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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.

A Tasty and Affordable Wine From Argentina

October 17, 2012 Leave a comment

With the 75th running of the International Gold Cup this Saturday I am in complete planning and execution mode for our tailgate party.  For those curious you may follow my Tweets @TimberAndBrush.  But I am still tasting new wines and hope to share them with you.  During the evenings I am focusing on vintage race results so right now I am preferring inexpensive wines.  This random selection pleasantly pleased us yesterday night.  I would drink more at this price point.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Bodegas Diamandes, Perlita, Mendoza – $11
Imported by Dourthe USA.  This wine is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Syrah.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for eight months in 80% used and 20% new French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%  The nose is light, young, and full of violets. In the mouth there is cool blue and black fruit, lifted and youthful.  It slowly develops a little juiciness, some ripeness, and the acidity comes out in the finish.  There is a little weight, textured tannins, and stoney structure.  Completely satisfying for the short-term.  ** Now-2016.

Tasting Wines with Potomac Selections at MacArthur Beverages

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment

This week I stopped by MacArthur Beverages to pick up some recently arrived wines.  To my excitement John Spina of Potomac Selections was pouring six of his wines.  It is bound to be fun when half of the wines are at least six years old!  My favorite wine was the Lopez de Heredia, Cubillo for its interesting aromas and combination of maturity and youthfulness.  The Buil & Gine is a fun, vigorous wine which is evocative of Montsant.  The wines of Domaine de Monpertuis seem to be popping up lately with this Cotes du Rhone showing well.  The Hacienda del Plata is a fresh, strong value in Argentine wines.  Of the whites the White Rock balanced ripe fruit and oak with acidity and structure.  The richly aromatic nose of the Charles Schleret was good fun to smell.  Below you will find my brief impressions of these wines.  Note, I used a glass which my nose barely fit in.

2009 White Rock, Chardonnay, Napa Valley – $28
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in barrel with 15% undergoing malolactic fermentation with indigenous yeasts.  It was aged on the lees for 10 months in 5% new French oak. Alcohol 13.9%.  The color is a light yellow.  The medium strength nose revealed some ripe, textured fruit and sweet oak.  In the mouth the flavors were a bit tropical showing more restraint than the nose.  The yellow fruit had a moderate richness which was framed in some structure containing some acidity and light wood notes.  Drink over the short-term.

2005 Charles Schleret, Riesling Herrenweg, Alsace – $26
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. This wine is 100% Riesling which was fermented in stainless steel tanks.  The color was a light+ vibrant yellow-green.  The nose was rich with finely textured aromas of yellow fruit and underlying tropical notes.  In the mouth it was very focused with soft flavors, a little dry in delivery, floral notes, a nice mouth feel, and some tannins and spice in the aftertaste.  For drinking now.

2005 Bodegas R. Lopez de Heredia, Cubillo, Crianza, Rioja – $25
Imported by Think Global Wines.  This wine is a blend of 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacho, 5% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo which was fermented in large oak vats and aged for three years in barrel. TA 6 g/l, Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The medium strength nose revealed maturing aromas of red fruit.  In the mouth there was fresh cherry fruit with very lively sour acidity, a little grip, fresh fruit, and some mature wood notes.  Drinkable now but will be fine over the next five years or so.

2010 Domaine de Monpertuis, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. The fruit was fermented and aged in cement vats.  I thought this bottle was softer and more approachable that what I have previous tried.  The fruit was lively with flavors of violets and pepper.  Well done and drinkable now.

2006 Buil & Gine, Baboix, Montsant – $26
Imported by Think Global Wines.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon which underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 12 months in French and American oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a very dark and grapey ruby/garnet.  The light nose was a little herbaceous with floral purple fruits and violets.  In the mouth the flavors were generous with grip, ripe drying tannins, brambly fruit.  The wine is youthful with a satisfying inky finish.  Drink now for vigor or over the next five to ten years.

2010 Hacienda del Plata, Malbec, Zagal, Mendoza – $14
Imported by Cana Selections.  This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from the Las Marias Vineyard located at 921 meters on soils of clay loam with alluvial deposits.  It was aged for eight months with 60% in stainless steel tanks and 40% in French and American oak.  RS 2.25 g/L, TA 5.0 g/L, RS 2.25 g/L, Alcohol 13.4%.  This too was dark with a purple ruby color.  The nose was fresh with grapey, purple aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were round with a finely textured, youthful purple fruit, coffee notes, and concentration.  It was a little spicy in the finish along with the ripe fruit.  Drink now for freshness or over the short-term.

