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David Bloch’s new and old world favorites

David Bloch returns from a hiatus in writing, though not tasting, to list his favorite Champagnes and both New and Old World white and red wines.

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Top 10 Champagnes

Vintage:

1996 Moët & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon
1998 Deutz Cuvée William Deutz
2004 Pascal Doquet Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil
2004 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne
2006 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne

Non-Vintage:

Pierre Péters Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve
Pascal Doquet Premiers Crus Brut Blanc de Blancs
Camille Savès Grand Cru Brut Carte Blanche Bouzy
Varnier-Fanniere Grand Cru Cuvée St-Denis
G. H. Mumm & Cie Crémant de Cramant

Top 10 Reds

Old World Reds:

1993 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
1994 Château Latour
1995 Château Troplong Mondot
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà
1996 Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano
1997 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal
1998 Vieux Château Certan
1999 Jean Raphet et Fils Clos Vougeot Cuvée Unique
1999 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis

New World Red:

2002 Dominus

Top 10 Whites

2001 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese
2004 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg
2005 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck GK Riesling Spätlese
2006 Chapoutier Hermitage Chante-Alouette
2006 Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Hochrain
2007 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Trocken Großes Gewächs
2007 Vatan Sancerre Clos La Néore
2008 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs
2009 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
2010 Henri Prudhon Saint-Aubin En Remilly

Sweet Wines

1990 Château Climens
1996 Château d’Yquem
2001 Château Rieussec
2002 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume
2002 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Auslese Goldkapsel

A Diamond Creek vertical back to 1978 along with some other good bottles from the 1970s

May 13, 2016 1 comment

This past Friday we gathered at my house to taste a vertical of seven Diamond Creek wines from 1994 back to 1978.  It is only natural to taste more wine than what we gathered for.  So with mixed results we tasted some aged bubbly while we waited for everyone to arrive.  We then sat down at the dining room table to work through four blind mature wines of the California and Bordeaux nature.  Following the Diamond Creek vertical and dinner, we wrapped the evening up with some interesting dessert wines.

The Sparkling Flight

I rarely notice old bottles of Californian sparkling wine for sale.  While there could be a reason for this, Lou and I were sure to snatch up a bottle each from the Earthquake Cellar.  Only the 1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County turned out to be mature and completely drinkable.  The fruit is mature with added complexity from baking spices.  The bubbles are starting to dissipate so I would drink this up.  Unfortunately, no amount of sparkle could resurrect the past-prime flavors of the 1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine.  To compensate I opened my second bottle of NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne (1970s release) hoping that this one would have bubbles.  It didn’t.  Despite the better looking bottle, the cork was saturated with fuzzy gray mold which did not bode well for what was inside.

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1996 Iron Horse, Wedding Cuvee, Sparkling Wine, Sonoma County
The mature and reasonably attractive nose revealed orchard fruit, some brioche, and baking spice.  In the mouth, the creamy and nutty start mixed with moderate bubbles that dissipated by the finish.  Fully mature. ** Now.

DC15

1991 Beaulieu Vineyards, “100th Anniversary” Brut Reserve, Sparkling Wine, Carneros
This smells old with plenty of apple orchard flavors.  In the mouth are ample amounts of aggressive, fine bubbles that yield a youthful framework for the wine.  Unfortunately, the flavors are old and short.  Not Rated.

DC16

NV Besserat de Bellefon, Grande Tradition, Champagne Brut (1970s release)
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Completely flat with aromas and flavors of a white wine way past its prime.  Not Rated.

The Blind Flight

We kicked off the red wines by tasting a blind flight at the dining room table.  I knew what the first wines were, but having only tasted one upon decanting, it was fun none the less.  The 1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley is destined for a long life.  The nose is young, the fruit dark and in balance with the structure and acidity.  The wine is linear and firm, never giving up its flavor.  I believe there was a general consensus this was old California.  It will last but I do not see it improving.  The 1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux tasted on the light and thin side when first decanted.  An hour of air only benefited the bottle for it offered up attractive aromas and flavors of sweet, mature fruit.  I like Palmer and this bottle of 1975 delivered all I could hope for from this vintage.  Most people thought this was old Bordeaux.  The 1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley was a flawed bottle.  I could work my way around the nose but in the mouth the brief, hopeful start soon turned coarse.  Impossible to say what this was blind.  Finally, the 1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc threw me and others for a loop.  We soon knew the last two wines were from the same vintage but this did not help in any way.  The coffee and chocolate aromas had me leaning towards California but the flavors towards Bordeaux.  The wine turned out to be quite youthful with plenty of strength.  A good wine but not as seductive as the Palmer.

