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Vacqueyras white and red

Lou, David Aaron, Jenn, and I gathered in our kitchen for a blind tasting.  As it was my turn to host I opened six bottles from Vacqueyras believing all would enjoy them.  I find this region produces riper and less tannic wine than Gigondas yet is still capable of a touch of age.  It is moderate age that I hoped to explore.

We kicked things off with Lou’s bottle of 2006 Pierre Andre, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Blanchots.  The attractive interplay between fruit, yeast, and stones coupled with near-maturity meant it drank well and was finished off before I could revisit the bottle.  The second wine tasted, being the first bottle of Vacqueyras, is also a white wine.  The 2013 Sang de Cailloux, Un Sang Blanc, Vacqueyras Blanc is a tropical, complex wine with a luxurious mouth feel.  Phil still stocks this wine at MacArthur Beverages so if you have yet to try Vacqueyras blanc then you owe it to try a bottle with your friends.  Also available is the first red wine we tasted 2012 Domaine le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras.  This is a mature, affordable Vacqueyras which transitioned us from white to red.

The 2006, 2005, and 2003 trio of Domaine de la Charbonniere remained true to the vintage.  The 2006 is a balanced almost elegant wine.  The 2005 is more aromatic and offers additional complexity from garrigue and wood box elements.  The 2003 is the most powerful, borders on rugged and leans towards plum flavors.  All of these wines drank well over two nights but the 2006 and 2005 are my favorite.  Right now they offer a good mix of maturity and fruit.

Finally, the 2000 Domaine de la Garrigue, Vacqueyras is completely mature.  The fruit is fading, instead replaced by deep ethereal flavors of garrigue and earth.  It is still satisfying but is starting to dry up.

2006 Pierre Andre, Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Blanchots
Imported by William Harrison Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  It is a fresh, light yellow straw color.  The nose mixes fruit and yeast while the mouth brings round, white fruit with a good level of weight and stones.  Tasty.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2013 Sang de Cailloux, Un Sang Blanc, Vacqueyras Blanc – $50
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 20% Clairette, 20% Grenache Blanc, 15% Bourboulenc, 15% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, and 15% Viognier sourced from young vines.  It was fermented and raised in oak.  There are complex, sweet tropical aromas.  In the mouth is a round flavorful version of the nose. This racy wine is still young with nearly crisp acidity and a seductive rich mouth feel that borders on melted fat.  The white, exotics fruits move through the richness leaving the impression of a brighter finish.  **** Now – 2022.

2012 Domaine le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache sourced from vines at least 30-50 years of age. The fruit was completely destemmed then aged in both stainless steel tanks followed by enamel coated concrete tanks. Alcohol 14%.  The subtle nose is mature with dark aromas.  In the mouth are dark berries that mix with a mineral and black middle.  This morphs in to a black graphite finish.  The tannins are largely resolved and coupled with a certain sense of relaxation, I suspect this is drinking at its peak.  *** Now.

2006 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre  with Cinsault.  Alcohol 14.5%. There is a good dose of garrigue thrown in the mix.  The wine is juicy in a way but the fine structure dries and tightens by the finish leaving the impression of backbone.  With air more fruit becomes apparent balancing the structure against the bright, red and black dense core.  The balance becomes notable as does a certain elegance.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2005 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre  with Cinsault.  Alcohol 15%.  The dark nose made complex by floral incense is more intense than the 2006 vintage.  At first dark fruit mixes with wood box notes carried by lively acidity into the dry finish.  With extended air there is absolutely no decline to the black fruit, garrigue, and slight spiciness.  The black cherry fruit is dance and balanced.  ***(*) Now – 2022.

2003 Domaine de la Charbonniere, Vacqueyras
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that was aged for 6-8 months in big oak tanks.  Alcohol 15%.  There are rounded, drying flavors due to structure from the start with mature flavors in the middle, and a slightly green/fresh finish that leaves tannins on the gums.  With air the structure, tang, and grip at the end is noticeably more rugged than the 2005 vintage.  This vintage is about plum flavors and power rather than balance.  A bit of black fruit and polished wood are left in the aftertaste.   ***  Now – 2020.

