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Five Young Wines from Cotes du Rhone, Roussillon, and Herault

I found myself in Friendship Heights last month and being in need of some drinking wine I stopped by Paul’s.  I walked out with five different bottles, the first four of which I recommend.  These wines are on the young side so they should show best next year.  The 2010 Domaine Les Genstas, Signargues had a beautiful nose but needs the palate to relax from some bottle age.  Domaine Tramontane is the project of Philippe Gard and Andy Cook.  These names might sound familiar because Philippe Gard owns Coume del Mas.  You may read some of my thoughts on the 2003 and 2004 vintages in my post Coume del Mas, Collioure.  I thought their 2011 Domaine Tramontane, Cotes du Roussillon has promising future at an attractive price. The 2009 Domaine Gardies, Les Millères was young and serious, also the driest of the lot. The 2010 Pic & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone was a young, pure, and clean Cotes du Rhone.  These wines were purchased at Paul’s Wine and Spirits.

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2010 Les Vignerons D’Estezargues, Domaine Les Genestas, Cotes du Rhone Villages Signargues – $17
A Jenny & Francois Selections imported by USA Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Carignan sourced from 20-80 year old vines.  The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 10 months in enamel lined tanks.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose developed nicely with fresh berries, baking spice…really quite nice.  In the mouth were fresh fruit flavors tart with minerals before a firm/serious middle.  The acidity was seamlessly integrated before coming to a graphite finish.  The wine seems to firm up with air.  There was a little citrus not in the finish and aftertaste.  This remained a beautiful wine that needs a little time in the bottle.  **(*) 2014-2019.

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2011 Domaine Tramontane, Cotes du Roussillon – $15
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% old-vine Grenache.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose begun a little reduced then revealed subtle aromas of pungent black fruit.  In the mouth there was controlled, dense, young black fruit then pungent red and black fruit with some ripeness.  Young fruit now but a fine future ahead.   It had a cool nature, a little ripeness, and expansion in the mouth.  **(*) 2014-2020.

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2009 Domaine Gardies, Les Millères, Cotes du Roussillon Villages – $19
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 20% Carignan, and 5% Mourvedre.  It was aged for 12 months in 50% cuve béton and 50% demi-muids. Alcohol 13.5%.  The light nose bore blue fruit and a little wood note.  In the mouth this was a good, young wine that was serious but tastes of some young vines.  The blue fruit was a little ripe, with some weight, then acidity and drier flavors in the back of the mouth.  There was some extract and noticeable acidity in the finish.  **(*) Now-2020.

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2010 Pic & Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone – $16
Imported by Nice Legs.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose bore some young, assertive aromas.  There were young flavors in the mouth and firm tannins with black minerals.  The wine played it close in the middle but had a good aftertaste.  There were pure and clean flavors followed by very fine, ripe, black fruited texture in the aftertaste.  Good future.  *** 2014-2019.

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2009 Le Chemin Des Reves, Saltimbanque, Carignan, VdP De L’Herault – $13
Imported by USA Wine Imports.  This wine is 100% old-vine Carignan.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was of raspberry and pungent red fruit aromas along with some black fruit.  There was a certain firmness to the black fruit then a powdery ripeness as the wine became all-around approachable.  There were smooth tannins integrated with the acidity, and a hint of earth.  There was some softness but not too much, for drinking now.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Château d’Oupia, Les Heretiques

When I first sampled this wine I was not surprised to come across a wine I liked but rather one so affordable. Eight bottles later I can confirm this is a very approachable bottle of old-vine Carignan for current drinking.  At $10 per bottle you should buy it by the case for a juicy and quenching summer drink that stands up to scrutiny. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Château d’Oupia, Les Heretiques, Pays d’Herault – $10
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from 40+ year old vines of which half is fermented in barrel and the other half by carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 13%. The nose was grapey with berry aromas. In the mouth were grapey, ripe and fresh berries, purple notes, and good integration of juicy acidity. There were some black minerals in the slightly-round finish along with notes of violet. This is a quenching wine that does not require further aging. *** Now-2014.

Tasting Samples with Josefa Concannon of Louis/Dressner Selections

A few weeks ago I happened to be at MacArthur Beverages when Josefa Concannon of Louis/Dressner Selections was visiting the store.  She was pouring six different samples which I was fortunate to taste.  The Louis/Dressner portfolio is quite interesting and certainly has a strong following.  I am pleased to see an increased selection of their wines in Washington, DC so was more than happy to taste through Josefa’s samples.   Though it was fun to taste Francois Cazin’s Cour-Cheverny made from the Romorantin grape I preferred the 2011 Domaine du Closel, Jalouise, Savennieres and 2011 Chateau D’Oupia, Heretiques Rouge, Pays d’Herault.  The former has an average Wine-Searcher price of $20 and the later $11.  That makes for two very attractive wines at strong prices.  Please find my brief notes below.

