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A must-try pair of Italian wines

Tim’s latest Italian recommendations are a must-try so I feel I should pass them on to you.  First is the impeccable 2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio.  It is lively with the right amount of fruit, weight, and grip.  In other words it is both flavorful and pleasing in the mouth.  Little did I know that the 2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli is important in the history of Italian wine.  This vintage is the latest in the series of Bordeaux blends which began with the 1951 vintage.  Thus Loredan Gasparini made the first Italian Bordeaux blend.  This bottle is developing mature notes but the core of the fruit and structural components still exist.  There is a sense of tightness and resolve so drink it after double-decanting or better yet in a few years from now.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio – $19
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is 100% Friulano that was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a lively start of white fruit and nuts which is delivered in a round character.  There are stone notes through the middle, a dry finish with a touch of grip, and a fresh aftertaste.  Well articulated.  *** Now – 2018.

2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec that was aged 18 months in Slavonian oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There are focused, round and dense flavors of blue and black fruit couple with initial bottled aged notes.  This maturity is more ethereal adding complexity throughout.  An herbaceous note at the start moves on to lively, dry spices in the middle, and a suggestion of powdery, ripeness in the finish.  With air the wine becomes more incensed and takes on a polished wood note.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

A cool wine from the Canary Islands

This bottle of 2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands flat out surprised me.  On the first night it is certainly light bodied, a bit thin on flavor, and somewhat frail.  Though there is enough earthiness and tightness that I recorked the bottle.  Over the course of the second night the wine transformed.  Jenn succinctly described it as a wine of pepper on the nose and potpourri in the mouth.  There is more though, it is a gentle wine that develops a moderate amount of body, appropriate ripeness, and never loses a sense of its volcanic origins.   It is actually quite good and I would not be surprised if it is drinking really well by the end of the year.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands – $20
A Jose Pastor Selections 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 12.5%.  The nose smells of black and white pepper with some dried floral notes.  In the mouth this light bodied wine begins with red fruit flavors, a little cranberry, with some ethereal ripeness by the finish.  With extended air it develops more weight by the middle with a rather substantial amount of tartness, minerality, and ripe texture.  More importantly the old-school potpourri flavor weave its way from start to finish.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

An impressive 2015 Domaine du Seminaire, CdRV Valreas

I do not think I have ever tasted a Rhone wine solely from Valreas.  The 2015 Domaine du Seminaire, Cote du Rhone Villages Valreas is a new wine in our area so of course I grabbed a bottle.  This is a traditionally made wine, fermented in concrete with no use of oak.  It is strong and forward with a grapey, floral personality.  The liveliness is attractive, causing you to return for another taste.  I imagine it might open up over the next year but it is a fun drink right now.  Go get some!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine du Seminaire, Cote du Rhone Villages Valreas – $18
Imported by Martine’s wines.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah that was fermented concrete.  Alcohol 14%.    The higher-toned grapey, floral nose makes way to similarly grapey, black fruit in the mouth.  The wine has quite the strength, building intensity through the middle.  This is balanced by almost lively acidity and fine texture.  Flavors of baking spices and a tangy finish add to the complexity. This is an impressive, grapey wine.  *** Now – 2022.

“I intend, however, to have them examined”: George Washington’s 1785 Chateau Margaux

Extract from Fenwick Mason & Company to George Washington, August 10, 1790, with Invoice. [4]

During the summer of 1791, George Washington received two orders of claret from the firm of Fenwick, Mason & Co. in Bordeaux.  These orders are of interest because they shed light on the quality of the late 18th century Bordeaux vintages.  From these order we do not know what George Washington nor his secretary Tobias Lear thought of  an order of 1786 Chateau Lafite. Fortunately, the assessment of the 1785 Chateau Margaux is preserved.

George Washington’s first order of claret from Fenwick, Mason & Co. met with calamity.  Placed on August 16, 1789, George Washington requested 26 dozen bottles of claret and 26 dozen bottles of Champagne. [1]  As Bordeaux was not the best location to order Champagne, 12 dozen bottles of the sparkling wine were sent from Rheims and 12 dozen bottles of “vins de grave” would come from Bordeaux.[2]  That winter the wine departed for New York via the French packet Jean Jacques.  It was not until July 9, 1790, that George Washington was informed that his wine had not made it to New York, instead due to damage to the ship from the very cold weather, the ship put into Brest where the wine was unloaded.  The cases were split open and a quarter of the bottles were broken. [3]

Fenwick, Mason & Co. sought to have any remaining bottles in Brest sent on to George Washington.[4]  Sadly these bottles were not insured.  Until those wine could arrive, they sent a smaller order of the sames wines from Bordeaux.  It is in the invoice dated August 10, 1790, that we learn that the claret was the 1785 Chateau Margaux.

