The 2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph will satisfy you on the second night for it is simple and closed on the first. It eventually reveals floral berries on the nose and an almost bracing start of red fruit and acidity. The structural components exist to support development over a few years at which point it should be an elegant, pure wine. It is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph – $27
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is 100% Syrah that was aged for 12 months in 10% new and 90% used oak. Alcohol 13%. The nose offers floral, aromas of tangy berries and cherries. In the mouth is an almost puckering start of red fruit and watering acidity. The wine has moderate weight with a supportive structure that comes out in the middle. It wraps up with a slightly smoky hint in the red and black fruited finish. ***(*) 2018 – 2025.
It is a treat to blindly taste through eight wines of quality which I was recently able to do at Andy’s house. One year ago Andy managed to stump us with a horizontal of 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape. This year he served up 2003 Northern Rhone. There was certainly confusion at first, particularly after the first several wines showed a level of ripe fruit concentration that had me thinking we were tasting Southern Rhone. Then the final wines shifted my impression up to the Northern Rhone. In retrospect it is the generous 2003 vintage that lead to this confusion and a surprise.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the 2003 Joel Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph. Though fruity, the flavors are not over ripe, the wine is lively, and backed by earth. It is certainly generous and enjoyable to drink as a result. Also from Saint-Joseph, the 2003 Yves Cuilleron, Serines, Saint-Joseph steps up the level of elegance. Made from old-vines which see new oak, the quality of the fruit shines through with great grip and bacon flavors! Finally, the most seductive wine of the night turned out to be the 2003 Guigal, Chateau d’Ampuis, Cote-Rotie. Fat, glycerin, even more fat surround coiled, black fruit flavors. You can now imagine why I stayed a bit later than I intended to simply drinking these wines.
1 – 2003 Eric et Joel Durand, Cornas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 14%. A medium garnet color with a mature and robust nose. In the mouth are racy, mouth filling flavors. This is a big wine with hints of alcohol. There are flavors of prune, baking spice, and a wood note but not much in the way of tannin. With air the sappy fruit takes on some fat and develops a longer finish. In a way this is young and taught. *** Now.
2 – 2003 Joel Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. Alcohol 13.5%. A similar dark colored core as #1. The nose is more expressive with mixed, dark fruits. The flavors show more concentration with a hint of earth and plenty of presence. It is a very good wine with ripe fruit, continued animale and earth notes, and an earthy aftertaste. Nice. **** Now – 2023.
3 – 2003 Alain Voge, Les Vieilles Vignes, Cornas
Imported by Adventures in Wine. Alcohol 13.5%. A little less garnet than the previous wines. This wine plays it close both on the nose and in the mouth. It has hints of rather mature, old-school flavor which is delicate with earthy and red berry aspects. The flavors become more black towards the finish where the subtle, structured finish brings out a wood note. *** Now.
4 – 2003 Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes, Les Roches, Saint-Joseph
A darker color makes way to wood box aromas, dark blue and red fruit, and good mature hints. In the mouth there is a younger, fruitier start, assertive tannins, and a bitter finish. There is good, tart flavor in the but ultimately taste more like a Southern Rhone. Or perhaps I should write, I pegged this as a Tardieu-Laurent wine. *** Now.
5 – 2003 Guigal, Brune & Blonde, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Ex Cellars. Alcohol 13%. Meaty flavors with a dose of tannins start off this thick, mouth filling wine. It is a little rough and simple with dark roast and rather fine and strong structure. More toast is apparent with air. *** Now – 2023.
6 – 2003 Yves Cuilleron, Serines, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Neal Rosenthal. Alcohol 13%. The floral, purple fruit aromas clearly speak of the Northern Rhone. In the mouth are cool, young fruit flavors on entry followed by a pervasive bacon flavor. It is a youthful wine with watery acidity, great grip, and accented by citrus flavor (but not citric acidity). This will continue to develop. **** Now – 2027.
