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Mid-week with Lou: Falkenstein, Pesquera, Ponsot, Tribouley, and more

November 11, 2019 Leave a comment

Mid-week tastings with Lou tend to feature wines that do not normally fit into a tasting theme.  Darryl has turned my attention to  Falkenstein so I could not resist trying the young but very good 2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel.  We then changed gears with the mature 2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray.  The luxurious body of the wine surprised me.  The feral smelling 2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes has completely clean strawberry and cranberry flavors in the mouth.  It is actually still young and worth tracking over the next several years.

I had high hope for the 1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero.  This bottle came from a great DC cellar which offered up beautiful bottles of first growth Bordeaux back to the 1950s and a wide range of top-notch Burgundy.  This bottle of Pesquera was quite good, evocative of Ribera del Duero, but the finish is a little short. I formed the impression it might not be the best example.  I have a second bottle so I will report back this winter.

Not quite satisfied, I opened up 1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche which also came from the same DC cellar.  I was told it was acquired upon release.  Served out of a decanter, this was a great bottle in great shape which continued to develop until none was left.  Lou and I just sat at the peninsula, chatting and drinking, completely satisfied, thrilled at how great mature Burgundy can be.  This is my first experience with Ponsot and I cannot wait for another!

2018 Hofgut Falkenstein, Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb AP11, Mosel – $27
A Lars Carlberg Selection imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 10%.  A pretty, floral nose.  Good body with gentle, lifted acidity and racy flavor.  It is a lively wine integrating sweet lemon flavors, chalky texture, and acidity.  Good presence.  **** Now – 2029.

2001 François Pinon, Cuvée 2001, Vouvray
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.2%.  A light yellow straw.  Chenin-like for sure, fresh and round with a woodsy/orchard note.  In good shape it develops both flesh and fat with a little tartness to keep it alive.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

2008 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Vieilles Vignes, Les Bacs, VdP Cotes Catalanes
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Alcohol 14.5%.  A little stinky but ultimately, ferale smelling.  Rounded and ripe in the mouth with a fine vein of black fruit.  It develops strawberry confit flavors in the glass with spicy structure and a red cranberry finish.  Quite youthful in the mouth with a good dose of structure.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1994 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez, Tinto Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
Imported by Classical Wines From Spain.  Alcohol 13%.  Advanced in color.  A deep nose which is robust with dark, lovely, maturing aromas.  It takes time to open up, eventually offering tart red fruit over an ethereal, dark soil foundation.  It fleshes out in the mouth but the finish stays shorter than I would hope for.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

1983 Domaine Ponsot, Clos de la Roche
Shipped by Robert Haas Selections and imported by Vineyard Brands.  Upon the first pour, this is a fresh, ripe, mouth-filling wine that is round and full of soil notes.  It is substantial in personality and flavor, offering sweet orange and red fruits, minerals, soil, and a long-lasting finish.  With air it shows chewy pungency and concentration.  The mature mixture of sous-bois adds to the balance of flavor, supported by good acidity and structure.  There is a tangy persistence to the aftertaste.  This will continue to develop for some time.  ****(*) Now – 2035.

A trio of interesting wines featuring Macabeau, Lledoner Pellut, and Carignan

November 1, 2019 Leave a comment

The three wines featured in this post are all imported by Cason Love of the new firm Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  I have never tried a wine from any of these producers which is not surprising given Love’s focus on small production vignerons from the south of France.  The No. 18 La Soula, Trigone white hails from Fenouilledes in French Catalonia.  It is an interesting blend of both grapes and vintages.  Once open, it drinks well for several days consistently delivering an interesting progression of mouthfeel from start to finish.  It tastes good too!  Also from Fenouilledes is the 2018 Domaine Benastra, La Petite Soeur, Cotes Catalanes.  It is a brighter cherry and strawberry flavored wine, which will develop through the winter.  From Hautes-Corbieres, the 2018 Domaine des Deux Cles, Cles en Main sports darker fruit and youthful ruggedness yet is bright in acidity.  With a good nose and some herbs and fat in the finish, I recommend tracking the progression of this wine.  Overall, good wines at strong prices for a new portfolio.

