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Rosé and Rosado

June 28, 2013 1 comment

Of the trio of rosé bottles we have recently drunk I recommend the 2012 Bernard Baudry and the 2012 Chateau Miraval of Jolie-Pitt & Perrin.  At $20 and $23 per bottle they are approaching the expensive side of summer-time drinking but they both have merits.  The Bernard Baudry should not be drunk too cool.  If you store your bottle in the refrigerator then pour a glass and let it stand for 10-15 minutes before drinking.  What I found is a wine with compelling flavors which continued to expand and last in my mouth.  This drank well on the first two nights as every mouthful caught my attention.  The much publicized Chateau Miraval has a strong nose.  It smelled great throughout the entire bottle and was supported by the flavors.  The 2012 Ameztoi, Rubentis was interesting but the acidity was a bit too much for me so try it with food.  I typically drink rosé while I am grilling outside so a wine that can handle the warmth and be drunk alone is what works best for me.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Bernard Baudry, Rosé, Chinon – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc which was directly pressed.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light, dried rose and copper.  The fresh nose bore sharper aromas and lees.  In the mouth there were building flavors of red fruit like strawberry.  There was a grainy texture.  The flavors continued to build in the mouth and providing a long-lasting and expansive aftertaste.  The acidity started on the tongue tip then moved to the back of the throw as the texture built up.  *** Now.

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2012 Jolie-Pitt & Perrin, Chateau Miraval, Rosé, Cotes du Provence – $23
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle of which the Syrah was vinified by saignee and the other directly pressed.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light dried rose.  The nose was aromatic with floral and fruity notes.  In the mouth there were pastille flavors and acidity.  The wine became almost chalky with drier flavors and some weight to the small berry flavors.  There was a longish aftertaste with a little texture.  The nose always had an attractive bouquet.  *** Now.

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2012 Ameztoi, Rubentis, Rosado, Getariako Txakolina – $18
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Hondaribi Zuri and 50% Hondarribi Beltza sourced from vines up to 150+ years of age.  It was fermented in stainless steel.  Alcohol 10.5%.  the color was a very light rose.  The delicate nose had aromas of dried fruit and dried flowers.  The wine was slightly spritzy on the tongue with bracing acidity.    After the bracing start there were flavors of dried red fruit and dried herbs.  The acidity returned in the finish along with some lees-like flavors.  Best with food.  ** Now-2014.

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Australian Wines With Acidity

Jenn and I recently tasted through a slew of Australian wines.  John likes some age to his Semillon and of the three that I tried, the 2008 Kaesler, Old Vine Semillon was the most interesting and it is still young.  I would cellar it a few more years.  I found more to like with the red wines.  The 2010 Shadow Chaser, Red Wine is a good buy at $13.  The 2011 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz proves to be another satisfying vintage and one I could drink by the case.  The 2010 Tournon, Mathilda Shiraz from Michel Chapoutier is evocative of the Northern Rhone.  It really is a good wine which I would age for a year.  It is also only $13 so grab several at a time.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Semillon, Barossa Valley – $16
Imported by Wine Creek LLC.  This wine is 100% Semillon with fruit from the younger vines fermented in stainless steel and the older vines in used French barriques. Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The nose revealed tart pear and ripe lemon aromas.  In the mouth there were pineapple flavors which were a touch more ripe than the other Semillons.  The wine had a pebbly texture with berry and tooty-fruity flavors near the finish.  It showed some grip.  ** Now-2015.

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2008 Kaesler, Old Vine Semillon, Barossa Valley – $17
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Semillon sourced from vines planted in 1961.  It was aged for seven months on the lees.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The nose was slightly rich with Semillon aromas that stepped out of the glass. Perhaps a little toast as well.  In the mouth there was acidity with tart white and light yellow fruit.  There was plenty of acidity for the gravelly, citrus flavors.  There was a ripe lemon texture and dried herbs in the finish.  In a sense this is still very young.  ** Now-2018+.

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2007 Henschke, Tilly’s Vineyard, South Australia – $20
This wine is a blend of 57% Semillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, and 19% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light yellow with a gold tinge.  The nose was subtle with dried herbs and flowers.  In the mouth there was richer fruit driven by acidity which promptly expands to reveal drier, lighter, and very lively flavors with underlying mature notes.  The white fruit brought a little focused citrus note in the back-end.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Shadow Chaser, White Wine, McLaren Vale – $13
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from four vineyards with vines 11 to 34 years of age.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts and underwent partial malolactic fermentation.  5% of the wine was aged in French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  There was toasty fruit on the nose which had some grip.  In the mouth there was focused, ripe white fruit, a good mouthfeel, and lots of integrated acidity.  It took on fine pebbly spices.  **  Now-2014.

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2010 Shadow Chaser, Red Wine, McLaren Vale – $13
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from two 40+ year old vineyards.  The fruit was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a good nose of fragrant berries.  In the mouth there were fresh ripe berries, black and racy fruit, and a savory and weighty personality.  The flavors were drier in the finish where it was a little rough, or furry as Jenn put it.  The acidity was supportive from underneath with firm minerals towards the finish.  There was a nice mineral texture.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley – $19
Imported by Wine Creek LLC.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was fermented in stainless steel, cement, and wooden vats.  It was basked pressed then aged for 12 months in used hogsheads and foudres.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium black cherry.  There was a tart start with young, complex fruit with good depth.  The wine was a little chewy and sappy with a tautness from youth.  With air spices and black minerals came out in the finish.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 Michel Chapoutier, Tournon, Shiraz, Mathilda, Victoria – $13
Imported by Fruit of the Vine.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was vinified and aged in both concrete and stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was lifted with aromas of smoke and some meat.  After a few hours the wine opened up with tart red fruit, tart black fruit, and some citric tannins.  It remained a little tart and grapey with minerals in the finish.  A good wine which needs a little time.  *** 2014-2019.

