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A new project from Argentina with an exciting Pinot Noir

September 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Revolver is the project of Leonardo Erazo who is the winemaker at Altos Los Hormigas.  These wines were born from a series of microvinification experiments which took place in 2014.  Both the 2014 Revolver, Chardonnay, Tupungato Valley and 2014 Revolver, Pinot Noir, Tupungato Valley are produced using vines located on limestone soils.  They are made in small quantities with just over 50 cases of Chardonnay and nearly double that of Pinot Noir.  The Chardonnay acts like a conjuring machine as the texture and flavor of the wine brought forth limestone in my mind.  However, it is the Pinot Noir that captured my attention.  You first notice the almost ethereal flavors of ripe cherry with the vineyard soil coming through as a sense of stones in the finish.  This is my kind of “light” wine in that there is ripe fruit and weight without any sense of Pilsner beer or yeast.  It also has just the right amount of salivating acidity.  I recommend you try a bottle.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Revolver, Chardonnay, Gualtallary Valley – $27
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  This is a zippy wine with a surprisingly round nature.  The texture of the wine is quite apparent and matches the thoroughly infused flavor of stones.  Clearly evocate of the limestone soil it also add in baking spice notes as well.  This should be served cool not cold and allowed to breath. It still remains a bit tight.  ** 2017-2019.

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2014 Revolver, Pinot Noir, Gualtallary Valley – $27
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There are delicate, yet filling flavors of cherries which become bright as salivating acidity carries the wine through the finish.  There is a sense of ripeness but the wine has levity.  I found the mineral finish and clear sense of stones in the aftertaste quite interesting.  ***(*) Now – 2019.

The 2013 Vaglio Aggie, another fine import by Brazos

After trying the lovely 2013 Rogue Vine, Super Itata Tinto I decided to try another wine from the Brazos Wine Imports portfolio. This time I went from Chile to Argentina.  Vaglio is a “micro-winery” run by José LoVaglio Balbo who is the son of Susanna Balbo.   You might recognize the Balbo name because she has a well known winery in Argentina.  There are four wines produced at Vaglio, each of which focuses in on a single vineyard with a different micro-climate.  The 2013 Vaglio, Aggie, Valle de Uco is made using fruit from vines located at nearly 4,000 feet in elevation!  What you get is a forward wine that engages all of your mouth.  There is tasty fruit, ripe gum-coating tannins, and acidity that causes you to salivate.  Check it out!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Vaglio, Aggie, Valle de Uco – $18
Imported by Brazos Wine Imports.  This wine is 100% Malbec.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The herbaceous nose builts ripeness with air.  In the mouth are ripe red and black fruit, well integrated with an herbaceous flavor.  The wine is almost inky, coating the gums with flavor and moderately ripe tannins.  The structure give some firm support as does the firm acidity.  The later builds until the salivating and puckering finish.  The aftertaste leaves an herbal perfumed mixture in the mouth.  *** Now – 2019.

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Century old images of Bodegas Santa Ana in Argentina

In 1910, the weekly Argentine magazine Caras y Caretas published extensive photographs and summarized descriptions of major Argentine wineries. The photographs focus in on buildings, rooms, barrels, and machinery rather than harvesting and wine making.  One featured winery is Bodegas Santa Ana of Mendoza.  It was founded in 1891 by Senor Kalless and Senor Tirasso and is still in operation today.  The winery initially produced 35,000 bottles of Bordeaux style wine such as Medoc and Sauternes but also Pinot Noir and even Champagne.  I have selected five images for your pleasure.