DC3

1982 Niebaum-Coppola, Rubicon, Napa Valley
This smells young with cherry fruit.  The flavors are a bit linear becoming darker and blacker as the wine firms up towards the middle.  It is salty and savory with a structure of fine tannins woven throughout.  It does show some mature flavors in the middle before finishing up with salivating acidity.  ** Now but will last.

DC4

1975 Chateau Palmer, Margaux
Shipped by Caves Robert Michelle. Imported by Parliament Import. Alcohol 11% – 14%.  There is a good, mature nose of sweet old fruit with a hint of musk.  The sweet fruit fills the mouth in a gentle way.  There is a touch of fat with structure still present through the end.  It is a lighter wine, with attractive flavors, some bacon, and a sappy finish.  Drinking great right now.  *** Now.

DC2

1975 Heitz Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.5%.  Strong aromas of VA on the nose.  In the mouth is a brief bit of fresh, young flavors before the coarseness came out.  Shame.  Not Rated.

DC1

1975 Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc
The aromas of coffee and chocolate had me on the fence about being from Bordeaux.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had a cedar hint before savory, weighty flavors came out.  There is good acidity.  The wine became even more youthful with air, showing dark fruit, and lurking power.  The finish was savory and a bit electric.  Needs more time?  *** Now – 2021.

The Diamond Creek Flights

Anyone with interest in Diamond Creek Vineyards should read the transcript of Carole Hicke’s interview of Albert Brounstein in 1998.  In fact, the entire Wine Spectator California Wine Oral History Series is great fun.  Diamond Creek Vineyards became California’s first all Cabernet Sauvignon winery when the 79 acre property was purchased in 1967.  Al Brounstein wanted to make the best possible wine from Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the more uneven Zinfandel.  He interacted a lot with Ridge Vineyards in those early days before Paul Draper.

The Diamond Creek vineyards were promptly planted in 1968.  Al Brounstein wanted to plant vines from France, but UC Davis said they would quarantine them for six years before they could be released.  Al Brounstein did not want to wait and he wanted the best cuttings possible so he approached the great First Growths of Bordeaux.  The cuttings went from France to Mexico City then up to Tijuana then over to Rosarita Beach.  Here Al Brounstein would fly them back up to his vineyard in his private plane.

The Bordeaux estates from which the cuttings came from are not revealed in the interview.  There is a cryptic clue however, “even though I’m going to tell you three names out of the five, of which two may or may not be included…I’m not revealing any names”.  He goes on to mention Chateau Margaux, Chateau Haut Brion, and Chateau Latour.

The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties were planted as a field blend for this practice is what Al Brounstein observed during his vineyard visits in Europe.  The vineyards were first planted with 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot.   In the early 1970s he began to replace dead or damaged vines with Cabernet Franc, eventually coming to 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc distribution.  Wine was first produced with the 1971 vintage.  All of the 1971 vintage, except for the one case which was drunk, was used to top off the casks of the first commercial vintage of 1972.

There were three original vineyards: Gravelly Meadow, Red Rock Terrace, and Volcanic Hill.  The Gravelly Meadow lies on a prehistoric river bed which drains rapidly forcing the vines to search for water.  It is the second coolest microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 7 acre Red Rock Terrace faces north with red tinted soil from high iron content.  It has a warm microclimate and was equated to Chateau Haut Brion.  The 8 acre Volcanic Hill faces south where it lies on volcanic soils, producing what is considered the biggest wine of the three.  It was equated to Chateau Latour.

Wines from these three vineyards are what we tasted.  They have always been produced with an eye towards slow development which came out in the young vintages.  The modern 1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is young and densely packed.  Though it will develop for quite some time, it is surprisingly accessible with plenty of fruit.  In contrast, the 1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley which also show great future potential, is a more savory wine with less fruit weight and quite attractive in its youth.

The 1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley gave the first taste of an old-school Californian wine.  It is attractively sweaty with more restraint and structure.  It will drink well for sometime and might even improve.  It certainly set the stage for the final pair from 1978.  The 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley is livelier with brighter, red fruit, lively acidity, and very fine tannins.  In contrast the 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley is deeper and darker in flavor, slowly unfurling its power which takes grip on your mouth.  It was my favorite red wine of the night.  I really enjoy this type of wine and all I wanted to do is drink it.

DC10

1994 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The red fruit slowly builds intensity, taking on licorice as well.  The wine is quite fruity, packing in a lot of unique flavor, but is also rather young with fine tannins.  With this savory flavor, the wine maintains a dense core of fruit that is clean and thick.  **** Now – 2031.

