Archive

Archive for November, 2017

A trio of Cinsault from Itata in Chile

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

If you are looking for interesting and tasty wines then I suggest you grab the three bottles of Cinsault featured in this post.  All three wines are made from old vines grown in the Itata Valley of Chile yet they are radically different wines.

The most exciting wine is the 2015 Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Tinto, Itata Valley.  There is a deep, earthy note which immediately confers complexity to the bright, lifted red fruit.  I find it downright tasty but the wine requires a few more months of age to reach maximum flavor.  The 2014 Viñateros Bravos, Canto a lo Divino Cinsault, Itata Valley is the lightest of the trio.  It smells like the pine trees of New Mexico and is clearly a lighter wine yet has roundness in the mouth.  You will find a mouthful of berries with the 2015 Pedro Parra y Familia, Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley.  The fruit is very forward making this a wine to drink now yet there is a supporting spine of lively acidity.  My only gripe is that there is a bit too much fruit for my preference.

Each one of these wines is full of character which is a treat given the reasonable prices.  You may find all three selections at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Rogue Vine, Grand Itata Tinto, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 95% Cinsault and 5% Pais from vines planted in 1960.  Alcohol 13%. There is a touch of deep earth to the bright red fruit aromas.  In the mouth this is an acidity driven, dry wine with watering acidity.  There is a core of ripe cranberry fruit, some black fruit, and baking spices.  There is good flavor and even a luxurious element of fat.  The with is focused  yet ethereal with lifted earth notes in the finish where it wraps up dry.  ***(*) 2018 – 2022.

2014 Viñateros Bravos, Canto a lo Divino Cinsault, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Ripe Wine Imports. This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from 60 year old vines on basalt soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 12.8%.  A light cranberry color.  The wine smells like fresh pine trees.  It is finely textured in the mouth with dry, red fruit.  The body is quite round with a touch of fat though it remains lithe through the mouth.  *** Now – 2019.

2015 Pedro Parra y Familia, Imaginador Cinsault, Itata Valley – $20
Imported by Ripe Wine Imports.  This wine is a field blend of 80% Cinsault with some Muscat, Semillon, and Pais and 20% Carignan  sourced from 71-110 year old vines on red quartzic granite soils.  It was raised on both cement and stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  A medium purple ruby.  This is a ripe, fruity wine with a lively underpinning.  It is for up-front drinking, packed with mouth filling flavors, spices, and a weighty, puckering finish.  It becomes drier with gum coating tannins in the aftertaste.  **(*) Now – 2018.

An approachable Rasteau

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Guillaume Gonnet has produced wine at his family estate since 2006.  His short duration in the Southern Rhone is most likely why this is a new wine for me.  I typically find young Rasteau a bit burly but not the 2015 Guillaume Gonnet, Le Maestro, Rasteau.   This is a gentle, savory wine that can be enjoyed now.  This approachability might be a bit atypical but it tastes good!  You can grab a few bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Guillaume Gonnet, Le Maestro, Rasteau – $17
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was vinified and aged in concrete vats.  Alcohol 14%.  There is a little plum and prune on the nose.  In the mouth this is a gentle wine with cool, dark red fruit flavors that turn racy in the middle.  Here it becomes mineral with black and fine spicy, baking spices.  It is dry in the long finish.  Overall, a very approachable, savory wine.  *** Now – 2019.

Gamay for Thanksgiving

November 24, 2017 Leave a comment

For Thanksgiving this year I served six different bottles of Gamay all of which are currently available for purchase.  The 2015 La Dernière Goutte, Sang Neuf is the first wine I had everyone taste.  I must admit I was very curious to try this wine because it is imported by Jeffrey Snow of Glou Glou Wines.  Some of you may know Jeff from his days as a wine distributor in the Washington, DC, area.  A few years ago he moved to France for university which precipitated, based on the stream of vineyard and open bottle pictures I saw, some serious research.  Jeff is back in the area importing the wines he loves to drink in France. This first bottle I have tried of his is produced by Cyrille Vuillod who farms vines in St-Etienne la Varenne.  Vuillod does not add anything to his wine including sulphur dioxide.  They are bottled with the natural carbon dioxide as a preservative so there is spritz even after double-decanting.  Jeff writes of freshness and now I understand!  The 2015 vintage was very warm in Beaujolais but Vuillod’s wines, which normally achieve 11%-12% alcohol, came in at 13%.  The wine is surprisingly deep at first but with air the flavors become tart carried by some killer, crunchy acidity.  The wine is stable too.  Grab a bottle if you want to learn what freshness is all about!

