The 2012 Domaine la Bouïssiere, Les Amis de la Bouïssiere delivers an impressive amount of good flavor for the price. The 2012 vintage could easily be a table wine for drinking over the next several years. This is a welcome return since I do not recall drinking any since the 2009 vintage. The 2010 Domaine Montirius, Les Clos, Vacqueyras is an attractive, modern Vacqueyras which has a clean and fresh flavor profile that matches its floral and mineral notes. While it is enjoyable now I would wait a few years for it to relax. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Domaine la Bouïssiere, Les Amis de la Bouïssiere – $14
Imported by Dionysos Import. This wine is a blend of 34% Merlot, 26% Syrah, 26% Caladoc, and 14% Grenache. Alcohol 14%. The nose billows forth red and black fruit. In the mouth was a bit of minerally black fruit which was concentrated with more minerals and cool flavors. There were powdery tannins which dried the gums making for obvious structure. This was actually a serious wine which is still a little firm. **(*) 2014-2019.
2010 Domaine Montirius, Les Clos, Vacqueyras – $24
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah sourced from vines averaging 25 years of age spent 12-18 months in concrete vats. Alcohol 14.5%. The lifted nose was fresh with Syrah aromas. In the mouth there was a slight, saline start before modern, young fruit flavors came out. There was a drying, tangy, and chewy structure from the start. It had good, young flavors and texture before taking on violets and black fruit in the finish. With air it revealed more minerality. *** Now-2024.
The recent government shutdown caused me to open several bottles which have been laying about for some time. The 2007 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone has taken its time to come around. My last tasting note appears in 2004 and 2007 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone where I commented it was still a bit spritzy as well as having gobs of tannins. The spritz has now disappeared, or this bottle never had any, providing a solid and slightly mature Cotes du Rhone. Robert Parker commented that the 2011s were bottled early to preserve fruit and this was evident in the very forward and fruity 2011 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone. I must admit I was surprised by all of the fruit, I guess I had a preconceived idea of what was in the bottle, but after the first taste I simply enjoyed it as it was. The 2011 is available at Weygandt Wines and the 2004 was originally purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 5% Mourvèdre. The Grenache and Carignan vines are over 60 years of age and the Mourvedre over 30 years of age. It was both fermented and aged in concrete. Alcohol 15%. There was lots of fresh blue and black berries on the nose, almost jammy with more mulberry on the second night. In the mouth the flavors of berry cobbler were clean with a little puckering trait but the ripeness kept it at bay. The acidity was supportive of the fruit. With air it continued to be a very forward , berrylicious wine for current consumption. It had some black graphite in the slightly rough and drying finish. *** Now-2016.
2007 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone –
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This cuvee is a blend of ~80% Grenache, ~15% Carignan, and ~5% Mourvedre. Alcohol 15%. This has finally integrated with no spritz at all. It has left a core of red and blue fruit, some mature aspects, and still has moderate structure. Easy to drink, it still has some ruggedness. ** Now-2016.
Plan Pegau really is not a second wine of Domaine du Pegau. The inclusion of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the first clues that this wine includes fruit from non Chateauneuf du Pape sources. As such, this selectionne of Laurence Feraud includes fruit from Costieres de Nimes. I did not get any of the so called “Pegau funk” with this bottle. Instead I was presented with a clean, honest wine which will make for a daily drinker over the next few years. The flavors did oscillate a bit, at times revealing something interesting, so it could be best to hold off on drinking this until the new year. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
NV Costieres et Soleil, Plan Pegau, Lot #2010 – $16
Imported by Hand Picked Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Carignan, 10% Merlot,5% Alicante, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cinsault sourced from various sites including estate vineyards and the Costieres de Nimes. The fruit was whole-cluster pressed then fermented in concrete vats followed by aging for six months in very oak French oak casks. Alcohol 13.5%. The restrained nose had hints of spiced fruit and complexity. In the mouth were flavors of hard red cherries and black fruit. There was slightly juicy acidity, a clean nature, with a hint of structure being in the form of a dry tannins in the finish. Everything was in balance with a slightly creamy aftertaste which brought some depth. It was a little firm and dry. ** Now-2017.
It appears that references to colonial winemaking in Maryland are a bit scarce. There are certainly accounts suggesting that wine should be made as in one from 1711 suggesting “a great many Britains will strive to live amongst them, for the Benefit of the sweet Air and healthful Climate, which that Country affords, were it only for the Cultivating of…Wine, and other valuable Staples, which those People are fully acquainted withal.”
