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A thorough introduction to Loire wines: 2011-1979

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Bill is passionate about Loire wines, top quality producers none the less, which was evident at a tasting he hosted at his house.  The wines largely came from his cellar making a parade of heavy hitters, cult favorites, and new discoveries.  As an introduction there were bottles of sparkling wine, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine.

There were sadly a number of off bottles but with a vast array to try (I missed at least one bottle) there were still some top-notch bottles.  This includes the 2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole as my favorite white wine.  This is a tense, engaging wine which combines stone and fruit.  For the reds, individual favorites include the mature 2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny and youthful 2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied.  I can see why Rougeard is a cult favorite, the mature flavors are infused with fat and drape over the tongue.  The Plouzeau is electric and young, it should be fully open in three to five years.

My favorite flight of all is a quartet of Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses: 1990, 1989, 1985, and 1979.  What a unique opportunity!  What I like is the consistent theme of fruit, without any green pepper notes, and complexity from earthy flavors.  The 1989 offers so much more than the 1990.  The original release 1985 is a treat with more color and texture.  It is easy to connect with this bottle because it is not so squeaky clean.  The 1979 is elegant and autumnal.  It is the sort of wine to drink at lunch or by oneself reading a book next to a fire.

A trio of Huet Vouvray dessert wines includes a maturing 1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux.  The nose is an interesting mix of apples and seaside with a heavily textured mouth.  Our bottle of 1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance also has a killer nose but it is dialed down tight in the mouth.  The drier 1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie is also young.  Perhaps it is the state of the 1989 vintage.  All three wines smell great so who knows!?

Thanks again to Bill for hosting.  Without his generosity I would still be the rare soul who had never tasted the Loire greats of Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard, and others.

Flight #1 – Sparkling

2010 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Petillant Brut
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. Alcohol 12.5%. There is a fine bubble grip with slightly round flavors of light yellow fruit and chalk. It is minerally and a touch earthy.  *** Now – 2020.

NV Francois Chidaine, Montluis sur Loire Méthode Traditionelle Brut
Imported by Dionysos Imports. Alcohol 12%. A little gamey on the nose. In the mouth are finer, more aggressive bubbles. The flavors are oxidative and the finish is sour.  Underperforming? * Drink up.

Flight #2 – White Wines

2000 Nicolas Joly, Clos de la Coulee de Serrant
Imported by Paterno Imports. Alcohol 13.5%. A darker gold-copper color. The heavier nose makes way to a focus start then short and weird flavors. Bad bottle.  Not Rated.

2007 Didier Dagueneau, Pouilly-Fume Silex
Imported by Connoisseur Wines. Alcohol 12.5%. There are fine, ripe chalky flavors, texture, and a weighty middle which builds towards the finish. It wraps up with a vintage perfume finish.  ***(*) Now – 2023.

2009 Domaine Guiberteau, Saumur Blanc Clos des Carmes Monopole
A Becky Wasserman Selection imported by Frederick Wildman. Alcohol 12%. A flinty wine with tart yellow fruit and a vein of acidity which makes for attractive tension. My favorite.  **** Now – 2027.

2011 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Blanc Breze
An aromatic nose with a touch of apricot and cheese. Different. It is simpler in the mouth, tight with a vein of acidity. It remains tight when warm. Drinkable but not the best bottle.  ** Now.

Flight #3 – 2010 Reds

2010 Catherine & Pierre Breton, Bourgueil Franc de Pied
Imported by Kermit Lynch. Alcohol 12%. The color is a little purple. A finely scented nose of clean green pepper. In the mouth this is a fine, focused wine with dry and tight flavors. With air it remains a lighter weighted wine but becomes a touch creamy. Good citric grip.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2010 Chateau de Fosse-Seche, Saumur Eolithe
Alcohol 12.5%. There is a deeper core of color with hints of brick. Initial aromas are of old-school perfume but then nail polish comes out.  Not right.  Not Rated.

2010 Bernard Baudry, Chinon Les Croix Boisee
Bad bottle! Not Rated.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny Les Poyeux
Alcohol 12.5%. There are darker berries on the perfumed somewhat alcoholic nose. The mouth filling wine is luxurious with a creamy edge and zippy acidity. Certainly a big wine but ultimately simple compared to the basic Saumur Champigny.  *** Now – 2020.

2010 Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny
Alcohol 12.5%. A good, mature nose. The flavors drape on the tongue with a cranberry-grape grip. The core of berry flavors remains focus but takes on a coating of fat. My favorite of the flight. **** Now – 2023.

2010 Domaine Guion, Bourgueil Cuvee des Deux Monts
Imported by Fruits of the Vines. Alcohol 12.5%. A grapey color. The nose is tight with berried perfume. In the mouth the wine keeps right focus with fine, tannic, and young flavors. There is a green pepper note and salivating acidity. Needs time.  *** 2020 – 2027.

