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A diverse set of wines: Armenia, Macedonia, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and others

It was over the bottle of Ethiopian Chardonnay, brought by Jacques several weeks ago, that he proposed the idea of hosting a wine dinner to include bottles from Macedonia and Lebanon.  The origins of the wines we tried were nearly as diverse as the guests he hosted, who together represent nine different nationalities.  Jacques supplied a number of wines he had acquired over the years, bringing them from his home cellar to the Washington, DC, area.

A few other wines were added, including those I had purchased from MacArthur Beverages, from which we started with the 2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia.  A solid rose from Tunisia, how can you not try it?

My favorite red wines all came from Jacques.  It took me several minutes to realize I had drunk an earlier vintage of the 2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  The 2012 vintage is clearly much better than the 2009 I had drunk earlier with Taz, which was also supplied by Jacques.  The 2012 is a dark flavored wine with strong development potential.  I would try it again in a few years.  My favorite wine is the 2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.  It is mouth filling with mature flavors that do not weigh you down and capable of further development.  Purchased pre-war, the 2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria struck me as the biggest surprise of the night.  The 2008 vintage is only the third for the domain.  It is very well-made and drinkable, perhaps a nod must be given to consulting oenologist Stephane Derenoncourt.  The family produces wine in both Syria and Lebanon but I believe Jacques prefers their Syrian wine.

Our final wine was sat for most of the evening in a decanter.  Complete with wooden presentation box and metal label, the 2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia is big both in bottle and in alcohol.  I notice power more than terroir but it is a good drink with the alcohol integrated.

Thanks again to Jacques and his wife.  Please find my tasting notes for these and the other wines I tasted below.

2017 2016 Domaine Neferis, Rose Magnifique, Sidi Salem, Tunisia
Imported by Travis Wine Imports. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache. Alcohol 13.5%.  A medium, dry rose color.  In the mouth is a moderate body, floral middle, watering acidity, and a lighter finish.  Light and bright in flavor, it takes on a creamy mouthfeel and notes of pastilles in the finish. ** Now.

2017 Minuty, Rose M, Cotes de Provence
Imported by Chateau & Estates. Alcohol 13%.  A rather light dry rose color.  This light, acidity driven wine bears just a touch of texture but plentiful stone notes.  ** Now.

2013 Yacoubian-Hobbs, Aghavnadzor, Vayots Dzor, Armenia
Imported by Paul Hobbs Selections. This wine is a blend of Voskehat, Khatuni, Qrdi, and Garan Demak. Alcohol 12.8%.  Both a light color and a light nose.  Improves with warmth to reveal white nuts, hints of wood but is overall modest in flavor.  Interesting but left me wanted for more.  *(*) Now – 2019.

2003 Chateau Musar, Blanc, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Merwah.  Alcohol 12%.  A copper-yellow color.  Mature in the mouth with an oxidative note then Sherry flavors with some toast.  At first moderate in body with watering acidity it eventually develops an enjoyable lanolin roundness through the long aftertaste.  Certainly an acquired taste.  **(*) Now but will last.

2010 Tsantali, Xinomavro Reserva, Naoussa, Greece
Imported by Fantis Imports. Alcohol 13%.  Quite nice actually with initially dry flavors of black cherry then an engaging racy bit.  *** Now – 2020.

2004 Domaine Ferrando, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% old-vine Grenache.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Fully mature with wood box, black cherry, and Kirsch all delivered in a rounded style.  Very good finish.  *** Now.

2012 Domaine des Tourelles, Syrah, Grand Cuvee, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in the glass with dark flavors of incense.  There is extract and tannins structured for a requisite few more years of development.  I like the dark fruit profile and mouthfeel.  The new oak needs to integrate but strong potential.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

2005 Chateau Musar, Rouge, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan aged in cement vats, French oak barrels, and finally vats.  Alcohol 14%.  Mature with mouth filling flavors of cherry, good acidity, and animale bits adding complexity.  The citric tannins and acidity will see further development.  Unique!  **** Now – 2028.

2008 Domaine de Bargylus, Syria
This wine is a blend of 45% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot. Alcohol 14.5%.  Very dark in color.  Some roast on the nose but mature overall.  In the mouth are good flavors and fine extract.  A successful blend that opens up to a modern profile with good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2013 Stobi, Vranec, Veritas, Tikves, Macdeonia
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Vranec aged 24 months in 80% new Slavonian oak casks and 20% Slavonian oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  Modern flavors of cherry with some brightness, certainly clean and balanced with no hard edges.  Could use a year or two to open up.  ** Now – 2023.

2013 Kamnik, Vranec, Terroir Grand Reserva, Macedonia
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 17 year old vines aged 28 months in French and American oak barrels. Alcohol 16.3%.  An intense, yet flavorful wine with powerful ripe dark fruits and a long, powerful finish.  One notices power and not alcohol.  A bit unevolved at this point so come back in a few years.  *** 2020-2028.