As for the other bottles I served, the 2015 Guillaume Gilles, Les Massardieres confirms once again that it is an awesome bottle of wine.  The 2015 Jean-Paul Brun, Moulin a Vent Terres Dorees remained rather focused and tight all day.  It did develop an attractive, creamy finish but this wine is best cellared for a few years.  The 2015 Jean Foillard, Morgon Cote du Py certainly has strong potential.  Buy a few bottles for your cellar.  Of the 2016 and 2015 Lapierre, Morgon I preferred the 2016.  I really enjoy the sweaty, earthy components of the 2015 but it felt, in comparison, weighed down as the 2016 is crisp and vigorous.  All of these wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 La Dernière Goutte, Sang Neuf – $26
Imported by Glou Glou Wines.  Alcohol 13%.  A slight spritz hangs around.  The wine is unmistakably, very fresh with almost crunch acidity supported the spiced red fruit.  The wine is deep at first but with air the fruit brightens up.  This is a textured wine with an ethereal expansion of flavor.  It is rounder near the end when it takes on tartness and weight. ***(*) Now – 2018.

2015 Guillaume Gilles, Les Massardieres – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 13%.  Slightly textured with deep flavor of cranberries, red fruit, and a notion of minerals.  It becomes drier towards the finish with additional complexity from spices that last through the aftertaste.  Lovely.  **** Now – 2022.

2015 Jean-Paul Brun, Moulin a Vent Terres Dorees – $25
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Alcohol 13%.  The wine remains focused with a perfumed start, red fruit, and minerals.  There are grapey hints in the tart, watering acidity driven finish.  It is lighter and drier in nature but with a surprisingly creamy finish.  It does not give up much right so is in need of age.  **(*) 2019-2030.

2015 Jean Foillard, Morgon Cote du Py – $40
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine first reveals tart red fruit, grippy cranberry, and watering acidity.   After several hours the middle rounds out, the baking spices and acidity become integrated, and it develops weight.  It even takes a honied texture in the middle.  I think there is good potential here.  ***(*) 2019-2027.

2015 Lapierre, Morgon en magnum – $55
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 13.5%.  There is mineral driven red fruit with some black hints.  The flavors are dense, somewhat low-lying, with a sweaty and earthy finish.  *** Now – 2018.

2016 Lapierre, Morgon – $22
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 13%.  A good nose is followed by fresh and perfumed flavors in the mouth. The clean red fruit has grapey weight and a ripe, lifted finish.  Crisp compared to the 2015 vintage.  ***(*) Now – 2019.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2017 1 comment

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family,

Aaron

 

This wine will save you money

November 22, 2017 Leave a comment

I received an email this week from a friend, a passionate home cook and ever-increasing wine lover, that he already drank his Thanksgiving day wines.  If you find yourself in this predicament or you need to supply a large volume of wine to your family and friends then look no further than the 2013 Sella & Mosca,Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva.  I recommended that you buy the previous vintage by the case and I make the same recommendation with the 2013.  Already with bottle age, it should deliver deep yet lively flavor over the course of the next year.  You may pick this up from the front rack at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Sella & Mosca,Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $13
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This is 100% Cannonau that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for two years in large Slavonian oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine opens up quickly, within half an hour, to reveal dark red, grippy and spiced mouth filling flavor.  The wine has moderate roundness, acidity driven strength such that it is lively on the tongue, and a sense of dry firmness in the finish.  It should develop over the next half year.  *** Now – 2019.

