Posts Tagged ‘Alsace’

An Array of German Wines

December 12, 2018 Leave a comment

My two plans for childcare did not materialize so I had less than the duration of a birthday party to taste through an untold number of German Rieslings. There was naturally Champagne and as we met up at Q by Peter Chang, a constantly refreshed supply of Sezchuan dishes. There were bags packed with bottles and even one guest brought an entire cooler of wine. I knew I would not taste through everything but I also knew I made the right decision to try.

Of the Riesling I managed to taste, there were many solid bottles with just a few duds.  Standouts include the 1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen which is the oldest wine of the evening.  It is in fine shape.  Lighter in weight, more floral and a fresher spectrum of flavors than the 1915 Hermannshof, Niersteiner Flaschenhahl Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen tasted a year ago.  An interesting comparison.  Both the 2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer and 2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel are spot on.  Both have energy from the acidity with the Adam richer and the Schaefer chalkier.  You might develop a preference but I love the difference.  Exciting wines to taste.  Finally, the 2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau is unctuous, mature, and racy.  I tasted this straight from the bottle right before I left and wished I could have drunk more.

Thanks to everyone for their generosity.  I know I missed several other wines but it was purely by accident.


NV Bourgeois-Diaz, ‘RS, Champagne Rose de Saignee
Imported by Selection Massale. Batch RS14, Disgorged 21/11/17. A cranberry color. Fresh on the nose as if smelling from the vat. The cranberry juice aroma has hints of apple mulling spice. It eventually smells more like apple pie. In the mouth is piercing acidity, spiced flavors, and a very dry personality. Killer nose so the dryness is a bit of a surprise.  Of strong personality but not for everyone.  Drink now while the aromas are preserved.  ***(*) Now.

2008 Henriot, Champagne Brut Millésimé Rosé
Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 12%. A fine vein of bubbles, yet strong acidity and toast, with watering acidity. This is pleasantly chalky with a clean finish. A youthful vintage but is building ripe, bottle-aged flavors with good body. ***(*) Now – 2023.

1996 Dom Perignon, Champagne P2
Finely scented. Strong acidity carries a mature, dry note. Very dry, clean, and light in fruit so opting more towards mineral.  Fresh, capable of long life, and for my taste, in need of further age. ***(*) 2023-2038.

1996 Philipponnat, Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses
Fine stuff! Biscuit on the nose with fresh, crisp mouthfeel, with bottle-age flavors.  In mid-life. **** Now – 2028.


1934 Hermannshof (Weingut Hermann Franz Schmitt), Niersteiner Kehr Riesling Auslese, Rheinhessen
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines. Imported by Wine Cellars. Alcohol 13%. The Don Stott Cellar. A light golden straw. Rounded body with flavors of green floral and tea convey the freshness of the bottle. A light to mid-weight wine it is supple with an old-school flavor and not quite leather finish. There is a gentle edge from nearly eight decades of age but in no way is this a challenge to drink.  Holds up well in the glass. **** Now but will last.

1961 Langenbach & Co, Zeller Schwarze Katz, Riesling, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by Milton S. Kronheim. Toast! Not Rated.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile, Alsace
Imported by Atherton Wine Imports. Alcohol 13%. A light straw color. Floral, greenhouse notes with some maturity. Very dry, tart and light with white fruit flavors on a razor edge. Elegant. *** Now – Whenever?

1981 Karthäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Sang Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 8%. A maturing edge with sour white berries, focus, and a bit of lively acidity. Not too interesting.  * Drink Up.

2012 Willi Schaefer, Himmelreich GG, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 12%. Zip in the start with textured, white fruit, lemons, and a tooty-fruity flavored finish.  Not my favorite style.  *** Now – 2028.

2012 Thomas Haag, Schloss Lieser, Jufer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
A Rudi Wiest selection imported by Cellars International. Alcohol 7%. A medium straw color. Mid-weight with ripe yellow flavors that drape over the tongue. The lower acidity seemingly adds more weight to the yellow fruit.  Good intensity of flavor but not the most verve.  *** Now – 2028. 

2009 A. J. Adam, Dhron Hofberg, Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Shipped by J & H Selbach. A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 7.5%. A medium yellow gold color. Lovely. Textured acidity exists with ripe fruit in energetic balance. There is supple, seductive weight. Richer than the subsequent bottle of Willi Schaefer.  **** Now – 2038.

2009 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5, Mosel
Imported by Wine Cellars. Lovely with even finer texture to the zippy acidity driven flavor. An attractive start becomes drier through the finish. A lovely wine, beautiful acidity, with chalky finish .**** Now – 2038

2006 Dönnhoff, Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by Julienne Importing. Unctuous, not as lively as it is honied with hints of tea spice and suggestions of ripe tannins on the gum. It is flavorful with a developing tart, citrus note. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2001 Dönnhoff, Norheimer Kirschkeck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Turning amber. Rounder and drier in the mouth with herbs, minerals, and honey. A long finish. ***(*) Now – 2032.

2005 Weingut Max Ferd. Richeter, Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. Black tea mixes with weighty flavors and moderate acidity. There is a mineral vein.  *** Now – 2023.

2007 Fritz Haag, Braunenberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Finely articulated acidity, sweet and soft, with just enough texture. The ripe fruit even takes on some stones. A good sweet wine.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2004 Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Braunberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
A David Shiverick Selection. Imported by Langdon-Shiverick. A similar flavor profile and density as the Fritz Haag. It is almost oily and racy which I like very much. ***(*) Now – 2028.

2017 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Lars Carlberg Selection. Imported by Williams Corner Wine. Alcohol 7%. Very pale in color. An elegant, floral nose, delicate and fine. In the mouth delicate floral flavors. This is a clean wine with a fine acidic edge though slightly short in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2001 Robert Weil, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese, Rheingau
Imported by Premier Cru. Alcohol 8%. Unctuous and mature with a sweet tea note, racy vein, and quickly building complexity.  Lovely.  **** Now – 2038.


2005 La Pousse d’Or, Pommard 1er Cru Les Jarollieres
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Decanted into a metal jug which seems to have afflicted the wine.  Not Rated.

Bastardo & Mostcatel: the dinner wines 2011 – 1959

January 22, 2018 Leave a comment

After working through 20 different Madeira at Bastardo & Moscatel: The Tasting 1927 – 1830 it was time for the transition to dinner service.  As always there is an array of Champagne to work through. A pair old label and very tasty NV Krug, Champagne Brut Grand Cuvée, an oxidized 1985 Salon, Champagne Brut Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, a substantive 1996 Bollinger, Champagne La Grande Année, 1998 Pierre Peters, Champagne Brut Le Mesnil Blanc des Blancs, and 1982 Tattinger, Champagne Brut Millesime. There is an interesting trio of Dom: 1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon, a magnum of good 1988 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rose, and an old survivor the 1959 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon.


To transition from Champagne to red wine is a very good bottle of 1989 Clos St Hune, Riesling Vendanges Tardives Hors Choix of which I took note.  Then came a grab bag of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, and Portuguese wines.  I missed out on tasting a number of bottles but then I did manage to receive some healthy pours of some great wine!  Please find my general impressions below.

1989 Clos St Hune, Riesling Vendanges Tardives Hors Choix
Moderately sweet with Riesling fruit this is well balanced and dense. There is a lovely floral note.

1967 Chateau Latour, Pauillac
In fine shape, one gentleman described as the “perfect luncheon claret”. I agree, dark fruit, cedar, fresh acidity, and easy to drink.

1971 Chateau Latour, Pauillac en magnum
Shipped by Nathaniel Johnston & Fils.  Wow, in fine shape and drinking very well right now.  Dark fruits, wood box, and yes, graphite.