The Eric Solomon Selections Portfolio Tasting – Part 2

March 8, 2013 2 comments

Many of the wines I came across at the Eric Solomon Portfolio Tasting have appeared on this blog in an earlier vintage. I do try to contact wineries and winemakers so I was thrilled to know that two were present at this event. In this case the influential Philippe Cambie and Frederic Chaudiere of Chateau Pesquie. The Philippe Cambie table had a slew of enjoyable wines which were new to me. I continue to enjoy the wines of Chateau Pesquie including my first experience with the 2011 Artemia. The 2011 Roger Sabon, Les Olivets is another example of why I like Chateauneuf du Pape.

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About halfway through the tasting the crowds and noise level noticeably increased. I made may way to the smaller front room to taste the wines of Robert Sabon along with some Spanish wines. There was a good vibe in the air which was evident at these two tables.

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Afterwards I returned to the larger back room to taste the wines of Philippe Cambie, Chateau Pesquie, and Chateau Puech-Haut. Below you will find my remaining tasting notes.

Table 34 – Roger Sabon

Didier Negron

Didier Negron

I manged to stand to the side and taste through most of the Sabon wines. I must admit, as good as the Prestige and Le Secrete des Sabon were, I was very attracted to the Les Olivets. It was an old-school, honest glass of Chateauneuf du Pape which I really wanted to drink.

2012 Renaissance Blanc, Chateauneuf du Pape – $52
This wine is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Clairette, 20% Bourboulenc, and 20% Grenache Blanc aged in tronconical vats. There was a light, tight nose of yeasty white fruit. In the mouth the flavors were tangy on the sides of the tongue then the fruit came out with mixed flavors, some weight, and a lees character in the finish.

2011 Rhone by Roger Sabon, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault which was aged in tank. There was a lifted nose of red fruit. In the mouth the fresh red fruit was round with tang, acidity, tannins, and structure.

2011 Les Olivets, Chateauneuf du Pape – $48
This wine is a blend 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, and 15% Cinsault which was aged 18 months in foudre and tank. The light, unique nose was foxy, earthy, and stepped out of the glass. The mouth followed the nose with rustic fruit which was light before making way to black and blue fruit. Old-school and neat. Quite approachable.

2011 Prestige, Chateauneuf du Pape – $80
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Counoise and Vaccarese, and 5% Mourvedre which was aged 18 moths in demi-muids and tronconical oak. There was a very tight, controlled nose with the Grenache and Mourvedre coming through. In the mouth there were focused, ripe red and blue fruit with an old-school note. Needs some age.

2011 Le Secret des Sabon, Chateuneuf du Pape – $230
This wine is mostly Grenache aged in 600L dmei-muids. The light but familial nose was good all around. There were denser flavors in the mouth, a lot going on, with drier fruit filling the mouth. Spicy tannins were evidence as the structure came out. For the cellar.

Table 35 – Eric Solomon Selections Spanish Wines

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Wow, expensive modern Spanish wines. This table had a crowd so it was a bit difficult to jockey for a pour and the spit bucket, my notes were thinner as a result. Still the Bodegas Aalto wines made for a seductive pair. The Benjamin Romeo, Contador was stunner and absolutely refused to die off.

2011 Benjamin Romeo, Que Bonito Cacareaba Blanco – $80
This wine is a blend of 73% Garnacha Blaca, 15% Malvasia, and 12% Viura aged eight months in 100% new French oak. There were interesting flavors in the mouth which were low-lying, expansive then fresher with ripe, citrus tannins.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, La Cueva del Contador, Rioja Alavesa – $100
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. There was a good nose of lovely, floral red fruit. In the mouth the flavors were concentrated but had a lightness to them. Definitely young with nice acidity and firm tannins which were fine, grapey, and drying.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, La Vina de Andres, Rioja Alavesa – $160
This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. There was a caramel popcorn nose which mixed with red fruit aromas. In the mouth it was a touch slaty with red fruit, fine-grained, spicy tannins, and an inky aspect in the finish. This young wine is nice and will certainly age.

2010 Benjamin Romeo, Contador, Rioja Alavesa – $375
This wine is a blend of 86% Tempranillo and 14% Garnacha which was aged 18 months in 100% new French oak. The nose was a touch pungent and quite assured. In the mouth there was a salty, good start with power to the flavors but a light nature. The spicy tannins came out before the black and red fruit in the finish. The flavors clung to the sides of the mouth providing a long aftertaste. Needs some age and will be long-lived.

2010 Bodega Aalto, Ribero del Duero – $56
This wine is 100% Tinto Fino which was aged 23 months in used French and American oak barrels. A beautiful wine with concentrated flavors, pencil lead, and powdery red fruit and citrus.

