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Recent Rhones from North and South

March 31, 2015 1 comment

Just a quick post for today but I promise a meatier post tomorrow based on some fun research.  Of the trio of wines in this post I suggest you try both the 2013 Lionel Faury, Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes and the 2012 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone.  The former has lovely Syrah flavors which complement notes of orange, black tea, and baking spices.  This should be great come the fall.  The Charvin is packed with potential with its firm fruit, minerals, and savory finish.  It is enjoyable now but really needs to be cellared for a few years.  It will be worth it.  The Faury and Charvin were purchased at MacArthur Beverages and the Notre dame at McGruders of DC.

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2013 Lionel Faury, Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes – $22
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines planted between 1995 and 2007 on granite soils. The wine is aged 7-8 months in 7-20 year old demi-muids.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an attractive sweet nose of ripe, floral orange fruit.  In the mouth there was enough acidity that the wine was lively on the tongue tip.  The red and orange fruit mixed with tea flavors, some baking spices, and a bit of texture.  It is in a youthful, rough and tumble state.  *** Now-2022.

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2012 Domaine Charvin, Le Poutet, Cotes du Rhone – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 5% Carignan raised in concrete.  Alcohol 14%.  This sported pure, grapey flavors of black fruit, a minerally middle, and a savory finish.  This is clearly not a fruit forward wine and lovely for it.  There were drying tannins and a tight personality indicating this should develop over the next several years.  With air it showed some orange fruit and a touch of density.  *** 2017-2025+.

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2013 Notre Dame De Cousignac, Lirac – $16
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 77% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, and 5% Mourvedre source from vines averaging 35 years of age.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged in cement. Alcohol 14.5%.  There were dark flavors of blue and red fruit, some ripeness, and an immediate sense of structure.  The tannins are ripe and bring on cinnamon spices on the backs of the gums.  With air the wine develops a higher-tone with a licorice flavor and drying structure in the end.  Needs time.  ** 2017-2025.

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Lirac From Mordorée and Alain Jaume

The pair of Lirac featured in this post represent good value for wines that will develop in the cellar.  The 2012 Domaine de la Mordorée, La Dame Rousse, Lirac is clearly a young wine in need of age.  Right now, the mineral flavors take on an extra dimension from the orange citrus and incensed wood notes.  This will become the more complex of the two wines.  The 2010 Alain Jaume et Fils, Roquedon, Lirac proved to be the more powerful of the two.  It is a fruitier wine that mixes attractive baking spices both on the nose and in the mouth.  I would cellar this until the fall then drink is a daily wine for years to come. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine de la Mordorée, La Dame Rousse, Lirac – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah sourced from 40 year old vines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were minerally black fruit flavors before a mixture of tart black and raspberry fruit.  As the wine became redder it took on a little orange citrus, dried herbs, and more levity.  The acidity was bound in.  With air, notes of incensed wood and vermouth developed inside a moderate structure of very fine, dry, and spicy tannins.  **(*) 2016-2024+.

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2010 Alain Jaume et Fils, Roquedon, Lirac – $16
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan.  It was aged for 15 month in oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed aromas of mixed-fruit cobbler along with some attractive baking spices.  The flavors began with black fruit that was dense and powerful.  The wine was a little spicy and smoky before taking on ripe baking spices in the finish.  The structure was evident as dry, wood tannins.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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Three Enjoyable French Red Wines

Just a quick post to remind everyone that I do drink current vintages.  The 2012 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Ventoux is a great buy at $14.  I believe it could use a little time in the cellar for it was much more expressive on the second night.  From the aromas to the flavors and texture this beautiful wine might be even better next year.  The 2012 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Cuvee Sainte Agnes, Pic Saint Loup is a rather young and dry wine which reflects its chalky and limestone origins.  It reveals elegant flavors that are a bit different than normal.  The 2010 Alain Jaume & Fils, Roquedon, Lirac is a more flavorful wine which you should enjoy knocking back down for many years to come.  I should note it was not until the fourth bottle that I managed to take down a note.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Ventoux – $14
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah which was aged in concrete, stainless steel, and some oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The good nose had both lifted aromas and those of black fruit.  In the mouth were slowly building flavors that took on controlled ripeness and a hint of glycerine through the finish.  There was plenty of acidity from the start which was noticeable on the tongue tip.  There were ripe, very rounded and approachable tannins mixing with plenty of acidity.  It left a clean and fresh finish with blacker fruit flavors.  *** 2015-2020.

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2012 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Cuvee Sainte Agnes, Pic Saint Loup – $23
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan sourced from soils of chalky-clay, white clay, and hard limestone which was aged for 12-14 months in oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was delicately scented with spice potpourri.  The mouth followed the nose but was much drier and quite dry by the finish where there were drying tannins and a little puckering aspect.  The flavors were of lighter red fruit, somewhat grapey, before the spicy finish. The grapey and citric fruit had a citric tannin structure.  On the second night there were some white pepper notes as well as flavors of stones.  There was, perhaps, a Big Red note, some saltiness and dry black fruit.  Needs some age.  *** 2017-2025.

