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A blind tasting featuring wines from Yvon Clerget and Duroche

February 12, 2019 Leave a comment

I was fortunate to be Phil’s guest at the lastest blind tasting he held for the group.  Phil had smoked some chuck for dinner, providing a savory reminder of what was to come after the blind tasting.  First up, we sampled the 2017 Chateau L’Ermitage, Auzan, Costieres de Nimes.  It is a good wine to drink this year and a reminder that I do not drink enough Rhone-style white wines.

I do not drink enough red Burgundy to have even remotely narrowed in on the six blind wines we tasted.  Beyond the particularly tasty bottles, Domaine Yvon Clerget and Domaine Duroche represent wines made by a young generation.  Thibaud Clerget produced his first wines in 2015 and Pierre Duroche took over his father’s estate in 2005. It is quite something then, that the 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay 1er Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle is in the best spot for a wine to drink now or cellar for the future.  It is tasty from the first pour but develops over an evening.  I will admit the ripeness of the 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Champ had me guessing New Zealand Pinot Noir!  Despite that grave error, this is satisfying being the most fruited, forward wine we tasted.  The 2015 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux  is another fine wine for drinking now.  There is maturity already reflected in palate with additional complexity from the earth.  It is the most expensive wine of the evening yet also the most attractive.  I found these three wines the most enjoyable that evening.  I guess that the others did as well for these bottles were completely finished.  For those with patience, do not overlook the 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens.  It has an impressive future ahead.

With dinner we drank a bottle of 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja.  While not the most impressive wine, it was consumed quickly and I suspect it would benefit from further decanting.  I typically like Rabaja very much.  The final wine of the night is a library release that was recorked in 2018. At 27 years of age the 1992 Weingut Wegeler, Vintage Collection, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel is a modest, fully mature wine.  It is quite lively on the tongue which keeps it refreshing.

Starter

2017 Chateau L’Ermitage, Auzan, Costieres de Nimes
Imported by Terrison Wines.  This wine is a blend of 60% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 20% Viognier.  Aromas of flowers and nuts.  Modest in body and light in weight.  Quite floral in flavor with tree fruits, stones, and a very floral finish.  A solid wine to drink once the spring weather arrives.  *** Now – 2021.

Burgundy

1 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%.  A young color with a touch of VA on the nose.  The young flavors in the mouth are tart with ripe fruit soon developing.  Some concentration, slightly chewy, young structure, and tart acidity.  Becomes tighter with air.  **(*) Now – 2024.

2 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Volnay 1er Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%.  A young color with violet.  A touch more aromatic.  In the mouth are expansive flavors of blue and black fruit supported by fine and drying tannins.  It picks up more weight in the finish.  Clearly more serious than #1.  This remains the easiest drinking of the six blind wines, taking on hints of spice and some lifted, ripeness in the finish. ***(*) Now – 2029.

3 – 2015 Domaine Y. Clerget, Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens – $119
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13%.  Tart, young, and dry structured yet clearly possess power for the flavors to develop.   Younger in profile than #2, it has a big future ahead.  Though primary and grapey with a mineral, black fruited finish, the fine almost bitter tannins make it trying to drink at this point.  It is best left in the cellar for several more years.  **(**) 2022-2037.

4 – 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Aromas of sulphur never blow off but there is some grapiness.  In the mouth it tastes like a natural wine with cranberry fruit, crunch acidity, and light finish.  In no way like the other wines so must be off.  Not Rated.

5 – 2016 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin Champ – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  A lovely nose.  Very ripe and sweet fruit with just enough acidity and supportive structured.  Perhaps a hint of heat in the end.  It develops citrus notes.  Structured.  Tart acidity. *** Now – 2024.

6 – 2015 Domaine Duroche, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Champeaux – $129
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Kirsch on the nose.  A hint of maturity in the mouth make this the most drinkable of the Duroche.  A ripe core of fruit, cherries, and a hint of earth make this a beautiful wine. **** Now – 2024.