2010 Plouzeau, Ante Phylloxera, Touraine Clos de Maulevrier Franc de Pied
Imported by Weygant-Metzler. Alcohol 13%. The nose tilts towards the richer side. There is good flavor, a bit citric, and electric acidity. It sports good weight, an attractive sweaty note, and will clearly age. **** Now – 2030.

Flight #4 – 1996 Bourdeaux versus Loire Guessing Game

1996 Joguet, Les Varennes du Grand Clos
Slightly stinky on the nose yet good. More engaging in the mouth but overall a bad bottle! Not Rated.

1996 Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Medoc
Much darker in color. An harmonious wine. It is brighter in the mouth than the nose indicates. With air, ripe hints of flavor come out yet the wine maintains focus. Clearly Bordeaux.  *** Now – 2023.

Flight #5 – Olga Raffault

1990 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. This is tart with red and black fruit flavors. It ultimately reveals less fruit intensity. It sports a touch of animale and a hint of earth which adds interest. Overall this is a tangy wine. ** Now – 2023.

1989 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. There is more dense fruit compared to the 1990. It is clean, dense, and slightly earthy with cinnamon spices in the aftertaste. Watering acidity. This will clearly go on for ages. **** Now – 2032.

1985 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Original release. Alcohol 12.5%. This is good and much different than the 1989 and 1990. There are impressions of more texture making the wine feel substantive. The wine is earthy with a wood stem note, and vintage perfume.  Drinking well. **** Now – 2025.

1979 Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Library release. In fine form. This is tangy, lighter than the others with a clean cut. There is a fair amount of acidity.  Elegant and autumnal.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

Flight #6 – Respect the Legend

1985 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux
Imported by Robert Chadderdon Selections. A dark, apricot amber. The nose smells of tart apples and the sea side, quite nice. In the mouth there is up front texture back the apple orchard flavors. The citric acidity is prominent but the wine is weighty. A fair amount of mouth feel.  **** Now – 2037.

1989 Domaine Huet,Vouvray Cuvee Constance
Imported by Envoyer Imports. A golden amber color. The nose offers up electric aromas. In the mouth there is clearly more residual sugar in this dense wine with flavors of dried fruit. It remains tight so cellar it.  **** 2023 – 2043.

1989 Domaine Huet, Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux Premiere Trie
Imported by Elenteny Imports. Alcohol 13%. A golden amber color. Apple orchard on the nose with acidity driven, drier flavors in the mouth. It is weighty, clean, and sports acidity.  A baby!  ***(*) 2023 – 2043.

An aromatic Gamay from Vincent Ricard in Touraine

Vincent Ricard received his enology degree 20 years ago and eventually returned to the family vineyard.  The Ricard family had tended vines for generations as part of a cooperative. In 1998, Vincent and his father Alain, left the cooperative to form Domaine Ricard.  The majority of the production is white wine but there are also red wines made from Gamay, Cabernet Franc, and Cot.  Just yesterday, Phil shared a new sample of the 2014 Domaine Ricard, Le Clos de Vauriou, Touraine.  This wine uses fruit primarily from 35 year old Gamay vines which was fermented in cement tanks then aged in old oak barrels.  The wine is aromatically expressive from the very first glass.  It is also balanced all around, leaving a refreshing sensation.  It is not just a wine to drink now, with extended air the flavors develop weight and a rounded quality suggesting you may drink this over the next several years.  My suggestion is to cellar it for half a year then double-decant it for a few hours before drinking.  Thanks for sharing Phil!

Ricard1

2014 Domaine Ricard, Le Clos de Vauriou, Touraine
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Gamay and 30% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose is immediately aromatic with attractive herbaceous underpinned by some buttery luxury.  In the mouth the tart red fruit is infused with greenhouse notes.  There is some weight to the flavors before the refreshing finish.  The wine fills the mouth and with air, the flavors become rounder and envelop the perfectly integrated structure.  *** Now – 2019.

