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A generous 17 year old Cotes du Rhone Villages

I was down to my last bottle of 2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee du Cros, Cotes du Rhone Villages so when I saw it available on WineBid I grabbed a few bottles.  This is a dark, flavorful wine drinking at its peak which means it is very satisfying.  I love how Rhone wines can be pleasurable both in youth and maturity!

2000 Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Cuvee du Cros, Cotes du Rhone Villages –
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This is 100% Syrah aged in demi-muids. Alcohol 14.7%.  This is a generous wine with minerally black and red fruit accented by garrigue.  It still has power in reserve at this stage.  The fruit is plentiful and deep with the structure only noticeable towards the end.  Only bits of dry wood flavor peak through so the wine presents itself as a harmonious mouthful.  **** Now – 2019.

Old-school 1979 De Forville Barbaresco

I opened the 1979 De Forville, Barbaresco on a whim when I found out a dinner guest at our house is another wine lover.  I picked up this bottle from Chambers Street Wine a year or two ago on the recommendation of Jamie.  De Forville is a 19th century estate which, according to the Wasserman’s, produced this wine using the traditional methods of long skin contact and long cask aging.  The 1979 vintage was uneven but I suspect the traditional winemaking and careful storage ensured that it arrived at my table in fine shape.  This bottle fleshed out then peaked after 15 to 30 minutes.  It is more complex in the mouth and when opened up, reveals mouth filling old-school flavors.  I happily savored the last glass while I read a mystery book.

1979 De Forville, Barbaresco
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The cranberry with mixed red fruit nose reveals that the wine is very much alive.  In the mouth the flavors of leather and red fruit soon flesh out a bit.  This is an old-school wine with plenty of grip and acidity.  It becomes more complex in the mouth adding black fruit, wood notes, and an inky bit.  It wraps up with ethereal ripeness in the aftertaste.  **** Now but will last.

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.

For drinking now, the 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage

February 19, 2017 Leave a comment

The 1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage is at a state where it drinks perfectly.  There are mature wine flavors, spices, and wood box delivered with a seductive round mouth feel.  The structure is fully resolved with enough acidity to leave a fresh impression.  In short, there is no reason to hold onto this Late Bottled Vintage any longer.  You may pull the cork and start drinking to satisfaction but if you give it a bit of air, it will improve a notch.

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1974 Warre’s, Late Bottled Vintage Port
Imported by Robert Hass Selections.  Alcohol 20%.  There is an ample volume of round, berry fruit with quite a lot of body present from the very beginning.  It is in a fully integrated state with vintage wine flavor, christmas spices, wood box, and some ripe brown sugar flavor.  Perhaps there is a softness to the round quality but the wine is still very fresh.  With air the sweet cream and Christmas spice is carried with a glycerin mouthfeel.  The rounded structure is fully resolved.  **** Now but will last.

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A pair of polar-opposite wines

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

A case of perfectly stored 1986 Chateau Bel Air, Cotes de Castillon showed up at MacArthur Beverages last week.  You can tell because the fills are all in the neck, the corks are age-defying, and the color of the wine is deep.  The wine itself is simple with flavors of hard cherry and eventually polished wood.  And that’s about it!

The wines of Les Champ Libres are produced by René-Jean Dard and Hervé Souhaut.  Both of these men produced northern Rhone wines, the latter of which have appeared on this blog.  The 2015 Les Champs Libres, Lard, des Choix is a wine of great energy.  Both the nose and palate offer deep, grapey, young fruit that is quite remarkable.  I kept expecting some Pilsner/yeast aspect to break out but it did not.  Instead, this is a personality rich wine that any lover of the Northern Rhone must try.  These wines are (or were!) available at MacArthur Beverages.

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1986 Chateau Bel Air, Cotes de Castillon – $10
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose remains subtle.  In the mouth the flavor of hard cherry remains firm.  The structural components are still around and the watering acidity reminds you that this wine is very much alive.  It needs some air before gaining a touch more interest from a polished wood note. *(*) Now but well-stored bottles will last.

