Archive for May, 2014

Early Photographic Negative of a Grape Leaf

I was looking through the archives of the Bibliothèque nationale de France when I came across the image featured in today’s post.  Henry Fox Talbot claims to have begun his experiments with the calotype process in 1834.  He exhibited his first images shortly after Louis Daguerre exhibited his first Daguerreotypes in 1839.  Henry Fox Talbot’s negative of the window at Lacock Abbey, dating to August 1835, is believed to be the oldest surviving photographic negative.  That would make this grape leaf, taken just four years later, to be amongst the earliest photographic negatives related to the grapevine.

Dessin photogénique : feuille de vigne. Talbot, Henry Fox. 1839.  Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, RESERVE EI-17-BOITE FOL B - n° 1.

Dessin photogénique : feuille de vigne. Talbot, Henry Fox. 1839. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, RESERVE EI-17-BOITE FOL B – n° 1.

Categories: History of Wine, Image

Memorial Day Pig Roast at Roland’s

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It was nearly five hours after Roland’s Memorial Day pig roast had started that I texted him asking if people were still there.  I had seen the pictures he submitted earlier on Facebook, which he let me post here, and was curious if both pig and wine were still around.  They were.

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I promptly walked over to find that there were many friends and wine lovers still there.  I had missed out on some older Barolo, Burgundy, 1999 Guigal, Chateau d’Ampuis, Côte-Rôtie,  magnums of 2003 Pierre Usseglio, Cuvée de mon Aïeul, Chateauneuf du Pape and 2003 Pegau, Cuvée Reservée, Chateauneuf du Pape., etc.  You get the idea.


Roland quickly handed me a large glass and let me know, fortunately, there was a small bit of 2006 Guigal, La Landonne, Côte-Rôtie left.  He handed me the bottle so I poured my first glass ever of a La La.  It was dark, dense, complex just perfect for a long slumber in the cellar.  Many thanks to Phil for recording the moment!


I joined a big group at the table where some older vintages were poured.  One guest brought bottles of 1994 and 1995 Chateau de Fonsalette, Reservé, Cotes du Rhone imported by Martine’s Wines.  These were served blind and though someone would not stop letting the cat out of the bag, we had a good time guessing the vintages.  The 1995 was still quite tight and firm with tannic structure.  The 1994 was fruity, a touch rounder, and definitely more approachable.   There was also a lovely bottle of Roland’s 2000 Les Cailloux, Cuvee Centenaire, Chateauneuf du Pape.  This too was served blind but an accidental flash of the colorful label corner revealed what was in store.  Again, we took a stab at the vintage.  Lovely, comforting stuff!  The final wine was the 1998 Domaine René Engel, Grand Cru Echezeaux.  Again from Roland’s cellar, the idea was to move backward into maturity.  That was accomplished with this aromatic wine!  It was a lovely evening thanks to all.


Recent Rosé

I clearly love drinking red wine so when the weather warms up I have an affinity for rosé over white wine.  I prefer an inexpensive wine with red fruit, crispness, and some juicy acidity.  In this vein you cannot go wrong with the 2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes or the 2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret. I prefer to begin my evening with a glass while I prepare dinner or clean some dishes.  So I was shocked by the intense acidity of the 2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé.  In fact it was so powerful I literally could not take more than one sip.  Far more preferable was the 2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec which was more thought provoking than thirst-quenching.  Priced at the highest-end of the range is the 2013 Robert Sinsky Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros.  The color was matched by delicate floral aromas and flavors.  It is an attractive rosé but bear in mind you may purchase both the Brassdes and Mourchon for the cost of one bottle.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes – $12
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A vibrant cran-cherry color.  There were cherries and fruity raspberry candy on the nose.  In the mouth were firm, hard cherry fruit which had a touch of ripeness.  This ripeness was delicate, mixing with perfumed flavors, and fresh texture in the finish.  With air the wine became slightly rounder with supporting acidity and pastille flavors in the aftertaste.  Satisfying.  ** Now-2015.


2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret – $13
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The flavors of firm cherry and strawberry mix with good acidity.  ** Now-2015.


2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé – $19
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 12.5%.  The citric red fruit is immediately followed by a tremendous amount of quality acidity.  Literally impossible to drink on its own until the fifth night.  This clearly needs food and is not my style.  * Now.


2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.   Alcohol 12%.  There were tart red fruit flavors that were drier.  Combined with the juicy acidity this wine had a lot of presence.  Though the flavors were lighter there was a sense of strength before the stone notes in the firm finish.  ** Now-2016.


2013 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.1%.  The color was of pale dried roses.  The nose revealed delicate floral aromas.  In the mouth were floral fruit flavors and acidity at the back of the throat.  There was a little grip to these delicate flavors followed by a firm finish.  Drank well over several nights.  ** Now-2016.


