The half-bottle format of 2011 Domaine Tempier, Bandol has entered a great drinking period which should continue for some time. The deep flavors are attractively ripe and a few years of bottle age mix nicely with leather and meat. If you are looking for a wine to buy this weekend then grab a few halves and pop one open as soon as you get home. Also for current drinking, albeit at the budget end of things, the 2014 Clos La Coutale, Cahors is a wine to drink mid-week. It is a lithe wine, think black tea and herbs, delivered in a fresh manner. Whereas the Tempier will drink well for years to come the Coutale should be consumed over a year or so. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2011 Domaine Tempier, Bandol – $22 (375mL)
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 75% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, and 2% Carignan sourced from 40+ year old vines, fermented in stainless steel then aged 18-20 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 11%-14%. There is a fine, engaging nose with hints of ripeness. In the mouth is a lively start which soon builds depth, minerals, and grip before coating the gums with a lovely aftertaste. The ripeness of the start dissipates in the middle only to return in the aftertaste. It has already developed meat and leather flavors but the structure and acidity will see development for a few more years. ***(*) Now – 2023.
2014 Clos La Coutale, Cahors – $14
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot sourced from 20+ year old vines fermented in stainless steel then aged in oak foudres and barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. This is an interest wine combining black tea notes with fresh black fruit and acidity. The wine is of lithe profile bringing on drier black fruit, herbs, and a little bit of grip in the finish. There is minimal structure making this a wine for the short-term. ** Now – 2018.
Jeffrey Snow previously worked for Bacchus Importers then moved to France to enroll in wine studies. He was in town this past weekend for a brief visit so a group of his wine buddies got together. As Jeffrey still lives overseas I offered to host the gathering. Despite the heavy cloudiness the skies held back any rain so we gathered outside on the back deck. There was a slew of good wine, some certainly better than others, that kept us busy all night.
A bottle of 2006 Vazart-Coquart, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Special Club Brut accidentally received some 2000 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline through a decanting mistake. Thus turned into a rose, the bottle was found improved and quickly drained. The 2005 Thierry Massin, Champagne Brut drank solidly for days thanks to it being a double-magnum. We had mixed success with the white wines. Fortunately, the 2005 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent), Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses offered all one could hope with great potential. This was my first time drinking Dauvissat and now I can see why it is a favorite of Roland. In terms of the red wines, the 1999 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie was my favorite. It was aromatic, unique in the mouth, and a generally lifting experience to drink. What a treat! Whereas the Jamet offered up bacon the 2000 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline offered bloody meat. This bottle drank at a good, mature spot. The 2003 vintage provided our biggest wines. The 2003 Thierry Allemand, Cornas offered way more fruit than I expected, but it was good in its youth, reflecting both the vintage and its southernmost location in the Northern Rhone. Moving south the 2003 Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape exuded power. It took until the second night to show properly and with that time, great complexity came out in the middle. I would cellar this wine another five years. There were many other enjoyable wines so take a look at my notes below. I do wish to comment on the 1995 Domaine du Pégaü, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Maxim. Darryl managed to score this unicorn of a wine. This one-off cuvee was created to celebrate the birth of Laurence’s first child. Just over 600 bottles were produced and apparently, given only to friends. So good was this wine that it and 1997 cuvee Justine eventually became the precursors of De Capo. Unfortunately, our bottle was off.
2006 Vazart-Coquart, Champagne Blanc de Blancs Special Club Brut
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by C’Est Vin. Alcohol 12%. Through a decanting accident, this contained a proportion of 2000 Guigal, Hermitage La Mouline. So perhaps better as a rose with yeasty, ripeness! Not Rated but good!
2005 Thierry Massin, Champagne Brut (double magnum)
A Becky Wasserman selection imported by C’Est Vin. Alcohol 12%. There were fine, structured bubbles that integrated well with the grippy texture on the tongue tip. There were lemon flavors and baking spices in the finish. ***/**** Now-2025.
2008 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles
Imported by Wilson Daniels. Alcohol 13.5%. There were maturing, lean flavors of tart lemon before a young impression came out. There were tangy lemons in the short finish. Something not quite right about this bottle.
2005 Domaine des Malandes Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
Imported by JAO Wine Imports. Alcohol 13%. The stinky nose made way to linear flavors in the mouth with a grippy finish. With air an earthiness pervaded, taking over the lemon citrus note, then finishing tired with apple orchard notes. Note Rated.
