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A disintegrating label yet solid 1966 Lafite Rothschild

A widow recently sold off the small remains of her wine cellar.  The wines were originally purchased from MacArthur Beverages a long time ago, then stored in the basement of her house. There was nearly a case of 1966 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac with labels varying from largely intact to disintegrating.  I picked bottles with the best fills, which coincidentally had the worst labels.  Last month, I opened a bottle with the lowest fill to gauge what I had purchased.

The 1966 vintage of Lafite was available in Washington, DC for several years.  In 1970, you could purchase 1966 Lafite for $9.50 a bottle.  By 1971, the price had crept up to $12 before skyrocketing to $20 in 1972.  You can understand how this massive increase in French wine prices, in part, led to more people buying Californian wine.

Under the capsule, the top of the cork was covered with mold which was working its way down the long cork.  While not the best preserved cork, at least half of it was still in business.  I decanted the wine into a flask then took a sniff of a freshly poured glass.  It smelled clean.

Edmund Penning-Rowsell writes that Lafite went through a bit of a bad spell between 1964 and 1974.  David Peppercorn reports that 323 tonneaux were produced that vintage which is a greater than in 1982.  I relay this information because I found this bottle just moderately good.  It did smell and taste of good condition despite the fill and label.  My impression seems to follow others on Cellar Tracker.  While the wine is now in a tertiary state with cigar box, earth, and meat, there is good weight and even a sense of fat.  I happily drank it with relishing thoughts of what is in the other bottles.

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1966 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
Shipped by Laurent Lescure.  Imported by Capitol City Liquors Co.  This is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.  Upper to top shoulder fill.  A garnet-mahogany color.  A slight herbaceous edge to the nose but also earth and meat.  The flavors are light yet the body is weighty and develops a round edge.  With air, flavors of tart red fruit take on cigar box by the middle and graphite in the end.  A pretty wine, completely smooth, which becomes meaty with luxurious, ethereal fat in the finish.  **(*) Now.

For the table: 2016 La Janasse, Cotes du Rhone

The 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Cotes du Rhone is a wine you can purchase by the case to drink over the next several years.  It has some youthfulness right now but there is enough density to the fruit that when coupled with quality acidity and structure, will see it evolve across several years.  I purchased this bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

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2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan, Syrah, and Cinsault that was aged 6 to 9 months in vat.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Youthful and clean with a bit of dense, black fruit.  Watering acidity and supportive structure will see this wine through the next several years.  It finishes with baking spices and a little cocoa.  A good value.  **(*) Now – 2024.

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Saline Syrah from Morocco

The 2014 Domaine des Ouled Thaleb, Syrocco, Syrah Zenata, Morocco is the result of a joint effort between Domaine des Ouled Thaleb and Alain Graillot, a Northern Rhone wine producer.  Syrah is the red grape of the Northern Rhone and it shows to good effect in this wine.  I find there is a distinct salinity throughout this blackberry flavored wine.  It is a fun wine to share with friends.  I purchased my bottle at MacArthur Beverages and ordered it off the list at St. Anselm DC.

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2014 Domaine des Ouled Thaleb, Syrocco, Syrah Zenata, Morocco – $25
Imported by Europvin.  This wine is 100% Syrah fermented in concrete vats then aged for 15 months in tank and large oak casks.  Alcohol 13%.  Salty with blackberries and though maturing, it clearly has staying power.  There is fine texture from the structure and supportive acidity.  The salinity is remarkable.  **(*) Now – 2024.

It Tastes of Stone: 2017 Mas Olivier, Parfum de Schistes

The soils of Faugeres mainly consist of schist and the 2017 Mas Olivier, Parfum de Schistes, Faugeres clearly reflects this fact.  It is a youthful styled wine with black fruit, stones, and lively acidity.  I imagine it might peak in the new year.  I picked up my bottle at MacArthur Beverages.

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2017 Mas Olivier, Parfum de Schistes, Faugeres – $15
Imported by Tap Wines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  Good perfume  on the nose.  In the mouth, clean black fruit mixes with finely textured extract.  As promised, minerals and stones act as a backbone for this wine enlivened by fresh acidity and finished with puckering tannins.  Youthful in nature, this should be drunk within a few years.  **(*) Now – 2022.

