The 2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph will satisfy you on the second night for it is simple and closed on the first. It eventually reveals floral berries on the nose and an almost bracing start of red fruit and acidity. The structural components exist to support development over a few years at which point it should be an elegant, pure wine. It is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph – $27
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is 100% Syrah that was aged for 12 months in 10% new and 90% used oak. Alcohol 13%. The nose offers floral, aromas of tangy berries and cherries. In the mouth is an almost puckering start of red fruit and watering acidity. The wine has moderate weight with a supportive structure that comes out in the middle. It wraps up with a slightly smoky hint in the red and black fruited finish. ***(*) 2018 – 2025.
Today’s pair of wines recently hit the shelves thanks to Phil Bernstein. Always interested in expanding my Northern Rhone experience I excitedly popped open the 2011 Jean-Michel Gerin, Champin Le Seigneur, Cote-Rotie. Jean-Michel Gerin first worked under the advisement of Jean-Luc Colombo whose modern 2013 Jean-Luc Colombo, Les Bartavelles, Chateauneuf du Pape I recently tasted. From the onset Gerin employed “modern” ways including new oak some of which was American. The Champin Le Seigneur is a blend of Syrah and Viognier sourced from all of his parcels. Fortunately, this particular vintage is not evocative of oak. Instead, it is a gentle, pure wine of mixed fruits, floral notes, and stones. It is quite tasty right now but will develop with further age.
From Corsica comes the 2013 Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Cuvee Faustine. This blend of Sciaccarellu and Niellucciu provide attractive flavors of tart red fruity and dry floral notes. There are not many Corsican wines available in Washington, DC so this wine is worth a try. The balance tilts towards the structure with air so I suspect now might be the time to drink it. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Jean-Michel Gerin, Champin Le Seigneur, Cote-Rotie -$45
Imported by Esprit du Vin. This wine is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier. Alcohol 13%. There are gentle clouds of ripe aroma. In the mouth the smooth, dense entry combines red and black fruit with an inky, mineral, stone infused middle. The interest continues as fat infused strawberry and floral flavors develop with air. ***(*) Now – 2027.
2013 Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Cuvee Faustine – $25
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 70% Sciaccarellu and 30% Niellucciu raised in stainless steel and cement. Alcohol 14%. The red fruited start defines itself with tart red fruit bound in a tangy structure. There are dry floral and herb notes but the structure really blooms in size. I Like the flavor profile with its very delicate and ethereal ripe berries on the gum and persistent herbs. *** Now – 2022.
Last night Lou and I gathered to blindly taste through several bottles of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. For fun, we each unknowingly threw in an Australian blend of Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon. Perhaps this is unfair given the stature of our main selections but it was for fun. As we settled down to cheese, charcuterie, and cork removal we checked out a bottle of 2002 Huet, Le Haut-Lieu, Sec, Vouvray. I do not have enough experience with Huet so I found the lifted, aromatically textured nose a delight. It starts off in the fruit spectrum eventually to take on a honey character. In the mouth this is a fresh, grippy wine with a nice balance of fruit supported by hints of yeast and oxidation. Fine stuff! I look forward to finishing my leftover glass tonight.
It was then on to the bagged red wines. Guessing is fun when you are not pressured. Wine #1 is firm at first though you can detect some maturity and herbaceousness. It is the most structured wine out of all tasted and I, admittedly clueless, narrowed in to the 1979-1981 vintages. For those who enjoy structured, rather than opulent wines the 1984 Duckhorn Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley will develop for years to come. It eventually reveals a bit more of its bottle aged maturity.
Wine #2 showed signs of old seepage under the capsule but the fill was where the neck met the shoulder. You could get a sense of this on the nose which leaned towards meat rather than fruit but in the mouth the flavor and delivery of the fruit flavor is gorgeous! What luxury it is to drink glass after glass of 1991 Ridge, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains. This is a sophisticated wine of ideal balance with youthful, complex fruit flavors that seek out every part of your mouth with wave after wave of flavor. Also excellent is wine #4. After some bottle stink blew off, this is highly aromatic of eucalyptus. In the mouth an impressive amount of energy unfurls dark fruit, ripe structure, and wood box. The 1986 Joseph Phelps Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus Vineyard, Napa Valley is perhaps more mature in flavor than the Ridge but the Phelps needs more time to open up. It is fascinating pair to drink together. No one spat these two wines!
