Archive for April, 2014

Pinot Fin and Fixin from Burgundy

It was noted that I do not drink many wines from Burgundy.  In an effort to correct this deficiency Phil and Joe recommended the two wines featured in this post.  Both of these wines represent efforts by a younger generation.   It took Lou to remind me that he opened a bottle of the 2009 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Pinot Fin, Bourgogne last year which I wrote about in Drinking New Wines With Lou.  That bottle of “Pascal Lachaux” was imported by Premier Cru whereas the bottle imported by MacArthur Liquors is labeled “Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux”.  This wine is produced by Pascal Lachaux who is the son-in-law of Robert Arnoux.  It is labeled as Pinot Fin because the fruit is mostly sourced from old rootstock bearing that name.  It offers up a somewhat meaty nose followed by good, clean fruit flavors in the mouth.  The 2010 Domaine Michel Noellat, Fixin was produced by the Michel’s sons Alain and Jean-Marc Noëllat.  Fove $5 more you get village level fruit and it really shows.  There was strong personality on the nose and in the mouth which was complemented by a grippy structure.  I really enjoyed its depth and at times simply found myself simply smelling my glass.  I heard that the first shipment of 2012s are due any day now.  Check back in the near future to find more Burgundy posts.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2009 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Pinot Fin, Bourgogne – $30
Imported by MacArthur  Liquors.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir from 60+ year old vines on old Pinot Fin rootstock sourced from blocks in several villages, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, and Nuit-Saint-Georges.  The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was slightly meaty with clean fruit.  In the mouth the clean fruit had an orange-citrus lift and lithe acidity.  The fruit became rounded with black flavors, making way to a gentle, clean aftertaste.  This remained young over two nights but is still drinkable now.  *** Now-2019.


2010 Domaine Michel Noëllat, Fixin – $35
Imported by Potomac Selections Inc.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a rather good news with some depth to the floral scented sweet fruit..  There were flavors of clean, Pinot Noir fruit that maintains the personality of the nose in the mouth.  This good wine had perfumed, brighter red fruit in the middle.  It was acidity driven and had enjoyable tannins contributing some cool, ripe grip.  *** Now-2020.


The Return of Chateau du Trignon

The wines of Chateau du Trignon have not appeared on this blog since we hosted a tasting of 1998 Gigondas back in 2008.  I suspect it has been almost as long since the Cotes du Rhone selections were last sold at MacArthur Beverages. These earlier vintages were made under Pascal Roux until 2007 when he sold the estate to Jerome Quiot.  Both the 2011 Chateau du Trignon, Cotes du Rhone and the 2009 Chateau du Trignon, Rasteau will benefit from another year in the cellar.  They both offer clean, if somewhat unexciting, flavors.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Chateau du Trignon, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by USA Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed firmer black fruit.  In the mouth the firm black fruit continued, tight and linear at first before taking on some spice in the finish followed by a little pebbly texture in the aftertaste.  ** 2015-2019.


2009 Chateau du Trignon, Rasteau – $20
Imported by USA Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache and Mourvedre  Alcohol 14%.  There were polished flavors of black and red fruit.  The acidity was there along with a subtle supporting structure.  With air it  took on some fresh, firm cherry fruit that morphed to fresh, blue fruit in the finish.  It remained polished in nature.  **(*) 2015-2020.


Sicilian Bargains

There are a lot of cool wines produced on Sicily but many of them can be maddeningly above my price range.  Tim recently snagged a bunch of close-outs which I was more than happy to purchase and taste.  The 2010 Vini Barraco, Nero d’Avola, Sicily is a big wine not for the feint of heart, it certainly grabs hold of ones mouth.  It is best left in the cellar.  The 2010 Vini Biondi, A Crush on Etna, Rosso Azzurro is a fine value down to $19 from the $30 it was when I wrote about it last year in Tasting Austrian and Italian Wines With Lou.  It has improved dramatically by showing attractive complexity and reduced structure.  It was best on the first night though unopened bottles will last for several years.  Why wait?  Don’t forget this wine is the project of Jean-Marc of Domaine Rouge-Bleu.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Vini Barraco, Nero d’Avola, Sicily – $25
Imported by William’s Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Nero d’Avola.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose is more pungent with black cherry, floral aromas, and tar.  In the mouth there was a ripe, textured core of floral fruit that has citric, drying tannins peaking through.  The flavors persisted in the defined structure.  With air the wine became more puckering with a subtle yeast hint in the aftertaste.  This pungent, puckering wine left flavors of black fruit and tannins on the gums.  *** 2016-2022.