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2010 Alain Jaume & Fils, Roquedon, Lirac – $16
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a slightly meaty nose of red and black berries.  In the mouth were dense black fruit with red hints, well-integrated acidity, and controlled ripeness.  There was a certain roundness to the wine with a minerally black finish.  The ripe tannins existed in an appropriate structure which dried the insides of the lips.  This is tasty now but could use a little age.  *** 2017-2025.

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Tasting Unlabeled and Bagged Wines With Lou

October 11, 2013 Leave a comment

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I went over to Lou’s house earlier this week to taste some wine.  He had put together a small flight of wines to taste blind so I thought it would be amusing to bring over two bottles of white wine which were missing their labels.  I never wrote down what the first wine was so it shall remain an Unknown French White Wine of recent vintage.  It was actually quite nice on the nose, certainly Sauvignon Blanc with Lou guessing Sancerre.  Next up was the 2011 Domaine de la Pépière,  Clos des Briords which Lou immediately guess as Muscadet based on the bottle.  I had double-decanted this one hour prior.  This is made from the oldest vines of the estate, planted in 1930, and I think that it is best left in the cellar.  Lou then brought out the 2010 Domaine Rolet, Chardonnay, L’Etoile.  I loved the 2007 vintage which I tasted last summer and suspect the 2010 will also develop well with age.  The last wine I brought over was the 2006 Domaine du Coulet, Brise Cailloux.  I tasted the 2006 No Wine’s Land back in the summer of 2008 and the 2008 Brise Cailloux earlier this year (thanks again to Lou).  The 2006 had a gorgeous, engaging nose which is not quite/yet matched in the mouth.  There is plenty of life ahead so I would be curious to hold on to any bottles.

We then came to the blind wines.  Lou had double-decanted them so the probably had about one hour of air before we tasted them.  I started with the first two wines and was really happy.  Parlor games are fun so I guessed the first was either from Charvin or a Stolpman, Syrah.  Having recently drunk the 2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, there was something familiar in mind.  Lou commented there was no California Syrah in the lineup.  In all fairness, Lou had previously offered to open up the 2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee due to my current interest in Pegau.  I suspected he had not for this tasting.  The second wine was certainly funkier, showing more advanced aromas and flavors, and absolutely lovely.  Remembering the 2008 Clos des Papes Phil opened last year, I guessed it was a wine from 2008.  The third wine had a brick wall of tannins, I thought some cuvee which saw way too much new oak.

It turned out the first wine was the 2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Grenache Estate, the second was 2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee, and the third was 2007 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte.  The 2008 Pegau stole the show.  We typically split and gas up the leftovers to be tasted the next night.  I was so excited by the Pegau that Jenn and I finished it up that evening.  Lou purchased this bottle for $25 from Premier Cru, what a deal!  After that I really enjoyed the 2006 Coulet.  I think the 2007 Stolpman was more impressive the first night but the 2007 Grand Veneur certainly improved on the second night.

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Unknown French White Wine
This had ripe, grassy aromas of white candy with fine texture.  It was strong in the nose with its floral, white candy aromas.  The mouth was less impressive but had a nice chalky, dry aspect.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Domaine de la Pépière,  Clos des Briords, Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  The color was a very light white straw.  The tight nose eventually revealed some heavy, underlying floral fruit.  In the mouth was white candy-like fruit, not-quite crisp acidity, then rounder flavors of delicate white peach with a little tart tang.  The wine was balanced with a little, fine ripe finish.  This young wine eventually developed white stones which mixed with some tannins.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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2010 Domaine Rolet, Chardonnay, L’Etoile, Jura
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  The subtle nose was apple-like.  In the mouth the white fruit had weight with good, drying stone texture.  There was fresh acidity in the start, lots of personality, and youth.  **(*) 2014-2024.

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2006 Domaine du Coulet (Matthieu Barret), Brise Cailloux, Cornas
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a nice nose of floral aromas, pepper, and leaves of violets.  It was finely delineated with a hint of sweet, spiced orange peel at the end.  There was tart red fruit which was acidity driven from the start.  The flavors continue through the wine eventually showing a hint of maturity.  It was steely with minerals, and a black fruit with graphite finish.  The structure slowly came out, leaving some very fine tannins on the gums.  ***(*) Now-2025.

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2007 Stolpman Vineyards, Grenache Estate, Santa Ynez Valley
This  Alcohol 15%.  There was fresher, younger red fruit with an orange citrus aroma.  It was a fine wine in the mouth mixing red fruit with a darker core and ripe, fine, drying tannins.  It took on perfumed fruit, young but very attractive.  It dried out a bit with air but kept a sweet, ripe finish.  It took on some orange peel flavors with air, along with dry, very fine tannins.  Best on the first night.  *** Now-2018.

