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A Northern Rhone Tasting with Mosel too

Several months ago we gathered on my back deck to taste through some Northern Rhone wines.  The focus was to be on Cornas and Côte-Rôtie but these wines were soon joined by Champagne (required of course), Hermitage, Mosel, and Paarl. The killer 1998 Dom Perignon, P2 Champagne Brut with its equally impressive gift box was the best wine of the night.  It is drinking spot-on but as it is a different beast, it did not distract from the red wines.

From Cornas, my favorites include the brambly and strong 2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Reynard.  Nearly as good, yet quite different, is the animale, crisp 2001 Dumien-Serrette, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Cornas Patou.  Graphite and vintage perfume add complexity at a reasonable price.

From Côte-Rôtie, my favorite is the 1998 Gilles Barge, Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune.  Floral on the nose, this is an elegant wine with plenty of minerals and violets.  It also yields fat for weight. I kept returning to my glass for another sniff. Of the slew of 1998s, the 1998 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie proved to be mostly reticent but did improve with extended air.  It is meatier and smokier than the Barge.  The pair of 2007s proved excellent too.  The cleaner 2007 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline had my preference tilted towards it for the floral, lifted flavors over the deep base.  There is a lot of material here.  Whereas, the 2007 Bernard Levet, Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche is substantial, yet balanced, with a wild flavor personality.  What a fantastic range of styles from one small region.

We wrapped up the evening with a trio of excellent Mosel Rieslings and a dessert wine from Paarl.  I only took small tastes of these wines so my notes are short.  The two that stand out are the clean and vibrant 2006 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg, Riesling Auslese, Mosel with the lovely 2001 Joh. Jos. Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel.  Many thanks for everyone’s contributions.

Champagne

1998 Dom Perignon, P2 Champagne Brut
Alcohol 12.5%.  Fine bubbles explode, leaving a lovely texture backed by flavors of ripe spices.  The acidity cuts through the end, supporting wood box hints and the creamy, mousse finish. ****(*) Now

Hermitage

1997 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage Blanc le Chevalier de Sterimberg
Golden amber color.  An interesting nose, honied flavors but past prime.  Not Rated.

1997 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage La Chapelle
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons.  Alcohol 13.4%.  Roast earth with fine wood scents.  Light in the mouth with watering acidity, polished wood, and effortless delivery of cherry flavor.  The wine takes on body, which is seductive, but the flavors are rather mature.  *** Now.

1983 E. Guigal, Hermitage
Imported by Classic Wine Imports.  Dead. Not Rated.

Cornas

2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Reynard
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  A brambly nose with interesting aromas including violets.  A sensation of weight greets in this young wine with youthful intensity and hints of yeast.  There is concentration, ripe tannins, and fruit extract with both acidity and tannins in the dry finish and aftertaste.  With air a sage, green herb component develops.  Strength.  **** Now – 2028.

2007 Thierry Allemand, Cornas Chaillot
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Pure in fruit with finely scents aromas of pepper and sweet baking spices.  Grapey fruit in the mouth, black pepper, and tons of texture.  With air it takes on a yeasty Pilsner quality that destroys everything.  Not Rated.

2001 Dumien-Serrette, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, Cornas Patou
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Young with plenty of mouth feel from its citric grip and tannins.  There is graphite and an animale hint in this crisp wine with drier flavors and good presence in the mouth.  It has a lovely vintage perfume aspect that adds complexity to the good flavor.  ***(*) Now – 2033.

Côte-Rôtie

1998 Gilles Barge, Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. The floral, perfumed nose smells great.  In the mouth are focused flavors that build minerality and becoming impressive at the end with good length.  With air elegant hints of fat lend weight and balance the wine.  By the middle, tannins and acidity come out which will see the wine through further development.  A beautiful wine all about minerals and violets.   **** Now – 2023.

1998 Bernard Burgaud, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Very aromatic, meaty, fresh, and notes of vintage perfume.  Yet in the mouth it is tart, grapey, with pervasive earthiness overpowering everything.  Not quite right which is a shame.  Not Rated.

1998 Mathilde et Yves Gangloff, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by Vineyard Road.  The restrained nose remains tight and unyielding but a delicate, floral aroma does escape.  Smoked meats, along with pure, red and black fruits greet.  There is a restrained, tannic structure that smooths out as watering acidity moves the wine into the lipsticky finish.  Right now, this is a wine with ample presence and texture in the mouth.  *** Now – 2028+.