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2010 Ring Bolt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River – $17
Imported by Negociants USA.  This wine  is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged 10 months in American and French hogsheads and barriques.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose bore greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were not too tart with red and black fruit.  The wine was dry with the mouth following the nose.  It was rather focused the first night but showed more ripe fruit the second night.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 Pyren Vineyard, Broken Quartz Shiraz, Pyrenees – $24
Imported by Vine St Imports.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was aged for 10 months in used French and American barriques.  Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose was good with fresh aromas of exotic flowers, herbs, and pepper as if from cool fruit.  In the mouth there were very tart flavors of citric red fruit.  It was a little pebbly on the tongue time and certainly vibrant.  Interesting but I found it hard to drink.  ** Now.

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Several Other Wines Tasted in Seattle

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I tried several other wines during my recent trip to Seattle.  I did not bother taking any notes on these wines for I was rather tired.  But I did take some pictures so here are my general impressions.

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After a few beers at King’s Hardware in Ballard a group of us moved on to dinner at Delancey.  Delancey serves up great pizza and has become a restaurant which I frequently visit during my trips to Seattle.  As I had to pass by the Portalis Wine Shop to get to my car I popped in to pick a few bottles for dinner.

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I had never seen the 2011 Turley, Cinsault, El Porron, Lodi before.  Having enjoyed many Turley Zinfandels in the past I thought the $23 El Porron was worth a try.  It turns out this is made using fruit sourced from 127 year old vines at the Bechtold vineyard.  There was an engaging nose with lots of beautiful, fresh, red fruit in the mouth.  I really enjoyed it and though it disappeared quickly amongst the six of us, I suspect it will drink well over several years.  Definitely worth trying.  The 2011 Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley is a blend of 63% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault.  I picked it up for I thought we should also drink something a bit fruitier and from Washington.  This bottle remained a bit compact but was still very satisfying given that it was popped and poured.  It was the first bottle to be finished.

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The evening we relaxed in Clark and Julie’s backyard.  The light rain sprinkles put a chill in the air but with the heater turned on we were fine.  Julia first brought out the 2005 Isenhower, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bachelor’s Button, Columbia Valley.  This appears to be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot sourced from three vineyards planted in 1972, 1988, and 2000.  The nose did not give up much at all.  In the mouth it was very tight with any fruit clinging to the firm but approachable structure.  My first impression is that the structure was outliving the fruit.  I did revisit it an hour later and there seemed to be a very focused core of subtly ripe blue and black fruit coming out.  As an alternative Julia opened the 2009 Convergence Zone Cellars, Storm Front, Red Mountain.  She figured I had never heard of this wine and she was right.  This is a blend of 39% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Malbec which was produced in nearby Woodinville.  It sees a chunk of new oak and it certainly comes out in the flavors.  The fruit does stand up to it in an attractive, seamless package.

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For another dinner I met Clark and Julia at Bar Sajor in  Pioneer Square.  This restaurant is in the same group as Sitka & Spruce and bar ferd’nand.  It was a few years ago that I was first introduced to the 2010 Matteo Correggia, Anthos at bar ferd’nand.  I spied the 2011 Matteo Correggia, Anthos on the well-edited and interesting wine list.  Of course I ordered it.  This wine is 100% Brachetto sourced from vines planted in 1975.  The fruit is only briefly macerated so the color is rather light for a red wine.  Despite the light color the nose is highly aromatic and there is good depth to the flavors.  I strongly recommend you seek this out.

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The last wine I tried during my trip was the 2010 COR Cellars, Momentum.  I really enjoyed the 2009 I tasted last year so of course I grabbed this bottle of 2010.  This wine is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot, 26% Merlot, and 14% Malbec which is very similar to the previous vintage.  This was a cooler year than 2009 and I think it shows.  There were concentrated black fruit flavors, good extract, a sweet chocolate note, and the impression it needs a year to open up.  However, it came across a little muddled and rough in the finish.  It is still a decent wine for the money but it also shows how good the 2009 is.

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The Hungarian Wines of the Sauska Family

Sauska Wines was founded by Christian Sauska.  It is a family run winery involving Christian and his wife Andrea.  Christian began producing wine in the early 2000s and with a serious interest in developing the winery he employed Paul Hobbs as a consultant from 2003-2009.  In 2009 he brought on Stefano Chioccioli as consultant who has focused much attention on the indigenous varietals.  Christian produces wines using a blend of indigenous and international varietals.  The fruit is sourced from and also produced in two different locations, Tokaj in north-east Hungary and Villány  in the south-west.

Christian Sauska, Image from Sauska Wines

Christian Sauska, Image from Sauska Wines

In Tokaj, Gábor Rakaczki is the winemaker and Stefano Dini is the Vineyard Manager.  The Tokaj vineyards are the older of the two with 80% of the vineyards 15-20 years old and 20% 1-12 years old.  The older vines show more terroir so they are often used for single-vineyard wines whereas the ever-changing young vines are typically blended.  The Tokaj vineyards are actually spread across 23 sites encompassing some 70 hectares.  The vineyards are located at 160-240 meters on brown loamy soils with volcanic rocks.  The separation helps insulate against hail damage, rain, and disease but it complicates vineyard work and the harvest.  These vineyards are planted with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Hárslevelű, Sárgamuskotály, and Pinot Noir.  The vines are trained regular cordon because the volcanic soil retains and releases heat.  Too low a training would make for dirty grapes when it rains and increase the difficulty of vineyard work.  The vineyards are farmed to reduce chemical use and to be extra careful for vineyards meant to experience botrytis.  They even employ horses in the steeper areas.   The wine is produced in a centuries old building located in the center of Tokaj.  This building is a historic monument which already had an old cellar.  Though they faced many regulations in the conversion to a winery they are now able to press the grapes above street level so they can employ gravity to move the juice to the cellar.  To help keep the cellar clean they use germicidal lamps instead of chemicals.