The smaller, replacement order of wine arrived by the end of June 1791.[5]  On July 7, 1791, Tobias Lear wrote Fenwick, Mason, & Co. noting the arrival of the wine in “good order”.[6]  He specifically wrote that the “claret of the first shipment” that being the 1785 Chateau Margaux, was “pronounced very good”.


[1] “From George Washington to Wakelin Welch & Son, 16 August 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-03-02-0275. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 3, 15 June 1789–5 September 1789, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989, pp. 478–479.]

[2] “To George Washington from Fenwick, Mason, & Company, 5 December 1789,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-04-02-0258. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 4, 8 September 1789 – 15 January 1790, ed. Dorothy Twohig. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993, p. 364.]

[3] “To George Washington from Fenwick, Mason, & Company, 9 July 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-06-02-0021. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 6, 1 July 1790 – 30 November 1790, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, pp. 38–40.]

[4] Fenwick Mason & Company to George Washington, August 10, 1790, with Invoice.  George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799.  URL: https://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw4&fileName=gwpage099.db&recNum=720&tempFile=./temp/~ammem_QE3I&filecode=mgw&next_filecode=mgw&prev_filecode=mgw&itemnum=19&ndocs=100

[5] “To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 23 June 1791,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified February 21, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-08-02-0201. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 8, 22 March 1791 – 22 September 1791, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999, pp. 294–299.]

[6] Tobias Lear to Mason Fenwick & Co, July 7, 1791. George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754-1799: Letterbook 23, Aug. 26, 1790 – March 25, 1793. URL: https://www.loc.gov/item/mgw2.023/

 

A pair from Rosso di Montalcino

As happy as I am to continue drinking the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino I thought it best to get Tim’s advice on other wines from the region.  He first recommended the affordable 2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino.  This is a firm wine of black fruit that mixes in pleasing herbal notes.  It could stand a few years of development to open up perhaps becoming elegant and focused.  The 2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino is a step up in quality and price.  The deep nose will excite you and the lively flavors will only add to the positive impression.  I highly recommend you drink a few bottles over the next several years.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then raised for six months in Slavonian oak.   Alcohol 13.5%.  This is a firm wine that remains focused with air.  There is black fruit with dry herbal notes, polished wood, and an ethereal ripe finish.  It remains tight with watering acidity.  **(*) 2019-2024.

2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino – $26
Imported by Vine Street Imports.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose is deep and a touch pungent.  The red and blue fruit quickly takes on polished wood notes before the brighter, red middle.  There is fine acidity and grip in the end.  With air this becomes a lively wine with controlled ripe fruit, a dry and bright middle, stone accented finish, and wood tannin aftertaste.  Delicate floral notes even come out.  This has strong development potential over the short-term.  *** Now – 2026.

You should buy the 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras this weekend

Domaine Palon is a small estate located in Gigondas.  From 17 acres in Gigondas and 12 acres in Vacqueyras the family has produced wine for four generations.  However, it was not until 2003 that the wine was first bottled under the family name.  The 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras is a strong value.  It is one of those wines enjoyable in its vigorous, powerful youth yet should develop and open up over the next few years.  With the cold weather in our forecast I would stock up on a few bottles this weekend.   This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras – $20
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%. This is a black fruited, floral and mineral wine with a very focused core of ripe fruit.  It ripples with power and though it evolves with air to become a tasty wine of youthful vigor the balanced acidity and textured tannins will see it develop over the next couple of years.   ***(*) Now – 2027.

Fully mature 1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva

Bodegas Beronia was founded in 1973.  My particular bottle of  1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva was vintaged the same year González Byass bought the winery.  The estate is famous for their barrels made from American oak staves and French oak heads.  The fruit for this wine was sourced entirely from Rioja Alta, a higher altitude region that produces brighter and lighter wines.  The nose on this wine reflects its  age with mature notes that remains aromatic for hours.  In the mouth you get a sense or origin for this is a fully mature, bright wine with texture from the remaining structure.  I recommend drinking it now but it should hold its current state for years to come. Given the release price for the current vintage, this vintage only costs an extra $1 per year of age.  It is available at The Rare Wine Co.

1982 Bodegas Beronia, Rioja Reserva – $50
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12.5%.  It is a clear, light garnet color.  There are good aromas of modestly sweet fruit, vanilla, and a sweaty note.  In the mouth this is fully mature with a very fine texture from the structure.  It is a gentle wine with moderate body, watering acidity, and a generally bright and slightly tart profile.  It remains aromatic.    *** Now but will last.