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Three Wild Wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat

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John recently brought in a selection of wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat.  I picked up three of the red wines which I have opened up over the past week.  These wines are made without any sulphur using grapes from Beaujolais and Jura. The 2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge is pure Muscat rouge which is the greatest outlier of the group being of cloudy color and grapefruit aroma.  It is clearly not for everyone but the flavors have a lovely earthy note and sense of ripeness.  While it does not fall apart into the Pilsner/popcorn spectrum, it is best drunk up on the first day.  The 2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge mixes Gamay with a slew of indigenous Jura varieties.  There is some brett which contributes earth and matches the potpourri flavors with dry tannins.  It is also lively in the mouth and largely stable.  It too will not be for everyone.  My strongest recommendation goes out to the 2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge.  This is the most stable of the three wines, deep in flavor with attractive animale qualities.  I find it compelling to drink.  This is a must-try for those with interest in the Jura.  You may find these wines on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.

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2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge – $24
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is pure Muscat rouge.  Alcohol 13%.  Cloudy with a pale, garnet-rose color.  Smells like a lambic beer with grapefruit and berry aromas.  Lively acidity first greets the tongue with a slight prickle followed by high-toned fruit and a mineral middle.  There is ethereal ripeness and a lovely, earthy note before the Big Red spiced finish.  Of moderate weight, there is an acidity sharp finish, and long aftertaste.  **(*) Now.

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2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge – $29
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of Gamay from Beaujolais with old Jura varieties such as Petit Béclan, Gros Béclan, Geusche, Argant, Peurion, Portugais Bleu, Isabelle, and Enfarine. Alcohol 13%.  A tickle on the tongue, some brett for earthy, and drying, astringent tannins.  With air potpourri flavors develop, surrounded by some fat, citric acidity, and grip in the end.  *** Now.

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2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge – $33
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of mostly Gamay from Morgon and Brouilly with Enfarine from Jura.  Alcohol 13%.  A cranberry red color.  Some earth and wood mix with dry, red fruit, and leather.  This remains the most stable of the wines, developing an animale note.  The lively flavors are somewhat tingling from acidity with red fruit leaning towards deeper, supportive black fruit flavors.  The middle brings dry, citric pithe tannins and an earthy note.  This is a fresh wine with good depth and chalky ripeness.  Compelling.  **** Now – 2022.

For the Cellar: 2017 Guion, Bourgueil

It was Bill who reintroduced me to the wines of Stephane Guion at his Loire tasting a year and a half back.  I am happy to report that the 2017 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil is serious wine at a budget price.  Right now, since the wine is young, I find it tastes best on the second night when the black fruit takes on creamy blue flavors and tastes of liquid stones.  There is also a touch of herbaceousness to remind you of the Loire.  You may find this wine at MacArthur Beverages.

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2017 Domaine Guion, Cuvee Domaine, Bourgueil – $15
Imported by Percy Selections.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 15-40 year old vines on clay and limestone soils.  Alcohol 12%.  Upon opening, there is acidity driven, tart black fruit and herbaceous flavor.  Fine, grippy tannins are left on the gums with impressions of a little ethereal fat.  With air, the wine improves markedly, becoming rounder with good presence.  The black and herbaceousness does not leave but blue, creamy fruit and granite stones add to the mixture.  It is even a little juicy.  **(*) 2020-2025.

A Pair of Wines from Arizona

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During our recent trip to Arizona, I stopped by Vino Loco in Flagstaff to pick up a few bottles of wine.  Both of the wines I selected are Rhone blends made from vines located at 4,300 feet in the Willcox AVA.  I found the wines enjoyable but my preference lies with the 2017 Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, Willcox.  It comes across as a lighter wine with stone notes.  The 2017 Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra, Willcox reveals more intensity and ripe fruit flavors.  If you find yourself in Flagstaff, grab them both for a comparison  You will find other interesting selections at Vino Loco including Dirty + Rowdy.

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2017 Chateau Tumbleweed, Dr. Ron Bot, Willcox –
This wine is a blend of 33% Syrah, 34% Mourvedre, and 33% Grenache which was aged for a year in used French oak.  Alcohol 14.2%. A light to medium cherry color.  Cool and fresh in the mouth with not quite firm fruit.  The flavors turn blacker towards the finish with black tea notes and stones.  Light and clean with a touch of heat in the end.  An enjoyable combination of red and black fruit with a tart edge.   **(*) Now – 2021.

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2017 Caduceus Cellars, Merkin Vineyards, Chupacabra, Willcox –
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre aged for 11 months in new and used French oak.    Alcohol 13.5%.  Hints of ripeness at first then cool, focused black fruit.  It is firm with a vein of acidity.  An interesting flavor with more intensity than balance.  ** Now – 2022.