Archive for April, 2014

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Two Early Drinking Rhone Wines

Both of the wines featured in this post are drinking well right out of the bottle.  They both have clean red fruit that is enlivened by the acidity.  The 2012 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Chateauneuf du Pape is certainly more serious with balance for short-term development, not for old-bones.   Perhaps it is perfect for the cold-snap that Washington, DC is now leaving.  The 2012 La Font de Vent, Notre Passion, Cotes du Rhone Villages is the lightest of the pair.  I would drink it as an alternative to rosé.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Chateauneuf du Pape – $32
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault sourced from vines 15-50 years old.  Alcohol 15%.  The delineated aromas were of pure cherry notes.  In the mouth were cherry and Kirsch flavors that were ripe but enlivened by acidity.  This morphed to raspberry with more acidity before turning black with tannins in the finish.  The finish had extract,  moderate structure with fine drying tannins, and minerally bits.  There was some heat in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2019.


2012 La Font de Vent, Notre Passion, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $13
Imported by DS Trading Company.  This wine is an even blend of Grenache and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  This was a fresh and light wine with red fruit flavors of cherry and strawberry.  The ripeness builds up, taking on acidity that made for some zing in the finish.  Good for the spring.  ** Now-2016.


The Timeless 1986 CVNE, Viña Real, Rioja Reserva

To some degree how I think about old vintages of Bordeaux has barely changed since my Bristol University days.  Back then I would often chat with my friends about the 1961 and 1970 vintages as we poured over David Peppercorn’s maturity chart.  There is no doubt if I was now presented a bottle from 1961 I would first think about it as a 30 year old wine instead of its proper 53 year age.  Over the last several years I infrequently drank wines prior to the 1998 vintage.  This year is an exception, with Rioja alone representing vintages from the 1920s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.  In this span of just several months my perspective on what is an old vintage from Rioja has changed.

C.V.N.E. advertisement from La Época (Madrid. 1849). 10/4/1922, no. 25,672, page 3.

C.V.N.E. advertisement from La Época (Madrid. 1849). 10/4/1922, no. 25,672, page 3. Biblioteca Nacional de Espana.

Thus with a bit more exposure I viewed the unopened bottle of 1986 C.V.N.E, Viña Real, Rioja Reserva as young and to some degree, did not hesitate to pull the cork.  The Viña Real was first released in 1920 taking its name from the vineyard situated next to the old Camino Real running through El Ciego in Rioja Alavesa.  Today at least half of the fruit is still sourced from estate vineyards in Rioja Alavesa with a blend that is mostly Tempranillo followed by Mazuelo, Graciano, and Garnacha Tinta.  This particular bottle had an attractive nose of red fruit and mature wood box aromas.  The flavors in the mouth were not as complex as the nose perhaps because they were youthful with plenty of acidity and still some structure.  It is possible I opened this bottle to early!  This wine was purchased from The Rare Wine Co.


1986 C.V.N.E (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España), Viña Real, Rioja Reserva –
Imported The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose bore scented aromas of tart red fruit and wood box.  In the mouth the flavors took on moderate weight with slightly ripe and tart raspberry notes that became drier towards the finish.  There was plenty of acidity complemented the tart red flavors.  This wine was still fresh with a bit of structure in the long aftertaste.  *** Now-2034.


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.