Thursday, August 28, 2008
Over the next few weeks (or few months, because I do have a lot to catch up), I will write about new wines of course, with Fall and Winter season calling for some earthy, more full bodied and complex wines; but I will also write about wines that I have tasted over the last few years. For these wines, I will try to mention the exact tasting date or at least the month when I tasted them.
Let me explain: I used to have a website where as you used to write most of my previous tasting notes, but unfortunately for diverse reasons, more especially for time and lack of know-how-about-to-maintain-a-website reasons, I completely erased and canceled it and decided to restart from scratch. That is the reason why I do have a lot of writing to catch up in this new blog that I just started a few weeks ago.
I hope that you will not be too confused, otherwise send me a note and I will try to help you (especially if there is no date).
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Discovery of the Month: August 2008 - 2007 Chateau L'Ermitage Costieres de Nimes White Rhone Valley France
This past week, I didn't taste much. It is the end of August. The summer has been quite slow (as usual for a New York retailer) and the weather has been fairly good so far, so a lot of our customers where gone (not too far...economy oblige) or not buying much wines.
However, It seems that less people traveled abroad this year which allowed us to keep a steady business, not great, but not too bad either. I guess the economy, the price of the gas, the Euro-Dollar exchange and the hugely anticipated election of the new president also explain why people refrain from spending as much as they used to.
Luckily, for once, in six years living in NYC (for me), the summer has been pretty nice with us, not too hot, not too humid and not too stinking either. We could even say that August has been even cooler than usual, especially the last two weeks, a little breeze gently refreshed the air and brought back red wines to mind.
Crisp roses, refreshing whites and light reds season is nearly finish, so I started to buy mid-season whites and reds for the fall.
About 3 weeks ago, I tasted a fairly inexpensive white Rhone that delighted me more particularly than any other white Rhone wines that I tasted in this price range since a long time. I ordered 5 cases of it right away and sold almost all of it in 2 weeks and a half (in August...not bad). I will have some more at the beginning of September.
2007 Chateau L'Ermitage Costieres de Nimes White Rhone Valley France
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Distributed by Baron Francois in NYC
I was literally blown away by this wine. I tend to think that a great wine is a wine that invites you to drink another glass after you've finished the first one. From the first sip on, I wanted to finish the bottle. My wife and I already drunk 3 bottles this week and counting...
Made of 3 grape varieties, 2007 Chateau L'Ermitage white combines all the characteristics of each grape in a perfectly balanced blend of 60% Roussanne, 30% Grenache and 10% Viognier. This is an ideal mid-season, medium-bodied white wine that offers a lot for the price. Roussanne brings fruit flavors (golden apple, white peach), body, roundness and earthiness. Grenache complete it with depth and structure. Viognier adds some charm to it with some floral notes on the nose, freshness with a crisp acidity in the mid-palate and a touch of oily texture in the finish. A very interesting and versatile white to enjoy with or without food, on a late warm lazy afternoon, for a picnic or a simple dinner. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Alison from "Domaine Select" (the importer / distributor) came back today with very interesting wines, 2 from China and 1 from Barossa Valley. But let's concentrate on the Chinese wines first.
Special guest of the day, David Henderson, owner and founder of Dragon's Hollow Vineyards, a major winery and wine distribution company in China, was also here to introduce 2 of his wines: an unoaked Chardonnay and a Riesling from his Dragon's Hollow Vineyards 1600 acres winery located 625 miles west of Beijing in the Zhingun province (northern part of China). The winery produces classic international grape variety based wines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Merlot and Syrah. Out of the 1600 acres, only 200 acres of especially selected parcel of vines are dedicated to produce wines for the international market (roughly 100.000 cases), the rest is sold through the local market. I was really please to welcome David Henderson at the store and found his Chinese wines very interesting. Ant MacKenzie, also winemaker for Mud House and Spy Valley (2 leading wineries of New Zealand, located in Marlborough), has surly something to do with the quality of these wines.
David Henderson invited me to play a blind tasting game of 3 Chardonnays including his Dragon's Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay. The game was to identify his Chardonnay first, but also to determine if his wine could compete and equal in quality other Chardonnays from elsewhere at the same retail price point (and in my opinion, it did). I didn't know which one was his wine, but after tasting the three wines twice, I was confident in my choice and nailed the right one. Here are the descriptions of the three wines and a synopsis or a resume of the tasting.
