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.