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Recent French Wines

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

french

The time I spend on research continues unabated but I am still tasting wine every day. Here is a group of tasting notes from the most recently consumed French wines.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 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%.  There is a complex, meaty, black fruited nose which takes on a tobacco and smoke hint.  In the mouth are some bitter black fruit, coarser, spaced-out tannins, and that ethereal flavor consistent with this cuvee.  There is the meaty Syrah component but the wine tightens up with air.  Might rate higher with age.  *** 2018-2023.

2015 Camille Cayran, L’Elegante, Cairanne – $15
Imported by G & B Importers.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 20% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose sports good perfume, violets, and pepper hints.  In the mouth it is still a bit tight with focused blue and black fruit.  There is a dense, citrus, and powdery flavored middle.  It softens a touch with an inky finish and some fine pencil notes.  This still needs a year to relax the drying tannins.  *** 2017-2020.

2014 Olga Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon – $18
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 13%.  The floral, leaning towards vegetal nose makes way to black fruit flavors in the mouth.  Saline flavors give a sense of weight but tart, vegetal black fruit comes out.  This salty wine has edge acidity and is more for short term drinking.  ** Now – 2018.

2015 Herve Souhaut, Syrah, Vin de France -$27
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  There are gentle, attractive flavors of violets and orange flavored fruit.  The dry structure is apparent from the start as is the moderately watery and juicy acidity which carries through the dry flavors of graphite in the finish.  The wine does come across with some vibrancy and with air shows that it needs time to develop.  ***(*) 2018-2023.

2015 Domaine de la Voute des Crozes, Cotes de Brouilly – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is subtle yet bright.  The tart red fruited entry does build weight into the linear, citric acidity infused middle.  There is a touch of ethereal, ripe powdery flavors but that tart start never leaves one’s mind.  It finishes with salivating acidity and a ripe hint of citric fruit and tannins left on the gum. **(*) 2017-2020.

A pair of 2015 Beaujolais from Daniel Bouland

October 14, 2016 Leave a comment

The pair of 2015 wines I tasted from Daniel Bouland offer impressive levels of color and flavor at attractive prices.  The 2015 Daniel Bouland, Cuvee Melanie, Cote de Brouilly is the most forward, generous, and full-bodied of the two.  Tasted blind I would not guess Beaujolais due to the roundness.  While you can drink it now, I would recommend waiting until next year. The 2015 Daniel Bouland, Vieilles Vignes Corcelette, Morgon is even darker and to go with that, it is in need of age.  There is a core of dark fruit with a ripe, citric structure throughout, and tense acidity that will see this wine through development over the next several years.  I recommend drinking the Brouilly now while you let the Morgon age.  These wines are available at Weygandt-Wines.

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2015 Daniel Bouland, Cuvee Melanie, Cote de Brouilly – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 70 year old vines on volcanic schist.  Alcohol 14.5%.  It is rather dark in the glass with a grapey color.  The nose offers youthful aromas of concentrated, grapey berries.  In the mouth it is rounder, quickly building weight with almost puckering acidity that grabs you.  It is balanced with citric tannins and a brighter finish that leaves tannins on the gums  ***(*) Now – 2021.

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2015 Daniel Bouland, Vieilles Vignes Corcelette, Morgon – $27
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 60-70 year old vines aged in both tank and foudre.  Alcohol 14.3%.  This is a very dark grapey-ruby color.  The offers low-lying aromas of dark red fruit.  In the mouth this is a structured, mineral wine with a core of grapey fruit and ripe citric tannins throughout.  With air the wine becomes attractively tense, building flavors until the earthy finish which leaves a dose of drying tannins.  ***(*) 2018-2025.

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A Trio of 2015 Beaujolais

September 13, 2016 Leave a comment

I am surrounded by Rhone-loving wine friends of whom Phil and Lou have extolled the virtues of young and old cru Beaujolais. Relatively new to this group, to me that is not his appreciation, is Bill. After a long lunch at Black Sal, Bill and I both walked over to MacArthur Beverages to pick up a few bottles. Bill recommended I try the latest release of Marcel Lapierre’s Morgon.

The 2015 vintage is reportedly strong in many regions of France and based on three different wines I had this past week, it is a potent vintage in Beaujolais. In fact, I liked the 2015 Lapierre, Morgon so much I returned to the store a second time in one week so that I could share a bottle with my brother-in-law. He too is a Rhone lover but during long stays in France and Switzerland, he and his wife would travel down to purchase Morgon in bulk from cask.