Volcanic Soil in Tokaj, Image from Sauska Wines

Volcanic Soil in Tokaj, Image from Sauska Wines

In Villány, Laszlo Latorczai is the winemaker and Peter Pohl is the Vineyard Manager.  The Villány vineyards  were mostly planted in 2004 and 2005 though there is one Merlot vineyard named Kopár which was planted in 1992.  They have recently planted Kadarka.  The vineyards are spread across six sites encompassing some 60 hectares.  The Villány vineyards are located at 150-300 meters on limestone, clay, and brown loam.  These vines are trained medium-high cordon though they are experimenting with Guyot.  There are also some bush vines on the higher elevation vineyards which are difficult to reach.  They employ a combination of ground cover and plowing and periodically switch them up.  The ground cover is particularly important to minimize evaporation in the steeper sites.  Sometimes they even employ straw bails.  The wine is produced at a new winery with the first vintage being 2006.  The fruit and juice from these vineyards are kept completely separate until they are fully raised.

With the indigenous varietals they use a mixture of massal and clonal selections.  In Tokaj they are working with massal selections of Furmint and in Villány clones of the indigenous Kadarka.  During the communist era many different clones of Kadarka were used because it was suitable for mass production.  They are currently studying 15 different clones together with the University of Pécs and the Heimann Family Winery in Szekszárd.  For the international varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc they used French and Italian rootstock and clones.

Barrels in Tokaj Cellar, Image from Sauska Wines

Barrels in Tokaj Cellar, Image from Sauska Wines

The 2010 vintage was extremely rainy in both Villány and Tokaj so the major goal was just to save the fruit.  The 2011 vintage in Villány was well balanced with a long ripening period.  The 2012 vintage was a challenge in Villány.  Though Villány is the most Mediterranean region in Croatia the heat is uneven and dramatic.  This vintage brought intense heat which caused the young vines to suffer.  They do not use an irrigation system so the older vines with deep roots fared better.  August brings further troubles with annual storms and hail which inevitably destroys fruit.

Three of the Sauska wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.  The 2010 Sauska, Cuvee 113 seems to show its volcanic origins with stone notes in the mouth.  It was the 2012 Sauska, Villányi Rosé and the 2011 Sauska, Cuvee 13 which were  my favorite of the three.  The rosé had an attractive, vibrant color which made way to hard red fruit, chalky minerals, and texture.  This may be drunk through next year’s release.  The later Cuvee 13 featured acidity driven flavors which combined with the tannins to stick to the mouth.  I would be tempted to keep this in the cellar until winter.  Many thanks to Andrea Sauska along with Laszlo Latorczai and Gábor Rakaczki for answering my many questions and providing images for this post.

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2010 Sauska, Cuvee 113, Tokaj – $18
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Furmint, 17% Harslevelu, 11% Chardonnay, 9% Sauvignon Blanc, and 3% Yellow Muscat.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, then aged for six months in 90% stainless steel and 10% used French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light gold straw.  The nose was very finely textured with aromas of white fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were tart at first than they became tangy with a little weight spreading throughout the mouth.  There were firm, whiter fruit which with air took on an earthy note, dried herbs, and stones.  It maintained the crisp start with lots of acidity in the throat.  ** Now – 2016.

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2012 Sauska, Villányi Rosé, Villány – $14
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 50% Kekfrankos, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Merlot.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts then aged 1-4 months in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium, brilliant copper, pink, rose.  The nose was enjoyable with red fruit and some lees.  In the mouth there were lots of acidity at first then flavors of hard red fruit with chalky minerals.  There was a little weight to the fruit.  Cherry flavors came out with warmth and revealed the wine to have a more structured style.  There was a chalky, textured aftertaste.  ** Now – 2014.

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2011 Sauska, Cuvee 13, Villány – $19
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 37 % Cabernet Franc, 37 % Cabernet Sauvignon, and 26 % Syrah.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts, underwent pump over, punch down, and delestage.  It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged four months in a combination of stainless steel and used French oak. Alcohol 14%.  The subtle nose eventually revealed a low-lying mulberry aroma.  The initial flavors were surprisingly good with acidity driven black and red fruit causing salivation.  The firm red flavors were integrated into the firm structure which had good, grapey tannins.  All of this stuck to the inside of the lips.  The wine was tart and textured in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2018.

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Trying a Few New Wines in Seattle

June 21, 2013 2 comments

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I grabbed several bottles of Washington State wine during my first evening in Seattle.  I picked them solely because I knew nothing about the producers.  I tried two of these wines during the course of my stay because the pure bottlings of Graciano and Cabernet Franc sounded interesting.  My favorite of the pair is the 2010 Idilico, Graciano made by Spanish winemaker Javier Alfonso.  He previously worked for Pomum Cellars.  Apparently the Graciano was planted at Upland Vineyands specifically for Javier’s use.   I believe these vines must have been planted in the mid 2000s because Full Pull Wines states the 2009 Pomum Tinto was the first Washington wine to incorporate Graciano.  In any event, this was a pretty good wine drunk out of a hotel tumbler.  I would have bought another bottle to bring back home for a second taste but I decided to carry back two other Idilico wines.  So if you are in Seattle, grab a bottle!  The 2010 PB Wines, Cabernet Franc is no cool-climate Cabernet Franc.  It is sourced from the Weinbau Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope.  This is a ripe and athletic version which could stand a little time to settled down.  While it is a little bit too much for me it should appeal to many.  These wines were purchased at Whole Foods on 64th St.

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2010 Indilico, Graciano, Snipes Mountain, Yakima Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Graciano sourced from the Upland Vineyard in Snipes Mountain AVA.  The nose was complex with herbal and floral black fruit with a bitters-like complexity.  There was a lot of good flavor in the mouth which became drier as floral black fruit clung to the mouth.  There was tart acidity on the lips and tangy fruit with ripe,drying tannins giving substance to the wine.  *** Now-2017.

