A few weeks ago I joined Lou for a game meat (moose, rabbit, etc) dinner party at his house. I took few pictures and even fewer notes but I did stop when I tasted the 2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling. Lou purchased this bottle a few years back when he was in Vienna. Lucky me that he opened it. Bründlmayer produces this wine from a 4 hectare parcel in Steinmassel. This area was originally a quarry and that stone nature clearly comes through in the wine. This is really good stuff!
2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling that was fermented in both stainless steel and large oak casks. Alcohol 12%. The nose is aromatic with fresh floral notes and a petrol hint. In the mouth this vibrant wine begins with white fruit that morphs into petrol followed by a decidedly stoney finish. There is richness to the wine but the flavors are dry with a citric, grippy finish. This is on the upslope of maturity and will only get better. **** Now – 2026.
There were other wines too. A 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut Blanc de Noir, Sonoma Valley really hit the spot. It is mature with the right amount of bubbles and brioche. Others liked it as well for the bottle was rapidly drained. The 2010 Palazzone, Orvieto Classico Superiore Campo del Guardiano is far more mature than the Bründlmayer. The acidity is more piercing with flavors of orchard fruit, dried herbs, and lychees. A solid wine in comparison. We finally had a solid bottle of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, Graves. It was completely drinkable, not too far over the hill, but not worth writing any more about.
I really liked the 2009 Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas. It was four years ago that I last drank this and I now believe it is fully mature. There is less strawberry and Kirsch flavor now. It leans towards an autumnal spectrum with the tannins fully integrated. We soon swung towards the modern spectrum with the 2011 Clos St Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape (16% ABV!) and 2008 Cayuse, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley. Both wines were double-decanted for several hours. The Clos St Jean showed rather well with plenty of grip and some complexity. But it was the Cayuse which wowed me. My best description is as if Chateau des Tours made wine in Walla Walla. Ethereal yet backed by substance, complex with no assertive structure. Great stuff. There was a bottle of 2013 El Nido, Clio, Jumilla which I did not like at all. Too modern, clean, and massive. We wrapped the evening up with a bottle of 1986 Fetzer, Port, Mendocino County. This actually bore a resemblance to a traditional Port. It was a bit simple, short, and spirituous but the flavor profile was right.
I managed to taste some interesting wines during a recent trip to Seattle. I had tasted a Teutonic wine exactly once so when confronted by a $28 bottle of 2012 Teutonic Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Laurel Vineyard Bergspitze Weisse, Chehalem Mountains no thought was required. It is in that lighter, more modern style coming from the west coast with clean flavors that showed tension between ripe and tart. It makes for a good glass to start off the evening. Also in the lighter vein is the outstanding NV Result of a Crush, Christmas Cuvee, Walla Walla. The Result of a Crush wines are produced using declassified fruit from Reynvaan Family Vineyards. Simply put, this beautiful wine had mouth filling flavors and an aftertaste that never quit! Buy all of the bottles you can find! At the opposite end of the spectrum, I find that the wines of COR Cellars are very flavorful and attractively priced. This bottle of 2012 COR Cellars, Momentum, Horse Heaven Hills managed to show the warmth of Washington State without being overwrought.
2012 Teutonic Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Laurel Vineyard Bergspitze Weisse, Chehalem Mountains – $28
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from 31 year old vines that was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 9 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 11.5%. This wine bore lighter flavors of Pinot Noir in a substantive body. The wine was tart towards the middle where a dose of acidity came out and with extended air, a stem-like structure developed. There was good tension between the tart and ripe before a hint of dry, black fruit came out in the finish. Overall while not the most complex wine it remained clean, flavorful, and in no way austere. ** Now-2016.
2012 COR Cellars, Momentum, Horse Heaven Hills – $20
This wine is a blend of 33% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 27% Petit Verdot, and 13% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 10 months in mostly French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose remained aromatic and full-bore which preceded the dense, rounded start with its robust and firm black fruit. There was plenty of ripeness and young structure to boot. The wine clearly exhibits strength but it is not overdone. With air some salt and new wood pokes out before the good aftertaste. *** Now – 2018.
