Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tasting Session: Joe Dressner, Savio Soares and Blake from Rosenthal (1st part: Joe Dressner)

Today was my lucky day, work-wise, 3 of my favorites importers / distributors came to the store. 

The first one was Joe Dressner, famous in the US and in France for years for bringing exclusive, small, artisanal, esoteric, and mostly true to their Terroir of origin, organic and biodynamic French wines in the United States. It was the first time that I met him and the guy matches the legend and especially his website writings (go to his website and you will see what I mean, to verify it, if you don't believe me, go to www.joedressner.com). 

I could write a few pages about him, but it will be boring and some people already wrote a lot about him... so let's just say that he is a great guy, and I wish that more people in this industry could follow his example by bringing great wine discoveries that could be enjoyed by everybody (connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs). 

I should probably write this in an other post, but along with Dressner, other people like Kermit Lynch, Rosenthal, Savio Soares, Jenny & Francois, Liz Willette, Wineberry, Fruit of the Vines, Village Wine (to name a few) and about 4 dozens more under the radar small importers/distributors are proudly filling the New York market with incredible rare gems from Europe at very good price (see my post on my favorite wine importers/distributors). 

However, let's go back to the tasting. Just about a week after celebrating Louis/Dressner 20th anniversary with a big tasting last Tuesday, October 21st, Lee Campbell (his sales rep. for the store) and Joe Dressner (the man himself) introduced us to the following wines: 

1)     2006 Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet-de-Sevre-et-Maine-sur-Lie "Clos des Allees" Loire Valley France 
Suggested retail price $13-$16
Imported or Distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC

Joe Dressner was explaining to us that, along with Marc Olivier from Domaine de La Pepiere (which is another one of my favorites Muscadet imported by Louis/Dressner and distributed by Polaner Selections in NYC), Pierre Luneau-Papin is surely one of the top best producers of Muscadet. 

"Clos des Allees" has a very distinctive green label (you'll will understand when you'll see it). The wine is organic, made from 60 years old vines (with no clones) planted on schist soils. The wine is bottled with barely no filtration which explain its slight dull aspect. 

Made from hand harvested 100% Melon (de Bourgogne) grapes (like all Muscadet wines for those of you who may have thought that Muscadet was also the grape... not to be mistaken with Muscat or Muscadelle),      

2006 Clos des Allees Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur Lie has a slightly cloudy robe. The nose exposes fresh notes of apple, oranges zest and citrus. The palate is fairly round yet refreshing and light, with easy balance and fairly good length. It is very lemony, almost like a soft citrus juice with a bit of the pulp. Somewhat raw, this organic wine is like a good soft lemonade during a warm summer day. I like it a lot. Drink it as an aperitif and with light appetizers.   

2)     2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" white VdT de L'Ardeche France
Suggested retail price $19-$23 
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC 

Ok, before anything else, here are a few things that will (or may) help you (or even confuse you more) to understand the label of this wine. 

So, at first, you may have some difficulties to make the relation between the pigs, the names on the label and the wine. Well, to translate it, "Les Champs Libres" means "The Liberated or Free Fields"; "Lard, des Choix" refers to the pigs because "Lard" is the French word for pig's fat and "des Choix" means "of choices" or "the choices" (Fat pig of choice), somehow "Lard, des Choix" is also a play-on-words which really means "L'Ardechois" (which is the name for the peolple living in Ardeche: the area where the wine come from, located within the Rhone-Alpes region). 

Basically, the owners must have had a good time and a good laugh putting that label together. No wonder why Joe Dressner chose a wine with such a label.   

Les Champs Libres is a partnership between Rene-Jean Dard (from Dard & Ribo: famous producer of St. Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, etc...) and Herve Souhaut (Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet and Sainte Epine, wines available from Jenny & Francois Selections -World Wide Wine-, also another one of my favorite small importers of organic and biodynamic wines from France). 

2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" white Rene-Jean Dard and Herve Souhaut managed to create a great VdT (Vin de Table) made predominantly of Grenache Blanc. Here again, the wine is cloudy and even more dull in aspect than the previous the above described Muscadet. The nose is even more expressive and zesty. The palate is raw, fat, dense, rich and intense yet super bright, balanced with vivid acidity and marked flavors of citrus, lime zest and unripe white peach, and hints of minerals. With an excellent texture and length, the refreshing acidic finish is exceptionally crisp with a likable touch of bitterness (almost like a freshly squeezed lemon juice). 

This organic wine is raw, pure, untouched and somehow fascinating. I loved it. Pair it with raw shellfish and unseasoned grilled fish, you will not need any lemon, it is already in the wine.  

3)     2007 Les Champs Libres "Lard, des Choix" red VdT de L'Ardeche France
Suggested retail price $18-$21
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC   

Here again like the white previously described above, this Syrah and Gamay blended wine is raw, unfiltered and organic, with a dull, cloudy color. The nose is clean, fruity and discreet (compare to the white) with red and dark cherry aromas mixed with hints of spice and a smoky touch. The palate is fairly fruity (and no, I do not mean sweet for the 100th times), earthy, juicy and spicy with a good tannic structure, interesting texture and length. 

Overall, I liked it but was less impressed than I was by the white, especially at this price. The downsides are the slightly disjointed acidity and a slight trace of green bitterness in the finish. Somewhat esoteric, this wine needs food to round up some its angularities. Wine-geeks to your glass!

4)    2007 Thierry Puzelat "La Tesniere" Touraine Pineau D'Aunis Loire Valley France
Suggested retail price $19-$23
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC 

First, I need to say that I'm a huge fan of Loire wines (whites and reds), but I'd also like to stress that Thierry Puzelat has been one of my favorite Touraine producers for the past 6-7 years. 

Pineau D'Aunis is a red grape variety, referred to as a red version (or red sibling) of the Chenin Blanc also called by some wine growers Chenin Noir. Once popular during medieval times and largely planted in the region of Touraine, Saumur and Anjou, and bottled on its own, this grape variety is now often uprooted to plant more financially attractive grapes. Often blended with Cabernet Franc and other Loire red grapes (or even with white grape like Arbois, not to be mistaken with the region of the same name in the Jura, to make rose in Cheverny) it adds sharpness, spiciness and light esoteric character like pencil lead notes. 

Only a few temerarious winemakers and growers like Thierry Puzelat continue to dare exploring the limit of this unique grape variety. 

2007 Thierry Puzelat "La Tesniere" Touraine is made of 100% Pineau D'Aunis, planted on clay mixed with silex stones. It is raised and vinified with Organic and Biodynamic methods, then ageing occurs in regular oak barrels (225L / 59.43 Gallons) and demi-Muids (large oak barrel of 600L / 158.50 Gallons) for better homogenization and integration. The wine was bottled without filtration. The best nature can do (with Thierry's touch of course) is in the bottle.

