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A must-try pair of Italian wines

Tim’s latest Italian recommendations are a must-try so I feel I should pass them on to you.  First is the impeccable 2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio.  It is lively with the right amount of fruit, weight, and grip.  In other words it is both flavorful and pleasing in the mouth.  Little did I know that the 2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli is important in the history of Italian wine.  This vintage is the latest in the series of Bordeaux blends which began with the 1951 vintage.  Thus Loredan Gasparini made the first Italian Bordeaux blend.  This bottle is developing mature notes but the core of the fruit and structural components still exist.  There is a sense of tightness and resolve so drink it after double-decanting or better yet in a few years from now.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Robert Princic, Gradis’Ciutta, Friulano, Collio – $19
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is 100% Friulano that was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a lively start of white fruit and nuts which is delivered in a round character.  There are stone notes through the middle, a dry finish with a touch of grip, and a fresh aftertaste.  Well articulated.  *** Now – 2018.

2011 Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu Della Casa, Colli – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec that was aged 18 months in Slavonian oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There are focused, round and dense flavors of blue and black fruit couple with initial bottled aged notes.  This maturity is more ethereal adding complexity throughout.  An herbaceous note at the start moves on to lively, dry spices in the middle, and a suggestion of powdery, ripeness in the finish.  With air the wine becomes more incensed and takes on a polished wood note.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

A cool wine from the Canary Islands

This bottle of 2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands flat out surprised me.  On the first night it is certainly light bodied, a bit thin on flavor, and somewhat frail.  Though there is enough earthiness and tightness that I recorked the bottle.  Over the course of the second night the wine transformed.  Jenn succinctly described it as a wine of pepper on the nose and potpourri in the mouth.  There is more though, it is a gentle wine that develops a moderate amount of body, appropriate ripeness, and never loses a sense of its volcanic origins.   It is actually quite good and I would not be surprised if it is drinking really well by the end of the year.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Viticultores Emilio Ramirez y Envinate, Benje, Canary Islands – $20
A Jose Pastor Selections imported by Llaurador Wines.  This is a blend of high-altitude 70-120 year-old Listan Prieto with some Tintilla that was foot trodden, fermented in concrete and tubs with indigenous yeasts then aged 8 months in neutral oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose smells of black and white pepper with some dried floral notes.  In the mouth this light bodied wine begins with red fruit flavors, a little cranberry, with some ethereal ripeness by the finish.  With extended air it develops more weight by the middle with a rather substantial amount of tartness, minerality, and ripe texture.  More importantly the old-school potpourri flavor weave its way from start to finish.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

You should buy the 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras this weekend

Domaine Palon is a small estate located in Gigondas.  From 17 acres in Gigondas and 12 acres in Vacqueyras the family has produced wine for four generations.  However, it was not until 2003 that the wine was first bottled under the family name.  The 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras is a strong value.  It is one of those wines enjoyable in its vigorous, powerful youth yet should develop and open up over the next few years.  With the cold weather in our forecast I would stock up on a few bottles this weekend.   This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras – $20
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%. This is a black fruited, floral and mineral wine with a very focused core of ripe fruit.  It ripples with power and though it evolves with air to become a tasty wine of youthful vigor the balanced acidity and textured tannins will see it develop over the next couple of years.   ***(*) Now – 2027.

A Blind Tasting of 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux with bottles of Dunn and Chave too

A few weeks back I was lucky to be a guest when Sotiris hosted his tasting group. We tasted seven wines blind of which one was a ringer.  Now I could not peg that we were tasting 2000 and 1996 Bordeaux but the 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley did stick out for it is certainly different.  Though the flavor is good, the structure is rather intense at this point so I suggest cellaring it for years to come.

The 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien is a particularly fine wine which you may drink now and over the coming years.  From the nose to the flavor and mouth feel I could not help but to enjoy it. I thought the 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe showed well too.  The nose demonstrates how it is entering a mature phase but the power and acidity will see this through for some time.  As for the other bottles, the 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion is a wine to drink now whereas the 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien needs time to come into its own. Our bottle of 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves was sadly musty but the  2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage was spot on.  This group loves Rhone wines so what a treat to finish up with Chave.  This is a fine, impeccably balanced wine that is still very young in flavor but the saline and fat notes hint at future complexity.

1) 2000 Chateau Quinault, L’Enclos, St-Emilion
Imported by Wine Markets Intl.  Alcohol 13%.  A garnet hint in the glass.  There are hints of maturity on the nose, ripe fruit, minerals, and Kirsch.  The mature ripe start soon brings minerals but is not as expansive as I expected.  There is a prominent vein of acidity, some herbaceous flavors, floral middle then less apparent acidity and spices in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2022.

