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A Pair of 2015 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph

February 11, 2019 Leave a comment

The 2015 Lionel Faury, Saint Joseph Rouge and 2015 Lionel Faury, La Gloriette Vieilles Vignes, Saint Joseph exemplify elegant wines made during a ripe vintage.  Both are generally floral, black fruited wines with the ripeness exhibited as a coating of seductive fat.   A deft hand is evident.  What I find crazy is that La Gloriette Vieilles Vignes is only $3 more than the Rouge.  I recommend you load up on as much as you can afford for I would not be surprised it drinks at a higher level in just two or three years.   I found these wines at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph Rouge – $32
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines planted between 1979 and 2007.  It was aged 12 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 13%.  Floral with a youthful, Syrah nose.  In the mouth are flavors of pure, black floral fruit propelled by watering acidity.  With air the structure slowly reveals itself along with a hint of fat in the finish.  ***(*) Now – 2024.

2015 Lionel Faury, La Gloriette Vieilles Vignes, Saint-Joseph – $35
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines planted between 1949 and 2014.  It was fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats then aged for 18 months in large oak casks.  Alcohol 13%.  Floral with black fruit but more so than the regular rouge.  It is initially citric with bright fruit baking spices and quite the mineral finish.  It is an attractive, saline wine with a berry core infused with fat throughout.  It is more floral in flavor and clearly more complex.  The very fine tannins are starting to integrate yet will support development.  I imagine this will hit the next stage in a few years.  **** Now – 2029.

A trio of 2017 Julien Sunier Beaujolais

January 16, 2019 1 comment

Back in October I expressed my excitement over the 2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie.  It was not until this snowy weekend that I tasted it in context with two other of Julien Sunier’s wines.  In short, I am even more excited and convinced that you must try this wine.  The balance is fantastic, yielding a crisp wine of unique floral, orange citrus flavors.  There was bad hail damage in Fleurie and Morgon during the summer of 2017 which shows up in the bottle.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie is still mineral and tannic but lighter in body with subtle fruit.  The 2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon is fresh but missing the usual depth and verve.  They are good wines all around with Sunier’s hand evident but the Regnie clearly stands out.  Grab a few bottles from Phil at MacArthur Beverages.

2017 Julien Sunier, Fleurie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. Bright red flavors greet but the wine is actually quite mineral.  It is lighter in body with watering acidity.  There are both ripe tannin texture and ripe baking spices in the finish.  This is a light to medium bodied wine with ripeness that is definitely subtle compared to the overall dry finish.  Could use a bit of time. *** 2020-2026.

2017 Julien Sunier, Morgon – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines planted in the 1960s.  It was fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeast then aged for 9 months in used Burgundy barrels.   Alcohol 13%.  A grapey, purple cranberry color.  Scented ripe and bright, red berries on the nose.  In the mouth, fresh and cool red flavors immediately mix with fine to medium textured tannins.  There is watering acidity throughout with a lightly inky finish.  This has the most fruit of the three.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats then aged 9 months in neutral French barrels. Alcohol 13.5 %.    Medium fruit weight exists with crisp acidity and floral orange citrus fruit.  Lovely from the first pour.  With air, the fruit rounds out bringing on more florals, violets, and incense through the long, complex finish.  Minimal structure.  Cracking acidity.  **** Now – 2026.

Five Bottles of Beaujolais: Chignard, Dutraive, and Pignard

It was Lou who first mentioned the wines of Jean-Louis Dutraive.  As soon as the bottles arrived in DC we planned to taste them along with a few other bottles. The 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie is excellent.  A unique nose followed by electric flavors of delicate fruit and minerals.  It is unique in my limited experience with Beaujolais.  Sadly, two bottles of 2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie proved to be yeasty, undrinkable messes.  So avoid the Carolon but do buy Le Pied de la Rue.  There is a bit of a delicacy which makes me think it is best drunk within a few years.

The 2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon is my second favorite wine of our evening.  It is a balanced, elegant wine of beauty.  It even takes on a vintage perfume note that makes it stand apart.  The 2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie is bright and a touch herbaceous, evocative of a cooler site.  It is solid but I prefer a bit more fruit material in my wine.  We finished with a bottle of 2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay that had been opened three days prior.  It still tasted of firm, dense black fruit with some wood.  I imagine this wine will easily reach ten years of age at which point it might open up.

In the end, our five bottles spanned a range of qualities but I am happy.  I now know to look out for more wines from Dutraive and Pignard.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Le Pied de la Rue, Fleurie – $40
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40-70 year old vines, fermented in concrete then aged seven months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Aromatic. Bright acidity, almost electric, with fine grained yet ripe structure on the gums supports mineral flavors that are almost blue and black in fruit. Beautiful, delicate fruit flavors from pure berries. With air the beauty remains but the berry notes take on density. The finish is lifted with just a touch of yeast followed by a long aftertaste. **** Now – 2021.

