Posts Tagged ‘Languedoc-Roussillon’

2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois

September 14, 2011 1 comment

Hecht & Bannier is a negocient that specializes in producing wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon that are “the reference for quality in the region with a unique range of appellation wines.”  Four selections from the 2007 vintage received Parker scores of 90-94 points.  Back in April the Cotes du Roussillon-Villages became available so I quickly snagged a bottle then posted a review.  MacArthur’s recently put out bottles of the 2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois so once again I zipped over to snag a bottle.  I also grabbed another Cotes du Roussillon-Villages for comparison.

Vineyard Used by Hecht & Bannier, Image by Frederick Wildman & Sons (Flickr)

These wines are imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons and available at MacArthur’s.  The Minervois will set you back $17 and the Cotes du Roussillon-Villages $22.  They are both tasty wines and reasonably priced.  The Minervois was our favorite of the two, showing delineated fruit amongst the smooth body of the wine.  The Cotes du Roussillon-Villages is primarily Grenache (and I am an unabashed Grenache lover) but  the ripe nature spoke of both a ripe region and vintage.  The cherry/Kirsch notes, herbs, and cool minerality are all lovely but the restraint of the Minervois did a better job of showcasing the fruit.  While the bottle of Minervois was finished first I would still recommend both wines.  I really look forward to the 2009 vintage.

2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois
This wine is a blend of mostly Syrah, some Grenache, and a splash of Carignan and Mourvedre.  It was aged for two years in 30% tank with the rest in both new and old demi-muids and barrels.  This took several hours to open up.  The medium nose is Syrah driven with notes of pepper.  In the mouth there is creamy fruit all of the way through with herbs and sweet tannin flavors.  In the finish there are spices and fine tannins.  This is a rich wine but the black/blue fruits are lively and in no way cloying.  This should drink well for the medium-term. ***(*) Now-2022.

2003 Dme Santa Duc, Gigondas and 2004 Mas de Daumas Gassac

September 2, 2011 1 comment

These selections were recently purchased from MacArthur’s.  I grabbed the last four bottles of 2003 Santa Duc at $22 and the last bottle of Daumas Gassac for $34.  I had also purchased the last bottle of 2004 Santa Duc but that turned out to be corked. Bummer!  The Santa Duc is lovely.  I suspect will develop for a few more years and last many more.  The Daumas Gassac was good, I think Jenn enjoyed it more than I did, but at this price point it is not the best value.  The back label suggest the mature phase is between 7 to 25 years of age.  Perhaps I should have waited?

2003 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas
This wine has a lovely nose of incensed blue and red fruits.  In the mouth there is a ripe burst of fruit followed by garrigue.  It opened up over several hours and on the second night the blue fruit flavors mixed with a lovely minerality.  There are ample rugged grape tannins mixed with wood tannins but the blue fruits handle it well.  The tannins are persistant and stick to ones lips. ***(*) Now-2022.

2004 Mas de Daumas Gassac, VDP de l’Herault
This is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Pinot Noir, and 3% Syrah.  The wine was aged in oak barrels for 18 months.  This wine has a gentle nose.  In the mouth there are flavors of tart, light, red fruit and tea leaves in this lighter bodied wine.  It is almost Burgundian.  With air bits of spicey alcohol and notes of tobacco come out.  This is a balanced and easy to drink wine.  I have no experience drinking older vintages so why not age it some more? **(*)? 2015-2020?

Two Budget Friendly Wines

These two wines are not only tasty but are affordably priced.  The Domaine de Cambis is $13 and the Bodega Luigi Bosca is only $10 at MacArthur’s!!!  I recommend both of these wines.  They fit the bill whether you need an affordable daily drinker or several cases for a summer party.

2010 Domaine de Cambis, La Vie en Rose, Saint-Chinian
This wine is a blend of 70-80% Cinsault and 20-30% Syrah from old vines.  This rose wine has a color of salmon.  This wine needs time to open up and should be served warmer than refrigerator temperature.  After an hour of air the red berries and minerality really develops leaving a lovely, sweet minerally flavor that coats the lips.  There is nice weight to the fruit, lots of enlivening acidity, and tart/sour red berries that makes you want to drink more.

2009 Bodega Luigi Bosca, Finca La Linda, Tempranillo, Mendoza
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Finca Don Leoncio vineyard at 780 meters.  The vines average 20 years of age.  The wine was aged for six months in American oak casks.  This wine has a nose of ripe black fruits and black plum. In the mouth the plum flavors continue with a powdery ripeness and some up-front grip.  The flavors turn softer in the finish as some roast earth notes mix with medium strength tannins on the tongue.  There is a lot of flavor in this modern wine!  While it could use a bit more acidity this is a pleasing wine and a strong value.