1990 Chateau Latour, Pauillac
Shipped by SEMAV. Imported by Ginday Imports. Alcohol 12.5%. A beautiful color, lighter than the 1989 Haut-Brion. Aromatic on the nose and flavorful in the mouth. The wine is thick in a sense, textured, and still developing yet the minerals and graphite are engaging right now.

1989 Chateau Haut-Brion, Graves
Shipped by Armand Roux. Attractive animale nose. Wow in the mouth, mineral, dense, and sexy with fat coated flavors. The animale quality persists in the flavor making it complete. This is only just starting to open up.

1959 Berry Bros & Rudd, Chateau Montrose, St. Estephe
Imported by Marine Trading Consultants. This is great and even better than my two chateau bottled experiences. The fruit is more concentrated and sweet. Clearly well-stored.

2011 Remoissenet, Montrachet Le Montrachet
Starting to mature.

1985 Bonneau du Martray, Corton Charlemagne
Yeasty and rich in the mouth with apple orchard flavors. The acidity makes it crisp and tense with a citric note.

1991 La Pousse D’Or, Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Bousse D’Or Monopole en magnum
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 14%. This is entering maturity with vibrant red fruit over underlying blue fruit flavors. I am happy to discover the fine evidence of maturity.

1970 Avery’s, Domaine Gros-Renaudot, Richebourg Grand Cru
This is a gentle wine with an introduction of sweet, concentrated fruit infused with fat. The fruit is still supported by structure which leaves a sweet, wood note.

1990 Pierre Bouree Fils, Clos de la Roche Grand Cru
Selected and shipped by The Wine Society. Sweeter and softer with good depth of flavor. The wood notes are infused with a sweet finish.

1996 Jose Alfonso e Filhos, Rogenda, Veiras
Alcohol 13%. Fine ripe blue and black fruit, ripe wood texture, and spice. Nicely structured.

1990 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage
A good nose which is earth and animale. It is barely entering maturity. Right now it is perfectly balanced with the structure well-integrated. Plenty of grip.

Before, during, and after: other wines at the Madeira tasting

January 16, 2018 Leave a comment

I have come to the carefully considered position that Champagne is required at a Madeira tasting.  The aroma of Madeira always fills the room but a glass of Champagne makes everyone jolly before sitting down.  A bottle served while service is performed on the second flight refreshes the palate.  Finally, a bottle at the end resets the palate for dinner wines.  Sadly, two of our four bottles of Champagne were not as they should be.  Fortunately, there were plenty of other bottles to occupy our interests.


2000 Krug, Champagne Vintage Brut
Imported by Envoyer Imports.  Alcohol 12%.  Good, integrated bubbles with focused flavors of sappy fruit.  It finished with tart apples and acidity.  Young with good promise.  **** Now – 2033.

1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 12%.  Some corrosion around the cork.  A nutty straw color.  The nose is mature and oxidative, a bit more advanced than it should be.  In the mouth are fine, textured bubbles, dry apple orchard flavors, and exotic spices.  The bubbles quickly dissipate.  Completely drinkable but this bottle is probably heat damaged.  Not Rated.


NV Jacques Selosse, Champagne Brut Substance
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Disgorged 20 November 2007.  Alcohol 12.5%.  An attractive, rather mature color.  There are hints of yellow fruit in the mouth with yeast notes, and oxidative, tangy apple orchard notes in the finish.  It is a little foxy and earthy with tons of acidity and a sharp finish.  Not right.  Not Rated.


NV Ulysse Collin, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Lot No. 10.  Disgorged March 2014.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A light straw color.  The very fine bubbles are perfectly integrated with piercing acidity and some tropical fruit.  This wine has power with lemons and other citrus which puckers the mouth in the middle.  The bubbles mix with baking spices leaving chalk in the finish and a long, textured aftertaste.  Bracing stuff best with food.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2008 Trimbach, Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile, Alsace
Imported by Espirit du Vin.  Powerful, dry, white fruit flavors of apple and citrus with a good vein of acidity.  Certainly a food wine.  Tart overall but there is some Riesling flesh.  This will be long-lived.   *** Now – 2028.

2014 Escarpment, Te Rehua Pinot Noir
Imported by Meadowbank Estates.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A black cherry, Pinot nose.  In the mouth are focused, fresh, and deep flavors of attractive black fruit which is almost bitter.  Watering acidity carries black cherry and licorice towards the dry and herbal finish where tannins are left on the gums.  The long aftertaste is clean. ***(*) Now – 2023.

2003 Chapoutier, Hermitage Le Pavillon
Shipped by Allyn & Scott Wines.  Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  On the second night this is a seamless wine of brooding strength.  The savory and salty start builds incredible depth of flavor backed by tactile sensation of extract.  This is an inky, mouth coating wine with licorice, floral flavors, and new oak.  This is an intense, modern wine.  **** Now – 2033.

1982 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
Shipped by Andre Labarda.  Imported by Majestic Wines & Spirits.  A mature nose with leather aromas.  It is off to a savory start with this medium bodied wine.  There is a nice mix of fruit, both red and black, along with hints of floral perfume in the finish.  I would drink these gentle wines now.  *** Now.

1977 Cassayre-Forni Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This offers a good nose of black fruit and leather.  In the mouth is a linear delivery of black fruit, integrity acidity, and some greenhouse notes.  Best within one hour.  *** Now.

1977 Simi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
At first this was gentle with foxy, simple flavors.  But after an hour in the decanter it became mouth filling with darker fruit and a touch of greenhouse.  Good weight.  ***(*) Now.

1980s Beaucastel and Burgundy at the Woodberry Kitchen

Darryl and Nancy organized a small wine dinner at the Woodberry Kitchen in order to partake in ramps and old Châteauneuf du Pape.  Roland, Richard, and I joined them one fine evening this week.  Fortunately we had extra bottles in tow for this evening was marked by an unfortunate series of off and underperforming bottles.  A shame then that two vintages of 1983 and 1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, from two different sources were off.  A 1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape had a bad cork and despite a heroic effort by the wine to correct itself, it remained ultimately marred.  The 1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe was more advanced than I had expected.

Thus the white wine highlight of the evening included the fine 1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace which still needs air for full pleasure.  It has a kiss of petrol followed by nuts and lively acidity.

For the red wines my favorites include a 1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny.  This represents a smaller and gentler example of an old-school mature Burgundy.  I enjoyed my glass and would happily have this as a house wine.  The mature Burgundy set the stage for a well-cared bottle of 1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The last time I tasted this wine, my glass came from the dregs.  This time I had a proper pour which I kept around for an hour or so.  Good stuff!  This deep wine should drink at its peak for several more years.  In complete contrast the 1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape is yet to reach full maturity, instead it offers brighter, fruitier red flavors.  It will not achieve the depth of the 1981 but it does have that Beaucastel familiarity.


2011 Champy, Chassagne-Montrachet
Imported by Schneider’s of Capitol Hill.  Alcohol 11%.  A golden straw color greets.  The flinty nose makes way to a rounded, slight dense start backed by glycerin.  There are yeast and chalk flavors but the wine lacks verve from enough acidity.  ** Now.

NV Bereche, Vallee 66 Mois de Cave, Champagne
This wine is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay.  Bottled 07/07/2010.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is slightly oxidized with aromas of apple orchard.  The bubbles quickly become creamy with a fine vein of prickle.  The flavors have strength with chalky, fruit, and a slightly bitter finish.  It tastes fully mature.  *** Now.

1985 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Riesling Spatlese Abtsberg, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Consigned from a private source to Zachy’s 2016 Rieslingfeier auction. Imported by Wine Cellars LTD.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose is very aromatic and smells exactly like pure gasoline.  There is a fruity start backed by the petrol note a bit of grip then the wine completely fades off.  There is a strange lack of acidity.  Not Rated.

