a little [can’t read my handwriting].  Easy to drink and well done for the price.  ** Now-2016.


Dessert Wine From Australia

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I am working on my most involving historical post yet. While I am having great fun researching, reading, and analyzing I am spending a significant amount of time on this post. So I need to publish a number of simpler tasting note posts. Tasting note posts do not always make the most compelling of reads but hopefully this may be mitigated by including some interesting wines. In this case a recently drunk 1998 Elderton, Golden Semillon. I took a chance because my friend William introduced me to Elderton, Command Shiraz many years ago so I have thought it a traditional winery. If you like apple cider than just buy a bottle of the Golden Semillon. Once opened it drinks well for quite some time. I had a glass after I returned from Mondovino 2013 and it was therapy for my tongue. On the other spectrum, the 1995 Peter Lehmann, Vintage Port would be a decent wine if you could remove the spearmint aroma and flavor. Tasted eight days after I opened the bottle, with a partially shoved in cork, the spearmint bit was fading and a brighter red berry note developing. Perhaps this needs a two-week decant. A better option is to skip the gamble and buy the Elderton. These wines were purchased at Wide World of Wines.


1998 Elderton, Golden Semillon, South Eastern Australia – $20 (375 mL)
Imported by the Australian Premium Wine Collection. This wine is 100% Semillon. Alcohol 11%. The color is a golden caramel but not like a suspiciously dark Sauternes. The nose revealed ripe, fallen orchard fruit then apricots. In the mouth there was apple-like notes, tangy acidity, and not too much residual sugar which was well integrated. This moderate weight wine has flavors on the edge of the tongue with grip and spiced apple notes. The weight from the residual sugar is kept alive by acidity throughout. The finish brings fresh apple cider and wood box notes. Lovely. **** Now-2023.


1995 Peter Lehmann, Bin AD 2016, Vintage Port, Barossa – $20
Imported by Appalachian Imports. This wine is 100% Shiraz. Alcohol 20%. The light to medium nose was fresh with spearmint and ultimately odd. In the mouth there was ripe and sweet red fruit, residual sugar, and a little spice. The spearmint flavors came out, which just wasn’t my style. There were still tannins, decant acidity, and a fresh aftertaste. Quite frankly it was just odd. * Now-2033.


Really Good Aglianico del Vulture

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick post as I recover from the massive array of notes taken during Mondovino 2013.  I grabbed this bottle of Basilisco because it was 15 years old and the wines I have tasted from Aglianico del Vulture have been capable of aging.  Though Basilisco was only founded in 1992 the winery dates back to the fifteenth century when the cellar was dug out of the volcanic tufa.  Two wines are produced from the 20 hectares of vines on the hillsides of Mount Vulture where the vines are located between 300 and 500 meters in elevation.  This wine is young, surprisingly so.  It was a bit robust at first but with several hours of air it became quite good and expressed its future potential.  I recommend you buy a few bottles for the cellar.  Many thanks  to John Fusciello and Julia Schwende for helping me out.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


1998 Azienda Agricola Anna Nigro, Basilisco, Aglianico del Vulture – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  This wine is 100% Aglianico which was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12-18 months in used French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium garnet.  The medium strength nose was pungent with roast earth and dusty, tart berries.  In the mouth there were robust flavors on the front of the tongue with tart red fruit, some wood box, and metallic minerals.  With air the flavors became blacker and seemed chiseled of stone.  Medium textured tannins came out in the drier finish, along with hints of tobacco, orange peel, and vanilla.  ***(*) 2018-2028.


Lou’s Birthday dinner (1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003)

February 22, 2013 3 comments

I just turned 50.  I’ve thought a lot over the past year or so about ways to appropriately celebrate. For the wine part of the celebration I’ve broken it into two parts.  One, a trip to my favorite wine “destination,” Bern’s Steakhouse.  Two, a dinner at home with friends celebrating each decade of my life.  As I was born in 1963, I’ve been gathering wines from 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993 and 2003 that I thought would work well. I had the luck to be born in a great Port year.  In my early 20’s I had occasion to drink Dow, Graham, Taylor and others on multiple occasions.  For my 40th birthday, my wife made sure I had a ’63 Port, but I haven’t had one since.  So the plan for 1963 was easy.  I sourced a 1963 Croft in beautiful condition.  The other years I knew would be more challenging, as not all were great years.  My final lineup:

1963 Croft.  This was bottled by Croft & Co of London and imported by European Wine Resources.  Broadbent said in 1990 ***(*) with a drinking window until 2000 and commented on some bottle variation.


