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A blind tasting of 2014 Bordeaux

Several weeks ago I was a guest of Phil’s tasting group for a blind event featuring featuring seven wines.  I will admit to being confused.  I thought some wines from Bolgheri, others certainly from Bordeaux, and I was sure one was Barbera! Six of the wines were Bordeaux and what I thought was Barbera turned out to be from California.  All wines were from the 2014 vintage which I did not guess.

When we sat down to taste the wines they had the corks removed just one hour prior.  The naturally forward wines showed the best but the subsequently decanted Pichon Baron improved greatly.  In all fairness, I heard that the Clinet improved greatly after three days.  If in doubt hold on to your 2014s!

My favorites include the 2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, undoubtedly the best value of all wines tasted but also my type of wine, and even the forward 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan.  The best wine for long-term development is the 2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac.  There are interesting flavors here but the balance and stuffing will see it evolve into something quite engaging.

Please find my notes below in the order the wines were tasted.  If my ratings seem conservative just remember these wines are young!  Many thanks to Phil for including me.

2014 Chateau La Gaffeliere, Saint- Emillion – $55
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%. Still young in color with dark aromas of mulberries. In the mouth black fruit, cherries, and good acidity are still structured. The fresh finish brings powerful tannins. With air the fruit takes on a cool aspect but is sappy and chewy with a graphite note. Will certainly improve with age.  ***(*) 2020-2035.

2014 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac – $99
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.   This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot.  Alcohol 13.5%. The nose remained tighter. An almost puckering start with wood flavors and a tart finish on the tongue. The tannins are fairly unresolved grabbing the gums but there is an interesting blend of fruit and flavors. After decanting the fruit balanced out the structure revealing good harmony and flavor.  **** 2023-2038.

2014 Chateau Giscours, Margaux – $59
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon. 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.5%. Tight, somewhat aromatic but unevolved. In the mouth are focused and tight flavors of black fruit. The wine is fresh but also very young with structure and acidity reminiscent of Bordeaux. It takes on hints of fat in the finish, some greenhouse, and is clearly built to age. ***(*) 2023-2035.

2014 Chateau Les Carmes de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan – $65
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This is a blend of 54 % Cabernet Franc, 32 % Merlot, and 14 % Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%. A little more on the nose perhaps some meat. There is more immediate fruit weight compared to structure. This is a dense wine with gum coating, rather than drying, tannins. The watering acidity is integrated with the structure. This wine is young but in balance with a hint of fruit in the end along with baking spices. **** Now – 2028.

2014 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate – $54
This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvingon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Monte Bello Vineyard. Alcohol 13.7%. A good nose of black fruit and violets but the aromas are almost raisinated. There is a riper core of dark and ripe fruit, quite the structure but the brambly fruit perseveres. It has a soft edge and notes of sweet oak. Reminded me of Barbera!  *** Now – 2026.

2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan – $75
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 14%. There is depth to the nose. In the mouth, ripe fruit, black and violet, exists in a structure but there is more good fruit to the balance. It is a good modern wine, will be ready sooner, with nice weight that marks the structure as supportive. It opens up well, is the most forward, and even offers a mineral finish. **** Now – 2030.

2014 Chateau Clinet, Pomerol – $69
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.5%. This is a finely flavored wine, cool in flavor, structured, and focused. It did not give up much. *** 2021- 2031.

My favorite wines of 2016

December 31, 2016 Leave a comment

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It has been a busy year.  Not with wine drinking but with work, family, and the house.  I certainly spent a lot of time researching about the history of wine but this year my strong efforts in exploration produced less results.  As a result I published less historic pieces.  Still, it was a good year in all sense.  As for wine, what is memorable easily falls into five groups old Burgundy, old Chateauneuf du Pape, old Californian wine, old Bordeaux, and very old Madeira.

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Old Burgundy was consumed in the form of 1964 J. Mommessin, Clos de Tart and 1961 Drouhin, Domaine General Marey-Monge, Romanee St-Vivant.  I find these old bottles particularly hardy with sweet, old concentrated flavors that never fade.

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Chateauneuf du Pape was off to a roaring start thanks to a friend who not only opened 2003 Chateau Rayas, Reserve, Chateauneuf du Pape but also 2003 Henri Bonneau, Cuvee Marie-Beurrier, Chateauneuf du Pape.  The Rayas already exhibits “breath-taking complexity” whereas the Bonneau is structured for age.  At the mature end, a beautiful bottle of 1964 Domaine de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape proved the longevity of this type of wine.  This is the first vintage in which Jacques Perrin employed his vinification a chaud technique where he heated the grapes.  There were some mediocre vintages in the 1950s and early 1960s so it is possible Jacques Perrin was ready to use this new technique regardless of the quality of the 1964 vintage.  From the same vintage, though not quite the same level of experience, the 1964 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Les Cedres, Chateauneuf du Pape really highlights how negociants and growers successfully worked together.  I am also thrilled to have tasted an original release Mont-Redon, whose wines from the 1950s and 1960s have been widely praised.  With round, mouth filling sweet strawberries, the 1969 Domaine de Mont-Redon, Chateauneuf du Pape is drinking perfect right now.

