Posts Tagged ‘Southern Rhone’

A Tasting at MacArthurs with Fran Kysela

September 16, 2011 2 comments

This past Saturday I managed to arrive at MacArthur’s in time for their afternoon tasting with Fran Kysela.  He was recently nominated by The Wine Enthusiast magazine for Wine Importer of the year.  Coupled with the fact that Jenn and I drink a lot of the wine he imports, I was particularly excited to attend.  Both Fran and Jeremy Sutton poured wine and chatted about the eclectic range of wine on offer from France, Germany, Australia, and South Africa.  The 11 wines ranged in prices from $11 to $32.  With such diversity there were surely favorites for all who attended.

The Lineup

I spent most of my time chatting with Jeremy, Phil, and eventually meeting Fran.  I was rather enjoying their company, myself, and the wine so I did not bother to take any formal notes.  I should hope that I get to taste wine with them again as they both amiable and there is much I could learn from Fran.  I have already posted notes on two of the selections, tasted at home from full bottles, and will eventually get notes up on some of the other selections.  My overall impression was one of good, fresh aromatics followed by clean, pure fruit flavors.  You may read about my individual impressions below.  I rather liked the Sancerre, went back for more of both Mordoree Liracs, felt the Thorn Clarke Quartage is a great bargain, and would like to restaste the Mullineux again in the near future.

2010 Jean Reverdy, La Reine Blanche, Sancerre
This was enjoyable with its aromatic floral nose and core of sweet fruit.  Not Rated.

2009 Gaudrelle, Clos de Vigneau, Vouvray
This is dry with hints of residual sugar with smooth flavors of stone fruits.  Not Rated.

2010 Bastgen, Riesling, Qba Blauschlefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
This was clean, fresh, leaning towards citrus flavors and some minerals.  I only had a tiny sip but this seemed like a solid wine for the price, if not exciting.  Not Rated.

2010 Mordoree, Rose, La Dame Rousse, Tavel
This sports ripe red fruit and has a lovely mouthing coating aftertaste.  Not Rated.

2009 Mordoree, La Dame Rousse, Lirac
This had been open for some time and was showing quite well.  You may read my impression of a bottle drunk in May hereNot Rated.

2009 Segries, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone
This was consistent with an earlier impression of rich blue fruits, youthful tannins, and a contemporary profile.  Earlier this month we drank a bottle and I published a note hereNot Rated.

2009 Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage
The weakest of the reds, reminded me of a light Crozes.  Available for $25 I would spend $3 to purchase the outstanding 2009 Colombier, Cuvee GabyNot Rated.

2009 Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Lirac
This was lovely and quite approachable.  Richer than La Dame Rousse but with primary red fruit, a creamier texture, and balance.  This will age for some time.  Not Rated.

2008 Thorn Clarke, Shotfire, Quartage, Barossa Valley
This was soft, savory, subtle with dark fruits.  Strong value.  We recently drank a bottle and I will post a note soon.  Not Rated.

2009 Thorn Clarke, Shotfire, Shiraz, Barossa Valley
This showed black fruit, youthful flavors, richer than the Quartage but less evolved.  I preferred the Quartage.  Not Rated.

2008 Mullineux,  Syrah, Swartland
This showed dark fruit, some herbs, plenty of acidity, structure from oak but in a balanced manner.  I was rather surprised and pleased.  Tasted blind I would not have guessed South Africa.  Not Rated.

2004 Mourchon, Grande Reserve and 2005 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins

September 16, 2011 2 comments

These two bottles were purchased this summer at MacArthur’s after they completed their annual inventory.  I always make sure to peruse their online inventory for bargains.  Having drunk other vintages there was no thought required to purchase the 2004 Mourchon, Grande Reserve for $17 and the 2005 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins for $13.  The Mourchon was imported by MacArthurs and the Grand Veneur was imported by Kysela Pere & Fils.  We drank several bottles of the Grand Veneur that showed some bottle variation.  At best this is a wonderful drink and an absolute steal at the price.  The good wines of Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages really do age for five to ten years.  Make sure you squirrel away the 2009s and 2010s that are currently available.

2004 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This bottle was interesting.  It was still youthful with light tannins throughout.  The fruit started out with puckering red flavors that changed to blue fruits with spicy notes before the finish.  The texture was gritty.  With air, incense developed along with buttered pumpkin notes.  Jenn noted a “Pilsner beer aftertaste” that mixed with the smoke flavor.  This does not have the power nor the tannins of the other vintages.   You may find my post on the 2005-2007 vintages here. *** Now-2015.