2010 Bodegas Aalto, PS, Ribera del Duero –
Produced only in the finest vintages, this wine is 100% Tinto Fino aged 30 months in 100% new French oak. This dense wine was serious, seductive, and clearly well-done.

Table #22 – Chateau Puech-Haut

Jean Claude Gelats

Jean Claude Gelats

It has been some years since I last drank a bottle of Chateau Puech Haut. The rose are an interesting pair with Jean describing the Prestige as a barbecue wine and the Tete de Belier as gastronomique. The first four red wines I tasted all showed beautiful fruit and individual personalities. The Prestige rouge is a joint project with Philippe Cambie and Eric Solomon. It is well done, packing in a lot of flavor for the price.

2012 Prestige Rose, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $22
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Cinsault which was aged in stainless steel. This showed good textured fruit on the nose. The mouth follows the nose with lots of flavors, a long finish, and ripeness in the aftertaste. A nice wine.

2012 Tete de Belier Rose, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $40
This wine is a blend of Mourvedre and Grenache which was aged in stainless steel. This was very aromatic with pastilles and grapefruit aromas making for a beautiful nose. The mouth follows the nose with tighter flavors, up front acidity, acidity in the finish, and some tannins.

2011 Recantou, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache with 70% aged 16 months in new oak and 30% aged 12 months in used oak. There was a tight nose of nice fruit. This was great in the mouth with subtle weight, black perfumed fruit, and expansive flavors. There was very good flavor to the fruit which works well with the structure.

2011 Quercus, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah aged 16 months in tank. The tight nose had a hint of ripe, fine berries. In the mouth the flavors were more lifted with mixed juicy fruits in more obvious structure. There were finely ripe, drying and powerful tannins. There was a black, minerally finish along with cinnamon spices, and a spicy note. Young.

2011 Bosque Negre, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of Mourvedre and Grenache with the Mourvedre aged 16 months in new French oak and the Grenache in tank. There was a good smelling nose. The mouth follows the nose with a sense of lightness despite the good, powerful fruit and powerful structure. There were black and blue fruits in the finish.

2011 Reboussier, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $80
This wine is a blend of 80% Carignan and 20% Grenache aged 14 months in new oak barrels. With a familial nose the mouth showed a density to the flavors. There was focused ripeness to the fruit with good structure and nice tannins. This will age well but is already long on flavor.

2011 Prestige Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc – Saint Drezery – $22
This wine is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah which was aged in concrete. There was brighter blue fruit which packs lots of flavor. There were very, very fine tannins which were well-integrated into the wine. The flavors turned black towards the finish. The aftertaste was sinewy with a spicy note.

Table #13 – Chateau Pesquie

Frederic Chaudiere

Frederic Chaudiere

The fruit for the La Paradou wines are sourced from the Northern Languedoc. While I preferred the Blanc over the Rouge, I liked all when it came to the Terrasses and Quintessence. The Terrasses as whole represent good wine for the price which may be drunk for several years. The 2011 Quintessence Rouge is a lovely follow on to the 2010. Of the Artemia I must agree with Frederic in that the 2011 is great fun to drink.

2012 La Paradou Blanc, Vin de France – $11
This wine is 100% Viognier sourced from chalky limestone soils which was fermented and aged for five months in tank. There was a light, good nose of floral honeysuckle and berries. The flavors followed the nose but were dry at first before taking on a gentle, floral ripeness. There was an expansive midpalate followed by a hint of spices in the aftertaste. Good value.

2012 Terrasses Blanc, Cotes du Ventoux – $15
This wine is a blend of 70% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, and 15% Clairette aged in stainless steel and some concrete. The nose has aromas of lifted berries, pastilles, then tropical flowers. The flavors were riper with a softer entry then clean, lower-lying flavors.

2012 Quintessence Blanc, Cotes du Ventoux – $25
This wine is a blend of 80% Roussanne, 10% Clairette, and 10% Viognier with the Clairette and Viognier aged in stainless steel and the Roussanne aged six months in barrel. The showed more focus and determination, with white nuts, and tighter flavors. Needs some age.

2012 Terrasses Rose, Cotes du Ventoux – $14
This wine is a blend of 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache, and 10% Syrah aged in stainless steel tank. There was a focused nose of floral fruit, red fruit, and flowers. There was a weighty, focused, lovely feel in the mouth with a yeasty touch as the end.

2011 La Paradou Rouge, Vin de France – $11
This wine is 100% Grenache. This had a pungent Grenache nose followed by simpler but decent fruit in the mouth. It was a little rough in the finish.

