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You should try the 2016 Agrina, Portuguiser from Serbia

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The 2016 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is in fine form.  It reminds me of a traditionally made wine with its lifted strawberry flavors that are mouth filling yet not weighed down.  It has depth yet is not tiring to drink.  Now it is a bit prickly on the tongue, which distracted Jenn, but if that is acceptable then the flavors will transport you somewhere else. You may find this fun wine at MacArthur Beverages.

2016 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine is very lively on the tongue, just on the side of prickly which provides ample feeling on the tongue.  There is bright red fruit that is quite deep in flavor that resolves into lifted, ripe strawberry over black fruit notes.  It is mineral by the finish with an ethereal, sweet aftertaste.  Very satisfying.  *** Now – 2018.

Wines From France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Serbia, and More!

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This post features a diverse selections of wines presented in order of preference.  The 2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga is interesting not just for its use of the ancient Verduno Pelaverga grape but also its lovely nose of white pepper and intriguing cinnamon note.  I can attest that I never had a wine from the Somontano DOC until I opened the 2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano.  It offers blue and black fruit with good structure and minerals at a very attractive price point.  The 2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres should have broader appeal than the admittedly funky 2009 vintage that I recommended.  The recently arrived 2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone is a strong value with its red fruit and hints of earth.  You may drink it now but it would be interesting to see what it tastes like next year.

The 2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora is still a good wine at its price point but lacks the control of the previous vintage.  The 2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley is another solid value but I still wait for another 2007 equivalent. The 2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas was the second wine I have tasted from this estate.  If you have not drunk a Texan wine then this is worth the experience.    Finally, the 2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete was strange and despite the attention, it was dumped.  The McPherson was purchased at Cordial Fine Wine and Spirits, I believe the Massaya was purchased at Total Wine and the remaining bottles from MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 G.B. Burlotto, Verduno Pelaverga – $19
Imported by Elite Wines Imports.  This wine is 100% Verduno Pelaverga.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There were fresh aromas of white pepper and general evocations of Cabernet Franc.  In the mouth were tart red flavors, pepper, and a drying nature.  The black and red fruit had very moderate grip, some lift, and a hint of dried green herbs.  The finish was minerally followed by an intriguing note of cinnamon and ripe fruit in the expansive aftertaste.  The flavors turned blacker with air.  *** Now-2019.

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2011 Lamarca, Ojo de Liebre, Somontano – $13
Imported by The Spanish Wine Importers. This wine is a blend of 80% Trempranillo and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was of sweet, macerated berries and mulberry.  The wine developed structure with some extract which counterbalanced the slightly billowy flavors of blue and black fruit.  It had very fine tannins, black stones in the finish, and hints of graphite.  It became a little savory.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2019.

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2010 Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie, Corbieres – $16
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault which were partially destemmed then co-fermented.  It was aged in tank.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was woodsy with Kirsch and raspberry aromas.  The mouth followed the nose and was quite approachable.  There was some funky ripe fruit, black minerals, and satisfying round tannins.  It became a softer wine with air, blacker with low-lying violets.  There was a good finish with firm tannins.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 Famille Lancon a Solitude, Cotes du Rhone – $13
Imported by Langdon Shiverick.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore delicate ripe aromas of fresh strawberry and cherry.  In the mouth were fresh red fruit and cherry that was roundish but had some solidity.  The fruit seamlessly mixed with  the acidity making way to a ripe and fresh strawberry finish.  There was a hint of citrus and a little earth with air.  Strong value.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of ripe strawberries.  In the mouth were round, puffy flavors that were quite forward.  There was some tang to the wine and texture on the tongue.  The tart aftertaste  brought some cranberry-strawberry flavors and hints of minerals.  A tasty wine but a little too loose.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 Massaya, Classic, Bekaa Valley – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were more berry and tooty-fruity flavors that had some freshness.  With air, there was a spicy bit with acidity on the front-middle of the tongue then black fruit with some minerals before a little grainy, macerated berry flavor came out.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 McPherson, Tre Colore, Texas – $18
This wine is a blend of 62% Mourvedre, 27% Carignan, and 11% Viognier.  Alcohol 13.9%.  There were wafting aromas of macerated berries.  Billowy.  There was a riper start in the mouth with strawberry notes before the flavors became redder and riper.  It turned softer in the short finish.  There were no hard edges but could use more acidity for verve.  ** Now.