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2015 Les Champs Libres, Lard, des Choix – $22
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 13%.  The aromatic nose offers up grapey aromas and deep young fruit.  In the mouth are lively, deep flavors of floral, purple fruit.  The initial acidity on the tongue tip leads to a textured wine that leaves an ethereal, perfumed coating of fat-infused flavor.  **** Now – 2018.

A Californian quartet

February 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A blind tasting of 2003 Northern Rhone wines

January 23, 2017 1 comment

It is a treat to blindly taste through eight wines of quality which I was recently able to do at Andy’s house.  One year ago Andy managed to stump us with a horizontal of 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape.  This year he served up 2003 Northern Rhone.  There was certainly confusion at first, particularly after the first several wines showed a level of ripe fruit concentration that had me thinking we were tasting Southern Rhone.  Then the final wines shifted my impression up to the Northern Rhone.  In retrospect it is the generous 2003 vintage that lead to this confusion and a surprise.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the 2003 Joel Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph.  Though fruity, the flavors are not over ripe, the wine is lively, and backed by earth.  It is certainly generous and enjoyable to drink as a result.  Also from Saint-Joseph, the 2003 Yves Cuilleron, Serines, Saint-Joseph steps up the level of elegance.  Made from old-vines which see new oak, the quality of the fruit shines through with great grip and bacon flavors!  Finally, the most seductive wine of the night turned out to be the 2003 Guigal, Chateau d’Ampuis, Cote-Rotie.  Fat, glycerin, even more fat surround coiled, black fruit flavors. You can now imagine why I stayed a bit later than I intended to simply drinking these wines.

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1 – 2003 Eric et Joel Durand, Cornas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 14%.  A medium garnet color with a mature and robust nose.  In the mouth are racy, mouth filling flavors.  This is a big wine with hints of alcohol.  There are flavors of prune, baking spice, and a wood note but not much in the way of tannin.  With air the sappy fruit takes on some fat and develops a longer finish.  In a way this is young and taught.  *** Now.

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2 – 2003 Joel Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A similar dark colored core as #1.  The nose is more expressive with mixed, dark fruits.  The flavors show more concentration with a hint of earth and plenty of presence.  It is a very good wine with ripe fruit, continued animale and earth notes, and an earthy aftertaste.  Nice.  **** Now – 2023.

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3 – 2003 Alain Voge, Les Vieilles Vignes, Cornas
Imported by Adventures in Wine.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A little less garnet than the previous wines.  This wine plays it close both on the nose and in the mouth.  It has hints of rather mature, old-school flavor which is delicate with earthy and red berry aspects.  The flavors become more black towards the finish where the subtle, structured finish brings out a wood note. *** Now.

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4 – 2003 Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes, Les Roches, Saint-Joseph
A darker color makes way to wood box aromas, dark blue and red fruit, and good mature hints. In the mouth there is a younger, fruitier start, assertive tannins, and a bitter finish.  There is good, tart flavor in the but ultimately taste more like a Southern Rhone.  Or perhaps I should write, I pegged this as a Tardieu-Laurent wine. *** Now.

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5 – 2003 Guigal, Brune & Blonde, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Ex Cellars.  Alcohol 13%.  Meaty flavors with a dose of tannins start off this thick, mouth filling wine.  It is a little rough and simple with dark roast and rather fine and strong structure.  More toast is apparent with air. *** Now – 2023.

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6 – 2003 Yves Cuilleron, Serines, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  Alcohol 13%.  The floral, purple fruit aromas clearly speak of the Northern Rhone.  In the mouth are cool, young fruit flavors on entry followed by a pervasive bacon flavor.  It is a youthful wine with watery acidity, great grip, and accented by citrus flavor (but not citric acidity).  This will continue to develop.  **** Now – 2027.

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7 – 2003 Rene Rostaing, Cote-Rotie
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a light garnet color.  The nose is weird, lactic and fishy with fish flavors in the mouth.  One taster commented “sardine dine”.  Not Rated.

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8 – 2003 Guigal, Chateau d’Ampuis, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Ex Cellars.  Alcohol 13%.  Mmm, meat on the nose.  This wine sports more body and glycerin then all of the previous wines.  The black core of fruit is coated with fat, coiled and willing to unfurl in the middle with a bright lift.  Did I mention the very seductive fat? **** Now – 2027.