Posts Tagged ‘Languedoc-Roussillon’

Two Wines from Hecht & Bannier

February 29, 2012 1 comment

Hecht & Bannier are a negociant which has specialized in the red wines of Southern France since 2002.  They select only wine that has completed fermentation which they bring back to their facility for blending and aging.  Since they do not maintain contracts they may freely change their sources on an annual basis.  The cuvees are typically a blend of 5-10 sources.  For aging they prefer to use larger barrels blended with some tank aged wine to preserve the fruit.

The 2007 vintages of Hect & Bannier, Minervois and Cotes du Roussillon Villages were rock-star wines in two ways: the Minervois was flat-out incredible but the Cotes du Roussillon Villages combined the generosity of the vintage with the warmth of Roussillon to produce a wine turned up to 11.  These new selections are quite different.  The 2008 Minervois omits the Mourvedre that was in the 2007 which I sorely miss in this vintage.  It is a good wine with nice dried-herb notes but it failed to excite me.  The 2009 Cotes du Roussillon Villages adds some Lledoner Pelut in a style that showcases restraint and structure for aging.  I quite like it and recommend you cellar a few bottles.  These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2008 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois – $17
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is mainly Syrah followed by Grenache and “[s]ome drops of Carignan.”  It was aged 30% in tank, 30% in 225L barrels, 20% in demi-muids,  and 20% in 400L barrels.  The nose was bright with tart red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors start with red fruit mixed with dried herbs.  With air the flavors become moderately expansive before they mix with a fair amount of acidity and some tannins. This needs a year or two to come together.  ** 2014-2017.

2009 Hecht & Bannier, Cotes du Roussillon Villages – $22
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Lledoner Pelut.  It was aged 40% in demi-muids, 30% in tank, and 30% in stock vat.  There is a light nose of black fruit.  In the mouth the blacker fruit has a cool aspect, restrained ripeness yet shows good depth.  With air bit of minerals come out, some ink, and garrigue in the finish.  With air a tea note develops along with subtle spices and lipstick, with a touch of spiciness in the finish along with glimmer of heat.  Give this wine a few years to settle down.  *** 2014-2019.

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

Revisiting the 2008 Mas Conscience, Les Cas

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I first tried a bottle of the Mas Conscience, Les Cas back in April 2011 at which point I found my bottle underwhelming.  Phil recently received more inventory at MacArthur Beverages so I decided to try it again.  This bottle showed much better with interesting potential.  This old-vine Carignan is slowly evolving so it  is a good candidate for cellaring.  If you have patience then squirrel a few bottles away in your cellar.  In the mean time, if you need some old-vine Carignan to drink while this cellars than grab the 2007 l’Argentier, Carignan, Vieilles Vignes.

2008 Mas Conscience, Les Cas, VdP l’Herault – $18
Imported by Vintage ’59.  This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from a six acre vineyard of 50 year old vines then fermented and aged in cement vat.  The nose reveals hard red fruit with a touch of floral aromas.  In the mouth the black fruits are driven by a fair amount of salivating acidity.  While the immediate flavors contain stones there is dried potpurri in the aftertaste.  I would give this at least another two years before trying again.  Drink 2014-2020.

The Lovely 2010 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

It has been a particularly busy and tiring week so last night I just wanted an honest and interesting wine.  Upon pouring a glass my nose was immediately engaged with my mouth quickly confirming that this wine was delightful.  The Cuvee La Bastide is the introductory cuvee of the four red wines produced by Chateau Coupe Roses.  For those curious, you may find some background information in my review of the 2009 Cuvee Vignals.  I highly recommend that you purchase a few bottles this weekend.  I suspect a glass at lunchtime might make you smile.  Available for $13 at MacArthur Beverages this is a lovely value imported by Roy Cloud.

2010 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minervois – $13
Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports.  This wine is a rough blend of 47% Carignan, 47% Grenache, and 5% Syrah that was tank raised.  There is a medium strength nose of gritty fruit and floral notes evocative of the countryside.  In the mouth there is a darkness to the blue fruit which has lovely sweet spice, a pepper and cinnamon component reminiscent of “Big Red”, and powdery tannins.  With air the nose becomes quite floral with tropical aromas and perfumed flavors in the mouth.  This good wine drinks well now (give it an hour of air) or over the next five years.

The Textured 2010 Clos des Fees, Grenache Blanc, Vieilles Vignes

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Photo de Vendanges 2011, Image from Clos des Fees

Herve Bizeul of Clos des Fees kindly provided many images for me to include in this post.  I have selected three images of the Grenache Blanc to include and will provide the other images in a subsequent post.

Grenache Blanc, Image from Clos des Fees

While I have been drinking the wines of Clos des Fees for several vintages I have never tried the Grenache Blanc.  Recommended by Phil at MacArthurs I opened a bottle earlier this week.  I was immediatedly excited by my first sip.  Beyond the flavors and mouthfeel, there is an engaging texture to the finish that persists in the aftertaste.  This should not be drunk at refridgerator temperature for too much is muted.  Let the bottle or glass warm up.  I suspect this wine will improve over the next year.  Whether you drink this now or next year, you will be pleased for this is a unique wine at an a reasonable price.  Give a bottle a go!

Grenache Blanc, Image from Clos des Fees

The Grenache Blanc, Vieilles Vignes is produced from fruit sourced from a 2.5 hectare plot that contains vines over 100 years old and old vines of Grenache Gris from plots known as grains meles.  The Grenache Blanc is fermented in stainless steel tanks where as the Grenach Gris is fermented in two-year old barrels.  After malolactic fermentation the wine is matured on the lees for eight months.