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The 1978 Diamond Creek, Cabernet Sauvignon, Volcanic Hill, Napa Valley expresses many of the traits I like in a mature American wine: dark fruit, earth, grip, and some of the concentration from age that just makes you want to drink the wine rather than figure out how to describe it.  There is quite a reputation for this wine so I am glad it lives up to it.  The biggest Californian surprise of the year is the 1969 J. Pedroncelli, Pinot Noir, Private Stock, Sonoma County which has no written reputation that I could find.  This is Pinot Noir with a hefty dose of Zinfandel, that together provide a vibrant and taut wine with fruit, leather, and animale notes.  I must, of course, include Eric’s big bottle of 1875 Isaias W. Hellman, Angelica Wine, Cucamonga Vineyard, San Bernadino County.  I will write about this wine in a separate post but to provide some context for this exceedingly rare 19th century Californian wine, there were only 37 stars on the America flag when the grapes were harvested.

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For some reason I did not get around to opening any wines from the 1966 vintage this year.  Still, I did not miss the 50th anniversary of the vintage for the 1966 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien proved to be an excellent representative.  From the sweaty nose to the cranberries and red fruit this wine is nothing but fun.  Also pleasurable, particularly for the mouth feel, is the 1979 Chateau l’Evangile, Pomerol.  In fact, Lou and I managed to drink this twice.  It is round, weighty, and injected with fat.  Great stuff!  I also managed to taste two bottles of 1962 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac.  The first bottle, with the highest fill, was the best being very aromatic with beef and blood.  The second bottle had a much lower fill so I opened it up an experiment.  It was simply a more compact representation, attesting to the staying power of Lafite.

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As for very old Madeira, I was fortunate to taste 20 pre-Phylloxera bottles this spring.  If I simply pruned out the fake(s), off bottles, and ones that are not so good I could probably list 10 more wines.  But my favorites can be narrowed to include the 1875 Blandy’s Grabham’s Sercial1864 Henriques & Henriques Sercial, 1808 Braheem Kassab (BAK) “SS”Sercial, and NV Henriques & Henriques Reserva “H.H.” Sercial.  For me, these wines balance the high acidity natural to Sercial with some sweetness.  They offer a diverse range of styles from tobacco and cedar wood to pungent, sweaty aromas and even smoke with minerals.  An empty glass of Madeira will still smell great the next morning.  A few errant drops on your skin will perfume yourself.

Mature wines from California and Bordeaux

September 22, 2016 2 comments

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Lou and I gathered last night to taste through five different bottles of mature Bordeaux and California wine.  Three of the wines turned out to be of interest.  The 1974 Louis Martini, California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon falls into that category of mature, yet very stable, classic California profile.  It still has fruit, body, and some supporting structure.  It will not knock you over but it is a good drink from a great vintage.  The 1980 Beaulieu Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley moves into the modern spectrum.  This is also from a strong vintage which is reflected in the dark color and youthful robustness.  If the Martini is mature, old-style Cali then the Beaulieu is clean, robust, and modern.  Well-stored bottles will drink well for many years.  The final bottle we opened turned out, as I hoped, to be the best.  The first indicator of the potential for our bottle of 1979 Chateau l’Evangile, Pomerol was the long, legibly branded, clean cork.  After tasting the wine I soon became fixated on the texture and the flavor.  This round and weighty wine is infused with fat yet balanced by lively acidity.  The mouthfeel is gorgeous.  If you move beyond texture there is ripe fruit to be relished too.  Lou likened this wine to old Burgundy which Robert Parker echoed years ago with a specific Chambolle-Musigny descriptor.  It is a beautiful wine of which I made sure none of my share was left over by the time I went to bed.

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1974 Louis Martini, California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol 12.2%.  Very top-shoulder, bottom neck fill.  There is a sweet cedar/old wood nose that still retains that vintage Cali signature.  The slightly round, red fruit has some body and modest grip.  The middle is almost minty fresh followed by a slightly short finish.  This gentle wine mixed old-style flavor with vintage perfume and modest aftertaste.  The nose fades a bit with air but remains surprisingly stable in the mouth.  *** Now but will last.

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1980 Beaulieu Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.5%. Bottom-neck fill.  This has a relatively deep garnet color.  In the mouth are clean fruit, spices, and weighty citrus.  The fruit becomes sweeter in the finish.  This is a youthful, robust wine with good acidity, and ripe structure.  A good, clean wine.  *** Now – 2021.