DC9

1992 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  Corked! Not Rated.

DC8

1987 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The sweaty nose is dark and aromatic.  In the mouth are savory, mouthfilling flavors framed by structure and watering acidity.  This wine is on the upslope of development.  With air the red and black fruit is lighter in weight making the fine structure noticeable.  The flavorful finish is followed by an aftertaste of dark roast and soil.  ***(*) Now – 2031

DC11

1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gravelly Meadow, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%. Off bottle! Not Rated.

DC7

1980 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is sweaty and dark, not showing the intensity of the 1978s.  The mature flavors exist in a touch more structure with fine tannins and a sweaty finish.  It shows a good balance between fruit, structure, and acidity. With air there are mature flavors of cherry mixed with dry spices, salivating to juicy acidity and very fine tannins.  ***(*) Now – 2026.

DC6

1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Rock Terrace, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is more subtle but deeper with a crayon hint.  The red fruit is balanced by acidity making this more accessible.  The fruit flavors are bright but backed by depth and delivered in a lively, mature manner.  There is good balance with the acidity seamlessly bound in, matching the structure.  It wraps up with fine flavors of clean red fruit and a wood box hint.  **** Now but will last.

DC5

1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is a touch earthy.  In the mouth the darker fruit is rich with grip, steadily expanding in the mouth.  The fresh and tart structure is left on the gum as some sweet, not quite grainy fruit, persists through the aftertaste.  **** Now but will last.

The Dessert Flight

There were four dessert wines opened. The first two in full-bottles were served blind and the last two, in halves, were from Canada.  There is little in print with regards to 1976 Hermann Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.  Despite the greatness of Bernkastel wines, the von Schorlemer family is not mentioned in Andre Simon’s and S. F. Halgarten’s The Great Wines of Germany (1963), Frank Schoomaker’s Encyclopedia of Wine (1965), nor Ian Jamieson’s German Wines (1991).  There are a handful of advertisements for von Schorlemer wines in the late 1960s, usually featuring other offerings of Alexis Lichine.  Fortunately, Phil reached out to Johannes Selbach who promptly responded.  The von Schorlemer is a noble family that owned some of the best vineyard of the Mittelmosel which were highly regarded before World War 1.  They were still a top estate in the 1960s.  It sounds like interests changed so a large holdings of vineyards were sold off in 1969 which marked the slow decline of the estate.  Our bottle was in perfect condition with a supremely beautiful color.  Michael Broadbent rates the vintage four out of five stars noting it was a “supremely rich vintage”. With aromas of apricots and baking spices the sweet peach flavors were sported along by watering acidity.  If you happen to have a bottle I would consider drinking it.  The finish was a touch short but the wine resurrected itself with a very long aftertaste.  I freely admit I had no clue what the 1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume was.  It was not as mature in color as the von Schorlemer and much younger in the mouth.  It needs time in bottle but you simply must love the fat and electric acidity that carries the residual sugar down your throat.

DC12

1976 Herman Freiherr von Schorlemer, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Imported by Woodley Wine & Liquor.  Alcohol 10%.  This golden colored wine smells of apricots, cream, and baking spices. There are flavors of textured sweet peach with watering acidity.  The intensity of the flavors fall off in the finish only to return in the incredibly long aftertaste.  **** Now.

DC13

1995 Domaine des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume
Shipped by Bertrand Bordeaux. Imported by Prestige Wine Co.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Though lighter than the 1976 Riesling, the color suggests maturity.  In the mouth is a very sweet start with fat, lots of sugar, and almost electric acidity.  ****  Now – 2046.

DC17

An Earthy Bourgueil from Damien Lorieux

The Lorieux family have been tending vines and making wine since 1976.  Third generation and Bordeaux educated Damien Lorieux now produces the wines.  My excellent introduction to his wines came in the form of the 2014 Domaine Damien Lorieux, Tuffeaux, Bourgueil.  This wine offers dark fruit made complex from an earthy note which is delivered in a dry, ethereal manner.  While it is attractive now, it should develop over the next year to provide satisfaction over the short-term.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

Tuffeaux

2014 Domaine Damien Lorieux, Tuffeaux, Bourgueil – $15
Imported by Bird Rock Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from gravel terraces along with clay and limestone slopes.  It was aged for 12 months in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol 13%.  The deep nose offers bright, grapey fruit aromas that mix with a touch of earth.  In the mouth are structured flavors of dark red and black fruit that exist in a dry and ethereal manner.  The mouth follows the nose, adding a subtle dry structure and a bit of a chewy finish.  It should develop over the short-term.  **(*) Now – 2020.

