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Barolo from 1974 and Rioja from 1964

Much of my time spent with Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., involves work on projects related to the history of Madeira.  After one long day sorting through historic documents we discussed our findings over two bottles of wine.

Terre del Barolo is a cooperative winery that was founded in 1958.  Located in the heart of Barolo at Castiglion Faletto, there were nearly 400 members by the first harvest of 1959, a number virtually unchanged today.

The 1974 Terre del Barolo, Barolo Castiglione Faletto as a solid wine from a solid vintage.  It smells and tastes like a mature Barolo.  What it lacks in excitement it makes up for in low price, perhaps more of a wine to buy if you are dipping your toe into mature Barolo and are on a budget.

Founded in 1874, Bodegas Monticello is amongst the pioneering Rioja wineries based on Bordeaux winemaking techniques.  For nearly 100 years the winery remained in the Navajas family until, with the end of the family line, it was sold to the Osborne company in 1973.  Thus our bottle of 1964 Bodegas Montecillo, Vina Monty Rioja bears the old-school label with the family name.  Iy was produced in the older winery before Osbone modernized everything in 1975.

The 1964 vintage in Rioja is highly acclaimed, which is reflected in this well-stored wine.  Though there is the delicacy of old Rioja, it also has the concentration of sweet flavors.  It is attractive and deserves another taste!

Another attractive wine from Chateau Juvenal in Ventoux

For a modest price increase over the strong-valued 2015 Chateau Juvenal, Jolie, Cotes du Ventoux the 2015 Chateau Juvenal, La Terre Du Petit Homme, Ventoux offers increased complexity on the nose and palate.  This bottle morphs from red to black fruit but it is the licorice and mineral aspects that I particularly like. Leave no doubt this joint effort between Philippe Cambie and Chateau Juvenal yields a mouth filling wine but it is all in balance.  Check it out! This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Chateau Juvenal, La Terre Du Petit Homme, Ventoux – $18
A Craig Baker Selection imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The medium, cranberry and grapey color does not prepare one for the very aromatic nose of spiced fruits.  In the mouth is a ripe red fruit start followed by attractive licorice flavors which mix with the mineral, black fruited middle.  The wine finishes with fine, drying tannins in the end which, with the acidity, should see some development over the short term.  With air this fuller bodied wine shows some oak hints but all is in balance.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

Plenty of fruit in the 2004 Pierre Usseglio, Cuvee de mon Aieul

The 2004 Pierre Usseglio, Cuvee de mon Aieul, Chateauneuf du Pape is made primarily from Grenache sourced from vines dating back to 1926.  These old vines make quite a strong wine.  In begins with enticing aromas of smoky incense.  In the mouth there is plenty of flavor and strength without the wine coming across as huge for the weight and acidity is balanced.  However, I am a touch distracted by the level of ripeness of the fruit combined with the dried fruit flavor.  Overall a good wine but not one I would purchase again.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2004 Pierre Usseglio, Cuvee de mon Aieul, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 95% Grenache and 5% Syrah sourced from 80+ year old vines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose mixes rather ripe fruit aromas with smoky incense.  In the mouth is a clear start of blue and red fruit then garrigue in the middle as the strength of the wine builds.  It is a little juicy now with appropriate weight and acidity.  The flavors are still primary, blending grapey notes with seriously ripe fruit flavors with a dried fruit undertone.  *** Now – 2027.

Delicious all Pinot Meunier Champagne from Jerome Prevost

At the young age of 21, Jerome Prevost took over a 2 ha parcel of vines near Reims from his grandmother.  For ten year Prevost sold the fruit to negociants until shortly after he began to work at Jacques Selosse when he began to kept the fruit for himself.  It is here, under the eye of Anselme Selosse, that Prevost begin to make his own wine from his tiny vineyard of Les Beguines in Gueux.  Prevost soon built a cellar near the vineyard where he produced the bottle of NV (2008) Jerome Prevost, Champagne La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines Mannie Berk, Rare Wine Co., recently opened for me.

Prevost produced this wine from a single vintage using fruit from his vineyard.  What is particularly unusual is that this wine is made entirely from Pinot Meunier.  Pinot Meunier plantings account for nearly one-third of those in Champagne yet the variety is clearly ranked behind Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Pinot Meunier is often planted in areas where the other varieties struggle to grow.  It is not regarded as aging well.