1973 Coutet.  This is an Alexis Lichine Selection imported by Somerset Wine Company.  Not a great vintage.  Broadbent gave the wine ** with a drink soon in 1981, but said “pleasing ripe semillion nose, more power than expected.”


1973 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel. (4% Petite Sirah). A **** vintage in California but I couldn’t find notes on the wine. I’ve had a number of delicious older Ridge Zins over the years, including a very fine 1976 Paso Robles Zin about a year ago that was drinking beautifully.  So, I had high hopes for this wine.


1983 Ridge Dusi Ranch Zinfandel.  (5% Petite Sirah). Again, no notes on this wine, but Broadbent had said about the ’83 Ridge Paso Robles Zin “dry, very flavoury, great length **(**).”  Though a cold, wet vintage I had high hopes for this wine too.

1983 Faivleley Nuits St. Georges les Porets St. George. This was imported by Wines LTD of Silver Spring, MD.  A variable vintage.  I found one passing note on how well Faiveley had done in a somewhat challenging vintage.  So, promising also.


1983 Robert Mondavi Cabernet.  (14% Merlot, 9% Merlot).  From Broadbent: “No sulphur used. In new French oak 24 months. Very spicy, minty, eucalyptus. **(*).


1983 William Hill Gold Label Cabernet. 1.5L. No notes found.  I had very fond memories of the William Hill wines of the 70’s but don’t recall ever having those from the 80’s.  A worthwhile gamble.

1983 Filhot 375ml.  This was imported by Majestic Wine & Spirits.  Aaron picked this up for me at MacArthur Beverages. See his notes from September 2012.


1993 du Glana (St.Julien).  Again, no notes found on this one.  A challenging vintage for red Bordeaux, with St. Julien being weaker than some.  I didn’t hold out lots of hope for this wine.

2003 Diffonty Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Sixtine.  This is a well thought of wine that I’ve enjoyed a couple of times.  I always felt it was rich but had avoided the hot, raisiny quality I’ve had in some ’03 CdP.

Although it didn’t fit the “3” theme, my friend Kate and her husband Matt had a bottle of 1971 Dom Perignon that they found resting quietly on its side in their dark, cool basement still in its original box.  We decided to add that in.  1971 was a very great vintage in Champagne.  Broadbent said of the wine, “twist of lemon and straw nose…distinct sweetness, excellent flavor and considerable length. Refined. Certainly warranting its reputation *****.” Though that note was from 1990, I hoped this would show its brilliance (and I love older Champagne).

Since I was thin on 1993, my friend Jeff brought a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel. A terrific addition to the lineup! Aaron also brought along a couple of surprise bottles: a 2003 Clos St. Jean Combe des Fous and a 1983 Harvey’s Port.  This is actually Martinez Vintage Port bottled for Harvey’s of Bristol and imported by Heublein. See his note from January 2012.

I figured we’d start with a few Champagnes to start, then move through the wines with dinner. It was a crowd of 15 including me and Adrienne.  A big crowd in terms of the pour size (especially as I knew we’d lose some to decanting), but I didn’t want to leave out anybody on the guest list. I had plans to follow the same theme for the background music, but that part didn’t work out as well as I wanted, primarily because I got too caught up with talking, eating and drinking. We got through two Beatles albums from ’63—Please Please Me and With the Beatles.  Next came John Coltrane with Afro Blue Impressions. We did Dixie Chicken from Little Feat for ’73 and I was ready to move on to Quadrophenia, but I got distracted and that was the end of the music.

Aaron and I had decanted all the wines for sediment (except the NSG) about 90 minutes before dinner.  We rinsed out the bottles, poured the wines back in and stuck them in the cellar.