2012 Terrasses Rouge, Cotes du Ventoux – $16 (Tank Sample)
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 20% Syrah aged six to eight months in 40% new oak. The flavors of red fruit were a touch foxy(good) and filled the mouth with licorice. It has an aspect of lightness combined with a gentle structure. There was a little yeasty expansion in the finish along with lighter, fresher fruit.

2011 Quintessence Rouge, Cotes du Ventoux – $25
This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache aged for 12 months in 50% new oak. The tight was bore fine fruit. The mouth was more expansive with red fruit, good flavor, then black and red fruit with a powerful structure. Then there was perfumed, old-school, red fruit, and a chewy finish. Nice.

2009 Cuvee Artemia, Cotes du Ventoux – $42
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache aged 18 months in 50% new and 50% neutral oak. The nose stood out with its concentration and different aromas. In the mouth there was depth to the flavors, a traditional style, and perfume. The structure came out but so id really good flavors. Seems young.

2011 Cuvee Artemia, Cotes du Ventoux – $43
This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache aged 18 months in 50% new and 50% neutral oak. There was a light, pungent nose. In the mouth the fruit, acidity, and tannins were immediately evident as balanced. The tannins are finer but the fruit has density to match. There was a powerful finish with a yeast red aftertaste. A nice wine that is young but would be good fun to drink now.

Table #21 – Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie

Philippe Cambie’s hand is evident not just in the Rhone and Eric Solomon’s portfolio but all over the world. He has loved wine since at least his rugby days when he enjoyed it after his matches. Mas des Volques is a project of Nicolas Souchon of Clos St Jean. Both the Alba Dolia and Volcae were interesting and well priced. The Alba Dolia represent the first vintage for the new Cevennes appellation. I should like to taste them again. The 2011 Domaine Roche, Cairanne showed good complexity for a young wine. Philippe intends the Calendel to be Burgundian in style and easy to drink, indeed it was.

2012 Mas des Volques, Alba Dolia White, Duche d’Uzes – Cevennes – $20
This wine is a blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Roussane aged in six months in used oak barrels from Burgundy. From a freshly opened bottle the nose preceeds the mouth with good yellow fruit and almonds. Nice. There was verve in the midpalate with mouth filling and tongue coating flavors. Spices and tang came out on the middle of the tongue.

2011 Mas des Volques, Volcae, Duche d’Uzes – $22
This wine is a blend of 35% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 30% Carignan with the Grenache aged in tank and the Syrah and Carignan aged in barrel. The nose stepped out of the glass. There was round fruit in the mouth, garrigue, density, chewy tannins, and good flavor. This will age well. It left impressions of weight and interest.

2011 Domaine Roche, Cotes du Rhone – $16
This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 15% Carignan sourced from young vines (40 years) aged for six months in 60% stainless and 40% concrete tanks. The nose showed focus with traditional red fruit. In the mouth the powdery red fruit felt good. The acidity is there despite first being aware of the mouthfeel. This had some powdery lift and structure in the finish.

2011 Domaine Roche, Cairanne – $19
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from old vines (60 years) aged in 80% concrete tanks and 20% in barrique. There was a less pungent nose. The mouth had more complex flavors which stood on top of the tongue. This was young but serious with a touch of yeast. The dense flavors need time to unfurl.

2011 Calendal, Cotes du Rhone, Plan de Dieu – $30
This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvedre and 20% Grenache sourced from 30-50 year old vines is aged for 12 months in used barrels. There was focused ripe fruit, density, and already seductive in its youth. Lots of flavor, good to drink.

Table #21 – Domaine de la Colliere and Chateau Juvenal

Aline Santoro

Aline Santoro

Philippe Cambie is also the consulting oenologist for these two estates. The Domaine de la Colliere, La Fontaine was good fun and a wine to try again. Chateau Juvenal is a new organic estate with 2011 the first vintage. The La Terre du Petit Homme shows they are off to a good start.

2011 Domaine de la Colliere, Les Touilleres, Rasteau – $18
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Carignan, and 5% Mourvedre aged in cuve Breton. There was a pungent, Grenache nose. There were similar powdery, coating flavors in the mouth, red fruit. Rasteau firmness with Cambie twist.

2011 Domaine de la Colliere, La Fontaine, Cotes du Rhone Villages Rasteau – $29
This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre aged in concrete tank for two winters. There flavors had verve and were lively on the tongue with drying flavors. With a hint of the yeast this lightened up in the finish. There was a powerful end with salty and savory flavors.

2011 Chateau Juvenal, Les Ribes du Vallat, Ventoux – $14
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, and 25% Syrah sourced from 30-50 year old vines aged nine months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The nose is more perfumed. In the mouth there was good red fruit, a powdery nature, similar profile, spicy finish, and lots of mouthfeel. There were firm tannins in the powerful aftertaste.