Two old Special Selection wines from California

November 21, 2017 Leave a comment

One evening this summer, Mannie and I sat outside with our families for dinner.  The theme for the meal was old Californian wine, a favorite subject of mine, both historically and gustatory.  Our first bottle, the 1969 Louis M. Martini, Special Selection California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was produced by  Louis P. Martini who took over management of his father’s winery the year before.  It was that same year, in 1968, that the Californian wine boom took off and wine production began to accelerate.  In the span of one year, from 1969 to 1970 the volume of table wine produced in California increased by more than 25%.  The new interest in wine extended beyond the staggering increase in consumption, Californian wines made inroads at the White House and Heublein held their first rare wine auction conducted by Michael Broadbent.

Californian Zinfandel rode the boom during which our second bottle of 1977 Montevina, Special Selection Zinfandel, Amador County was produced.  Zinfandel was to became widely discovered after Bob Trinchero released his 1968 Sutter Home, Zinfandel from old vines in Amador County.  Amador County Zinfandel would eventually be considered “the biggest, richest, spiciest, and most intensely flavored red wines” produced in America.  As a result, the price for Amador County Zinfandel skyrocketed from $68 per ton in 1968 up to $400-$500 per ton in 1980.  During this period there was also a small scene of skyrocketing alcohol levels.

The first post-Prohibition winery in Amador County is Cary Gott’s Montevina Winery.  Founded in 1970, it was a full-fledged professional operation by 1973.  During the late 1970s the wines were being sold and favorably reviewed  both on the west coast and the east coast.  Frank J. Prial’s 1979 suggestions on which wines to select at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City include “the great Montevina zinfandel” from 1974.  He would later describe the 1976 vintage as “big, intense wine without a lot of elegance but great fun to drink.”

The Montevina fruit came from 120 acres of vines, most over 30 years of age and many over 70 years of age.  They were dry-farmed which stressed the vines in the intense heat yielding “deeply colored, more concentrated juice”.  If the regular bottlings of Zinfandel reached 15%, the more tannic and alcoholic Special Selection were higher.  The 1977 Special Selection Zinfandel reached a reported 16%.  These were the levels achieved naturally.  The 1977 vintage occurred during a second consecutive drought year which when coupled with longer hang time only compounded levels.  Mt. Veeder’s late harvest Zinfandel reached 17.2% and Sutter Home made a late harvest Zinfandel in 1977 which reached 17% alcohol.  Bob Trinchero described it as a “very, very difficult wine to drink.”

By 1980, Bob Trinchero felt the fad “for these, big monster Zinfandels” died off.  The wines were no longer bargains due to gaining respect.  That same year Terry Roberts of The New York Times published a list of “complex and robust zinfandels” made by David Bruce, Mayacamas, Montevina, Ridge Vineyard, Sonoma Vineyard, and Sutter Home.  That is quite a list of names.

As for the wines the 1969 Martini is fully mature.  The flavors are still complex but the wine is gentle and shortening up.  The 1977 Montevina is a mouth full.  It does not have the complexity of the Martini but there is an interesting inky, mineral middle.  It is almost like a dry Port and will last for decades.  Neither wine blew me away but in reflecting the beginning and middle of the California wine boom I find them fascinating.

1969 Louis M. Martini, Special Selection California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Napa and Sonoma Counties. Alcohol 12.5%. The old-school, tangy red fruit is accompanied by leather and vintage perfume. The flavors dry up towards the shorter finish.  *** Now.

1977 Montevina, Special Selection Zinfandel, Amador County
Alcohol 15%. From the mouth filling start to the mouth filling finish this wine is substantial. It is almost thick in the mouth with an interesting mineral middle, inky nature, and baking spiced finish. *** Now but will last.

A tasting of 2013-1999 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Blind tasting wine in a friendly group is great fun.  That is the ritual of the tasting group assembled this past weekend at Andy’s house.  I find the experience sharply exposes the limits of my experience, reaffirming thoughts on what I must taste next year.

Before any deduction could began I took repeated small pours of the satisfying 2006 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs.  If you have not tried this Champagne then you must.  The restrained level of bubbles, deep flavor, and racy body make this a wine you want to simply drink.  No thought required.