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1970 Chateau La Gay, Pomerol
Mid-shoulder fill.  This is a simpler wine with tangy red fruit, livey acidity, and citric tannins on the gum.  The finish is dry and mineral, leaving tannins on the gums.  Definitely mature but still sports an ethereal sweet red and citric fruit in the aftertaste.  Unfortunately, this is marred by a musky, dirty note.  The cork smells musky too.  Robert Parker writes that until 1982, the ancient barrels used to store the wine shared space with chickens and ducks.  Hmmm.  * Now.

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1978 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien
Imported by Chateau & Estates Wine Company. Top-shoulder fill. It turns out the cork was floating in the wine.  Lou took one sip, spit it out then dumped the bottle.  Not Rated.

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1979 Chateau l’Evangile, Pomerol
Shipped by Beylot & Co.  Imported by Majestic Wine and Spirits Inc.  Alcohol 12%.  Very top shoulder fill.  This is a round and weighty wine with subtle, dense hints of glycerin.  The sweet and coating flavors quickly show good mineral structure.  What is glycerin turns to be seductive fat which does not slow the wine down for there is lively acidity.  It is quite lifted in the end.  **** Now.

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A few mature French wines

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

I was to bring a bottle of 1982 Chateau Calon-Segur, St Estephe over to Lou’s house. The first was, perhaps, drinkable to some extent.  It was not by the time I arrived at Lou’s house.  The second bottle bore absolutely no relationship to wine so down the drain it went.  Both of these bottles were quite cheap, due to their mid-shoulder fill, proving they were dangerously low fills for a wine of such young age.

We kicked things off with a bottle of 1995 Michel Colin-Deleger, Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Charmois from the Earthquake Cellar.  It smelled of the sea with rather mature flavors in the mouth which were delivered with a freshness owing to good storage.  We soon moved on to the pair of Bordeaux selected by Lou.  The fill of the 1983 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac was in the upper shoulder.  While not ideal it was still worth the gamble.  You could see from the color and the smell of roast earth on the nose that it was not the freshest bottle.  It did clean up after several hours of air proving to be a solid, mature Bordeaux of no particular distinction.  This is due to storage and not the chateau.  There was no mistaking the deeper and more pigmented color of the 1979 Chateau L’Evangile, Pomerol as it was poured.  This was reflected in the deep nose and lively fruit in the mouth.  It was the wine Lou and I kept drinking that evening.  It was perfect stuff, really.  I kept drinking it until my daughter kept texting me to return home so that I could read to her before bed.  We were all happy that evening.

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1995 Michel Colin-Deleger, Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Charmois
Imported by Chateau and Estates.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The lovely golden color makes way to a surprisingly aromatic nose which is evocative of the sea.  The white and yellow fruit is mature with a linear style of delivery.  The wine itself took on some density.  I suspect it was never that complex for it is the attractive mouthfeel that I remember most.  ** Now.

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1983 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac
Upper should fill.  The nose reveals a little roast, noticeably more advanced than it should be, eventually taking on smoky, menthol aromas.  In the mouth the wine does expand a bit after several hours of air.  There is red fruit flavors, salivating and not quite tart acidity with lively, grippy tannins.  Though this bottle is not generous and the finish is a little short, I cannot think of anyone who would refuse to knock back a glass.  ** Now.

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1979 Chateau L’Evangile, Pomerol
Shipped by Beylot.  Imported by Majestic Wine and Spirits.  Alcohol 12%.  Top shoulder fill.  There is a soft, start of red fruit, a minerally middle, expansive finish, and persistent aftertaste.  The wine is quite lively with salivating, almost sappy acidity.  There is still good fruit that is slightly tart and mixes quite well with the old wood notes.  It is even a little racy at the end.  **** Now but will last.

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Christmas Claret with Lou

December 23, 2013 2 comments

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This past weekend we gathered at Lou’s house for what is meant to be an annual Christmas tasting…with dinner.  We had decided on Bordeaux ahead of time but in the hours preceding we focused in on the 1983 and 1989 vintages.  The red wines were double-decanted such that they had two hours of air prior to tasting.  We began with charcuterie, an old family crab dish, and a bottle of NV Duval-Leroy, Brut.  Lou and I agreed that it nicely revealed bottle age which made it quite integrated and with subdued bubbles, very easy to drink.  I am not entirely sure what the 2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit is made out of. Apparently Pinot Blanc.  Regardless this self-professed “natural wine” was aromatic and very complex on the nose.  The balance of acidity and skin-contact flavors was quite attractive.

