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Posts Tagged ‘Sauternes’

A dinner party with old wine

September 22, 2015 Leave a comment

This past weekend Lou and I went to a fun dinner party where we ate heaps of meat and drank some old wine.  Lou’s friend Todd spearheaded the food side of things and Lisa offered up her place.  This meant that Lou and I selected the wines.  We started with a very fresh tasting 2008 Drouhin-Vaudon, Chablis Premier Cru.  It showed younger than I expected with the bottle age taking off any rough corners and adding a hint of orchard fruit.

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Once everyone arrived and set about tucking into the cheese and charcuterie, we cracked open the NV Michel Turgy, Reserve Selection, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs and the NV Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier, Champagne Brut Premier Cru.  The Turgy is a pure Chardonnay based Champagne that was vinified entirely in stainless steel.  The Vilmart is a blend of mostly Chardonnay with Pinot Noir that was both fermented and aged in oak.  This made for an enjoyably different pair of wines, with the Turgy very aromatic with mature aromas and more explosive bubbles.  The Vilmart had a subdued nose but was top-notch in the mouth with a luxurious mousse and all around harmony.  I highly recommend you seek out both of these.

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With our palete wet we moved on to a trio of Pinot Noir.  I have written about the 2001 Domaine Serene, Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley and 2003 Brick House, Pinot Noir, Cuvée du Tonnelier, Willamette Valley before so I shall pass over those.  The third bottle, in the form of the 1985 Comte Armand, Pommard Clos de Epenaux, showed an attractive maturity with plenty of earthy aromas that pervaded through the mouth.  We have drunk one bottle before that seemed very young, this bottle was very expressive with good strength.

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With the bottles of Pinot Noir drained we moved on to a pair of Bordeaux.  Perhaps the 1982 Château Prieurié Lichine, Margaux was destined to be a mere solid experience due to the heat stress in Margaux or the estate itself.  It was, nevertheless, a decent wine that only helped elevate the excellent bottle of 1982 Château Meyney, Saint-Estèphe.  The Meyney proved quite aromatic with satisfying presence in the mouth.  It was both mature and youthful at the same time making for a fine glass.

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For the 1978 vintage we opened a pair from Saint-Julien.  I had high hopes for the 1978 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien but this particular bottle offered darker red fruit, that while good, did not have quite the vigor it should have.  The 1978 Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien on the other hand was completely open with its aromatic nose, expansive flavors, and strength.  You could generally say the 1982s were fruitier and the 1978s were more rugged.  More importantly, though, all four bottles provoked delight and were drained of their very last drops.

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To transition to the Sauternes course we selected the 1977 Ridge Late Harvest Zinfandel Trentadue Ranch, Sonoma County due to the bit of residual sugar at bottling.  From a drought vintage in California, I was prepared for it to be sherried at this age.  It wasn’t!  In fact it was like a solid, rustic old Californian wine.  Be it the high alcohol level or its age, it drank more like the previous wines than a dessert wine.  Lou is a firm believer in old Ridge wines and this bottle demonstrates why.  I wish I could write more about the wine but I only had a tiny pour as I was quick to check on the Sauternes.

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Both of our bottles of Sauterne were from good vintages.  I expected the 1983 Château Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes to be more advanced given the color and simpler given the reputation.  My expectations were met for there was a burst of mouthfilling, dark, botrytised fruit followed by a simpler and shorter finish.  The sweetness was more obvious too.  Quickly down the hatch it went!  With everyone adjusted we poured the 1988 Château de Rayne Vigneau, Sauternes.  This is an important vintage for the vineyard had been replanted, the rebuilding of the chais was complete with new stainless steel tanks, new barriques, and a cold chamber first employed for the 1987 vintage.  Fortunately, the cold chamber was not required for the 1988 vintage which was the first to experience the pneumatic press.  All of these updates showed through the wine.  It was beautiful, more on the elegant side but it sported a finely articulate nose with perfectly balanced fruit, acidity, and sweetness in the mouth.  As Lou commented, it is ready for a long future of development.

Many thanks to Todd, Lisa, and everyone else for such a fun evening!

Tasting 2001-2011 vintages of Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

It is easy to taste more wine and research more subjects than I can write about.  These notes from a fall tasting of wine from Descendientes de J. Palacios prove that point.  The Palacios wines all came from a single cellar purchased last year by MacArthur Beverages.  The owner bought them direct from the Rare Wine Co. and had cellared them properly since purchase.  Thus there was no more reason needed to purchase these wines other than curiosity.  As I have an incredibly tiny dining room Roland generously offered to host the tasting.

