Archive for May, 2013

A Trio of Italian Wines

In continuing my effort to catch up on my tasting notes this post features a trio of Italian wines.  The 2011 Azienda Agricola G. Ricci Curbastro & Figli, Sebino Rosso is a decent and affordably priced wine from Lombardy.   It maintains enough interest to be a mid-week wine so keep it under consideration.  My favorite of the trio is the 2009 Corte Alla Flora, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  Not only is it a satisfying wine but it also tastes different, I certainly recommend you try a bottle.  Lastly I grabbed the 2007 Duca di Salaparuta, Vajasindi because I just had to try a Sicilian wine under $20 with some age.  Unfortunately it was a bit uninteresting right now.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Azienda Agricola G. Ricci Curbastro & Figli, Sebino Rosso IGT – $13
Imported by Grappoli Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The light nose revealed soft aromas of red and plummy fruit.  In the mouth the soft red fruit surround a core of blue and black fruit.  There was a brief hint of herbs.  The flavors tightened up towards the finish where some structure developed along with salivating acidity.  There was a  tiny bit of drying tannins in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2015.


2009 Corte Alla Flora, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – $17
Imported by Siema.  This wine is a blend 0f 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel tanks where it underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 18 months in French oak. Alcohol 14%.  The nose was a little earthy and stink with some leather hints.  The mouth follows the nose with dry flavors, pencil lead, and drying tannins.  The black and red fruit mixes nicely with black minerals.  There is a drying structure in the finish, salivating acidity, and somewhat tart red fruit.  There are some different, mature notes in this enjoyable wine.  *** Now-2018.


2007 Duca di Salaparuta, Vajasindi, Lavico – $17
Imported by Wine Cellars Ltd.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese.  Alcohol 13%.  There were firm red flavors and herbs which mixed with red and black acidity.  The tannins are integrated, though present, but nothing crazy.  There was slightly watering acidity.  ** Now-2018.


Beaujolais from Chateau Thivin and Domaine du Vissoux

May 29, 2013 1 comment

Somehow I never posted about the 2010 Chateau Thivin, Cotes du Brouilly.  It is possible it slipped through the cracks so while I look through my old notes you can cellar the 2011 vintage.  It has similar puckering flavors of cran-raspberry but remained somewhat tight.  The 2011 Domaine du Vissoux, Cuvee Traditionnelle is quite attractive in both flavor and price.  It remained my favorite of this pair of wines.  I would personally cellar it until the fall.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Chateau Thivin, Cotes du Brouilly – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  It was aged for six months in oak foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed fresh berries.  In the mouth there were very fresh, tart berries which became almost puckering in the middle with black-red fruit flavor.  There were juicy, puckering flavors on the tip and sides of the tongue with acidity as the foundation of the wine.  With air cran-raspberry flavors came out with grapey purple flavors and some structure. **(*) 2014-2017.


2011 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Domaine du Vissoux, Cuvee traditionnelle, Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais – $15
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 35-85 year old vines which underwent semi-carbonic maceration in stainless steel and cement followed by 4-6 months aging in old wood tuns.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a hint of beer on the nose.  In the mouth there was tangy red and black fruit on the front of the tongue with acidity moving the flavors forward. Firm red fruit , and powdery high-toned red fruit mixed with a little acidity on the sides of the tongue. With some air some spice came out.  This wine had good personality, a little expansion, and freshness. *** Now-2015.


Recent Spanish Wines

May 28, 2013 1 comment

The 2009 Scala Dei, Negre is an affordable Priorat and a generous wine on the nose and in the mouth.  I rather liked the flavors but the wine was so full of fruit I could only have a glass at a time.  I did prefer it on the second night when it tightened up.  The 2009 Sandoval, Salia is rather different with its cooler, younger fruit.  While I preferred the 2008 vintage reviewed in Two Wines From Fincs Os Cobatos and Finca Sandoval the 2009 remains serious.  I picked up the 2010 Maurodos, Prima because it was over one year ago since I tasted the 2009 vintage reviewed in A Pair of Affordable Spanish Wines.   I enjoyed this wine and am curious to taste it again in the fall. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2009 Scala Dei, Negre, Priorat – $15
Imported by Aveniu Brands.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from soils of llicorella which was fermented in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was a little loose in the nose with some meaty aromas, sweet tea and herbs, along with blueberry paste.  In the mouth it was forward and full of berries and blue fruit.  There was a soft start,  spicy fruit in the middle, a hint of heat in the finish along with dried herbs and some minerals.  There were gobs of flavor in this lush wine, it eventually took on some grip the second night.  ** Now.