No. 18 La Soula, Trigone white – $22 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 45% Macabeau, 31% Vermentino, 22% Sauvignon blanc, and 2% Grenache blanc, Marsanne, and Roussane from vines on soils of decomposed granite.  It is blended from the 2018 and 2017 vintages.  It was raised in a mixed of tank, oak tanks, and oak barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%. A very light, straw color.  Fresh in the mouth with good acidity lifting the bright, white fruit.  As the wine progresses it develops into a weighty, creamy middle followed by a lemon flavored finish with chalk and stones.  With air it takes on a touch of earth and good body.  Articulate in flavor this is my favorite of the trio.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2018 Domaine Benastra, La Petite Soeur, Cotes Catalanes – $15 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 40% Lledoner Pellut, 20% Carignan, 20% Syrah, and 20% Grenache Noir fermented in stainless-steel and concrete tanks then aged in concrete tank and oak casks.  .  Alcohol 13%. A little bit of cherry and strawberry at the start then tart, citric acidity mixes to become more acidity driven and dry in flavor by the finish.  It develops a black cherry flavor and some baking spices.  The pithey structure on the gums should help see this open up with a bit of age.  *** Now – 2023.

2018 Domaine des Deux Cles, Cles en Main – $18 at MacArthur Beverages
Imported by Terres Blanches Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Carignan and Syrah fermented and aged in a mixture of concrete and stainless-steel tanks. Alcohol 14%.  Mulberry on the nose and dark red fruit in the mouth.  Medium bodied with bright acidity and tart flavor it brings on attractive herbs and a touch of fat by the finish and baking spices in the aftertaste.  It is a little rugged in its youth, lending attraction, and should develop over the winter.  *** Now – 2023.

A group of mostly red Rhones

The 2013 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cuvee Jules Rochebonne, Cotes du Rhone is the latest vintage of a cuvee I have long liked.  The flavors will evoke previous vintages but this 2013 offering is a bit firm with less intensity.  It is still a wine worthing drinking for its flavor.  A sound value in black, minerally Gigondas is the 2012 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas.  This is quite tight with a does of tannins typical of Gigondas so give it a few years in the cellar.  I was not prepared for the beautiful nose and flavors of the 2014 Domaine de Coste Chaude, Cuvee Madrigal, Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan.  This floral wine already shows good complexity all around but should please for several more years to come.  If you want to drink liquid rocks then look no further than the 2013 Lafage, Tessellae, Cotes Catalanes.  This lovely value should hit its stride later this year.  Priced at $12 the 2013 Kermit Lynch, Cypress Cuvee, Cotes du Rhone will provide a bit of everything you may want from a Cotes du Rhone.   Drink this gentle wine by the case.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Cuvee Jules Rochebonne, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Simon N’ Cellars. This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache.  The former was aged for 18 months in stainless steel tanks and the later for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. The good nose smells of perfumed young fruit. In the mouth this wine is definitely firm with a dose of tannins. The flavors are lighter but true to the cuvee. It wraps up with another dose of structure, some vanilla, and a bit of roughness. **(*) 2017-2023.

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2012 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux, La Tour Sarrasine, Gigondas – $20
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age. Alcohol 14.5%. There is a dark start before red and eventually black, mineral flavors come out. There is a touch of inky lipstick. This is a rather mineral wine with dry flavors. Clearly young, this leaves very fine tannins on the gums. ***(*) 2018-2023.

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2014 Domaine de Coste Chaude, Cuvee Madrigal, Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan – $15
Imported by DS Trading Company. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, and 30% Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose is floral with young spiced fruit. Actually, it is quite beautiful. The purple and black fruited flavors are dry with a persistant floral quality. The flavors build in ripeness yet there is a dry texture through the finish. The acidity, though integrated, is very much present. With air the wine takes on more weight with minerals and a very dry, firm, bitter flavored finish. *** Now – 2020.

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2013 Lafage, Tessellae, Cotes Catalanes – $15
Imported by Eric Solomon/ European Cellars.  This wine is 100% old-vine Carignan sourced from schist soils.  Alcohol 14.5%. The bright, yet firm black and red fruit took some some black, ripe flavors by the finish. The wine tastes as if sourced from stone soils with watering acidity and a building intensity of minerals and stones. Needs a wee bit of age to open up. **(*) 2016-2020.