2011 Chateau Juvenal, La Terre du Petit Homme, Ventoux –
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah sourced from 50 year old vines with the Grenache aged on the lees in stainless steel tank and the Syrah aged in new French oak for 12 months. There was a pungent nose. In the mouth there was salty and savory black red fruit which became lifted. I loved the savory aspect of the wine. There were fine tannins to the structure which developed with air. There was black and red fruit in the finish along with salivating acidity.

Table #11 – Tikves Winery

The wines of Tikves have appeared in several of my posts ever since I first tasted them at the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia this past summer. At this point the tasting was coming to an end with wines being boxed up and my palate clearly tired. I decided to quickly taste through the wines to bring awareness to those who have yet tried a wine from the Republic of Macedonia. Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.

2011 Vranec Special Selection, Tikves – $10
This wine is 100% Vranec aged in tank. The fruit is pure with red tang and stands out on the nose. There is good grip in the mouth with tang to the red and black fruit which is noticeable on the tip of the tongue.

2010 Barovo, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. There was light red fruit on the nose along with Kirsch coming through. In the mouth the flavors were pure, showed weight, tartness, and acidity. This was well done with a lighter finish and assured structure.

2011 Barovo, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. This bore dark red flavors. Again the wine was assured with a little salty bit, tight flavors, and in need of some age.

2011 Bela Voda, Tikves – $20
This wine is a blend of 70% Plavec and 30% Vranec aged 6-8 months in oak barrels. This was more fruit driven than the 2011 with more lushness in the mouth. There were light, red fruit and pencil lead notes.

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Affordable Red Wines For Furlough Friday: Tikves and Capezzana

March 1, 2013 1 comment

Despite the impact of a reduced wine budget you can still drinking interesting and satisfying wines at affordable prices.  Following the recently reviewed 2010 Tikves, Vrance, Tradition is this Special Selection which costs $1 more.  I personally enjoy the Special Selection more for the Vranec character is showcased.  Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist and it reflects in this well made wine.  I have no clue how this wine will develop but at this price you can afford to find out.  We have already drunk a few bottles so I suggest you try one too.  Both Jenn and I liked the Capezzana from the first glass.   It is true that it could stand a year to get things going but the flavors are rather enjoyable right now.  I recommend you try this as well.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

By the way, blurbs from several tasting notes on this blog now appear in the Other French Wine Regions page at MacArthur Beverages.  If you like what you see or would like to see more blurbs then I suggest you send Phil an email at pbernstein@bassins.com.

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2010 Tikves, Vranec, Special Selection, Tikves – $11
Imported by Eric Solomon Selections.  This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 30-60 year old vines located at 1500 feet.  It was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  The light now revealed dark purple and black fruit.  In the mouth there were black, grapey flavors, drying tannins, plenty of acidity, and a young aspect.  This modern wine was firm, as if hewn from stone, but integrates to balance and puts on weight with air.  There will always be tannins but the flavors eventually fill the mouth, become tart on the sides of the tongue towards the finish, and show an inky quality.  The drying, rugged tannins return at the end.  ** Now-2018.

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2009 Conte Contini Bonacossi, Capezzana, Barco Reale di Carmignano – $13
Imported by MW Imports.  This wine is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet and Canaiolo sourced from soils of shale.  It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 14 months in barrels.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a mix of blue fruit, ethereal red fruit, and a gentle ripeness to this inviting wine.  The acidity is noticeable on the sides of the tongue as some dense black fruit, minerals, and a touch of smoke come out.  Nice flavors.  **(*) 2014-2019.

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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.

A Tasting at the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia

June 5, 2012 1 comment

Last week I joined John from MacArthur Beverages in attending the “Wines of Macedonia” tasting at the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia. Hosted by the Ambassador Zoran Jolevski, there were over 50 wines poured from eight different wineries.  Spread out over two rooms there was an ample supply of clean glasses in to which everyone poured a generous amount of wine for tasting. For those in need of sustenance there were appetizers available during the tasting. At one point several of us were invited into the next room for an introduction by the Ambassador and a short presentation from Gorgi Petrusev the Executive Director of Wines of Macedonia.  Macedonia has an ancient wine culture pre-dating the Romans.  Starting in the 1950s decades of production by large conglomerates left the industry focused on bulk production.  Smaller wineries started appearing in the early 1990s and in early 2000 several international programs begin working with Macedonian wineries to facilitate the production of high quality bottled wine for export.  The wineries present at the tasting all have updated facilities, estate vineyards, and international presence.  Exports to the United States are small so tastings like this will be one step to increase awareness.

The Embassy of the Repubic of Macedonia

I walked into the Embassy having never tried a wine from the Republic of Macedonia. At times I find it best to know nothing about what I taste for I can focus solely on what is in my glass. I only took a few hours off from work so I did my best to taste as many wines as possible. When I left the large tables were laid with lunch, precipitating a relaxed buzz of voices as people ate and drank.