A Trio From the Rhone

May 28, 2014 1 comment

Some of my latest research involves a wine produced over the last century.  This research is somewhat maddening for my massive effort has yielded a very low rate of return.  Still I have come up with a few rather interesting threads of information.  I have also expanded my correspondence which, of course, progresses at its own pace.  You might realize at this point that more research results in less posts.  With that in mind I jump straight to three lovely red wines.  The 2009 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Cotes du Rhone is intense, unique, and best left in the cellar.  If you have not drunk Rayas then drink des Tours.   The 2012 Jamet, Syrah, Collines Rhodaniennes is downright drinkable.  Its a complex wine from young fruit a chunk of which came from Cote-Rotie and Condrieu.  Yes, Condrieu, there are red grapes grown there.  Finally, the 2012 Saint Cosme, Crozes-Hermitage is accessible now but took until the end of the second night to show its true complexity.  Its best to let the oak integrate some more so leave in the cellar.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2009 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was rich with ripe, Kirsch aromas.  In the mouth were weighty, pure ripe flavors.  The acidity is present but the fruit dominates right now.  This complex wine has texture which turns powdery and reveals some structure.  It is through force of will that this wine will age.  It is full-bodied with a raspberry middle.  ***(*) 2019-2029.


2012 Jamet, Syrah, Collines Rhodaniennes – $22
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is 100% Syrah mostly sourced from vines planted between 1993-1998 next to the cellar, some from young Cote-Rotie, along with 25% from Condrieu.  The fruit was destemmed and aged for 8-9 months in old casks.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was engaging with aromas of clove spiced oranges and red fruit.  There were similar flavors in the mouth with some tang.  The flavors taste of young fruit.  They are fresh, pure, and sport good depth and satisfying red fruit flavor.  There was a little prickle and acidity on the tongue tip.  The flavors were blacker with graphite hints in the finish.  The wine becomes more mineral and tart with air.  *** Now-2016.


2012 Saint Cosme, Crozes-Hermitage – $29
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Syrah which was whole cluster fermented then aged in 12-15 months in a mixture of new and used oak casks.Alcohol 13%.  At first the nose reveals black fruit mixed with some smoke and perhaps vanilla then with extended air hints of complexity come out.  In the mouth were cool black fruit flavors that were clean and accessible.  The flavors pick up hints of sweetness.  The acidity and integrated tannins are not noticeable until the finish where there is texture on the gums.  Subtle notes of minerals and tank come out in the aftertaste.  Cellar further.  ***(*) 2016-2024.


Chateau Haut-Brion, Available in the United States for 250 Years

A quick Google search for “Haut-Brion import Thomas Jefferson” returns a number of results.  Most of these results, including the Wikipedia entry for Chateau Haut-Brion, all state that Chateau Haut-Brion became the first recorded first growth wine to be imported to the United States.  The Wikipedia entry cites Karen McNeil’s  The Wine Bible (2001) followed by referencing Thomas Jefferson’s letter to his brother-in-law Francis Eppes dated May 26, 1787.  The Lea & Sandeman – Chateau Haut Brion page is even more generous stating “Haut Brion was the first Bordeaux wine known to have been imported into the USA…”.  Karen McNeil did not write that Chateau Haut-Brion was the earliest first growth sent to the United States.  She simply wrote that Thomas Jefferson had “purchased six cases to be sent from the chateau to Virginia”.[0]  As a result it is worth looking into this claim.

Chateau Haut-Brion. Cocks and Ferret. Bordeaux and Its Wines. 1899.

Chateau Haut-Brion. Cocks and Ferret. Bordeaux and Its Wines. 1899.

Thomas Jefferson’s letter of May 26, 1787, notes he was sending six dozen bottles of the 1784 vintage from Bordeaux.[1]   He felt this was the “only very fine” vintage since 1779.  As described in my post “I am in great distress for want of it, having none”: John Adam’s Inquiries about Bordeaux Wines Prior to Thomas Jefferson’s Classification of 1787 John Bondfield wrote to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1785, that he had forwarded, “four Cases containing thirty six Bottles each of our first Growth”.  The citations state that the Massachusetts Historical Society holds the invoices and bills of lading but it turns out that they are held by the Library of Congress.  Chateau Haut-Brion was considered one of the first growths at the time so it is possible that it was shipped to the United States in 1785.  Unfortunately, these additional documents do not detail the specific wines which were shipped.