In 1751 it was suggested that cuttings from the Rhine and Moselle would prosper best in such colonies at Virginia and Pennsylvania. For a colony like Maryland, cuttings from Madeira were deemed best. If the colonies produced wine as good as the south of France then the importation of wine from France could be reduced “which throws the balance of trade so much against us with that kingdom”. In 1763 it was stated that Maryland produced “excellent cyder for their own drinking” but apparently not wine. There were “vast quantities of grapes, that rot upon the ground in the woods, and which it is thought, if properly cultivated, might be made into a thin wholesome wine.” Those in Maryland imported wine for drinking from “Madeira, Fyal, and France.” John Mitchell wrote in 1767 that “It is well known in Virginia and Maryland, that even that climate is too hot to make good wine of any manured grapes they can get.” The “manured vine” was long considered the cultivated Vitis Vinifera. Instead these “grapes of Europe are summer fruits there, and make nothing but a vin du pays, fit only for present drinking.”
Despite the suggested lack of winemaking, it certainly was eventually made. We know from Thomas Pinney that Colonel Benjamin Tasker, Jr. planted a vineyard in 1755 or 1756 from which he bottled the 1759 vintage. Governor Horatio Sharpe informed Lord Baltimore of his plans to cultivate the grape in 1767. Most importantly, Charles Carroll planted a vineyard in Howard County which survived from 1770 to 1796.
In 1769, an interesting and informative article appeared in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. This article described a new grape variety found by John Jones of the Indian River, Worcester County, Maryland. Colonel John Jones was a member of the American Philosophical Society and invented both a mowing machine and manure spreader. On July 14, 1767, 181 acres were surveyed for the patent Unity which was granted to him on August 31, 1770. It is possible that this is where is vineyard was located and not Unity Grove which Colonel Jones managed but was owned by General John Dagworthy. The article merits a full reproduction for it describes where the grapevine grew, provides a botanical description, an indication of yield, a description of vinification, and a brief tasting note. The wine described would have been produced in 1768. It is also relevant because it notes that Colonel Jones had a vineyard at Indian River in 1769. The vineyard survived for some years because Colonel Jones was propagating these vines. On May 24, 1777 Charles Carroll wrote to his father that “G. Cadwallader has promised to procure for me some rooted plants of Jones Vines. You remember they are mentioned in the Pena. Philosophical publication.” The Carroll vineyards are commonly described as planted in 1770 with “Rhenish, Virginia grape, Claret, and Burgundy” vines. More research is required but it is possible the “Jones Vines” were as well.
THE bark (he fays) is of a grey colour, very smooth, and the wood of a firm texture. They delight in a high sandy soil; but will thrive very well in the Cyprus swamps. The leaf is very much like that of the English grape vine, such as is propagated in the gardens near Philadelphia for table use.
The grape is much larger than the English; of an oval shape, and when quite ripe, is black, adorned with a number of pale red specks, which on handling, rub off. The pulp is a little like the Fox-grape but in taste more delicious. These grapes are ripe in October, and yield an incredible quantity of juice, which, with proper management, he doubts not, would make a valuable wine.
He employed a person to gather about three bushels and one peck of them when ripe, and immediately had them pressed; which to his surprise, yielded twelve gallons of pure juice, though a good quantity must have been lost in the pressing.
In about twelve hours after putting the juice in a keg, it began to ferment, and he suffered it to go on till it got to be so violent, that it might be heard all over a large room. It continued in that state for three days. He then checked it fearing it might turn acid, though, he says he was afterwards convinced that if he had suffered it to ferment as long again, it would have separated the vinous parts from the fleshy, and given greater fineness to the liquor.
After this it was racked off, and before cold weather buried in the garden, the top about fix inches under ground; where having continued till the summer following, he could not discover that it had in the least altered either in taste or colour. He observes farther that, after eating a quantity of them, or drinking the juice, they leave an astringency, as claret is apt to do.
There is an immense quantity of these vines growing on the beach open to the sea; and they are also found in great plenty upon the ridges, and in the swamps. Since their discovery he has transplanted a number of them into his vineyard, from which in a year or two more, he expects to make a wine much better than is commonly imported.
I have not come across many references to storing wine in the ground from this period. In 1733, Francis Bacon wrote of burying a bottle of wine, presumably four feet underground. After two weeks it “became more lively, better tasted, and clearer” and after one month “came out as fresh and lively, if not better than at first.” The English translation of Don Marcello Di Venuti’s Description of the First Discoveries of the Antient City of Herculaeneum in 1750 describes how “In order to keep the famous and brisk Wine of the Antients, it was necessary that they should have these Vessels placed underground.” John Bell noted in Derbent, Persia, that the “people of substance there keep their wine in jars, buried underground, by which method it will keep good for years.” It is not known if Colonel Jones was inspired by these books to bury his wine or improvised cellar-like conditions because his house did not have a cellar. I am curious to hear of other colonial accounts of burying wine.
