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Chinon from Alliet, Baudry, and Joguet

November 4, 2019 Leave a comment

I followed all three of these Chinon over the course of two days.  For immediate drinking, I highly recommend you try the 2017 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Le Domaine, Chinon.  I love an earthy hint in my wine and the Baudry provides just that both in aroma and flavor.  It is a compelling example of Chinon.  The 2018 Philippe Alliet, Chinon is young right now as it remains firm in the glass. There is good material in there so lay it down for a year.  I found the 2017 Charles Joguet, Cuvee Terroir, Chinon tart yet full of stone notes.  It is, perhaps, an early drinking wine but with the price similarity I’d grab the Alliet and Baudry.

2018 Philippe Alliet, Chinon – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
A Thomas Calder Selection imported by Potomac Selections.  Alcohol 13%.  A dark, grapey purple.  Not quite as tart as the Joguet, there is a fine vein of dark red fruit, juicy acidity, and hints of pastilles.  It is mineral in the end with a bit of lift in the aftertaste.  With air, the fruit remains clean flavored but it picks up some salt before the firm finish.  *** 2021-2026.

2017 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Le Domaine, Chinon – $24 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 30-35 year old vines, fermented in cement vats then aged 15 months in concrete and wood vats.  Aromas of bright fruit with earth then scented black pepper and herbs.  Similar flavors in the mouth with juicy acidity.  The earth mixes well with the black fruit.  There is a good cut of acidity throughout with minerals and earth in the finish.  Young yet very good.  ***(*) Now – 2024.

2017 Charles Joguet, Cuvee Terroir, Chinon – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13%.  Tart red and black fruit with tart acidity before it develops minerals and stone notes.  There is some ethereal weight. ** Now – 2022.

A tasting with Lou: Sandlands, Sanguis, Soumade and more

November 3, 2019 Leave a comment

Lou and I gathered quite a while ago to drink some randomly selected wines.  A new wine for me is the NV Phillippe Tessier, Phil’en Bulle.  It is a little sweet for me so perhaps better with dessert.  Of particular note is the white wine 2017 Linne Calodo, Contrarian, Paso Robles.  I should also note the very young 2016 Domaine la Soumade, Cuvee Prestige, Rasteau which, with several years of age, will become a very good wine.  2017 Sandlands Vineyards, Red Table Wine, Contra Costa County is a young wine for drinking now.  A solid bottle of 1989 Raymond Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, Napa Valley delivered surprise and pleasure.  A pair of Sanguis offered a fun comparison even if they should have been drunk up a few years ago. The 2011 Sanguis, 11-A, John Bastiano is very clean, chalky, and full of verve.  For a brief bit, I preferred the luxury of the 2011 Sanguis, 11-B, Bienacido but it sadly cracked up after a short period.

NV Phillippe Tessier, Phil’en Bulle, Loire
A Zev Rovine Selection imported by Fruit of the Vine. Alcohol 12.5%. A slightly hazy, light straw yellow. Very fine and strong bubbles carry the ripe, sweetish start. Some yeast the short finish.  **(*) Now.

2017 Linne Calodo, Contrarian, Paso Robles
This is a blend of 50% Grenache Blanc, 30% Picpoul Blanc, and 20% Viognier. Alcohol 13.7%. Refreshing with good acidity white nuts and expansive flavor. A core of tropical fruit remains but the gum, coating texture adds presence. Notes of pastilles in the finish. **** Now – 2022.

2011 Sanguis, 11-A, John Bastiano, Santa Rita  Hills
Alcohol 14%. A very light color with a green tinge. A little toast on the nose eventually blows off. Tart with some berry toast. Clean with chalk and yellow fruit. Plenty of verve. ** Now.

2011 Sanguis, 11-B, Bien Nacido, Santa Maria Valley
Alcohol 14.8%. A touch more fruit and weight, oily in the middle with a steely finish. Racy with good balance, it has some toast flavors. With air it begins to crack up revealing acidity and heat.  *** at best but Past Prime.