Tasting the Wines of Bodegas y Cavas Weinert at MacArthur Beverages

MacArthur Beverages

I was fortunate to join Phil in tasting through a selection of wines from Bodegas y Cavas Weinert at MacArthur Beverages.  Back in my Seattle days Jenn and I drank through cases of these wines as they were both affordable and mature.  Having only tasted one wine in the last decade, the 2006 Carrascal at Lou’s house last year, I happily looked forward to stoping by the store.  Bodegas y Cavas Weinert was founded in 1975 on a winery originally built in 1890. The winery was rebuilt starting in 1976 with the first harvest in 1977.  Today the vineyards contain vines aged 25-100 years old grown mostly on sandy and rocky soils which are high in minerals and located at 900-1,200 meters.  All fruit is fermented in either concrete tank or large oak casks then aged in large, used casks in the 19th century cellars.

Old Casks of Malbec, Bodegas Weinert, Image from _mgp_ (flickr)

These are traditional styled wines showing complexity from the extended aging.  This makes them quite different from the Argentine wines you typically see on the shelves in Washington, DC.   The 2007 Carrascal is reminiscent of a Bordeaux with an Argentine-Malbec note shinning through.  I particularly liked the 2006 Merlot and 2005 Malbec.  The Merlot shows a more mature nature and will probably drink well early on because it started to open up after 15 minutes of air.  The Malbec easily absorbed its third year in oak casks showing harmonious integration of tannins yet was still approachable and youthful.  This wine might reveal more after an hour or two of air but will certainly age for some time.  My recommendation is to seek out the Merlot and Malbec.  The wines were popped and poured so my brief notes are from revisiting the wine over the first 15 minutes or so.

2007 Bodegas Weinert, Carrascal, Mendoza
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot which was aged for 1.5-2.5 years in French oak casks.  A medium color of ruby with some garnet.  There was a younger, berry nose with black red fruit.  In the mouth the fruit was controlled at first before some ripeness came out, followed by black berries, a touch of raciness, leaving the impression of a balanced and lithe wine.  The fine, drying tannins were a touch spicy.  ** Now-2015.

2006 Bodegas Weinert, Merlot, Mendoza
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from Lujan de Cuyo.  It was aged for two years in French oak casks.  A medium color of ruby with more garnet hints.  There was an interesting, mature-ish nose of old-school aromas.  In the mouth the flavors began with savory fruit before a youthful core of black fruit development.  This medium bodied wine some ripe red fruit with a dose of drying, fine to medium tannins.  An engaging mineral and “iron” note came out.  *** Now-2019.

2005 Bodegas Weinert, Malbec, Mendoza
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from 70-110 year old vineyards in Maipu.  The wine was aged for three years in French oak casks.  This was a medium+ color of ruby.  The nose was the most youthful with medium strength, assertive, and pungent red aromas.  In the mouth the fruit showed controlled fatness then concentrated black fruit.  There were chewy tart red fruit flavors and an inky black vein. The tannins are fine and well-integrated.  *** Now-2022.

Another Argentine Wine the 2004 Tikal, Patriota

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

This particular bottle was purchased quite a while ago.  In looking through my old Leighton House Selection notes it was back in the fall of 2006.  For several years we frequently drank the current vintage of Tikal, Patriota finding comfort in its vigorous blend.  Earlier this winter I came across this bottle buried towards the bottom of my wine boxes.  In my original tasting note I remarked, “Drink now for the vigor of youth (decanting recommended) or over the next year.”  I should have heeded my original drinking estimate.  While this bottle has plenty of life left, the fruit is receding with the structure and barrel influences gaining ground.

2004 Tikal, Patriota, Mendoza – $23
Imported by Vine Connections.  This is a blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec sourced from vineyards in Rivadavia, La Consulta, and Vista Flores.  The vines average 40 years of age and are located at 960 meters.  The wine is aged in 70% French oak (of which 40% is new) and 30% two-year old American oak.  This is salty with dark, flavors of roast.  It is still quite strapping with flavors that expand in the mouth.  Though it is strong there is not much complexity and the pleasing texture cannot make up for the current, heavy flavor profile.  On the second night it was a bit gritty, with cooler, blue fruit, and stoney notes.  Though this will live for many years to come, I would drink this now.