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2008 Domaine du Pegau, Reservee, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Kirkcrest Imports.  Alcohol 14%.  A slighter darker core.  The nose was older with earthy, smoky aromas.  It was a little sweaty with some blood.  The mouth followed the nose with ripe fruit, tannins, and acidity which tickles the tongue tip.  It had a lipstick finish and a long, expansive, beautiful aftertaste.  With extended air a youthful core of fruit came out suggesting longevity.  **** Now-2023.

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2007 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was a medium-dark purple color.  It had nose of cassis-like, ripe fruit, and vanilla.  In the mouth was more linear fruit which quickly met an up-front wall of tannins.  These were very fine and drying.  An aspect of the nose came out in the finish.  On the second night this was more approachable with dense fruit, a simpler finish, and a structure that subsided. ** Now-2023.

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The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 1

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I have purchased many Eric Solomon wines during my trips to Seattle but over the last year I have been able to purchase a growing selection in Washington, DC.  When I heard about the Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting organized by The Country Vintner I just knew I had to attend.  I immediately emailed Mark Longsworth of The Country Vintner and marked the tasting on my calendar.  On Tuesday I found myself walking up 9th street past a huge grouping of 21st century construction, across Massachusetts Avenue, to a block of 19th century buildings opposite the massive Convention Center.  It is here that the Long View Gallery played host to the tasting.  The gallery itself features a smaller front room where I picked up my wine glass and tasting booklet by the front door.  The booklet documents the 38 tables of wine, running over 100 pages in length.  There were a number of tables in this room but with the coat rack in the back room I headed up the sloped hallway to settle myself in.

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The back room featured tables arrayed around the perimeter of the room along with a smaller, central array of tables.  The space was lit primarily by natural light but spot lights illuminated the wines towards the middle of the building.

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There was a tremendous selection of producers and wines to taste making this an excellent opportunity to become familiar with the Eric Solomon portfolio. There were also wines from Jon-David Headrick Selections but there was simply not enough time for me to get to them.  In the four hours alloted I could not even taste through all of the Eric Solomon wines.  That is a good predicament to be in.  I spent my first half tasting wines with Phil from MacArthur Beverages and the second half on my own.  It seemed that every winery was represented by an owner or winemaker which makes for a great expression of commitment.  The tasting did get crowded so at time it was difficult to carry on a conversation due to the noise or the logistics of having to pour wine in everyone’s glasses.  I would have loved for there to be a second day with smaller group tastings with each winery. I do appreciate the travel schedule involved in a national portfolio tasting but I do crave the balance between a big trade tasting and smaller sessions.

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In the span of four hours I managed to taste some 80 wines.  Due to this large number my notes will be presented over two posts.  The pours were all of decent size with the wines at the correct temperature.  There were actually a number of Barrel Samples being poured, some of which I have noted and others I did not.  Of the wines presented in this post I must point out those of Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine de Marcoux, and Hacienda Monasterio. Though I tasted many other good wines at various price points, those of these three domaines stood out and I encourage you to seek them out.  You will find my tasting notes below in the order I tasted them.

Table 20 – Vignobles Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

Michel Gassier

I have been drinking the wines of Michel Gassier since the end of the past summer.  The Cercius wines are a collaboration between Michel Gassier, Philippe Cambie, and Eric Solomon.  They are named after the mistral wind that visits the vineyards.  These wines are aged in concrete tanks.  The Nostre Pais wines are terroir driven wines, with the varietals vinified and aged separately  then blended before bottling.  Lastly the Lou Coucardie wines are intended to be aged.  I thought the Cercius Blanc a good start and it is affordable too.  I actually prefer the 2011 Cercius Rouge over the 2010 version, which Michel described as a big hug.  The Nostre Pais Blanc and Rouge are serious but affordable wines which deserve age.  Interestingly enough, I found both of the Lou Coucardie chewy, give them a few years in your cellar.

2012 Cercius Blanc, Vin de France – $14
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc, aged on the lees in concrete tank.  There was a good, textured and aromatic nose of yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was white, honeysuckle-like fruit, good acidity, some lemon, perhaps stone, and controlled ripeness.  A good start to the lineup.

2012 Notre Pais Blanc, Costeieres de Nimes – $21 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, and 5% Viognier aged six months in neutral French oak.  There was a light, tighter nose with underlying dark yellow fruit.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the driven white fruit, some citrus, and a more serious attitude.  There was good length in the aftertaste.

2012 Lou Coucardie Blanc, Costieres de Nimes – $30 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Viognier aged 10 months in French oak.  There was a light, tight nose followed by good initial weight in the mouth.  The flavors show focus and are a bit chewy.  It builds body in the mouth along with a bright citrus note guiding along in the wine.  This will age.

2011 Cercius Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah aged six months in concrete tanks.  There was focused, young grapey fruit with a nice mix between the tannins, acidity, and fruit.  I liked that this showed more restraint with the fruit than the 2010 vintage.