Due to no fining nor filtration before bottling, the color is light, slightly amber, dull and cloudy (do not panic, it is normal and in this tasting, all wines were unfiltered...). The nose is peppery and spicy, with unripe dark wild berries, touch of minerals and dry pencil lead hints. The palate is light, smoky, spicy, juicy, somewhat funky and slightly bitter with rustic edges, yet it is clean, balanced and intriguing, with great acidity. 

A nice discovery in my opinion, that will excite the taste buds of my fellow wine lovers and wine-geeks. Definitely far from the over-ripeness-jaminess-in-your-face of some Californian and Australian wines, this wine is a must taste and a food friendly gem from the Loire. Somewhat rustic for some palates, it may not please everybody but some people may venture with pleasure in this nearly forgotten red grape variety. 

(also try, if you can, an other lesser known red grape called Counoise from Domaine de Monpertuis, distributed by Rosenthal. The 2005 is definitely worth it). 

5)    2007 Olivier Riviere "Rayos Uva" Rioja Tinto Spain 
Suggested retail price $14-17
Imported or distributed by Louis/Dressner in NYC

Olivier Riviere is a french winemaker, Bordelais (let's say that he studied in Libourne on the right bank near St. Emilion, so I assume that he is a Bordelais), expatriated in Rioja, making fantastic, organic (tending towards Biodynamic methods) value wines from Rioja Alta. It is pure juice, organic and unoaked (in the case this wine).

As Joe Dressner will say: "That's right, no yeasts, no enzymes, no fake concentration, no Parker points!"

He founded the winery in 2006 and this 2007 is his first vintage. He decided to start this project after learning his winemaking methods from renown winemakers like: Elian da Ros (Chante Coucou, Cotes du Marmandais, Southwest of France), Domaine Leroy (Burgundy, France) and Telmo Rodriguez (Spain). 

He produces different cuvees from 35 to 100 years old vines and ages some of his wines in partly used Burgundy oak barrel to minimize the wood taste. He mostly concentrates all of his efforts in the vineyard to obtain high quality grapes and to produce great, healthy wine with minimal intervention in the cellar. 

2007 Olivier Riviere "Rayos Uva", his first attempt, is a Rioja Tinto made with 79% Tempranillo and 21% Garnacha raised and vinified in stainless steel tanks to keep the maximum expression and the freshness of the fruit aromas and flavors. The color is quite dark and vibrant. The nose is clean, fruity and engaging. The palate is medium bodied, with good ripe red and dark cherries and juicy texture. Notes of cherries, earth and spice characterize the dry, fruity finish. 

Overall, this is a nice, balanced and rounded wine which encourages me to taste the next step-up cuvees. I've been a Rioja lover for the past 10-12 years and visited Rioja each year for the past 6-7 years, and I hope to be able to visit this winery during my next trip. I think Rioja's drinkers should keep an eye on Olivier Riviere's wines. 

LeDom (du Vin)

To be continued... for the other 2 wine importers/distributors Savio Soares and Rosenthal tasting session.       

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tasting Session: Domaine Select 10.21.08 with Zarate Albarino


The second winery that we tasted with Alison from Domaine Select was: Zarate.

Eulogio Pomares Zarate, the owner / winemaker, was here to introduce his wines and explain what differentiate his Albarinos from one to another.

Founded in 1920, by Eulogio's grand father, Don Ernesto Zarate, Bodegas Zarate was one of the pioneer estate in Rias Baixas to elaborate high quality Albarinos in the Valley of Salnes.

Located in Galicia, in the north-western part of Spain and directly north of Portugal. Although it only received the DO status in 1988, Rias Biaxas has always been producing wines. The wine presence date approximately from the XII century and came in part from the presence of the Cistercian monks and the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela.

Val do Salnes (or Valley of Salnes) is the largest and one of the oldest of the 5 sub-zones that constitute the appellation. The other ones are: O Rosal, Condato de Tea, Soutomaior (since 1996) and Ribeira do Ulla (since 2000, not to be mistaken with its neighbors Ribeira Sacra DO or Ribeiro DO, also in Galicia). Due to its proximity to the coast and oceanic climate, Val do Salnes is one of the coldest areas of Rais Baixas, with high rainfall and wet winter.

Although O Rosal and Condato de Tea were making very characteristic Albarino wines in their own styles before, Val do Salnes has become, somewhat recently, the capital of Albarino and the benchmark reference for the appellation. Although most of the white wines of Rias Baixas are made with 100% Albarino grapes, other white grapes like Treixadura, Loureira Blanca and Godello are also authorized (but in small quantity). The blend of those different grapes is more current in the DO of Ribeiro.

Zarate is now an estate of 7-8 hectares owned by the same family for the past 3 generations. The average age of the vines is 35 years old. Some of their wines are produced by parcel selection or single vineyard selection in order to improve the quality and offer different types of Albarino, reminiscent of their terroir, exposition and micro-climate of origin, at all price level. They do not buy any fruit from other producers.

Eulogio perfected the vineyards, the cellar and some of the technics but overall continues to follow his grandfather's winemaking tradition and convey the same passion.

We tasted:

2007 Zarate Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $12-$16
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

It is the entry level wine from Zarate. 40,000 bottles were produced. The wine is bright, zesty and mineral on the nose. The palate is clean, very balanced with beautiful length and a lot of mineral through out the attack and the mid-palate due to the granite soil of the area.

Overall and despite the fact that I love Albarino wines and most Galician whites, it is a very good wine for the price and also for an entry level. The rare long established family business like Zarate make usually greater wines that the newer, bigger wineries or even the cooperatives that sell in bulk, and Zarate is no exception to the rule. This wine is great.

2005 Zarate "Tras da Vina" Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $16-$20
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

This wine made out of grapes coming from vines planted on sandy soils. It was fermented then aged in stainless steel tanks for 30 months on its lees (yes, that's right, 2 years and a half). Like for a Muscadet sur Lie from the Loire Valley, the lee ageing brings complexity and depth without altering the sharpness and vivacity of the wine.

The wine is very expressive on the nose. Here again, one can smell a lot of mineral with more distinctive notes of golden apple, yellow-white fruit, white blossom. The palate conveys the same kind of flavors with more unripe peach, citrus and hints of grass (slightly vegetal but in a good way). The mid-palate and fairly long finish boast great, vivid, high acidity with sharp edges.

Overall, it is a lovely wine, wine geeks and Sommeliers oriented. The freshness and slightly esoteric attitude of this wine should excite more than one taste bud in a connoisseur palate. A great discovery for a passionate Sommelier like me (even if I'm not working in restaurant no more..).