2001 Domaine and Select, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. There were plenty of berries in this robust wine. The dense core of fruit made way to cherry and even took on glycerin. A lovely wine. **** Now-2020.
2007 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale (en magnum)
A Becky Wasserman selection imported by Veritas. Alcohol 13%. The nose was rather expressive. In the mouth were ethereal flavors before the tighter finish. With air it developed some midpalate ripeness with delicate spices and a good length for the soft, lipsticky finish. *** Now.
2004 Château du Cèdre, Cahors Le Cèdre
Imported by Elite Wines. Alcohol 14%. The fresh nose developed deep and dark aromas. The wine was dense in the mouth with good intention from the structure and acidity. The flavors had a cool aspect and when combined with the greenhouse notes, I imagine this will have a nice future. ***(*) Now-2025.
2005 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent), Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses
Imported by Wine Brokers International. Alcohol 13%. There were rounded notes of white and yellow fruit in this beautiful wine. It was almost spritely with a chalky middle, lovely integrated acidity, a good grip, and even more minerals in the finish. Top notch! ****(*) Now-2025.
2004 Terredora di Paolo, Taurasi Pago Dei Fusi
Imported by Vias Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was very fresh with greenhouse aromas, small berries, and eventually a fine, wood aroma. In the mouth the linear flavors took on licorice. With air the gentle fruit existed within a resolved structure that made a return in the finish by drying the gums.
1999 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by Robert Kacher. Alcohol 12.5%. Very aromatic with bacon and stems. In the mouth were good, controlled powerful flavors of violet fruit. The wine became salty with air and maintained a sense of purity to the acidity driven red fruit. Lovely. ****(*) Now-2025.
2000 E. Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline
Imported by Ex Cellar Wine Agency. Alcohol 13%. There was a lifted nose of bloody meat. In the mouth were acidity driven flavors that were savory, dense, and glycerin infused. There was still fruit and very fine, fresh structure. **** Now – 2023.
2003 Thierry Allemand, Cornas
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose was aromatic with fruit power, camphor, and a touch of raisins. In the mouth was a load of tangy, red and pruned fruit with good acidity. With air the wine remained quite fruity, building in flavor towards the middle where mineral and sweet spiced fruit came out. ****(*) Now-2030.
1999 Tardieu-Laurent, Côte-Rôtie Vieilles Vignes (en magnum)
Imported by Bacchus Importers. Alcohol 13%. This was aromatic with roast notes from the oak. In the mouth were soft flavors and vintage perfume. The structure was still there but there was low acidity and a generally limp impression. Not Rated.
2003 Clos des Papes, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Alcohol 14.5%. This was beautiful, powerful, and earthy. The wine really packed in the components, exuding power as well as grainy black then red and violet fruit. On the second night it had expanded more to show very good midpalate complexity. ****(*) Now-2030.
1995 Domaine du Pégaü, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Maxim
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 14%. Oddly morphing, seemed clearly corked at first then as if through sheer determination powerful fruit tried to come through. Not right so bummer. Not Rated.
1995 Château de Fonsalette, Reserve, Côtes du Rhône
Imported by Le Vin. Alcohol 14%. This was aromatic with bloody and stinky notes. Very firm and linear at first this developed a weighty start with midpalate ripeness, cedar, and sweet fruit. In the end it came across as very mature. Drink up. ** Now.
2003 Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve, Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT
Imported by Vinifera Imports. Alcohol 14.5%. This remained young over two nights but showed future potential. Clearly powerful, with tart acidity, good components from wood, and a perfumed finish. Should improve but needs time. ***(*) 2020-2030.
2000 Chateau Quinault L’Enclos, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Imported by Bacchus Importers. Alcohol 13.5%. This smelled increasingly mature and earthy with air. In the mouth it was cooler tasting with very fine grained structure. This bottle seemed very mature with the structure outliving the fruit. ** Now.
2008 Bodegas y Viñedos Paixar, Mencía Bierzo
Imported by Grapes of Spain. Alcohol 14%. The nose was very aromatic with floral and black fruits. In the mouth was a perfumed, black fruited start with some cedar notes picking up in the middle. The wine showed more acidity by the finish becoming lively. The structure revealed wood that had fine texture which combined well with the mineral finish. *** Now-2020.
2001 Gelchw Albertz-Erben, Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by Michael Skurnik. Alcohol 8.5%. There were hints of petrol on the nose. In the mouth were weighty flavors that fleshed out, filling the mouth with ripe fruit and residual sugar. The wine turned youthful with weighty, lemon flavors, and structure in the end. It left a fresh impression. **** Now.
