Archive for March, 2015

Recent Rhones from North and South

March 31, 2015 1 comment

Just a quick post for today but I promise a meatier post tomorrow based on some fun research.  Of the trio of wines in this post I suggest you try both the 2013 Lionel Faury, Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes and the 2012 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone.  The former has lovely Syrah flavors which complement notes of orange, black tea, and baking spices.  This should be great come the fall.  The Charvin is packed with potential with its firm fruit, minerals, and savory finish.  It is enjoyable now but really needs to be cellared for a few years.  It will be worth it.  The Faury and Charvin were purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the Notre dame at McGruders of DC.


2013 Lionel Faury, Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes – $22
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines planted between 1995 and 2007 on granite soils. The wine is aged 7-8 months in 7-20 year old demi-muids.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an attractive sweet nose of ripe, floral orange fruit.  In the mouth there was enough acidity that the wine was lively on the tongue tip.  The red and orange fruit mixed with tea flavors, some baking spices, and a bit of texture.  It is in a youthful, rough and tumble state.  *** Now-2022.


2012 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Carignan raised in concrete.  Alcohol 14%.  This sported pure, grapey flavors of black fruit, a minerally middle, and a savory finish.  This is clearly not a fruit forward wine and lovely for it.  There were drying tannins and a tight personality indicating this should develop over the next several years.  With air it showed some orange fruit and a touch of density.  *** 2017-2025+.


2013 Notre Dame De Cousignac, Lirac – $16
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 77% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, and 5% Mourvedre source from vines averaging 35 years of age.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in cement. Alcohol 14.5%.  There were dark flavors of blue and red fruit, some ripeness, and an immediate sense of structure.  The tannins are ripe and bring on cinnamon spices on the backs of the gums.  With air the wine develops a higher-tone with a licorice flavor and drying structure in the end.  Needs time.  ** 2017-2025.


The latest vintage of Marcel Lapierre’s Raisins gaulois

Things are still topsy-turvy in my life which means I sometimes want to drink a simpler wine yet still enjoy it.  The 2014 Marcel Lapierre, Raisins gaulois hit that spot.  Tasted over two days it was always aromatic and flavorful.  When combined with the low alcohol it was a wine I could simply drink for please without worry about how much I drank.  This particular vintage is complete in what it is which means stock up on several bottles.  It is versatile enough that  you can quench your thirst after boxing up books, drink a glass when you first get home from work, or even when you are reading about wine. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 Marcel Lapierre, Raisins gaulois – $15
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from young vines located mostly in Morgon on granitic gravel soils.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose immediately revealed beautiful raspberry candy and floral aromas.  There were similar flavors in the mouth with ripe hints but mainly leaned towards the tart.  The light flavors were engaging and became drier towards the finish.  *** Now.


Image of a “must-heater” from 1906

This images show a “must-heater” constructed by Gomot of Nimes, France.  It was employed as part of an experiment to make a new type of dry red wine.

A French "must-heater" used in California red wine experiments in 1906. [1]

A French “must-heater” used in California red wine experiments in 1906. [1]

[1] Bioetti, Frederic. “A New Method of Making Dry Red Wine”. Agricultural Experiment Station, University of California.  Bulletin No. 177.  1906.

Basement Bottles from France and Austria

March 27, 2015 2 comments

In case you are wondering if I am trapped beneath my wine fridge, I am not.  I simply ran out of time between re-arranging our entire house so that our hardwood floors could be refinished and doing some quick turnaround research.  Despite my absence of writing I continue to taste wine in our  basement encampment.  And despite this short post I recommend you pick up both the 2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes and 2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich.  The former is a little more serious whereas the later is all fun.  Enjoy! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 35 year old vines on clay and limestone with schist soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in concrete.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was grapey red fruit on the nose that opened up to good, dark fruit aromas.  In the mouth the tangy fruit was up front with acidity on the front of the tongue.  The dry black fruit was matched by attractive, drying tannins on the gums.  There were brighter flavors and salivating acidity in the finish.  With air this wine showed acidity and structure for short term age but maintained levity.  A nice wine.  *** Now-2019.


2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich  – $12
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of Zweigelt and Gamay which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in both stainless steel and large oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an attractive, light and articulate nose of black fruit with underlying greenhouse aromas.  There was a little more ripeness in the mouth around a core of cherry black fruit.  There was  a slight, ripe tannic structure.  With air the wine took on some weight, cocoa flavors, and a bit of a silky feel.  *** Now-2016.


Two title pages from the first German wine books of 1580.

March 23, 2015 1 comment

 Gruelich, Martin. Weinbüchlin. 1580. Munchener Digitalisierungs Zentrum. [1]

Gruelich, Martin. Weinbüchlin. 1580. Munchener Digitalisierungs Zentrum. [1]

The oldest wines books in German date to the late 16th century and incredibly, they are available for reading online.  These books cover a variety of subjects such as how to make and  raise wine, restore wine from off states, and how to simply enjoy it.  Johann Rasch (1540-1512) was an Austrian cleric, writer, and booksellers.  His book Das ist: Vom baw und pflege des Weins (1580) is considered the first thorough treatment of wine growing and tasting.  In doing so it covers such topics as the importance of wine in the Eucharist as well as how to detect if a wine was watered down.  Another practical matter is Johann Rasch’s recipe to prevent a hangover.  This involves eating “Wethamerwurtz oder Petulanakraut” or drinking milk.  Perhaps as a result of Johann Rasch’s appreciation of books, his first edition contains a particularly detailed engraving.  From what I can tell, little information exists in English about these important early books, which is incredible as well.