Introductory Wines

That a white wine from Bierzo could be purely Dona Blanca was revealing for most.  The nose of the 2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo  was quite engaging and I enjoyed the mouthfeel.  It’s a shame it was so pricey. The 2011 Adega Algueira, Ribera Sacra  acted as a transition wine being made from Mencia in Ribera Sacra.  This young, grapey wine left me wanting to jump into the Palacios wines.  This pair of wines were purchased at Despaña Vinos y Mas.

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2011 La Vizcaina, La Del Vivo, Lomas de Valtuile, Bierzo –
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Dona Blanca.    Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was aromatic with forest and fresh pine notes.  In the mouth fresh fruit flavors eventually developed and were kept lively by balanced acidity.  The wine was rounded with glycerin becoming softer towards the finish.

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2011 Adega Algueira, Ribeira Sacra –
Imported by Polaner Selections.   This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 13%.  This wine seemed reduced at first eventually showing a grapey, black fruited style of Mencia.  The wine was young with a citrus hint and grapey tannins.

The Descendientes de J. Palacios Tasting

The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios are the result of the collaboration between Ricardo Perez and Alvaro Palacios that began in 1999.  They put together some 30 hectares of vines located in the hills near Corullón in the region of Bierzo in the northwest of Spain.  For our tasting we spanned much of the estate’s history with vintages that went from 2011 back to 2001.  The wines themselves encompassed four different bottlings.  Petalos marks the entry level and is made from old-vine Mencia sourced from many sites.  The Villa de Corullón uses fruit from vines up to 90 years of age located in vineyards that flank Corullón.  The Moncerbal and Las Lamas wines are made from vineyards located in the same valley south of Corullón .  The Moncerbal vineyards are located on a steep hillside between 650 – 740 meters in elevation.  The vineyards generally face south-west.  The soils here are a mixture of slates, quartzes, and marbles.  Las Lamas represents the fourth wine we would taste.  The fruit for these wines are sourced from small vineyards located just west of Moncerbal at similar altitude.  Here the vineyards face south with soils of broken slate.

The wines of Descendientes de J. Palacios quickly escalate both in price and scores.  With this in mind it might be surprising that the pair of vintages from the entry-level Petalos caught everyone off guard.  The 2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo  is a strapping, young wine that I strongly recommend you find some for your cellar.  I write this because the 2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo  has entered that second stage of life showing both fruit and bottle aged flavors.  It has developed incredibly well.  I will admit that, for no particular reason other than a lack of information, I half expected it to be past its peak.

Of the other selections my favorites included the 2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo and the 2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo.  This pair showed good balance of fruit, acidity, and strong structure that should reward after a few more years in the cellar.  Sadly, the trio of wines from the 2001 vintages showed as a whole that they were past their prime drinking.

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2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This showed round, grippy young fruit, some smoothness before savory, black minerals, and a slightly warm finish.  With air this robust wine became salty with drying, fine tannins.  A strapping wine.

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2006 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  The attractive nose immediately showed more maturity.  The low-lying flavors were almost meaty with fine to medium textured tannins.  There was significant life in this wine which was still fruity showing red cherry, tart cranberry, and strawberry flavors.  With air the wine became more fragrant with floral aromas that made way to old wood and tart red fruit in the mouth.  Lovely.

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2011 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 15%.  This wine was young and robust with a tight core of deep, sexy, racy fruit.  The fruit was sweet (alcohol?) but not from residual sugar.  This wine definitely stepped things up with not quite brawny floral flavors that retained lots of focus.

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2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was an attractive, dark nose that was not quite stinky.  The flavors had a cool start followed by very fine blue fruit, a cinnamon finish, and dense, expansive aftertaste.  There was a robust, powerful structure that left drying tannins on the gums.   With air this wine showed good balance with dense, sweet blue fruit, lovely acidity, and a black minerally finish.

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2007 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a hint of butter on the nose.  In the mouth were lighter red fruit flavors that were gently dense and stylistically different.  There were very fine, smooth tannins that were more obviously from wood.  It had some texture.

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2005 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The subtle berry nose opened up to step out of the glass.  There were exotic flavors in the mouth that were savory with strawberry notes and spicy tannins in the structure.  There was concentrated fruit, lovely acidity that was more abundant than the 2007, and a really good finish.  Nice wine.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Las Lamas, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a nose of tobacco followed by firm fruit in the mouth.  There was acidity and vintage perfume notes but the soft focus and hollow middle were detracting.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Villa de Corullón, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 13%.  The vintage perfume aromas were delicate.  The wine was very easy to drink with a personality of lighter fruit, strawberry flavors, and acidity.  It remained very approachable.

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2001 Descendientes de J. Palacios, Moncerbal, Bierzo
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 100% Mencia.  Alcohol 14%.  Though this was fruity the flavors dropped off by the finish.