NV Result of a Crush, Christmas Cuvee, Walla Walla – $24
This wine is a blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier with 60% sourced from the 2013 vintage and 40% sourced from the 2012 vintage. Alcohol 13.3%. The light to medium strength matched the flavors and even took on some soil notes. In the mouth the wine had that lighter nature at first then became ripe and mouth filling with watering acidity and subtle expansion. This savory wine developed flavors of mandarin orange and revealed minerals at the finish. The ethereal ripeness of the aftertaste never went away! *** Now-2016.
It is only through friends that I have been able to drink a handful of wines from Cayuse Vineyards. Lou was curious to try one of his bottles so we recently gathered in his kitchen to taste some wines while we ate cheeses, charcuterie, and pasta. We started with the demi-sec 2010 François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux, Montlouis Sur Loire. The complex aromas and flavors were immediately apparent and perhaps due to the rather long fermentation period. At first I wished it had a bit more acidity but then on the second night it all came into balance. I would suggest you buy this outstanding value for your cellar. Lou had opened the 2007 Cayuse Vineyards, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley some 13 hours ahead then decanted before the tasting. Even then it showed more complexity on the second night! This was a bigger wine but the red fruit flavors were light and delivered with precise mouthfeel. Beautiful stuff! Finally we came to the trio from Domaine du Gros ‘Noré. These wines were double-decanted about three hours before we tasted them. These are, perhaps, prototypical classic Bandol with brawn and ample structure. Our bottle of 2005 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol was marred by some volatile acidity that was present on the nose but not distracting from the good, maturing flavor. The 2007 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol was my favorite due to its combination of concentrated fruit, minerals, racy flavors, and balance. It is just entering its drinking window so this is a wine to look out for. The 2011 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol remained young with its grapey flavors but also shutdown. I had a hard time getting a sense of its future but I would not be surprised if, with bottle age, it developed like the 2007.
2010 François Chidaine, Les Tuffeaux, Montlouis Sur Loire
Imported by Dionysos Imports. This demi-sec wine is 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from multiple parcels of vines 30-90 years of age. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in demi-muids for up to six months and did not undergo malolactic fermentation. It was then aged for 11 months on fine lees in demi-muids. Alcohol 13%. The nose was fragrant, textured, and round with aromas of miso, sweet notes then apples. In the mouth was a round start followed by earthy, mineral flavors. There was some residual sugar but also some tannin. The earthy, grass flavors were picked up with food. The acidity was more in a supportive role but became more noticeable on the second evening when the wine was more fruit driven. There was a slight oxidative hint. ***(*) Now-2024.
2007 Cayuse Vineyards, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% “god only knows” sourced from the Armada Vineyard. It was aged in used puncheons purchased from Rene Rostaing. Alcohol 15.2%. This was a big wine but the brighter, lighter red fruit brought forth very attractive cherry flavors. There was a slight wood hint with an uncrushable mouthfeel from glycerin. With air it seamlessly developed complex flavors of oranges, exotic plants, stems, and unique flavors. **** Now-2029.
2005 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium, garnet infused. The volatile acidity did pick up a bit on the nose, present but not distracting because the fruit and wood hints were still there. In the mouth were savory, earthy flavors that mixed with wood box. The flavors improved with air showing firm, black fruit at the start followed by sweet cherry and strawberry. The finish was robust with some heat and roughness. The aftertaste was long leaving a coating of firm minerals. *** Now-2019.
2007 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. This showed good concentration of fruit with a racy and inky midpalate presence. There were flavors of black fruit, hints of red fruit, and minerals as the tannins coated the gums in the finish. This was youngful, all around balanced, and has a long life ahead. Well done. ***(*) Now-2022.
2011 Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol
Imported by Kermit Lynch. This wine is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault sourced from 30 year old vines on soils of clay. The grapes were partially de-stemmed then aged for 18 months in oak foudres. Alcohol 15%. The color was a medium cranberry red, showing youth. The good nose made way to red punch flavored fruit. The wine developed black fruit flavors but in general remained very tightly played. It was dense, a little round, and had hints of grapey fruit in the rather firm tannic structure. The aftertaste brought fine drying tannins and a touch of heat in the back of the throat. Good flavor, definitely needs age. *** 2018-2026.
