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Casual notes on four Sicilian red wines

February 2, 2016 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago we were joined by another family for a late afternoon gathering.  The kids played while we tasted through a selection of Sicilian wines.  It was a casual evening so I only jotted down brief impressions.  To cut to the chase, the 2014 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso must be the most forward and generous vintage yet.  It is a fruity, affordable wine from Etna to drink right now for our bottle seemed tired by the end of the evening.   Still, it made for an enjoyable drink while we waited for the other bottles to come around.  Whereas the 2013 COS, Pithos, Vittoria Rosso remained distractingly tannic and the 2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Aglaea, Etna  too simple, the 2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Talia, Etna surprised us all. After 3-4 hours it became aromatic with an elegant style of complexity that had us all proclaiming it as our favorite as we then rapidly drained the bottle.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 COS, Pithos, Vittoria Rosso – $34
Imported by Domaine Select Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. It is fermented in terracotta amphora of 250 and 400 liter capacities. The fermentation is allowed to take its own course so there is no temperature control and it typically lasts for seven months.  Alcohol 12%.  The somewhat floral nose is followed by tart red fruit and a wall of very fine tannins.  It remained distractingly tannic, even with extended air, leaving the impression the structure will outlast the fruit.  *(*) 2020? – 2026?

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2014 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso – $17
Imported by deGrazia Imports.  This wine is a blend of 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio sourced from 5-50 year old vines on volcanic soils. It was fermented then aged for 11 months in large French oak barrels then aged a further month in stainless steel. Alcohol 14%.   Generous flavors of ripe red fruit tastes young in nature.  Perhaps the most forward vintage yet it drinks well from the very first glass with supporting acidity and tannins.  ** Now.

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2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Talia, Etna – $26
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from 40-50 year old vines planted on volcanic ash soil located at 2250 feet in elevation. It was aged for 8 months in old oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  After several hours of air the nose became very aromatic with floral and herb aromas.  In the mouth were fine, red and black fruit flavors with a vein of lively acidity.  The complexity and depth for aging is there but requires hours to come out.  *** 2018 – 2024.

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2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Aglaea, Etna – $18
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from 10-30 year old vines planted on volcanic ash soil located at 2250 feet in elevation. Alcohol 13%.  Brighter, more acidity, and simpler than the other bottling. *(*) Now – 2017.

The declining 1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac

October 13, 2015 Leave a comment

The 18th century estate of Chateau Fourcas-Hosten was acquired by a syndicate in 1971.  The previous owners left unsold vintages in casks in case there were any bulk orders in the future.  Unfortunately, this meant that quantities of 1966 had yet to be bottled when the syndicate took possession in 1972.  Thus the 1970s represent a turnaround period of which David Peppercorn found the 1975 “[a] tremendous wine, very rich and powerful, with considerable weight”.  Sadly, this bottle of 1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac should have been drunk years ago. This did not come as a great surprise but as I am a curious fellow, I am willing to try a wine at the right price.  This bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1975 Chateau Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac
Shipped by Rineau.  Imported by The Rineau Wines Co.  A nearly equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a splash of Cabernet Franc.  This wine would have seen 25% new oak.  Alcohol 11%.  The nose bore roast earth and after some bottle-funk blew off, it was clearly old.  In the mouth was a fresh structure that had a spicy bit from the grippy, ripe tannins.  There was salivating acidity and some heat for the fuzzy, red fruit had mostly faded away.  It did take on some weight but what was left of the fruit remained fuzzy and overpowered by the roast earth and tannins.  *(*) Now.

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Notes from two difference bottles of 1966 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe

There was little mention of the 1966 Bordeaux vintage upon harvest in the American press.  Whereas Cyril Ray was reporting in The Guardian during January 1967, that the Cordier wines of Talbot and Gruauad-Larose were “deep in colour”, there appear to be no similar ongoing coverage in American newspapers.[1]  The 1966 Bordeaux vintage began hitting the American shelves in the fall of 1969 with a full complement by the spring of 1970.[2]  Wine store advertisements provide the majority of the newspaper content about these 1966 wines.  They are full of compliments about the vintage such as “very great” but also contain recommendations to purchase in light of the poor 1968 and over priced 1969 vintages.