1992 Zind Humbrecht, Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St. Urbain, Alsace
This also sports a bit of petrol on the nose.  In the mouth is a nutty, bitter, and coconut start.  This wine has ample acidity providing a lively start then drier middle before the acidity returns in the end.  With air it fleshes out a bit to bring the acidity in balance.  *** Now but will last.

1982 Thorin, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, Chambolle-Musigny
Acquired from private collection by Acker Merrall & Condit.  Alcohol 11.9%-13.9%.  There is sweet fruit on the nose then violets and attractive, sweaty leather aromas.  In the mouth are sweet flavors that coat the tongue and a slight vibrancy.  A small example of a well-tasting old Burgundy.  *** Now.

1981 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Robert Haas Selections imported by Vineyard Brands.  This is in fine condition with sweet aromas and wood box complexity.  In the mouth are gently sweet flavors of perfumed strawberry which eventually take on fat.  There are pervasive flavors of leather, animale notes, blood, and an old-school perfumed aftertaste. **** Now – 2023.

1981 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape
No signs of seepage but cork was loose with a bit of wine on top of it.  Prominent volatile acidity and band-aids on the nose.  With air it cleans up a bit but can’t shape it.  The wine is fruity, supple, and weight but is marred by a band-aid flavor.  Not Rated.

1986 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  Lighter in color than the 1981.  In the mouth are surprisingly young, reddish fruit flavors, a grippy nature, and brighter acidity.  This wine has both more structure and youthful grip.  It is not yet at full maturity but is gaining fat.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

1978 Chateau Cos D’Estournel, Saint-Estephe – $18.95
Shipped by Les Vieux Celliers.  Imported by  The Stacole Co.  Dried banana on the nose.  In the mouth this is more advanced with red fruit, bananas, old greenhouse infused flavors, and a short finish.  ** Now.

1983 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhäuser, Reisling Auslese Abstberg  No. 125, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Acquired from a private collection by Chambers Street Wines.  Imported by Schenk USA.  Alcohol 9%.  Signs of seepage and the cork dropped in the bottle.  A beautiful orange color and attractive, scented marmalade nose.  Sadly it is undrinkable.  Not Rated.

Mature wines at an annual dinner

December 13, 2016 Leave a comment

Lou and I gather the families every year for a pre-holiday dinner featuring mature wines.  This year we were joined by Darryl and Nancy for whom mature wine is a bit of an obsession.  To accompany the dinner of crab cakes, coq au vin blanc, and leg of lamb we had planned nothing more than opening a random series of mature red wines.  This was then surrounded by a Champagne and white wine starter eventually to be concluded with a dessert wine.

The Champagne was in the form of the impressively boxed 1990 Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Vintage Cave Privée.  This is surprisingly fruity on the nose with precise flavors in the mouth that are supported by robust bubbles.  There is only a touch of yeast and the sense of maturity really takes many hours to develop.  It was a good showing.

The white wines moved us onto experimental territory.  The 2008 The Scholium Project, Naucratis, Lost Slough Vineyards is Verdelho on steroids.  Unfortunately the 16.3% alcohol breaks through towards the finish as pure alcohol.  No matter how seductive and correct the nose is, I could not get past the burning sensation in my throat.  The 1998 Hugel, Riesling Jubilee Hugel, Alsace is only made in the best vintages.  You get that sense from the lifted aromas on the nose but in the mouth the wine is starting to tire.  Switching gears once again, the 1995 Pierre Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres  is a wine for mature Chardonnay drinkers.  The apple orchard flavors and bits of subtlety speak of maturation but the fat draws you back to peak drinking.


1990 Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Vintage Cave Privée
Imported by Moet Hennessy.  Disgorged October 2008.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is quite pretty with a surprising amount of berry fruit.  The fruit continues in the mouth but soon picks up lemons and baking spices with a touch of yeast.  With air the flavors develop towards maturity.  The wine has good precision to the flavors which are enlivened by fine, robust bubbles.  This is more of a fruity wine than yeasty/biscuit wine.  **** Now – 2026.


2008 The Scholium Project, Naucratis, Lost Slough Vineyards
Alcohol 16.3%.  There is a rich, nutty, creamy, and seductive nose.  In the mouth is a rich mouthful followed by toast and baking spices.  The wine finishes spicy with a sharp, alcoholic jolt in the end.  It starts of promising but is unpleasant by the end.  *** for the nose but for drinkability * Now.

1998 Hugel, Riesling Jubilee Hugel, Alsace
Alcohol 12.5%.  There is an attracted, lifted nose with lemons and herbs in the short finish.  Interesting to smell but tiring out.  ** Now.

1995 Pierre Morey, Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres 
Alcohol 13.5%.  The golden amber color speaks of maturity.  In the mouth is an moderately dense wine with apple orchard flavors and spot-on acidity.  It is clearly at its peak, with a suggestion of subtlety, that is briefly waylaid by the fat in the finish.  *** Now.

While Lou and I finished our dinner preparations we required some red wine.  Together we had both stood up a dozen or so bottles to try which we arrayed on a desk.  A fine looking 1976 Bitouzet-Prieur, Pommard was selected at random.  I was curious about this wine, Pommard being the first mature Burgundy I ever drunk.  This bottle is from the first year Neal Rosenthal began working with the estate.  The significant amount of muddy looking mold under the capsule foretells disaster in my experience.  While not completely gone the dusty, dirty aroma pervaded the flavor.  Down the drain it went and out came the cork on the half bottle of 1969 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  From the first released vintage, this wine was in good, though fully mature shape.  Peter Newton and Michael Stone founded Sterling Vineyards in 1964 with Ric Forman as the winemaker.  Both Peter Newton and Ric Forman went on to found Newton Vineyards once Sterling was sold to Seagram in 1977.  So this is an historic wine in two senses.  It proved a solid experience though the aroma of bananas and sweet rather than lively aspect of flavor prevented it from being excellent.  No regrets though, for one should try as many 1960s Californian wine as possible, for it is an historic period.


1976 Bitouzet-Prieur, Pommard
Shipped by Neal Rosenthal.  Imported by Select Vineyards LTD.  Alcohol 11-14%.  It smells of dust and dirt.  There are some dark flavors in the mouth but the dusty, dirt aspect is less than subtle. An off bottle.  Not Rated.


1969 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (375mL)
Alcohol 12%.  The nose reminds me of red fruit and bananas.  In the mouth are clean flavors of red fruit which are sweet.  With air this becomes quite a mouthful. The assertive acidity brings forth a burst, of sweet flavor.  It leaves the impression that this was a larger, slightly sweet wine in youth.  *** Now.

With dinner we sat down to some serious wine.  The glass bottle of the 1961 Drouhin, Domaine General Marey-Monge, Romanee St-Vivant was covered with cellar grime and label damage from racking.  It is one of those bottles whose provenance was lost over the years or decades.  There was a fair bit of ullage but the color through the green glass, though light, reminded me of watered down cranberries which is a good indicator.  With a gorgeous nose and lively flavors, there is much on offer with this wine.  If I nit-pick, it does not have the harmony of the 1964 Momessin, Clos du Tart but it has personality.  I really like this type of wine.  Just one year younger the 1962 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac had very top-shoulder fill just below the neck.  This was my first experience with Lafite.  Yes, I have sadly written about more older vintages than the number of bottles tasted.  Still this proved a great start.  The nose is great, unique, and worth spending some time on.  In the mouth this is a fully mature wine with just a touch of fat and graphite.