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A Recent Pair of Tasty Wines

December 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Both of these wines are full of flavor which is undeniable after a few hours of air.  I suspect the 2010 Casar de Burbia, Casar could use with a few months of cellar time.  This is serious, more concentrated Mencia.  The 2010 Montesco, Passionate Wine, Parral received a very high score which was hard to avoid and ignore.  Despite my skepticism, I really enjoyed the savory flavors and ample mouthfeel.  It is a full but not overdone experience.  I definitely recommend you try both of these selections.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Casar de Burbia, Casar, Bierzo – $20
Imported by South River Imports.  This wine is 100% Mencia aged 8 months in French (American?) oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  With air the wine unfolds a little to reveal blue, black, and violet fruit.  The flavors have some weight before a little tangy note comes out followed by some wood.  The wine oscillates as it takes on air, sometimes showing a little vanilla and other times a watering acidity.  The structure develops with air making fine, drying tannins stick on the insides of the cheeks.  Good flavors, serious Mencia.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 Montesco, Passionate Wine, Parral, Mendoza – $22
Imported by Monsieur Touton.  This wine is a blend of 40% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 40% Bonarda sourced from 30+ year old vines which spent 12 months in French and American oak. Alcohol 14%.  There was a sweet nose of deep blue and black fruit.  In the mouth were rich but not overpowering flavors with a savory presence on the tongue.  It had thickness, decent complexity, minerals in the finish, and was spicy throughout.  With air it takes on some earth and rounds out.  It becomes a touch forceful after much air but has good flavors.  **** Now-2019.

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Did I Save $200 by Drinking 2012 Chakana Estate?

October 24, 2013 3 comments

The 2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Malbec and 2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Red Blend recently hit the shelves in Washington, DC.  They are a bit hard to ignore because Robert Parker rated the Red Blend 95 Points declaring, “If this were a Napa Valley or Bordeaux red, it would undoubtedly be priced between $150.00-200.00.”   I recently opened both of these bottles then tasted them after being double-decanted for three hours.  They were both tight and not too interesting so I put them back in the Eurocave.  The next day I tried them again.  The Malbec had clean fruit but there was a bit too much oak for me.  The Red Blend was certainly a step up in quality.  Though it remained tight on the nose and in flavor, it had some good components and an incredible aftertaste.  I kept marveling at the wine because the flavors in the aftertaste were exceedingly expansive and persistent.  Even more so than when I had wine in my mouth.   But that is the hitch, I was technically captivated rather than emotionally.  I would be upset if I spent $200 on this wine but at $27 I would stash one away to see if it eventually opens up.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Malbec, Mendoza – $20
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 18 months in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%.  There were subtle hints of dark red fruit and warmth on the nose.  In the mouth were fresh red and black fruit which alternated between a creamy and rugged feel.  This youthful wine has a firm nature with a slightly rough finish with alternating notes of vanilla and oak. ** Now-2023.

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2012 Chakana Estate Selection, Red Blend, Mendoza – $27
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Shiraz which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 10 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose remained subtle and tight.  In the mouth were fresh, pure fruit flavors which played it close.  There was some cool density to the increasingly purple fruit flavors.   There was a really good aftertaste with black minerals.  In fact the aftertaste was more intense than the finish with drying but not dry structure.  Eventually, assertive, citric tannins came out.  ***/***(*) Now-2025.

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A Pair of Southern Hemisphere Wines

I must admit I have been distracted this week by a new line of research I have started.  That has not only revealed material for an interesting post but also yet another line of research.  Today I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into several online archives from around the world.  I need to staff a research department for the blog.  The 2008 Bodega Mendel, Malbec is from serious only vines which have made for a strong but young wine.  Keep it in the cellar a few more years.  The NV Campebells, Rutherglen Tokay is at least a few years old.  Due to labeling requirements they cannot use the Tokay name anymore.  As of 2010 Tokay is not Topaque.   This particular half-bottle was way too much for me and probably best served as a small pour.   The Mendel was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the Campbells at Wide World of Wines.