As the guests started arriving, we started with Thibaut-Janisson Brut from Virginia with smoked salmon and mushroom tarts that Adrienne had made. The wine was bright and fresh, and paired well with the food. It paled next to the next wine however, the Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix.  This 100% pinot noir Champagne had a pretty pale orange/pink color. It was big and a little yeasty, with some vague cherry/strawberry notes and a very clean, crisp finish. Next came the Paul Dethune Rose Grand Cru Champagne from Ambonnay (80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay). This was a nice wine, but a little big and clunky next to its predecessor.  It had hints of oxidation, and more rounded fruit.

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We moved on to dinner. Folks were still drinking Champagne as we moved into the first course, a roasted cauliflower soup with Chincoteague oysters, topped off with some sorrel and chive oil. I was having too much fun to pay as much attention as I should have, and the soup was a bit cold by the time we got out all 15 bowls, but was very good nonetheless.

We decanted the Faiveley and decided to pour it with the 73 Ridge.  We poured most of the wines in pairs. The Faiveley NSG was a great start. A very pretty wine, it remained in good shape with tertiary notes of tea and light flowers, some remaining sweet fruit and a long finish.  I wished I had more in my glass.  The 73 Ridge Lytton Springs also showed very well. Although clearly still Zin, it had a Bordeaux like structure with sweet fruit, some cedar notes and nice structure. It was in great shape.

We moved on to a salad of kale, watercress and frisee topped with maple syrup roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, and shaved Parmesan Reggiano.  It was a nice balance of a little sweetness with the bitter greens and the walnut oil vinaigrette.  The 1983 Mondavi Cabernet came next with the 1983 William Hill magnum. We also started on a grilled beef tenderloin that I had marinated in garlic, olive oil, and handfuls of fresh herbs and served with a couple of sauces. Roasted potatoes were a nice accompaniment. The wines started moving more freely at that point, and I started taking less detailed mental notes and went with the flow. The company was great; friends gave me wondeful birthday toasts and everyone seemed to love the wines and food.


My notes on the other wines:

1983 Mondavi Cabernet. This was maybe the weakest wine of the evening. While not over the hill, it was dominated by mint and was a bit one-dimensional.

1983 William Hill Gold Label was the better of the two ’83 Cabs. Very California, but sweet Cabernet fruit obvious with resolved tannins and fair acidity to balance it out.  It has aged well, but is not overly complex.

1983 Ridge Dusi Ranch Zinfandel.  I think not the wine that the 1973 Ridge is. While well preserved, it showed less complexity, but in no way a bad showing.

1993 du Glana St. Julien. This was a real surprise. This was in good shape and showed as a fully mature, well-made Bordeaux. There was a fleeting hint of a strange medicinal quality that blew off in a few minutes.  I thought this wine was a treat and well beyond my expectations.

1993 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape. This showed young. Immediate notes of Brett were followed by iodine and meaty notes.  A really nice wine.

2003 Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve Sixtine. This showed really well, with none of the overripe, roasted notes that I was worried about.  Very well structured, with intense Grenache fruit, firm tannins and lots of complexity.

2003 Clos St. Jean La Combe des Fous.  Another really nice 2003.  This one is begging for more time.  Garrigue, olives, kirsch and a little funk.  Exciting wine.

We moved on to individual olive oil cakes infused with thyme and served with whipped cream and some raspberries.

108 024

1973 Coutet. A very nice wine. Hints of candied orange peel, mature botrytis and a tight acidity. Fully mature but not showing any risk of falling apart. I think Mr. Broadbent got this one wrong.

1983 Filhot (375ml). Consistent with Aaron’s previous note.

1963 Croft Port. The bottle was in great shape with a low neck level fill. I tried to put aside my emotion at tasting a wine about as old as I. It smelled of restrained spirits and some nuttiness and mature port notes.  In the mouth there was remaining fruit with hints of sweetness.  It was a really nice showing.

1983 Harvey’s  Port. A house I’ve not drunk from in Port before.  Very classically styled with lots of time ahead. Nice nose of heady spirits, earth and rich, sweet fruit in the mouth.  Long finish.

By then it was late, and the crowd started to dissipate. Kate and Matt were among the stragglers, so we opened the 1971 Dom. Unfortunately past its prime, it did show hints of what it was.  The bubbles were dissipated.  There was clear oxidation, but an interesting note of hazelnuts and a vague herb note.

