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Posts Tagged ‘$30-$49’

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.

Three Wild Wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat

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John recently brought in a selection of wines from Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat.  I picked up three of the red wines which I have opened up over the past week.  These wines are made without any sulphur using grapes from Beaujolais and Jura. The 2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge is pure Muscat rouge which is the greatest outlier of the group being of cloudy color and grapefruit aroma.  It is clearly not for everyone but the flavors have a lovely earthy note and sense of ripeness.  While it does not fall apart into the Pilsner/popcorn spectrum, it is best drunk up on the first day.  The 2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge mixes Gamay with a slew of indigenous Jura varieties.  There is some brett which contributes earth and matches the potpourri flavors with dry tannins.  It is also lively in the mouth and largely stable.  It too will not be for everyone.  My strongest recommendation goes out to the 2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge.  This is the most stable of the three wines, deep in flavor with attractive animale qualities.  I find it compelling to drink.  This is a must-try for those with interest in the Jura.  You may find these wines on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.

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2016 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Les Fanfans s’amusement, VdF Rouge – $24
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is pure Muscat rouge.  Alcohol 13%.  Cloudy with a pale, garnet-rose color.  Smells like a lambic beer with grapefruit and berry aromas.  Lively acidity first greets the tongue with a slight prickle followed by high-toned fruit and a mineral middle.  There is ethereal ripeness and a lovely, earthy note before the Big Red spiced finish.  Of moderate weight, there is an acidity sharp finish, and long aftertaste.  **(*) Now.

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2017 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Y’a bon the Canon, VdF Rouge – $29
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of Gamay from Beaujolais with old Jura varieties such as Petit Béclan, Gros Béclan, Geusche, Argant, Peurion, Portugais Bleu, Isabelle, and Enfarine. Alcohol 13%.  A tickle on the tongue, some brett for earthy, and drying, astringent tannins.  With air potpourri flavors develop, surrounded by some fat, citric acidity, and grip in the end.  *** Now.

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2015 Anne & Jean-Francois Ganevat, Cuvee Madelan Nature, VdF Rouge – $33
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of mostly Gamay from Morgon and Brouilly with Enfarine from Jura.  Alcohol 13%.  A cranberry red color.  Some earth and wood mix with dry, red fruit, and leather.  This remains the most stable of the wines, developing an animale note.  The lively flavors are somewhat tingling from acidity with red fruit leaning towards deeper, supportive black fruit flavors.  The middle brings dry, citric pithe tannins and an earthy note.  This is a fresh wine with good depth and chalky ripeness.  Compelling.  **** Now – 2022.

Five Greek Wines

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A few months ago John, at MacArthur Beverages, recommended several Greek wines for me to try at a Greek-inspired lunch held at my mom’s house.  John’s taste for pure expressions of indigenous grapes always provides new experiences for my palate.  Apparently, they satisfied my extended family as well.  While I manned the grill the 2018 Troupis Winery, Hoof & Lur, Moschofilero Wild Ferment and 2018 Domaine Zefeirakis, Rose Limniona, Tyrnavos were almost drunk to completion.  I only managed two short notes.  The former is substantial Moschofilero, in no way strange, and utterly drinkable.  The later is a floral and chalky rose with some attractive racy body.

Of the red wines, the 2016 Argatia Winery, Haroula red, Macedonia is a light and juicy, floral wine for the near term.  My favorite wine is the 2013 Domaine Glinavos, Vlahiko, Ioannina.  Served blind, the old-school mature flavors would confuse most as would the blend being Vlahiko and Bekari.  I really enjoyed the surprise.  Finally, the 2010 Taralas Family Winery, Mavro, Naoussa also offers plenty of mature, dry flavors yet still retains fruit.

2018 Troupis Winery, Hoof & Lur, Moschofilero Wild Ferment – $20
Selected by DNS Wines. Imported by T. Elenteny Imports.  A dried rose tinge.  Skin contact fruit on the nose.  A round wine full of flavor in the mouth but with fresh acidity.  *** Now.

2018 Domaine Zefeirakis, Rose Limniona, Tyrnavos – $16
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 12%.  Of pink rose petals.  An acidity driven start with clean and fresh flavors that are a little tart and chalky.  With some warmth, dry pastille flavors with a touch of racy body in the finish.  *** Now.

2016 Argatia Winery, Haroula red, Macedonia – $16
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is a blend of 50% Xinomavro with 50% Negoska and Mavrodaphne.  Alcohol 13%.  Firm flavors of cherry and floral pastilles.  Black fruit supports the wine from the middle with a very, dry, yet appropriate structure.  Overall, pretty and floral, light and juicy.  **(*) Now – 2022.