We moved down to the cellar to taste through the red wines.  The 1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien was purchased over 7 years ago from MacArthur Beverages.  This was opened as a curiosity and surprisingly, the nose was quite deep and earthy.  Most people liked this bottle.  The nose was its strong point for the flavors came up a bit short.  For me the 1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc had a nose strong in old-school perfume but the flavors remained firm.  It should continued to live for some time but I do not see it improving.  The 1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien was a perfect example of mature Bordeaux with a fill at the bottom of the neck.  From the beginning the nose was aromatic and deep.  In the mouth were fresh fruit, good acidity, and expansive flavors.  Completely mature but  in no way past its prime.  The 1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol was quite good by the end of the evening when it opened to show black fruit and minerals.  I wonder if it could develop further.  Unfortunately the 1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc was a somewhat flawed bottle.  If you got beyond the musty nose there were veiled flavors of good fruit.  Normal bottles must actually be quite good.

Right before leaving I had a quick glass of 2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes from half bottle.  Lou had picked this up during one of his trips to the UK.  The wine is produced by Chateau Suduiraut using estate fruit.  I thought it already showed an attractive maturity which made it a satisfying drink.

NV Duval-Leroy, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Duval-Leroy Importers.  This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose revealed biscuit, dark yellow fruit, and some toast.  There were good, frothy bubbles at first which quickly dissipated.  The flavors were fresh before the wine became still.  It tasted as if it had some bottle age.  There were dried herbs and toast in the finish.  There was acidity at first then it returned in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2016.

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2009 Strohmeier, Weisswein aus Trauben, Liebe und Zeit
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine was slightly cloudy with a light golden yellow color.  The nose was very aromatic with Christmas spices, clove, orange peeling, mulling spices, and floral notes.  In the mouth the crisp acidity was immediately noticeable follow by weight from skin contact.  The wine then became light in flavor with laser acidity and focus to the flavors.  Really nice wine.  **** Now-2016.

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1989 Chateau Lalande-Borie, Saint-Julien
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The light was was quite inviting with earthy aromas of blue and red berries.  In the mouth there was good acidity to the black and red fruit then a slightly firm middle followed by a wood note.  The finish was shorter in flavor.  The acidity was present throughout.  The nose was the best part *** at first but overall ** Now-2018.

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1983 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-13%.  The nose consistently revealed old-school perfume, it did not give up much fruit.  In the mouth the wine was firmer in flavor with black fruit, prominent acidity, and the sense that this will be long-lived.  ** Now-2024.

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1983 Chateau Gloria, Saint-Julien
Imported by N & T Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There was a good nose with light to medium strength aromas of deep berries and roasted meat.  In the mouth were tangy berry flavors at first then fresher fruit.  The flavors were gently mouth filling and balanced by good, lively acidity.  It became higher-toned with powdery fruit.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2018.

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1989 Chateau l’Enclos, Pomerol
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co.  This wine is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a low-lying, serious nose.  In the mouth the black fruit tasted fresh and dense.  There was a tangy middle with a cedar note developing by the finish.  It had minerals, good complexity, and was developing well.  With air there was a gentle cedar note, soft finish, and both minerals and a fresh touch of earth in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2020.

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1989 Chateau Cantermerle, Haut-Medoc
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was affected by some TCA and was musty but there was fruit underneath.  In the mouth were muted but dense black and red fruit with good acidity and mouthfeel.  It tasted unevolved, muted, and unfortunately a little rough in the finish.  Completely drinkable.  ** Now-2023.

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2006 Waitrose (Chateau Suduiraut), Sauternes
This wine is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc which was aged for 16 months in 10% new and 90% used oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  No formal note but a nice wine, tasting mature already with thickness and spices.  Why wait?  *** Now-2018.

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The Best of Virginia (and Maryland Too)

November 21, 2012 3 comments

Weygandt Wines

This past weekend Lou and I attended a Best of Virginia tasting organized by Robert Ford and hosted by Weygandt Wines.  I came in late to the organization so I thought it best to let Rob describe the origins of the tasting.

Inspiration for the Tasting

About three years ago my Fiancee Megan and I were eating breakfast on a lazy sunday morning, wondering what to do with our day. At this point we were surprisingly novice wine geeks, early in the stages of tasting anything and everything to develop context for our palates. We did however, through our tasting, seem know what we enjoyed and were respectable in judging quality. We had heard about Virginia wine country and had nothing better to do, so after a bit of internet research we hopped on I-66W and headed west. It seemed that in Northern Virginia (if not Virginia as a whole) Linden had been the forerunner in quality and vision when it came to virginia wine. I still remember arriving on our first visit. The GPS had taken us on wild ride, traversing several miles of unpaved roads to reach the Linden sign. From our first sip of the day, it was clear the wines were special. They had balance, authentic fruit, direction, freshness, and evolution on the palate. The care used to craft the wine was palpable. They embodied the qualities we had come to look for in a wine.