1) 2007 Jean-Paul Brun "Terres Dorees" Beaujolais Blanc Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $13-$16
The nose is inviting, clean, fresh and almost creamy with floral hints of chamomile and notes of lemon, honeydew, golden apple. The palate is ample, rich and soft, with a creaminess enhanced by the malolactic fermentation. The finish is quite long and concentrated yet balanced by a great acidity and seems to expand in complexity. This is a lovely example of Beaujolais Blanc that confirms the benchmark position of Jean-Paul Brun as one of the leading producer of Beaujolais (white and red). It also gives a different dimension to Chardonnay and exposes the versatility of this rather common and often neglected grape variety. Highly recommended, one of our favorite Chardonnays at the store.
2) 2006 Louis Jadot Chablis Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $18-$21
The nose is green (greener than the previous one for sure), with more acidity and more minerals. The palate starts with a very good attack showing good acidity, liveliness and fruit, but unfortunately the mid-palate doesn't follow the same path and seems to be slightly unbalanced. The finish is ok, not great and reflects somehow the overproduction and lack of focus of the Louis Jadot brand in general. Don't get me wrong, I do have nothing against Louis Jadot, but I just think that the brand is a bit too mainstream for me and somewhat crowd pleasing for non-connoisseur. Granted, it is often very consistent from a vintage to another, and seems very reliable to some people, but frankly I prefer their higher-end cuvees. I do think that their entry level wines don't meet the connoisseur level and can be easily outmatched by smaller producers offering greater quality wines for the same price or less (even from China...no comment).
3) 2006 Dragon's Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay China (eastern foot of the "He Lan" Mountain appellation)
Suggested retail price $12-$15
First, I need to admit that this wine was easily recognizable amongst the others because of its texture (not Burgundian at all, with a "je ne sais quoi" of New World touch to it without being over extracted or too ripe), but also because of its bright acidity that reminds me more of some other grape (sort of a sauvignon like mouthfeel).
The nose is bright, clean, fresh with aromas of citrus, lemon peel or zest, green apple and a touch floral. Light on his feet, the palate is refreshing, balanced and clean yet not too complex but very pleasing for a first experience with a Chinese white wine (I tasted some reds before, but no whites until today). The finish is simple and easy going with an excellent balance. Overall, even if a bit light for my taste, I enjoyed it very much and I think my customer will be please to experience such wine. I think that the older the vines will get the better and more interesting the wine will taste. For now, it is rather uncomplicated, discreet and straightforward. I hope that the next vintages will bring more layers of complexity and depth. But in this kind of price range, it remains a very strong value (especially in today's market where everything is so expensive). I just wish that David could have come 3 months earlier, because the lightness of this wine and the vivid acidity that it shows seem to be more appropriate for the Spring and Summer months. Let's just hope that we will have a warm Indian fall. This a wine to discover and to appreciate on salad, oyster, shell fish and grilled river white fish.
After this very interesting tasting game, David poured me a glass of his second wine:
2006 Dragon's Hollow Vineyards Riesling China (eastern foot of the "He Lan" Mountain appellation)
Suggested retail price $12-$15
Dragon's Hollow Riesling is definitely more expressive on the nose than the Chardonnay (although it remains quite discreet and restrain compare to some Alsace or German Rieslings). It displays floral and fruity aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, white peach and apricot skin mixed with notes of wet stone minerality. The palate is dry (dryer than an Alsace and definitely more than a German Riesling) and offers similar flavors of citrus, lime, honeysuckle and a twist of petroleum. Showing more depth and multiple layers of fruit combined with a great acidity, it appears less mono dimensional than the Chardonnay. Both have a great balance and some interesting features despite the fact that they are both quite light; yet they will surely quench the thirst of someone looking for a fresh, bright, clean and down-to-earth white wine.
In my opinion:
The wines from China just started to arrive on the American market and they are fairly unknown to most drinkers. Fortunately, made out of international grape varieties, they will ease the expected hesitation of the consumers at first.
Unfortunately, for some people, it will just be another Chardonnay or another Cabernet from another country. It may fashion a certain interest at the beginning, but who knows how long is it going to last, especially if they don't rapidly focus on high quality wines.
If they don't start to offer wines made from lesser known (or less commercial) grape varieties, after a while the Chinese wines may end up not selling and not necessarily continue to attract the customers (except may be by curiosity or because the wine is a truly good value compare to other wines from other countries made from the same grape).
They may have to specialize into certain grapes to keep up with the market (like Malbec in Argentina; Carmenere in Chile; Tannat in Uruguay: Shiraz in Australia; Sauvignon in New Zealand; Riesling in Germany; Gruner Veltliner in Austria; Tempranillo and Garnacha in Spain; Sangiovese and Nebbiolo in Italy; Pinot Noir in Burgundy and Oregon; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Bordeaux and California; etc...only to talk about the most well-known grapes, because they are dozens more coming from the 70 leading wine producing countries in the world).