2017 Sandlands Vineyards, Red Table Wine, Contra Costa County
A blend of Carignan and Mataro. Alcohol 12.9% Grapey with cranberry flavor and chalky tannins. Tart with crunchy acidity this sports an interesting mineral, fruit blend.  *** Now – 2022.

2016 Domaine la Soumade, Cuvee Prestige, Rasteau
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14.5%. A grapey, young color and tight, grapey nose. Tight in the mouth but there is a lovely vein of fruit through the linear structure. Beautiful fat from the ripeness, it is powerful, building flavor. ***(*) 2024-2034.

1989 Raymond Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve, Napa Valley
Mature with Eucalyptus. Some firmness in the mouth but the Cab flavor comes out. In fresh shape this is a tasty wine with focused, ripe fruit, some dry wood notes, and structure in the end. *** Now.

Seriously good: 2017 J.L. Chave Selection, Mon Coeur, Cotes du Rhone

November 2, 2019 Leave a comment

Cotes du Rhone prices seem to be ticking up this fall (independent of new tariffs).  If I must spend more on a daily-drinker then I want something serious.  The 2017 J.L. Chave Selection, Mon Coeur, Cotes du Rhone fits the bill.  Ultimately recommend by a fellow wine friend, this is ideal Cotes du Rhone: it drinks well right now and will continue to do so for years to come as it gains bottle age complexity.  I have already gone through several bottles myself!  Though not in one sitting.

2017 J.L. Chave Selection, Mon Coeur, Cotes du Rhone – $18 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Erin Cannon Selections.  This wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache sourced from vines both in and around Chateauneuf du Pape.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Earth notes with some sweet wood box.  A structured wine with wood tannins which frame fresh and juicy fruit flavors.  Firm flavors of black cherry start then a red fruit component gets lift from the the tart acidity.  Though attractive now, with easy-going generous fruit, these flavors are balanced by structural components which will support further age.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

A Crozes with Stuffing

November 2, 2019 Leave a comment

The 2017 Emmanuel Darnaud, Mise en Bouche, Crozes-Hermitage is Crozes with a substantial amount of fruit.  It provides plenty of pleasure right now yet it also has enough supporting components to develop for a few years.  In fact, I recommend you give it at least half a year for further integration.  It is the sort of wine which makes me curious to try more Crozes-Hermitage.

2017 Emmanuel Darnaud, Mise en Bouche, Crozes-Hermitage – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  This wine is 100% Syrah fermented in concrete vats then aged in 1/3 new oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  Very grapey with black fruit, baking spices and watering acidity.  A good show from the start with medium-dense flavors, some toast, and fat in the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2024.

A trio of interesting wines featuring Macabeau, Lledoner Pellut, and Carignan

November 1, 2019 Leave a comment

The three wines featured in this post are all imported by Cason Love of the new firm Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  I have never tried a wine from any of these producers which is not surprising given Love’s focus on small production vignerons from the south of France.  The No. 18 La Soula, Trigone white hails from Fenouilledes in French Catalonia.  It is an interesting blend of both grapes and vintages.  Once open, it drinks well for several days consistently delivering an interesting progression of mouthfeel from start to finish.  It tastes good too!  Also from Fenouilledes is the 2018 Domaine Benastra, La Petite Soeur, Cotes Catalanes.  It is a brighter cherry and strawberry flavored wine, which will develop through the winter.  From Hautes-Corbieres, the 2018 Domaine des Deux Cles, Cles en Main sports darker fruit and youthful ruggedness yet is bright in acidity.  With a good nose and some herbs and fat in the finish, I recommend tracking the progression of this wine.  Overall, good wines at strong prices for a new portfolio.