An excellent evening and everything I had hoped for !


Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Red Wines

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment


Mid-afternoon we switched from the white wines to the red wines.  We decided to taste wines from Burgundy, Rhone, South Africa, and Spain.  The Burgundy table was crowded but we managed to get a spot.  I thought the #114 2011 Ecard a good, affordable Burgundy for the cellar.  But it was the #115 Thierry Mortet that captivated with good depth and attractive flavors, this will reward cellaring.

When it comes to the Rhone the 2011 vintage brings forth plenty of ripe fruit with fine, powerful tannins.  The #178 Colline St. Jean presented the vintage well and right now is grapey, modern, and tight.  The previous vintage #179 2010 Colline St. Jean seemed young as well but a bottle I drank a few days earlier showed some openness with a good Mourvedre component.  We tasted one Northern Rhone wine the #180 2011 Joel Champet which again proves to be very good, old-school Cote-Rotie.  We recently drank the 2010 vintage and if you like that, you will like the 2011.  If you are going to actually drink anything at Mondovino, drink the Joel Champet.  I would love to see more Northern Rhone wines like this at Mondovino 2014!  In moving to the huge lineup of Alaine Jaume/Grand Veneur wines Christophe Jaume commented that the 2011 vintage was ripe, less masculine, with more alcohol, and fresher flavors.  Perhaps this is best characterized by #173 the 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes which dials in at 16.5% alcohol!  It certainly was a mouthful but has interesting flavors and managed some control.  At the more affordable end the #171 Grand Veneur showed well with the #169 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte showing the best balance and approachfulness.  All of these wines will benefit from cellaring.

Leaving the French wines we moved over to South Africa.  I though the #265 2010 Mullineux, Syrah an interesting and tasty wine that I should like to revisit.  It is appropriately priced.  It was fun to taste #266 2010 Mullineux Granite and Schist.  Though the fruit for each wine is sourced from a different vineyard they are vinified exactly the same.  The Granite showed good freshness and perfume whereas the Schist was denser.  It would be fun to compare these wines after short-term cellaring.  The #269 Keermont is a savory, dense, masculine version of Syrah.

The #300 2009 Mas Sinen had an interesting nose with weight and roundness to the flavors but also lift.  The #304 2009 Pago de Carraovejas is seductive and as Lou put it, tastes expensive.  It certainly is.  Lastly the #241 2003 Romariz Vintage Port is approachable and rich for only ten years of age.

After four hours of tasting our palates were tired and teeth stained purple.  I think it took 24 hours for my tongue and teeth to feel normal.  My only bit advice for those attending next week is to taste the red Rhones last.  I should also comment that the pour sizes are generous.  There was always enough wine for two or three proper mouthfuls.  It only benefits everyone for you get a better sense of the wine.  It does produce a tremendous volume of wine.  This is handled not by spittoons but 40 gallon garbage cans.  I should like to thank Fran Kysela for his generosity with the wine and food,to Jeremy Sutton for all of his answers, and to both for being supportive of this blog.


#113 – 2010 Ecard, Pinot Noir, Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged six months in used oak barrels.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The very light nose was tight with red fruit.  In the mouth there was firm black cherry fruit which became blacker towards the finish where there was citric acidity and a firm finish.

#114 – 2011 Ecard, Savigny le Beaune – $25
This was a rather light cherry grape color.  The light nose was tight but serious.  In the mouth there was firm red cherry and black fruit.  The wine had a stone-like core with fine ripe tannins.  Tight in flavor, young, and in need of cellaring.

#115 – 2010 Domaine Thierry Mortet, Vigne Belle, Gevrey Chambertin – $85
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines 20-40 years old which was fermented and aged in oak.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The light nose was good with aromas of red and black fruit which had depth.  The mouth followed the nose but was drier with rather fine, drying tannins, and black acidity.  Young.  Nice.


#176 – 2011 Chateau de Segries, Cuvee Reservee, Lirac – $23
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan sourced from 40 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ grapey garnet.  The nose was light and tight with firm berry fruit.  The flavors were riper in the mouth with black and red fruit expanding throughout.  The flavors are young with fine, powerful, spicy tannins, and a grapey finish.  The ripeness was controlled by the structure.