However, I'm glad that there are quite a few open minded people like David Henderson to lead the way into introducing winemaking and wine tradition in new countries. I wish him luck with Dragon's Hollow Vineyards and will be proud to be one of the first in New York to carry his wines and suggest them to my valuable customers.
The last wine of this tasting was:
2005 The Colonial Estate "Explorateur" Old vines Shiraz Barossa Valley Australia
Suggested retail price $29-$32
After tasting the 2005 Colonial Estate "Envoy" GSM the previous day, I need to admit that I wasn't as please by the "Explorateur". The "Explorateur" has a warm nose with some hints of alcohol, and doesn't seem as attractive on the nose as the "Envoy". It displays interesting and rich aromas of deep dark ripe berries with floral and spicy notes. It is definitely not as elegant (for an Australian wine, don't get me wrong on this one) as the "Envoy". It is bigger, broader and shows much more alcohol than I would like to. The finish has a lot of dark chocolate, mocca, earthy spices and ripe plum tones. Overall, it is not bad, quite well balanced (for an Australian wine...). Although, I can see people getting into it and loving it, it is definitely not my style of wine (I like them fresher, juicier, earthier with more acidity and balance, less ripeness and less oak, but it is only my taste...).
see you soon for some new wine tasting sessions,
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Today's tasting constituted of 3 wines from the Domaine Select portfolio (Distributor / Importer).
NV Alfred Gratien Brut Rose Champagne (producer at Epernay, Champagne) France
Suggested retail price $65-$68
Established in 1864, Alfred Gratien is an old traditional champagne house where the champagne is made by the 4th generation winemaker. This so called "hand made" champagne is barrel fermented in small barrel then age for a minimum of 3 years. This Rose is apparently fairly new in the New York market. Made from top quality grapes sourced trough out some of the best producers including some of their own parcels, Alfred Gratien Brut Rose is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. The resulting champagne is a great combination of these three grapes.
Delicate, fresh and clean floral aromas on the nose mingle with rose petals, tight cherries notes and hints of yeast. The palate is elegant, delicate, refreshing, vivid, with a medium to fine mousse. Light on his feet, crisp, fruity, easy to drink, soft and well rounded on the finish, this is an enjoyable, pretty rose champagne with a bright, racy, pink grapefruit attitude. Perfect as an aperitif, for a toast during a wedding or any other type of celebration.
2005 Mas du Goudaneau Cotes du Rhone France
Suggested retail price $14-$17
This wine is made in a new winery built and owned by Helene and Daniel Boulle of Domaine des Aphillanthes, a classic house of the Cotes du Rhone. 2005 is the first vintage released from this new and exciting project. Compare to Domaine des Aphillanthes, Mas du Goudaneau is a slightly more modern style, more fruit forward and less earthy, but still with a twist of traditionalism. They use organic and biodynamic method for this wine. It was fermented then aged in concrete vat with no fining and no filtration before bottling. This pure natural fruit juice with addition of any kind.
A blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre and 10% Carignan, Mas du Goudaneau shows aromas of dark ripe berries, dark chocolate and spices. The attack is ripe and fruity, followed by a soft, rich and smooth mid-palate. Flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, leather, ripe plum and fig fusion nicely in this rich Cotes du Rhone. The finish is long, earthy and structured with very good tannins from the grapes (no oak ageing). A very nice value and good mid-season wine. to enjoy this fall with a nice steak or even a stew.
2005 The Colonial Estate "Envoy" Barossa valley Australia
Suggested retail price $28-$32
There is no need to introduce you to this estate owned by Jonathan Maltus of Chateau Teyssier (Saint-Emilion Grand Cru). This british aristocrat brought his know-how and savoir faire to Australia and now produces, since a few years, Australian wines with Bordeaux flair in the Barossa valley. Often referenced in the famous UK magazine Decanter and praised by Robert Parker, Jr., the Colonial Estate is mixing traditional Bordeaux style vinification with super ripe grapes. The resulting wines are often rich, complex and often more balanced than other already long established Australian wineries (no names) that produce extra over extracted shiraz wines with more than 15% of alcohol.
The nose is not shy, offering ripe aromas of blueberry, cassis, earth, almost floral (blue flowers) notes and spices. it almost seems that the nose has some kind of freshness and minerality, which is rare for a Barossa wine. Despite the slight touch of alcohol toward the end (fairly integrated if you ask me compare to a lot of other barossa valley wines), it is a pretty wine, quite elegant and rich. The finish develops notes of dark chocolate, mocca, and earthy spices. Very well balanced with a great acidity (another rare feature), this wine won my respect. Pair it with BBQ and grilled red meat.
