Archive for July, 2016

Impressive Northern Rhone

David Bloch is on a roll with the 2003 vintage in the Rhone.


2003 Domaine du Colombier, Hermitage
Alcohol 14%.  Big and meaty. Leather. Dark and deep Syrah. Sweet fruit at the same time. Licorice. Clumps of sediment. No heat present in spite of the vintage.  Wine is quite structured but has a nice, rich lushness across the mid palate and a really, really long finish. Drinking so well right now.

A Ribera del Duero for Short-Term Aging

July 15, 2016 1 comment

The 2013 Finca Torremilanos, Los Cantos, Ribera del Duero bears interesting flavors of black fruit and orange citrus.  It is, however, young.  The structure of very fine tannins needs time to soften and the cocoa needs to integrate.   So stick a bottle or two in your cellar and see what happens!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2013 Finca Torremilanos, Los Cantos, Ribera del Duero – $18
Imported by Vine Pro Imports.  This wine is 95% Tempranillo and 5% Merlot that was aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 14%.  In the mouth are flavors of black, perfumed and powdery fruit with a little orange citrus added in.  There are young, very fine tannins which contribute a cocoa flavored edge to slightly bitter, black fruited finish.  **(*) 2017 – 2021.

Super [Duper] Itata Tinto from Chile

Some fantastic, completely original wine comes out of Chile and are made available in Washington, DC from time to time.  This short list includes the wines of Louis-Antoine Luyt and Derek Mossman’s Garage Wine Co.  I must now include Leo Erazo’s Rogue Wine Co.  Leo Erazo is a winemaker and viticulturalist at Altos Las Hormigas in Argentina.  The Rogue Wine Co. is a young project with partner Justin Decker that focuses on making wine from the Itata Valley in Chile.

The Itata Valley has been home to vines since the 16th century.  Today there are still old dry-farmed, bush vines dating back over 60 years of age.  These vines are located on hillsides where the soils are primarily granitic.  At Rogue Wine Co., the wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts, only see old wood, a little sulphur, and are not acidity corrected.  What you get are complex aromas, black fruit, and crunchy acidity.  This is a fresh wine but I cannot help but suspect it will be more relaxed and open come winter time.  Be sure to try a bottle now but also squirrel away a few more for later.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2013 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto, Itata Valley – $27
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 33% Syrah, 33% Malbec, and 33% Carignan that was aged in old barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  There are complex aromas of smoke, tart black fruit, and vanilla.  In the mouth this fresh wine, bears similar black fruit with some wood notes and tangy grip.  The flavors are light yet expansive in the mouth.  The crunchy acidity is particularly attractive.  ***(*) Now – 2020.


Excellent 2008 Bründlmayer, 2008 Cayuse, and a few others

A few weeks ago I joined Lou for a game meat  (moose, rabbit, etc) dinner party at his house.  I took few pictures and even fewer notes but I did stop when I tasted the 2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling.  Lou purchased this bottle a few years back when he was in Vienna.  Lucky me that he opened it. Bründlmayer produces this wine from a 4 hectare parcel in Steinmassel.  This area was originally a quarry and that stone nature clearly comes through in the wine.  This is really good stuff!


2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling that was fermented in both stainless steel and large oak casks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is aromatic with fresh floral notes and a petrol hint.  In the mouth this vibrant wine begins with white fruit that morphs into petrol followed by a decidedly stoney finish.  There is richness to the wine but the flavors are dry with a citric, grippy finish.  This is on the upslope of maturity and will only get better.  **** Now – 2026.


There were other wines too.  A 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut Blanc de Noir, Sonoma Valley really hit the spot.  It is mature with the right amount of bubbles and brioche.  Others liked it as well for the bottle was rapidly drained.  The 2010 Palazzone, Orvieto Classico Superiore Campo del Guardiano is far more mature than the Bründlmayer.  The acidity is more piercing with flavors of orchard fruit, dried herbs, and lychees.  A solid wine in comparison.  We finally had a solid bottle of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, Graves.  It was completely drinkable, not too far over the hill, but not worth writing any more about.

I really liked the 2009 Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas.  It was four years ago that I last drank this and I now believe it is fully mature.  There is less strawberry and Kirsch flavor now.  It leans towards an autumnal spectrum with the tannins fully integrated.  We soon swung towards the modern spectrum with the 2011 Clos St Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape (16% ABV!) and 2008 Cayuse, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley.  Both wines were double-decanted for several hours.  The Clos St Jean showed rather well with plenty of grip and some complexity.  But it was the Cayuse which wowed me.  My best description is as if Chateau des Tours made wine in Walla Walla.  Ethereal yet backed by substance, complex with no assertive structure.  Great stuff.  There was a bottle of 2013 El Nido, Clio, Jumilla which I did not like at all.  Too modern, clean, and massive.  We wrapped the evening up with a bottle of 1986 Fetzer, Port, Mendocino County.  This actually bore a resemblance to a traditional Port.  It was a bit simple, short, and spirituous but the flavor profile was right.

A Smorgasbord of Wines!