2006 Zarate "El Palomar" Albarino Rias Baixas Galicia Spain
Suggested retail price $38-$42
Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Coming from the oldest parcel of their vineyard, El Palomar is almost what we call in France a "Monopole" wine (one winery, one parcel, one wine). Eulogio pays a lot of attention to this wine and the resulting nectar is quite delightful, I must say.

After being carefully selected and hand harvested, the grapes and the juice are gently put into used, somewhat neutral, large oak "Foudre" of 1,500 liters (396,26 gallons). The wine stays on its lees in the same Foudre for approximately 6 months without any racking, then suddenly the malolactic fermentation occurs (yes, yes, 6 months later...and this is no BS). Once the Malo is finished, the wine is finally racked (and somehow naturally fined in the same time) then put back into the Foudre for another 6 months before bottling.

The resulting wine is (in my opinion) one of the finest Albarino that I tasted over the last 2-3 years. It boasts aromas of white peach, white blossom, hearty golden apple and loads of minerals. The palate shows lovely concentration and depth with the same intense flavors as on the nose and excellent balance with vivid acidity. The oak touch is barely noticeable and really integrated, adding some complexity to this awesome wine.

Overall, this wine is somewhat reminiscent of a high quality Bordeaux or even a Great Burgundy in therms of density, weight and length but with higher acidity, brighter attitude and fresher finish. I love it and will recommend it on Lobster dish or Galician fish in sauce.

Thank you for your wines Eulogio and see you at the winery during my next trip in Spain.

LeDom (du Vin)

For more info, visit the following website: www.albarino-zarate.com and www.domaineselect.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tasting Session: Domaine Select 10.21.08 Belondrade y Lurton Clarisa and Apolonia 2007

Hi everybody, 

Alison from "Domaine Select" (the importer) came to introduce me to two of her portfolio's producers from Spain: Didier Belondrade Lerebours from Belondrade Y Lurton (Rueda) and Eulogio Pomares from Zarate (Rias Baixas); both producers of great white wines. 

With Didier Belondrade Lerebours, I tasted:

2007 Quinta Clarisa Tempranillo Vina de la Tierra de Castilla Y Leon Spain 
Suggested retail price $19-$22
Imported & Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Name after Didier's daughter, Clarisse, this wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes planted on stony, clay and sand soil and subsoils. It was hand harvested on 7-10 years old vines from a vineyard called "La Seca" located next to Valladolid (Ribera del Duero). It was vinified in stainless steel tanks to preserve the characteristics and aromas of the fruit. 2000 was the first vintage for this wine. They produce roughly 7,000 bottles a year. 

The color is light to medium, clear and bright. The nose is quite expressive and fruity with notes of raspberry, ripe cherry and earth in a very mellow way. The palate has very good fruit and balance. It is pretty well rounded, light to medium bodied and fruit-rich yet balanced with a long finish and a lovely texture.

Overall, the wine is pleasant experience from end to finish, with good earthy tannic structure. It is not the most complex wine, but it is very versatile and will sure withstands any kind of everyday food: from charcuterie to tapas to grilled meat. 

2007 Quinta Apolonia Verdejo Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Y Leon 
Suggested retail price $20-$24
Imported and Distributed by Domaine Select in NYC

Made from 100% Verdejo, this wine was vinified and ageing for a short period of time in stainless steel tank. It also received 20% of the first wine (if I can call it a first wine, because both of those wines are totally different...) called Belondrade Y Lurton Verdejo Rueda which is aged in 1/4 new French oak barrel (Radoux, Francois Freres, etc...) of 300L (66 gallons) to minimize the oak influence and enhance the wine complexity without affecting the fruit flavors. They produce 35,000 bottles of this wine while they produce about 80,000 bottles of Belondrade y Lurton.

The color is clear, pale yellow with light golden reflects on the rime. The nose is rich, mineral and floral, with ripe lemon and white peach aromas. The palate is very well rounded, clean, integrated, rich, medium to full bodied and unctuous with hints of spice. The finish has a slight touch of oak yet it adds length and weight to this wine.    

Overall, this wine is round,rich and quite lush. I liked it very much but I think that the price could be a bit lower (same for the Clarisa by the way, although I can understand because the red is a small production).  It will pair well with grilled fish or in sauce. 

LeDom (du Vin)

To be continued...

2006 Chateau de Gaudou 1733 "Gaudou" Malbec Cahors France (Fabrice Durou)

2006 Chateau du Gaudou "1733 Gaudou" Malbec Cahors France (Fabrice Durou)
Suggested retail price $8-$12
A Vinotas Selection distributed by USA Wine Imports in NYC

Fabrice Durou's family has been making fine wines in Cahors at Chateau de Gaudou (southwest of France) since 1733, hence the date on the front label as a tribute to his family's tradition and passion for winemaking. The Burge were the first landowner with vineyards history going back to the 17th century. By marriage, the owner's name change to Durou et remained until today.

At the begining of the 60s, Rene Durou perfected and extended the family vineyards to its present size. 86 acres (approximately 35 hectares) of Malbec planted on gravel-rich hillsides with great exposition and ideal micro-climate to obtain full ripeness of the grapes. Rene's vineyards management techniques and winemaking passion subsisted through Fabrice, his son, who is now in charge of the estate and making the wine.

FYI: I was surprise to discover that on their website the label of this wine has nothing to do with the label above. Therefore for some of you who may have tasted this wine in France or UK, and didn't recognized the label in the US market, I can confirm that it is the same wine but with a different label (much more modern and appealing in my opinion, the old one is definitely old fashion).

2006 Gaudou 1733 Cahors Malbec is a nice full, rich, earthy wine. It boasts a quite expressive nose of ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, earth and hints of tar. The palate is dark, medium to full bodied, with lots of ripe black fruits and raspberry notes and mellow, present yet integrated tannins that add great structure to this very approachable Cahors. The finish is fairly dense, earthy and long.

Overall, I loved this wine. It is a fruity, quite dense, well rounded, pleasing Cahors that has very good acidity to balance the fruit and non-astringent, earthy tannins that nicely frame the palate.

A pretty versatile wine to drink with grilled meat, pasta, pizza and cheese. As a French guy, I will drink it over a "Cassoulet" from Castelnaudary or a "Saucisse de Toulouse et lentilles cuitent dans la graisse d'oie" (two of my favorite wintery recipes in the world).

LeDom (du Vin)

Check out their website for more info: www.chateaudegaudou.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo IGT Marsala Sicilia

GRILLO - Pietratagliata

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo Bianco IGT Marsala Sicilia (Sicily)
Suggested retail price $10-$13
Imported and Distributed by Monarchia Matt International in NYC

Located in Marsala, western part of Sicilia, Casa Vinicola Manzo is a family business that benefit from more than 50 years of experience in producing high quality Sicilian wines. The Manzo family always believed in the tremendous potential of their land. They've been producing expressive wines that reflect the Terroir and the true character of the grapes.