Wines to Drink While Researching

I am having a great time conducting research for my History of Wine posts.  These posts engage most of my free time so I have been publishing less tasting notes.  Though I have been drinking more familiar wines I still have a big pile of wines to write about.  The four featured in today’s post are an interesting lot.  The 2010 Domaine des Huards, Cour-Cheverny is made from the very rare Romorantin varietal.  There is not much of it so I am surprised myself to have this follow up to the previously tasted  2009 Francois Cazin, Cour-Cheverny.  With air the attractively priced Huards took up a good balance of lemon flavors and stones.  The 2010 Le Rocher Des Violettes, Cabernet Franc has attractive flavors of vintage perfume along with red and black fruit.   I would cellar a few bottles to drink in a few years.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the 2010 Domaine Rene Rostaing, Vassal de Puech Nobles, Coteaux du Languedoc will be even better in several years.   With a good nose, Cardamom(!), good flavors, and minerals it is hard not to like it right now but it left a feeling of being tight and not yet revealing its full potential.  Lastly, the 2011 Domaine du Vissoux, Poncie, Fleurie is a young with good berry fruit lifted by citrus and acidity.  I would not open a bottle yet but even the youth did not stop Jenn from enjoying it.   These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

FrenchWines1

2010 Domaine des Huards, Cour-Cheverny – $16
Imported by Jon-David Headrick Selections.  This wine is 100% Romorantin sourced from old vines on limestone soils.  It was fermented then aged for 12 months in tank.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose was soft and Riesling-like.  The mouth followed the nose with a bit of Riesling-like flavor. Then with air it took on tart white and yellow fruit with ripe, citrus tannins.  There were lemon flavors, dry stones, and acidity on the front-sides of the tongue which caused salivation.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 Le Rocher Des Violettes, Cabernet Franc, Touraine – $20
Imported by Vintage 59.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines planted in 1980 which was aged for 12 months in older barrels.  The nose was fresh with red fruit and greenhouse notes.  In the mouth there was vintage perfume which mixed with red and black fruit.  The flavors were dry with acidity that made itself known.  The flavors became drier through the finish where more vintage perfume and pepper came out.  **(*) 2014-2024.

FrenchWines2

2010 Domaine Rene Rostaing, Vassal de Puech Nobles, Coteaux du Languedoc – $24
Imported by the Rare Wine Co.  This wine is mostly Syrah with some  Mourvedre, Grenache, and Rolle which were fermented with indigenous yeast then aged in a mixture of barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The very fine but firm nose bore aromas of cardamom and pepper.  In the mouth there were initially red, citrus-like fruit with firm but good flavors.  With are a very floral vintage perfume developed with very integrated acidity.  There were flavors of raspberry candy, minerals, and a dry nature in the finish.  The aftertaste was expansive.  *** 2014-2023.

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2011 Domaine du Vissoux, Poncie, Fleurie – $22
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Gamay sourced from 45 year old vines on steep soils of granite.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged six months in old oak tuns.  Alcohol 12.5%.  In the mouth there were tangy flavors of red fruit which had a citrus list.  There was a modest ripeness that came out as tangy flavors touched the sides of the tongue.  There were berries and strawberries in the aftertaste of young fruit.  There was plenty of acidity, the flavors remained tart on the sides of the tongue, and a purple and black note.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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Rolling in Good Bubbles

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

This interesting Petillant Blanc is produced by Marie Thibault-Cabrit.  After studying plant biology and oenology she worked a year in South Africa, a year in Switzerland then several with Francois Chidaine.  She began leasing vines in Touraine at Azay-le-Rideau and Lignieres de Touraine in 2010.  She produces wine from some 2.5 hectares of vines which average 50 years of age.  These vineyards contain Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Grolleau, Cot, and Gamay.  They were converted to organic in 2011.  The soils are hilly with sandy loam soil and large flint limestone bedrock.  She hand harvests her fruit and uses only indigenous yeasts.  I rather enjoyed this bottle and if you are adventurous, I suggest you give it a try.  There was a very strong grilled bread aroma which strangely, given Jenn’s love of bread and bubbles, did not appeal to her.  You can tell this is produced from good fruit for the complexity comes with a sense of ease.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Domaine Marie Thibault-Cabrit, la roue qui tourne – $22
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc from 30-50 year old vines at Azay-le-Rideau which was fermented in new oak barrels then drawn into bottles.  At the end of alcoholic and malolactic fermentation it was bled to lower pressure.  RS 11-14 g/L, Alcohol 12.5%.  Tried over three nights the color is a light to medium golden-yellow.  The initial nose is of grilled bread and yeast.  In the mouth there is initial acidity on the sides of the tongue followed by fine, firmly popping bubbles then a fine mousse.  Stone flavors come out as fine yellow, spiced fruit mixes with yeast and a touch of apple flavors.  There wine is expansive with good complexity and long aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.

The Best of Virginia (and Maryland Too)

November 21, 2012 3 comments

Weygandt Wines

This past weekend Lou and I attended a Best of Virginia tasting organized by Robert Ford and hosted by Weygandt Wines.  I came in late to the organization so I thought it best to let Rob describe the origins of the tasting.

