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Uncorking Old Sherry

July 28, 2014 1 comment

James Gillray’s Uncorking Old Sherry (1805) is a particularly memorable image even at a visual level.  This political satire was published just days after a debate between Prime Minister William Pitt and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  In this image Richard Brinsley Sheridan is caricatured as a bottle of Sherry that William Pitt has just uncorked.  Instead of producing a lovely bottle of wine, out spews a collection of “Old Puns”, “Lame Puns”, and “Fibs, Fibs, Fibs”.

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Uncorking Old Sherry. Gillray, James. March 10, 1805. Museum Number 1851,0901.1165.  The British Museum.

Two From Collioure

The wines of Collioure pop-up in the area from time to time.  Those from Domaine La Tour Vieille have appeared in my posts before but never those of Tramontane.  The 2011 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure while clearly young, showed high-toned red fruit that was more structured.  The 2009 Tramontane, Collioure perhaps benefitted from the bottle age to be rather aromatic and sport some complexity.  It was the more generous of the two but maintained an attractive integration of the aromas and flavors.   I like to drink good wines from Collioure for they live on the edge, representing the wild terrain and the warmth of the sun.  These wines were purchased at The Wine Source in Baltimore.

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2011 Domaine La Tour Vieille, La Pinede, Collioure – $22.50
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 15% Mourvedre sourced from 35-70 year old vines on soils of schist.  It was aged for 12 months in vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed firmer red aromas.    In the mouth were high-toned flavors of red fruit and minerals.  The wine was initially rounded with some toast notes and a little heat on the back of the throat.  With air the wine balanced out to show hard, red fruit, tart berries, some roast, and cinnamon-like spices.  There was a tangy finish and aftertaste.  **(*) 2016-2024.

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2009 Tramontane, Collioure – $22.50
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Grenache sources from old vines on soils of schist.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was more aromatic with dried floral aromas, pastilles, and spices.  In the mouth were richer flavors of red fruit followed by lots of flavor from fine, powdery and ripe red blue fruit.  There was a  little bit of tannins and a touch of lively acidity on the tongue tip.  With air there were some cinnamon notes, wood box, and more tannins.  It developed flavors of raspberry supported by good acidity and followed by a floral finish.  *** Now-2024.

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A Pair from Mas de Gourgonnier

The Cartier family have been producing wine and olive oil on their Mas de Gourgonnier estate for decades.  The vineyards have been certified organic for just as long and is proudly detailed on the labels.  Most people are familiar with the Rouge that is presented in the traditional squat wine bottle.  Less commonly seen is the Reserve de Mas.  This wine is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in large oak casks.  My one previous experience with the Reserve de Mas came in the form of the 2007 vintage.   I had never this wine before so I paid dearly for one bottle as described in my post The Spices and Herbs of Mas de Gourgonnier.

The estate is located south of Avignon where it is hot, dry, and windy.  This region produces wines distinct from the familiar flavors of the Southern Rhone.  The wines of Mas de Gourgonnier always exhibit dried herbs but the Reserve de Mas adds complexity from its earthy notes.   The dry flavors are intertwined with acidity, lower alcohol, and incredibly fine tannins.  The structure becomes evident in the aftertaste suggesting this wine will develop for several years to come.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 18% Syrah, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 24% Carignan.   Alcohol 13%.  The nose bore lighter aromas of dried herbs.  There was a gentle introduction of flavor with black and red fruit.  The flavors were lighter in body but there was some weight and ripeness.  The wine became drier towards the finish where it mixed with herbs and black fruit.  There was a very fine structure.  With air the wine took on an orange- lift.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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2010 Mas de Gourgonnier, Reserve du Mas, Les Baux de Provence – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13%.  There were earthy, dry red fruit flavors that were dry in a sense and made lively by salivating acidity.  The structure existed as incredibly fine tannins that dried the mouth.   There were dried herbs and a little vintage perfume.  Black fruit flavors developed with air that were entwined with acidity before the tannins returned in the aftertaste.  *** 2015-2024.

The Latest Vintage of Calder, Charbono

The latest vintage of the Calder Wine Company Charbono sports a slightly different label but still offers unique flavors.  Both the 2009 and 2011 vintages offered up earthy flavors.  However, the 2009 vintage was meaty and the 2011 vintage showed more acidity and vintage perfume.  These vintages clearly reveal how different Charbono tastes and in my mind that makes this an essential wine to try.  This wine was purchased at The Wine Source in Baltimore.

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2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley – $24
This wine is 100% Charbono sourced from 44 year old, dry farmed vines that were fermented in small, open-topped bins.  It was aged for 18 months in 85% neutral oak and one new French puncheon.  Alcohol 12.1%  The nose revealed high-toned aromas of herbs.  In the mouth were flavors of tart red fruit then dry black flavors came out simultaneously as the acidity built.  There were consistent flavors of subtle earthy and vintage perfume.  Though the wine was light in flavor it had some controlled ripe fruit as well.  The flavors fell a bit short in the finish only to have the vintage perfume return in the aftertaste.  Unusual.  ** Now-2018.

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Buy 1684, avoid 1687: An Historic German Vintage Chart

July 23, 2014 1 comment
Uebersicht von Menge und Güte der Wein-Erträge in dem vormaligen Herzogthume Naussau in den Jahren 1682 bis 1884.

Uebersicht von Menge und Güte der Wein-Erträge in dem vormaligen Herzogthume Naussau in den Jahren 1682 bis 1884.