I admit the 1945 Chateau Calon-Segur looked horrible.  As you can see by the picture, it still does, with the label almost falling off after lying in my equally old Eurocave.  Inside the glass is what counts so the top-shoulder fill, dark color, and firm cork waylaid some fear.  All of that aside, being of the 1945 vintage and bottled by John Harvey & Sons of Bristol, where I spent my sophomore year abroad, warranted trying it out.  The color is the darkest of all opened that night.  The nose and the flavors are marked by eucalyptus with bright, tart, red fruit.  In the end it is a relic.

With calls for more fruity wine I selected the 1979 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The fill was excellent and the capsule contemporary so I suspect this is an ex-domaine release.  I cannot imagine someone would fake a modest vintage of Chateauneuf du Pape.  I liked it a lot.  To me it offers a balanced, mature Chateauneuf.

I recently wrote how I prefer equally old dessert wine following an old wine tasting.  I am happy to report that the 2009 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes marks me wrong.  It is incredibly complex and flavorful both on the nose and in the mouth.  This is an outstanding wine.


1961 Drouhin, Domaine General Marey-Monge, Romanee St-Vivant
Imported by Dreyfus, Ashby, & Co.  This is almost light brown in color.  The nose, though, is gorgeous with aromas of cranberry and vintage perfume underpinned by an earthy note.  With air it develops both bacon aromas and hints of smoke.  In the mouth the vintage flavor tastes sweeter with air.  This is a vibrant wine with fine acidity.  As should be the case, this old Burgundy develops with air, improving at first then maintaining its lovely state until finish.  **** Now but will last for a decade.


1962 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac
Shipped by Mestrezat-Preller.  Imported by White Company Ltd.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  The nose is aromatic and beautiful from the very first pour.  It sports sweet, unique aromas of blood and iron.  In the mouth are bright, clean red fruit which follows the nose.  There are hints of fat and hints of dry graphite.  This is drinking at its peak.  **** Now.


1945 Chateau Calon-Segur, Saint-Estephe
Bottled by John Harvey & Sons of Bristol.  The color is remarkably dark but of proper garnet brown.  There is a fresh nose of eucalyptus and dust.  Similar eucalyptus mixes with bright, tart red fruit carried through with watering acidity.  There is even some structure.    *(*) Now.


1979 Chateau Cabrieres, Chateauneuf du Pape
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose smells of a library and garrigue.  This wine peaks after 10 minutes providing an attractive blend of blue and red fruit, garrigue, and leather.  Everything is in balance with this properly mature wine.  It still suggests at ripe fruit.  *** Now.


2009 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes
The nose is amazing and almost effervescent as the aromas fly out of the glass.  In the mouth is a core of butterscotch flavors, ripe pineapples, and sweet cream.  This racy wine is already, impressively complex.  Why not drink it now?  ****(*) Now – 2036.


An excellent trio of cru Beaujolais

September 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Phil recently stocked the shelves with a wide range of wines, including the three bottles of Gamay featured in this post.  Given previous experience it is no surprise that I really enjoyed the 2014 D. Coquelet, Chiroubles.  This is a pure, captivating wine that should continue to improve through the winter.  As a completely different example of Chiroubles, the 2013 Fabien Collonge, L’Aurore des Cotes, Chiroubles is blacker and deeper in fruit with more obvious structure. This could be a good gateway wine for those who prefer riper wines.  Moving to Chenas, the 2013 Pascal Aufranc, Vignes de 1939, Chenas is produced from rather old vines. I recommend you let this develop into the winter or longer but right now the orange-citrus backed red fruit is really cool!  Try them all!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.


2014 D. Coquelet, Chiroubles – $20
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 11%.  The varietal Gamay nose was pure and articulate becoming even more perfumed with air.  In the mouth, the slightly tart red and black fruit was lighter; framed by structure and enlivened by watering acidity.  With extended air the lovely balance was captivating, showing off the perfumed flavor throughout.  The mineral flavored middle mad way to a satisfying, textured finish, and the slightest yeast hint in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2018.


2013 Fabien Collonge, L’Aurore des Cotes, Chiroubles – $17
Imported by Constantine Wine. This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol 13%. The nose bore black fruit that was almost plummy and certainly deeper in aroma.  The nose was matched by almost-round, mouth filling Gamay flavors that began light but moved to a ripe middle and dry finish.  There was acidity on the tongue from the start and eventually perfume.  The bit of structured, dry tannins suggest this will develop over the short-term.  *** Now – 2020.


2013 Pascal Aufranc, Vignes de 1939, Chenas – $17
Imported by Constantine Wine.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from a vineyard planted in 1939.  Alcohol 12.5%. The nose remained subtle with dark aromas.  In the mouth were tart red fruit flavors backed by some orange citrus and a little bit of weight.  It eventually took on some cranberry-grape flavors and exhibited the potential for very short-term development.  **(*) 2016-2019.

Tasting wines from Bourgogne to Priorat with Lou

Lou came over last week for another casual tasting.  I had opened up the 2012 Domaine Belle, Les Terres Blanches, Crozes Hermitage Blanc as Jenn and I prepared the table.  White Rhone wines are new territory for me.  There was nothing but pleasure when we each tried our first taste.  On the first night it was more vibrant and textured whereas on the second night it was smooth and mature.  If you are looking for a new white wine then you must pick up a bottle.


2012 Domaine Belle, Les Terres Blanches, Crozes Hermitage Blanc – $26
Imported by DS Trading Co. This wine is a blend of 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne sourced from vines on soils of clay and limestone.  The fruit was fermented in 20% new oak barrels, 50% one-year old oak barrels and 30% in stainless steel vats then aged for 11 months in the same vessels.  Alcohol 13%. There was textured, slightly lively white fruit at the start. The smooth flavors matched the nut aspect that was balanced by noticeable acidity on the tongue. There was a gentle finish of stones followed by a persistent aftertaste. The wine seemed young on the first night but was perfectly mature on the following night.  ***(*) Now-2020.

Blind Flight

Lou supplied this flight in brown bags with his only revealing clue that they were all pre-2005.  Blind tasting is fun since I am not embarrassed by my guesses.  That the first wine was Riesling was fairly obvious but my conclusion of it being an old New York state wine was off the mark and continent.  The 1997 Albert Mann, Riesling, Schlossberg Grand Cru showed a bit of a split personality with its youthful start and finish of beyond-mature flavors.  It is a solid wine that is best drunk up.  The fresh, articulate nose of the 2000 Chateau du Going de Saint-Fiacre, Comte de Saint-Hubert, Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Sevre et Maine did not prepare me for smooth, nutty flavors in the mouth.  On the first night I thought this a great wine to smell and taste with some evocations of the sea.  On the second night the nose became too funky for me.  This current release is only $20 so I will grab another bottle to try again.  Worst case, drink this wild wine on the very first night!  I guessed everything wrong about the 2001 Claude Dugat, Bourgogne.  For a basic Bourgogne it is rather serious stuff.  It responded well to air on the first night where it showed a bit of everything.


1997 Albert Mann, Riesling, Schlossberg Grand Cru, Alsace –
Imported by Weygandt/Metzler.  This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from vines on soils of granite.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a light to medium golden amber. It smelled of mature Riesling with a hint of stones. It had a more crisp start that carried young flavors. These morphed into mature flavors with some old wood and still some ripe, tannic grip in the short finish. On the second evening it had a good mouthfeel with more prominent old flavors, dried herbs, and a tart finish.  ** Now.


2000 Chateau du Going de Saint-Fiacre, Comte de Saint-Hubert, Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Sevre et Maine – $20
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne sourced from 100+ year old vines.  The wine was aged sur lie.  Alcohol 12%. There was a fresh, articulate nose of white fruit that on the second night was funky, dusty, and smelled of the sea. In the mouth, the almond flavors were smooth, engagingly floral, and mixed with white fruit. The wine was cool in nature with integrated acidity and a shorter, watery finish. With air the flavors became cheesy. *** Now.