Of some recently tasted wines from the West coast my favorite was the 2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate. Being aromatic and flavorful it was a wine I just wanted to drink. Next I would have to include the 2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon. Clearly a wine from California, its approachable style will make it hard to leave in the cellar. The Stolpman was purchased at Wishing Well Liquors, the Balboa in Seattle, the Montebruno and Matthew Rorick at Chambers Street Wines, and the rest at MacArthur Beverages.
2010 Windsor Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley – $26
Alcohol 14.1%. The light to medium strength nose was of blue and black berries and leather with a sense of California richness. The fruit followed the nose but had more tart, red fruit. The flavors were expansive with leather and salivating acidity on the front of the tongue. It showed some underlying structure with a big personality but not heady. It retained tart flavors on the tongue tip. **(*) Now-2020.
2006 Ravenswood, Merlot, Sangiacomo, Sonoma Valley – $22
Alcohol 14.9%. The nose bore maturing aromas with a very fine scent of woodbox. The maturing red fruit had some weight, mixing nicely with woodbox flavors, salivating acidity, and some spice. There was some black fruit with weight at first then the wine became drier with salivating acidity. There were spicy tannins and black fruit in the finish which was a little rough. It left wood box and a savory aspect in the aftertaste. Will last but good now. ** Now-2017.
2001 Liparita, Merlot, Napa Valley – $15
Alcohol 14.5%. There was an evergreen nose with underlying mulberry aromas and some tea. The mouth followed the nose with ripe, expansive, red hard cherry flavors. Though mature it still developed with a ending with a slightly rough finish with drying tannins. A second bottle was more advanced with black olive notes. ** Now
2010 Stolpman, Syrah Estate, Santa Ynez Valley –
This wine is a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier. Alcohol 14.1%. The nose was perfumed with berries and a little vanilla. The mouth had a lively start with slightly tangy fresh and red red and black fruit. The acidity came out in the finish. There were soft, billowy flavors which made the wine approachable. It left a tangy and tingly aftertaste on the lips and tongue tip. Nice wine. *** Now-2016.
2010 Balboa, Syrah, Walla Walla Valley – $34
This wine is 100% Syrah which was hand harvested, fermented in open top stainless steel tanks then underwent malolactic fermentation and 16 months of aging in French oak barrels. Alcohol 15%. There was some fragrance to the modern nose. In the mouth the flavors were firm and modern with a little tart and tang to the black fruit. It had a powdery nature with acidity on the sides and back of the tongue. It took on some weight with a subtle toast and smoke in the aftertaste. With air it developed a good middle with more tangy black and red fruit. Not my preferred style. ** 2015-2023.
2010 Montebruno, Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills – $26
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from vines planted in 1998. The fruit was fermented in open top vats with indigenous yeasts then aged for almost 12 months in oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color was lighter as was the nose of light green peppercorns. In the mouth the flavors were acidity driven with lighter weight red fruit on the tongue tip. The cooler fruit was thinner in flavor but still mouth filling. There was a pepper bit and a hint of cardboard. * Now.
2012 Matthew Rorick Wines, Valdiguie – $19
This wine is 100% Napa Gamay Noir sourced from 20 year old vines and aged for four months in very old barrels. Alcohol 12.2%. Lighter red flavors mixed with graphite and acidity. * Now-2014.