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2013 Kermit Lynch, Cypress Cuvee, Cotes du Rhone – $12
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvedre is sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age.  It was fermented and aged in cement tanks.  Alcohol 13.5 %. The linear black fruit flavors have a ripeness matched by the coarse tannins. The wine becomes gentler towards the finish with a light amount of structure and watering acidity suitable for a wee bit of age. I just wish the fruit intensity stepped up at the end. ** 2016-2019.

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Basement Bottles from France and Austria

March 27, 2015 2 comments

In case you are wondering if I am trapped beneath my wine fridge, I am not.  I simply ran out of time between re-arranging our entire house so that our hardwood floors could be refinished and doing some quick turnaround research.  Despite my absence of writing I continue to taste wine in our  basement encampment.  And despite this short post I recommend you pick up both the 2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes and 2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich.  The former is a little more serious whereas the later is all fun.  Enjoy! These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine de Majas, Syrah, Ravin des Sieurs, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 35 year old vines on clay and limestone with schist soils.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in concrete.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was grapey red fruit on the nose that opened up to good, dark fruit aromas.  In the mouth the tangy fruit was up front with acidity on the front of the tongue.  The dry black fruit was matched by attractive, drying tannins on the gums.  There were brighter flavors and salivating acidity in the finish.  With air this wine showed acidity and structure for short term age but maintained levity.  A nice wine.  *** Now-2019.

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2012 Markus Huber, Hugo Red, Niederösterreich  – $12
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of Zweigelt and Gamay which was fermented in stainless steel then aged in both stainless steel and large oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an attractive, light and articulate nose of black fruit with underlying greenhouse aromas.  There was a little more ripeness in the mouth around a core of cherry black fruit.  There was  a slight, ripe tannic structure.  With air the wine took on some weight, cocoa flavors, and a bit of a silky feel.  *** Now-2016.

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Mature and earthy wines from Domaine Matassa

This pair of wines from Domaine Matassa represents the latest in a string of unique wines now available at MacArthur Beverages.  The proprietor of the domaine, Tom Lubbe is a New Zealander who came to the Roussillon by way of South Africa.  He actually worked with Gerard Gauby of Domaine Gauby and in marrying his sister, he established himself in France.  For a detailed background please read Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes from Domaine Matassa.  I first poured the 2009 Domaine Matassa, Blanc, VdP des Cotes Catalanes without regard to the vintage.  The maturity of the wine was immediately obvious which tickled me since this is a current release.  If you like apple-orchards and mature white wine, even Chardonnay based, then you must grab a bottle.  It drinks great right now but there is enough grip, tannins, and acidity that this will last for some time.  while I usually proceed from white to red I normally do not move to a younger vintage.  For me the 2011 Domaine Matassa, El Sarrat, VdP des Cotes Catalanes was all about the earthy, animale aromas and flavors that infused the redder fruit.  It was a bit much for Jenn and I am sure it will for others, but for me it was in balance.  Good stuff!

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2009 Domaine Matassa, Blanc, VdP des Cotes Catalanes – $35
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache Gris and 30% Maccabeu sourced from vines on soils of schists and slate slopes.  The fruit was whole bunch pressed in a wooden basket-press, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged on the lees for 18 months in barrel.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium nut colored straw.  The nose was nutty at first then revealed apple fruit aromas and maturity.  The wine was gently round with almost lifted flavors that became savory and racy.  With air the wine tightened up to show more grip with tannins on the gums and a long aftertaste of white and amber apples.  **** Now-2018.

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2011 Domaine Matassa, El Sarrat, VdP des Cotes Catalanes – $33
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Mourvedre sourced from vines on soils of schists and slate slopes.  The fruit was destemmed, underwent gentle foot-treading, fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 14 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There were generous earthy aromas mixing with red berries and a natural wine hint.  In the mouth were dry, lifted flavors with the acidity on the front of the tongue.  The flavors were certainly earthy and foxy.  The wine cleaned up with air showing red and black fruit with minerals, a drying structure, citrus hints in the finish, good grip, and a long, fresh animale aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2022?