In general there was a variety in quality with all of the wines being well-made.  I found the white wines showed good freshness. The Chardonnay based wines were mostly consistent with ripe flavors, good body, spices, and controlled use of oak which should have broad appeal. In terms of the red wines I preferred those made from Vranec, Plavec, and Kratosija. These indigenous varietals were balanced between the black and red fruit, acidity, and supporting tannic structure.  Two particular wines caught my attention and I definitely recommend you seek them out. My favorite wine was the 2011 Tikves, Barova white which danced on my tongue. My second favorite was the 2008 Dalvina, Muscateller, Rose with its surprisingly fresh and floral flavors. There were several other enjoyable wines which you may find in my short notes below.

Bovin Winery

Jani Bogevski, Bovin Winery

Bovin Winery was founded in 1998 and today produces wines from 60 hectares of vineyards in Tikves.  Except for the last two, all of the wines tasted were fermented and aged in stainless steel.  The last two barrique wines are aged soley in Macedonian oak.  I particularly liked the 2010 Vranec, 2009 Alexander, and 2010 Dissan.

2011 Bovin Winery, Symphony, Tikves
This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. There was a riper nose followed by tart fruit in the mouth. Clean and forward.

2011 Bovin Winery, Chardonnay, Tikves
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The ripe nose had texture. In the mouth the white and yellow fruit has good body with nice, sweet spices, and a good aftertaste.

2011 Bovin Winery, Muscat Temjanika, Tikves
This semi-dry wine is 100% Muscat Temjanika sourced from the Lepovo Hills. The nose reveals soft, tropical fruits along with melon. In the mouth the flavors are sweet and somewhat tart. Though supported by lots of acidity it is a bit soft in the middle.

2009 Bovin Winery, Merlot, Tikves
This wine is 100% Merlot. The color is ruby with more garnet. The red nose is lighter with hard aromas of red fruit and toast. In the mouth the wine is fruity with a touch of black and red flavors, a grapey nature, and little grapey tannins.

2009 Bovin Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tikves
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The black cherry flavors are tarter and riper than the Merlot. Perhaps a little overripe this is nevertheless an approachable, drinkable wine.

2010 Bovin Winery, Vranec, Tikves
This wine is 100% Vranec. The nose is aromatic. In the mouth there are ripe, chewy, tart red fruit flavors with a dark undertone. The drying tannins are citrus-like.

2009 Bovin Winery, Alexander, Tikves
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vranec. The nose stands out with Vranec aromas. In the mouth there are chewy black cherry flavors showing concentration as the flavors become blacker towards the finish. This will clearly age.

2010 Bovin Winery, Cabernet Franc, Tikves
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. The decent nose makes way to a little spritz in the mouth. The berry flavors were a touch warm with a Cabernet Franc personality and spicy finish.

2010 Bovin Winery, Kleopatra, Tikves
This semi-dry wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. There is a subtle, sweaty and berry nose. The wine starts off with a similar spritz as off-dry black and blue fruit come out. There are gritty tannins.

2009 Bovin Winery, Syrah Superior, Tikves
This wine is 100% Syrah. The aromatic nose reveals black fruit. The wine is fuller in the mouth with ripe, red fruit.

2010 Bovin Winery, Petit Verdot, Tikves
This wine is 100% Petit Verdot. The nose reveals delicate berries. In the mouth there are ripe, tart, and puckering flavors which become a little inky and chewy. This varietal shows potential, could be interesting in subsequent vintages.

2008 Bovin Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barrique, Tikves
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Lepovo Hills then aged for 12 months in Macedonian oak. The nose reveals red fruit and wood notes. In the mouth there is fine concentration to this taught wine with flavors of tobacco, forest, and smoke.

2010 Bovin Winery, Dissan, Tikves
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 40 year old vines from a single vineyard. It was aged for six months in 100% new Macedonian oak barrels. The nose is finely textured with focused black and red fruit. In the mouth the flavors are powerful with ripe, tart, and chewy drying tannins and a spicy aftertaste. There is a strong enjoyable, Vranec character throughout.

Stobi Winery

Jadranka Klaric Kimovska, Stobi Winery

Stobi Winery is a young winery located in Tikves.  It utilizes the latest technology from Italy and Germany.  For aging in wood the winery uses 70% big oval casks and 30% barriques.  I preferred the 2011 Chardonnay, Barrique.

2011 Stobi Winery, Zilavka, Traditional, Tikves
This wine is 100% Zilavka sourced from estate vineyards. The wine is a light yellow color. There are white, floral fruits on the nose. In the mouth there is a hint of ripeness at first then the flavors firm up into lightness. There are spice notes and moderate acidity.