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2010 PB Wines, Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for two years in 60% neutral French oak and 40% new French oak.  The light nose revealed toasty, purple fruit.  There was a ripe and rich start to this mouthfilling but not creamy wine.  There was lots of fruit which was a little rough in the middle.  The fruit had density and ripe tannins which could stand another year of age.  In the end this is a big and ripe Cabernet Franc with gobs of flavor.  **(*) 2014-2018.

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There is Peloursin in my Ridge Petite Sirah

June 20, 2013 1 comment

The Ridge, Petite Sirah is a wine I cannot recall seeing before on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.  I also cannot recall having tasted a wine which included the varietal Peloursin.  Peloursin crossed with Syrah to produce Durif or Petite Sirah.[1]  Durif was first discovered then propagated in the vineyard of Dr. Francois Durif.  The earliest mention of “plant du rif” may be found in 1868.[2]  It was noticed by the Ampelographic Society of Viticulture Lyon in 1869 when they visited Michel Perret’s vineyards in Tullins.  During the visit Dr. Durif’s vines came to their attention.[3]   In describing the dominant varietals in the area they noted such vines as “la marsanne noire ou petite sirah” and “plant durif noir.”  As for the plant durif noir they noted it was introduced by Dr. Durif but he failed to tell them how it came about.  By 1878, plant durif noir was noted in Hermann Goethe’s Ampelographisches worterbuch.[4]  Durif was introduced to California by Charles McIver in 1884 founder of Linda Vista Winery near Mission San Jose.  He subsequently renamed it Petite Sirah.  These old Petite Sirah vineyards did not include pure plantings of just Durif but also included other varietals such as Peloursin and Syrah.

Linda Vista Winery, Mission San Jose, Sanborn Fire Map, 1897. Image from DSCQHR Excavation 2011.

Linda Vista Winery, Mission San Jose, Sanborn Fire Map, 1897. Image from DSCQHR Excavation 2011.

Four years later in 1888, the 1886 vintage of “Petite Syrah” from the St. Helena fruit of the Experimental Cellar of the State Viticultural Commission was presented.[5]  Two other entries include the 1887 vintages from Charles McIver of Mission San Jose as well as the 1887 vintage from H. W. Crabb of Oakville.  In January of 1889 two bottles of the 1886 vintage from the Experimental Cellar were sent by Clarence J. Wetmore to the Paris Exposition via the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. [6]

In the 1890s The California Agricultural Experiment Station was researching the grafting of different varietals on different rootstocks.  In 1905, the Experimental Stations provides a quote from Paul Masson, San Jose in the section “Experience of Growers. Wine Grapes.” [7]

I have quite a few acres of 11-year-old vines grafted on Rupestris St George, including the following varieties: Carignane, Mondeuse, Alicante Bouschet, Aramon, Grand Noir, Durif, Grenache, Pinot Semillon, Sauvignon vert, Folle blanche, Colombar, Pinot blanc. These are all doing very well, and, if anything, more vigorous and prolific than ungrafted vines of the same age. Carignane and Grenache. 12 years old on St George. have never failed to give a large crop and Aramon also seems very prolific.

Paul Masson appears to be the only one in the Bulletin who identifies the varietal as Durif. While he would have grafted the Durif vines around 1894, it is unclear if he always identified it as Durif instead of Petite Sirah.  Throughout the Bulletin are references to “Petite Sirah” which is not surprising given that it was planted in such areas as Amador County, Fresno, East Side Mission San Jose, West Side Cupertino, and Paso Robles.  Note the slight name changed from “Petite Syrah” to “Petite Sirah.”  A decade later in Bulletin 246 in the section “Vine Pruning in California” there is a paragraph about “Varieties which usually require long pruning.”  In this paragraph both Durif and Petite Sirah are listed.[8]

As for the wines, I highly recommend both but just be sure to cellar them for at least a few years.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Ridge, Petite Sirah, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 88% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel,  2% Syrah, and 2% Peloursin.  The fruit was destemmed, whole berry fermented with indigenous yeasts the underwent malolactic fermentation followed by aging in American oak.  Alcohol 14.3%.  The medium dark color was purple and grapey.  The nose was  a little pungent.  In the mouth there were fine, focused flavors, fine extract with strength but was still a refined wine.  There was a youthful, grapey note.  With air there were perfumed violets, a racy hint in the month, and pungent flavors.  There were very fine, ripe grapey tannins which I found pleasant.  ***(*) 2015-2030.

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2009 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley – $30
This wine is a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, and 6% Carignan.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were focused flavors of blueberry and blackberry which had a powdery aspect with impeccable acidity.  There were darker, lifted flavors in the finish which continued into the aftertaste.  While the aftertaste was deep it was not heavy and left the notion of fine, grapey extract in the mouth.  The wine became savory with, perhaps, a little glycerine.  Should develop well.  ***(*) 2015-2028.

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[1] UC Davis Viticultural Information. URL:http://iv.ucdavis.edu/Viticultural_Information/?uid=13&ds=351. Last Accessed: 20 June 2013.
[2] Cherpin, De. Revue des jardins et des champs. 1868.
[3] Société des agriculteurs de France. Comptes rendus des travaux de la Société des agriculteurs de France, Volume 4. 1873.
[4] Goethe, Hermann. Ampelographisches wörterbuch. 1878.
[5] Report of the Sixth Annual State Viticultural Convention.  1888.
[6] State Office. Annual Report for the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners for 1889-1890. 1890.
[7] Grape Culture in California. University of California Publications Bulletin 197. 1908.
[8] Bioletti, Frederick T. Vine Pruning in California Part II. University of California Publications Bulletin 246. 1914.

