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A very tasty wine from Umbria

Simply put if you need a red wine for daily drinking or a large party then look no further than the 2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso.  This is a Sangiovese based Bordeaux blend with a bit of bitterness and cocoa but it is very tasty.  It delivers a lot of satisfaction at only $13 per bottle.  I must thank Tim for pointing it out to me.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  MonVi, Colli Perugini Rosso – $13
Imported by Vini Inc.  This wine is a blend of 55% Sangiovese, 22% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc which is fermented in stainless steel then aged in a mixture of stainless steel and oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is really tasty.  For those in search of more information this a  moderately ripe wine with ripe texture, a black bitter element, and cocoa aftertaste.  It has watery acidity and a billowy structure which should support development for a year.  But why wait?  **(*) Now – 2019.

2015 Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio,  Villa, Umbria – $10
Imported by Vini Inc.  This is 100% Sangiovese made from the youngest vines and raised entirely in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14 %.  This is a firm wine with slightly bitter black fruit, acidity, and fine texture.  *(*) Now.

New releases from Domaine des Pasquiers of the Rhone

Phil has imported the wines of Domaine des Pasquiers for three years now.  The trio of 2015 Rhone wines in this post represents the latest offering.  2015 is quite a vintage and all of these wines show significant flavor and stuffing.  Of the trio, my favorite is the 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu.  It is deep, flavorful, and has grip that I like.  As with any proper Cotes du Rhone it will drink well over the next several years.  The 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet is definitely young and in need of age.  I could see it outstep the Plan de Dieu once it is mature but for a bit of raisin flavor.  Maybe everything will come together in a couple years, in that case this could be a bit of a sleeper.  The 2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Gigondas follows is the house style of modern Gigondas.  While I prefer more funk this is certainly impressive with fat notes and a very long aftertaste to boot. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a very dark, grapey red color.  The familiar, deep flavor leans more towards red fruit than black and is supported by strong, very fine tannic structure and watering acidity.  With air herbs and a bit of inkinesss come out.  It is certainly very flavorful with a touch of compelling grip, lots of flavor, and a dense almost chocolate finish.  *** Now – 2022.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine plays it close with black fruited, powdery ripe flavor.  There is extract and just the right amount of acidity.  The very fine drying structure and wood notes indicate it needs a year or two for integration.  The one distraction are fleeting flavors of raisins.  **(*) 2018-2024.

2015 Domaine des Pasquiers, Gigondas – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This blue fruited wine is strong in flavor and strong in structure.  It is a dense, sexy with a modern personality of fat, minerals, and structure.  The aftertaste is persistent.  *** Now – 2027.

Two blends from Bulgaria and Armenia

Both of the wines featured in this post are blends featuring an unusual variety.  You will find a small proportion of Regent, a cool-weather grape created in the 1960s, in the 2014 Saedinenie Winery, F2F, Bulgaria.  I could not tell you what Regent smells or tastes like.  The wine, though, is a gentle, blue-fruited, low-acidity wine that should please many.  The 2014 Tierras de Armenia, Karas, Armenia features a splash of the native grape Khndoghni.  I wish there was more, so I could taste it, but this is a crazy international blend which also includes Syrah, Tannat, and Montepulciano amongst other varieties.  It is made by Gabriel Rogel, who comes from Argentina, with consulting help from Michel Rolland.  This is a wine worth checking out.  It is flavorful, lively, and has texture.  It might even develop over the short-term to better integrate the cocoa notes.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 Saedinenie Winery, F2F, Bulgaria – $15
Imported by VP Brands International.  This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 10% Regent.  Alcohol 13%.  There are rounded blue fruit flavors, gentle supporting structure, and just enough acidity to move things along.  There are no edges to the blue fruit.  There is a bit of interest in the finish where black fruit and minerals come out.  *(*) Now – 2018.