Today, I tasted a few Bordeaux wines with Jean-Louis De Castro (the Distributor) and Philippe Germain (part owner and family member) of "Germain-Saincrit Vignerons", a small family business that owns a few Chateaux on the right bank and one on the left Bank in Bordeaux, but also in the Loire Valley.
Jean-Louis always provides me with excellent value wines from France that are produced in small quantity and he is a delight to work with. Philippe is a very enthusiastic owner-producer-winemaker of a little property in the Loire valley called "La Roulerie" that produces fine, elegant and mineral Coteaux du Layon. And he is also, the sales / marketing Directors in the USA for the all the wines that is family produces.
The wines from Germain-Saincrit fully express their Terroir of origin and rarely failed to surprise me by their complexity and texture. One could say that they make wine with one foot in the traditional way and one foot in a more modern approach without being overripe or over extracted. They usually refrain on the use of new oak, except a few rare cuvees, to allow the pure expression of the fruit and minimize the oak influence. For most of the following wines, the fermentation and maceration is done in stainless still tank; for some, the wine undergoes a malolactitic fermentation which is done in stainless steel tank or in barrel, for others there is no malo to keep freshness and vivacity; most of them are organic and some are produced under the biodynamic method. Overall, the word Natural echoes in all of the Germain-Saincrit wines. These little gems are truly good values in today's market (rise of the barrel of petrol, Dollar devaluation compared to the Euro, economy crisis in Europe and USA, etc...).
2006 Chateau Charron Bordeaux (dry white) produce at the estate of the same name, located a Saint-Martin-Lacaussade (northeastern part of Blaye, right bank)
Suggested retail price $9-$12
A blend of 80% Sauvignon and 20% Semillon, this wine was fermented in stainless steel tank, didn't have any malo, and was aged for 6 months in already used oak barrel (of 1,2 and 3 wines). The color is pale with golden reflects. Discreet aromas of fresh grass, blossom, mineral and yellow skin fruit escape from the glass on the nose. The palate is clean, very well rounded, with a nice balance overall and a good acidity, fresh but not crisp, more soft and easy to drink. Although, not as refreshing as an Entre-Deux-Mers-pure-Sauvignon-blanc, it is a wine of more serious constitution, with a bit more depth and substance. A solid white wine at this price. Pair it with poultry and grilled white river fish served with creamy sauce.
2006 Le Peuy-Saintcrit Bordeaux red (located near Saint-Andre de Cubezac, northeastern part of Bordeaux, Right bank)
Suggested retail price $11-$13
Fruity on the attack, with red and dark berries notes complemented by a nice acidity. Quite enjoyable overall but in an old traditional way: the tannins are a bit green and the finish presents some vegetal notes and bitterness. The attack is nice but unfortunately develops too quickly on green and bitter, may a bit of food would enhance and mask the tannins. Somewhat very British market oriented with definitely less fruit than the American market requires. Seems to be accurate for a Bordeaux 2006 vintage, because it was raining during part of the harvest season. May be a bit of time will do good to this wine.
2005 Chateau Peuy-Saincrit "Montalon" Bordeaux Superieur red
Suggested retail price $12-$15
Made from 40-50 years old vines with very small yield and aged in 50% new barrel, this wine offers aromas of ripe dark cherries, fig, leather, with notes of forest floor. It is bright, medium-bodied with a very nice balance. The tannins are not completely integrated, a good sign of youth, time will tell. Overall this wine displays more attractive features than its sibling, with more fruit, depth and length. Somehow a good classic Bordeaux value, just a bit tannic at the moment.
2005 Chateau Peyredoulle 1eres Cotes de Blaye (near Blaye, about 30 miles northeast of Bordeaux, right bank)
Suggested retail price $9-$11
Personally, one of my favorite of the tasting, especially in this kind of price range. For a stainless steel tank fermented and aged wine, it offers plenty of ripe fruit and lot of texture. The attack develops nicely into the generous, ripe, fruity, concentrated, soft and well rounded mid-palate. The finish is nice, quite long and very ripe. Overall, it is a very enjoyable little wine that doesn't offer a lot of complexity but that has a lot of fruit to spare and a very good structure for a wine that wasn't aged in oak.
2005 Chateau Peyredoulle "Maine Criquau" 1eres Cotes de Blaye Vieilles Vignes
Suggested retail price $13-$16
Superb! This special cuvee from Cht. Peyredoulle was for me the cherry on the cake of today's tasting. What a wine! This is how a good traditional Bordeaux should taste like (in my opinion). Made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon hand selected amongst the estate's oldest vines (approximately 75 years old vines), this wine was fermented in stainless steel tank, then aged for about 15 months in partly new big barrels of 400L (called "Fut" which are bigger than the usual Bordeaux barrel of 225L). These Futs are 50% new, 25% 1 wine and 25% 2 wine, to respect the expression of the fruit, enhance the characteristics of the wine and attenuate the wood influence.