7 – 2003 Rene Rostaing, Cote-Rotie
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. There is a light garnet color. The nose is weird, lactic and fishy with fish flavors in the mouth. One taster commented “sardine dine”. Not Rated.
8 – 2003 Guigal, Chateau d’Ampuis, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Ex Cellars. Alcohol 13%. Mmm, meat on the nose. This wine sports more body and glycerin then all of the previous wines. The black core of fruit is coated with fat, coiled and willing to unfurl in the middle with a bright lift. Did I mention the very seductive fat? **** Now – 2027.
I just tried, for the first time, the special 2013 Domaine Faury, La Gloriette, Saint-Joseph. Cuvee La Gloriette is the original old-vine Saint-Joseph cuvee of the Faury family. A traditional vinification in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts followed by oak aging results in a wine that entices you from the first sniff. To me this wine is all about a blend of fat covered red berries and stones. It drinks well after one to two hours of air but I suspect it will be even better next year. Produced from less than 1 hectare of vines there are only 400 cases of this wine available so be sure to snag some for your cellar or wine fridge while it is still available. You may find it at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 Domaine Faury, La Gloriette, Saint-Joseph – $35
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced largely from 40-60 year old vines on granite soils, fermented in concrete with indigenous yeasts then aged in oak. Alcohol 13%. The nose is engaging with aromas of fat draped red berries. There is a similar flavor in the mouth but more mineral. The flavors wind through the mouth becoming blacker and more stone infused until the end where some smoke comes out. The wine is in perfectly balanced and integrated at this point. ***(*) Now-2021.
I am pleased that Michael Teer introduced me to the wines of Domaine des Amphores. Founded by Veronique and Philippe Grenier in 1992, this estate has expanded over the years to produce a variety of wines from a variety of grapes. Of the four wines from Saint-Joseph three are red including my bottle of 2013 Domaine des Amphores, Cuvee 2013, Saint-Joseph. This is a finely made, grapey Saint-Joseph which should be cellared until next year. This wine is available at Pike and Western Wine Shop.
2013 Domaine des Amphores, Cuvee 2013, Saint-Joseph – $27
Imported by Barrique Imports. This wine is 100% Syrah fermented with indigenous yeasts in tank then aged for 12 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 12.5%. This is a grapey, tangy wine with a fine texture to the ripe berry flavor. The wine is still a bit firm from youth with very fine tannins and watering acidity. With air it takes on a white pepper note. *** 2017-2020.
The 2014 Domaine Faury, Vieilles Vignes, Saint Joseph is an enticing wine to drink after several hours of air. The core of dark fruit is salty, racy, speckled with stone notes, and coated with a bit of fat. It reacts to air in an understated manner which suggests it is best left to cellar for several more years. If you are tempted by curiosity then pick up a few bottles. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Domaine Faury, Vieilles Vignes, Saint Joseph – $35
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vines planted on granite soils between 1937 and 1976. The wine was aged for 15 months in oak demi-muids and barrels. Alcohol 13%. There is a core of clean, grapey purple and black fruit which takes on hints of cream before it becomes racy in the middle. With air the wine becomes salty and exhibits more attractive fat. The ripeness of the fruit gently builds as does a note of stones. **** Now – 2025.
Though the cork dropped in our bottle of 1970 Cheval Blanc, the NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut rocked!
Lou and I managed to squeeze in a quick tasting last week at his house. As I had never tried the NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut, Saar Lou opened up a bottle. Wow! Wow! Wow! This was such a lovely bottle so much so I saved none for the next day. It is a particularly satisfying sparkling wine which already tastes quite complex and mature. I see no reason to cellar this further. It is a stunning wine for the price. As Lou pointed out, you would not mistake it for Champagne but it is far more satisfying than many bottles available in our area at that price. Also tasting fully mature and still from Germany was a bottle of 2001 Weingut Kurt Darting, Rieslaner Auslese, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pfalz. With a botrytis note, dried apricot flavors, and just enough acidity this is a fully mature Riesling to be drunk now. I should add that the Peter Lauer overshadowed everything this evening.