#177 – 2011 Henri de Lanzac, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone – $31
This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre sourced from 40 year old vines. It was fermented in concrete vats then aged for nine months in 95% used French oak barrels.  The color was a dark grapey, inky color.  The nose was very light and tight with aromas of macerated berries.  The mouth was similar but very ripe with powerful tannins drying everything in sight.  The finish seemed overripe with alcohol poking through.

#178 – 2011 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry(?).  The light nose was tight with purple and grapey aromas.  There was good fruit in the mouth, again grapey, with a black graphite finish.  This modern styled wine had very fine, powerful tannins.

#179 – 2010 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  In the mouth this bottle showed tight with herbs and pencil lead.

#180 – 2011 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie – $50
The color was a medium dark garnet.  The light nose had good fruit, olives, and other interesting aromas.  There was a soft entry to the fruit which had levity and depth.  There were flavors of smoke and bacon, a good mouthfeel, and black acidity.  There were drying, grapey tannins.  Old-school and lovely.

Christophe Jaume

Christophe Jaume

#164 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is ablend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The color was a medium grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and young.  In the mouth there was a savory start with a good mouthfeel, ripe fruit, spices, and acidity.  Nice fruit, firm drying tannins, and needs age.

#165 – 2011 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqueyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was a darker grapey, garnet.  The flavors were very concentrated with savory pencil lead, some subtly, and fine tannins.

#167 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqeuyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was medium purple garnet.  There were black cherry and grapey flavors which were balanced but potent.  The structure kept it in control.

#168 – 2009 Alain Jaume, Terrasses de Montmirail, Gigondas – $33
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  The nose was light, tight, and earthy.  The flavors were more approachable but lacking a bit of depth.  It left a mouthful of tannins.  Cellar.


2010 Grand Veneur, Roquedon, Lirac
This was a medium grapey garnet.  The flavors tasted a touch mature in this approachable wine.  There was a brambly nature to the purple, grapey fruit.  Decent wine.

#169 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $30
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  The nose revealed good purple, grapey fruit.  The flavors were savory then came grapey fruit, a savory middle, and slightly spicy tannins.  Good wine.

#170 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Vieux Terron, Chateauneuf du Pape – $45
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  The nose was light, tight, and somewhat haunting with more complexity.  In the mouth there was a tangy, citric element to the black fruit.  The flavors were expansive with very fine, powerful tannins, and a young black finish.

#171 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape – $53
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium to dark purple garnet.  The nose was light and grapey.  There was a seductive start, savory fruit, and low lying, good weight.  Vintage perfume came out in the in the finish.  Well done, nice wine.

#172 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ purple garnet.  The light nose was ripe and dense.  In the mouth there was very ripe, soft fruit, some heat, spicy tannins, and lots of power.

#173 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $121
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-100+ year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 16.5%.  the color was a medium+ dark garnet purple.  In the mouth the fine flavors were almost racy with vanilla, weight, a young aspect, minerals in the core.  It showed more control than Les Origines.   One to watch.

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

#265 – 2010 Mullineux, Syrah – $33
This wine is 100% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 15% new French oak barrels and foudres.  The color was a medium+ garnet.  In the mouth salty, savory, good fruit was dense with smokey notes.  The flavors became lighter and thinner in the middle but took up on glycerine.  The finish was fresh.  Interesting.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Granite, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 17 year old vineyard on soils of sandy granite with a thick layer of clay. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  Much better than the first bottle.  Though just opened the nose was lifted and perfume.  There was a lightness and savory character with a smoke note and lipstick/perfume.  Well done.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Schist, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 15 year old vineyard. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  A good nose with herbs.  Dense in the mouth, purple, and very balanced all around.

#269 – 2010 Keermont, Syrah, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is 100% Syrah.  The color was very dark.  The nose was tight with grapey fruit.  In the mouth this wine was savory and dense with controlled ripeness.  There was good fruit to this masculine wine.  Nice wine.

#268 – 2009 Keermont, Red Blend, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot. It was aged for 24 months in used oak.  Just opened.  The color was a very dark grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and Claret like.  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon came through with good expansion.  The fruit was light but powerful, perhaps a note of stems.  Young and should develop.