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2007 Manousakis Winery, Nostos, Crete – $18
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Roussanne.  Alcohol 14%.  There were tangy flavors  of red and black fruit.  The wine became citric and sharp towards the finish as the acidity became quite noticeable.  There were potpourri notes in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was woodsy and yeasty.  Strange.  * Now.

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Three Recent Drinks From Austria, Serbia, and Spain

November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I recommend you try the first two wines featured in today’s post.  The 2007 Vina Budimir, Triada, Zupa is a good introduction to the grape Prokupac.  The extended aging has left a very approachable wine with the flavors of black fruit and cherries mixed with a wood note.  It is slightly different in flavor profile but should appeal to many.  The 2011 Terra Personas, Somsis, Tinto Joven, Montsant is all about berry smacking flavor.  One bottle that I tasted on the second night revealed a serious aspect that makes me wonder if this will be even better in the new year. The 2011 Franz & Christine Netzl, Carnuntum Cuvee was a decent drink with outgoing flavors and notes of stone.  It certainly lends an Austrian perspective to things but I would rather drink the less expensive Somsis.   These wines were all purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Vina Budimir, Triada, Zupa – $19
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Prokupac sourced from vines planted in 1935 which was fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts then aged four years in large French and Serbian oak casks.  Alcohol 12.8%.  The nose revealed black floral fruit.  In the mouth were slightly creamy flavors of black fruit.  There was a drying structure of tannins then slightly different flavors which met a wood note.  The wine initially revealed some mature flavors but became youthful with air.  There was a little cherry in the aftertaste.  Drinking well now.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Terra Personas, Somsis, Tinto Joven, Montsant – $13
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of Carinena, Grenacha, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The good nose was a mixture of berries and ripe orange.  The mouth follows the nose with fresh yet weighty berry smacking flavor.  There was black fruit with a minor structure, lovely fruit, a little spice, and citric tannins in the gently structured finish.  **(*) Now-2016.

Misc5

2011 Franz & Christine Netzl, Carnuntum Cuvee, Carnuntum – $15
A KW Selection imported by Select Wines.  This wine is a blend of 40% Zweigelt, 40% Blaufrankisch, and 20% Merlot sourced from 11 year old vines which was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation, and some aging in big oak barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had standup flavors of red and black fruit, finely ripe stones, and almost metallic acidity.  ** Now-2015.

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The Balkan Wine Project: Winery Milijan Jelic and Stobi Winery

November 28, 2012 1 comment

There are several wines from the Balkan Wine Project featured at MacArthur Beverages.  I was already familiar with Stobi Winery in the Republic of Macedonia so I grabbed the latest vintage of the indigenous Vranec.  At $10 this is a well made wine which should appeal to many.  This particular bottling of Vranec sports black fruit but is made in a modern style with tame tannins.  I would give it a bit of air before drinking.

Winery Milijan Jelic was a new winery for me.  Founded one decade ago the winery farms some 20 hectares of vines much of which are international varietals like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.  However there are some indigenous varietals including Morava.   This varietal was created by Dr. Petar Cindic and Dr. Vlada Kovac of Novi Sad University and is less susceptible to cold temperatures.  The vineyards in the Valjevo experience low temperatures almost down to -30 C.  With this new Morava varietals no treatments are required to protect it.  To give you a sense of how new this is the first commercially released wine was from the 2005 vintage.  Today Winery Milijan Jelic is unique in that is produces wine from some 10 hectares.  Many thanks to Dragana Milosavljevic for answering my questions.  This is the more interesting and expensive of the two bottles.  It drank well over five nights (there are so many wines to taste these days) so I would buy two bottles: one to serve blind to your friends and another to try in a year or two.  To find these wines check out the newly added Other Regions page at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Winery Milijan Jelic, Morava, Pocerina, Serbia – $24
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Morava which was matured in stainless steel tank.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color is a very light copper straw.  The light to medium strength nose steps out with Muscat, tea, floral, and ripe fruit aromas.  It remains strong after several days.  The mouth follows the nose but is a bit fuller.  There is lively fruit on the tongue from the acidity then drier flavors in the finish where there are chalky minerals.  The long aftertaste brings more dried herbs with air.  There is a lot of presence.  *** Now-2017.