Interlude

With the last three wines from the 2001 vintage leaving us wanting, Roland returned from his basement with a bottle of 2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva.  Into the big decanter/glass it went.  Roland worked the decanter, coaxing the wine to open up before pouring it out.  It was gorgeous!

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2005 Granja Remelluri, Rioja Gran Reserva
Imported by De Maison Selections.  Alcohol 13.5%.  A harmonious wine with sweet fruit complemented by wood box.  The wine tasted younger as it breathed.  There is clearly strong potential with this wine.

1988 Sauternes

Our Sauternes flight proved we were doomed by vintages served in threes.  You know you are in bad luck when Panos Kakaviatos remotely diagnosed a problem with the 1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes  based on a Facebook picture.  These wines came from two different cellars.

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1988 Chateau Climens, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  With flavors of apple orchard fruit this was more advanced than it should have been as also evidenced by the color.  The fruit, glycerin, and acidity was all up front.

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1988 Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This managed to remain floral.

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1988 Chateau La Tour Blanche, 1er Cru Sauternes
Imported by Calvert Woodley. Alcohol 14%. This had grapier fruit and while the acidity was present, the flavors were very short leading to a textured, residual sugar infused finish.

The Calon Segur Vertical 2010-1982

January 29, 2014 1 comment

Chateau-Calon-Segur. Image from Cocks and Feret, Bordeaux and Its Wines. 1883.

Just over one week ago I had the opportunity to taste 16 vintages of Château Calon-Ségur ranging from 2010 back to 1982.  The tasting was organized by Panos Kakaviatos who managed to convince general manager Laurent Dufau to present his wines at Ripple in Washington, DC.  The estate was recently acquired by Crédit Mutuel Arkéa and Jean-François Moueix.  They hired Laurent Dufau who informed us this was the first promotional tasting in the United States in 120 years.  I recommend you read Panos’ post Calon Segur 1982-2010: first ever promotional tasting in the US both for the background information and his perspective on the wines.  Three important facts to consider are that until 2002 the wine was bottled on two separate dates, once in the spring and once in the July to September time frame.  This fact alone introduces bottle variation.  Secondly, in 2006 Vincent Millet took over the winemaking for the estate.  Vintages prior to 2006 tend to have 50% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon but Mr. Millet increased the Cabernet Sauvignon proportion to 80%.  He also sourced the fruit from the main 55ha vineyard.

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We began the evening with glasses of Krug Champagne served by Maria Denton.  Krug might be a fixture at Panos’ Bordeaux tastings in Washington, DC and it is of good effect.  Everyone gets excited.  There were many familiar faces present including Phil Bernstein (MacArthur Beverages), Chris Bublitz, Maria and David Denton, John Gilman (View From the Cellar), Darryl Priest, Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and David White (Terroirist).   My assigned table included Kathy Morgan, Annette Schiller (Ombiasy Wine Tours), and Christian Schiller (Schiller Wine).  You may find Christian’s post here A 16-Vintage Château Calon Ségur Vertical Tasting in Washington DC, with Wine Writer Panos Kakaviatos and Laurent Dufau, Managing Director, USA/Bordeaux. All of the wines we tasted were decanted as early as 3pm so they had plenty of air.  In adding my brief comments both the 2010 and 2009 vintages have strong long-term development ahead of them.  The 2008 was drinking quite well as was the 2005 vintage, the last prior to Vincent Millet.  The later had initial notes of maturity and was just downright fun to drink.  Reaching back further the 1989 was my favorite wine of the night.  A classic mature wine.  Unfortunately, my 1982 was full of sediment as was the rest of the table.  It was decent but muted and in no way compared to the 1989.  At the very end each person received a small pour from three different bottles of Sauternes.  I have come to love Sauternes very much so it was to my delight that I discovered these bottles were still a third full at the end.  The 1986 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey provided a lovely end to the evening.

Laurent Dufau and Panos Kakaviatos

Laurent Dufau and Panos Kakaviatos

2010 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This wine had a subtle herbaceous nose.  In the mouth were enjoyable yet firm and concentrated flavors.  There were notes of graphite and spices in the finish followed by a good aftertaste. ***(*)

2009 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This bore a darker nose of black cherry with some deep, meaty aromas.  The flavors were blacker with meat, a little hint of minerals, with some texture in the finish. ***(*)

2008 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was finely scented with some toast.  In the mouth were firm cherry and black fruit flavors which were lively in the mouth.  This wine was more open, drinking well, and had good acidity. ****

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2007 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was richer and aromatic with chocolate notes and vegetal hints.  In the mouth there were initial fruit flavors then a wall of structure.  Much different than the 2006, with more green herbaceous notes. **