Dinner Wines

2004 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  Starting to mellow, maturing but focused with ripeness and grip to support future life.  Balanced.  Served immediately from a decanter, it was consumed quickly.  ***(*) Now – 2034.

1992 Weingut Wegeler, Vintage Collection, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Imported by Comete Wines.  Alcohol 8%.  A little spritz on the tongue then fully mature flavors are evident.  Dense lemon with modest ripe yellow fruit are fresh but the finish is short.  A slightest hint of tea.  *** Now but will last.

A new vintage of an old favorite

There was a several year period in which Jenn and I drank our fair share of wines from Chateau Mourgues du Gres.  With fond memories in mind I opened a bottle of 2014 Chateau Mourgues du Gres, Galets Rouge, Costières-de-Nîmes purchased in downtown Bethesda.  This wine delivers nothing but pleasure from the first glass and is quick to add in complexity from incense and spice notes.  It is a good selection to open several bottles of at your next barbecue.  This wine is available at Capital Beer and Wine in Bethesda.

2014 Chateau Mourgues du Gres, Galets Rouge, Costières-de-Nîmes  – $18
Imported by Simon ‘n Cellars.  This wine is approximately three-quarters Syrah with the rest Grenache, Mourvedre, and Carignan that was aged for 7 to 12 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There is a fresh grapey texture supporting generous flavors of bright, red fruit.  The fruit is backed by ripeness and texture before the incensed and spiced finish.  The flavors cling to the gums well into the long aftertaste.  *** Now – 2019.

Wines from around the world

The wines featured in today’s post also come from my moving backlog.  I am a bit late to the game but in case you have not yet had it, I highly recommend the 2013 Birgit Eichinger, Gruner Veltliner, Wechselberg, Kamptal.  Rich, lively, and textured this wine is all pleasure.  The 2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costieres de Nimes is sourced from 80 year old Carignan vines that offer plenty of concentrated, dense flavors.  The latest 2014 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County is actively opening up.  It should hit its stride this winter so why not watch the evolution?  I was about to pass off on the 2012  Emblem, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley as too soft but with extended air it tensed up.  Good thing I track all new wines over two days.  Enjoy! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine d’Aupilhac, Montpeyroux – $20
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 16% Grenache, and 4% Cinsault that was aged for 20 months in used foudres and barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  Tasted over two days this tart, red and black fruited wine, had roundness, a sweet fruit note, and a developed a dry structure.  It took on a brighter-citric aspect, some pepper, and flavors evocative of a natural wine.  Hmmm.  *(*) Now-2017.

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2009 Cascina Corte, Pirochetta Vecchie Vigne, Dogliani – $23
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The aromas of roast earth made way to tart red then dry black fruit in the mouth. The minerally black fruit was backed by plenty of tannins, a drying finish, and some acidity.  Not quite the balance I prefer.  Will last but why wait.  ** Now.

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2013 Birgit Eichinger, Gruner Veltliner, Wechselberg, Kamptal – $20
Imported by Weygandt Metzler.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The attractive honey-suckle nose was followed by weighty, slight rich fruit right as the wine hit the tongue.  The richness was backed by lively acidity on the tongue as well as a chalk note.  It had a tart, yet ripe middle and plenty of texture.  Very enjoyable.  *** Now-2016.

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2012  Emblem, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $26
Alcohol 14.4%.  In the mouth were powdery black fruit flavors with a touch of chocolate, all of which was bound in approachable tannins with just enough acidity as underlying support.  With air the wine deepened revealing plums with more acidity and structure that showed better tension.  The fruit was blacker as well.  Perhaps it needs a short period in the cellar.  **(*) 2016-2019.

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2014 Neyers, Chardonnay 304, Sonoma County – $20
Alcohol 14.1%.  The mouth brought forth slightly tart white fruit on the sides of the tongue before it turned creamy with a yeast note.  The wine became creamier with air and took on an attractive lemon-citrus flavor in the finish.  It needs a bit of time to settle down but it is obvious it will get there.  **(*) 2016-2017.

