Archive for February, 2018

A few cheapies with Lou

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

With jam-packed work and personal calendars it is hard for Lou and I to meet up.  We carved out a few hours the other day to sit at the peninsula and drink several inexpensive wines.  The 2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza was expectedly my favorite of the red wines.  After drinking a bottle in Seattle I brought one back to share with Lou and Jenn.  This bottle was more youthful than the first with a good balance between texture, fruit, green pepper, and minerals.  It is a good, old-school drink.  The 1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany is an inexpensive wine from a great vintage.  The vintage expresses itself through the ripe black fruit with the age coming in through leather and wood notes.  It is fully mature with some roast earth marking it as on the down slope.  Finally, the bottle of 1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon was surprisingly marked on the back label as “Mevushal 89 °C” meaning it is a Kosher wine.  Unfortunately, it was exposed to 192 °F  in being made Kosher which meant it was doomed in the glass.

2007 Carmelo Patti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza – $26
Imported by SWG Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was fermented then aged in concrete for 12 months then aged a further 12 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  A gentle ripeness of black fruit mixes with an appropriate amount of an herbal/green pepper component.  The texture is slightly grainy with mid palate weight and a round, mineral-like finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

1990 Colle Bereto, Il Tocco, Tuscany
Imported by Olinger Distributing Co. This wine is 100% Sangiovese. Alcohol 12.5%.  A woodsy wine that is fresh and crisp, beginning with up-front ripeness but finishing dry.  There are hard cherry flavors, focused weight, wood, and dried leather in the finish.  It is fully developed with a little roast end in the end from age.  It does not fall apart in the glass.  *** Now.

1996 Moulin des Sablons, Chinon
Imported by the Royal Wine Corp.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Mevushal 89 °C.  Brown, cooked, gross! Not Rated.

A pair of youthful Italians

February 26, 2018 1 comment

This pair of Italian wines has helped see me through the evenings of this particularly busy period at work.  Both wines are from the 2015.  The 2015 Fattoria dei Barbi, Rosso di Montalcino is young and in need of short-term aging.  It is attractive in flavor profile but not the most complex.  The 2015 Tua Rita, Rosso dei Notri  is good fun being an effective blend which comes across as both youthful and expressive.  This wine is placed on the front rack at MacArthur Beverages with good reason.  I recommend you grab a few bottles as soon as you enter the store!

2015 Fattoria dei Barbi, Rosso di Montalcino – $23
Imported by Frederick Wildman.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The flavors of cherry and leather show some focus rather than be framed by structure.  This is dark in flavor with menthol hints, tangy acidity, and very fine tannins in the end.  In need of air and ultimately a solid wine.  **(*) Now -2023.

2015 Tua Rita, Rosso dei Notri – $18
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The finely textured fruit becomes mineral and black in the middle with a youthful mix of fruit and cocoa by the end.  It is rounded with structure and acidity integrated together, yielding a mouth filling and tasty wine.  *** Now – 2023.

A zippy 2016 Envinate, Albahra

February 17, 2018 Leave a comment

The 2016 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa is a zippy, textured, and slightly earthy wine which proves there are interesting wines under $20 per bottle.  The fruit comes from 30 year old vines located at the high altitude of 800 meters which were fermented with indigenous yeast and raised in cement.  I find this vintage more structured than the 2015, so you may enjoy this wine over the next few years.  You can grab a bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Albahra, Almansa – $18
A Jose Pastor Selections imported by Llaurador Wines. This wine is 100% Grenache fermented and raised in cement. Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a zippy, tart and bright start of red fruit, polished wood, and hints of earth underneath.  The flavors become defined as cranberry red and black fruit.  There are fine, yet assertive tannins which add to a texture which persists on the gums into the aftertaste.  It even rounds out a bit with air.  *** Now 2021?

The Super Itata returns

February 16, 2018 Leave a comment

The latest release of 2014 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto, Itata Valley continues the series of interesting wines from Chile.  It bears some similarity to the 2015 Grand Itata in that it is fresh with good acidity, baking spices, and earth yet the 2014 Super Itata is savory with vintage perfume notes.  To me it reinforces the notion that some cool wines come from Itata Valley.  You may grab this bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto, Itata Valley – $25
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.   This wine is a blend of 33% Syrah, 33% Malbec, and 33% Carignan that was aged for 6 months in in old barriques.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The nose offers an interesting mix of red fruit, apples, and wet spices.  In the mouth is a slightly earthy start with notes of vintage perfume.  The wine is lighter in weight with fine, fresh tannic structure, and an almost lively profile.  With air it shows itself as perfectly integrated with a savory finish of cinnamon baking spices, licorice, and earth.  *** Now -2020.

Value Cabernet Franc from Languedoc

February 15, 2018 1 comment

The 2015 The Way of Wine, Puydeval, Pays d’Oc is a Cabernet Franc dominated blend from the Languedoc which makes it somewhat unique.  Winemaker Jeff Carrel made this negociant wine using fruit from Minervois and Limoux.  Priced at only $13 there is a lot to like: juicy fruit, minerals, a hint of earth, and structure for development.  A great daily wine right now, it will be even better once the oak integrates.  You may find this bargain at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 The Way of Wine, Puydeval, Pays d’Oc – $13
Imported by Hand Picked Selections.  This wine is a blend of 56% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, and 14% Merlot sourced from vines 15 – 20 years of age.  It was vinified in a mixture of cement and stainless steel then aged in a mixture of cement and oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  A focused start of black and red fruit moves on to a juicy middle and mineral finish supported by firm structure.  With air this dry wine reveals blue fruits, savory bits of oak, and a hint of earth in the expansive end.  It should develop over the next year.  **(*) Now – 2023.