2006 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This had a very tight nose of clean fruit.  In the mouth the tight fruit had both good structure and acidity.  There were red fruit flavors which morphed into black fruit.  The wine was elegant, perfumed, and had a good mouthfeel.  A good wine. ***

2005 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was a touch darker.  This was a fun wine with rustic flavors and chunky tannins.  Drinking really well with hints of maturity. *****

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2003 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a little perfume on the nose. In the mouth were black fruit flavors, watering acidity, and presence of structure.  This well done wine mixed minerals with structure in the finish.  It had good fruit, texture, and balance.  It was rather open.  ****

2002 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This was a thinner wine with a little more minerals.  The flavors leaned towards the red and it still had structure.  **

2001 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a linear delivery of fruit with some tart red flavors and a touch of vegetal notes.  It bore hints of bottle age but presented a youthful aspect.  There were black minerals in the finish and red fruit which was both dense and cool.  A young wine.  ***

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2000 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
The nose was a bit earthy with spices.  In the mouth the wine was young and not showing too much.  It had powdery notes of rocks and structure in the mouth.  Clearly meant for the long-haul.  ***(*)

1999 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
There was a good, tight nose.  The flavors were concentrated with prominent acidity and a slightly ripe finish.  This was a good, fresh wine with some baking spices and a little earth.  It was drying in the finish. ***

1998 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This revealed a little volatile sharpness on the nose.  In the mouth this wine came together with air.  It showed complexity with a tough, robust finish.  There were attractive black fruit and floral elements.  ****

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1996 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This wine was fresh yet firm with some leanness wrapped around the structure.  There was black and red fruit and some spice.  Very nice. ****

1995 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This was more linear in delivery with acidity and more mellow blue fruit flavors.  The flavors had some weight and there was a little toast to the structure. ***

1989 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This bore a lovely, earthy finely scented nose with mature aromas.  In the mouth was good fruit, concentration, drying structure, and a little roast.  My wine of the night.  It had a balance between maturity and liveliness which made it a treat to drink.  ****

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1982 Château Calon-Ségur, St. Estèphe
This glass full of sediment was poured from a bottle with a perfect label.  There were darker fruit notes, ripeness was there, some roast, a good wine but ultimately lacked that extra dimension. ***

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1986 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
This had the lightest color the three Sauternes.  There were apricot and floral notes.  The residual sugar and acidity were balanced with some crispness to the wine.  The apricot flavors became sharper towards the finish.  Drinking well now.  ****.

1989 Chateau Rieussec, Sauternes
This had a piercing nose followed by sharpness in the mouth.  This bottle was not showing well. NR.

2001 Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes
This had a slightly candied aroma followed by sweeter flavors and more obvious residual sugar with less acidity.  The flavors leaned towards marmelade.  ***

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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 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon

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This past week I attended the 14th Annual Heart’s Delight Press and Sommelier Luncheon held at the Hotel Sofitel Washington, DC.  The luncheon is just one part of the Heart’s Delight Wine Tastings and Auction which was spread over five days.  This event began in memory of Bruce Bassin of MacArthur Beverages in 1999 with the intent to raise money for the American Heart Association.

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The tasting and luncheon was held in Le Bar.  The space was arranged with the 13 wineries located across two sides of the room, the luncheon buffet on a third side with the bar itself holding water and plenty of wine glasses.  Within the center of the room were cocktail tables for tasting and eating.  A small number of us gathered for the event including Ben Giliberti (Calvert-Woodley), Dave McIntyre (The Washington Post and DMWineLine), David White (Terroirist),  Don Winkler and Mike Potashnik (International Wine Review), Christian Schiller (Schillerwine), Dick Rosano (Weekly Wine Pick), Karen Taylor (France Magazine), and Rebecca Canan (Terroirist). For Christian Schiller’s thoughts on the event you may read Heart’s Delight 2013 – A Bordeaux and American Wine Feast in Washington DC for a Good Cause, USA.

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I decided to visit the tables in clockwise order.  Many others had the same idea so despite the small number of attendees there was a bit of a jam where Chateau Palmer met Chateau Clerc-Milon.  In the end I ran out of time and was unable to taste the wines of Chateau Clerc-Milon and Martinelli.  What I did taste was a highly pleasurable array of distinct wines with even the most structured and tannic wine was still enjoyable.  Besides the outstanding quality of the wines I thought the feel of the room was calm.  The number of wines being poured, the number of attendees, the size of the room, and food worked together.  The event became a social affair.  Attendees and winemakers freely chatted and towards the end of the luncheon, everyone started to mingle and small groups formed.

