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A diverse set of wines: Armenia, Macedonia, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and others

It was over the bottle of Ethiopian Chardonnay, brought by Jacques several weeks ago, that he proposed the idea of hosting a wine dinner to include bottles from Macedonia and Lebanon.  The origins of the wines we tried were nearly as diverse as the guests he hosted, who together represent nine different nationalities.  Jacques supplied a number of wines he had acquired over the years, bringing them from his home cellar to the Washington, DC, area.

A few other wines were added, including those I had purchased from MacArthur Beverages, from which we started with the 2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia.  A solid rose from Tunisia, how can you not try it?

My favorite red wines all came from Jacques.  It took me several minutes to realize I had drunk an earlier vintage of the 2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  The 2012 vintage is clearly much better than the 2009 I had drunk earlier with Taz, which was also supplied by Jacques.  The 2012 is a dark flavored wine with strong development potential.  I would try it again in a few years.  My favorite wine is the 2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  It is mouth filling with mature flavors that do not weigh you down and capable of further development.  Purchased pre-war, the 2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria struck me as the biggest surprise of the night.  The 2008 vintage is only the third for the domain.  It is very well-made and drinkable, perhaps a nod must be given to consulting oenologist Stephane Derenoncourt.  The family produces wine in both Syria and Lebanon but I believe Jacques prefers their Syrian wine.

Our final wine was sat for most of the evening in a decanter.  Complete with wooden presentation box and metal label, the 2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia is big both in bottle and in alcohol.  I notice power more than terroir but it is a good drink with the alcohol integrated.

Thanks again to Jacques and his wife.  Please find my tasting notes for these and the other wines I tasted below.

2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia
Imported by Travis Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache. Alcohol 13.5%.  A medium, dry rose color.  In the mouth is a moderate body, floral middle, watering acidity, and a lighter finish.  Light and bright in flavor, it takes on a creamy mouthfeel and notes of pastilles in the finish. ** Now.

2017 Minuty, Rose M, Cotes de Provence
Imported by Chateau & Estates. Alcohol 13%.  A rather light dry rose color.  This light, acidity driven wine bears just a touch of texture but plentiful stone notes.  ** Now.

2013 Yacoubian-Hobbs, Aghavnadzor, Vayots Dzor, Armenia
Imported by Paul Hobbs Selections. This wine is a blend of Voskehat, Khatuni, Qrdi, and Garan Demak. Alcohol 12.8%.  Both a light color and a light nose.  Improves with warmth to reveal white nuts, hints of wood but is overall modest in flavor.  Interesting but left me wanted for more.  *(*) Now – 2019.

2003 Chateau Musar, Blanc, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Merwah.  Alcohol 12%.  A copper-yellow color.  Mature in the mouth with an oxidative note then Sherry flavors with some toast.  At first moderate in body with watering acidity it eventually develops an enjoyable lanolin roundness through the long aftertaste.  Certainly an acquired taste.  **(*) Now but will last.

2010 Tsantali, Xinomavro Reserva, Naoussa, Greece
Imported by Fantis Imports. Alcohol 13%.  Quite nice actually with initially dry flavors of black cherry then an engaging racy bit.  *** Now – 2020.

2004 Domaine Ferrando, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% old-vine Grenache.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Fully mature with wood box, black cherry, and Kirsch all delivered in a rounded style.  Very good finish.  *** Now.

2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in the glass with dark flavors of incense.  There is extract and tannins structured for a requisite few more years of development.  I like the dark fruit profile and mouthfeel.  The new oak needs to integrate but strong potential.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan aged in cement vats, French oak barrels, and finally vats.  Alcohol 14%.  Mature with mouth filling flavors of cherry, good acidity, and animale bits adding complexity.  The citric tannins and acidity will see further development.  Unique!  **** Now – 2028.

2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria
This wine is a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in color.  Some roast on the nose but mature overall.  In the mouth are good flavors and fine extract.  A successful blend that opens up to a modern profile with good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2013 Stobi, Vranec, Veritas, Tikves, Macdeonia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Vranec aged 24 months in 80% new Slavonian oak casks and 20% Slavonian oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  Modern flavors of cherry with some brightness, certainly clean and balanced with no hard edges.  Could use a year or two to open up.  ** Now – 2023.