2005 Domaine Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone
This was drunk over two nights.  On the second night there were flavors of blue fruits, stones, some roasted earth, and a little wood.  This was not lush but structured in a pleasing manner.  The aftertaste left impressions of dusty herbs.  I would drink this over the next several years.  You may find my post on the 2009 here. *** Now-2015.

2009 Segries, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone

September 8, 2011 2 comments

This is a recent release for the DC market.  Having received 93 points from Robert Parker, Paul’s Wine and Spirits sent out a few emails that caused them to sell out of their stock.  This wine is imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  I purchased a bottle a few weeks ago from MacArthurs and we recently pulled the cork.  You may find background information in my review of the 2003 Segries, Clos de l’Hermitage .  This is a good wine that shows a modern flavor profile but retains the structure for aging and herbs which remind me of the 2003.  Priced at $25 it is a bit on the expensive side.  If you buy the 2009 I would feel free to try a bottle but it really requires cellaring for several years.

2009 Segries, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone
In the glass the color is youthful with a medium intensity grapey color.  There is a light, sweet, delicate, powdery nose.  In the mouth there are rich blue fruits, a little spice, “something else”, and stone dust.  The fine, hard tannins delicately exist throughout the palate.  The aftertaste provides fine, coating tannins.  This is a fuller-bodied wine that has the components to develop for several years and last for some time.  It is a bit modern. ***(*) 2015-2020.

2003 Dme Santa Duc, Gigondas and 2004 Mas de Daumas Gassac

September 2, 2011 1 comment

These selections were recently purchased from MacArthur’s.  I grabbed the last four bottles of 2003 Santa Duc at $22 and the last bottle of Daumas Gassac for $34.  I had also purchased the last bottle of 2004 Santa Duc but that turned out to be corked. Bummer!  The Santa Duc is lovely.  I suspect will develop for a few more years and last many more.  The Daumas Gassac was good, I think Jenn enjoyed it more than I did, but at this price point it is not the best value.  The back label suggest the mature phase is between 7 to 25 years of age.  Perhaps I should have waited?

2003 Domaine Santa Duc, Gigondas
This wine has a lovely nose of incensed blue and red fruits.  In the mouth there is a ripe burst of fruit followed by garrigue.  It opened up over several hours and on the second night the blue fruit flavors mixed with a lovely minerality.  There are ample rugged grape tannins mixed with wood tannins but the blue fruits handle it well.  The tannins are persistant and stick to ones lips. ***(*) Now-2022.

2004 Mas de Daumas Gassac, VDP de l’Herault
This is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 4% Pinot Noir, and 3% Syrah.  The wine was aged in oak barrels for 18 months.  This wine has a gentle nose.  In the mouth there are flavors of tart, light, red fruit and tea leaves in this lighter bodied wine.  It is almost Burgundian.  With air bits of spicey alcohol and notes of tobacco come out.  This is a balanced and easy to drink wine.  I have no experience drinking older vintages so why not age it some more? **(*)? 2015-2020?

2001 and 2003 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Gigondas

We never give up an opportunity to drink bottles of Gigondas with some age.  The wine from this region age well, are robust, and the base cuvees are affordably priced.  So when I saw these older vintage of Chateau de Saint Cosme on the MacArthur’s website, I headed off to the store.  These wines are both blends of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault.  They were aged in 60% used wood barrels and 40% tanks. The 2003 vintage started with a high water table followed by a long, hot summer.  These conditions favored old vines and resulted in ample amounts of ripe tannins.  The 2001 vintage was quite normal but a dry, heat spike in August caused some vines to block ripening.  John Livingstone-Learmonth characterized Gigondas as having better integrated tannins because there was less blocking.

What do we think?  Well, the 2001 is more integrated at this point and the first bottle that we finished.  For that reason I would give it a slight bump above the 2003.  The later reveals its hot origins.  While it is rustic, though not in an old-school style, the ample flavors of garrigue, minerals, and saltiness are quite attractive.  You could drink this vintage with fatty meats on a chilly night.  The 2001 is available for $35 and the 2003 for $30 at MacArthur’s.  I recommend both and think they are appropriately priced.

2003 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Gigondas
This wine had a nose of lovely, scented garrigue.  This wine was richer with ample amounts of garrigue and minerals.  The hard red fruits stood up to the good amount of aggressive tannins that made way to a dark aftertaste.  On the second night a salty attack developed followed by garrigue, hard red fruits, dusty stone flavors, and tannins.