1998 Domaine Jamet, Côte-Rôtie
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections.  Hints of sweet fruit on the nose backed by meat and smoke.  Dense and gentle in the mouth,the textured red fruit become coated with fat.  Beautiful and elegant with fine texture from extract.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

1998 Rene Rostaing, Côte-Rôtie La Landonne
Pure bloody, meat but not much else there on the nose.  Not quite right.  Silky in the mouth with flavors of meat and a short finish.  Not right.  Not Rated.

Mystery Wine – 2012 Halcon, Alturas, Yorkville Highlands Syrah
Alcohol 13.5%.  Purple, grapey nose with gobs of grapey flavors in the mouth.  Hard to transition to but a solid wine.  **(*) Now – 2023.

2007 Guigal, Côte-Rôtie La Mouline
Imported by Vintus.  Alcohol 13%.  A beautiful, floral nose.  Grapey, purple fruit flavors surrounded by fat.  There is a floral lift to the deep, lifted flavors which I prefer over the Levett.  A modern take on Syrah with floral persistence in the finish and aftertaste.  ****(*) Now – 2033.

2007 Bernard Levet, Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  Alcohol 12.5%.  A floral, substantive nose.  In the mouth are fat infused, dense and supple flavors of intertwined black fruit and minerals.  Impressive balance.  It takes on red grapefruit with both animale and sauvage complexity.  The flavors drape over the tongue with weight and seamless body.  There are very fine yet not dry tannins that peak out in the end. **** Now – 2033.

German Riesling

2006 Hofgut Falkenstein, Krettnacher Euchariusberg, Riesling Auslese, Mosel
Alcohol 7%. The lightest color of the trio, almost white.  Clean, residual sugar in the start soon morphs into grapefruit with a tart, vibrantly acidic middle, and tangy finish.  Clean.

2006 Willi Schaefer, Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Alcohol 8%.  A golden color with petrol on the nose.  Some vibranrancy but surprisingly advanced.  Petrol and weight.

2001 Joh. Jos. Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Mosel
A light yellow color.  Hints of petrol along with citrus fruit on the nose.  Very fine textured acidity, lovely.

Dessert

2000 Fairview Wine Estate, Le Beryl Blanc, Paarl
An amber color with flavors of apricots and dried fruit.  Good balance.

A diverse wine selection at The Locke Store in Millwood, VA

The wines of Agrina from Croatia, Burlotto from Italy, and Historic Series Madeira from Portugal may all be found at The Locke Store in Millwood, Virginia.  I found myself in the small community of Millwood as we returned with our daughter from sleepaway camp the other week.  After eating fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert, she was of course, in need of a snack.  The Locke Store was the closest store I could find so through the country road we drove.  What good luck for me as the wine selection is more akin to what I find in Washington, DC, some 60 miles away.

The Locke Store was built in 1836 but it is since 1844 that it has continuously operated as a store until this day.  In 2002, Juliet Mackay-Smith became proprietor, and under her eye a surprisingly diverse wine selection occupies a good portion of the store.  I grabbed several bottles from vintages I had yet to taste.  If you find yourself in the area, perhaps visiting the Burwell-Morgan Mill or Carter Hall, then be sure to store by the store to pick up some wine as well.

2016 Badenhorst Family Wines, Secateurs Vintage Red Wine – $19
Imported by Broadbent Selections.  This wine is a blend of 56% Shiraz, 27% Cinsault, 21% Grenache, and 1% Tinta Barocca.  Alcohol 13%.  The tart berries in the rounded start soon take on flavors of black tea and black fruit.  This is a drier wine but with a good vein of flavor.  Medium bodied with some supportive structure in the middle, this is a solid wine for drinking now.  ** Now – 2019.

2015 Frederick Brouca, Champs Pentus, Faugeres – $20
Imported by Elite Wines.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Carignan.  Alcohol 13%.  Needs some air to come together and shake off a bit of yeast.  It is lively on the tongue, almost with spritz, which moves the wine into a vein of dry, mineral, black flavors.  There is a structure of very fine tannins, almost too powerful when first opened, which eventually balance out due to a developing core of round, cherry flavors upfront.  This should improve once the structure resolves. **(*) Now – 2023.

2015 Chateau Puech-Haut, Le Prestige, Saint-Drezery – $23
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  A cuvee for Philipe Cambie and Eric Solomon.  Alcohol 15%.  A touch earthy with creamy blue fruit that drapes over the tongue due to the lower acidity start.  It transits to a mineral, black finish with a touch more acidity.  Notes of some sweet oak are at the end. This is satisfyingly flavorful wine with minimal tannins that is easy to drink now.  *** Now.