Despite the goofy Wine Spectator sticker the 2008 Gerard Bertrand, Grand Terroir is a completely enjoyable wine from the Cotes du Roussillon Village of Tautavel. Perhaps due to the hillier terrain and higher altitude this wine has fine flavor and focus. The 2010 Chateau du Cèdre, Cahors is, in a sense, elegant with complex aromas and flavors evocative of bitters. It is best to leave it in the cellar for a few years. The 2012 Domanie des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny has engaging aromas and texture in the mouth that adds to the physical pleasure. I suggest trying it in the new year. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2008 Gerard Bertrand, Grand Terroir, Tautavel – $15
Imported by USA Wine West. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Carignan. Alcohol 14%. This wine responds very well to a few hours of air to reveal aromas of cherry and blue fruits. In the mouth were very fine grained flavors of cherry and blue fruit which had focus. This clean wine revealed its integrated acidity followed by minerals then ripe, spiced tannins. *** Now-2018.
2010 Chateau du Cèdre, Cahors – $23
This wine is a blend of 90 % Malbec, 5% Merlot, and 5% Tannat which underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 22 months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose was evocative of a Manhattan. In the mouth were firm, structured black fruit, citric acidity, and a subtle earth hint in the finish and aftertaste. After a few hours of air this young wine developed a subtle, complex note of bitters which matched the elegance of the fruit. This dry wine left drying tannins on the gum. It is setup for aging. **(*) 2015-2025.
2012 Domanie des Roches Neuves, Saumur Champigny – $19
Imported by Elite Wines. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from 25+ year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel then aged for three to four months in both stainless steel and oak. Alcohol 12.5%. The nose was very finely scented with aromas of fresh cardamom. In the mouth were black and red fruit which was a little more expansive on the second night. The structure came out as did the flavors of cardamom and notes of pepper. There was lovely texture and drying minerals. Texture was the key. *** Now-2018.
I may not have purchased any Chateauneuf du Pape for less than $30 but there are plenty of selections from the Cotes du Rhone Villages. The 2010 vintage has produced excellent and age-worthy wines. This is reflected in the Domaine de la Janasse, Terre d’Argile and the Oratoire St Martin, Reserve des Seigneurs. The Janasse starts off with a lovely nose followed by a mouth of tight, focused, pure fruit. It is in a primary state right now but is still pleasing and will certainly develop over the years. The Oratoire St Martin is quite pleasing in its youth and already shows enticing complexity. The wine is firm so it is best left in the cellar. It should mature a tad bit faster than the Janasse and I suspect it may achieve greater heights. The Mas del Perie from Cahors was a pleasant surprise for not all wines from 2007 are ripe and forward. The nose is attractive followed by good fruit but there are still firm, drying tannins. I would be tempted to cellar it a bit to see what happens, if not then try it with some meat. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Terre d’Argile, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $25
Imported by Eric Solomon. This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Carignan sourced from 40-60 year old vines at the La Garrigues vineyard. It was aged for one year in foudre. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium grapey ruby. The nose smelled good with a little saline whiff of the sea followed by red fruit and red candy. In the mouth there was tight, focused black fruit along with very fine, drying tannins. The finish was a little spicy on the tongue with a good core of fruit. This will be slow to age so be patient for what will come. ***(*) 2016-2025.
2010 Oratoire St Martin, Reserve des Seigneurs, Cairanne – $22
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 65-year-old vines. It was fermented for 18 days then aged for 24 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. The color was a medium purple ruby. The light nose had concentrated aromas of grapey fruit. In the mouth there were focused and ripe black fruit flavors and graphite which expanded in the mouth. The minerals mixed well with the drying tannins which coated the mouth and teeth from the middle. This wine remained firm and focused with a nice weighty feel, cedar flavors in the finish, and some spicy tannins in the aftertaste. This needs several hours to open but is best left in the cellar. ***(*) 2015-2025.
2007 Mas del Perie, La Roque, Malbec, Cahors – $22
Imported by Wine Traditions. This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 30-year-old vines farmed organically. It was aged on the lees for 10 months in 50% used oak barrels and 50% cement tanks. Alcohol 13.5%. The light nose was scented with fruit and spice, a little powdery chewing gum, and some vanilla. In the mouth there was a little more structure than expected but the fruit kept a light personality. The flavors were of red and blue fruit with well-integrated acidity. The flavors took on focus towards the finish along with a tobacco note and firm, drying tannins in the aftertaste. **(*) 2015-2019.
