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

September 2, 2011 1 comment

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

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

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

Two Wines from Domaine Gallety

Domaine Gallety, Image by patrickessa

I have sampled a few vintages from Domaine Gallety over the years.  They have all been the cuvee Domaine Gallety which I have frankly found less interesting than similarly priced wines.  On the other hand, Jenn and I really enjoyed the Haute Vigne which comes across as complete.  The two selections reviewed in this post are affordable wines with the 2004 available for $16 at MacArthur’s and the Haute Vignes, a dump bin find, for even less.

2004 Domaine Gallety, Cotes du Vivarais
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache from 40 year old vines that was aged for 15 months in neutral oak barrels.  This wine has a nose of roast earth and cocoa with aromatic herbs on the second night.  In the mouth there is dark, red fruit with some softness.  This robust wine has somewhat coarse tannins and a gritty aspect mixed with flavors of stone.

2005 Domaine Gallety, Haute Vigne, Cotes du Vivarais
This wine is made from fruit that is not to the level required for the Domaine Gallety cuvee.  There is a dark nose of smooth berries.  In the mouth the dark berries are slightly juicy which pairs well with this smooth wine.  The supple flavors are spiced and a little salty.  Fine tannins quietly build and coat the lips through the finish and aftertaste.  This enjoyable wine is reaching a maturity that will not inolve much more complexity.

A Lirac and a Cotes du Roussillon From 2005

West of the Rhone, Freda White

We have drunk a variety of wines from both Clos des Fees and Domaine de la Mordoree.    The Clos des Fees was $14 and the Mordoree was $15 at MacArthur’s dump bin.  If you have current vintages of Clos de Fees Les Sorcieres I would not hesitate to cellar them for several years.  The 2005 is drinking well and far from decline.

2005 Domaine du Clos des Fees, Les Sorcieres, Cotes du Roussillon
This is a blend of 35% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 30% Syrah.  The Grenache and Carignan are sourced from 40-80 year old vines where as the Syrah stems from young vines.  The wine is aged for eight months in concrete tanks.  This wine has a light nose of red fruit with a distinct note.  The soft flavors of red fruit mix with dusty minerals and roasted earth.  There is a low-level of fine tannins throughout with the entire wine enlivened by good acidity.  The flavors take on a light amount of sweet spices and stones.  This wine has a coarse warmth to it that makes it enjoyable to drink now.  While it will last for several more years I would not hesitate to drink it now.

2005 Domaine de la Mordoree, La Dame Rousse, Lirac
This cuvee is an even blend of Grenache and Syrah source from vines that are 40 years old.  This wine has a minimal, nondescript nose.  In the mouth the simple purple and blue fruits make way to hard, dusty stones.  There are plenty of tannins that overshadow the fruit.  With air the fruit is complemented by a little spice and some herbs.  There are ample lip-coating tannins in the aftertaste along with red fruit and notes of cedar.  This vintage of La Dame Rousse has never been a personal favorite.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas

Excerpt from France Revised, John Speed, London 1676

We always enjoy trying a wine from Gigondas.  If you look closely at this map you can find the town of Gigondas.  The image is bisected by the Rhone river with the mouth between the words “The” and “Parts”.  As you follow the river north, one-third of the way you will find Avignon.  A little further up is Orange with Gigondas lying to the east.  It bumps into the rose colored border of Provence.

Gigondas and Vineyards, Image from Ch St Cosme

Louis Barruol took over Chateau du Saint Cosme in 1992, relieving his father Henri from 30+ years of dedication.  Much of the production had been sold to negociants but Louis decided to increase the amount of wine bottled from the estate’s old vines.  This selection represents a taste of Louis’ initial efforts to improve the quality of the estate.  This selection is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault from vines that averaged 40-5o years of age.  The wine was aged for 18 months with 75% in stainless steel vats and 25% in 4-year-old barrels.

Louis Barroul, Image from Ch St Cosme

I bought, along with some other vintages, from MacArthur’s.  My familiarity with Gigondas starts with the 1998 vintage so I was particularly excited to try this wine.  While 1995 was a particularly strong vintage, this wine has already reached maturity and is in slow decline.  For lovers of fully mature wine there is plenty of life left but those who prefer fruit will find this too old.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas
This nose reveals fully mature aromas of beef, blood, and other roast meats.  In the mouth the mature flavors are earthy and soft with blue fruits that mix with minerals.  The finish left impressions of roast earth.  On the second night the wine was a lighter version of itself.  It became more coarse with the addition of sour red berries in the finish.  There are tea leaves in the long, gentle aftertaste.

