Archive for September, 2015

A map of Phylloxera in the Caucasus from 1889

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment

I could not resist posting one more Phylloxera map, this time from the Caucasus.  I have no idea what anything means but I suspect the green areas are those of cultivation and the three types of red dots represent the state of the Phylloxera infection.  Perhaps because of mountainous terrain some areas are not infected.  If you click on the map you will be taken to Flickr where you may zoom in.

კავკასიის სავენახოთა რუკა ფილოქსერულ დაავადებათა პუნქტების მითითებით//

[1] Caucasus Vineyard Map with the Points of Phylloxera Disease. Image from the National Archives of Georgia hosted on Flickr.

The 2012 Font-Sane, Cuvee Tradition is a killer value in traditional Gigondas

September 29, 2015 Leave a comment

The 2012 Domaine de Font-Sane, Cuvee Tradition, Gigondas is my kind of wine from Gigondas.  It is substantive and structured without smacking of new oak, it reveals complexity with air, and is priced within budget. Buy many bottles because it is enjoyable in youth and will age for more than a decade.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Domaine de Font-Sane, Cuvee Tradition, Gigondas – $22
Imported by Simon N’ Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 72% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault that was aged for 8 months in oak casks.  Alcohol 15%.  There are black and red fruit aromas on the nose with deep hints of complexity.  In the mouth the savory fruit mixes with licorice and dry tannins but still has a coating of some fat.  With air the flavors become herbaceous and floral with good bright and ripe structure, and some ripe leather.  This traditional Gigondas is lovely to drink, sports good weight, and develops well with air.  Right-on.  ***(*) Now – 2030.


Map of an individual Phylloxera “spot” in a Zinfandel vineyard in California

September 28, 2015 2 comments

The final Phylloxera map for today stems from an United States Department of Agriculture Bulletin focused on the Phylloxera in California published in 1921.  This map indicate the spread of Phylloxera in a Zinfandel vineyard by indicating the state of each individual vine.  Thus dead vines are represented by solid circles whereas the varying states of the other vines is indicated by a letter.  After looking at the legend, I find it is easy to understand the map.  I hope you enjoyed these four different Phylloxera maps.

Fig. 2 - Phylloxera "spot" in Zinfandel vineyard, charted in 1914. [1]

Fig. 2 – Phylloxera “spot” in Zinfandel vineyard, charted in 1914. [1]

[1] Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. … no. 901-925 (1920-1921).  URL:

A color coded map of the spread of Phylloxera in the Gironde from 1868 to 1877

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment

The previously published map of the progress of Phylloxera in Northern Portugal during 1880 uses solid color to indicate the intensity of the devastation from Phylloxera at a given time.  The map featured in this post illustrates the spread of Phylloxera in the Gironde over time using color coded stars.  At first glance, I even thought the stars were those tiny foil stickers so often used in elementary school.  This map reflects a more complicated objective and I honestly have a difficult time understanding the chronology without constantly referring to the legend.

Carte de la marche... du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

Carte de la marche… du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

Here is a close up of the legend.  I do not yet understand how the color scheme was devised.

Close up of legend from Carte de la marche... du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

Close up of legend from Carte de la marche… du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

And here is a close up of the map.

Close up of the map from Carte de la marche... du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

Close up of the map from Carte de la marche… du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde / faite par A.-H. Trimoulet. 1878. [1]

[1] Trimoulet, A. H. Carte de la marche de la Maladie dite du phylloxera dans le département de la Gironde. 1878. Gallica Bibliotheque Numerique.  URL:

A map of the progress of Phylloxera in Northern Portugal during 1880

September 28, 2015 1 comment

It is Phylloxera map day! I like this particular map of the progress of Phylloxera in Northern Portugal during 1880 because of the color coding.  It looks like a bullseye.

Sketch Map of Northern Portugal Shewing the Progress of the Phylloxera Disease. 1880. [1]

Sketch Map of Northern Portugal Shewing the Progress of the Phylloxera Disease. 1880. [1]

[1] Reports from Her Majesty’s Consuls on the Manufactures, Commerce, &c. of Their Consular Districts, Volume 27. 1880. URL:

Map showing the presence of Phylloxera in France during January 1882.

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment
Carte au 26 janvier1882 de l'avancée du Phylloxéra en France [1]

Carte au 26 janvier1882 de l’avancée du Phylloxéra en France [1]

[1] Girard, Maurice.  Le Phylloxéra de la Vigne, 4e édition, Hachette, 1883. URL:

A contrasting pair of Rosso di Montalcino from Fornacina and Capanna

September 25, 2015 Leave a comment

I had it on my mind for some time to drink a few bottles of Rosso di Montalcino for my experience with these wines is severely lacking.  I finally satisfied my curiosity this week when I opened up the 2013 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino and 2010 Capanna, Rosso di Montalcino.  The Fornacina proved quite open, even effusive with traditional aromas and flavors.  I really liked it!  Not only is is attractive but the price seems unreal.  Both of these wines are quite big, though not out of balance, with alcohol to match.  They easily stood up to drinking over two nights which is a good thing because my perspective on the Capanna completely changed.   It was quite mute on the first night but far more interesting on the second night.  It is from the outstanding 2010 vintage and I believe will shine several years from now.  My recommendation is to drink the Fornacina while the Capanna ages.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2013 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino – $18
This wine is 100% Sangiovese.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose was slightly earthy with more piercing and smokey flavors than fruity.  In the mouth the flavors had a ripe edge with weight before tense and tart, perhaps mulberry, flavors came out.  The wine became savory and expansive with air and always maintained a bit of a rugged finish.  The wine was a cloud of flavor with a ripe, textured aftertaste.  *** Now – 2020.