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2008 Bodega Mendel, Malbec, Mendoza – 
Imported by Vine Connections.  This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from vines planted in 1928 in Lujan de Cuyo at 1000 meters.  The fruit was fermented in small tanks then aged for 12 months in 60% used and 40% new French oak.  Alcohol 13.9%.  The nose was a little pungent.  In the mouth there was some power to the wine as finely ripe, blackberry and red fruit showed some assertiveness.  The flavors were drier and leaner with black minerals combining with the tannins in the structure.  The structure was left on the lips.  with air there was a hint of savory herbs but not minty.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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NV Campbells, Tokay, Rutherglen –  (375 mL)
Imported by Click Imports.  This wine is 100% Muscadelle.  Alcohol 17%.  The color was a medium tawny amber.  In the mouth there were flavors of dried apricots mixed with grainy, moist fruit.  This wine was rich and sweet with some caramel and lots of residual sugar.  Despite the sweetness there was enough acidity to this weighty wine.  With air the flavors of dried apricots and raisins continued.  Too rich for me but others might like this.  ** Now-2022.

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“Spilled not a drop”: Vintage After Vintage of Moët & Chandon and Krug Champagne

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This past Wednesday I was fortunate to attend a spectacular tasting hosted by Seth Box, the Director of Education for Moët-Hennessy USA.  He was accompanied by Michelle Desrosiers of Moët-Hennessy USA and by Maria Denton, the Moët-Hennessey Portfolio Manager at Washington Wholesale Liquor Company.  The tasting was held in The Graham Georgetown which has been open a mere three weeks.

Maria, Michelle, and Seth

Maria, Michelle, and Seth

Seth Box is not only the Director of Education but he is also studying towards the Master of Wine.  His knowledge and passion for wine combined with his energy clearly matched the outstanding array of wines he had chosen to open.  Seth’s position requires him to travel around the country but his time is not spent simply educating those in the business, he tries to get wine lovers to drink Champagne.  Moët-Hennessey has a strong Champagne portfolio so after people start drinking Champagne then an appreciation for mature vintages may be developed.

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Seth chose to highlight different cuvées and vintages from Moët & Chandon and Krug.  These are two very different houses with Moët& Chandon avoiding any intrusion of oxygen and Krug embracing oxygen through barrel fermentation.  He was quick to point out that the use of barrels is for oxygenation purposes and not to impart wood flavors.  When asked what type of vessels Krug stores their reserve wines in, Seth recalled the answer he received when he once asked the very same question. Do you ask a chef what type of spoon or pot they use?  It turns out they use stainless steel tanks of various sizes.  For more about Krug please see my post An Evening of Krug.  Because Krug see oxygen at a young age it has a very different aging profile and robustness compared to Moët & Chandon.  This was particularly evident in tasting the 1992 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut whose color was yellow with youthful flavors.  The 1989 Krug, Brut Collection had a golden, nutty color with mature, earthy flavors.

Tim and Sarah

Tim and Sarah

One treat was the 1996 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque.  The Dom Pérignon bottles are released across three plenitudes which reflect their ideal drinking window.  The first plenitude is eight years after the vintage and is named Cuvée Dom Pérignon.  The second plenitude occurs 12-15 years after the vintage and is the first Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque.  The third plenitude occurs some 30-40 years after the vintage and is the second Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque release. Thus our 1996 was a second plenitude release.  A third plenitude release would be from the 1960s or 1970s.  The dosage changes with the release.  At first it may be as high as 7-8 g/L but after year seven or eight it may drop down to 4-5 g/L.

Isaac, Lily, Scott, and David

Isaac, Lily, Scott, and David

For me the Champagne was the focus of the evening.  Seth had also brought 1997 Chateau d’Yquem, old Glenmorangie, and Hennessy as well but such a quantity of excellent Champagne had been opened that there was no need for more.  Earlier this year I became hooked on Krug.  Now I am hooked on mature Champagne thanks to the generosity of Seth, Maria, and Michelle.