2017 Jean-Louis Dutraive, Carolon, Fleurie – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12.5%. A cloudy, pale cranberry color. At first ,spritz on the tongue with articulate flavors of berries and some roundness in the mouth. But within two hours an undrinkable yeasty, mess. A second bottle was clear in the glass but soon tasted of popcorn and Pilsner. Not Rated.

2014 Roland Pignard, Cuvee Tradition, Morgon
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay that was aged in oak for one year. Alcohol 12.5%. Deeper fruit and olive aromas. In the mouth is a good balance between the fruit, structure, and acidity such that is comes across as an elegant, well-balanced wine. There is a beauty that I prefer over the Regnie. With air, vintage perfume develops on the nose. In the mouth it becomes chiseled with grapey flavor and some ripeness in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2024.

2014 Roland Pignard, Regnie
Imported by Fruit of the Vine. This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines.  Alcohol 12%. The brighter red fruit aromas are more herbaceous and a touch dusty. In the mouth this is a bright wine, almost tart, with juicy acidity and fine pithe tannins in the finish. It tastes of cooler site. Attractive in a way but should be drunk soon. *** Now.

2013 Domaine Chignard, Julienas Beauvernay – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60 year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel then raised for 13 months in old oak foudres.  Alcohol 12.5%. Firm in the mouth with focused black fruit and touch of juicy acidity. It comes across as a young wine, still structured, and does not offer up much until three days after opening. There is some dense, ripe fruit in there, and a firm wood note. I do not see it improving in flavor but imagine it will live a long time. **(*) 2021 – 2029.

The must-try 2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie

October 15, 2018 Leave a comment

You must try the 2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie.  It is a lovely blend of exotic florals, black fruit with minerals, and ethereal ripeness, all of which is capable of additional development over the next several years.  If you try a bottle today you can observe it unfold over several hours.  Pick it up at MacArthur Beverages.

 

2017 Julien Sunier, Regnie – $32
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats then aged for 9 months in French barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  This wine slowly opens up, requiring a few hours of air to reveal itself.  There is fresh acidity with modest fruit, modest acidity, and a graphite middle.  With air the very focused flavors of exotic florals and perfume take on a cool density with crisp acidity.  Watering flavors of cranberry and black fruit remain focused but an oily and ethereal ripeness develop.  It wraps up black-fruited and mineral.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

Rhone Research – 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape, Part 1

September 21, 2018 Leave a comment


By all accounts, the 2016 vintage is stellar in the Southern Rhone.  It is hype that the group, gathered by Phil Bernstein, of MacArthur Beverages, were no doubt aware of.  Together, we tasted through nine bottles of recently arrived 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape focusing in on some big names and top cuvees.   The reputation bore out in our limited experience.

These bottles of 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape are dense, highly flavorful wines with ample fruit and fresh acidity, that can be subtly or not so subtly intense. In this vein, the vintage character is evident in everything we tasted. At an individual level, some wines will come to sooner, like the Clos de Papes and the regular Domaine de la Janasse. The former was the only bottle finished off but the latter is nearly as good right now and certainly a best buy. In fact, I prefer this cuvee over the Chaupin and Vieilles Vignes! Of course time may prove me wrong.

The Le Vieux Donjon should not be overlooked for cellaring. It sports the lowest alcohol level of the group which lends itself to the floral elegance of the fruit. I particularly liked the Domaine de Marcoux, revealing complex red berries but also like its Vieilles Vignes sibling, it contains the most structure of the lot. The Marcoux wines might take the longest to come around and be the longest to live, but they should reward handsomely. The Vieilles Vignes packs more in yet has levity despite its 16% alcohol level. It is inky, sappy, and best enjoyed in small sips at this youthful age.

The wines were all double-decanted one hour prior to the taste then served blind in paper bags.  Please find my notes below, in the order of the tasting, which includes the two Champagne as well.  I should note, that nothing is marked by *****.  The best wines will develop and improve further, so I had to leave wiggle room for improvement!

NV Veuve Fourny & Fils, Champagne Rose Brut
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 12.6%. A pale cooper rose color. Chalk greets with the good mousse. Eventually a yeasty, cola hint then dry from the middle. Good flavor and robust personality. *** Now.

1 – 2016 Clos de Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $109
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah aged in old foudre.  Grapey with some Christmas spice on the nose. In the mouth, smooth, beautiful, supple and fresh through the finish. There are hints of heat as the very fine, dry structure comes out. There is good focus to the grapey, bright fruit with a hint of nuts in the end. ****(*) Now – 2033.

2 – 2016 Roger Sabon, Prestige, Chateauneuf du Pape – $75
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% other varieties.  Alcohol 15%. Fresh on the nose with a greenhouse aspect, more modern. Dense, thick, and savory with a mineral middle. With air the wine remains thick but with cool acidity and attractive fat in the aftertaste. Much better than the Reserve.  **** Now – 2030.

3 – 2016 Roger Sabon, ReserveChateauneuf du Pape – $50
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah aged in foudres and vats.  Alcohol 15%. Subtle but a touch more floral. Fresh and redder with watering acidity. It remains a brighter wine that is tightly focused around a finely woven wood vein. With air too much heat for my preference. *** 2021- 3035.