2010 Vini Biondi, A Crush on Etna, Rosso Azzurro – $19
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a complex nose of earthy red fruit and fresh, green herbs.  In the mouth were smooth and controlled flavors of earthy red fruit.  It was lighter in nature with grapey tannins.  It showed good complexity with a hint of licorice, and dried spices.  On the second night it was harder with more structure evident.  *** Now-2020.


Gigondas From Two Old Family Estates

My introduction to the Southern Rhone took place through the wines of Gigondas.  I have been drinking the wines of Domaine de Font-Sane and Domaine Brusset since the 1998 vintage.    Domaine de Font-Sane is a family run winery founded in 1860.  Their vineyards are located closer to the center of the appellation and I believe this shows in the 2011 Domaine de Font-Sane, Tradition, Gigondas.  There is no doubt this is a robust example of Gigondas that has the ability to develop with age.  Despite that capability, I thoroughly enjoyed drinking it right now for it already has good complexity and an earthy note.  Domaine Brusset  is another family run winery founded in 1947.  Its vineyards are slightly higher being located at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  Perhaps reflecting the cooler site the brighter flavors were very clean and the wine in need of age.  My recommendation is to stock up on the Domaine de Font-Sane.  It is available at a great price for such a complex wine and if you are tempted to open a bottle on a crisp Spring day you are sure to be pleased.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Domaine de Font-Sane, Tradition, Gigondas – $22
Imported by Simon ‘N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 72% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault which was raised for 12 months in vats followed by 6-8 months in large barrels.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose bore earthy aromas of herbs and red fruit.  In the mouth the roundish, grippy flavors of red and blue fruit initially mixed with earth notes.  There was a lot of texture with ripe and drying tannins before baking spice flavors came out.  The structure was evident on the gums.  This wine already has good complexity to its lively flavors but will certainly age.  ***(*) Now-2026.


2012 Domaine Brusset, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas – $25
Imported by Simon ‘N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% tank-aged Grenache and 30% barrel-aged Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  The lighter black flavors existed in a robust frame.  There was a bit of tang as the acidity came out with plenty of clean fruit.  The wine brightened towards the finish and mixed with some extract and spicy tannins.  **(*) 2016-2024.


I Find Paydirt in Bedrock

April 9, 2014 1 comment

Thought I had heard about Bedrock Wine Co some time ago I had never tasted the wines before.  During my recent trip to Seattle I was quite surprised to see two bottles at such an attractive price.  I am glad I saw them for both Jenn and I very much enjoyed both bottles.  I recommend you buy both.  Let the 2012 Bedrock Wine Co., North Coast Syrah age a little while you drink the 2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley.  The later of which blends in small amounts of Abouriou and Aubun as a bonus!  Lovely stuff.  These wines were purchased at Pete’s Wine of Eastlake.


2012 Bedrock Wine Co., North Coast Syrah – $27
This wine is 100% Syrah which was 33-50% whole cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 11 months in 100% French oak of which 15% was new. Alcohol 14.5%.  With viscous legs in the glass the aromas precede the flavors.  This interesting wine had ripe, floral black fruit surrounded by a haze of fine, ripe tannins.  The acidity was seamless with more extract towards the finish.  There was the slightest hint of glycerin in the mouth feel.   Nice wine.  *** Now-2020.


2012 Bedrock Wine Co., Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley – $27
This wine is 40% old-vine Zinfandel and 60% Carignan, Alicante, Petite Sirah, Abouriou and Aubun which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged in 12% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  The nose bore red fruit, ripe cranberry, and wet tobacco.  In the mouth were ample, textured flavors that were full of verve.  There was a lot of grip and ripe tannins which stuck to the lips and gums.  There were baking spices, acidity and some red fruit noticeable on the sides of the tongue.  Towards the finish were blacker flavors, dry baking spices, and dry firm tannins.  The wine enticed me to drink it.  ***Now-2018.