I was not sure what sorts of wine I was going to buy when I walked into Pete’s. As I walked down the main wine aisle I spied a selection of wines from Gifford Hirlinger. Back in October 2011 we tried the 2008 vintage of the Stateline Red in An Affordable Washington Wine with a Cool Label. Though this vintage of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend does not include Tinta Cao it remains interesting with its inclusion of Malbec and Tempranillo. There is quite a lot of flavor here for the price. On the first night I thought it might actually develop more complexity but after three days I felt it was a more hedonistic wine for drinking within a few years. It held up well without gas. I thought I would just taste more affordable wines so to go with it I grabbed the 2009 For A Song, Syrah at just $1 more. It proved to be a clean, varietal flavored wine which is more cool-climate styled. I then broke the affordability mold by grabbing the 2011 Owen Roe, Sinister Hand. It had been some time since I opened an Owen Roe wine and I get weak when I see a Rhone blend, so I thought, why not? I was not disappointed for this blend works to great effect. It is always a slight challenge to taste well in a hotel room. I am sensitive about serving temperature so I make good use of the refrigerator to get a bottle at the proper temperature. I am then happy to taste the wine out of a tumbler. The nose may be reduced but I still get a good impression of the wine. These wines were purchased at Pete’s Wine Shop of East Lake.
2010 Gifford Hirlinger, Stateline Red, Walla Walla Valley – $13
This wine is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 9% Tempranillo, and 2% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.7%. The color is a medium grapey ruby. There were concentrated berries in the mouth which encompass the acidity along with some extracted texture and ripe, balanced tannins. There is plenty of red, blue, and darker fruit which is unmoved by air. This is not a muscular wine but there is a denseness which continues into the finish where some tart red fruit comes out. Some structure comes out in the aftertaste as well as a bit of wood. ** Now-2015.
2009 Vinum Wine, For A Song, Syrah, Columbia Valley – $14
This wine is 100% Syrah from the Olsen Vineyard which was aged for 18 months in French oak. Alcohol 14.4%. The color is a medium dark purple darkness. There were somewhat dense and compact grapey fruit and approachable black and red fruit flavors. It was a little tart on the sides of the tongue with moderate tannins. Leans towards restraint and clean fruit. ** Now – 2017.
2011 Owen Roe, Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley – $24
This wine is a blend of 63% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault. Alcohol 14.3%. The color is a light to medium cherry. The nose has good complexity to the fruit aromas. There is a seductive start in the mouth with enveloping fruit that avoids lushness. The flavors are of red and blue fruits with a hint of yeast. The acidity is there but not separate. The core remains compact. The blend of varietals works well. *** Now-2018.
This past weekend a small group gathered in my dining room for a casual wine tasting. Present were Lou, Phil, Roland, Andy, and myself. Though the theme of Northern Rhone was picked just 24 hours in advance we ended up with a range of wines from 1995 to 2011 representing France, Washington, and Maryland. Of the Northern Rhone wines there were four wines from Cote-Rotie, two from Cornas, one from Hermitage, one from Crozes-Hermitage, one from Saint-Joseph, and one from the Ardeche. Two ringers in the form of Cayuse Vineyards and Black Ankle Vineyards were included. All of the wines were served blind.
It was a fun evening. Every person has a deeply set love for wine and a noticeable curiosity about what is in their glass. I believe all enjoyed the wines for the conversation kept weaving back to the wines and regions amongst noises of approval. I honestly prefer tasting wines when the people I am with and their remarks keep drawing me away from my notes. Wine is a social beverage and is best drunk when the people you are with are just as much of a draw as the wines themselves.
I started off the tasting by serving the 2011 Syncline, Grenache Blanc blind. This was one of the only white Rhone inspired white wines in my basement. I have become curious to try Washington State Grenache Blanc so I thought it would be a fun start. New World was concluded with Washington and Oregon narrowed down based on my travels.
Starter – 2011 Syncline, Grenache Blanc, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc which was whole-cluster pressed, fermented with indigeneous yeasts, racked into older French oak, no malolactic fermentation, and aged on the lees for roughly five months. Alcohol 14.1%. The nose was lighter and brighter with focused white fruit and tree fruit. In the mouth there was fresh, acidity driven fruit, a little hint of toast, and a citric finish. It has a bit of grip, along with some tartness and leaves the overall impression of youth and freshness. On the second night there was a core of grippy white fruit, tart green apple flavors, and enjoyable tannins in the aftertaste. I was surprised by the quality of the acidity. *** Now-2015.