4 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Vieilles VignesChateauneuf du Pape – $109
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre, 8% Syrah, and the rest other permitted varieties.  Alcohol 15%. Raisinated, intense, with heat early on and powerful structure with black stones in the finish. With air the wine remains dense and packed through the stone and mineral finish. Weakest of this flight of three.  It improves with air, but is completely shut down.  ***(**) 2023 – 2038.

5 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15%. Rounded, supple with better balance, and an old-school flavor aspect. There is fat that covers the concentrated red fruit into the beautiful mineral end. With air the wine remains pure in fruit, clean, with powdery texture. Ripe tannins build and expand in the end. This should be in every CdP lovers cellar….a stellar buy. ****(*) Now – 2028.

6 – 2016 Domaine de MarcouxChateauneuf du Pape – $65
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 15.5%. More robust in flavor with red and blue fruit carried by fresh acidity. It becomes brighter in the finish where ripe tannins coat the gums. The most tannic of the trio but it is opening up with air to reveal a good balance of flavor in the form of ripe berries, strawberry, and raspberry. It eventually exposes complexity that persists through the finish. There is even a piñon hint. This should be in your cellar too! ****(*) Now – 2043.

7 – 2016 Domaine de Marcoux, Vieilles VignesChateauneuf du Pape – $159
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 16%. Backwards on the nose. In the mouth, it is dense with good acidity and more structure than the previous wine. The flavors are elegant, grapey purple, perhaps a bit lighter but there is better balance overall. The acidity matches the medium to full weight, maintaining levity. In the end the wine is sappy with inky, cranberry red flavors. For the long-haul. ****(*) Now – 2048.

8 – 2016 Le Vieux DonjonChateauneuf du Pape – $ 60
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 14.5%. Pepper scented on the nose. It is dense, savory, and salty, certainly packing in the flavor. The fruit, though, is floral and finely delineated leading the way to a nearly lifted middle. With air the definite structure is revealed so best drunk after several more years.  A strong showing. ****(*) Now – 2038.


9 – 2016 Domaine de la Janasse, ChaupinChateauneuf du Pape – $75
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines reaching up to 100+ years of age on sandy soils.  Alcohol 15%. Dense as well but silky with finely grained flavor and texture from the very fine, dry tannins. Red berries and firm minerals…actually very minerally, with a touch of heat in the end. Overall, hot and hard to drink, it never came round. *** 2023 – 2033.

NV Christophe Mignon, Pur Meunier, Champagne Brut Nature
Polaner Selection. This wine is 100% Petit Muenier.  Alcohol 12.5%. A scented nose of orchards and polished wood. A lovely nose. Finely textured bubbles followed by deep flavor of chalk and sour apple. The mousse and flavor mix very well. ***(*) Now – 2023.

Ending the summer with Marsanne, Saint-Joseph

September 5, 2018 Leave a comment

It was a long summer in Maryland this year.  The weather is still hot and humid so despite the start of school, I find it hard to transition out of a vacation mindset.  But I must as I have drunk a number of interesting wines including the 2016 Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne, Saint-Joseph.  The wines of Saint-Joseph remain my go-to choice for the Northern Rhone given their affordability.  Prices are ticking up with the cult Gonon now reaching over $100 per bottle.  From the same village of Mauves, the Marsanne family have been cultivating vines for generations.  This is the first vintage of Marsanne that I have drunk and I know it will not be the last.  It is a dense, savory wine which has a good amount of stuffing but maintains a floral edge for delicacy.  With a few hours of air it drinks very well but I imagine it will unfurl over the next few years.  Take note!  You may find it at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Domaine Jean-Claude Marsanne, Saint-Joseph – $37
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 39 year old vines on granitic soil.  It was fermented in stainless steel vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels.   Alcohol 13.5%.  Dense and savory with a floral edge to the black, almost bitter, fruit.  There is good presence in this clean, quite weighty wine, which has a bit of structure evident in the aftertaste.  With air the wine becomes sweeter and riper, showing a little fat for luxury, all balanced by supportive acidity.  A touch of cinnamon even pops up.  **** Now – 2028.

A good future for the 2015 Rostaing, Syrah Les Lezardes

The 2015 Domaine Rostaing, Syrah Les Lézardes is produced using fruit from vineyards located on the northern border of the Côte Rôtie appellation.  It is, in some sense, a mini Côte Rôtie at an affordable price.  I have drunk two bottles already, one being more open than the other.  This wine is best left to age for another year but with decanting, the floral aromas and fat coated fruit will bring you back for more.

2015 Domaine Rostaing, Syrah Les Lézardes, VdP Collines Rhodaniennes – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Syrah.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Floral and herbal on the nose.  In the mouth this young wine starts dry and tight with a very fine, yet gentle structure.  With air the wine builds flavors of firm black and red fruit surround by a modest coating of fat. ***(*) 2019 – 2028.