2011 Stobi Winery, Vranec, Traditional, Tikves, Republic of Macedonia – $10
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Vranec which was aged for eight months in 1,000 and 2,500 L French oak casks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a medium purple cherry.  The nose is light with a little vanilla cream and holiday-spiced berries.  In the mouth the wine is a touch smooth with high-toned black fruit and some concentration towards the finish.  There is acidity, focused flavors, and a delicate powdery flavor.  With air some tartness develops.  This well made wine tasted young and modern.  ** Now-2017.

I Get Fooled by Hard Cider

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This past weekend a small group of us gathered for a wine tasting and dinner at Lou’s house. There was no set theme this time but it did not take us long to figure out our contributions. Jenn particularly liked the 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser we recently tasted so she suggested we bring that and another Balkan wine. So I added in the 2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa and 2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar to round things out. With two wines from Serbia and one from Lebanon we were sure to shake things up.

We started with the Domaine Overnoy-Crinquand, Rose Brut so I did not bother to take a note. The second wine, Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres was flawed. With the Domaine des Baumard flawed Lou quickly returned with a replacement. I was stumped and kept thinking it was some weird white wine from Pennsylvania. The wine was revealed to be Hard Cider from Maryland! Upon revisiting I could get the apple skins. With such a twist it was already a fun tasting!

We then moved downstairs into the tasting room to taste through the five red wines. The first wine was immediately obvious to me (having recently tasted it) as the Agrina, Portuguiser. It was a polarizing wine with half of us loving it and the other half not. The Paveil de Luze showed quite well at first with classic wood box aromas. It was less opulent than other 2009s and has a structure that will allow it to benefit from cellaring. The Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa is still young with a core of fruit that is still tight with tannins to match. The flavors are good but I would be inclined to cellar this as well. The Domaine Saint Damien was lovely, captivated everyone right away, and was the first to be finished. It continued to develop over the evening with intact bottles likely to do so for several years. It is a treat now but I would wait five years. The Chateau Musar, Hochar developed over the evening in fits and starts. I initially thought it quite soft and a bit disappointing so I rated it two stars. Upon revisiting it had fleshed out becoming enlivened by its acidity. On the second night, without any gas, it drank great. Who knows, this wacky wine might outlive all of the others. Jenn and I were getting ready to take off so I only briefly tasted the Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux. Lou continued the cider theme by producing a vintage bottle of Ice Cider from Quebec! Take my note and rating for what its worth and certainly do not expect to switch your Sauternes with Ice Cider. But if you like Cider and apples this is pretty cool stuff. I can almost imagine why fruit wines were so popular centuries ago. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions and to Lou for both hosting and pulling out interesting drinks.

Lou double-decanted the Domaine Saint Damien one and a half hours before the tasting. I double-decanted the Vino Budimir and Chateau Musar one hour prior with the Agrina just half an hour. Everything else was opened shortly before tasting. All beverages were served blind except for the Domaine Cordiere Pere et Fils and the Domaine Lafrance. Please find my notes below in the order tasted.

2005 Domaine des Baumard, Savennieres
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies. This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc. Alcohol 13%. The color was a light yellow straw. There was a stinky, foxy nose,….bad yuck. Flawed.