No. 18 La Soula, Trigone white – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 45% Macabeau, 31% Vermentino, 22% Sauvignon blanc, and 2% Grenache blanc, Marsanne, and Roussane from vines on soils of decomposed granite.  It is blended from the 2018 and 2017 vintages.  It was raised in a mixed of tank, oak tanks, and oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. A very light, straw color.  Fresh in the mouth with good acidity lifting the bright, white fruit.  As the wine progresses it develops into a weighty, creamy middle followed by a lemon flavored finish with chalk and stones.  With air it takes on a touch of earth and good body.  Articulate in flavor this is my favorite of the trio.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2018 Domaine Benastra, La Petite Soeur, Cotes Catalanes – $15 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 40% Lledoner Pellut, 20% Carignan, 20% Syrah, and 20% Grenache Noir fermented in stainless-steel and concrete tanks then aged in concrete tank and oak casks.  .  Alcohol 13%. A little bit of cherry and strawberry at the start then tart, citric acidity mixes to become more acidity driven and dry in flavor by the finish.  It develops a black cherry flavor and some baking spices.  The pithey structure on the gums should help see this open up with a bit of age.  *** Now – 2023.

2018 Domaine des Deux Cles, Cles en Main – $18 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Carignan and Syrah fermented and aged in a mixture of concrete and stainless-steel tanks. Alcohol 14%.  Mulberry on the nose and dark red fruit in the mouth.  Medium bodied with bright acidity and tart flavor it brings on attractive herbs and a touch of fat by the finish and baking spices in the aftertaste.  It is a little rugged in its youth, lending attraction, and should develop over the winter.  *** Now – 2023.

Articulate Garnacha from Spain

October 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Telmo Rodriguez is perhaps commonly known for his work at his family winery Remelluri in Rioja.  However, he also spends time exploring Spain for historic vineyards which he restores then produces exceptional wine from.  In 1999, he discovered old Garnacha bush vines on the slopes near the village of Cebreros located in Sierra de Gredos west of Madrid.  Incredibly, the vines were abandoned.  Some of the vines are located on slate whereas others are on granite.  The entry-level 2016 Pegaso, Zeta, Sierra de Gredos, Castilla y Leon stems from vines located on both types of soil.

I found the wine fresh to begin with and quite drinkable.  After an hour the various components come into play.  The fresh fruit and acidity match the textured structure.  The understated complexity speaks of future development.  I strongly recommend you give it a try, for it is unusually expressive at such a price.

2016 Pegaso, Zeta, Sierra de Gredos, Castilla y Leon – $19 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by de Maison Selections.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 60% year old vines located on soils of red slate and granite at ~900m.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in French barrels then aged in a mixture of foudre, stainless steel tanks, and barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a finely textured wine which is bright with stone-infused red fruit.  With air it builds to become mid-weight yet remains fresh with understated complexity.  It is black flavored towards the finish with some grip and pebbly textured structure on the gums.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

Favorites from Vacqueyras

While I enjoy the rugged nature of Gigondas, it is to Vacqueyras that I look for fruity delight.  For this post we tasted through several current offerings from the power packed duo of vintages: 2015 and 2016.  Priced between $22 and $30 these wines offer excellent quality and personality.  In general, I prefer the 2016 vintage, the wines have denser fruit and excellent acidity, which makes them more exciting to drink.  They also have the stuffing for age.  The 2015 have deep flavor but are less fruity with a dry and structured nature.  I suspect that they will last a long time but the peak drinking window will be shorter.

The 2016 Domaine les Amouriers, Signature, Vacqueyras is a modern styled, best buy.  It needs a few hours of air before the satisfying, deep note of flavor comes out.  You really must buy both the 2016 Domaine la Bouissiere, Vacqueyras and 2016 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Floureto, Vacqueyras for drinking now and laying down.  Both of these are savory wines with the Bouissiere offering up kirsch and the Sang des Cailloux mixed berries.  The Bouissiere is a bit more exciting to drink right now but the Sang des Cailloux will unfurl with age.  The 2015 Domaine la Bouissiere, Vacqueyras and 2015 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras are good too.  They are certainly more structured and I hope in an awkward state.  The Sang des Cailloux has an incredible, deep earthy flavor that I have come to love from this domaine.  Yet the wine holds back, preventing ultimate pleasure.