My Type of Wine, the 2010 La Bastide Blanche, Bandol

If you follow Eric Asimov then you know the 2010 La Bastide Blanche, Bandol is the second recommended wine in his recent article Taming of the Bestial Bandol. I suspect this explains why there is no longer any stock at Weygandt Wines.  After tasting this wine I can understand why.   It is aromatic and flavorful in the mouth with savory flavors that fill the mouth with complexity and minerals.  This is the type of wine Jenn and I love so if your tastes are aligned to ours then grab all that you can before it disappears.  Tasted over two nights it drank best on the second night so either decant a bottle now or cellar it for the short-term.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages who has now run out of stock.


2010 La Bastide Blanche, Bandol – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of mostly Mourvedre with Grenache and Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a complex nose of fresh herbs, lavender, potpourri, and red fruit.  In the mouth were minerally, compact flavors of red and black fruit from the start.  This savory wine was meaty and though still controlled, had mouthfilling flavors.  There were moderate tannins and a little sour cherry at the start.  There were ample notes of black minerals, watering acidity, and a persistent aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2026.


Happy Birthday! Hogshead Wine Turns Three


Yesterday was the third birthday of the Hogshead Wine Blog!!!  There are now a total of 1,103 posts on this blog of which 243 were published during this past year.  This represents an average of almost five posts per week, down from eight posts per week at the last anniversary.  Still, the lifetime average is seven posts per week typically Monday through Friday.  The reduction in posts reflects the significant amount of time it takes to research for and write about the History of Wine.  That is not bad considering I have both a family and full-time day job.   There are now 4,768 published images occupying 1.9 GB of space.  I have worked hard to bring many historic images to your attention and hope that you are attracted to both the images and the writing.

Traffic continues to steadily build.  There are now 1,107 dedicated WordPress, Email, Twitter, and Facebook followers.  Individual readership remains steady at some 4,000 reader per months generating under 7,000 page views per month.  Local readership has increased slightly to 58% followed by international readers from 179 different countries led off by the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands.  This order has shuffled slightly from the year before.  There are a large number of referrers but the top remain Facebook, Twitter, MacArthur Beverages, and David White’s Terroirist.

The post I Try Cups of Copa Di Vino has now swapped placed with Wine Related Dutch Paintings of the 17th Century to become the most popular post.  Surprisingly, the About page is almost as popular as Did I Save $200 by Drinking 2012 Chakan Estate?  Two of my least viewed posts include 1983 Warre’s and 1985 Dow’s along with 2006 Leitz, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese.  Perhaps this proves that dull titles do not generate much interest.  The titles for my historical post usually incorporate a period quote with the most popular being “Grapes Very Fair and Excellent Good”: The First Known Vintage in the Colony of Virginia.  My passion lies in the History of Wine.  I suggest you check that page from time to time for this summer will see some interesting posts.

Thank you all for continuing to read and comment!


Categories: Personal History

California Barrel Samples

This past weekend Lou and I attended the MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting.  I spent some five hours or more tasting wine and still did not get through everything!  In order to type up all of my tasting notes I am taking a short break from posting.


Drinks in Seattle


There is a cycle of demolition and construction which has persisted across the recession in Seattle.  It is both fascinating to watch both across and within my visits.  I must admit it is one aspect I look forward to when I fly out.   Amongst the wines I tasted one year ago on the 33rd floor of my hotel were the 2011 Owen Roe, Sinister Hand and 2010 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red.  Strangely enough I tasted the opposite vintages during my most recent trip.  The 2010 Owen Row, Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley is starting to open up to reveal a very satisfying wine which is gaining complexity.  It should drink well for several years so I definitely recommend you grab several bottles.  The 2011 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red, Columbia Valley loses the Tempranillo and Petit Verdot from the previous vintage but gains Syrah.  There is no doubt that at $13 you get a ton of wine for the price.  It drank best on the first night when it was mouthfilling and hedonistic rather than the second night when heat was breaking through.  It is honestly too much for me but that is perhaps better than too little at this price point.  Finally, the 2010 Domaine Grand Guilhem, Fitou was a lighter but serious wine.  I remember drinking Fitou during my Bristol days because it was rather inexpensive but still had character.  The Sinister Hand was purchased at Whole Foods, the Gifford Hirlinger was purchased at Pete’s Wine of Eastlake, and the Grand Guilhen was purchased at Bar Ferd’nand.