2003 Domaine Bertrand-Berge, Cuvee Jean Sirven, Fitou

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Castle of Fitou, Image by Alf (flickr)

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

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

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

1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Saint-Joseph

This estate needs no introduction due to their reknowned bottles of Hermitage.  Jean-Louis also produces a Saint-Joseph that is not to be confused with the Offerus cuvee which is a negocient blend.  The Chave’s have long kept vines in Saint-Joseph.  Over the years their holdings have increased to five acres of vines on hillsides behind Mauves and Tournon.  Some vines near Tournon pre-date World War One with the rest from the 1980s and 1990s and 2000s.  The wine typically spends 15-20 months in two to three year old casks.  According to John Livingstone-Learmonth this wine should typically be drunk “within around eight years.”

St. Joseph Vineyards above Tournon, Image by peter.smithkeary(flickr)

I bought this wine from MacArthur’s as it was a respectable price, their Rhone wines are impeccably stored, it is a great producer, and from a decent vintage.  But I must admit, I was not too excited by the wine.  The fruit has faded a bit too much for this bottle.  While the bacon and wood notes are enjoyable the fruit is receding and lacks complexity.

1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Saint-Joseph
This wine started with a nose of meaty bacon and wood scents.  In the mouth there were hard flavors of red fruit then bright, acidic red fruit that is fading and not complex.  There is some incense in the finish and smoked bacon in the finish and aftertaste.  This forged on for several hours and showed no signs of cracking up.  If anything, the bacon notes became more intense.  ** Now-2017.

Domaine les Aphillanthes

June 2, 2011 1 comment

Daniel Boulle in his Cellar, Image from Peter Weygandt

This is an old estate that is comprised of 37 hectares spread throughout Travaillan, Cairanne, and Serignan.  The domaine is located in Travaillan which is just north-west of Gigondas.  Daniel Boulle has run the estate since 1987.  All of the production was sold to the local cooperative until the 1999 vintages.  All of the production is vinified at the estate and 33% is sold in bulk.  There were new cellars build in 2000 and in 2007 the estate is certified as biodynamic and organic.  The vineyards are clay-limestone soil mixed with round rocks.  The wine is transported by gravity feed and fermented in concrete vats.

Galets Roules at Plan de Dieu, Image from Wikipedia

I am fortunate to have bought the 2000 Cuvee 3 Cepages and 2000 Cuvee du Cros from MacArthur’s several years ago.  Representing only the second vintage Daniel made, they are a spectacular success.  We have slowly been drinking these wines over the last several years. I recently picked up the 2000 Vieilles Vignes and 2001 Cuvee du Cros from MacArthur’s dump bin.  The 2007 Cuvee des Galets is currently on offer at MacArthur’s.  These are lovely wines that drink well in their you but also age very well.  We have always preferred the Cuvee du Cros over the Cuvee 3 Cepages but I would highly recommend trying any of the Aphillanthes wines that you can find.  They also own Mas du Gourareadu which I have not tried.

2000 Aphillanthes, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre from 50-year old vines.  It is aged in used barrels from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.  This wine has a light, mature nose. There are very soft, mature fruits, cedar, and stones. There are soft spices and soft stones in the finish. Some structure is developed with air as the wine becomes a bit inky and a little rough. The mouthfilling aftertaste sports fully mature flavors that are woodsy. This is clearly the most mature of the 2000s we tasted.  ** Now.

2000 Aphillanthes, Cuvee 3 Cepages, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This is an equal blend of 33% Grenache, 33% Syrah, and 33% Mourvedre.  This wine has a medium opaque color and a light nose of red fruit. This medium+ bodied wine has rich fruit with good weight, a chewy quality, some minerals, and a grapier finish. The fine+ tannins gently coat the mouth. The wine starts off closed but opens up with air. This wine is more up-front than the other bottles and also a bit more coarse.  *** Now-2017.

2000 Aphillanthes, Cuvee du Cros, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This is 100% Syrah aged in demi-muids.  This is more expressive on the nose with dark fruits and herbs. The flavors are rounded and do not show the “roast beef” quality of the 2001 vintage. It is a lithe wine with inky lipstick and good, gritty fruit. It is chewy, showing a bit of heat but there is a good, mouthfilling aftertaste.  **** Now-2017.

2001 Aphillanthes, Cuvee du Cros, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This wine has a nose of roasted earth. There are heavier flavors of hard, blue fruit, roasted meat, and an earthy finish. The wine is savory but not quite salty. There is a somewhat mouthfilling aftertaste that still has some fine+ tannins. A small bit of heat comes through. Jenn described the flavors of this wine as “roast beef.”  ** Now.

2007 Aphillanthes, Cuvee des Galets, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre from the Plan de Dieu Les Galets.  This wine is lithe with a bit of pruned fruit. It is lovely in the mouth with its blue, gritty fruit mixed with spices. There are obvious tannins and acidity from the beginning that are balanced. There are flavors of stones. While the red/blue fruit is still young, it is an interesting wine. There are some soft, sweet spices in the finish. An enjoyable wine in its youth.  ***(*) Now-2022.