Another tasting with Lou, from maturing Chablis to old Boeger wines

November 5, 2019 Leave a comment

While it was still warm, I met up with Lou and another friend for grilled steak and a variety of wines.  Two favorite wines from the evening include the lush 2005 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume and young 2010 Scholium Project, The Courier, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County.  I found the 2006 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas young and capable of much further development.  Though it did become a bit hot with air (and perhaps some warmth).

We then moved on to a trio of old California wines from Boeger Winery.  Founded by Greg and Sue Boeger in 1972, Boeger Winery was the first commercial winery in El Dorado County since Prohibition.  It is located in the old Elmo Fossati Ranch winery built in 1870s and operated until the 1920s. It remained in the Fossati family until it was sold in 1972.

Boeger Winery was part of an expansion of vineyard acreage in the county from 11 largely experimental acres in 1967 to 380 by 1981.  Greg Boeger felt El Dorado County was special with a better climate than in Napa Valley.  The vineyards are located at a higher elevation, the temperature is cooler, and the area is without fog so grapes may ripen without mildew.  Boeger was ready for its first crush in 1974 and by 1977, he doubled capacity to 12,000 gallons.  It is from this period that our three oldest bottles stem from.  The NV Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Lot No. 3, El Dorado County is a solid drink, still in firm shape.  The 1979 Boeger Winery, Merlot, El Dorado County steps up the quality with savory, strong flavors.  Sharing a common savory quality, the 1978 Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado County has a clear, blue fruited vein.  While not mind-blowing, these bottles were in fine shape with the vintage dated ones exhibiting a common personality.

2005 Domaine Vrignaud, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume
Imported by KV Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  A light, gold-straw color.  Aromatic on the nose with some ripe orchard notes.  More rounded that the nose belies, it is even lush with a touch of softness, wood hint, and underlying maturity.  With air the wine comes into focus with dense lemon flavor, flint, and quite the mouthfeel.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2010 Scholium Project, The Courier, Shake Ridge Ranch, Amador County
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Granche.  Alcohol 14.8%.  A young, lifted Syrah nose which is articulate and aromatic.  Complex, tense, and young. Needs time.  ***(*) Now – 2029.

2006 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Gigondas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 15%.  Young but there is a savory focus for future development.  A licorice note comes out.  Strong with a touch of heat after extended air.  Will it remain balanced or should you pop and pour?  *** Now – 2029.

1990 Giuseppe Contratto, Solus Ad, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by Bedford Brands Ltd. Alcohol 12.8%.  Mature on the nose and on the cusp of falling apart. Not Rated.

NV Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Lot No. 3, El Dorado County
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines located at 1400 ft in elevation in the Gold Hill district.  It was aged in small French Never oak barrels.    Alcohol 12.5%.  Still good color.  Sweet wood notes on the nose.  Tart and firm red fruit supported by black fruit flavors.  A solid wine with good, citric acidity.  ** Now.

1979 Boeger Winery, Merlot, El Dorado County
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from the highest ridge at the winery. Alcohol 13.2%.  A bricking color.  Savory in the mouth with a big start.  In a strong state with supportive acidity throughout.  **(*) Now.

1978 Boeger Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, El Dorado County
This wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Merlot sourced from vines at 2300 ft in elevation.  It was aged for 2 years in small oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.2%.  A little stink.  Rounder and softer yet there is a good edge in there.  Good flavor with developing blue fruit.  A savory wine.  *** Now.

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.

“The [illustrated] effects of medicine and wine-drinking compared.”

October 18, 2019 Leave a comment

I came across this drawing while perusing the Wellcome Collection to stock an anatomy display at my house for our Halloween party.  On the left, is a thin, gaunt man suffering from the blue devils despite his three bottles of physic.  On the right is a jolly, robust man, holding up a glass of wine, surrounded by wine bottles.  As there are two wine glasses and six bottles of wine, I suspect the thin, gaunt man switched from wine to physic for the worse!

“The effects of medicine and wine-drinking compared.” [1]

Two three bottle men. Wine and physic. What I was. What I am. A hint to jolly dogs.


[1] The effects of medicine and wine-drinking compared. Ink drawing, 18–.. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY. URL: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/hta2mhfq/items?langCode=eng

Thirst Quenching 2018 Le Sincette, Gropello

October 17, 2019 Leave a comment

If you are looking for a refreshing glass of wine to calm trembling arms from raking fall leaves then grab the 2018 Le Sincette, Gropello, Garda.  Even if you have not performed any physical activity and simply want some wine in the vein of a young Beaujolais, then grab a bottle as well.  The flavors are grapey, as if from young wines, but the wine is seriously made. Check it out!


2018 Le Sincette, Gropello, Garda – $19 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by La Storie Wines.  This wine is 100% Gropello Gentile fermented and aged for four months in small cement tanks and oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This is a juicy, young, thirst-quenching wine that is grapey yet serious.  The flavors are rounded with a grapey style throughout and a baking spiced finish.  An honest wine of good length.  **  Now.

An intense and dark 1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot

October 16, 2019 Leave a comment

I pulled the cork on the 1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley not knowing one bit of its history.  Founded by Randle and MaryLee Johnson, this bottle is from their inaugural vintage which happens to be the same year the winery was founded.  Just five years earlier, in 1974, Johnson graduated from UC Davis then a year later begin work with Phil Baxter at Chateau Souverain in 1975. In 1977, Johnson started work under Bob Travers at Mayacamas Vineyard which is located on Mount Veeder.  Fascinated with this mountain fruit, Johnson opened Calafia Cellars in 1979.

Johnson explored the terroir of Mount Veeder.  In the early years at Calafia Cellars, he produced Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel from both the southeast-facing and west-facing slopes.  I do not know any background details of this wine but as it is marked Napa Valley, it could be Merlot sourced from the southeastern slopes of Mount Veeder.  Calafia Cellars was a winery in name only so I wonder if this inaugural vintage was made at Mayacamas.  This bottle was showing a bit of its age but the dark and intense flavors bear all the hallmarks of Mount Veeder.  What a treat!

1979 Calafia Cellars, Merlot, Napa Valley
Alcohol 14.1%.  Dark in color with a lovely nose.  Ripe and dark in the mouth with firm, dense and polished flavors carried by watering acidity.  In good condition, this wine is integrated all around.  It fleshes out a bit taking on some spice.  It eventually shows its age being a touch hollow in the end.  **(*) Now.

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.