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Wines from La Vrille et Le Papillon, La Folie Lucé, and Jean-Louis Tribouley

September 12, 2014 1 comment

The wines features in today’s post comes from three very different regions of the Rhone, Loire, and Roussillon.  What they have in common, beyond the importer, is they are smaller, individually driven efforts.  The 2012 La Vrille et Le Papillon, Z Rouge, Ardeche bears a “Z” for zero-sulphur.   I thought this was evident on the nose but in no way were the flavors strange.  This wine needs a bit of air for the interesting flavors to come out at which point it drinks well.  The 2010 La Folie Lucé, Autrement, Saumur Champigny shows an interesting herbaceousness but in this case it is wildly tropical.  Though it is young and best left in the cellar, the nervy quality is attractive.  There is a strong future for the 2010 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Orchis Vieilles Vignes, VdP des Cotes Catalanes.  From the tobacco aromas to the floral infused fruit there is a lot to like.  I would leave it in the cellar or wine fridge for a few years to let it relax and open up.  So perhaps drink the La Vrille et Le Papillon now while you let the La Folie Lucé and Jean-Louis Troubley improve in the cellar.   These wines were purchased at Weygandt Wines.

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2012 La Vrille et Le Papillon, Z Rouge, Ardeche – $26
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Syrah, completely organic, and bottled without sulphur. Alcohol 12.5%.  The light nose mixed berries, natural wine aromas, and tea smoked berries.  In the mouth were incensed flavors of dry, bright fruit that was underlaid by black fruit and acidity.  The flavors remained tart with a bit of a spicy tannins.  The tannins coated the sides of the cheeks.  With air the wine developed flavors of graphite, young fine fruit, and a light orange-wood note.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 La Folie Lucé, Autrement, Saumur Champigny – $40
Imported by Weygandt-Wines.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines averaging 30 years of age on more chalky soils. It was raised in used oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  There was an interesting nose of black fruit and aromas from a greenhouse full of tropical plants.  The mouth followed the nose with rounded red and black fruit that had a nervy tartness.  There were tight, ripe flavors then some ripe tannins on the gums, followed but  a tart, citrus pith aftertaste.  **(*) 2015-2020.

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2010 Jean-Louis Tribouley, Orchis Vieilles Vignes, VdP des Cotes Catalanes – $30
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The attractive nose bore aromas of focused ripe berries and tobacco.  In the mouth were both tart and ripe flavors of black and red fruit that left citric tannins on the g um.  The wine was a little chewy with long tannins that were a little spicy and matched a Big Red flavor.  This was a good, young wine that became better with air.  It eventually took on violet infused black fruit, some lipstick, and dry spices.  **(*) 2016-2024.

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Four From France

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Of the four wines below you may drink the 2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine while the 2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue ages.  The later was surprisingly well balanced and remained tight over two nights so definitely leave it alone in the cellar.  The 2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure is approachable at this point but I would cellar it to develop complexity.   I gather the 2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises is a “natural wine”.  The nose is certainly unique and stimulating to smell.  Otherwise it is a grapey wine to drink now.  It was not my preferred style.  The Domaine La Casenove was purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the rest at Chambers Street Wines.

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2009 Domaine La Casenove, La Garrigue, Cotes Catalanes – $18
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Grenache, and 30% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose remained tight with whiffs of herbs and black fruit.  In the mouth were concentrated ripe fruit, a hint of woodbox, and a Bordeaux like nature.  With air there were focused ripe, black fruit, cool acidity before becoming dry and firm in the finish.  There was good clean, balance all around so this wine should develop quite well.  **(*) 2015-2025.

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2009 Domaine du Traginer, Collioure – $19
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is a blend of 25% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache, and 25% Carignan.  Alcohol 13.5%,  The wine starts a little soft and encompassing then builds good blue fruit with texture and some tartness.  The tannins were enjoyable and evident in the finish, along with acidity.  This is a young but approachable example of affordable Collioure.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2012 Domaine La Ferme Saint-Martin, La gerine, Ventoux – $13
Imported by Fruit of the Vines.  Alcohol 13%.  The flavors were a little tart with red fruit and orange peel that became a little round.  The ripe citric acidity on the tongue mixed with the orange and red flavors.  The wine was on the lighter side but had serious, young fruit.  Despite the fruity  structure this is an early drinking wine.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Axel Prufer, Four du roi, Le temps de cerises – $23
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is a blend of 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Carignan, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon with was produced using carbonic maceration and no sulphur. Alcohol 12%.  The nose bore a mixture of old and vintage perfumes, evocative of a 1980s “country store.”  The wine was prickly at first then settled down, like a grapey natural wine with red fruit.  The flavors were acidity driven with plenty of mid-plate acidity and the tiniest Pilsner hint.  ** Now.

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