The red wines were tasted in flights of three. In retrospect I could have grouped these by age but being more interested in not know what we were tasting I automatically mixed them up. I do not think this harmed any perspectives. Unfortunately the 1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage La Chapelle was not drinkable and the 1995 Chapoutier, La Mordoree, Cote-Rotie was only made somewhat drinkable by additional decanting. The 2008 Barret, Brise Cailloux, Cornas was an oddity and I think showing too many flaws. Shame.
There was a lovely glass to be found in the 2008 Cayuse, Syrah, Armada. Perfumed, effortless, and elegant it was easy to grasp why this was one of two bottles to be finished. The only other finished bottle was the 2010 Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie. While young there is strong attraction to this old-school wine which should develop quite nicely. The 1998 Ogier, Cote-Rotie stood out with its striking nose. The flavors could not quite keep up but it was a beautiful wine overall. Perhaps the biggest surprise came from the 1998 Tardieu-Laurent, Crozes-Hermitage. Tardieu-Laurent’s northern Rhone wines do very well with the Syrah easily absorbing all of the new oak. This bottle had been kicked about the shop floor a bit but despite the figurative footprints the wine inside was a treat.
The 2003 Durand, Cornas is hybrid between the old with its earth and vintage perfume and the new with forward, ripe fruit. A bit of an oddity in that combination but this drank great on the second night and should develop for some time. The 1999 J. Vidal-Fleury, Brune et Blonde, Cote-Rotie is perfectly mature and complete in what it is, which provides for a good glass. The 2003 Corbis, Les Royes, Saint-Joseph is a very solid glass of wine and while it drank well on the second night, it may not gain much more complexity so I would drink it now. The 2007 Black Ankle, Leaf Stone Syrah stood out with its candy and sweetness but it was a great start for the second night. I doubt anyone guessed Maryland. Ed said the 2007 is more New World and the 2008 is Old World. I should like to try the 2008. Lastly the 2011 Gonnon, Les Iles Feray which was literally and figuratively the youngest of all the red wines. Produced from vineyards located right next to Saint-Joseph this showed unique flavors and worthy of seeking out for the cellar or wine fridge.
1 – 1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Chapelle, Hermitage
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced primarily from Meal, Bessards, and Greffieux. All of the fruit is destemmed and crushed with fermentation in a mix of concrete and steel vats. It is aged between 13-17 months in some to no new oak. Alcohol 13.5%. Double-decanted right before tasting. The color was a tired, medium tawny garnet. There was a firm nose which smelled old. In the mouth the firmer palate was tired, perhaps a touch of ripe fruit, but showing past prime. Not Rated.
2 – 2010 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the three hectare vineyard of La Vialliere which was fully planted in 1999. The fruit is not destalked, fermentation is in concrete vats followed by 18 months of age in < 10% new foudres. Alcohol 12.5%. Opened right before tasting. There was a lovely nose of young fruit and pepper. In the mouth there was tarter, focused black fruit which took on weighty, ripe red fruit. There was fine grip, old-school personality, and fine drying tannins. A powerful, balanced wine which is young with a very strong future ahead. ***(*) 2018-2028.
3 – 2003 Domaine Corbis, Les Royes, Saint Joseph
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 12 hectares of vineyards on Les Royes with soils of limestone and clay. The fruit is destemmed, undergoes punch downs, pump overs, and emptying/refilling. It is aged for one year in 33% new, 33% one year, and 33% two year old casks. Alcohol 14%. Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting. The color was a light to medium garnet. The light nose was tight with dark, earthy aromas. In the mouth there was red, weighty fruit, some vanilla, a little red candy, and tart acidity. There was a fine wood box flavor and good density to the fruit which had a sexy personality. On the second night the nose became more restrained. In the mouth the black and red fruit was dense with a light, creamy feel. There was subtle black fruit, minerals. The acidity and flavors were fresh, almost Eucalyptus like. There were fine polish and drying tannins in the aftertaste which stuck to the gums. Should last for some time but might be best now. Better on first night. *** Now-2018.