True, these were the early years for American wine journalism, but Ruth Ellen Church writing in 1969 for The Washington Post indicates a key reason, that market for fine Bordeaux wine was in development.  Her comments that this vintage did not have enough volume, coupled with increasing prices, might also indicate there was not enough supply to generate reader interest. [3]  However, she continued that the vintages of 1963, 1965, and 1968 were regarded as poor, leaving the “great” vintages of 1966 and 1967 of interest for “the escalating affluent appetite”.  Paul Fortino noted in 1980, that the “quality wine boom” was stirred with the 1966 and 1967 vintages but it was the “copious, high quality vintage ” of 1970 that played to the “very large number of now-dedicated oenophiles.”[4]  This combination of factors appears to explain the absence of reportage.

The 1966 vintage in Bordeaux resulted in yields that were average for this decade of high yields.  Fine September weather produced healthy grapes that made for ripe, full bodied, and colorful wines.  David Peppercorn summarized the wines as, “full, powerful, and harmonious wines of considerable charm.”  Stephen Brook noted for the Medoc and Graves that the “wines are quite tannic and austere, but have great elegance.”  Michael Broadbent rated the vintage four out of five stars, with the description of a “lean, long-distance runner”.

By many accounts, then, the 1966 vintage is one to survive to the present day, giving chance to my first taste of 1966 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe.  Chateau Montrose was a traditional estate at the time with Jean-Louis Charmolue having taken over from his mother in 1960.  The vineyard lies between the chateau and the Gironde some half a mile away.  The soil is composed of gravel and large stones with a high iron content that led Stephen Brook to speculate it is in part responsible for the tannic nature of the wines.  At the time of the 1966 vintage, there were still wooden fermentation vats.  The wines from this earlier period are described as hard and tannic with Edmund Penning-Roswell writing, “deep coloured, strong flavored, and tannic.”  The wines were made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon followed by a portion of Merlot and a bit of Cabernet Franc.

Binpin Desai, the architect of many a famous wine tasting, focused in on Chateau Montrose at a tasting held in 1982.  Here he poured some 42 vintages of the wine from 1979 back to 1906.  Nathan Chroman, who attended this tasting, echoed what I have often read, “Longevity and consistency are perhaps Montrose’s greatest virtues.”[5] Of the 1966, he wrote that it “showed extremely well too, with a nicely developing aroma and a softening of its hardness, allowing delicious flavor to surface.”

Cases of old wine from a large cellar, of mixed storage conditions, have been on sale for the last few months.  Last week, I opened the lowest-fill of the 1966 Chateau Montrose that I picked up from this cellar.  Bill Moore, a Washington, DC area wine lover, also purchased the 1966 Chateau Montrose from this same cellar.  He opened his bottle, with higher fill than mine, last week.  Bill commented, “Blind, I would have pegged the 1966 as an early 80’s [Bordeaux]. Especially after it breathed up, the acidity settled down and the remaining wisps of fruit peaked out, making for a really classic aged [Bordeaux] experience.”

My experience was no where near as good.  I do not mind, though, with high-fill bottles waiting to be uncorked, I know there is the potential for a great glass of wine thanks to Bill.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1966 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe –
Shipped by Schroder & De Constants. Imported by Ajax Distributors Inc.  Alcohol 12%.  Looks like the good fill made a huge difference with the Montrose. Breathed up beautifully with a classic, mature BDX nose, and even the dark-fruit and mineral qualities I typically get from Montrose. Got the same, almost juicy acidity on the palate and some grip on the finish. Really remarkable performance considering the storage.  Bill Moore.

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1966 Chateau Montrose, Saint-Estephe –
Shipped by Schroder & De Constants. Imported by Ajax Distributors Inc.  Alcohol 12%.  Mid to low-shoulder fill.  There were roast aromas on the nose.  In the mouth were hints of red fruit that mixed with roast flavors and a hint of coffee.  The fresh structure was immediately attractive and showed good polish. In the end this bottle had less fruit and though the structural components were enjoyable, it was past prime.  *(*) Now.

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[1] The colour of claret Ray, Cyril The Observer (1901- 2003); Jan 8, 1967; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Guardian and The Observer pg. 30
[2] Display Ad 44 — No Title The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 02 Nov 1969: 30.
[3] Fine Wine Going Up: Wines By Ruth Ellen Church The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973); Aug 14, 1969;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. E6
[4] The Vintage After a Decade By Paul Fortino Special to The Washington Post. The Washington Post (1974-Current file) [Washington, D.C] 28 Aug 1980: E25.
[5] CHROMAN, NATHAN. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Oct 7, 1982; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times pg. M50