Château Malartic-Lagravière

Bruno and Veronique Bonnie Laplane

Bruno and Véronique Bonnie Laplane

The Blanc is produced from a smaller 6 hectare plot.  Due to its size there is no rush for harvest so they pick the fruit over three tries.  Véronique commented that the Blanc ages well, developing minerals as it does.  The oldest vintage of Blanc in the cellar is the 1945!  The red varietals encompass 43 hectares so it is harvested all at once, plot by plot.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon which was fermented in barrel then aged on the lees for 11 months in 50% new oak barrels.  The nose was floral with light raspberry and a little grassy aromas.  In the mouth there was acidity driven flavors which built weight to reveal ripe, spiced texture, tang, and increased intensity.  There was a very good, persistent aftertaste.  Nice wine.

2010 Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Leognan
This wine is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel and oak vats then aged for 18 months in 75% new oak barrels.  The nose revealed a little ripe fruit, red aromas, vanilla, and bramble fruit.  In the mouth the red and blue fruit was youthful with vigor.  There were ripe tannins which coated the lips and teeth as part of the ripe structure.  The flavors became blacker and racy in the finish turning to tart black fruit in the aftertaste.  It sported fine acidity.  This was quite approachable.

Château Haut-Bailly

Diana Paulin

Diana Paulin

This wine is composed of 20% fruit sourced from a very old vineyard located by hind the left read of the Chateau.  These old vines are approximately 120 years old, being just post-phylloxera.  This vineyard includes plots where six varietals are coplanted.  In order to differentiate between the early and late ripening vines they are tagged with ribbons.

2010 Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Leognan
This wind is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc which was aged in 55% new barrels.  The nose revealed concentrated fruit, berry bramble, and an attractive funk.  In the mouth the black and grapey fruit flavors showed firm focus.  This wine has obvious structure with fine ripe citric/wood tannins mixing with black berries in the finish.  This needs age and will be quite comfortable in the cellar.

Château Léoville-Poyferré

Anne Cuvelier

Anne Cuvelier

The estate was acquired by the Cuvelier family in 1920.  Since then they have constructed a new winery, planted new vines, and just in time for the 2010 vintages was the installation of new stainless steel cuviers.

2010 Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien
This wine is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc which was fermented in stainless steel then underwent 50% malolactic fermentation in barrels followed aging in 75% new French oak barrels for 18-20 months.  There was a youthful nose of vintage perfume, grapey aromas, and a good greenhouse aroma.  In the mouth there was an underlying darkness with firm, spicy structure supporting the red and black fruit.  There were drying tannins and some integrated, salivating acidity.  This was a lip coating wine which will clearly benefit from age.

Château Palmer

Château Palmer is the classical wine with Alter Ego the contemporary.  Alter Ego features a larger percentage of Merlot along with shorter barrel aging which makes it more forward. Any fruit not deemed for the Grand Vin or Alter Ego is sold off.

2010 Château Palmer, Alter Ego, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot.  The nose bore good perfume.  The mouth followed the nose with dark perfumed flavors, good acidity, and a racy aspect towards the finish.  This was attractive and probably the most forward of the Bordeaux.

2010 Château Palmer, Margaux
This wine is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot.  There was a dark, perfumed nose with pungent berries which stepped out of the glass.  In the mouth the seductive fruit mixed with dark perfume and some tart red flavors.  The structure was integrated with the flavors taking on a berry quality leaning towards blue and black fruit.  Already very nice in its youth.  Effortlessly flavorful.

Clos Dubreuil

Lisa Simon

Lisa Simon

This wine is produced from fruit sourced from a tiny 10 acre vineyard under the consultancy of Michel Rolland.

2010 Clos Dubreuil, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was tight  In the mouth there was focused blue and black fruit, structure, hint of vanilla, and some extract.  There were ripe, grapey tannins which stuck to the lips.

Château Troplong Mondot

Myriam Ruer

Myriam Ruer

With 33 hectares of vines Troplong-Mondot is one of the largest estates in St. Emilion.  The vines themselves average 65 years of age.

2010 Château Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion
This wine is a blend of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.  The nose stepped out with lipsticky aromas of bramble fruit.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit, black, inky fruit which was mouthfilling and attractive.  The vein of flavor stood up to a fair amount of structure.  The tannins coated the lips and gums.  This was drinking well.

Château Pontet-Canet

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

Alfred Tesson, Image courtesy of Christian Schiller

The Tesseron family has slowly replanted the vineyards and improved the winery since they acquired it in 1975.  The fruit is fermented in both wooden vats, without temperature control, and modern concrete vats installed in 2005.

2010 Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac
This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot which was fermented in oak and cement vats then aged for 16 months in 60% new oak barrels.  The nose was of ripe, mixed fruits.  In the mouth the soft forward fruit had blue flavors with both integrated acidity and tannins.  It was approachable and soft in a sense with some low-lying flavors and a grapey finish.  A fair amount was going on with absolutely no hard edges.