These wines can age well too.  This year alone I have probably drunk five bottles of 2000 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras.  It is perfectly mature, balanced, yet in no decline.  It is a fine example of what aged Vacqueyras brings.  All of these wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Domaine les Amouriers, Signature, Vacqueyras – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by DS Trading Co. Inc. This wine is a blend of 56% Grenache, 34% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre, and 3% Cinsault. Alcohol 15%.  Clean and modern with somewhat robust fruit flavors.  With air an attractive, low-lying deep bass note of flavor is revealed.  Blue fruited at first, it is largely offers black fruit through the finish.  No earth notes to speak of but some herbs instead.  *** Now – 2030.

2016 Domaine la Bouissiere, Vacqueyras – $27 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Dionysos. This wine is a blend of 51% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 16% Mourvedre which is fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks.  It is then aged in a mixture of cement tank, barrels, and demi-muids.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Dark and grapey in color.  Fresh, lifted grapey aromas.  In the mouth this is a savory, weighty wine with a dense vein of grapey fruit.  With air it offers pure kirsch flavor and complicated perfume.  With mid-weight fruit, very fine and slightly spicy structure, this wine will develop over the short term then last for some time further.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

2015 Domaine la Bouissiere, Vacqueyras – $30
Imported by Dionysos. This wine is a blend of 42% Grenache, 50% Syrah, and 8% Mourvedre which is fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks.  It is then aged in a mixture of cement tank, barrels, and demi-muids.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Dark aromas of damp soil.  Drier in flavor, matched by herbs, with tense acidity.  The flavors are focused through the long, spicy finish where tangy pithe from the fine structure comes out.  *** Now – 2030.

2016 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Floureto, Vacqueyras – $30 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre & Cinsault which is fermented in cement tank then aged in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Savory and saline flavors of mixed berries.  The flavors are rounded, somewhat dense and creamy in the middle with a bit of juicy acidity in the end.  Cherries mix with a little wood note before fine structure coats the gums.  ***(*) Now – 2035.

2015 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras – $32 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre & Cinsault which is fermented in cement tank then aged in foudre.  Alcohol 14%.  Familial nose of berries with a touch of earth.  Dry flavors follow with cherry carried by watering acidity into a finish of strawberry candy and kirsch.  It is of good, deep flavor yet restrained in the palate preventing that next level of enjoyment.  Tangy in the finish it sports a fine structure that might outlast the fruit.  *** Now – 2024.

2000 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras –
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre & Cinsault which is fermented in cement tank then aged in foudre.  Alcohol 13.8%. Balanced, mouth filling flavors of blue fruit, minerals, and garrigue which are matched by supportive acidity.  Some earthy depth too.  It is fully mature with resolved structure but nowhere near decline.  **** Now but will last.

Good Wines Abound in Sicily

October 1, 2019 2 comments

What is remarkable about these four red wines from Sicily is that the even the two least expensive bottles, made primarily from Nerello Mascalese, are great!  The 2017 Calabretta, Gaio Gaio, Etna is my favorite for drinking right now.  Calabretta consistently releases top-notch wines at low prices and this particular bottling is beautiful.  The 2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso is also approachable now.  It offers more stuffing up front but then a chalky, floral finish speaks of the island.  The 2017 Occhipinti, SP68, Sicily is a different blend being Frappato with Nero d’Avola. It is not offering as much as I would like so try it again in a year.  The 2014 Calabretta, Pinot Nero, Etna needs time too but it has the goods!  I recently bought these wines at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Calabretta, Gaio Gaio, Etna – $17
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from old vines.  It was aged in large, old oak containers.  Alcohol 14%. Aromatic berries on the nose. Crunchy, rosemary infused strawberry flavors. This is a beautiful wine with good presence and length in the finish. It has the structure and acidity for some years. *** Now – 2024.

2014 Calabretta, Pinot Nero, Etna – $25
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. Fairly robust at first, the intensity is surprising but then this is clearly an outstanding vintage. There is a core of fruit and puckering acidity which will see this through development. It remains tight so a good candidate for the cellar. *** 2022-2027.