2010 Nostre Pais Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $20
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 20% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, and 5% Syrah aged six months in French oak with 50% on the lees.    There was black red fruit with a touch of a powdery note.  Fine strong tannins were evident along with good, cool acidity.  It revealed a little old-school perfume along with a mineral note in the finish.  I would cellar this.

2010 Lou Coucardie Rouge, Costieres de Nimes – $32
This wine is a blend of 60% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, and 10% Syrah aged 12-18 months in French oak on the lees.  There was a light nose which was the most aromatic of the reds, it was almost brambly.  In the mouth the compact flavors were a mix of black and red fruit that went well with the perfume.  There were fine, drying grapey tannins in the finish and black stones in the aftertaste.  This young wine was also a bit chewy.  This will age.

Table #30 – Domaine de la Janasse

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

Isabelle and Christophe Sabon

The 2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc was an incredible start with lovely texture and crisp personality.  There is not much of this wine produced so it is hard to get but certainly worth the effort.  The Terre d’Argile is good but the Les Garrigues is a standout for Cotes du Rhone.  I liked all three Chateauneuf du Pape but was amazed at how well the Vieilles Vignes showed with its depth, lively nature, and fresh acidity.  A strong showing all around.  More wine was produced with the 2011 vintage as compared to 2010 and 2012.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Cotes du Rhone – $22
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 15% Clairette, 15% Bourboulenc, 10% Viognier, and 10% Roussane aged six months in tank on the lees.  The light nose was floral with yellow fruit.  The wine was crisp in the mouth with good grippy fruit, lots of texture, and some ripe fruit in the finish.  Nice!

2012 VdP d’Orange Rose, VdP d’Orange  – $12
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  The nose was more focused with some cherry fruit.  The flavors were very acidity driven on the tongue then teases with soft red notes.

2012 Cotes du Rhone Rose, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Syrah aged in tank.  There was a good nose of berries and pastilles.  The mouth follows the nose with a little more weight, a little creamy nature, and a fine texture.  A step up from the previous rose.

2010 Terre de Bussiere, VdP d’Orange – $17
This wine is a blend of  55% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 12 months in 2/3 used oak barrels.  There was a light, tight nose followed by bright fruit in the mouth.  There was some weight, some seriousness, and citric tannins.

2011 Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $17
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Carignan, and 10% Cinsault aged 12 months in foudre.  There was not much on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were tight with red fruit, and citric tannins.

2011 Terre d’Argile, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $26
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Carignan aged for 12 months in foudre.  The nose revealed a touch more darkness.  The fruit has more dark red notes, ripeness, and riper tannins.  There was some weight and a spicy aftertaste.

2011 Les Garrigues, Cotes du Rhone – $46
This wine is 100% Grenache with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in barrel.  The nose was interesting with berries and other red and blue fruits.  The entry was the weightiest with mouthfilling flavors.  The fruit was old-school and fleshed out nicely with fine, good length.  There was a sweet, ripe touch in the finish along with fine, powerful tannins and spice.  Nice.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $65
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah with 80% aged in concrete vats and 20% in 2/3 used oak barrels.  The nose is more elegant.  In the mouth there was bright red and black fruit which starts off lively on the tongue before showing density in the middle.  There was black minerally weight in the finish.

2011 Chaupin, Chateauneuf du Pape – $90
This wine is a blend of 100% Grenache aged in used foudre and demi-muids.  There was a low-lying dense, dark red nose.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with gently coating with mineral and animale notes.  There was an inky aspect to the dense finish.  Tight but interesting.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $120
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, and 2% other varietals which was aged 80% in foudre and 20% in barrel.  There was a light nose of dark, ripe, sweet, and seductive aromas.  In the mouth there was good depth to the flavors which were lively and beautiful.  There was fresh acidity throughout, a long aftertaste, and an overall great showing.  Lovely.

Table 16 – Domaine de Marcoux

Sophie Armenier

Sophie Armenier

These were also lovely wines but I want to skip to the Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge for it is a lovely example of an old-school wine, full of personality, and amazingly approachable.  From very old vines the Vieilles Vignes was simply beautiful.  The vines are located on soils of sandy and clay making them a bit unique compared to the stony soils found throughout Chateauneuf du Pape.  I thought the 2011 were showing well!

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $68
This wine is a blend of 70% Roussanne and 30% Bourboulenc aged in stainless steel.  The floral white nose developed in the glass.  There was a crisp start in the mouth before the flavors picked up weight and tropical notes.

2011 Rouge, Cotes du Rhone – $23
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre aged in tank.  There was a light and focused nose with a little bramble berry.  In the mouth there was a little tang, plenty of weight, and sexy aspect.

2011 La Lorentine, Lirac – $27
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 30% Syrah aged 16-18 months in concrete tank.  It is organic.  This was more focused and structured with texture.  The black red fruit clearly needs age.  There are plenty of tannins as it turns brighter in the end.