2010 Capanna, Rosso di Montalcino – $24
Imported by Masciarelli Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was vinified in stainless steel then aged for 1 year in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There attractive aromas of dried tobacco leaf, bramble berry, and leather.  In the mouth were rounder, more polished flavors of brighter red fruit.  The were certainly more of a structured nature for development, compactness, and a hint of tobacco.  With air this showed good savory concentration and black fruit with acidity and tannins spot-on.  **(*) 2017-2027.


Two excellent Bierzo from Raul Perez

September 24, 2015 Leave a comment

A quick taste of the two wines featured in today’s post confirms that Raul Perez has an adept hand with Mencia.  The fruit for the 2011 Geografia Liquida y Raul Perez, Dargo, Bierzo was sourced from vineyards near the town of Valtuille de Abajo whereas the fruit in the 2012 Raul Perez, Vico, Bierzo was sourced from higher altitude vineyards in Ponferrada. The Dargo offers up more generous fruit but also has exciting acidity and ultimately takes on an attractive savory and weighty nature.  The Vico is the more backwards of the two with its higher altitude origins revealed in the floral fruit.  I understand the Vico might be the more expensive, structured wine but right now the Dargo delivers both more interest and promise.  It is also priced at only $17 which means you should not just buy one bottle but several.  The Dargo was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2011 Geografia Liquida y Raul Perez, Dargo, Bierzo – $17
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from vines planted in 1965 that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 7 months in large oak foudres.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose initially reveals dark aromas of cherry and pineapple upside cake then eventually more fruit with a greenhouse hint.  In the mouth is a dark red, deep start then a piercing citric bit with laser-beam vibrancy on the tongue.  There were dry, fine tannins on the gums.  With extended air this wine morphs to become savory and weighty.  ***(*) Now-2020.


2012 Raul Perez, Vico, Bierzo – $30
Imported by OLE.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from vines planted in 1923 that underwent a 60-day post fermentation maceration before spending 11 months in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose began with piercing, yeasty-citric aromas before it cleared up to reveal floral black and purple fruit.  In the mouth were redder fruit flavors water acidity, and a strong dose of very fine tannins.  With extended air the tannins remain present but there is strength in the wine that will see it through.  *** 2016-2021.


A dinner party with old wine

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

This past weekend Lou and I went to a fun dinner party where we ate heaps of meat and drank some old wine.  Lou’s friend Todd spearheaded the food side of things and Lisa offered up her place.  This meant that Lou and I selected the wines.  We started with a very fresh tasting 2008 Drouhin-Vaudon, Chablis Premier Cru.  It showed younger than I expected with the bottle age taking off any rough corners and adding a hint of orchard fruit.


Once everyone arrived and set about tucking into the cheese and charcuterie, we cracked open the NV Michel Turgy, Reserve Selection, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs and the NV Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Champagne Brut Premier Cru.  The Turgy is a pure Chardonnay based Champagne that was vinified entirely in stainless steel.  The Vilmart is a blend of mostly Chardonnay with Pinot Noir that was both fermented and aged in oak.  This made for an enjoyably different pair of wines, with the Turgy very aromatic with mature aromas and more explosive bubbles.  The Vilmart had a subdued nose but was top-notch in the mouth with a luxurious mousse and all around harmony.  I highly recommend you seek out both of these.


With our palete wet we moved on to a trio of Pinot Noir.  I have written about the 2001 Domaine Serene, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley and 2003 Brick House, Pinot Noir, Cuvée du Tonnelier, Willamette Valley before so I shall pass over those.  The third bottle, in the form of the 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard Clos de Epenaux, showed an attractive maturity with plenty of earthy aromas that pervaded through the mouth.  We have drunk one bottle before that seemed very young, this bottle was very expressive with good strength.


With the bottles of Pinot Noir drained we moved on to a pair of Bordeaux.  Perhaps the 1982 Château Prieurié Lichine, Margaux was destined to be a mere solid experience due to the heat stress in Margaux or the estate itself.  It was, nevertheless, a decent wine that only helped elevate the excellent bottle of 1982 Château Meyney, Saint-Estèphe.  The Meyney proved quite aromatic with satisfying presence in the mouth.  It was both mature and youthful at the same time making for a fine glass.


For the 1978 vintage we opened a pair from Saint-Julien.  I had high hopes for the 1978 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien but this particular bottle offered darker red fruit, that while good, did not have quite the vigor it should have.  The 1978 Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien on the other hand was completely open with its aromatic nose, expansive flavors, and strength.  You could generally say the 1982s were fruitier and the 1978s were more rugged.  More importantly, though, all four bottles provoked delight and were drained of their very last drops.

