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The grapey 2015 J.L. Chave Selections, Silene, Crozes-Hermitage

September 26, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2015 J.L. Chave Selections, Silene, Crozes-Hermitage features young fruit from the estate as well as purchased.  It is full of grapey aromas and flavors to good effect.  It will even remind you of the granite soils.  You can pick it up at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 J.L. Chave Selections, Silene, Crozes-Hermitage – $26
Imported by Erin Cannon Imports.  This wine is 100% Syrah from hillside parcels on granite with 50% sourced from a young parcel planted in 2003.  Alcohol 14%. Good, grapey aromas are on the nose. In the mouth are grapey flavors, as if from young vines, and citric pithe texture. Almost juicy acidity and a modest dry structure. Dry mineral streak. Grapey depth.  *** Now – 2020.

Lou guesses Italian, I guess Bordeaux

I went over to Lou’s house a few weeks ago.  We each brown bagged a few wines for each other to guess.  We only skirted with brilliance, informally I would say we are closer in guessing vintages than the regions the wine came from.  I brought the Rhone trio because negociants were still in their heydey at the end of the 1970s.  This clearly evident in the basic 1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage which is in absolutely fine shape today.  My brother-in-law’s guess that the bottle contained mature Cotes du Rhone is on the mark.  From an excellent vintage the 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph is deeply aromatic and powerful.  Today it is very bloody on the nose and simpler in the mouth but I suspect it was a brute in youth.  It fell apart before the Crozes.  In case we needed confirmation that the Jaboulet Aine Crozes is a good wine I opened the miserable bottle of 1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage.

I guessed Washington state for the 1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley.  Clearly an excellent wine, it remains attractively aromatic yet continues to expand in flavor for hours.  After a few hours of air it becomes racy and texture.  I suspect this wine will develop for another year or two.  The 1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch confused me.  The salty start reminded me of certain Syrah based wines but the herbaceousness had me leaning towards a minor wine from Bordeaux.  It is surprisingly unevolved but it may never actually arrive at maturity.

1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  There is a good nose of mature Rhone fruit that persists until the bottle is finished.  In the mouth are rounded, perfumed flavors with a clear amount of good blue fruit and spices still present.  It finishes with some menthol gum freshness.  *** Now.

1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is metallic at first then it remains deeply aromatic evoking blood and iron.  It is tangy on the nose.  There is a bright fruit start then a black fruited middle moved by watering acidity.  The wine has power but the flavors become simpler towards the end.  The strength of the vintage comes through but the wine has seen better days.  * Now.

1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage
This smells disjointed and tastes clunk, as if sweetness was added.  Poor.

1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley
This wine is a blend of 92% Grenache, 6% Zinfandel, and 2% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a touch lighter in color making it medium garnet.  The wine changes with air for several hours, all the while maintaining a lovely nose of mixed berries and spice.  In the mouth is a ripe and perfumed start followed by a brief period of austerity.  It soon becomes racy with ripe flavors and power complemented by a fine texture and spiced finish.  This is a enjoyable wine just about to enter its mature plateau.  **** Now – 2023.

1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
Imported by Cape Classics.  Alcohol 13%.  This looks young in the glass and still has a purple, grapey dark core.  The dark, salty start is interesting then the wine turns almost bitter with bits of green herbaceousness and very fine, drying tannins. It remains firm, never opening up.  ** Now but will last.

The 2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage is a savory, mouthful of wine

The 2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage must set a benchmark for dense flavor and strength when it comes to Crozes-Hermitage.  Perhaps it is atypical for the region but the wine is attractively savory, textured, and lively from acidity.  This is a lot to receive from a $20 Northern Rhone Syrah.  Give it a try!  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Pierre Le Grand, Crozes-Hermitage – $20
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is 100% Syrah sources from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 13%.  This is a dense, savory wine coupled with smooth edges.  There is ripe texture made more engaging by the lively acidity.  Though this wine has power it is still evocative of the Northern Rhone with its floral notes.  *** Now – 2023.

The meaty and gentle 1997 Domaine du Colombier, Cuvee Gaby, Crozes-Hermitage

November 10, 2016 Leave a comment

It was not until 1991 that the red Crozes-Hermitage was sold under the Colombier label instead of being sold off in bulk.  Of these wines, the Cuvee Gaby is a barrel selection of the best casks chosen one month before bottling.  The 1997 vintage is regarded as better in the Northern Rhone as compared to the Southern Rhone.  Having enjoyed other vintages of Cuvee Gaby I thought it would be fun to try a decent “old” vintage.  The wine did remind me of a Crozes-Hermitage and I was attracted to both the meaty aromas, potpourri flavors, and savory finish.  At 19 years of age it is certainly in fine shape with characteristics reminiscent of younger vintage.  However, the laid back impression left me wanting for more zip.