In 2000, Vito and Giacomo Manzo launched a new project called Pietra Tagliata, based on the old historical family cellar in Marsala. They produce wines out of nearly 50 hectares of vineyards near by, planted on gently rolling hills a few kilometers inland from the Port of Marsala and the Mediterranean Sea. They produce 2 whites with Grillo and Insolia, and 3 reds with Nero D'Avola, Merlot and Syrah.

Grillo (along with the Insolia and the Catarratto grape) is a white grape variety which withstands the high temperatures and harsh growing condition of Sicily. It is wildly planted and used in Sicilian winemaking, especially for Marsala. The indigenous grape Grillo and Insolia are the most appropriate grapes to grow on the limestone soils an subsoils of Marsala and Trapani.

2007 Pietra Tagliata Grillo Bianco IGT Marsala Sicilia (Sicily) is made out of 100% Grillo grape, cold fermented in stainless still tank to enhance the fruit, keep the freshness and preserve the aromatics of the grape. It has a pale golden yellow color. The nose is clean, fresh, earthy, somewhat minerals with ripe, stony, yellow fruit aromas enlightened by a light oxidative touch reminiscent of honey and nut. The palate is medium to full bodied yet crisp and balanced with a persistent mouthfeel. Ripe yellow fruit and nutty flavors linger in the finish.

Overall, it is a very good discovery, the wine is rich yet bright with a lovely wintery attitude. Try it with fresh fish baked "a l'etouffee" with herbs and other aromatics or "en Sauce". It will also be an ideal companion to cheese.

LeDom (du Vin)

More info on their website at www.pietratagliata.it

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga DOC Piedmont Italy

Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga 2004

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga DOC Piedmont Italy
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Distributed by Artisan Wines in NYC

The estate of Fratelli Alessandria is a charming XVIII century house boasting a simple, elegant yet imposing architecture, located near the historic center of the hill-top village of Verduno, north of Barolo and southwest of Barbaresco and Alba.

The winery was created by the beginning of the XIX century and received 2 gold medals "for improvement in the wine making ...method.....and for the successful expedition of their wines overseas."

Today, the owner Gian Battista together with his wife Flavia, his brother Alessandro and his son Vittore proudly carry on their ancestors' tradition and passion for winemaking.

The estate stretches over 12 hectares owned by the family over some of the best crus in Verduno and Monforte. Most of them yield Nebbiolo grapes, but the family also concentrates on all local grape varieties such as Dolcetto, Barbera and the rare, indigenous red grape Pelavegra which is only to be found in Verduno. They also have two white grapes: the local Favorita and the international Chardonnay.

They produce about 12 wines: Barolo, Barolo San Lorenzo, Barolo Monvigliero, Barolo Gramolere, Langhe Rosso Rossoluna, Langhe Nebbiolo Prinsiot, Barbera D'Alba, Barbera D'Alba Superiore Priora (not to be mistaken with the village of Priora located east of Turino and especially not with the DOC Priorat in Catalonia, Spain), Dolcetto D'Alba, Langhe Favorita, Langhe Chardonnay Buscat, and our focus of today, Verduno Pelaverga.

Verduno Pelaverga is made of grapes harvested from 7 years old vines spread out in 4 different vineyards planted on the slopes surrounding the hill-top village of Verduno: Galleria, Sut Jort, Semolino and Buscat. The total planted area with this particular grape is 1.8 hectares of vineyards with roots in calcareous slimy limestone.

The grapes were hand harvested, then macerated-fermented for 6-8 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The ageing process took place partly in stainless steel tanks and partly in cement tanks for 6-8 months before bottling (no oak at all), the wine rested for another 1-2 months in horizontally laid bottles. They produce about 9,000 bottles (or 750 cases of 12 bottles) which makes this wine even a better value when you see the price for the number of bottles produced.

2006 Fratelli Alessandria Verduno Pelaverga expresses the unique typicality of this rare grape and the quality of the Terroir it come from. It has a bright, light ruby color. The nose boasts aromas of bright red cherry, raspberry, hints of green and minerals. The palate is medium bodied, bright, sharp with a vivid acidity and some non aggressive yet slightly green tannins. Not as complex or structured, and lighter than a Burgundian Pinot Noir nor as fruity or expanding as a Barbera, Pelaverga seems to be a good compromise between these two grapes.

A bit too sharp for my palate, I will have loved to see a bit more fruit, length and complexity, and even balance. However, it was the first time I tasted a Pelaverga, and the overall experience was quite interesting, but I need to taste more of them to be able to appropriately judge the quality of this wine. It will definitely please amateurs of slightly esoteric, light red with racy acidity (winegeeks to your glass!)

LeDom (du Vin)

Info taken from Fratelli's website: www.fratellialessandria.it

2006 Domaine Fichet Bourgogne pinot Noir "Tradition" France

Domaine Fichet Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2006 12x750ml

2006 Domaine Fichet Bourgogne Pinot Noir "Tradition" Maconnais France
Suggested retail price $14-$17
Distributed by T-Edward Wines in NYC 

At last, a good Burgundy Pinot Noir for less than $20 on the shelves. One can find affordable, interesting, fruity Pinot Noir from the Languedoc or even light, fresh, earthy Pinot Noir from the Loire, but finding a good Burgundy in this price range became quite difficult over the last 3-4 years. 

Nestled in the commune of Ige, northwest of Macon, Domaine Fichet was created in 1976 by Francis and Christiane Fichet. It is now run by their two sons, Pierre-Yves (winemaker) and Olivier (vineyard manager), who took over in 1988. They have since increased the size of the vineyard from 11 to 20 hectares and significantly raised the quality level of their wines. 

Well known for their white wine "Macon Ige Chateau London", one of the oldest and most reputable Terroir in Maconnais, they also produce great reds blended with grapes coming from 30 years old vines planted by Francis and from 15 years old vines planted by Pierre-Yves in 1994. Francis was one of the first pioneers who planted Pinot Noir in a highly dominant Chardonnay region.        

Pierre-Yves and Olivier Fichet bottled a nice, fresh little wine full of earthy, red cherry notes on the nose. The palate is really approachable for a 2006, somewhat simple yet quite inviting, well structured and balanced. The acidity plays a key role here and enhances the Burgundian Terroir quality of this wine. Even the tannins are well integrated. Overall, the fruit is soft, rounded, making this light bodied wine a pleasant surprise. To drink on simple dish with white meat: chicken, turkey and pork.