Inspiration for the Tasting

About three years ago my Fiancee Megan and I were eating breakfast on a lazy sunday morning, wondering what to do with our day. At this point we were surprisingly novice wine geeks, early in the stages of tasting anything and everything to develop context for our palates. We did however, through our tasting, seem know what we enjoyed and were respectable in judging quality. We had heard about Virginia wine country and had nothing better to do, so after a bit of internet research we hopped on I-66W and headed west. It seemed that in Northern Virginia (if not Virginia as a whole) Linden had been the forerunner in quality and vision when it came to virginia wine. I still remember arriving on our first visit. The GPS had taken us on wild ride, traversing several miles of unpaved roads to reach the Linden sign. From our first sip of the day, it was clear the wines were special. They had balance, authentic fruit, direction, freshness, and evolution on the palate. The care used to craft the wine was palpable. They embodied the qualities we had come to look for in a wine.

We are now full on wine geeks, but as any other wine geek knows, the more you learn and taste, the more there is to learn and taste. And while virginia has settled into a limited role in our wine drinking, it remains an important one. When we open a Linden wine we find ourselves comparing it to chardonnays and bordeaux blends from around the world, remarking how well they would likely compete in a global context. Therefore we always had the idea of a blind tasting, pitting the Linden and other best of Virginia, against equal competition from more established wine regions. And after a long period of idle contemplation, seemingly like usual, everything simply fell into place. It started with a thread on Wineberserkers regarding RdV Vineyards, and morphed into a “what if” tasting idea. As I was going to be in DC over the weekend, inspiration struck, and I began to organize the Best of VA vs World tasting. Interest was a bit slow over the first day, but quickly it appeared the tasting would be rather large and comprehensive. It was one of those events that was meant to happen, as everything simply fell into place. Many participants were available on the proposed date, we were easily able to use Weygandt Wines as a fantastic tasting space, and everyone seemingly had excess wine to contribute. By Friday morning we had more interest than we could accommodate, and had put together a surprisingly large and complete line up of wines. The stage was set … how would Virginia fare?

-Robert Ford

Bagged and Numbered

The Virginian wines were known ahead of time to the participants with the ringers only known to Rob and those who brought them.  The wines were brown-bagged and served in four flights: Whites, Mature Reds, Young Cabernet Franc or Merlot dominated reds, and Young Cabernet Sauvignon dominated reds.  All of the wines were opened just prior to tasting except for #17 RdV, Rondevous which was decanted one hour ahead and the #25 Yannick Amirault which was opened one hour ahead.  Tasting sheets were provided and we were asked to rate the wines so that group results could be tallied.  After tasting through all of the wines they were revealed.

Many thanks to Jim Law of Linden Vineyards who opened his cellar so that Rob could purchase the 1997 Reserve Red, to Jon Gonzales of RdV Vineyards who brought the 2009 Rendesvous and Lost Mountain, to Ed Boyce of Black Ankle Vineyards who provided the 2007 Crumbling Rock, and Michelle Gueydan of Early Mountain Vineyards who brought the 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay along with a few ringers.  Also to everyone’s generosity for bringing so many wines and to Warren, Sarah, and Weygandt Wines for allowing us to take over part of the store.

Rob In Action

RESULTS

Rob tallied up the results from eight participants.  In some cases a wine received only seven scores but in most cases it was eight.  Of the 33 wines tasted 16 were from Virginia, 8 from France, 2 from California, 2 from Maryland, 1 from Washington, 1 from Italy, 1 from Malta, 1 from New Zealand, and 1 from South Africa.  In this section I have listed the top three wines from each flight.  For the remaining average scores you will find them in my tasting notes.

One cannot draw serious conclusions from such a tasting but I can point out the generally strong breadth of the Linden wines, the seriousness of RdV, and the strengths of Black Ankle.  When I hear about local wine it seems to be in the context of Virginia but hopefully after this tasting a few more people will cross the Potomac River to Maryland.  I am also curious to try other selections from King Family Vineyards and Pearmund.

Flight 1 – Whites
1. 2008 Linden, Chardonnay, Avenius Vineyard (86.88)
2. 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, South Africa (86.38)
3. 2011 Ankita Ridge, Chardonnay (85.13)

Flight 2 – Mature Reds
1. 1997 Linden, Reserve Red (89.13)
2. 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot (87.13)
3. 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity (86.25)

Flight 3 – Young Reds (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominant Blends)
1. 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot (89.00)
2. Tied: 2009 RdV, Rendezvous and 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock (87.38)

Flight 4 – Young Reds (Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant Blends)
1. 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon (87.29)
2. 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon (86.86)
3. 2009 Barboursville, Octagon (85.43)

TASTING NOTES

It took steady effort to taste through all of the wines in the time alloted.  As the time advanced past the normal closing time there was a bit of a dash to finish off the tasting.  My notes capture the wines during a brief few minutes so bear that in mind.  Normally I would not rate wines during such a tasting but as part of the group exercise and general fun of it, I did.  At the end of each note you will find the average group score in parenthesis.