2001 Claude Dugat, Bourgogne –
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from parcels on Gevrey.  It was fermented in concrete vats then aged for 14 months in used neutral French oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. The color was a medium garnet. The initial aromas were high-pitched before revealing some deep fruit. In the mouth the hint of Morello cherries were tart yet had ripeness before building racy mineral notes. The wine was lighter in the finish with flavors of tart berries, some structure, old perfume, and dry black flavors. The tannins remained on the gums.  *** Now-2018.

Priorat and Montsant Flight

This flight was organized around two new arrivals of Mas del Camperol.  Produced by Celler Mas Garrian this is the same winery that produced the excellent 2005 Clos Severj, Priorat that I reviewed in my post Two Great Spanish Wines.  Priorat and Montsant are neighboring regions so I added the 2004 Celler Laurona, Montsant to the mix.  All three of these wines benefited from air and I thought tasted better on the second night.  The 2004 Celler Mas Garrian, Mas del Camperol, Priorat was the most interesting of the bunch.  It exhibited consistently greater complexity, poise, and will continue to develop for years.  The Priorat sun comes through at first but it does balance out.  The 2003 Celler Mas Garrian, Mas del Camperol, Priorat  exhibited brighter, cleaner flavors with notes of dried herbs.   Tasted alongside the 2004 the reduced complexity is noticeable so I would drink this alone.  I agree with Lou that the 2004 Celler Laurona, Montsant was the more coarse wine of the three.  It did come together on the second night where it had some complexity as well as old wood notes.  I do not think it will make old bones like the 2004 Mas del Camperol so why not drink it on a crisp spring night!


2003 Celler Mas Garrian, Mas del Camperol, Priorat – $37
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.   This wine is a blend of blend of 30% Garnacha, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Carinena, and 15% Syrah from the estate’s older vineyards that was aged for 13 months in a mixture of new and used French and American oak.  Alcohol 15%. The nose revealed Kirsch and dried herbs. In the mouth this flavorful wine was grippy with building power and brighter acidity. With air, the racy cherry flavors continues. The aromas and flavors were consistent throughout, leaning towards the clean side. The structure was noticeable on the gums as the aftertaste had good length. *** Now-2025.


2004 Celler Mas Garrian, Mas del Camperol, Priorat – $39
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carinena, and Syrah from the estate’s older vineyards that was aged for 13 months in a mixture of new and used French and American oak.  Alcohol 15%. The initially ripe, rasinated fruit became more attractive with aromas of ripe, musky, generous fruit. There were deep fruit flavors, some maturity, and greater complexity with air. There was good structure for development. **** Now-2025+.


2004 Celler Laurona, Montsant –
Imported by Europvin.  This wine is a blend of of 50% Grenache, 25% Merlot, 15% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14%. The nose was a little plummy with some funk. It did not have as much depth and came across as coarse but with air it became less forward with better balance. There was decent complexity, some old wood but it still seemed fresh. It maintained a coarse nature with less strength. ***(*) Now-2025.


Tasting Wine At MacArthur Beverages with Charles of Williams Corner Wine

June 7, 2013 1 comment

Yesterday I took some time off from work to meet Charles Gendrot of Williams Corner Wine at MacArthur Beverages.  He had arranged with Phil to pour a number of samples.  I knew we would taste the 2010 Domaine du Banneret, Chateauneuf du Pape but I did not realize he had almost a case of wine stashed in his black bag.  Williams Corner Wine not only distributes a subset from Louis/Dressner Selections but they also import an interesting variety of wines from France, Italy, and Spain.  A quick search of this blog gives an insight into this diversity (results of search for “Williams Corner”).  The four white wines were fun to taste with the Chateau du Coing de Saint-Fiacre showing good texture, the Eric Texier very bright and fresh, the Tami showing well with persistent flavors, and the Zidarich unique.  If you want an introduction to a different type of white wine than try the Tami and Zidarich.  Of the red wines the recently bottled Fatalone is a great choice when served chilled on a humid Washington, DC evening.  The recently arrived 2011 Bernard Baudry was showing quite well but the 2010 Domaine des Banneret stole the show.  It is a young wine which will develop.  Right now it has finesse and invites you to keep returning to the glass.  Once the 2010 hits the shelves I shall taste it alongside the 2009.  Please find my brief notes below.


2007 Chateau du Coing de Saint-Fiacre, L’Ancestrale, Muscadet Sevre et Maine –
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This fruit for this wine is sourced from 60-80 year old vines, is fermented in concrete without temperature control then spends four to five years on the lees without stirring.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a fruity, textured nose.  The flavors were a little ripe in the mouth showing more focus.  The flavors became drier with some tannins coming out and integrating with the acidity.  There were apple-like tart white fruit flavors, a hint of lees in the finish, and good texture.


2012 Eric Texier, Blanc, Cotes du Rhone –
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is mostly Grenache Blanc.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose was aromatic with berries then tropical and floral fruit.  In the mouth there was bright, focused floral white fruit, drier flavors, and a fresh personality.  It was stone-like in nature.


2011 Tami, Grillo, Sicily –
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a waxy, almost nutty note which was clearly different.  In the mouth there was fresh, bright, waxy white fruit which followed the nose.  There was some density to the flavors, acidity, and a good persistent aftertaste.  Enjoyable.


2010 Zidarich, Vitovska, Venezia Giulia –
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Vitovska sourced from vines 6-30 years of age.  The fruit was destemmed then fermented in open vats without temperature control using indigenous yeasts.  It was then aged for two years in medium and large Slavonian oak barrels.  Alcohol 12%.  This orange wine had a different aromatic nose of potpourri.  The mouth followed the nose with clean and dry fruit, dried floral flavors, stones, perfume, and lots of texture.  Not extreme in any manner.


2012 Fatalone, Teres, Primitivo, Puglia –
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light cranberry.  The nose bore bright berries.  In the mouth the wine was much light with crisp flavors of cranberry and raspberry with an earthy touch.  It maintained crispness leaving a very fine, grapey impression on the lips and in the mouth.  Quite young in nature.  Works well when cool.


2011 Klein, Pinot Noir, St-Hippolyte, Alsace –
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  The nose was finely textured with red fruit. In the mouth there were firm flavors of red and earthy fruit presented in a more austere manner.  Might need a little time to open up.


2012 Jean-Paul Brun, Domaine des Terres Dorees, L’Ancien, Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais –
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12%.  The light nose bore pepper aromas along with firm red and blue fruit.  In the mouth there was almost tart flavors of grapey red fruit followed by some firm black fruit.  It was a little juicy, tart, and had acidity.  The finish was puckering with a citric personality which matched the emerging structure.  Give it a few months in the cellar.


2011 Domaine Bernard Baudry, “Domaine”, Chinon –
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  There was a good nose of old perfume.  The flavors were both fruity and ethereal with old perfume mixing with red and black fruit.  It had a lighter personality but maintained a chewy concentration.  Showing quite well even compared to 2010.


2010 Domaine du Banneret, Chateauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre with some vines 80+ years old.  It  fermented in small tanks then aged for 16 months in barrels and oak ovals.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was interesting, expressive, light but engaging.  In the mouth there was finesse with slowly building flavors, black fruit, fresh acidity, and mild ripeness.  I agree with the old-school comment.  This is a young, different wine which I will clearly taste again once it is at the store.


2010 La Stoppa, Trebbiolo Rosso, Emilia Rosso –
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a bretty nose of red and black fruit.  In the mouth there was a ripe hit of flavors then spritz on the tongue.  The ripe, grippy flavors creep up.