LeDom (du vin)  

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My music evolution over the last 35 years..

Today, I woke up with "Music" (John Miles, Jazz/Rock) in my head. Suddenly, I wanted to listen some old songs, bring back some memories hidden somewhere in my brain. 

"True" song (Spandau ballet, slow rock) and other songs by some of my favorite 70s and 80s bands and singers like: 

Rock: U2, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Doors, Rolling Stones, Toto, Chicago, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Police, Joe Cocker, Eagles, Kiss, Aerosmith, Eurythmics, Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Guns N'Roses, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Bowie, Robert Plant, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Yes, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and more....       

Rock/New Wave/ Neo romantic: Depeche Mode, The Cure, OMD, and more... 

R&B/Soul/Funk: Sade, Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Kool and the Gang, Earth-Wind and Fire, Gill Scott-Heron, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Terence Trent d'Arby, Marvin Gaye, Commodores, Bobie Brown, Lionel Richie,  The Jackson family, Bobby McFerrin, Donna Summer, Soul to Soul and more...   

Pop/Rock: Simple Minds, Beatles, Tears for Fears, Simply Red, Frankie goes to Hollywood, The Smiths, Queen, John Lennon, A-Ha, Talk-Talk, Beach Boys, Blondie, Culture Club, Elton John, B52's, Genesis, Cutting Crew, Peter Gabriel, Duran Duran, Fine Young Canibals, R.E.M, Murray Head, Simple Minds, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Supertramp, Soft Cell, Paul McCartney, Madness, INXS, George Michael, Huey Lewis and the News, Madonna, Paul Young, Mr. Mister, Sting, Level 42, Midnight Oil, Erasure and more...  

Hard Rock/ Metal: Metallica, Iron Maiden, ACDC, Trust, and more... 

Rock/Reggae: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, UB40, Alpha Blondy, Burning Spear, and more...    

Jazz from various times: Miles davis, Herbie Hancock, Max Roach, Charlie Mingus, Dizzy Gillepsie, Telonious Monk, Fats Navarro, George Benson, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett Trio, Michel Petrucciani, Sinatra, and more...       

As usual, I put my Ipod on and started listening to some of my favorites tunes on my way to "Take the A train" (Duke Ellington, Jazz). 

The train arrived, I set down and all of us were going "Somewhere only we know" (Keane, Pop/Rock). All trying to avoid the looks, "Eye in the sky" (The Allan Parsons Project, Rock), or should I say down in our book, playstation, Ipod or up on the advertisement and the ceiling of the wagon. 

Everybody trying to "Enjoy the Silence" (Depeche Mode, Rock), lost in their thoughts, squeezed and surrounded by too many people, and somewhat already disturbed by the smells while "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" (U2, Rock) on my Ipod. 

Switching through the many songs and artists, I thought about the early 90s and how I came to fall into the Electronica / Dance movement growing up rapidly in the heart of this rebel teenager that I was. Computers started to urge the pace and were spreading around the world. 

A new method of communication and information was born, somewhat accelerating the beat of our everyday life and the rhythms on the dance floor evolving from Punk, Grunge, Hard rock, to Rock, to New Wave, Gothic New Romantic, Alternative, then Acid House, House, Dance, Ambient, Chill-out, Techno, Dance, Atmospheric to be finally known up until now as electronic or electronica. 

A band has really marked my life by the mid 90s and remains one of my favorites bands of all times: Faithless (thanks to the lyrics of Maxi Jazz, the music of Sister Bliss, and the mix/production of Rollo, and of course all of the great artists that worked with them). So many of their songs and beats have inspired my life and my actions in many ways. This band kept me going strong and somehow influenced me physically on the dance floor and spiritually every day of my life. It brought me energy.    

Amongst my favorites bands of the 80s, quite a few continued to please me during the 90s (U2, Depeche Mode, etc...). However, there were quite a few other bands and singers that I loved. 

They are still very important for me to this day and bring back a lot of memories to my mind (good and bad): 

Massive Attack, Radiohead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Nirvanna, Simply Red, Eagle Eye Cherry, Garbage, R.E.M, Duran Duran, Seal, Lenny Kravitz, Fat Boy Slim, Chemical Brothers, The Verve, Oasis, Beastie Boys, Finley Quaye, Travis, Everything but the girl, Foo fighters, Moby, Prince, Jamiroquai, Bjork, Cardigans, Limp Bizkit, Chicane, Aaron Neville, Groove Armada, Jeff Buckley, Jestofunk, Keziah Jones, Royksopp and surely a few more...

The end of the 90s and early 2000s marked the beginning of a new era for me, first because I met my future wife and because it was the opening on a new millennium full of "Hopes and Fears" (Keane, Rock). 

The last 8 years brought a lot to my life in general and personally, because I moved to the United States in 2002 after nearly 5 years in England; I married my wife twice (2004 in New York, USA and 2005 in Bordeaux, France) and it resulted a beautiful child born in 2006. 

All these events were "rhythmed" by all sort of musics, sounds and beats...and the most memorable were and still are from bands like: 

Faithless, Keane, Depeche Mode, U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Bowie, Simply red, John Legend, Daft punk, Nouvelle Vague, Air, Blur, Beck, Blue States, Blue Six, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, Buena vista Social Club, Erykah Badu, Estelle, Gabrielle, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, Green Day, Jack Johnson, James Morrison, Michael bubble, Jehro, Korn, Mark Ronson, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Morrissey, Muse, Norah Jones, Queen Latifah, Seal, Sade, Scissor Sisters, Telepopmusik, Thievery Corporation, and many more...

I nearly forgot the french singers, bands and actors that inspired me over the last 35 years: 

Serge Gainsbourg, Henri Salvador, Cali, Benabar, Calogero, Manu Chao, Sinclair, MC Solaar, Alain Souchon, Sebastien Tellier, Charlelie Couture, Etienne Daho, Claude Francois, Yves Duteil, Jacques Dutronc, Raphael, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Arthur H, Michel Jonaz, Eddy Mitchell, Jeanne Moreau, Yannick Noah, Pascal Obispo, Florent Pagny, Jean-Louis Murat, Patricia Kaas, Julien Clerc, Telephone, Paul Personne, Gilbert Becot, Charles Aznavour, Leo Ferre, Yves Montand, Georges Brassens, Francis Cabrel, Jean-Michel Jarre, Laurent Voulzy, Edith Piaf, Charles Trennet, Bourvil, Fernandel, Maurice Chevalier, Boris Vian, Ray Ventura, Luis Mariano, Francis Lemarque, Claude Nougaro, Daniel balavoine, Coluche, Antoine, Carlos, Barbara, Guy Beart, Bobby Lapointe, Alain Bashung, Michel Berger,  Jacques Brel, et tellement d'autres....