The nose is an explosion of second and tertiary aromas created by the harmonious combination of the quality of the grapes and the long aging process in oak. It boasts notes of forest floor, prune, earth, leather, pencil shave, mocca with animal notes, venison and a touch of spice. The palate is extremely well balanced, clean, fresh, medium-bodied, with a lot of character and a vivid acidity that lift the fruit and improve the all structure of the wine from beginning to the end. The long and seamless finish is a delight. I love this wine. And coming from the region of Blaye myself, it is even a bit sentimental and corresponds to a true Bordeaux wine. It will surely age nicely for the next 5 to 8 years, then will probably last for another 10. Wine connoisseur will be happy. Ideal with a grilled rack of lamb, breast of duck confit and venison.
2005 La Roulerie Coteaux du Layon (produce in the village of Thouarce, South of Angers) Loire Valley
Suggested retail price $19-$25
For those of you who do not like very sweet, concentrated dessert wines, Coteaux du Layon is the perfect choice. La Roulerie is the estate of Philippe Germain and his little family. Altough, he likes to talk about all of his family's other wines, he loves his Coteaux du Layon and can't not stop bragging about it. And I don't blame him, because I'm not really a sweet wine drinker, but I loved his Coteaux du Layon when I tried it.
The nose offers discreet notes of white blossoms, unripe apricot, white peach skin, citrus zest and minerals. The palate is fresh, delicate, with a lovely texture and a fantastic balance. The sweetness is elegant and gentle, not too pronounced which for some people may be a default, but I translated it as classy and reserved. The acidity and the minerals combined with the floral and white peach notes play a crucial role for the vivacity and the dentelle like harmony of this wine. Will pair greatly with an apple tart or a lemon cake.
PS: Philippe Germain brought also two other wines from his family's estates, but I wasn't comfortable enough (or found too much flaws or enough interest) to buy them and write about them:
One was: 2005 Chateau Peychaud Maisonneuve Cotes de Bourg, a bit ripper than Peyredoulle Maine Criquau, but with less character and less depth, still intereting for $15. The other one was: 2005 Chateau Bertrand Braneyre Haut-Medoc, aged in 100% new oak, there again interesting, nice fruit in the attack but a finish a bit green.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Suggested retail price $15-$19
When Donald, one of the rep. of Jenny and Francois Selections and also a close friend of mine, came with this bottle of wine, I thought at first that he was bringing again one of this hard to sell, esoteric, earthy, organic wine from an obscure region. For once and on the contrary, he brought me this excellent bottle of Côtes de Provence that I immediately liked and enjoyed.
Let me put you in the context of the situation. Jenny and Francois Selections is a notorious tiny distributor of small, often obscure artisan organic and biodynamic wines that are usually not your everyday friendly wine and definitely not crowd pleasers. But I was ready to try his wines and was doing it probably more for our friendship sake than by my own will.
I tasted about 7-8 wines and I really enjoyed 3 of them: an earthy Pic St-Loup red (Languedoc), a Gaillac (Southwest of France) and this delightful Côtes de Provence.
Made by Antoine Pouponneau who also makes wine at “Tour du Bon” in Bandol, this is a gorgeous, medium to full-bodied wine, perfect for a late spring-summer afternoon with finger foods. A blend of Carignan, Mourvedre and Grenache, this Cotes de Provence is characterized by bright red fruit and balanced acidity.
I do not much info on the wine itself but I can say that it is a great expression of the terroir from where it comes from: Provence. Located down the south-east of France, south of the Rhone Valley, Provence is well known for its juicy and refreshing rosés and its world famous aperitif anisé: Pernod-Ricard. The sky is blue, the wind is strong and constantly blowing, the Mediterranean Sea is warm and inviting, the soil is harsh and dry, the lavender bushes cover most of the hills rolling down to the sea when they are not covered by vines, and it is a perfect place to make strong, flavorful wines.
Tasting notes: The nose offers notes of purple flowers, mixed of wild red and dark berries, earthy hints of garrigues and trace of lavender and spice. The palate boasts rich and ripe yet fresh blueberry and blackberry flavors intermingled with floral touch and more pronounce earthy garrigues notes in the finish. The wine is strong and fruity with high alcohol but very well integrated. Well rounded, it will please BBQ grilled meat eaters.