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2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es Aquo, Costieres de Nimes – $25
Imported by Robert Kacher.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The pungent nose revealed pure, dense fruit that mixed with earthy orange aromas.  In the mouth the fruit was sweet and smooth with very fine chocolate flavor, tannins, and a seamless acidity that does not poke out.  The very fine texture existed in a weighty, almost thick and unctuous wine.  With air this wine showed persistent power, minerally black fruit, and gentle power.  *** Now – 2020.

A Pair from Chateau d’or et de Gueules

I have been fortunate to taste the wines of Chateau d’Or et de Gueules at the annual portfolio tasting of Robert Kacher so I have some level of familiarity.  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 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.

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I drink Diane de Puymorin’s wines at home as well.  This pair from the 2012 vintage are rich and full of flavor.  The 2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Trassegum, Costieres de Nimes is a strapping young wine that delivers a lot of flavor for the money.  The 2010 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es a Quo, Costieres de Nimes delivers an unmistakably different experience.  I would like to think the carbonic maceration of the Carignan comes through on the nose.  Whatever the reason the aromas prepare you for the flavors which are truly persistent.   I feature wines on this blog that I purchase so I have no problem recommending that you purchase them as well.  I also recommend that you serve them at cellar temperature.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Trassegum, Costieres de Nimes – $15
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  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.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a subtle nose of ripe fruit.  The wine was flavorful in the mouth with drying black fruit, graphite, and spicy, heady aftertaste.  Best on the first night.  ** Now-2016.

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2010 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules, Qu’es a Quo, Costieres de Nimes – $25
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  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.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Clearly different the nose evoked dusty aromas of mulberries and a little incense.  This was a flavorful, mouth filling wine with cool but dense flavors of minerally black fruit and dusty tannins.  There were persistent flavors of  blue and black fruit.  The wine had extract, texture, and graphite before leaving a coating of tannins on the gums.  ***(*) 2015-2024.

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Recent Rosé

I clearly love drinking red wine so when the weather warms up I have an affinity for rosé over white wine.  I prefer an inexpensive wine with red fruit, crispness, and some juicy acidity.  In this vein you cannot go wrong with the 2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes or the 2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret. I prefer to begin my evening with a glass while I prepare dinner or clean some dishes.  So I was shocked by the intense acidity of the 2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé.  In fact it was so powerful I literally could not take more than one sip.  Far more preferable was the 2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec which was more thought provoking than thirst-quenching.  Priced at the highest-end of the range is the 2013 Robert Sinsky Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros.  The color was matched by delicate floral aromas and flavors.  It is an attractive rosé but bear in mind you may purchase both the Brassdes and Mourchon for the cost of one bottle.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Mas Des Bressades, Cuvee Tradition Rosé, Costeries de Nimes – $12
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A vibrant cran-cherry color.  There were cherries and fruity raspberry candy on the nose.  In the mouth were firm, hard cherry fruit which had a touch of ripeness.  This ripeness was delicate, mixing with perfumed flavors, and fresh texture in the finish.  With air the wine became slightly rounder with supporting acidity and pastille flavors in the aftertaste.  Satisfying.  ** Now-2015.

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2013 Domaine de Mourchon, Loubié Rosé, Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret – $13
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The flavors of firm cherry and strawberry mix with good acidity.  ** Now-2015.

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2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rosé – $19
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 12.5%.  The citric red fruit is immediately followed by a tremendous amount of quality acidity.  Literally impossible to drink on its own until the fifth night.  This clearly needs food and is not my style.  * Now.

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2013 Domaine Breton, La Ritounelle, Bourgueil Rosé Sec – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.   Alcohol 12%.  There were tart red fruit flavors that were drier.  Combined with the juicy acidity this wine had a lot of presence.  Though the flavors were lighter there was a sense of strength before the stone notes in the firm finish.  ** Now-2016.