FLIGHT 1 – WHITE WINES

David and Rob

I thought the white wines from Virginia showed very well.  While several of the wines had obvious barrel notes, my two favorites the 2010 Pearmund showed good integration along with fruit, weight, and acidity and the 2008 Linden showed lively fruit with an attractive gravelly quality.  Wines like these make me think a Virginia white wine tasting should be in order.

1 – 2011 Ankida Ridge, Chardonnay
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a two acre vineyard at 1,800 feet. It was fermented in 100% neutral French oak barrels of which 50% underwent malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for nine months on the lees.  The light to medium nose was textured with barrel roast notes.  The barrel note continues in the mouth with rich, slightly perfumed fruit,a bit of weight in the finish.  There were some tart apple flavors and acidity. (85.13)  ** Now.

2 – 2009 Linden, Chardonnay Hardscrabble
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 15-25 year old vines in the Hardscrabble Vineyard. The free run juice was fermented with both cultured and indigenous yeasts, some barrels underwent maolactic fermentation, followed by 10 months of aging on the lees in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  The light fruit nose had some barrel notes along with heavier, yellow fruit aromas.  In the mouth there was crisper fruit to start  then tropical fruit which mixed with barrel flavors, some apple, and Christmas spice.  The aftertaste was a little coarse and shorter compared to #1.  (84.57) ** Now-2013.

3 – 2010 Pearmund, Old Vine Chardonnay, Meriwether Vineyard
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from 25+ year old vines. It under went 100% malolactic fermentation then was aged for eight months in French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was light yellow.  The light+ nose revealed heavier yellow fruit, better integration of the barrels notes, and fine texture.  In the mouth there was sweet tropical fruit which was delivered with an initial burst of acidity.  Then old perfume, good weight, and a core of ripe fruit.  There was ripe fruit and spices in the finish and a good aftertaste. (84.50)  **(*) Now-2017.

4 – 2008 Linden, Chardonnay Avenius
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Avenius Vineyard planted in 1996 at 1,300 feet. It was barrel fermented in older French oak, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, and was aged on the less for 10 months. Alcohol 13.7%.  The color was a very light yellow.  The nose bore ripe, concentrated yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were lively on the tongue with integrated acidity, followed by gravelly white, ripe fruit.  There was an ethereal quality to the aftertaste.  (86.88) **(*) Now-2015.

5 – 2009 Domaine Bernard Defaix, Vaillons, Chablis 1er Cru
Imported by Winebow. This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from both young and old vines.  The color was light yellow.  The light to medium nose offered up perfumed, white and yellow fruit with a hint of something.  In the mouth there were flavors of bread at first followed by a hollow, citric finish, and a barely detectable hint of foxy flavors in the aftertaste. (83.00)  * Now.

6 – 2009 Ataraxia, Chardonnay, Western Cape
Imported by Worthwhile Wine Company. This wine is 100% Chardonnay which was barrel fermented then aged for ten months in Burgundian oak barrels. 13.5% Alcohol.  The color was light yellow.  There was a light+ ripe, yellow nose. In them mouth there were lively white, heavy fruit which was acidity driven.  There was a good mouthfeel, fine stoney, texture, and a drying finish with tart citrus flavors. (86.38) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 2 – MATURE RED WINES

The Author and Lou

This was a somewhat disjointed flight in terms of the wines tasted but it did reveal a complete 1997 Linden, Reserve Red.  I am glad that Rob was able to work with Jim Law on this selection.  It is drinking very well right now.  I did not guess it was from Virginia for I thought the 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut was!

7 – 1994 Roccadoro, Chianti Classico
Imported by Winebow. This. Alcohol 12%.  The color was light-medium tawny, showing extreme age.  The nose was over the hill with thin, delicate berry fruit in the mouth. (Flawed)  Flawed.

8 – 1999 Chateau Barde-Haut, St. Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+ year old vines. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for 18 months in new oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium garnet-cherry.  In the mouth there were cedar box flavors, a touch of menthol, then cherry and raspberry.  There was a core of racy red fruit then blue flavors but then it completely thinned out. (82.00)  * Now.

9 – 1997 Linden, Reserve Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, and 11% Merlot. Alcohol 13.9%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  The light nose was followed by focused, black and red fruit in the mouth.  There was black fruit acidity,with mature flavors in the finish.  A complete little wine. (89.13)  ** Now.

10 – 1993 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa Valley
This wine is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The nose was light with mature red fruit.  In the mouth there were brighter red fruit, texture, plenty of acidity, and a little powdery red candy. (86.25)  * Now.