We are now full on wine geeks, but as any other wine geek knows, the more you learn and taste, the more there is to learn and taste. And while virginia has settled into a limited role in our wine drinking, it remains an important one. When we open a Linden wine we find ourselves comparing it to chardonnays and bordeaux blends from around the world, remarking how well they would likely compete in a global context. Therefore we always had the idea of a blind tasting, pitting the Linden and other best of Virginia, against equal competition from more established wine regions. And after a long period of idle contemplation, seemingly like usual, everything simply fell into place. It started with a thread on Wineberserkers regarding RdV Vineyards, and morphed into a “what if” tasting idea. As I was going to be in DC over the weekend, inspiration struck, and I began to organize the Best of VA vs World tasting. Interest was a bit slow over the first day, but quickly it appeared the tasting would be rather large and comprehensive. It was one of those events that was meant to happen, as everything simply fell into place. Many participants were available on the proposed date, we were easily able to use Weygandt Wines as a fantastic tasting space, and everyone seemingly had excess wine to contribute. By Friday morning we had more interest than we could accommodate, and had put together a surprisingly large and complete line up of wines. The stage was set … how would Virginia fare?

-Robert Ford

Bagged and Numbered

The Virginian wines were known ahead of time to the participants with the ringers only known to Rob and those who brought them.  The wines were brown-bagged and served in four flights: Whites, Mature Reds, Young Cabernet Franc or Merlot dominated reds, and Young Cabernet Sauvignon dominated reds.  All of the wines were opened just prior to tasting except for #17 RdV, Rondevous which was decanted one hour ahead and the #25 Yannick Amirault which was opened one hour ahead.  Tasting sheets were provided and we were asked to rate the wines so that group results could be tallied.  After tasting through all of the wines they were revealed.

Many thanks to Jim Law of Linden Vineyards who opened his cellar so that Rob could purchase the 1997 Reserve Red, to Jon Gonzales of RdV Vineyards who brought the 2009 Rendesvous and Lost Mountain, to Ed Boyce of Black Ankle Vineyards who provided the 2007 Crumbling Rock, and Michelle Gueydan of Early Mountain Vineyards who brought the 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay along with a few ringers.  Also to everyone’s generosity for bringing so many wines and to Warren, Sarah, and Weygandt Wines for allowing us to take over part of the store.

Rob In Action

RESULTS

Rob tallied up the results from eight participants.  In some cases a wine received only seven scores but in most cases it was eight.  Of the 33 wines tasted 16 were from Virginia, 8 from France, 2 from California, 2 from Maryland, 1 from Washington, 1 from Italy, 1 from Malta, 1 from New Zealand, and 1 from South Africa.  In this section I have listed the top three wines from each flight.  For the remaining average scores you will find them in my tasting notes.

One cannot draw serious conclusions from such a tasting but I can point out the generally strong breadth of the Linden wines, the seriousness of RdV, and the strengths of Black Ankle.  When I hear about local wine it seems to be in the context of Virginia but hopefully after this tasting a few more people will cross the Potomac River to Maryland.  I am also curious to try other selections from King Family Vineyards and Pearmund.

Flight 1 – Whites
1. 2008 Linden, Chardonnay, Avenius Vineyard (86.88)
2. 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, South Africa (86.38)
3. 2011 Ankita Ridge, Chardonnay (85.13)

Flight 2 – Mature Reds
1. 1997 Linden, Reserve Red (89.13)
2. 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot (87.13)
3. 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity (86.25)

Flight 3 – Young Reds (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominant Blends)
1. 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot (89.00)
2. Tied: 2009 RdV, Rendezvous and 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock (87.38)

Flight 4 – Young Reds (Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant Blends)
1. 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon (87.29)
2. 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon (86.86)
3. 2009 Barboursville, Octagon (85.43)

TASTING NOTES

It took steady effort to taste through all of the wines in the time alloted.  As the time advanced past the normal closing time there was a bit of a dash to finish off the tasting.  My notes capture the wines during a brief few minutes so bear that in mind.  Normally I would not rate wines during such a tasting but as part of the group exercise and general fun of it, I did.  At the end of each note you will find the average group score in parenthesis.

FLIGHT 1 – WHITE WINES

David and Rob

I thought the white wines from Virginia showed very well.  While several of the wines had obvious barrel notes, my two favorites the 2010 Pearmund showed good integration along with fruit, weight, and acidity and the 2008 Linden showed lively fruit with an attractive gravelly quality.  Wines like these make me think a Virginia white wine tasting should be in order.

1 – 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a two acre vineyard at 1,800 feet. It was fermented in 100% neutral French oak barrels of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for nine months on the lees.  The light to medium nose was textured with barrel roast notes.  The barrel note continues in the mouth with rich, slightly perfumed fruit,a bit of weight in the finish.  There were some tart apple flavors and acidity. (85.13)  ** Now.