Two Recent Releases From Argentina

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

It has been some time since we drank wines from Argentina.  I must admit that I drink my Argentine Malbec in small doses as it does not always excited me.  I typically prefer other varietals and blends.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I first tasted the Pulenta Estate wine.  It is quite enjoyable, should have broad appeal, and is strongly priced.  The Renacer, Enamore is a joint effort between the winemakers at Allegrini (in Italy) and Renacer.  Enamore is an anagram of Amarone, giving reference to the Italian appassimento method of air-drying the grapes.  The reduced water content in the shriveled grapes increase the fermentation time.  In fact the Enamore was fermented with indigenous yeasts for 90 days in stainless steel!  It is an interesting wine to try, the price is certainly reasonable for the style, but I would resist the temptation to open the bottle now and instead cellar it for 2-3 years.  These two wines were purchased at MacArthurs.

2010 Bodega Pulenta Estate, La Flora, Malbec, Mendoza – $13
Imported by Paul Hobbs Imports.  The fruit is sourced from a 135 hectare vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo.  The vineyard is located at 980 meters.  The introductory La Flor selections are made from the young vines.  This wine is 100% Malbec which underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.  The nose is inviting with aromas of black currant jam.  The fruit is ripe but not overly done in this contemporary wine.  There is good texture, not quite brambly, with a mixture of red and blue fruit that are balanced by the acidity and tannins.  This is a very approachable Malbec that may be drunk over the short-term.

2009 Bodega y Vinedos Renacer, Enamore, Mendoza – $24
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 62% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 9% Bonarda, and 4% Syrah sourced form vines more than 50 years old.  The vineyards are located in Lujan de Cuyo, Medrano, and Rivadavia at altitudes of 600 to 980 meters.  The grapes are dries by winds until they have lost one-third of their weight.  They undergo malolactic fermentation before aging 12 months in new French oak barriques.  The rich flavors start with blue fruits then turn towards raisin notes with a bit of spirit.  There is a lovely flowing texture through out.  The sweet, confected fruit and dusty notes stand up to the moderate tannins providing a long, good finish.  This is not your usual glass of wine (obviously, being Amarone-like).  I would cellar this for a few years so that it may come together.

Tasting Affordable Wines at Soul Wine

November 3, 2011 2 comments

By the time I left work it was steadily raining and I was quite hungry for dinner.  Fortunately Soul Wine and Serious Pie are located in the same building in South Lake Union which is on the way to my hotel.  From Wednesday through Saturday Soul Wine has several different wines open at the tasting bar.  Last night was affordable wine night.  Looking at my watch I knew that I could get to Soul Wine shortly before it closed.  So in the span of one hour I was able to chat with Michael, try three wines, purchase bottles to bring home, and eat a seriously tasty sausage pizza.

The Space Needle from South Lake Union

Soul Wine has a small selection of North-West wines compared to Pike & Western.  The selection is predominantly European with Italy representing the biggest portion followed by France.  Thus the Washington and Oregon wines that Soul Wine does carry are highly edited and include selections that please Michael’s Piedmontese palate.  After picking out my selections and walking around the store we went up to the tasting bar.  Priced between $10 – $15 all three wines are pleasing and attractively priced.  My favorite by far was the Pech-Latt.  At $12 it will make for an excellent daily drinker.

2010 Arnoux & Fils, Vieux Clocher, Cotes du Rhone
This wine is a blend of 50 % Grenache blanc, 40 % Clairette, 5 % Roussane, and 5 % Viognier.  This was crisp, fresh, some notes of stone, balanced acidity, with a bit of weight to the body.  Pleasing. Not Rated.

2009 Chateau Pech-Latt, Corbieres
This is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Grenache.  This wine had a little bit of everything with ripe, red fruit, good acidity, fine tannins, and an overall balanced personality.  While this will age for one to two years it is easy to drink now. Not Rated.

2009 Bodega Calle, Ca de Calle, Reserva, Mendoza
This is a blend of Malbec, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Petit Verdot that was aged for 12 months in new and used oak.  This was not an overt Argentine Malbec.  It is contemporary, a bit interesting and not a bit cookie-cutter. Not Rated.