2017 Occhipinti, SP68, Sicily – $26
Imported by Louis/Dressner. A blend of mostly Frappato with Nero d’Avola which was fermented then aged in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 12.5%. Scented red fruit on the nose. Bright in the mouth, a little earth, certainly tart with modest structure. Lively but the tart, ripe structure needs to resolve.  **(*) 2020-2025.

2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso – $19
Imported by deGrazia Imports.  This wine is a blend of 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio Alcohol 14%.  Flavorful, almost robust, certainly impressive for the stuffing. Firm red candy then a mineral, chalky vein before the lifted, floral finish. *** Now – 2024.

An Honest Pair from Domaine de Fontsainte

September 29, 2019 Leave a comment

This pair of recent offerings from Domaine de Fontsainte exhibit distinct personalities at low prices. That is no easy feat.  The 2016 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserva la Demoiselle, Corbieres  is mostly Carignan sourced from 100+ year old vines.  It is a wine to drink now and though generous in flavor, it has supportive acidity, and a good dose of provencal herbs.  The 2018 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres is crisp with an interesting blend of brown sugar and mineral, black fruit.  I like the flavor and the acidity profile.  It should be even better this winter.  If you can only purchase on bottle then I would just grab the one which sounds more like your style.  I bought these two bottles at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserva la Demoiselle, Corbieres – $17 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, and 10% Mourvedre.  The Carignan vines were planted in 1904 and the fruit alone undergoes carbonic maceration. The wine is then aged in a mixture of cement tank and French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  Effusive and approachable from the very first glass.  It is blue fruited at first then turns towards tart raspberry and blackberry in flavor.  It is a tangy wine with some supportive structure but is largely a wine that is ready to drink.  It is dense in the middle with lemon/citric acidity, and solid finish. It evokes the south with its provencal herbs.  *** Now – 2020.

2018 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres – $15 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, and 10% Syrah aged in French oak barrels.  Again, the Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 14%.  There is a core of brown-sugared, ripe, black fruit which leans towards a mineral, blacker fruited finish.  There is good freshness from the watering acidity.  It takes on hints of cream and stone.  Though a crisp wine it should improve over the short-term.  **(*) Now – 2023.

Must-Try Gigondas from Domaine Palon

September 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Domaine Palon is a small estate with vineyards in Gigondas and Vacqueyras.  The family has produced wine since the 1930s but only began to bottle under their own label in 2003.  The two bottles featured in this post are my first experience with their Gigondas.  I will admit to being surprised when I took my first sip of the 2015 Domaine Palon, Gigondas.  Gigondas can be a bit of a beast when young, yet the 2015 vintage is drinking very well with the cool, rugged nature of the appellation.  It is deep in flavor and already complex with earth and stones.  The 2015 Vacqueyras is very good too so perhaps this should not be surprising.  The 2018 Domaine Palon, Gigondas is a different wine.  It revels in clean, fresh fruit with texture on the palate and crunchy acidity.  It requires several hours to open up.  The elevage appears to have changed so I suspect this will be a different sort of wine in three years as compared to the 2015.  Grab the one which is more appealing to your palate! These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Palon, Gigondas – $27
Imported by Misa Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Aromas of spiced cherries and Kirsch.  In the mouth it immediately strikes a deep note with earthy blue minerals and very good maturing flavors from the start.  It is slightly spicy from the fine structure but it develops, showing Kirsch, spices, and cool fruit in the stone finish.  Dense yet beginning to mature, this is a wine to drink over the next decade.  **** Now – 2029.

2018 Domaine Palon, Gigondas – $25 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre of which 1/3 was aged for 6 months in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The grapey, concentrated fruit benefits from a few hours of air.  The wine reveals ripe textured tannins, creamy blue fruit, weighty flavor and deep black fruit.  There is a pebbly finish with crunchy acidity.  The wine is all in balance with a cool, fresh tilt.  Flavors of red and blue fruit oscillate with minerals into the finish.  ***(*) 2021-2031.