The 2013 Robert Kacher Selections Spring Portfolio Tasting: The Winemakers


Earlier this week Lou and I attended the 2013 Robert Kacher Selections Spring Portfolio Tasting in Washington, DC.  The tasting was held at the historic Patterson Mansion on Dupont Circle which is the clubhouse for the 19th century Washington Club.  There was a large number of wines available to taste representing that of several dozen domains mostly from all over France.  Between the two of us we tasted many wines and wrote down many notes.  For the first post I have decided to concentrate on three domains whose winemakers were present at the tasting.  I first met Diane de Puymorin of Château d’Or et de Gueules and Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart of Domaine Ehrhart at last year’s portfolio tasting.  You may read about last year’s event in my series of posts The Robert Kacher Spring 2012 Portfolio Tasting.  This year I met Jean-Hubert Lebreton of Domaine des Rochelles.  I spent extra time with each of them learning more about the wines I was tasting and the domains they came from.


Château d’Or et de Gueules


Château d’Or et de Gueules is an older estate which was purchased by Diane de Puymorin in 1998.  Originally named Domaine de la Petite Cassagne she carved out a new estate named after her family crest.  She planted an additional 30 acres of vines made up of some Syrah and all of the white varietals.  She kept the ten hectares of 80 year old Carignan and nine hectares of 90 year old Mourvedre.  She has also planted some more Mourvedre.  The vineyards are located in the far south-east of Costières de Nîmes so they are influenced by a maritime climate.  Diane feels this gives her wines a certain freshness.  The old-vines are goblet trained and all of the vines are on soils of round pebbles.  She planted grass between the vines for competition but this was not really necessary for her vineyards.  She is two years into the organic certification process so she does not use any chemicals.  She uses fruit from her old-vine Mourvedre and Carignan in all of her wines.  She employs carbonic maceration for the Carignan because it is naturally too tannic so she wants to make it more elegant and avoid over extraction.

2010 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Les Cimels, Costières de Nîmes –
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 30% old-vine Carignan, and 10% Grenache.  The varietals were fermented separately, the Carignan underwent carbonic maceration.  It was aged in tank.  There was a light, expressive nose.  In the mouth there was some initial vigor before citric, red fruit mixed with plenty of tannins.  There was some gentle acidity.

2011 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Trassegum, Costières de Nîmes –
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 25% old-vine Carignan, and 25% old-vine Mourvedre.  The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration.  The wine was aged one year in barrel and some time in tank.  The nose bore higher-toned aromas and berries.  In the mouth there were old-school flavors of red fruit.  The tannins eventually smoothed out as red raspberry flavors came out along with some textured, ripe tannins.

2011 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costières de Nîmes –
This wine is 100% Carignan of which 80% underwent Carbonic maceration and 20% by pigeage.  It was then aged for six months in used oak barrels.  The flavors were perfumed with grip and a little red candy.  There was a graphite structure with drying tannins in the aftertaste.

2009 Château d’Or et de Gueules, Cuvee La Bolida, Costières de Nîmes –
This wine is a blend of 90% old-vine Mourvedre and 10% Grenache which was aged for 18 months in French oak.  There was a subtle but interesting nose.  In the mouth the flavors were dense, smooth and approachable.  The structure slowly came out and mixed with somewhat juicy acidity.  There was a little berry perfume in the finish along with good tannins.  Clearly, my favorite of the quartet.

Domaine Ehrhart (Domaine Saint-Rémy in Europe)


Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart were present at the tasting.  Domaine Ehrhart first started producing Chardonnay in 1981.  It is not allowed in the other wines so all of the production is use in their Crément d’Alsace.  The first white wine I tasted, the Pinot Auxerrois is sourced from a vineyard near the Chardonnay vineyard.  Pinot Auxerrois produces smaller berries than Pinot Blanc.  This fact combined with the granite soils provides a wine of good complexity.  This wine spends 6-8 weeks on the lees.  The 2011 vintages was completely sold out so to meet demand the 2012 vintage was bottled earlier, just two weeks ago.  It is not possible to bottle the 2012 Rieslings because they started fermenting in October, shutdown in December due to the cold, and have only just started fermenting again.  All of the fruit is picked by hand and slowly pressed in one of two pneumatic presses.  Each cycle takes five to eight hours.  The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeast and remains in stainless steel.  Philippe likes to preserve freshness in his wine hence his use of stainless steel.  He does, however, use oak with his Pinot Noir.  Because they have vineyards in 11 different villages they employ some 47 or 48 different sized stainless steel tanks to keep everything separate   The wines are filtered about three weeks before bottling.

Corinne is constantly replanting parcels in the vineyards.  For example, she just replanted two in Herrenberg.  The replanting is done in small groups because it takes four years before the parcel will produce suitable fruit again.  They grow grass between the rows of vines.  Typically they have plowed one side and let the grass on the other side grow.  This year Philippe is going to try a new method.  When it is rainy he is going to cut the grass to encourage it to grow and absorb the moisture.  When it is dry he is going to let the grass flower.  Then he will come out with his lawn roller and roll all of the grass down.  There has been a lot of rain lately so the ground is saturated and soft.  So soft that he cannot yet get into the vineyards with his tractor for fear of damage.

The tasting finished with the 2005, Gewurztraminer, Sélection de Grains Nobles.  This is a wine produced from grapes affected by botrytis or noble rot.  The conditions for this wine occur approximate once every ten years at Domaine Ehrhart.  They are incredibly labor intensive wines because the fruit is harvested berry by berry.  2012 was not a vintage for any late harvesting because there were too many fall rains.

NV Domaine Ehrhart, Crément d’Alsace –
This wine is 100% Chardonnay produced by Methode Traditionnelle.  There was an apple, yeasty nose.  In the mouth there was a vibrant start with apple flavors making way to berries.  The acidity was noticeable on the lips as the bubbles burst in to a very soft mousse.

2012 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Auxerrois, Val St Gregoire –
This  There was a light, focused nose.  In the mouth there was richer fruit with nice weight.  The flavors took on ripe tea and herbs as it became creamy with integrated acidity.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes –
This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from 28 year old vines sourced from different parcels, most in Rosenberg.  There was a tight, yellow nose.  In the mouth were concentrated berry, fruity flavors before drying out with stone notes.  There was acidity from the start along with good texture.  This should develop well.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Herrenweg –
This is 100% Riesling sourced from 35 year old vines sourced from two parcels  located on alluvial soils mixed with stones.  There was a pretty, floral, berry nose.  It had a richness but showed good vigor to the berry fruit.  This was highly textured and almost chewy.  There were long, ripe tannins in the aftertaste.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Riesling, Grand Cru Schlossberg –
This is 100% Riesling sourced from soils with more granite.  There was a light nose of articulate white and yellow aromas.  The mouth bore weight to the yellow, flora, and dried herb fruit flavors.  The acidity was more noticeable at first then the flavors expanded in the mouth with ripe texture and lots of mouthfeel.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Gris, Im Berg –
This is 100% Pinot Gris sourced from parcels on soils of granite west of Val St. Gregoire, though it is more of a hill than a mountain.  There was weighty with rich white and yellow fruit, the biggest wine yet.  The was texture and underlying acidity.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Pinot Noir –
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from Rosenberg raised in 90% stainless steel and 10% oak barrels.  The nose bore Pinot Noir aromas with black, red, and mineral notes.  The flavors had some density and were very focused.  It was a touch saline with an interesting mineral finish.

2011 Domaine Ehrhart, Gewurztraminer, Herrenweg –
This was full-bore Gewurztraminer being the weightiest and richest yet.  The flavors followed the nose with the addition of residual sugar and fresh, black tea.