2001 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Gigondas
This nose revealed soft red fruits and herbs.  In the mouth there were more red fruits, maturing dried herbs, darker red fruits in the finish, and a tart profile.  After 2-3 hours of air sweet herbs complemented a bit of spiciness as enjoyable grapey tannins coated the side of the mouth.

Two Cotes du Rhones from 2001 and 2005

August 17, 2011 1 comment

The Rhone Glacier and The Source of the Rhone, William Pars, 1770-1, British Museum

These were recent selections that I bought from MacArthur’s.  The Tardieu-Laurent was on the order of $15-$17 and the Domaine La Garrigue was $15.  I love drinking Cotes du Rhone wines because they are quite affordable even with some age to them.  For my money I would pass on the Tardieu-Laurent and grab the Domaine La Garrigue.  The later has more personality right now.

2001 Tardieu-Laurent, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone
This wine had a light nose of earth and cedar with a touch of herbs.  In the mouth the soft flavors follow the nose with a core of red fruit and cedar.  The slightly gritty texture has light tannins.  The fruit lightens up through the course of the wine and are starting to fade.  The wine stopped developing after 30 minutes.  I would recommend drinking up this wine but there is no rush because it will just slowly decline for years to come.

2005 Domaine de la Garrigue, Cuvee Romaine, Cotes du Rhone
This cuvee is a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah from 60-90 year old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in 80% tank and 20% oak. It was made by Philippe Cambie.  This wine sports a nose of strapping blue fruits and herbs.  In the mouth the flavors start off soft but firm up after two hours.  The are dark blue fruits and minerals delivered in a lively vein but there is a hard profile to the wine.  There are fine to medium tannins.  This brambly wine has athletic power, I would give it another year or drink it during cold weather when you need bracing.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas

Excerpt from France Revised, John Speed, London 1676

We always enjoy trying a wine from Gigondas.  If you look closely at this map you can find the town of Gigondas.  The image is bisected by the Rhone river with the mouth between the words “The” and “Parts”.  As you follow the river north, one-third of the way you will find Avignon.  A little further up is Orange with Gigondas lying to the east.  It bumps into the rose colored border of Provence.

Gigondas and Vineyards, Image from Ch St Cosme

Louis Barruol took over Chateau du Saint Cosme in 1992, relieving his father Henri from 30+ years of dedication.  Much of the production had been sold to negociants but Louis decided to increase the amount of wine bottled from the estate’s old vines.  This selection represents a taste of Louis’ initial efforts to improve the quality of the estate.  This selection is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault from vines that averaged 40-5o years of age.  The wine was aged for 18 months with 75% in stainless steel vats and 25% in 4-year-old barrels.

Louis Barroul, Image from Ch St Cosme

I bought, along with some other vintages, from MacArthur’s.  My familiarity with Gigondas starts with the 1998 vintage so I was particularly excited to try this wine.  While 1995 was a particularly strong vintage, this wine has already reached maturity and is in slow decline.  For lovers of fully mature wine there is plenty of life left but those who prefer fruit will find this too old.

1995 Chateau du Saint Cosme, Gigondas
This nose reveals fully mature aromas of beef, blood, and other roast meats.  In the mouth the mature flavors are earthy and soft with blue fruits that mix with minerals.  The finish left impressions of roast earth.  On the second night the wine was a lighter version of itself.  It became more coarse with the addition of sour red berries in the finish.  There are tea leaves in the long, gentle aftertaste.

2004 and 2007 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone

August 9, 2011 1 comment

Domaine Saint-Damien is run by Joel and Amie Saurel.  The Saurel family had been tending vineyards for four generations and selling all of the grapes to negociants.  In 1978 Joel and his brother began to bottle wine produced from their vineyards.  The brothers split in 1987 with Joel staying at the domaine.  Because he primarily worked the vineyards the grapes were once again sold to negocients.  In 1996 he resumed producing wine at the estate and in 1998 they brought on consulting winemaker Philippe Cambie.  Today the estate is comprised of 42 acres of vineyards of which 30 are in Gigondas.  The domaine has started the biodynamic certification process which should be completed in 2013.

Joel Saurel, Image from Dme St-Damien

They produce two Cotes du Rhone cuvees Vieilles Vignes and La Bouveau.  In this post I review two vintages of the Vieilles Vignes.  This cuvee is a blend of ~80% Grenache, ~15% Carignan, and ~5% Mourvedre.  The grapes are sourced from parcels located on the Plan de Dieu near the commune of Violes.  The Plan de Dieu is a vast, wind-swept plain that extends west of Gigondas.  The soils are stony with deposits.  The Grenache vines were planted in 1959, the Carignan in 1948, and the Mourvedre in 1978.  The grapes are fermented in concrete vats then aged for six months in concrete vats.  The wine is bottled without fining or filtering.