2011 Stobi Winery, Rkaciteli, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Rkaciteli sourced from estate vineyards. The lightest color yet. The very light nose makes way to a little riper palate with gentle personality, less obvious acidity, and spices.

2011 Stobi Winery, Riesling, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from estate vineyards. In the glass it is a light green-yellow color. There are delicate and subtle notes of wood. The light-bodied yellow fruit flavors are innocuous with acidity. It is a bit smooth and a little chewy.

2011 Stobi Winery, Chardonnay, Barrique, Premium?, Tikves
This wine is 100% Chardonnay aged in a mixture of American, French, and Slavonian oak. In the glass it is a light yellow color. There is a gently ripe Chardonnay nose. In the mouth the flavors taste like ripe, yellow fruit from American Chardonnay with good acidity and a touch of viscosity to the body.

2010 Stobi Winery, Pinot Noir, Classic, Tikves
This wine is a blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Vranec sourced from estate vineyards. The nose was overripe. In the mouth the flavors taste like watery Pinot Noir fruit forced into concentration. It tastes tired.

2009 Stobi Winery, Vranec, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from estate vineyards. There is a dark, black cherry color. The Vranec flavors mix with tart, citrus tannins. The wine is chewy as the flavors become soft in the middle with plenty of spicy, fine, drying tannins followed by interesting stone notes in the aftertaste.

2009 Stobi Winery, Merlot, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from estate vineyards. The nose reveals vegetal, stemmy fruit. The mouth follows the nose but is more interesting, showing concentration and an inky character.

2009 Stobi Winery, Vranec Veritas, Premium, Tikves
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from estate vineyards with reduced yields. The nose is richer and almost overripe. In the mouth the black cherry flavors are a touch oxidated before turning soft and tart in the middle with a racy character. I suspect this was an off bottle.

Tikves

Katerina Kostovska, Tikves Winery

Tikves Winery has 19th century origins but the contemporary winery was completely upgraded in 2003.   Chardonnay, Merlot, and Vranec is sourced from 500 hectares of estate vineyards.  Additional fruit is sourced from local growers.  All five of these wines showed well so it is not surprising that this winery is already imported into the United States by Eric Solomon Selections. What I did find surprising is that Philippe Cambie is the consulting oenologist.  He started working with Tikves Winery in 2009 to produce wine aimed for the international market.  He has helped produce wines from the Barova and Vela Voda vineyards.  As Katerina poured a glass of the Barova white she mentioned it was mostly Grenache Blanc which caught my attention.  What I tasted caught my attention as well.  I would not hesitate to try any of their wines.  Thank you to John Kimball and Kristin Butke of Eric Solomon Selections for providing the suggested retail prices.

2011 Tikves, R’Kaciteli, Special Selection, Tikves – $10
This wine is 100% Rkaciteli sourced from 15 year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel. It is a very light color in the glass. The nose is light with aromas of pure, clean, tropical fruit. The mouth follows the nose with good fruit, acidity, and a pleasing nature.

2011 Tikves, Barova, Tikves – $21
This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Chardonnay sourced from 25 year old vines. 70% of the fruit was both fermented then aged for 7 months sur lees in oak barrels. 30% was fermented in stainless steel. There is good, chewy fruit, really well done, with sweet spices, acidity which dances on the tongue, and a long aftertaste. A good wine worth drinking.

2010 Tikves, Vranec, Special Selection, Tikves – $10
This wine is 100% Vranec sourced from 25 year old vines which were fermented in stainless steel. It was aged for 12 months in vat. The nose is subtle. In the mouth there are flavors of ripe fruit, salami, and stone. The tannins are tamed making it quite approachable.

2010 Tikves, Bela Voda, Tikves – $21
This wine is a blend of 70% Plavec and 30% Vranec sourced from 35 year old vines which were fermented in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for eight months in big oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. There is a dark nose of berries. In the mouth the blue and red fruit is concentrated, inky, and mixed with good, ripe tannins.

2010 Tikves, Barova, Tikves – $21
This wine is a blend of 85% Kratosija and 15% Vranec sourced from 35 year old vines which were fermented in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged in big oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. The nose is restrained. In the mouth the red fruit flavors have a tilt towards tartness with decent body and enjoyably chewy, ripe, citrus tannins.

Ezmit-Vino

Danov Petar, Ezimit Vino

Ezmit Vino winery was founded in 1993 and underwent a complete rebuild in 2001. Today there are 200 hectares of 20 year old vineyards containing Vranec, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Muscat, and Muscat Ottonel. There are an additional 240 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Plavac.  I enjoyed the 2008 Merlot, Single Vineyard the most.

2010 Ezmit-Vino, Plavac & Vranec
This wine is a blend of Plavac and Vranec sourced from the Ovce Pole region. The nose reveals almost fishy oak. The flavors are mouth-filling with some texture and softness. The darker red fruits firms up with drying tannins before black berries come out in the aftertaste.