June 21, 1783. []

June 21, 1783. [2]

Additional references to Chateau Haut-Brion may be found in historic newspapers.  There are at least two earlier advertisements for the sale of Chateau Haut-Brion in the United States during the period of Thomas Jefferson’s first known importation.  Alexander Gillon of Charleston, South Carolina advertised on June 21, 1783, “Claret in cases of three dozen bottles in each case, of the favourite qualities of Haut Brion, de Grave and Julian”.[2]  Cornelius Ray of New York advertised on September 1, 1785, “A FEW hogsheads and cases of the best Bordeaux Claret, being the first growths of Haut-Brion and Latour”.[3]

February 23, 1764. []

February 23, 1764. [4]

However, the earliest importation of Chateau Haut-Brion belongs to Walter Shee and Sons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They placed five advertisements between February 23, 1764, and April 12, 1764, that included “best Haubrion and other French clarret in cases and hogsheads”.[4]  Walter Shee’s advertisements state he has “a compleate assortment of European and India goods”.  This same phrase appears in a short advertisement from January 5, 1764, which includes the first run date of December 1, 1763.[5]  A subsequent advertisement indicates the goods were “imported in the last vessels from England”.[6]  This importation date is corroborated by the November 30, 1763, advertisement that had been run since June 1, 1763.[7]  This advertisement note the goods came in on Captains Hardy’s and Bolizho’s ships from London thus a different set of vessels than what carried the Chateau Haut-Brion.

This is an exciting find for it pushes back the earliest known availability of Chateau Haut-Brion prior to the formation of the United States.  In moving from 1787 to 1764 we now know Chateau Haut-Brion has been enjoyed on these shores for exactly 250 years this spring.

[0] McNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. 2001.
[1] “From Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 26 May 1787,” Founders Online, National Archives (, ver. 2014-05-09). Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 11, 1 January–6 August 1787, ed. Julian P. Boyd. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955, pp. 378–379. URL:
[2] Date: Saturday, June 21, 1783 Paper: South-Carolina Weekly Gazette (Charleston, SC) Volume: I Issue: 19 Page: 4
[3] Date: Thursday, September 1, 1785 Paper: New-York Packet (New York, NY) Issue: 520 Page: 3
[4] Date: Thursday, February 23, 1764 Paper: Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia, PA) Page: 3.  See also The Pennsylvania Gazette. February 23, 1764.
[5] Date: Thursday, January 5, 1764 Paper: Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia, PA) Issue: 1100 Page: 6
[6] Date: Thursday, January 12, 1764 Paper: Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia, PA) Issue: 1101 Page: 3
[7]Date: Thursday, November 10, 1763 Paper: Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia, PA) Issue: 1092 Page: 6

Exciting Priorat From An Historic Family

There are but few wineries which can claim the long tradition of tending vines back to the 18th century.  Cellers Costers del Ros is amongst this small group.  Even the original cellar which was built between 1750-1775 is still in existence!  We may not know what these early vintages tasted like but I can attest that the 2010 Cellers Costers del Ros, Aubagues, Priorat is excellent.  This wine possess the earthy flavor which I find irresistible right now, despite having the ability for further development.  I recommend you pick up a few bottles to drink now and for your cellar. For background information about Cellers Costers del Ros and the 2009 vintage please read my post Tasting a Wine With Howard Friedman of South River Imports.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Cellers Costers del Ros, Aubagues, Priorat – $32
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is a blend of 70% Carignan, 20% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The aromas of ripe blue and red fruit stood out from the glass.  In the mouth were immediate flavors of ripe, dense fruit and minerals.  Though still in a youthful state there were good, expansive flavors that mixed with an ethereal earthiness that persisted through the long aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2024.


A Strong Value From the Cult Winery Tua Rita

Tua Rita was founded in 1984 when Rita Tua and her husband Virgilio Bisti purchased some 38 acres of vines.  They immediately planted it with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  They soon expanded the vineyard and began releasing wines in 1992.  Today there are some 62 acres of vineyards located in the town of Suvereto on the coast south of Bolgheri.  The Italian Wine Merchants considered the higher priced wine Redigaffi as “the acknowledged leader of the second generation of Super-Tuscans”.   The Perlato del Bosco has been released since the beginning at a more accessible price point.   Through the 2001 vintage this wine was 100% Sangiovese.  The blend changed in 2002 to include Cabernet Sauvignon which persisted through the 2010 vintage after which it returned to 100% Sangiovese.  Our bottle proved dense and coiled with flavor the first night.  It was clearly a good wine so I corked it back up to taste again.  It was more accessible on the second night, revealing greenhouse hints from the Cabernet Sauvignon which aided the impression that it should be cellar further.  If you are a fan of mouthfeel then you will certainly enjoy this wine now.  It is priced less than the recent releases so I recommend you stock up on some bottles for now and later!  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2007 Tua Rita, Perlato del Bosco, Rosso Toscana – $25
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in used French oak barriques..  Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over two nights the nose remained fresh and cool with black fruit aromas and a hint of greenhouse.  In the mouth were savor flavors of cool blue and black fruit.  The wine was dense with extract, minerals, and textured tannins.  The acidity mixed with the moderate structure of fine, grained and ripe tannins.  With air the wine showed its youth and capability for development.  The flavors became a little more tart and red before the long aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2029.