2 – 2009 Linden, Chardonnay Hardscrabble
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 15-25 year old vines in the Hardscrabble Vineyard. The free run juice was fermented with both cultured and indigenous yeasts, some barrels underwent maolactic fermentation, followed by 10 months of aging on the lees in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  The light fruit nose had some barrel notes along with heavier, yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth there was crisper fruit to start  then tropical fruit which mixed with barrel flavors, some apple, and Christmas spice.  The aftertaste was a little coarse and shorter compared to #1.  (84.57) ** Now-2013.

3 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vine Chardonnay, Meriwether Vineyard
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 25+ year old vines. It under went 100% malolactic fermentation then was aged for eight months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was light yellow.  The light+ nose revealed heavier yellow fruit, better integration of the barrels notes, and fine texture.  In the mouth there was sweet tropical fruit which was delivered with an initial burst of acidity.  Then old perfume, good weight, and a core of ripe fruit.  There was ripe fruit and spices in the finish and a good aftertaste. (84.50)  **(*) Now-2017.

4 – 2008 Linden, Chardonnay Avenius
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Avenius Vineyard planted in 1996 at 1,300 feet. It was barrel fermented in older French oak, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, and was aged on the less for 10 months. Alcohol 13.7%.  The color was a very light yellow.  The nose bore ripe, concentrated yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were lively on the tongue with integrated acidity, followed by gravelly white, ripe fruit.  There was an ethereal quality to the aftertaste.  (86.88) **(*) Now-2015.

5 – 2009 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Vaillons, Chablis 1er Cru
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from both young and old vines.  The color was light yellow.  The light to medium nose offered up perfumed, white and yellow fruit with a hint of something.  In the mouth there were flavors of bread at first followed by a hollow, citric finish, and a barely detectable hint of foxy flavors in the aftertaste. (83.00)  * Now.

6 – 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, Western Cape
Imported by Worthwhile Wine Company. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged for ten months in Burgundian oak barrels. 13.5% Alcohol.  The color was light yellow.  There was a light+ ripe, yellow nose. In them mouth there were lively white, heavy fruit which was acidity driven.  There was a good mouthfeel, fine stoney, texture, and a drying finish with tart citrus flavors. (86.38) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 2 – MATURE RED WINES

The Author and Lou

This was a somewhat disjointed flight in terms of the wines tasted but it did reveal a complete 1997 Linden, Reserve Red.  I am glad that Rob was able to work with Jim Law on this selection.  It is drinking very well right now.  I did not guess it was from Virginia for I thought the 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut was!

7 – 1994 Roccadoro, Chianti Classico
Imported by Winebow. This. Alcohol 12%.  The color was light-medium tawny, showing extreme age.  The nose was over the hill with thin, delicate berry fruit in the mouth. (Flawed)  Flawed.

8 – 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut, St. Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+ year old vines. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium garnet-cherry.  In the mouth there were cedar box flavors, a touch of menthol, then cherry and raspberry.  There was a core of racy red fruit then blue flavors but then it completely thinned out. (82.00)  * Now.

9 – 1997 Linden, Reserve Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 11% Merlot. Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  The light nose was followed by focused, black and red fruit in the mouth.  There was black fruit acidity,with mature flavors in the finish.  A complete little wine. (89.13)  ** Now.

10 – 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was light with mature red fruit.  In the mouth there were brighter red fruit, texture, plenty of acidity, and a little powdery red candy. (86.25)  * Now.

11 – 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 50 year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged 12-24 months in new oak barrels.  The color was a medium ruby.  The nose offered up cedar and vanilla.  In the mouth there was finely textured black cherry fruit, a little menthol, spicy finish, and a lifted, incensed aftertaste. (87.13) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 3 – YOUNG REDS (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominated Blends)

The King Family Vineyard and Chateau Joanin Becot were the standouts for me in this flight.  I do not if it is a pure varietal or blend but it was attractive all around without a hint of underripe fruit.  The 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rocks had pebbly texture and the 2008 RdV, Rendezvous while tight, had an interesting earthy flavor which was new to me in my Virginian wine experience.  Both of these wines deserve revisiting.

12 – 2009 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium purple ruby.  The medium strength nose was of black fruit and low-lying vanilla aromas.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had black and red fruit, expansive flavors as the wine progressed, and a touch of greenhouse towards the finish.  The tart red fruit had plenty of tannins which coated the lips and teeth along with a certain perfumed flavor.  Upon revisiting it was a bit loose. (87.38)  ** Now-2017.

13 – 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot which was aged for 16 months in 75% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet-ruby.  The light to medium strength nose was initially mature with a bit of wood box. In the mouth there were tangy red fruit, acidity, then fine, pebbly texture.  The fruit became tart, citric red and drier towards the finish.  There was textured aftertaste to this complete wine.  A touch up from #12.  Upon revisiting this showed good weight. (87.38) ** Now-2015.