When rummaging around for wines to drink I thought of the 1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion. With very top shoulder fill it seemed like a good candidate. Unfortunately, when I looked at the bottle a good length of the cork was visible in the neck, beneath the end of the capsule. Originally, only a tiny bit of cork was visible. Every time I looked at the bottle the cork seemed to be lower and lower. Once I realized this was not an illusion I decided it had to be drunk. I cut the capsule, gently pushed the cork in then sealed it up. Though it cleaned up on by the second evening, this was just a robust relic of a curiosity. Not sure of what to drink next we tried an unknown bottle of 2013 Stephane Montez, Cuvee du Papy, Saint-Joseph. The wine was completely underwhelming so I saved my part of the bottle and returned to drinking the Peter Lauer. On the second night the Montez was very attractive on the nose and in the mouth. It was a complete surprise. In the end this is a beautiful wine which I think could stand some cellar time so that there is more access to the flavors. It is not a wine you want to mature into a different spectrum of flavors, it just needs to open up.
NV Peter Lauer, Riesling Brut, Saar
Imported by T. Elenteny Imports for vom Boden. Alcohol 12%. This aromatic wine was very flavorful with floral fruit and a sense of maturity. The soft bubbles popped immediately leaving a creamy mousse with a firm underlying foundation. This ripe, flavor wine had some animale flavors before the soft, chalky finish. **** Now.
2001 Weingut Kurt Darting, Rieslaner Auslese, Durkheimer Nonnengarten, Pfalz
A Terry Theise Selection imported by Michael Skurnik Wines. Alcohol 10.5%. The amber color matched the sweet and weighty flavors in the mouth. As Lou pointed out there were notes of botrytis which mixed with dried apricot flavors. It took on some apple orchard notes with extended air. There is enough acidity right now but no need for holding on any longer. *** Now.
1970 Chateau Cheval Blanc, St. Emilion
Shipped by Compass Wine Ltd. Imported by Direct Import Wine Co. There were aromas of blood, meat, and medicine that were slightly off putting. Though the nose eventually cleaned up, it was better in the mouth. It was only a shell of what it should be with leather, roast, and dust. Not Rated.
2013 Stephane Montez, Cuvee du Papy, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from old vines. Alcohol 13%. On the second day the strong, floral nose revealed pure, purple aromas. In the mouth were very clean, with a finely ripe and textured core of dense flavor. The acidity was very tightly bound in along with the very fine tannins. The wine developed a sense of grapiness and graphite by the finish. There is a good mouthfeel right now with some ink. However, this deserves to be cellared so that it opens up not necessarily for the flavors to develop. ***(*) 2017-2022.
This past weekend a group of us gathered in my living room for a hastily planned tasting of mature Rhone wines. The motivation for the tasting came from an exchange with Jess Hagadorn (Young Winos of DC) where we quickly found a mutual love of Rhone wines. Sometimes a last minute arrangement works well and in this case it did. Many thanks to Jess, Bryan, Lou, Darryl, Nancy, Roland, Adrienne, David, and Isaac (Reading, Writing & Wine) for contributing an assortment of wines. There was no formality to the tasting so for this post I have grouped all of the Northern Rhone wines together.
By all accounts the odds were against the 1987 H. Sorrel, Hermitage Le Greal. Michael Broadbent is quite succinct describing the 1987 vintage as the “worst weather of the decade” with a rating of zero out of five stars. He does not bother to even list any wines. John Livingstone-Learmonth is a bit more detailed describing the vintage as “Mediocre, but some charming wines emerged.” He noted the wines of M. Sorrel. Marc Sorrel took over the estate from his father Henri in 1982. Though he quickly ascended the learning curve, there was a rocky period between the late 1980s to mid 1990s. John Livingstone-Learmonth attributes this to a divorce. Undoubtedly helped by good provenance, our bottle sported an attractive and complex nose. Ultimately, I felt the vintage showed through with hints of greenhouse and a lack of concentration. It was a lovely, traditional wine that I enjoyed very much. It also left me curious about other vintages.