2011 Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, and 3% Cinsault aged 18 months in concrete tank and barrique.  There seemed to be some lovely Mourvedre funk on the nose.  The mouth follows with old-school flavors, density, Kirsch, and generally lovely flavors.  There was a gentle aftertaste.  Nice.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $180
This wine is 100% Grenache from 70-110 year old vines on sand and clay soils without stones.  It was aged 18 months in foudre.  There was a tight, concentrate notes of Kirsch, and old-school aromas.  There was good ripe fruit in the mouth, a sweet, fresh, concentrated nature.  Beautiful.

Table 24 – Clos Saint Jean

Vincent Maurel

Vincent Maurel

These wines were more modern with the Blanc a big wine revealing a lot of flavor.  The three Rouge feature Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1905. They are modern wines with a lot of interest and power which fill the mouth.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.

2012 Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Clairette, 25% Mourvedre, and 25% Bourbuolenc aged in concrete tanks and barriques.  There were weighty aromas of tropical and yellow fruits.  The wine was big in the mouth, rich, and oily with flavors of yellow fruit and sweet spices.

2011 Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $50 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache , 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccareze, and Muscardin.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  There was a tight nose followed by a core of ripe, sweet fruit.  It fleshed out some, showing a modern personality with tight, lasting flavors.  Well done.

2011 La Combe des Fous, Chateauneuf du Pape – $105 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, and 10% Vaccareze.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This had a more expressive nose which was perfumed with powerful berries that stepped out of the glass.  There was sweet, ripe red fruit in the mouth then blue flavors which coated the tongue.  There were sweet spices in the aftertaste.

2011 Deux ex Machina, Chateauneuf du Pape – $100 (Barrel Sample)
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre.  The Grenache was aged in concrete tank with the other varietals aged 12 months in new and used French oak.  This dialed things up with lots of fruit, vanilla, and dense flavors in this huge, modern wine.  Though tight, there was a lot going on.

Table 24 – Bodegas Mas Alta

Bixente Ocafrain

Bixente Ocafrain

This is a joint project between Michel Tardieu and Philippe Cambie.  I have drunk the Black Slate before in my hotel room in Seattle.  I thought all of the wines had interesting aromas with the 2011 Artigas my favorite of the lot.

2011 Black Slate La Vilella Alta, Priorat – $22
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet aged 12 months in French oak barrels.  The nose was focused and tight.  The mouth surprised with lots of ripe fruit, black and red flavors, and some softness.

2010 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  There was interesting fruit on the nose being black and red.  In the mouth there was ripe, powdery fruit which was controlled and became blacker towards the finish. There were fine, citric tannins, spicy, and good aftertaste. I preferred this over the Black Slate.

2011 Artigas, Priorat – $31
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 16 months in French oak barrels.  The light nose stepped out of the glass, it was not earthy but interesting.  Lots of forward fruit in the mouth followed the nose with a haunting perfume.

2010 La Creu Alta, Priorat – $125
This wine is a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Grenache aged 18 months in French oak barrels.  The Carignan is 100 years old.  The nose was interesting.  The mouth follows with power to the drier fruit.  There was a weighty feel but the acidity kept things lively.  The tannins were well-integrated with the dark, earthy finish.

Table 26 – Hacienda Altes

Nuria Altes

Nuria Altes

I have drunk the 2011 Garnatxa Negra before so was happy to find the 2012 vintage my favorite of the three I tasted.  It is also the least expensive!

2011 Benufet, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  The fruit was tangy on the sides of the tongue then steely with a touch of yeast in the tart finish.

2012 Garnatxa Negra, Terra Alta – $11
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was good red berry fruit, texture, acidity, and a fresh finish.  Nice.

2010 l’Estel, Terra Alta – $15
This wine is 100% Garnatxa Negra aged in concrete tanks.  There was a light, pungent nose.  In the mouth the bright red fruit first stands on the tongue then it takes on some levity and tartness.

Table 26 – Creta

This wine is the result of a partnership between Eric Solomon and Isaac Fernandez Montana.  Isaac is on the team of wine makers who work with Mariano Garcia’s Bodega Mauro.

2011 Creta Roble, Ribera del Duero – $15
This wine is 100% Tempranillo aged four months in 70% French and 30% American oak barrels.  The nose was tight with red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tight, young and mixed with fine, drying, citric tannins.

Table 27 – Hacienda Monasterio

Carlos de la Fuente

Carlos de la Fuente

Simply put, the 2009 Crianza immediately stood out for its nose alone but this was reinforced by tasting the wine.  This is a traditional Ribera del Duero wine which you must try, it is moving.  The 2009 Reserva is very good too but as Phil commented, it is like a young Bordeaux.  It is a superb wine for the cellar.  Drink the Crianza while the Reserva ages.

2009 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a light, pungent nose with good depth.  In the mouth there was good weight to the cool red and black fruit which had a grapey finish.  Simply put, this is a beautiful wine that will age.  Captivating.  Well-done.

2010 Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $53
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged 17 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a similar nose but tighter.  There were berries in the mouth, more drying tannins, and drier flavors in the finish.  Needs age.

