With spring break winding down it is time to start posting again. Of good value and ripe for drinking is the 2015 Chateau Juvenal, Jolie, Cotes du Ventoux. This is a deep, black fruited wine with a mineral middle which keeps things in perspective. At $15 per bottle, this joint effort between Philippe Cambie and Chateau Juvenal, will please many people. We have already pulled the corks on two bottles! This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2015 Chateau Juvenal, Jolie, Cotes du Ventoux – $15
Misa Imports. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah sourced from 50+ year old vines. Alcohol 15%. This is a youthful wine with deep fruitiness that conveys richness from red then powdery black fruit. Though rich with a smooth start, the wine becomes more focused with a mineral middle and dry finish. *** Now – 2019.
The 2012 Chateau Unang, Le Croix, Ventoux is the flagship wine of Chateau Unang. The fruit is sourced from the highest terraces on the estate where the topsoil may only be eight inches thick over limestone. It is this limestone that you will taste throughout the wine. With several hours of air the wine begins to open up with savory and weighty flavors of black fruit and cherry. If you must try it now then give it a three hour double-decant. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Chateau Unang, Le Croix, Ventoux – $27
Imported by Vintage 59. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault that was aged for 16 months in demi-muid. Alcohol 14%. The nose reveals kirsch followed by black fruit, stones, and a cherry note in the mouth. The wine reveals its depth after several hours. It becomes savory and weighty with good, not quite watering, acidity. There are plenty of stone notes and very fine tannins that build low in the mouth. It never shakes a sense of firmness, leaving the impression it should be cellared for a few years. ***(*) Now – 2022.
The trio of Rhone wines featured in today’s post will please many. For a wine that you can and will want to drink throughout the week, look no further than the 2012 Frederick Arnaud, CDR, Cotes du Rhone. This is a youthful, grapey wine that offers a level of complexity not usually found in the $11 price point. It is a wine to drink this year and you can be assured that I will pick up more when I return to the store. I have now drunk through several bottles of 2012 Andre Brunel, Cuvee Sabrine, Cotes du Rhone Villages. This is a step up in seriousness and longevity. If the Arnaud is a grapey wine then the Brunel is a more mature wine. This is another wine you can drink throughout the week but also age it for a few more years. The 2014 Chateau Unang, Ventoux provides a third fantastic choice for a daily drinker. It moves back to the youthful, grapey side of things but the aromatic nose and supple flavors clearly reflect the effort put into this wine. I recommend you try them all! These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Frederick Arnaud, CDR, Cotes du Rhone – $11
Imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates. Alcohol 14%. This is an attractive, grapey wine with good grip. It opens up well with air revealing slightly racy strawberry flavors, youthful grapey complexity which will hold your interest. I would not cellar this for development, instead just for a few months so the wine opens up some more. ** Now.
2012 Andre Brunel, Cuvee Sabrine, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $14
Imported by Robert Kacher. This wine is a blend of mostly Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Alcohol 14%. The nose is scented with stony, black fruit. The red and black fruit flavors sport some rough and tumble qualities of the Cotes du Rhone. This wine has a bit of everything, some density, some grip, water acidity, and a mineral hint in the finish. The dry black flavors are framed by fine, dry tannins before hints of stone come out again in the aftertaste. It tastes drier with air. **(*) Now – 2019.
2014 Chateau Unang, Ventoux – $14
Imported by Vintage ’59 Imports. This wine is a blend of 65% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault. Alcohol 13.5%. The aromatic nose of youthful fruit is reflected in the supple, weighty grapey fruit flavors in the mouth. The flavors lean towards black fruit, with fine tannins that make for a little bitter and dry finish. This should develop over the short term. ** Now – 2018.
A small selection of wines recently hit the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages. These bottles are the remnants of a collection accumulated by a person that is leaving Washington, DC. They were stored in a wine fridge which gave some assurance. In general the wines are in strong condition with very good labels, corrosion free capsules, and high fills. The wines themselves are all French from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It is a strange lot featuring from decent to off vintages, both negociants and major producers, and several different regions. My first action was tasting the two worst looking bottles.
The 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is from a negociant once known for their Chateauneuf du Pape. The company operated under the Brotte and Pere Anselme names. The later name you might recall from my night at Bern’s Steak House. This particular wine was produced before the company made a transition towards domaine named wines. The bottle had slight signs of old seepage, yet the color and fill were good. The 1978 vintage in the Southern Rhone is a great one so given the price this seemed like a good test of the cellar. It was dry under the capsule, the cork was very easy to pull out, yet it was still solid. The wine inside was quite lively!