An interesting Pinot Noir and Gamay blend from Fiefs Vendeens in the Loire

March 4, 2016 2 comments

I grabbed the bottle of 2014 Domaine St. Nicolas, Reflets Rouge, Fiefs Vendeens not because I had never heard of the Fiefs Vendeens appellation in the Loire but because it is a Pinot Noir and Gamay blend.  Apparently, Fiefs Vendeens is the only maritime climate where both Pinot Noir and Gamay are grown in France.  The wine itself is relatively rich with good mouthfeel and leaves you with a sense that you are drinking straight from the foudre. If you are at all curious then do try this interesting selection. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

ThierryMichon1

2014 Domaine St. Nicolas, Reflets Rouge, Fiefs Vendeens – $20
A Jon-David Headrick selection imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Gamay, and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from 15-25 year old vines.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in oak vats then aged for 7 months in French foudre.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine is surprisingly weighty with moderately thick body and a sense that it is not filtered.  The flavors are of purple and black fruit which are delivered with a youthful and fresh nature.  It becomes a little citric by the finish.  Overall, this is a drinkable wine with good mouthfeel.  ** Now – 2017.

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Three tasty white wines

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment

I am simultaneously researching several topics right now so to stay hydrated I have been drinking more white wine. One of the most screaming values out there is the 2013 Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin, La Grange Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Sevre & Maine.  Get some friends together so you may drink this vibrant and chalky wine in one go.  It is an honest wine at a great price.  Roger Lassarat’s wines from 2014 appear to be quite good. The 2014 Roger Lassarat, Cuvee des Murgers, Pouilly-Fuisse was put on sale last week making it a solid choice for a crisp and modestly intense wine that will develop over the short-term.  I should point out that the $15 Macon-Villages is a good buy as well.  The 2013 Domaine Remi Jobard, Bourgogne Blanc certainly comes across as a classic Bourgogne blanc.  I preferred it on the first night when there was more fruit intensity making this well-made wine complete. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin, La Grange Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Sevre & Maine – $13
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Muscadet sourced from 45+  year old vines that were aged sur lie for 7 months. Alcohol 12%.  Best on the first night this wine is vibrant on the tongue with rounded flavors of white fruit and chalk before the dry finish.  The wine remains fully integrated from start to finish.  *** Now – 2016.

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2014 Roger Lassarat, Cuvee des Murgers, Pouilly-Fuisse – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vines on very chalky soils.  Alcohol 13%.  There was flinty white fruit on the nose. In the mouth was a rounded start with modest but good intensity.  There was some attractive weight and texture in this wine that developed riper flavors with time.  It ultimately delivered ripe, green fruit, chalk, and texture all the while maintaining crispness.  **(*) Now – 2017.

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2013 Domaine Remi Jobard, Bourgogne Blanc – $20
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 13%.  There were slightly rounded yet tart white apple flavors, ripe texture, and spices on the gums.  This wine was crisp and clean showing more fruit on the first night and more toast towards the finish on the second.  Well made.  ** Now – 2017.

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Diverse wines from Baudry, Matthiasson, Perrin, Rolet, and Ch des Tours

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

We recently tasted through a diverse selection of wines.  The 2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Blanc  was all about the acidity driven tension and mouthfeel.  I do not care for purely high acidity wines, rather I like acidity that gives a sense of nervous energy like the wine is alive.  The Baudry has that.  The 2013 Matthiasson, Chardonnay, Linda Vista Vineyard, Napa Valley grew on me.  With similar weight to the Baudry it too has a lot of acidity but not of the tense kind and in comparison, the Baudry shows more ripe fruit.  The Matthiasson actually grew on me but I would wait several months before trying again.  I was surprised by the 2012 Famille Perrin, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone in that it was full of clean, modern flavors.  A solid wine for the short term but without the intrigue I expected.  The 2010 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Cotes du Rhone is the best wine I have drunk in the past week.  The nose was beautiful right from the very first pour and so were the flavors.  This is quite a contrast to the 2009 vintage, which you may read about here, which I found “full-bodied” and with a “force of mind” requiring years in the cellar.   You might balk at paying $40 for a Cotes du Rhone but you will stop once you taste it.  Finally, my first experience with Vin Jaune is the 2005 Rolet Pere et Fils, Arbois Vin Jaune.  It reminded me of nuts and Sherry so if that is appealing to you then cellar a few bottles for a few decades.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Blanc – $25
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from young vines on soils of clay and limestone.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged in oak barrels. Alcohol 12%.  The color was a rather light gold.  In the mouth were tense flavors of white fruit, chalk notes, and eventually apples with other fruit.  There was a great mouthfeel before the tangy, clean citrus of the finish and the citrus pith textured aftertaste.  *** Now-2016.