Four Barbera d’Alba from the 2012 vintage including the excellent Andrea Oberto

As we continue to seemingly spend all of our money on paint, cleaning supplies, and pillows for staging, we maintain a need for affordable, interesting wines.  The 2012 vintage is a strong one for Barbera d’Alba so in this post I focus in on four selections priced from $13 to $18 per bottle.  These selections were all vinified in stainless steel with all but one aged in wood.  The wines ranged from rather ripe and forward to balanced.  The 2012 Mauro Molino, Barbera d’Alba offers a decent value with subdued flavors of tangerines, red fruit, and bacon fat. The 2012 Rocca Giovanni, Pianromualdo, Barbera d’Alba steps up a bit with better acidity, minerality, and structure leaving the impression of a good wine for the price.  Our hands-down favorite is the 2012 Andrea Oberto, Barbera d’Alba.  From the aromatic nose to the long aftertaste it is a wine you will want to smell and drink.  What’s great is that it is approachable right now, just give it half an hour in the decanter.  It is a clear step up from the other selections so go grab a few bottles! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Cascina Chicco, Granera Alta, Barbera d’Alba – $17
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines averaging 10 years of age.  It was fermented in in stainless steel then aged in wood casks and used French barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  There seemed to be some volatile acidity on the nose along with linear aromas of fresh floral black fruit.  In the mouth were nice focused flavors of floral citrus fruit, watering acidity, and some rough structure. *(*) 2016-2019.

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2012 Rocca Giovanni, Pianromualdo, Barbera d’Alba – $14
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines planted in 1958 that underwent temperature controlled fermentation followed by 10 months aging in barrique.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose bore very ripe, grainy fruit aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were fruit forward before a tight, ripe core of black fruit came hint.  This had a mineral hint with salivating acidity and a dry, textured finish.  The wine shows some density, a little wood note, and leaves the impression of being a nice wine for the price.  ** Now-2018.

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2012 Mauro Molino, Barbera d’Alba – $13
Imported by J.W. Sieg & Co.  This wine is 100% Barbera that was vinified then aged for six months in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose of black fruit was lifted by both greenhouse aromas and fresh tangerines.  In the mouth were attractive flavors of tangerine red fruit that came across in a slightly creamy and subdued fashion.  It took on some tart flavor but that was tempered by bacon fat flavors.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Andrea Oberto, Barbera d’Alba – $18
Imported by M R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Barbera sourced from vines in La Morra.  The fruit was vinified in stainless steel then 60% was aged for 8 months in stainless steel and 40% was aged for 6 months in new barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  This wine had a fine, proper nose.  In the mouth the black and red fruit was slightly brighter than the nose suggested.  There was both a citrus flavor and bacon fat aspect.  There was moderate structure with citric pithe tannins.  The aftertaste left flavor on the inside of the gums. Top-notch.  *** Now-2018.

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Three wines from New Mexico, Mexico, and Greece

December 22, 2014 1 comment

One really should be curious when it comes to trying wines.  We bought the 2009 Gruet Winery, Pinot Noir, New Mexico several years ago after trying an even older, well-preserved example. It may seem surprising at first to find Pinot Noir in New Mexico but do remember that Gruet is famous for their sparkling wines, of which Pinot Noir plays a part.  Our bottle showed a lot of oak influence on the nose followed by primary cherry fruit in the mouth.  This is a solid drinking wine that would be great fun to serve blind at the beginning of a tasting or dinner.   From Mexico, the latest vintage of 2010 L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California offered solid, modern flavors of dense black fruit.  This bottle took a few days to show well which is not surprising given the grape variety.  Again, not a mind-blowing wine but another fun wine to serve blind.  I would personally be curious to see how it tastes several years from now.  The 2012 Aivalis Wines, Agiorgitiko, Nemea offers plummy, dry, and powerfully structured flavors.  The wine is a bit disjointed right now so stick it in the cellar for a year or two.  It you must try a bottle now (and most likely in the future) then be sure to accompany it by a big hunk of meat.  The L.A. Cetto and Aivalis wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Gruet was purchased at the winery.

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2009 Gruet Winery, Pinot Noir, New Mexico –
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir that was aged for 16+ months in oak barrels.  Alcohol ?%.  The color was a medium+ red cherry with some garnet.  There were good wood aromas on the notes, some sweet spices, and leather.  In the mouth were cherry fruits in this balanced wine.  The flavors were simple and shorter though the wine has kept well.  Eventually a fruity blue and red core came out.  No need to hold on but will last for years to come.  ** Now-2017.

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2010 L.A. Cetto, Petite Sirah, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California – $10
Imported by International Spirits & Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were low-lying heady aromas of tart fruit.  In the mouth were dense, inky flavors, some ripe, powdery tannins, and fruit that turned blacker. Needs a little time in the cellar.  *(*) 2015-2018.