2009 de Finca Sandoval, Salia, Manchuela – $17
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 49% Syrah, 30% Garnacha Tintorera, and 21% Garnacha Tina which was aged for one year in American oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of red cherries, cork, woodsy aromas, and herbs.  In the mouth there was some texture to the red fruit before taking on a little blue and black fruit.  There was a cool-climate aspect to this young wine.  ** 2014-2016.


2010 Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos, Prima, Toro – $17
Imported by Grapes of Spain.  This wine is a blend of Tinta do Toro and Garnacha which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was low-lying with aromas of blue fruit and tobacco.  In the mouth there was a bit more thickness with flavors of vanilla, red, and blue fruits.  The flavors were fine and powdery with a low-lying nature.  The sweet tannins coated the lips leaving the dual impressions of being a young wine for the cellar but also one which should be drunk now.  ** Now-2015.


A Trio of Recent Rhones

Just a short post for today focusing in on three Rhone wines.  The 2011 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Les Argiles Rouges offers up gobs of flavor in a forward, immediately accessible style.  It is much different from the 2010 vintage (please see my post Affordable 2010 Ventoux and Cotes du Rhone Which Will Develop).  The 2010 Domaine de Mourchon, Tradition is more approachable than the 2009 vintage was in its youth (please see my post Three New Wines From Mourchon).  This vintage manages to have everything characteristic of a young Cotes du Rhone which may be drunk now or with short-term age.  Lastly, the 2009 Arnoux & Fils, Seigneur de Lauris is back in stock and is still the clean, modern wine which I last tasted almost two years ago (please see my post 2009 Arnoux & Fils, Seigneur de Lauris, Vacqueyras ) It should have  broad appeal.  My personal recommendation is to buy a bunch of the Mourchon. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Les Argiles Rouges, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Simon N’Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Carignan, and 10% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed grainy, raisin berries, along with blue and black berry jam.  In the mouth there were forward ripe and sweet flavors of jam and blue fruit before a black, minerally middle.  There was a smooth texture in the mouth with the acidity there and minimal tannins.  The jammy flavors made way to a racy finish.  ** Now-2016.


2010 Domaine de Mourchon, Tradition, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret – $17
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 10% Carignan sourced from 40-year-old vines which was aged in concrete.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was mixed with pepper and grapey aromas.  In the mouth there were good, young flavors which opened up within one hour.  There were some firm black fruit, tannins, and graphite minerals.  The acidity  mixed with black fruit.  There was a slightly, youthful greenhouse note as fine, drying tannins eventually coated the lips.  *** Now-2018.


2009 Arnoux & Fils, Seigneur de Lauris, Vacqueyras – $18
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from vines that are 50+ years old.  It is aged for six to twelve months in foudres and 33% new oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light to medium cherry.  The rather light nose was grapey with some black fruit.  In the mouth there was focused, red cherry fruit which was all balanced with the acidity and tannins, as well as being polished.  The flavors were clean.  There was some weight, a little ripe tannins, and red and black fruit with air.  It was a little grapey in the finish.  I would never guess this modern wine to be from Vacqueyras.  **(*) Now-2018.


A Pair of Wines from Vincent Paris

The wines of Vincent Paris are new to the shelves in Washington, DC.  Vincent first made wine under his uncle Robert Michel.  Having produced his first wine in 2007 he went out on his own renting winemaking facilities while he builds a new one.  He sources fruit from some eight hectares of vineyards, including one hectare of 90+ year old vines inherited from his grandfather and rented from his uncle.  He has also planted Viognier and Roussanne on north-facing slopes in Cornas.  His holdings in Saint-Joseph amount to 1.5 hectares with 4.7 hectares in Cornas.  He does not use any chemical in the vineyards and prunes to four bunches per vine.  He ferments his wine at low temperatures and ages them for 12 months in oak barrels.

