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Posts Tagged ‘Costieres de Nimes’

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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The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 1

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I have purchased many Eric Solomon wines during my trips to Seattle but over the last year I have been able to purchase a growing selection in Washington, DC.  When I heard about the Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting organized by The Country Vintner I just knew I had to attend.  I immediately emailed Mark Longsworth of The Country Vintner and marked the tasting on my calendar.  On Tuesday I found myself walking up 9th street past a huge grouping of 21st century construction, across Massachusetts Avenue, to a block of 19th century buildings opposite the massive Convention Center.  It is here that the Long View Gallery played host to the tasting.  The gallery itself features a smaller front room where I picked up my wine glass and tasting booklet by the front door.  The booklet documents the 38 tables of wine, running over 100 pages in length.  There were a number of tables in this room but with the coat rack in the back room I headed up the sloped hallway to settle myself in.

ESS2

The back room featured tables arrayed around the perimeter of the room along with a smaller, central array of tables.  The space was lit primarily by natural light but spot lights illuminated the wines towards the middle of the building.

ESS9

There was a tremendous selection of producers and wines to taste making this an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the Eric Solomon portfolio. There were also wines from Jon-David Headrick Selections but there was simply not enough time for me to get to them.  In the four hours alloted I could not even taste through all of the Eric Solomon wines.  That is a good predicament to be in.  I spent my first half tasting wines with Phil from MacArthur Beverages and the second half on my own.  It seemed that every winery was represented by an owner or winemaker which makes for a great expression of commitment.  The tasting did get crowded so at time it was difficult to carry on a conversation due to the noise or the logistics of having to pour wine in everyone’s glasses.  I would have loved for there to be a second day with smaller group tastings with each winery. I do appreciate the travel schedule involved in a national portfolio tasting but I do crave the balance between a big trade tasting and smaller sessions.

ESS10

In the span of four hours I managed to taste some 80 wines.  Due to this large number my notes will be presented over two posts.  The pours were all of decent size with the wines at the correct temperature.  There were actually a number of Barrel Samples being poured, some of which I have noted and others I did not.  Of the wines presented in this post I must point out those of Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine de Marcoux, and Hacienda Monasterio. Though I tasted many other good wines at various price points, those of these three domaines stood out and I encourage you to seek them out.  You will find my tasting notes below in the order I tasted them.

Table 20 – Vignobles Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

I have been drinking the wines of Michel Gassier since the end of the past summer.  The Cercius wines are a collaboration between Michel Gassier, Philippe Cambie, and Eric Solomon.  They are named after the mistral wind that visits the vineyards.  These wines are aged in concrete tanks.  The Nostre Pais wines are terroir driven wines, with the varietals vinified and aged separately  then blended before bottling.  Lastly the Lou Coucardie wines are intended to be aged.  I thought the Cercius Blanc a good start and it is affordable too.  I actually prefer the 2011 Cercius Rouge over the 2010 version, which Michel described as a big hug.  The Nostre Pais Blanc and Rouge are serious but affordable wines which deserve age.  Interestingly enough, I found both of the Lou Coucardie chewy, give them a few years in your cellar.

2012 Cercius Blanc, Vin de France – $14
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, aged on the lees in concrete tank.  There was a good, textured and aromatic nose of yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was white, honeysuckle-like fruit, good acidity, some lemon, perhaps stone, and controlled ripeness.  A good start to the lineup.

2012 Notre Pais Blanc, Costeieres de Nimes – $21 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier aged six months in neutral French oak.  There was a light, tighter nose with underlying dark yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the driven white fruit, some citrus, and a more serious attitude.  There was good length in the aftertaste.

2012 Lou Coucardie Blanc, Costieres de Nimes – $30 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Viognier aged 10 months in French oak.  There was a light, tight nose followed by good initial weight in the mouth.  The flavors show focus and are a bit chewy.  It builds body in the mouth along with a bright citrus note guiding along in the wine.  This will age.

2011 Cercius Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah aged six months in concrete tanks.  There was focused, young grapey fruit with a nice mix between the tannins, acidity, and fruit.  I liked that this showed more restraint with the fruit than the 2010 vintage.

2010 Nostre Pais Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $20
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah aged six months in French oak with 50% on the lees.    There was black red fruit with a touch of a powdery note.  Fine strong tannins were evident along with good, cool acidity.  It revealed a little old-school perfume along with a mineral note in the finish.  I would cellar this.

2010 Lou Coucardie Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $32
This wine is a blend of 60% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, and 10% Syrah aged 12-18 months in French oak on the lees.  There was a light nose which was the most aromatic of the reds, it was almost brambly.  In the mouth the compact flavors were a mix of black and red fruit that went well with the perfume.  There were fine, drying grapey tannins in the finish and black stones in the aftertaste.  This young wine was also a bit chewy.  This will age.

Table #30 – Domaine de la Janasse

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

The 2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc was an incredible start with lovely texture and crisp personality.  There is not much of this wine produced so it is hard to get but certainly worth the effort.  The Terre d’Argile is good but the Les Garrigues is a standout for Cotes du Rhone.  I liked all three Chateauneuf du Pape but was amazed at how well the Vieilles Vignes showed with its depth, lively nature, and fresh acidity.  A strong showing all around.  More wine was produced with the 2011 vintage as compared to 2010 and 2012.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Cotes du Rhone – $22
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 15% Clairette, 15% Bourboulenc, 10% Viognier, and 10% Roussane aged six months in tank on the lees.  The light nose was floral with yellow fruit.  The wine was crisp in the mouth with good grippy fruit, lots of texture, and some ripe fruit in the finish.  Nice!

2012 VdP d’Orange Rose, VdP d’Orange  – $12
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  The nose was more focused with some cherry fruit.  The flavors were very acidity driven on the tongue then teases with soft red notes.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Rose, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  There was a good nose of berries and pastilles.  The mouth follows the nose with a little more weight, a little creamy nature, and a fine texture.  A step up from the previous rose.

2010 Terre de Bussiere, VdP d’Orange – $17
This wine is a blend of  55% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 12 months in 2/3 used oak barrels.  There was a light, tight nose followed by bright fruit in the mouth.  There was some weight, some seriousness, and citric tannins.

2011 Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan, and 10% Cinsault aged 12 months in foudre.  There was not much on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were tight with red fruit, and citric tannins.

2011 Terre d’Argile, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $26
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Carignan aged for 12 months in foudre.  The nose revealed a touch more darkness.  The fruit has more dark red notes, ripeness, and riper tannins.  There was some weight and a spicy aftertaste.

2011 Les Garrigues, Cotes du Rhone – $46
This wine is 100% Grenache with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in barrel.  The nose was interesting with berries and other red and blue fruits.  The entry was the weightiest with mouthfilling flavors.  The fruit was old-school and fleshed out nicely with fine, good length.  There was a sweet, ripe touch in the finish along with fine, powerful tannins and spice.  Nice.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $65
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in 2/3 used oak barrels.  The nose is more elegant.  In the mouth there was bright red and black fruit which starts off lively on the tongue before showing density in the middle.  There was black minerally weight in the finish.

2011 Chaupin, Chateauneuf du Pape – $90
This wine is a blend of 100% Grenache aged in used foudre and demi-muids.  There was a low-lying dense, dark red nose.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with gently coating with mineral and animale notes.  There was an inky aspect to the dense finish.  Tight but interesting.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $120
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, and 2% other varietals which was aged 80% in foudre and 20% in barrel.  There was a light nose of dark, ripe, sweet, and seductive aromas.  In the mouth there was good depth to the flavors which were lively and beautiful.  There was fresh acidity throughout, a long aftertaste, and an overall great showing.  Lovely.

Table 16 – Domaine de Marcoux

Sophie Armenier

Sophie Armenier

These were also lovely wines but I want to skip to the Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge for it is a lovely example of an old-school wine, full of personality, and amazingly approachable.  From very old vines the Vieilles Vignes was simply beautiful.  The vines are located on soils of sandy and clay making them a bit unique compared to the stony soils found throughout Chateauneuf du Pape.  I thought the 2011 were showing well!

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $68
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Bourboulenc aged in stainless steel.  The floral white nose developed in the glass.  There was a crisp start in the mouth before the flavors picked up weight and tropical notes.

2011 Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $23
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre aged in tank.  There was a light and focused nose with a little bramble berry.  In the mouth there was a little tang, plenty of weight, and sexy aspect.

2011 La Lorentine, Lirac – $27
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 30% Syrah aged 16-18 months in concrete tank.  It is organic.  This was more focused and structured with texture.  The black red fruit clearly needs age.  There are plenty of tannins as it turns brighter in the end.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, and 3% Cinsault aged 18 months in concrete tank and barrique.  There seemed to be some lovely Mourvedre funk on the nose.  The mouth follows with old-school flavors, density, Kirsch, and generally lovely flavors.  There was a gentle aftertaste.  Nice.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $180
This wine is 100% Grenache from 70-110 year old vines on sand and clay soils without stones.  It was aged 18 months in foudre.  There was a tight, concentrate notes of Kirsch, and old-school aromas.  There was good ripe fruit in the mouth, a sweet, fresh, concentrated nature.  Beautiful.

Table 24 – Clos Saint Jean

Vincent Maurel

Vincent Maurel

These wines were more modern with the Blanc a big wine revealing a lot of flavor.  The three Rouge feature Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1905. They are modern wines with a lot of interest and power which fill the mouth.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Clairette, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Bourbuolenc aged in concrete tanks and barriques.  There were weighty aromas of tropical and yellow fruits.  The wine was big in the mouth, rich, and oily with flavors of yellow fruit and sweet spices.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache , 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccareze, and Muscardin.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  There was a tight nose followed by a core of ripe, sweet fruit.  It fleshed out some, showing a modern personality with tight, lasting flavors.  Well done.

2011 La Combe des Fous, Chateauneuf du Pape – $105 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% Vaccareze.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This had a more expressive nose which was perfumed with powerful berries that stepped out of the glass.  There was sweet, ripe red fruit in the mouth then blue flavors which coated the tongue.  There were sweet spices in the aftertaste.

2011 Deux ex Machina, Chateauneuf du Pape – $100 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This dialed things up with lots of fruit, vanilla, and dense flavors in this huge, modern wine.  Though tight, there was a lot going on.

Table 24 – Bodegas Mas Alta

Bixente Ocafrain

Bixente Ocafrain

This is a joint project between Michel Tardieu and Philippe Cambie.  I have drunk the Black Slate before in my hotel room in Seattle.  I thought all of the wines had interesting aromas with the 2011 Artigas my favorite of the lot.

2011 Black Slate La Vilella Alta, Priorat – $22
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet aged 12 months in French oak barrels.  The nose was focused and tight.  The mouth surprised with lots of ripe fruit, black and red flavors, and some softness.

2010 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  There was interesting fruit on the nose being black and red.  In the mouth there was ripe, powdery fruit which was controlled and became blacker towards the finish. There were fine, citric tannins, spicy, and good aftertaste. I preferred this over the Black Slate.

2011 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  The light nose stepped out of the glass, it was not earthy but interesting.  Lots of forward fruit in the mouth followed the nose with a haunting perfume.

2010 La Creu Alta, Priorat – $125
This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Grenache aged 18 months in French oak barrels.  The Carignan is 100 years old.  The nose was interesting.  The mouth follows with power to the drier fruit.  There was a weighty feel but the acidity kept things lively.  The tannins were well-integrated with the dark, earthy finish.

Table 26 – Hacienda Altes

Nuria Altes

Nuria Altes

I have drunk the 2011 Garnatxa Negra before so was happy to find the 2012 vintage my favorite of the three I tasted.  It is also the least expensive!

2011 Benufet, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  The fruit was tangy on the sides of the tongue then steely with a touch of yeast in the tart finish.

2012 Garnatxa Negra, Terra Alta – $11
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was good red berry fruit, texture, acidity, and a fresh finish.  Nice.

2010 l’Estel, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was a light, pungent nose.  In the mouth the bright red fruit first stands on the tongue then it takes on some levity and tartness.

Table 26 – Creta

This wine is the result of a partnership between Eric Solomon and Isaac Fernandez Montana.  Isaac is on the team of wine makers who work with Mariano Garcia’s Bodega Mauro.

2011 Creta Roble, Ribera del Duero – $15
This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged four months in 70% French and 30% American oak barrels.  The nose was tight with red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tight, young and mixed with fine, drying, citric tannins.

Table 27 – Hacienda Monasterio

Carlos de la Fuente

Carlos de la Fuente

Simply put, the 2009 Crianza immediately stood out for its nose alone but this was reinforced by tasting the wine.  This is a traditional Ribera del Duero wine which you must try, it is moving.  The 2009 Reserva is very good too but as Phil commented, it is like a young Bordeaux.  It is a superb wine for the cellar.  Drink the Crianza while the Reserva ages.

2009 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a light, pungent nose with good depth.  In the mouth there was good weight to the cool red and black fruit which had a grapey finish.  Simply put, this is a beautiful wine that will age.  Captivating.  Well-done.

2010 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a similar nose but tighter.  There were berries in the mouth, more drying tannins, and drier flavors in the finish.  Needs age.

2009 Reserva, Ribera del Duero – $120
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec which was aged 18 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a good nose followed by very young, concentrated flavors in the mouth.  There was lots of structure and acidity for aging, all of which was balanced.  There was a wood note followed by a dark red aftertaste.  This needs at least five years of age but will be lovely.

Table 27 – Celler del Roure

This winery features some interesting varietals including the experimental Mando.  The Cullerot Blanco is aged in buried clay jugs but it is a white wine not an orange wine.  It was interesting.

2011 Cullerot Blanco, Valencia – $15
This wine is a blend of 30% Verdil, 30% Pedro Ximenez, 20% Macabeo, and 20% Chardonnay aged for five months in buried tinaja clay jugs.  This had a different nose with a little cherry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were white and drier with a salty finish.

2011 Setze Gallets, Valencia – $11
This wine is a blend of 30% Garnacha Tintorera, 30% Monastrell, 25% Merlot, and 15% Mando which was aged five months in steel tanks.  There was a light, tight nose fo berries.  In the mouth it was young with simple flavors of black and red fruit.  There were very fine, drying tannins with light flavors for the structure.

2009 Maduresa, Valencia – $35
This wine is a blend of 25% Mando, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Monastrell, 15% Syrah, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot which was aged for 10-12 months in French oak barrels.  There was a good nose.  In the mouth the black and red fruit existed with a drying, powerful structure with drying tannins.