#300 – 2009 Mas Sinen, Petit Mas Sinen, Piorat – $39
This wine underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel then was aged for six months in oak barrels.  This was a very dark grapey purple garnet.  The light nose was of lavendar and dark fruit.  The flavors were roundish in the mouth but not heavy.  It took on flavors of Sweet Tarts with weight and lift before the fine, drying tannins in the finish.  Young.


#304 – 2009 Pago de Carraovejas, El Anejon de la Cuesta de las Liebres, Ribera del Duero – $136
This wine is a blend of 93% Tinto Fion, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Merlot.  This was very dark.  The nose was of dark grapes, roast, and other interesting aromas.  In the mouth there was silky fruit, density, and a savory note but the acidity keeps it alive.  There was a little toast in the spicy finish.  Seductive.

#303 – 2010 Pago de Carraovejas, Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $58
This wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in new and used American and French oak barrels.  This was very dark as well.  The nose was a touch fruitier.  This was a lighter version with a good lifted middle, good flavors but a touch hotter.


#241 – 2003 Romariz, Vintage Port – $64
This was a very dark garnet cherry.  The nose was grapey with dried fruit and raisins.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, spices, good residual sugar, and a wood box finish.  Though young for a Vintage Port it is quite approachable.


#250 – 2005 Riebeek, Cape Vintage – $48
This wine is a blend of Touriga National, Pontac, and Shiraz. Alcohol 18.5%.  The nose had a touch of overripe fruit.  There was a rather sweet start with raisins and ultimately too soft for the acidity.  Solid.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Sparkling Wine, Champagne, and White Wine

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment


After tasting through the sake selection Lou and I took a little break by eating some food. Like last year there was an impressive selection of constantly replenished food. There was plenty of game meat including partridge, pheasant, venison, ostrich, and squirrel. Though the meats were diverse the cheeses alone numbered in the dozens and merited a seven page descriptive handout. The oysters of last year were replaced by a sushi station. There were salads and other sides but I could not help but eat my weight in venison. Fortified, we cleaned up our glasses, drank some water, then set to work on the Champagne and white wines. In addition to the perimeter of tables heavily laden with wine bottles there were a few more tables in the middle of the floor. I think the additional tasting space and reduced number of people made it much easier to taste the wines. Last year there were so many people at the first session that we had to taste several wines in a row then retreat to jot down notes from memory. This year we were always able to get a spot in front of a table, though we did have to wait at times. This meant we were able to taste a single wine, spit, and write down notes without moving.


Of the sparkling wines I thought #370 Charles Duret a good value but it was the #377 Chateau Gaudrelle from Vouvray which was really well done. A big surprise was the lovely #378 Colmant from South Africa. It tasted French and indeed the winemaker Joel Follet has a family winery in Champagne. Moving on to actual Champagne I thought the best of the available selections from Roland Champion was the #382 2007 Special Club. The biggest treat was the 1959 Brut. I was a bit skeptical when I first saw the bottle so I double-checked with both Carole Champion and Jeremy Sutton. This is the 1959 vintage and not a Cuvee 1959? Yes, it was the real thing. A few bottles from the cellar were recently disgorged and brought over as a treat. It was like drinking a fresh, mature white wine with a little bubbly lift. It was a fitting way to end the Champagne tasting and move on to the white wines.


The selections from Grand Veneur/Alaine Jaume are so numerous as to require two tables. Therefore we only tasted a small portion. Of the whites I enjoyed the Chateauneuf du Pape Blancs namely #157 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc and the #158 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine….just like last year. The #118 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume was very good and a contrast to the #119 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin. Similarly priced I really liked #123 2011 Guillemont-Michel, Quintaine. Now a Vire-Cleese I also enjoyed last years offering of 2009 when it was a Macon-Villages. The #124 2010 Saumaize Michelin showed strongly being the first glass from a just opened bottle. It was good to taste #326 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay again. I should like to try it again in a year. We had meant to return for the Pearmund red wines but ran out of time. The #332 2011 Buty, Chardonnay was interesting with good grip.


