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A South African Sauvignon Blanc from 2017

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Given the unusually hot weather in Washington, DC, it is only fair to recommend the crisp 2017 Springfield Estate, Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc, Robertson.  I drank this wine courtesy of my neighbor Taz whose wife kindly carried it back from South Africa.  I cannot think of a wine tasted in recent memory that is so aromatic.  This is a crisp, stone accented wine with a savory edge.  Good stuff!

2017 Springfield Estate, Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc, Robertson
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from 14-20 year old vines grown on soils of 70% slate. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is highly aromatic with pungent notes of fresh grass and fruit.  This is a crisp, fruity with with green tinged fruit and a persistent mineral/stone note.  With a bit of warmth it takes on an attractive savory edge.  *** Now – 2018.

A good value for short-term aging: 2015 Pasquiers, CdRV Sablet

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet  has improved in the nearly half-year since I first tasted it.  The flavors are opening up in the mouth yet there is still that ruggedness which should fade off with another year or so of age. I think that the amount of flavor and ability to age come at a low price.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet – $16
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache with a fair dose of Syrah and some Mourvedre all from vines averaging 40 years of age.  The wine was aged for 12 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose is a bit tight right now revealing red and black fruited aromas.  In the mouth are very ripe, black fruit flavors that are underpinned by minerals.  As the wine progress towards the finish it picks up blacker fruit and becomes drier.  The flavors persist in the long aftertaste.  A bit rugged at this point but this will fade with age.  *** Now – 2025.

A pair of Mencia from Casa de Burbia of Bierzo

September 20, 2017 Leave a comment

There are a range of wines produced by  Casar de Burbia all from various holdings of old vines in Bierzo.  Phil recently brought in two red wines made from Mencia.  Both were raised for one year in French oak so they offer a serious take on the grape.  The 2014 Casar de Burbia, Casar, Bierzo is grapey style of wine which improves with air.  It is an ideal wine to drink mid-week over the next few years.  I particularly liked the 2013 Casar de Burbia, Hombros, Bierzo with its deeper flavors and more obvious mineral edge.  It will certainly develop in the bottle for a few more years but the robustness, tannins, and juicy acidity make it hard to resist right now.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Casar de Burbia, Casar, Bierzo – $15
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 40 year old vines, fermented in stainless steel then aged 12 months in French oak. Alcohol 14%.  There are rich, young fruit flavors with hints of grapey tang and grapey greenness.  It moves towards tangy black flavors in the firmer finish.  With air there is a sense of softness coupled with a berrylicious flavor and even an impression of fat in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2020.

2013 Casar de Burbia, Hombros, Bierzo – $20
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is 100% Mencia sourced from 50-100 year old vines, fermented in stainless steel then aged 12 months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.  The dark, plummy aromas make way  to a slightly robust, minerally black fruited start in the mouth.  The gum coating tannins are there but so is juicy acidity and very ripe fruit.  This is an attractive wine of good flavor which persists in the long aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2014 Fontefico, “cocca di casa”, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: new label, same tasty wine

September 19, 2017 Leave a comment

I could not find Fontefico’s basic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo until Tim pointed out the new label and name.  Despite this change the 2014 Fontefico, “cocca di casa”, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo continues the trend of offering fine flavor for the price.  It will undoubtedly age for several years but the vigor of youth is exciting right now.  I am particularly drawn to the inky, mineral vein that complements the dark fruit.  I recommend you grab a few bottles!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Fontefico, “cocca di casa”, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – $19
Imported by Tenth Harvest.  This wine is 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo that was aged in a combination of stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The bright nose is followed by more complexity in the mouth.  The wine is certainly lively, not quite robust perhaps vigorous is the best description.  The inky, mineral vein picks up focused flavors of red fruit with an undertone of black fruit.  The watering acidity matches the black fruit flavors as some coarse, coating tannins mix up with spice.  The structure comes out with air.  *** Now – 2022+.

Syrah from the oldest commercial winery in Lebanon

September 12, 2017 Leave a comment

I know I am far too caught up with work and neglecting my posts when I receive a gentle, humorous prod from Lou.  Despite the lack of regular posts I still drink wine every day.  This pleasant weekend I spent an afternoon with my new neighbor Taz whose friend brought back a bottle of 2009 Domaine des Tourelles, Grande Cuvee, Syrah, Bekaa Valley from Lebanon.

Domaine des Tourelles is the oldest commercial winery in Lebanon, dating back to 1868.  It was founded by Francois Brun, a French engineer, who came to Lebanon in 1860 to build a road from Damascus to Beirut.  The winery remained in the family until 1999 when the last Brun passed away.  Today it is run by the Fissa family of which the winemaker Faouzi Issa trained for a period under Rene Rostaing.  The 19th century cement vats are still around so this wine has a tie to the past beyond just its name.

The wine itself is in a fully mature state.  It is savory with an attractive leather component that adds appreciable complexity to the fruit.  I would drink this up now while there is still good fruit.

2009 Domaine des Tourelles, Grande Cuvee, Syrah, Bekaa Valley
Imported by suitcase.  This wine is 100% Syrah fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in American oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Maturing in color.  This is a savory wine leather notes and a gentleness that speak of some age.  There are still powdery flavors of red and black fruit.  The structure is largely resolved with mature flavors and bits of confection evident in the finish.  *** Now but will last.