Suggested retail price $24-$28
The birthplace of the one of most famous Bordeaux family of the 18th century, the Ségur family, Château de Francs was an important stronghold under English occupation before it was converted into a residence. It overlooks the surrounding countryside and still has remains that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries.
Nestled on the top of hills east of St. Emilion and Côtes de Castillon, the “Côte de Francs” is the smallest appellation in Bordeaux with some of the highest vineyards in the area. Chateau de Francs vineyard is made up of old, low-yield red and white vines that benefit from excellent soils rich in clay and limestone, and take advantages of the lowest rain fall in the area, producing full flavored reds.
In 1985 two friends, Dominique Hébrard, former owner of Château Cheval Blanc, and Hubert de Bouard, oenologist and co-owner of Château Angelus, got together to take over this estate. With passion and enthusiasm, they oversee the destiny of this wine and strive to bring it up to its best possible standard.
Info taken from www.chinawineberry.com
Tasting notes: A blend of approximately 70% merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this 2002 Chateau de Francs “Les Cerisiers” is a great example of a good wine from the unappreciated 2002 vintage. Slightly restrain and a bit tannic, it has a lovely deep ruby color. The nose boasts aromas of mixed blackberry, red cherry and blue berry. The palate is medium bodied with a good tannic structure. Still tight last winter, it opens up in the glass with a quite fleshy mid-palate, and it drinks beautifully now. It won’t age forever, but will continue to develop nice characteristics within the next 2-3 years maximum. It will be ideal with a grilled steak topped with shallots and a touch of melting butter.
Suggested retail price $22-$26
Domaine d’Ardhuy is located in the heart of Burgundy, in the Côte de Nuits bordering the Côte de Beaune. It is nestled in the Clos des Langres, which has been known for the quality of its wine since the monks of the Abbaye de Cîteau planted the first vineyards in the 10th century. Four generations of the d'Ardhuy family have owned this 45 hectare estate which includes multiple vineyards stretching from Puligny-Montrachet to Gevrey-Chambertin. They produce about 40 different wines (mainly grands crus and premier crus- including Corton, Clos de Vougeot, Corton Charlemagne). The average annual production of the Domaine is 20,000 cases.
The production of excellent wine demands grapes of exceptional quality. This is the motto of owner Gabriel d’Ardhuy. All estate vines are cared for with respect and cultivated in a traditional manner, ensuring the maximum uptake of characteristics of the terroir and its micro-climates. Each bountiful harvest is the result of meticulous vineyard stewardship. A deep appreciation and understanding of the land and frequent maturity checks enable the Domaine to harvest each vine at its optimum maturity. All fermentation takes place traditionally-- in oak barrels with regular stirring of the lees at the end of the fermentation process.
Tasting note: This is a pretty wine with mixed aromas of red berries and earth combined with hints of mineral and wild herbs scents. On the palate, it is lively, fresh, medium-bodied and full of bright red berry flavors with subtle notes of earth and mineral. Balanced and complex, the finish is refreshing and lingers nicely. Young and full of life, this wine will be ideal with grilled duck or lamb.
Info taken from the importer website: www.Wineberry.com
Suggested retail price $21-$26
After creating their Negociant company in 2000 (called “Les Vins Dupéré Barrera”), Emmanuelle Dupéré and Laurent Barrera wished to expand their project and life into the cultivation of their own vines.
In 2002, they became owners of a small parcel of vines and some land, called “Domaine Clos de la Procure”, located in AOC Côtes de Provence, where they now produce a very expressive wine that reflects all the characteristics of its magnificent terroir.
The domain encompasses 5.5 hectares of old vines under the AOC Côtes de Provence, 1.5 hectares of olive trees, some forest and 1.4 hectares of replanted syrah. The Domaine is located in the Var region, next to the village of Carnoules.
The parcels of vines are situated in small terraces separated by small rock walls, paths, or rows of olive trees. The soil is a mix of limestone and clay with detritic elements. The exceptional presence of a subterranean water layer about 12 meters deep guarantees excellent nourishment of the vineyard and limits the negative effects of drought, which was particularly important in 2003, 2004.
They produce 3 types of wine. A red blended with Grenache, Mourvèdre plus some very old vines Carignan. A rose which is not produce every year, issued from Cinsault with a touch of Ugni Blanc. A white produced with 100% Ugni Blanc.