It is through no fault of these wines that I am only just publishing these tasting notes from over one month ago. They just fell through the cracks. Of these four I would recommend the Clso Siguier, Antoniolo, and Lioco. The Clos Siguier was purchased for Wishing Well Liquors, the Antoniolo from MacArthur Beverages, and the other two from Unwined.
2009 Clos Siguier, Cahors –
A Jenny & Francois Selection imported by USA Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 95% Malbec and 5% Tannat sourced from 60-year-old vines. The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcohol 12.5%. There is a light perfumed nose with a singular berry aroma. In the mouth there was slightly tart, red fruit then dusty blue fruit. There were drying but slightly ripe tannins and a little juicy acidity. Easy to drink. ** Now.
2010 Azienda Agricola Antoniolo, Bricco Lorella, Coste della Sesia – $16
Imported by Bacchus Importers. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo. Alcohol 13%. The color is a light+ vibrant copper and salmon. The nose is gentle with winey aromas of lightly ripe fruit. In the mouth the wine is weighty with sandy texture, spices, some tannins, and a good aftertaste. The tarter red fruit puckers in the mouth at first then the flavors become drier towards the middle. This is a wine to slowly drink at a warmer temperature. ** Now-2013.
2009 Lioco, Indica, Mendocino County – $18
This wine is a blend of 85% Carignan, 9% Grenache, and 6% Petite Sirah. The fruit was fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. It underwent malolactic fermentation then aged for 10 months on the fine lees in neutral oak. The nose is a light to medium with aromas of red and blue fruit and notes of the sea. In the mouth the tart red fruit has a touch of blue. There is juicy acidity, a bit of a tang, and moderate body. With air the wine puts on some fat. As the fresh flavors drop off they are replaced by dried, grainy strawberry and blueberry. The textured, grainy flavors continue through the aftertaste where there are perfumed tannins. *** Now-2015.
2007 Domaine Sarda-Malet, Le Sarda, Cotes du Roussillon – $20
Imported by Europvin USA. This wine is a blend of approximately 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah sourced from 20-50 year old vines on clay-limestone and clay-siliceous hillsides. Alcohol 14%. The nose reveals red fruit and a little cranberry. In the mouth there is red fruit with orange juice backing, dried herbs, and dry, citric tannins. There is moderate weight, juicy acidity but remains lighter than expected. The acidity and dried herbs persist through the long aftertaste. ** Now-2017.
I’m more of a Rhone and Roussillon fan but I’ll give anything a try. The Haut-Monplaisir and Fontsainte at $12 and $10 are good introductions. While I would probably buy other wines at that price, I would not hesitate to try the higher-end cuvees.
2005 Domaine La Berangeraie, Cuvee Maurin, Cahors – $15
This wine which is 100% Malbec is hand harvested, hand sorted, de-stemmed, and aged in concrete. I found slightly tart red fruits in this light-bodied wine. This more austere wine has thin fruit that gives way to medium tannins and a light finish. The wine is Ok but not my style. I’d rather drink Dona Paula Malbec at this price point.
2005 Chateau Haut-Monplaisir, Cahors – $12
This 100% Malbec wine is micro-oxygenated and made in cement vats. The grapes come from 44.5 acres located on the highest terrace. This wine is a dark purple/violet in the glass. There is a light nose of dark fruit. In the mouth I found blue/purple fruit, inkiness, that makes way to a brighter and tarter midpalate. It finishes with drying, lip-coating tannins. This is an easy to drink Cahors.
2005 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres – $10
This wine is made from 70% Carignan, 20% Grenache, and 10% Syrah. The grapes are hand-picked, placed whole in vats for temperature-controlled carbonic maceration and aged for 6 months in French oak barrels. The wine is light-ruby with a purple tinge. A light nose of earthy, fresh red berries. Tart raspberries in the mouth, that is structured and enlivened by acidity. This light to medium-bodied wine has a slightly mouth-watering finish, that gives way to structured light tannins in the aftertaste. This is an affordable, decent, modern Corbieres.
2005 Chateau Coupe Roses, Cuvee Vignals, Minervois – ~$15
This wine is made from Syrah, Grenache, and a small amount of old-vine Carignan. Light to medium opaque in the glass. A light nose of blue fruits mixed with syrah scents. With air the blue fruits are mixed with pepper, followed by a lean body and a finish of mouth-coating fine tannins. This refreshing wine is light to medium-bodied with a light, persistent finish. The Syrah character develops with air.