2) 2000 Chateau Magdelaine, St-Emilion
Imported by Maison Marques et Domaines. Alcohol 13%.  The nose is more subtle.  This is a redder wine with fuzzy cranberry and red berry flavors.  It has a core of sweet fruit in the middle then takes on more body, grip, and an herbaceous bit. *** Now – 2022.

3) 2000 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators. Alcohol 13%.  This is a dark violet garnet color with an elegant nose.  There is power in the mouth which builds until the very finely textured flavors fill the mouth.  It also coats the mouth with structure.  Despite the strength this is an elegant wine with red fruit, minerals, and quite the aftertaste. **** Now – 2027.

4) 2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13%.  There is a eucalyptus start followed by a red fruit burst with acidity.  The flavor is interesting and different than the others.  This is a powerful wine with very, finely coating flavor.  With air flavors of blue fruit develop, warmth, and fresh grip.  The very fine structure is intense and there is a bit of a rough patch with heat right before the finish. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

5) 1996 Chateau Calon Segur, Saint-Estephe
Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is fine and mature with a eucalyptus component.  The wine is bright with focused flavors of red fruit that takes on a citric hint in the middle.  With good power, the vein of acidity will see this wine develop for some time.  A lovely wine. **** Now – 2027.

6) 1996 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. Alcohol 13%.  There is a tough of cream to the nose.  The tangy and ripe, powdery blue fruit builds grip as it leaves flavor on the gums.  Powerful structure.  With air the wine develops attractiveness as the components balance out. ***(*) 2020 – 2030.

7) 1996 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%.  The musty nose makes with to a mature, mouth filling wine.  The flavor is lighter, the structure is there, as is mineral and cedar box but no denying this is flawed.  Too bad.  Not Rated.

2000 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  This is a tense wine with a saline note that adds complexity to the red fruit.  The structure is perfectly integrated, the balanced impeccable.  With air a very fine perfumed finish makes way to an aftertaste of gently coating fat. **** 2022-2032.

A very good mature Rioja from 1970

There is one great source for traditional, old Rioja in America and that is Mannie Berk of The Rare Wine Co.  One of Mannie’s recommendations is the 1970 Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordon Cosecha Especial.  Bodegas Franco-Españolas dates back to 1901 when it was founded by Frederique Anglade.  The name reflects that fact that the operation was financed with both French and Spanish funds.

Frederique Anglade was a merchant who largely shipped Rioja in bulk back to France for blending. In 1890 he began to mature small amounts of wine for direct sale thus providing a foundation for the winery.  By 1905 he was sending 60,000 hectoliters of wine to Spain, Europe, and America as well as producing some 200,000 bottles a year.

According to Jean Read in Wines of the Rioja (1984) no vineyards were owned so both fruit and finished wine were purchased from all over the region.  Several different wines were made including this mid level Rioja Bordon which was regarded as “fuller bodied”.

At nearly half a century of age this wine still retains sweet, concentrated flavors of red fruit.  The 1970 vintage is an excellent one and it is clearly reflected in this wine.  The wine peaks after half an hour with gentle, ethereal flavors, the right amount of acidity, and a bit of grip for substance.  The estate was sold off in 1973 so this is one of the last wines released under the original ownership.

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1970 Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordon Cosecha Especial
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  There are aromas of sweaty leather, wood, and red fruit.  In the mouth are sweet, concentrated flavors of strawberries.  Light in body, the sweet red fruit returns in the middle before the dry finish.  The wine cleans up a bit with the right amount of acidity, a bit of grip, and a very gentle ethereal sweet flavor in the aftertaste.  With air it adds both meat and blood notes.  ***(*) Now.

Saint-Joseph for the cellar

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

There is no doubt that the 2014 Domaine Vincent Paris, les Cotes, Saint-Joseph  is young and in need of age. If you must try a bottle this winter then drink off a small glass, recork the bottle, then try it the next day.  Now the granite soil will come through, supporting the fruit.  More importantly, the acidity and texture, which are superb at this stage, will pull you back for another glass or two.  I recommend you stash away a few bottles.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Domaine Vincent Paris, les Cotes, Saint-Joseph – $25
Imported by Potomac Selections.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vineyards on granite soils north of Cornas.  The vines are 10 to 20 years old with fruit fermented in both barrel and tank then aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  One the second day there is an almost electric start of beautiful, textured citrus pith below citrus flavors mix into black fruit.  There is an underlying chalky element.  At this young stage, the wine keeps circling you back to the awesome texture.  ***(*) 2019 – 2027.

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For short-term aging: 2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

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.

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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.