Interesting Cahors from Château Combel-la-Serre

February 14, 2018 1 comment

The wines from Château Combel-la-Serre are like no other I have tried from Cahors.  These are bright and fresh versions of Malbec.  You should try both wines for they are quite different from each other.  The 2016 Château Combel-la-Serre, “Le Pur Fruit du Causse”, Cahors is youthful and grapey yet backed by density.  On the other hand the 2015 Château Combel-la-Serre, Cahors is floral and herbal in flavor rather than fruity.  The 2016 is the wine to drink this year whereas I suggest you cellar the 2015 until the next year.  This pair of wines offers good value for the money.  Pick them up at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Château Combel-la-Serre, “Le Pur Fruit du Causse”, Cahors – $15
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 35 year old vines aged one year in cement tanks.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The bright red flavors reveal density and minerality.  The wine is a touch citric with fresh acidity and youthful, grapey flavor.  This is a fun, almost quenching wine.  **(*) Now – 2019.

2015 Château Combel-la-Serre, Cahors – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 40 year old vines aged one year in stainless steel then a second year in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  This is more herbal that fruity with exotic tea, floral notes, and polished wood.  There is juicy acidity and a fine vein of structure throughout.  Fresh and approachable but with some potential to further open up with age. **(*) 2019 – 2023.

A pair of 2014 wines from Ribera del Duero

February 13, 2018 1 comment

The first time I had a wine from Bodegas Protos was back during my undergraduate days in the early 1990s.  I was a bit tickled then when I saw one of their wines in DC.  The 2014 Bodegas Protos, Protos ’27, Ribera del Duero has an interesting nose of dark fruit and tar yet in the mouth it is thoroughly modern.  The oak flavors come through at this point which I find a bit distracting.  However, nothing could distract me from the 2014 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero.  I have managed to drink previous vintages of this wine but appear to have not written about them.  This vintage offers a dark fruited wine, deep in flavor with the acidity making the flavors fresh.  It is a bit rugged from youth right now which only adds to the charm.  A must try worth the additional expense!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Bodegas Protos, Protos ’27, Ribera del Duero – $26
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 50+ year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 16 months in new French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose offers dark fruit and tar.  In the mouth this is a completely balanced wine with young oaky flavors and tannins.  This modern flavored wine reveals integrated structure and water acidity becoming sappy or almost chewy.  The fruit remains firm with fine+ extract, dark tar notes, and a very light, lifted aftertaste.  **(*) Now – 2025.

2014 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero – $37
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot.  Alcohol 15%.  There are dark red and dark blue flavors almost giving the impression of crispness overlaying mineral, soil undertones.  This is a deeply satisfying wine.  The flavors become blacker towards the end with very fine, integrated structure.  There is youthful attraction between the structure and ripe blueberry flavors. I imagine this will develop and improve over the next several years.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

William Coombe’s “The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” from 1821

February 2, 2018 Leave a comment

“The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” [1]

The image in this post is one of 27 from William Coombe’s book A history of Madeira (1821).  I selected the image because the pipe is branded “N G M” for Newton, Gordon, and Murdoch.  William Coombe (1741-1823) is a writer famous for his Dr. Syntax series of verse illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson.  This familiarity with satire perhaps explains the soft, somewhat jovial facial expressions common in the Madeira illustrations and certainly explains the accompanying verse.

Coombe first comments that the oxen pulling the sledges are “a very beautiful race of animals” with the additional  benefit that “the meat is excellent”.  Or from his own verse:

And now it is the oxen’s task,
To drag along the liquid cask,
Filled with the juice that aids the treat
When they’re cut up, and turned to meat.

[1] “The manner of drawing pipes on a sledge” from William Coombe’s A history of Madeira (1821). Bayerische Staatsbibliothek URL:

A new wine: 2016 Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages

February 2, 2018 Leave a comment

The damaging hail of 2016 in Beaujolais had one interesting effect, the production of wines never before seen.  The 2016 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages is another example of this from the Kermit Lynch portfolio.  Tasted blind you will recognize this as Beaujolais but what I particularly like is the subtle earth note and round fruit weight.  This wine improves with a modest amount of air and should provide good drinking for the next few years.  You may find this new wine at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais-Villages – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sources from granite soils.  It was fermented then aged in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 12.5%.  With air this wine shows more strength, quickly building from the start through the cinnamon and baking spiced finish.  True to Beaujolais flavors of cherry and raspberry, become slightly earthy with good, round fruit weight, and a slightly spicy, dry finish which leaves some tannins on the gums.  *** Now – 2022.

The title woodcut from Georg Horn’s “Hierampelos” (1585)

February 1, 2018 Leave a comment

Title illustration from Georg Horn’s Hierampelos. 1585. [1]

This image is from the title woodcut of Georg Horn’s Hierampelos.  In this book Horn (1542-1603), a pastor from Hammelburg, writes about viticulture, wine making, and references to the Bible.  Compared to the woodcuts I have posted from other 16th century German wine books this one illustrates the tending of vines, harvesting of fruit, and wine making.  As it is not a cellar-book barrels are not included.

[1] Horn, Georg. Hierampelos : Das ist: Bericht vom Wein-baw, das er mit all seinen angehörigen und verwandten stücken in heiliger Göttlicher Schrifft, wol bekandt. 1585.
Signatur: 1042089 4 Oecon. 191 m 1042089 4 Oecon. 191 m. Bayerische StaatsBibliothek digital.  URL: