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Posts Tagged ‘Coteaux du Layon’

Several recent bottles drunk with friends and one without

It is a treat to have friends with strong interests in cookbooks, cooking, and cocktails who are both curious and excited to try new wines.  This meant that earlier this year I shared bottles not just from France but Croatia, Turkey, and Israel.  These were all youngs wine that I opened to expand their experience with wine regions.  At the beginning of the summer I was fortunate to purchase a number of old and mature wines (in case you have not yet noticed the radical shift in average vintage that Lou and I have been opening).  With a slew of vintages mostly from the 1970s my patiently cellared Rhone wines from the 1998 vintage now seem no longer precious.  Though modest in selection, they were the oldest bottles I owned so I held fast.

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At a small dinner this past weekend we started off with the recently acquired 2007 Yves Cuilleron, Les Poitiers, Saint-Peray.  I had no clue what to expect nor did Phil who pointed the wine out at MacArthur Beverages.  This blend of Marsanne and Roussanne was surprisingly young!  It showed some maturity in color but the palate was fresh with good acidity.  I did not take any notes at dinner so I am curious to try another bottle.

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We then proceeded to a trio of red wines including the previously described 2003 Brick House, Cuvée du Tonnelier, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley.  The other two bottles were minor Chateauneuf du Pape that I had forgotten about until I unpacked my wine in the new house.  I was expecting less from the 1998 Comte Louis de Clermont-Tonnerre, Chateauneuf du Pape but it offered plenty of fruity aromas and a burst of clean, uncomplicated fruit in the mouth.  The finish was rather short and my interest faded fast.  I called it a one trick pony to which S. commented that he liked this pony.  I think though he ultimately preferred the 1998 Domaine Saint Benoit Grande Garde, Chateauneuf du Pape which was clearly favorite amongst the group.  It was austere at first but over a few hours it fleshed out to show reasonable complexity and appealing structure.  You could drink this now after an hour in the decanter or over the next five years.

With that selection largely finished I returned with a double-decanted bottle of 1975 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac.  This particular example was rather stinky with a strong leather component on the nose and in the mouth.  It was too distracting so I eventually gassed and re-corked it.  I finished off the bottle the next night after which the stink had left.  The leather was still prominent but the wine had some heft and made for a decent Sunday night drink.  With the Pichon out of favor I then returned with the bizarrely consistent 1971 Chateau Montgrand-Milon, Pauillac.  This wine is very stable (perhaps filtered?), showing good fruit and though smaller in personality, is engaging enough.  I suspect it would work well at lunch.

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For dessert Lou opened the 2007 Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux du Layon.  This sweet, Chenin Blanc based wine drank forward without being heavy.  It was a spot-on match for our raspberry tart and a good note to end the evening.

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One bottle that Jenn and I drank alone this week is the 2000 Domaine La Garrigue, Vacqueyras.  Apparently I bought four of these, of which I discovered three bottles at the time I also discovered the pair of 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape.  My tasting note from four years ago did not offer much promise.  I was hoping for bottle variation in the positive direction but this was not the case.  It remained ethereal in flavor with very fine, drying tannins, and some heat.  It only became harder with air.  Drinkable but not pleasurable.

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An Older-Wine Dinner at Joan’s House

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Joan has been a lover of fine wine for quite some time. She has bought a variety of wines over the years both from local stores and also on national and international wine trips. She has held on to particular bottles which she likes to bring out once they are mature. Joan recently hosted a dinner so that she could open the 1992 and 1993 Beringer, Private Reserve. The wines this evening were lovely. With the exception of the completely faded fruit of the Veedercrest all of the bottles were in great shape and developed throughout the course of the evening. My thanks go out to Joan for hosting an evening of wonderful food and wine.

2010 Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, Les clapas Blanc, VdP de l’Herault
Imported by Elite Wines. This a blend of 40% Carignan Blanc, 30% Granache Blanc, and 30% Terret Bourret. Though a lighter color in the glass the nose was medium strength with focused aromas of white flowers and stones. This medium bodied wine offered lemon flavors with plenty of stone notes, tilting towards a tart profile with green apple flavors. This was a fresh wine that is young and will benefit from short-term cellaring. If you must drink it now then decant it for one to two hours. *** 2015-2019.

2009 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Les Caillerets, Chassagne Montracher 1er Cru
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. Two-thirds of the fruit is sourced from 60-year-old vines with the remaining third from 20-year-old vines. The nose was young with a subtle ripeness of fruit mixed with flint. The gentle texture bore apple-like tart fruit which developed lifted flavors of flint as the wine breathed. There were some toast notes in the finish. This tight wine slowly developed before the bottle was finished, this definitely requires cellaring before it will reveal its full personality. **(**) 2017-2022.

Opening the red wines

After the Bouillabaise we moved onto the red wines. Joan cooked braised short-ribs accompanied by roasted Brussel sprouts and root vegetables. The Veedercrest and Beringers had been stood up a day or two ahead and opened shortly before being poured. The Judd’s Hill had been double-decanted to remove sediment thus had four to five hours of air.

Corks from the 1974 Veedercrest and 1993 Beringer

I did not start with the best luck in removing the corks. The Judd’s Hill cork crumbled in two using a waiter’s corkscrew and the 1992 Beringer cork got stuck. So I switched to my poor-man’s Durand corkscrew composed of the worm from a Screwpull and an Ah-So. This worked wonders with the Beringer corks. The Veedercrest cork did not want to come out so at Lou’s advice I put the bottle on the floor between my feet. After some concentrated tugging and twisting it finally came free!

1974 Veedercrest Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Cask YUG 77 Batch 2, Sonoma County
This was a vibrant medium garnet color. The musky nose was animale with dark fruit notes. Eventually the musk blew off to reveal a nose of old wood. The flavors were light in the mouth, still a little acidity to keep things going. The fruit had faded way leaving old sweet wood notes. * Now.

1992 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 57% Bancroft Ranch, 21% State Lane, 14% St. Helena Home, and 5% Chabot along with Cabernet Franc from Bancroft. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. This was a medium garnet color. The nose was medium strength with aromas of meat stew, a little roast, and Hoison sauce (or was it sweet soy sauce?). The complex flavors were very expansive at the start before a midpalate of tart red and black fruit flavors. With air the roast veggies and soy/Hoison sauce remained but the fruit became riper and balanced everything out. **** Now-2017.

1993 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 62% Bancroft Ranch, 24% St. Helena Home, and 11% Tre Colline along with 2% Cabernet Franc from Bancroft and 1% Cabernet Franc from Tre Colline. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. The nose was subtler than the 1992 with the fruit more primary and aromas of herbs. In the mouth the youthful flavors were subtler, a little chewy as they were mixed with grapey tannins. There was a lovely cedar box component in the tart and gritty finish. **** Now-2019.

1997 Judd’s Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Compared to the Beringers the nose was simpler with riper fruit and tobacco with the aromas becoming delineated with air. In the mouth the youthful and tight flavors were of tart red fruit, tobacco, and cedar. But over the evening it started to open up very well. This is a lovely wine just hinting at maturity and will undoubtedly develop for many years to come. ***(*) 2015-2025.

After the red wines we moved onto a trio of desserts made by Joan’s friend Patty. To accompany the fruit tart, rice pudding, and apple cobbler Joan offered a selection of dessert wines with Lou picking one from the Loire. Located within the Coteaux du Layon the village of Chaume sets its own requirements which include a significantly higher minimum level of sugar from grapes that must be affected by botrytis (noble rot) or passerillage (drying of the grapes by the sun). Joan used to drink quite a few wines from Chaume with this particular bottle purchased for $23 from MacArthur Beverages some years ago. After trying this bottle I am kicking myself for being content to read about these sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc instead of actually drinking them!

1997 Domaine Cady, Coteaux du Layon Chaume
Imported by Vintner Select. There was a woodsy amber color. This was fun to smell with aromas of maderized pear and apple that opened up rapidly. In the mouth the flavors were well-perfumed with lots of residual sugar but good acidity, plenty of sweet spices, flavors of apricot, and an unctuous caramelized apple-cinnamon and sugar vein. Incredibly tasty and enjoyed by all. **** Now-2025.

Lou, Joan, and the Author