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2009 Francois Cazin, Cour-Cheverny
This wine is 100% Romorantin sourced from 40-year-old vines and an 80-year-old parcel.  It was fermented in concrete tanks then aged on the lees for four months in barrel followed by 12 months in concrete tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  In the mouth there was white fruit which was slightly weighty, dry, and mildly ripe.  It had good texture.

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2011 Domaine du Closel, Jalouise, Savennieres
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from 15-20 year old vines which were aged 12 months on the lees.  Alcohol 14.5%.   The nose had aromas of mildly ripe berries.  In the mouth there was a softer start followed by grippy flavors of white fruit and stones supported by good acidity.  The flavors build in the mouth showing nice weight.  I enjoyed this.

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2011 Chateau D’Oupia, Heretiques Rouge, Pays d’Herault
This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from 40+ year old vines with 50% barrel fermented and 50% carbonic maceration.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a good nose of expressive berries.  In the mouth the flavors were cooler and grapey before becoming racy.  The acidity and fruit were integrated providing a well-rounded wine with good energy.  I enjoyed this too.

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2010 Chateau D’Oupia, Tradition Rouge, Minervois
This wine is a blend of 50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, and 10% Grenache sourced from 50+ year old vines.  The nose was a little more serious.  In the mouth it was a touch more vibrant and assertive.  The the flavors were light the middle was expansive.  It showed a touch more tart acidity and presence of structure.

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2011 Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie
This wine is 100% Gamay.  The nose was grapey with greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth there were red and black fruit which were grapey on the tongue tip.  The grapey tannins mixed with pepper and graphite.

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2011 G. Descombes, Morgon
This wine is 100% Gamay which was fermented in cement tanks with underwent semi-carbonic maceration with indigenous yeasts.  There was a good nose of black berries.  In the mouth the flavors were a little tart with grapey fine tannins, Gamay like, and weight which lay on the tongue.  There was pepper and a dry structure.

An Older-Wine Dinner at Joan’s House

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Joan has been a lover of fine wine for quite some time. She has bought a variety of wines over the years both from local stores and also on national and international wine trips. She has held on to particular bottles which she likes to bring out once they are mature. Joan recently hosted a dinner so that she could open the 1992 and 1993 Beringer, Private Reserve. The wines this evening were lovely. With the exception of the completely faded fruit of the Veedercrest all of the bottles were in great shape and developed throughout the course of the evening. My thanks go out to Joan for hosting an evening of wonderful food and wine.

2010 Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette, Les clapas Blanc, VdP de l’Herault
Imported by Elite Wines. This a blend of 40% Carignan Blanc, 30% Granache Blanc, and 30% Terret Bourret. Though a lighter color in the glass the nose was medium strength with focused aromas of white flowers and stones. This medium bodied wine offered lemon flavors with plenty of stone notes, tilting towards a tart profile with green apple flavors. This was a fresh wine that is young and will benefit from short-term cellaring. If you must drink it now then decant it for one to two hours. *** 2015-2019.

2009 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Les Caillerets, Chassagne Montracher 1er Cru
Imported by MacArthur Beverages. Two-thirds of the fruit is sourced from 60-year-old vines with the remaining third from 20-year-old vines. The nose was young with a subtle ripeness of fruit mixed with flint. The gentle texture bore apple-like tart fruit which developed lifted flavors of flint as the wine breathed. There were some toast notes in the finish. This tight wine slowly developed before the bottle was finished, this definitely requires cellaring before it will reveal its full personality. **(**) 2017-2022.

Opening the red wines

After the Bouillabaise we moved onto the red wines. Joan cooked braised short-ribs accompanied by roasted Brussel sprouts and root vegetables. The Veedercrest and Beringers had been stood up a day or two ahead and opened shortly before being poured. The Judd’s Hill had been double-decanted to remove sediment thus had four to five hours of air.

Corks from the 1974 Veedercrest and 1993 Beringer

I did not start with the best luck in removing the corks. The Judd’s Hill cork crumbled in two using a waiter’s corkscrew and the 1992 Beringer cork got stuck. So I switched to my poor-man’s Durand corkscrew composed of the worm from a Screwpull and an Ah-So. This worked wonders with the Beringer corks. The Veedercrest cork did not want to come out so at Lou’s advice I put the bottle on the floor between my feet. After some concentrated tugging and twisting it finally came free!