Just a few final thoughts with regards to wines #3 – 2004 Penfolds, Koonunga Hill, Shiraz-Cabernet, South Eastern Australia, avoid, and #5 – 1978 Wakefield River Estates, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia. Wakefield River Estates was founded in 1972 by Dr. Douglas Hewitson who planted just over 2,100 Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the wheatbelt area of Balaklava. The wines were made by the highly regarded James Irvine who still produces wine today. James Irvine got his start at a young age having developed the Siegersdorf brand in 1959 as winemaker at Hardy’s. As the Wakefield winery had no buildings the wine was made at Saltram, an historic Barossa Valley winery founded in 1859. Wakefield River Estates was short-lived and curious enough, the label on the bottle tells the history including the demise indicating this bottle was imported in the mid 1980s. It was in 1982 that all of the fruit was eaten by starlings and in 1983, due to severe drought conditions, there was a sparse crop. The fruit was sold off and the winery ceased. As for the vintage Decanter states the wines are of “richness and longevity” with the wines around Adelaide being “robust”. So perhaps it was a bit unfair to include this wine with the Ridge and Phelps but the potential is there.
2002 Huet, Le Haut-Lieu, Sec, Vouvray
Imported by Robert Chadderdon. Alcohol 12%. It is the color of a light apple cider. On the nose are finely textured, lifted aromas of dried apricots and apple cider. With air the nose reveals honey aromas. In the mouth this is a mildly weight wine with a vein of acidity and hint of yeast towards the finish. It wraps up with a fresh and grippy finish. Additional complexity is gained from a hint of oxidation. ***(*) Now – 2027.
#1 – 1984 Duckhorn Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.9%. This is less dark than #2 but of similar color. The nose offers hints of maturity with the slightest hint of herbaceousness. A lively start brings a little tang and firmness of flavor. There is still structure in the end which contributes to the lasting sensation. With air the wine begins to open up maturity becoming more evident. It also develops a mineral note and a dusty, wood box flavor. ***(*) Now – 2022.
#2 – 1991 Ridge, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains
This wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.3%. This garnet wine is still fairly opaque in the middle. The nose is a bit meaty. In the mouth this wine packs in the flavor with a plum hint at first, mineral middle, then a younger, fresh eucalyptus finish. There is sophistication to the purple and black fruits There is still a very fine tannic structure and acidity throughout. Impeccably balanced and impressive. ****(*) Now – 2027.
#3 – 2004 Penfolds, Koonunga Hill, Shiraz-Cabernet, South Eastern Australia
Imported by FWE Imports. This wine is a blend of 64% Shiraz and 36% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The subtle nose is followed by candied and pruned flavors in the mouth. The acidity stands separate from the core of simple fruit flavors. Tastes like a cheap domestic port. Poor.
#4 – 1986 Joseph Phelps Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus Vineyard, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.3%. Some bottle stink at first but that blows off to reveal a highly aromatic, eucalyptus nose. In the mouth is dark flavor, more structure, and a touch of ruggedness in the finish. But over the course of several hours this wine unfurls itself. It adds both wood box and blood. The energy is impressive as framed, ripe, inky fruit coats the mouth. ****(*) Now – 2027.
#5 – 1978 Wakefield River Estates, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
Imported by San Francisco Traders LTD. This wine is a blend of mostly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak puncheons. Alcohol 12%. A mature garnet color. There is a ripe fruit start but the wine quickly turns soft only to end at the short finish. Simply too old at this point. Fair.
The 2013 Jean-Luc Colombo, Les Bartavelles, Chateauneuf du Pape is available at a close-out price placing it just above that of Cotes du Rhone. If you enjoy a modern style of wine this is an excellent value with grapey, black fruit flavors, texture, and salivating acidity. It will drink well for a number of years. It is available at MacArthur Beverages.
Domaine Pierre Andre is regarded as a “very traditional producer” by John Livingstone-Learmonth. Pierre Andre did not use pesticides or herbicides in his vineyards which contain vines over 100 years of age. He produced organic wines since 1980 and Demeter certified since 1992. Today his daughter Jacqueline Andre runs the estate who continues the use of cement vats and old wood. Her father had a preference for late harvesting which comes through in the 1998 Domaine Pierre Andre, Chateauneuf du Pape. The nose is complex with fruit and in the mouth I am reminded of dry Port flavors. This is a substantial wine but it tastes good with a good sense of minerals, cedar, and pleasing texture.
2013 Jean-Luc Colombo, Les Bartavelles, Chateauneuf du Pape – $22
Imported by Palm Bay International. This wine is a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre. Alcohol 13.5%. This is a modern style of wine with concentrated flavors of grapey, black fruit delivered with some grainy texture, density, and weight. It is bright in a sense with citric, puckering tannins, and a salivating black flavored finish with a hint of bitterness. *** Now – 2022.