11 – 1995 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St Emillion Grand Cru
Imported by Luke’s Distributing Co. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 50 year old vines. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged 12-24 months in new oak barrels.  The color was a medium ruby.  The nose offered up cedar and vanilla.  In the mouth there was finely textured black cherry fruit, a little menthol, spicy finish, and a lifted, incensed aftertaste. (87.13) ** Now-2015.

FLIGHT 3 – YOUNG REDS (Cabernet Franc or Merlot Dominated Blends)

The King Family Vineyard and Chateau Joanin Becot were the standouts for me in this flight.  I do not if it is a pure varietal or blend but it was attractive all around without a hint of underripe fruit.  The 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rocks had pebbly texture and the 2008 RdV, Rendezvous while tight, had an interesting earthy flavor which was new to me in my Virginian wine experience.  Both of these wines deserve revisiting.

12 – 2009 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 35% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium purple ruby.  The medium strength nose was of black fruit and low-lying vanilla aromas.  In the mouth this finely textured wine had black and red fruit, expansive flavors as the wine progressed, and a touch of greenhouse towards the finish.  The tart red fruit had plenty of tannins which coated the lips and teeth along with a certain perfumed flavor.  Upon revisiting it was a bit loose. (87.38)  ** Now-2017.

13 – 2006 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot which was aged for 16 months in 75% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet-ruby.  The light to medium strength nose was initially mature with a bit of wood box. In the mouth there were tangy red fruit, acidity, then fine, pebbly texture.  The fruit became tart, citric red and drier towards the finish.  There was textured aftertaste to this complete wine.  A touch up from #12.  Upon revisiting this showed good weight. (87.38) ** Now-2015.

14 – Linden, Boisseau Red
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 22% Petit Verdot sourced from the Boisseau Vineyard planted in 2000 at 600 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 20 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak. Alcohol 14.4%.  The color was a medium ruby with hints of grape.  The medium strength nose was fruit driven.  The wine tasted young and confident with bright, tart red and blue fruit, citric tannins, and acidity on the tip and sides of the tongue.  It was a bit expansive in the aftertaste but was less integrated than #13. (85.29) ** Now-2015.

15 – 2006 Clos L’Eglise, Pomerol
Imported by R&R Marketing LLC. This wine is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc sourced from 35 year old vines. It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium ruby.  The light nose was a touch mature with almost gravelly red fruit.  In the mouth there was more concentrated, attractive black and red fruit with acidity.  Then plenty of fine wood tannins, which were a touch spicy, came out.  Actually there were lots of powerful tannins. (85.86) ** 2015-2019.

16 – 2005 Chateau Joanin Becot, Cotes de Castillon
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14%.  The color was medium garnet-ruby.  The light nose was of high-toned red and some black fruit.  In the mouth there were tangy, citric red fruit, very fine, drying tannins, and better integration.  Quite young but nice. (89.00)  **(*) 2017-2022.

17 – 2008 RdV, Rendezvous
This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium+ grapey ruby.  The light nose revealed nice fruit, red and black berries.  In the mouth the fruit was slightly earthy, which was interesting, but was not giving up much.  This young wine had drying, ripe tannins.  Upon revisiting it showed better concentration, along with tannins, than the 2009. (84.14) ** 2014-2018.

18 – 2010 King Family Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, Monticello
The color was a light, grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting and concentrated.  In the mouth there was lots of flavor and  delicacy to the riper red fruit.  It was perfumed and showed attractive integration. (85.14)  *** Now-2014.

19 – 2011 Clos Roche Blanche, Cuvee Pif, Touraine
Imported by Louis/Dressner. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cot. Alcohol 12%.  It was a light to medium purple ruby color.  The light to medium nose smell like a European Cabernet Franc dominated wine.  The mouth followed the nose with powdery, red candy fruit, drier flavors, and a little orange citrus.  It firmed up a touch in the finish as tannins were left on the lips. (83.00) ** Now-2015.

20 – 2007 Pearmund, Ameritage
This wine is a blend of 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 17% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot.  The color was light to medium garnet.  The light nose revealed raspberry candy and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe and sweeter red fruit which turned into black fruit.  There was a little weight, candy notes, along with minimal, spicy tannins which were integrated. (82.57)  * Now.

21 – 2009 Barboursville, Cabernet Franc, Reserve
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, from five different clones, which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 14 months in new and used French oak barriques. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was scented with greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were ripe, sweet, black and red fruit.  It was rather sweet, the ripe tannins, some head in the finish, and less integration than #20. (82.14) * Now.

22 – 2009 Chateau de la Bonneliere, Les Cornelles, Chinon
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was light to medium grapey ruby.  The light nose smelled thinner, like wet Cabernet Franc, and salt water.  In the mouth the light fruit sat in a structure with flavors of old vintage perfume, and tangy red citrus in the finish.  There were fine+ tannins, a touch spicy, as flavors thinned out. Better than #21 and #22. (83.00) * Now.