It was not easy to determine if we were presented with a vertical, horizontal, or even New World and Old World wines.  The first two wines, still with prominent unintegrated oak and fresh acidity, had me leaning towards an Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon based wine.  The bottles encountered in the middle were more integrated and had flavors that brought one’s mind back to Europe.  The last bottles were the most mature with a flavor unmistakably French.  Then, in circling back to the first two wines, which had changed dramatically, you could catch whiffs of the Viognier added to Syrah.  A few questions to Andy confirmed a vertical with a couple of people soon narrowing it down to Cote-Rotie.  Then the wines were revealed as Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis.

Etienne Guigal and his future wife Marcelle met just outside of Chateau d’Ampuis in 1934.  Some sixty years later their son Marcel purchased the then ruin and set out to restore the property.  The oldest parts date back to the 12th century with the core of the building to the 16th century.  The first vintage of Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis came in 1995, the same year it was purchased.

The fruit for these wines comes from Guigal’s lieux-dits in both Brune and Blonde with the Viognier all from the later.  The wine is typically a blend of 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier from vines averaging 40 to 60 years of age.  The fruit is vinified and raised separately for 38 months in new oak casks.

Based on our tasting the new oak is certainly evident in young vintages of 2011, 2012, and 2013 so these must clearly be cellared.  Beginning with the excellent 2009 and strong 2006 vintages there is noticeable integration allowing you to appreciate the wine as a whole.  While you may drink them for pleasure I would cellar them further.  The 2003, 2001, and 1999 vintages clearly reveal mature flavors with the 2003 and 1999 the most ready to drink.  This was a very consistent tasting with all of the vintages showing well and offering a lot of satisfaction.

2006 Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
Alcohol 12.5%.  Ripe white fruit and spices are immediately appartment in this rich, racy wine.  There are moderate bubbles which make this very easy to drink.   The generous flavor is still focused and reveals just a touch of yeast in the end.  A great drink! ****(*) Now why wait?

2012 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  Plum and sweet aromas on the nose.  A round start with a young grapey core, mid-palate weight, and drying, fine tannins with a mocha flavor that come out in the finish.  It tastes modern at first with cool acidity but with air clean fruit and floral undertone come out.  The oak still needs to integrate.  ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

2013 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5 %.  An acidity driven start mixed with cinnamon flavors.  A dry middle of polished wood is followed by a simpler, sour fruited finish.  With air a fine nose of Christmas incense develops.  ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

2011 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Vintus. Alcohol 13%.  There is a deeper, good nose.  A mouth filling wine with red fruit, plums, and a dry black structure in the finish.  This is still in a youthful period with new oak notes and more assertive tannins.  But the flavor is lip-smacking revealing the start of a transformation.  ***(*) 2018 – 2030.

2009 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  Grapey aromas.  A quick taste reveals this is the first serious wine of the lineup.  There is good flavors of dark red fruit, a ripe ethereal middle and a finish of gum coating, chewy tannins.  Complexity from dried herbs and a perfumed middle entice.  The wine is carried by slightly watering acidity.  **** Now – 2027.

2006 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  The cherry flavors are acidity driven with the spine of acidity lasting through the end.  Sour cherry notes have good depth with the acidity providing tension.  It wraps up with citric grip. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2003 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Alcohol 13.5%.  This wine shows more age with good, chewy fruit, herbs, spices, and supporting acidity.  The power of the vintage is revealed in the middle.  Very ripe, dried fruit pokes out. *** Now – 2022.

2001 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. Alcohol 13%.  Another mature wine, this one savory with more structure, a tart black middle, and sappy sour cherry.  There is fine focus to the fruit which comes across as younger with air. ***(*) Now – 2025.

1999 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie Le Château d’Ampuis
Imported by Boston Wine Company. Alcohol 13%.  This weighty wine has mixed spices and a savory middle of red fruit and grippy tannins.   Youthful as well and drinking so well.  **** Now – 2027.

2007 Dr. Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 7.5%.  An amber color with a honied nose.  A touch of a lively start before a round glycerin body of ripe, yellow fruit.  Honey and spices mix in the somewhat short finish.  *** Now.