4 – 2008 Cayuse Vineyards, Syrah, Armada, Walla Walla Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Armada Vineyard planted in 2001. It was aged for 22 months in puncheons. Alcohol 14.2%. Decanted for two hours prior to tasting. The color was a medium, garnet ruby. There was a beautiful, effortless nose of perfumed fruit. In the mouth there was lovely weight to the fruit which bore gentle power and subtle creaminess. There was black fruit in the finish along with a minerally bit. Well integrated all around. With air it took on an orange peel note. This should age well. Elegant! **** Now-2023.
5 – 1998 Tardieu-Laurent, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Bacchus Importers. Alcohol %. Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting. The color was a light to medium garnet. The nose has more old wood and a touch of smoke. In the mouth it was an interesting wine with dark red fruit, minerals, and a more upright personality than #4. There was a youthful core of fruit which matched a good structure. On the second night this was still drinking well and took on elegance. **** Now-2023.
6 – 2007 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County
This wine is 91% Syrah, 4% Pinot Noir, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Alcohol 14.6%. Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting. The light nose revealed more candy aromas with ripe fruit and a barrel note. In the mouth the riper fruit has good weight, sweetness, and a forward personality. It was mouthfilling with a touch of powder. On the second night the good weight continued with cool black cherry fruit, a creamy texture, and some raciness towards the finish. There was a bit of black licorice and some barrel sweetness. *** Now-2020.
7 – 2003 Eric & Joel Durand, Cornas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from three hectares in Chaillot, Champelrose, Sauman, and Tezier. The fruit is destemmed, fermented in regulated vats then undergoes malolactic fermentation in oak casks where it is aged for 12 months in 10-15% new oak casks. Alcohol 14%. Opened one hour prior to tasting. The red nose offered up some candy aromas. In the mouth there were flavors of red candy and strawberry with some ripeness. There was a tang on the sides of the tongue followed by very fine, drying tannins. On the second night the weighty fruit showed more complexity with minerality, black flavors, structure in the middle, and good acidity. Then there were earthy and vintage perfume notes. A nice wine which continued to drink with confidence on the second night. ***(*) Now-2028.
8 – 1995 M. Chapoutier, La Mordoree, Cote Rotie
Imported by Paterno Imports. This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the oldest vineyards in Brune and Blonde which date back to the 1940s. The fruit is destemmed, fermented in open wood vessels then aged for 15-20 months in 50% new oak casks. Alcohol 12.8%. Double-decanted right before tasting. The color was a light to medium tawny garnet. The light nose was tight with older aromas. Decanting certainly helped but older, drying fruit remained. There was firm black fruit, tartness, acidity, and a general lack of giving up anything. * Now.
9 – 1998 Domaine Michel Ogier, Cote-Rotie
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from lieux-dits Lancement (1979), Cote Rozier (1950s), Champon (early 1990s), and But de Mont (1988). which is aged for 18 months in 30% new oak casks. Opened right before tasting. The nose was striking and stood out with smoke, vintage perfume, and pepper. The flavors were tart on the tip of the tongue. This salty wine slowly expanded in the mouth and does show some age. At first the mouth was not as good as the nose but with air it eventually opened up. There were lots of red fruit, a little citrus, and on the second night an earthy and bloody aspect. **** Now-2023.
10 – 1999 J Vidal-Fleury, Brune et Blonde, Cote Rotie
Imported by W. J. Deutsch & Sons. This wine is 95-97% Syrah and 3-5% Viognier sourced only from estate vineyards averaging 40 years of age. It is aged up to three years in 50 hl barrels. Alcohol 13%. Opened right before tasting. The color was a medium garnet. The nose bore older, ripe aromas with a fine quality and perhaps a touch of veg. In the mouth the fruit bore riper weight, expansive in the mouth, and a younger personality compared to the nose. There was a little cedar note and black fruit in the finish. On the second night the wine was softer with gentle red fruit, wood box notes, and some puckering acidity. There was a little earthy component. Despite the good level of maturity the fruit had a youthful nature. I would still drink this up. *** Now-2018.