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2012 Aivalis Wines, Agiorgitiko, Nemea – $16
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is 100% Agiorgitiko that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in 30% new and 70% used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose remained plummy.  In the mouth were plummy, black fruit flavors that were dry.  The acidity was salivating at first then dry, dark tannins came out towards the finish.  The structure is rather strong in comparison to the fruit.  The finish bore dark fruit that seemed separate from the structure in the end.  Needs time to integrate.  *(*) 2016-2019.

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Recent Drinks Including An Attractive Greek Wine Made from Mavro Kalavritino

These are several solid wines in this post that deliver regional character at an affordable price.  Of those still available I would recommend the 2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone and the 2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant.  Chances are you have seen this pair of wines before so I want to bring the 2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia to your attention.  Tetramythos is a young winery having produced their first wine in 1999 and completed the winery in 2004.  I had never tried a wine made from Mavro Kalavritino nor from the Achaia region so I was excited to find I enjoyed this wine.  I was particularly attracted to evocations of wild scrubland herbs in the aromas and the flavors.  I recommend you try this wine and there really is no excuse not to, it is afterall, only $11.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Andre Brunel, Cuvee Sabrine, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $13
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with some Syrah and Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore some blackberry aromas.  In the mouth were somewhat compact black fruit flavors, gentle spices, and fresh fruit acidity.  It became more robust in the middle with fine tannins in the finish and a dry aftertaste.  It opened up with air to show some roundness, a touch of earthy flavors complemented by garrigue, wood, and leather.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2012 Celler de Capcanes, Mas Donis Barrica, Old Vines, Montsant – $12
Imported by Eric Solomon European Cellars.  Alcohol 14%.  There were dense fruit aromas on the nose.  In the mouth were dense flavors that leaned towards the red spectrum before becoming black and dry.  With air the earthiness reduced but it did show some complexity with a little cherry note in the finish.  There was some extract, a little salivating acidity.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2018.

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2008 Mercer Estates, Merlot, Columbia Valley – $18
The nose was a modern blend of fruit and chocolate.  In the mouth were flavors of controlled ripe fruit, chocolate powder, and hints of both greenhouse and spiciness.  There were fine, ripe, powdery tannins and some acidity.  This wine had decent flavors for the profile and should remain at this plateau for years.  ** Now-2018.

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2012 Domaine Roger Perrin, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Potomac Selections.  Alcohol 13%.  The dark red aromas and macerated berries made way to mixed flavors of red and blue fruit.  The fruit tastes young.  The wine had some minerals, good acidity, and moderate structure which was left on the gums.  It had  a bit of everything but remained a little tight over two nights.  I would wait a few more months before drinking. ** Now-2018.

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2012 Tetramythos Wines, Mavro Kalavritino, Achaia – $11
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The attractive nose smelled of scrubland and became a little sweaty.  In the mouth were dark red fruit flavors.  This was a lighter wine with a dry flavors before a gentle, textured ripeness.  There were flavors of wild herbs that mixed with a sense of maturity and watering acidity before the dry finish.  This solid wine took up plum and cocoa flavors in the persistent aftertaste.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Valley Vintners, Trianguli, Bouquet, Danubian Plain – $19
Imported by Parallel 43 Selection.  This is made from 100% Bouquet which is a crossing between Mavrud and Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13%.  The  nose bore dark fruit and tightened up with air.  In the mouth were modern, black fruit flavors, a hint of black tea, and a citric note in the finish.  This is a solid wine that should be aged for several months before trying.  *(*) 2014-2018.

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Virginia versus Other Regions

March 12, 2013 3 comments

Frank Morgan is in town and having organized a Virginia Versus Other Regions tasting with David White, I found myself taking the Metro across the Potomac River to Crystal City to join them.  While I have driven through Crystal City over the years the last time I walked around was over two decades ago.  Of course I was hopelessly turned around.  Fortunately Frank texted my way to an intersection where we met up to begin the evening.  A small group of us gathered at the Washington Wine Academy to taste the seven white and seven red wines blind.  The goal had been to taste wines of matching vintages and to open them all up at the start of the tasting so as to even things up as much as possible.  Not that there was an expectation that a particular vintage in Virginia was similar in California or Burgundy.  While we managed to have all white wines from the 2010 vintage, the red wines were another story so we ended up with 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.  Present for the tasting were six people all with websites: Frank Morgan (Drink What You Like), David White (Terroirist), Christian Schiller (Schiller-Wine), Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours), Isaac James Baker (Reading, Writing & Wine), and myself (Hogshead Wine).  Many thanks to Jim Barker, President of the Washington Wine Academy for graciously letting us taking over his facility.