“I have descended, like a second Aeneas, to the lowest deep of the Tartarean grottoes possessed by Messrs. Moet and Chandon, of Epernay; I have gone down the steps beside which a black marble tablet, with letters of gold, informs the visitor that Napoleon the Grand did exactly the same thing”

Dickens, Charles.  Household Words, Volume XI.  Dix & Edwards, New York, 1855.

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2004 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut, Champagne
There was a firm touch with firm bubbles, flavors of apple, spice then a textured mousse.  There was acidity on the sides of the tongue with a darker aftertaste.

2002 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon, Rosé, Champagne
There were dried rose flavors with textured, large bubbles which expand in the mouth with a gentle weight.  This was very fresh with textured acidity on the ti of the tongue.  This was a lovely, minerally wine with a drier finish and subtle lees note.  Very special.

1996 Moët & Chandon, Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque, Champagne – $399
The nose was intent with more piercing and precise aromas, finely articulated, and improved with warmth.  In the mouth the flavors were richer with mature nose, spices, and a white wine-like nature.  Undeniably beautiful with balance, long aftertaste and haunting flavors.  Still youthful.  Outstanding.

1992 Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut, Champagne – $299
The color was surprisingly youthful.  There was a spiced texture to the flavors, almost gravelly.  There was dry flavors, some ripe spices, yellow fruit, and fresh acidity.  Young with potential for continued development.

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“You may depend upon it, we all did justice to the good things, and as we washed them down with bumpers of sparkling Krug, whilst we sped along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, agreed it was the fastest living we had ever experienced.  (We beat that, however, two days afterwards when we made twenty-seven miles in twenty-seven minutes, while our Champagne glasses filled to the brim spilled not a drop!)”

Twain, Mark.  Roughing It.  American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut. 1872.

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2000 Krug, Brut, Champagne – $359
The nose was interesting with aromatic pungent and floral aromas.  The mouth followed the nose with a vibrant quality on the lips and tongue which matched the textured bubbles.  They readily burst into a very soft mousse with the lees persisting into the aftertaste.  The acidity was on the sides of the tongue with a chalky finish and a hint of tartness.  The aftertaste was very long.  Outstanding.

NV Krug, Brut Rosé, Champagne – $299
This had a lees start with softer bubbles and gentle mousse which faded quickly.  The acidity hit the tip of the tongue with a riper start and drier, textured finish.  So easy to drink.

1989 Krug, Brut Collection, Champagne – $659
This was a nutty, golden color in the glass.  The nose was complex with mature aromas, lees, and mushrooms. In the mouth there were earthy, mature flavors mixing with a tickle of bubbles and mousse.  It picked up liveliness in the finish which was followed by a soft, gentle aftertaste.  A very beautiful, nutty old wine which first captivates you with its nose.  Outstanding.

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2009 Terrazes de los Andes, Malbec, Las Compuertas, Lujan de Cuyo – $59
The nose was subtle and a little pungent with red fruit aromas.  There was a savory start in the mouth then racy, rich, grapey flavors came out and felt textured in the lips.  This youthful wine mixed with ripe spices.

2007 Cheval des Andes, Vistalba, Lujan de Cuyo – $59
The nose was darker and more pungent, with dark, weighty berry aromas.  The flavors were thicker in the mouth with surprisingly foggy expansion.  There was plenty of flavor with a subtle structure made from ripe tannins.  The red and black flavors became tart with a little racy aspect in the finish.  The structure came out in the aftertaste along with salty, black fruit.

2009 Bodega Numanthia, Termanthia, Toro – $260
This was more complex with focus to the dark fruit, vanilla and smoke notes.  There were fine tannins, dark roast notes, a hint of lipstick, and some spices in the dry finish.  It did manage to keep some focus, making for a fine, seductive drink.  I should know for I went back to finish the last bit of the bottle!

2008 Bodega Numanthia, Numanthia, Toro – $55
This was salty with obvious structure and very fine tannins.  Though very focused and a bit young at this point, it maintained attraction.

David, Frank, and the author

David, Frank, and the author