The second test bottle came from Bordeaux. David Peppercorn writes in Bordeaux (1991) that Chateau de Camensac would have been a very strong contender for the least known of the classified growth. The estate was purchased by the Forner family in 1965. They also owned Larose-Trintaudon, a frequent wine of my youth, and Marques de Caceras in Rioja. The family put considerable effort into improving the vineyards and winery, they even hired Emile Peynaud. Peppercorn writes that he liked the 1973 and 1975. There are no Cellartracker notes for the 1973 vintage but there are favorable and contemporary notes for the 1975. This must have been the peak of the estate because Stephen Brook writes in Bordeaux (2006) that numerous vintages from 1975 and onwards are disappointing. The 1973 vintage had “quite good” weather but not the best vineyard work resulting in wines that could have been better. Perhaps then the good weather, initial efforts at the Chateau, and Peynaud’s guidance resulted in a trifecta causing the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc to be a decent wine.
The mid-shoulder fill did not bode well for this bottle but the cork was solid and so was the wine. I knew nothing of the 1973 vintage in Bordeaux so I honestly expected the wine to be undrinkable. Once described as “delicate and velvety” there is, instead, a substance to the red fruit, complexity from leather notes, and a sweaty/savory middle. There is an appropriate amount of green pepper notes too. In comparing the two wines, the 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is nervy from acidity and the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc is a mature, savory claret. Pleased by the results I next took a group of wines to serve blind to Lou and David. Stay tuned!
1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux – $6
Imported by Chrissa Import. Alcohol 12%. For about two hours there were clean red, acidity driven fruit flavors. The wine is tangy and still has ripe, citric pith tannins. The minerally red fruit is bright, perhaps a little thin due to age, but some strawberry flavors come through. *(*) Now.
1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc – $4
Imported by Robert Haas Selects. This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot. Alcohol 11%-14%. There are aromas of green pepper, red fruit, and eventually leather. In the mouth there is surprising depth to the red fruit supported by fresh acidity. The surprise continues with a sweaty, savory mouth filling middle. The tannins are largely resolved but the structure does come out by the finish. It finishes with both leather and earth flavors. After a few hours it takes on a greenhouse characteristic. ** Now.
I have just a quick post for today. The 2013 Lavau, Gigondas is a clean, contemporary Gigondas which you can drink right now. It still sports some robustness to carry you through these chilly Spring days. I think there is a touch more potential with the 2014 Domaine de Berane, Les Blaques, Cotes de Ventoux. With air it shows an appealing mixture of intensity, weight, and creaminess. If you can only afford one bottle then grab this one. It will show best in a year or two so if you try it now then give it several hours of air. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 Lavau, Gigondas – $20
Imported by Monsieur Touton. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. Alcohol 14.5%. This is a creamy with fruit that tastes of young vines. The tart flavors mix with baking spices and plenty of ripe tannins which provide for a somewhat robust finish. Quite appealing in an easy drinking way. **(*) Now – 2021.
2014 Domaine de Berane, Les Blaques, Cotes de Ventoux – $15
Imported by Wine Traditions. This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache which is fermented and aged in cement tanks. There is intensity to the grapey, black fruit which is supported by mid palate weight. With it there is a Big Red and citrus pith note in the middle. With air it takes on a little cream and a touch more weight. **(*) Now – 2022.
With the end of the year approaching I thought it appropriate to start drinking some of the lesser bottles that I have as well as those of which I have several. The 1991 A. Rafanelli Winery, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County came from the Earthquake Cellar. Though in stellar condition it initially tasted of rather acidic, bright red fruit. I thought it a goner so I switched to the double-decanted 2007 Chateau Pesquie, Quintessence, Ventoux. This bottle of Pesquie delivered the goods both with aromas and in the saline accented flavors. It is a large-framed, robust wine that does not fall victim to the high alcohol level. Many hours later, the Rafanelli fleshed out with cherry flavors that balanced the acidity along with attractive wood notes from age. It ultimately came across as reasonably youthful with only the menthol aspect confirming its age.
