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A wide variety of French wines.

February 9, 2016 Leave a comment

This post features a number of French wines which we have recently drunk.  My favorite pair are the 2013 Ola Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon and the 2011 Domaine Cheveau, Or Rouge, Beaujolais Villages.  The Raffault is a finely scented, fresh, satisfying herbaceous wine from Chinon.  I kept finding myself returning to my glass.  The Cheveau has benefited from a few years of age but still retains lovely cool, dense flavors.   The 2013 Alleno & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone is also good with its minerally, black flavors but it will greatly benefit from short-term aging. Of the wines for drinking now the 2014 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minervois offers a tart, red grapefruit profile whereas the 2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres offers forward drinking flavors of raspberry candy.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Chateau Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minervois – $13
Imported by Vintage 59.  This wine is a blend of old-vine Carignan and Grenache.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of raspberry candy.  In the mouth the tart red and black fruit had a slight hint of red grapefruit.  In general there was a beam of tart and ripe fruit, minimal structure which was integrated, and spices in the end.  The tart aspects matched with the developing bitters flavor.  ** Now – 2017.

2014 Damien Coquelet, Cote du Py, Morgon – $22
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Gamay.  Alcohol.  Tasted over a few days the lovely nose eventually took on graphite notes.  This light, bright wine was pure in nature with a lively start, building dry weight, and an ethereal aftertaste.  It had slightly watering acidity and a dry, structured middle.  The dry flavors existed over a layer of stone and mineral.  I suspect this might open up in a year.  It is best to cellar it instead of giving it extended decant time because it developed a Pilsner beer note.  **(*) 2017-2019.

2013 Alleno & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Classic Wines.  This wine is mostly Syrah that was fermented and aged on concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The minerally, black fruit flavors left some texture on the gums and juicy acidity on the tongue.  With controlled flavors the gentle ripe spices took on some wood notes and persisted through the aftertaste.  This needs short-term aging.  *** 2017-2020.

2013 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Pic St Loup – $17
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre.   Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose is attractive with delicate floral and graphite aromas. In the mouth the wine has very high-toned, citric red fruit.  With extended air it seemed to deepen up a bit and not fall into Pilsner yeast land.  ** Now – 2017.

2013 Ola Raffault, Les Barnabes, Chinon – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  This fresh, scented wine is attractively herbaceous.  The flavors continue with herbaceous red and black fruit flavors which are dry.  This flavorful wine is mouthfilling yet medium-bodied with an almost gentle finish.  With air sweet dried herbs come out along with very, very fine tannins.  The acidity is indistinguishably integrated.  *** Now – 2018.

2011 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres – $18
A Franck’s Signature Wines imported by Promex Wines.  This wine is a blend of 55% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 14%.  The forward flavors of raspberry candy are rounded with mouthfilling weight.  With air it takes on some darker notes.  Very much a wine to drink right now. ** Now – 2017.

2011 Domaine Cheveau, Or Rouge, Beaujolais Villages – $18
Imported by Rosenthal.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from vines averaging 50 years of age.   Alcohol 13%.  The nose remained subtle but in the mouth were cool, dense fruit with watery acidity, a fresh middle, and tannins noticeable in the aftertaste.  With air the firm red fruits took on additional flavors of ripe black fruit.  The wine remained a little puckering on the sides of the tongue.  *** Now – 2020.

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Tasty Pic Saint Loup and Terrasses du Larzac from Weygandt Wines

Just a quick post as the summer is winding down.  Tim recently recommended several wines including the pair featured in this post.  The 2010 Clos Marie, L’Olivette, Pic Saint Loup immediately reminded me of a very low sulphured wine.  After an hour or two of air it blossomed show savory, complex flavors.  It packs a bit of structure so I would cellar this for a few years to let it reach full potential.   The 2011 Domaine le Clos du Serres, Les Maros, Terrasses du Larzac is completely different with its aromas of soil and dense, ripe flavors.  It is a pleasure to drink right now!  For background information I suggest you read Isaac James Baker’s Le Clos du Serres: Terroir-Driven Wines from Terrasses du Larzac.  These wines were purchased at Weygandt-Wines.

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2010 Clos Marie, L’Olivette, Pic Saint Loup – $25
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a unique combination of red fruit, rosemary, and pink-grapefruit flavors that was matched by a little prickle on the tongue.  The wine reacted well to air developing both savory flavors and complexity, before the cinnamon-spiced finish.  This is a lovely, youthful wine with a drying, citric structure.  ***(*) 2016-2024.

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2011 Domaine le Clos du Serres, Les Maros, Terrasses du Larzac – $22
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, and 20% Carignan.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed black fruit, soil, and some earth.  In the mouth were dense, ripe flavors moving from blue to cool black fruit flavors.  There were long, ripe tannins, a somewhat creamy finish, and spicy aftertaste.  This young wine took on some dry, graphite notes.  *** Now -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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A Pair from Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Over the holidays we brought over a bottle of the Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Cuvee Saint Agnes Blanc to my mom’s house.  This was my first time tasting this cuvee.  I was somewhat surprised then delighted by the serious but tasty nature of the wine.  It responds well to air and should do so to aging as well.  A natural follow on was the Les Pierres red wine from the lovely 2007 vintage.   Its wild youth is starting to be replaced by some maturity.  Definitely to be shared during cold weather.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Cuvee Saint Agnes Blanc, Pic St Loup – $19
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Roussanne, 30% Clairette, 10% Marsanne, and 10% Grenache Blanc sourced from 15-80 year old vines on soils of clay, limestone, and dolomite.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for 10 months in foudres and demi-muids.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light yellow.  The light nose was yeasty with white fruit.  In the mouth there was light flavors of ripe white fruit along with stones and perfume.  There was some good weight to the lively flavors were touched the sides of the tongue.  The wine turned chalkier towards the finish where that was good texture and darker flavors in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2018.