Rasch, Johann. Das ist: Vom baw und pflege des Weins.  1580. Munchener Digitalisierungs Zentrum. [2]

Rasch, Johann. Das ist: Vom baw und pflege des Weins. 1580. Munchener Digitalisierungs Zentrum. [2]

[1] Gruelich, Martin. Weinbüchlin , Ein Neüwe unnd hübsche bewerte kunst, wie man die Wein erhalten soll und dem bresthafftigen abgefalnen Wein wider helffen. 1580. [VD16 ZV 7030] Munchener Digitalisieruns Zentrum. URL:
[2] Rasch, Johann. Das ist: Vom baw und pflege des Weins, Wie derselbig nützlich sol gebawet, Was ein jeder Weinziher oder Weinhawer zuthun schuldig, Auch was für nutz und schaden durch sie kan außgerichtwerden , Allen Weingart Herren sehr nothwendig zu wissen.  1580.  Munchener Digitalisieruns Zentrum. URL:

“[T]he open door to gay talk, easy laughter”: The 1933 California Burgundy Wine Beverage

During the last stretch of Prohibition in America at the beginning of 1933, numerous states voted to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment.  By the end of June 1933, California had voted for Repeal and the wine industry began to market very low alcohol wine beverages.  That very same month the Mission Dry Corporation came out with the carbonated, sweet “California Burgundy Wine Beverage” for $0.30 per bottle.

California Burgundy Wine Beverage Label. 1933. [1]

California Burgundy Wine Beverage Label. 1933. [1]

During the next month of July 1933, a large advertisement was titled “Want a new thrill? drink old bonded wine as the Europeans do”.  The advertisement claimed that this beverages “tastes like the fine old wine of pre-Prohibition days”.  It was meant to recreate the wine and seltzer drinks that continental Europeans drank in cafes.  This was, apparently, no fly by night drink for they “learned something from an old wine maker” in order to create it.  Little did they know that decades later, sparkling Burgundy would become a controversial recommendation for Thanksgiving dinner.

[1] California Burgundy Wine Beverage Label. 6/27/1933. File Unit:
42323 – California Burgundy Wine Beverage by Mission Dry – Mission Dry Corporation, Ltd.  The National Archives. URL:
[2]  Date: Friday, July 14, 1933 Paper: Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) Page: 7

Three wines tasted in Seattle


I spent the evenings of my recent trip to Seattle reading late 20th century wine articles.  This, of course, requires wine to maintain focus and the first bottle I opened was a random grab.  I noticed two red wines at Whole Foods imported by Barrique Imports, a name new to me, so I grabbed the less expensive 2012 Clos de Caveau, Les Bateliers, Cotes du Rhone.  It was everything I could hope for, earthy and traditional with complex fruit.  And that is out of a hotel tumbler!  It drank great on the second night.  If you like the wines that I enjoy then buy many bottles of this.  I only hope it becomes available in DC.

The next night I was torn between Pike Place Market and Capitol Hill (which I did not visit last trip) so I headed east to Bar ferd’nand.  It was my first tim seeing the reconfigured space which happened to coincide with Wines of the PNW and in particular MTHRFCKN Memaloose.  Brian McCormick, farmer and cellarmaster at Memaloose, had driven up to pour several of his wines.  I first tasted Memaloose nearly four years ago when I tried the Cabernet Franc and Barbera based wines.  I could not resist a chat nor picking up a bottle.  For those back home this is available in DC and Virginia.  Say yes to Oregon Cabernet Franc and Barbera.  Finally, the 2012 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo is full-throttle Mencia.  Almost lust and certainly mouthfilling upon first pour, the wine balances out to become a selection for now and the cellar.  The Clos de Caveau was purchased at Whole Foods and the other two wines at Bar ferd’nand.


2012 Clos de Caveau, Les Bateliers, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by Barrique Imports.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The attractive nose bore mixed red fruit and earthy aromas.  In the mouth the wine was almost prickly on the tongue, eventually becoming lively on the tongue tip.  It was immediately complex, earthy, and carrying both cedar and garrigue flavors.  While it is currently drinking great I suspect it will reach its peak in a year.  It was very similar on the second night just a touch firmer.  *** Now-2020.


2012 Memaloose, Estate Cabernet Franc, Columbia Gorge – $25
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Idiot’s Grace vineyard.  It was fermented and aged in a mixture of oak and stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  Aromatic varietal notes with just the right hint of greenhouse.  With air this wine shows weighty, almost savory red and black fruit.  The greenhouse hint carries through shedding weight to become tart, tangy, and textured with grapey flavors and salivating acidity in the end.  ***  Now – 2018.


2012 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo – $25
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  The flavors are not quite lush for there is texture, structure, and acidity.  With its dark fruit, this is Mencia unfurled that seems wanting to be drunk now but the building level of very fine, drying tannins hint at some future development.  It wraps up with graphite. What a strong mouth full of wine.  *** Now-2022.