Diverse1

2013 Matthiasson, Chardonnay, Linda Vista Vineyard, Napa Valley – $26
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented then aged in neutral oak barrels.  The barrels underwent a mixture of stirring and malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol 12.9%.  The color was a very light gold with green tinges.  The nose was delicate with ripe green apple aromas.  In the mouth was bright fruit that had a rounded start.  There was plenty of acidity but not overdone.  There was just enough weight to the wine and a tart finish.  **(*) 2015-2016.

Diverse3

2012 Famille Perrin, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Cotes du Rhone – $25
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault that was aged for six months in oak foudres.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a fresh, spiced filled nose.  In the mouth were fresh, bright flavors of herbed and floral fruit.  The wine tastes balanced but there is less structure than I expected giving it more levity.  This is best drunk young.  **(*) Now-2020.

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2010 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Cotes du Rhone – $40
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.    This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 15% Cinsault.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was aromatic with Kirsch, light and bright red fruit…simply beautiful.  In the mouth the red fruit flavors had gentle ripeness, ripe cherry, lipstick, and raspberry.  The wine was in perfect balance.  Though drinking well right now it should continue to develop.  **** Now-2020.

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2005 Rolet Pere et Fils, Arbois Vin Jaune – $35 (375 mL)
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Savagnin that spent six years in barrel under flor.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The aromas and flavors were evocative of nuts and Sherry.  Very nutty in the mouth, dry, strong yet balance acidity, and apple orchard hints.  *** Now-20??.

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Red wines from the 2013 vintage of Marc Olivier’s Domaine de la Pépière

September 16, 2014 Leave a comment

Marc Olivier of Domaine de la Pépière produced his first wine in the 1980s.  His vineyards are located in the western part of the Loire in Muscadet.  Muscadet is known for its white wines with Marc Olivier’s Clos de Briords appearing in this blog several times.  Today’s post features his three red wines.  These wines are made with fruit from a single plot of 40+ year old Cabernet Franc as well as young plots of Côt, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  According to the excellent Le Pépière (Loire) post on Wine Terroirs these plots are on soil of Granit de Clisson with south-western exposure to aid in ripening.

Old vines.  Image from Domaine de la Pépière.

Old vines. Image from Domaine de la Pépière.

We tasted these wines over a period of three days and they remained rock stable.  Marc Oliver does not add any sulphur at bottling because he aims to already have enough free sulphur in the wine left over from its addition during élevage in the winter.  There was no hint of the dreaded Pilsner note.  Instead these remained fresh, young, and aromatic wines.  The flavors lean towards the tart and dry with lively acidity so these may not be wines for everyone.  The 2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Le Pepie, Côt, VdP Loire was the simplest of the three.  The 2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Le Pepie, Cabernet Franc, VdP Loire – $13 offered more expression with an interesting tension from the ripe and dry flavors.  My favorite was the 2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Cuvee Granit, VdP Loire which had a more complex nose and impeccable balance.  It steps forward from the young and grapey Le Pepie wines to show more gravity.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

Pepiere1

2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Le Pepie, Côt, VdP Loire – $13
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Côt sourced from young vines around 10 years of age.  It was fermented in tanks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose revealed orange hints mixed with red fruit.  It was a simpler nose with less of the white pepper and graphite.  In the mouth were light, lifted flavors that were tart and started with some spritz on the tongue.  It had good acidity, a light grapey nature, and reacted well to air.  ** Now-2019.

Pepiere2

2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Le Pepie, Cabernet Franc, VdP Loire – $13
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc that was fermented in tanks.  Alcohol 12%.  There was a very light nose of cranberry and tart, red fruit with hints of fresh white pepper.  In the mouth this wine had textured and lively acidity, tart dry red fruit, and a ripe, wood polish note.  Its hard to describe but there was a nice contrast to the ripe flavors and dryness of the wines.  ** Now-2019.

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2013 Domaine de la Pépière, Cuvee Granit, VdP Loire – $15
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This is typically a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 20% Côt, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 12%.  This bore a nose of fine graphite, white pepper, and sweet floral potpourri.  In the mouth were tart, red fruit then black fruit.  The white pepper continues through the wine.  The lighter and dry flavors had watering acidity before turning tart black with very fine ripeness in the finish.  **(*) 2015-2020.

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