NV Distillery Lane Ciderworks, The Jefferson Hard Cider, Maryland
This cider is made from pressed Newtown Pippins which were aged in American oak. Alcohol 7.3%. The color was a light golden-yellow, a touch cloudy. The medium strength nose revealed dried apricot, sweeter aromas, and floral hints. In the mouth the flavors were much drier and lighter, with a hint of citrus. It started off lively then faded towards the finish. After the reveal I picked up apple skin on the nose. * Now.

2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Portuguiser. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium ruby. The light to medium nose was scented with berry-liscious aromas. In the mouth this wine offered up bright, concentrated flavors of berries, some tartness, and lifted perfume. Very fruit driven. *** Now-2014.

2009 Chateau Paveil de Luze, Margaux
Imported by Calvert-Woodley. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was light to medium grapey ruby. The nose was Bordeaux like with black red fruit, wood box, and a little texture. In the mouth the flavors were savory, a little lighter than the nose indicated, and focused. There were tart black fruits, minerals, wood box, and acidity from the start. This was nice with integrated tannins and flavors that, with air, became drier. I would cellar it a few years. On the second night the nose was higher toned with tart black fruit in the mouth, a dry quality…basically shutdown, needs some age. *** 2015-2025.

2007 Vino Budimir, Sub Rosa, Zupa, Serbia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 60% Prokupac and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon which were fermented with indigenous yeasts. The Prokupac was aged for three years in 3000 L oak casks and the Cabernet Sauvignon in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was medium garnet. The light, tight nose bore interesting aromas which I could not describe. In the mouth there was ripe, focused fruit, a little spicy, and the impression of a young wine. The core of fruit was a bit wound up but still had a lifted quality before the flavors dried and faded a little bit. This was grapey with ripe tannins, and brighter, powdery red fruit in the finish and a racy, black aftertaste. On the second night the nose was very grapey. The mouth still had good ripe, concentrated fruit but the tannins structure stepped up. *** 2014-2022.

2006 Domaine Saint Damien, Cuvee La Louisane, Gigondas
Imported by Premier Cru. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache (planted in 1942), 15% Mourvedre (planted in 1977), and 5% Cinsault (planted in 1951) and Syrah sourced from parcels on the mid-hills at La Louisiane. It was fermented for six weeks in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. The color was light to medium ruby garnet. The nose was light with black-red fruit, a touch of sweet vanilla, and with air it reminded me of Bordeaux. In the mouth there was ripe, concentrated fruit, lifted minerally flavors, tannins, and enjoyable texture. Simply a really nice wine to drink with great potential. ***(*) Now-2027.

2007 Chateau Musar, Hochar, Bekaa Valley
Imported by Broadbent Selections. This wine is a blend of 30% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carignan which was aged in oak barrels for nine months. Alcohol 13.5% The color was light garnet. The medium strength nose revealed minerally black, sweet fruit; generally nice nose with older notes. In the mouth there was red fruit and maple, soft in feel with acidity towards the end. There was some complexity but softness prevailed before an aftertaste with a little firmness. Upon revisiting the wine had fleshed out with air to become quite lively and fuller. On the second night the nose was still smelling good with vintage cherry candy. In the mouth there was dark red fruit with a similar vintage perfume note, black and red fruit, acidity which mixed with black fruit followed by interesting tannins. *** Now-2017 (perhaps longer).

2010 Domaine Cordier Pere et Fils, En Faux, Saint Veran
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was fermented in oak. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a very light golden straw. The medium strength nose reminded me of masa. The mouth followed the nose with moderate mouthfeel, good weight, and a sense of richness. Uniquely enjoyable. Not Rated.

2007 Domaine Lafrance, Cuvee Speciale, Ice Cider Quebec – (200mL)
From apples harvested in January which are then fermented in vat. It takes 60 apples to produce 375mL. Alcohol 10.5%. The color was a very light golden amber. The medium strength nose revealed potpourri, old perfume, and some aromas not encountered before. In the mouth this medium bodied cider bore similar flavors with tart fruit, apple acidity, and plenty of acidity in the aftertaste. Showed better integration on the third night with almost syrupy body that made way to tart fruit and integrated acidity. ***?? Now-??.

