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An Honest Pair from Domaine de Fontsainte

September 29, 2019 Leave a comment

This pair of recent offerings from Domaine de Fontsainte exhibit distinct personalities at low prices. That is no easy feat.  The 2016 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserva la Demoiselle, Corbieres  is mostly Carignan sourced from 100+ year old vines.  It is a wine to drink now and though generous in flavor, it has supportive acidity, and a good dose of provencal herbs.  The 2018 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres is crisp with an interesting blend of brown sugar and mineral, black fruit.  I like the flavor and the acidity profile.  It should be even better this winter.  If you can only purchase on bottle then I would just grab the one which sounds more like your style.  I bought these two bottles at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Domaine de Fontsainte, Reserva la Demoiselle, Corbieres – $17 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, and 10% Mourvedre.  The Carignan vines were planted in 1904 and the fruit alone undergoes carbonic maceration. The wine is then aged in a mixture of cement tank and French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  Effusive and approachable from the very first glass.  It is blue fruited at first then turns towards tart raspberry and blackberry in flavor.  It is a tangy wine with some supportive structure but is largely a wine that is ready to drink.  It is dense in the middle with lemon/citric acidity, and solid finish. It evokes the south with its provencal herbs.  *** Now – 2020.

2018 Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres – $15 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, and 10% Syrah aged in French oak barrels.  Again, the Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 14%.  There is a core of brown-sugared, ripe, black fruit which leans towards a mineral, blacker fruited finish.  There is good freshness from the watering acidity.  It takes on hints of cream and stone.  Though a crisp wine it should improve over the short-term.  **(*) Now – 2023.

Pungo’d for Pleasure

David Bloch uses the Pungo so he can drink a wide variety of wines every day of the week. Here is one recent selection.

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2015 Domaine de Fonsainte, Gris de Gris, Corbieres
An annual purchase from the Kermit Lynch portfolio.  The wine performs so well every vintage.  This year’s bottling is as impressive as ever.  Apple, pear, minerals and melon.  Not a bruiser but flavor-packed and food friendly.

2012 Von Hövel, Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Great nose.  Almost a real Saar Kabinett.  Bitter almond.  Cream.  Lemon tart.  An extremely well-balanced wine – plenty of ripe fruit with a nice streak of acid and minerals.  Really long.  A baby with a long life ahead.

2000 Fratelli Revello, Barolo Vigna Giachini
Really nice wine. Mature. Floral and sweet even. On the red fruit spectrum.  Oddly, day two found a very tannic wine that wasn’t nearly as good as day one. Therein lies the unpredictable nature of Nebbiolo.

2010 Domaine les Grands Bois, Rasteau Cuvée Marc
On the large size, the tannins have integrated and the wine is a big mouthful of the Southern Rhone. Black fruited – I think the Mourvedre really pushes forward while it only accounts for a minority of the cepage.  Spices.   A tad overdone perhaps?  I suspect the wine may have needed more time to mellow.  Good with beef.

A excellent 2011 Maxime Magnon, Rozeta from Corbieres

The 2011 Maxime Magnon, Rozeta, Corbieres is an exciting wine which you must try.  When I wrote about the 2010 vintage in my post Maxime Magnon from Haut Corbieres I suggested trying future vintages.  I am glad I did.  This bottle reminds me of Rayas and des Tours styled wine which I particularly love.  Specifically, this wine offers rich, mouth filling flavors that are ethereal, capable of development, and absent of any yeasty character.  What a treat! This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Maxime Magnon, Rozeta, Corbieres – $20
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  The fruit is sourced from a field blend of mostly Carignan along with Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Gris, Mcabou, and Terret sourced from 50-60 year old vines from two parcels on soils of limestone and schist.  All of the varietals are whole clustered fermented together then aged in used barrels from Chassagne-Montrachet. Alcohol 13.5%.  The lighter nose of red fruit and cranberries entices you.  The deep red fruit offers surprising richness yet never loses an ethereal quality.  The flavors mix with bluer fruit and minerals with impeccably balanced acidity and minimal tannic structure.  The ethereal quality continues with extended air as notes of old wood come out.  ***(*) Now – 2021.

Two strong values from Domaine Sainte-Eugenie in Corbieres

My monthly expenditure on wine has largely been consistent over the years past.  What has changed is that I no longer focus in on the price range of $15-$30 per bottle.  I am counterbalancing an increase at the high-end by drinking more wine in the $10-$15 per bottle range.  The two wines in this post from Domaine Sainte-Eugenie are two budget examples.  The 2014 Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, Corbieres is a forward wine to drink now.  It has puckering acidity balanced by enough tannins and fruit to make this a slightly chewy, juicy wine.  For $11 you get an honest wine that you may drink every day of the week.  At $15 the 2012 Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, La Reserve offers a marked step up in quality.  Both wines are made from the same blend but the La Reserve clearly has better fruit and sees aging in French oak.  It reveals more mature flavors which are delivered with great vigor.  Fun stuff! These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, Corbieres -$11
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 40% old vine Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah that was aged in vats.  Alcohol 13.5%.  With flavors of red fruit and prunes, the tart start soon builds fruit through the middle.  There is puckering acidity and moderate, grapey gentle tannins through the aftertaste which almost make the wine chewy.  The wine becomes slightly juicy with air.  ** Now – 2017.