1974 Veedercrest Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Cask YUG 77 Batch 2, Sonoma County
This was a vibrant medium garnet color. The musky nose was animale with dark fruit notes. Eventually the musk blew off to reveal a nose of old wood. The flavors were light in the mouth, still a little acidity to keep things going. The fruit had faded way leaving old sweet wood notes. * Now.

1992 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 57% Bancroft Ranch, 21% State Lane, 14% St. Helena Home, and 5% Chabot along with Cabernet Franc from Bancroft. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. This was a medium garnet color. The nose was medium strength with aromas of meat stew, a little roast, and Hoison sauce (or was it sweet soy sauce?). The complex flavors were very expansive at the start before a midpalate of tart red and black fruit flavors. With air the roast veggies and soy/Hoison sauce remained but the fruit became riper and balanced everything out. **** Now-2017.

1993 Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley
This is a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 62% Bancroft Ranch, 24% St. Helena Home, and 11% Tre Colline along with 2% Cabernet Franc from Bancroft and 1% Cabernet Franc from Tre Colline. Each vineyard was aged for two years in new French oak before blending. The nose was subtler than the 1992 with the fruit more primary and aromas of herbs. In the mouth the youthful flavors were subtler, a little chewy as they were mixed with grapey tannins. There was a lovely cedar box component in the tart and gritty finish. **** Now-2019.

1997 Judd’s Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Compared to the Beringers the nose was simpler with riper fruit and tobacco with the aromas becoming delineated with air. In the mouth the youthful and tight flavors were of tart red fruit, tobacco, and cedar. But over the evening it started to open up very well. This is a lovely wine just hinting at maturity and will undoubtedly develop for many years to come. ***(*) 2015-2025.

After the red wines we moved onto a trio of desserts made by Joan’s friend Patty. To accompany the fruit tart, rice pudding, and apple cobbler Joan offered a selection of dessert wines with Lou picking one from the Loire. Located within the Coteaux du Layon the village of Chaume sets its own requirements which include a significantly higher minimum level of sugar from grapes that must be affected by botrytis (noble rot) or passerillage (drying of the grapes by the sun). Joan used to drink quite a few wines from Chaume with this particular bottle purchased for $23 from MacArthur Beverages some years ago. After trying this bottle I am kicking myself for being content to read about these sweet wines made from Chenin Blanc instead of actually drinking them!

1997 Domaine Cady, Coteaux du Layon Chaume
Imported by Vintner Select. There was a woodsy amber color. This was fun to smell with aromas of maderized pear and apple that opened up rapidly. In the mouth the flavors were well-perfumed with lots of residual sugar but good acidity, plenty of sweet spices, flavors of apricot, and an unctuous caramelized apple-cinnamon and sugar vein. Incredibly tasty and enjoyed by all. **** Now-2025.

Lou, Joan, and the Author

Revisiting the 2008 Mas Conscience, Les Cas

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I first tried a bottle of the Mas Conscience, Les Cas back in April 2011 at which point I found my bottle underwhelming.  Phil recently received more inventory at MacArthur Beverages so I decided to try it again.  This bottle showed much better with interesting potential.  This old-vine Carignan is slowly evolving so it  is a good candidate for cellaring.  If you have patience then squirrel a few bottles away in your cellar.  In the mean time, if you need some old-vine Carignan to drink while this cellars than grab the 2007 l’Argentier, Carignan, Vieilles Vignes.

2008 Mas Conscience, Les Cas, VdP l’Herault – $18
Imported by Vintage ’59.  This wine is 100% Carignan sourced from a six acre vineyard of 50 year old vines then fermented and aged in cement vat.  The nose reveals hard red fruit with a touch of floral aromas.  In the mouth the black fruits are driven by a fair amount of salivating acidity.  While the immediate flavors contain stones there is dried potpurri in the aftertaste.  I would give this at least another two years before trying again.  Drink 2014-2020.

Three Enjoyable Wines Under $12

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently picked up these selections from MacArthurs.  After I had picked up the bottles I specifically wanted, Phil pointed out the Moulin de Gassac and Duorum as recent affordable additions to the shelves.  John pointed at the Coriole.  I must admit I was a bit sceptical about the Coriole with it being a Sangiovese/Shiraz blend.  Perhaps this was due to a limited familiarity with their more classical Lloyd Reserve and Mary Kathleen.  But it was good, Jenn thought so too.  Both the Coriole and Moulin de Gassac have a couple of years bottle age on them which really helps.  The Coriole is in the vigorous midst of its prime whereas the Moulin de Gassac has peaked.  The Dourum drinks like the younger wine it is with Jenn finding it quite attractive.  Having just drunk the 2009 Dourum, Colheita I can taste the familial resemblance and am impressed by the quality and the price.  I recommend you try all three.  $31 for three bottles of interesting wine is a good deal.