Tasting Austrian and Italian Wines With Lou

June 18, 2013 3 comments

Lou came over last week so we could catch up and taste some wines.  He had recently been in San Francisco where he drank interesting wines from Huet, Donkey & Goat, Clos Saron, Ferret, and Broc Cellars at such places at Locals Corner and Terroir.  As attractive as his experience was we ended up having a pretty good night.  The 2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent was in fine shape.  It was showing maturity but not much complexity and was best drunk up on the first night.  The 2009 Weingut Arachon T. FX. T. Evolution was an interesting wine.  Weingut Arachon T. FX. T.  was started as a joint venture between Tibor Szemes, F.X. Pichler, and Manfred Tement.  After the passing of Tibor Szemes his widow jointed the venture.  A cooperative of twenty-five growers provide their best Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine is then produced at the Arachon winery.  From both the first sniff and taste it is evident this is a serious wine meant to be aged.  I suspect the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot give it a bit of heft.  I would try this again in a few years when it might be even better.  I stared at the back of the 2010 Rosso Azzurro, A Crush on Mt. Eta, Nerello Mascalese label for sometime.  The graphics of the moon and lady bug looked familiar, even the font did.  It turns out this wine is the project of Jean-Marc of Domaine Rouge-Bleu.  There was pretty high-altitude volcanic fruit but the structure makes itself present and could use some integration.  Perhaps this will happen in a few years.  The 2007 I Custodi, Aetneus was a good wine.  I seemed to have drunk it more for enjoyment than for taking notes.  It was more athletic than the Rosso Azzurro and would work out well with food.  Lastly are the pair of wines from La Stoppa.  I recently tasted the 2010 La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso with Charles Gendrot of Williams Corner Wine.  I must agree with Phil that particular bottle was a bit bretty and took some work to get through.  This bottle was completely different and all about fresh and ripe red fruit.  Enjoyable and well priced.  I believe La Stoppa is a low sulphur winery so perhaps there will be some bottle variation.  The 2007 La Stoppa, Barbera Della Stoppa was the more serious of the two.  It showed more concentration and was also more rugged, perhaps the pure Barbera nature coming through.  I would stick this in the cellar and drink the Trebbiolo Rosso in the mean time.  As always Lou and I split the leftover wine making sure to inject a good dose of Private Preserve.  When I went to open a bottle of red wine for Jenn and I to actually drink she exclaimed, “Why? I really like these wines.”

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2004 Gernot Heinrich, St. Laurent, Burgenland –
Imported by Vin Divino.  This wine is 100% St. Laurent sourced from 5-35 year old parcels in on high slopes at 140 meters in Gols. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in both stainless steel and wooden vats, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for ten months in used oak barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was almost mature with a little wood aromas.  In the mouth there was a slightly tart start with red fruit and acidity on the tongue.  The wine rounded out a bit with black fruit.  Best on the first night.  ** Now-2015.

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2009 Weingut Arachon T. FX. T., Evolution, Mittel Burgenland – $35-$40
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of  Blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a good, assertive nose with almost floral pepper aromas and fine old perfume. The mouth follows the nose with black fruit and old perfume.  There was a firmness to the flavors which became racy towards the finish with a good aftertaste and watering acidity.  Serious.  *** Now-2020.

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2010 Rosso Azzurro, A Crush on Mt. Eta, Nerello Mascalese, Sicily – $30
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from old-vines at 600 meters. The fruit was partially destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top barrels then aged for one year in two neutral 500 liter barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose bore powdery ripe red berry fruit and eventually minerally, black and red fruit developed.  In the mouth there was a fine firm structure which builds up until the drying tannins stick to the lips.  With air a very delicate, pepper and graphite flavor comes out.  The flavors are attractive but the structure suggests it needs age to both resolve and integrate with the fruit.  There was watering acidity in the end.  **(*) Now-2018?

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2007 I Custodi, Aetneus, Etna Rosso – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio sourced from 100+ year old vines at 750 meters.   The fruit is 80% destemmed then fermented in stainless steel vat before malolactic fermentation and 20 months aging in used barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a distinctly Sicilian nose of ripe aromas and perhaps mulberry.  The mouth follows the nose with a good amount of fruit.  The tannins were obvious early on but mix well with the dry flavors and minerals.  Despite my short note I did like it.  Drink with food.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 La Stoppa Trebbiolo Rosso, Emilia IGT – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Bonarda macerated on the skins for 20 days then fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel.  There was a bright nose of berry fruit and toasted spices.  The flavors were rich in the mouth with ripe cranberry and other youthful, ripe red, fresh fruit.  Well done.  With air there were gobs of fresh red young fruit to which the acidity played a supporting roll.  There was almost a grapey pulp texture.  *** Now-2015.

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2007 La Stoppa, Barbera Della Stoppa, Emilia IGT – $32
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from 25-45 year old vines macerated on the skins for 30 days then fermented with indigenous yeasts.  It was aged for one year in used barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The first whiff was of almost stewed fruit but then the nose became articulate.  The articulated scent follows in the mouth with a very ethereal earthy flavor and brambly nature.  With air the wine became more pebbly with earthy fruit, a hint of Pilsner, and a fine, drying structure of tannins left on the lips.  This definitely needs age.  A ripe red raspberry flavor came out but there is more to this wine.  It was a  little rugged and yeasty in the aftertaste.  *** 2015-2023.

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Indigenous Rioja Varietals with Vibrant Rioja

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Last week I attended the Indigenous Varietals Tasting hosted by Vibrant Rioja at Ripple in Washington, DC. It was led by Aaron Gordon (Vibrant Rioja) and David Denton (Sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse). Also present was Ana Fabiano (US Trade Director of the Rioja DOC) whom I had the pleasure of sitting next to. It was through Pia Mara Finkell (CRT/tanaka), who represents Vibrant Rioja, that I was invited. The afternoon begin with a seminar tasting in the dinning side of the restaurant where each setting featured three glasses of white wine and four glasses of red wine. Aaron Gordon delivered an introduction to each wine as David Denton led us through the actual tasting of the wines. The wines we tasted represented both rare wines such as pure bottlings of Tempranillo Blanco and Graciano to traditional Tempranillo red blends.