11 – 2008 Matthieu Barret, Brise Cailloux, Cornas
This wine is 100% Syrah which is farmed organically and biodynamically. It is sourced from almost 10 hectares of vines . Between half and all of the fruit is destalked, the cap punched, then aged for 18 months in used casks. Very little sulphur is used. Decanted for two hours prior to tasting. There was a nose of pepper and pine. In the mouth the fruit was very tart with citric red fruit flavors. There were drying tannins and a hint of yeast in the aftertaste. On the second night the yeasty flavors continued with red grapefruit in the aftertaste. Not enough sulphur? * Now.
12 – 2011 Pierre Gonon, Les Iles Feray, Ardeche
Imported by. This wine is 100% Syrah which was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged for 13-15 months in 600 liter casks which are 1 to 40 years old. Decanted for one hour prior to tasting. The color was a medium grapey ruby. At first there was a strange nose with some mixed ripe berries. With air the nose became muted with aromas of fresh berries. In the mouth there was blacker fruit, a serious attitude, gentle weight to the unique and good flavors. On the second night there were flavors of tart black fruit, berries, and minerals. There was salivating acidity and a brighter finish where firm, drying, and somewhat grapey tannins came out. The wine stands out and should be cellared for the short-term. *** 2015-2025.
These wines were casually tasted during my recent trip to Seattle. The Ash Hollow starts off lush from the very first glass and would be quickly finished in a social setting. But on the third night I was quite captivated by the nose and was almost content to just smell it. The Cor Cellars showed a bit more breed and remained confident in itself over three nights. I would be curious to try it again out of a wine glass instead of a tumbler. The Chateau La Garde had attractive black fruit but we all suspected this will bow down to its structure. The Syncline was nice. From a cooler vintage it offers up a bright profile of blackberry and red fruits which are enlivened by its acidity. I think it attractive and would stick a few bottles in my cellar for short-term aging. Please find my casual tasting notes below. The Chateau La Garde was purchased by Clark & Julia’s some time ago, the Ash Hollow and Cor Cellars were purchased at Whole Foods, and the Syncline was purchased at Soul Wine.
2008 Ash Hollow, Nine Mile, Walla Walla Valley – $20
This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 14.4%. The color was medium garnet cherry. The light nose was pretty with floral aromas, citrus, and tropical fruit. Nice nose. In the mouth the fruit was up from with some looseness. The black and red fruit was heady with some tang and spice followed by pretty fruit in the finish. This became elegant and attractive on the third night as it showed more restraint. Tasted over three nights.
2009 Cor Cellars, Petit Verdot, McKinley Springs Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills – $20
This wine is 100% Petit Verdot which was aged for 18 months in barrel. The color was a medium black cherry. In the mouth there was inky black fruit which was very focused with ripe flavors and some spice. The wine starts off very gentle then there is an expansion of flavors as it puts on weight in the finish. This seductive wine becomes a little racy in the finish followed by some warmth and tannins in the aftertaste. Tasted over three nights.
2005 Chateau La Garde, Pessac-Leognan –
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators. This wine is an almost equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Alcohol 13.5%. Popped and poured back and forth between glasses. The light nose offered up tight but enjoyable black fruit and eventually some black tea. The pure, youthful black fruit in the mouth was met by firm structure and fine-grained tannins. Decent flavors but it firmed up with air and appears that the fruit will subside and the structure take over.
2011 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley – $20
This wine is a blend of 39% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 9% Carignan, 7% Counoise, and 2% Cinsault. It was fermented in open top as well as closed-top concrete Nomblot tanks with inoculated yeasts. It was then aged for 11 months. Alcohol 13.5%. The color was a purple ruby. The light nose has aromas of delicate black fruit, ripe red fruit, and some strawberry. In the mouth the flavors are framed with a firmness and well-integrated acidity. There are red raspberry fruits which are bright. A bit perfumed in the finish with darker fruit and citrus, followed by mild salivation, citrus notes, and a light amount of very fine tannins. With air the fruit shows delicacy and purity. I would cellar this for one year.