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2012 Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, La Reserve – $15
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.   This wine is a blend of 40% old vine Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah that was aged for 26 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  After an hour of air, the cream like aromas do not suggest the surprising amount of vigor this wine has.  There are attractive, mature fruit flavors that lean towards the ripe spectrum.  There is fine definition to the fruit in the middle, a little wood hint, and some oscillation between ripe and tart.  A definite step up.  *** Now – 2019.

Wines From France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Serbia, and More!

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This post features a diverse selections of wines presented in order of preference.  The 2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga is interesting not just for its use of the ancient Verduno Pelaverga grape but also its lovely nose of white pepper and intriguing cinnamon note.  I can attest that I never had a wine from the Somontano DOC until I opened the 2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano.  It offers blue and black fruit with good structure and minerals at a very attractive price point.  The 2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres should have broader appeal than the admittedly funky 2009 vintage that I recommended.  The recently arrived 2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone is a strong value with its red fruit and hints of earth.  You may drink it now but it would be interesting to see what it tastes like next year.

The 2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is still a good wine at its price point but lacks the control of the previous vintage.  The 2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley is another solid value but I still wait for another 2007 equivalent. The 2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas was the second wine I have tasted from this estate.  If you have not drunk a Texan wine then this is worth the experience.    Finally, the 2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete was strange and despite the attention, it was dumped.  The McPherson was purchased at Cordial Fine Wine and Spirits, I believe the Massaya was purchased at Total Wine and the remaining bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga – $19
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Verduno Pelaverga.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were fresh aromas of white pepper and general evocations of Cabernet Franc.  In the mouth were tart red flavors, pepper, and a drying nature.  The black and red fruit had very moderate grip, some lift, and a hint of dried green herbs.  The finish was minerally followed by an intriguing note of cinnamon and ripe fruit in the expansive aftertaste.  The flavors turned blacker with air.  *** Now-2019.

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2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano – $13
Imported by The Spanish Wine Importers. This wine is a blend of 80% Trempranillo and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of sweet, macerated berries and mulberry.  The wine developed structure with some extract which counterbalanced the slightly billowy flavors of blue and black fruit.  It had very fine tannins, black stones in the finish, and hints of graphite.  It became a little savory.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres – $16
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault which were partially destemmed then co-fermented.  It was aged in tank.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was woodsy with Kirsch and raspberry aromas.  The mouth followed the nose and was quite approachable.  There was some funky ripe fruit, black minerals, and satisfying round tannins.  It became a softer wine with air, blacker with low-lying violets.  There was a good finish with firm tannins.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore delicate ripe aromas of fresh strawberry and cherry.  In the mouth were fresh red fruit and cherry that was roundish but had some solidity.  The fruit seamlessly mixed with  the acidity making way to a ripe and fresh strawberry finish.  There was a hint of citrus and a little earth with air.  Strong value.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of ripe strawberries.  In the mouth were round, puffy flavors that were quite forward.  There was some tang to the wine and texture on the tongue.  The tart aftertaste  brought some cranberry-strawberry flavors and hints of minerals.  A tasty wine but a little too loose.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were more berry and tooty-fruity flavors that had some freshness.  With air, there was a spicy bit with acidity on the front-middle of the tongue then black fruit with some minerals before a little grainy, macerated berry flavor came out.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas – $18
This wine is a blend of 62% Mourvedre, 27% Carignan, and 11% Viognier.  Alcohol 13.9%.  There were wafting aromas of macerated berries.  Billowy.  There was a riper start in the mouth with strawberry notes before the flavors became redder and riper.  It turned softer in the short finish.  There were no hard edges but could use more acidity for verve.  ** Now.

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2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Roussanne.  Alcohol 14%.  There were tangy flavors  of red and black fruit.  The wine became citric and sharp towards the finish as the acidity became quite noticeable.  There were potpourri notes in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was woodsy and yeasty.  Strange.  * Now.