2014 Tierras de Armenia, Karas, Armenia – $13
Imported by G+B Imports.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 18% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Montepulciano, and 3% Khndoghni.  Alcohol 14%.  Chocolates and blue fruit precede the ripe textured middle.  This is a good, flavorful wine with lively acidity, some weight, and cocoa.  **(*) Now – 2019.

A pair from Rosso di Montalcino

As happy as I am to continue drinking the 2014 Fornacina, Rosso di Montalcino I thought it best to get Tim’s advice on other wines from the region.  He first recommended the affordable 2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino.  This is a firm wine of black fruit that mixes in pleasing herbal notes.  It could stand a few years of development to open up perhaps becoming elegant and focused.  The 2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino is a step up in quality and price.  The deep nose will excite you and the lively flavors will only add to the positive impression.  I highly recommend you drink a few bottles over the next several years.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2013 Tenuta Vitanza, Le Paturnie, Rosso di Montalcino – $17
Imported by Tenth Harvest. This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in stainless steel then raised for six months in Slavonian oak.   Alcohol 13.5%.  This is a firm wine that remains focused with air.  There is black fruit with dry herbal notes, polished wood, and an ethereal ripe finish.  It remains tight with watering acidity.  **(*) 2019-2024.

2012 Le Ragnaie, Rosso di Montalcino – $26
Imported by Vine Street Imports.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese fermented in concrete then aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose is deep and a touch pungent.  The red and blue fruit quickly takes on polished wood notes before the brighter, red middle.  There is fine acidity and grip in the end.  With air this becomes a lively wine with controlled ripe fruit, a dry and bright middle, stone accented finish, and wood tannin aftertaste.  Delicate floral notes even come out.  This has strong development potential over the short-term.  *** Now – 2026.

2015 Cabernet Franc from Baudry and Germain

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny and 2015 Bernard Baudry, Les Granges, Chinon are fun to taste together for they are different expressions of the Cabernet Franc grape.  Since I last tasted the Germain in the fall, it has opened up in flavor as well as shed weight and roundness.  This is a light, ethereal wine that manages to move in flavor from red to black fruit.  The wine reminded Jenn of a rose which I think is the best, single word description of this wine.  The Baudry offers a bit more strength as well as lively zip from acidity and attractive texture as if extract were floating about.  It is a bit dry and structured making me think it will drink better in the fall.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Thierry Germain, Saumur Champigny – $20
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 25+ year old vines, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for seven months in tank.  Alcohol 13%.  There are herbaceous aromas supported by bright red fruit.  In the mouth this wine is lighter in body with cranberry and strawberry flavors, and watering acidity.  The light body conveys delicate flavors, which are ethereal and gently ripe, as they move from red to black fruit flavors.   It picks up floral notes with air.  **(*) Now – 2019.

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2015 Bernard Baudry, Les Granges, Chinon – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from young vines that is both fermented and aged for 7-10 months in cement tanks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose reveals finely textured herbaceous aromas.  The dry, linear entry of black fruit has strength picking up good zip in the mid palate.  With air this becomes an inky and herbaceous wine with a cool ripeness and texture from extract in the end.  **(*) Now – 2019.

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Cotes du Rhone for daily drinking

February 24, 2017 1 comment

My wife and I drink wine on a daily basis.  If I can save money on our daily drinkers then I can spend more money on older vintages.  In my area an $11 bottle represents the lowest price achievable for a wine of quality.  The 2015 Camille Cayran, Le Pas de la Beaume, Cotes du Rhone is one of those wines.  It requires a few hours of air after which it is an exuberant, black fruited wine.  You should buy it by the case then drink it over the next few years. The 2015 Domaine de Belle Feuille, Cotes du Rhone is another solid wine at this budget price point.  It is quite focused perhaps in need of six months of age.  My recommendation is to buy the Cayran.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2015 Camille Cayran, Le Pas de la Beaume, Cotes du Rhone – $11
Imported by G&B Importers.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  Tasted over two days this eventually reveals exuberant flavors of black grapey fruit which are subtly ripe.  With good grip at the start, the acidity keeps the wine crisp matching the level of ripe structure which provides texture to the flavor in the finish.  It wraps up with black/purple fruit, dry stones, and a racy suggestion.  **(*) Now – 2021.

