Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 1

The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 1


ESS1

I have purchased many Eric Solomon wines during my trips to Seattle but over the last year I have been able to purchase a growing selection in Washington, DC.  When I heard about the Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting organized by The Country Vintner I just knew I had to attend.  I immediately emailed Mark Longsworth of The Country Vintner and marked the tasting on my calendar.  On Tuesday I found myself walking up 9th street past a huge grouping of 21st century construction, across Massachusetts Avenue, to a block of 19th century buildings opposite the massive Convention Center.  It is here that the Long View Gallery played host to the tasting.  The gallery itself features a smaller front room where I picked up my wine glass and tasting booklet by the front door.  The booklet documents the 38 tables of wine, running over 100 pages in length.  There were a number of tables in this room but with the coat rack in the back room I headed up the sloped hallway to settle myself in.

ESS2

The back room featured tables arrayed around the perimeter of the room along with a smaller, central array of tables.  The space was lit primarily by natural light but spot lights illuminated the wines towards the middle of the building.

ESS9

There was a tremendous selection of producers and wines to taste making this an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the Eric Solomon portfolio. There were also wines from Jon-David Headrick Selections but there was simply not enough time for me to get to them.  In the four hours alloted I could not even taste through all of the Eric Solomon wines.  That is a good predicament to be in.  I spent my first half tasting wines with Phil from MacArthur Beverages and the second half on my own.  It seemed that every winery was represented by an owner or winemaker which makes for a great expression of commitment.  The tasting did get crowded so at time it was difficult to carry on a conversation due to the noise or the logistics of having to pour wine in everyone’s glasses.  I would have loved for there to be a second day with smaller group tastings with each winery. I do appreciate the travel schedule involved in a national portfolio tasting but I do crave the balance between a big trade tasting and smaller sessions.

ESS10

In the span of four hours I managed to taste some 80 wines.  Due to this large number my notes will be presented over two posts.  The pours were all of decent size with the wines at the correct temperature.  There were actually a number of Barrel Samples being poured, some of which I have noted and others I did not.  Of the wines presented in this post I must point out those of Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine de Marcoux, and Hacienda Monasterio. Though I tasted many other good wines at various price points, those of these three domaines stood out and I encourage you to seek them out.  You will find my tasting notes below in the order I tasted them.

Table 20 – Vignobles Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

I have been drinking the wines of Michel Gassier since the end of the past summer.  The Cercius wines are a collaboration between Michel Gassier, Philippe Cambie, and Eric Solomon.  They are named after the mistral wind that visits the vineyards.  These wines are aged in concrete tanks.  The Nostre Pais wines are terroir driven wines, with the varietals vinified and aged separately  then blended before bottling.  Lastly the Lou Coucardie wines are intended to be aged.  I thought the Cercius Blanc a good start and it is affordable too.  I actually prefer the 2011 Cercius Rouge over the 2010 version, which Michel described as a big hug.  The Nostre Pais Blanc and Rouge are serious but affordable wines which deserve age.  Interestingly enough, I found both of the Lou Coucardie chewy, give them a few years in your cellar.

2012 Cercius Blanc, Vin de France – $14
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, aged on the lees in concrete tank.  There was a good, textured and aromatic nose of yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was white, honeysuckle-like fruit, good acidity, some lemon, perhaps stone, and controlled ripeness.  A good start to the lineup.

2012 Notre Pais Blanc, Costeieres de Nimes – $21 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier aged six months in neutral French oak.  There was a light, tighter nose with underlying dark yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the driven white fruit, some citrus, and a more serious attitude.  There was good length in the aftertaste.

2012 Lou Coucardie Blanc, Costieres de Nimes – $30 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Viognier aged 10 months in French oak.  There was a light, tight nose followed by good initial weight in the mouth.  The flavors show focus and are a bit chewy.  It builds body in the mouth along with a bright citrus note guiding along in the wine.  This will age.

2011 Cercius Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah aged six months in concrete tanks.  There was focused, young grapey fruit with a nice mix between the tannins, acidity, and fruit.  I liked that this showed more restraint with the fruit than the 2010 vintage.

2010 Nostre Pais Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $20
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah aged six months in French oak with 50% on the lees.    There was black red fruit with a touch of a powdery note.  Fine strong tannins were evident along with good, cool acidity.  It revealed a little old-school perfume along with a mineral note in the finish.  I would cellar this.

2010 Lou Coucardie Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $32
This wine is a blend of 60% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, and 10% Syrah aged 12-18 months in French oak on the lees.  There was a light nose which was the most aromatic of the reds, it was almost brambly.  In the mouth the compact flavors were a mix of black and red fruit that went well with the perfume.  There were fine, drying grapey tannins in the finish and black stones in the aftertaste.  This young wine was also a bit chewy.  This will age.