Flavor packed Beaujolais from Domaine Dupeuble

The 2015 vintage produced one of the most substantial Beaujolais I have yet to taste.  One sip of the 2015 Domaine Dupeuble, Beaujolais will have you believe that Gamay vines are to be found in Chateauneuf du Pape.     Ignore that the 2015 vintage is not prototypical and instead enjoy this voluminous wine which will please not only your friends but your bank account too.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Dupeuble, Beaujolais – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 50-100 years of age.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This aromatic wine offers bright aromas of almost jammy berries.   In the mouth is a surprising volume of focused red berry flavor, sweet fruit, and a mineral middle.  The watering acidity moves the wine to the purple and black finish.  It is a big wine, yet very tasty with an attractive thin layer of fat.  *** Now – 2018.

Vacqueyras white and red

Lou, David Aaron, Jenn, and I gathered in our kitchen for a blind tasting.  As it was my turn to host I opened six bottles from Vacqueyras believing all would enjoy them.  I find this region produces riper and less tannic wine than Gigondas yet is still capable of a touch of age.  It is moderate age that I hoped to explore.

We kicked things off with Lou’s bottle of 2006 Pierre Andre, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Blanchots.  The attractive interplay between fruit, yeast, and stones coupled with near-maturity meant it drank well and was finished off before I could revisit the bottle.  The second wine tasted, being the first bottle of Vacqueyras, is also a white wine.  The 2013 Sang de Cailloux, Un Sang Blanc, Vacqueyras Blanc is a tropical, complex wine with a luxurious mouth feel.  Phil still stocks this wine at MacArthur Beverages so if you have yet to try Vacqueyras blanc then you owe it to try a bottle with your friends.  Also available is the first red wine we tasted 2012 Domaine le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras.  This is a mature, affordable Vacqueyras which transitioned us from white to red.

The 2006, 2005, and 2003 trio of Domaine de la Charbonniere remained true to the vintage.  The 2006 is a balanced almost elegant wine.  The 2005 is more aromatic and offers additional complexity from garrigue and wood box elements.  The 2003 is the most powerful, borders on rugged and leans towards plum flavors.  All of these wines drank well over two nights but the 2006 and 2005 are my favorite.  Right now they offer a good mix of maturity and fruit.

Finally, the 2000 Domaine de la Garrigue, Vacqueyras is completely mature.  The fruit is fading, instead replaced by deep ethereal flavors of garrigue and earth.  It is still satisfying but is starting to dry up.

2006 Pierre Andre, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Blanchots
Imported by William Harrison Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  It is a fresh, light yellow straw color.  The nose mixes fruit and yeast while the mouth brings round, white fruit with a good level of weight and stones.  Tasty.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2013 Sang de Cailloux, Un Sang Blanc, Vacqueyras Blanc – $50
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 20% Clairette, 20% Grenache Blanc, 15% Bourboulenc, 15% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, and 15% Viognier sourced from young vines.  It was fermented and raised in oak.  There are complex, sweet tropical aromas.  In the mouth is a round flavorful version of the nose. This racy wine is still young with nearly crisp acidity and a seductive rich mouth feel that borders on melted fat.  The white, exotics fruits move through the richness leaving the impression of a brighter finish.  **** Now – 2022.

2012 Domaine le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache sourced from vines at least 30-50 years of age. The fruit was completely destemmed then aged in both stainless steel tanks followed by enamel coated concrete tanks. Alcohol 14%.  The subtle nose is mature with dark aromas.  In the mouth are dark berries that mix with a mineral and black middle.  This morphs in to a black graphite finish.  The tannins are largely resolved and coupled with a certain sense of relaxation, I suspect this is drinking at its peak.  *** Now.

2006 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre  with Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%. There is a good dose of garrigue thrown in the mix.  The wine is juicy in a way but the fine structure dries and tightens by the finish leaving the impression of backbone.  With air more fruit becomes apparent balancing the structure against the bright, red and black dense core.  The balance becomes notable as does a certain elegance.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2005 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre  with Cinsault.  Alcohol 15%.  The dark nose made complex by floral incense is more intense than the 2006 vintage.  At first dark fruit mixes with wood box notes carried by lively acidity into the dry finish.  With extended air there is absolutely no decline to the black fruit, garrigue, and slight spiciness.  The black cherry fruit is dance and balanced.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that was aged for 6-8 months in big oak tanks.  Alcohol 15%.  There are rounded, drying flavors due to structure from the start with mature flavors in the middle, and a slightly green/fresh finish that leaves tannins on the gums.  With air the structure, tang, and grip at the end is noticeably more rugged than the 2005 vintage.  This vintage is about plum flavors and power rather than balance.  A bit of black fruit and polished wood are left in the aftertaste.   ***  Now – 2020.

2000 Domaine de la Garrigue, Vacqueyras
Imported by European Cellars.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This most mature in color and on the nose.  In the mouth intensity of the fruit is replaced by deep ethereal flavors of garrigue and earth.  There is still a dry and powdered structure supporting the firm, red cherry notes.  *** Now but will last.