Plan de Dieu, Image from Au Plaisir du Vin

I bought both of these wines from MacArthur’s.  The 2004 was purchased four years ago for $11 whereas the 2007 is currently available for $15.  We have drunk several bottles of 2007 since release and it is slowly opening up.  I think these are interesting, affordable wines from Cotes du Rhone that benefit from aging.  I would recommend trying the 2007 again in two to four years.  Note, some people might find the spritz off-putting.

2007 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone
This wine threw sediment similar to the 2004.  There is a ripe nature to the aromas that jump out of the glass.  There is a subdued spritzy feeling that was consistent throughout the evening.  Every bottle I have drunk has been a little prickly or spritzy.  There are plenty of red and blue flavors that are sweeter and riper than the 2004.  Notes of incense come out as gobs of fine, drying tannins coat the mouth.

2004 Domaine Saint-Damien, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone
This wine has thrown healthy amount of very fine tannins.  There is a nose of red plums.  In the mouth it is very youthful, with slightly chewy flavors of cranberry and red fruits with a hint of grapefruit.  The delicate spice mixed with fine coating tannins.   With air the fruit fades a bit as grapey flavor develop along with more spices.  There are hints of mature flavors.  This wine will clearly drink for many years to come.

2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras

August 3, 2011 1 comment

Vines from Vacqueyras, Image from Dme Charbonniere

Domaine de la Charbonniere was founded in 1912 when Eugen Maret bought it as a gift for his wife, who was the daughter of a local winemaker.  The domaine is named after the lieux-dit Carbonniere, or place where charcoal was burned.  Three generations later Michel now runs the estate.  This estate makes both Chateauneuf du Pape and Vacqueyras.  They primarily produce Chateauneuf du Pape with five cuvees from 17 hectares of vineyards.  This post is concerned with the Vacqueyras cuvee which is sourced from a single 4 hectare vineyard and not the Vacqueras Cuvee Speciale.

Wood Vats, Image from Dme Charbonniere

Vacqueyras lies on a north-south orientation with the town of Vacqueyras anchoring the northern end and the town of Sarrians anchoring the southern end.  The best vineyards are located on the Plateau de Garrigues near Sarrians.  For this cuvee, the grapes are sourced from a single vineyard on the “Hautes Garrigues”.  This vineyard is composed of red chalky calcareous soils with pebbles.  The vines range in age from 20 to 35 years. 

Hautes Garrigues de Sarrians, Image by Veronique Pagnier (wikimedia)

This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that was aged for 6-8 months in big oak tanks.  I recently purchased this bottle from MacArthur’s for the terrific price of $15.  This wine will undoubtedly last many more years but I see no reason not to drink it now.  If I recall correctly, it is not up to the level of the 2005.  Fortunately we have a few bottles of the 2005 so later this month we will conclusively find out!

2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
This bottle was in great shape.  The wine still showed dark red fruit that developed weight over several hours.  There were ample notes of stones mixed in throughout the palate.  Towards the finish there were flavors of licorice along with gritty, sweet tannins that coat the mouth.  The tannins were almost chewy and quite enjoyable.

2007 Domaine Santa Duc, Les Aubes, Vacqueyras

Domaine Santa Duc produces many wines that I enjoy.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah sourced from les Aubes and la Ponche in Vacqueyras.  The les Aubes parcel has sandy slopes.  The le Ponche parcel has lime-chalk soils.  It was aged for 18 months in casks on lees.

I have twice bought this wine for $24 from MacArthur’s.  If you like full-bore Vacqueyras then this bottle is for you.  It is well made and certainly worth the price.  It is an attractive drink right now because it is vigorously youthful and the ripe tannins are not bothersome.  It certainly has the stuffing to age for the short to medium term, it just depends on how you like your wine.

2007 Domaine Santa Duc, Les Aubes, Vacqueyras
This wine has a light to medium nose of rich, spiced fruit.  In the mouth it immediately delivers heady blue fruits, creamy flavors, grit, and spices.  There are ripe tannins that coat mouth as spicey midpalate develops.  The profile of the wine is sensitive to heat so be careful to drink it at cellar temperature.  Jenn noted, “Completely full mouth experience.  A storybook wine.”  ***(*) Now-2022.