Also from the 1990s is the 1998 Viking Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon which we last tasted in 2008. This soft, old wine still sported jammy berries with enough acidity to keep it together. The two wines from the 1990s were enjoyable enough to finish and while worthy of the experience, I would not bother seeking them out. Finally, the 2004 Domaine des Espiers, Cuvee Tradition, Gigonda remains a solid enough, modern wine as it did when last tasted in 2011. Perhaps not the most exciting quartet of wines but I do not mind. I just received a slew of wines from 1947 through 1985 which I will be opening up this winter. These bottles should be tons of fun!
1991 A. Rafanelli Winery, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Alcohol 13.8%. After a few hours of air the nose became attractive with sweet, old scents of leather and wood box. Though acidic at first this wine fleshed out with cherry fruit, some weight, and watering acidity through the back of the toast. It showed hints of ripe wood and a menthol finish. ** Now.
1998 Viking Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 12.8%. This licorice flavored wine was rounded and a little soft with jammy berries in the finish. The flavors mixed with old wood, old perfume, and a finish of minimal tannins and menthol freshness. The acidity was bound in the softness, giving it just enough liveliness. ** Now.
2004 Domaine des Espiers, Cuvee Tradition, Gigondas
Imported by the Country Vintner. Alcohol 14.5%. Though this developed some nuanced flavors, it largely remained firm. It was quite tannic at first then firm black and red fruit came out. The watering acidity transitioned to a modern finish with a good dose of fine, drying tannins on the tongue. Not too interesting of a wine. ** Now – 2022.
2007 Chateau Pesquie, Quintessence, Ventoux
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars. This wine is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache. Alcohol 15%. Aromatic on the nose and rich in the mouth with saline infused black and red fruit. Weighty but not overbearing, this wine is taking on bottle aged complexity but still has the vigor of youth. It has some attractive raciness right now but I think it will benefit from several more years of age. ***(*) Now – 2025.
Domaine de Fondrèche has been producing wines for nearly two decades. Purchased by Nanou Barthelemy it is run by her son Sebastien Vincenti. He apprenticed under Andre Brunel and has been inspired by such famous winemakers as Didier Dagueneau, Yvon Metras, and Marcel Lapierre. The 38 hectare estate has vineyards located in three distinct communes. Whereas the Fayard is a estate blend, the Nadal, Persia, and Il Était Une Fois are so called Identi-Terres wines meant to reflect specific yet unstated terroir. The 2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Fayard, Ventoux is a good introduction to the domaine’s wines. This strong value has dense black fruit that matches a creamy and tannic core. For me the Grenache based wines were my favorite. The 2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Nadal, Ventoux had serious, deep flavors. The 2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Il Était Une Fois, Ventoux offered a different perspective from the old-vine Grenache. It showed more acidity, leaving crisp, fresh impressions along with flavors that had grip. As a whole, the 2012 vintage at Domaine de Fondreche has produced a lovely set of wines that require short-term aging. If you do try them now then be sure to give them a long time in the decanter. Otherwise just age them in your cellar. I would not be surprised if the Nadal and Il Était Une Fois show even better after a few years. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Fayard, Ventoux – $15
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre. Alcohol 14%. There was a little roast on the nose. The flavors improved on the second night when the dense-like black fruit surrounded a creamy core. The wine is young, oscillating between creamy and tannic natures. There was salivating acidity in the end as tannins coated the teeth and blue fruit came out in the aftertaste. **(*) 2015-2020.
2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Nadal, Ventoux – $20
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre that was aged one year in a mixture of eggs, barriques, and foudres. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose revealed wet red and black fruit that mixed with some roast. In the mouth were robust flavors, tannins, and an underpinning of ripe strawberry. This young wine had depth. It was primarily black fruited, developing ripeness towards the finish. This wine offers serious, clean fruit, and a spicy aftertaste. It too oscillated in nature so it is best cellared. *** 2016-2024.
2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Persia, Ventoux – $20
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre that was aged one year in barriques and foudres. Alcohol 14.5%. There were black fruit flavors in the mouth, toast, roast earth, and good acidity. The black fruit was young and framed in an ample structure of drying tannins. With extended air it picked up a smoke note and graphite. **(*) 2016-2026.
2012 Domaine de Fondrèche, Il Était Une Fois, Ventoux – $37
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections. This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache from 74 year old vines, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre that was aged in eggs and foudres. Alcohol 14.5%. There were dense flavors of tart, black fruit that had good flavor and citric grip. The wine had a lovely crispness, leaving a very fresh impression. There were some wood notes and ample structure. *** 2016-2026.