To transition to the Sauternes course we selected the 1977 Ridge Late Harvest Zinfandel Trentadue Ranch, Sonoma County due to the bit of residual sugar at bottling.  From a drought vintage in California, I was prepared for it to be sherried at this age.  It wasn’t!  In fact it was like a solid, rustic old Californian wine.  Be it the high alcohol level or its age, it drank more like the previous wines than a dessert wine.  Lou is a firm believer in old Ridge wines and this bottle demonstrates why.  I wish I could write more about the wine but I only had a tiny pour as I was quick to check on the Sauternes.

Both of our bottles of Sauterne were from good vintages.  I expected the 1983 Château Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes to be more advanced given the color and simpler given the reputation.  My expectations were met for there was a burst of mouthfilling, dark, botrytised fruit followed by a simpler and shorter finish.  The sweetness was more obvious too.  Quickly down the hatch it went!  With everyone adjusted we poured the 1988 Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes.  This is an important vintage for the vineyard had been replanted, the rebuilding of the chais was complete with new stainless steel tanks, new barriques, and a cold chamber first employed for the 1987 vintage.  Fortunately, the cold chamber was not required for the 1988 vintage which was the first to experience the pneumatic press.  All of these updates showed through the wine.  It was beautiful, more on the elegant side but it sported a finely articulate nose with perfectly balanced fruit, acidity, and sweetness in the mouth.  As Lou commented, it is ready for a long future of development.

Many thanks to Todd, Lisa, and everyone else for such a fun evening!

Liquid research: tasting recent arrivals at MacArthur Beverages.

September 21, 2015 Leave a comment

This past week I joined Phil at MacArthur Beverages to sample several new wine selections.  With the clear bottle, the color of the 2013 Spook Light, Skin Fermented Pinot Gris, Hawke’s Bay might look odd at first.  However, this is a skin fermented wine so the orange-rust color is correct.  It is a generous and rounded wine that has attractive minerals.  I found the 2010 M & S Ogier, l’Ame Soeur, Syrah de Seyssuel, VdP Collines Rhodaniennes to be a subtle example of northern Rhone Syrah.  Though well-made and enjoyable, it did not knock my socks off.  The 2012 Domaine Gramenon, La Sagesse, Cotes du Rhone is a very interesting wine that continued to change and evolve while I was at the store.  Initially it was quite earthy and young then shortly before I left it was more generous with very clean fruit and a beautiful rosemary flavor.  This deserves to be tasted again!  The bottle of 2012 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres reminded me of earlier vintages where I fell in love with the fruit and delivery of flavors unique to Barral.  There was nothing but pleasure from this wine which I recommend you drink within the next two years.  The guys had trolled the Californian dump-bin from which came the 2004 Pax, Red Wine, Sonoma Hillsides, Sonoma County.  Let us just say it was massive.  Tim then returned with a bottle of the 2011 Le Paine, Piane, Colline Novaresi.  I neglected to take a picture but my initial taste of this mostly Croatina based wine was very promising.  There is certainly a different flavor profile to the rather floral, black fruited flavors.  This long, textured wine deserves another visit as well.  Thanks to everyone for letting me join in!


2013 Spook Light, Skin Fermented Pinot Gris, Hawke’s Bay – $35
This wine is 100% skin-fermented Pinot Gris that was rested on the lees in stainless steel until bottled.  Alcohol 13.1%.  This rounded and weighty wine, had red fruit that mixed with a hint of skin/stems, juicy acidity, and a linear mineral streak.


2010 M & S Ogier, l’Ame Soeur, Syrah de Seyssuel, VdP Collines Rhodaniennes – $60
Imported by Robert Kacher.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 13 year old vines that was completely destemmed then aged 18 months in 20% new oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose bore hints of meat, pepper, and some smoke.  In the mouth were purple black fruit with an initially very modest structure.  The wine was harmonious and mouthfilling with some earth-like complexity.  The structure eventually built as did blacker fruit.  A bit shy at this point.


2012 Domaine Gramenon, La Sagesse, Cotes du Rhone – $37
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 60 year old vines that was fermented in cement cuve before aging 12 months in barriques.  The animale nose made way to ripe, quickly expanding flavors of dark red fruit.  This wine continued to change, initially possessing floral flavors that poked through before a hint of tea, then took on complexity from a strong rosemary flavor that mixed with fresh, clean fruit.  There was certainly a very fine, drying tannic structure.  Very interesting.


2012 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres – $26
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This opened up noticeably to offer ripe, red, grippy fruit that had a subtle citric note.  It continued to be a vibrant wine with dark, floral potpourri notes, ripe tannins, a grippy nature, and fruit that almost became sweet.  I like the animale flavors.  This bottle drank very well with consistent stability.


2004 Pax, Red Wine, Sonoma Hillsides, Sonoma County – $20
This wine is a blend of 52% Syrah, 47% Grenache, and 1% Roussanne.  This big red wine was evocative of big Australian wine that had a stemmy, mineral side.