A South African Sauvignon Blanc from 2017

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Given the unusually hot weather in Washington, DC, it is only fair to recommend the crisp 2017 Springfield Estate, Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc, Robertson.  I drank this wine courtesy of my neighbor Taz whose wife kindly carried it back from South Africa.  I cannot think of a wine tasted in recent memory that is so aromatic.  This is a crisp, stone accented wine with a savory edge.  Good stuff!

2017 Springfield Estate, Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc, Robertson
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from 14-20 year old vines grown on soils of 70% slate. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is highly aromatic with pungent notes of fresh grass and fruit.  This is a crisp, fruity with with green tinged fruit and a persistent mineral/stone note.  With a bit of warmth it takes on an attractive savory edge.  *** Now – 2018.

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.

A South African Trio

February 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Our recent exploration of three South African red Bordeaux blend wines began with the 2013 Ridgeback, Journey, Paarl.  This is an effusive wine to drink over the short term.  It should continue to offer up supple flavors of black fruit, and leather for the next few years.  The 2010 Morgenster, Lourens River Valley, Stellenbosch steps things up.  The nose reveals the large inclusion of Cabernet Franc while notes of tobacco and leather reveal the oak aging.  The oak comes across more in flavor than in drying tannins.  I suggest you let this lively blue and black fruited wine rest for a few months then start drinking it over the next few years.  The 2011 Rustenberg, John X Merriman, Stellenbosch is a young, well-made wine that has interesting fruit, fresh acidity, and the structure to develop for several  years.  It will clearly benefit from short-term aging so I suggest you drink the two other wines while this one slumbers in your cellar or fridge.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Ridgeback, Journey, Paarl – $13
Imported by Cape Starz Wine.  This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 16% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14%.  The flavorful, almost effusive wine, has a core of black fruit and picks up some tartness towards the finish. The wine puckers the sides of the tongue before taking some leather.  With air it reveals supple flavors and a note of leather. There is a little bit of spirit in the end.  ** Now – 2018.

SA3

2010 Morgenster, Lourens River Valley, Stellenbosch – $26
Imported by Cape Classics.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Petit Verdot that was fermented in stainless steel then aged 16 months in French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The fresh aromas reminded me of Cabernet Franc, eventually developing hints of tobacco and red plums.  In the mouth were lively flavors of blue and black fruit which were almost supple.  There was a tart red hint.  The wine sported a fine texture and not too much in the way of tannins.  Overall the wine was nicely integrated with smoke and tobacco notes from the oak.  *** Now – 2020.

SA1

2011 Rustenberg, John X Merriman, Stellenbosch – $27
This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% albec.  Alcohol 14%. Imported by the Indigo Wine Group.  The nose was tight with a slight hint of greenhouse in the end.  In the mouth were focused and finely textured flavors of blue fruit that mixed with ripe tannins and dry spices.  Clearly tasting young this has the fruit, fresh acidity, and structure to develop.  With air the wine remains fresh with more concentration, density, and drying structure.  *** 2017-2022.

SA4

Interesting wines from Chile, Greece, Moldova, Romania, and more!

There is no shortage of diversity in the wine selections available in Washington, DC.  If you can only try one wine in today’s post that should be the 2011 Garage Wine Co, Cabernet Franc Lot #36, Maipo Valley, Chile.  Garage Wine Co., produces attractive and unique wines.  While the Cabernet Franc appears to be sold out (the empty bottles were packed in the move so I am not timely) the Carignan is still available.  From Greece, I certainly recommend the orange citrus flavors of the 2011 Domaine Zafeirakis, Limniona, Thessaly, Greece.  Continuing with the indigenous vein then you should check out the exotic nose of the 2011 Hereditas, Babeasca Neagra, Romania.  Finally, the 2013 Pieter Cruythoff, Pinotage Middelpos, Swartland, South Africa offers bitters like flavors making it a Pinotage like no other. I’ll grant that it is a bit polarizing but any intrepid drinker should pick up a bottle.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

GarageWine1

2011 Garage Wine Co, Carignan Lot #34, Maule Valley, Chile – $32
Imported by SWG Imports.  Alcohol 14.3%.  Aromas of raspberry candy made way to dense flavors with the texture of an unfiltered wine.  This showed more acidity with tart cherry flavor and red fruit through the end.  The wine built flavor with time showing both ripe and citric flavors including raspberry followed by a lipsticky finish.  *** Now – 2018.