2013 Domaine Glinavos, Vlahiko, Ioannina – $26
Imported by T. Elenteny. This wine is a blend of Vlahiko and Bekari. Alcohol 12%.  Old-school on the nose with some high-toned celery.  Old school in the mouth, maturing, with tart red fruity and a dry finish.  Completely surprising and I like if for that reason.  *** Now but will last.

2010 Taralas Family Winery, Mavro, Naoussa – 
Imported by Verity Wine Partners. This wine is 100% Xinomavro. Alcohol 13%.    A focused core of fruit, dry black flavors, leather, and a dry finish are all perfectly integrated with the structure.  The wine is in its second phase, already full of bottle-aged complexity.  It finishes dry.  *** Now – 2024.

A pair of modest 2000 red Bordeaux

A month or so ago, Phil brought in a cache of well-stored Bordeaux from which I bought a few modestly priced selections.  I went through a few bottles of 2000 Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet, Pauillac, concluding that it is a wine to drink up.  At best it has deep aromas followed by gentle, mature wood box flavors.  It is a luncheon wine.  My favorite is the gutsy 2000 Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac.  Produced before micro-oxygenation was introduced, it is saline and savory.  Though mature, it has good life ahead and currently offers fine length.  It is a good value at $30.

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2000 Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet, Pauillac – $35
Imported by LVDH. Alcohol 13%.  Some mature, deep notes on the nose.  The flavors are wood box infused with a gentle and mature nature yet the wine is balanced and not old.  It is in a focused, leaner style with a little minerality, a touch of ripe spice, and freshness.  Good length.  **(*) Now – 2022.

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2000 Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac – $30
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Savory salinity is bound with minerals and mature flavors.  In a good state, it still comes across as fresh, with supportive acidity, a long finish, and good aftertaste.  Has life yet.  *** Now – 2024.

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Two Recent Rhones: Clos du Mont Olivet and P. Usseglio

It feels like we have already drunk, both by ourselves and with friends, cases of 2016 Clos du Mont Olivet, Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes.  This particular wine is drinking at full maturity which is why I was very curious to try the 2016 Clos du Mont Olivet, Chateauneuf du Pape.  There is that same Mourvedre-based goodness but the Chateauneuf du Pape steps it up in terms of components for development.  It is appealing now, with Kirsch aromas and firm line of darker fruits with stones, but is best left for at least two to three years before trying again.  At only $35 this is a bargain for a wine that will develop over 10-15 years.  My recommendation is to drink the CdR while this CdP lays in your cellar or fridge.

Nearly as impressive is the 2016 Domaine Pierre Usseglio, Lirac.  Lirac is a relatively young selection in the P. Usseglio lineup but one you should take note of.  It is approachable and giving at first pour, but with air it still reveals its Lirac firmness.  There is quite a lot going on in here already, but I would wait until the winter for the wine to relax.  Brought in by Phil at MacArthur Beverages, this is a fine value at $25.

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2016 Clos du Mont Olivet, Chateauneuf du Pape – $35
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah and some Cinsault, aged in foudre and old oak. Alcohol 15%.  Kirsch and cherry candies remain on the nose.  In the mouth it has the earthy, Mourvedre flavor, adding depth to the dark red and black fruits.  By the middle a firm line of black fruit and stones come out, reflecting its youth as the structure develops.  It is a little astringent in the end with tannins sticking to the gums.  With air the ripe core of flavor comes into focus and it picks up a spicy note.  Drinkable now but it deserves a few more years in the cellar.  **** Now – 2034.

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2016 Domaine Pierre Usseglio, Lirac – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, aged 12 months, half in concrete vats and half in demi-muids. Alcohol 15%.  Dark in the glass with ripe berry aromas, cocoa, and smoke.  The fruit weight is immediately noticeable followed by ripe, red berry flavors and garrigue which morph into a floral, spiced note in the middle.  With air the wine firms up with that firm, cool Lirac nature providing the spine.  It also becomes even more floral through the long finish.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

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“One of the best we’ve ever made”: 1978 and 1977 Cabernet from Sunrise Winery

June 14, 2019 1 comment

Since my last post of one month ago, I have spent all of the time I usually dedicate to the wine blog transcribing 18th century letters related to the Madeira trade in America.  To lend you a sense of the effort, just two of the sources I am using, one letterbook and one partial collection of letters, encompass nearly 900 pages.  While I am not transcribing every single line, I am attempting to read each one.  Sometimes an interesting statement regarding Madeira may be hidden amongst a paragraph about fish and flour prices.  It is compelling work but my tasting notes of both young and old wine are piling up.

