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A Spanish pair of Tempranillo

Both of the wines in this post are made from Tempranillo yet one is from Ribera del Duero and the other from Rioja.  The 2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero is new wine for me and I am pleased to write it is well made and quite tasty.  The 2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva is the more serious of the two yet it is beautiful.  It is clear that 2010 is an excellent vintage  capable of developing for the next several years. These two wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero – $15
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from vines at 700 and 1,000 meters of elevation that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for four months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Flavors of cool, juicy fruit are carried by watering acidity over a fine structure.  Quite tasty with a dry, graphite finish.  *** Now – 2023.

2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva – $24
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged 18 months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  After a few hours of air this beautiful wine fills the mouth with powdery red and black fruit.  There is some cocoa and only a hint of sweetness to the flavors.  There is fresh acidity, but not out of balance for the flavor, spices, and dry baking spices in the gentle finish.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

A trio of Cotes du Rhone

Cotes du Rhone upon release is fun but it  also is with a few years of age.  The 2012 Domaine Alary, L’Estevenas, Cairanne  is still bright and lively but there are pleasingly mature flavors to be enjoyed right now.  Pure, grapey, and deep-fruited the 2015 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone offers a good level of intensity.   The 2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Plan de Dieu is another must-try wine.  I have recommended the wines of Plan de Dieu before.  If you still haven’t tried one then grab this bottle!  The Charvin was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Alary and Saint-Damien were purchased at Weygandt-Wines.

2012 Domaine Alary, L’Estevenas, Cairanne – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%. Black fruit on the nose. This is a bright wine of mulberry flavors which still sports grip. There is watering acidity, a mixture of grip and garrigue, and hints of structure in the end. Notes of maturity do come out but the wine is still lively at the start. *** Now – 2023.

2015 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of 81% Grenache, 7% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, and 5% Carignan.  Alcohol 14%. This is a pure, grapey and deep fruited wine very much in the Charvin style. The middle is perfumed and mineral, eventually take on floral notes. There is just a touch of heat giving away the vintage. *** Now – 2023.

 

2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Plan de Dieu – $17
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%. Kirsch on the nose. There is a bright, clean start which soon builds midpalate depth to the red fruit. There are additional flavors of dense black fruit and minerals by the end. There are tons of flavor to which bramble and red meat add complexity. This enjoyable in this youthful, modestly structured state. *** Now – 2025.

A trio of Vacqueyras

April 16, 2018 1 comment

When I cannot drink Chateauneuf du Pape I will drank Vacqueyras which is the focus of this post. Of the three wines tasted, the 2015 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras and the 2014 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Doucinello, Vacqueyras are in need of some age. The La Garrigue is the more closed of the two but some earthy complexity is present. The Cailloux adds garrigue to the earth for good effect.  The 2015 Vignoble Alain Ignace, Sumbiosis, Vacqueyras is a new wine for me.  It has the flavors I have come to love which are delivered in a lively manner making it drink well right now.   The Garrigue and Cailloux are available at MacArthur Beverages.  The Ignace is available at Weygandt Wines.

2015 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras – $22
An Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selection. This wine is a blend of mostly  Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%. A pure wine with focused flavors that only take on a subtle earth note near the end. The structure is not noticeable until the finish where there infinitely fine tannins serve to dry the gums. It does develop bright red berries. Overall a bit closed so sit on it for a year or two. *** 2019-2025.

2015 Vignoble Alain Ignace, Sumbiosis, Vacqueyras – $21
Imported by Wygandt – Metzler. This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%. Aromas of bramble fruit and garrigue entice. In the mouth, delicate red berries match a citrus flavor in this medium bodied wine. There is a little rusticity to the start, moderate density, and watering acidity which moves the flavors to the drier finish of baking spices. Lively and light on its feet. *** Now – 2024.

2014 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Doucinello, Vacqueyras – $25
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre & Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%. Slightly pungent on the nose. A round yet bright entry of red fruit is soon a touch earthy with water acidity and modest, supporting structure. There is garrigue and baking spice notes in the finish which matches the texture. Good now but need some age to open up. ***(*) 2019 – 2028.

A blind tasting of 2014 Bordeaux

Several weeks ago I was a guest of Phil’s tasting group for a blind event featuring featuring seven wines.  I will admit to being confused.  I thought some wines from Bolgheri, others certainly from Bordeaux, and I was sure one was Barbera! Six of the wines were Bordeaux and what I thought was Barbera turned out to be from California.  All wines were from the 2014 vintage which I did not guess.

When we sat down to taste the wines they had the corks removed just one hour prior.  The naturally forward wines showed the best but the subsequently decanted Pichon Baron improved greatly.  In all fairness, I heard that the Clinet improved greatly after three days.  If in doubt hold on to your 2014s!

My favorites include the 2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, undoubtedly the best value of all wines tasted but also my type of wine, and even the forward 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan.  The best wine for long-term development is the 2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac.  There are interesting flavors here but the balance and stuffing will see it evolve into something quite engaging.

Please find my notes below in the order the wines were tasted.  If my ratings seem conservative just remember these wines are young!  Many thanks to Phil for including me.