Table #30 – Domaine de la Janasse

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

The 2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc was an incredible start with lovely texture and crisp personality.  There is not much of this wine produced so it is hard to get but certainly worth the effort.  The Terre d’Argile is good but the Les Garrigues is a standout for Cotes du Rhone.  I liked all three Chateauneuf du Pape but was amazed at how well the Vieilles Vignes showed with its depth, lively nature, and fresh acidity.  A strong showing all around.  More wine was produced with the 2011 vintage as compared to 2010 and 2012.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Cotes du Rhone – $22
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 15% Clairette, 15% Bourboulenc, 10% Viognier, and 10% Roussane aged six months in tank on the lees.  The light nose was floral with yellow fruit.  The wine was crisp in the mouth with good grippy fruit, lots of texture, and some ripe fruit in the finish.  Nice!

2012 VdP d’Orange Rose, VdP d’Orange  – $12
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  The nose was more focused with some cherry fruit.  The flavors were very acidity driven on the tongue then teases with soft red notes.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Rose, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  There was a good nose of berries and pastilles.  The mouth follows the nose with a little more weight, a little creamy nature, and a fine texture.  A step up from the previous rose.

2010 Terre de Bussiere, VdP d’Orange – $17
This wine is a blend of  55% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 12 months in 2/3 used oak barrels.  There was a light, tight nose followed by bright fruit in the mouth.  There was some weight, some seriousness, and citric tannins.

2011 Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan, and 10% Cinsault aged 12 months in foudre.  There was not much on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were tight with red fruit, and citric tannins.

2011 Terre d’Argile, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $26
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Carignan aged for 12 months in foudre.  The nose revealed a touch more darkness.  The fruit has more dark red notes, ripeness, and riper tannins.  There was some weight and a spicy aftertaste.

2011 Les Garrigues, Cotes du Rhone – $46
This wine is 100% Grenache with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in barrel.  The nose was interesting with berries and other red and blue fruits.  The entry was the weightiest with mouthfilling flavors.  The fruit was old-school and fleshed out nicely with fine, good length.  There was a sweet, ripe touch in the finish along with fine, powerful tannins and spice.  Nice.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $65
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in 2/3 used oak barrels.  The nose is more elegant.  In the mouth there was bright red and black fruit which starts off lively on the tongue before showing density in the middle.  There was black minerally weight in the finish.

2011 Chaupin, Chateauneuf du Pape – $90
This wine is a blend of 100% Grenache aged in used foudre and demi-muids.  There was a low-lying dense, dark red nose.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with gently coating with mineral and animale notes.  There was an inky aspect to the dense finish.  Tight but interesting.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $120
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, and 2% other varietals which was aged 80% in foudre and 20% in barrel.  There was a light nose of dark, ripe, sweet, and seductive aromas.  In the mouth there was good depth to the flavors which were lively and beautiful.  There was fresh acidity throughout, a long aftertaste, and an overall great showing.  Lovely.

Table 16 – Domaine de Marcoux

Sophie Armenier

Sophie Armenier

These were also lovely wines but I want to skip to the Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge for it is a lovely example of an old-school wine, full of personality, and amazingly approachable.  From very old vines the Vieilles Vignes was simply beautiful.  The vines are located on soils of sandy and clay making them a bit unique compared to the stony soils found throughout Chateauneuf du Pape.  I thought the 2011 were showing well!

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $68
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Bourboulenc aged in stainless steel.  The floral white nose developed in the glass.  There was a crisp start in the mouth before the flavors picked up weight and tropical notes.

2011 Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $23
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre aged in tank.  There was a light and focused nose with a little bramble berry.  In the mouth there was a little tang, plenty of weight, and sexy aspect.

2011 La Lorentine, Lirac – $27
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 30% Syrah aged 16-18 months in concrete tank.  It is organic.  This was more focused and structured with texture.  The black red fruit clearly needs age.  There are plenty of tannins as it turns brighter in the end.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, and 3% Cinsault aged 18 months in concrete tank and barrique.  There seemed to be some lovely Mourvedre funk on the nose.  The mouth follows with old-school flavors, density, Kirsch, and generally lovely flavors.  There was a gentle aftertaste.  Nice.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $180
This wine is 100% Grenache from 70-110 year old vines on sand and clay soils without stones.  It was aged 18 months in foudre.  There was a tight, concentrate notes of Kirsch, and old-school aromas.  There was good ripe fruit in the mouth, a sweet, fresh, concentrated nature.  Beautiful.

Table 24 – Clos Saint Jean

Vincent Maurel

Vincent Maurel

These wines were more modern with the Blanc a big wine revealing a lot of flavor.  The three Rouge feature Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1905. They are modern wines with a lot of interest and power which fill the mouth.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Clairette, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Bourbuolenc aged in concrete tanks and barriques.  There were weighty aromas of tropical and yellow fruits.  The wine was big in the mouth, rich, and oily with flavors of yellow fruit and sweet spices.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache , 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccareze, and Muscardin.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  There was a tight nose followed by a core of ripe, sweet fruit.  It fleshed out some, showing a modern personality with tight, lasting flavors.  Well done.