1998 Domaine Pierre Andre, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Lauver Imports LTD. Alcohol 15%. The nose reveals blackberry and bramble fruitiness overlaying compote. In the mouth there are clean, grainy flavors of black fruit followed by a mineral middle and finish. The flavors are ripe, bordering on raisined, perhaps better described as a dry Port flavor. It is a bit heady but the wood box and cedar note, sense of density, and ripe tannins left on the gums are attractive. ***(*) Now – 2022.
Between work, family, wine research, and the new turntable I am short on free time. Thus over the past month I have generally drunk inexpensive French and Italian wine for I need not take down any notes. I have peppered these same weeks with a handful of younger bottles from California. One recent release is the 2013 Coquerel Family Wines, Le Terroir, Chardonnay, Oakville Block A, Napa Valley. This bottle showed very well after a few hours of air as well as on the second night. It is a style of wine that has not swung too far in either direction, providing balanced white fruit flavors with both lovely mouthfeel and tautness.
I have never tasted the 2009 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County since release. I was surprised by the amount of flavor packed in and the lack of evolution. It is quite tasty but should be cellared further to open up. I suppose, in retrospect, I can understand why Lou and I enjoy decades old bottles of Ridge. The 2005 Karl Lawrence, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is a solid wine full of black fruit and graphite. It is supple and tasty, just not as exciting as I hoped at this stage. Finally, there is the gigantic 1997 Williams Selyem, Pinot Noir, Olivet Lane Vineyard, Russian River Valley which caught me off guard. Ripe, dark, and alcoholic it is simply not my type of wine.
2013 Coquerel Family Wines, Le Terroir, Chardonnay, Oakville Block A, Napa Valley – $30
This was fermented in 25% oak barrels with the remaining in stainless steel after which is was aged 7 months sue lie. Alcohol 14%. With a bit of warmth and air this is an attractive wine of white fruit with a pleasing body of glycerin and nut flavors. The tautness of the wine builds as the acidity becomes more noticeable, simultaneously evolving a finely textured, ripe grip. ***(*) Now – 2020.
2009 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
This wine is a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, and 6% Carignane. Alcohol 14.5%. This is both surprisingly unevolved and packing a tremendous level of flavor. It is a richly textured, dense wine of dark fruit that may not have any hard edges but does have structure for significant aging. Given the level of stuffing I would wait another five years to try again. **** Now – 2027.
2005 Karl Lawrence, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.2%. The nose remained subtle and the flavors of graphite-infused black fruit remained gentle. This is a low-lying, almost laid back wine. It remains very black in terms of flavor with inky hints and eventually develops some additional complexity from a wood box flavor. There is some texture but it is generally supple with low-acidity. Solid. *** Now.
1997 Williams Selyem, Pinot Noir, Olivet Lane Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Alcohol 14.9%. This is a thick, dark flavored, very ripe wine of body and scope which seems to defy the varietal. It was heady with noticeable heat in the finish that I found too distracting. Not my style. Not Rated.
I was looking around for older bottles of Chianti wine when I was sidetracked by a few vintages of Castello Monsanto’s Super Tuscan wine Nemo. I randomly decided to open a bottle Friday night so I opted for the 2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany which is the youngest I have. There is a lovely nose of blue and black fruit which is matched by deep, balanced flavor in the mouth. It is more flavorful than complex with the sensation that bottle age has made it the wine accessible. As such, it is a very satisfying Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany.
2003 Castello Monsanto, Nemo Il Mulino, Tuscany
Imported by MW Imports. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in oak. Alcohol 14%. This is a deep, earthy wine of blue and black fruit. At this age the wine is still has some fresh structure and grip which provides a pleasing amount of texture. More importantly the good, deep flavor is hard to resist. ***(*) Now – 2027.
Just a quick post for today. The 1983 Gould Campbell, Vintage Port is in fine shape. It has shed any aggressiveness of youth and is now in that middle age of smoothness. The primary blue fruit is surrounded by bottle aged flavor which last through the respectably long finish. The sweetness is in balance making this an easy Vintage Port to drink.
1983 Gould Campbell, Vintage Port
Imported by Premium Port Wines. Alcohol 20%. This is an attractive wine which tastes best after several hours of air. It has dense flavors of blue fruit, ripe spices, fine wood, and moderate sweetness. It is smooth and balanced throughout with a sense of elegance. ***(*) Now – 2037.