23 – 2007 Black Ankle, Crumbling Rock, Frederick County
This wine is a blend of 34% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvingon, 22% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The light to medium strength nose was of higher-toned, mixed berries.  In the mouth the mixed fruit was concentrated with some sweetness, good integrated then a touch of heat in the finish, and a lifted aftertaste.  Upon revisiting this showed enjoyable ripe fruit.  (84.43)  ** Now-2016.

24 – 2008 Puriri Hills, Pope, Clevedon
Imported by Nice Legs LLC. This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and 16% Carmenere. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light+ nose revealed finely scented berries along with a greenhouse/pine aromas.  In the mouth the black and red fruit initially mixed with acidity then remained lively throughout.  There were almost juicy black fruit with a tannins structure for aging. (85.43)  * Now-2015.

25 – 2009 Yannick Amirault, Les Quartiers, Bourgueil
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This is 100% Cabernet Franc fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 12 months in tonneaux. Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby-garnet.  The light nose revealed overly ripe fruit and some stink.  In the mouth the black and red fruit felt clumsy and flavor with a line of very drying, fine wood tannins.  Below #24 by a touch.  (80.67) * Now.

FLIGHT 4 – YOUNG REDS ( Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated Blends)

Brett and Alyssa

The tasting speeded up during this last flight.  The Cliff Ledge was my favorite followed by the Gramercy Cellars, which in this case, suffered from lack of decanting.  Of the Virginian wines the Linden, Hardscrabble was the most interesting followed by the Glen Manor.

26 – 2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light nose was finely textured but played it close.  In the mouth there was focused, tangy black fruit which was integrated with acidity and ripe tannins.  The flavors became riper towards the finish where there was a little warmth.  Upon revisiting this showed fine, dense flavors. (87.29) ** Now-2015.

27 – 2009 RdV, Lost Mountain
This wine is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of ripe, sweet dark fruit.  In the mouth there was riper black fruit and watering acidity before it thinned out a bit.  The finish firmed up with dry tannins. (83.29) ** Now-2015.

28 – 2008 Glen Manor, Hodder Hill
This wine is a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 7% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a medium ruby garnet.  The light nose had a bit of roasted red fruit.  In the mouth there was very tart, acidic red fruit, with a tannic structure.  There was watering acidity and a little rough finish.  Upon revisiting this showed citric, red fruit. (84.67) ** Now-2016.

29 – 2009 Barboursville, Octagon
This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot which was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12-14 months in new French oak Gamba barriques. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium purple ruby.  The light nose revealed tamales and red fruit.  In the mouth the wine was tighter with balanced black and red fruit, firm structure, and very fine tannins.  It is hard and needs time to unfold. (85.43)  *(*) 2015-2018.

30 – 2007 Linden, Hardscrabble
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot, and 4% Carmenere sourced from vines planted between 1985 and 2006 at the Hardscrabble Vineyard at 1,300-1,400 feet. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 18 months in used French and Hungarian oak barrels and puncheons. Alcohol 14.2%.  The color was a medium grapey ruby.  The light nose was interesting.  In the mouth the tangy fruit initially mixed with acidity then drier black and red fruit flavors developed.  It was a little gravelly with powdery, redder fruit towards the finish. (85.29) ** Now-2017.

31 – 2005 Melqart, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, Malta
Imported by First Vine. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot which was aged for five months in barrels. Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light with seaside aromas.  In the mouth, oh cr*p, no! (75.23)  Poor.

32 – 2009 Boxwood, Topiary
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec which was fermented in stainless steel then aged up to 12 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium garnet.  The light to medium strength nose was lifted with old perfume aromas.  In the mouth there was a little CO2 with interesting, stinky fruit.  It was a bit racy with lipstick, drier flavors in the finish, and a long greenhouse aftertaste. (82.00) * Now-2015.

33 – 2009 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District
This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 1% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc which was aged for 17 months in 60% new French oak. Alcohol 14.9%.  The color was a medium+ garnet..  The light now was of good, pure red fruit.  In the mouth there was good mouthfeel, controlled ripeness, a little spice, and some firmness.  There was citric acidity. I would see what happens with age. (86.86) **(*) Now-2018.