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1997 Domaine du Colombier, Cuvee Gaby, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose is meaty with clean aromas of pencil lead.  In the mouth there is nice, grapey fruit flavors with added complexity from dry potpourri notes.  The initial firmness in flavor is eventually replaced by a gentle, almost laid back impression.  The wine then brings on soy sauce, tart berries in the middle and a savory finish.  ** Now – 2021.

No Make-up on this Syrah!

David Bloch drinks a classic wine.

Graillot

2009 Alain Graillot, Crozes Hermitage
Imported by Europvin.  This is a very honest and authentic Northern Rhone Syrah.   Very dark in color, like a deep magenta.  A spicy nose.  The wine is very pure.  Some meaty and bloody notes in the mouth.  Along with some bay leaf and thyme.  Really long and peppery finish.  The empty glass smells great!  Like the Faury wines, this is just about unmanipulated winemaking and high quality grapes.

Drinks from the holiday weekend

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There was no shortage of grilled food and wine this Memorial Day weekend.  Thanks to many generous people I got to try decades worth of wine.  An inexpensive bottle of NV L.A. Cetto Vino Espumoso from Baja California enlivened a lunchtime sangria.   The first serious wine is a magnum of 2006 Macarico, Aglianico del Vulture which smelled and tasted great from the very first pour.  It still has strength but the tannic edges are receding such that you notice the dark fruit and minerals.  I wish I could age more of these wines.  The 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage Monier de La Sizeranne showed much better oak integration than when tasted last summer.  It is a substantial wine with a long future.  The 1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba held up for several hours after double-decanting.  It was sweaty on the nose, in an attractive old-school way to me, but better in the mouth with lively acidity and a core of flavor.

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The 1971 M. Mascarello helped show how a 1976 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape was even fruitier with notes of old wood.  It made for a perfectly good drink.  I will follow this post with a real tasting note.  The magnum of 2007 Domaine Ponsot, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Cuvee des Alouettes showed on the elegant side of the spectrum with very clean fruit.  Other drinks include a 2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf du Pape that is youthful and packs quite a lot of forward fruit.

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Roland opened a slew of bottles including 1990 Alain Graillot, La Guiraude, Crozes-Hermitage.  This wine is made from a selection of the best barrels and is certainly the oldest Crozes-Hermitage that I have tasted.  This was still clean and fresh with that sense of lightness a Crozes can offer.  It was almost suspended in time.

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The 2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape was quite tight right after double-decanting.  Nevertheless a few minutes of swirling coaxed an elegant wine.  It has quite a bit of focus and certainly more heft than the ethereal Marie Beurrier can have.  The 2001 Domaine Bois De Bourson, Chateauneuf du Pape showed great right out of the decanter.  It is drinking near peak with earthy flavors and garrigue delivered with grip.  A pour from the end of the 1990 Jamet, Cote Rotie provided a really good glass.  There was an aspect of elegance to the maturing and complex flavors.

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The 1994 Chateau de Fonsalette, Cotes du Rhone drank quite well.  This is a generous Rayas wine made from Syrah.  It is floral with dark blue fruit, wood notes, and good complexity.

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I also tried a surprisingly savory, dense, and fruity bottle of 1996 Chateau Ste Michelle, Merlot Reserve, Columbia Valley.  This came from a mediocre vintage and if this took a toll on the wine it was only that the finish was a bit short.  This wine was made under David Lake MW which probably explains why it is still balanced and lively.  There is not much Charbono around so you should try whatever you can.  The 2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley is still not up to the quality of the 2009 vintage but it reveals vintage perfume unique to the grape.

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As for dessert wines the half-bottle of 1983 Zilliken, Saarburger Rausch Riesling Eiswein contained only 7% alcohol.  The undoubtedly high levels of residual sugar were perfectly balanced by the acidity.   It is really easy to drink and is entering the middle of life.  Finally, a double-decanted 1977 Warre’s, Vintage Port needed just a little air before showing dense flavors of dark blue, racy fruit. Good stuff!  There were some other wines I tried but I did not get a look at the bottles.

Old-vine Crozes-Hermitage from Etienne Becheras

Crozes-Hermitage can offer a grapey, more approachable, and more affordable example of Northern Rhone Syrah.  The 2013 Etienne Becheras, Le Prieuré d’Arras, Crozes-Hermitage is an exception for it steps up the level of fruit without losing typicity of the region.  It drinks well over two nights providing an attractive balance of fruit, acidity, and structure that you will not mistake for any other area.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Etienne Becheras, Le Prieuré d’Arras, Crozes-Hermitage – $25
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is mostly Syrah from very old vines aged for 18 months in demi-muids.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There is a fine nose of grapey floral fruit with notes of white pepper.  In the mouth is surprisingly ripe black, grapey, floral fruit which is immediately accessible.  The watering acidity is perfectly integrated moving the wine towards the more linear, drier, appropriately tannic finish and grapey aftertaste.  *** Now – 2021.

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