Archive for October, 2015

The classic and timeless 1975 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva

October 14, 2015 Leave a comment

I am neck deep in wine research and as of this week, fortunate to have again drunk centuries worth of old wine.  As as proxy to all of this archival and liquid history I am publishing my tasting note for the 1975 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva.  Jenn and I drank this bottle a few months back when we were still living in the old house.  I had packed up my empty bottles and recently found this bottle hiding in a box up in the attic of all places.


Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co) takes pride and makes it a point to source his wine from only the best cellars.  This high standard was clearly evident in our bottle which slowly blossomed over the course of our evening.  I am no expert in old wine, though my experience continues to accumulate, but you can tell a proper bottle by its freshness.  From the beautiful nose to the charming flavors, this bottle was an experience with a classic Rioja.  And like classic, well-stored Rioja, at 40 years of age this wine is only hitting its stride.  Incredible!  This wine was purchased from The Rare Wine Co.


1975 Bodegas Riojanas, Monte Real, Rioja Reserva
Imported by Vieux Vins.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Cenicero vineyards and was aged 24-30 months in American oak. Alcohol 11-14%.  The nose engaged with its fine aromas of mature red fruit backed by an orange hint.  With air a combination of roast earth and wood box scents came out.  The mouth followed with similar, fresh flavors of tart red fruits and ripe cranberry.  The acidity is spot-on and integrated.  It was a touch riper with air and finished with an attractive, earthy and eventually minerally, firmer finish.  The roast earth aromas also played a minor role in the aftertaste.  **** Now-2024+.


The declining 1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment

The 18th century estate of Chateau Fourcas-Hosten was acquired by a syndicate in 1971.  The previous owners left unsold vintages in casks in case there were any bulk orders in the future.  Unfortunately, this meant that quantities of 1966 had yet to be bottled when the syndicate took possession in 1972.  Thus the 1970s represent a turnaround period of which David Peppercorn found the 1975 “[a] tremendous wine, very rich and powerful, with considerable weight”.  Sadly, this bottle of 1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac should have been drunk years ago. This did not come as a great surprise but as I am a curious fellow, I am willing to try a wine at the right price.  This bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac
Shipped by Rineau.  Imported by The Rineau Wines Co.  A nearly equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a splash of Cabernet Franc.  This wine would have seen 25% new oak.  Alcohol 11%.  The nose bore roast earth and after some bottle-funk blew off, it was clearly old.  In the mouth was a fresh structure that had a spicy bit from the grippy, ripe tannins.  There was salivating acidity and some heat for the fuzzy, red fruit had mostly faded away.  It did take on some weight but what was left of the fruit remained fuzzy and overpowered by the roast earth and tannins.  *(*) Now.


A century old image of loading wine at Jaffa

I am waist-deep in research on two different topics right now so I have no time to post anything substantial.  One project, as Elizabeth Gabay MW (Elizabeth Gabay MW) pointed out involves early phylloxera in the eastern Mediterranean.  The other project involves a Madeira shipper during the 18th century.  Until I make some short-term progress, here is a great image of wine barrels being loaded onto skinny boats at Jaffa.

Loading wine at Jaffa. c 1917. [1]

Loading wine at Jaffa. c 1917. [1]

[1] Hyamson, Albert Montefiore. Palestine: The Rebirth of an Ancient People. 1917. URL:

Image of the wine harvest in Palestine some 100 years ago

Between jury duty, wine research, and my day job I am hard pressed to find spare time to post.  So for today I am featuring a picture of the wine harvest from an unknown vineyard in Palestine taken some 100 years ago.

The Wine Harvest in Palestine. c 1917. [1]

The Wine Harvest in Palestine. c 1917. [1]

[1] Hyamson, Albert Montefiore. Palestine: The Rebirth of an Ancient People. 1917. URL:

Surprised by an Italian sparkler

October 6, 2015 1 comment

I have been tricked by bottles before such as when a very dark bottle turns out to contain a white wine and not a red.  Most recently, had I done any research (I never do before I open something) or drunk Gragnano before I would have know that this 2014 Grotta del Sole, Otto Uve, Gragnano dell Penisola Sorrentina was a young, sparkling wine.  It contained enough bubbles to be served colder than cellar temperature but not so much that it required a wire-cage to prevent the tapered cork from flying out.  So into the refrigerator it went.  I followed the wine for several nights, one glass at a time.  This blend of eight different varieties proved to be complex, flavorful stuff, very much akin to drinking a robust red wine with bubbles. Think of it as a rugged sparkling wine for a bracingly cold fall night. This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 Grotta del Sole, Otto Uve, Gragnano dell Penisola Sorrentina – $14
Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections.  This is a blend of Aglianico, Piedirosso, Sciascinoso,Olivella, Supprezza, Castagnara, Sauca, and Surbegna. Alcohol 11.5%.  There was a low-amount of firm bubbles.  The dark flavors made complex by the baking spices became noticeably drier in the middle and eventually, quite thick.  Upon revisiting it was really a complex wine despite the grapey, youthful start.  I particularly liked the play between dryness and spices as well as the continued presence on the tongue.  *** Now.


Solid values from the south of France

October 2, 2015 2 comments

I apologize for the long silence.  I was caught down in the rabbit hole of research only to end up with a cold.

The Chateau d’Oupia, Les Heretiques has graced our tables as a house wine many times in the past. The 2014 Chateau d’Oupia, Les Heretiques, VdP d’Herault is the latest vintage which continues to be released at a very low price.  I found it a little soft for my preference but have no fear for only $12 you may purchase the rather good 2013 Chateau d’Oupia, Minervois.  This wine blends vibrant acidity with black fruit, minerals, and even racy hints.  It will drink well for the next couple of years so you can stock up.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 Chateau d’Oupia, Les Heretiques, VdP d’Herault – $10
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is made from 100% Carignan sourced from 40+ year old vines. Half the fruit was fermented in barrel and the other half by carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a soft entry with tart fruit before a lower-acidity profile of mulberry and red fruit became noticeable on the tongue.  It did have a bit of a dry-cola grip and some liveliness.  This might last a bit but really is a daily wine for now.  ** Now.


2013 Chateau d’Oupia, Minervois – $12
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, and 10% Grenache sourced from 50+ year old vines.   Alcohol 13.5%.  This wine started with a bit of vibrant acidity driving the increasingly black and mineral flavors.  There was some midpalate relaxation as the wine took on weight.  With air it showed good focus and even became a touch racy.  *** Now – 2017.