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All of the wines were served blind in brown paper bags.  The white wines were simply popped and poured.  The red wines were popped and poured save for the two Bordeaux which had been double-decanted an hour or two ahead of time.  Being at the Academy we each had our own table and two glasses to taste from.  After completing a flight we individually revisited any wine of interest.  We were asked to rank the wines from 1 being our favorite to 7 being our least favorite using our own criteria.  Once everyone had completed their rankings we read them off to Frank who tabulated the results.  You may read about Frank’s view on ranking in Results from the Oregon vs. Virginia Viognier and Cab Franc Tasting.  For Frank’

You may read about Isaac’s experience at Virginia vs. The World – A Blind Taste-Off.  For Frank’s post about this tasting please check out The Virginia Wine Trials, Con’t – Virginia Chardonnay and Red Blends Take On France and California.  You may read Christian Schiller’s post Virginia versus The World – A Blind Taste-Off.

White Wines

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The overall rankings were:

  • 1st – 2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru
  • 2nd – 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble Chardonnay and 2010 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
  • 4th – 2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse
  • 5th – 2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Karia, Chardonnay
  • 6th – 2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay

My personal top three wines and those of the group were the same.  I was pleased to see the Domaine des Moirots come out on top as they produce accessible and affordable wines.  While Linden and Ankida Ridge were tied in the group results, I preferred the Linden.  This vintage of Linden reflects the heat of the year but also flavors which come from the specific parcels planted in 1985 and 1988.  While it is drinkable now I imagine it should develop over the short-term.  On a much younger front, the Ankida Ridge is produced from 25% estate from a vineyard which was only two years old at the time.  I thought it a good inaugural wine.  Below you will find my white wine tasting notes presented in tasting order.

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1 – 2010 Gloria Ferrer Vineyards, Chardonnay, Carneros – $20 – (Not Ranked)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the estate vineyard.  The fruit was whole-cluster pressed, 100% barrel fermented with 29% undergoing malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for nine months in 27% medium-toast French oak barrels.  Batonnage occurred every three weeks for six months.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a similar light yellow gold as #2.  Off bottle.  Not Rated.

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2 – 2010 Ankida Ridge Vineyards, Chardonnay, Virginia – $32 – (My #3, Group #2)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay of which 25% is estate fruit from the Tablas Creek clone La Vineuse and 75% fruit from Bedford County. It was whole-cluster pressed and fermented in oak barrels with inoculated yeasts of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for nine months in barrel where it underwent regular batonnage.  The color was a light yellow gold.  The subdued nose had a hint of toast.  There was good weight to the start with a bit of acidity then some creamy and a touch ripe fruit and toast.  This was driven by the mouthfeel with white fruit and ripeness in the finish.  ** Now.

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3 – 2010 Linden, Hardscrabble, Chardonnay – $33 – (My #2, Group #2)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was lightly pressed then fermented in new and used barrels with cultured and indigenous yeasts.  Some barrels underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 10 months on the lees with batonnage.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium gold yellow.  The nose bore subdued heavier aromas.  The flavors were more expansive from the start showing some barrel toast which was well-integrated.  The wine was weighty but crisp with chewy acidity.  There were sweet spices, interesting flavors, and a richer style which was done well.  *** Now-2018.

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4 – 2010 Domaine des Moirots, Le Vieux Chateau, Montagny 1er Cru – $25 – (My #1, Group #1)
Imported by Weygandt- Metzler. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from half of the 9 ha Le Vieux Chateau vineyard.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a light straw yellow.  The subdued nose was a touch flora with a hint of the sea.  The flavors were the brightest yet with apples, a tart finish, and salivating acidity. This tastes a bit young.  Eventually some clove came out in the long aftertaste.  *** 2014-2019.

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5 – 2010 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Karia, Napa Valley – $30 – (My #6, Group #5)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from vineyards in and near the Oak Knoll District.  The fruit was fermented in 83% barrels and 17?% stainless steel tanks of which 55% underwent malolactic fermentation.  It was aged for 8 months on the lees in 29% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow.  There were barrel toast aromas at first.  In the mouth the flavors were a bit flabby then turned hollow towards the finish.  The yellow fruit lacked verve.  * Now.