2009 Reserva, Ribera del Duero – $120
This wine is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec which was aged 18 months in French Allier oak barriques.  There was a good nose followed by very young, concentrated flavors in the mouth.  There was lots of structure and acidity for aging, all of which was balanced.  There was a wood note followed by a dark red aftertaste.  This needs at least five years of age but will be lovely.

Table 27 – Celler del Roure

This winery features some interesting varietals including the experimental Mando.  The Cullerot Blanco is aged in buried clay jugs but it is a white wine not an orange wine.  It was interesting.

2011 Cullerot Blanco, Valencia – $15
This wine is a blend of 30% Verdil, 30% Pedro Ximenez, 20% Macabeo, and 20% Chardonnay aged for five months in buried tinaja clay jugs.  This had a different nose with a little cherry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were white and drier with a salty finish.

2011 Setze Gallets, Valencia – $11
This wine is a blend of 30% Garnacha Tintorera, 30% Monastrell, 25% Merlot, and 15% Mando which was aged five months in steel tanks.  There was a light, tight nose fo berries.  In the mouth it was young with simple flavors of black and red fruit.  There were very fine, drying tannins with light flavors for the structure.

2009 Maduresa, Valencia – $35
This wine is a blend of 25% Mando, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Monastrell, 15% Syrah, 10% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot which was aged for 10-12 months in French oak barrels.  There was a good nose.  In the mouth the black and red fruit existed with a drying, powerful structure with drying tannins.

Fran Kysela’s Mondovino 2013: Red Wines

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment

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Mid-afternoon we switched from the white wines to the red wines.  We decided to taste wines from Burgundy, Rhone, South Africa, and Spain.  The Burgundy table was crowded but we managed to get a spot.  I thought the #114 2011 Ecard a good, affordable Burgundy for the cellar.  But it was the #115 Thierry Mortet that captivated with good depth and attractive flavors, this will reward cellaring.

When it comes to the Rhone the 2011 vintage brings forth plenty of ripe fruit with fine, powerful tannins.  The #178 Colline St. Jean presented the vintage well and right now is grapey, modern, and tight.  The previous vintage #179 2010 Colline St. Jean seemed young as well but a bottle I drank a few days earlier showed some openness with a good Mourvedre component.  We tasted one Northern Rhone wine the #180 2011 Joel Champet which again proves to be very good, old-school Cote-Rotie.  We recently drank the 2010 vintage and if you like that, you will like the 2011.  If you are going to actually drink anything at Mondovino, drink the Joel Champet.  I would love to see more Northern Rhone wines like this at Mondovino 2014!  In moving to the huge lineup of Alaine Jaume/Grand Veneur wines Christophe Jaume commented that the 2011 vintage was ripe, less masculine, with more alcohol, and fresher flavors.  Perhaps this is best characterized by #173 the 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes which dials in at 16.5% alcohol!  It certainly was a mouthful but has interesting flavors and managed some control.  At the more affordable end the #171 Grand Veneur showed well with the #169 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte showing the best balance and approachfulness.  All of these wines will benefit from cellaring.

Leaving the French wines we moved over to South Africa.  I though the #265 2010 Mullineux, Syrah an interesting and tasty wine that I should like to revisit.  It is appropriately priced.  It was fun to taste #266 2010 Mullineux Granite and Schist.  Though the fruit for each wine is sourced from a different vineyard they are vinified exactly the same.  The Granite showed good freshness and perfume whereas the Schist was denser.  It would be fun to compare these wines after short-term cellaring.  The #269 Keermont is a savory, dense, masculine version of Syrah.

The #300 2009 Mas Sinen had an interesting nose with weight and roundness to the flavors but also lift.  The #304 2009 Pago de Carraovejas is seductive and as Lou put it, tastes expensive.  It certainly is.  Lastly the #241 2003 Romariz Vintage Port is approachable and rich for only ten years of age.

After four hours of tasting our palates were tired and teeth stained purple.  I think it took 24 hours for my tongue and teeth to feel normal.  My only bit advice for those attending next week is to taste the red Rhones last.  I should also comment that the pour sizes are generous.  There was always enough wine for two or three proper mouthfuls.  It only benefits everyone for you get a better sense of the wine.  It does produce a tremendous volume of wine.  This is handled not by spittoons but 40 gallon garbage cans.  I should like to thank Fran Kysela for his generosity with the wine and food,to Jeremy Sutton for all of his answers, and to both for being supportive of this blog.

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#113 – 2010 Ecard, Pinot Noir, Bourgogne – $20
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir which was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged six months in used oak barrels.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The very light nose was tight with red fruit.  In the mouth there was firm black cherry fruit which became blacker towards the finish where there was citric acidity and a firm finish.

#114 – 2011 Ecard, Savigny le Beaune – $25
This was a rather light cherry grape color.  The light nose was tight but serious.  In the mouth there was firm red cherry and black fruit.  The wine had a stone-like core with fine ripe tannins.  Tight in flavor, young, and in need of cellaring.