After tasting a stinky 1978 E. Guigal, Hermitage just a few days prior, I was pleased to taste a well cellared 1990 E. Guigal, Hermitage. It is a solid wine that will not disappointed. I wanted to enjoy the 1995 Michel Chapoutier, Cote Rotie La Mordoree more for it had good, young blacker fruit. In fact, the wine seemed very young and unevolved. But after a few days it refused to budge leaving me to believe the very fine and powerful tannins will outlast the development of the fruit.
The 1999 Domaine J. L. Chave, Saint-Joseph exhibited the most smoke out of all the wines. It is a domaine wine and not from the negociant side. It is produced using vines dating back to World War 1 but most of the vines were planted in 1992 and 1993. This does come through in the wine but it is all done just right. John Livingstone-Learmonth writes “Father Gerard would call his St-Joseph red ‘an amusement,’ and this is the broad spirit in which the wine should be taken – a wine to drink in free quantities, with its fruit leading the way.” There was none of this bottle left by the end of the evening.
A new producer for me came in the form of the 1999 Domaine Burgaud, Cote Rotie. Bernard Burgaud produces just one wine and that is a red Hermitage. He has 22 acres of vines split across multiple sites each of which ripens at a different time. He typically destalked his fruit but not so for the 1999 vintage for he needed to absorb back some color. He ferments at high temperatures in concrete vats using indigenous yeasts then ages the wine for 15 months in 15-20% new oak barrels. John Livingstone-Learmonth writes that his “aim is to make a wine that is as tight-knit as possible, one of full integration of both elements and flavor.” At 16 years of age, this old-school bottle of wine was accessible in that it was balanced but there was no doubt in the room that it will take long to develop. I would love to taste a mature vintage while waiting for this vintage to blossom.
1987 H. Sorrel, Hermitage Le Greal
Imported by World Shippers & Importers. This wine is 100% Syrah the majority sourced from Le Meal with the rest from Greffieux that was aged for 18-22 months in used oak. Alcohol 12% to 14%. There was a great, complex nose with mature aromas with hints of green. In the mouth were light, mature, and ethereal flavors that made way to a mineral finish. The hints of tea and greenhouse flavors were kept alive by watering acidity. This bottle was in great condition, while the wine could have used more concentration, it was a lovely experience. *** Now.
1990 E. Guigal, Hermitage
Imported by Classic Wine Imports. Alcohol 13%. In the mouth were greenhouse flavors that eventually developed into a sweet floral profile. The wine showed young in the mouth with the fruit more ethereal than weighty. The acidity was present on the tongue with the structure coating the gums. With air this firm and dry wine took on some old wood notes, a lipsticky note, and finish with some sap. There was a fair amount of presence. There is plenty of life ahead but I wonder if the fruit will develop rather than the structure just persist. *** Now-2020+.
1995 Michel Chapoutier, Cote Rotie La Mordoree
Imported by Paterno Imports. 12.8%. There were firm, violet-like aromas on the nose. In the mouth this wine was still infantile with dry, floral dark fruit, and a very fine-grained, powerful structure. I wonder if the fruit will survive for the tannins to resolve. **(*) 2020-2030.
1999 Domaine Burgaud, Cote Rotie
Imported by Connoisseur Wines. This wine was aged for 15 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. Still a very dark color the nose was tent with both tart aromas and old wood. In the mouth this wine had an old-school nature. There was plenty of fruit, textured and ripe vintage wood, and ultimately a sense of firmness. With air there is more structure evident and clearly the need for further cellaring. ***(*) 2020-2030.
1999 Domaine J. L. Chave, Saint-Joseph
Imported Langdon Shiverick. Alcohol 12.5%. The seductive nose blended smoke and fruit as if from young vines. In the mouth was a young start with the structure evident and a tart grip. The wine had wood nose, some salty, good grip, and the right amount of smoke. It showed less weight in the finish. ***(*) Now-2020+.