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Archive for January, 2019

Two Affordable Wines for the Shutdown

January 24, 2019 1 comment

As the shutdown continues and a second missed paycheck is all but inevitable, today’s post features two wines that offer plenty of flavor at attractive prices.  The 2013 Domaine Boudau, Clot del Pila, Les Gargolines, Cotes du Roussillon might the best value out there. It is a personable wine about to reach its open, mature period.  This means you can tuck away a few cases to get you through the shutdown or to drink over the next several years. You should also try the latest vintage of 2015 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva.   The nose is a subtle right now and the flavors are a bit firm so while pleasurable , it will be even better this summer.  You may find these honest wines at MacArthur Beverages.  If you are short on funds then just grab the Clos de Pila.

2013 Domaine Boudau, Clot del Pila, Les Gargolines, Cotes du Roussillon – $13
Imported by Zwine Gallery Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache.  Alcohol 14%.  Still focused upon opening but after one hour or so it opens up.  The flavors of cherry are supported by fine and firm structure with fresh acidity.  It tastes of vintage hard candy with ripe kirsch in the finish.  Really quite tasty and will drink well for a few years.  *** Now – 2023.

2015 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $15
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is 100% Cannonau fermented in stainless steel then aged for two years in large Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%. A subtle nose right now but fresh tasting fruit and minimal structure indicate it will soon be ready to drink.  There are bits of firm cherry, black fruit, and some sour fruit towards the finish.  It is even a touch mineral.  **(*) Now – 2022.

A hearty 2007 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie

January 18, 2019 Leave a comment

The 2007 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie, IGT (Etna Rosso)  is a surprisingly robust example of a red wine from Etna.  It is made from old vines located in a single vineyard that is bottled as IGT instead of Etna Rosso.  This done because various vintage of this wine were found to be atypical.  I find that it will stand up to the cold weather as well as any hearty meal.  Priced at only $26, it a strong value for a wine already showing maturity.  You may find it at  MacArthur Beverage.

2007 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese Vigne Vecchie, IGT (Etna Rosso) – $26
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of Nerello Mascalese & Nerello Cappuccio sourced from vines primarily 60-80 years old with some more than 100 years old and ungrafted.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged  36-42 months in large Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 15%.  A flavorful, maturing wine that is deep with notes of leather.  The watering acidity carries the flavor through the very good middle and into the slightly coarse tannins of the finish.  This is a medium bodied wine, full of flavor, that develops additional notes of vintage perfume and berries.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

Guillaume Gilles’ Gamay from near Cornas

January 17, 2019 Leave a comment

I seem to be drinking a lot of Gamay lately.  I might be excused since this includes such wines as the 2016 Guillaume Gilles, Combeaux Massardieres.  Gilles may be known for his Syrah from Cornas but he should also be known for his Gamay.  I have been itching to try the 2016 wines of Gilles so I conveniently paired the 2016 Massardieres with the 2015.  The 2015 was quite ripe yet tense from the beginning, which made it immediately accessible.  The 2016 vintage reveals the need for a touch of time in the cellar.  There is still some ripeness and oily nature but it is somewhat closed with more noticeable structure.  I think you should cellar it until the summer.  In the meantime drink the 2015!  Phil imports these at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Guillaume Gilles, Combeaux Massardieres – $27
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 14%.  Bright and articulate with aromas of candied roses.  Bright in the mouth as well with a fresh edge from acidity that leads to textured, grapey extract.  Less ripe than the 2015 but more mouthfeel with a mineral, dry end.  With air the ripeness shows focus with oily fruit weight lurking under the structure.  The wine is not quite zippy, perhaps a touch juicy.  I believe it needs six months in the cellar.   ***(*) Now – 2022.

2015 Guillaume Gilles, Les Massardieres – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 13%.  Riper flavors with vintage perfume and hints of furniture polish.  It is now better on the second day having cleaned up and developed flavors of black cherries and other dark fruits.  Perhaps not the best analogy but the ripeness of the fruit has a cola-like tension from the acidity as it rolls into a ripe, chalky finish.  It appears to be in mid-age with a good low-note to its flavor.  **** Now – 2020.

A trio of 2017 Julien Sunier Beaujolais

January 16, 2019 1 comment

Back in October I expressed my excitement over the 2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie.  It was not until this snowy weekend that I tasted it in context with two other of Julien Sunier’s wines.  In short, I am even more excited and convinced that you must try this wine.  The balance is fantastic, yielding a crisp wine of unique floral, orange citrus flavors.  There was bad hail damage in Fleurie and Morgon during the summer of 2017 which shows up in the bottle.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie is still mineral and tannic but lighter in body with subtle fruit.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon is fresh but missing the usual depth and verve.  They are good wines all around with Sunier’s hand evident but the Regnie clearly stands out.  Grab a few bottles from Phil at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. Bright red flavors greet but the wine is actually quite mineral.  It is lighter in body with watering acidity.  There are both ripe tannin texture and ripe baking spices in the finish.  This is a light to medium bodied wine with ripeness that is definitely subtle compared to the overall dry finish.  Could use a bit of time. *** 2020-2026.

2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.   Alcohol 13%.  A grapey, purple cranberry color.  Scented ripe and bright, red berries on the nose.  In the mouth, fresh and cool red flavors immediately mix with fine to medium textured tannins.  There is watering acidity throughout with a lightly inky finish.  This has the most fruit of the three.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats then aged 9 months in neutral French barrels. Alcohol 13.5 %.    Medium fruit weight exists with crisp acidity and floral orange citrus fruit.  Lovely from the first pour.  With air, the fruit rounds out bringing on more florals, violets, and incense through the long, complex finish.  Minimal structure.  Cracking acidity.  **** Now – 2026.