2010 Owen Row, Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is a blend of 71% Grenache, 24% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.3%.  This had a fresh nose of fruit and lemony citrus.  The flavors were slightly tight with a tannic start.  The red and orange fruit flavors morphed into more black flavor mixed with spices and a savory end.  The structure was there but the tannins were not really noticeable  until the finish.  The was followed by an orange hint in the aftertaste.  Best on the second night.  *** Now-2019.


2011 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red, Columbia Valley – $13
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40$ Merlot, and 15% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 30% new American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.9%.  There was a lot of robust, forward fruit that was black and mouth filling.  It had moderate weight then salty power in the finish.  On the second day noticeable heat came out in the aftertaste.  It was smooth on the outside with a sense of roughness and mouth-filling power but the heat was distracting.  ** Now.


2010 Domaine Grand Guilhem, Fitou – $22
Imported by Barrique Imports.  This wine is a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This was a little stinky at first then black fruit aromas came out.  In the mouth were brighter and lighter black fruit flavors.  It was a touch juicy with a little tang near the start.  The tannins played out near the end dressing the wine up with a little bit of structure.  It was lighter and youthful but in a serious way.  ** Now-2016.

Wine in Small Servings: From Unpleasant Reactions to Red and Black Fruit

April 1, 2014 4 comments


I travel with some consistency.  In my desire to have a few glasses of wine in my hotel room I inevitably do not finish the bottle I have purchased and dump the remains down the sink.  That is a waste which could be eliminated by drinking from single-serve bottles.  While it is in my nature to travel with a corkscrew, others may not, particularly if you fly carry-on.  In this post we investigated small servings of wine which do not require a corkscrew to open.  These are suitable not only for travel but other occasions including lunch in one’s cubicle, a picnic, or perhaps the long train ride home.  There is a certain tongue-in-cheek nature to the idea of this post, given the timing of this first day of April, but one thing which is true is that my most viewed post remains I Try Cups of Copa Di Vino.  Back in January almost 1,000 individuals read this post within 24 hours.


The wines featured in this post come from a variety of sources including Giant in Manassas, Sheetz gas station in Morgantown (thanks John!), and Whole Foods in downtown Seattle.  The per bottle price ranges from $6.29 for NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California to a whopping $20.18 for the NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Savuignon, Delle Venezie, Italy.  The last time I recall drinking a single serve bottle of wine was on an Alaska Airlines flight where I featured the 2009 Sutter Home, Merlot, California in my post Tasting Wine at 34,000 Feet….Live!

Of the wines tasted the 2011 Bota Box, Chardonnay, California ranks as the worst wine I have ever drunk in my life.  It literally made me want to puke and like sticking your fingers down your throat, it was repeatable.  If it acceptable to find Copa di Vino at a gas station then  it is unacceptable that Whole Foods was selling the NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Delle Venezie, Italy.   Beyond the $20 per bottle equivalent sales price, marked down from $22.50, the wine was off-putting.  I simply cannot imagine how it ended up on their shelves.  One thing that might be telling, there were just a handful of these containers left as compared to my previous visit.  Of all the wines tasted the 2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California was the best.  It smelled and tasted like wine and at $6.74 per 4-pack it was all that I expected.  It comes with a handy carrying case.  If you do not mind dumping some wine down the sick then you are better off buying by the screw-capped bottle.



The best of the dry whites was the NV Vendange, Chardonnay, Australia.  Rather mellow for my tastes it could be thought of as a mature box wine!  The best and only off-dry white was the Copa di Vino, Riesling, Columbia Valley.  This was in fact the best of the Copa di Vino wines we tried for it did not purport to be anything else.