During our lunch Bill described a limit in expression for Beaujolais which could be experienced at relatively low cost. The 2015 Lapierre, Morgon must represent that limit for a young wine. It is generous in fruit yet already complex, clearly a wine to drink within a few years than one to hold on to. What caught me is the crispness of the wine which makes for the perfect delivery of the flavor. Stock up and start drinking!

Almost as impressive is the 2015 Chateau Thivin, Cotes de Brouilly, also imported by Kermit Lynch. For flavor think purple, black, and mineral. The acidity is dialed down in comparison to the Lapierre, making fine, cutting delivery. This wine is one to age for the short-term. Also in need of a little age is the 2015 Domaine du Vissoux (Chermette), Cuvee traditionnelle, Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes. Recommended to me by Warren, this is a finely textured wine, with focused, grapey flavors that should open up with slight age. I thought it drank best on the second night.

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2015 Lapierre, Morgon – $25
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose reveals earthy waves of aroma mixing with vintage floral perfume that speaks of complexity. In the mouth the dense flavors are of spiced red and black fruit with just the right amount of lively acidity. In fact, the wine is almost crisp with a moderate structure for the rather short term. With air subtle, sweaty and earthy sweet fruit come out. One bottle developed a hint of banana whereas another was a touch more pure. **** Now – 2019.

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2015 Chateau Thivin, Cotes de Brouilly – $24
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 13%. Darker, more purple and black fruit, remained focused throughout consumption. The wine is impressively mineral with a cutting vein of acidity. With good stuffing, this wine could stand a year or two to open up. ***(*) 2017-2022.

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2015 Domaine du Vissoux (Chermette), Cuvee traditionnelle, Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes – $18
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 13%. This is a focused, linear wine with black and red fruit woven with moderate tannins. It is grapey in flavor with a little spice in the end where there is a finely textured and dry finish. *** 2017-2020.

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2013 Rosé and Rouge from Chateau Thivin

September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Chateau Thivin‘s red Côtes des Brouilly has consistently appeared on this blog for several vintages.  What has never appeared is the Beaujolais Villages Rosé before.  This is a somewhat unique post in that the latest release of the Beaujolais Villages Rosé  and Côtes de Brouilly are both from the 2013 vintage!  This vintage follows the massively hail-damaged 2012 vintage.  Over in Bristol, Avery’s found the 2013 vintage also being tricky and small but found there was “lovely richness of fruit and balance.”  If I summed up both of these wines it too would be good fruit and impeccable balance.  Why not try both this weekend? These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Chateau Thivin, Rosé, Beaujolais Villages – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay Noir.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was of light copper and dried rose.  The nose was delicately textured with aromas of fresh, red fruit.  The wine made a tart start followed by gently ripe flavors that took on some weight.  With air and warmth the ripe strawberry and cherry flavors took form, lying on the tongue until the tart and lemon-infused finish came out.  *** Now.

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2013 Chateau Thivin, Côtes de Brouilly – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a nose of red fruit with fresh, red cranberries.  In the mouth this bright red wine had seamless acidity that was slightly outgoing.  There was a lovely blend of components from orange-zest, some tartness, a wood note, and a moderate tannic structure.  Overall this wine appears best for the short-term which means you should enjoy it right now.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 and 2013 Beaujolais from Foillard, Martray, Metras, and Thivin

December 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Molaire d’Elephas primigenius de Villefranche. Image from “Le Beaujolais Prehistorique”, Bulletin of the Societe d’Anthropologie et de Biologie de Lyon. 1899.

The only Beaujolais Nouveau party I attended took place some 20 years ago when I was a student at Bristol University.  The Bristol Wine Circle sponsored the party which was held in the Student Union building.  They managed to secure a sizeable space and an absurdly large amount of wine.  There were 10 or 12 different wines, each one arrayed on their own table.  The group of which were set out in a U shape.  Behind each table stood a member of the Wine Circle ready to pour or open more bottles and underneath each table were extra cases of wine to keep the party going.  There was a cover charge which entitled one to drink as much as possible or desired.  The wines were fine, certainly nothing compelling to my novice palate.  Each table had opened several bottles of wine to be ready for the expected crowds.  Despite the promise of unlimited wine, the crowds never showed up.  A general order to stop uncorking bottles went out followed by the order to dispatch throughout the Union to gather thirsty students.

