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Lou guesses Italian, I guess Bordeaux

I went over to Lou’s house a few weeks ago.  We each brown bagged a few wines for each other to guess.  We only skirted with brilliance, informally I would say we are closer in guessing vintages than the regions the wine came from.  I brought the Rhone trio because negociants were still in their heydey at the end of the 1970s.  This clearly evident in the basic 1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage which is in absolutely fine shape today.  My brother-in-law’s guess that the bottle contained mature Cotes du Rhone is on the mark.  From an excellent vintage the 1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph is deeply aromatic and powerful.  Today it is very bloody on the nose and simpler in the mouth but I suspect it was a brute in youth.  It fell apart before the Crozes.  In case we needed confirmation that the Jaboulet Aine Crozes is a good wine I opened the miserable bottle of 1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage.

I guessed Washington state for the 1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley.  Clearly an excellent wine, it remains attractively aromatic yet continues to expand in flavor for hours.  After a few hours of air it becomes racy and texture.  I suspect this wine will develop for another year or two.  The 1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch confused me.  The salty start reminded me of certain Syrah based wines but the herbaceousness had me leaning towards a minor wine from Bordeaux.  It is surprisingly unevolved but it may never actually arrive at maturity.

1979 Paul Jaboulet-Aine, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  There is a good nose of mature Rhone fruit that persists until the bottle is finished.  In the mouth are rounded, perfumed flavors with a clear amount of good blue fruit and spices still present.  It finishes with some menthol gum freshness.  *** Now.

1978 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Grand Pompee, Saint-Joseph
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is metallic at first then it remains deeply aromatic evoking blood and iron.  It is tangy on the nose.  There is a bright fruit start then a black fruited middle moved by watering acidity.  The wine has power but the flavors become simpler towards the end.  The strength of the vintage comes through but the wine has seen better days.  * Now.

1979 Cave des Clairmonts, Crozes-Hermitage
This smells disjointed and tastes clunk, as if sweetness was added.  Poor.

1996 Ridge, Grenache ATP, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley
This wine is a blend of 92% Grenache, 6% Zinfandel, and 2% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This is a touch lighter in color making it medium garnet.  The wine changes with air for several hours, all the while maintaining a lovely nose of mixed berries and spice.  In the mouth is a ripe and perfumed start followed by a brief period of austerity.  It soon becomes racy with ripe flavors and power complemented by a fine texture and spiced finish.  This is a enjoyable wine just about to enter its mature plateau.  **** Now – 2023.

1998 Meerlust, Merlot, Stellenbosch
Imported by Cape Classics.  Alcohol 13%.  This looks young in the glass and still has a purple, grapey dark core.  The dark, salty start is interesting then the wine turns almost bitter with bits of green herbaceousness and very fine, drying tannins. It remains firm, never opening up.  ** Now but will last.

An approachable Saint-Joseph

April 18, 2017 1 comment

The 2014 J.L. Chave, Offerus, Saint-Joseph is a fine example from the Northern Rhone.  It is pure in feeling and combines meat and fruit with floral and stone notes. It is already quite expressive yet has the personality to develop over the next several years.  I recommend you grab a few to drink both now and later.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2014 J.L. Chave, Offerus, Saint-Joseph – $30
Imported by Erin Cannon Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose reveals aromas of meat coated with brighter red fruit.  This is a forward wine in the mouth with blue and black fruit mixed with floral hints.  It starts off with an open feeling partially due to minimal tannic structure and a hint of fat in the aftertaste.  With air this mineral infused wine is almost lip-smacking in flavor and reveals some tightness suggesting further development will take place.  ***(*) Now – 2025.

Saint-Joseph for the cellar

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

There is no doubt that the 2014 Domaine Vincent Paris, les Cotes, Saint-Joseph  is young and in need of age. If you must try a bottle this winter then drink off a small glass, recork the bottle, then try it the next day.  Now the granite soil will come through, supporting the fruit.  More importantly, the acidity and texture, which are superb at this stage, will pull you back for another glass or two.  I recommend you stash away a few bottles.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Domaine Vincent Paris, les Cotes, Saint-Joseph – $25
Imported by Potomac Selections.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from vineyards on granite soils north of Cornas.  The vines are 10 to 20 years old with fruit fermented in both barrel and tank then aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 12.5%.  One the second day there is an almost electric start of beautiful, textured citrus pith below citrus flavors mix into black fruit.  There is an underlying chalky element.  At this young stage, the wine keeps circling you back to the awesome texture.  ***(*) 2019 – 2027.

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For short-term aging: 2014 Lionel Faury, Saint-Joseph

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

A blind tasting of 2003 Northern Rhone wines

January 23, 2017 1 comment

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 find fat, berries, and stones in the 2013 Domaine Faury, La Gloriette, Saint-Joseph

November 10, 2016 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Saint-Joseph from Domaine des Amphores

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.

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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.

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