2007 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Les Pierres, Pic St Loup –
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre sourced from 30-40 year old vines on soils of red clay.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 12 months in foudres and barriques.  The color was a medium garnet cherry.  The nose bore pungent aromas of raspberry which stepped out of the glass.  In the mouth there was a mature start with stoney black fruit, a somewhat firm core, and acidity through the finish.  There were still fine ripe tannins.  *** Now-2018.

Two Lively Red Wines

Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of yeast during fermentation.  It is heavier than air so that during fermentation a blanket of carbon dioxide protects the must from oxidation.  While external carbon dioxide may be used to protect the wine during winemaking it still exists within the wine as dissolved carbon dioxide.  Dissolved carbon dioxide may give a drink sparkle.  At low levels it is unnoticeable but as the concentration increases the wine becomes lively then prickly.  The highest concentrations are found in sparkling wines such as Champagne.  Carbon dioxide may not only make a wine taste lively but it may be protective, allowing for a reduction in sulphur dioxide.

Both of the wines featured in this post have noticeable levels of carbon dioxide.  I would characterize the Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup as more-than-lively with the Domaine Saint-Damien showing even higher concentration with its definite prickly feel. For both wines it works out well.  The Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup shows fresh texture which matches the red grapefruit flavors.  The Domaine Saint-Damien eventually fleshed out such that the generous, deep flavors are a match for the prickles.  Both of these wines drank well for several days after opening.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2007 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $15
Imported by Weygandt/Metzler.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Carignan, and 5% Mourvedre which was fermented then aged for eight months in concrete vats.  The wine is overtly prickly at first then as the flavors fill out over the days it becomes integrated.  The wine is finally softening up with some bottle flavors, dark red and blue fruits, along with incense in a gravelly package.  The acidity comes out on the sides of the tongue as the flavors continue to morph in the mouth.  With air there is a lot of flavors with depth as the wine shows good integration in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2019.

2010 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Coteaux Languedoc Pic St. Loup – $15
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault sourced from 30-40 year old vines.  Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts. It was aged for 12 months in foudres and barriques.  This wine is a light to medium color.  The light+ nose reveals fresh aromas and pepper.  In the mouth it is more than lively or lightly prickly with flavors of red grapefruit and grapey red fruit.  This light to medium bodied wine seems to be the lightest of the recent vintages.  An old perfume note haunts through the finish where young, citric tannins coat the lips, the acidity plays, and some spices come out.  *** Now-2015.

2009 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Vineyard, Image by Ermitage du Pic St. Loup

MacArthurs has carried several vintages of Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup this year.  It was only this summer that we first drank the 2008.  The 2008 had fruit which tilted towards Kirsch and citrus spectrum whereas the 2009 is firmly rooted in red, cherry fruit. This wine is imported by Kermit Lynch it is available for $15.  It is a good buy to cellar for the short-term.

2009 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Pic Saint Loup
This wine reveals youthful red fruit, cherries, watering acidity and fine, firm tannins that coat the inner lips.  After a few hours the core of red fruit flavors bring on initial notes of tea and some coffee aspect to the tannins.  Though it is balanced and easy to drink, it is slow to give up its flavors, so I would cellar this for one to two years before drinking. **(*) 2014-2017.

2008’s from Domaine Leon Barral and Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup

August 13, 2011 1 comment

In two earlier posts I reviewed 2007 vintage selections from Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup and Domaine Leon Barral.  When the 2008 selections became available at MacArthur’s I eagerly grabbed some bottles to try out.  I bought the current vintage of Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup for $15  (previous post here) and the Domaine Leon Barral for $25 (previous post about Valiniere here). 

Vineyard In Faugeres, Image by Christian363 (Flickr)

My impression of the 2008 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup is that it is a less complex version of the 2007.  It is worth the price but grab the 2007 if you see it.  Anyone else agree?  The 2008 Domaine Leon Barral represents the base cuvee.  This was an enjoyable, interesting wine that contains that wild character I wish the 2008 Ermitage had.  I cannot wait to try Barral’s 2008 Jadis and Valiniere!  I would love to receive comments from anyone who has drunk older vintages.  I continue to enjoy both of these producers and recommend that you try their wines as well.

2008 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Tour de Pierres, Pic Saint Loup
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre from 30-40 year old vines.  The wine was aged for 12 months.  This wine has a clean nose of Kirsch and pink grapefruit.  In the mouth there are fresh flavors of raspberry and tart red fruit. There are notes of pepper. The very fine tannins that cause your mouth to pucker in the aftertaste.

2008 Domaine Leon Barral, Faugeres
This wine is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault from whole clusters that were vinified and matured in tank.  This wine started off with a “grassy” nose according to Jenn.  With air the nose became aromatic with raspberries mixed with concentrated rustic berry notes.  There were ample flavors of red fruits to start followed by pure blue fruits that added to the mix.  This was quite interesting in the mouth with its wild character and pure, grapey tannins.  I would give this a year to settle down.