Meteor Vineyards

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

Meteor Vineyards dates to 1998 when Barry and Tracy Schuler purchased a proper in Coombville.  The vineyard was planted in 1999 on a rocky knoll at 500 feet.  The soils are volcanic and might be part of a caldera.  The vineyard is planted with only Cabernet Sauvignon and this particular wine is produced from three different clones.

2009 Meteor Vineyards, Perseid, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 22 months in 65% new French oak.  The nose preceded the mouth with dark, racy Cabernet Sauvignon fruit.  It has a sweet vanilla beam with a cool aspect and pervasive, dark perfume.  It was almost lush but the structure was inside to provide a framework.

Château Guiraud

Laure Planty

Laure Planty

This is an 18th century estate which since 2006 has been run by Robert Peugeot, Olivier Bernard, Stephan Von Neipperg, and Xavier Planty.  The fruit is sourced from some 85 hectares of vineyards.

2010 Château Guiraud, Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. RS 132 g/L.  Alcohol 13.7%.  The nose was fruit with fresh, mandarin oranges.  In the mouth the residual sugar was noticeable before the very attractive body coated the tongue.  There was a glycerin feel along with flavors of baking spices and some creme brulee.  The acidity was integrated.  An inviting young wine.

Château Coutet

Dominique Baly

Dominique Baly

The estate has been producing wine since the 17th century.  Today it is the largest Barsac property with 35 hectares of vines and is owned by the Baly family.

2010 Château Coutet, Barsac-Sauternes
This wine is a blend of 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle.  RS 154 g/L.  Alcohol 14%.  With warmth this showed more apricot flavors and that balance was such that the residual sugar was lessened by the acidity.  The finish wrapped up with peaches and stone fruits.  A lively young wine.

Kicking Off Old Wine Week with Jenn, Lou, and Frank

It all started one fall morning when Lou texted me a picture of a pristine bottle of  1966 Parducci, Zinfandel.  I love to drink old wines and apparently to look at them as well.  There is that sense of curiosity and potential surprise from a good glass of old wine.   It certainly is a gamble but at an attractive price it is worth it.  Since I received Lou’s text we picked up a few various bottles but these were mostly Bordeaux and nothing prior to 1970.   Joe at MacArthur Beverages had recently bought a few wine cellars.  A number of these bottles ended up in the dump bin.  Through fortuitous timing I happened to be at the store when both the California and French bins were filled.  I knew a tasting was coming together when Andy pointed out the two bottles of 1960s Beaulieu Vineyards with their bottom neck fills.  To this I added other mature wines from California, Bordeaux, vintage Port, and Bordeaux.  The wines from California and the red Bordeaux did not come from the best storage conditions but they were priced right.  The Sauternes came from a different cellar with good storage condition.  With enough wines in hand for a tasting Jenn and I were recently joined by Lou and Frank (DrinkWhatYouLike) for a tasting of some of these old bottles.

Traffic was horrendous that evening so we got off to a bit of a late start.  The weather was turning a bit sketchy but we managed to have a glass of Ca’del Bosco on the deck along with some cheese.  Frank has a particular affinity for this estate since he has actually visited it and disgorged some wine.  I was not taking notes at this point for I was, quite frankly, thirsty.  I found the wine refreshing and with my glass finished I was ready to taste the old red wines.

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NV Ca’del Bosco, Cuvee Prestige, Franciacorta  –
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero, and 10% Pinot Bianco blended with at least 20% reserve wine then aged for 28 months.  Disgorged Summer 2012.  Alcohol 12.5%.  From memory, fresh, approachable yellow fruit with citrus and some yeast.  Fine bubbles.  Very easy to drink.

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I had stored both of the bottles laying down in the Euro Cave.  The sediment in both bottles had settled down but knowing these weren’t the strongest vintages I was worried about decanting them.  I briefly conferred with Lou and having decided to ignore the sediment,  I stood the bottles on end and begin to cut the tops of the capsules.  The top of both corks were in great shape.  The 1962 cork looked a bit more like old wood with just a little cellar mold.  The top of the 1967 cork looked pristine.  I extracted both corks with an Ah-So.  The 1962 cork smelled like very old wood with hints of tobacco.  It was marked “Portugal 196[2?]”.  The 1967 cork was marked “Beaulieu Rutherford, Calif” and its business end was much darker, almost black.  It smelled of old cork and vintage perfume.  A sniff of each bottle revealed them sound.  I had expected the 1962 to have already cracked up but instead it had promise!  It managed to drink well for some 10-15 minutes before it cracked up for the worst.  The 1967 had more fruit and was more robust, lasting almost one hour.  The nose remained interesting for quite some time longer.