Worcester County is the eastern most county in Maryland having been founded in 1742. It encompasses the shoreline of Assateague, where Giovanni di Pier Andrea di Bernardo da Verrazzano noted grape vines during his visit in the 16th century, and The Great Cypress Swamp. At the time Colonel Jones discovered the new grape variety the Indian River Hundred was considered within Worcester County, Maryland. However, the border of Maryland was in dispute with both Pennsylvania and Delaware for some time. To settle the dispute the Transpeninsular Line was surveyed in 1751, agreed upon in 1760, and ratified by King George III in 1769. The Mason-Dixon Line was surveyed in 1763 and agreed upon in 1781. The Maryland border shifted south causing Indian River Hundred transitioning from Worcester County, locally known as Old Sussex to New Sussex. Thus the vineyard and wine produced by Colonel Jones was originally made in Worcester County, Maryland but is now known as Sussex County, Delaware.
The 2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Malbec and 2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Red Blend recently hit the shelves in Washington, DC. They are a bit hard to ignore because Robert Parker rated the Red Blend 95 Points declaring, “If this were a Napa Valley or Bordeaux red, it would undoubtedly be priced between $150.00-200.00.” I recently opened both of these bottles then tasted them after being double-decanted for three hours. They were both tight and not too interesting so I put them back in the Eurocave. The next day I tried them again. The Malbec had clean fruit but there was a bit too much oak for me. The Red Blend was certainly a step up in quality. Though it remained tight on the nose and in flavor, it had some good components and an incredible aftertaste. I kept marveling at the wine because the flavors in the aftertaste were exceedingly expansive and persistent. Even more so than when I had wine in my mouth. But that is the hitch, I was technically captivated rather than emotionally. I would be upset if I spent $200 on this wine but at $27 I would stash one away to see if it eventually opens up. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Malbec, Mendoza – $20
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is 100% Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. There were subtle hints of dark red fruit and warmth on the nose. In the mouth were fresh red and black fruit which alternated between a creamy and rugged feel. This youthful wine has a firm nature with a slightly rough finish with alternating notes of vanilla and oak. ** Now-2023.
2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Red Blend, Mendoza – $27
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Shiraz which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 10 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose remained subtle and tight. In the mouth were fresh, pure fruit flavors which played it close. There was some cool density to the increasingly purple fruit flavors. There was a really good aftertaste with black minerals. In fact the aftertaste was more intense than the finish with drying but not dry structure. Eventually, assertive, citric tannins came out. ***/***(*) Now-2025.
Before I met Phil and Lou I did not drink much wine from Beaujolais. I still do not automatically reach for a bottle but I am now always willing to try a recommendation and have gained new appreciation for these wines. The 2011 Chateau Gaillard, Beaujolais-Villages is one such recommendation from Phil which drank particularly great on the second night. That is the key, a satisfying wine which is easy to drink and affordable. The 2010 Centonze, Cerasuolo di Vittoria packed in more flavor than I expected. It drank best with some sir so either double-decant it or wait until the new year. The 2012 Compania de Vinos del Atlantico, La Cartuja is an affordable value from Priorat which has a bit of everything including minerality. I tasted the 2010 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux over a period of 12 hours and never found it particularly engaging for the price. It is quite approachable in a sense but it did improve with air and I believe it does need a few years to better integrate. I would spend $2 more to get the 2009 Domaine Barral, Faugeres. Lastly the 2008 Triennes, St. Auguste remained firm with a structure that overpowered the fruit and ultimately was not a wine that Jenn and I wanted to drink. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Chateau Gaillard, Beaujolais-Villages – $13
Imported by Oslo Enterprises. This wine is 100% Gamay. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light to medium cranberry ruby. The nose revealed a little pepper with light, ripe cranberry red fruit. There was a slight lifted note of citrus. In the mouth was moderately ripe red fruit with acidity on the tongue. With air the flavors became a bit denser with good texture in the aftertaste. It left tannins on the lips and gums. *** Now – 2015.
2010 Centonze, Cerasuolo di Vittoria – $17
Imported by deGrazia Imports. This wine is a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato sourced from limestone soils which was fermented then aged for six months in stainless steel. Alcohol 13.5%. There was a little pungent nose, perhaps with tar and some other scent. In the mouth were red and black fruit flavors which were a little tangy with acidity on the tongue tip. It then became juicy with a grapey and citric aspect. The moderate structure was appropriate for the good flavors. This packed in more than I suspected. **(*) 2014-2017.
2012 Compania de Vinos del Atlantico, La Cartuja, Priorat – $15
Imported by OLE. This wine is a blend of 70% Garnacha and 30% Carinena. There was a subtle nose of good fruit and “fresh cut grass” according to Jenn. In the mouth the wine had a certain athletic poise with its black fruit. It had slightly juicy acidity, a reasonably drying structure of crushed stones, and a little tart finish. This sappy, young wine was fresh tasting with moderate acidity. *** Now-2017.