#115 – 2010 Domaine Thierry Mortet, Vigne Belle, Gevrey Chambertin – $85
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines 20-40 years old which was fermented and aged in oak.  The color was a light cherry garnet.  The light nose was good with aromas of red and black fruit which had depth.  The mouth followed the nose but was drier with rather fine, drying tannins, and black acidity.  Young.  Nice.

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#176 – 2011 Chateau de Segries, Cuvee Reservee, Lirac – $23
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Carignan sourced from 40 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ grapey garnet.  The nose was light and tight with firm berry fruit.  The flavors were riper in the mouth with black and red fruit expanding throughout.  The flavors are young with fine, powerful, spicy tannins, and a grapey finish.  The ripeness was controlled by the structure.

#177 – 2011 Henri de Lanzac, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone – $31
This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre sourced from 40 year old vines. It was fermented in concrete vats then aged for nine months in 95% used French oak barrels.  The color was a dark grapey, inky color.  The nose was very light and tight with aromas of macerated berries.  The mouth was similar but very ripe with powerful tannins drying everything in sight.  The finish seemed overripe with alcohol poking through.

#178 – 2011 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry(?).  The light nose was tight with purple and grapey aromas.  There was good fruit in the mouth, again grapey, with a black graphite finish.  This modern styled wine had very fine, powerful tannins.

#179 – 2010 Domaine Colline St. Jean, Vacqueyras – $28
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre aged mostly in cement tank and some barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  In the mouth this bottle showed tight with herbs and pencil lead.

#180 – 2011 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie – $50
The color was a medium dark garnet.  The light nose had good fruit, olives, and other interesting aromas.  There was a soft entry to the fruit which had levity and depth.  There were flavors of smoke and bacon, a good mouthfeel, and black acidity.  There were drying, grapey tannins.  Old-school and lovely.

Christophe Jaume

Christophe Jaume

#164 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone – $25
This wine is ablend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  The color was a medium grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and young.  In the mouth there was a savory start with a good mouthfeel, ripe fruit, spices, and acidity.  Nice fruit, firm drying tannins, and needs age.

#165 – 2011 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqueyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was a darker grapey, garnet.  The flavors were very concentrated with savory pencil lead, some subtly, and fine tannins.

#167 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Grande Garrique, Vacqeuyras – $29
This wine is a blend of 60% grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault.  The color was medium purple garnet.  There were black cherry and grapey flavors which were balanced but potent.  The structure kept it in control.

#168 – 2009 Alain Jaume, Terrasses de Montmirail, Gigondas – $33
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah.  The nose was light, tight, and earthy.  The flavors were more approachable but lacking a bit of depth.  It left a mouthful of tannins.  Cellar.

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2010 Grand Veneur, Roquedon, Lirac
This was a medium grapey garnet.  The flavors tasted a touch mature in this approachable wine.  There was a brambly nature to the purple, grapey fruit.  Decent wine.

#169 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $30
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  The nose revealed good purple, grapey fruit.  The flavors were savory then came grapey fruit, a savory middle, and slightly spicy tannins.  Good wine.

#170 – 2010 Alain Jaume, Vieux Terron, Chateauneuf du Pape – $45
This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  The nose was light, tight, and somewhat haunting with more complexity.  In the mouth there was a tangy, citric element to the black fruit.  The flavors were expansive with very fine, powerful tannins, and a young black finish.

#171 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Chateauneuf du Pape – $53
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium to dark purple garnet.  The nose was light and grapey.  There was a seductive start, savory fruit, and low lying, good weight.  Vintage perfume came out in the in the finish.  Well done, nice wine.

#172 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Les Origines, Chateauneuf du Pape – $70
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre sourced from 70 year old vines.  The color was a medium+ purple garnet.  The light nose was ripe and dense.  In the mouth there was very ripe, soft fruit, some heat, spicy tannins, and lots of power.

#173 – 2011 Grand Veneur, Vieilles Vignes, Chateauneuf du Pape – $121
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-100+ year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 16.5%.  the color was a medium+ dark garnet purple.  In the mouth the fine flavors were almost racy with vanilla, weight, a young aspect, minerals in the core.  It showed more control than Les Origines.   One to watch.

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

Nicola Tipping of Mullineux

#265 – 2010 Mullineux, Syrah – $33
This wine is 100% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts. It underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 15% new French oak barrels and foudres.  The color was a medium+ garnet.  In the mouth salty, savory, good fruit was dense with smokey notes.  The flavors became lighter and thinner in the middle but took up on glycerine.  The finish was fresh.  Interesting.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Granite, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 17 year old vineyard on soils of sandy granite with a thick layer of clay. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  Much better than the first bottle.  Though just opened the nose was lifted and perfume.  There was a lightness and savory character with a smoke note and lipstick/perfume.  Well done.