2008 Ezmit-Vino, Merlot, Single Vineyard
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from the Ovce Pole region. The nose is subtle. In the mouth the concentrated red fruit has a good mouthfeel and fine tannins.

2009 Ezmit-Vino, Cuvee
This wine is a blend of 65% Kratosija and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is soft and approachable. In the mouth there are black cherry flavors, very fine integrated tannins, and drier fruit.

2008 Ezmit-Vino, Vranec, Barrique
This wine is 100% Vranec whic was aged for 12 months in American oak. There were soft, black and red fruit with spicy tannins.

Dalvina

Dalvin Winery is located in the Strumichko-Radovishki wine region. While the Ar-Magedon was quite appealing, I was excited by the Muscateller, Rose. Not only my favorite wine from this producer but one of the best at the tasting.

2009 Dalvina, Sauvignon Blanc
This was a very light color in the glass. The nose is aromatic but subtle in the mouth. There is sweet fruit, residual sugar, toast notes, and marked acidity as it softens in the finish.

2009 Dalvina, Chardonnay, Barrique
The color is a light, green yellow. There is a toasty Chardonnay nose with soft fruit, toast, and a soft finish. A bit too many barrel notes for my preference.

2008? Dalvina, Muscateller, Rose
The color is a medium rose. In the mouth there are floral flavors of rose, good body, mouthfilling flavors, Muscat aftertaste, and a very fresh nature. A good wine which was a pleasure to taste.

2008 Dalvina, Ar-Magedon, Barrique
There is a good blend of black cherry and blue fruit. The wine is very approachable with integrated tannins and acidity, a cool aspect, and hints of earth. Enjoyable.

Popova Kula Winery

Popova Kula finished construction of their winery in 2005 with their hotel and restaurant being completed in 2009.  The winery produces wines from 11 different varietals.  Stanushina, Vranec and Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from estate vineyards with the others sourced from growers in the Demir Kapija region.  Of the wines I tasted I thought the Chardonnay, Classic was their standout.

2011 Popova Kula, Chardonnay, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Chardonnay fermented in stainless steel. The color was light yellow. In the mouth there are racy, ripe, tropical fruit flavors which develop a green-apple tartness. The wine is a bit gritty with concentration, spices, and drying tannins. While I would not guess this as Macedonian, it was a good wine which should appeal to many.

2011 Popova Kula, Stanushina, Rose, Tikves
This wine is 100% Stanushina sourced from vineyards located at 600 meters in the Tikveshiya region. This was a salmon color in the glass. There were dry, nutty flavors of roses, acidity, tart finish, and perhaps a touch of fruit.

2009 Popova Kula, Cabernet Sauvignon, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was fermented in stainless steel and also underwent malolactic fermentation. There were soft, fishy red fruit and stems.

2010 Popova Kula, Vranec, Classic, Tikves
This wine is 100% Vranec, including some dried berries picked during late harvest, which was fermented in stainless steel and also underwent malolactic fermentation.. There was a black cherry nose which followed into the mouth with moderate ripeness, and quality acidity.

Chateau Kamnik

Chateau Kamnik is located near Skopje and currently has 11 hectares of vineyards are 300 meters.  The wines are fermented in stainless steel the undergo malolactic fermentation in oak barrels where they are also aged.  They employ a mixture of French, American, and Hungarian oak.  My favorite of the three was the Ten Barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve for its appealing fruit and cedar notes.

2009 Chateau Kamnik, Ten Barrels, Syrah
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from estate vineyards. It was aged for 14 months in American oak barrels. The nose reveals red fruit and toast notes. In the mouth the pepper and toast notes overwhelm the red fruit.

2007 Chateau Kamnik, Ten Barrels, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Skopje district. It was aged for 24 months in new French and American oak barrels. There were soft, cedar notes in the mouth. The blue and red fruit has good mouthfeel, integrated tannins, and some spices. This was a decent, easy to drink wine.

2009 Chateau Kamnik, Merlot, Single-Vineyard
This wine is 100% Merlot which was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. There were lots of spicy, fine drying tannins, a little stemmy, and some odd flavors.

Dudin Winery

Dudin Winery was founded in 1989 in the Tikvesh region. The winery was completely updated in 2004 and now has modern wine equipment. I randomly tried the Akrato wine from the ice bucket and was very pleased.  Unfortunately I had to leave at this point and could not taste their other wines.

2008 Dudin Winery, Akrato, Barrique, Tikves
This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was aged for 12 months in oak barrels. There was ripe, supple yellow fruit showing a bit of texture. There were some toast notes, integrated acidity, and a tangy aspect. This was a good wine to work around the mouth due to the pleasurable mouthfeel. This is aging well.