Here are most of my favorites singers, bands and music artists of the last 35 years, I probably forgot quite a few and didn't necessarily wrote the name of some that only had one good songs through a short period of time. 

And I didn't mention Classic music, but I love: 

Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Vivaldi, Carl Orff: Carmina Burana, Chopin, Handel, Bach, Wagner, Brahms

As you can see, like when I buy wines for the store or for myself, I like to be eclectic and open minded with my music and in my life in general.     

I hope you agreed with me on some of the above artists, singers and bands, and if you didn't, it is fine too, because after all music is like wine, everybody has his own taste for it

LeDom (du Vin)           

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tasting Session: Savio Soares Selections 10.10.08 with Savio

Hi everybody, 

Savio came the other day with a few German wines, 3 that I found quite good:

2005 Weingut Ernst Clusserath "Emma Marie" Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken Trittenheimer Altarchen Mosel (former Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Germany
Suggested retail price $14-$17 
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

Clean, mineral and discreet nose. A bit lean in the palate but soft, refreshing and thirst quenching. Enhanced by a great acidity through out the attack and the mid-palate, the finish is fairly dry with a light touch of sweetness. Overall, interesting, not too long or too short, nice for the price. Good as an aperitif with appetizers.   

2006 HahnMuhle Riesling Traminer Spatlese ** Nahe Germany
Suggested retail price $14-$18
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

Quite expressive on the nose already, this wine is full, rich, complex, ripe with a touch of spiciness. The palate shows flavors of yellow fruit, apple and pear, minerals and hints of spices. Balanced, medium to full bodied, expansive, this Spatlese** (almost like a declassified Auslese) will be an ideal match with your Thanksgiving's Turkey. 

Overall, good if you like the richness of it, personally I like my Riesling lighter, fresher, with more minerals and acidity.  

2004 Weingut Georg Muller Stiftung Spatburgunder Trocken Hattenheim Rheingau Germany
Suggested retail price ... 
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections in NYC

FYI: Spatburgunder (or Blauer Burgunder) is one of the many synonyms used for the various types of Pinot Noir clones mainly planted in Germany (Rhein and Baden), Austria and Switzerland. It is supposed to have come originally from Egypt where it was probably planted along the banks of the Nil river, spread out in most western Europe by the Romans and probably imported in Germany from Burgundy, hence the name. Compare to its sibling in Burgundy, Spatburgunder is usually lighter in color, fruitier and softer in style, with less tannins.     

Description: 2004 Georg Muller Spayburgunder has a light pinkish, red color. The nose is quite distinctive, reminiscent of bitter almond, red ripe cherry, touch of blackberry and hints of green. The palate is soft, well rounded, medium to light, somewhat elegant yet earthy and a bit green but on a pleasing way. Not as bright nor complex or as long as a good Burgundy in this price range, this wine still offer a very good palate experience and seems riper than the color or even the nose suggested. There again, I think that it will be great with Thanksgiving's Turkey. 

LeDom du Vin   

2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay Jura France

2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay Jura France
Suggested retail price $19-$23
Distributed by Savio Soares Selections

Savio Soares, this always smiling, easy going Brazilian-living-in-Germany wine lover constantly brings great wines and his portfolio is as fun as eclectic. It is always a great pleasure to see his face because he has a great sense of humor and at least I know that (with him) I'm going to taste good to very good to excellent wines (which is not always the case with many other salesmen... no comment).

I used to buy his 2004 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay (that I loved by the way), but he ran out of it. So a few days ago, he passed by the store with the new vintage (2006) that I really enjoyed (even more than the 2004 vintage) and immediately bought.


2006 Gerard Villet Arbois Chardonnay (Jura France) is in my opinion better than the 2004 vintage. It still offer the same slightly oxidative, nutty notes with great minerals and earthy golden apple aromas on the nose and on the palate, but on a somewhat brighter, fresher style. The palate is slightly rustic, earthy, Terroir driven, harmonious and balanced by a great acidity. The finish is quite long and inviting. Overall, one will find substance, body, length, minerals and dry, earthy yellow fruit in this well rounded, medium bodied, autumnal white wine.

The wine is 100% organic, aged in old big oak barrels and didn't have any filtration prior to bottling. To discover absolutely this Fall or Winter with Fish in creamy sauce and veal stew with baked apples.

LeDom du Vin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Nouvelle Vague and Bande a part: just before Hollywood, Mon Amour

Hi everybody, 

FYI, listening to "Hollywood, Mon Amour" led me to discover two other great albums recorded prior "Hollywood, Mon Amour" by the same team, including the mastermind Marc Collin behind the concept. 

If you liked "Hollywood, Mon Amour", you should listen to "Nouvelle Vague: Nouvelle Vague" and "Nouvelle Vague: Bande A Part". Here again, the concept is to reconstruct and reinvent old classic Punk, Rock, New Wave, Indie, and more from the end of the 70's and the 80's with a zest of Bossa Nova, detached yet seriously involved female vocals and a hints of Chillout, Ambient,retro-house and a big touch of posh 50's and 60's lounge, cocktail party music.     

LeDom du Vin

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hollywood, Mon Amour: beautiful female voices sing some of the 80's classic

Hollywood, Mon Amour

Hollywood, Mon Amour is a great compilation of some of the best songs from the 80's, reinvented and sang by some of the most talented female artist voices of the moment: Yael Naim, Skye, Nancy Danino, Nadeah, Leelou, Katrine Ottosen, Juliette Lewis, Inga, Dea Li, Cibelle, Bianca Calandra (with of course the ingenuity and talent of Marc Collin).

This album delivers outstanding vocals complemented with tender, soft, ambiance music on some classic Rock, New Wave, Funk, R&B and more from the 80's.

People of my generation will surely appreciate it and recognize great songs of their youth: When Doves Cry - Prince; This is not America - David Bowie; Don't you (forget about me) - Simple Minds; and more...

It is a must buy in my opinion. It will bring a cool ambient atmosphere where ever you play it and will softly enhance a dinner with friends or a warm night with your partner and a good glass of wine.

For more info, go to their website at: www.hollywoodmonamour.com

There is also another website that you should pay a visit to. It is link with the above website and speaks about the original precursors and pioneers behind this new trend of transforming classic songs with new sounds and voices (orchestred by Marc Collin): www.nouvellesvagues.com

LeDom du Vin

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Home Drinking: 10.08.08

Tonight, I brought home 2 wines that I just discovered and really enjoyed.