2010 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph – $28
Imported by LVDH. Alcohol 14%. The nose revealed smoky tobacco, black fruit, and some toast. In the mouth were good ripe but firm fruit flavors. The wine was rugged in its youth with black fruit which was linearly delivered before dropping off in the finish. It left impressions of toast and black fruit. **(*) 2015-2023.
2008 Triennes, St. Auguste, VdP du Var – $17
Imported by The Sorting Table. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in used oak barrels followed by 10 months in tank. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose revealed a little fruit aromas along with greenhouse and some wood box. In the mouth this was a firm wine with black fruit, drying structure, and hollow flavors towards the finish. It was a bit tart with nice acidity and moderate structure. The structure continued to overpower the fruit. * Now but should last to 2018.
The legacy of the late Jess Jackson is carried on by Barbara Banke who became Chairman of the Jackson Family Estates two years ago. Though I was familiar Cardinale, La Jota, Lokoya, and Vérité I knew nothing about the wines I recently tasted with Kristen Reitzell. She oversees PR and as part of a national presence she reaches out at regional and local levels. During her recent trip to Washington, D.C. we spent the afternoon tasting through four wines. Cenyth, Galerie, Maggy Hawk, and Mt. Brave are all a part of the Jackson Family Estates yet they are individual wineries with different winemakers producing wine from their own vineyards. After tasting through the wines with Kristen I followed them over a couple more days.
The 2012 Galeria, Naissance, Sauvignon Blanc is the second vintage produced by Laura Diaz Muñoz. She was mentored for several years by Chris Carpenter (Mt. Brave). This wine opened up nicely revealing great texture and lively acidity. It drank well over the course of several days, always proving to be a satisfying glass, and an impressive wine which I would drink again. The 2007 Maggy Hawk, Stormin’ , Pinot Noir represents the inaugural vintage for this estate produced by Elizabeth Grant-Douglas. Maggy Hawk is the favorite thoroughbred horse of Barbara Banke and Stormin’ was born of Maggy Hawk. The fruit for this wine was sourced from a single block. This drank well with its balance between plentiful fruit, maturity, and mouthfeel, making this a bottle to open up now. The 2009 Mt. Brave, Cabernet Sauvignon is from a project of Chris Carpenter who produced this wine using high altitude fruit from Mt. Veeder. This bottle was clearly a serious wine with good flavors and the intended components for long-term aging. Well-done. The 2009 Cenyth is the inaugural vintage from the collaboration by Pierre Seillan (Vérité) and his daughter Helene. As the winemaker at Cenyth, Helene will change the composition of the blend with each vintage. This will reflect the progression of her mentorship with the wine ultimately being a reflection of her style. This particular bottle oscillated over three nights, at times giving a glimpse of a good future, but ultimately showing this wine really needs several years in the cellar.
Many thanks to Kristen for introducing me to these wines. I plan to look at these estates at an individual level so check back again in the future.
2012 Galerie, Naissance, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with 50% whole cluster fermentation and aged sur lie in 50% neutral French oak barrels and 50% stainless steel tanks. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light straw. The light to medium strength nose revealed yellow citrus and a little grassy hint. In the mouth were flavors of white citrus fruit, and a hint of ripe melon. There was a fine texture which built from the middle until it coated the mouth in the aftertaste. Some salivating acidity came out, spices, followed by a racy, mineral infused aftertaste. This responded well to extended air and maintained liveliness through acidity on the tongue, good texture, and length. *** Now-2016.
2007 Maggy Hawk, Stormin’, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was aged for 14-15 months in 50% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.3%. There was good complexity on the nose. In the mouth was a ripe, glycerine textured entry with fruit that mixed with integrated acidity. It bore a cinnamon spice hint in the black and red fruit which was a touch brambly. It showed some wood notes and bottle age. It even took on more power with air. *** Now-2015.
2009 Mt. Brave, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $75
This wine is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%. There was blue and black fruit, stone flavors, and a strong but supporting structure of very fine, drying tannins. This was clearly meant to age. After two days the nose bore some dense fruit and leather. In the mouth, the black fruit mixed with minerals, a hint of smoke, and some ink which was followed by a spicy finish and expansive aftertaste. ***(*) 2016-2030.
2009 Cenyth, Sonoma County – $60
This wine is a blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec. Alcohol 14.5%. There was cooler tasting fruit in this powdery, dense wine. There was a core of blue fruit, a hint of earth, and lipstick in the finish. This drank best on the second night with a rounder feel but the textured structure was starting to clamp down leaving a youthful profile on the third night. **(*) 2016-2026.