2010 Domaine du Clos des Fees, Grenache Blanc, Vieilles Vignes, VdP Cotes Catalanes – $27
Imported by Simon “N” Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc and 10% Grenache Gris   The wine is a light straw color.  The flavors are round in the mouth with sweeter tropical fruits at first followed by a broad swathe of acidity.  The young, white peach flavors are almost tart.  Things warm up in the finish where sweet, spiced tannins dry on the lips with flavors persisting for a long time in the aftertaste.  A very good, interesting wine. Though quite drinkable now it might benefit from 6-12 months of age.

Three Tasty Wines For the Weekend

January 27, 2012 1 comment

Terre Blanches, Image from Borie La Vitarele

I do not normally post five tasting notes in one day but I felt compelled to publish a second post.  We greatly enjoyed these three selections and I strongly recommend you consider purchasing these wines during your weekend wine shopping.  It has been a couple of years since we drank many bottles of the 2007 Borie La Vitarele so I am glad to see that the 2009 is just as good.  The Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette provides a second excellent vintage of Les Petit Pas.  This 2010 vintage is more floral and peppery whereas the 2009 was inky and gritty.

Vineyard, Image from Quinta do Crasto

Of these three wines I am most excited about the Quinta do Crasto.  Like the 2009 Duorum, Colheita there is such a lovely mixture of floral and berry notes on the nose.  Combining a sense of the Douro, enjoyment, and strong price you should try this along with the Duorum.  I hope that MacArthurs searches for more of these lovely Portuguese wines.

2009 Borie La Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, Saint-Chinian – $15
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The wine was aged for 12 months in oak barrels and tanks.  There is a fruity, youthful nose.  In the mouth there are flavors of cool fruit, stones, fine+ tannins, and a little spicy finish.  With air the high-toned red fruit mixed with hard blue fruit, showing subtle ripeness and raspberry flavors in the finish.  Slow to unveil it ultimately reveals a somewhat juicy and inky personality.  I would cellar this for a few years before drink but if you try it now give it 2-3 hours of air.

2010 Domaine du Pas De L’Escalette, Les Petit Pas, Coteaux du Languedoc – $15
Imported by Elite Wines.  This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.  This wine has a light nose with pure floral and pepper notes.  In the mouth the delicate red berries are fresh, gentle and ride on a medium beam of acidity.  There is mild back-end sweetness.  On the second night the wine puts on some weight and the pepper component is stronger.  This could stand a year in the cellar before drinking over the short-term.

2009 Quinta do Crasto, Douro – $15
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 35% Tinta Roriz, 25% Tinta Barroca, 25% Touriga Franca, and 15% Touriga Nacional source from 20-year-old vines.  The wine was aged in stainless steel.  There is a light to medium strength nose of an attractive mixture of flowers and fresh berries.  In the mouth flavors of black pencil lead and low-lying sweet fruit are medium in weight with a great salinity.  This chewy wine has salivating acidity.  With air the nose becomes firmly medium-strength with Jenn finding a clean aroma of “oranges.”  I would drink this now or over the next five years.  Quite lovely.

Three Selections From the Rhone

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

These three wines were originally drunk a month or so ago.  I forgot we had tasted Reserve Saint Dominique and Domaine Pelaquie  so I recently purchased them again. Though I try to drink as diversely as possible, I certainly do drink additional bottles which are particularly enjoyable.  My tasting notes are typically revised over two nights so trying another bottle helps account for bottle variations.  I am a big fan of La Bastide Saint Dominique with a particular soft spot for the Cuvee Jules Rochebonne and Les Argiles Rouge but we did not enjoy this 2010 Vacqueyras.  In searching this blog I realize I have not yet posted on the 2007 vintages of Cuvee Jules Rochebonne and Les Argiles Rouge, I will do so this week, I have loved each and every bottle we have drunk.  The 2010 Domaine Pelaquie is a solid buy, there is good vigor for a cold winter’s night but also the ability to develop for a few years.    Having now drunk three selections from Hecht & Bannier from the 2007 vintage, I find that the 2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois hits a sweet spot in terms of aroma, flavor, and price.  While the this Languedoc will remind you of sunny southern-France it is best to spend the extra $5 on the Minervois.

2010 Reserve Saint Dominique, Vacqueyras – $18
Imported by Simon “N” Cellars. There is a subtle, youthful nose with underlying hints of blackberries and some sweet, blackcurrant. There are black and red fruit flavors, some creamy character, and  a large amount of fine, very drying tannins.  Lots of acidity. There were some berry and floral flavors in the aftertaste.   Plain and boring on the second night with tart fruit.  In the end, this remained restrained in flavors and heavily tannic.  It certainly needs several years of age.

2010 Domaine Pelaquie, Lirac – $15
Imported by Oslo Enterprise.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Mourvedre sourced from 25-year-old vines.  There is a light grapey nose with delicate berries.  In the mouth the hard red fruit mixes with herbs and gravelly fruits.  There are cranberry notes as acidity comes ou in the back of the mouth.  It wraps up with dusty tannins.  On the second night Jenn found flavors of “black licorice”.  It certainly starts off with riper fruit before taking a wild character with a wee bit of heat in the finish.  Drink now for vigor or cellar for the short-term.

2007 Hecht & Bannier, Languedoc – $12
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Carignan.  This was a fresh and sunny wine with grapier red fruit and some minerals.  The flavors turned bluer midpalate as plenty of acidity came out.  This is an easy-going wine.