2007 Capestrano Passerina Marche IGT Italy
2005 Lucie et Auguste Lignier Morey Saint Denis "Les Sionnieres" Burgundy France

When I went to the VIAS tasting at the Marriott Marquis last September, I unfortunately didn't have much time to taste (because that day I went to Jenny & Francois Selections / World Wide Wine, Martin Scott Wines, then VIAS just before ending the day at a Laboure-Roi tasting on the terrace of the China Club...). However, Donato from VIAS showed me a few things including a delightful little white made with an indigenous grape that I didn't know: Passerina (also known as Biancame).

FYI: Passerina (or Biancame) is an ancient white grape variety mostly planted on the east coast and central part of Italy. Capestrano is the name of a little village located in the mountainous province of L'Aquila, part of the Abruzzo region where they also produce wines with the Passerina grape.

Fact: Capestrano is (in the case of this wine, I think) just a name (that may or may not correspond to the village, I do not know), because the Passerina grapes used to make this wine come from the Marche region (the region above Abruzzo on the Adriatic coast). Strangely enough, it has been bottled in a winery called Peperoncino located in the village of Ripa Teatina, also located in Abbruzzo but closer to the coast than Capestrano...?!!?

So, to resume the situation, I think that this wine is made out of grapes harvested in the Marche region, but it has been vinified and bottled in Abruzzo.


2007 Capestrano Passerina Marche IGT Italy
Suggested retail price $9-$11
Imported and distributed by VIAS Wine imports

This is a fun little wine. The color is super light, ultra pale yellow, kind of transparent almost like water. On the nose, one can enjoy discreet (but expressive enough) fresh aromas of pear, apple, lemon with minerals. The palate is dry and light bodied. However, a light touch of fruitiness, a mix of ripe pear with peach and lemon mixed with minerals and balanced by a great acidity, make this wine very enjoyable, well rounded and quite versatile. Overall, it is simple, clean, crisp and fruity white wine (just a bit short in the finish). A good value for money and an ideal wine for thanksgiving as an aperitif with appetizers.

The 2nd wine was a fantastic

2005 Lucie et Auguste Lignier Morey Saint Denis "Les Sionnieres" Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $57-$62
Distributed by Liz Willette wines in NYC

The nose expresses ripe aromas of red cherries, raspberry with floral and earthy notes, somewhat rustic and quite characteristic of red Burgundy. The palate is elegant, medium bodied to light, really smooth with lovely ripe red cherry flavors, a good grip of acidity and some firm, present yet very integrated tannins. The finish is a bit dry and earthy somewhat adding texture and length. Overall, it has a good harmony and a balanced attitude between the fruit, the minerals and the acidity which make this wine a really enjoyable mid-range Burgundy. I personally liked it a lot and will definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good example of red burgundy in this price range.

I could tell you more about the property and its history, however I rather just suggest you to check this great, very informative website www.burgundy-report.com
or cut and past this link:
LeDom du Vin

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Home drinking: 10.07.08

2004 Chateau Musar "Musar" Cuvee Rouge Bekaa Valley Lebanon
Gaston Hochar et fils  (distributed in NYC by Lauber Imports)
Suggested retail price $14-$16

Have you ever tasted a wine from Lebanon? No? Well, in my opinion, you should at least try one once. Brands like Ksara, Massaya and Kefraya are making very good, consistent wines. However, one of my old time favorites is: Chateau Musar.   

So tonight, I came back home with a bottle of Musar Cuvee rouge 2004 (2nd wine of Chateau Musar) and I need to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I have been selling Chateau Musar for the past 10 years at least (in restaurants and retails) and I've always enjoyed it (even when some vintages were tannic, thin, dirty and tight...). However, it seems that the wine is even better and cleaner now than it has ever been. 

I remember drinking the 1991 by the late 90's, the wine was really earthy, slightly dull, full of sediments, very interesting but mostly for wine connoisseurs and wine geeks. It seems that this time has past and that Musar has evolved to please a much larger crowd (don't get me wrong, I didn't say that it was commercial, only that now even none wine connoisseurs will have a greater interest to taste it and appreciate it).

A blend of Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Syrah, produced with the same philosophy as the first wine, Musar Cuvee Rouge 2004 (which is the second wine of Chateau Musar), is a great little wine, juicy and very approachable. The color is light, bright ruby red. The nose is ripe with red cherry and wild dark berry aromas enhanced by floral and spicy notes. The attack on the palate is juicy, vivid and quite fruity (not as in sweet, but as in able to distinguish and taste the fruit flavors).  Overall, the balanced mid-palate offers great acidity and lovely flavors of wild red and black berries, with hints of purple flowers, leather and spices. The finish is fairly long, earthy with present yet integrated, refined tannins. I liked it a lot (and my wife too). 

It is a good compromise for somebody who is looking for a good, affordable, everyday drinking, earthy wine that is not too light not too heavy but has good structure, texture, freshness and character. It has a certain way to express the uniqueness of Lebanon Terroir. In a blind tasting, one could easily compare it, in some ways, to a Bordeaux, a Rioja or even a Tuscan wine. 

For some of you that stopped drinking Musar a few years ago for some of the bad flaws mentioned above or any other reasons, trust me, it is time to give Musar a second chance and realize how new technology and organic farming really increased the wine qualities of this famous winery. (Gaston Hochar has always used organic farming within the vineyards and during the vinification in the cellar, but the winery is now certified which should increase the image of the brand and generate more sales from the fast, growing organic wine buyers market).    

It will be interesting to taste the Chateau Musar 2004 (itself), but the current release is 1999, so we will have to wait a few more years. However, if it is (as usual) bigger, better, richer, longer and more complex than Musar Cuvee Rouge, the 2004 Chateau Musar should be great and worth waiting for it.   

for more info go to their website at: www.chateaumusar.com 


LeDom du Vin

Saturday, October 4, 2008

LeDom Selection of the month: October 2008

LeDom's Selection of the Month

October 2008

2005 Domaine D'Ardhuy Clos des Langres Monopole AOC Cote de Nuits Villages Burgundy France
Suggested retail price $40-$50

This wine was a great discovery for me when I tasted it last spring at a Wineberry Tasting with Eric Plumet, the Winemaker and Technical Director of Domaine d'Ardhuy. They also had some red Corton that were out of this world. I love the all line (nearly 30 wines that day) and despite the fact that some of the 2005 were very good, the 2006 vintage were (in my opinion) even better, more balanced with bright acidity, juicier fruit and more integrated tannins.

Amongst all the wine produced by Domaine D'Ardhuy, Clos des Langres Monopole seemed (to me) the best price point value of the all portfolio. They have a lot of wines starting around $30 going up to more than $100 a bottles, but in the $40-$50 trench, Clos des Langres was my favorite, offering body, structure, earthiness, balance and length. I loved and I love it. A bit tight, it definitely needs to be decanted or at least breath for half an hour. I tried it again about a week ago, and the more it opened up the better it was. After nearly 2 hours, it was fantastic.