Prevost vineyard was planted in the late 1950s.  He keeps yields very low, hand harvests, and ferments with indigenous yeasts in oak.  After 18 months in bottle he disgorges and finishes without dosage.

As the chill left our bottle and the wine breathed in the glass, I was treated to a fantastic Champagne.  The bubbles are very delicate at the start followed by a textured mousse and vinous finish which makes it easy to drink.  The fruit is almost juicy to begin with which please the taste buds and the chalky grip makes it alive in the mouth.  This wine, based on the 2008 vintage, is beginning to take on bottle aged flavors.  I imagine it will provide great interest over the next decade.

NV (2008) Jerome Prevost, Champagne La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Pinot Meunier.  Alcohol 12.5%.  It is a light golden straw in the glass.  It is the core of delicate berry flavors first noticed followed by the very delicate bubbles which soon form a textured mousse.  With a brief amount of air this is a lovely, maturing wine with a rounded, almost juicy start.  The wine soons adds a chalky grip by the middle with an underlying wood note adding complexity. With warmth it hits a sweet spot becoming very vinous.  **** Now – 2027.

Another interesting Canary Island wine from Envinate

The 2015 Envinate, Taganan Tino, Tenerife, Vinos Atlanticos requires being open at least one day ahead.  It is made from very old vines of both known and unknown varieties grown in parcels tended by 15 different families!  These are wild vineyards, literally, with no training and vines popping out between rocks.  There are some compelling parts to this wine: the incensed fruit, mineral middle, and aftertaste which clings to your mouth.  At this stage you must coax the wine in your mouth so I recommend you cellar it for another year or two.  If this wine blossoms then it will desire higher marks.  The Taganan is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Envinate, Taganan Tino, Tenerife, Vinos Atlanticos – $28
A Jose Pastor selection imported Llaurador Wines. This is a blend of Listan Negro, Listan Gaucho, Malvasia Negro, and other varieties from very old vines.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in plastic tubs and and concrete tanks then aged for 8 months in both tanks and used oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  After extended air a subtle depth comes out on the nose.  In the mouth are bright, incensed fruit flavors followed by a mineral middle of perfumed black fruit.  The flavors become savory towards the end as the structure of very fine drying tannins is soon matched by dry flavor.  The structure is supportive.  The aftertaste brings good, clinging flavors of delicate ripe fruit.  *** 2019-2025.

A new vintage of an old favorite

There was a several year period in which Jenn and I drank our fair share of wines from Chateau Mourgues du Gres.  With fond memories in mind I opened a bottle of 2014 Chateau Mourgues du Gres, Galets Rouge, Costières-de-Nîmes purchased in downtown Bethesda.  This wine delivers nothing but pleasure from the first glass and is quick to add in complexity from incense and spice notes.  It is a good selection to open several bottles of at your next barbecue.  This wine is available at Capital Beer and Wine in Bethesda.

2014 Chateau Mourgues du Gres, Galets Rouge, Costières-de-Nîmes  – $18
Imported by Simon ‘n Cellars.  This wine is approximately three-quarters Syrah with the rest Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan that was aged for 7 to 12 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is a fresh grapey texture supporting generous flavors of bright, red fruit.  The fruit is backed by ripeness and texture before the incensed and spiced finish.  The flavors cling to the gums well into the long aftertaste.  *** Now – 2019.

A Canary Island wine for the cellar

I continue to enjoy the Envinate wines selected by Jose Pastor which are available in the Washington, DC, area.  From the same portfolio Phil recently brought in the 2015 Dolores Cabrera Fernandez, La Araucaria, Valle de le Orotava, Tenerife.  I tried this bottle over the course of two days and I will admit it is a bit shutdown, making it hard to drink. I do like the tangy red flavor and unique profile of the wine but it is best revisited some time next year. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Dolores Cabrera Fernandez, La Araucaria, Valle de le Orotava, Tenerife – $20
A Jose Pastor selection imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is Listan Negro.  Alcohol 11% – 14%.  It is a grapey, cherry color in the glass.  Tasted over two days the flavors offer up wood notes mixed with tangy red fruit.  The tang is very much present on the tongue tip with the structure apparent throughout at this stage.  It finishes a bit astringent.  It comes across as closed at this point so maybe give it another year before trying again. ** 2018-2022.