2003 Domaine Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Jean Sirven, Fitou

Vineyards of Bertrand-Berge, Image by Le Sommelier (flickr)

I started drinking the wines of Domaine Bertrand-Berge many years ago when my friend Shane introduced me to the 2001 Cuvee Ancestrale.  Jenn and I ultimately drank several cases of this wine over the years.  The Bertrands have been vignerons in the tiny village of Paziol for six generations.  The great-great-grandfather Jean Sirven won medals for his wines at the 1900 World’s Fair.  The family stopped producing wine in the 1960s when they become cooperative growers.  Indeed, Fitou is dominated by cooperatives.  But in 1993 Jerome and Sabine Bertrand modernized the estate and begin to produce wine.  Today the estate is comprised of 33 hectares located at the heart of Fitou on clay and gravelly soils that are sprinkled with galets.  The vineyards are planted with Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah that have an average age of 60 years.  The estate is in the processing of converting to organic production and should be certified in 2013.

1945 Berge-Sirven, Fitou, Image by Johan Kohlstrom (flickr)

The Cuvee Jean Sirven was created in 1999 when the Bertrands worked with their consulting eonologist Claude Gros.  This cuvee is an homage to the wines made over a century earlier.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Carignan, and some Grenache.  The wine is aged on lees for 16 to 18 months in 100% French oak.  There are approximately 150 cases produced.

Fitou is Located at the Bottom of the Map, Image from FineTheVine

I first started drinking the wines of Fitou two decades ago during my Bristol days.  The name Fitou stems from Fita which is Occitan for border or frontier.  The village of Fitou contains a ruined castle which defended the border between Catalonia and France.  Fitou AOC is a very large, bifurcated appellation in Languedoc-Roussillon.  It is the oldest table wine appellation in the Languedoc having received status in 1948. 

The Castle of Fitou, Image by Alf (flickr)

Fitou is split into two areas: Fitou Maritime and Fitou de Hautes-Corbieres.  Fitou Maritime encompasses the vineyards located on coastal plains around the village of Fitou.  These soils contain more clay and the morning mist suits the Mourvede grape very well. Fitou de Haute-Corbieres encompasses the vineyards on the rugged terrain of Corbieres that are interspersed with those of Corbieres AOC.  These poor, dry soils contain schiste and the Syrah vines grow well here.  According to Rosemary George the original intention was to create two distinct appelations, Fitou and Cotes de Tauch.  The INAO wanted a single appellation but their decision was delayed by World War Two and the refusal of the villages.  The vineyards of Bertrand-Berge are located in Fitou de Hautes-Corbieres.

I picked up the last bottle of Cuvee Jean Sirven from MacArthur’s this winter for $37.  As it was the last bottle it was priced just above wholesale with the original retail price closer to $56.  Schneider’s currently sells this bottle for $50.  This is a good wine but certainly steeply priced at $50.  Even at $37 it is a bit of a stretch.  If you looking for an introduction to the wines of Fitou or Bertrand-Berge then opt for their Cuvee Ancestrale.

2003 Domaine Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Jean Sirven, Fitou
This wine has a light to medium nose of complex, sweet fruit, leather, brambly berries, and a hint of tobacco.  This medium bodied wine has ripe, dusty fruit that lasts all of the way through the mouthfilling aftertaste.  There are woven notes of tobacco and dried leaves throughout.  The flavors turn towards fresh, red plums in the finish.  A tasty wine that is most likely at its peak, though it should drink well for several more years.

2009 Chateau Coupe Roses, Cuvee Vignals, Minervois

July 15, 2011 1 comment

Francoise and Pascal Frissant, Image from Vintage 59

Chateau Coupe Roses is worked by Francoise and Pascal Frissant.  Their vineyards are located in La Causse and Le Petite Causse.  There are 40 hectares of small parcels most of which surround the medieval village of La Caunette.  With vineyard altitudes ranging from 750-1350 feet, this is the second highest area in Minervois.  This is very beautiful land with gently sloping vineyards that abruptly meet the Gorges de la Cesse.  The soils are arid, stony, and contain some chalky bits.  There is a deep layer of clay-like soil that captures maganese rich water.

Gorges de la Cesse, Image by brigeham34(flickr)

The Cuvee Vignals is a blend of ~60% Syrah, ~30% Grenache, and ~10% Carignan.  It is made entirely in tank.  According to the Vintage 59 website Francois Serre has been the consulting enologist at Coupe Roses since 1991.  He is also consults for Chateau Rayas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

La Caunette, Image by Gerard Farenc (flickr)

The wines of Chateau Coupe Roses are imported by Vintage 59 and available at MacArthur’s.  This bottle is well worth the $17 or $18 cost.

2009 Chateau Coupe Roses, Cuvee Vignals, Minervois
This wine really has a lovely nose of roses.  On the second night the nose reveals aromas of dark red fruits combined with perfumed scents of roses.  This medium-bodied wine is almost supple in texture, with good garrigue throughout.  The flavors take on a linear delivery that mixes in grapey tannins.  This is lower in alcohol and very easy to drink.  Consumed over two days I feel it drank better on the first night when it was more spritely.  *** Now-2015.

Drinking Pinot Noir by Lou’s Pool

July 13, 2011 2 comments

The Author and Lou by the Pool

Sometimes last-minute arrangements work best.  Between work and his family, Lou is a busy guy so I was excited that we could arrange a last-minute get together.  We independently wanted to drink some Pinot Noir so I brought selections from Oregon and Lou opened up some Burgundy.  Jenn kindly played with Lorelei, who was repeatedly jumping into the pool, as I tasted through the wines.  I must admit, I was a bit distracted so I did not completely focus on taking wine notes.  I revisited our share of the wines at home as we watched USA beat Brazil in penalty kicks.  All of the reds were double-decanted almost two hours ahead of time and were later placed on ice to bring them back down to temperature.