14 – Linden, Boisseau Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 22% Petit Verdot sourced from the Boisseau Vineyard planted in 2000 at 600 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 20 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. Alcohol 14.4%.  The color was a medium ruby with hints of grape.  The medium strength nose was fruit driven.  The wine tasted young and confident with bright, tart red and blue fruit, citric tannins, and acidity on the tip and sides of the tongue.  It was a bit expansive in the aftertaste but was less integrated than #13. (85.29) ** Now-2015.

15 – 2006 Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol
Imported by R&R Marketing LLC. This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35 year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium ruby.  The light nose was a touch mature with almost gravelly red fruit.  In the mouth there was more concentrated, attractive black and red fruit with acidity.  Then plenty of fine wood tannins, which were a touch spicy, came out.  Actually there were lots of powerful tannins. (85.86) ** 2015-2019.

16 – 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot, Cotes de Castillon
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium garnet-ruby.  The light nose was of high-toned red and some black fruit.  In the mouth there were tangy, citric red fruit, very fine, drying tannins, and better integration.  Quite young but nice. (89.00)  **(*) 2017-2022.

17 – 2008 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium+ grapey ruby.  The light nose revealed nice fruit, red and black berries.  In the mouth the fruit was slightly earthy, which was interesting, but was not giving up much.  This young wine had drying, ripe tannins.  Upon revisiting it showed better concentration, along with tannins, than the 2009. (84.14) ** 2014-2018.

18 – 2010 King Family Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Monticello
The color was a light, grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting and concentrated.  In the mouth there was lots of flavor and  delicacy to the riper red fruit.  It was perfumed and showed attractive integration. (85.14)  *** Now-2014.

19 – 2011 Clos Roche Blanche, Cuvee Pif, Touraine
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cot. Alcohol 12%.  It was a light to medium purple ruby color.  The light to medium nose smell like a European Cabernet Franc dominated wine.  The mouth followed the nose with powdery, red candy fruit, drier flavors, and a little orange citrus.  It firmed up a touch in the finish as tannins were left on the lips. (83.00) ** Now-2015.

20 – 2007 Pearmund, Ameritage
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  The color was light to medium garnet.  The light nose revealed raspberry candy and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe and sweeter red fruit which turned into black fruit.  There was a little weight, candy notes, along with minimal, spicy tannins which were integrated. (82.57)  * Now.

21 – 2009 Barboursville, Cabernet Franc, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, from five different clones, which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 14 months in new and used French oak barriques. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was scented with greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe, sweet, black and red fruit.  It was rather sweet, the ripe tannins, some head in the finish, and less integration than #20. (82.14) * Now.

22 – 2009 Chateau de la Bonneliere, Les Cornelles, Chinon
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was light to medium grapey ruby.  The light nose smelled thinner, like wet Cabernet Franc, and salt water.  In the mouth the light fruit sat in a structure with flavors of old vintage perfume, and tangy red citrus in the finish.  There were fine+ tannins, a touch spicy, as flavors thinned out. Better than #21 and #22. (83.00) * Now.

23 – 2007 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 34% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvingon, 22% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The light to medium strength nose was of higher-toned, mixed berries.  In the mouth the mixed fruit was concentrated with some sweetness, good integrated then a touch of heat in the finish, and a lifted aftertaste.  Upon revisiting this showed enjoyable ripe fruit.  (84.43)  ** Now-2016.

24 – 2008 Puriri Hills, Pope, Clevedon
Imported by Nice Legs LLC. This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and 16% Carmenere. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light+ nose revealed finely scented berries along with a greenhouse/pine aromas.  In the mouth the black and red fruit initially mixed with acidity then remained lively throughout.  There were almost juicy black fruit with a tannins structure for aging. (85.43)  * Now-2015.

25 – 2009 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This is 100% Cabernet Franc fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 12 months in tonneaux. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby-garnet.  The light nose revealed overly ripe fruit and some stink.  In the mouth the black and red fruit felt clumsy and flavor with a line of very drying, fine wood tannins.  Below #24 by a touch.  (80.67) * Now.

FLIGHT 4 – YOUNG REDS ( Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated Blends)

Brett and Alyssa

The tasting speeded up during this last flight.  The Cliff Ledge was my favorite followed by the Gramercy Cellars, which in this case, suffered from lack of decanting.  Of the Virginian wines the Linden, Hardscrabble was the most interesting followed by the Glen Manor.

26 – 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light nose was finely textured but played it close.  In the mouth there was focused, tangy black fruit which was integrated with acidity and ripe tannins.  The flavors became riper towards the finish where there was a little warmth.  Upon revisiting this showed fine, dense flavors. (87.29) ** Now-2015.