2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 17 year old vines aged 28 months in French and American oak barrels. Alcohol 16.3%.  An intense, yet flavorful wine with powerful ripe dark fruits and a long, powerful finish.  One notices power and not alcohol.  A bit unevolved at this point so come back in a few years.  *** 2020-2028.

A pair of Oregon Pinot Noir

If you are interested in Pinot Noir then I strongly recommend you try the 2016 Walter Scott, La Combe Verte, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley.  It is best left to age for a year or two but if you are tempted now then give it a long decant.   It is a serious wine with deep flavor and sappy acidity all at a great price.  Stock up!  The 2014 Bryn Mawr Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley could use a touch of age as well, though I suspect it will always be closely played.  There is a certain old-school quality to it.  Thanks to Andy at MacArthur Beverages for the recommendations.

2016 Walter Scott, La Combe Verte, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – $26
Alcohol 13.6%.  Fine, ripe varietal aromas on the nose make way to fresh, yet weighty flavors and almost sappy acidity.  Blue fruit flavors develop over a moderately ripe structure with a hint of fresh greenness at the end.  Tasted over two days this young wine already has good depth but remains tight as it needs to develop for a year or two before you should drink it.  ***(*) 2020-2025.

2014 Bryn Mawr Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged 9 months in 30% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.3%.  A firm profile with slightly zippy, citric acidity mark this closely played wine with flavors of black cherry.  There is some spice, a stemmy nature, and an old-school herbal note.  **(*) 2019-2022.

A pair of Cotes du Rhone

May 14, 2018 1 comment

In retrospect, I can see how the 2016 Raymond Usseglio, Les Claux, Cotes du Rhone uses fruit from a site next to Lirac.  There is that firm structure yet there is enough fruit to support development over the next few years.  There is no need to hold back on the 2015 Domaine Alary, La Brunote, Cairanne.  This dark fruited, creamy wine has much to offer now but still manages to develop in the glass.  While it is a forward wine, it should be even better in a year or two.  You may find these wines at Weygandt-Wines.

 

2016 Raymond Usseglio, Les Claux, Cotes du Rhone – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is an equal blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre sourced from a lieu dit next to Lirac.  Alcohol 14%.  Mixed berries, brambly fruit, fresh acidity, and citric tannins all merge together in this young wine.  There is brightness to the blue and black fruit with the flavors becoming even blacker with air.  The structure also comes out providing enough dry, framework for the fairly exuberant flavors.  *** Now – 2027.

2015 Domaine Alary, La Brunote, Cairanne – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan raised in concrete.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There are creamy and rounded flavors of blue fruit in this modest bodied wine.  It soon reacts to air with the blue fruit complemented by stones, a smoke hint, and a supportive structure of promising tannins for development.  There is savory weight through the very mineral and black/graphite aftertaste.  ***(*) Now – 2024.

Four from Roussillion and Languedoc

Of the four wines featured in this post, I quite enjoyed the first three listed below.  My particular favorites are the 2015 Clos Marie, Cuvee L’Olivette, Languedoc and 2014 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Cuvee Mani, Cotes du Roussillon.  The Clos Marie is a fairly complex wine and the Tribuoley is surprising deep in flavor yet light and lithe at the same time.  The 2015 Domaine des Soulanes, Cuvee Jean Pull is flavorful and robust, for easy drinking.  You may pick them up at Weygandt Wines.

2015 Clos Marie, Cuvee L’Olivette, Languedoc – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault sourced from an average of 25 year old vines.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged in demi-muid and oak tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There are brighter scents with a hint of yeast.  In the mouth this is a medium bodied, rounded and ripe wine with some luxurious fat.  It takes on an earthy incense, plums, and rosemary then finally wraps up with fine texture.  *** Now – 2022.

2015 Domaine des Soulanes, Cuvee Jean Pull – $17
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 25 years of age.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged in used oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A mouth filling wine with slightly textured black fruit and notes of Kirsch in the finish.  Perhaps a touch of brett matched by grapey tannins, and spices on the finish.  A lively, young and robust wine.  *** Now – 2023.