The vinification and bottling process are carried out according to the NOWAT process first experienced in 2000 and fully used by Dupéré Barrera since vintage 2001. Go to the following link to learn more about the NoWat method on their website: http://www.duperebarrera.com/procure/english/nowat.html
As you may have understood already, we are talking about a small artisanal winery that produce only very limited amount of wines and bottles. From the vineyard to the cellar, they only used the biodynamic method and everything is also organic: no pesticide, no herbicide, no chemicals, natural compost only, no addition of yeast or sulfites, manual harvest, manual destemming, manual press of the grapes, no pumping, no filtration, no fining, gravity vinification system, hand bottling, …etc. They do everything themselves with rudimentary tools and produce fantastic wines.
Tasting note and food pairing: La Procure 2003 is a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre predominantly with a touch of Cinsault and Carignan. It is a big earthy wine that offers plenty of red and dark ripe fruit flavors complemented with garrigues notes and hints of oak. The opulent palate is balanced and forward with great texture. The 2003 vintage experienced one the hottest summer of this decade, but they still managed to produce an excellent wine. A grilled meat & BBQ’s companion. Enjoy!
Infos partly taken from their website: http://www.duperebarrera.com
LeDom du Vin
Suggested retail price $25-$29
Château Joanin Bécot is located in Côtes de Castillon, which is an up and coming, but not widely known region of Bordeaux. Cotes de Castillon was not included in the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. In fact, it was not even a recognized as an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée until 1989. Situated in the Right Bank just southeast of St. Emilion, Côtes de Castillon has become a hot spot for young, talented, entrepreneurial winemakers hoping to start their own labels.
Juliette Bécot was born and raised at Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, the property of her father and grandfather. Later, she purchased a parcel of land in the Côtes de Castillon appellation in order to fulfill her dream of making wine. This solo project, called Joanin Bécot, has turned into one of the best estates in the Côtes de Castillon district. Also produced by the family is the garagiste effort Chateau La Gomerie.
Merlot and Cabernet Franc are the most common varietals grown in Côtes de Castillon because like in Saint-Emilion, they benefit of the same limestone plateau and achieve great result on this type of soil. However, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petite Verdot are grown there as well, but only constitute a small part of the final blend. The wines vary in quality, but the good ones are often great values as they are much less expensive than wines of similar quality from other regions, like Saint-Emilion.
Tasting note: The 2002 Joanin Bécot is a fine example of the value that Cotes de Castillon has to offer, especially in this totally underrated vintage. Quite concentrated for a 2002, this medium bodied wine delivers lots of ripe fruit with notes of plum, blueberry, blackberry and vanilla. A blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, it possesses a very nice structure with a soft texture and some fairly integrated tannins. The finish is somewhat elegant and inviting. Like a lot of good 2002 Bordeaux, this wine is soft, easy to drink and ready for immediate consumption. It might last for a little while longer and get softer, but it is great now and doesn’t need to age much longer in the bottle. It may not have the generous harmony of a 2000, the fatness of a 2003 or the complexity of a 2005 vintage, however, despite what the press may have said about the 2002s, it remains a very good wine.
Food Pairing: an ideal companion to grilled red meat, spare ribs, oven turkey and roasted leg of lamb. However, it will also nicely complement some cheese like “Tomme de Savoie” or even “Salers” from the Cantal region in France.
In the absence of winery website, these notes were partly taken from the www.Boulderwineblog.com
Suggested retail price $16-$18
Location: Created in the 30’s, the Vacqueyras appellation is nestled in the heart of the “Côtes du Rhône Méridionales” (the southern part of the Rhone Valley). It is situated south of Gigondas and northeast of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the foothills of the “Dentelles de Montmirail”.
Vacqueyras is an AOC, part of the 13th classified Crus of Côtes du Rhône. The yield, based on 35 hl per hectare, is one of the lower yielding compare to the rest of the other French AOCs, allowing for better concentration and structure.
Les Hauts du Colombier is one of the estates owned and bottled by Jean-Louis Mourre, part of the “Domaine Les Vignobles Mourre”. Les Hauts du Colombier consist of 7 hectares (15 acres) of vines planted on very complex chalky soils of mixed small stones and earth lying on layers of clay and limestone. The average age of the vines is 50 years old, with the oldest ones planted in 1902.
Vinification: Under the very skillful eye of owner-winemaker Jean-Louis Mourre, the hand-harvested grapes were destemmed and sorted. The maceration and fermentation occurred in stainless steel vats and lasted about 5 weeks. The wine was then transferred to concrete vats where it aged for at least 6 months before a final light filtration and bottling. This wine doesn’t see any oak in order to maintain the freshness, fruitiness and natural expression of the terroir rather than the oak flavors. The structure and the tannins are brought naturally by the fruit and not by the oak ageing. Only 2200 cases were produced.