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1962 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium amber tawny.  The light nose immediately revealed cedar, roast earth, and dried leather.  Then a few minutes later it was scented with coffee and caramel.  In the mouth there was firm red fruit, acidity, and a fresh aftertaste.  It faded fast and after 10 minutes it begin to crack up and fall apart.  Past.

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1967 Beaulieu Vineyard, Georges de Latour, Private Reserve, Napa Valley –
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged for 2 years in American oak.  Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was closer to medium tawny with a bit more red.  The nose did open up to reveal deeper aromas as if there were more fruit.  In the mouth this rustic, old-school wine had more fruit but it faded and softened with air.  There was an interesting note.  It was more robust than the 1962 but its slow decline begin by hours end.  * Past.

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Lou managed to remove the Parducci cork with a cork-screw.  The top of the cork was black and white with mold having protruded half a centimeter down the sides.  The cork itself was red and wrinkly looking.  It was faintly branded “Parducci” and was about the same length as the Beaulieu Vineyard corks.  It smelled of leather and the sea but fortunately the wine did not.  The 1966 vintage was stronger than 1962 and 1967 as evidenced by this bottle.  This wine was in great shape and even drank well the following night.  After getting over my initial surprise I knocked back a glass or two of this old quaffer.

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1966 Parducci Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Mendocino County –
Fill half-centimeter above vintage label.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light to medium tawny, the darkest yet.  The nose revealed deep, red fruit with some scent and old perfume.  In the mouth the fruit was firm with acidity.  It was spiced and again a note about the acidity.  It was not overly complex nor too engaging but it was completely drinkable.  There were still a bit of ripe tannins.  With air it took on dried leather in the mouth and firmed up.  ** Now.

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With the 1962 Beaulieu having expired we needed something else to drink.  Lou thought the 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose to be a good choice.  I extracted the cork with an Ah-So without any issues.  It was a good centimeter longer than the previous three corks.  The cork and bottle smelled proper so I carefully double-decanted the wine to remove the sediment.  As I did so it gave off dark, earthy aromas.  The nose remained interesting but in the mouth the impression was of robustness and solidity.  I think it safe to write that this bottle suffered from its storage conditions but it must have been made of such stuffing to evolve to this point and probably could have continued as well.

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1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose, Saint-Julien –
Imported by Chateau & Estate Wine Company.  This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot sourced from vines averaging 35 years of age.  It was fermented in cement tanks then aged 16-18 months in new and used oak.  Top should fill.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a medium garnet ruby.  The light to medium nose was robust and good with dark fruit and a little fresh menthol.  The mouth followed the nose but was not as expressive.  There was black and red fruit with tartness and acidity which was integrated throughout.  The flavors faded and thinned with air.  It had some textured ripe tannins.  A solid experience which left the impression that it was not the best bottle.  ** Now-2018.

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Lastly it came time to open the Sauternes.  Lou brought the 1988 Raymond-Lafon from a parcel of 1988 Sauternes half-bottle he picked up for both of us.  He thought it a bit clunky upon first taste so I opened the 1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron.  These were very different types of wine.  The Raymond-Lafon was young with less residual sugar to the flavors of apples and berries.  The Haut-Bergeron was rich in flavor and feel with caramel and tobacco flavors.  I drank the remnants over a few nights.  The Raymond-Lafon remained a decent, enjoyable wine but never showed good depth.  At one point I forgot to recork the Haut-Bergeron.  I discovered the bottle with its remains several days later.  It still smelled fine so I tried it and it was fine!  It had taken on a little roughness from oxidation but otherwise it was still enjoyable.  I imagine well-corked examples will live for several decades.

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1988 Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from vines averaging 40 years of age.  The fruit was pressed in a hydraulic press then barrel fermented for 3-5 weeks.  No sulphur was added to stop fermentation thus relying on antibiotic botryticine.  It was racked every three months and aged three years in 60% new oak.  Top shoulder fill.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a vibrant, medium amber.  The nose was fine but not too complex.  In the mouth there were drier, firmer flavors of apple and then mixed apple and berries.  It was very much alive and tasting young.  It was not too sweet from residual sugar and still had plenty of acidity.  While not that complex it had an expansive finish.  ** Now-2033.

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1990 Chateau Haut-Bergeron, Sauternes – (375 mL)
Bottom neck fill.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium tawny.  The nose revealed more botrytis and cider aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were tawny with botrytis, good feel and texture, along with caramel and tobacco notes.  I think this richer wine has the residual sugar, acidity, and alcohol to last for many decades to come.  ** Now-2043.