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2013 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Carneros – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir.  Alcohol 13.1%.  The color was of pale dried roses.  The nose revealed delicate floral aromas.  In the mouth were floral fruit flavors and acidity at the back of the throat.  There was a little grip to these delicate flavors followed by a firm finish.  Drank well over several nights.  ** Now-2016.

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The 2013 Robert Kacher Selections Spring Portfolio Tasting: The Winemakers

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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.

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Château d’Or et de Gueules

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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)

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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

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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.

Recently Tasted Wines From France

May 13, 2013 1 comment

The 2010 vintage is providing us with many good wines from France.  At the most affordable end there are many approachable wines.  The $11 2010 Kermit Lynch, Cotes du Rhone has quickly become my go-to selection for interesting and affordable red wine.  Almost as good and a little cheaper are the 2009 Chateau Grande Cassagne, Costeries de Nimes and 2010 Andre Brunel, Cotes du Rhone.  Priced at $9 and $10 respectively these wines are both drinking well.   (And yes, the former is from the 2009 vintage).  Moving up in price the wines show more structure than the 2009 vintage.  More serious are the 2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Cotes du Rhone and 2010 Domaine Charivn, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone.  These will both benefit from short-term aging and I suspect the Charvin will become the most expressive of the two.  Finally the 2010 Domaine Gauby, Les Calcinaires, Cotes du Roussillon Villages was a bit underwhelming at this point but this appears due to its need for age.  The flavors were deep with balanced structure.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $11
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is a little pungent with some blue and black fruit.  There were firm flavors in the mouth, red and black, with some salivating acidity and a drying tannic structure.  This should relax by the end of the year but there was no great depth of flavor.  The finish was drying with some citric red fruit.  ** 2013-2015.

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2010 Clos du Mont-Olivet, Font de Blanche, Cotes du Rhone – $11
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  Alcohol  14%.  The nose was perfumed with inky berries.  The mouth follows the nose but was firmer and structured.  There were black fruits, grapey flavors, and good perfume before the very firm finish.  ** 2014-2019.

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2009 Chateau Grande Cassagne, Costieres de Nimes – $9
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  This wine is a  blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose bore definite aromas of meat, soy sauce, and bacon.  The mouth followed the notes with the addition of minerally black fruit followed by riper black fruit in the finish.  There was good acidity from the start.  ** Now-2014.

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2010 Andre Brunel, Cotes du Rhone – $10
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, and 10% Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vineyards. Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a light but interesting nose.  In the mouth there was a little vigor to the red and black fruit, some grip, and a little texture on the tongue.  It took on a racy aspect as it showed some structure with moderate weight and acidity.  There were some darker flavors in the aftertaste.  A strong value.  ** Now-2017.

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2010 Domaine de la Janasse, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed blue fruit and some berries.  In the mouth the fruit was concentrated with supportive structure for short-term aging.  It took on good, grainy blue fruit flavors.  **(*) 2015-2019.

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2010 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan raised in concrete.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium grapey, ruby.  The subtle nose preceded the mouth.  There were firm, grapey, black fruit flavors which became more expressive on the second night.  The black fruit continued in the finish where drying, fine-grained tannins coated the inside of the lips.  The structure and acidity are in balance with the fruit.  This needs a few years of age but will be worth the wait.  **(*) 2015-2019.

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2010 Domaine Gauby, Les Calcinaires, Cotes du Roussillon Villages – $22
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, 15% Grenache, and 10% Carignan fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 10 months in 80% cuve and 20% barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium purple-ruby.  The nose was light with red fruit, citrus, and a fine scent.  In the mouth there were old-school, earthy flavors, lighter in weight but deep in flavor.  There wine maintained a certain firmness to the drying black and earthy fruit.  There was a very fine, drying tannic structure followed by an earthy aftertaste.  With time there was a slight Pilsner note to this drying wine.  **(*) 2015-2020.

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