#266 – 2010 Mullineux, Schist, Syrah, Swartland – $95.50
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from a 15 year old vineyard. The fruit was not destemmed and it was aged in 50% new oak.  A good nose with herbs.  Dense in the mouth, purple, and very balanced all around.

#269 – 2010 Keermont, Syrah, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is 100% Syrah.  The color was very dark.  The nose was tight with grapey fruit.  In the mouth this wine was savory and dense with controlled ripeness.  There was good fruit to this masculine wine.  Nice wine.

#268 – 2009 Keermont, Red Blend, Stellenbosch – $40
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot. It was aged for 24 months in used oak.  Just opened.  The color was a very dark grapey garnet.  The nose was light, tight, and Claret like.  The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon came through with good expansion.  The fruit was light but powerful, perhaps a note of stems.  Young and should develop.

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#300 – 2009 Mas Sinen, Petit Mas Sinen, Piorat – $39
This wine underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel then was aged for six months in oak barrels.  This was a very dark grapey purple garnet.  The light nose was of lavendar and dark fruit.  The flavors were roundish in the mouth but not heavy.  It took on flavors of Sweet Tarts with weight and lift before the fine, drying tannins in the finish.  Young.

Kysela9

#304 – 2009 Pago de Carraovejas, El Anejon de la Cuesta de las Liebres, Ribera del Duero – $136
This wine is a blend of 93% Tinto Fion, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Merlot.  This was very dark.  The nose was of dark grapes, roast, and other interesting aromas.  In the mouth there was silky fruit, density, and a savory note but the acidity keeps it alive.  There was a little toast in the spicy finish.  Seductive.

#303 – 2010 Pago de Carraovejas, Crianza, Ribera del Duero – $58
This wine is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot which was aged for 12 months in new and used American and French oak barrels.  This was very dark as well.  The nose was a touch fruitier.  This was a lighter version with a good lifted middle, good flavors but a touch hotter.

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#241 – 2003 Romariz, Vintage Port – $64
This was a very dark garnet cherry.  The nose was grapey with dried fruit and raisins.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, spices, good residual sugar, and a wood box finish.  Though young for a Vintage Port it is quite approachable.

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#250 – 2005 Riebeek, Cape Vintage – $48
This wine is a blend of Touriga National, Pontac, and Shiraz. Alcohol 18.5%.  The nose had a touch of overripe fruit.  There was a rather sweet start with raisins and ultimately too soft for the acidity.  Solid.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

The author and Lou at the end of the tasting.

Notes From the Dump Bin

January 21, 2013 Leave a comment

On a recent visit to MacArthur Beverages I picked up more dump bin materials.  There are a number of reasons why a bottle might be dumped.  In this case the Clos de los Siete had an incredibly stained label and the two other bottles showed signs of leakage.  I do not normally buy leakers but after having recent success with the 2007 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, I thought, why not?  Under the foil the La Bastide Saint Dominique had a purple and white stained neck but the top of the cork looked normal.  The fill was high and in breaking the cork in half it looked like some wine might have made its way through it.  The wine itself was in outstanding condition and thoroughly enjoyable.  The Domaine de la Mordoree showed a very thick, jam like vein of leakage alongside the bottle and slightly lower fill.  I quickly identified the culprit as a thin fold on the side of the cork.  Now I am not advocating you start purchasing bottles with signs of leakage, certainly not fresh leakage.  But the right bottle at the right price might yield a pleasant surprise.

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2008 Clos de los Siete, Mendoza –
Imported by Dourthe USA.  Alcohol 14.6%.  This wine is a blend of 56% Malbec, 21% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot.  The light nose revealed dark aromas, roast earth, and became a little pungent with air.  In the mouth there were dark, robust fruit flavors, roast earth, and a touch of salt.  There was soft weight to the wine a little vanilla note, and fine textured, ripe tannins in both the finish and aftertaste.  With air it showed good integration of acidity, good grip, and blackness.  *** Now-2023.

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2010 La Bastide Saint Dominique, Chateauneuf du Pape –
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault sourced from 25-80 year old vines.  It was aged for 18 months.  Alcohol 15%.  The color was a medium cherry garnet.  The light nose revealed deep dark fruit and brambly red berries.  In the mouth there was dense, almost grainy blue and red fruit along with notes of wood box.  The finish was full of black fruit with some fruit liquor, grainy ripeness, and a minerally black fruit aftertaste.  This wine has power and a rounded personality.  There were some very fine tannins in the aftertaste.  ***(*) Now-2028.

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2009 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Lirac –
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Mourvedre, and 33% Syrah sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It is aged in a combination of enameled steel tanks, oak barrels, and oak tuns.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a light to medium strength nose of Kirsch and black fruit.  In the mouth there was a bit of roast earth, black and red fruit, fine structure, and closely held ripeness.  There was a powerful fine tannic structure on both nights, almost too powerful.  If this resolves with time it might merit a higher score.  *** 2018-2023.