2014 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Cuvee Mani, Cotes du Roussillon – $20
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of two-thirds Grenache and one-third Syrah that was raised in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  An elegant wine, fresh and almost lifted in nature.  There are lithe, dark blue fruit convey deep flavor complemented by an earthy hint.  Minerals in the finish.  Good flavor.  *** Now – 2021.

2014 Le Bout du Monde, Cuvee L’echappee belle – $20
A Jenny & Francois Selection imported by USA Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Carignan which was fermented in fibreglass tanks then aged for 7  months in used barrels.  Alcohol 11%.  Light, bright, with pure acidity-driven fruit flavors.  A natural wine style which is not to my liking.  On the second day this smells exactly like buttered popcorn with flavors reminiscent of beer.  Not Rated.

A pair from Brouilly

My daughter’s Monday evening soccer practice is conveniently located near Weygandt Wines.  It is here that I picked up the bright and pure 2016 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Pierreux, Brouilly.  It acts as a good foil for the 2016 Daniel Bouland, Cuvee Melanie, Cotes de Brouilly.  While the Bouland has a bit more heft it also offers more complexity in an understated way.

2016 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Pierreux, Brouilly – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay from 30 year old vinces on granitic scree.  Alcohol 13%.  There are tangy berries followed by an interesting cranberry and raspberry middle.  This wine is about pure fruit flavors.  It also has a bright tilt.  *** Now – 2020.

2016 Daniel Bouland, Cuvee Melanie, Cotes de Brouilly – $26
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 70 year old vines on volcanic blue schist.  Alcohol 13%.  An herbal hint on the nose is not repeated in the mouth.  Flavors of focused fruit are supported by a fine structure from the start.  The cool and tangy red and black fruit has good, moderate weight which pairs with the juicy acidity.  The wine becomes a touch drier in the finish.  This has an understated complexity to it.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

Pinot Noir from Irancy and Nahe

April 30, 2018 1 comment

The 2011 William Charriat, Irancy surprised me.  A bit herbal and firm upon opening, this wine really came into its own on the second night.  Initially released at five years of age, the Irancy wines of William Charriat are regarded for their ability to develop over a long time.  Traditionally made, the 2011 vintage shows best on the second night.  It is an interesting, highly drinkable wine.  The 2014 Weingut Sinss, Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe is also good.  Aromatic, fresh, and while perfect for the warmer temperatures, it is also capable of aging for several years.  Grab these two wines if you want unique expressions of Pinot Noir.  They are available at Weygandt Wines.

2011 William Charriat, Irancy
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir that sees no new oak.  Alcohol 13%.  Initially, a rather herbal and vintage perfume infused nose.  With air the herbal quality recedes some.  On the second night there is some thickness to the flavors and structure intertwined with minerality.  Subtle flavors of black fruit come out becoming more interesting due to texture and fat.  It all wraps up with fresh lift.  *** Now – 2028.

2014 Weingut Sinss, Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light, cranberry-red color speaks of the lifted, varietal nose.  In the mouth are tart cranberry, citrus, and red fruit flavors with an acidity driven start and a bit of a mineral finish.  There is an edge or tension from the acidity that when coupled with the modest tannins, will see this wine through several years of age.  With further air the wine takes on more mineral flavors.  A pleasing wine for the summer.  *** Now – 2022.

A Spanish pair of Tempranillo

April 20, 2018 1 comment

Both of the wines in this post are made from Tempranillo yet one is from Ribera del Duero and the other from Rioja.  The 2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero is new wine for me and I am pleased to write it is well made and quite tasty.  The 2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva is the more serious of the two yet it is beautiful.  It is clear that 2010 is an excellent vintage  capable of developing for the next several years. These two wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Alfredo Maestro, Almate, Ribera del Duero – $15
Imported by Llaurador Wines.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from vines at 700 and 1,000 meters of elevation that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for four months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Flavors of cool, juicy fruit are carried by watering acidity over a fine structure.  Quite tasty with a dry, graphite finish.  *** Now – 2023.

2010 Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Reserva – $24
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged 18 months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  After a few hours of air this beautiful wine fills the mouth with powdery red and black fruit.  There is some cocoa and only a hint of sweetness to the flavors.  There is fresh acidity, but not out of balance for the flavor, spices, and dry baking spices in the gentle finish.  ***(*) Now – 2028.