2003 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin, Charmes-Chambertin
Wow. This is just a great bottle of aged Burg. Tannins have all but disappeared leaving a rich palate of sweet and ripe dark fruits without any of the heat of the vintage. Secondary nuances include some earth, mushroom decay and some umami that makes this wine something special.  From a producer better known for his whites, this is a lovely Grand Cru. DB.

NV Jean Velut, Champagne Blanc de Blancs
I liked it more as a wine than a Champagne. Very small, almost imperceptible bead – just a fine delicate fizz.  Golden yellow. Citrus. Bright.  Nice mineral cut.  A lot of acid to balance out the richness. DB.


2000 Lamborghini (La Fiorita), Campoleone Umbria IGT
A great mature Italian.  Very distinctive in that the blend (half Sangiovese/half Merlot) really packs a punch in terms of richness and depth.  Beautiful floral nose.  Some ripe red fruit  and blueberry when first sipped, turning toward older leather and spice on the mid-palate.  A big wine with a long finish.   Still youthful but developed. DB.

A Bottle of White, A Bottle of Red


2014 Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilia SP68 Bianco
I absolutely love this wine.  I found myself initially thinking I was up in the Alto Adige with some lively Kerner in my glass.  Outrageously floral.  The white twin to the red Ruché aromatically.  The wine tricks the palate – don’t be fooled by the ripe notes of peach and apricot, as the wine is dry.  The wine could use a touch more acidity but on balance this is a beautiful warm weather white.  I would not age the wine. DB.

2014 Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilia SP68 Nero d’Avola e Frappato
A little rustic at the beginning.  Red fruits – cherry and wild strawberries.  Then earth and some funk.  But in a good way.  This blend works well.  Medium length in the mouth.  The last sip reminded me of a very young Northern Rhone Syrah with the flash of violets on the palate.  Finished long. DB.

Another Excellent Wine from Pas de L’Escalette

With just a short period of breathing, the 2014 Domaine du Pas de L’Escalette, Languedoc will draw you in. The aromas are youthful and grapey but the flavors of the wine are serious.  You will find lip-smacking berries that will fill your mouth yet will not weigh you down.  This is perhaps the most forward wine I have drunk from this estate so I recommend you start drinking it right now.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 Domaine du Pas de L’Escalette, Languedoc – $17
Imported by Elite Wines.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a youthful red, ruby, grapey color followed by a fruity nose of strawberry aromas.  In the mouth the clean and bright flavors are of red berries and black fruit.  The wine is almost lip-smacking with a modest amount of tannins and watering acidity.  It is also gently mouthfilling.  *** Now – 2017.


A Bargain Bordeaux


2004 Chateau Quinault, l’Enclos, Saint-Emilion
This was $25 when offered on futures.  A total steal.   A nose of dark berries and herbs.   Undeniably a Right Banker.  Mocha and some dark cherry on entry.  Some pencil and smoking embers.  Wine is really mature and maybe beginning to dry out a bit.  Drink up and enjoy. DB.

An excellent 2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve

I tasted a number of good bottles over the last holiday week including one from New York.  My experiences with excellent wine from New York is solely due to Lou who has visited the Finger Lakes.  On the 4th of July, he opened the 2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve, Finger Lakes.  He bought this at the winery and I believe it was the last bottle.  How lucky for us!  You get that modest bit of herbal or greenhouse flavor which reminds you that you are drinking Cabernet Franc.  The wine is well balanced and lively.  Though driven by acidity, the flavors are weighty and perfumed.  It slowly improved with air and I strongly suspect it will continue to develop in the bottle.


2009 Hermann J. Wiemer, Cabernet Franc Reserve, Finger Lakes
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There are articulate flavors of grapey, greenhouse infused fruit.  The wine is weight with acidity driven vigor.  With air the dry flavors expand in the mouth through the perfumed finish.  ***(*) Now – 2021.


Pungo’d for Pleasure

David Bloch uses the Pungo so he can drink a wide variety of wines every day of the week. Here is one recent selection.


2015 Domaine de Fonsainte, Gris de Gris, Corbieres
An annual purchase from the Kermit Lynch portfolio.  The wine performs so well every vintage.  This year’s bottling is as impressive as ever.  Apple, pear, minerals and melon.  Not a bruiser but flavor-packed and food friendly.

2012 Von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Great nose.  Almost a real Saar Kabinett.  Bitter almond.  Cream.  Lemon tart.  An extremely well-balanced wine – plenty of ripe fruit with a nice streak of acid and minerals.  Really long.  A baby with a long life ahead.

2000 Fratelli Revello, Barolo Vigna Giachini
Really nice wine. Mature. Floral and sweet even. On the red fruit spectrum.  Oddly, day two found a very tannic wine that wasn’t nearly as good as day one. Therein lies the unpredictable nature of Nebbiolo.

2010 Domaine les Grands Bois, Rasteau Cuvée Marc
On the large size, the tannins have integrated and the wine is a big mouthful of the Southern Rhone. Black fruited – I think the Mourvedre really pushes forward while it only accounts for a minority of the cepage.  Spices.   A tad overdone perhaps?  I suspect the wine may have needed more time to mellow.  Good with beef.