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A bit too old, Monte Antico and Pio Cesare from 1979

November 9, 2016 3 comments

My friend Sudip is a gambling man who is all for trying any old vintage of wine.  A gamble and a bit of recklessness was all that was required to try the 1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany.  Neil and Maria Empson started Monte Antico in 1977, some five years after founding their wine importing company.  Monte Antico is a super-Tuscan wine, meaning it is a blend of Sangiovese with international varieties, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Super-Tuscans grew in popularity during 1970s.  This particular wine is one I drank with some occurrence during my university years in the 1990s because it was affordable.  I had no expectation it would be a decent drink or even palatable, being a budget wine, but the bottle looked good, the price was cheap, and it reminded me of times past.  The color was in the autumnal brown spectrum and the nose was advanced, as in roasted earth.  But in the mouth it was surprisingly round with hints of sweet fruit that developed into licorice.  But for the nose it would rate higher.

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Two wines from the same vintage makes for more fun.  I expected the 1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva to be better than the Monte Antico and it was.  This was another cheap purchase made years ago.  After an hour of air, I simply pulled the cork.  The wine gave all that it could.  The fruit has departed leaving leather and mushroom but the lively, tense acidity still remains.  It fades soon in the glass.  Neither bottle was finished but other young wines were.  Sudip had fun.

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1979 Castello di Monte Antico, Tuscany
Shipped by Neil Empson.  Imported by Wine Imports.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose initially smelled of roasted earth then celery.  It is much better in the mouth, round with hints of sweet fruit.  Certainly old but bits of fruit and licorice come out.  Two stars for flavor but overall  * Now.

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1979 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva
Imported by Paterno Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though an advanced color it had a lively tension.  It is simple at first and surprisingly closed.  After an hour of air it opened up.  All fruit gone having left just bottle aged flavors of leather, mushroom, and a very fine texture.  ** Now.

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Cinsault and Pinot Noir from California

November 9, 2016 Leave a comment

We recently went through a few bottles of the 2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi.  Last tasted nearly a year ago I think it is time to start drinking up any of your remaining stocks.  From Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman the 2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills manages to be a lighter wine with lower alcohol and avoid any unripe, yeasty character.  I rather enjoyed the flavor and the price.  My only gripe is the short finish.  Worth trying though.  The Birichino is from Weygant Wines and the Lompoc from MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi – $24
This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from vines planted in 1886.    Alcohol 13%.  After one hour of air there are aromas of powdery, light red strawberry.  There are similar flavors in the mouth of candied, cherry, strawberry in this smooth yet very finely textured wine.  This bright red fruited wine is quite nice and while lighter towards the finish the fruit leaves an impression of weight.  It could use just a touch more acidity. **(*) Now – 2017.

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2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – $18
Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a light nose of cinnamon and early harvest fruit.  In the mouth the wine is a touch puckering but does have powdery ripeness and ethereal strawberry flavor.  The wine expands quickly with a sense of weight but stops a bit short in the finish.  The bright entry makes way to a mineral like hint and even some grip.  **(*) Now.

1977 Quarles Harris, Vintage Port

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

The leaves are falling and so are the temperatures.  This is perfect weather for a glass of Port at the end of an evening.  With an eye to drink beyond our typical 10 year old tawny favorites I started the season off with a bottle of 1977 Quarles Harris, Vintage Port.  Quarles Harris is a very old Port house dating back to 1680.  Under this name the wines have been available in America since at least the 1840s.  Nearly 100 years ago it was bought by the Symingtons and now represents inexpensive vintage Port.

I have not drunk a bottle of Quarles  Harris since my Bristol days but I had no fear about trying one from the stellar 1977 vintage.  This bottle peaked on the second night proving that at the right price this berry flavored, textured Port is a pleasing alternative to a young tawny.

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1977 Quarles Harris, Vintage Port
Imported by French Regional Wine Shippers of London.  Tobacco on the nose.  In the mouth is a round start with candied fruit before the drier middle.  It responds well to air.  The berry start develops integrated grainy textured fruit with a sweetness that clings to the mouth.  It is spiced in the finish along with some wood notes before the simpler aftertaste.  *** Now will certainly last but not improve.

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Recent French Wines

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

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The time I spend on research continues unabated but I am still tasting wine every day. Here is a group of tasting notes from the most recently consumed French wines.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cuvee Jules Rochebonne, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Simon N’ Cellars. This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache.  The former was aged for 18 months in stainless steel tanks and the later for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%.  There is a complex, meaty, black fruited nose which takes on a tobacco and smoke hint.  In the mouth are some bitter black fruit, coarser, spaced-out tannins, and that ethereal flavor consistent with this cuvee.  There is the meaty Syrah component but the wine tightens up with air.  Might rate higher with age.  *** 2018-2023.

2015 Camille Cayran, L’Elegante, Cairanne – $15
Imported by G & B Importers.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 20% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose sports good perfume, violets, and pepper hints.  In the mouth it is still a bit tight with focused blue and black fruit.  There is a dense, citrus, and powdery flavored middle.  It softens a touch with an inky finish and some fine pencil notes.  This still needs a year to relax the drying tannins.  *** 2017-2020.

2014 Olga Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 13%.  The floral, leaning towards vegetal nose makes way to black fruit flavors in the mouth.  Saline flavors give a sense of weight but tart, vegetal black fruit comes out.  This salty wine has edge acidity and is more for short term drinking.  ** Now – 2018.

2015 Herve Souhaut, Syrah, Vin de France -$27
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  There are gentle, attractive flavors of violets and orange flavored fruit.  The dry structure is apparent from the start as is the moderately watery and juicy acidity which carries through the dry flavors of graphite in the finish.  The wine does come across with some vibrancy and with air shows that it needs time to develop.  ***(*) 2018-2023.

2015 Domaine de la Voute des Crozes, Cotes de Brouilly – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is subtle yet bright.  The tart red fruited entry does build weight into the linear, citric acidity infused middle.  There is a touch of ethereal, ripe powdery flavors but that tart start never leaves one’s mind.  It finishes with salivating acidity and a ripe hint of citric fruit and tannins left on the gum. **(*) 2017-2020.

Age worthy Fleurie from Clos de la Roilette

November 1, 2016 Leave a comment

Patience will rewards those who purchase this pair of 2015 vintage wine from Clos de la Roilette.  I found them tight upon first opening so I waited another 48 hours before trying them again.  If you are considering laying down these wines you should just spend the extra $6 to buy the 2015 Coudert (Clos de la Roilette), Cuvée Tardive, Fleurie.  While it clearly needs age it already reveals more complexity on the nose and in the mouth.  Beyond flavor it offers weight and texture that feels good in the mouth.  It is more impressively put together so it will readily develop until the next decade.  At that point you should be able to drink it after pulling the cork and not days later.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Coudert (Clos de la Roilette), Fleurie – $24
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 30-40 year old vines that underwent semi-carbonic maceration then was aged in large oak foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  The tart red and black fruit is almost puckering and certainly brighter.  This is a the grapier of the pair but with the stuffing to age.  *** 2018- 2025.

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2015 Coudert (Clos de la Roilette), Cuvée Tardive, Fleurie – $30
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 80 year old vines on clay soils that underwent semi-carbonic maceration then was aged in large oak foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  This is quite dark in the glass with a tangy nose of berries and complex potpourri.  In the mouth this is a dense, almost silky wine.  Perhaps raw silk is a better description for the flavors are textured and weighty.  Mulled berries take on blacker fruit in the finish as well as a licorice note.  There is a dose of fine, drying tannins in the end which will help see this wine through many years of age.  ***(*) 2019-2030.

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