I could tell you a bit more about the Domaine itself but they have a great website with very informative technical sheets about their wines. Check it out at www.ardhuy.com

2000 Senorio de San Vicente San Vicente Rioja Tempranillo Spain
Suggested retail price $40-$50

The Rioja wine region is a beautiful hilly valley following the Ebro river, protected by two mountain chains, the majestic Sierra Cantabria to the north and the Sierra de la Demanda to the south. Rioja stretches from the south of Basque country to Navarra.

Senorio de San Vicente is nestled in the heart of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a gorgeous hill-top XII century village of the Rioja region, surrounded by vineyards on slopes and overlooking the Ebro river. It is where the Ebro river and the Sierra Cantabria mountains meet, creating very favorable micro climates that contribute to the harmony and quality of the fruit and the Terroir. The diversity in soil and climate has led to a sub-division of this wine region into 3 distinct areas: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa.

Since 1870, from father to son, the Eguren family has been devoted to their vines and to the elaboration and ageing of their Rioja wines. These winemaking traditions and knowledge that can only be inherited from generation to generation, have been maintain, preserve and adapted to the latest technologies. Their passion and devotion for the art of wine making involve a constant desire for improvement with continuous attention to each steps: from finding great vineyards with the most ideal conditions to using modern tools in a clean and respectful environment and especially aged their wines until ready to fully satisfy the consumers.

For Senorio de San Vicente, it all started in 1985 when the Eguren family, bought a vineyard of 18 hectares (44.5 acres) called "Finca de la Canoca" near the village of San Vicente. They planted a nearly instinct, rare variety of Tempranillo called Tempranillo Peludo (also known as Furry Tempranillo).

Coming from one grape variety, one vineyard, one wine and one winery, the resulting wine is really charming, rich, complex and long. Aged for at least for 14 months in new oak barrels and aged further in the bottle in their cellar prior released for another 2 years, it is a very good wine that combines all the component of a great Rioja: ripeness, very good concentration, balance, freshness, elegance and a tremendous ageing potential with a very good tannic structure. It exhibits dark berry, red cherry and delicate floral aromas with profound dark chocolate, mocha, leather notes and hints of spice. The palate is dense and pack with present yet refined integrated tannins. It will definitely benefit a good hour of decantation.

LeDom du Vin

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wine Travel: T-Edward trip to Bordeaux 09.17.08 to 09.21.08 (4th part)

Friday 09.19.08

I forgot to mention that in the morning before visiting Chateau La Dominique, we went to Jean-Luc Thunevin's Negociant company warehouse in Saint-Magne de Castillon, which was a very good way for us to understand how Jean-Luc's company works. It was an interesting visit that allow us to see many cases of great wines from Bordeaux, but also from italy and Spain, ready to be shipped around the world.  


After Chateau La Dominique, we came back in the heart of the village of Saint-Emilion to have lunch at Logis de la Cadenne, a lovely bistro with terrace with one of the best grilled beef on vine shouts in Saint-Emilion (Bavette ou Entrecote a l'echalotte grillee sur sarments de vignes). 

We tasted with the lunch:

2001 Chateau la Clotte Saint-Emilion
Suggested retail price $45-$55

Floral, rose petal, touch of forest floor, leather, light hints of spice with bright red raspberry, cherry fruit. Slightly restraint, it was a bit tight and tannic but the food helped to round up some of the angles.  

and also:

2004 Chateau La Fleur Cardinale Saint-Emilion 
Suggested retail price $45-$55

Very expressive nose of blackberry, ripe raspberry, with hints of leather, licorice, spice. The palate is quite soft and tamed with a good texture and a good structure. Overall very enjoyable and quite open for a 2004 vintage with less tight tannins than I expected. 

We then headed to Pomerol to visit ex- Chateau Vieux Chateau Bourgneuf  renamed "Le Clos du Beau-Pere". 

To be continued...


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wine Travel: T-Edward trip to Bordeaux 09.17.08 to 09.21.08 (3rd part)

Friday 09.19.08

After our visit at Chateau Bel-Air Ouy, we went to Chateau La Dominique

Chateau La Dominique Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

Bought by the Fayat family in 1969, Chateau La Dominique is a beautiful property of 24 hectares of vineyards planted in a great Terroir surrounded by prestigious estates: Chateau Cheval Blanc Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe A (and surely one of the most well known Saint-Emilion in the world with -one of my favorite wines in the world- Chateau Ausone); but also Chateau La Conseillante and Chateau L'evangile a Pomerol. The vineyards are planted with approximately 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Since 2006, Jean-Luc's team is managing the property for the Fayat family and consult for the final blending with the help of Jean-Philippe Fort. Trained by Michel Rolland, he will replace him as a consultant for La Dominique and will be responsible for the final blend. 

We tasted: 

2006 Chateau La Dominique Saint-Emilion
Suggested retail price $35-$45

A blend 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, the 2006 vintage is quite floral, with hints of blackberry and cherry, mixed with leather, woody notes. Overall, it is fresh with very good fruit and acidity. The balance is very good and the tannins are young, present but fairly well integrated. Lovely. 80.000 to 100.000 bottles produced. 

As a more personal note, I will say that it was probably one of the best La Dominique I ever tasted. I've been tasting La Dominique for the past 10-11 years, en Primeur but also different vintages in many other occasions and I've never been a great fan of it. It was always lean, thin, dry, austere and often full of green tannins. 2006 is one of the first vintage of La Dominique that I found very good with a good harmony and elegant texture. For sure, the 2006 is not a fruit bomb and will never be, but so far and in my opinion, it is a much more concentrated, balanced and integrated version of any vintage that I tasted before. 

Let's hope Jean-Luc Thunevin and Jean Philippe Fort will revamp this wine and increase the quality, because as Jean-Luc told us when we visit the winery: "When you realize the quality of the soil and Terroir, and where the Chateau is located, you wonder how they never made a much richer, complex wine before. The wine was good but it will only get better and better" Let's say that now La Dominique is in good hands.  

We also tasted:

2001 Chateau La Dominique Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Suggested retail price $35-$45

There again, I found it quite floral, with expressive red berries notes on the nose. The palate was fresh, fruity without being too ripe, with very good acidity. The attack and mid-palate was quite soft and round, lifted by vivid acidity and enhanced by the woody texture. The finish has some fruit and earthy notes with dry, slightly green tannins. Overall, the wine was good but not great, may be it will take time to soften a bit. It will be interesting to taste it within 2-3 years, but It is sure that 2006 is a much better wine. 

To be continued...