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Three of the wines I tasted were pure varietals I had never encountered before. I was not alone for this was the first time many people tasted a wine made of Tempranillo Blanco. In this case the 2011 Conde de Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco. Tempranillo Blanco was only discovered in 1988 by Juan Carlos Sancha when a branch of a Tempranillo vine produced albino fruit. Since then it has been propagated but there are less than 10 producers bottling this type of wine. Maturana Tinta represents less than 100 hectares of vines in Rioja. This represents less than 0.5% of production and as such only five producers bottle this varietal. The 2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta was my first experience. The fruit for this wine was sourced from younger vines providing a grapey nature. Though I have tasted many wines which include Graciano this was my first pure experience. The 2006 Contino, Graciano represents a movement from the early 1990s to save indigenous varietals such as Graciano and Mazuelo. The Contino vineyard was originally planted to provide Graciano for the Reserva wines. But it proved enjoyable on its own and was expanded.

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2011 Conde de Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja – $39
Imported by The Country Vintner. The distinct nose stepped out of the glass. The tropical aromas were piercing and very finely textured. The flavors were round in the mouth with steely acidity underneath. The flavors dried with air becoming tangy with white fruit, lemon, and both grip and lift in the finish.

2008 Palacios Remondo, Placet, Virua – $
The fruit was sourced from vineyards planted in the 1980s. This was fermented and aged in oval French oak. The nose was subtler with richer aromas and some weight. In the mouth the flavors were weightier and rounder. It still showed fruit given the age with gentle citrus notes, some complexity, and herbs.

2012 Bodegas Ostatu, Rosado, Rioja – $16
Imported by De Maison Selections. This wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Virua. This was a salmon/dried-rose color. The nose was complex with perfume, fresh berries, and some fermentation aromas. The mouth followed the nose with good weight, creamy nature, and fresh red fruit. The acidity was integrated. There was a very fine, ripe texture left in the mouth. Good complexity, nice wine.

2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $56
Imported by Southern Wines. This was very aromatic expressing fresh aromas. In the mouth the flavors were fresh with an earthy component. There were herbal and greenhouse flavors mixing with red and black fruit before firmer black fruit came out. This grapey wine tastes of young fruit.

2006 Vinedos del Contino, Graciano, Rioja – $175
Imported by Europvin. Alcohol 14%. The nose revealed herbs and butterscotch. In the mouth the tart red fruit mixed with pepper as a drying nature and acidity came out. There were tight, black fruit flavors.  I tried a second bottle at the tasting session and it proved to be much more open and interesting.

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The 1995 Otanon, Reserva includes a fair amount of Garnacha from Rioja Baja. Otanon has grown Garnacha for ages and still does today. They ignored the 1990s movement to increase Tempranillo planting at the expense of ripping up existing Garnacha vines.

1995 Ontanon, Reserva, Rioja – $
Imported by Cavatappi Distribuzione. There was a hint of tobacco and leather in the subtle nose. Also, perhaps, some spearmint. In the mouth the red fruit showed some tartness and ripeness followed by a fresh middle. There was a little wood hint and gentle ripeness.

2001 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja – $
There was a tight, subtle nose with floral aromas. In the mouth there was plenty of acidity with a raspberry flavored start then firm black and red fruit. The flavors were young with some salivating acidity. This was balanced all around and should age well.

After the seminar we all grabbed a glass then moved over to the bar side of Ripple. Arrayed along the entire length of the very long bar were dozens upon dozens of bottles of Rioja. Interspersed were various platters of food. There was space by the front portion of the bar which is where I stayed for the remainder of the event. By pure chance there was a bottle with an old lead capsule right in front of me. I took a close look to read the faded label and saw 1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva. Aaron Gordon selected the wines for the event and clearly he decided to have some fun. Most of the selections were locally sourced but there were also wines from New York City. Most of the bottles were priced between $10 and $20 but there were enough wines in the Reserva, Gran Reserva, and Library selections of which I was standing in front of.  It was a casual pour-yourself tasting so I picked up the old green bottle and poured a taste of the 1969.

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It was hard not to enjoy the 1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva for its age alone. There was still plenty of structure and acidity to last for the ages and while not the most complex wine, it maintained just enough ripe, black fruit to be a decent drink. The 1987 La Rioja Alta, Vina Arana was one of my favorites of the lineup. The maturity, balance, and texture suggest it is entering a period of fantastic drinking. The 2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904 was much more evolved than the 2001 and to me was a great old-school wine. I thought the 1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Vina Albina added an appealing mixture of forest aromas to its earthy nature. In a more modern fruit-forward manner was the 2001 Marques de Riscal, Gran Reserva which should have broad appeal. More expensive and more serious was the 2007 Artadi, Pago Viejos.

Aaron Gordon and Ana Fabbiano

Aaron Gordon and Ana Fabiano

I saw many other friends and acquaintances such as Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like), Annette and Christian Schiller (Schillier Wine), Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Howard Friedman (South River Imports), and Warren Richard (Virginia Wine Time). Towards the end I gathered at a cocktail table with Frank and Warren to have a bit to drink. I found the 2008 Ad Libitum, Maturana Tinta and 2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta hit the spot.

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1969 Marques de Riscal, Reserva, Rioja – $N/A
Imported by Peninsula Wines. Alcohol 12.5%. There were roast flavors along with some fruit and leather in this solid wine. It smells of its age. The acidity and structure was still holding up and even the fruit took on some weight with air. There were rather focused ripe, black fruit flavors, and a drying nature. Holding on well and still of interest.

1981 Bodegas Beronia, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $N/A
Imported by The San Francisco Wine Exchange. Alcohol 13%. This bottle had a funky nose of stewed fruit. The mouth follows the nose with ripe, red fruit, acidity, and tartness. Not as good as the 1969 Riscal.