We tasted both of these wines over the course of four evenings.  They both have pure, clean flavors, acidity which is present, and supportive structure.  The Saint-Joseph remained the most accessible of the pair but it should still be cellared for a few years.  There are many enjoyable aspects to this wine and at the price it is worth laying several bottles down.  It is a crime to drink Cornas at such a young age but it is still important for me to try such wines for experience.   This bottle remained unapologetically tight but it still revealed the potential for an interesting future.  I am confident that it will develop with age but to what extent I cannot yet tell.  It is well priced for Cornas so why not stash at least one bottle in your cellar?  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Vincent Paris Selection, Saint-Joseph – $22
Imported by Potomac Selections.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 10 and 20-year-old vines on granite soils at 300 meters.  The fruit is fermented in 66% barrel and 33% tank then aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium grapey, ruby.  The light nose had purple fruit aromas, pepper, and eventually a touch of smoke and meat.  In the mouth the flavors were focused with clean and pure fruit along with black minerals.  There was firm acidity on the tongue and fine grapey tannins.  The flavors became a little savory, taking on some weight, and expanding a bit.  Young.  **(*) 2015-2026.


2011 Domaine Vincent Paris, Granit 30, Cornas – $33
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 30-year-old vines on granite soils at a 30 degree slope at 300 meters.  The fruit is destemmed then fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete tank and aged for 12 months in used barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The light nose was very finely scented with a touch of lees then perfume.  In the mouth there was focused and firm flavors of tart red and black fruit, with hints of good flavors yet to come.  There was little, expansive burst of flavor in the finish.  There were very fine, grapey and drying tannins which stuck to the lips.  With extended air there were more tart red fruit and citric tannins.  Young.  **(**) 2016-2030.

1998 Valdevegon From the Oldest Monastic Winery In Spain


This spring I had the chance to taste a wine with a rather interesting history which arrived at MacArthur Beverages through the relationships of  Tommy Shimokado.  Tommy works at MacArthur Beverages and belongs to the youth program Escuela de Lidarzgo.  Through this program he met Antonia Blanco who has ties with several Catholic institutions in Spain one of which produces wine.  As Tommy works at a wine store a bottle was dispatched from the Cisterciense Orden Cardeña, Monasterio de San Pedro Cardeña.  The Monastery was founded at the end of the 9th century and has been producing wine since the 10th century.  This appears to make it the oldest commercial winery with residing religious monks.  The wine production has not been consistent having recently started again in 1965.  At the time the late Abbot Padre Sergio followed a Vatican ruling allowing the vow of silence to be broken so that the production of wine could resume.

Image by Almudena, Flickr, Under Creative Commons License

Image by Almudena, Flickr, Under Creative Commons License

The Monastery of San Pedro de Cardena is located some 125 miles north of Madrid in the village of Castillo de Val.  The monastery and vineyard are not located within the closest Denominacion de Origen Controlada (DOC).  As a result the bottles do not bear a vintage date nor a classification, though there was a lot number on our bottle with the vintage.  The monastery does have a vineyard located at 1,000 meters but they had difficulty ripening the fruit.  Thus the wine is mainly produced using purchased fruit and wine from Rioja.    The wine is racked every six months.  I tasted this wine right after the cork was pulled.  It tastes like a traditional, old-school Tempranillo based wine.  Once it is available I shall try it again to see how it develops with air.  This wine is not yet available in the United States as it is typically sold from the wine shop at the monastery.  Phil and Tommy are working with a local importer to bring the wine to MacArthur Beverages.


1998 Monasterio de San Pedro Cardeña, Valdevegon – 9 Euros in Spain
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha which was aged for two years in American oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The nose bore old-school aromas, black fruit, and a little earth.  In the mouth there was drier fruit with a dry nature to the wine. The acidity was balanced.  There were old wood notes, some tannins, and in the brief time I tasted the wine it started to put on weight.