2000 Domaine de la Garrigue, Vacqueyras
Imported by European Cellars.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This most mature in color and on the nose.  In the mouth intensity of the fruit is replaced by deep ethereal flavors of garrigue and earth.  There is still a dry and powdered structure supporting the firm, red cherry notes.  *** Now but will last.

You should buy the 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras this weekend

Domaine Palon is a small estate located in Gigondas.  From 17 acres in Gigondas and 12 acres in Vacqueyras the family has produced wine for four generations.  However, it was not until 2003 that the wine was first bottled under the family name.  The 2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras is a strong value.  It is one of those wines enjoyable in its vigorous, powerful youth yet should develop and open up over the next few years.  With the cold weather in our forecast I would stock up on a few bottles this weekend.   This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2015 Domaine Palon, Vacqueyras – $20
Imported by Misa Imports.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah.  Alcohol 14.5%. This is a black fruited, floral and mineral wine with a very focused core of ripe fruit.  It ripples with power and though it evolves with air to become a tasty wine of youthful vigor the balanced acidity and textured tannins will see it develop over the next couple of years.   ***(*) Now – 2027.

Young Vacqueyras worth cellaring

December 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Though I cut my teeth on decade-old Gigondas, I have a soft spot for the mature wines of Vacqueyras.  This pair of 2014 vintage wines from Domaine la Garrigue offers both fruit and structure for development in your cellar.  In fact, the 2014 Domaine la Garrigue, Vacqueryas is completely backward when first opened.  However, after 24 mysterious hours of interaction with air it reveals its full potential for development.  The wines of la Garrigue can reward aging and this bottle certainly requires it.  The 2014 Domaine la Garrigue, La Cantarelle, Vacqueyras is made from very old vines and offers more up-front savory, weighty fruit flavors.  Though there are more seductive elements, it too is in need of age.  I do not think it will develop for as long a duration as the regular Vacqueyras.  Stock up!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Domaine la Garrigue, Vacqueryas – $22
Imported European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault sourced from 70 year old vines that was aged for 18 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose is slightly pungent with aromas of plum.  After 24 hours the wine is much improved with a savory, weighty start of cranberry, red and black fruits.  There is watering acidity which carries the wine through.  The finish is mouth filling as is the aftertaste which leaves ethereal, ripe flavors on the gum.  I really enjoy this youthful, mineral, and rugged wine.  ***(*) 2020-2030.

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2014 Domaine la Garrigue, La Cantarelle, Vacqueyras – $27
Imported by European Cellars.  This wine is a blend of Grenache from 100 year old vines and Syrah from younger vines that was aged for 24 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 15%.  From the beginning this wine offers up more fruit that is both concentrated and deeper.  A mineral and bitter, black fruit streak weaves through as the wine builds weight, flavors of fat plums, and ripe powdery, cocoa flavored tannins.  This weighty and savory wine has good flavor now but is in need of age.  ***(*) 2019-2025.

A fine 2012 Vacqueyras from Sang des Cailloux

I would drink the wines of Domaine le Sang des Cailloux in Vacqueyras every week if I could.  Last week Jenn and I drank a pair.  Unfortunately, our bottle of 2011 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Doucinello, Vacqueyras was not up to snuff.  However, the newly released 2012 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras  is quite fine.  There is vigor from the acidity.  However, the flavors remain not quite tight, but rather focused until the bottle was finish.  I would check up on this wine next year to get a better idea of what is in store for the future.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Azalais, Vacqueyras – $25
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and Cinsault fermented in cement then aged in foudre.  Alcohol 14%.  The flavors are delivered with acidity driven vigor.  The wine combines blue and citrus fruits that are finely focused.  With air it the blue and cream flavors reveal density.  *** 2017- 2022.

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“Freakishly” good bottles of Chateau des Tours

November 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Produced by various members of the Reynaud family, the wines of Chateau Rayas in Chateauneuf du Pape achieved legendary status amongst lovers of Rhone wines. Indeed, the 2005 Chateau Rayas which Roland opened for me last year, remains one of the best Rhone wines I have ever drunk.  Perhaps more important than the sheer quality is the unique aromas and flavors of Rayas.  With this singularity comes a steep price.  Fortunately, the Reynaud family produces wine not only at Chateau Rayas but also Chateau des Tours and Chateau de Fonsalette.  These later two estates produce wine from Vacqueyras, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaucluse.  Over the years I have found they share an undeniable typicity at respectable prices.