The Balkan Wine Project: 2011 Agrina, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora, Serbia

November 19, 2012 1 comment

The alternative selection of wines at MacArthur Beverages has steadily increased over the past year.  This is represented by an increased diversity from Greece, Switzerland, Georgia, Mexico, Jura, and now the Balkans.  The Balkan Wine Project is an effort by Winebow to import and highlight interesting wines from the Balkans.  This project currently offers selections from Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia.  In the future it will expand to include Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Slovenia.  Last December I first tasted a wine from La Francuska Vinarija, Serbia and this summer I attended a comprehensive tasting of Republic of Macedonian wines at the embassy.  This left me curious about the region. When I saw the Balkan Wine Project section at the store I quickly grabbed several different bottles including the one featured in today’s post.

Vineyard at Mackov Podrum, Image from Mackov Podrum

The owners of Mackov Podrum are part of a family that have been producing wine for generations.  The Memijevo vineyard became part of the family in 1926 and today is the location where the Portuguiser fruit for this wine is sourced from.  The vineyards are located on slopes at 280-320 meters on the Fruska Gora mountains.  The Portuguiser based wines were originally harvested in August then drunk in November during the wedding season.  This contemporary version is very much berry fruit driven for current consumption but has a moderate structure that allowed it to drink well un-gassed over two nights.  I certainly recommend you try this wine.  Simply pull the cork and share with friends.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Agrina, Mackov Podrum, Portuguiser, Fruska Gora – $13
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Portuguiser.  Alcohol 13%.  The color is a light+ bright ruby red.  The light nose is incensed with ripe red fruit.  In the mouth there is supple, ripe, red fruit, sweet orange citrus, and powdery black and red fruit in the aftertaste.  The is some initial weight to the wine with ripe, berrylicious flavors, which simplify towards the finish.  In the aftertaste the wine is a little tart with ripe, citric tannins.  ** Now-2014.

A Serbian Wine From La Francuska Vinarija

December 2, 2011 6 comments

Estelle and Cyrille, La Francuska Vinarija

Francuska Vinarija was founded in July 2008 by Estelle Germaine and Cyrille Bongiraud.  Estelle’s family has long ties to the wines of Burgundy.  Her great-aunt was mother superior of Hospice de Beaune.  Along with her grandfather and father, she spent seven years working their 17 hectare vineyard in Chorey-le-Beaune.  Cyrille is a vineyard soil analyst and has traveled through Italy, Spain, and Oregon for research.

Gravity Fed Grapes, Image from La Francuska Vinarija

The winery and vineyards are located in the village of Rodljevo.  Located in a valley near the borders of Romania and Bulgaria it is home to some 300 stone cellars.  Today there are 60 hectares of vines owned by the residents.  The vineyards are interspersed amongst gardens, orchards, and forests.

Ljubivoje's Wife in Vineyard, Image from La Francuska Vinarija

Only traditional copper and sulphur are administered. The grapes are harvested by hand and placed in small 20-kg wooden crates.  They are gravity fed into the tanks where they are fermented with only the natural yeasts.  The wines are aged for 8 to 14 months in Burgundian barrels.  It is then bottled without fining or filtration and only a touch of sulphur.

Cave, Image from La Francuska Vinarija

This bottle by Francuska Vinarija is imported by Williams Corner Wine and available for $23 at MacArthurs.  I had no idea what to expect from this bottle.  Both Jenn and I were quite pleased and happily drank glass after glass.  This is a well-made wine that will please lovers of Gamay or other high-acidity wines.  While it is perhaps a little bit expensive, I certainly recommend that everyone try one bottle.  As you drink your bottle make sure you check out the Francuska Vinarija website to look at the pictures of the village and residents who work with Estelle and Cyrille.

2008 La Francuska Vinarija, Obecanje, Rogljevo
This wine is 100% Gamay manchot petits grains.  This wine is light-natured with bright red fruit that shows some enjoyable texture.  It is acidity driven with some pepper notes.  Fresh and pleasing, it is quite easy to drink. *** Now.