While the name of Sunrise Arata has been stuck in my head for some time, I cannot recall having drunk a single vintage.  I resolved this issue the other week when Sudip came over.  Sunrise Winery was founded in 1976, at the old Locatelli Winery, by Eugene Lokey and Keith Holfeldt.  In 1977 the Stortz family was brought in as participants due to the unexpected startup costs of the winery.

The Locatelli Winery ceased producing wine by the 1960s.  When Sunrise Winery started up, there were only a handful of vines left but the fermentation building still stood with both redwood and concrete vats.  The concrete vats were of larger capacity than needed and too deteriorated for use.  The redwood vats were taken apart, cleaned up then installed inside the concrete vats.  Small oak barrels were also brought in.  The first vintage was produced that first year in 1976.

During the summer of 1978, the house above the wine cellar caught on fire.  It only burned one wall of the fermentation building but the debris fell down into the cellar where barrels and bottled wine was stored.  Much of the bottled wine was destroyed by the firemen entering the building.  The tops of many barrels were burned to destruction but there was salvageable wine in barrel.  With the help of Martin Ray, Ridge, Woodside, and others, pumps, hoses, and portable tanks were set up to rescue the remaining half of the wine.

They repaired what they could in time for a very small crush that fall of 1978.  A little white wine, some Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon from Arata, and the 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon from Frey Vineyard were all that was made.  Ronald Stortz called the 1978 Frey Cabernet “probably one of the best we’ve ever made” during his 1993 interview now found at the D. R Bennon Trust Fund website.

True to history, the 1978 Sunrise Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Frey Vineyard, Mendocino is good!  At first I was underwhelmed but one hour after I double-decanted the bottle it was fully open.  No doubt there is good, clean flavor and attractive grip.  The 1977 Sunrise Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Arata Vineyard, Saratoga, Santa Clara Valley did not fare as well.  Whether it was weak fruit to begin with or torture from the fire and salvage effort, I do not know.  It did, however, evoke old-school cooperage like the old redwood vats it was fermented in.  I find that rather cool.

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1978 Sunrise Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Frey Vineyard, Mendocino
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 20 months in 50 gallon American oak barrels.  Bottled November 1980.  Alcohol 12.6%.  Dark black fruit in the mouth while initially firm, fleshes out with air.  After one hour, this initially firm wine shows good Cab flavor and still has structure that lends texture in the end.  What was a short finish lengthens and offers grip.  I would not have expected such good, clean flavor.  *** Now but will last.

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1977 Sunrise Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Arata Vineyard, Saratoga, Santa Clara Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 16 months in 50 gallon American oak barrels.  Bottled August 1979.  Alcohol 12.8%.  Funkier with vintage perfume and very ripe aromas on the nose.  Tart, fresh fruit greets in the mouth with both a greenhouse and old wood cooperage note.  Clearly learner than the 1978, it becomes more herbaceous and ultimately falls apart as the 1978 improves.  * Now drink up.

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New selections from Day and Ojai

The pair of wines in this post were recently recommended by Andy at MacArthur Beverages.  The 2016 Day, Zinfandel, Sonoma County is a recent project of Ehren Jordan.  It is a pure style of wine which could be called elegant for Zinfandel.  I would drink it as a refresher over the next summer or two.  The 2014 The Ojai Vineyard, Grenache, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Barbara County offers up a bit more complexity.  Given the age, I was a bit surprised that this is a serious wine in need of several more years in the cellar.  While it is of interest now, you will be best served by waiting.

2016 Day, Zinfandel, Sonoma County – $27
This wine is a blend of 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah. Pure framboise (jelly!) and other red fruits with an edge of acidity. The flavors sharpen by the finish where it becomes tart, almost tense with a little spice.  A clean, fresh, almost elegant rendition of Zinfandel.  *** Now – 2021.

2014 The Ojai Vineyard, Grenache, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Barbara County – $33
This wine is 100% Grenache.  Alcohol 13.5%. Dense with structure that is intertwined with the fruit. The textured, dry feeling in the mouth morphs into fine, almost bitter tannins by the finish. The wine is a touch savory with dense flavors of red and black fruits, firm acidity, and a pinon note. ***(*) 2021-2026.