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2015 Domaine de Belle Feuille, Cotes du Rhone – $11
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% Carignan.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This wine remains very focused with a black fruited start that moves to a core of ripe black, powdery flavors then a slightly bitter and mineral finish.  ** Now – 2019.

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Californian Pinot Noir and Barbera from 1977

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

In the late 1970s, during the height of the American wine boom, Sebastiani was the volume leader in the wine production for Sonoma. Sebastiani was founded in 1904 by Samuele Sebastiani but it was his son August Sebastiani who saw the winery through Prohibition and the rise of the California wine industry.  Much of the production was jug wine but premium wine was produced as well.  The general emphasis on varietals meant that the Barbera and Zinfandel offerings were regarded with popularity which is precisely why I opened the 1977 Sebastiani, Barbera, Proprietor’s Reserve, Northern California.  This was among the last vintages produced by August Sebastiani who passed away in 1980.  August Sebastiani did not fully adopt stainless steel nor French oak rather it was his two sons who began the transition to modernity in the 1970s.  You can imagine August Sebastiani’s hand in making this wine for there is nothing modern tasting about this bottle of Barbera.  It smells and tastes of sweaty leather, though is sweeter in the mouth.  It reminds me of the 1960s Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignons.  It is quite forward until it fades so drink rapidly once you pop the cork.

Buena Vista Winery is another historic winery in Sonoma but it predates Sebastiani by some 50 years.  When General Charles de Gaulle visited America in 1960 he was served both French and American wines with his meals. For his meal of roast fillet of beef with truffle sauce he was served Buena Vista, Pinot Noir.  This is quite amazing given that in the 1960s and 1970s Pinot Noir was considered “difficult and temperamental” to grow in California. Nathan Chroman, writing for the Los Angeles Times, concluded that in California this varietal  produced less “Pinot characteristics”.  Pinot Noir ripens early and given the widespread warmth and sun of California very few areas were regarded as suitably cool enough for proper ripening.  After tasting through several dozen Californian Pinot Noirs, he concluded that while the 1968 Buena Vista was a “very good glass of wine” it had less of the Pinot Noir characteristic he looked for.

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I pop and pour most old wine which I have not drunk before.  In retrospect I should have decanted the 1977 Buena Vista Winery, Haraszthy Cellars, Pinot Noir, Cask 22, Sonoma.  This is a robust wine that with air shows more blue fruit and substantial structure evocative of the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon.  This may not be surprising for John Winthrop Haeger writes in North American Pinot Noir (2004) that between 1969 and 1971 Buena Vista planted 84 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon near Pinot Noir.  I followed the wine over several hours and in the process, kicked up a fair amount of sediment which contributed to a loss of focus.  I have the suspicion that my mishandling did not allow this wine to show its best.  I will be sure to write about the next decanted bottle.

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1977 Sebastiani, Barbera, Proprietor’s Reserve, Northern California
Alcohol 12.6%.   There is an aromatic nose of sweaty leather.  In the mouth is a big wine of sweet flavors, leather, and supportive oak.  It is evocative of other Sebastiani wines from the 1960s and 1970s except that it faded within one hour.  ** Now.

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1977 Buena Vista Winery, Haraszthy Cellars, Pinot Noir, Cask 22, Sonoma
Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a medium, cranberry garnet.  The nose is sweet and sweaty, evocative of sweet, old wood.  In the mouth is a soft start before menthol fresh flavors supported by a fine vein of acidity. The old-school flavor becomes bluer with air, taking on body with a good, ethereal finish.  It is a fairly substantial wine which still has supportive, dry structure that coats the gums.  It tastes like a blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  **(*) Now – 2022.

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