Below you you will find 34 notes split sparkling wines, Champagne, and white wines. I think the notes are best read in order and not individually. Or at the very least a note should be compared amongst its neighbors. I should note that Fran Kysela provides proper wine glasses and the wines were poured at good temperatures. I tried to note color this year. Again read individually the description will lead you astray as the industrial lighting appeared to add green to the lighter wines. Please find my notes in tasting order.


#370 – NV Charles Duret, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The color was a very light yellow. The light nose was of ripe apple. In the mouth the flavors were firm with floral and pastille flavors mixing with the bubbles. There was bright acidity and a firm mousse. Good value.

#367 – NV Caveau du Mont July, Methode Ancestrale, Bugey Cerdon – $24
This wine is a blend of 95% Gamay and 5% Poulsard. The color was a very light salmon rose. The subtle nose had aromas of apple cider. In the mouth there were fine, firmly popping bubbles, sweet apple cider fruit, ripe flavors, and a spiced finish.

#368 – NV Charles Duret, Rose, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose was tight and subtle. There were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a big mousse in the mouth. There was some sweet spiced fruit and a sweeter finish.

#369 – NV Wolfberger, Brut Rose, Crement d’Alsace – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose bore very fine vintage perfume. In the mouth there was an acidity driven start, finely popping bubbles, and subtle vintage floral fruit.

#377 – NV Chateau Gaudrelle, Sparkling Brut, Vouvrey – $19
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow green. There was a light and tight nose. In the mouth there were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a nice mousse which ended by the middle. This was a balanced, easy to drink wine with integrated fruit.

#378 – NV Colmant, Brut Reserve, Cap Classique – $26
This wine is a blend of 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. 10% is of reserve wine and 12% is barrel fermented. The color was a very light yellow green. The very light nose bore floral apples. In the mouth the fine, firm bubbles persisted. There was a subtle yeast note to the fruit, mouthfilling mousse, and drying tannins. Tastes French.


#381 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Cuvee d’Aramis, Chouilly, Champagne – $50
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose made way to gently firm bubbles which quietly popped in the mouth. The white fruit flavors were gentle in the mouth. There was a touch of yeast note.

#380 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $54
This wine is 100% Chardonnay aged for at least 30 months. The nose was tight. There was a firm start in the mouth with very fine bubbles, good acidity, and good presence.

#382 – 2007 Roland Champion, Special Club, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $80
This was a light golden yellow. There was good up-front power to the fruit which mixed with the bubbles. The good fruit was of spiced apple and white fruit. There were drying tannins which coated the inside of the lips. Nice. Young.

#379 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Rose, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $58
This wine is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay of which 70% is from 2007 and 30% 2006. The final wine is 15% red wine from Verneuil aged at least four years.  There was a light rose color.  The light nose showed some funk and lactic aromas.  In the mouth there were very fine, firm bubbles which quietly pop.  There was tart red fruit, apple acidity, and drying aspect towards the finish.

Nicola Champion with the 1959

Carole Champion with the 1959

1959 Roland Champion, Brut, Chouilly, Champagne –
This was disgorged at the end of 2012. There was a light yellow color. The light nose was of a mature white wine, complex with wood box aromas. In the mouth there were very subtle bubbles and mature flavors in this fresh and very complex wine. There was some toast and wood box notes in the finish. A real treat.

#155 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $15
This wine is a blend of 50% Roussanne, 40% Viognier, and 10% Clairette. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was floral with honeysuckle like aromas and good fruit. In the mouth the flavors were fruit driven, gentle, and a touch soft.

#156 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc de Viognier, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is 100% Viognier. The light nose had finer, floral aromas. In the mouth the fruit was initially soft but then honeysuckle and structure came out. It was still a bit soft compared to the acidity. There was a drying, citric finish.

#157 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $47
This wine is a blend of 60% Clairette and 40% Roussane. The color was a very light yellow. There was a light, refined nose with a touch of sweet florals. The mouth follows the nose but adds vintage perfume, some roundness, and good length.

#158 – 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is 100% Roussanne. There was good mouthfeel to this oily, easy to drink and almost brambly wine. The fruit was yellower with spices. Served cool but not cold.


#117 – 2010 Perchaud, Chablis – $15
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 25 year old vines. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose had yellow fruit with some fat to it. There were flavors of toasty apple which became drier towards the finish where there were dry tannins.