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I opened the leftover 1966 Parducci and 1983 Chateau Gruaud Larose three nights later for our schedule had conspired against me revisiting them earlier.  We sat on the couch watching the television where Jenn was enjoying the 2010 Kermit Lynch, Cotes du Rhone.  I drank the 1966 and 1983 that night tickled that they were my table wine for one evening.

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A Surprising Number of Wines at Shane’s House

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

This past weekend we attended a class fundraiser at our neighbor Shane’s house.  The goal was to raise funds for a French Immersion class trip to Montreal.  The event was hosted by Shane, Denise, Scott, and Jennifer.  Shane works for Bacchus Importers and Scott works for Monument Fine Wines so I knew it would be a fun evening.  Throughout the house were tables representing a particular region of French.  Each table had several wines and dishes from that region.  There was quite a diverse set of wine so I did my best to taste through a variety and jot down some simple notes.

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Providing enough sparkling wine for everybody is a tough job but the NV Charles de Fere, Reserve Rose Dry is always a great choice.  It is an interesting blend of Gamay, Cinsault, and Cabernet from the Loire and Sciacarellu from Corsica!  I thought this bottle showed an entry of ripe fruit and rather fine bubbles which softly dissipate into a short mousse.  There was citric acidity and drying flavors.  The 2010 Gratien & Meyer, Brut Rose Premium Millesime, Saumur is a blend of most Cabernet Franc and Grolleau.  I am not aware of drinking Grolleau before.  This bottle had firmer bubbles which made a nice mousse, drier fruit, then white citrus fruit, and a tangy finish.

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Next I skipped over to the white Burgundies by starting with the 2011 Bastion de L’Oratoire Chanson, Vire-Cleese. This wine imported by Terlato is 100% Chardonnay which is vinified in vat and undergoes malolactic fermentation. It had  a light nose of white and ripe floral fruit, honeysuckle like.  In the mouth the whiter fruit had some tropical ripeness and grip.

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The  2011 J. M. Boillot, Montagny 1er Cru, imported by Vineyard Brands, stepped things up.  There was a light nose of good fruit, nutmeg, with more depth.  The flavors followed the nose and were lithe, focused and young with lively acidity.

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Of the 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux I thought a La Grange de Clinet decent but the Tuscan 2006 Tenuta di Arceno, Prima Voce, Toscana IGT from magnum, the best Bordeaux blend.  This is a blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Syrah which was aged for 12 months in French oak.  There were maturing Merlot and Cabernet notes on the nose. In the mouth the flavors were structured but with good balance.  It took on black fruit, black minerally depth, and will certainly age.  Tasted blind I might not pick it out at Tuscan but it was certainly a good drink and reasonably priced.

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The Rhone wines were decent but I thought the Languedoc-Roussillon selection better.  For old-vine Carignan the 2007 Domaine de la Bouysse, Mazerac, Corbieres Boutenanc, made from 105 year old Carignan along with Grenache and Mourvedre, is pretty and approachable but will benefit from age.  I thought the 2011 Borie la Vitarele, Les Terres Blanches, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, was lighter and simpler with its bright red fruit.  I am usually a fan of this wine.  The 2010 Abbaye Sylva Plana, Les Novices, Faugeres the best of the three.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan from 15-60 year old vines on soils of schiste.  It had rich flavors, depth, and was not overbearing.

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The 2007 Domaine Maorou, Red Wine, VdP Hauterive is a blend of 36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, and 30% Grenache.  It showed more maturity than the previous three wines along with good fruit, dried herbs, and some ruggedness.  I did not get to revisit it.

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David McIntyre brought a selection of wines so of course I had to tuck into those as well.  The 2007 Potel-Aviron, Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie did not show much.  The tight nose was followed by tight red black fruit in the mouth, just a touch of weight, and fine, dusty tannins.  Perhaps it needed some air.

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More interesting was the 2006 Domaine Billard Pere et Fils, La Combe Basin, Saint-Romain Blanc.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the lieu dit La Combe Bazin. The wine is barrel fermented in 25% new French oak and aged sur lie for 12 months.  It had a light nose of mature aromas and gravelly yellow fruit.  It was tight in the mouth with gravelly, controlled flavors, fresh acidity in the finish, some tannins, and an orange peel note.  Nice.

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Back to the reds was the 2006 Chateau des Jacques, Clos de Rochegres, Moulin-A-Vent from Louis Jadot.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from granite soils and aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  What a lovely example of maturing Gamay.  It is still confident and has concentration for many more years of development.  A good surprise.

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Finally, a lovely treat was the 1988 Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes that Shane found in his cabinet.  Maturing in a sense but not too complex yet with focus and acidity to last for a number of years to come.  Has drier flavors.