Saperavi for a Snowy Day

January 13, 2019 Leave a comment

If you spent part of your day shoveling snow then you should recuperate by a fire.  A hearty meal and a glass or two of Georgian Saperavi will shake off any remaining coldness.  Of the trio featured in this post, the label of the 2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti leaves something to be desired but the wine does not.  Though the lightest colored and lightest bodied, it requires a full day in the decanter to open up.  You are then treated to a nose of berry fruit and more interestingly, black tea and floral flavors.  It is almost zippy which keeps it fresh.  It becomes a touch yeasty with extended air so my recommendation is to drink between 24-48 hours in the decanter.  It is my favorite of the three being a lighter wine,which makes it easier to experience the various flavors.  I have tried two bottles of 2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti.  Decanting is required as well.  This wine exhibits the inky intensity that I have only experienced with Saperavi raised in qvevri.  This is a more mineral wine with one bottle exhibiting floral notes.  Though it should be drunk after decanting, I believe it should be cellared for another year.  The 2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti represents the most amount of flavor for the cost.  If you want a fully immersive experience then grab a bottle.  Despite the packed in flavors of black fruit and minerals there is spot-on zippy acidity.  You may find these wines at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Zurab Topuridze, Iberieli, Saperavi Light Bodied, Kakheti – $22
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 13.%.  A medium, cranberry-cherry color.  Brighter berry fruit, almost delicate on the nose.  In the mouth the acidity is lively almost zippy on which the flavors of black tea are floral accented.  Actually quite attractive with extended air.  Unique with a long aftertaste.  *** Now – 2029.

2016 Tanini, Qvevri Saperavi, Kakheti – $20
Imported by Terrell Wines. Alcohol 15%.  An almost black cherry color, bordering on completely opaque.  An intense fruit start mineral middle with focused fruit flavors textured by fruit extract. One bottle showed more floral tones. Lively acidity with a nutty undertone.   **(*) 2020 – 2029

2016 Pheasant’s Tears, Saperavi, Kakheti – $17
Imported by Terrell Wines. This wine is 100% Saperavi that was fermented and raised in qvevri. Alcohol 14%. This is surely, completely opaque in the glass.  An intense wine with black fruit and minerals.  The fruit is focused with a zippy personality then watering acidity by the finish.  The flavor is closely played right now but it is clearly packed in.  Incredible amounts of flavor but a bit much for me.  ** Now to whenever.

Young Syrah for Cold Weather – Darnaud and Durand

January 13, 2019 Leave a comment

The 2016 Emmanuel Darnaud, Les trois chenes, Crozes-Hermitage and 2016 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph  are two wines you might consider drinking for lunch on a snowy day such as we are having in Washington, D.C.  They are lower in alcohol with fresh flavors suitable for midday.  The Darnaud is a new wine for me.  It is the grapier of the two, juicy, with an ethereal finish.  Its quite good for a Crozes-Hermitage.  The Durand is darker in fruit flavor, sports more structure, and actually requires air to open up.  Both are wines to be drunk over the next five years or so.  The Darnaud is silky and the Durand is taut which make for an interesting contrast.  You may find them at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Emmanuel Darnaud, Les trois chenes, Crozes-Hermitage – $25
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 25-60 year old vines on glacial, pebbly soils raised in cement tanks and demi-muids. Alcohol 12%. A nose of grapey scents and smoke. Dense and grapey in the mouth, a modest structure and silky body lead to an ethereal ripe finish. Flavors of black fruit, juicy acidity, and grapiness are about youth. There is a mineral bit and slightly savory finish. Clean. ***(*) Now – 2025.

2016 Domaine Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph – $25
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 13.5%. Fresh with sweet black fruit and some vanilla on the nose. Taut black fruit with minerals exist before the focused, sweet, and ripe middle. Rounded with fine tannins and good spiced flavors in the finish. It needs time to open up in the glass but will not be long-lived. ***(*) Now – 2026.

A pair of Envinate wines from the 2017 vintage

This pair of Envinate wines from the 2017 show good promise for development over the next several years despite being from very different terroirs.  The 2017 Envinate, Benje hails from Tenerife, Canary Islands whereas the 2017 Envinate, Albahra is from Almansa in continental Spain.  Both wines have a sense of lightness and lifted personality but they reflect their soils quite well.  The Benje is dry with long notes of stones and graphite whereas the Albahra offers ethereally ripe fruit flavors.  You may find them on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages priced in the ~$20 per bottle range.


2017 Envinate, Benje, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Tenerife, Canary Islands
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Llaurador Wines. This is a blend of high-altitude 70-120 year-old Listan Prieto with some Tintilla that was foot trodden, fermented in concrete and tubs with indigenous yeasts then aged 8 months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12%. Earthy, almost sour red fruit with gossamer ripeness. Light in body, the flavors are lifted and dry marked by stones and graphite. It is underpinned by salinity and dryness but a beautiful ripe elegance floats above. Best on the first night. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2017 Envinate, Albahra, Almansa
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Llaurador Wines. This wine is 100% Grenache fermented and raised in cement. Alcohol 13%. A nose of delicate berries and flowers. Fine texture with medium-bodied flavors of red fruit, bitters, and a cool finish. There is a touch of zip on the tongue, tart acidity, and modest structure. The wine is slow to open up, revealing an ethereal ripeness which coats the gums and fills the mouth by the aftertaste. ***(*) Now – 2024.