2005 Domaine Ehrhart, Gewurztraminer, Sélection de Grains Nobles –
This wine had some lovely, botrytis fragrance and remained articulate   In the mouth the flavors were racy and honied with baking spices, glycerin to the mouthfeel, and a fresh, long aftertaste.  There was a little cider flavor.  It was certainly special.

Domaine des Rochelles


Domaine des Rochelles was founded in the 1890s.  Today it is run by 4th generation Jean-Hubert Lebreton who is named after both of his grandfathers.  The domaine is located near the town of St Jean des Mauvrets and is comprised of 60 hectares of vines.  It was Jean-Hubert’s great-grandfather who started the estate and specialized as a negocient for rosé wine.  Anjou use to export a large volume of rosé so this was a traditional focus at the time.  It was his grandfather who first started selling wine directly.  Cabernet Sauvignon was often used for rosé production.  Around 1960 Jean-Hubert’s father tried Cabernet Sauvignon from a small producer and liked what he tasted.  In 1962 his grandfather brought back Cabernet Sauvignon massal selections from Bordeaux and planted a vineyard.  In Anjou Cabernet Sauvignon was typically planted at the bottom of the hills below the Cabernet Franc.  Cabernet Franc would bud while there were still morning frosts on the bottom of the hill.  Since Cabernet Sauvignon buds later than Cabernet Franc it was not affected by the frost.  However, these lower sites had deep soils which produced low-quality fruit which was destined for rosé production.

The domaine has several types of soils so Jean-Hubert’s grandfather and father were careful where they planted the vines.  They also opened the Caveau at the same time.  This is a small tasting room, lined with bottles on the wall, where people may come to taste the wines for free. In the 1970s they brought a consulting oenologist form the Libournne, Didier Coutenceau.  By 1975 they received their first medal for a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine.  To this day Didier Coutenceau still works with the domaine.  There are now 28 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 hectares of Cabernet Franc, 6 hectares of Grolleau, and 6 hectares of white varietals.  They are working towards an organic conversion.    The vineyards have been expanded and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon since then.  All of these vines are massal selections from the original 1962 vineyard.  Since they have some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in Anjou many research scientists have come to take massal selections.  The vine rows are spaced two meters apart with one meter of grass in between.

The domaine ferments in epoxy lined concrete vats.  They do not use pump-overs instead they have been employing submerged cap fermentation since the 1970s.  Basically, a perforated layer is placed half-way down the vat which keeps the cap in constant contact.  This slow process prevents too many tannins from being extracted.  The La Croix de Mission is a cuvee which was started by Jean-Hubert’s grandfather and father.  Jean-Hubert started the cuvée Les Mellerits.  The fruit from this parcel is a brute so Jean-Hubert employs barriques to tame the wine.

2012 Domaine des Rochelles, L’Ardoise, Anjou –
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from slate soils.  The wine was aged  There was a very fresh nose of purple fruit.  The flavors were sappy in the mouth with tannins in the structure.  The wine takes on tart red flavors, a little weight came out followed by young and attractive tannins.  This was easy to drink.  Jean-Hubert recommends drinking this within five years.

2011 Domaine des Rochelles, La Croix de Mission, Anjou Villages Brissac –
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from an average of 25 year old vines on white quartz and decomposed schist soils.  The wine was aged for one year in stainless steel tanks.  The expressive nose smells like rocks.  There were youthful flavors, a floral midpalate, and structure for age.  Jean-Hubert recommends decanting now for four hours and drinking within ten years.

2009 Domaine des Rochelles, Les Mellerits, Anjou Villages Brissac –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from an average of 30 year old vines on soils of decomposed yellow schist with less water.  This was aged for one year in 33% new, 33% one year old, and 33% two year old oak barrels.  The fruit was different than before with licorice notes.  The flavors were purple and black with confidence and a serious, core of fruit.  I would cellar this a few years before drinking.  Jean-Hubert recommends decanting now for four hours and drinking within ten years.

Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Sparkling Wine, Champagne, and White Wine

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment


After tasting through the sake selection Lou and I took a little break by eating some food. Like last year there was an impressive selection of constantly replenished food. There was plenty of game meat including partridge, pheasant, venison, ostrich, and squirrel. Though the meats were diverse the cheeses alone numbered in the dozens and merited a seven page descriptive handout. The oysters of last year were replaced by a sushi station. There were salads and other sides but I could not help but eat my weight in venison. Fortified, we cleaned up our glasses, drank some water, then set to work on the Champagne and white wines. In addition to the perimeter of tables heavily laden with wine bottles there were a few more tables in the middle of the floor. I think the additional tasting space and reduced number of people made it much easier to taste the wines. Last year there were so many people at the first session that we had to taste several wines in a row then retreat to jot down notes from memory. This year we were always able to get a spot in front of a table, though we did have to wait at times. This meant we were able to taste a single wine, spit, and write down notes without moving.


Of the sparkling wines I thought #370 Charles Duret a good value but it was the #377 Chateau Gaudrelle from Vouvray which was really well done. A big surprise was the lovely #378 Colmant from South Africa. It tasted French and indeed the winemaker Joel Follet has a family winery in Champagne. Moving on to actual Champagne I thought the best of the available selections from Roland Champion was the #382 2007 Special Club. The biggest treat was the 1959 Brut. I was a bit skeptical when I first saw the bottle so I double-checked with both Carole Champion and Jeremy Sutton. This is the 1959 vintage and not a Cuvee 1959? Yes, it was the real thing. A few bottles from the cellar were recently disgorged and brought over as a treat. It was like drinking a fresh, mature white wine with a little bubbly lift. It was a fitting way to end the Champagne tasting and move on to the white wines.


The selections from Grand Veneur/Alaine Jaume are so numerous as to require two tables. Therefore we only tasted a small portion. Of the whites I enjoyed the Chateauneuf du Pape Blancs namely #157 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc and the #158 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine….just like last year. The #118 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume was very good and a contrast to the #119 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin. Similarly priced I really liked #123 2011 Guillemont-Michel, Quintaine. Now a Vire-Cleese I also enjoyed last years offering of 2009 when it was a Macon-Villages. The #124 2010 Saumaize Michelin showed strongly being the first glass from a just opened bottle. It was good to taste #326 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay again. I should like to try it again in a year. We had meant to return for the Pearmund red wines but ran out of time. The #332 2011 Buty, Chardonnay was interesting with good grip.


Below you you will find 34 notes split sparkling wines, Champagne, and white wines. I think the notes are best read in order and not individually. Or at the very least a note should be compared amongst its neighbors. I should note that Fran Kysela provides proper wine glasses and the wines were poured at good temperatures. I tried to note color this year. Again read individually the description will lead you astray as the industrial lighting appeared to add green to the lighter wines. Please find my notes in tasting order.


#370 – NV Charles Duret, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The color was a very light yellow. The light nose was of ripe apple. In the mouth the flavors were firm with floral and pastille flavors mixing with the bubbles. There was bright acidity and a firm mousse. Good value.

#367 – NV Caveau du Mont July, Methode Ancestrale, Bugey Cerdon – $24
This wine is a blend of 95% Gamay and 5% Poulsard. The color was a very light salmon rose. The subtle nose had aromas of apple cider. In the mouth there were fine, firmly popping bubbles, sweet apple cider fruit, ripe flavors, and a spiced finish.

#368 – NV Charles Duret, Rose, Crement de Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose was tight and subtle. There were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a big mousse in the mouth. There was some sweet spiced fruit and a sweeter finish.

#369 – NV Wolfberger, Brut Rose, Crement d’Alsace – $22
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The color was a light rose. The nose bore very fine vintage perfume. In the mouth there was an acidity driven start, finely popping bubbles, and subtle vintage floral fruit.