2011 La Combe des Fous, Chateauneuf du Pape – $105 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% Vaccareze.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This had a more expressive nose which was perfumed with powerful berries that stepped out of the glass.  There was sweet, ripe red fruit in the mouth then blue flavors which coated the tongue.  There were sweet spices in the aftertaste.

2011 Deux ex Machina, Chateauneuf du Pape – $100 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This dialed things up with lots of fruit, vanilla, and dense flavors in this huge, modern wine.  Though tight, there was a lot going on.

Table 24 – Bodegas Mas Alta

Bixente Ocafrain

Bixente Ocafrain

This is a joint project between Michel Tardieu and Philippe Cambie.  I have drunk the Black Slate before in my hotel room in Seattle.  I thought all of the wines had interesting aromas with the 2011 Artigas my favorite of the lot.

2011 Black Slate La Vilella Alta, Priorat – $22
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet aged 12 months in French oak barrels.  The nose was focused and tight.  The mouth surprised with lots of ripe fruit, black and red flavors, and some softness.

2010 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  There was interesting fruit on the nose being black and red.  In the mouth there was ripe, powdery fruit which was controlled and became blacker towards the finish. There were fine, citric tannins, spicy, and good aftertaste. I preferred this over the Black Slate.

2011 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  The light nose stepped out of the glass, it was not earthy but interesting.  Lots of forward fruit in the mouth followed the nose with a haunting perfume.

2010 La Creu Alta, Priorat – $125
This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Grenache aged 18 months in French oak barrels.  The Carignan is 100 years old.  The nose was interesting.  The mouth follows with power to the drier fruit.  There was a weighty feel but the acidity kept things lively.  The tannins were well-integrated with the dark, earthy finish.

Table 26 – Hacienda Altes

Nuria Altes

Nuria Altes

I have drunk the 2011 Garnatxa Negra before so was happy to find the 2012 vintage my favorite of the three I tasted.  It is also the least expensive!

2011 Benufet, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  The fruit was tangy on the sides of the tongue then steely with a touch of yeast in the tart finish.

2012 Garnatxa Negra, Terra Alta – $11
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was good red berry fruit, texture, acidity, and a fresh finish.  Nice.

2010 l’Estel, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was a light, pungent nose.  In the mouth the bright red fruit first stands on the tongue then it takes on some levity and tartness.

Table 26 – Creta

This wine is the result of a partnership between Eric Solomon and Isaac Fernandez Montana.  Isaac is on the team of wine makers who work with Mariano Garcia’s Bodega Mauro.

2011 Creta Roble, Ribera del Duero – $15
This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged four months in 70% French and 30% American oak barrels.  The nose was tight with red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tight, young and mixed with fine, drying, citric tannins.

Table 27 – Hacienda Monasterio

Carlos de la Fuente

Carlos de la Fuente

Simply put, the 2009 Crianza immediately stood out for its nose alone but this was reinforced by tasting the wine.  This is a traditional Ribera del Duero wine which you must try, it is moving.  The 2009 Reserva is very good too but as Phil commented, it is like a young Bordeaux.  It is a superb wine for the cellar.  Drink the Crianza while the Reserva ages.

2009 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a light, pungent nose with good depth.  In the mouth there was good weight to the cool red and black fruit which had a grapey finish.  Simply put, this is a beautiful wine that will age.  Captivating.  Well-done.

2010 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a similar nose but tighter.  There were berries in the mouth, more drying tannins, and drier flavors in the finish.  Needs age.

2009 Reserva, Ribera del Duero – $120
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec which was aged 18 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a good nose followed by very young, concentrated flavors in the mouth.  There was lots of structure and acidity for aging, all of which was balanced.  There was a wood note followed by a dark red aftertaste.  This needs at least five years of age but will be lovely.

Table 27 – Celler del Roure

This winery features some interesting varietals including the experimental Mando.  The Cullerot Blanco is aged in buried clay jugs but it is a white wine not an orange wine.  It was interesting.

2011 Cullerot Blanco, Valencia – $15
This wine is a blend of 30% Verdil, 30% Pedro Ximenez, 20% Macabeo, and 20% Chardonnay aged for five months in buried tinaja clay jugs.  This had a different nose with a little cherry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were white and drier with a salty finish.

2011 Setze Gallets, Valencia – $11
This wine is a blend of 30% Garnacha Tintorera, 30% Monastrell, 25% Merlot, and 15% Mando which was aged five months in steel tanks.  There was a light, tight nose fo berries.  In the mouth it was young with simple flavors of black and red fruit.  There were very fine, drying tannins with light flavors for the structure.

2009 Maduresa, Valencia – $35
This wine is a blend of 25% Mando, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Monastrell, 15% Syrah, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot which was aged for 10-12 months in French oak barrels.  There was a good nose.  In the mouth the black and red fruit existed with a drying, powerful structure with drying tannins.

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