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Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie: Buy it by the cask

There was something about my first sniff of the glass which compelled me to immediately taste the wine.  My mouth confirmed my nose so I told Jenn she needed to try it right away.  There have been vineyards on the site of Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie since the Romans.  Even the current estate is storied as it was founded by an officer who campaigned for Louis XIV then settled on some rocky foothills near Carcassonne.  The estate produces four wines from eight hectares of vineyards, this being the free-run version of the pair of red wines.  Though this drinks well immediately after opening, it does respond to air and should also hold up well in the cellar.  Personally I recommend you drink vast quantities of this right now.  It is exactly the sort of youthful, rustic, old-school style of wine which I love.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres – $16
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault which were partially destemmed then co-fermented.  It was aged in tank.  Alcohol 14%. The nose is light to medium strength delivering rich aromas of raspberry candy and earth.  There is vibrant, flavorful fruit in the mouth which is delivered in a ripe, youthful manner.  The acidity does not stand out as separate instead it is a part of the vibrancy.  There are old-school flavors which dance on the tongue tip, perhaps a little prickle from CO2, and some minerals.  In short this is great fun!  *** Now-2018.

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A Surprising Number of Wines at Shane’s House

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

This past weekend we attended a class fundraiser at our neighbor Shane’s house.  The goal was to raise funds for a French Immersion class trip to Montreal.  The event was hosted by Shane, Denise, Scott, and Jennifer.  Shane works for Bacchus Importers and Scott works for Monument Fine Wines so I knew it would be a fun evening.  Throughout the house were tables representing a particular region of French.  Each table had several wines and dishes from that region.  There was quite a diverse set of wine so I did my best to taste through a variety and jot down some simple notes.

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Providing enough sparkling wine for everybody is a tough job but the NV Charles de Fere, Reserve Rose Dry is always a great choice.  It is an interesting blend of Gamay, Cinsault, and Cabernet from the Loire and Sciacarellu from Corsica!  I thought this bottle showed an entry of ripe fruit and rather fine bubbles which softly dissipate into a short mousse.  There was citric acidity and drying flavors.  The 2010 Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rose Premium Millesime, Saumur is a blend of most Cabernet Franc and Grolleau.  I am not aware of drinking Grolleau before.  This bottle had firmer bubbles which made a nice mousse, drier fruit, then white citrus fruit, and a tangy finish.

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Next I skipped over to the white Burgundies by starting with the 2011 Bastion de L’Oratoire Chanson, Vire-Cleese. This wine imported by Terlato is 100% Chardonnay which is vinified in vat and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It had  a light nose of white and ripe floral fruit, honeysuckle like.  In the mouth the whiter fruit had some tropical ripeness and grip.

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The  2011 J. M. Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru, imported by Vineyard Brands, stepped things up.  There was a light nose of good fruit, nutmeg, with more depth.  The flavors followed the nose and were lithe, focused and young with lively acidity.

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Of the 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux I thought a La Grange de Clinet decent but the Tuscan 2006 Tenuta di Arceno, Prima Voce, Toscana IGT from magnum, the best Bordeaux blend.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah which was aged for 12 months in French oak.  There were maturing Merlot and Cabernet notes on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were structured but with good balance.  It took on black fruit, black minerally depth, and will certainly age.  Tasted blind I might not pick it out at Tuscan but it was certainly a good drink and reasonably priced.

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The Rhone wines were decent but I thought the Languedoc-Roussillon selection better.  For old-vine Carignan the 2007 Domaine de la Bouysse, Mazerac, Corbieres Boutenanc, made from 105 year old Carignan along with Grenache and Mourvedre, is pretty and approachable but will benefit from age.  I thought the 2011 Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, was lighter and simpler with its bright red fruit.  I am usually a fan of this wine.  The 2010 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres the best of the three.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan from 15-60 year old vines on soils of schiste.  It had rich flavors, depth, and was not overbearing.

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The 2007 Domaine Maorou, Red Wine, VdP Hauterive is a blend of 36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, and 30% Grenache.  It showed more maturity than the previous three wines along with good fruit, dried herbs, and some ruggedness.  I did not get to revisit it.

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David McIntyre brought a selection of wines so of course I had to tuck into those as well.  The 2007 Potel-Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie did not show much.  The tight nose was followed by tight red black fruit in the mouth, just a touch of weight, and fine, dusty tannins.  Perhaps it needed some air.

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More interesting was the 2006 Domaine Billard Pere et Fils, La Combe Basin, Saint-Romain Blanc.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the lieu dit La Combe Bazin. The wine is barrel fermented in 25% new French oak and aged sur lie for 12 months.  It had a light nose of mature aromas and gravelly yellow fruit.  It was tight in the mouth with gravelly, controlled flavors, fresh acidity in the finish, some tannins, and an orange peel note.  Nice.

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Back to the reds was the 2006 Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent from Louis Jadot.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from granite soils and aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  What a lovely example of maturing Gamay.  It is still confident and has concentration for many more years of development.  A good surprise.

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Finally, a lovely treat was the 1988 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes that Shane found in his cabinet.  Maturing in a sense but not too complex yet with focus and acidity to last for a number of years to come.  Has drier flavors.