#377 – NV Chateau Gaudrelle, Sparkling Brut, Vouvrey – $19
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow green. There was a light and tight nose. In the mouth there were rather fine, firm bubbles which popped into a nice mousse which ended by the middle. This was a balanced, easy to drink wine with integrated fruit.

#378 – NV Colmant, Brut Reserve, Cap Classique – $26
This wine is a blend of 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay. 10% is of reserve wine and 12% is barrel fermented. The color was a very light yellow green. The very light nose bore floral apples. In the mouth the fine, firm bubbles persisted. There was a subtle yeast note to the fruit, mouthfilling mousse, and drying tannins. Tastes French.


#381 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Cuvee d’Aramis, Chouilly, Champagne – $50
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose made way to gently firm bubbles which quietly popped in the mouth. The white fruit flavors were gentle in the mouth. There was a touch of yeast note.

#380 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $54
This wine is 100% Chardonnay aged for at least 30 months. The nose was tight. There was a firm start in the mouth with very fine bubbles, good acidity, and good presence.

#382 – 2007 Roland Champion, Special Club, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $80
This was a light golden yellow. There was good up-front power to the fruit which mixed with the bubbles. The good fruit was of spiced apple and white fruit. There were drying tannins which coated the inside of the lips. Nice. Young.

#379 – NV Roland Champion, Brut, Rose, Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne – $58
This wine is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay of which 70% is from 2007 and 30% 2006. The final wine is 15% red wine from Verneuil aged at least four years.  There was a light rose color.  The light nose showed some funk and lactic aromas.  In the mouth there were very fine, firm bubbles which quietly pop.  There was tart red fruit, apple acidity, and drying aspect towards the finish.

Nicola Champion with the 1959

Carole Champion with the 1959

1959 Roland Champion, Brut, Chouilly, Champagne –
This was disgorged at the end of 2012. There was a light yellow color. The light nose was of a mature white wine, complex with wood box aromas. In the mouth there were very subtle bubbles and mature flavors in this fresh and very complex wine. There was some toast and wood box notes in the finish. A real treat.

#155 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $15
This wine is a blend of 50% Roussanne, 40% Viognier, and 10% Clairette. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was floral with honeysuckle like aromas and good fruit. In the mouth the flavors were fruit driven, gentle, and a touch soft.

#156 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc de Viognier, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is 100% Viognier. The light nose had finer, floral aromas. In the mouth the fruit was initially soft but then honeysuckle and structure came out. It was still a bit soft compared to the acidity. There was a drying, citric finish.

#157 – 2012 Grand Veneur, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $47
This wine is a blend of 60% Clairette and 40% Roussane. The color was a very light yellow. There was a light, refined nose with a touch of sweet florals. The mouth follows the nose but adds vintage perfume, some roundness, and good length.

#158 – 2011 Grand Veneur, La Fontaine, Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is 100% Roussanne. There was good mouthfeel to this oily, easy to drink and almost brambly wine. The fruit was yellower with spices. Served cool but not cold.


#117 – 2010 Perchaud, Chablis – $15
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 25 year old vines. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose had yellow fruit with some fat to it. There were flavors of toasty apple which became drier towards the finish where there were dry tannins.

#118 – 2010 Perchaud, Fourchaume, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The light nose was of fine, yellow fruit in a structure. In the mouth the acidity driven flavors were lively, almost masculine. The yellow and white fruit had good presence and mouth feel. Young with good potential.

#119 – 2010 Perchaud, Vaucoupin, Chablis 1er Cru – $35
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from 35 year old vines. The color was a very light yellow green. The nose was more austere. The fruit had tang with good acidity, stones, and plenty of focus. There were some tannins and more structure than the Fourchaume. There was an apple-like finish.

#120 – 2011 Courtault, Petit Chablis – $16
The nose was fresh with good, green veggies and white fruit. The flavors were simpler in the mouth with a yeasty, earthy note. Good acidity.


#121 – 2010 Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, St. Veran – $23
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 parcels averaging 45 years of age. Vinified in stainless steel and underwent malolactic fermentation. The color was a light yellow. The light nose had low-lying, darker fruit. There was a soft and gentle introduction followed by shorter flavors.

#122 – 2010 Domaine Delorme et Fils, Sur la Roche, Puilly-Fuisse – $29
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 40 year old vines. This was acidity driven with brighter, fresh fruit that showed both weight and tang. The flavors were lighter.

#123 – 2011 Pierrette et Marc Guillemot-Michel, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse – $33
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 45 year old vines, vinified in stainless steel, and underwent malolactic fermentation. The very light nose was apple-like. In the mouth there was white and yellow fruit which was lively with good grip. Nice wine.


#124 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vignes Blanches, Pouilly-Fuisse – $39
The color was a very light yellow green. The flavors were fat in the mouth with a wood note and old-school taste. There was a core of fruit. Good weight, apple grip, and tangy flavors in the finish. The first pour from a freshly opened bottle.

#125 – 2010 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Vieilles Vignes, St. Veran – $37
The color was a very light straw yellow. The nose was rather light and tight. The soft fruit made way to white fruit but there was not enough acidity. There were some spices in the finish.

#126 – 2009 Domaine Saumaize Michelin, Pentacrine, Pouilly-Fuisse – $43
This The color was a very light yellow straw green (wow!). There was a very light but good nose. In the mouth the grippy yellow fruit had some soft edges but was certainly structured. There were dry, ripe tannins.

#331 – 2011 Buty, Semillon-Sauvignon, Columbia Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 60% Semillon, 21% Muscadelle, and 19% Sauvignon. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was of ripe, white fruit. There was good mouthfeel then the flavors dried up. This was a bigger wine with structure and tannins. Not quite sure what it was.

#332 – 2011 Buty, Chardonnay, Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley – $36
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The color was a light yellow. The light nose was almost earthy with yellow fruit. There was fresh, grippy, driven yellow fruit which had some spices to it. The grip continued into the finish. Well done.

#327 – 2011 Pearmund, Viognier, Vinecroft Vineyards, Fauqier County – $23
This had a light nose of drier yellow fruit and hot dogs. The mouth followed the nose with sweeter fruit, acidity, and some spice.

#326 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vines Chardonnay, Fauqier County – $20
The color was a light, to medium golden yellow. The nose was of yellow fruit and yeast. In the mouth there was tropical fruit, a creamy mouthfeel, and a subtle toast note. It took on a soft edge towards the finish where there were spices. Young.

#325 – 2011 Pearmund, Riesling, Fauqier County – $20
This was a very light yellow straw color. The light+ nose was of tropical fruit. The mouth followed the fruity nose with grip and spices. Off-dry.

#254 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chenin Blanc – $14
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. The color was a light yellow. The very light nose revealed some fruit. There was light fruit in the mouth, old wood?, lively acidity, and some grip.

#252 – 2011 Leopard’s Leap, Chardonnay-Viognier – $14
This wine is a blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Viognier. The color was a very light straw yellow. The light nose was very pure with grassy and ripe fruit. In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with a powdery, chalky note, and a clean, drying finish.

#264 – 2011 Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland – $28
This wine is a blend of 65% Chenin Blanc, 26% Clairette Blanche, and 9% Viognier which was aged for 11 months in older French oak barrels and one foudre. The color was a very light yellow. The nose was very tight with a yeast note. In the mouth the wine was shutdown with yeast, old wood, vintage perfume, and fruit. There was very bright acidity and a chunky nature. I imagine this needs some age.

#261 – 2012 Kloof Street, Chenin Blanc, Swartland – $20
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc which was aged for 11 months in used French oak barrels. The color was a very light yellow. The very light nose was of yellow and tropical fruits. There were smokey, minerally white fruit then yellow fruit with a bacon note.