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2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja – $44
Imported by The Country Vintner. This was immediately expressive with earthy, old-school aromas. The flavors were expansive in the mouth with some drying tannins. Much more open than the 2001. A nice wine.

2001 Marques de Riscal, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $49
Imported by Southern Wines. The nose was ripe with spices, wood box, and good fruit. The fruit continued in the mouth with wood box, mature notes, and good depth. In a sense the fruitiness and ability to age reminded me of a maturing Southern Rhone wine. This will age.

2001 Marques de Caceres, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $28
Imported by Bacchus Importers. There was lower-lying weight and concentration to this wine. It took on black fruit with air. Ripe tannins left texture in the mouth but the ultimately drying tannic structure shows this requires age.

1987 La Rioja Alta, Vina Arana, Rioja – $99
Imported by Michael Skurnik. The nose was interesting with fruit, wood box, and spices. In the mouth there were ripe raspberry flavors with both controlled ripeness and weight in the back sides of the mouth. There were ethereal mature notes and a stimulating texture from the pebbly structure. A nice wine.

1998 Bodegas Riojanas, Vina Albina, Rioja – $62
Imported by The Country Vintern. The nose was earthy and bore forest aromas. There was a core of red fruit in the mouth along with earthy flavors. It slowly built ripe raspberry notes along with youthful, grippy red fruit. Nice.

2005 Muga, Prado Enea, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $47
Imported by The Country Vintner. The expressive nose was floral. In the mouth there were focused ripe black fruit, black minerals, and a youthful nature. There was good, ripe and grippy tannins which coated the lips and tongue.

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2008 Ad Libitum, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $38
Imported by Frontier Wine Imports. The nose revealed floral and herbal aromas, perhaps Indian. The moth follows the nose with far more spices. A rather interesting wine.

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2009 Dinastia Vivanco, Maturana Tinta, Rioja – $56
Imported by Southern Wines. The nose mixes the herbal spiced with more ripe fruit. The herbal spices due develop in the mouth but this remains a more forward, fruity wine with pepper notes and fresh finish.

2005 CUNE, Vina Real, Rioja – $40
Imported by Bacchus Importers. The flavors were a bit more dense with ripe black fruit and grippy texture. The fruit was very much evident but still showed good balance. There were berry flavors in the aftertaste.

2004 OGGA, Reserva, Rioja – $60
Imported by T. Edwards. The flavors showed more bright red fruit mixing with black fruit. The tartness and acidity builds into the middle. Solid.

2004 Muga, Prado Enea, Gran Reserva, Rioja – $60
Imported by The Country Vintner. The nose revealed orange peel aromas. In the mouth there was good red fruit, raspberry, along with a firm structure and a finish of citric, drying structure. Young.

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2007 Artadi, Paco Viejos, Rioja – $115
Imported by Folio Fine Wine. This was clearly a serious wine with more modern grip, density, and modern structure. Perfumed violets came out in the finish.

After the tasting Frank, Warren, and I went out for some wine. There was a small dinner in which Frank and I were to attend so there were a few hours to pass. Frank suggested a bottle of Champagne would recharge ourselves for the evening. The Nicolas Feuillatte certainly made the time fly by and I soon found myself walking into Bourbon Steak at The Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown.

The Author and Frank Morgan

The Author and Frank Morgan

There were nine people at the dinner including Ana Fabiano, Pia Mara Finkell, David White (Terroirist), Rebecca Canan (Terroirist), Tai-Ran Niew (tiarannew), and Lou Marmon (grapelines).  Upon my first invitation to the event I emailed Pia about my interest in the history of Rioja and she in turn forwarded my email to Ana Fabiano who published The Wine Region of Rioja last year.  A part of my evening was spent discussing Iñigo Manso de Zuñiga Ugartechea and his great grand uncle who planted a vineyard in the late 1860s then went on to become the second director of the Oenologic Research Station in Haro.  This vineyard survived phylloxera and it now provides the fruit for Iñigo’s Conde de Hervias wines.  Due to my interest Ana provided his only locally available wine the 2008 Mencos, Crianza.  For tasting notes on Iñigo’s other wines please see my 2013 Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting: De Maison Selections.

Image from El Progresso agricola y pecuario. 30-4-1900, no. 192, National Library of Spain.

Image from El Progresso agricola y pecuario. 30-4-1900, no. 192, National Library of Spain.

Rebecca kindly brought bottles of 2000 Dom Perignon which made for a festive start. There was much talk about the extensive number of family owned vineyards and parcels in Rioja and how the valleys produce fruit of different character. Much of the wine produced is a blend from these various vineyards and produced in a manner to provide a consistent house style. There appears to be excitement in single-vineyard wines from Rioja as in Burgundy, so in that spirit Lou brought a bottle of Nuits-Saint-Georges.  Though a casual and festive day there was such a range of wines available that with focus I had quite an experience.

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2011 Valdemar, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja
This was the fruitier of the two Tempranillo Blanco with focused berries and a finely scented nose of cotton candy. There was focus and weight to the flavors followed by salivating acidity in the finish.

2009 Ad Libitum, Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja
Ad Libitum is the micro-winery of associated Professor Juan Carlos. The nose was more pungent and aromatic, easily standing out of the glass. The nose was almost sweaty before the vibrant flavors and acidity on the tongue. Perhaps a touch of the lees.

2003 Lopez de Heredia, Gravonia, Blanco, Rioja
This was much different with an expansive middle of nutty and oily flavors. It was serious and persistent.

2012 Bodegas Ostatu, Rosado, Rioja
This revealed good fruit on the nose. In the mouth it was vibrant, grippy with ripe, gravelly fruit that dances on the tongue. Cooler than what was tasted at the seminar and satisfying at that.