27 – 2009 RdV, Lost Mountain
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of ripe, sweet dark fruit.  In the mouth there was riper black fruit and watering acidity before it thinned out a bit.  The finish firmed up with dry tannins. (83.29) ** Now-2015.

28 – 2008 Glen Manor, Hodder Hill
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The light nose had a bit of roasted red fruit.  In the mouth there was very tart, acidic red fruit, with a tannic structure.  There was watering acidity and a little rough finish.  Upon revisiting this showed citric, red fruit. (84.67) ** Now-2016.

29 – 2009 Barboursville, Octagon
This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12-14 months in new French oak Gamba barriques. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  The light nose revealed tamales and red fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tighter with balanced black and red fruit, firm structure, and very fine tannins.  It is hard and needs time to unfold. (85.43)  *(*) 2015-2018.

30 – 2007 Linden, Hardscrabble
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 4% Carmenere sourced from vines planted between 1985 and 2006 at the Hardscrabble Vineyard at 1,300-1,400 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 18 months in used French and Hungarian oak barrels and puncheons. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting.  In the mouth the tangy fruit initially mixed with acidity then drier black and red fruit flavors developed.  It was a little gravelly with powdery, redder fruit towards the finish. (85.29) ** Now-2017.

31 – 2005 Melqart, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, Malta
Imported by First Vine. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot which was aged for five months in barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light with seaside aromas.  In the mouth, oh cr*p, no! (75.23)  Poor.

32 – 2009 Boxwood, Topiary
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 12 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was lifted with old perfume aromas.  In the mouth there was a little CO2 with interesting, stinky fruit.  It was a bit racy with lipstick, drier flavors in the finish, and a long greenhouse aftertaste. (82.00) * Now-2015.

33 – 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 17 months in 60% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The color was a medium+ garnet..  The light now was of good, pure red fruit.  In the mouth there was good mouthfeel, controlled ripeness, a little spice, and some firmness.  There was citric acidity. I would see what happens with age. (86.86) **(*) Now-2018.

Mostly Bordeaux Tasting at Lou’s

September 26, 2009 1 comment

Earlier in the winter a group of us gathered at Lou’s house to taste some of his Bordeaux. Lou couldn’t find his 1982 Ch. Potensac so he substituted the 1984 Pesquera instead. That turned out to be a lovely treat. All of the wines were decanted about 1-1.5 hours prior to the tasting. The four Pomerols were served as the first flight with the remaining four in the second flight. The 1982 Branaire and the 1984 Pesquera were my favorite of the evening.

Flight #1 – 1982 Pomerol

1982 Ch. Rouget, Pomerol
This wine contains 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc that spent 24-30 months in barrel. This showed a light, stink nose of some hay and green notes. This bottle had the most dried out fruit out of all of the wines served. It still contained a core of tannins.

1982 Ch. L’Enclos, Pomerol
This wine contains 80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec that spent 20 months in barrels and vats. A nose of dark fruit followed by dark fruit and minerals in the mouth. Holding together better than the Rouget.

1982 Ch. La Croix, Pomerol
This wine contains 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 20-24 months in barrel. The strongest nose of the first flight. Green but not menthol aromas. In the mouth there were berries, green fruit, that put on weight with air. A medium-strength aftertaste and a bit more acidity. To me the best of the first flight.

1982 Ch. De Sales, Pomerol
This wine contains 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 18-22 months in barrel. The lightest color of the first flight. An advanced browning color. Some cheesey funk on the nose. Somewhat sulphuric in the mouth, with hints of youthfulness but faded fast.

Flight #2 – The rest!

1982 Ch. Branaire (Duluc-Ducru), St. Julien
This wine contains 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot that spent 18-24 months in barrel. A light youthful nose of dark sugar, cinnamon, and leather aromas. In the mouth flavors of red fruit, black currant were delivered with good body and good tannins in the aftertaste. Easily the best of the 1982s.

1988 Ch. Meyney, St. Estephe
This wine contains 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in barrel. A light, young, tight nose. Rather tannic, greener, higher-pitched fruit than the 1986. The nose opened with air. The wine seemed to oscillate throughout the evening and at times was quite good. This was somewhat beguiling because the wine couldn’t decide to be present itself as young and shutdown or opening up to middle-age. I’d cellar this one longer to find out.

1986 Ch. Meyney, St. Estephe
This wine contains 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in barrel. A softer nose than the 1988 that left impression of dark berries and lemon. This was still fairly tannic and showed redder fruit in the aftertaste.

1984 Pesquera, Ribera del Duero
A unique, strong nose of red berries and cedar. With air ripe, red fruit come out to complete this well-balanced wine. A lovely treat, this drinks well now but will easily last. On the second night it was still going strong.

For dessert
2001 Rappahanock, Vidal Blanc, Virginia
A light color of amber. A nose of tart, bright, apricots. More apricots in the mouth. They were sweet and almost too cloying.