Two Wines from La Grange Tiphaine

August 25, 2012 2 comments

During my visit to Wishing Well Liquors Philip recommended a wine from Domaine la Grange Tiphaine.  He is very excited about the work of Damien Delecheneau and his wife Coralie.  The estate has 19th century origins and has been passed down the family through four generations to Damien.  Damien and Coralie had extensive international experience by the time Damien returned to the estate in 2002 at the age of 23.  Today they produce wine from 14 hectares of vineyards located in Montlouis-sur-Loire, Touraine-Amboise, and Touraine.  The two selections featured in this post come from Touraine-Amboise.  This appellation is located on both banks of the Loire river near the Chateau Amboise.  They manage the estate in an organic and biologic way.  Fermentation is carried out with indigenous yeasts.  They do not employ any stainless steel so these wines see a mixture of concrete, fiberglass, and oak.

Damien in a Vineyard, Image from Dme la Grange Tiphaine

I was rather surprised by the Ad Libitum because it started off as a good, early-drinking red but then it managed to return with serious, mouthfilling flavors.  With this estate on my radar I promptly grabbed a bottle of Clef de Sol during a recent trip to MacArthur Beverages.  The Clef de Sol provided new aromas and flavors for us.  It was more robust and contained more fruit on the first night so it is best to consume the bottle after you open it.  This might have merited a higher score based solely on the first night but nevertheless it remains an interesting wine.  I recommend trying both of these selections.  For further information I suggest you read Chris Kissack’s excellent producer profile and Jim Bud’s post about his visit.  The Ad Libitum was purchased at Wishing Well Liquors and the Clef de Sol was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Domaine la Grange Tiphaine, Ad Libitum, Touraine-Amboise – $17
Imported by Potomac Selections.  This wine is a blend of 45% Gamay, 35% Cot, and 20% Cabernet Franc sourced from 15-45 year old vines on soils of red clay and limestone.  It was aged for five months in fiberglass tank.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose revealed bright red fruit, pepper, and dried herbs.  In the mouth the flavors start with good, classic pepper but then they fade out only to return with a low-lying, mouthfilling flavors of dark, ripe, lipsticky fruit.  There are drying, sticky tannins on the teeth as red fruit and a bit of tang come out in the finish.  There is also some salivating acidity and citric tannins in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.

2005 Domaine la Grange Tiphaine, Clef de Sol, Touraine-Amboise – $18
Imported by Cambier Imports.  This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Cot sourced from 60-year-old vines on soils of white flint and limestone on clay.  Alcohol 13.5%.  It was fermented in concrete tank followed by aging in 225l and 400l barriques.  This was a medium+ color of garnet and cherry.  The light to medium strength nose was unusual with pleasing aromas neither Jenn nor I could place.  There were also aromas of wood notes and perfumed, black fruit.  In the mouth there were hard, stone-like flavors, black fruit, then some wood note mixed with a bottle-aged personality.  The flavors became a little hollow in the middle.  Tart on the tongue, there was a little salivating acidity and old wood.  In the finish the dry, tight flavors mixed with old perfume, drying tannins, and subtle weight which gently filled the mouth.  ** Now-2017.

Tasting a Few Wines While Checking Out Lou’s Expansion

September 6, 2011 1 comment

The Future Wine Cellar

Last month workers cleanly demolished a corner of Lou’s house to start on a kitchen, dining room, and wine cellar expansion.  The wine cellar will be located in the newly expanded basement.  It will feature massive amounts of insulation, a split cooling system, LED lighting, and allow for the storage of several thousand bottles.  Lou has sent me some pictures over the last few weeks so when our schedules aligned yesterday afternoon I jumped at a chance to take a look at the construction.  We naturally enjoyed a bit of wine while chatting about the progress thus far.

2003 Michel-Schlumberger, Chardonnay, La Brume, Dry Creek Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented and aged in French oak barrels.  There was a healthy looking golden/nutty color.  But on the nose there waves of nut aromas and a lactic note.  Clearly too old with Lou finding an odd sweet character in the mouth.  Sometimes there are bottles in the MacArthur’s dump bins that are not drinkable, this was one of them.  Over priced at $20. No Stars. Past.

2009 Domaine de la Chaise, Sauvignon, Touraine
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc aged in stainless steel tanks.  This wine was the color of light straw.  The light nose was crisp, with light amounts of ripe, gritty fruit.  A fresh apple-citrus quality matched the liveliness.  A decent wine for the rather affordable price. ** Now.

2005 Ridge, Syrah, Lytton West, Dry Creek Valley
This wine is a blend of 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier that was fermented with natural yeasts then aged for 21 months in American oak.  There was a solid medium+ youthful color.  The light to medium strength nose had a nose of roast.  In the mouth it showed on the young side due to a lack of integration and its primary rather than complex flavor.  The redder fruits had Viognier lift, with tasty midpalate flavors.  There was an assertive, spicy aspect.  This is a good, solid wine that will plug along for years to come.  While it is a notch above our daily drinkers it was sensitive to temperature and not that interesting. **(*) Now-2017.

Lou and Aaron