2008 Conde de Hervias, Mencos, Crianza, Rioja
There was a low-lying nose. In the mouth the fruit was determined to play it close. With air it begin to expandin the mouth with red and black fruit. Tasty.

1995 Otanon, Reserva, Rioja
This remained fruit driven on the nose. In the mouth it was ripe and grippy with up-front acidity and a fine gravelly texture. The flavors were of blue and black fruit.

2000 La Rioja Alta, Gran Reserva 904, Rioja
The nose was a little earthy. In the mouth there were tart red flavors, acidity, and a little spicy hint. It still had concentration and had old-school flavors in the finish.

2009 Artadi, Vinas de Gain, Rioja
There were youth fruit and fermentation aromas on the nose. In the mouth there were ripe spices and fruit in this young, forward wine. It took on potpourri and a little cinnamon. Young but attractive.

2005 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, Nuits-Saint-Georges
There were black fruit flavors which opened up nicely in the black. Young and firm it shows good future potential.

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Four Recently Enjoyed French Wines

Today’s post features four French wines which I recently tasted.  Both the 2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie and the 2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau are youthful wines which I highly recommend.  They both remind me of clean, fresh fruit.  Take a close look at the Rimbert label for the “2011” vintage year is hand stamped over the old “2010.”  When I met Elisabeth Saladin of Domaine Saladin just over one year ago I got to taste the 2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune.  You may read my impressions of that and other wines in my post Tasting the Wines of Elisabeth Saladin at MacArthur Beverages.  Since then the wine has developed a pebbly texture and dried herbal flavors.   The 2007 Domaine de Alary, La Font d’Estevenas reveals riper fruit and more overall drive.  It has developed some maturity and should continue to do so over the next several years but will last longer.  I enjoyed all four wines but if I had to pick only two then I would go with the Domaine des Braves and the Domaine Rimbert. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine des Braves, Regnie – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  The whole-cluster fruit was fermented in cement.  Alcohol 13%.  The scented nose revealed good aromas of red currant and raspberry.  In the mouth there were fresh red berries and a tiny pepper note which mixed with the tart acidity and bit of structure.  The wine developed strawberry flavors and learn red fruit with black minerals.  There were very fine, grapey tannins.  *** Now-2016.

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2011 Domaine Rimbert, Les Travers de Marceau, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Carignan. Alcohol 12.5%.  The enjoyable nose revealed macerated raspberries and perfumed aromas.  In the mouth there were tart red flavors that were round.  The mouth then followed the nose with a very fine berry purple texture and grapey personality.  A nice wine!  *** Now-2016.

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2007 Domaine Saladin, Fan de Lune, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $20
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is mostly Mourvedre with some Grenache and Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines.  The vineyards are high in minerals with galets roules.  Vinification depends upon the varietal with aging for nine months in foudres.  Alcohol 11-14%.  In the mouth there was almost pebbly fruit which mixed with dried herbs.  The dry flavors mixed with the tannins.  It showed some weight with air along with flavors of dried herbs, a hint of citrus, and ripeish-wood box tannins.  ** Now-2017.

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2007 Domaine Alary, La Font d’Estevenas, Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from a vineyard planted in 1961.   Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was robust with mulberry and black grapey aromas.  The wine starts with ripe flavors of red and blue fruit, a hint of maturity, and a little tang.  There was some weight and drive to the fruit.  With air the flavors become drier with the mature notes developing in the middle.  The flavors expand in the mouth but the wine maintains a sense of lightness in the finish.  *** Now-2020.

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Tasting a Wine With Howard Friedman of South River Imports

June 11, 2013 1 comment

Through happenstance I recently met Howard Friedman of South River Imports.  He was at MacArthur Beverages with a sample of wine from Cellers Costers del Ros.  The lands of Cellers Costers del Ros have been owned by the Ros and Juanpere family since the 18th century.  Even the original wine cellar from this period still exists in the Casa Pairal of Cal Ros in Gratallops.  The wines were previously bottled but were not sold in the United States.  Just over one decade ago Antoni Gracia and his brother took over the winery from their father.  In 2002 the brothers rebuilt the winery to have a fermentation room, aging hall, bottling area, laboratory, and tasting room all of which feature up to date technology.  They started commercially producing wine in 2004.  Today there are 30 hectares of vines located across three different estates.  The fruit from these estates are used to produced three wines: L’Aubagues, L’Albada, and L’Obila.

Howard Friedman with brothers at Cellers Costers del Ros, Image from Howard Friedman (flickr).

Howard Friedman with brothers at Cellers Costers del Ros, Image from Howard Friedman (flickr).

A few years ago Howard was contacted by Antoni Gracia then subsequently visited the winery in 2011.  Last week Howard brought a bottle of the 2009 L’Aubagues to MacArthur Beverages to taste.  This wine is produced using fruit sourced from the youngest estate.  This vineyard is 35-50 years old and located at 900 feet.  The vineyards are quite steep so the slate soils are tilled by mule.  The Grenache and Carignan vines are trained en vaso and the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are trained espaldera.  The fruit goes through two stages of selection before destemming.  It is then fermented using indigenous yeasts in 3,000 liter stainless steel tanks followed by aging in small oak barrels.  Priorat can produce a big wine but the 2009 L’Aubagues is certainly not.  There was a ripeness to the nose but the mouth was gentle with pleasing expansion and youthful structure.  Please find my brief impression of what I tasted from a tiny wine glass below.  I will certainly purchase a bottle so I can find out what exactly is in the bottle.

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2009 Cellers Costers del Ros, L’Aubagues, Priorat –
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was destemmed then fermented in stainless steel tanks.  It was then aged in used oak barrels which were 70% French, 20% American, and 10% Yugoslav.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed interesting aromas of focused, ripe fruit.  The wine was lighter in the mouth with the interesting flavors following the nose.  The flavors were expansive with a drying structure that slowly build in the mouth.  With a brief bit of air it took on a gentle concentration.  Young, but will surely develop over the next several years.