Copa di Vino, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 07-29-14.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The color was a very light straw.  The very light nose had a little oak influences, yellow fruit, and stink notes.  In the mouth were lean, acidity driven flavors which became puckering with a lot of acidity by the aftertaste.  It was watering with a metallic note and the stink persisting in the mouth.  On the second night it was still funky and stinky. Poor.


2012 Woodbridge, Chardonnay, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow green.  The nose had fresher yellow fruit which turned tropical.  There was very acidity driven fruit, a roundish feel, and acidity on the tongue tip.  It had a creamsicle flavor and a metallic finish.  There was some grip in the aftertaste.  On the second night it was very similar but with more tropical notes.  Drinkable. * Now.


NV Vendange, Chardonnay, Australia – $4.94 (500 mL)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light nose had slightly richer yellow fruit.  In the mouth were lower lying flavor, much less comparable acidity.  As a whole more mellow but with some balance.  It had some toast in the apple-like finish and became more balanced with air.  There was even some aftertaste.  Tropical notes develop for which it needs more acidity.  Drinkable. * Now.


2011 Bota Box, Chardonnay, California – $6.29 (500 mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light golden yellow.  The nose bore mature pineapple pieces.  In the mouth this dense tasting wine was mouth filling with supporting acidity and non-descript flavors.  Odd.  There was a metallic finish.  Strange enough, there was an odd reaction in the back of my throat…this wine made me want to puke.  Poor.


Copa di Vino, Riesling, Columbia Valley – $2.69 (187 mL)
Freshest by 08-12-14.  Alcohol 12.2%.  The nose smelled like sweet wine.  In the mouth was a sweet entry with supporting acidity and a little texture on the tongue tip.  It had tropical white and yellow fruit flavors.  There was a short finish.  * Now.




The red wines generally left the impression of either being heavily manufactured or made from the discarded remnant of bad wine.  The NV Barefoot, Merlot, California might have fans because it is intentionally slightly off-dry but it did pass the threshold of being drinkable wine.  Just a few tens of cents more the 2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California was the hands down favorite of all of the wines tasted.  Perhaps it was the vintage date or the $0.45 premium over the NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California that account for higher-quality fruit.


2012 JT Wines, FLASQ wine, Merlot, California – $7 (375 mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  This had red fruit on the nose with a hint of greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the red fruit had some ripeness, a greenhouse note, and a hint of jammy sweetness.  The tannins were pleasing.  It did have an odd under-note and feeling of confection.  Would rate higher but for the oddity.   Poor.


NV Barefoot, Merlot, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby grape.  There was sweet blue fruit on the nose.  In the mouth was a round start with ripe fruit that had grip and was balanced with acidity.  It had a creamy blueberry finish with good texture.  Perhaps too much residual sugar for my preference.  * Now.


NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California – $6.29 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  It had a cleaner fruit nose.  In the mouth were leaner black and red fruit, subtle structure, a little appropriate greenhouse flavor, and some candied notes.  * Now.


2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a subtle nose.  In the mouth were ripe but controlled red and black fruit, plenty of integrated acidity, some spice, a little chewy finish, and structure towards the end.  This tasted like proper wine and was hands-down the best.  * Now.


Copa di Vino, Merlot, Chile – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 02-08-15.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a sweet nose of sweet floral aromas.  In the mouth this wind revealed round, soft, rather perfumed sweet fruit.  It was very round with creamy fruit, some herbaceousness, and a downright odd profile.  Poor.


Copa di Vino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 05-07-15.  Alcohol 13.3%.  This had a better nose of black fruit and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the herbaceous black fruit had a grapefruit note with integrated acidity and tannins.  There was texture in the finish and a surprising amount of tannins.  Tasted manufactured but drinkable.  * Now.


NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Delle Venezie, Italy – $2.69 (100 mL)
Alcohol 13%.  There was a bizarre and off-putting nose.  The mouth had round, cherry fruit which tasted old in a way.  There was old perfume, acidity, ripe tannins, and downright odd flavors.  Poor.