GarageWine2

2011 Garage Wine Co, Cabernet Franc Lot #36, Maipo Valley, Chile – $32
Imported by SWG Imports.  Alcohol 14.3%.  The raspberry aromas mixed with herbaceous notes and tobacco.  In the mouth were ripe and dense flavors that combined an herbaceous hint.  This savory wine had a lot of chewy flavors accented by chocolate before the not too bitter finish.  With air it showed complexity in the way of forest notes and perhaps tar.  ***(*) 2016-2022.

Diverse5

2013 Pieter Cruythoff, Pinotage Middelpos, Swartland, South Africa – $18
Imported by Kyslea Pere et Fils.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a complex nose of bitters and red fruit.  The aromas echoed in the mouth with ripe then dry, grippy flavors.  The structure came out as rather fine, drying tannins.  The wine was simultaneously tart, ripe, grippy, and creamy with greenhouse notes and cocktail bitters.  It morphed towards blue fruit in the finish.  Ultimately, the wine showed a ripe core of fruit surrounded by powdery, dry, and finely textured tannins.  Different! *** Now-2018.

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2013 Et Cetera, Cuvee Rouge, Moldova – $19
Imported by Sarego Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Saperavi, and 5% Rara Neagra that was aged in Hungarian and American oak barrels. Alcohol 13.0%.  In the mouth were ripish, red fruit around a core of watering acidity.  As the wine progressed it came dry with black flavors, textured tannins, and a dry, graphite finish.  Overall this is a young that develops a strong nature.  ** Now – 2018.

Diverse2

2012 Groot Constantia, Shiraz, South Africa – $17
Imported by Indigo Wine Group.  Alcohol 14%.  There were smoky aromas of black fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tight with ripe flavors that built in strength.  The black fruit continued with some camphor and fresh, greenhouse notes.  This young wine textured, floral impressions.  ** Now 2019.

Diverse4

2011 Hereditas, Babeasca Neagra, Romania – $11
Imported by A&M Imports.  This wine is 100% Babeasca Neagra.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was different and exotic with both floral and citrus note.  In the mouth the dry, blue and black fruit was supported by a drying, black structure.  The wine was spritely on the tongue tip with some baking spices, young tannins on the gums, and good texture.  The finish was a bit short before the refreshing aftertaste.  ** Now-2017.

Diverse3

2013 Chateau Vartely, Sec Rosu, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moldova – $8
Imported by Salveto Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose smelled of slightly inky bell peppers.  In the mouth were flavors of ripe, blue fruit, and green peppers.  With air the cool, blue fruit fleshed out a bit.  While not indicative of any particular place, it is a solid drink for the price.  * Now.

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2011 Domaine Zafeirakis, Limniona, Thessaly, Greece – $20
Imported by Oenos LLC.  This wine is 100% Limniona.  Alcohol 13%.  The wine developed tart, red fruit with just a slight, liveliness on the tongue despite being acidity driven.  It developed a fine ripe set of light, orange-citrus flavors and black fruit that left impressions of ripeness on the gums.  The wine had a lighter, lift of creamy flavors towards the finish and ultimately, an attractive bit of ink.  **(*) 2016-2019.

Compelling Shiraz from Stellenbosch

We continue to oscillate between our old and new houses.  Today it was to check in on the refinished floors which look great now that they are done.  With my attention drawn to the new house the wines I open are more random in selection.  Tim recently brought in several new South African wines with the 2010 Tokara, Shiraz, Stellenbosch one of them.  This is my favorite of a trio Jenn and I tasted through.  I found that the subtle influences of saddle leather, smoke, and earth already add complexity. The wine is a bit firm from youth so you should try a bottle now to satisfy your curiosity then cellar several more bottles for the winter.  At $19 per bottle this is a good value.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Tokara, Shiraz, Stellenbosch – $19
Imported by Dreyfus Ashby & Co.  This wine is a blend of 89% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre that was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and oak foudres then aged for 18 months in 10% new French barriques.  Alcohol 15%.  Aromas of saddle leather made way to black fruit with a touch of smoke.  With air, the very ripe core of fruit took on a subtle earthy hint.  It showed more acidity and firmness in the finish.  Overall, this compelling wine was concentrated, salty, persistent, and in need of just a bit more aging.  *** 2016-2020.

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