I went to the rather large pub, which was a haze of music, bright lights, strobes, and the smell of beer.  I was unsuccessful in encouraging students to switch from paying for each pint to drinking liters of wine.  One student responded, knowingly, “why would I drink that stuff?”  My disposition at the time was that there were certainly other 18 year old students with a developed appreciation of wine.  I certainly thought so that night but it could also have been an immunity to unlimited amounts of alcohol.  There were student pubs in the dormitories which periodically cleared stock by holding Drink The Bar Dry nights.  These were structured to progressively decrease the price of drinks as the evening progressed.  They certainly were not designed to raise money as with resident students behind the bars, there were many free drinks handed out.  Glasses, bottles, and bodied piled up at a geometric rate.  Whatever the reason, our Beaujolais Nouveau party ended early.  We packed up the unopened bottles then headed to a nearby wine bar for glasses of Port.

Neolithic Silex implements from Station d’Odenas. Image from “Le Beaujolais Prehistorique”, Bulletin of the Societe d’Anthropologie et de Biologie de Lyon. 1899.

The soils of Beaujolais have yielded a diverse set of prehistoric artifacts.  These range from molars to stone implements to bronze tools.   It is rather fascinating to think that roots of some grapevines may intermingle such artifacts.  I wonder if there are some very small parcels of vines somewhere which are directly influenced by such items.  Imagine fruit sourced in Maryland from soils of late Woodland shell middens, bronze influenced vines of France, or a parcel on decomposed Roman ruins.

From the Bronze Age. Image from “Le Beaujolais Prehistorique”, Bulletin of the Societe d’Anthropologie et de Biologie de Lyon. 1899.

This week I tasted through several bottles of Beaujolais.  My return to Beaujolais Nouveau took place with the 2013 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau.  Phil recommended the wine to me and I recommend it to you.  Perhaps it may seem a few weeks late to be writing about Nouveau but this is a serious wine.  The fruit is sourced from vines in Courcelles which is literally located just outside of the Morgon appellation.  This tastes like a “regular” Beaujolais with some depth and minerals.  My first exposure to the wines of Yvon Metras was the 2012 Yvon Metras, Beaujolais.  His wines have not been regularly imported into America for a number of years so it is rare stuff.  That fact combined with the 50% reduction in yield for the 2012 vintage means you should grab some before it disappears.  This was a very “natural” wine which I preferred best on the first night.  At the time I imagined I was drinking from a straw which went straight to France.  The 2012 Chateau Thivin, Cotes de Brouilly was more approachable than the 2011 was in youth.  It has good concentration, presence, and should develop well in the cellar.  Last is the 2011 Laurent Martray, Combiaty Vieilles Vignes, Brouilly.  It is full of earth and old-perfume which is a combination I really like.  I would give it a few more months to sort itself out.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau – $18
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines which are 40-60 years old on soils of sand.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light ruby cranberry.  The nose bore cherry fruit, some black fruit, and a hint of pepper.  In the mouth were bright, red cherry flavors at the start followed by some depth and a pepper hint.  It takes on mineral flavors towards the finish. ** Now-2014.

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2012 Yvon Metras, Beaujolais – $25
Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light, slightly cloudy (bottle has sediment) cranberry.  The nose was of fresh berries, floral perfume, complex spice, and citrus.  It eventually took on rose-hip tea and potpourri aromas.  In the mouth the wine began with lots of ripe, lemon acidity, some yeast, followed by tangy and citrus red fruit.  It taste incredibly fresh with lots of tang and a little grip in the finish.  On the second night it had a more pronounced yeast flavor and strong flavors evocative of dried popcorn in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.

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2012 Chateau Thivin, Cotes de Brouilly – $20
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a nose of low-lying, strawberry aromas and mixed fruit.  In the mouth were black and red fruit followed by mineral notes and more black fruit.  The wine is compact then opens up with some concentration and a touch of ripe, grip.  It returns to black and red fruit in the finish.  With air it takes on firm stones in the finish with plentiful and good acidity.  There is good presence in the aftertaste.  *** 2014-2019.

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2011 Laurent Martray, Combiaty Vieilles Vignes, Brouilly – $15
Imported by Elite Wine Imports.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40 year old vines which is aged in large oak foudres.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was earthy with pepper and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth were light black fruit flavors.  The earthy component built towards the finish along with old-school perfume.  There was a ripe hint in the finish.  With air pepper notes developed as well as a moderate structure.  The acidity was on the front and sides of the tongue.  It had a stone firmness to the structure.  On the first night it had the most earthy and old perfume while on the second night it had more firm, red fruit and dry stone flavors.  **(*) 2014-2018.