#118 – 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The light nose was of fine, yellow fruit in a structure. In the mouth the acidity driven flavors were lively, almost masculine. The yellow and white fruit had good presence and mouth feel. Young with good potential.

#119 – 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The color was a very light yellow green. The nose was more austere. The fruit had tang with good acidity, stones, and plenty of focus. There were some tannins and more structure than the Fourchaume. There was an apple-like finish.

#120 – 2011 Courtault, Petit Chablis – $16
The nose was fresh with good, green veggies and white fruit. The flavors were simpler in the mouth with a yeasty, earthy note. Good acidity.


#121 – 2010 Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, St. Veran – $23
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 parcels averaging 45 years of age. Vinified in stainless steel and underwent malolactic fermentation. The color was a light yellow. The light nose had low-lying, darker fruit. There was a soft and gentle introduction followed by shorter flavors.

#122 – 2010 Domaine Delorme et Fils, Sur la Roche, Puilly-Fuisse – $29
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 year old vines. This was acidity driven with brighter, fresh fruit that showed both weight and tang. The flavors were lighter.

#123 – 2011 Pierrette et Marc Guillemot-Michel, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse – $33
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 45 year old vines, vinified in stainless steel, and underwent malolactic fermentation. The very light nose was apple-like. In the mouth there was white and yellow fruit which was lively with good grip. Nice wine.


#124 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vignes Blanches, Pouilly-Fuisse – $39
The color was a very light yellow green. The flavors were fat in the mouth with a wood note and old-school taste. There was a core of fruit. Good weight, apple grip, and tangy flavors in the finish. The first pour from a freshly opened bottle.

#125 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vieilles Vignes, St. Veran – $37
The color was a very light straw yellow. The nose was rather light and tight. The soft fruit made way to white fruit but there was not enough acidity. There were some spices in the finish.

#126 – 2009 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Pentacrine, Pouilly-Fuisse – $43
This The color was a very light yellow straw green (wow!). There was a very light but good nose. In the mouth the grippy yellow fruit had some soft edges but was certainly structured. There were dry, ripe tannins.

#331 – 2011 Buty, Semillon-Sauvignon, Columbia Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 60% Semillon, 21% Muscadelle, and 19% Sauvignon. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was of ripe, white fruit. There was good mouthfeel then the flavors dried up. This was a bigger wine with structure and tannins. Not quite sure what it was.

#332 – 2011 Buty, Chardonnay, Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley – $36
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was almost earthy with yellow fruit. There was fresh, grippy, driven yellow fruit which had some spices to it. The grip continued into the finish. Well done.

#327 – 2011 Pearmund, Viognier, Vinecroft Vineyards, Fauqier County – $23
This had a light nose of drier yellow fruit and hot dogs. The mouth followed the nose with sweeter fruit, acidity, and some spice.

#326 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay, Fauqier County – $20
The color was a light, to medium golden yellow. The nose was of yellow fruit and yeast. In the mouth there was tropical fruit, a creamy mouthfeel, and a subtle toast note. It took on a soft edge towards the finish where there were spices. Young.

#325 – 2011 Pearmund, Riesling, Fauqier County – $20
This was a very light yellow straw color. The light+ nose was of tropical fruit. The mouth followed the fruity nose with grip and spices. Off-dry.

#254 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chenin Blanc – $14
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow. The very light nose revealed some fruit. There was light fruit in the mouth, old wood?, lively acidity, and some grip.

#252 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chardonnay-Viognier – $14
This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Viognier. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose was very pure with grassy and ripe fruit. In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with a powdery, chalky note, and a clean, drying finish.

#264 – 2011 Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland – $28
This wine is a blend of 65% Chenin Blanc, 26% Clairette Blanche, and 9% Viognier which was aged for 11 months in older French oak barrels and one foudre. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was very tight with a yeast note. In the mouth the wine was shutdown with yeast, old wood, vintage perfume, and fruit. There was very bright acidity and a chunky nature. I imagine this needs some age.

#261 – 2012 Kloof Street, Chenin Blanc, Swartland – $20
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc which was aged for 11 months in used French oak barrels. The color was a very light yellow. The very light nose was of yellow and tropical fruits. There were smokey, minerally white fruit then yellow fruit with a bacon note.