Cayuse, Chidaine, and Gros ‘Noré
It is only through friends that I have been able to drink a handful of wines from Cayuse Vineyards. Lou was curious to try one of his bottles so we recently gathered in his kitchen to taste some wines while we ate cheeses, charcuterie, and pasta. We started with the demi-sec 2010 François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux, Montlouis Sur Loire. The complex aromas and flavors were immediately apparent and perhaps due to the rather long fermentation period. At first I wished it had a bit more acidity but then on the second night it all came into balance. I would suggest you buy this outstanding value for your cellar. Lou had opened the 2007 Cayuse Vineyards, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley some 13 hours ahead then decanted before the tasting. Even then it showed more complexity on the second night! This was a bigger wine but the red fruit flavors were light and delivered with precise mouthfeel. Beautiful stuff! Finally we came to the trio from Domaine du Gros ‘Noré. These wines were double-decanted about three hours before we tasted them. These are, perhaps, prototypical classic Bandol with brawn and ample structure. Our bottle of 2005 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol was marred by some volatile acidity that was present on the nose but not distracting from the good, maturing flavor. The 2007 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol was my favorite due to its combination of concentrated fruit, minerals, racy flavors, and balance. It is just entering its drinking window so this is a wine to look out for. The 2011 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol remained young with its grapey flavors but also shutdown. I had a hard time getting a sense of its future but I would not be surprised if, with bottle age, it developed like the 2007.
2010 François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux, Montlouis Sur Loire
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This demi-sec wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from multiple parcels of vines 30-90 years of age. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in demi-muids for up to six months and did not undergo malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for 11 months on fine lees in demi-muids. Alcohol 13%. The nose was fragrant, textured, and round with aromas of miso, sweet notes then apples. In the mouth was a round start followed by earthy, mineral flavors. There was some residual sugar but also some tannin. The earthy, grass flavors were picked up with food. The acidity was more in a supportive role but became more noticeable on the second evening when the wine was more fruit driven. There was a slight oxidative hint. ***(*) Now-2024.
2007 Cayuse Vineyards, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% “god only knows” sourced from the Armada Vineyard. It was aged in used puncheons purchased from Rene Rostaing. Alcohol 15.2%. This was a big wine but the brighter, lighter red fruit brought forth very attractive cherry flavors. There was a slight wood hint with an uncrushable mouthfeel from glycerin. With air it seamlessly developed complex flavors of oranges, exotic plants, stems, and unique flavors. **** Now-2029.
2005 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium, garnet infused. The volatile acidity did pick up a bit on the nose, present but not distracting because the fruit and wood hints were still there. In the mouth were savory, earthy flavors that mixed with wood box. The flavors improved with air showing firm, black fruit at the start followed by sweet cherry and strawberry. The finish was robust with some heat and roughness. The aftertaste was long leaving a coating of firm minerals. *** Now-2019.
2007 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. This showed good concentration of fruit with a racy and inky midpalate presence. There were flavors of black fruit, hints of red fruit, and minerals as the tannins coated the gums in the finish. This was youngful, all around balanced, and has a long life ahead. Well done. ***(*) Now-2022.
2011 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium cranberry red, showing youth. The good nose made way to red punch flavored fruit. The wine developed black fruit flavors but in general remained very tightly played. It was dense, a little round, and had hints of grapey fruit in the rather firm tannic structure. The aftertaste brought fine drying tannins and a touch of heat in the back of the throat. Good flavor, definitely needs age. *** 2018-2026.