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Beaujolais from Chateau Thivin and Domaine du Vissoux

May 29, 2013 1 comment

Somehow I never posted about the 2010 Chateau Thivin, Cotes du Brouilly.  It is possible it slipped through the cracks so while I look through my old notes you can cellar the 2011 vintage.  It has similar puckering flavors of cran-raspberry but remained somewhat tight.  The 2011 Domaine du Vissoux, Cuvee Traditionnelle is quite attractive in both flavor and price.  It remained my favorite of this pair of wines.  I would personally cellar it until the fall.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Chateau Thivin, Cotes du Brouilly – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  It was aged for six months in oak foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose revealed fresh berries.  In the mouth there were very fresh, tart berries which became almost puckering in the middle with black-red fruit flavor.  There were juicy, puckering flavors on the tip and sides of the tongue with acidity as the foundation of the wine.  With air cran-raspberry flavors came out with grapey purple flavors and some structure. **(*) 2014-2017.

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2011 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Domaine du Vissoux, Cuvee traditionnelle, Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais – $15
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 35-85 year old vines which underwent semi-carbonic maceration in stainless steel and cement followed by 4-6 months aging in old wood tuns.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a hint of beer on the nose.  In the mouth there was tangy red and black fruit on the front of the tongue with acidity moving the flavors forward. Firm red fruit , and powdery high-toned red fruit mixed with a little acidity on the sides of the tongue. With some air some spice came out.  This wine had good personality, a little expansion, and freshness. *** Now-2015.

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I Enjoy Wines from Brouilly

July 13, 2012 2 comments

Brouilly is the largest and southernmost of the Beaujolais Crus.  Centered on the volcanic Mount Brouilly wines bearing the Brouilly designation may come from the surrounding 1200 hectares.  Cotes de Brouilly is limited to some 300 hectares located at the top of Mount Brouilly where there are blue granite soils mixed with volcanic minerals.  Take a quick look at the images below.  The labels of Chateau Thivin and Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes share the same origins.  Shortly after the First World War Yvonne Chanrion (of Pavillon de Chavannes) married Claude Geoffray (of Chateau Thivin).  The couple added to the estates over the years.  They never bore children and Yvonne outlived Claude.  Upon Yvonne’s death the properties reverted to both sides of the family.  The label was originally created by the couple in the 1930s and is now jointly used by these separate wineries.

Cote de Brouilly, Image by igormaynaud (flickr)

We first drank the Chateau Thivin in our basement during the massive power-outage.  It was surprisingly good so I was content to just drink some while I read my book by headlamp.  Upon picking up a second bottle I decided to try a few more wines from Brouilly.  I still really like the Chateau Thivin for its lively depth and minerals.  It is drinking well right now, perhaps give it a little air, and should continue to do so for several years.  The Pavillon de Chavannes was unyielding on the first night.  After several more hours of air on the second night it began to reveal its interesting charms.  The Robert Perroud was enjoyable but I would recommend spending the $2 for the Chateau Thivin.  I have no experience with aged Beaujolais Cru so my age estimates are quite rough.  What is important is that the Chateau Thivin is drinking well now but the other two require further bottle age. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.  It was aged for six months in oak foudres.  An almost medium color.  The light+ nose is weighty with aromas of ripe, dark berries and cran-raspberry.  In the mouth the brighter red fruit has depth and is puckering.  There are sweet spices, lovely tannins, and fresh energetic fruit.  Wit air a fine mineral texture develops that mixes nicely with the pungent berries.  *** 2014-2017.

2009 Robert Perroud, l’Enfer des Balloquets, Brouilly – $15
Imported by Wine Traditions Ltd.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It is aged for six months in used oak barrels.  there is a lovely scented and textured nose of fine-grained fruit.  In the mouth the flavors are a little tart with a touch of wood before the wine becomes focused.  Things tighten up in the finish.  This lively wine tastes young and needs a few years of age.  ** 2014-2019.

2010 Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes, Cuvee des Ambassades, Cote de Brouilly – $19
Imported by Vintage ’59.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from the estate’s 12 best acres.  It is fermented in cement vat then aged in foudre.  The color is a light cran-raspberry.  The nose is light and finely textured. In the mouth the acidity is immediately apparent as raspberry flavors morph into bright, tart red fruit with an orange citrus sweetness.  The dusty minerality builds into the finish than lasts in the aftertaste.  There is definite structure here marked by drying tannins.  With air raspberry flavors come ou in the aftertaste.  This clearly needs a few years **(*) 2015-2022.