2014 Chateau La Gaffeliere, Saint- Emillion – $55
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%. Still young in color with dark aromas of mulberries. In the mouth black fruit, cherries, and good acidity are still structured. The fresh finish brings powerful tannins. With air the fruit takes on a cool aspect but is sappy and chewy with a graphite note. Will certainly improve with age.  ***(*) 2020-2035.

2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac – $99
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.   This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot.  Alcohol 13.5%. The nose remained tighter. An almost puckering start with wood flavors and a tart finish on the tongue. The tannins are fairly unresolved grabbing the gums but there is an interesting blend of fruit and flavors. After decanting the fruit balanced out the structure revealing good harmony and flavor.  **** 2023-2038.

2014 Chateau Giscours, Margaux – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon. 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.5%. Tight, somewhat aromatic but unevolved. In the mouth are focused and tight flavors of black fruit. The wine is fresh but also very young with structure and acidity reminiscent of Bordeaux. It takes on hints of fat in the finish, some greenhouse, and is clearly built to age. ***(*) 2023-2035.

2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan – $65
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This is a blend of 54 % Cabernet Franc, 32 % Merlot, and 14 % Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%. A little more on the nose perhaps some meat. There is more immediate fruit weight compared to structure. This is a dense wine with gum coating, rather than drying, tannins. The watering acidity is integrated with the structure. This wine is young but in balance with a hint of fruit in the end along with baking spices. **** Now – 2028.

2014 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate – $54
This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvingon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Monte Bello Vineyard. Alcohol 13.7%. A good nose of black fruit and violets but the aromas are almost raisinated. There is a riper core of dark and ripe fruit, quite the structure but the brambly fruit perseveres. It has a soft edge and notes of sweet oak. Reminded me of Barbera!  *** Now – 2026.

2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan – $75
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 14%. There is depth to the nose. In the mouth, ripe fruit, black and violet, exists in a structure but there is more good fruit to the balance. It is a good modern wine, will be ready sooner, with nice weight that marks the structure as supportive. It opens up well, is the most forward, and even offers a mineral finish. **** Now – 2030.

2014 Chateau Clinet, Pomerol – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.5%. This is a finely flavored wine, cool in flavor, structured, and focused. It did not give up much. *** 2021- 2031.

Another daily bottle for your table: 2015 Stephane Ogier, Les Temps est Venu, CdR

March 25, 2018 1 comment

The 2015 Stephane Ogier, Les Temps est Venu, Cotes du Rhone is more forward than the previous vintage which means it is a great wine to drink for enjoyment midweek.  I recommend you stock up at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Stephane Ogier, Les Temps est Venu, Cotes du Rhone – $15
A Robert Kacher selection imported by Domaine Select. This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, and a dollop of Cinsault. The fruit is largely sourced from Plan de Dieu, fermented in concrete vats where it is also aged for 7 months. Alcohol 14%.  This is a forward, rounded wine with minimal structure and hints of minerals in the finish.  Though there is ripe, sweet, grapey fruit with noticeable weight, the wine becomes drier with air which puts it into balance.  Good value.  *** Now – 2020.

Three fine values from Gigondas

March 21, 2018 1 comment

All three 2015 Gigondas in this post are of fine value.  The 2015 Domaine  Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas is well balanced all around with depth to the powdery fruit, notes of stone, and requisite structure for development.  And the price is low!  The 2015 Domaine Brusset, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas is classically firm and certainly requires age.  I particularly like the savory aspect and licorice note.  Finally, the 2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas is impossible to resist for the earthy note already adds complexity to the blue fruit.  It even gets better with air!  You may grab these bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine  Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas – $24
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A brighter wine of powdery blue fruit that forms a rounded and dense core of flavor.  The wine moves on towards black fruit and stones with the structure and astringency coming out by the finish.  With air the powdery flavors persist and a slight chocolate note comes out in the finish.  Good value.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2015 Domaine Brusset, Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, Gigondas – $
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault fermented in vats and demi-muids.  Alcohol 13.5%.  With dry Christmas spices on the nose the flavors are cool and dense with black fruit and licorice.  It is a touch savory  with very fine, drying tannins.  It will benefit from a few years of age.  *** Now – 2025.

2015 Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas – $30
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age which was fermented in concrete vats then aged in foudres.  Alcohol 15%.  A floral nose.  The firm start immediately offers some very fine structure as well as a good earthy flavor and blue, creamy fruit.  The finish sports dry baking spices.  The earth pervades underneath with clean yet firm fruit overlaying it.  With air this mouth filling and generous wine adds in potpourri and a little fat.  **** Now – 2028.

With good potential 2016 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine

March 19, 2018 1 comment

In Washington, DC, we are about to transition from Spring back into Winter.  With cooler temperatures in mind I recommend the 2016 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone.  This vintage returns with the earthy, deep note which reveals itself after a good dose of air.  It is a bit tight right now, while you may enjoy it from a decanter it is best left until the fall.  I picked up this bottle at Pete’s of East Lake in Seattle.

2016 Domaine La Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone – ~$17
Imported by Eric Solomon. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah sourced from 60-90 year old vines. It was aged for 12 months in concrete tanks. Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over three nice this wine offers brambly fruit with fine yet ripe textured tannins that coat the gums from the start.  The acidity is fresh providing the life for this wine to develop over the next few years.  There is also that earthy, deep-note I enjoy in my favorite vintages of this wine.  *** Now – 2025.