Aromatic and Textured, 2011 Two Shepherds Wines


William Allen’s first commercial release of Two Shepherds wine was with the 2010 vintage.  I recently tasted through four of his wines from his second vintage, the challenging 2011.  I was particularly impressed by the 2011 Pastoral Blanc and the 2011 Grenache.   The 2011 Pastoral Blanc was best after the first night.  It was a humble but confident wine which continued to reward until the end of the bottle.  The 2011 Grenache was beautifully aromatic from the start and a unique example of the varietal.  It was a bit tighter in the mouth so I suspect it will benefit from several months in the cellar.  I am amazed at how William can produce such good wine right away.  I suggest you order some of his wine to find out yourself.  These wines were ordered directly from Two Shepherds.


2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts in neutral French oak barrels, underwent malolactic fermentation then aged on the lees in a combination of oak and stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw.  The nose was not-quite piercing with aromas of white fruit and citrus.  There was a fresh start in the mouth with white fruit that rode the acidity.  There was a little acidity on the tongue tip.  The wine slowly built texture and flavors of stone.  There was a long aftertaste of expansive flavors, rounding out as it warmed up.  Youthful with many fine tartrates.  ***  Now-2015.


2011 Two Shepherds, Pastoral Blanc, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, and 10% Grenache Blanc which was fermented then aged on the lees in oak.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a light, gold straw.  The nose revealed tropical hints and weighty floral aromas.  In the mouth there was crisp white and yellow fruit which quickly took on some weight.  The tropical flavors turned towers white tropical flowers with minerals in the finish.  There was a very fine texture and ripe spice flavors before the flavors built up in intensity during the aftertaste.  This wine reacts well to air and develops good length.  *** Now-2015.


2011 Two Shepherds, Syrah, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is mostly Syrah, with some Viognier lees and stems, which was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for 10 months in neutral oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose revealed ripe, scented lemon and fresh fruit.  In the mouth there was a bright start with flavors that were tart on the tongue and somewhat lively.  It remained tight and young with tart red fruit and a woodsy finish.  Potential.  **(*) 2015-2019.


2011 Two Shepherds, Grenache, Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley – $35
This wine is 100% Grenache which was 15% whole cluster fermented in small open top bins then aged for 10 months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The was a complex and expressive nose of lifted berry notes, cardamom, orange peel, and fresh, mixed “not mint” herbs.  In the mouth there was a little tart red fruit which was kind of firm.  The orange peel notes returned in this fresh wine which showed some midpalate weight.  This showed best on the second night becoming tighter on the third night.  *** 2014-2018.


Animals to Grapes: 1998 Rosabrook, Abattoir Block Shiraz

I first drank the 1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block Shiraz at ten years of age (Please see my post Inaugural Aussie hammers and Abattoir).  Around the same time I also drank the 1998 Maxwell, Grenache, McLaren Vale (Please see my post Six Aussies Including the Tasty 1998 Maxwell Grenache).  These were much different from the rich, ripe, and alcoholic Australian wines I often tasted.  I do remember taking the Rosabrook to Shane’s house for a blind tasting.  It was particularly earthy and meaty, people thought it was an Old World wine with most not liking it.  But we did.  From my emails I see that we bought more of each.  The common thread between these two wines is that they were imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Twelve years ago Peter Weygandt imported both French and Australian wine with the later represented by twenty different wineries.  Today the portfolio is still heavy on the French wine but only one Australian winery is still on the list, that of The Gatekeeper.  So if you see his older wines in a store it might be worth the gamble.