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The wines of Chateau des Tours and Chateau de Fonsalette are scattered amongst the posts in this blog.  When I first started tasting through the series of blind wines at Phil’s house, the Reynaud wines were the last thought on my mind.  I would not have guessed I would sit down to an entire flight of them.  Indeed, with the first two wines, 2010 Domaine des Tours, VdP Vaucluse and 2010 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Cotes du Rhone, I thought were Trousseau from the Jura.  However, as the wines opened up and I progressed through the tasting, my thoughts turned to des Tours in the Rhone.  The one ringer stood out and I fully supported David in that it could only be from Domaine le Sang des Cailloux in Vacqueyras.

This was a unique tasting for we tasted vintages back to 1998, which is when Emmanuel Reynaud took over winemaking at all three estates.  The wines were opened but not decanted about two hours prior to tasting.  The 2007 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Vacqueyras was unfortunately a bad bottle.  Every other wine changed throughout the evening.  My favorite wine was the 2006 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Vacqueyras.  While I noted “incredible” in my notes a previous bottle moved me to write “the most beautiful Vacqueyras I have ever drunk.”  This was a huge hit with everyone based on the empty bottle.  I also really enjoyed the 2010 Domaine des Tours, VdP Vaucluse which reminded me in part of the 2006.  Of a different nature, the structured 1998 Chateau des Tours, Reserve, Vacqueyras possessed great energy and Rhone-like ruggedness.

At the end of the tasting, the leftovers were divided up.  By all accounts, the wines continued to improve for the next two days.  For this reason you should view my notes and ratings as just a brief glimpse of these wines.  I highly recommend you try one of these fascinating wines.  I suggest you start with the 2006 Vacqueyras for it is available at $60 which is one-tenth the cost of similarly aged Rayas.

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2010 Domaine des Tours, VdP Vaucluse –
The medium opaque was not out of sync with the initial aromas reminiscent of Trousseau. There is a lovely start in the mouth with ripe strawberry flavors that persist through the aftertaste. With a fuzzy texture, the acidity continues to build, giving strong presence to the wine. The wine improves tremendously with air, revealing great beauty without blunt power. Clearly, there is a substantial amount of potential here. **** 2016-2030.

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2010 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. With a lighter, garnet color than the first wine, this wine reveals a more mature personality. The fine perfume makes way to flavors of red fruit and ultimately a black fruited finish. There acidity is there throughout. Rather closed down. *** 2017-2027.

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2009 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Vacqueyras
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This was a bit stinky at first and also revealed both volatile acidity and raspberry aromas. In the mouth the wine was frizzante in a manner reminiscent of some Barral wines. The wine improved with air the first night, showing a core of blue and red fruit and a coarse personality. By the end of the evening this brute of a wine showed plenty of fruit. The second evening the nose was clean with Kirsch and raspberry candy aromas followed by pure, driven fruit flavors. ***(*) Now – 2030.

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2007 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Vacqueyras
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. There was a similar smell to the 2009 vintage. The wine itself was a little cloud with flavors of old wood, Kirsch, some fruit and less aggression. Clearly an off bottle. Not Rated.

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2007 Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, Cuvee Floureto, Vacqueyras
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This young wine was clearly from the Southern Rhone, specifically Vacqueyras, and not by too far of a stretch Sang des Cailloux. There were leather accented flavors and upfront flavors of Christmas spices that leant for a comforting wine. The flavors were a bit tight with very fine and ripe tannins, minerals, and some extract. Nice stuff. It reportedly took an extra day to open up. ***(*) 2017-2027.

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2006 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Vacqueyras
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. The lighter, more mature color made way to a lighter and mature nose of delicate, berry fruit. Both the nose and flavors indicated that we had moved back in age. In the mouth were ripe, mouthfilling flavors there were lithe and complex. The sweet, red fruit built more and more in intensity until this full-bore wine clearly reminded me of Rayas. Incredible. **** Now -2030.

