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Exciting French Wines from Barral, Clape, Reynaud, Veryney, and more

Jenn and I have tasted five exciting French red wines this past week.  The latest vintage of the 2014 Domaine La Manarine, Cotes du Rhone  is all about drinkability.  There is both more fruit and accessibility compare with the 2012 vintage.  If you like a brighter rendition of Grenache then grab a bottle for this wine even includes some spice and mineral notes.  Right now the 2014 Domaine A. Clape, Les Vin des Amis is notable for its wonderful nose.  I always find the Les Vin des Amis a unique and traditional wine.  If the flavors catch up with the aroma then this should be a killer wine in a few years.  Last tasted a year ago, the 2013 Domaine Georges Verney, Sainte-Agathe, Cotes du Rhone is now starting to open up.  Though labeled Cotes du Rhone this made from Syrah vines in Condrieu which is right next to Cote-Rotie.  The nose is quite complex and worth purchasing based on that quality alone.  The flavors are savory and dry.  I suspect this will be even better next summer.  The 2011 Domaine des Tours, VdP Vaucluse follows the fantastic 2010 vintage which set a very high bar when tasted this Fall.  If the 2011 vintage is not up to the regard of the 2010 vintage in the Rhone, this wine will not disappoint.  It still offers gobs of ripe strawberry flavors unique to Reynaud just without the sense of future potential.  This bottle did not appreciatively change over five hours.  In my mind, this is an excellent wine to drink while the 2010 develops in your basement.  Finally, I decided to revisit the 2009 Domaine Leon Barral, Valiniere, Faugeres.  My sneaking suspicion is that I prefer some of the older Barral vintages.  This 2009 Valiniere is one example.  There is still a hefty bit of structure but the flavors are starting to take over with exuberant energy.  This is great stuff with broad appeal.  All wines, except for the Barral, are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 Domaine La Manarine, Cotes du Rhone – $14
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age. The fruit was destemmed with elevage taking 20-24 months. Alcohol 14%.  The round fruity start is bright but quickly picks up ripeness, good acidity, and supportive structure.  This is very much a wine for right now.  It is flavorful, has a bit of dry spice, and a blue, mineral finish.  *** Now.


2014 Domaine A. Clape, Les Vin des Amis – $30
Imported by Kermit Lynch.   This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines on soils of round river stones. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks then underwent malolactic fermentation and aging for 6 months in cement cuves and 6 months in foudres. Alcohol 12%.  The grapey color makes way to a fantastic and unique nose full of berry and meat aromas.  In the mouth the wine offers tart, green, and old school flavors marked by  a perfumed start.  A couple hours of air lets the wine flesh out with a tart start, moderate structure, and dry finish.  While the flavors remain on the brighter side of things it does take on the subtlest hint of fat by the end.  Needs a bit more time.  *** perhaps ***(*) Now – 2026.


2013 Domaine Georges Verney, Sainte-Agathe, Cotes du Rhone – $27
Imported by Simon N’ Cellars.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines located near Condrieu.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for one year in use barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The aromatic nose reveals fine tropical floral aromas mixed with sweet mandarin oranges and cardamom.  The flavors are drier and darker in the mouth than I would expect.  There is a touch of savory to the dry red fruit.  While progressing well I would suggest holding off another year.  *** Now – 2022.


2011 Domaine des Tours, VdP Vaucluse – $30
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Counoise, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose complements the forward flavors of ripe strawberry which continue through the aftertaste.  There is more sense of weight with plenty of mouth coating flavors.  It is a seamless wine where the acidity and structure are perfectly bound such that you only notice flavor.  In the end this is a wine to drink now, barely changing with extended air.  **** Now – 2021.


2009 Domaine Leon Barral, Valiniere, Faugeres
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah sourced from 15-30 year old vines. The wine was aged 24 to 26 months in 10% new oak.  Alcohol 14%.  There is much more approachable concentrated fruit that is almost thick with extract.  The fine tannins are still there though they become riper towards the middle where a sense of freshness quickly makes way to strapping and exuberant energy.  The fruit overlays the acidity.  After a few hours the wine fleshes out with cool blue fruit and a little fat.  The structure (and energy!) will allow this wine to develop for many more years but the flavors have expanded enough that this is downright pleasurable to drink.  **** Now – 2028.



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