Some of you may recall that I have an interest in wine related tables which is reflected in such posts as A Visual History of Wine Gauging Tables.  This interest led me to Heinrich Wilhelm Dahlen’s book Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau (1885) that is full of  viticultural statistics for the Rheingau and other areas.   Though these statistics caught my eye, it was the colorful vintage chart for the former Duchy of Nassau that stood out in the otherwise stark and dry book.  The chart is fascinating for several reasons.  First, it covers the vintages of 1682 through 1884.  I do not yet know of any vintage chart that describes both quantity and quality of wine-yield for 17th century vintages.  If you are aware of one then please let me know.   Second, to describe quantity and quality it employs a color-coded bar chart where the color indicates the quality and the width of the bar indicates the quantity.

Die Qualität ist durch folgende Farben ausgedrückt.

Die Qualität ist durch folgende Farben ausgedrückt.

The chart is assembled based on several sources of information.  On inspection you will notice slight format changes but the overall idea is consistent.  There are four quality levels indicated: vorzüglich (excellent), gut (good) , mittelmäßig (fair), and Gering und schlecht (poor and low).  The quality levels are color coded: vorzüglich (red), gut (green), mittelmäßig (brown), and Gering und schlecht (gray).  The quantity of the wine is indicated in two manners.  For the years 1682-1829, specific quantities were not available so the bar widths are fixed.  The quantities are verbally described using such terms as echt viel for a large quantity.  For 1830 through 1884 specific quantities were available so the width of the bar directly correlated with the amount.  Thus with a quick glance you can see that the vintages of 1834, 1846, and 1868 were both of the highest quality and produced in the largest quantity.  After 1868 there was a string of poor vintages with that of 1875 surely flooding the market.

Five great vintages in a row!

Five great vintages in a row!


Dahlen, Heinrich Wilhelm. Karte und Statistik des Weinbaues im Rheingau und sämmtlicher sonstigen Weinbau. 1885. dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz.  URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/94715

The Creation of a German Vineyard in the 1920s

July 22, 2014 2 comments

During a recent search through European archives I came across fascinating images in Joseph Goerge’s  Der Rotweinbau an der Ahr (1928). [1] A portion of this book chronicles the creation of a new vineyard.  This process involved clearing an oak forest, blasting out sections of hillside, building terraces, manuring the soil, and planting the vines.  A phenomenal amount of labor was required!  I have selected a subset of the images for this post.  Please click on an image for higher resolution or visit the links I have provided for the best quality.

The conversion of a stunted oak forest.

The conversion of a stunted oak forest.

Partially finished sections of vineyard.

Partially finished sections of vineyard.

Creating terrace walls in a new vineyard.

Creating terrace walls in a new vineyard.

Digging foundation 1-1.2 meters deep.

Digging foundation 1-1.2 meters deep.

Aligning the stakes and training the vines.

Aligning the stakes and training the vines.

Women bending the vines.

Women bending the vines.

At work.

At work.


[1] Goerges, Joseph. Der Rotweinbau an der Ahr. 1928. dlibri Rheinland-Pfalz.  URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/527793

Recent Drinks Including An Attractive Greek Wine Made from Mavro Kalavritino

These are several solid wines in this post that deliver regional character at an affordable price.  Of those still available I would recommend the 2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone and the 2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant.  Chances are you have seen this pair of wines before so I want to bring the 2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia to your attention.  Tetramythos is a young winery having produced their first wine in 1999 and completed the winery in 2004.  I had never tried a wine made from Mavro Kalavritino nor from the Achaia region so I was excited to find I enjoyed this wine.  I was particularly attracted to evocations of wild scrubland herbs in the aromas and the flavors.  I recommend you try this wine and there really is no excuse not to, it is afterall, only $11.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Andre Brunel, Cuvee Sabrine, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $13
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore some blackberry aromas.  In the mouth were somewhat compact black fruit flavors, gentle spices, and fresh fruit acidity.  It became more robust in the middle with fine tannins in the finish and a dry aftertaste.  It opened up with air to show some roundness, a touch of earthy flavors complemented by garrigue, wood, and leather.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant – $12
Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars.  Alcohol 14%.  There were dense fruit aromas on the nose.  In the mouth were dense flavors that leaned towards the red spectrum before becoming black and dry.  With air the earthiness reduced but it did show some complexity with a little cherry note in the finish.  There was some extract, a little salivating acidity.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2018.

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2008 Mercer Estates, Merlot, Columbia Valley – $18
The nose was a modern blend of fruit and chocolate.  In the mouth were flavors of controlled ripe fruit, chocolate powder, and hints of both greenhouse and spiciness.  There were fine, ripe, powdery tannins and some acidity.  This wine had decent flavors for the profile and should remain at this plateau for years.  ** Now-2018.

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2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Potomac Selections.  Alcohol 13%.  The dark red aromas and macerated berries made way to mixed flavors of red and blue fruit.  The fruit tastes young.  The wine had some minerals, good acidity, and moderate structure which was left on the gums.  It had  a bit of everything but remained a little tight over two nights.  I would wait a few more months before drinking. ** Now-2018.

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2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia – $11
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The attractive nose smelled of scrubland and became a little sweaty.  In the mouth were dark red fruit flavors.  This was a lighter wine with a dry flavors before a gentle, textured ripeness.  There were flavors of wild herbs that mixed with a sense of maturity and watering acidity before the dry finish.  This solid wine took up plum and cocoa flavors in the persistent aftertaste.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Valley Vintners, Trianguli, Bouquet, Danubian Plain – $19
Imported by Parallel 43 Selection.  This is made from 100% Bouquet which is a crossing between Mavrud and Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13%.  The  nose bore dark fruit and tightened up with air.  In the mouth were modern, black fruit flavors, a hint of black tea, and a citric note in the finish.  This is a solid wine that should be aged for several months before trying.  *(*) 2014-2018.

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