2009 Domaine Cambis, Le Chante de Griots, Languedoc
Lou purchased this for $13 from MacArthur’s.  This is a blend of 60% Viognier and 40% Roussanne.  It was the color of a light to medium straw with hints of yellow-green.  It was refreshing with good texture, a slightly oily characteristic, but showed a little heat in the finish.  ** Now.

Cheeses from Maryland

We snacked on local cheeses, salami, and bread while we tasted the wine.  All of the reds were bagged and my notes appear in the order they were tasted.

2009 Joseph Drouhin, Cotes de Nuits-Villages, Burgundy
Lou purchased this wine from MacArthur’s for $20.  It had a grapey color in the glass with purple highlights.  There is a little heat on the nose and hints of pepper.  In the mouth there were hard red fruits, a clean profile then a little black cherry.  I guess this was a Burgundy.  It was very slow to open and after many hours developed a nose of herbs, particularly sage mixed with subtle red fruits.  It was lighter in the mouth than the Cotes de Beaune and developed pure sage flavors.  Jenn really loved the sage aspect because she is from New Mexico.  ** 2015-2019.

2008 White Rose Estate, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley
I purchased this bottle from Esquin Wine Merchants for approximately $40.  It was a little bit darker than the Cotes de Nuits-Village and ruby in color.  This was a fruitier wine, almost medium bodied, that I guess being from Oregon.  It showed younger in profile, with polished wood aromas and an almost fishy quality to the hard nose.  In the mouth there were herbed red fruit, and some reduced, wooden redness.  The polished wood aspect was interesting.  While this wine clearly needs some age, it is a wee bit expensive.  ** 2015-2022.

2009 Beaux Freres, Les Cousins, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
I purchased this bottle from McCarthy & Schiering for $30.  Their prices tilt towards full retail so could probably be bought for cheaper.  There were 1,300 cases produced.  This had a young nose of dark, gritty fruits.  There were big flavors of dark, red fruits, with a grippy quality to the well presented fruit.  There were more tannins than the previous two wines but this was offset by the bluer, creamier fruit that developed through the finish.  I guess Oregon.  It became lush as it opened and developed into good stuff, with spices and mouthfilling flavors.  Jenn and I rather liked it.  This is a strong value under $30 and represents a more accessible style. *** 2015-2022.

2009 Joseph Drouhin, Cotes de Beaune-Villages, Burgundy
Lou purchased this bottle for $20 from MacArthur’s.  This was a similar lightness like the Les Cousins but redder in nature.  There were red fruits and some spice in this young, nice wine.  I guessed Burgundy and for the longest time preferred it to the Cotes de Nuits-Villages because it delivered a bit more.  But I can see how the strong sage scent of the Cotes de Nuits-Villages won over Jenn.  ** 2015-2019.

2009 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley
I bought this bottle from McCarthy & Schiering for $28.  This is on the high-side and can be found for $23-$25 in stores.  I actually opened this bottle the night before.  I thought it a bit tight but did not mind it.  Jenn wasn’t too thrilled so we switched to the 2009 Buty, Merlot/Cabernet Franc instead.  At Lou’s this showed some lifted aromas of hard, old ladies’ perfume.  I did guess Oregon.  In the mouth this reminded me of dirty earth and not the good earth that may be found in Rhone wines.  Strange. * Now-2019.

Pictures from La Coume del Mas

The Winery, Image from La Coume del Mas

I emailed La Coume del Mas last week asking for additional information about 2004 Schistes and 2003 Quadratur and for any additional images. Andy Cook emailed back this week.  Andy Cook joined La Coume del Mas several years ago where he helps out with vinification, sales, English speaking, and technology.  Here is a link to an article Andy wrote for Tom Cannavan’s Wine Page about La Coume del Mas back in 2006.  It is always a joy to receive correspondance from a winery.  I will do my best to get ahold of the current vintages from European Cellars.

Peyrefitte Parcel, Image from La Coume del Mas

“Schistes 2004 is 100% Grenache Noir, tank fermented with a total maceration time of 3-4 weeks. The grapes are hand-harvested and hand-sorted upon arrival in the winery. They are destemmed and crushed into tank. The wine is 100% wild yeast ferment and ferments at around 28C. The wine is pressed and aged in tank with no racking. It is bottled after 6-8 months.”

A Full Press, Image from La Coume del Mas

“Quadratur 2003 is 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Carignan. This cuvée is from our oldest vines, higher in altitude and away from the sea. The Carignan vines are over 100 years old. As for Schistes, the grapes are hand picked and sorted. The 3 varietals are vinified separately. There is longer maceration and more extraction work on this wine (punchdowns and pumping over). Once pressed, the wine is aged in barrel for 12-14 months in 225l French barriques (around 30% new oak).”

Cuves, Image from La Coume del Mas