Rosabrook Estate was founded in 1980 with Simon Keall the winemaker for the wine featured in this post.  The early wines were produced using fruit from a 7 hectare vineyard planted with nine different varietals.  The cellar door was Margaret River’s first commercial abattoir built-in the 1930s.  The James Halliday Australian Wine Companion books list “Slaughterhouse Block” so “Abattoir Block” might have been the American name.  The winery relocated its vineyard in 2007 so this wine is no longer produced.  Last week there were three bottles of this wine left.  If you are at all curious then I would grab one right away.  It is still drinking really well and is ultimately a satisfying, flavorful drink.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block Shiraz, Margaret River – $39
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Shiraz aged in both American and French oak.  Alcohol.  The color was a medium garnet-cherry which shows its age.  The nose was a little scented with spices, roast, red, and blue fruits.  In the mouth there was still a core of ripe red and blue fruit.  It mixed with woodbox flavors which were perfectly balanced by the acidity.  There were spices, a hint of tobacco, and a little smoke which nicely set off the blue/black fruit.  It eventually revealed meaty flavors with air and a little, tangy orange citrus.  It maintained its acidity throughout.  *** Now-2018.


Meat and Smoke: 1996 Mordorée, Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape

May 20, 2013 1 comment

The Domaine de la Mordorée, Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape is a top cuvée which is normally priced beyond my budget.  I recently bought the last bottle from the 1996 vintage at an attractive dump-bin price.  This wine is listed on the domaine website as a vintage to drink now, specifically by 2009.  I found that the wine itself has the robust stuffing to easily last another decade.  The flavors are dominated by meat, smoke, and roast notes.  Though the red fruit is still present and the wine ultimately satisfying, I do agree that this is a wine which should be drunk up.  This wine was available at MacArthur Beverages.


1996 Domaine de la Mordorée, Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 2.5% Counoise, and 2.5% Vaccarese sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age.  The fruit was destemmed then aged in a mixture of oak barrels and enameled steel tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was full of meat, smoke, and mushrooms.  In the mouth there was moderate weight to the flavors of meat, smoke, and controlled, dense red fruit.  There was some tartness on the sides of the mouth.  With air the wine proved to be robust with roast notes and no great complexity.  The aftertaste brought similar flavors along with ripe tannins.  *** Now-2023.


Mature Wines From Domaine et Selection


The wines of Domaine et Selection are vinified, aged, and bottled at Domaine De Marcoux by Sophie Armenier.  However, they are not Domaine Marcoux wines.  They are produced using fruit from a 1 hectare vineyard of old-vine Grenache in the northwest corner of Chateauneuf du Pape.  Jenn and I had drunk a bottle of the 1999 many years ago so I limited experience with the wines.  I have lately heard from several people that the 2001 vintage was drinking really well and strongly priced.  A trio of vintages are still available so over two nights we tried all three.  The 1999 is the most mature and the most affordable.  It is a wine for drinking now in one go.  The 2000 was the most opulent and powerful, tasting like a wine from a warm vintage.   The 2001 lived up to the hype.  It is a beautiful and approachable wine which continued to develop as if slowly feeding off of some internal energy.  I would buy several bottles of the 2001 while this it is still available.  I would like to thank Sophie Armenier for answering my questions.  I will update this post with any additional information.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


1999 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $24
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light+ medium garnet.  The nose is of higher-pitched red fruit and roast.  The mouth follows with similar high-pitched red fruit which is still very much alive but shows maturity with the developing roast flavors.  There were ripe spices, and almost coarse textured ripe tannins.  It is a wine for now and rank best on the first night.  ** Now.


2000 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $34
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 15%.  The color was a light to medium cherry in the core surrounded by garnet.  There was a nose of firmer fruit, lipstick  and subtle bramble berry aromas.  In the mouth there was weighty ripe fruit, minerally red and black flavors, and a little vibrant acidity.  It was mouthfilling with power and a strong core of fruit.  The flavors mixed with cinnamon baking spices as well as integrated acidity and structure.  All of the components are there with nice fruit and perhaps a hint of warmth.  *** Now-2017.


1999 Domaine et Selection, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 15%.  The color was a light to medium consistent garnet.  The nose was earthy and of mulberries.  In the mouth there was more of a berry quality to the fruit, some roundness with a youthful manner.  It had more vigor and showed seriousness as it fleshed out with air.  It clearly gained depth with air showing expansive flavors and persistence.  ***(*) Now-2023.