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6 – 2010 Domaine Luquet Roger, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly-Fuisse – $30 – (My #5, Group #4)
An Alfio Moriconi Selection imported by Saranty Imports.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines 40-65 years of age.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow gold.  There was not much on the nose.  In the mouth there was a crisp, focused start with tangy grapefruit and yellow flavors.  The aftertaste bore some texture.  Young.  *(*) 2014-2018.

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7 – 2010 Ox-Eye Vineyards, Chardonnay, Shenandoah Valley – $18 – (My #4, Group #6)
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines at 1,830 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in barrels.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  There was a light but decent fruit nose.  There was some lively acidity followed by white nuts, juicy fruits, some toast, and spice.  ** Now.

Red Wines

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The overall rankings were:

  • 1st – 2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous
  • 2nd – 2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon
  • 3rd – 2008 Dry Creek, Meritage
  • 4th – 2006 Baron de Brane, Margaux
  • 5th – 2008 Barboursville, Octagon
  • 6th – 2007 Boxwood Winery, Topiary
  • 7th – 2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red

My personal top four selections were the same as the group but there was generally strong consensus amongst them all.  I did clearly prefer the top two wines and had convinced myself that wine #1 was RdV Vineyards and wine #3 was a Bordeaux.  What fun to be wrong and prefer the inaugural vintage of RdV!  I would recommend cellaring it a few more years.  Below you will find my red wine tasting notes presented in tasting order.

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1 – 2009 Chateau d’Aiguilhe, Cotes de Castillon – $35 – (My #2, Group #2)
Imported by Pearson’s Wine & Spirits.  This wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 28-year-old vines.  The fruit was destemmed and fermented in temperature controlled wooden vats for 25-30 days. It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged on the lees in up to 80% new oak barrels for 15-20 months.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium cherry.  The nose revealed berries then a ripe blackness with air.  The mouth was similar with some racy, ripe fruit and minerals.  A decent wine with good expansion, chewy tannins, and a fresh finish.  It tightened up some in the finish.  I guessed RdV Vineyards.  **(*) Now-2018.

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2 – 2007 The Boxwood Winery, Topiary, Virginia – $25 – (My #5, Group #6)
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium garnet, looking of age.  On the mouth there was red fruit and a greenhouse, menthol aspect.  The flavors were similar in the mouth with focus and quite a nice mouth feel.  There was tart acidity on the tip of the tongue.  I guessed Boxwood Winery.  ** Now-2016.

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3 – 2008 RdV Vineyards, Rendezvous – $55 – (My #1, Group #1)
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.  The color was  a medium to dark cherry garnet.  The nose was light and tight with brine aromas.  In the mouth the fruit was wrapped in structure with plenty of acidity, and some good mouthfeel.  There were fine, spicy tannins in this decent but young wine.  I guessed Bordeaux.  **(*) Now-2023.

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4 – 2008 Barboursville Vineyards, Octagon – $48 – (My #6, Group #5)
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  It was fermented in stainless steel tank, macerated for 10-20 days, then aged 12-14 months in new Gamba barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium cherry.  The light nose bore some fruits along with old perfume, and greenhouse notes.  There was ripe fruit in the mouth then focused black and red fruit.  It tasted like a Virginian wine.  The acidity was there followed by a short finish with black and red fruit.  The dry tannins were present on the lips.  *(*) Now-2015.

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5 – 2008 Chateau O’Brien, Padlock Red, Virginia – $24 – (My #7, Group #7)
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium garnet showing age.  There was mixed fruit on the nose and just a hint of greenhouse.  In the mouth there was a mature aspect with soft, expansive overripe fruit.  The finish was soft with some tannins.  * Now.

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6 – 2008 Dry Creek Vineyards, Meritage, Sonoma County – $25 – (My #3, Group #3)
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec, and 6% Petit Verdot which was aged for 22 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium cherry.  The nose was subdued.  In the mouth there was sweet fruit with a touch of ripeness as it softened up with black cherry that filled the mouth.  There was a core of fruit in the finish along with vanilla, and drying, coating citric tannins.  ** Now-2018.

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7 – 2006 Baron de Brane, Margaux – $36 – (My #4, Group #4)
Imported by Saranty Imports.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in 20% new barriques.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium garnet with some age.  There was red and black cherry flavors in the mouth, some maturity, and a lighter aspect which hinted at being hollow.  There was a cool, gentle finish with some ripe tannins.  ** Now-2015.

Christian, Isaac, Annette, the author, David, Frank

Christian, Isaac, Annette, the author, David, Frank