Description: A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, it boasts aromas of wild forest berries, cassis, coffee, spices and light chocolate hints. The balanced palate offers flavors of wild red and dark berries and garrigues mixed with earthy notes. A touch rustic yet silky, the tannins are well integrated and bring a lovely structure to this earthy wine. The finish is elegant, long, juicy and concentrated. Perfect for the fall-winter season and very enjoyable now after 30 minutes of opening, this wine will also greatly benefit from 2-8 years of cellaring.
Food Pairing: this wine will enhance strong flavored red meat, duck en sauce, and typical Mediterranean grilled dishes and aged cheeses.
Info provided by the importer: Jerome Selection
LeDom du Vin
Saturday, August 16, 2008
(suggested retail price $15.99-$18.99)
History: It all started in 1894 with Domizio Cavazza, who realized the uniqueness of the Nebbiolo grape growing on the hills of Barbaresco. He gathered a few producers and created one of the first cooperatives to produce Barbaresco, called “Cantine Sociali”. The Cantine was closed in the 20’s for political reasons forcing the small growers to sell their wines in bulk to complement Barolo’s wines and to make Piedmont table wines. In 1958, recognizing that the only way the small properties could survive was by again joining their efforts, the priest of the
Present: Produttori del Barbaresco, founded in 1958, now has 56 members and 100 hectares (250 acres) of Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which is almost 1/6 of the vineyards of the area. Each family is in full control of its land, growing Nebbiolo grapes with experienced skill and dedication acquired over the last 100 years of winemaking. The winery produces high quality Barbaresco D.O.C.G. wines, from a blend of Nebbiolo grapes harvested in different vineyards, and a simpler Nebbiolo Langhe suited for earlier consumption. In great vintages, nine single-vineyard Barbarescos are produced from nine classic premium sites within the Barbaresco village boundaries: Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo. These are the geographical names of sites where Nebbiolo grapes have always been cultivated. The names of the vineyards, the total number of bottles produced, and the names of the owners of the vineyards are marked on the labels. In a good vintage they are divided among Barbaresco (40 %), single-vineyard Barbarescos (40%) and Nebbiolo Langhe (20%).
Description: Langhe Nebbiolo is produced every year; it ranges from 10 to 30% of the total production depending on the quality of the vintage (the better the vintage the less Nebbiolo is produced). It is a second label for the Barbaresco and it is made with the grapes from young vines or those vineyards which produced a less intense and concentrated juice. It does have the quality standard to be a Barbaresco, but the winery declassifies it in order to sell it younger and maintain the Barbaresco quality as high as possible. The result is an extraordinarily balanced and concentrated wine with great acidity that carries the fruit through the finish and adds brightness to the wine. The nose boasts intense wild berries and red cherry aromas. The palate is fresh, dense and juicy and red fruit flavors linger for a while in the silky finish. Very approachable now, this wine may benefit from 2-4 years cellaring.
Food Pairing: enjoy it with rosemary-flavored roasted lamb, garlic and parsley sautéed mushrooms.
Info taken from their www.produttoridelbarbaresco.com
LeDom du Vin
I hope that you will enjoy reading about all of these different wines as much as I enjoyed tasting them.
With this blog, I'm hoping to share with you my passion for wine, food, traveling, photos and much more. Being a Wine Director - Wine Buyer - Sommelier allows me to taste from 6,000 up to 8,000 wines a year. Therefore, every week, or at least as often as I can, I will update this blog and write some posts about wines that I loved or found intriguing, and that I have tasted and bought for the store where I work.
I tend to taste and buy small artisanal, expressive wines, often organic and biodynamic, that have refreshing, vivid acidity, great balance and focus, present yet integrated tannins, and especially that reflect the true characteristics of their Terroir of origin and invite you for another glass. Because at the end of the day, the most important and appealing thing about a good wine, more especially if it is a good bargain, is that you want to drink another glass of it just after you finished the first one.
I'm known for dissecting the wine apart. Like a surgeon, I examine, analyze and try to comprehend every single component of each tasted wine with the 4 best tools that nature has created: brain, vision, smell and taste, in order to describe it the best way possible and especially to define its quality.
My notes and comments are purely and solely personal, they only reflect my opinions and shouldn't in any case influence your way of tasting or your opinion about the described wine. Remember that tasting is very subjective and personal, and you will probably disagree with some of the wines that I tasted.
I just hope that you will enjoy learning a bit more about some of these wines that you may have never heard of or that you hesitated to buy because of lack of information and knowledge about it and about the region it comes from.
So sit down, open your mind and wake your taste buds, relax, think about something nice and positive, appreciate the moment for what it is and for what it brings to you, and enjoy the ride.
LeDom du Vin (aka Dominique Noël; aka "The Wine Surgeon"; aka "The wine dissector")