2008 Coriole Vineyards, Sangiovese/Syrah, McLaren Vale – $10
This is imported by Robert Whale Selections.  This Classic selection wine is a blend of 51% Sangiovese and 49% Syrah.  The supple, meaty fruit show some confected notes before it becomes dusty and dark.  Some tart red fruit comes out as tannins coat the inside of the cheeks.  This pleasing wine has settled down from some bottle age.  The aftertaste leaves fresh flavors of menthol.  This wine is quite large in the mouth with a richness that belies the relatively low alcohol.  A good value.

2010 Duorum, Tons, Douro – $12
This is imported by Winebow Inc.  This entry-level wine is a blend of 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Tinta Roriz.  The fruit is sourced from vineyards grown on soils of schist at altitudes of 400-600 meters.  The wine is aged for six months in 2nd and 3rd year French and American oak barrels.  In the glass the wine is a ruby color with purple rim.  The nose reveals powdery, fruity aromas.  In the mouth the flavors are fruity with a strong floral, black berry note that is quite attractive.  The flavors start off a tad soft before it becomes juicy with plenty of acidity and a good finish that is racy with black fruit.  This is ready for current consumption.

2008 Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem, VdP Hersault – $9
This is imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 25% Granche, 20% Mourvedre, and 15% Carignan sourced from vines on soils of Jurassic limestone.  The wine was aged 6-7 months in stainless steel.  The wine is a light+ ruby color in the glass.  The light nose started off with earthy, red fruit before revealing strawberry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors start off pleasantly ripe with black fruit that turns towards sour red fruit (but not in a bad way).  The flavors become simple but remain enjoyable.  There is a bit of sweet spice in the finish, some very fine tannins, and a smidge of salivating acidity.  This wine has entered its mature phase and though it is not complex, it is satisfying and a good value that should be drunk up in the near term.

Christmas Eve Wines

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Though I took a Christmas break from posting on Hogshead Wine, I certainly continued drinking wine and even managed to take several notes.  Jenn and I were diligent and organized this season regarding our Christmas decorating and shopping but I was not even close to picking wines for our Christmas Eve dinner.  That all changed when Phil told me he got in several bottles of Domaine de la Grange des Peres.  I was then left with the difficulty of picking a second red wine to drink with it.  I delayed my decision until I decanted the Grange des Peres and decided the 2007 Domaine Leon Barrel, Valiniere would act as a counterpoint.  The Grange des Peres is imported by Kermit Lynch and available at MacArthurs for $90.  The Leon Barral is also imported by Kermit Lynch with the 2008 vintage available for $70 at MacArthurs.  I typically open wines that I can afford to drink on a daily or weekly basis so it is with hesitation that I splurge.  I have no remorse in buying the Grange des Peres!  It is exactly the sort of wine which I love and I highly recommend that you seek out a bottle.  This wine is fabulous to drink right now but will age for many years to come.

Deborah and Aaron

Laurent Vaille is the producer of Domaine de La Grange des Peres.  Having worked for Jean-Francois Coche-Dury, Gerard Chave, and Eloi Durrbach he purchased land in 1989 in l’Herault near Mas de Daumas Gassac.  After clearing the land through a combination of dynamite and boulders, he planted his vines on south-facing slopes.  His Syrah cuttings were sourced from Gerard Chave and his Cabernet Sauvignon from Eloi Durrbach.  He produces just two wines a blanc and a rouge.   I now understand the cult status of Laurent’s wines.

2007 Domaine de La Grange des Peres, VDP de l’Herault
This is a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from 15-20 year old vines located on soils of glacial scree and limestone.  The varietals are vinified and aged separately in 228 liter barrels for up to two years before blending and bottling.  This wine engages you with its complex nose from the second you pull the cork.  There are earthy red fruit flavors, smoke, dark berries, and a complex personality right out of the bottle.  The flavors are racy, delicate, and dance on the tongue despite the density.  The fruit is ripe with notes of stones and a brambly aftertaste.  My mom found the flavors “strong, come in with incense.”  There is a lovely salinity.  It was certainly more fun to drink this wine than to write my tasting note! ****(*) Now-2024+.

2007 Domaine Leon Barral, Valiniere, Faugeres
This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah that was aged for 24-26 months in 10% new oak.  Against the Grange des Peres this showed brighter red fruit, concentrated flavors before a gritty quality with tart acidity in the finish.  There are ample, fine dusty chalk flavors.  The nose eventually reveals herbs with the wine leaving an overall impression of fine texture.  My mom found a “citrus beginning” with “light, mild, middle flavor” followed by “pungent tartness.”  This bottle seemed a bit shutdown and I think needs more age.**(**) 2015-2020.