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1999 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Vacqueyras
The more aggressive, dense start made way to ripe blue fruit in the middle and a dusty finish. This was a more fruit-driven wine with the structure and acidity present. With air there is ample focused, berry fruit, good grip, and wood notes in the middle. ***(*) Now – 2020.

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1998 Chateau des Tours, Réserve, Vacqueyras
The lightest color of the final three. A bit frizzante on the tongue tip but with beautiful concentration similar to a Chateauneuf du Pape. The energy makes the wine seductive but it is wound up with a supportive structure for future development. It apparently took two days for this to open up. **** Now – 2025.

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A traditional Vacqueyras from Clos des Cazaux

November 10, 2015 Leave a comment

If you are looking for a traditional and approachable wine bargain from the Southern Rhone then look no further than the 2012 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras.  This blue fruited and mineral wine already provides comfort without the need for further aging.  It is perfect for the Fall weather.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine le Clos des Cazaux, Cuvee des Templiers, Vacqueyras – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache sourced from vines at least 30-50 years of age.  The fruit was completely destemmed then aged in both stainless steel tanks followed by enamel coated concrete tanks.  Alcohol 14%.  This somewhat old-school wine offers gentle and controlled round flavors of blue fruits and minerals.  The subtle ripeness is matched by integrated acidity and is eventually supported by fine, drying tannins in the end.  With air the wine becomes more mineral and reveals that it should be drunk over the short-term.  *** Now – 2018.

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Four red wines from the Jura, Languedoc, and Rhone.

November 6, 2015 Leave a comment

Of the four wines featured in today’s post I highly recommend you first try the 2013 Clos de Mont-Olivet, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone and the 2012 Domaine Badoz, Trousseau, Cotes du Jura.  The former is an excellent Cotes du Rhone value that will drink well and modestly develop over the next few years.  The later is yet another reason to drink more Trousseau.  It is best drunk on the first night when the fruit is more outgoing.  Lovely stuff!  I suspect Jenn and I have consumed the majority of the Old-School Minervois stocks in the DC region.  From the same producer you may now try the 2012 Chateau Maris, Les Anciens, Minervois La Liviniere which offers up a very good, elegant example of Carignan. I’ll admit my preference for old-school Vacqueyras but if you enjoy the modern-vein then definitely check out the 2012 Domaine de la Colline St-Jean, Vieilles Vignes, Vacqueyras.  This wine will certainly improve with age and is best left in the cellar for the next several years.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Domaine Badoz, Trousseau, Cotes du Jura – $20
Imported by The Country Vintner.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose evokes cherry liquor with pure and light red fruit in the mouth.  There is some weight to the flavors and an enveloping, fuzzy ripeness.  Though it sports very, very fine and firm structure this wine is best on the first night when it exudes strawberries.  With air it becomes leaner in flavor and more mineral.  *** Now – 2018.

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2012 Chateau Maris, Les Anciens, Minervois La Liviniere – $27
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is mostly Carignan that was fermented with indigenous yeasts in oak tanks then aged for 18 months in oak vats.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose matched the flavors in the mouth with its somewhat dense, grapey, flavors of purple and black fruit.  This is a fruity and acidity driven wine with minimal structure until the finish where some cinnamon spice comes out.  The watering acidity wraps everything up.  Quite elegant and well done.  *** Now – 2018.

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2013 Clos de Mont-Olivet, Vieilles Vignes, Cotes du Rhone – $15
Imported by Dionysos Imports.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Carignan, and 10% Syrah.  Alcohol 14%. The fruity nose sported deep, berry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were clean, well balanced and integrated with fine drying yet slightly ripe tannins.  The flavors of plums, raisins, and minerals turned blacker towards the finish.  With air the wine developed more structure, blue fruit, spices, and a slight cream hint.  **(*) Now – 2020.

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2012 Domaine de la Colline St-Jean, Vieilles Vignes, Vacqueyras – $22
Imported by Kysela et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was aged for 18 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The wine was rich and dark with raisin accented fruit.  In the mouth were ripe purple flavors in this youthful wine.  The fruit was enlivened by watering acidity that matched the grapey nature.  This modern wine turned brighter with air.  Though it has power and ample tannic structure, it is a balanced wine with attractive minerality.  Will certainly improve with age.  **(*) Now -2025+.

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